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Classmates in court

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY–  The three young men, pictured above in their Kearny High School yearbook photos, had their whole lives ahead of them. Who knew where the future would take them? No one would have guessed that, a bit more than a decade later, it […]

Serial robber guilty

TRENTON – An accused serial robber has admitted to playing a role in 11 robberies, primarily of drug stores, in Harrison, Newark and Jersey City over a period of eight months, it was announced by U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman. On July 21, Christopher Mojica, 23, pleaded guilty to […]


Blue ranks get reinforcements

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent LYNDHURST – Talk about parallel life paths: Joseph White and Matthew Giunta went to pre-school (St. Michael’s) together, then to Franklin Elementary School, then Lyndhurst High. And, last Friday, they entered the Bergen County Law & Public Safety Institute in Mahwah to begin […]


Slow-paced developments

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  BELLEVILLE –  It’s been a year and two months since Gov. Chris Christie presided at a ballyhooed groundbreaking for Franklin Manor, an age-restricted 137-unit apartment complex for those 55 and over – the first such senior development for Belleville in more than three decades. […]


Still waiting for wall’s restoration

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  HARRISON –  A property dispute between a longtime Harrison business and some neighbors that has been simmering for a few years now appears to be coming to a boil. Smack in the middle of the controversy are Bergen St. homeowners Victor and Eleanor Villalta […]


QP’s Momnohin has incredible performance in win over Becton


Photo by Jim Hague Queen of Peace senior running back/linebacker Kevin Momnohin.

Photo by Jim Hague
Queen of Peace senior running back/linebacker Kevin Momnohin.

By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

Queen of Peace head football coach Robert Kearns has been around the game of football for more than three decades, including two tours of duty as the head coach of the Golden Griffins.

So it’s safe to say that Kearns has seen his fair share of games and players over the years.

And although Kearns has only been back at QP for a few months, he didn’t have to be there long to reap the praises of senior do-everything Kevin Momnohin.

“He’s the most sensational player I’ve seen in my 32 years of coaching,” Kearns said. “He just goes right to the top. He’s a coach’s dream. I’ve seen Knowshon Moreno (of the Denver Broncos) and Donald Brown (of the Indianapolis Colts) and he’s right there with them. You can’t teach what he has. He just has another gear. He’s able to cut and turn and once he gets his shoulders squared and going up field, watch out.”

In the Golden Griffins’ recent 49-37 victory over Becton Regional, there were a lot of people – especially the members of the Becton grid squad – who had a chance to watch out for Momnohin, who enjoyed one of the best all-around games in Bergen County high school football history.

Try these numbers on for size.

Momnohin carried the ball 24 times and collected an astounding 322 yards and scored four touchdowns. He also caught eight of quarterback Anthony Villano’s passes for an additional 152 yards and two more touchdowns. Monmohin also scored twice on point after touchdown conversions, giving him 42 of the Golden Griffins’ 49 points. Between his rushing and receiving achievements, Momnohin combined to gain an unfathomable 474 yards of total offense on his own.

For good measure, Momnohin collected eight tackles on defense and sealed the victory with an interception.

Is there any doubt that Momnohin would be selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week?

Momnohin earns the distinction of being selected as Athlete of the Week for the third straight year, one of only a handful of athletes to be honored three times.

For good measure, Momnohin had 205 yards rushing, 102 yards receiving and four touchdowns in the Golden Griffins’ 37-30 win over neighboring rival St. Mary of Rutherford on Saturday, pushing the Golden Griffins’ record to 3-1. In four games this season, Momnohin has now scored 15 touchdowns.

After the Becton explosion, Momnohin said he was surprised to learn of the incredible totals he reached.

“To be honest, I didn’t know until the game was over,” Momnohin said. “I then said, ‘Wow, it was a big game for me.’”

A lot of people joined Momnohin in their astonishment.

“Well, it was definitely a career high,” Momnohin said, still laughing.

It was actually a Queen of Peace single game school rushing record.

“I said that during the game that it had to be a school record,” Kearns said. “I was actually getting tired watching him run. He just kept going and going. It was like he ran 17 miles in the game. It was almost like running a marathon. I told him that I understood if he was a little tired, but he stayed in there. ”

A year ago, Momnohin might have had a tough time staying around late in a game to set a school record. He battled a string of injuries and spent a good portion of last season on the sidelines nursing those injuries.

“It was definitely a goal this season,” Momnohin said. “I had to stay healthy. I spent a lot of time in the weight room to get stronger and to work on conditioning. I had to stay strong and I had to stay healthy.”

Momnohin said that he likes the idea he’s no longer just a running back, that he’s catching passes as well.

“I was a receiver before I became a running back,” Momnohin said, “I had to be convinced to accept the fact that I was a running back. But it definitely opens up things when teams try to key on me and it definitely does make me more of a double threat.”

What also makes Momnohin more dangerous are the players around him. His twin brother, Keith, is a fine back and receiver in his own right. Quarterback Villano has amassed more than 700 yards passing and eight touchdowns in the first four games. Fullback Tajier Jefferson has eclipsed the 100-yard plateau in each of the last two games.

“The biggest difference now is that we can spread the ball around,” Kearns said. “But Kevin is the one who makes everyone look good.”

“My brother, Tajier and Anthony can give me a break,” Momnohin said. “It’s opened things up for those guys to also make big plays.”

Incredibly, there was a point last summer where it looked as if the Momnohin brothers were not going to return to QP for their final year of high school. There was a change in football coaches, with Steve Romano leaving and Kearns returning. The Momnohins were almost headed to Orange High School.

“But I started at Queen of Peace and wanted to stay at Queen of Peace,” Momnohin said. “I wanted to finish what I started.”

Kearns just adores Momnohin – and deservedly so.

“I can’t stop talking about him,” Kearns said. “He’s just amazing. The biggest thing that stands out about him is his personality. He’s smiling all the time. When I look at him, he’s smiling and all he says is, ‘just give me the ball.’ He’s the kind of kid that a father would want for a son.”

“He said that about me?” Momnohin asked. “I’m speechless about that. For him to give me such a high compliment like that is amazing and means a lot.”

Although he’s collected more than 1,000 yards in total offense and scored 15 touchdowns in four games, Momnohin is still without any college offers. He also has the grades to qualify in college right away.

“I’m as amazed as anyone can be,” Momnohin said. “It’s kind of stressful that I haven’t been offered yet. But without a doubt, if I keep putting up numbers like I have been, I would imagine the scouts and recruiters will come. I’m going to go all out. It’s my last year and I’m out to impress the college coaches.”

Momnohin said that he still can’t believe what he did in the Becton game.

“I’ve watched the films and as I play it, it’s still shocking to me,” Momnohin said.

And as for being a Golden Griffin?

“I’m definitely glad I made the decision to stay,” said Momnohin, who plays basketball in the winter and runs track in the spring. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

4th Annual Kearny Yard & Sidewalk KUEZ Sale

Hundreds of sellers registered for this year’s sale!




Shoppers take your mark! The 4th Annual Kearny Town- Wide Yard & Sidewalk Sale returns Saturday and Sunday, October 12 & 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. There is no rain date. Kearny is definitely the place to be that weekend when the town is once again transformed into a borderto- border bargain hunter’s paradise!

The Kearny Urban Enterprise Zone (KUEZ) is sponsoring and organizing the event. Hundreds of residential, business and other sellers (including the Library, West Hudson Arts & Theater Company, and several churches) have registered to host sales. Plenty of local KUEZ retailers and eateries are also ready with special sales and offers for what is expected to be a slew of shoppers setting their sights on Kearny!

“The idea has really taken hold as a community event, energizing the town and bringing lots of new faces into the our office inquiring about the sale,” said KUEZ coordinator John Peneda. According to Mayor Alberto Santos, “The Yard Sale has definitely proven to be a great way of attracting new visitors and shoppers to Kearny.”

“As in previous years, we are promoting the sale not only within Kearny, but also to surrounding communities including North Arlington, Harrison, Belleville, Nutley and other areas.

“Town-wide sales such as these have been tremendously successful in cities and towns throughout the state,” said Peneda. “However, we are proud to say we were the first UEZ to host an event of this type with such positive results. We are looking to capitalize on the success of previous years.”

“Residents have been calling to ask about the Sale for months now,” he added. “People really look forward to this event.”

Items for sale include children and adult clothing, furniture, electronics, housewares, home decor, tools, sports equipment, bikes, toys, jewelry, artwork, photography, vintage items, CDs, DVDs, books and more.



The Kearny Library Main Branch, (318 Kearny Avenue), and the new West Hudson Arts & Theater company (131 Midland Avenue) will also be participating in the Sale (both Saturday only).

“This year, we have even heard of neighborhoods coming together to create more excitement and sellers on their block to attract sellers,” said Peneda. One such example is on Terrace Place. One neighbor rallied several households on the street to join the sale. “There is more desire for shoppers to visit a neighborhood if they know they have more than one stop to shop,” explained resident Kelly Logue. Yard Sale Maps & Google Map Available The KUEZ has created a special Yard Sale map of both residential and retailer sale locations. It will be available in a special pull-out section in the October 8 edition of The Observer newspaper, as well as at several Kearny locations including Town Hall, the Library, and the KUEZ office after Oct. 9.

The map can also be downloaded after Oct. 10 from www.kearnynj.org. The mornings of the Sale (8 – 12 p.m.) the map will also be available at a special Yard Sale information table set up in front of Town Hall, 402 Kearny Avenue the mornings of the sale.

A Google map of the sellers, which will also include information on items for sale at the various locations, can be accessed AFTER Oct. 11 at http://goo.gl/5tfXOU



Peneda reminds residential participants to keep the sidewalks clear and safe for shoppers and passers by. The KUEZ also has provided a list of organizations and contacts which may be able to help with items not sold during the sale. St. Cecilia’s Church will pick up unsold items the day of the sale. Call 201-991-1116 for arrangements. Other organizations are:

Goodwill-Harrison, 973- 481-2300

The Salvation Army, 201- 991-1115

Vietnam Veterans of America, 1-800-775-VETS (8387) or www.vva.org.

“I invite everyone to enjoy the Town-Wide Yard Sale and to take the opportunity to discover all that Kearny has to offer,” said Mayor Santos.

Visit www.kearnynj.org for updates and information or call 201-955-7400 (x8041).

Then & Now



Photo courtesy Kearny Museum (left) Photo by Karen Zautyk (right)

Photo courtesy Kearny Museum                                     Photo by Karen Zautyk (right)

Traffic was virtually nonexistent on Kearny Ave. at Woodland Ave. when the (undated) photo at left was taken. Looking south toward Harrison, one can see only a handful of horses and buggies – and no cars. Which leads us to surmise that the picture dates anywhere from the 1890s to the 19-teens. As for the buildings, surprisingly little has changed. That’s the bell tower of recently closed Knox Presbyterian Church on the left. The building on that corner is still there, minus the awnings, and so are those across the street. The one on the right-hand corner though lost its conical crown – when, how and why are not known. The awning below advertises “Embalming,” which was a relatively new procedure in the U.S. It was not standard; funeral parlors offered it as a special service, and it was initially done in the home of the deceased. – Karen Zautyk (with special thanks to Kearny crossing guard Marian Payne who made sure Zautyk was not run over while standing in the middle of the street.)

Halloween on the Horizon

More Creative Decorations

Wicked Witch Photo

Photo courtesy www.tumblr.com

Spirit Jugs

Photo courtesy www.tumblr.com

Another great idea for a porch decoration is to create a wicked witch using just a pumpkin and a few tools.
Grab yourself some green spray paint, a pumpkin, tempera paint and brushes, two marbles, a carving knife, a small set of nails, and glue.
Begin by coating the pumpkin in green spray paint. Once dried, apply facial features to the pumpkin with the tempera paint.
Next, carve out eye sockets and lodge the two marbles inside to form a set of glowing eyes. Break off the stem of the pumpkin and reattach it to the face with glue for a nose.
Once finished, fix the black wig in place with small nails, add a large cape, set the pumpkin accordingly and add the hat. You now have yourself a witch!
All you’ll need for this project is a plastic gallon container, a black permanent marker, a utility knife, and a set of 50 clear low-wattage holiday lights.
The rest is simple, all you need to do is draw ghost eyes and mouths on the jugs, (leave the cap on to avoid denting), and cut a hole in the back of the jugs to allow for the string of lights to be placed.
Once the hole is cut and the lights are placed and turned on, you now have yourself some spirit jugs!

Millionaire’s Shortbread

Millionaire's Shortbread

Photo courtesy www.tumblr.com

For the shortbread:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
Put a rack in the center of the oven and heat it to 350 degrees. Sift the flour and salt into a medium bowl and whisk in the sugar.
Cut the butter into chunks and add it to the flour, stirring with a fork to make a soft dough. Gently pat the dough into a 9-inch square-baking pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until it is golden and no longer looks at all wet. Set aside to cool while you make the caramel and chocolate topping.

For the caramel and chocolate:

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
5 tablespoons heavy cream
5 tablespoons salted butter, cubed
1 tablespoon crème fraiche
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
Maldon, grey or smoked sea salt
To make the caramel: Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, swirling occasionally until the sugar has melted but without stirring. Simmer for about 10 minutes, swirling the pot every once and a while, until the sugar turns a dark amber color. Do not let it get too dark, or it will taste burnt.
As soon as the sugar reaches the right color, remove it from the heat and carefully add the cream, whisking all the time (the mixture will bubble up as you do this, so use an oven mitt or a long-handled whisk). Whisk in the butter gradually and then the crème fraiche. Set aside to cool for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When the caramel is cool enough to touch, pour it evenly over the shortbread, tipping the pan gently and tapping it on the counter to get rid of any bubbles. Put in the fridge to firm up a little.
To make the chocolate: When the caramel has firmed up a bit, bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Off the heat, immediately whisk in the chocolate until smooth and shiny. Let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes, and then pour over the caramel, again tilting the pan and tapping it against the counter to smooth it out. Let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, until the chocolate starts to firm up a little.
To finish, Sprinkle the top with salt and refrigerate until firm enough to cut into squares, at least 3 hours. Serve quickly, as the caramel will start to ooze quickly at room temperature. Serves 16.

World-class dermatology group makes Kearny its home

Residents of Kearny and its surrounding areas no longer have to travel to New York City for the best dermatologic care. Metropolitan Dermatology, a group practice with locations in Clark and Teaneck, moved into the former Kearny practice of Dr. Ira Gouterman at 752 Kearny Ave. The space was recently renovated. The dermatology providers there include Dr. Alexander Doctoroff who is an assistant clinical professor at the world-renowned Columbia University in New York City and the former president of the New Jersey Dermatological Society, and two superbly trained physician assistants, Jalpa Patel, PA-C and Amanda Tirado, PA-C. Dr. Alan Cohen who has long been practicing in Kearny will continue treating patients at the same location.

The practice provides a wide variety of services in all areas of cosmetic, medical, and surgical dermatology. The providers of Metropolitan Dermatology are experts in the management of acne and rosacea, rashes, psoriasis, skin cancer, moles, warts, excessive sweating, hair, and nail diseases and many, many other conditions.

Among the new services introduced into the Kearny location is Mohs micrographic surgery for the treatment of skin cancer. This method involves taking small layers of tissue until all the “roots” of a skin cancer have been removed. Mohs surgery has the highest reported cure rates for any form of skin cancer. Dr. Doctoroff is the Mohs surgeon in the practice.

Dr. Doctoroff, Jalpa Patel, PA-C, and Amanda Tirado are experts in dermoscopy (epiluminescent microscopy), which is an advanced method of skin cancer detection. Dermoscopy involves using a small hand-held microscope, and allows for more accurate detection of melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma, and a decrease in the number of unnecessary biopsies.

Another dermatologic treatment newly available in the Kearny facility is photodynamic therapy (PDT). PDT is a combination of topical medication and light. It is used to treat sun damaged skin, precancerous skin conditions (actinic keratoses), and acne. Extended allergy testing is also available in the Kearny office for those patients who suffer from long-term rashes and skin irritations.

Dana Smeragliulo, an experienced aesthetician is also available at the facility. Trained in clinical procedures and certified in microdermabrasion, she customizes treatment programs to address each patient’s unique skincare needs. She specializes in chemical peels and microdermabrasion for rejuvenation, as well as selecting customized effective skincare treatments based on the patient’s needs and skin type (acneprone, mature skin, supersensitive, dry or oily). She assists teens and adults with acne by doing extractions and introducing salicylic peel treatments into their regular acne regimen.

The practice also specializes in facial rejuvenation and cosmetic procedures. Having more than 10 years of experience in Botox and cosmetic fillers, Dr. Alexander Doctoroff is one of the leading providers of cosmetic services in the New York/ New Jersey metro area, pioneering many advanced aesthetic techniques.

Metropolitan Dermatology has used electronic patient medical records since 2004, being one of the first medical practices in the state adopting this technology. They are excited to bring the newest and most advanced developments in the treatment of skin, hair, and nail diseases to the patients of Kearny and surrounding areas.


Frank Ganopoulos

Frank Ganopoulos, 70, died on Oct. 3.

Arrangements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. The funeral service was held at the funeral home, followed by interment in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.

Mr. Ganopoulos was born in Queens, N.Y., and lived in Harrison, for many years. Frank was a wage and hour compliance officer for the state of New Jersey for 25 years, retiring 10 years ago.

He is survived by his brother Athanas Ganopoulos (Carol), his sister-in-law Claudia (Drew) Ganopoulos and his niece Ellen Ganopoulos- Phelan.

Frank was predeceased by his brother Michael Ganopoulos.

Joshua Gonzalez

Joshua Gonzalez, 20, a lifelong resident of Kearny, died Sept. 28 at his home in Kearny.

He worked as a retail associate for AT&T in Morristown for the past year.

He is survived by his beloved son Liam Joshua Gonzalez, his cherished girlfriend Nicole Picon, his loving parents Marykim Greiss and Ruben Gonzalez, his sisters Samantha Gervasi, Ryan Gervasi and Mia Gonzalez, and his brothers Sergio and Owen Gonzalez. He will also be greatly missed by his many loving family members and friends.

Visitation was held at the Parow Funeral Home, 185 Ridge Rd., North Arlington, on Thursday Oct. 3. A Funeral Mass was offered on Friday, Oct. 4 at St. Stephen’s Church, Kearny. The interment followed in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.

Donations in memory of Joshua Gonzalez may be made to Liam Gonzalez in memory of his father through www.gofundme.com.

Anita Ianneillo

Anita Ianneillo died on Oct. 1 at home. She was 91.

Born in Harrison, she lived in Kearny before moving to Toms River 20 years ago.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass was held at Our Lady of Sorrows and entombment followed at Holy Cross Cemetery. To leave an online condolence please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Anita was a crossing guard in Kearny and then worked in the Ocean County Court House. She enjoyed the recreation at her community club house.

Mother of Peter Ianneillo, Patricia Doyle, Joseph Ianneillo and the late Linda, she is survived by her grandchildren Peter, Anthony, Michael and Joseph, her great grandson Nicholas and her dogs George, Cheyenne, Deezel and Doogie.

Ricardo Navia

Ricardo (Julio) Navia died on Oct. 2. He was 75.

Born in Ecuador, he lived in Kearny for the past 20 years.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral service was held at the funeral home and burial will follow in Holy Cross Cemetery.

Ricardo is survived by his wife Ruth, his mother Elena, his daughter Ruth Notis and sons Abraham and Moises Navia along with four grandchildren.

Adam Kwapniewski

Adam Kwapniewski 83, of Kearny, died on died on Oct. 6.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny, where visiting will be Tuesday, from 4 to 8 p.m. A Mass of Christian burial will be officiated on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, Harrison, followed by interment in Holy Cross Cemetery.

Mr. Kwapniewski was born in Poland and lived most of his life in Kearny. He was a mechanic with Hook and Eye Company, Newark, for 15 years retiring 15 years ago. He was a member of the Holy Name Society and usher at Our Lady of Czestochowa Church. He also served as a Corporal in the Polish Army.

He was the beloved husband of 51 years of Joanna Chmiel Kwapniewski. Brother of Stanley Kwapniewski, sister Dolores of The Dominican Order who resides in Poland and the late Chester Kwapniewski. He is also survived by several nieces and nephews living in the United States and Poland.

Archibald R. Nisbet, Jr.

Archibald R. Nisbet Jr. ,55, died on Sept. 30 at Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville.

Arrangements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. The funeral service was held at the funeral home, followed by interment in Arlington Cemetery, Kearny. Condolences and memories may be shared at www.thielereid.com.

Archie was born in Newark and lived in Kearny most of his life.

He was a carpenter for the N.J. Carpenters Union Local 253 from Hackensack for the last 30 years as well as a member of the N.J. Saltwater Fisherman serving as its web master for several years.

Mr. Nisbet is survived by his wife Kathleen (Callaghan); children Melissa, Nancy, Christa and Daniel Nisbet; brothers Alan and Andrew Nisbet; and his parents Archibald R. Sr. and Irene (McGrath) Nisbet. He also leaves behind his in-laws Richard and Marie (Nigro) Callaghan.

In lieu of flowers. the family suggests contributions to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at www.stjude.org.

Farewell, faithful friend

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

Photo courtesy Wikipedia


By Karen Zautyk

Observer Correspondent


A treasured part of Kearny’s living history came to an end on Sunday, when Knox Presbyterian Church, founded in the mid-1800s, held its final service.

The church building itself, an imposing red-brick structure, has stood on Kearny Ave. just south of Woodland Ave. since 1881. Today it is covered in scaffolding due to structural damage, and it has not been used for four years.

The MacMillan Chapel next door has been filling in as the site for worship, and it was there that the last service took place on a “bittersweet” afternoon.

That word was used by Rev. Dr. Kevin Yoho of the Newark Presbytery, who opened the service with a prayer “remembering with gratitude all who have worshiped here.”

Attending Sunday’s Closing Worship Celebration were nearly 100 people, including clergy and members of other congregations and other faiths — all come to pay their respects.

As the Rev. Frank Benson, Knox’ former — and final — full-time pastor said in his remarks to the attendees, “This, in a way, is a funeral service.” There was, however, not a hint of gloom; rather it was an acknowledgment that, while some things change, others go on.

Benson, who retains a hint of a delightful Scottish accent, noted that “while the foundation of the old Knox Church is crumbling a bit, the foundation of its faith is secure, for you, in Christ, are its foundation.”

Benson provided some humor, too, recalling the time when the church’s bell had broken and a trustee offered to climb the tower, tie a rope around his waist, lower himself from a window and swing from side to side to keep the bell ringing. The offer, needless to say, was declined.

What led to Knox Presbyterian’s demise? The same factors that have played a role in the closing of so many churches of various denominations: declining membership and resultant financial problems.

“It has been a long time coming,” David Boyes, a member of Knox’ Presbytery Committee, told The Observer. “This was once a very vibrant congregation, but there has been a steady decline. People got older; people moved away. If you don’t have the people, you don’t have the funds.”

But, Boyes noted, “even the people who moved away still hold it [Knox Church] with great affection.”

Knox Presbyterian had deep Scottish roots, and it was thriving back in the day, when Kearny was America’s Caledonia. Trustee Bill Mullins, giving a history of the church, noted that in 1960 Kearny had a population of about 37,000, of whom 21,000 were Scottish-born or of Scots descent.

Among the founders of the Knox congregation was Nancy Ward Marsh Halsted (1817-1891), a descendant of John Marsh, who emigrated from Scotland in 1635.

Nancy and her husband, Gen. Nathaniel Norris Halsted — a Civil War commander and personal friend of Gen. Philip Kearny — lived on a 33-acre estate called “Hillside,” which stretched down to where Passaic Ave. is now. (On the east side of Passaic, a bit south of S. Midland Ave., you can see a row of brown boulders along the curb; they are all that remain of “Hillside.”)

According to the N.J. Historical Society, “The Knox Presbyterian Church started in the Kearny homes of several families, including ‘Hillside.’ In 1870, Mrs. Halsted donated property for a church site.”

In 1877, she “was instrumental in establishing a fund-raising program for the church.” The cornerstone eventually was laid, and “on Jan. 25, 1882, the Knox Presbyterian Church was dedicated ….”

(Editor’s note: There is a Halstead St. in Kearny, which one might presume was named for the Halsteds, but for the discrepancy in spelling. Does it honor another family, or is it a misspelling? In any case, the tombstone of Nancy and Gen. Halsted in the First Presbyterian Church cemetery in Elizabeth spells their names without the second ‘a’.)

So what becomes of the church’s buildings now that Knox Presbyterian is officially closed? That decision will be made by the Newark Presbytery, Boyes said.

Near the end of Sunday’s service, there were “Closing the Church Statements.”

From the Rev. Benson: “Today we have celebrated with thanksgiving the life and work of the faith community of Knox Presbyterian Church. It has served as a witness to God’s presence for 132 years. It has provided refuge, comfort and challenges for God’s people. It has served for generations the faithful people of this community.”

From Moderator Laura Phillips: “Now, we send the members of Knox Presbyterian Church out into the world with our blessing to worship and serve God in other places. These buildings, dedicated and named Knox Presbyterian Church, together with the land on which it stands and all objects within them, we commend to Newark Presbytery for other purposes.”

Following were a hymn, a blessing and a sung response: “Go in peace, go in joy, go in love.” And then the congregants filed out, to the plaintive sound of a lone piper — a reflection of the church’s heritage.

Early in the service, there was another, but it was easy to miss for those not familiar with the words. During his reminiscences, the Rev. Benson noted, “I lament those days are gone now, and in the past they must remain.”

This was exceptionally touching, particularly since it was said as a matter of fact, not for dramatic effect, and its source was not noted. Either you got the reference, or you did not.

Any readers who are puzzled should do a search for “Flower of Scotland.”

Beware of wasp hives

By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent


The hive is back.

That’s the buzz around the Kearny Health Department these days and there’s no metaphor behind that. It’s for real.

Hornets and wasps have been making the scene, big time, around town, with the department logging as many as a dozen hives since Labor Day, according to Town Health Officer John Sarnas.

“That [number] is abnormal for this time of year,” Sarnas said.

He had no explanation for the sudden profusion of the winged creatures.

Their bites are “very nasty” and “can be fatal,” Sarnas said. “You can go into anaphylactic shock and die.”

Unlike bees, which sting its victim only once, wasps and hornets (larger-size wasps) will sting repeatedly.

Fortunately, as of last week, there were no reports of any residents being stung – although Public Works Superintendent Gerry Kerr had taken a hit while assisting Public Health Investigator Bill Pettigrew take out a hive in Manor Park. Kerr survived his wound.

Among the locations where hives have been discovered were: 250 Highland Ave., the Devon Terrace playground, 139 Magnolia Ave., Devon and Columbia Ave. and Manor Park, Sarnas said.

“The one at Devon and Columbia is probably the largest I’ve seen,” said Pettigrew. “It was the size of a basketball.” Sarnas said there can be more than 300 wasps or hornets in a hive, not including those buzzing outside it.

Typically, Sarnas said, the hives are found on the lower branches of a maple tree – “always a maple” – about 15 to 20 feet off the ground.

The Health Dept. deals only with hives on public property – not, unfortunately, with those in homeowners’ yards, Sarnas said. The services of a private exterminator cost about $200, he said.

“It usually takes us afull 17 1/2-ounce spray can to take out a nest and about a half hour to complete the job,” Sarnas said. “Fortunately, there’s only one access point to the nest so we shoot the spray in and that usually does it.”

Not so, however, in the case of the Manor Park hive. Sarnas said a crew had to return after having already attacked the hive because it turned out “the dome was still connected to the branch and the eggs that were there had hatched.”

Once a hive is completely eradicated, Sarnas said, the wasps or hornets don’t return because “once the queen is gone, that’s it.”

Meanwhile, the Health Dept. will be going to municipal court soon for a hearing on a dog bite case involving an alleged attack on a 46-yearold female resident by three canines.

According to police records, the incident happened on Aug. 16 at 8:30 a.m. on Butler Place. Police said the victim told them she was walking her Chihuaha/Dachshund along Butler Place when she noticed two boxers and a pit bull jumping around in a yard. She said a young woman came out to retrieve her garbage cans and, as they were speaking, the three dogs ran out of the yard through an open gate and bit her dog on the ear, neck and legs. And, the victim said, she, too, was bitten on the right side of her face, both arms, buttock, back and legs.

The victim told police she “tried to escape the attack by climbing into a garden area of the property ….,” apparently to no avail.

Police said the victim was taken by Kearny EMS to Clara Maass Hospital in Belleville for treatment. The victim’s dog was later taken to a private animal hospital.

One witness of the incident told police that the two boxers “went after the victim’s dog” but that the pit bull “did not join in the attack.” The witness told police that she “wrestled the male boxer … while someone else grabbed the female boxer ….” Afterward, the witness said she notified the dogs’ owner by phone of the incident.

Another witness also said the pit bull “was not involved” in the attack on the victim.

In the aftermath of the incident, the Health Dept. issued a summons to the dogs’ caretaker alleging “failure to confine all three dogs,” and on Aug. 22, after being advised by the victim’s parents that their daughter had “sustained serious injuries to her face, buttocks, legs and arms,” Pettigrew, Bergen County Supervising Animal Control Officer Bob Harrison and Police Officer Melinda Esparedo went to the Butler Place location where they found the “front [driveway] gate unsecured and all three dogs unsupervised in the rear yard. … in violation of a quarantine order.” The two boxers were in a plywood pen that “did not appear very secure,” while a third dog was “chained to a clothes line,” the Health Dept. report said.

All three dogs were then removed to the Bergen County Animal Shelter in Teterboro pending the outcome of the court hearing, scheduled for Oct. 10.

Based on the evidence available at the time, on Aug. 23 the county’s Harris issued a finding that the two boxers “did cause bodily injury or serious bodily injury to a human” and that “there is the potential threat of serious bodily injury to a person or death to another domestic animal.”

It will be up to the court to determine “whether these dogs are potentially dangerous,” Harris’s report said.

Manor may soon hear cry o ‘timber’!


Photos by Ron Leir Arborist John Linson gave report on huge trees in town’s Manor section, such as these stately oaks on Madison St.

Photos by Ron Leir
Arborist John Linson gave report on huge trees in town’s Manor section, such as these stately oaks on Madison St.


By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent


On a fateful Monday morning in late October 2012, Tony Valente was watching TV on the first floor of his Jefferson Ave. home when he was shaken out of his chair by a loud thud.

Apparently weakened by Superstorm Sandy, the 85-foottall pin oak that had stood nearby for many years had just toppled onto his roof.

“It just came through the attic to the floor below … right over my head,” Valente recalled. Luckily, no one inside the house was hurt, he said. But as the downed tree lay draped over the back of his home, “it was 10 a.m. when it hit but [from inside] it looked like it was dark out. That’s how huge that tree was.”

Valente said he’d previously tried to get the town to take it down after it “looked like it had rotted at the bottom” and the roots were raising the cement. Town workers cut part of the roots but that was it, he said.

On another nearby block, also in the Manor section, another hollowed-out tree fell through a house to the first floor, Valente recalled.

With town crews running to emergency situations all over, Valente ended up getting a private contractor to haul the tree away four days after it fell. He said the town later reimbursed him for the cost of disposing of the tree.

As this year’s winter storm season looms, the town government wants to head off any new disasters so, to that end, it enlisted the aid of West Orange arborist John D. Linson who was asked to check on the condition of 159 oak and maple trees in the Manor section where many of the town’s tallest and oldest trees – some 100 feet high – are found.

Of that total, Linson told the governing body at last Tuesday’s meeting, that he found 23 trees “that, in my opinion, need to be removed at this time” either because a tree’s “structural integrity” has been compromised or because its roots are “compromising a sidewalk or driveway.”

Linson’s report listed one tree on Webster Ave., three trees on Hamilton Ave., four on Jefferson, two on Bayard Ave., six on West Bennett Ave. and seven on Livingston Ave. as candidates for immediate removal.

But many other trees needed the town’s attention, Linson said, for various reasons:

* Too big for the planting area.

* Pushing out curbing or sidewalks.

* Trunk is too lean or unbalanced.

* Base is decayed.

* Weakened by carpenter ants.

* Hollowed out trunk or compromised branches.

* Damaged by storm.

* Conflicting with underground or overhead utilities.

* Excessive root pruning. Linson’s analysis found that most of the oaks “were planted in the 1930s and ‘40s” and, “as such, they are at the end of their natural life span” as street trees.

As those trees were beginning to grow, Linson said, Kearny’s Shade Tree unit was considered to be “in the forefront of tree maintenance,” but in the past few decades, it has been winnowed down by budget cuts. As of 2012, Kearny was listed as a “Tree City” by the state Department of Environmental Protection, but, nonetheless, Linson believes that the number of trees in town has fallen from around 10,000 to fewer than 8,000 currently.

Linson advised the town to coordinate tree removal and replacement with road resurfacing projects, “to only plant compact tree species (like calipers) under overhead [power] lines to avoid future conflict,” to consider getting easements from property owners to plant larger trees on front lawns, and to extend sidewalks – and the town’s right-of-way – to allow for planting new trees “on the house side.”

Several Kearny officials found it hard to grapple with the idea of taking down any trees.

As Councilwoman Susan McCurrie put it: “We’ve all grown up with these trees. It’s difficult, all of a sudden, to change the character of a neighborhood. An overnight change would be dramatic.” But if chopping has to be done, she added, it’s best to focus on “those trees deemed to be most at risk, not a wholesale removal.”

After reading Linson’s report last week, Councilwoman Eileen Eckel agreed that the trees were “beautiful,” but that many were now “past their prime” and had “potential for injury” to people and property “and that’s something we have to weigh with their aesthetic appeal. … We’d be remiss in not dealing with it.”

Councilwoman Carol Jean Doyle cautioned that the town is potentially looking at a “big expense” and added that Linson was probably underestimating when he said it would cost $1,200 to take down a tree. And, she said, “we don’t have it allocated in our budget.”

But, she conceded that the town needed to start the job on a limited basis because of the safety issues involved. At the same time, Doyle said, the town needs to meet with the residents involved before launching any action to avoid a repeat of what happened about eight years ago when a contractor doing repaving and water line work on Oakwood Ave. between Kearny and Schuyler Aves. took down a bunch of trees. “It happened so fast, we didn’t have time to react,” she said.

Mayor Alberto Santos said the town takes pride in a Manor neighborhood “known for its expansive tree canopy, but in light of recent storms, I think the tenor has changed dramatically.” Still, he said, because of the cost factor, “it has to be done piecemeal” on the basis of which trees are deemed to cause the most serious safety concerns. And, “for every tree removed, we have to make sure it’s replaced.”

Said Eckel: “We should look on a street-by-street basis, on the basis of a worst case scenario, and keep any new plantings below power lines. And we have to figure out how to pay for it.”

Ride, Kearny, ride

Bikes_web1 Bikes_web2Photos by Karen Zautyk

Scenes from the annual Bicycle Safety Fair held Saturday afternoon in Kearny under the sponsorship of the KPD Community Policing Unit. The Hudson Transit Management Authority, Kearny Federal Savings Bank, Kearny Optimist Club, AAA and KFD were also on hand to welcome the kids.