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Have you seen this alleged Nutley burglar?

NUTLEY — Police say they are investigating a diversion burglary that allegedly occurred on Fischer Ave. on Dec. 9. An elderly resident told police that a man banged on her front door at 3 p.m., Dec. 9, claiming there was […]


Help sought in cold case

By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  Somebody knows something. Six years ago, an 87-year-old man was deliberately run down by a car in a South Kearny parking lot and robbed while he lay helpless on the ground. He died of his injuries the next day. Authorities ruled the death […]

100G for Arena tax case

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  HARRISON –  Now that the state Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether the New York Red Bulls professional soccer team should pay taxes on the stadium and the land it occupies in Harrison, the town has hired an outside law firm to […]


Staffing Skyway fire-watch

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY – For the first time, members of the Kearny Fire Department will have a shot at off-duty pay, much like their counterparts at the Police Department have enjoyed for many years, although there is a sunset provision for the privilege. This opportunity […]


New No. 2 has seen it all

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  LYNDHURST –  The Lyndhurst Board of Education has revived the position of assistant superintendent, albeit on an interim basis, with the hiring of 50-year educator Jeffrey P. Feifer. Feifer, who came aboard Sept. 25, was appointed to serve “no more than 120 days,” to […]


New owner at Smile Centre


Dr. Blair Schachtel is the proud new owner of the well known dental practice, The Smile Centre, located at 837 Kearny Ave. in Kearny.

Dr. Schachtel graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a Doctorate of Medical Dentistry. He was born and raised in New Jersey and has been practicing dentistry for 18 years.

“I am excited and enthusiastic to have acquired this reputable dental practice in Kearny,” states Dr. Schachtel. “The practice has a long reputation in the community of providing exceptional quality dentistry and exceptional customer service to its many loyal patients. Most importantly, The Smile Centre still has the same friendly staff including Dr. Jeffrey Poirier and Dr. Sharon Jacobson.”

Should you be interested in meeting Dr. Blair Schachtel or any of the doctors of The Smile Centre for a complimentary consultation or second opinion, please call Alexis at 201/991- 1055 or email alexis@thesmileandimplantcenter.com. The Smile Centre offers convenient appointments including Saturdays. It offers a wide variety of multispecialty dental services including oral surgery, periodontics, general and cosmetic dentistry, dental implants, Zoom Teeth Whitening, Dentistry While Asleep with our own anesthesiologist on staff. The Smile Centre also offers Botox to look good and feel younger.


Dorothy A. Bailey 

Mrs. Dorothy A. Bailey, of Kearny, died on Saturday, Nov. 22. She was 79.

Relatives and friends may call at the Condon Funeral Home, 684 Kearny Ave., Kearny (condonfuneralhome.com) on Tuesday, Nov. 25, from 4 to 8 p.m. The funeral Mass will be celebrated by her nephew, the Rev. Stephen Carey, on Wednesday, Nov. 26, at 10:30 a.m. in St. Stephen’s Church, Kearny. Interment will follow in Holy Cross Cemetery.

Dorothy Bailey was on among the first residents of the Kearny Senior Residence where she was active socially in all events.

Dorothy was a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother as well as a loving sister. Surviving are two brothers. She was predeceased by seven other siblings. Also surviving are numerous nieces and nephews.

Carl J. Battista 

Carl J. Battista, 86, passed away peacefully on Nov. 18.

Born in Kearny, to Angelo and Michelina Battista, he was a resident of Kearny for 75 years before moving to Canal Walk in Somerset 11 years ago.

He was a proud 1946 graduate of Kearny High School. Carl was employed for 46 years as a partnership owner with his brother, Joe, of A. Battista & Sons Inc., a wholesale banana dealership in the Newark Farmers Market before retiring in 1992.

After retiring, he was a learned attendant for the Board of Elections in Kearny and Somerset for 25 years. He loved visiting Monmouth Park Racetrack during the summer months with his son, Carl. At Canal Walk he was an avid bocce player and also enjoyed playing in the Texas Hold ’em tournaments. He cherished time spent with his family and friends.

Mr. Battista was predeceased by his parents and his brothers, Rocco and Joseph. He leaves behind his beloved wife of 56 years, Dorothy, of Somerset; his children, Dr. Carl J. Battista and his wife, Bettianne, of Hillsdale; Donna Niro, and her husband, Nicholas, of Hillsborough; and Doris Ann Battista of Washington Township; his three grandchildren, Carl John III, Michael Owen, and Marisa Elizabeth Niro; his 95-year-old brother, Lewis T. Battista of Kearny, and many loving nieces and nephews.

Arrangements were by Hagan-Chamberlain Funeral Home, Bound Brook. A funeral Mass was held at St. Cecilia Church, Kearny, followed by entombment in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in his name to St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital: www.stjude.org

Blandina Iglesias Hermida 

Blandina Iglesias Hermida (Blandina Fernandez) died Nov. 18. She was 83.

Born in Spain, she lived in Kearny for many years.

Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. The burial will take place in Spain.

Blandina is survived by her husband Andres Fernandez Sr. She was the mother of Manuel, Jose, Rosa and Andres (Jr.) Fernandez. Sister of Pepe Iglesias, she is also survived by her grandchildren Andres III, Kelsie, Nicholas, Joell, Jose Jr., Andrew, Allison and Alexis Fernandez and one great-grandchild, CJ.

Her loving family wanted to share a beautiful poem about her:

“God saw her getting tired and a cure was not to be. So He put his arms around her and whispered, “Come to Me.”

“With tearful eyes we watched her slowly fade away. Although we loved her dearly, we could not make her stay.

“A golden heart stopped beating, hard working hands at rest.

“God broke our hearts to prove to us he only takes the best.

You will always be in our hearts.”

In lieu of flowers, please consider Vitas Hospice, 70 S. Orange Ave., Suite 210, Livingston, N.J. 07039 or call 973- 994-4738.

Eileen A. Waropay 

Eileen A. Waropay, 71, of Quakertown, Pa., formerly of Kearny, died Nov. 15 in St. Luke’s Hospice House, Bethlehem, Pa.

Born in Jersey City, she was the daughter of the late Newton and Frances “Edna” (Edwards) Hook. Eileen was known for her quick wit and great sense of humor. She enjoyed reading, loved music, and was a member of the Sunshine Singers. She was an active member of the Analomink Methodist Church in Analomink, Pa., before moving to Quakertown.

In addition to her soul mate Francis F. Caputo Sr., she is survived by two sons, Kevin (Theresa), of Shamong, and Drew (Sharon) of Abington, Pa.; four grandchildren, Meredith, Mikayla, Catherine and Clare; sister Phyllis Bruce (Bob) of Dover, Del.; and a sister-in-law, Marie Rhein of Kearny. She is predeceased by two brothers, Dr. Robert Hook and Detective Kenneth Rhein.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 1, at the Quakertown United Methodist Church, 1875 Freier Road, Quakertown, Pa. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Luke’s Hospice Development Office, 801 Ostrum St., Bethlehem, Pa. 18015.

90 displaced by three-alarm Kearny fire on Sunday

Beech Street Fire (2)

Above: A woman awaits rescue on a fire escape at a Beech St. fire Sunday afternoon in Kearny. She was ultimately brought to safety without incident. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Taylor via Youtube).

By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent


A three-alarm fire in an apartment building on Beech St. at the Belleville Pike on Sunday afternoon displaced 90 residents, but everyone was evacuated safely, authorities reported.

Fire Chief Steve Dyl said the blaze broke out in a third-floor apartment at 425 Beech St. at 3:58 p.m. and was under control by 4:57 p.m. Along with the KFD, firefighters from North Arlington, Harrison, Jersey City and North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue were at the scene.

One woman was rescued from a fire escape by KFD Capt. Gary Dye and FF Bill Crockett. Other occupants of the 41-unit, five-story brick building were evacuated, many with the help of Kearny Police Officers Frank West and Chris Levchak, Dyl noted.

No injuries were reported, and firefighters said “multiple cats” were also rescued.

Photo Courtesy of Andy Taylor via Youtube. A resident is helped down on a ladder at a Beech St. fire Sunday afternoon. Photo Courtesy of Andy Taylor via Youtube. A resident is helped down on a ladder at a Beech St. fire Sunday afternoon.

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Taylor via Youtube. A resident is helped down on a ladder at a Beech St. fire Sunday afternoon.

One of the factors aiding the evacuation was the existence of fire doors in the building’s hallways, Dyl said.

“These helped control the smoke,” allowing residents to escape safely, he said.

The Red Cross found temporary shelter for five of the displaced tenants, but the rest reportedly were staying with friends or relatives. As of Monday, no one had yet been allowed to return, pending a safety inspection.

The unit where the fire started was severely damaged, Dyl said, with some minor damage to the apartment above.

The cause is under investigation.

Video of yesterday’s Beech Street fire

Thank you, Andy Taylor, for the great video.


Harrison defeats Haddon Township, 4-0, to win 25th NJSIAA state soccer title in school history (Photo by Jim Hague)

The Harrison High School boys’ soccer team pose with the NJSIAA Group I state championship trophy, after defeating Haddon Township, 4-0, Sunday afternoon at Kean University in Union. It marked the 25th NJSIAA state championship in the school’s rich and storied history, adding to their state and national records. It was the first time since 2008 that the Blue Tide earned a state title. Senior Ali Lahkrif increased his single season school scoring record to 37 goals in the process, as the Blue Tide avenged defeats in the overall state title game in 2012 and the state semifinals last year. For more about the Blue Tide’s latest state title, read Jim Hague’s reports from the state title game in the Observer sports section.

This week’s e-Edition, classifieds are now posted


This week’s e-Edition and classifieds are now posted. We apologize for the delay.

Blood appointed


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


Take away the “acting” title: the Kearny Board of Education has formally installed Patricia Blood as its official superintendent of schools.

The board took the action at a special meeting held last Thursday night at the Lincoln School.

The vote was 6-0, with three members absent: John Leadbeater, John Plaugic and Dan Esteves.

Since January 2014, Blood served as acting superintendent while her predecessor Frank Ferraro was placed on an involuntary leave by the board majority which brought tenure charges against him but then dropped the matter after both sides agreed to a settlement deal with Ferraro resigning this month

The board approved a new five-year contract for Blood that provides an annual salary of $167,500 – the same as her predecessor – and that runs from Nov. 15, 2014 to June 30, 2019, subject to its approval by the Hudson County Executive Superintendent of Schools.

Afterwards, The Observer asked board president Bernadette McDonald why the board opted to do the appointment at a sparsely attended special meeting. Said McDonald: “It’s the first meeting that we had a chance to deal with it after the Ferraro business.”

Blood holds an educational administrator’s certificate and is due to complete a state-required one-year mentorship program by year’s end to meet all her requirements for a permanent appointment as superintendent.

Asked whether the board had considered hiring an outside firm to undertake a search for a new chief school administrator, McDonald said: “We wanted to keep the continuity” with Blood at the helm.

“Everything went smoothly with the Lincoln School transition [from an elementary to middle school for grades 7 and 8] and Patti has proved she’s dedicated to Kearny and the children,” McDonald added.

Asked if the board had considered restoring the assistant superintendent of schools post, which was eliminated from the budget in the wake of the departure of its former occupant Debra Sheard, Mc- Donald said that was unlikely, given that, “things seem to be working so well now [under an administrative reorganization orchestrated by Blood] but maybe in the future, unless we think of another position to put in there.”

Blood started as a teacher in the Kearny public schools in 1977 and continued in that role until 1986 when she relocated to Monmouth County to raise her children but then resumed her educational career with the Freehold Regional High School district as a teacher and then assistant principal. After 13 years there, she returned to Kearny as director of curriculum for grades 6 to 12 in December 2010.

“I’m very excited to continue the work we’ve begun [in Kearny] and move forward to provide Kearny student with the best possible education and I appreciate the confidence the Board of Education has placed in me as well as the support I have received from administrators, teachers and staff members,” Blood told The Observer.

Blood said that this school year, she’ll be monitoring the implementation of a new reading program in the elementary schools. And, on other fronts, she said: “We’ve been getting great feedback on our new writing program, we’re on a very busy path for the administration of the [new state-mandated] PARCC [Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College & Careers] test in March and I hope to be moving forward soon on our long-delayed [high school] construction project.”

On that last topic, the board heard a presentation from the Wayne architectural firm DiCara Rubino, hired earlier this year to scale down design specifications on the completion of the north building of the high school after the only bid received for the job came in well over the board’s estimate.

DiCara Rubino’s proposal called for a reduction of the planned atrium, from five to two stories, and a relocation of a new faculty lounge; however, none of the educational space – including the 20-plus classrooms and culinary classroom/cafeteria – would be reduced.

The architects were slated to repeat their power-point presentation at the board’s regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 17, at Lincoln School, beginning at 6 p.m. with an executive session, and re-convening at 7 p.m. for the public portion.

Michael DeVita, the board’s business administrator/ secretary, told The Observer that it would likely take “several months” before the revised specifications would be ready for the board to advertise for a new round of bids.

Kearny unveils new monument


By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 


On May 27, 1922, an estimated 25,000 people gathered in the streets around the small park where Kearny Ave. and Beech St. meet, to witness Gen. John J. Pershing personally dedicate the towering granite monument honoring the Kearny men who died in the Great War.

Pershing had been commander of the American Expeditionary Forces during the “War to End All Wars.” We all know how that turned out.

Ensuing years saw Monument Park add memorials to those who died in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. And last week, it became home to yet another, dedicated to the military victims in the War on Terrorism.

Carved from Vermont gray granite, like the original, it bears only one date: 2001. Which marks the beginning of the battle whose end no one dare predict.

Thus far, it carries only one name, that of Staff Sgt. Edward Karolasz, a Kearny soldier killed in Iraq nine years ago this week. He was just 25.

Its official dedication took place Nov. 11 during the annual Veterans Day ceremony sponsored by American Legion Post 99, with support from the VFW and Marine Corps League. Among those attending were the soldier’s mother, Krystyna Karolasz, and his sisters Kristine Lancha and Donna Kornas.

Mayor Alberto Santos, standing before the WWI pillar, noted, “Our community has assembled at this monument for the last 92 years — at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” — which was when the guns finally fell silent on the Western Front.

There was optimism then, but as Santos noted, “That optimism, that hope for peace, was shattered just a generation later.”

What followed was a century of conflicts, including the overarching Cold War. Then on Nov. 9, 1989, the world witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall — prime symbol of the Cold War. “And like before,” Santos said, “we spoke of peace, a lasting peace. But that was not to be.”

After America was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, we took up arms against terrorists and the regimes that harbor them. The new battlefields have stretched from Iraq to Aghanistan to Pakistan to Syria to the Sahara and beyond. The newest enemy to make its murderous appearance is ISIS. What will be the next cowardly extremist group seeking blood? And where will it be spawned?

Fortunately, our nation has always harbored the brave and the courageous: freedom-cherishing men and women willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in the name of that freedom.

The Nov. 11 ceremony was about them, too. The living and the dead. To each of whom we owe an eternal debt of gratitude.

How many of us pass Kearny’s Monument Park on a daily basis, and never give it a thought? Next time you drive by, you might offer a prayer, or just a simple “Thank you.”

You might even stop to take a close-up look at all the monuments.

Including the one unveiled just last week.

You will note that it bears only one name. But it has room for more.

God willing, that space will remain blank.

Nutley cops hunt driver in fatal hit-run

A photo (above) of the suspect van was released Nov. 19 by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.



Nutley police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating the motor vehicle that struck and killed a 77-year-old woman on Centre St. on Saturday morning and fled the scene.

Chief Thomas Strumolo said the victim, Ernesta Fernandez of Nutley, had been crossing Centre near Ravine Ave. at 11:40 a.m. when she was hit.

One witness described the vehicle as an older model, dark-colored Econoline van, possibly blue or black. The driver reportedly headed west on Centre St. and made a right turn onto Franklin Ave. Fernandez was found in the street and subsequently pronounced dead at University Hospital in Newark. P

olice are asking anyone who was in the area at the time and may have witnessed the accident to call the NPD at 973-284-4940 or the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force tips line at 1-877-847- 7432 or 1-877-TIPS-4-EC .

The Essex County Sheriff’s Office Crime Stoppers Program is offering up to $5,000 for information leading to an arrest.

– Karen Zautyk

Cop promotions upcoming


Kearny Police Chief John Dowie, who has repeatedly warned that his ranks are being stretched thin with a recent spate of retirements, will be getting some relief.

Dowie came away from last Wednesday night’s Town Council caucus with a tentative sign-off on his proposal for five promotions: one lieutenant and four sergeants, Mayor Alberto Santos said.

Based on the current promotional lists certified by the state, the lieutenant rank would go to current Sgt. Peter Caltabellotta, while the four new sergeants look to be current Officers Joseph Vulcano, Scott Traynor, John Corbett and Len Reed.

Before the chief’s recommendation can be implemented, however, the state monitor assigned to Kearny must sanction it, Santos said.

If he got the requested promotions, Dowie told the mayor and council members, he would then have enough personnel to staff the South Kearny Police Precinct on a 24-hour-a-day basis.

And, Dowie advised, filling in those ranks – while, at the same time, preparing to hire more rank-and-file cops – should help trim the massive overtime in the Police Department, which has topped $1 million for the year to date, according to town CFO Shuaib Firozvi.

Another sales point the chief served up was that additional four sergeants would bring that rank up to one below the optimum number of 19 called for in the Police Department’s Table of Organization while increasing the number of captains to the T.O. standard of nine.

Sergeants currently earn about $124,000 a year, plus health benefits, while lieutenants collect about $140,000, plus benefits. Santos and Dowie said the town should see some savings in the long run, however, because under the current PBA contract, it will take two years for superiors named after Jan. 1, 2013, to reach their maximum pay level.

The mayor and council have agreed in principle to hire up to 10 more rank-and-file cops, according to Dowie, who said the town should also see some savings down the road because it now takes 12 years for officers to reach their maximum pay grade.

A newly issued appointment list, as certified by the state Civil Service Commission, for police officer in Kearny triggered frustration voiced by a member of the Kearny PD during the public portion of Wednesday’s council meeting.

Det. Steven Podolski, a veteran member of the police force, spoke on behalf of 10 Kearny residents who applied to take the state Civil Service test for police officer and were upset about the process which involves a procedure mandated by U.S. District Court, dating from 1991, which stems from an NAACP lawsuit alleging that Kearny’s municipal hiring practices were discriminatory.

The court stipulated initially that, to achieve “racial diversity” in its employee mix, Kearny was compelled to establish an applicant pool drawn from residents of Kearny and Essex County. Kearny challenged that pool as too broad and unfair to its residents and in 2002 the court modified the territorial pool to Kearny and Newark residents.

Earlier this year, Santos said, things became muddled when in anticipating of hiring more cops, Kearny asked Civil Service to certify an updated appointment list and, in response, the mayor said, the agency inadvertently issued a Kearny resident-only list, reportedly containing the names of 75 Kearny residents as potential hirees.

Then, the mayor said, the agency ended up retracting that list and issued a new list with the names of only 16 Kearny residents and the balance from Newark. Some of the contingent that showed up Wednesday at Town Hall are no longer on the list while a few now find themselves farther down on the list, Podolski told the governing body.

Podolski reasoned that it makes more sense for the town to appoint Kearny residents, since cops who live in town will have more of a stake in keeping the town safer and will be more likely to spend their money in town.

“We agree that it’s important to hire local residents for security and economy reasons,” said Santos, “but unless there are changes in federal law that would allow us to challenge the consent decree that obligates us, we can’t ignore it.”

Meanwhile, the town is responding to other public safety needs. On Wednesday, the council voted to introduce a $2 million bond ordinance that would earmark $600,000 for the “acquisition of patrol sport utility vehicles with equipment” and $300,000 for “computer infrastructure and equipment” for the Police Department, along with $350,000 for “equipment and turnout gear” for the Fire Department.

Other projects to be funded from the bond – which must be approved by the state Local Finance Board – include “acquisition/installation of fiber optic and computer infrastructure town-wide” for $400,000 and acquisition of a “dump truck, a pickup truck and a utility van” for the Public Works Department.

The council also authorized the Fire Department to apply to the federal Assistance to Firefighters grant program for $950,000 toward the cost of a new aerial ladder truck and for $600,000 to subsidize acquisition of more than 40 self-contained oxygen packs. Each would require a 25% local match. Fire Chief Steve Dyl said the new rig would replace a 1990 truck which has required more maintenance each year. He said the department’s current oxygen packs are “over 20 years old” and need to be replaced.