Make driver's licenses more available

This is about changing the requirements for a New Jersey state driver’s license. There are many people in New Jersey who are prevented from driving because they cannot show proof of permanent residence, the homeless, victims of domestic violence, undocumented residents and people re-entering society after incarceration.
Having a driver’s license to use as an ID can help residents open a bank account, gain access to community services that can help them become independent, contribute to their community more fully, or get a new start in life. Not having a license makes it difficult to find and keep a job, get healthcare, care for family members and remain safe from abusive partners.

Assemblywoman Mila Jasey and Assemblyman John McKeon deserve our thanks for co-sponsoring NJ Assembly bill A4743 (identical to NJ Senate bill S3229). This bill relaxes the documentation required to obtain a standard basic driver’s license and also creates a non-driver identification card.

With appropriate supporting documentation, an applicant who is homeless, undocumented or the victim of domestic violence could use the address of a church or shelter when applying for the license.

Twelve other states and the District of Columbia have enacted new regulations similar to A4743. Requiring that all drivers in New Jersey are trained, insured and know the rules of the road is a matter of public safety.

A Connecticut study showed evidence that the number of hit and run accidents decreased when a similar law was passed. Measures like this are key to fostering independence for those who seek it but face barriers. A4743 would help remove those barriers. Please ask your legislators to support this bill.




Train fatalities at Watchung Plaza

Hello, thank you for giving the public more information than was published anywhere else. My son Tony Anastasopoulos, 17, was struck and killed in the same exact place as Mr. Stephen Korbel.

The NJ Transit engineer claimed he thought my son and his friends were playing "chicken" on the tracks and would jump out of his way when he was about to hit them.

My son was with his girlfriend, 16 and friend, 14 as the three made it over an open (then, in 2002 there were no trespassing signs) trestle with no platforms or small pathway to step aside in case a train was either moving towards the Watchung Station or going in the opposite direction to Montclair State University.

Last November, Joan Juengling, who worked at a dress shop in Watchung Plaza, was struck and killed again at the same spot. A Spanish teacher’s body was found dead in the early morning run and killed by a NJ Transit train, at the same spot.

A Montclair High School student four years ago was said to have committed suicide by standing in front of the NJ Transit on his lunch break from MHS, and headed towards Watchung Plaza.

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A cut above the rest and a fumble at the goal line
This is a follow-up letter dedicated to the memory of a pillar of the Montclair African American community Mr. Celess Young, the former owner of Young’s World of Beauty. He was a master barber, mentor and educator.

In November 2016, Mr. Young succumbed to his battle with cancer and went home to be with the Lord.

The intent of this letter is not to replay the many wonderful things that the community had to say about him or to highlight his exceptional attributes, but to deal with something that hasn’t happened since his passing.

In December 2016, the current owner of Young’s World of Beauty Mr. Marc Williams organized a memorial service in Mr. Young’s honor at St. Paul’s Baptist Church. His family traveled from South Carolina in a massive snowstorm to be there for the service. I was proud to be one of the speakers chosen by the family to deliver the eulogy.

Prior to the service, township officials spoke of the dedication and service that Mr. Young provided for Montclair. Several proclamations were issues and read. They were greatly appreciated by the family. At one point a township official stated that a plague in Mr. Young's honor would be mounted in the small park across from the barbershop on Orange Road in South End. This statement was not made as wishful thinking or pie in the sky, it was made as a matter of fact, signed, sealed and delivered. It was met with great applause by all who were in the church that day. As I write this letter two and a half years have gone by and there is no plaque in the park.

It is my opinion that you don’t make a promise at a memorial service to family and community that are mourning if you haven’t cut the red tape and cleaned the path of any obstacles that could prevent it from becoming reality in a timely fashion. We’re not talking about a monument, a new building or a holiday in his honor, so what's the problem and why the delay?

Every month in Montclair we see an official smiling and shaking hands at some groundbreaking ribbon cutting photo op dedicated to a project that will forever alter the landscape and decrease the percentage of racial diversity in town. We can’t get a plaque in a timely fashion for a man who served the African American community and mentored many young men for close to 50 years,

Mr. Young’s family and his widow deserves to see this come to pass before Mrs. Young joins her husband in the great bye and bye. Is that too much to ask?
On behalf of the patrons of Young’s World of Beauty, I’d like to apologize to his family that this has taken so long and to tell Mr. Young in heaven that we love him and miss him and may peace be with him. He deserved better than this.