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Latest News in Rockaway Borough, NJ

'The baby's coming now!' Morris mom delivers surprise with New Year's birth at home

Galaxy Veronica Mave Skolsky was not the first baby of 2023 to be born in Morris County. But her unscheduled and expedited arrival early Sunday morning certainly started the new year with a bang for her stunned family in Rockaway Township.Jennifer Skolsky went to bed early on New Year's Eve, feeling the discomfort of a pregnancy that was expec...

Galaxy Veronica Mave Skolsky was not the first baby of 2023 to be born in Morris County. But her unscheduled and expedited arrival early Sunday morning certainly started the new year with a bang for her stunned family in Rockaway Township.

Jennifer Skolsky went to bed early on New Year's Eve, feeling the discomfort of a pregnancy that was expected to conclude on Jan. 10. Waking the next morning to contractions at 6:50 a.m., she realized she would soon give birth.

Less than an hour later, while in the bathroom, "I stepped away from the toilet and reached down and held her head as my body expelled her into my hands," Skolsky said. "It was easy and painless. I pulled her up to me as Kyle [her husband] rushed over to wrap us in a towel."

The plan had been for Skolsky to deliver her third child at the Mount Olive birthing center of Midwives of Morris County, which had also delivered her daughter. But as her water broke and contractions intensified, Skolsky knew they would not make it in time from their home in the White Meadow Lake neighborhood.

"She hardly cried, but whimpered enough to let me know she was breathing clearly," Skolsky said. "She was a beautiful pink color and latched easily."

Rockaway EMTs arrived to check on the mother and her 7-pound, 15-ounce, 19.5-inch child. They stayed with them until the midwife arrived.

Her husband, Kyle, summed up his response in one word: "Panic."

"I was in full panic mode," he continued. "Jen was yelling from the other room, 'The baby's coming now!' I literally opened the door and the baby was delivered. The baby flew out of her and she caught her in the air literally as I opened the door to the bathroom. It was crazy."

He finally relaxed when he saw that the baby was moving and eventually made a little whimper.

"She opened her eyes and was moving around, and started nursing right away, so I figured she was OK," he said.

New Year's babies:North Jersey's first babies of 2023 are the 'perfect addition' for loving parents

More:From Passaic’s piñata to drag queens and Snooki, we drop everything on New Year’s Eve

His wife was OK, too.

"The adrenaline made me feel like I could run a marathon right after," Jennifer Skolsky said. "I still feel great."

The family, including Jennifer's son, Anikan, 10, and daughter Journie, 7, remained home for the remainder of the holiday weekend. By Tuesday, the couple were back to work as a real estate sales team for Century 21 Christel Realty in Rockaway.

"Because we are partners and work together, we never really stop," Jennifer Skolsky said. "I can do most of my work from home, and my husband can go out on appointments."

Galaxy Veronica Mave, quick to arrive, has already gained a nickname as well.

"A book we were reading had a name, 'Galaxy,' which was unique but had a more common nickname, 'Alex,' which we thought was cool," Kyle Skolsky said. "We came up with the nickname Lexi, which we like a lot."

For the record, at least one new baby beat Lexi into the new year in Morris County: a girl born at 12:31 a.m. on New Year's Day at Morristown Medical Center. Mother Vinoschandrika Gnanasekaran and father Sri Harsha Bokka of Budd Lake have not yet named their new child.

Saint Clare's Hospital in Denville did not immediately respond to an inquiry about its first baby of 2023.

William Westhoven is a local reporter for DailyRecord.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Columbus Day is back on the Rockaway Township school calendar

ROCKAWAY TOWNSHIP — School board officials voted to reinstate Columbus Day on the school calendar after Italian-American activists protested its removal.Dozens of residents, activists and parents attended Wednesday night's school board meeting to urge the board to replace Indigenous Peoples' Day with Columbus Day.Colum...

ROCKAWAY TOWNSHIP — School board officials voted to reinstate Columbus Day on the school calendar after Italian-American activists protested its removal.

Dozens of residents, activists and parents attended Wednesday night's school board meeting to urge the board to replace Indigenous Peoples' Day with Columbus Day.

Columbus Day was returned to the calendar following a 5-2 vote.

"As an American. I'm telling you, we have to preserve [Columbus Day]. We shouldn't let the revisionists change our history because changing the history is a way to attack our country," said Andre' DiMino, communications director for the Italian American One Voice Coalition at Wednesday's meeting.

A motion to discuss Columbus Day was not on the agenda, but board member Aaron Tomasini asked school officials to consider a vote to change the day. School officials Rachel Brookes and Tanya Sheilds voted against the action.

"In the spirit of inclusion and celebration of all, and I say it again, of all, I make a motion to place Columbus Day on the 2022 and 2023 school calendar and thereafter as a second Monday in the month of October," Tomasini said.

Last December, the board voted to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples' Day. Board member Lisa Mezik said the decision to rename the day said there was confusion on what members were voting on. Mezik said it should have been clearly stated to members before the vote in December.

"The calendar that I saw did not have that change highlighted. So that was not something that I realized I was voting on," said Mezik at a board meeting in September.

Last month, school officials considered reinstating Columbus Day. More than 20 residents and local Italian American activists attended the meeting and spoke in support of the motion. Board members were split on the decision to either reinstate Columbus Day or have both on one day, leading to the motion's failure to pass.

This isn't the first time a local school board has faced criticism from angry Italian Americans. In June, hundreds of riled Randolph residents and others enraged by the removal of Columbus Day urged their Board of Education to reverse its course and return to its original school calendar, complete with a day off marked for Columbus Day.

Matt Mustachio, treasurer of the Rockaway Township chapter of UNICO, also spoke in favor of reinstating Columbus Day on the school calendar.

"Twenty-two percent of the people in Rockaway Township are Italian American," Mustachio said. "I don't understand why you would take an Italian event, which is Columbus Day, off the calendars and the children who are Italian American don't know anything about their heritage."

Jessie Gomez is a local reporter for DailyRecord.com and NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Reefer in Rockaway: Morris County's first legal weed shop now open on Route 46

ROCKAWAY — Nearly three years after New Jersey residents overwhelmingly voted to legalize marijuana sales for recreational use, Morris County's first retail cannabis ...

ROCKAWAY — Nearly three years after New Jersey residents overwhelmingly voted to legalize marijuana sales for recreational use, Morris County's first retail cannabis dispensary is open for business.

Following a soft launch in late July, Kind Kush held a grand opening on Aug. 19 in the Rockaway Borough shopping center along Route 46 anchored by Tractor Supply Co.

"The mayor was kind enough to come out and cut the ribbon, which was very exciting," owner-operator Jimmy Rogovich said in an interview Tuesday. A resident of Cresskill in Bergen County, he formerly owned Rogo's sports bar in Hoboken with his brothers.

Kind Kush fills only a small sliver of the 40,000-square-foot building, which was formerly occupied by World Gym and, before that, a Shop-Rite. Customers visiting the dispensary must present identification to advance from a small lobby into the retail shop, where large-screen TVs display product availability and price.

What's on sale at Kind Kush

Packaged goods include cannabis sold in natural flower-bud form, in 3.5 or 7-gram bags, pre-rolled joints, edibles, vape cartridges, concentrates and other varieties, along with accessories. Prices range from about $15 for a pre-rolled 1-gram joint to more than $100 for a 7-gram pack of buds.

The product itself is not visible in the shopping area, but packaging labels list essential consumer information such as the strain of cannabis and detailed data on its potency.

Customers must be 21 or older and may not purchase more than one ounce at a time. Payment can be made by debit card or in cash. Credit cards are not accepted.

'Bud-tender' Debbie gets to work

Rogovich opened with about 20 employees, including longtime Rockaway resident Debbie Mereau as his first hire.

"I'm technically the first female bud-tender in Morris County," said Mereau, who was behind the counter tending to customers on Tuesday. She previously worked as a customer service representative for a payroll company.

"This is the best job I've ever had," she said. "I can't believe I had to wait this long to be this happy somewhere."

State regulators approved Rogovich's application for a conditional license for recreational and medical use in May 2022, then approved his annual license in October.

Shopping around for locations, he found willing supporters in Rockaway town hall and a landlord who gave him a fair deal, he said.

What weed pays for:What are NJ towns doing with marijuana taxes?

Seven Morris towns OK weed sales

Seven towns in Morris County - Boonton, Butler, Dover, Morristown, Rockaway, Rockaway Township and Victory Gardens - have approved retail cannabis sales since voters approved an amendment to the state constitution by a 67% majority in 2020, legalizing cannabis use on Jan. 1, 2021. Legislative and other legal hurdles delayed actual retail sales around the state until April of 2022.

"A lot of municipalities didn't opt in [to allowing retail cannabis sales] but Rockaway has been super," Rogovich said. "And I'm really happy we'll be making a real contricbution with the 2 percent [local sales tax surcharge] we give to the borough."

Kind Kush is now the 40th location approved to sell to recreational and medical users in New Jersey. Customers with prescriptions can shop in an additional six dispensaries restricted to medical pot sales.

Morristown, Victory Gardens applications

Other retail cannabis applications in Morris County towns, including in Madison and Victory Gardens, have been stalled by bureaucratic opposition. Victory Gardens, already in discussion with two potential operators, voted last week to require applicants to file more information.

In February, the Morristown Planning Board gave unanimous approval for Massachusetts-based Uma Flowers to open a cannabis dispensary on Ridgedale Avenue, but no opening date was announced. The owners of Uma Flowers were unavailable Tuesday to update their status.

Rogovich said marijuana businesses have also had to contend with "a ton of price-gouging" by landlords. "We call it the green tax. Once they find out it's cannabis-related, sometimes they double the rent."

That was apparently the case in Boonton, where a retail cannabis licensee sought zoning relief after learning the few available spaces approved for sales in a designated industrial zone were overpriced. The Boonton council, however, voted against the retailer's proposal to operate in an existing space outside the industrial zone.

Unlike many of New Jersey's new dispensaries, which are owned by large multistate operators such as Ascend and the Apothecarium, Rogovich says he is the sole owner and proprietor of Kind Kush.

"We are a true 'mom and pop" business and I am spending about 100 hours a week here," he said. "So far, business has gotten better every week."

William Westhoven is a local reporter for DailyRecord.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

National Weather Service confirms tornado in New Jersey

SOUDERTON, Pennsylvania (WABC) -- A tornado was confirmed in New Jersey overnight as the remnants of Tropical Depression Fred moved through the area.Officials with the National Weather Service said a storm survey team has confirmed an EF-0 tornado occurred in Rockaway Township in Morris County.An EF-0 tornado has wind speeds between 65 and 85 miles per hour.Power crews have been working to make repairs to downed lines.At least two other tornadoes ...

SOUDERTON, Pennsylvania (WABC) -- A tornado was confirmed in New Jersey overnight as the remnants of Tropical Depression Fred moved through the area.

Officials with the National Weather Service said a storm survey team has confirmed an EF-0 tornado occurred in Rockaway Township in Morris County.

An EF-0 tornado has wind speeds between 65 and 85 miles per hour.

Power crews have been working to make repairs to downed lines.

At least two other tornadoes were confirmed in parts of Pennsylvania.

Officials with the National Weather Service said a tornado occurred in Tilden Township, Berks County at about 9 p.m. Wednesday.

A storm survey team also confirmed an EF-1 tornado occurred from Souderton, Montgomery County to Silverdale/Perkasie, Bucks County at about 12:30 a.m. Thursday.

An EF-1 tornado has winds up to 110 miles per hour.

In Montgomery County, there were several reports of downed trees and wires along with damaged homes in the Souderton area, the National Weather Service said.

Video from the area showed siding ripped off numerous homes and debris scattered across front yards and small sheds could be seen flipped on their sides.

"It does correspond pretty well with the tornado warning we had last night," said Trent Davis with NWS Mt. Holly.

It was just a few weeks ago when New Jersey saw five tornados in one night, the second-biggest one-day tornado outbreak in the state in the past 71 years.

RELATED: Tornado watch vs warning: What to do when you see alert messages

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