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UPDATE: Missing Nutley woman found safely in Newark

Nutley Police have located Juilia Dellaguzzo, the 85-year-old missing woman who wandered off  yesterday. Police say it appears she walked several miles south into Newark, and was found sitting inside a parked vehicle near her childhood home. She appears to […]

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Koppers developer picked

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  Hopes by Kearny to secure a developer for the old Koppers Coke Peninsula Redevelopment site have taken one step forward and two steps back. Kearny and Tierra Solutions, the owners of two of the three parcels in the South Kearny meadows area targeted […]

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School getting facelift

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  EAST NEWARK –  As summer’s clock winds down to the start of classes for the fall term, East Newark Public School is making all kinds of preparations to welcome students and staff back in style. Newly installed Superintendent/ Principal Patrick Martin recently ticked […]

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Too many birds of a feather flock to Nutley

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  NUTLEY –  Fire hoses didn’t work. Boom-boxes didn’t work. Will “fogging” do the job? Only time will tell. The “job” is to drive the starlings from DeMuro Park, where they reportedly have been roosting in massive numbers. Roosting and pooping. It’s the pooping […]

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To catch a raccoon

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  On an early August night, a few weeks ago, Kearny’s Julie Kelley recalls her husband Ed calling her to the window of the couple’s Morgan Place home and inviting her to look next door where the beacon from his flash light was […]

 
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Where will E. Newark kids end up?

By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent

EAST NEWARK –

For much of its entire 118- year history, since it broke away from Kearny’s First Ward, the borough of East Newark (population 2,400) has maintained a single public school for kindergarten to grade 8 and has consistently sent its graduates to high school in neighboring Harrison.

Now, however, the borough is going shopping for a new high school and might even look to the place it separated from so many years ago – Kearny.

Why?

“It simply comes down to money,” said Mayor Joseph Smith, who chairs the borough’s Board of School Estimate, which fixes the local school tax rate.

Smith said that the borough is looking elsewhere, not because it’s unhappy with the education its kids are getting in Harrison, but rather, because of rising tuition costs, “and that’s between 40% and 50% of our school budget.”

For the 2012-2013 school year, the East Newark Board of Education paid Harrison’s school district $14,674 for every borough student attending Harrison High School, Smith said. For the 2009-2010 school year, the rate was $11,067 per student, he said. But, for the upcoming 2013-2014 school year, Smith said Harrison had proposed charging $16,900 per student, “but when we hollered and screamed about that, they agreed to bring it down to $16,300.”

In the meantime, the board has filed an appeal of the Harrison tuition rate on the grounds that it’s still too fiscally onerous for borough taxpayers. And its attorney has filed an Open Public Records Act request with the Harrison school district for the past decade of tuition records. “We’re asking them for documentation to justify what they’re charging,” Smith said.

For that reason, Smith said, the borough is exploring the possibility of sending its kids to Kearny High School. The tuition rate would be lower than Harrison’s and there’s room at KHS for East Newark’s kids, according to Smith.

“We’re looking at possibly running one or two buses to get our kids to Kearny and back,” he added.

Harrison Schools Superintendent James Doran commented: “The parents of East Newark children are being well-served by Harrison. We don’t see how it would be in the children’s best safety and health interests to travel to Kearny.”

If Kearny’s school board were to accept the proposition, Smith said the borough wouldn’t be inclined to do an all or nothing switch involving grades 9 to 12. “We’d maybe look to keep the juniors and seniors in Harrison, initially, and start with incoming freshmen and sophomores,” he said.

Currently, East Newark has 119 youths attending Harrison High but it’s projecting it will have 139 enrolled by the fall term.

But before anything could happen, East Newark would first have to get the state’s okay to make any switch.

Under state school law, the Board of Education of either a “sending” school district (in this case, East Newark) or “receiving” district (Harrison) must petition the state Commissioner of Education to terminate the existing relationship based on statutory criteria set by N.J. Statute Title 18A: 38-13, including, for example, financial instability being created for one district or the other.

To make its case, the East Newark school board would have to do a feasibility study to be submitted to the Commissioner to judge the merits of the petition for withdrawal.

According to N.J. School Boards Association spokesman Michael Yaple, there have been 21 petitions for withdrawal from sending/receiving relationships filed by various districts from around the state since 1982. “While we don’t keep a won/loss count,” Yaple said, “we can say, anecdotally, it’s been running about 50/50.”

If East Newark loses its tuition appeal, Smith said the school board may be looking at having to revise its budget to absorb the increase in tuition fees by making cuts to services such as preventive maintenance, field trips, and so forth.

“We’d have to cut everything other than what’s academics-related, to the bone,” Smith said, “unless the state would agree to increase our state aid or give us extraordinary aid.” The alternative, he said, is to retain those services and increase taxes.

Security takes on a new look in Harrison

Photo by Ron Leir New Harrison police communications center

Photo by Ron Leir
New Harrison police communications center

 

By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent

HARRISON –

It’s not your father’s police station anymore.

Lot of visitors to Harrison Police Headquarters are doing double-takes these days.

For years, folks were used to walking through the Cleveland Ave. entrance, turning left and coming up against an ominous barrier wall with a glass window where a police dispatcher could peer down on you and ask what you wanted.

If you needed an accident report or the like, you did an about-face and saw another wall and small window where you’d ask the keeper of the records for the desired document for a detective.

But now, the dispatcher’s room is empty – that imposing wall will be coming down soon in favor of a more publicfriendly setting. And when you turn to the old record room, there’s a big (secured) glass window giving you an eye-level view of the recently renovated interior.

It’s almost like going to the movies. Mounted on the facing wall are three rows of 42-inch computer monitors – four in each row – projecting real-time images of what’s happening at different places around town.

Those electronic pictures are coming from closed circuit TV surveillance cameras strategically positioned atop utility poles at 24 exterior locations and from 11 additional cameras at interior locations, according to Police Chief Derek Kearns.

“And more are coming,” Kearns said. “We’ll be getting four more under Rt. 280 off Hamilton St., one for our police yard and another inside the Police Department.”

The town’s main intersections along Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. North and South and on Harrison Ave., east and west, along with the Red Bull Arena are all covered by the camera system, according to the chief.

“Probably half the town is under surveillance,” he said.

And the room has extra wall space where more screens can be accommodated in future, Kearns said.

“We’re working on getting a live feed for the Harrison Housing Authority complex,” Kearns said. “Right now, our detectives can go on a laptop to get a feed but, in future, we want to be able to capture those images right here in our new communications center.”

Harrison High School and Washington Middle School are both equipped with CCTV units, Kearns said. “We’re hoping to get a live feed for those schools as well.”

And, if the governing bodies of Harrison and East Newark can agree on it, Kearns said the HPD “can purchase an encoder” to monitor the images that East Newark’s CCTV police cameras – which were installed during the 1970s – are picking up.

Among the places inside Town Hall where cameras are trained are: the prisoners’ cell area, the police evidence room, the first-floor lobby, the basement construction office entrance and the third-floor registrar’s office.

Live video footage can be used to assist police in pursuing a suspect in a criminal investigation or, after a crime or accident has taken place, detectives can review the video log to try to glean some evidence or clues to solve a case, Kearns said.

Some three weeks ago, a camera focused on the intersection of Bergen St. and Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. South captured the image of a vehicle that struck a pedestrian, helping to lead police to the driver.

Operating desk computers, dispatchers can access special radio frequencies to communicate with State Police, East Newark P.D. and the borough’s Volunteer Fire Department, Harrison Fire Department, local schools and Red Bull security. And any or all of those entities can be patched together to talk to each other.

Harrison and East Newark police units and fire companies, along with EMS, are dispatched via the HPD communications center.

Dispatchers maintain an electronic log of all jobs responded to and the ultimate disposition of those jobs, available for review as needed. Seven civilians work full-time 10-hour shifts on an around-the-clock rotation.

“It’s all being done to ensure safety,” Kearns said. “If a crime has been committed, we want to make sure the person who committed the crime is held accountable and, with the video, we can take a look to see why this happened. It’s extremely helpful to our investigators.”

The old dispatch room, meanwhile, will be transformed into a “waiting area” where the public can use a bathroom while waiting to go to municipal court. Or they can ask a dispatcher for an application for a resident parking permit, or a case number for an accident report, for example, “where we don’t have to take a cop off the street,” Kearns said.

The entrance to headquarters is being reconfigured with an intercom system that the public will be asked to use during late night and early morning hours. A camera will enable dispatchers to see who’s there. Town employees will be given a card key to enter.

The 35 cameras now in operation were installed by Pinnacle Wireless of Fair Lawn, beginning some three years ago with a single unit in the department’s interrogation room on the recommendation of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.

All equipment was purchased with the aid of grants from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Kearns credited Det. Sgt. Ed Markowski and the town’s information technology coordinator Kunal Mehta with designing and integrating the new communications setup.

Patriotism must not flag

Photo by Karen Zautyk Public Affairs Commissioner Steven Rogers and Commissioner-for-a-Day Brian Conte (in inset) accept ‘retired’ flag.

Photo by Karen Zautyk
Public Affairs Commissioner Steven Rogers and Commissioner-for-a-Day Brian Conte (in inset) accept ‘retired’ flag.

 

By Karen Zautyk

Observer Correspondent

NUTLEY–

The announcement was short and to the point: “In commemoration of Flag Day, the Nutley Department of Public Affairs will be conducting a brief flag retirement ceremony on Friday, June 14th, 4 p.m., at the Department of Public Affairs Building, 149 Chestnut St. Representatives from the Girl Scouts of America will be participating in this ceremony.”

It was also a much-appreciated reminder. Every year, your correspondent thinks, “I must remember Flag Day.” And then I forget.

Flag Day, alas, is one of those American observances that has nearly fallen by the wayside. It appears to no longer be recognized nationally in any special way. But, luckily, small towns across the U.S., and the patriots who dwell therein, are keeping it alive.

It marks the anniversary of the day, June 14, 1777, when the Second Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the new country. Coincidentally, the same day also marks the official birthday of the U.S. Army, on June 14, 1775.

Trying to determine when Flag Day itself, the anniversary observance, came into being is a bit daunting, with some apparently conflicting information. (Or maybe my lack of research skills is to blame.)

In any case, reportedly, the first commemoration took place June 14, 1861, in Hartford, Conn., at the suggestion of a resident of that city, named George Morris. Or maybe Jonathan Morris.

But it wasn’t until 1916, with World War I raging in Europe, that Flag Day was made official, via proclamation by President Woodrow Wilson. It was then made legislatively official in 1949 when President Harry S Truman signed the Act of Congress establishing June 14 as the date.

For an exceedingly readable history of Flag Day, I direct you to a 2011 article by Adam Goodheart published in a New York Times blog. Just Google: Unhappy Flag Day. Which is the headline on the piece. It recounts the ups and downs of the “holiday.”

Goodheart writes: “It was destined, eventually, to become the runty stepchild among American national holidays. One hundred and fifty years after its original creation, no one ever hosts a Flag Day cookout or sends a Flag Day greeting card. Nobody gets to take a long weekend away from the office. Even the most customer-hungry car dealers don’t advertise Flag Day sales.

“And today, exactly 150 years [this was from 2011, remember] after it was first celebrated, almost no one seems to have noticed the anniversary.”

But Nutley notices, this year and in past years.

We attended the brief, but solemn and moving, ceremony last Friday afternoon. Presiding was Public Affairs Commissioner Steven Rogers, with Commissioner for a Day, 9-year-old Brian Conte, a third-grader at Yantacaw School.

Following the Pledge of Allegiance and an invocation, members of Girl Scout Troop 20502 performed the exacting flag-folding ceremony one sees most often at veterans’ funerals.

This flag, about to be officially “retired,” was representative of some 250 American flags dropped off at the Public Affairs offices during the year by Nutleyites — flags that were faded or tattered or torn.

American flags no longer suitable for display are not to be tossed in the trash.

Rogers explained that all 250 from Nutley would be delivered to a crematorium where they will be burned, That is the only acceptable form of disposal for the Stars and Stripes.

In his remarks at the ceremony, Rogers noted that June 14 “is an important day for every American” but “unfortunately, across the country we have seen some of these important days disappearing.”

Not in Nutley. Of the ceremony, Rogers said, “We do it for the younger generation.”

On Flag Day, honoring the flag, and the Americans who have served and are serving under Old Glory, “is a reminder that freedom cost a lot” and is a tribute “to those who paid the price, those who came before us,” the commissioner said.

Kearny burglary suspect in custody

Photo courtesy Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Raymond Rouland

Photo courtesy Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office
Raymond Rouland

 

By Karen Zautyk

Observer Correspondent

KEARNY –

A man described as a “known career criminal” being sought in a June 3 burglary in Kearny was arrested four days later by East Rutherford authorities after he was caught allegedly using a stolen credit card at a mall in that borough, police said.

After the Kearny crime, a brazen daytime break-in at an East Midland Ave. apartment building, Kearny Police Chief John Dowie told The Observer that detectives, including lead investigator on the case, Det. Scott Traynor, had identified the potential suspect as a 45-year-old Elizabeth man.

Arrested June 7 in East Rutherford was Raymond Rouland, 45, of Elizabeth.

It marked his 11th arrest as an adult, Dowie said. East Rutherford was said to have linked Rouland to a May 8 burglary there and charged him with burglary, theft and fraudulent use of a credit card.

In Kearny, police reportedly have also tied Rouland to a May 28 burglary at a Schuyler Ave. apartment. “He likes apartment buildings,” the chief commented.

The same suspect had been arrested March 14 in Harrison, where he was charged with burglary, theft and possession of burglar tools, Dowie noted.

According to law enforcement records:

Rouland’s first adult arrest came in 1990 for alleged cocaine possession. Disposition of that case is not known.

• In 2005, he was arrested in Elizabeth for receiving stolen property, was fined and served a two-day jail term.

• In August 2006, again in Elizabeth, Rouland was charged with burglary and receiving stolen property. He was convicted that November, fined and placed on three years’ probation.

• In May 2007, he was arrested in Union for forgery and theft by deception. In January 2008, he appeared in court in that case, was fined and given a three-year prison sentence.

• In July 2007, prior to his court appearance on the Union charges, he was arrested in Rahway for alleged burglary with a weapon, theft and receiving stolen property. That resulted in another three-year jail term, authorities said.

• In December 2008, apparently already paroled from the term handed down that January, he was arrested in Montclair for burglary, theft and possession of burglar tools, and in Roselle Park for theft by deception, credit card theft and fraudulent use of a credit card. In February 2009, he was found guilty of the Montclair felonies and again sentenced to three years. For the Roselle Park, crimes, he had received a 30-day sentence and a monetary fine.

• In January 2009, prior to the Montclair sentencing, he was arrested in Springfield on charges of burglary, credit card theft and fraudulent use of a credit card. Disposition of that case is not known.

Last week, Dowie reported, Rouland was “a guest at the Bergen County Jail.”

School uniforms for ‘safety’s sake’

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By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent

NORTH ARLINGTON –

Starting this September, the borough’s public school students will be occupied with shaking off the summer recess high, adjusting to new classes and teachers, and … paying attention to how they look.

That’s because the North Arlington Board of Education – following the lead of other school districts around the country – has adopted a uniform policy.

By a 3-1 vote, with Anthony Blanco the lone dissenter, (George Rosco was absent, attending to another school-related matter), the board voted June 3 to approve mandatory school uniforms for kindergarten to 12th grade.

However, at this point, the board has announced no concept for what the set uniform will look like for boys or girls, even color-wise. Board President George McDermott said that principals at each of the five schools have been asked to form committees of staff and parents and/or guardians to come up with suggestions to be presented to the board.

Parents and/or guardians will have to buy the uniforms at a price as yet unsettled and from vendors yet to be designated.

“Failure to wear the proper uniform will result in disciplinary action,” says the board policy resolution, but the board has yet to determine how the policy will be enforced.

Superintendent of Schools Oliver Stringham said that, among other things, uniforms will help “maintain an effective learning environment,” allow for “easy identification of students and nonstudents for safety (and) prevent gang influence regarding clothing and insignia,” improve discipline and ease “peer pressure” about wearing certain styles.

The uniform mandate supplements an existing “dress and grooming” policy implemented in 2008 which bans such items as exposed underwear, Spandex or biker shorts, midriffs, halters, transparent blouses or shirts, fishnets, “torn or ripped clothing that is deemed too revealing,” and any garments bearing wording that is “vulgar, lewd, obscene or plainly offensive.”

This prohibition even extends to clothing “which contains a message that is ungrammatical, poorly written, inadequately researched, biased, prejudiced … or unsuitable for immature audiences.”

McDermott, a borough police officer who, like Police Chief Louis Ghione, strongly favors the new policy as a way of enhancing school safety, said the board has been considering putting one into place since the 2006-2007 school year when parents were surveyed about it.

Since then, however, Mc- Dermott said, “we’ve had the attacks in (Newtown) Connecticut and we’ve seen the amount of school security increase across the country. I’d rather be proactive by doing something to keep our kids safer than have a parent being upset with me because their kid was hurt or killed.”

McDermott said the district was “also looking at [dress code] options for our administrators to set an example for our kids.” He didn’t elaborate.

“We’re not putting this policy in place to hurt anyone,” McDermott said. If anything, he said, it should dissuade kids from “bullying” peers, just because they happen to be wearing clothing purchased from a discount retailer.

“Uniforms aren’t what makes kids’ personalities,” McDermott said. “That starts at home and, hopefully, is reinforced at school.”

Allowing students to dress in a helter-skelter manner serves only as “a deterrent to education,” McDermott asserted. “Since the weather has turned warm, we’ve had an average of 15 to 20 kids a day sent to the principal’s office for dress code violations,” he said. “If you figure 15 minutes per child for getting pulled out of class, having to report to an administrator and so forth, that’s a total of five hours of education time lost!”

Although it will be up to parents and/or guardians to bear the uniform cost, the board policy resolution predicts that they’ll actually save money in the long run by avoiding catering to kids’ clamoring for more expensive garments.

“However,” the resolution notes, “fundraising opportunities, community donation programs and corporate scholarships will defray the cost of the school uniforms for economically disadvantaged students.”

McDermott said the district has “reached out to PTA and the North Arlington Education Foundation” to ask them to consider setting aside funds for needier families who may require assistance but his expectation is that few will ask, based on similar efforts in Harrison and Lyndhurst.

How many other districts in the state have adopted uniform rules is hard to say. The New Jersey School Boards Association doesn’t track such trends but the National Center for Education Statistics has reported that, as of 2009-2010, the most recent year available, nearly 19% of schools nationwide require students to wear uniforms and nearly 57% of principals reported having a “strict dress code.”

Meanwhile, in a follow-up to the public’s approval to spend $3.1 million for upgrading Rip Collins Field, the board authorized advertising for soil test borings at the project site to check for any environmental contamination. “It’s part of our due diligence,” McDermott said.

By summer’s end, McDermott said he expected that the board would contract for the demolition of “our old buildings” at the project site.

Last month, Board Secretary/ Business Administrator Kathleen Marano reported to the board that Valley National Bank had agreed to purchase $1,150,000 in notes at an interest rate of 0.58%, to be repaid by Dec. 4, as a “partial drawdown” of money required for the Collins Field project.

At the June 3 meeting, the board also approved the hiring of Jennifer Rodriquez to replace Nicole Russo as principal of Jefferson Elementary School. Russo was named last month to replace Dan DiGuglielmo, who is retiring June 30 after spending the last decade as Middle School principal and after 35 years as an educator in the district.

Harrison children get creative

Photo by Karen Zautyk Some of the endangered-species tiles.

Photo by Karen Zautyk
Some of the endangered-species tiles.

 

By Karen Zautyk

Observer Correspondent

HARRISON –

Guess what? There really are dragons. They have wings and fangs and fierce expressions. But if you look in their eyes, you can see they are gentle creatures.

We know all this because we saw the dragons for ourselves, a whole herd (flock?) of them, right outside the main office at Lincoln School on Cross St.

These dragons were made of aluminum cake pans, coffee cup lids, cardboard tubes, egg cartons and innumerable other items one might not expect to be part of a dragon, unless you have a wonderful imagination. And second-graders usually do.

The beasties were part of the school’s annual art show, which spotlights the creativity of Lincoln’s 270 students. Under the guidance of art teacher Regina Green-Paradiso, with assistance this year from Hamilton School art teacher Cienne Keegan, the youngsters in kindergarten through third grade used various recyclable materials — and the aforementioned imaginations — to produce artwork for the show, open to the public last Wednesday evening.

More than 600 people attended the event, which has been held for more than 25 years.

“As always,” said Lincoln Principal Jo Ann Dignazio- Botch, “we were very pleased with our students’ projects and the families’ participation in viewing our show.”

Each class has its own individual project, which incorporates not only art, but other subjects (writing, science, math, etc.) in a cross-curriculum learning experience.

Each of the dragons, for instance, bore a short description written by the child who created it. (“The dragon lived in the castle with fire on it. It was a boy. It was on TV.”)

The finished art is displayed in the school hallways. Near the dragons was a table full of pipe-cleaner sculptures (a monkey with bananas; an octopus catching shrimp in its tentacles; a fierce gray wolf), created by third-graders.

Photo by Karen Zautyk Pipecleaner octopus catching shrimp

Photos by Karen Zautyk
Pipecleaner octopus catching shrimp (l.); hungry (or laughing) dragon, made from cake pan, cereal bowls and egg carton.

Among the dozens of other exhibits were animal collages, pictures incorporating colorful beadwork, others made with the caps from Magic Markers, potholder looms with beads and string, packing-foam animals, self-portraits (some very Modiglianiesque) and butterfly sock puppets.

Just inside the school’s main entrance is another example of the children’s talents, this display more permanent.

Last year, Green- Paradiso had the students create paintings of endangered species. The finished works have been made into colorful tiles, which were installed at the head of the front staircase last summer. The display is stunning. (Your correspondent thinks individual tiles should be reproduced and sold. Just a suggestion. I’d buy a dozen or so.)

This week, now that the public has seen the art show, all the students will.

Photo by Karen Zautyk The Lion Sees the Jungle,’ made from plastic markers.

Photo by Karen Zautyk
‘The Lion Sees the Jungle,’ made from plastic markers.

 

Since the children in various classrooms do not necessarily get to visit the other floors of their school, they will be given guided tours- -led by third-graders outfitted with official badges to identify their lofty status and wands with which to point out specific artworks. Perhaps the one titled “The Crazy Cat That Can Fly” or “The Crazy Dinosaur That Barks.” (There’s that imagination again.)

Dr. James P. Doran, Harrison superintendent of schools, offered accolades to Lincoln’s students and staff. The art show project, he told The Observer, is “reflective of everything that goes on in that school. It’s a wonderful learning environment.”

In one of Lincoln’s hallways, there is a poster that reads: “The arts challenge us to think in innovative ways.”

Last week, evidence of that was all around.

(P.S. to Dr. Doran: Think about my selling-the- endangered-species-tiles idea, okay?)

Thoughts & Views: Hey, LEGO, put on a happy face

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From the Department of You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: Down under, at New Zealand’s University of Canterbury, the head of its Human Interface Technology lab has been studying the faces on LEGO mini-figures.

I am not sure exactly what Human Interface Technology is, but it apparently has something to do with “improving human computer interaction.

” I’m not sure what that is either, but the first thing I thought of was:

‘’Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL?”

“Affirmative, Dave. I read you.”

“Open the pod-bay doors, HAL.”

“I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

But I digress.

The HIT expert, Dr. Christoph Bartneck, has reportedly examined 3,665 LEGO minifigures produced from 1975 to 2010 and has discovered what is, to some, an alarming trend.

According to the university’s website, he found: “The number of happy faces . . . is decreasing and the number of angry faces is increasing.”

So?

Said Bartneck, “Children’s toys and how they are perceived can have a significant impact on children. We cannot help but wonder how the move from only positive faces to an increasing number of negative faces impacts on how children play.”

Hey, this is important stuff. Bartneck will present a paper on his findings at the International Conference on Human- Agent Interaction, to be held in August in Japan.

Suppose we are raising a generation of children who can never outgrow the psychological effects that growly, grimacing LEGOs had on them as tykes. Eventually, I am sure, there will be a “Criminal Minds” episode based on the predations of a LEGO-warped unsub.

And LEGO’s response? According to Britain’s The Guardian newspaper, the company’s communications manager, while not directly addressing the New Zealand research, “said every toy developed by the manufacturer was tested by a range of children, while child psychiatrists, parents and teachers were also consulted.”

He also noted that in LEGO games, “the good guys always win in the end.”

And, he told The Guadian, if parents are still concerned, “they can always just switch heads with another figure.”

By the way, the name of the LEGO spokesman is:

Roar Rude Trangbæk.

You can’t make this stuff up.

On another matter entirely, up in Boston, the murder/ racketeering trial of the infamous James (Whitey) Bulger is beginning. According to The New York Times, the defendant is apparently irked most by reports he had been an informant for the FBI, since “nothing was more despicable in his insular Irish enclave of South Boston than a rat.”

This reminded me of a joke I heard during The Troubles in Northern Ireland:

Q. What do you have if you have one Irishman?

A. A secret.

Q. What do you have if you have two Irishmen?

A. A conspiracy.

Q. What do you have if you have three Irishmen?

A. An informer.

The subtle subtext of this is not that there would be an actual informer, but that (the Irish having a mistrustful streak) one of the three would inevitably begin to suspect one of the others.

This riddle was told to me by a supporter of the Provisional IRA, which I mention only because I do not wish to be accused of ethnic profiling. The Provo and I both thought it was funny.

– Karen Zautyk

WE’VE GOT MAIL

Volunteer as advocate for elderly

To the Editor:

Every day across the country and in our own community, vulnerable elderly people are being abused, neglected and financially exploited.

As New Jersey’s Long Term Care Ombudsman, I oversee a state- and federally-funded program that advocates for elderly people living in longterm care facilities, like nursing homes and assisted-living residences.

While the care and treatment of elderly individuals in long-term care facilities is strictly regulated and can be very good, these facilities are not exempt from incidents of abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Indeed, anywhere you have extremely vulnerable people, there is the potential for serious abuse.

That is why I urge anyone who is truly concerned about elder abuse and exploitation to call my office at 609-826- 5053 to find out about how to become a Volunteer Advocate in a local nursing home.

Volunteer Advocates receive 32 hours of training and asked to spend four hours a week at a local nursing home, listening to residents’ concerns and advocating on their behalf.

We have a critical need for volunteers in the northeastern part of the state – especially in Hudson County, where there are 17 nursing homes but we have just nine volunteers, and in Essex County, where there are 34 facilities but just 15 volunteers assigned.

The need is clearly there. If you are interested in having a direct impact on the lives of elderly citizens in nursing homes, please consider becoming a Volunteer Advocate.

James W. McCracken

NJ Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly

Trenton

N. Arlington man wrote, starred in first film

By Angelica Rebozo

Observer Correspondent

Wednesday May 29 was a regular business day for most of us but for Gerard Garilli, it was the beginning of making his dream come true. He is a young man from North Arlington with the dream of being in the film industry. He works alongside his father in father’s photography business and has always dreamed of being a film maker.

“I’ve always been a fan of movies ever since I was a little kid from ‘Back to the Future’ to ‘Billy Madison’ to ‘Taxi Driver’; every type of genre I always liked it” he says. Garilli made two short films last year called “August 18” and ‘Hunt’s Place” which were very experimental and helped him hone the skills needed to write a script and create screenplays. Now, a year later, he is premiering his first film called “Fratello” at The Producer’s Club in New York on 44th St. “After I made those I knew, it was like an addiction; it’s like eating Doritos – you can’t just have one and walk away, I knew that this was my passion,” Garilli said.

The film is about two down and out brothers who run into some trouble and have to stick together to get through it. I don’t want to be a movie spoiler but for a movie shot partly in our hometown it was a pleasure to watch. It took place in many locations from Kearny to Secaucus and as a low budget, independent film, I found it very well made and scripted. Garilli starred in his film along with Steve Mason playing as his brother; his real-life sister Justine Garilli, Pe’er Klein, Mike Giordani, Devin Parentice and Joseph R. Gannascoli, a star from the hit TV Show “The Sopranos,” playing as a father figure. “On Twitter I saw his page (Joseph Gannascoli) and shot him an email. I didn’t think he was going to respond and he did instantly and we talked about the film and he was on board and it felt great,” said Garilli.

Garilli has two sisters, one of whom co-starred in his film and he says “it was very natural working with her; it was like how we are at home.” As the only boy in his family, I thought it would have been difficult for Garilli to act as though he had a brother but Garilli said “My sisters and I have a great realtionship but we sometimes fight so I took that into effect and it was natural because Steve and I have worked together and we have a really good relationship.”

The first day of shooting the director, Tony Picciotti, was giving the actors a hard time and never returned. It took Garilli some time to find a good director to work with and see his vision. He finally found Jason King who took over and everyone was very happy with him. The film was originally called “On the Run” and, as coincidence would have Gannascoli was in a film with that name. Garilli decided to change it post production. “‘Fratello’s ethnic and I liked it,” he says, grinning.

“I want to move people and have people see this film – its like getting in the major leagues; it’s like my dream would be accomplished,” he says. He is now working on getting “Fratello” to film festivals and hoping to get it on “the big screen.” Now that he has found his calling, he is hoping to create more films and star in them and eventually direct them as well. “My goal is to have people to see it and get it distributed. I want to get it in the hands of the right people. I am very proud of my product,” says Mr. Garilli.

Kearny Police blotter: A trifecta

For a Kearny man, it was three strikes and you’re in– as in jail — after he was arrested three times within three days, police reported.

The saga began Saturday, June 8, at 2 p.m., when P.O. Frank West responded to a report of a shoplifter at the Midtown Pharmacy at Kearny and Midland Aves. An individual fitting the description of the suspect, who allegedly had stolen some candy bars, was located in the area, arrested and taken to KPD headquarters for processing.

There, Police Chief John Dowie said, the man was searched and found to be in possession of “quite a few forms of property” — bank cards and charge cards — belonging to others. The chief said the suspect, 22-year-old Marc Prezioso, claimed he had found them. Nevertheless, he was charged with credit card theft and shoplifting and released on summonses.

On Monday, June 10, at 4 a.m., P.O. Ben Wuelfing responded to North Midland Ave. on the report of a suspicious individual lurking near parked cars. Wuelfing found the man and asked for his identification. While he was producing same, the officer noted he was also in possession of ID — a debit card and a driver’s license — that apparently did not belong to him, police said. “Again, he said he had found it,” Dowie reported.

“Again,” because the suspect was the same Marc Prezioso taken into custody on the 8th.

Arrested on a charge of being in possession of lost or mislaid property, Prezioso was searched and this time allegedly found to be in possession of a hypodermic needle, resulting in another charge. After booking, he was released on a summons at about 7 a.m.

Two hours later, at 9 a.m., P.O. Tom Bannon went to an Oakwood Ave. residence on a report of an individual in a parked vehicle, who, according to the car’s owner, was not authorized to be in the car. Arrested on a charge of criminal trespass was . . . Marc Prezioso.

This time, a judge, advised that Prezioso had been nabbed three times in less than 48 hours, and set bail at $2,500. “And then he was packed off to the Hudson County Jail,” Dowie said.

Other recent reports from the KPD blotter included the following:

June 8

At 9:15 p.m., P.O. Chris Levchak went to the Wawa on Harrison Ave. on the report of a suspicious individual. Levchak reportedly found a man fitting the description sitting on the curb and in “a semi- conscious state.” The officer also reportedly saw a syringe sticking out of the man’s pocket. Charged with alleged possession of a hypodermic needle was 30- year-old Kearny resident Matthew Genovesi. 

June 10

P.O. Giovanni Rodriguez responded to the Chase Bank on Kearny Ave. at 3:30 p.m. on a report of a potential customer attempting to open a checking account with phony identification.

When the officer arrived, she was told the suspect had fled, but she obtained a description, checked the area on foot, and found a female fitting that description in a nearby parking lot, police said.

Charged with identity theft, having a false government document and fraudulent use of a credit card was 31-yearold Brooklyn resident Jeanette Sahadeo.

June 11

At 10:15 a.m., P.O. Adriano Marques was dispatched to the 590 Tract, an industrial area off the Belleville Pike, where an Elizabeth resident claimed to have found his boat and trailer that has been stolen from Linden on June 5.

The owner said he had received information that his property might be in Kearny, and he located the 2001 28-foot HSX sport boat (named Jessica) in a locked, fenced-in area.

Sgt. Paul Bershefski contacted the owner of the site, who unlocked the gate, allowing police to confirm it was the Elizabeth man’s boat, Dowie reported. Police said the boat owner was able to describe specific items left in the vessel and, although the Jessica had been painted over since the theft, the serial number and hull number were confirmed, and the property was returned to him.

Dowie said the owner of the site where the Jessica was found is cooperating in the follow-up investigation to determine how and when the boat was put there.

June 13

At 11 p.m., P.O. Dean Gasser went to the Walmart store to effect the arrest of an employee accused of theft. According to the KPD, store security advised the officer that a cashier had twice, in the guise of giving change to a customer (who appeared to be an acquaintance), instead handed over “very large sums” of money.

The first incident reportedly occurred June 6, and at the end of the cashier’s shift, her till was found to be short by $1,144, police said. A few days later, she allegedly came up short by $2,769.

When she arrived at work on the 13th, she was confronted by store security, who reportedly had evidence on surveillance video.

Arrested was Jennifer Bautista, 24, of Newark, charged with theft and conspiracy.

The KPD Detective Bureau is working with Walmart security to identify the individual who was given the cash.

– Karen Zautyk

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