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23-year-old Nutley man charged with sexually assaulting 14-year-old girl

A 23-year-old Nutley man has been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting and endangering the welfare of a 14-year-old girl, Nutley police say. Jonathan Matos was taken into custody by police on Friday, Oct. 10, on Spring Street, and is […]

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Bloomfield’s Cunningham on watch in the Indo-Asia Pacific region

Quartermaster Seaman Fayden Cunningham, of Bloomfield, assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89), stands watch at night in the bridge. Mustin is currently on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting regional security and […]

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NAPD: Don’t fall for phone scams

North Arlington residents have reported to police that they’ve received phone calls, mail and email from people reporting to be from the IRS and other governmental agencies. The caller will report delinquencies  in paying taxes, credit card bills or make a […]

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2nd Harrison hotel

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide opened its 14th Element hotel in Harrison last Thursday with members of the development team pedal-powering a virtual ribbon-cutting at the new location, 399 Somerset St., just off Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. South. Starwood CEO Fritz van Paasschen told visitors that that the company is “looking to […]

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A first for Kearny VFW Post

By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  When Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1302 elected its new commander in May, it also made local history. Jennifer M. Long, who was installed in office at the state VFW convention in June, is the first woman to head a […]

 
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Remembering a local hero

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

 

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

By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY– 

The following account of an air battle in France nearly 100 years ago is from Edgar Gorrell’s “History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, 1917-1919”:

“It was on 2 September that the 148th [Aero Squadron] suffered its greatest losses of the war in one disastrous patrol. “

A superior number of Fokkers were attacking several artillery observation planes. The 148th, knowing it was their duty to protect the observation planes, engaged the Fokkers, who were ready for the fight.

“The squadron attacked with five aircraft against 13 or 14 Fokkers, and soon the Germans, all good pilots, had most of the 148th’s [Sopwith] Camels in distress. Additional Fokkers then appeared out of the clouds until there were at least 20 of them. . . .” The Germans “. . . shot down all five of the American aircraft.

“One pilot performed a crash-landing on the British side of the line and was unhurt, however not a word was heard from the other four. Over a month later, it was reported that three of the pilots had crashed in enemy territory and were prisoners of war.

“The fourth was wounded and later died.”

If you are wondering what all this has to do with Kearny, the answer is:

Everything.

That fourth pilot was Lt. Joseph Edwin Frobisher Jr., a son of Kearny, and today, Sept. 10, is the anniversary of his death in 1918. He was just 22 years old.

When we visited American Legion Post 99, the Joseph E. Frobisher Jr. Post, to write about its 95th anniversary last month, we started learning his story, and we knew we needed to share it.

As a history lover, we cherish the chance to put a face to a name, to tell something of why that name means so much more than an inscription on a war memorial.

At the Post headquarters on Belgrove Drive, Commander Keith McMillan led us over to a sepia photograph, its wooden frame surmounted by a small cloth badge — U.S. Air Service wings. The wings from Frobisher’s uniform.

The Frobisher family bequeathed some of the pilot’s personal effects and papers, along with his military foot locker, to Post 99, which is the trusted custodian of these items and, more importantly, of his memory.

Among these treasures, not a word used lightly, are a number of letters, including two to the Frobishers from their son’s commanding officer, 1st Lt. (and later, Capt.) Morton L. Newhall

Photo by Karen Zautyk Frobisher’s foot locker, shipped home from France and donated to Post 99 by his family, holds photos, official papers, medals and mementos.

Photo by Karen Zautyk
Frobisher’s foot locker, shipped home from France and donated to Post 99 by
his family, holds photos, official papers, medals and mementos.

 

The letters are carefully typed on tissue-thin parchment — paper so fragile it is a wonder the typewriter keys did not punch right through. And they are still pristine white. Which is also a wonder, considering their age.

The first, dated Sept. 11, 1918, and sent from somewhere in France, reads as follows:

“It is with very deep regret that I have to inform you of the death of your son, Lieut. Joseph E. Frobisher, on September 10th from wounds received in aerial combat on Sept. 2nd.

“Two flights from our squadron were engaged that day, and Lt. Frobisher among others failed to return and was reported missing.

“On September 6th, his machine [plane] was seen by some of our men, not badly damaged on land, but recently regained from the enemy, and later your son was located in one of our hospitals, and we had hoped all would be well with him.

“Lieut. Frobisher conducted himself gallantly, as did all our men that day, against great odds. He performed his duties absolutely without fear, and had he been permitted to live, would have been one of the mainstays of our squadron. In landing his machine within our lines, altho [sic] sorely wounded, he performed a feat of which you may be justly proud.

“Mere sympathy is inadequate in such sorrow, but we wish to extend it to you for the loss of such a son.

“Lieut. Frobisher’s effects will be forwarded to you in due course.”

And after Newhall’s signature:

“P.S. Some officers from the Squadron and myself are attending your son’s funeral today.”

Photos by Karen Zautyk Lt. Frobisher’s grave in Kearny’s Arlington Cemetery

Photos by Karen Zautyk
Lt. Frobisher’s grave in Kearny’s Arlington Cemetery

 

Newhall was obviously concerned about not being able to give the family more information, for he wrote to Frobisher’s mother less than a month after the Nov. 11 Armistice ended the war — and wartime restrictions.

This letter was sent from Toul, France, on Dec. 6, 1918:

“My Dear Mrs. Frobisher,

“Your letter of Nov. 12 has just reached me and I greatly regret that strict censorship regulations would not permit me to give you full detaills at the time I first wrote you of the action in which your son, 2nd Lieut. Joseph E. Frobisher, received the wounds that afterwards proved fatal.

“On Sept. 2, 1918, at 11:45 a.m., two of our flights –your son’s led by Lieut. [Field] Kindley and another by Lieut. [Elliot] Springs — engaged a large number of Fokker biplanes that were attacking some artillery observation machines. The flight took place well over the line on the Arras Cambrai road, four miles southwest of Haricourt.

“A general mix-up or ‘dogfight’ ensued, and the original Fokkers were reinforced by more, badly outnumbering our two flights. The final result of the action was that three Hun machines were brought down, the rest were driven east over Cambrai and the artillery machines were left to carry out their important work unmolested.

“In other words, your son helped to carry out the very highest and most important function of a fighting pilot — namely, to drive the Hun out of the sky and permit our own observation machines to carry out their all-important mission.

“Your son did not return, and we could get no news of his whereabouts. It was not until the day of his death, Sept. 10th, that we got news that he had landed close to the front lines, wounded in the hip, back and right arm.

“The very fact that he landed his machine safely, though sorely wounded, showed the greatest courage and stamina, all of which was borne out by what the doctors told me at the hospital of his great fortitude and bravery.

It has always been a great source of regret to all of us that the C.C.S. [Casualty Clearing Station] did not notify us so we could have visited him in the hospital, but the fact is that the Cambrai battle was then at its height and they had not time to notify any units of the men they had.

“We were notified in time, however, for his Flight Commander, Lieut. Kindley and me to get to the funeral. Your son was buried in the Military Cemetery at Ligny, St. Flochel, Pas de Calais, near the town of St. Pol. The grave number is #12, Plot #4, Row D. All this information will be sent you in time, I am sure.

“I hope someday to meet you and Mr. Frobisher and will at that time give you any further details that I can.

Believe me,

Sincerely,

Morton L. Newhall”

It was later learned that Frobisher had managed to land his Sopwith in No Man’s Land, between the British and German lines, and British soldiers rescued him from the plane and got him to the CCS.

And just who was the gallant Joseph E. Frobisher Jr.?

The son of Emma Ferris Frobisher and Joseph E. Sr., he lived with them at 659 Belgrove Dr. and graduated from Kearny High School in 1912. In 1917, he earned a mechanical engineering degree from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.

On April 6, 1917, the United States entered the Great War, and it was that month that Frobisher enrolled in the aviation training program of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. He was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the spring of 1918 and, after a stateside bout with scarlet fever, he did combat training in England and joined the 148th Pursuit Squadron at its base in Lens, France.

Frobisher’s body was returned to Kearny from the military cemetery in France in April 1921. Services were held at Trinity Episcopal Church, Arlington, where he had been a member, and he was reburied in Woodlawn Cemetery in Queens, N.Y.

That, however, was not his final resting place. When Joseph Sr., then the mayor of Kearny, died in 1939, father and son were both interred in the family plot at Arlington Cemetery in Kearny.

As we did for the Post 99 anniversary story, we thank founding member Fred E. Portz for recording that information in a Post history. And we thank the current members, especially McMillan and Walter Tomasheski, for giving us access to the letters quoted above.

One more thing: Along with Frobisher’s uniform wings, the framed photo at Post 99 bears another treasure.

When McMillan showed us the picture, we noticed what looked like some sort of medal hanging from the bottom. “What’s that?” we asked. And McMillan said, “Those are his dog tags.”

After receiving permission, we reached up and touched them, as one might touch a relic.

And what we felt was reverance, for a life lost too young, a life lost in the service of his country, one life representative of the more than 116,000 Americans lost in combat in World War I.

Ferraro facing firing

Ferraro_web

By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

The Kearny Board of Education is seeking to fire Frank Ferraro, the superintendent it placed on an involuntary paid leave in January, by bringing tenure charges against him.

At a special meeting held Aug. 12, the BOE voted in closed session 7-1, with John Plaugic dissenting, to certify to the state Commissioner of Education the charges of “conduct unbecoming a superintendent and other just cause for dismissal” against Ferraro.

Ferraro had been initially notified July 23 that the charges were being filed and Ferraro responded through his attorney Andrew Babiak on Aug. 8. That set the legal stage for the certification vote last month.

At the August meeting, the board – by the same 7-1 margin – also voted to suspend Ferraro’s pay for 120 days, the time set by state school law for the Commissioner of Education – once apprised of the charges – to assign an arbitrator to review the charges and make a ruling.

If the arbitrator finds that the charges have merit, then Ferraro’s contract with the BOE – which runs through June 30, 2016 – would be voided but if the arbitrator dismisses the charges, Ferraro could reclaim his job, according to an attorney familiar with the case.

Documents filed by the BOE with the state Department of Education show that Ferraro has been charged with “misrepresentation of experience and credentials to the Board of Education of the Town of Kearny” and with “knowing violation of board policy and New Jersey Statute.”

On the first charge, the BOE disputes Ferraro’s representations that he met its requirements for “a minimum of 10 years’ classroom teaching experience at the elementary and/or the secondary level” by having taught in New York for five years and in Kearny High School for five years, from 1983 to 1988, as a fulltime permanent substitute of “Home and Careers, Special Education.”

Ferraro advised the BOE that New York State Department of Education granted him a School District Administrator’s certificate, partly on the basis of his having satisfied the NYSDA’s teaching requirement. The Department advised the BOE in November 2012 that Ferraro had satisfied a three-year deficiency in teaching experience by “teaching at Kearny H.S. in Kearny, N.J.”

But the BOE contends that Ferraro failed to meet New York’s teaching requirement because, according to its files, Ferraro only worked “a total of 236 days over five school years” in Kearny and that “Ferraro’s experience fails to meet New Jersey’s requirements for even one year of teaching experience.”

On the second charge, the BOE allege that Ferraro violated the Open Public Meetings Act, the Open Public Records Act and Board Policy by discussing maintenance employee Brian Doran’s personnel information with the employee’s mother and tried to discuss it with the employee’s brother, board member James Doran Jr., who, the BOE says, refused to do so “as it was improper.”

In an email, Babiak, a staff attorney with the N.J. Association of School Administrators, advised The Observer that he will be filing an answer to the now-certified tenure charges but he declined to comment beyond that.

Meanwhile, Somerville attorney Kevin Kovacs, who is representing Ferraro in connection with a wrongful termination suit filed by Brian Doran against the BOE and Ferraro, said that Ferraro properly dismissed Doran because of his criminal background but now, according to Kovacs, the BOE is looking to “bring [Doran] back to work” so he will be suing the BOE, on behalf of Ferraro, under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (commonly known as whistleblower act) on the grounds that the BOE’s efforts to fire Ferraro is “retaliatory action” for Ferraro firing Doran.

Ebola scare at postal center

By Ron Leir

 Observer Correspondent

 KEARNY – 

The U.S. Postal Service, in concert with the FBI, is undertaking a criminal investigation into an Ebola scare at its Logistics & Distribution Center, 1200 Harrison Ave., Kearny, which handles priority mail.

Postal inspectors and FBI agents responded to the USPS facility last Thursday morning after a postal employee reportedly found a container with the word “Ebola” written on it.

USPS spokesman George Flood said the container “wasn’t a mail piece. It was dropped in a postal hamper.” The item was sent out for testing “and it was determined to be benign,” he said. He declined to reveal the contents. At any rate, according to Kearny Health Officer Ken Pincus and Monique Davis, risk communicator/health educator with the Hudson Regional Health Commission, the container had neither powder or liquid contents. and the container was sealed and airlifted out, via FBI chopper, for testing to a lab in the D.C.area.

However, “At no point did anybody at the facility risk harm to their health,” Davis said. If they had, “they wouldn’t be in the building,” she added.

Pincus and Davis said they were on a conference call with the FBI and postal investigators on Thursday and briefed on the situation. Pincus and Davis arrived at the DVD facility at around 3:30 p.m. and remained there for the next five hours to update postal workers on facts about Ebola and to field their questions.

“The Kearny Health Department has the lead in a [Kearnybased] public health response so we both delivered what we call a ‘stand-up’ talk to each of the three shifts or a total of 379 employees,” Davis said.

After outlining the bare facts on what they’d been told about the incident, the health officials explained how, in those African countries where the deadly Ebola has been contracted, the disease is transmitted when someone comes into direct contact with a victim’s blood or body fluid or a victim’s corpse during burial preparations, Davis said.

“We emphasized that, unlike  the cases of anthrax contained in mailings reported in 2011, Ebola is not transmitted as an airborne virus,” said Davis.

Postal employees were given Ebola “fact sheets” listing more information about the disease and were advised they could also consult a state Department of Health website that provides “frequently asked questions” and answers on Ebola, Davis said.

Several employees “wanted to know about the chances of Ebola coming over here,” Davis said, and the health officials told them that the federal government has plans set in motion to monitor airport “exit screening” of passengers arriving on flights from countries where Ebola has struck. And, she said, the federal Center for Disease Control & Prevention “has quarantine stations set up at airports like Kennedy and Newark.”

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents have been trained to recognize Ebola symptoms, she said.

Employees were told that they’d be updated on the DVD incident as soon as more facts were known by investigators, Davis said.

A bridge too hot

Bridge_web

By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY –

If it’s true that bad things happen in threes, then Kearny’s bridges should be safe from fires for awhile. That is, at least the bridges in South Kearny.

Last week, a blaze on the PATH span over the Hackensack River required an all-hands response by the Kearny Fire Department and forced suspension of train service between Newark and Journal Square.

It was the third bridge fire in South Kearny in less than a month.

Kearny Fire Chief Steve Dyl said the alarm was called in at 2:57 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 2, and the blaze was out by 5:29 p.m. But during those hours, all KFD companies responded to the scene, where they were assisted by the Jersey City FD fireboat. Kearny’s boat, which had been vital in quenching an August fire at the Pulaski Skyway, was down for maintenance, the chief explained.

The cause of the PATH fire was believed to have been electrical. Dyl said railroad ties, supports and a signal box were burnt.

As luck would have it, after a mild summer, Sept. 2 brought temperatures in the 90s, but the none of the firefighters required treatment for heat exhaustion, Dyl said. Neither were there any injuries.

PATH service, suspended for several hours, resumed at about 6 p.m., but there were residual delays well into the evening. T

here were also major vehicular traffic delays, primarily due to Fish House Road’s being closed until 7 p.m.

While the KFD was battling the blaze, the Jersey City Fire Department covered South Kearny, and North Arlington and Harrison covered the rest of the town.

On Aug. 15, sparks from a welder’s torch being used in the Pulaski Skyway rehab project apparently ignited wooden support-column fenders under a portion of the highway over the Hackensack.

Billows of smoke from the 1:05 p.m. blaze were visible for miles, but damage was reportedly limited to the fenders, which protect the support columns from boat traffic on the river.

Instrumental in fighting those flames was the KFD’s boat, Marine 3, which received its baptism by fire. On this, its maiden fire call, the Kearny boat was the first to arrive at the scene, and its seven-man crew proceeded to pump about 1,250 gallons of water per minute on the blaze until it was declared under control about an hour later.

Also responding were boats from the Newark FD and the N.J. State Police.

“The only way we could’ve fought this fire was from the water,” KFD Deputy Chief Joseph Viscuso told Observer correspondent Ron Leir. “You couldn’t do it from the land.”

On Aug. 4, the 98-yearold Portal Bridge over the Hackensack caught fire, disrupting Amtrak and N.J. Transit service for hours. When the trains began running again, they reportedly were forced to 5 mph crawl over the span. The cause of that fire is undetermined, but it was believed to be electrical.

Dyl said that Amtrak is investigating.

Still rattled by Sandy? Get free legal help

Hudson County residents with legal issues arising from Superstorm Sandy may be eligible to receive free legal counsel, advice or brief services from attorneys from Northeast New Jersey Legal Services (NNJLS), a nonprofit organization.

NNJLS hosts a free legal clinic Thursday, Sept. 18, 6 to 8 p.m., on the second floor of 574 Summit Ave., Jersey City.

NNJLS has handled such cases as FEMA appeals, contractor fraud, insurance denials, home repair, and more.

To schedule an appointment, call Meredith Gemeiner at 201-792-6363, ext. 3248. (Appointments are not necessary but highly encouraged.)

CPG opposes EPA’s river cleanup plan

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By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

A proposed bank-to-bank cleanup and cap is no way to treat a river. That’s the reaction by a private corporate group that has agreed to pay for work to remediate a portion of the contaminated Passaic River.

The CPG, isn’t prepared to accept a $1.78 billion U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plan to remove 4.3 million cubic yards of sediment from the lower Passaic, from Newark Bay to the Newark/Belleville border.

The CPG, more than 60 companies who’ve accepted the collective responsibility of funding remediation of industrial toxins that compromised the river, have filed an 87-page response to the EPA plan slamming it from every conceivable angle.

CPG’s response, filed Aug. 20 – the deadline set by EPA for submitting commentary on its plan – was prepared by the global corporate law firm K&L Gates, with offices in Newark and elsewhere. According to its website, the law firm offers “global boardroom risk solutions” to “such areas as corporate governance, anticorruption, competition, antitrust and regulatory, insurance coverage, workplace safety, environment, product liability, cyber risk and data privacy, among others ….”

The same group recently concluded a dredge/cap operation, removing more than 16,000 cubic yards of toxins from a 5-acre section of Lyndhurst mudflats along the banks of the river.

In its response, the CPG makes these points:

The EPA plan for the Passaic is misguided and “inconsistent with” the goals set by the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation & Liability Act of 1980.

The EPA plan is “legally indefensible and must be withdrawn.”

The EPA plan “is scientifically and technically unsound based upon the current understanding of the river ….”

Despite EPA’s assertions that its plan would be the largest cleanup in the agency’s history and that the sediment collected would “fill MetLife Stadium, twice over,” the CPG insists it won’t do the job intended and will be a waste of money.

The CPG contends that EPA “misrepresented the conditions of the river sediments and the effectiveness of the remedial alternatives that were evaluated,” and that it “has made a series of incorrect and scientifically unsupportable assumptions and interpretations that demonstrate a clear preconceived bias for a bankto- bank remedy … despite the fact that there are now legions of data, collected over the last seven years, demonstrating that the disruption and cost of a bank-to-bank remedy are not needed to protect human health and the environment.”

Since 2007, the CPG says it “has spent more than $100 million” on a remedial investigation feasibility study with oversight by EPA” but the CPG says EPA’s actions have only “increased the likelihood of expensive and time-consuming litigation” by all parties involved.

The CPG contends that the EPA’s plan relies on a bank-to-bank strategy, keyed to “massive sediment removal,” that will only lead to “recontamination,” that the EPA’s assessment of ecological risks in the river were based on creation of “a fake generic fish that does not exist and is not representative of the life histories of the fish population that does inhabit the river,” and that it “failed to consider … the enormous logistical nightmares [from] many thousands of bridge openings with resulting traffic congestion and rail transportation delays.”

In the end, implementing the EPA plan will leave the river in no better condition for “being fishable or swimmable,” the CPG asserted.

“Selecting a massive dredging remedy … is inconsistent with adaptive management and precludes the requisite flexibility and adjustment during remedy selection,” it said.

The CPG says its plan – still evolving – will work better by “targeting specific areas” for cleanup without needlessly disrupting other areas “not contributing to [sediment-related] risk” and with “less disruption to the community,” all at a quicker pace and for less money.

EPA spokesman David Kluesner declined to respond to CPG’s allegations. He said the agency is reviewing “over 200” public comments sent to the EPA, along with comments from three public meetings. Some “will require additional research,” he added. Asked when EPA would publish a final plan, Kluesner said: “We don’t have a time frame on that.”

Guilty plea in mortgage scam

BELLEVILLE – 

A 63-year-old Belleville man faces up to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to his role in a $15 million mortgage fraud scheme, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced last week.

Appearing Sept. 2 in federal court in Camden, defendant Larry Fullenwider admitted conspiring to defraud financial institutions as part of the scheme that made illegal profits on overbuilt condominiums at the Jersey Shore and in Florida, Fishman said.

Fullenwider, charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, admitted purchasing four condos in North Wildwood after presenting a false identification and using fake documents to support fraudulent loan applications, Fishman said. He was among 13 persons arrested in the case.

According to Fishman’s office, the scheme masterminds located oceanfront condos built by financially distressed developers and negotiated a buyout price. They then caused the sales prices for the properties to be much higher than the buyout price, to ensure large proceeds.

Fishman said Fullenwider’s role was as a “straw buyer” who, using an alias and false Social Security number, bought the North Wildwood properties at the inflated rates in 2007. To qualify for mortgage loans, Fullenwider and the other conspirators also created fake W-2 forms, pay stubs, bank statements and investment statements, authorities said.

Once the loans were approved and the mortgage lenders sent the loan proceeds in connection with real estate closings, Fullenwider and the others reportedly received a portion of the money from conspirators who had funds wired or checks deposited into various accounts.

Fullenwider faces a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine when he is sentenced in January. 

– Karen Zautyk 

‘Wheels for Vic’ fundraiser set for Boystown

Victor Muniz 1_web

By Jim Hague

Observer correspondent

It was a night six years ago that touched the hearts of many local residents, especially people who live in his hometown of Kearny.

June 9, 2008, was a very stormy night and Victor Muniz, a former standout basketball player at Kearny High School, was making his way home through West Hudson Park when a huge tree branch snapped and landed directly on him, paralyzing him from the waist down for the rest of his life.

Muniz spent the next five months at the Kessler Institute of Rehabilitation in West Orange, where he received many gifts and had plenty of visitors, including then-New Jersey Nets All-Star guard Devin Harris, who presented Muniz with an autographed pair of his sneakers.

“When I got there, I was practically a vegetable,” said Muniz, now 28 years old. “I couldn’t move at all.”

But Muniz worked diligently through his rehabilitation, eventually gaining use of his upper body, especially his hands and arms.

“I couldn’t grip anything at all, but now I can write,” Muniz said. “I can use my hands.”

Never once has Muniz’s spirits wavered.

“He’s come a long way,” said Joseph Sgalia, the president of UNICO of Kearny, a social group that helps benefit the community any way possible. “His determination is outstanding and his resilience to keep on going is amazing.”

Of course, Muniz needs help. Sgalia worked hard to find Muniz a more suitable place to live with limited stairs and easier access.

But Sgalia wanted to do more.

“There had to be something we could do for him,” Sgalia said.

On Sunday, Oct. 5, the Kearny UNICO will hold a special fundraiser/ tricky tray to help raise funds to purchase a motorized wheelchair for Muniz. The event is called “Wheels for Vic.”

“You should see how bad his hands get from trying to push the chair around,” Sgalia said. “It’s not easy.”

The fundraiser will be held at the Kearny Boystown gym on Belgrove Drive from 1-5 p.m. Tickets are $30. All the proceeds of the event will go to purchase Muniz a motorized chair that costs approximately $11,000.

Muniz still hopes for the day that he could walk again, even six years after that fateful night.

“I’ve learned to never say never,” Muniz said. “Because unless the Big Man upstairs comes down and tells me something different, I will never say never. That’s just a just a waste of time and effort.”

Muniz has been attending Bergen County Community College in pursuit of a degree in hospitality management.

“I’m a people person,” Muniz said. “I deal with a lot of people. It’s perfect for me. I’ve always been interested in hotel management, because you get to meet a lot of younger people that way.”

Muniz is grateful to Sgalia and the people of Kearny.

“It’s been six years and people are still willing to help me,” Muniz said. “What people have done for me already is tremendous. It’s amazing that I still have a lot of friends and teammates that want to help. It motivates me and gives me the direction to go.”

Sgalia said that the UNICO members were all in support of the cause.

“We all wanted to make sure we did something worthwhile for Victor,” Sgalia said. “He’s a special young man and we’re all willing to help him.”

If anyone is willing to purchase tickets for the event, contact Sgalia at (201) 998-6879 or you can send a check to “Wheels for Vic” c/o Kearny UNICO, 11 Terrace Place, Kearny, NJ 07032. Make the check out to Kearny UNICO.

“We really wanted to do something special for Vic,” Sgalia said. “Now, we think we have.”

If anyone wants to just make a donation, they can do so as well, sending a check to the address above.

“It’s hard to explain how I feel,” Muniz said. “It’s really difficult to come up with the emotions. All I can do is say thanks.”

KPD: The thin & thick of it

A man described as a known shoplifter” called attention to himself last week when he went into a local Radio Shack carrying a slender backpack and emerged with a chubby one, Kearny police reported.

Chief John Dowie said Det. Michael Gonzalez was on patrol in an unmarked car on Passaic Ave. on Sept. 1 when, at 2:15 p.m., he recognized Leroy Holmes, 43, of Newark, whom he saw enter and leave several stores without apparently making any purchases. Then Holmes visited the electronics store, and his backpack no longer appeared empty, police said. Gonzalez stopped the suspect and advised him of his observations. From the backpack, Holmes, who allegedly identified himself as “Eric Mendoza,” produced two sets of headphones, but no receipts, police said.

After it was confirmed that the merchandise belonged to Radio Shack, police said, Holmes was charged with shoplifting and hindering apprehension.

Other recent reports from the Kearny police blotter included the following:

 Aug. 29 

Det. Gonzalez was on assignment on Harrison Ave. at 1 a.m. when he stopped a car for a lighting violation and found that the driver had a suspended license.

Donnell McAllister, 29, of Jersey City was arrested for that offense.

Aug. 31 

Officer Jordenson Jean responded to a 2:15 a.m. collision at the Belleville Pike and Schuyler Ave. between an SUV and a Mercedes. After conducting field sobriety tests, he arrested Susana Erazo, 23, of West New York, the driver of the latter vehicle, on a DWI charge. She was also charged with failure to take an Alcotest, careless driving and failure to maintain a lane. Police said Erazo was not injured and the SUV driver refused medical attention.

Just 10 minutes later, at 2:25, Lt. Anthony Gouveia witnessed a Ford Explorer nearly hit a parked car in the area of Bergen and Highland Aves., turn onto Maple St., and almost hit another, police said. With Officer Ben Wuelfing as back-up, Gouveia stopped the SUV and questioned the driver, Electerio Videz, 58, of Kearny, who allegedly became uncooperative when asked to perform FSTs. Videz was subsequently charged with DWI, driving with a suspended license and refusing to take an Alcotest.

Sept. 2 

At 2 p.m., Officer Jean responded to Walmart after store security reported that a man, carrying some sort of blade, was opening packages and concealing items. Police said Jean approached suspect Valentino Rogers, 27, of Newark, and found him to be in possession of a box-cutter, a cell phone and two Bluetooths. (Blueteeth?) Rogers was charged with shoplifting, possession of burglar tools and on an outstanding Irvington warrant — for shoplifting.

Officer Brian Wisely responded to a 6 p.m. report of a woman screaming on the 500 block of Forest St. and found her to be involved in a verbal altercation with Danny Vincente, 26, of Kearny. As Wisely tried to mediate, Vincente entered a motor vehicle and sped away, police said.

The officer intercepted him on Brighton Ave. and asked for his driving credentials, but Vincente reportedly ignored him and tried to enter a dwelling. He was again stopped, but continued to be uncooperative, police said.

When advised by back-up Officer John Fabula that he was under arrest for failure to comply, he resisted being cuffed, scratched Wisely and had to be wrestled to the ground and forcibly placed in the patrol car, police said. Vincente was charged with obstruction, aggravated assault on a police officer and resisting arrest, along with being issued several MV violations.

Sept. 3 

Officer Fabula, answering a 4:45 p.m. call about a large, disabled truck at Schuyler and Bergen Aves., arrived to find a 2000 Kenworth (check Google Images) blocking the intersection. Police said the behemoth was found to have been unregistered since January 2013, and the driver, Ronald Smith, 63, of Willingboro, to have a suspended license. He was charged with that offense, and the truck was towed from the scene.

At 8:45 p.m., Officer Daniel Esteves arrested 27-yearold Stephanie Dealmeida of Kearny on three outstanding Kearny warrants. After transporting her to headquarters, he searched his patrol car and found that she had apparently discarded marijuana in the back seat. Along with the warrants, she was charged with possession of the drug and drug paraphernalia.

Sept. 4 

At 11 a.m., Officer Jack Grimm, on patrol near the Harrison Ave./Belleville Pike viaduct, found a disabled Honda operated by Shamar Johnson, 21, of East Orange. Checking his mobile computer, Grimm found that the car’s registration was expired and that Johnson’s license was suspended. Further inquiries revealed an outstanding East Orange warrant for the driver, who was arrested and taken to HQ. The Honda was impounded.

At 10:30 p.m., relative to an ongoing prostitution investigation, Vice Squad detectives arrested Adora (a/k/a Tiffany) Sparks, 25, of New York City after she allegedly solicited one of the officers. A search found her to be in possession of more than $500 in cash, presumed to be the proceeds of prostitution, said $500 to be forfeited to the prosecutor’s office.

Sept. 5 

Officer Wuelfing, patrolling at Kearny Ave. and Duke St. at 2:30 a.m., found a Mazda, parked but running, with the driver asleep behind the wheel. After Wuelfing managed to awaken him, the man reportedly tried to drive away, but this was futile since his emergency brake was on. The driver then stumbled out of the car, police said, and when asked for his license, began to unzip his pants.

Wuelfing asked that he cease and desist, and he complied. But Marshall King, 25, of Hillside, was still charged with DWI and DWI in a school zone.

–Karen Zautyk

Chase ends in 5-car crash

A police chase of a suspect from Newark ended with a multi-car crash at the Nutley exit of Rt. 21 North that led to the temporary shutdown of the De Jessa Memorial Bridge and lengthy commuter tie-ups last Friday.

Nutley police responded to Park Ave., at 11:54 a.m., on the heels of a radio broadcast from Newark PD that they were in pursuit of a maroon pickup truck traveling north on Rt. 21.

Newark PD terminated the chase prior to entering Nutley but police said the pickup, driven by Clarence Bowie, 49, of Newark, continued driving at high speeds and ended up crashing into four vehicles stopped at the highway exit ramp in Nutley.

Newark PD took custody of Bowie prior to transporting him and his female passenger to University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in Newark for treatment of their injuries.

Bowie was charged by Nutley PD with aggravated assault, four counts of assault by auto, four counts of causing injury while operating a vehicle with a revoked or suspended license and with nine motor vehicle violations: driving while N.J. privileges are suspended, reckless driving, unlicensed driver, unsafe vehicle, bald passenger front tire, loaded as to spill, no visible passenger tail lamp lens or housing on vehicle, unclear plates and operating uninsured vehicle. Nutley Police Sgt. Anthony Montanari said the bridge remained closed to vehicular traffic until nearly 2 p.m. “It was a real mess,” he said.

At press time, it couldn’t be readily learned why Bowie was being pursued by Newark PD.

Among other goings-on logged by Nutley PD during the past week were these incidents:

Aug. 30 

A Walnut St. resident returning home reported finding a bag of empty beer cans left at the curb in front of their house. The resident told police this was a repetition of a similar incident that happened about two months ago.

Aug. 31 

Investigating a property damage report on Washington Ave., police said they were told by a female visiting a friend that they’d decided to “bedazzle” a resident’s vehicle by applying spray paint. Police observed several cans of spray paint on the blacktop and, after being advised they couldn’t leave the items on private property, the female removed the paint from the vehicle with a brush and nail polish remover and left the area.

A Franklin Ave. resident reported that a tree had fallen from an adjacent property, damaging a Dumpster.

Sept. 1 

A large tree branch fell on a River Road property, damaging the rear end of a resident’s 2013 Toyota. Officers removed the branch from the vehicle.

Someone stole a bicycle parked outside a Franklin Ave. business. The bike’s owner told police they were inside the store for five minutes and when they came out, the bike was gone. It was described as a custom-built Subrosa Villicus with a gray frame, green splatter pattern and purple handlebars, valued at more than $1,500.

Sept. 2 

Three incidents involving tree branches that fell from township-owned properties were reported. One large branch fell on a Nutley Ave. resident’s 2007 Toyota, damaging the rear hatch; another large branch from an unhealthy township tree was found lying in a Howard Place driveway where only last week, a grill and tables had been set up for a block party; and a large limb from a town tree on Race St. fell on a resident’s parked vehicle, scratching the front hood, roof and both sides of the vehicle, police said.

Searching for someone who’d been injured, officers discovered a broken glass storm door at the main entrance to an Essex St. residence. Police said they located the injured party checking into an area hospital for treatment. Police said he was hurt punching a window during a domestic incident for which charges are pending.

Sept. 3 

A River Road tenant told police they’d gone home to return some equipment and found the rear door kicked in but a search of the interior indicated that nothing appeared to be missing.

 Sept. 4 

A tree on county property fell, blocking Park Way, and landed atop a vehicle causing extensive damage. The Essex County Sheriff’s Department arranged to remove the limb.

Sept. 5 

A Lloyd St. resident reported that the passenger side mirror had been knocked off their parked vehicle.

Someone caused $1,200 in damage to a Washington Ave. business ATM and removed an unknown amount of money, the business owner told police. Detectives are investigating

– Ron Leir 

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