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Category: News Alerts

Former Observer correspondent Jeff Bahr dies in motorcycle crash


Former Observer correspondent Jeff Bahr, 56, died April 10 as a result of a motorcycle crash in Pennsylvania. Our thoughts and sincere condolences are with Jeff’s entire family.

Our Ron Leir is working on a retrospective of Jeff’s life, and it will appear in the coming edition of our newspaper.

Here is Jeff’s obituary from NJ.com.

Rest in peace, Jeff. We will all miss you very much.

Nutley girl missing since March 17; have you seen her?


A 16-year-old Nutley girl was reported missing on March 17, and Nutley police are still investigating her whereabouts. She frequents Passaic and Paterson and has been located in Montclair, S. Hackensack, Wayne and Little Falls as well. It appears that she is avoiding being located, and has spoken to officers on several occasions stating that she is going to return home but has failed to do so as of April 1.

Christina Simeonidis is 5’6” 140lbs, brown eyes and brown hair, fair skin with a tattoo on her left wrist that says “Heaven.”

Anyone with information to her whereabouts is asked to contact the Nutley Police Department at 973-284-4940

Nutley police need help finding missing girl, 17

Judith Hicswa

Nutley Police are investigating the disappearance of 17-year-old Judith Hicswa.

She was last seen Monday, Feb. 17 between 8 and 9 p.m.,  leaving her Centre Street residence, with possibly an older Asian man.

She was wearing a red sweatshirt, with white letters, blue jeans and burgundy Converse sneakers.

She is 5 feet, 3 inches tall, weighs 130 pounds,has  brown eyes and brown hair.

Anyone with information regarding Judith’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Nutley Police Department at 973-284-4940

UPDATE: Missing Nutley teen found safely


A teenage girl from Nutley who was reported missing since Feb. 11 is back home, Nutley Police said today.

Detective Sgt. Anthony Montanari said  the parents of Christina Simeonidis called the department on the afternoon of Thursday, Feb. 20, to report that their daughter had returned home safely.

Montanari said he hadn’t yet talked to the parents to get a full accounting of where the girl had been and what she’d been doing.

“This is the seventh time she went missing in the last three months,” Montanari said.

— Ron Leir

Remembering Ray McDonough: A reflection from former Observer Editor Kevin Canessa Jr.


By Kevin Canessa Jr.
Former Observer Editor

I first met Raymond J. McDonough in January 1992. He was still a councilman in Harrison, and I was just a high-school senior at St. Peter’s Prep and a rookie stringer at another newspaper that covers Hudson County, let’s just say, at the time. I remember being in awe of him back then, because he’d already served on the council for about 14 years. And I found it pretty remarkable that anyone could be that dedicated.

Of course, sitting in the mayor’s chair at the time was Frank E. Rodgers. Talk about longevity.

I left West Hudson County in 1993 to go away to Rhode Island for college. But in that time frame, in 1995, Rodgers retired as the nation’s longest-serving mayor — and McDonough, almost rightfully — ascended to the mayoralty.

No one was better suited to replace the legend that was Rodgers.

And in his own way, from 1995 to the day he died on Feb. 12, 2014, McDonough was himself a legend who, with a little help, transformed Harrison into the bustling place it’s becoming now.



In 2006, I landed my dream job — the editor of this newspaper. And not too long after I was hired, I went to Harrison Town Hall on a whim because I wanted to re-introduce myself to the mayor. It had been 13 years since I’d dealt with him professionally — though I did occasionally run into him at Tops Diner some summers when I was back in New Jersey.

When I walked into Harrison Town Hall, surprisingly, he was standing not too far away from the huge doors into the place on the Harrison Avenue side. And astonishingly, I didn’t even need to remind him who I was.

“Kevin!” he shouted from across the hall. “So good to see you. Wow it’s been a long time!”

It was as if I’d left for Rhode Island a week before.

“Come on with me to my office,” he said.

And that’s what we did.

We sat and talked for an hour. We caught up — and didn’t speak politics for a second that day.

But as time went on, we developed a trust for each other that was rare between an editor and a mayor. Numerous times, he called me into his office to inform me of yet-to-be-announced plans for the town.

Whenever anything was happening with Red Bull Arena, there I was.

Whenever there was something new on the redevelopment front, there I was.

When he got word from U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez that Harrison was getting a brand-new PATH station, I was sitting in his office before anyone else — media or otherwise — knew a thing about it.

And it translated into other areas of the town, too — most notably in the police department — where two of the greatest policemen I’ve ever known, Derek Kearns and Michael Green developed into two of the most trusted confidants I’ve ever had as a journalist.

Ray McDonough was a very simple man. Sure, he had his political enemies — just ask Steve or Maria McCormick. Even Councilman Anselmo Millan at one point went from being McDonough’s trusted friend, to bitter enemy, back to a trusted ally.

But for the most part, all he ever really wanted was for the only town he ever called his home town to be a better place. That’s why he worked so hard to get a hotel here. That’s why he fought with every bone in his body for positive redevelopment. That’s why he was almost single-handedly responsible for landing the Red Bulls.

He only really ever wanted good things to happen to the people, too. He genuinely cared about the people of the town, whether they were from the old country in Ireland — or new arrivals from Colombia or Peru.

I’ll never forget when a resident came up to him once and told him he was out of work — and hadn’t eaten in days. They two hopped in the mayor’s car — and a few moments later, they were sharing a meal at Tops.

That’s the kind of man Ray McDonough was. The Jesuits would have loved him, because he was a great example of a “Man For Others.”

I loved Ray McDonough. He was a tremendous influence in my life. And when I left The Observer in 2008, he was one of the few people I really can say I miss to this day.

It kills me that I never got to tell him what a truly great man he was.

But as the tributes flow in from all corners of the globe upon his death, it won’t take much to demonstrate that greatness.

And it won’t be hard to tell just how much he’s going to be missed.

Kevin Canessa Jr. was editor of The Observer from 2006 through 2008. 

Harrison Mayor Ray McDonough dead at 65 (updated at 2 p.m. Thursday)



Longtime Harrison Mayor Raymond McDonough, 65, collapsed at Town Hall and died of an apparent heart attack on Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

McDonough had just finished one meeting and was getting ready for another when he was stricken, according to Councilman Larry Bennett. It was President’s Day, so the Municipal Building was closed, but the mayor had scheduled some town business to tackle. He was rushed to St. Michael’s Medical Center, Newark, where he was pronounced.

After his passing, the Town Council directed flags to fly at half staff and arranged to have black bunting draped from the front entrance of the Town Hall as a memorial to the deceased mayor.

Funeral plans have yet to be completed, according to Bennett.

McDonough, who had served 17 years on the Harrison Town Council, was beginning his 20th year as mayor and the final year of his current four-year term as chief executive.

– Ron Leir

BCPO arrests 3 more in connection to bar melee

From left, Pate, Venegas and Carrion

Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli announced today the charging of three additional individuals in connection with the bar brawl that occurred outside the Twins Plus Lounge located at 2 South Main St., South Hackensack.

During the incident, five people were injured, three critically. The case is being investigated by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, Major Crimes Unit, and the South Hackensack Police Department, Detective Bureau.

As previously reported to the press, at 1:44 a.m. on Jan. 27, SHPD and surrounding towns responded to a reported bar fight at Twins Plus Lounge. Read more »

The Observer now available for mobiles, tablets powered by Android

The new Issuu app for Android phones and tablets will allow our readers to check out each week's newspaper on the go.

The new Issuu app for Android phones and tablets will allow our readers to check out each week’s newspaper on the go.

If you own an Android-powered mobile phone or tablet, we’ve got good news for you — you can now read The Observer on the go without having to strain your eyes.

Thanks to the new app “Issuu,” which powers our e-Edition, every edition of The Observer can be read on the go. Simply go to the Google Play Store, search “Issuu,” and download it.

Once it’s downloaded, you’ll be able to read the newspaper on the go — on the train, on the bus … wherever you want. You’ll be able to easily maneuver between pages and zoom in and out to read stories that matter to you.

As always, thanks for reading The Observer, and we hope you enjoy this great new feature.

Hydrants will be tested Jan. 13 in North Arlington

Water pressure could be low and it could be discolored when hydrants are tested Jan. 13 in North Arlington.

Water pressure could be low and water could be discolored when hydrants are tested Jan. 13 in North Arlington.

The Passaic Valley Water Commission and borough fire department volunteers will be testing fire hydrants in the borough on Jan. 13 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Work is expected to be completed the same day.

In a message to residents, the PVWC assures all customers that the water will be safe for use during this period, although water pressure may be low and there may be some water discoloration.   Water customers are cautioned to determine that the water is clear before washing clothes.

The hydrant inspections reflect ongoing efforts between borough officials and the water utility to improve the water distribution system, said Council President Al Granell.  The borough reached a negotiated settlement with the PVWC in October in which the utility agreed give the borough $275,000 and help fund fire hydrant inspections.

“I’m pleased to see that the PVWC is living up to its responsibility to inspect and upgrade the borough’s water infrastructure,” said Granell. Read more »

Red Bulls’ GM to address Harrison business network Nov. 20


de Bontin

de Bontin

Special guest Jerome de Bontin, general manager of the Red Bulls, will address the Harrison business community at an upcoming networking event presented by Harrison Business Connections. The event includes a private tour of Red Bull Arena and refreshments on Nov. 20 at 5 p.m. at the arena.

Harrison Business Connections is a business organization of Harrison Businesses and those that do business in Harrison. Participants engage in building relationships and exchanging qualified leads. Their interests include the mutual success of their local businesses and the Town of Harrison.

Founding Member of Harrison Business Connections, William Abbott said: “The business opportunities in Harrison continue to grow.  Companies both large and small are making Harrison home and Harrison Business Connections is all about bringing those people together to network, share and grow together.”

Full information can be found at www.HBCevents.eventbrite.com.

Harrison Business Connections can be found online at www.HarrisonBusinessConnections.com and www.facebook.com/HarrisonBusinessConnections.