By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – A proposal by NJ Transit to build a backup power system in South Kearny to run its trains in cases of emergencies like another Superstorm Sandy threatens to derail a redevelopment plan […]
By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent HARRISON – James Fife, who taught history to a lot of Harrison High School students over the years, is now in the official Harrison history books. Fife, who will mark his 73rd birthday on […]
By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent KEARNY– A man who was severely burned in a Feb. 12 house fire at 131 Schuyler Ave. succumbed to his injuries last week at St. Barnabas Medical Center, authorities reported. The victim, Manuel Lampon, 66, […]
By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent KEARNY – Seven persons were displaced last week when a three-alarm fire left their Dukes St. home uninhabitable, authorities reported. As of press time, the exact cause of the blaze was still under investigation. […]
A10-month multi-agency investigation culminated Thursday in the arrests of 23 New Jersey men in connection with an international carjacking ring, one of whose alleged leaders is a Belleville resident, authorities reported. At a press conference, state Acting Attorney General […]
By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – Three more firefighters will be added to the rolls of the Kearny Fire Department later this year – assuming they make it through their training. But it still won’t be enough to make […]
This photo is undated, but judging by the clothing, we guess it was taken sometime in the 1930s, or maybe early ’40s. The place is the Kearny Ave. entrance to West Hudson Park (above the main dual stairway) and the season appears to be early spring. According to the Hudson County Parks Department: “The park itself dates as far back as 1888. However, Hudson County’s bond purchase for the land was not approved until November 1902, and additional construction began on June 15, 1910.” It comprises 46 acres, most of which are within the borders of Harrison. Our research produced scant information on specifi c park history, and we were hoping to fi nd some on that plaque that’s affi xed to the column – but as you can see in the ‘Now’ photo, it’s long gone. –Karen Zautyk
The National Headache Foundation estimates that more than 29 million Americans suffer from migraines, and these individuals lose more than 157 million work and school days annually due to pain, according to Dr. Richard Ekstein of Smile Design Specialists and New Jersey Headache Center, 312 Belleville Turnpike, North Arlington.
Aside from migraine sufferers, it is projected that 90% of the population also endures other chronic debilitating headaches, Eckstein added.
Ekstein says he now offers a comprehensive treatment program for patients suffering with chronic pain relating to headaches, migraines, tension, and whiplash.
Ekstein said he uses a combination of therapeutic, state-ofthe- art techniques to evaluate and treat patients with pain or discomfort caused as a consequence of improper muscle forces in the mouth, neck, and head area.
“This treatment is badly needed in a subsection of the population that suffers from ongoing chronic head and neck pain. The TruDenta treatment program allows us to give our patients immediate relief and long-lasting results,” he said.
After using the system to evaluate a patient’s pain symptoms and disabilities in the teeth, muscles, and joints, Ekstein said he provides patients with individualized therapy – both in-office treatments and at-home care – tailored to their condition.
For more information and to schedule a free consultation, call Dr. Ekstein toll-free at 844-Head-8-Dr ( 844-432- 3837 ).
Belleville Public Library and Information Center Children’s Room, 221 Washington Ave., is hosting a Hibernation Party on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 2 p.m. Celebrate this cozy time with a wintry craft, hot chocolate and other treats. Come in your pajamas and bring your favorite stuffed friend. For more information, call 973- 450-3434.
Belleville UNICO is sponsoring a bus ride fundraiser to the Taj Mahal on Sunday, Feb. 9, after a continental breakfast at 8 a.m. A $30 donation is requested (You will receive a $35 voucher). The bus will leave from the Disabled Veterans hall, 612 Mill St. at 8:50 a.m. To reserve, call 973-759-9259. Please make checks payable to: IAOVC Mail checks to: Gene Antonio, 436 Joralemon St., Belleville, N.J.
Bloomfield Public Library, 90 N. Broad St., offers the following programs:
• A documentary screening of “Alice’s Ordinary People” on Feb 11 at 1 p.m. For reservations, call 973- 566-6200, ext. 502. The film is about the Chicago Civil Rights Movement, Operation Breadbasket and Operation PUSH. Alice, refusing to stand still in the face of injustice, worked tirelessly for decades across the U.S. to register African-Americans to vote.
• Monday & Thursday Afternoon Movies are shown at 12:15 p.m. in the library theatre. Here’s next month’s schedule:
Feb. 3 – “42 –The Jackie Robinson Story” (NR) (Harrison Ford)
Feb 6 – “Oblivion” (PG-13) (Tom Cruise)
Feb 10 – “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” (PG-13) (Forest Whitaker)
Feb 13 – “Say Amen, Somebody” (G) Documentary explores the lives and music of the pioneers of modern gospel music including Thomas A. Dorsey and Willie May Ford Smith.
Feb 17 – “Fruitvale Station” (R) (Michael B. Jordan)
Feb 20 – “Captain Phillips” (PG-13) (Tom Hanks)
Feb 24 – “Peeples” (PG-13) (Craig Robinson)
Feb 27 – “The Call” (R) (Halle Berry)
The library will close at 4 p.m. on Feb. 17 for President’s Day. The library will be closed on Feb. 28 for staff development. In case of inclement weather, call 973-566-6200 for possible cancelations.
West Hudson Brave Women Fighting Breast Cancer meets on the last Friday of every month from 7 to 9 p.m. at the East Newark Senior Center, 37 President St. The group provides an atmosphere of warmth and comfort for patients and family. For more information, call Emma at 201-998-6828, Rosa 201-246-7750, Fatima 973-485- 4236 or email emidura2@ yahoo.com.
First Baptist Church of Arlington, 650 Kearny Ave., will hold a free clothing giveaway on Saturday, Feb. 1, from 9 a.m. to noon. Clothing for all seasons is available.
Arlington Woman’s Club meets on Feb. 11 at 1 p.m. at the Arlington Player’s Club, 12 Washington Pl. Peggy and Ed Bixler will speak about the Kearny Community Garden. For more information, call Moira Crowell at 201-997-2781.
The executive board of the Evening Membership Department of the Woman’s Club of Arlington meets on Monday, Feb. 3, at 7:30 p.m. at the home of Arlene Sheldrick to discuss final plans for the annual fundraiser to be held Feb. 28. Members are reminded to bring items to be donated.
Kearny UNICO meets on Thursday, Feb. 6, at 7:30 p.m. For more information about Kearny UNICO, contact Chapter President Lou Pandolfi at 201-368-2409. New members are always welcome. Kearny UNICO is a member chapter of UNICO National, the largest Italian American service organization in the United States.
The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission sponsors these upcoming events:
• The fifth annual “Super Bird Sunday” nature walk with the Bergen County Audubon Society is set for Sunday, Feb. 2, from 10 a.m. to noon, starting at the entrance to Losen Slote Creek Park in Little Ferry. The walk features prizes awarded to any participant who is the first to spot a bird that has the same name as an NFL team – raven, falcon, eagle, cardinal, etc. Check meadowblog.net for last-minute weather updates. Participants are asked to sign a standard liability release that is good for NJMC/ BCAS events throughout the year. Admission is free. To R.S.V.P., contact Don Torino of the BCAS at greatauk4@ aol.com or call 201-230-4983.
Lyndhurst Knights of Columbus Casino Night will be held on Friday, Feb. 21, at the VFW, 577 Valley Brook Ave., beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $50, which includes a hot buffet, cash bar and $100 in “play” money. No tickets will be sold at the door. Seating is limited. For tickets, contact Sal Russo at 201-446 7244 or Nick Garafolo at 201- 893-2848.
Lyndhurst Health Department, 601 Riverside Ave., offers a free stroke prevention forum hosted by Clara Maass Medical Center on Friday, Feb. 21, at 10 a.m. Participants receive free blood pressure screenings and a light breakfast. Call the Health Department at 201- 804-2500 to reserve a seat.
Lyndhurst Public Library, 355 Valley Brook Ave., hosts a Valentine craft session for children in grades 1 to 4 on Thursday, Feb. 13, from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. Registration is required. Call the library at 201- 804-2478.
American Legion Alexander Stover Post 37 will meet on Tuesday, Feb. 4, at 8 p.m. at North Arlington Fire Department’s Engine Co No. 2, 550 Schuyler Ave. All veterans are invited. For more information, call 201- 214-8253.
The North Arlington Seniors, Inc. (Tuesday Club) has scheduled a trip to the Showboat Casino on Feb. 6. The bus will leave the Municipal Building at 9 a.m. Trips are also planned for these dates (these are not yet booked) – March 6, April 3, May 1 and June 5.
The group will visit La- Greci’s, Staten Island, N.Y., for a St. Patrick’s Fest on March 13. The bus will leave at 9:30 a.m. For information or reservations, call Rose at 201-991-2423. Guests are welcome to attend trips.
The Senior Harmony Club sponsors a trip to the Taj Mahal Casino on Tuesday, Feb. 11. The cost is $25. For more information, call Florence at 201-991-3173. All are welcome.
The North Arlington Board of Health sponsors a free rabies clinic at the Legion Place Firehouse on Thursday, Jan. 30, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Dog owners must secure a borough-issued dog license by the end of January, but a license cannot be issued without documentation of updated rabies vaccine.
North Arlington Elks sponsors “Beef and Brew” on Friday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30, which includes tossed salad, pasta, beef on toast, French fries, dessert, coffee, tea, beer, wine and soda. Tickets must be purchased in advance. For tickets, contact Chris Clune at 201-284-8582 or Cheryl Clune at 201-923-3268.
The Nutley Parks & Recreation Department will sponsor the winter session of its “Let’s Get Moving” children’s program beginning Feb. 4 and running for eight weeks. The classes, for ages 3 to 5, consist of stretching and balancing exercises, relays, games, karate and dance moves. Parent participation is required. Residents may choose from a Tuesday class at 1 p.m. or a Thursday class at 9:15 a.m. Class size is limited to 15 per session. Register online at https://nutleynj.my.gov-i.com/recreation or by application at the Rec Department, 44 Park Ave.
Parks & Recreation will also run an eight-week “Fun with Music” program for children ages 1 1/2 to 3, starting Feb. 4. Choose between a Tuesday class from 9:15 to 10 a.m. or a Thursday class from 1 to 1:45 p.m. Pre-registration is required. Class space is limited and will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Register online at https://nutleynj. my.gov-i.com/recreation. For more information on these or other recreation programs, call 973-284-4966 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Parks & Recreation is accepting applications for the 2014 Nutley Girls Softball Program for girls in grades 1-8 and Travel Softball for grades 3-8. The Softball fee is $40; for Travel Softball, $60.
Try-outs are required for Travel Softball. Register online at nutleynj.my.govi.com/recreation. Applications also are available at the Rec Department, 44 Park Ave. The deadline for Softball registration is March 21; for Travel Softball, Feb. 28. For more information, call Parks & Rec.
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Bowling has always been a part of Brianna Balkin’s life. From her high school days at Nutley, then on to college at Fairleigh Dickinson University and even now in local competitive leagues, Balkin has been a fixture at local bowling alleys.
Since she has had an affinity for the sport, Balkin wanted to find another way to get involved.
“I wanted to coach bowling for a long time,” Balkin said. “But the opportunity to coach doesn’t come up often.”
When Mike Rizzo had to resign his position as the head bowling coach at Lyndhurst High School after taking an administrative job within the Lyndhurst school district, Balkin applied for the spot.
“I saw this and I thought it was perfect,” Balkin said.
You see, Balkin works the same schedule as most teachers. She is a full-time nanny and actually works for some teachers.
“They come home after school and this allowed me to go to the school to coach when they came home,” Balkin said. “It was perfect.”
Balkin also already knew some of the Lyndhurst bowlers from the time she’s spent competing in local leagues.
“Some of their parents bowl in the same leagues that I play in,” Balkin said. “I actually went to watch Lyndhurst bowl last year.”
The 26-year-old Balkin knew that she was inheriting a solid program, developed over the years by former coach Rizzo. The Golden Bears won three NJSIAA state sectional championships over the last four years of Rizzo’s regime, so the cupboard wasn’t exactly bereft of talent.
“I knew that they were a good group of kids,” Balkin said. “I got lucky in that aspect.”
But Balkin never anticipated what has transpired since she took over as head coach in November.
“They’ve exceeded any expectations I might have had,” Balkin said. “I knew they were good, but I didn’t expect them to be this good.”
The Golden Bears have enjoyed an undefeated season in regular North Jersey Interscholastic Conference action, taking all 11 of their dual matches thus far.
However, the Golden Bears reached the pinnacle last weekend at Bowler City in Hackensack, when they captured the school’s first Bergen County Tournament championship in almost 40 years.
Not only did the Golden Bears win the county championship, but they broke the county record for pins in a game in the process.
“I knew that if the kids bowled like the way they had been recently, we had a good chance to win our group (Group I),” Balkin said. “I knew that Westwood and Indian Hills would be our toughest competition for the overall county championship, but I was really focused on winning our group. It was an added bonus winning the whole thing. I didn’t even know we had a chance for the county record and we were able to beat it by nine (pins). I don’t think the kids even realized what they were doing. It was pretty amazing.”
Four of the Golden Bears finished the tournament among the top 20 in the county. That in itself is an astounding accomplishment.
Balkin said that senior Mike Dul was the most impressive bowler in the tournament. Dul entered the tourney with a solid 189 average, but topped his own average by bowling to a 211 mark.
“He had the day of his life,” Balkin said. “The other kids called Mike the MVP (Most Valuable Player) of the tournament. He finished 11th overall. He was steady in the first spot and the others rallied around him. He was a huge catalyst as our lead-off bowler. I was happy for him that he bowled so well.”
Junior Jordan Lopez, who was the individual county champion a year ago, rolling a perfect game of 300 in the tourney, placed fifth this year.
“I think he was more concerned with winning for the team,” Balkin said of Lopez, who bowls unconventionally with two hands instead of one. “He didn’t make a big deal of winning last year. He just needed to be himself and not caught up in the moment.”
Junior Daijon Smith is a transfer to the program, coming from American History High in Newark. But he’s been an incredible addition, bowling this season to a 227 average. Smith is also a twohanded bowler, so it’s almost unbelievable to have two on the same team.
“He’s probably one of the best spare shooters I’ve ever seen,” Balkin said. “He’s very good and consistent in making his spares. I knew he was good, but until I saw him start bowling with us in competition, I didn’t realize how good. He changed the dynamics of the whole team.”
There’s also no need for worry about any animosity between Lopez and Smith.
“They’re like best friends,” Balkin said. “The competition between the two of them is fun.”
Smith finished seventh overall at the Bergen County tourney.
Freshman Ryan Donohue has also been a godsend, coming onto the scene and adding instant credibility. Donohue, who rolled a perfect 300 game earlier this season, earning Observer Athlete of the Week honors, has close to 210 on an average, giving the Golden Bears three bowlers with averages of 210 and higher. Most high school teams are fortunate to have one with such a lofty average.
“Because we have other good bowlers, Ryan hasn’t had a lot of pressure on him,” Balkin said. “He knows he can bowl well on the high school level and has done well.”
Donohue finished 20th overall at the Bergen County tourney, cementing the Golden Bears’ status as the county’s best.
Junior Emily Young is in the Golden Bears’ main rotation. Lyndhurst has had other girls compete with the boys in the past, most notably, Lexus Lopez, who is currently bowling on a scholarship at FDU.
Young carries an average of 190 to the alley for every match.
“I don’t think it fazes her that she’s the only girl,” Balkin said. “She just wants to bowl. She never cares about anything else. She’s been used to being the only girl. She just goes out there and bowls.”
Next week, Young will get the chance to compete with strictly the girls at the state sectionals. Young is currently ranked No. 3 among girl bowlers in Bergen County.
Junior Michael Hayes and senior Massimo Sarracino are others who get the chance to bowl occasionally with the top varsity bowlers.
“It’s kind of unfortunate, because they would be starters on other teams,” Balkin said. “They understand their roles and are ready when they’re called upon to come off the bench.”
Needless to say, Balkin has been enjoying life, leading the Golden Bears to a county title in just her first two months on the job.
“This has definitely been a lot of fun,” Balkin said. “I came into a good situation and I didn’t want to mess things up. They’re a good group of kids who all want the others on their team to do well. They definitely have more fun than what I ever did bowling in high school.”
The Golden Bears are currently ranked fourth in the entire state. No Group distinction. This is top four in the entire state. That fact is also astounding.
“It’s definitely better than changing diapers, that’s for sure,” Balkin laughed.
If the Golden Bears continue their success through the upcoming NJSIAA state sectionals, then that would definitely make Balkin’s rookie campaign as head coach even more memorable.
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Rich Corsetto had been away from coaching basketball for three years and it had been even longer since he coached on the high school level.
In a basketball sojourn that has spanned four decades, Corsetto has obviously seen a lot and experienced a lot more.
But there’s nothing that could have prepared basketball lifer Corsetto for the thrill ride he’s been on since taking over the boys’ head coaching position at North Arlington High School.
The Vikings are the toast of the town these days, owning a remarkable and almost unbelievable 11-0 record.
That’s right, North Arlington is undefeated and winners of 11 straight, both home and away, in the rough-and-tumble world of NJIC and Group I basketball.
“If you would have told me, or anyone would have told me, that we would start out 11-0, I would have said you were crazy,” Corsetto said. “I expected this team to be successful and having a winning record. But to be 11-0? There’s no way.”
Corsetto credits his hard-working group of kids, who haven’t exactly enjoyed winning over the last few years.
“I took the job in July and it only took me a couple of days to realize that these kids had it in their hearts,” Corsetto said. “They were diving after loose balls and crashing into walls during workouts. They had a lot of pride in themselves.”
Corsetto said that putting the team in the Bloomfield fall league was also beneficial.
“They went 6-2 in that league and that helped them get together and jell a little as a team,” said Corsetto, who was the long-time head coach at Hudson County Community College, then Passaic County Community. “That league helped them bind together and when the season started, they just picked it up right from there. They went into the season feeling good about themselves.”
Corsetto said that he can’t put a finger on one reason why the Vikings have been so successful thus far.
“I don’t know exactly what happened, but they were excited about this season right away,” Corsetto said. “We were only able to get three scrimmages before the season, but once the season started, they were ready.”
Corsetto said that early season wins against Group IV programs such as Belleville and Kearny helped to boost team confidence.
“I don’t care what their records are,” Corsetto said of Belleville and Kearny. “They’re still Group IV schools. Group I schools aren’t supposed to beat Group IV schools. But we’ve also beat everyone in our group as well. People are surprised and stunned at what we’re doing. It’s a credit to the kids. These kids are just not going let anyone beat them. They feel right now that no one can beat them.”
In the early going, the Vikings were playing at an up tempo, fast break oriented pace that worked to their advantage. So opponents are now trying to milk the clock and take the Vikings out of their familiar element.
Becton Regional tried that approach Friday night, but the Vikings still prevailed, winning 44-34.
“They held the ball for like two full minutes,” Corsetto said. “But that didn’t faze our kids. I was a little concerned with the pace, but it didn’t matter. They’re just a very confident group right now. Nothing is bothering them.”
Senior Thai Scott, who missed almost all of last season due to injury, has been the Vikings’ floor general at point guard.
“Right now, Thai is doing a great job,” Corsetto said. “All he has to do is run the team and score a little. He’s doing that and more.”
Senior Nick Martin is the team’s power forward. The diverse Martin, who is also a football and baseball standout, is averaging double figures in points and rebounds.
“He’s the backbone of the team,” Corsetto said of Martin. “He is a fabulous kid, a smart player who is very easy to coach. He would go through the wall for you. I’ve been coaching for more than 40 years and he’s the nicest kid I’ve ever coached.”
Sophomore Kevin Cerqueira has moved up to the varsity level with ease.
“He’s been our best defensive player and plays hard every game,” Corsetto said. “He has fit in well.”
Sophomore Edgar Carrenza has also been a pleasant addition.
“He’s our best free throw shooter,” Corsetto said. “He also handles the ball well and helps to break the press. He’s been a pleasant surprise.” Junior Jose Checo has been the Vikings’ inside presence.
“He has improved a lot and has really worked on being a better rebounder for us,” Corsetto said. “He’s scoring some more lately and most importantly, he’s been blocking some shots. He’s getting more aggressive every game.”
Senior Mike Brazzel is the team’s most important player off the bench.
“I think he’s the best sixth man in Bergen County,” Corsetto said. “He gives us nothing but energy. We were struggling a little against Becton and I put Brazzel into the game and the team’s energy went through the roof. He always brings that great energy.”
The Vikings have also been bolstered by the play of reserve sophomores Steven Velez and Jose Morales, as well as junior Jonathan Hurley.
The Vikings continue their remarkable run with games this week against Hawthorne and a huge NJIC tilt against St. Mary’s of Rutherford, a game that could very well decide a league championship by the end of February.
Incredibly, the Vikings have only three seniors on the roster, so this is a transformation of a young team.
“We’re still a very young team, but the kids are picking things up well,” Corsetto said. “I see nothing but good things ahead in the future.”
Corsetto also credits the diligence of dedicated assistant coach Dominic Bellifemine, who has also added energy to the program.
“He’s done a great job with the kids, getting them ready,” Corsetto said.
But to a record of 11-0? Is that record for real? Or is it a figment of someone’s creative imagination? Even Corsetto can’t believe it.
“I have never seen anything like it,” Corsetto said. “I’ve never stepped into something like this before. It’s a credit to the kids. They’ve worked so hard for this. They deserve it. Sure, it’s surprising to me. It’s surprising to everyone. But the kids believe in themselves. Now hopefully, we can keep this going.”
It certainly has been the talk of the local high school basketball season. Maybe everyone should believe in North Arlington now, because after 11 straight wins, the Vikings are for real. And the players certainly believe that for sure.
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
If you ask Austin Kunz what sport he’s more proficient at, the Nutley High School senior wouldn’t hesitate to answer.
“I like baseball better,” Kunz said. “I think I’m better at it.”
Kunz has been the starting catcher on the Nutley baseball team since he was a freshman. He’s earned a reputation as a slick fielding defensive catcher with a lot of power in his bat. In fact, Kunz is almost certain that he will attend Alvernia College in Pennsylvania in the fall to play baseball.
“He’s a baseball player who just plays basketball,” said Bob Harbison, who happens to be Kunz’s head coach in both sports.
However, Kunz is making his mark this winter as a solid basketball player.
Earlier this season, Kunz scored 31 points in a game against Newark West Side. The 6-foot-3 Kunz earned his spot in the starting lineup this season.
“He works well with what he can do on the floor,” Harbison said. “He has great hands and has a quick release. He is very strong inside and does well down low. He either makes the shot or gets fouled and he’s a very good free throw shooter. He sets a lot of screens, then gets the ball back to make that foul line jumper, but he can also hit the three (point shot).”
Last week, it looked as if Kunz was going to miss some time on the hardwood, because he suffered a sprained ankle.
“He was hobbling around on the bad ankle,” Harbison said.
But Kunz said nothing was going to stop him last Friday night, when the Maroon Raiders faced neighboring rival Belleville.
“I told my teammates that I wanted to score 40,” Kunz said.
However, that bold pregame prediction didn’t look too promising during the warm-ups right prior to the start of the game.
“I was terrible during warm-ups,” Kunz said. “I couldn’t make a shot. I didn’t think I’d have a good game.”
But when the game started, things changed remarkably.
“I made my first couple of shots and I began to feel it,” Kunz said. “It’s the greatest feeling when you know you can’t miss. My teammates just kept giving me the ball. They had so much faith in me and I couldn’t let them down. My teammates just kept getting me the ball.”
“He just was expecting the ball to go in when he was shooting it,” Harbison said.
When the final buzzer sounded, Kunz ended up with a career-high 33 points and the Maroon Raiders earned a 73-56 victory over their archrivals.
“It’s always great to beat Belleville and it’s great to know that I had 33 against them,” Kunz said.
Kunz also had 17 points in a tough 49-41 loss to East Orange in the opening round of the Essex County Tournament Saturday, so in the span of less than 24 hours, Kunz tallied 50 points.
For his efforts, Kunz has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.
A very confident Kunz was not shocked at all by his offensive explosion.
“I’m not really surprised at all,” Kunz said. “I’ve always thought that I was pretty good in both sports. I knew I was going to start this year, so I had to play good to earn my starting role.”
Kunz said that he didn’t play much basketball in the off-season to get ready.
“I didn’t play basketball at all until the tryouts,” Kunz said. “I played two games in the fall league and the tryouts and that was it.”
“He just gets the most of what he is,” Harbison said. “He finds himself in good places on the floor to score. Austin has great hands, so he catches everything thrown to him. I don’t know if his baseball skills help there. He scores the quietest 30 points you’ll ever see. When he had the 31 against (Newark) West Side, I said, ‘Really, he had that much?’ Now he gets 33. I think he’s getting a little more satisfied with the way he’s been playing, so that helps.”
However, Harbison is a little surprised with the outburst.
“I would have to say that the numbers he’s been putting up are shocking,” Harbison said. “But if you watch the games and see what he does, then it’s not shocking. It’s at the point now where you’re expecting the ball to go in when he shoots it.”
Harbison likes Kunz’s dedication in both sports.
“He’s a very competitive kid who is very committed to winning,” Harbison said. “He wants to win more than anything. He gets the most of what he is as an athlete.”
Harbison likes coaching Kunz in both sports.
“I think it makes it a lot easier, because you know where he is and you can expect him to be there every day,” Harbison said.
Kunz thinks that his basketball success will also pay off on the diamond come spring.
“I think playing basketball gets me in better shape to play baseball,” Kunz said. “It helps with my foot work behind the plate. Since I’m doing well, it definitely helps with my confidence a lot. I never scored 33 points in a game in my life, so this was the greatest feeling.”
And there was an added bonus.
“And beating Belleville was the best,” Kunz said. “I was really looking forward to the game and I’m glad we won.”
Just wait until the two teams meet up during the baseball season. That also should be fun to watch. Guaranteed that Austin Kunz will be more than ready then as well.
By Anthony Machchinski
In April 2012, The Observer featured an article about Dr. Maria Domingues, a young and energetic optometrist beginning her practice at Lyndhurst, her second office.
Nearly two years later, the ever-jovial and kind-hearted Domingues continues to expand her business while still maintaining her attentiveness towards each individual patient.
“I want to be able to still offer that one-to-one service (to my patients) and have the ability to talk with them on a personal level,” Domingues said.
While Domingues is passionate about her career, her path to optometry was not conventional.
Domingues started her career at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) where she got a degree in engineering, but soon realized that she’d developed another career focus.
“I had a friend that suggested that I would be good with patients,” Domingues explained. “I was looking for different graduate programs and optometry just caught my eye.”
Domingues took her newfound love to Ft. Lauderdale Fla., where she graduated with her doctor of optometry degree from Nova Southeastern College of Optometry in 2009. Over the past two years, Domingues opened up her newest office in Fort Lee, while bringing in her younger sister, Carla Domingues, to help maintain her practice’s family feel.
Carla Domingues, also a former Kearny resident, attended Queen of Peace before graduating cum laude from Seton Hall in 2009. Carla Domingues recently completed her doctorate of optometry at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 2013.
“I want this to be a family business,” Domingues said of Pink Vision Associates. “I’m taking this one day at a time. I don’t want to expand to the point where I can’t (make this a family business) anymore.”
Domingues credits her successful business to word of mouth and good patient referrals, both of which stem from her caring personality.
“You have to be fair and honest,” Domingues explained. “If I see something, I try to explain to the patient why I perform other tests, or why they need glasses. I strive for good education and lots of availability.”
However, the road to success hasn’t always been easy for the former Kearny native. One of the biggest problems for the young doctor is the perception that her lack of professional experience hinders her ability.
With her doctorate of optometry and knowledge of the latest technology, the 32-yearold Domingues says not to judge a book by its cover.
“Its always an adjustment period,” Domingues says. “Obviously older doctors have the experience, but we still have the newer technology, we’ve learned about the newest studies. We’re able to apply the newest and latest information.”
With her new office in Fort Lee, as well as current ones in Lyndhurst and Irvington, Domingues believes that one of the advantages to Pink Vision Associates is their flexible availability.
“We can see patients of all ages and backgrounds,” said Domingues, who is also fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.
A recent advantage of Pink Vision Associates is their online appointment scheduling, which Domingues said is monitored and answered quickly.
Those searching for more information or looking to schedule an appointment can visit pinkvisionassociates.com.
Pink Vision Associates’ offices are located at 348 Ridge Road in Lyndhurst, 1068 Clinton Ave. in Irvington, and 1562 Lemoine Ave. in Fort Lee.
Eleanor S. Cowburn
Eleanor S. Cowburn (nee Scott), of Kearny, died at home on Jan. 23. She was 98.
Private arrangements are by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. Burial will take place in Arlington Cemetery. To leave an online condolence please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.
Eleanor was married to Carl H. Booth Jr., who was killed in World War II. After the war, she met and married Frederick F. Cowburn, who was also a decorated war veteran. Fred died in 1999 on their 52nd wedding anniversary.
Mother of Ellen L. Goodlad and Jean C. Cowburn (Giuliano), she is the sister of the late Ruth Hammer and grandmother of Marcy Fisher (Bernie) and Kerry Goodlad Roberts (Jeff). Also surviving are her grandchildren Tyler, Kylie and Casey and her devoted caregivers Rosa Ortiz and Rosa Corrales. In lieu of flowers, kindly make a donation to The Wounded Warrior Project.
Catherine McClelland (nee Cowan) died at home on Jan. 20. She was 90.
Born in Hamilton, Scotland, she lived many years in Kearny before moving to Lakewood. She lived the past two years in Kenvil. Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral service was held at the funeral home, followed by a private cremation. To leave an online condolence, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.
During World War II, Catherine proudly served in the Wrens (Women’s Royal Naval Service) while living in Scotland. She was also a member of the Order of Eastern Star.
Wife of the late John Lindsay McClelland (for 64 years), she is survived by her children and their spouses Arthur and Patti McClelland, Mary Buist (the late Bill) and Jean and Rich Bartholomew. She was the grandmother of Ian Mc- Clelland, Billy and Amy Buist and Richard, Lindsay and Kate Bartholomew. She is also survived by her great-grandchildren Madelyn, Gracie, Camerynne and John.
In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to The Summit Speech School in New Providence www.summitspeech.org.
George Parker, 48, of Utica and formerly of Newark, passed away Sunday, Jan. 19.
He was born May 20, 1965 in Newark, a son of the late Arthur and Barbara (Sweet) Parker. George was educated in New Jersey schools.
Surviving are his daughters, Nicole Payne and Danielle Matos both of Kearny; sisters, Diane (Tim) Howard, Utica and Nancy Parker; grandchildren, Natalia, Jacqueline, Luis, Katrina, David, Diana and Danara and several nieces, nephews and cousins. George was predeceased by a sister, Barbara Jean Parker and brother, Arthur Parker.
Arrangements were by the Dimbleby, Friedel, Williams and Edmunds Funeral Homes, 1123 Court at York Streets, Utica.
Online expressions of sympathy please go to www.dimblebyfriedelfuneralhomes.com.
Mrs. Margaret Pidgeon, a lifelong Kearny resident, died on Tuesday, Jan. 21, at home. She was 95.
The funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Cecilia’s Church in Kearny, followed by interment in Holy Cross Cemetery. Arrangements were by the Condon Funeral Home, 684 Kearny Ave., Kearny (condonfuneralhome.com).
Margaret was predeceased by her husband, Daniel P. Pidgeon (2000) and is survived by her children Daniel (Mary), Patricia (John) Hogan and Paul Pidgeon; a sister, Anna Riley and her grandchildren, Daniel and David Pidgeon, John, Kevin and Daniel Hogan and Amy Horton. Also surviving are six great-grandchildren.
At 7:40 a.m., police were sent to the 200 block of Dey St. on a report of a theft from a vehicle. The owner of a black 2012 Infinity G37 told police that she’d parked the car at 10 p.m. on Jan. 20, locked it, and returned in the morning to discover that someone had broken into the car and taken a pair of black sunglasses valued at $100 and two iPhone 5 car charging devices worth $60. Police said the thief apparently disabled the front driver side door handle locking mechanism by “punching it out” with an unknown burglary tool.
At 1:15 p.m., police were dispatched to the Harrison Public Library on a report of a fight in progress. When officers arrived, people at the scene pointed to a man with a gray sweatshirt crossing Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. and said he was involved in an argument inside the library and was now trying to get away. Police said they stopped the man as he was walking on Jersey St. near S. Third St. After the man identified himself as Chester Corbett of Irvington, police said they learned that Corbett was wanted on a Harrison warrant for which he was arrested, then released pending a new court date.
At 11:57 p.m., police went to the 600 block of Davis Ave. on a report of a motor vehicle accident where a 2013 black Ford Escape had struck and knocked down a utility pole. Police said the driver, Kimberly Rego, 37, of Newark, was operating the car while intoxicated. Rego was arrested on charges of DWI, reckless driving and damaging town property.
At 11:23 p.m., police were sent to the Washington St. Municipal Lot on a report of criminal mischief to a vehicle. Police said the vehicle, a black 1999 Honda Civic parked near the west side of the lot, had a broken passenger window, its steering column and ignition were damaged and the driver’s side mirror pulled off and thrown against the lot’s west wall. Police said the contents of the car’s glove box and center console were rifled through. Police said they recovered some property that likely belonged to the car’s owner. Police towed the vehicle for safekeeping until they could notify the owner. A patron and a bartender in a nearby restaurant told police a Latino man, between 28 and 30, wearing a green jacket and black hooded sweatshirt, had previously walked in and borrowed a screwdriver from the bartender after stating he’d locked his keys in his car. The bartender told police the man returned with the screwdriver a few minutes later, claiming he needed a flathead screwdriver, not a Phillips head, and also took a napkin but never came back with either screwdriver. Police said they found a white linen restaurant style napkin near the burglarized vehicle.
– Ron Leir
By Ron Leir
Political divisions within the Kearny Board of Education were further evidenced at a special meeting last Monday night over the issue of the superintendent’s status. He’s currently on an involuntary paid leave.
A bid by the board’s minority bloc, led by Dan Esteves, to reinstate Frank Ferraro as the district’s chief administrator was rebuffed by the majority, whose members voted to circulate a Request for Proposals for an investigator to review Ferraro’s dealings with the board since he was hired in December 2012.
The majority may be looking to build a foundation for possibly firing Ferraro by bringing tenure charges against him and, ultimately, buying out the balance of his $167,500-a-year contract which runs through June 30, 2016.
Mayor Alberto Santos reminded the board that, “there is a financial consequence to removing a superintendent” which, if he’s removed “without cause,” could compel it to pay the entire amount remaining on Ferraro’s contract. “That’s tax dollars. It has to come from somewhere. So I want full disclosure,” he said.
Board Vice President Cecilia Lindenfelser responded: “We’re not naive about it. Nothing’s been done in regard to that.”
Santos said he hoped the board wouldn’t end up in a protracted legal battle with the superintendent comparable to the situation in the Perth Amboy public school system where the board voted twice to dump Superintendent Janine Caffrey who, twice, was ordered reinstated by the state Commissioner of Education but who continued to collect her $177,500 salary in the process. After the board placed her on administrative leave a third time, she dropped her appeal.
Board President Bernadette McDonald said she initiated the move to displace Ferraro after the board’s reorganization on Jan. 6 because the board was “getting mixed signals from the superintendent” in discussions about filling certain school jobs.
“At one meeting,” McDonald said, “[Ferraro] tells us one thing, the next meeting he tells us another. I have no confidence in what he says.” As an example, McDonald mentioned the board’s recent consideration of the appointment of a district truancy officer which ended up tabled because, according to McDonald, the superintendent was “wishy washy” on his recommendation for filling the position.
A bit later in the proceedings, Lindenfelser, who is an attorney, echoed McDonald’s gripe about alleged inconsistency by Ferraro on proposed hirings. “At least three times, we had discussions about certain appointments,” Lindenfelser said, “and we get to the meeting, and lo and behold, this is a completely different person put up [for the job].”
Aside from that, Lindenfelser said, “the superintendent made his own decision to terminate an employee without getting board ratification. … There are a lot of things that sent up red flags for me. … There was a huge lack of trust between the superintendent and the board.”
And that, Lindenfelser said, is why the board wants to hire an investigator to probe further into the legalities of the superintendent’s actions.
But board member John Leadbeater countered that Ferraro’s removal “was totally illegal” and based purely on “politics.”
“You stopped every single action [proposed by Ferraro] because it wasn’t the person you wanted,” Leadbeater asserted. “… Because you don’t like the way he doesn’t do business the way you expect it to be done, you want to run him out of town.”
McDonald said the board also needs to hire an investigator “to find out more about [Ferraro’s prior work] background. I never saw his transcripts.”
Ferraro, sitting in the audience during the meeting, which was held in the Franklin School auditorium, was accorded a chance to address the board and he used the occasion to defend his record in Kearny, citing his having engaged the community in developing a strategic plan for the district, resuming construction work at Kearny High and starting work at the Midland Ave. building.
“My first focus always has been the 6,000 children and 900 employees in the district,” he said.
Nonetheless, board member Sebastian Viscuso – who, along with board member James Doran Jr., had sought to have Ferraro removed three months after his hiring on the grounds that he failed to comply with the board’s policy that calls for at least 10 years’ teaching experience on the elementary and/ or secondary level – pressed Ferraro on his elementary/ high school classroom time which, according to Viscuso’s reckoning, totaled “315 days in four [school] years [during the mid to late 1980s].”
When Viscuso asked if those numbers were accurate, Ferraro said he couldn’t verify them. “That was 30 years ago,” he added.
As the discussion turned to the Jan. 6 appointment of Patricia Blood, district director of curriculum for grades 6 to 12, as acting superintendent, as opposed to Assistant Superintendent Debra Sheard, board member Samantha Paris said that, “teachers look up to Patti” because of Blood’s familiarity with the people working in the district.
In response, board member Dan Esteves suggested that it might have been more useful for some of his colleagues to have spent more time with the No. 2 district administrator “and learn more about the person instead of pushing your friends.”
Esteves put forward a motion to return Ferraro from administrative leave to the superintendent’s slot but his motion failed. Lindenfelser then proposed a resolution to solicit RFPs to hire an investigator “for a report on the activities and qualifications of the superintendent,” which passed.
“We’re paying [Ferraro] to stay home and do nothing,” Esteves grumbled.
McDonald said that if the investigator concludes that the superintendent has a clean record, “There’s a possibility that Mr. Ferraro could be reinstated.”