By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent LYNDHURST – After what Lyndhurst Mayor Robert Giangeruso characterized as “33 years of starts and stops,” the township – with help from Bergen County – is finally beginning to see the start of improvements to the intersection at Kingsland and Riverside Aves. The changes […]
A Belleville man was among three defendants convicted earlier this month in federal court for their roles in a $15 million mortgage fraud scheme involving condominiums in New Jersey and Florida, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman reported. Last month, another Belleville resident pleaded guilty in the same scam. According to […]
By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent KEARNY – The Walmart in Kearny is conveniently located on Harrison Ave., with easy access to Rt. 280, the N.J. Turnpike and feeder roads to Newark and Jersey City. This is a boon for shoppers. However, according to Kearny police, it is […]
By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – Four former Kearny workers, including a union chief, have lost the first round of a bid to reverse their New Year’s Eve dismissals nearly three years ago. In a 21-page ruling issued Sept. 3, the state Office of Administrative Law […]
Don your favorite pink attire and join St. Michael’s Medical Center for a Breast Cancer Awareness Month event — Breast Health & You — on Saturday, Oct. 25, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at SMMC’s Connie Dwyer Breast Center, 111 Central Ave., Newark. Dr. Nadine Pappas, director of […]
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
It’s the second year of Nick Edwards’ regime as the head football coach at Kearny High School and already there’s something new and improved about Edwards’ Kardinals.
They won their season opener.
That’s right, Kearny defeated Newark East Side and won handily, 34-6. The Kardinals own a 1-0 record for the first time since 2011 and only the second time since reinstituting the program in 2004.
The news gets better.
“For the first time in a long time, the freshmen, JV (junior varsity) and varsity all won,” said Edwards, who took over the program in June of 2013. “That’s definitely different from recent years.”
Edwards proudly professes that there are 30 sophomores involved with his program.
Needless to say, things are definitely moving up for the Kearny football program.
Edwards was asked about how things have changed in his second year at the helm.
“It’s definitely easier having a full offseason to work with the players,” Edwards said. “The offseason went well with our speed training and weight lifting. I definitely think having that year is paying off. I think the kids understand me more and understand what we’re trying to do here and what we preach.”
Edwards also believes that the kids know that he truly loves them.
“My door is always open for them and they have that understanding,” Edwards said. “We have a good relationship.” Winning helps, as with the season opening win, the Kards have already matched their win total of last year and the previous year. So things have definitely changed during football season in Kearny.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Edwards, whose team faces Livingston Friday night, then plays four straight home games. “It gives us a boost of confidence going forward.”
Edwards likes the makeup of his team.
“We have a good mix,” Edwards said. “The majority of the team is made up of juniors and sophomores who played a lot last year.”
The Kardinals are using the spread-pistol offense, meaning that the Kards like to throw the ball all over the field.
Leading the way is junior quarterback David Nash (6-1, 160), who enjoyed a solid opening game, throwing for a touchdown and running for another.
“He’s doing pretty well,” Edwards said. “He’s very smart and understands defenses. He knows the game of football.”
Junior Hector Paredes (5-8, 170) is the Kardinals’ main running back.
“He’s definitely one of those guys who just wants to win,” Edwards said. “He’s a hardnosed runner who goes all out in practices and games. Nothing ever changes with him.”
The Kardinals have a host of players to fill the four receiver and slot positions. Junior Sammy Sanchez (5-8, 165) had a great season opener, scoring three touchdowns, including an 84-yard interception return for a score.
Seniors Michael and Chris Benevides are a pair of twin brothers who each stand 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds and provide Nash with solid targets to throw to. Junior Tiago Teixiera (5-7, 160) and sophomore Allen Tejada (5-10, 170) are also excellent speedy route runners.
It certainly makes for exciting times for the Kearny offensive attack.
Senior guard Nick Springer (6-1, 230) and senior tackle Owen Martinez (5-10, 220) are returning starters, as is junior Damien Torres (5-6, 180) at center. That experience has to help Nash run the intricate passing offense.
Junior Michael Amaro (6-0, 190) is the other tackle and sophomore Gabriel Dos Santos (5-10, 220) is the other guard.
Defensively, the Kards utilize a 4-4 front, with senior J.C. Yamba (5-9, 175) and junior Christian Rodriguez (5-9, 185) at defensive end and sophomore Hebber Reyes (5-10, 260) joining Springer at defensive tackle.
The outside linebackers are junior Richard Diaz (5-8, 165) and sophomore Ozzie Cabides (5-9, 165), with a pair of sophomores, Brian Santos (5-8, 180) and Niko Yamba (5-8, 160), at inside linebacker.
The cornerbacks are Teixiera, Chris Benevides and Paredes, with Sanchez and Michael Benevides at safety.
Edwards is fortunate to be able to use as many players as possible, giving a host of youngsters a chance to play. The more kids play, the bigger the interest for others, knowing that they can get a chance to get on the field as well.
“We had a lot of kids who came back,” Edwards said. “So the kids know what to expect. We also have kids who understand the importance of schoolwork. We had 54 varsity kids and only one had to go to summer school. That’s a major accomplishment.”
Edwards likes the way the program is moving.
“The numbers are up,” Edwards said. “I never thought we would have 80 kids in the program, but we do. Coming from 30, which is what we had when I took over, I think it’s all good for the program. We’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing and teaching them the right things.”
So far, so good.
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
It’s not every day that a high school soccer team gets a player who could move from forward to midfield with ease, then score 30 goals and add 19 assists in the process.
But that’s what Danny Cordeiro did for the North Arlington boys’ soccer team last fall, en route to becoming the 2013-14 Observer Male Athlete of the Year. Cordeiro is already weaving his magic for the New Jersey Institute of Technology soccer squad.
So when the 2014 boys’ soccer campaign kicked off recently, the Vikings had to learn about life without Cordeiro.
“It’s not easy,” said NA head coach Jesse Dembowski. “We do have a solid senior group this year, but no one who could do what Danny did. As a group, the team is very dedicated and determined.”
That’s already been proven, as the Vikings have marched out to a 4-0 start thus far, including big wins over Saddle Brook and Becton Regional last week.
“We have a lot of younger kids coming up who have a lot of talent,” Dembowski said.
Senior Matt Smykowski is the Vikings’ main man in net. Smykowski became the team starter with roughly 10 games remaining last season. The Vikings ended the year at 9-7-1.
“Matt is a tall kid who was our JV (junior varsity) goalie for two years,” Dembowski said. “He’s very confident in goal and not afraid to come out of the goal to make plays.”
The sweeper is senior Nick Awad.
“He’s a tall, physical player,” Dembowski said. “We used to have him in the midfield, but he naturally gravitated toward the defense.”
The stopper is senior Moises Polanco, who started last year at the position.
The rest of the back line will be made of seniors Ed Lozado and Frank Pace and junior C.J. Burbach.
Senior Vinnie Ribeiro is the top returning starter in the midfield. Ribiero scored eight goals last year.
Fellow senior Jose Ruiz is another returning player in the midfield. Dembowski likes Ruiz’s experience and leadership.
Sophomore Cristiano Neves is another fine player in the midfield. Neves had a goal and an assist in the solid 4-0 win over Becton last week.
Junior Marvin Caballero is another Viking who will give Dembowski stability in the midfield.
“Marvin was a starter last year, but then he got hurt and missed the season,” Caballero said. “He will be big this year.”
Sophomore Hudson Ribiero is a solid forward. The younger brother of Vinnie had two goals and an assist in the win over Becton.
Senior Joe Cappelluti will be the other force to be reckoned with at forward.
“He was a goalie at the beginning of last season, then we moved him to forward and he scored a few goals,” Dembowski said.
Cappelluti scored six goals in his limited time in the forward line for the Vikings last fall.
So the makings are there for a special season for the Vikings, even after the departure of a special player.
“I like our team,” Dembowski said. “I still have big expectations. A lot of them came in and knew that they needed to step up. They have moved up together and they’re getting strong together.”
The four wins to start the season is proof that they can move on with success.
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
After finishing the 2013 season with an 18-2-1 record, the best in school’s history, Nutley High School girls’ soccer coach Mike DiPiano is looking for more of the same this year.
“We put a three-year plan into place and last year, we just sped up the process,” said DiPiano, who begins his third year as the head girls’ soccer coach at Nutley. “We beat four teams that played in a sectional final last year.”
The Maroon Raiders graduated 12 players and nine starters from last year’s team, including the 2013-14 Observer Co-Female Athlete of the Year Grace Montgomery.
“We worked on teaching the system to a new group of girls,” DiPiano said. “We have some seniors who have never played before. We have freshmen battling to play every day in practice. The competition has been good. We’re not taking the mentality that we’re rebuilding. We’re going after it again this year. Our goal is to play one more day than we did last year. That’s a reasonable goal with the team we have. We know what we have to do to get there.”
So far, the Maroon Raiders are living up to the challenge of being a state-ranked power.
The Maroon Raiders, ranked No. 20 in a New Jersey statewide poll, have won all four of their games so far, including a 7-0 whitewash of neighboring rival Belleville on Saturday.
“We want to be in the rankings and never come out,” DiPiano said. “It’s good for the entire athletic program at our school.”
The Maroon Raiders have one of the most potent scoring attacks in the state, thanks to returning standouts Victoria Kealy and Zoe Steck.
Kealy, a senior who has already given a verbal commitment to play at Rider University in the fall, scored 34 goals last year and is already on pace to top that number this season.
Kealy had three goals and added an assist in the win over Belleville.
Steck is a sophomore who scored 31 goals last year. She had two goals and two assists in the lopsided victory over Belleville.
“I don’t know of many teams to have that kind of luxury,” DiPiano said of his powerful scoring duo. “We just have to keep finding ways to get them the ball. It’s time for others to step up. It’s going to be a work in progress.”
The Maroon Raiders are utilizing two players in goal, namely senior Rachel Nichols and junior Sarah Roselli, who missed most of last season due to health issues.
The sweeper is freshman Lauren Holden, who has the potential to be a very good player.
“She’s going to have to learn on the fly,” DiPiano said. “She’s played already on some high level club teams, so she has experience. She is as tough as nails and doesn’t play like a freshman.”
The stopper is sophomore Darby Fischer, with senior Julie Fredericks, sophomore Angeli Bossbaly and freshman Jalae Small all seeing time along the back line.
Sophomore Jenny Callaghan is the team’s center midfielder. She’s a transfer who arrived at the school last year during the season, so Callaghan is basically a newcomer.
“She’s the real deal,” DiPiano said of Callaghan. “She has to be our playmaker in the middle of the field.”
Senior Kaitlyn Salisbury, junior Samantha Chimento and freshman Isabella Gonsiewski are also solid midfielders.
The Maroon Raiders will put their entire season on the shoulders of the two powerful scorers, namely Kealy and Steck, who are among the state’s very best.
As are the Maroon Raiders, who are proving that last year was no fluke.
Seniors Kiera Byrnes, Sarah Grueter and Samantha Moynihan will play roles on the team’s attack. Moynihan scored two goals in the win over Belleville.
Freshman Maise Jelley will be the Maroon Raiders’ resident jack-of-all-trades.
“She will play everywhere,” DiPiano said. “She’s done everything we’ve asked of her so far.”
DiPiano likes his team. He should. The Maroon Raiders are for real and will enjoy a great season into November. Whether that leads to a Super Essex Conference divisional title or an NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group III crown remains to be seen. But either or both are not out of the question, thanks to having two returning 30-goal scorers.
Ralph Barbara died peacefully at home on Aug. 6. He was 84. Born in Newark, he lived many years in Kearny before moving to Toms River in 2006. His cremation is private; however, there will be a memorial service on Saturday Sept. 20, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny.
Ralph was a retired construction union delegate in Clifton.
Ralph is survived by his wife Doris (nee Brand), his children Louise Dorst, Linda Hagerman, Ivan Barbara and Stacy Gilchrist, his sisters Carmella Halleck and Concetta DeJesso and seven grandchildren. He was predeceased by his granddaughter Brandi.
In lieu of flowers, donations to St. Jude Children Hospital would be appreciated.
Kathleen B. Briese
Miss Kathleen B. Briese, 80, died on Sept. 8 at her home in Kearny.
Arrangements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral Mass was offered at St. Stephen’s Church, followed by interment in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington. Condolences and memories may be shared at www.thiele-reid.com.
Kathleen was born in Kearny and was a lifelong resident.
She was employed by Prudential in Newark for many years before retiring in 1990. Kathleen was a proud member of St. Stephen’s Church in Kearny where she taught CCD and was a member of the St. Stephen’s Seniors. She adored Schuyler School in Kearny and served as a teacher’s aide there for many years. Living next door to the school, she would always be seen outside talking to parents in the morning who were dropping off their children for the school day and again in the afternoon when they returned to pick them up the children. She always offered words of encouragement and will be missed by the parents, children and staff.
She was the beloved aunt of William VanVliet (Margaret), Heather Felty (Dale); great aunt of William and Daniel VanVliet, Tammy Plumadoro and Michael Dellaciopia and great-great-aunt of Benjamin VanVliet, Cameron Heinz and Amanda and Kaitlyn Felty.
Cecilia V. Murphy
Cecilia V. Murphy, 87, passed away Sept. 12 at home. Born in Queens, N.Y. she grew up in the Bronx before moving to New Jersey and spent some time in Harrison. She has resided in Piscataway since 1989.
Cecilia retired in 1989 from Prudential Insurance Company in New Providence. Mom was a product of the Depression and as a result she was a hardworking woman with a strong work ethic. She was the best role model any child could wish for. She was a communicant of Our Lady of Mount Virgin Church and Our Lady of Fatima Church and was active in the Piscataway Senior Center, participating in their Bocce Ball team. Her most cherished role was being a grandmother.
Cecilia is survived by her children, William Murphy of New Fairfield Conn., Kevin Murphy and his wife Donna of Rockaway, Cecilia Mueller and her husband Harry of Piscataway and Colleen Conroy of West Orange; her sister Marion Scholz of Piscataway; her grandchildren, Ryan, Brian, Andrew, Meghan, Erin, Allison, Matthew, Harry and Kaitlyn and her great-grandson Samuel.
Funeral services will be held Tuesday, Sept. 16, at 8:30 a.m. at the Piscataway Funeral Home, 18 Stelton Road, Piscataway, followed by a 9:30 a.m. funeral liturgy at Our Lady of Mount Virgin Church, Middlesex. Entombment will be in Resurrection Burial Park, Piscataway.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Cecilia’s name to Embracing Hospice Care, 2101 Rt. 34 South, Suite B, Wall. NJ.
Charles Thompson, 48, of South Orange, formerly of East Newark, died on Tuesday, Sept. 9.
Funeral services were under the direction of the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison. A funeral service was held from the funeral home. His interment was in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.
For information or directions, please visit www.mulliganfuneralhome.org.
Born in Kearny, Charles was the founder and pastor of Freedom Ministries Worldwide, Newark, where he served for the last decade.
Charles is survived by his mother, Theresa (nee Cleary), his father Bill, a sister, Diane DeFilippo, and his brothers Dave and his wife Tara, and Bill. He is also survived by his nieces, nephews, aunts and cousins.
For those desiring, donations may be made to Anchor House, 1041 Bergen St., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11216 in memory of Pastor Charlie.
That rather ornate structure in the ‘Then’ photo is the Jackson St. Bridge, linking Harrison to the Ironbound section of Newark at the southern end of Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. The picture is dated 1898, a year after the span was built. According to Essex County records, it was designed by J. Owens Co. and constructed by McCann Fagan Iron Works. (We don’t know where either firm was located; however, there was a Fagan Iron Works in Jersey City.) Note the fancy lattice-work. Note the domed arches over the pedestrian walkways. Note the gas lamp.
Today’s bridge bears small resemblance to the original, but long before the 1991 rehab of the span, it had already been altered, losing the elegant accoutrements. But it is on the N.J. Register of Historic Places.
Re the name: Folks on the Newark side of the Passaic always called it the Jackson St. Bridge, since Jackson is the street it feeds into Down Neck. When we moved across the river, we were annoyed to find that West Hudsonites referred to it as the Fourth St. Bridge (Fourth St. being the former name of Rodgers Blvd.). Researching this text, we learned it is and always was officially the Jackson St. (Nyah, nyah.)
One more thing, although you likely won’t be able to see it without a microscope: Painted on a crossbeam above the roadway ‘Then’ is a warning: WALK YOUR HORSES OR PAY 10 DOLLARS FINE. According to an inflation calculator, that would be $285.71 in today’s money. Notice that all the horses are walking.
– Karen Zautyk
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
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:
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
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.”
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.
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.
By Ron Leir
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.
By Ron Leir
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.
By Karen Zautyk
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.
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.)