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Nutley police blotter: MV stop leads to drunken-driving arrest

April 12 A motor vehicle stop at a Franklin Ave. location, at 1:54 a.m., resulted in the arrest of Sergio Landeros, 26, of Garfield, who was issued summonses charging him with DWI and careless driving and released pending a court […]

1.7B to clean Passaic’s lower 8 miles

  NEWARK – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last Friday, April 11, that it plans to undertake the most costly public waterway cleanup in its 43-year history. At a press conference held at Newark Riverfront Park, EPA Regional […]

Lost medal recovered from Pa.

  By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – For more than two decades, it sat – carefully preserved – in a Pennsylvania residence. Next month, however, the Purple Heart medal awarded posthumously to a long-dead Kearny serviceman will be returned […]

Feds won’t pay for more firefighters

Two neighboring West Hudson communities have been shut out in their bids to snag federal funding to hire more firefighters. Kearny Fire Dept. and Harrison Fire Dept. each applied for a share of SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency […]

Tribute to a teacher

  By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – Fred Kuhrt died doing what he loved best – giving of himself to others. His former employer, the Kearny Board of Education, is honoring the automotive technology instructor’s selflessness by establishing the […]

Play ball! (and politics, too)

  By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent NORTH ARLINGTON – Saturday’s opening ceremony for the North Arlington Recreation Girls’ Softball season took on a political twist. Mayor Peter Massa, a Democrat, complained that he was snubbed by League President Mike Tetto […]


‘Green’ infusion for Community Garden


Photo courtesy David Mach At award ceremony, from l., are Jenny and David Mach; PSE&G Service Vice President Richard T. Thigpen, PSE&G Public Relations Director Art Gida, PSE&G Sustainability Manager Angela Ortiz, Sustainable Jersey Board Chair Pam Mount, and Sustainable Jersey Co-Director Randy Solomon.

Photo courtesy David Mach
At award ceremony, from l., are Jenny and David Mach; PSE&G Service Vice President Richard T. Thigpen, PSE&G Public Relations Director Art Gida, PSE&G Sustainability Manager Angela Ortiz, Sustainable Jersey Board Chair Pam Mount, and Sustainable Jersey Co-Director Randy Solomon.

The Kearny Community Garden is getting flush with green … cash, that is. On March 12, the citizen volunteer-town endorsed effort became one of 34 such ventures from around the state to be awarded $2,000 Sustainable Jersey Capacity-Building grants by the Public Service Electric & Gas Foundation. Since 2009, Sustainable Jersey has given out more than $1.3 million in grants to municipalities in the Garden State to help make their communities more environmentally friendly.

Mayor Alberto Santos said: “Year 2 for Kearny’s Community Garden is off to a great start. Last year our green team members worked very hard learning to cultivate our organic, straw bale garden. I am pleased to say that this year, the organizers’ plan is to expand the project and invite more residents to become urban gardeners growing their own vegetables and flowers in our straw bales. We have already had 45 new families sig up to participate this coming year. Thanks to this grant, we will be able to continue the team’s mission of beautifying, educating and nourishing the community.”

David Mach, a co-founder of the garden, located next to the butterfly garden, in Riverbank Park on Passaic Ave., just south of Midland Ave., said: “There was so much interest … that we had to expand to meet all of the demand.”

And that demand, said co-founder and spouse Jenny Mach, meant that, “All of the 250 spaces in this year’s garden sold out in only four days.” Among this year’s new entries, which include “all different ages, including the local Cub Scouts, professions and ethnic groups,” said David, adding: “We anticipate about 200 people working in the garden this coming season. Last year, the group began with a 10-member hard core unit and it was joined by another 10 down the road.

In an effort to accommodate the growing numbers, Jenny said the organizers are “compiling a waiting list for those interested in case space opens up.”

David Mach said the grant money would help offset the cost of acquiring “more straw bales, potting soils and organic fertilizer than we needed our first season” and “will ensure this growing season is even more prosperous.”

Additionally, some of the money will be used “for advertising” to help promote the garden, said Davis. The hope is that the grant can be stretched to get two years’ use out of it, he added.

How does the Kearny garden grow? Under the rules, “Every family or group that signs up gets at least five bales for $20 to grow what they want,” said David, so long as they agree to use “no chemical fertilizers or pesticides.” A big group like the scouts may get additional bales, he said.

To help keep the garden self-sustaining, without it becoming a drain on local government resources, David said, “We plan to have one or two cash crops. We’ve been thinking of Indian beans, for example, or pumpkins.”

One new wrinkle planned for this growing season is the placement of landscape fabric mats under the straw bales to prevent the spread of plant roots, David said.

So far, about 400 municipalities spread among the state’s 21 counties have registered to become Sustainable Jersey grant recipients.

“The impact that these projects will make in New Jersey is incredible,” said Pam Mount, who chairs Sustainable Jersey’s board of trustees. “Aiding towns and Green Teams to achieve their sustainability goals by funding green initiatives will have a ripple effect that will benefit us all.”

Kearny residents interested in learning more about the garden or who want to join the waiting list are invited to contact the organizing committee at KearnyCommunityGarden@ gmail.com and/or “like’’ the enterprise by visiting www. facebook.com/KearnyCommunityGarden.

– Ron Leir

Thoughts & View: ‘Hereby you are notified . . . .’

Uh-oh. I’m in deep trouble. The following letter popped up in my email the other day:

Notice of appearance,

Hereby you are notified that you have been scheduled to appear for your hearing that will take place in the court of St. LouisTampa in April 19, 2014 at 09:45 am.

You are kindly asked to prepare and bring the documents relating to the case to court on the specified date.

The copy of the court notice is attached to this letter, please, download and read it thoroughly.

Note: The case may be heard by the judge in your absence if you do not come.

Yours very truly,


Clerk of court

I’m supposed to appear in court and I have no idea what I have done.

What documents am I to prepare and bring?

And to which court? St. Louis or Tampa? Or is there a place called St. LouisTampa of which I am unaware?

I need to make flight reservations. I need to get a lawyer!

Or not.

This is a scam.

(One of the clear giveaways — as in a lot of scam emails — is the abysmal English.)

Even though I recognized it for what it was, I was dying to know what the attached “court notice” could possibly say, but no way would I open the attachment.

It and the original email have been deleted.

Part of me is worried simply because I opened the email, but hopefully, hackers would gain access only via the download. Because hackers are exactly who are behind this con job.

I Googled “court appearance email,” and up popped links to various news stories, including one that ran in the N.Y. Daily News in January. Aside from the court date, place of appearance and name of the “clerk,” the scam missive it quoted is word-for-word the one I got.

Apparently, this relatively new scam mail was launched late in 2013 and is now infesting computers nationwide. And the big danger is the attachment. The News notes, “ . . . those who click out of curiosity or concern download a virus that can crash their computers.” (Ha! My instincts were correct! For once.)

The article also explains: “The malware attached in the email strike . . . reportedly subjects victims to having their passwords and files stolen and can turn a computer into a ‘botnet’ machine that spreads viruses far and wide unbeknownst to its owner.”

I have no idea what a “botnet” is, but I know I don’t want one.

I must also note that my email provider is a lot sharper than I. It automatically sent the letter to the spam file.

Email scamsters are forever coming up with new tricks. There is much info on the internet regarding how to recognize the phonies, so you can educate yourself if you are not email savvy.

Among the informational sites is http://www.us-cert. gov/, the webpage of the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Term, a division of the Department of Homeland Security. It has pages of advice, so I’ll quote just one bit, which can apply to all the scams:

“Regard Unsolicited Email with Suspicion”

“Don’t automatically trust any email sent to you by an unknown individual or organization. Never open an attachment to unsolicited email. Most importantly, never click on a link sent to you in an email. Cleverly crafted links can take you to forged web sites set up to trick you into divulging private information or downloading viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.”

Scamsters, evil creatures that they are, prey upon the trusting. Be aware. And ever wary.

– Karen Zautyk


A story in the March 12 issue of The Observer misidentified Joseph Longo as president of the Belleville Board of Education. Longo is a member of the board. John Rivera is the board president. The Observer regrets the error.

9/11 steel destined for Schuyler firehouse

Photo courtesy Borough of North Arlington

Photo courtesy Borough of North Arlington



It wasn’t unanimous but at least North Arlington now has selected a place to put its 9/11 memorial steel but is still unsure how much money it will need to do that.

Democrats Al Granell, Tom Zammatore and Mark Yampaglia were joined by Republican Dan Pronti in voting for the Schuyler Ave. firehouse site. Republicans Rich Hughes and Joseph Bianchi favored Zadroga Field, further south on Schuyler where there is an existing 9/11 memorial along a cyclone fence at the entrance to the property.

The council directed borough engineer Tom Lemanowicz to report back at the April 10 meeting with a cost estimate for installing the 12.5-foot-long section of steel recovered from the WTC ruins and gifted by the Port Authority of N.Y. & N.J. to the borough’s Volunteer Fire Department, which applied for it as a tribute to firefighters who lost their lives responding to the disaster.

Granell, the council president, told The Observer, “I’m happy that a location that serves to respect the first responders as well as the residents of North Arlington has been chosen. The 9/11 beam has been in the DPW [garage] for four years since it was first received. It will finally have a resting place viewing its original home and skyline. [It is] a location that does not put the residents at risk and one that will allow those who wish to visit the memorial unfettered access to the memorial.”

For Zammatore, the notion of putting the beam at Zadroga Field creates too many logistical problems: “the traffic, we’d have to reposition the fence, build a retaining wall, add room for parking. The fence should be left as it is.” At the Schuyler firehouse, he said, “there’s a beautiful plot of land on the east side of the parking lot where there’s room for people to park and congregate. There may be some landscaping added.”

A final design for the firefighters memorial has yet to be worked out, he added.

Granell said that since there is no money budgeted to pay for the installation, the borough would consider the possibility of applying to Home Depot for a “grant” program that provides a credit card entitling the cardholder to $5,000 worth of purchases that could be applied toward the installation.

In other business, the council:

• Heard tenants of the Canterbury Gardens apartments on Ridge Road gripe about issues involving plumbing, heating, vacant apartments, questionable work being done. Council instructed the borough administrator to coordinate a visit to the complex by the borough’s construction official and health officer to investigate and take appropriate action.

• Referred to Police Chief Louis Ghione a request by Richard Tarantula, leader of the 60-member Citizens Emergency Response Team, for a $10,000 stipend to help pay for items like reflective vests, coats, rain gear.

• Got a report from the borough engineer complaining about the allegedly poor quality of work by a contractor hired by the Passaic Valley Water Commission to patch up roadways after utility repairs that, he said, can hasten deterioration of the streets involved.

And Mayor Peter Massa swore in Michele Stirone as the new borough recreation director.

Stirone, a controller/property manager for an Elmwood Park consulting firm, is a cofounder/ director of the North Arlington Starz Cheerleading Competition Team. She has also served as advisor to the local girls’ cheerleading squad for five years and as Team Mother for the Junior Vikings football league for six years. Her son Christopher, 12, plays on local football, wrestling and baseball teams and her daughter Gianna, 9, plays softball and is a member of the borough’s recreational and competitive cheerleading teams.

– Ron Leir

Convicted of impersonating a cop

Photo courtesy ECPO Peter Repoli

Photo courtesy ECPO
Peter Repoli


So, a guy walks into a pizzeria and says to the staff, “I’m a sheriff’s officer . . .” It sounds like the start of a bad joke, except it’s real life and the unfunny joke is on the guy, Peter Repoli, 54, of Nutley.

Last week, after a twoday trial in Newark, a jury convicted Repoli of impersonating an Essex County Sheriff’s officer, and he now faces up to 18 months in state prison, Acting County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced.

According to Murray’s office, Repoli went to Santini’s Pizzeria on Franklin Ave. in Nutley on Jan. 26, 2013, flashed a badge and told the workers he needed the address of someone he believed they knew. He threatened to arrest them if they did not provide it, and they said they would try to get the information by the next day.

Repoli returned the following day for the address. But when he left, the workers watched, and they saw him board a bus, not drive away in a sheriff’s car. They thought this a bit strange, so they Googled his name and discovered he had prior convictions.

Rightly believing that this, too, was strange, they alerted Nutley police, who subsequently arrested the “officer.”

On March 12, following the trial before Judge Martin G. Cronin in Superior Court, Newark, the jury found Repoli guilty of the impersonation.

“When someone flashes a badge and indicates he is an officer of the law, members of the public should able to rely on that representation,” said Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Pustay, who tried the case.

“Falsely presenting yourself as an officer is a serious offense and it is a crime taken seriously by this office.

For that reason, we will be seeking an 18-month sentence in New Jersey State prison, the maximum penalty,’’ Pustay said.

Sentencing is scheduled April 25 before Judge Cronin.

Murray’s office said Repoli has 10 prior convictions including robbery, terroristic threats, possession of a weapon and false imprisonment.

– Karen Zautyk

Nicosia drops out of municipal race

By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent


A bombshell has shaken up the Belleville municipal campaign and has left a glaring hole in the Working for Belleville/ Working for You ticket headed by Mayor Ray Kimble.

Councilman Michael Nicosia, one of the two at-large council candidates running on that slate, has abruptly dropped out of the race.

Nicosia, who is completing his second 4-year term on the council, submitted a letter to the Township Clerk’s Office Friday announcing that he was withdrawing from the campaign.

And it is too late for the campaign team to replace Nicosia on the ballot for the May 13 municipal election. A drawing for ballot positions was scheduled for this week. Aside from Kimble, Nicosia was also running with at-large Councilman Kevin G. Kennedy.

They’re opposed by the Belleville United! ticket, led by Marie Strumolo Burke, the current First Ward councilwoman now seeking the mayoralty, and at-large council aspirants Joseph V. Longo and William J. Freda, both of whom currently sit on the Belleville Board of Education.

In a phone interview with The Observer, Nicosia said that he felt badly for having abandoned his running mates at the 11th hour but, at the same time, he felt he had no choice.

“Four years ago, when I ran in the previous election for council, I felt like backing out because [government service] was consuming too much of my life,” Nicosia said.

This time around, Nicosia said, he thought it would be different. “I was really energized about revitalizing Washington Ave. and other things and the [campaign] battle started early, I got wrapped up in it and I convinced myself I can do this again.”

But during Thursday night’s meeting of the township Planning Board, of which he’s a member, he said he realized he was only fooling himself.

During a hearing on a subdivision application by the developer of a residential complex planned at Franklin Ave. and Mill St., Nicosia said he found himself drawn into a lengthy discussion about “agerestricted” (ages 55 and older) – which is what this developer will be building – versus “senior citizen” housing, “which had no bearing on the application,” and, then, arguing about the pros and cons of amending the plan to allow the developer to give back a piece of land to the township to make it easier for the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission to access the adjoining Second River for maintenance purposes. “And still, three [board members] voted against it,” he said. However, a majority carried the amendment forward.

“The night totally consumed me,” Nicosia said. “I said to myself, ‘What am I doing?’ It was an absolute awakening for me that I need to focus on my family.”

Nicosia, who will finish out his current term June 30, said he’s “most proud of having had a big impact on the [Belleville Municipal] football stadium, the fact that I got the price reduced by $200,000. And, on the new Friendly House, which is still unfinished, because of my negotiations with the contractor, I got us the air-conditioning and the water heater at no extra cost.”

In addition to his four terms on the Planning Board, Nicosia said he also put in time on the council’s development, recreation, public works and IT committees.

Asked would he’d miss most about the job, Nicosia said: “Definitely helping people solve their problems. That’s very gratifying.”

But he remains adamant about bidding farewell to the political arena. “I love this town but I love my family more,” he said.

KHS chums are ‘The Cartwheelers’

Photos courtesy Facebook Kevin McSorley (l.) and Stephan Dias performing at a recent gig.

Photos courtesy Facebook
Kevin McSorley (l.) and Stephan Dias performing at a recent gig.


By Anthony J. Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

Looking to follow in the success of other two-piece bands such as The White Stripes, Kearny’s own duo The Cartwheelers is looking to take on the local music scene by storm.

Comprised of fellow Kearny High School classmates Kevin McSorley on guitar and Stephan Dias on the drums, The Cartwheelers formed two years ago, hoping to create a larger band.

“We were looking for a bassist, but it was hard to get people to come in,” McSorley said. “It just didn’t work out.”

More than up for the challenge, McSorley and Dias formed The Cartwheelers and began working on the band’s first LP, “Hot Socks! It’s The Cartwheelers.”

McSorley said that the lack of a bassist made writing songs for the LP tough, with many original cuts of the song not deep enough.

“We were going for a raw sound,” McSorley said. “You have to try a little harder to make it sound fuller. Without a bass, it’s tough writing songs.”

McSorley said the band made up for it with a clearer sound with “a lot of reverb and delay.”

Friends told Mc- Sorley that the band sounded like, “surfing through dirty water,” explained later as being clean, but with a rough edge to it.

The duo’s closest popular comparison would be the once-married husband and wife duo of Jack and Megan White of the White Stripes.

While none of The Cartwheeler’s songs on the “Hot Socks” album is as hard hitting as The White Stripes hit “Seven Nation Army,” several of the Stripes’ songs, including “Fell in Love With a Girl,” are similar to The Cartwheelers.

On “I’ll Never Never Never Never See You Again,” McSorley’s guitar playing makes up for a lack of a bass guitarist. With a quick tempo and a clear, but crunchy guitar rhythm, the song provides an adrenaline rush from start to finish.

In other songs, such as “Latina Bus” and “Birds,” the band reverts to a more “California” style, with a relaxed rhythm similar to that found in a Sublime song. Dias’s drum play and McSorley’s simple guitar rhythm combine to make a track that is impossible not to bob your head to.

McSorley said that while performing without a bass player is certainly a challenge, it also creates its own set of advantages.

“It’s definitely a lot easier because we don’t have to worry about what the bass player is doing,” Mc- Sorley said. “I can just show (the songs) to Stephan and we can perform it.”

McSorley started playing guitar after he received the instrument for Christmas. After a short period, McSorley picked the instrument back up and self-taught himself.

“I was just kind of fiddling with it,” McSorley said. “I kind of taught myself, just only some brief lessons. No real formal schooling, just reading books and searching online.”

While the band has only played local smaller venues such as Donegal Saloon in Kearny and the Court Tavern in New Brunswick, they have taken crowds by surprise.

“People are shocked to see us two little guys up there,” McSorley said. “It’s nice to know that people like our music.”

The duo’s next goal is to work on a fulllength album, all the while having loftier goals in mind.

“We’re shooting to perform in Madison Square Garden, but that’ll probably take a while,” McSorley quipped. “Right now we have six unrecorded songs, but we’re shooting for like 10 to 12. It’d be cool to be playing festivals and stuff too.”

To listen to The Cartwheelers, visit their website at thecartwheelers.bandcamp. com. For more information, including future show dates, visit facebook.com/ TheCartwheelers.

KPD: He ran, but couldn’t hide

Just before midnight on March 11, security at Walmart reported to Kearny police that they were hunting for a shoplifter in the store’s parking lot. KPD headquarters notified patrol units. First to arrive at the scene was Sgt. Michael O’Neill, who saw a man attempting to conceal himself underneath a parked vehicle, police said.

After being ordered from his hiding place, the suspect stood up and, right in front of the officer, tried to discard a clear plastic bag containing suspected marijuana, Chief John Dowie reported.

Issack Perez, 32, of Newark, was subsequently charged with possession of the drug and drug paraphernalia — and also with shoplifting. According to security, he had tried to steal two television sets and some coffee, worth a total of $745.

Other recent reports from the KPD blotter included the following:

March 8

At 3:45 a.m., Officer Chris Medina came upon a car, its engine running, stopped in the middle of Beech St. near Midland Ave. The driver, police said, was sound asleep behind the wheel. After field sobriety tests, and an Alcotest at HQ , 42-year-old Jorge Nobre of Kearny was charged with DWI, DWI in a school zone, and obstructing other vehicles.

March 9

Officer Ben Wuelfing was on patrol on Bergen Ave. near Kearny Ave. at 5:30 a.m. when an eastbound car with Illinois plates reportedly passed him at a high rate of speed, with its headlights off. When Wuelfing stopped the vehicle, the driver produced a New Jersey license that turned out to be suspended, police said, and was allegedly found to be in possession of a small plastic bag of suspected cocaine. Pedro Carmenate, 21, of Hillside was charged criminally with possession of coke and drug paraphernalia and with being under the influence of a CDS. He was also given motor vehicle summonses for: careless driving; DWI; possession of a CDS in a motor vehicle; driving while suspended; driving an unregistered vehicle, and having fictitious plates.

March 10

At 10:20 p.m., Vice Unit detectives were at Kearny and Johnston Aves. when they spotted Frank Sullivan, 38, of Harrison, whom they confirmed to be the subject of an outstanding warrant from the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, police said. Sullivan was also reportedly in possession of a small bottle of liquid that proved to be ketamine. He was charged on the warrant and with possession of the drug and drug paraphernalia.

March 11

At 2:40 p.m, Officer Brian Wisely was on the 500 block of Elm St. when he saw Michael Boguszewski, 21, of Kearny, whom he confirmed to be the subject of an outstanding Kearny warrant, police said. Boguszewski was also allegedly found to be in possession of a pen apparently altered for the ingestion of a CDS. He was charged on the warrant and with possession of drug paraphernalia.

Vice detectives, on the 100 block of Tappan St. at 6:15 p.m., observed a pedestrian, Luis Vargas, 28, of Kearny, with whom they were familiar and who appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, police said. After they approached him, he allegedly gave them a fictitious name, but they knew it to be false, and a check revealed he was wanted by Orange on a $50,000 warrant for terroristic threats, police said. Vargas was charged on that warrant and with hindering apprehension.

March 12

At 5:40 p.m., a merchant on the 700 block of Kearny Ave. reported that a man had entered her establishment and asked to use the restroom, and when told it was not for public use, walked outside and smashed the front window. Officer Brian Wisely and Sgt. Anthony Limite searched the area and found 35-yearold Newark resident Sterling Crawford, who was police said was identified as the culprit. Crawford was charged with criminal mischief.

–Karen Zautyk

Business Review: Semiao: a lifetime of real estate experience

Photo courtesy Fernando Semiao Fernando Semiao speaks at Century 21 Iberian Conference in Portugal.

Photo courtesy Fernando Semiao
Fernando Semiao speaks at Century 21 Iberian Conference in Portugal.


By Anthony J. Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

For some, the real estate business is a way to make some quick money, or a hobby turned career. For Fernando Semiao, the real estate industry was something into which he was born and raised.

“When I was a teenager, my dad bought a couple homes and had them as rentals, so I learned from him,” Semiao said. “In 1988, my dad bought a property in Florida and made each of (us children) buy a lot and I thought it was pretty cool.”

Originally an engineer, Semiao found the job boring and turned to real estate, which soon became a passion.

“I had been stuck in the same job,” Semiao said. “When this came up, I took the real estate license test and I was able to have more fun.”

Semiao, now the owner and broker of Century 21 Semiao Associates, said that his attitude toward life has made him into one of the top real estate salesman in the area.

“I’ve always been a gogetter,” Semiao said. “That’s what made me successful in sales. I wanted to start building and selling houses and to have a good team of agents that would follow the standards that I set.”

For Semiao, the real estate business was never about the sales; rather, it was about helping families reach their goals.

“When I started in real estate, I never thought about selling real estate,” Semiao explained. “I was trying to help families achieve their dreams, and it’s still the same thing today.”

He continued, “I’m not trying to sell them anything. I’m just trying to get them where they want to be.”

With 19 years in the real estate industry, Semiao has built himself a stable business that survived one of the toughest housing markets in recent history.

“At the height of the market, we had five offices,” Semiao explained. “We downsized to two just to make sure we survived strong.”

Semiao believes that the business got through the tough times due to leadership and high standards.

“I like to consider myself having high standards,” Semiao said. “I’ve always been a leader, and I’ve been able to lead a team that can help others achieve their goals.”

That leadership has been recognized on several occasions, as, for example, when Semiao was named the 2013 Realtor of the Year by the Meadowlands Board of Realtors.

Semiao was additionally afforded the opportunity of speaking in Portugal at the Century 21 Iberian Conference, where he was the keynote speaker.

“That was an honor,” Semiao said of the experience. “I put in some good preparation to present the best practices I used in the states, both in taking care of clients and teaching agents to be professional.”

Semiao said the location of the conference added to the milestone.

“My dad emigrated from Portugal in 1965, and to be able to speak over there, it was an honor,” Semiao said.

A resident of Kearny for much of his life, Semiao, a Franklin School and Kearny High School alum, said that his experience in the area has also helped him.

Photo courtesy Fernando Semiao Semiao accepts 2013 Realtor of the Year award from Meadowlands Board of Realtors President Nancy Lastra.

Photo courtesy Fernando Semiao
Semiao accepts 2013 Realtor of the Year award from Meadowlands Board of Realtors President Nancy Lastra.


“Our offices definitely represent the towns that we service,” Semiao said. “We speak dozens of different languages and all the people live in the neighborhoods that they sell to. They know those neighborhoods.”

Semiao believes what separates him from other realtors in the area is his standards and his morality.

“What separates me is being honest, having integrity and keeping my word,” Semiao said. “It’s all more important than making a dollar. I won’t cross that line for anything. I believe I’ve built a reputation in the area and it keeps our repeat customers coming back.”

Century 21 Semiao Associates has two locations: in Kearny at 213 Kearny Ave. and in Lyndhurst at 761 Ridge Road. For more information, call the Kearny office at 201-991-1300 or the Lyndhurst office at 201-460- 8000.

Then & Now


Photo courtesy Kearny Public Library

Photo courtesy Kearny Public Library


Photo by Karen Zautyk

Photo by Karen Zautyk



What you’re looking at on the left is the Kearny Fire Department’s Truck No. 1, a 1920 American LaFrance model. Although the photo apparently was taken near the South Kearny firehouse, Truck 1 in the ‘20s, as now, was stationed at the KFD’s Midland Ave. house.

Unfortunately, we do not know the identity of the driver, but we have learned a lot about the vehicle. That large semicircular thing on the side is a life net. It unfolds into a full circle, 10 to 12 feet in diameter. Someone trapped on the upper floor of a burning building would jump into it, trusting in the strength of the 8 to 10 firemen who would be holding it far below.

The truck also is equipped with hoses, fire extinguishers, axes, ladders of varying heights, life belts to be secured to the ladders, a battering ram, a sledgehammer, and long metal hooks that were used to pull down plaster ceilings (hence the term “hook-and-ladder” truck). Behind the driver is the bell that would be rung when returning from an alarm and below it is a row of leather helmets. And where would the crew sit?

They wouldn’t. They’d stand on the side platforms and hang on as the truck raced to a fire. At right, is the current aerial ladder Truck 1 at its Midland Ave. home. It was made by a company called E-1. American LaFrance, launched in the mid-19th century, was for generations the premier manufacturer of fire apparatus in the U.S., but, like other businesses, it eventually fell on hard times. On Jan. 20, 2014, it announced it was ending operations.

– Karen Zautyk