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It’s a Blue Tide ‘Three-Peat’

11-19 Harrison_web

Harrison wins third straight state sectional soccer title

By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer 

HARRISON –

It was the final time that Jorge Castro was getting a chance to play soccer on his home turf at Harrison High School, so the Blue Tide senior midfielder wanted to make sure it was a memorable day.

“I’ve been here for four years and this was my last time here,” said Castro, who led the Blue Tide into action in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I championship game last Thursday afternoon against Secaucus. “This game really meant a lot to us.” Castro made the most of his last home game, scoring a brilliant goal in the second half, leading the Blue Tide to a 2-0 victory, giving Harrison its third straight state sectional championship.

“Winning three in a row really means a lot,” said Castro, who unleashed a rocket blast from about 35 yards out that eluded stubborn Secaucus goalkeeper Eric Quitiquit for the final score of the game. “I think they kind of figured out who we were, so they were going to be tough to beat this time.”

Harrison (22-3) had defeated Secaucus twice previously in the regular season, winning by 5-0 and 3-0 margins. But the Patriots were a more stubborn opponent this time, not allowing a goal until Ali Lakhrif’s header off a Leandro Gonzales cross went past Quitiquit with 32 minutes remaining in the game.

It was the 35th goal of the season for Lakhrif, who broke the all-time single season school record for goal scoring earlier last week.

Lakhrif was wearing two different colored shoes, one a fluorescent orange and the other a luscious lime green.

“I wanted to do something a little different for good luck,” said Lakhrif, who has now scored 10 goals in the five games that he’s donned two different colored cleats. “I was glad to be able to get the first goal, because after that, the game opened up for us.”

Harrison head coach Mike Rusek realized that Secaucus was a tougher opponent than the first two games this season.

“It was very tough to beat this team three times,” Rusek said. “The coach (Christopher Garcia) knows us well and they played us hard. They had a lot of good, tough kids. You fear that you’re playing against a team like this and you dominate action, but you make one mistake, have one breakdown and the result could be different. We said to them at halftime that they just had to keep coming, that the goal would come.”

Gonzales made a perfect cross and the guy with the two different colored shoes used his head to add to his scoring record.

“We knew that our best opportunity to score was from our midfield,” Rusek said. “Leandro made a perfect pass and Ali made a perfect header.”

The score remained that way until there was 13 minutes left, when Castro made his sensational shot.

Photo by Jim Hague Harrison defender Hector Lago (2) moves towards the ball during the Blue Tide’s 2-0 win over Secaucus in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I championship game last week.

Photo by Jim Hague
Harrison defender Hector Lago (2) moves towards the ball during the Blue
Tide’s 2-0 win over Secaucus in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I
championship game last week.

 

“He’s always been capable of doing that,” Rusek said. “It was a great shot. It was perfect timing, because it made us very tough to beat with a two-goal lead.”

As it turned out, the two teams could have played until next August and Secaucus would still be searching for a way to get a goal. The Patriots actually played the ball past midfield only a handful of times and never got off a legitimate scoring opportunity. Goalkeeper Nick Araujo didn’t have to work too hard to collect his 17th shutout of the season. He was credited with making one save, but it certainly wasn’t a memorable one. That’s how dominant the Blue Tide’s play was in the midfield and their back line.

It marked the 10th time in 15 years that the Blue Tide captured a state sectional title under the tutelage of Rusek and his brother and assistant coach John Rusek. The Blue Tide were slated to face Section 1, Group I champion Waldwick in the overall state semifinals Wednesday at Indian Hills High School.

A win there would put the Blue Tide in place to capture the 27th overall state championship in the school’s rich and storied history. The Group I state title game is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at Kean University, with the scheduled starting time to be approximately 3 p.m.

First things first. The Blue Tide needs to beat Waldwick to move on.

The Blue Tide has fallen short of that overall state title in each of the last two years – something that the players definitely remember.

“This was just the first step,” Lakhrif said. “We want to win it all this year.”

“We’re going to do it this year,” Castro said. “I know it.”

“It’s a good feeling,” Rusek said. “We have 14 seniors on this team and they had not lost on this field since their freshman year in 2011 against Glen Ridge (in the state sectional title game). They enjoyed a lot of success on this field. They’ve been with us a long time. They deserve this.”

At the end of the game, Rusek managed to get his seniors on the field so they could be playing when the final few seconds ticked off.

“Every year, it’s a different feeling, but these kids have worked so hard,” Rusek said. “Things have seemed to fall into place for this team. We’re the last team in Hudson County to still be playing, so we’re very proud of that.”

Nutley girls’ soccer season ends in sectional title game

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By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

When the high school girls’ soccer season began in earnest last August, Nutley High School head coach Mike DiPiano didn’t know what the future held.

After all, the Maroon Raiders graduated nine seniors from last year’s team that won 18 games and advanced to the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group III semifinals.

“I couldn’t let the kids know that I had doubts,” said DiPiano, who began his third season at Nutley. “I did have concerns. We graduated four defensive starters and a goaltender. I knew that we had goal scorers in (Victoria) Kealy and (Zoe) Steck, but I wondered could they score enough for us to win.”

No one could have ever imagined what would transpire in a span of just two months. The uncertainty of August became a championship run in November.

Although the season ended Friday with a tough loss to Roxbury in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group III championship game, the Maroon Raiders can walk away with their collective heads held high.

“We went further than any other team in school history,” said DiPiano, noting that the Maroon Raiders had never participated in a state sectional title game before Friday. “They all bought in and came together. They had sleepovers and movie nights. They had cookiebaking sessions, went pumpkin picking, apple picking and go-cart racing. They really made this team into a family. It was great to see.”

The Maroon Raiders finished the season 16-6, but three of those wins came in the state tournament, including a clutch win over West Morris in the sectional semifinals. West Morris was the team that eliminated the Maroon Raiders from the state tournament a year ago.

The team featured standout returnees in forwards Kealy (24 goals and 16 assists) and Steck (17 goals, 13 assists). Everything the Maroon Raiders did offensively was centered around the play of the two standouts.

Kealy, headed for Rider University on a scholarship, was once a defender at Nutley, but was moved up front and her entire life changed.

“She led by example,” DiPiano said of Kealy. “She played out of position as a freshman defender on a team that won three games. She did whatever we asked of her and did a great job as a leader.”

More importantly, Kealy leaves Nutley girls’ soccer with a legacy as the school’s all-time leading goal scorer, tallying an astounding 79 goals during her brilliant career.

“There were a lot of tears Friday and that’s understandable,” DiPiano said. “It was a tough day. But I let her know that she was one of the reasons why we were able to turn this thing around. She really had a great career.”

Kealy became the program’s second NCAA Division I player over the last three years, joining Natalie Melillo, who is at Troy University in Alabama and scored four goals there as a freshman this season.

“We feel we have players coming out of this program who can play at the next level,” DiPiano said.

When the time comes, Steck will become a major college player as well. Only a sophomore, Steck is already getting attention from Division I schools.

“We’re proud of that,” DiPiano said.

However, DiPiano should be most proud of the way his players developed this season.

When the season began, he had a goalkeeper who hadn’t played competitively in almost four years and had a host of underclassmen playing major roles in the defensive back line.

But junior Sarah Roselli emerged as the team’s goalkeeper, replacing last year’s Observer Co-Female Athlete of the Year Grace Montgomery. Roselli, who played tennis her first two years of high school, didn’t receive medical clearance to play soccer after suffering concussions as a middle school player, but DiPiano knew that Roselli could handle the responsibilities if healthy.

“I saw her play when she was younger and I knew if she could play, she would do fine,” DiPiano said.

Lauren Holden is a freshman who was given the responsibilities of being the team’s sweeper.

“I also saw her play when she was younger,” DiPiano said. “She comes from an athletic family (sister Emily is Nutley’s ace pitcher during softball season). Lauren is just a good soccer player. I knew she wouldn’t play like a freshman.”

Darby Fischer is a sophomore who became the team’s stopper.

“She was very tough,” DiPiano said. “Darby and Lauren Holden kept us together.”

Freshman Jela Small played both at defender and in the midfield.

“She’s a dynamic player,” DiPiano said. “She has a bright future.”

Senior Julie Fredericks, a first-year varsity starter, junior Melissa Alvarez and sophomore Angeli Bossibaly all did great jobs assisting the defensive backline that was once a question mark and evolved into the team’s strength.

Sophomore Jennifer Callaghan became a good ball distributor in the midfield. Senior Kaitlyn Salisbury and junior Sam Chimento were also major contributors in the midfield, along with Sarah Grueter and Maise Jelley.

They all molded well with the immense talents of Kealy and Steck up front, as potent a 1-2 scoring attack that could be found in northern New Jersey.

While the Maroon Raiders graduate a host of seniors, especially All-State candidate Kealy, the prospects look very good for the years to come, especially with Steck returning for two more soccer seasons.

“This team was a huge success story for the program, for the school and for the community,” DiPiano said. “I’m very proud of them. We won one state game two years ago, two last year and three this year. We’re moving in the right direction.”

If the progression remains the way it has been over the first three years of DiPiano’s regime, then a fourth win in the state playoffs should finally mean a state sectional title in 2015.

Lyndhurst’s great cross country season ends at Group championships

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By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer 

HOLMDEL – 

It had been a brilliant cross country season for the Lyndhurst High School boys’ team, one that culminated in the NJIC-Colonial Division championship and the second straight NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I title.

So when the Golden Bears took to the tough and treacherous course at Holmdel Park last Saturday for the overall Group I state championships, there was hope that the Bears could muster up yet another brilliant performance to move on to the NJSIAA Meet of Champions this weekend.

But it didn’t happen.

The Golden Bears didn’t get the performance they were hoping for and finished fourth, just missing on a berth in the M of C by a total of just nine points.

“We didn’t have our ‘A’ game today,” Lyndhurst head coach Michael Picardo said. “We knew we needed our best today and we didn’t get it.” Stephen Covello was the top Golden Bear runner, coming home in 14th place in 17:15.36. Teammate William Hooper was right behind in 15th place, clocked at 17.16.96. Dylan Stanco was next, earning 17th place in 17:19.14. The trio tried desperately to move up to make more of an impact, but it wasn’t to be.

“In the beginning, I got trapped in the back,” Covello said. “I couldn’t move. Going up the hill, it was pretty hard to get past anyone. I had to run on the edges, between the trees and everything. Once we got out of the woods, we had a lot of ground to catch up and it was hard. I was trying to go for it and couldn’t get there.”

Covello said that he was looking for his teammates as well.

“We tried to run as a pack,” Covello said. “Billy (Hooper), Stanco and I were all together. But I didn’t know where we were. Making up ground in a race like this with so many runners is really tough. We tried to push each other to the end.”

Hooper agreed.

“I think we all got out slow,” Hooper said. “At one point, I was like in 50th place as we entered the first mile. I tried to pass so many people, but it was so hard. I got tripped about five or six times because I’m so tall and have long legs. People were hitting me left and right. Once everyone got out, it was hard to catch up. We just couldn’t get past them.”

Andre Francisco was the next Golden Bear finisher, crossing the line in 30th place. Isaiah Aviles was 58th and Anthony Dell Aquila finished in 61st place.

Despite the disappointing finish, Picardo said that the team had a lot to be proud of.

“I’m very proud of what we accomplished,” Picardo said. “In fact, I’m ecstatic. Sure, this hurts right now, but I’m super proud. This is the greatest bunch of kids I’ve ever coached. I can’t ask for anything more. We’re a true team in every sense.”

The runners themselves realized how great of a season it was.

“I’m very proud of these guys,” Hooper said. “Four years of hard work definitely paid off. It’s not the way we wanted it to end, but we worked so hard to get to this point.”

Covello, the heart and soul of the team, agreed.

“This is heartbreaking,” Covello said. “It hurts. We wanted to go out and win this. But this one race doesn’t dictate what we did all year. I’m unbelievably proud of these guys. It’s been my honor to have run with them. I wouldn’t have changed things for the world. We won back-to-back state sectionals, the first time in the school’s history. I wouldn’t trade any one of these guys for anyone.”

Covello said that there will come a time when the pain of Saturday’s disappointment will fade away.

“I wanted to get one more chance to run with these guys,” Covello said. “It’s really heartbreaking. But we accomplished a lot and I know the guys next year are in good shape to do well again.”

There’s a program at Lyndhurst now. In years past, there were teams led by Patrick Rono, who was a physical presence, a sure-fire stud.

This year’s team wasn’t blessed with a ton of natural athleticism. There were no physical specimens, no physiques that would incite fear in opponents.

But the Golden Bears had a lot of heart and desire. More importantly, they were a team.

“That sums it all up,” Picardo said. “They were a team in the truest sense. I’ll remember this team forever.”

The Golden Bears will be immortalized for helping put the Lyndhurst cross country program on the map, thanks to the diligence of the senior leaders.

Chiropractic treatment of Sciatica

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Sciatica is a term used to describe symptoms associated with the sciatic nerve as a result of nerve root compression, irritation and/or inflammation. The sciatic nerve is the largest and longest in the body running from the base of the spine down into the buttock region and down through both legs. When this nerve becomes pinched, inflamed or compressed, patients can experience a range of debilitating symptoms and pain that vary in intensity and frequency and can last for just a few days to several weeks depending upon the surrounding circumstances.

Sciatica generally occurs on one side of the body but can occasionally affect both sides in the lower extremities. Familiar symptoms may include radiating pain into the feet and legs, burning pain down the buttock and leg, muscle cramping and weakness in the back of the thighs and numbness and tingling along the side or back of the leg and into the feet.

Various disorders can cause sciatic nerve pain including misalignments of the lumbar spinal bones, herniated or bulging discs, slip and fall injuries, sports injuries, motor vehicle accidents, pregnancy and childbirth, tumors, and non-spinal disorders such as diabetes, constipation, or sitting on one’s back pocket wallet. Another common cause of sciatica is piriformis syndrome wherein injuries or muscle sprains/strains cause the piriformis muscle to cramp and spasm that causes inflammation and pain.

Chiropractic physicians are one of the primary choices in diagnosing and treating sciatica. In addition to a thorough examination, diagnostic testing such as x-rays, MRI, CT Scan and nerve conduction studies are commonly used to identify the cause of the problem. Chiropractic physicians are highly trained and skilled in treating sciatica using a non-invasive, non-surgical and drug-free approach. Treatment is typically pain-free and usually lasts an average of several weeks in order to reduce inflammation and swelling, muscle spasms, nerve impingement and spinal misalignments. Spinal adjustments used have been proven to be safe, effective and comfortable. Sciatica can also be caused by other disorders beyond the scope of chiropractic practice. If the doctor of chiropractic determines the patient’s disorder requires treatment by another type of doctor, then the patient is referred to another specialty. In some cases, the referring chiropractor may continue to treat the patient and co-manage the patient’s care with the other specialist.

Dr. Louis Stimmel, D.C., of Harrison Spine & Rehabilitation Center, is board certified with over 25 years of clinical practice experience. Stimmel has been board certified as a chiropractic sports physician and is certified in hospital protocols and privileges. He has frequently lectured to orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists and medical physicians on the benefits of chiropractic care. Stimmel is highly trained and experienced in treating conditions such as sciatica utilizing a variety of safe, gentle and pain-free techniques along with the latest physical therapies to relieve pain and discomfort. Unique to his office, Stimmel utilizes a revolutionary rehabilitation treatment called cold laser to enhance the treatment of sciatica in a rapid and pain-free approach. Contact his office today at 973-483-3380 for a free consult and evaluation.

– Louis Stimmel, D.C. Harrison Spine & Rehab 

Obituaries

Catherine Bradley 

Catherine Bradley, 85, died peacefully at home, surrounded by her loving family on Nov. 11.

Born in Nova Scotia, Canada, to Joseph and Rose McSherry, she was raised in Scotland and lived in Ireland during World War II. She emigrated to the U.S. and lived in North Arlington before moving to Manalapan in 2011.

Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny, www.armitagewiggins.com. A funeral Mass was held at Queen of Peace Church, North Arlington, followed by entombment in Holy Cross Cemetery.

Catherine worked for the Bergen County Senior Citizens program at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and was a member of The Seniors, both in North Arlington. She loved to bowl and play bingo.

Wife of Bertie Bradley, she is also survived by her children Colleen Courter, Bart Bradley, Catherine Trillo (Louis) and Tina Bradley, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Dennis W. Carbone Sr. 

Dennis W. Carbone Sr., formerly of Kearny, died Nov. 12 at his home in Stillwater Township.

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

Dennis was a machinist/ inspector at Reagan Precision Industries in North Arlington. Prior to that, he worked for August Spinler. During his 27 years at Reagan, he had become a manager of a Reagan Nuclear Division and had government clearance. He was also a quality control inspector on the Sea Hawk submarine and oversaw its launch. He traveled to inspect major parts of submarines and aircraft carriers. Dennis loved to do endless projects in his home and yard. He was happiest fixing whatever needed to be fixed.

Dennis is survived by his wife Alana (nee Guertine), formerly Calderone. He was the father of Dennis W. Carbone Jr. (Sherre), Michelle M. Carbone, Joseph D. Calderone (Dawn), Dennis F. Calderone (Stephanie). He is also survived by his twin brother Edward (Betty), 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Thomas P. Cassels 

Thomas P. Cassels, of Bronxville, N.Y., passed away unexpectedly on Nov. 7.

He was the son of the late Edward and Margaret Cassels. He is survived by his wife of 43 years Charlotte (née Finnegan); his children and their spouses Ellen and Martin Kenny, Thomas M. and Alison Cassels and Colleen and T.J. Crawford; and his adored grandchildren Maeve and Katherine Kenny, Colin and Nicholas Cassels and Peyton and Avery Crawford. He was the loving brother of Edward and Peter Cassels, Maryanne Costigan and the late Donald and John Cassels.

Arrangements were by the Fred H. McGrath and Son Funeral Home, Bronxville, N.Y. The Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated at St. Joseph’s Church, Bronxville. Memorial contributions are welcome and should be sent to the Friends of the Bronxville Public Library , 201 Pondfield Road, Bronxville, N.Y.

Claudette Cataldo 

Claudette Cataldo, 57, died suddenly on Nov. 15.

Arrangements are by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. The funeral service will be held at the funeral home on Tuesday, Nov. 18, at 10 a.m. Interment will follow in Arlington Cemetery, Kearny. Condolences and memories may be shared at www.thiele-reid.com

Miss Cataldo was born in Newark and lived in Kearny her entire life. She was a counter clerk at Sunset Deli in Kearny for over 30 years, retiring 5 years ago. Previously, she was a beautician at Teddy’s Bullpen Salon and Carmella’s Salon, both in Kearny.

Claudette is survived by her sister Constance Paglio and her husband Victor and her brother Joseph Cataldo and his wife Marie. She was the aunt of Dena-Marie, Toniann and Victor Paglio III and Ginamarie and Nicole Cataldo as well as the great-aunt of Nicholas Paglio and Hera Haffner.

She was predeceased by her parents Joseph and Carmella “Millie” (nee Nigro) Cataldo and her nephew Nicholas Paglio.

Diane Lynn Kenyon 

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Diane Lynn Kenyon (nee Kolakowski), 60, of 23 Groton Drive, Port Jefferson Station, N.Y., 11776, and formerly of Kearny, died on Nov. 5.

Diane was a librarian’s assistant for Norwood Elementary School, Comsewogue School District.

She was the beloved wife of John, loving mother of Jason, Mathew and Ashley; cherished grandmother of Aubrey Rose; dear sister of Henry, John and Stephen.

Cremation services were held at Washington Memorial Park Chapel.

Donations can be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, P.O. Box 1000, Dept. 142, Memphis, Tenn. 38101-9908.

John C. McCarthy 

John C. McCarthy entered into eternal rest on Nov. 10, surrounded by his loving family at St. Michael’s Medical Center, Newark. He was 62.

Funeral services were under the direction of the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison. A funeral service was held at the funeral home. His interment was in Hollywood Memorial Park, Union.

For information or to send online condolences to the family go to: www.mulliganfh.com.

Born in Newark, John lived most of his life in Kearny. He worked as a bridge operator for Hudson County for the last 24 years. He was a member of the Harrison/East Newark Elks. He also was a member of Local 1199J, Newark.

John was the beloved husband of Suzanne (nee Vaber) for 27 years. He is survived by his loving children Heather McCarthy and fiancé Lupe Santiago, Lance Cpl. Thomas John McCarthy and his fiancé Ashley Dunwoodie and Steven Jackson; his cherished granddaughter Savannah, the love of his life; his dear siblings Michael, Dorothy, Linda, David, Barbara and Debbie, his brother-in-law Ricky Vaber and his wife Caryn and his best friend Eddie Raimo. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

He was predeceased by his brother Thomas McCarthy.

Marching in March

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By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 

NUTLEY – 

The Nutley Irish American Association last week introduced to the public the dignitaries who will lead its 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Those among you not of Celtic blood are likely thinking, “Already? But the parade isn’t until March.”

What you should know is that planning for the annual celebration usually begins about five minutes after the previous parade ends. And it’s already more than halfway to St. Patrick’s Day! Selection of the dignitaries is in no way premature.

Leading the line of march will be Grand Marshal Charles E. O’Mara. Deputy Grand Marshal is Ann E. Morris. The organization’s Member of the Year is Joe Milbauer, and the 2015 Parade Queen is Diandra Kelly.

In 2015, for the first time, the Nutley Irish will also begin honoring members of the local uniformed services. The inaugural choice is Lt. John E. Redstone, as Firefighter of the Year.

Grand Marshal O’Mara is a third-generation Irish American whose maternal great-grandparents emigrated from County Wicklow in 1888. His paternal great-grandparents also came a long way, from Tipperary.

O’Mara notes that he also “hails from a long line of Teamsters.” A member of the union since 1976, when he worked for the Wakefern Food Corp., he has served as business agent/delegate for Teamsters Local 863 for the last 10 years.

O’Mara and his wife, Eileen (nee Maher), and their children Charles, Carly and Casey live in Nutley, in the same house where he grew up, the one his parents purchased when they moved to the town in 1963.

Deputy Grand Marshal Morris, who retains a lovely Irish lilt in her voice, came to the United States — and Belleville — in 1961 and is very active in the community. Asked to list her affiliations, she started to name them: “The Belleville Irish, the Nutley Irish, the Giblin Association, the . . . oh, anything Irish!”

She’s originally from Kells in County Meath, the town from which the exquisite medieval illuminated manuscript, the Book of Kells, takes its name. With Morris’ selection as the parade honoree, Kells can now boast that it was home to two treasures.

Milbauer is a resident of New Providence but is also part of the Nutley business community. He is president of J. Milbauer Solutions LLC, an insurance agency with offices on Franklin Ave.

A member of the Nutley Irish for seven years, he has been a club trustee for the last three and is the 2015 post-parade chairman, which means he will be organizing the extremely popular after party.

Kelly was born and raised in Nutley as one of six siblings — five girls, one boy. She graduated from Mount St. Dominic Academy in Caldwell and received her degree in 2012 from Georgia Tech. She is now a consultant with Deloitte & Touche.

Kelly told The Observer: “I’m honored, and humbled, to have been chosen [as Parade Queen], because my grandfather [John V. Kelly] was one of the founders of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.” That was back in 1979, and the Nutley Irish have been the organizers ever since.

Redstone moved to Nutley in 1994 and joined the Volunteer Fire Department the following year. He served as a volunteer for eight years and in 2002 was hired as a paid member of the NFD.

Recently promoted to lieutenant, he is the department’s chief fire inspector and housing inspector.

By the way, he also plays the bagpipes. He’s a member of the Essex County Emerald Society Pipes & Drums, a band comprising police officers and firefighters.

And before you ask (everyone does), he’s 6-foot-10.

 (Editor›s note: The Nutley Irish meet on the third Thursday of the month at 8 p.m. at the VFW on Washington Ave. New members are always welcome. For more information, visit www.nutleyirish.com

Massa out; Fife stays in

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By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

One mayor was displaced and an acting mayor became permanent following municipal elections held in The Observer coverage area last Tuesday.

In North Arlington, Republican Councilman Joseph Bianchi, a Republican, defeated Democratic Mayor Peter Massa, who was seeking his third four-year term as the borough’s chief executive by a vote of 2,211 to 1,737, including absentees. Provisional votes were unavailable at press time.

And in Harrison, Democrat James Fife, who was appointed acting mayor following the death of Mayor Raymond Mc- Donough in February, fought off a challenge from Republican Erik Brachman by a more than 2-1 margin, with Fife collecting 1,388 machine votes to Brachman’s 600.

Fife, who was nursing a bad cold last week was unavailable for comment, but Brachman, who said he spent “about $30,000” on his campaign – versus the approximately $20,000 reportedly spent by the Fife team – said that he planned to remain active politically and was considering a run for the Second Ward council seat now occupied by Victor Villalta next year.

Brachman’s pitch had been “to integrate redevelopment with the rest of Harrison on the other side of [Rt.] 280. Those residents think they’re being ignored.” And while he was “certainly disappointed” in the election results, Brachman asserted that “the numbers at the polls don’t indicate the true undertone of the people of Harrison.”

Fife’s Democratic Town Council running mates, incumbents Jesus Huaranga (256 votes), Laurence Bennett (432) and James Doran (372) in the First, Third and Fourth Wards, respectively, were unopposed; Second Ward incumbent Anselmo Millan outpaced independent Ramon Rodriguez, 373 to 101.

In North Arlington, Bianchi’s Borough Council running mates, Daniel Pronti and Kerry Cruz, also won, ousting Democratic incumbents Mark Yampaglia and Daniel Castro. Pronti polled 2,169 votes and Cruz had 2,132; Yampaglia, 1,742; and Castro, 1,657.

As of Jan. 1, 2015, when the winners get sworn into office, the GOP will boast a 4-2 majority, including the mayor. At that point, the council seat current filled by Bianchi – who was re-elected to a third term last year – will become vacant and the Republicans will have 30 days to recommend a temporary placeholder for the seat. Then, in November, there will be a special election to fill the unexpired term.

Spending by the opposing campaigns was fairly even, judging by reports filed with the N.J. Election Law Enforcement Commission: the Committee to Elect Massa, Castro & Yampaglia garnered $27,195 while the Committee to Elect Bianchi, Pronti & Cruz netted $25,635.

Bianchi told The Observer he was “kind of shocked by the amount of votes I won by. I thought it would be closer. I never dreamed I’d get this many but I think the results show that people want change.”

“As mayor in the next four years, I want to try to turn things around in North Arlington and start getting redevelopment,” Bianchi said, “because if we don’t start moving forward, [property] taxes are going to slowly but surely keep going up and up.”

“On the Kearny side of the meadows, they’re building warehousing and industry and on the Lyndhurst side, they’re putting up townhouses and condominiums,” Bianchi said. “We have nothing in North Arlington.”

Starting in January, Bianchi said he would revive the concept for a North Arlington Redevelopment Board. “We had it years ago but it was dismantled around 2003 when the mayor and council became the redevelopment entity.”

But that’s the wrong approach, he said, because “the mayor and council have enough to do to run the town. You need business people from the town, regular people, former councilmen, real estate people [to serve on a redevelopment board] and that’s their sole job. They would arrange meetings with the [New Jersey] Meadowlands Commission, builders, to reach out to entrepreneurs,” possibly to encourage construction of “solar farms or windmills” on the landfills.

As for the 2014 municipal budget, which has yet to be adopted, Bianchi said he anticipated that the state Department of Community Affairs would shortly appoint a monitor to draft a spending plan that, so far, has eluded feuding Democrats and Republicans.

After the election, Massa posted a statement on the NAToday. net web congratulating his opponent and his running mates. “I have served with Joe for many years and I believe he will do the best he can to make North Arlington a better place for all residents. The campaign is over and now is the time to rally around Joe so that governance comes first.”

Massa thanked his family, running mates, the Democratic Party, borough employees and volunteers for their support over the years.

2 killed in Rt.21 accident

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By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 

BELLEVILLE – 

Authorities continue to investigate a fiery multi-vehicle crash that killed two people on Rt. 21 in Belleville last week. As of press time, the identity of only one of the victims was available.

Jonathan Fontenot, 26, of Newark, was reportedly pronounced dead at the scene of the Nov. 3 accident, but his name was not released until Thursday.

According to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, which is handling the case, the 7:25 p.m. crash involved a tractor-trailer and two passenger vehicles — a 2013 Dodge Dart and a 2004 Chevy Cavalier.

Fontenot and the other fatality, also pronounced dead at the scene, were the sole occupants of the Cavalier, authorities reported, but they have not yet said which of those victims was the driver and which the passenger.

The driver of the Dart was identified only as a 27-yearold Bloomfield man; the truck driver, as a 48-year-old man. Both were said to be uninjured.

The accident occurred in the southbound lanes of Rt. 21, south of the Main St. exit in Belleville. From Main St., the truck could be seen toppled over onto the guard rail on the elevated section of the highway, directly across from the State Fair mini-mall.

Photo by Karen Zautyk Firetrucks along Main St. Other engines and emergency vehicles filled the highway.

Photo by Karen Zautyk
Firetrucks along Main St. Other engines and emergency vehicles filled the highway.

 

The exact cause of the collision is not yet known. The Prosecutor’s Office said that the tractor trailer and one of the passenger vehicles were on fire when the initial first response units arrived.

By 8 p.m., when this correspondent was at the scene, the flames appeared to be out, but, as seen from below, clouds of smoke continued to rise from the truck and firefighters were still hosing it down.

A small crowd was gathered in the mall parking lot to watch as members of the Belleville Fire Department climbed ladders to reach the underside of the vehicle, which apparently was otherwise inaccessible. Up on the highway itself, firetrucks from Belleville and Newark, along with ambulances and Belleville, Newark and State Police vehicles filled the roadway — their emergency lights visible for miles.

The Belleville PD redirected traffic on Main St. and blocked the southbound entrance to the highway, which was closed for several hours. The Nutley PD also prevented access to Rt. 21 from that township.

The accident is being investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Task Force and the Belleville Police Department. Anyone with information is asked to contact Task Force detectives at (877) 847-7432 or (973) 621-4586.

At last word, the investigation was ongoing and no charges had been filed against anyone in connection with the crash.

Longtime retailer bids adieu

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By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

One of Kearny’s few remaining longstanding retailers is closing.

Mace Bros. Fine Furniture, whose showroom has occupied the southeast corner of Oakwood and Kearny Aves. for 62 years, plans to discontinue all sales by year’s end, store owner Diane Miller said last week.

However, Miller added, “We’ll be here for another year” to be available to customers who’ve made purchases with one-year warranties to take care of any issues that may arise in connection with the items they’ve bought.

That’s the kind of service patrons have come to expect from Mace over the years and that’s certainly one of the reasons those patrons or members of their families – even those who’ve moved out of town – have kept returning to shop for that exquisite sofa or dining set.

“In all these years, we’ve never advertised,” Miller noted. “I’d say 85% of our sales resulted from word-of-mouth business.”

So why call it quits? “It’s time,” Miller said. “I’m here 43 years – when my aunt Ruth [O’Connor] retired, I came over.” Miller’s daughter Michele also works at the store. And so does her mother, Lillian Mace, who, with her husband Rich, opened the store in 1952 – with a moving business on the side, run by Rich’s brother Vince – so it’s always been a family-run enterprise.

But a combination of high overhead at the company’s two warehouse properties on the west side of town and local real estate taxes have taken their toll, Miller said.

“We’ve been trying to sell our warehouses for the past four or five years and we’ve had prospective buyers – one was a ceramics company and another repaired motors – but the town has another concept for that redevelopment area,” Miller said. “They’re making houses the preferred use.”

“Small businesses are having a tough time today,” she continued. “And Kearny was built on small businesses but a lot of them are barely making it. There’s got to be a way to help them. We love our governor and he’s trying to do his best but we all have to work to make it better.”

Mace Bros. has sought to buy “mostly American-made” merchandise, Miller said, but the industry has changed in recent years, with a lot of the old North Carolina-based furniture manufacturers having been supplanted by Asian and Canadian markets.

The company, Miller said, is still trying to market its warehouse buildings – a 22,000 square foot facility at Passaic and Johnston Aves. and a 16,000 square foot facility at Lincoln Ave. and Belgrove Drive, while plans for the three and a half-story main showroom on Kearny Ave. are unsettled for the time being.

Of late, she said, the store has been operating with between 20 and 25 employees, including retail sales, billing and bookkeeping, and trucking.

Over time, the store has made a conscious effort “to try to get people from the area” as its work force and, as Lillian pointed out, a good portion of the store’s personnel have stayed a long time.

Mother and daughter both extended thanks “to the people of Kearny” for their loyalty to the store. “And the members of the Police Department and Fire Department have been exceptional,” Miller added.

Lillian, who came to Kearny as a child, remembers when her father, “Pop” Mace, ran a moving business that specialized in relocating folks to New York City and “turned two trucks over to Rich and Vince.”

After her graduation from the Traphagen School of Design in New York, where she studied art, she got a job at the old Western Electric plant in Kearny where she handled payroll and cost accounting duties. “I was always good in math,” she said. “And I’m a good painter.”

A bit later, she brought her layout and business skills to the Mace Bros. furniture showroom and she’s been at it ever since, although now it’s slowed a bit to weekly visits to the store.

“We’ve had a lot of fun here with our customers and employees,” she said.

2 young jaywalkers injured

By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY –

Two township youngsters were reported to be recovering from injuries sustained when they were struck by automobiles in separate incidents — one on Oct. 31; the second, last Wednesday. Police said both victims had been jaywalking when they were hit.

The first accident occurred at 12:26 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 31, near 495 Kearny Ave., south of Oakwood Ave., in the vicinity of Lincoln School.

According to police, a 12-year-old boy had been attempting to cross Kearny Ave. from east to west when he was hit by a southbound car.

Police said the youth sustained minor injuries. He was transported for treatment to Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville by Kearny EMS.

No summonses were issued to the driver, an 82-year-old man from Beach Haven.

At the time of the accident, police said, a crossing guard was on duty at Kearny and Oakwood, where there is also a traffic light, but the boy apparently chose to enter the roadway “well south of the intersection.”

The second accident was reported at 8:15 a.m., Nov. 5, when an 11-year-old girl was struck by a northbound car in the area of 134 Belgrove Dr., near Washington School.

Police said the child, crossing Belgrove from west to east, had apparently entered the northbound lane after walking behind southbound cars that were stopped in traffic.

The victim sustained injuries to her right leg, arm and upper body and was taken to University Hospital in Newark. Police said none of the injuries was considered life-threatening.

The car that hit the girl was taken to KPD headquarters “for investigative and inspectional purposes,” but the driver, a 47-year-old Kearny woman, was not issued any summonses.

According to police, witnesses confirmed “that the pedestrian entered the roadway in an unsafe manner.”

Police said that in this incident there was also a controlled intersection, with a crossing guard, nearby — at Belgrove and Woodland Ave.

Police Chief John Dowie emphasized that the KPD Traffic Bureau “constantly monitors” the area of schools, enforces violations and ensures that “crossing guards are properly positioned.” In addition, he noted, the officers provide safety lectures to students, speak to PTA groups and school administrators regarding traffic and pedestrian laws and have fielded pedestrian safety details throughout town.