Mt. Olive Online Publication March 17, 2020

Local Producer Creates Series Featuring War Heroes


                     Jack Thomas Smith

Screening open to public next week in Roxbury

By Cheryl Conway

A Budd Lake man has created, directed and is co-executive producer of an upcoming pro-military documentary TV series “War Heroes” being piloted next week in Roxbury.

Jack Thomas Smith of Budd Lake- along with the 14th Hour Foundation, the Sgt. Ryan E. Doltz Memorial Foundation and Fox Trail Productions- invites the public to attend the screening of the pilot episode of “War Heroes,” set for Thursday, Feb. 28, at 8 p.m., at the Cinepolis Theater in Succasunna.  The docuseries, being hosted by Benghazi Hero Kris Paronto, personalizes American soldiers by sharing their real-life stories at home and abroad.

“Each episode will profile an individual service member or veteran, up close and personal, detailing their unique lives, service, and sacrifice,” explains Smith. The pilot episode profiles a local fallen solider, Sgt. Ryan E. Doltz of Mine Hill who lost his life at the age of 26 in Baghdad, Iraq on June 5, 2004. Doltz was a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute and served in the New Jersey National Guard. 

A meet and greet/book signing with Paronto will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., followed by the screening of “War Heroes” to begin at 8 p.m. with an intro by Paronto and Smith. Proceeds from the screening and purchases of Paronto’s books will benefit The 14th Hour Foundation.

An award-winning filmmaker, Smith is one of the executive producers of “War Heroes,” along with his fiancée Mandy Del Rio, a TV show host and producer, who has also worked on feature films, music videos, and artist promotion; and Glenn Nevola, a commercial airline pilot, owner of a financial services firm, and a film and TV producer.

In this pilot episode featuring Doltz, Paronto meets with Doltz’s family, friends, and those who served with him in Iraq. They tell his story, sharing personal experiences about this young man, best described as “larger than life.”

Doltz’s service and dedication to help his fellow soldiers as well as those he never knew continues on through the Sgt. Ryan E. Doltz Memorial Foundation, which was created by his family in his honor. Doltz’s family will be in attendance.

“I have always been a strong supporter of the military,” says Smith. “The freedoms we enjoy in our daily lives are because of the brave men and women in uniform. Kris Paronto is a true American hero. It's an honor to work with him in telling the stories of other true American heroes. “War Heroes” is not scripted and will not have dramatic reenactments. It's real-life stories about real-life heroes.”

For more information about the meet and greet/book signing and screening and to purchase tickets go to Follow War Heroes on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @warheroestv.

Jack Smith, “War Heroes” Creator

Smith has lived in Budd Lake since 1990. Although his work as a film producer often takes him to other places, he says, he has “always ended up back in Budd Lake. I love Budd Lake. It’s just a cool town; it’s convenient if I want to get to New York. It’s just home for me.”

His daughter, Megan Cruz, attended Mt. Olive High School from 1990-1994 and “was on the set since she was five,” he says, taking an active role on most of his projects. His soon-to be step daughter Luna Del Rio, an aspiring actress also is involved in his work as is his fiancée, Mandy Del Rio, co-executive producer of “War Heroes.”

“It’s a family thing,” says Smith.

Smith made his feature film directorial debut with the psychological thriller “Disorder.” The scene for that film takes place in Blairstown as Smith was living in the Poconos at the time, he says, adding that he was also the writer and producer of that film. “Disorder” opened as a limited theatrical release in the United States in the summer of 2006 and was later released on DVD by Universal/Vivendi and on Pay-Per-View and Video-On-Demand by Warner Brothers; and was just released worldwide on Digital HD by Monarch Films.

Born in 1969 in Philadelphia, Pa., Smith lived there until he was eight when his family relocated to a quiet island community in Michigan, which would later serve as the inspiration for his upcoming film “In the Dark,” according to a press release. He began to write at a very young age after reading the Stephen King novels “Salem’s Lot” and “The Shining.”

By the time he was 11, he had written a 300-page novel and several short stories.

As far as schooling or experience in the field, Smith says it was “all self-taught.” He took a book out at the library to learn how to write screen plays.

Smith’s family moved to Sparta when he was a teenager and his interests continued.

Inspired to make movies, he wrote and directed a handful of short films that starred his brother and friends in all the roles. As a young adult, Smith produced films for noted horror directors Ted Bohus and John Russo, co-creator of “Night of the Living Dead” in 1996.

As his growth as a filmmaker expanded, Smith wrote, produced, and directed the dark thriller “Infliction,” which dealt with the horrors of child abuse and its long-term effects. “Infliction” opened as a limited theatrical release in the U.S. in the spring of 2014; was later released on DVD, VOD, and Digital HD on July 1, 2014 by Virgil Films & Entertainment; and was released internationally in 2018 in most major markets on Digital HD by Monarch Films. “Infliction” won Best Story in a Feature Film at the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival and Best Screenplay at the Macabre Faire Film Festival.

Smith’s production company, Fox Trail Productions, Inc., is currently developing the action/horror films “In the Dark” and “Feed,” the drama “Illegals,” and the dark comedy “Look at Me,” according to his press release.

 War Heroes Concept Is Born

As a member of the Horror Writers Association, Smith’s focus has always been on horror films but in 2018 he decided to take a stab at a military theme with his current promilitary documentary TV series “War Heroes.”

Smith explains how he got the idea for the docuseries. After two soldiers had been killed in Afghanistan, he says “it kind of bothered me; we don’t know who these people are. We know about the Kardashians, but we don’t know the first thing about our men and women; they are the real heroes.”


                      Mandy Del Rio

This led him to his idea to “focus on one soldier and tell their story,” explains Smith. “Everyone has a story; why not do that with our men and women in uniform? 

 “Each episode will tell their story, how they served and their sacrifice,” explains Smith.

Although he never served in the military, Smith says “I’ve always been passionate about the military. I’m given that freedom because of those people” who have served the country, such as his step father who fought in Vietnam and his younger brother who joined the Coast Guard.

“As I got older, this is where my passion is now,” says Smith. “This is the military; that’s what matters to me.”

Smith got connected with Sgt. Ryan E. Doltz as his first person to feature through his daughter, who is friends with a woman who is good friends with Doltz’s mom, Cheryl Doltz.

After hearing Doltz’s story, Smith says “I wanted to tell this story of this fallen soldier. What an amazing story he had.” He starred in a 1998 Norelco commercial when in college and “has so many great stories,” says Smith. “He died so young.”

Mandy Del Rio contacted Cheryl Doltz in September 2018 to request their interest in participating in the docuseries.

“The family has been absolutely amazing,” says Smith.

Interviews with family and friends of Ryan Doltz began in early October, followed by the Nov. 2 annual charity event to raise money for the Sgt. Ryan E. Doltz Memorial Foundation; and a three-hour visit in the pouring rain to visit Doltz’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery in mid-December during the annual Wreaths Across America, in which family members, friends and volunteers place wreaths on the 250,000 graves.

Post-production work was then done and the 40-minute episode was completed in January, says Smith. A premier in Las Vegas was held on Jan. 23 to a sell-out crowd, in which $13K was raised for Kris Paronto’s 14th Hour Foundation.

After the screening planned in Succasunna next week, Smith plans to pitch the docuseries to the network in hopes it gets picked up for television.

“I hope the show runs for years,” he says, “bringing out one episode after another.” Twelve episodes per season would be ideal, with renewal for seasons two, three, four and so on. “Stories are endless” and episodes can feature heroes from not just the main conflicts such as Korean War, WWI, WWII, conflicts in Iraq and Vietnam, but also other battles like the invasion of Panama and Grenada; solders who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; ones who are wounded; stories of animal war heroes.

“Every soldier has a story,” says Smith. “It’s a realistic show,” rather than a reality show or one that is scripted or staged.

Smith’s goal is to start in the U.S., and then branch off to other countries such as Canada and feature heroes from the United Kingdom. Once the show does get picked up, Smith’s other hope is to donate a portion of his proceeds to organizations and families of war heroes as well as homeless veterans.

For more information on Smith, go to

Kris Paronto-Show Host

Smith selected Paronto as the show host with his background as a Benghazi hero, army ranger.

Paronto is a former Army Ranger from the 2nd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment and a private security contractor, who has been deployed throughout South America, Central America, the Middle East and North Africa, according to a press release. He also worked with the U.S. Government’s Global Response Staff, conducting low profile security in high threat environments throughout the world. Paronto was part of the CIA annex security team that responded to the terrorist attack on the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, helping to save more than 20 lives while fighting off terrorists from the CIA Annex for more than 13 hours.

His story is told in the book “13 Hours” written by Mitchell Zuckoff and his five surviving annex security team members.

Paronto has been involved in security operations in hostile environments for more than 10 years.

“His team’s involvement with the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. special mission in Benghazi, Libya was paramount in the saving of U.S. lives and assets,” as stated in the press release.

Paronto founded The 14th Hour Foundation to raise and disperse funds to help the lives and futures of veterans, military contractor personnel and first responders that have served and sacrificed to protect the American homeland. Proceeds from this charitable fund provide assistance in everyday life events not covered by government programs such as utility bills, rent, vehicle repair, burial costs and college tuition. Additionally, The 14th Hour Foundation partners with other veteran organizations to increase awareness of veteran-related issues and to provide for veteran support services.

For more information on Paronto, go to For more information on The 14th Hour Foundation, go to

Local Hero/ Local Screening

The Succasunna theater was selected for the screening because of its close proximity to the Doltz family, Smith says. The theater holds 260 people. Tickets cost $25 for the screening; $100 for a VIP pass to meet Paronto for a signed autograph of his book/poster, and screening.

All proceeds go to Paronto’s 14th Hour Foundation and the Sgt. Ryan E. Doltz Memorial Foundation.

Established in 2006, the Ryan E. Doltz Memorial Foundation is a 501(c)(3) corporation, to memorialize and honor the memory of the late Sgt. Ryan E. Doltz, who died while bravely serving the U.S. in the war in Iraq; by assisting worthy individuals and charitable organizations; and to make contributions, gifts, and financial or other assistance to individuals and charitable organizations through fundraising and private donations.

A scholarship at Dover High School, Doltz’s alma mater, was established to support a college-bound student from Morris County; as well as a scholarship for a member or dependent of the N.J. National Guard who will be continuing his or her education.

To qualify candidates must be in the band, stresses Cheryl Doltz


                      Glenn Nevola

“Athletes get scholarships; ones with great grades get scholarships; band members get left out,” Doltz explains. Candidates must write an essay for consideration.

Contributions have also been made to the Ryan Doltz' 00 Scholarship at the Virginia Military Institute. Investment accounts have been established for the two young sons of fallen soldiers in Doltz’s unit. Additionally, donations have been made to military families in need of assistance as well as organizations such as Wounded Warrior Project, Wreaths Across America, Hugs for Children, and more.

“We try to do things Ryan would’ve done,” says Doltz, like helping military families in need and donating goggles and boots to military dogs. “We try to help whoever we can.”

Doltz says, “Each year we try to give at least $3,000,” with close to 50 scholarships granted since it began. During the past 10 years, it has organized fundraisers such as the annual tricky tray at Dover High School; the event moved three years ago to Birchwood Manor with a beefsteak dinner and tricky tray. Last year, 600 baskets were raffled, and Paronto donated $5,000 at the dinner.

Sgt. Doltz Featured

Born Jan. 12, 1978, Ryan Doltz’s “doctors gave him only a 30 percent chance of surviving due to the fact that he was two months premature,” as described in a press release. “However, he proved the doctors wrong and was able to go home in 11 days, weighing a little less than five pounds. Ryan joined his parents, Cheryl and Raymond, and his sister, Anne. In early 1979 Gregory joined the family. The two boys were so much alike that many thought they were twins. As years passed, they become known as “The Doltz Boys” in the neighborhood. Ryan was a member of the first preschool class at the Hattie Rice Elementary School in Mine Hill. At Dover High School, he played football and baseball, graduating in 1996.

After high school, Doltz joined the Class of 2000 at the Virginia Military Institute, the last all male class at VMI, where he played football, rugby and tuba for the Band Company.

After graduation, he was certified as an EMT in New Jersey; became a member of the Mine Hill First Aid Squad; and in 1998 joined the Virginia National Guard, where he was a member of A Battery 1/246th Field Artillery in Martinsville, Va. Shortly after his graduation from VMI his unit was activated to be a part of Operation Noble Eagle; and the summer, moved home and transferred to the 3/112th Field Artillery of the N.J. Army National Guard in Morristown because it was closer to home, his mom says. Doltz’s unit was activated in January 2004, to take part in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“While training at Fort Dix, he fractured both heels and was sent home,” the press release states. “The doctors told him that he would need a wheelchair for six weeks and rehab for six months. Not happy with that prognosis, Ryan set out to prove them wrong and he did. After finally being released by the doctors, Ryan arrived in Baghdad on April 9, 2004. He was determined to rejoin his unit because he said that he trusted them, and they know what they were doing. Ryan’s life ended on Saturday, June 5, 2004, when the vehicle he was driving hit an IED as they were returning to their base. Also killed at that time was SSG Humberto Timoteo. Two other members of his National Guard unit, SSG Frank Carvill and SPC Christopher Duffy, lost their lives on June 4, 2004. Ryan was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and the Good Conduct Medal, as well as being promoted to the rank of sergeant. On June 16 Ryan was laid to rest among our nation’s fallen heroes at Arlington National Cemetery.”

Doltz’s family is proud that their Ryan was selected to be featured in “War Heroes.”

“We were very pleased,” says Cheryl Doltz. “They did a wonderful job” featuring him; “told his story perfectly.

“They really work hard,” she says of the film crew. “They were so considerate of us and our feelings. Jack, Mandy and Glen, the three executive producers were all fantastic. We were very impressed.”

Doltz, who is a Gold Star Mother of America, was also excited to meet and work with Paronto.

“He’s like the guy next door,” she says, “down to earth, nice guy.” 

One of the best parts so far was being flown out to Las Vegas with her daughter for the pilot screening of “War Heroes.”

“The whole movie theater was packed,” says Doltz, adding that she hopes this next local screening will be just as crowded with expected family members, friends, foundation supporters, crew members of “War Heroes” and individuals who served with her son.

Sharing stories of war heroes will certainly spread awareness to others.

“People have no idea what it’s like to have a family member in the military,” explains Doltz. “Right now one-half of one percent of the population have someone in the military. Right now it’s voluntary. Before they were drafted, now it’s volunteer. It’s a much smaller military than we used to have.”

While numbers may be less, “This war has been going on for so long,” Doltz says about fighting in Iraq.

People in general “are more interested in the Kardashians and what JLO wore at the Grammy’s,” she says. “What happens when your husband loses his leg from an I.U.D? How that changes the whole dynamic and what life will be like.”

Her son was one of 700 soldiers sent to Iraq and Afghanistan at that time. That number grew to 1,000 soldiers and “now it’s over 5,000” soldiers, she says.

When her son was killed there, she says several publications wrote stories about him.

“Now when a solider dies, you may see a paragraph,” says Doltz. “They give no information, like it’s not important anymore. People need to understand we are still at war. People will see these sacrifices that these heroes make.

“These are the stories people want to be told,” continues Doltz. “People who have put their lives on hold” to help the country. “People have no idea what it’s like. It’s my hope this series will paint a picture. It may encourage more young men and women to join the military and serve their country.”

Her son Ryan, “he was doing exactly what he wanted to do,” concludes Doltz.   


                   Kris Paronto


Pictured from left: Megan Cruz; Luna Del Rio; Mandy Del Rio; Jack Thomas Smith


                       Sgt. Ryan Doltz

Welcome readers to the 7th issue of Mt. Olive Online. Get MO news online today! Advertise with us!


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Take Care Of That Heart Thru Exercise

Joining an exercise program with a friend or family member can be beneficial as two can motivate each other while sharing in their goals of exercise and better health.

No better time than in February to sign up for this heart-felt offer to Bring A Friend And Save with the Mt. Olive Exercise program. Each person will save $25 off the $145 price for three months of unlimited exercise.

Join February-April for $120 with this offer. Classes are held at the Mt. Olive Senior Center.

Contact Laura at (973) 903-0453  or email  Register by calling Recreation at (973) 426-7262.

What’s Happening At Library For Kids?

Leap Into Science: Join in for another special Leap Into Science program, engineered by the Franklin Institute. Learn about balance, Thursday, Feb. 28, at 1 p.m.

Book Clubs, Free Tax Prep, Movies And More At Library

Here’s what’s happening at Mt. Olive Public Library for February 2019! 

Book Clubs Attract Readers 

The Classics Book Club plans to meet on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 7:30 p.m. to discuss Raymond Chandler’s “The Big Sleep.”

Both groups will meet in the Conference Room. Books are available at the Circulation desk.

Free Programs Offered

Mark calendars for the following free programs being offered at the library this month.

By appointment only: Tax preparation appointments are at the library in the Gathering Room on Thursdays through March 11. To make an appointment, call: 973-691-8686 ext. 100, Monday through Thursday 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Stop by the library, visit or call (973) 691-8686 ext. 106 for further information regarding any events.

valentine's day issue- SUBMIT YOUR LOVE POEMS!

Violet, My Love

My Favorite Things

You're the One


Violet, My Love

When I look in your eyes

I see the colors of a rainbow

Blue for the warm skies,

Yellow For the bright sun,

Green for the pastures

yet to come…

Orange for the sweetness

as the fruit tastes;

Red for the love

my heart aches;

Indigo, because you know without it,

life wouldn’t be complete;

And last, but not least,

your name, Violet.

Written by M. Oliver

You're the One

My Favorite Things

You're the One

Your deep voice

Becomes my choice

Come near

So I can hear

You’re like the sunlight

That holds me tight

You're like a flower

And I know that’s your power

My heart is an empty place

Only you can bring peace

You're my strength and the only way

That I can push all the sorrows away

You're like an angel that was given

You’ve turned my world into heaven

You're so special

When I see you I'm flying near to celestial

I have a strange feeling in my heart

Its pain or happiness but I know it’s apart

I need to find a way to restart

And only you can push me harder to start

I see the monsters inside me and the scars

To hide everything, I need the broken parts

But it’s okay, I have you

Someone who’s always true

Someone who always loves


Your deep voice

Becomes my choice

Of living happily

And peacefully

 By Rabia Shah 

My Favorite Things

My Favorite Things

My Favorite Things

 Children snuggled in their beds, freshly washed sheets,

returning home, winter break;

Sleeping in on snowy days,

icicles forming on trees;

Warm chocolate chip cookies,

gooey melting on tongue;

Bubble gum crackling in the fire

on a Saturday night;

Smell of coffee grinds

brewing down a grocery isle;

Family movies nights, kettle corn popping,

no seats left to sit;

Roses in full bloom

Staring up on countertop;

Chocolate truffles…

Too many to choose.

By Cheryl C.



Love is like eating

Oreos in the rain

Veering to be near you,

Evenings under a full moon

by anonymous

I Love My Dog

The Fire of Love

My Favorite Things


 Your eyes are the sparkle on grass

On early morning dew

Your hair color, how I feel

When I cuddle next to you

The greeting you give me

Every time I walk in a room

Every day with you is a flower in bloom.

 submitted by a dog lover

Love is...

The Fire of Love

The Fire of Love

 Love is a flower,

Which blooms with beauty and joy.

Whose sight lightens the souls,

Of every girl and boy.

Love is the two lovebirds,

Who stay together in flight.

Who sing and coo at each other,

And cuddle close at night.

Love is the sun,

Who blazes high in the sky.

Who shines so bright everyday,

On every girl and guy.

Love is the clouds,

Who comes in all shapes and forms.

Who makes all the plants dance in the rain,

During every rainstorm.

Love is a song,

Sung with  beauty and grace,

Created by a variety of people,

Of every culture and race.

 By Isabella Zeier 

The Fire of Love

The Fire of Love

The Fire of Love

 A scarlet card bordered by lace

A drawn dove posed flying with grace

A blood-red bouquet of vibrant rose flowers

A song for me that could be ours

A Pokémon necklace to make me shine

A cat bracelet that is now mine

A box of gourmet chocolates ever so sweet

Shimmering in the light of the fire and in the heat

A Zelda game that you thought I might like

A fluffy stuffed fox to remind me of my child life

All of those wondrous gifts wouldn’t matter to me

As long as you’re here and close to thee

 by Skylar Flare 

Health Dept. Offers Free Health Exams For Children

Mt. Olive Twp. is sponsoring a Free Child Health Exam & Vaccines for resident children of Mt. Olive, Netcong and Mount Arlington who do not have health insurance or have NJ Family Care A.

On Wednesday, March 6, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., a licensed pediatrician will perform physical examinations and update vaccinations at the Mt. Olive Twp. Health Dept. in Budd Lake. Ensure a child’s health and well-being by participating in this free event. It is a chance to make sure a child is up-to-date on his or her required vaccinations before the next school year.

Appointments are required: Call Nurse Helen Giles at 973-691-0900 ext. 7353.


A Hero Of Forgotten War Remembered In New Book



The courageous war horse Sergeant Reckless comes to life in literary form.

She was a decorated Marine, a combat veteran and a horse. Now, she's the star of a new children’s picture book. Aperture Press is pleased to announce the release of “Sergeant Reckless: Hero War Horse,” written by Loren Spiotta-DiMare of Tewksbury Township, and illustrated by Deborah DeShon of South Paris, Maine.

“Sergeant Reckless” is the true story of an amazing sorrel horse who served alongside the Marines during the Korean War. Trained to be a racehorse, Flame was destined to be a winner, but on the day of her first official race the war began. Forced to leave Seoul, her owner packed up his family and his beloved horse fleeing to a safer location. It would be two years before they were able to return.

During their time away, American troops arrived to help the South Koreans. Lt. Pederson, leader of the 5th Marine Division Recoilless Rifle Platoon, determined his men needed a pack horse to carry heavy ammunition up a steep mountain to the rifle station and to bring wounded Marines back down to safety. The Recoilless Rifle has a huge, back blast. The men in the unit referred to it as the Reckless Rifle.

Pederson discovered Flame at the Seoul racetrack. He instinctively knew she was the right horse for the important job that lay ahead. His men renamed her Reckless after their mighty weapon.

Reckless endured difficult training and combat and formed a deep attachment to her men during her tour of duty. However, she is best known for her bravery and commitment during the battle of Outpost Vegas, one of the most vicious battles of the war.

The Unit was unable to spare a man to lead Reckless over miles of rugged terrain, but that didn't stop her. She trudged up and down that mountain 51 times, covering 35 miles for over two days all by herself. Wounded twice she kept on going with courage and determination.

For her valiant efforts, Reckless was awarded two Purple Hearts, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal and a United Nations Service Medal. She retired with the rank of Staff Sergeant.

“Loren Spiotta-DiMare has captured the essence of Reckless in a way children will adore. Thoughtfully written and beautifully illustrated, Sgt. Reckless will leap off the page and into your child’s heart, and become their favorite hero,” says Robin Hutton, author of the New York Times Bestseller: “Sgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse.”

“This book is special to me on so many levels,” says author and horse owner Spiotta-DiMare. I've seen a horse spook at a soda can so I can truly appreciate how brave Sgt. Reckless was on the battlefield. To say she was bombproof is an understatement. Because horses are herd animals, I believe Reckless viewed the Marines in the unit as her herd. Her devotion to them was genuine and heartwarming.”

Adds Spiotta-DiMare, “My father, who recently celebrated his 89th birthday, served as a Captain, Top Secret Control Officer of the 3rd Marine Air Wing during the Korean War. Though he didn't know Reckless personally, he loves horses and gave riding lessons as a young man. When I was seven-years-old he introduced me to the sport which inspired my lifelong passion for horses. Ironically, my beloved Quarter Horse, Elwood looks just like Reckless.

“The book is dedicated to my Dad, all the other men who served in the military during the Korean War, and to the memory of Sg.t Reckless because she wasn't just a horse, she was a Marine.”

About the Author

A lifelong animal lover, Loren Spiotta-DiMare has been writing about her favorite subjects for 40 years. She lives in rural Northwestern N.J. with her husband, Lou, several dogs, four rabbits, numerous pet birds, and a Koi pond. Her Quarter Horse, Elwood lives at a farm nearby; they enjoy Western riding, working at liberty and trick training.

Over the course of her career, Spiotta-DiMare has had 20 books published for both adults and children and numerous feature articles in regional and national magazines. Recognized by the Dog Writers Association of America, Humane Society of the United States, Doris Day Animal Foundation and New Jersey Press Women, her  work has been published both nationally and internationally.

About the Illustrator

Deborah DeShon grew up with horses and a love for art. She particularly enjoyed drawing and painting her beloved equine companions. Eventually, DeShon developed a passion for Endurance Racing. She liked the training,100 mile rides, team effort, and the exhilaration of crossing the finish line. The sport took her all over the world as both a competitor and crew member.

Her love and knowledge of horses comes through in her beautiful pastel, watercolor and oil paintings. She is a member of the Western Maine Art Group. “Sergeant Reckless: Hero War Horse” is her second picture book for children.

A hardcover book, “Sergeant Reckless” lists for $22.95. It's available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million. For an autographed copy contact:








CCM VP’s Honored With National Excellence Awards


                      Dr. Bette Simmons

Two vice presidents at County College of Morris (CCM) in Randolph have been selected for the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence Award in recognition of their leadership skills and commitment to the mission of community colleges.

Recognized for their excellence are Dr. Bette Simmons, of Morristown, vice president of Student Development and Enrollment Management; and Karen VanDerhoof, of Hackettstown, vice president of Business and Finance.

“Bette and Karen are outstanding leaders who have been instrumental in the ongoing success of CCM and its students, and in shaping how community colleges can best meet their mission,” said Dr. Anthony J. Iacono, president of CCM. “CCM has benefited greatly from the talent and contributions of these two vice presidents and it gives us great pride to have them recognized in this manner.”

Simmons joined CCM in 1980 when she became the assistant to the dean of students. From there, she steadily advanced professionally holding such positions as assistant to the president and dean of student development. Simmons was appointed vice president of Student Development and Enrollment Management in 2006. Currently, she also is serving as interim vice president of Academic Affairs. 
Active in the Morris County community, Simmons is involved with Preschool Advantage, the Morris County 

Human Relations Commission, the Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey, the Alliance for Morris County Parks, Leadership Morris and the Morris County Sexual Assault Advisory Board.  

She has sat on the board – nationally and regionally – of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) for more than 20 years and currently serves as chair of the NASPA Foundation Board. Simmons also is a member of the National Council for Student Development, the National Council of Black American Affairs and the New Jersey Student Affairs Affinity Group. She also serves as a college evaluator for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Simmons is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including the 2018 Woman of the Year from the Zonta Club of Morristown Area, Morristown Neighborhood House Distinguished Volunteer Award, Morris County Phenomenal Woman of the Year Award, the Patricia C. Donohue Leadership Award from the Mercer County Community College Chapter of the American Association for Women in Community Colleges, the Thiel College Distinguished Alumni Award and is a NASPA Pillar of the Profession.

Simmons earned her doctorate in higher education administration from Seton Hall University; master’s in counseling from Montclair State University;  bachelor’s in Spanish and French from Thiel College.


                   Karen VanDerhoof

Karen VanDerhoof Awarded

VanDerhoof was appointed vice president of Business and Finance at CCM in 2005. She first joined the college in 1992 as director of Budget and Business Services and then served as controller.

Under her leadership, the accounting department at CCM for the past 16 years has been awarded a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada for its comprehensive annual financial report. The certificate is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting and represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.

VanDerhoof actively serves on the board of TransOptions. She is a past board member and treasurer for the Eastern Association of College and University Business Officers. Currently, she is a member of the National Association of College and University Business Officers, Eastern Association of College and University Business Officers and the New Jersey Community College Business Officers 


Association. She also serves as a college evaluator for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. 

Included among her recognitions, VanDerhoof is the recipient of the Patricia C. Donohue Leadership Award from the Mercer County Community College Chapter of the American Association for Women in Community Colleges and the Distinguished Business Officer Award from the National Association of College and University Business Officers.

A CPA, she holds a master of taxation degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a bachelor’s in accounting from Centenary College.

Simmons and VanDerhoof will be recognized during NISOD’s annual International Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence, May 25-28, in Austin, Texas.

NISOD is dedicated to the professional development of faculty, administrators and staff and to the continued improvement of teaching and learning. More than 700 community colleges around the world are NISOD members.

Register Now For CCM Summer Sessions

County College of Morris (CCM) in Randolph offers an affordable and convenient way to earn some extra credits, fast-track a college education to completion and lighten the course load for the next academic year through its Summer Sessions program.

Registration for Summer Sessions has been open since Feb. 11. By registering now, students are provided with the best selection of courses to fit their busy schedules.

Courses offered cover a range of general education requirements and disciplines such as the arts, humanities, science, business, engineering, health and more. Summer Sessions courses are offered in a variety of formats – traditional in-classroom courses, online or as hybrid courses with instruction provided both in-class and online.

CCM offers four Summer Sessions for 2019:

·         Early 5 Week: May 20 – June 24

·         Late 5 Week: June 25 – July 29

·         7 Week: June 27 – Aug. 15

·         3 Week: July 30 – Aug. 19

To view available courses, go to

Individuals not currently enrolled at CCM first need to apply as a “Visiting Student” at before registering for Summer Sessions courses.

For more information, visit or call the Admissions office at 973-328-5100.


Layups 4 Life Looking for teams to register

 On  Saturday, April 27, Layups 4 Life will be hosting its 5th annual 3v3 charity basketball tournament at the Parsippany PAL Youth Center in Parsippany. This tournament has quickly become one of New Jersey’s largest 3v3 charity basketball tournaments as it averages 40 teams per year. Registration for this tournament is open to ages 18+. 

 Layups 4 Life is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that is founded on the principles of making a difference in the fight against cancer. Led by cancer survivor Dan Exter and his wife Dana Levine Exter, it is L4L’s mission to help raise vital funds for cancer research and clinical trials. Since 2014, Layups 4 Life has raised close to $80,000 through hosting a variety of events in the sports and social spaces. With the funds that they have raised during the last four years, L4L has made contributions in support of leukemia, pediatric and bone marrow research departments supporting one of the leaders in cancer innovation and research, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). 

To learn more about Layups 4 Life, visit its website at   Questions about this theme night or anything else regarding L4L, email Dan Exter or Dana Levine Exter at

 February is approaching- the festival of romantic love- so send in your poems to be printed for the entire month of February; submissions may include a photo of the poet.  All ages are invited to submit.

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