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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.

Death knell for Catholic education in W. Hudson?

 

Photo by Anthony J. Machcinski/ Mater Dei Academy has announced it will close at the end of this school year.

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Thus, it becomes our sad duty to inform you that the Archdiocese of Newark has concluded that Mater Dei Academy will cease operations at the end of the current academic year.”

This statement, from a letter to parents of Mater Dei school children, conveyed the grim news that their children would be unable to attend the school next year.

“I was shocked,” said one parent of a seventh-grader who requested anonymity. “My child was upset. He wanted to graduate with his classmates.”

The school, which was created three years ago with the merger of St. Stephen’s in Kearny and Holy Cross in Harrison. According to Archdiocesan spokesman Jim Goodness, the decision had been finalized by the Archdiocese within the last month and communicated to the administration at the school.

In the letter sent to parents, Pastoral Administrator Rev. Michael G. Ward, V.F., and Principal Deborah DeMattia, wrote: “Unfortunately, due to our poor economy, competition from charter schools and other factors, enrollment has continued to decline, not just at Mater Dei, but other area schools as well. The financial stability of the Academy has become unsustainable. We believe these trends will continue for the near future, thus making it necessary to significantly increase tuition. We all know that such an increase would be prohibitive for you.”

Goodness echoed the letter’s dire forecast.

“You’re looking at a decline in enrollment over the three years of about 80 students,” Goodness said. “It opened up in 2009-2010 and had 250 students and this year there are only 170…Having said that, the next step would have been to look at an increase in tuition in the per student charges in the school…It creates an excessive burden and would have made continuing prohibitive.”

Nonetheless, parents are doing everything in their power to keep the school open.

“We made $86,000 in fundraising alone last year,” said Cindy Schirm, a school board member the past two years whose daughter – at this point – figures to be in Mater Dei’s final graduating class. And some parents have begun a petition drive in hopes of keeping the school open.

Others, however, have already started planning for their children’s education in a post-Mater Dei universe.

“I’m most likely going to put them in Queen of Peace,” said Adriana Anders, a mother who currently has a third- and sixth-grader in Mater Dei and another child currently in Queen of Peace High School. “I can’t put them in public school because they would have to go to three different schools (based on Anders’ residence).”

In an effort to address parents’ concerns about where their children can go next school year, Goodness says the Archdiocese has something already in the works.

“What will be happening is parents will have an opportunity to meet with schools in a much higher position in terms of numbers and be able to transition into another school for September,” Goodness said. He was unsure when these meetings would take place.

While many students were upset about the school’s closing and not having the opportunity to graduate with many of their friends, they were unhappy for their teachers, who according to parents, created a “family-like” atmosphere.

“(My son) enjoyed going to school with the teachers,” explained the anonymous parent. “They made it more of a family place.”

Teachers, who will lose their jobs at Mater Dei, will have the opportunity, according to Goodness, to apply for jobs inside the archdiocese.

“They can apply for any open position in the archdiocese,” Goodness explained. “However, should a job not be available, there is a severance program in place for those teachers. That’s all something we discussed through human resources. Some of that has already started.”

The demise of Mater Dei would mark the closing of the last Catholic school in West Hudson, since the merger of St. Stephen’s and Holy Cross in September 2009

News in brief

KEARNY –

Real-life spouses Mary Costello and Jim Hague will share the stage in the West Hudson Arts & Theater Company’s production of A.R. Gurney’s play, “Love Letters.”

Performances are Friday, March 9, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 10, at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m., at the Arlington Players Club, 12 Washington Place. Tickets are $20.

In the play, Costello portrays an artist, Melissa Gardner, and Hague is cast as an attorney, Andrew Makepeace Ladd III, who begin a longterm correspondence as second-grade classmates and continue – even as they lead separate lives – for a halfcentury.

Both Costello and Hague said they welcomed a chance to participate with W.H.A.T. in helping revitalize the performing arts in the region.

Costello, a Kearny resident who was raised in Harrison, is a Hudson County Superior Court judge. In her only prior acting experience, she played a judge in a 2008 Attic Ensemble production of “Night of January 16th.”

Several years ago, Costello saw “Love Letters” performed at the Attic Ensemble by her current director, Mark Morchel, and Joanne Smith. “I was one of many wiping tears away. I think if you can watch (the play) and not be moved – either to laughter or tears – because there are also lighthearted moments in the play – there’s something wrong with you,” Costello said.

And “Love Letters” resonates personally with Costello for another reason. “It’s a play about two people who love each other – and that’s us – Jim and I – so it’s not too big a stretch,” she says.

Hague, a sportswriter for The Observer and for other papers, said he relates well to one of the show’s themes, a faithful partnership kept alive by the couple’s exchange of the written word.

Elaborating, Hague said that in the play, his character explains his preference for writing rather than telephoning is based on the fact that, “letters are more personal, part of your personality, which is what writing is all about and, as a writer myself, I can relate to that.”

Picking up on that notion, Costello says she finds relevance to today’s technologypaced word. “These days, everybody’s texting, blogging, calling each other on the cell phone,” she says. “(Jim and I) are guilty of it, too.”

Hague’s prior stage experience includes two stints as Norman Bulansky in “The Boys Next Door” in 1991 and 1993. He also played legendary Mayor Frank Hague in “The Chase and Sanborn Mystery Hour” for the Attic in 1994.

“I’m excited about this new venture,” Hague said. “It’s huge to have theater out here. I’m all for it.”

And, he confesses, it could have something to do with the fact that “I’m a huge ham.”

JERSEY CITY –

Carlos Campos, the accused killer of his parents and niece in Harrison last summer, was arraigned last Tuesday, Feb. 21, before Hudson County Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Arre, sitting in Jersey City.

Campos’ court-appointed lawyer, Hudson County Dep. Public Defender Joseph Russo, told the court he hadn’t yet received all the discovery he’d requested from the state’s representative, Asst. Hudson County Prosecutor Michael D’Andrea.

“And some if it is not readable,” Russo added.

D’Andrea, meanwhile, advised the judge that he had made “no offer at this time” for plea bargaining the case.

D’Andrea said he’d be filing an application for a “forensic examination” of the defendant which, he added, would include a request for a “bite mark.” Later, outside court, the assistant prosecutor declined to elaborate.

Campos is charged with murdering his parents, Carlos A. Campos-Trinidad, 57, and Ruth Pereira, 58, and his 3-year-old niece, Gabriella Morales, Aug. 16, 2011, at the family home on Hamilton Street.

Campos, who remains in Hudson County Jail, Kearny, on $1 million bail, is due back in court Sept. 10.

-Ron Leir

HOME PARISH PLANS ‘4 CHAPLAINS’ TRIBUTE

Photo by Anthony J. Machcinski; sketch & portrait of Rev. John Washington courtesy St. Stephen’s Parish/ THE REV. JOSEPH MANCINI STANDS IN SPACE RESERVED FOR “FOUR CHAPLAINS” MONUMENT, REPRESENTED, PARTLY, BY SKETCH AT LEFT. INSET, AT RIGHT, A PHOTO OF THE REV. JOHN P. WASHINGTON, ONE OF THE HERO CHAPLAINS.

 

By Ron Leir

KEARNY –

For many years, St. Stephen’s Church in Kearny has offered a special Mass in February dedicated to the parish’s former curate, the Rev. John P. Washington, one of the “Four Chaplains” who gave their lifejackets to others during the sinking of the USAT Dorchester in the North Atlantic on Feb. 3, 1943, by a German U-boat.

With the 70th anniversary of the chaplains’ deaths to be observed next year, St. Stephens’ parish will be raising money for the design and construction of a monument honoring Rev. Washington and his colleagues.

Together with Rev. Washington, the other chaplains ship were the Rev. George L. Fox, a Methodist; Rabbi Alexander D. Goode; and the Rev. Clark V. Poling, of the Reformed Church of America.

John DelMonaco, president of the parish council, said that St. Stephens pastor, the Rev. Joseph Mancini, came to the council with the proposal “and we were very impressed and excited about it. We recommended that he proceed.”

The ambitious plan was disclosed to St. Stephens’ parishioners at the Mass honoring Rev. Washington earlier this month.

DelMonaco said that the monument project was being undertaken, not only for the local parish but also for the Town of Kearny and the larger community “to recognize the bravery and heroism of Father Washington and the other chaplains on the Dorchester … and to remind us of the sacrifices those in the armed services today make for all of us.”

“It is our intention to finish the project and have its dedication in time for next year’s Mass,” DelMonaco said.

John P. Washington was born July 18, 1908, in the Roseville section of Newark, the first child of Frank and Mary Washington. Six more siblings followed. The family’s home parish was St. Rose of Lima where young John served as an altar boy and, early on, aspired to the priesthood.

After graduating from Seton Hall College in South Orange in 1931, Washington entered the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Darlington, became a deacon in 1934 and a priest in 1935. He was assigned, initially, to St. Genevieve’s in Elizabeth and then to St. Venantius in Orange before arriving at St. Stephen’s in 1937 as the parish was in the process of relocating from Midland Ave. to Washington Ave.

St. Stephen’s parish trustee, retired Municipal Court Judge John McLaughlin, says he was in kindergarten or first grade at the time and he recalls that, “Father Washington used to take the altar boys and various classes from school to Bertrand’s Island, an amusement area in Lake Hopatcong. I went. He was pretty good at working with kids.”

Parishioner Paul Shalvoy, one of the altar boys who helped Rev. Washington serve Mass at St. Stephen’s, said that when the priest was in charge of the local Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), he arranged to transport a St. Stephen’s youth team to Ruppert Stadium in Newark’s Ironbound area to participate in CYO track meets. “I was in St. Stephen’s grammar school at the time and I ran in the relay races,” Shalvoy recalled. “And I remember that Father Washington bought us hotdogs and sodas and in the late ‘30s, that was a treat. He was a very nice guy.”

Sketch courtesy St. Stephen’s Parish/ A frontal view of the proposed Four Chaplains monument designed by Timothy Schmalz.

Revs. Washington and Byrne used to go house-to-house to take the parish census, McLaughlin recalled.

At St. Stephen’s, Washington developed a reputation as a “forward thinking” cleric, Mancini said. “He integrated public and parochial school children for social gatherings, for example, which was unheard of for that time.”

As the story goes, Mancini said, on Dec. 7, 1941, Washington had taken his mother out to dinner in North Arlington and, on their way back to Kearny, heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was then, Mancini said, that the young priest decided to enlist.

He very nearly didn’t make it.

According to Shalvoy, Washington wanted to go into the Navy but was rejected because of flawed sight in his right eye.

“Well,” Shalvoy said, “one of our other priests, Father Gordon Byrne, who was home on military leave at the time, suggested trying the Army, instead, because they gave the physical in a darkened room and when you read the eye chart, you could hold the card over the same eye for each reading, so that’s what Father Washington did – he covered the same (bad) eye twice” and passed the physical and was appointed an Army chaplain, assigned to the 76th Infantry Div.

On Nov. 13, 1942, Washington was sent to Camp Myles Standish in Taunton, Mass., and on the train ride there, relates St. Stephen’s parishioner Nancy Waller, Washington encountered her husband’s parents who were then enroute to Boston for their honeymoon.

“They were probably the last parishioners to see Father Washington before he shipped out,” Waller said.

It was in New England that Washington made his final stop on the road to war: He went to Military Chaplains School at Harvard where he met Fox, Goode and Poling.

In January 1943, all four sailed out of Boston Harbor on the Dorchester, a converted luxury liner, as part of a threeship Army Transport convoy, bound for Greenland.

They would never reach their destination.

According to Mancini, survivors’ accounts indicate that Washington went to bat for Jewish servicemen looking to hold Sabbath services Friday night in the ship’s mess hall. Non-Jewish soldiers playing cards there weren’t inclined to move but Washington reportedly persuaded them to take their game elsewhere.

Early on Feb. 3, 1943, a German sub fired three torpedoes into the Dorchester, quickly sending the vessel to a watery grave. Of some 900 men aboard, only 230 survived.

In 1944, the Army awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and Purple Heart to the four chaplains, presenting the medals to family members; in 1948, the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating their selfless actions; and in 1961, Congress authorized a Special Medal for Heroism awarded by President Eisenhower.

After the tragedy, Waller said, “Clubs were formed in the parish in Father Washington’s name. They put on performances, fundraisers.” McLaughlin remembers parishioner Irma Long spearheaded a campaign to have Father Washington canonized by Rome, “but it never got off the ground.”

And St. Stephens began a practice of holding an annual Mass in Father Washington’s memory. Last year’s service, for example, drew close to 400 attendees, including about 100 members of veterans’ organizations, Mancini said.

Mancini said the idea for the monument came about as a byproduct of a conversation he had last October with Brooklyn artist Fred Moshey, who does reproductions of religious statutes and other items.

“At the time, I was thinking of establishing a (religious) gift shop here at the parish,” Mancini said, “and I was giving Fred a tour of the church and I showed him the granite tablet there honoring Father Washington.”

Moshey happened to mention his visit to St. Stephen’s and the connection to the Four Chaplains to a Canadian sculptor colleague Timothy P. Schmalz who expressed his desire to memorialize the quartet with a 12-foot-tall, 2,000 pound bronze monument.

As envisioned by Schmalz, the front of the monument would depict the chaplains, praying, in the stern of the Dorchester and the back would present an angel holding the four life vests and, enclosed in the center of the angel’s spreading wings, an image of the Dorchester sinking beneath the waves.

Mancini proposes to install the memorial on the front lawn of the church, close to Kearny Ave. and just off the Centennial brick walkway, near the flagpoles.

The pastor said he’s considering relocating the 9/11 steel beam cross to that area, together with the Four Chaplains monument, to create a “memorial garden reflection area.”

A “core committee” of Deacon Earl White and parishioner Nancy Waller has been appointed to flesh out those plans and to raise the estimated $97,000 needed to pay for the monument.

“We plan to raise a portion of that from our parishioners,” Mancini said. “We would also reach out to local businesses and we want to talk to veterans’ groups about enlisting their support.”

The local chapter of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization, has also volunteered to help, he said.

Parishioners are being invited to participate in the Four Chaplains Memorial project via a “three-tiered level of giving” as follows: A gift of $125 to $249 entitles the donor to a 12- inch replica of the monument; for $250 to $399, the donor receives the 12-inch statue and a paver in the walkway; people who give $400 or more get the statue, paver and an invitation to “Meet the Artist” at a wine and- cheese reception the eve of the dedication.

With the number of World War II-era veterans dwindling, Mancini said the monument will serve “to keep the story of the Four Chaplains going” and to reinforce the message of the chaplains’ “bravery, courage and sacrifice, which kids today especially need to hear.”

“Today,” the pastor said, “there’s a lot of emphasis on ‘I’ – we have the I-Pod, I-Pad, I-Max – there’s no sense of ‘you’ or ‘us.’ We read about multi-million dollar sports celebrity heroes. But we need genuine heroes who embody truth. And I know of no better example than this excerpt from the Gospel of St. John: ‘Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends.’ ’’

Native son going west for new job

Photo by Ron Leir/ Victor Canning

 

By Ron Leir

BELLEVILLE –

From Essex to Morris.

That’s the route being taken by Township Manager Victor Canning who is resigning his current job in Belleville on March 14 and, the next day, will take over as the new township administrator in Montville, where he also happens to live.

Canning, who was hired by the Montville Township Committee on Feb. 14 at a yearly salary of $144,000, submitted his letter of resignation to the Belleville Township Clerk’s Offi ce on Feb. 15, thereby giving one month’s notice of his departure.

Belleville Mayor Raymond Kimble said: “I’m sorry to see Victor go. He’s been here (as township administrator) six years. I think we worked well together and I wish him the best in his new job.”

Kimble said he would form a search committee – “probably Councilman (John) Notari, Councilman (Michael) Nicosia and myself” – to find a replacement for Canning.

“If no one’s been hired by March 15, we’ll probably make an interim appointment,” the mayor said. Another key fiscal employee preparing to leave is Township Tax Collector Joan Conway, who has also been functioning as an interim chief fiscal officer since August 2008. She’s been the collector for the past nine years. Kimble said that Conway’s slated to retire the end of April.

Kimble said he was “a little surprised” by Canning’s decision to move on “but I don’t blame him,” he added. “I believe their (Montville) manager makes more (than in Belleville) and it’s where he lives so I would expect that he would take advantage of that. I hope that our next manager will know Belleville the same as Victor which would be a plus for us.”

Canning currently earns $129,557 a year.

When a reporter visited him last week at the Belleville Municipal Building, Canning – who says his family “goes back 100 years” in Belleville – already had his desk cleaned out and most of his personal items packed in boxes.

“I want to thank the mayor and council for affording me the opportunity to lead Belleville the last six years and for affording me life lessons,” Canning said. “This is where I’m from and I’m always going to hold a special place in heart for Belleville. Even after I’m gone, I want the town to know I’m only a phone call away.”

Canning started his career as a civil servant as a member of the Township Council from 1994 to 1998, serving as mayor from 1996 to 1997 in the process. In 1998 he was appointed to the Belleville Police Department and was a police officer through 2006 when he was appointed township manager.

Recently, Canning – as the township’s policy executor – ran into opposition from some council members on funding certain capital projects and was forced to back away from a $3.45 million bond ordinance after those members organized a residents’ petition drive to block it.

As a result, Canning now concedes that plans for a new firehouse in the Silver Lakes section are dead “because of the petitions.” Councilmen Steve Rovell and Michael Nicosia objected to what they considered awkward location for the new facility and questioned whether the Fire Dept. would have enough personnel to staff two companies there.

But for Canning, the plan still made sense. “To give up $634,000 that NJ Transit was willing to give us for the project doesn’t make sound economic principle but the voters have spoken,” Canning said. “We have met with NJ Transit asking them to reconsider using that money for rehabilitating our existing firehouse,” he said. “I think we’re missing a golden opportunity here.”

In the meantime, Canning said he believes the township will find a way to proceed with some of the other projects that were included as part of the now-defeated bond ordinance, such as the rebuilding of the Friendly House as a one-story facility with the help of $400,000 in county CDBG funding. But instead of using the facility for community recreation, Canning figures it can accommodate an expanded early childhood program. “We can double our pre-school program,” he said. And part of the new building can be opened to seniors for such activities as line-dancing and yoga, he said.

As for other items included in the ill-fated ordinance, Canning said the township will reallocate about $600,000 in capital money to buy public works equipment, repave various streets, build a new playground, fix municipal properties with leaky roofs and install an new HVAC system at Township Hall.

Despite his differences with the manager over the bond issue, Rovell credited Canning for his hard work. “He’s done the best job he could possibly due,” Rovell said.

Still, Rovell noted, “It’s an untimely departure, given that you’re in the midst of putting a budget together for the new fiscal year. But I think we’ve got some talented people who can see this through.”

An adversary in labor negotiations, PBA Local 28 President Bobby Kane, called Canning “a very fair man who looked out for the township of Belleville in tough financial times. Victor did an admirable job, considering the situation.”

“We’ve had our battles, of course,” Kane added, “but he was fair and easy to work with. He always had an open door policy. He did a good job for the township.”

Of the push-back he sometimes experienced, Canning was philosophical. “It’s like a family – you don’t always agree,” he said. “Sometimes the road gets bumpy. But I’m leaving Belleville a lot better place than when I found it. For the most part, I’ve managed to keep taxes under control, we’ve just fixed up our stadium with our turf project and we’ve been fixing our infrastructure – new water meters and water lines.”

In the last few years, Canning had prepared municipal layoff plans for both uniformed and civilian employees but the township averted those economic dismissals after Canning negotiated union concessions and allowed positions vacated via retirements or death to go unfilled.

Employee morale has improved under his watch, Canning asserted. “This place was a dysfunctional family until I got here,” he said. “I’ve given it a sense of government service.”

In the time left for him in Belleville, Canning hopes to wrap up bargaining with the unions representing rank-and-file and superior officers in the Fire Dept. for new labor pacts.

“I may be able to get those done before I leave,” he said. “Then I’ll have all my (employee labor) contracts done without having to go to arbitration.”

Local biker killed enroute to work

By Anthony J. Machcinski

North Arlington man riding his bicycle to work in the early morning hours of Feb. 16 was struck and killed while trying to cross Rt. 7. Leonard Jeffrey, 57, North Arlington resident, was riding his bike from his home to his place of employment in South Kearny when he was hit trying to get to the Fishhouse Road exit of Rt. 7. It is unclear whether he tried to ride across the highway or was walking his bike across, but around 4:10 a.m., was knocked down by a man in a pickup truck, also attempting to get to work.

The truck driver immediately stopped, blocked traffic to protect Jeffrey and called police. The victim was transported to University Hospitial in Newark where he was pronounced dead at 8:50 a.m.

The case is still pending review by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, but according to Kearny Police, no criminal charges are expected to be filed against the driver at this point, as the driver was doing the speed limit or lower and no alcohol or drugs were involved.

Traffic on Rt. 7 eastbound was closed at the Fishhouse Road ramp from 4:15 a.m. to about 7:30 a.m. that morning