This week’s e-Edition and classifieds are now posted. We apologize for the delay.
By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – Take away the “acting” title: the Kearny Board of Education has formally installed Patricia Blood as its official superintendent of schools. The board took the action at a special meeting held last Thursday night at the Lincoln School. The vote was […]
By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent KEARNY – On May 27, 1922, an estimated 25,000 people gathered in the streets around the small park where Kearny Ave. and Beech St. meet, to witness Gen. John J. Pershing personally dedicate the towering granite monument honoring the Kearny men who died […]
A photo (above) of the suspect van was released Nov. 19 by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. NUTLEY – Nutley police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating the motor vehicle that struck and killed a 77-year-old woman on Centre St. on […]
By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent HARRISON – At Washington Middle School in Harrison, nearly 75% of the more than 400 enrolled are just as busy with school-related projects after 3 p.m. as they are during their regular day of classes. And that’s partly by design of the school […]
First league championship for cross country program in 32 years
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Before the current cross country season began, Nutley head coach Gerald Ryan believed he had the makings of a special team.
“I had an inkling that if we stayed healthy and if we could stumble across one or two freshmen who would become pieces to the puzzle, then we could contend for a league championship,” Ryan said.
Well, that’s exactly what happened last week, when the Maroon Raiders won the Super Essex Conference-Liberty Division championship at Branch Brook Park in Newark.
The Maroon Raiders won by nine points over runner-up West Essex with Glen Ridge third.
It marked the first time that Nutley had captured a league championship in boys’ cross country since 1982, when the Maroon Raiders won the old NNJIL crown.
Ryan, a proud Nutley alum, was 10 years old the last time Nutley won a league championship.
“I was in fourth grade,” Ryan said. “It’s been a while. It’s really great for the kids. The sense of determination grows every day in these kids.”
Leading the way is junior Luke Michels, who won the overall individual title in 17:12.
“Luke pulls everyone along together,” Ryan said. “He has a disciplined work ethic. He’s always pushing himself and wants to be able to pull the rest along.”
Michels believed that the Maroon Raiders would be successful at the league meet.
“I really thought we could do this,” Michels said. “We prepared all summer for this and we just went all out. We’re all one big unit. We have pasta parties together all the time. We feel connected to each other and we’re willing to help each other out.”
“Luke understands the team concept,” Ryan said. “He’s not concerned about himself as much as he is with the others on the team. He was in a tough spot, being out there all by himself.”
Michels won the race by a full 47 seconds. “When you’re running by yourself, it’s hard to push yourself,” Ryan said. “At the mile mark, he was already in the lead by 15-to-20 seconds.
There was no one there with him. At that point, you can’t even hear footsteps. But he’s running well.”
Ryan believes that Michels should be in the hunt for an NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group III title at Greystone Park in Morris Plans in a few weeks.
“He’s run Greystone already (at the Greystone Invitational last Friday) and finished fifth overall in 16:37,” Ryan said. “So he should be in the mix there.”
“It’s been a real confidence booster,” Michels said. “I’m looking forward to the sectionals and hopefully moving on to the Groups (at Holmdel Park). That’s my goal and I feel like I can do it.”
Sophomore Eric Vogler was next for the Maroon Raiders at the SEC meet. Vogler finished fifth overall in 18:08.
“He ran track for us last spring, but didn’t run cross country last year,” Ryan said. “His attitude has really impressed me. He’s a hard worker who is willing to do anything for the team. He really has emerged as a runner and has been very consistent.”
Freshman Jimmy Quinn was next for the Maroon Raiders, placing 13th overall in 18:41.
“I went to high school with his dad, Jim,” Ryan said of the younger Quinn. “I’ve known Jimmy growing up, but I definitely never expected what we’re getting from him. He’s been a pleasant surprise. I think he feeds off Luke a little and pushes himself to be like Luke.”
Senior Steve La was right behind Quinn, finishing in 14th place in 18:47.
“He’s always working,” Ryan said of La. “I think that’s the MO of the entire team. Steve has been around the program for a few years and is a great kid. I’m glad to see that the hard work he’s put into the sport is beginning to pay off.”
Junior Michael Conca was next in line, finishing 15th , right behind teammates Quinn and La.
“The Conca family name has been running for Nutley since the 1970s,” Ryan said. “Michael just falls in line with the rest of his family. Mike started late this year, but has worked himself back into running shape and is now making a contribution.”
Junior Anthony Castronova was 26th overall.
“He’s the vocal leader on the team,” Ryan said. “He has a great attitude and gives 100% every race.”
Freshman Gerard Dimayuga was 28th overall.
“He’s been a big surprise,” Ryan said. “From the first day of practice, he’s shown a lot. He learned how to push himself and has matured fast. He’s making big contributions to the program.”
Ryan is soaking up the team’s success. He’s been the head coach for eight years and coaching track in the district for 18 years.
“This definitely gives me a little sense of accomplishment,” Ryan said. “It’s something that can never be taken away. Records come and go, but there will be a banner up in the rafters. It will be on T-shirts and jackets that we won the league. It’s great for the kids and a great accomplishment for our program. Nutley is not one of the better known spots for runners.”
Michels is also pleased that the team will be forever remembered.
“It’s really amazing being put next to the 1982 team,” Michels said. “It’s really awesome.”
It’s also pretty awesome to make a little history in the process.
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Alan Clements enjoyed an excellent career as a volleyball coach, first at Fair Lawn High School, where he still teaches, then on the college ranks at Bergen County Community College, then Felician College and finally Mercy College in New York, where he spent three years.
But then Clements walked away from coaching the sport he loved – because of two other people he loved more.
You see, Clements is a single father, raising his son and daughter on his own.
“They were a junior and senior in high school and they were starting to search for colleges,” Clements said. “So I had to get away from coaching for a while.”
But after both of his children had settled into college, they pleaded with their father to do one thing.
“They said, ‘Dad, you have to get back into it,’” Clements said. “So I started looking.”
A little more than a year ago, Clements made a few phone calls to friends in the volleyball ranks. He found out that Lyndhurst needed a new head coach.
“I knew that Lyndhurst was rebuilding,” Clements said. “But I like building things. It’s not the place most coaches would go, but I thought I could blend in and build something.”
When Clements arrived last year, the Lyndhurst girls’ volleyball program was in transition.
“But I never had a group of girls who worked harder,” Clements said. “We were basically starting from scratch. These girls bought in and had a summer program. They went to camp together.”
The Golden Bears won a total of nine matches last season, but had almost a complete turnover from last year. Most of the starters on last year’s team graduated.
Clements knew that this year’s team was ready to work.
“We scheduled the first practice at 3:30 p.m. because I still work in Fair Lawn,” Clements said. “We got out early that day and I went straight to Lyndhurst. When I got there at 2:15, I found 29 girls sitting outside in the heat, waiting to practice. That showed me they were eager. Then, after practice was over, they asked if they could stay and keep going. They’re not great volleyball players, but they’re dedicated athletes.”
Most of Clements’ roster never even played the sport of volleyball before they enrolled at Lyndhurst.
“I joined the sport because I wanted to do something new,” said senior outside hitter Rachel Martin. “I always played soccer before high school. But I wanted to do something different.” Michael Rizzo, currently a vice-principal and a former assistant volleyball coach as well as the school’s bowling coach, taught a lot of the current members of the Golden Bears when they were in eighth grade. Rizzo encouraged many of them to consider playing volleyball – and they did.
“I really thought it would be fun,” said Kathleen Totaro, a senior defensive specialist. “Rizzo was the one who brought me in, because he sounded like he knew what he was doing.”
“I wanted to try something new things in high school,” said senior Jessica Shortino. “Volleyball just seemed so intense. Coach Rizzo was so enthusiastic about me playing.”
Others liked what the sport offered.
“I liked the intensity of it,” said senior settler Samantha DaSilva. “I loved diving on the floor after the ball. The game is real quick. I loved the pace of the game.”
“I just like being involved,” said senior setter Emily Young. “My sister played volleyball, so I knew about the sport. Rizzo helped by putting the bug in my ear.”
But there was no guarantee that the newcomers would be successful.
“We knew it was going to be tough, because none of us had experience,” Young said. “We were all starting from scratch. We were building a team.”
So the new coach was inheriting new players who all had the same goal.
“We wanted to do something special,” Shortino said.
As they all entered their senior year, the Golden Bears wanted to make their final season their best.
“I always feel like we’re going to have a successful season,” Clements said. “That’s just the way I feel. Our goal at the beginning of the season was to make the state playoffs and the county playoffs.”
Seemed like a lofty goal for a team that won only nine matches last year. But the Golden Bears have defied the odds and have already won 10 times this year.
“I think we have a group of overachievers,” Clements said. “They work so hard all the time. They are good role models. The freshmen actually look up to them. It’s all good. They want to learn the right way to play and are doing some really nice things. Other coaches are amazed with what we’re doing, but I always had faith. I think we’re where I thought we would be.”
The players are enthused about their prospects.
“It feels great,” Martin said. “We never had a winning season before. I think we’re setting an example for those younger than us. “
“It’s almost surreal,” Totaro said. “As a senior, it’s great that we’re finally able to win. I’m excited for the entire program, because I know the program will succeed after we leave.”
“No one expected us to do well,” DaSilva said. “This is such a change from years past.”
“Every senior wants to go out with a bang,” Young said. “We’re proving everyone wrong.”
Led by a coach who always believed in his team.
“I get up every morning and can’t wait to get here,” Clements said. “I love my job in Fair Lawn, but these girls are like my second family. They all have great attitudes and want to play. I never have a discipline problem with them. It’s been great.”
So have been the results. The Golden Bears have a winning volleyball season. That says it all.
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Barbara Paiva was born in Brazil, entering a family that had a strong background in the sport of soccer. Her father, Adao, was a premier soccer player there. Her uncle, the late Achilles Reis, was a professional player who had a stint with the Brazilian National team.
One would think that Paiva would naturally gravitate toward the sport as well.
But that wasn’t the case.
“I was into karate,” said Paiva, who came to Kearny when she was seven years old and started playing soccer two years later.
“I thought I should give soccer a try,” Paiva said. “I always watched the sport. My dad always played. I figured, ‘Why not? I should try it.’”
Paiva tried out for the famed Kearny Thistle youth soccer program and didn’t exactly enjoy instant success.
“When I first started with it, I never expected to actually play,” Paiva said.
But Paiva became dedicated to the sport and used her father as a powerful instructor.
“I worked on the game with my dad,” Paiva said. “I always used to practice with him. He told me that I had to run more, that I had to be fast to play, so he would make me run sprints. He always made me run and I thank him every day for it.”
Adao Paiva also taught his daughter incredible ball skills.
“We used to watch Ronaldinho videos and my dad used to bring me to the park to work with the ball,” Paiva said.
It was that dribbling skill and ability to use both feet that caught the attention of Kearny High School girls’ soccer head coach Vin Almeida.
“I remember Barbara being in sixth grade and she would hang out at Harvey Field (the home field for both the Kearny boys’ and girls’ soccer teams),” Almeida said.“I used to see her juggling the ball on the side and she had such outstanding touch with the ball. I had to make sure that she came to Kearny High School. We’re very fortunate that she came.”
Incredibly, Paiva wasn’t sure she would be able to play varsity soccer.
“When I first tried out, I thought I had no chance to play,” Paiva said. “But (former assistant coach Lauren) Roemer told me that I could do it and she gave me a lot of confidence. I just started picking it up and after a while, I realized that, hey, I could play.”
Paiva has been a mainstay on the Kearny girls’ soccer program since she arrived a little more than three years ago.
As a sophomore, Paiva helped the Kardinals win the Hudson County Tournament championship, scoring four goals in the title game against Bayonne.
But that was nothing compared to what Paiva has produced this season as a senior.
Paiva has been a goal-scoring machine this year. In one game against Peddie a few weeks ago, she tallied five goals in one game.
Last week, Paiva scored nine goals, including three in a game twice against Harrison at Red Bull Arena and again against Union City in the quarterfinals of the Hudson County Tournament, taking the first step toward leading the Kardinals to their sixth straight county crown.
For her efforts, Paiva has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.
On the season, Paiva has now tallied 24 goals and seven assists in 13 games, leading the Kardinals to an impressive 11-2 record thus far. She scored 25 goals all of last season and she’s within reach of the school’s single season goal record set by Stefanie Gomes three years ago.
“Yeah, I’m pretty amazed at what I’ve done this year,” Paiva said. “But I’m not worried about any record. It’s not about me. It’s for the team. I’ll do anything to help the team. But I’m not even thinking about that (a record). I kind of just go with the flow and don’t let anything get to me.”
Almeida said that he is not surprised at all by Paiva’s scoring explosion this season.
“To be honest, I expected a lot from Barbara this season,” Almeida said. “I always knew that she was really skilled. She has a lot of speed and with her ability with both feet, she is able to put it all together. I thought she could take it to another level this year. With her speed and she’s super skillful, she brings a lot to the table. When she’s clicking on all cylinders, we’re a pretty good team.”
Almeida is impressed with Paiva’s ability to shoot with both feet, a rarity in girls’ soccer.
“She’s amazing,” Almeida said. “Her right foot has always been strong, but her left foot has become very good. She can punish you with both feet. It’s a lot of fun to watch.”
Paiva said that she also worked hard to be able to shoot with both feet.
“Every day, I work on shooting with my left foot,” Paiva said. “I work on that in my yard, so whenever I score a goal with my left foot, I say, ‘Yeah, Dad, look at that.’ He worked on that with me, too.”
It’s safe to say that Paiva was born to play the sport.
“Yeah, it’s in my blood,” Paiva said. “It just took me a little while to realize it. Everyone else around here started playing before I did.”
Paiva has aspirations to play soccer in college. She has interest in Rutgers (coached by Kearny native Mike O’Neill), as well as Monmouth and the University of Delaware. St. Peter’s University has expressed interest in her.
“That would really make my day,” Paiva said about her chances of playing on the next level.
Paiva is already a well respected player around the state. She spent a few years playing club soccer for US Parma and now plays for the storied STA program in Morristown.
For now, her focus is solely on the Kardinals and a pursuit of both a Hudson County and NJSIAA state title.
“I just hope she’s able to keep it going,” Almeida said. “She has it all, speed, strength, technical ability. She’s definitely a better player than she was last year, in terms of her mentality and maturity. She’s also better physically. She’s just having a great season.”
One that Paiva and Almeida hope that continues straight through the rest of this month and into November.
Yolonda Girdwood (nee Gaglio) of Kearny passed away quietly at home on Oct. 8, surrounded by her beloved family and friends. She was 80.
Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral Mass was held at Our Lady of Sorrows, Kearny, followed by burial in Holly Cross Cemetery. Condolences may be left at www.armitagewiggins.com.
Yolonda was a retired bank teller and was a proud member of Our Lady of Sorrows Rosary Society, the Ladies Auxillary of the VFW Post 1302 and the Wolf Packs. She was loved by her friends and neighbors, and was always cooking for a houseful of people.
Mrs. Girdwood is survived by her beloved husband Henry “Hank” and her sons and their wives Stephen (Carolyn) Girdwood and Victor (Ann) Girdwood. She is also survived by another daughter-in-law Michelle. She was predeceased by her sons David and Michael. She was the sister of Santina Girdwood and the late Mary Gaglio, Faye Scorsone, Angelina Passarella, Gerardo Gaglio and Joseph Gaglio. Also surviving are many beloved grandchildren, great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
Dugald A. McAllister
Dugald A. McAllister died Oct. 11 at St. Mary Hospital in Passaic. He was 71.
Born in Newark, he lived in Kearny, many years in Long Valley and then Toms River, before moving to Georgia five years ago.
There will be a memorial visitation on Wednesday, Oct. 15, at 9 a.m., at the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. The service will be at 11 a.m. To leave an online condolence, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.
Dugald was a printer for Hatteras Press in Manasquan. He was past exalted ruler of the Kearny Elks and was a life member of the Schooley Mountain Volunteer Fire Department.
He is survived by his wife Jane C. (nee Wright) and his children David and Robert McAllister and Virginia Thatcher. He is also survived by his grandchildren Avery, Olivia, Dean, Jake and Liam “on the way”.
In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to www. WoundedWarriorProject. org/Donate.
John C. Modzelewski
John C. “Moe” Modzelewski died Oct. 9. He was 65. He was a lifelong Kearny resident.
Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held at the funeral home, followed by a private cremation.
Mo worked for the Public Works Department in Kearny and was well known at the VFW.
He is survived by his mother Genny, his sisters and their husbands Debbie and Joe Pereira and Terry and Joe Alfano. He was also the uncle of Joseph, Jeremy, Jennifer, John and the late Michael.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the VFW Post 1302 in Kearny.
Once again, we venture into yesteryear Harrison, the specific year being 1930. The specific day, Jan. 30. The horse-drawn trolleys cited in last week’s ‘Then’ photo have been replaced by modern electric ones, but those who share the street with them are still taking risks.
Note the car on the left, which we presume (hope) is parked, not traveling, perilously close to the tracks.
The view is identified only as ‘Harrison Ave. & 4th St.,’ and we wondered in what direction one was looking. In a search for the address of Pletter Furniture (sign on building at right), Google wanted to send us to links for ‘pleather furniture.’ (Who still buys pleather furniture?) Then the light bulb lit: Of course! The trolley is making a right turn off 4th St. onto Harrison Ave.
This is a view looking north toward Kearny. Closer inspection also revealed the number on the trolley. It is the 39 — the same as the old No. 39 bus that followed the same route.
Above: Stephen Nemec
A 21-year-old Nutley man has been arrested and charged with burglary after police say he broke into an elderly woman’s apartment.
Stephen Nemec is at the Essex County Jail, where he is being held on $25,000 bail, police say. He was unable to post the 10% cash option after his Oct. 9 arrest, reports say.
Police gave the following account of the Oct. 7 incident that led to Nemec’s arrest:
Police responded to the senior housing on William Street in response to an authorized man in a woman’s apartment. The 93-year-old victim told police that when she entered her apartment, located on the fourth floor, she was confronted by Nemec.
Police say Nemec handed the startled woman a candy bar and fled.
Police called to the scene reviewed video surveillance and determined Nemec entered the building behind an unsuspecting resident. He then proceeded to the fourth floor, and entered the woman’s apartment. Police say Nemec admitted to sneaking in behind the resident.
Nemec told police he entered the wrong apartment as he was looking for a friend who supposedly lived on the same floor, according to police.
— Kevin Canessa Jr.
Here’s a look at our new sign — at our new location, 39 Seeley Ave., Kearny.
The Township of Lyndhurst will hold a Columbus Day celebration Sunday, Oct. 12, from noon to 5 p.m., at Town Hall Park and Delafield Avenue. Music, food and vendors will be available, sponsored by New Memory Management.
For more information, call 201-966-3579.
By Karen Zautyk
Currently hanging in the office of Daniel Jacoby at the Nutley Bureau of Veteran Affairs, 149 Chestnut St., are two uniforms. One is Jacoby’s own camo garb, worn during the former U.S. Army specialist’s deployment in Iraq. The other is a bit older. Nearly a century old, in fact. It was worn during the war that was supposed to end all war.
Jacoby has displayed the two next to each other, but with the World War I uniform slightly in front of his, “to show respect for the generations that have gone before,” he explained.
The older uniform has breeches, resembling jodhpurs, that are laced at the bottom, the better to accomodate puttees and boots. The jacket bears a sergeant’s stripes and an embroidered caduceus, indicating that the wearer was a member of the Army Medical Corps.
That wearer was Sgt. Luke A. Kenney, who lived in Nutley from 1959 until his death at age 80 in 1973. It was his daughter, Pat Rush of Nutley, who donated the uniform to the Nutley Museum, to honor not only her father, but all veterans of the Great War. No date has yet been set, but sometime in the coming weeks there will be a special Historical Society ceremony, after which Kenney’s uniform will be permanently on display at the museum, 65 Church St.
Despite its age, the uniform is pristine, no apparent restoration necessary, despite the fact that, over all those decades, there were no special efforts to preserve it. “It was just hanging in his closet at home,” Rush told us.
Rush, who is a very young 83, decided to make the donation after attending a religious retreat, where she learned that a special retreat was being organized for veterans. She contacted Commissioner Steve Rogers about that planned program, and then offered the uniform as a veterans’ tribute.
Rush also has her father’s identity discs (the precursor of dogtags) and a collection of his military papers, but those treasures she is rightfully keeping to hand down to her children (she and her husband Robert had eight) and grandchildren.
The documents show that Luke Kenney of Newark, age 25, 5-foot-4, grey eyes, brown hair and “ruddy complexion,” was inducted into the Army on May 27, 1918, and was honorably discharged (also having been commended for his “excellent character”) on June 25, 1919 — the war having ended the previous November.
On Aug. 26, 1918, he had sailed for France, where he served as a medical technician with the American Expeditionary Forces. He arrived back in the U.S. on June 22, 1919. We don’t know at which port, but we assume it was New York. In any case, the Army noted that he was “entitled to a reduced fare to Newark.”
While in France, he became a corporal, on April 1, 1919, and was raised to the rank of sergeant exactly a month later. (Editor’s note: We don’t know his circumstances, but such rapid field promotions were not uncommon in World War I, the casualties among the troops being massive.)
“Did he ever talk about the war?” we asked Rush. “Very little,” she said.
“But he did talk about it being very cold. He had just two thin blankets, so he saved all his newspapers, including the Newark News, put them between the two blankets and stitched them all together.”
“He also talked about the Salvation Army,” she recalled. “He said that was the best group for coffee. He said the Knights of Columbus wouldn’t give you anything unless you paid for it.”
“And,” she added with a laugh, “he was a Knight!”
After returning to the States, Kenney and his wife, Marie, and their daughter lived in Newark and then Nutley. He worked for the City of Newark Water Department, retiring as superintendent.
Kenney was also active in veterans’ affairs, particularly the Newark chapter (Newark Barracks #90) of the Veterans of World War I, which had its headquarters in the Krueger Mansion on High St. (now called Martin Luther King Blvd.). Kenney became the commander and later served at the group’s chaplain, attending the wakes and funerals of all the deceased members.
At those wakes, the current Barracks #90 commander would offer a eulogy composed by Chaplain Kenney himself.
In part, it notes that the veterans in attendance were there “to pay our respects to a loyal, patriotic citizen whose service to his country deserves far more than our ability to give.”
It continues: “He contributed his bit, like other loyal Americans in the past, and the readiness to offer his life, if need be, to preserve for us those hard-earned rights of Freedom and Justice. . . .
“He assumed his duties in a strange land and risked exposure to the discomforts of war, hunger, disease and death.
“Yes, our buddy deserves far more than we here can offer.
“While we are but a few because of fast-diminishing ranks, there is nothing wanting in the sincerity of our grief at our buddy’s passing. May his soul rest in peace.”
On the back of this document, which is one of those Rush is keeping, she has penned a note for her family: “This eulogy was composed by your grandfather/greatgrandfather. How sincere, touching and well-written — by a gentleman who had an 8th grade education.”
And to us, she said, “I have always been so proud of my dad.”
Rightly so, Patsy.