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

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

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Blood appointed

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  Take away the “acting” title: the Kearny Board of Education has formally installed Patricia Blood as its official superintendent of schools. The board took the action at a special meeting held last Thursday night at the Lincoln School. The vote was […]

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Kearny unveils new monument

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  On May 27, 1922, an estimated 25,000 people gathered in the streets around the small park where Kearny Ave. and Beech St. meet, to witness Gen. John J. Pershing personally dedicate the towering granite monument honoring the Kearny men who died […]

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Nutley cops hunt driver in fatal hit-run

A photo (above) of the suspect van was released Nov. 19 by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.   NUTLEY –  Nutley police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating the motor vehicle that struck and killed a 77-year-old woman on Centre St. on […]

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School is more than books for these kids

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  HARRISON –  At Washington Middle School in Harrison, nearly 75% of the more than 400 enrolled are just as busy with school-related projects after 3 p.m. as they are during their regular day of classes. And that’s partly by design of the school […]

 
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One back to work, one exiting?

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

For a decade – until his firing — Brian Doran was a maintenance employee for the Kearny Board of Education – even though, as someone with a non-violent criminal record, he wasn’t supposed to be working there.

Now it appears he’s coming back to work.

And the district’s chief administrator who fired him may be on his way out, permanently.

Doran’s initial hiring never became an issue – until after Frank Ferraro was appointed superintendent of schools in December 2012.

By the fall of 2013, Ferraro had received confirmation from the state Department of Education’s Criminal Review Unit that Doran had been arrested twice in Kearny in 1993 and once in Clifton in 1995, for DUI and marijuana use, all resulting in guilty pleas, which left Doran “permanently disqualified or ineligible for employment ….”

On Sept. 24, 2013, Ferraro terminated Doran, prompting Doran’s attorney (and cousin) Mathew Doran, in October, to sue the Kearny Board of Education and Ferraro in an effort to get his cousin reinstated on the grounds that Ferraro violated his client’s rights as a tenured school employee by failing to present the case against him before his dismissal; that Ferraro violated board policy by terminating without a board vote; that Ferraro and the board violated state law by failing to get his client’s consent for a background check; and that they violated his right to due process by failing to allow him to respond to the criminal allegations.

Moreover, the attorney noted, on Oct. 10, 2013, his client’s criminal record was expunged by Hudson County Superior Court Judge John Young Jr.

Meanwhile, in January 2014, the board placed Ferraro on an involuntary paid leave and in August 2014, it voted to bring tenure charges against Ferraro, alleging that he improperly discussed Doran’s personnel record with his mother and misrepresented his job credentials.

All this activity culminated last Thursday with the board voting 6-0 – James Doran Jr. (Bryan’s uncle) and John Leadbeater were absent and Dan Esteves left early – to approve a proposed settlement of the Doran lawsuit with Bryan Doran and the state Department of Education by permitting Bryan Doran’s reinstatement to his old job at his old salary.

Board attorney Ken Lindenfelser said the settlement was recommended by the board’s Jersey City special counsel, Genova, Burns, Giantomasi & Webster in consideration of the overall uncertainty about the Doran situation: that the DOE apparently never ran Doran’s prints when he was hired; that Doran disclosed his criminal background when he was hired; and that Doran kept working because no one told him not to.

Lindenfelser said that Carl Carabelli, manager of the DOE’s Criminal Review Unit, has signed off on the settlement agreement but that before it can take effect, it must be sanctioned by the state Commissioner of Education.

Also, Brian Doran would submit himself to a criminal background check to ensure he’s had a clean record since his last known criminal act.

If the Commissioner does approve it, Brian Doran will agree to release the DOE and the Kearny BOE from any future liability.

One issue that remains unsettled, Lindenfelser said, is whether Doran could pursue a demand for back pay for the time between his termination and reinstatement.

Meanwhile, Ferraro is scheduled for his tenure charge hearing Oct. 28 in Newark before state arbitrator Gerard Restaino unless he happens to get a new job.

According to an online report filed Oct. 8 by Times Warner Cable News, Ferraro is reportedly one of two finalists for superintendent of the Central Valley School District in Ilion, N.Y.

“We’ll see what happens,” Ferraro told The Observer. “I’m keeping my options open.”

WE’VE GOT MAIL

‘SOBER HOUSE’ CONTROVERSY

To the editor: 

It was with a heavy heart that I read the Sept. 17 article “Sober house rattles residents.” I personally know and work with Charles Valentine and I have seen firsthand the good work that he does in the lives of those he and his wife, Lisa, serve. All I could think when reading the article was, “They don’t know Charles.”

I certainly understand the desire of the residents of Kearny to feel safe, and to provide a safe haven for their children. As the mom of two small children, I understand this passionately and with vehemence. That is why I must write in support of Charles, Lisa and Valentine House. Charles has centered his life around doing the work of Jesus by helping the forgotten, the underserved and the broken. And who of us does not have a broken part in our lives? Who is not in need of some love, compassion, and a helping hand occasionally?

I implore you: Give Valentine House and the men who live there the chance you would hope to have yourself, or the chance you might hope for your child, your father or your brother. Because that’s who’s living there: someone’s son, someone’s father, someone’s brother.

Kerry Connelly 

Community Involvement Coordinator 

The LIFE Christian Church 

West Orange 

Thoughts & Views: The day that saw hell on earth

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Oct. 8, 1871, was a really bad day for the American Midwest.

As we learned Sunday at the Kearny Fire Department’s Open House (see story p. 3), national Fire Prevention Week is held the week of Oct. 8 to mark the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.

That historic blaze (which was NOT started by Mrs. O’Leary’s much-maligned cow) broke out about 9 p.m. on the 8th, consumed much of the city on the 9th, and more or less burnt itself out on the 10th, with a little help from a rainstorm.

In the 19th century, Chicago was primarily a city of wood. Not only most of its buildings, but also its sidewalks and many streets were wooden. Add to that all the tarred roofs, and a three-month drought, and numerous lumber yards and coal yards within the city limits, and strong winds blowing the embers hither and yon, and the fact that the Chicago Fire Department’s equipment amounted to 17 horse-drawn engines, and it’s a wonder the flames didn’t spread to Milwaukee.

When it was over, 300 people were dead, more than 100,000 were homeless, and 17,500 buildings were in ashes. The death toll is likely inaccurate, since there was speculation that people jumped into the Chicago River to escape the flames, drowned and were never found, and others may have been completely incinerated.

As for the O’Learys, although the blaze is thought to have begun in or near their barn, the tale of a cow kicking over a lantern while being milked has been debunked. First of all, cows are usually asleep at 9 p.m. But in any case, the Chicago Tribune reporter who originally wrote the bovine story finally admitted in 1893 that he had made the whole thing up because it made good copy. (For shame.) To this day, the actual cause is unknown.

Now, as devastating as the Chicago fire was, it could not hold a candle to another conflagration on the very same day. But aside from those living in the area, relatively few people have ever heard of it, although it claimed more lives than any fire in U.S. history.

In Peshtigo, Wisc., a logging town, woodlands were being cleared by small, controlled fires. But on Oct. 8, 1871, a cold front swept in with strong winds that, according to Wikipedia, “fanned the fires out of control and escalated them to massive proportions. A firestorm ensued.”

Described as “nature’s nuclear explosion,” a firestorm is a tornado of flames.

One book, “Firestorm at Peshtigo,” cited “a wall of flame, a mile high, five miles wide, traveling 90 to 100 mph, hotter than a crematorium.”

Though the blaze began in a forest, it spread over 1.5 million acres and consumed 12 communities. The death toll, at minimum, was 1,200, but some estimates are as high as 2,500. Many victims were buried in a mass grave, because there was no one left alive to identify them. And yet, Peshtigo is now forgotten.

That’s the history lesson for today.

Spare a thought for all fire victims. And all firefighters.

– Karen Zautyk 

‘Candy bar’ suspect arrested: NPD blotter

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A young Nutley man has been arrested as the suspected intruder who surprised an elderly woman in her apartment on Oct. 7.

At 3:48 p.m., Nutley PD responded to the Senior Housing building on William St. on a report of an unknown man in a woman’s apartment.

Police said the 93-year-old tenant told them that when she entered her fourth-floor apartment, she was confronted by a white male in his early 20s who handed her a candy bar and fled.

After reviewing video surveillance at the scene, police determined that the man had entered the building, while trailing an unsuspecting resident, then proceeded to the fourth floor apartment.

Two days later, police arrested Stephen Nemec, 21, of Nutley, on a burglary charge. The suspect told police he was looking for a friend who lives on the fourth floor and accidentally entered the woman’s apartment.

Police said Nemec admitted following a resident into the building that requires a key to access.

Nemec was taken to the Essex County Jail after failing to post 10% of his $25,000 bail.

In addition to 37 medical calls and 13 motor vehicle accidents, police also responded to the above incident and others, listed below, during the past week:

Oct. 4 

Someone entered an auto parked on Oak St. and rummaged through the interior, taking several items, the owner told police. Police said there was no sign of forced entry.

•••

Two separate fraud incidents were reported to police. A Rhoda Ave. resident said that someone had opened an American Express account using her identity and made a $200 charge on the account for which she is being held responsible. A Washington Ave. resident told police that MoneyLoan.com had notified them they were approved for a $3,000 loan and, after calling to cancel, someone kept hanging up on them, until, finally, someone answered and said they’d cancel the plan for a fee of $69 which the victim sent. Police said MoneyLoan. com is a site name for sale.

Oct. 5 

Someone broke into a Race St. garage by removing the lower part of the rear side window and stole several tools, police said. The victim noticed a tool case on the ground and realized several of the tools were missing.

Oct. 6 

Someone burglarized an auto parked on Highland Ave. and removed the owner’s black leather wallet with a bank debit card and driver’s license, along with a $120 Panasonic subwoofer, (which police said they later recovered from a Bloomfield arrest). The owner told police he had trouble locking the vehicle’s driver’s side door following an accident.

•••

While conducting a motor vehicle checkpoint on Franklin Ave., police said they observed a white Nissan Pathfinder with an expired/rejected inspection sticker whose driver, Darneil D. Morgan, 20, of Paterson, had an active warrant from Woodland Park. Morgan was released after getting a new court date in Woodland Park.

•••

A Grant Ave. resident reported an attempted fraud after getting a call from a man who identified himself as a “Kevin Brown from the IRS” who claimed the resident owed $3,247 in back taxes from 2010- 2011 and told the resident to pay that amount in cash within the hour or face arrest.

Oct. 7 

An unlocked car parked on Ohlson Ave. was entered and its rear seat contents, along with the glove box, were ransacked, the owner told police.

•••

A Cathedral Ave. resident came to HQ to report a fraud. They said their bank froze their compromised checking account and opened a new one and issued a new checkbook. Then, the resident said, someone claiming to be “Tina” with the bank told them that in order to open a new checking account, they needed to make a cash deposit of $5,000 and that a courier would be sent to their home to collect the money. The resident said that a woman, about 5-feet-four, who said she was “Ms. Walls” came to their home and collected $4,000 in cash in $100 bills. Police contacted a bank representative who told them that the bank would never send a representative to a client’s home to pick up cash. Detectives are investigating.

•••

A Chestnut St. resident called police to complaint that ivy being grown by a neighbor near a retaining wall that separates both properties had spread across their entire backyard, including both sides of their residence. Police advised them they can remove any ivy on their property.

Oct. 8 

Police responded to a Franklin Ave. location on a report of someone driving a maroon Chevrolet Suburban in an erratic manner. After stopping the vehicle, police said they spotted a hypodermic needle and several envelopes that the driver was allegedly trying to hide between her legs. Police said the driver, Stephanie Jankin, 24, of Nutley, was combative and refused to comply with officers’ orders. Jankin was arrested on charges of possession of suspected heroin, possession of hypodermic needle, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest and was also ticketed for alleged violations of operating a motor vehicle while in possession of CDS and maintenance of lamps. After failing to post $5,000 bail with no 10% cash option, Jankin was taken to the Essex County Jail.

– Ron Leir 

Ugly symbol of bigotry

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Two Belleville men were arrested last week for allegedly vadalizing vehicles at a Kearny trucking company. The owner of the company is Jewish. Two of the four trucks damaged were defaced with swastikas.

Kearny Police Chief John Dowie said the crime was discovered at 7 a.m. Oct. 3 at the Star City property on Third St. off Schuyler Ave. Responding Officer Peter Jahera was advised by a manager that vandals had struck sometime overnight.

Keys were taken from four trucks, police said, and the headlights were broken. A windshield was also smashed. A large swastika was painted on the side of one truck; another swastika, on the side door of a second, and a profanity on the front of a third.

KPD Akim Dolor

KPD
Akim Dolor

 

 

The case was turned over to Det. Michael Gonzalez, who developed at least two suspects after viewing security videos from the area around the lot.

At 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 8, Gonzalez and Det. John Plaugic arrested 26-year-old Frederick Vangeldren in Belleville. Akim Dolor, 24, of Belleville was taken into custody by Gonzalez and Plaugic in Bloomfield the following day.

Both Vangeldren and Dolor have been charged with bias intimidation, criminal mischief and conspiracy. They were remanded to the Hudson County Jail: Vangeldren, reportedly on $15,000 bail; Dolor, on $7,500.

Dowie said a third person is thought to have been involved in the incident, and the investigation is continuing.

The State Bias Crime Unit has been advised of the arrests.

– Karen Zautyk 

Who’s who of Kearny ‘celebs’ in ‘Tribute to Old Time Radio’

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By Kevin Canessa Jr. 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

Most Kearny residents are quite used to seeing Mayor Alberto G. Santos cutting ribbons. We’ve all seen, at one point or another, Councilwomen Sue McCurrie and Carol Jean Doyle marching along in the big parade on St. Patrick’s Day up to their necks in shamrocks.

We’ve all read Jim Hague’s sports columns and stories right here on the pages of this newspaper. And yet, the aforementioned, and several other notables of Kearny, will be way out of their element on Oct. 24 and 25 as they star in the kickoff to the West Hudson Arts & Theatre Company’s new season in “A Tribute to Old Time Radio.”

That’s right — Kearny’s mayor and two councilwomen will be on stage with Jim Hague, his wife, Superior Court Judge Mary Costello, Vince Abbott, Dr. John Branwell, Cecilia Lindenfelser, John Peneda, Phil Thiele, Steven Thiele, Edmund Shea, Robert Strauch and Robert Zika.

They’ll be appearing in the old-time radio plays “Boston Blackie and the Fur Trade,” “The Great McGinty” and “Our Miss Brooks.”

Jerry Ficeto, a founding member and president of the W.H.A.T. board, says the idea was to bring together a group of well-known Kearny residents to put on a show that would draw people who might not otherwise go to a play. And let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to see a starstudded cast like this performing?

“We’re always thinking community,” Ficeto said. “Putting something like this on makes people want to see the people they know performing — people who are not normally on the stage. This is what we’re all about. And we figured we’d bring it all back to where performances started — on the radio — where the stars don’t need to memorize their lines.

“It’s a much easier way to act.”

That’s because just like back in the day when there were radio performances, the cast here will have all their lines right in front of them. They’ll be performing as if they were really broadcasting on the radio. Each segment is 28 to 30 minutes.

Linda Kraus D’Isa Cast practicing in reading positions.

Linda Kraus D’Isa
Cast practicing in reading positions.

 

But it hardly means the participants won’t be getting into character, Ficeto says. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

“At first I thought it might take some time for them to get into their roles, but it was only a matter of minutes,” Ficeto said. “For example, the mayor (Santos) plays a police role. And it didn’t take long for a fellow cast member, Judge (Mary) Costello, to tell him he might have a job in law enforcement if he ever steps away from being mayor.

“I mean, it really took about 20 minutes before everyone was taking on their characters, doing the voices. It’s just magnificent.”

Just how much does Ficeto think the show will attract people?

“Before tickets were even on sale, the first call came from [Essex County Assignment] Costello — Mary’s sister, Patricia,” Ficeto said. “We certainly hope other family members and friends do the same.”

During the weekend of performances, W.H.A.T. will kick off its 2014-15 season fundraising drive. As a grassroots organization, fundraising is vitally essential to ensure a full season of shows and educational programs.

“So there will, indeed, be opportunities for the people who come to the shows over that weekend to get involved with our fundraising efforts,” Ficeto said. “Community theater is the people’s theater. And at W.H.A.T., we are reminded that part of its beauty is seeing friends and neighbors on stage, having fun and sharing a passion.”

The two performances will take place at the W.H.A.T. Theater, at the First Lutheran Church, 65 Oakwood Ave., Kearny, on Friday, Oct. 24, and Saturday, Oct. 25, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are just $12 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens and may be purchased by calling 201- 467-8624 or by visiting www.whatco.org.

9th annual ‘Harvest of Hope’ this week

The Connie Dwyer Breast Center at St. Michael’s Medical Center, Newark, will host its ninth annual “Harvest of Hope” Friday, Oct. 17, at 6:30 p.m., at the Park Savoy Estate in Florham Park.

The event includes a cocktail reception, dinner and dancing, an awards presentation, a live auction, silent auction and 50/50 raffle.

Proceeds will support the Connie Dwyer Breast Center’s mission to provide top-quality breast care — from screening and diagnosis to treatment and followup –for all women.

Over the years, funds raised have allowed the center to purchase the most innovative technology in breast imaging, including two 3-D mammography suites with tomosynthesis, two advanced ultrasound units and equipment to offer 24-hour rapid diagnosis to breast biopsy patients.

For more information about “Harvest of Hope,” including ticket pricing, contact Janet Lesko at 973-877- 2624 or jlesko@smmcnj.org.

KPD suspect: Someone will die

The incident began in a bizarre manner and, as Kearny Police Chief John Dowie noted, it could have ended far worse than it did.

Last Friday, Oct. 10, police were sent to the 200 block of Oakwood Ave. after headquarters began receiving calls that a man was going door-to-door asking for a charger for his cell phone.

At 2:30 in the morning. Officers Michael Santucci and Angelo Palagano responded, got a description of the individual and soon located Justin Schultz, 23, of Ridgefield walking at Oakwood and Chestnut St. As the cops approached to question him, he reportedly refused to halt and ignored repeated orders to remove his hand from his pocket.

Backing away, he warned them that “someone is going to die tonight,” Dowie said. The officers “advanced on him at their own risk,” the chief said, and as Palagano temporarily blinded Schultz with a flashlight, Santucci employed OC spray. Schultz tried to flee but, his vision impaired by the spray, he ran into a parked car and the officers were able to apprehend him, although he reportedly fought their attempts to handcuff him.

The item Schultz was clutching in his pocket turned out to be a cell phone.

He was charged with resisting arrest, aggravated assault on a police officer and obstruction of the administration of law.

• • •

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

Oct. 2 

At 1:15 p.m., a caller on the 100 block of Sanford Ave. reported seeing a man enter a backyard without a bicycle and leave with one. Officer Peter Jahera searched the area and located Danny Morales, 36, of Newark, who was ID’d by the witness.

Police said Morales was in possession of not only a bike but also a ShopRite bag containing $88 worth of Enfamil baby formula. Since the suspect was far closer to Walmart than to ShopRite, the former was contacted. Walmart scanned the cans and identified them as its property. Morales was charged with shoplifting as well as theft of the bike.

•••

Officers Michael Santucci, Glenn Reed and Chris Medina responded to an 11 p.m. domestic dispute on Tappan St., where a man was reportedly “breaking up the house.” As Santucci was questioning him, 37-year-old Jan Himenez reportedly slammed and locked the door on the officer, who then heard the sounds of objects being broken inside.

After Santucci forced entry, pushing aside a TV blocking the door, Himenez allegedly flipped over a glass table and shoved it against the officer. Taken to the floor, he fought attempts by the three cops to cuff him, but was eventually restrained, taken to headquarters and booked for criminal mischief, resisting arrest and three counts of aggravated assault on a police officer.

Oct. 3 

Officers Palagano and Medina responded to Walmart at 1:30 a.m. after security reported that a shoplifter was somewhere in the parking lot with a cart full of merchandise ($1,264 worth). The officers spotted the suspect, Terrea Harding, 28, of Newark, loading items into a vehicle and brought her back to the store, where she was identified. Security then noted that a second woman, still inside, had stolen a cell phone, and the cops apprehended Nikiyah Linton, also 28 and from Newark. Police said the pair had been acting in concert.

Both were charged with shoplifting and conspiracy. Harding was also charged with resisting arrest and hindering apprehension, and police said Linton had an outstanding warrant from Newark.

•••

At 3:40 a.m., a Kearny woman advised Officer Santucci that she had been confronted earlier on Quincy Ave. by an acquaintance, Jorge Balseca, 30, of Kearny, who had smashed her parked car with a club. Balseca came to HQ at Santucci’s request and was arrested for criminal mischief and possession of a weapon.

•••

Officer Sean Kelly, investigating a 5 p.m. hit-run accident at Passaic and Park Aves., was advised that an off-duty N.J. state trooper had witnessed the mishap and had followed the offending vehicle, a black Honda Civic, to Passaic and Bergen Aves. Kelly and Sgt. Charles Smith arrived there to see Lorenzo Devone, 28, of Belleville, reportedly staggering away from the car. After field sobriety tests and an Alcotest, he was charged with DWI and having an open container of alcohol (a cup of vodka found in the center console) in a vehicle. Police said he also had a warrant from East Newark.

•••

At 5:45 p.m., Officer Daniel Esteves was on patrol on Johnston Ave. when his mobile computer alerted him to a Nissan with an expired Texas registration. He also confirmed that owner Emmanuel Abreu, 22, of Kearny had an outstanding Kearny warrant. Abreu was arrested and the car was impounded.

•••

At 6:30 p.m., at Afton St. and Kearny Ave., off-duty Det. Michael Gonzalez observed Daniel Tammaro, 19, of Kearny, whom he knew to have a Kearny warrant. Officers Brian Wisely and Kevin Arnesman searched the area and took Tammaro into custody.

Oct. 5 

At 3:20 a.m., after a report of an individual asleep in a car, Officer Jay Ward found a Hyundai stopped in the northbound lane of Kearny Ave. at Hoyt St. — its engine running, the car in drive, and the driver in dreamland.

Police said Ward put the auto in park and, after several attempts, managed to awaken Ranulfo Almeida, 32, of Kearny. Believing Almeida to be too intoxicated to perform FSTs, Ward brought him to HQ , where he reportedly refused to answer questions or submit to an Alcotest. He was charged with DWI, DWI in a school zone, refusal to take the Alcotest and reckless driving.

Oct. 7 

At 4:30 p.m., Ward arrested yet another slumberer at Kearny Ave. and Hoyt St., but this one was napping on the lawn at St. Cecilia’s Church. Along with Officer Arnesman, Ward roused Arthur Smith, 50, of Kearny, who reportedly became confrontational. Smith was charged with disorderly conduct and was also issued a summons for public intoxication.

Oct. 8 

Officer Jack Grimm, assigned to 2:30 p.m. dismissal duty at Kearny High School, saw in the area Franklin Salcedo, 18, of Kearny, whom he knew to be wanted on a township warrant. A search incident to arrest reportedly produced a plastic bag of suspected marijuana. Salcedo was charged on the warrant and with possession of the drug and drug paraphernalia.

Oct. 9 

Shortly before 1 a.m., it was back to Walmart, where Officer Palagano took into custody a woman whom security said had been trying to conceal clothing in her pocketbook. Jaleesa Torres, 25, of Irvington was arrested for shoplifting and on a theft warrant from Newark, motor vehicle warrants from Summit and Elizabeth and a town ordinance violation warrant from East Orange.

•••

At 8 p.m., on the 500 block of Forest St., Officer Kelly came upon the week’s Sleeper No. 3, a teenager snoozing on the sidewalk, his feet propped up on a large bag of laundry. When awakened, he reportedly was disoriented and showed signs of intoxication.

While attempting to ID him, Kelly put him in the radio car, but the youth became agitated, tried to push past the officer and then kicked him, police said. At that point, he was cuffed and taken to HQ , where he had to be forcibly removed from the car.

Later identified as a 17-yearold Kearny resident, he was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, resisting arrest and underage possession of alcohol, and was released in the custody of his father.

 – Karen Zautyk  

Around Town

Belleville 

The Township of Belleville hosts a Community Shredding Day for residents only (no businesses) Saturday, Oct. 18, 8 a.m. to noon, at the Senior Recreation Center, 125 Franklin Ave. Proof of residence must be shown.

Belleville Public Library and Information Center, 221 Washington Ave., hosts a screening of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” Saturday, Oct. 18, at 2 p.m. and a Halloween party on Saturday, Oct. 25, at 2 p.m. No registration is required.

Belleville Elks Lodge 1123, 254 Washington Ave., holds its monthly breakfast Sunday, Oct. 19, 9 a.m. to noon. Cost is $6 for adults and $3 for children under age 10 and children under age 3 are admitted free.

Belleville UNICO sponsors a bus ride fundraiser to the Taj Mahal, Atlantic City, Sunday, Oct. 19. Cost is $30 prepaid or $35 the day of the trip. (Receive $35 slot play) The bus will leave at 8:50 a.m. from the Senior Citizens Center, 125 Franklin Ave. A continental breakfast will be served at the center at 8 a.m. Call 973-759-9259 to reserve seats. (No last minute cancellations. Mail checks, payable to Belleville UNICO, to: Gene Antonio, 436 Joralemon St., Belleville, N.J. 07109.

All civic associations, classic cars and motorcycle clubs are invited to participate in the Belleville Veterans Day Parade Sunday, Nov. 9, at 1 p.m. Those interested may contact Bill Steimel at 973-759-4692 (home) or 973-955-7211 (cell) no later than Oct. 17.

Bloomfield 

Bloomfield Public Library, 90 Broad St., announces these upcoming events:

  • Learn about the reasons for hauntings and related topics from Shirl Knobloch, author of “The Returning Ones, A Medium’s Memoirs,” Saturday, October 25, at 2 p.m.
  • Book Club meets Monday, Nov. 3, 6:45 to 7:45 p.m., to discuss “I Am Not Esther” by Fleur Beale. For more information, call the reference desk at 973-566-6200, ext. 219 or 220.

Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center, 240 Belleville Ave., offers these events:

  • A Garden of Pink Dedication celebrating the center’s “Sponsor a Tulip” program for its Breast Cancer Awareness garden is slated for Oct. 18 at 10 a.m. A one-time $25 fee buys a bulb and assures its care.
  • Children ages 3 to 9 are invited to “Party with the Great Pumpkin” and enjoy snacks, crafts and a chance to take a picture with the pumpkin on Oct. 18 at 11 a.m. Reservations are required.

For tickets, reservations or information, call 973-429-0960.

East Newark 

Borough Council urges residents to avail themselves of free breast and prostate cancer screenings. Fill out an eligibility form at the Municipal Building, 34 Sherman Ave., on Mondays and Wednesdays, between 5 and 7 p.m. Screenings are open to women ages 35 and 64 for mammography, women ages 21 and 64 for pap smear and men ages 50 and 64 for prostate/colon screenings. Eligible participants must have no insurance or indicate that their current insurance will not pay for these screenings. Income limits vary with the degree of insurance, so those with limited or no insurance are advised to fill out an initial eligibility form.

Harrison 

The Women’s Social Club of the Harrison/East Newark Elks Lodge sponsors a bus ride to Caesar’s Casino, Atlantic City, Sunday, Oct. 26. Cost is $30 with a $25 slot bet in return. A bus leaves from the lodge, 406 Harrison Ave., at 10 a.m. For reservations, call Shirley at 973- 483-6451. Participants must pay in advance.

Kearny 

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate/Coccia Realty sponsors a coat drive, Oct. 15 to Nov. 15, at its Kearny, Lyndhurst and Rutherford offices. Coats will be distributed to the less fortunate in the area. Drop off gently used or new coats between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays or from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends at any of these participating offices: 636 Kearny Ave., Kearny; 273 Ridge Road, Lyndhurst; or 11 Park Ave., Rutherford. For more information, call Randy Wine at 201-939-0001.

Presbyterian Boys-Girls Club, 663 Kearny Ave., hosts the East Coast Professional wrestlers Friday, Oct. 17, at 7:30 p.m. Advance tickets are $12 and are available at Sunset Deli, 680 Kearny Ave., and at Big Nick’s Pizza, 72 Davis Ave., or call Tom Fraser at 201-991- 6734.

Kearny Recreation Department is holding registration for the 2014 Street Hockey League season through Friday, Oct. 17, at its office at Town Hall, 402 Kearny Ave. Registration hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays. All boys and girls ages 6 to 14 (must turn 15 after Jan. 1) are eligible to participate. A registration fee, proof of residence and birth certificate are required. Players must furnish: hockey shin guards, gloves, elbow pads, helmet with cage, mouth guard, athletic cup (for boys) and hockey stick. Coaches, assistant coaches and referees are needed. For more information, call 201-955-7983.

Kearny Lions Club sponsors a flea market and collectible show Sunday, Oct. 19, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Frank Vincent Marina, 205 Passaic Ave. (next to Applebee’s and Burger King). Admission is free. For information, call 201-998-1144 or email events@jcpromotions.info.

The Salvation Army of Greater Kearny, 443 Chestnut St., offers classes in basic computer skills plus Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint Mondays and Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to noon. The fee is $30 for 12 hours of instruction. For more information, call 201-991-1115 or Pete at 201-889-1352.

Grace United Methodist Church, 380 Kearny Ave., sponsors a turkey dinner Friday, Oct. 17, 5 to 6:45 p.m. Admission to the dinner is $10 but there is no charge for a live auction beginning at 7 p.m. Dinner tickets may be purchased at the door. Take-out orders will be available. For more information, call 201-991- 1132.

Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., offers the following free programs:

  • No-Bake Cooking classes, for ages 4 to 8, are held Wednesdays, 4 to 5:30 p.m., beginning Oct. 22. The class will meet for four weeks. Recipes will take food allergies into consideration.
  • Tempest Storybook Theatre, an interactive story and craft program, open to all ages, celebrating the books of Bernard Waber, is offered Saturday, Oct. 25, at 10 a.m.

Space is limited. To reserve a spot, call 201-998-2666.

The Rosary Society of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 136 Davis Ave., sponsors an Oktoberfest, with live music and food, Friday, Oct. 24, in the church basement. (BYOB). Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $25. For tickets, call 201- 991-2808 or 201-998-4616.

A Doggie Halloween Parade and Festival, sponsored by the Kearny Urban Enterprise Zone program, is set for Saturday, Oct. 25, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Arlington Depot Park, off Midland Ave., between Forest and Elm Sts. Dogs can be registered for a costume contest by providing a current dog license and proof of rabies vaccine. Registration forms are available at www.kearnynj.org, the KUEZ office at 410 Kearny Ave., or K-9 corner, 169 Midland Ave. For more information, call 201-955-7985 or email Halloweenpawrade@kearnynj. org. All dogs either attending or participating in the festival must be leashed.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1302 and American Legion Post 99, in conjunction with the Kearny Police and Fire Departments, host Octoberfest Saturday, Oct. 18, noon to 6 p.m., at Veteran’s Field, Bergen Ave. and Afton St. Proceeds will be used to send items to N.J. National Guard soldiers deployed overseas. Bring nonperishable items to send. The event features live music, food and displays from both the Kearny Fire Department and the N.J. National Guard. Vendors and sponsors are needed. For more information, call the post at 201-991-9645.

Lyndhurst 

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3549, 527 Valley Brook Ave., hosts karaoke on Friday, Oct. 24, beginning at 7:30 p.m. The post hall is available for all occasions. For more information, call 201-939-3080.

ShopRite of Lyndhurst, an Inserra Supermarkets store, 540 New York Ave., hosts the following free programs, each led by in-store registered dietician Julie Harrington. Advance registration is not required, unless otherwise noted. For more information or to pre-register for a program, contact Harrington at 201-419-9154 or email Julie. harrington@wakefern.com. ShopRite’s retail dietitians can serve as guest speakers/ instructors at wellness events hosted by local organizations. Here are the upcoming events:

  • Fall Harvest Cooking Class teaches how to use fall’s fresh bounty to prepare a delicious and nutritious meal Wednesday, Oct. 22, at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Pre-registration is required.
  • Scary Facts about Sugar are shared at the Dietitian’s Corner Thursday, Oct. 23, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • High Fiber Friday at the Dietitian’s Corner explains how to meet your fiber requirements Fridays, Oct. 24 and 31, noon to 2 p.m.
  • Soups and Stocks Cooking Class offers tips on how to make a tasty stock and a new soup recipe Tuesday, Oct. 28, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Pre-registration is required.

The Third-Tuesday-of-the- Month Walk with the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and the Bergen County Audubon Society is slated for Tuesday, Oct. 21. This free two-hour nature walk starts at 10 a.m. at the entrance to Losen Slote Creek Park in Little Ferry. Check meadowblog.net for last-minute weather updates. Participants are asked to sign a standard liability release for this event that is good for NJMC/BCAS events throughout the year. To R.S.V.P., contact Don Torino of the BCAS or call 201-230-4983.

Lyndhurst Public Library, 353 Valley Brook Ave., hosts the following events:

  • Children ages 3 to 10 can meet “Belinda Bumble Bee” author Jennifer Katafigotis Wednesday, Oct. 22, 4 to 4:30 p.m. • Halloween craft, for K to grade 4, is held Monday, Oct. 27, 3:30 to 4:15 p.m.
  • Halloween Parade, for Pre- K to grade 3, steps off Friday, Oct. 31, at 3:30 p.m.
  • Book Club discusses “The Body in the Library” by Agatha Christie Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 6:30 p.m. Call the library at 201-804-2478, ext. 7, for more information and to obtain a copy of the book. Space is limited.

Registration is required for all of these events. To register, call the library at 201-804-2478.

The Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst sponsors a children’s Tricky Tray Oct. 18, at noon, at the Senior Building, 250 Cleveland Ave. Admission is $5. For tickets, call Janet at 201-935-1208.

Lyndhurst Health Department, 601 Riverside Ave., hosts a dinner and osteoporosis seminar Wednesday, Oct. 22, at 6 p.m., at the Senior Center, 250 Cleveland Ave. Call 201-804- 2500 to register.

North Arlington 

Queen of Peace Rosary Society sponsors a Tricky Tray Friday, Oct. 17, at 6 p.m., at San Carlo Fine Caterers, Lyndhurst. The $40 admission includes a four-course dinner and one sheet of small prize tickets. Among the prizes are gift baskets, gift certificates, an iPad and more. Grand prize values start at $500. For more information and tickets, call Betsy at 201-997-3914 or Pegeen at 201-246-1030.

North Arlington Elks Lodge 1992, 129 Ridge Road, hosts its 11th annual Memorial Tailgate Party on Sunday Oct. 19. The parking lot opens at noon. Admission is $ 20 (kids free). Queen of Peace Church in North Arlington will celebrate Priest Appreciation Sunday, Oct. 26, 1 to 3 p.m. Call 201-997- 0700 for more information.

North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Road, offers the following programs:

  • Computer Basics class is slated for Mondays in November from 6 to 7 p.m.
  • Decorative Arts program features a representative of the Newark Museum presenting an overview of the museum’s vast decorative arts collection Thursday, Oct. 23, at 6 p.m.
  • Woman’s Club Craft, open to K to grade 5, is held Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 6:30 p.m. No registration is required.

For more information, call the library at 201-955-5640. Registration is required, unless otherwise noted.

The Senior Harmony Club of North Arlington sponsors a trip to Trump Taj Mahal, Atlantic City, Tuesday, Oct. 21. Cost of the trip is $25. Attendees will receive $30 in slot play and $5 for food. Non-members are welcome. For reservations or more information, call Florence at 201-991-3173.

North Arlington Woman’s Club sponsors a beefsteak fundraiser Friday, Oct. 24, 7 to 11 p.m., at the Knights of Columbus hall, 194 River Road. Tickets are $40. Proceeds benefit various local charities. For tickets and more information, call Christine at 201-577-1088 or Fran Sardoni at 973-818-6421.

Nutley 

Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive, offers the following programs:

  • Teen Graphic Novel Club, open to grades 9 to 12, meets Monday, Oct. 20, at 3:30 p.m.
  • Teach a Librarian Minecraft, open to grades 7 to 12, is offered on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. The library will have food and some devices available but kids are encouraged to bring their own if they can.
  • Cook-with-a-Book Reading Club. for grades 4 to 6, meets Friday, Oct. 24, at 3:30 p.m. The group will discuss a book and cook up something fun to eat. Registration is required.
  • Halloween Costume Party is slated for Monday, Oct. 27, at 6:30 p.m. Registration is required.
  • Teen Zombie Night, open to grades 7 to 12, will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 28, at 6:30 p.m. This event includes zombie costume contest, pizza, games and a movie.
  • Pumpkin Painting, with pumpkins and supplies provided, is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 30, at 10:30 a.m. Wear an old T-shirt and bring a box to take your pumpkin home. This is open only to Nutley residents with library card. Registration is required.

For more information, call 973-667-0405.

Postman charged in check thefts

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By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

A U.S. Postal Service letter carrier has been charged with stealing more than $20,000 in federal tax refunds from four Lyndhurst residents’ mailboxes, police said.

Investigators from the USPS working with Lyndhurst Police Sgt. John Kerner traced the thefts to a particular postal employee who delivered mail to all four victims who live in the same neighborhood, according to Lyndhurst Det. Sgt. John Valente.

In the process, “we cleared four cases dating from last spring and summer,” Valente said.

Police charged Elvis Castillo, 45, of Union City, with four counts of theft on Oct. 8 after federal postal investigators brought the suspect to police headquarters for processing.

Castillo was released, pending a court date, after posting 10% cash of his $5,000 bail, Valente said.

Castillo has been linked to these federal tax refund thefts:

• A check in the amount of $4,215 reported stolen May 31, 2013, from a location in the 700 block of First St.

• A check for $4,183 reported stolen July 8, 2013, from a location in the 600 block of Lewandowski St.

• A check for $4,407 reported stolen July 23 from a location in the 700 block of Third St.

• A check for $7,200 also reported stolen July 23 from a location in the 600 block of Third St.

All of the victims are within a couple of blocks of each other, Valente said.

Valente said that Castillo reportedly told postal investigators that he was involved in a scheme to take the checks through another individual who would actually take them from the mailboxes and that he (Castillo) would get $500 for each of his “tips” to the alleged confederate.

Valente said he hasn’t been made aware of any other individuals who may have been charged in the caper.

Valente said the stolen checks were cashed at various banks but, again, he said he wasn’t privy to the means or method of how that happened. Any possible forgery charges, for example, would be filed in the community in which the crime occurred, he said.

In other criminal incidents logged by Lyndhurst PD during the past week, police corralled two North Arlington teens in connection with burglaries to vehicles parked in the area of Elizabeth Ave. and Lewandowski St. on Oct. 10.

Police responded to the area at 9:17 p.m. on a report that two females were seen in the neighborhood checking out parked cars and got a description of the females from a resident. A bit later, police – acting on those descriptions – grabbed Maria Mendieta, 19, at Schuyler and Elizabeth Aves., and a 17-year-old girl at Union Ave. at the North Arlington border. Each had less than $5 in pocket change – pennies, nickels and dimes – which police believe was taken from two of the cars in Lyndhurst. Both were charged with theft. The 17-yearold was released, pending a juvenile hearing, to her parents.

On Oct. 12, at 6:08 p.m., police received a report that a boy’s Pacific Silver Wing bicycle, yellow and red, with two flat tires, valued at $100, was stolen from the rear of a residence in the 200 block of Tontine Ave.

And, on Oct. 5, police issued Christine Renna, 32, of Lyndhurst, a summons charging her with shoplifting after security personnel at ShopRite on New York Ave. detained Renna as she was allegedly trying to leave the store with $73 worth of miscellaneous items in her shopping cart.

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