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Work progressing at Rip Collins Field

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NORTH ARLINGTON –

Construction of the new Rip Collins Athletic field complex in North Arlington is proceeding on schedule and should be finished by fall 2014, school officials predicted.

In a prepared press release, Schools Superintendent Oliver Stringham said that excavation work is being done to lay the groundwork and foundation for what will be the new athletic field, track and new buildings.

Stringham said construction crews (from Rochelle Contracting of Landing) are on the River Road site doing all the infrastructure work, now that the district has secured approvals from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Joseph Ricciardelli, president of the North Arlington Board of Education, said last week, “I don’t see any reason why we won’t be playing on the new field this fall.”

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“We’ve had delivery of all the irrigation materials and piping,” Ricciardelli said. “We’re putting additional drainage under what will be our new turf field and our new buildings are going to be raised an additional foot higher than what the state asked for” to offset any potential flooding from future storms over overflows from the nearby Passaic River.

Ricciardelli said the school board will, at some point, be purchasing a “Zamboni-like” machine that would be used to vacuum away any excess water and/or debris from the field as needed. “Our staff will be trained how to use it,” he added.

As an added precaution, according to board member George McDermott, the field will be covered with a large tarpaulin during the off-season for protection against the elements.

The project, funded under a $3.3 million public referendum previously approved by North Arlington voters, will provide the school district with a new artificial grass field that it can use for high school football, baseball, track and soccer, plus team locker rooms and bathrooms, a storage facility, a coach’s meeting room, concession stand, press box and scoreboard, public bathrooms, walkways and fencing.

The complex will also be available for use to the borough Recreation Department.

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Ricciardelli said the board plans to “open the facility six or seven days a week for the public to walk or run on the track.” Specific hours for that purpose have yet to be set, he said.

At a special meeting April 11, the school board voted to retain Pennoni Associates, a Philadelphia-based engineering firm, “to provide professional engineering services in connection with the Synthetic Turf Fields and Fieldhouse at Rip Collins Athletic Complex Project.”

Pennoni will receive $30,500 for the work, according to Ricciardelli.

Ricciardelli said the expectation is that the firm would serve as a sort of construction clerk of the works whose representative would be on site “three or four times a week” to check in with the contractor on the status of the project.

– Ron Leir

Drug store supplants shop, homes

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By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent

KEARNY –

Developers had reason to cheer but also jeer in the wake of separate decisions by two of the town’s regulatory boards last week.

Kearny will be getting a new chain drug store on its main business district but the proposed conversion of a vacant box factory to residential lofts won’t be happening.

Last Tuesday, the Kearny Zoning Board of Adjustment voted 5-2 to approve an application filed by Mark Development Co., of New York and Massachusetts, to build a Walgreens Pharmacy at 453-467 Kearny Ave., partly on the site of the old Lynn Chevrolet property.

To make way for the 12,670 square foot, one-story building, including a drive-thru, and 41-space parking lot, the contractor will be tearing down the old auto showroom/ service center, the Irish Quality Gift Shop and the old Teddy’s bar, all on Kearny Ave., along with two houses on Quincy Ave. Read more »

Mayoral election challenge

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By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent

HARRISON –

A newly minted Republican has thrown his hat in the ring for Harrison’s mayoralty.

In November, Erik Brachman, the president of the Harrison Board of Health, will oppose the Democratic nominee James Fife, who was appointed mayor by the Town Council after the sudden death of Raymond McDonough Feb. 12.

Three years ago, Brachman, 53, ran in the Democratic Primary as a candidate for a Second Ward seat on the Town Council and was defeated by Victor Villalta. Read more »

Now, there’s a ‘jury duty scam’

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By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent

Recently, The Observer warned readers of a nationwide phone scam in which fraudsters pretending to be IRS agents are bilking money from unsuspecting taxpayers.

Well, there’s another phone scam out there, one that should be of specific interest to our readers in the Bergen County communities of North Arlington and Lyndhurst. However, everyone should be wary. The fraud is spreading to other areas.

Authorities have reported that Bergen County residents have been receiving calls from phony “Sheriff ’s Office” employees threatening them with arrest because they allegedly failed to show up for jury duty. It’s all a fraud. Read more »

KBOE OKs borough ‘transfer’

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By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent

EAST NEWARK –

East Newark public school children have now officially begun their climb up a long ladder that could lead them to taking high school classes in Kearny.

That happened March 24 when the Kearny Board of Education voted 6-0 “… that, contingent upon the severing of the sending-receiving relationship between East Newark and the Harrison Public School District, the Board is ready, willing and able to receive and educate the students from East Newark in grades 9 through 12 at the Kearny High School.”

East Newark Mayor Joseph Smith characterized the KBOE’s action as “the first favorable step” along the path to possible separation from Harrison that would end a century-plus-old tradition.

“My understanding is that if we couldn’t overcome this hurdle, we couldn’t go any farther,” Smith said. “There’d been no sense spending any money [to continue the separation process] until we had that step completed.” Read more »

9 Nutley home burglaries solved, cops say

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They got the accused burglars but, unfortunately, none of the loot.

Nutley police said they’ve broken a string of residential burglaries, dating from late 2013, involving nine separate cases throughout the township, with the arrests of seven suspects.

On March 21, Nutley PD, working with Rutherford PD, arrested Wayne resident Steven Benedek, 61, on charges of burglary to three Nutley residences: one on Edison Ave. on Dec. 19, 2013; one on HIghfield Lane on Dec. 20, 2013; and one on Kingsland Ave. on Jan. 31.

Police said Benedek has a long history of burglary arrests in Nutley dating from 1972 and 1973. Read more »

Siblings busted by KPD

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By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent

KEARNY –

An investigation that began in late February has resulted in the arrest of two Kearny brothers on drug and weapons charges, Kearny Police Chief John Dowie reported last week.

Dowie said the probe was launched after Vice Unit detectives developed information that drugs were being sold out of a residence on the 200 block of Chestnut St. Patrol units had also been called to the location in response to disorderly-conduct complaints from neighbors, Dowie said.

After surveillance and inquiries, detectives reportedly confirmed the sales and learned the occupants were allegedly in possession of at least one firearm.

On March 20, police applied to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office for a probable cause, no-knock search warrant, which was granted and authorized by Superior Court Judge Fred Theemling. Read more »

DNA helps nab ‘Manor’ suspect

By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent

Photo courtesy KPD Carlos Camacho

Photo courtesy KPD
Carlos Camacho

KEARNY –

A series of 2013 burglaries in the Manor section of town has been solved thanks to DNA evidence collected at one of the crime scenes, Kearny Police Chief John Dowie reported.

The suspect, already incarcerated in the Essex County Jail, has a criminal history dating to 1996, Dowie said. The break-ins occurred last summer and were concentrated in the residential area west of Kearny Ave., between Bennett Ave. and the Belleville Turnpike. Kearny police increased their uniformed and plainclothes presence in the neighborhood and were also making vacant-house checks.

“In one of the cases, the detailed crime-scene processing paid off,” the chief said.

Lt. Anthony Gouveia, checking a house whose owners were on vacation, discovered a break-in, advised headquarters and secured the scene. Dets. Ray Lopez and Stephen Podolski responded and collected DNA specimens, which were sent to the N.J. State Police lab for processing.

“We were notified recently that the DNA belonged to a career criminal with an extensive burglary history,” Dowie reported last week.

The suspect was identified as 45-year-old Carlos Camacho, who was found to be a current inhabitant of the Essex County Jail, having been charged in connection with a recent Newark robbery, police said. Read more »

Thoughts & Views: In harm’s way around the world

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Anja Niedringhaus

These days, when we’re used to getting our news so easily on the internet, we tend not to think twice about the degree of difficulty that may have been involved for the news-gatherer to get that story or photographer to snap that image.

Especially if the coverage of that particular event is being done in countries where guarantees of press freedoms are unheard of and journalists are targeted for threats or physical confrontations.

Such was the case last Friday, April 4, when an Afghan police commander shot and killed Anja Niedringhaus, a 48-year-old Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer for the Associated Press, and badly wounded AP reporter Kathy Gannon as they were preparing to cover the national elections in that country.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide and which has tracked attacks on news employees, has logged 703 journalists murdered globally since 1992. Read more »

News from the KPD blotter

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March 28

At 11:20 a.m., Officers Ben Wuelfing and Vanessa Sevillano were dispatched to the 700 block of Forest St. to assist a Hudson County court officer with an eviction order. When the occupant of the residence, Jacquelin Nurkette, was advised that she would have to vacate the premises, she became hostile, threatened the officers, and then resisted being cuffed, police said.

Nurkette was charged with contempt of court, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Read more »