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Ferrarro resigns, takes buyout

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  After months of wrangling with his employer, the Kearny Board of Education, Frank Ferraro has tendered his resignation as Kearny superintendent of schools, effective Nov. 1. Ferraro, who was facing the threat of being fired after the board had brought tenure charges […]


New high school v.p. named

KEARNY – A 13-year school employee has been promoted to vice principal assigned to Kearny High School. Paul Measso, 37, was appointed to his new job Oct. 20 at an annual salary of $128,163 (pro-rated), pending receipt of his principal certificate of eligibility from Trenton. He completed a master’s degree […]


Lottery for senior apts. next month

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent  HARRISON – The town’s first affordable residence for senior citizens at 774 Harrison Ave. is getting ever closer to reality. As construction of the 15-unit building nears completion, the sponsor, Domus Corp., the housing arm of Catholic Charities of Newark, has begun the process […]

Borough voters getting school question

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  EAST NEWARK –  A court ruling has cleared the way – over objections by Harrison – for a Nov. 4 nonbinding referendum asking borough voters, “Should East Newark high school students be sent to Kearny High School instead of Harrison High School?” Harrison Board […]


Halloween Pawrade in Kearny

                Photos by Karen Zautyk Top r.: KUEZ Among 50+ pups at KUEZ costume contest Saturday were a cat, a cheeseburger, a trio of lobsters, a bumble bee, a ladybug. Shepherd (r.) wore robe and shower […]



Lett-NA Srs_web


To the editor,

I would like to thank all of the senior citizens and friends of the North Arlington Senior Activity Center for their generous gift donations collected at our center for The Tomorrow’s Children Institute at Hackensack University Medical Center. Our center tree was surrounded by the many gifts given with much love and wrapped with great care by our staff members Faryn Cooke, Louise Malinchak and Yok-Siong Wong.

As always, I am extremely proud of our community and all of our amazing seniors for their care and concern for others. I love them all and am so grateful to be part of their lives at the North Arlington Senior Activity Center.

Connie Keeler

Center Director

North Arlington Senior Activity Center


To the editor:

As a member of the Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst and chairperson of the Lyndhurst Food Pantry, along with my Co-Chairperson Judy Candella, we would like to thank the many residents, clubs and businesses who have donated to the Lyndhurst Food Pantry during the year. The generosity was overwhelming, especially during the holidays, which made a difference to many of the less fortunate residents of our town. We are proud to live in a community who cares. Again, thank you to all.


Diane Cichino

Women’s Club of Lyndhurst,

Co-Chairperson of the Lyndhurst Food Pantry

Hope to bring psychic’s life to small screen

Photo courtesy “Absent Witness” production co. Kearny psychic Karl Petry

Photo courtesy “Absent Witness” production co.
Kearny psychic Karl Petry


By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent


Karl Petry is in touch with things beyond the world as we know it. Over the years, using his psychic ability, the Kearny resident has worked with police to investigate crimes or to locate missing persons or property and has investigated hauntings of all kinds.

He, like the famous Houdini, has an entry in Rosemary Ellen Guiley’s “Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits,” rated as the most widely read reference book on the paranormal.

And now, he’s to be the focus of a film based on his life and some of the “case files” Petry has developed.

Executive producer Pamela Kramer, a casting director/producer of paranormal/sci-fi projects, and co-producer Michael Giordano are teaming to make a proposed TV series called “Absent Witness,” which they’re pitching as “a paranormal drama based on the true events experienced by Petry.”

“We’re still in the pre-production stages,” Kramer said, “getting the pilot together. We’ve shot and edited a ‘sizzle’ reel, a longer version of a typical movie trailer.”

That reel – which conveys information about Petry’s life through a series of brief flashbacks – is designed to serve as a “pitch” to a possible distributor, she said.

The concept for the proposed series – for which six episodes have been written thus far – is “not a reality show,” Kramer said. “Think of ‘Law & Order’ – it’s acting out real-life events in Karl’s personal life and how he dealt with his abilities. … The goal is to get people to understand the paranormal better. We’ll show special effects but we want to keep it as pure as possible.”

Actor Michael Chmiel, who was seen in the role of William Henry Vanderbilt on the History Channel series, “The Men Who Built America,” in 2012, is playing Petry in the paranormal production.

The Petry product had its roots in a horror film class which Kramer has taught in New York since the early 1990s. About a year and a half ago, Kramer invited Petry to be a guest panelist for a Q & A session at one of those classes.

As it happens, Kramer herself has an affinity for other-worldly phenomena. As a young girl, she recalls beginning to sense “auras,” which Wikipedia describes as “a perceptual disturbance … [which] often manifests itself as the perception of a strange light, an unpleasant smell or confusing thoughts or experiences.”

Photo courtesy “Absent Witness” production co. Actor Michael Chmiel, who will play Petry in TV show now in pre-production.

Photo courtesy “Absent Witness” production co.
Actor Michael Chmiel, who will play Petry in TV show now in pre-production.


“I saw visions of people who’ve ‘crossed over,’ ’’ she said.

Later, working through yoga and meditation, Kramer evolved as an empath – able to discern another person’s thoughts about the past, present or future.

“Over time, we got to know each other, Karl got to know of my skills,” Kramer said. “Karl’s abilities are somewhat different from mine but pretty intense. We kind of cross over in the middle.”

Having found the stories Karl outlined to her class “pretty compelling,” Kramer seized on the idea of translating those stories to film and brought in, as a production partner, Michael Giordano, who, Kramer notes, is a Tarot card reader but “not a classic psychic.”

To portray Petry, the team called on Michael Chmiel, who, while not possessing any psychic powers himself, said he knows a lot of people who do have those attributes so the terrain wasn’t entirely unfamiliar to him.

Chmiel, who had a featured role last year in an Investigation Discovery TV series, “Bloody Marys,” spent several days with Petry in Kearny so he could study his subject upclose and, in some ways, he saw a mirror image.

“Karl likes jeans and black dress shirts, which is exactly me. He’s soft spoken and mellow, which is kind of like how I am in life,” Chmiel said.

They even share the same taste in music. “Fifties, sixties oldies – the kind of stuff I grew up with, listening to those song with my father – both of us have an affection, an affinity for this type of music,” the actor said.

Chmiel, a native of Southern California who has lived in Wisconsin and Minnesota and earned an MFA at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, before moving to the East Coast, has enjoyed working on the project. “It’s been great getting to know Karl in different lights, his personality and expression.”

Photo courtesy”Absent Witness” production company Cast and crew of “Absent Witness,” including Executive Producer Pamela Kramer (far r.).

Photo courtesy”Absent Witness” production company
Cast and crew of “Absent Witness,” including Executive Producer Pamela Kramer (far r.).


As for Petry, he feels Kramer has met a great casting choice, adding that, “On the set, I’d see [Chmiel] walk like me, talk like me – he’s a better Karl than me.”

Petry, who is in his 60s, has always known of his special abilities but kept them under wraps until some 20 years ago. Since then, he’s done what he characterized as “high profile” cases involving murders, people or money that have gone missing, and ghost investigations – all of which he’s done for free. He supports himself by doing forensic video-taping and photography.

But his psychic skills are well-documented and have drawn the attention of other entertainment industry representatives, Petry said. “I previously turned down a proposal for a reality show because I don’t like that type of presentation. And people will think it’s phony.”

A reality type show, Petry said, gives viewers the misleading impression that a case can be solved in a few minutes. “But it doesn’t happen overnight or on demand – one case I worked on in Kearny took eight months.”

Petry, a former member of the U.S. Air Force who grew up in Newark’s Ironbound section, has produced some of his own films, some of which have paranormal themes, such as “The Ironbound Vampire” (1999), “The Ghosts of Angela Webb” (2004) and “The Larksville Ghost” (2005).

Now, he’s looking forward to a happy conclusion for “Absent Witness,” also the name of a book that Petry is in the process of writing. “We’re very confident this TV series is going through,” he added.

Around Town


Belleville Elks Lodge No. 1123, 254 Washington Ave., hosts its monthly breakfast on Sunday, Jan. 19, from 9 a.m. to noon. The breakfasts are held the third Sunday of every month through May. The cost is $6 for adults, $3 for children under age 3 and children under age 3 are admitted free. If there are 3 or more inches of snow, the breakfast will be cancelled. For more information, call the lodge at 973-332-8129.


Oakeside Mansion, 240 Belleville Ave., holds an open house on Sunday, Jan. 19, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. No R.S.V.P. is required – just stop by. Enjoy complimentary beverages and sample foods from Frungillo Caterers, Oakeside’s resident caterer. Talk with staff about the possibility of Oakeside Mansion hosting your next event: weddings, social events or meetings, etc. For more information, call 973-256-9380.

Bloomfield Public Library, 90 Broad St., will meet on Monday, Feb. 3, from 6:45 to 7:45 p.m., to discuss two short novels, “Miss Lonelyhearts” and “The Day of the Locusts” by Nathanael West.

“Miss Lonelyhearts” tells the story of an advice columnist who is overcome by the pitiful lives of the people who write to him during the Great Depression. “The Day of the Locusts” skewers the culture of Hollywood – the writers, the actors, the directors – all those who were willing to compromise their art for money in the service of the movie-going public.

For more information or for help in locating a copy of the book club selection, call the Reference Desk at 973- 566-6200, ext 502. Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.


Calvary Chapel of Kearny, 156 Oakwood Ave., will hold a blood drive on Jan. 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Kearny Salvation Army is offering computer classes in basic computer skills, and in programs such as Word, Excel and Powerpoint. Classes are held on Mondays and Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to noon. The fee is $30 per 12 hours of instruction. For more information, contact Pete at 201-889-1352.

Kearny Health Department, 645 Kearny Ave., reminds pet owners to renew their dog/ cat licenses. License fees are as follows: Non-neutered/ non-spayed $21 and $18 for animals that are neutered/ spayed (with proof). An additional $25 late fee will be assessed for licenses renewed after March 31.

Licenses can be obtained at the Health Department, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., or by mail. Proof of a rabies shot, valid for the entire licensing year, is required.

The Health Department is also offering a free rabies clinic on Saturday, Jan. 25, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Kearny Water Department garage, 570 Elm St. Previously licensed pet owners will receive a rabies vaccination certificate by mail that must be filled out and brought to the clinic with their pets.

For more information, call the Health Department at 201-997-0600, ext. 3506 or 3505.

Kearny UNICO has scheduled a fundraising bus trip to the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City for Sunday, Jan. 26. The bus will depart from American Legion Post 99 on Belgrove Drive at 8:30 a.m. Tickets are $30 with $25 in slot play back from the casino. Monies raised by this trip will help fund scholarships and other charitable donations.

Master Gardner Carolyn Gretchen will talk about suitable plants for local gardens at a meeting of the Evening Membership Department of the Woman’s Club of Arlington on Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 7:30 p.m. at the Henrietta Benstead Center, 60 Columbia Ave. The executive board will meet at 6:45 p.m.

St. Stephen’s Seniors will meet on Tuesday, Jan. 21, starting with a board meeting at 10:30 a.m. and refreshments served at noon.

The group’s anniversary party will be held on Friday, April 11, at the San Carlo Restaurant.

For more information, contact Tom at 201-998-8258.

Registration for the spring semester of the Kearny Adult School will be held on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 27, 28 and 29, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Main Office of Kearny High School, 336 Devon St. Brochures listing course offerings are currently in the mail. They are also available at The Observer, 39 Seeley Ave.; Kearny Public Library or the Board of Education office at 100 Davis Ave. For more information, call the Kearny Adult School at 201-955-1392.


Lyndhurst Police Emergency Squad sponsors a Tricky Tray on Thursday, Feb. 20, at the Fiesta, 255 Rt. 17 South, Wood-Ridge. Doors open at 7 p.m. Raffle drawing starts at 8 p.m. Pre-sale prize tickets can be purchased from any LPES member and will also be held at the door.

The $40 admission includes dinner, buffet, soft drinks, dessert, tea and coffee, a sheet of 20 regular prize tickets and five medium prize tickets.

Other ticket packages are available through pre-sale only.

For more information, call 201-804-2469 or visit www.emergencysquad.com/trickytray. Tickets can be ordered online via http://www.eventbrite. com/e/lpes-1st-trickytray- fundraiser-tickets- 9930115242?aff=efbevent.

New Jersey Meadowlands Commission Science Center, 3 DeKorte Park Plaza, hosts “The Milky Way,” a program for all ages on Wednesday, Jan. 22, from 3 to 4 p.m. Join John Sloan, director of the NJMC William D. McDowell Observatory, for an introduction to our planet’s neighborhood in space. Learn how the Milky Way got its name, how many stars it contains, if it might contain a black hole and other fascinating information about our home galaxy.

Admission is free. Registration is recommended and appreciated.

To register, visit www.njmeadowlands.gov/ec. For more information, call 201- 460-8300.

Lyndhurst Public Library, 355 Valley Brook Ave., offers these upcoming events:

• A 45-minute program for children ages 3 to 4 1/2 featuring stories, music, and crafts begins Feb. 20. Parents are welcome to participate. There are two sessions on Thursdays in January at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Required registration is held through Feb. 14. Space is limited. Call in advance to register your child.

• Children in pre-K to grade 3 are invited to a snowman craft session on Monday, Jan. 27, from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. Call in advance to register.

For more information or to register, call the library at 201-804-2478.

Lyndhurst Health Department, 601 Riverside Ave., reminds pet owners to renew licenses for domesticated cats/dogs by Jan. 31. A $10 late fee is assessed for any animal registered after Jan. 31. Renew licenses in Suite 1 of the Health Department or at the free rabies clinic on Thursday, Jan. 16, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., in the recreation room at 601 Riverside Ave. Per state law, the rabies certificate must be valid through Oct. 31, 2014, in order to receive a 2014 animal license.

The Order of the Amaranth sponsors a Tricky Tray on Feb. 16 at noon at the Masonic Temple, 321 Second Ave. A $5 donation is requested. For more information, call 201- 997-4402.

North Arlington

North Arlington Senior Activity Center, 11 York Road, hosts a Valentine’s Day luncheon on Friday, Feb. 14, beginning at 10:30 a.m. with a free bingo special, followed by lunch at noon, the crowning of the king and queen at 1 p.m. and bingo at 1:30 p.m. For more information and reservations, call 201-998- 5636.

The North Arlington Seniors, Inc. (Tuesday Club) has scheduled a trip to the Showboat Casino on Feb. 6. The bus will leave the Municipal Building at 9 a.m. Trips are also planned for the following dates (casino unknown at present) – March 6, April 23, May 8 and June 5.

The group will sponsor a St. Patrick’s Day celebration at LaGrecia, Staten Island, N.Y., including show, dancing and lunch. The bus will leave at 9:30 a.m. For information or reservation, call Rose at 201-991-2423. Non-members are welcome to attend trips.


Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Dr., announces the following programs:

• Library Catalog 101 teaches the latest tips and strategies to effectively search for and request items, how to share what you are reading on Facebook and how to manage your online library account on Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 7 p.m.

• The library hosts a discussion of two short stories by Nutley authors, Frank Stockton and Henry (H.C.) Bunner on Saturday, Jan. 25, at 2 p.m. Participants will discuss “The Lady or the Tiger?” and “Love Before Breakfast” by Frank Stockton and “The Pointers” and “The Story of a Path” by H.C. Bunner.

Copies of the stories are available at the library. This special event begins a yearlong celebration of the 100th anniversary of the library with monthly events and contests.

For more information, call the library at 973-667-0405.

• Utilizing Yahoo, Y Not? offers a guided tour through the many different services and tools offered by Yahoo, including My Yahoo, Ymail, the blog site Tumblr and the photo sharing site Flickr on Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. Participants will not have access to a computer. Call the library at 973-667-0405, ext. 2604, to register no later than one week before each presentation.

Blue Tide making big stride toward respectability

Photo by Jim Hague Harrison has enjoyed a fine 5-2 start to the high school basketball season. From l. are senior Tommy Dolaghan, head coach Noel Colon and senior Jeremy Mohamoud.

Photo by Jim Hague
Harrison has enjoyed a fine 5-2 start to the high school basketball season. From l. are senior Tommy Dolaghan, head coach Noel Colon and senior Jeremy Mohamoud.


By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

When he was first growing up in Jersey City and later North Bergen, Noel Colon never imagined he would eventually become a basketball coach.

But Colon recalled the inspiration he received from coaches he played for along the way.

“My first coach, Donald Copeland Sr., at the Jersey City Boys Club did so much for me,” Colon said. “My mother wouldn’t let me play basketball and Mr. Copeland was like a big father figure to me. (The late) Brian Lee was also a big help then. I was blessed and fortunate to have had such great coaches along the way.”

Colon ended up playing at North Bergen High School for coaches like John Barone and Kevin Bianco, then went on to play at Ramapo College for Chuck McBreen. Colon ended up getting a degree in sociology from Ramapo.

“What ended up happening was that I got a job as an assistant coach at Technology High School (in Newark),” said Colon, who worked with Denver Nuggets standout forward Kenneth Faried at the Newark school. “I really wanted to play pro ball in Puerto Rico, but I ended up loving coaching.”

When the head coaching position at Harrison High School opened up, Colon was more than interested.

“I love challenges,” Colon said.

But Colon had no idea what kind of challenge was in store taking the Harrison job. After all, the Blue Tide won just two games over the last two years.

“I didn’t know what it was all about,” Colon said. “I just heard there was an opening and I went for it. I knew I missed coaching. I didn’t coach at all last year and really missed it. I knew I wanted to get back into it.”

Colon received a recommendation from legendary Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley.

“He was very instrumental in me getting the job,” Colon said. “I just wanted a shot.”

But with a program that won just twice in two years?

“(North Bergen head coach) Kevin (Bianco) told me their record and my reaction was like, ‘Oh, my,’” Colon said. “I spoke to my wife Tessa, who is pregnant with our first child. She told me to go for it. I grew up in Hudson County. I know nothing comes easy. I love challenges. I’m a man of faith. I knew that this was the right thing to do.”

So the 30-year-old Colon took the challenge, took the position at Harrison and hit the ground running.

“I’m still learning,” Colon said. “But I love the energy. I spent the summer with the kids of Harrison. I got to know the kids and what they were all about.”

After the summer, Colon had a sense that the Blue Tide would be somewhat successful.

“To be honest, I knew we had a chance to be pretty good,” Colon said. “The kids put in a lot of work and sacrificed a lot.”

And since the 2013-14 season began, Harrison is one of the most extraordinary turnaround stories in northern New Jersey. The Blue Tide currently has a 5-2 record after a victory over American History High of Newark Saturday afternoon.

Colon is happy with the progress of his new program, but not content.

“I am pleased, but we’re a little inconsistent,” Colon said. “I don’t think we’ve played a complete game yet. Cliffside Park was the only game we played really well on the defensive side. But we’re coming along. We’re getting better.”

Senior Iker Fernandez has been a pleasant surprise. The 6-foot-4 forward is averaging double figures in points and rebounds. Fernandez had 18 points in the 53-41 win over American History.

“He’s off to a good start,” Colon said. “He’s very skilled. I think he has a chance to play at the next level.”

Senior Federico Olivera is another 6-foot-4 standout for the Blue Tide.

“He’s a strong kid,” Colon said. “He’s a good rebounder.”

Olivera recently had 19 points and 15 rebounds in a win over Leonia.

The small forward is senior Jeremy Mohamoud.

“He’s long and lanky,” Colon said of the 6-foot-3 Mohamoud, who had 14 points in Saturday’s win. “He’s very athletic and can shoot the ball well. He has all the skills.”

The point guard duties are shared by senior Moises Roque and junior Jordan Villalta. Both players stand 5-foot-7.

“Moises is a better athlete,” Colon said. “Jordan makes better decisions with the ball. They both play well. I’m going to let them battle it out.”

The shooting guard is 5-foot-10 Alex Cajiga.

“He’s a good shooter and he’s very skilled,” Colon said. “He lost a lot of weight over the summer, like 25 pounds, and it’s helped him. He’s working hard and going to get better.”

Cajiga is averaging nine points per game.

Tommy Dolaghan is a 5-foot- 9 senior who plays guard and comes off the bench. The Blue Tide standout pitcher on the baseball team in the spring, Dolaghan brings a lot of energy to the team.

“He’s been a pleasure to coach,” Colon said. “He’s just a great kid, a smart kid. He picks up things so easily. He defends well.”

Junior William Azabache is a 5-foot-10 forward.

“He understands his role and brings us energy on defense off the bench,” Colon said. “He’s also been a pleasure to coach, because he does a little bit of everything.”

Senior Ralph Diaz is a 6-foot-4 forward.

“He’s a strong kid who comes in and rebounds,” Colon said. “He plays hard.”

The Blue Tide’s successful season will get a big challenge Thursday when they play Queen of Peace in North Arlington.

Colon believes the winning ways can continue.

“I definitely think it can happen,” Colon said. “Our goal is to get better every day. That truly is our goal. I can see a little bit of consistency in practice. We just need it in games. That’s what I’m trying to preach to them. They just need to understand.”

So far, the understanding has been great for the Blue Tide of Harrison.

NA girls: Trying to get through injuries

Photo by Jim Hague Senior guard Bri Cunanan was going to be the leader of the North Arlington girls’ basketball team, but she suffered a knee injury that will send her to the sidelines for the next three weeks.

Photo by Jim Hague
Senior guard Bri Cunanan was going to be the leader of the North Arlington girls’ basketball team, but she suffered a knee injury that will send her to the sidelines for the next three weeks.


By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

Karen Smith had high hopes for her North Arlington girls’ basketball team this season. Even though the Vikings were going to be very young, Smith figured her squad could be competitive.

Then, disaster struck in the form of some crippling injuries.

First, sophomore Samantha Veloso suffered an ankle injury that kept her on the sidelines.

Then, senior guard Bri Cunanan went down with a knee injury. Cunanan’s injury especially hurt, because she was the team’s leading scorer and ball handler. At the time of her injury, Cunanan was averaging a little more than 10 points per game.

“They were two key players,” Smith said. “It’s a little difficult. But we’re obviously optimistic because other players are going to get playing time. The younger kids are getting a chance to play. Others have to step up.”

Veloso’s timetable for a return is up in the air. Cunanan’s injury will apparently take three weeks to recover from.

So it’s time for others to shine.

Senior Cara Dlugo is one of the key performers who will have to pick up the slack. The 5-foot-7 Dlugo is someone who had been playing both small forward and power forward, but will need to include some ball handling in the absence of Cunanan.

“She’s a very good athlete,” Smith said of Dlugo. “She’s really the heart of the team. She hustles all the time. She’s our leading rebounder. We need her to score more now. I think she can do that.”

Dlugo is averaging eight points and 10 rebounds per game.

Junior center Amanda Chiamese is another key contributor. The 5-foot- 9 Chiamese is a force down low.

“She’s extremely aggressive under the basket, but she also has a nice little jump shot,” Smith said. “She’s also a good hustle player. She’s been playing pretty well.”

Junior Taylor Barth has also enjoyed some success in the past. The 5-foot-4 Barth is one of the best shooters around.

“She can shoot the lights out,” Smith said. “She now needs to handle the ball more with Bri out. I think she can handle the ball. She just needs to be confident.”

Sophomore Denaijah Gainza is another guard. The 5-foot-4 Gainza has been the backup point guard to Cunanan. “She has a nice little shot,” Smith said. “She can handle the ball and take the ball to the basket.”

Gainza had 13 points in a recent win over Lyndhurst and eight versus neighboring rival Queen of Peace.

Sophomore Marissa Piscal is a 5-foot-7 forward.

“She can be a dominant force,” Smith said of Piscal. “She’s very strong and is a great rebounder. She’s a good softball player and joined us for the first time. We’re really excited to have her with us.”

Victoria Namnama is a 5-foot-3 sophomore guard.

“She handles the ball pretty well,” Smith said. “She’s the starting point guard on our JV [junior varsity] and plays off the bench for us. She’s going to play more now.”

Freshman Danica Krawczyk is a 5-foot-7 guard/ forward.

“She can shoot the ball well, but she’s also physical,” Smith said. “That’s a good combination and a good problem to have.”

Senior Tanna Avella is a 5-foot-6 guard who is playing varsity basketball for the first time.

“She’s probably one of the fastest players we have and our best defenders,” Smith said. “She comes off the bench, but defends against the other team’s top player. That’s her role.”

Sophomore Mariah Moreno is a 5-foot-3 guard. Theresa D’Errico is also a 5-foot-3 guard.

The Vikings have not enjoyed a ton of success thus far.

“We’ve been struggling,” Smith said. “We’ve hit a few bumps in the road. But I can see this team turning around. We’re going to see the teams in our league the second time and I think that things will change. We’re showing improvement. We’re starting to play better.”

Smith likes the fact that there are so many young kids involved in her program.

“I’m excited to see what the younger kids can bring to the table,” Smith said. “I like the way our program is headed. It’s headed in the right direction. We have 15 freshmen involved in our program. The numbers look good.”

Now if Smith could only get her injured players back.

Golden Griffins look to improve with veteran team

1-15 QP_web

Top photo by Jim Hague, bottom courtesy Robert Rodriguez The Queen of Peace girls’ basketball team has been bolstered by the play of their seniors. TOP, from l., are Nikki Sammartino, Raychel Piserchia, Maria Ruiz and Lia Rodriguez. BOTTOM: Senior Lia Rodriguez controls the ball in a recent Queen of Peace girls’ basketball game against rival North Arlington.

Top photo by Jim Hague, bottom courtesy Robert Rodriguez
The Queen of Peace girls’ basketball team has been bolstered by the play of their seniors. TOP, from l., are Nikki Sammartino, Raychel Piserchia, Maria Ruiz and Lia Rodriguez. BOTTOM: Senior Lia Rodriguez controls the ball in a recent Queen of Peace girls’ basketball game against rival North Arlington.

By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

As the Lyndhurst recreation coordinator, Paul Passamano has been involved with the coaching of youngsters for more than 30 years.

“It started with my daughter and I just kept going,” said Passamano, who remains active with the development of kids in Lyndhurst.

However, last year, Passamano took over a new challenge, when he became the head girls’ basketball coach at nearby Queen of Peace.

“I wanted to coach high school girls’ basketball all my life,” Passamano said. “I played at Bergen Tech and in the Navy. I love coaching.

It was my passion when I started coaching.” Sure, there were mixed feelings the first time QP faced Lyndhurst last year.

“We were playing against girls I coached,” Passamano said. “They were my heart and soul. But things are different now. Everyone understands that this is my team and I love coaching the girls at Queen of Peace. I was fortunate to get the chance.”

The Golden Griffins own a 3-3 record thus far in the early going of the season.

“I would have liked to have a better record,” Passamano said. “We’ve had a tough early schedule. But I think we should have a good team.”

In fact, Passamano believes that the Golden Griffins will be vastly improved on last year’s 7-15 mark.

“I think we should have double figures in wins,” Passamano said. “We’re trying to reverse last year’s record.”

Passamano said that he has instructed his players to not look at the scoreboard.

“They don’t look at the scoreboard,” Passamano said. “They just play hard, hard and hard. We’re a running team. We play hard and don’t give up. We have a good bunch of kids. We have a good bench that works the starting team hard in practice. They’re there every day in practice with no complaints.”

Passamano said that his team utilizes a variety of defenses.

“We do it all,” Passamano said. “We play zone, press, man-to-man. We mix it up to try to confuse the opposing team.”

Leading the team is senior Nikki Sammartino. The 5-10 forward is a hard worker under the basket.

“She’s a tough kid,” Passamano said. “She has the heart for the game. She is aggressive around the basket.”

Sammartino is averaging 18 points and 11 rebounds per game this season and is approaching 1,000 points for her career.

“We have to get the ball to her,” Passamano said.

Another solid contributor is senior forward Lia Rodriguez, who is one of the best all-around athletes in the area. Rodriguez, a standout soccer goalie in the fall and a track athlete in the spring, is averaging 13 points per game.

“She can really jump,” Passamano said of the 5-foot-9 Rodriguez. “She’s very athletic. I can put her up against someone 6-foot-2 and she’s going to get the ball. She’s also a pleasure to coach. She’s quiet, pleasant and says nothing. She’s just a great kid and a great kid coach.”

Passamano said that he interchanges Allison Gaudenzi and Chelsea Kaszka at the other forward slot.

“They flip-flop,” Passamano said. “It depends on the team we’re facing. Allison can put up the three (pointer). We mix it up.”

The Golden Griffins also have the Mastrofilippo twins, namely juniors Michele and Michaila, to operate in the backcourt.

“They’re coming into their own,” Passamano said of the Mastrofilippo twins. “We need them to shoot a little more, like 15 times a game. We’re working on that. But they’re very quick and athletic. They’re good players who understand the game.”

Junior Jamie Nemeth is another solid contributor.

“Jamie is our speed demon,” Passamano said. “She can run and jump. She just needs to understand the game more. Once she does, she can be a real threat.”

Senior Raychel Piserchia is a solid forward, while senior Maria Ruiz is a guard off the bench. Junior Tianna Peluso is a power forward who “goes after rebounds hard,” according to Passamano.

Junior Clara Marie Talban is a reserve forward and junior Devisha Khan is a new player, still learning the ins and outs of basketball.

Passamano is encouraged about the contributions of three freshmen, namely guards Kelly Lennon and Kaylee Ameri and center/forward Jane Amadeo.

“They wanted to be part of the team,” Passamano said. “They wanted to stay with us and train every day. They’re getting better and never complain. They’re going to help us down the road.”

As for now, Passamano is content with the Golden Griffins, taking full advantage of the opportunity he craved for a lifetime.

“I love coaching these girls,” Passamano said. “I love the team. I love the school. I love the people in the school. I think we’re going to show improvement this year. We’ll see how well we hold up over the next few weeks.”

Kearny native now at the helm


Photo by Ron Leir Patricia Blood

Photo by Ron Leir
Patricia Blood



Kearny’s newly appointed acting superintendent of schools is poised to take the district forward, even it’s only as a temporary caretaker.

Patricia Blood, born and raised in Kearny, started her educational career in town, teaching English at Kearny High School in 1977. She left in 1986 “to raise four kids” and relocated to Monmouth County but eventually, resumed her education career as a teacher and then assistant principal in the Freehold Regional High School District where she served 14 years.

She returned to the Kearny district in December 2010 as director of curriculum for grades 6 to 12, at a salary of $143,473 a year. She has certification as a school administrator and is, therefore, eligible to serve as superintendent.

Asked if she was surprised by the promotion, Blood said she “was approached by board members prior to the [Jan. 6] meeting” and told about the plan “to put someone in [as acting superintendent] who knew the district and the community until such time as they could complete whatever it is they need to do.”

As of last week, Blood had already moved into the office vacated by ousted Superintendent Frank Ferraro, now on involuntary paid leave, even arranging for custodial staff to replace Ferraro’s desk with her own.

And, in another sign of transition under the new board majority, Gail Landi, who was secretary to interim Superintendent Ron Boland but then shunted to a makeshift, window-less office in Franklin School, was back in the central office.

Last week, Blood sat down with BOE Counsel Kenneth Lindenfelser to review pending legal matters.

And Blood said she was getting up to speed on the “myriad of changes on the state and local level” that local districts were now mandated to follow, such as “how teachers and administrators are to be evaluated, mandated student growth objectives and the pilot for PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College & Careers) testing.”

“But we have a good team here and we will work together to move Kearny in a positive direction,” Blood said. “And we are already continuing to move in that direction to increase student achievement.”

During the past two years, she said, “we have developed a new curriculum that is completely aligned to the state’s Common Core standards and we’ve provided teacher training designed to give students a more rigorous academic foundation.”

“Of course,” Blood added, “change doesn’t happen overnight, but when you provide teachers with the right tools, our students will continue to achieve.”

Blood said the district has already “started to see improvements” with a growth in math achievement in grades K to 8 since the “Go Math” curriculum was instituted in the 2012- 2013 school year, as charted by the NJASK (N.J. Assessment of Skills & Knowledge) test.

Another good sign, Blood said, is “the increase in the number of students taking Algebra 1 as a grade 8 elective in the last two years, going from 49 to 111 – which is 25% of our eighth-grade class.”

– Ron Leir


Frank Goresh

Frank Goresh passed away on Sunday, Jan. 5, surrounded by his family.

Born on Jan. 3, 1940, Frank just celebrated his 74th birthday. He was born in Newark, and became a longtime resident of Kearny.

He was employed by the United States Postal Service for 29 years before retiring in 2000. Frank loved his country and served in the United States Army. He was stationed in Germany in 1962 and was honorable discharged in 1968.

His hobbies were collecting memorabilia for the Civil War and taking trips to Gettysburg, Va. Frank also enjoyed watching old-time movies and relaxing in his favorite chair.

He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Frank M. and Julia Goresh, son Keith T. Goresh, two grandsons Michael F. Goresh and Ryan M. Goresh and a brother Alexander (Ally) Goresh. He is predeceased by his parents Frank and Stella (D’Mytrowitz) Goresh and a brother John Goresh and says goodbye to two long-time friends Joseph Fernandez and Salvator Petruzzi.

A private ceremony was arranged by Shaw-Buyus Home for Services, 138 Davis Avenue, Kearny, and Frank has an eternal resting place at Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.

Barbara Jean Gorski

Barbara Jean (Laue) Gorski, 60, of Honesdale, died on Wednesday, Jan. 8, at Regional Hospital in Scranton, Pa. She is survived by her husband of 37 years, Chester “Chet” Gorski Jr. The couple married on May 8, 1975, in St. Cecilia’s Church in Kearny.

Born on June 9, 1953, in Irvington, she was the daughter of the late Hans and Dorothy Laue. She was a graduate of Irvington High School, class of 1971. Shortly thereafter, she met her future husband while she was a member of the Woodsiders Drum and Bugle Corps in Harrison, and became engaged in 1974. Barb became the youngest Worthy Matron of the Irvington Chapter of the Eastern Star.

Barb and her husband resided in Kearny, and she was employed as a dental technician with Custom Cast in Irvington. In 1989, she and her family moved to Masthope Ski Mountain Community in Lackawaxen, Pa. Shortly after, she began working at Woodloch Pines Resort in Hawley, Pa., as a reservation clerk. In 2008 she moved to Beach Lake, Pa. and retired from Woodloch in 2011.

Barb was a proud deacon at the First Presbyterian Church in Honesdale, Pa., past VFW Ladies Auxiliary President of Honesdale Post 531, past member of the Masthope Mountain Board of Directors and a Cub Scout Den Leader of Pack 410 of the Beach Lake UMC.

Barb’s love, support, smiling face and positive attitude will be greatly missed by all who knew her.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by her daughter Jennifer Thomas and husband David of Lackawaxen, Pa.; her son Chester “Andy” Gorski of Beach Lake, Pa.; her brother Joseph Laue and wife JoAnn of Lincroft; her grandchildren Logan Gorski and Kole Gorski Thomas and also her beloved dogs Sarge, Semper, Shotzie and Izzy.

Funeral services were held at the First Presbyterian Church in Honesdale, followed by interment in Indian Orchard Cemetery, Honesdale, Pa. Arrangements were by the Hessling Funeral Home, Inc., Honesdale, Pa.. Condolences may be sent to www.hesslingfuneralhome.com.

Memorial contributions can be made to VFW Ladies Auxiliary, 736 Main St., Honesdale, Pa. 18431.

John E. Jimenez

John E. Jimenez died Jan. 7 at home. He was 72.

Born in Puerto Rico, John lived in Union for 21 years and prior to that, he lived in Irvington.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass was held at St. Stephen’s Church. Interment was in Holy Cross Cemetery. To leave an online condolence, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

John was formerly married to Catherine (nee McGaheran). He was the father of Katy Hayes, Susan, John E. Jr., and David Jimenez and the late Robin Lynn Jimenez and brother of Pedro Jimenez and Teresa and Carmen Velez. He is also survived by his four grandchildren James Logan, Jenna Heather, Fiona Raven and Brooklynne Reilly.

Frederick J. Kuhrt Jr.

Frederick J. “Freddie” “Rick” Kuhrt Jr., 58, a lifelong resident of Kearny, died suddenly on Jan. 9.

Arrangements were by the Armitage & Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr.

A Mass of Christian burial was officiated at St. Stephen’s Church, Kearny. Cremation was private.

Condolences may be sent to www.armitagewiggins.com.

Mr. Kuhrt was an automotive technology teacher at Kearny High School for 34 years. He received his B.A. in Industrial Technology at Kean University.

He was a member of the NJEA, the Kearny Teacher’s Association, The Wanderers Car Club of Sussex County, The MG Car Club of Central N.J., The Saxton Falls Hunting Club, president of The Owsego Fishing Club of Kearny, former head coach of The Rifle Club and Freshman Football Coach both at Kearny High School and a seasonal camper at The Great Divide, Green Township.

He was the beloved husband of Deborah Rossi Kuhrt for 34 years, son of Stephanie Levchak Kuhrt and the late Frederick J. Kuhrt Sr., father of Frederick J. “Rick” Kuhrt III (Nicole), member of The NJSP Netcong Barracks and Michael Kuhrt, brother of John Kuhrt (Karen), Lorraine Fitzgerald (Richard) and Garry Kuhrt.

In lieu of flowers, a scholarship at Kearny High School will be created in Mr. Kuhrt’s name and contributions to that scholarship would be appreciated.

Edilia E. Perez

Edilia E. Perez (nee Fadraga) 81, of Kearny, died on Jan. 9 at her home.

A Mass of Christian burial was officiated at Queen of Peace Church, North Arlington. Interment was in Holy Cross Cemetery.

Mrs. Perez was born in Maximo Gomez, Cuba and came to the United States in 1971, settling in Newark and moving to Kearny in 1980. She was a member of The Breast Cancer Survivor Foundation, Kearny.

She exemplified the American Dream. Through hard work and dedication to her family and her country that she loved, she was able to raise a family, travel through Europe and Latin America and purchase her house in Kearny in 1980. Her legacy of love lives on in the hearts of all whose lives she touched.

She was the beloved wife of Juan J. Perez of 52 years, dear mother of Maria Rockfol (Donald), grandmother of Katarina Rockfol, sister of Sarah Goyenechea (Manuel), Eva Tovar and the late Hilda Alfonso, Carlos and Miguel Fadraga, sister-in-law of Roberto Alfonso, aunt of Victoria Fadraga-Matos (Raymon) and their son Raymon, Carlos Goyenechea (Maureen) and their sons Kevin and Ryan, Manuel Goyenechea and Esperanza Clinchot (Charles) and their daughters Kaitlyn and Alexis.

In lieu of flowers, donations To Make A Wish Foundation, 1347 Perrineville Rd., Monroe Township, N.J. 08831 (www.nj.wish.org) would be appreciated.

James Perritt

James Perritt, 70, died on Jan. 4.

Arrangements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. The funeral service was held at the funeral home, followed by a private cremation.

Condolences and memories may be shared at www.thiele-reid.com.

James was born in Jersey City and was a lifelong resident of Kearny.

He served in the U.S. Marines from 1966 to 1968.

Mr. Perritt worked for Monsanto Chemical, which later became Solutia Chemical, in South Kearny for 45 years, retiring several years ago.

James was a member of Frobisher Post 99 American Legion and the Fraternal Order of Eagles, both of Kearny.

He is survived by his wife JoAnne (nee Generoso); three daughters Tracey Solinski (Michael), Katherine Perritt and Kelly Perritt; two sisters Sandra Strain and Georgene Delaney; two brothers Arthur and Edward Perritt and his five beloved grandchildren; Nicholas and Jonathon Solinski and Christopher, Gianna and Juliana Perritt.

He was predeceased by his parents James and Margaret (Matthews) Perritt and his sister Diane Santamassino.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, P.O. Box 1000, Dept. 142, Memphis, Tenn. 38101.

Henry M. Sarnas

Henry M. Sarnas, 64, passed away on Friday, Jan. 10, at Community Hospital in Toms River. He was born in Irvington and resided in Kearny for many years before moving to Bayville.

Henry attended Newark College of Engineering. He worked for PSE&G in Harrison (Gas Generating plant) for many years.

He was the beloved brother of Deacon John Sarnas and his wife Zofia, and the late Robert Sarnas; brother-in law of Donna Sarnas; cherished uncle of Magdalena and Malwina; loyal friend of 50 years, Robert Testa.

Relatives and friends are welcome to attend the funeral on Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 9 a.m. at the Shaw- Buyus Home for Services, 138 Davis Ave., at Bergen Ave. Kearny. Thence to Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Kearny, where at 10 a.m., the funeral Mass will be offered. Cremation is private. Visitation is on Tuesday, Jan. 14, from 3 to 7 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, Tenn. 38105 (donor stjude.org) would be appreciated.

Evelyn V. Sirois

Evelyn V. (nee Cullen) Sirois of North Arlington (formerly of Bayonne) passed away on Sunday, Jan. 12, at the age of 88. Born in Jersey City, she had lived in Bayonne before moving to North Arlington 30 years ago. She was a tube tester with R.C.A. in Harrison for over 30 years prior to her retirement.

Mrs. Sirois was predeceased by her husband, Reginald A. Sirois; step-son Brian Sirois; sister, Margaret Hoey and brother William Cullen. Surviving are her sisterin- law, Anna Mae Cullen; nieces and nephews, Janice Cullen, Debbie Petruska, Kathleen Chapman, Eileen McNamara, Charles Hoey, and Kenneth Hoey.

Visitation will be at the Dzikowski, Pierce & Levis Funeral Home, 24 E. 19th St., Bayonne, on Tuesday, Jan. 14, from 6 to 9 p.m. The funeral service will be from the funeral home on Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 10 a.m. Interment will be in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.

Please visit www.dplfh.com for directions and condolence messages.

Margaret T. Was

Margaret T. Was (nee Reto), 87, of Clifton, passed away peacefully on Jan. 10.

Born in East Newark, Margaret was raised in Harrison, graduated from Holy Cross School in 1940 and then Holy Cross Commercial in 1942. She lived in Clifton for the past 49 years. Before retirement, she had been employed as a substitute secretary for the Clifton Board of Education for seven years. Prior employment had been as a production manager with Fischer-Stevens in Clifton.

She was a faithful attendee of St. Clare RC Church in Clifton. Margaret was predeceased by her husband, Joseph Stanley Was; her former husband, Francis Rowland; and by her sister, Ellen McNamara.

She is survived by her children and loved ones: Patrick Rowland and his wife, Mary Jane, of Old Bridge; John Rowland and Linda Kain of Lakewood; Thomas Rowland of Kearny and Theresa Fleming; Jane Garbus of Clifton; and Ellen Kilpatrick and her husband, Joseph, of West Orange. She is also survived by her dear niece, Ellen Jennings of Madison. Margaret left behind four grandchildren: Nicole Bakaj and her husband, Thomas Mullen; Pamela Tracy and her husband, Stephen; Kelsey Rowland; and Anna Garbus. She also leaves behind four great-grandchildren: Archer and Kieran Mullen and Vanessa and Cameron Tracy.

All of the above consider it a blessing to have been a part of her life.

Funeral services will be Tuesday at 9:15 a.m. from the Bizub-Quinlan Funeral Home, 1313 Van Houten Ave., Clifton, and 10 a.m. at St. Clare RC Church, 31 Allwood Rd., Clifton. Final service will follow at East Ridgelawn Cemetery, 244 Main Ave., Clifton. Please visit www.bizub.com for driving directions and online condolences.

Consider dental care for the New Year



Happy New Year from the staff and doctors of The Smile and Implant Center, 837 Kearny Ave., Kearny, who would like to extend an invitation to become part of their dental family. Dr. Harry Harcsztark constantly strives to provide his valued patients with state-of-the-art dental treatment and procedures all in a caring, pain-free and modern environment.

People are encouraged to start the New Year with one of the most important exams they can have in 2014. Ongoing scientific study documents the associations linking oral health and periodontal disease to systemic health issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, preterm births, pulmonary disease, pancreatic cancer and even kidney disease. So, when thinking of New Year’s resolutions, people may want to consider adding a dental checkup to the top of the list. It just might be the most important check up you can have in the New Year.

For more information on The Smile and Implant Center and the variety of dental services offered including facial beauty treatments, call Alexis at 201-991-1055 or e-mail her at alexis@thesmileandimplantcenter.com.

News from the Nutley Police blotter

Jan. 10

Several Nutley High School students reported that their cellular phones were removed from the gym locker room. The incidents were logged at 10:48 a.m. Detectives are investigating.

Jan. 8

An investigation of a motor vehicle accident on Lloyd St. resulted in the arrest of Jillian Mahon, 24, of Nutley, at 5:11 p.m. Police said Mahon was charged with two counts of possession of cocaine and meth amphetamine and one count of possession of marijuana and released pending a court hearing.

At 4:32 p.m., police responded to a Clover St. resident on a report of harassing phone calls from someone identifying themselves as “Kevin Petterson” of the IRS who reportedly told the resident they needed to pay $2,000 immediately or face jail time for tax fraud. Police said the victim was told to get Pay Pal money cards and to give the information on the cards to him when he called back. The value on the cards was $2,000. But the victim told police that the caller wanted more money and, after the victim refused, the caller hung up. After that, the victim called police who said they tried to contact Petterson without success.

At 4:12 p.m., a DeVausney Place resident reported a burglary to motor vehicle. The victim told police that someone stole about $1,500 worth of power and hand tools and three prescription bottles. Police said the victim told them they found that the vehicle’s rear hatch window had been pried open and the driver’s side window forced down. Police said they found no visible sign of entry and the glass locked when it was closed.

At 2:29 p.m., police said, a motor vehicle stop on Ernest St. resulted in the arrest of Frank Ruglio, 25, of Nutley, for a warrant out of Newark. He was turned over to the custody of Newark PD.

Jan. 7

A motor vehicle stop, at 4:11 p.m., on Brookfield Ave. ended with the arrest of Anthony Capaccio, 30, of Nutley, on a charge of possession of drugs. He was released pending a court date.

Jan. 6

At 10:31 a.m., police responded to a River Road location on a reported of an attempted break-in. The resident caller told police they were in their house when they heard the door bell ring and a loud knock on the door. As they walked toward the door, they said they heard someone trying to force their way in so the resident held the door shut and shouted to their spouse to call the police. The caller told police they saw two tall men, both wearing black clothing, black hats and orange gloves, carrying a crow bar, run from their front steps to a vehicle in the driveway with another man in the driver’s seat. The car, described as a possible Oldsmobile sedan, grey, four-door, was last seen heading south on River Road. Police said they saw pry marks in the front door lock. Detectives are reviewing the resident’s home surveillance tape for possible clues.

– Ron Leir