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Logged on the Lyndhurst Police blotter


March 26

At 2:03 a.m., police began pursuit of a vehicle traveling northbound on Summit Ave. after the driver made a sharp left turn onto Sixth St. and came to a stop at Jackson Place. The driver, Frank Erminio, 49, of Lyndhurst, was charged with DWI and reckless driving. He was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia (a purple fold with a white powdered residue suspected of being cocaine), possession of drugs and possession of drugs in a motor vehicle.

At 3:48 a.m., police found two males sitting in a vehicle parked in a lot in the 300 block of Valley Brook Ave. After learning that the driver, Jonathan Loewing, 20, of Manchester, was wanted on a $350 arrest warrant out of Point Pleasant, police arrested Loewing on the warrant. He was also charged with hindering after he allegedly gave police a false name. Read more »

News from the Nutley Police blotter



March 30

At about midnight, police were called to a Franklin Ave. location on a report of a hazardous condition. The caller told police the parking lot in front of a building was flooding, causing two to three inches of water to leak into the basement where, it was feared, the water could damage a boiler. The Fire Department responded and was advised by the building supervisor to shut it down, which they did. Fire officials told the supervisor to contact PSE&G to activate the boiler after the water is removed from the basement. At 6:06 a.m., police and fire personnel went to a Union Ave. residential building on a report of a carbon monoxide alarm. After confirming readings of CO inside the building, the Fire Dept. alerted PSE&G which remedied the problem. All tenants were notified of the situation, police said.

At 9:29 p.m., an attendant at a Franklin Ave. gas station contacted police to report he’d been assaulted by a customer. Police said the attendant told them that while pumping gas into a vehicle, he slipped, causing the nozzle to strike the vehicle, at which point, the driver – described as a bald, heavyset white male — exited a dark colored Hummer and hit the attendant once with a closed fist in the left side of his head and then drove away. Police said the attendant declined medical attention. Police said a review of the station’s video surveillance tape confirmed the altercation. Police then broadcast an alert to surrounding police agencies with no result.

March 31

At 9:08 a.m., police received a report of criminal mischief at a Franklin Ave. location. The owner of a vehicle parked on the block told police that during the night, someone had smashed his front windshield.

April 1

At 2:01 a.m., police said they found a vehicle with its windows heavily fogged and a male sleeping in the passenger seat while the vehicle was parked in a lot on Monsignor DeLuca Place. The occupant, Ashton Ailey, 23, of Howell, was arrested after police learned he had two outstanding warrants from Howell. He was released after posting bail and advised to contact Howell for a new court date.

At 6:54 p.m., a Washington Ave. resident called police to report the theft of a white wicker table valued at $200 from a backyard patio.

April 2

At 10:45 a.m., police received a report of criminal mischief at a Park Ave. location. Police said the victim told them that while they were at their landscaping storage area, someone cracked the windshield on a C5500 Chevrolet truck, causing $300 in damages, and had also tampered with the fuel tank on their Bobcat Skidsteer on two different occasions, causing a total of $931 in damages.

Also at 10:45 a.m., a burglary to an auto was reported at Bloomfield Ave. and High St. Police said someone cut out and removed the plow controls from the interior of a vehicle while it was parked on the property. Damage was estimated at about $500. Police are reviewing surveillance tape from the area.

At 4:46 p.m., police responded to a Franklin Ave. location on a report of a vehicle’s damaged rear window. The owner told police their car was parked at that location, opposite the Middle School, when his rear window was struck by a baseball, shattering it. Police said the ball had been hit over the fence during a practice being held by the high school baseball team. The owner was advised to contact the Board of Education.

– Ron Leir

Natural wonders nearby at DeKorte Park

NJMC_web1 black-crowned night heron

Photos courtesy NJMC At DeKorte Park’s shoreboard pool, visitors may spot a Black-crowned Night Heron (middle) or a Snowy Egret (bottom.).

Photos courtesy NJMC
At DeKorte Park’s shoreboard pool, visitors may spot a Black-crowned Night Heron (middle) or a Snowy Egret (bottom.).


By Anthony J. Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

Area residents searching for a way to shed winter’s cabin fever don’t need to search far and wide for an opportunity to surround themselves in nature.

At DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst, headquarters of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, nature-lovers from near and far can enjoy the wonders of nature, without having to travel far from their homes.

“DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst is really wonderful,” said NJMC Public Information Officer Brian Aberback. “It’s a true urban ecosystem.”

The NJMC was created in 1969 as an organization that sought to clean the meadowlands and clear the Hackensack River area of orphaned landfills and pollution.

Nearly 45 years later, the NJMC has advanced the cause, with the Hackensack River showing signs of revitalization.

“It wasn’t a pretty place,” said Aberback of the meadowlands in 1969. “This was a time when the Meadows was a wasteland. A regional organization was needed to do the proper cleanup.”

DeKorte Park itself, located at the eastern end of Valley Brook Ave. off Disposal Road, was created in 1982 to give the NJMC a headquarters that would draw “a line in the sand” to save more open wildlife space.

“We saved all this wonderful space from becoming a dumping ground,” said NJMC Communications Officer Jim Wright. “This was the line in the sand where you couldn’t build anymore.”

In total, DeKorte Park spans 110 acres of open wetland, filled with the unique mesh of ever-expanding wildlife and the constantly-growing New York City skyline.

“It’s an urban ecosystem,” Aberback explained. “If you’re driving on the Turnpike, you don’t catch the image (of the Meadowlands). It’s really neat because you’re in the middle of nowhere. You can see the Turnpike in the distance but you can never really hear it.”

Over the past few decades as the river has transitioned “from wasteland to economic jewel,” the park has grown, both in design and in wildlife.

“When the landfills got cleaned, the Hackensack River started getting cleaner,” Aberback said. “Over time, that brought back fish, birds and other wildlife back to the area.”

He continued, “You would never see all the animals that are here today, even like 15 years ago. Things just keep getting cleaner. Compared to what it used to be, it’s really incredible.”

According to Aberback, the park is home to over 280 different species of birds, many that have recently returned to the area with the river’s revitalization.

“DeKorte Park – like the entire Meadowlands District – is located along the Atlantic flyway, one of three major routes used by migratory birds in North America,” Aberback explained.

Wright added, “This is a great place to go birding. Recently, we had 20 people out here looking for the Yellowheaded Blackbird.”

Throughout the years, the park has received dozens of awards for its design, including a Merit Award for Communication from the American Society of Landscape Architects, New Jersey (NJASLA) for signage throughout the park and a Merit Award for Design for the World Trade Center Memorial at the park.

Aberback credits the park’s designers on the awards and the park’s consistent beauty.

“The award-winning park was designed by the NJMC’s certified landscape architects, who worked closely with wetlands scientists, wildlife specialists, and solid waste engineers,” Aberback explained. “Six distinct areas have been developed over 20 years using native plants, recycled materials and sustainable techniques to support the agency’s environmental mandate.”

The park features over 3.5 miles of trails, allowing parkgoers to delve deeper into nature, either by themselves or in guided tours.

However, walking through the park isn’t the only way to experience nature at DeKorte.

During the summer, the NJMC runs boat trips out of River Barge Park in Carlstadt that take visitors throughout the Meadowlands including past DeKorte Park.

“It’s a great way to explore the river,” Aberback said. “We mostly do them during sunset on weekdays throughout the summer. It’s just a great way to see the river.”

Even after sunset, the park continues to provide natural entertainment, with the William D. McDowell Observatory.

The observatory allows stargazers to study planets, constellations and other celestial bodies through a research-grade, highpowered telescope and staff explains what the viewer is seeing.

Aberback said that, regardless of the season, he enjoys being in the park.

“It seems like I always discover something new when I’m out in the park,” Aberback explained. “It can be a bird I’ve never seen before or a flower that I may have passed dozens of times but caught my eye.”

Aberback’s not alone in enjoying the park, as he noted that more than 50,000 people – including 15,000 schoolchildren – visit the park on a yearly basis.

Above everything else, Aberback believes it’s the park’s blend of rural and urban visuals that attracts many of the park’s visitors.

“Overall, it’s the beauty and tranquility of the place,” Aberback said. “When you look and see the Turnpike and the Manhattan skyline in the distance, it’s hard to believe you’re so close, yet so far removed from the daily hustle and bustle. It’s a truly amazing place.”

For more information on DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst, or any of the other NJMC parks, visit www.njmeadowlands. gov. The park is open from dawn until dusk every day. The William D. McDowell Observatory is open in the evenings, from 8 to 10 p.m. in April, 8:30 to 10 p.m. in May; from 9 to 10:30 p.m. in June and July; and from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. in August.

Business Review: Comforting the bereaved for 6 decades


Photos by Anthony Machcinski Interior and exterior of Mulligan Funeral Home.

Photos by Anthony Machcinski
Interior and exterior of Mulligan Funeral Home.


By Anthony J. Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

Since the late 1800s, the Mulligan family has served generations of Harrison residents. The last three generations of Mulligans, including Frank Mulligan III, have served Harrison through Mulligan Funeral Home.

“It means a lot to me to carry on my family’s legacy,” explained Mulligan III. “It means a lot to carry on the name and I hope they’re proud of me.”

The Mulligan family name is embedded deep within the roots of Harrison. John Mulligan, an Irish immigrant, came to Harrison and opened a coal and ice business on Harrison Ave. His son, Aloysius Mulligan, built the original home and his doctor’s office at 331 Cleveland Ave., and was soon followed by his son in the family practice.

In 1946, Frank Mulligan Sr. was en route to continuing the family doctor’s practice, but was unable to continue his education following World War II. With several credits completed, Mulligan Sr. was able to attend mortuary school in New York City under the G.I. Bill and later opened Mulligan’s Funeral Home.

Since then the Mulligan family business has remained at the same Cleveland Ave. location. Frank Sr.’s son, Frank Jr., and his late wife Judith purchased the business upon his father’s retirement in 1982.

Mulligan III started working at the funeral home in high school, helping people around the funeral home; however, he never intended to get into the family business.

After obtaining a degree in oceanography from the University of Rhode Island and finding that the job wasn’t really for him, he began working as an intern at the funeral home and discovered his true passion, helping others in a time of need.

“At first, I didn’t think you could find satisfaction in such a job or vocation,” Mulligan explained. “I saw that there was satisfaction in helping people through a tough time in their lives. That was something that attracted me to it.”

Mulligan explained that in order to help the bereaved, he and his staff have to toe the line between comforting and focusing on their job.

“You want to identify with them, but you have a job to do and you want to make it the best experience you can for them,” Mulligan said.

Mulligan said what is most rewarding, is the gratitude he receives from families after the services.

“When the funeral is over and the people tell you that you made the experience that much better, that’s the satisfaction,” Mulligan said. “We try to treat the family as if they were like our own and guide them through the decisions that they have to make.”

While Mulligan may not have expected to become a funeral director, he believes that carrying on the family’s legacy is a great honor.

“It means more to me now than I ever thought it would,” Mulligan explained. “I wasn’t really thinking of that when I wanted to be an oceanographer. As I got older, there’s no better honor that can be bestowed upon me (than to carry on the family’s tradition).”

He continued, “I realized carrying on the family’s name is huge because so many funeral homes over the years have sold out to larger corporations. Although the name continues, there’s no one in the funeral home with that name. It’s a big honor to carry on the name.”

As for the future of the business, Mulligan hopes to continue building on the family’s legacy.

“I plan on carrying on my family’s name and always thought of expanding,” Mulligan said. “But for now, I hope to serve families in the West Hudson and surrounding areas with the highest level of dignity and respect the best way that we can.”

Mulligan Funeral Home is located at 331 Cleveland Ave. in Harrison. For more information, visit the website at www.mulliganfuneralhome.org or call 973-481-4333.

Then & Now

Photo courtesy George Rogers Collection

Photo courtesy George Rogers Collection


Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

The old postcard view of the Kearny Town Hall is undated, but it had to be taken before June 9, 1913 (we’ll explain in a moment). The building was constructed in 1909 for an estimated $65,000. Its crowning glory was the tall tower/cupola, bearing stone urns and a clock on each side and capped by a small metal dome and spire, referred to by locals as ‘The Oil Can.’ (Look closely at the very top and see the resemblance.) A 1910 architectural journal called the tower ‘especially interesting as it is strongly reminiscent of colonial work.’ As recorded in a 1984 history of the building by Town Historian Jessie M. Hipp: ‘(On) June 9, 1913, the Town Hall’s tower and spire met with disaster when struck by a bolt of lightning, causing severe damage to stone work on the tower, even cracking plaster in the offi ce of Police Chief William Tolen in the Hall basement. Newspaper accounts said . . . Superintendent of Fire Alarms George Smack, Mayor Louis Brock and his son, Louis Jr., Town Clerk William Ross and Street Commissioner Durkin were in the tower making an inspection when the bolt struck. Though stunned, none suffered any harm. For public safety, the damaged tower and spire were removed . . . leaving the appearance of Kearny Town Hall as it is today.’ And aside from the landscaping and the addition, it still looks basically the same.

– Karen Zautyk

Around Town


Bloomfield Public Library, 90 Broad St., will hold an egg hunt for kids ages 18 months to 5 only on April 16 at 11 a.m.

The library said that Monday and Thursday movie programs are postponed until May while the theater stage is under construction.


Belleville Elks Lodge 1123, 254 Washington Ave., hosts a fish fry on Friday, April 11, from 5 to 8 p.m. Cost is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and $6 for a children’s chicken dinner. Proceeds will help send a special needs child to Elks Camp Moore.


Holy Cross Church sponsors an Atlantic City bus trip on Sunday, April 13, to the Taj Mahal, leaving at 10 a.m. from Holy Cross School. Refreshments will be served starting at 9:15 a.m. in the school basement. A donation of $30 is requested ($25 return in slot play). For reservations, call Joan at 973- 481-2434 or Marie (Spanish) at 973-481-1799. Leave your name, phone number and number attending.

Harrison Business Connections hosts a luncheon April 10 at noon at the Hampton Inn and Suites, Harrison- Newark Riverwalk. Harrison Mayor James Fife will provide an update on Harrison redevelopment projects. More information can be found at http://HBCevents. eventbrite.com. Harrison Business Connections can be found online at www.HarrisonBusinessConnections.com and www.facebook. com/HarrisonBusinessConnections.


Comunidade Evangelica Vida Abudante (Abundant Life Evangelical Community Church), 151 Midland Ave., hosts a blood drive on April 14 from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Donors must be age 16 (with parental consent) and older and weigh at least 110 pounds. People ages 75 and older can donate if they bring a doctor’s note.

Franklin School PTA hosts Breakfast with the Easter Bunny at Applebee’s on April 12, from 8 to 10 a.m. Tickets are $10 and must be purchased at the door.

Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., announces:

• Art for pre-schoolers will be held on Tuesday, April 15, from 11 a.m. to noon. The library supplies materials. Art class for ages 5 and older will be held from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

• A performance by Uncle John’s Puppets will be held on Thursday, April 17, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

• Disney Double Feature screens “The Jungle Book” at 1 p.m. and “The Jungle Book 2” at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 16.

Registration is not required for these programs, but seating is limited.

Kearny High School’s Project Graduation sponsors a volleyball tournament on Friday, April 25, in the school’s gymnasium, 336 Devon St. Contact Melissa Dyl for information at 201- 978-8257. There will be a 50/50 raffle Friday, June 20, following graduation ceremonies. The winner need not be present. Tickets are $10. To purchase or sell tickets, contact Sandy Hyde at 551-265-8969.

Kearny High School PTA presents “Rocking with Rod Stewart,” a performance by Jay Gates, on April 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Irish American Club, 95 Kearny Ave. The $25 admission includes refreshments, cash bar and a small raffle. Call Denise at 201-428- 8572 for more information or to purchase tickets.

St. Cecilia Church, 114 Chestnut St., holds a flea market on Saturday, April 12. For more information, call 201-991-1116. Vendors are welcome. All proceeds benefit St. Cecilia Parish. Donations are kindly accepted.

Volunteers are invited to help clean up the Passaic River and surrounding area at the Frank Vincent Marina on Saturday, April 12, from 9:30 a.m. to noon. For more information, call Councilwoman Carol Jean Doyle at 201-991-4795.

West Hudson Christian Center, 557 Kearny Ave., hosts a rock n’ roll Easter event for families on Saturday, April 12, from 1 to 3 p.m., with an indoor Easter egg hunt for ages 2 to 10, starting at 2 p.m., plus crafts, games, egg painting and refreshments. All families receive a free 8-by-10-inch digital photo for stopping by. To pre-register or for questions, visit www.whccag.org.


The Lyndhurst Food Pantry, 253 Stuyvesant Ave., is collecting hams, turkeys and lasagna for the holidays and non-perishable food items (dry cereal, peanut butter, puddings, juices, etc.). Donors are reminded to check expiration dates on food. Expired items will be discarded. Woman’s Club volunteers are at the pantry Monday to Thursday, from 1 to 3:30 p.m.

Anyone in need of food is asked to contact Sarah at the Lyndhurst Health Center, 601 Riverside Ave. Recipients must show proof of residency and need. Once registered, recipients are entitled to food once a month. Call Sara at 201-804-2500.

Registration is required for the following children’s programs at the Lyndhurst Public Library, 355 Valley Brook Ave.

• Screening of “It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown” for pre-k to grade 4 on Monday, April 14, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

• Ladybug Craft – Children in grades 1 to 4 are welcome on Monday, April 28, from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m.

• Comic/manga and anime trivia contest on Wednesday, April 16, from 6 to 7 p.m., for grades 6 to 8. Email lyndref@ bccls.org or call 201- 804-2478, ext. 4 to register.

Lyndhurst Health Department, 601 Riverside Avenue, Suite 1, offers:

• Thyroid Health Forum, hosted by Lyndhurst chiropractor Marco Ferrucci, on Friday, April 11, at 10 a.m. A light breakfast and refreshments will be served.

• Free Women’s Health Clinic, in partnership with Clara Maass Medical Center, on April 25, at 9 a.m., providing education on breast self-examination and a pap smear. This event is open to female township residents age 18 and older.

For appointments and reservations, call the Health Department at 201-804-2500.

Polish American Citizens Club, 730 New Jersey Ave., presents a Polka Mass dinner dance on Saturday, April 26, from 6 to 11:30 p.m. Tickets are $35. For tickets, call Alice at 201-935-3830 or Loretta at 201-438-3513.

Ticket deadline is April 12 for Sacred Heart Home School’s Calendar Party Tricky Tray fundraiser on Friday, May 2, at the school, 620 Valley Brook Ave. Tickets are $20 and non-refundable. No one under 18 will be admitted and no alcoholic beverages are permitted. For tickets, call Patty at 201-803- 9580 or the school at 201- 939-4277.

New Jersey Meadowlands Commission announces:

• Mixed Media Nature Sketching for teens and adults on Saturday, April 12, from 1 to 3 p.m., weather permitting, at the NJMC Science Center, 3 DeKorte Park Plaza. No experience necessary. Experiment with pencil, charcoal, ink, and watercolor pencils. Borrow basic art supplies or bring your own. Cost is $20/person; $16/MEC members. To register, go to www.njmeadowlands.gov/ec.

• Free Birding for Beginners class at the Meadowlands Environment Center in DeKorte Park, on Sunday, April 13, at 1 p.m. To register, contact Don Torino of the Bucks County Audubon Society (BCAS) at greatauk4@ aol.com or 201-230-4983.

• Third-Tuesday-of-the- Month Bird Walk with the NJMC and BCAS on Tuesday, April 15, from 10 a.m. to noon, at Harrier Meadow in North Arlington. Check meadowblog.net for last-minute updates. Participants are asked to sign a standard liability release good for NJMC/BCAS events year-round. To R.S.V.P., contact Don Torino of the BCAS at greatauk4@aol.com.

North Arlington

North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Rd., announces:

• Author Michael Heath discusses his book “Garlic Bread for Eugene” on Tuesday, April 15, at 6 p.m. This program is recommended for children ages 9 to 12. Books will be available to purchase.

• Friends of the Library meets Friday, April 18, at 10:30 a.m.

• “Woman’s Club Craft” for grades K to 5 meets on Tuesday, April 22, at 6 p.m. Registration is required. Call 201-955-5640, ext. 126. To register, just leave a message.

Senior Harmony Club announces the following trips:

• Sands Casino on Thursday, April 24. For reservations or information, call Florence at 201-991-3173.

• Westchester Broadway Theater to see the musical “Ragtime” on Thursday, May 1. Reservations must be made ASAP. Call Anna at 201-939- 2960.


Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 120 Prospect St., hosts the following:

• Fish-Fry, catered by Thistle Restaurant, on Friday, April 11. Tickets are $15. Take-out is from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and dining- in from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tickets are for sale in advance only. To purchase tickets, visit the rectory Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., or after any weekend Mass.

• Home-made Pasta Dinner on Saturday, May 3, at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, and $6 for children age 12 and younger. Visit the rectory to purchase tickets. All proceeds benefit the church’s CCD program.

Registration is open for the Nutley Parks and Recreation Department’s “Let’s Get Moving,” for ages 3 to 5, to refine motor skills and increase balance. Classes begin April 22. Two sessions are available: Tuesdays at 1 p.m. or Thursdays at 9:15 a.m. Online registration is available at nutleynj. my.gov-i.com/recreation or at the Recreation Department, 44 Park Ave, reachable at 973-284-4966.

Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Dr., announces:

• Donations for a book sale will be collected from Monday, April 21, to Wednesday, April 23. The sale is April 24-26, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Proceeds help support library programs and collections. For more information, call the library at 973-667-0405 or email library@nutleynj.org.

Registration is required for the following Nutley resident children’s programs:

• Earth Day Story Time, for children under 18, on Monday, April 14, at 7 p.m. Register online at http://nutleypubliclibrary.org/youthservices. • Lego Scavenger Hunt on Tuesday, April 15, at 11 a.m.

• Independent readers ages 5 to 12 can improve their literacy skills by reading to a certified therapy dog on Saturday, April 19, at 2 p.m.

• Babygarten, for ages 23 months and under, will be held at 9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday, April 11.

• Paint a Pot, Plant a Flower, for ages 12 and under, on Wednesday, April 16, at 1:30 p.m. Sign-Up at http://nutleypubliclibrary.org/youthservices.

• Preschool Story Time, for ages 3 to 5, on Wednesday, April 23, at 9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.

• Two-Year-Old Story Time on Friday, April 25, at 9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.

• Lego Live Action Game on Thursday, April 17, at 2 p.m. No registration is required.

Golden Bears softball team now led by newcomer Ringen

Photo by Jim Hague The Lyndhurst softball team welcomes new head coach Emily Ringen (far l.). Front row, from l. are Brooke Laverty, Jenna DiTommaso, Caroline Beatrice and Nicole Goya (no longer with the team). Back row, from l., are Ringen, Bianca Fata, Sarah Brading, Grace Tomko, Alyssa Pipon, Dina Ingenito and assistant coach Diana Auteri.

Photo by Jim Hague
The Lyndhurst softball team welcomes new head coach Emily Ringen (far l.). Front row, from l. are Brooke Laverty, Jenna DiTommaso, Caroline Beatrice and Nicole Goya (no longer with the team). Back row, from l., are Ringen, Bianca Fata, Sarah Brading, Grace Tomko, Alyssa Pipon, Dina Ingenito and assistant coach Diana Auteri.


By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

At age 25, Emily Ringen never thought she could become a head high school softball coach.

But it was always a goal and a dream of Ringen, a native of Pequannock who was also a catcher at SUNY-Cortland during her college days.

“It was a dream of mine since I first started playing softball,” Ringen said. “I always wanted to be a coach.”

For two years, Ringen served as an assistant at her high school alma mater Pequannock, but when the head coaching position opened up at Lyndhurst High School, where Ringen was already a physical education for two years, she jumped at the chance.

“I already was volunteering with the kids, working on their hitting,” Ringen said. “When (former head coach) Elaine (Catanese) told me she was stepping down to have a baby, I thought it would be awesome.”

Sure enough, Ringen got the job as head coach – and has hit the ground running with the Golden Bears.

“The kids have responded well,” Ringen said. “I’ve been truly blessed with a fantastic group. Elaine helped by giving me pointers on what I should do, but I have a great group. (Assistant) Coach (Diana) Auteri and I have been working side-by-side. She takes charge of the infield and I handle the pitchers and catchers.”

Ringen said that the players have been very positive.

“I’m very fortunate to have a team that has a good knowledge of the game and that is very thirsty to win,” Ringen said. “We have a very determined, dedicated and talented group.”

Although the team lost standout pitcher Casey Zdanek to graduation, the Golden Bears have junior Jenny Tellefsen to take over. The righthander has been outstanding moving to the mound.

“She’s a very powerful pitcher,” Ringen said. “She’s an elite player. She plays softball all year round. She’s very strong. She’s stepped right into a different role than she was used to and has been outstanding.”

Tellefsen is also a solid hitter as well.

“If her bat stays hot, I’ll be very happy,” Ringen said.

Sophomore Monica Laverty is the team’s new catcher.

“She’s the main piece of the team, working with Tellefsen,” Ringen said. “She has stepped right in and done a great job. Being a catcher myself, I look after her. I try to establish a language with her. But she has a lot of potential. She’s our No. 2 hitter in the lineup.”

Fellow sophomore Giana Nerney is the backup catcher, but she will also get some time behind the plate.

Senior Alyssa Pipon is the team’s first baseman. She has been a member of the Golden Bears’ varsity for three years.

“She’s a very good hitter,” Ringen said. “I have her in the lead-off spot.”

Senior Jenna DiTommaso is the starting second baseman.

“She’s a great fielder,” Ringen said of DiTomasso, who had three RBI in the Golden Bears’ season-opening win over Dwight-Englewood.

Senior Grace Tomko is the mainstay at shortstop. Tomko is a talented three-sport (soccer, swimming and softball) standout.

“She’s leaving this year, but I wish I could keep her for about eight more years,” Ringen said. “She’s one of a kind. She’s the team leader and one of our captains. She does it all.”

Senior Caroline Beatrice is the new third baseman.

“She shared time last year, but it’s her spot now,” Ringen said. “I joked with Elaine that she left me an awesome senior class. Caroline is proof of that.”

Senior Brooke Laverty, Monica’s older sister, is the starting left fielder. “She’s done more teaching than anyone,” Ringen said. “She’s a very determined player who has that extra drive.” Senior Dina Ingenito is the starting centerfielder.

“Dina is a good athlete and a leader out there,” Ringen said. “She has such a love for the game and I think it’s spreading to the others.”

Right field duties are being shared by junior Kayleigh O’Rourke and freshman Christine Porta.

“Christina is a good athlete who I can play anywhere,” Ringen said.

The Golden Bears have senior Sarah Brading as a back-up pitcher to Tellefsen.

“She’s also going to find a way to sneak into the lineup,” Ringen said. “She’s going to see time on the mound.”

The Golden Bears suffered a setback when Bianca Fata suffered a knee injury during basketball. Anterior cruciate ligament surgery was recommended, forcing Fata to the sidelines for the entire season.

“She’s going to be a part of the team on the sidelines,” Ringen said of Fata. “She’s going to finish out her senior year with this group.”

The Golden Bears are a happy bunch, led by the young and energetic coach.

“They’re teaching me more than I’m teaching them,” Ringen said. “I’m still learning, but I love it. This team talks about goals and mention one thing every day.” That would be the “threepeat” of championships in the Northern Jersey Interscholastic League-Meadowlands Division. “They’re going for the ‘three-peat,’” Ringen said. “I’m going for the one-peat. They talk about that goal every day and we’re going to use it as motivation.”

Sounds like this team doesn’t need much to get ready for local and state playoff runs.

Fischer returns as Belleville football coach

Photo by Jim Hague Joe Fischer stands above Doc Ellis Field in Belleville, where he will be on the sidelines again as the Belleville High School head football coach. Fischer coached the Buccaneers for four seasons from 2004 through 2007 and was appointed recently as the Bucs’ head coach for 2014.

Photo by Jim Hague
Joe Fischer stands above Doc Ellis Field in Belleville, where he will be on the sidelines again as the Belleville High School head football coach. Fischer coached the Buccaneers for four seasons from 2004 through 2007 and was appointed recently as the Bucs’ head coach for 2014.


By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

When Joe Fischer stepped down as the Belleville High School football coach in 2007, the year he led the Buccaneers to their last appearance in the NJSIAA state playoffs, he cited family reasons behind his resignation.

“My kids were young at the time,” Fischer said. “It was the right thing to do.”

But a little more than a year ago, Fischer got the inkling that he wanted to return to coaching football. He already was coaching the track team at Belleville, so he was involved in coaching something. Fischer never left teaching at Belleville since he arrived a decade ago.

“I interviewed for a few jobs,” said Fischer, who was a finalist for the West Orange head football coaching position last year. “The itch to return has been back for a while. My kids are older now. The time was right to come back.”

So when John Dubuque resigned at the end of last football season at Belleville, Fischer thought that the time was right for a comeback.

Fischer’s comeback became official recently when the Belleville Board of Education appointed Fischer to be Dubuque’s replacement.

“The facilities now are much better than when I left,” Fischer said. “The number of kids wanting to play football is bigger. The schedule isn’t as bad as it was. Those are probably the three major reasons why I came back, but there are so many reasons why I came back. There’s a weight lifting and conditioning coach now. That’s so much less of a burden.”

Fischer spent four seasons as the head coach at Belleville, after he turned around a totally moribund program at Montclair Kimberley Academy and led MKA to two victories in the NJSIAA state playoffs.

When Fischer arrived at Belleville, the program was in the midst of the state’s longest losing streak. The Buccaneers lost all 10 games in Fischer’s first season in 2004, but Fischer was the head coach when the Bucs defeated Paterson Eastside in October of 2005, snapping the streak at 33 games.

Fischer had a 10-30 record in his four seasons as Belleville head coach.

“I’m very excited about coming back to be the head coach,” Fischer said. “I’m ready for Nutley right now. I wish the football season started tomorrow.”

The Buccaneers open the 2014 season against the neighboring rivals.

The Belleville football program has been down over the last few years, winning just five games and losing 25 over the last three years.

“Things have been a mess for a while,” Fischer said. “But things have obviously changed since I was the head coach at Belleville. I have a big advantage over when I took over in 2004. I know the kids already because I teach here and I coach track. It’s not the worst program around. I know my work is cut out for me, but I’m ready.”

Fischer said that he has been busy already interviewing candidates to join his coaching staff.

“I was talking to Ken Trimmer (the legendary head coach at Caldwell) and he asked me why I wanted to go back. I told him that I’m going to get a chance to prove that I’m a good coach. I love teaching here. I love the kids. I’m ingrained here. I might have left coaching, but I never left Belleville. I truly believe that we have talent here that we can groom.”

Fischer has already seen signs that the kids are eager to play.

“We have had as many as 30 kids in the weight room getting ready,” Fischer said. “I have a bunch of football kids running track for me.”

Fischer said that he would love to implement a youth football program in the Belleville middle school.

“I love going to the middle school and getting to know those kids,” Fischer said. “We have to try to hook them at that level before they get swooped up by the parochial schools. In 2005, we didn’t lose many kids to the parochial schools. You have to have a connection with the middle school kids now. I want to have some sort of a feeder program.”

Fischer said that there’s talent in the players that are returning in the fall.

“We have several kids that are back,” Fischer said. “We have four offensive linemen back. We have a quarterback and a wide receiver. We have about 10 talented kids who didn’t play football last year. We just have to fill some holes, but we’re in much better shape than we were when I took over in 2004.”

Fischer said that there’s one thing in mind right now.“My goal for now is to beat Nutley,” Fischer said. “That’s the first game. I’m very excited and I think the kids are excited. We’re ready to go.”

So is Fischer’s son, Joey, who is 13 now.

“He’s going to have a ball being with us,” Fischer said.

So is Fischer, especially when he’s manning the sidelines of Doc Ellis Field like he did a decade ago, leading the Buccaneers from the doldrums of the state’s longest losing streak to the NJSIAA state playoffs. He’s worked wonders in the past. Chances are that he could again.

Kearny’s Sawyer throws no-hitter in debut

Photo by Jim Hague Kearny sophomore pitcher Corey Sawyer.

Photo by Jim Hague
Kearny sophomore pitcher Corey Sawyer.

By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

When Corey Sawyer transferred from St. Joseph of Montvale to Kearny High School last fall, he didn’t know what to expect, except that he wanted to play baseball for the Kardinals.

“I knew a lot of people on the team, so I was really excited to play,” Sawyer said. Kearny head baseball coach Frank Bifulco knew that Sawyer had potential, especially as a pitcher.

“The first time I saw him throw, I noticed he had natural left-handed movement,” Bifulco said. “I thought he could really help us.”

Sawyer was placed in right field for the first Kardinal scrimmage. Things didn’t exactly go well.

“The first scrimmage, he dropped three fly balls in the outfield,” Bifulco said. “I pulled him out of the game and talked to him. I told him he had to relax. I knew he had this quiet confidence, but he wore his emotions on his sleeve.”

During the preseason, Bifulco told the sophomore that he was going to be part of the Kardinals’ pitching rotation, especially after an impressive three-inning scoreless stint in a scrimmage against Nutley.

“I was happy to be one of the starting pitchers,” Sawyer said. “I was really proud to be selected. I did well in that game against Nutley. That gave me a feel for what it would be like in an actual game.”

However, no one could have ever imagined what Sawyer would do in his very first start with the Kardinals last week against perennial power Memorial of West New York.

Before the start, assistant coach Dave Smart spent a lot of time with Sawyer, working on his curveball.

“We knew we had to work on his curve, because his ball moves,” Bifulco said. “Dave did a great job with Corey before the start. They worked on getting the curve over.”

“I worked on bringing my arm back,” Sawyer said. “Everything was coming out too short, so I worked on getting that curve over. I wasn’t so confident with it. But it was good the day of the game.” During warm-ups, Sawyer felt strong about his pitches.

“Before the game, I was nervous,” Sawyer said. “But it was good in warm-ups, so I wanted to take it into the game.”

Sure enough, Sawyer was on from the start. Like dead on.

“One batter turned to three and then there was an inning,” Bifulco said. “He was throwing real well.”

“By the fourth inning, I felt really good,” Sawyer said. Sawyer was mowing down the Tigers, batter after batter. After four innings, then five, he had not allowed a single hit. Did Sawyer realize he was working on a precious no-hitter?

“Yeah, I did, but I didn’t want to say anything,” Sawyer said.

Baseball folklore says that if anyone dares to talk about a nohitter, before it actually takes place, that it’s bad luck.

However, it’s not too bad when the head coach doesn’t realize something magical is taking place.

“I only realized it after it was over,” Bifulco said. “I was sitting in the dugout when it hit me that he didn’t let up a hit. I had to look at the scorebook. I then told Mr. (Doug) Gogal (another Kearny assistant coach) that Corey had a no-hitter.”

With the Kardinals holding a slim 2-0 lead, Sawyer got into his only difficulty in the seventh inning.

“I walked the first guy, then the second batter reached on an error,” Sawyer said. “I had to bear down a little.”

Sawyer struck out the next batter, then induced the final batter to ground into a double play.

“I grabbed Mr. Gogal and said, `There it is, he just threw a no-hitter.’”

Sure enough, in his very first varsity start, Sawyer pitched a no-hitter, striking out seven and walking just two in the 2-0 Kearny victory.

“I had to tell everyone, because I knew Corey wouldn’t,” Bifulco said. “He just went out and pitched a great game. The players behind him played well and Corey would turn around and show his support. Everyone just went out there to get him.”

For his efforts, Sawyer has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week, the first such honoree in the spring scholastic sports season.

Sawyer knew that he created some history.

“Everyone who has ever been a pitcher, from Little League to the major leagues all dream about pitching a no-hitter,” Sawyer said. “I was just trying to focus on one batter and getting him out, then going to the next. I knew Memorial is a very good team, so I had to work hard.”

Imagine that. In his first-ever varsity start, Sawyer pitched the pinnacle.

“I can’t say that I’m surprised, because I knew he had talent,” Bifulco said. “But it is a surprising thing in the fact it was his first start. We knew the kid could throw. This just shows his promise and what he can do. He’s going to be a big part of what we do. He really has this quiet confidence about him. He just came out and showed that confidence.”

So what does Sawyer do for an encore? Everyone will have to see Wednesday, when he faces another perennial power in North Bergen.

“It feels pretty good right now,” Sawyer said. “I know everyone will be watching me now.”

All eyes on the No-Hit Kid.

New Kearny entry; borough war

Photo courtesy Jonathan Giordano Jonathan Giordano

Photo courtesy Jonathan Giordano
Jonathan Giordano

Here are the latest political developments for other upcoming municipal elections in West Hudson:

In Kearny, longtime Town Council incumbent Laura Cifelli-Pettigrew, a Democrat, will be calling it quits when her term expires on Dec. 31. Running in her stead for a Second Ward council seat is newcomer Jonathan Giordano, a local businessman and a member of the Kearny Planning Board.

Giordano will be on the same Democratic ticket as Town Council incumbents Albino Cardoso (First Ward), Eileen Eckel (Third Ward) and Susan McCurrie (Fourth Ward). All are running under the banner Regular Democratic Organization of Kearny.

No Republicans filed nominating petitions to run. Independents, if any, don’t file until Primary Day, June 3. Mayor Alberto Santos, a Democrat, won’t be up for reelection until 2017.

Asked why she chose not to run again, Cifelli-Pettigrew, a teacher at Harrison’s Washington Middle School, said: “I’m just done. Fourteen years on the council, and before that, four years on the school board, and prior to that, several years at St. Cecilia on the parish council, school board and food pantry. I’m done with meetings. I was fully extended. And now, my son and his wife just had twins, my daughter bought a new home. I’m going to stay home and cook and be happy.

Photo courtesy Laura Cifelli-Pettigrew Laura Cifelli-Pettigrew

Photo courtesy Laura Cifelli-Pettigrew
Laura Cifelli-Pettigrew

Cifelli-Pettigrew, who has been in the classroom 25 years, said she plans to “continuing teaching a few more years.” And she plans to continue attending Board of Education meetings but she says there’s “no truth to the rumors about me running for school board.” Looking back on her council tenure, she said she takes pride in playing a role in returning control of the previously outsourced water department to Kearny and persuading Rich Ferraioli to come back from the private sector and run it. Her biggest disappointment is not seeing development of a train station off Bergen Ave. which, she said, could have resulted in an influx of new residents to Kearny.

Giordano, a lifelong Kearny resident, is owner/operator of a family carpentry business on Arlington Ave., has served on the Planning Board for the past five years.

“The mayor had asked me to consider running a few years ago,” Giordano said, “and I respectfully declined. This time it’s after the [Sandy-triggered] flood, I’m trying to rebuild my shop and I figured I could probably manage that. I have no plans of leaving this town. I want to see what I can do to try and make it better and inject the opinion of the business owner.”

Photos courtesy Michael Magliotti Gianni Donates (l.) and Michael Magliotti

Photos courtesy Michael Magliotti
Gianni Donates (l.) and Michael Magliotti

Santos said that Giordano “is very aware of the core issues involving the Second Ward,” and, in particular, the problem of flooding.

A year ago, Giordano’s business was approved for a loan from the Kearny Urban Enterprise Zone Corp. for improvements related to a proposed conversion of a vacant property to accommodate an indoor gun range but the loan application has since been amended to fund a reconstruction of a portion of Arlington Ave. owned by the business, according to Santos.

If Giordano is elected, and “should any matter relating to his business come before the council for deliberation, [Giordano] would recuse himself from voting,” Santos said.

In East Newark, political newcomers Gianni Donates and Michael Magliotti, who are aligned under the slogan, “Put East Newark First,” will be opposing incumbents Hans Peter Lucas and Jeanne Zincavage for Borough Council seats in the June Democratic Primary.

Zincavage has been on the council since 2001 while Lucas served initially from January 1983 to December 1985 and was re-elected in November 1993. They are running under the banner of the Hudson County Regular Democratic Organization.

Magliotti, who has owned and operated a local contracting business for the past four years, said he and Donates, a CPA, aim to cut “wasteful spending” by the borough and provide more transparency.

“The borough website isn’t updated, there are lawsuits by former police officers suing over money owed them, we had to pay outside contractors for snow removal this winter, there’s no recreation for our kids and what little play area we have gets too crowded, our kids are not prepared to go into high school, and yet we’re facing a 7% [municipal] tax increase,” Magliotti said.

– Ron Leir