DPW chief Kerr prepares to call it a career

KEARNY

A loyal Kearny civil servant who will be leaving the town’s employ the end of next month bade an early farewell in spirit.

At its Sept. 12 meeting, the Kearny governing body voted to accept the retirement application of Gerard “Gerry” Kerr, superintendent of Public Works, effective Nov. 1.

Kerr, who will have completed 13 years and two months of service by that date, took the opportunity during the public portion of the meeting to address the mayor and Town Council.

Kerr had a prepared speech but he halted several times in his delivery, clearly overcome with emotion.

He thanked the members of the governing body for their support over the years and credited the patience of residents in cooperating with DPW as his crews struggled to get control of the many “snowstorms and weather-related emergencies” that have hit Kearny during that time.

“I especially want to thank the men and women of the Public Works Department for their hard work,” Kerr said.

After Oct. 31, he said he anticipated spending more quality time with his family.

And, he added, “I will look forward to the first snow in my retirement where I can look out my window and get back in bed.”

Kerr conceded, with tongue in cheek, that it hasn’t all been a bed of roses over the years – particularly with phone calls from the mayor in the wee hours asking about snow conditions around town.

Nor, he added, has it been a pleasant experience “sitting here [in the assembly chambers] on hard benches during council meetings.”

(Municipal department heads are generally expected to attend such gatherings as part of their job, to answer any questions that may arise about their departments.)

“Gerry,” said Mayor Alberto Santos, “you’ve got one of the hardest jobs and you did it well.”

Council members seconded the mayor’s tribute and offered Kerr a round of applause.

Kerr stands to pocket $4,637 in unused vacation and longevity, “subject to change if additional time is taken.”

No decision has been made about Kerr’s replacement, if any, according to the mayor.

The governing body voted to accept two additional employees’ applications for retirement. They are:

Bruce Vaughn, DPW laborer, who departed Sept. 1 after 25 years and three months of service. He is due $2,338 in longevity payments.

Police Officer John M. Telle, who also left Sept. 1 after completing 30 years and one month of service. He will take home $51,095 in terminal leave pay and unused vacation time, “subject to change if additional time is taken.”

In other business, the governing body voted to:

Authorize an emergency appropriation of $736,900 as a “down payment on improvements/capital improvements” in the 2017 municipal budget with the proviso “that said emergency appropriation shall be provided for in full in the 2018 budget.”

Adopt an ordinance approving a financial agreement for a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) for property on Bergen Ave. owned by Hartz Mountain Industries, whose tenant will be operating a refrigerated warehouse at the site. The PILOT is expected to generate about $630,000 annually.

Adopt an ordinance approving an amendment to the Passaic Ave. Redevelopment Plan that will permit development of an “immediate care” medical facility as a “principal permitted use.” Urgent Care will operate such a facility, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., to treat such ailments as ear infections, broken bones, strep throat and the like and to provide flu shots.

Allow three members of the KFSOA/FMBA Local 218 and seven members of the FMBA Local 18 to attend the annual N.J. State FMBA Convention in Atlantic City Sept. 18-21 and permit one member of the KFD to attend the annual N.J. State Firemen’s Convention in Wildwood on Sept. 16.

Appoint Michael Cavalier to the permanent part-time position of Recreation Dept. lifeguard to work a maximum of nine hours per week at the current rate of $15 per hour, effective Sept. 18.

Also, the mayor appointed Kearny High School junior Karina Teixeira as one of the student representatives of the Kearny Municipal Alliance Against Substance Abuse through Dec. 31, 2017.

Ron Leir | Observer Correspondent

Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc. He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter. He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based W.H.A.T. Co. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, N.Y.