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Ferrarro resigns, takes buyout

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


New high school VP named

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


Lottery for senior apts. next month

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


Heroin/gun rap for felon

      By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  When Kearny Vice Squad detectives busted a Newark man for drug possession/distribution Oct. 17 on Maple St., they reported recovering 135 folds of heroin. While the suspect was languishing in the Hudson County Jail on $40,000 bail, the KPD […]


Borough voters getting school question

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


As if it were yesterday . . .



Can it really be 12 years already? A dozen years since the morning that changed America, and the world?

Perhaps in other parts of this nation 9/11 no longer feels like only yesterday, but to those of us living within literal sight of lower Manhattan, and the place where the Twin Towers once stood, the memories are as clear and as sharp and as painful as ever.

I, for one, still cannot look up at a plane soaring through a bright blue sky without being jolted from the present to the past.

“September 11th blue,” I heard someone call it on a CNN documentary the other night.

Those of us who were here that day know exactly what that means. We can see that blue. Just as we can see the gray of the cloud that swept down the streets and then rose to the heavens and blotted away the blue – along with our sense of security.

In the days after 9/11, something else rose to the heavens: Prayers. Prayers for the lost, for the survivors, for the first responders, for our country. People found renewed strength in faith, and in the hope that faith inspires.

We also found a renewed sense of patriotism. And of courage.

There is a poem by British writer Laurence Binyon that dates from World War I and that is most often recited on November 11. It is engraved on plaques and tombs and memorials.

I believe it is equally suitable for September 11. And it should be engraved in Americans’ hearts as a tribute to all those lost at Ground Zero, at the Pentagon and in a field in Shanksville, Pa.

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.

– Karen Zautyk


Tribute in Light 9-11_web3

Arrested in 160G cell-phone scam

Photo courtesy PCPO Peter Mancuso

Photo courtesy PCPO
Peter Mancuso


A Nutley man and two from Passaic residents were arrested last Thursday, Sept. 5, by U.S. Secret Service Agents and members of the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office for allegedly running a scheme involving $160,000 in false cell-phone insurance claims, Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes announced.

The case against the accused will apparently be bolstered by one suspect’s Facebook page, on which he reportedly bragged about the scam.

Peter Mancuso, 43, of Nutley; Roger Davila, 32, and Ceasar Berrios, 26, both of Passaic, are all charged with engaging in a plot to submit fraudulent cell-phone loss claims to Asurion Insurance Services.

Using ficitious names, Mancuso and Davila submitted certified loss claims to Asurion, stating that cell phones were lost or stolen, authorities said. In return, the defendants reportedly received replacement cell phones.

Berrios took delivery of the replacements at a covert address, and the defendants then sold the devices over the internet, it is alleged. The prosecutor’s office said it was Davila who “boasted about the sales and other aspects of the scheme on his Facebook page.”

The three are accused of participating in the filing of more than $160,000 worth of fraudulent claims between December 2009 and August 2013. Mancuso, Davila and Berrios are each charged with: insurance fraud, theft by deception, trafficking in stolen goods, and conspiracy. Each charge carries the potential penalty of five to 10 years in New Jersey State Prison.

The arrests are the result of a year-long investigation by the Insurance Fraud Unit of the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office and the Newark Field Office of the U.S. Secret Service.

The investigation is continuing. If you have any questions, please contact Chief Assistant Prosecutor McCann at (973) 837-7616 or jmccann@passaiccountynj.org.

Valdes’ office notes that a criminal complaint is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

–Karen Zautyk

Funding in hand for new senior apartments


Rendering courtesy Steven Cohen Architect’s rendering showing front and side perspectives of senior residence to be built in Harrison.

Rendering courtesy Steven Cohen
Architect’s rendering showing front and side perspectives of senior residence to be built in Harrison.


By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent


Finally, after nearly five years of scrambling and in-fighting, all systems are go for Harrison’s long proposed affordable senior housing project for people age 62 and older.

The Domus Corp., the nonprofit housing arm of the Catholic Charities of Newark, is preparing for a fall groundbreaking for the 15-unit building that will rise at 774 Harrison Ave., just off Schuyler Ave. and adjacent to the Harrison Gardens public housing complex.

Catholic Charities CEO/Domus President John Westervelt said he expected that Domus would close on the approximately 40-by-100 square foot property sometime this month and start construction by late October.

Del-Sano Contracting Co. of Union will undertake the project, Westervelt said. Del-Sano has previously worked on several previous Domus jobs, including a 49-unit affordable senior residence in Kearny in 2005 and, more recently, a 49- unit project in Dumont. The breakthrough for the Harrison project came with the recent announcement that Domus had been approved for $1.8 million in CDBG Disaster Recovery funds via the N.J. Housing Mortgage & Finance Agency. Two previously filed applications had misfired.

That award, Westervelt said, will supplement a prior commitment of $1.4 million in Hudson County HOME funds and $509,000 from Harrison’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund for a total of $3.7 million to finance the development. “The building will be finished by fall 2014 and tenants will move in by the end of 2014 or early 2015,” Westervelt said.

Plans call for 15 one-bedroom, 600 square foot apartments, with one of those apartments to be reserved for an on-site superintendent, he said.

Eligibility for these units will be driven by federal AMI (Area Median Income) levels for the northeast region.

According to information furnished by The Metro Company, a Jersey City-based financial consultant to Domus, the gross monthly rent for three apartments will be calculated at 47.5% of AMI or $687 minus a utility allowance of $127 for a net rent of $560; the rent for each of the remaining 12 units will be set at 57.5% of AMI or $832 minus the same utility allowance for a net rent of $705.

The lower rents are a requirement of the county’s HOME funds program, Metro reported.

When the Harrison governing body voted last year to award the nonprofit a PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes), Domus projected it would collect about $107,000 in annual revenues. It will pay the town about $6,800 a year; after 15 years, that amount will be adjusted upward.

Westervelt said Domus will get the word out about the new apartments with advertisements “in local and regional newspapers, as well as local senior centers and service providers” and with a notice to be posted on the state’s Housing Resource Center Website.

A lottery will be used to make final selections of tenants for the apartments, Westervelt said.

Domus entered the picture about a year and a half ago as the successor to another nonprofit, New Town Development Corp., which Harrison had originally designated to do the project back in 2009.

The town provided $200,000, combined with $500,000 from the Hudson County Economic Development Corp., to acquire the Harrison Ave. parcel, demolish a small residential building on the site and hire an architect to draft plans for the new senior facility. It ended up donating the property to Domus for $1.

But New Town fell on hard times in 2011 after its volunteer director, Michael Rodgers, was fired from his paid job as executive director of the Harrison Housing Authority. Rodgers subsequently sued the HHA and the town, claiming he was punished for disciplining a relative of the mayor.

So when New Town sought the town’s endorsement to apply for HMFA funding in support of the senior project, it didn’t get it. Domus did.

Eventually, Rodgers agreed to a settlement of his litigation with the HHA and the town but terms of the settlement – which reportedly involved a substantial payout to Rodgers – weren’t disclosed.

KPD outreach to help the autistic

Photo by Karen Zautyk Sgt. Peter Caltabellotta at the COP office.

Photo by Karen Zautyk
Sgt. Peter Caltabellotta at the COP office.


By Karen Zautyk

Observer Correspondent


Families with children — or adults — suffering from autism, or any of the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), are the focus of a new outreach effort by the Kearny Police Department.

Sgt. Peter Caltabellotta of the COP (Community Oriented Policing) unit wants Kearnyites to know that a KPD database originally compiled to assist Alzheimer’s patients is being expanded to include the autistic.

That database contains descriptions and photographs of the individuals who have been registered with the department, along with their family’s/caretaker’s contact information. It is all critical to locating and identifying someone who might go missing.

“If someone reports that their mom with Alzheimer’s has walked away from home, we can look up her information and put the details out on the air [to patrol units],” Caltabellotta explained. “Conversely, if we find someone [who is wandering], we can identify them and we’ll have their contact information.”

Now this technology will be assisting the autistic.

It is fairly common knowledge that a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia might wander away from home. (Just last week, an Elizabeth grandmother disappeared from her residence with her two young grandchildren; all of them, luckily, were found safe on the streets of Newark the following day.)

It is less widely known, though, that ASD individuals also wander. There is even a national organization, the Autism Wandering Awareness Alerts Response and Education (AWAARE) Collaboration, devoted to raising public consciousness of this problem.

Someone who sees a senior citizen on the streets looking lost and confused will likely contact the police. But a younger person, even a child, who may not necessarily look lost, might not catch your attention.

AWAARE’s website, http:// www.awaare.org/, cites a study in Pediatrics magazine indicating that “49% of children with an ASD attempt to elope from a safe environment.”

But why?

According to AWAARE: “Mainly, a person with autism will wander to either get to something or away from something. Like dementia, persons with autism gravitate towards items of interest. This could be anything from a road sign they once saw to a neighbor’s pool to a merry-goround in the park.

“Other times, they may want to escape an environment if certain sounds or other sensory input becomes bothersome.”

AWAARE notes that outdoor gatherings are especially problematic, as are schools with unfenced/ungated play areas, and even a visit to a new, unsecured environment, such as a relative’s home.

Last month, Caltabellotta and COP unit cohorts, Officers Jack Grimm and Damon Pein, attended an autism information seminar designed specifically for law enforcement and public safety officers. Held Aug. 19 at the College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown, it was sponsored by the N.J. Police Community Affairs Officers Association.

“They suggested reaching out to the community,” Caltabellotta said. “Our idea was to add autism to our database.”

(By the way, the KPD has been keeping identification info on Alzheimer’s patients before there were computer databases. They used to use the old-fashioned binder method.)

And has the database been needed? Most definitely. Caltabellotta rightfully did not divulge specifics of any cases, but, as an example, he did note that of one Alzheimer’s sufferer who, thanks to the information provided to the police, was found in the Jersey City Medical Center and returned to his home.

Please note that the information is “provided” to the KPD; officers are not out there collecting it. It is up to an individual’s family to contact the cops and ask for their loved one’s inclusion in the database.

If you would like to register someone with an ASD or Alzheimer’s/dementia for the KPD database, you can visit the COP office Monday-Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. (The office is on Forest St., around the corner from police HQ main entrance.) Please bring a recent photograph of the individual.

Along with that photo and description, the database will list contact information, medical information and any special needs the person might have. For example, if the person cannot speak or has difficulty communicating, that can be noted.

“The database can be accessed 24/7 by all patrol officers,” Caltabellotta said. The better to quickly write a happy ending to a missing persons story.

If you would like more information on the database and how it works, contact Caltabellotta or Officer Jack Grimm at 201-997-4800. But remember, you must register in person to have someone added to the database.

It’s like deja vu all over again

Have you ever heard of Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov?

I hadn’t either until the other night when, thoughts of nuclear annihilation on my mind, I did a bit of research on the times the world walked a thin red line between survival and horrific destruction.

I had lived through one such time, the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 and remember vividly the hours before American warships blockading Castro’s island were expected to face off against the approaching Soviet fleet, and most people were wondering exactly how long they had left to live.

On Oct. 22, President John F. Kennedy had addressed the nation, revealing the presence of nuclear missiles in Cuba and announcing: “It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.”

Everyone knew what “full retaliatory response” meant, and it had nothing to do with “boots on the ground.”

On Oct. 24, Nikita Khrushchev sent a telegram to Kennedy, stating: “If you coolly weigh the situation which has developed, not giving way to passions, you will understand that the Soviet Union cannot fail to reject the arbitrary demands of the United States” and that the Soviet Union views the blockade as “an act of aggression” and their ships will be instructed to ignore it.

And so we waited. It was over by Oct. 27, thanks to a frenzy of negotiations and an agreement: Russia would remove its nukes from Cuba and the U.S. would remove its missiles in Turkey. There would be peace in our time. Or at least not nuclear war.

However, that sickening stab of fear I recalled from so many years ago struck again when I read a headline last week: “Russian Warships Cross Bosphorous En Route to Syria.”

I have listened to our President and our Secretary of State and I cannot for the literal life of me accept their arguments for a (shall we label it “humanitarian”?) strike against Syria — especially when the American people are so overwhelmingly opposed. I am also having difficulty accepting the “evidence” put forth.

There is more at stake here than Barack Obama’s losing face.

I am not saying there will be a repeat of the 1962 trauma. At least not initially. If we strike at Syria, the repercussions will be complex and ongoing.

There are far more than two players in this game. Things will progress in steps. But progress toward what?

Mock me as a doomsayer. However, deep inside there is that flicker of fear. Perhaps it comes from having been traumatized in my youth, but in recent days I have been hearing the echoes of the language of Armageddon that I remember from 1962.

And so, who was Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov? According to various sources on the internet, the Soviet officer was on duty the night of Sept. 26, 1983, in a bunker in Belarus. (Yes, ‘83, 21 years after the Cuban Missile Crisis.)

Petrov was alerted by computer that one of the USSR’s warning satellites had just detected the launch of five Minuteman missiles from silos in the U.S. Midwest.

According to website warandpeace.org: “In the midst of the chaos created by the attack warnings, Petrov, convinced that the alarm must be false, made an historic decision not to alert higher authorities. Had Petrov cracked and triggered a response, Soviet missiles would have rained down on U.S. cities. In turn, that would have brought a devastating response from the Pentagon.”

Petrov’s decision proved correct. There had been no U.S. launches. The warnings were the result of a computer malfunction.

The world had been minutes from destruction, and we never even knew it.

I prefer not knowing. There are moments when one’s head finds justifiable sanctuary in the sand.

Because I have no confidence whatsoever in our current chief executive, and because I, and you, have absolutely no control over an ill-advised march toward potential disaster — be it military or political — I shall not be watching his interviews on the major networks Monday night. Neither shall I watch his address to the nation on Tuesday night.

I have decided to ignore them. This will allow me to sleep those nights. And the ones after. However many that may be.

– Karen Zautyk


In last week’s issue, our story on the Pioneer Boys & Girls Club of America mentioned, Herbert Brookall, who is actually Herbert Crookall, a junior police detective back in the 60’s. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Rec Center opens doors to pre-schoolers


Photo by Ron Leir Sampling some of the wares at new East Newark pre-school, from l., are Superintendent/ Principal William Shlala, teacher aide Joanne Ribeiro and teacher Jennifer Palumbo.

Photo by Ron Leir
Sampling some of the wares at new East Newark pre-school, from l., are Superintendent/ Principal William Shlala, teacher aide Joanne Ribeiro and teacher Jennifer Palumbo.

By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent


In a move some might interpret as a sign of “independence,” East Newark has brought its public school pre-K program back home this fall.

This marks a departure from sending its 4-year-olds to neighboring Harrison where the Board of Education farmed out the youngsters to a privately operated nursery center.

On a separate front, East Newark’s Board of Education, which operates a single K-8 school, has been investigating the possibility of withdrawing its high school-age students from Harrison High School on the grounds that the tuition rates are onerous for borough taxpayers.

For now, though, school trustees are focused on bringing the little ones under its own roof, having made modifications to the front room of the East Newark Recreation Center on Central Ave. to create a new pre-school facility.

Mayor Joseph Smith said it was only a couple of weeks ago that the state Department of Education signed off on using the facility as an early childhood classroom after leaks in ceiling blocks were corrected, the room was painted, a toddler-friendly commode was installed, and a security/intercom hooked up.

When the weather is bad and kids can’t go outside for a half-hour play period, they’ll have access to the Rec Center gym.

Meanwhile, East Newark Superintendent/Principal William Shlala noted, “We’re soliciting prices to carve out a piece of the Rec Center parking lot into a pee-wee playground.”

While the borough was waiting to hear from the DOE, as a contingency plan, it sounded out the Kearny school system about the possibility of that district taking its 4-year-olds – a proposal that, Smith said, Kearny school brass would have welcomed had the state nixed the Rec Center move.

For a few years, East Newark Public School managed to accommodate a pre-school class but a sudden surge in primary enrollment last year that prompted the creation of a second first-grade classroom to avoid overcrowding forced the borough to send its preschoolers to a Harrison-based nursery school at Fourth St. and Cleveland Ave.

Now, Smith said, the borough will have direct control over the program, from both an educational and financial perspective.

Tim Havlich, the newly hired school business administrator (replacing Paul Vizuzzo), said that the BOE had budgeted $112,000 for last year’s pre-K program. This year, factoring in rental fees assessed by the borough for use of the Rec Center, plus the cost of the building’s modifications – including a still-to-come replacement of the building’s HVAC system – Havlich estimated that, “we should be working a little under that budget.”

At the same time, having the program in the borough should make it easier for parents bringing their kids back and forth.

The BOE has hired Jennifer Palumbo, who has 10 years’ experience as a pre-school instructor in Harrison, as its pre-K class teacher and Joanne Ribeiro, a candidate for a teaching degree at Drew University who is bi-lingual in Spanish and Portuguese, as a teacher aide.

As of last Friday, the first day of classes, 16 youngsters had been registered, according to Palumbo. Eight of the “younger” 4-year-olds are participating in the morning session, which runs from 8:20 to 10:50 a.m., and eight of the “older” group attend the afternoon session from 12:20 to 2:50 p.m.

“Instruction is based around the ‘open classroom’ theory,” Palumbo said, “where kids have a choice of where they’d like to work” but are still exposed to all topics.

Among those ‘work’ areas are setups for a kitchen experience, sand and water, art, building blocks, math and science “manipulatives,” a small library and a “quiet area.”

Kids will be getting a free “fresh fruit or veggie snack” from the Farm School Network, Shlala said.

At the Borough School, meanwhile, Shlala said students can expect these new developments:

• Listening to recordings of the likes of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, etc., played over the school P.A. system before the start of classes, from 7:50 to 8:30 a.m., “to expose them to the classical culture,” Shlala said.

• A “Silent Reading” program: For three days a week after lunch, kids will be devoting “15 to 20 minutes” to read some type of age-appropriate material, “make notes, break off into pairs and share what they’ve read,” said Shlala. Typically, he said, “our kids – most of whom are bi-lingual – struggle struggle in language arts,” so the silent reading is designed to reinforce those skills.

• The Basic Skills program will be getting iPads to facilitate instruction of remedial skills “and we’re increasing our staff level from two to four, both for during and after school sessions,” Shlala said.

“We’re also exploring, with our food vendor, Maschio’s, incorporating ‘Breakfast After the Bell’ for our kids,” he said. “Sometimes, kids are late and, by 9 a.m., because they haven’t had breakfast, they’re hungry, so we’re looking at whether we can arrange to have them eat breakfast in the classroom.”

Reports from the Kearny Police blotter

A different sort of shoplifting suspect was arrested last week at Walmart. This one, Kearny police reported, walked out of the store not with stolen goods, but with cash scammed from the returns counter.

At 1:30 p.m. Sept. 1, Officers Steve Hroncich and Cesar Negron responded to an alert from store security, who reported that a man had left the premises with a $63+ refund for items he had not purchased. How did he get the money?

Security said he had picked up discarded receipts from the parking lot, entered Walmart and removed from the shelves the same items as were on the receipts and took it all to the returns counter, getting a “refund.”

A short time later, Negron spotted a man fitting the suspect’s description just off Harrison Ave. in Harrison, took him into custody and brought him back to the store for identification.

Charged with shoplifting was 18-year-old Julian Yates of Newark, who was being held on $2,000 bail.

Other recent reports from the KPD blotter included the following:

Aug. 30

At 3:30 p.m., responding to complaints of drug use in the area, the Vice Squad was on Schuyler Ave. near the Kearny-Harrison border, where they observed what appeared to be a drug transaction. Arrested for alleged possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia were Joseph Berl, 24, and David Herman, 21, both of Harrison.

Returning to the same area at 5:45 p.m., the officers witnessed another apparent transaction and saw one suspect then enter a parked car and drive away. When he was stopped on Davis Ave. at Harrison Ave., police said they observed him remove something from his shirt and discard it on the floor. The item was found to be a bag of suspected cocaine, police said. Two more plastic bags, containing suspected marijuana, were reportedly found in his pocket.

Charged with possession of the drugs and paraphernalia was 60-year-old Dante Manzamares of Harrison.

Sept. 1

Officers John Fabula and Dave Rakowski were called to Kearny Ave. and Afton St. at 2:30 p.m. to deal with a loud and disorderly group, one of whom – an 18-year-old Kearny male – appeared to be especially agitated and under the influence of some unknown substance. When the teen was asked to take a seat on the curb, onlookers gathered, and Fabula told them to disperse. Most heeded him, but one 17-year-old Kearny male pushed past, bumped him and laughed in his face. The kid was arrested for obstructing an investigation, taken to headquarters and later released to his adult sister.

Rakowski remained at the scene to await the ambulance that had been summoned for the other youth, who was believed to be in need of medical attention.

At 3:30 p.m., Rakowski, P.O. Sean Kelly and Sgt. Anthony Limite responded to a twovehicle accident at the intersection of Quincy Ave. and Devon St. One of the drivers, fitting the description of a man known to police, reportedly fled on foot down Quincy. Kelly, who knew the man’s address, assumed he would be heading home and saw him arrive, reportedly carrying a plastic bag containing metal canisters. Police said these proved to be aerosol inhalants.

Carlos Crincev, 33, of Kearny, arrested before for alleged “huffing” of aerosols, was reportedly unsteady on his feet. He was given field sobriety tests, arrested, taken to HQ, and again provided with Narcotics Anonymous literature, police said.

Crincev was charged with: DWI; leaving the scene of an accident; reckless driving; being under the influence of a CDS; possession of a CDS, and refusal to take an Alcotest.

Sept. 2

At 2:10 a.m., Officer Ben Wuelfing stopped a vehicle reportedly traveling at a high rate of speed on Passaic Ave. between North and South Midland Aves. Police said he detected a strong odor of alcohol, gave the driver field sobriety tests and took her to HQ for an Alcotest. Charged with DWI and careless driving was Angie Gomez, 27, of East Newark.

P.O. Fabula responded to Walmart at 3:45 p.m. after two men reportedly tried to shoplift with a 43-inch plasma TV. Confronted in the foyer by store security, the suspects became combative and fled, leaving the TV behind.

Police Chief John Dowie noted that an “upstanding citizen” who had witnessed the confrontation and saw the men run to a car, called police anonymously to provide the license plate number.

Fabula checked the DMV photo of the registered owner and matched it to one of the suspects, Dowie said.

Because of the assault on a guard, the crime was elevated from shoplifting to robbery, and a warrant for same was issued against Randolph Samuel, 43, of Jersey City.

Sept. 3

Det. Mike Gonzalez responded to a local health-care facility at 10 a.m. to follow up on a theft and forgery investigation involving a credit card reported stolen from a patient being treated there.

The detective had found that the card was subsequently used at five Kearny stores – Discount City, Street Smart, Walmart, Wawa and Quick Chek – viewed their security videos and developed a suspect.

After being interviewed, Melissa Sheppard, 38, of Harrison, was charged with credit card theft, theft by deception and forgery. Police said she had worked at the health-care facility.

Sept. 4

Yet another theft attempt was reported at Walmart, this one involving a man who allegedly tried to abscond, all by himself, with a 60-inch television valued at $1,000. He was detained by security and taken into custody at 9:40 p.m. by Officer Wuelfing. The suspect, John Canady, 42, of Newark, was brought to HQ and charged with shoplifting.

– Karen Zautyk

Broken bridge hinders dredge transports

Photo by Ron Leir Bridge St. Bridge can’t open for boat traffic

Photo by Ron Leir
Bridge St. Bridge can’t open for boat traffic


By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent


Just four weeks after a contractor began dredging a 5.6-acre section of polluted Passaic River mudflats at River Mile 10.9 in Lyndhurst, the $20 million job has come to a halt.

The Bridge St. Bridge, one of 11 bridges that must be opened to allow for the passage of barges hauling the toxic sediment scooped up from the top two feet of mudflats, has mechanical problems which could take as long as a month to fix.

Elias Rodriguez, a spokesman for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is overseeing the work, said last week that Ray Basso, EPA’s director of the Lower Passaic River Cleanup project, has “confirmed that the bridge isn’t working” and that, “the Cooperating Partners Group is working with the U.S. Coast Guard to determine a path forward.”

CPG spokesman Jonathan Jaffe said: “We are eager to continue dredging. Unfortunately, the [bridge] situation is beyond our control. We will be ready to dredge when the infrastructure is repaired by the county.”

CPG is an amalgam of some 70 corporate organizations that have accepted responsibility for the despoiling of the river from industrial discharges of high concentrations of dioxin, PCBs and other contaminants in years past.

CPF hired Great Lakes Dredge & Dock of Staten Island, N.Y., to excavate some 20,000 cubic yards of the tainted sediment and dump it into barges which transport the materials downriver to Clean Earth, a hazardous waste treatment facility in South Kearny for processing and the toxic residue, mixed with cement, is shipped by rail to a landfill in Oklahoma, while the water from the barges is diverted into tanker trucks for transport to a New England treatment plant. The work has been proceeding six days a week. When the six- to eight-week job is finished, a cap will be placed over the exposed area.

But the barge movements depend on a timed sequence of bridge openings – 10 crossing the Passaic and one spanning the Hackensack River – and the Bridge St. Bridge, which carries vehicular traffic along County Rt. 508 between Newark and Harrison, is the 10th bridge from the mouth of the Passaic at Newark Bay.

Built by the American Bridge Co. in 1913 as a swing span, Bridge St. Bridge is listed on the N.J. Register of Historic Places and was rehabilitated in 1981, according to Wikipedia. Its two electric motors were damaged by Hurricane Sandy last year and were recently replaced by Hudson County, which has a rotating joint responsibility with Essex for maintaining the bridge.

But a new problem – unrelated to the motors — surfaced on Saturday, Aug. 31.

On that date, “… at approximately 5:30 a.m., the Bridge Street bridge … experienced a major mechanical failure rendering it inoperable,” reported Hudson County Roads & Public Property Director Harold Demellier Jr. in a Sept. 4 memo to the county administrator.

“Subsequent inspection of the mechanical equipment on the bridge revealed that the differential gear is broken and various shaft keys and a pinion shaft sheared. Other mechanical repairs related to this event may become evident when the equipment is dismantled.”

Demellier said Perrello Inc., the Lake Hopatcong firm that is contracted for welding, structural and mechanical repairs for the Bridge St., Clay St. and Jackson St. bridges, has estimated that repairs could run between $100,000 to $150,000 and could take 30 days. Hudson and Essex would share the cost equally.

And, because “maritime traffic cannot navigate up or down the Passaic River while the bridge is non-functional,” Demellier said, “an emergency does exist, and work shall commence immediately to address this situation.”

After the bridge got stuck in the open position on Aug. 31, the county reportedly brought in two tow trucks to manually return the swing span into the closed position.

It continues to accept vehicular traffic – which is good news for fans of the New York Red Bulls who drive across it for the team’s home games in Harrison. Upcoming games at Red Bull Arena are scheduled for Sept. 14 and 22 and Oct. 5 and 27.

In phone interviews last week, both Lyndhurst consulting engineer Brian Intindola of Neglia Engineering and special Lyndhurst environmental counsel John Scagnelli said that before the dredging began, they’d warned the CPG to be wary of the aging Passaic River bridges.

“We suggested they set up an escrow account to fix these bridges if something happened,” Intindola said. “These bridges are fragile.” As a member of the Passaic River Rowing Club, the engineer has seen these structures up close many times.

Scagnelli said that back in June, as the CPG and EPA were drafting plans for the dredging enterprise, “we warned them about these old bridges and that they haven’t been opened and closed [on a regular basis] for many years so we had concerns about the barge transport procedure. I’m not surprised this happened. The CPG needs to address this now.”

Asked if Lyndhurst would be open to the possibility of the contractor trucking out the soiled sediment, Scagnelli said: “The township made it clear that the dredged materials cannot be trucked out through the streets of Lyndhurst. Our position hasn’t changed.”

The EPA is in the process of completing a “focused study of cleanup options for the lower eight-mile stretch of the Passaic, from Newark Bay to Belleville,” and releasing the results for public review by year’s end. It’s unclear how this setback to the Lyndhurst project will impact those plans.

Around Town


Belleville residents can have their confidential documents safely shredded 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. Proof of residency is required. Bring documents in paper bags or cardboard boxes weighing no more than 10 lbs. (limit: five bankers boxes per person). No binders or magazines are accepted. Arrive early as this event will end prior to noon if the shredding truck reaches capacity.

Vendors are needed for an arts, crafts and collectibles show, sponsored by the Woman’s Club of Belleville. Cost is $25 per table. Contact Kathy at garden07109@gmail. com or Joan at jhneedles@ gmail.com. The event is set for Oct. 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Belleville Senior Center, 125 Franklin Ave.


Registration is open until Sept. 13 for Harrison Recreation co-ed soccer for grades 1 to 8 at the Community Center, 401 Warren St. For more information, call 973-268-2469.


A Flapjack Fundraiser for Pathways to Independence will be held at Applebee’s, 175 Passaic Ave., 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.

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

Kearny UNICO will hold a flea market on Saturday, Sept.15, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Frank Vincent Marina at Kearny Riverbank Park; and will sponsor a bus trip to Tropicana Casino, Atlantic City, on Sunday, Sept. 29, at a cost of $30 per person ($25 back from casino). For tickets, contact Lou Pandolfi at 201- 368-2409. Proceeds benefit Kearny UNICO’s charitable activities.


The Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst conducts a drive-by food drive for non-perishable items (no expired items) on Saturday, Sept. 28, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Food Pantry, 253 Stuyvesant Ave. (Township Clerk’s office). Send monetary donations payable to the Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst to: Diane Cichino c/o Town Clerk’s Office, 253 Stuyvesant Ave., Lyndhurst, N.J. 07071 or bring it to the food drive.

Woman’s Club members are at the Food Pantry every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Families in need may contact Sarah Anderson at the Health Center at 201-804-2500.

The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission announces the following activities: * Pontoon Boat Cruise – Sept. 12, 16 and 18 at 5 p.m., $15 per person; for ages 10 and older; and final Canoe Trip of the season – Saturday, Sept. 21, at 8:30 a.m., $15 per person; for ages 10 and older.

Both depart from River Barge Park, Carlstadt. Preregistration required.

To register for these programs, visit www.njmeadowlands.gov/environment/tours. html or call 201-460-4640.

* Third-Tuesday-of-the- Month Bird Walk – Tuesday, Sept. 17, from 10 a.m. to noon, at the Harrier Meadow in North Arlington. You must sign a standard liability release that is good for NJMC/ BCAS events throughout the year. To R.S.V.P., contact Don Torino of the BCAS at greatauk4@ aol.com or 201-230- 4983.

* New Jersey’s Threatened and Endangered Wildlife: An Overview of the Garden – Thursday, Sept. 19, 2 to 3:30 p.m., for all ages, $5/person; $4/MEC members at the Meadowlands Environment Center, 2 DeKorte Park Plaza, Lyndhurst. For more information, call 201-460-8300 or visit www.njmeadowlands.gov/ec.

The Alzheimer’s Association hosts a two-part program, “Living with Alzheimer’s for Caregivers: Middle Stage,” at the Lyndhurst Public Library, 355 Valley Brook Ave., 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.

Polish American Citizens Club, 730 New Jersey Ave., holds a beefsteak dinner on Sept. 22 from 1 to 5 p.m. Price is $45 per person (all you can eat and drink). Watch Giants vs. Panthers. Contact the club at 201-438-9723 or Ted Dudek at 201-924-9848. The club also sponsors a Dart League every other week, starting Sept. 24, from 7:30 to 8 p.m. For more information, call David Pecelli at 201-427-0849.

North Arlington

A free Lunch and Learn program on healthy feet, conducted by Dr. Christian S. Raymond, will be held at the North Arlington Senior Center, 10 Beaver Ave. (rear of Health Department) on Thursday, Sept. 19, at noon. Bring insurance cards. The program includes treatment of bunions, calluses, vascular conditions and more. The program is open to surrounding communities. Registration is required; call the Health Department at 201-955- 5695.

North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Rd., announces the following events for children:

* Storytime at 11:45 a.m. on Wednesdays, Sept. 18 and 25, for ages 2 to 5.

* Pirate Craft at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17, for grades K-5, sponsored by the NA Women’s Club. Come dressed in pirate garb.

* Bedtime Story Time at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19, for ages 4 to 6.

The following Back-to- School nights are scheduled at 7 p.m.: Sept. 18 – North Arlington High School; Sept. 24 – Roosevelt School; Sept. 26 – North Arlington Middle School; Oct. 1 – Washington School; Oct. 2 – Jefferson School.

The Rosary Society of Queen of Peace Parish sponsors a Tricky Tray and luncheon from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19, at San Carlo Fine Caterers, 620 Stuyvesant Ave., Lyndhurst, for ages 18 and older only. Admission is $40 per person.

For tickets, call Carol at 201-991-6454 or Pegeen at 201- 246-1030.


Pen to Prose Writers’ Group meets Monday, Sept. 16, at 6:30 p.m., at Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Dr.

The Nutley Department of Public Affairs is currently seeking volunteers to become a point of contact in their neighborhood in the event of a weather emergency or power failure. The P.O.C. will be a component of the Nutley Public Health Reserve Corps and play a vital role during storm emergencies. Interested residents should call 973-284-4976 and ask for Ann Marie Nicolette or email her at anicolette@nutleynj.org.