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Haddon Twp. man battles eviction from home

From the Courier Post

Bill Kiggins trekked for two hours with a heavy briefcase to meet me a few weeks ago, walking from Haddon Township to the Courier-Post newsroom in Cherry Hill. The 68-year-old shook as he dumped piles of official documents and personal notes documenting his contention he’s being wrongfully evicted by the Haddon Housing Authority.

Kiggins and supporters blame housing authority Executive Director Joseph Iacovino, who they allege is a threatening, underqualified political patron of Haddon Township Mayor Randy Teague.

The words “Iacovino Prison Lies Threats Intimidation Cell 810 Warden = ‘Little Joey The Gopher,’ ” are scattered on a homemade flier Kiggins has read aloud to me several times.

Kiggins is fighting for his life. Today, he’s to be served with an eviction notice, according to a July 26 memo from housing authority attorney Thomas O’Connell. He will be homeless if that eviction is not overturned.

Kiggins greeted me Monday at HUD-subsidized Rohrer Towers 1 in his best outfit: a black pinstriped suit, black tie and an oversized, red button-down shirt. Since 2005, he’s lived in a studio apartment outfitted with a police scanner and several television and computer monitors.

“I have no car, so I can stare at the ceiling or bring the world to me,” said the retired computer worker.

Rohrer residents Nancy Leonard, Flo Thompson and Fran Tedesco, a former housing authority board member, vouch for Kiggins, who has no income beyond Social Security.

He pulls all-nighters working on his eviction case. On Monday, he was amped.

“You need to relax, Bill,” Thompson said. “You get all out of control.”

“Don’t tell me to keep calming down,” Kiggins replied. “This is an opportunity for me to get everything out. If we get publicity, HUD will actually have to come out here.”

Leonard, Thompson and Tedesco charge Kiggins is being evicted because he speaks up and challenges Iacovino’s control, starting at a board meeting last year, when Kiggins complained new tenants should not have first dibs at one-bedroom apartments.

Team Kiggins alleges Iacovino doesn’t know how to use a computer and only shows up to work two hours per day. They claim more Rohrer seniors want Iacovino out also because of restrictions he’s placed since taking office in 2009 but are too fearful to file formal complaints.

Then Kiggins got in my face. “You see what I’m talking about now?” he pushed. “I’m making waves because I got four (O’Connell) letters with all lies in them. They have the right to throw me out, according to (a HUD letter), because they lied to HUD.”

Teague and Iacovino, who makes around $26,500 a year as director, deny Team Kiggins’ allegations. Iacovino says he works about 30 hours a week to fulfill job duties monitored by HUD.

Despite not listing computer skills on his resume, Iacovino says he regularly uses his iPad and computer software. (The March 2009 job posting for his position specifically stated candidates must be computer-literate.) Iacovino’s appointment was approved by the state and HUD.

Iacovino and the abrasive Kiggins concede their relationship has been soured by arguments and harassment charges filed by Kiggins against Iacovino that were later thrown out in court.

No one from the housing authority has filed criminal charges against Kiggins. But Iacovino, O’Connell and housing authority Commissioner Mary Berko refuse to tell me why Kiggins is being evicted. They didn’t point to anything in the authority’s tenant handbook, lease agreement or Admission and Continued Occupancy Plan as grounds for eviction.

In a July 7 notice, O’Connell alleged Kiggins disturbs other residents’ right to quiet, citing the latter for allegedly yelling at Iacovino and his two assistants on June 28, 2010.

O’Connell wrote that he understands Kiggins disagrees with Iacovino’s policy to restrict residents from using a common kitchen. He also accuses Kiggins of audio recording conversations, saying that is disruptive.

The authority’s lease says disturbances can cause evictions.

HUD gives local housing authorities control over policies and procedures. In this case, HUD officials talked with Haddon Housing Authority officials before informing Kiggins on Aug. 24 that his eviction would be legitimate. Yet a Newark Field Office director also wrote his office would continue to investigate Kiggins’ allegations against Iacovino.

Kiggins has the right to be represented by an attorney at a grievance hearing or in court but says he hasn’t found an attorney he can afford, even from Legal Services of New Jersey, which provides civil litigation help to the economically challenged. Legal Services told me Wednesday an attorney who could work with Kiggins is on vacation.

In his office Monday, Iacovino would say only that Kiggins hasn’t followed housing authority procedures for about a year.

“He’s been stalking me following my car when I leave,” Iacovino claims. “All we’re asking is for him to abide by the rules. The board wants him out. I don’t have anything against him personally.

“From a human standpoint, I commiserate with him. We would help him find another home. We’d talk to other authorities.”

Later, Kiggins told me where Iacovino could shove that offer.

“I’m not leaving.”


Haddon Township’s Town-Wide Yard Sale this Saturday!

Kevin Riordan: Haddon Twp. landmark gets a start rebuilding

From Philly .com

Coming soon to the Westmont Theatre: A $50,000 grant from the New Jersey Historic Trust.

The money will help pay for the first comprehensive study of the physical condition and redevelopment potential of the vacant building, among the largest commercial structures on Haddon Avenue.

“This is great news,” says Haddon Township Mayor Randy Teague.

“It’s exciting,” says theater historian Allen F. Hauss.

I agree: This beloved – if woebegone – landmark is irreplaceable; it played a starring role in the life of the community for a half-century.

Tight parking may be an obstacle, but if the theater can be reborn as a mixed-use entertainment venue, it could make the commercial heart of Westmont a regional destination.

“There’s a strong group of people who want to see the theater as a film and performing arts venue,” says Brent J. Donaway, whose 2007 documentary about the theater, The Grand Old Lady, is a rallying point for Westmont Theatre lovers.

Opened as a 1,200-seat vaudeville house in 1927 and modernized in the late 1940s, the theater for decades was one of the largest first-run movie houses in suburban Camden County. Hits ranging from The Sound of Music to The Exorcistenjoyed long runs there.

In the early 1980s, the theater was “twinned” into two auditoriums. The final curtain came down on movies in 1987; the Westmont hosted a live theater company, as well as occasional concerts, until about a decade ago.

It has stood silent since, even as the township spruced up Haddon Avenue, and a number of redevelopment proposals for the site, including a cluster of restaurants and a townhouse complex, have come and gone.

Meanwhile, the township, which leases the theater from the Camden County Improvement Authority, made emergency repairs to the marquee and elsewhere in the building. And the “strong group” cited by Donaway continued working to save it.

Margaret Westfield, a preservation consultant based in Haddon Heights, helped get the theater listed on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places last year. Besides making demolition more difficult, the designation paved the way for the funding, which the trust approved Monday.

“This money is going to make all the difference,” Westfield says. “Now we can start moving forward.”

She notes that an extensive vertical crack on an exterior wall suggests “some serious structural problems.” But the interior appears to be in good condition, says Hauss, a Cherry Hill resident and author of South Jersey Movie Houses (Arcadia, 2006).

Hauss, who recently photographed the lobby and other areas inside the theater – where he once worked as a projectionist – is a founding member of a new nonprofit organization that hopes to raise private money for restoration.

That may be a challenge.

“Nobody has really said, ‘Here’s the money,’ ” Hauss notes.

With earlier restoration estimates ranging from $5 million to $7 million, no wonder the Westmont has been something of a touchy political issue in years past. And not everyone in town is eager to see hundreds of people converging on Haddon Avenue for entertainment.

But Teague wants to see the theater restored.

“It would be a nice draw for the entire business district, and it would set us apart from neighboring towns,” he says, noting that the studies should determine the most feasible redevelopment.

“It will give us an idea of what we can pursue.”

Donaway, who grew up in Haddon Township and now lives in Magnolia, says he has long planned a sequel to The Grand Old Lady. But lately, events are moving too quickly to predict.

“The story keeps going,” Donaway says. “Maybe it will end with the Westmont being restored.”

Just a touch of info from Wikipedia

Haddon Township is a Township in Camden County, New Jersey, United States. As of the United States 2010 Census, the township population was 14,707.
By an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on February 23, 1866, Haddon Township was incorporated from portions of Newton Township. The following communities were subsequently created from the Haddon Township: Haddonfield (April 6, 1875), Collingswood (May 22, 1888), Woodlynne (March 19, 1901), Haddon Heights (March 2, 1904), Audubon (March 13, 1905) and Oaklyn (also March 13, 1905)

In 1701, Elizabeth Haddon Estaugh, the daughter of John Haddon, arrived in the American colonies to oversee his large landholdings, which included areas that are now Bluebird, Haddon Township, and Haddonfield. Contemporary Newton Township included land that later became part of Oaklyn, Audubon, Audubon Park, Collingswood, Gloucester City, Woodlynne, Camden, Haddon Heights and Haddonfield. Its first European settlers were Irish who settled in the area of Newton Creek in 1681

In the late 1830s, a runaway slave, who had taken the surname Saddler to avoid detection by his former master, came to New Jersey from a Maryland plantation with his wife and two daughters. Saddler worked for Cy Evans, a local Quaker farmer, from whom he bought fifty acres to farm.[7] The area where Saddler settled became a predominantly black community known as Saddlertown, a stop on the Underground Railroad. Today, the community includes members of other racial groups

Notable current and former residents of Haddon Township include:
Mitch Albom (born 1958), writer.[30]
Laurie Beechman (1953–98), Broadway actress.[31]
Tony Black (born 1951), a record-holding jockey in North American Thoroughbred horse racing.[32]
George E. Brunner (1896-1975), mayor of Camden, New Jersey from 1936 to 1959.[33]
Larry Kane (born 1942), only American reporter whom The Beatles let travel with them on their 1964 North American tour.[34][35][36]
Samuel Vaughn Merrick (1801–70), first President of the Pennsylvania Railroad and co-founder of the Franklin Institute.[37]
Cozy Morley (born 1926), entertainer, singer.[38]
Sal Paolantonio (born 1956), ESPN reporter and writer.[39]
Hannah Whitall Smith (1832–1911), author in the Holiness movement and suffragette [37]
Steven Spielberg (born 1946), motion picture director and producer.[40]
John M. Whitall (1800–77), glass manufacturer and philanthropist.[37]
Julianna White (born 1988), Miss New Jersey USA 2011.[41

Gloucester City (46) at Haddon Township (47), NJSIAA Tournament, Final Round, South Jersey, Group 1

The Star Ledger, March 07, 2011 10:30 p.m.

Sara DeCinque hit a 3-pointer and Jess Donaldson connected on two free throws in overtime period to lift Haddon Township over Gloucester City, 47-46, last night in the final round of the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group 1 tournament in Westmont.

DeCinque finished with 11 points while Donaldson totaled 14 points for Haddon Township, which was led by Jess Brown’s 15 points.

Cori Conner had a game-high 19 points and Gabrielle Cooper chipped in with 12 points for Gloucester City

Snow Removal

Maple Ave sidewalk

Elm Ave sidewalk

This is one side of Maple Ave. and the other hasn’t been touched in the last 3 storms. The other picture would turning the corner.

The streets from what I can see were done very well.

How does your area look?

Share Services?

It seems that the Tax Collector will be losing her position in favor of a part-time person. That person will be coming from Audubon Park as part of shared services. I do not know this person but unless there is previous experience, handling Audubon Park and handling Haddon Twp is a huge difference.

Why not hire internally and have the Asst. Tax Collector take over the duties and then replace the HR/Sr Citizen/whatever else her title is, with a full time person that actually knows what they are doing.

What’s your thought?