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Category: News

Still rattled by Sandy? Get free legal help

Hudson County residents with legal issues arising from Superstorm Sandy may be eligible to receive free legal counsel, advice or brief services from attorneys from Northeast New Jersey Legal Services (NNJLS), a nonprofit organization.

NNJLS hosts a free legal clinic Thursday, Sept. 18, 6 to 8 p.m., on the second floor of 574 Summit Ave., Jersey City.

NNJLS has handled such cases as FEMA appeals, contractor fraud, insurance denials, home repair, and more.

To schedule an appointment, call Meredith Gemeiner at 201-792-6363, ext. 3248. (Appointments are not necessary but highly encouraged.)

CPG opposes EPA’s river cleanup plan


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

A proposed bank-to-bank cleanup and cap is no way to treat a river. That’s the reaction by a private corporate group that has agreed to pay for work to remediate a portion of the contaminated Passaic River.

The CPG, isn’t prepared to accept a $1.78 billion U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plan to remove 4.3 million cubic yards of sediment from the lower Passaic, from Newark Bay to the Newark/Belleville border.

The CPG, more than 60 companies who’ve accepted the collective responsibility of funding remediation of industrial toxins that compromised the river, have filed an 87-page response to the EPA plan slamming it from every conceivable angle.

CPG’s response, filed Aug. 20 – the deadline set by EPA for submitting commentary on its plan – was prepared by the global corporate law firm K&L Gates, with offices in Newark and elsewhere. According to its website, the law firm offers “global boardroom risk solutions” to “such areas as corporate governance, anticorruption, competition, antitrust and regulatory, insurance coverage, workplace safety, environment, product liability, cyber risk and data privacy, among others ….”

The same group recently concluded a dredge/cap operation, removing more than 16,000 cubic yards of toxins from a 5-acre section of Lyndhurst mudflats along the banks of the river.

In its response, the CPG makes these points:

The EPA plan for the Passaic is misguided and “inconsistent with” the goals set by the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation & Liability Act of 1980.

The EPA plan is “legally indefensible and must be withdrawn.”

The EPA plan “is scientifically and technically unsound based upon the current understanding of the river ….”

Despite EPA’s assertions that its plan would be the largest cleanup in the agency’s history and that the sediment collected would “fill MetLife Stadium, twice over,” the CPG insists it won’t do the job intended and will be a waste of money.

The CPG contends that EPA “misrepresented the conditions of the river sediments and the effectiveness of the remedial alternatives that were evaluated,” and that it “has made a series of incorrect and scientifically unsupportable assumptions and interpretations that demonstrate a clear preconceived bias for a bankto- bank remedy … despite the fact that there are now legions of data, collected over the last seven years, demonstrating that the disruption and cost of a bank-to-bank remedy are not needed to protect human health and the environment.”

Since 2007, the CPG says it “has spent more than $100 million” on a remedial investigation feasibility study with oversight by EPA” but the CPG says EPA’s actions have only “increased the likelihood of expensive and time-consuming litigation” by all parties involved.

The CPG contends that the EPA’s plan relies on a bank-to-bank strategy, keyed to “massive sediment removal,” that will only lead to “recontamination,” that the EPA’s assessment of ecological risks in the river were based on creation of “a fake generic fish that does not exist and is not representative of the life histories of the fish population that does inhabit the river,” and that it “failed to consider … the enormous logistical nightmares [from] many thousands of bridge openings with resulting traffic congestion and rail transportation delays.”

In the end, implementing the EPA plan will leave the river in no better condition for “being fishable or swimmable,” the CPG asserted.

“Selecting a massive dredging remedy … is inconsistent with adaptive management and precludes the requisite flexibility and adjustment during remedy selection,” it said.

The CPG says its plan – still evolving – will work better by “targeting specific areas” for cleanup without needlessly disrupting other areas “not contributing to [sediment-related] risk” and with “less disruption to the community,” all at a quicker pace and for less money.

EPA spokesman David Kluesner declined to respond to CPG’s allegations. He said the agency is reviewing “over 200” public comments sent to the EPA, along with comments from three public meetings. Some “will require additional research,” he added. Asked when EPA would publish a final plan, Kluesner said: “We don’t have a time frame on that.”

Guilty plea in mortgage scam


A 63-year-old Belleville man faces up to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to his role in a $15 million mortgage fraud scheme, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced last week.

Appearing Sept. 2 in federal court in Camden, defendant Larry Fullenwider admitted conspiring to defraud financial institutions as part of the scheme that made illegal profits on overbuilt condominiums at the Jersey Shore and in Florida, Fishman said.

Fullenwider, charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, admitted purchasing four condos in North Wildwood after presenting a false identification and using fake documents to support fraudulent loan applications, Fishman said. He was among 13 persons arrested in the case.

According to Fishman’s office, the scheme masterminds located oceanfront condos built by financially distressed developers and negotiated a buyout price. They then caused the sales prices for the properties to be much higher than the buyout price, to ensure large proceeds.

Fishman said Fullenwider’s role was as a “straw buyer” who, using an alias and false Social Security number, bought the North Wildwood properties at the inflated rates in 2007. To qualify for mortgage loans, Fullenwider and the other conspirators also created fake W-2 forms, pay stubs, bank statements and investment statements, authorities said.

Once the loans were approved and the mortgage lenders sent the loan proceeds in connection with real estate closings, Fullenwider and the others reportedly received a portion of the money from conspirators who had funds wired or checks deposited into various accounts.

Fullenwider faces a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine when he is sentenced in January. 

– Karen Zautyk 

‘Wheels for Vic’ fundraiser set for Boystown

Victor Muniz 1_web

By Jim Hague

Observer correspondent

It was a night six years ago that touched the hearts of many local residents, especially people who live in his hometown of Kearny.

June 9, 2008, was a very stormy night and Victor Muniz, a former standout basketball player at Kearny High School, was making his way home through West Hudson Park when a huge tree branch snapped and landed directly on him, paralyzing him from the waist down for the rest of his life.

Muniz spent the next five months at the Kessler Institute of Rehabilitation in West Orange, where he received many gifts and had plenty of visitors, including then-New Jersey Nets All-Star guard Devin Harris, who presented Muniz with an autographed pair of his sneakers.

“When I got there, I was practically a vegetable,” said Muniz, now 28 years old. “I couldn’t move at all.”

But Muniz worked diligently through his rehabilitation, eventually gaining use of his upper body, especially his hands and arms.

“I couldn’t grip anything at all, but now I can write,” Muniz said. “I can use my hands.”

Never once has Muniz’s spirits wavered.

“He’s come a long way,” said Joseph Sgalia, the president of UNICO of Kearny, a social group that helps benefit the community any way possible. “His determination is outstanding and his resilience to keep on going is amazing.”

Of course, Muniz needs help. Sgalia worked hard to find Muniz a more suitable place to live with limited stairs and easier access.

But Sgalia wanted to do more.

“There had to be something we could do for him,” Sgalia said.

On Sunday, Oct. 5, the Kearny UNICO will hold a special fundraiser/ tricky tray to help raise funds to purchase a motorized wheelchair for Muniz. The event is called “Wheels for Vic.”

“You should see how bad his hands get from trying to push the chair around,” Sgalia said. “It’s not easy.”

The fundraiser will be held at the Kearny Boystown gym on Belgrove Drive from 1-5 p.m. Tickets are $30. All the proceeds of the event will go to purchase Muniz a motorized chair that costs approximately $11,000.

Muniz still hopes for the day that he could walk again, even six years after that fateful night.

“I’ve learned to never say never,” Muniz said. “Because unless the Big Man upstairs comes down and tells me something different, I will never say never. That’s just a just a waste of time and effort.”

Muniz has been attending Bergen County Community College in pursuit of a degree in hospitality management.

“I’m a people person,” Muniz said. “I deal with a lot of people. It’s perfect for me. I’ve always been interested in hotel management, because you get to meet a lot of younger people that way.”

Muniz is grateful to Sgalia and the people of Kearny.

“It’s been six years and people are still willing to help me,” Muniz said. “What people have done for me already is tremendous. It’s amazing that I still have a lot of friends and teammates that want to help. It motivates me and gives me the direction to go.”

Sgalia said that the UNICO members were all in support of the cause.

“We all wanted to make sure we did something worthwhile for Victor,” Sgalia said. “He’s a special young man and we’re all willing to help him.”

If anyone is willing to purchase tickets for the event, contact Sgalia at (201) 998-6879 or you can send a check to “Wheels for Vic” c/o Kearny UNICO, 11 Terrace Place, Kearny, NJ 07032. Make the check out to Kearny UNICO.

“We really wanted to do something special for Vic,” Sgalia said. “Now, we think we have.”

If anyone wants to just make a donation, they can do so as well, sending a check to the address above.

“It’s hard to explain how I feel,” Muniz said. “It’s really difficult to come up with the emotions. All I can do is say thanks.”

ShopRite of Lyndhurst hosts fall wellness events

ShopRite of Lyndhurst, an Inserra Supermarkets store, 540 New York Ave., hosts a wellness series throughout September to help mark National Cholesterol Education Month.

Julie Harrington, in-store registered dietician, will run the series.

All of the following programs are free and do not require advance registration, unless otherwise noted.

• Join a weekly Walking  Club for a one-mile trek throughout the store, starting at Dietitian’s Corner on Thursdays, Sept. 11, 18 and 25, at 8 a.m. Membership cards and prizes are awarded to all participants.

• Learn easy-to-incorporate heart-healthy cooking methods at a Heart-y Cooking Class on Monday, Sept. 15, at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Preregistration is required.

• Help combat heart disease and fight hunger with an Exercise Extravaganza class as a fundraiser for Partners in Caring. Two classes will be offered on Wednesday, Sept. 17: a strength class from 5 to 5:45 p.m. and a Zumba class from 6 to 6:45 p.m. Participants pay a $5 fee per class, which will be donated to Partners in Caring, plus purchase canned goods to use as weights which are then donated to a local food pantry. Raindate: Wednesday,  Sept. 24.

• Learn how to cook up a healthy dish with Chef Joe on Thursday, Sept. 18, at 1 p.m. Pre-registration is required.

• Stop by the Dietitian’s Corner for the latest high-fiber finds and “how to” tips for increasing fiber intake on Friday, Sept. 19, from noon to 2 p.m.

• Youngsters can learn to  prepare a simple, healthy snack at the LiveRight with ShopRite Kids’ Day Cooking Class (ages 6 and up) on Friday, Sept. 19, from 4 to 4:45 p.m. and 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. Pre-registration is required.

• Each week’s produce pick will be the “star” of a new dish prepared by the dietitian on Thursday, Sept. 25 and Tuesday, Sept. 30, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

• Learn how to prepare a  vegetarian meal at a Veggie Power Cooking Class on Tuesday, Sept. 30, at 3 p.m. and at 5:30 p.m. Pre-registration is required.

In addition to developing a full roster of store-based wellness programs, Shop- Rite’s retail dietitians can serve as guest speakers/instructors at wellness events hosted by local organizations.

For more information or to pre-register for a program, contact Harrington at 201-419-9154 or email Julie. harrington@wakefern.com.

Around Town


The township hosts its annual 9/11 memorial ceremony on Sept. 11 at 8 a.m. at Franklin Ave. and Chestnut St. For more information, call Tom Grolimond at 973-460-7891.

St. Peter’s Rosary Confraternity hosts its annual Communion Breakfast, Sunday, Oct. 5, after the 8:30 a.m. Mass, at the Chandelier Restaurant, 340 Franklin Ave. Tickets are $22 and will be available at the rectory.


Bloomfield Public Library, 90 Broad St., hosts these upcoming events:

  • A free screening of “9/11,” a documentary by Jules and Gedeon Naudet, will be offered on Thursday, Sept. 11, at 12:15 p.m. Warning: This film contains strong language and subject matter that may not be suitable for all audiences.
  • Financial Book Club resumes Sept. 18. The club meets Tuesdays at 6 p.m. Registration is required. To register, call the library at 973-566-6200.
  • Animal cartooning class, for ages 4 to 6, meets Sept.17, from 4 to 6 p.m. The library will provide materials or participants can bring their own. Children can draw animals from memory, learn about animals in mythology and art history and create their own animal/ creature.
  • Celebrate the genius of Robin Williams with screenings of the following films: “One Hour Photo” (R) on Sept. 15, “The Birdcage” (R) on Sept. 18, “Mrs. Doubtfire”(PG-13) on Sept. 22, “Dead Poet’s Society” (PG) on Sept. 25 and “Awakenings” (PG- 13) on Sept. 29. All films start at 12:15 p.m. Admission is free.


Harrison/East Newark Elks present a 9/11 Memorial ceremony at Public Library Park, 415 Harrison Ave., on Thursday, Sept. 11, at 6 p.m.


The Class of 1964 of St. Cecilia High School is holding a 50th reunion dinner Saturday, Oct. 4, 6:30 to 10:30 p.m., at Mama Vittoria Restaurant, 160 Franklin Ave., Nutley. Those interested in attending are asked to contact Kathy McCourt Jackes at kathyjackes@yahoo. com or 908- 303-9993; Kathy Walsh Vecchio at katvec46gmail.com or 973-865-0402 or Nancy Branin Waller at nancy.waller2@verizon.net or 201-889- 6229 by Sept. 25.

St. Cecilia Church, 114 Chestnut St., sponsors a flea market on Saturday, Sept. 20, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Vendors are welcome. For more information, call 201-991-1116. All proceeds benefit the parish.

Kearny High School’s classes of 1954 and January 1955 host a 60th reunion luncheon on Sept. 19 at the Spring Lake Manor, Spring Lake, at noon. For information and reservations, contact Phyllis Glass McCartin at 732-458-5162 or phylpmaeaol.com. Guests are welcome.

New Jersey Blood Services will conduct a blood drive at Comunidade Evangelica Vida Abundante Sede (CEVA), also known as the Abundant Life Evangelical Community Church, 151 Midland Ave., on Sept. 15, from 4:30 to 9 p.m.

Kearny UNICO hosts these events:

  • Bus trip to Caesars in Atlantic City departs Sunday, Sept. 14, from the parking lot of Kearny Federal Savings, 614 Kearny Ave., at 8:30 a.m. Cost is $30, with $25 in slot credit back from the casino. For tickets or additional information, contact Lou Pandolfi at 201-368-2409 or 201-693-8504.
  • “Wheels for Vic,” a fundraiser to purchase a power wheelchair for Kearny resident Victor Muniz, will be held Sunday, Oct. 5, at 1 p.m., in the former Boystown gym, 499 Belgrove Drive. Tickets are $30, which includes a raffle, lunch and live music. Muniz was paralyzed after a tree branch fell on him during a 2008 summer storm. For tickets or more information, contact Pandolfi, or Joseph Sgalia at 201- 998- 6879, Rossana McLaughlin at 201-407-7262, or Judy Hyde at 201-991-5812. The committee also welcomes both monetary and/or gift donations for this event.

Trinity Church, 575 Kearny Ave., hosts these programs:

  • A flea market will be held Sept. 13, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tables are available for vendors at a cost of one for $15 and two for $25. Call the church at 201-991- 5894 to schedule a table or call Annamarie at 201-998-2368 after 5:30 p.m.
  • A fish, chicken and chips dinner is slated for Friday, Oct. 3, 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and two for $30. Take-out will also be available. Tricky Tray will follow from 8 to 9 p.m. For tickets, call Annamarie.

The Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., offers a free screening of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (PG-13 / 136 minutes) Friday, Sept. 19, at 3:30 p.m.

Pathways to Independence sponsors its 13th annual Walka- Thon Saturday, Oct. 4, 10 a.m. to noon, at West Hudson Park, Schuyler Ave. entrance. All are welcome. Proceeds benefit adults with disabilities who attend Pathways programs. For more information, call Pathways Executive Director Alvin Cox at 201-997-9371, ext. 18.


The Masonic Club, 316 Riverside Ave., hosts all-you-can-eat crabs and cole slaw (chicken available for non-seafood eaters) Saturday, Sept. 20, at 6 p.m. Tickets are $15 and must be paid in advance by Sept. 14. Admission is $20 at the door. For reservations, call the club at 201-933-1330.

The Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst sponsors these events:

  • An indoor garage sale is slated for Saturday, Sept. 20, at the Senior Building, 250 Cleveland Ave., from 9 a.m to 3 p.m.
  • A children’s Tricky Tray is set for Oct. 18, at the Senior Building, at noon. Tickets are $5. For tickets, call Janet at 201- 935-1208.

Lyndhurst Public Library, 355 Valley Brook Ave., hosts an Apple Craft open to pre-K to grade 3, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. Registration is required.

The library also hosts “The Importance of Exercise as We Age,” presented by Kessler Rehabilitation Center Physical Therapist Ellen Ross, Thursday, Sept. 25, at 11:30 a.m. She will discuss the benefits of exercise for adults and demonstrate a general stretching/strengthening program. Space is limited and registration is necessary. To register, call the library at 201-804-2478, ext. 7, or email romeo@lyndhurst.bccls.org.

The Lyndhurst Health Department announces the following programs. To register, call the department at 201-804-2500.

  • Registered dietician Elizabeth Nossier offers healthy diet tips at a breakfast forum hosted by Clara Maass Medical Center, at the Health Department, Friday, Sept. 12 at 10 a.m.
  • A bi-annual chiropractic screening, conducted by Lyndhurst chiropractor Marco Ferrucci, is also set for Sept. 12 at 8:45 a.m. The screening includes a digital postural analysis.
  • A bi-annual women’s health clinic, arranged through a partnership with Clara Maass Medical Center, is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 1, at 9 a.m. It includes education on breast self-examination and a PAP test and is open to township residents ages 18 and over.
  • A free meditation course will be offered Sept. 17, from 6 to 7 p.m. at the department’s new location, 319 New York Ave. For more information, call the Health Department.

The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission invites all ages to “Get to Know N.J. Black Bears,” presented by the Manalapan-based Bear Education and Resource program, on Sunday, Sept. 14, from 2 to 3:30 p.m., at 2 DeKorte Park Plaza. Live bears will not be part of the program. Admission is $5; $4 for MEC members. Registration is recommended and appreciated. To register, go to www. njmeadowlands.gov/ec.

For more information, call 201-460-8300.

Other NJMC events include the following:

  • The Third-Tuesday-of-the- Month Bird Walk starts with a bird-banding demonstration on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 10 a.m. to noon, at the Harrier Meadow on Disposal Road near Schuyler Avenue, North Arlington. Check meadowblog.net for last-minute updates. Guests are asked 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 or call 201- 230-4983.
  • The Bergen County Audubon Society presents a free talk and reception at the Meadowlands Environment Center, DeKorte Park, on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 8 to 9:30 p.m., to launch “Bald Eagles in the Meadowlands and Beyond,” sponsored by the N.J. Meadowlands Commission and Conserve Wildlife Foundation. The free ebook features images by 19 mostly local nature photographers, as well as chapters on the Bald Eagle’s amazing recovery in the region, the state and nationwide.

To R.S.V.P., contact Don Torino of the BCAS or call 201- 230-4983.

Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Post 3549, 527 Valley Brook Ave., hosts a karaoke party on Friday, Sept. 19, at 8 p.m. The VFW hall is also available for all occasions. For more information, call the Post at 201- 939-3080.

North Arlington 

North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Road, offers the following programs for adults and children:

  • Museum of the City of New York passes are available at the library. Each pass admits two adults and four children. A $50 cash deposit and an adult library card in good standing are required to borrow. Passes are available through July 31, 2015.
  • Knitting Group meets on Thursdays – Sept. 18, Oct. 9, Nov. 13 and Dec. 11 – from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
  • Friends of the Library meet on Fridays – Sept. 19, Oct. 17 and Nov. 14 – at 10 a.m.
  • Tween Book Club for grades 4 to 7 meets Thursday, Sept. 18, at 3:30 p.m.
  • Origami, also for grades 4 to 7, meets Friday, Sept. 19, at 3:30 p.m. The following is a list of dates and times for Back-to-School Nights at North Arlington Public Schools:
  • Wednesday, Sept. 17: North Arlington High School, 222 Ridge Rd., at 7 p.m.
  • Wed. Sept. 24: Middle School, 45 Beech St., at 6:45 p.m.
  • Thurs. Sept. 25: Roosevelt School, 50 Webster St., at 6:45 p.m.
  • Tues. Sept. 30: Washington School, 175 Albert St., at 7 p.m.
  • Wed. Oct. 1: Jefferson School, 100 Prospect Ave., at 6:45 p.m.


Registration is open for the fall session of the Recreation Department’s Mad Science Program for Nutley youngsters in grades 2 to 5. Handson activities cover such topics as rocketry, magnets, polymers and even the science of toys.

The 5-week program will be held Tuesdays, from 6 to 7 p.m., starting Sept. 16.

The fee is $50 per child. Register online at www.nutleynj.org or at the Rec Department, 44 Park Ave. Space is limited, and applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. For further information, call 973- 284-4966.

The Department of Parks & Recreation is accepting Recreation Basketball registration for the 2014-2015 season. This program is open to Nutley youngsters in grades 3 through 8. Teams compete in a recreational league format and are grouped in divisions by grade. Boys and girls will play in separate leagues. The aim of this program is to provide ample playing time for all participants, teach the fundamentals of individual and team play and encourage sportsmanship.

The deadline to register is Oct. 17. The fee is $40 per player. For more information, visit www.nutleynj.org or call 973- 284-4966 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

The Manga/Anime Teen Club, open to grades 7 to 12, meets on Friday, Sept. 19, at 3 p.m., at the Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive.

Middle School opens



Most of Kearny’s public school seventh- and eighthgraders showed up for the first day (actually, it was a half day) of classes at the newly designated Lincoln Middle School last Thursday.

And four brand new classrooms – created this summer following the Board of Education’s administrative staff moving to their new quarters on Midland Ave. – opened at the Franklin Elementary School campus, housing two pre-Ks (morning and afternoon sessions), a bilingual first grade and a sixth-grade science/math.

Franklin Principal Yvonne Cali said the town Building Department granted a temporary certificate of occupancy, pending adjustment of the height of toilets for the younger children.

Lincoln Middle School’s administrators, Principal Robert Zika and Vice Principal Patrick Ragnoni, said their first day went fairly smoothly, made a bit easier, they noted, by the fact that about 550 of the school’s 850 students had arrived the day before to pick up classroom schedules.

They said that most of their peers got their schedules on Thursday and if any problems popped up, school guidance counselors jumped in to remedy any confusion within minutes.

They estimated overall attendance on Thursday at “about 90%” but anticipated that figure would be adjusted upwards within the next few days as parents and/or guardians took care of any last-minute residency issues while other families returned from extended Labor Day vacations.

Teachers and non-instructional staff assigned to the middle school showed up as expected, they said.

Acting Superintendent of Schools Patricia Blood, making the rounds of schools in the district, stopped at Lincoln to extend greetings. At a well-attended public forum in mid-June, Blood had assured parents that Lincoln would be ready to receive students by the opening of the fall term.

Still, one nagging question raised by several parents couldn’t be satisfactorily answered, at least from some parents’ perspective – busing of kids to and from school – a practice the Kearny Board of Education has not adopted a school district is only obliged to provide school transportation if the distance between any elementary school and residence exceeds two miles, and that’s simply not the case, Blood said.

But, inspired by Elva Tineo and Oscar Riva, whose two daughters attend Lincoln, 15 parents of children who had to transfer from Washington Elementary School near the Harrison border to Lincoln have petitioned the Kearny BOE and superintendent to reconsider.

The petition reads: “We parents are worried about the distance between our houses to Lincoln School. The students used to go to Washington School which was in the neighborhood but with the new restructuring, Lincoln School is too far from our homes.

“The distance from our houses to Lincoln School is 1.8 miles and it will take 42 minutes in a good weather condition just to walk to the school. We do not have a budget for a $56 monthly bus fare for each kid just to get to school.

“Please consider the dangers and safety of our kids walking for almost an hour to school. How is a parent supposed to feel safe and comfortable, when our kids can encounter anything or anyone, i.e., sex offenders, heat exhaustion, irresponsible drivers … and so much more.”

Tineo said the parents would be happy with a shuttle bus that ran along Kearny Ave., the main north-south artery in town, to transport the children.

Asked if the town could take on such an enterprise, Mayor Alberto Santos told The Observer, “Transportation of school children is a school function. We can’t assume that responsibility unless there’s a compelling need.”

But even assuming deployment of a Kearny Ave. shuttle, Santos said, “you’re going to need multiple buses and drivers and that’s a significant cost.” And, Santos said, it could open a Pandora’s box because, “Once you do it for one group of children, you’ve got to do it for all.”

Asked if the Police Department would be adding or reconfiguring existing school crossing guards to adjust to the redistricting, Santos said: “We asked the district to supply us with information on that but we never got the data from them on whether student commuting patterns would change. However, the police are monitoring the situation.”

– Ron Leir 

Collect pledges for Pathways

Get involved in a worthy charity cause and collect a free T-shirt. To encourage participation in next month’s Pathways to Independence Walk-A-Thon, Silva Construction is sponsoring a free event T-shirt for each participant who turns in $100 or more in pledges.

It’s easy to participate in the Oct. 4 Walk-AThon. Just register yourself or your team in advance by obtaining registration forms at Pathways to Independence, 60 Kingsland Ave. (at Bergen and Schuyler Aves.), Kearny, or call 201-997-6155 to have them mailed to you. You can also register before the walk at the Schuyler Ave. entrance of West Hudson Park, starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 4.

The walk will start at 10 a.m. and takes only about an hour to complete, but it will make a big difference to Pathways. The event also includes food, drinks, tricky tray raffles, special item raffles, craft items for sale that were made by Pathways consumers and a goody-bag for each participant.

Pathways to Independence is a not-for-profit organization that has been providing life skills, job training and work for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities for the past 37 years and serves Hudson, Bergen and parts of Essex County.

For more information, contact Alvin Cox, executive director of Pathways to Independence, at 201-997-9371 ext. 18.

Are your supplements working?

Dr. Richard Ekstein hosts a bio-photonic event Monday, Sept. 22, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at 312 Belleville Turnpike, Suite 3B, North Arlington, when guests will receive interesting information about the capability of the bio-photonic scanner.

Learn if your body is receiving enough anti-oxidants to support a healthy body. Learn why anti-oxidants are a necessary ingredient in obtaining optimal health benefits. Learn how to enhance and maximize the absorption rate of these necessary nutrients.

During this event, guests will discover their body’s anti-oxidant level and learn how to increase their personal levels. Admission is $20 for the event and a personal scan. The program is limited to 30 people. For more information or to register, email your name and phone # to antioxidantseminar@ gmail.com.

Final salute to veterans’ champion


By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 


Joseph T. Fornarotto, a lifelong resident of Belleville and a tireless advocate for America’s veterans, passed away on Monday, Aug. 25.

To say that his death came as a shock is an understatement.

Usually such sentiments are expressed when the deceased is young. Joe Fornarotto was 88.

But he was so full of energy and life, news of his sudden demise was still difficult to accept.

Fornarotto was a frequent visitor to The Observer offices. He had been here on Friday, Aug. 22, just three days before his death, to meet with general manager Robert Pezzolla. It was a stunned Pezzolla who gave your correspondent the sad news last week.

On July 16, The Observer had featured Fornarotto in a front-page story about his links to those “Jersey Boys,” The Four Seasons, dating to the 1950s when he owned Joe’s Lunch at 90 Franklin St. in Belleville. The place was a popular gathering spot for teenagers, among them Francesco “Frankie” Castelluccio, better known now as Frankie Valli.

That, however, was only one brief chapter in a life rich in memories.

Fornarotto and his wife Jeanne (nee Rosamilia), who predeceased him in 2011, were married for 61 years and raised four children. He is survived by his son, Joseph Jr.; daughters, Kathy Mazur and her husband Walter, Joni Lewis and her husband Jim, Jeanne Finnan and her husband Kevin; a sister and five brothers, five grandchildren and two great-granddaughters.

After his stint in the luncheonette business, Fornarotto worked for the Township of Belleville and later Essex County, retiring just four years ago.

He also served a term as a Belleville commissioner and was a member of the township Senior Citizens and the Italian American Civic Association. In 2009, he was honored as Belleville Man of the Year at the Nutley-Belleville Columbus Day Parade.

But Fornarotto — a U.S. Navy veteran who served in the Pacific during World War II — was probably best known in his hometown, and surrounding communities, as commander of Disabled American Veterans Belleville/ Nutley Chapter 22, of which he was a founding member.

Any time there was any sort of event honoring or involving veterans, Fornarotto was there.

In 2011, Chapter 22’s headquarters at 612 Mill St., Belleville, which he was instrumental in getting constructed, was formally named the Commander Joe Fornarotto Disabled American Veterans Building.

Among the dignitaries attending the ceremony was Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., who cited the commander’s unwavering commitment to those who have served our country.

“To the hospitals he’s visited, to the veterans he’s reached his hand out to, to those who are homeless, to those who’ve lost faith and hope, to those who are addicted, to those who continue to experience the pains of war, Joe has not forgotten anybody,” the congressman said.

Those sentiments were echoed last week by Nutley Commissioner Steven Rogers, himself a dedicated proponent on veterans’ issues. The weekend before Fornarotto’s death, the commissioner and his wife were in the Nutley Diner when they saw Fornarotto up by the cash register. “I saluted him, and he saluted me,” Rogers said. “It was a nonverbal expression of the mutual respect we had as veterans.”

“Joe was a veteran to his last breath,” Rogers said. “He served and fought for this country, and well into his elder years, he continued to fight for this country by working very hard to ensure that American veterans would be treated well.”

Read at the 2011 DAV dedication ceremony was a message co-written by chapter members. It said, in part:

“For many, many years, Joe championed the cause of disabled veterans, assisted his comrades in Chapter 22, fund-raised for our hospitalized and institutionalized comrades and led the efforts to bring the fight for disabled veterans to public attention.

“For many of us, his achievements seemed virtually unattainable before he accomplished them.

“Joe, we love you and salute you. Thank you for all you have done.”

Fornarotto was buried Friday, with military honors, in Immaculate Conception Cemetery, Montclair.

Those who wish to honor his memory are asked to make a donation to the Veterans Administration Hospital, 385 Tremont Ave., East Orange, N.J. 07018.

Joe, we love you and salute you.

Thank you for all you have done.