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News from the Nutley police blotter

June 14 

A mishap, at 5:18 a.m., involving a tow truck ended up damaging a vehicle being towed, police said. The tow truck driver told police that the cable/chain securing the vehicle to the deck broke loose, causing the vehicle in tow to roll forward when he applied the brakes, in the process, striking the crash barrier between the cab and flatbed, denting the front end of the vehicle, a Mustang.

At 7:55 a.m., a Weston St. homeowner called police after finding a small glass vial, with a plastic pink cap, containing several crystalized white rocks (a suspected narcotic), on a retaining wall near their home. The vial was confiscated by police.

After being alerted to an individual wearing what appeared to be hospital wristbands and EKG pads walking north on Washington Ave., at 9:58 a.m., police located the person in a store parking lot. The man told them he’d just been released from a hospital and had nowhere to go. Later, police said, after learning that the man, identified as Hassan Kemp, 52, of Paterson, was wanted on an outstanding warrant from Paterson, arrested him and then turned him over to Paterson PD.

At 6:47 p.m., a Franklin Ave. business owner called police to report that somebody has been stealing bread from in front of their store during the early morning hours. Police are reviewing surveillance footage for possible clues.

June 16 

A badly maintained vehicle tripped up the driver when police made a traffic stop at Nutley Ave. and River Road, at 1:09 a.m., and arrested Johnny Loor, 29, of Clifton, after confirming that Loor had outstanding warrants from Passaic and Clifton. He was also issued summonses charging him with driving while suspended and noisy muffler before being released to Clifton PD.

A Columbia Ave. resident called police at 5:39 a.m. to report that someone had stolen their black Jeep Grand Cherokee from their driveway.

At 11:31 a.m., police responded to a store at Harrison St. and Franklin Ave. where the manager reported having seen a male with a large build remove a can of Arizona ice tea from the cooler and then heard the sound of a can being opened. The manager then spotted the can, still cold and partly empty, sitting on a shelf. He then saw the male entering a white Honda. On June 14, the manager said, he saw the same person chewing something in the store and, after the person left, he found a candy bar wrapper in the aisle. Police advised the manager he could file a court complaint against the person.

The would-be victim of an apparent scammer reported receiving phone calls from someone claiming to be from the Nutley Police Department asking for money for the victim’s grandson to be released from jail. After the victim refused, police said a second caller tried to get the victim to send money by claiming they were a Nutley police captain. But the victim refused and the calls ended, police said. Detectives are investigating.

June 17 

At 11:15 p.m., police responded to a report of criminal mischief to an auto parked on King St. Police said they observed multiple cigarette burns to the vehicle’s cover as well as burns in the vehicle’s paint, plus multiple scratches and a depression in the hood.

June 18 

A theft at a local coffee shop was reported to police at 1:24 a.m. The victim told police a man not known to them bumped into them as they were entering the bathroom and, a bit later, the victim discovered their wallet was missing. The wallet contained between $450 and $500 and several credit cards which the victim has canceled.

At 2:48 p.m., police responded to the aftermath of a report of a dispute at a Washington Ave. gas station. Police said a customer, apparently upset over the attendant too hastily taking his $20 payment for gas from his hand, got out of his car, yelled at the attendant, spit in his face and punched him in the face and then drove away. Police said the driver was described as African- American, between 30 and 35. Nutley EMTs treated the victim. Police said they determined the assailant’s identity and advised the victim of his right to sign a complaint.

A construction team working on Centre St. dropped debris on air-conditioning condensing units of a neighboring property while working on a demolition project, police said. Police said the construction company’s owner agreed to pay for the damage. The incident was logged at 3:35 p.m.

At 4:23 p.m., police received a report that someone stole a mailbox and damaged some metal garbage cans at a King St. location.

At 10:10 p.m., William Woodkotch, 21, of Nutley, was stopped by police as he was leaving a Franklin Ave. pizzeria and accused of stealing a phone and credit card reader from the business. Woodkotch was arrested on charges of theft. Detectives recovered the phone and reader and released the man after he was given a court date.

June 19 

At 12:22 p.m., police responded to the Raceway gas station on Washington Ave. after receiving complaints about a man panhandling there. Police said they located a man matching the description given by callers who told them he didn’t have a job and needed money for the bus. Police said they advised the man not to continue begging for money or he’d be arrested.

June 20 

At 7:55 a.m., a Whitford Ave. resident called police after hearing a loud bang at their door and, looking out their window, said they saw a white 2-door vehicle drive away from the front of their home. After opening their front door, they noticed that a trash can had been thrown at the door.

At 8:55 a.m., a Rutgers Ave. resident reported someone stole their garbage can sometime during the night. The trash receptacle was valued at $20.

A resident reported a phone scam to police. The caller advised the resident to contact a “Robinson Cooper” to receive a government check for $6,700 for “always paying their bills on time.” After providing “Mr. Cooper” with their name and last four digits of their Social Security number, the caller was told they’d first have to send $200 to receive the check. At that point, the caller hung up and called police, who contacted “Mr. Cooper,” who denied it was a scam and then hung up.

– Ron Leir

Around Town


Belleville Public Library and Information Center, 221 Washington Ave., announces its Eight Great Live Monday Nights series, sponsored by the Friends of the Library, with a new show every Monday at 6:30 p.m. during July and August. Registration is required. Call 973-450-3434. These programs are for the entire family, unless otherwise noted. The first two shows will be: “Outragehiss Pets,” a live animal presentation with various creatures, on July 7 and “Lasermania,” a laser show featuring current top music hits, on July 14.

Children of all ages can sign up for the Library Players and act in a play that patrons can attend for free. Rehearsals begin July 10 and will be held every Thursday at 3 p.m. The play will be presented on Monday, Aug. 18, at 6:30 p.m., as part of the library’s Eight Great Live Monday Nights series. To sign up, call the library.


The Financial Book Club at Bloomfield Public Library, 90 Broad St., meets 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesdays, June 24 to Aug. 26. Beginners are welcome to join and all reading materials can be obtained through the library with a valid library card. The club will examine how budget (income), balance sheet (net worth) and cash-flow impact managing expenses, debt, value of money, investment selections, etc., for companies and consumers. Register online at http://www.bplnj.org/programs. For more information, call 973-566-6200.

Bloomfield Cultural Commission presents traditional Polish singing, dancing and food, plus arts and crafts for children, Sunday, June 29, 1 to 5 p.m., at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 190 State St. Admission is free.

Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center, 240 Belleville Ave., offers a children’s summer art camp starting June 30. Classes are held Monday to Friday. Cost for the first session is $250; sessions 2 through 5 cost $275 (materials included). Participants may register by calling the Oakeside office at 973-429- 0960. Registration forms and class schedules and descriptions are available on the Oakeside website www.oakeside.org.


Harrison Public School district will participate in a summer food service program, open to children age 18 and under, July 7 to Aug. 7, Monday to Thursday, at Washington Middle School, 1 N. Fifth St., 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. each day. The program is offered through the Food and Nutrition Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Harrison Public Library, 415 Harrison Ave., presents its summer reading program on “mad science.” There will be sessions on Thursdays, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., for ages 4 to 6; and Tuesdays, 3 to 4 p.m., for ages 7 and 8. All sessions begin July 8 and run through August.

The library’s Young Adult Reading Group for ages 9 and up meets Wednesdays, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., starting July 9 and runs through August. Selection of a novel to be read will be announced July 9.

Sign up in person at the library. Space is limited. For more information, call the library at 973-483-2366


Children ages 8 to 15 are welcome at the Presbyterian Boys-Girls Club (PBGC), 663 Kearny Ave., July and August, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7 to 9 p.m., for a summer program of basketball, dodge ball, arts and crafts, electronic games and more, under the supervision of a professional staff led by former Lincoln School counselor Tom Fraser.

The PBGC also sponsors the following trips: State Fair on July 2, Mt. Creek Water Park on July 9, Seaside Heights rides and water park on July 16, Walking with Dinosaurs at the Prudential Center, Newark, on July 25, Yankee game on Aug. 7 and Jersey Jackals game on Aug. 13. All trips are chaperoned by Kearny teachers.

Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., hosts an appearance by local author Karen B. Kaplan, who will read from and sign copies of her book, “Encountering the Edge: What People Told Me Before They Died,” Wednesday, July 2, at 6 p.m. Copies of her book will be available at a discounted rate. Kaplan will lead a discussion on her book Wednesday, Aug. 6, at 6 p.m. Admission is free.

Check out Kaplan’s blog at offbeatcompassion.com. Call 201-998-2666 or visit www.kearnylibrary.org for more program information.

The main library offers these upcoming children’s programs:

• Pre-school and elementary school-aged children are invited to join “Fizz, Boom, Read” summer reading program, starting June 25. Youngsters will receive a free reading log, choose whatever they want to read, including at least one science book, and track their progress in their reading log. Reading logs must be returned to the children’s room no later than Aug. 15 to be eligible for a prize for completing the reading challenge.

• Family Fun Night is held Wednesday, June 25. Flow Circus will perform juggling and more, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. This show is recommended for age 4 and up.

• The Spoon Man performs rock, rap and folk music on kitchen spoons Monday, June 30, 4 to 5 p.m. This show is recommended for ages 4 and up.

• Free No-Bake Cooking Classes, open to children ages 4 to 8, will meet for five weeks, on Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to noon, beginning July 2, in the Main Library’s newly renovated lower level kitchen. Recipes offered will take food allergies into consideration. Class size is limited to 12. To reserve a spot, or for more information, call the library at 201-998-2666.

Free programs for children will be available at the library throughout the summer. Check the library’s website www.kearnylibrary.org for program information. Keep watching the website as new programs will be added during the summer.

Kearny High School 60th class reunion for the classes of June 1954 and January 1955 will be held Sept. 19, at noon, in Spring Lake Heights. Admission is $32. For more information or to make reservations, email phylmae@aol.com or call 732- 458-5162.

West Hudson Christian Center, 557 Kearny Ave., presents Weird Animals Vacation Bible School, from Sunday, July 20, to Wed., July 23, 6:30 to 9 p.m., for ages 3 to 12. To pre-register in advance (space is limited), visit whccag.org or call 201-997- 7762. Registration is also open each night of the program at the door.


Seniors are invited to wear their red, white and blue and bring a flag to a free Fourth of July Band Concert by the North Jersey Concert Band Wednesday, July 2, at 7 p.m., at the Meadowlands Environment Center, 2 DeKorte Park Plaza. Registration is recommended and appreciated. To register, call 201-777-2431.

North Arlington

North Arlington Woman’s Club has designated Wednesday, June 25, as “Joshua’s Day,” on behalf of 6-year-old North Arlington resident Joshua Piperato, who, was involved in an accident in March that resulted in the partial amputation of his leg. The club is fundraising to help with any uncovered medical bills or treatments to help subsidize any unexpected costs his family faces due to his injury.

Participating businesses will have a Joshua’s Day flyer displayed in their window. People patronizing those businesses are asked to mention “Joshua’s Day” and a percentage of their bill will be donated to the fundraiser.

Any local organization or individual wishing to donate is invited to send checks, payable to the N.A.W.C., P.O. Box 7274, North Arlington, N.J. 07032, with the words “Joshua’s Day” written in the memo line. For more information, call Christine at 201-577-1088.

Children can spend summer with exciting weekly classes and special events at North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Road. Registration is required for all of these programs.

To register for classes, visit: http://bit.ly/11uEKUz.

Registration will be open from June 26 to July 3. Weekly programs run from July 8 to Aug. 8. Special events are scheduled every Wednesday from July 9 to Aug. 6.

For additional information or questions, call 201-955-5640, ext. 126.

Here are some upcoming programs:

• Music n’ Movement, interactive play with music and movement for ages 2 to 5, is held on Tuesdays at 11 a.m.

• Fizz Boom Story Time for ages 2 to 5 gives kids a chance to listen to and enjoy imaginative stories on Mondays at 11:30 a.m. (On July 28, there will be a special story time all about nutrition.)

• Boomtastic Crafts for ages 6 to 10 allows kids to make a variety of cool and exciting crafts on Tuesdays at 3 p.m.

• Lego Club for ages 6 to 10 provides an opportunity to build with Legos on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. (No class July 15.)

• Tween Book Club for ages 10 to 13 offers the opportunity for kids to read, discuss and discover great books every Wednesday at 1 p.m.

• Young Adults Writing Club is a creative writing group for ages 14 to 18 that meets Thursdays at 6:30 p.m.

• Reading Club will award prizes to children ages 2 to 18 who read, log their books and visit the library each week, July 8 to Aug. 8. Kids can log their books online or ask a librarian to help. Kids should pick up a paper reading log in the Juvenile Department. Read 10 books this summer to receive an invitation to the library’s summer reading program’s closing ceremony on Aug. 12 at 6 pm.

• Fizz Boom Wednesday Special Event features “Vibrant Volcanoes,” when kids entering grades 1 to 4 will make a working miniature volcano, learn the hula dance and hear the story of Pele, the goddess of fire Wednesday, July 9, at 11 a.m. This program is limited to 25 children so register early.

• Thursday Night Drop-in Activities has no registration requirement.

• Movie Nights feature movies appropriate for the entire family July 17, 31 and Aug. 7.

• Movie Story Time allows kids ages 4 to 6 to read a story and watch a movie July 10 and 24.

World Cup soccer fever comes to Kearny once again

6-25 front_web

By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer 

When Portugal scored the equalizing goal with just 15 seconds remaining in added time Sunday, grasping a tie out of the jaws of a Team USA victory in the second round of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, local soccer fans could try to put a positive spin on everything.

Well, at least it wasn’t a loss.

And before the game began, every single Team USA fan would have taken a draw against Portugal, one of the favorites in the tournament and featuring the world’s best player in Cristiano Ronaldo. Before the game, odds makers had Portugal as a two-goal favorite to win the match.

And the 2-2 tie wasn’t exactly the worst outcome the Red, White and Blue could have received. Team USA now needs at least a draw against world power Germany Thursday morning to advance to the field of 16.

However, it was the way the game ended that caused such pain and anguish.

“It was a stinger,” said Christian Garing, a former Kearny High School soccer standout who now runs the Kearny Red Bull Army, a group that attends all New York Red Bulls home games at Red Bull Arena in Harrison.

But Garing had mixed emotions Monday morning.

“I went to bed feeling that we lost,” Garing said. “I woke up a little more positive thinking we can move on. If someone would have told me before the World Cup started that we’d have a win over Ghana and a tie with Portugal, I would have signed that contract right away.”

Regardless of the outcome, the sport of soccer has received a major boost by the attention the World Cup has received.

Just a look at the restaurants and bars in the area is proof that World Cup fever has definitely caught on.

At the popular Kearny Scots- American Club, the joint was rocking with soccer fans both for the win over Ghana last Monday and the draw with Portugal Sunday.

“I think with each passing World Cup, we get to see a bigger following in the United States,” Garing said. “The sport is getting a more positive spin from the media. You can tell by the patriotism that is being portrayed on television that things are turning around. The sport has definitely grown.”

Garing is also impressed with the way Team USA has played in its first two games. People like Clint Dempsey, who has scored a goal in each game, have become household names. Graham Zusi has collected an assist in each game. Both Dempsey and Zusi are Major League Soccer players.

Dempsey scored his first goal just seconds into the game against Ghana and later suffered a severely broken nose, but was able to play against Portugal on Sunday and scored once again, becoming a nation al hero overnight.

Jermaine Jones gave the United States some hope with his brilliant strike from 25 yards out, tying the game in the 64th minute, before Dempsey scored from Zusi in the 80th  minute, giving everyone anticipation of the upset win that just wasn’t meant to be.

“I was in Kearny and Harrison before the World Cup and the talk was that the U.S. wasn’t going to score a single goal in the World Cup,” Garing said. “People were saying that we were not going to get through (to the field of 16). That conversation has sure changed. Now, we think we can win and move on.”

Before the World Cup began, United States head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was quoted as saying that the United States “had no chance whatsoever of winning the World Cup” this year.

Those comments hit a few sour notes locally.

“I can see where he’s coming from,” said former Kearny High soccer standout Miguel Abreu, watching the games with his entire family, including 2-year-old son Dylan. “But as a player, you never want to hear that. It’s an uphill battle to begin with. You never want to hear your coach saying that.”

Photo by Jim Hague The avid soccer fans at the Kearny Scots-American Club erupt after Clint Dempsey scored an early goal against Ghana.

Photo by Jim Hague
The avid soccer fans at the Kearny Scots-American Club erupt after Clint
Dempsey scored an early goal against Ghana.


“I think he was trying to get the best of his team,” said Kearny resident Ed Coleman. “That’s the German mentality (Klinsmann is a former German soccer standout and great coach). They try to underplay everything and hope that the team overachieves. I think the USA fans are more upset with those words than the players. The players know what they’re up against.”

“I hope we get him to eat his words,” said fellow Kearny resident Lennon Gomez, a former Kearny High athlete. “I don’t understand how you say those things before the tournament begins.”

Coleman was certain that Team USA was going to do well in the World Cup.

“I think we’re going to surprise a lot of fans,” Coleman said. “Our backline is young. We also have the best goaltender in the world.”

Tim Howard, Team USA’s net minder, is a former Kearny resident who lived on Pleasant Place when he played for the old MetroStars.

“We’re all hyped up for this,” Coleman said. “It’s unbelievable.”

“It’s beautiful to see all the Kearny people get excited for the World Cup,” Gomez said. “The Kearny pride is showing. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Abreu was glad to be able to share it with his young son.

“It’s a long time coming,” Abreu said. “The World Cup only comes around every four years. It’s such a great experience here, especially in Kearny, with all the different nationalities in the town. We’re ready for a good USA run. The afternoon games are nice, because we can bring our families. We have second, third and even fourth generation soccer fans here. It’s great to see.”

Garing notices the way Kearny just explodes with excitement during the World Cup. However, it’s not just locally. ESPN showed viewing parties in places like Grant Park in Chicago and Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, where thousands of USA fans gathered together to show their support.

World Cup fever has encompassed the nation, but especially in our own backyard.

“I don’t know if we’re ready to win the World Cup yet,” Garing said. “We still have to earn some respect throughout the world. But we have shown we can win games.”

The United States was just 15 seconds away from winning Sunday and moving on to the final 16. Silvestre Varela’s header off the brilliant cross from Ronaldo dashed those hopes. Now, Team USA has to do it the hard way against Germany. Kearny and the surrounding communities are just hoping upon hope that World Cup fever will include the United States national team through the weekend.

NJSIAA honors top scholar-athletes Tomko & Ojo

6-25 View_web



By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

She lettered in four different sports during her brilliant four-year career at Lyndhurst High School, participating in soccer, basketball, swimming and softball.

But Grace Tomko’s lasting legacy will go far beyond the fields of play, the court or the pool.

Last Thursday, Tomko delivered the valedictory speech at the Lyndhurst commencement exercises.

It’s not every day that a student-athlete earns the right to be a class valedictorian. But Tomko’s impressive athletic resume, combined with her 4.14 grade point average and 1750 Scholastic Aptitude Test scores, catapulted her to the top of her class.

“I always put school ahead of sports,” said Tomko, who helped the Lyndhurst softball team capture the NJSIAA North 2, Group II state sectional championship last month. “I was just able to balance it all.”

Last month, Tomko represented Lyndhurst at the NJSIAA’s 21st Annual Scholar-Athlete awards luncheon at the Pines Manor in Edison.

The state association honored one student from each participating school. In all, the NJSIAA has honored 6,350 scholar-athletes over the last two decades and has presented nearly $1.25 million in scholarships to those recipients.

Tomko was more than overjoyed receiving the award.

“It meant the world to me,” said Tomko, who is headed to the University of Delaware in the fall. “When you’re a high school student-athlete, you don’t get recognized for the student part. This recognized both.”

Another local athlete honored at the NJSIAA Scholar-Athlete awards luncheon was Babatunde Ojo from Queen of Peace.

Ojo, who played football, wrestled, power lifted and participated in track and field at QP, was also honored to be selected to represent his school at the luncheon.

“I was extremely happy to be a part of it,” Ojo said. “Ever since I entered Queen of Peace, I felt like I had more pride than anyone else. I knew deep down that I had a lot of pride representing the school.”

Ojo said that he was pleased that there were other familiar faces at the luncheon.

“There were others who I created friendships with over the years through sports,” Ojo said. “That made the day very enjoyable.”

Ojo said that he prided himself as both a student and an athlete.

“I really can’t describe the pride I had in my schoolwork,” Ojo said. “I knew that my class work would really help the school, as did sports.”

Ojo will major in business and computer science at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in the fall. He carried a 3.7 grade point average and scored 1830 on his SATs.

“I always felt that sports and academics kind of both went hand in hand,” Ojo said. “I was able to deal with all kind of sports and different kinds of technical things in the classroom.”

Other local students honored by the NJSIAA include Rebecca Goncalves of Kearny, Bridget Ismaelito of Bloomfield, Pavel Aparcana of Harrison and Nicholas Perrone of Nutley.

Tomko got the chance to reflect on her incredible high school career.

“I’m actually speechless,” Tomko said. “I can’t believe it’s all over. I can look back with no regrets. I did everything to my best.”

Tomko was asked about if she was more nervous delivering her key speech or delivering a clutch play on the soccer pitch or the softball diamond.

“That’s tough,” Tomko said. “When I was walking out to make the speech, (softball) Coach (Emily) Ringen was standing there. I said to her that I felt like I was going out to play a big game, but there was more excitement to give the speech than it was to play a game. I was more excited than nervous.”

But Tomko delivered the speech, much like she delivered a state sectional championship.

“It doesn’t end any better than that,” Tomko said.

Locals return to St. Peter’s Prep to play football for a cause

6-25 football reunion_web

By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer

The 1994 NJSIAA Non- Public A state championship football game between Bergen Catholic and St. Peter’s Prep might have taken place 20 years ago, but don’t dare tell that to Kearny natives Jeff Skinner and Gerry McDermott.

The two former Prep standouts, who combined for the game-clinching touchdown in Giants Stadium on that fateful December afternoon two decades ago, were one of the most prolific passing combinations in the history of the school.

Last Saturday morning, Skinner and McDermott returned to their high school alma mater to participate in a football reunion, a way to raise money for a scholarship foundation named after a guy who was important to both local standouts. S

kinner, McDermott and about 50 or so other former Prep gridiron greats returned to Jersey City to play in the Jerome Pedersen Memorial Football Classic, named after the former Prep do-everything who died tragically at the tender age of 27 in 2001.

“It’s really special to come back,” said Skinner, who quarterbacked the Marauders to the 26-24 upset win over Bergen Catholic, ranked No. 1 in the entire nation at the time, in the state championship game.

“I don’t get the opportunity to come back often and throw the ball around. It’s a lot of fun. Coming back again, it really feels like yesterday. I’m running into people all the time and all they want to do is talk about the 1994 state championship game.” McDermott now lives on Long Island, but most of his family still resides in Kearny. He was at the game with his two young sons and his pregnant wife, due in August.

“I try to get back to Prep at least once or twice a year, but this is special, because I get to run around with Skinner once again.”

The two hooked up for several passes during the games. It looked as if the clock had stopped still.

Skinner went on to play at Wagner, while McDermott played at Fordham.

“It’s great to see good friends and teammates that I played with 20 years ago,” McDermott said. “I still keep in touch with a lot of the guys, but it’s hard to see them all. When you think it’s 20 years ago, it puts everything in perspective. It makes me feel old.”

McDermott said that he was happy to do something to keep the memory of Pedersen, who was known affectionately as “Gee.” Pedersen was the equipment manager, bus driver, assistant trainer, scorekeeper, you name it, down at the Prep during those days.

Photos by Jim Hague Kearny native Jeff Skinner showed that he still had the skills of a quarterback who led St. Peter’s Prep to the 1994 NJSIAA Non- Public A state title.

Photos by Jim Hague
Kearny native Jeff Skinner showed that he still had the skills of a quarterback who led St. Peter’s Prep to the 1994 NJSIAA Non-Public A state title.


“Jerome was such a good guy and such an integral part of our team,” McDermott said. “It’s an excellent opportunity to come back and celebrate a great life. What happened to him was sad, especially at such a young age. It really makes you appreciate things more. I always remember him in that equipment room. I always tried to get something extra, like a better facemask. It was tough to get what I wanted, because of him.”

“It’s a shame that it took so long to get something done like this,” Skinner said. “He did so much for our program and never got the credit. He was one of us.”

Skinner now lives in Glen Rock with his wife and son.

“I’m just glad I can still throw it a little,” Skinner said.

Alfredo Huaranga graduated in 2003, but the Harrison native wanted to be a part of the reunion and to honor Pedersen as well.

“The Prep family is such a tight-knit close family,” said Huaranga, whose wife, Kim, is the athletic director at Harrison High School. “I just love being here. I love Prep. I knew Gee and he was a great guy. He was always there to help us, whether to give us a hand or a ride somewhere. We’re all here together today. Everyone came together finally to remember Jerome and never forget him.”

Rich Hansen, who coached the Marauders’ three state championship squads, including the 1994 team, considered to be the best in the history of the school, felt honored to be part of the celebration, given that he coached all of the players on the field.

“It’s awesome to see so many great guys who meant so much to our program over the years to finally come back and have some fun,” Hansen said. “Maybe they’re rekindling the flame a little. It’s all about memories, a strong family bond we all shared. It’s good to see that.” Hansen was asked if he could believe it was 20 years since Skinner and McDermott combined for that great touchdown catch in Giants Stadium.

“It’s crazy,” Hansen said. “I’ve been to so many of their weddings and then the christening of their children. Time sure flies.”

And Hansen was happy that the day was for such a good cause.

“Gee is the one who breathes the life into all of us,” Hansen said. “If you played here, if you didn’t have the chance to know him, you certainly knew of him. He was important to all of us. That’s what makes this special. It doesn’t matter the generation you came from. You know him. The guys are excited to be here and excited for the cause. I feel good for the Prep football bloodline.”

Lawrence Alexander graduated in 1999, but he remembered Pedersen very well. Alexander was the organizer of the event.

“I lived right around the corner from Gee (in Newark), so many times, I would ride to Prep with him,” Alexander said. “He was a bridge builder for me. He was my friend, my bridge, my caregiver. Once I took off that helmet and headed home, the only one I had was Jerome.” Alexander estimates that the event raised approximately $4,000 for the Jerome Pedersen Memorial Scholarship Fund.

“My goal is to raise the cost of one year tuition for a student,” Alexander said. “When we have days like Saturday, we can’t lose.”

So much so that the Second Annual Jerome Pedersen Football Classic is already scheduled for June 20, 2015.

In that respect, friends like Skinner and McDermott can get together for a few passes then as well.

Then & Now

6-25 ThenNow_web



If you lived in the northern section of Kearny in the late 19th century, this is where you would go to mail a letter. This photo, circa 1882-86, was taken when James Freeman, postmaster, ran the Arlington Post Office — in the rear of his grocery store. The structure itself is called  The Freeman Building, and, despite having passed by it innumerable times, we never knew it had a name. If we had been more observant, we might have noticed ‘The Freeman’ engraved in stone at the roofline. The imposing red-brick structure is still standing on Midland  Ave. at the corner of Devon St. and over the decades has continued to be home to a variety of commercial tenants. We know that there was once a theater on an upper floor. Is it still there? The awnings and  sidewalk signs are long gone, and an SUV occupies the horse-and-buggy’s parking spot, but look at the chimneys! 

– Karen Zautyk 

Cali renewed for trash pickups



The Town of Kearny has renewed its contract with Cali Carting of Kearny for the collection of trash and recyclables, effective July 1, which will cost nearly $1 million more over the life of the agreement, according to Finance Director Shuaib Firozvi.

As explained by Firozvi, the new deal calls for a 3-year contract for a total of $4,195,800, with options for renewing for a fourth year at a price of $1,160,000 and a fifth year at $1,490,000.

Over the 5-year period, Firozvi said, the cost works out to $119,096 per month versus the $102,500 per month that the town paid during its last contract with the vendor.

That difference, he said, will account for a total increase of $985,800 over the last contract with Cali.

Cali was the lone contractor to bid on the town’s garbage/ recyclable contract, according to Firozvi.

The mayor and Town Council awarded Cali its new contract at the June 10 meeting.

In other business conducted at that session, the governing body:

• Extended a janitorial services contract with Ocean Clean of Cedar Grove for an additional one year for $83,549.

• Agreed to refund a towing/ storage fee of $91.75 to resident Keira Gruber for charges incurred as a result of a tow from Dukes and Chestnut Sts. Feb. 20 during a snow cleanup. Gruber had previously won a municipal court dismissal of the ticket she’d been issued for parking on a snow-covered street, claiming there was insufficient notice to residents.

• Appointed Sylvia Alvarez part-time clerk typist/bilingual in the construction code enforcement department for 24.5 hours a week at about $11 per hour.

• Acknowledged receipt of a request from the Rev. Manual Duenas, vice rector of Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary of Kearny, to host a 5K run on Sunday, Sept. 28, at 6 p.m., along S. Midland Ave., Belgrove Drive and Passaic Ave., with proceeds supporting its missionary efforts worldwide.

In closed caucus, Police Chief John Dowie asked the governing body to consider asking state Civil Service to call for an appointment exam for the rank of deputy chief. The Police Department currently has one deputy chief but its T.O. allows for up to two. Later, Mayor Alberto Santos said the town would pass on the chief’s request for now due to budget restraints.

– Ron Leir 


Emmett H. Ball 

Emmett H. Ball died June 17 at Clara Maass Medical Center. He was 85.

Born in Greenwood Lake, N.Y., he lived most of his life in Kearny.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held at the funeral home followed by burial in Rosedale Cemetery, Linden. To leave online condolences, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Emmett served in the U.S. Army’s 47th Viking Infantry Division. He then married Mary A. Westmoreland. He worked as a distribution manager at Otis Elevator in Harrison and then worked for Benedict Miller in Lyndhurst. After retirement, he went on to help his daughter Sharon at Lee’s Florist in Kearny.

He is survived by his wife Mary, his daughters Sharon and her husband Jim Carey and Donna Ball. Brother of the late Kearny Fire Capt. Robert Ball, he is also survived by his grandchildren Paul, Jessica and Artie.

If you care to make a memorial contribution, please consider The Kidney Fund.

June Clara Clarke 

June Clara Clarke passed away peacefully on June 16. She was 78.

She was a lifelong Newark resident.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held at the funeral home, followed by a private cremation. June’s ashes will be buried in the family plot at Liberty Corner Presbyterian Cemetery, Liberty Corner. To leave online condolences, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

June was a retired inspector for J. Weiss and Son.

Daughter of the late Clifford and Leona, she is survived by her twin sister Dottie Clarke, her nephew John and his wife Midge along with many great nieces and nephews. June was predeceased by her brother Clifford.

Rafael Egoavil

Rafael Egoavil, 71, passed away on Tuesday, June 17.

Funeral services were under the direction of the Mulligan Funeral Home, Harrison. A funeral service was held at the funeral home on Saturday. Cremation was private.

Born in Lima, Peru, Rafael lived in Newark for 25 years before moving to Belleville 15 years ago. He worked for Ford Motor Co., Edison, as an assembly line worker for 30 years retiring in 2002. He was a member of the UAW Local 980, Edison. Rafael served in the Peruvian Army as a paratrooper in peacetime before coming to the US.

He is survived by his wife of 45 years Juanita (Conzo), his children Chris and his wife Heather (Mulhearn) and Rafael ‘Tony’ Egoavil, and his grandchildren Ashley, Ryan, Connor and Olivia Egoavil. He is also the oldest brother of Fausto Egoavil and seven other brothers and a sister. He was predeceased by his daughter Marisol in 1983.

Joseph Albert French 

Joseph A. “Skeetz” French 81, died on June 18 in the Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville.

Arranements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Drive, 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.thiele-reid.com.

Mr. French was born in Newark and was raised in Kearny. He has lived in North Arlington since 1965.

“Skeetz” was a sheet metal mechanic for many years, retiring in 1994. He was employed by Sheet Metal Workers International Association Local 25 in Carlstadt, and was a member for over 50 years.

He was a member of the Knights of Columbus Queen of Peace Council 3428 in North Arlington.

Joseph is survived by his wife Kathleen (Ricciardi) and his daughter Colleen Cappuccino; siblings Joan O’Connell, Shirley Landati, Barbara Gallagher and John Joll Jr.; four grandchildren Brianna, Kaitlyn, Sammy and Cassandra. He also leaves behind his son-in-law Telly Servitis.

He was predeceased by his son-in law Sammy Cappuccino and most recently by his daughter Kathleen M. Servitis suddenly on May 5, 2014.

Raymond ‘Butch’ Henry, Sr. 



Raymond “Butch” Henry Sr., of East Newark, passed away peacefully, surrounded by his loving family on Saturday, June 21. He was 76.

The funeral will be conducted from the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison, on Thursday, June 26, at 9:30 a.m. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Anthony Church, East Newark at 10 a.m., followed by interment in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington. Friends may call on Wednesday, June 25, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. and Thursday starting at 8:45 a.m. For information or directions, please visit www.mulliganfuneralhome.org.

Born in East Newark, Raymond was a lifelong resident. He worked for the East Newark Police Department for 25 years, retiring as a captain in 1993.

Raymond was a proud member of the Policeman’s Benevolent Association.

Raymond is survived by his loving wife of 54 years, Lynne Ann (nee Mackenzie.) He was the devoted father of Glenn and his wife Diane of Rockaway, the dear brother of Gloria Jean Lombardo (Joe), Mary Ann Bower, and William Henry. He was a cherished grandfather of Glenn Jr. and Stephanie. He is also survived by his brother-in-law Robert Mackenzie (Mary Lou) and sister-in-law Lois Walsh (David) in addition to many nieces and nephews. Raymond was predeceased by his son, Raymond Jr. in 2008 as well as his siblings Elvin, Richard, John and Hazel.

Dr. Jack Grundfest 

Dr. Jack Grundfest, of Kearny and Belleville, passed away on June 18 after a long illness.

He was born in Kearny on April 7, 1917, the youngest of five children. His parents, Aaron and Gertrude Grundfest, came to the U.S. from Minsk in 1913. He was a graduate of Kearny High School, obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from N.Y.U., and earned his M.D. degree in 1943 from the University of Arkansas School of Medicine.

He married Karolyn Scott, a classical musician from Little Rock, right after graduation. He then interned at the U.S. Marine Hospital in Staten Island. Subsequently, he served as a captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps on Saipan and became deputy surgeon of the Western Pacific Base Command. He was awarded the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the American Theatre Campaign Medal, and the Victory Medal.

After the war he took further training at Indianapolis City Hospital and at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, N.Y. He was a diplomate of the American Board of Surgery and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He was medical director at the former West Hudson Hospital and served as chief of surgery in three hospitals: West Hudson Hospital in Kearny, Clara Maass Hospital in Belleville, and St. James Hospital in Newark and held the position of assistant clinical professor of surgery at N.J. College of Medicine.

Dr. Grundfest was active in many community activities including the Men’s Clubs of Congregation Ahavath Achim and Congregation Ner Tamid. He was a commander of Amvets Post 43 and surgeon general of Amvets for the State of N.J. He was a Paul Harris Fellow of the Rotary Club and served as a president of the Belleville chapter. He sponsored the Belleville Rotary Merit Awards for Scholastic Achievement at Belleville High School. He was a trustee of the Essex County United Fund, was a staunch supporter of the New Jersey Symphony, and contributed to many other charitable organizations including the Belleville Foundation.

He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Karolyn; his daughter, Dr. Sharon Grundfest-Broniatowski of Cleveland, Ohio; his son Dr. Warren Grundfest of Los Angeles, Calif.; grandsons Daniel Broniatowski, D.M.A., of Boston, Mass. and David Broniatowski, Ph.D., of Baltimore, Md.; and great-grandson, Noah Broniatowski. He was pre-deceased by his brothers, Harry Grundfest, Ph.D., of New York and Woods Hole, Mass., Dr. Philip Grundfest of West Orange and Isaac Grundfest who died in childhood; and a sister, Rose Grundfest Schneider, Ph.D., of Galveston, Texas.

Services were held at the Jewish Memorial Chapel, Clifton, June 22. Contributions can be made to the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the Belleville Public Library, or Temple Ner Tamid. For more information, visit www.jewishmemorialchapel.org.

Nicole Malato 

Nicole Malato (nee Briamonte), of Toms River, passed away on June 18 at the CareOne at Wall in Wall Township. She was 37. A loving mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin and friend, Nicole always put others’ needs and wants ahead of her own. A three-year breast cancer survivor, she used her time and talents to help others fighting the same battle. She created two blogs, “all these things plus one” and “Stained Glass;” published articles in “Reader’s Digest” and “Coping” magazine; and wrote and self-published a book, “When Life Hands You PINK Lemons: Making the Best of Early Stage Breast Cancer,” about her experience so that other women could benefit from what she learned during her journey. She also was an ardent supporter of the Cancer Support Community in Eatontown, raising money and serving as a featured speaker at events.

Nicole was a woman of great faith, who was involved in her church community. She helped co-found the youth group at Queen of Peace Parish in North Arlington. She also traveled to Lourdes, France, on a pilgrimage with the Order of Malta in 2013.

Among her favorite things in life were her family and friends, cruises, road trips, walks on the beach, afternoons on her boat, all things Disney, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, country music, the Muppets and Golden Girls marathons on TV.

Professionally, Nicole spent 15 years as a human resources professional for a number of companies, including Groundwater and Environmental Services (GES), Schering-Plough, Lockheed Martin IMS, and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ. Most recently, she had been promoted to senior human resources manager at GES. She held an M.B.A. in human resources management from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in organizational psychology from the College of New Jersey.

Visiting for Nicole was from the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, Kearny. A funeral Mass was held at Queen of Peace Church, followed by entombment in Holy Cross Cemetery, both in North Arlington.

Nicole is survived by her husband, Steve; her son, Steven; her mother and father, Jane and Frank Briamonte Jr.; her brother and sister-in-law Frank and Erika Briamonte and their three sons; her brother and sister-in-law Chris and Eileen Briamonte and their two daughters; her brother and sister-in-law Rick and Courtney Briamonte and their son; and her mother-in-law Anna Malato.

Helen P. Park 

Helen P. Park died June 18. She was 84.

Born in Kearny, she also lived in Florida and then Newton.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, Kearny. A funeral service was held at the funeral home, followed by a private cremation. Her ashes will be interred in the family plot at Arlington Cemetery. Condolences may be posted at www.armitagewiggins.com.

Helen is survived by her children John, Jimmy, Janice, Dave and Barbara Sullivan and Walt and George Rheinheimer. Sister of the late William, John and James Park, she is also survived by many grand and great-grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

Belleville pair in meth takedown

Two Belleville residents were among 14 suspects charged last week in connection with a multi-state drug trafficking ring that supplied large quantities of methamphetamine to northern New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Taken into custody were Ricky (“Ricky Belleville”) Tulud, 43, and Janice Vidallon, 31, both of whom are accused of distributing the drug in N.J.

Vidallon also allegedly brokered shipments of meth from suppliers in northern California.

The others suspects are from Jersey City, North Bergen, Bergenfield, Union, and Queens — as well as Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Phoenix.

According to Fishman, one of the network’s coordinators was a former U.S. Citizenship and Immigration officer — John Freehauf, 36, of Jersey City – who reportedly negotiated the price of the meth and ordered multiple pounds per month from interstate suppliers between July 2013 and April 2014.

In N.J., Freehauf was the supplier to both Tulud and Vidallon, authorities said.

Packages of the drug were sent here via the U.S. mail, and a postal worker, Maria Lisa Pascual, 36, of North Bergen, allegedly used her position to track the parcels. She was recently terminated by the Postal Service.

If convicted, Tulud, Vidallon and the other defendants each face 10 years to life in prison and a $10 million fine.

– Karen Zautyk 

Free Dentistry Day at Smile Design Specialists



Smile Design Specialists, 312 Belleville Turnpike, Suite 3B, North Arlington, had a great day meeting many new people from the area during its second annual Free Dentistry Day. Dr. Richard Ekstein and his staff from Smile Design Specialists devoted their Saturday off to help the unemployed.

Ekstein and his assistants Melissa Porcile and Keisha Vasquez agreed that it was a pleasure being able to lend a helping hand. Ekstein said he chose to run the Free Dentistry Day because sometimes the extra money for dental work is simply not affordable, but people have a need that should be addressed. He said his hope was that his office could provide those in need with some basic dental care, so that a simple procedure would not turn into a larger problem, if it went uncared for.

Smile Design Specialists’ hygienist Liz Gutierrez worked diligently on a wide range of people. She scaled, polished and took x-rays and found that most patients had taken good care of their teeth. Everyone had a different reason for coming but they all left smiling.

There are times when all someone needs is a reason to smile and Ekstein and his staff hope that they were able to give that to everyone treated. The office looks forward to its next community event.