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Mendez takes over Harrison baseball program

Photo by Jim Hague The Harrison baseball team will go as far as the team’s deep pitching staff will carry them. From l. are Tommy Dolaghan, Josh Williams, Sebastian Sanchez, head coach Jairo Mendez, Moises Roque, Markis Valentin and Kishan Patel.

Photo by Jim Hague
The Harrison baseball team will go as far as the team’s deep pitching staff will carry them. From l. are Tommy Dolaghan, Josh Williams, Sebastian Sanchez, head coach Jairo Mendez, Moises Roque, Markis Valentin and Kishan Patel.


By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Observer

At 28 years old, Jairo Mendez is not far removed from his playing days, when he was an excellent pitcher, first at Kearny High School and later on, Montclair State.

But Mendez feels he’s ready for the challenge of being a high school baseball head coach. Thus the reason why he took over the Harrison High School program this season, after Sean Dolaghan stepped down for family obligations.

Mendez, who had been an assistant coach with the Blue Tide for the past four years with Dolaghan, had an inkling that the program would be his toward the end of last season.

“He told me that he was going to step down because of his family,” Mendez said. “Sean recommended me for the job and spoke highly of me. I think that helped put me in a good spot. I felt like I was ready. The challenge is always exciting.”

Mendez said that he didn’t get that much grief from his closest friends in Kearny, taking over as head coach at the neighboring rival school.

“Maybe I heard things when I first started, but not now,” Mendez said. “In fact, my friends were all congratulating me and wishing me luck more than anything.”

Mendez was asked about the transition, going from assistant coach to head coach.

“It really has been pretty easy,” Mendez said. “My assistant coaches (Jimmy Morais, Charles Comprelli, Paul Herbster, Jose Morillo, Alex Delgado and Joe Wroblewski) have all helped me out a lot. It’s been okay. I’m not there to make friends. I’m there to teach them about baseball and teach them life skills. It’s almost like being the boss of a company.”

The Blue Tide has enjoyed a good start to Mendez’s first season as head coach, winning five of their first seven games.

Leading the way is senior right-handed pitcher Tommy Dolaghan, the former coach’s nephew, who has done everything and anything leading the Blue Tide.

Dolaghan has won his first two decisions, including a 10-2 win over Dickinson of Jersey City last weekend. Dolaghan allowed only one earned run, striking out eight and surrendering just five hits. He also had two hits and two RBI in the win.

“He has the most experience of anyone on our staff,” Mendez said of the former Observer Athlete of the Week. “He’s been battling since Day One. He throws all of his pitches for strikes and mixes up his pitches well. He changes speed well and hits his spots.”

Senior Sebastian Sanchez is another top returning hurler. The right-hander has a lot of confidence in his pitches.

“He’s not overpowering but he keeps it low and gets a lot of support from his teammates,” Mendez said of Sanchez.

Sophomore Markise Valentin is another solid pitcher.

“He comes from all different angles,” Mendez said. “He comes from the side, over the top, anywhere. And he has a lot of movement on his pitches.”

Junior Josh Williams is the team’s lone left-handed pitcher.

“He reminds me of Cliff Lee,” Mendez said of Williams, referring to the Philadelphia Phillies’ ace. “He challenges hitters and changes speeds. He has very good location and he’s going to be a good one.”

Senior Moises Roque is another solid pitcher, as well as seniors Kishan Patel and football star Adam Huseinovic.

“I think Adam is going to be a key pitcher for us,” Mendez said. “He has the ability to shut the door.”

Look for Huseinovic to be the Blue Tide’s closer this season.

The catcher is junior Miguel Zorrilla, who is an excellent defensive backstop.

“He is handling the pitchers well,” Mendez said. “He works hard and is a student of the game.”

Seniors Ricky DeSilveira and Danny Gerris are sharing the first base duties. Gerris is a transfer from St. Peter’s Prep.

“Ricky is very good defensively,” Mendez said. “Danny hits the ball well and hits it all over the field.”

Valentin is the returning starter at second base. When Valentine is on the mound, junior Jordan Villalta steps in.

Valentin was clutch Saturday against Dickinson, delivering two RBI.

Dolaghan and Roque share duties at shortstop, alternating depending upon who is pitching. Roque had three hits and three runs scored against Dickinson.

Third base duties belong to Sanchez. When Sanchez is on the mound, sophomore Craig Ruff takes the mound.

Left field responsibilities fall on the shoulders of Williams and when the lefty is pitching, then senior Brian Carr is out there.

Huseinovic is a fixture in centerfield. He might be known as a football player, but Mendez likes what Huseinovic brings to the diamond.

“He’s a good all-around baseball player,” Mendez said. “He has good power and could be our cleanup hitter.”

Huseinovic had two RBI in the win over Dickinson.

The right field duties are being shared by senior J.P. Ferriero and Patel and sophomore Felix Calderon.

The Blue Tide survived a tough early season schedule in fine fashion. The 5-2 record comes as no surprise.

“I’m very excited about this team,” Mendez said. “It’s a pleasure to be with the kids. I know we will be competitive.”

The Blue Tide, under the guidance of Mendez, has already proven the coach’s prediction to be true.

Lyndhurst’s Tellefsen steps in nicely as Golden Bears’ top hurler

Photo by Jim Hague Lyndhurst junior pitcher Jenn Tellefsen.

Photo by Jim Hague
Lyndhurst junior pitcher Jenn Tellefsen.



By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

When Emily Ringen took over the Lyndhurst High School softball program earlier this year, she wondered who would become the Golden Bears’ top pitcher, ever since Casey Zdanek graduated and took her immense talents to Drew University.

However, Ringen had a good idea which way she would lean to give the ball to, namely junior Jenn Tellefsen.

“I knew Jenn’s travel (team) coaches and I spoke with (former Lyndhurst coach) Elaine (Catanese),” Ringen said. “I had 100%confidence that Jenn would be our No. 1. I knew that she was predominately an infielder, but that she was a pitcher first. I knew that she was capable of stepping right in and doing well for us.”

Tellefsen was already preparing to take over the key position.

“Since freshman year, I was placed at shortstop, but I’m not really an infielder,” Tellefsen said. “I just had to wait until Casey graduated. She was older, better and more experienced. I just had to wait my turn. But since I was young, I was always a pitcher. I was just hoping that I could do as well as well as what Casey did. She was amazing over her four years.”

Ringen knew that Tellefsen was the real deal.

“She has a lot of power and speed in her pitches,” Ringen said. “She has the mindset of a softball player. She’s a very powerful force out there and takes care of business.”

Tellefsen said that she worked hard during the offseason to prepare for the challenge.

“I practiced my pitches every day,” Tellefsen said. “I don’t play another sport, so I can concentrate on softball.”

Tellefsen has been honing her craft since she was younger.

“I’ve been going to pitching lessons since I was in fifth grade,” Tellefsen said. “I work with Jen Barnes in Closter.”

Over the off-season, Tellefsen said she learned a few new pitches.

“I learned a rise and a drop,” Tellefsen said.

However, before the Golden Bears’ season opener, Tellefsen was suffering from a bit of the jitters.

“I was really nervous before my first game,” Tellefsen said. “I wanted to prove to myself and to everyone that I could pitch, but it was a little nerve wracking.”

Those jitters are a part of ancient history, because Tellefsen has been downright dominant since she entered the circle for the first time.

Tellefsen has pitched to a 7-2 record, with an astounding 95 strikeouts compared to just five walks. That is impeccable control.

After striking out 16 batters in a win over Kearny earlier this season, Tellefsen enjoyed a great week last week.

She struck out 15 in a win over Leonia, a game that Tellefsen won on her own with a late three-run homer. She had 10 strikeouts in four innings in a win over Queen of Peace, a game where she slugged another round tripper.

She had 10 strikeouts in a 2-0 loss to Kittatinny, but rebounded with nine strikeouts in four innings in a blowout win of Collingswood Saturday.

For the season, Tellefsen is batting .400 with three homers and 14 RBI.

For her efforts, Tellefsen has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.

“She really has been great,” Ringen said. “She has tremendous speed in her pitches. Batters are simply not getting around on her. The momentum she has had has been great. She keeps the ball inside and outside. She has a good pace of the game. She gets the ball and fires it in.”

“Ever since I was younger, I was taught to control my speeds,” Tellefsen said. “I don’t even begin to learn a new pitch until I can control it. I think that throwing hard doesn’t matter unless you have control. I concentrate on throwing strikes more than anything else. I concentrate on finishing my pitches and that’s helped with my control.”

But 95 punch outs compared to just five walks? That’s impeccable control.

“I’m very surprised I have that,” Tellefsen said. “I’ve worked on all my pitches, but I never expected this.”

While it’s easy to focus on what Tellefsen does on the mound, she’s also a ferocious hitter as well, evidenced by the clutch homer against Leonia.

“She bailed us out in the Leonia game big time,” Ringen said. “She hit an absolute shot and like that, we were up three.”

Tellefsen said that she was just trying to make solid contact.

“Alyssa Pipon got hit by a pitch right before I got up,” Tellefsen said. “She said, ‘It’s your turn to hit the ball.’ I just hit the ball and ran. I was so relieved it was a home run, because I was able to drive my teammates in.”

Ringen said that Tellefsen is a dangerous hitter as well.

“She’s up there to hit,” Ringen said. “Her power is unbelievable. She’s an elite softball player, both as a pitcher and a hitter. You don’t get to see a lot of girls who play softball all year. But that’s what Jenny does. She plays 10 months a year. She’s taken a good control of this team and helping out the other pitchers and catchers. I’m very impressed.”

“I like to think of myself as being a pitcher who can hit,” Tellefsen said.

Ringen can’t sing Tellefsen’s praises enough.

“She’s doing all the right things right now, on the mound, in the batter’s box,” Ringen said. “She’s also a very good student.”

It means that Tellefsen would be someone that the colleges would want to look at.

“I’d love to play softball in college,” Tellefsen said. “I am trying to go either Division II or possibly Division I. I have a lot of confidence in myself right now. I also think we can go pretty far this season.”

When the season ends at Lyndhurst, Tellefsen will play for the New Jersey Pride, a quality travel program based in Fairfield.

“But I love playing with my Lyndhurst teammates,” Tellefsen said. “We all get along great.”

“She’s a funny kid,” Ringen said. “She has a lot of one-liners that make everyone laugh. She jumps right in with everyone. She’s very friendly and very respectful. She’s matured nicely on the field and in the classroom.”

As long as Tellefsen keeps pitching and hitting the way she has been thus far, the Lyndhurst softball team can go a long way.


Tessie Babinski

Tessie (Truskolawski) Babinski, 100, a resident of St. Joseph’s Seniors Home Nursing Center and Assisted Living, Woodbridge, and formerly of Basking Ridge and Kearny, passed away peacefully on Monday, April 7.

Tessie was the wife of the late Chester Babinski, her beloved husband of 57 years.

Visiting was scheduled for Tuesday April 15, at the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home. 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny, from 4 to 8 pm. A funeral Mass will be on Wednesday, April 16, at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, 115 S. Third St., Harrison. Interment will follow in Holy Cross Chapel Mausoleum, North Arlington.

Tessie was devoted to her family, her faith, and her friends. She worked at RCA in Harrison for many years and loved to read, knit and crochet.

She is survived by her two sons, Edward and his wife Pauline of Uxbridge, Mass., and Raymond and his wife Judith of Basking Ridge; grandson Paul and his wife Kristin, grandson David and his wife Nikki; granddaughter Elizabeth Baker and her husband Brent; granddaughter Katherine Thompson and her husband Bryan; and six great-grandchildren Allison, Emily and Samantha Babinski, Tessa Baker and Reese and Cole Thompson.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in her memory to St. Joseph’s Seniors Home Nursing Center and Assisted Living, 1-3 St. Joseph Terrace, Woodridge, N.J. 07095.

Ellis Beesley

Ellis “Norman” Beesley, 92, of Manasquan, passed away on April 10 at Manatee Memorial Hospital in Bradenton, Fla.

He was born Nov. 22, 1921, in Kearny. He was raised in Kearny and was a graduate of Kearny High School.

He worked for DuPont as a research scientist and attended Newark College of Engineering.

After Pearl Harbor was attacked, he signed up with the Army Air Corps as a fighter pilot. He served in the Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1945, and flew 42 missions over Italy. His last year was spent in a German POW camp after his plane was shot down.

In 1948 he married Eileen Farrell and worked as a fireman with the Kearny Fire Department until retiring in 1985. After retiring he moved to his summer home in Manasquan and wintered in Ellenton, Fla. He enjoyed fishing, boating, shuffleboard and traveling to many destinations.

Mr. Beesley is survived by his wife of 65 years, Eileen (nee Farrell) and is also survived by two sons, Dr. Ellis N. Beesley Jr. and his partner John Silkey and Philip E. Beesley and his wife Eileen, and four grandchildren, Scott Philip and his fiancee Bethany Smith, Claire Catharine, Robert and Ryan. Also surviving are several nieces and nephews.

Visitation was slated for Tuesday, April 15, from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m., at the Neary- Quinn Funeral Home, 39 South St., Manasquan. A Mass of Resurrection will be held on Wednesday, April 16, at 9:30 a.m. at St. Denis Church in Manasquan. Cremation will be private.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Alzheimer’s Association, 400 Morris Ave., Suite 251, Denville, N.J. 07834-1365 or a charity of your choice. For more information or to post a tribute, please visit www.neary-quinnfuneralhome.com.

Margaret Koscielecki

Margaret Koscielecki died April 8. She was 88.

Born in Harrison, she lived most of her life in Kearny. Private arrangements are by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home in Kearny. Margaret was a secretary at State Farm Insurance Company in Lyndhurst.

Wife of the late Henry, she is survived by her children Christine Yanuzzi and Denis Koslecki, her brother Joseph Zubko and her beloved grandchildren Allisyn, Daniel, Patrick and Andrew all of whom she was so devoted to and proud of. A memorial Mass will be scheduled in the near future at St. Cecilia’s Church.

Frank S. Lamendola

Frank S. Lamendola died April 9 at home. He was 86.

Born in Hoboken, he lived the past 50 years in Kearny.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held at the funeral home, followed by entombment in Holy Cross Cemetery. To leave online condolences, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Frank served in the Army Air Force from 1947 to 1949. He owned Aztec Spackling in Kearny. He was a member and past president of Kearny UNICO and had been the grand marshal of the Columbus Day Parade.

Husband of Judi (nee Dunn), he is survived by his son Marc F. Lamendola and his daughter along with her husband Tina Marie and Brian Bartel. He was the brother of Caroline DiNardo and the late Paul Lamendola, and brother-in-law of Sandra Lamendola and Roger and JoAnn Dunn. Also surviving are his grandchildren Aidan and Tristan Lamendola and Jillian Bartel.

In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to the Imus Center at Hackensack Medical Center.

Dolores Machado

Dolores “Pidge” Machado, entered into eternal rest on Tuesday, April 8, surrounded by her loving family. She was 81.

Pidge was born April 3, 1933, to Frank and Genevieve Sheldrick (nee Trembley) in East Newark. She was raised at 26 Reynolds Ave. in East Newark, before moving to Harrison and lived most of her life there.

She worked as a bartender at The Odd Couple, Dunphy’s Hawaiian Palms, The Library Bar & Inn, all in Harrison, and at My Place in East Newark for many years. In her free time, Pidge enjoyed playing bingo at many of the local churches.

Wife of the late Armand Machado and the late Joseph Choffo, Pidge is survived by her beloved children, Frank (Theresa), Joseph, Jr. (Barbara) and Mike, dear stepchildren, John and Gail, cherished brother Andy Sheldrick, loving grandchildren, Dan, Melissa, Nicol, Jeanne Marie, Leanne, Frank II, Joseph III, Megan and Andrew and 13 great-grandchildren. She is also survived by many nieces, nephews and cousins. She was predeceased her daughter Colleen, siblings Mary Cooper, Genevieve Brown, and Frank Sheldrick and her stepdaughter Dana Machado.

Funeral services were under the direction of Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to help defray the funeral costs, care of Mulligan Funeral Home.

Helen C. Yankowski

Helen C. Yankowski of East Newark passed away Tuesday, April 8, at The Renaissance Rehabilitation and Care Center in Lincoln Park, at the age of 92.

Funeral services were under the direction of the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison. A funeral Mass was held at Holy Cross Church, Harrison. Her Interment took place in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.

Born in Mt. Carmel, Pa., on November 12, 1921, Helen moved to New Jersey where she met and married Michael C. Yankowski of Harrison.

She was a loving homemaker who also worked part time for the East Newark School System as a cafeteria aide. Helen resided in East Newark for more than 50 years before moving to live with her daughter, Barbara, in Livingston. Helen was a life member of the East Newark Senior Citizens Club and a former East Newark Senior Citizen of the Year. She was a member for many years of the Holy Cross Rosary and Vincentian Societies.

Predeceased by her husband, Michael, Helen is survived by her daughter, Barbara of Livingston, her son, Michael and his wife Laurie of Debary, Fla., and her former daughter in-law, Gina of Point Pleasant. She is also survived by five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Donations to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, P.O. Box 1000, Dept. 142 Memphis, Tenn. 38148 in Helen’s memory would be appreciated.

Work progressing at Rip Collins Field




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.”



“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.



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


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent


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


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent


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’

Old scale

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’


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent


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


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


By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent


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 »