Article I wrote for the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad – published in local news outlets in April 2017


Even in our open society where everyone seems to know everyone’s business, depression is still considered a taboo subject among many people.  When you look on social media, the majority of people seem to be having the time of their lives; posting about successful careers, satisfying relationships, well-behaved children, and expensive vacations.  But as we well know, many of these posts do not reflect reality.  Still, it’s enough to silence people who may think that everyone has it together except for them.


Depression can strike anyone at any time.  It crosses all socioeconomic lines and affects both genders at various ages.  Depression is more than just being sad, and you can’t just snap yourself out of it.  It is a long-term mood disorder and leads to a disinterest in things you may have once enjoyed, as well as loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, and body aches and pains.  Even performing day-to-day tasks may be daunting. 


Depression can also lead to thoughts of suicide.  According to WebMD, “in 2014, the last year for which statistics are available, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. That year, there were nearly 43,000 suicides, and 1.3 million adults attempted suicide, according to the CDC. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in people from age 10 to age 34.” Some of the warning signs to look out for can include talking or thinking about death, engaging in risky behaviors, giving away possessions, experiencing a sudden switch from being very sad to extremely happy, and making comments such as “I can’t cope anymore; I want out.”  People used to think that if someone talked about committing suicide, they wouldn’t do it.  We now know that not to be true; this is often a serious cry for help.


If you or anyone you know is showing signs of the above, please reach out for help.  You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). If you are a veteran, press “1” to reach the Veterans Crisis Line. Or contact a mental health professional, your doctor, or a close friend or spiritual leader.  If you believe someone is in imminent danger of hurting him or herself, do not leave that person alone.  Call 911 or if able, take the person to a hospital emergency room.  Do not attribute it to someone just having a bad day, or being dramatic.  This is a true medical emergency.


The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is a volunteer organization of Neighbors Helping Neighbors.  With over 90 volunteers, we answer calls not only in Scotch Plains but in surrounding towns as well when needed.  Besides answering calls, you will see our ambulances at many special events held in town, such as Scotch Plains Day, the Memorial Day Parade, high school football games, and the summer concerts on the Village Green.  We are also available to provide demonstrations for Boys and Girls Scout troops, clubs, and any other group that may be interested in what we do.  In addition, we lend out wheelchairs, crutches, canes and other assorted medical equipment free of charge.  Please reach out to us if there is something we can do for you. or call (908) 322-2103 for non-emergencies.


Author:  Susan Baldani, a life member of the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad.


My Own Spotlight

I usually write “Spotlight on” articles for The Showcase Magazine.  For their spring edition, the magazine has spotlighted me!

Susan Baldani started writing for The Showcase Magazine in the fall of 2013. She has always been a fan of the magazine and couldn’t be happier being part of the team.

Through her “Spotlight on” articles, she has not only been able to provide interesting facts to our readers about the towns around us, but has had fun discovering things about these surrounding communities, including her own hometown of Basking Ridge, NJ. Her research has taken her to many parks, historical buildings, restaurants and shops. As a result, she finds herself traveling back to these places again and again, and hopes the readers have as well.

In addition to articles about small-town life, Sue has also written two fictional novels and many short stories. She also writes Tip of the Month articles about health-related topics which are published in local outlets for the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad, of which she has been a member since 1992. Many of her articles and some of her short stories can be found on her website at

She is also an avid reader and can be found at the local library quite often. When not writing or reading, she works full-time at a language center in Summit, NJ and volunteers with Friends of Valley Brook (a local veteran’s group) and an animal welfare organization in North Jersey. She teaches Sunday school as well at her local church.

Sue received her B.A. in Psychology from Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ, and her Master’s Degree in Education from Kean University in Union, NJ. She looks forward to writing future articles for The Showcase Magazine and sharing them with our readers. If you would like to contact her, please send an email to


The Showcase Magazine – April 2017 edition

The King George Inn
To Be or Not to Be?

By Sue Baldani

Warren is a bucolic town in Somerset County. It is known for its country feel and rustic charm, even though it’s located not far from three major highway systems. Now, this peaceful community is gearing up for a fight to save one of its historical landmarks.

The King George Inn, located at the corner of Mount Bethel Road, Mountain View and King George Road, is a beloved historical fixture with the townspeople. Dating back to the late 1700s, it has had many different incarnations. It was originally built as a private residence, and then added onto over the years to become a commercial building. Before Warren built its town hall in the 1950s, it functioned as a polling place, tax collector’s office, post office and meeting place for town business. It has also been an opera venue, tavern, restaurant and hotel. For a time, it was even a meeting place for church services until Our Lady of the Mount Roman Catholic Church was built and the congregation moved down the road. As stated in the How Old (Really) Is the King George Inn? [From Warren History, Vol. Three, No. 3, Spring 2000] publication, “In 1873 Jacob Blimm, then innkeeper, advertised a stage coach line that ran from the railroad depot in Plainfield to his Mountain Hotel.” The inn was so well known and such a hub in the community that Woodrow Wilson, when running for governor of New Jersey in 1910, campaigned out front.

At the height of its popularity, it was a major gathering place in Warren. With its picturesque views, it was a prime spot for a restaurant and hotel, and had many names over the years, such as Mountain House, The King George, The Inn at Mount Bethel, Vincent’s, Torino Restaurant and Trattoria, Truffles, and Chez Cheese. However, most town people continued to refer to it as the King George Inn, and because it is such a meaningful part of the town’s history, it was included in the logo for Warren’s bicentennial celebration back in 2006.

Due to Hurricane Irene and years of neglect, it is now being threatened with demolition. The most recent owner, Raghav “Rocco” Varma, is a real estate developer who bought the building in 2013. He is now seeking approval from the Warren Township Planning Board to rezone the property since he believes the building is beyond repair and would like to build condos.

A petition to stop the demolition of the building, which has been signed by hundreds of people so far, was started by Max Hayden III, whose family owned the Inn from 1953 to 1988. It reads as follows:

The King George Inn is being threatened with redevelopment which could allow its demolition which would cause an irreparable loss of history as the building has stood for over two hundred years and been used as a tavern for most of those years. We are petitioning the town to seek the restoration/preservation and adaptive re-use of the building as a condition of redevelopment of the property. A team approach to development could benefit both the developer and community by maximizing the use of the land and original part of building while preserving an important part of history. The proposals pending call for its demolition and replacement.

On February 13, 2017, there was a Planning Board Public Meeting to discuss this petition and the board voted 10-0 to recommend the property be designated as a non-condemnation area in need of redevelopment. However, since it is privately owned, it is up to Mr. Varma to ultimately decide what will become of the building. But whether that will be another restaurant, condos, or some other entity is yet to be decided.

Some townspeople do believe it needs to be demolished, or at the very least redeveloped. Broken windows and a lot strewn with trash it not what people want to see when entering the town. When asked for her opinion, Mayor Carolann Garafola responded that “a review of the article on the Warren Township website on the history of the King George Inn indicates that the original building was a private home, there is skepticism that it goes back as far as the date put on the Fireplace, and clearly something needs to be done about this building as right now it is an eyesore. This could be a win-win for the new building to be designed and built in the similar style of the King George Inn, go back to being a home for residents, and become a ratable to help the rest of the taxpayers in Warren. The Planning Board will have control over that. The notion that the town could purchase it at a cost of probably close to $1M then renovate it for anywhere upwards of $2M is a tricky undertaking that could be questionable as this will raise taxes.”

Will the King George Inn continue to make memories, or will the memories of the past have to suffice? We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Susan Baldani has a MA in Education and a BA in Psychology. She enjoys writing and in addition to writing articles on small town life, is currently working on her second book. You can contact her at or at