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Category: News

One dead in Lyndhurst shooting

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The state Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team is investigating a fatal shooting of the driver of a stolen SUV at the Lyndhurst-Rutherford border early Tuesday, Sept. 16, according to a press release issued by the AG’s Office.

The driver, identified as Kashad Ashford, 23, of Newark, was shot by police shortly before 2:30 a.m. after a pursuit and a passenger in the vehicle, listed as Jemmaine T. Bynes, 30, of East Orange, was arrested.

The AG’s Office said the two men, who reportedly had a weapon inside the vehicle, were being chased in connection with their alleged efforts to steal or break into vehicles. Read more »

‘Sober House’ rattles residents

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By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY –

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

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

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

Nonetheless, what irks neighbors like Joanne O’Malley, who teaches a half-block away at Roosevelt Elementary School, is that the building – vacant for most of the summer after it was sold in June – suddenly became a focus of activity, with strangers going in and out “at all hours of the night.”

Town officials said the property had been leased to Valentine House, described by its website as a “self-run, self-supported recovery” group whose mission is “to open and implement transitional homes for recovering addicts and alcoholics.” Residents “must have job income, show proof of income [and] be committed to living a sober lifestyle ….”

“I fully understand addiction is a disease,” O’Malley told the governing body Tuesday. “I have seen it in my own family. The problem is this is an unregulated organization coming in.”

Noting that the organization’s website lists “anger management” classes as one of its services, O’Malley wondered: “What if a fight breaks out and rolls out into the street when kids are going to school?”

When the former owner was still around, O’Malley said, she would invite youngsters to huddle on her sheltered porch during inclement weather. “That house has been a safe zone for our kids,” she said. But now, she said, “I’ve seen men with no shirts, tattoos lifting weights on that porch.”

Aside from O’Malley, some dozen residents expressed their concerns at Tuesday’s meeting. Among them was Carole Gualtieri, who lives next door to the house and who said that while she empathized with the occupants’ goal, “This is not the place to do it. Our children shouldn’t have to pass this house, not knowing the men in it. Get those men removed from my neighborhood!”

Responding, Mayor Alberto Santos said he, too, had concerns about the “transiency” of the residency arrangement at the house. It’s in that context, the mayor said, that the town objects to how the property is being used – which, he added, appears to be as a “rooming or boarding house, or hotel, which is not permitted in an R-1 (one-family) zone.”

And, he said, since the property owner has no certificate of occupancy for the current use, the owner “will have to go to the zoning board which determines whether a use variance should be granted.”

To that end, Kearny Assistant Construction Official Anthony Chisari has charged the owner, Jaqueline Lopes of Kearny, with “allowing single family residence to be occupied as a rooming house without having received the proper prior approvals” and with violating “conditions of the certificate of occupancy.”

Additionally, both Lopes and Valentine House were ordered to “eliminate rooming house activities immediately.”

“They have until Oct. 3 to deal with the problem,” said Town Construction Official Michael Martello, or face possible penalties totaling $8,000, at the discretion of the municipal court.

Resident Tina Torres warned that unless the town did something quickly, neighbors with children would likely “sell” their homes. And neighbor Maureen Kilduff added: “I’m not letting my children outside to play. I’m scared.”

Police Chief John Dowie, who lives near the house, said he has assigned plainclothes units to monitor the area. “Anything that happens, don’t be afraid to call [headquarters] and have it documented,” he said.

Charles Valentine, founder and director of Valentine House, which also has facilities in Lyndhurst and Montclair, told The Observer that tax records list the Kearny property as a single family dwelling and anti-addiction centers are protected by federal law prohibiting discrimination against those with a disability.

While he understands “what the neighbors are going through,” their fears are misplaced, Valentine said.

Valentine, who says he’s a licensed minister counseling people in recovery at The Life Christian Church in West Orange, said: “We run a ‘Sober House,’ people living there are going to work, volunteer their time for community service – we’re an asset to the community.”

The movement of people in and out of the house witnessed by neighbors, Valentine explained, was his staff painting walls and removing ragged carpeting to make the place more habitable. No construction work was involved, he said.

The Kearny facility allows only male clients and currently there are four staying in the six-bedroom house, Valentine said. Clients are referred from “detox, rehab, outpatient care and some respond to our website,” he said. No treatment services, including anger management, are offered onsite, he said.

Clients “pay a weekly membership fee” and they “can stay a week or for life – it’s up to them.” House rules forbid women visitors and drinking. “They get periodically tested [for alcohol],” he said, and if a client is found to have violated the rules, “they have to be out in 20 minutes.” Asked about the weightlifting episode, Valentine said that was a one-night incident and the client involved “doesn’t do it anymore.”

Valentine said that until the Kearny clients choose a “coordinator” to take charge of the house, he’ll be spending at least one night a week at the property.

Asked if he fretted about the program being displaced, Valentine said: “Given enough time, it’ll all calm down.”

2nd hotel signals growth

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By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

HARRISON – 

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

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

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

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

Element Harrison is expected to generate an annual PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) for the town of $189,000, according to Harrison CFO Gabriela Simoes Dos Santos. From the Hampton, the town receives a $170,000-a-year PILOT fee, she said.

Additionally, Simoes said, “A 3% hotel tax is remitted by the hotels directly to the state, which in turn sends monthly remittances to the town.” In its financial agreement with the town, the Element has agreed to pay “a $100,000 minimum guarantee for the first three years,” she said, while the Hampton Inn “has generated approximately $119,000 from January to August of 2014.”

The seven-story hotel had a “soft opening” during Labor Day weekend and has experienced about a 70% occupancy rate, according to Jim Shanahan, director of operations. “We actually sold out on Saturday (Sept. 6),” he noted.

A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for Thursday, Oct. 9, at 4 p.m., said Harrison Mayor James Fife.

The hotel is owned and was built by a joint venture of Ironstate Holdings LLC and The Pegasus Group, and is managed by Crescent Hotels & Resorts. Element is affiliated with Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

Assembled as a series of modular units, the hotel, designed by the New York architectural firm HWKN offers various room categories: five 2-bedroom suites, each with two bathrooms; 23 1-bedroom suites, a dozen with two queen beds in each room and 11 with one king in each; five disabled-accessible units; 45 studios with kings; and 48 studios, each with two queens; and 12 “standard” rooms, each with one king. All are equipped with kitchen setups, and all but the standards allow for cooking.

Nightly room rates range from $129 to $299, according to Shanahan.

Guests are afforded use of a 24-hour fitness center, indoor pool and a 1,500 square foot meeting room with flexible layout and state-of-the-art technology designed to meet business and/or social needs.

Guests also have access to complimentary bicycles, complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, breakfast and an evening reception with salon bar carts stocked with premium wines and beers, soft drinks and snacks, available from 5:30 to 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

Parking is provided in the adjacent Hoboken Parking Center.

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Photos by Ron Leir Views of some of the furnishings at the new Element Harrison hotel.

Photos by Ron Leir
Views of some of the furnishings at the new Element Harrison hotel.

 

Shanahan said Element Harrison has 36 employees spread among front desk and housekeeping, including six rotating on-site managers. About 70% of the workers were hired from the Newark/West Hudson region, he said.

Element Harrison is part of the Ironstate/Pegasus partnership’s mixed-use development of 2,600 luxury apartments and 80,000 square feet of street-level retail space, the first phase of which has already been completed. The hotel was the second phase and Phase 3 – 329 apartments and 8,700 square feet of retail – is targeted for completion by October 2015.

“The opening of Element Harrison is a landmark moment as it helps advance Harrison’s growth as a standalone, well-balanced urban destination that’s also a great launching point for excursions to Manhattan and other New Jersey Gold Coast locations,” said Michael Barry president of Ironstate. “Starwood’s forwardthinking Element concept is a great complement to our broader vision for Harrison and reflects the national interest and significant financial investment the area continues to garner.”

“We are delighted to partner with Starwood Hotels to introduce its popular Element brand to this new entertainment destination in the area,” said Michael George, CEO of Crescent Hotels & Resorts.

A harvest of plenty in special garden

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By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 

HARRISON– 

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

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

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

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

Soon, the land was beautiful and bountiful, because the angel watched over it in every season. Just because this was the right thing to do.

The End The best thing about this story is that it’s true.

We have not met the Gardening Angel. We don’t even know her name.

Which is fine, because we would not identify her anyway, lest the king’s men get annoyed. Besides, we are told she speaks no English.

We learned about her from a Harrison man, Tony DeOliveira, who showed us the garden and told us its history. We are not going to give its location, either.

The folks in the neighborhood know where it is and appreciate it, and that is enough.

“I’m here 16 years,” DeOliveira said, “and it was an eyesore until three years ago, when she started the garden.”

The land, which belongs to the state, had been more or less abandoned, and it became an illegal dumping ground.

“It was disgusting,” he said. “People would pull up in trucks and throw their trash over the fence.

“I contacted the state to put up No Dumping signs,” He told us. “That didn’t work. No sign in the world would stop it.”

“This,” he said, waving his hand toward all the greenery, “stopped it.”

The plot is overflowing with plants. From a distance, one might think it’s all wild growth. But venture closer, and you see the herbs and fruits and vegetables.

Squash, eggplant, tomatoes, watermelons, cilantro, and many wonderful things whose names we do not know. Most of them of enormous size.

“She likes to grow massive things,” DeOliveira said, pointing out some 4-foot-long squash and 2-foot-long cucumbers hanging from a trellis. Nearby were some eggplants, which appeared only slightly larger than normal. “The eggplants are late-bloomers,” he explained, and we recently learned that they are now the size of watermelons.

Flowers also bloom there, but these are not purely decorative. “Every flower bears a fruit,” DeOliveira noted.

Since there are no pipes in or near the plot, how does the Gardening Angel water all this? She carries water there from her own home. Carries it in large, heavy buckets. And she’s a senior citizen.

“But she’s strong as a bull,” DeOliveira said. “You should see her in the spring. She’s out there clearing the ground with a pick-ax. God bless her. Every year, she removes more weeds, and the garden grows.”

As we stood there talking, several people walked by, pointing out the giant veggies and smiling. “See how people stop?” DeOliveira said. “No one steals anything. No one damages anything.”

The Gardening Angel doesn’t keep all this produce for herself. Far from it. “She hands out things to the whole neighborhood,” DeOliveira said.

So, on one block in Harrison, on one small lot, one small woman has shown what hard work and determination and neighborhood pride can do.

As DeOliveira said: God bless her

Vino, verily, arriving soon

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By Ron Leir

 Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY –

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

We’re talking vino, folks.

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

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

Councilwoman Susan McCurrie, Fourth Ward council representative on the Kearny Urban Enterprise Zone Development Corp. board that sponsors the market, said that during the past year, the state amended its regulations to allow the licensing of wine sales on a temporary basis.

McCurrie said she’s been advised that, “they run a very controlled operation.”

The only downside, from the customer’s point of view, is that senior vouchers won’t be accepted toward the purchase of wine at the market, McCurrie said.

Still, she noted, there will be opportunities to taste the product. “They’ll pour out a one and a half ounce free sample,” the councilwoman said.

Asked if there would be any restrictions on the number of samples available to a customer, McCurrie said: “I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. … We’ll have to be very diligent in checking IDs.”

And what will the winery people be charging for a bottle of their finest vino? “I understand the price is $20 and up,” McCurrie said.

“It’s all part of our policy of promoting New Jersey home-grown products,” she added.

If you’re wondering about the product, here’s some background on Four Sisters Winery from its website: The Belvidere-based property “sits nestled in a beautiful valley amidst the rolling fields and picturesque hills of Warren County ….”

The business, opened in 1984, is run by Matty Matarazzo “on his 250-acre farm” where visitors are welcome, January through April, for “educational tours and comprehensive wine tastings.” It has “won over 100 regional, national, and international awards for red, white and fruit wines.”

Don’t expect to find “traditional European varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, etc.,” the website warns, since they can’t abide the frigid winters of America.

Their wines “are made from grapes known as a Vitis Labrusca (Native American) and a French American Hybrids, which are a crossbred of traditional European varieties and Native American varieties” adaptable to “cold weather viticulture” in the U.S.

Four Sisters has recently planted “two new varieties [of grapes] known as Frontenac and Marquette from the University of Minnesota that are very cold hardy and can produce exceptional red wines.”

And they have a sevenacre apple orchard that produces juice for several of their wines, such as “Sadie’s Apple, Spicy Sisters and Captain’s Choice.”

Town OKs Passaic Ave. builders’ deal

KEARNY – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Ron Leir 

Around Town

Belleville

The Newark St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee will hold a Halfway-to-St. Patrick’s Day fundraiser Wednesday, Sept. 17, 6 to 9 p.m., at the Belleville Knights of Columbus on Bridge St. The event will honor the past grand marshals and deputy grand marshals. Admission is $35 for adults ($15 for those under 21). Guests will enjoy corned beef and cabbage, dessert, beer, wine and soda. The Eamonn Ryan Showband will entertain.

The Belleville Public Library and Information Center, 221 Washington Ave., will screen the animated musical fantasy/comedy “Frozen” (PG) Saturday, Sept. 20, at 2 p.m.

Belleville Elks Lodge 1123, 254 Washington Ave., hosts its monthly breakfast Sunday, Sept. 21, 9 a.m. to noon. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for children under age 10 and free for children under age 3.

Bloomfield

Certified school counselor Allen Regar provides information on researching and applying to college at a seminar Sept. 22 at 6 p.m. at Bloomfield Public Library, 90 Broad St.

Harrison

Harrison Downtown Community Development Partnership and Neighborhood Preservation Program sponsors a Flea Market and Collectible Show Saturday, Sept. 27, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Harrison Ave., between Second St. and Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. Admission is free.

Four exhibitor spaces are available for free to any school or local organization. Call 201- 998-1144 for a reservation.

Holy Cross Church sponsors a bus trip Sunday, Sept. 21, to the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, leaving from Holy Cross School, Frank E. Rodgers Blvd., at 10 a.m. Refreshments will be served in the school basement starting at 9:15 a.m. Cost is $30 ($25 returned in slot play.) Call Joan for reservations at 973- 481-2434 (leave your name, phone number and number attending).

Kearny

The Class of 1964 of St. Cecilia High School is holding a 50th reunion dinner Saturday, Oct. 4, 6:30 to 10:30 p.m., at Mama Vittoria Restaurant, 160 Franklin Ave., Nutley. To attend, contact Kathy McCourt Jackes at kathyjackes@yahoo. com or 908- 303-9993; Kathy Walsh Vecchio at katvec46gmail.com or 973-865-0402; or Nancy Branin Waller at nancy.waller2@verizon.net or 201- 889-6229 by Sept. 25.

St. Cecilia Church, 114 Chestnut St., sponsors a flea market Saturday, Sept. 20, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Vendors are welcome. For more information, call 201-991-1116. All proceeds benefit the parish.

The Kearny Police Department, 237 Laurel Ave., in partnership with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, will once again be participating in Operation Take Back Sept. 27, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participants are asked to use the department’s Forest St. door for the Juvenile Aid Bureau. Turn in expired, unused, or unwanted prescription or over the counter medication. This is an anonymous drop off. No ID required. For more information, call Officer Corbett at 201-998-1313, ext. 2820.

Kearny Lions Club sponsors a bus trip to Sands Casino, Bethlehem, Pa., Sept. 27, leaving from 60 Kingsland Ave. at 9 a.m. Price is $35. Tickets include $20 for slots and a $5 food voucher. For tickets, call Alvin at 201-997-9371, ext. 18, or Jo Ann at 201-998-3018.

Kearny UNICO hosts “Wheels for Vic,” a fundraiser to purchase a power wheelchair for Kearny resident Victor Muniz, Sunday, Oct. 5, at 1 p.m., in the former Boystown gym, 499 Belgrove Drive. The $30 admission covers a raffle, lunch and live music. Muniz was paralyzed after a tree branch fell on him during a 2008 summer storm. For tickets or more information, contact Lou Pandolfi at 201-368-2409, Joseph Sgalia at 201- 998-6879, Rossana McLaughlin at 201-407-7262, or Judy Hyde at 201-991-5812. The committee also welcomes both monetary and/or gift donations for this event.

Trinity Church, 575 Kearny Ave., hosts a fish, chicken and chips dinner Friday, Oct. 3, 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and two for $30. Take-out will also be available. Tricky Tray will be held 8 to 9 p.m. For tickets, call Annamarie at 201-998- 2368 after 5:30 p.m.

Pathways to Independence sponsors its 13th annual Walka- Thon Saturday, Oct. 4, 10 a.m. to noon, at West Hudson Park, Schuyler Ave. entrance. All are welcome. Proceeds benefit adults with disabilities who attend Pathways programs. For more information, call Pathways Executive Director Alvin Cox at 201-997- 9371, ext. 18.

Redemptoris Mater Seminary, Kearny, sponsors a 5K run Sunday, Sept. 28, beginning on S. Midland Ave. at 6 p.m. This run is one of many events being held to raise much-needed funds for the seminary. There is a $25 registration fee. More information is available at www.rmnewark.org or fathermanuel@gmail. com.

Lyndhurst

The Lyndhurst Food Pantry, 253 Stuyvesant Ave., resumes normal business hours on Monday, Sept. 22. Pantry hours are Monday to Thursday, 1 to 3:30 p.m. Interested patrons must submit proof of need to the Health Department, 601 Riverside Ave., Suite 1. For more information, call the department at 201- 804-2500.

United Presbyterian Church, 511 Ridge Road, hosts a Victorian tea, sponsored by the Meadowlands Museum, Sunday, Sept. 28, 3 to 6 p.m. The event includes a lecture on the history and preparation of tea, plus live music.

Tickets are $30 and available at the museum, 91 Crane Ave., Rutherford, Wednesdays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

New Jersey’s “Bat Man” Joe D’Angeli and his Batmobile will be at the Meadowlands Environment Center, 2 De- Korte Park Plaza Friday, Sept. 19, 6 to 9 p.m. D’Angeli will present a live bat exhibit. A portion of the proceeds go to bat conservation and rehabilitation groups nationwide. Suggested donation is $5. Registration is recommended and appreciated. To register, go www.njmeadowlands.gov/ec or call 201-257-2231.

The Masonic Club, 316 Riverside Ave., hosts all-youcan- eat crabs and cole slaw (chicken available for nonseafood eaters) Saturday, Sept. 20, at 6 p.m. Admission is $20 at the door. For reservations, call the club at 201-933-1330.

Lyndhurst Garden Club meets Monday, Sept. 29, at 7:30 p.m., at the Senior Citizen Building, 250 Cleveland Ave. Topics include designed flower beds, gardening in pots, and more, plus a raffle and social hour. For more information, call 201-939-0033.

The Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst sponsors an indoor garage sale Saturday, Sept. 20, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Senior Building.

Lyndhurst Public Library, 355 Valley Brook Ave., hosts an autumn craft program for grades 1 to 4 Monday, Sept. 29, 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. Registration is required. To register, call the library at 201-804-2478.

Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Post 3549, 527 Valley Brook Ave., hosts a karaoke party Friday, Sept. 19, at 8 p.m. The VFW hall is available for all occasions. For more information, call the post at 201-939- 3080.

The Lyndhurst Health Department announces the following programs. To register, call the department at 201-804-2500.

• A bi-annual women’s health clinic, arranged through a partnership with Clara Maass Medical Center, is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 1, at 9 a.m. The clinic offers education on breast self-examination and a PAP test and is open to township residents ages 18 and over.

• A free meditation course is offered weekly on Tuesdays, 6 to 7 p.m., starting Sept. 16, at the Community Center, Riverside and Tontine Aves. For more information, call the Health Department.

United Presbyterian Church sponsors a vintage marketplace and gourmet food truck fest slated for Sunday, Sept. 21, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1050 Wall St. West parking lot. Admission is free.

North Arlington

Learn all about the history of newspapers in the United States with journalist Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta at North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Road, on Tuesday, Sept. 30, at 6:30 p.m.

The library’s Historical Fact and Fiction Book Club meets Thursday, Sept. 25, at 10 a.m. and the Friends of the Library Book Club meets Friday, Sept. 26, at 10 a.m.

The library’s Comics Club for ages 6 and up meets Wednesday, Sept. 24, at 3:30 p.m.

Queen of Peace Church celebrates the 22nd annual International Prayer and Fasting Campaign Monday, Sept. 22, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the LaSalle Center, 200 Ridge Road. For more information, call 201-997-7000.

Nutley

The Art Workshop program for grades 1 to 6 resumes for an eight-week fall session Oct. 11. Classes will be held Saturdays at the Recreation Department, 44 Park Ave. The fee is $30 per child. Class size is limited and applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Online registration is available at https://nutleynj. my.gov-i.com/recreation. For more information, call 973- 284-4966 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

The Department of Parks & Recreation is accepting Recreation Basketball registration for the 2014-2015 season. This program is open to Nutley youngsters in grades 3 to 8. Teams compete in a recreational league format and are grouped in divisions by grade. Boys and girls will play in separate leagues. The program seeks to provide ample playing time for all participants, teach the fundamentals of individual and team play and encourage sportsmanship.

Registration deadline is Oct. 17. The fee is $40 per player. For more information, visit www.nutleynj.org or call 973- 284-4966 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Nutley residents, particularly parents, coaches and child-care providers, are encouraged to attend Heartsaver CPR & AED training to be offered at the Department of Parks & Recreation. A threehour class, taught by Lifesaving Techniques, is available Thursday, Sept. 25, or Tuesday, Oct. 14, at the Rec Department, 44 Park Ave.

The fee is $65. Class size is limited. Registration, on a first-come, first-served basis, is available online or at the Rec Department. For further information, call 973-284- 4966, between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Children ages 28 months and under and their caregivers are invited to enjoy nursery rhymes, stories and playtime at Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive, Tuesday, Sept. 30, at 9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Only Nutley residents may participate. Registration is required. To register or for more information, call the library at 973- 667-0405.

Rosko named Agent of the Month

LYNDHURST – George Rosko, who has spent seven years with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Coccia Realty, is the company’s Real Estate Agent of the Month for July in the Lyndhurst office, owner and President John (Jan) R. Kwapniewski announced.

Rosko, the agency’s top rental specialist, has closed 51 agreements to date in 2014, representing the most of any agent locally and the fourth-highest and top 1% of any agent in the region’s 500-plus agencies, according to statistics from the N.J. Multiple- Listing Service (NJMLS).

“His number of transactions are extraordinary,” said Lyndhurst Branch Manager Michael Amoroso. “George is a very hard worker, readily available to his clients. He is ethical and professional, and he works seven days a week. Whatever needs to get done, George gets it done.”

Rosko, a real estate agent for 16-plus years, lives in North Arlington and serves clients from Harrison, Kearny, Lyndhurst, North Arlington and Rutherford.

Rosko says he enjoys his work with BHGRE Coccia not just because of the people, but because he knows his voice is heard.

“I always know that when I have ideas or concerns, I can always bring them to our broker John,” Rosko said. “And he listens. If he believes it’s a good idea, he’ll run with it. If he doesn’t think it’s a good idea, he’ll say so, but he’ll always explain why he doesn’t think it’ll work. That’s very important to me.”

In addition to rentals, Rosko handles residential and commercial sales, leases and property management.

Kwapniewski, like Amoroso, sang Rosko’s praises. “We were very fortunate that George chose my company,” Kwapniewski said. “He’s one of the hardest workers you’ll ever find in this industry, and I am very happy to have him on board as long as we have.”

Rosko is a member of the National Association of Realtors, Eastern Bergen County Board of Realtors, Garden State Multiple Listing Service and NJMLS.

With BHGRE and Coccia’s status as a HUD-registered broker, he has access to foreclosures and REO listings and can also offer relocation services and referrals throughout the country.

To contact Rosko, call his mobile at 201-218-0841 or the Lyndhurst office at 201-939- 8900.

For more information, call 201-997-7000, or visit www.cocciarealty.com or facebook.com/cocciarealty.

Remembering a local hero

Lt. Joseph E. Frobisher Jr. (inset) was a pilot with the U.S. 148th Aero Squadron. Those are the 148th’s Sopwith Camels, photographed in France in August 1918, a month before his death.

 

Lt. Joseph E. Frobisher Jr. (inset) was a pilot with the U.S. 148th Aero Squadron. Those are the 148th’s Sopwith Camels, photographed in France in August 1918, a month before his death.

By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY– 

The following account of an air battle in France nearly 100 years ago is from Edgar Gorrell’s “History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, 1917-1919”:

“It was on 2 September that the 148th [Aero Squadron] suffered its greatest losses of the war in one disastrous patrol. “

A superior number of Fokkers were attacking several artillery observation planes. The 148th, knowing it was their duty to protect the observation planes, engaged the Fokkers, who were ready for the fight.

“The squadron attacked with five aircraft against 13 or 14 Fokkers, and soon the Germans, all good pilots, had most of the 148th’s [Sopwith] Camels in distress. Additional Fokkers then appeared out of the clouds until there were at least 20 of them. . . .” The Germans “. . . shot down all five of the American aircraft.

“One pilot performed a crash-landing on the British side of the line and was unhurt, however not a word was heard from the other four. Over a month later, it was reported that three of the pilots had crashed in enemy territory and were prisoners of war.

“The fourth was wounded and later died.”

If you are wondering what all this has to do with Kearny, the answer is:

Everything.

That fourth pilot was Lt. Joseph Edwin Frobisher Jr., a son of Kearny, and today, Sept. 10, is the anniversary of his death in 1918. He was just 22 years old.

When we visited American Legion Post 99, the Joseph E. Frobisher Jr. Post, to write about its 95th anniversary last month, we started learning his story, and we knew we needed to share it.

As a history lover, we cherish the chance to put a face to a name, to tell something of why that name means so much more than an inscription on a war memorial.

At the Post headquarters on Belgrove Drive, Commander Keith McMillan led us over to a sepia photograph, its wooden frame surmounted by a small cloth badge — U.S. Air Service wings. The wings from Frobisher’s uniform.

The Frobisher family bequeathed some of the pilot’s personal effects and papers, along with his military foot locker, to Post 99, which is the trusted custodian of these items and, more importantly, of his memory.

Among these treasures, not a word used lightly, are a number of letters, including two to the Frobishers from their son’s commanding officer, 1st Lt. (and later, Capt.) Morton L. Newhall

Photo by Karen Zautyk Frobisher’s foot locker, shipped home from France and donated to Post 99 by his family, holds photos, official papers, medals and mementos.

Photo by Karen Zautyk
Frobisher’s foot locker, shipped home from France and donated to Post 99 by
his family, holds photos, official papers, medals and mementos.

 

The letters are carefully typed on tissue-thin parchment — paper so fragile it is a wonder the typewriter keys did not punch right through. And they are still pristine white. Which is also a wonder, considering their age.

The first, dated Sept. 11, 1918, and sent from somewhere in France, reads as follows:

“It is with very deep regret that I have to inform you of the death of your son, Lieut. Joseph E. Frobisher, on September 10th from wounds received in aerial combat on Sept. 2nd.

“Two flights from our squadron were engaged that day, and Lt. Frobisher among others failed to return and was reported missing.

“On September 6th, his machine [plane] was seen by some of our men, not badly damaged on land, but recently regained from the enemy, and later your son was located in one of our hospitals, and we had hoped all would be well with him.

“Lieut. Frobisher conducted himself gallantly, as did all our men that day, against great odds. He performed his duties absolutely without fear, and had he been permitted to live, would have been one of the mainstays of our squadron. In landing his machine within our lines, altho [sic] sorely wounded, he performed a feat of which you may be justly proud.

“Mere sympathy is inadequate in such sorrow, but we wish to extend it to you for the loss of such a son.

“Lieut. Frobisher’s effects will be forwarded to you in due course.”

And after Newhall’s signature:

“P.S. Some officers from the Squadron and myself are attending your son’s funeral today.”

Photos by Karen Zautyk Lt. Frobisher’s grave in Kearny’s Arlington Cemetery

Photos by Karen Zautyk
Lt. Frobisher’s grave in Kearny’s Arlington Cemetery

 

Newhall was obviously concerned about not being able to give the family more information, for he wrote to Frobisher’s mother less than a month after the Nov. 11 Armistice ended the war — and wartime restrictions.

This letter was sent from Toul, France, on Dec. 6, 1918:

“My Dear Mrs. Frobisher,

“Your letter of Nov. 12 has just reached me and I greatly regret that strict censorship regulations would not permit me to give you full detaills at the time I first wrote you of the action in which your son, 2nd Lieut. Joseph E. Frobisher, received the wounds that afterwards proved fatal.

“On Sept. 2, 1918, at 11:45 a.m., two of our flights –your son’s led by Lieut. [Field] Kindley and another by Lieut. [Elliot] Springs — engaged a large number of Fokker biplanes that were attacking some artillery observation machines. The flight took place well over the line on the Arras Cambrai road, four miles southwest of Haricourt.

“A general mix-up or ‘dogfight’ ensued, and the original Fokkers were reinforced by more, badly outnumbering our two flights. The final result of the action was that three Hun machines were brought down, the rest were driven east over Cambrai and the artillery machines were left to carry out their important work unmolested.

“In other words, your son helped to carry out the very highest and most important function of a fighting pilot — namely, to drive the Hun out of the sky and permit our own observation machines to carry out their all-important mission.

“Your son did not return, and we could get no news of his whereabouts. It was not until the day of his death, Sept. 10th, that we got news that he had landed close to the front lines, wounded in the hip, back and right arm.

“The very fact that he landed his machine safely, though sorely wounded, showed the greatest courage and stamina, all of which was borne out by what the doctors told me at the hospital of his great fortitude and bravery.

It has always been a great source of regret to all of us that the C.C.S. [Casualty Clearing Station] did not notify us so we could have visited him in the hospital, but the fact is that the Cambrai battle was then at its height and they had not time to notify any units of the men they had.

“We were notified in time, however, for his Flight Commander, Lieut. Kindley and me to get to the funeral. Your son was buried in the Military Cemetery at Ligny, St. Flochel, Pas de Calais, near the town of St. Pol. The grave number is #12, Plot #4, Row D. All this information will be sent you in time, I am sure.

“I hope someday to meet you and Mr. Frobisher and will at that time give you any further details that I can.

Believe me,

Sincerely,

Morton L. Newhall”

It was later learned that Frobisher had managed to land his Sopwith in No Man’s Land, between the British and German lines, and British soldiers rescued him from the plane and got him to the CCS.

And just who was the gallant Joseph E. Frobisher Jr.?

The son of Emma Ferris Frobisher and Joseph E. Sr., he lived with them at 659 Belgrove Dr. and graduated from Kearny High School in 1912. In 1917, he earned a mechanical engineering degree from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.

On April 6, 1917, the United States entered the Great War, and it was that month that Frobisher enrolled in the aviation training program of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. He was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the spring of 1918 and, after a stateside bout with scarlet fever, he did combat training in England and joined the 148th Pursuit Squadron at its base in Lens, France.

Frobisher’s body was returned to Kearny from the military cemetery in France in April 1921. Services were held at Trinity Episcopal Church, Arlington, where he had been a member, and he was reburied in Woodlawn Cemetery in Queens, N.Y.

That, however, was not his final resting place. When Joseph Sr., then the mayor of Kearny, died in 1939, father and son were both interred in the family plot at Arlington Cemetery in Kearny.

As we did for the Post 99 anniversary story, we thank founding member Fred E. Portz for recording that information in a Post history. And we thank the current members, especially McMillan and Walter Tomasheski, for giving us access to the letters quoted above.

One more thing: Along with Frobisher’s uniform wings, the framed photo at Post 99 bears another treasure.

When McMillan showed us the picture, we noticed what looked like some sort of medal hanging from the bottom. “What’s that?” we asked. And McMillan said, “Those are his dog tags.”

After receiving permission, we reached up and touched them, as one might touch a relic.

And what we felt was reverance, for a life lost too young, a life lost in the service of his country, one life representative of the more than 116,000 Americans lost in combat in World War I.

Ferraro facing firing

Ferraro_web

By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

The Kearny Board of Education is seeking to fire Frank Ferraro, the superintendent it placed on an involuntary paid leave in January, by bringing tenure charges against him.

At a special meeting held Aug. 12, the BOE voted in closed session 7-1, with John Plaugic dissenting, to certify to the state Commissioner of Education the charges of “conduct unbecoming a superintendent and other just cause for dismissal” against Ferraro.

Ferraro had been initially notified July 23 that the charges were being filed and Ferraro responded through his attorney Andrew Babiak on Aug. 8. That set the legal stage for the certification vote last month.

At the August meeting, the board – by the same 7-1 margin – also voted to suspend Ferraro’s pay for 120 days, the time set by state school law for the Commissioner of Education – once apprised of the charges – to assign an arbitrator to review the charges and make a ruling.

If the arbitrator finds that the charges have merit, then Ferraro’s contract with the BOE – which runs through June 30, 2016 – would be voided but if the arbitrator dismisses the charges, Ferraro could reclaim his job, according to an attorney familiar with the case.

Documents filed by the BOE with the state Department of Education show that Ferraro has been charged with “misrepresentation of experience and credentials to the Board of Education of the Town of Kearny” and with “knowing violation of board policy and New Jersey Statute.”

On the first charge, the BOE disputes Ferraro’s representations that he met its requirements for “a minimum of 10 years’ classroom teaching experience at the elementary and/or the secondary level” by having taught in New York for five years and in Kearny High School for five years, from 1983 to 1988, as a fulltime permanent substitute of “Home and Careers, Special Education.”

Ferraro advised the BOE that New York State Department of Education granted him a School District Administrator’s certificate, partly on the basis of his having satisfied the NYSDA’s teaching requirement. The Department advised the BOE in November 2012 that Ferraro had satisfied a three-year deficiency in teaching experience by “teaching at Kearny H.S. in Kearny, N.J.”

But the BOE contends that Ferraro failed to meet New York’s teaching requirement because, according to its files, Ferraro only worked “a total of 236 days over five school years” in Kearny and that “Ferraro’s experience fails to meet New Jersey’s requirements for even one year of teaching experience.”

On the second charge, the BOE allege that Ferraro violated the Open Public Meetings Act, the Open Public Records Act and Board Policy by discussing maintenance employee Brian Doran’s personnel information with the employee’s mother and tried to discuss it with the employee’s brother, board member James Doran Jr., who, the BOE says, refused to do so “as it was improper.”

In an email, Babiak, a staff attorney with the N.J. Association of School Administrators, advised The Observer that he will be filing an answer to the now-certified tenure charges but he declined to comment beyond that.

Meanwhile, Somerville attorney Kevin Kovacs, who is representing Ferraro in connection with a wrongful termination suit filed by Brian Doran against the BOE and Ferraro, said that Ferraro properly dismissed Doran because of his criminal background but now, according to Kovacs, the BOE is looking to “bring [Doran] back to work” so he will be suing the BOE, on behalf of Ferraro, under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (commonly known as whistleblower act) on the grounds that the BOE’s efforts to fire Ferraro is “retaliatory action” for Ferraro firing Doran.