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Around Town

Belleville The Newark St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee will hold a Halfway-to-St. Patrick’s Day fundraiser Wednesday, Sept. 17, 6 to 9 p.m., at the Belleville Knights of Columbus on Bridge St. The event will honor the past grand marshals and deputy grand marshals. Admission is $35 for adults ($15 for […]

Rosko named Agent of the Month

LYNDHURST – George Rosko, who has spent seven years with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Coccia Realty, is the company’s Real Estate Agent of the Month for July in the Lyndhurst office, owner and President John (Jan) R. Kwapniewski announced. Rosko, the agency’s top rental specialist, has closed 51 agreements […]

Lt. Joseph E. Frobisher Jr. (inset) was a pilot with the U.S. 148th Aero Squadron. Those are the 148th’s Sopwith Camels, photographed in France in August 1918, a month before his death.

Remembering a local hero

  Lt. Joseph E. Frobisher Jr. (inset) was a pilot with the U.S. 148th Aero Squadron. Those are the 148th’s Sopwith Camels, photographed in France in August 1918, a month before his death. By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent  KEARNY–  The following […]


Ferraro facing firing

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  The Kearny Board of Education is seeking to fire Frank Ferraro, the superintendent it placed on an involuntary paid leave in January, by bringing tenure charges against him. At a special meeting held Aug. 12, the BOE voted in closed […]

Ebola scare at postal center

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  The U.S. Postal Service, in concert with the FBI, is undertaking a criminal investigation into an Ebola scare at its Logistics & Distribution Center, 1200 Harrison Ave., Kearny, which handles priority mail. Postal inspectors and FBI agents responded to the […]


Final resting place of U.S. heroes


Photos by Karen Zautyk Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts at Roll of Honor monument, who didn’t even fl inch as cannon’s roar later shook the air.

Photos by Karen Zautyk
Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts at Roll of Honor monument, who didn’t even flinch as cannon’s roar later shook the air.


By Karen Zautyk

Observer Correspondent


I’ve passed the site a thousand times, but I never went inside. I knew it had a place in local history, but not exactly why or of what import. Basically, what I knew is that it was old. And like many old things, it can be in danger of being ignored. Or worse, forgotten.

Now, however, thanks to the Belleville Historical Society, I have begun to educate myself on this local treasure. And last week, also thanks to the society, I spent one of the most meaningful Fourths of July ever.

Part of that was because of the ceremony renaming the Rutgers St./Belleville Pike Bridge in honor of Marine Cpl. Osbrany Montes De Oca. (See story P. 1)

But the day began with a tribute to other American veterans, those who won our nation its freedom in the first place.

As it does every July 4th, the Belleville Historical Society held its Independence Day Ceremony in the cemetery of the Dutch Reformed Church at Rutgers and Main Sts. In that graveyard are buried 66 soldiers who fought in the American Revolution.

There is a well-kept monument inscribed with their names, but time has taken its toll on the graveyard at large. The uneven earth makes walking treacherous; the stone-edged steps and iron fencing are wobbly. Some headstones are broken, and many are illegible, names and dates and sentiments worn away by the storms of more than two centuries.

But this is still the final resting place of heroes and the families who loved them. This is still sacred ground.

Photo by Karen Zautyk Pint-sized patriot Samuel Lacroix, 2, of Belleville, with his dad, Mark

Photo by Karen Zautyk
Pint-sized patriot Samuel Lacroix, 2, of Belleville, with his dad, Mark


Last Thursday, about 100 people gathered in the cemetery at 10 a.m. to honor the dead and to celebrate the nation to which their courage helped give birth.

It was your typical small town ceremony, which is what made it so precious. Those attending, from children to senior citizens, were there for a singular purpose: Remembrance.

Members of Boy Scout Troop and Cub Scout Pack 350 formed an honor guard at the memorial and helped raise the Stars & Stripes – and then lower it to half-staff.

Wreaths were placed and the Pledge of Allegiance recited, as was the introduction to the Declaration of Independence. Aisha Polite-Hill, Belleville High School Class of 2013, sang “The Star -Spangled Banner” to the hushed listeners.

The Rev. Ivan Sciberras, pastor of St. Peter’s Church in Belleville, offered the invocation, which included a prayer that “with every trial withstood and every danger overcome — for the sake of our children, our grandchildren and all who come after us — this great land will always be one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

And, to a (softly played) fife-and-drum rendition of “Yankee Doodle,” Belleville Deputy Mayor Michael Nicosia and Board of Education President John Rivera read the Roll Call of the Troops: the 66 names of the Revolutionary War veterans. (See Roll of Honor, p. 22.)

Then it was time for the 21-gun cannon salute — which was this year limited to only 11 firings because, we were told, “all the shops were out of ammo.” At least cannon ammo. Which may have been a good thing, since I couldn’t help wondering what nearby residents thought might be occurring in their town as “boom” after “boom” filled the morning air.

The event ended with “Taps,” played by Dan Jacoby, Nutley’s assistant director of Veteran Affairs.

“This really is a Belleville- Nutley event,” explained Nutley Commissioner Steve Rogers, who was also in attendance.

And then it was time to leave — on what would be the beginning of a journey of learning.



By next July 4, I hope to know more about the church itself, which is no longer Dutch Reformed but Pentacostal (La Senda Antigua) and which suffered severe damage in Hurricane Sandy.

I also want to know more about the Battle of Second River, described in the Historical Society’s program as “the only battle fought in Essex County during the American Revolution.”

Back in 1777, what is now the intersection of Rutgers and Main Sts. was part of the village of Second River. And on Sept. 12 of that year, a British force opened fire on it with two cannon in the hills of what would become North Arlington.

The Second Essex Regiment of the Continental Army set up a line of defense right along the riverbank in front of the church, a 1725 building that had replaced the 1697 original. (It was rebuilt again in 1807 and 1853.)

Alas, the British sent in a larger force the next day.

While there is a sign on Main St. noting that it was the Continental Army’s retreat route, I do not know if anything marks the actual site of the riverbank standoff. The fact that the riverbank is no longer fully visible from the church — the view blocked since the 1950s by Rt. 21 — is sad, but that’s “progress.”

If there is no historic marker, there should be.

Accused of ‘unwanted advances’

Photos courtesy of KPD Juan Garcia

Photos courtesy of KPD
Juan Garcia



A 55-year-old Belleville man was arrested last week by Kearny police after allegedly making unwanted advances, on at least two occasions, to a 13-year-old Kearny girl, authorities reported.

The suspect, Juan Garcia, was being held in the Hudson County Jail on $75,000 bail on charges of luring by attempting to entice a child, authorities said.

According to police, Officer Pat Becker and Sgt. Pete Gleason responded to the 800 block of Kearny Ave. at 2:30 p.m. July 2 to interview the girl and her guardian relative to the girl’s “having been approached in the area” at least twice “in the recent past by a man who made unwanted advances and had provided her [with] his phone number and attempted to arrange a meeting.”

Armed with a description of the suspect, who was believed to be still in the area, Becker and Gleason located and detained Garcia, who was also found to be wanted on an outstanding theft warrant from Clifton, police said.

He was taken into custody and transported to Kearny police headquarters for processing and for follow-up investigation regarding the original complaint.

While Garcia was at HQ , a positive identification was made by the victim, and evidence gathered by officers at the latest location where he had allegedly approached the girl further linked him to the incident, police said.

Before he was transported to the county jail, a DNA sample was taken from the suspect.. The Hudson County Prosecutor’s Special Victims Unit was notified of the incident, the KPD noted.

–Karen Zautyk

From pet supplies to loft apartments

Photos courtesy BRG Harrison Lofts Urban Renewal Renderings of the loft apartment complex proposed for the Vo-Toys property in Harrison.

Photos courtesy BRG Harrison Lofts Urban Renewal
Renderings of the loft apartment complex proposed for the Vo-Toys property in Harrison.


By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent


For six decades, the Voy- Toys company has made and distributed wholesale pet shop supplies from its Harrison headquarters.

But now it looks like the three mammoth structures in the 400 block of S. Fifth St. that has catered to the production of leashes, collars, catnips, rubber dog toys, rawhide dog chews and the like will give way to lodgings for human occupants.

On June 18, the Harrison Planning Board, meeting in special session, voted to grant approvals to Berkenkamp Realty Group Harrison Lofts Urban Renewal, of Millburn, to convert the factory/warehouse complex into multi-family residential rental apartments and a parking garage.

This project would be the latest in a series of private redevelopment ventures springing up in this West Hudson community, mostly off the Passaic River waterfront, although this newest proposal is situated in what the town has designated as the “RCA Redevelopment Area.”

The target site was originally occupied by Edison Lamp Works, then redeveloped by General Election and occupied for many years in the early 20th century by the Radio Corporation of America for the production of radio vacuum tubes, before Vo-Toys came along.

Details on possible environmental remediation measures weren’t readily available.

How soon the conversion will happen isn’t yet clear since the buildings are still being used by Vo-Toys which is reportedly continuing to search for new quarters.

A year ago, the Planning Board recommended designation of the 2.5-acre site – bounded by Sussex St. to the north, Bergen St. to the south, Sixth St. to the east and Fifth St. to the west – as an “area in need of redevelopment” and the town’s governing body concurred, adopting a conceptual redevelopment plan in September 2012 calling for the creation of loft-style apartments within the existing three-story shells of each building plus two additional floors to be built above two buildings and one extra floor above the third.

As required by the Harrison Redevelopment Agency, all new floors being added to the warehouse footprint “must be set back a minimum of six feet from the existing building façade.” The HRA gave the project its blessing on April 30.

The residential complex would house 294 apartments: 48 studios, 218 one-bedrooms, and 28 two-bedroom units would be spread among the three buildings. Sections of each building would be demolished to make room for a landscaped interior courtyard and common areas including a fitness center and lounge for tenants.

The developer would provide on-site parking for 333 spaces, of which 263 would be contained in a five-level garage to be built in a lot south of Bergen St. and west of Fifth St., with the remaining 70 spaces to be contained as part of one of the three buildings.

New public sidewalks and curbs, supplementary street lighting, street trees and planters are also part of the overall design.

No retail space is planned.

Total cost of the building and site improvements and material costs for masonry, metal studs and fiber cement paneling, is projected at $50 million.

Vo-Toys President Arthur Hirschberg (VIP Realty Associates) has filed no objections to the project, according to documents on file with the town Construction Office.

Thomas A. Berkenkamp, founder and president of Berkenkamp Realty Group, has a master’s degree in architecture from Harvard University, supplemented by studies in general business and real estate finance at Harvard Business School and Law School and MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He is an adjunct professor at NYU’s Schack School of Real Estate.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association of New York website, BRG “is actively involved in the development of multi-family residential properties and the acquisition and restructuring of distressed debt. He has been continually involved in real estate since 1981 [dealing with] apartments, condominiums, office, retail, parking garages, mixed-use and hotels.”

Berkenkamp previously served as COO of Pinnacle Companies, a Montclair firm that invested in “more than 20 projects comprising more than 2,000 residential units and 100,000 square feet of commercial space with an aggregate value of more than $1.5 billion.”

Preserving a church, one window at a timePreserving a church, one window at a time

Photos by Ron Leir As the Rev. Joseph Girone, pastor of Holy Cross Church, and Maria Silva watch, workers proceed with window restoration at the church.

Photos by Ron Leir
As the Rev. Joseph Girone, pastor of Holy Cross Church, and Maria Silva watch, workers proceed with window restoration at the church.


By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent


Holy Cross Church, which dates from the turn of the 19th century, is getting another muchneeded facelift that should help preserve the integrity of the Catholic worship facility. Several years ago, the first priority was fixing a leaky roof and the parish borrowed money from the Archdiocese of Newark to accomplish that, said the Rev. Joseph Girone, church pastor.

With the church interior thereby protected from weather infiltration, in spring 2010, members of the Our Lady of Fatima Society of Holy Cross Church, founded in 1996 and headed by Antonio Silva, undertook the next major step by raising $138,500 to repaint the walls of the sanctuary.

“It was painted by John Tiedemann, Inc., from North Arlington,” recalled Antonio’s spouse Maria Silva, president of the Society’s Ladies Auxiliary. “All this money was raised from parties, buses to Atlantic City and donations throughout two years.”

Portuguese immigrants, the Silvas came to the U.S. more than three decades ago (Antonio was born in Estarreja; Maria in Oliveira de Azemeis), settling in Harrison, like many of their countrymen and women. The couple run a construction/ demolition company in Harrison.

Many of the Society’s members attend Portuguese Masses celebrated Sundays at Holy Cross Church.

Now the Society is focused on the next phase of the church’s restoration.

Maria explained: “Three years ago, we started two fundraisers – one for the ‘windows and gutters’ and another for the ‘pews and flooring’. At a meeting on April 21, we decided to combine both fundraisers in order to paint and restore the windows.”

So far, she said, “we’ve collected $83,381.90. That total includes $26,541.90 from the ‘pews and flooring’ funding as well as the generous donation of $12,000 from the Knights of Columbus in Harrison.”

“With this amount,” she said, “we are able to pay for the [window work on the] east, west and south sides of the church. For the front, Father Joe agreed to pay with the money from the school rent.” (The parish is leasing its old grammar school on Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. to Lady Liberty Academy, a Newark charter school.)

“The estimate for all the windows of the church, if no problems come up, [is] $104,250,” Maria said. Milan Church Restoration of Woodbridge is performing the window rehabilitation job. Elaborating on the process, Girone said Milan workers are replacing old exterior glass covering the stained glass windows with new more protective glass containing tiny ventilation holes and, at the same time, they’re repairing the aging wood frames holding the windows in place.

There are 18 stained glass windows on the church’s east side and 19 on the west side, three large ones in the back, and many on the front, Silva said.

“It’s the kind of job we couldn’t do ourselves without that kind of expert resource,” Girone said. “As far as it being a priority, it’s off our radar system.”

That’s because, in recent years, the pastor said, the parish was occupied with life safety infrastructure issues, such as fixing the roofs of the church, the rectory and the building formerly occupied by the Carmelite order, repairing the school building’s roof and repointing its brick exterior, and installing a fire suppression system in the church basement.

The pastor estimated that around $800,000 has been invested in those improvements.

Girone said the parish has been in the processing of repaying an emergency loan from the Archdiocese to finance much of those repairs. Proceeds from the sale of the Carmelites property – gifted to the parish – were used, along with a portion of the rental of the school building, to help pay back the Archdiocese, he said.

Meanwhile, the windows and gutters project is expected to be completed in a few weeks, according to Antonio Silva.

Sometime after that, Girone said, yet another fundraising drive will be undertaken for the replacement of the sanctuary pews and flooring, which, he said, are believed to date from the late 1880s when the church was built.

To that end, the church will be sponsoring “A Night Under The Stars,” a gala dinner dance on Sept. 21, beginning with a cocktails at 6:30 p.m., followed by a catered dinner at 7:30 p.m., and concluding with a tricky tray at 9:15 p.m. The celebration starts outside Church Square by the St. Anthony’s entrance.

Tickets are $35 for adults; $20 for children ages 7 to 12; and free for kids under age 6. Attendance is limited to 200. Parking is available at Jersey St. and Frank E. Rodgers Blvd.

For tickets, contact Susana Vilela, c/o 16 Church Square, Harrison, N.J. 07029 or e-mail HCSecretary@Comcast.com or call the church at 973-484- 5678. Reservation deadline is Sept. 15.

Thoughts & Views: In case you hadn’t heard…

If raconteur Will Rogers were still among us today, he’d have a storehouse of anecdotes about the world’s strange predicaments to share with his audience.

I couldn’t shine Will’s shoes, much less those of his horse, but please allow me to share some musings on these events on the world stage:

Egypt, said to be the cradle of civilization, continues to rock our world with the latest pronouncements of the nation’s military. President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood cannot be trusted to run the country, the generals have pronounced, with the tacit assent of America’s envoys.

Perhaps Morsi will now be whisked off to some wait station at some Middle East airport and somewhere cross flight paths with the American fugitive leaker Edward Snowden. If so, Snowden can probably shed some light on why Obama & Co. lost patience with the man in Cairo.

Turns out this Arab Spring phenomenon has more twists and turns than the Secrets of the Sphinx.

So the military has taken control in Egypt, which as the press pundits point out, sounds like a coup – in which case, the country forfeits the $1 billion-plus aid we use to prop up our Near East ally, mostly for weaponry, by the way. Which we’ve already given them this year. Oops.

Maybe we’ll take it away next year and hand it over to Israel. They can use the dough to build more border settlements, just in case the Palestinians want to explore the notion of statehood again.

The cause of social media is advancing in the Far East. Japanese politicians are learning about Facebook and Twitter and transparency. Seems their media-savvy consultants are cautioning them not to overtax their constituents with a lot of heavy talk about the meat-and-potato issues … just tell the voters what you had for lunch, for example, so they know you’re a real person. At least that’s what The New York Times has reported.

In the U.S., we’ve got some fun stuff happening in Wyoming, where the cattle outnumber the people, and where Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is itching to run for U.S. Senate as the Republican nominee and dad is stumping with her, the Times notes. Only problem is her opponent would be the incumbent Republican Sen. Michael Enzi, a longtime fly-fishing pal of Dick. Enzi isn’t backing down. Put down those shotguns, fellas.

Then there’s Frank Serpico, the ex-New York cop who, you’ll recall, blew the whistle on what he claimed was widespread police corruption in the late ‘60s, retiring on a disability pension after being shot during a drug bust. Serpico, now 77 and living in a rural upstate N.Y. town, is upset again, the Times reports, this time with his neighbor in a property dispute. The neighbor, aiming to sell his land to a developer, has bulldozed the grounds and, in the process, according to Serpico, has uprooted trees on his land which the ex-cop says he’s maintained in its natural wild state. Maybe there’ll be a new movie in the making.

– Ron Leir


Another religious viewpoint

To the Editor:

While certainly respecting the writer, Swami Mukundananda, personally, I wish to set forth the true God of the Bible – far different than set forth in the article.

Yes, indeed, there is certainly One Creator.

However, the God of the Bible has not at all set forth in His Bible that there would be a merging into Him at the time of what the writer calls the “time of annihilation.“ Just the opposite!

The God of the Bible (“all Scripture is God-breathed”) has revealed that each of us is born a sinner, sinners by nature, falling short of His glory, which is why we die. (“We’ve all gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” … “There is none righteous, no not one. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.”)

God sets forth in His Bible that we have all broken His law, and that if we break one we have broken them all. Not good news.

However, there is good news for those who have, and for those who will, put their trust in the finished work of a glorious Person, Jesus Christ, God come in the flesh (“And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and the Word was God”) Who paid our debt by His shed blood (“there is no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood”), His crucifixion (“It is finished”), and (“justification i.e. “rendered innocent”) by His resurrection. There is a glorious eternity for those of us who have, and those who will, receive the Savior and the gift of salvation. (The promise is “a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”)

We know that Michael Phelps broke world records with his Olympic swimming, but he can’t swim to Europe. In the same way, we cannot in ourselves, in the condition in which we are all born, hope to satisfy the sin debt we owe to a perfectly holy God by anything we can do, whether good we do, religion, etc. But the Bible is 100% clear – “it is appointed unto men to die once and then to face judgment.” And what follows that judgment is anything but annihilation.

With outstretched arms and unfathomable love, He makes the one-time offer of the free gift of salvation, that of receiving Him and putting trust in Him and His finished work when He did what none of us can do for ourselves. His invitation is for all from every background. Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever comes to Me, even though He dies, He will live.”

Also, the writer of the article mentioned wars – having a label of “Christian” in any period of time in no way means that a person(s) has repented of his/her sin and received Jesus as Savior, having a personal relationship with Him.

It should be noted that untold numbers of people have walked among the very lands and events described in the Bible. Also, over 300 prophecies have been accurately fulfilled by the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ; and now again the world scene for future events is accurately unfolding according to the continued prophecies in the Bible.

Virginia Desmond

North Arlington

A kind gesture

The Lyndhurst Girls’ Association is a small group of women who maintain “The Libbie Lindsay Little House” as a meeting place for Lyndhurst Girl Scouts and their leaders. Recently, we had an unexpected emergency when the commode was not working properly and needed to be replaced. With scout meetings and several other events scheduled, we needed to get this done as quickly as possible. I placed a call to Carl Carbone Plumbing who came first thing in the morning, and replaced the toilet. I asked for the bill, only to be told there would be no bill. Carl donated the fixture, materials and labor to the “Little House.” On behalf of the ladies and the Girl Scouts of Lyndhurst, I would like to thank Carl Carbone for his very kind and generous donation. He is a wonderful asset to the community and we wanted to publicly acknowledge him.

Kathy Isoldi

Lyndhurst Girls’Association

KPD: Going on holiday? Cops can keep eye on your home


The Kearny Police Department is asking residents to be aware that, with the arrival of summer, there is generally an increase in burglaries “given that more people are away on vacation, more windows are left open, and the noise of air conditioners masks the noise made by those committing crimes.” In addition, when newspapers and mail pile up, it’s indicative of an unoccupied home.

The KPD “has always and is continuing to offer a Vacant House Check while a resident is away,” the department notes.

Residents can easily register for this service and talk to an officer about crime prevention tips by contacting the Community Police Unit at 201-998- 1313 , ext. 2825.

Meanwhile, the KPD remains busily occupied. Recent reports from the police blotter included, but were not limited to, the following:

June 27

At 4:40 p.m., Vice Unit detectives reportedly observed a known drug offender engage in a hand-to-hand transaction with another individual in an out-of-town location. They subsequently followed the offender into Kearny to Schuyler and Bergen Aves., where they stopped his vehicle and advised him of their earlier observation.

They also reportedly observed him attempt to hide something in the vehicle’s door pocket. Police said this turned out to be six bags of suspected heroin.

Placed under arrest was 23-year-old Kearny resident Janusz Chytla, charged with possession of a CDS, possession of paraphernalia and operating a motor vehicle while in possession of a CDS.

June 30

At 10 p.m., Officer Tom Pontrella took a burglary report from a resident in the 200 block of Maple St., who said a Samsung computer and an iPad were missing from her apartment.

Det. Scott Traynor was assigned to do the follow-up and canvass the area, and he developed as a suspect 32-year-old Kearny resident Vanessa Pagan, who was already wanted on an outstanding warrant from Newark, police said.

Traynor arrested Pagan at her home on the warrant, and while so doing reportedly recovered the items stolen in the Maple St. incident.

She was charged with burglary and theft of moveable property and held for transportation to the county jail.

July 2

At 8 a.m., Det. Mike Gonzalez was utilizing the N.J. State Police Corr-Stat system, which provides information regarding wanted persons from the area, when he recognized a fugitive he had seen frequenting Kearny in the recent past.

At 3:30 that afternoon, Gonzalez located the suspect, Fabio Laguer, 20, of Newark, on Passaic Ave. There, Gonzalez and Officer Brian Wisely took him into custody on the Newark fugitive warrant and after processing at HQ , turned him over to the Newark PD. 

July 5

At 4 p.m., Officer Jason Ward took a report from a Madison Ave. resident that her home had been burglarized and that a laptop computer was missing. Det. Scott Traynor is conducting the investigation.

July 7

Just prior to 1 a.m., police units responded to a report of a fight in the area of Stewart Ave. and Forest St. and upon arrival reportedly found a shirtless and apparently heavily intoxicated 17-year -old male screaming and acting aggressively in the middle of the street.

When Officer Tom Sumowski alighted from his patrol car, the teenager began shouting obscenities at him, demanded to be arrested and began punching the car, police said.

After being told he was indeed under arrest, and as Sumowski began to take him into custody, the youth started “swinging wildly” until he was eventually handcuffed and placed in the rear of the patrol unit, whereupon he began to bang his head against the interior of the car, police said. Transported to HQ, he was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and underage consumption of alcohol, and an ambulance was summoned to offer medical attention.The teen’s mother was contacted and he was released to her custody with his charges referred to the Juvenile Unit.

– Karen Zautyk

Around Town


The Belleville Irish American Association is sponsoring a trip to Wildwood/Smithville/ Ocean City/Atlantic City/ Cape May from Sept. 8 to 12. The $465 per person cost includes hotel, transportation, four breakfasts, four lunches and four dinners. The trip is open to everyone. For itinerary or information, call Pat at 973-751-5308.


The Essex County Free SummerMusic Concert Series will present Louis Prima Jr. and The Witnesses on Friday, July 12, at 7:30 p.m. at Essex County Brookdale Park, Watchung Ave. The Witnesses are a tribute band to Louis Prima Jr.’s father, a songwriter and trumpet player who led a New Orleans-style Jazz band in the 1920s.

A birding hike, presented by New Jersey Audubon, will be held in Essex County Branch Brook Park, Mill St., on Saturday, July 20, at 8:30 a.m. See a variety of birdlife, from forest birds to ducks and herons. Meet at the Essex County Cherry Blossom Welcome Center on Branch Brook Drive between Heller Parkway and Mill St. NJA members pay $6; it’s $8 for non-members. Space is limited. Contact Kelly Wenzel at 973-226-6082 or kelly.wenzel@njaudubon.org for more information and to register.

Another birding hike is planned for Thursday, July 25, at 8:30 a.m. in Essex County Brookdale Park, Bellevue Ave. Tour the rose garden and search for late summer birds and perhaps hummingbirds. Meet in the parking lot at the top of the soccer/football grandstands via the entrance Bellevue Ave. This is a free hike. Space is limited. Contact Kelly Wenzel at 973-226-6082 or kelly.wenzel@njaudubon. org for more information.

Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center, 240 Belleville Ave., will run a bus trip to Caesar’s Casino in Atlantic City on Wednesday, Aug. 28. leaving Oakeside at 9 a.m. and returning at 5 p.m. Participants will enjoy a bagel and juice on the bus and receive $25 in slot play at the casino. The cost is $30 per person.

Oakeside will sponsor a trip to Broadway to see the musical “Kinky Boots” on Thursday, Oct. 10. After a buffet dinner at the Oakeside Mansion at 4:30 p.m., participants will board a bus to the theatre. The $156 per person cost includes dinner, round-trip bus transportation, mezzanine seats, taxes and tips.

Oakeside will also sponsor a bus trip to Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, a 35-acre sculpture garden with over 270 sculptures on Sunday, Oct. 13. Participants can take a self-guided tour or join a docentled tour at 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. Lunch is available at several venues on site, or participants can pack a picnic lunch. After the sculpture garden, the bus will stop at a nearby Cracker Barrel restaurant and gift shop and will leave at about 6:30 p.m. The cost is $55 per person, which includes the bus and admission to Grounds for Sculpture, but does not include meals.

Reservations are required for all events and must be paid within five days of booking to ensure a place. There are no refunds on paid reservations. Call the Oakeside office at 973-429-0960.

Learn about the Cold War Era, Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movements and the Counterculture of the 1960’s through American music at the new American History Through Music 1946-1975 course at the Bloomfield Public Library, 90 Broad St. The course, which began July 8, is held Mondays at 4 p.m. and will be taught by community volunteer Miguel Ramos, a certified teacher of social studies and American History.

To register, call 973-566- 6200 or stop by the library.

“Defending Jacob,” a suspense novel by William Landay, will be discussed at the next meeting of the Bloomfield Public Library’s book club on Monday, Aug. 5, from 6:45 to 7:45 p.m.

When the body of a 14-yearold boy is found in the woods outside of Newton, Mass., local Assistant District Attorney Andy Berber decides to prosecute the case as murder. He must step down, however, when his own teenaged son, Jacob, becomes a suspect. The book explores the issues of nature versus nurture and the limits of parental responsibility.

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


The Harrison Public School District will participate in the 2013 Summer Food Service Program through Aug. 8 (Monday to Thursday only from 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.).

The Summer Food Service program, sponsored by the USDA’s Food And Nutrition Services, provides all children up to age 18 with the same free meal.


The Smile and Implant Center, 837 Kearny Ave., is offering a One-Day Summer Special on Zoom Advanced (a One-Hour Professional Tooth Whitening System) on Wednesday, July 17, for $199 plus tax. Call 201-991-1055 and ask for Cesar for an appointment or for more information.

Vacation Bible School at Calvary United Methodist Church, 342 Elm St., will be held July 14-19 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The program is free and for all ages and will include songs, crafts, games, snacks and prizes.

The Presbyterian Boys- Girls Club, 663 Kearny Ave., will be open during July and August on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m. Most members and guests are between ages 8 and 15.

The summer program offers basketball, dodgeball, wiffleball, kick ball, gymnastics, bowling, bumper pool, air hockey, foozball, arts and crafts, ping pong and electronic games.

Summer trips are scheduled to Mountain Creek Water Park (July 17), Seaside Heights rides and water park (July 31), Bow Craft Amusement and Miniature Golf (Aug. 7) and the Jersey Jackals vs. Newark Bears in baseball (Aug. 14). All trips are chaperoned by PBGC directors.

The Kearny Recreation Department and New York Red Bulls are accepting registrations for a free three-day soccer clinic for Kearny children ages 7 to 14 at Harvey Main Soccer Field on July 16, 17 and 18 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Those interested may register at the Recreation Department, 402 Kearny Ave. (Town Hall) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The camp is open to the first 90 children on a first come, first served basis. No walk up registrations will be permitted at Harvey Field on clinic days.

For more information, call the Recreation Department at 201-955-7983 or Ralph Cattafi at rcattafi@kearnynj.org.


Lyndhurst Food Pantry, on the first floor of the Municipal Annex, 253 Stuyvesant Ave., is in need of donations. This pantry, which currently serves more than 140 Lyndhurst families in need, welcomes donations of canned vegetables, peanut butter, jelly, cereal, applesauce, condiments, and paper products. No expired items will be accepted. All donations can be dropped off at the pantry. Anyone interested in holding a food drive for the pantry is invited to contact Sarah Anderson with the Lyndhurst Health Department at 201-804-2421.

Lyndhurst Youth Roller Hockey League is now seeking boys and girls of all ages and levels. Beginners are welcome. The following divisions are available: Mites (grades K-2), Midgets (grades 3-5) and Juniors (grades 6-8). A registration discount is available for those registering before Aug. 1. Registration fee is $45 for Lyndhurst residents ($55 after Aug. 1) and $55 for nonresidents ($65 after Aug. 1). Applications are available at www.leaguelineup.com/lyhl. Mail or drop off completed applications to: Lyndhurst Youth Hockey League, c/o Lyndhurst Parks Dept., 250 Cleveland Ave., Lyndhurst NJ 07071. For more information, visit www.leaguelineup.com/lyhl or email lyndhockey@ymail.com

Lyndhurst Public Library, 355 Valley Brook Ave., will host “Planting the Stars” on Saturday, July 20, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., presented by food historian Judith Krall-Russo. Bio-dynamic farmers believe that the movements of all heavenly bodies, moons, planets, and stars have an influence on the growth and development of all plants. So the time you choose to sow, plant, harvest, or even weed will affect the plants’ progress and quality. On a lighter side the stars can reveal what foods are best for certain Zodiac signs from spices, meats, vegetables and even “junk” food! Space is limited and registration is necessary. Call the library at 201-804-2478, ext. 7, or email romeo@bccls.org to register.

The library will host “Outrage Hisss…Pet,” an animal show, on Wednesday, July 17, from 4 to 4:30 p.m. Children in grades pre-k to 6 can learn some cool facts about animals. Registration is required.

Science meets art in a hands-on special event at the library on July 25 at 4:30 p.m. for children ages 7 to 14. Students will get an up-close look at fossils from around the world. Kids will play archaeologist as they create fossil rubbings, dig through sand to uncover “dinosaur bones” and even create a fossil impression out of clay. Registration is required.

Master Falconer Jennifer Pena will host “Flight of the Raptor,” a free bird of prey demonstration for seniors on Thursday, July 11, at 2 p.m. at the Meadowlands Environment Center, 2 DeKorte Park Plaza. For more information, call 201-460-8300 or visit www.njmeadowlands.gov/ec.

Get an up-close view of the Meadowlands District’s spectacular scenic beauty and wildlife with a two-hour guided pontoon boat cruise of the Hackensack River and its surrounding marshes on July 11 at 5:30 p.m. NJMC staff will discuss the region’s human and environmental history and point out birds and other wildlife along the way.

Admission is $15 per person for ages 10 and up. The boat departs from River Barge Park, 260 Outwater Lane, Carlstadt. Pre-registration is required. For a complete schedule, directions, and to register, visit www.njmeadowlands.gov/environmen/tours. html, or call 201-460-4640.

Take a three-hour guided tour exploring the Hackensack River and its marshes during a canoe trip with the NJMC on July 13 at 8:30 a.m. Paddlers will learn the basics of salt marsh ecology and enjoy the scenery while rowing past wetlands and down creeks. Admission is $15 per person for ages 10 and up. The tour departs from Mill Creek Point Park, Secaucus. Preregistration is required. For more information or to register, visit www.njmeadowlands.gov/environment/tours.html or call the NJMC.

Join author Tim Austin and relive the days of “Bill Miller’s Riviera: America’s Showplace in Fort Lee.” This free program for seniors will be held at the Meadowlands Environment Center on Thursday, July 18, at 7 p.m. Perched on the edge of the Palisades, The Riviera attracted the most sought-after performers of the day, and closed in the 1950s to make way for the Palisades Interstate Parkway. For more information, call 201-460-8300 or visit www.njmeadowlands.gov/ec.

Tickets are available for an Elvis tribute, hosted by the Lyndhurst Elks on Saturday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m. at the Polish National Home, 730 New Jersey Ave., Lyndhurst. Donation is $20 and includes a light dinner and show. Advanced tickets are $20 and $25 at the door.

For tickets or more information, call Julie at 201-424-2659 or Chris at 201-438-2750. Bring a canned good for the Lyndhurst Food Pantry.


Applications for the 2013 Senior Farms Market Nutrition program vouchers are now available at Nutley Department of Public Affairs, 149 Chestnut St. Nutley residents ages 60 and older, and income eligible, must pre-register to receive vouchers for the 2013 season. Vouchers will be distributed on Friday, July 12, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Essex County Branch Brook Park Cherry Blossom Welcome Center where the county will host a Farmer’s Market kickoff event. Transportation to the event will be provided on an as-need basis. Applicants need valid ID, as well as proof of income. (Income eligibility: annual income of $21,257 or less, or $1,772 monthly or less, for a single applicant). Residents can also pre-register for the program at the Public Affairs office, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday thru Friday. Approved residents will receive four $5 coupons, which can be redeemed for fresh fruit and vegetables only, at any farmers market in the state, from July through November. For more information, call 973- 284-4976.

Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Dr., invites patrons to play Bridge at the library every Tuesday at 1 p.m. No registration is required.

Conversation ESL classes are offered at the library every Wednesday this month at 10 a.m. No registration is required.

Wednesday Afternoon Knitters meet weekly at the library at 1 p.m. Both beginning and experienced knitters are welcome. Bring your own supplies.

Drop in to play video games at the library on Fridays, July 12, 19 and 26 at 2 p.m. and Wednesdays, July 10, 17 and 31 at 2 p.m.. No registration is required.

Babygarten is set for Tuesday, July 16 and 30 at 10 a.m. at the library for Nutley residents only.

The library will host Preschool Story Time for Nutley residents only on Wednesdays, July 10, 17 and 31. No registration is required.

Patrons are invited to play Dungeons and Dragons at the library on Thursday, July 11, 18 and 25 at 7 p.m.

The library will offer a 2-year-old story time for Nutley residents only on Friday, July 12 and 19, at 10 a.m. No registration is required.

Play the Harry Potter board game at the library on Tuesday, July 16, at 2 p.m. No registration is required.

Paint a dinosaur at the library on Thursday, July 18, at 1:30 p.m. Registration is required.

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

NA’s Nocciolo earns Observer Athlete of the Year

Three-sport standout becomes second straight Viking; fourth in six years to earn honor

Photo by Jim Hague North Arlington graduate A.J. Nocciolo (center, r.) receives the 2012-2013 Observer Male Athlete of the Year award from Observer general manager Robert Pezzolla (center, l.). From l. are North Arlington High School Principal Louis Manuppelli, head baseball coach Paul Marcantuono, head football coach Anthony Marck, Pezzolla, Nocciolo, A.J.’s mother Cesarina Petracca, Vice-Principal Dennis Kenny and athletic director Dave Hutchinson.

Photo by Jim Hague
North Arlington graduate A.J. Nocciolo (center, r.) receives the 2012-2013 Observer Male Athlete of the Year award from Observer general manager Robert Pezzolla (center, l.). From l. are North Arlington High School Principal Louis Manuppelli, head baseball coach Paul Marcantuono, head football coach Anthony Marck, Pezzolla, Nocciolo, A.J.’s mother Cesarina Petracca, Vice-Principal Dennis Kenny and athletic director Dave Hutchinson.



By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

When A.J. Nocciolo moved from Bloomfield to North Arlington, just before Nocciolo was to begin sixth grade, he felt a little out of place.

Luckily, Nocciolo’s family moved right across the street from a school playground, so the best way to make new friends in the new neighborhood would be through the one thing he felt most comfortable doing _ playing sports.

“I loved playing baseball back then and I could see the new kids weren’t really welcoming me, because they thought I was much older,” Nocciolo said. “I was a lot bigger than everyone, but when I told them I was only 12, they let me play. I started to hit a lot of home runs and although I really didn’t fit in, I made friends with everyone.”

Nocciolo’s first sport was baseball.

“I always played baseball,” Nocciolo said. “My father was a good baseball player. He was a good pitcher.”

Nocciolo gained some attention as a basketball player in middle school.

“He was an outstanding basketball player,” North Arlington High School head football coach Anthony Marck said. “He scored 52 points in a grade school game. That’s when I first noticed him. You could see the pure athleticism in him.”

As it turned out, football became Nocciolo’s main sport, but it took a while for Nocciolo to find his true position.

“When he first came to us, he was a lineman, because he was too big to play anywhere else,” Marck said. “But I knew he was a skilled position player.”

So Marck first put Nocciolo at tight end.

During one early practice, a frustrated Marck unleashed a diatribe at his players.

“He turned around and yelled, `Can anyone here throw a football?’” Nocciolo said. “Everyone laughed, but I raised my hand and asked if I could go in at quarterback. He let me go in and I dropped back and let it go.”

The ball traveled 60 yards in the air.

Later that year, North Arlington was scrimmaging against Kearny in a 7-on-7 drill.

“I hit Jimmy Roman with a pass in the corner of the end zone,” Nocciolo said. “I knew with Jimmy’s speed, he could beat his defender, so I put the ball in the back of the end zone and he caught it.”

“I just wanted to see what he could do and he threw a deep pass, some 35 yards, to the back of the end zone, on a corner route,” Marck said. “He said that he looked off the other receivers and threw it there. I told the coaches right then that he was no longer a tight end.”

Nocciolo spent his last three years at North Arlington as the Vikings’ starting quarterback. Even though he stood 6-foot- 3 and weighed 240 pounds, which constitutes a lineman in most NJSIAA Group I schools, Nocciolo was a signal caller, a rare one at that.

“He was definitely a oncein- a-lifetime athlete,” Marck said. “As a former quarterback myself, I wondered if I would ever coach a player like that. But he was everything I wanted and more.”

In his senior year, Nocciolo threw for 2,045 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also rushed for 378 yards and scored five touchdowns. He was also a tenacious defensive player from his linebacker slot, collecting 31 tackles.

Nocciolo also played basketball, averaging 10 points and 13 rebounds per game.

After not playing baseball since his freshman year, Nocciolo returned to the baseball diamond last spring and played third base, batting .450 for the season.

For his efforts, Nocciolo has been selected as the 2012-2013 Observer Male Athlete of the Year. Nocciolo received his award recently from Observer General Manager Robert Pezzolla.

Nocciolo becomes the second straight North Arlington athlete to receive the award. Tyler Krychkowski was the 2011-2012 recipient. Mike Gross (2007-2008) and Peter Santos (2009-2010) were also North Arlington athletes to earn the Athlete of the Year honor, which means that North Arlington has claimed the award for four of the last six years.

Marck had nothing but praise for his passing protégé.



“He worked at his craft 12 months a year,” Marck said. “I don’t know if there was a day where A.J. didn’t throw a football. But he was an athlete first and did whatever it took to help the team he was on. I think we’re fortunate in North Arlington to get kids who are truly dedicated and in order for our teams to succeed, we have to have kids play more than one sport. It’s a credit to A.J. for being able to play three and do well in three. He just loves to compete and is the ultimate competitor. It was a pleasure to see what the kid could do every single day.”

David Walsh, who recently resigned as the head boys’ basketball coach at North Arlington, also had praise for Nocciolo.

“He knew what it took to be a better athlete and knew that it took a lot of work,” Walsh said. “He might not have been the best basketball player, but he was going to give 100% every single day. He had a nice mid-range jump shot, but his best shot was the 3-pointer. But because of his size, he knew he had to mix it up down low. He was big enough and tough enough to get the job done and that was a big plus for us.”

Walsh believed that Nocciolo’s basketball prowess came easy.

“He just loved to play and liked to play our style,” Walsh said. “He wanted to be a part of our program. He could have easily found something else to do, but he wanted to play basketball. Playing those three sports isn’t easy. I think he realized that being idle is bad. It’s smarter to be active. Free time is a coach’s enemy. I can say that I had some of the best athletes in North Arlington over the last 20 or so years.”

Walsh did coach all four Observer Athlete of the Year recipients.

North Arlington head baseball coach Paul Marcantuono was happy to have Nocciolo back on the diamond last season.

“He was always mentally ready to compete and he brought that attitude to the baseball team,” Marcantuono said. “He’s a tough kid, a great kid, a superior athlete. He told me that he really missed playing baseball and wanted to come back.”

Nocciolo knew that there were no guarantees for playing time in baseball, especially after sitting out two seasons.

“He told me that I had to earn it,” Nocciolo said.

The first game of the season, Nocciolo took an 0-for-4 collar.

“He went right back into the batting cage after that game,” Marcantuono said.

“I must have been in there for an hour or so, hitting balls,” Nocciolo said. “I promised him that I wouldn’t go 0-for-4 for the rest of the season and I didn’t. If I didn’t get a hit, I worked hard to get it the next at-bat.”

“I think he had 10 multi-hit games,” Marcantuono said. “For someone who didn’t play baseball for two years, that’s phenomenal.”

Nocciolo did receive a lot of attention from major colleges, but because of his grades, he will head to ASA College in Brooklyn, a junior college that has sent several players to major Division I colleges, including Gilbert Pena, who went to the University of Mississippi and recently signed with the Green Bay Packers.

“I want to compete at the Division I level and prove that it doesn’t matter where you come from,” Nocciolo said. “I just want everyone to know that I’m always a Viking and I’ll always bleed blue. I was able to give my all every day and that’s important to me.”

It’s safe to say that Nocciolo is more than welcome in his neighborhood now as one of the finest all-around athletes the school ever produced.


Several local athletes under consideration for top Athlete award

Photo by Jim Hague Kearny’s Haley Durning had a sensational senior year in soccer and track and field, heading the list of other candidates worthy of The Observer’s Athletes of the Year awards

Photo by Jim Hague
Kearny’s Haley Durning had a sensational senior year in soccer and track and field, heading the list of other candidates worthy of The Observer’s Athletes of the Year awards


By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

While Lyndhurst’s Camila Alonso and North Arlington’s A.J. Nocciolo were the recipients of the 2012- 2013 Observer Female and Male Athletes of the Year respectively, there were several other area graduated athletes who were true credits to their respective schools and deserved consideration for the prestigious honor.

Among the girls, there was no finer candidate for top honors than Haley Durning of Kearny.

The multi-talented Durning was a standout goalkeeper in soccer, earning All-Hudson County and All-Group IV honors, and was a sensational competitor in track and field, winning her share of gold medals on the local and state sectional level in both the indoor and outdoor season.

More importantly, Durning graduated from Kearny High School as the No. 2 student academically in the Class of 2013, a high achievement on its own.

Durning was also one of the team’s leaders, earning the nickname of “Mother Duck” from coach Al Perez because the younger members of the team constantly followed Durning around.

Durning certainly left her mark as one of the most diversified female athletes in the school’s history.

Another standout Kearny athlete was soccer standout Katie O’Neill, who is headed to the University of Binghamton in a few weeks to play soccer there. O’Neill was clearly one of the best all-around players in the state and should be able to make her mark on the college level as well.

Fellow Kearny senior Kristen Stankus had a brilliant senior year, as the school’s top female bowler and as a slugging catcher for the softball team.

Speaking of softball, how could you go wrong with the talented battery from Lyndhurst, namely pitcher Casey Zdanek and catcher Julieann Schneidenbach? The two friends led the Golden Bears to their best season in recent memory, going all the way to the NJSIAA North 2, Group II sectional title game. Zdanek will take her talents to Drew University in the fall where she’s bound to be a success. Lyndhurst’s Lexus Lopez was probably the most diverse athlete in the area. A topflight bowler, who earned a full scholarship to FDU to bowl in the fall, Lopez also played basketball during the same season as the bowling season. That was some grind for the talented Golden Bear.

Queen of Peace pole vault expert Michelle Rozalski certainly made her mark during the indoor and outdoor track seasons. Headed to Seton Hall in the fall, Rozalski was among the very best in the pole vault in the state.

Harrison’s Rayven Lucas earned her mark as a basketball standout. The daughter of Harrison’s native son Ray (currently on SNY television as a Jets analyst and on the Rutgers radio network), Rayven led the Blue Tide to a highly successful season and will take her talents to Montclair State to play basketball in the fall.

North Arlington had two top female athletes in Katie Rouski, who competed in volleyball, basketball and softball and Mackenzie Cutruzzula, who was a fine athlete in track and field.

Among the boys’ athletes, Charlie Bingham of Nutley had perhaps the most diverse season, competing in soccer, basketball and tennis. Bingham was one of the best soccer players on a Maroon Raider that won 13 matches last fall and competed for both county and Super Essex Conference honors.

Bobby Trombetta, a fellow Maroon Raider, broke the school record for wrestling victories with 141 in his storied career, a mark that was third all-time in Essex County. He wrestled most of his senior year with an injured shoulder.

During his career, Trombetta won four county titles, three district crowns, two Region gold medals and three medals at the state tourney. He is headed to wrestle at Bloomsburg University.

Dave Fierro keyed Nutley’s best hockey season, scoring 28 goals and adding 11 assists for a team that won 17 games. Fierro was also a fine golfer for the Maroon Raiders.

Kearny’s Dylan Hoch overcame the adversity of playing for a sub-par team to reach the 1,000-point plateau and set a new school single-game scoring mark with his 49-point performance against McNair Academic.

Ryan Michaels of Kearny had a solid year as a wrestler and as the sure-handed catcher on the Kardinals’ varsity baseball team.

Jeff Frytek of North Arlington was a key member of the basketball and baseball teams along with Athlete of the Year Nocciolo.

Bobby Keegan of Queen of Peace, whose older sister Courtney was a former Female Athlete of the Year recipient during her days at QP, overcame injuries to have solid seasons on the gridiron and on the hardwood.

Belleville’s Aaquil Ingram made the most of his senior year on the gridiron by securing a scholarship to play at American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts in the fall.

All in all, it was a great local high school sports season, culminated by the individual performances of The Observer’s two Athletes of the Year.