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NAPD seeks man who allegedly passed 4 fake $100s

The North Arlington Police Department  is currently investigating an incident involving use of counterfeit $100 bills at a 7-Eleven on Ridge Rd. A man, approximately 6′  in height, 150 lbs., wearing a baseball cap  with a Seattle Mariners logo, a […]


W.H.A.T. presents ‘The Addams Family’ July 30-Aug. 5, including preview tonight at Angry Coffee Bean

KEARNY — Teen Drama, a theater company for teens celebrating its fifth anniversary this summer, in association with the West Hudson Arts & Theater Company (W.H.A.T.) presents the modern classic Broadway musical “The Addams Family” this summer. The smash-hit musical […]


Images from funeral procession for Jersey City police Detective Melvin Santiago

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Farewell to a brother in blue

On Friday afternoon, regular traffic came to a halt on the Belleville Pike and Ridge Road to open the route for the funeral procession of slain Jersey City Police Detective Melvin Santiago. The 23-year-old rookie, promoted posthumously to detective, had been ambushed early Sunday, July 13, when he […]


State eyes raising part of Pike

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent  KEARNY – The Rt. 7/Belleville Turnpike corridor which runs through Kearny’s meadows area and beyond is getting a lot of attention these days from state and federal transit agencies. For the past couple of years, contractors hired by the state Department of Transportation have […]


Damiano named new Belleville boys’ soccer coach




By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer 

After a successful career playing soccer, first at Belleville High School, then later St. Peter’s College and then the Kearny Scots-American Club on the semipro level and the New Jersey Stallions of the United States Interregional Soccer League, the forerunner to today’s MLS, Jim Damiano experimented with life in the business world.

“I was a partner in a recruiting firm,” said Damiano, now age 45. “But I wasn’t happy doing it. I always wanted to be a teacher and be with the kids.”

And with that dream came the hope of also being a head soccer coach.

Last year, Damiano returned to his alma mater as a coach and teacher. Damiano coached the freshmen and was an assistant with the varsity under Mike Gaccione.

When Gaccione decided to move on to take an administrative position at another school, Belleville Athletic Director Tom D’Elia recommended Damiano to move into the slot.

“Tom approached me and basically told me that the job was mine if I wanted it,” said Damiano, who ranks as one of the all-time leading scorers at both Belleville and St. Peter’s. “How could I say no? It’s a no-brainer for me to give back to where I was from and where I played.”

Damiano has become a special education teacher in the Belleville school system.

Damiano, whose wife, the former Nadine Gaitka, was the former girls’ soccer coach at Harrison High, before stepping down to concentrate on raising the couple’s two sons, knows that he’s inheriting a program that is on the rise.

The Buccaneers won the Super Essex Conference-Colonial Division championship last season and were competitive in the Essex County Tournament and NJSIAA state playoffs.

“Of course, this should be my honeymoon year, because we only lost two seniors,” Damiano said. “There are usually big expectations when you win the conference like we did.”

Not only has Damiano improved the Buccaneers’ independent schedule, taking on teams like Kearny and Ridgewood in non-league matches, but the Bucs will also face a tougher SEC schedule against teams like Millburn, Glen Ridge, Verona and Seton Hall Prep.

“We’re going to be tested right from the beginning,” Damiano said. “We should have a good team.”

One thing that will change will be the Buccaneers’ approach.

“We’ve made a few changes in style and we’re going with a 4-5-1 lineup,” Damiano said.

The move was to accentuate the talents of returning senior midfielder Max Correa, easily one of the best returning players in Essex County, never mind the state.

“He’s extremely good with the ball,” Damiano said. “He’s exciting to watch.”

The Bucs also have talented sweeper Marlon Rodriguez, who will be a senior. Rodriguez made all the defensive moves, leaving the offense to players like Correa..

“When you have a player like Max, you have to do something to get the most of his talent,” Damiano said.

The Bucs also returned speed striker Luis Lopez, who scored 28 goals last season.

“The talent is there,” Damiano said. “I knew when Mike was leaving that this was going to be a good returning team. The kids knew that when Mike was leaving, they wanted me to take the job. They didn’t want anyone else.”

The Buccaneers began their official offseason workout regimen last Saturday, so the players got a sense of what Damiano is looking at as a head coach.

“Every day,” Damiano said. “Every single day, we’re looking toward this season. The kids are very responsive to the changes we’ve made.”

Damiano said that he has been ready for the challenge ahead. Playing soccer all the time with his two sons, James (age 9) and Nicholas (age 7) has kept Damiano on his toes. It’s safe to say that the Damiano family is definitely a soccer family, with two coaches and two active sons.

“It’s all the time,” Damiano said. “We’re constantly playing soccer on the front lawn. It’s non-stop.”

But the former Buccaneer great is ready to take over the program he once played for.

“It’s really a dream come true,” Damiano said. “I thought I might have a chance to coach in three to five years. It’s a real treat for me to be able to coach where I played. I’m excited.”

It appears as if the rest of Belleville is equally excited.

Then & Now

DQ 711_web



The southeast corner of Ridge Road and Noel Drive in North Arlington has long been a commercial site, occupied now by a brand-new 7-Eleven. But back in the 1970s, when the ‘Then’ photo was taken, it featured a Dairy Queen, which apparently had a restaurant attached to it. What do you serve in a Dairy Queen restaurant? Cheeseburger a la mode? Later, the property was the longtime home of Jim Dandy’s restaurant, which operated until fairly recently. Locals will recognize that Jim Dandy’s had used the cozy-looking barnlike structure built by DQ, but it was, alas, demolished by 7-Eleven. We don’t know the make and model of that block-long sedan parked at the DQ, but it calls to mind the days when members of a classic car club would gather in Jim Dandy’s parking lot for an impromptu auto show. And, of course, ever present then and now: those electrical power lines.

– Karen Zautyk 

Davie appointed to YMCA board




Kearny attorney Ken Davie, a partner in the Harrison law firm of Cifelli and Davie, has been named a member of the Greater Newark YMCA’s board of trustees, it was announced by Michael Bright, YMCA president and chief executive officer.

Davie is an active, 16-year member of the Y, and is currently assistant town attorney for the Town of Kearny, as well as special counsel for the City of Bayonne and the Borough of North Arlington.

“The Y has always been active in our community,” said Davie. “Many of us either learned to swim through the Y and had our kids learn to swim at Lincoln School in Kearny, went to the Y summer camps at Camp Linwood in Blairstown or enjoyed the Y’s state of the art completely affordable fitness facility, which includes an Olympic size pool.”

“The Y, through its 2013 and beyond Strategic Plan, seeks to focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility in our West Hudson communities, and I am extremely grateful that this tremendous organization has allowed me to strive to accomplish these completely attainable goals,” said Davie.

Davie previously served as vice president of the Hudson- Liberty Boy Scouts of America and pro bono counsel for the Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps, as well as a soccer coach for Kearny Recreation, Thistle F.C. and High Tech High School.

Contact www.NewarkYMCA.org for more information about the numerous and varied programs the Y has to offer to all age groups in the West Hudson area, especially its summer camp offerings.


Diane Alvarez 

Diane Alvarez of Kearny died suddenly at home on June 7.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held at the funeral home, followed by burial in Holy Cross Cemetery. To leave online condolences, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com. Kindly consider a donation to the family to assist with expenses.

Diane was a teacher’s assistant at Kids Academy in Harrison.

Daughter of Oscar and Silvia Alvarez, she is also survived by her children Jessye, Natasha, Jovan and Tatiyana Echevarria, her brother Oscar Alvarez Jr. and six grandchildren.

Alberta C. Bryceland 

Alberta C. Bryceland, 98, Wall, died peacefully at home on Saturday, June 7.

Alberta (Bert) was born and raised in Kearny. She was a graduate of Kearny High School.

After marriage, Bert and her husband Maurice lived many contented years in Denville. Bert was a devoted wife, a dedicated homemaker, and enjoyed spoiling the couple’s Labrador retrievers.

Following the death of her husband, Bert moved to Wall Township in 1986. She often walked the boardwalk, became a member of the Sierra Club, and was a generous contributor to a variety of charities. A particular joy was frequently dining with family and friends.

Bert was kind, funny, laughed easily, welcoming to everyone, and a loyal friend. Bert was predeceased by her beloved husband Maurice, parents Charles and Mamie Salzmann and her dear brother Walter C. Salzmann.

She is survived by her niece, Jane Harris, Wall, and her children and spouses: Kevin and Gina Harris, Laura and Darin Bedle, and Brian and Jennifer Harris; nephew and wife William and Ann Salzmann, Champlain, Ill., and their children, Elizabeth Salzmann, Katharine Salzmann and Peter Salzmann; nephew and wife Walter and Susan Salzmann of Wall and their son and spouse, James and Dehn Salzmann; and also great-great nephews and nieces, Jessica, Charles, Ryan, and Nicole. Bert will be missed by special friends the Kingman family, Mary Doyle and her grandson Christopher Doyle.

A private graveside service will be held at a future date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Bert’s name to the Associated Humane Society, 2960 Shafto Road, Tinton Falls, N.J. 07753 or the Monmouth County SPCA, 260 Wall St., Eatontown, N.J. 07724.

For further information or to send condolences to the family, please visit www.obrienfuneralhome.com.

Michael Adam Cicchino 

Michael Adam Cicchino, 56, died Saturday, June 7.

A funeral Mass was held at Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, Harrison. Interment was in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington. Arrangements were by Condon Memorial Home, 210 Davis Ave., Harrison.

Michael was a diehard sports fan and a big animal lover. He was the marshal for over five years in the New York City Bike Tour as well as a past member of the Harrison Lions Club. He was a partner at Vi’s Florist for over 30 years. Son of the late Anthony Cicchino and brother to the late Diane McEntee, he is survived by his loving mother, Regina Cicchino; his four siblings, Anthony (Maria), Marianne (Roy), Carol (Joe), and Richard (Robin); and his 10 beautiful nieces and nephews, along with his cat.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests all donations be made to ASPCA In Memory of Michael Cicchino, 520 8th Ave., 7th floor, New York, N.Y. 10018 or call 1-800-628-0028.

Jeff M. Humphrey

Jeff M. Humphrey died on June 9. He was 43.

Born in Belleville, he was a lifelong Kearny resident.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. The cremation was private. To leave online condolences, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

In lieu of flowers, kindly honor Jeff’s love of music and consider a donation to www.hungryformusic.org. This group provides instruments to children whose families cannot otherwise afford to purchase.

Jeff earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at New Jersey City University. He had been a professor at Touro College in New York and was currently a medical technology instructor at Montefiore Medical Center, New York. Jeff, a very talented musician, could play many instruments and formed The Jeff Humphrey Trio. Sadly, he died in an accident coming home from work Monday evening.

He is survived by his former wife Kathy (nee Keelty), his beloved daughters Madeline and Leah, his loving parents William and Linda Humphrey, his brother Josh and his wife Jennifer and their daughters Cate and Anna.

Allan Kerr

Allan Kerr died June 1. He was 66.

Born in Kearny, he was a lifelong resident.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held at the funeral home, followed by burial in Arlington Cemetery. To leave online condolences, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Allan served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. He had been a partner with Dave Moran in an automotive tow company. He also owned Al’s Gulf in Freehold. His main occupation, however, was that of building manager and supervisor at the Madison Medical Building in New York. He was a member of Copestone-Ophir, F.&A.M. #108 in Kearny.

Husband of Susana (nee Ottermann), he is survived by her son Yubilan and his fiancé Linda. Brother of the late Marjorie, he is also survived by his brother-in-law Cliff Yaschur and his beloved niece and nephew Carolyn (Brian), and their son Andrew and Jefferey (Elva), and their daughters Marjorie and Marilyn.

Claire A. Kerr 

Claire A. Kerr, 95, of Ocean Grove, passed away on Friday, June 6, at Francis Asbury Manor, Ocean Grove.

Born in Paterson, Claire lived in Kearny until 1976, when she moved to the Covered Bridge section of Manalapan, where she lived for 36 years before moving to Ocean Grove in 2012.

She was an office administrator for Certified Credit in Newark before retiring.

Claire was a past member of the United Methodist Church, Kearny.

She was predeceased by her husband Roderick in 1983 and her daughter Donna Adamoli in 2009. She is survived by her son and daughter-in-law James and Kathleen Kerr of Wayne; her daughter and son-in-law, Barbara and Paul Urban of Columbus; seven grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

Visitation and funeral service were held at the Freeman Manalapan-Marlboro Funeral Home, Manalapan. Interment followed at Arlington Cemetery, Kearny. To share a memory, offer a condolence, or find directions, please visit freemanfuneralhomes.com.

Rozalia Pawlica 

Rozalia Pawlica, 94, of Lyndhurst, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, June 11.

Funeral services were under the direction of the Mulligan Funeral Home, Harrison. A funeral Mass was held at Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, on Monday, June 16. Her interment took place in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.

For information, please visit www.mulliganfuneralhome. org.

Born in Poland, she lived in Kearny for most of her life before moving to Lyndhurst recently.

She is survived by her loving children Chester Pawlica and his wife Patricia and Lee Fischbach and her husband Heiki, cherished grandchildren Richard and Joseph and great-grandchildren Kathryn and Andrew.

Helen Weidele 

Helen Weidele of Kearny passed away on June 6 at ManorCare, New Providence.

Arrangements were by the McCracken Funeral Home, 1500 Morris Ave., Union. A funeral Mass was offered on June 11 at St. Michael’s Church, Lyndhurst, followed by interment in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.

Helen was born in Harrison and lived in Kearny for 65 years. She was one of seven children of Theodore and Katherine Piskowski.

She was a graduate of Harrison High School and owner of Kent School of Dance, Montclair, and Bunnie’s Beauty Salon, Kearny. She also worked as an executive secretary for the IUE for 30 years.

Helen enjoyed traveling and, most of all, Atlantic City. She was a member of St. Cecilia’s Church, Kearny, and St. Michael’s Church, Lyndhurst.

She was the beloved wife of 37 years to the late William Weidele, loving companion of the late Thomas Reilly, dear sister of Josephine Balsamo of Virginia, Irene Rossmell of Florida and the late Jean O’Neal, Stanley Piskowski, Frank Piskowski and Chester Piskowski. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Helen’s name to the Raise Your Glass Foundation, P.O. Box 4516, Warren, N.J. 07059.

See Riposta for good food — or home deals


By Kevin Canessa Jr. 

Observer Correspondent 


How Frank Riposta, owner of D&F Deli on Davis Ave., gets any sleep might just be one of the great mysteries of life. He and his wife, Diane, have owned the deli since 1983.

But since 2006, Riposta has also served as a real estate agent for Century 21 Semiao and Associates. And during that time, not only has he continued to operate one of the most successful and noted delis in Kearny, he’s also been one of the most successful real estate agents in the area.

And he credits a lot of his real estate track record to the success he’s experienced in 30-plus years of operating D&F.

“It’s really remarkable,” Riposta said. “So many of the people who I’m selling homes to now were kids who were carried into D&F as babies in diapers. Now, here they are, ready to buy their first homes, and they’re coming to me. It’s something special.”

Indeed it is.

Yet he somehow survives on about three to four hours of sleep a day. He’s working in the deli and with real estate clients for about 18 hours on average each day, he says.

Exterior of D&F Deli & owner Frank Riposta

Exterior of D&F Deli & owner
Frank Riposta



A man they can trust 

Riposta says prospective homebuyers and sellers are coming to him because they already know they can trust him — just as they have for decades in the deli.

“The satisfaction I get in helping people is incredible,” Riposta said. “And the beauty of it is they always know where to find me. If I am not at the deli, they can find me at home since I live right across the street from the deli.”

Riposta also says another key to success is how he deals with his clients and customers.

“I’ve always treated customers and clients the way I’d like to be treated,” he said. “On the deli side, I’ve strived to provide my customers with quality food at a reasonable price. I know my customers are from the working class. They don’t want fancy food at fancy prices. But I always strive to give them the best food possible at the best prices possible.”

And because of that loyalty Riposta shows in the deli, it translates into him seeing the same people when they want to either buy or sell a home.

“And never is that more evident than when people need to do a short sale,” Riposta said. “They want to be able to trust their agent because they sometimes have to admit they made a mistake when they bought. And that they’re close to losing their homes. And for me, there’s nothing better than when I can help someone in danger of a foreclosure, avoid a foreclosure.

“It’s the difference in them being able to, let’s say, buy another home again in two years as opposed to a lot longer than two years.”

Riposta also says working in real estate is much more than making money.

“Do I like the paycheck? Sure,” he said. “But being able to help people who are under water get out of that is very satisfying. And I believe that’s been a key to my success.”

Interested in buying or selling a home with Riposta? Contact him at Century 21 Semiao and Associates at 201- 991-1300. Or visit D&F Deli at 396 Davis Ave., Kearny, or call 201-998- 1293. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Block Watch, Helping Hands meeting in Belleville is Thursday night at 7 at Senior Center


The Belleville Police Department and Mayor Ray Kimble invite the public to a “Block Watch Formation and Helping Hands” public meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Belleville Senior Center, 125 Franklin Ave.

Nutley PD: Resident’s credit card used improperly on horse-gambling site


May 31

A Howard Place resident reported 16 fraudulent transactions with more than $4,000 in total estimated withdrawals on their bank card. An investigation determined that the account was linked to a horse race gambling network, police said. The account has been closed and the card canceled.  Read more »

Peace & joy


By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent


At the corner of Kearny and Laurel Aves., there stands the magnificent grey-stone edifice of St. Stephen’s R.C. Church, which this year is marking the 75th anniversary of its dedication.

When your correspondent mentioned that to some friends, the reaction was, “It’s only 75 years old? It looks so much older.”

It’s not that the church appears age-worn. Far from it. But the classic Gothic architecture calls to mind those centuries-old houses of worship found across Europe. The soaring structure is reminiscent of a medieval cathedral.

Of course, no one’s going to think a Kearny church dates to the Middle Ages, but what is its history? Read more »

Awards presented by the KFD


By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent 


The Meritorius Acts Review Board (MARB) of the Kearny Fire Department recently held its 1st annual awards ceremony, honoring both firefighters and civilians.

The board, comprising deputy chiefs, captains and firefighters, presented the citations at a dinner at the former Boystown campus, attended by not only the award recipients but friends and family.

Unit Citations, represented by a new uniform bar designed by Capt. Kevin Donnelly, were presented to men who took part in two particular 2013 incidents, their actions judged to be “in the highest tradition of the fire service.”

Cited for their actions during a March 10, 2013, fire at 600-602 Frank Rodgers Blvd. in Harrison were KFD Capts. Jerry Coppola and Rod Nardone and Firefighter Dave Russell. Read more »

Borough gets new school leader


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 


Patrick W. Martin is the new superintendent/principal of the East Newark Public School. He was hired May 9 at the Board of Education’s annual reorganization meeting after his proposed contract was approved by the executive county superintendent.

Martin, who replaces William Shlala July 1, has been given a three-year contract by the BOE. In his first year, Martin will collect $115,000; in his second year, he’ll make $120,000; and, in year 3, $125,000.

Shlala’s two-year term as interim superintendent/principal ends June 30.

The board is also seeking a new part-time school business administrator. Tom Havlusch is leaving that post to seek another position outside the district. He was earning $30,000 for up to 19 hours a week. Read more »