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Category: News

Harrison Police Blotter

Mario Dagraca was arrested on March 14 after he was observed smashing the window of a vehicle parked on Ann St. The 32-year-old Harrison resident was issued a summons and released.

Also on March 14, Jose Elizondo was arrested after he was found asleep at the wheel of a motor vehicle on N. Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard. Elizondo, a 21 year old male from Orange, received medical attention and was released with summonses for Driving While Intoxicated and being an unlicensed driver.

Here are other items from the Harrison Police Blotter



A Cleveland Ave. residence was burglarized. Cash and jewelry were stolen from the home.

Packages delievered to a Passaic Ave. residence were stolen from the interior hallway.

A 1998 Jeep was broken into over night while it was parked at Third and Bergen Sts. Once inside, the actor damaged the ignition cylinder in a failed attempt to steal the Jeep.



David Jackson, a 49-year-old male currently homeless, was arrested for an outstanding Newark warrant. He was turned over to the Newark Police Department.

A vehicle parked in the municipal parking lot on Essex St. was broken into. A labtop computer and a portable GPS unit were stolen from the vehicle.



Elmer Sarango was arrested for Driving While Intoxicated. The 42-year-old man from Newark was arrested after he was involved in an accident with another vehicle at 200 Harrison Ave.



A vehicle parked on Sussex St. beneath Rte. 280 was broken into but nothing was reported stolen.

A 2000 Audi A6 was stolen while it was parked overnight on Essex St.

A vehicle parked at First and Sussex Sts. was broken into and an iPod and cash were reportedly stolen.

Governor comes to town



By Ron Leir

The Chris Christie “show” came to Kearny March 19 as New Jersey’s governor presided over the latest of 72 “town meetings” he’s brought to residents throughout the Garden State since his election in 2009.

Christie was just back from weekend visits to Puerto Rico and Illinois while on the campaign trail for GOP Presidential aspirant Mitt Romney. In a speech he made in Elmhurst, Ill., Saturday, he got laughs from a reference to New Jersey as the home of “The Sopranos” and to Hudson County and its “folks who defi nitely color outside the lines,” as reported by NJ.com. But he also talked up what he likes to present as the start of New Jersey’s recovery from the fiscal mess he says he inherited largely from his Democratic predecessors: a $13 billion budget deficit, higher debt, a jobless rate in excess of 10% and a host of home mortgage foreclosures.

That’s a theme Christie sounded, anew, in Kearny this past Monday to a friendly audience of about 200 guests assembled in the former Boystown gym – now known as the Archdiocesan Youth Retreat Center – at Belgrove Drive and Quincy Ave.

Speaking in front of a blue-and- white banner reading, “The Jersey Comeback has begun,” Christie touted his achievements since coming into office in beginning to turn around the state’s teetering economy by cutting the state budget by 9%, boosting tax revenues and creating business-friendly policies that resulted in nearly 70,000 new private sector jobs.

Photo by Kim Pezzolla/ N.J. Governor Chris Christie speaks to throng at Youth Retreat Center.


But, at the same time, Christie said, his administration also spent nearly $9 billion on “k-to-8 education,” restored $1.1 billion to the severely underfunded public employees’ pension fund, imposed a 2% cap on all municipal budgets and required cops and firefighters to pay a surcharge on their health care coverage.

Christie drew applause when he lit into the state teachers’ union for spending $10 million on a negative media campaign against his public education policies. Instead, Christie said, the union could have dedicated some of its $130 million in annual dues for things like “teacher improvement training,” particularly in light of the 200 “failing schools” of New Jersey.

Teachers having job protection through tenure is valid, Christie said, but not when it affords an ineffective teacher an arbitrary lifetime guarantee of a job. “Make tenure something you gotta earn,” he said.

And there’s nothing wrong with giving teachers “merit raises,” Christie said. As things now stand, he said, teachers “get no consideration for achievement.” When the union says that’ll “kill incompatability” among teachers, “that’s ridiculous,” he said.

The governor also got support from the Kearny crowd when he was asked how the Romney campaign should be dealing with the public health controversy surrounding the Obama administration’s endorsement of contraceptive care by health agencies that receive federal funding.

“Contraception is everybody’s personal choice,” Christie said, adding that “it’s a silly issue to talk about,” in light of what’s going on “in the Middle East, the debt crisis in Europe, all the things happening in China.”

Christie said he’d like to see an extension of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Transit System “down here” or “regular rail” but that’s something New Jersey couldn’t fund alone without help from Congress. For the future, Christie said, “transportation and higher education” are “the type of investments I’d make.”

New crossing to bridge gap

Photos courtesy NJDOT/ Work in progress for replacement of Rt. 7/ Wittpenn Bridge over Hackensack River (photos taken several week ago)


By Ron Leir


Recession or no, motorists and commercial truckers who rely on the Wittpenn Bridge over the Hackensack River to get where they need to go are getting some transportation infrastructure relief.

The evidence is shown with a ride over the bridge and a look to the north: A tangle of cranes, timber pilings and work platforms has been assembled for the beginnings of construction of a new span to carry Rt. 7, also known as the Belleville Turnpike, linking Jersey City with Kearny and beyond.

Replacement of the existing bridge is being carried out by the state Department of Transportation (DOT) as a four-phase state contract due for completion by “early 2018,” according to the DOT.

Cost of the job – all four phases – has been projected at close to $500 million. Work started, offi cially, in November 2011.

As explained by DOT, the replacement structure will be a “new vertical lift bridge on a new alignment approximately 200 feet to the north. The new bridge will provide for a minimum vertical clearance of 70 feet in the closed position as compared to 35 feet for the existing lift bridge.”

Or, another way to put it is that boats twice as tall will be able to navigate under the bridge, even when it’s in the normal closed position when vehicles are crossing it.

Back to the DOT: “The increased under clearance will result in fewer instances of bridge openings, thereby improving travel efficiencies for the large volume of freight trucking carriers that use Rt. 7.”

As motorists who regularly traverse this bridge well know, an ill-timed approach to the bridge in an open position currently can easily add 15 minutes or so to the time of the journey, whereas, the new structure will afford an, er, … abridged trip, shall we say?

Ready to proceed?

DOT, again: “Construction of the new bridge will be accomplished in four stages under four separate contracts. … NJDOT began construction on the $64 million Contract 1 (in November) with contractor Conti Enterprises (of South Plainfield) installing multiple 100-plus-foot-long steel reinforced concrete drilled shafts that will support the river piers for the new bridge.

“This initial stage of construction will build the river piers and fender system for the new vertical lift bridge.”

“Multiple barges along with a tug boat are being utilized in the Hackensack River to support the two large cranes, test drill rigs, work platforms and various materials necessary for this work. (Most of the Contract 1 work) will be done in the river and off of the bridge.”

DOT says the existing bridge will continue to operate “while the new structure is built,” even while ongoing maintenance work on the existing bridge proceeds, “with potential closures scheduled over weekend periods, so as to limit the impact to truck traffic during the work week.”

DOT anticipates work associated with Contract 1 “to wrap up by the end of 2013.

” The existing bridge, built with a steel superstructure resting atop reinforced concrete piers, was finished in three years at a cost of $3 million during President Herbert Hoover’s administration and opened on Nov. 5, 1930, with two lanes of traffic in each direction. It is 2,169 feet long, 40 feet wide, has 100 foot clearance in open position.

It’s named for H. Otto Wittpenn, the mayor of Jersey City from 1908 to 1913.

The bridge was last renovated in 1957.

Part of the DOT project calls for the realignment of Fish House Road in South Kearny on the west side of the Hackensack River.

The eastern approach to the Wittpenn Bridge project lies just west of the Charlotte Ave. (Rts. 1&9) traffic circle in Jersey City, perhaps one of the most confusing traffic maneuvers in the region, and at the same time as the bridge improvement job, the DOT is in the midst of a federally-funded $210 million project to build a new ramp system to enable drivers to safely access points of the Rts. 1&9 corridor, including new approach roads to Rt. 7, the Rts. 1&9 Truck route, the Pulaski Skyway, Rt. 139 (Holland Tunnel route), Rt. 1&9 north of the Tonnelle Circle and local streets in Jersey City.

Kearny soldier returns safely from front

Photo courtesy Sonia Martins/ Pfc. Marco Marques

By Anthony J. Machcinski

The call to serve your country is something many Americans get; however, the call to serve takes on a different significance when the person who receives that call isn’t a natural born American.

“I came to America when I was seven and it’s a totally different country than Portugal,” said Pvt. First Class Marco Marques. “ You want to fight for your freedom and want people to have a better life.”

Marques, who has been in Afghanistan since his March 28, 2011 deployment, recently returned stateside and will come back to his Kearny residence April 3. Unlike many soldiers, Marques started in the service at a later age, enlisting in the Army at the age of 27.

“He always talked about it,” said Sonia Martins, Marques’ older sister. “Its not like it was an 18-year-old kid after high school, this was when he was 27.”

“I helped my father with the construction company,” Marques said as to why he didn’t enlist right out of high school like many Americans. “The Army was always in the back of my head. I just wanted to see what else was out there. I thought, ‘Let me go explore and see the world and the Army was the best chance for that.’”

The news of Marques’ enlistment was not met with excitement from his mother, who made one last plea to her son to stay home.

“Our mother tried to talk him out of it,” Martins said. “He thought about it for a while, but he finally signed up.”

Despite being stateside, Marques has not seen his mother yet and will not see her until April 3, when she is able to return to the United States from Portugal.

“That’s my life right there,” Marques said. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her.”

Now officially on his way home and having served his duty, the Kearny resident has reflected on his time in the service and what’s in store.

“I did my time and my duty,” Marques said. “I wanted to serve. I’m getting too old and I would just like to do something else in the government.”

His time in the service has allowed Martins and the rest of her family to reflect on their son and brother.

“I’m so proud of him,” Martins said. “It’s painful at times when you hear the media about those that don’t make it home, but I’m very proud of him.”

Now home and able to see his family, Marques is able to do one of the things he missed most.

“I just want to have some good, home cooked food,” Marques joked.

It won’t be much longer before he fulfills that wish.

Buying more time: North Arlington to install new parking meters

Photo by Ron Leir/ From l. to r. Councilman Joseph Bianchi, Public Works Supt. James McCebe, and Borough Administrator Terrence Wall awaiting new meters at Belleville Tpke. parking lot.


By Ron Leir


Time heals all wounds, they say.

And so it may be with disgruntled drivers looking for time-gauged places to park, now that the Borough of North Arlington is moving to install meters in spaces previously reserved for permitholders only.

That’s what’s happening in at least two of the borough’s municipal parking lots, one being the Belleville Turnpike lot, just west of Ridge Road, where according to Councilman Joseph Bianchi, public works chairman, the lot will be restriped and 19 meters will be installed.

“Years ago – at least 20 – this lot was metered,” Bianchi said, “but that was changed to permit parking at the request of the business owners in the area.”

But now the tables are turning.

Residents like former Ridge Road retailer Marie Elaine Yaccarino applauded the borough’s move at the March 8 meeting of the governing body.

“This is something I’ve been advocating for a long time,” Yaccarino said, afterwards, to a reporter. Having meters in the lot, “will at least allow customers to have the option of parking somewhere,” she said.

Additionally, the municipal lot on Ridge Road off Harding Ave. is also to be metered, with 22 slated for that site.

Mayor Peter Massa said the metered parking venture is being done “to accommodate the people in the south end of town, to help the merchants who are in competition with the Kearny UEZ (Urban Enterprise Zone).”

Actually, Bianchi said, the metering of the Belleville Pike lot should end up benefiting shopkeepers and business people on both sides of the North Arlington/Kearny border, especially the medical office directly across from the lot where patients “are generally there for a couple of hours.”

The meters will have a twohour limit, he said.

“This will help them – and other businesses on Ridge Road – immensely because there’s generally no place to park,” he added. “This will help residents, shoppers or even people going to the Lincoln (Cinemas) movies.”

One space in the Belleville Pike lot and two spaces in the Ridge Road lot will be reserved for handicapped drivers and those motorists who hold parking permits will be permitted to park in a metered spot so long as they display their permit placards, Bianchi said.

Assuming the ordinance intended to clear the way for the metered lots that the Borough Council voted to introduce on March 8 passes a second reading at a public hearing on March 22, Bianchi is hopeful that the transition can happen within a month or so.

It can’t be too soon for merchants like Sanjay Mehta, who owns Papers Plus at the corner of Belleville Pike and Ridge Road. “I’ve been losing so much business,” Mehta told a reporter last week. “I’ve been fighting with the town eight months over this. The sign (in the Belleville Pike lot) says (permit) parking from 7 to 9 (a.m.) but I open at 6 (a.m.). If somebody parks (between 6 and 7) to buy something here and gets a ticket, he’s not coming back.”

“Look at the parking lot now,” Mehta told a visitor. “It’s empty because people are afraid to park there.”

“The town is hurting town businesses,” he said.

But when asked about the prospect of replacing permit parking with meters, Mehta seemed relieved. “Meters will help the customers,” he said. “People will be happy. And at least I will be given a chance to stay in business. I work here 15, 16 hours every day, seven days a week. I want just a little chance for enjoyment, to help me and my family, and a lot of the businesses here.”

Mike Romano, who runs the nearby First Lady Salon on Ridge Road, agreed that meters should be creating additional parking opportunities, especially if there’s a two-hour limit. “That should keep the cars moving (in and out),” he said.

At El Cubanito’s café, also on Ridge Road, a visitor heard similar supportive comments from workers. “Our customers are telling us there is no parking,” one employee said. “And,” a co-worker reminded her, “mucho complaints about tickets.”

Over at the Silver Bell tavern on the Belleville Pike, owner Bob Melillo said: “Anything will help us – there’s no parking now.” To this, one of the regulars chimed in that he’d recently been stung with having to pay a $55 ticket for parking improperly in a permit-only spot.

Borough Administrator Terrence Wall said it’s estimated that each meter head will cost about $150 and each meter pole, where needed, will run $30. Total cost of equipping the two lots is pegged at about $3,000, he said. “Permit revenue will help offset the cost,” he said.

Figuring in the already existing meters at the Melray’s parking garage lot, residents and commuters driving in the south end of town will have access to a total of 68 metered lot spaces. Beyond that, the borough will be making available 25 parking permits, each offered for $300 per year, for the three south end lots. Permit holders can park in metered spaces. Parking enforcement hours are likely to be consistent with existing curbside meter hours.

In other N. Arlington developments:

• Councilman Steve Tanelli said that state lawmakers are pressing to have the North Arlington/ Belleville Bridge named for North Arlington’s fallen Marine Lance Cpl. Osbrany Montes De Oca. “It’s a done deal,” he said.

• Restaurants and deli’s serving hot food will be expected to regularly monitor their grease traps now that the Board of Health has passed a new ordinance regulating the operation of those devices to counteract “a lot of sewer backups” that, according to Bianchi, have resulted from improperly maintained traps. Failure to do so can subject the owner to penalties of $250 a day for a first offense, leading up to a maximum of $1,000 a day for multiple infractions.

• North Arlington and Lyndhurst will be looking at possible future “shared services” for police department functions under a joint county-financed study for which Lyndhurst will be taking the lead. A separate survey is being done in the area of public works.

One Tank Escapes: Maximum excitement for minimum cost


By Jeff Bahr

With soaring fuel prices that have people wondering if their gas was produced by Gucci rather than Getty, we now enter the warmer vacation months. As a result of this price gouging, many will be taking “Staycations,” a thoroughly absurd alternate vacation concept that came about when the price of gas first hit $4 per gallon. We at The Observer believe that our readers deserve more than this stay-at-home nonsense! That’s why we’re featuring “One Tank Escapes” in installments throughout the spring and summer months. As the phrase implies, these are minigetaways to interesting and fun places that require less than one full-tank of gasoline (on average) per round trip. We’re even including a map to help point you in the right direction. Sound like a plan? Let’s go!

Destination: New Hope, Pa.

•Distance from Kearny: 62 miles

•Attractions and activities: Shopping, dining, antiquing, train rides, river and canal boat rides, historic points.

•Nearby: Washington’s Crossing State Park; shopping at Peddler’s Village, Lahaska, Pa.

If you’ve never been to this cute little hamlet that flanks the free-flowing Delaware River’s western bank, you’re in for a real treat. This pretty river town has roots reaching back to the early 1700s when it became a ferry stop. Since that time, New Hope has morphed into a genuine “happening” that offers an abundance of options to the day-tripper. And it’s located just a stone’s throw from a multitude of other neat places, a classic win-win proposition.

Many, if not most people flock to New Hope for the human show. An artists’ enclave, the town attracts an eclectic assortment of people that run the gamut from mild to wild. It’s not uncommon to see aging hippies replete in tie-died shirts mixing with aristocrats from the “horsey-set” moving about the village. Artists, tourists, clothing-minimalists, professionals, poets, bikers, lovers; all come to soak up the town’s charms and to watch this wonderful human hodgepodge as it ambles on by.

In addition to this street theater, New Hope is also known for its many shopping opportunities. Much like the people that it attracts, the boutiques here are many and varied and sell most everything from novelty items to antiques. A prime example of this can be found at two wildly different boutiques located just off Ferry St., the town’s main drag. In one, lovers of pop culture can buy such inexpensive and fun things as Napoleon Dynamite bobble heads and rock ‘n’ roll posters. In the store beside it, ornate, oversized vases priced in the vicinity of “Oh my Gosh!” are the order of the day. Diversity!

A canal runs through it

Much of New Hope’s charm derives from its relationship to the 60-mile-long Pennsylvania Canal that bisects it. A bucolic space that looks much like it did in the days of mule-driven “packet” boats, the well-maintained towpath begs visitors to sample its charms with a walk or a hike. Ambitious bicyclists reach New Hope (the Canal’s halfway point) after a 30-mile ride from the Canal’s northern terminus at Easton. Once in town, they park their bikes, settle in for a tasty meal at one of the town’s many restaurants, and then pedal away, rejuvenated. Thusly restored, they attack the rest of the trail south to Bristol, or head back in the opposite direction to Easton.

For those who wish to sample the canal at a more sedate pace, mule-driven boat rides are offered in season. Boatmen dressed in period garb only add to the allure, blurring the fact that you’re in the 21st century, not the 19th.

For those who’d like an upclose- and-personal view of the Delaware River, excursion boats ply the waterway from a dock just south of Bridge St. As luck would have it, there’s an old-time ice cream parlor with oodles of atmosphere located right beside it – just the thing to take the edge off of a hot day on the river. All aboard!


A train runs through it

The New Hope and Ivyland Railroad is a tourist railroad centered in town that takes passengers on hourly excursions through the picturesque rolling hills and valleys of Bucks County. Railroad buffs will fixate on the steam engine and scenic railroad trestles, while Hollywood fans will delight in the fact that this route was once used to film the 1914 silent film series, “The Perils of Pauline.” The vintage 1891 train station where riders buy their tickets has been restored to a pristine state. In an ironic twist, the depot is situated directly beside the Pennsylvania Canal – the transportation system that it ultimately displaced.

All of this activity is bound to stoke one’s appetite. While there are a great many restaurant choices in town, the Logan Inn (started as the Ferry Tavern in 1727) at the town’s center is perhaps the most favored. As the oldest continuously run inn in Bucks County, and one of the five oldest in the U.S., this is hardly surprising. Saturdays and Sundays in season find a horde of visitors eating alfresco on the tented patio adjacent to the main building. This section of the restaurant offers a killer view of the “people show” on Main St. situated just below it. While noshing there, diners observe a near endless procession of cars moving slowly through town, as well as a generous number of motorcycles. On an agreeable spring or summer day, bicycles are nearly as numerous.

Photo by Jeff Bahr/ Carriage beside Logan Inn, New Hope, PA.

More to see and do

Washington’s Crossing Historic Park is a short seven– mile drive south on Route 32. On Christmas Eve, 1776, General Washington and his ragtag group of Continental soldiers made their infamous journey across the ice-choked Delaware River, enroute to a surprise attack on the Hessians quartered in Trenton. As history shows, it was a worthy gamble. The Visitors Center is located near the spot where the crossing occurred and contains a wealth of material that details that pivotal day and the days that preceded it.

An interesting fact that the Chamber of Commerce won’t tell you

On a rainy and foggy October evening in 1983, NBC Nightly News anchorwoman Jessica Savitch and a male companion had dinner at Chez Odette’s (now O’dette’s) at the south end of New Hope beside the canal. As they left the restaurant’s parking lot they accidentally turned onto a little-used dirt road that put them on a collision course with the severely flooded canal. Savitch, her friend and dog were drowned when the car rolled into the ditch and flipped over in the turbulent water. They never saw it coming.

Lahaska Peddler’s Village

The quaint Peddler’s Village, located three miles west of New Hope in Lahaska, features 70 specialty shops and six restaurants. Tudor buildings and manicured gardens reminiscent of English countryside differentiate this shopping experience from that of uninspired outlet malls, and the Golden Plough Inn, noted for its sumptuous meals and uniquely decorated rooms puts a “proper” British stamp on the village.

Lambertville, N.J.

A visit to New Hope comes with value-added in the form of Lambertville, N.J., located directly to its east across the Delaware River. An easy walk across Bridge St. takes visitors to this picture-perfect village noted for its shopping, restaurants and history.




National Geographic now has a different twist to the safaris and culture studies that we’re used to. Instead, they are featuring so called ordinary families who are preparing for doomsday, otherwise known as the end of the world. Surfing through the channels it is almost hard not to stop, these folks are stocking food, ammunition, what ever it will take for them to survive. I must tell you, they are taking this quite seriously and taking matters into there own hands. Some of these folks go to extreme lengths; they even go as far as building bunks underground on their property that include all the comforts of home. The heavy artillery was something to question! Is it even legal? As I watched this bizarre program I was paying attention to the children and was taken back to see the fright in their expression. What a sad way to live day to day, preparing for the end. What a waste. So much negative energy and most of all the kids live in fear.

When chips are down, he gets riled up

Early on March 11, Officer Neil Nelson responded to the Quik Chek on a report of a disorderly person in the store. When Nelson arrived, he found a man who was yelling and screaming about the service in the store, telling the workers that their chips were too stale. Officer Nelson attempted to calm the individual down, but to no avail. The man was subdued, handcuffed, and arrested. Jonathan Perez, a 20-year-old resident of Newark, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

Later that day, Officer Mike Andrews was on patrol in the area of Kearny and Garfield around 5:20 p.m. when he discovered a 15-year-old who was screaming on Kearny Ave. When Andrews stopped and looked at the youth, the juvenile sarcastically responded, “What are you looking at?” and continued to be belligerent. Andrews cautioned the child about his behavior, but this failed to curtail from his behavior. The 15-year-old Kearny male was arrested and brought to Headquarters pending pickup from his parents.

Just ten minutes later, Officer Brian Wisely was on patrol in the area of Devon St. when he observed two individuals who appeared to be intoxicated sitting on a stoop. Wisely questioned the pair and confirmed his suspicion of the two being intoxicated while also confirming that they were sitting on the stoop of a residence which neither belonged to.

When he asked for identification, he realized that one of the individuals was 17-years-old and in possession of a pack of cigarettes. While continuing the search, Wisely found the 17-year-old was in possession of a set of brass knuckles. The knuckles were seized and the youth was placed under arrest. The 17-year-old male Kearny resident was charged with possession of a prohibitive weapon.

On March 12, the Kearny Vice Squad received information regarding a marijuana distribution operation on Davis Ave. and set up surveillance. Around 11 p.m., they observed what they felt to be drug activity taking place, and approached the vehicle. On approach, they observed the front seat passenger throw away a plastic sandwich bag containing what was believed to be marijuana from the car. The officers took the occupants from the vehicle and placed them under arrest. Along with the initial bag thrown away from the car, another green Ziploc bag was taken from the floor of the vehicle. A search of one of the individuals found a silver-colored grinder. Based on their onsite observations, Kearny Vice was able to obtain a search warrant to search the residence of one of the males. The search of the residence found two more ounces of marijuana and a scale from within the residence with packaging material indicative of a distribution operation. Two 22-year-old Kearny males were arrested. One was charged with possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of a controlled substance in a motor vehicle. The second was charged with possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, distribution of marijuana, distribution in a school zone, and distribution within a playground/ park zone. Bail was set at $2,500.

The following day, on March 14, Officers Ben Wuelfing and Derek Hemphill were doing an evening check of the area below Schuyler Ave. by Harvey Field and observed a car parked close to the fence. The officers lit the area and found five individuals near the press box of Harvey field. Officer John Becker arrived as backup. The individuals were questioned as to how they got into the field and admitted to climbing over the fence. A search of the area found a discarded container that contained marijuana and a smaller jar with marijuana. The group was then placed under arrest. Four males and one female, all between the ages of 16 and 18 years old, were charged with defiant trespass, possession of marijuana, and use of marijuana.

-Anthony J. Machcinski

News from the Belleville Police Blotter

March 15

A stolen motor vehicle was recovered at the corner of Mill and Clinton Sts. at 3:38 p.m. Police were detailed there after a neighbor reported a car parked at that location. After running the plates on the grey 2007 BMW 50L, the vehicle came back as having been stolen from Elizabeth, N.J. on March 14. The vehicle’s interior had been stripped almost completely, with only the driver’s seat still remaining.

A resource officer visiting the junior high school at 279 Washington Ave. noticed a 13-year-old male seated near the office wearing a backpack. In one of its mesh pockets, a silver folding knife was clearly visible. When the officer confronted the youth, he said, “The knife’s not mine. Someone put it in there.” The boy was arrested for unlawful possession of a weapon in an educational institution and transported to headquarters. He was later released to his parents.

At 5:35 p.m., the CVS store at 519 Washington Ave. reported a shoplifting. When police arrived, store personnel told the officers that a Hispanic male wearing blue jeans, a black cap and black jacket left the store without paying for items. He was last seen crossing Washington Ave and heading south. Shortly thereafter police saw a man fitting that description near the intersection of Washington and Little Sts. A female store detective told police, “That’s the guy that shoplifted from our store.” The man was stopped as he was walking north through a parking lot at 140 Little St. A large bulge from the front of his shirt revealed eight Glade air fresheners and twelve packs of Trident chewing gum – a total value of $78. The man, 38-year-old Jose Rodriguez of Newark was arrested and charged with shoplifting. His bail was set at $200. Rodriguez was also found to have an outstanding Newark warrant for $5000 and a Harrison warrant for $100.

March 14

At 10:21 p.m., a burglary and theft was reported at 8 Nolton St. Police were told by the homeowner that the following items were found missing: A Sony PlayStation game valued at $200; A PS2 valued at $150; three Wii games valued at $300 in total; and an HP Pavilion G6 laptop valued at $500. Police are investigating.

March 11

At 3:05 a.m., police were sent to 91 Heckle St. on a report of a disturbance. When they arrived, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. While there, however, a bar patron flagged them down and told them that her blue 2001 Windstar van had been stolen from a parking spot at 80 Heckle St.

March 10

Police were called at 12:50 a.m. and told that a black male with a full beard wearing a blue sweatshirt had just pointed a handgun at two males and a woman at Walgreens at 325 Washington Ave. A unit traveling south on Washington Ave. encountered a male fitting that exact description standing at the corner of Joralemon Ave. and Washington Ave. Two officers exited the vehicle with weapons drawn and ordered the man to raise his hands over his head and get on the ground. He didn’t comply. Officers noticed the handle of a black handgun sticking out of the left side of the sweatshirt’s front pocket and again ordered the man to get on the ground. When he didn’t comply this time, officers tackled him to the ground and removed what turned out to be a 9mm Luger handgun from his person. The weapon, with a defaced serial number, was carrying seven rounds in its magazine. 35-year-old Daryl Henry of Newark was arrested and transported to headquarters. He was charged with possession of a weapon, certain persons not to have a weapon, possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose, possession of a defaced weapon, and armed robbery.

At 9:41 a.m., a vehicle was reported stolen at 25 Holmes St. The man told police that he had parked his silver 1999 A6 wagon across the street from his house the night before. A Ryobi drill worth $80 was in the car. The vehicle was later recovered in Newark.

-Jeff Bahr

Library-vet gets ‘bookish’ about books

Photo Courtesy of Ron Leir/ Maria LaBadia, ( r. ) with friend Miriam Ciffer, head of the Edible Art program.


By Ron Leir


Whether it was listening to her mom reading to her as a small child or devouring the Nancy Drew mystery series or volunteering at her high school library, there probably hasn’t been a time in Maria LaBadia’s life that she was very far from some form of the printed word.

So it’s no wonder LaBadia gravitated toward library science as a career of study and has been an active librarian since the early ‘80s.

On March 5, the Belleville native who moved to Nutley in 2003, took over as director of the Nutley Public Library after having most recently worked at the Montclair Public Library.

The next day, members of the Nutley community – including the mayor and Township Council, Library Board, Friends of the Library, family, friends and public – came out in force to greet her at a social given in her honor.

LaBadia got a running start during her first week on the job by familiarizing herself with local library policies, interacting with her 30-member staff and meeting with library trustees and Barbara Hirsch, president of the Friends, the library’s fundraising arm.

“We look forward to working with Maria,” Hirsch said. “She’s highly qualified in her profession and committed to her community. I’m sure the library will flourish under her leadership.”

Asked what her priorities would be, LaBadia noted that the library has been outfitted with nearly 30 computer terminals and said: “The (Library) Board is very big on technology – things like e-books and I-pads – and ways to raise money. I don’t think we’ll ever get rid of books but we have to find ways to keep up with what’s new, whether it’s blue-ray or streaming, and the Friends are going to be very important helping us keep up.”

The library’s annual budget is $1.5 million, with most of that coming from the township, and just $13,000 from state aid. With its leaders still talking about a nearly $3 million expansion to accommodate a multipurpose room for 100-plus guests and storage space, the library will mark its 100-year anniversary in 2014.

LaBadia was picked for the $85,000-a-year Civil Service job from among 21 applicants from as far west as Michigan, according to library board President Anthony Iannarone. She’ll serve a six-month probationary period.

The new director replaces Sara Lester, who left at the end of 2011 to run her hometown library in Maplewood.

LaBadia has been youth services supervisor at the Montclair Public Library since 2003. It was actually her second stretch of service there. She got her first library job at Montclair, from 1981 to 1984, before moving on to West Milford Township Library for the next two years.

“I had just gotten my MLS (master’s in library science) from Rutgers,” LaBadia recalled, “and computers were just coming out and I remember our professors telling us, ‘This is going to revolutionize our world.’ Now we have kindles and ebooks here in Nutley for our patrons.”

In 1986, after her son was born, LaBadia switched to part-time work at libraries in Denville, Sparta and Pequannock before moving to Georgia for a decade where she worked for the Gwinnett County Public Library in Lawrenceville and the St. John Regional Catholic School in Lilburn.

In 2003 she moved back to New Jersey and was welcomed back to the Montclair Library where new challenges presented themselves. Administrators were searching for ways of attracting more young people to the library and the task fell to LaBadia, who experimented with ways to reach out to adolescents and teens.

“We had rock and hip-hop concerts on the front lawn of the library, comic book workshops, we had a ‘Beatles Week,’ we got a $300 grant to buy vinyl,” LaBadia said. “This was the early ‘80s so the records we got were of bands like Squeeze and Marshal Krenshaw. I also organized a movies series featuring ‘Buster Crabbe’ and ‘Flash Gordon.’ ’’

These strategies helped heighten kids’ library awareness and participation, she said.

“I’ve always wanted to be a librarian,” LaBadia said. “Most libraries are the hub of a community.” Aside from lending books, many libraries serve as a meeting place for people of varying interests, she said, whether it’s to play scrabble, join a knitting club or a “Pen-to- Prose” group – all examples of activities hosted by Nutley Library.

“I’m a people person,” LaBadia said, “so I guess that’s why I feel at home in the library. Here in Nutley, we’re definitely the heart of the community.”

As she gets to know her new constituency, which includes nearly 13,000 library card holders, LaBadia says she’ll “try to do more outreach. I want to talk to our seniors, schools and organizations to get everyone to come to the library.”

And guess what, folks? Nutley Public Library’s new boss is also a client: She’s been a member of the library’s Book Club for the past nine years.