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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 […]


Nutley PD: Camaro owner says ‘white substance’ splattered all over car


May 17

The owner of a Camaro called police at 1:45 p.m. to report that a white substance had been splattered all over their Camaro while it was parked at a Hillside Ave. location.

May 18

A Belleville man landed in trouble in the wake of police responding to a 12:28 a.m. call about a disturbance at a Summit Way location. Police said they arrested Justin Alberto, 21, after learning he had an active warrant from Jersey City. Alberto was released after posting bail.

At 3:29 p.m., police responded to a Harrison St. location on a report of a lewd act. Police said a man described as white, in his mid- to late-20s, with dark hair, clean-shaven, possibly wearing a grey T-shirt and driving a newer model boxy-shaped black Jeep with a New Jersey license plate, was seen “gratifying himself while exposing himself” to someone. Police searched the area to no avail. Read more »

ALERT: Schuyler Avenue closed southbound at Park Avenue in NA for gas leak



Schuyler Avenue is closed southbound at Park Avenue in North Arlington because of a gas leak, North Arlington police said in an email alert.

PSE&G crews are on scene, working to fix the issue, police said.

The closure will remain in effect until further notice.

We’ll update this story as soon as more information becomes available.

The intersection of Schuyler and Park avenues in North Arlington.

The intersection of Schuyler and Park avenues in North Arlington.

Will state help cure deficit?


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 


The state Department of Education has assigned a monitor to oversee the Belleville Board of Education’s fiscal operations.

Thomas Egan, a former IRS employee who has worked the last 18 years as a school business administrator in Bergenfield and Garfield, will have oversight power over all spending and hiring in the Belleville school district.

Egan, who has also been monitoring the Elmwood Park school district since January 2013, arrived in Belleville May 13 and was introduced to the school board members at their May 14 meeting. Read more »

Talk about a real ‘con’ game


By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent 

In our April 4 edition, The Observer warned readers of a new phone scam that was targeting Bergen County residents, but was expected to spread.

We reported that unsuspecting targets were receiving phone calls from individuals purporting to be sheriff’s officers who demanded immediate payment of a fine because the call recipient has ostensibly failed to report for jury duty.

Last week, the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) announced it had arrested two suspects. One is a Georgia corrections officer, one is an inmate in Georgia, and the scam was being run out of a prison in that state.

As they say, you can’t make this stuff up. Read more »

They’re on call to help seniors


By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent


“Do you need anything?” “How can we help?” Or maybe just, “How are you?”

The questions are simple. But to someone who has little human contact, they mean the world. And, unfortunately, as the population ages — and lives longer — more and more Americans are finding themselves alone and feeling lost.

In this town, there is a concerted effort to reach out to senior citizens, not only through the usual clubs and other activities designed for them, but also through personal phone calls. At least twice a month.

It’s communication that was heretofore lacking for some. But it is so much more. The call recipient is reminded that he or she is not completely alone. Read more »

Season ‘opener’ for garden crew


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 


If you grow it, they will come.

That’s how the managers of the Kearny Community Garden see it as they plant the seeds for the garden’s second season in Riverbank Park on the river side of Passaic Ave., just north of Skinner Bros. Automotive.

And it seems to be true, judging from the turnout at the official opening of the season May 10, as many of the approximately 50 individuals, families and/or community groups (like the Cub Scouts) who registered as urban “farmers” turned out to plant their “crops.”

Last year, a group of about 10 volunteers, led by residents David and Jenny Mach and Erin Donnelly, got the garden going – with the town’s blessing to use the park – and were joined by another 10 folks down the road but, since then, interest has grown by leaps and bounds. Read more »

Seek voters’ opinion on school shift


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 


Borough residents will be asked to pay extra attention when they enter the voting booth for the Nov. 4 general election.

Not only are they being asked to choose two members of the Borough Council (although the outcome will likely be decided in next month’s Democratic Primary contest), but they’ll also see a public question about the future education of their children.

That question, as it will appear on the ballot, is this: “Should East Newark high school students be sent to Kearny High School instead of Harrison High School?”

For more than a century, graduates of East Newark’s single public school – which accommodates preschool to grade 8 – have been admitted to freshman classes (and beyond) at Harrison High School but because of rising tuition fees, the East Newark Board of Education – with strong backing from Mayor Joseph Smith, who chairs the local Board of School Estimate – is actively pursuing an alternative. Read more »

Nabbed in 72G I.D. theft


By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent 


Thanks to diligent police work, “a very involved” case of identity theft, dating back to December, has been solved and the suspect is now behind bars.

The accused, Donnell Prime, 37, of Union, was taken into custody by Kearny officers last week and was remanded to the Hudson County Jail.

The victim was a local businessman whose bank account had been depleted by roughly $72,000, police said.

Police Chief John Dowie said the theft was first reported Dec. 18 when the victim was alerted to charges being made against the account. Officer Tom Bannon responded to the man’s place of business on Garfield Ave. and was informed that the victim had ruled out the possibility of internal theft, Dowie said. Bannon collected information and passed it on to Det. Ray Lopez for investigation. The detective obtained documentation and “painstakingly itemized the various transactions, which were many,” Dowie said. Read more »

Thoughts & Views: The world according to Hagel

In an interview with Charlie Rose aired last week on PBS, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was explaining the facts of global life, as filtered through the eyes of a Vietnam combat veteran.

Hagel, who claimed he was representing the views of the Commander in Chief, President Obama, said that Congress needed to ante up defense spending if it wanted to keep the American military capability in cyber warfare technology up to par with the world’s other superpowers and to beat down the forces of terrorism.

He reminded Rose that the U.S. has a military “presence” in 100 countries where, he said, we are helpmates to allies who want our help.

Hagel didn’t use the word “treason” but he came pretty close when he warned that Congress better do its utmost to avoid succumbing to the pitfalls of sequestration and accompanying budget cuts. (And it appears that Congress – facing mid-term elections – is listening, given the House’s willingness to hand the Pentagon $600 billion – more than it asked for – despite the brass’s offer to close some bases, shed the U-2 spy plane and other weapons. (Obama is seeking Congressional approval for a $3.7 trillion total national budget for 2014.) Read more »



To the Editor: As was recently reported in The Observer, a pedestrian was struck and killed at the intersection of Passaic Ave. and Belleville Turnpike in North Arlington. Earlier this morning (Saturday, May 16), I witnessed a second near-miss accident involving a pedestrian at this same location.

A group representing a North Arlington sports league was panhandling at the intersection. The intersection was extremely congested, and a young girl darted between traffic to donate to one of the individuals collecting. This girl was nearly hit by a car. Traffic at this intersection is bad enough on weekends; I am not sure why the municipality allows these panhandlers during these weekend periods, which only exacerbate the traffic conditions and in consideration of the recent fatality.

I call on the Borough of North Arlington to prohibit the practice of street collections at this location.

Dan McNamara 



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