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Nutley grid coach DiGregorio resigns after eight seasons

Photo by Jim Hague/ Nutley head football coach Steve DiGregorio announced his resignation last week after eight successful seasons, five of which ended with appearances in the NJSIAA state playoffs.


By Jim Hague

Steve DiGregorio knew for weeks that he was going to step down as the head football coach at Nutley High School, but he didn’t tell a single soul outside of his immediate family.
“No one in Nutley knew,” said DiGregorio, who officially announced his resignation last week after eight successful seasons at the helm of the Maroon Raiders, including five appearances in the NJSIAA state playoffs. “I wanted to keep it to myself. I didn’t want things to get too crazy. I wanted it to end on a good note. It was special for me to have my whole family there and we walked off together. It was pretty neat.”
It was his commitment to his family that DiGregorio cited as his main reason for stepping down.
“There are two really strong reasons for this,” DiGregorio said. “I have three boys and my middle son, Derek, has a very rare disease.”
Derek DiGregorio, who is 14-years-old, was born with ataxia-telangiectasia, or “A-T,” as it is called in general terms. It’s a progressive, degenerative disease that affects a variety of the body’s systems. It begins with a degeneration of the brain that leads to a lack of muscle control and eventually leads to the patient being confined to a wheelchair.
“It’s a brutal disease,” DiGregorio said. “It’s taken away Derek’s ability to walk and has destroyed his immune system. It was misdiagnosed for 12 years and the life expectancy is only to age 20. So my family has put in the investment to help support research for it and that takes up some time.”
DiGregorio’s older son, Zack, is a junior at Princeton High School and he’s the starting quarterback there.
“I missed a portion of his games,” DiGregorio said. “A lot of other coaches have the wonderful opportunity to coach their sons. I felt terrible that I didn’t get to see his games. My wife and I discussed the possibility of Zack coming to Nutley, but we felt it wasn’t the right thing to take Zack away from his friends.”
So DiGregorio’s responsibilities as a father took priority over his responsibilities as a head football coach.
“Those were the two main reasons why I’m leaving,” said DiGregorio, who will remain as a teacher in Nutley High School. “I loved everything about coaching at Nutley, coming back to coach at my alma mater. I had great support, great leadership from the superintendent, principal and athletic director. Leaving now is something I had to do. I wish I didn’t have to, but the decision was pretty self evident. Was the decision difficult? No, it was something I had to do.”
DiGregorio said that he was pleased with what he was able to accomplish at Nutley, turning around a program that was mostly downtrodden and making it a viable state playoff contender. After not making the NJSIAA state playoffs for over a decade, the Maroon Raiders made the North Jersey Section 2, Group III playoffs five times over the last seven years, including the last three years in a row. In 2010, the Maroon Raiders made it all the way to the state sectional title game in MetLife Stadium before falling to Morristown. Nutley lost to Parsippany Hills in the first round of the 2011 state sectionals.
“I’m very proud of what the kids did in my eight years as head coach,” DiGregorio said. “The kids were tough and resilient and showed great character and great work habits. The kids really believed in what we were teaching. That’s what I’m really proud of.”
And he’s proud of the kids he coached. Not only did some make a journey to Alabama last summer to help the victims of the tornadoes that ravaged the Tuscaloosa area, but 67 members of the program went out the day after Thanksgiving to rake leaves for senior citizens in Nutley.
“On Monday, they were back in the weight room,” DiGregorio said. “That’s how dedicated they are. I’m so proud of them. That’s the way we wanted to approach this, have them become community oriented.”
It wasn’t exactly that easy eight years ago, when DiGregorio and current athletic director Joe Piro were driving door-to-door to prospective football players, asking them why they weren’t at the weight training sessions.
“We had about five or six kids in the weight room back then,” DiGregorio said. “So Joe and I drove around going to every home, wondering why they weren’t there. I had total belief in those kids and I’m real grateful to them. We never stopped believing.”
DiGregorio sat down with his players last week to inform them of his decision to step down.
“I think they were taken a little off-guard,” DiGregorio said. “But when I told them why, they understood. Sure, I think some were disappointed, but they’ll get through this. They’re going to continue to do well.”
DiGregorio thanked two assistant coaches, namely Tom Basile and Keith Smith, who were with DiGregorio from the outset.
“I’m very proud and honored to have worked with them,” DiGregorio said. “They shared my mission. I’m very proud of my entire staff. It was an excellent group.”
DiGregorio insisted that his retirement isn’t permanent.
“I don’t think I could ever leave football entirely,” DiGregorio said. “But the program is much better now. It’s well respected, not just only in our community, but in Essex County and the entire state. We have good kids, tough kids, who play hard and play well. That’s a lot to be proud of.”

Lyndhurst looks to Lally to lead wrestling program

Photo by Jim Hague/ The Lyndhurst High School wrestling program welcomes a new head coach in Dr. Jeff Lally (back left). Front row, from left, are Ermal Mera, Mike Morreale, Nick Carbone and Thomas Hayes. Back row are coaches Lally, Corey Dunn and Mike Chiappa

By Jim Hague

Although he’s focused in establishing his chiropractic office in Wayne, Dr. Jeff Lally has always had his true love of wrestling in mind.
After all, Lally was a standout high school wrestler at Pascack Hills, where he learned under legendary coach Bucky Rehbain, went on to wrestle at Virginia Tech and later became the head coach at St. Joseph of Montvale for three seasons.
But at the time, Lally’s practice was located in New York and the hustle and bustle of trying to get from Manhattan to northern Bergen County was just too much.
“I didn’t want to resign,” Lally said. “Things just didn’t work out.”
Lally was an assistant last year at DePaul, near where he moved his practice, when his old high school coach told him about the head coaching opening at Lyndhurst.
“I was looking to get back into coaching and Bucky knew that,” Lally said. “So he called me and told me about Lyndhurst.”
The former head coach, namely Lyndhurst wrestling legend Dennis McSweeney, had to resign as head coach after he entered the Bergen County Police Academy.
“I knew that Lyndhurst had such a tradition-based wrestling program,” Lally said. “I also knew it was a program with a lot of potential to restore it where it once was.”
So Lally was hired to take over the co-operative program that is shared between Lyndhurst and North Arlington.
Lally recalls the first meeting he had with the prospective wrestlers.
“I think they were all pretty relieved to have someone in place,” Lally said. “For the longest time, they didn’t have anyone to coach. Ever since I came in, they’ve been very receptive.”
Lally inherits a program that doesn’t have a ton of experience.
“We have only five seniors and even some of them have never wrestled before,” Lally said. “It’s a challenge, but we’re ready for it. We have a big freshman class who came in and are getting their feet wet. We have about eight kids from North Arlington. It’s an obstacle to get them to practice, but we’re making the most of it.”
As the 2011-2012 season begins, high school wrestling will be facing some major changes, especially with the weight classifications.
“Since most of them are new to wrestling, it’s not going to matter much with us,” Lally said “I don’t know if the changes help.”
For example, the 189-pound class is now 195 pounds and the 215-pound class now stands at 220. Lally knows that some programs will be affected by the changes, but not so much with the Golden Bears.
Leading the returnees is senior 120-pounder Mike Morreale, who has been a four-year varsity performer.
“I expect a lot from him,” Lally said. “He has the most experience on the team.”
Morreale’s younger brother, sophomore Joey, is the team’s 106-pounder.
“He has a lot of poise for a young wrestler,” Lally said. “He’s a great hard worker and should do some nice things.”
Sophomore Anthony Giaquinto should hold the fort at the 132-pound weight class, with junior Ian Yunis, a product of the Lyndhurst Recreation wrestling program, has shown a lot of promise in the 145-pound class.
Sophomore Frank Mezzina and senior Mike Carbone are battling it out for the 152-pound weight class duties, with sophomore Anthony Cardaci competing at 160 pounds.
Junior James Wenger is a newcomer to wrestling, but holding his own at 170 pounds. Seniors Ermal Mera, Rob Litterio and Thomas Hayes are all seniors who are learning every single day. Hayes enjoyed a great football season for the Golden Bears’ team that won a round in the state playoffs. If he shows the athleticism on the mat that he did on the gridiron, Hayes will enjoy instant success as a wrestler.
Freshman Lou Laregina, another product of the Lyndhurst Recreation program, is in the mix in the upperweights, along with junior Dominic Rega and Ernest Brodie, a senior who is a transfer from Harrison.
“I’m real excited about this chance,” said Lally, who is receiving assistance from Don Pritzlaff, Sr., the foremost knowledgeable wrestling person in Lyndhurst, as well as former Rutherford standout Corey Dunn, who was a two-time state medalist during his days at Rutherford.
“We all wrestle with the kids every day, get out on the mats,” said Lally, who also grapples regularly with his team. “It’s a good group. It feels good to get back into it. I always knew I would if I had the right opportunity and this is the right opportunity.”

Nutley baseball standout Kraft signs with Coppin State

Photo by Jim Hague/ Nutley senior Jack Kraft, shown here in action last spring, has signed a national letter of intent to attend Coppin State next fall.

By Jim Hague

Nutley High School baseball standout Jack Kraft already has his college plans laid out, long before he sees a pitch in the upcoming season.
The sweet-swinging left-handed hitting Kraft has signed a national letter of intent to attend Coppin State in Baltimore on a baseball scholarship. Coppin State is an NCAA Division I school.
Kraft said that he made his decision early because a lot of other colleges are already making plans for the 2013 season and completing rosters.
“There are a lot of schools that I talked to that have filled up their rosters already,” Kraft said. “I wanted to wait to see what I did this upcoming season, but if I waited, I might not have another chance to sign. It’s better to have it done earlier than not at all.”
Kraft knew that he wanted to sign with Coppin State after meeting with the coaching staff and visiting the campus.
“The coaches were great and the team was great,” Kraft said. “They also have excellent academic support there. It’s very exciting. Now, I can play this season and not have any pressure at all. I can just go out and do my thing. I don’t have to go out and try to impress other college coaches. It makes things much easier for me.”
Kraft said that it was always his dream to go to a Division I school to play baseball.
“Right from the start, it was what I wanted to do,” Kraft said.
Kraft was asked if he considered any offers from local schools like Seton Hall or Rutgers. Seton Hall is where former Nutley standout Giuseppe Papaccio is currently playing.
“Seton Hall wanted me and Rutgers wanted to talk to me,” Kraft said. “I’ve known (Rutgers head coach) Fred Hill personally for a while. I definitely know I can play at that level, but neither was ready to make a commitment. I couldn’t afford to wait. Suppose something happened, like an injury. Then I would have nothing.”
Kraft recalled a freak play two years ago when he was sliding into third base and was hit in the face with the ball thrown by the catcher, knocking out four teeth.
“I’m fine now, but I can’t go into this season thinking that something like that could happen again,” Kraft said. “Hopefully, it won’t.”
Kraft said that he feels confident he will have a great season.
“I’m definitely ready,” Kraft said. “I know being a Division I scholarship player puts some pressure on me, but I definitely like the reputation and name it’s given me. I don’t want to go out there and slack off. I want to be an example for others. We definitely can have an amazing year this year, if our fall team is any indication. It’s all about how much hard work we put into it.”
And how well the Coppin State-bound Kraft hits the ball this spring.


Cornelius “Neil” Ford
Cornelius “Neil” Ford passed away on Dec. 1, after losing his battle with cancer. He leaves behind a loving daughter, two adoring grandchildren, and many devoted friends.
A lifelong resident of Harrison, he graduated from Essex Catholic High School in 1972 and went on to work at several institutions of the Harrison Industrial Age, including Otis Elevator and Driver-Harris. He was a member of Laborer’s Local 112.
Surviving are his daughter, Kristina Ford, grandson Russell Kennedy and granddaughter Olivia Richmond, as well as many cousins and great friends.
The viewing was held on Dec. 2 at the Condon Memorial Home, Harrison. A memorial Mass will be held in the new year, so that out-of-state relatives may attend.

Alan T. Kennedy
Alan T. Kennedy died at home on April 7. He was 52.
Born in Kearny, he was a lifelong North Arlington resident.
Private arrangements are being made by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, Kearny.
Alan was a tool-and-dye maker for Standard Tool. He is the son of the late Alexander and Joan Kennedy and brother of the late Donald. He is survived by his fiancé Ellen Dunn along with relatives in Scotland and England.
To leave an online condolence, visit: www.armitagewiggins.com.

Alma D. Strauch
Alma D. Strauch (Gauch), 90, died on Dec. 6 in Arbor Glen Center, Cedar Grove.
Arrangements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. The funeral service was held in the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington, 663 Kearny Ave., Kearny, followed by private cremation. Condolences and memories may be shared at www.thiele-reid.com.
Alma was born in Kearny and was a lifelong resident.
She was employed as an accounts payable clerk at Midlantic Bank in Bloomfield for 19 years, retiring many years ago.
Alma loved her family at the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington where she served as an elder and deacon, and was a member of the Canterbury Guild, the Presbyterian Women and the Chancel Choir.  She volunteered every year at the annual holiday fair on the first Saturday of November. She was also responsible for organizing and running the church rummage sale. She taught Sunday School for 19 years. Alma also served as a volunteer at the Kearny Public Library and was a former Girl Scout Leader.
She is survived by her children Janice R. Taub (David) and Robert A. Strauch; her siblings Frederick Gauch and Erna Moran; grandchildren Hillary Strauch, Jennifer Kissida and Timothy Kissida and three great-grandchildren. She was the mother-in-law of Virginia Strauch.
Alma was predeceased by her husband George J. Sr. and her son George J. Jr.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington c/o the Alma Strauch Fund.

Isabell Jones
Mrs. Isabell Jones, of Kearny, died on Monday, Dec. 5, in West Hudson Extended Care.   She was 81. Services were held privately.
She was predeceased by her husband Pershing Gerald Jones and a son Gerald Jones.
Isabell is survived by her children, Ronald, Barbara and Glen Jones and seven grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well as her niece, Barbara Weir.

Michael A. Toriglio III

Michael A. Toriglio III, died suddenly at home on Dec. 10. He was 51.
Born in Newark, he lived in Kearny before moving to Brick 20 years ago.
Visiting will be on Wednesday, Dec. 14, from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral Mass will be held on Thursday, Dec. 15, at 10:30 a.m. in St. Stephens Church, Kearny, followed by entombment in Holy Cross Mausoleum, North Arlington.
Michael served in the Marine Corps after High School and was a self-employed construction contractor. He loved fishing, hunting and playing golf. He was an avid Jets fan and enjoyed his membership at The Shore Acres Club.
He is survived by his parents Michael A. Jr. and Helen (nee Degnin), his sister Michele Regelsky and her husband Billy and his brother John Toriglio. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Shore Acres Club, P.O. Box 4221, Brick, N.J. 08723. On line condolence may be left at www.armitagewiggins.com.

Annie McGowan

Annie McGowan (nee Durning), died on Dec. 11 at home. She was 94.
Born in Scotland, she lived many years in Forest Hills, Queens before moving to Kearny two years ago.
Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass will be on Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 11 a.m. in St. Cecilia’s Church, Kearny, followed by internment in Calverton National Cemetery, Calverton, N.Y..
Mrs. McGowan was very devoted to the Xaverian Missionaries and enjoyed her membership at the Scots and Irish Clubs. An avid ballroom dancer, she won many awards during her lifetime and had a beautiful singing voice.  On several occasions, she was given the high honor of opening the Scottish Festival in Holmdel by singing the National Anthem.
She was the wife of the late Joseph; sister of Peggy Alessi, James Durning, Katie Duffy and the late Sadie Young, Alice Pisano and Neil and Hugh Durning. She is also survived by many loving nieces and nephews and their families.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to The Xaverian Missionaries c/o the funeral home. Online condolence may be left at www.armitagewiggins.com.

Robert Dignazio
Robert Dignazio, 52, suddenly on Dec. 9.
Born in Newark, Robert lived his life in East Newark and Harrison.  He was employed by JP Morgan as a senior system analyst.  Robert was a 1977 graduate of Harrison High School and attended William Paterson University.
Robert is survived by his loving wife of 30 years, Renee (Lavornia), his children, son Robert F. (fiancée Jessica), and daughter, Nicole.  He is the beloved son of Robert and Thelma Dignazio; cherished brother of Donna Marie (James T. Davies), JoAnn (James Botch), Marianne, and John (Cathryn).  He is further survived by brother-in-law Frank Lavornia (Robin) and sisters-in-law Pauline and Marie as well as many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, and his faithful companion, Fluffy.
Bobby will always be remembered for his unique joie de vivre to “work hard and play hard”.  His many masterful hobbies included gourmet cooking, the stock market, horse racing and the New York Rangers and Giants.
Arrangements were by the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison.  A funeral mass was held in St. Anthony’s Church, East Newark, followed by interment in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.
In lieu of flowers, donations to Camp Fatima of New Jersey would be greatly appreciated by the Dignazio Family in care of the funeral home, in memory of Robert.

Harry A. Sauer

Harry Sauer, 81, died on Friday, Dec. 9 in the St. Michael’s Medical Center, Newark.
Mr. Sauer was born in Newark, lived in Lyndhurst, and moved to Kearny 40 years ago.
He was employed as a quality control manager for Becton Dickinson in East Rutherford for 35 years before retiring in 1997.
He is survived by his wife Frances M. (Rispoli), daughter Eva Turner and his sister Janet Wright.
Private arrangements were under the direction of the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home.

Top 10 reasons to ‘not’ plan for retirement

By Randy Neumann

Although you probably read or hear about some “Top Ten” list every other day, take a moment to read this one.  This list, which is very different from most, is probably not the kind of list you’d expect someone to write.
Reason #10: “I’m too busy.”  I can’t tell you how often I hear this excuse.  So many people want to plan for a comfortable retirement, yet they don’t make the effort to put the time aside.  They think they’ll take care of it tomorrow or the day after that, but before they know it several years have gone by
and nothing has been accomplished.  The best advice I can give you is to stop procrastinating and start planning today.  Many people spend more time planning their annual vacation than they do planning their retirement without realizing that retirement may be the longest vacation they’ll ever take!
Reason #9: “It’s too soon.”  I don’t know how this happened, but many people have adopted the notion that you don’t have to start planning for your retirement until the day before.  This is totally incorrect.  Truth told, the sooner you start planning, the better chance you stand of having the kind of retirement you want.  It’s never too soon.  Many people start planning in their early twenties!
Reason #8: “It’s too late.”  If you’re already near or past your retirement eligibility date, you may think that however much you have accumulated is what you’re stuck with and it’s too late to do anything about it.  Think again.  If you’re unsure of what your options are, speak to a professional.  Even if you’ve already retired, it’s important to consider how you’re receiving your income and how long it will last.  It’s never too late to revise your income distribution strategy.
Reason #7: “I don’t need to.”  I’ve heard this excuse many times and find it baffling.  Many people think that because they’ve been diligent about contributing to a savings account, they’re all set.  While saving for retirement is good, you also need a plan for income distribution once you begin retirement.  Are you certain that what you’re saving will be enough?  Have you considered your distribution plan?  What about taxes?  What about inflation?  And, are you sure your money is in the right place?  There may be other, better options for you; therefore, it may prove worthwhile to look into them.
Reason #6: “I don’t have enough money to get started.”  This excuse seems marginal at first glance, but there is some truth behind it.  You need to have money to save or invest.  However, unless your bills are exactly equal to or greater than your net income, you do have enough to get started.  Starting small is better than not starting at all, and if you plan well, you’ll eventually accumulate enough to work with.
Reason #5: “My finances are a mess.”  This is all the more reason to seek out an advisor who can help you sort through and understand your assets.  Perhaps you have a 401(k) from a former employer that has not been rolled over, a couple of savings accounts, a trust from a deceased relative, some stocks that your parents bought in your name when you were younger, etc. Although a situation like this can be confusing, leaving it as it is won’t improve your situation.
Reason #4: “The Government will take care of me.”  The bottom line is this: There’s a chance Social Security may not be available when you retire, and even presuming that it is, it probably will not be enough to provide your ideal retirement income.  If you are planning to retire on Social Security alone, I would advise you to create a back-up plan at the very least.
Reason #3: “Between my savings and my 401(k), I’ll be fine.”  Saving for retirement without an income distribution plan can be a mistake.  How will you use that money once you begin taking distributions?  While you may think that you’ll have everything you’re going to need to live comfortably, have you considered inflation?  Taxes?  Long-term care expense?  And furthermore, some people are living past 90.  Will your assets last that long?  What will happen if you outlive your income?  It’s a good idea to look ahead and plan lifelong income.
Reason #2: “I don’t want to think about it.”  Many people procrastinate simply because they find the thought of discussing financial matters (or growing old) to be troubling.  I can certainly understand that.  But consider this: If you bite the bullet now and put a firm plan in motion, you may not have to think about it again for quite some time.
Reason #1: “I don’t know how.”  If you knew everything there was to know about retirement planning, you’d probably be a financial advisor yourself.  While it is possible to do everything on your own, that generally involves a great deal of research and a huge time commitment.  If you’re putting off retirement planning because you don’t know how, consider speaking to a professional who does.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for the individual.  Randy Neumann, CFP® is a registered representative with and securities and insurance offered through LPL Financial.  Member FINRA/SIPC.  He can be reached at 12 Route 17N, Suite 115, Paramus, 201-291-9000.

Lyndhurst Residents asked to vote on public referendum

By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent


The Committee for Better Facilities (CBF), a group of parents and educators advocating for an upgrade in the township’s public schools infrastructure, figures it’s got all the right answers to why it should be done.

But one big question still hasn’t been answered: Will Lyndhurst voters agree?

A simple majority will decide when residents are asked to vote “yes” or “no” on a public referendum Dec. 13 on whether to permit the Board of Education to spend $28,847,091 on a wholesale district rehab plan and to sell Lincoln School, which dates from 1886.

Educators say the plan affords the best chance – short of building a new middle school – of fostering a desperately needed improved learning environment for all the students in the district which includes six elementary schools and a high school.

A worksheet put out by the CBF states that the cost of the improvements – minus $1.5 million in state grant local reimbursements and at least $3 million projected from the sale of Lincoln School – should net the owner of an “average” home assessed at $414,000 an annual tax increase of $199 for as long as it takes to pay off the debt. A 15-year bond is projected.

Assuming the referendum passes, that tax increase wouldn’t take effect until September 2014, when all the work is expected to be completed, said Schools Supt. Tracey Marinelli.

The CBF, in cooperation with Marinelli, is going all out to heighten awareness among members of the school community by hosting a series of tours and question-and-answer sessions at schools throughout the district.

At one such workshop held Nov. 29 at Lincoln School, Marinelli made her case to a group of about 15 supportive attendees (A previous function organized by the PTA drew more than 100).

Marinelli said the concept behind the planned improvements is to make education more efficient through centralization. To that end, Franklin School and Jefferson Annex would house all kindergarten students; Columbus and Washington Schools would take grades 1 to 4; and Roosevelt and Jefferson Schools would handle grades 5 to 8.

“We’d split the district in half, using Fern Ave. as the dividing line,” Marinelli said. Generally speaking, elementary-level children living south of Fern would start at Franklin then move to Washington and complete at Roosevelt, while youngsters living north of Fern would go from Jefferson Annex to Columbus to Jefferson Elementary, she explained. Hardship applications for exceptions to the rule would be considered, she said.

With that scenario as a given, the following improvements, as funded by the referendum, would be undertaken:

Throughout the district, $3.8 million in state grants would fund a variety of infrastructure renovations, including new or upgraded boilers, roofs, windows, ventilation and electrical systems and centrally-controlled heating in classrooms.

Every elementary school would get an elevator, computer lab, media center, music room, a combination art/world languages room and the ability to house three or more sections of special needs students.

Columbus and Roosevelt would each get a combination gym/lunchroom (Roosevelt’s gym would include space for a locker room and stage because its students are older).

Jefferson and Roosevelt would each be equipped with three science labs.

Having self-contained classrooms in each school would end the practice of music, art, Spanish and physical education teachers having to travel to different schools and it would also mean students wouldn’t have to “steal” time from science or math class, for example, to take instrumental music class, Marinelli said.

Also: Lyndhurst High School would get a renovated auditorium, cafeteria and air-conditioning.

Whether or not the referendum passes, Marinelli said that redistricting will go forward in an effort to remediate unbalanced enrollment in schools.

If the referendum fails, Lyndhurst schools will lose the $3.8 million in state grant funding earmarked for the infrastructure improvements throughout the district. And the district will be unable to sell Lincoln School.

In a plea to voters, the CBF states: “All kindergarten classes are currently at maximum capacity…. Children are currently learning in space that was designed for locker rooms, storage closets and offices. Bathrooms are decrepit, auditoriums are non-existent and gyms double as cafeterias. In some classes, students are forced to have primary instruction, lunch, art, music and Spanish in the same physical location. None of our schools provide our children immediate and unlimited access to technology either in the form of a computer lab or just classroom computers. It’s time for a change!”

Nutley celebrates annual holiday tradition

Photos By Jeff Bahr

By Jeff Bahr

On Sunday December 4, Nutley’s biggest holiday extravaganza – the annual Tree and Menorah Lighting –went off without a hitch.
An enormous number of people ranging in age from very young to “don’t you dare
ask!” turned out for the joyous event at the Walker Middle School on Franklin Ave. There, the holiday revelers enjoyed unseasonably mild temperatures which allowed them to frolic rather than shiver near the soon-to-be-lit tree.
The festivities began promptly at 5:00 p.m. with indoor recitals by the Elementary
School Choir, The Walker Middle School Madrigal Singers, and the High School Choralettes. Then, the Walker Middle School Jazz Band took over and got the joint a jumpin’ with a swinging rendition of “Jingle Bells.” Finally, the Nutley High School Brass Ensemble tempered the mood a bit with a more subdued but equally enjoyable version of “Silent Night.”
A bake sale with proceeds to benefit the Friends of Nutley Singers and the Nutley
Music Boosters was held in the school’s cafeteria, and for those short of coin, free
coffee and donuts were also available. Across the way, Old Saint Nick sat majestically
on his throne awaiting visits from dozens of happy children, as one extraordinarily
patient photographer did his level best to make them all smile for the birdie.
But the fun wasn’t limited to the school’s interior. Outside, two horse-drawn Christmas carriages made continuous loops around the football stadium, with a dozen or so happy travelers inside of each wagon.
This looked to be the event’s most popular free attraction given the fact that at least 300 individuals (yes, I counted) stood in line alongside Franklin Ave. awaiting their turn. A multi-car, mini-train also took people for rides.
A petting zoo, featuring sheep, goats, a bunny rabbit, even a llama, was situated
beside a roped-off area where children were treated to pony rides. Just to its side volunteers roasted chestnuts on open fires (what else?) and distributed them free of charge, while street vendors plied their trade selling fun, if fattening, staples like soft pretzels and popcorn.
As the scheduled 7 p.m. switch-flipping moment approached, the audience was treated to a final performance by the Brass Ensemble, who had now moved outdoors.

Then it was 10, 9, 8 … all the way down to the big moment. As the tree and Menorah lights jumped to life, the appreciative crowd let loose with thunderous applause and another successful Christmas ceremony was in the books.

S. Kearny industrial site primed for redevelopment


Photos courtesy of Hudson County Improvement Authority/ Different views of the old Kopper’s Seaboard Coke site in south Kearny which the Hudson County Improvement Authority is trying to market.


By Ron Leir

A long-neglected industrial parcel in South Kearny is getting some renewed attention.
The former Koppers Seaboard Coke property at Fish House Rd., which ended operations in 1979, is again being targeted for redevelopment by the Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA), which is reviewing a number of proposals for the site.
Acting on behalf of Hudson County, the HCIA acquired the 130-acre property, bounded to the north and east by the Hackensack River and by a drainage ditch to the west, in the 1980’s with the intention of building an incinerator there to handle municipal wastes. The county invested more than $60 million in cleaning and prepping the site, but was stymied when the state frowned on burning trash.
Now the county, stuck with a big debt, is looking for ways of turning the land into a profit-making venture. New Jersey Transit was considering purchasing the land to build a rail storage yard or tunnel for the Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) – a proposed commuter rail link to Manhattan to run under the Hudson River – but that plan died when Gov. Chris Christie killed New Jersey’s participation in the ARC
project a year ago.
Earlier this year, acting on a directive from the county Board of Freeholders the HCIA solicited proposals for use of the property.

Photo courtesy of Hudson County Improvement Authority/ Another perspective of the 130-acre Kopper’s site.



HCIA Executive Director Norman Guerra said that three companies came up with plans for refrigerated warehouse distribution centers. They are: Morris Company of Rutherford, Rockefeller Group of Mount Olive, and Silverman Development of Jersey City.
Sundurance LLC of Edison and Garden State Solar Farms of Linden offered to develop
solar farms.
Clean Earth of Hatboro, Pa., proposed a soil processing facility.
And four firms – WSI Management of Plant City, Fla.; Waste Management of Houston, Texas; Port Echo Holdings of Hammonton; and NRG Energy of Princeton – pitched “resource recovery-related” projects.
However, Guerra said that the latter four proposals are being separated from the others for now for further exploration of “resource recovery technologies that are environmentally sound” that the HCIA may look to tap in the future.
Guerra said there’s a possibility that the authority might look to set aside 20 acres
of the Koppers tract to be dedicated to some type of resource recovery operation. “It
could be an anchor to provide energy to other users on the site,’’ he said.
Guerra said that the state has indicated it “will work with us” on that process.
But before any of that can happen, Guerra said the HCIA would have to issue Requests
for Qualifications from potential applicants, followed by Requests for Proposals, all of
which would be reviewed by county officials.
One thing, at any rate, is clear. “We are not looking for any form of incineration such
as waste to energy plans,” Guerra said.
Hudson County currently sends its municipal garbage and Type 10 commercial wastes to a privately-operated facility in Essex County where it is processed and baled and shipped by rail to West Virginia for disposal.
The county pays $70.50 per ton for the service. The county pays about $26 million for
the processing and disposal of 370 tons of trash annually.

Gear still shaky but out on the streets

Photo by Ron Leir/ Det. Gary Souss checks out a new computer installed in one of seven new Belleville Police patrol cars.

 By Ron Leir

BELLEVILLE – At last, they’re on the road.
The township’s seven new police patrol cars are rolling but their path from the shop to the police garage to the asphalt hit a few detours on the way.
It’s not so much the vehicles themselves but the equipment they’re carrying.
Police Chief Joseph P. Rotonda said the seven Crown Victorias – acquired under
a 3-year lease for $77,441 per year as replacements for 2008 models, some with more than 100,000 miles logged – were put into service the week of Nov. 20.
But, Rotonda noted, “we’re still having some issues with some of the new digital cameras and computers – the electric system.” Township IT personnel are checking with Verizon and other companies involved in the instrumentation trying to remedy the problem, he said.
“It’s like any new equipment,” the chief said. “You’ve got to work out the kinks.”
Those “kinks” began showing up when vendors began outfitting the new cars with
the telecommunications gear, according to Police Capt. Victor Mesce of the department’s Special Services unit and Det. Gary Souss of the Administration and
Planning unit.
The township authorized purchase of the vehicles in 2010 and followed up with a bond
ordinance in June 2011 authorizing spending $163,000 for the acquisition and installation of cameras, computers and radios for the Police Department and labor, $41,000 for the acquisition and installation of computer software upgrades and other
security cameras, $12,000 for the acquisition and installation of two computer servers for the Police Department and $84,000 for sport utility vehicles for the department.
After the bond passed and the equipment was ordered, police had to wait three months just to get the new radios from Motorola because the vendor had to tailor them to the department’s specifications, Det. Souss said.
Then, once the vendors began to install the electronic gear in the new cars, the electrical problems began, he said. L-3 Mobile Vision hooked up the computers and cameras to the cars’ center consoles and placed the computer software trays in the cars’ trunks while Royal Communications, a Motorola distributor, installed the radios.
Somewhere in the mix, batteries were shorted out, triggering the disruption, Sous said.
The new cameras are designed to activate automatically if the car is exceeding a certain speed and/or if the officers inside pull out a rifle or shotgun from the car’s gunrack. The video of an incident tracked by the camera can end up being valuable evidence for a future court case, Capt. Mesce noted.
Because of the way the new cars were built, it was decided to relocate the police radio
speaker because, otherwise, when an officer entered the car, he might inadvertently kick and/or dislodge it from the more cramped floorboard, Mesce and Souss explained.
Another delay came about, they said, when it was discovered that the new cars were
also too narrow to accommodate the wire mesh “cages” designed to confine prisoners
in the rear seats so the department couldn’t simply transfer the cages from the old cars to the new. So new cages had to be acquired.
And, of course, the department had to “detail” the cars, painting on official police lettering and striping on the vehicles’ exteriors, all of which took time.
The department decided to add a new touch on the new cars: the phone number for the public to call for police assistance. It is 973-450-3333.
Putting out that additional information was considered a key reminder for the public “to keep (the emergency) 911 open for real emergencies. It could save someone’s life by not tieing up the 911 operator,” Capt. Mesce said.
When all the moving parts were more or less accounted for, the department then rotated its members for training in the new cars and that took about two weeks to accomplish.
Now the department is hoping it can squeeze at least three years of useful activity from the new vehicles – the normal life expectancy for a patrol car – which, Mesce notes, is a tough road to go down since every police vehicle is operating 24/7 with virtually no “down” time and is operated, typically, by seven or eight different drivers, each with different driving habits.

Old Hartz site giving way to apartments

Photos by Beckerman Public Relations/ Jeff Milanaik, head of Heller Industrial Parks, (l.) and Harrison Mayor Ray Mc- Donough pose at ceremony for start of demolition of old Hartz property as wrecking ball strikes



By Ron Leir

HARRISON – After years of planning, land acquisition and a stalled economy, things
are beginning to break on the waterfront redevelopment front for this West Hudson community.
On Nov. 17 Heller Urban Renewal, an arm of Heller Industrial Parks, began knocking
down the old Hartz Mountain complex along the east side of Frank Rodgers Blvd. South to clear the way for 600 new residential units to rise on the 10.5-acre site along the Passaic River, just a short walk to the Harrison PATH.
“It’s a new venture for us,” said Jeffrey J. Milanaik, president of Heller Industrial
Parks, an Edison-based company whose previous accomplishments are in nonresidential enterprises.
Milanaik says the company – whose roots are in Harrison – owns 16 million square feet of distribution centers spread over New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Texas.
Now it will be expanding its portfolio with the Harrison mixed-use project, featuring
six buildings of varying size, starting at five stories and ranging up to eight or nine;
plus 30,000 square feet of retail space.
“We’ll be doing the residential component in six phases at the rate of one a year, with
the first phase to be 95 units,” Milanaik said.
The apartments will be a mix of one- and two-bedrooms, he said, and athletic workout areas will be scattered around the complex, along with meeting rooms.

Parking is to be provided on site at the rate of a bit more than one space per living unit, he said.
At total build-out, the project is expected to be valued at $100 million, according to
Demolition and environmental cleanup of the Hartz complex – nine buildings comprising 750,000 square feet – will be taking place in earnest in the first quarter of
2012, continuing through the fourth quarter of 2012.

Photo by Ron Leir/ Mayor Ray McDonough displays rendering of Riverbend project proposed by Russo Development, in foreground, with Red Bull Arena shown in background.

New construction of apartments and retail space – which figures to include a restaurant and small shops – is expected to begin in 2013. The project should generate an estimated 100 construction jobs, Milanaik said.
Heller Urban Renewal will serve as general contractor and NK Architects of Morristown, which is working on another transit-oriented redevelopment project in Bloomfield, will design the Harrison project, to be known as Harrison Station.
Heller is slated to outline its plans to the Harrison Redevelopment Agency on Dec.
12, according to Mayor Ray McDonough.
Just across the way, on the west side of Frank Rodgers Blvd., Harrison Commons, the
newly-built 275-unit luxury rental apartment complex where developer Richard Miller says 120 units have been rented so far, got an additional shot in the arm.
Miller said that the state Economic Development Authority has awarded a $7.4 million Economic Redevelopment and Growth grant toward the construction of a 136-room hotel on property between Harrison Commons and the Harrison Parking Center garage.
Construction of the new hotel, which will be run by Starwood-Element, should start
by June or July, Miller said.
As provided by an ordinance adopted by the Harrison governing body on Sept. 6, the town will be collecting an annual service charge from the hotel at the rate of $1,250 per room. Based on 136 rooms, that would translate to $169,000 a year.
And then there is Russo Development, of Carlstadt, which has purchased a parcel known as “Block C,” between the proposed Riverbend Dr. and Crucible Dr. and between Frank Rodgers Blvd. and Fifth St., from the Advance Co.
In October, Russo was granted approval by the Harrison Planning Board to build 266 apartments and 32,316 square feet of retail space on Block C.
Mayor McDonough said Russo’s plans call for mostly one and two-bedroom plus some studios and two-bedroom townhomes.
“He’s expected to break ground in six months,” McDonough said.