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Category: News

Got to go green to save some green

Photo by Ron Leir/ Mayor Alberto Santos checks out old boiler in basement of Town Hall, That unit would likely be replaced under an energy savings plan being devised by Honeywell.



By Ron Leir

So it’s a brisk fall day. Not too chilly. But now the old boiler kicks in, the heat begins to rise and suddenly it’s so uncomfortably toasty, employees have to throw open windows to get relief.
That’s the kind of predicament faced by workers in its municipal buildings that Kearny officials are hoping to circumvent in the near future.
They took the first step to achieving that goal Dec. 6 by designating Honeywell Building Solutions of Morristown to devise an “energy savings project” for the town.
Mayor Alberto Santos said the plan is for Honeywell “to help us reduce energy consumption in our buildings – where a lot of energy is now wasted – and thereby reduce our utility bills.”
Santos said the town is following the example set by the Board of Education, which has an energy plan in process. “They’re ahead of us on this,” the mayor said.
Last year, a municipal committee solicited, from various energy firms, what Santos characterized as “preliminary proposals” on general strategies for solving Kearny’s energy dilemma and rated them.
Honeywell’s submission “got the highest point total” from the committee, Santos said.
Honeywell representative Paul Pilsbury outlined the company’s conceptual pitch and gave out explanatory handouts at last week’s mayor/Town Council meeting.
The chief advantage of its business plan is that Kearny could expect “no capital outlay” to implement the plan’s recommendations; the project would be funded “with energy and operational savings,” the handout says.
Asked to elaborate, Santos said that any purchases of new equipment or physical plant improvements would be financed either through a state energy investment vehicle or by “market-generated tax credits.”
Any debt incurred would be paid off over time through energy savings, the mayor said.
The company handout says that “Honeywell guarantees savings,” meaning, according to Santos, that the company incurs the risk of having to make up any gap in the debt payments if the predicted energy savings fails to materialize.
Based on an “energy audit” that the company performed in June 2010 of Kearny’s 12 municipal buildings, including a “detailed review” of Town Hall and the Laurel Ave. property that is occupied by the Police Department and the Water Department, Honeywell’s town-wide plan calls for:
* New boilers in the Public Library’s main and branch buildings, Town Hall, Fire Station 1, the Health Department and the Senior Center.
* Rooftop units and chiller at the Police/Water building and at Town Hall.
* Lighting and motion sensors in all 12 buildings.
* Building management controls in all 12 buildings.
Total project cost is estimated at $1.7 million and total energy savings is projected at $111,000.
Santos said he expects Honeywell to submit a “final plan” in two to three months for review by the mayor and council who, he added, would decide which elements of the plan to actually implement.
Honeywell is recommending a 15-year municipal lease or refunding bond arrangement as the contractual vehicle.

Is Passaic Ave. complex unsafe?

Photos by Ron Leir/ The former Clark Thread Co. Building on Passaic Ave. in East Newark



By Ron Leir

They’re supposed to be allies in fostering the conversion of a long-dormant factory to a new apartment complex but they haven’t been able to agree on contractual terms to accomplish that goal.
Worse yet, they can’t even agree on what shape the existing eyesore should be kept in – even before any of the proposed improvements begin.
For the last several months they’ve been legal adversaries, battling in court over the condition of the bricked- and boarded-up structures that comprise the former Clark Thread Co.
Since June 8, the Borough of East Newark has asserted that Alma Realty Corp. of Astoria, N.Y., the current owner of the old industrial facility off Passaic Ave., has failed to remedy these alleged fire code violations:
• Safeguard vacant premises
• (Provide) security on premises.
• Disconnect unnecessary utilities.
• Remove interior combustibles.
• Remove all exterior debris.
• Fire apparatus access in and around buildings.
A borough “notice of code violation and order to pay penalty,” dated June 8, 2011 states “all violations must be abated by June 24, 2011.”
As of this past Oct. 10, the East Newark Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Bureau has assessed penalties totaling $176,000 – and counting – against Alma for having allegedly failed to correct the deficiencies.
On Nov. 29, lawyers for both sides faced off in the borough’s municipal court before Judge Kenneth J. Lindenfelser but after only a few minutes of back and forth, the stalemate continued.
Victor Nuzzi, the Dover attorney representing Alma Realty, claimed this was the first time he was seeing the notice of violation and added he’d “have to do some research” but believed that “some of these (violations) have been abated.”
The judge instructed Nuzzi and Edgewater attorney Thomas Wall, special counsel for the borough, to return on Jan. 3, 2012. By that time, the judge said, he hoped that the lawyers would have hammered out an agreement on what has been remedied and what hasn’t.
Outside the courtroom, Nuzzi told The Observer that, “We’re trying to work it out.” But he also said that he might opt to subpoena East Newark Mayor Joseph Smith as a witness. And, if he can’t reach an agreement, he added, he might decide to ask for a change of venue, meaning transferring the case to another court jurisdiction.
For his part, Wall said that based on a visit to the Passaic Ave. site in October, “We do concede that some of (the violations) are abated. It’s just a question of when they were abated and if they were abated sufficiently.”
Ultimately, Wall said, it will be up to the court to “determine what was abated and when.”
“We will explore all avenues in trying to get an agreement,” Wall said.
When asked if there was any imminent danger resulting from any of the alleged violations, Wall said: “I can’t answer. That’s the subject of this litigation.”
In a phone interview last week, Borough Fire Code Official George Kondek, who wasn’t asked to testify at the court session, agreed that the owners had taken some positive steps.
“There had been a lot of debris inside by the front entrance,” Kondek said, and there was so much that “you’d never be able to get to a fire inside – but they cleaned that up.”
Also gone from some of the buildings in the complex, he said, are various “flammables,” such as wood pallets and boxes with building materials, but he said combustibles still remain in other buildings.
And, Kondek said, the owners need to disconnect “unnecessary electrical wiring” running through the complex. If they want to light the guard shack, for example, “they need to get Public Service to run separate, temporary wiring with separate meters,” he said. “You don’t need transformers all over.”
As for the required 24-hour a day security, Kondek characterized that as an “on and off thing.” A few weeks ago, he said, police reported a break-in at the complex.
“Now that it’s getting cold,” he said, “all you need is a fire going inside one of the buildings.” The owners were permitted to de-activate the sprinkler system after the water pipes burst a few winters ago and flooded the interior of the unheated buildings.
Mayor Smith said that under an initial redevelopment agreement for the complex, dating from about 2007, Alma Realty had proposed 630 luxury residential condominiums with “wrap-around” parking but, later, after the economy tanked, revised its plans to propose more than 800 rental apartments.
Smith said an independent demographer calculated that the project could generate 50 to 70 school-age children that East Newark might have to absorb – no easy feat for the financially strapped borough.
On its web site, Alma Realty highlights its previous development of Taaffe Place Complex in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill – a conversion of four former warehouses used as a knitting factory and by furniture and cabinet makers into loft apartments.
Alma Realty’s web site says the firm owns and operates more than 6,000 residential apartments and more than 1 million square-feet of office and retail space in the tri-state area.

Putting the lid on drug abuse in U.S.


By Anthony J. Machcinski

The normal image people associate with someone who abuses drugs is the beaten down, ragged, and dirty homeless person in the inner cities. What people fail to realize is that some of the greatest abuse occurs within the safest towns with drugs that many people have in their home.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 7 million people abuse prescription drugs in the United States. Over the past 20 years, the number of opioid prescriptions increased from 30 million to 180 million, making these potentially dangerous drugs more available than ever.
Several factors contribute to this trend. One of these, suggested John Bellitti, pharmacist and owner of Hb Pharmacy, is the subjectivity of pain.
“Pain is subjective,” Belitti said. “If you have a problem with your blood pressure, you can measure it. It’s very difficult to judge how much pain a patient has. So being that it’s subjective, you don’t know if the person is saying it because they’re in pain, or whether they just want the drug.”
While scheming patients are partially to blame, much of the blame rests on the unethical doctors who will prescribe such drugs to these patients. It’s the job of pharmacies to verify that the prescription is legitimate.
“We try and verify the prescription,” said Dominick Zinna, pharmacist in charge of Midtown Pharmacy. “We try and know the doctor as well. If it’s a doctor we don’t recognize, we will follow-up with the doctor and get the information from the patient as well. We try to do as much as we can.”
While pharmacists are doing everything they can, the State of New Jersey is trying to help as well.  In 2008, a law was adopted requiring the use of a Prescription Monitoring Program. By September, the program had been implemented by various pharmacies across the state.
According to Bellitti, pharmacists are required to send in a list of every drug, patient, and doctor. This will help to tell if a person is using multiple pharmacies to obtain the prescriptions.
It’s not just the abuse of the drugs this system is looking to stop, but the illegal selling and prescribing of the drugs. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research, OxyContin – an opiate considered one of the top abused drugs – costs about $4 when prescribed, but on the street, can fetch anywhere from $25 to $40 per pill.
“It’s a moneymaker for a pharmacy and for a doctor’s office to see these people (who often pay cash),” Bellitti explained. “After all, everybody is in business, including doctors. Sometimes, they go onto the darker side just to keep their business afloat.”
While adults are the main source of abuse, children and teenagers can easily become addicted. However, both Bellitti and Zinna agree that the best way to curb child drug abuse is to halt it before it even happens.
“That’s all parenting,” Zinna said. “Kids from good backgrounds even have issues. Talking to them and asking them what they’re doing. This usually starts from peer pressure. I just think good parenting and keeping an eye out and setting limits within reason.”
“The best way to stop your kid is to be in touch and talking to them and monitoring your kids,” Bellitti continued. “If you’re in touch with your kid, you’re going to be a good parent.”
People at home can also do their part to combat drug abuse. According to the Mayo Clinic, people should communicate, listen, set a good example, and strengthen their bonds with friends and loved ones.

Welcoming new neighbors to town

Photo by Ron Leir/ David Barry (l), president of Ironstate Development Co., is joined by U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (c.) and Pegasus Group principal Richard Miller at ribboncutting for Harrison Station project.



U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-Union City) and a host of other public officials came to Harrison Dec. 9 to give kudos to a development team that defied a down economy to build a “transit-friendly” ratable.
They were paying tribute to Ironstate Development Co. and The Pegasus Group, both of Hoboken, who have combined in a joint venture to construct the first phase of the Harrison Station mixed-use residential/retail project, a few minutes walk from the Harrison PATH station.
Since the completion of the project’s residential component in September, nearly half of the 275 luxury rental apartments have been leased and 40% occupied, along with 5,500 square feet of the projected 12,814 square feet of retail space which includes Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Pronto Gourmet, which figure to open next month.
Last month Ironstate was chosen as the redeveloper of seven acres of the 37-acre former U.S. Navy base in the Stapleton section of Staten Island, N.Y., where it plans to put up 900 rental apartments and 30,000 square feet of retail.
In Harrison, final build-out on the 27-acre site calls for 2,600 apartments, 80,000 square feet of retail space and a 136-room hotel with retail concourse. Developers say the $750 million project will generate 2,000 construction jobs and 400 permanent jobs.
Apartments will rent in the $1,300-per-month range for studios, in the $1,600s for one-bedroom units and from $2,100 for two-bedrooms. Tenants get to use a large fitness center, residents’ lounge with large-screen TVs and ping pong table, landscaped courtyard with outdoor pool and a volleyball court. They can park in the nearby Hoboken Parking Center garage.
Hotel construction, aided by a $7.4 million incentive grant from the state Economic Development Authority, is expected to begin in summer 2012.
With more new residents and retail space anticipated in Harrison’s waterfront redevelopment zone, Menendez and Hudson County Executive Tom Degise said they expect to see a new interchange off Rt. 280 to provide access to the redevelopment district, particularly to accommodate traffic to and from the new Red Bull Arena on game days.
And Degise said that, down the road, there could be another deck parking facility to service the growing Harrison redevelopment area.
“They’re going to need more parking,” he said. Developers “could build it themselves” or they could look to enlist the support of the Hudson County Improvement Authority, which helped finance construction of the 1,400 space Harrison Parking Center, he said.
As for public transportation, officials said that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will be acting soon to upgrade the Harrison PATH station – pending the acquisition of certain properties needed for the station’s expansion – to provide an easier Newark/Manhattan commute for Harrison’s new residents.
—Ron Leir

A WORD WITH THE PUBLISHER: Holiday shopping, shop local



Where should we head to go shopping? This is often the question we ask during the holiday season, whether you’re searching for a theater, ready for some serious shopping, or trying out a new restaurant after a long day.
During this holiday season, instead of coming home from the hustle and bustle of the workday and running back out into highway traffic, shop local. Many local businesses have struggled this past year and many of these merchants are always willing to help out by sponsoring and supporting local groups that help our community.
To improve their chances to survive, local stores need your support more then ever. Get in the car with the family or  take a stroll down to your local business district and take notice of your local community merchants.
Taking a stroll to local dealers instead of driving to large malls will also help get in the workout needed after the overindulgence of the holiday meal. Instead of going to the indoor malls, let the whole family take a walk around town and support your local retailers. You will be getting in your walk and breathing in fresh air. Getting through these tough economic times, we need to spend money locally. Our downtown merchants and business owners need your support.

Looking forward to a new challenge

Photo courtesy of www.nutleynj.org/ Mayor Joanne Cocchiola


By Ron Leir

With five months left in her term, Nutley Mayor Joanne Cocchiola is resigning Dec. 30 to become the township’s first female municipal court judge.
Cocchiola, who is serving her second 4-year term as the township’s chief executive, announced Dec. 9 she would step down as the Township Council appointed her to fill the vacancy created by the recent death of Judge Michael Viola.
The part-time mayor’s post carries a salary of $2,750 a year; the salary ordinance for municipal court judge provides for a minimum of $51,000 ranging up to $61,000 a year.
Township Attorney Kevin Harkins said that under state law, the four remaining township commissioners can select a temporary replacement for mayor from among the four of them to serve until the May 2012 municipal election.
Harkins said the commissioners would have to act within a certain statutory time limit which he said he’s currently researching.
If the commissioners can’t agree on a replacement, then, by state law, the Revenue and Finance commissioner – currently Tom Evan – would assume the mayor’s duties. By law, the interim mayor’s title would be “vice president of the board of commissioners,” according to Harkins.
In a phone interview Monday, Cocchiola – who has served the past 11 years as an associate counsel for the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority – said she’s asked the New Jersey Supreme Court if she could continue serving in that public job while working as a judge but she said she hasn’t yet received a reply. She said she’s prepared to step down from that job, if she has to.
Asked how the judgeship situation came about, Cocchiola said that Viola called her several months ago to say he was retiring. Then he fell ill and passed away Nov. 28, she said.
“Well, I’m a lawyer,” Cocchiola said. “And I never had an interest in a judgeship.”
But then it occurred to her, Cocchiola continued, that “it could be a way to trailblaze in this area. There’s never been a female judge in Nutley. And I thought it would be much more meaningful than being appointed a Superior Court judge because I’d be sitting right here in my town. And I had only intended to run for one more term (as commissioner), anyway.”
So Cocchiola said she approached her fellow commissioners “just to say I had this thought (of serving as municipal judge).”
After a thorough venting of all the issues associated with the move, the governing body concluded it was the right way to, she said.
Cocchiola will fill out the remainder of Viola’s term through the May 15, 2012 township commission reorganization meeting and, at that point, the commission will decide whether to reappoint her to a full three-year term.
Cocchiola said she feels “a little sad” about exiting political life “but very excited because I feel I can make a difference in another area, continuing to make a commitment to the town I love.”
Cocchiola, who was a deputy state attorney general for 15 years before entering the local political arena, winning election to the township commission in 2000, said she’s proud of “putting this town on the map” by getting state recognition for being one of eight “healthy” towns in New Jersey through her creation of the local “Wellness Challenge.”
Cocchiola said she’s also done her best to “add all kinds of programs for women in this town. I’ve done my best to serve as honorably as I can.”

Harrison Police Blotter

Dec. 1
A perpetrator who gained entry by smashing a basement window burglarized a Bergen St. residence.
Edward Perez, of Newark, was arrested for committing an act of criminal sexual assault assault on a female ambulance worker at a professional services building  in Harrison. Perez also had a number of outstanding warrants from several communities.
Dec. 2
After being found sleeping in a backyard, Numar Giraldo-Ramirez, of Harrison, was arrested for numerous outstanding warrants.
Saturnino Diaz, of Newark, was arrested for an outstanding warrant and taken to Hudson County Jail, Kearny.
Dec. 4
The sunroof of a 2002 Volvo was smashed while it was parked on the 200 block of Warren St. overnight.
A 2009 Infiniti was broken into while it was parked on Seventh St. overnight and a GPS and an iPod were stolen from it.
Dec. 5
Police responded to a report of an erratic driver on John St. where they found a vehicle whose operator was asleep at the wheel. The driver, Baltazar Guaman, of Harrison, was charged with driving while intoxicated and subsequently released pending court action.
Someone broke into a Honda Accord while it was parked in a municipal lot on Hamilton St. and removed a carton of cigarettes.
An intruder burglarized a Franklin Ave. residence after gaining entry via the front door.

Bloomfield Police Blotter

Nov. 20
A victim reported that an unknown person removed two meters from the lot.

Nov. 29
Donnel Wilkins of East Orange was arrested for outstanding Warrants.

Marvin Perdomo of Paterson was arrested for outstanding Warrants.

Nov. 30
A North 17th St. tenant reported that an unknown suspect entered his apartment and removed two televisions, two laptop computers, several pieces of jewelry and an Olympus camera.
A Park Pl. victim reported that an unknown person forcibly entered her apartment and
removed a 32” Emerson TV and a Dell laptop computer.
A Davey St. victim reported that an unknown person broke a rear vent window and
entered his automobile. The suspect stole a Garmin GPS unit.
A victim reported that an unknown person smashed in his rear window and removed
a Pioneer car stereo and a Tom Tom GPS unit.
Kwame Kemp of East Orange was arrested for Burglary.
Jose Casanova of Newark was arrested for Shoplifting.

Dec. 1
A Park Ave. victim reported that upon returning home he noticed his Mac Book laptop
computer missing. There were no signs of forced entry.
A Hoover Ave. victim reported that he placed his Apple Mac Book laptop computer by his vehicle and went back inside his residence. When he returned to his vehicle the laptop was gone.
Sharleen Samson of Bloomfield was arrested for a Disorderly Person charge.
Eugene Zadra of Garfield was arrested for a Contempt charge.
Lisa Morgano of East Orange was arrested for a Contempt charge.

Dec. 2
A Spruce St. victim reported that an unknown person entered her residence through a side window. The victim reports that an unknown amount of jewelry was missing.
Quawee Gallman of Caldwell was arrested for outstanding Warrants.

Dec. 3
A Bloomfield Ave. victim reported that an unknown person using a motor vehicle ripped one of his bay doors off, then entered his garage bay and stole 5 boxes of cigarettes each containing 18 cartons of Newport and Marlboro lights.

Dec. 4
The BP gas station reported that two black males entered the office, both wearing blue
hoodies. One suspect displayed a silver handgun and stated, “This is a hold up.” The
suspect then struck the victim numerous times causing severe damage to the victim’s
lip. The second suspect removed approximately $500 in cash. Both suspects fled west on Bay Ave. after another vehicle entered the lot. These suspects were possibly involved in other armed robberies in the county. Anyone with associated information should contact: Det./Lt. Joe Krentz at 973-680-4091.
A witness reported that a male smashed the front entry door to a business and entered
the building. Patrol officers arrived and observed the suspect exiting the business. The suspect was arrested and items that he had stolen were recovered.
A 2010 Toyota was reported as stolen on Summit Ave. Jose Chicmana-Guerrero of
Bloomfield was arrested for DWI.
Henry Chicmana-Guerrero of Bloomfield was arrested for DWI.

Around town

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.

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.

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 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