web analytics

Classmates in court

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY–  The three young men, pictured above in their Kearny High School yearbook photos, had their whole lives ahead of them. Who knew where the future would take them? No one would have guessed that, a bit more than a decade later, it […]

Serial robber guilty

TRENTON – An accused serial robber has admitted to playing a role in 11 robberies, primarily of drug stores, in Harrison, Newark and Jersey City over a period of eight months, it was announced by U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman. On July 21, Christopher Mojica, 23, pleaded guilty to […]


Blue ranks get reinforcements

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent LYNDHURST – Talk about parallel life paths: Joseph White and Matthew Giunta went to pre-school (St. Michael’s) together, then to Franklin Elementary School, then Lyndhurst High. And, last Friday, they entered the Bergen County Law & Public Safety Institute in Mahwah to begin […]


Slow-paced developments

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  BELLEVILLE –  It’s been a year and two months since Gov. Chris Christie presided at a ballyhooed groundbreaking for Franklin Manor, an age-restricted 137-unit apartment complex for those 55 and over – the first such senior development for Belleville in more than three decades. […]


Still waiting for wall’s restoration

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  HARRISON –  A property dispute between a longtime Harrison business and some neighbors that has been simmering for a few years now appears to be coming to a boil. Smack in the middle of the controversy are Bergen St. homeowners Victor and Eleanor Villalta […]


Garden’s a Monarchy



Right now, Monarch butterflies are somewhere along the lower Eastern Seaboard on their long annual journey north from their winter home in Mexico. When they arrive in New Jersey, they will have a certified and registered Monarch Waystation waiting for them in Riverbank Park.

As the newly installed sign on the fence of the Kearny Butterfly Garden proclaims, the site “provides milkweed, nectar sources and shelter needed to sustain the Monarch butterflies as they migrate through North America.”

This is no small matter. The butterflies need all the help they can get. Nature authorities say the Monarch population is at a 20-year low, which should concern us all since the butterflies are an indicator of our general environmental health — “like a canary in a coal mine,” said one expert.

The reason for the crisis is the loss of milkweed, primarily because of herbicides, though urban spawl has played a role. Milkweed is the one and only plant on which Monarch caterpillars can feed. When the milkweed disappears, so do the Monarchs. Read more »

‘Push to tax polluters’


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent


U.S. Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, accompanied by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Judith Enck, visited a South Kearny Superfund site June 9 to push for a polluter tax to clean the most contaminated industrial sites around the nation.

In government jargon, the 15- acre Syncon Resins site, 77-89 Jacobus Ave. is classified as an “orphaned” property because no one has stepped up to take responsibility for cleaning up toxins remaining on the site.

Syncon Resins, located on the banks of the Passaic River, manufactured paint, varnish and resins until 1982 and the company liquidated its assets a year later, according to Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos. Read more »

Redistricting ‘lesson’ draws big crowd


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 


Kearny Schools Superintendent Patricia Blood unveiled her proposed redistricting plan for five newly reconfigured kindergarten to grade 6 elementary schools last Thursday night to mixed reactions from a packed house at Lincoln School.

The plan – a by-product of the new middle school program for grades 6 and 7 – was to be presented to the Board of Education Monday, June 16, for final approval before being implemented for the fall term in September.

Read more »

All bets off now for gambling ring


Four people from The Observer coverage area, and a relative of a North Arlington elected official, are among 29 suspects linked to what law enforcement officials characterized as “an illegal sports gambling enterprise operating in and around Bergen County.”

The arrests of 28 men and one woman were announced by Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli last Friday, June 13.

Molinelli said the venture “netted approximately $3 million during a 12-month period by accepting wagers on various sporting events including horse racing, football, basketball, hockey and baseball.”

The execution of 42 search warrants in Bergen, Hudson, Essex, Passaic, Morris, Union, Ocean and Monmouth counties and in New York resulted in the seizure of two vehicles and about $800,000, according to the prosecutor. Read more »

Owner now contesting bar closing

gin mill_web

By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 


A Kearny bar owner who consented to a 60-day closure after pleading guilty to violations of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) regulations has changed his mind.

John Hodnett, licensee for The Gin Mill, Brighton Ave. and Afton St., is asking the state Office of the Attorney General’s ABC Division to “stay’ the suspension, pending an appeal of the violations notice.

The governing body voted to implement the closure, that was to run from 2 a.m. June 5 to 2 a.m. Aug. 5, after a public hearing held May 27. Read more »

Back in action at Habitat property


At long last, there were signs of activity at the Habitat for Humanity’s Kearny construction site at 41 Kearny Ave. last week as J&F Concrete Pumping began pouring from Colonial of Newark for the installation of footings.

“Thank God for the break in the rainy weather we’ve had recently,” said Howard McPherson, owner of Champion Construction & Demolition, the general contractor in charge of the job. “Habitat is under way.”

It was back on May 30, 2013, that Habitat representative Tom Bruning joined with county and local officials for a ceremonial groundbreaking for the project – involving the demolition of the one-story building that housed the former county TB center and construction of a new 3-family home.

McPherson said the next step will be framing for the new building which, he said, should take about a month to complete.

What follows, he said, will be siding, roofing, installation of windows, along with “rough” plumbing and electrical, then sheetrock, painting, insulation and installing wood flooring.

“Habitat volunteers [and apartment purchasers] will be brought in from time to time during the full construction process,” McPherson said.

McPherson extended thanks to the mayor and Town Council, Tony Chisari, the town’s assistant construction official, and the Kearny Police Department and PBA Local 21 for traffic control and safely securing the job site. “They were all a breeze to deal with,” he said.

Up in flames


By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent


A 22-year-old Kearny man was arrested last week on a charge of aggravated arson after he allegedly torched a car on a township street in the predawn hours of Sunday, June 8.

Police Chief John Dowie credited residents in the area with helping officers apprehend the suspect.

According to police, at approximately 4:30 a.m., a man was seen using a hammer to smash the windows of a parked car near Belgrove Drive and Peden Terrace and then setting the vehicle on fire.

Read more »

Thoughts & Views: Go ahead, make my day

So, one day I’m sitting at my desk at The Observer when there came this brief but loud noise from outside followed by a strange chemical odor wafting briefly through the open window.

I never did find out what had happened, but at the time, I commented, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

A co-worker laughed, and I said, “I also love that movie.” And she said, “What movie?”

Apparently she thought I was just being clever, and I realized that what we had here was a failure to communicate. Read more »




To North Arlington High School graduates: 

I want to congratulate you on your graduation from high school. You have put in a lot of work to reach your goal and you should be proud of your achievements.

You are about to embark on an incredible journey filled with unforeseeable twists and turns. Some of you will travel far from North Arlington and take on challenges you never imagined you could. Some of you will stay close to home and become part of the fabric of your community. Some will go to college, or trade school; others are destined for the U.S. military. No one path is right for everyone so follow the path that suits you best.

Choosing the right path in life in not always easy.

Be true to your principles; never forget who you are or where you came from. You don’t know it now, but a big part of who you will become someday is already embedded deep inside of you.

I’m not going to tell you to go out and change the world, because most of you will do that in small, almost imperceptible ways that you will come to appreciate only decades from now.

Be honest and forthright. Try new things; test yourself. You will make mistakes, and that’s okay; you will learn more from your mistakes than from your accomplishments. Don’t be afraid to work hard. Don’t sell yourself short and don’t listen to your critics.

Most of all, I implore you to be good citizens. America is at a very pivotal time in its history. We need people of good character to step forward and become doers in our communities, not takers. America has plenty of critics and naysayers. What we need are people willing to roll up their sleeves and make positive contributions to their town, their state and their country.

You are lucky to live in the greatest nation on earth – one that allows you to follow your dreams and set your own measure of success. But remember: America didn’t become great by accident. Many men and women worked very hard to give you the inheritance of political liberty and personal freedom that you now enjoy. Appreciate what this country has to offer and find a way to make it better. If you can do that, you will be a success.

Best wishes, 

Mayor Peter C. Massa
North Arlington 

KPD blotter


Two motorists were injured in a harrowing head-on collision on Route 7 in Kearny last week, and police charged one of them with driving while intoxicated.

Police Chief John Dowie said the impact of the crash, which occurred at 3:20 a.m., Sunday, June 8, near the Harrison Ave. viaduct, “was so violent, the front wheels were sheared off both cars.”

Responding Officers Glenn Reed and Jay Balogh determined that the accident was caused by an eastbound driver, Roy Persaud, 30, of Clifton, who apparently crossed into the westbound lanes, his car smashing into an oncoming auto driven by a 24-year-old Jersey City man, police said.

Persaud was trapped in his vehicle and was extricated with the assistance of the Kearny Fire Department. Kearny EMS transported him to University Medical Center in Newark, where blood was drawn and he was subsequently charged with DWI. Persaud was also charged with reckless driving and, criminally, with assault by auto.

The other driver, described by Dowie as the “innocent victim,” was also taken to UMC for treatment. No charges were filed against him.

Other recent reports from the Kearny police blotter included the following: Read more »