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Relief for commuters

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  LYNDHURST –  After what Lyndhurst Mayor Robert Giangeruso characterized as “33 years of starts and stops,” the township – with help from Bergen County – is finally beginning to see the start of improvements to the intersection at Kingsland and Riverside Aves. The changes […]

Convicted in mortgage swindle

A Belleville man was among three defendants convicted earlier this month in federal court for their roles in a $15 million mortgage fraud scheme involving condominiums in New Jersey and Florida, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman reported. Last month, another Belleville resident pleaded guilty in the same scam. According to […]

Walmart is keeping cops busy

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  The Walmart in Kearny is conveniently located on Harrison Ave., with easy access to Rt. 280, the N.J. Turnpike and feeder roads to Newark and Jersey City. This is a boon for shoppers. However, according to Kearny police, it is […]

2011 layoffs affirmed

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY – Four former Kearny workers, including a union chief, have lost the first round of a bid to reverse their New Year’s Eve dismissals nearly three years ago. In a 21-page ruling issued Sept. 3, the state Office of Administrative Law […]

Go pink at St. Michael’s

Don your favorite pink attire and join St. Michael’s Medical Center for a Breast Cancer Awareness Month event — Breast Health & You — on Saturday, Oct. 25, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at SMMC’s Connie Dwyer Breast Center, 111 Central Ave., Newark. Dr. Nadine Pappas, director of […]

 
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Thoughts & Views: Do we cross this ‘red line’?

Every day the civilian casualties mount in war-torn Syria, with an estimated 1,000 deaths blamed on chemical weapons, allegedly used by the Assad regime, or so we’re told by President Obama.

The President wants to send “a shot across the bow” to show the U.S. means business when we say we’re horrified that a government would gas its own citizens to stay in power.

And Sen. Robert Menendez (D-Union City) has got the President’s back, saying that while it’s nice to try and saddle up Congress for the ride, he shouldn’t wait too long for a consensus before firing those missiles.

Maybe don’t even wait for the U.N. inspectors to document the deadly deed before striking, the congressman suggested.

Congressional Republicans and many Democrats – recalling how lawmakers were misled by previous administrations into deadly forays into Iraq and Vietnam – are demanding that the President show convincing proof that the Assad government plotted to use sarin gas against insurgents.

In Russia, Putin – who has been an ally of Assad – says nothing while the British Parliament rejects the Prime Minister’s call to arms.

Meanwhile, the numbers of the dead in Syria continue to rise, with an estimated 100,000 people having been killed in the two years that the country’s civil war has raged.

That ugly fact, alone, should rouse the international community into action to stop the bloodshed and destruction of cities. But this isn’t the first time that empty words have greeted wanton acts of violence and the slaughter of innocents around the globe. Remember Rawanda, the former Yugoslavia, the government-sanctioned indiscriminate sexual attacks on women in Somalia (even Doctors Without Borders have abandoned that country out of fear of lawlessness), the drug cartels’ killings in Mexico and elsewhere, the gassing of millions of Jews, political dissidents and gypsies in Nazi Germany, all the way back to the Crusades.

Geopolitical experts predict that any blow struck by the U.S. against Syria could ignite a powder keg in the region, with Iran poised to invade Israel as a retaliatory move and Syria’s neighbors warring on ethnic lines.

Many Americans, fed up with hopeless and costly military interventions and what they perceive as too many senseless deaths of U.S. military personnel, say that we should give up the notion of being the world’s policeman, that we shouldn’t be sticking our nose into other nations’ business.

Of course, with technology making the world smaller all the time, it will hardly be a surprise to Syria’s government if the U.S. decides to send that “warning shot” from one of our carriers in the region. With all the posturing going on by both sides, the whole controversy has taken on the trappings of a promotion for a WBC championship bout.

In the end, though, neither side will be a “winner” from more killing; we can talk all we want about implanting the ideals of democracy in Syria, Egypt, Iraq or Afghanistan but the roots of ethnic divisiveness seem so deep in that part of the world that American military intervention alone – even assuming the best of intentions – may simply be misguided and lead to even more tragic consequences.

If we really want “stability” in the Middle East, is it going to be accomplished through the threat of U.S. military force and the workings of the CIA?

Or should we continue to hope for – in the spirit of Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations concept – and work toward global cooperation among nations to achieve world peace?

Take your pick.

– Ron Leir

Around Town

Belleville

Belleville residents can have their confidential and sensitive documents safely shredded and recycled for free on Community Shred Day on Saturday, Sept. 28, from 9 a.m. to noon, in the Senior Center parking lot, 125 Franklin Ave. Participants must provide proof of residency. Bring documents in paper bags or cardboard boxes weighing no more than 10 lbs. (limit: five bankers boxes per person). No binders or magazines. Plan to arrive early as this event will end prior to noon if the shredding truck reaches capacity.

Bloomfield

Bloomfield Public Library, 90 Broad St., announces its schedule for its Afternoon at the Movies programs: Mondays – Sept. 2 – library closed; Sept. 9 – “Alice” (PG-13) (Mia Farrow); Sept. 16 – “A Good Day to Die Hard” (R) (Bruce Willis); Sept. 23 – “Cutter’s Way” (R) (Jeff Bridges); and Sept. 30 – “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?” (PG-13) (Tony Randall).

Thursdays – Sept. 5 – “The Lady Killers” (NR) (Alec Guinness); Sept. 12 – “Lay the Favorite” (R) (Bruce Willis); Sept. 19 – “Killing Them Softly” (R) (Brad Pitt); and Sept. 26 – “The Horse’s Mouth” (NR) (Alec Guinness). Films for both programs start at 12:15 p.m. Admission is free.

Attorney Meghan K. Gulczynski conducts a free seminar on domestic violence and restraining orders on Thursday, Sept. 12, at 6 p.m. at the library. For more information, call 973-566-6200, ext. 502

Register now for a twohour resume workshop at the library on Thursday, Sept. 19, at 4 p.m. Optional one-on-one sessions will be available after class. You must attend the workshop to sign up for the individual tutoring. To register, call 973-566-6200, ext. 502

Harrison

Parents of children up to 36 months can read, sing and play with their child at Little Ones Learning at Harrison Public Library, 415 Harrison Ave. The program will be held Tuesdays, starting Sept. 10, at 10:30 a.m. No registration is necessary; but space is limited to the first 15 children.

Kearny

A Flapjack Fundraiser for Pathways to Independence will be held at Applebee’s, 175 Passaic Ave., Kearny, on Sunday, Sept. 15, from 8 to 10 a.m. Tickets are $10. Proceeds will benefit adults with disabilities. For more information, call 201-997-9371, ext. 18.

Cub Scout Pack 305 of Kearny sponsors a town cleanup on Saturday, Sept. 7, from 9 a.m. to noon, at Riverbank Park, Passaic Ave., (across from Stewart’s). Gloves and trash bags will be supplied. All volunteers will be eligible for community service hours.

Register for Kearny Adult School from Sept. 9 to 11, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the main office at Kearny High School, 336 Devon St. Brochures are available at The Observer, Kearny Public Library or the Board of Education Office, 100 Davis Ave. For more information, call 201-955-1392.

The annual St. Jude Novena with Msgr. John J. Gilchrist will begin Monday, Sept. 9, at 7 p.m. in Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 136 Davis Ave.

Tables are still available for $15 or two for $25 for a flea market (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and health screening (9 to 11 a.m.) at Trinity Episcopal Church, 575 Kearny Ave., on Saturday, Sept. 14. For more information, call the church office at 201- 991-5894.

West Hudson Detachment, Marine Corps League, 286 Belgrove Dr., Kearny, hosts an SOS Breakfast on Sunday, Oct. 6, from 9 a.m. to noon. Cost is $7 for adults and $3 for children under age 12. For more information, contact Al Frater 201-906-1197 or email at teanal@optonline.net.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division 7, Hudson County, meets on the second Wednesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. at the Irish American Association, 95 Kearny Ave.

Lyndhurst

The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission announces the following events:

A two-hour guided pontoon boat cruise will be held on Sept. 6, 10, 12 and 16 at 6 p.m. and Sept.7 at 8:30 a.m. Admission is $15 per person; the event is for ages 10 and up. The cruise departs from River Barge Park, 260 Outwater Lane, Carlstadt.

A three-hour guided canoe trip is offered on Saturday, Sept. 7 at 8:30 a.m. The trip, for ages 10 and older, leaves from Mill Creek Point Park, Secaucus. Cost is $15 per person. Pre-registration is required.

For more information or to register for these events, visit www.njmeadowlands.gov/environment/ tours.html or call 201-460-4640.

Lyndhurst Library Children’s Room, 355 Valley Brook Ave., will offer these programs: “Walk-in Storytime,” grades pre-k to 2, every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at 6:30 p.m. No registration is required; “Fall Storytime,” ages 3 to 4 1/2, Thursdays beginning Sept. 19, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Registration is open until Sept. 13;

“Special Craft” to celebrate Johnny Appleseed’s birthday, for grades pre-k to 3, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 3:30 to 4:15 p.m.; registration is required; and “Autumn Wreath Craft,” for grades 1 to 4, Monday, Sept. 30, 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. To register, call 201-804-2478.

Glenn LeBoeuf of www.newlethistorylive.net lectures on “Failure at Gettysburg: 15 Decisions that Doomed the Confederacy” at the library on Thursday, Sept. 19, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Registration is necessary. Contact the library at 201-804- 2478, ext. 7, or e-mail romeo@ bccls.org to register.

The Alzheimer’s Association hosts a two-part program, “Living with Alzheimer’s for Caregivers: Middle Stage,” at the library on Wednesday, Sept. 18 and 25, 6 to 8 p.m. Registration is necessary. To register, call the Alzheimer’s Association at 973-586-4300.

Clara Maass Medical Center hosts a breakfast forum on vaccination options for adults at the Lyndhurst Health Department, 601 Riverside Ave., Suite 1, on Friday, Sept. 20 at 10 a.m. Call 201-804-2500 to reserve a seat. Free chair yoga, hosted by YMCA Meadowlands Area, will resume following the seminar at 11:30 a.m.

North Arlington

American Legion Alexander Stover Post 37, 222 River Rd., will meet on Sept. 9 at 8 p.m. For more information, call 201- 214-8253.

Nutley

“Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” will be shown during Nutley’s “Drivein Movie Night” in Municipal Park Lot 1, William Street (east side of Franklin Avenue) on Friday, Sept. 6 (Rain date: Thursday, Sept. 12). Reservations are required. Lot opens at 6:30 p.m. and movie begins after dark.

Admission: $15 per car (limited to the first 100 cars). Call the Department of Public Works at 973-284-4959 to reserve a spot.

Play Bridge at Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Dr., on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. No registration is required.

No registration is required for Conversational ESL classes, Wednesdays at 10 a.m., at the library.

Wednesday Afternoon Knitters meet weekly at the library at 1 p.m. Bring your own supplies.

The library hosts Dungeons and Dragons meet-ups on Thursdays, Sept. 12 and 26, at 7 p.m.

For more information on library programs, call 973-667- 0405.

North Arlington primed for solid football season

Vikings look to improve on last season’s 4-6 mark

Photo by Jim Hague The North Arlington football team looks to be much improved over the 4-6 mark they posted last season. From l. are Ryan Austin, Dominic Reo, Brandon Pipher, head coach Anthony Marck, Matt Karras, Danny Goffredo and Anthony Muriale

Photo by Jim Hague
The North Arlington football team looks to be much improved over the 4-6 mark they posted last season. From l. are Ryan Austin, Dominic Reo, Brandon Pipher, head coach Anthony Marck, Matt Karras, Danny Goffredo and Anthony Muriale

 

 

By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

Although North Arlington’s football team lost a key player in A.J. Nocciolo, the Observer’s Male Athlete of the Year for 2012-2013, veteran head coach Anthony Marck believes that his Vikings can be an improved team this fall.

“Don’t get me wrong, we obviously can’t replace someone like him,” Marck said of Nocciolo, who is now at ASA College in Brooklyn, a junior college. “He was with us for four years. He did so many great things for us. We can’t replace him, nor do we try to do it. But we have a different kind of team now.”

In fact, Marck likes the character of his current team.

“In my eight years, this is the tightest group we’ve had,” Marck said. “They are so close together. They work so hard together. They work harder than any group we’ve had. It’s a pleasure every day to come to the field and be with these kids. I genuinely get up every day excited to be with them. They’re a great group of kids.” And because of that, Marck believes that the Vikings can improve on last year’s 4-6 mark, mainly because the Vikings won their final three games of the tumultuous 2012 season, one that featured a loss of their practice facility at Rip Collins Field due to the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

“We can be better,” Marck said.

Leading the way is senior quarterback Kenny Kuzmuk (5-10, 190).

“Kenny was the backup quarterback the last two years and he patiently waited his turn,” Marck said. “He’s a very bright kid and an outstanding athlete. We’re going to run the ball more this year. That’s the plan and we have to get his athleticism to the outside.”

Another key returnee is senior running back Mike Brazzel (5-7, 175). Brazzel rushed for 400 yards and had more than 300 yards in receiving last season while battling an assortment of injuries. Healthy, Brazzel is a very dangerous back.

“Mike may be the fastest kid we’ve ever had,” Marck said. “He’s a speed burner. He can get to the outside. He’s a super athlete and we have to line him up all over the place and get him the ball. He’s going to carry more of the load this year. He knows it and prepared well for the season.”

Junior Adrian Foote (5-9, 185) is a transfer from East Orange who will play right away and make his mark.

“He’s another fast kid and athletic,” Marck said. “The one thing I like is that they’re all athletic.”

Perhaps the best athlete of the bunch is senior Nick Martin (6-2, 235), who is a brilliant student athlete and is getting recruited by all of the Ivy League schools – a testament to Martin’s excellent academic standing.

“He’s what you want in a high school football player,” Marck said of Martin. “We recently had Cornell, Yale and Harvard in to see him. He’s in the top 10 of his class.”

Martin was a tight end last year who caught an astounding 63 passes last year, the top mark for any tight end in New Jersey. But to get Martin even more chances to touch the ball, he’s been moved inside to fullback. It’s going to make Martin even more of a serious threat.

“We feel that he can also help us there if he’s the lead blocker,” Marck said. “We’re a much better team with Nick at fullback. He gets positive yards when he gets it and we can run behind him.”

Senior Mohammad Jalal (6- 0, 170) is at one receiver.

“He’s been waiting in the wings for his chance,” Marck said. “He’s a hard working kid with good hands.”

Junior Alex Samaan (5-10, 170) is another quality target for Kuzmuk to throw to.

“He’s another speed burner,” Marck said. “He’s new to the position (wide receiver), so he’s still learning.”

Senior Ryan Austin (6-2, 215) is a capable tight end, making the Martin move to fullback that much easier.

The offensive line features four returning starters. Junior guard Danny Goffredo (5-10, 185) has been a three-year starter at guard.

“He’s been a starter since he came in as a freshman,” Marck said.

Senior Matt Karras (6-3, 250) started last year at center, with senior Anthony Muriale (6-0, 210) and junior Dominic Reo (5-10, 220) returning at tackle. Junior Brandon Pipher (5-9, 205) is the other starting guard.

Defensively, the Vikings play a 4-4 alignment, with Muriale and Reo at defensive end and Pipher and Karras at defensive tackle.

Photo by Jim Hague Nick Martin is one of the best student athletes in northern New Jersey. The North Arlington senior has a lot of the Ivy League schools recruiting him.

Photo by Jim Hague
Nick Martin is one of the best student athletes in northern New Jersey. The North Arlington senior has a lot of the Ivy League schools recruiting him.

 

Despite being a quarterback, Kuzmuk is an outside linebacker, where he led the team in tackles last season. The other starter at outside linebacker is sophomore Joe Morales (5-10, 180).

Martin is a downright stud at inside linebacker. That might be the position he plays on the next level. The other inside linebacker is one of the best names you’ll find in local football. Junior Giuseppe Gugliuzza (5-10, 190) is a name right off the set of “The Sopranos.”

“He’s our most improved player,” Marck said. “He was our best camp player. He can definitely play.”

The cornerbacks are Brazzel and Foote, with Samaan at safety.

The Vikings open up their season Sept. 14 at Elmwood Park. They get their first chance to play on the new facility in Riverside County Park on Friday night, Sept. 20.

Marck believes the Vikings will be better this year.

“The schedule is relentless,” Marck said. “We have to get off to a good start. But the team chemistry is the key. It’s tremendous. Because of that alone, I feel we can be a lot better than we were last year.”

It should be exciting to watch.

Blue Tide girls’ soccer: Movin’ on up

 

Photo by Jim Hague The Harrison girls’ soccer team looks to be improved this season. From l. are Chelsea Uribe, Katherin Merino, Alexia Garrison, Cindy Passos, Lucy Pinto and head coach Annemarie Sacco.

Photo by Jim Hague
The Harrison girls’ soccer team looks to be improved this season. From l. are Chelsea Uribe, Katherin Merino, Alexia Garrison, Cindy Passos, Lucy Pinto and head coach Annemarie Sacco.

 

By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

As she begins her third season as the head coach of the Harrison girls’ soccer team, Annemarie Sacco believes that her team will be improved this year, simply because they spent the summer months together.

“Our Harrison Recreation program sponsored our team playing in the Kearny Thistle league,” Sacco said. “It showed their dedication to the game.”

And in turn, the summer months have led to improvements on the field as the 2013 season begins.

“You can definitely see that they move the ball better,” Sacco said. “They have more of a concept of open space and they’re utilizing that. They faced better competition over the summer and that has to help. We were very inexperienced last year, so we’re hoping that the experience they got over the summer together will be a positive thing.”

The Blue Tide posted a 4-13-1 record last season, but Sacco feels that it will be a better mark this time around.

“We’re definitely looking to improve,” Sacco said.

Senior Maribeth Carias was set to return as the goalkeeper, but she suffered a shoulder injury that seems to be recurring, so sophomore Alexia Garrison has been a capable fill-in as the Blue Tide keeper.

The sweeper is junior Gabriella Ortiz, who was a defender last year. The stopper is senior Viridiana Garcia, another defender who has moved into a more important role this year. Freshman Lucy Pinto is also along the back line. Sacco likes Pinto’s potential.

“She’s played a lot of soccer and has a lot of experience at a higher level,” Sacco said of Pinto. “I feel very good about her.”

Senior Sabrina Aiello is a returnee at defender.

Junior Cindy Passos returns to her slot at center midfield. Passos, who has good ball skills, had five assists last season.

“She’s our leader and our playmaker,” Sacco said.

Anne Doyle, a senior, is more of a defensive midfielder.

Junior Chelsea Uribe is an offensive-minded midfielder.

“She is a good ball distributor,” Sacco said. “She can make some great runs on the outside.”

Junior Melissa Carriera is another member of the Blue Tide midfield.

Junior Katherin Merino is back to lead the Blue Tide forward line. Merino was the Blue Tide’s leading scorer last year, finding the net eight times.

“We need her goal scoring,” Sacco said.

Sophomore Raquel Seeback is another forward, as is sophomore Eva Kiss, whose name might make all romantics happy.

The Blue Tide suffered a crushing blow when senior Stefanie Bento suffered a knee injury in the offseason. She is still wearing a bulky knee brace, so her return remains in question. Bento would have added some needed offensive punch.

Sacco knows that her team will be concentrating on one area this year.

“We have been focusing on defense,” Sacco said. “That’s what we need to do.”

The Blue Tide has also been focusing on conditioning. Before one early morning practice recently, the team was timed as they ran laps around the Harrison High School complex. This was at 7 a.m., before even the birds were chirping.

But the team was out there, chugging along, under the watchful eye of the head coach and her staff. In terms of dedication, it doesn’t get any better than that. It’s hard to get teenagers out of bed at 7 in the morning, never mind have them run miles under a stopwatch.

“We’re really hoping that the experience they got in the summer pays off,” Sacco said. “It’s helping them be aware of what it takes. Now they have experience playing with each other at a high level. It has to help.”

The Blue Tide begins the 2013 season with a match against Leonia Sept. 12.

Golden Griffins move forward with new coach Kearns

 

Photo by Jim Hague Queen of Peace’s football team has a lot of returning players, making new head coach Robert Kearns pleased. Kearns was a long-time assistant and former head coach of the Golden Griffins. From l. are Michael Akanbi, Babatunde Ojo, Shadaun Brown, Kearns, Andrew Gonzalez and Peter Lorfink.

Photo by Jim Hague
Queen of Peace’s football team has a lot of returning players, making new head coach Robert Kearns pleased. Kearns was a long-time assistant and former head coach of the Golden Griffins. From l. are Michael Akanbi, Babatunde Ojo, Shadaun Brown, Kearns, Andrew Gonzalez and Peter Lorfink.

By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

Even though he had been gone from Queen of Peace football for a few years, Robert Kearns never felt like really left.

“I’ve been Queen of Peace all my life,” Kearns said. “My brother went to QP. So did my sons. I coached here for more than 10 years. My heart is at Queen of Peace.”

So when the head football coaching position opened upon Steve Romano’s resignation at the end of the 2012 season, Kearns made one call to longtime friend and QP athletic director Ed Abromaitis.

“I said that if there was anything I could do for the school, I would do it,” Kearns said. “I want to see football keep going at QP.”

Kearns, who recently was the defensive coordinator at Cardinal McCarrick in South Amboy, was a longtime assistant coach at Queen of Peace under both Andy Cerco and the late Ralph Borgess. He was even the head coach for two seasons in 1997 and 1998.

So there was a sense of familiarity when the school brought back Kearns to be the head coach for the 2013 season.

“I was very excited,” Kearns said. “I told them that I’m there for them.”

Kearns has been rejuvenated in his return to his old stomping grounds.

“It’s probably the most excited I’ve ever been for a new season,” Kearns said. “The attitude is tremendous. But as I started to watch this team, I realized that this is a very talented club. There are a lot of good athletes.”

The Golden Griffins were 2-8 last season, yet still managed to qualify for the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 1 playoffs, losing to St. Anthony.

However, several of the key players from last year’s team have returned – despite rumors of a mass exodus upon Romano’s departure. All of the key personnel have returned.

Leading the way is senior quarterback Anthony Villano (6-1, 185), who has been the starting signal caller for the Golden Griffins for the last three seasons.

Kearns is in amazement when it comes to Villano’s talents.

“Without a question, Anthony is the purest passer I think Queen of Peace has ever had,” Kearns said. “I told him early on that he was in charge. When he calls the plays, he has this confidence built in him. He’s like having another coach on the field. I told him that he’s the guy driving the car. Every day, he grows more confident and that’s a pleasure to see.”

Top running back Kevin Momnohin has also returned. Momnohin (5-11, 200) has been the most electric player QP has had the last two seasons and he’s back for his senior year. The only thing that has sidetracked Momnohin in the past has been injury. Other than that, he’s been next to unstoppable.

“We have to get him the ball,” Kearns said. “He’s a complete football player.”

Another returnee in the QP backfield is Momnohin’s twin brother Keith (5-10, 220).

“He’s a quiet kid, but a tough quiet,” Kearns said. “He has that look about him, that presence.”

The fullback is senior Tajier Jefferson (5-9, 225), who might be built low to the ground, but he’s deceptively fast.

“He’s a bowling ball, but he can go,” Kearns said. “He’s elusive.”

Senior Danny Douelfakar (6-2, 210) is the team’s tight end/wide receiver.

“He has great hands,” Kearns said of Douelfakar. “I think he has a great thing going with Anthony. The two work so well together and help each other.”

Another wide receiver is senior Justin Thomas (5-9, 175).

“He’s the best route runner on the team,” Kearns said. “He is a heck of a receiver.”

Senior Michael Akanbi (6-4, 220), the standout high hurdler in the spring track season, is another returning starter at tackle. Akanbi is joined at tackle by senior Shadaun Brown (6-1, 215). Senior Babatunde Ojo (6-2, 240) returns at one guard slot. He is joined by mammoth senior Peter Lorfink (6-7, 350), who moves extremely well for a player of his stature. Sophomore Maurice Helena (6-2, 220) is the center.

“We have nice size up front,” Kearns said. “They’re meshing well together.”

Defensively, the Golden Griffins use a 3-4 formation, with Akanbi and Ojo at defensive end and sophomore Chima Dunga (6-2, 210) at nose guard.

Thomas and junior Jeraldy Napoleon (5-10, 185) are the outside linebackers, with Douelfakar and Jefferson at inside linebacker.

Jefferson is a player to watch on the defensive side.

“He’s the heart and soul of our defense,” Kearns said.

Keith Momnohin and Villano are the cornerbacks, with Kevin and senior Justin Estevez (5-8, 165) at safety.

The Golden Griffins open their season Sept. 14, christening the new athletic facility in Riverside County Park. It’s going to be a godsend for the Griffins to play on FieldTurf this season full-time.

The talent is certainly there. Kearns just has to find a way to keep the Griffins healthy.

“Any time you deal with a small group, that’s a concern,” Kearns said. “We have to find a way to keep them healthy. We have to be smart with the way we use the players. We have to utilize the others on special teams.”

Kearns likes the makeup of his squad.

“We’ll see,” Kearns said. “The talent is there. We just have to put them in the right positions. Once we do, we can start moving forward.”

If they do move forward, then a berth in the state playoffs once again is not out of the question.

Obituaries

Ann Sharples Binder

Binder_web

 

Mrs. Ann Sharples Binder, 80, of Salisbury, N.C., passed away Monday, Aug. 26, at the Glenn A. Kiser Hospice House.

Born in Jersey City, she was the daughter of the late Irene Carey Bowley and Thomas Sharples.

Mrs. Binder was a graduate of Kearny High School. She was a retired office manager, having worked for medical and dental offices in New Jersey and North Carolina.

Mrs. Binder was preceded in death by her husband Samuel “Sam” Binder Jr. Those left to cherish her memory are her sons, Dr. Steven Binder (Parker) of Cornelius, N.C., Dr. Michael Binder (Nikki) of Cornelius, N.C.; daughters, Janet Mc- Coy (Dave) of Salisbury, N.C., Nancy Evans (Chris) of Rockwell, N.C.; sisters, Irene Reed, Jane McAllister, Marilyn Bowley, Laura Quegan, Susan Sharples-Zito; brothers, Thomas Wright, Jack Wright, Thomas Sharples Jr., Joseph Sharples, Jack Bowley, Eddie Bowley; 11 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

A funeral service was held Friday, Aug. 30, at Summersett Memorial Chapel, Salisbury, N.C., with Rev. Stephen D. Haines officiating, followed by burial at the U.S. National Cemetery, Statesville Blvd. location, Salisbury, N.C.

Memorials may be made to the Robert Myer Scholarship Fund, c/o F&M Bank, 420 N. Main St., Salisbury, N.C. 28144. Arrangements were by the Summersett Funeral Home, Salisbury, N.C. Memorial tributes and online condolences may be made at www.summersettfuneralhome.com.

Florindo A. Sousa

Florindo A. Sousa, 69, passed away on Monday, Aug. 26, at home in Harrison.

Born in Portugal, he came to the United States in 1981 and lived in Harrison since then. He was retired from the Excavators Local Union Local 731, New York, N.Y.

Florindo is survived by his wife of 45 years, Maria Margarida Sousa, his daughter Carla and her husband William Cooper of Old Bridge, two granddaughters, Ashlyn and Eryn Cooper, and many other relatives and friends.

The funeral was conducted from the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison. Viewing hours and a funeral service were held in the funeral home. Cremation was private. For information or to send condolences to the family, please visit mulliganfuneralhome.org. For those desiring, the family requests donations to: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place Memphis, Tenn. 38105 (www.stjude.org/tribute) in loving memory of Florindo.

Remembering USS Juneau

Photos courtesy Raymond Testa USS Juneau at its launching from old Federal Shipyard in Kearny. Among the crew was Harrison’s William Meeker, seen here with his mother (inset), before setting sail on an ill-fated voyage.

Photos courtesy Raymond Testa
USS Juneau at its launching from old Federal Shipyard in Kearny. Among the crew was Harrison’s William Meeker, seen here with his mother (inset), before setting sail on an ill-fated voyage.

 

By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent

KEARNY –

For nine months, two Harrison neighbors kept up a steady correspondence while one remained stateside and the other was aboard the USS Juneau, sailing in the Pacific during World War II.

The sailor was Seaman 2nd Class William G. Meeker Jr., 18, a product of Holy Cross grammar school and Harrison High School’s Class of 1941, who’d enlisted in the Navy right after graduation.

And the civilian he was writing to was Winefride L. Blohm, who lived on the same block as Meeker on Jersey St. in Harrison.

“The last letter she got was dated Nov. 6, 1942,” said her son-in-law, Raymond Testa, of Royce, Texas, “which was a week before [his] ship went down.” USS anti-aircraft cruiser Juneau was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine on Friday, Nov. 13, 1942, in the Pacific and quickly sank. Of nearly 700 men aboard, only 10 survived – the worst casualty rate experienced by any large ship in the history of the U.S. Navy, according to a Saturday Evening Post account of the battle.

Meeker, who was among the dead, along with 19 other Navy men from Hudson County, and their shipmates will be remembered when Hudson County dedicates the USS Juneau Memorial Center, currently known as Building 77, at 110 S. Hackensack Ave., Kearny, at 2 p.m., on Nov. 13, the 71st anniversary of the Juneau sinking.

The observance, which will feature several memorials, displays of photos of the Juneau taken during its launching, the unveiling of a 5-foot-high, 30 pound replica of the Juneau which the county has commissioned from U.S. Merchant Marine Capt. Brad Poulos of SD Model Makers in California, and copies of the Meeker letters.

Juneau City Assemblyman Randy Wanamaker is expected to fly in from Alaska as special guest. A Navy color guard and flag officer are also anticipated.

Photo courtesy JoAnn Northgrave USS Juneau enroute to a mission.

Photo courtesy JoAnn Northgrave
USS Juneau enroute to a mission.

 

Hudson County Freeholder Chairman Anthony L. Romano, chairman of the veterans affairs committee, said: “It’s an honor to be involved with this event, especially as the son of a World War II Navy veteran. The sacrifice of those who served aboard the Juneau is first and foremost why we’re doing this. It’s imperative that veterans of all the different wars be remembered for their sacrifices.”

USS Juneau was built at the then-Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. in South Kearny, and Building 77 – now close to the Hudson County Jail – was then part of the old shipyard.

Hudson County officials had intended to do the dedication last year but Hurricane Sandy flooded the building, prompting the county to spend several million dollars to repair it.

Plans call for using the building for the storage of vehicles and as an emergency planning center by the Office of Emergency Planning and for the storage of records in climate-controlled vaults by the county Prosecutor’s Office.

Photo courtesy Raymond Testa A newspaper report of Purple Heart awarded to Seaman William Meeker.

Photo courtesy Raymond Testa
A newspaper report of Purple Heart awarded to Seaman William Meeker.

 

Copies of the 17 letters that Meeker wrote to his Harrison neighbor between February and November 1942, along with copies of photographs of Meeker and the Juneau, were donated to the Juneau-Douglas City Museum in Alaska by Raymond and Mary Winefride Bloom Testa in honor of Mrs. Testa’s mother who died in 1998.

Those letters were read aloud at a public ceremony hosted by the museum Nov. 10, 2012, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Juneau’s sinking.

In a phone interview, Raymond Testa said that the correspondence between his mother-in-law and Meeker might never come to light if Testa’s wife hadn’t discovered a box of her mother’s that contained the 17 letters that her mother had received from the sailor, plus newspaper clippings about the aftermath of the Juneau’s loss.

In reading the letters, Testa said it was apparent that while the pair had known each other only as slight acquaintances, “you could see, as time went on, a relationship was growing. … I just got chills reading them.”

Sensing that the correspondence had an historic significance, Testa said that he and his wife “wanted to find a permanent home where they could be kept in an archives.”

The Alaska-based museum seemed a good choice to the couple, he said.

JoAnn Northgrave, who, as chief community organization specialist for Hudson County’s Office of Disability Services and Veterans Affairs, is helping arrange the upcoming ceremonies at Building 77, has read copies of the Meeker letters and she, too, was deeply moved by their tone.

“These were letters of desperation,” Northgrave said. “I felt [Meeker] was reaching out [to Blohm] because he needed something. He was hanging on for dear life, waiting for her letters.”

In fact, Northgrave noted, “In his last letter to her, he mentioned that he wasn’t a particularly church-going man, but that he was going to receive the sacraments, so the men on the ship must have had a sense something bad was coming.”

Indeed, the day before the fatal attack, according to the Saturday Evening Post account by Robert L. Schwartz, the Juneau was among a group of eight destroyers and five cruisers protecting transports unloading word came of an advancing Japanese fleet, causing the American ships to steam away.

Hours later, in early morning, moonless darkness, the Americans were disoriented by the sudden appearance of the Japanese force of two battleships, a light cruiser and 15 destroyers, which trained scattered American ships, causing them to fire blindly, at times into their own ships. Within 34 minutes, the Japanese had inflicted heavy damage on 12 of the 13 U.S. ships, including the Juneau: a torpedo hit her bridge and the No. 1 fire room, injuring some sailors, knocking out power to her guns, and leaving the ship 11 feet down by the bow with a two degree list and damaged steering gear. After repairs to the engines, the Juneau crept away, making 10 knots, with five other ships, including the badly wrecked cruiser San Francisco where the admiral, among others, had been killed.

But this proved to be only a brief respite. Shortly after 11 a.m., a torpedo aimed at the San Francisco passed under the ship and hit the side of the Juneau, causing a massive explosion and instantly sinking the ship. Initially, it is believed about 150 survived. All but 10 succumbed to the elements, hunger and sharks. Among the dead were the five Sullivan brothers. Three of the 10 reached San Cristobal, an island some 20 miles away, in a rubber raft; five were picked up by a PBY plane; two were found by destroyers.

Photo courtesyCourtesy of collection of Juneau-Douglas City Museum, Juneau, Alaska Envelope, dated July 6, 1942, containing one of the 17 letters William Meeker sent while aboard USS Juneau.

Photo courtesyCourtesy of collection of Juneau-Douglas City Museum, Juneau, Alaska
Envelope, dated July 6, 1942, containing one of the 17 letters William Meeker sent while aboard USS Juneau.

 

Northgrave expects, from across the U.S., more than 100 relatives of the Hudson County men who served on the Juneau to attend and she credits retired Kearny Police Officer Norman Rutan, a genealogy researcher, with helping locate many. For the past six years, Rutan has worked with the Navy’s “On Eternal Patrol” program, trying to find relatives of American sailors who served on lost submarines.

A few years ago, Rutan recalled, Kearny Councilwoman Carol Jean Doyle enlisted his help in locating relatives of five Kearny men who perished on the Juneau. He said he succeeded with three of the five. Then, last year, Northgrave asked him to expand his search to include the entire county.

So far, Northgrave and Rutan have come up with a list of 20 names of Hudson County men who served on the ship.

They are: Seaman 2nd Class Thomas Kane, Seaman 1st Class George Willoughby, Seaman 2nd Class Wilbur Wood, Seaman 2nd Class Adrian Cahill, Earl Hall and Raymond Phillips, all of Kearny; Seaman 1st Class James Seramba, Seaman 2nd Class William Meeker and Seaman 2nd Class Thomas Beers, all of Harrison; Seaman 2nd Class George Muldoon, Seaman 1st Class Benjamin Lipowski, Seaman 2nd Class John Walter Hermanns, Roy Taylor, Kenneth Russell Satterfield and Walter Zubos, all of Jersey City; Seaman 2nd Class James Henry Mooney, Seaman 2nd Class Stanley Selobyt and Stanley Sepanek, all of Bayonne; Seaman 1st Class William Simpson Davidson Jr. of North Bergen; and Fireman 3rd Class Timothy Dwight Hardwick of Union City.

Drilling to check toxin flow

 

Photo by Ron Leir Aside from drilling on public streets, Roche is installing test wells on its property to check for toxins.

Photo by Ron Leir
Aside from drilling on public streets, Roche is installing test wells on its property to check for toxins.

 

By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent

NUTLEY –

Representatives of the Roche Co. offered apologies to the Nutley community last week for not being as forthcoming as they might have been in drilling test wells outside their property in residential areas.

The work is part of an environmental checkup being undertaken – onsite and off – by the company to gauge the extent of groundwater contamination that may be flowing from the sprawling Roche site.

Roche, which is in the process of shedding its longtime Essex County operations, wants to complete a cleanup before disposing of the 119-acre property off Rt. 3 which overlaps Nutley and neighboring Clifton by 2015. Roche Diagnostics is looking to leave its 18.7-acre Belleville location.

For an hour prior to last Tuesday night’s meeting, members of the township governing body quizzed Roche’s Vice President Tom Lyon, Director of Health & Safety Chandra Patel and Senior Counsel Tom Ruby, along with John Trela, senior vice president of TRC Companies, a national environmental/energy/ infrastructure consulting firm retained by Roche, about the company’s recent actions.

Mayor Alphonse Petracco, the township’s public safety director, said the commissioners wanted to relay residents’ concerns “about the drilling” and hear what Roche had to say about that.

Lyon said he wanted to “apologize for those concerns” and assured the commissioners that Roche has “identified some lessons learned” in the process while being “very focused on doing remediation quickly,” along with its “repurposing” plan, for the Nutley/ Clifton site.

So, in future, said Patel, “we will notify all impacted residents [about drilling] and give adequate notification one week prior by mail.” He said drilling is confined to “public streets – not lawns or driveways.”

Patel acknowledged that part of the company’s recent drilling activity resulted in blocking an Alexander Ave. resident’s driveway. “We will address any of the community’s concerns about our process in a timely manner,” he said.

“I don’t think the problem is so much about the process,” suggested Commissioner Mauro Tucci. “Where the ball was dropped a bit, I think, was in the notification. … Before you notify the residents, I think it might be a good idea to let the commissioners know what you’re doing.”

Being forewarned, Tucci said, the commissioners can help spread the word to their constituents and, in turn, assist Roche in expediting the work.

Elaborating on what the work entails, Lyon said that, to date, the company has found some contamination in “thousands” of samplings of soil on its property but none outside its borders. It has found no toxins in groundwater “down to 50 feet,” but “below 50 feet,” it has found “some.”

Roche representatives didn’t identify what type of pollutant has been detected. Lyon characterized it as a “very common solvent, prevalent in the state, and it’s deep.” Some of it appears to be coming from Roche sources and some from outside, he said.

So now, Lyon said, the company is trying to delineate the direction and flow of the pollutants, not only on its land, but also, whether it’s gone “beyond our property line.” And that’s why the company is doing the well work, checking locations 100 feet from its property, he said.

Said Patel: “The plan is to drill six wells.” Two have been completed on Dunston Place and Cottage Place, two are in process on Edison Ave. and Alexander Ave. and two will be starting this week on Spruce St. and Hillside Ave., he said.

Commissioner Steven Rogers wondered if residents should fear “potential health hazards” from the toxins, either from airborne particles from water and/or soil, or from drinking water. “We have a park (Nichols Park) nearby where children are playing so questions [from residents] are coming,” he said.

Lyon replied that there were “no airborne contaminants” to worry about, nor was there any evidence to indicate any possible harm from existing soil conditions. As for groundwater, Lyon said the company is mid-way through its investigation of sub-surface water, drilling to a depth of 80 feet.

Asked whether nearby residents had anything to fear from water coming into their basements, Trela said that water is probably “neighbors’ lawn runoff.” Any groundwater below 50 feet from the Roche land “goes into the river,” he said.

As part of its overall effort to trace the direction of groundwater from its property, Trela said Roche would “map out a water table” to chart the flow.

Asked by Petracco if those residents who “have their own [water] wells” were in any jeopardy from possible contamination, Lyon said that the levels of toxicity Roche has found so far show no danger.

Roche is due to submit its environmental findings to the state Department of Environmental Protection by May 14, Lyon said. “The goal is to clearly delineate the area of [environmental] concern, then put a fix in place.”

Pondering future of Gunnell Oval

Gunnell_web1 Gunnell_web

Photos by Ron Leir Two Little League fields and a soccer field sit idle after testing revealed pollutants.

Photos by Ron Leir
Two Little League fields and a soccer field sit idle after testing revealed pollutants.

 

 

By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent

KEARNY –

The fate of Gunnell Oval, Kearny’s largest public recreation complex, is hanging in the balance as the town awaits a consultant’s report on the extent of pollutants found on the sprawling site which lies between Schuyler Ave. and the marsh.

Earlier this season, based on preliminary findings by Excel Environmental Resources of North Brunswick showing materials containing hydrocarbons at scattered locations where soil sampling was done, the town put three playing areas off limits.

As a result, the West and North Little League fields and Oval 2, the smaller of two soccer fields at the north end of the complex closest to residential rear yards, were shut down. Signs have been posted warning people to stay off the fields which are enclosed by locked gates.

Still available for play were the Little League E field at the southernmost point of the complex, the Pony League field, the softball field and the main soccer field.

Still, that status could soon change, if Excel – as its representative recently told the town’s governing body – proceeds with more thorough sampling.

But the consensus among town officials is that further testing could simply drag on indefinitely, further draining the town coffers.

“The longer we wait [to get results] doesn’t help anybody,” said Mayor Alberto Santos. “A better approach is to turf everything.” That stategy, he added, would provide a safe cap over any contaminants below.

And, at the same time, Santos said, “We’re waiting to hear from our Recreation Commission on its recommendations so we can give that to our town engineer to get an estimate of how much we’d need to do a makeover of the Oval.

” With a good chunk of empty space between fields, it’s possible that, with a reconfiguration of the existing layout of the Oval, the town could come away with additional playing surfaces, the mayor suggested.

The town has already gotten a head start on the proposed makeover: It has been awarded a state Green Acres matching grant of $396,900 and a Green Acres loan of $168,250 to finance the synthetic turfing of one field and an upgrade of the walking path around the Oval.

To help the town draft an improvement plan for the Oval, Landy said he’s reached out to the various sports organizations that use the Oval – Little League, Recreation Softball and Soccer – to get their input on what should be done with the site.

Recreation Commission members and Assistant Recreation Supervisor Ralph Cattafi are also being brought into the mix, he said.

Early next month, according to Councilman Michael Landy, Recreation Committee chairman, the plan is to huddle with Town Engineer Michael Neglia to get a look at some preliminary designs for a re-do of the Oval “and then we’ll see what we can do with the money we can manage to get.”

Little League President Michael Witt said that aside from the environmental considerations, the existing fields are in need of work. “We have to repair them and now’s the time to do it,” he said. “You go to other towns to play and you see their fields nice and manicured. It’s embarrassing when they come here and see our fields.”

“This year we had only one of three fields available at the Oval so we played the rest of our games on Belgrove Drive [Veterans Stadium],” Witt said. “If we lose the entire Oval next season, we’ll have to cram all 12 teams – close to 400 kids – at one field at Belgrove. With a 15-game schedule, we’ll have to play two games every night, five days a week and Saturday and Sunday. We’ll just bear with it. The [future] rewards are going to be greater than the time you’re going to lose.”

If the Oval does get reshaped, Witt said he’d like to see the existing concession stand moved to the middle of the complex with the fields positioned around it, to provide easier access from all fields.

Turfing sounds like the best solution to field surfacing, Witt said. “When it rains now, we can’t play 6 o’clock games because the fields get all muddy. Turf makes it easier to maintain and it looks nicer. When the fields are nice, you feel nice. We could host tournaments here. They should level the whole Oval and start all over. Then it’ll get done right. Right now, it’s an eyesore.”

Landy said this is an opportune time to “take a negative [environmental hazard] and turn the Oval into a state-of-the- art facility that can be the envy of Hudson County.”

Renovations coming at Washington School

Photos by Ron Leir Long-empty locker room space will be converted to weight room and child study offices.

Photos by Ron Leir
Long-empty locker room space will be converted to weight room and child study offices.

 

By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent

HARRISON –

The shine has worn on the yellow tiled wall; all that remains of the benches are the anchor supports; and the doors to the empty metal cabinets swing open.

For more than four decades, thousands of students showered and changed in the locker rooms at the then- Harrison High School at S. Fifth St. and Harrison Ave.

But, in the fall of 2007, those facilities have sat idle since the Harrison Board of Education opened a new high school on the old Clayton Container site bordering West Hudson Park and the old high school was converted to Washington Middle School for grades 6 to 8.

Now, under an initiative by Superintendent of Schools James Doran, the board is taking steps to revitalize the “functionally obsolete” space with a new purpose.

On Aug. 1, on the recommendation of its consulting engineers Remington, Vernick & Arango of Bordentown, the board voted to award K&D Contractors of Kenilworth the job of renovating the locker room space for $1,098,000.

Documents on file with the board show that K&D was the lowest of four bidders. The other firms that submitted bids were Preziosi Construction Corp. of Short Hills, $1,140,000; Two Brothers Contracting of Clifton, $1,232,235; and Salazar Associates of Union, $1,352,000.

Doran said part of the renovation plan will involve disposing of the smaller set of bleachers stored in the wall of the gym adjoining the old girls’ locker rooms and taking out part of that wall, installing big plate glass windows and doors that will lead to a new weight training room.

Then, Doran said, on the other side of the gym, in the wing where the old boys’ locker rooms are located, that space will be converted to accommodate the school child study team members, whose old office was “bumped” by the recent construction of the new school cafeteria.

The contractor is being instructed to salvage as much of the yellow tiles as possible so they can be incorporated as part of the entranceway to the gym, school officials said.

Doran said the target date for completion of the project is “by the end of the Christmas vacation period.”

Along with the new dining area, the district recently updated the 46-year-old school’s student bathroom facilities.

At Hamilton Intermediate School for grades 4 and 5, the district recently upgraded the building’s lower gym space for instructional purposes and converted the former child study team space into classrooms.

In another capital improvement move, the district is preparing to replace the roof of its Sixth St. garage which houses its four school buses. The roof has been leaking for some time and “we keep patching it,” one official said. Now the time has come for a more permanent fix to prevent damage to the vehicles.

On Aug. 6, the board accepted bids from five companies ranging up to $171,800 and the lowest apparent bidder was Build Rite LLC of Wayne with a price of $71,200. A contract award is imminent.

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