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NA Health Department announces seminar

The North Arlington Health Department, in conjunction with the Clara Maass Medical Center, will hold a free seminar “Beat the Urge – Coping with Urinary Issues” on Wednesday, March 14, at the Senior Center, 10 Beaver Ave., entrance to the rear of Health Department building, beginning with a free dinner at 6 p.m.

Immediately following dinner, the program will feature Annette Cozzarelli, M.D., medical director of the Health and Wellness Center at CMMC, and her panel of experts speaking on the topics of Cystitis, UTI’s and Incontinence procedures and the treatments available.

Please call the North Arlington Health Department at 201-955-5695 for registration as soon as possible to assure seating.  Residents from surrounding communities are welcomed to attend.

4-ALARMER IN KEARNY

 

By Jeff Bahr

A house fire that escalated to four alarms broke out on Feb. 27 at 2:16 p.m. at 187 Brighton Ave., off Liberty Ave.

Kearny Fire Chief Steven Dyl said that firefighters arriving at the scene saw that “heavy smoke was coming out of the building” and dug in for a protracted battle.

“All of the building’s occupants were safely evacuated,” said Dyl, although one civilian and one firefighter were treated for minor injuries.

It is not yet known precisely what caused the fire or where it started.

The plume – and odor – of dense smoke emanating from the burning wood frame house carried well across the town and could be seen and/ or detected from at least a mile away. Emergency units from East Newark, Harrison and North Arlington joined the Kearny Fire Dept. to help battle the blaze, which had yet to be brought fully under control more than an hour after it was first reported.

A dangerous “flashover” (a near simultaneous ignition of combustible material) on the second floor of the home created an even more hazardous condition for firefighters, and homes located less than 10 feet away on either side of the house only added to the dilemma.

“The fire was extremely dangerous to other homes,” said Chief Dyl. “But we were able to stop most damage (to the homes),” he concluded.

A full investigation of the fire’s origins and path are currently underway.

Cameras will ‘capture’ bad guys

By Ron Leir

KEARNY – Two major efforts are under way to enhance public safety for town residents.

One comes in the form of expanded “spy in the sky” technology; the other involves additional firefighting personnel.

Mayor Alberto Santos and the Town Council voted Feb. 21 to hire the Hackensack firm of EarthCam to install 11 closed-circuit surveillance tilt & zoom cameras on existing utility poles at locations to be designated by the town administrator in consultation with the Police Department, which will, ultimately, monitor the images, displayed in real time.

Of the 11 units, five will function as specialized “LPR” (License Plate Recognition) cameras, meaning that they will, as the name suggests, have the design capability of capturing a vehicle’s plate number, along with its make and model, according to EarthCam sales manager Todd Michaels, who briefed the governing body at its Tuesday night session.

Police can match the data collected by the LPR unit against information secured from national, state and local law enforcement computer data banks, Michaels said.

Leaving aside the LPR units, the six new cameras will double the existing number of street units previously installed by the town, according to Santos.

“If the LPRs are successful,” the mayor said, “we will consider acquiring more of them.”

Santos said the LPR cameras could help police identify vehicles that have been reported stolen or those that are unregistered, for example, but they won’t be used to nail drivers who go through red lights – a procedure that Bloomfield plans to utilize under terms of a contract with a private camera supplier it’s now in the process of negotiating.

For supplying the cameras and software, connecting them to the police wireless network and mounting the units on the poles, EarthCam will receive $75,872 under a state approved contract.

Officials estimated it would cost about $40 a month for Verizon phone line service for the wireless camera computer system.

Michaels figured it would take three weeks to assemble the camera system and another week to actually install the 11 units, although Town Administrator Michael Martello noted that actual implementation would depend on how quickly town technicians could upgrade the master computer’s SAN (Storage Area Network) to accommodate the additional data.

Santos and Martello said that two of the cameras would likely be situated at two municipal playgrounds that aren’t currently being electronically “watched.” Those are the Manor play area on Bennett St. between Hamilton and Jefferson Aves. and the Tappan St. play facility, they said.

As for the rest, Santos said the primary focus would be on “key entry points to the town.”

Among the intersections on the list for consideration are: Belleville Turnpike and Schuyler Ave.; Belleville Turnpike and Kearny Ave.; Passaic Ave. and Belleville Turnpike; Schuyler and Bergen Aves.; Passaic and Johnston Aves.; Johnston and Kearny Aves.; and Davis Ave. and Dukes St. near West Hudson Park.

Meanwhile, on the second safety front, the governing body voted to authorize Fire Chief Steve Dyl to apply for a federal Safe & Adequate Emergency Response grant for $482,580 to hire four new firefighters.

No local match by the town is required under the grant rules, he said. Dyl said that if the town got the money, it would fund the salaries, benefits and pension contributions of the four firefighters for up to two years so long as the Fire Department maintained its T.O. (Table of Organization) – staffing strength – at the level applicable to the time it got the grant.

If the town fails to live up to that condition, it could forfeit the funding, Dyl said.

The new additions to the Fire Department would be selected from a state Civil Service firefighter appointment list that just came out last week, Dyl said. Names of the top four candidates on that list couldn’t be readily learned at press time.

In other business, the mayor and council:

Agreed to apply for $793,800 in state Green Acres funding to turf the Little League East field and build an 8-foot-wide “all-season surface” track/fitness trail at the Gunnel Oval sports complex.

Authorized advertising for bid proposals for billboard advertising at three town-owned meadows locations – one off the Turnpike, one off Route 7 and one off Rt. 280 – as a potential source of revenue to the town.

Announced that property owners would have the option of paying their taxes online by the next local tax cycle under an agreement with Official Payments, a Georgia firm. Payers will be charged a 2.5% fee on credit card payments, $1.95 on bank transfers and $3.95 on debit card payments, according to Town Administrator Michael Martello. There will be no cost to the town for the service, he said.

Approved the installation of a four-way traffic stop at the intersection of Ivy and King Sts. and appointed Tatiana Reis as a permanent crossing guard at the Woodland and Highland Aves. post at $15.50 an hour. Reis has the highest seniority among the town’s reserve crossing guards, Santos said.

Deferred to March 13 consideration of an amended ordinance restructuring towing rates in town after hearing comments by local towers. Agreed to give Vineland Construction a one-year extension to remove truck trailers from property on Harrison Ave. near the Walmart.

Improved Rt. 280 access should relieve local tie-ups

Graphic courtesy Jacobs Engineering/ Map shows suggested western, central and eastern locations for new Rt. 280 interchange in Harrison.

By Ron Leir

HARRISON –

Residents steamed about gridlock from the throngs of out-of-town cars that clog the town on nights when Red Bull Arena is hosting a soccer match: Take a deep breath and count to 3 … or maybe 5.

Three or five years, that is.

It may be that long you’ll have to wait before seeing some relief from those massive traffic tie-ups. But at least that looming relief is no pie in the sky prospect. Uncle Sam has actually put some cash behind that promise.

The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has allocated $2.5 million for a preliminary study of a possible new “full access” Rt. 280 Harrison interchange, meaning that drivers would be able to access the state highway – east or west – from the same road.

Engineers, planners and traffic professionals engaged in the study are hoping that the new infrastructure – which would replace and consolidate the existing highway’s east and west approach ramps – would relieve the Harrison Ave. gridlock.

And, according to John Pavlovich, a consulting engineer on the study project, the new interchange should also eliminate the sideswipes and rear-end collisions confounding motorists traveling eastbound on Rt. 280 coming off the Stickel Bridge into Harrison or drivers negotiating westbound entry ramps onto 280 from Bergen and Second Sts. heading for Rt. 21 or Broad St. in Newark.

If the project is declared ready to proceed and if it gets construction dollars funded, experts figure it will be 2015 – or 2017 – before work even begins.

The public gets an opportunity to see and hear more about the project on Thursday, March 1, from 6 to 9 p.m., in the second floor council chambers at Harrison Town Hall, 318 Harrison Ave.

Planners have labeled the existing 280 access points as “an obstacle to current and future economic redevelopment initiatives.”

So the study is being conducted by the Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA) in cooperation with the Town of Harrison and state Department of Transportation to identify alternative locations to create a single interchange designed to improve safety and mobility for drivers and pedestrians on both the highway and local streets and to improve access to and through the Harrison waterfront redevelopment area along the Passaic River, with limited impact on the community.

“Harrison is alive and well,” declared the HCIA’s Tom Leane, study project manager. “It’s a town that people forgot about for 30 years after its longstanding industries disappeared but now there’s interest in it because of major development taking place. So the question becomes how do you get access in and out of all these great projects that are within PATH range of New York.”

Over the past seven months, planners have suggested three possible locations for the new interchange:

The Eastern Alternative, an approach from the Schuyler Ave. area.

The Western Alternative, a split approach with several ramps off Frank Rodgers Blvd., some as far west as Second St.

The Central Alternative, an approach from between Seventh and Eighth Sts. with a tie-in off Cape May St.

Planners say that while the Eastern route is “very unlikely to affect residential or commercial properties,” it does have several downsides: It would require routing of traffic through or over rail maintenance facilities, would compel traffic movements farther along residential streets to reach 280 from areas north of the highway, wouldn’t improve 280 linkage to Harrison destinations and would result in Newark traffic traveling through more local streets south of 280.

An analysis of the Western option suggests that it would potentially impact only one rail facility but it may require the taking of homes to create a right of way and would cause traffic movements through longer distances on local streets to reach 280 from waterfront redevelopment locations.

The Central route could affect rail lines operated by Amtrak, PATH, NJ Transit, Conrail and historic rail landmarks, could impact some industries along the highway and may require business property acquisition but would provide access to the center of the redevelopment area, more direct access for traffic from Newark to 280 and avoids residential property acquisition.

Additionally, as part of the Central alternative, the town has encouraged planners to consider installing a service road to handle truck traffic between Seventh and Eighth Sts. to Supor Blvd., bypassing Harrison Ave. It could be oneway or two-ways, depending on how much land becomes available for the road.

Some key data is still missing from the study. Pavlovich, of Jacobs Engineering Group, said the study team has asked Harrison to furnish traffic flow projections from ongoing residential, retail and commercial activities on five parcels in the waterfront redevelopment area.

Still, even at this early stage in the proceedings, Harrison Mayor Raymond Mc- Donough says he prefers the Central route because it projects no need for acquiring residential properties “so I won’t have a problem disrupting homeowners.”

McDonough said he’s expecting the Advance Co. to seek Planning Board approval March 29 to develop Parcels E and F along Rodgers Blvd. in the redevelopment zone. Plans call for construction of a fi vestory residential building, each with 296 apartments, on each parcel, with on-site parking for about 300 cars on each parcel.

At the same time, the developer of the River Park apartment complex on First St. is expected to ask the Planning Board to permit him to build an additional 140 apartments on the site.

 

Charity fund helps the needy

 

Photos Courtesy of WBMA TV/ Mayor Raymond McCarthy

 

By Ron Leir

BLOOMFIELD –

It was sort of like a reenactment of that old TV show from the ‘50s, “The Millionaire.”

Except that the checks presented by Mayor Raymond McCarthy at the Bloomfield Municipal Building weren’t for a million bucks and everybody knew their benefactor.

But that didn’t matter: It was all for a good cause.

Last Thursday – nearly five months after McCarthy hosted his first annual Charity Gala at Nanina’s in the Park, Belleville – the mayor announced that of the approximately $35,000 raised at the affair, he was dispersing $20,500 to community organizations and holding the balance as a contingency fund.

“This is a big day for us,” McCarthy said, crediting all donors “who give back to the community for the family of Bloomfield.” And, in turn, by distributing the cash to agencies and organizations that help people in need, “We bring back normalcy to people.”

The biggest single beneficiary of the Gala largesse was the United Way of Bloomfield which received $12,500. “It’s been an integral part of this community for 50 years,” the mayor said, providing assistance to desperate folks to help pay for rent, mortgages and food, for example.

United Way Executive Director Ida Pafundi, who accepted the check, said the aid will be a shot in the arm for the agency’s several thousand clients served by 13 member organizations and, in particular, money spent for food. “There are an awful lot of people starving here in Bloomfield,” she said.

Pafundi thanked ShopRite for making available discounts for the needy.

McCarthy presented checks for $2,500 each to these groups:

Bloomfield Municipal Alliance, which helps troubled youths and organizes Christmas toy drives. They were represented at Thursday’s event by director Pat Marchese and police liaison Lt. James Behre.

Neighbor-to-Neighbor Network, a nonprofit agency that aids needy elderly with rent and utility payments, food and companionship, helps poor families by giving children books, backpacks and clothing and by helping parents with affordable day care. The group also provides shelter for animals. Karen Lore and Paul Peikis accepted the check for the group.

 

Photos Courtesy of WBMA TV/ Mayor McCarthy presents check to Director of Bloomfield Municipal Alliance, Pat Marchese, and Police Lt. James Behre, police liaison to the Alliance.

Bethel Church of Praise & Love, on Lawrence St., represented by Bishop Charles Harris and Elder Lewanda provides shelter for animals. Karen Lore and Paul Peikis accepted the check for the group. Bethel Church of Praise & Love, on Lawrence St., represented by Bishop Charles Harris and Elder Lewanda Pleasant, who runs the church’s food bank. They said their emergency food pantry services 22,000 people annually.

The other recipient of the mayor’s Gala proceeds was the Bloomfield Recreation Department, guided by Michael Sceurman. It was allocated $500.

McCarthy said the money will be used to subsidize the registration fees for kids whose families just can’t afford the price of admission to a department-sponsored play program.

“We have an enormous amount of single parents working two jobs a day,” the mayor said.

To accommodate them, the township offers those parents the option of “working the concessions” or putting in time in other ways to help support the recreation program and, in return, their kids are permitted to play, McCarthy said.

However, he added, taking time away from a job can be a luxury that lots of parents find a hardship.

So, to accommodate those hard-luck parents, Sceurman will be given the latitude of stretching the $500 gift to offset the cost of having those parents’ kids participate in a recreation activity instead of sitting, frustrated, on the sidelines, McCarthy said.

Inspiration for organizing the Gala came 11 years ago, right after his first election as mayor, McCarthy said.

“I was mayor maybe 15 minutes and I was beeped there was a fire on Thomas St.,” McCarthy said. Police and firefighters carried out the bodies of two young teens who perished in the smoke and flames and their mother couldn’t pay for their burial, he said.

“I made six phone calls and that got me back over $7,000 to bury those children,” McCarthy recalled. “But then, our police and fire (personnel) got our school kids to throw in nickels and dimes and (from that appeal), $65,000 was raised.”

After seeing the overwhelming generosity of the community, McCarthy said, “Janet (the mayor’s wife) and I decided, ‘We’ve got to have a fund to help people in this town.’ ’’

So, eventually, a board of trustees was formed and community members Marva Hanks, Warren Valentovich, Cathy Loretto, Rosemary Brown, Samantha DePalma and Janet McCarthy volunteered to serve on it.

”And we were successful,” McCarthy said.

The township’s business community also contributed and the mayor credited Investors Bank, PNC Bank, Provident Bank, Excel Credit, Bloomfield BMW and Bloomfield Center Urban Renewal for sharing their resources, along with bond counsel McManimon & Scotland, who set up the group as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, eligible to accept charitable donations.

Already, preparations are under way to repeat the noble experiment.

“The next Mayor’s Gala Ball will be held Oct. 3 at The Manor in West Orange,” McCarthy told the small crowd assembled to celebrate the mission’s culmination last Thursday.

‘Flapjack Fundraiser’ coming to Kearny Applebee’s

By Jeff Bahr

Waves of Health, a charitable organization devoted to helping those in medical need, will be holding a “Flapjack Fundraiser” breakfast on April 1, from 8 to 10 a.m. at the Kearny Applebee’s restaurant, 175 Passaic Ave, spokesman Dan Sheps said. Proceeds will go toward the purchase of medical and health supplies.

For $10, attendees will receive pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs and a beverage. “Enjoy a short stack for a tall cause” reads the advertisement, and a tall cause it is, according to Sheps, who says the idea to help the poor in such a fashion originated with an idea originally put forth by Dr. Clayton Everline, the organization’s founder.

“In 2007, Dr. Everline was in his last year of residency in internal medicine at St. Michael’s Medical Center in Newark when he began to think about bringing medical care to underserved areas,” reads the official bio on the organization’s website. Everline had previously studied in the Caribbean and had been troubled by “the poor medical care (found) in many communities.”

After consulting Monsignor Manuel Cruz, the director of pastoral care at the hospital who himself had an abundance of experience working with the poor, Everline contacted The Sisters of the Heart of Jesus – a clinic based in the rural town of Sabana Grande de Boya in the Dominican Republic – to ask if they needed help. Delighted by his generous offer, the Sisters invited Everline to join them in their work at the clinic.

Realizing that a team of physicians could accomplish more than any single individual could ever hope to, Everline then shared his idea with colleagues at St. Michael’s in hopes that other professionals would join him on his first mission to the Caribbean nation. The gambit worked.

Amongst the first to volunteer was Dr. Humberto Jimenez, a clinical pharmacist whose family hails from the Dominican Republic. The roster would eventually include Dr. Suraj Sagger, an infectious disease specialist who was drawn to the tropical location; medical resident, Dr. Kate Hanify, a St. Michael’s Humanitarian of the Year award winner, and attending physician Dr. Chris Boni.

The newly formed Waves of Health team kicked off its inaugural mission on March 1, 2007, at the Dominican clinic. Armed with their collective expertise and 17 duffel bags chock-full of medications, the team treated hundreds of patients during their two-week stay. Since that time, bi-yearly visits to the Dominican Republic have put countless other needy citizens on the path to health.

While the doctors and other professionals provide their services free-ofcharge, the medical equipment doesn’t come cheap, according to Sheps, and the list of services that the organization provides is evergrowing. This necessitates an even larger infusion of cash for medical and health supplies. Events like the Flapjack Fundraiser help mightily on this front.

In addition to primary care, Waves of Health has now added services such as plastic surgery, OB/ GYN and obstetric surgery, general surgery, anesthesiology, pediatrics, pre-natal care, infectious and tropical disease care, pulmonary and gastroenterological specialties, dermatology, epidemiology, and community studies. They also provide counseling and education for chronic illnesses and help patients learn how to take control of their own health.

Tickets for the Flapjack Fundraiser may be purchased at the door at Applebee’s, at Kearny High School, or at the Waves of Health office at Hudson Internal Medicine, located on the bottom floor of the old West Hudson Hospital, 206 Bergen Ave, Kearny.

‘Civic’-minded out-of-towner charged with car thefts

Photo courtesy Hudson County Sheriff’s Office/ Carlos Lopez

Drivers who park their Honda Civics in Harrison can rest a little easier now that police say they’ve applied the brakes to the habits of at least one suspected car thief.

Carlos Lopez, 38, of Newark, was arrested Feb. 21 at Second St. and Railroad Ave. in connection with the disappearance of at least four Honda Civics over a period of some three weeks.

Three of those missing Civics were later found on the same block (Parker St.) where Lopez lives, according to police.

At the time of his apprehension by Officer Joe Carr, Lopez was checking out cars in a private parking lot. Under the suspect’s jacket, police said they found a small tire iron which, police surmise, Lopez used to break the windows of several vehicles in Harrison that were burglarized over the past few weeks.

Lopez was also recognized by Det. Sgt. Ed Markowski as the same man Markowski observed driving a stolen Honda Civic in town on Jan. 25. Because police hadn’t yet been informed that the vehicle had been reported stolen, Markowski had no reason to stop the driver at the time he saw the vehicle.

Lopez was charged with possession of burglary tools (the tire iron) and receiving stolen property (the Civic stolen Jan. 25).

Police additionally charged Lopez with the theft of the Civics that police recovered from Newark: a 2000 Civic reported stolen Dec. 31 and recovered Jan. 5; another 2000 Civic stolen Feb. 7 and recovered Feb. 15; and a 1999 Civic stolen Feb. 17 and recovered Feb. 21.

Police believe that Lopez simply took the cars for joyrides rather than with any intent to strip them and sell the parts.

Lopez could be in deeper trouble since, at the time of his arrest, he was on parole from having served time in prison for burglary offenses. State Dept. of Corrections records show that Lopez was convicted in February 2010, sentenced in May 2010 and released Nov. 10, 2011.

Lopez is now in Hudson County Jail, Kearny, awaiting court action on his most recent criminal charges.

Meanwhile, Honda Civics continue to be targeted by burglars.

On Feb. 20, a Civic parked on Sussex St. under Rt. 280 was broken into and a GPS unit taken and a 1999 Civic parked in the municipal lot on Essex St. was forcibly entered and its ignition was damaged in an apparent effort by the burglar to steal the vehicle, police said.

And on Feb. 17, police said someone broke into a 2004 Civic while it was parked on Sussex St. beneath Rt. 280 and took a portable GPS unit and assorted Chinese currency.

In other incidents logged by Harrison Police over the past week:

Feb. 21

Police arrested Alexander Harkes, 27, of Kearny, after he was reported shoplifting items from a Frank Rodgers Blvd. pharmacy. Harkes also was wanted on an outstanding warrant issued by the Hudson County Sheriff ’s Dept. He was turned over to the sheriff ’s office for incarceration.

Jose Dones, 37, of Hoboken, was arrested at Second and Essex Sts. on an outstanding Hoboken warrant and was turned over to Hoboken P.D. after failing to post $2,000 bail.

Saqib Perwaiz, 24, of Harrison, was arrested at Second and Warren Sts. on an outstanding North Arlington warrant. He was freed after posting $500 bail.

Feb. 20

A homeless man, identified by police as David Jackson, 49, who witnesses said was begging for money near Roosevelt Park, was arrested on an outstanding warrant from Newark. He was released by Newark P.D. shortly afterward. He’d been previously busted for disorderly conduct on Feb. 16 after police said he was yelling, tearing papers off a wall and smashing a bottle in Holy Cross Church. For those actions, he was issued a summons and released.

Feb. 18

Police stopped a vehicle operated by Charles Huntley, 35, of East Newark, after the driver allegedly made an improper turn onto Cleveland Ave. from Rt. 280. After learning that Huntley had outstanding traffic warrants from Newark, police arrested him on the warrants, ticketed him for the motor vehicle infraction and freed him after he posted $250 bail.

An intruder broke into a 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 while it was parked overnight on Passaic Ave. and removed the ignition in an apparent attempt to steal the vehicle.

Two vehicles parked in the 200 block of Sussex St. and four vehicles parked in the 200 block of Warren St. were broken into while parked overnight.

Feb. 17

Someone shoplifted about 16 cans of Red Bull energy drink from a Harrison Ave. gas station and then fled on a bicycle over the Bridge St. Bridge into Newark.

A 2004 Honda Accord was broken into while it was parked on Warren St. under Rt. 280. Police were uncertain whether anything had been stolen.

Feb. 16

An intruder forced open the door to a third-floor apartment on Central Ave. and, during an investigation of the burglary, police arrested Jonathan Perez, 20, a second-floor resident, for an outstanding Harrison warrant. Perez posted bail and was released.

– Ron Leir

A WORD WITH THE PUBLISHER: Don’t let image control you

publisher@theobserver.com

 

By Lisa Pezzolla

Summer seems to be approaching us faster, since we have had warm days and the pleasure of not dealing with the ice cold. Anticipating swimsuit season becomes a dreadful experience when we realize we’ve allowed the winter blues to get the better of us. We kick up our exercise routine, eat lots of salads and look in the mirror in horror as we pinch and suck in as we try to get rid of the unwanted inches.

Unfortunately, the covers of magazines and the catwalk show models at an unrealistic weight giving woman and young ladies an image that skinny is sexy. I was amazed to hear that this newest craze is evident among young boys, to the point of anorexia, ending in death. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, at least one million males in the United States are battling anorexia or bulimia. Since it is such a new phase, statistics may not be correct since boys are embarrassed to admit it. What viewers don’t realize is airbrushing and lighting are magnificent tools that are used to simulate perfection.

This controversy about body image image is a serious problem and can affect your health and well being. Over the years the pressures of the models have also caused young people to turn to drugs and eating disorders which can end in death. Eating healthy and exercise should be balanced – not taken to the extreme where it consumes your well-being.

Should Kearny be considered gritty?

Yes – but not the way you might think

Growing up in Kearny, I can honestly say I’ve felt safe and protected, regardless of what part of town I was in or what I was doing.

That’s why after reading an article via Kearny on the Web, I was stunned that an Associated Press (AP) reporter labeled Kearny as “gritty.” The article was in reference to the Leonardo Parera shooting in Mountain Lakes last October.

As in all AP articles, the actual writer is not listed; at any rate, the quote was used as an attempt to paint a contrast between co-workers Christine King and the mysterious shooter Parera.

The author writes, “The 47-year-old King, a mother of two, lived in rural Oak Ridge, about 15 miles north of her job, while Parera lived about 20 miles southeast in Kearny, a gritty town sandwiched between Newark and Jersey City.”

That quote got me thinking: Is Kearny actually a gritty town?

In the context used here, gritty means rough, similar to perceptions of Jersey City and Newark and the crime that takes place there.

I’ll say it here: In no way, shape, or form, is Kearny as crime-ridden and “gritty” as those two cities.

I lived in North Philadelphia from 2007 to 2011 while I was attending La Salle University and returned to home to Kearny almost a year ago. Not once have I likened the “grittiness” I experienced there to anything that has taken place in Kearny.

While in Philadelphia, walking around the streets took a sense of being “street smart,” knowing that I have to watch what I do and not be too careless. I was never robbed or assaulted, but I knew several people who were, mainly because they did not have the sense to just walk away.

Now that I’m home, I can roam Kearny streets at night and not feel threatened about what is going on around me.

Kearny Police, despite the budget cuts they have experienced, do a great job keeping many of the issues of Jersey City and Newark out of our town.

However, in another version of gritty, and the one that I mostly associate with, the word means persistent.

Residents of Kearny have always been gritty in this sense of the word. There are people that continue to fight every day against life’s struggles. It’s no surprise that the recent economic downturn has affected many in Kearny, many residents maintain two jobs just to survive, but not once do you see them throw their hands in the air and just simply give up.

While Kearny is not a gritty town in terms of its violent nature, it is, however, gritty in its persistent approach to life, and that’s something town residents should be proud of.

- Anthony J. Machcinski

entertainment@theobserver.com

OOPS…

The Observer would like to apoligize to Larry Maleszewski. In last week’s story, “St. Patrick’s Day parade expects record turnout” from Page 2, we credited the Miss New Jersey Education Foundation for his photo of Parade Grand Marshal Laurence Bennet and Dep. Grand Marshal Michael O’ Donnell. The photo credit should read, “Photos of last year’s United Irish Associations of West Hudson St. Patrick’s Day Parade by Larry Maleszewski.