On Jan. 4, a break occurred near the intersection of Observer Highway and Willow Avenue. On Jan. 14, another occurred on 2nd and Clinton Streets, and on Feb. 15 another water main broke on 2nd Street between Washington and Bloomfield streets.During this latest break, a car was swallowed up and had to be lifted out of the hole.“When there is a water main break, the soil erodes, creating a cavity that just swallowed up the car,” said City Spokesman Juan Melli. “It sunk in.”In August, the City Council unanimously approved $5.2 million in funding for water main upgrades to combat the breaks and flooding that have plagued the city. Former Business Administrator Quentin Wiest presented the “water asset refurbishment program” at that August council meeting.He said CDM Smith, an engineering and construction company, along with the water company — Suez Water — conducted an evaluation last year that identified 30 streets with 50 pipe segments that are the highest priority areas in need of refurbishment.The total estimated cost to fix all the pipes would be $14.6 million. The approved bond for $5.2 million will cover a third of the cost, for the first phase targeting these priority areas. The city must take on this cost as their current contract with Suez Water only provides $350,000 a year for improvements.These funds are only enough to cover the constant repairs to the city’s water mains, according to city spokesman Juan Melli. The city is currently in the process of renegotiating the contract with Suez Water with the goal of obtaining more capital for infrastructure improvements. Melli said work on some of the priority water mains has already begun on Washington Street. Melli said, “We have also issued an RFP (Request For Proposal) for the engineering design for upgrading water mains in other priority areas.”Alleged thieves charged with stealing car for ransomTwo Jersey City residents were arrested on Saturday, Feb. 25 and charged with conspiracy to commit extortion after allegedly stealing a car in Hoboken and charging money to have it returned. According to a media release from the Hoboken Police Department, officers were dispatched to the area of 13th and Washington streets on the report of a stolen car.The victim said he’d been making a food delivery at a nearby address, and left the car unattended with keys in the ignition.He had left his phone in the car, so he called the number. Apparently, an unknown person answered the phone, allegedly demanding a cash payment for the return of the vehicle to the victim.Officers arranged for the defendants to deliver the vehicle back to Hoboken, and delivery of the vehicle was later made in the area of Eighth and Adams streets. The alleged perpetrators were found in the area and placed under arrest.Thirty-year-old Fancisco Torres was charged with receiving stolen property, bail jumping, and conspiracy to commit extortion. Barbara LaLuz, 29, was charged with burglary, conspiracy to commit extortion, and two counts of bail jumping.Both were remanded to the Hudson County Correctional Facility.Reward for information about Union City cat’s deathA $4,500 reward is being offered by the city of Union City and some residents there for information on unknown perpetrators who allegedly tortured a local cat.Trudy DeWeese said neighbors and Mayor Brian Stack are offering the reward for information. “Please, if you have any tiny bit of information, please call the police. You never know what could lead to catching this person,” said DeWeese.The cat, owned by a woman who lives near Manhattan Avenue, up the hill from Union City, went missing for a week. Then “Max” returned having been tortured with cuts, starvation, shaved hair, and what looked like a symbol carved into his head. DeWeese says that her neighbor brought the cat over to borrow the phone and call the vet after her cat returned.“She came over to my house last week and said her phone wasn’t working and she needed to call the vet,” said DeWeese. “[She said the cat] had come home but was in bad shape. Some of his fur was taken off and in his head was some sort of symbol that may have been cut in there.”DeWeese said her neighbor took him to the vet who put him on an IV, as his cuts were infected.“He was so sad and scared,” said DeWeese, who went to visit the animal before he passed away.According to DeWeese, neighbors are frightened.“We have already put up thousands of posters in the area and we want to put up more in nearby towns,” said DeWeese. “It’s frightening all of us. These kind of people escalate.”She added, “This is a nice neighborhood. A lot of us have cats and dogs. We are all very afraid. We have had animals disappear and we don’t know what has happened to them.”The owner of the cat said in NJ.com, “Max didn’t deserve this. He was a wonderful creature and a friend of people and we have to be friends back. He really was unusual. Please on behalf of a great animal and on behalf of other animals, please let us know so this doesn’t happen again.”If you have information call the Union City Police Department at (201) 865-1111.‘Brave the Shave’ and fight kids cancerThe St. Baldrick’s Foundation will host fundraising event “Brave the Shave” to fight kids cancer on Saturday, March 11 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., at Mulligan’s Pub, 159 First St.Hoboken barber-coordinator Nicole Appice Davis returns this year to shave the heads of sponsored shavees who wish to show solidarity with kids and their families facing their cancer battles.“It’s a cause that brings everybody together,” said event coordinator Jim O’Brien, of Hoboken who will “brave the shave” for the seventh time. “Think of what the kids and their families deal with each day against this enemy.”Inspired by the story of a courageous 6-year-old boy who died of cancer seven years ago, O’Brien first brought St. Baldrick’s to Hoboken in 2011 as an offshoot of an annual St. Patrick’s Day party he and his buddies had hosted since college.A total of $28,339 has been raised by the local events over the years.There will be drink specials, and live music by Adameus Live, Neil Nathan, and Undercover.The national St. Baldrick’s Foundation, established in 1999, has contributed more than $200 million to fight the scourge of childhood cancer.Interested shavees, volunteers or donors are invited to go to: https://www.stbaldricks.org/events/kickkidscancer or contact O’Brien at [email protected] or (212) 781-8831.Hoboken Historical Museum presents ‘Hoboken Sweeps’The Hoboken Historical Museum invites the public to a free opening reception for its second art exhibition of the year, “Hoboken Sweeps: Recent Photography of Jean-Paul Picard,” this Saturday, March 4, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in its Upper Gallery space.Picard, a versatile artist who specializes in web design and digital photography, started out as a graphic designer, according to the press release, before he started experimentingwith using multiple images in a single work to create a story line.His images were created using the panorama mode on a digital camera, but rather than moving the camera in a smooth line, he learned he could create more interesting effects by sweeping the camera in different ways and at different speeds.Although the images originate in a digital camera, each of the works on display in the Museum’s upper gallery is a unique edition, or monoprint, containing the serendipitous elements of the artist’s hand.More examples of his work, including his 2009 “Visage Hoboken” portraits that were displayed in his first museum exhibit, can be seen at http://www.jean-paulpicard.com.Hudson County CASA is seeking volunteersLearn how to become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer and help foster children find safe and permanent homes. You may attend an information session at the Hudson County Courthouse, 595 Newark Ave. Rm. 901 on Tuesday, March 7 at 6:30 p.m.Hudson County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is a non-profit organization committed to advocating for the best interests of abused and neglected children. CASA works through trained community volunteers to ensure that needed services and assistance are made available to children while helping to move them toward safe and permanent homes. Hudson County CASA volunteers are everyday people who make a direct impact in foster children’s lives. They are trusted, dedicated adults who seek to improve children’s well-being. CASA volunteers get to know their assigned child and his or her circumstances and provide valuable information to the court. Judges rely on the volunteers’ recommendations to make the best decisions about the children’s futures.For further information, visit www.hudsoncountycasa.orgThe Hoboken Rotary Club to host fundraiser for American Legion Post 107On April 8 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. the Hoboken Rotary Club will host a fundraiser for the Hoboken American Legion Post 107.The Legion is rebuilding their post to include six units of housing for homeless veterans.The club urges the public to “please support those that fought bravely for our country to help rebuild their home and also provide housing for homeless veterans.”The fundraiser will take place at the Elks Lodge, 1005 Washington St., and will include an open bar, small plates of food and two live bands.“It will be a great nigh for a great cause,” states the event page.Tickets cost $50 and can be purchased online at eventbrite.com by searching for “Hoboken American Legion Fundraiser.” The event is also sponsored by Prime Real Estate & PrimeTime Title AgencyHoboken Arts and Music Festival announcedThe City of Hoboken will host the 24th annual Spring Arts & Music Festival on Sunday, June 11 from 11a.m. to 6 p.m.Due to construction along Washington Street, the festival will be held from 8th Street to 14th Street (Typically the festival is held from Observer Highway to 7th Street).The festival features artists, crafters, photographers, food vendors, live music, and more. Admission is free.For more information or to receive an application, contact Geri Fallo at [email protected] or (201) 420-2207.Open call for cellphone photographersThe hob’art gallery, 720 Monroe St. E208, will host an exhibit for photographers who use their cell phones to record the spaces, people, and places in their lives.The juried exhibition is open to anyone who takes photographs with their cell phones and wishes to submit an application by the Sunday, March 19 deadline.Jurors for the exhibit include accomplished photographer and artist Ann Kinny, art educator and artist Miriam Untoria, and award-winning photographer and former vice president of pictorial photographers of America Don Sichler.Those wishing to submit their photos can submit up to five images with an application fee of $25 with checks made out to hob’art gallery and mailed to the gallery.Submissions do not guarantee acceptance and juror decisions are final.Entries can be emailed to [email protected] with “Photographers Unknown” in the subject line.JPEG Images must be labeled last name first initial and title of entry_#1.jpeg.According to the press release all photos chosen for the exhibit will be printed and available for pickup at the end of the show, and the Best in Show winner will receive a framed picture of their submission.Those accepted into the exhibit will be notified by Friday, March 23.All sales inquiries will be directed to the artists, as the non-profit gallery doesn’t take commission on sales.The exhibit will be displayed from Friday April 1 through Saturday April 29 with an opening reception on April 8 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.Photos will be seen during gallery hours Thursdays and Fridays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.For an application contact [email protected] books to host award-winning playwright George Cameron GrantSymposia Books, 510 Washington St., will host a reading and Q&A session with author George Cameron Grant on his newest play “Fortune” on Friday, March 24 at 7:30 p.m. “ ‘Fortune’ is about the most unforgettable woman you have never known, the actual Rose Fortune, who was born a slave, and through a 90-year life span, became a symbol of truth, social equality, and human spirit,” states the press release.In “Fortune,” 10-year old, courageous Rose refuses to accept failure as an option, no as an answer, or despair as a destiny.According to the release Grant was inspired by a trip to Annaplois Royal in Nova Scotia in the summer of 2014 when during a graveyard tour he found himself standing before an unmarked grave learning about Black Loyalist Rose Fortune.Copies of “Fortune” will be available and signed by the author after his reading.The event is free and will have light refreshments.For more information contact Symposia [email protected] or at (201) 963-0909.Hoboken announces funding opportunities for community groups and a community meetingThe deadline to submit applications for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program Year 2017 to provide funding to eligible programs and projects sponsored by public agencies or not-for-profit organizations is 4 p.m. Friday March 31.The city encourages local community groups who provide quantifiable benefits to the low and moderate-income population to apply.The City of Hoboken has not yet received notice from HUD of its Program Year 2017 award, however in 2015 and 2016 the city received an annual allocation of approximately $1,000,000.The city will host a community meeting on Wednesday, March 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the Multi-Service Center, 124 Grand St., to collect input and identify needs relevant to low and moderate income residents within Program Year 2017.An online survey is also available at: www.hobokennj.gov/cdbgsurvey.Interested applicants can request an application from Christopher Brown, principal planner through the City of Hoboken Department of Community Development via email at [email protected] or in person during business hours, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hoboken Planning and Zoning Office, 94 Washington St.All questions should be directed via email to Brown or during business hours at (201) 239-6642.Christie’s International Real Estate announces expansion into Hudson CountyChristie’s International Real Estate, the luxury brokerage and real estate arm of Christie’s fine art auction house, is expanding into Hudson County, according to a press release from the company. “Having excelled as a leader in Bergen County, Special Properties Real Estate Services, will market under the Christie’s brand in New Jersey’s Hudson County – encompassing Hoboken, Weehawken and Jersey City – and new areas in Northwest New Jersey,” stated the release.Christie’s International Real Estate is an invitation-only affiliate network comprised of qualified real estate specialists in the luxury residential sector.The company has offices in London, New York, Hong Kong, Moscow, Los Angeles, and Palm Beach, and approximately 135 global Affiliates with 32,000 real estate professionals in 45 countries.Special Properties was invited to join this carefully selected network of luxury brokerages 16 years ago.CEO of Christie’s International Real Estate said, “Special Properties has been awarded these new territories because of the company’s proven expertise as a luxury real estate advisor. As we continue to expand into these high-end markets, we are confident in our network leaders’ ability to create success for both buyers and sellers on the local and global stage.”“We are very excited to expand our presence in Northwest New Jersey and Hudson County, including Hoboken and Jersey City, to provide more customers with the unique Christie’s experience,” said President and CEO of Special Properties Real Estate Services Ilija Pavlovic. ×First Ward Councilman Michael DeFusco, who is rumored to be running for mayor, took to Facebook to express frustration with the administration over the town’s water main breaks. (See brief) First Ward Councilman Michael DeFusco, who is rumored to be running for mayor, took to Facebook to express frustration with the administration over the town’s water main breaks. (See brief) Fourth water main break this yearHoboken suffered its fourth water main break this year in the wee hours of Tuesday, Feb. 28 at Fifth Street and Willow Avenue.