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Farewell to a brother in blue

On Friday afternoon, regular traffic came to a halt on the Belleville Pike and Ridge Road to open the route for the funeral procession of slain Jersey City Police Detective Melvin Santiago. The 23-year-old rookie, promoted posthumously to detective, had been ambushed early Sunday, July 13, when he […]

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State eyes raising part of Pike

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent  KEARNY – The Rt. 7/Belleville Turnpike corridor which runs through Kearny’s meadows area and beyond is getting a lot of attention these days from state and federal transit agencies. For the past couple of years, contractors hired by the state Department of Transportation have […]

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Taxes up on average by $244

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  Now that Trenton – even without a gubernatorial endorsement by the town’s Democratic mayor – has gifted Kearny $2.5 million in transitional aid and reduced its pension obligations by nearly $435,000, Kearny property owners can know what to expect. They’re still getting […]

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Wild pursuit ends with 3 arrests

LYNDHURST – It started as an alleged speeding incident and led to a frantic chase that ended in three arrests. Here’s the account given by Lyndhurst Police: Shortly after 2 p.m. on July 14, Patrol Officer James Goral pulled over a 2008 BMW traveling east on Page […]

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Builder targets eyesore

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent  NUTLEY –  A 36-unit residential development being pitched to the Nutley Zoning Board of Adjustment has township and school officials on the edge of their seats wondering how many schoolage kids the project may generate if approved. Mayor Alphonse Petracco is blunt about it. […]

 
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A WORD WITH THE PUBLISHER: Memories of Easter past

publisher@theobserver.com

 

This Sunday, we will gather with our family and friends to celebrate the holiday of Easter.

When I was growing up Easter wasn’t just about chocolate rabbits and colored eggs. First and foremost, it was about family.

We would go to St. Michael’s Church in Passaic with “Grams” and “Gramps” to have our basket of food blessed. Sunday morning breakfast was actually a real event! 0ur house featured the heady aroma of baked breads and other goodies. In our Easter baskets were coloring books, crayons, and jellybeans. Over the years, my family has become smaller but I am forever thankful for those wonderful memories of Easters past. They were some of the best experiences of my life.

We at The Observer wish you and yours a very happy Easter!

Let justice rule the day for Trayvon Martin

The cause of the Trayvon Martin shooting appears fairly obvious. That is if one and ignores the propaganda coming out of such ignorance- inducing machines as Fox News and MSNBC. Before these cable “news” networks shanghaied the story and chimed in with their endless “concern” (i.e. an opportunity to bend facts to meet party lines) we had a rather cut-and-dry situation that didn’t require an Einstein to figure out.

The facts are clear. Self-appointed vigilante George Zimmerman took it upon himself to become Trayvon Martin’s judge, jury, and in the end, executioner, because he believed that the young man looked “suspicious.” Of course, Zimmerman believes that a great many people look suspicious – a fact ominously evidenced by his nearly 50 phone calls to the police in 2012.

Trayvon was talking on the phone to his girlfriend when he caught the inaccurate eye of this great protector of mankind. This is a valuable bit of evidence since it clearly shows that Trayvon was being stalked, not vice versa, as he was making his way back to his dad’s apartment after a junk food run. It’s also interesting to note that Zimmerman was talking to a police dispatcher during the incident, a person who emphatically told Zimmerman, “We don’t need you to do that,” after he confirmed that he was indeed following the “suspicious-looking” man.

At some point, Zimmerman caught up with Trayvon and some sort of altercation ensued. Now please lean in close. I want the following to jolt your brain waves into full function because certain players in the media are corrupting this into a point of contention. If I were being pursued by an unknown man at night, a hulking form that outweighed me by a full 100 pounds, and he finally cornered me, there’s no telling what I might do to extricate myself from the potentially deadly situation. Whether it be kicking, eye-gouging, testicle mangling, etc., I would do anything and everything in my power to get the bastard off me. I imagine you would do the same. In a “stand your ground” state like Florida, I would not only have this implicit right to defend myself, it would almost be incumbent upon me to take such pre-emptive action to save myself.

Nevertheless, certain factions have now twisted this easy-to-understand response into something that it clearly is not – an indictment of Trayvon and a justification for Zimmerman’s itchy trigger-finger. Bottom line: If Zimmerman hadn’t pursued Trayvon that evening, I wouldn’t be writing this now. It’s an inescapable fact that the punditry can’t dismiss.

Just as bad as Zimmerman’s actions that evening was the abominable misapplication of justice that came after the slaughter. To say that the Sanford, Fla.Police didn’t have probable cause to arrest Zimmerman is asinine in the purest sense of that word.

What more did they need? They knew via fresh police phone records that Zimmerman had stalked the man prior to pulling the trigger. They also knew that Zimmerman was packing “heat” when all that Trayvon was packing was a pack of Skittles. And they were mindful of Zimmerman’s long history of phone calls to them; — reports that made the selfappointed block-watcher look like a wannabe cop at best and seriously paranoid at worst.

So, with all of this evidence at their disposal, did these Keystone Cops arrest Zimmerman? No. Did they drug test him? No. But for some unfathomable reason, they felt it imperative to drug test Trayvon; the young man now lying dead on a slab courtesy of Zimmerman’s pistol. At least not all were blind that night. One Sanford cop went on record saying that he believed Zimmerman should have been held on a manslaughter charge. But his was the lone voice in the wilderness.

Bottom line? Justice will only be served after Zimmerman is arrested and the due process of law is allowed to take effect. The case is no longer in the hands of the Sanford Police Department, so there’s a fair chance that an inherent wrong will be rectified. Only time will tell. For Trayvon’s family, I pray that it comes to pass.

-Jeff Bahr

Police and Fire to get better radios

Photo by Ron Leir/ Capt. Victor Mesce displays Motorola test radio.

 

By Ron Leir 

BELLEVILLE –

Dead zones.

For public safety employees, these are pitfalls to be avoided because it’s essential to keep the lines of communication open at all times.

Unfortunately, that’s not always possible when there are barriers to transmission signals, as township police and firefighters have discovered when attempting to talk via radio from the basement of Clara Maass Medical Center or the Middle School subbasement.

But the Belleville Police Department is taking steps to ensure constant and clear communication with help from the New Jersey Dept. of Homeland Security and Essex County.

Police Capt. Victor Mesce, the department’s training officer, said the time has come to replace the hand-held Motorola HT1000 radio units that Belleville police officers have used since 1994.

“We can’t get parts for these radios anymore because of their age,” Mesce said. “Our radios are obsolete.”

Plus, in addition to the dead zones, there’s another issue that’s driving the replacement of the existing units, Mesce said. The current communications system relies on phone lines to carry signals through several antenna relays or, in communications jargon, “repeaters,” so “if the phone lines go down, we’re done,” he said.

Because other municipal Police and Fire Departments around the state are struggling with similar predicaments – and because of the communication snafus that plagued New York’s police, fire and emergency workers during the 9/11 catastrophe – Mesce said that N.J. Homeland Security is pushing municipal public safety units to upgrade their systems.

At the same time, the Federal Communications Commission is implementing a nationwide mandate to reserve certain radio frequencies in the 700 megahertz band for government first responders to prevent interference from commercial users, effective Jan. 1, 2013.

“The future is going to be digital signals, transmitted via microwave relays,” Mesce said. “Under the PSIC (Public Safety Interoperable Communications) system that Homeland Security wants us – along with every other police and fire department in the state – to use, the state will maintain the infrastructure. There will be no phone lines but there will be minimal (telecommunications) maintenance fee.”

Belleville, which, according to Mesce, “is going to be one of the first to tie in” to the PSIC, is getting a $100,000 grant from Essex County to purchase, under state contract, as many of the new hand-held Motorola 6000 radios as possible.

“We want to assign each of our 100 officers their own individual (battery-operated) radios,” Mesce said. “We feel, this way, our officers will want to take better care of them.”

Motorola loaned the department some test radios and Mesce said they’ve worked well. “We did tests throughout the town, including from the basement of Clara Maass and the Middle School sub-basement, and everything came through crystal clear,” he said. Officers were also able to talk on the units to other law enforcement agents as far away as Berlin in Camden County.

Mesce said the department’s intent is to share the new equipment with the Fire Department.

Another advantage of the PSIC, as advertised by Homeland Security, is that it allows for “talk groups” between various first responder and law enforcement agencies, both locally and in the New York/Pennsylvania region, Mesce said. “We’ll be able to interface just by switching channels.”

Mesce said the new radios will also be equipped with a GPS application so that if an officer is injured or trapped at a fire scene or some other not easily accessible location, the officer can be traced through that feature.

The new radios will only be the first step in the process of modernizing the township’s public safety communications system, Mesce said. Next will come new patrol car radio units, new hardware for the police and fire communications centers and new units for the police mobile precinct; all contingent on funding availability, he added.

Developing the state-wide communications infrastructure won’t come cheap: The cost is expected to exceed $30 million, with most of that money coming from federal sources and some from the state Department of Transportation.

The Newark Police and Fire Departments have already begun to phase in the new system, as have the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, Elizabeth Fire Department, Montclair, Passaic and Fairfield, and the counties of Union, Monmouth, Somerset and Hunterdon, according to Mesce.

Meanwhile, there were these developments in other local police business:

Belleville is applying for a federal Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant to help pay salaries and benefits for up to five new officers who must be veterans. If it gets the grant, the feds would contribute $625,000 covering three years but Belleville would have to match that with about the same amount in local funds. Police Chief Joseph Rotonda said that applicants should be notified by July whether to expect any money. Last year, only three New Jersey communities were successful, he said. Right now, Rotonda said, the department’s rank-and- file strength is “15 below” the number of officers he’s permitted to hire under township ordinance. “With the 2% (budget) cap, it’s very difficult to get back to where we’d like to be,” the chief said.

Under an ordinance introduced by the mayor and Township Council on March 13, and up for public hearing April 10, any police officers and firefighters hired after April 1 would have to be a Belleville resident and would be required to continue living in the township for at least two years after his or her appointment. Also, non-residents appointed to “classified positions” would be required to become Belleville residents within one year of their appointment, except for CFO and tax collector. Rotonda said: “We like to keep our police officers in town. It works out well. They care about (the township) more.” Currently, he said, 25% of the department’s personnel live in Belleville.

Scorcher in the swamp

Photo by Anthony J. Machcinski/ Kearny Brush Fire

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

KEARNY –

In what has been an unusually busy month for the Kearny Fire Department, firefighters responded to the Kearny meadows near the 15W exit of the New Jersey Turnpike after about four acres of meadows went up in flames, sending large, black plumes of smoke into the afternoon sky.

The fire started around 4:40 p.m. on March 27, shutting down the northbound and southbound exit ramps of the 15W for over an hour.

“With everything being dry, that was definitely a contributing factor,” said Kearny Fire Chief Steven Dyl, who noted that a windy day and warm conditions favor brushfires. Dyl said that there was no official cause for the fire.

The blaze was under control in about an hour, with fire officials leaving the scene around 7:15 p.m.

Image courtesy of Google Maps/ A satelite photograph of the area where the brush fire took place. The fire destroyed nearly four acres of land near the 15W exit of the Turnpike.

 

“Usually, there is an increase (of meadow fires) during this time of the year,” Dyl explained, saying that the brush is still dry and getting access to some of these areas is hard given the marsh conditions.

Kearny firefighters had another fire to deal with a day later when at 10:55 a.m. on March 28, an office trailer located near the Hudson County Jail caught fire.

The blaze, which was a 1-alarm fire, was deemed under control by 11:28 a.m. As of the Observer’s press time, no reason had been listed as to the cause of the fire, and the trailer was awaiting inspection from the Hudson County Fire Marshall.

No injuries occurred in either fire.

Book shows swamp’s transformation

Illustrations Courtesy of Thomas Yezerski

 

 

Illustrations from Yezerski’s children’s book, “Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story”

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski 

For many adults, the transition of the Meadowlands from a landfill-laden mess to a beautiful stretch of land has been a lengthy process, one not many can fully understand to begin with.

With the help of Thomas Yezerski, children may soon be able to see this transition with their own two eyes.

“There have been some good books written for adults on this subject,” Yezerski, author and illustrator of “Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story” said. “I thought there was a great story in it for kids and it’s a great way to teach kids about ecology and how people fit in.”

Yezerski, who has illustrated 14 books and authored four of those, fell in love with the Meadowlands while he was living in Rutherford.

“One of the first things I did was take a pontoon tour the week after the 9/11 tragedy,” Yezerski explained. “It was amazing because it was so quiet on the Hackensack River and the water was so still. You could still see smoke rising from the World Trade Center. I just kind of fell in love with this peaceful place.”

The story itself follows along with the history of the Meadows, from when the Lenni Lenape lived on the land, to Dutch farmers and eventually the creation and elimination of landfills. “Little by little, the meadows became a dumping ground,” Yezerski explained. “In the late ‘60s, New Jersey decided they wanted to clean it up because it was giving the state a bad rap.”

However, like any good story, the meadowlands has started to flourish again.

“When they started cleaning it up, the river was able to clean itself, allowing plants and insects to thrive again,” Yezerski said. “Eventually, fish and birds began to come back to the area and every year, more species begin to show back up there that haven’t been in that area in nearly 50 years.”

The story of the Meadowlands comes down to an even simpler story idea.

“It’s a story about rejuvenation, about a place that was kicked around and ignored,” Yezerski explained.

“Now, people from all over the world can look to our urban wetland and see that good stuff can happen.”

However, the story is not as simple as going from bad to good, as evidenced by the amount of time it took Yezerski to complete the book.

“It took me about 10 years to complete because there was so much to learn about it,” Yezerski said.

His largest challenge, however, came when he had to compress that information.

“When you’re making a picture book, its about 800 words at the most,” Yezerski said. “It’s hard to distill all that information down.”

Yezerski, a fabulous illustrator in his own right, will have his illustrations on display at the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission in the Meadowlands Environment Center.

In 2011, “Meadowlands” was named one of the best 11 children’s non-fiction books. The New York Times, in its original review of the book, said, “Yezerski not only can write a book on how to teach children about their environmental impact – he has. ‘Meadowlands’ is tremendously informative, fun to read, and gorgeous to look at.”

Copies of “Meadowlands” are available at the Meadowlands Environment Center’s Tideland Treasures Gift Shop, which is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Flyway Gallery hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Directions are available on the NJMC website at www.njmeadowlands.gov or by calling (201)- 460-8300.

Unhappy ending for two massage businesses

Photo by Anthony J. Machcinski/ One of the two businesses visited by undercover cops.

 

They advertised one thing but apparently delivered something else, according to Lyndhurst Police.

On March 29 the Lyndhurst Police Department, assisted by undercover detectives from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, conducted two simultaneous investigations focused on two local massage parlors.

Plainclothes cops visited Tranquility Spa, 546 Valley Brook Ave., between Green and Millburn Aves., and First Massage Therapy, 603 Ridge Road, off Kingsland Ave.

At each shop, police said, undercover cops were offered sex in exchange for cash.

At Tranquility Spa, police charged Yun Choi, 48, of Palisades Park, with prostitution. Also, Rano Rakhimova, 25, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Erika Nazario, 35, of East Hanover, were charged with being unlicensed massage therapists.

And, at First Massage Therapy, police charged Fuzi Hung, 47, of Flushing, N.Y., with prostitution and issued her a summons for a violation of a township ordinance for practicing massage therapy without a license. Cops also charged Meihua Lin, 35, of Flushing, N.Y., with being an unlicensed massage therapist.

All five were released pending a court hearing on April 10.

In other developments logged this past week by Lyndhurst Police:

On the evening of March 26, police investigated the report of a motorist who said that while he was driving along Riverside Ave., someone apparently operating a battery-operated laser pointer shined a red light at his windshield, and, again, after he pulled into a gas station at Riverside and Kingsland Aves. at around 8:30 p.m.

The investigation led officers to a sixth-floor apartment at 601 Riverside Ave. occupied by Javier Cruz, 25, of Lyndhurst.

At first, police said, Cruz denied involvement in the incident but, after officers discovered marijuana in the apartment and charged him with possession of drugs, Cruz changed his story, telling officers that he’d activated the laser diode from his window but didn’t purposely aim the beam at anything but rather, did it randomly.

In addition to the drug violation, police charged Cruz with interfering with traffic and released him on summonses pending a court hearing. Police also confiscated the laser pointer.

One detective estimated that the beam probably traveled between 500 and 600 feet to reach the motorist’s vehicle.

Police said the driver wasn’t harmed but there is always the possibility of someone’s eyesight being affected or being distracted and, therefore, subject to an accident as a result of exposure to the beam.

Although laser pointers are typically used by educators and corporate executives in power point presentations, the equipment is readily available from retailers at relatively low costs and is sometimes used to harm or distract others.

In Feb. 2012 Congress passed a bill prohibiting the aiming of a laser beam at an aircraft or in the flight path of an aircraft and provides for fines of up to $11,000 or imprisonment for up to five years for anyone convicted of the offense.

On March 24, at 1:18 a.m., police stopped Krystina Bijak, 35, of Elmwood Park, after noticing that she was driving a 2004 Honda erratically on Valley Brook Ave., traveling eastbound but crossing into the westbound lane.

After she was pulled over at Ridge Road, Bijak was issued summonses for refusal to submit to a breath test and for DWI. She was released to a responsible party and her vehicle was impounded.

-Ron Leir

Woman loses her fight for right to party

On Saturday, March 24, Officer Dean Gasser was sent to the 100 block at Devon St. on a loud noise complaint. Before he could even enter, Gasser was able to hear the music from the street. When he encountered a female at the apartment, she yelled at him over the music, saying, “she has a right to listen to music at any level.”

Gasser then issued her a town ordinance violation for playing music too loudly and the music was then shut down.

Here are other items from the Kearny Police Blotter.

On Friday, March 23, Officer Mike Andrews was in the area of Kearny Ave. and Beech St. and observed a male known to him to have outstanding warrants. Andrews called into headquarters and confirmed the man still had warrants out for his arrest. Detectives Mike Gonzalez and John Plaugic, along with Officer Neil Nelson were alerted to the situation and responded as backup..

Before Andrews was able to stop the subject, the individual attempted to get into a car occupied by two individuals. In plain view, the officers saw a marijuana-like substance on the backseat. Upon sight, the officers took the individuals from the car and continued the search. The search turned up more than 50 grams of marijuana, confirming their initial thoughts. Also in the search, the officers found $800 that they believe was from previous drug transactions. A search of the persons also found a balled up paper towel with even more marijuana.

Clarence McCoy, a 41-yearold from Lodi and Elliot Morgan, a 34-year-old Patterson resident were charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, intent to distribute in a school zone, intent to distribute in a park zone, possession of over 50 grams of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia. Bail was set at $25,000 for both men with no 10% option.

Early on Saturday, March 24, Officers Tom Pontrella and Kevin Canaley were patrolling in the 2nd precinct and recieved a report of a one-car accident in the area of the Whitpenn Bridge. Finding nothing, the two officers traveled down Belleville Turnpike westbound and eventually found a vehicle that was involved in an accident. When the officers approached the vehicle, they noticed smoke from an airbag deployment still lingering in the vehicle and the driver in the vehicle, still dazed. North Arlington Ambulance and Police Department responded to the scene. During an interview with the driver, he admitted that he was the vehicle involved and claims that he was cut off by another driver. The officers could tell that the individual had been drinking and since he carried the odor of alcoholic beverage. The man, 26-year-old North Arlington resident Joseph Parker, was arrested and charged with Driving While Intoxicated and Careless Driving.

On March 25, Officer John Fabula was patrolling Gunnel Oval about 7:30 p.m. when he saw an individual in the Northeast corner that he recognized from prior encounters. The man was acting very strangely to the point of convulsion. When Fabula questioned him, the man said, “I just smoked some of that stuff that used to be legal.”

Fabula arrested the man and charged him with possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a synthetic schedule 1 controlled substance. During processing, the individual was not showing any indication that it was wearing off so out of concern, Kearny EMS checked out 20-year-old Kearny resident Tristen Sanchez. Sanchez was then transported to Clara Maass Hospitial.

On March 27, Andrews saw a group of individuals blocking the sidewalk in the 300 block of Kearny Ave. As he lit the lights on his vehicle, two of the individuals turned and rapidly walked away. Andrews stopped one of the individuals who appeared to be concealing a pill bottle. The bottle was turned over and found to not have a label on it. A further investigation of the individual found that he, 19-year-old James Hems from Bayonne, had four Ziploc bags of marijuana in the pill bottle. He was then placed under arrest for possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia.

The next day, Officers Jack Grimm and Jack Corbit observed a female at the intersection of Schuyler and Stewart Aves. The woman was sitting on the curb nodding in and out of consciousness. The officers approached her and felt that she was under the influence. A warrant check of the individual, 48-year-old Sherri Fatrik of New Hope, PA, found that she had three active warrants out for her arrest from Atlantic City, Shamong, and Bedminster. A search of Fatrik found one amphetamine tablet, one famotidine tablet, and nine hydrochloride tablets in a clear fuse container. She was taken to headquarters and charged with possession of CDS, possession of paraphernalia, and an additional $5,000 bail was set.

Later on March 28, Officers Nelson and Andrews were patrolling the area of Belgrove and Passaic Ave. and found an individual known to them to have his driving rights revoked. When they approached the vehicle, they found he was clutching two glassine folds of suspected heroine in plain view. The bags, stamped “Slow Sucks”, allowed the officers to continue a search of the vehicle which turned up five more bags of suspected heroine, stamped, “Star Ledger”. The man, 21-year-old Shane Conklin of Malta, NY, was arrested and charged with driving while revoked, possession of CDS, possession of CDS in a motor vehicle, and possession of paraphernalia.

-Anthony J. Machcinski

Around Town

Bloomfield

If your ability to read is affected by a visual impairment, a physical impairment, or a reading disability, the Bloomfield Public Library can help. You may qualify for free library services sponsored by the N.J. State Library Talking Book and Braille Center. Call the Bloomfield Library at 973-566-6200, ext. 213 and find out about applying for services such as the new Digital Audiobook Reader, Braille books, and news programming from Audiovision.

Kearny

CANstruction at Kearny High School. Kearny students help fight against hunger. All proceeds will be donated to the local food pantries and soup kitchens. Drop off donated cans to: Mid Realty, Lee’s Florist, The Observer, Bloomfield BMW, Bower Roofing, Moran Towing and First Presbyterian Church. For more information, visit www.canstruction.org.

The Salvation Army, 28 Beech St., Kearny, is offering computer classes on Monday and Tuesday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon. A $30 fee is charged per 12 hours of instruction. The classes cover basic computer skills (mouse, keyboard, Internet), email, as well as Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint. The Ancient Order of

Hibernians, Division 7, Hudson County, meets on the second Wednesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. at the Irish American Association, 95 Kearny Ave., Kearny. New members are encouraged to attend.

Kearny UNICO will be holding its next monthly membership meeting on Thursday, April 12, at 7:30 p.m. Anyone interested in attending the meeting and/ or learning more about Kearny UNICO should contact Chapter President Lou Pandolfi at 201-368-2409. New members are always welcome.

The Kearny Public Library will be offering free computer classes for beginners. Classes are two-hour sessions every Friday for six weeks. Sessions start on April 13 and end on May 18. The classes cover use of the mouse, keyboard and an introduction to the Internet. There is no charge, but space is limited. To sign up for the course, please call the library at 201-998-2666 ext. 4203, or come into the library at 318 Kearny Ave. For more information, visit www.kearnylibrary.org.

The library will have a free screening of “War Horse” (PG-13/146 minutes) at 4 p.m. on Monday, April 16, downstairs at the Main Library, 318 Kearny Ave. Popcorn and light refreshments will be served. Those attending are asked to please note the rating of the film. For more information on our programs, please call the library at (201) 998- 2666 or visit www.kearnylibrary.org.

Library patrons can now arrange a one-on-one, halfhour session with professional librarians for help with putting together and typing a resume and applying for a job online. The sessions will be held at the main library. To sign up, call (201) 998-2666.

The Kearny Rotary Club meets every Wednesday afternoon at 12:15 at La Fiamma Restaurant, 440 Harrison Ave., in Harrison. Business leaders from Harrison are invited to attend to learn about the work that Rotary International accomplishes around the world and in local communities. For more information about the Kearny Rotary Club or to join them for a meeting, call Joe D’Arco at 201-955- 7400 or Jose Fernandez at 201-991-1040.

The West Hudson Detachment of the Marine Corps League invites all former and active duty Marines and FMF Corpsmen to attend an open house, which will be held every Friday from 7 to 10 p.m. at 286 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. Guests are welcome.

The Presbyterian Boys- Girls Club, 663 Kearny Ave., will hold a Tricky Tray on Saturday, April 14. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and admission is $10. Please purchase tickets in advance, by calling Vanessa Vieira at 201-334-8336 or email v_vieira@yahoo.com.

Lyndhurst

The library is collecting nonperishable food items for the Lyndhurst Health Department’s Food Pantry. The drop-off box is located inside the library’s back entrance and it will remain there year-round. For questions regarding the Food Pantry, call the Lyndhurst Health Department at 201- 804-2500.

The Humane Society of Bergen County, 221-223 Stuyvesant Ave., Lyndhurst, has a supply of both canned and dry dog food, free of charge, available to anyone due to unemployment, disability or any other financial situation who cannot afford to feed their dog, Many brands are available, plus treats. Just stop by or call 201- 896-9300. Open seven days a week.

The Lyndhurst Health Department will hold a free hearing-loss seminar and free hearing screening on Friday, April 13, at 10 a.m., hosted by Audiology and Hearing Aid Solutions. Please call 201-804-2500 to reserve a seat. Light refreshments will be served.

Lyndhurst Historical Society proudly presents “Conversation Upon the Death of a Daughter,” a short one-woman play by Roseann Pellegrino, based on historical and personal facts about Varina Davis. The event will be held at the American Legion Post 139, 217 Webster Ave., Lyndhurst (upstairs hall) on Wednesday, April 18, at 7 p.m. School teachers and students are also invited. Admission is free. For more information, please call 201- 939-7972.

Meadowlands Environment Center, 2 DeKorte Park Plaza, Lyndhurst, will host Fresh-Water Fishing in New Jersey’s Waters on Wednesday, April 11, at 2 p.m. The fresh-water fishing season opens in April, and Principal Fisheries Biologist Mark Boriek of the N.J. Division of Fish and Wildlife will give you tips to get you hooked on the sport. Admission is $5/person; $4/ MEC members. For more information, call 201-460-8300 or visit njmeadowlands.gov/ec.

The Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst will host “Spring Into Fashion” Sunday Brunch and Fashion Show fundraiser on Sunday, April 15, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Graycliff, 122 Moonachie Ave., Moonachie. There will also be a tricky tray with great prizes and a 50/50 raffle. A full brunch will be served. Tickets are $35. For tickets, please call Rosemary at 201-935-4836 or Marge at 201-694-5976. No tickets will be sold at the door.

North Arlington

The North Arlington Woman’s Club holds monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the North Arlington Senior Center, behind Borough Hall. Guests are welcome.

Nutley

Adult Scrabble Night will be held at Nutley Public Library on Thursday, April 5, at 7 p.m. Prizes awarded for first and second place scores. Saturday Story Time is held weekly at the library at 10 a.m. The program includes stories and crafts for children of all ages. Registration is not required.

Two Year Old Story Time, for children 24 to 36 months, and their caregivers will be held at the library on Fridays: April 13, 20 and 27 at 10 a.m. The program includes old and new picture books and arts and crafts. Registration is required.

Blue Tide looks to build on last year’s success

Pitcher/slugger Ferriero returns for another season

Photo by Jim Hague/ The Harrison Blue Tide baseball team will rely heavily on their “Core Four,” namely from left Felipe Flores, Sean Byrne, head coach Sean Dolaghan, Jairo Quintanilla and Anthony Ferriero.

By Jim Hague

The Harrison High School baseball team did a lot of eye opening last season. Led by diligent coach Sean Dolaghan, the Blue Tide rolled to 14 wins, including a shocking upset of St. Peter’s Prep in the Hudson County Tournament and wins in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I state playoffs.

After losing just two starters to graduation, Dolaghan hopes to build on that successful season.

“It definitely put us on the map,” Dolaghan said. “It was good to see us get recognized for how well we did. We won some games last year, like St. Peter’s Prep and St. Mary’s, teams we never beat before. It gave our kids a lot of confidence and now we have high hopes for this season. You could tell from Day One that these kids are ready to compete this season.”

To get his team ready, Dolaghan scheduled some tough opponents in preseason scrimmages, foes like Dayton Regional, Park Ridge and neighboring rival Kearny.

“We want to be able to play the better teams,” Dolaghan said.

It must have worked, because the Blue Tide came out smoking in their first regular season game last Saturday, defeating St. Benedict’s Prep, 10-0. Not a bad way to start the new campaign.

“The kids were definitely ready,” Dolaghan said.

Leading the returnees is senior right-handed pitcher/infielder Anthony Ferriero. The ace of the pitching staff, Ferriero had an impressive 7-2 record with an earned run average just a hair above 2.00 last season. It was Ferriero who earned the win in their historic upset of Prep.

Ferriero is also a sensational hitter, batting .500 with five homers and 38 RBI, earning All-Hudson County honors.

“When Anthony is on the mound, we know we can beat just about anyone,” Dolaghan said. “It’s a different confidence level for everyone when Anthony is pitching. He can definitely do better this season, but if he gives us just half of what he did last year, we’ll be fine. He had a special year. If he comes close to that again, we’ll be a good team.”

Senior Sean Byrne also returns to the mound corps, although Dolaghan is so impressed with his pitching staff, he may leave Byrne at shortstop for the entire season, even though Byrne was impressive as a pitcher last year, winning three games.

“He’s much better at shortstop and when he’s at shortstop, we’re a much better team,” Dolaghan said of Byrne, who hit close to .400 last season. “He’s a very good shortstop.”

Byrne might be called upon to serve as the team’s closer, becoming like the Mariano Rivera of Harrison.

Senior Felipe Flores also returns. Flores was the team’s catcher last year, earning All-NJIC Meadowlands Division honors last season. This year, Dolaghan converted the hard-throwing Flores into a full-time starting pitcher and it’s already paid dividends, as Flores fanned 13 in the shutout win over St. Benedict’s last Saturday.

“I was concerned that Felipe might have a tough time going seven innings, but he proved me wrong,” Dolaghan said. “He looked strong.”

The Blue Tide pitching staff also features senior Jairo Quintanilla and sophomore Sebastian Sanchez.

What gave Dolaghan the ability to move Flores from behind the plate came when junior Emil Zorillo transferred into Harrison from the Dominican Republic. Zorillo has been a major find behind the dish.

“He has a cannon for an arm,” Dolaghan said. “He’s one of the best I’ve seen. He hit at least three homers during our scrimmages.”

And Zorillo started off the season in fine fashion with a homer, triple and four RBI. He’s a player to watch.

The first base duties are being shared by Ferriero when he’s not on the mound and senior Luis Velasquez.

Dolaghan has a pair of sophomores to man second base, namely his cousin, Tommy Dolaghan, and Moises Roque.

“Tommy knows the game and he’s a good player,” the head coach said of his cousin. “He’s a nice fielder and has a very good future. Moises is also a good player. They have a nice little competition going and they push each other.”

Byrne is a mainstay at shortstop and should be one of the top performers in the NJIC Meadowlands Division this season. Quintanilla plays third, but the versatile Ferriero might see time there as well.

Photo by Jim Hague/ Senior Sean Byrne won three games last season and is a mainstay for the Harrison Blue Tide at shortstop.

Sophomore Adam Huseinovic, who started every game last year as a freshman, returns to his slot in left field.

“Adam hits the ball and hits it hard,” Dolaghan said.

Flores has been shifted from catcher to centerfield when he’s not pitching. When Flores is on the hill, senior Justin Agosto is in center.

The Blue Tide’s right fielder is senior Christian Otero.

Harrison will get to know how good it is in a hurry, as the Blue Tide faces league rivals Becton Regional and Lyndhurst this week. Talk fire.

But Dolaghan thinks his team will be ready. His coaching staff, consisting of Charlie Comprelli, Jimmy Morais and former Kearny High and Montclair State pitching ace Jairo Mendez, feel good about the prospects.

“Our team is based on our pitching and defense,” Dolaghan said. “We’re going to be a good team no matter what because of that. But if we can hit, we can be a great team. We have to be able to push some runs across this season. A lot of these kids are back from last year and the confi dence is there. We have a ‘Core Four’ of seniors (Ferriero, Flores, Byrne, Quintanilla) who have been through a lot and want to do well again this year.”

Chances are that they will.

Better times ahead for Kearny softball squad

Photos by Jim Hague/ The hopes of a successful softball season at Kearny lie with senior pitcher Ashleigh Amadeo (left) and senior shortstop Sarah O’Neill (right), two standout veterans who have to lead the way.

 

By Jim Hague

A year ago, the Kearny High School softball team had to endure some troubled times. The Kardinals started off the season with six straight losses and eventually saw their record stand at 2-9.

There were also chemistry and camaraderie woes with the team. Some players didn’t show up regularly. Others went on family vacations in the middle of the season. It caused a ton of discord among the Kardinals.

Eventually, the team all got together and won their share of games, finishing with a more respectable 10-14 record.

But as Jimmy Pickel begins his third season as the Kardinals’ head coach, he’s vowing that the same troubles that plagued the Kards last year will not return this season.
“We definitely should be better, because we’re all on the same page, definitely more than last year,” Pickel said. “This should be the best team we’ve had in my three years.”

The Kardinals went on a week’s trip to Myrtle Beach to partake in spring training at the Ripken  Experience, the facility owned by Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken, Jr. The Kards played six scrimmage games in South Carolina, but they also got to know themselves a little better and grew as a team.

“We saw top quality pitching in those six games and we won’t see anything like that in the regular season,” Pickel said. “It definitely got us ready.”

It’s also refreshing to know that Pickel has a deep and versatile team, beginning with a pitching staff that goes three-deep.

Senior Ashleigh Amadeo is definitely the team’s top returning pitcher and should get the bulk of the pitching duty this season, but she has ample help from juniors Kim Campbell and Nicole Stankus.

“We’re going to try to mix and match a little,” Pickel said. “We’ll use Ashleigh as our starter, but we’ll have the others ready in relief if we need them. It’s a good thing to have that much pitching. You don’t have to rely on one.”

Junior Kristen Stankus, one of three Stankus triplets in the Kearny program, is the team’s new catcher. Kristen Stankus played first base last year.

“She’s been pretty solid, considering she didn’t play there last year,” Pickel said. “She’s coming along.”

First base duties will be shared by Amadeo, when she’s not pitching, along with juniors Christina Rivera and Emily Papa.

Second base will be handled by senior Stephanie Murphy.

“She’s an outstanding second baseman who has really stepped up this year,” Pickel said.

Senior Sarah O’Neill, who was an All-Hudson County centerfielder last year, has been moved to shortstop this season.

“She’s played everywhere for us, pitched, played third, played center,” Pickel said. “She’s handled the move to shortstop well. I really think she could play any position.”

Junior Kelsey French is the third baseman.

“Kelsey is a solid player who did well at the end of last year,” Pickel said. “She became comfortable at the end of last season and that has carried over.”

Senior Vanessa DaSilva, the standout point guard on the basketball team, has returned to playing softball after a two-year absence.

“She was a little behind at first because she had been away for so long, but she’s caught up now,” said Pickel of DaSilva, who is the team’s starter in left field.

Sophomore Nicole Kelly has taken over the responsibilities in center field.

“She’s very athletic out there,” Pickel said. “The one good thing is that we have a very athletic team.”

Right field is being shared by sophomore Spiridoula Dimou, senior Kaitlyn Lima and Campbell.

“Finding playing time for all of them might be tough, but they’re all productive,” Pickel said. “It’s good to have a deep team.”

Senior Ashley Dunwoodie, who missed some time due to injury, is working her way back into playing form.

“She’s coming back now, but she will have to catch up to match the others,” Pickel said. “Ashley can be more of a DP (designated player), but she can also play the outfield.”

Junior Kerry Sweeney is the team’s resident jack-of-all-trades, playing all of the infield positions.

“She has good versatility,” Pickel said. “I think the team is also very versatile and that helps.”

The Kardinals open their season with Hudson County league contests against Bayonne and Ferris. The big test will come next week when they face North Bergen.

But Pickel knows one thing for sure. There will not be a repeat performance of a year ago.

“That’s not expected at all this year,” Pickel said. “We know we have the ability to do good things this year. We want to get off to a good start this year.”

Count on it.

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