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Category: News

Fixing the road that takes a pounding

Courtesy of kearnyusa.com/ Gathered at Jacobus Ave., from l., are: Alan M. Lambiase (River Terminal Development Co.), L. Ceren Aralp (Hatch Mott MacDonald/KMUA Engineer), Councilwoman Carol Jean Doyle, John J. Scheri (Hatch Mott MacDonald/KMUA Engineer), Mayor Alberto G. Santos, Michael F. Berliner (Neglia Engineering/ Town of Kearny), Gregg F. Paster (Kearny UEZ and KMUA legal counsel) and Jason Menzella (Neglia Engineering/Town of Kearny).

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Many Kearny residents might be unable to answer the question, “Where is Jacobus Ave.?” For the record, Jacobus Ave. is a South Kearny road, heavily used by trucking companies. On Dec. 15, the town of Kearny announced the completion of an improvement project that repaired the sewers, replaced waterlines, and fixed the roadway.
“There are numerous businesses that are warehouse and transportation related, and for businesses that warehouse and deliver goods the roadways are critical,” said Kearny Mayor Alberto G. Santos.
“It’s an area that’s heavily traveled by trucks and the road was like a battlefield,” explained UEZ coordinator John Peneda. “It was really bad and we wanted to do it right.”
The nearly $4.5 million project was funded by the Kearny Urban Enterprise Zone (KUEZ) and the Kearny Municipal Utilities Authority (KMUA) –  a move that spared the town any related tax increases.
“Tax dollars are scarce, so we were able to leverage UEZ funds,” Santos explained. “Anytime someone purchased an item in Kearny, the (3.5%) sales tax went to programs like this. We invest our UEZ funds in town, achieving the goals of the state UEZ.”
The project, which comprised the separation of sewers, replacement of water lines, drainage improvements, roadway reconstruction, and curb installation, was completed on Nov. 29.
Next for improvement is N. Hackensack Ave., another road in South Kearny that stretches from U.S. Rt. 1 Truck Route north Stern Ave.
“That is a very critical road for trucking-related businesses and the chemical plant,” Santos explained.
The money for that project will come from a mixture of grants and 0% loans using the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure trust fund that helps with roadway and storm sewer projects.
That project will start as soon as this spring. With the two projects, Peneda believes that businesses will stay in South Kearny as well as attract new ones.
“It’s good for the businesses, the residents, and for recruiting businesses,” Peneda explained. “It’s not a redevelopment zone, but we’re trying to draw business down there.”

Harrison Police Blotter

Dec. 28
Four vehicles parked in a private parking lot were burglarized.  Among the items stolen were loose change, a watch and a portable GPS unit.
A vehicle parked on Bergen St. beneath Route 280 was broken into.  Nothing was assumed stolen at that time.

Dec. 27
A vehicle parked on Bergen St. beneath Rt. 280 was broken into.  A portable GPS unit was stolen from the vehicle.
The window of a 1995 Nissan Maxima was broken while it was parked in the municipal parking lot on Washington St.

Dec. 26
At 1:06 a.m. police observed Fabian Guaraca-Mendez, 32, of Newark, operating his motor vehicle without its headlights on while he was talking on a cell phone at Harrison Ave. and Second St.  A motor vehicle stop resulted in Guaraca-Mendez being arrested for DWI.  Guaraca-Mendez also carried an outstanding warrant from Seaside Heights for which he was released upon his own recognizance.
Emilio Cantarero, 51, of Harrison, was arrested for shoplifting a can of Spam from a Harrison Ave. business.  He was released on a summons.
A 1995 Honda Civic was broken into while it was parked on Passaic Ave. beneath Rt. 280.  The vehicle’s radio was stolen from within.

Dec. 23
Upon responding to a parking complaint, police found Adrian Pinzon, 32, of Harrison, asleep in his vehicle while it was running.  Investigation revealed Pinzon to be intoxicated and he was arrested for DWI.
Frank Rodgers Blvd. North was burglarized when thieves smashed the front window and removed the cash register from within.

Dec. 22
A baseboard heating system and copper piping were stolen from a home being constructed on Sixth St.
Manuel Achompongo, 44-years-old and homeless, was arrested for disorderly conduct within Holy Cross Church.  Achompongo was released on a summons.
A small quantity of a substance suspected to be marijuana was found on the property of the Harrison Gardens and turned over to HPD by the Housing Authority staff.
Three vehicles parked on Bergen St. beneath Rt. 280 were broken into.  Portable GPS units were stolen from two of the vehicles.

Around Town

Bloomfield
Bloomfield Public Library announces the following schedule for its Monday Afternoon at the Movies: Jan. 9 – “Lured” – (NR) (Lucille Ball); Jan. 16 – Library closed in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday; Jan. 23 – “The Conspirator” (PG-13) (Robert Redford); Jan. 30 – “Pirates of the Caribbean: Stranger Tides” (PG-13) (Johnny Depp).
The following schedule is for the library’s Thursday Afternoon at the Movies program: Jan. 5 – “Meet the Parents” (PG-13) (Ben Stiller); Jan. 12 – “The Lincoln Lawyer” (R) (Matthew McConnaughey); Jan. 19 – “Dial M for Murder” (NR) (Ray Milland) and Jan. 26 – “Jane Eyre” (PG-13) (Mia Wasikowska).
All movies begin at 12:15 p.m. Admission is free and all are welcome.
The library will present “Loans 101: Owning Your Own Home” on Jan. 11 at 2 p.m.
The program will be presented by Melissa Jaipal, branch manager at Sovereign Bank, in Bloomfield.  She has been with bank for five months, and has over six years experience in banking.
For more information on this event or upcoming programs please call (973) 566-6200, ext. 502.
The library will present “Basics of Banking” on Jan. 18 at 2 p.m. The program will be presented by Melissa Jaipal
For more information on this event or upcoming programs please call (973) 566-6200, ext. 502.

Harrison
Starting Wednesday, Jan. 4, the Centro Romeu Cascaes Portuguese American Community Center, 308 William St., in Harrison, will resume regular Zumba classes on Mondays and Thursdays and Zumba Toning class on Wednesdays.  The one-hour class starts at 7:30 p.m.  For more info or to register, please call Maria Marieiro at 973-482-0631 or 201-401-0826 or email harrisonzumba@yahoo.com.

Kearny
The Kearny Public Library will host a children’s book signing by local author Anna Prokos at the Branch Library, 759 Kearny Ave., Kearny, on Saturday, Jan. 7, at 11 a.m.  Prokos’s book, “The Lucky Cake,” was inspired by the Greek tradition of baking a cake with a coin inside for the beginning of the New Year.  The person who finds the coin is said to have a lucky year.
Attendees at this special, free event will get the chance to taste a piece of Vasilopita, the traditional Greek cake, and search for the lucky 2012 coin themselves.  Other activities will include a reading of “The Lucky Cake” by its author, coloring, crafts and even an opportunity to take your picture with Billy, the main character of the story.  Copies of the book will be on hand for sale and signing.  Call the Main Library at 201-998-2666 or check the library’s website <www.kearnylibrary.org> for more program information.
Cecilian Seniors announces a trip to Resorts Casino in Atlantic City on Jan. 11. The bus will leave at 9:30 a.m. in front of St. Cecilia’s Church. If interested, call Johnnie B. at 201-997-9552, after 6 to 9 p.m.
Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos will be the guest speaker at the regular meeting the Evening Membership Department of the Woman’s Club of Arlington on Jan. 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the Henrietta Benstead Center, 60 Columbia Ave., Kearny.  The board meeting will immediately precede the regular meeting at 6:15 p.m.
Kearny UNICO has changed its meeting date to the second Thursday of the month.  The January membership meeting will be held on Thursday, Jan. 12, at 7:30 p.m.  Anyone interested in attending the meeting and/or learning more about Kearny UNICO should contact Chapter President Lou Pandolfi at 201-368-2409.  New members are welcome.

Lyndhurst
The Celiac Support Group will hold its next meeting on Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Lyndhurst Health Department.  Please call 201-804-2500 for more information.

North Arlington
Queen of Peace Knights of Columbus, North Arlington, will celebrate D.J. Teen Angel’s farewell performance. If you’re familiar with Teen Angel, you know you’re in for a night to remember while rocking to your favorite oldies. The event will be held on Saturday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m., at the Council Hall, 194 River Road, North Arlington. Tickets are $35, which includes a catered buffet, beer, wine and soda. For tickets, call Nick at 201-230-3428 or email nicholascerchio@yahoo.com.
A blood pressure/health risk assessment is held on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at the North Arlington Health Department, 10 Beaver Ave., from 1 to 2:45 p.m. No appointment necessary.
A child health conference, free immunization and Well Baby Care, for infants and pre-school children, are available at the Health Department by appointment on Thursday, Jan. 19. Required school-aged immunizations are available for those without health insurance coverage.
The flu vaccine is still available at the Health Department. The vaccine is offered free of charge for those covered by traditional Medicare Part B.  Medicare card must be presented at the time of immunization.  There will be a $20 fee for those not covered by Medicare.  By appointment only, call 201-955-5695.
The Health Department is encouraging residents with impairments or disabilities to register with the New Jersey Special Needs Registry for Disasters.  This free program is designed to help emergency responders identify and assist individuals who may find it difficult to help themselves in the event of an emergency.
You may register online with the state at www.registerready.nj.gov and with the Borough of North Arlington by calling the Health Department at 201-955-5695.  All information will be kept confidential.
For more information and appointments, please call the Health Department at 201-955-5695.

Nutley
Films are shown every Friday at 2 p.m. at Nutley Public Library. Please check the monthly calendar, flyer or Facebook for the titles of the films.
The library’s Manga and Anime Club will meet on Monday, Jan. 9 and Jan. 23, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. The group will watch anime, read Manga and advise the library on its Manga collection.

Stretch – because it’s good for you

 

Most of us are aware that stretching plays a vital role in our exercise regimen, but
how many of us actually practice what we preach?
How many of us actually do it at all?
Think about the last time you exercised, did you take the time to loosen your muscles
up before you ran those two miles or kicked a soccer ball around? Or did you
simply jump right into the activity? If you did, you were putting yourself at risk for a
serious injury.Stretching, in its most basic form, activates the muscles. The first thing
many people do when they wake up, outside of hitting the snooze button, is stretch.
It essentially serves as the alarm clock, telling your muscles to wake up.
Why should you take five minutes to warm up your muscles before any physical
activity? Because, when muscles are rarely used, the flow of blood is reduced.
Therefore putting stress on them without stretching properly is like trying to drive a car without motor oil.
Stretching pumps fresh oxygen-enriched-blood into your muscles, increasing the
blood flow and improving circulation. It also lowers blood pressure and improves
artery function.
Whether or not you are performing a physical activity, there are a number of
benefits to be derived from taking a few minutes to stretch each day. The older
you get, the more the range of motion in your joints become limited. Stretching not
only lubricates the muscle, but also lengthens it, thus increasing your flexibility.
A number of people come into my office complaining of back pain. In addition
to chiropractic care, our physical therapists provide a comprehensive stretching
program to all of our patients. It is an essential part of their recovery, because
back pain is generally caused by stiff muscles that are in turn caused by –you
guessed it –lack of stretching.
The biggest benefit of stretching is that anyone can do it. It comes naturally to
all of us. It’s the first thing we do when we wake up, and it feels good. Your body
will thank you for it because if you stretch regularly, the healthier you’ll be. It isn’t
time consuming and you can do it pretty much anywhere.
So go ahead, try it out. The positive results will last a lifetime.

Dr. Diege Ruiz

A graduate of Life University’s School of Chiropractic, Dr. Ruiz is the founder and
rehabilitation director of Options Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Center. An
active member of the local community, Dr. Ruiz is fluent in Spanish, and, with his wife
Rosalie, founded AUTISM ANGELS, which is a charity that supports economically challenged parents of children affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder. He is certified in Manipulation Under Anesthesia, Diagnostic Nerve Conduction Testing, and Active Release Technique. Dr. Ruiz is also a contributing health columnist for various publications.

 

A New Year’s wish list of employee retirement plans

 

By Randy Neumann

Here we are at the beginning of the New Year, a time when wishes are often granted.  What follows is a wish list of employer-sponsored retirement plans.  If you are an employer, you may want to give an appropriate gift to your employees.  If you are an employee, you may want to talk to your boss about one of the following employer-sponsored retirement plans. We’ll begin with the smallest plan and move up to the largest.
The SIMPLE plan – a loose fitting acronym for the Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees of Small Employers – is a recent creation that is based on the Individual Retirement Account (IRA).  The requirements for the employer are minimal.  To be eligible for a SIMPLE, the company must have 100 or fewer employees, and not have another retirement plan in place.
A SIMPLE plan is easy to create; it has very low administrative costs and no annual IRS reporting requirements (for which there is a fee).  Traditional IRA’s are set up for each eligible employee who can contribute to the IRA on a tax-deferred basis via payroll deductions.  Employers can either fully match the contributions of plan participants up to 3% of a participant’s annual compensation or… contribute a 2% fixed percentage of all eligible employees’ pay.  The maximum employee contribution to a SIMPLE is $11,500 and, if you are over age 50, you can make a catch-up contribution of $2,500.
The next plan to discuss is a SEP–Simplified Employee Pension plan.  This plan allows you to put a lot more money away than you can with a SIMPLE.  You can have a SEP along with another type of retirement plan at your business simultaneously.  A SEP allows business owners and employees annual tax-deductible contributions equal to 25% of compensation (if you have a corporation) or 20% of self-employment income (for a sole proprietor).
Now, percentages are one thing, dollars are quite another.  You can sock away the above percentages into a SEP to a dollar maximum of $49,000.
Next comes the solo 401(k).  Yes, you can have a 401(k) when you are self-employed.  A business owner may establish one and include their spouse in the plan, provided the spouse is an employee of the business, and there are no other employees.
A solo 401(k) throws in a profit-sharing twist on the standard 401(k).  Solo 401(ks may be funded by the employee (deferred compensation) and the business (a percentage of profit).  As an employee of your business, you can contribute an amount up to the standard yearly 401(k) contribution limit plus catch-up contributions if you are 50 or older.  Additionally, solo 401(k) plans allow you to make tax-deductible profit-sharing contributions equal to 25% of your compensation (corporate entity) or 20% of self-employment income (sole proprietor).  Again, you are subject to the $49,000 annual max.  It is even possible to have a solo Roth 401(k).  These plans require a TPA (third-party administrator).
Profit-sharing plans.  Here’s one way to compete with larger companies for prime employees.  Contributions are usually deductible at both the federal and state level, with contribution limits equivalent to a SEP.  However, contributions aren’t mandatory as they are for most other plans.  If your business has a bad year, you don’t have to make any contributions.  The assets placed within the plan grow tax-deferred.  Again, annual tax-deductible contributions may be made according to the 25/20% rule depending on your business entity and will have the $49,000 max.
The newest kid on the street is the “new comparability plan.”  This is a hybrid plan that skews the benefits of the plan to senior or key employees more than others.  The classic situation for this plan is when you have a small business whose multiple owners take home similar earnings, but are of different ages.  The plan must be tested annually to meet Internal Revenue Code nondiscrimination requirements.  It allows different levels of compensation to different groups within a small business.
Which plan is right for you?  It depends.  There is a lot of variability available in qualified retirement plans, so you don’t have to buy one “off the rack”; instead you can have one custom made.  And, like a suit, down the road you can have it let out or taken in when necessary.

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.

Top news stories reported in 2011

 

Some of the white stuff that pommelled the area this past winter.

 

Compiled by Jeff Bahr &
Anthony Machcinski

January
New Year’s 2011 literally came in with a bang in the town of Kearny when shots were fired at a New Year’s Eve party on Patterson St. A 19-year-old Newark man, unhappy that he wasn’t permitted access to the party, lost his temper and fired a handgun at a 25-year-old Harrison resident. Fortunately, the man survived. The shooter was later arrested and charged with attempted homicide and a slew of other serious charges.
Another episode of violence followed with the discovery of a dead body found in Belleville in a condo parking lot. The victim had been beaten and shot and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Harrison also saw its share of gun violence. A Quick-Chek convenience store clerk received the shock of her life when two men demanded “money, money, money” and proceeded to fire a shot into the floor for emphasis. After temporarily holding a customer as hostage, the two made off with approximately $700, the total contents of the cash drawer.
A 26-year-old North Arlington man with a penchant for viewing child pornography got his just desserts to the tune of 10 years in the federal pokey after he pleaded guilty to distribution of child pornography.
A revamped 911 system gave Hudson County residents a quicker and more reliable link to emergency services.
Kearny earned an inauspicious “honor” when Michael Trueba, 75, vice-president of the International Longshoreman’s Union and one of the town’s most prominent citizens, was indicted as part of a massive Mafia roundup. How large was it?  According to Attorney General Eric Holder, it was one of the biggest Mafia roundups in the agency’s history. No less than 120 alleged “wise guys” were indicted on charges ranging from illegal gambling and drug trafficking all the way up to murder. Trueba was charged with extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion.

February
Snow, snow and more snow continued to cover The Observer’s “coverage” area, a messy fact that saw town maintenance workers scurrying to find places to deposit nature’s frozen bounty. Somehow, they prevailed.
The month saw something other than snow fall when a new middle-school proposal was knocked down by Lyndhurst voters. Said Mayor Richard DiLascio of the failed proposal: “These parents who voted against it (the proposal), their actions didn’t help the children.” Ouch!
Bedbugs continued to bite but perhaps none was bitten harder than TVP Pest Control of Newark which was fined $860,000 by the DEP for misusing hazardous chemicals in its fight against the nasty little critters. Some 50 houses and apartments, including several in Kearny and Harrison, were tainted with dangerously inappropriate chemicals including Malathion and Carbaryl.
Two little “buggers” of the drug-dealing variety were nabbed in a sizable Nutley drug bust.  Heroin, marijuana, hashish and assorted drug paraphernalia were found at a Nutley residence when police executed a search warrant of the premises.
Three uninvited “stooges” were apprehended shortly after they crashed a Kearny birthday party and allegedly assaulted the guest of honor and his girlfriend. The three culprits (aged 16, 19 and 20) were charged with various offenses.

March
A suspect came up smelling nothing like roses after he was arrested for stuffing $180 worth of deodorants in his pants at a Kearny Rite-Aid. But the heist wasn’t the only thing that registered as foul. Eric Warren of Newark attempted to resist arrest when officers approached him.  The arrest was the 75th in a protracted criminal career. For his prolific law-breaking run, Warren received 15 years in the can. That’s “can” as in jail – not deodorant.
Speaking of foul, the Rev. James J. Reilly of Kearny’s Our Lady of Sorrows Church was arrested on Feb. 15 for allegedly lightening the church’s coffers by some $75,000 dollars.  Talk about fallen angels.

 

The Rev. James Reilly pleaded guilty to taking money from a Kearny church.

Other misadventures in the land of miscreants included a foiled burglary, compliments of capable Sgt. John Becker of the Kearny Police Department.  The one-man crime-buster singlehandedly subdued and handcuffed two alleged culprits who were holding two people at gunpoint. Well played, sir.
Proving that the town of Harrison is no slouch in reeling in the bad guys, the Harrison Police Dept. nabbed three suspects, all from New York, with $34,000 in stolen money from a Rennsselaer, N.Y. nightclub.
Kearny resident Fernanda Lois received a well-earned certificate of achievement from the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission for her environmental efforts focusing on the Passaic River. As a rower with the Kearny High School’s crew team, Lois saw firsthand the negative effects that litter and debris were having on the river. She took action by organizing a team of some 90 volunteers who removed over 20 yards of debris from the river. “I applaud Ms. Lois on her extraordinary efforts in not only helping to provide a cleaner environment, but also for setting an example for other local students to follow,” said the Commission’s Executive Director Wayne J. Forrest.

April
Tragically proving the cautionary statement  “speed kills,” three West Hudson people lost their lives on April 2 when their car impacted a steel pole on Rt. 22 in Hillside. Lost were Danilo Xavier, 23, and Robson Pinheiro, 21, of Kearny, and Luis Dossantos, 22, of East Newark.
Kearny formally announced their choices for the town’s Finest and Bravest of the year. Police Officer of the Year honors went to Neil Nelson, while William Crockett Jr. became Firefighter of the Year.
A federal grant for $285,000 helped offset the purchase of a $550,000 dollar pumper truck sorely needed by the North Arlington Fire Dept. The old truck, a 1984 model, had fallen short of meeting upgraded safety regulations.
“There are two sure things in life,” a popular saying tells us. “Death and taxes.” There’s also criminal charges for those who cheat on paying taxes as Bloomfield resident, Rigot Joseph, rather harshly found out. As sole owner of RJM Professional Tax Services in East Orange, Rigot was named in a 12-count indictment for knowingly aiding and assisting in the preparation and presentation of false tax returns.
It was announced that the Wittpenn Bridge, a hazardous depression-era span that crosses the Hackensack River linking Kearny with Jersey City, would be replaced. A waterfront walkway beside the new span was also mentioned.
Taking the “charity starts at home” idea to deceptive levels, Michael Arpaio learned that honesty is the best policy. The Belleville man was indicted by a federal grand jury in Newark for allegedly extorting a nonprofit company that collects used clothing from bins located in Bloomfield, Kearny, Belleville and other towns.

May
Teenagers and pranks are nearly synonymous but such “fun” acts can sometimes carry hefty consequences. Mark Burke, 18, of Kearny, was joyfully riding on the trunk of his friend’s Nissan.  When the brakes were applied Burke lost his grip.  In an instant, the young man’s life was snuffed out and his friend’s existence was forever changed.
Three suspects who had just taken part in a brazen home invasion in North Arlington received their comeuppance when their getaway car became wedged between a FedEx truck and a Jeep on Wilson Ave. in Kearny. Police quickly arrested the trio, and the three-man crime wave was vanquished.
William Ruff, a young actor from Harrison High School, flexed his thespian muscles forcefully enough to win the Governor’s Award for excellence in acting.
Proving when luck is with you, skill isn’t always necessary, a Kearny teenager lost control of his car as he was reaching for something in the glove compartment. After striking a curb, the car crashed into  a utility pole causing it to flip over. Perhaps no one was more surprised that the teen himself who managed to climb out of the vehicle completely unscathed.

June
In a bizarre bid for laughs, 53-year-old Sonia Horvaht of East Newark may have thought, “Why should youthful stupidity be wasted on the young?” seconds before she decided to steal a Kearny Police SUV and take it for a joy ride. Continuing her pursuit of high times, Horvaht unintentionally played “bumper cars” in a series of high-speed accidents, the last of which was serious enough to trap her inside the vehicle. After firemen extricated the fun-loving woman, police charged her with numerous crimes.  “All who play eventually pay ” is her lesson learned.
Kearny police officers did their part in carrying the torch during the 28th Annual Torch Run for Special Olympics New Jersey.
The three following West Hudson senior citizens were honored for their civic contributions: Joseph A. Cundari of Harrison, Hugh Dalzell of Kearny, and Carmen Britez of East Newark.

 

Hurricane Irene caused flooding throughout the region.

 

July
A Kearny woman pleaded guilty in Federal Court to wire fraud, money laundering, and impersonating a government official. Rosa Blake, 55,  “orchestrated a scheme to defraud dozens of immigrants out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by pretending she could help them become U.S. Citizens.”
Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos and the Town Council adopted stricter requirements for dealers of second-hand precious metals and jewelry to enhance the ability of law enforcement to identify stolen jewelry in a timely matter.
The Harrison Fire Department revised its “Table of Organization” by reducing the number of battalion chiefs from four to none and cutting the captains from 13 to five.
The Kearny Generals Cheerleading Squad took the division title at the Eastern Cheer Association National Championships in Virginia.
A 54-year-old East Orange man was fatally shot in his car in Belleville.

August
The Harrison Courts held a Legends game as part of the Major League Soccer All-Star game festivities. It was the first time that Tab Ramos, John Harkes, and Tony Meola, who helped give Kearny the moniker of “Soccertown, USA” were together at a soccer event in ages.
Harrison Fire Chief Tom Dolaghan retired after more than three decades of service with the Harrison Fire Department.
A Newark woman who does her shopping in Nutley was arrested after she left her children, including two babies, locked in a van at the ShopRite parking lot.
Several towns across the area held their National Night Out Against Crime.
The Observer started its annual Kentucky Care project, benefitting hundreds of families in the Appalachia region of Kentucky.
A 23-year-old Harrison man was accused of murdering his parents and 3-year-old niece in what was considered one of the most gruesome crime scenes of the year. Carlos P. Campos, a 2006 Harrison High School graduate turned himself into police shortly after the murders.
A man who held up the TD Bank in Lyndhurst escaped with an undisclosed amount of cash. The man entered the bank at about 9:50 a.m. on Aug. 15 and removed money from the cash drawers at several tellers’ stations.
Hurricane Irene slammed into the area, leaving thousands without power and leaving behind extensive damage. One person died in the aftermath in Kearny and several cars became stranded while trying to negotiate flooded roads. Extensive damage included downed trees and power lines, and flood damage to several homes and businesses.

September
September 11, 2011 marked the 10-year anniversary of the tragedy of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Many events around town were held to remember the victims of one of the most devastating attacks to ever take place on American soil. We will never forget.
Kearny Police talked a jumper off the railroad trestle at Passaic and Johnston Aves. The 44-year-old man was cooperative and was taken Clara Maas Medical Center for evaluation.
Nutley Police officer Matthew Canova saved a young woman trapped in a car after she got stuck in floodwaters resulting from Hurricane Lee at Rutgers Pl. and Passaic Ave. After she put the car in neutral, Canova pushed the car and its occupant to safety.
Soccer madness triggered three stabbings outside the Red Bull Arena after a game between Columbia and Honduras.
Kearny held its second annual Townwide Yard Sale with great success.

Volunteers load truck with supplies bound for Appalachia as part of The Observer’s Kentucky Care project.

 

October
George Pena, 21,  jumped into the Passaic River early October 1 after he was found shirtless in southbound traffic on Passaic Ave. Kearny Police attempted to help Pena, who appeared to be drunk, when Pena ran toward the river near the railroad trestle and disappeared. After a massive search by several townships, Pena’s body was found in the waters behind Pathmark on Passaic Ave.
Kearny resident Cheryl Olcheski was given the Betty Flood Award of Excellence award from PSE&G. Olcheski is a volunteer with the American Red Cross of Northern New Jersey whose job involves helping the victims of all types of natural disasters.
Tragedy occurred in Mountain Lakes after Kearny resident Leonardo Parera walked into his Mountain Lakes office and fatally shot office manager Christine Capone King. Parera called police, saying, “I just killed someone” and warned the dispatcher that he was heavily armed and that the situation could “escalate.” When officers arrived, he began shooting and police returned fire, killing Parera. Parera’s motives for the murder are unknown, but it may well have been a case of “suicide by cop.”
The Lyndhurst Board of Education changed its Math curriculum for primary students, focusing on a problem solving and model drawing. The program is directly aligned to the state common core standards and offers a good blend of both hands-on and ‘skill and drill’ exercises.
A freak October snowstorm hit the area on Halloween weekend. Many homes throughout the area lost power and several hundred anywhere from four to six inches of snowfall in what was the most bizarre weather-related incident of 2011.

November
Karen Comer announced her retirement as the Harrison health officer after 25 years on the job.
Nutley Police responded to a silent alarm at the TD Bank on Franklin Ave. between Church and William Sts. Police arrested 49-year-old Michael Evans and charged him with robbing the bank after tbey found him hiding in a nearby yard on Alexander St. in Newark.
Nine inductees were sent into the Nutley Hall of Fame. The honorees were Cathleen Benko, Larry Brancaccio, Tina Cervasio, Angela Christiano, Lloyd Goodrich, Frank Lautenberg, Earl Reeder, Al Welenofsky, and Linda Lautenschlaeger Stamato.
Designs came in for playgrounds at Washington, Jefferson, and Roosevelt Schools in North Arlington. The old playgrounds, which had been neglected and required much help, will be replaced in time for children to play on them by next spring and summer.
Harrison Schools Superintendent James Doran announced that students would be getting free breakfast. Research found that students who ate before testing and classes performed better in the classroom.
After minor delays, The Observer’s Kentucky Care project arrived in Cordia, KY. The project helped hundreds of families in an area where the average household income is $11,297 according to the 2000 Census.
Several acres of land off of Porete Ave. in North Arlington remained on the selling block. The former Bethlehem Steel and Bergen County Utilities Authority sites were put up for auction, but failed to lure buyers.

The former Bethlehem Steel and Bergen County Utilities Authority sites failed to lure buyers.

 

December
The coverage area kicked off the holiday season with tree lightings and holiday festivities.
Demolition began at the old Hartz Mountain complex in Harrison. The site, which is being developed by Heller Urban Renewal, will create 600 new residential units. The parcel is within walking distance of the Harrison PATH station.
The West Hudson Arts & Theatre Company opened at the Arlington Players Club with its production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The theatre performed the show roughly a month after the troupe’s inception – a remarkable feat considering the intricacies involved.
Nutley Mayor Joanne Cocchiola stepped down with five months left in her term. She vacated the position so the Township Council could appoint her to fill the vacancy created by the recent death of Judge Michael Viola.
Bloomfield unveiled a mural on the overpass on the east side of John F. Kennedy Blvd. that links the football complex with Maple and Spruce Sts.
Harrison Public Library celebrated its 100th birthday.

New ‘high-end’ digs coming soon?

 

Photo by Photo by Ron Leir/ Mayor Ray McDonough displays rendering of a highrise apartment building and deck parking proposed for area next to Bridge St. Bridge.

By Ron Leir

HARRISON –
Another real estate project is on the drawing board for Harrison’s waterfront redevelopment area.
David Steiner, of the Steiner Equities Group, of Roseland, and a commissioner of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, is pitching a “high-end” high-rise apartment building near the Bridge St. Bridge on the town’s Newark border.
Steiner and architect Jacob Bloch presented the concept for the project at a special meeting of the Harrison Redevelopment Agency, held last Tuesday, Dec. 20, and the agency board voted to designate Steiner the redeveloper for the 2.6-acre site.
The special meeting was originally called for last Monday but then moved to Tuesday because of scheduling issues involving the participants, according to Mayor Ray McDonough.
The targeted property, which is occupied by a used-car lot along Harrison Ave. and a lumberyard behind it, runs from the Passaic River to Dey St., down Dey St. to Warren St., bordering the River Park apartment complex.
Steiner’s plan calls for a 20-story concrete and steel building that would accommodate 200 rental apartments – a combination of one-bedroom and two-bedroom units – along with a rooftop restaurant and a health club for tenants.
A four-deck parking garage which would provide spaces for the building’s tenants would be built next door and atop the garage, there would be tennis courts, plus possibly basketball courts and possibly a pool.
Steiner, who was born in Newark and worked in the sheetrock industry before becoming a civil engineer, has a development track record, according to McDonough, who said Steiner had approached him about doing a project in Harrison.
Steiner’s firm owns a film studio in the Brooklyn Naval Yard; the company built the Bridgewater Town Center mall on Rt. 202 and malls in Manalapan and Lakewood; it has also built condominium apartments in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, McDonough said.
Before Steiner can start building in Harrison, though, he’ll have to acquire the privately-owned parcels in the redevelopment tract.
It’s unclear whether Steiner has begun negotiations with the owners.
If and when he secures a contract to purchase the property, then the agency and town would consider entering into a redevelopment agreement with his company and, after that, he would go to the town Planning Board for site plan approvals.
McDonough said that all the developers in the town’s redevelopment zone have asked the town to grant them PILOT (Payments in Lieu of Taxes) agreements.
McDonough said that when he relayed that information to the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA), which is closely monitoring Harrison’s fiscal operations, DCA instructed him to request something in writing from the developers “asking them to explain why they need the PILOT.”
Meanwhile, in other news on the development front, McDonough said the town has been awarded a Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection to apply toward a projected $30 million environmental cleanup of the old Hartz property where Heller Industrial Parks plans to build 600 new apartments and 30,000 square feet of retail space.
“From what I understand,” McDonough said, “it will take one year to take down all the buildings on the site and remove the PCBs and other contaminants and dirt.”
McDonough said that the Heller firm just put the demolition phase of the project out to bid and seven contractors submitted bid proposals.

Cops, Firefighters get X-mas gift

By Ron Leir

KEARNY –
For cops and firefighters expecting to lose their jobs or to be demoted by year’s end, this holiday season was looking pretty glum.
But now the spirit of Christmas is bringing the best gift of all: their jobs are safe and they’ll be no bumping down of ranks.
Mayor Alberto Santos, Town Administrator Michael Martello and Chief Financial Officer Shuaib Firozvi each confirmed in separate interviews last week that the layoffs and demotions that were scheduled for Dec. 31 are pretty much off the table.
Attorneys for both sides have been in constant contact with each other for the past couple of months as the town and the unions representing members of the Police and Fire Departments have looked for fiscal strategies aimed at shedding the labor strife.
And, as a result, Santos said, “we are now very close on (settling) both police and fire issues. It depends on the total number of retirements that actually occur… We are waiting on some additional retirements but, until the papers are filed, we can’t rely on them for purposes of savings projected.
“However, if all of them occur as we expect them to, then it would be safe to say there will be no layoffs for either the Police or Fire Departments,” Santos said.
Nine Police Department retirements – five superiors and four rank-and-file officers – are slated to kick in Feb. 1, 2012, according to Martello.
In the Fire Department, nine retirements – two superiors and seven firefighters – are also factored into the savings equation. Two men left in October; others will depart in April 2012; and the rest, in July 2012, Martello said.
PBA local President Glenn Reed and FMBA local President James Carey, who plans to retire July 1, 2012, agreed that it now appears that the layoff plan is dead.
“That’s correct,” Reed said. “We worked it out last week and we’ve informed our members.”
Decreased pension contributions, savings from present and future retirements and from switching to a less expensive medical plan helped nail down the deal, Carey said.
As things now stand, Carey said the FMBA’s agreement to accept compensatory time in place of overtime this year, as part of a budget savings plan requested by management, will expire Dec. 31 but not without consequences.
“They (the town) owe our members thousands and thousands of hours in comp time and I don’t know how they’re going to make good on that,” Carey said.
According to Firozvi, the town had hoped to achieve a savings of $1,150,000 in the Police Department payroll and $960,000 in the Fire Department for 2012. “We’ve achieved both goals,” he said.
But Santos, Martello and Firozvi said the town is still negotiating with the representatives of civilian union employees – the Civil Service Association – on ways of preventing the abolition of nine jobs spread among the Construction, Finance, Health and Public Works Departments and the Town Library.
For the non-uniformed employees, Firozvi said the town was looking to accomplish $1 million in savings for 2012. With four retirements anticipated by year’s end, that would still leave $650,000 to chop, he said.
Three employees have just filed for disability retirements but those savings haven’t been factored in yet, Firozvi said.
This year, Civil Service union members had to swallow 26 furlough days – representing 10% of their base salaries – as another cost-saving measure and they may have to accept some furloughs again for 2012, officials say.
“Unless we get a significant number of retirements, the most logical alternative for savings is (the use of) furloughs,” Santos said.
Earlier this year, Kearny officials had projected a 2012 budget deficit of $5 million. Santos said the town figured to attack that gap through “a small tax increase,” application of town reserves, a reduced pension contribution and labor savings.
At this point, according to Santos and Firozvi, the town is “about half-way there” to filling the projected budget shortfall. How successful it will be depends on the outcome of talks with the civilian employees unions, how much of a surplus the town can generate, to what extent the town can reduce its operating expenses, its revenue picture and the impact of next year’s employee insurance premiums, Firozvi said.
Next year, the town will also have to deal with another round of labor contract negotiations. The fire unions’ contracts run out July 1; police and civilian middle-level supervisors will see their pacts expire on Dec. 31.

The Ups and Downs of 2011

publisher@theobserver.com

 

By Lisa Pezzolla

As the clock ticks down to the New Year, we all like to reflect on the things that have happened this year. Whether they were good or bad, many events have shaped 2011 into the year it has been and these events will help begin to shape the New Year.
With that in mind, I’d like to just highlight some of the things I’ve mentioned in my columns this year, just to allow people to appreciate some of the things that went on in our area.
Obviously with the New Year, we brought in a new design for the paper, replacing the old red and black design with a much more updated and eye-catching design.
As always, we touched on how important our readers are to us and how we look for your response, whether that response was through phone calls, e-mails, or the good, ol’ fashioned letter.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature was not too kindly to our area, with massive snowfall in February, Hurricane Irene in late August, and a freak snowstorm on Halloween.
Despite those acts of nature, The Observer was able to bring many people some cheer in the light of awful circumstances.
None of this can even be said without mentioning and thanking all of you, our readers, for everything you have done to help out through volunteering time and giving donations.
We were able to help Samantha Bustamante, a young girl with brain cancer, fulfill her wish to get to Disney.
The Observer kicked off its annual Kentucky Care project, which helped many families. I am proud to say that I was a part of this project with Gino Montrone that helped out so many families stateside that needed our help more than ever.
As always, please stay connected. The Observer, now more than ever, is ever present through Facebook, Twitter, and on our website at www.theobserver.com.
May I wish you all a Happy New Year and may 2012 prove to be a fruitful year for you and yours.

News from the Kearny Police blotter

The lucrative business of illegal scrapping got four Newark men arrested in Kearny on December 14. Officers John Fabula and Sean Kelly responded to the vacant Wilcatabox building at the bottom of Tappan and Hoyt Sts. The officers received a call from local residents who saw men coming out of the building carrying materials and placing them in a Chevy Tahoe. After calling for backup and securing the perimeter, one of the individuals walked out of the building and spotted the officers, then immediately closed and locked the door. Officers entered the building after the fire department breached the door. Given the size of the area they needed to canvass, Kearny police called in K-9 units from the Bergan County Sheriff’s office to help in the search. Officer Kelly and Detective Ray Lopez were able to locate two individuals, 23-year-old Ruben Whiteneck and 18-year-old Nicholas Soto, both from Newark, hiding with debris in the flooded basement.  After apprehending the two men, Det. Lopez, Officer Kelly and Officer Pat Walsh went back into the building. On the second search, the officers found two more men, 36-year-old Jose Williams of Newark and Juan Vazquez, 24, of New Haven, CT. The men were charged with burglary, theft, conspiracy, criminal mischief, and resisting arrest. In the Tahoe were assorted burglar tools including bolt cutters, flashlights, and screwdrivers. Police also retrieved a large amount of copper wiring and ductwork that had been dismantled and stacked near the exit of the building.
The next morning, police responded to a call from a Kearny resident who said they had seen a suspicious man in the back of a Jaguar. Officers Joe Vulcano and Jose Canella, along with Sgt. John Taylor responded to the 200 block of Devon St. to find the man still in the back of the car. The man, 47-year-old Stanislaus Luganga from the Bronx, said he didn’t own the car, but apparently knew the owner and decided to get in the car to “take a smoke break.” The man was taken into custody after it was discovered that he carried several outstanding warrants. He couldn’t make bail and was taken to Hudson County jail.
Later on the night of Dec. 15,, Officers Mike Santucci and Andrew Palagano were investigating a motor vehicle accident at the intersection of Belleville Tpke. and Passaic Ave. when they observed another vehicle, not involved in the initial accident, drive up the driveway of the Kearny Auto Spa and slam into the retaining wall, putting the car in a precarious position over the wall. A female and a male were assisted from the vehicle, smelling of alcohol. After observation, they determined that the driver, 38-year-old David Hudak from Linden, was under the influence. He was given summonses for DWI and careless driving.
On the night of Dec. 16 and into the early hours of Dec. 17, Officer Chris Levchak was conducting a roving DWI assignment he stopped a vehicle driving southbound on Kearny Ave. Levchak detected the smell of alcohol and asked the driver, 51-year-old Newark resident Steven Bornemann if he had been drinking.   The driver explained that he had consumed a couple of drinks at work and told Levchak that he was driving with a suspended license. At that point, Sgt. John Taylor came to the scene and conducted a roadside sobriety test.  Bornemann was subsequently placed under arrest. It was also discovered that the Bornemann had warrants out in Nutley, Colts Neck, Maplewood, Rutherford, and Belleville. He was charged with DWI, careless driving, driving while suspended and failure to exhibit an insurance card.
Finally, on Monday December 19th around 7:00 p.m., a multivehicle accident occurred with several minor injuries when a vehicle driving east on Bergen Ave collided with another going north on Schuyler Ave. While directing traffic, Officer Sean Kelly was struck by a vehicle and knocked to the ground on Schuyler Ave. He was taken by ambulance to Clara Maass hospital and treated for minor back and hip injuries. The 60-year-old motorist from Hope Lawn was issued a summons for careless driving.