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Category: News

Around Town

Bloomfield
Do you Knit? Scrapbook? Write the great American novel?  The Bloomfield Public Library is your one-stop community center for sharing your interests and hobbies with like-minded people.
The library’s Friday Morning Knitting Club is going strong every week at 11 a.m. in the conference room.  Bring your latest project, and look forward to a couple of hours of making new friends and sharing creative ideas. Beginners are welcome!
Beginning on Feb. 16, scrapbookers are invited to the library’s new Scrapbooking Crop, which will begin on Thursdays at 11 a.m.  What is a crop?  It’s where a group of people get together and work on their scrapbooking projects. Beginners are welcome!  Bring your supplies if you have them and a willingness to learn or teach your craft and share your ideas with like-minded crafters!
For those who like to piece together words, the library is beginning a writer’s workshop as well.  Come in and share your ideas and writings beginning Feb. 6 at 10 a.m.  The Get it Write sessions will be meeting on the first and third Mondays each month at 10 a.m.
Do you have a skill or hobby you’d like to share with the community?  Consider doing so at the library.  The above programs are all led by volunteer community members.  Consider sharing your interest in a club or a one-time program.  Interested?  Call or email Lisa Cohn at 973-566-6200, ext. 217 or lcohn@bplnj.org.

Harrison
Harrison Public Library will be offering “PAWS to Read” program to Harrison and East Newark Children, ages 4 through 7, on Thursday, Jan. 19, from 3:30 to  4:45 p.m. Come meet and read with Molly, a certified therapy dog. This will be a monthly event at the library and dates for Molly’s future visits will be distributed.

Kearny
The PBGC, 663 Kearny Ave., will hold its annual winter dance on Friday, Jan. 13, from 7 to 10 p.m. Guests are restricted to teens only. The dance will be supervised by Tom Fraser, former Lincoln School guidance counselor; Paul Viera, chairman of the board and members of the Board of Directors.
The Kearny Public Library Children’s Room announces free events for children in January.
At the Main library, Play/Story Times for preschool age children will continue on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. – noon, and also on Thursday mornings from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Branch library Play/Story Times for preschool age children will continue on Thursday mornings from 10:15 to 11 a.m. The Branch Library is located at 759 Kearny Ave.
In honor of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the library invites children ages 3 1/2 and older to create floats of respect from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 19, art class with Mrs. Mills. Please bring a shoebox or two for creating your float. The library will provide all the additional art supplies. The class will be held on the lower level of the Main Library, 318 Kearny Ave. Space is limited, so please try to arrive on time. Seating will be on a first come, first served basis until available spaces are filled. The art class is free.
Registration is not needed for any program. The Main Library is located at 318 Kearny Ave. For more information, visit the library on the web at www.kearnylibrary.org or call 201-998-2666.
Kearny UNICO is sponsoring a fund-raising winter doldrums bus trip to the Showboat Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City on Sunday, Jan.  29.  Cost is $30 per person with $30 in slot credit back from the casino.  Bus will depart at 8:30 a.m. from the VFW parking lot on Belgrove Drive in Kearny.  Coffee will be served to participants in the VFW hall prior to departure.  For tickets, please contact Lou Pandolfi at 201-368-2409.

Lyndhurst
St. Michael’s Leisure Club, Lyndhurst, will have a bus ride to Mt. Airy Casino in Pennsylvania on Thursday, Jan. 19, leaving the church parking lot on Page Avenue at 10 a.m. For price and reservation, please call Georgianna at 201-438-7847.
The Third-Tuesday-of-the-Month Bird Walk, with the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and the Bergen County Audubon Society, is set for Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 10 a.m. This free two-hour guided nature walk will take place at Laurel Hill County Park in Secaucus. The group will meet at the big parking lot by the Laurel Hill ball fields at 10 a.m. or at the first parking lot in DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst, the home of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, at 9:20 a.m. Check meadowblog.net for last-minute weather updates. You will have to sign a standard liability release that is good for NJMC/BCAS events throughout the year. To R.S.V.P., contact Don Torino of the BCAS at greatauk4@aol.com or 201-230-4983.
The Lyndhurst High School Academic awards dinner will be held May 1. Each year the dinner honors a former graduate of Lyndhurst High School who demonstrated scholastic excellence in high school, as well as in higher educational, career endeavors and community service. Each honoree should serve as a role model for the current student body.
The committee has established a “pool” of qualified candidates. Each year names are added to that “pool.” Candidates must have graduated at least 10 years ago from Lyndhurst High School. Anyone that knows of a person or persons whose name should be added to that “pool” please submit your recommendations to: Mrs. Lisa Klein, Academic Awards Committee, Lyndhurst High School, 400 Weart Ave., Lyndhurst, N.J. 07071. Please submit your recommendations no later than Jan. 26.
The Lyndhurst Public Library invites the community to join in a continuous program titled “Connecting With Your Inner Self”.  This program is geared for those 50+ years old.  The purpose is to get people to talk about topics such as fears, aging, changing obstacles into opportunities, dealing with problems optimistically and appreciating where you are in life.  The next meeting will be held on Thursday, Jan. 12, from 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m.  For more information, please call the library at 201-804-2478, ext. 7.

North Arlington
The North Arlington Board of Health will sponsor a free hearing screening for North Arlington residents on Wednesday, Jan. 25, from 9 a.m. to noon at the North Arlington Health Department, 10 Beaver Ave., North Arlington.  The screening will be done by audiologist Kirk Knutsen, MA, MS. For an appointment or further information, please call the North Arlington Health Department at 201-955-5695.

Nutley
A blood drive will be held at the Nutley Chapter of the American Red Cross, 169 Chestnut St., Chatham Room, 1st floor, on Tuesday, Jan. 17, from 3 to 8 p.m.

The Healing Helpers

Our friends bring us joy. They guide us, protect and support us through good times and bad. Many would agree that without these special people to celebrate with, our lives would be incomplete. But having given our human friends their due credit, it is important that we also thank our furry and feathered friends who bring us much joy and delight. What I love about animals is that they live in the moment and love us unconditionally. For many of us, our pets are nothing short of earth angels. In fact, “pet therapy” is an alternate form of healing now widely accepted as one of the most unusual but effective techniques in the healing of emotional and mental behavior.  Companion animals are being introduced into therapeutic programs at hospitals, rehabilitation and behavioral-health centers. In some cases these loving beings help in the coordination of the physically challenged and also help those with special needs.

Pets have a brilliant knack of making space for themselves in your heart and your home. They get you to fall in love with them as much as they love you and soon become a part of your family. The benefits are plenty, but it comes with a big responsibility too. It is our duty to look after our friends and not abuse or mistreat them in any way. Let’s begin the New Year with compassion. I urge you to do something special for these loving souls. Be kind to them. Let us understand that we have the power to bring about a change in the society. A small step at our end may see a change in attitudes of the people around us. We can set an example in our own little ways. I suggest we take a stand against cruelty. If there is one thing these loyal lives deserve, it’s our protection!

Let’s spread the message of love. Let’s extend our care and appreciation to all beings, big and small. Let’s make a change!

 

Visit Shweta Punjabi  at her website solutionsbyshweta.com • For more information or email her at magictaara@yahoo.com

Brand new year, same criminal mentality

By Anthony Machcinski

The New Year started bright and early for Kearny Police this year. Officers Melinda Esposito and Cesar Negron responded to the corner of Halstead and Maple Sts. in response to an attempted robbery.
When the pair arrived on the scene, they encountered two would-be robbers who had attempted to take an off-duty Newark Police officer’s wallet. Instead of producing his wallet, the cop grabbed his service pistol and held the surprised men at gunpoint until Kearny officers arrived. Lusi Duran and Bruce Cabides, both 19 and both of Kearny, were charged with robbery and sent to the county jail.
Listed below are other incidents from the Kearny Police Blotter.
On the morning of Dec. 30 at around 1:45 a.m., Det. Michael Gonzalez was at the corner of Elm St. and Quincy Ave. when he saw a car traveling at a high rate of speed heading westbound on Quincy Ave. After Gonzalez ordered the driver to pull over, the two men inside said they’d just been robbed and were fleeing the scene. One of the victims had facial injuries consistent with being on the wrong side of a fight and was able to provide the name of one of the possible muggers. With that information, police sent additional units were sent to the Hickory St. location of one of the potential suspects. After police brought one of the victims past the Hickory St. location, the victim was able to positively identify the two suspects who had robbed him earlier. Kearny Police then put under arrest 19-year-old Kearny resident Victor Calderon and 18-year-old Orlando, Fla. resident Joseph Betancourt were charged with robbery. Bail was set at $75,000.
In the third robbery in three days, officers responded to a woman who was accosted on Woodland Ave. near John St. The 50-year-old victim fought off a would-be robber before the suspect fled down John St.
After giving police a description, Officers Rich Pawlowski and Ben Wuelfing observed a male in the area of Johnson Ave. who matched the description. Before questioning even began, the suspect, a Kearny resident, claimed that he “didn’t do anything wrong.”
Police did a weapons search and found a replica handgun in the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt.
The victim positively identified the 14-year-old suspect. He was charged with attempted robbery.
In what could be an audition for the television show “Cops”, Officer Mike Andrews was patrolling Harrison Ave. on Jan. 2 near Rt. 280 conducting random registration checks via his onboard computer. After observing a vehicle exit Rt. 280 to travel eastbound on Harrison Ave., he realized the car was stolen from North Arlington.
The car picked up speed, blew through a red light, and began to drive recklessly, passing cars on the right and moving into oncoming traffic heading east. As the chase got closer to the Kearny/Jersey City border, the individual lost control of the vehicle and slid into a pole. This led to a foot chase where Andrews took the suspect down, much like they do on TV. He was subsequently taken into custody.
The suspect, 45-year-old Robert Pagan from Newark, had a lengthy history of auto theft. In the vehicle, police found a crack pipe, latex gloves, and some implements known to be used for vehicle burglaries. Pagan was charged with possession of stolen property, eluding a police officer, resisting arrest, possession of burglary tools, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving while license is revoked, reckless driving, and outstanding parole warrant.
In what could be one of the weirder incidents of the week, Officers Tom Pontrella and Tom Sumowski responded to the corner of Boyd and Devon Sts. at about 1 a.m. on Jan. 3 after an observer said an individual was inside a parked car. The officers responded and detained the suspect. After admitting that the car wasn’t his, the officers asked him what he was doing inside of it. The man replied, “Seeing what I can find” in what Kearny Police Chief John Dowie later described as a “nonchalant manner.” After finding the insurance card on his person, confirming he wasn’t the owner of the car, police charged him with burglary and theft. The suspect is 21-year-old Kearny resident Daniel Almeida. There were a series of similar break-ins in the area preceding Almeida’s arrest. Det. Ray Lopez is following up.
Officer Andrews would make yet another appearance in a car chase last week as he was patrolling the Shop Rite parking lot randomly checking registrations. One such inquiry showed that the owner of the vehicle had a suspended driver’s license as well as an obstructed rear license plate. When he asked the driver for his license and registration, the driver feigned compliance, looked at his passengers, and then tore off while Officer Andrews was standing at the side of the vehicle.  Andrews detected a strong odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle before it bolted. The car fled the parking lot through the southernmost exit and continued south on Passaic Ave.
After notifying headquarters, Andrews pursued the car until it crossed the Clay St. Bridge and went onto Route 21. Noting the time of day, Andrews terminated the pursuit. Kearny Police notified their Newark colleagues.
After investigating, Andrews was able to obtain an arrest photo that matched the description of the driver. Four officers, Andrews, Paul Bershefski, Steve Horoncich, and Dave Rakowski, responded to an area in East Orange where the vehicle was registered and found the vehicle in question parked on the street near the location. Upon entering the residence, the suspect was found in a rear bedroom and placed under arrest for his actions earlier that day, and for an outstanding bail warrant from a June 2011 incident. Bail was set at $35,200 and 21-year-old Bilal Rodgers, who is listed as an East Orange resident, was charged with driving while license is revoked, driving while unlicensed, reckless driving, disregarding a traffic signal, and eluding a police officer.

Millionaires, billionaires beware

 

The rhetoric coming from Washington these days about “millionaires and billionaires” is not just rhetoric.  How do I know this?  As the baseball sage Casey Stengel said, “You could look it up!”
The IRS 2010 Data Book, released in March, provides a lot of interesting information.  For the year beginning Oct. 1, 2009 and ending Sept. 30, 2010, the IRS processed 230 million tax returns.  They provided $467 billion in refunds and collected $2.3 trillion for the federal government.  They assisted more than 78 million taxpayers through telephone help lines or at walk-in sites.
The publication also mentions, “The IRS pursued its international agenda to ensure that taxpayers cannot walk away from their responsibilities by hiding money in offshore accounts.  Over the past few years, our voluntary disclosure program and enforcement efforts have brought thousands of taxpayers back into the system, and those numbers are growing.”
Curiously, there are also some interesting statistics in the report that are not specifically mentioned.  For instance, in 2009 the odds of being audited were 1 in 100 according to a Bloomberg report.  In 2010, the overall rate moved up to 1.11%.  Up 11%: not such a big deal.  However, the number of “millionaire and billionaire” (those with incomes above $10 million) audits moved up to 18.4% in 2010 from 10.6% in 2009, which is almost double.
As IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said at a meeting of the New York State Bar Association Taxation Section, “We’re looking for and finding points of leverage – what some call ‘nodes’ of activity – where multiple people not paying taxes can be detected.  Financial institutions are one such potential node of activity. Promoters of evasion schemes are another.”
The IRS has started an Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative, providing information in eight different languages to reach taxpayers and preparers who are non-native English speakers.  By coming forward about undisclosed offshore accounts, they stand a chance of avoiding criminal prosecution.
Fair enough.
So, with the increased scrutiny through audits from the IRS, how do you protect yourself from being one of the unlucky?  Well, most audits are not purely attributable to bad luck.  There are things you can do to help decrease your odds of being selected.  One is to document all expenses related to your business.  Another is to report every nickel of income.  Claim sensible, not outlandish, deductions.  Avoid portraying a hobby as a business venture.  Sign your return, and work with a really good tax preparer.
Clever boxers learn how to knock out their opponents.  One strategy is to throw incessant jabs at their foe for several rounds and lull them into a false security that your only weapon is a jab (I used this against Jimmy Young in Madison Square Garden).  This provides the element of surprise when you follow a jab with a right cross and a left hook.  Similarly, the IRS is not the only government agency going after “millionaires, billionaires and business owners.”  The Department of Labor (DOL) has promised to update the retirement plan landscape.  Three major rule changes are scheduled for the near future.
1.  Covered Service Providers (CSP) must fully describe their services and fees.  This rule was supposed to take effect in July, but the date has been pushed back to January 1, 2012.  It requires CSPs (financial advisors, financial consultants or third-party administrators who expect to receive $1,000 or more in direct or indirect compensation for their services) to detail their compensation and/or fee structure to fiduciaries.  CSPs also include financial advisors or Third Party Administrators who act as fiduciaries or Registered Investment Advisors for plan sponsors.  If applicable, the CSP must detail any fees that may be charged for recordkeeping along with recordkeeping methods.
2. Fiduciaries must detail plan and fee information for plan participants (employees).  If such information isn’t provided to plan participants after Nov. 1, 2011, then a plan participant or beneficiary may claim a violation of fiduciary duty on the part of the plan sponsor (that’s you, if you’re a business owner).
The new regulations require fiduciaries to disclose (and update) the following:  Rules related to the dissemination of investment instructions for the plan; plan fees and expenses paid from participant accounts (along with a breakdown of these fees, i.e. investment management fees, administration fees, cost of advice fees); and any other specific fees or charges that may be drawn from a plan participant’s account.
3. The DOL wants to expand the definition of an ERISA fiduciary.  Under this planned rule change, anyone who advises a retirement plan would be considered one.  A group of nearly 30 Congressional Democrats have protested this expanded definition in a letter to Labor Secretary, Hilda Solis, contending that it would backfire and eventually reduce access to investment education and information for plan participants.  The concern is that the definition of “fiduciary” will become so vague that even the most basic education and advice could fall under ERISA status.
As Ronald Reagan once said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for the individual.  Randy Neumann CFP® is a registered representative with securities and insurance offered through LPL Financial.  Member FINRA/SIPC.  He can be reached at 12 Route 17N, Suite 115, Paramus, 201-291-9000.

Nutley PB: Drug dealers beware

On Dec. 30 at 8:21 p.m. a Nutley Police detective observed a suspicious man standing in the shadows of a guard shack in Municipal Lot 1. The detective then observed a taxicab enter the lot and take on passengers. He questioned the man and the passengers and determined the rear seat passenger, 21-year-old Jorge Jimenez of Newark, was there to sell drugs The Newark man was found to be in possession of crack cocaine and heroin. A 16-year-old female friend, also from Newark, was found in possession of marijuana and released to a parent. Jiminez was charged with possession of CDS, possession with intent to distribute, and possession within 1000-feet of a school. He was issued summonses and a court date for the offense and released on his own recognizance.

Police Director Alphonse Petracco said if anyone thinks they can come into Nutley and sell or use drugs they are sadly mistaken. He has directed township police to enforce any and all drug violations encountered in an extra effort to make sure that these offenders realize this will not be tolerated.

In other Nutley Police happenings:

Jan. 6

1:46 a.m. – A traffic stop on Franklin Ave. and Chase St. found that the driver was operating an unregistered vehicle without insurance. The vehicle was impounded and the driver issued summonses.

3:43 a.m. – An officer observed an occupied vehicle parked in the lot of a closed convenience store on Washington Ave. When the occupants saw the officer they left the area and traveled towards Passaic Ave. As they drove off, they committed traffic violations. The officer initiated a stop which found the driver, 23-year-old Julian Cruz of Montclair with a suspended driver’s license and warrants out of the Essex County Sheriff’s Office for a civil contempt charge. Cruz was placed under arrest while officers checked out the passengers. It was discovered that 23-year-old Marc Banks of North Carolina had warrants out of Montclair and Paterson totaling over $1,000. Both men were transported to headquarters and the vehicle impounded.

7:54 a.m. – Newark Police recovered an Audi that was stolen from Nutley and used in a Jersey City robbery two weeks ago. The Newark officers are holding the vehicle for Jersey City Police to complete an inspection for trace evidence. Nutley removed the vehicle from the stolen vehicle database.

Jan. 5

5:55 a.m. – A caller reported a man on Hetherington Lane attempting to gain entry into several parked vehicles. The witness reported that the white male, approximately 5’11” tall, was wearing dark colored clothing and tried several door handles on parked vehicles before gaining entry into one. It was confirmed by the owner of the vehicle that the man was indeed an intruder. The witness reported that the suspect fled the area in a small grey or silver vehicle.

8:28 a.m. – A High St. resident reported their vehicle damaged and burglarized over the evening hours. The caller reported that their Audi, which had been parked on Renner Ave., had its window broken and several items taken, including temporary registration plates. Police are investigating.

10:43 p.m. – Police responded to an armed robbery on Spur Pl. when a man reported that a black male had entered his vehicle and robbed him of his money and cell phone at knife point. Police and detectives arrived on scene and initiated an investigation into what occurred and the identity of the fleeing suspect. Essex County

Sheriffs Officers arrived on scene with a K-9 unit to search for the suspect. When the victim saw the initiative that was set forth by the Department in response to his claim, he admitted that he was in the process of purchasing narcotics from the man identified as 21-year-old Raymond Cooley of Nutley.  Police detectives responded to a River Rd. location and placed Cooley under arrest when he answered the door with a knife in his hand. Cooley was charged with possession of a weapon, terroristic threats, possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose and robbery. He was placed in jail with bail pending.

Police Director Alphonse Petracco remarked that nothing good comes from a situation in which people are involved in narcotic transactions, whether they are buying, selling or using. Chief John Holland said that although the victim was engaging in illegal activity and initially misled Police, he was unsure if he will be charged at this time.

Jan. 3
1:58 p.m. – A Manchester Ave. residence burglar alarm sounded five times in a matter of several hours causing police to respond on each occasion. The homeowner was issued a summons for false alarms.

9:38 p.m. – An Edison Ave. resident, who peered out of her window when she heard dogs bark, observed a black male looking back at her. She claims the man fled southbound on Edison Ave. Police were unable to locate the man.

Jan. 2
1:02 p.m. – Police and fire departments responded to a home on Friedland Ave. after the homeowner reported smelling smoke. The owner also reported that one of his three dogs was lost as a result of the fire.

1:51 p.m. – Police were flagged down on Vincent Pl. when a young woman reported that her brother had injured himself while playing in Yantacaw Park. The 16-year-old boy was bleeding from his head and transported to an area hospital.

10:45 p.m. – A Wayside Lane. resident reported to police that there were several fraudulent attempts made on his ATM card including almost $400 withdrawn from a bank in Glen Ridge. Police are investigating.

11:46 p.m. – Mr. James Cox, 55, of Nutley turned himself into Police Headquarters on outstanding warrants out of Clifton. He was transported to Clifton and turned over to their custody.

Jan. 1
12:42 a.m. – Police responded to a Washington Ave. bus terminal when a commuter became unruly. Police advised the commuter to leave and advised the parties on how to proceed with charges.

1:27 p.m. – An officer observed a white vehicle fleeing south on Rt. 21 that was allegedly wanted in connection with a Clifton armed robbery. The officer pursued the suspect vehicle as far as Exit 4 in Newark where it escaped from his sight.  As the officer was heading back to town he spotted the vehicle and pursued him.

Unfortunately, the suspect once again eluded capture. The vehicle had Pennsylvania license plates and blue headlights.

3:12 p.m. – A Mountainview Ave. resident reported that several Arborvitae trees had been cut in the rear of his property. Police spoke to the adjoining neighbor who stated they had no knowledge of the trees being cut. The trees are valued at close to $2000.

Dec. 31
12:31 a.m. – A disturbance call by a Centre St. pub resulted in the arrest of Karl Francis, 21, of Nutley. Police attempted to break up a fight between Francis and another man but Francis continued despite police warnings. He was subsequently arrested and charged with a disorderly person offense and later released with a summons issued.

12:36 a.m. – A Centre St. resident reported chairs had been thrown about their driveway.

10:07 p.m. – A Franklin Ave. resident reported fraudulent charges on her credit card totaling over $600. Police are investigating.

12:58 p.m. – Police responded to a local business after a customer wearing a ski mask handed the cashier a suspicious note. The customer paid for products then left the store without making any threats or demands. The Detective Bureau is investigating the note’s contents.

Dec. 30
8:00 a.m. – A Nutley car dealership reported a 1989 Oldsmobile stolen from their establishment. Police entered the vehicle in the Stolen Vehicle Database.

10:23 p.m. – A Rhoda Ave. resident reported suspicious activity after his doorbell rang and he witnessed a vehicle fleeing his residence. He reported that this has happened before in addition to his home being egged.

Dec. 29
A Hawthorne Ave resident, who reported his Mercedes Benz stolen last week, received some personal belongings in the mail. The man reported that a driver’s license and other personal documents had been mailed back to him. Police are still searching for the vehicle.

2:00 p.m. – A Park Ave. man reported his 23-year-old girlfriend as missing. An investigation led by the Detective Bureau found the woman unharmed with friends in New York City a day later.

Bar Crackdown

Photo by Anthony J. Machcinski/ The Abatenita Bar & Restaurant currently under a six-month probation.

 

By Ron Leir

EAST NEWARK –
Maybe the next step is re-enacting Prohibition.
Still trying to bottle up the tide of violations from the two remaining taverns in the borough, East Newark is hoping that the most recent disciplinary actions meted out will ring in a “last call” for wayward behavior.
Last month, fed up with a steady stream of quality of life complaints from neighbors of the Ambatenita Bar and Restaurant on N. Third St., the Borough Council found the licensee guilty of various ABC charges filed in August and September and imposed a one-year suspension of the bar’s license.
The licensee, represented by Newark attorney Fausto Simoes, appealed the penalty to the state ABC panel and on Dec. 14 the council voted to approve a settlement agreement that, essentially, puts the bar on a six-month probation.
Under that agreement, if it can document any violation between now and June 30, 2012, the borough has the right to shut down the place for six months, with five days notice to the owner. Examples of violations include “urinating in public, lewdness, fighting, loud music, disturbing the peace or loitering.”
In the meantime, Ambatenita must comply with the following provisions:
It must close at 10:00 p.m., Sunday through Wednesday each week, and “turn the music down at 9:00 p.m.” on those days. (Normal closing time is 2:00 a.m.)
For the rest of the week and on holidays, it can close at 2:00 a.m. but must “turn the music down” at midnight on those days.
It must install one security light in front of the bar and another security light with motion detector in the bar’s alleyway.
It must hire a security guard “to keep patrons from congregating and making noise when outside the premises.” No more than four people can be outside the bar Thursday through Saturday each week and on holidays; a limit of two is allowed Sunday through Wednesday each week.
No patrons are permitted in the bar’s alleyway.
The licensee must pay the state a fine in lieu of a 30-day suspension.
Additionally, the bar had to agree to a 10-day closing, Monday through Friday, for two consecutive weeks, which began Dec. 12. That penalty has been served, according to borough officials.
Borough Police Chief Ken Sheehan said the Police Department would continue to monitor the situation at Ambatenita and at Alex’s on Second St. where similar quality of life issues have arisen, the most recent on the evening of Oct. 23 when police responded to a call about a fight.
According to police reports, a patron hit a 28-year-old borough resident in the head with a beer bottle. As the fighting escalated, several patrons came outside and one of them, later identified as Jason Paramo, 21, of Bloomfield, allegedly sliced the 28-year-old in the face with a knife. Paramo was charged with aggravated assault, attempt to cause bodily injury and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose. He was released pending court action.
Subsequent to the incident, Borough Attorney Neil Marotta served Alex’s owners, Juana and Marcio Solorzano, of East Newark, with violation notices for permitting fighting inside the residence and creating a public nuisance. The owners agreed to the imposition of a 10-day suspension from Dec. 14 to 24, Sheehan said.
“We’re going to keep a close watch on all establishments in the borough which serve or sell alcohol,” the chief said.
In other public safety news, the borough governing body voted Dec. 14 to hire a new police officer to replace Officer Carlos Cabrera, who resigned last month to accept a job with the Newark Fire Department.

Gilbert Torres

The new cop is Gilbert Torres, 32, a longtime borough resident and a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves who served in Iraq.
A 1997 alumnus of St. Benedict’s Prep, Newark, Torres enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in 2000 and, during that time, enrolled in Kean University. He was called to active duty in 2002 to Camp Lejuene, N.C. In Feb. 2003 he was recalled to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom in An Nasiriyh, Iraq, for five months.
Torres graduated from Kean in 2007 with a B.A. in criminal justice . Then, in 2008, he and his brother Mauricio Torres, also a Marine and East Newark resident, were called to serve in Akashat, Iraq, in the 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines, as an integrating unit to help Iraqis become self-sufficient and to patrol the Syrian border.
During that deployment, Torres’ daughter, Jadia Victoria Torres, was born on Feb. 14, 2009. His wife, Jannette Diaz, is a graduate of Seton Hall University School of Nursing.
After completing his military service obligations, Torres worked in private security and also at Tops Diner as a host.
“I’m very grateful to (Tops owners) Van and Jimmy Golemis,” Torres said. “They helped me get back on my feet after my discharge from the service. I am also very thankful to Mayor (Joseph) Smith and the Borough Council, my father Jaime Torres and my family for their endless support and I’m proud to serve the Borough of East Newark.”
Torres will have to complete six months training at the Union County Police Academy in Scotch Plains before beginning his duties as an East Newark police officer, Sheehan said.
“It’s an ideal situation when you can find someone with his kind of experience who was raised in East Newark, who’s bilingual, and everyone raves about his work ethic,” Mayor  Smith said.
The Borough Council also voted to retain Michael Cifelli, a Lyndhurst attorney who serves as the borough’s municipal prosecutor, as a special counsel to represent East Newark in a court case involving Alma Realty Corp., of Astoria, N.Y., the owners of the old Clark Thread factory complex on Passaic Ave.
The borough has alleged that Alma Realty, the designated redeveloper of the property, has failed to fix certain fire code violations in the complex and both sides are due back in Municipal Court on Jan. 3.
Cifelli will get $135 an hour, with a cap of $7,500 for his labors.
Smith said that Cifelli will replace Edgewater attorney Thomas Wall, previously hired as special counsel in the case. It was felt that Cifelli, a specialist in civil defense litigation, would be a better choice than Wall, whose specialty is business law, Smith said.
Alma Realty, which has proposed converting the old factory into rental apartments, may be asking the court to transfer the case to another legal jurisdiction.

Kearny High School facelift underway

By Ron Leir

KEARNY –
The trailers that Kearny High School intends to use as temporary classrooms during its 3-year reconstruction have arrived.
But exactly when students will begin occupying them remains something of a quandary, as does the status of the overall $39 million project.
Interior demolition work of the old high school pool area is “well under way,” noted Steve Williams, project manager for the general contractor, Brockwell & Carrington, of Towaco, and evidence of that progress was made clear during an impromptu tour arranged for The Observer last Thursday.
Still, Williams conceded that “we’ve lost some time … three to four months” on the overall construction schedule because of what he described as “a couple of issues with permits” needed from the town construction code office.
That office, Williams said, “had questions on the architect’s drawings,” as to “application of code issues.”
Asked for clarification, Michael Martello, the town’s construction official, said: “The (Kearny) Board of Education submitted a number of drawings to the town which the town has reviewed… There were issues with the architect of record. The town has tried to work with the school board in getting the permits issued properly.”
Part of the difficulty in the matter, Martello said, is that the applicable building codes have been updated since approximately 2006 when the school board initially had plans drafted for the improvements. (It wasn’t until much later that the board got outside funding commitments and overcame contractual litigation hurdles on the project.)
Elaborating, Anthony Chisari, the town’s assistant construction official/building sub code official, said that the town and the board’s architect “have gone back and forth on design criteria” for the project.
One of those design issues, Chisari said, deals with “ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance – things like the swing of classroom rooms, grab bars, handicapped-access bathrooms.”
Another issue is providing plans for a sprinkler system.
The school board has taken steps to try and resolve the logjam by voting unanimously to terminate its contract with the project architect, DF Gibson, of New York, and to hire a replacement firm, Sen Architects, one of two architectural outfits recommended by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Board President George King said that the board voted unanimously on Dec. 19 to approve a separation settlement with DF Gibson that included, among other things, payment of monies owed to the firm and the board’s right to ownership of Gibson’s plans on the project. Terms of the settlement weren’t readily available at press time. The board also agreed to pay Sen a $300,000 fee for its work between now and the remainder of the project, King said.
“I believe this will resolve all outstanding issues,” King said. “All along, the board’s goal was to keep the project going forward and I was told that the town was going along.” When complete, the project calls for 20 new classrooms, an enlarged cafeteria, soundproofed doors and windows and a new ventilation system and an atrium atop a five-story light court.
Meanwhile, demolition workers appear to be in the final phase of knocking down masonry walls of the former enclosure that housed the long-empty pool and balcony where youth services offices were formerly housed.
The pool ceiling is gone and the remaining shell is now exposed to the elements, with only piles of bricks and rubble left on the ground. Murals that once adorned the east and west walls of the pool area have been removed for safekeeping, according to Williams.
Taking the place of the pool site will be a new culinary arts facility.
Next on the agenda, Williams said, are preparations to partition off interior first-floor school corridors so as to close off access to portions of the wood shop and auto shop classes. But before any further interior demolition can occur, there will have to be some asbestos abatement, Williams said.
That job, which is contingent on getting local and state environmental permits, is expected to begin by mid- to late January, Williams said.
At around the same time, it is hoped that students can start moving into the 14 trailers that the school board is leasing from GE Mod-Space. “These units were built eight to 10 years ago and they’re built to move from job site to job site,” Williams said.
Each trailer is designed to hold up to “20-something” students. Each will be equipped with air-conditioning, two bathrooms, carpeting and will be wired for lighting and computer access.
Still to come are the plumbing and electrical connections, along with a linkup to the high school fire alarm system. The trailers will also be outfitted with security alarms.
Students will be rotated through the trailers in stages linked to the construction plan, school administrators said. How that will work hasn’t yet been made known by administrators.
In the meantime, the school board is sifting through a list of 21 applicants for a permanent superintendent of schools. Acting Supt. Ron Bolandi said the board plans to narrow the field to six candidates for interviews Jan. 4 and 5. A second round of “cuts” is expected around mid-January, he said.
The board voted Dec. 19 to extend Bolandi’s contract through June 30 “to ensure that we have enough time to make a final selection,” King said.

No holiday reprieve for civilian employees

By Ron Leir

KEARNY –
While cops and firefighters were spared the municipal axe, four civilian workers were denied a last-minute reprieve in Kearny.
Eleven non-uniformed employees had been on the chopping block – slated for termination as of Dec. 31, 2011 – but two ended up being spared and five opted to retire, leaving four hanging out to dry.
Civil Service Association, Local 11, which bargains for civilian workers, has challenged the layoffs, appealing to the New Jersey Div. of Merit System Practices & Labor Relations to overturn the town’s actions, but without a court ordering an expedited hearing, it was unclear how this move would help.
Local 11’s Newark attorney Paul Kleinbaum couldn’t be reached for clarification.
Mayor Alberto Santos said that as late as Dec. 28, the town, through its labor counsel Frederick Danser, tried to negotiate a deal with Local 11 on a plan to withdraw the layoffs if the union would accept 13 furlough days for 2012.
Santos said that the furloughs (with a cash value of about $350,000), combined with the retirements, would have given the town the desired savings to cancel the terminations.
“But we failed to achieve an agreement,” the mayor said.
Local 11 President Mary Ann Ryan, a principal clerk-typist in the Fire Department and one of the four casualties, said the union membership rejected any proposal “to reopen our existing contract which runs through 2014” on the suspicion that the town would then throw out that contract and ask the members to subsidize their health benefits.
Santos said that while such an option was available to the town under state rules, the town stood ready and willing to waive that move by writing a proviso into the contract.
Ryan griped that the town’s representatives bargained in bad faith by giving the union differing amounts of savings it wanted to achieve; by insisting that anyone retiring had to leave by Dec. 31, unlike police and firefighters; and by failing to lay off by seniority.
But Santos labeled these allegations as unfounded. “We have negotiated in good faith. We presented fair proposals that would have saved people’s jobs.”
Unless there are 11th- hour changes, as of press time, here’s how the Local 11 roster scenario unfolds:
Fatima Fowlkes, clerk-typist bilingual in Public Works with about five years of service; Elizabeth Wainman, clerk in Construction Code Enforcement with about 17 years; Kerry Kosick, senior librarian with about five years; and Mary Ann Ryan, principal clerk-typist in the Fire Dept. with 29 years, are being laid off.
Ronald Ciccone, park attendant with 33 years; and Theresa Marrazzo, agency aide in the Health Dept. with about 37 years, are taking normal retirement.
Paul Ashe and Marcella Callaghan, sanitation inspectors each with about 15 years; and Karen Greb, omnibus driver for the Health Dept., with more than 10 years, are taking disability retirements.
Lorraine Clifford, senior clerk-typist in the Police Dept., with about 15 years, had “bumping” rights to another clerk-typist position in the Police Dept. held by Mary Ann Moran but Santos said the town had achieved sufficient savings in that department to retain both Clifford and Moran.
William Sanders, a parking violations officer with more than five years, was removed from the layoff list. Santos said the town “reconsidered” after being persuaded by the union that the revenues in fines levied by Sanders covered the cost of most of his annual salary.
All retirements were to take effect Dec. 31, 2011.
Asked why Ryan’s job couldn’t have been saved if the town had met its budget savings goal for the Fire Department, Santos said: “We just about met our goal there. There isn’t excess savings for a clerical position in the Fire Department.”
With this week’s filing of retirement papers by two of the three deputy police chiefs (brothers James and Jack Corbett), effective Feb. 1, 2012, Santos said he could now confirm there will be “no layoffs” of uniformed personnel in the Police Department. The same holds true for the Fire Department, he added.
Although the town hasn’t mailed notices rescinding those layoffs – because, according to the mayor, state rules don’t allow rescinding part of a layoff plan – nonetheless, “there will be no layoffs of uniformed employees in 2012,” Santos said.
Santos said the town had hoped to achieve the desired budget cuts “as a shared sacrifice across the board. I don’t want to do it on the backs of our taxpayers or our town workers. It’s very frustrating not to have an agreement with Local 11.”
But Ryan and Local 11 Vice President Shirley Manucci countered that in recent years, it’s the civilian rank-and-file who’ve been made the patsy for the town’s cost-cutting measures.
For this year, to avert the threat of 19 layoffs, Local 11 members voluntarily agreed to give back part of the pay raise they received and also accepted 26 furlough days – about 10% of their base pay. Ryan said members will also take a pay cut in 2012.
“To me,” said Manucci, “it’s union-busting, plain and simple. Since 2006, 28 people (from the local) who’ve gone off the payroll haven’t been replaced. The (town’s) only hiring has been of part-timers. That leads me to believe it’s union-busting.”
No question the public will feel the pinch, Ryan said. “Now you’ll have no bilingual person in either the Building Department or in Public Works – the two main places where that’s absolutely needed,” she said. Residents and contractors will have to wait longer to get inspections scheduled and “there’ll be no inspector to fine you for commingling garbage with plastic,” Ryan said.
Santos conceded that the public will be inconvenienced to some extent in 2012. With the retirement of assistant tax collector Jim Waller, the tax collector’s office “will close for an hour each day,” Santos said, “and it may take a couple of weeks to get a (construction) permit – a resident may not get the rapid turnaround he or she expects. We’ll try to manage it with improvements in technology.”
As part of an ongoing effort to drive up municipal revenues, Santos said that the 2012 municipal budget to be introduced in February will call for an increase in fees for park and picnic permits and for certain licenses issued by the Health Dept. and Town Clerk.
The town raised its water rates earlier this year.
“We’ve joined other towns in purchasing cooperatives so we can get a cheaper price by buying larger quantities of goods, we’re keeping all professional fees flat and we’re minimizing capital projects unless they’re funded by state or federal sources,” Santos said. “Our operational budget has been reduced by 5% over the last two years.”
Still, he acknowledged, there will likely be a “small tax increase” upcoming for 2012 because of higher insurance and utility costs anticipated.

A WORD WITH THE PUBLISHER: Happy New Year!

publisher@theobserver.com

 By Lisa Pezzolla

When the clock struck twelve December 31, all over the world, wishes of cheer were exchanged. People were either gathered around with beloved friends and family or that special someone. For some, the new year is a time to reminisce about the past
and to think about a new beginning that may wait ahead.
It is a time to remember those we have lost and to cherish the wonderful memories
that were shared, and to begin new memories with new and old friends. I want to
wish all our readers a happy and healthy New Year.
May this year bring you love and happiness all year round. Thank you for all your support. See you in 2012!

Man sought in attempted armed robbery

It failed for lack of a key.
Police said a man hoping to rob the AutoZone store on Washington Ave. in Belleville on Dec. 27 gave up when the store manager told him he didn’t have the key needed to open the store safe.
The incident unfolded shortly after 6:30 a.m., police said, when the 26-year-old store manager parked his car on the side of the AutoZone and popped into a nearby shop for a coffee, then began walking back to his car to get something he’d forgotten.
As he was going to his car, police said the manager was approached by a man who told him he was having trouble with his car battery and wanted to know when the auto supply store opened.
After the manager said he was about to open the shop, police said the man pulled out some type of “metal object,” pointed it at his head and demanded that he open the store safe.
When the manager said he couldn’t do that because he didn’t have the “secondary key” required, police said the man threw him to the ground and ran away.
Police said the manager was taken to Clara Maass Hospital, Belleville, for observation and treatment.
Police described the robber as black, about 5-feet-9, with a short haircut and a mole on the right side of his face, wearing a black jacket. He was believed to have fled in a mint green Ford Taurus wagon.
Here are other incidents that the Belleville Police Department logged during the past week:

Dec. 23
Officers patrolling in the area of Union Ave. and Mill St. at 10:47 p.m. did a license plate check on a red Jeep Cherokee traveling on Mill St. and discovered that the vehicle had been reported stolen out of Newark on Sept. 28.
They pursued the car west on Mill St. to Willet St. where they pulled over the car and placed the driver, Raymundo Nazario, 35, of Newark, under arrest on the charge of receiving stolen property.
A local pizza delivery man’s vehicle was vandalized Dec. 23 in what police characterized as an apparent case of road rage.
The victim told police he was en route to make a delivery, at 10:25 p.m., when the driver of a green pickup truck began yelling at him and followed him to his delivery destination on Stephens St.
There, the victim said, the driver of the truck exited his vehicle and smashed the side rear window of his Toyota Corola.

Dec. 22
Someone removed a GPS unit, a $100 bill and a prescription bottle from a 2-door gray 2007 Honda Civic while it was parked in the 100 block of Heckel St., sometime between 1:00 a.m. on Dec. 19 and 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 22. Police said the owner left the car unlocked due to a faulty alarm system.
A Fairway Ave. home was burglarized in the early morning hours. The resident reported hearing a noise like boxes falling over at 3:00 a.m. and then, upon awakening, shortly after 9:00 a.m., discovered a side door window broken and two boxes of cosmetics and perfumes missing from the basement.
A student at Belleville High School was arrested at 9:00 a.m. in a drug-related incident. The principal called police after a teacher reportedly spotted a male student at the top of a stairwell inside the school holding a small bag of suspected marijuana and a pipe typically used for inhaling the substance. The student, 16, was charged with possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia and released to his father, pending court action.

Dec. 21
Police are investigating two criminal incidents that occurred near the Rutgers Court Apartments shortly before midnight.
In the first incident, a witness reported hearing a man screaming, “Someone took my cell phone!”, and seeing a black man wearing a hooded sweatshirt running east on Rutgers St., entering a gate leading to the apartment complex before losing sight of him. Police later found a cell phone in the street.
A short time later, a man walking out of a nearby food mart was approached by a male who asked if he could use his cell phone. After handing over his phone, the male then punched him, knocking him to the ground and repeatedly punched and kicked him in the face before fleeing through a Rutgers Court driveway.
Police described the attacker as a skinny black man, between 25 and 30, about 6-feet-2, with a long scruffy beard and wearing a hooded sweatshirt.
One man has been collared and others are being sought in connection with what police described as a strong-arm robbery at 11:36 p.m. in the area of Cortlandt and Holmes Sts.
The victim was walking west on Holmes St. when he was met by a man who was then joined by two other males armed with black baseball bats and wooden sticks who hit him in the back and ordered him to empty his pockets and give them everything he had. The victim surrendered his cell phone and $200 and his attackers fled. Police, however, managed to detain one man – Osvaldo Guzman, 18, of Belleville – who fit a description given by the victim and arrested him on charges of obstruction, resisting arrest, robbery, possession of a weapon (a bat and a stick) for unlawful purpose.
A man who reportedly confessed to the deed was arrested on a shoplifting charge at 7:35 p.m. at Rutgers St. and Washington Ave. Police said they spotted two men walking near the intersection and one of them appeared to be hiding something under his jacket. When asked what was under the jacket, police said the man unzipped the jacket where police found two Pro Con Air Spin Air brushes valued at $107. The man told police he’d just taken them from Walgreens on Washington Ave. without having paid for the items. After confirming the merchandise was from Walgreens, police arrested Jose Acosta-Diaz, 40, of Newark, on charges of shoplifting and possession of a hypodermic syringe, which they said they found in his pocket. Police said Acosta-Diaz was also wanted on warrants from Newark and Florida. He was taken to the county jail pending court action. The other man was released.
A store owner in the 300 block of Wayne St. reported the theft of a bundle of Star Ledger newspapers from outside his store at around 6:00 a.m. The owner told police that the paper thefts had been “ongoing” since Dec. 19 and that another bundle had been taken two weeks previously.

Dec. 20
Police are investigating a burglary in the 100 block of Stephens St. that happened sometime between 9:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Upon returning to the apartment, the tenant found the door to the apartment forced open, the apartment ransacked and a lockbox containing bills missing.