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Around town

Belleville Elks will be sponsor a blood drive on Wednesday, July 27, at 254 Washington Ave., from 5 to 9 p.m. Appointment is not necessary. The drive is open to citizens of Belleville and surrounding communities. Donors must be at least 17-years-old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in general good health. There is no upper age limit for donors meeting the health requirements. All blood donors will be given mini-physicals. Donors must bring along a signed form of identification. People with a fever or sore throat should wait until they are feeling better before donating and there is a 24-hour deferral for tooth cleanings and fillings. For those who have recently traveled outside the United States, please call the Blood Center at 973-676-4700, ext. 132 for eligibility criteria.
The Weight Loss Institute of New Jersey will offer a free informational session, “Weight Loss Surgery Options,” on Wednesday, July 20, at 6 p.m. in the Belleville Founders Room at Clara Maass Medical Center, 1 Clara Maass Drive.
The program will focus on who is a candidate for weight-loss surgery, what to expect before, during and after surgery, as well as the risks, benefits and alternatives. A support group for post-bariatric surgery patients will follow the seminar.
For more information, call Katie Szymona at 973-450-2393, or e-mail  kszymona@sbhcs.com. Walk-ins are welcome at the program.

Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes (“If You Don’t Know Me By Now”) will be featured in a free concert Thursday, July 21, at 7:30 p.m. in Brookdale Park, Bloomfield, as part of the Essex County SummerMusic Concert Series. For more information, please call the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs at 973‑239-2485.
Bloomfield Public Library will host “Gold From Your Garden,” an interactive discussion about gardening and recipes on Aug. 2 at 10 a.m. Bring your recipes and experiences and come with lots of ideas! For more information on this event or upcoming programs, please call (973) 566-6200, ext. 502.

Heaven Cent Thrift Shop at First Presbyterian Church, 663 Kearny Ave., announces its end of summer clothing 50% off sale beginning Wednesday, July 20. The shop is open on Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and features good quality clothing for every member of your family. Donations of new or gently used clothing and small household items are welcome and very much appreciated. Entrance is on Laurel Ave.
The Junior Woman’s Club of Arlington is hosting a garage sale fundraiser on Saturday, July 23, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., at 57 Hillcrest Road in Kearny.  There will be something for everyone, with electronics, CDs, DVDs, furniture, appliances, baby items, clothing for adults and children, as well as lots of toys and books.  All proceeds of the sale will go to local charities including St. Stephen’s Food Pantry and the Valerie Fund.
West Hudson Christian Center, 557 Kearny Ave., will host a free Vacation Bible School (Pandamania) for ages 3 to 12 from July 24 to 27, from 7 to 9 p.m. Kids will explore a bamboo forest full of fun-loving pandas. Special programs will include Bible stories, songs, crafts and snacks. Moms, dads and grandparents are welcome to relax in the center’s cafe setting, hear about parenting topics and mingle with others while the kids are having fun. Call 201-997-7762 or visit www.groupvbspro.com/vbs/ez/whcc.

Two free senior citizens programs are scheduled at the Meadowlands Environment Center in DeKorte Park, Lyndhurst. On Thursday, July 21, at 7 p.m., nurse practitioner and health educator Maylene Laguna will present “Your Heart, Your Health and Yoga,” with advice about staying healthy and how yoga can play a role in longevity.
“Art of the Masters: Michelangelo and the Art of Clay” will be offered Tuesday, July 26, at 3 p.m. It will showcase the life and work of Michelangelo, and participants will be able to create their own clay busts.
Seating is limited, and registration is required for each program. Call 201-460-8300, or to register online go to www.njmeadowlands.gov/ec,  click on “Community Programs” and select “register for a program.”
The Lyndhurst High School Class of 1971 is planning a 40th class reunion Saturday, Oct. 15, at Michael’s Riverside, 525 Riverside Ave., Lyndhurst. All graduates and guests of the Class of  ’71 are invited to attend. For more details, contact the reunion committee at jhjazz@aol.com or check the class Facebook wall. If anyone knows of a class member’s location/email address, they are asked to forward it to the above email address.

North Arlington
North Arlington Seniors Inc.  (Tuesday Club) have scheduled the following trips to Atlantic City: Sept. 1, Oct. 6, Nov. 3 and Dec. 8. A trip to Renault Winery and a casino is scheduled for Aug. 4. For information or reservations, call Rose 201-991-2423 or Marie 201-998-6510. All are welcome. The trips are open to non-members.

The Dalton Gang, a 10-piece band that first performed together in 1979 and mixes jazz with a blend of funk and Latin music, will perform Tuesday, July 26, at  7 p.m. at Yanticaw Park in Nutley as part of the Essex County free SummerMusic Concert Series.    For more information, call the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs at 973‑239-2485. TDD # 711.
The Third Annual Nutley Art Society Group Show is on view at the Nutley Free Public Library through July 29.  The show celebrates the talent of a group of local artists that meets every Monday afternoon at the Parks and Recreation Building on Park Ave. Society members are free to pursue their own artistic styles amongst peers regardless of skill level.  New members are invited to drop by Mondays between 12:30 and 4 p.m.
This exhibition presents paintings and photography by nine of its members:  Jean D’Emidio, Susan Farr, Richard Griese, Anton Ierubino, Ruth Konopka, Margot Parker, Theresa Ruffo, Susan Vogel and Dianne Wilson.
Library hours:  Mon., Tues., Thurs. 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. /  Wed., Fri., Sat. 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
BabyGarten for children birth to 22 months will be held on Monday, Aug. 1 and 8, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at library. Babies and their caregivers will enjoy great books, nursery rhymes, playtime and meet other babies from the Nutley area. Registration is required.
Pajama Story Time for children of all ages will be held on Monday, Aug. 1 and 8, at 7 p.m. at the library. Registration is not required.
Library patrons are invited to play bridge at the library on the following Tuesdays, Aug. 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 at 1 p.m.
The library’s Tuesday Evening Knitting Club will meet on Aug. 2 from 7 to 8:45 p.m. Come share your love of knitting and crocheting with both beginning and experienced knitters.  Please bring your own supplies. This group meets every the first Tuesday of every month.
Hooked on Books, a book club for fifth and sixth graders, will meet on Tuesdays, Aug. 2 and 16, from 7 to 8 p.m. at the library. At each meeting, the group will discuss a book, have a snack and play a game. Sign up at the children’s desk or register online through the library’s website. The book is to be decided.
The library’s Wednesday Afternoon Knitting Club will meet weekly in August from 1 to 3 p.m. Come share your love of knitting and crocheting with both beginning and experienced knitters. Meet fellow knitters, brush-up on your skills, and learn some new techniques. Please bring your own supplies.

The Swiss Army knife of financial planning

By Randy Neumann

According to Wikipedia, the term “Swiss Army knife” is “sometimes used metaphorically to describe usefulness, such as a software tool that is a collection of special-purpose tools.”  The online encyclopedia says the name “Swiss Army knife” was coined by U.S. soldiers because they had trouble pronouncing its original name, “Offiziermesser.”  The knife is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and in Munich’s state Museum of Applied Art for its design.
Well, in personal financial planning, a charitable remainder trust (CRT) can be compared to the Swiss Army knife.  The Swiss Army knife can contain knife blades, tweezers, toothpicks, a corkscrew, etc.  And talk about being up to date, a year ago, Victorinox, the manufacturer of the “official” Swiss Army knife, came out with a cyber version that includes a laser pointer, a 32 GB detachable fingerprint USB flash drive and Bluetooth.
A CRT can provide tax savings: income, estate and inheritance, gifts to charities, income for life, and gifts to heirs with multipliers, et al.
Let’s start with the basics.  With a CRT trust, you can transfer cash and highly appreciated assets to the trust and, in return, you may arrange to receive income for life or a specified stretch of time (not to exceed 20 years).
Income may potentially be paid out of the CRT not only during your lifetime, but also over the lifetimes of your heirs.  Eventually, a percentage of the assets in the CRT go to charities or nonprofits of your choice.  In brief, the CRT gives you a chance to:
Enjoy a current income tax deduction
Avoid estate taxes on the gifted assets
Create an income stream
Achieve tax-free compounding of assets (until withdrawn from the CRT)
Sell assets with a low-cost basis without incurring capital gains taxes
The transfer of assets to a CRT qualifies as a charitable contribution, thereby allowing you to take an income tax deduction based upon the estimated present value of the remainder interest that will eventually go to charity.
Let’s say that you have a stock that is worth $100 for which you paid $10.  If you sell the stock, you would have to pay capital gains on $90.  The capital gains tax rate was cut during the Bush administration to a maximum of 15%.  Based on what’s going on in Washington these days, who knows where the rate will be in the future?  Capital gains rates have been as high as 60%.
So, not paying capital gains tax is a good thing that happens when you make a contribution to a CRT.
What about income?  To be recognized as valid by the IRS, the payout of a CRT must be at least 5%.  Although this amount can be increased, there is a trade-off between the upfront tax deduction and the stream of income provided by the trust enabling you to customize the program to fit your needs based on an acceptable formula.
CRTs can provide income for life for you and other beneficiaries; therefore, they can be considered retirement income vehicles.  Like any other retirement income vehicle, the assets in the trust are subject to market fluctuation, so if you’re concerned about running out of money before you die, you can guarantee payments through annuity contracts.
So far, so good.  You make a donation to a trust and, in turn, receive an income tax deduction.  You receive a stream of income over your life and the life of another beneficiary.  When you and your beneficiary (you can have more than one) die, a charity or multiple charities receive what’s left in the trust so your estate pays no tax on that asset.
Sounds too good to be true, but it’s not.  Why?  Because who gets the short end of the stick on this deal?  Your heirs.  Had you not funded the trust, received an income tax deduction, taken a stream of income over your life, and had not made a gift to a charity(ies), your heirs would have received something.
I say “something” because in most cases because there are transfer taxes to be paid that will reduce what you pass on to your heirs, so they wouldn’t get it all anyway.  But there a fix that can multiply what your heirs receive when you pass on.
Remember that stream of income that you are receiving from the trust?  Well, assuming your health is okay, you can use some of that income to buy a life insurance policy on yourself that will guarantee a specific amount of money to your heirs.  Furthermore, you can put this life insurance into a trust ensuring that the life insurance proceeds will not be subject to a transfer tax.
Talk about having your cake and eating it too!

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.

New schools boss facing divided board

Photo by Ron Leir

By Ron Leir

The Board of Education has agreed on an interim superintendent to replace the departed Frank Digesere but not without some wrangling that may not bode well for future board deliberations.
The new temporary schools administrator is Ron Bolandi, who was hired June 20 at a special meeting by a vote of 5-0 after the four other members walked out following a stormy closed session.

On June 30, after the Hudson County superintendent of schools made some minor revisions to Bolandi’s contract, the full board voted 9-0 to ratify the hiring.
James Doran Jr., one of the four who boycotted the June 20 public meeting, said state law prevented him from disclosing the contents of the closed session but he commented that he and his colleagues were upset over the way the board leadership handled the interim’s selection process.
“We didn’t advertise for the position, and one hour of discussion (at the closed session) is not enough time to come up with a decision,” Doran said. “I felt this was forced down our throats . . . .  I felt our voices weren’t being heard.”

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

All that glitters

By Karen Zautyk

If you are one of the many people considering hunting through your jewelry boxes or coin collections for some gold or precious trinkets to sell for a bit of extra money in these tough times, be aware that, in legitimate transactions, there are usually restrictions on such dealings.
And in Kearny the rules just got tighter.
A press release issued by Mayor Alberto Santos and the Town Council last Thursday noted that the governing body has adopted stricter requirements for dealers of secondhand precious metals and jewelry. The purpose: To “enhance the ability of law enforcement to identify and retrieve stolen precious metals and jewelry in a timely manner.”
As Santos explained in the release, “There are a growing number of dealers in this merchandise. The new law is intended to eliminate the money incentive for people to steal and then pawn in Kearny.”

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

You can run, but you can’t hide

By Karen Zautyk

Question for the 34-year-old Bloomfield man who led a Kearny radio car on a roundabout chase last week: “Bad boy, bad boy, watcha gonna do, watcha gonna do when they come for you?”
As they will.
The incident began at 4 p.m., Wednesday, July 6, when Kearny Police Officer Mike Andrews, traveling east on Harrison Ave., observed a vehicle exit Rt. 280 without yielding to traffic. He stopped the car and as he approached, police said, noticed the occupant stuffing something down his pants and into the center console. He also reportedly noticed a strong odor of marijuana and saw a rolled joint in the vehicle.
According to Police Chief John Dowie, as Andrews was reaching into the open driver’s side door, the motorist put the car in drive and took off eastbound on Harrison. The officer gave chase, following the fleeing auto to the Rt. 7 merge, then over the Wittpenn Bridge into Jersey City, onto Newark Ave. and Rt. 1-9. On the highway, the driver reportedly picked up speed, despite the traffic, and then crossed back into South Kearny via the Hackensack River bridge. Andrews terminated the pursuit in the area of Doremus Ave. in Newark.

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

From rendering to reality


Photo courtesy of Harrison Station

Photo by Ron Leir/Architect’s sketch of Harrison Station project is fast taking form in reality. Occupancy of the apartments is set for this autumn.

By Ron Leir

Work is nearing completion on the first phase of this town’s second major waterfront redevelopment project, the 275-unit Harrison Commons residential/retail complex.
The previously developed River Park at Harrison, on First St., received Planning Board approval last month for a second phase of more than 300 new apartments on the site of the GEO Specialty Chemical plant, but no starting date has yet been set for that project.
A tour of the Harrison Commons tract, however, shows construction moving at a fast pace to accommodate a projected fall occupancy.
A website newly posted by the developers now lists the project as “Harrison Station” – just across the street from the Harrison PATH station at 300 Somerset St. – and describes it as “a stunning new luxury rental development featuring spacious layouts, soaring windows, chef-inspired kitchens, and stylistic designer finishes . . .”
All apartments are being equipped with washers and dryers and air-conditioning; the lobby will be staffed by a doorman; a management office will be on site.

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.


Travels into transit history

Photo courtesy Port Authority of N.Y. & N.J./Holland Tunnel entrance, New Jersey side, circa 1935.

By Karen Zautyk

I am not embarrassed to admit that I was one of those kids who grew up referring to the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey as the “Port of Authority.” As in, “I’ll meet you at the Port of Authority bus terminal.”
I also called the PATH train “the Tubes.” As in, “I’ll meet you at the Tube station at Journal Square.”
This  personal trivia arises thanks to an announcement that the 90-year-old Port Authority has now launched a website whereon the public can view and buy “classic photographs from the agency’s rich history.” I immediately moused on over to it – www.portauthorityarchive.com – and was enchanted.
Okay, the agency’s idea is to market the photos, most of which sell for $19.95 for an 11×14 to $24.95 for a 16×20. (Framed versions available for $45.95-$69.95.)  But it has now also  given the public a fascinating online scrapbook.
For some of us, our childhood gateway to the Land of Oz (Manhattan) was that bus terminal on Eighth Ave. Take the escalator down to the main  floor, go out the glass doors and step into another world, filled with masses of people, all hurrying somewhere, a moving tide of Checker cabs, and a sense of excitement you couldn’t find on this side of the Hudson. My parents took me there so often from the  time I was a tot that the images are engraved in my memory.

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

A case of Dumb & Dumberer?

By Karen Zautyk

Didja ever watch “World’s Dumbest” on truTV? Well we have a couple of candidates this week. A father-son duo. We’d give the trophy to daddy.
Read on:
At 12:04 a.m. Friday, the Nutley PD received a report of an erratic driver hitting the curbs at the Burger King on Franklin  Ave.
When officers arrived, they found a 23-year-old Bernardsville man, Timothy Moran Jr., behind the wheel of a 2001 Chevy SUV. In the vehicle, police said, were his father, Timothy Sr., 48, of Flemington, and several packages of illegal fireworks, which the son reportedly admitted were his.
According to Det. Anthony Montanari, it was also found that Timothy Jr.’s driver’s license was suspended and that he was wanted on a criminal warrant out of Clark. The SUV, police said, was unregistered and uninsured.
The son was taken into custody and transported to police headquarters, where his vehicle was impounded and he was issued summonses and where his father bailed him out, posting the required $250.

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

Neighbor foils home invasion

By Karen Zautyk

A brazen second-story man was arrested last week after he broke into a Walnut St. home in the middle of the day but was confronted by the frightened victim’s neighbor who had rushed to her aid, police reported. The intruder fled on foot but was tracked down and arrested in Belleville a short time later.
Nutley Det. Anthony Montanari said the home invasion occurred around 2:15 p.m., Tuesday, July 5. The suspect reportedly rang the front doorbell, but the woman occupant of home would not answer because she did not recognize the man.
Minutes later, while she was in the kitchen preparing lunch, she heard a bang and then footsteps coming from upstairs. She went outside and saw that a second-floor window had been opened and the screen removed. Montanari said the intruder had climbed onto the roof from a porch railing.
The woman called 911 and then ran to the neighbor’s house. Montanari said the neighbor went into her home “and came face-to-face with the intruder“ on the second floor. “The actor tried forcing a door closed on the neighbor and then climbed out the same window and slid down a leader pipe before running south on Walnut St.,” the detective said.

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

‘You Raise Me Up’

By Lisa Pezzolla

Sunday was a picturesque day; we started by going out for breakfast first and then headed to a park in Nyack to enjoy the beautiful day ahead that was perfectly predicted.
The sun was shining and the sky blue, a day to enjoy the outdoors by the water. I was with a friend of mine, Denton, and we were in his parked car talking when a young man walked toward us, all excited, asking questions about the car.
He then intensely focused on the trees and plants that were surrounding us. He then told me he liked music. So I opened my Pandora Radio application on my phone and started playing the Billy Joel he requested. His face lit up and he was so excited and he shared that he takes voice lessons. In between singing, he announced his name was Zach. At this point I was still sitting in the car and I handed him the phone and I proceeded to get out of car.
Zach and I walked over to sit on the bench as we listened to music. At one point, he reached for my hand as he sang and squeezed it so gently with a big smile. We continued staring out to the Hudson River and talking about all subjects that he enjoyed. Boats passed and in the distance the Tappan Zee Bridge stood tall. Pigeons and ducks landed in the water to eat the treats that folks threw into the water.
One of Zach’s favorite singers is Josh Grobin, so I found it for him. He stood up and faced me and sang at the top of his lungs “You Raise Me Up.”
As I watched him, tears came down. This special new friend made sense out of what life is all about. After he was finished, he sat back down and he hugged me. Zach is an autistic young man. As he walked away I could tell he was looking to see who would listen to him next. I’m not sure if we will ever see each other again, but he deeply touched me. All he wanted was a friend to listen.