web analytics

Category: News

Kardinal 5K Race set for Sept. 6


Kearny High School is seeking entrants for its second annual Kardinal 5K, slated for Saturday, Sept. 6, with proceeds to benefit KHS student activities. Walkers are also welcome. The start and finish line will be at the KHS track.

Here’s the schedule: registration is at 7 a.m.; the 5K Race begins at 8:30 a.m.; a 1-mile Run for Kids starts at 9:30 a.m.; and a Kids Fun Run gets underway at 10 a.m.

Immediately after the Kids Fun Run, 5K Race awards will be given to the top participant in each age division: 9-12, 13- 19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59 and 60-plus.

The cost is $25 for preregistration on or before Sept. 1; $30 on race day; $5 for each additional family member; and $5 for students. Checks payable to Kearny High School will be accepted. A free T-shirt will be given to the first 100 participants who register.

For online registration, go to www.eliteracingsystems.com.

For more information, call John Millar at 201-955-5050, ext. 1, or email kardinal5k@kearnyschools.

Alert citizen alerts the KPD

A call from a concerned citizen about a suspicious individual led to the early -morning arrest Aug. 18 of a Kearny man on multiple charges, Kearny police reported.

The caller notified headquarters at 5:20 a.m. that a man was possibly breaking into vehicles in the area of Chestnut St. and Oakwood Ave. Officer Ben Wuelfing saw and detained the suspect, Andrew Worth, 22, at Midland Ave. and Beech St., and also saw a clear plastic bag containing suspected marijuana protruding from Worth’s backpack, police said.

After arresting him on the drug charge, Wuelfing searched the pack. Police said it was found to contain: a Garmin GPS, a Magellan GPS, a Verizon cell phone, sunglasses, a digital camera, a wristwatch, a new padlock still in its packaging, a silver ring, two iPods, a Bank of America Visa card and more than $300 in loose change and currency.

Sgt. Paul Bershefski, who had responded to the original call and checked parked vehicles, located an owner who said his car had been entered and some of the items were his, police reported.

Worth was charged with receiving stolen property, credit card theft and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

Other recent reports from the KPD blotter included the following:

Aug. 15 

At 10 p.m., a call came in from Quick Chek reporting that a shoplifter had just fled the store. Officer Glenn Reed got a description and direction of flight, and Officer Wuelfing spotted the suspect on Chestnut St. Jose Rodriguez, 40, of Newark — allegedly in possession of 27 packs of gum and four cans of Red Bull — was brought back to the store, identified and arrested. Police Chief John Dowie said this marked the 15th time since 2009 that Rodriguez was arrested by the KPD for shoplifting or on warrants for same.

Aug. 16 

Officer Daniel Esteves, responding to a 6:20 p.m. accident on the Passaic River bridge in South Kearny, found that an SUV operated by Jackeline Garcia, 31, of Elizabeth had rearended an auto. He also found that a 2-year-old boy in Garcia’s vehicle was not in a proper car restraint, and that she had a suspended license and a warrant out of Fairfield, police said. She was charged on those violations and also with careless driving and failure to exhibit vehicle documents.

Aug. 18 

At Kearny and Midland Aves. at 7:45 p.m., Officer John Fabula spotted a man whom he knew to be the subject of a Kearny warrant for terroristic threats stemming from a domestic dispute. After this was confirmed, Hector Reyesvendrell, 32, of Newark was arrested and brought to headquarters.

Aug. 19 

Following an investigation, Det. Michael Gonzalez arrested Carlos Flores, 39, of Newark in connection with the theft of a purse from an 82-year-old Kearny woman at ShopRite on Aug. 7. Police said Flores had also used the woman’s credit card in Newark. He was charged with credit-card theft and theft of property lost or mislaid. The purse and its contents were recovered and returned to the victim.

Aug. 20 

Det. Gonzalez and Lt. Tim Wagner, on assignment in the area of Walmart at 3 p.m., saw a Honda with a broken windshield and missing vent window enter and leave the store lot. Stopping it on Harrison Ave. for the vehicle violations, they reportedly detected a strong odor of raw marijuana and saw drug paraphernalia in plain view.

Police said the driver, Christian Rosa, 21, of Harrison, admitted to pot possession and produced from the console two digital scales and a container with four large plastic bags of the drug. He also consented to a search of a backpack that reportedly held four more bags of the suspected drug, six packs of glassine bags, a marijuana grinder, a box of 80 sandwich bags, a bag with pot residue, and 43 rounds of 9 mm. blank ammunition.

Rosa’s car was impounded and he was taken to HQ, where the marijuana was weighed and found to amount to 56.3 grams, police said. He was charged with possession of the drug and paraphernalia, possession of more than 50 grams, possession with intent to distribute, driving with a suspended license, operating a MV while in possession of a CDS and operating a MV with a cracked windshield.

Officer Peter Blair was on Pulaski Skyway traffic duty at 5 p.m. when he spotted a 2008 Audi with no front license plate. Checking the vehicle on his mobile computer, he found that the registered owner had a suspended license and a Cranford warrant, police said. Carlos Gonzalez, 30, of Belleville was charged on the aforementioned offenses and with failure to surrender a suspended license.

At 9:40 p.m., Officers Brian Wisely and Tom Sumowski responded to a noise complaint at Davis and Wilson Aves. and arrived to find two men “screaming at each other” on the street. As the officers tried to separate them, Juan Ramirez, 18, of Kearny reportedly hit the other man, a 39-year-old township resident.

Ramirez was arrested for simple assault.

 Aug. 21 

Officer Wisely, on patrol on the 500 block of Devon St. at 3 p.m., observed 19-year-old Fabian Arroyo of Kearny, who he knew was wanted on a $10,000- bail burglary warrant from Kearny. This was confirmed and Arroyo was arrested.

Aug. 22 

Officer John Travelino, on Pulaski Skyway traffic detail at 8 a.m., saw an individual walking near the now-abandoned Skyway Diner while apparently rolling a marijuana cigarette. Police said after the officer’s olfactory senses confirmed his suspicions, he recovered a joint and a small baggie of pot and arrested Angel Cotto- Reyes, 30, of Newark for possession of the drug and paraphernalia

– Karen Zautyk 

Business, bikes targeted: NPD blotter

The owner of a Franklin Ave. business under construction in Nutley has been a victim of repeated breakins, according to police.

In the initial incident, on Aug. 19, police said the owner arrived at the shop – which is being renovated for the new business – and found the front door open and scaffolding – valued at about $150 – placed outside, missing.

In a subsequent episode, on Aug. 20, the owner told police that a rear steel door had been pried open and that a circular saw, priced at $150, and a Ryobi grinder, priced at $75, had been removed. A witness reported seeing a vehicle parked in front of the store with two males inside at the time of the incident, police said.

In the third case, on Aug. 21, police said that someone tried to pry open the rear door and, in doing so, damaged the dead bolt and the door.

Police said detectives are continuing to investigate.

Police are advising bike owners to lock away their bikes as a precaution in the wake of two cases of bicycle theft from outside locations on Kingsland St. that were reported during the week.

In the first incident, Aug. 19, a Kingsland St. resident reported the theft of their son’s Huffy DS5 mountain bike, black with yellow accents, with white shock covers, valued at $150. Police said the bike was last seen in the rear of the resident’s house.

And, on Aug. 22, another Kingsland St. resident told police their bike was missing when they went outside to get it. They said they’d placed it overnight in the driveway in the rear of their house. It was described as a Huffy mountain bike, blue with purple streaks.

Among other matters listed on the NPD blotter for the past week were these incidents:

Aug. 18 

A Warren St. resident reported a computer scam. Police said the resident’s computer was frozen with a screen message demanding that the resident pay $300 through Money Pak to the “Department of Justice” for alleged violations.

A motor vehicle stop, along Washington Ave., resulted in the arrest of Fernando Torres, 20, of Belleville, on charges of possession with intent to distribute drugs, possession with intent to distribute drugs within 500 feet of a park (Monsignor Owens Park), possession with intent to distribute drugs within 1,000 feet of a school (Washington School), possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Torres was also ticketed on charges of unsafe vehicle, failure to signal turn and possession of drugs in a motor vehicle. He was taken to Essex County Jail on $25,000 bail with no 10% option.

Another motor vehicle stop for alleged speeding, on Rt. 21 North, led to the arrest of Glenn Corrasco- Lopez, 26, of Union City, on active warrants from Union City and Edgewater. The driver was also issued summonses charging him with driving while suspended, failure to exhibit license, failure to exhibit insurance, failure to exhibit registration, expired license, uninsured motor vehicle, careless driving and speeding.

Aug. 19 

Police were called to a Passaic Ave. location on a report of illegal dumping. Police said they found 10 black garbage bags filled with rock and cement on the property line at Friedland Road. A canvas of neighbors to learn the source was unsuccessful, police said. DPW was alerted to remove the debris.

A resident reported the theft of about $16,000 worth of assorted jewelry from their home during the last two and a half weeks. Detectives are following up. The resident’s location wasn’t disclosed by police.

Someone removed a stone bearing a Coeyman Ave. resident’s house number from the resident’s front lawn. Police searched the area but came up empty.

Aug. 20 

An apparent identity theft victim told police that someone had charged several California-based transactions totaling $4,600, dating from April, to their PayPal account, all of which were unauthorized. The victim was entered in a regional database as an ID theft victim, police said.

A Howe Ave. resident reported being the recipient of multiple annoying phone calls during the past few weeks from the same Ontario phone exchange where the caller – who refers to the resident by their first name – is continually requesting remote access to the resident’s computer.

Aug. 21 

Another identity theft victim reported that two credit cards – one from Capital One bank that has since been canceled and the other, unknown – were opened in their name. That victim has been entered in the national data base for ID theft, police said.

– Ron Leir 


Around Town


Belleville Elks, 254 Washington Ave., host a Type O blood drive Wednesday, Aug. 27, 5 to 9 p.m., for Belleville residents and all surrounding communities. No appointment is needed. Priority is for Type O blood but all types of blood will be accepted. The entire process takes less than one hour. Donors must be at least age 17, weigh at least 120 pounds and be in generally good health.

East Newark

West Hudson Brave Women Fighting Breast Cancer meets on the last Friday of every month from 7 to 9 p.m. at the East Newark Senior Center, 37 President St. For more information, call Emma at 201-998-6828, Rosa at 201-246- 7750, Fatima at 973-485-4236 or email emidura2@ yahoo.com.


Holy Cross Church sponsors a bus trip to the Taj Mahal, Atlantic City, on Sunday, Aug. 31. The bus departs from Holy Cross School, 15 Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. S., at 10 a.m. Refreshments will be served in the school basement at 9:15 a.m. A $30 donation is requested, with a $25 return in slot play. For reservations, call Joan at 973-481-2434. (Leave your name, phone number and number of people attending).


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 Mc- Court Jackes atkathyjackes yahoo.com or 908- 303-9993; Kathy Walsh Vecchio at katvec46 gmail.com or 973-865- 0402 or Nancy Branin Waller at nancy.waller2@ verizon.net or 201-889-6229 by Sept. 25.

The community is invited to enjoy food and music at an Hispanic Festival Sept. 7 at St. Cecilia’s Church, 120 Kearny Ave., in the church’s parking lot. A Spanish Mass will be offered at the church at 12:30 p.m. and the festival begins at 2 p.m. Email ngonzalez@ stceciliakearny.org for more information.

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 phylpmae@ aol.com. Guests are welcome.

Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 136 Davis Ave., begins its annual nine-week St. Jude Novena with Monsignor John J. Gilchrist Monday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m. All are welcome.

The Woman’s Club of Arlington hosts an Autumn Harvest Social Tuesday, Sept. 9, 1 to 3 p.m., at the Girl Scout House, 635 Kearny Ave. Admission is free. Members and non-members alike may bring friends interested in joining the club as well as children, grandchildren, sisters, mothers, etc. for a fun, social afternoon.

To attend, contact Jennifer Cullen at 201-991-6612 or Teddie Jablonski at 973-248-6500.

Kearny UNICO hosts these events:

• A 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, 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.

Kearny Lions Club sponsors a bus trip to Sands Casino, Bethlehem, Pa., Sept. 27, leaving from 60 Kingsland Ave. at 9 a.m. Price is $35. Tickets include $20 for slots and a $5 food voucher. For tickets, call Alvin at 201-997-9371, ext. 18, or Jo Ann at 201-998-3018.


The Lyndhurst Health Department is collecting donations for students in need. Backpacks, marble composition books, notebooks, dividers, loose paper, crayons and 3-ring binders are requested. Drop off donations at the Health Department, 601 Riverside Ave., Suite 1, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., through Aug. 31. People with children in need of school supplies are asked to contact the Health Department at 201- 804-2500 to schedule a pick-up of the needed supplies. Be prepared to give child’s gender and grade level.

Lyndhurst Public Library, 355 Valley Brook Ave., has purchased vouchers to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City through its library membership program. Each voucher can be redeemed for free general admission and one special exhibition, film, or live animal exhibition of the visitor’s choosing. The vouchers are available in the library’s children’s room to patrons with a valid BCCLS Lyndhurst Library card. For more information, call the library at 201-804-2478, ext. 7, or email romeo@ lyndhurst.bccls.org.

The library hosts “The Daily Life of the Civil War Soldier” Wednesday Sept. 10, at 6:15 p.m., presented by speakers from LetHistoryLive.net. Space is limited and registration is necessary. To register, call or email the library.

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, but held at the Health Department, Friday, Sept. 12 at 10 a.m.

• A bi-annual chiroprac tic 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.

The Township of Lyndhurst hosts a Labor Day Weekend Antique and Craft Fair on Sunday, Aug. 31, at Town Hall Park. There’ll be live music throughout the day, a wide selection of specialty foods and a children’s play area. For more information, call 201-321- 2756 or email robin.brystra@ gmail.com.

Guest of the fair are invited to give blood at the Blood Center of New Jersey’s bloodmobile from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Donors must be at least age 17, bring a sign or picture form of ID and know their Social Security number. There is no upper age limit for donors provided they meet health requirements. For those who have recently traveled outside the U.S. and for other eligibility questions, call the blood center at 973-676-4700, ext. 132, or 1-800-652-5663.

Registration is open for a walk to benefit the American Diabetes Association set for Sunday, Oct. 5, at Riverside County Park, Riverside Ave. (entrance on Valley Brook Ave.) Participants must check in at 9 a.m. and the walk begins at 11 a.m. The event will include vendors, health seminars and activities for kids. To register, visit www.diabetes. org/lyndhurstwalk.

Interested participants may register now for Lyndhurst Police Emergency Squad’s 3rd annual 5k run set for Sunday, Oct. 5, beginning at 8:30 a.m., at the Recreation Center, Valley Brook and Polito Aves.

Water stations and emergency personnel will be set up throughout the course.

Visit www.lpes5k.com to register online, for a printout and mail-in application, or to get an application by mail. Anyone interested in being a sponsor is invited to email tnunes@emergencysquad.com.

Kick off the NFL season by joining the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and the Bergen County Audubon Society on a free, 2-hour guided Back to Football bird walk Sunday, Sept. 7, 10 a.m. to noon, in DeKorte Park. Prizes will be awarded to the first people who see any bird species with the same name as a pro football team, such as: cardinal, raven, falcon, eagle, seahawk (osprey), giant (great) egret and giant (great) blue heron. All seven team bird species can be seen in the park. Check meadowblog.net for last-minute weather updates. Participants are asked to sign a standard liability release that is good for NJMC/ BCAS events throughout the year. To RSVP, contact Don Torino of the BCAS at Greatauk4@aol.com or call 201-230- 4983.

 North Arlington 

Openings are available for the Queen of Peace Ladies Bowling League. The season starts Wednesday, Sept. 2, at 12:45 p.m., at North Arlington Bowl, 200 Schuyler Ave. To join, call Betsy at 201-997- 3914.

North Arlington Senior Activity Center, 11 York Road (at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church), hosts a fall bingo luncheon Friday, Sept. 5, starting at 10:30 a.m., with lunch at noon, followed by bingo, games and special prizes from 1 to 3 p.m. For more information and reservations, call 201-998-5636.

Tickets are now on sale for North Arlington Woman’s Club’s beefsteak fundraiser set for 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.


Join Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive, for a film screening, story time and more. A list of scheduled programs follows. To register for programs, or for more information, call the library at 973-667-0405. No registration is required unless otherwise noted:

• Adult library patrons are  invited to join bridge Tuesdays at 1 p.m., Conversational ESL class Wednesdays at 10 a.m. and Wednesday Afternoon Knitters at 1 p.m. (Bring your own supplies).

• The film “Non-Stop” will  be September’s installment of the library’s “First Friday Films” program Sept. 5 at 2 p.m.

• Registration is required  for Back to School Story Time, set for Monday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m. School-age children up to grade 6 can enjoy stories, songs, crafts and snacks.

• Ages 10 and up can learn  how pop-up books are made and even create a pop-up character for their own book with Patti Ann Harris, executive art director for Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Saturday, Sept. 13, at 11 a.m. Registration is required.

• Children in grades 2 and  up can learn the basics of computer coding, the foundation for “programming literacy,” Sept. 17 and 24, 3:30  to 4:30 p.m. Registration is required.

One (un)lucky dog


A walk in the park turned out to be anything but for a man and his dog last week. While the two were on an afternoon stroll along the banks of the Passaic River, the dog was shot and wounded, apparently by someone firing a weapon from the Newark side of the river. The man was not hit, and the dog survived.

Kearny police said the shooting, which they described as an “isolated incident,” occurred about 1:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 18, in Riverbank Park, but it was not reported until the following morning.

The man, a township resident, was walking his canine north along the river between Bergen Ave. and Afton St. when the dog was hit in the left side by a small projectile, fired from either a pellet gun or a small-caliber rifle, police said. The owner rushed his pet to a veterinary hospital, where it received emergency treatment.

According to Kearny Police Chief John Dowie, the pellet “was so small, the doctor felt it would do more damage to remove it” than to leave it in. “But the dog’s okay.”

The chief assured the public that there is “no mad sniper” on the prowl.

Whoever fired the shot “was not lying in wait for the dog,” Dowie said.

The section of Newark across the Passaic from the scene has “a lot of abandoned buildings,” Dowie noted. Kearny detectives went to the area after the report came in Aug. 19, “but nothing of evidentiary value was found.”

 -Karen Zautyk 

Seeking buyer


Stewart’s Drive-in, a longstanding Kearny business at 938 Passaic Ave., is on the market. The property is just south of the Cpl. Osbrany Montes de Oca Memorial (Belleville Turnpike) Bridge.

Post 99 is 95!


By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 


Ninety-five years ago this week — Aug. 19, 1919 — 13 veterans of the Great War, as World War I was then known, gathered in the Kearny home of Fred E. Portz to organize a local chapter of the American Legion.

Along with Portz, those founding members were Alfred Feickert, Willis E. Wood, Dr. John F. Hanold, John Hanly, Asher I. Roberts, Charles Whitehead, Al Downing, Robert Downing, Dr. Edward H. Willan, George Winne, Roland M. Ellis and Alexander Brockway.

We list them all here because it was from this small group that emerged one of the strongest Legion chapters in the country, J.E. Frobisher Jr. Post 99.

With the approval of the hero’s family, it was named for the late Joseph Edwin Frobisher Jr. of Kearny, a U.S. Army Signal Corps pilot who had been shot down over France in 1918.

The Post received a temporary charter in October 1919 and a permanent charter in May 1921.

The meetings were first held at the Arlington Players Club (at the time located off Midland Ave.) and later at Town Hall, then the Exempt Firemen’s Headquarters and then the Elks Lodge.

In 1923, Post 99 could stop bouncing around, its having acquired the Burroughs mansion on Midland Ave., where the Kearny Post Office is now located. The real estate investment proved wise: The Legionnaires bought the property for $15,000 and sold it in 1930 when they received an offer for more than twice that price.

For several years, they met in the Patterson Building on Kearny Ave., and then they moved to the headquarters they still occupy, at 314 Belgrove Dr., across from what is now called Veterans Field.

That structure, by the way, had been the carriage house and stable for the Old Soldiers Home, which moved to Menlo Park after many decades in Kearny. Post members did the renovations — as, thanks to the current efforts of former Commander Anthony Capitti, they are now repairing and renovating the building that has been in continual use as a meeting hall/gathering place since 1936.

Post 99’s primary mission has always been to assist veterans. Even back in 1919, its programs involved vets’ insurance, cooperation with the Red Cross on veterans’ matters, and outreach to the community. But at the height of its activities, between the wars and with an influx of veterans after World War II, it also sponsored student essay and oratorical contests, a competitive drum and bugle corps and basketball, baseball, softball and bowling teams.

Photo by Karen Zautyk Walter Tomasheski, Post 99 fi nance offi cer (l.) and Commander Keith McMillan

Photo by Karen Zautyk
Walter Tomasheski, Post 99 finance officer (l.) and Commander Keith McMillan


In the 1940s, it organized the Kearny Civilian Police Reserve force, which supplemented the KPD through 1946. And following World War II, it was instrumental in the development of veterans’ housing, including 25 homes built on Passaic Ave. The program was so successful, and garnered so much attention, Post 99 received requests for advice from more than 200 localities nationwide.

You can also thank Post 99 for the existence of the veterans’ memorial park between Kearny Ave. and Beech St., north of Quincy Ave. The Legionnaires bought the land, donated it to the town and raised funds for the first monument, the towering World War I memorial, which was personally dedicated by Gen. John J. Pershing on May 27, 1922.

Now, lest you think your correspondent did massive research to collect all this knowledge, she did not. It comes courtesy of Fred E. Portz, the same gentleman who hosted that 1919 organizational meeting.

When he died in 1964, Portz was in the process of compiling and writing the Post 99 history. It was published posthumously by his widow, Jessie E. Portz, who noted she had it “printed unedited.” (You’d never guess. It looks pretty neat to our copyeditor’s eyes.) It was from this booklet that we harvested the information presented above.

Today, like many other veterans’ groups, American Legion Post 99 is dealing with diminishing membership. Over the last decade or so, it has dropped from 325 to 187, primarily due to the loss of the WWII generation. But this is not discouraging current Post Commander Keith McMillan. A lifelong Kearny resident, McMillan is an Air Force veteran who served three tours of duty in Kyrgyzstan, Iraq and Afghanistan. His father and grandfather were both Post members. He joined in 2004, and he is anxious to recruit new blood.

“I understand that most of the guys coming back want to start a new chapter in their life — getting a job, starting a family,” McMillan said, but he has hopes the younger vets will join.

Walter Tomasheski, the finance officer and a Vietnam-era Navy veteran, noted, “The No. 1 thing for the Post right now is getting newer members, younger members. They join, but they do not get active.”

“We’re trying to communicate with the new generation of veterans,” McMillan said, adding, “We are fortunate enough to be next door to the VFW and close to the Marine Corps League, and we’re starting to work more together.”

“Each is unique,” the commander continued, “but we have a common understanding: We all served. And we have a common commitment — keeping the heritage and history alive and helping other veterans.”

In 2012, Post 99 Auxiliary President Mary Alyn Fisher spearheaded the launch of a new project, Kearny VOICE (Veterans Outreach Information Community & Education), which is partnered with the VFW and Marine Corps League. VOICE provides Kearny veterans and their families with information and assistance regarding benefits, claims, counseling, education and job training.

After 95 years, American Legion Post 99 has lost none of its commitment to its founders’ goals.

(Editor’s note: Next month, on the anniversary of his death, we will write more about the man for whom Post 99 is named, Joseph E. Frobisher Jr.)

Pressing for bridge funding


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


Lawmakers from all levels of government, led by State Sen. President Stephen Sweeney, assembled for a press conference on the banks of the Passaic River Aug. 12 to declare their support for a replacement for the 109-year-old DeJessa Memorial Bridge that links Lyndhurst and Nutley.

To that end, the counties of Bergen and Essex will be applying jointly to the N.J. Transportation Planning Authority for an endorsement to undertake the project together with the Federal Highway Administration.

Applications for the “concept development phase” of the authority’s transportationrelated Local Capital Projects Delivery Program are due to the NJTPA by Sept. 12 for the next funding cycle’s consideration, according to authority spokesman David Behrund.

That program provides federal funding for projects led by counties in the region, Behrund said. After technical review of proposals, NJTPA’s Board of Trustees will vote to allocate a total of $2.5 million in funding for successful applicants in January 2015.

President Obama has signed a bill that provides nearly $11 billion to fund bridge and highway repairs over the next 10 months.


Photos by Ron Leir


Cost for a new bridge – bigger, wider, stronger – is tentatively pegged at $15 million but Bergen County Public Works Director Joe Crifasi, who is helping draft the application, said: “There are estimates it could go as high as $30 million to $40 million.”

While the experts may differ on how much would be spent – if the application is successful – the legislators all agree that the existing two-lane bridge, at Kingsland and Riverside Aves., has got to go because it can’t adequately handle the current volume of traffic: some 40,000 vehicles cross it daily and about half that number travel Riverside, making for slow-going at peak hours at that poorly signalized intersection.

Adding to the snarls is a traffic signal at the Rt. 21 North ramp on the Nutley side of the bridge which is out of sync with the light at the intersection. Construction along Rt. 3 causing diversion of traffic to the bridge has also contributed to tie-ups.



The bridge, a swing span, lifts and spins to the center of the river to let boats pass through, but its ancient mechanical system “precludes us from opening it efficiently,” Crifasi said. Bergen and Essex have shared an annual maintenance cost on the bridge at between $100,000 and $200,000, he said.

In a letter to the NJTPA, Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., a Democrat representing the 9th Congressional District, characterized the DeJessa bridge as “functionally obsolete and structurally deficient. … Furthermore, the traffic at the intersections surrounding the bridge is unbearable and is creating economic consequences for daily commuters as well as a number of local business establishments.”

One of those business owners is Nutley Mayor Alphonse Petracco, who, with his brother, in April, opened the Riva Blue restaurant-lounge just off the bridge in Lyndhurst. Bridge traffic delay “is the biggest complaint we get in Nutley,” the mayor said at last Tuesday’s event. “It’s time to act before there’s a serious accident.”

Those conditions make it clear, Pascrell wrote, that “a two-lane bridge built in 1905 cannot possibly meet the needs of the modern day.”

In the meantime, Lyndhurst Mayor Robert Giangeruso said he’s “taken the lead” to get Bergen County to redesign and widen the Kingsland/ Riverside intersection that will take out the traffic island, provide new turning lanes and improved signalization, along with a new Rt. 21 ramp. JC Improvement & Construction Corp. of Bloomfield has been contracted to do the job for $856,000 and Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan said the contract calls for a 180-day completion. It took Lyndhurst several years to acquire privately-owned easements needed to do the work. Also, PSE&G will be relocating several utility poles.



But the DeJessa bridge is only one example of what Sweeney – an ironworker by trade — labeled as “the crisis in the state with crumbling infrastructure” at a time when the Transportation Trust Fund “is broke.” So he said he’s campaigning “to refund the Trust.” Otherwise, he wondered: “What business is going to move to New Jersey when there’s no Transportation Trust Fund?”

Facing a new gun charge


By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 


A Kearny man, who two years ago accidentally shot himself in the jaw with a Smith & Wesson .38 revolver, was arrested last week in Newark on weapons charges. This time, authorities said, he was in possession of an AR-15 assault rifle. There was no indication he had ever accidentally shot himself with that.

James J. Hamilton, 23, of Kearny was arrested Aug. 13 along with Jonathan Garcia, 30, of Newark, after a raid on a home at 33 Taylor St. in that city by the Essex County Narcotics Task Force.

Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray and Newark Police Director Eugene Venable said both men were charged with possession of an assault weapon (a Bushmaster Carbon AR-15), possession of a high-capacity magazine and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon (both being convicted felons).

The Task Force, which was executing a search warrant at the address, reportedly also seized 28 live .223-caliber rounds and a semi-automatic .40-caliber Hi-point JCP pistol.

Kearny Police Chief John Dowie said Hamilton (a/k/a “White Boy”) has a township arrest record dating to 2010 that includes shoplifting, drug and weapons charges.

Back in July 2012, the KPD responded to a shooting at a rooming house at 344 Kearny Ave., Hamilton’s place of residence at the time, and found him lying outside on the sidewalk, bleeding profusely from a bullet wound to the jaw.

Officers followed a trail of blood to his second-floor apartment, where copious amounts splattered the floor and walls.

Hamilton had shot himself accidentally, and a friend who was visiting at the time hid the gun, police said. During a search for the weapon, Kearny Det. Ray Lopez climbed a tree near the rooming house and spotted it on the roof of an adjacent garage.

While Hamilton was hospitalized, the investigation continued, and police learned he apparently had no permit for the .38. He was arrested Aug. 15, 2012, by Dowie, who spotted him near Beech St. and Seeley Ave. and knew that warrants had been issued against him.

Hamilton was remanded to the Hudson County Jail on charges of unlawful possession of a handgun, unlawful disposition of a handgun and discharge of a firearm within town limits.

Disposition of that case is not known.

But last week, he was back behind bars, this time in the Essex County Jail, where he and Garcia were being held on $100,000 bail each.

New spin on house party


By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 


A house-party host got a bit more than he bargained for when he hired a disc jockey for the festivities and an “associate” robbed him at knifepoint, Kearny police reported. Thanks to some determined detective work, the alleged assailant was tracked (pun intended) down and arrested last week.

Kearny Police Chief John Dowie said the incident occurred in late July at a party in a home on the 500 block of Devon St. During the bash, the 20-year-old host reportedly was confronted by a man who said he had supplied the speakers for the music and demanded money above and beyond the agreed-to DJ’s fee.

When the self-proclaimed “associate” was advised that no such separate payment had been arranged, he pulled a knife, police said. After the host still refused to pay, the man allegedly began slashing the air, nearly cutting a female partygoer across the face.

“To appease the assailant, the victim gave him his cell phone, and the assailant fled,” Dowie said. The party broke up shortly afterwards.

The crime was not immediately reported, police said, but when it was a couple of days later, Det. Ray Lopez interviewed the victim, got the suspect’s description and gathered basic information about the DJ who had been hired.

Lopez then conducted a foot canvas of the area, noting the location of private security cameras. He requested and received permission to view the videotapes and saw images of the alleged robber walking down the street, Dowie reported.

Presuming that the party might have engendered some noise complaints, Lopez checked the records (no pun intended) at headquarters and discovered there had indeed been such calls to the KPD that night. The detective contacted the responding officer, P.O. Ben Wuelfing, who, as luck and good police work would have it, had noted the descriptions of vehicles in the area. Lopez then identified the one the robber might have used.

The detective developed a suspect, drew up complaints and on Aug. 12 took into custody 20-year-old Springfield resident Tarik Gourdine.

Gourdine has been charged with conspiracy, robbery, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes.

He was released on $30,000 bail, which had a 10% option.