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Category: News

A salute across the sea


By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent 


Last Friday afternoon, a simple but moving ceremony was held at the World War II monument in Town Hall Park.

Members of veterans groups from Nutley and Belleville gathered to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day, to honor the troops who took part in the invasion, and, in a gesture of continuing brotherhood, to thank their counterparts across the Atlantic.

On June 6, 1944, as some 57,000 American soldiers were storming Omaha and Utah Beaches and the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc, more than 54,000 of their British counterparts were braving the German guns at Gold and Sword Beaches. (The Allies also sent a combined total of 23,000+ airborne forces into the enemy-held territory inland, and 21,000 Canadians landed at Juno Beach.) Read more »

Writer explores how we approach death


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent


A Kearny woman has selected a topic for her first book that, perhaps at first glance, a typical reader might find rather uninviting. Karen B. Kaplan’s work, “Encountering the Edge: What People Told Me Before They Died,” is a memoir recalling the seven years she spent as a hospice chaplain for United Hospice of Rockland in New York and Princeton Hospice in New Jersey. But, despite the heavy-sounding title, Kaplan says there’s no reason folks should be put off by it. “It’s a gentle, light touch on a serious subject,” she says.

And, yes, she notes, there’s even room for some humor.

Kaplan grew up in Erie, Pa., before moving further east and settling into life as an academic, completing a doctoral degree in linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin in 1984. She did her dissertation on “conversational analysis between speakers of different backgrounds.” Read more »

Belleville teen shines on NJPAC stage


A budding entertainer from Belleville is beginning to build a “show biz” resume.

Belleville High School freshman Najalis Gual captured first place in the Junior Teen Vocal Category (ages 13 to 15) of the Hispanic Youth Showcase, the longest running Latino children’s talent show on PBS.

She did that by singing “California King Bed” by the pop star Rhianna while accompanying herself on piano at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on May 23.

Najalis was one of four finalists culled from a field of competitors from the tri-state area in that age grouping. Read more »

Deliberations continue on 9/11 steel



As the nation prepares to observe the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, North Arlington officials remain divided over how to deploy the section of World Trade Center steel beam the borough Volunteer Fire Department acquired from the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

Councilman Thomas Zammatore, a member of the Democratic majority, is proposing that the borough take steps to set up the firefighters’ memorial on a platform at the Schuyler Ave. firehouse by September, to coincide with the observance date.

The borough engineer has estimated the cost of a full-scale mounting of the beam to run $68,000, according to borough spokesman Thom Ammirato. A more practical approach, Zammatore has reasoned, is to put off the extras – such as granite monuments and paving stones – until the borough – ideally with help from local businesses and the Fire Department – can find the money to pay for them. Read more »

‘Unsafe’ slope targeted for improved path



For the past five years or so, township residents without wheels have had to plod down Valley Brook Ave. to get to practices or games at the Lyndhurst Recreation Center complex.

That’s hardly a good option since that section of Valley Brook lacks sidewalks and is a conduit to the approach to the industrial area and access to Rt. 3.

But now the township is taking steps to provide an improved and safer approach to the playing fields hosting recreation soccer, softball and baseball, and also used by Lyndhurst High School, Felician College, the New York Red Bulls, and for county girls’ softball and baseball tourneys.

This month, Cifelli & Son General Contracting, Inc., of Nutley is preparing to tackle the job of creating the “Lyndhurst Recreation Center Upper Access Way Improvements” project by smoothing out and making more navigable a dirt/rock/grass path that slopes down the backside of Valley Brook Ave. from the Orient Way intersection – with access via Newark Ave. – to the athletic complex. The township governing body awarded Cifelli a contract for $248,839 on Feb. 11 to do the job. Read more »

Tribute to Portuguese community



An estimated 300 dignitaries and guests turned out June 1 for the dedication of the Portuguese- American monument, designed by Thomas Meloro & Son Monuments of North Arlington, in a section of Riverbank Park in Kearny.

The Portuguese Cultural Association of Kearny, led by Board of Trustees President Carlos J. Cunha and Executive Board President Jose Maria Matos, organized a fundraising drive in support of the stone structure which honors the Portuguese community.

It bears the inscription quoted from the Portuguese epic poem, “Lusiadas, Canto VII,” by Luiz Van De Camoes, published in 1572, translated as: “… and if there had been more world, they would have reached it,” referring to the early Portuguese explorers.

First Ward Councilman Albino Cardoso, a member of the PCA who had pushed for the tribute, said he was “very pleased it is now done. It is something that has been envisioned for quite some time.”

Of the approximately $20,000 budgeted for the project, “more than half” has been collected to date, according to Cardoso.

Principal speakers were Portuguese Consul General Dr. Pedro Soares De Oliveira, Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos, Hudson County Freeholder Albert J. Cifelli and Hudson County Executive Thomas A. DeGise.

The Rev. Adauto Alves, of St. Cecilia’s Church, Kearny, blessed the monument.

Our Lady of Fatima Band of Newark and Sonhos De Portugal, a Kearny-based Portuguese folklore dance troupe, performed.

No upsets in W. Hudson primaries

The opposition slate pounded incumbent East Newark Borough Council members Hans Peter Lucas and Jeanne Zincavage with a huge majority on absentee ballots but it wasn’t enough to unseat them.

Voting results from the June 3 municipal Democratic primary election showed Lucas netting a total of 310 machine votes and Zincavage, 305, with challengers Gianni Donates and Michael Magliotti collecting 62 and 67 votes, respectively. (No Republicans ran.)

Mail-in (absentee) ballots, however, were another story. According to Borough Clerk Robert Knapp, the tally reported by the Hudson County Board of Elections had Donates and Magliotti credited with 102 absentee votes each, while Lucas and Zincavage had just seven apiece.

Provisional votes weren’t available.

Knapp certified the election results last week, with the total vote recorded as follows: Lucas, 317; Zincavage, 312; Magliotti, 169; and Donates, 164. So, the incumbents carried the day by a margin of a bit less than 2-1 and will run unopposed in the November general election.

The challengers outspent the incumbents on election-related expenses, including newspaper advertisements that faulted the Democratic establishment for, in their view, mismanaging borough funds and causing taxes to rise. Mayor Joseph Smith, who campaigned for Lucas and Zincavage, countered that his administration was spending prudently and resorting to shared services when feasible to save money.

Knapp said that the challengers have, thus far, not requested a recount.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Harrison, a unified team of Democratic incumbents, led by Mayor James Fife, will be seeking voter approval to continue in office in November.

Fife, who was appointed to fill the seat of the late Mayor Raymond McDonough earlier this year, will be running for a full term as the town’s chief executive. He’ll be opposed by Eric Brachman, who garnered 31 machine votes in last Tuesday’s primary as the Republican nominee.

On the Town Council front, independent Ramon Rodriguez will face off against Councilman Anselmo Millan in the Second Ward, while Councilmen Jesus Huaranga, Laurence Bennett and James Doran, in the First, Third and Fourth Wards, respectively, have no opposition.

No Republicans filed to run for the council in Harrison.

And, in Kearny, where all Democrats sit on the governing body, incumbent Town Council members Albino Cardoso, Eileen Eckel and Susan McCurrie will be running unopposed for seats in the First, Third and Fourth Wards, respectively, while newcomer Jonathan Giordano will be seeking a Second Ward seat in place of incumbent Laura Pettigrew, who is not seeking re-election, in November.

 – Ron Leir

Flour power in Harrison



The first time it happened, the evening of last Aug. 22, Warren St. resident Dorothy Songile recalled, “I had come outside to bring out the trash and the entire yard was covered in what I thought was snow.”

It turned out to be “whole wheat flour – it looked like corn meal,” Songile said.

And, Songile discovered, it was from Pechter’s, the sprawling commercial bakery whose giant silo practically casts a shadow over the backyard of her 2-family home and garage. “Next morning,” she said, “they sent a crew over with garden hoses to clean the stuff off my garage roof. They were using mops and squeegies to collect it and put the flour in the street.”

But she said they didn’t touch her windows to which flour deposits had firmly adhered. “My grandson and his friend were here a whole week using scrub brushes trying to get it off,” she said.

They were only partly successful, Songile said.

Pechter’s “paid me $150” for the damages but she said she gave $300 to the two boys for their labor.

Then, it happened again. At around 10 a.m. this past Jan. 5, Songile heard what sounded like “pigeons or eagles hitting my windows” and, when she rushed outside to see what was happening, she found her windows. siding and yard “thickly covered” with flour.

“Only this time,” she said, “it was 100 times worse than before.”

And, she said, her neighbors across the street, in the 700 block of Warren St., also got hit, with the material covering their wrought-iron railings and front porch.

She said the stuff also landed on some parked cars on the block and prompted the owners to pay for washings.

“I’ve been living here since 1952,” Songile said, and, in prior years, “some [flour sprays] have happened in smaller bursts,” but not to the extent of the onslaughts last summer and this past winter.

Songile asked the Harrison Board of Health if it could do anything to help her but she said she was told the issue wasn’t a public health matter.

However, she said a BOH representative did accompany her to the bakery to ask if someone from the company could at least respond to her concerns and that has prompted a phone call from a West Orange attorney representing the bakery asking her to submit a damage estimate for review, something she’s now in the process of preparing.

That bill, she said, would likely consist of estimates for power washing, cleaning out her air-conditioners and related expenses.

Songile said she hopes, at some point, to be able to put these disquieting episodes behind her.

– Ron Leir 

Around Town


Bloomfield historian Rich Rockwell will present historic photos of houses from the 1880s to the 1920s Thursday, June 19, at 7 p.m. at the Parish House at the Church on the Green, 147 Broad St. The program, with then-and-now comparisons, will focus on styles of architecture, building trends, remodeling trends and preservation efforts in Bloomfield’s Historic District and nearby neighborhoods.

Bloomfield Public Library Book Club, 90 Broad St., meets Monday, July 7, 6:45 to 7:45 p.m., to discuss “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, a charming novel that will appeal to fans of Jane Austen, Helen Simonson, and Nevil Shute.

For more information or help in locating a copy of the book club selection, call the Reference Desk at 973-566- 6200, ext. 602.

Job Haines Home, 250 Bloomfield Ave., will host these activities:

• A free weekly arthritis exercise program running for eight weeks, starts Wednesday, June 11. The one-hour class, beginning at 10:30 a.m., will be taught by a certified instructor and conducted in accordance with guidelines established by the National Arthritis Foundation.

• An AARP Safety Driving Program will be held Tuesday, June 17, and Wednesday, June 18, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. both days. Participants must attend both sessions to receive a completion certificate that could help reduce auto insurance premiums. The cost is $15 for AARP members and $20 for non-members. Checks should be payable to AARP.

Light refreshments will be served.

To R.S.V.P., call 973-743- 0792. For more information, visit www.job-haines.org.


Presbyterian Boys-Girls Club, 663 Kearny Ave., hosts a beach party dance Friday, June 13, 7 to 10 p.m., for teens only. Guests are encouraged to dress for the beach. Prizes will be given for best dancers and best beachwear. Kearny teachers and members of the PBGC’s board of directors will supervise the dance.

Trinity Episcopal Church, 575 Kearny Ave., sponsors a flea market Saturday, June 14, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Walk-in vendors are welcome. Cost for one table is $15 and two tables for $25. Call 201-991-5894 for more information.

Join the Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., for these upcoming programs:

• Rutgers professor/author Thomas McCabe presents “World Cup Tournament Kickoff” Wednesday, June 11, at 7 p.m., covering the early history of soccer in the West Hudson area through the 1990 and 1994 United States teams, which featured three area all-star players.

• The library will stream various World Cup matches live. Here’s the schedule:

Friday, June 13: Mexico vs. Cameroon at noon; and Spain vs. Netherlands at 3 p.m.

Monday, June 16: Germany vs. Portugal at noon; and Iran vs. Nigeria at 3 p.m.

Wednesday, June 18: Australia vs. Netherlands at noon; and Spain vs. Chile at 3 p.m.

Friday, June 20: Italy vs. Costa Rica at noon; and Switzerland vs. France at 3 p.m. Monday, June 23: Australia vs. Spain at noon.

• A chess class for children, ages 8 to 15, will run eight weeks on Tuesdays, 2 to 4 p.m., June 24 to Aug. 12. The class is limited to only 14 students. Call the library at 201-998-2666 to reserve your spot. Instructors from the Newark Chess Club will teach the classes.

•  A Summer Reading  Kickoff Party is open to all at the Branch Library, 759 Kearny Ave., Tuesday, June 17, 3 to 5:30 p.m. No registration is required. Children can pick up their summer reading logs and volunteers from the Friends of the Library will help kids make summer reading selections. Milk and cookies will be served.

For more information on any of these programs, call the library at 201-998-2666 or visit www.kearnylibrary.org.


Lyndhurst Health Department’s free meditation course originally planned for Wednesday, June 18, has been rescheduled for Wednesday, July 2. Led by certified oneness trainer and Lyndhurst resident Parbatie Singh, this class will resume regular hours Wednesday, July 9, at 6:30 p.m. in the recreation room at 601 Riverside Ave. Enter the doors facing the Passaic River.

The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission will close the Saw Mill Creek Trail in DeKorte Park indefinitely, beginning Friday, June 20, while PSE&G replaces the power line towers on the trail. The trail is expected to remain closed for at least one year.

Lyndhurst Public Library, 355 Valley Brook Ave., offers the following children’s activities for which registration is required:

• Father’s Day Craft, for  pre-k to grade 3, Thursday, June 12, 3:30 to 4:15 p.m.

• Summer Mobile Craft,  for grades 1 to 4, Wednesday, June 18, 3:30 to 4:15 p.m.

• Summer Reading Regis tration, for pre-K to grade 6, for “Fizz, Boom, Read,” the library’s summer reading program. Registration ends June 14. Activities planned include science experiments, robot building, Grossology fun, nature explorations and more. For more information, call the library at 201-804-2480, ext. 3, or visit http://www.lyndhurstlibrary.org/.

Mary Lou Mullins’ monthly bus trip to Atlantic City is set for Sunday, June 29, leaving from St. Michael’s Church parking lot, Ridge Road and Page Ave., at 10:30 a.m. Cost is $30, cash return is $30. Only 10 seats are available. Call Mary Lou at 201-933-2186 for more information or for reservations.

 North Arlington 

The Senior Harmony Club has scheduled a trip to Resorts Casino, Atlantic City, for Wednesday, July 9, and a trip to Mt. Airy Casino in Pennsylvania for Wednesday, Aug. 20. Mt. Airy will give $25 in slot play and a free buffet. For reservations or information, call Florence at 201-991-3173.

North Arlington Public Library patrons can return overdue materials without paying any fines during Fine Amnesty Week, from Monday, June 9, to Saturday, June 14. Materials must be owned by and returned to North Arlington Public Library only. The library cannot waive fees for lost items or fines assessed for overdue items already returned. Materials must be returned during regular operating hours and items left in the drop box will not be eligible for the amnesty. Call 201-955-5640 for operating hours and more information.

Other upcoming events:

• Visit the Angry Coffee  Bean, 89 Ridge Road, Thursday, June 12, at 6 p.m., to learn about Newark and the importance of jazz to the city’s culture.

• Registration is open for  the Summer Reading kick-off event, for which Youth Stages will present a play shop for ages 3 to 9, Wednesday, June 25, at 4 p.m. To register, call 201-955-5640, ext. 126.

• Handwriting expert James  Mihnerick discusses graphoanalysis – the analysis of handwriting – Monday, June 16, at 6:30 p.m.

North Arlington Senior Activity Center, 11 York Road, hosts a Fourth of July Bingo luncheon Friday, June 27. Bingo starts at 10:30 a.m. with lunch at noon and more Bingo games and prizes from 1:30 to 3 p.m. For more information or for reservations, call 201-998-5636.


Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive, presents the following programs:

• Explore the founding of  the Township of Nutley Monday, June 23, at 7 p.m. with Nutley Museum director John Simko. This program is free and open to the public; no registration is required.

• Eighteen important paintings, prints and reproductions of artworks from the late 19th and early 20th century from the Nutley Museum’s collection are on view through June 30.

Call the library at 973-667- 0405 for more information.

The Nutley Museum and Historical Society, 65 Church St., houses a collection of town artifacts and artworks by former Nutley artists. The museum is open for special events and by appointment. Admission is free. For information or to arrange a visit, call 973-667-1528.


KPD: Sweet home-alone Alabama

In recent months, Walmart stores across the nation have been the targets of hoax bomb threats. It happened last week in Kearny, but in that particular instance, police were able to identify the culprits, KPD Chief John Dowie reported.

At 6:20 p.m., Monday, June 2, Sgt. Peter Gleason and Officer John Travelino responded to the Harrison Ave. store after an employee reported receiving a call warning that a bomb had been placed in a “Black Ops 2” game box in the video department.

Police and the Kearny Fire Department evacuated the premises. A search revealed that the games were secure in a locked case, which had not been tampered with, and management reopened the store, Dowie said.

The investigation was turned over to Det. John Telle and Det. Sgt. John View, who reportedly were able to trace the call to an address in Loxley, Ala. They contacted police in that town (pop. 1,632) and were later notified that authorities had identified the suspects as two juveniles. “They apparently got bored while home alone, Googled Walmart, got the Kearny number and made the threat,” Dowie said.

Loxley police said the youths’ parents had been notified.

According to published reports, bomb threats, by numerous culprits, have been made against stores in at least 13 states.

Other recent reports from the Kearny police blotter included the following:

June 1 

At 11:30 a.m., Officer Chris Levchak spotted an eastbound Ford pickup being operated “in a careless manner” on Harrison Ave. Police said the driver, Froylan Lopez, 27, of Newark, was found to have four warrants — three from Jersey City, one from Vineland – and a fraudulent resident I.D. card. Lopez was charged criminally with possession of a simulated document, and U.S. Immigration was notified.

At 5:30 p.m., police were notified by Kmart that a shoplifter, last seen running toward Bergen Ave., had fled the store with a quantity of creatine pills. Officer Sean Kelly found the suspect, later identified by store personnel, at Bergen and Belgrove Drive. Marcelo Costa, 44, of Kearny, was charged with shoplifting.

Police said he also had five outstanding warrants — two from Lyndhurst and one each from North Arlington, Montclair and Montville.

June 2 

At 8 p.m., Officer Levchak was notified by a concerned citizen that a group of people were apparently smoking marijuana on the front steps of a residence on Davis Ave., near Franklin School.

Approaching the three, he reportedly saw one attempting to secrete an object in a backpack. After the officer ascertained that none of the individuals lived at the address or had permission to be there, one of them — Xavier Guridi, 19, of Kearny — offered to remove objects from the bag, police said. While he was taking out a pair of pants, a marijuana grinder reportedly fell from a pocket. Guridi was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

June 4 

Officer Kelly, advised at 8:30 p.m. that a shoplifter had fled the Rite Aid store on Kearny Ave., found a man fitting the suspect’s description at Chestnut and Hoyt Sts. Store personnel were brought to the scene and I.D.’d him, and a bag he had discarded was found to contain two hair dryers with the anti-theft tags still attached, police said. The suspect reportedly gave his name as Terry Page, but a fingerprint check showed he was Wendell Pittman, 56, of Newark. He was charged with shoplifting and hindering apprehension and on warrants out of Newark, East Orange and Dillon, S.C.

– Karen Zautyk