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Lyndhurst bowling: Dominance at state sectional

2-18 Lyndhurst state champs_web

Emily Young rolls top series facing boys’ competition

By Jim Hague

Observer Sports

Writer After losing in the Bergen County Bowling Tournament to Indian Hills two weeks ago, the Lyndhurst bowling team was on a mission.

“We were a little motivated,” said senior Jordan Lopez.

“They were disappointed in themselves after that tournament,” said Lyndhurst second-year head coach Brianna Balkin. “They were out for redemption.”

At the NJSIAA North 1A sectional championships Saturday at Bowler City in Hackensack, the Golden Bears were unconscious, setting a new record for total score of 3,490 – or a per-player average of 233 – capturing the North 1A title for a fourth consecutive year.

The Golden Bears were led by a girl, namely Emily Young, who rolled both the high game of the day (268) and high series (759), but had nothing to show for it, because rules state that a girl cannot win the boys’ sectional. Talk about your gender inequality.

“I would have to admit I was a bit upset by it,” Young said. “But at the same time, I got bragging rights. No one could ever think that a girl could actually win the sectional.”

“She just wanted to finish among the top five and then see what could happen,” Balkin said. “But then the whole place went nuts when she rolled her highest game ever. I remember saying, ‘Oh my God, she’s going to win the whole thing.’ ”

No one could have ever dreamed that a girl would beat all the boys in attendance at a state sectional championship. But that’s what happened. Young, who won the Bergen County girls’ tournament back on Wednesday, Jan. 21, just kept throwing strikes with her different release form.

Instead of throwing the ball down the center of the lane, Young directs the ball to have an alternate backward swing from right to left. It’s not a conventional way of bowling, but it obviously works. “I definitely did not expect to win,” said Young, who also plays on the Lyndhurst volleyball team in the fall. “It was really impressive. I have to admit that I was a little upset that I didn’t get a chance to win many things in volleyball. But now, I have bragging rights, especially with the boys.”

Young rolled a 268-244-257- 769 series to card the best outing of the day by anyone, boy or girl.

“She rolled a 268, which was her highest game ever,” Balkin said. “I said, ‘She’s going to win the whole thing.’ And she did just that. I moved her to the lead-off slot and that worked, because she carried the team throughout. The boys all love her and wanted to do well behind her.”

James Kane of Paramus Catholic was second, but at 748 some 21 pins behind Young.

“It was the best day of her career,” Balkin said. “She’s been bowling great for us, but this was pretty special.”

But Young got nothing to show for her brilliant day.

“I guess they never thought a girl could actually win it,” Young said.

The Golden Bears rolled a commanding 1,233 to win the first game overall, with Young’s 268 leading the way. In fact, all five Lyndhurst bowlers shot over 200 in the first game. Daijon Smith was next with a score of 259, followed by Lopez’s score of 258. Ryan Donohue finished fourth with a 244 and Richard Sawires finished off the brigade with a 204.

Lopez was second with a 728 series. Smith was fourth with 716 and Donohue rolled a 667. It was pure domination.

“I’ve been in bowling leagues my whole life and I never saw anything like that before,” Balkin said. “All five kids rolled three strikes in the 10th frame. I never saw that before on any level, never mind high school, not from five kids. It was amazing.”

The Golden Bears just continued with the dominance all day, setting a new sectional total pin record in the process.

“They just wanted to beat everyone in the building,” Balkin said. “They were so upset after the county that they were not about to let it happen again. It’s really impressive. That’s a lot of pins. I’ve seen people bowl in leagues and can’t come close to that score. They were out to show everyone how good they really are. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. It’s an amazing group. They all wanted to do so well.”

After it was over, Balkin stopped to reflect on the Golden Bears’ fourth straight state sectional title.

“Did that really happen?” Balkin asked. “It really was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”

The Golden Bears move on to the overall Group I state championships Friday at Carolier Lanes in East Brunswick.

“It feels like maybe this could be the year for us to win it all,” said Lopez, who joined Young as members of all four state sectional champions.

“We’re going in with a big confidence boost.” “We’re all bowling well and that works out well for everyone,” Young said. “Everyone pushes each other to do better.”

Lopez, Smith and Donohue, all of whom have already bowled perfect games in their careers, also qualified as individuals for the state championships Wednesday, where Young will compete with and against the girls. All of Lyndhurst’s bowlers return Friday for the team championships.

North Arlington also qualified for Friday’s team championship with a 2,858 pin performance, moving on to the state finals for the first time since 2010.

QP hires respected veteran Kelly to head football team

2-18 View_web

By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

As has been noted here several times over the years, there’s a coaching carousel that lives at Queen of Peace High School.

One coach leaves, another arrives. There’s never a lot of time for a coach to feel comfortable.

Take for instance, the head football coaching position. Ever since Andy Cerco led the Golden Griffins to the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 2 state championship in 2004, there have been four different head coaches, all trying to duplicate what Cerco did.

In fact, the year after the Golden Griffins won their lone state title, Cerco brought the team back to the state title game once again, but this time fell short to St. Joseph’s of Hammonton.

However, in those two glorious seasons, the Griffins were 21-2, records that were never to be seen again.

There were high profiled coaches like Ed Stinson. That didn’t work. There were alums like Bob Kearns. That didn’t work.

Here’s an incredible stat. Since the Griffins lost in the state title game in 2005, they have gone a collective 30-62. Not exactly a successful run.

But there’s another change in administration, with John Tonero taking over as principal and Ed Abromaitis returning once again as athletic director. The school vows that they are moving in the right direction.

Sure seems like QP is trying, especially since the school hired Jim Kelly to be the new head football coach.

Kelly has an impressive resume, having turned around a totally moribund Clifton program in 1992 and led the Mustangs to the NJSIAA Group IV playoffs, when no one thought that was even fathomable.

“You look how competitive we were, playing in the NNJIL with schools like Ridgewood and Montclair,” Kelly said. “We made strides both on and off the field.”

Kelly then left Clifton after five successful seasons and moved to Nutley, where Kelly was and still is a teacher. Kelly had a nice seven-year stay at Nutley, but stepped away for family reasons, turning the program over to Nutley alum in Steve DiGregorio in 2004.

So Kelly has great success in leading two noted high school programs like Clifton and Nutley. In recent years, Kelly was an assistant coach at Montclair State, coaching the tight ends, wide receivers and running backs.

For the last two years, Kelly was away from coaching, doing clinics and such in Nutley. Now 55 years old, Kelly felt like he was missing the game too much and wanted a return.

When his good friend, Scot Weaver, the current QP wrestling coach, called Kelly to see if he would be interested in the position at QP, Kelly’s ears perked up.

“It was simply an opportunity that presented itself,” said Kelly, who met with his new players for the first time last Wednesday at the school. “I was definitely intrigued. I had some conversations and it turned out to be the right spot, the right place. I always had the passion to coach again. I just wanted to go someplace where I could make a difference.”

Kelly knows that he’s not inheriting a great program. After all, the Golden Griffins were a miserable 1-9 last season in Kearns’ second year.

“There are things that need to be addressed,” Kelly said. “There has to be accountability and discipline. If you can develop a mutual trust between your players and your staff, that’s the first step. I feel like I have a lot to offer here.”

But Kelly realizes that he has his work cut out for him.

“I realize it’s a challenge,” Kelly said. “A lot of people have asked me why would I want to do this. I’m drawing on my own experience. There is a lot of similarity to what I had to go through in Clifton. When people get to know who I am and what I stand for, then they’ll realize this is a good fit.”

From a personal standpoint, I have worked with Kelly in both of his prior head coaching positions, going back to Clifton in 1992 and then in Nutley. He is an excellent football coach, a great offensive mind who has the ability to turn things around.

But can he? That remains to be seen. However, Kelly certainly is eager enough and believes he can with the help of the new administrative team at the school.

“I’m always excited to get a good opportunity like this,” Kelly said. “With the help of the administration, I feel like I can do something positive and make a difference. I think we all have the same vision and understanding.”

Kelly said that he was encouraged after meeting with the players Wednesday.

“I was interested in hearing their perception of the program and the questions they asked of me,” Kelly said. “They seem to be players who want to get better and want to have the right product. They want to be a part of something special. That’s how I felt by the questions they asked of me.”

One thing is for sure. There’s only one direction that Kelly can go – and that’s up. The program can’t get much lower than it is. Here’s to hoping that Kelly gives the program some much needed stability and leadership – and here’s to hoping that the school’s administration gives Kelly the support he most definitely needs.

NA’s Fisher captures gold in Group I pole vault

2-18 State champ_web

By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

When Travis Fisher loaded up his gear and braved the bitter winter cold to head to the Bennett Center in Toms River for the NJSIAA Group I state indoor track and field championships Sunday, he had a dream in mind. He was going to win the pole vault gold medal.

“I felt really good,” Fisher said. “I felt like nothing was going to stop me. I was shooting to finish first or at least second.”

North Arlington head track and field coach John Zukatus had more reasonable goals.

“I thought he would medal, like finish in the top three or so,” Zukatus said.

However, when the bar in the competition was raised to 14 feet, the expectations changed a little.

“Travis never cleared 14 (feet) before,” Zukatus said.

“I never did 14, but I figured this was my chance,” Fisher said. “I felt really ready for it, going at it full speed.”

Sure enough, Fisher got enough steam and lift to clear the bar at 14 feet and that was enough for Fisher to secure the overall Group I gold medal, topping Andrew Accardi of Pompton Lakes by a match of jumps.

Incredibly, both Fisher and Accardi train together at Apex Vaulting in Fairfield.

Still, the victory gave Fisher a state gold medal _ the second gold medal for a North Arlington track and field athlete in as many years.

Last year, Danny Cordeiro, now playing soccer at NJIT, won the 800-meter run gold medal at the state meet.

Not bad for an indoor track program that didn’t even exist before last year. Two years of existence, two state gold medal winners.

Fittingly, it was due to the hard work of Fisher and his mother, as well as others, that pushed the North Arlington Board of Education to consider having indoor track as a varsity sport. Fisher went around collecting signatures on a petition two years ago and made a presentation to the Board of Education, calling for the implantation of indoor track as a sport.

“If it never happened, then Danny and I would never have the chance to win a state championship,” Fisher said. “It’s an amazing accomplishment. It’s such an awesome feeling.”

After Fisher cleared 14 feet, he had to sit around and wait to see if anyone else did.

“That was nerve wracking,” Fisher said. “I still had to compete while worrying about everyone else.” Fisher did try to clear 14-6, but missed on three attempts. Still, he cleared his career best, indoors and outdoors, by clearing 14 feet.

“I was shooting for it,” Fisher said. “That was my goal. I really thought I had a chance.”

Zukatus was more than pleased by Fisher’s performance.

“I think it’s more than remarkable that it was the first time he cleared 14 feet,” Zukatus said. “It came down to doing it today (Sunday) and he did it. It was huge and so exciting. I never thought he could pull it out. It’s the best thing ever, seeing him after he tried for so long. I couldn’t think of a kid who deserves this more, considering the work he puts it and tries to get better every meet.” It’s not easy for Fisher, who trains in conditioning with the rest of his North Arlington teammates three times a week, then heads to Apex Vaulting twice a week.

“He has to do a lot of it on his own,” said Zukatus, who obviously doesn’t have the luxury of having an indoor vaulting pit in North Arlington High School. “He keeps a busy schedule for himself.”

With the victory, Fisher now heads back to the Bennett Center this Saturday one last time, but this time, it’s the overall NJSIAA Meet of Champions. Fisher will hope to duplicate Cordeiro’s performance of a year ago and come home from the state’s premier indoor meet with a medal.

“I’m excited for it,” Fisher said. “Whatever happens, happens. But I feel like I’m right there.”

Fisher said that he came “pretty close” to clearing the bar at 14-6 Sunday, which would almost guarantee him a medal this weekend.

“I have a shot,” Fisher said.

Zukatus just loves Fisher’s overall approach.

“He doesn’t get caught up in himself,” Zukatus said. “Travis is always calm and cool. It’s not his style to be anything else.”

Zukatus hopes that Fisher’s gold medal-winning performance will open some eyes around the entire state.

“I would hope that it gives us more recognition,” Zukatus said. “I hope that people realize that we’re not just some little program who did a onetime thing last year. Now, we have another state champion.”

Two in two years is not a bad start.

“I think it says a lot for the kids,” Zukatus said. “They worked so hard to get to be with the best. Like Danny, Travis’ hard work has paid off.”

But in the case of Fisher, here’s a kid who wanted to have indoor track, did all the leg work to make sure the sport reached varsity status _ and now gets to reap the rewards as an overall Group I state champion.

“It is an awesome feeling,” Fisher said. “I know that there are some people who never thought it was possible.”

However, one of those people who never doubted it was eventually the most important one of all, namely Travis Fisher, who will be forever remembered now as a North Arlington state champion.

Reilly feted as Civil Lawyer of the Year


The Hudson County Bar Association Civil Practice Committee has named Kathleen M. Reilly of Brady, Brady & Reilly as the Civil Lawyer of the Year for 2014.

The award, presented at the Bar Association Practice Awards Dinner, was bestowed on Reilly in recognition of her distinguished service in the practice of civil law. Attending were members of her firm, the judiciary and her family as well as fellow members of the trial bar.

A certified civil trial lawyer, Reilly heads the firm of Brady, Brady & Reilly in Kearny. A graduate of Rosemont College and Seton Hall University School of Law, she has been practicing litigation in the State and Federal Courts of New Jersey since 1983. She specializes in serious personal injury and death claims, including, but not limited to, automobile negligence, dangerous products, premises liability, liquor liability, dog bites and slip/trip and falls.

Reilly has had multiple jury verdicts in excess of $1 million and has settled millions of dollars in personal injury cases on behalf of her injured clients.

In announcing the award, the law firm noted: “Representing the injured, disabled and bereaved is a serious responsibility, and Reilly shoulders this mission with unwavering compassion. Known for her sympathetic and caring nature, many are surprised to witness her feistiness and ferocity in the courtroom. She is both fearless and vigorous in pursuit of a claim on behalf of a client. Her experience, dedication and meticulous preparation have translated into financial awards and justice for the firm’s satisfied clients.”

Celebrate Mardi Gras at Applebee’s in N.J.

Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar locations in New Jersey invite guests to let the good times roll with a variety of food and beverage specials to celebrate Mardi Gras.

From now until Feb. 22, Applebee’s will offer diners a taste of The Big Easy in their neighborhood by featuring its Bourbon St.- inspired dishes and specialty cocktails including:

• Bourbon St. Chicken &  Shrimp – Cajun-seasoned chicken breast grilled and served on a sizzling skillet with blackened seasoned shrimp, garlic and thyme.

• Bourbon St. Steak – A  juicy, tender 9 oz. steak jazzed up with Cajun spices. • Shoo Fly Punch – Jim  Beam with ginger and lime soda over crushed ice.

• Southern Jack-hattan  – Jack Daniels, peach schnapps and sweet vermouth.

Mardi Gras specials are available at 100 Applebee’s locations owned and operated by Doherty Enterprises.

In New Jersey, Applebee’s is located in Brick, Bridgewater, Butler, Clifton, East Hanover, Edison, Flemington, Garfield, Hackensack, Hackettstown, Hillsborough, Howell, Jersey City, Jersey Gardens, Kearny, Lacey, Manahawkin, Manalapan, Manchester, Middletown, Milltown, Mt. Olive, Newark, Newton, North Bergen, Northvale, Ocean, Paramus, Parsippany, Phillipsburg, Piscataway, Rockaway, Tinton Falls, Toms River, Totowa, Union, Wall and Woodbridge.

Ex-employee stole nearly 9G, cops say

A woman who had worked for a Nutley physician has been accused of stealing several thousands of dollars from her former employer, according to Nutley PD.

Sonia Marinas, 56, of Haledon, faces charges of forgery and theft by deception. She was arrested Feb. 10 at headquarters where she was booked and later released pending a court appearance.

Police said the doctor called for assistance on Oct. 22, 2014, after having discovered that close to $9,000 was missing from her business account. Subsequent investigation and the successful subpoenaing of bank records led police to conclude that Marinas was a prime suspect in the case.

Nutley Police Det. Sgt. Anthony Montanari said that investigators determined that during the four months she worked for the doctor, Marinas had access to her employer’s checking account and that Marinas allegedly forged the doctor’s name on those checks to pay some of her own bills.

According to Montanari, close to 20 transactions involving those forged checks were made during the four-month period.

About two months after Marinas left the doctor’s employ, the doctor came upon the discrepancy in her account, Montanari said.

Montanari credited Nutley Police Det. Thomas Perrota, in particular, for his investigative work on the case. A 17-year veteran, Perrota is assigned to most of the department’s fraud investigations.

• • •

In other incidents logged Feb. 7 to 13, Nutley PD responded to 24 motor vehicle accidents, 43 medical calls, 11 disputes, 10 suspicious incidents and these matters:

Feb. 7 

Police responded to a Warren St. location on a report of juveniles trespassing in the boiler room of an apartment complex. At the location, police said they found Fernando Acosta, 19, of Nutley, in possession of a suspected marijuana cigarette. He was arrested and charged with possession of drugs. He was also processed on an outstanding warrant from Nutley and released pending a court date.

Feb. 8 

Following a head-on collision at Washington Ave. and Centre St., police arrested Jayson Acevedo, 19, of Boca Raton, Fla., and ticketed him for DWI, careless driving, failure to maintain lane, driving while intoxicated underage, having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle, failure to wear seatbelt and failure to exhibit proof of insurance. He was released to a family member pending a court appearance.

• • •

Police responded to a Franklin Ave. pharmacy whose manager had reported a theft and arrested Angela Cacchio, 46, of Newark, in the store parking lot. Police said Cacchio admitted taking shampoo and conditioner without paying. She was charged with shoplifting $242.76 in merchandise and released pending a court date.

• • •

Police issued notices of violation for failing to shovel their sidewalks within a 36- hour grace period to the owners of four homes on Passaic Ave. and Harrison, Ernest and Essex Sts.

Feb. 9 

While patrolling Centre St., police said they noticed a westbound vehicle that had no front license plate and pulled over the driver, Muevz Vincent II, 22, of Livingston, who, they said, had an active warrant from Rochelle Park. He was ticketed for failure to display front plate and, after posting bail, was released pending court dates on each matter.

• • •

The victim of what police described as an ID theft told police they received a call from someone identifying themselves as “Brandon” from PayPal credit security asking them to verify a PayPal credit card account opened under their name. The victim told police they’d never authorized the transaction.

Feb. 10 

The owner of a Franklin Ave. business reported receiving a possible fraudulent $100 bill although the owner couldn’t remember the circumstances under which the bill came into their possession. Police took the bill as evidence.

• • •

Another ID theft victim told police that someone had opened two Verizon accounts under their name without authorization. The victim said they learned this had happened after they’d planned to upgrade their cellular phone and found an outstanding balance of $1,000.

Feb. 11

An elderly resident’s son called police to report a phone scam. The son told police his father had received a call from a “Mark Collins,” with a heavy Jamaican accent, claiming to be with Publisher’s Clearing House, and asked his father to go to the nearest CVS and buy numerous $500 Vanilla Pack refillable gift cards, then return home and wait for someone who would pick up the gift cards and give him a larger sum of money in exchange. Police said they tried calling Collins but the number was out of service.

Feb. 12 

Police responded to a Lovel Court location on a report about solicitors wearing construction vests. At the location, police found two men fitting that description who identified themselves as IMP Marketing sales representatives. Police said one of the pair, Ronald McDaniel, 28, of Belleville, had six active warrants: three from Belleville and one apiece from North Arlington, Edison and Atlantic City. He was turned over to Edison PD.

– Ron Leir 


Chester C. Conklin 

Chester C. Conklin died Feb. 8 at Clara Maass Medical Center. He was 73.

Born in Newark, he lived in Kearny before moving to Belleville in 1981.

Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral Mass was held at St. Mary’s Church in Nutley, followed by burial in Arlington Cemetery in Kearny. (www.armitagewiggins.com)

Chester was a member of Teamsters Local 641 and drove a truck for many years for L.J. Kennedy and Preston Trucking.

Husband of Carolyn (nee Young), he is also survived by his children and their spouses Michael S. Conklin, Jeff Conklin (Caroline) and Donna L. Conklin (Joe Besterci), his grandchildren Eric, Hailey, Mackenzie and Amanda, and his best pal Casey.

Mary Corner

Mary Corner (nee Quigley) died peacefully on Feb. 10 at The Shorrock Gardens in Brick. She was 87.

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, she lived many years in Kearny before retiring to Brick.

Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral Mass was held at Our Lady of Sorrows, Kearny, followed by burial in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington. (www.armitagewiggins.com)

Mary and her late husband John Corner owned and ran Matson’s Tavern in Kearny for many years. She loved her family, friends, heritage and Our Lady of Sorrows.

She is survived by her daughter and son Ann Marie Deichman (Daniel Sr.) and John Corner (Carolyn), her grandchildren Daniel (Jessica) and Jeremy (Natalia) and great-grandchildren Madilyn Rose, Daniel Marc, Lilyahna and Luke Jeremy.

Julia T. Dunaj 

Julia T. Dunaj (nee Agentowicz), of North Arlington, died peacefully on Feb. 8. She was 95.

Funeral arrangements were under the direction of the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison. A funeral Mass was held at Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, Harrison. Interment was in Holy Cross Cemetery. For information, or to send condolences to the family, please visit www.mulliganfh.com.

Born and raised in Eynon, Pa., she lived in North Arlington for the past 57 years. Julia worked as a product scheduler for RCA in Harrison for many years, retiring to raise her two children. She was a parishioner of Our Lady of Czestochowa Church and a member of Rosary Altar Society, a member of the Senior Harmony Club of North Arlington, and a charter member and treasurer of the Young Women’s Club of Harrison. She was also the Financial Secretary of Lodge 3187 of the Polish National Alliance (PNA) District 5 and took part in many activities as well as being involved in multiple PNA committees.

Predeceased by her husband, Stanley J. Dunaj, Julia is survived by her loving children Patricia A. and Stanley M. Dunaj, her dear sister Jean A. Kozmor, her sisters-in-law Ann Dunaj and Bernadine Janusz as well as loving nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests Mass intentions to be offered from Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, Harrison or Queen of Peace Church, North Arlington, or a donation to a charity of choice would be appreciated in care of the funeral home in loving memory of Julia.

Rafael Anthony Egoavil 

Rafael Anthony “Tony” Egoavil, of Buffalo, N.Y., formerly of Newark, entered into eternal rest on Feb. 6. He was 42.

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

Born and raised in Newark, he lived most his life there before moving to Buffalo in 2004. Rafael worked for Ford Motor Company for more than 20 years, first in Edison and most recently in Buffalo, N.Y.

He was a second generation employee as his father Rafael also worked for the Ford Motor Company. He was a member of the UAW Ford Local 897 in Buffalo, N.Y. An avid baseball fan, his favorite team was the N.Y. Mets. In his free time, Tony also enjoyed video games and graphic novels.

Tony is survived by his beloved mother Juanita, loving children Ashley Nicole and Ryan Matthew, dear brother Chris and his wife Heather, cherished niece and goddaughter Olivia and nephew Connor, godson Logan Gonzalez and the mother of his children Lydia Ivette Toyens. He was predeceased by his father Rafael (2014) and his sister Marisol (1982).

Hedwig A. Kasper 

Hedwig A. “Gladys” Kasper (nee Rudnicki), 90, a lifelong resident of Harrison, died Feb. 11 at the Alaris Healthcare Center on Bergen Ave. in Kearny.

She worked as a secretary for the RCA Corporation in Harrison for many years before retiring 25 years ago.

She was the beloved wife of the late John and is survived by her nieces and nephews.

The funeral was from the Parow Funeral Home, 185 Ridge Road, North Arlington, on Saturday, Feb. 14, with a funeral Mass at Our Lady Czestochowa Church, Harrison. Interment followed in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.

Dominick F. Krusznis 

Dominick “Yakie” F. Krusznis Jr., of Berkeley Township, formerly of Harrison, entered into eternal rest on Feb. 2. He was 81.

Funeral arrangements were under the direction of the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison. A funeral Mass was held at Holy Cross Church, Harrison. Interment was in Holy Cross Cemetery. For information, or to send condolences to the family, please visit www.mulliganfh.com.

Born in Jersey City, Dominick was raised and lived in Harrison before moving to Berkeley Township in 2013. He worked for Driver Harris/ Harrison Alloy for many years, retiring in 1997. Prior to that, he worked as a truck driver for Leo Keller Corporation from 1952 to 1988. He also worked for the Harrison Post Office, where he began his employment as a young man. He served his country in the U.S. Army from 1956 to 1962 and was honorably discharged.

Dominick graduated from Harrison High School in 1951. An avid soccer player/fan, he played on the Harrison High School soccer team that won back-to-back state championships in 1949 and 1950. His team had a 53-match winning streak that ended during the 1951 season. Following high school, Dominick continued his dream of becoming a professional soccer player, playing on for the Elizabeth Germans, as well as many other local professional soccer clubs, from 1952 through the late 1970s.

Predeceased by his wife, Ann P. Krusznis (nee Gray) and his son, Dominick W. “Dinny” Krusznis, he is survived by his loving children and their spouses, George Krusznis (Annmarie), Karen Flood (Kevin), David Krusznis (Annette), William “Red” Krusznis (Annie) and Michael Krusznis (Donna). He is also survived by 18 grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to either Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), 26 Broadway, 14th fl., New York, N.Y. 10004 or the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City, Okla. 73123-1718 in loving memory of Dominick.

Michael Raefski 

Michael Raefski, 54, died on Feb. 10 at St. Michael’s Medical Center in Newark.

Arrangements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held at the funeral home, followed by a private cremation. Condolences and memories may be shared at www. thiele-reid.com.

Michael was born in Belleville and was a lifelong resident of North Arlington.

Mr. Raefski was a member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Kearny.

He was a carpenter by trade and later worked at Home Depot.

Michael is survived by his brothers Joseph (Nancy), Frank (Mildred), and Richard Raefski and six nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by his brothers James and John Raefski.

Jane Wilma Watson 


Jane Wilma Watson died Feb. 5.

Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home in Kearny. A memorial service was held at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Toms River. To view the entire obituary, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

House fire quelled


Residents of a one-family house on Fourth St. in Lyndhurst were safely evacuated during a fire that broke out in the early morning on Monday, Feb. 16, authorities said.

Police Capt. John Valente said an alarm of fire was received by police at 4:23 a.m. for 425 Fourth St., prompting a response by the Lyndhurst Volunteer Fire Department.

Patrol officers arriving soon after reported heavy smoke coming from the front door and township volunteer firefighters quickly doused the fire which was confined mostly to the basement, Valente said.

Valente said the fire appears to have started from faulty wiring connected to a basement clothes dryer and some flames apparently traveled inside a wall up to a kitchen area.

Firefighters had the fire extinguished and cleanup operations begun within an hour, with assistance from the North Arlington Volunteer Fire Department’s F.A.S.T. team while Rutherford provided a pumper to stand-by at Lyndhurst Fire HQ , Valente said.

“Damage to the residence could have been much worse if not for the fact that the intense heat caused a copper water pipe to separate, burst and almost act as a sprinkler, helping to keep the fire at bay prior to Fire Department arrival,” he noted.

As of Monday, Valente said, residents were being temporarily housed with family members.

– Ron Leir 

Fitness center coming; new housing under review


By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent 


It may require an extended backstop at Harvey Field to prevent foul balls from whacking cars and/or people and perhaps a buffer of some kind for a residential dog run.

But, in any event, Carlstadt developer Ed Russo will be returning to the Kearny Planning Board March 4 for local approvals to expand his residential project along the north side of Bergen Ave. adjacent to the town’s Harvey Field recreation complex.

Last Wednesday, the board began hearing testimony on Russo’s proposal to demolish two commercial structures at 311-337 Schuyler Ave. and erect two 3-story buildings with 70 rental apartments as part of what the town has designated as an area in need of redevelopment.

It will reconvene next month to hear more about Russo’s expanded project but in the meantime, it voted to approve the developer’s application for a subdivision and amendment to the site plan for the first phase of his residential project – six buildings – on the south side of Bergen Ave. to accommodate a clubhouse and fenced-in dog run on the site of what had been projected as a retail pad.

In other business, the board also sanctioned a site plan and variance application submitted by Kearny Holding VF LLC/Fitness Intl. LLC to convert the old Pathmark supermarket at 175 Passaic Ave. to an LA Fitness facility.

Kearny attorney Gary Bennett, representing Fitness Intl., told the board that his client has negotiated a long-term lease with the property owner, Vornado Realty Trust of New York, to occupy the 58,000 square feet former supermarket building with no change to the structure’s footprint.

James O’Sullivan, director of development for Fitness Intl., said that the company has 650 locations in the U.S. and Canada and of those, he developed 60 in the past decade.

O’Sullivan said the building will be equipped with a kids’ club, locker rooms with bathrooms and showers, a spa, a 3-lane lap pool, basketball/ volleyball court and studios for cardio, yoga and cycling workouts.

Chances of putting in a juice bar are “50/50” at this stage in the development process, O’Sullivan said.

The facility will be open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week, he said.



by Ron Leir Ed Russo outlines his residential project at Planning Board meeting.

by Ron Leir
Ed Russo outlines his residential project at Planning Board meeting.

Plans call for the exterior masonry to be refurbished and repainted with an “earth-tone” color and “additional glass and light,” removal of the former supermarket’s loading docks, installation of brick pavers and bike racks near the front entrance and landscaping with 400 new plants anticipated, he said.

It will probably take a few months to file for building permits and, once granted, “five to six months to construct,” according to O’Sullivan. “The goal is to get this club open this year.”

Once construction starts, the company will open a “pre-sales office” to solicit memberships, he said.

Down the road, O’Sullivan said, the Kearny facility figures to employ more than 75 fulland part-time workers, with job opportunities for local residents.

As for the Bergen Ave. development, Russo told the board he expected to “be 100% complete” with his first phase which he calls Vermella Crossing – 150 rental apartments spread over six buildings – by October 2015.

Assuming favorable action by the board on his proposed expansion, Russo said his hope was to begin construction on that project by “sometime in 2016.”

Monthly rentals are projected at the “mid- $1,600s” for his one-bedroom apartments and in the range of “$2,200 to $2,400” for the two-bedroom units, Russo said. He has no plans to switch to “for sale” units.

Several board members, noting the proximity of the 2.2-acre development site to Harvey Field, wondered whether residents and/or their property might be in harm’s way from foul balls hit by batters during baseball season and that concern triggered discussion about the town doing some adjustments to the baseball field backstop which adjoins the targeted development site. No final plan was agreed to last week.

Asked about concerns raised by the Kearny Fire Department about access to hydrants and the ability of fire trucks to maneuver around the proposed residential buildings, Doug Bartels, an engineer and vice president with Russo Development, said that interior stairwells in each building would be equipped with standpipes and that fire rigs – and garbage trucks – should have enough room “to circulate around both buildings.”

Two board members – Chairman Fred Esteves and Councilman Jonathan Giordano – worried that tenants exiting either of the two proposed driveways from the site would have a tough time negotiating the flow of westbound traffic along Bergen Ave., which tends to stack up at the light at Schuyler Ave.

“There’s no way people are going to be crossing those driveways,” Esteves said. “No one’s going to give them a chance.”

Russo vice president Christopher Minks, the attorney representing the developer at the board hearing, said that the company may be “open to discussion on the more westerly of the two driveways” on possibly restricting the direction of traffic flow to oneway out only. “We’ll be looking at all options,” he said.

Legion seeks new members


By Karen Zautyk

Observer Correspondent 


Last August, The Observer carried our feature story on the 95th anniversary of American Legion Post 99 of Kearny. At the time, Post Commander Keith McMillan spoke about a problem most veterans’ organizations are facing: diminishing membership.

Over the past decade, Post 99 has lost more than 100 members, primarily due, sadly, to the loss of the World War II generation.

“We’re trying to communicate with the new generation of veterans,” McMillan told us. Next week, the Post hopes, that communication will take a leap forward.

And, although the younger generation is one focus, so too are older veterans.

Those who served during Korea or Vietnam — or WWII — also need support and, often, information about and help with the benefits to which they are entitled.

On p. 8 of today’s paper, you will find an ad from the Joseph E. Frobisher Jr. Post 99 inviting non-member veterans to its monthly meeting, to be held at Tuesday, Feb. 17, at the Legion headquarters, 314 Belgrove Dr.

The meeting will start at 7 p.m., “but come early, around 6 o’clock,” McMillan suggested.  “We’ll have refreshments before and afterward.” As the ad notes, anyone who has served honorably in the U.S. armed services, stateside or overseas, during WWII, Korea, Vietnam or were enlisted during any conflict, including Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, is eligible for Legion membership.

There will be open enrollment, but don’t think you will be pressured to join.

This is basically an invitation to stop by and meet some members and learn what the Legion is all about.

“I want them to feel welcome,” McMillan said. “I don’t want anyone to feel obligated. There’s no commitment. This will just be a great opportunity to network and learn for themselves about the benefits and support we can offer to people in the military.”

For example, McMillan said Post 99 is in the process of organizing a career-counseling program. “We are currently working with some companies that would like to donate their time to help with resumes,” he said.

There is also the Kearny VOICE (Veterans Outreach Information Community & Education) project, which provides veterans and their families with information and assistance (clarifying eligibility, assisting with paperwork, etc.) regarding benefits, claims, job training, education and counseling — including referrals for counseling for vets suffering from PTSD.

Kearny VOICE was formed in partnership with the local VFW and Marine Corps League. Post 99, McMillan noted, “has a good rapport” with those groups, “and we’re working more together now.”

“And even though I would like people to join my post,” he said with a smile, “I would not be upset if they chose to join any one of the three.”

McMillan is also hoping to make the Post 99 building more welcoming, including eventually opening it to vets’ service/therapy dogs. He’d also like to see its doors open more often, “so someone could just stop by for a cup of coffee.”

The Legion “has been involved in the community, but I’d like it to be more involved,” he said, adding that Post 99 “is fortunate enough to have the full support of Kearny’s mayor and Council.”

The Post is planning future open-enrollment programs for its Women’s Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion.

While young vets, especially those fresh out of the service, have many concerns, such as finding a job or starting a family, McMillan hopes they will realize that American Legion membership can offer both help with their futures and a connection with a shared history.

“I want them to know how the many generations before us have given us the foundation to keep a good organization going,” the commander said.

“Now, people coming home from service have a different set of concerns, but we have a common bond: We served.

“This is an opportunity to belong to an organization where you share that common bond. You can help build on the foundation they gave us and enable us to carry on.”