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Coccia agent is a 6-time winner



For the sixth time in eight months this year, Billy Pena has been named Realtor of the Month at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Coccia Realty’s Kearny office, Jan R. Kwapniewski, president and owner of BHGRE Coccia Realty announced this week.

In August, Pena closed eight transactions, and to date in 2014, he’s closed 22 deals with a volume of $6.6 million, according to NJMLS statistics. He has seven pending transactions coming in September, as well.

The only agent who has closed more deals is Pena’s business partner, Amelia Pena, also a realtor with BHGRE | Coccia Realty. Year-to-date she has closed 25 transactions with a sales volume of $7.75 million.

Pena’s territory includes Harrison, Kearny, North Arlington and Lyndhurst. He specializes in residential, multifamily and income producing properties.

“Billy has been with us for over three years now, and he’s consistently been one of our top performers in the West Hudson County and South Bergen County areas,” Kwapniewski said. “I am very happy Billy decided to get into real estate after spending years as a financial advisor. He’s been a tremendous asset to our company.”

When asked about the qualities that contributed to Pena’s success, Kwapniewski credits Pena’s diligence, tenacity, market knowledge and customer service. “He also assimilated, quite well, the systems, technologies and tools provided to us by BHGRE and learned how to incorporate them into his business plan, providing his clients with exemplary service.”

Pena obtained his New Jersey real estate salesperson’s license in 2003. After spending a decade as a financial services advisor he transitioned into real estate sales over three years ago. He says he really enjoys the flexibility being a real-estate agent offers him, something that wasn’t possible in the corporate world.

“In the corporate America, there’s very little wiggle room in terms of working hours and production,” Pena said. “Here, I know I have freedom and flexibility. And I know there’s not that rigid structure to deal with. It’s a great life. I get to meet terrific people and help them realize their amazing goals and dreams. It’s a wonderful feeling when you help a person achieve something so personal and significant.”

That same flexibility allows him to be involved in numerous activities outside of real estate.

He currently serves on the Kearny Urban Enterprise Zone’s board of commissioners (KUEZ), is a member of the Pre-Cana team at St. Stephen’s Church, Kearny (marriage-preparation team), a member of the St. Stephen’s baptism-prep team and is a member of the Kearny Portuguese Cultural Association. He is a member of the National Association of Realtors and the New Jersey Association of Realtors.

The 35-year-old Kearny High School (1998) and Montclair State University graduate is married to Susana Pena, an elementary school teacher. They have a 4-year-old son, Lucas. To contact Pena, call him on his mobile at 201-232-4339 or send an email to billy@mycoccia.com.

BHGRE Coccia Realty, privately owned by Jan R. Kwapniewski, serves Hudson, Bergen, Morris, Essex, Passaic and Union counties. It was established in 1961 by Joseph Coccia Jr. In 1989, the company transitioned to new ownership and has since been led by Kwapniewski, who has modernized and grown the company while adhering to the original values of high standards, service and trust that were instilled in him by the original owner.

Coccia employs more than 100 agents, many of whom are multi-lingual speaking Spanish, English, Italian, Portuguese, Czech, Greek, Hindi, Macedonian, Chinese, Russian, Slovak, Ukrainian and Polish. Its associates are seasoned agents with many years of service and have won numerous sales awards and accolades from various organizations. Offices are open seven days a week.

BHGRE Coccia’s year-todate includes closing over 190 transactions in 2014, totaling over $62 million in volume, according to statistics released by the New Jersey Multiple Listing Service (NJMLS).

For more information, call 201-997-7000, or visit www.cocciarealty.com or facebook.com/cocciarealty.

Around Town


Bloomfield Public Library, 90 Broad St., offers the following activities:

• Yoga Class is held on the last Monday of the month through November, on Sept. 29, Oct. 27 and Nov. 24, all at 6 p.m.

• Book Club meets on Monday, Oct. 6, 6:45 to 7:45 p.m., to discuss “Blessings” by Anna Quindlen. For more information, call the reference desk at 973-566-6200, ext. 219 or 220.

The Historical Society of Bloomfield presents a slide show festival Sunday, Sept. 28, at the Civic Center, 84 Broad St. Admission is free. Bloomfield architecture, from 1880’s to 1920’s will be the focus from 1 to 2 p.m., followed by the Morris Canal from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., and historic sites of Bloomfield, from 4 to 5 p.m.

East Newark

West Hudson Brave Women Fighting Breast Cancer meets on the last Friday of every month, 7 to 9 p.m., at the East Newark Senior Center, 37 President St. For more information, call Emma at 201-998-6828, Rosa at 201-246- 7750, Fatima at 973-485-4236 or email emidura2@yahoo.com.



Harrison Downtown Community Development Partnership and Neighborhood Preservation Program sponsors a Flea Market and Collectible Show Saturday, Sept. 27, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Harrison Ave., between Second St. and Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. Admission is free. Four exhibitor spaces are available for free to any school or local organization. Call 201-998-1144 for a reservation.


Kearny Police Department, 237 Laurel Ave., in partnership with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, participates in Operation Take Back Sept. 27, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Turn in expired, unused or unwanted prescription or over the counter medication. This is an anonymous drop-off. No ID required. Participants are asked to use the department’s Forest St. door for the Juvenile Aid Bureau. For more information, call Officer Jack Corbett at 201-998-1313, ext. 2820.

Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., invites children ages 5 to 12 to read to Fosse the Therapy Dog at the library Wednesday, Oct. 1, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Each session will be 10 minutes long and will be open to a limited number of children. To reserve a spot, call the library at 201-998-2555.

Kearny Lions Club sponsors a bus trip to Sands Casino, Bethlehem, Pa., Sept. 27, leaving from 60 Kingsland Ave. at 9 a.m. Price is $35. Tickets include $20 for slots and a $5 food voucher. For tickets, call Alvin at 201-997-9371, ext. 18, or Jo Ann at 201-998-3018.

Redemptoris Mater Seminary, Kearny, sponsors a 5K run Sunday, Sept. 28, beginning on S. Midland Ave. at 6 p.m. This run is one of many events being held to raise much-needed funds for the seminary. There is a $25 registration fee. More information is available at www.rmnewark.org or fathermanuel@gmail. com.

Presbyterian Boys-Girls Club, 663 Kearny Ave., is open on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays, 7 to 9 p.m. Children ages 8 to 17 may use the club’s gym, pool tables, electronic games and more. The club plans to offer a teen basketball league and monthly dances, among other activities. For more information, call 201-991-6734.


Registration is open for a walk to benefit the American Diabetes Association set for Sunday, Oct. 5, at Riverside County Park, Riverside Ave. (entrance on Valley Brook Ave.) Participants must check in at 9 a.m. and the walk begins at 11 a.m. The event will include vendors, health seminars and activities for kids. To register, visit www.diabetes.org/lyndhurstwalk.

As of Sept. 22, the Lyndhurst Food Pantry, 253 Stuyvesant Ave., resumed normal business hours, Monday to Thursday, 1 to 3:30 p.m. Interested patrons must submit proof of need to the Health Department, 601 Riverside Ave., Suite 1. For more information, call the department at 201- 804-2500.

United Presbyterian Church, 511 Ridge Road, hosts a Victorian tea, sponsored by the Meadowlands Museum, Sunday, Sept. 28, 3 to 6 p.m. The event includes a lecture on the history and preparation of tea plus live music.Tickets are $30 and are available at the museum, 91 Crane Ave., Rutherford, Wednesdays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Lyndhurst Public Library, 355 Valley Brook Ave., announces the following programs. Registration is required for both. To register, call the library at 201-804- 2478:

• Autumn craft program for grades 1 to 4 Monday, Sept. 29, 3:30 to 4:15 p.m.

• Young Adult Book Club for grades 7-12, is looking for new members. The group’s next meeting is Wednesday, Oct. 1 t 6 p.m. to discuss “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green. For more information or to join, you may also email reference@lyndhurst. bccls.org.

Lyndhurst Health Department, 601 Riverside Ave., hosts its bi-annual women’s health clinic, arranged through a partnership with Clara Maass Medical Center, on Wednesday, Oct. 1, at 9 a.m. It includes education on breast self-examination and a PAP test and is open to township residents ages 18 and over. For an appointment, call the department at 201-804- 2500.

Lyndhurst Town-Wide Yard Sale to benefit the Lyndhurst High School auditorium restoration project and the Barringer-Walker-Lopinto American Legion Post 139 Scholarship Fund is slated for Saturday, Sept. 27, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Maps will be available, along with coffee and a continental breakfast, from 8 to 11 a.m., at the post hall at Webster and Park Aves. The post will also offer lunch from noon to 5 p.m. More than 100 homes have registered for this bargain hunter’s paradise. For more information, call the post at 201-933-4120.

American Legion Post 139, 217 Webster Ave., announces the following events. For tickets or more information on these events, call the Post at 201-933-4120.

• A pancake breakfast is set for Sept. 28, 8 to 11 a.m. Admission is $5 at the door.

• The eighth annual Clam Lover’s Family Barbecue is slated for Oct. 4, 1 to 6 p.m. Advance tickets cost $25. Includes all-you-can-eat clams steamed and on the half-shell and much more. Call the Post to reserve your tickets.

• The Post’s Rehabilitation Committee holds a ward party for veterans at Chestnut Hill Extended Care facility, Passaic, Tuesday, Sept. 30, at 2:30 p.m. Post members conduct games of chance and distribute treats to bed-ridden veterans. Anyone interested in sponsoring a ward party is invited to call 201-438-2255.

North Arlington 

North Arlington Volunteer Fire Department sponsors its annual boot drive Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 27 and 28, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Firefighters will be stationed at major intersections throughout the borough collecting money for the fireman’s fund, which is used to help finance civic activities, scholarships and athletic teams.

North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Road, invites folks to learn all about the history of newspapers in the United States with journalist Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta at the library, Tuesday, Sept. 30, at 6:30 p.m.

The Senior Harmony Club of North Arlington sponsors a trip to Trump Taj Mahal, Atlantic City, Tuesday, Oct. 21. Cost of the trip is $25. Attendees will receive $30 in slot play and $5 for food. Nonmembers are welcome to attend. For reservations or more information, call Florence at 201-991-3173.

North Arlington Woman’s Club sponsors a beefsteak fundraiser set for Friday, Oct. 24, 7 to 11 p.m., at the Knights of Columbus hall, 194 River Road. Tickets are $40. Proceeds benefit various local charities. For tickets and more information, call Christine at 201-577-1088 or Fran Sardoni at 973-818-6421.


Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive, hosts the following programs. Registration is not required unless otherwise noted. To register or for more information, call 973-667- 0405.

• P.J. Storytime, open to all ages, on Monday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m.

• Teen Book Club meets on Tuesday, Sept. 30, at 3:30 p.m.

• Ages 8 and up are invited to teach a librarian about the three -dimensional online world of Minecraft on Monday, Sept. 29, at 3:30 p.m.

• Children ages 28 months and under and their caregivers may enjoy nursery rhymes, stories and playtime on Tuesday, Sept. 30, at 9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Only Nutley residents may participate. Registration is required.

• Meet Catherine Greenfeder, author of “Wildflowers,” Monday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m.

The Department of Parks and Recreation, 44 Park Ave., offers the following programs. For more information, call 973-284-4966, between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

• Art Workshop – Open to grades 1 to 6, this eight-week program resumes Oct. 11. Classes will be held Saturdays at the department. The fee is $30 per child. Class size is limited and applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Online registration is available at https://nutleynj. my.gov-i.com/recreation.

• Heartsaver CPR and AED training – Parents, coaches and child-care providers are encouraged to attend this three-hour class, available Thursday, Sept. 25, or Tuesday, Oct. 14, at the department. Registration fee is $65. Class size is limited. Registration, on a first-come first-served basis, is available online or at the department.

During Civic Pride Day, Sept. 28, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 1 William St., Nutley. Red Cross volunteers will provide information to help families learn how to be better prepared for emergencies.

The Department of Public Affairs, in collaboration with the Fine Art Alliance of Nutley, host the Kingsland Manor Experience an interactive art show in which artists will be creating new work using various media as patrons walk the grounds of Kinglsland Manor, 3 Kingsland Rd. The show is slated for Saturday, Oct. 4, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A suggested donation of $5.00 per person will be collected at the door, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Kingsland Manor.

Notes from the KPD blotter

Sept. 14 

Officer Chris Levchak, on patrol at 5:45 a.m., saw a man asleep behind the wheel of a car at a stoplight on Schuyler Ave. at Bergen Ave. The auto was running and the driver’s foot was on the brake, police said. Levchak secured the vehicle and reportedly detected the odor of alcohol. Gerard Reimers, 24, of Kearny, was brought to headquarters for an Alcotest and was charged with DWI, DWI in a school zone, and driving an unregistered vehicle.

Sept. 15 

At noon, Officer Jack Corbett and Sgt. Paul Bershefski responded to a report of several youths being threatened by a man in the area of Chestnut St. and Midland Ave. After interviewing them, the officers located and arrested Victor Vigilante, 50, of Kearny on charges of making terroristic threats and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes.

Sept. 16 

Officer Steve Hroncich and Det. Bryant Obie responded to a noon report of a verbal dispute involving a man with a knife at a business at Kearny Ave. and Halstead St. Raul Polanco, 42, of Kearny was charged with aggravated assault and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes.

Sept. 17 

Vice detectives, at Passaic and Johnston Aves. at 12:30 p.m., observed Scott Huaman, 24, of Kearny, whom they knew to have an outstanding Kearny warrant. After confirming this, they approached Huaman, who fled on foot along Passaic, police said. Overtaken and tackled, he reportedly fought efforts to handcuff him was charged with resisting arrest along with the aforementioned warrant. Police said that stemmed from a Sept. 9 incident in which he allegedly broke the jaw of a 26-year-old Kearny man.

Sept. 18 

At 7:40 p.m., the KPD received reports of two individuals attempting to enter a half-dozen parked vehicles on the 160 block of Hoyt St. Officers Brian Wisely and Frank West located and detained suspects Douglas Welfl, 29, and Alexander Harkes, 30, both of Kearny, who were arrested after Det. Ray Lopez obtained witness statements.

Harkes was charged with burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary and attempted burglary/theft. Police said he also had three warrants — two from Kearny, one from Newark.

Welfl was charged with conspiracy to commit burglary, attempted burglary and possession of burglar tools.

– Karen Zautyk 

Lucas tells all in poignant book ‘Under Pressure’


Harrison’s favorite son writes about battles with painkillers


By Jim Hague

 Observer Sports Writer 

Ray Lucas makes no bones about where he’s from. He’s Harrison through and through.

If you have a lengthy conversation with the former Jets quarterback and current television and radio football analyst, Lucas is bound to mention his hometown a dozen times.

“Growing up in Harrison, playing sports was everything,” said Lucas, who just released a poignant and powerful memoir, entitled “Under Pressure: How Playing Football Almost Cost Me Everything and Why I’d Do It Again.”

“The way Harrison sports were, if you weren’t tough, you didn’t survive,” Lucas said. “Sports were the equalizer in Harrison. Harrison football was the right of passage. You got the right to wear your jersey to school on Friday before the game. That was huge. I got to do it as a freshman. That’s what shaped me.”

Lucas, who went from Harrison High School to Rutgers to the NFL and stints with the Jets, New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins, now works as an announcer on the Rutgers radio network and on SNY covering the Jets, was talked into writing a book about his life by his agent, Mark Lepsetter.

“He said it like three years ago that I should write a book,” said Lucas, who worked on the book with author David Seigerman. “After everything I went through and where I came from, I started thinking about it. I talked to my wife (Cecy) and we decided to do it.”

The book, released recently by Triumph Books and found in bookstores and on line at Amazon.com, enables Lucas to tell his remarkable tale from growing up in Harrison, coming from a controversial family background to eventually tackling the demons of severe drug addiction to prescription pain medications.

Lucas was born in 1972 out of wedlock. His father was serving in Vietnam when his mother became pregnant by another man, an African-American.

“Out popped the chocolate boy wonder,” Lucas writes in his book.

When Tom Lucas came home from Vietnam, he married Ray’s mother and raised Ray as his own.

“My Dad is the greatest man I’ve ever known,” Lucas said. “I still try to be half the man he is.”

As Lucas got older, he heard the talk from people in town.

“I was in the sixth or seventh grade and I used to get beat up in school,” Lucas said. “I was the only black kid around. I didn’t know any better. He was my father and my mother was my mother. My sister was my sister and she’s white. I never had the guts to ask my Dad what happened. The man’s not my biological father, but he’s my Dad. He told me that he loved my mother too much to leave her be alone.”

Lucas became an All-State football and basketball player at Harrison High, eventually earning a scholarship to Rutgers to play football. At Rutgers, under head coach Doug Graber, Lucas flourished as the quarterback in one of the best offenses in the East. It led to a tryout with the New England Patriots, earning the respect of head coach Bill Parcells, who wrote the forward to Lucas’ book. Parcells took a major liking to Lucas and gave him a spot on the Patriots’ roster, even if it meant Lucas had to play special teams.

It opened the door for Lucas’ six-year career in the NFL, but it also led to more serious problems. Lucas had neck and back injuries that led to a host of surgeries and forced him to take any and all kinds of painkillers.

“I have a four-inch plate and eight screws in my neck,” Lucas said. “I’ve had three neck surgeries, two back surgeries, three right shoulder surgeries and one right elbow surgery. I’ve also had four right knee and three left knee surgeries.”

Four years ago, Lucas’ addiction to painkillers became totally out of control.

“I couldn’t look in the mirror anymore,” Lucas said. “I didn’t know who I was. I was taking 1,400 pills a month. Oxycontin, Percocet, you name it, I’d take it. I made sure I always had enough. I was down to 168 pounds. I was sick, really sick.”

Lucas was getting assistance from P.A.S.T. Retired Athletes Medical Resource Group after he had another surgery.

“They asked me to tell my story in Dallas,” Lucas said. “I didn’t want anyone to know my story and to know I was an addict. I made the decision to go to Dallas and when I got there, I knew I wasn’t alone.”

Lucas went straight to a drug rehabilitation facility in West Palm Beach for six weeks.

“I don’t even remember the first three days,” Lucas said. “I took 30 pills right off the plane and another 20 before I got to the place. The first day, I went through withdrawal and I wouldn’t ask that on anyone. It was extremely difficult.”

Lucas said that he went to rehab very defensive.

“I couldn’t trust anyone,” Lucas said. “I was extremely guarded. I didn’t have any of my friends around. I didn’t see my wife for four weeks. Once she came to see me and opened up to me, it was so good to see her. It was like seeing her for the very first time.”

Lucas’ courage in writing the book is incredible. It can’t be easy being a public figure, especially a beloved sports hero in his hometown, where he lives once again with his wife and three daughters, and opening up his private life in print.

“I feel blessed,” Lucas said. “When you screw something up so badly, you want to know how to fix it. I wanted to be a great father, a great husband, a great son, a great friend. I worked my tail off to get better. Now, everything tastes better and looks better. I love what I’m able to do now.”

Lucas realizes that he will never be pain free ever again. But he won’t go back to pharmaceuticals to cure the ills.

“My knees hurt, my back hurts, my neck hurts,” Lucas said. “But I’m choosing to deal with it. None of the pain is bad enough that I have to reach for something. I’m not afraid of a gun or a knife, but I am afraid of a little white thing. I know I don’t take my wife and kids for granted anymore.”

Lucas, now 42 years old, discussed the motivation for writing the book.

“I think it was something for me to do to reach someone who is suffering in silence,” Lucas said. “When you go through everything I went through, you want people to know that everything gets better. I never thought in a million years that I would become an author. It’s insane. When I started this, I wanted to make sure it was in my voice. That meant everything to me. It’s just another way for me to reach people.

Added Lucas, “The book has something for everyone. There’s a football aspect to it. There’s a life aspect to it.”

Lucas also spoke about getting Parcells involved in the book.

“Bill Parcells is the second greatest man I’ve ever met, next to my Dad,” Lucas said. “We’ve had some good times together and some tough times. I love the guy. He had no problems with me coming in and playing special teams for him. We talk still all the time. He always calls my wife the wrong name. But he truly cares about me. I knew that early on. I guess it was the Jersey Boy connection. We had mutual respect for each other from the very first day.”

Just like Ray Lucas has respect for himself nowadays, after all he endured, as written in his excellent book.

“Under Pressure: How Playing Football Almost Cost Me Everything and Why I’d Do It All Again,” by Ray Lucas and David Seigerman, is out in book stores and on Amazon.com.

A return to glory for NA girls’ volleyball


By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

There was a time when North Arlington High School had a perennial power in girls’ volleyball.

Led by Hall of Fame head coach Don Cooper, the Vikings were one of the premier programs in northern New Jersey, culminated with the 2004 NJSIAA Group I state championship.

However, in recent years, the Vikings had fallen on somewhat of tough times. Head coach Bernadette Afonso had been working diligently to get the program back on the right track.

“Even with the tradition we had here, I knew it was going to take a couple of years,” said Afonso, currently in her sixth season as the head coach. “It’s tough filling the shoes of someone like Don Cooper. We did have some frustrating moments.”

But Afonso saw some light at the end of the tunnel last year, when the Vikings flirted with a .500 record and ended with a 14-15 mark.

“We started to play real well together last year,” Afonso said. “We have a good group of coachable young ladies.”

Now having a senior dominated roster, the Vikings knew that this was their last chance to make a mark.

“We feel like we put so much work into it for the past four years,” said senior outside hitter Leandra Acosta. “We knew we could have a good team this year. We had the potential to do some great things.”

“We haven’t had the best of times over the last four years,” said senior Lisbeth Infante. “This year, we’re trying to make up for it.”

The Vikings have exploded out of the gate in 2014, winning seven of their first nine matches.

“We’re like a family,” said senior middle hitter Elizabeth Danco. “We’re all on the same page.”

Afonso likes the way her team has jelled at the right time.

“We’re playing with consistency and confidence,” Afonso said. “And we’re sticking to that. We’re going to see what we can do from here on. Our seniors have really come together and we’re moving in the direction to where we want to be. Their commitment has been excellent. I’m not surprised with the way we’ve started. They’ve been with me for four years and I’ve watched them develop. It’s all coming into place at the right time.”

Afonso likes the Vikings’ attention to detail.

“They’re all students of the game now,” Afonso said. “They realize what they have to do. They play relaxed and play together and that’s the key.”

In a sport like volleyball, where each player has to rely on her teammates, togetherness is essential.

“They do have great chemistry together,” Afonso said. “Chemistry is 99 percent of this game. We had teams in the past that had equal or better skill, but they didn’t play together like this group.”

Senior setter Alexis Rosko took the time in the offseason to play club volleyball to get better.

“It’s a tough job being the setter,” Afonso said. “It’s a trying position to play. But she grew to love the position.”

Former Viking great Ashley Marrero, who played on the 2004 state championship squad, came in to help Rosko transition into becoming a solid setter.

“I learned a lot from her,” Rosko said. “I think because we weren’t expected to do anything, to be where we are, it makes it all more rewarding.”

“The more success she had at the position, the better we became,” Afonso said. “The setter runs everything. Her play is very important.”

Danco has been solid at the net, collecting 10 kills and six service aces per game.

“She’s a very versatile and smart player,” Afonso said of Danco.

Junior Melanie Goffredo is another solid player at the net.

“She’s our most improved player from last year,” Afonso said of Goffredo, who is collecting six kills per game and also has excellent passing skills.

Junior Brianna Wilson is the Vikings’ other player at the net.

“Her skills are improving,” Afonso said. “She’s the first server of the match, so she gets us going. She’s also our most consistent server.”

Acosta has developed into a fine hitter.

“Her skills are improving with every game,” Afonso said. “She’s not the tallest girl in the world, but she’s not afraid to block on the outside. She’s quick at the net and she’s not intimidated at all.”

“I see the banner and the stuff from the 2004 state championship team all the time,” Acosta said. “I say that we can do it as well. It’s definitely a great motivation, because we want to be state champs.”

Infante has also improved tremendously.

“Her confidence level is where it needs to be,” Afonso said. “I’m looking forward to watching her keep improving.”

“This is definitely a reward for our hard work,” Infante said. “Everything is going well this year.”

The Vikings have been getting contributions off the bench from junior setter Yohanna Gonzalez, junior back row player Alyssa Romano and junior setter Tizana Cristiano.

Needless to say, volleyball is a lot more pertinent and exciting this fall in North Arlington.

“It’s been a blast,” Afonso said. “I’m so happy for the girls. When you have chemistry like this, you find success. These girls were able to stick it out, work hard and now we see the results.”

The results are a winning volleyball team in North Arlington – once again.

Lyndhurst continues winning ways in girls’ soccer


By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer

It’s never easy when a high school girls’ soccer program has to replace a handful of graduating seniors. But the Lyndhurst High School program lost 12 seniors at last June’s commencement exercises, a staggering total for a small school.

The Golden Bears saw standouts like Grace Tomko, Dina Ingenito and Amanda Nowak move on, the latter two currently playing for the Felician College women’s soccer program. It’s a lot for one program to overcome.

However, the Golden Bears haven’t missed a beat thus far in 2014, winning five of their first six matches, including three straight shutout wins last week against Ridgefield, Queen of Peace and Dwight- Englewood.

The Golden Bears also won three straight contests by identical 8-0 margins. That’s a pretty impressive scoring outburst. Since losing in the season opener to New Milford, Lyndhurst has rolled off five straight wins, all via shutout.

Still, head coach Kim Hykey _ one of the greatest players in the school’s history now serving as coach at her alma mater _ believes that the Golden Bears’ best soccer is ahead of them.

“I still think it’s going to be a transition period,” said Hykey, now in her fourth season as head coach. “The talent is there. It’s just going to take a little time.”

The Golden Bears have a new goalkeeper this season in Sara Barreiros, who has been nothing short of brilliant thus far, posting five straight clean sheets after allowing just one goal in the opening loss to New Milford.

“She has the potential to be a good one,” Hykey said of Barreiros. “She’s not afraid to come out of the goal and hold the line.”

Sophomore Kelsie Kearns inherits the role of being the team’s sweeper. Kearns started as a freshman last year.

“She’s super tough and super fast,” Hykey said. “She’s a warrior back there. She plays bigger than her size.”

Claudia Engels, another sophomore, is the team’s stopper. Engles is also a returning starter.

Sophomore Caitlyn Blake and juniors Joanne Arvanitakis and Gabrielle Franchino are the other defenders who have obviously stood out thus far.

“The back line is young, but experienced,” Hykey said. “I love it, because it means our future is bright back there. Every coach would love to have a young and experienced back line.”

In the midfield, the Golden Bears will count on senior Giana DiTonto, one of just two returning senior starters from the team that went to the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group II semifinals a year ago.

DiTonto collected an astounding 22 assists last year, but Hykey is looking for a little bit more this year. “

She’s going to have to find the net a few more times this year,” said Hykey of DiTonto, who had two goals last year.

“We need her to think shot and not pass a little more this year.” So far, DiTonto has obliged to her coach’s wishes, as she has already surpassed last year’s goal total with five and has amassed an incredible 10 assists in six games. DiTonto is well on her way to a spectacular season.

Jessica Failace has also been a force in the midfield, scoring three goals thus far.

Sophomore Amanda Fulcher, who scored seven goals last year as a freshman, already has six goals this season.

The biggest contribution thus far has come from junior forward Destiny Keith, who has six goals, tied with Fulcher for the team lead.

“She has all the talent in the world and the speed to be very special,” Hykey said of Keith.

Freshman Isabella Pimenta has also contributed as a forward, scoring two goals and adding three assists.

What is truly remarkable about the Golden Bears thus far is that 11 different players have scored at least one goal, which means Hykey is getting a lot of players involved and they are all contributing in a positive manner.

For example, defender Blake has scored two goals already. Engels has also scored a goal and added three assists.

Mia Luna has scored three goals coming off the bench.

There is offensive firepower throughout the lineup, which bodes well for the future. So this might have been a work in progress, but the results have been outstanding thus far.

“We had to grow up in a hurry,” Hykey said. “I think more importantly right now is that we have to stay healthy.”

The Golden Bears already suffered a tough loss to injury, when talented sophomore midfielder Gabrielle Carrion went down with a broken foot. Carrion is working her way back to top playing shape and should be fine in the coming weeks. Carrion scored three goals and had four assists last year as a freshman.

“We can definitely compete,” Hykey said. “We just needed other people to step up. But we’ll be alright. We’ll be fine.”

Sure looks that way so far.


Myrtle Fette 

Myrtle Fette, of North Arlington, died on Sept. 19 at Care One in Paramus. She was 95.

Visiting will be on Tuesday, Sept. 23, from 10 a.m. at the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral home 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral service will begin at 11 a.m., followed by burial at Hollywood Memorial Park.

Myrtle is survived by her daughter Carole Petach and four grandchildren.

Rosina Macrina

Rosina Macrina “Rose” (nee Pirro), died on Sept. 20. She was 75.

Born in Gasperina, Italy she moved to Kearny in 1959.

Visiting will be on Tuesday, Sept. 23, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass was held Wednesday, Sept. 24, 10 a.m. in Queen of Peace Church. Entombment will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery. To leave online condolences please visit www.armitagewiggins.com

Rose is survived by her husband Nicola and her daughter and son-in-law Mary Ann and Salvatore Pastino. Sister of Rachele Macrina and the late Costantino, she is also survived by her grandchildren Joseph and Christopher.

In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to Immaculate Conception Seminary 400 South Orange Ave., South Orange, NJ 07079 www.theology.shu.edu.

Anthony McDermott 

Anthony J. McDermott “Tony Mac”, 86 died on Sept. 17.

Arrangements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass was offered at Queen of Peace Church, North Arlington, followed by interment at Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.

Condolences and memories may be shared at www.thielereid.com.

Mr. McDermott was born in Longford, Ireland. He immigrated to the United States in 1958. He lived in Kearny for 40 years before moving to Toms River then to Keyport.

He was a bar manager at Dick O’ Leary’s in East Rutherford. Previously, he was the bar manager at Teddy’s Cocktail Lounge in Kearny for many years.

Anthony loved golf, Gaelic Football and the trotter horses.

He is survived by his wife Norah (nee Kane); two daughters Maureen Hansen and her husband John and Eileen Armitage and her husband Ernest; two sons John Mc- Dermott and his wife Nancy and Kevin McDermott and his wife Sheri; one sister Veronica Cappelo and her husband John and 11 grandchildren; Shannon, Caitlin, John Jr., Ernest, Kane, Keely, Mary, Eilish, Liam, Kyla and Jessica. He also leaves behind his dog Bigelow.

Antonio C. Prata 

Antonio C. Prata, 82, of Wood-Ridge, formerly of North Arlington, died on Sept. 15.

Mr. Prata was born in Aldeias, Gouveia, Portugal and lived in North Arlington before moving to Wood- Ridge 22 years ago. He was a longshoreman with Maher Terminals, Newark, for 33 years, retiring 16 years ago. He was a member of the I.L.A. Local 1235, Newark, and was a member of The Sport Club Portuguese, Newark.

He was the beloved husband of 49 years of Maria Acucena Ascenso Prata; dear father of Jose, Antonio, Carlos and Paulo Prata; loving grandfather of Antonio, Gabrielle, Vincente, Alex, Nelson, Lauren, Sofia and Sabrina. He is also survived by one brother and two sisters in Portugal.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A Mass of Christian burial was officiated at Queen of Peace Church, North Arlington, followed by interment in Holy Cross Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, a donation to The American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org) would be appreciated.

Martha A. Repp 

Martha A. Repp died peacefully on Sept. 12 in Lebanon, Ill. She was 86.

Born in Newark, she lived in Kearny for many years before moving to Illinois to be close to her son.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral Mass was held at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Clifton, followed by burial in Holy Cross Cemetery. Online condolences may be sent to www.armitagewiggins.com.

Martha had 26 years of service with the U.S. Postal service before retiring in 1999. She was a caring, loving and giving person, with a heart of gold. She traveled the world, enjoyed a good time and never met a person she didn’t like. She was predeceased by her husband Joseph of 53 years, her parents James and Anna Metsopulos, her brothers Charles, George, Jerry, Louis, Nick and sister Helen.

She is survived by her beloved son Joseph and his wife Nancy; grandsons Nicholas and Thomas; and her brothers Peter and John. She holds a special place in her heart for Daniel and Gabrielle. Also surviving are sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews.

Joseph F. Stutz 

Joseph F. Stutz, 86, died peacefully at home in East Hanover surrounded by his loving family on Sept. 17.

Arrangements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral Mass was offered at Holy Family Church, Florham Park on Sept. 20, followed by interment in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, East Hanover. Condolences and memories may be shared at www.thiele-reid.com

Joseph was born in West New York and raised in East Orange. He has lived in East Hanover for the last 43 years. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II.

Mr. Stutz was an administrative assistant for Edwards and Kelcey in Livingston for 40 years retiring in 1989.

Mr. Stutz was a member of the East Hanover Seniors and was a volunteer at St. Rose of Lima Church Bingo. He enjoyed daily bike rides, solving Sudoku puzzles, writing poetry and attending daily Mass.

He is survived by his beloved wife Maureen (nee Downing); two cherished daughters Helen S. Thiele and her husband Steven and Cathy A. Weiner and her husband Ross; one sister Patricia Saul and his six wonderful grandchildren Brendan, Jonathan, Ryan and Jeremy Thiele and Ethan and Anna Weiner.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Foundation for Faces of Children, Joseph Stutz Memorial Donation, 258 Harvard St., #367 Brookline, MA 02446- 2904 or at www.facesofchildren.org.

Erica Thompson 

Erica Thompson passed away Sept. 12 at Orange Regional Medical Center, Mid dletown, N.Y. She was only 19.

Born in Hackensack, she lived in Hackettstown and Kearny.

Private arrangements were handled through the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home in Kearny. If you care to leave an online condolence, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Erica graduated from Queen of Peace High School where she enjoyed cheering. She was currently a sophomore fashion major at Montclair State University, with plans to finish at F.I.T. in New York City. She loved her part-time job at Charming Charlie’s both in Clifton and New York.

Although Erica’s life ended far too soon, she lives on not only in the hearts of her adoring family but through the selfless and loving act of her mother, Donna. Erica’s organs were donated and so far, we know of seven young people saved by this beautiful gift of life.

Erica leaves behind her mother Donna (Loy) Thompson, her uncle Alexander and aunt Margaret Loy and her grandmother Connie Loy. She was predeceased by her loving grandfather Al Loy.

If you care to make a memorial donation to honor Erica’s life, kindly consider The Make A Wish Foundation.

Henry A. Way 

Henry “Hank” A. Way died on Sept. 14, in The Care One at Wellington. He was 74.

Born in Franklin Square, N.Y., he lived in North Arlington before moving to Kearny in 1970.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. Cremation was private. To leave online condolences, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Hank was devoted to his Masonic life and was a past master and a proud member of Adoniram Masonic Lodge 80, Lyndhurst.

Husband of Kathleen (nee Smith), he is survived by his son Steven Way, his daughter Kathleen and her husband Ramon Rodriguez. He is also survived by his granddaughter Alexis Ella.

In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to The American Cancer Society.

Alexander Jack Willman 

Alexander Jack Willman, 87, died on Sept. 15, at Carolina East Medical Center in New Bern, N.C.

A memorial service was held at the First Presbyterian Church, 400 New St., New Bern, on Sept. 22.

Jack was born and raised in Kearny, graduated from Kearny High School, and served in the U.S. Navy. Jack worked as the manager of Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Newark for many years, and served as president of the N.J. Cemetery Association, before retiring with his wife to New Bern.

Jack is survived by his wife of 32 years, Darlene Willman; three daughters: Jill Witkowski of Laurence Harbor, Judy Pfeifer of Manassas, Va., and Jill Saxby of Cape Elizabeth, Maine; three sons: Alexander J. Willman Jr. of East Windsor, Gary Willman of Lake Como, and Scott Willman of Newark; nine grandchildren: Andrew, Sarah, Tyler, Amanda, Ryan, Patrick, Shannon, Kevin, and Erika and three great-grandchildren: Benjamin, Jamison, and Eilee. Jack was also predeceased by his sister Gladys Anderson, and by his grandson James.

‘Sober House’ rattles residents


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 


The corner house at Grand Place and Stewart Ave. doesn’t really stand out in any particular way, but it’s drawn a lot of attention from neighbors – and not in a good way. Many packed the assembly chambers at last Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting to demand that the town take action to kick out its new occupants, clients of a “recovery house.”

And the town is taking steps to do just that if the building’s owner and tenant fail to comply with various building code and zoning-related violation notices.

But the new tenant insists that when the dust clears, folks will see there’ll be nothing to worry about. Read more »

2nd hotel signals growth


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 


The town of Harrison, with a current population of about 14,000 but growing thanks to several new residential projects rising in its waterfront redevelopment area, now has a second hotel.

It is the Element Harrison, the brand’s second hotel in New Jersey, along with the Element in Ewing Township, just outside Princeton.

The 138-room facility off Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. S. is just steps away from the Harrison PATH station and across the street from the Red Bull Arena.

Its construction – developed at a cost pegged at $43 million – comes a decade after the development of the 165-room Hampton Inn & Suites on the Harrison Riverwalk, close to the border of downtown Newark. Read more »

A harvest of plenty in special garden


By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent 


Somewhere in Harrison, there is a magical place. If we were telling this story as a fairy tale, it would begin:

Once upon a time, there was a small plot of land on which a happy home had stood. But one day, the king’s men came and tore the house down, leaving the land lonely and forsaken. Soon, bad people found the place and used it as a trash heap, and it got uglier and lonelier, because the king’s men didn’t do anything about cleaning it up.

Good people who lived nearby would try to remove the litter, but the bad people always came back and dumped some more.

Then, an angel appeared. We will call her a Gardening Angel. And she planted lots of wonderful things, which grew to giant size and which she shared with her neighbors. Read more »