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Goodwill gesture

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  HARRISON –  In front of Goodwill Industries’ building on Supor Blvd., there is a brand new sign. “Palisades Regional Academy,” it reads. Has Goodwill moved? Only in the sense of moving forward in its stated mission “to empower individuals with disabilities and other barriers […]


Holy Cross relic is recovered

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  HARRISON –  The sacred relic of the Holy Cross stolen last month from the church that bears its name has been recovered and returned to its Harrison home, and police believe they have a line on the thief. “It is undamaged, […]


Drive-time perils on Davis St.

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  HARRISON/EAST NEWARK –  Every weekday morning when the East Newark Public School is in session, some Davis St. commuters enroute to work face an early nightmare just leaving their block. That’s because from 7:45 to 8:30 a.m., as children file into the […]


Animal, family event is Oct. 4 at Library Park, Harrison

There will be a pet and family event on Saturday, Oct.  4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in Library Park, 415 Harrison Ave.,  Harrison.  This is a free  event for the whole family and their pets and animal venders […]


Tight lid on trash

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  Tired of seeing a plethora of overflow trash cluttering the sidewalks in the town’s retail district, especially after weekend deposits, Kearny is unleashing a new weapon to counteract the unseemly collections. It’s the solar-powered Big- Belly trash receptacle. The town got four […]


Hamilton St. back to normal now



At first, residents of Harrison Gardens probably thought they were seeing a mirage: As of Aug. 8, their stretch of Hamilton St., between Schuyler and Franklin Aves., was open.

No longer clogged with barricades, dirt, above-ground pipes, construction crews, the block was clear and they could actually park their cars on both sides of the street. It meant that, at long last, the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC) had completed the relining of more than 1,500 feet of the 42-inch concrete Kearny- Harrison-Newark branch interceptor sewer line dating from 1924 and repairs to five manholes.

When the contractor was hired to do the work, the PVSC agreed to pay about $900,000 and figured the job would be done within six months.

It ended up costing $3.9 million with the time stretching over two years, based on figures provided by the commission’s chief engineer, according to PVSC spokeswoman Hollie Gilroy.

Gilroy said the original scope of work included the relining of 1,200 feet of sewer and the rehabilitation of four manholes; the revised scope included the replacement and relining of an additional 380 feet of sewer and an additional manhole,” Gilroy said.

Asked what complicated the job, Gilroy said that, “Significant ground water issues were encountered as part of the excavation required for the sewer and manhole replacement work. Ground water issues were the main cause of the schedule delays and cost overruns.”

Despite all the travails that accompanied the job – including having to provide a substitute water service for the Gardens for four days – Harrison Public Works Superintendent Robert Van Riper said it could’ve been a lot worse, given the magnitude of the job and a horrid winter. Plus, during the job, PSE&G had to relocate its power lines to the other side of Hamilton St. so the contractor would have room to work, Van Riper said.

“I want to give a shout to the PVSC for staying with it,” Van Riper said. “They did everything they said they’d do. It went as smoothly as it could possibly have gone. Everything was like synergy.”

Van Riper said the PVSC interceptor line had collapsed and the contractor had to dig down some 30 feet to lay in a new section of pipe with a liner.

“Every time it rained, they’d have to put in a sewer bypass line and we’re talking about a big trunk line on the south side of Hamilton that runs from Kearny to the Passaic Valley plant in Newark,” he said.

And Harrison Gardens received a new six-inch water service line, valve-to-valve, on the north side of Hamilton, replacing a line that had persistent leaks, he said. “Now, the leaks have been resolved.”

 – Ron Leir 

Rivera: ‘I’m political victim’

Belleville BOE President John Rivera is fighting to keep his job as a $48,000 a year township public works laborer.

Suspended without pay in February on charges of “creating a hostile work environment,” Rivera said that the township has yet to schedule a hearing. The municipal governing body only recently authorized hiring a special counsel to deal with the matter. Township Attorney Tom Murphy said last week, “We’re waiting to get some dates from the hearing officer.”

“I’m totally innocent,” Rivera told The Observer. “It’s political – I backed the wrong horse [in the May municipal contest].” Now he’s collecting unemployment. He was hired in April 2013 as a property maintenance inspector but later transferred to various other slots. The township doesn’t discuss pending legal matters.

Another school figure who may be in transition is Superintendent Helene Feldman who, Rivera told a member of the audience at the Aug. 11 BOE meeting, is currently on leave. Feldman has two years to run on her contract.

Because she may be away for an extended time, due to a serious health issue involving her husband, Tom Egan, the state monitor assigned to Belleville BOE, appointed Ray Jacobus, the BOE secretary/ school business administrator, as acting superintendent at the Aug. 11 BOE meeting. Egan said that Jacobus holds a New Jersey school superintendent’s certificate.

Egan said that a possible additional stipend for Jacobus for taking on the extra duties would likely be discussed at a special meeting called for Aug. 25. Egan also expects, at that time, to “finalize changes for the 2014-2015 school budget” and to nail down the calculations for the amount of additional state aid the district will be seeking “so that the 2014-15 school year won’t be in deficit.” Auditors have reckoned that the district ended 2013-2014 more than $4 million in the red.

At the Aug. 11 BOE session, Egan exercised his veto power as monitor to overturn several votes by a narrow board majority: He overruled a 3-2 vote to deny $90,000 in compensation to two resource (safety) officers, one at the high school and one at the middle school, and he overturned a 3-2 vote to table a proposed termination of a contract with Clarity Technologies Group LLC for outsourcing the district’s Internet Technologies Department. Egan said he felt the $20,000-a-month contract was “too expensive.” He also vetoed a vote to table the reappointment of eight non-tenured staff for the upcoming year, allowing six to go through for now, with the other two to be considered at the special meeting, along with a tabled appointment of Michael Vargas as district special education supervisor.

– Ron Leir 

30-day suspension for union head

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


An arbitrator has dismissed 12 of 13 tenure charges filed March 21 by the Belleville Board of Education against a middle school math teacher who doubles as the head of the teachers’ union so Michael Mignone’s job is safe – at least for now.

In his July 28 decision, arbitrator Joel Weisblatt nixed the BOE’s effort to fire Mignone on the basis of “conduct unbecoming” and “manifesting unfitness to serve as a teaching professional and role model to youth.”

The BOE focused its charges on three episodes:

*A classroom conversation on Oct. 16, 2013, that touched on students’ wearing electronic security tags deployed by the district.

*A Dec. 20, 2013, conference call involving Mignone, the parent of one of his students, a guidance counselor and a BEA representative.

*A confrontation between Mignone and Superintendent Helene Feldman on Feb. 4, 2014, in the BOE office.

In the first incident, the BOE said Mignone deviated from the curriculum by entertaining a discussion of the district security system, raised the spectre of kids contracting cancer from wearing the tags, warned students their privacy would be invaded because the devices allowed them to be “tracked” outside school, and invited them to get their parents to complain publicly that the BOE was wasting its money on a questionable security system.

Weisblatt said that while Mignone probably “showed poor judgment” in spending 20 minutes of class time on something unrelated to math, the evidence from the testimony of students didn’t support the BOE’s allegations and that it was a student who raised the subject, not Mignone. He noted that after Mignone received a letter of reprimand from a supervisor for an “inappropriate use” of classroom time, that there were no further such incidents.

In the second incident, the BOE said the parent on the call – who had previously griped at a BOE meeting that a teacher hadn’t returned her phone call about her child not being allowed to make up a class assignment – “felt threatened” by Mignone’s alleged efforts to “disrupt her child’s special needs education” by having him removed from his class, by suggesting she write to the superintendent that their conflict stemmed from a communication snafu and that Mignone violated her child’s privacy by allowing a union representative to listen in on the call and take notes.

In this case, Weisblatt noted that the issue initially raised by the parent was resolved in a follow-up call from Mignone, that testimony by the counselor indicated that in the subsequent conference call, “no threat was implied,” that Mignone asked the parent if she wanted to have her son switch classes as a matter of good faith, and that the letter to the superintendent could help to resolve a misunderstanding so the charges seemed unsupported by the evidence. However, Weisblatt said he felt the BOE made its case that Mignone “improperly involved” a union representative in the conference call “without any disclosure to the parent,” adding that, “It is at the very least an ethical breach … and further, it compromised the privacy of the student and the parent.” That behavior, Weisblatt concluded, warranted a 30-day suspension without pay for Mignone.

In the third incident, the BOE said Mignone defied a “directive” from the superintendent – about a week after the teacher had been suspended with pay – forbidding him from appearing on BOE property, except for unionrelated activities, which had to be conducted in the superintendent’s office, by entering the high school to use an office designated for union work on Feb. 4, 2014, and by causing a “disruption” to school business by arguing with a staff member. (The suspension was later withdrawn and refiled a bit later.)

Weisblatt said that he found “no written evidence of a directive” from the superintendent, adding that Mignone “accessed a ‘board employees only’ stairwell in the high school,” thereby minimizing possible contact with students. He said testimony by school staff disproved any “disruption” of administrative work. Weisblatt ruled that Mignone should be “reinstated and made whole for any loss of compensation” beyond the 30-day loss of pay meted out for the privacy compromise incident.

Kearny band ‘A Midnight Tragedy’ has its eyes set on big goals


By Kevin Canessa Jr.

 Observer Correspondent 


You’d almost think that a kid who grew up in Brooklyn would have a lot more opportunities with music and the arts scene there than in West Hudson. And yet, the truth is, Dallas Sanchez, who moved to Kearny in 1994, says the chances he got here musically and artistically far outweigh what was available to him 20 years ago as a boy in the city’s most populous borough.

“Not even close,” he said. “When my family moved here from Brooklyn, the music and art opportunities here in Kearny were tremendous — and they helped shape me into who I am today.”

And today, Sanchez is the lead vocalist and guitar player in a band he formed back in 2005 called A Midnight Tragedy. The 31-year-old, who still calls Kearny home is a self-taught guitarist.

“Never took a lesson — and I don’t read music,” Sanchez said. “I don’t know what any of those notes mean. I just have the ability to take what is going on inside my head and to play it on the guitar.”

A Midnight Tragedy isn’t the first band he was in, but it’s certainly the one he’s been involved with the longest. When he formed it nearly a decade ago, he did so with one of his dearest friends — now his brother-in-law — Dan Mennella, also of Kearny.


Photos courtesy of A Midnight Tragedy


Mennella is the band’s drummer. 

Over the years, there have been a few changes in members, but now, the pair are joined by John Leonti, the bassist, and Esteban Pastor, who also plays guitar.

Sanchez says one of the greatest aspects of A Midnight Tragedy is that there really isn’t another band out there — in the mainstream or otherwise — that he could say is reminiscent of his. Their style, instead, is one-of-a-kind — and it shows.

“And yet, our new album has 17 tracks, and the concept is that it’s a musical,” Sanchez said. “We’ve done it all ourselves, too. In the tracks, you’ll hear theme like you would in Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall,’ or pieces you might hear in ‘Rent,’ or ‘Phantom of the Opera.’ And there’s a lot about having faith … not necessarily religiously, but having faith in anything. But it all has our own unique sound, and I am very proud of that.

” That album will be released in less than a week — on Aug. 26. It’ll be their third.

And with all of this success, Sanchez says there’s one thing, above a lot else, that he’s most proud of.

“And that is that we’re from Kearny,” he said. “When you see us performing, mostly you’ll see red and black, the colors of Kearny High School. The Kearny pride is amazing. And what I hope happens is that when younger kids see us — whether it’s driving along Kearny Ave. in our tour bus, or at a show … wherever … that they see us and say, ‘Well, if they can do it, we can do it, too.’ There is a lot of musical talent in this town.

“We even filmed a video for one of the new songs in Kearny just the other day.”

Now while Sanchez says he hopes one day the band and touring can be a full-time career, he and his band mates have other careers, too. But Sanchez says he’s quite fortunate because his other job is also music-related.

He works for a company that provides buses for musicians on tour. And, he says it’s been a blessing to have such a job.

“It’s incredible,” he said. “Having this job has opened up so many other opportunities — and I’ve been able to meet so many great people in the business. None of that hurts, at all.”



Meanwhile, Sanchez does all of this with a family of his own. He and his wife, Jessica, have two children: a 10-yearold son and a 2-year-old daughter. And he gets a lot of support from them.

“My wife has been to a lot of our shows, and last year our daughter was at a show, also,” he said. “My wife has been very supportive over the years. It’s not always easy, like in any marriage, but she’s been just great.”

A Midnight Tragedy will perform two shows later this week. They’ll be at Mexicali Live, Teaneck, on Aug. 23 at 8 p.m. and at the Trash Bar, Brooklyn, on Aug. 24 at 11 p.m. The new album will be available for sale at the two gigs for an introductory price of $7. Once it’s officially released on Aug. 26, it’ll cost $7.99 and can be downloaded from iTunes.

To find out more about A Midnight Tragedy, to listen to their music, to buy the new album, for tour dates and more, visit www.amidnighttragedy.com.

Feds tie area druggist to illegal OC scheme


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


A Belleville pharmacist and 15 others have been charged as alleged conspirators in a scheme to fraudulently obtain and distribute oxycodone, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said. Oxycodone, a semi-synthetic narcotic analgesic, is a widely prescribed painkiller marketed under the brand name OxyContin and is regulated by the federal Controlled Substances Act. It’s known in street parlance as “hillbilly heroin,” “kicker,” “OC,” “Perc” and “Roxy.”

A press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s office on Wednesday, Aug. 13, identified Vincent Cozzarelli, 77, of Belleville, the owner of Rossmore Pharmacy, 338 Washington Ave., Belleville, as the accused druggist.

As of last week, the pharmacy was open but a sign posted in the front window advised patrons that by order of state Consumer Affairs Director Steve Lee, the sale of controlled substances is not permitted.

All the defendants are charged with one count of “conspiring to possess and distribute oxycodone, a Schedule 2 controlled substance.”

All but two of those charged were arrested by agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Tactical Diversion Squad last Wednesday last Tuesday while the others remain at large. Those in custody appeared Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Mark Falk in Newark Federal Court.

The federal complaint alleges that between February 2014 and Aug. 13, 2014, the conspirators “secured prescriptions for oxycodone and other controlled substances from various doctors in New Jersey, filled them at pharmacies in Belleville and elsewhere, and sold the drugs for a profit.”

The feds identified defendant Victoria Horvath, 42, of Elizabeth, as a “senior member” of what they characterized as a “drug trafficking organization (DTO)” who “obtained and filled prescriptions for controlled substances and then distributed them.”

They said that Cozzarelli “supplied … Horvath (also known as “Gypsy”) and the [alleged DTO] with oxycodone and other controlled substances even though he knew the prescriptions were fraudulently obtained and that the [organization] would illegally distribute the controlled substances.”

Among the defendants, from The Observer’s coverage area, are Luis Rivera (“Tupac”), 23, and Robert O’Brien, 57, both of Bloomfield.

The other suspects were listed as: Daniel Horvath, 25, Monica Horvath (“Becky”), 20, and Johnny Horvath, 45, all of Rutherford; Rhonda Musallam, 38, of Jersey City; Brian Perez (“B”), 21, Matthew Policarpio (“Papi”), 26, and Justin Farraj (“Blaze”), 23, all of Newark; Alexis Horvath (“Tima”), 26, Rickie Horvath (“Yoggi”), 53, Steven Horvath (“Chi-Chi”), 43, and Tony Marco, 45, all of Elizabeth; and Sabrina Vajda, 31, of Brooklyn, N.Y.

According to the feds, Musallam and Perez remained at large, as of last week.

Federal agents declined to say how much profit the organization made from sales of the drugs.

The release said that the federal investigation made use of “confidential sources, physical surveillance and judicially-authorized electronic surveillance” to document the criminal charges.

According to the federal complaint, Victoria, Alexis and Rickie Horvath distributed oxycodone and other drugs “in the Belleville area.” It added that, “These three individuals worked together and with others to obtain controlled substances and prescriptions [from doctors not named in the complaint] for controlled substances for distribution.”

The complaint said that Steven, Daniel and Monica Horvath, Marco and Vajda obtained and filled prescriptions for drugs from various doctors and distributed the drugs, that Johnny Horvath assisted with distribution activities, that Musallam was a supplier of drugs, and that Farraj, O’Brien, Perez, Policarpio and Rivera were local distributors and customers.

According to the complaint, “on or about June 2, 2014,” after a phone conversation between Victoria Horvath and Cozzarelli, Victoria and Steven Horvath met with a DTO customer (not named) and traveled to Cozzarelli’s house where Victoria Horvath “… met with Cozzarelli and obtained 120 30mg oxycodone pills and 120 Percocet (10mg oxycodone) pills from him. The customer of the DTO was later arrested by local law enforcement and found to be in possession of 120 Percocet pills and 23 30mg oxycodone pills.”

Also, the complaint says, “On or about June 15, 2014, in a series of calls, V. Horvath arranged to obtain 120 30mg oxycodone pills, 120 Percocet (10mg oxycodone) pills and 120 units of another controlled substance from Cozzarelli….”

A conviction on the conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Logged on the Nutley police blotter

Aug. 9 

A San Antonio Ave. resident reported that someone was placing harassing notes – some very offensive – on her vehicle overnight. Police are investigating.

Police responded to a Taft St. location on a report of someone with a gun. Upon arrival, officers saw a man drop what turned out to be an air soft pellet gun, whose orange tip identifying the object as a toy was removed. Charges are pending.

A Union Ave. resident reported that someone had shot a projectile – possibly a pellet – through their 2014 Mercedes Benz, causing the window to shatter. Police are investigating.

At 1 p.m., a woman jogging near Cathedral Ave. was attacked by a pit bull, causing what police described as a minor injury. Police issued a summons to the dog’s owner.

Aug. 10

Someone stole a 2009 silver Nissan during the night or early morning hours while it was parked at a Park Ave. location, the owner informed police.

A motorist who parked in the wrong lane on Washington Ave. was discovered to be intoxicated, police said. The driver, Jimmy Gonzalez, 23, of Newark, was arrested and subsequently turned over to the custody of a relative, pending a court appearance.

Aug. 11 

A Chestnut St. resident nearly fell victim to a scam after posting an offer to sell golf clubs on Craig’s List, police said.

The would-be buyer sent the resident too much money for the clubs and then asked the resident to wire back the difference. But, after going to the bank to get the money, the resident learned this request was a common scam and refrained from sending the money, police said. Responding to the Riva Blue restaurant/lounge in Lyndhurst to assist with crowd control in the aftermath of a stabbing, Nutley PD arrested Barry Garrard, 24, of Monmouth Junction, on a disorderly person charge after police say he refused to comply with officers’ instructions.

A 15-year-old boy who left his BMX bicycle unattended at a Margaret Ave. location for a short time returned to find the bike gone, police said. The bike, which has purple pedals, was valued at $400.

Aug. 12

A Myrtle Ave. resident reported that several unauthorized charges at local establishments had been made on her credit card. Police said the resident offered some information that could lead to a suspect.

A vehicle with New Hampshire plates and an expired registration that was parked on Hay Ave. was impounded by police.

A 29-year-old woman injured both feet and a hand in a fall from an extension ladder at her Hillside Ave. residence, police said. Nutley emergency rescue personnel and police responded. The woman was taken to an area hospital for treatment.

Aug. 13 

Police responded to a River Road apartment complex to intervene in a verbal dispute between a tenant angry about a water leak and a property manager. Police said the tenant threatened to cause harm to the manager. Apologies were made after officers spoke to the parties.

Aug. 14 

A Columbia Ave. resident reported that someone had entered their unlocked 1994 Jeep and removed a BMX bicycle and other items.

A series of auto burglaries were reported on several blocks within close proximity to each other, police said.

Three vehicles were burglarized on Satterthwaite Ave.: A wedding ring valued at more than $1,000 and other items were taken from a 2009 Volvo and a navigation system was removed from a Ford Explorer and the owner’s second vehicle was also entered, police said.

On Walnut St., multiple break-ins were also reported, one to a 2012 GMC and three vehicles parked in the driveway of another resident were also entered, police said.

And, police said, a North Road resident reported that their 2007 Mercury and 2004 vehicle were broken into and an iPad and iPod were taken, along with other items.

Aug. 15 

A male suspect described as 17 or 18, wearing tan shorts and a white T-shirt, reportedly entered a vehicle owned by the wife of a business owner on E. Centre St., at 10:30 a.m., and ran off with the woman’s purse, it was reported. Police said the wife chased the suspect who dropped the purse and continued running. Police are investigating.

The owners of four businesses on the south end of Franklin Ave. reported that someone had shattered their windows during the night, causing more than $500 in damage at each store, police said. A pellet or BB gun may have been used, police said. An investigation is continuing.

A woman told police that a window in her father’s 2000 Lexus was smashed, between 8 p.m. Aug. 14 and 7:30 a.m. Aug. 15, while the car was parked in her driveway on W. Centre St.

– Ron Leir 

Around Town


Belleville Public Library and Information Center, 221 Washington Ave., will hold registration, beginning Aug. 20, for its Music Together class for babies and toddlers. The class will run Sept. 25 to Dec. 4, with two Thursday sessions to choose from, at 9:45 a.m. or 10:45 a.m. Space is limited. To register, call 973-450-3434.

Belleville Elks, 254 Washington Ave., host a Type O blood drive Wednesday, Aug. 27, 5 to 9 p.m. No appointment is needed. Priority is for Type O blood but all types of blood will be accepted. The entire process takes less than one hour. Donors must be at least age 17, weigh at least 120 pounds and be in general good health. The drive is open to Belleville residents and all surrounding communities.


Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center, 240 Belleville Ave., offers a dinner and theater trip package to see the new Broadway hit “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical” on Wednesday, Sept. 24. A buffet dinner will be served at Oakeside at 4 p.m. before boarding the bus to New York City. The $165 cost includes dinner, round-trip transportation, orchestra seats, plus all taxes and tips. Reservations are required and must be paid within five days of booking to ensure a place. There are no refunds on paid reservations. Oakeside will accept credit cards for this event. To R.S.V.P., call the Oakeside office at 973-429-0960.

Bloomfield Public Library, 90 Broad St., presents an installment of a documentary series on “The Music Instinct: Science and Song” before screening featured films for its Monday and Thursday Afternoon at the Movies programs. The “Music Instinct” documentaries, which explore the deep connection between music and the brain, are screened at 11:45 a.m. and featured films at 12:15 p.m. Upcoming features are: “Identity Thief” (Melissa McCarthy) (NR) on Aug. 21 and “Philomena” (Judi Dench) (PG-13) on Aug. 25.


Harrison co-ed soccer registration for grades 1 to 8 is currently being conducted at the Community Center, 401 Warren St., through Aug. 22. Registration fee is $30. For more information, call the Center at 973-268-2469.


The Irish American Association, 95 Kearny Ave., hosts an all-star comedy lineup to benefit the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation on Friday, Aug. 22, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 and are available for presale at http://circleoflaughs.bpt. me/.

Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 136 Davis Ave., begins its annual nine-week St. Jude Novena with Msgr. John J. Gilchrist on Monday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m. All are welcome.

The Woman’s Club of Arlington hosts an Autumn Harvest Social on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 1 to 3 p.m., at the Girl Scout House, 635 Kearny Ave. Admission is free. Members and non-members alike may bring friends interested in joining the club as well as children, grandchildren, sisters, mothers, etc. for a fun, social afternoon.

Hot coffee, tea, cider, pie a la mode, and many homemade goodies will be served. The club’s mission is to support local charities, the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs State Charity and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

To attend, contact Jennifer Cullen at 201-991-6612 or Teddie Jablonski at 973-248-6500.

Kearny UNICO sponsors a bus trip to Caesars in Atlantic City on Sunday, Sept. 14. The bus will depart from the parking lot of Kearny Federal Savings, 614 Kearny Ave., at 8:30 a.m. Cost is $30 per person with $25 in slot credit back from the casino. For tickets or additional information, contact Lou Pandolfi at 201-368-2409 or 201-693-8504.


The Lyndhurst Health Department is collecting donations for students in need. Backpacks, marble composition books, notebooks, dividers, loose paper, crayons and 3-ring binders are welcomed. Drop off donations at the Health Department, 601 Riverside Ave., Suite 1, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., through Aug. 31. People with children in need of school supplies are asked to contact the Health Department at 201-804-2500 to schedule a pick-up of the needed supplies. Be prepared to give child’s gender and grade level.

The Lyndhurst Health Department holds a breakfast forum, hosted by Clara Maass Medical Center, Friday, Sept. 12, at 10 a.m. Registered Dietitian Elizabeth Nossier will discuss how a healthy diet can enhance quality of life and longevity. Breakfast will be provided. To register, call the department at 201-804-2500.

Registration is also open for the department’s bi-annual chiropractic screening, also set for Sept. 12 at 8:45 a.m. Lyndhurst chiropractor Marco Ferrucci will conduct the screening, which includes a digital postural analysis. Call the department to register.

The Lyndhurst Public Library is conducting registration for Fall Storytime at the library, 355 Valley Brook Ave., through Sept. 12. Open to ages 3 to 4 1/2, this 45-minute program features stories, music and crafts. The program begins on Thursday, Sept. 25, with two sessions available at 10:30 a.m. or 1 p.m. Space is limited. To register, call 201-804-2478.

The library hosts “Introduction to Maum Meditation,” presented by Lyndhurst Meditation Space, on Wednesday, Aug. 27, at 6:30 p.m. Space is limited and registration is required. To R.S.V.P., email romeo@lyndhurst.bccls.org or call the library.

The Township of Lyndhurst hosts a Labor Day Weekend Antique and Craft Fair on Sunday, Aug. 31, at Town Hall Park. There’ll be live music throughout the day, a wide selection of specialty foods and a children’s play area. For more information, call 201-321-2756 or email robin.brystra@gmail.com.

Fair visitors are invited to give blood at the Blood Center of New Jersey’s bloodmobile from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Donors must be at least age 17, bring a sign or picture form of ID and know their Social Security number. There is no upper age limit for donors provided they meet health requirements. For those who have recently traveled outside the U.S. and for other eligibility questions, call the blood center at 973- 676-4700, ext. 132, or 1-800-652- 5663.

The Lyndhurst Veterans of Foreign Wars Post hosts a karaoke party at the post hall, 547 Valley Brook Ave., on Friday, Aug. 22, at 8 p.m. The VFW hall is available for rentals for all occasions. For more information, call the post at 201-939- 5080.

North Arlington 

The North Arlington Woman’s Club sponsors a flapjack breakfast on Saturday, Aug. 23, 8 to 10 a.m., at Applebee’s Restaurant, Kearny. Admission is $10. For tickets, call 201-889- 2553.

Openings are available for the Queen of Peace Ladies Bowling League. The season starts Wednesday, Sept. 2, at 12:45 p.m., at North Arlington Bowl, 200 Schuyler Ave. To join, call Betsy at 201-997-3914.

North Arlington Senior Activity Center, 11 York Road (at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church), hosts a fall bingo luncheon on Friday, Sept. 5, starting at 10:30 a.m., with lunch at noon, followed by bingo, games and special prizes from 1 to 3 p.m. For more information and reservation call 201-998-5636.


The fall season of book discussions at the Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Dr., begins Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. The group meets the first Monday of each month. This meeting will be a reader’s potluck, an informal discussion on books read during the summer. This event is free and open to all members of the community. Refreshments will be served. For more information, visit http://nutley.bccls.org or call 973-667-0405, ext. 2604.

Applications for the 2014 Nutley Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers are now available at the township’s Department of Public Affairs, 149 Chestnut St. Residents age 60 and older can register Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Vouchers will also be distributed on Sundays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Nutley Farmers Market, located in Municipal Lot 1, Franklin Ave. and Williams St.

Applicants need valid identification and proof of income. (Single applicants can earn no more than $21,590 a year, or a maximum of $1,800 a month, to qualify.)

Approved residents receive four $5 coupons, which can be redeemed for fresh fruit and vegetables only, at any farmers market in New Jersey, from July through November 2014.

For more information, call the Public Affairs Department at 973-284-4976.

Kardinals have chance to be good soccer squad


By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer 

The Kearny High School boys’ soccer team enjoyed a highly successful season in 2013, winning 15 games and advancing to the Hudson County Tournament semifinals and the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV quarterfinals, defeating Roxbury and Clifton before losing to Bergen Tech.

But that wasn’t good enough for a typical Kearny boys’ soccer season.

“Especially since we came up empty and didn’t win anything,” said veteran head coach Bill Galka. “We have a bunch of kids back who remember what that felt like. They don’t want to have another year like that.”

Galka said that he is counting on a veteran team to lead the way in 2014.

“You’re always looking for the returning players to be leaders,” Galka said. “They want to avenge what happened last year and go after championships and challenge for them.”

The Kardinals began practice in earnest last week to prepare for the season opener Sept. 5.

“Every year, we have returning players and that’s good,” Galka said. “But you have to remind yourself that you haven’t played a game in nine months. So we’re still forming training habits and getting chemistry. That’s what you do in the preseason. You can teach good ideas of the game, but we have to find the right positions for the players again and who is going to be taking those spots.”

Galka has had to endure yet another obstacle before the Kardinals have even begun training. Three of his projected players have decided to sign on to local soccer academies, forgoing their year with the Kardinals. One of those players made the decision only minutes before the team’s first workout. That’s not easy to overcome.

“We face that every year,” Galka said. “They were some good players.”

One of the key players returning is one of the top soccer players in the state in senior goalkeeper Sebastian Ferreira.

Ferreira was injured at the end of last season and it was evident how much it hurt the Kards not having him in goal.

“We’re lucky enough to have a top keeper,” Galka said.


Photo by Jim Hague Senior Alexi Velaszquez is Kearny’s top returning scorer. Velazquez scored 10 goals last season before getting injured.

Photo by Jim Hague
Senior Alexi Velaszquez is Kearny’s top returning scorer. Velazquez scored 10
goals last season before getting injured.

“And he’s this team’s leader. He’s the guy. He’s the one leading everyone in fitness drills. He’s the first one on the field. He’s a natural leader. I don’t think we’ve had a great leader like this since (former Observer Male Athlete of the Year) Hughie MacDonald (in 2002). That’s how important Seba is.”

The Kardinals do have some veterans returning along the back line to help Ferreira protect the net.

Senior Andrew Quintos returns to his position at center back and is joined along the back line by senior Michael Almeida and junior Cort Montanino. Sophomore Adrian Velazquez, who saw considerable action last year as a freshman, also returns.

Junior Damien Kolodiej is another solid defender who will see considerable action, along with seniors Daniel Villalta and Christopher Smith.

“We have some good returning kids back there,” Galka said. “Our defense should be the strength of the team.”

Junior Marcelo Matta is one of the top returning players in the midfield. Matta had a handful of goals last year and should see that number increase due to the graduation of other top scorers.

“He’s a good distributor,” Galka said. “I’m looking for him to be more of a leader, both on and off the field.”

Senior Danny Vicente returns to the Kardinal lineup. Vicente was a solid player as a freshman and sophomore, then went off to play with a soccer academy last year, only to return now for his senior campaign.

Junior Christian Sieira is another midfielder to watch, along with Calvin Carbajol, as well as the aforementioned Smith.

Senior Alexi Velazquez is a force to be reckoned with at forward. Velazquez scored 10 goals last year before becoming injured toward the end of last season.

“We’re looking for him to have a great senior year,” Galka said.

Senior Arturo Sanchez is another Kardinal forward with a strong leg and a knack for the net.

So it shapes up to be a solid season for the Kardinals in the weeks prior to the season opener.

“We definitely think we have promise,” Galka said. “At least, from what I see so far. We’re good to go and we’re looking forward to our scrimmages and then the start of the season.”

There’s another reason to be excited. It looks as if the Kardinals will get the chance to face neighboring rival Harrison at Red Bull Arena the last weekend in September. The finishing touches are being made to a soccer doubleheader (boys and girls) at the local soccer palace, featuring the neighboring rivals.

The two schools met in a doubleheader in 2012 and it was a day to remember.

“It’s just about definite,” Galka said. “We’re excited about that.”

As well as excited about starting a new season. It should be a great one for the Kardinals, one that definitely has championship aspirations – like it always should have.

So much for summer, it’s time for fall sports

Giana DiTonto_web

By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

Well, you think there’s still time to get out the suntan lotion, hit the beach and ride the waves, right?

Sorry to say, but if you’re a high school athlete, those days are done. Summer is officially over. It’s time to lace up the cleats, put on the helmets and pads, kick the balls and get running. The fall sports season is upon us.

Practices for the fall sports teams officially began last week. Everywhere you go in the area, you’ll find kids carrying their football equipment to their respective fields of play or others kicking soccer balls at goals.

It’s time to get ready for the fall scholastic sports season, which will begin the weekend of Sept. 5. That’s just two weeks from now. It’s astounding how the summer has flown by.

Soon, the work will be completed at Rip Collins Field in North Arlington and the athletes at North Arlington High will have a brand new place to play, complete with new locker rooms and a state-of-the-art FieldTurf playing surface. In the spring, there will be track meets there. No longer will North Arlington mothers have to worry about getting goose poop stains out of the respective uniforms.

The Vikings’ soccer team will certainly miss Observer Male Athlete of the Year Danny Cordeiro, but coach Jesse Dembowski will always find a way to win. The NA girls’ program has a new coach in Dan Farinola, who was successful as the boys’ coach at Secaucus. Farinola will do a good job as the Viking girls’ head coach.

The Vikings’ football coach is veteran Anthony Marck and we know he’s excited about the new field, maybe more than his team’s prospects.

There are new soccer coaches at Queen of Peace, both on the boys’ and girls’ sides. There’s also a new athletic director in former All-State tight end Joe Torchia, who almost made the Washington Redskins’ roster a few years ago. We would like to know who the new soccer coaches are, but Torchia has not returned several phone calls. Maybe Torchia doesn’t regularly check his school voicemail, but we’re still waiting to hear from the coaches. So if either of you ––namely the boys’ or girls’ soccer coach at QP – read this column, please take the time to write me via e-mail (at the address listed above) and tell me what’s the best time to reach you by phone.

The football team at QP is in capable hands with veteran Bob Kearns, but the Golden Griffins are certainly going to miss the 2,000 yards and 30- plus touchdowns that standout Kevin Momnohin brought to the table last fall. That’s not easy to replace.

The Harrison boys’ soccer team is returning several players from last year’s team that won the championship in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group II bracket.

It should be interesting to see how the Blue Tide and veteran coach Mike Rusek will move on after losing such talented players like All-State defender and do-everything Modou Sowe, clearly one of the best soccer players to ever grace Harrison High _ and there certainly have been plenty of dandies over the years.

The boys’ soccer program at Harrison never rebuilds. It’s always a case of reloading. That should be the case again this season.

The Harrison girls’ program is now headed by former boys’ standout goalie Raphael Viana. There was never a nicer kid to ever come through the halls of Harrison High than Raphael when he was a player. Let’s see how that personality transcends into being a high school coach at his alma mater, working with the girls.

The Blue Tide football program will begin the second season under coach Matt Gallo, who made strides a year ago making the Blue Tide much more respected and competitive. That’s all a coach could ask for in his first year at the helm. Now that he’s in his second year, it’s safe to say that Gallo wants to raise the bar just a little bit.

Lyndhurst has a new football coach in Rich Tuero, who is another guy taking over a program at his alma mater. Tuero was a standout lineman during his playing days, so he’s going to demand solid play up front from the Golden Bears.

The boys’ soccer program is in the capable hands of Rob Kost, who has worked diligently in trying to make the Golden Bears more competitive each year.

The Lyndhurst girls’ soccer team is perennially one of the best around and this year should be no exception for head coach Kim Hykey. The Golden Bears might have lost a lot of firepower with the graduations of Amanda Nowak and Grace Tomko, but center midfielder Giana DiTonto, who had 20-plus assists last fall, should be able to carry the slack and emerge as one of the players to watch in the NJIC.

Speaking of girls’ soccer, there should be no local team better than the Maroon Raiders of Nutley.

Coach Mike DiPiano has worked wonders, turning a destitute program that could barely win a single game into a state-ranked power. The Maroon Raiders went 18-2- 1 and won their division of the Super Essex Conference last year and should do more damage again this year, thanks to the efforts of 30-goal scorers like Victoria Kealy and Zoe Steck.

Kealy had an astounding 31 goals and 14 assists last season. Most soccer players don’t reach that number in a career.

The Maroon Raiders’ boys program is under the careful guidance of veteran head coach Marcelino Marra, who is one of the best tactical coaches around.

The Nutley football program begins its second season under coach Tom Basile, who has paid his dues in the coaching ranks for almost three decades and will look to lead the Maroon Raiders back to state playoff contender.

Jim Damiano has taken over the soccer program at his alma mater Belleville.

Joe Fischer has returned as the head football coach at Belleville and should lead the Buccaneers back to respectability.

All in all, it shapes up to be an interesting scholastic sports year. Sorry to say, but the summer is gone. Put away the beach chair until next Memorial Day. The summer sure flew by, didn’t it?

NA’s McCarthy remains king of New Jersey football scouting


By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer 

He’s now 72. His health in recent years hasn’t been great, battling kidney cancer, diabetes and heart problems.

“I shouldn’t be here,” says Dennis McCarthy, a longtime North Arlington resident.

But McCarthy is still here, feeling better than he has in a long time.

“I feel like I’m hitting my stride,” McCarthy said. “I feel like I can keep going for another 20 years.”

McCarthy has been going full speed for the last 25 years and with the help of his son Dave, has been putting out The McCarthy Report, the top high school football scouting report in the country.

Disregard all these fly-by-night newcomers who claim that they have seen practically every high school football player in the world.

The McCarthys, Dennis and Dave, watch all of the players in New Jersey with a fine tooth comb and offer their evaluations for approximately 75 colleges, ranging from NCAA Division I institutions through the junior college and NAIA ranks.

At one time, the McCarthy Report was offered to the general public.

“That was for one year,” Dennis McCarthy said. “It was a mistake.”

Now, the McCarthy Report goes out only to the colleges and helps the New Jersey high school football player gain millions of dollars in scholarships.

“Every year, we have to keep up,” McCarthy said. “I call all of the schools.”

The entire operation for the McCarthy Report is run from the McCarthy’s tiny home in North Arlington. The living room looks like a library of VHS tapes, which are now outdated thanks to the advances in technology.

There was a time when Dennis McCarthy would run all over the Garden State –video camera in tow– to capture some of the top players on tape to enhance his report.

That’s not the case any longer.

“Because of the Internet, we do no filming at all,” McCarthy said. “Now, I just go to the computer. It saved my life. I couldn’t do it anymore.”

McCarthy said that he first started scouting prospective college players in 1956, when he was a 14-year-old high school student in West New York, helping his uncle, Angelo Amato, help local youngsters to get to the University of Notre Dame, where McCarthy ended up attending.

“I would go to games with my uncle and give him advice on players,” McCarthy said.

Two of those players, Frank Garguilo (currently the superintendent of schools for the Hudson County Schools of Technology) and Tom Liggio (a former Hudson County Freeholder), went on to play at Notre Dame.

Thus, the birth of a career.

“I knew in my mind, I always wanted to do something with football in New Jersey,” McCarthy said. “I remember going to the old Polo Grounds with my father to see the Giants play and he asked if I wanted to meet the players. I got all their autographs. That was when I got hooked.”

McCarthy went to Notre Dame in 1961 and tried to make the Irish roster as a walk-on.

“That’s when I realized everyone was stronger, bigger and faster than me,” McCarthy said. “But the interest was always there.”

The Notre Dame football coaching staff allowed McCarthy to remain as a tour guide for prospective players and go-fer.

“That’s when I was hooked for life,” McCarthy said.

He came home and tried working in the newspaper business as a public relations representative for the old Paterson Evening News. He was in the public relations business for municipalities like Paterson, worked in the Chamber of Commerce offices in Paterson and Newark. He was also a bartender for a long stint in Lyndhurst.

It was behind the stick that fueled McCarthy’s interest in getting back into scouting football full-time.

“I had a lot of college coaches come into the bar,” McCarthy said. “We had NFL guys stay there (the old Holiday Inn in Lyndhurst) as well. I became friendly with the coaches and would recommend players to them. I still went to all the high school games.”

Some of those games involved his son Dave, who was a fine football player at Lyndhurst High School and later Northeastern.

“Once my kids (McCarthy has another son, Ryan) got older, I needed something to do,” McCarthy said. The McCarthy Report, in its purest form, was born.

“This is what I was supposed to do,” McCarthy said. “Boy, oh boy, did it fit like a glove.”

McCarthy hit the ground running 25 years ago.

“In 1990, I sent it to the colleges for free,” McCarthy said. “I ran all over the state, taking notes, watching practices, games. I would go to Cape May, Camden, Atlantic City, all over. I spent a lot of time on the phone, talking with high school coaches and college coaches. I put out reports on more than 200 kids.”

A lot of time is now spent interviewing the players who end up in the report. If a prospective player says the wrong thing during the phone interview, it might be costly in terms of making the McCarthy Report.

“The interview is a big part of the process,” McCarthy said. “A lot of the kids have no idea that it’s why they were put on this earth, to be a football player and get a scholarship. They think it comes easy.”

Over the years, McCarthy has aided with colleges finding out about some of the most obscure players in New Jersey high school football. Several years ago, the McCarthy Report was the first to mention the talents of a defensive tackle from Westwood High School. His name was B.J. Raji, who then went on to play at Boston College and was a hero for the Green Bay Packers in their Super Bowl championship at the end of the 2010 season.

McCarthy was the first to find Leon Johnson out of Bound Brook, who is now a redshirt freshman at Temple University. McCarthy is convinced that the offensive tackle Johnson will eventually become a first round draft pick in the NFL.

Needless to say, it’s a tedious task rounding up the best high school football players in New Jersey.

“It’s definitely a labor of love,” McCarthy said. “Make no bones about it, it’s now David’s business. I don’t get paid.”

While there are unfortunately no local products from The Observer circulation area that were fortunate enough to be included in the 2014 version of the McCarthy Report, the founding father of the scouting service thinks it should be a good year for the gridiron in the Garden State.

“I fully expect this to be a banner year,” McCarthy said. “As of right now, we have already 48 NCAA Division I commitments. The most we’ve ever had in New Jersey was 80 two years ago. I think this could go past that. It’s a phenomenal class.”

And McCarthy is already hard at work compiling the players who will grace the McCarthy Report in 2015. There is no sign of the genius slowing down.

“The time and effort that you have to put into it is a lot,” McCarthy said. “But I find now, with the way it is, I put even more time into it. I get up early in the morning, go to the computer and look at more kids.”

With his health fine, there’s no need for Dennis McCarthy to stop being the guru of New Jersey high school football, right from the comforts of his North Arlington living room.