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Post 99 is 95!

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY -  Ninety-five years ago this week — Aug. 19, 1919 — 13 veterans of the Great War, as World War I was then known, gathered in the Kearny home of Fred E. Portz to organize a local chapter of the American Legion. […]

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Pressing for bridge funding

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  LYNDHURST –  Lawmakers from all levels of government, led by State Sen. President Stephen Sweeney, assembled for a press conference on the banks of the Passaic River Aug. 12 to declare their support for a replacement for the 109-year-old DeJessa Memorial Bridge that links […]

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Facing a new gun charge

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY – A Kearny man, who two years ago accidentally shot himself in the jaw with a Smith & Wesson .38 revolver, was arrested last week in Newark on weapons charges. This time, authorities said, he was in possession of an AR-15 assault rifle. […]

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New spin on house party

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY– A house-party host got a bit more than he bargained for when he hired a disc jockey for the festivities and an “associate” robbed him at knifepoint, Kearny police reported. Thanks to some determined detective work, the alleged assailant was tracked (pun intended) down […]

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Cops nab suspects in stabbing, theft

LYNDHURST – The Lyndhurst Police Department last week announced the capture of suspects wanted in connection with a stabbing at a local entertainment spot and with a residential theft. On Monday, Aug. 11, at about 2 a.m., police were called to the Riva Blue night club, 525 Riverside Ave., […]

 
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Obituaries

Arthur W. Anderson 

Arthur W. Anderson, of Kearny, died July 5, in University Hospital in Newark. He was 83.

Memorial visitation will be on Wednesday, July 9, from 4 until 8 p.m., at the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service will be held on Thursday, July 10, at 11 a.m. from the funeral home. Entombment of his ashes will follow in Holy Cross Cemetery. To leave online condolences, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com

Arthur served in the United Sates Navy. He was a firefighter in Kearny and retired as a captain. He was a member of Copestone-Ophir Lodge, the F.M.B.A. and had coached Pony League Baseball all in Kearny.

Husband of Patricia Ann (nee Veasey) and father of Cynthia, William E., Arthur J. and Lynda Anderson. He is also survived by his sister Lillian Hedden and his grandchildren Mitchell, Erik, Zachary, Amanda, Max, Alexis and Nicholas.

In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

John J. Kaletka 

John J. Kaletka, of Kearny, died June 24 in The Alaris Health Care Center at Belgrove. He was 94. He was a lifelong Kearny resident. Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral Mass was held at St. Stephen’s Church, followed by burial in Holy Cross Cemetery. To leave an online condolence, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

John was a paratrooper during World War II. He saw much action in Italy, France and Belgium. He was a Purple Heart recipient and also served in Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s security detail. He was a fourth degree Knight of Columbus and was active with the St. Stephen’s Seniors, The Benstead Center and had been vice president of The Lithuanian American Citizens Club. Husband of Frances (nee Tunkavige) and brother of the late Anna Mack, he is also survived by nieces and nephews Diane Moroses (late Jack), George Moroses (Carol) and Carolyn Moroses along with their families. John also leaves behind his best golf buddy Frank Gonzalez.

In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to your own favorite charity.

Jean L. Metcalf 

Jean L. Metcalf (nee Laidlaw) died peacefully on July 3 at home. She was 89. Born in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., she lived in North Arlington and Lyndhurst before moving to Hackettstown five years ago. Arrangements are by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service will be on Tuesday, July 8, at 11 a.m. from the funeral home. Private cremation will follow. To leave online condolences, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Jean had been a para mutual clerk at the Meadowlands Sporting Arena for many years.

She was wife of the late James Metcalf; mother of Frank (the late Karen) Metcalf, John (Janice) Augustine, Harriet (Larry) Raymond, James (Barbara) Augustine, and William Metcalf; sister of Margaret Lower, John Laidlaw and the late Thomas Laidlaw. She is also survived by her grandchildren Cara, Katie-Rose, JR, Stacey, Kelly, Kyle, Rebecca, Alyson, Brittany and James and her great-grandchildren Trevor, Jesse and Brody.

In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to First Presbyterian Church of Arlington, in Kearny.

Robert James Oldknow 

Bob Oldknow, 83, passed away peacefully on June 30.

Born to James and Lillian Oldknow on August 29,1930, he was a longtime resident of Kearny. He graduated from Kearny High in 1948 and joined the U.S. Army, serving with the Army Occupation Forces in Germany before returning to Bordentown, where he served until 1955. Bob joined the Kearny Police Department, serving until 1962, when he joined the Kearny Fire Department as a firefighter and finally assistant to the chief before his retirement in 1990.

Bob was committed to his community, and was an active member of the West Hudson South Bergen Optimist Club. He was elected and served with distinction as governor of the Optimist International for the State of N.J. from 1987 to 1988. He was a member of the Copestone-Ophir Masonic Lodge and served as the Lodge Master Mason. He also had a great passion for local politics. He was a member of the Third Ward Harry S. Truman Club, the Tantaqua Club and was an elected Hudson County Democratic Committee member for over 25 years.

Bob’s second home was Ocean Grove where he ultimately retired with his beloved wife of 59 years, Frances, who predeceased him in November 2013. He made many friends in Ocean Grove, among them was his group of coffee buddies who met every morning on Main St. and landed the group a part in the opening scene of Hillary Duff’s movie filmed in Ocean Grove. Bob had a great sense of humor and loved to talk to everyone he met, making friends wherever he traveled. Bob is survived by his son, Keith Oldknow, Indianapolis. Ind., granddaughters, Meredyth (husband Josh), Katie and great granddaughter, Zoe, daughter Sharon Marshall (husband Steve) Anchorage, Alaska, son, Kent R. Oldknow (wife Joan) Windham, N.Y., grandsons, Bryan, Sean and Kent II (Kerry), daughter, Marlynn Haslund (husband Leif), Tacoma, Washington state, grandchildren, Leif Andrew, Anna, Peter, favorite nieces Missy and Maura, nephews, Mark and Michael and many, many friends.

Visiting will be on Wednesday July 9, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m., at the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive. A funeral Mass will be on Thursday, June 10, at 10 a.m., at St. Cecilia Church and the cremation will be private.

In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Optimist International organization would be greatly appreciated.

Joan M. Smith 

Joan M. Smith, 80, died June 24 at the Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville.

Born in Newark, she lived in Kearny before moving to North Arlington in 1960.

In 1954 she graduated from the nursing program at Jersey City Medical Center, received a Bachelor of Nursing in 1973 and a master’s degree in nursing in 1976, both from Jersey City State College. She worked as a registered nurse at East Orange General Hospital from 1981 to 1992.

She was the beloved daughter of the late Ann (nee Martin) and late Alfred Smith, the cherished sister of the late Alfred Emmet Smith, the dear sister-in-law of Agnes P. Smith of Parsippany, the adored aunt of Kevin Smith, Brian Smith and his wife Anne, and the loving great-aunt of Cathryn Smith.

She was a member of the Jersey City Medical Center Alumni Association, a former member of the Parish Council of Queen of Peace Church, North Arlington, and a member of the Literacy Volunteers of America at the Kearny Public Library.

The funeral was from the Parow Funeral home, 185 Ridge Road, North Arlington, on Friday, June 27, with a funeral Mass at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, North Arlington. The entombment followed in Holy Cross Chapel Mausoleum, North Arlington.

Donations in her memory may be made to the Queen of Peace Church Restoration Campaign, 10 Franklin Place, North Arlington, N.J. 07031

Viola Scott Thomsen 

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Viola Scott Thomsen (formerly Viola Mocarski) passed away at the age of 89, on June 20, at Lytton Gardens Senior Communities in Palo Alto, Calif. Her death was attributed to cardiovascular failure.

Visitation will be on Friday, July 11, at the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. A funeral service will take place at The Fewsmith Memorial Presbyterian Church in Belleville, 10 a.m., Saturday, July 12, with burial to follow in Crest Haven Memorial Park, Clifton.

Viola was born on August 8, 1924, and was raised in Walker Valley, near Pine Bush, N.Y. During World War II, she worked as a secretary at Stewart Field in upstate New York. She married Edward Mocarski, and they raised their three children in Belleville. Viola worked for many years in physician’s offices and then as executive assistant to the head of chemistry at Hoffman La Roche Pharmaceuticals in Nutley. After her marriage to Carl Thomsen, she lived in Sparta and later retired to Port St. Lucie West, Fla. Viola recently joined her children and their families in California, residing at Lytton Gardens Assisted Living in Palo Alto.

Throughout her life, Viola maintained many close relationships with family and friends. Wherever she lived, Viola was active in the Presbyterian Church, serving as an Elder at churches in Belleville, Sparta and Vero Beach. She loved to travel and enjoyed entertaining as well as the latest in fashion and design. Viola participated in social clubs, card clubs and dinner groups, as well as all aspects of the performing arts, regularly attending local and regional theater with friends. She loved decorating the house for every holiday. Over the last three decades, Viola became a regular golfer.

Wife of the late Edward S. Mocarski and the late Carl Thomsen, she is survived by her son, Dr. Edward S. Mocarski Jr., and his wife Dr. Christine L. Martens, daughter Nancy L. Zarra, daughter Susan J. Mocarski and her husband Darrell E. Elwell.

Also surviving are grandchildren Anthony J. Zarra Jr., Emily C. Mocarski, Shannon S. Lee, Cassandra L. Belt and Ryan C. Elwell.

Please consider a donation to the American Heart Association in honor of Viola.

To leave online condolences please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Brookdale Park fireworks, concert postponed to July 15

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Because of the forecast of severe weather, the Essex County Fireworks Display and Concert with The Infernos and Joe Piscopo scheduled for tonight, Thursday, July 3, in Essex County Brookdale Park has been postponed to Tuesday, July 15 at 7:30 p.m.

Towers of power

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By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent 

LYNDHURST – 

Fans of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission’s DeKorte Park took notice when the NJMC recently announced that the Saw Mill Creek Trail has been closed and will likely remain so until next year.

Readers unfamiliar with the wildlife preserve might have just shrugged.

But, lo and behold, it turns out the closure is part of a multimillion-dollar energy project that affects most of our Observer towns. It’s called the Northeast Grid Reliability Project, it’s costing an estimated $907 million, and PSE&G has been working on it since 2012. Completion is projected for June 2015.

Your correspondent admittedly noticed PSE&G workers busy at the power lines on Main St. in Belleville for some months now but never thought to make inquiries. It was the NJMC announcement that caught our attention, and we have since learned much. Read more »

May sue for more energy cash

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By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

Public Service Electric & Gas pays about $18 million a year in Energy Tax Receipts (ETR) aid to the state for its properties in Kearny and the state passes that money along to the town’s coffers.

That’s nearly a quarter of the town’s overall budget but Mayor Alberto Santos – who’s looking to extract as much revenue as he can to soften the local tax impact for property owners – said Kearny deserves more.

“At our peak year in 2002, we were getting $21.5 million a year from the state for PSE&G,” said Santos. But since then, he said, the state has elected to keep more of the state-wide utility tax for its own budget-balancing purposes.

The mayor’s assertions are echoed in a “Friends of Local Government Policy Paper Series” March 2013 report on “Appropriating Energy Tax Receipts: The New Normal for New Jersey,” written for the N.J. League of Municipalities Educational Foundation by Alan Zalkind and Angie McGuire of the Rutgers Center for Government Services. Read more »

Cespedes shooting to grand jury

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BELLEVILLE – 

Nearly a year after Belleville resident Dante Cespedes was gunned down in a fusillade of bullets fired by three township cops in his apartment, an Essex County grand jury has been convened to investigate the fatal shooting.

Katherine Carter, spokeswoman for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, wouldn’t confirm or deny the grand jury activity but Marc Bengualid, the New York attorney representing Cespedes’ widow Judy Breton, said his client was called to testify June 20.

Other witnesses who appeared before the grand jurors included several Belleville police personnel, according to Bengualid, who said he was unable to identify the officers.

Bengualid said he believes that, “more witnesses are coming,” including the Essex County medical examiner. Read more »

Now he’s a lieutenant

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By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

The Kearny Police Department has scored an additional police superior but it still leaves the department scrambling for more bodies, according to Police Chief John Dowie.

For now, though, the chief said he’s thankful that the town governing body has seen fit to promote Sgt. John View, 45, to the rank of police lieutenant. View was sworn in at the June 24 meeting of the mayor and Town Council, at an annual base pay of $124,608.

Because the town has applied for state transitional aid, View’s promotion was contingent on approval by the state Division of Local Government Services but no objections were foreseen.

At last week’s meeting, Dowie, addressing Mayor Alberto Santos and members of the council, said that when he recommended the move to them, he realized that the town was under fiscal restraints. “This was not easy to sell,” the chief said, “but my hat’s off to you for rising above it.” Read more »

Layoffs, loan seen as deficit remedies

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By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 

BELLEVILLE –

Last week, the Belleville school community learned the awful truth: The township’s public school district is $3.6 million in the red and deep cuts are being made to get the district right for the coming school year.

And the situation could actually have been worse: CPA Jeffery Bliss, a partner with Lerch, Vinci & Higgins, the Belleville Board of Education’s Fair Lawn auditors, told a massive crowd assembled in the high school auditorium June 23 that overexpenditures for the current school year totaled $4.8 million.

But to soften the blow, the board is applying its surplus funds to restore a portion of the money it now needs to balance its budget by June 30, according to BOE Secretary/ Business Administrator Raymond Jacobus.

In a phone interview last week, Jacobus told The Observer that in April, he met with Executive County Schools Superintendent Joseph Zarra and Belleville Schools Superintendent Helene Feldman to sound the alarm of a looming deficit and to outline specifics. Read more »

Artistic and adorable

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HARRISON –

See that creature in the photo at top right? That is the beloved and legendary “Pig Chicken With Round Hands.”

You never heard of it? Well, more’s the pity.

We made its acquaintance last week in Harrison, where students in kindergarten through third grade were exhibiting their work in Lincoln School’s annual art show.

Although we have written about prior shows, we never cease to be delighted, and amazed, at the creativity and imagination evident in the sculptures, paintings, collages, etc.

The aforementioned being, for example, was the creation of a third-grader, who envisioned it and then brought it to life, so to speak, using everyday, mundane recyclables.

(Look closely. It is obviously a rotund, white pig. With chicken “feathers.” And circular hands.)

The halls of the building on Cross St. were lined with such gems, some displayed on tables, some hanging on the walls. A visitor walking through the doors couldn’t help but smile as soon as the art came into view. And then you read the titles: “The Cow From the Moon,” “The Big- Eyed Hungry Animal,” “The Happy Snowman That Loves to Play,” “The Flying Long- Tailed Cat With Antenna.”

Did we say the children were imaginative? Read more »

Doggedly pursuing animal complaints

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By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent

KEARNY –

Summer has barely begun but already Kearny has seen plenty of the season’s “dog” days … and lots more.

Just ask William Pettigrew, public health inspector for the Kearny Health Department, who’s been scampering around, responding to a series of incidents involving dog bites and barkings, a cat scratch, even a stray chicken, plus lots of overgrown grass and weeds in yards.

On June 4, the Health Department was notified by Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville, that the hospital had treated someone bit by a pit bull-type dog on Chestnut St. the day prior.

After learning the dog owner’s identity, Pettigrew said he phoned the owner and advised that he’d be stopping by to talk and to arrange for a home confinement for the owner’s unlicensed pet for 10 days as a precaution. Read more »

Thoughts & Views: Two bullets, 10 million dead

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There was a seismic change to the world on June 28. Didn’t notice anything?

That’s okay. The change occurred 100 years ago, and back then the majority of people didn’t initially notice much either.

However, what happened that day launched a chain of events that would irrevocably transform nations, society and culture in ways then inconceivable and, even now, astonishing.

On June 28, 1914, on the streets of Sarajevo, a 19-yearold Bosnian Serb assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne.

(That’s Franz in the photo.) Read more »

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