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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. […]


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 […]


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. […]


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 […]


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., […]


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 »

News from the Nutley police blotter


June 5 

A customer tried to pass a counterfeit $10 bill to pay a tab at a local establishment, which wasn’t named by police. The bill was forwarded to the Secret Service for review and further investigation.

June 6 

A Kingsland Ave. resident’s Honda was scratched along the side of the vehicle while it was parked in the resident’s driveway.

June 7

A Montclair Ave. resident told police they were being harassed by a phone scammer. The caller wanted the resident to wire funds via Western Union for a Mega Millions winning but the resident refused, only to receive more than 10 repeated calls. Police reminded residents to never transfer or wire money to anyone without proper authenticity.

A Gless Ave. resident reported that a group of juveniles rolled a car tire down a hill, crashing into, and damaging, their Toyota.

Police recovered a broken No Turn on Red sign at Chestnut St. and Hillside Ave.

June 8

An intruder reportedly tried to steal a Myrtle Ave. resident’s dog. The resident told police they saw a man described as African-American, wearing a black shirt and blue jeans, in her backyard holding her dog’s chain. Police said the man fled north on Myrtle and couldn’t be located.

Police are investigating five separate auto burglaries that happened overnight and early morning on Hay Ave. Items ranging from GPS systems to personal items including keys were reported taken from the unlocked vehicles.

Police responded to a Centre St. establishment on a report of a fight. Police said one patron reportedly threatened another with a utensil knife but dropped the knife after exchanging words with the other patron.

June 9 

At 9:15 a.m., an officer separated two enraged motorists at Passaic Ave. and Centre St. and managed to calm them.

A Lafayette Ave. resident told police that someone claiming to be an IRS agent called their home to say that a warrant had been issued for their arrest regarding 2002-2013 taxes and that they were ordered to pay more than $2,000 via a voucher. Police determined the caller to be a scammer and noted that several residents have reported phone and internet scam attempts.

At a Lynn Road location, police arrested John Adkins, 27, of Union, who was wanted on various outstanding warrants from several communities. He was turned over to Roselle Park pending his posting the remaining $5,000 bail to other jurisdictions before being released.

June 10

Police recovered a Chevrolet, reported stolen from Lyndhurst several days previously, abandoned on Villa Place. The car’s back window was smashed out. Lyndhurst PD is investigating.

June 11 

A Hancox Ave. resident called police to report a man was banging on their door and subsequently ran south on Union Ave. The man was described as white,, wearing a blue baseball cap, a fluorescent yellow T-shirt with blue stripes on the sleeves and white khaki pants.

Police are investigating a theft of services and fraud reported by a Franklin Ave. eatery. A restaurant representative told police a River Road resident ordered a large delivery and paid with a stolen credit card.

A Centre St. resident reported their home burglarized, with jewelry and other items taken. The intruder apparently gained entry through a lower floor window, police said.

A Bloomfield Ave. resident called police to report seeing two individuals walking around a neighbor’s house in the 500 block. Both were described as white males, possibly driving a black BMW.

Police responded to Nutley High School on a report that one female student made threats against another. Police turned the matter over to school officials.

June 12 

Police are investigating a residential burglary of a Passaic Ave. apartment resulting in the removal of an undetermined amount of jewelry and cash.

– Ron Leir 

A Memorial Tribute: Local musician Jeff Humphrey dies way too young at age 43


Kearny native loved sharing music with others

By Kevin Canessa Jr.
Observer Correspondent

Jeff Humphrey loved music. He loved it so much that all he ever wanted to do was share his love for music with everyone he knew.

Humphrey, a longtime Kearny resident, died Monday, June 9, in a crash along the New Jersey Turnpike in Carlstadt.

He was only 43.

Humphrey had an incredible love for rock ‘n’ roll at a very young age. When we first met in 1985, there were countless times when I’d come to his house to visit my friend and his brother, current Kearny Library Director Josh Humphrey, when he tried, unsuccessfully, to get me to listen to Led Zeppelin. Read more »

SMMC affiliates with leading N.Y. medical college



St. Michael’s Medical Center (SMMC), Newark, and New York Medical College (NYMC), Valhalla, N.Y., have announced an academic affiliation designating SMMC as a teaching site for NYMC’s medical education program.

Officials said the affiliation provides SMMC with worldclass academic resources and additional medical expertise to support clinical programs and assist in the recruitment of physicians. NYMC, in turn, will have access to a clinical venue in Essex County, expanding the residency options for its students, as well as access to a large group of experienced physicians in a spectrum of specialties.

“This is an exciting time for St. Michael’s Medical Center,” said David A. Ricci, president and CEO, SMMC. “We are proud to collaborate with New York Medical College in an academic affiliation that will continue our long-standing tradition as an academic institution, and enable us to enhance and expand our medical education program, including the addition of an undergraduate program.”

The new agreement sets forth SMMC’s participation in NYMC’s programs of undergraduate and graduate medical education, defines its responsibilities as a site for clinical rotations by medical students and describes how it will support various research activities.

“This partnership, based upon shared values, will benefit patients, promote a pipeline of new doctors and other health care providers to serve Newark and the surrounding cities and contribute to the generation of new knowledge about the causes, prevention and treatment of human disease and disability,” said Dr. Edward C. Halperin, chancellor and chief executive officer, NYMC.

“Our new partnership with New York Medical College will fill a vital need for educational experiences and physician training, and will provide many opportunities regarding collaborative research projects,” added Ricci. “We look forward to growing our academic program for students in the greater New York/New Jersey area.”

Frank’s GMC: 84 years selling vehicles


By Kevin Canessa Jr.

Observer Correspondent 

Frank Pezzolla Sr. probably never thought that when he opened his business around 1930 with just a handful of employees, that decades later, what was once a mechanic’s garage would turn into one of the most successful GMC dealerships in America with in excess of 100 employees.

But that’s precisely what has happened — and now, some 84 years later — the Lyndhurst-based business continues to thrive, and people from all over the area have chosen Frank’s GMC as their dealership of choice when the time comes for a new vehicle.

For the first seven years of operation, Frank’s was just a garage. But everything changed when in 1937, Pezzolla was granted a GMC franchise. As the business grew, so did the need for space — and in 1978, the Pezzolla family moved the dealership from its original Ridge Road location to where it’s been ever since — on Orient Way.

But what separates Frank’s from many other GMC dealers is that Frank’s has a strong focus on trucks. You’ll notice that the moment you arrive at the showroom.

And while much has changed over the years, there are a few constants that very few businesses can claim: It’s still owned by the Pezzolla family and their commitment to customers is unparalleled.

General Manager Frank “Frankie” Pezzolla has been part of the family business for more than four decades. He started working there while he was in high school, sweeping floors and stocking parts. And now, as the general manager, he oversees a business that has thrived despite GM’s tough economic times that hit several years ago when the entire auto industry nearly collapsed.

“I’ve been in sales, at least part-time, since 1978,” Pezzolla said. “Back then I went to my uncle (current Observer General Manager) Bobby (Pezzolla) and told him I wanted to sell. And over that time, I’d like to think we’ve done it right. While much of the rest of the industry suffered, we were still doing well.”

Indeed they were. And still are.

But how did they do it? 

It’s pretty simple, Pezzolla said.

“We treat everyone like family,” he said. “When you do that, you succeed. I’ve got a lot of employees who have been here with me for 40 years or more, including one of my sales managers, Chris (Koumoulis). I couldn’t do this without him or the rest of my family.”

There are quite a few other Pezzollas still working at Frank’s, including Frankie’s dad Frank Pezzolla Jr., the company’s president; and Frankie’s brothers Michael, who is in charge of the parts department, and Joseph, the service manager.

“And my dad is still involved almost every day,” Pezzolla said. “He’s comes in almost every day and still has a very active role in what we do here.”

More than what you see 

If you’ve ever driven along Orient Way, and have seen Frank’s, chances are you’ve noticed the inventory of personal trucks and vehicles sitting out front or inside the newly remodeled showroom. But what you don’t readily see are the commercial trucks Frank’s also sells that are out back and away from the public eye.

“So in essence, we have two businesses — the vehicles people see, and a commercial side,” Pezzolla said. “People don’t see all the big trucks, like the ones you see going in and out of New York City. But we absolutely have a freight line. We sell Hinos and Isuzu trucks — and that’s known as Frank’s Truck Center.”

Pezzolla says the commercial end of the business played a huge role in the company staying afloat during the economic downturn.

“It kept us going,” he said. “They were really our bread and butter. And what is great is that often, the people who come in to buy our commercial trucks often buy from us for their personal vehicle needs. Everyone needs a personal vehicle, right? Sometimes, we see five GMCs sitting in their driveways — and we love that.”

Pezzolla credits his father, his brothers and his uncle Bobby for really giving him the impetus for success at Frank’s. And he hopes it continues for many years down the line.

“Bobby was probably the best salesman I’ve ever seen, and he taught me so much,” Pezzolla said. “And dad taught me so much too. We’ve been very fortunate. And I know I am grateful.”

Frank’s GMC and Frank’s Truck Center is located at 325 Orient Way, Lyndhurst. For additional information, call 201- 806-1466 for sales, 201-806-1464 for service or visit them online at www.FranksGMC.net.

Showroom hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Thursday; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays. Frank’s is closed on Sundays. Service hours are 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Thursday; and 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays. Parts are open 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Thursday; 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays; and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturdays.

For more information about Frank’s Truck Center, call 877-469-6304.