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Category: News

Improved Rt. 280 access should relieve local tie-ups

Graphic courtesy Jacobs Engineering/ Map shows suggested western, central and eastern locations for new Rt. 280 interchange in Harrison.

By Ron Leir

HARRISON –

Residents steamed about gridlock from the throngs of out-of-town cars that clog the town on nights when Red Bull Arena is hosting a soccer match: Take a deep breath and count to 3 … or maybe 5.

Three or five years, that is.

It may be that long you’ll have to wait before seeing some relief from those massive traffic tie-ups. But at least that looming relief is no pie in the sky prospect. Uncle Sam has actually put some cash behind that promise.

The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has allocated $2.5 million for a preliminary study of a possible new “full access” Rt. 280 Harrison interchange, meaning that drivers would be able to access the state highway – east or west – from the same road.

Engineers, planners and traffic professionals engaged in the study are hoping that the new infrastructure – which would replace and consolidate the existing highway’s east and west approach ramps – would relieve the Harrison Ave. gridlock.

And, according to John Pavlovich, a consulting engineer on the study project, the new interchange should also eliminate the sideswipes and rear-end collisions confounding motorists traveling eastbound on Rt. 280 coming off the Stickel Bridge into Harrison or drivers negotiating westbound entry ramps onto 280 from Bergen and Second Sts. heading for Rt. 21 or Broad St. in Newark.

If the project is declared ready to proceed and if it gets construction dollars funded, experts figure it will be 2015 – or 2017 – before work even begins.

The public gets an opportunity to see and hear more about the project on Thursday, March 1, from 6 to 9 p.m., in the second floor council chambers at Harrison Town Hall, 318 Harrison Ave.

Planners have labeled the existing 280 access points as “an obstacle to current and future economic redevelopment initiatives.”

So the study is being conducted by the Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA) in cooperation with the Town of Harrison and state Department of Transportation to identify alternative locations to create a single interchange designed to improve safety and mobility for drivers and pedestrians on both the highway and local streets and to improve access to and through the Harrison waterfront redevelopment area along the Passaic River, with limited impact on the community.

“Harrison is alive and well,” declared the HCIA’s Tom Leane, study project manager. “It’s a town that people forgot about for 30 years after its longstanding industries disappeared but now there’s interest in it because of major development taking place. So the question becomes how do you get access in and out of all these great projects that are within PATH range of New York.”

Over the past seven months, planners have suggested three possible locations for the new interchange:

The Eastern Alternative, an approach from the Schuyler Ave. area.

The Western Alternative, a split approach with several ramps off Frank Rodgers Blvd., some as far west as Second St.

The Central Alternative, an approach from between Seventh and Eighth Sts. with a tie-in off Cape May St.

Planners say that while the Eastern route is “very unlikely to affect residential or commercial properties,” it does have several downsides: It would require routing of traffic through or over rail maintenance facilities, would compel traffic movements farther along residential streets to reach 280 from areas north of the highway, wouldn’t improve 280 linkage to Harrison destinations and would result in Newark traffic traveling through more local streets south of 280.

An analysis of the Western option suggests that it would potentially impact only one rail facility but it may require the taking of homes to create a right of way and would cause traffic movements through longer distances on local streets to reach 280 from waterfront redevelopment locations.

The Central route could affect rail lines operated by Amtrak, PATH, NJ Transit, Conrail and historic rail landmarks, could impact some industries along the highway and may require business property acquisition but would provide access to the center of the redevelopment area, more direct access for traffic from Newark to 280 and avoids residential property acquisition.

Additionally, as part of the Central alternative, the town has encouraged planners to consider installing a service road to handle truck traffic between Seventh and Eighth Sts. to Supor Blvd., bypassing Harrison Ave. It could be oneway or two-ways, depending on how much land becomes available for the road.

Some key data is still missing from the study. Pavlovich, of Jacobs Engineering Group, said the study team has asked Harrison to furnish traffic flow projections from ongoing residential, retail and commercial activities on five parcels in the waterfront redevelopment area.

Still, even at this early stage in the proceedings, Harrison Mayor Raymond Mc- Donough says he prefers the Central route because it projects no need for acquiring residential properties “so I won’t have a problem disrupting homeowners.”

McDonough said he’s expecting the Advance Co. to seek Planning Board approval March 29 to develop Parcels E and F along Rodgers Blvd. in the redevelopment zone. Plans call for construction of a fi vestory residential building, each with 296 apartments, on each parcel, with on-site parking for about 300 cars on each parcel.

At the same time, the developer of the River Park apartment complex on First St. is expected to ask the Planning Board to permit him to build an additional 140 apartments on the site.

 

Charity fund helps the needy

 

Photos Courtesy of WBMA TV/ Mayor Raymond McCarthy

 

By Ron Leir

BLOOMFIELD –

It was sort of like a reenactment of that old TV show from the ‘50s, “The Millionaire.”

Except that the checks presented by Mayor Raymond McCarthy at the Bloomfield Municipal Building weren’t for a million bucks and everybody knew their benefactor.

But that didn’t matter: It was all for a good cause.

Last Thursday – nearly five months after McCarthy hosted his first annual Charity Gala at Nanina’s in the Park, Belleville – the mayor announced that of the approximately $35,000 raised at the affair, he was dispersing $20,500 to community organizations and holding the balance as a contingency fund.

“This is a big day for us,” McCarthy said, crediting all donors “who give back to the community for the family of Bloomfield.” And, in turn, by distributing the cash to agencies and organizations that help people in need, “We bring back normalcy to people.”

The biggest single beneficiary of the Gala largesse was the United Way of Bloomfield which received $12,500. “It’s been an integral part of this community for 50 years,” the mayor said, providing assistance to desperate folks to help pay for rent, mortgages and food, for example.

United Way Executive Director Ida Pafundi, who accepted the check, said the aid will be a shot in the arm for the agency’s several thousand clients served by 13 member organizations and, in particular, money spent for food. “There are an awful lot of people starving here in Bloomfield,” she said.

Pafundi thanked ShopRite for making available discounts for the needy.

McCarthy presented checks for $2,500 each to these groups:

Bloomfield Municipal Alliance, which helps troubled youths and organizes Christmas toy drives. They were represented at Thursday’s event by director Pat Marchese and police liaison Lt. James Behre.

Neighbor-to-Neighbor Network, a nonprofit agency that aids needy elderly with rent and utility payments, food and companionship, helps poor families by giving children books, backpacks and clothing and by helping parents with affordable day care. The group also provides shelter for animals. Karen Lore and Paul Peikis accepted the check for the group.

 

Photos Courtesy of WBMA TV/ Mayor McCarthy presents check to Director of Bloomfield Municipal Alliance, Pat Marchese, and Police Lt. James Behre, police liaison to the Alliance.

Bethel Church of Praise & Love, on Lawrence St., represented by Bishop Charles Harris and Elder Lewanda provides shelter for animals. Karen Lore and Paul Peikis accepted the check for the group. Bethel Church of Praise & Love, on Lawrence St., represented by Bishop Charles Harris and Elder Lewanda Pleasant, who runs the church’s food bank. They said their emergency food pantry services 22,000 people annually.

The other recipient of the mayor’s Gala proceeds was the Bloomfield Recreation Department, guided by Michael Sceurman. It was allocated $500.

McCarthy said the money will be used to subsidize the registration fees for kids whose families just can’t afford the price of admission to a department-sponsored play program.

“We have an enormous amount of single parents working two jobs a day,” the mayor said.

To accommodate them, the township offers those parents the option of “working the concessions” or putting in time in other ways to help support the recreation program and, in return, their kids are permitted to play, McCarthy said.

However, he added, taking time away from a job can be a luxury that lots of parents find a hardship.

So, to accommodate those hard-luck parents, Sceurman will be given the latitude of stretching the $500 gift to offset the cost of having those parents’ kids participate in a recreation activity instead of sitting, frustrated, on the sidelines, McCarthy said.

Inspiration for organizing the Gala came 11 years ago, right after his first election as mayor, McCarthy said.

“I was mayor maybe 15 minutes and I was beeped there was a fire on Thomas St.,” McCarthy said. Police and firefighters carried out the bodies of two young teens who perished in the smoke and flames and their mother couldn’t pay for their burial, he said.

“I made six phone calls and that got me back over $7,000 to bury those children,” McCarthy recalled. “But then, our police and fire (personnel) got our school kids to throw in nickels and dimes and (from that appeal), $65,000 was raised.”

After seeing the overwhelming generosity of the community, McCarthy said, “Janet (the mayor’s wife) and I decided, ‘We’ve got to have a fund to help people in this town.’ ’’

So, eventually, a board of trustees was formed and community members Marva Hanks, Warren Valentovich, Cathy Loretto, Rosemary Brown, Samantha DePalma and Janet McCarthy volunteered to serve on it.

”And we were successful,” McCarthy said.

The township’s business community also contributed and the mayor credited Investors Bank, PNC Bank, Provident Bank, Excel Credit, Bloomfield BMW and Bloomfield Center Urban Renewal for sharing their resources, along with bond counsel McManimon & Scotland, who set up the group as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, eligible to accept charitable donations.

Already, preparations are under way to repeat the noble experiment.

“The next Mayor’s Gala Ball will be held Oct. 3 at The Manor in West Orange,” McCarthy told the small crowd assembled to celebrate the mission’s culmination last Thursday.

‘Flapjack Fundraiser’ coming to Kearny Applebee’s

By Jeff Bahr

Waves of Health, a charitable organization devoted to helping those in medical need, will be holding a “Flapjack Fundraiser” breakfast on April 1, from 8 to 10 a.m. at the Kearny Applebee’s restaurant, 175 Passaic Ave, spokesman Dan Sheps said. Proceeds will go toward the purchase of medical and health supplies.

For $10, attendees will receive pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs and a beverage. “Enjoy a short stack for a tall cause” reads the advertisement, and a tall cause it is, according to Sheps, who says the idea to help the poor in such a fashion originated with an idea originally put forth by Dr. Clayton Everline, the organization’s founder.

“In 2007, Dr. Everline was in his last year of residency in internal medicine at St. Michael’s Medical Center in Newark when he began to think about bringing medical care to underserved areas,” reads the official bio on the organization’s website. Everline had previously studied in the Caribbean and had been troubled by “the poor medical care (found) in many communities.”

After consulting Monsignor Manuel Cruz, the director of pastoral care at the hospital who himself had an abundance of experience working with the poor, Everline contacted The Sisters of the Heart of Jesus – a clinic based in the rural town of Sabana Grande de Boya in the Dominican Republic – to ask if they needed help. Delighted by his generous offer, the Sisters invited Everline to join them in their work at the clinic.

Realizing that a team of physicians could accomplish more than any single individual could ever hope to, Everline then shared his idea with colleagues at St. Michael’s in hopes that other professionals would join him on his first mission to the Caribbean nation. The gambit worked.

Amongst the first to volunteer was Dr. Humberto Jimenez, a clinical pharmacist whose family hails from the Dominican Republic. The roster would eventually include Dr. Suraj Sagger, an infectious disease specialist who was drawn to the tropical location; medical resident, Dr. Kate Hanify, a St. Michael’s Humanitarian of the Year award winner, and attending physician Dr. Chris Boni.

The newly formed Waves of Health team kicked off its inaugural mission on March 1, 2007, at the Dominican clinic. Armed with their collective expertise and 17 duffel bags chock-full of medications, the team treated hundreds of patients during their two-week stay. Since that time, bi-yearly visits to the Dominican Republic have put countless other needy citizens on the path to health.

While the doctors and other professionals provide their services free-ofcharge, the medical equipment doesn’t come cheap, according to Sheps, and the list of services that the organization provides is evergrowing. This necessitates an even larger infusion of cash for medical and health supplies. Events like the Flapjack Fundraiser help mightily on this front.

In addition to primary care, Waves of Health has now added services such as plastic surgery, OB/ GYN and obstetric surgery, general surgery, anesthesiology, pediatrics, pre-natal care, infectious and tropical disease care, pulmonary and gastroenterological specialties, dermatology, epidemiology, and community studies. They also provide counseling and education for chronic illnesses and help patients learn how to take control of their own health.

Tickets for the Flapjack Fundraiser may be purchased at the door at Applebee’s, at Kearny High School, or at the Waves of Health office at Hudson Internal Medicine, located on the bottom floor of the old West Hudson Hospital, 206 Bergen Ave, Kearny.

‘Civic’-minded out-of-towner charged with car thefts

Photo courtesy Hudson County Sheriff’s Office/ Carlos Lopez

Drivers who park their Honda Civics in Harrison can rest a little easier now that police say they’ve applied the brakes to the habits of at least one suspected car thief.

Carlos Lopez, 38, of Newark, was arrested Feb. 21 at Second St. and Railroad Ave. in connection with the disappearance of at least four Honda Civics over a period of some three weeks.

Three of those missing Civics were later found on the same block (Parker St.) where Lopez lives, according to police.

At the time of his apprehension by Officer Joe Carr, Lopez was checking out cars in a private parking lot. Under the suspect’s jacket, police said they found a small tire iron which, police surmise, Lopez used to break the windows of several vehicles in Harrison that were burglarized over the past few weeks.

Lopez was also recognized by Det. Sgt. Ed Markowski as the same man Markowski observed driving a stolen Honda Civic in town on Jan. 25. Because police hadn’t yet been informed that the vehicle had been reported stolen, Markowski had no reason to stop the driver at the time he saw the vehicle.

Lopez was charged with possession of burglary tools (the tire iron) and receiving stolen property (the Civic stolen Jan. 25).

Police additionally charged Lopez with the theft of the Civics that police recovered from Newark: a 2000 Civic reported stolen Dec. 31 and recovered Jan. 5; another 2000 Civic stolen Feb. 7 and recovered Feb. 15; and a 1999 Civic stolen Feb. 17 and recovered Feb. 21.

Police believe that Lopez simply took the cars for joyrides rather than with any intent to strip them and sell the parts.

Lopez could be in deeper trouble since, at the time of his arrest, he was on parole from having served time in prison for burglary offenses. State Dept. of Corrections records show that Lopez was convicted in February 2010, sentenced in May 2010 and released Nov. 10, 2011.

Lopez is now in Hudson County Jail, Kearny, awaiting court action on his most recent criminal charges.

Meanwhile, Honda Civics continue to be targeted by burglars.

On Feb. 20, a Civic parked on Sussex St. under Rt. 280 was broken into and a GPS unit taken and a 1999 Civic parked in the municipal lot on Essex St. was forcibly entered and its ignition was damaged in an apparent effort by the burglar to steal the vehicle, police said.

And on Feb. 17, police said someone broke into a 2004 Civic while it was parked on Sussex St. beneath Rt. 280 and took a portable GPS unit and assorted Chinese currency.

In other incidents logged by Harrison Police over the past week:

Feb. 21

Police arrested Alexander Harkes, 27, of Kearny, after he was reported shoplifting items from a Frank Rodgers Blvd. pharmacy. Harkes also was wanted on an outstanding warrant issued by the Hudson County Sheriff ’s Dept. He was turned over to the sheriff ’s office for incarceration.

Jose Dones, 37, of Hoboken, was arrested at Second and Essex Sts. on an outstanding Hoboken warrant and was turned over to Hoboken P.D. after failing to post $2,000 bail.

Saqib Perwaiz, 24, of Harrison, was arrested at Second and Warren Sts. on an outstanding North Arlington warrant. He was freed after posting $500 bail.

Feb. 20

A homeless man, identified by police as David Jackson, 49, who witnesses said was begging for money near Roosevelt Park, was arrested on an outstanding warrant from Newark. He was released by Newark P.D. shortly afterward. He’d been previously busted for disorderly conduct on Feb. 16 after police said he was yelling, tearing papers off a wall and smashing a bottle in Holy Cross Church. For those actions, he was issued a summons and released.

Feb. 18

Police stopped a vehicle operated by Charles Huntley, 35, of East Newark, after the driver allegedly made an improper turn onto Cleveland Ave. from Rt. 280. After learning that Huntley had outstanding traffic warrants from Newark, police arrested him on the warrants, ticketed him for the motor vehicle infraction and freed him after he posted $250 bail.

An intruder broke into a 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 while it was parked overnight on Passaic Ave. and removed the ignition in an apparent attempt to steal the vehicle.

Two vehicles parked in the 200 block of Sussex St. and four vehicles parked in the 200 block of Warren St. were broken into while parked overnight.

Feb. 17

Someone shoplifted about 16 cans of Red Bull energy drink from a Harrison Ave. gas station and then fled on a bicycle over the Bridge St. Bridge into Newark.

A 2004 Honda Accord was broken into while it was parked on Warren St. under Rt. 280. Police were uncertain whether anything had been stolen.

Feb. 16

An intruder forced open the door to a third-floor apartment on Central Ave. and, during an investigation of the burglary, police arrested Jonathan Perez, 20, a second-floor resident, for an outstanding Harrison warrant. Perez posted bail and was released.

– Ron Leir

A WORD WITH THE PUBLISHER: Don’t let image control you

publisher@theobserver.com

 

By Lisa Pezzolla

Summer seems to be approaching us faster, since we have had warm days and the pleasure of not dealing with the ice cold. Anticipating swimsuit season becomes a dreadful experience when we realize we’ve allowed the winter blues to get the better of us. We kick up our exercise routine, eat lots of salads and look in the mirror in horror as we pinch and suck in as we try to get rid of the unwanted inches.

Unfortunately, the covers of magazines and the catwalk show models at an unrealistic weight giving woman and young ladies an image that skinny is sexy. I was amazed to hear that this newest craze is evident among young boys, to the point of anorexia, ending in death. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, at least one million males in the United States are battling anorexia or bulimia. Since it is such a new phase, statistics may not be correct since boys are embarrassed to admit it. What viewers don’t realize is airbrushing and lighting are magnificent tools that are used to simulate perfection.

This controversy about body image image is a serious problem and can affect your health and well being. Over the years the pressures of the models have also caused young people to turn to drugs and eating disorders which can end in death. Eating healthy and exercise should be balanced – not taken to the extreme where it consumes your well-being.

Possible carjacking thwarted; cops issue alert

 

2003 Subaru Impreza similar to the one still missing

Police are urging residents to be wary of criminals attempting to exercise what Chief John Dowie characterized as “bump and rob” attacks on drivers.

At 8 p.m. on Feb 19, a Kearny woman operating a vehicle southbound on Ivy St. was struck by what appeared to be a Suburu near the King St. intersection after she’d stopped at the stop sign. The woman then exited her car to assess the damage and exchange information with the other driver.

At that time, the other driver emerged wearing a black ski mask and brandishing a handgun, threw her to the ground and demanded the keys to her car. An accomplice, also masked and armed with a black revolver, exited the Suburu and the pair tried to remove the woman’s 8-year-old son from her vehicle, but eventually gave up and sped off in the Suburu.

Police said the woman managed to recompose herself and called Kearny Police. Officer Brian Wisely was the first to respond, followed by Dets. Ray Lopez and John Telle. After getting a description of the suspects’ vehicle, they learned that a vehicle of similar description had been involved in crimes in Seacaucus, Lyndhurst, and North Arlington. That car is described as a Silver 2003 Suburu Impreza and it is believed it could still be in the hands of criminals.

Dowie cautioned residents to be alert for drivers using a strategy similar to that employed by the two gunmen. “They want your car when the motor’s running because it’s easier to steal that way,” he said. “Parked cars – especially the newer models – can be hard to start.”

Drivers who’ve stopped for a light or stop sign should exercise caution when dealing with a driver bumping the rear of their car. “If you don’t feel right about it, don’t exchange information until the police get there. If you are confronted where you are obligated to comply, turn over your stuff, we don’t want to see anyone get hurt. Try to get a description, license plate and a direction of flight if possible and call the police. Don’t try to be a hero,” Dowie said.

In other criminal activities logged the past week by Kearny Police:

On Friday Feb. 17, Officer James Mackintosh reported to the 200 block of Hickory St. in response to a burglary at a residence. The burglers broke in through a window off an enclosed porch. An investigation culminated on Feb. 23 when Kearny Police arrested brothers William and Scott McCurley, 27 and 31, respectively. Both Kearny residents were charged with burglary, theft, and conspiracy.

Shortly before 1 p.m. the following day, Officer Chris Levchak was on patrol on Wilson Ave. and observed a 26-year-old Kearny resident sitting on a lawn drinking a can of Natural Ice beer. Levchak approached the individual to take the beer from him, but the individual would not release it and became combative, looking to fight Levchak. After refusing to calm down, he had to be taken to the ground and handcuffed. The man, 26-year-old Sidnei Antunes, was given a town ordinance for drinking in public and was additionally charged with disorderly conduct.

Later that day, Officers John Fabula and Patrick Walsh responded to a report of a fight involving weapons by N. Midland Ave. near the railroad overpass. When they arrived, they found three males armed with baseball bats and nunchucks. After seeing the officers, the individuals attempted to discard the weapons. They were eventually rounded up and detained. Police said the trio told them they’d been throwing rocks down onto vehicles from the Newark side of the bridge but were scared off and crossed to Kearny.  All three were placed under arrest and charged with possession of weapons for unlawful purpose and defiant trespass. They were listed as David Fuentes, 18, of Newark, and two juveniles, 15 and 17, also of Newark.

On Feb. 19 around 3:30 a.m., Officers Luis Moran and Tom Sumowski were on patrol at Passaic Ave. and Belleville Turnpike when they spotted a vehicle that, when the light turned green, sped away from the light with tires squealing and traveling at a high rate of speed. The officers attempted to stop the vehicle, but the vehicle continued to accelerate.

They followed the vehicle to the Manor section where the driver pulled into a driveway and ran into a residence. The officers woke the residents of the home and demanded the individual come to the door and account for his actions. When the man came out, police said they detected an odor of alcohol on his breath and placed him under arrest. The man, 32-year-old Kearny resident Nicolas Lozito, was charged with resisting arrest by flight, driving while intoxicated, eluding an officer, and careless driving.

On Feb 21 at 1 p.m., Det Mike Gonzalez went to a Chestnut St. location to check out the report of an intruder kicking in the door of an apartment in a two-family house, ransacking the apartment and threatening the occupant before leaving. After questioning the occupant, detectives located and arrested Andrew Polanco, 22, of Kearny, and charged him with burglary and conspiracy. Polanco was taken to the Hudson County Jail, Kearny, with bail set at $25,000.

On Feb. 23, Officer Pat Sawyer observed a vehicle fitting a description broadcast by North Arlington Police linked to an individual who had reportedly fled a domestic violence scene. Sawyer observed the vehicle in the 300 block of Belgrove Drive operating at a high rate of speed. Sawyer conducted a motor vehicle stop at Belgrove Drive and Halstead Ave. and, after confirming the driver was the man sought by North Arlington Police, placed him under arrest. He was taken to North Arlington Police Department Headquarters where he was also given a summons for careless driving.

– Anthony J. Machcinski

Around Town

Belleville
The Belleville ASA (Amateur Softball Association) announced today that they will be conducting classes during the month of March to prepare for the National ASA Softball Test.   Classes will meet every Wednesday at 7 p.m., beginning March 7.  The class will meet at the Belleville Recreation Department, 407 Joralemon St., Belleville.  The test will be given on April 4.  Passing the test and joining a local ASA association are all that is necessary to begin umpiring both fast and slow-pitch ASA games.  The cost for the class and taking the test is $50. For further information, contact Steve Glassman at (973) 714 – 3060 or Leeglass@aol.com

Bloomfield
The Bloomfield Public Library is pleased to announce the formation of a Financial Book Club, which will meet on the first Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m., beginning March 6.

The first topic of discussion will be “The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas Stanley and William Danko.

For further 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.
Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center, 240 Belleville Ave., Bloomfield announces the following events for children: Lunch with the Leprechaun will be held on Saturday, March 10, at noon. Children ages 3 to 9 will participate in arts and crafts and enjoy mini-reubens, drinks and dessert and learn some Irish dance steps. Reservations are required. Cost is $15 per person. Call 973-429-0960 to reserve your spot! No exchanges or refunds.

Brunch with the Easter Bunny will be held at Oakeside on Saturday, March 31. Children ages 3 to 9 participate in arts and crafts, receive a framed picture with the Bunny, receive a balloon and a special. There are two seatings: 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Cost is $15 per child and $12 per adult. Reservations are required. Call 973-429-0960 to reserve your spot.

No exchanges or refunds.

Harrison
An informational program on the proposed interstate route 280 ramp improvements study is scheduled for Thursday, March 1, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Harrison Town Hall, second floor, 318 Harrison Ave. This program is open to the public.

Harrison Recreation is holding baseball registrations until March 9 at the Harrison Community Center for ages 5 to 13 (cannot turn 13 before May 1). Any questions, call the Community Center 973-268-2469.

Kearny
The Scots American Club of Kearny, 40 Patterson St., will hold a general membership meeting on March 4, at 3 p.m.

St. Cecilia Church presents: “Wine & Cheese” Tricky Tray on Saturday, March 10, to be held at St. Cecilia’s School building, 114 Chestnut St., Kearny. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., calling begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 per person (Includes: Admission, 25 small tickets, cheese & crackers, coffee/dessert) Cash bar-wine, beer & refreshments.
All proceeds will help support the school’s youth group and CCD program. For more information, call 201-991-1116.

Cecilian Seniors announce a trip to Resorts Casino in Atlantic City on March 14. The bus will leave at 9:30 a.m. from the front of St. Cecilia’s Church, Kearny. If interested, call Johnnie B. at 201-997-9552 between 6 to 9 p.m. A trip to Wildwood is also scheduled from Sept. 9 to 13.

Kearny UNICO will hold its next monthly membership meeting on Thursday, March 8, 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 always welcome.

Kearny Public School will hold pre-k and kindergarten registration for the 2012-2012 school year. Registration is a two-step process. Proof of residency/registration will be held at Kearny High School and will be by last name: Pre-k – March 8 to 15 and kindergarten March 16 to 23. Log onto www.kearnyschools.com for complete details.

West Hudson Arts and Theater Company will present “Love Letters,” featuring the talents of Jim Hague and Mary Costello, at the Arlington Players Club, 12 Washington Place, Kearny, on Friday, Marcy 9, at 7:30 p.m. and on Saturday, March 10, at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20. Visit www.whatco.org or call 201-467-8624.

All members of the community are invited to attend a free, bilingual blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol screening sponsored by Trinity Episcopal Church, 575 Kearny Ave., Kearny, on Saturday, March 10,  from 10 a.m. to  noon.

Nurses will provide individual health counseling to each person.  It’s recommended that attendees refrain from eating for two hours prior to the cholesterol screenings for best results, but its not absolutely necessary.

Screenings are conducted in English and Spanish.  Childcare is provided for those who need it free of charge.

For more information, please call the church office at 201-991-5894.

Trinity Episcopal Church, 575 Kearny Ave., Kearny, will hold a flea market on Saturday, March 10,  from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Tables are still available at a cost of $15 each or two for $25. For more information, please call the church office at 201-991-5894.

Lyndhurst
The Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst, member of the GFWC/NJSFWC, will sponsor a program to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday as part of the of the National Education Association’s Read Across America program on March 1 at Lyndhurst Public Library. Past Club President Annette Bortone will read to children at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Lyndhurst Historical Society will host a program, “The Lies of the Civil War” to be presented by historian Bill Gent at the American Legion Post 139, 217 Webster Ave., Lyndhurst, on March 21 at 7 p.m. Admission is free. Light refreshments will follow. For more information, call 201-939-7972.

Lyndhurst VFW Post 3549 is now hosting Zumba fitness classes on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 7 to 8 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to noon. Zumba toning with light weights is held on Fridays from 6 to 7 p.m.  For more information, call Caroline at 917-517-1138 or Paulette 201-759-3440 or email vfw@aol.com.

Meadowlands Environment Center presents Days of Art-Making, DeKorte Park Plaza, Lyndhurst, on Saturdays March 3 and 10 (Same classes repeat each day):  Drawing Nature will be held from 9 a.m. to noon. Fee: $30, supplies included. Watercolor Painting will be held from 1 to 4 p.m.  Fee: $35 including supplies; $25 if you bring your own paints and watercolor paper. Discount: Sign up for both sets of classes for $60 with paint supplies or $50 with your own supplies. Bring your own supplies, or we’ll supply them.  And don’t forget to bring your lunch! For more information, 201-460-8300 or visit njmeadowlands.gov/ec

First-Sunday-of-the Month Walk with the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and the Bergen County Audubon Society commences on Sunday, March 4, 10 a.m. This free two-hour walk of Mill Creek Marsh in Secaucus features raptors, waterfowl and early spring migrants. The group will meet at the marsh entrance at 10 a.m. (directions are on meadowblog.net in the left-hand column), or you can also meet us at the visitors’ parking lot at DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst by 9:20 a.m. to carpool. Check meadowblog.net for last-minute weather updates. You will have to sign a standard liability release that is good for NJMC/BCAS events throughout the year. To R.S.V.P., contact Don Torino of the BCAS at greatauk4@aol.com or 201-230-4983.

On Tuesday, March 26, starting at 2:30 p.m., a veterans ward party will be held at Chestnut Hill Extended Care Facility, Passaic. The party will be sponsored by Mary Ellen O’Connor in memory of her father James and her mother Ellen.
Games of chance will be played and distribution of refreshments will include those bedridden and restricted from the party. For more information on how you can help please call American Legion Post 139, Rehabilitation Committee, Lyndhurst, 201-438-2255.

The Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst announces its annual fundraiser, “Spring Into Fashion” Sunday brunch and fashion show, on Sunday, April 15, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at The Graycliff, 122 Moonachie Ave., Moonachie. There will also be a tricky tray and a 50/50 raffle. Tickets are $35. For tickets, please call Rosemary at 201-935-4836 or Marge at 201-694-5976. No tickets will be sold at the door.

The Lyndhurst Health Department will hold a Food for Thought Forum hosted by Clara Maass Medical Center.  Annette Cozzarelli, M.D., Medical Director of Women’s Health at CMMC, along with a Gastro intestinal specialist, will be available to discuss and answer questions related to gastro intestinal illness, upset stomach, and the importance of regular cancer screenings. The forum takes places Wednesday, March 21, at 5:30 p.m. at the Lyndhurst Health Department. Dinner will be served. Please call 201-804-2500 to reserve a seat.

North Arlington
The American Legion Alexander Stover Post 37, 222 River Road, North Arlington, will meet on Monday, March 5, at 8 p.m. All veterans are welcome. For more information, call 201-214-8253.

Nutley
Wednesday Afternoon Knitting Club will meets every Wednesday at Nutley Public Library, from 1 to 3 p.m. Come share your love of knitting and crocheting with both beginning and experienced knitters. Meet fellow knitters, brush-up on your skills, and learn some new techniques. Please bring your own supplies.

Daphne Oz, author of “The Dorm Room Diet,” will discuss and sign her newest novel at the library on Thursday, March 8, at 7 p.m.

A Teen Video Game Tourney will be held on Friday, March 9 and 23, at 3 p.m. Play Wii, Xbox or bring your DS to play each other.

A reception for Maria LaBadia, recently appointed as the Nutley Public Library director, will be held on Tuesday, March 6, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Stockton Room at the library. The event is being sponsored by the library’s Board of Directors and the Friends of the Nutley Public Library and is open to the public.

While she will be new to the director’s position, LaBadia is not new to Nutley. She has been a resident for nine years and both of her children are graduates of Nutley High School.

Queen of Peace’s indoor track team of two

Photo by Jim Hague/ Catherine “Kas” Rozalski (left) and her older sister, Michelle (right) both won medals recently at the NJSIAA Non-Public B state sectional championships in the pole vault, representing Queen of Peace, where they both attend. The sisters comprise the entire QP track team.

Rozalski sisters earn medals in the pole vault at NJSIAA state meet

 

By Jim Hague

The pole vault has almost become a rite of passage in the Rozalski household in Kearny.

First, Ziggy and Ann’s eldest daughter, Stephanie, took a liking to the sport a few years ago and eventually became a high school state sectional champion at Queen of Peace during her senior year.

Stephanie Rozalski, who still competes in the pole vault, is finishing up her undergraduate studies at Seton Hall before hoping to head off to law school.
Younger sister Michelle watched what Stephanie accomplished in the pole vault and decided that’s what she wanted to do as well.

“She was always talking about it and I saw how much fun she had doing it,” Michelle Rozalski said. “I just liked fooling around with it, but as I practiced more, I progressed. I wasn’t afraid at all, because I had been involved with gymnastics all my life.”

So when Michelle Rozalski enrolled at Queen of Peace two years ago, she decided to join her older sister in training in the pole vault.

“Stephanie taught me everything,” Michelle Rozalski said. “She taught me drills and worked with me.”

The sisters also traveled to Apex Vaulting in Oakland to work with respected instructor Branko Miric.

“It was hard at first,” Michelle Rozalski said. “In the beginning, it was very frustrating, because I would see everyone jumping over the bar, see everyone clearing and I was barely getting onto the mat.”

But Michelle was determined to becoming successful in the pole vault.

“I set my goal and I knew it was what I wanted to do,” Michelle Rozalski said. “Once it clicked in, it became a lot easier.”

In her first-ever varsity meet for Queen of Peace, Michelle Rozalski cleared 8-feet, 6-inches and won a gold medal.

“That’s when I said, `Hey, I can do this,’” Michelle Rozalski said.

Enter the youngest of the Rozalski sisters, Catherine, who prefers to go by the name of “Kas,” or “Kasia.” Kas Rozalski enrolled at QP last September as a freshman.

Considering the fact that both of her older sisters were deeply involved with the pole vault, Kas Rozalski figured that she had to join in.

“It was like a family thing that I had to do,” said Kas Rozalski, who is still an active gymnast with the Sunburst Gymnastic Club of Union. “I wanted to do it like my sisters.”

“I pulled her in,” Michelle laughed.

The youngest Rozalski sister didn’t know if she could handle the pole vault.

“At first, I looked up at the bars and saw that I had to go upside down,” Kas Rozalski said. “I thought I was going to die. But once you do it, it’s not so bad.”

However, there was the idea of being the third in a family lineage.

“Sure, there was pressure,” Kas Rozalski said. “What if I was terrible at it? I didn’t want to be the schmuck of the family.”

However, Kas also found instant success. In her very first meet this indoor season, Kas cleared 8-feet, 6-inches, just like her older sister did in her debut two years ago.

There was only one other obstacle that the Rozalski sisters had to overcome during the indoor track season. Queen of Peace doesn’t have a team. The team right now consists of just the two pole vaulting Rozalski sisters.

“We’re like Team Rozalski,” Michelle said.

Queen of Peace athletic director John Ahmuty was able to enter the sisters in a handful of meets. They combined to win the Bergen County Relays championship in the pole vault.

On Feb. 17, the two sisters traveled to the NJSIAA Non-Public B state sectional championships at the Bennett Center in Toms River.

At the meet, junior Michelle finished second overall and younger sister Kas finished fifth. They both earned medals and earned berths to compete at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions, which took place Saturday, also at the Bennett Center.

At the M of C, the sisters fittingly ended up in a tie for 15th place overall, both clearing the bar at 10 feet even. It was a personal best for Kas, with Michelle, battling a shoulder injury, not getting able to clear her prior best at 10-6.

“I’m really happy that we both did well,” Michelle said. “I wasn’t in my best form, but Kas was jacked. I was happy for her.”

“I really didn’t understand it was such a big meet,” Kas said. “But I guess it was, especially when everyone made a big deal about it.”

And the two Rozalski sisters, comprising the entire indoor track and field team at Queen of Peace, were able to share the moment together, tied for 15th overall in the entire state.

So is there any competition between the two sisters?

“I expect her to do well,” Michelle said. “I want her to do well.”

“I just don’t want her to get mad at me if I get better,” Kas said. “But it really doesn’t matter. I don’t think there’s any competition between us.”

But both younger sisters want to someday be better than the trendsetting older sister.

“Yeah, that’s the goal,” Michelle said about someday being better than Stephanie. “My goal is to be as good as her. If I can be better, that’s great.”

Stephanie Rozalski, who has cleared 12-9 in recent open invitational meets, said that her sisters are a driving force for her.

“I really think they motivate me to be better,” Stephanie Rozalski said. “I don’t want them to pass me, but eventually, they will. It’s fun practicing and working with them. It gives us all something to do together.”

And it’s just the start. After all, outdoor season will begin shortly, soon after Michelle Rozalski competes in the Eastern States Invitational this week at the 168th Street Armory in New York.

“It should be good,” Michelle Rozalski said. “I see how hard Stephanie works and tries and it motivates me.”

As for the youngest?

“I just want to try to keep getting better,” Kas Rozalski said.

One sister raised the bar – literally – and it’s up to the other two to get over that bar.

Bloomfield police blotter

Feb. 20

Two residents in the 200 block of Davey St. reported that their garages had been broken into. One reported a 2003 motorcycle and assorted construction equipment missing from his garage; the other told police that electronic equipment that he used as a DJ was missing, as was his 2008 Kawasaki motorcycle. Police are investigating.

A 2001 Dodge from the 100 block of Morse Ave. was reported stolen.

Feb. 19

Someone forced open an entry door at an office located in the 500 block of Bloomfield Ave. and ransacked the premises. Nothing was reported missing.

Feb. 18

Two men told police they were approached by a duo with a handgun near the railroad tracks at Orchard St. One of the men told police that two black males approached him and his friend. As one pointed a handgun at him, the other proceeded to physically assault his buddy and took his sneakers, a Metro PCS phone and a gym bag with wrestling gear. Police are investigating.

A Grove St. resident reported that her storage locker was broken into and various items were missing from it. Gone were two 32- inch Toshiba televisions, a Kodak digital camera, and a pair of Timberland boots.

A resident told police that someone removed a black Columbia jacket from her dormitory room in the 400 block of Franklin St. Police said they found no sign of forced entry.

A 2003 Toyota was reported stolen from Clarendon Pl.

Two vehicles parked on Davey St. were vandalized. A 2004 Honda and a 1998 Honda each sustained damage to the roof and windshield.

Feb. 17

A woman told police that a black male dressed in dark clothing snatched her pocketbook from her shoulder as she was walking near the 200 block of Glenwood Ave. The thief fled south on Glenwood Ave.

A Carteret St. storeowner told police that $25 worth of Star Ledger newspapers had been taken from the front of his shop.

A 2003 Volvo tractor and trailer was reported stolen from Franklin St.

Feb. 16

A woman stated that she left her residence in the 100 block of Stone St. on Feb. 13 and when she returned on Feb. 16, she noticed that her side door had been forced open. Nothing appeared to be missing, she noted.

A resident reported the theft of a Nintendo DS game system, bath supplies and miscellaneous items from the 100 block of Thomas St. There was no sign of forced entry, police said.

Feb. 15

A botched home invasion on the 100 block of Bolten Pl. and the subsequent arrest of two suspects. Two black males reportedly forced their way into the residence as one of the occupants was going way out, police said. After assaulting the resident, the intruders ran out the front door, then ran through the rear yard toward the adjacent power lines. Nothing was reported missing. At press time, the investigation had resulted in the arrest of Darren Lewis of Carteret on charges of robbery (home invasion), burglary, criminal restraint and conspiracy and the seizure of one vehicle, according to police spokesman Capt. Joseph Polido. The investigation is ongoing and additional arrests are anticipated.

A rear window was broken and assorted tools were taken from a 2010 Chevrolet parked in the 100 block of Bloomfield Ave.

– Jeff Bahr

Social Security gets adjusted

By Randy Neumann

Over the many years that I have been presenting retirement seminars at Bergen Community College and the Ridgewood Public Library, I have learned that most people cannot get enough of Social Security information. Therefore, I always make sure I have a Social Security expert on hand. Last month was no exception. We had a large turnout at the Ridgewood Library and our guest speaker was from BlackRock, the largest investment company in the world that sponsors a cadre of SS specialists who make presentations to the public. During his presentation, he mentioned that there would be an important update regarding Social Security. Here it is:

The Social Security Administration announced in a press release last October, the first Cost-of-Living Adjustment since 2009.

“Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 60 million Americans will increase 3.6 percent in 2012, the Social Security Administration announced today. The 3.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that nearly 55 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2012. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 30, 2011.”

That’s the good news.

The bad news is, “Some other changes that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $110,100 from $106,800. Of the estimated 161 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2012, about 10 million will pay higher taxes as a result of the increase in the taxable maximum.”

Now, for an interesting tidbit. I recently discovered, while working with a new client that once you reach full retirement age (66 for us baby boomers), if you have children below the age of 18, they are entitled to one-half of your monthly retirement benefit until they reach age 18. Additionally, if they are full-time students, they can collect until they become 19.

Further, benefits paid to your child will not decrease your retirement benefit. In fact, the value of the benefits he or she may receive, added to your own, may help you decide if taking benefits sooner may be more advantageous.

Within your family, each qualified child may receive a monthly payment of up to one-half of your full retirement benefit amount. However, there is a limit to the amount that your family can collect. Totals vary, but, generally, the total amount you and your family can receive is about 150 to 180 percent of your full retirement benefit.

When you qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, your children may also qualify to receive benefits on your record. Your eligible child can be your biological child, adopted child or stepchild. A dependent grandchild may also qualify.

To receive benefits, the child must: ·

Be unmarried; and

· Be under age 18; or

· Be 18-19 years old and a full-time student (no higher than grade 12); or ·

Be 18 or older and disabled from a disability that started before age 22.

A detailed review of the changes made by the new cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) including estimated average monthly Social Security benefits payable in January 2012:

All retired workers: $1,186 before 3.6 percent COLA; $1,229 after 3.6 percent COLA.

Aged couples, both receiving benefits: $1,925 before 3.6 percent COLA; $19,994 after 3.6 percent COLA.

Widowed mother and 2 children: $2,455 before 3.6 percent COLA; $2,543 after 3.6 percent COLA.

Aged widow(er) alone: $1,143 before 3.6 COLA; $1,184 after 3.6 percent COLA.

Disabled worker, spouse and one or more children: $1,826 before 3.6 percent COLA; $1,992 after 3.6 COLA.

All disabled workers: $1,072 before 3.60 percent COLA; $1,111 after 3.6 percent COLA.

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 (R) is a registered representative with securities and insurance offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC. He can be reached at 600 East Crescent Ave., Upper Saddle River 201-291-9000.