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Maroon Raiders look to be one of best local baseball squads


Photo by Jim Hague The Nutley baseball team hopes to have an excellent season, thanks to a deep pitching staff. From l. are Nick Lianci, head coach Bob Harbison, Kyle Cresci and Michael Meechan.

Photo by Jim Hague
The Nutley baseball team hopes to have an excellent season, thanks to a deep pitching staff. From l. are Nick Lianci, head coach Bob Harbison, Kyle Cresci and Michael Meechan.

By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

Ask veteran Nutley High School head baseball coach Bob Harbison about the character of his Maroon Raiders and the coach doesn’t miss a beat.

“I like the makeup of this team,” Harbison said. “We’re doing pretty well.”

Despite the loss of returning starting shortstop Anthony Rossi to an illness, the Maroon Raiders should be improved on last year’s 15-14 record. There’s no timetable for Rossi’s return to action.

“I’m happy and excited about the team,” Harbison said. “We have a talented pitching rotation. We have some good arms.”

One of the Maroon Raiders’ best pitchers is senior lefthander Nick Lianci. “He’s a three-year varsity player and our starting centerfielder,” Harbison said of Lianci.

“He’s also our lead-off hitter. He’s always been a good player for us, because he gets on base. But he’s also very good as a pitcher. He’s a tough guy to hit. He throws off-speed stuff and is not afraid to throw a 2-0 change-up without a problem. He gives us the best chance to win games and beat the big teams.”

Senior left-hander Michael Meechan is another talented pitcher.

“He pitched a lot for us last year,” Harbison said. “He has had a little trouble with his control in the past, but he’s focused on throwing strikes this year. When his control is on, he’s a very good pitcher. I expect big things from him this year.”

Senior right-hander Kyle Cresci is also a key part to the Maroon Raiders’ rotation.

“He pitched some for us last year, but he was our top hitter,” Harbison said. “He’s a talented player. He runs well.”

Cresci will attend Ramapo College in the fall and play baseball there.

Vinnie Petracco is a junior left-hander. Petracco pitched three scoreless innings in a scrimmage against Kearny last Saturday afternoon.

“He throws very well,” Harbison said. “He throws a lot of strikes and gets a lot of outs.”

Sean Rodriguez is another junior lefty.

“He played a lot last year as a sophomore,” Harbison said. “If he can throw strikes, he could be very good.”

Dillon Rubin is a senior left-hander.

“He’s had a very good preseason,” Harbison said. “He has good stuff.”

Needless to say, that’s a ton of pitching depth.

The person handling all that pitching is veteran backstop Austin Kunz, who has been the starter at catcher for the Maroon Raiders since he was a freshman. Kunz has already declared his intention to attend Alvernia College in the fall. Kunz was also a standout for Harbison on the Nutley basketball team.

“He’s a very good defensive catcher,” Harbison said. “I think declaring for Alvernia will settle him down and make him a better hitter. He can hit. He has great hands.”

Sophomore Anthony Condito, who started at right field last year as a freshman, moves in to play first base, along with senior Nico Mercandante, who played outfield and third base last year.

Junior Pete DeCillia is the second baseman.

“He has a chance to be one of the most effective players for us offensively,” Harbison said.

Junior Angelo Gaeta is the shortstop right now.

“He’s been playing very well for us,” Harbison said. “We put him at short and he’s been able to handle it.”

Junior Isaak Lindenbaum is the starter at third base.

The outfield picture is still a little clouded. Cresci is in the mix in left field, along with Rodriguez and sophomore Andrew Connor, who has a lot of promise.

“He can run, hit, throw,” Harbison said. “He’s forcing himself into the lineup.”

Centerfield duties will go to Lianci when he’s not on the mound and Rodriguez and possibly Connor.

Right field sees a combination of Condito, Rodriguez and Mercandante.

Sophomore Andrew Santos will see a lot of time as the designated hitter.

“He can also play the infield, but we’ll see him a lot as the DH,” Harbison said.

The Maroon Raiders begin their season against Seton Hall Prep on April 1. That’s no April Fool’s joke. It’s a big challenge right away for the Maroon Raiders.

“Let’s get going,” Harbison said. “We’ll see how good we are right away. I think we can be very good. We just need someone to step out and lead us on the mound. We definitely have talent. It’s going to be interesting to see how this team does against the better teams.” The Maroon Raiders hope to be playing meaningful games into late May and possibly June.

Toddler ‘rescued’ by tenant

Photo courtesy Harrison Housing Authority Karina Robredo accepts certifi cate of appreciation from Harrison Housing Authority Chairman Larry Bennett.

Photo courtesy Harrison Housing Authority
Karina Robredo accepts certificate of appreciation from Harrison Housing Authority Chairman Larry Bennett.



A scantily dressed 4-year-old boy wandered out of his Kearny home into the cold but, fortunately, was intercepted by an adult who kept the lad safe until authorities could be contacted, officials said.

Police said the child was returned, without harm, to his family.

The Harrison Housing Authority has credited tenant Karina Robredo, a resident of Harrison Gardens, for befriending the boy.

In a press release, the HHA said Robredo encountered the child, attired only in a T-shirt and short pants, wandering around the Harrison Gardens property on a freezing day on Feb. 24.

Robredo asked the boy his name and where he lived but he would say only that his mother was in the hospital and that he was cold, the release said.

The release said that Robredo brought the boy a sweatshirt and blanket from her apartment and then escorted him to the HHA management office where a call was placed to the Harrison Police Department.

HPD responded and learned that the boy had walked out of his home on Sanford Ave. and crossed Schuyler Ave., a heavily-traveled county road, to get to the Harrison Gardens.

The HPD took care of the boy until he was picked up by Kearny Police who then took him home.

– Ron Leir

News from the Nutley Police blotter

March 15

At 11:17 a.m., police responded to a Park Ave. location on a report of illegal dumping. Police were advised by residents that someone had left an old end table on the sidewalk in front of their home, blocking the front door and that, previously, someone had deposited an old chair cushion in the same spot. Both incidents happened in the late evening or early morning, the residents said.

March 16

Officers on patrol on Hillside Ave., at 2:23 p.m., stopped a Plymouth minivan with its rear passenger window missing. Police said they learned that the driver, Ralph Adubato, 50, of North Arlington, had an outstanding warrant from Nutley. He was arrested on the warrant and then released with a new court date.

March 17

At 1:10 p.m., police and firefighters were dispatched to a house on Burnett Place on a report of water flowing from the building. Upon arrival, police said they observed an open hose spigot with water streaming from it. They shut it off. Police said the side door was unsecured and the house was empty. Police learned that the house is owned by a bank and that a contractor for the bank was at the location.

March 20

Police executed a motor vehicle stop at a Centre St. location, at 1:44 a.m., and arrested the driver, Marvin Torres, 19, and his passenger, Brian Rosas, 19, both of Belleville. Torres was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia (a crack pipe), ticketed on a charge of failing to signal a turn and released pending a court appearance. Rosas was charged with possession of suspected cocaine (several small white, rock-like substances which, police said, were found in a small plastic bag in his sock), possession of heroin (five glassine envelopes labeled “Brown Magic” containing brown powder that, police said, tested positive for heroin) and possession of suspected marijuana under 50 grams (the remainder of a marijuana cigar). Both were released pending court dates.

At 5:25 a.m., police went to a Hickory Road location on a report of property damage. There, a resident told police they heard a loud noise in their backyard and, looking outside, noticed that the neighbor’s retaining wall and fence had fallen into their property causing damage to the lawn and part of the rear chain link fence. A Faber Place homeowner told police they also heard a loud noise, and, looking out their window, saw that their entire rear fence and wall were gone.

At 10:05 a.m., police responded to a Bloomfield Ave. location on a report of a theft. Police were told that someone had stolen a stainless steel double sink, valued at $300, from a parking lot. Detectives are reviewing video surveillance.

A fraud victim came to headquarters to report they found three unauthorized charges totaling more than $500 on their bank card, from various locations in New York. Their financial institution has closed the account and is investigating, police said.

March 21

At 11:24 a.m., police received a report of a theft. The victim told police that while shopping at a Franklin Ave. grocery, someone took their wallet from their purse. The wallet contained cash, credit cards and personal items, the victim told police. Security personnel are reviewing surveillance tape for possible clues.

At 11:55 a.m., the manager of a Centre St. business reported criminal mischief to the front door of the property. Police said it appears that someone put something like Crazy Glue in the front door lock. The manager told police that the front door lock to the entrance of the closed restaurant, which is attached to the business, was also “glued.” Police said that surveillance video will be screened for potential clues.

– Ron Leir


Robert Thomas Bubenas

Robert Thomas Bubenas (“The Duke”) died suddenly on March 12 in Kearny. He was 62.

Born in Kearny, he was a lifelong resident.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass was held at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, followed by entombment in Holy Cross Cemetery. Online condolences may be left at www.armitagewiggins com.

Bubenas was a motorcycle police officer in both Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Kearny.

He was a member of the VFW and The Schuyler Tuna Club.

He served in the Airforce in Vietnam and was in the military police.

Son of the late John and Pauline (nee Benkes) Bubenas, he is survived by his brothers and their wives, John Paul and Joan Bubenas and Richard Francis and Ana Bubenas, and his sister, Dorothy Jane Graham, along with their loving families.

In lieu of flowers, kindly make a donation to the Kearny Police Department DARE Program.

Gloria A. Eckhardt

Gloria A. Eckhardt (nee Locorriere) died March 21. She was 74.

Born in Jersey City, she lived in North Bergen and Brick.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass will be held Tuesday, March 23, at 11 a.m. at Queen of Peace Church, North Arlington. Entombment will be in Holy Cross Cemetery. To leave an online condolence, please visit www. armitagewiggins.com.

Gloria was the beloved wife of Joseph E. Eckhardt. She leaves her loving sons and their wives Joseph E. III and Rosa, James R. and Colleen and Robert A. and Judith Eckhardt. She was the devoted sister of Leonard Locorriere, Laura Mott, Helen Bostwick and the late Guy Locorriere, Mary Fortunato and Rita Reilly. Also surviving are her cherished grandchildren Julia, Stephanie, Bianca, James, Andrew and Emily.

Elizabeth Farrell

Elizabeth Farrell died on March 13. She was 83.

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, she lived in Kearny since 1962.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass was held at St. Cecilia Church, Kearny, followed by burial in Holy Cross Cemetery. To leave online condolences, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Mrs. Farrell was a member of the St. Cecilia Seniors, the Salvation Army Home League, and the Friendship and Harmony Clubs. She worked in the actuary department at Mutual Benefit Life.

She is survived by her sons, Ralph, John and his wife, Susan, and Alex Farrell and her grandchildren, Shannon, Breanne and Michael, and her great-grandson, Jayden. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Special Olympics.

Anthony Jankiewicz

Anthony Jankiewicz, 79, entered into eternal rest on March 15.

The funeral service was held at the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison, with the Rev. Pawel Milewski of Our Lady of Czestochowa Church officiating. Interment followed in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington. For more information, please visit www.mulliganfuneralhome. org.

Born in Choromce, Poland, Anthony came to the U.S. and Harrison in 1951. He worked as a machinist for Kleer Kast Plastic Company in Kearny for many years.

Anthony is survived by his brother Zenon and his wife Brigitte from Kearny, his sister Mrs. Irene Oeckel and her husband Michael from Phillipsburg, and his brother-in -law John Sessa. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews, and grandnieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by his parents Apolinary and Bronislawa Jankiewicz, his brother Henryk, and sisters Rozalia Zambrzyski and Genevieve Sessa. For those desiring, contributions may be made to E.I.E.S. for the Blind, or Cancer Research, in care of the funeral home in loving memory of Anthony.

Alice Majkowski

Alice Majkowski (nee Cichowski) died March 18. She was 91.

Born in Newark, she lived many years in Kearny.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass was held at Our Lady of Sorrows, Kearny, followed by burial in Holy Cross Cemetery. To leave online condolences please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Alice was a retired administrator from Public Service and was active with the Benstead Senior Center in Kearny.

Wife of the late John J. Majkowski, she is survived by her son, John, and his wife, Donna Majkowski; her daughter, Rosalie Majkowski, and daughter-in-law, Judith Majkowski. She was predeceased by her son,Vincent. Also surviving are her grandchildren, Vivian, Derek, Thad, Allyson, Deven, Jason, and Billy, and her great-grandchildren, Michael John, Kelsey, Kylee, Reese, Tyler, Rowan, Brett, Simon, Brady and Elliot. Alice also leaves behind her dear friend and “partner in crime,” Ethel Tolen.

In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to the Henrietta Benstead Senior Center.

Frank V. Pellittere

Frank V. Pellittere died March 18. He was 68.

Born in Paterson, he lived in Skyland Lakes and the past 40 years in Kearny.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral service was held from the funeral home, followed by a private cremation.

To leave online condolences, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com

Frank owned Star Mortgage Company in Bloomfield and was active with The Boys Club of America.

He is survived by his wife Jo-Ann (nee Lallo), his sons Frank J. Pellittere and Brian Sherry and his stepchildren Anthony Giudice, Justina Mann, Frank Smith, Gordon Smith, Gail Hernandez and Tracey Gallacher. He was the stepbrother of Frank Zampese. He is also survived by 19 grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to The American cancer Society.

Thomas R. Russo

Thomas R. Russo died March 11 in Florida. He was 59.

Born in Newark, he was a lifelong Kearny resident.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A prayer service was held at the funeral home, followed by a private cremation. To leave online condolences, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Tom had been a truck driver and a member of Teamsters Local 560. He was a board member at Hickory Hills, his Pennsylvania home association, and enjoyed coaching youth sports.

Formally married to Karen (nee Robinson), he was the son of Fay and the late Thomas. He leaves behind his children and their spouses Kimberly and Dwayne Kulish and Thomas D. and Christine Russo. He is also survived by his grandchildren Dwayne, Emma, Lindsey and Mia «on the way».

Dorothy A. Slater

Dorothy A. Slater, a Kearny resident, passed away at home on March 23, after a brief illness.

Visiting will be on Wednesday, March 26, from 4 to 8 p.m., at the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass will be held on Thursday, March 27, at 11:30 a.m. at St. Stephen’s Church. Private cremation will follow. To leave online condolences, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Dorothy was born in Scranton, Pa., the daughter of John and Lottie Shuba. She graduated from West Scranton High School and earned her nursing degree at Newark City Hospital, Newark. She worked as a registered nurse for more than 31 years at West Hudson Hospital in Kearny, where she had many lifelong friends.

Dorothy is survived by her beloved husband of 57 years, Robert F. Slater, and their three children: Robert J. (Michelle) of Stafford, Janet Slater Bayer of Kearny and Maria Slater of Harrison. She is also survived by her grandchildren Michael Bayer (Alyssa), Kelly Bayer, Jessica, Robert G. (Tatiana), Nicholas, Breanna and Mason Slater, and her great grandson Robert Eli. Dorothy was predeceased by her brother Leo Shuba and is survived by her brother Joseph Shuba (Bonnie) and sister MaryAnn O›Neill. Dorothy also leaves behind a wonderful extended family of nieces, nephews and cousins.

Room for ‘Blue’ in tight budget


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent


A municipal spending blueprint introduced by the Kearny governing body last Tuesday night will mean that local property taxes on the average house assessed at around $95,000 will rise by an estimated $417, Finance Director Shuaib Firozvi predicted.

Although total appropriations of $76.5 million are up by less than 1% over last year, the municipal tax levy is rising by $4.3 million – a jump of nearly 11% — to $43.9 million, according to Firozvi’s calcuations.

How local school taxes and the town’s share of county expenses will factor into the overall local tax rate has yet to be played out. Read more »

Parents alerted to virus



The Lyndhurst Board of Education has alerted parents to the recent appearance of a viral ailment known as “Fifth Disease” among several elementary school age youngsters in the district.

A March 6 posting on the BOE website said that some students had been diagnosed with the condition which was described as “a common disease of school children.”

It listed as likely symptoms, “red rash on cheeks, lacey and itchy rash on arms and legs; sometimes mild joint pain or swelling [and] low grade fever.” Parents are advised to contact their doctors for more information.

In particular, the posting said that, “Pregnant women who have come in contact with an infected child should speak with their doctor.” The posting said that a child with the ailment is “contagious two weeks to three days before appearance of rash. Once rash appears, child is no longer contagious and can attend school.” Read more »

KPD focuses on security cameras


By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent


Early last year, a malevolent vandal spray-painted graffiti up and down Elm St. between Oakwood and Midland Aves., damaging houses, garages, retaining walls and a car (which was reportedly re-targeted after its owner had it cleaned up).

Authorities said the damage averaged about $500 per property; the damage to the auto, about $4,000.

Thanks to cooperative homeowners with private security cameras, the Kearny Police Department was able to readily identify a suspect and take him into custody.

Now, as crimes go, you might think graffiti is no big deal (unless, that is, you have been a victim faced with a graffiti-removal bill you can ill afford). So, how about murder? Read more »

‘Street’ smart in language skills


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent


Check out the action in kindergarten and first grade classes in Lyndhurst public schools.

Instead of sand creatures and tinker toys, kids are creating reading and writing portfolios and parents and/or guardians are being asked to take an active role in helping their kids mount the ladder of academic success.

School administrators are deploying a language arts curriculum called “Reading Street” to get their young charges on the march to literacy mecca. Read more »

Big tab for Oval makeover; survey next


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent


It will take an estimated $15.8 million to revamp Kearny’s Gunnell Oval recreation complex off Schuyler Ave., just north of Oakwood Ave., to the town’s specifications.

But unless the town can find outside funding sources to make that happen, it appears that at least the two environmentally compromised softball fields and soccer/T-ball field that remained off limits last summer will stay closed this season as well, forcing those leagues to scramble for alternate sites. Read more »

Serial robber pleads guilty

Dept of Justice logo

A Newark man pleaded guilty last week to his role in 14 armed robberies — including one in Kearny, one in Belleville and two in Bloomfield — U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

The accused, 27-year-old Jamar Darby, a/k/a “Rhino,” entered the plea March 12 before U.S. District Judge William H. Walls in Newark.

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court, Darby conspired with others to rob various commercial establishments from Dec. 29, 2012, through May 10, 2013. Read more »