Over the past year, Patch readers have clicked on stories about politics, government, police and fire incidents, school and community happenings in Mahwah. What were the biggest stories of the year? These were the top 10 most read Mahwah Patch stories 2011:
“What Mahwah Is Waking Up To” – On August 29, Mahwah residents woke up to what would become a massive cleanup after Hurricane Irene. That Monday morning, 15 township homes had been evacuated and 4,000 people in Mahwah were without power. Thousands read the story, and looked at the photos, of what Mahwah looked like the day after the storm.
“Veterinarian Cheryl Welch Loses Brief Cancer Battle” – In February, a well-loved Mahwah resident lost her brief battle with pancreatic cancer. Dr. Cheryl Welch, a veterinarian from Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital, left behind four children, and a community that mourned her loss.
“Help Your Neighbors Recover From Irene” – When Mahwah residents were in need, their neighbors wanted to help. In September, Patch set up a “Shares and Cares” portal with then-mayor John DaPuzzo. Residents were encouraged to post information about items they could donate to residents who lost things in the flood, and those affected by the hurricane could post what they needed. Residents swapped clothes, furniture and other items that were ruined by Hurricane Irene.
“Police: Mahwah Teen Arrested After House Party Sends 14-Year-Old To Hospital” – Parents in Mahwah commented on this top-clicked story. In October, police arrested an 18-year-old who allegedly supplied the alcohol for a party attended by 13 and 14-year-olds. According to Police Chief James Batelli, police were called to the Mahwah home because a 14-year-old girl was “unconscious and unresponsive." If left untreated, her blood alcohol level "could have resulted in her death or serious organ damage,” he said at the time.
“Route 17 North And South In Mahwah Will Be Closed For The Morning Commute” – Irene makes the list again. When the hurricane hit, Route 17 was completely flooded. Police were originally reporting that the major roadway would be closed for the Monday morning commute. The article was eventually updated to report that the roadway would, in fact, open to morning traffic.
“Police: Man Driving Wrong Way On I-287 Killed” – This tragic story broke in October, when a Bloomingdale man died after driving northbound in the southbound lane at about 2 a.m. on a Saturday when he hit another car, head-on. The man who was hit, who police said suffered extensive injuries, was charged with driving under the influence.
“Election Winners: Laforet, Jandris, Anti-Mall Group” – It was a contested, highly-debated election season in Mahwah this year. Voters chose between three candidates for mayor, two for a position on the town council, and on a non-binding referendum asking the community’s opinion on the Crossroads Town Center retail development at the intersections of Routes 17 and 287. Bill Laforet won the one-year mayoral position, Chuck Jandris won a seat on the council, and the township voted the referendum down by a very slight margin.
“PHOTOS: Irene’s Aftermath In Mahwah” – In Irene’s highest appearance on the Most-Read Countdown, Patch started a photo gallery of what Mahwah looked like after the hurricane and flood. Readers uploaded photos from outside the windows of their homes and businesses, as residents virtually looked around the township shocked at what the aftermath looked like.
“Police: Escaped Mahwah Man Considered Dangerous” – An ongoing search for a Mahwah man who severed his ankle monitoring bracelet and fled from house arrest in September captivated Mahwah Patch readers. This article was updated to report that police had located his getaway car in Suffern, but not the runaway. Rescue squads from Mahwah and surrounding towns searched for Paul Kramer, 33, in Quarry Lake in Suffern, without results. At the end of November, Kramer was located in Missouri. He was found from an anonymous online tip, police said.
“Mahwah Makes Biggest Human Smiley Face Ever” – A little less than 10 percent of the township’s population was at Continental Soldiers Park one night in June to break a world record. Over 2,200 people gathered to make the world’s biggest human smiley face ever, at an event put on by the Youth Leadership Academy, a summer program for kids in the township put on by the fundraising group the Mahwah Municipal Alliance and the Mahwah PD. A description and photos of residents clad in yellow and black ponchos, clumped together in a smiley face shape came in as the top-read story of 2011.