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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]
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 […]
By Kevin Canessa Jr.
There’s no doubt you’ve likely seen “The Addams Family” at some point, whether it’s the classic TV show or more recent versions on the large screen. But this week — Wednesday to Saturday to be precise — you’ll find a completely new take of “The Addams Family” at West Hudson Arts & Theater Co. (W.H.A.T.), presented in conjunction with Teen Drama, a local theater company for kids in kindergarten through 12th grade,
This production, says show co-director Michele Sarnoski, is based more on “The Addams Family” comics. It focuses on Wednesday who is all grown up and in love with someone unlike any member of the Addams Family.
“So a lot of the show is how The Addams Family deals with someone who comes from a normal family,” said Sarnoski, a graduate of Lyndhurst High School.
The two most veteran performers in the show are Faith D’Isa (Wednesday) and James Berko (Lurch). Both D’Isa and Berko are longtime members of Teen Drama — but are back, one last time, as ascending college sophomores. And that delights Sarnoski.
“They are just amazing,” Sarnoski said. “And what’s perhaps the greatest part is that this year, there are 11 new kids in the production. And they’ve both grown to embrace the new kids — to show them what Teen Drama is all about — and it’s not an easy task.
“A lot of what James has to do is in his movements. It’s physical. So he doesn’t get to use his voice much to show the other kids things. Yet he does it so well. And Faith, if you’ve ever seen her, she’s always got a smile on her face, she’s always so bubbly. And she plays the ever-stoic Wednesday.
“But they’re both so awesome at showing the younger kids our traditions.”
The rest of the cast includes Dennis Oliveira (Gomez Addams), Maggie Spector- Williams (Morticia Addams), Rachel Spillane (Wednesday Addams in two shows), Abigail Stokes (Pugsley Addams), John McCullough (Fester Addams), Joana Marmelo (Grandma Addams), Michael Oliveira (Beikeke), Samantha Armenteros (Alice Beineke), Tyler Bremner (Mal Beineke), Briana Dickinson, Alyssa Fink, Jillian Fitzpatrick, Lauren Gold, Melanie Hill, Stefanie Pancaro, Spencer Roda, Valentine Rojas, Alyssa Schirm and Julia Truskolawski (Addams Family Ancestors).
5 years and counting
For Sarnoski, this is year five of Teen Drama. She began the program after several local parents approached her and said they wanted more for their kids to do, dramawise, in the summer months. So Sarnoski and her show co-director, Joe Ferriero, got together to form Teen Drama.
Sarnoski and Ferriero had worked together for quite some time — dating back to 2003 — when they co-founded an immensely successful drama program at the former St. Stephen’s School … and later Mater Dei Academy.
“Joe is my best friend, and I love working with him,” Sarnoski said. “So about five, six years ago, we put the program together for kids who are in kindergarten to the 12th-grade. The first year, we had just 10 kids. Now we’re up to 25. It’s been an amazing experience.”
And the connections with W.H.A.T. have been very beneficial for both organizations, as well.
Many of the youngsters who have performed in Teen Drama shows have gone on to perform in W.H.A.T. shows. And, because W.H.A.T. offers several theater-related educational programs each year, the youngsters in Teen Drama have benefitted from W.H.A.T.’s outreach, as well.
“We’ve been great feeders for each other,” Sarnoski said.
Speaking of feeders, the young performers aren’t just from West Hudson. In fact, this year, there are kids from Nutley, Lyndhurst and North Arlington — from middle schools and high schools, both public and private. And that expansion is very exciting, Sarnoski says.
Sarnoski says she’s most satisfied when people leave Teen Drama shows with a smile.
“We want the kids to feel like they’re part of a family,” she said. “It’s only a six-week program, so there’s a lot to do in a short period of time. Then when people leave happy after shows, and they’re impressed, we know we’ve done things right.
Indeed, they have.
Find out more about Teen Drama by visiting www.teendrama.org, or by calling 973-498-8336 or by sending a message by email to info@ teendrama.org.
Showtimes for “The Addams Family” are Wednesday, July 30, to Saturday, Aug. 2, at 7:30 p.m., with a 1:30 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Aug. 2, at the W.H.A.T. Theater, 131 Midland Ave., Kearny (the former St. Stephen’s School). Tickets can be purchased at the door for $10 or online at www.teendrama.org. Special $7 tickets are available for the Saturday matinee for senior citizens.
By Kevin Canessa Jr.
If you’ve driven along Kearny Ave., you’ve no doubt seen the Coccia Realty office. And no matter where you go in town, you’ve seen its neat-looking signs on lawns of homes for sale.
And it’s not just in Kearny. There’s a big reason why Coccia signs are seen so often — it’s because for more than 50 years, since 1961, when Joseph Coccia Jr. first opened the agency to this day under the ownership and leadership of John “Jan” Kwapniewski — Coccia has always represented the very best there is in real estate.
Kwapniewski first got his real-estate license in 1985 — and then, just four short years later, he bought Coccia Realty and became its president.
Since that time, he’s opened four more offices — in Lyndhurst, Rutherford, Madison and Montville — and has expanded what was once a single-office entity into a real-estate powerhouse that employs more than 100 agents. And, by April 2015, there will be two more offices: one in Secaucus and another in Clifton.
Many of the agents speak more than one language, too, and that’s critical in today’s world. Speakers of Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Polish will find an agent who can speak in their native tongue to make the home buying or selling process that much easier.
So just what is it that makes Coccia stand out from the rest? Well, for starters, Kwapniewski has never forgotten what it’s like to be new to the business, and as such, he imparts his experience and knowledge to his team as a mentor and coach. He does everything in his power to ensure all of his employees are the best-trained and most knowledgeable in the industry.
And because of Coccia’s connection to Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, that training is the best in the business, he says.
“The training Better Homes and Gardens offers is outstanding,” Kwapniewski said. “And it’s constant. They offer our agents live training, live webinars, pre-recorded seminars and weekly training on issues in the industry that are that are critical.”
Because of his style of leadership, and because of the topnotch training available to his agents, Kwapniewski says he’s always been able to attract the highest-quality talent to come to work for him.
“My goal always has been and always will be not to have the largest quantity of agents, but the strongest quality,” he said. “I don’t just hire anyone — and I am not afraid to let someone go if they’re not willing to work with our standards. But when there are people who can focus on our mission — people who are committed to learning, those are the people I want working with us.”
Kwapniewski says it’s also important to note that some of the best agents are those who have been well mentored. He says each new agent is managed and mentored by a superior.
“To be really good agent, you’ve got to mentored and nurtured,” he said. “And it takes about two years, in reality, for that mentorship to develop into something special.”
Why hook up with Better Homes?
While Kwapniewski has the statistics to prove he’s got the most sales and volume in our readership area, he says he wanted something more for the business. He really didn’t need to rebrand Coccia as most already know the Coccia brand and name. But he opted to rebrand to reinvent what he’s already succeeded at.
“They were after me for at least three years,” Kwapniewski said of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate. “Their business model was fresh and put together by some of the brightest minds in the industry. And with the power and support of their branding, overall, it’s better for the consumer — and a win-win for the agents because of the aforementioned training.”
In-house marketing and advertising
One of the other major areas where Kwapniewski says Coccia is different from the rest is that agents are not asked to perform social media or advertising on their own. He’s got a full-time social media expert on staff who does all the Tweeting and Facebook work. And, the company pays for all advertising.
Many other agencies demand agents pay for their own advertising and require them to do their own social media branding.
“Not with us,” Kwapniewski said. “Our agents’ job is customer service and to negotiate deals. We’ve got our own back office that does the brokerage, marketing, advertising and promotion. We don’t ask our agents to spend their own money. Others do, and in many cases, the agents don’t have the money to be spending. If it’s between putting food on the table or marketing your house, you know the choices they have to make.
“That is never the case with us. We do it all for them. And it benefits our people and our consumers.”
To get in touch with Kwapniewski, call him at Coccia’s Kearny office at 201-997-7000 or stop in at 636 Kearny Ave., or visit www.cocciarealty.com.
Belleville Public Library and Information Center, 221 Washington Ave., hosts The Mad Scientist’s Laboratory, involving crafts and activities, on Tuesdays at 2:30 p.m., open to all ages. The August schedule: “Rocket Power,” Aug. 5; “To the Stars,” Aug. 12; “What Planet,” Aug. 19; and “Alien Life,” Aug. 26.
The library will screen these children’s films on Fridays at 2 p.m.: “Ice Age,” Aug. 1; “Monsters vs. Aliens,” Aug. 8, “The Lego Movie” Aug. 15, “Happy Feet” Aug. 22 and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” on Aug. 29.
The Essex County SummerMusic Concert Series presents Jersey Sound and Almost Queen in a rock and roll show Friday, Aug. 1, at 7:30 p.m. in Brookdale Park. Jersey Sound is one of the Tri-State area’s premier oldies band, and Almost Queen is a tribute band featuring the songs of the 1970s group Queen. Admission is free.
The Fab Four come to Bloomfield in a free concert Friday, Aug. 8, when the Essex County SummerMusic Concert Series hosts the Beatles tribute band, featuring former cast members of the Broadway show “Beatlemania,” at 7:30 p.m. in Brookdale Park. For more information, call the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs at 973‑239-2485.
Harrison will mark National Night Out on Tuesday, Aug. 5, with a program co-sponsored by the Harrison Police Department and Harrison/East Newark Elks. From 6 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 5, residents are asked to lock their doors, turn out outside lights and spend the evening outside with neighbors and police. During those hours, members of the Harrison Police Department and Elks will gather at Roosevelt Park, in front of the Harrison Public Library, along Harrison Ave., to meet residents and share strategies about stopping crime and educating folks about drugs. There will also be games and giveaways for children, along with music and food.
Kearny’s National Night Out celebration, sponsored by the Kearny Police Department, will be held Tuesday, Aug. 5, from 6 to 8 p.m., on Belgrove Drive at Veterans Field. The event will feature live music, a bounce house, spin art, balloon artists, a classic car show and demonstrations by the Hudson County Corrections K-9 unit, Kearny Fire Department and NorthStar Helicopter.
Summer vacation Bible School will be open from Sunday, Aug. 10 to Thursday, Aug. 14, 6 to 8 p.m. each night, at Calvary United Methodist Church, 342 Elm St. All ages are welcome.
“Princess” double features will be screened on the lower level of the Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., on Fridays throughout the summer. Refreshments will be served. Here’s the schedule: Aug. 1 – “Cinderella” (G) at 1 p.m. and “The Swan Princess” (G) at 2:30 p.m.; Aug. 8 – “Beauty and the Beast” (G) at 1 p.m. and “Brave” (PG) at 2:30 p.m.; Aug. 15 – “Shrek” (PG) at 1 p.m. and “The Princess Bride” (PG) at 2:30 p.m.; and Aug. 22 – “Aladdin” (G) at 1 p.m. and “Princess and the Frog” (G) at 2:30 p.m.
Mary’s Traveling Seniors sponsors a five-day, four-night trip to Wildwood, Sept. 14 to 18. Final payment is due by Aug. 1. Price includes transportation, accommodations, breakfasts and dinners, entertainment, dolphin watch cruise, a visit to Cape May and Atlantic City. Cost for double occupancy is $482 and single is $90 additional. A deposit of $150 per person is required. For reservations and more information, call Mary at 201-998-1030.
Join Special Angels Recreation, an organization for special needs children, as they take on the Lyndhurst Police Emergency Squad in a kickball game Aug. 16, at 9 a.m., at the Lyndhurst Little League field on Riverside Ave. After the game, there will be fun activities for all. For more information or to learn how to participate, call 201-804- 2469 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Lyndhurst Health Department is collecting donations for students in need. Items welcomed include backpacks, marble composition books, notebooks, dividers, loose paper, crayons, and 3-ring binders. Donations can be dropped off at the Health Department, 601 Riverside Ave., Suite 1, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Donations should be made prior to 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 New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and Bergen County Audubon Society announce that the First Sunday-of-the-Month Bird Walk is set for Sunday, Aug. 3, at 10 a.m. in DeKorte Park. The walk starts outside the Meadowlands Environment Center. Check meadowblog.net for last-minute weather updates. Participants are asked to sign a standard liability release that is good for NJMC/BCAS events throughout the year. To R.S.V.P., contact Don Torino of the BCAS or call 201-230-4983.
NJMC Pontoon Boat Cruises are set for 5:30 p.m. for Aug. 5, 7, 13 and 15, departing from River Barge Park, 260 Outwater Lane, Carlstadt. Experienced NJMC staff lead this two-hour cruise of the Hackensack River. Cost is $15 per person. Cruises are recommended for ages 10 and up. Pre-registration is required. For a complete schedule of trips, directions, and to register, visit www.njmeadowlands.gov and go to the Parks and Nature Programs tab at the top of the page, or call 201-460-4677.
Lyndhurst Public Library, 355 Valley Brook Ave., announces:
• Children of all ages are welcome for a screening of “Ratatouille!” on Monday, Aug. 4, from 2 to 4 p.m. Registration is required.
• Children in grades pre-k to 3 can make their very own watermelon craft on Wednesday, Aug. 13, from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. Registration is required.
The North Arlington Woman’s Club holds a flapjack breakfast Saturday, Aug. 23, 8 to 10 a.m., at Applebee’s Restaurant in Kearny. The cost is $10. For tickets, call 201-889-2553.
Chief Louis M. Ghione of the North Arlington Police Department announces that National Night Out is scheduled for the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 5. Residents are encouraged to meet their neighbors and leave a porch light on overnight as a show of unity against crime.
Borough residents are invited to a free outdoor concert featuring the Duprees Aug. 6 at 7 p.m. at Riverside County Park. This concert is co-sponsored by the Borough Recreation Department and Inserra ShopRite.
Food vendors will be available at the park. Residents are advised to bring their own lawn chairs.
The Duprees are known for their romantic interpretations of some of the most popular songs from the ’50s and ’60s.
Story time, crafts and more are planned for this August at Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive. For more information or to register for programs, call the library at 973-667-0405 or visit http://nutleypubliclibrary.org. Here’s the schedule:
• Two-Year-Old Story Time will be held Friday, Aug. 1, at 10 a.m. Registration is required and participants must be Nutley residents.
• Drop-in Craft session for children is set for Monday, Aug. 4, at 2 p.m. (while supplies last).
• Family Game Night is open to all ages at 7 p.m. on Aug. 4.
• Play Tuesday is open to children of all ages on Aug. 5 at 1 p.m. • Static Science, a workshop program, is offered Wednesday, Aug. 6, at 2:30 p.m., for ages 8 and up.
• End-of-Summer Reading Treat Party is set for Thursday, Aug. 7, at 1:30 p.m., and features a live reptile show. Children must be registered for summer reading to attend.
• “Happy Birthday, Annie Oakley,” a program on the famous sharpshooter and onetime township resident, is set for Saturday, Aug. 9, at 2 p.m. Local historian Nancy Greulich will appear as Oakley. The event, open to all ages, includes a craft and birthday treats.
• A screening of “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” is set for Aug. 1 at 2 p.m. as part of the library’s First Friday Films program. A new film is shown the first Friday of each month. Check the library’s event calendar for a film schedule.
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
The start of the high school basketball season might still be four months away, but it appeared to be in full bloom recently during the Kearny High School Girls’ Basketball Summer League.
For example, Kearny played Harrison last Thursday night in one of the regularly scheduled games in the league that ran from late June and will conclude next week.
The way the game was going, you could swear the game was in the middle of January instead of July. The only reminder that it wasn’t the regular season was the heat coming from outside, the doors to the gym being wide open and fans were blowing to try to keep everyone cool.
Every loose ball was followed with a full-fledged dive on the floor. Bodies were bouncing off each other. Elbows and forearms were flying. It was intense.
Sure, it was Kearny against Harrison and the two schools could face off in Chinese checkers or a forensic debate and it would become heated. But this was particularly passionate for a summer league contest.
“It did get pretty physical,” said Harrison head girls’ basketball coach Al Ruiz said. “The girls all know each other and work out together, so they really want to win here.”
“We wanted to win so much, so it did get a little chippie,” said Harrison sophomore forward Cynthia Ferreira. “You could see the competition. It was good for us.”’
“There’s that competitive side in me that always wants to win,” said Kearny junior forward Nawal Farih. “But then again, you have to be reminded that it’s just a summer league, so you just try to do the best that you can.”
Kearny was missing several of its top players to other commitments, so the final score was lopsided in favor of the Blue Tide, who showed significant ball handling prowess en route to the win.
Ruiz was impressed with the way his team performed in the win.
“We do have a couple of ball handlers,” Ruiz said. “Shanaieda Falcon (a junior this upcoming season) is doing a good job, so that enables us to get Amber O’Donnell away from playing point guard. We have another senior, Kayla Montilla, who also can handle it well. Between Shanaieda and Amber, we have the possibility of having a nice season.”
Ruiz said that he has kept his girls busy during the summer. The Blue Tide also competes in the Paterson Kennedy summer league.
“We get them together three or four times a week,” Ruiz said. “It’s good that we can be together so much.”
“It’s a good opportunity for us to get to know each other better,” Ferreira said. “We talk more and it helps camaraderie. It gives me a chance to become a better player against good competition. It’s good practice and it gives me confidence that I am becoming a better player. And it’s a good feeling anytime you win at any time.”
Especially when it’s against the dreaded neighborly rival.
The Kearny girls’ summer league featured 12 teams from throughout Hudson and Bergen counties. Some of the other local teams to play in the league included North Arlington and Lyndhurst.
Lyndhurst second-year head coach John Cousins wasn’t pleased with the way his team performed against Marist, but he was just glad that his team was together in full force, working hard and playing hard.
“This is awesome,” Cousins said. “I’m so happy to get in this league. It’s a great opportunity for us to get better and we have to get better. The girls didn’t play in a summer league last year, so win, lose or draw, this is outstanding. These games don’t count. We just want to try to compete and get better.”
Lyndhurst sophomore Kira Adams agreed.
“It’s a chance for us to get more practice to get ready for the season,” Adams said. “It’s a great opportunity to play in the summer. It creates better chemistry between us for the coming season. We have a bunch of new girls coming in, so we’re getting to know each other better.”
“We’re not doing anything strategic here,” Cousins said. “All we want to do here is compete and play hard. I do like the effort we have been getting. A couple of players have really impressed.”
Junior Cameron Halpern and sophomore Caitlyn Blake are two of the Golden Bears who have shown improvement in Cousins’ eyes.
“I’m just so happy to be here,” Cousins said.“We don’t have to worry about winning.”
Kearny head coach and league coordinator Jody Hill has been pleased with the way the league has turned out.
“We have a 12-team league this year,” Hill said. “We doubled in size. I’ve been able to work with (Kearny boys’ head coach) Bob McDonnell and he’s helped us tremendously. Every game has been competitive. We’re really getting what you want in a summer league.”
Hill said that Thursday’s short-handed game gave other girls a chance to show her what they could do.
“We had some incoming freshmen who may have been a little over their heads, but they tried hard and got some good experience,” Hill said.
One of those newcomers was guard Megan McClelland.
“She was thrown out there and handled herself pretty well,” Hill said of McClelland. “She’s going to be a rising star. She’s quick and she’s not afraid to mix it up. It was nice to see her and a few others go out there and just play.” “Since we have such a new team, it was good to get a chance to gel and be together,” Farih said. “It’s helped me a lot that I’ve learned to be more composed and relaxed as I play.”
Ruiz loves the way his team has come together during the summer months.
“We really have put a lot of time and effort all summer,” Ruiz said. “It’s been great for us. We’ve been playing in this league for a couple of years. Jody comes to help us out with the training of the girls. They know her and respect her. It’s all good.”
Hill loves being the host school.
“It’s very convenient for us,” Hill said. “We’re here every day and I get the chance to work with the younger girls. We don’t have to worry about transportation to get here and there. It’s excellent for us. The league is going well.”
Chances are that the Kearny summer league will continue to do well for the years to come as well. The competition is good and the teams are good, so all in all, the league is very good.
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
After graduating from Harrison High School in 2004 as one of the best soccer goalkeepers in the high school’s history, Raphael Viana always hoped he could return to his alma mater as a coach.
“It’s something I always wanted to do,” Viana said.
Well, that chance has occurred, as the 28-year-old Viana has been named as the new girls’ soccer coach at Harrison, replacing Annemarie Sacco, who held the position for two seasons.
Viana – who now owns his own soccer company and training school called Go2Soccer in Livingston with another former Harrison great, Tony Dominguez – heard that the head coaching position for the girls’ team might be available.
“(Harrison athletic director) Kim Huaranga called me and said that the position was open,” said Viana, who was in goal for some of the Blue Tide’s state champions in 2001 and 2002. “(Harrison boys’ soccer head coach) Mike (Rusek) might have whispered something in my ear to tell me that if I had interest, that I should call.”
A few phone calls later and Viana was appointed to the position.
He was asked if there was any problem coaching girls’ soccer after being around the boys’ game for so long.
“I don’t look at it any differently,” Viana said. “The girls are athletes as well, first and foremost. Like any other good athlete, you know that if you’re going to play soccer in Harrison, you know what you need to do. You have to have the kind of program that commands respect. There’s nothing better than getting the chance to work in my hometown. It’s a place I have an affinity for and I’m getting a chance to give something back.”
In recent years, Viana had been coaching travel soccer teams in Millburn while starting his business. But now, it’s all about coming home.
Viana said that he learned most about coaching soccer from the current Harrison coaching staff, namely the Rusek brothers, Mike and John.
“I learned so much from those guys,” Viana said. “It’s where I get my coaching from. They had success right away and I hope to have the same kind of success.”
Viana hopes that his experiences as a Harrison soccer player will go a long way as a coach.
“I think it has to help a little bit,” Viana said. “They can see me and think that he went through the same thing, that he’s from here and that he knows what it takes to do it. I’m a Harrison kid. I know that Harrison kids are a little different than anyone else. I think having that edge can only help me with the girls.”
Viana attended Fairleigh Dickinson University in Florham Park after leaving Harrison. He played soccer for two years there. He had a stint as a volunteer assistant with the boys’ soccer team at Harrison after graduating from FDU-Florham.
“It’s a great feeling to be able to come back home,” Viana said. “There’s something about spending the afternoons in September and October with Harrison soccer. It’s a little surreal that it’s all coming together for me being here.”
Viana said that he’s had a few workouts with the girls since taking over.
“It’s all been pretty positive,” Viana said. “We had a week in late June where we got together and we’ve been getting together twice a week recently. The response has been great.”
Viana said that as many as 40 girls have shown interest in playing soccer this fall.
Viana believes that he can turn things around in a hurry.
“I think they just needed to be coached properly,” Viana said. “I have to make them believe they can win. It’s a nice group to work with.”
Viana was asked what kind of team he expects to field this fall.
“It’s tough to be a defensive- minded team coming from Harrison,” Viana said. “I think it all depends on what style the team allows us to play. We’re from Harrison. We’re going to take some risks. But at the end of the day, I was a goalie, so defense is always in my mind.”
Viana said that he is eager to get practices started for real next month.
“I’m really excited to get this going,” Viana said. “We have to get this program where it should be. I’m not here to be here a year. I’m here to build a program. We’re coming in and we want to win every year. We have to believe we can win a state championship. I’m really excited to think we can do that. We have the right tools in the shed. They just need to be a little sharpened.”
Seems like someone wants to instill the Harrison winning ways in the girls’ soccer program right away – the only way Raphael Viana knows how.
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Although he had a stellar 6-0 record with a 1.14 earned run average for NJSIAA Non-Public A state finalist St. Joseph of Montvale last spring as just a freshman, Nutley resident Devin Ortiz had no idea what to expect from being invited to the Team USA national 15-andunder trials in Cary, North Carolina last month.
“I didn’t think I had a chance,” Ortiz said. “Three weeks ago, I didn’t even know where I’d be. I just figured I’d be pitching summer baseball somewhere.”
But Ortiz did receive an invite to be among the 40 teenagers to try out for the national squad. He fared well, pitching well in a handful of appearances over the three-week trial.
Last Saturday, Ortiz’s wishes came true, as he was selected among the final 15 players for the United States U-15 national team.
Ortiz is the only representative from New Jersey on the squad, which will play in the World Baseball Classic tournament in Mazatlan, Mexico, beginning next week.
The team is currently en route to play exhibition games at Chase Field, the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, before heading to Mexico for the tourney that begins in 10 days.
Ortiz liked his chances to make the team once he got to the trials in North Carolina.
“I went in there pretty confident,” Ortiz said. “From the first couple of days, I knew it was not like any other tryout I had ever been to. All 40 kids there were very good players, so I just focused on being myself and focused on pitching like I knew I could. I just had to focus on myself and not worry about everyone else.”
While Ortiz both pitched and played the field as a freshman at St. Joseph of Montvale, he was strictly a pitcher for the Team USA trials.
“Everything felt fine,” Ortiz said. “I really felt better than I did pitching my freshman year of varsity. The competition was better, because the players make more contact. After all, these are the best hitters in the country. I didn’t want to put any more pressure on myself. I just had to trust myself and trust my stuff.”
Ortiz said that he relies on a two-seam and four-seam fastball, as well as a change-up and a curve.
But over the summer, Ortiz has also developed a cut-fastball, a la Mariano Rivera, that he has had success with.
“I learned the cutter over the summer,” Ortiz said. “One of the scouts saw me at the trials and said that the pitch had so much of a natural cut, that if I knew how to control it, it would become a good pitch for me. So for the last two weeks, that’s what I’ve been working on. It’s now a pitch that I can go to and use a lot.” Ortiz said that he was a still a little shell-shocked to be selected among the top 15 players his age in the entire country.
“It’s a very big honor,” said Ortiz, who was born in Belleville and played Little League baseball there before moving to Nutley a few years ago. “I’m very excited. I can’t wait to get there. Of course, it’s a big honor to be playing in Chase Field on a big league field. It’s all great for me.”
Ortiz said that he doesn’t think he’ll face undue pressure as a high school sophomore next spring, knowing full well he was a Team USA selection this summer.
“I don’t think it’s any added pressure,” Ortiz said. “I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s a great honor. It just makes me come back and work even harder, to pitch the way I did last season and maybe even better.”
Ortiz likes having the Team USA distinction.
“I’m going there to represent my country, represent New Jersey and of course, St. Joseph’s,” Ortiz said. “I also represent Nutley as well.”
The entire process has caught Ortiz by surprise.
“In June, I actually had no clue about all of this,” Ortiz said. “My dad heard about the tryouts, so I came. I just kept working and one thing led to another. It’s really amazing. I’m just happy to be here, happy to get the chance to make new friends here and have a little fun.”
And take in the sights of Mexico as well. Not a bad way to spend a summer vacation.
Police responded to Booth Park on July 24, at 4:59 p.m., after getting a call about a female who was screaming and running frantically in the park. The caller told police the female had possibly been attacked by bees.
Upon arrival, officers found the female sitting in her vehicle, conscious and alert. She told them she was walking her dog in the park when, suddenly, they were swarmed by bees.
Police said officers spotted a nest, at knee level from the ground in a nearby bush, with a piece of the nest broken off and on the ground.
After marking off the area with caution tape, police alerted the Parks Department about the incident and a parks crew was due to deal with the nest in the morning.
The female victim, who was examined by the Nutley Volunteer Emergency Response Service, told police she’d follow up with her personal doctor.
Other incidents logged by police during the past week included the following:
A resident of a senior citizen home was the would-be victim of an apparent attempted scam. Police said the resident got a call on their cellular phone from an unknown person who said their daughter had been kidnapped and would be killed unless her father came up with $1,500. The caller claimed to be the brother of someone who was involved in a motor vehicle accident with the resident’s daughter. Police said the resident called the daughter and learned she was fine and hadn’t been in an accident. After doing an internet search of the incoming phone number, police said they found multiple complaints logged about similar efforts to collect ransom payments for family members allegedly being held hostage. Efforts by police to reach someone through that number were unavailaing.
Someone used a paint marker to scrawl a derogatory message on the driver’s side portion of the front windshield of a vehicle parked on Oakridge Ave., police said. The incident was reported at 1:30 p.m.
At 3:15 p.m., a Wayne Place resident reported that someone had slashed flat the rear passenger side tire of their vehicle and left scratch marks on the vehicle’s rear panel.
At 6:57 p.m., a Washington Ave. business reported getting stuck with bad checks. The credit manager told police a customer who bought a vehicle gave two checks for $2,000 and $5,000 as a deposit that didn’t clear. After calling to verify the buyer’s place of employment, the manager was told the buyer isn’t currently working there. The buyer, who applied for a loan, has possession of the vehicle which is valued at $19,532. Police said the credit manager asked the buyer to return the vehicle or to make good on the $2,500 deposit. Police said they left a phone message for the buyer, who, they learned through the state Motor Vehicle Commission, has a suspended driver’s license. Police advised the credit manager to send a certified letter to the buyer to forward the money. The case is still open, police said.
At 8:45 a.m., police responded to a Nutley Ave. location on a call about a neighbors’ dispute. A resident griped that their backyard neighbor has been banging on their fence at all hours of the day and night and on this date, made the noise at 1 and 3 a.m. and again, just before officers arrived. The resident said the neighbor also harasses them with verbal tirades outside. Police cautioned the neighbor to cease the annoying behavior.
At 8:38 p.m., police responded to a Washington Ave. gas station where the attendant told them that after they’d pumped $38 worth of gas into a newer model Honda Civic with no plates, closed the gas cap and walked to the driver’s side window to collect the money, the driver took off, last seen heading south on Washington. The driver was described as a white female, possibly in her 20s, with shoulder-length hair. Police planned to review surveillance tape with the attendant to try and come up with an ID of the driver.
– Ron Leir
Josephine Helene Aleniewski
Josephine Helene “Josie” Aleniewski, 88, of Rumson, formerly of Harrison, died peacefully on Tuesday, July 22, due to dysphagia complications from a neurological condition known as PSP (an atypical Parkinsonism syndrome).
Born in Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Newark, she attended Harrison High School, graduating with honors. She worked as an R.N. for 40 years, receiving her nursing degree in 1949 from St. Michael’s Hospital, Newark, where she was trained by the nuns and later worked as an OR nurse in the hospital as well as a private duty nurse.
A longtime resident of Harrison, she served as a Board of Health nurse and as school nurse in Holy Cross School. She was also a member of the St. Michael’s Nurses’ Alumni Association.
She loved learning and continued her studies at Marymount College in Manhattan and encouraged others to get their education. Josie was a passionate reader and frequented the Harrison Public Library. She also enjoyed travel abroad with friends and family to various destinations such as Yugoslavia, England, Italy, Switzerland, Greece and Poland.
She loved New York for both fashion and culture. She would march up and down Fifth Avenue to “study” the windows and even attended FIT one summer. Most of all she enjoyed the opera, ballet and classical music at Lincoln Center and sharing these experiences with her nieces and nephews. Proud of her Polish heritage, she served many years as secretary of the Pro-Arte League of the Kosciuszko Foundation of which her parents were founding members.
Josie was predeceased by her parents George and Wladyslawa Aleniewski, her sisters Dr. Monica Aleniewski, Jane Leppard and baby sister Helen Teresa.
A beloved sister and aunt, after retiring she moved to Rumson to be near her surviving sister Victoria Mazurczyk Aleniewski. She is also survived by her nieces and nephews: Monika Mazurczyk and husband Joseph Garipoli of West Long Branch, Thaddeus Mazurczyk and wife Stacy of Littleton, Col., Victoria Carlin and husband Benjamin of Bedford, N.Y., and Suzanne Mazurczyk of Wall; Lauren and husband Bob (“Karl”) Cottone of Hightstown, John and wife Marybeth of Lawrenceville, Dr. Stephanie Friedfeld and husband Dr. Dale Schrum of Jacksonville, Fla., Robert Friedfeld and wife Sue of Nacogdoches, Texas, and Eric Friedfeld and wife Maggie of Warwick, R.I.; Maureen Schroeder and husband Harvey of Spring Lake, George Leppard and wife Cathy of Brielle, Dr. John Leppard and wife Joanne of Huntington, N.Y.
The funeral was conducted from the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison, on July 26. A Mass of Christian burial was offered at Our Lady of Czestochowa Roman Catholic Church, Harrison, on July 26, followed by interment in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington. A memorial service will be held at Holy Cross Church, Ward Ave., Rumson, on a future date to be announced. For information or directions, please visit www.mulliganfuneralhome.org.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Foundation for PSP, also known as PSP.org, or Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, Harrison, Kosciuszko Foundation, New York, Piast Institute, Hamtramck, Mich., St. Michael’s Nurses Alumni Association or Marymount Manhattan College, N.Y.
Thermon Francis Brooks
Thermon Francis Brooks of Kearny died on July 24 at the West Hudson/Alaris Continuing Care Center in Kearny. He was 85.
Arrangements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held from the funeral home, followed by entombment in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.
Born in Newark, Mr. Brooks was the son of Milton and Bridget ( nee Garside) Brooks. A resident of Kearny since his marriage in 1951, Mr. Brooks attended the Newark public schools and served honorably in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He pursued a career with the U.S. Postal Service for most of his life.
Mr. Brooks was a member for over 60 years of the Frobisher Post No. 99 American Legion and the V.F.W. Post 1302, both of Kearny, as well as a member of the Disabled American Veterans and the Korean War Veterans. He enjoyed fishing and was a lifelong honorary member of the Schuyler Tuna Fishing Club.
Surviving are his sons, Clifford J., Kevin M., Christopher J., and Martin G.; his daughters Leslie Oxenham, Pamela Brooks, Lisa Fitzmaurice, and Cynthia Orr; and 13 grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Korean War Veterans Association, P.O. Box 407, Charleston, Ill. 61920-0407.
William J. Burke
William “Bill” J. Burke, 64, of Nutley, formerly of Kearny, died on July 22.
Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held from the funeral home, followed by interment in Holy Cross Cemetery.
Mr. Burke was a lab technician with Anheuser-Busch, Newark, for five years.
He was the father of Billy Burke Jr. (Tracey), Laura Burke and Dana Sblendorio; brother of Kathy Corbo and the late Theresa Burke Palumbo and grandfather of Noah, Mackenzie, Jake, Mia and Gavin. He was the companion of Nancy Ulrich. He is also survived by three nieces.
Paul A. Hettesheimer Sr.
Paul A. Hettesheimer Sr., 84, died on July 27.
Relatives and friends may visit at the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home. 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny on Tuesday, July 29, from 4 to 8 p.m. The funeral service will be held from the funeral home on Wednesday, July 30, at 11 a.m. Interment will follow in Hillside Cemetery, Lyndhurst. Condolences and memories may be shared at www.thiele-reid.com.
Paul was born and raised in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. He later lived in Newark before moving to North Arlington 45 years ago.
He served in the U.S. Navy.
Mr. Hettesheimer was a tech specialist for W.H. Linen in Clifton for the last 20 years and was still actively employed before his passing.
He is survived by his four adoring children Elizabeth “Betty” Donigian (Stephan), Judy Gann (Dave), Paul A. Hettesheimer, Jr. (Patty) and Mark J. Hettesheimer, Sr. (June). He will be deeply missed by his 15 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren. He also leaves behind his brothers Marc and David Hettesheimer.
He was predeceased, in 2004, by his wife Theresa (Melodick) Hettesheimer to whom he was happily married to for 56 years and also his siblings Betty Hillard and Weldon and Howard Hettesheimer.
Paul was a self-made man who deeply cared and provided for his family and will be forever missed.
Dr. Judith E. Malinowski
Dr. Judith E. Malinowski entered into eternal rest on July 18 in Bloomfield, after a long and valiant battle against cancer.
Arrangements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A celebration of Judith’s life was held at the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington, 663 Kearny Ave., Kearny, on July 26, followed by a private cremation.
Condolences and memories may be shared at www.thiele-reid.com.
Born in Kearny, she was the only daughter of the late Edward and Emily (nee Makofsky) Malinowski. She resided most of her life in Harrison.
Dr. Malinowski received her doctorate in health sciences leadership at Seton Hall University and a master’s degree in educational communications/ instructional design at New York University. Her passion and commitment to education was evident as she fulfilled many roles in the educational field. She served as director of education, special projects, at St. Michael’s Medical Center, Department of Medical Education, and as director of education for Seton Hall University. In her earlier years at St. Michael’s Medical Center, she served as director, School of Radiology. She was a former instructor at Passaic County Community College and Bergen Community College. She served on the Harrison Board of Health and the New Jersey Local Boards of Health. She was a member of the Board of Governors, Northeast Osteopathic Medical Education Network and various educational review boards.
Judith was an avid traveler and wine connoisseur. She traveled extensively, visiting Hawaii, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Scotland, France, England, Canada, and various places of interest in the continental United States, to name a few of her destinations. She often hosted and attended winetasting events sharing and enjoying that “perfect” glass of wine with friends and acquaintances. She enjoyed Scottish dancing and kicked up her heels at many ethnic events.
Judith is survived by a brother, Robert, and his wife, Carolyn; an aunt, Gail Makofsky; cousins, Lorraine; Joseph and Stanley Kloska; Bonnie Makofsky (Les); and Michael Makofsky (Mona).
A faithful and true friend to the very end, Judith will be cherished and greatly missed by her loving family at St. Michael’s Medical Center, and her lifelong friends, Marilyn, Ellen, Robert, and her beloved minister, the Rev. Elaine Connolly, of the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington.
Appreciation is extended to the staff at St. Michael’s Medical Center, Newark, and the Job Haines Home in Bloomfield, for the excellent care and compassion extended to Dr. Malinowski.
Mr. Tadeusz Naprawa (Ted) died on Tuesday, July 22, at home. He was 87.
The funeral Mass is on Thursday, July 31, at Our Lady of Czestochowa Church in Harrison at 10 a.m., followed by interment in Holy Cross Cemetery. Relatives and friends may visit in the Condon Funeral Home, 684 Kearny Ave., Kearny (condonfuneralhome.com) on Wednesday, July 30, from 5 to 9 p.m.
Mr. Naprawa had been a machinist for Newark Die Co. in Springfield for many years until retiring in 1988. He had served in the British Army Polish Brigade under Gen. Anders during World War II.
He was a member of the board of directors and the bar manager at the Polish National Home in Harrison. He had also served as the president of the Polish American Citizens Club in Kearny where he was also a member.
Ted was predeceased by his wife, Adela (nee Pastula) and is survived by his son Richard Naprawa and his wife, Barbara and his daughter, Izabela Naprawa. Also surviving are his grandchildren Alex and Elizabeth Naprawa.
Eleanor Coan Steel
Eleanor Coan Steel, born Aug. 7, 1951, died on July 1 at home in Toms River surrounded by her family.
Eleanor was born in Queens, N.Y., and grew up in the Kearny area, where she also raised her four children. She was a nurse at West Hudson Hospital and volunteered for the Holiday City Berkeley EMT squad after moving to Toms River.
She is survived by her four children Kimberly Kane, Tara Kazenmayer, Kristen Pela and Brian Yudichak; her 11 grandchildren and her great-grandson. She is also survived by her brother James Coan and her lifelong friend Susan Mc- Cluskey.
Funeral arrangements were by Quinn Hopping Funeral Home, Toms River. Condolences may be sent to www.quinnhoppingfh.com.
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 white tank top, black/white basketball shorts, white socks, black sandals and black backpack entered the 7-Eleven July 20 at 6:37 p.m. The suspect purchased a Green Dot MoneyPak for $350, giving the counter person four, $100 bills that were counterfeit.
If you have seen or are able to identify the individual pictured in the photo, contact the North Arlington Police Department at 201-991-4400.
All calls will be kept confidential.
W.H.A.T. presents ‘The Addams Family’ July 30-Aug. 2, including preview tonight at Angry Coffee Bean
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 comedy brings the darkly delirious world of Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Grandma, Wednesday, Pugsley and, of course, Lurch to spooky and spectacular life.
Performances of the musical, based on the bizarre and beloved family of characters created by legendary cartoonist Charles Addams, are July 30 to Aug. 2 at 7:30 p.m., and a matinee performance Aug. 2 at 1:30 p.m. at the W.H.A.T. Theater, 131 Midland Ave., Kearny (the former St. Stephen’s School). General admission tickets are $10. A $7 senior citizen discount ticket is being offered at the Saturday matinee.
The cast will make a special appearance on Thursday, July 24 at 7 p.m. for a special preview of the show at The Angry Coffee Bean Café, 89 Ridge Road, North Arlington. (201) 772-5554.
The Teen Drama production features:
Dennis Oliveira (Gomez Addams), Maggie Spector-Williams (Morticia Addams), Faith D’Isa & Rachel Spillane (Wednesday Addams), Abigail Stokes (Pugsley Addams), John McCullough (Fester Addams), Joana Marmelo (Grandma Addams),James Berko (Lurch), Michael Oliveira (Lucas Beikeke), Samantha Armenteros (Alice Beineke), Tyler Bremner (Mal Beineke), Briana Dickinson, Alyssa Fink, Jillian Fitzpatrick, Lauren Gold, Melanie Hill, Stefanie Pancaro, Spencer Roda, Valentine Rojas, Alyssa Schirm and Julia Truskolawski (Addams Family Ancestors).
“The Addams Family” is being produced by Michele Sarnoski, who is co-directing with Joe Ferriero. Scott Burzynski, music director; Dana Mannie, choreography (Mary Berko, assistant choreography); Maximo Grano De Oro, crew chief; Matt Lepore, stage manager; and Vincent Venziano and Alex Palomino, stage crew.
Tickets for The Addams Family are $10 and can be purchased online at www.teendrama.org, by phone 1-800-838-3006 or at the door 30 minutes before performances. Teen Drama can be reached at 973-498-8336 or email@example.com.
Check next week’s issue of The Observer for a full preview of the upcoming shows in our Entertainment section.