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STATE CHAMPS AGAIN!

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Harrison defeats Haddon Township, 4-0, to win 25th NJSIAA state soccer title in school history (Photo by Jim Hague)

The Harrison High School boys’ soccer team pose with the NJSIAA Group I state championship trophy, after defeating Haddon Township, 4-0, Sunday afternoon at Kean University in Union. It marked the 25th NJSIAA state championship in the school’s rich and storied history, adding to their state and national records. It was the first time since 2008 that the Blue Tide earned a state title. Senior Ali Lahkrif increased his single season school scoring record to 37 goals in the process, as the Blue Tide avenged defeats in the overall state title game in 2012 and the state semifinals last year. For more about the Blue Tide’s latest state title, read Jim Hague’s reports from the state title game in the Observer sports section.

This week’s e-Edition, classifieds are now posted

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This week’s e-Edition and classifieds are now posted. We apologize for the delay.

Blood appointed

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By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

Take away the “acting” title: the Kearny Board of Education has formally installed Patricia Blood as its official superintendent of schools.

The board took the action at a special meeting held last Thursday night at the Lincoln School.

The vote was 6-0, with three members absent: John Leadbeater, John Plaugic and Dan Esteves.

Since January 2014, Blood served as acting superintendent while her predecessor Frank Ferraro was placed on an involuntary leave by the board majority which brought tenure charges against him but then dropped the matter after both sides agreed to a settlement deal with Ferraro resigning this month

The board approved a new five-year contract for Blood that provides an annual salary of $167,500 – the same as her predecessor – and that runs from Nov. 15, 2014 to June 30, 2019, subject to its approval by the Hudson County Executive Superintendent of Schools.

Afterwards, The Observer asked board president Bernadette McDonald why the board opted to do the appointment at a sparsely attended special meeting. Said McDonald: “It’s the first meeting that we had a chance to deal with it after the Ferraro business.”

Blood holds an educational administrator’s certificate and is due to complete a state-required one-year mentorship program by year’s end to meet all her requirements for a permanent appointment as superintendent.

Asked whether the board had considered hiring an outside firm to undertake a search for a new chief school administrator, McDonald said: “We wanted to keep the continuity” with Blood at the helm.

“Everything went smoothly with the Lincoln School transition [from an elementary to middle school for grades 7 and 8] and Patti has proved she’s dedicated to Kearny and the children,” McDonald added.

Asked if the board had considered restoring the assistant superintendent of schools post, which was eliminated from the budget in the wake of the departure of its former occupant Debra Sheard, Mc- Donald said that was unlikely, given that, “things seem to be working so well now [under an administrative reorganization orchestrated by Blood] but maybe in the future, unless we think of another position to put in there.”

Blood started as a teacher in the Kearny public schools in 1977 and continued in that role until 1986 when she relocated to Monmouth County to raise her children but then resumed her educational career with the Freehold Regional High School district as a teacher and then assistant principal. After 13 years there, she returned to Kearny as director of curriculum for grades 6 to 12 in December 2010.

“I’m very excited to continue the work we’ve begun [in Kearny] and move forward to provide Kearny student with the best possible education and I appreciate the confidence the Board of Education has placed in me as well as the support I have received from administrators, teachers and staff members,” Blood told The Observer.

Blood said that this school year, she’ll be monitoring the implementation of a new reading program in the elementary schools. And, on other fronts, she said: “We’ve been getting great feedback on our new writing program, we’re on a very busy path for the administration of the [new state-mandated] PARCC [Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College & Careers] test in March and I hope to be moving forward soon on our long-delayed [high school] construction project.”

On that last topic, the board heard a presentation from the Wayne architectural firm DiCara Rubino, hired earlier this year to scale down design specifications on the completion of the north building of the high school after the only bid received for the job came in well over the board’s estimate.

DiCara Rubino’s proposal called for a reduction of the planned atrium, from five to two stories, and a relocation of a new faculty lounge; however, none of the educational space – including the 20-plus classrooms and culinary classroom/cafeteria – would be reduced.

The architects were slated to repeat their power-point presentation at the board’s regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 17, at Lincoln School, beginning at 6 p.m. with an executive session, and re-convening at 7 p.m. for the public portion.

Michael DeVita, the board’s business administrator/ secretary, told The Observer that it would likely take “several months” before the revised specifications would be ready for the board to advertise for a new round of bids.

Kearny unveils new monument

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By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

On May 27, 1922, an estimated 25,000 people gathered in the streets around the small park where Kearny Ave. and Beech St. meet, to witness Gen. John J. Pershing personally dedicate the towering granite monument honoring the Kearny men who died in the Great War.

Pershing had been commander of the American Expeditionary Forces during the “War to End All Wars.” We all know how that turned out.

Ensuing years saw Monument Park add memorials to those who died in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. And last week, it became home to yet another, dedicated to the military victims in the War on Terrorism.

Carved from Vermont gray granite, like the original, it bears only one date: 2001. Which marks the beginning of the battle whose end no one dare predict.

Thus far, it carries only one name, that of Staff Sgt. Edward Karolasz, a Kearny soldier killed in Iraq nine years ago this week. He was just 25.

Its official dedication took place Nov. 11 during the annual Veterans Day ceremony sponsored by American Legion Post 99, with support from the VFW and Marine Corps League. Among those attending were the soldier’s mother, Krystyna Karolasz, and his sisters Kristine Lancha and Donna Kornas.

Mayor Alberto Santos, standing before the WWI pillar, noted, “Our community has assembled at this monument for the last 92 years — at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” — which was when the guns finally fell silent on the Western Front.

There was optimism then, but as Santos noted, “That optimism, that hope for peace, was shattered just a generation later.”

What followed was a century of conflicts, including the overarching Cold War. Then on Nov. 9, 1989, the world witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall — prime symbol of the Cold War. “And like before,” Santos said, “we spoke of peace, a lasting peace. But that was not to be.”

After America was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, we took up arms against terrorists and the regimes that harbor them. The new battlefields have stretched from Iraq to Aghanistan to Pakistan to Syria to the Sahara and beyond. The newest enemy to make its murderous appearance is ISIS. What will be the next cowardly extremist group seeking blood? And where will it be spawned?

Fortunately, our nation has always harbored the brave and the courageous: freedom-cherishing men and women willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in the name of that freedom.

The Nov. 11 ceremony was about them, too. The living and the dead. To each of whom we owe an eternal debt of gratitude.

How many of us pass Kearny’s Monument Park on a daily basis, and never give it a thought? Next time you drive by, you might offer a prayer, or just a simple “Thank you.”

You might even stop to take a close-up look at all the monuments.

Including the one unveiled just last week.

You will note that it bears only one name. But it has room for more.

God willing, that space will remain blank.

Nutley cops hunt driver in fatal hit-run

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A photo (above) of the suspect van was released Nov. 19 by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.

 

NUTLEY – 

Nutley police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating the motor vehicle that struck and killed a 77-year-old woman on Centre St. on Saturday morning and fled the scene.

Chief Thomas Strumolo said the victim, Ernesta Fernandez of Nutley, had been crossing Centre near Ravine Ave. at 11:40 a.m. when she was hit.

One witness described the vehicle as an older model, dark-colored Econoline van, possibly blue or black. The driver reportedly headed west on Centre St. and made a right turn onto Franklin Ave. Fernandez was found in the street and subsequently pronounced dead at University Hospital in Newark. P

olice are asking anyone who was in the area at the time and may have witnessed the accident to call the NPD at 973-284-4940 or the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force tips line at 1-877-847- 7432 or 1-877-TIPS-4-EC .

The Essex County Sheriff’s Office Crime Stoppers Program is offering up to $5,000 for information leading to an arrest.

– Karen Zautyk

School is more than books for these kids

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By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

HARRISON – 

At Washington Middle School in Harrison, nearly 75% of the more than 400 enrolled are just as busy with school-related projects after 3 p.m. as they are during their regular day of classes.

And that’s partly by design of the school administration who made a point this fall of expanding its menu of an already busy after-school extracurricular schedule.

Principal Michael Landy extended an appreciative nod to the Board of Education, acting Superintendent Fred Confessore and his staff for being “tremendously cooperative in supporting all additional programs that we proposed.” Students’ voluntary participation in such activities are important, Landy said, because studies show that there is a positive carryover on the academic side.

“If a student has an extra reason to come to school – if they’re looking forward to being in a club or sport program – it almost always translates to a better performance in the classroom,” he said.

Mixing with other kids can also be instrumental in changing a painfully shy or introverted youngster’s personality, Landy said.

If they’re interacting consistently with a smaller group of peers all sharing a common interest, “their whole outlook is different,” the principal said. “They walk down a [school] hallway and they realize, ‘Hey, there’s my friends.’ ’’

Landy provided a list of the various student activities offered by the school, as follows: There are two after-school homework assistance programs known as Family Friendly and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program).

Family Friendly, which includes a fitness component, is funded by a state grant combined with a local match, and is designed for grades 6 to 8. It has been operating in Harrison for the past eight years and, with more than 100 kids and between 10 and 12 instructional staff participating, “it’s our biggest after-school program,” Landy said. The group meets Monday to Friday, from 3 to 5 p.m.

CHIP’s function is similar to Family Friendly but is geared specifically for special needs youngsters and meets Monday to Thursday, from 3 to 5 p.m. About 50 children are in this year’s group.

“We have an expanded Fine and Performing Arts program,” Landy said, “that includes one day of Chorus, two days of Step dancing, two days of regular dance, one day of actors workshop, one day of play writers workshop, one day of crew/public relations and one day of set design.”

Chorus, with some 30 youngsters involved, meets Wednesdays and performs holiday shows and at special events like the Winter and Spring Concerts.

Step dancing “is our version of hip hop and this year, it’s really taken off,” Landy said. The group, led by physical education/health teacher Uril Parrish, rehearses on Mondays and Thursdays and struts its stuff at different events during the school year. This Halloween eve, its members offered a special dance tribute to Michael Jackson.

Parrish also assists the regular dance team which practices their routines on Tuesdays and Fridays.

“Between the two dance groups, we have to close to 30 participating,” said Landy.

Kids in the various performance- related groups, with some overlapping, work together as a part of a drama production team, starting in the winter session, to prepare for the annual Spring Musical. They get help from music teacher Steven Fink and technology instructor Eileen Winkleblech.

There are also clubs focused on Art, School Newspaper, Yearbook, Environmental, Explorers (with fields trips to big metropolitan cities to learn more about history), Student Council, Fitness, Canstruction, Gifted & Talented and Chess, which has grown to 20 members who meet a couple of times a month to play each other.

The school’s sports program has also expanded. In the fall, it offers girls’ volleyball and soccer and boys’ soccer; in the winter, there is boys’ and girls’ basketball and swimming; and in the spring, boys’ volleyball, baseball and softball.

Choosing a meal?: Make it turkey

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Does turkey show up regularly on your table? Americans are gobbling more and more of this lean bird.

U.S. turkey consumption has more than doubled since 1970, the National Turkey Federation reports. What’s more, we’re not just flocking to turkey around Thanksgiving. Year-round, we’re buying a variety of sizes, shapes, and textures of turkey.

In your grocer’s case, you’ll find whole turkeys and parts — fresh, frozen, and smoked. You’ll also see ground turkey, turkey cutlets, turkey hot dogs, turkey sausage, and turkey burgers.

A well-stocked deli offers sliced turkey a half-dozen ways, from roasted to barbecued. And how about turkey pastrami? Ground turkey can be a great, lower-fat alternative to ground beef in spaghetti sauce, chili and stews. Just be sure to choose lean ground turkey.

On the lean side 

With the current health concerns about saturated fat, people are searching for the leanest cuts of meat and/or poultry, and turkey can be lean. Also, turkey offers more iron and vitamins than most fish.

Some turkey products draw criticism for being too tough or too dry, but that’s often because of how the turkey is cooked. Turkey can dry out easily because there’s not much fat to maintain moistness.

A meat thermometer can help ensure a moist meal. The bird’s internal temperature is the true indicator of readiness: 165° F (74° C) for the breast, and 165° to 170° F (74° to 77° C) for the thigh. And when it’s done, it’s done.

Turkey talk: 

More than one-fourth of all households consume turkey deli meats at least once every 2 weeks.

A 15-pound turkey has about 70% white meat and 30% dark meat. The white meat has fewer calories and less fat.

Benjamin Franklin proposed the turkey as the official U.S. bird and reportedly was dismayed when the bald eagle won out.

Only tom turkeys gobble. Hen turkeys make a clicking noise.

The top five most popular ways to eat leftover turkey? A sandwich; soup or stew; salad; casserole; and stir-fry.

To learn more, stop in and see in-store registered dietitian Julie Harrington at the Shop- Rite of Lyndhurst, 540 New York Ave. For information on health and wellness events contact Julie at 201- 419-9154 or Julie.harrington@ wakefern.com.

‘Tis the season for giving

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The Salvation Army Corps of Greater Kearny kicked off its annual seasonal Kettle Drive last Thursday, Nov. 13, in front of Kearny Town Hall, with Mayor Alberto Santos and members of the Town Council in attendance.

Corps leaders, Capt. Sherry Moukouangala and Lt. Maurice Moukouangala, presided at the ceremony which featured the performance of traditional Christmas holiday music by Salvation Army personnel.

Lt. Mike Barney of the Plainfield Corps and Mike Hslop, bandmaster of the Greater Kearny Corps Church, both on cornet, were joined by Dean Farrar, music director of the Salvation Army in New Jersey and Lt. Moukouangala, both on the euphonium.

Lt. Moukouangala said that last year, the Greater Kearny Corps netted a total of $65,000 in its kettles stationed around its service area, which encompasses Kearny, Harrison, East Newark, North Arlington and Lyndhurst.

He said the Corps has set this year’s fundraising goal at “between $70,000 and $100,000.”

“We know that’s not easy to achieve but we do what we can and Kearny has always been supportive,” he said. “Each and every dollar counts because the need is very big.”

Money collected goes for emergency food supplies, rent subsidies and clothing where most needed, Lt. Moukouangala said. “There are many families out there who cannot afford essential items,” he added.

People who wish to donate are invited to deposit funds in any of the Salvation Army kettles or to visit the Greater Kearny Corps Church at 28 Beech St. or its offices at 443 Chestnut St., both in Kearny.

– Ron Leir  

Dr. Diana Espaillat joins Pink Vision Associates

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By Kevin Canessa Jr. 

Observer Correspondent 

LYNDHURST – 

When Dr. Maria Domingues founded Pink Vision Associates in 2010, among many things that were clear was that the business would be family oriented. Three years later, that was even more evident when Dr. Carla Domingues, Carla’s sister, joined the practice. And now, the family atmosphere has grown even more with the addition of Dr. Diana Espaillat, a graduate of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry and a dear friend and classmate of Carla’s.

Dr. Maria Domingues says she is thrilled to have been able to hire Dr. Espaillat, especially since the practice continues to grow and since she comes on board with such high praise from her sister.

“She and my sister have been friends for a while, and she’s a great fit for our practice,” Maria said. “And we’re so delighted that in addition to her university training, she also comes to us with one full year of training in a residency — in an ophthalmology setting. She is very qualified and is excellent with patients.

“We know she’s going to continue to be a great asset here.”

Espaillat, who speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese, has had a vast educational background. She got her bachelor’s degree from the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken and then got her OD (ophthalmology doctorate) in 2013. The residency Dr. Domingues referenced took place during the past year at the Eye Care Center of New Jersey in Bloomfield.

During her residency, she focused on patient care, ocular disease, pre-operative care, pediatric optometry and vision therapy. So it’s all prepared her for a career in the field that she first became interested in when she was a teenager.

“I was a sophomore at North Bergen High School when my love for the field developed,” Espaillat said. “I was taking an anatomy and physiology class and we dissected a pig’s eye. I had never worn glasses before, but I loved the intricacy of the lens in the eye. I never thought I’d become a doctor, but here I am now, excited for what’s to come.”

Espaillat says she’s quite motivated by all aspects of her new work, but she’s especially happy to be able to work with kids and with overall patient care.

“I try to put myself in their positions,” she said. “I work hard to ensure my patients are relaxed and that they realize they will get through what has to be done when they’re sitting in that chair.”

But without question, her greatest joy comes from where her career is ultimately beginning.

“I am so excited to join a practice with my very close friend Carla,” Espaillat said. “This is such a great, family-oriented place to be, and I am fortunate to be able to contribute to that atmosphere.”

Pink Vision Associates has three offices: in Lyndhurst, Fort Lee and Irvington. The Lyndhurst office is located at 348 Ridge Road. The hours of operation there are Monday, Thursday and Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Tuesday, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Learn more about Dr. Espaillat and Pink Vision Associates by visiting www.PinkVisionAssociates.com or by calling 201-438- 8668. You can schedule an appointment on the website as well.

St. Michael’s offers help with health insurance sign-ups

To help uninsured individuals gain better access to affordable and quality health coverage, St. Michael’s Medical Center will host a special Health Insurance Registration event on Saturday, Dec. 6, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the center’s Admissions Department, 111 Central Ave., Newark. Local residents can schedule an appointment with a certified application counselor, who will help them navigate the Health Insurance Marketplace and register for a plan.

Though uninsured individuals who qualify can sign up on the Health Insurance Marketplace via its website, www.healthcare.gov, St. Michael’s certified counselors will be available to offer one-on-one help, answer questions, compare options, and walk them through the process.

“As a health care provider for the greater Newark community, it is essential that we do all we can to help the members of our community gain access to quality, affordable health care,” said David A. Ricci, St. Michael’s president and CEO.

“When people have access to better health coverage, they can feel more at ease in seeking the care they need to live more healthy and fulfilling lives.”

For coverage starting in 2015, the Open Enrollment Period is Nov. 15, 2014, through Feb. 15, 2015. Individuals can schedule an appointment with a St. Michael’s insurance counselor by calling 973-465-2792.