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Category: News

One back to work, one exiting?

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

For a decade – until his firing — Brian Doran was a maintenance employee for the Kearny Board of Education – even though, as someone with a non-violent criminal record, he wasn’t supposed to be working there.

Now it appears he’s coming back to work.

And the district’s chief administrator who fired him may be on his way out, permanently.

Doran’s initial hiring never became an issue – until after Frank Ferraro was appointed superintendent of schools in December 2012.

By the fall of 2013, Ferraro had received confirmation from the state Department of Education’s Criminal Review Unit that Doran had been arrested twice in Kearny in 1993 and once in Clifton in 1995, for DUI and marijuana use, all resulting in guilty pleas, which left Doran “permanently disqualified or ineligible for employment ….”

On Sept. 24, 2013, Ferraro terminated Doran, prompting Doran’s attorney (and cousin) Mathew Doran, in October, to sue the Kearny Board of Education and Ferraro in an effort to get his cousin reinstated on the grounds that Ferraro violated his client’s rights as a tenured school employee by failing to present the case against him before his dismissal; that Ferraro violated board policy by terminating without a board vote; that Ferraro and the board violated state law by failing to get his client’s consent for a background check; and that they violated his right to due process by failing to allow him to respond to the criminal allegations.

Moreover, the attorney noted, on Oct. 10, 2013, his client’s criminal record was expunged by Hudson County Superior Court Judge John Young Jr.

Meanwhile, in January 2014, the board placed Ferraro on an involuntary paid leave and in August 2014, it voted to bring tenure charges against Ferraro, alleging that he improperly discussed Doran’s personnel record with his mother and misrepresented his job credentials.

All this activity culminated last Thursday with the board voting 6-0 – James Doran Jr. (Bryan’s uncle) and John Leadbeater were absent and Dan Esteves left early – to approve a proposed settlement of the Doran lawsuit with Bryan Doran and the state Department of Education by permitting Bryan Doran’s reinstatement to his old job at his old salary.

Board attorney Ken Lindenfelser said the settlement was recommended by the board’s Jersey City special counsel, Genova, Burns, Giantomasi & Webster in consideration of the overall uncertainty about the Doran situation: that the DOE apparently never ran Doran’s prints when he was hired; that Doran disclosed his criminal background when he was hired; and that Doran kept working because no one told him not to.

Lindenfelser said that Carl Carabelli, manager of the DOE’s Criminal Review Unit, has signed off on the settlement agreement but that before it can take effect, it must be sanctioned by the state Commissioner of Education.

Also, Brian Doran would submit himself to a criminal background check to ensure he’s had a clean record since his last known criminal act.

If the Commissioner does approve it, Brian Doran will agree to release the DOE and the Kearny BOE from any future liability.

One issue that remains unsettled, Lindenfelser said, is whether Doran could pursue a demand for back pay for the time between his termination and reinstatement.

Meanwhile, Ferraro is scheduled for his tenure charge hearing Oct. 28 in Newark before state arbitrator Gerard Restaino unless he happens to get a new job.

According to an online report filed Oct. 8 by Times Warner Cable News, Ferraro is reportedly one of two finalists for superintendent of the Central Valley School District in Ilion, N.Y.

“We’ll see what happens,” Ferraro told The Observer. “I’m keeping my options open.”

9th annual ‘Harvest of Hope’ this week

The Connie Dwyer Breast Center at St. Michael’s Medical Center, Newark, will host its ninth annual “Harvest of Hope” Friday, Oct. 17, at 6:30 p.m., at the Park Savoy Estate in Florham Park.

The event includes a cocktail reception, dinner and dancing, an awards presentation, a live auction, silent auction and 50/50 raffle.

Proceeds will support the Connie Dwyer Breast Center’s mission to provide top-quality breast care — from screening and diagnosis to treatment and followup –for all women.

Over the years, funds raised have allowed the center to purchase the most innovative technology in breast imaging, including two 3-D mammography suites with tomosynthesis, two advanced ultrasound units and equipment to offer 24-hour rapid diagnosis to breast biopsy patients.

For more information about “Harvest of Hope,” including ticket pricing, contact Janet Lesko at 973-877- 2624 or jlesko@smmcnj.org.

Around Town

Belleville 

The Township of Belleville hosts a Community Shredding Day for residents only (no businesses) Saturday, Oct. 18, 8 a.m. to noon, at the Senior Recreation Center, 125 Franklin Ave. Proof of residence must be shown.

Belleville Public Library and Information Center, 221 Washington Ave., hosts a screening of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” Saturday, Oct. 18, at 2 p.m. and a Halloween party on Saturday, Oct. 25, at 2 p.m. No registration is required.

Belleville Elks Lodge 1123, 254 Washington Ave., holds its monthly breakfast Sunday, Oct. 19, 9 a.m. to noon. Cost is $6 for adults and $3 for children under age 10 and children under age 3 are admitted free.

Belleville UNICO sponsors a bus ride fundraiser to the Taj Mahal, Atlantic City, Sunday, Oct. 19. Cost is $30 prepaid or $35 the day of the trip. (Receive $35 slot play) The bus will leave at 8:50 a.m. from the Senior Citizens Center, 125 Franklin Ave. A continental breakfast will be served at the center at 8 a.m. Call 973-759-9259 to reserve seats. (No last minute cancellations. Mail checks, payable to Belleville UNICO, to: Gene Antonio, 436 Joralemon St., Belleville, N.J. 07109.

All civic associations, classic cars and motorcycle clubs are invited to participate in the Belleville Veterans Day Parade Sunday, Nov. 9, at 1 p.m. Those interested may contact Bill Steimel at 973-759-4692 (home) or 973-955-7211 (cell) no later than Oct. 17.

Bloomfield 

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

  • Learn about the reasons for hauntings and related topics from Shirl Knobloch, author of “The Returning Ones, A Medium’s Memoirs,” Saturday, October 25, at 2 p.m.
  • Book Club meets Monday, Nov. 3, 6:45 to 7:45 p.m., to discuss “I Am Not Esther” by Fleur Beale. For more information, call the reference desk at 973-566-6200, ext. 219 or 220.

Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center, 240 Belleville Ave., offers these events:

  • A Garden of Pink Dedication celebrating the center’s “Sponsor a Tulip” program for its Breast Cancer Awareness garden is slated for Oct. 18 at 10 a.m. A one-time $25 fee buys a bulb and assures its care.
  • Children ages 3 to 9 are invited to “Party with the Great Pumpkin” and enjoy snacks, crafts and a chance to take a picture with the pumpkin on Oct. 18 at 11 a.m. Reservations are required.

For tickets, reservations or information, call 973-429-0960.

East Newark 

Borough Council urges residents to avail themselves of free breast and prostate cancer screenings. Fill out an eligibility form at the Municipal Building, 34 Sherman Ave., on Mondays and Wednesdays, between 5 and 7 p.m. Screenings are open to women ages 35 and 64 for mammography, women ages 21 and 64 for pap smear and men ages 50 and 64 for prostate/colon screenings. Eligible participants must have no insurance or indicate that their current insurance will not pay for these screenings. Income limits vary with the degree of insurance, so those with limited or no insurance are advised to fill out an initial eligibility form.

Harrison 

The Women’s Social Club of the Harrison/East Newark Elks Lodge sponsors a bus ride to Caesar’s Casino, Atlantic City, Sunday, Oct. 26. Cost is $30 with a $25 slot bet in return. A bus leaves from the lodge, 406 Harrison Ave., at 10 a.m. For reservations, call Shirley at 973- 483-6451. Participants must pay in advance.

Kearny 

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate/Coccia Realty sponsors a coat drive, Oct. 15 to Nov. 15, at its Kearny, Lyndhurst and Rutherford offices. Coats will be distributed to the less fortunate in the area. Drop off gently used or new coats between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays or from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends at any of these participating offices: 636 Kearny Ave., Kearny; 273 Ridge Road, Lyndhurst; or 11 Park Ave., Rutherford. For more information, call Randy Wine at 201-939-0001.

Presbyterian Boys-Girls Club, 663 Kearny Ave., hosts the East Coast Professional wrestlers Friday, Oct. 17, at 7:30 p.m. Advance tickets are $12 and are available at Sunset Deli, 680 Kearny Ave., and at Big Nick’s Pizza, 72 Davis Ave., or call Tom Fraser at 201-991- 6734.

Kearny Recreation Department is holding registration for the 2014 Street Hockey League season through Friday, Oct. 17, at its office at Town Hall, 402 Kearny Ave. Registration hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays. All boys and girls ages 6 to 14 (must turn 15 after Jan. 1) are eligible to participate. A registration fee, proof of residence and birth certificate are required. Players must furnish: hockey shin guards, gloves, elbow pads, helmet with cage, mouth guard, athletic cup (for boys) and hockey stick. Coaches, assistant coaches and referees are needed. For more information, call 201-955-7983.

Kearny Lions Club sponsors a flea market and collectible show Sunday, Oct. 19, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Frank Vincent Marina, 205 Passaic Ave. (next to Applebee’s and Burger King). Admission is free. For information, call 201-998-1144 or email events@jcpromotions.info.

The Salvation Army of Greater Kearny, 443 Chestnut St., offers classes in basic computer skills plus Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint Mondays and Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to noon. The fee is $30 for 12 hours of instruction. For more information, call 201-991-1115 or Pete at 201-889-1352.

Grace United Methodist Church, 380 Kearny Ave., sponsors a turkey dinner Friday, Oct. 17, 5 to 6:45 p.m. Admission to the dinner is $10 but there is no charge for a live auction beginning at 7 p.m. Dinner tickets may be purchased at the door. Take-out orders will be available. For more information, call 201-991- 1132.

Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., offers the following free programs:

  • No-Bake Cooking classes, for ages 4 to 8, are held Wednesdays, 4 to 5:30 p.m., beginning Oct. 22. The class will meet for four weeks. Recipes will take food allergies into consideration.
  • Tempest Storybook Theatre, an interactive story and craft program, open to all ages, celebrating the books of Bernard Waber, is offered Saturday, Oct. 25, at 10 a.m.

Space is limited. To reserve a spot, call 201-998-2666.

The Rosary Society of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 136 Davis Ave., sponsors an Oktoberfest, with live music and food, Friday, Oct. 24, in the church basement. (BYOB). Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $25. For tickets, call 201- 991-2808 or 201-998-4616.

A Doggie Halloween Parade and Festival, sponsored by the Kearny Urban Enterprise Zone program, is set for Saturday, Oct. 25, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Arlington Depot Park, off Midland Ave., between Forest and Elm Sts. Dogs can be registered for a costume contest by providing a current dog license and proof of rabies vaccine. Registration forms are available at www.kearnynj.org, the KUEZ office at 410 Kearny Ave., or K-9 corner, 169 Midland Ave. For more information, call 201-955-7985 or email Halloweenpawrade@kearnynj. org. All dogs either attending or participating in the festival must be leashed.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1302 and American Legion Post 99, in conjunction with the Kearny Police and Fire Departments, host Octoberfest Saturday, Oct. 18, noon to 6 p.m., at Veteran’s Field, Bergen Ave. and Afton St. Proceeds will be used to send items to N.J. National Guard soldiers deployed overseas. Bring nonperishable items to send. The event features live music, food and displays from both the Kearny Fire Department and the N.J. National Guard. Vendors and sponsors are needed. For more information, call the post at 201-991-9645.

Lyndhurst 

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3549, 527 Valley Brook Ave., hosts karaoke on Friday, Oct. 24, beginning at 7:30 p.m. The post hall is available for all occasions. For more information, call 201-939-3080.

ShopRite of Lyndhurst, an Inserra Supermarkets store, 540 New York Ave., hosts the following free programs, each led by in-store registered dietician Julie Harrington. Advance registration is not required, unless otherwise noted. For more information or to pre-register for a program, contact Harrington at 201-419-9154 or email Julie. harrington@wakefern.com. ShopRite’s retail dietitians can serve as guest speakers/ instructors at wellness events hosted by local organizations. Here are the upcoming events:

  • Fall Harvest Cooking Class teaches how to use fall’s fresh bounty to prepare a delicious and nutritious meal Wednesday, Oct. 22, at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Pre-registration is required.
  • Scary Facts about Sugar are shared at the Dietitian’s Corner Thursday, Oct. 23, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • High Fiber Friday at the Dietitian’s Corner explains how to meet your fiber requirements Fridays, Oct. 24 and 31, noon to 2 p.m.
  • Soups and Stocks Cooking Class offers tips on how to make a tasty stock and a new soup recipe Tuesday, Oct. 28, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Pre-registration is required.

The Third-Tuesday-of-the- Month Walk with the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and the Bergen County Audubon Society is slated for Tuesday, Oct. 21. This free two-hour nature walk starts at 10 a.m. at the entrance to Losen Slote Creek Park in Little Ferry. Check meadowblog.net for last-minute weather updates. Participants are asked to sign a standard liability release for this event 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.

Lyndhurst Public Library, 353 Valley Brook Ave., hosts the following events:

  • Children ages 3 to 10 can meet “Belinda Bumble Bee” author Jennifer Katafigotis Wednesday, Oct. 22, 4 to 4:30 p.m. • Halloween craft, for K to grade 4, is held Monday, Oct. 27, 3:30 to 4:15 p.m.
  • Halloween Parade, for Pre- K to grade 3, steps off Friday, Oct. 31, at 3:30 p.m.
  • Book Club discusses “The Body in the Library” by Agatha Christie Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 6:30 p.m. Call the library at 201-804-2478, ext. 7, for more information and to obtain a copy of the book. Space is limited.

Registration is required for all of these events. To register, call the library at 201-804-2478.

The Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst sponsors a children’s Tricky Tray Oct. 18, at noon, at the Senior Building, 250 Cleveland Ave. Admission is $5. For tickets, call Janet at 201-935-1208.

Lyndhurst Health Department, 601 Riverside Ave., hosts a dinner and osteoporosis seminar Wednesday, Oct. 22, at 6 p.m., at the Senior Center, 250 Cleveland Ave. Call 201-804- 2500 to register.

North Arlington 

Queen of Peace Rosary Society sponsors a Tricky Tray Friday, Oct. 17, at 6 p.m., at San Carlo Fine Caterers, Lyndhurst. The $40 admission includes a four-course dinner and one sheet of small prize tickets. Among the prizes are gift baskets, gift certificates, an iPad and more. Grand prize values start at $500. For more information and tickets, call Betsy at 201-997-3914 or Pegeen at 201-246-1030.

North Arlington Elks Lodge 1992, 129 Ridge Road, hosts its 11th annual Memorial Tailgate Party on Sunday Oct. 19. The parking lot opens at noon. Admission is $ 20 (kids free). Queen of Peace Church in North Arlington will celebrate Priest Appreciation Sunday, Oct. 26, 1 to 3 p.m. Call 201-997- 0700 for more information.

North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Road, offers the following programs:

  • Computer Basics class is slated for Mondays in November from 6 to 7 p.m.
  • Decorative Arts program features a representative of the Newark Museum presenting an overview of the museum’s vast decorative arts collection Thursday, Oct. 23, at 6 p.m.
  • Woman’s Club Craft, open to K to grade 5, is held Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 6:30 p.m. No registration is required.

For more information, call the library at 201-955-5640. Registration is required, unless otherwise noted.

The Senior Harmony Club of North Arlington sponsors a trip to Trump Taj Mahal, Atlantic City, Tuesday, Oct. 21. Cost of the trip is $25. Attendees will receive $30 in slot play and $5 for food. Non-members are welcome. For reservations or more information, call Florence at 201-991-3173.

North Arlington Woman’s Club sponsors a beefsteak fundraiser Friday, Oct. 24, 7 to 11 p.m., at the Knights of Columbus hall, 194 River Road. Tickets are $40. Proceeds benefit various local charities. For tickets and more information, call Christine at 201-577-1088 or Fran Sardoni at 973-818-6421.

Nutley 

Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive, offers the following programs:

  • Teen Graphic Novel Club, open to grades 9 to 12, meets Monday, Oct. 20, at 3:30 p.m.
  • Teach a Librarian Minecraft, open to grades 7 to 12, is offered on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. The library will have food and some devices available but kids are encouraged to bring their own if they can.
  • Cook-with-a-Book Reading Club. for grades 4 to 6, meets Friday, Oct. 24, at 3:30 p.m. The group will discuss a book and cook up something fun to eat. Registration is required.
  • Halloween Costume Party is slated for Monday, Oct. 27, at 6:30 p.m. Registration is required.
  • Teen Zombie Night, open to grades 7 to 12, will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 28, at 6:30 p.m. This event includes zombie costume contest, pizza, games and a movie.
  • Pumpkin Painting, with pumpkins and supplies provided, is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 30, at 10:30 a.m. Wear an old T-shirt and bring a box to take your pumpkin home. This is open only to Nutley residents with library card. Registration is required.

For more information, call 973-667-0405.

UPDATE: 21-year-old Nutley man charged with breaking into elderly woman’s apartment

StephenNemec

Above: Stephen Nemec

A 21-year-old Nutley man has been arrested and charged with burglary after police say he broke into an elderly woman’s apartment.

Stephen Nemec is at the Essex County Jail, where he is being held on $25,000 bail, police say. He was unable to post the 10% cash option after his Oct. 9 arrest, reports say.

Police gave the following account of the Oct. 7 incident that led to Nemec’s arrest:

Police responded to the senior housing on William Street in response to an authorized man in a woman’s apartment. The 93-year-old victim told police that when she entered her apartment, located on the fourth floor, she was confronted by Nemec.

Police say Nemec handed the startled woman a candy bar and fled.

Police called to the scene reviewed video surveillance and determined Nemec entered the building behind an unsuspecting resident. He then proceeded to the fourth floor, and entered the woman’s apartment. Police say Nemec admitted to sneaking in behind the resident.

Nemec told police he entered the wrong apartment as he was looking for a friend who supposedly lived on the same floor, according to police.

— Kevin Canessa Jr.

Our sign has been updated!

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Here’s a look at our new sign — at our new location, 39 Seeley Ave., Kearny.

Lyndhurst hosting Columbus Day event

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The Township of Lyndhurst will hold a Columbus Day celebration Sunday, Oct. 12, from noon to 5 p.m., at Town Hall Park and Delafield Avenue. Music, food and vendors will be available, sponsored by New Memory Management.

For more information, call 201-966-3579.

Uniform salute

SONY DSC

By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 

NUTLEY –

Currently hanging in the office of Daniel Jacoby at the Nutley Bureau of Veteran Affairs, 149 Chestnut St., are two uniforms. One is Jacoby’s own camo garb, worn during the former U.S. Army specialist’s deployment in Iraq. The other is a bit older. Nearly a century old, in fact. It was worn during the war that was supposed to end all war.

Jacoby has displayed the two next to each other, but with the World War I uniform slightly in front of his, “to show respect for the generations that have gone before,” he explained.

The older uniform has breeches, resembling jodhpurs, that are laced at the bottom, the better to accomodate puttees and boots. The jacket bears a sergeant’s stripes and an embroidered caduceus, indicating that the wearer was a member of the Army Medical Corps.

That wearer was Sgt. Luke A. Kenney, who lived in Nutley from 1959 until his death at age 80 in 1973. It was his daughter, Pat Rush of Nutley, who donated the uniform to the Nutley Museum, to honor not only her father, but all veterans of the Great War. No date has yet been set, but sometime in the coming weeks there will be a special Historical Society ceremony, after which Kenney’s uniform will be permanently on display at the museum, 65 Church St.

Despite its age, the uniform is pristine, no apparent restoration necessary, despite the fact that, over all those decades, there were no special efforts to preserve it. “It was just hanging in his closet at home,” Rush told us.

Rush, who is a very young 83, decided to make the donation after attending a religious retreat, where she learned that a special retreat was being organized for veterans. She contacted Commissioner Steve Rogers about that planned program, and then offered the uniform as a veterans’ tribute.

Rush also has her father’s identity discs (the precursor of dogtags) and a collection of his military papers, but those treasures she is rightfully keeping to hand down to her children (she and her husband Robert had eight) and grandchildren.

The documents show that Luke Kenney of Newark, age 25, 5-foot-4, grey eyes, brown hair and “ruddy complexion,” was inducted into the Army on May 27, 1918, and was honorably discharged (also having been commended for his “excellent character”) on June 25, 1919 — the war having ended the previous November.

On Aug. 26, 1918, he had sailed for France, where he served as a medical technician with the American Expeditionary Forces. He arrived back in the U.S. on June 22, 1919. We don’t know at which port, but we assume it was New York. In any case, the Army noted that he was “entitled to a reduced fare to Newark.”

While in France, he became a corporal, on April 1, 1919, and was raised to the rank of sergeant exactly a month later. (Editor’s note: We don’t know his circumstances, but such rapid field promotions were not uncommon in World War I, the casualties among the troops being massive.)

Photos by Karen Zautyk Uniform details: Buttons bear Great Seal of the U.S.; below the sergeant's stripes is a caduceus, indicating Medical Corps.

Photos by Karen Zautyk
Uniform details: Buttons bear Great Seal of the U.S.; below the sergeant’s stripes is a caduceus, indicating Medical Corps.

“Did he ever talk about the war?” we asked Rush. “Very little,” she said.

“But he did talk about it being very cold. He had just two thin blankets, so he saved all his newspapers, including the Newark News, put them between the two blankets and stitched them all together.”

“He also talked about the Salvation Army,” she recalled. “He said that was the best group for coffee. He said the Knights of Columbus wouldn’t give you anything unless you paid for it.”

“And,” she added with a laugh, “he was a Knight!”

After returning to the States, Kenney and his wife, Marie, and their daughter lived in Newark and then Nutley. He worked for the City of Newark Water Department, retiring as superintendent.

Kenney was also active in veterans’ affairs, particularly the Newark chapter (Newark Barracks #90) of the Veterans of World War I, which had its headquarters in the Krueger Mansion on High St. (now called Martin Luther King Blvd.). Kenney became the commander and later served at the group’s chaplain, attending the wakes and funerals of all the deceased members.

At those wakes, the current Barracks #90 commander would offer a eulogy composed by Chaplain Kenney himself.

In part, it notes that the veterans in attendance were there “to pay our respects to a loyal, patriotic citizen whose service to his country deserves far more than our ability to give.”

It continues: “He contributed his bit, like other loyal Americans in the past, and the readiness to offer his life, if need be, to preserve for us those hard-earned rights of Freedom and Justice. . . .

“He assumed his duties in a strange land and risked exposure to the discomforts of war, hunger, disease and death.

“Yes, our buddy deserves far more than we here can offer.

“While we are but a few because of fast-diminishing ranks, there is nothing wanting in the sincerity of our grief at our buddy’s passing. May his soul rest in peace.”

On the back of this document, which is one of those Rush is keeping, she has penned a note for her family: “This eulogy was composed by your grandfather/greatgrandfather. How sincere, touching and well-written — by a gentleman who had an 8th grade education.”

And to us, she said, “I have always been so proud of my dad.”

Rightly so, Patsy.

Rightly so.

Scouts’ mission continues

GirlScouts_web

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

On March 20, 1960, the Girl Scout House in Kearny opened its doors, thereby kicking off a new era for a then-growing scouting movement among girls in West Hudson.

Today, with membership slacking off a bit locally and nationwide, the Kearny-based girl scouts want to send out a message to the communities of Kearny, Harrison and East Newark that the scouting mission is still operating.

But the home base at 635 Kearny Ave. could use a shot of adrenalin to keep it going so, to that end, the West Hudson Girl Scout Council – revamped in 1963 as the WeHudCo Trust to maintain the building – will hold a “rededication” of the Kearny House and kick off a fundraising drive on Saturday, Oct. 11, from 10 a.m. to noon. Mayor Alberto Santos will preside at a ceremonial ribbon- cutting slated for 11 a.m.

Girls from kindergarten to grade 12 and their parents are invited to attend the open house. There will be crafts for kids and everyone is welcome to pitch in with preparing decorations for the Girl Scouts float for the town’s upcoming Halloween Parade.

As a follow-up activity, the scouts have scheduled a Home Party Vendor Day for Saturday, Nov. 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Kearny House with proceeds of all sales going to the House fundraising drive.

Some background on the evolution of the Kearny House: Archibald Salmond is credited with the introduction of Girl Scouts to Kearny in 1918. The West Hudson Girl Scout Council was incorporated in 1930 to represent Kearny, Harrison, East Newark and North Arlington. Troops met in a rented storefront on Midland Ave. opposite the firehouse.

In Sept. 1955, New Jersey Gov. Robert Meyner signed a bill that allowed municipalities to give or lease property to organizations that previously excluded Boy and Girl Scouts. “Kearny was the first town to take advantage of it,” noted WeHudCo Trust member Teddie Jablonski, who began her foray into scouting as a Brownie in 1950.

In March 1956, Kearny leased the then-vacant lot at 635 Kearny Ave., off Columbia Ave., to the West Hudson Girl Scout Council for 99 years at $1 a year and the Council immediately began a fundraising effort to construct a headquarters. A total of $120,000 – including more than $20,000 from the DuPont Co.’s Arlington Employees Welfare Fund – was collected, of which $80,000 was used to complete the building, with the balance to be used for office staff and future maintenance.

The cornerstone was laid in 1960 and the first troop meeting was held at the House in 1961. Today, it’s is one of the few facilities wholly owned by a Girl Scout unit in the state. Most meet in schools or houses of worship. The Kearny House is open to – and has hosted — girl scout troops from as far as Canada.

The Trust, which is now known as WeHudCo, Inc., has recently been granted 501 (c)(3) tax exempt status. With its contingency fund pretty well depleted, it is gearing up to raise money “to ensure the future of our building, our Kearny Scout House, and the future of the Girl Scout program,” said Jablonski.

For the present, she said, that means repairs to the roof, downspouts, new gutters, flushing out of the main drain, waterproofing the basement, fixing the blacktop in back, updating the kitchen and new drapes.

Today, the West Hudson unit – which claimed nearly 400 members in the late 1990s – has fallen off to 70 scouts and 17 adult volunteer leaders doing cookie sales, learning cooking, sewing and knitting skills, as well as community service projects like food and clothing drives for post-Sandy victims, holiday toy drives for kids in the hospital and darning little wool hats for infants.

And scout leaders are finding new ways to connect with girls. Margy Hill, with 40 years in scouting in Belleville and Kearny, recently moved to Pennsylvania but is still leading a troop of older girls through weekly “video meets” via Google Plus and monthly in-person meets in Kearny.

“Scouting is something I’m very passionate about,” Hill said. “It’s a big priority for me. I grew up in a scouting family and I love seeing what the girls get out of it,” particularly in developing life and leadership skills.

Hill recalled one ex-scout calling her “to thank me for making her participate in selling cookies” because she found later that the experience of going out and dealing with consumers stood her in good stead “when she got her first job in retail sales.”

“That, to me, was high praise,” said Hill.

All creatures great and small

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By Karen Zautyk

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

If you were out and about Saturday morning, you know that the rains were torrential — biblical, one might say. But this did not deter pet owners from gathering at the Archdiocesan Youth Center (formerly Boystown) for the annual Blessing of the Animals. (We expected to see some ducks, since it was nice weather for them, but none attended.)

Various events in Observer towns were postponed because of the downpour, but we knew this particular one would go on on rain or shine.

A large canopy was erected on the Belgrove Drive property to protect the pets and people who huddled there.

And despite the deluge, this was a place of warmth and brightness, for it is a joy to be among humans who care so much for their non-human companions.

As he does each year, Msgr. John Gilchrist presided at the ceremony, which took place near the statue of St. Francis of Assisi, whose feast day is Oct. 4.

Many churches, both Catholic and Protestant, hold similar programs on or around that date.

To Catholics, St. Francis has for centuries been known as the patron saint of animals, and in 1979, he got an additional assignment when Pope John Paul II declared him patron saint of ecology/ the environment. (By the way, one of the pets at the blessing was a cat called John Paul. “Yes, he’s named for the Pope,” his human companion noted.)

 

 

Photos by Karen Zautyk Top Nozi Chinosi and human Mai (same last name), and Gidget, with human Roseanne Evaristo.

Photos by Karen Zautyk
Top Nozi Chinosi and human Mai (same last name), and Gidget, with human Roseanne Evaristo.

The annual blessing is a reminder not only of St. Francis’ love for God’s creatures, but also that they are, indeed, God’s creatures and that they have been placed in mankind’s care. It is our duty to be their stewards, be they the pets who share our homes or the wild beasts and birds and fish, et al, who share our world.

As the communal prayer preceding the actual blessing noted, God has given humankind rule over His works, including: “All sheep and oxen, yes, and animals of the field, the birds of the air, the fishes of the sea, and whatever swims the paths of the seas.”

The prayer of blessing notes that God “created the world to serve humanity’s needs” and asks: “Give us the grace to see all animals as gifts from You and to treat them with respect for they are Your creation.”

And then, all the little gifts who were on Belgrove Drive were brought forward by their owners to be sprinkled with holy water. (We have attended several of these programs in the past, and it has always amazed us that even the barkiest dogs went quiet when the ceremony began.)

Afterwards, goody bags of pet food and treats were distributed to the attendees, who then headed home through all the rain.

As we were leaving, we glanced toward the Passaic River at the foot of the hill. We can’t be sure, but we think we saw an ark down there.

Perkins calls it a day

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By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

LYNDHURST – 

Seven years after it opened its doors, a popular Lyndhurst eatery sadly bade farewell to its many loyal customers this past Sunday.

Perkins Family Restaurant & Bakery, in the Valley Brook Ave. mall across from Township Hall, closed after being unable to come to terms on a new lease with the landlord, Lyndhurst Residential Community 2 LLC of Edison, said owner Patti Moretta.

Moretta said she has no plans to reopen at another location.

“I’m not moving anywhere else – I’m done,” she said.

Patrons who want a Perkins dining experience will have to venture out to Woodbridge, the closest to Lyndhurst.

Her departure will mark the second retailer in the mall to fold. A Mandee shop closed about a year and a half ago and the space remains empty today.

The loss of Perkins will leave 24 employees out of jobs including the restaurant’s acting GM James Mojonick of Kearny who has worked there the past two and a half years.

“I’ll miss the staff and Patti,” Mojonick said. “It’s like a family here. Very few times do you get to work at a place, especially in a cutthroat world of business, and find that the people you’re working with are more like a family, where we can be somewhat laid back but still get the job done.”

Longtime customers like Eileen and Bill Gallagher of North Arlington readily agreed. “It’s been one of our favorite spots for the past six years,” said Eileen. “We like the people, it’s clean, comfortable and the food is good.”

Husband Bill added: “The people who work here do a wonderful job, they’re respectful and we get our food on time. It’s a shame they’re closing. We come here at least once a week, mostly for the turkey dinner.”

It’s been a rollercoaster of a ride for Moretta.

When the Totowa resident acquired the Perkins franchise and decided to set up shop in Lyndhurst, “this place was just a cement slab when I came here.” It cost her $1.5 million to build the restaurant, she said.

Once she got going, though, she never stopped. “Each year, we only closed on Christmas,” she said. “And we were the only place open the day after the hurricane, Sandy, hit, in 2012. I brought in a bunch of power surges so our staff and customers could charge their phones.”

Moretta, who grew up in Glen Ridge, has always been food-conscious. After graduating from Glen Ridge High School, she went to Syracuse University where she got her degree in therapeutic nutrition.

She applied her academic knowledge during an eightyear stint as registered dietician at Clara Maass Medical Center and 11 years as public health nutrition counselor and Meals on Wheels coordinator in Passaic.

“I’ve actually been working since I was 15,” she said.

Her dad was a part-owner of a Holiday Inn complex in Totowa and she tinkered with the idea of bringing a Perkins there but, instead, picked Lyndhurst for its easy access to Rt. 3 and other highway transit links.

Eventually, she succeeded in building a customer base that extended to places like Secaucus, Fort Lee, West Milford and even New York.

Mother’s and Father’s Day turned out to be big draws. “Some of my former employees would come in and work for free,” Moretta recalled, “just because they wanted to.” And, every Christmas Day, she’d throw a holiday party for her employees.

Over the years, the Lyndhurst Perkins has sought to give back to the community, Moretta said.

“We’ve donated muffins, pies and cookies to veterans, we allowed them to put their coin box on the front counter. I’ve gotten awards from the local VFW for our loyalty to veterans.

“We sponsored Lyndhurst High School football team towels and, for the past three or four years, we’ve worked with the high school’s developmentally disabled program here at the restaurant.

“Anybody who knocked on my door got a donation, whether it was a Tricky Tray or whatever,” she said.

Still, it hasn’t always been a piece of cake. “In some ways, it’s been an uphill battle since we opened in October 2007,” she said.“There was Sandy, of course, and there were 29 days where my customers had nowhere to park because the mall spaces were taken up by events being held by the township or by police vehicles. Then, on top of that, we had the construction [of barrier walls] on Rt. 3 where people couldn’t use the Lyndhurst exit.”

And there were the annual rent increases assessed by the property owner.

But despite her travails, Moretta says the struggle was worth it and, as proof of the pudding, she showed The Observer a book of tributes logged in by thankful customers – a souvenir of her days in Lyndhurst she’ll always treasure.