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Chester C. Conklin 

Chester C. Conklin died Feb. 8 at Clara Maass Medical Center. He was 73.

Born in Newark, he lived in Kearny before moving to Belleville in 1981.

Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral Mass was held at St. Mary’s Church in Nutley, followed by burial in Arlington Cemetery in Kearny. (www.armitagewiggins.com)

Chester was a member of Teamsters Local 641 and drove a truck for many years for L.J. Kennedy and Preston Trucking.

Husband of Carolyn (nee Young), he is also survived by his children and their spouses Michael S. Conklin, Jeff Conklin (Caroline) and Donna L. Conklin (Joe Besterci), his grandchildren Eric, Hailey, Mackenzie and Amanda, and his best pal Casey.

Mary Corner

Mary Corner (nee Quigley) died peacefully on Feb. 10 at The Shorrock Gardens in Brick. She was 87.

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, she lived many years in Kearny before retiring to Brick.

Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral Mass was held at Our Lady of Sorrows, Kearny, followed by burial in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington. (www.armitagewiggins.com)

Mary and her late husband John Corner owned and ran Matson’s Tavern in Kearny for many years. She loved her family, friends, heritage and Our Lady of Sorrows.

She is survived by her daughter and son Ann Marie Deichman (Daniel Sr.) and John Corner (Carolyn), her grandchildren Daniel (Jessica) and Jeremy (Natalia) and great-grandchildren Madilyn Rose, Daniel Marc, Lilyahna and Luke Jeremy.

Julia T. Dunaj 

Julia T. Dunaj (nee Agentowicz), of North Arlington, died peacefully on Feb. 8. She was 95.

Funeral arrangements were under the direction of the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison. A funeral Mass was held at Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, Harrison. Interment was in Holy Cross Cemetery. For information, or to send condolences to the family, please visit www.mulliganfh.com.

Born and raised in Eynon, Pa., she lived in North Arlington for the past 57 years. Julia worked as a product scheduler for RCA in Harrison for many years, retiring to raise her two children. She was a parishioner of Our Lady of Czestochowa Church and a member of Rosary Altar Society, a member of the Senior Harmony Club of North Arlington, and a charter member and treasurer of the Young Women’s Club of Harrison. She was also the Financial Secretary of Lodge 3187 of the Polish National Alliance (PNA) District 5 and took part in many activities as well as being involved in multiple PNA committees.

Predeceased by her husband, Stanley J. Dunaj, Julia is survived by her loving children Patricia A. and Stanley M. Dunaj, her dear sister Jean A. Kozmor, her sisters-in-law Ann Dunaj and Bernadine Janusz as well as loving nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests Mass intentions to be offered from Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, Harrison or Queen of Peace Church, North Arlington, or a donation to a charity of choice would be appreciated in care of the funeral home in loving memory of Julia.

Rafael Anthony Egoavil 

Rafael Anthony “Tony” Egoavil, of Buffalo, N.Y., formerly of Newark, entered into eternal rest on Feb. 6. He was 42.

Funeral arrangements were under the direction of the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison. A funeral service was held at the funeral home. His cremation was private. For information, or to send condolences to the family, please visit www.mulliganfh.com.

Born and raised in Newark, he lived most his life there before moving to Buffalo in 2004. Rafael worked for Ford Motor Company for more than 20 years, first in Edison and most recently in Buffalo, N.Y.

He was a second generation employee as his father Rafael also worked for the Ford Motor Company. He was a member of the UAW Ford Local 897 in Buffalo, N.Y. An avid baseball fan, his favorite team was the N.Y. Mets. In his free time, Tony also enjoyed video games and graphic novels.

Tony is survived by his beloved mother Juanita, loving children Ashley Nicole and Ryan Matthew, dear brother Chris and his wife Heather, cherished niece and goddaughter Olivia and nephew Connor, godson Logan Gonzalez and the mother of his children Lydia Ivette Toyens. He was predeceased by his father Rafael (2014) and his sister Marisol (1982).

Hedwig A. Kasper 

Hedwig A. “Gladys” Kasper (nee Rudnicki), 90, a lifelong resident of Harrison, died Feb. 11 at the Alaris Healthcare Center on Bergen Ave. in Kearny.

She worked as a secretary for the RCA Corporation in Harrison for many years before retiring 25 years ago.

She was the beloved wife of the late John and is survived by her nieces and nephews.

The funeral was from the Parow Funeral Home, 185 Ridge Road, North Arlington, on Saturday, Feb. 14, with a funeral Mass at Our Lady Czestochowa Church, Harrison. Interment followed in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.

Dominick F. Krusznis 

Dominick “Yakie” F. Krusznis Jr., of Berkeley Township, formerly of Harrison, entered into eternal rest on Feb. 2. He was 81.

Funeral arrangements were under the direction of the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison. A funeral Mass was held at Holy Cross Church, Harrison. Interment was in Holy Cross Cemetery. For information, or to send condolences to the family, please visit www.mulliganfh.com.

Born in Jersey City, Dominick was raised and lived in Harrison before moving to Berkeley Township in 2013. He worked for Driver Harris/ Harrison Alloy for many years, retiring in 1997. Prior to that, he worked as a truck driver for Leo Keller Corporation from 1952 to 1988. He also worked for the Harrison Post Office, where he began his employment as a young man. He served his country in the U.S. Army from 1956 to 1962 and was honorably discharged.

Dominick graduated from Harrison High School in 1951. An avid soccer player/fan, he played on the Harrison High School soccer team that won back-to-back state championships in 1949 and 1950. His team had a 53-match winning streak that ended during the 1951 season. Following high school, Dominick continued his dream of becoming a professional soccer player, playing on for the Elizabeth Germans, as well as many other local professional soccer clubs, from 1952 through the late 1970s.

Predeceased by his wife, Ann P. Krusznis (nee Gray) and his son, Dominick W. “Dinny” Krusznis, he is survived by his loving children and their spouses, George Krusznis (Annmarie), Karen Flood (Kevin), David Krusznis (Annette), William “Red” Krusznis (Annie) and Michael Krusznis (Donna). He is also survived by 18 grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to either Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), 26 Broadway, 14th fl., New York, N.Y. 10004 or the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City, Okla. 73123-1718 in loving memory of Dominick.

Michael Raefski 

Michael Raefski, 54, died on Feb. 10 at St. Michael’s Medical Center in Newark.

Arrangements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held at the funeral home, followed by a private cremation. Condolences and memories may be shared at www. thiele-reid.com.

Michael was born in Belleville and was a lifelong resident of North Arlington.

Mr. Raefski was a member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Kearny.

He was a carpenter by trade and later worked at Home Depot.

Michael is survived by his brothers Joseph (Nancy), Frank (Mildred), and Richard Raefski and six nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by his brothers James and John Raefski.

Jane Wilma Watson 


Jane Wilma Watson died Feb. 5.

Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home in Kearny. A memorial service was held at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Toms River. To view the entire obituary, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

House fire quelled


Residents of a one-family house on Fourth St. in Lyndhurst were safely evacuated during a fire that broke out in the early morning on Monday, Feb. 16, authorities said.

Police Capt. John Valente said an alarm of fire was received by police at 4:23 a.m. for 425 Fourth St., prompting a response by the Lyndhurst Volunteer Fire Department.

Patrol officers arriving soon after reported heavy smoke coming from the front door and township volunteer firefighters quickly doused the fire which was confined mostly to the basement, Valente said.

Valente said the fire appears to have started from faulty wiring connected to a basement clothes dryer and some flames apparently traveled inside a wall up to a kitchen area.

Firefighters had the fire extinguished and cleanup operations begun within an hour, with assistance from the North Arlington Volunteer Fire Department’s F.A.S.T. team while Rutherford provided a pumper to stand-by at Lyndhurst Fire HQ , Valente said.

“Damage to the residence could have been much worse if not for the fact that the intense heat caused a copper water pipe to separate, burst and almost act as a sprinkler, helping to keep the fire at bay prior to Fire Department arrival,” he noted.

As of Monday, Valente said, residents were being temporarily housed with family members.

– Ron Leir 

Fitness center coming; new housing under review


By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent 


It may require an extended backstop at Harvey Field to prevent foul balls from whacking cars and/or people and perhaps a buffer of some kind for a residential dog run.

But, in any event, Carlstadt developer Ed Russo will be returning to the Kearny Planning Board March 4 for local approvals to expand his residential project along the north side of Bergen Ave. adjacent to the town’s Harvey Field recreation complex.

Last Wednesday, the board began hearing testimony on Russo’s proposal to demolish two commercial structures at 311-337 Schuyler Ave. and erect two 3-story buildings with 70 rental apartments as part of what the town has designated as an area in need of redevelopment.

It will reconvene next month to hear more about Russo’s expanded project but in the meantime, it voted to approve the developer’s application for a subdivision and amendment to the site plan for the first phase of his residential project – six buildings – on the south side of Bergen Ave. to accommodate a clubhouse and fenced-in dog run on the site of what had been projected as a retail pad.

In other business, the board also sanctioned a site plan and variance application submitted by Kearny Holding VF LLC/Fitness Intl. LLC to convert the old Pathmark supermarket at 175 Passaic Ave. to an LA Fitness facility.

Kearny attorney Gary Bennett, representing Fitness Intl., told the board that his client has negotiated a long-term lease with the property owner, Vornado Realty Trust of New York, to occupy the 58,000 square feet former supermarket building with no change to the structure’s footprint.

James O’Sullivan, director of development for Fitness Intl., said that the company has 650 locations in the U.S. and Canada and of those, he developed 60 in the past decade.

O’Sullivan said the building will be equipped with a kids’ club, locker rooms with bathrooms and showers, a spa, a 3-lane lap pool, basketball/ volleyball court and studios for cardio, yoga and cycling workouts.

Chances of putting in a juice bar are “50/50” at this stage in the development process, O’Sullivan said.

The facility will be open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week, he said.



by Ron Leir Ed Russo outlines his residential project at Planning Board meeting.

by Ron Leir
Ed Russo outlines his residential project at Planning Board meeting.

Plans call for the exterior masonry to be refurbished and repainted with an “earth-tone” color and “additional glass and light,” removal of the former supermarket’s loading docks, installation of brick pavers and bike racks near the front entrance and landscaping with 400 new plants anticipated, he said.

It will probably take a few months to file for building permits and, once granted, “five to six months to construct,” according to O’Sullivan. “The goal is to get this club open this year.”

Once construction starts, the company will open a “pre-sales office” to solicit memberships, he said.

Down the road, O’Sullivan said, the Kearny facility figures to employ more than 75 fulland part-time workers, with job opportunities for local residents.

As for the Bergen Ave. development, Russo told the board he expected to “be 100% complete” with his first phase which he calls Vermella Crossing – 150 rental apartments spread over six buildings – by October 2015.

Assuming favorable action by the board on his proposed expansion, Russo said his hope was to begin construction on that project by “sometime in 2016.”

Monthly rentals are projected at the “mid- $1,600s” for his one-bedroom apartments and in the range of “$2,200 to $2,400” for the two-bedroom units, Russo said. He has no plans to switch to “for sale” units.

Several board members, noting the proximity of the 2.2-acre development site to Harvey Field, wondered whether residents and/or their property might be in harm’s way from foul balls hit by batters during baseball season and that concern triggered discussion about the town doing some adjustments to the baseball field backstop which adjoins the targeted development site. No final plan was agreed to last week.

Asked about concerns raised by the Kearny Fire Department about access to hydrants and the ability of fire trucks to maneuver around the proposed residential buildings, Doug Bartels, an engineer and vice president with Russo Development, said that interior stairwells in each building would be equipped with standpipes and that fire rigs – and garbage trucks – should have enough room “to circulate around both buildings.”

Two board members – Chairman Fred Esteves and Councilman Jonathan Giordano – worried that tenants exiting either of the two proposed driveways from the site would have a tough time negotiating the flow of westbound traffic along Bergen Ave., which tends to stack up at the light at Schuyler Ave.

“There’s no way people are going to be crossing those driveways,” Esteves said. “No one’s going to give them a chance.”

Russo vice president Christopher Minks, the attorney representing the developer at the board hearing, said that the company may be “open to discussion on the more westerly of the two driveways” on possibly restricting the direction of traffic flow to oneway out only. “We’ll be looking at all options,” he said.

Legion seeks new members


By Karen Zautyk

Observer Correspondent 


Last August, The Observer carried our feature story on the 95th anniversary of American Legion Post 99 of Kearny. At the time, Post Commander Keith McMillan spoke about a problem most veterans’ organizations are facing: diminishing membership.

Over the past decade, Post 99 has lost more than 100 members, primarily due, sadly, to the loss of the World War II generation.

“We’re trying to communicate with the new generation of veterans,” McMillan told us. Next week, the Post hopes, that communication will take a leap forward.

And, although the younger generation is one focus, so too are older veterans.

Those who served during Korea or Vietnam — or WWII — also need support and, often, information about and help with the benefits to which they are entitled.

On p. 8 of today’s paper, you will find an ad from the Joseph E. Frobisher Jr. Post 99 inviting non-member veterans to its monthly meeting, to be held at Tuesday, Feb. 17, at the Legion headquarters, 314 Belgrove Dr.

The meeting will start at 7 p.m., “but come early, around 6 o’clock,” McMillan suggested.  “We’ll have refreshments before and afterward.” As the ad notes, anyone who has served honorably in the U.S. armed services, stateside or overseas, during WWII, Korea, Vietnam or were enlisted during any conflict, including Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, is eligible for Legion membership.

There will be open enrollment, but don’t think you will be pressured to join.

This is basically an invitation to stop by and meet some members and learn what the Legion is all about.

“I want them to feel welcome,” McMillan said. “I don’t want anyone to feel obligated. There’s no commitment. This will just be a great opportunity to network and learn for themselves about the benefits and support we can offer to people in the military.”

For example, McMillan said Post 99 is in the process of organizing a career-counseling program. “We are currently working with some companies that would like to donate their time to help with resumes,” he said.

There is also the Kearny VOICE (Veterans Outreach Information Community & Education) project, which provides veterans and their families with information and assistance (clarifying eligibility, assisting with paperwork, etc.) regarding benefits, claims, job training, education and counseling — including referrals for counseling for vets suffering from PTSD.

Kearny VOICE was formed in partnership with the local VFW and Marine Corps League. Post 99, McMillan noted, “has a good rapport” with those groups, “and we’re working more together now.”

“And even though I would like people to join my post,” he said with a smile, “I would not be upset if they chose to join any one of the three.”

McMillan is also hoping to make the Post 99 building more welcoming, including eventually opening it to vets’ service/therapy dogs. He’d also like to see its doors open more often, “so someone could just stop by for a cup of coffee.”

The Legion “has been involved in the community, but I’d like it to be more involved,” he said, adding that Post 99 “is fortunate enough to have the full support of Kearny’s mayor and Council.”

The Post is planning future open-enrollment programs for its Women’s Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion.

While young vets, especially those fresh out of the service, have many concerns, such as finding a job or starting a family, McMillan hopes they will realize that American Legion membership can offer both help with their futures and a connection with a shared history.

“I want them to know how the many generations before us have given us the foundation to keep a good organization going,” the commander said.

“Now, people coming home from service have a different set of concerns, but we have a common bond: We served.

“This is an opportunity to belong to an organization where you share that common bond. You can help build on the foundation they gave us and enable us to carry on.”

Teens for Jeans big hit


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


The suggestion came from English teacher Kathy Williams but once it was out there, it didn’t take long for the kids from Lincoln Middle School to jump into it.

Led by the school’s Student Council, the seventh- and eighth-graders are joining 10,000 schools worldwide in a venture co-sponsored by global retailer Aeropostale and youth volunteer organization DoSomething.org, with “Teens for Jeans,” to collect used jeans for homeless teens.

According to the sponsors, they have collected more than 4 million pairs of jeans just in the past several years.

“In 2012, when I was Student Council adviser at Franklin School, we participated in Teens for Jeans and at that time, we came in among the top five donors nationwide with 4,600 pairs of jeans collected,” Williams said.

This year, she said, Lincoln School hopes to surpass that achievement but it’s going to take some doing since as of last week, the total raised was 400 pairs.

But the students remain undeterred.

John Camac, president of the Student Council, has taken the initiative by emailing the principals of Franklin, Washington and Schuyler elementary schools and asking them to join in the enterprise and Williams has extended the collection deadline to Thursday, Feb. 12.

As an incentive, Teens for Jeans offers the school that hauls in the most jeans an opportunity to win a $5,000 grant and a free concert by The Vamps, a British pop band.

The program is pushing jeans as a valued clothing item for their durability and for providing “a sense of normalcy” among those teens whose lives have been disrupted. The sponsors say that kids under 18 “account for 39% of the homeless population.”

“Get involved,” urges a flier circulated by Lincoln students to their peers. “Clean out those closets and dresser drawers. Pack up those jeans that don’t fit you anymore. We’ll collect all sizes and colors.”

Several Student Council members offered their take on the project.

Brianne O’Callaghan said she’s enthused about participating because, “it’s nice to actually get to help people, to give something to people who are on the streets all day.” She said she’s observed homeless – not in Kearny – but elsewhere in New Jersey and “it’s sad to see that.”

And, “even if you don’t actually see homeless people,” said John Millar, “it’s still good to know you’ve made a difference in their lives – whether it’s five or 5,000.”

Anthony Bianchini took heart in noting that the pants drive “is a great way to help others without spending a lot of money.” And Cedric Briones said: “It’s been wonderful to see kids come together for this program.”

For Council Treasurer Justin Jablonski, learning that it’s not just adults that are suffering was a revelation. “I didn’t realize that kids our age are also out there and that it’s not just a bad streak of luck,” he said. “That’s depressing.”

Bianchini said this project has inspired him to take on a community service project, “Help Serve Vets,” through his home parish at St. Stephen’s. This summer, he plans to visit an area V.A. facility to visit and extend a helping hand to hospitalized servicemen and women.

Teens for Jeans is an application of this year’s Student Council theme, “Community and Me,” Williams said. “We’ve written letters to veterans and decorated Operation Goody Bags distributed to emergency first responders and veterans.”

When all the jeans are accounted for locally, Williams said they’ll be tied up and bundled and transported in teachers’ cars and/or school bus to the Aeropostale outlet in Morristown for distribution by volunteers to the homeless.

2nd time around for council pick


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


It’s back to square one for members of the Kearny governing body in its efforts to fill a First Ward seat on the Town Council that was vacated when Alexa Arce resigned Jan. 5.

So now, according to Mayor Alberto Santos, the decision will fall, by default, to members of the local Democratic County Committee, who will choose one of the three candidates it offered to the council: Marytrine DeCastro, Sonia Hill and Jenny Mach.

Even after a public Q&A with the three nominees, followed by a nearly 90-minute-long private deliberation among themselves on Feb. 2, the seven Town Council members emerged and declared themselves deadlocked.

Santos said that although “there were three strong candidates,” none had a “strong majority” to put one of the three over the top.

“There were different views who could best serve the council and the town,” the mayor added, and what complicated the situation was that each nominee “had different skill sets” supporting their candidacy.

It’s the first time in at least the past 15 years that the council has failed to come up with a clear choice after a vacancy has occurred, according to Santos. Council President Carol Jean Doyle said she found each candidate “strong and opinionated. Personally, I could work with all three without blinking an eye.”

Each has been an advocate for the community, Doyle said. Hill, for example, was among the group pushing to keep the former West Hudson Hospital open, Mach has been a pioneer in helping launch the Butterfly and Community Gardens and DeCastro is on the Board of Health.

Doyle volunteered that, “the DeCastro family has supported me politically for the past 23 years,” but hastened to add that she remained open-minded about the virtues of all three nominees.

“Each one would bring something positive to the council and the town,” said Doyle, a Third Ward representative, “so how do you pick one?”

It was the council’s suggestion to have the Q&A, Doyle said, because “we thought it would be easier – especially for those of us who didn’t know a candidate particularly well – to make the choice but, ironically, it made it more difficult.”

In fact, Doyle recalled, during the closed session, “[Council] people were cheerleading for all. Everybody wanted the three of them. All three deserve to be there.”

And, she said, all three responded well to the questions posed, such as, “What is your vision for the town’s future?” and “How can you make Kearny better?” and “What would you like to see as your accomplishments during your term in office?”

“Not exactly softball questions,” Doyle said, although she acknowledged that the subject of local real estate “taxes did not come up.”

Fourth Ward Councilman Michael Landy readily agreed that, “We had three really good candidates. They all had positives and we just couldn’t come to a consensus of one over the others.”

All three candidates assured the council that if they were appointed, they had every intention of running in November for the balance of Arce’s unexpired term through 2017.

Meanwhile, the pressure is now on the Dems County Committee to solve the vacancy dilemma.

“By state statute, we must hold another meeting of the committee on or before Feb. 19 and vote by secret ballot for one of the three nominees,” Santos said. “The candidate with the highest number of votes will be the appointee.”

There are 60 members of the county committee – two from each district – but Santos, who is the committee chairman, said that its bylaws are silent on the issue of a quorum for such a vote.

As of press time, no date had been set for that crucial meeting but Doyle said that whenever it is scheduled, she would press for a Q&A session similar to the one arranged for the Town Council for the benefit of county committee members who may be unfamiliar with the nominees before the vote is taken.

Will town privatize water system?

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


On March 1, Kearny Water Superintendent and Licensed Water System Operator Richard R. Ferraioli will retire after having completed 25 years on the job and his departure will leave the town treading water, so to speak.

That’s because the town isn’t sure whether to simply replace him or to re-think how the water department should be run. At the same time, the Kearny Town Council voted last week to approve a one-year renewal of its water services agreement with United Water of Harrington Park for $344,132 to handle water meter readings, billings and collections.

But how the town will reconcile the management of its water system after the superintendent exits is another matter. Members of the Town Council and Mayor Alberto Santos were informed of Ferraioli’s imminent departure at last Monday’s council meeting and voted to accept his retirement and to pay him $72,932 in terminal leave pay and unused vacation time.

Records in the state Treasury Department listed Ferraioli’s annual salary at $121,060. Santos said that Ferraioli’s decision to file his pension application was “very unexpected. He’s been an extremely knowledgeable, hands-on superintendent in a job that’s very taxing and he has done it well. It’s the kind of job where you’re always on call.”

Indeed, at virtually every meeting of the town’s governing body, the Town Council is asked to approve expenditures involving repairs of water leaks and/or water main ruptures that have been occurring on a regular basis – a fact of life that town officials attribute to the water system’s aging pipes.

Because of Ferraioli’s extensive experience dealing with the town’s water system, “we do not think he is replaceable,” the mayor said.

That’s why one of the options likely to be explored, he said, is “privatization of the management of the water system.”

One option that will not be entertained, however, Santos said, is selling the water system outright, much like North Arlington did some years ago by contracting with a state authority, the Passaic Valley Water Commission, to take over the borough’s water system.

Whatever the outcome, “it has to be done in a cost effective way,” Santos said.

One downside in transferring the operation of a water system to a third party, Santos said, “is that you lose control over [setting] your water user rates.” In the cases of Harrison – which contracts with United Water to run its system – and North Arlington, Santos said that the rates are “substantially higher” than those charged in Kearny.

“In some instances, the third party doesn’t even have to call a public hearing before it imposes an increase in the rates,” he noted.

“At least, if we do decide to contract out the management of our system in a cost-effective manner, we can retain our water rate function,” he said.

In November 2014, the Town Council approved nominal rate increases of 18 cents for residential users (going to $2.43 per 100 cubic feet up to 18,000 cubic feet), 34 cents for commercial users (going to $3.14 per 100 cubic feet up to 75,000 cubic feet) and 39 cents for industrial users (going to $3.64 per 100 cubic feet in excess of 75,000 cubic feet). The utility ended 2013 with a deficit but finished last year in the black.

The Kearny Water Department’s budget for 2014 was about $6.3 million, of which about $3.7 million was paid to the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission for the town’s potable water, nearly $1.5 million went for salaries and benefits for seven employees, about $50,000 for employee Social Security contributions and $600,000 for debt payments. As of Dec. 31, 2014, the water utility showed a cumulative outstanding debt of about $15.1 million.

“We’re going to sit down with Rich and [his brother and assistant water superintendent] Ted, along with Town Administrator Michael Martello and CFO Shuaib Firozvi, our engineer Michael Neglia and United Water to discuss what direction we should be pursuing,” Santos said.

He said that Martello would “manage the transition” as the town prepares to phase into a new management system.

Ferriaoli, who replaced his father, Richard Sr., as the town’s water boss, declined to discuss his retirement or his legacy with The Observer, but Council President Carol Jean Doyle offered her take on why he’s leaving when – since he’s only in his 50s – he could still have many productive years ahead.

“Rich is a replica of his father,” said Doyle, “with a beautiful work ethic, climbing down in the hole with his men to fix a pipe. He takes the job home 24/7 and I think he’s reached the stage where he’s burned out.”

The town has repeatedly advertised for additional water department staff, Doyle said, but “we haven’t been able to get people with the expertise required for this type of job.” It’s also hard to find someone with the state-mandated certification to operate a municipal water system, she added.

Brand-new cars go up in flames


By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 


Last Thursday, for the second time in five days, township firefighters responded to the South Kearny industrial area to battle a spectacular blaze, this one involving car carriers loaded with brand-new vehicles that had been on their way to dealerships.

In all, six carriers and 23 vehicles — including sedans, SUVs and mini-vans — were destroyed in the fire, which was reported at 12:05 a.m., Feb. 5, Kearny Fire Chief Steve Dyl said. Four tractors for the trailers also went up in flames.

Because the vehicles were stacked close together, it was difficult to get water between them, Dyl said. Also feeding the flames were the burning tires and fibreglass.

The fire went to two alarms, but was declared under control at 1:06 a.m.

The site was an industrial park at 55 Jacobus Ave., where the tractors and carriers had been parked in a lot on the Alden Leeds chemical company property, Dyl said. The flames threatened a one-story office building belonging to Alden Leeds, but the firefighters kept them from spreading to that structure, the chief said. However, it did suffer some heat damage.

Along with the KFD, fire crews from Harrison and Jersey City were at the scene. The East Newark, North Arlington and North Hudson departments were on standby.

One Kearny firefighter suffered a minor injury and was treated at University Hospital in Newark.

Thursday’s frigid weather caused some problems with icing, “but conditions were not as bad as Saturday,” Dyl said. He was referring to the Jan. 31 four-alarm fire at Kephart Trucking on Second St. in South Kearny.

As reported in last week’s Observer, extensive icing and frozen hoses complicated the job for the 75-80 firefighters who responded to that inferno. In addition to Kearny, they came from Harrison, East Newark, North Arlington, Jersey City, Bayonne and Hoboken.

Smoke from that early morning fire forced the temporary closure of the Pulaski Skyway. The Kephart truck-repair building where the blaze is believed to have begun was so severely damaged that its demolition was ordered.

The cause of last Thursday’s fire is under investigation by the State Division of Fire Safety, Dyl said.

Bust alleged repeat drug offender


By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 


A Kearny man, arrested in January on drug charges, was busted again last week and has now been remanded to the Hudson County Jail on $50,000 bail, with no 10% option.

On Monday, Feb. 2, Kearny vice detectives were at Chestnut and Liberty Sts. at 10:30 p.m., when they spotted Jon Verastegui, 25, in a 1997 Toyota. Chief John Dowie said the officers believed he was in the area for a drug transaction and, when they approached the vehicle, saw him stuffing something down his pants.

They removed him from the car, but he reportedly refused to comply with their orders to keep his hands in full view and they had to forcibly extract same from his waistband. Also extracted, Dowie said, was a large plastic bag containing 11 grams of marijuana.

Verastegui was arrested and transported to KPD headquarters by Officer Dean Gasser. When the suspect was removed from the patrol car at HQ , police said, Gasser noticed “a substantial number” of blue pills on and about the back seat, where the prisoner had been sitting. More blue pills — in Dowie’s words, “a breadcrumb trail” — reportedly were falling out of Verastegui’s pants as he was escorted to booking.

Police said they recovered 26 tablets of the prescription drug clonazepam.

Also seized for evidence was $379 in currency.

Back on Jan. 8, following an investigation into cocaine distribution in Kearny, Verastegui had been arrested by Vice on Bergen Ave. on charges of possession and distribution of that drug.

The charges he now faces are: possession of clonazepam and marijuana, possession with intent to distribute both drugs, intent to distribute both in a school zone (Kearny High School) and near a park, resisting arrest and obstruction of the administration of law.

Fire fatality under review


The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the death of a Belleville resident found dead in his home after a Saturday fire, it was announced by Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray.

A press release issued by Murray’s office said that firefighters responded to an alarm of fire at a Bremond St. residence at 4:45 p.m. and that the lifeless body of occupant Nicholas Quartuccio, 61, was discovered inside.

“It appears at this juncture of the investigation that there was a fire in his residence and he attempted to flee,” the release said. “He never made it out.”

Quartuccio was found in a rear bedroom, the release said.

Cause of the fire and death of the resident is being investigated by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Homicide Major Crimes Homicide and Arson Task Force with the assistance of the Belleville police and fire departments.

Results of an autopsy being conducted by the Regional Medical Examiner are awaited, the release said.