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NA’s Fisher wins NJSIAA sectional gold in pole vault


By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer 

The way Travis Fisher looks at it, he was born to compete in the pole vault.

After all, Fisher’s grandfather, Lance Cooper, was a standout in the pole. As were Fisher’s two uncles, Don and Bruce Cooper. Not to mention, Fisher’s older sister, Tara, the former Observer Female Athlete of the Year in 2010.

They all preceded Fisher with the pole vault at North Arlington, so it made perfect sense that Travis would follow suit.

“I was definitely fascinated by it,” Travis Fisher said. “I liked watching Tara doing it. I guess I was in the fifth or sixth grade, when I went down with my grandfather and I tried it for the first time. I jumped only about nine feet. I was pretty good right away.”

It was definitely in his blood. It also didn’t take long for Fisher to want to pole vault all the time.

“It became an obsession,” Fisher said.

So twice a week, Fisher would take lessons and train at the Apex Vaulting in Fairfield.

However, once the winter track season begins, the training becomes just a tad more tedious. That’s because there is no facility for a North Arlington athlete to use for practice during the indoor season.

“It does get hard,” Fisher said. “I do training and conditioning with my teammates, but then I have to go to Apex.”

Famed coach Branko Miric has helped Fisher work on his technique to become a better pole vault athlete.

“I have gotten bigger and stronger,” Fisher said. “I do practice more. It’s all good.”

What is also good was the effort that Fisher and his mother, Leanne, put in to convince the North Arlington Board of Education that indoor track should be a viable varsity sport in the winter months.

It used to be that the track team pretty much had to train on their own during the winter months. Fisher and his mother thought that idea was foolish.

“We were the driving force behind it,” Fisher said. “We made the push to get indoor track as a sport. We saw other schools have it and said, ‘Why can’t we have it? We put out a petition and got a lot of signatures. The Board of Education was up for it. So were the coaches. We figured it would be hard. I thought it would take a couple of years. I honestly thought it would happen when I was out of high school, or maybe my senior year at the earliest.”

The program was initiated last year and in its first year of existence, North Arlington crowned a state champion in Danny Cordeiro, last year’s Observer Male Athlete of the Year who is now a soccer standout at NJIT.

Now, the program is in its second year and maybe it’s only fitting that the next state sectional champion should be the guy who helped initiate the program.

Fisher cleared the bar at 12 feet, six inches last Saturday at the Bennett Center in Toms River, to capture the gold medal at the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I championships.

Yes, Travis Fisher is a state sectional champion.

For his efforts, Fisher has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week, much like his older sister did on a couple of occasions during her brilliant athletic career.

“It feels pretty good to win,” Fisher said. “I’ve already hit 13 feet twice this year. My goal is 13-6. Fourteen feet would be awesome. I feel pretty confident now. I’ve had a couple people close to me who tell me what I should do. I think I have a pretty good shot to go higher.”

Fisher was once a football player at North Arlington, spending time on the gridiron both as a freshman and a sophomore.

“My grandfather and I had a conversation about it and I didn’t want to injure myself playing football,” Fisher said. “I also like doing the pole vault more.”

North Arlington indoor track coach John Zukatus likes Fisher’s determination.

“He’s very dedicated to the sport,” Zukatus said. “He comes to do training and conditioning with us, then goes to Apex and works out there. That’s what you need these days to be competitive in that sport.”

During the outdoor season, Fisher will also compete in the high jump, but his main focus in the pole vault.

“That’s where his heart is,” Zukatus said. “He’s quite reserved, but he can also be funny. He’s a mix of everything. But when he’s getting ready to vault, he’s very focused. He makes things easy for me as a coach. All I have to do is go over heights with him and watch him go.”

Zukatus was asked what it was like to have a second state sectional champion in only two years of the program.

“It’s good for the kids and good for the program,” Zukatus said. “They asked for the program themselves, got their parents involved and this is the result. I’m happy for Travis. He’s worked very hard to get where he is.”

Zukatus believes that Fisher could reach even better heights at the overall Group I state championships on Feb. 14.

“I’m not going to be shocked if he wins,” Zukatus said. “We have to see what happens. He definitely has a shot.”

Fisher said that having Tara Fisher as an older sister has been a motivation to him.

“She helped me a lot,” Fisher said. “She’s now serving as a volunteer coach with us. Having Tara and watching her as a kid gave me someone to look up to and admire. My uncle Don (the former head volleyball coach at North Arlington) also helped me a lot. And having my grandpa as a personal coach has been a huge help. I have a good relationship with my family. I know that my family all did well in the pole vault. It made me really get into it.”

Fisher said that he’s looking into the possibility of competing on the college level. Seton Hall, Caldwell and Rutgers- Newark have all shown interest. He would like to major in accounting because Fisher said he’s an excellent math student.

Right now, he’s busy being excellent in the pole vault, because after all, it was all in his family.


Marlene J. Bartholomew 

Marlene J. Bartholomew of Kearny died Jan. 28. She was 79.

Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held at the First Lutheran Church followed by burial in Arlington Cemetery, both in Kearny. (www.armitagewiggins.com)

Marlene was active with the First Lutheran Church. She was a lab clerk for many years at West Hudson Hospital and worked as a receptionist for Dr. Peter Taddeo, both in Kearny, before retiring.

Wife of the late Dale Bartholomew, she is survived by her children and their spouses: Dale and Laura, Glenn and Phyllis, Thomas and Richard and Jean Bartholomew, Catherine and Stephen Peterson and Hope and Arturo Gonzalez. Sister of William and Harry Von Busch, she is also survived by 12 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to the Summit Speech School.

Julia Gallagher 

Julia Gallagher (nee Chojnacki) passed away peacefully at home on Jan. 31.

Born in Jersey City, she had lived in Kearny since 1958.

Visiting will be on Tuesday, Feb. 3, from 4 to 8 p.m., at the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. Relatives and friends are invited back to the funeral home on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 11 a.m., and burial will follow in Holy Cross Cemetery. (www.armitagewiggins.com)

Julia was a fashion designer for Merros Sweater Designs in Jersey City.

Wife of the late William and sister of Mary Manzo and the late Eugenia Speer, Lillian Usiak, Loretta Preckop, Henry, Leonard and Michael Chojnacki, she is also survived by many loving nieces and nephews and their families.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the hospice of your own choice.

 Alice J. Green 

Alice J. Green of Kearny died suddenly on Jan. 18 at St. Michael’s Medical Center, Newark, after having just celebrated her 90th birthday the week before.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held at the funeral home, followed by interment in Arlington Cemetery, Kearny.

Alice was a lifelong resident of Kearny, graduating from Kearrny High School in 1940. She then attended the Berkeley Secretarial School, East Orange.

She worked as a secretary for Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company, Newark, for over 40 years, retiring in 1983.

She was installed at age 18 into the Star of The East Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star, Kearny, having been installed a year after her mother, grandmother and several of her aunts, and she remained a member of the OES for over 70 years.

Some of her happiest moments were spending weekends and vacations at her family’s home in Belmar, enjoying front porch views of the sunsets at Lake Como.

She was the beloved daughter of the late Morton and Alice Kenney Green. She is survived by her relatives Lillian Paul, Kenneth Green and William Gee. Godson Brian Paul. She is also survived by many second and third cousins.

In lieu of flowers, donations to the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital or the charity of your choice would be appreciated.

Amanda Rae Kiernan 



Amanda Rae Kiernan, of Harrison, was taken from us too soon on Wednesday, Jan. 28, at the age of 23.

Arrangements were by the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison. A funeral Mass was held at Holy Cross Church in Harrison, followed by interment in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.

For information, directions or to send condolences to her family, please visit www.mulliganfh.com.

Born in Newark, she was a lifelong resident of Harrison.

Amanda worked as a one-on- one personal aide for New Beginnings, Fairfield. In her free time, she volunteered at Camp Fatima, Lebanon, and was currently studying to obtain her degree in special education. Amanda was an avid Green Bay Packers fan.

Amanda is survived by her devoted mother Maria Santos, her beloved pet, Ginger, the love of her life Kenneth Sheehan Jr., her cherished grandmothers Catherine Santos (Neri) and Darlene St. John, her dear aunt and godmother, Teresa Santos Kinsella and her husband Uncle Joey, and their children, Ava and Ryan Kinsella (cousins), Kenneth and Trish Sheehan, Courtney Sheehan Goncalves and her husband Chris and their children Maddon and Kinley, her father Shawn Kiernan and his companion, Jen and their children Shawn, Brycen and Emily Kiernan, her aunt Kim Lumba and her children A.J., Ariana and Leia (cousins), her Uncle Darren Des Londe, his children Edward and Jamie Des Londe (cousins). She is also survived by many aunts, uncles, cousins and close friends.

Elizabeth M. ‘Betty’ Long 

Elizabeth M. “Betty” Long, of Harrison, passed away on Wednesday, Jan. 28. She was 81.

Funeral arrangements were under the direction of the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison. A funeral service was held at the funeral home. Cremation was private. For information, or to send condolences to the family, please visit www.mulliganfh.com.

Born in Newark, Elizabeth was a Harrison resident. She was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, serving her country from 1953 to 1957. She worked as a customer service supervisor for Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Newark, retiring after 30 years in 1996, when she moved to Newport Richey, Fla., for a decade with her sister.

Elizabeth is survived her daughters, Rosemary and her husband Lawrence Bennett, Carol Long and her son James Long; her granddaughter Elizabeth DePierola and her husband Jules and their daughter Kelly Elizabeth, her granddaughter Sarah Rodriguez and Tito and their children Vanessa and Ryan, her granddaughter Allison and Louie and their children Alana and Jocelyn, and her grandchildren Matthew, Randi, Emily and Spencer. She is also survived by her niece Susan Cicchino and her nephew Donald Cicchino, Jr.

She was predeceased by her parents James and Sarah (nee McMahon) Boyd, her grandson Lawrence Bennett Jr., her sister Rosemary Cicchino and her brother-in-law Donald Cicchino.

Patrick Norton 

Patrick Norton, 41, died peacefully in his home on Jan. 21 in Tucson, Ariz.

Born on Sept. 9, 1973, in Belleville, Patrick grew up in Kearny, graduated from Kearny High School and earned his B.A. degree in biology.

Patrick is survived by so many who loved and cherished him: his mother Linda Delli Santi; his siblings, Thomas Norton and wife Lynn, Kimberly Smith and husband Tom, Sara Norton, Richard Norton and wife Sue; his nephews, Jack Norton, Adam Norton, Ethan Smith, Thomas Z. Smith, and Kyle Norton; and his nieces, Adrianna Smith and Daylyn Smith; and so many more.

A memorial was held at Queen of Peace Church in North Arlington, followed by a repast. Patrick was taken too early and will always and forever be known for his kindness and loyalty to his family and friends.

Arrangements were by the Adair Funeral Homes-Dodge Chapel, Tuscon, Ariz.

Madeline A. Palmer 

Madeline A. Palmer (nee Webers) died Jan. 26. She was 66.

Born in Newark, she lived in Kearny before moving to North Arlington in 1980.

Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held at Grace United Methodist Church, followed by burial in Arlington Cemetery both in Kearny. (www.armitagewiggins.com)

Madeline had been a property management supervisor at Mack-Cali Realty in Edison.

She is survived by her loyal husband John L. Palmer and her loving children Wendy Raftery (Kevin) and Brian Palmer (Michelle). She is also survived by her dear sisters Nancy Rowe (Marty) and Diane Owens. She was the sister-in-law of Heide Webers, Tom Owens and Jean Toropiw. Also surviving are her cherished grandchildren Kathryn, Liam and Aidan. She was predeceased by her brothers Gary and Douglas Webers.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to St. Barnabas Hospice or The American Cancer Society.

Robert Trzepla 

Robert Trzepla, 61, died suddenly on Jan. 31.

The funeral will be from the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny, on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 8:30 a.m. A funeral Mass will be offered at St. Stephen’s Church, Kearny, at 9:30 a.m. Cremation will be private. Visiting will be on Tuesday, Feb. 3, from 4 to 8 p.m. Condolences and memories may be shared at www.thielereid.com.

Mr. Trzepla was born in Newark and had lived in Kearny for the last 54 years.

He was a driver for the Town of Kearny’s Meals on Wheels and Dial A Ride programs. Prior, he was a senior computer analyst at Hartz Mountain in Secaucus for 20 years.

Robert is survived by his wife Lois (nee Zbuchalski); children Melinda Kelly (Christopher), Kevin Trzepla (Jennifer) and Daniel Trzepla. He was the brother of Stephanie Palmer, Carol Bittman (Rich), Janet Cardullo (Stephen) and Edward Trzepla (Karen). He was the grandfather of Emma and Katelyn Trzepla.

Robert was predeceased by his siblings Ann Marie Sylvester, Walter Trzepla Jr. and his brother-in-law Walter Palmer.

Please omit flowers. Contributions to the ASPCA (www.aspca.org) in Robert’s memory would be greatly appreciated.

Barbara E. Washburn 

Barbara Esther Washburn, 61, of Rhoadsville, Va., passed away Sunday evening, Jan. 25, with her husband by her side, after a lengthy illness.

Barbara was born Aug. 22, 1953, to Howard John and Barbara Ethel (Lemke) McCarthy in Newark. She graduated from Kearny High School and continued her education, taking courses in nursing. She met and married Douglas Nelson Washburn Aug. 31, 1971, in Conway, S.C. They relocated several times before moving to Fredericksburg, Va., in 2001 and to Burr Hill, Va., in 2005.

Barbara had worked as supervisor of 911 dispatch, in Sumter County, Fla., and as a department manager for Walmart, before retiring due to her illness. But her most important job had been as mother to her two sons.

Survivors include: her husband, Douglas; two sons, Douglas Edward Washburn and Erik John (Robin) Washburn; two brothers, Michael and David McCarthy; three sisters, Dorothy Gawronski, Linda Norton and Deborah Gill; and three grandchildren, Paige, Robert and Morgan.

Private family services will be held at a later date. Online condolences may be made at laurelhillfuneralhome.com.

Arlington Tax & Bookkeeping Service celebrates its 3rd decade in business


By Kevin Canessa Jr 

Observer correspondent 


If you’ve ever taken a ride along Kearny Ave., the sad reality is that what you see today is not often what you saw 20, 15 or even five years ago. Many businesses simply come and go, and the buildings they occupied often have new tenants quicker than you can blink.

But for one business on the Avenue, time has stood still.

This year marks Bernadette Antonelli’s 30th year leading Arlington Tax and Bookkeeping Service at 764 Kearny Ave. Back in 1985 when she first opened, her only “employee” was her mom, Alice Belfiore. Antonelli never even thought that now, 30 years later, she would still be doing what she loves to do.

But she is, though this tax season, unlike the last 29, will be vastly different.

That’s because her mom, who was with her every step of the last 29 years — and who was always in the office helping her in the months leading to April 15 — died Sept. 30 at the age of 92.

It will mean a lot of people will miss Mrs. Belfiore when they come in for their tax work. It will also be a lot different for Antonelli, who enjoyed every minute of having her mom with her during tax season.

“My mom worked with me from the day I opened my business,” Antonelli said. “It was expected that she would only be there for a few years until I got on my feet. As the years went on, not only did she love working during tax season, but she became a very important part of the business.”

Most clients would always go out of their way to say hello to Mrs. Belfiore if she was in the office. And they’d ask about her when she wasn’t.


Photos courtesy Bernadette Antonelli Bernadette Antonelli (l.), her mother, the late Alice Belfiore, and her daughter Brianna Antonelli at Arlington Tax & Bookkeeping Service in Kearny.

Photos courtesy Bernadette Antonelli
Bernadette Antonelli (l.), her mother, the late Alice Belfiore, and her daughter Brianna Antonelli at Arlington Tax & Bookkeeping Service in Kearny.


“And that’s because she got to know all of my clients. They all loved her,” Antonelli said. “She once said that if she knew she was going to be working with me for all the years that she did, that she would have learned to use the computer.”

The greatest challenge this tax season will be for Antonelli to have to answer where her mom is when asked by clients who might not know she died. But having her daughter with her to continue a family tradition certainly helps.

“She (mom) was so proud of me and all that I accomplished and now of (my daughter) Brianna for following in my footsteps,” Antonelli said. “Brianna is now an important part of the business. Although she has been helping out in the office since she was a teenager, she is now in graduate school and will receive her master’s degree in taxation in April. It thrills me that the legacy of this business will continue.”

For more information, or to set up an appointment, call Antonelli at 201-991-8888, email her at BAntonelli@arlingtontax. com or log on to www.ArlingtonTax.com.

Easing the way over


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent


State officials are still pondering what to do about the century-old DeJessa Bridge which links Lyndhurst and Nutley across the Passaic River but, in the meantime, Bergen County has done its part to try and relieve congestion there.

At the urging of Lyndhurst Mayor Robert Giangeruso, the county undertook – and has now completed – improvements to the Kingsland and Riverside Aves. intersection on the Lyndhurst side of the bridge.

The work, performed by JCC Contracting of Bloomfield, which, according to township engineer Brian Intindola, cost the county about $814,000, had several components:

Creating three separate eastbound lanes coming off the bridge into Lyndhurst dedicated to left turns onto Riverside, continuing straight onto Kingsland or turning right onto Riverside. Read more »

Last chance to sound off on dog park

By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent


The town is preparing to let the dogs out but first it wants the owners in.

For a public meeting, that is, on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 7:30 p.m., in the second floor Town Council chambers at Town Hall on the proposed Kearny dog park targeted for Riverbank Park.

Council President Carol Jean Doyle, who has been leading the charge for the enterprise, encouraged those interested in the project to come out to hear how the park would be laid out and to offer any tweaks on some of the amenities associated with it.

“Neglia Engineering (the town’s consulting engineers) has incorporated all the suggestions we’ve received to this point into a ‘final’ plan,” Doyle said. “It’s a preview before we put a shovel in the ground.” Read more »

Ice storm took its toll on local roads

By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent 


By the time you read this, we all may be trapped inside by a blizzard — if the current weather forecasts are correct. But it doesn’t necessarily take heavy snow to create havoc. Sometimes, a coating of ice is sufficient.

Last week began with an ice storm on Sunday. By the end of the day, there were news reports of more than 400 motor vehicle accidents in New Jersey.

That’s frightening enough, but consider this: That tally of 400, law enforcement told us, was likely just the number recorded by the State Police. It would not have taken into account all the accidents reported by the local police departments in all the communities throughout New Jersey.

In Kearny, on Sunday, Jan. 18, there were 48 reported MV accidents between 7:16 a.m. and 5:11 p.m. Repeat: 48. The first was on Fish House Road; the last, on Hackensack Ave. Those were both in South Kearny, but don’t think the residential area of town was spared. Read more »

Bracing for funding shift


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 


For the past 37 years, the Kearny nonprofit Pathways to Independence Inc. has helped those with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live independently in their communities.

Currently, from its 3-level, 18,000 square foot headquarters at Kingsland and Bergen Aves., it offers on-site adult training skills for 78 clients, along with job skills, extended employment and paid sub-contract work for 66 individuals, said Pathways Executive Director Alvin Cox.

It also arranged for the placement of 12 clients at “supportive employment” opportunities at job sites in the community, he added.

And, “within the next year,” Cox said that Pathways hopes to be expanding to afford more on-site day training “for those not ready to get a job in the community.” Read more »

A new ‘acquisition’


Tim Bixler, of The Bixler Group Real Estate and Insurance and his wife, Charissa Bixler, welcomed their daughter, Addison Paige Bixler, on Tuesday, Jan. 20, at 1:20 p.m. Big brother Brayden is beyond excited. Only a few more years until she will be able to help you with your real estate and insurance needs.

‘He knew he’d be caught’


By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent


On Christmas Eve, Kearny police reported, a Windsor St. home was burglarized by a thief who gained access through a window after stacking a bunch of pavers below it and climbing in.

The perp took jewelry and $100 in change.

The police took fingerprints, which Det. Ray Lopez found on the windowpane and on a glass jar that had held the coins, The prints were sent to the State Police, which confirmed they belonged “to a local resident we were familiar with,” Capt. Stephen Durkin told The Observer.

The KPD then obtained both an arrest warrant and a search warrant for the suspect’s home.

Last Thursday, at 5:30 p.m., Dets. Michael Gonzalez and John Telle arrested 22-year-old Joseph Ferguson of Kearny at Wilson Ave. and Maple St. At headquarters, Ferguson reportedly admitted to not only the Dec. 24 crime but also four other burglaries in the town: Dec. 19, on Halstead St.; Dec. 30, on Windsor St.; Jan. 2, at Belgrove Drive and Bergen Ave.; “and a Maple St. burglary that was never reported to us,” Durkin said. That one, the captain said, occurred “a couple of months ago.” Read more »

3 nominees vie for vacant council seat


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 


Three political novices – all women – were under consideration for appointment to the First Ward seat on the Kearny Town Council that was left vacant Jan. 5 by the resignation of Alexa Arce.

A decision was expected by the council at its meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 27. The council was due to interview the nominees, before the meeting, at 6 p.m., in the council chambers.

“These are three good candidates,” Mayor Alberto Santos told The Observer last week after local members of the county Democratic Committee (chaired by Santos) convened Jan. 20 at the American Legion post to choose three people whose names would be presented to the council for its review.

“This will be difficult to choose,” the mayor added, referring to the list of nominees selected by the committee. “They are all First Ward residents and all involved with the community.”

They were: Marytrine DeCastro, Sonia Hill and Jenny Mach. Read more »