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Eyesore will soon be gone

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By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent

 KEARNY – 

At the top of the Oval, there’s a small square which, in about a month, should be flat.

Yes, the fenced-off, vacant two-story house at 484 Schuyler Ave. surrounded by overgrown vegetation, with a shed in the backyard, is coming down.

The building – next to the entrance of Kearny’s Gunnell Oval recreation complex – has been sitting empty for at least a decade, according to town Public Works Director Gerry Kerr, and now that the town is aiming to make over the environmentally compromised Oval, it will be removing the adjacent eyesore.

Its last owner was listed in Kearny tax records as Matilda Dorothy Horn. Read more »

Vehicular homicide charge in fatal crash

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A Union City truck driver has been charged with vehicular homicide in connection with a N.J. Turnpike crash that claimed the life of a Kearny man in June.

The N.J. State Police, working with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, arrested Henry Flores, 55, without incident at his home July 31.

Detectives reportedly have determined that Flores was using a cell phone when his tractor-trailer caused the chain-reaction accident on the Turnpike in Carlstadt. Several people were injured, and Jeffrey Humphrey, 43, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Humphrey, a lifelong Kearny resident, was a medical technology instructor at Montefiore Medical Center and was also the leader of a musical group, The Jeff Humphrey Trio. He was the brother of Kearny Public Library director Josh Humphrey.

The accident occurred at approximately 4:55 p.m., June 9, in the southbound lanes of the highway and resulted in its closure for about eight hours.

Police said Flores was traveling in the left lane when he smashed into the vehicle in front of him that was slowing with traffic. The initial impact caused a crash that involved multiple vehicles. Humphrey’s car was in the middle of the line of cars that were hit.

In addition to vehicular homicide, Flores has been charged with hindering apprehension, reckless driving and improper use of a cell phone.

He was remanded to the Bergen County Jail in lieu of $50,000 full cash bail.

 – Karen Zautyk  

Kearny ‘Night Out’

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Photos by Karen Zautyk

On Tuesday, Aug. 5, the Kearny Police Department sponsored its annual National Night Out Against Crime event on Belgrove Drive. The popular program drew scads of kids and adults and featured everything from a Jaws of Life demo to a classic car show to a visit from a State Police helicopter. And much more. All packed into two hours and one block!

Celebrating Nutley’s history

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By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent 

NUTLEY –

If you were a kid, where would you opt to be on a sunny Tuesday morning in August? In a park? Down the Shore?

For a group of Nutley youngsters, the choice was to be at the Department of Public Affairs offices on Chestnut St. for a lesson local history.

No foolin’. Read more »

New superior among the Bravest

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By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent

KEARNY –

On Jan. 20, 2013, Kearny firefighters were battling a fire at a 3-story, 6-family building at 118 Devon St. when part of the roof gave way, pinning Capt. Gary Dye and Firefighter Michael Kartanowicz under rubble.

Eventually, they were pulled out by Firefighters Michael Janeczko and Andrew O’Donnell who were acclaimed as Firefighters of the Year for their deeds.

Both of the injured men – Kartanowicz took a few months to recover from surgery – have returned to work and last Tuesday, Kartanowicz, 36, was promoted to fire captain in ceremonies at the Town Hall assembly chambers filled with family, friends and colleagues.

He’ll earn $103,637 a year in his new rank. Read more »

Two-time loser

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By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent 

NUTLEY –

A 50-year-old Nutley was sentenced last week to four years and seven months in prison for the 2013 robbery of a Clifton bank — a crime committed while he was on supervised release following a previous bank-robbery conviction.

The bandit, Wayne Winner, had been arrested about a week after the Clifton crime thanks to an alert and observant Nutley police officer, authorities reported.

According to court documents, Winner entered a Valley National Bank in Clifton on Jan. 4, 2013, and handed a teller a bag and a note, which read, “No joke, loose bills, no dye, in a hurry.” The amount of money taken was not disclosed. Read more »

Thoughts & Views: ‘Wretched writers welcome’

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The Bulwer-Lytton Contest winners for 2014 have been announced, and I feel compelled to share some of them with you. I have written about the contest before, but in case you have forgotten: Named for 19th-century British writer Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, it is “a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.” (That is not as easy as you might think.)

It was launched by the English Department of San Jose (Calif.) State University in 1982 and today attracts entries from across the globe. As usual, many of my top picks were Runners-Up or Dishonorable Mentions. So be it. I shall begin with the category closest to my heart: Read more »

Cat colony conundrum

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By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY –

Controversy over how to deal with a cat colony in the back of an E. Midland Ave. apartment complex came to a head at last Tuesday night’s mayor/Town Council meeting.

Half the assembly chambers were filled with advocates for the colony led by animal activists Leonard and Juliette Twist, a couple who live on the same block where the cats have congregated in a woodsy area along a set of abandoned railroad tracks.

Problem is, according to the town, the cats have spilled over into the parking lot of the apartment complex whose owner, last week, took steps to set traps for the strays, hire an off-duty cop to guard the traps, and send them to the Bergen County Animal Shelter.

There, Mayor Alberto Santos told the crowd, “if a cat is feral and not sociable, it is euthanized. If the cat is sociable, it is held at the shelter and can be held for as long as a year.”

Although the traps have since been removed, Santos said, “I’ve learned that wildlife [other than stray felines] have been trapped … and that two of those wildlife have been euthanized. That should not have happened.” Read more »

News from the KPD blotter

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Aug. 1 

At 1:30 a.m., Officer Derek Hemphill responded to the report of a hit-run accident on the 200 block of Argyle Place and found that parked vehicles had been struck. Back-up Officer Ben Wuelfing followed a trail of tire marks and and automobile fluids to Schuyler and Laurel Aves., where he located a “heavily damaged” Nissan SUV and detained two individuals. Wuelfing determined that one, Damaso Castill, 22, of Kearny, had been the SUV’s driver and he was charged with DUI, leaving the scene of an accident and refusing to take an Alcotest.

Sgt. Peter Gleason and Officers John Travelino and Jay Ward answered a request for assistance from an NJ Transit bus driver at 9:30 p.m. at Seeley and Kearny Aves. Police said the driver had ejected an unruly passenger who, upon exiting the bus, kicked out windows in the door and fled. Ward located the suspect at W. Bennett Ave. and Pleasant Place and returned him to the bus for identification. Stephen Scrupski, 52, of Newark was charged with criminal mischief and on an outstanding warrant from Harrison. Read more »

‘Polarized’ impossible to put down after picking it up

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By Ryan Sloane
Observer Correspondent 

With some summer night’s heat so oppressive you don’t want to venture outside, there’s always a great book out there that can make the doldrums of the humidity and stale air just go away.

Such is the case with the biography, “Polarized: Sex, Lies and Family Betrayal,” the story of Joseph DeBlasi, formerly of Staten Island, N.Y., who shares his experiences of being bipolar.

Much of the book depicts how DeBlasi was faced, at a very young age, with having to deal with the highs of mania and the lows of the depression the disease caused — and still does cause to this day. But it’s important to know a little background on DeBlasi before reading the book — and we certainly hope you will give this one a read.

When DeBlasi was a young boy, not even 10, his parents were divorcing. His father, a prominent doctor on Staten Island, decided he didn’t want his soon-to-be ex-wife gaining custody of the boy, so DeBlasi writes of how his dad “kidnapped” him to make sure of it. Read more »