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Around town

Bloomfield
Bloomfield Public Library Book Club will meet on Monday, Jan. 9, from 6:45 to 7:50 p.m. in the Conference Room to discuss  “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” by Joanne Greenberg.  “ I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” is the story of a sensitive and intelligent teenaged girl’s three-year stay in a mental hospital.  Based on Greenberg’s own experience, this beautifully written book is poetic, realistic, and inspiring. For more information or to request help in locating a copy of the book club selection, please call the reference desk at 973-566-6200, ext 502.  Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.
Bloomfield Recreation Department announces registration (required for all fall programs) will begin on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at the Bloomfield Civic Center and will continue through the winter. In-person sign-ups are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Wednesday nights from 6 to 8:30 p.m. You may also sign up online at: www.bloomfieldrecreation.org. Dates and times for all programs are listed on the website. Among the programs offered are:  Acting and drama for grades 2-3 and 4-6; adult fitness (age 18 and older): Belly Dance Workout, Pilates, Yoga, Qi Gong (beginning in March) and Zumba; art classes, bowling, hip-hop dance, intro to magic, karate, music, pee wee basketball and more.
The Recreation Department announces that all “open gym dates” for adult open gym basketball are at Bloomfield High School.  Season passes are available for $35. Please visit the website for exact dates. Bloomfield residents only.
An organizational meeting for men’s adult basketball will be held in December at the Civic Center for all interested players.  Please call the Civic Center to be placed on the information mailing list.  Games will be played Monday-Thursday in the evening at Bloomfield Middle School. The league is for men, 18 years or older.
Adult open gym volleyball will be held on Tuesdays from 8 to 9:30 p.m. at Oak View School. Must be 18 and over to participate.
The Bloomfield Camera Club meets every Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Bloomfield Civic Center. People of all experience levels are welcomed to attend.  Bring your camera and manual and learn about portrait, sports and wedding photography as well as everyday shots. Participants will learn how to use their cameras to their full potential. For more information, contact Otis Sullivan at otisdsullivan@verizon.net, or call the Civic Center at 973-743-9074.

Kearny
Pathways to Independence, 60 Kingsland Ave., Kearny, is having craft fair on Thursday, Dec. 15, from noon to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. All items are hand made.
Grace United Methodist Church, 380 Kearny Ave., Kearny, is having a holiday craft/vendor fair on Dec. 17, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pictures will Santa will be available for $5.
Kearny Lions Club is currently collecting non-perishable foods for needy Kearny families for the holidays until Dec. 20 at the following locations: SAS Insurance Agency, Inc., 233 Kearny Ave., Kearny; Investors Bank Kearny Branch, 180 Schuyler Ave., Kearny; Pathways to Independence, Inc., 60 Kingsland Ave., Kearny and  Family Vision Care, 64 Ridge Road, North Arlington.
St. Stephen’s Seniors will meet on Tuesday, Dec. 20, at 1 p.m. in Hedges Hall (lower church). For club information, please call Tom at 201-998-8258.
Grace United Methodist Church, 380 Kearny Ave., Kearny, will have a special service and gift-giving for the unemployed on Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 7 p.m. There will be prayers and readings supporting all those presently unemployed. At the end of the service, $10 gift cards to local establishments to help with food, clothing and other means of helping to prepare for job interviews will be handed out. Refreshments and fellowship to follow. If you have any questions, please call the church at 201-991-1132 or email gfriez@hotmail.com.
The West Hudson Family Success Center will be hosting the United Way of Essex and West Hudson for a group conversation to discuss the strengths, challenges, and needs in education in our community on Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 6 p.m.  The presentation will take place at 655 Kearny Ave., Suite 103, in Kearny.
The presentation will be available in both English and Spanish.  Parents, caregivers and teachers of children any age are encouraged to attend.  Please R.S.V.P. by calling the West Hudson Family Success Center at 201-998-0803. The United Way of Essex and West Hudson offers a variety of free programs, services and materials.  For additional information visit www.uwewh.org.
D.J. Wolfie Services of Kearny announces that Santa Claus will visit the following locations: Dec. 19 – Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville, from 9 a.m. to noon; Dec. 22 – Belgrove Post Acute Care Center, Kearny, from 2 to 4 p.m., Chris Pizzeria, Lyndhurst, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 24 – West Hudson Extended Care, Kearny, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. If you have a loved one who is hospitalized and you want Santa to make a special visit at any of the above hospitals, please call 201-998-4530.
The PBGC, 663 Kearny Ave., will hold its annual Christmas dance on Friday, Dec. 16, from 7 to 10 p.m. D.J. Brian will be the star disc jockey, spinning Top 40’s and special requests. Come and see the new fog machine. Wear your red and green to get into the Christmas spirit. Guests are restricted to teens only. The dance will be supervised by Tom Fraser, former Lincoln School guidance counselor and Paul Viera, charirman of the Board and members of the Board of Directors.

Lyndhurst
The Third-Tuesday-of-the-Month Nature Walk with the NJMC and BCAS celebrate the upcoming winter solstice with a free walk at DeKorte Park on Tuesday, Dec. 20, at 10 a.m. Check meadowblog.net for last-minute weather updates. You will have to sign a standard liability release for 2011 if you haven’t already. To R.S.V.P., contact Don Torino of the BCAS at greatauk4@aol.com or 201-230-4983.
A special Winter Solstice family celebration will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 7 p.m. at the Meadowlands Environment Center, DeKorte Park, Lyndhurst. The event will start with a discussion on the winter solstice’s significance for people in ancient times, followed by several family activities. Children will have the opportunity to create sticky rice bowls (in Asia the rice bowls are a symbol of the coming winter solstice), Yule logs (traditional Scandinavian representation of the solstice), and Native American prayer sticks (Prayer sticks are created in the days leading up to the solstice). Admission is $5. MEC members, $4. For more information, call 201-460-8300 or visit www.njmeadowlands.gov/ec.

North Arlington
North Arlington Emblem Club #297 will host a breakfast with Santa on Sunday, Dec. 18, 9 a.m. to noon, at the North Arlington Elks, 129 Ridge Road. Donations will be $7 for adults and $3 for children. Breakfast cooked by the Emblem elves will include a choice of pancakes or eggs, potatoes, bacon, sausage, toast, coffee, tea and juice. Bring your camera as Santa will be waiting to have his picture taken with kids.
The Senior Harmony Club of North Arlington has scheduled a trip to the Taj Mahal for Tuesday, Jan. 10. The cost is $23. For more information or to make a reservation, call Florence at 201-991-3173. All are welcome.

Nutley
Nutley Fit Kids and the Mayor’s Wellness Initiative present “Super Size Me,” a documentary about the adverse effects of eating fast food at Nutley Public Library on Saturday, Dec. 17, at 2 p.m.
The Pen to Prose Writers’ Group will meet at the library on Monday, Dec. 19, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The group was formed to read works-in-progress, share accomplishments, critique works, give writing instruction, and provide encouragement and inspiration to aspiring authors. The group is free and open to the public.
The library’s Monday Night Book Club will meet on Monday, Jan. 9, at 7 p.m. to discuss “The Confessions of Nat Turner” by William Styron.  The group meets on the first Monday of each month at 7 p.m. Newcomers are welcome.

Home Sweet Home!

If there is one place you want to be at the end of a tiring day, it is the warm familiar surroundings of your home. It is important for your home to be calming; a place that relaxes you and helps you unwind so you can keep the stress levels at bay. Your home is a reflection of yourself. You must create a space that allows good energy to breathe. To come home and find a sink full of dirty dishes and laundry that is piling up doesn’t do your sense of well-being and happiness any good. Hence, I encourage you to make a change in your life.
Think about the things that make you smile, and then incorporate those elements in your house. These could be books, candles, scented oils, green plants or things that inspire you. You must place these where you can see them and absorb their energy on a daily basis. However, it is also important to keep your place free of clutter and to not go overboard with these ideas. Balance is the key here. As with Feng Shui and the ancient science of Vaastu Shaastra, both which focus on the flow of energy in our home and environment, it is believed that good health and peace flourish in a clean place, free of dirt and filth.
Sometimes, even though everything looks fine to our eyes, we can sense some discomfort when we enter a place, and we know that it doesn’t feel quite right. This may also be true in situations where current occupants are experiencing similar problems to previous residents. Here, it is clear that the space needs to be altered to invite growth. There are five essential elements that must be in complete harmony for any place to provide you with its optimum potential. These are the earth, metal, fire, wood and water.
Turning your home and office environment into a calm and serene space will help you benefit from the universe that we live in. So take that first step today towards a better life. Let your home be an extension of yourself, a place you are eager to go back to. Let the sunshine illuminate not just your home but also your heart, body and the soul. Eject the unwanted and create space for the new. Make your place your own personal haven!

 

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

Lyndhurst man charged in alleged swindling scheme

Nicholas A. Rubertone

 

By Jeff Bahr

The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office arrested and charged Nicholas A. Rubertone of Lyndhurst on Dec. 7 for his alleged role in a white-collar swindling scheme that bilked unsuspecting investors out of more than $200,000. Charged with Theft by Deception and Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition, the 37-year-old was processed and released on his own recognizance.
The charges stemmed from an investigation by members of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office White Collar Crime Unit under the direction of Chief of Detectives Steven Cucciniello. According to the Crime Unit, “Rubertone solicited and received over $200,000 from various people” to invest in the transport of shipping containers that held goods from the U.S. and foreign countries. Despite repeated attempts to contact Rubertone for updates on their investments, Rubertone never divulged any information to the investors.
“The investigation revealed that, instead of investing the funds as represented, Rubertone diverted the funds for his personal use,” explained the Crime Unit. “Once Rubertone received money from the victims in the form of wire transfers and checks deposited into his personal bank account, he would almost immediately withdraw the funds for personal use.”

Out of jail, serial burglar back at it again, cops say

Gerard McCollum mugshot

 

By Ron Leir

A Kearny man who is no stranger to local gendarmes was picked up recently by police and charged with a series of burglaries dating back several weeks.
Gerard McCollum, 40, formerly of Harrison, was arrested Dec. 1 at 9:30 p.m. at Kearny Ave. and Halstead St. on warrants charging him with eight counts of burglary to a motor vehicle.
The most recent of those alleged crimes involved the burglary of a car parked on Quincy St. and the removal of two GPS units valued at between $350 and $400 on Nov. 30, Police Chief John Dowie said.
Dowie said the other incidents to which McCollum has been linked were vehicular burglaries at locations scattered around town where entry was made either to an unlocked car or with the use of “slim-jim” pry tool, Dowie said.
Records show that since November 2002, McCollum has been arrested 20 times in Kearny for crimes typically involving burglary, theft, receiving stolen property, resisting arrest and eluding police and he has had three periods of confinement, the most recent lasting from Sept. 2007 to March 2011, according to Dowie.
Dowie credited Det. Lt. Anthony Gouveia with leading an investigation into McCollum’s recent alleged criminal activities that resulted in the securing of arrest warrants and a stakeout of the area around Kearny Ave. and Halstead St. on the night of Dec. 1, culminating in the suspect’s arrest.
McCollum is currently being held at the Hudson County Jail, Kearny, awaiting court action.
Dowie advised residents to exercise caution when parking their vehicles, to properly secure them and to avoid leaving valuables in open view, especially now during the holiday shopping period, so as not to tempt potential thieves.
“ ‘Tis the season, as we say,” the chief noted.
In another high-profile crime event that took place during the past week, two Kearny cops had a close call during a high-speed chase, led by State Police, of a driver in a stolen car in the early morning hours of Dec. 6.
Dowie said Officers Adrian Marques and Barry Green were in a patrol car at 1:30 a.m. monitoring a State Police radio broadcast alerting local cops to their pursuit of a stolen 2003 Chevrolet Avalanche pickup on Rt. 280 East.
As the pursuit proceeded off of the highway and onto Harrison Ave., then to Fish House Road in South Kearny, Marques and Green joined the chase and sought to block the Avalanche as it zoomed along Jacobus Ave.
Instead of stopping, however, the driver attempted to ram the officers’ patrol car head-on, but the officers avoided the collision and pursued the suspect into the River Terminal parking lot.
As the suspect tried to exit the lot, the Avalanche sideswiped the officers’ car along the passenger’s side door, and, at one point, climbed a grassy mound before heading away.
Before giving up the pursuit, the officers last saw the Avalanche traveling north in the southbound lane of Rt. 1&9, heading for Jersey City, where police from that city were waiting on the other side of the Rt. 1&9 bridge.
There, Jersey City cops managed to stop the Avalanche and arrest the driver, David Spurgeon, 36, of Plainfield.
For his actions in Kearny, Spurgeon was charged with possession of a weapon (the Avalanche) for unlawful purpose and two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer.
Dowie commended Green and Marques for “keeping their heads” under pressure. “No shots were fired during the pursuit,” he added.
Neither officer was injured and aside from a dent on the passenger side, their patrol car remained in service, Dowie said.
In another incident, a Kearny man who began the night of Dec. 3 watching a boxing match on TV at a friend’s house on Tappan St. ended up the bloodied victim of an unplanned violent encounter with a stranger on the street in the early hours of Dec. 4.
Dowie said the 40-year-old resident told police he’d just left his buddy’s place and had reached the corner of Kearny Ave. and Hoyt St. when he met a man he didn’t know. For some reason, unknown to police, the stranger hit the resident in the face with a liquor bottle and took off, running, north along Kearny Ave.
The resident, who Dowie said, “was cut up pretty good,” shouted for help and that brought his friend to the scene, but all he could do at that point was call police for help. The incident was logged in at 3:19 a.m.
Dowie said the victim was taken to the emergency room at University Hospital & Medical Center, Newark, where he was held for possible plastic surgery.
On Dec. 3, at 10:45 a.m., Det. Michael Gonzalez collared Juan Munoz, 42, of Kearny, after Munoz – who appeared to be intoxicated – interacted with several juveniles in a way that frightened them. After learning that Munoz was wanted on an outstanding $532 warrant from Woodbridge, Gonzalez placed him under arrest. Munoz was held until Woodbridge cops could pick him up.
At 3:45 p.m. on Dec. 5, at Quincy and Ivy Sts., Officer Michael Andrews pulled over a car whose 19-year-old driver reportedly wasn’t wearing a seat belt. After detecting a marijuana-like odor wafting from the car, Andrews looked inside and found a glass pipe typically associated with the smoking of marijuana in the ashtray. He also discovered a cigarette package containing a partly smoked “blunt” and a Xanax tablet. The teen was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and two counts of possession of a controlled dangerous substance.
Officer Neil Nelson arrested Eli Santos, 41, of Kearny, at 3 p.m. on Dec. 5 at Johnston and Grant Aves. in connection with an outstanding $250 Kearny warrant stemming from a theft. Santos was released after posting bail.

Nutley Police Blotter

Dec. 9
Someone smashed the rear of window of a 2001 Cadillac registered to a Brookline Ave. resident. The incident was reported at 12:45 p.m. Police are investigating.
At 8:41 a.m., an East Centre St. resident told police that someone removed a spare tire that was mounted and covered from the back of his Jeep and replaced it with an old flat tire.
A Franklin Ave. resident called police at 6:13 a.m. to say he was following a man who’d just slashed the tires on his vehicle in Belleville. Police responded and detained the accused vandal, Ryan Landrigan, 35, of Belleville, until Belleville Police arrived and placed Landrigan under arrest and impounded his car.

Dec. 8
Angelica Marin, 18, of Belleville, and a 17-year-old companion were charged with shoplifting from a Franklin Ave. business at 6:50 p.m. Police said the store manager had stopped Marin as she was leaving and Marin turned over some items she hadn’t paid for and left. But after getting information about her vehicle from the owner, police said they were able to find Marin and her companion. Both were freed pending court action.
At 1:21 p.m. police pulled over Merna Masoud, 19, of Avenel, after she allegedly failed to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk on Centre St. Masoud was arrested on a $750 warrant from Roselle and was given summonses for driving with a suspended license and for failure for yield to a pedestrian. She was released after posting bail.
A River Road resident reported that someone in New York had made repeated efforts to access her bank account to try and withdraw more than $3,000. Police said they are working with banking institutions to determine who is attempting the withdrawals.

Dec. 7
Police recovered a homemade knife from Nutley High School at 3:07 p.m. after school officials reportedly found the item on a hallway floor. Educators and police are trying to locate the person responsible for bringing it onto school property.
Police are investigating an apparent effort to defraud a Mountainview Ave. resident by someone who ordered a cellular phone through an Internet site and had it delivered to a Florida location.
Someone flattened a tire and broke a windshield of a 2000 Honda SUV registered to a River Road resident. The incident was reported at 12:50 p.m.
At 7:35 a.m., police went to High St. to deal with a dispute between a bus driver and rider over a fare issue. The passenger had presented a day-old receipt from a ride the day before which was interrupted when the bus broke down but the driver insisted on getting the fare now. After officers advised the passenger on how to follow up with the bus company, the passenger paid the fare.

Dec. 6
At 9:44 p.m. police went to check on the condition of a passenger slumped over his seat on a bus after the bus stopped on Washington Ave. and determined he was intoxicated and sleeping. Police notified a relative that the man was being transported to an area hospital for evaluation.
A River Road resident told police he noticed that a North Face fleece jacket was missing from his closet after he’d just received a mattress delivery and noticed that the garment had disappeared a short time later. The incident was reported at 7:01 p.m.
During the early evening, police questioned several people ringing doorbells on Raymond Ave. and soliciting for siding business and, after learning that they lacked permits for solicitations, advised them to stop.
Police are investigating an apparent case of fraud reported by a Cambridge Heights resident who told police that $26,000 had been withdrawn from the resident’s account through ATM machines in Montreal.
At 3:05 p.m. police responded to a 911 call from a school bus driver at Centre St. The driver was unable to calm a 10-year-old special needs child. After speaking to a parent of the child, police said they were able to allow the driver to proceed and take the child home.

Dec. 5
Police were called to a Park Ave. location at 2:33 p.m. where a neighbor claimed a man was allegedly kicking and punching his dog repeatedly. When officers arrived, the dog’s owner told them that he was scolding the black Labrador because it almost ran into the street. Police said the dog appeared healthy and unhurt.
Police are investigating the report of a Passaic Ave. resident that someone had run up more than $1,000 of fraudulent charges on a credit card.
Police responded to a report of two intoxicated people at Passaic Ave. and Centre St. at 12:20 a.m. While officers were questioning the pair, one of them leaned on the patrol car and broke off the side view mirror. Both were taken to their Nutley residence with charges pending.

Dec. 4
At 4:13 p.m. police went to Nutley High School where a 14-year-old wrestler had injured his neck. Police took the student to an area hospital for treatment.
Police pulled over a 2006 Volkswagen on Park Ave. at 2:12 a.m. with an expired motor vehicle registration and impounded the vehicle.
Police responded to Passaic and Hancox Aves. at 1:59 a.m. to investigate a noise complaint but, upon arrival, couldn’t locate anyone.

Dec. 3
Someone smashed the window of a resident’s car parked in a Washington Ave. parking lot. Police are investigating the incident, reported at 9:24 a.m.
Police pulled over a car driven by Jorge Galvan, 31, of Newark, on Washington Ave. at 2:52 a.m. after Galvan was observed weaving in traffic. Police said Galvan had slurred speech and was unable to answer the officers’ questions. Galvan was arrested and turned over to immigration authorities who are investigating his citizenship status.
Police stopped the driver of a 1999 Honda for erratic driving on Rt. 21 at 1:29 a.m. It was discovered that the driver was driving an unregistered vehicle that wasn’t inspected.

Top 10 reasons to ‘not’ plan for retirement

By Randy Neumann

Although you probably read or hear about some “Top Ten” list every other day, take a moment to read this one.  This list, which is very different from most, is probably not the kind of list you’d expect someone to write.
Reason #10: “I’m too busy.”  I can’t tell you how often I hear this excuse.  So many people want to plan for a comfortable retirement, yet they don’t make the effort to put the time aside.  They think they’ll take care of it tomorrow or the day after that, but before they know it several years have gone by
and nothing has been accomplished.  The best advice I can give you is to stop procrastinating and start planning today.  Many people spend more time planning their annual vacation than they do planning their retirement without realizing that retirement may be the longest vacation they’ll ever take!
Reason #9: “It’s too soon.”  I don’t know how this happened, but many people have adopted the notion that you don’t have to start planning for your retirement until the day before.  This is totally incorrect.  Truth told, the sooner you start planning, the better chance you stand of having the kind of retirement you want.  It’s never too soon.  Many people start planning in their early twenties!
Reason #8: “It’s too late.”  If you’re already near or past your retirement eligibility date, you may think that however much you have accumulated is what you’re stuck with and it’s too late to do anything about it.  Think again.  If you’re unsure of what your options are, speak to a professional.  Even if you’ve already retired, it’s important to consider how you’re receiving your income and how long it will last.  It’s never too late to revise your income distribution strategy.
Reason #7: “I don’t need to.”  I’ve heard this excuse many times and find it baffling.  Many people think that because they’ve been diligent about contributing to a savings account, they’re all set.  While saving for retirement is good, you also need a plan for income distribution once you begin retirement.  Are you certain that what you’re saving will be enough?  Have you considered your distribution plan?  What about taxes?  What about inflation?  And, are you sure your money is in the right place?  There may be other, better options for you; therefore, it may prove worthwhile to look into them.
Reason #6: “I don’t have enough money to get started.”  This excuse seems marginal at first glance, but there is some truth behind it.  You need to have money to save or invest.  However, unless your bills are exactly equal to or greater than your net income, you do have enough to get started.  Starting small is better than not starting at all, and if you plan well, you’ll eventually accumulate enough to work with.
Reason #5: “My finances are a mess.”  This is all the more reason to seek out an advisor who can help you sort through and understand your assets.  Perhaps you have a 401(k) from a former employer that has not been rolled over, a couple of savings accounts, a trust from a deceased relative, some stocks that your parents bought in your name when you were younger, etc. Although a situation like this can be confusing, leaving it as it is won’t improve your situation.
Reason #4: “The Government will take care of me.”  The bottom line is this: There’s a chance Social Security may not be available when you retire, and even presuming that it is, it probably will not be enough to provide your ideal retirement income.  If you are planning to retire on Social Security alone, I would advise you to create a back-up plan at the very least.
Reason #3: “Between my savings and my 401(k), I’ll be fine.”  Saving for retirement without an income distribution plan can be a mistake.  How will you use that money once you begin taking distributions?  While you may think that you’ll have everything you’re going to need to live comfortably, have you considered inflation?  Taxes?  Long-term care expense?  And furthermore, some people are living past 90.  Will your assets last that long?  What will happen if you outlive your income?  It’s a good idea to look ahead and plan lifelong income.
Reason #2: “I don’t want to think about it.”  Many people procrastinate simply because they find the thought of discussing financial matters (or growing old) to be troubling.  I can certainly understand that.  But consider this: If you bite the bullet now and put a firm plan in motion, you may not have to think about it again for quite some time.
Reason #1: “I don’t know how.”  If you knew everything there was to know about retirement planning, you’d probably be a financial advisor yourself.  While it is possible to do everything on your own, that generally involves a great deal of research and a huge time commitment.  If you’re putting off retirement planning because you don’t know how, consider speaking to a professional who does.

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 and securities and insurance offered through LPL Financial.  Member FINRA/SIPC.  He can be reached at 12 Route 17N, Suite 115, Paramus, 201-291-9000.

Lyndhurst Residents asked to vote on public referendum

By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent

LYNDHURST –

The Committee for Better Facilities (CBF), a group of parents and educators advocating for an upgrade in the township’s public schools infrastructure, figures it’s got all the right answers to why it should be done.

But one big question still hasn’t been answered: Will Lyndhurst voters agree?

A simple majority will decide when residents are asked to vote “yes” or “no” on a public referendum Dec. 13 on whether to permit the Board of Education to spend $28,847,091 on a wholesale district rehab plan and to sell Lincoln School, which dates from 1886.

Educators say the plan affords the best chance – short of building a new middle school – of fostering a desperately needed improved learning environment for all the students in the district which includes six elementary schools and a high school.

A worksheet put out by the CBF states that the cost of the improvements – minus $1.5 million in state grant local reimbursements and at least $3 million projected from the sale of Lincoln School – should net the owner of an “average” home assessed at $414,000 an annual tax increase of $199 for as long as it takes to pay off the debt. A 15-year bond is projected.

Assuming the referendum passes, that tax increase wouldn’t take effect until September 2014, when all the work is expected to be completed, said Schools Supt. Tracey Marinelli.

The CBF, in cooperation with Marinelli, is going all out to heighten awareness among members of the school community by hosting a series of tours and question-and-answer sessions at schools throughout the district.

At one such workshop held Nov. 29 at Lincoln School, Marinelli made her case to a group of about 15 supportive attendees (A previous function organized by the PTA drew more than 100).

Marinelli said the concept behind the planned improvements is to make education more efficient through centralization. To that end, Franklin School and Jefferson Annex would house all kindergarten students; Columbus and Washington Schools would take grades 1 to 4; and Roosevelt and Jefferson Schools would handle grades 5 to 8.

“We’d split the district in half, using Fern Ave. as the dividing line,” Marinelli said. Generally speaking, elementary-level children living south of Fern would start at Franklin then move to Washington and complete at Roosevelt, while youngsters living north of Fern would go from Jefferson Annex to Columbus to Jefferson Elementary, she explained. Hardship applications for exceptions to the rule would be considered, she said.

With that scenario as a given, the following improvements, as funded by the referendum, would be undertaken:

Throughout the district, $3.8 million in state grants would fund a variety of infrastructure renovations, including new or upgraded boilers, roofs, windows, ventilation and electrical systems and centrally-controlled heating in classrooms.

Every elementary school would get an elevator, computer lab, media center, music room, a combination art/world languages room and the ability to house three or more sections of special needs students.

Columbus and Roosevelt would each get a combination gym/lunchroom (Roosevelt’s gym would include space for a locker room and stage because its students are older).

Jefferson and Roosevelt would each be equipped with three science labs.

Having self-contained classrooms in each school would end the practice of music, art, Spanish and physical education teachers having to travel to different schools and it would also mean students wouldn’t have to “steal” time from science or math class, for example, to take instrumental music class, Marinelli said.

Also: Lyndhurst High School would get a renovated auditorium, cafeteria and air-conditioning.

Whether or not the referendum passes, Marinelli said that redistricting will go forward in an effort to remediate unbalanced enrollment in schools.

If the referendum fails, Lyndhurst schools will lose the $3.8 million in state grant funding earmarked for the infrastructure improvements throughout the district. And the district will be unable to sell Lincoln School.

In a plea to voters, the CBF states: “All kindergarten classes are currently at maximum capacity…. Children are currently learning in space that was designed for locker rooms, storage closets and offices. Bathrooms are decrepit, auditoriums are non-existent and gyms double as cafeterias. In some classes, students are forced to have primary instruction, lunch, art, music and Spanish in the same physical location. None of our schools provide our children immediate and unlimited access to technology either in the form of a computer lab or just classroom computers. It’s time for a change!”

Nutley celebrates annual holiday tradition

Photos By Jeff Bahr

By Jeff Bahr

On Sunday December 4, Nutley’s biggest holiday extravaganza – the annual Tree and Menorah Lighting –went off without a hitch.
An enormous number of people ranging in age from very young to “don’t you dare
ask!” turned out for the joyous event at the Walker Middle School on Franklin Ave. There, the holiday revelers enjoyed unseasonably mild temperatures which allowed them to frolic rather than shiver near the soon-to-be-lit tree.
The festivities began promptly at 5:00 p.m. with indoor recitals by the Elementary
School Choir, The Walker Middle School Madrigal Singers, and the High School Choralettes. Then, the Walker Middle School Jazz Band took over and got the joint a jumpin’ with a swinging rendition of “Jingle Bells.” Finally, the Nutley High School Brass Ensemble tempered the mood a bit with a more subdued but equally enjoyable version of “Silent Night.”
A bake sale with proceeds to benefit the Friends of Nutley Singers and the Nutley
Music Boosters was held in the school’s cafeteria, and for those short of coin, free
coffee and donuts were also available. Across the way, Old Saint Nick sat majestically
on his throne awaiting visits from dozens of happy children, as one extraordinarily
patient photographer did his level best to make them all smile for the birdie.
But the fun wasn’t limited to the school’s interior. Outside, two horse-drawn Christmas carriages made continuous loops around the football stadium, with a dozen or so happy travelers inside of each wagon.
This looked to be the event’s most popular free attraction given the fact that at least 300 individuals (yes, I counted) stood in line alongside Franklin Ave. awaiting their turn. A multi-car, mini-train also took people for rides.
A petting zoo, featuring sheep, goats, a bunny rabbit, even a llama, was situated
beside a roped-off area where children were treated to pony rides. Just to its side volunteers roasted chestnuts on open fires (what else?) and distributed them free of charge, while street vendors plied their trade selling fun, if fattening, staples like soft pretzels and popcorn.
As the scheduled 7 p.m. switch-flipping moment approached, the audience was treated to a final performance by the Brass Ensemble, who had now moved outdoors.

Then it was 10, 9, 8 … all the way down to the big moment. As the tree and Menorah lights jumped to life, the appreciative crowd let loose with thunderous applause and another successful Christmas ceremony was in the books.

S. Kearny industrial site primed for redevelopment

 

Photos courtesy of Hudson County Improvement Authority/ Different views of the old Kopper’s Seaboard Coke site in south Kearny which the Hudson County Improvement Authority is trying to market.

 

By Ron Leir

A long-neglected industrial parcel in South Kearny is getting some renewed attention.
The former Koppers Seaboard Coke property at Fish House Rd., which ended operations in 1979, is again being targeted for redevelopment by the Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA), which is reviewing a number of proposals for the site.
Acting on behalf of Hudson County, the HCIA acquired the 130-acre property, bounded to the north and east by the Hackensack River and by a drainage ditch to the west, in the 1980’s with the intention of building an incinerator there to handle municipal wastes. The county invested more than $60 million in cleaning and prepping the site, but was stymied when the state frowned on burning trash.
Now the county, stuck with a big debt, is looking for ways of turning the land into a profit-making venture. New Jersey Transit was considering purchasing the land to build a rail storage yard or tunnel for the Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) – a proposed commuter rail link to Manhattan to run under the Hudson River – but that plan died when Gov. Chris Christie killed New Jersey’s participation in the ARC
project a year ago.
Earlier this year, acting on a directive from the county Board of Freeholders the HCIA solicited proposals for use of the property.

Photo courtesy of Hudson County Improvement Authority/ Another perspective of the 130-acre Kopper’s site.

 

 

HCIA Executive Director Norman Guerra said that three companies came up with plans for refrigerated warehouse distribution centers. They are: Morris Company of Rutherford, Rockefeller Group of Mount Olive, and Silverman Development of Jersey City.
Sundurance LLC of Edison and Garden State Solar Farms of Linden offered to develop
solar farms.
Clean Earth of Hatboro, Pa., proposed a soil processing facility.
And four firms – WSI Management of Plant City, Fla.; Waste Management of Houston, Texas; Port Echo Holdings of Hammonton; and NRG Energy of Princeton – pitched “resource recovery-related” projects.
However, Guerra said that the latter four proposals are being separated from the others for now for further exploration of “resource recovery technologies that are environmentally sound” that the HCIA may look to tap in the future.
Guerra said there’s a possibility that the authority might look to set aside 20 acres
of the Koppers tract to be dedicated to some type of resource recovery operation. “It
could be an anchor to provide energy to other users on the site,’’ he said.
Guerra said that the state has indicated it “will work with us” on that process.
But before any of that can happen, Guerra said the HCIA would have to issue Requests
for Qualifications from potential applicants, followed by Requests for Proposals, all of
which would be reviewed by county officials.
One thing, at any rate, is clear. “We are not looking for any form of incineration such
as waste to energy plans,” Guerra said.
Hudson County currently sends its municipal garbage and Type 10 commercial wastes to a privately-operated facility in Essex County where it is processed and baled and shipped by rail to West Virginia for disposal.
The county pays $70.50 per ton for the service. The county pays about $26 million for
the processing and disposal of 370 tons of trash annually.

Gear still shaky but out on the streets

Photo by Ron Leir/ Det. Gary Souss checks out a new computer installed in one of seven new Belleville Police patrol cars.

 By Ron Leir

BELLEVILLE – At last, they’re on the road.
The township’s seven new police patrol cars are rolling but their path from the shop to the police garage to the asphalt hit a few detours on the way.
It’s not so much the vehicles themselves but the equipment they’re carrying.
Police Chief Joseph P. Rotonda said the seven Crown Victorias – acquired under
a 3-year lease for $77,441 per year as replacements for 2008 models, some with more than 100,000 miles logged – were put into service the week of Nov. 20.
But, Rotonda noted, “we’re still having some issues with some of the new digital cameras and computers – the electric system.” Township IT personnel are checking with Verizon and other companies involved in the instrumentation trying to remedy the problem, he said.
“It’s like any new equipment,” the chief said. “You’ve got to work out the kinks.”
Those “kinks” began showing up when vendors began outfitting the new cars with
the telecommunications gear, according to Police Capt. Victor Mesce of the department’s Special Services unit and Det. Gary Souss of the Administration and
Planning unit.
The township authorized purchase of the vehicles in 2010 and followed up with a bond
ordinance in June 2011 authorizing spending $163,000 for the acquisition and installation of cameras, computers and radios for the Police Department and labor, $41,000 for the acquisition and installation of computer software upgrades and other
security cameras, $12,000 for the acquisition and installation of two computer servers for the Police Department and $84,000 for sport utility vehicles for the department.
After the bond passed and the equipment was ordered, police had to wait three months just to get the new radios from Motorola because the vendor had to tailor them to the department’s specifications, Det. Souss said.
Then, once the vendors began to install the electronic gear in the new cars, the electrical problems began, he said. L-3 Mobile Vision hooked up the computers and cameras to the cars’ center consoles and placed the computer software trays in the cars’ trunks while Royal Communications, a Motorola distributor, installed the radios.
Somewhere in the mix, batteries were shorted out, triggering the disruption, Sous said.
The new cameras are designed to activate automatically if the car is exceeding a certain speed and/or if the officers inside pull out a rifle or shotgun from the car’s gunrack. The video of an incident tracked by the camera can end up being valuable evidence for a future court case, Capt. Mesce noted.
Because of the way the new cars were built, it was decided to relocate the police radio
speaker because, otherwise, when an officer entered the car, he might inadvertently kick and/or dislodge it from the more cramped floorboard, Mesce and Souss explained.
Another delay came about, they said, when it was discovered that the new cars were
also too narrow to accommodate the wire mesh “cages” designed to confine prisoners
in the rear seats so the department couldn’t simply transfer the cages from the old cars to the new. So new cages had to be acquired.
And, of course, the department had to “detail” the cars, painting on official police lettering and striping on the vehicles’ exteriors, all of which took time.
The department decided to add a new touch on the new cars: the phone number for the public to call for police assistance. It is 973-450-3333.
Putting out that additional information was considered a key reminder for the public “to keep (the emergency) 911 open for real emergencies. It could save someone’s life by not tieing up the 911 operator,” Capt. Mesce said.
When all the moving parts were more or less accounted for, the department then rotated its members for training in the new cars and that took about two weeks to accomplish.
Now the department is hoping it can squeeze at least three years of useful activity from the new vehicles – the normal life expectancy for a patrol car – which, Mesce notes, is a tough road to go down since every police vehicle is operating 24/7 with virtually no “down” time and is operated, typically, by seven or eight different drivers, each with different driving habits.