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‘Sober House’ rattles residents

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By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY –

The corner house at Grand Place and Stewart Ave. doesn’t really stand out in any particular way, but it’s drawn a lot of attention from neighbors – and not in a good way. Many packed the assembly chambers at last Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting to demand that the town take action to kick out its new occupants, clients of a “recovery house.”

And the town is taking steps to do just that if the building’s owner and tenant fail to comply with various building code and zoning-related violation notices.

But the new tenant insists that when the dust clears, folks will see there’ll be nothing to worry about. Read more »

2nd hotel signals growth

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By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 

HARRISON – 

The town of Harrison, with a current population of about 14,000 but growing thanks to several new residential projects rising in its waterfront redevelopment area, now has a second hotel.

It is the Element Harrison, the brand’s second hotel in New Jersey, along with the Element in Ewing Township, just outside Princeton.

The 138-room facility off Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. S. is just steps away from the Harrison PATH station and across the street from the Red Bull Arena.

Its construction – developed at a cost pegged at $43 million – comes a decade after the development of the 165-room Hampton Inn & Suites on the Harrison Riverwalk, close to the border of downtown Newark. Read more »

A harvest of plenty in special garden

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By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent 

HARRISON– 

Somewhere in Harrison, there is a magical place. If we were telling this story as a fairy tale, it would begin:

Once upon a time, there was a small plot of land on which a happy home had stood. But one day, the king’s men came and tore the house down, leaving the land lonely and forsaken. Soon, bad people found the place and used it as a trash heap, and it got uglier and lonelier, because the king’s men didn’t do anything about cleaning it up.

Good people who lived nearby would try to remove the litter, but the bad people always came back and dumped some more.

Then, an angel appeared. We will call her a Gardening Angel. And she planted lots of wonderful things, which grew to giant size and which she shared with her neighbors. Read more »

Vino, verily, arriving soon

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By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY –

Starting next month, the Kearny Farmers Market will be offering a new, sweet treat as part of the fresh, Jersey-grown produce for its patrons.

We’re talking vino, folks.

The town governing body voted last Tuesday night to permit the Four Sisters Winery in Warren County to conduct wine tasting and sales on specified Thursdays – Oct. 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 – at the Farmers Market on Garfield St.

That’s contingent on state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board approval. Read more »

Town OKs Passaic Ave. builders’ deal

KEARNY – 

Kearny is another step closer to seeing new commercial development along its Passaic Ave. corridor, close to its East Newark border.

The town’s governing body signed off last Tuesday night on a three-year redevelopment agreement for a portion of the Passaic Ave. Redevelopment Area with DVL Kearny Holdings LLC and its principals Alan Casnoff of Philadelphia and Lawrence J. Cohen of New York.

Key to that mobilization is construction of a BJ’s Wholesale Club on the east side of Passaic Ave. which will be positioned as the “anchor” of several new retail stores planned for the area near ShopRite.

Eric R. Ballou, principal of InSite Engineering, the Wall Township firm hired by DVL to assist with the project, told the mayor and Town Council that DVL expected to begin disconnecting utilities at older retail properties on the mall site shortly before tearing down those structures, starting in November.

Then, the firm figures it will be undertaking “infrastructure, beginning early next year, for the BJ’s project,” Ballou said.

Under terms of the redeveloper agreement, DVL must pay the town $50,000 a year in “administrative fees” plus consultant fees by Oct. 1 and each year thereafter until the town has issued a certificate of completion for the project. However, the fee will be adjusted downward based on a formula keyed to the “gross building area of the new buildings” completed.

Those new buildings will be an 87,788 square foot structure to be leased to BJ’s Wholesale Club, a 35,000 square foot, one-story structure to house one retail client and a 17,000 square foot, one-story structure that will house five smaller retail tenants. Other than BJ’s, no other tenancies have yet been announced by DVL.

Additionally, the agreement calls for DVL to pay the town $90,000 in administrative fees owned for 2013 and 2014 for which DVL was “in arrears from prior redeveloper agreements.”

DVL must also provide to the town $184,000 as its contribution toward the eventual construction of a Passaic River Waterfront Park/Walkway within the next decade.

DVL has pledged to try to hire Kearny residents as construction workers for one out of every five jobs on the project.

DVL will put up $75,000 in “condemnation escrow” to acquire easements from Kmart.

Some history on the project: In December 2000, the town declared 86 acres in the southwestern part of Kearny to be in need of redevelopment, and in 2001, the mayor and council adopted the original Passaic Ave. Redevelopment Plan which was revised in 2007 and amended in 2014 to allow for the construction called for in the agreement approved last week.

– Ron Leir 

DNA, the KPD & the NYPD

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Back in April, Kearny police apprehended a Bayonne man for allegedly engaging in a “lewd and lacivious act” — on two separate occasions — in Walmart.

David Harper, 35, had reportedly been pleasuring himself, in close proximity to female shoppers. Police said he had fled the store after the initial offense, but when he returned about three weeks later, the KPD located him on the premises and arrested him.

Harper was charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct.

The police also obtained a DNA swab from the suspect and entered the information in the national DNA database.

Last week, New York City police advised the Kearny Detective Bureau that, thanks to that DNA sample, the NYPD had developed Harper as a suspect in two sexual assaults in the city.

KPD Chief John Dowie said inquiries revealed that Harper had “an extensive record of arrests and convictions” in N.Y.C. before he moved to New Jersey. The charges included larceny, possession of stolen property, criminal impersonation, resisting arrest, and possession of a firearm, Dowie reported.

– Karen Zautyk 

Thoughts & Views: Stand by your man? Hell, no!

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As of press time, I am sure controversy will still be whirling around the NFL — i.e. What did the league honchos know about the Ray Rice incident and when did they know it?

That bothers me less than another aspect of the case: The fact that Janay Rice knew everything she needed to know about her then-fiancee, and knew it instantly, as soon as he belted her in the jaw in that Atlantic City elevator.

And yet, she still chose to marry the creep.

And, incredibly, she is defending him, and attacking the media for allegedly ruining her happiness.

I have nothing but admiration for people who counsel victims of domestic violence.

The prime reason for that being that I know I’d be incapable of offering such aid.

And the prime reason for that being that I am incapable of understanding why any woman would remain in an abusive relationship — be that abuse physical or emotional. (Yes, I know men are also the victims of domestic violence, but I am focusing here on my sex.)

I have heard a variety of explanations.

Some women don’t know any better. Having been raised in abusive homes, they think this is the norm. (The U.S. Department of Justice notes: “Frequent exposure to violence in the home not only predisposes children to numerous social and physical problems, but also teaches them that violence is a normal way of life – therefore, increasing their risk of becoming society’s next generation of victims and abusers.”)

Some women stay with a brutal spouse, or boyfriend, “for the sake of the children.”

Some have been brainwashed in a sort of Stockholm Syndrome manner. Some are completely financially dependent on their abuser. Some are simply afraid to leave. (Again, from the DOJ: Victims who leave their abusers are 75% more likely to be murdered.)

And some insist they still “love” the man who is assaulting them.

These may also be the reasons why such women are reluctant to even press charges against the abuser. New Jersey is one of the enlightened states that no longer requires a victim’s cooperation for the law to be enforced. Gone are the days when the beaten and bloodied victim could plead that the man with blood on his hands not be handcuffed and taken to the pokey.

In N.J., if police are sent to a domestic-violence call, and there is “evidence of an assault, it’s a mandatory arrest,” a source in law enforcement told us.

This is a step forward, but the assailant could still walk free.

“If the victim doesn’t show up in court,” the source told us, “most likely the charges will be dropped.”

I don’t know the statistics, but I bet a lot of victims don’t show up.

Now, I must admit, this column is being written in virtual ignorance. I have not been the victim of domestic violence. Despite the reasons cited above, I cannot comprehend why any woman would stay with a man if he even raised his hand to her. I, or he, would be out the door in an instant.

Also, I have known only one such victim in my life (unless others have kept it hidden). And I met her long after she had left her abusive husband. Left him taking her three children with her. Left him not knowing where she would go or how she would live. Left him having no money of her own to speak of.

But she left. And built a happy life. So happy that it wasn’t until I had known her for years that I learned of her prior situation.

She is one of my heroines.

Janay Rice is not.

Ray Rice knocked her cold and dragged her body out of that elevator as if she were a bag of trash. And she defends him? What kind of message is she sending to other victimized women?

Her Instagram message, posted after the knock-out blow portion of the video was released and hubby was cut by the Ravens, blasts the media and the public for their “unwanted” opinions and ends thusly:

“THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don’t you all get? If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is!”

Real love?

What don’t you all get?

I don’t get any of it. At all.

But I can hope that the video of her being punched unconscious might just raise the consciousness of some other woman who might gain the will to free herself from abuse.

Help is out there. But you have to want help.

– Karen Zautyk 

KPD: Drug bust near middle school

A North Arlington man, found slumped inside a car in the vicinity of Lincoln School, was arrested last week on drug charges after he was found to be in possession of 14 folds of suspected heroin, Kearny police reported.

KPD Chief John Dowie said Officer Jack Corbett, patrolling near Midland and Kearny Aves., observed Darryl Sarra, 33, asleep in a parked Kia at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 9. The car was running and its lights were on.

Corbett shut off the engine and removed the keys before rousing Sarra, who reportedly “immediately fell back asleep.” The officer summoned an ambulance and, while awaiting its arrival, noticed a small wax fold on the driver’s lap, Dowie said. A seach incident to Sarra’s subsequent arrest produced 13 additional folds, the chief noted.

Sarra was transported for treatment to Clara Maass Medical Center, where blood and urine samples were taken for evidentiary purposes.

He has been charged with: possession of heroin with intent to distribute, intent to distribute within a school zone, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving while suspended, driving under the influence and possession of CDS in a motor vehicle.

Police said he also had an outstanding North Arlington warrant.

•••

Other recent reports from the Kearny police blotter included the following:

Sept. 5 

At 10 a.m., Officers Jack Grimm and T.J. Hernandez were dispatched to a South Kearny business, which had reported the misuse of a company credit card by a former employee. They detained Ricardo Barnes, 35, of Queens, N.Y., and a warrant check indicated he had four: two from Ringwood and one each from Maplewood and Millburn, police said. After he was arrested on those, Woodland Park police advised the KPD that complaints had been filed against him for creditcard misuse in that borough, and he was turned over to their custody.

•••

Officer Daniel Esteves, on patrol at Devon and Dukes Sts. at 2:15 p.m., saw a man acting suspiciously near a parked car, police said. The officer conducted a street interview, did a warrant check and arrested Alexis Perez, 32, of Newark, on a warrant out of East Orange.

•••

At Columbia Ave. and Beech St. at 9:30 p.m., Officer John Fabula witnessed a BMW travelling at high speed and passing to the right of other vehicles, police said. Stopping the car at N. Midland Ave. and Alpine Place, he found that the driver, Carlos Monterroso, 30, of Belleville, had a suspended license.

Monterroso was charged with that offense, careless driving and failure to obey a traffic signal.

Sept. 6 

Officer Christopher Levchak, responding to a two-car accident at Bergen Ave. and Devon St. at 8:30 p.m., reportedly detected the odor of alcohol on one driver. After conducting field sobriety tests, he arrested Marisa Rodriguez, 51, of Newark, who was taken to HQ for an Alcotest and issued a summons for DWI.

Sept. 7 

At 1 a.m., Officer Chris Medina arrested Marcos Mendez, 36, of Kearny, at a Howell Place residence on a harassment warrant issued by Kearny. Mendez was also reportedly found to be in possession of two hypodermic needles and was charged with that offense.

•••

At 3:45 a.m., Officer Derek Hemphill witnessed a Honda speeding north on Kearny Ave. at Linden Ave. As he followed the car, it reportedly ran two red lights, made a U-turn on Seeley Ave. and pulled into a driveway. Police said the motorist, Angel Henriquez- Dilone, 20, of Kearny, admitted he did not live at that address. So why did he enter that driveway? Police said his response was, “Because I knew you were chasing me.”

Back-up Officer Medina conducted FSTs on the apparently intoxicated man, who was then taken to HQ and given an Alcotest. Henriquez- Dilone was charged criminally with eluding police and received summonses for DWI, reckless driving and disregarding traffic signals.

Sept. 10 

Michael Voss, 46, of Kearny, whom Vice detectives had under surveillance, was seen exiting a bus in Kearny at 8:15 p.m. and was found to be in possession of nine folds of “Bread & Butter” heroin, police said. He was charged with possession of the drug and drug paraphernalia.

– Karen Zautyk 

News from the Nutley police blotter

Aside from 37 traffic investigations and 52 medical calls, the Nutley Police Department also responded to these incidents during the past week:

Sept. 6 

Police found an intoxicated man on the ground in front of a Franklin Ave. fast food establishment. Police said the man was responsive but could not walk and was taken by ambulance to Clara Maass Medical Center for evaluation.

Sept. 7 

Someone swiped a boy’s bicycle from a backyard on Roma St. The bike was described as a dark blue 20-inch GT Performer BMX style, valued at about $300.

Sept. 8 

The owner of a truck towed from a local church parking lot told police that the vehicle was damaged during its transport on a flatbed to a residence in Somerset. Checking the vehicle after the tow, the owner said its bed cover was missing, it had several dents and scratches to the roof, front bumper and driver’s side of the vehicle. The tow driver told police the damage likely occurred after the vehicle was delivered.

Sept. 9 

Police said a counterfeit bill was passed at a Franklin Ave. eatery. The owner told police a man ordered a milkshake and tried to pay for it with a fake $100 bill. The owner told the patron he was going to get change but went to an office to call police. When he returned, the milkshake was left on the counter but the man was gone. Police said the man was described as African- American, 5-feet-seven, 170 pounds, with short black hair, wearing a hooded striped polo sweater, light blue jeans and sneakers. Twice before in the past two months, the same individual had used $250 in counterfeit bills, the owner told police. Police confirmed the $100 bill was fake.

•••

Having been alerted to a burglary on Grant Ave., officers were patrolling in the area of Grant and Washington Aves. when they were waved down by a passerby who told them a “suspicious” man was at Grant and River Road. When police arrived there, they said they found a man matching descriptions given by the passerby and from a witness to the prior burglary walking on River Road. After learning that the individual was wanted on warrants from Harrison, Belleville, Montville and Rutherford, police arrested Raymond Adames, 50, of Newark, who, they said, had a screwdriver on him. After he couldn’t post bail, Adames was turned over to Harrison PD.

•••

The owner of a vehicle parked on River Road reported that after having come out of work and entering their vehicle, noticed that the glove box and center console had been opened with the contents dumped on the passenger seat and floor.

Sept. 10 

A Bloomfield Ave. business owner reported getting a bad check for about $125. The owner reached out to the check payer who reportedly assured the owner they’d return with the money but never did, police said. Police tried to locate the individual without success.

Sept. 11 

Police said a motor vehicle investigation resulted in the arrest of Martin Lucas, 48, of Newark, on a charge of possession of a white rocky substance believed to be crack cocaine. During a search of Lucas at HQ , police said they found a partly-smoked cigar that smelled of burnt marijuana and which, upon a closer look, was found to be filled with a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. After both substances tested positive for crack cocaine and marijuana, police charged Lucas with possession of marijuana, possession of crack cocaine and one count of drug distribution. Lucas also had five outstanding traffic warrants from Nutley and East Orange. He was placed in Essex County Jail after failing to post bail of $25,000 with a 10% cash option.

•••

A Pauline Drive resident reported someone stole her daughter’s bicycle from the side of the house. It was listed as a ladies’ pink, 10-speed Schwinn bike valued at about $200. The resident told police they saw a late 1990s model black Toyota Pathfinder pulling away from the house with a man and woman, possibly Ecuadorian or Peruvian, inside.

Sept. 12 

Police responded to a Park Ave. location on a report of an attempted theft. The resident told police that after hearing their dog begin barking loudly, they went to the window and saw a light-skinned male, possibly Latino, wearing a black hoodie type shirt and blue shorts, at the rear of the building near a bicycle parking area, remove the resident’s bike and begin walking toward Park Ave. with it. The victim went outside and found the intruder trying to get the tire lock off the bike. After the resident yelled at him, the stranger dropped the bike and ran to a waiting truck described as a newer style black Ford F-150 with two people inside which drove off. Police couldn’t locate the truck or the occupants.

– Ron Leir 

Dino Costa coming to you live, online, from his Western digs

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By Kevin Canessa Jr. 

Observer Correspondent 

CHEYENNE, Wyo. —

Glenn Beck did it when he had had enough with the suits at Fox News.

Sarah Palin is even giving it a try, though we’re not so sure how much success that’ll have.

But for the first time in modern sports-radio history, which technically dates back to 1987 when WFAN launched in New York, a nationally known sports-radio host has started an online-only, subscriber- based sports-radio network he hopes will make him and his investors big bucks — and that he hopes changes the way his fans get their sports radio.

Dino Costa, who spent the last few years with Mad Dog Radio on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio and before that, was on numerous terrestrial radio stations throughout the country, launched dinocostashow.com four months ago when he didn’t renew his contract with Mad Dog Radio and the suits at Sirius/XM.

Bringing Costa’s always entertaining — and extremely controversial show — to the Internet has changed the way sports radio shows are conducted now for many reasons, but most notably, not having to deal with the restrictive rules of the Federal Communications Commission.

“There are no rules, so it’s really the Wild, Wild West of sports radio, isn’t it?” Costa told The Observer exclusively. “When there are no rules, we can truly do what we want. And that’s exactly what we do.”

But it was hardly the FCC’s rules that got Costa interested in doing online-only sports radio. Instead, he says it’s because too often, the suits at Sirius/XM refused to realize his potential — and to market his show and talents properly.

“I was thinking of this prior to my departure at Sirius/ XM, however,” Costa said. “And after that, I had an opportunity to meet with the folks at Fox Sports out in Los Angeles. But long story short, an investor who was also a fan contacted me, asked me if I really wanted to do this, and I realized this was as good a time as any to break into the digital platform.

“So I wrote to the folks at Fox, thanked them, and let them know I was going in a different direction. And on May 5, we launched dinocostashow.com.”

Costa says the digital platform has led to the “most fun” he’s had in his 18-year radio career. Each show is broadcast with crystal-clear video of Dino in his studio. It’s also simulcast audio only. If listeners miss a show, each one is archived for later viewing or listening. The show also now has its own app for iPhones and Androids.

But Costa says the new platform can be trying, at times, especially considering there are no commercials.

“It can be mentally fatiguing at times, but there’s an organic flow to the show we never had before now,” Costa said. “And every time I go into that studio, I have go so with the mindset that the entire world is listening to the show. We have fewer listeners now than when I was on Sirius/XM, obviously, but I must treat every show as if the audience was enormous. People are giving us their hard-earned money to listen.

“So it is a challenge in one way, but an absolutely fun and enjoyable way to broadcast.”

While many in radio say Internet-based stations won’t succeed in the long term, Costa says not so fast to all the naysayers.

Since many cars are now coming equipped with 4G Wi- Fi access, and many more will in the future, Costa believes the digital radio platform is not only here, it’s here for the long haul.

“Let’s not forget that there are some digital-only news platforms that are now out performing traditional newspapers,” Costa said. “If those kinds of sites can succeed, why can’t digital-only radio? It only makes sense that it’s more than possible.”

Ideally, Costa says he hopes this is the last “job” he ever has in radio. But he also says he’d be foolish to cast aside any possible future opportunities that might arise.

“If other opportunities present themselves, I’d be foolish not to consider them,” he said. “But I really believe this is the future of radio, the future of sports talk radio. And each day since we’ve launched, we’ve gained more and more subscribers. We’ve never gone backward. That’s a real sign this is going to succeed.”

Matthew Mandel of Kearny has been a huge fan of Costa’s work, dating back to his arrival at Mad Dog Radio. He says having Costa’s show online rather than on satellite or terrestrial radio has made it significantly better.

“He doesn’t answer to anyone anymore,” Mandel said. “When he was on Sirius, he never got the respect he deserved from his bosses. Now, he holds nothing back at all. He tells it like it is. If a team or an athlete ticks him off, he’s going to say so — and he could do that without the fear of potential consequences.

“That has made the Dino Costa Show so much better than it was before.”

Mike Ranford of Belleville agrees — even though he hasn’t always been a fan of Costa’s.

“He says what he means and he means what he says,” Ranford said. “There were times in the past he’s said stuff that just infuriated me. But when you think of it, that’s what sports talk radio is all about. It’s purely entertainment. And with an online platform, Dino entertains while bringing his fans the best sports radio has to offer.

“He is much better off today without Sirius/XM as far as I am concerned. I just hope the online platform takes off and people are willing to pay a minimal fee to get better sports radio than any of the two terrestrial stations in the area (WFAN and WEPN) can offer.”

Contact Dino by sending an email to talktodino@gmail.com.