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Four Chaplains monument dedication nears

Photo by Ron LeirThe Rev. Joseph Mancini stands by tarpaulin-covered pedestal where Four Chaplains monument will rest.

Photo by Ron Leir
The Rev. Joseph Mancini stands by tarpaulin-covered pedestal where Four Chaplains monument will rest.


By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent


Everything is in readiness for the celebration of the annual Father John P. Washington Mass Feb. 3, at noon, at St. Stephen’s Church to mark the 70th anniversary of the day the Four Chaplains gave their life vests to others when the torpedoed Dorchester sank in the North Atlantic in World War II.

This year’s observance will feature the dedication of a bronze monument to Rev. Washington, the parish’s former curate and one of four clergymen who made the ultimate sacrifice on Feb. 3, 1943. His comrades on that illfated voyage were the Rev. George L. Fox, a Methodist; Rabbi Alexander D. Goode; and the Rev. Clark V. Poling of the Reformed Church of America.

The Rev. Joseph Mancini, pastor of St. Stephen’s Parish, said the 11-feet-10 inchestall, 1,562-pound monument, designed by Canadian sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz, is expected to arrive at the church by Jan. 31.

A crane will lift the monument into its resting place, a 4-foot tall bluestone pedestal with stucco exterior, already positioned on the front lawn of the church, at Washington and Kearny Aves., Mancini said. Creative Pavers of Montvale built the pedestal.

The front of the memorial depicts the Four Chaplains praying in the stern of the Dorchester and the back shows an angel holding the four life jackets; enclosed in the angel’s spreading wings is an image of the Dorchester sinking.

In commissioning the project, St. Stephen’s Parish figured it would need to raise $96,000 for the ambitious undertaking.



Asked if it had reached that lofty goal, Mancini said: “We’re not quite there yet. We’re about $10,000 short. But I think that once people see [the monument], they’ll want to give.”

So far, of the 125 donations received, 114 have come from individuals and families; seven from veterans’ organizations; and four from civic and fraternal associations, in amounts ranging from $10 to $1,000, according to Mancini. “The people have really come through,” Mancini said.

“The monument embodies the generosity of spirit of Kearny and the people of St. Stephen’s.”

About 1,100 families comprise the Catholic parish which celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2004.

Mancini said the Feb. 3 event will get underway at around 11:10 or 11:15 a.m. with private ceremonies open only to veterans’ groups in Hedges (Lower Church) Hall inside the church.

Gene Swarbrick, who served as Father Washington’s altar boy at St. Stephen’s, will be flying in from his Florida home to sing in his former pastor’s memory. Then, an adult ensemble from West Hudson Arts & Theater (W.H.A.T.) will perform; and, finally, the Kearny High School Band will play “The Light Eternal,” dedicated to the Four Chaplains.

At that point, Mancini said, “we’ll start the public session with a presentation of colors by the Kearny Police Department Honor Guard, followed by a veterans’ processional into the sanctuary, the singing of the National Anthem, and then the Mass.”

The Rev. Timothy Broglio, Archbishop of the Military Services, of Washington, D.C., will be the main celebrant and he will deliver the homily.

Members of the St. Columcille United Pipe Band of Kearny will perform a post- Communion meditation, “Amazing Grace,” to conclude the Mass and will then lead everyone outside for the monument dedication at the southeast corner of the church lawn.

After the pastor speaks and reads a short prayer, a bugler will play taps and a wreathe will be placed at the base of the monument.

Photo by Ron LeirClay model of front of monument shows Four Chaplains praying.

Photo by Ron Leir
Clay model of front of monument shows Four Chaplains praying.


During the ceremony, Kearny Police will be detouring traffic off Kearny Ave. between Washington and Laurel Aves. and the Kearny Fire Department will suspend a giant American flag between two ladder trucks on Kearny Ave.

Mancini said the parish had hoped to invite veteran Ben Epstein, believed to be the last survivor of the attack on the Dorchester, but he died recently in Long Island, N.Y.

The bronze monument was cast at the artist’s studio in Thailand and transported by ship to the Port of Los Angeles. From there, it’s to be shipped by rail to Detroit where it will be loaded on a flatbed trailer for delivery to Kearny this week, Mancini said.

Parishioner Nancy Waller, who worked with the pastor in pushing for the project, said: “Father has been stalwart about preserving the memory of the Four Chaplains and Father Washington so it’s wonderful and exciting to see the process now finally come to an end.”

And many happy returns!

Photos by Karen ZautykAnthony Dusman, 100 years young, used not a knife, but a karate chop, to cuthis birthday cake, much to surprise and delight of his family (from l.) daughterDoris Russ, great-grandniece Rebecca, and daughter Helen Skibiak.


Photos by Karen Zautyk
Anthony Dusman, 100 years young, used not a knife, but a karate chop, to cut
his birthday cake, much to surprise and delight of his family (from l.) daughter
Doris Russ, great-grandniece Rebecca, and daughter Helen Skibiak.



By Karen Zautyk

Observer Correspondent


Last week, Bernice Marshall, activities director at Alaris@Kearny (formerly the West Hudson Post- Acute Care Center), invited us to a birthday party there.

It was held Friday afternoon, and we arrived to find the guest of honor wearing a crown and seated at the head table — in a room filled with tables filled with guests. There were also a massive cake and scads of balloons and streamers.

And live entertainment. And folks laughing and dancing and, of course, offering their best wishes to that guest of honor.

We snared a temporary seat next to him, but conversation was not easy, what with all the music and singing and loving “Happy Birthday” interruptions from friends and family. We managed a chat — he was genial and witty — but we kept it brief, since the gentleman should not have missed a minute of this celebration.

Friday, you see, marked his 100th birthday.

The town’s newest centenarian is Anthony Dusman, born Jan. 25, 1913, on Long Island, but a longtime resident of Hudson and Bergen counties.

Dusman told us he knew he’d be getting a birthday cake. “But,” he added, with a huge smile and a glance encompassing the crowded room, “I never expected this!”

Singer Mike Gintella was entertaining the crowd with songs from back in the day, including real golden oldies, ballads by Sinatra and rock ‘n’ roll Elvis. We asked Dusman which was his favorite. “They’re all my favorites,” he said with a laugh. “All the way back.”

Dusman’s daughters, Helen Skibiak and Doris Russ, both of North Arlington, took time out from the festivities to fill us in on their dad’s life story.

Though a native Long Islander, he spent much of his early life in Hoboken and Jersey City, where he graduated from Dickinson High School. That was followed by 30 years in North Arlington, where he and his bride, Stella Prusko Dusman, raised their family on Canterbury Ave.

He and Stella were married for 37 years. They had moved briefly to Belleville, but after his wife’s death in 1978, he returned to North Arlington — for another 30 years. He has been a resident at the Alaris/ West Hudson center since 2008.

For 50 years, Dusman worked as a tanner at the R. Neumann Leather Co. in Hoboken, retiring about 1977. He and Stella had met at the factory, where Dusman’s father, Joseph, also worked. Skibiak said the company had a rule against family members working together, “so they all had to pretend they didn’t know each other.”

Russ noted that her father also served as a SeaBee in the U.S. Navy’s construction battallion from 1943 to 1945, stationed in Hawaii and on Guam.

Asked to recall some memories of their dad as a younger man, the daughters answered in unison, “Bingo!” “As soon as I was 21,” Russ said, she joined her father, mother and sister as bingo games “almost every night.”

The daughters also recalled that Sunday “was always family day out,” with trips down the shore and to Olympic Park.

Of their father, they noted too that “Atlantic City is his passion.” Before he came to the center, “he went to Atlantic City every month.”

At Alaris, he loves to play blackjack (he taught the dealers how to deal), Pokerino, Name That Tune, Trivia and, of course, bingo. And he plays along with “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune” on TV. Speaking of which . . .

Alaris offers Wii games on its TV, and Dusman loves to bowl (as he used to do at real bowling alleys). Now he plays the sport while sitting down, though with no less enthusiasm. He rolls the imaginary ball so hard, his daughters said, he wheels himself right out of his chair and lands on the floor – “and he keeps on playing!”

Before bidding a birthday farewell to Dusman, who was surrounded by dozens of nieces/nephews, grandnieces/ nephews and great-grandnieces/ nephews, we took time to read greetings from Sen. Frank Lautenberg and the birthday proclamation issued by Mayor Alberto Santos and the Kearny Town Council. And one other.

It read, in part: “You have witnessed great milestones in our nation’s history and your life represents an important part of the American Story.” And it was signed by Barack and Michelle Obama.

A salute to women in combat



Finally, another wall has fallen. That the wall had been breached in practice, if not in policy, appears to be lost on those who persist in viewing women as the weaker sex.

When Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last week announced that the U.S. military had lifted the ban on women serving in combat roles, the chorus of protest and doubt was immediate and strident.

Among the most quoted critics has been Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (Ret., USA), who termed the decision “another social experiment.”

Sort of like giving women the right to vote?

A friend says that response is not fair to the general, who objects primarily to women being in units like Special Ops. But the term “social experiment” is jarring, and I can’t help but think of the historic battle American women had to wage against a patriarchal society before that secondclass citizenship was removed in 1920.

Another criticism is that, while the focus of military commanders “must remain on winning the battles and protecting their troops, they will now have the distraction of having to provide some separation of the genders during fast-moving and deadly situations.”

Perhaps, instead of all the nay-saying, experts like Boykin – a battle-hardened, medal-bedecked former Delta Force officer – could volunteer to help those commanders solve the problems they foresee.

American women in combat will be a reality. Has been a reality. Technically holding only combat support roles, they have been wounded and they have been killed. They have been combatants. Unofficially. But they are officially dead.

In a 2011 article datelined Afghanistan, the N.Y. Times quoted a staff sergeant who had lost one of his female platoon members to a roadside bomb: “Out here,” he said, “there is no male gender and no female gender. Our gender is soldier.”

The battalion commander commented, “To the average soldier who’s out there on a mission, it doesn’t make a difference. Can that person on my left or right shoot is what matters. I got to tell you the females in my battalion are absolutely amazing.”

In announcing last week’s decision, Panetta noted, “This is where we have been heading as a department for more than 10 years. It will take leadership and it will take professionalism to implement these changes. Not everyone is going to be able to be a combat soldier, but everyone is entitled to a chance.”

He also said: “If members of our military can meet the qualifications for a job — and let me be clear, we are not reducing qualifications — then they should have the right to serve.”

Repeat: Not reducing qualifications.

Unfortunately, too many people believe that women cannot possibly fulfill equal requirements. They should reserve judgment.

Back in 1976, there was a similar uproar when women were finally admitted to West Point.

In his brilliantly written book “The Long Gray Line,” author Rick Atkinson recounts an incident when some male cadets complained to the physed instructor that the females were “poor runners.”

The instructor’s response was: “Okay, guys, physiologically, the women have 40% more body fat, so just to make it even. let’s give you a 70-pound weight to carry. They have only 60% as much lung capacity, so let’s degrade your breathing by making you wear this mask. They have a little mechanical disadvantage in their hip structure, so we’ll put a brace between your legs to make you pigeon-toed. Now go run a mile, guys, and see if you can keep up with the women.”

– Karen Zautyk

KPD nabs 2 in ATM ‘skimming’

Two Canadians who had allegedly installed “skimming” devices at two area Chase Bank ATMs were arrested last week by Kearny police following a cooperative investigation with federal authorities.

Crooks place “skimmers” inside ATM bank-card readers to steal information from a card’s magnetic strip and then illegally withdraw money from the account.

Det. Mike Gonzalez, working on the case with the U.S. Secret Service, had set up surveillance at various locations and, at 3:20 p.m., Jan. 20, observed the suspects attempting to enter the Chase Bank on Kearny Ave., “in all probability to recover the device,” Police Chief John Dowie said.

Dowie said a “skimmer” was also found at the Chase Bank on Ridge Road in North Arlington.

Gonzalez arrested Rukashian Balasubramian, 23, of Crescent Markham, Ontario, and Sumi Nageswaran, 27, of Scarborough, Ontario, who were charged with conspiracy to commit theft and criminal use of a scanning device.

When apprehended, they reportedly were in possession of about $900 in cash.

Bail for each was set at $20,000.

On the same day, at 4:50 p.m., a handgun-wielding robber entered the office of the gas station at Kearny and Seeley Aves. and relieved the attendant of approximately $300.

The suspect, a light-skinned Hispanic male, age 20-25, and wearing two hooded sweatshirts and black pants, fled on foot west on Seeley, presumably to a car around the corner. P.O. Jay Ward handled the initial crime report, and Det. John Telle is conducting the follow-up investigation.

Other recent reports from the Kearny PD blotter included the following:

Jan. 20

Police Officers Joe Martin and Dean Gasser responded at 1:20 a.m. to reports of a loud party at a Beech St. home, reportedly the scene of prior disorderly fests. After ringing the bell and advising the 17-year-old host that the party was over, the teen reportedly “took offense” and slammed the door in the cops’ faces, and on Martin’s foot. The juvenile was arrested for aggravated assault on a police officer. The juvenile’s father, who apparently had allowed the parties, was issued a town summons for violation of the noise ordinance.

At 11:30 p.m.. Officers Derek Hemphill and Tom Sumowski went to the 300 block of Belgrove Drive on the report of a fight. One of the individuals at the scene, 20-year-old Gilberto Pascual of Union, was reportedly found to be wanted on an outstanding warrant from that town. He was arrested on that and for underage possession of alcohol (three cans of beer) and possession of a fraudulent N.J. driver’s license, police said. Bail was set at $7,500.

Jan. 22

P.O. Chris Medina, responding to a report of a shoplifter at Wal-Mart at 11:40 p.m., arrived to find “a very defiant and confrontational” female being detained by store security for allegedly stealing a body scrubber. Given the suspect’s aggressiveness, Dowie said, P.O. Mike Santucci responded as backup. As they attempted to cuff her, she reportedly threw herself on the ground and continued to struggle until the cops managed to get her into the patrol car. At HQ , 22-year-old Tiffany Moore of Newark was charged with shoplifting, resisting arrest and hindering apprehension by providing false information as to her identity.

Jan. 23

The vice unit, on patrol at Locust and Franklin Aves. at 10:30 p.m., spotted an individual who they confirmed had an outstanding warrant out of North Arlington. It turned out he had two more, from Newark and from Belleville. And he also had a bag of Oxycontin in his sock, police said. Charged on the warrants and with possession of narcotics and drug paraphernalia was John Gross, 20, of Kearny.

Jan. 24

Sgt. John Taylor, working school security and traffic enforcement at 9 a.m., saw a vehicle with a lighting violation in the area of Halstead St. and Belgrove Drive.

Using his mobile data computer, he found that the registered owner had a suspended license. Police said the car was being driven by the owner’s son — but he also turned out to have a suspended license. Arrested was 19-year-old Gian Salazar of Kearny.

At 9:30 p.m., vice unit officers on surveillance near West Hudson Park observed what appeared to be a drug transaction. Arrested for possession of two ziplock bags containing suspected marijuana was a 16-year-old Kearny youth, who was released to the custody of his parents.

P.O. Tom Sumowski, responding to a report of a motor vehicle accident at Passaic and Bergen Aves. at 11:15 p.m.. was told by witnesses that the driver who had rear-ended another car appeared to be intoxicated. That driver, the report said, was leaning against her car for support and the offficer detected a strong odor of alcohol.

She reportedly told him that she had not seen the vehicle in front of her. Charged with DWI, careless driving and refusing to take an Alcotest at HQ was Roberta Bradley, 55, of North Arlington. Her car was towed from the scene.

Jan. 25

Another crash allegedy inolving alcohol occurred at 2:45 a.m., when Edgardo Fisher, 26, of Kearny drove his Chevy Trailblazer onto the center embankment at Laurel and Passaic Aves. and hit a tree. When Officers Tom Floyd and Dean Gasser and Sgt. John Becker arrived on the scene, they reportedly found Fisher staggering in the roadway. According to police, he refused medical attention and admitted he had been traveling south on Passaic when he lost control of his vehicle. An Alcotest was administered, and he was charged with DWI and careless driving.

– Karen Zautyk

17+ years for 10 bank robberies


Within two months in 2008, the Commerce Bank on Kingsland St. in Nutley was robbed twice by the same bandit.

Last week, the culprit, Maurice Richardson, 43, of Irvington, was sentenced to 207 months in prison after pleading guilty in federal court to those heists and eight others in New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Richardson was arrested Dec. 1, 2010, after he robbed a Capital One bank in Marlboro — the third time he had hit that particular branch in less than two years.

The Nutley robberies occurred July 27 and Sept. 28, 2008.

Richardson’s spree, which had begun in December 2007, also included banks in Morris Township, Rahway, Hasbrouck Heights, Howell and Paramus.

According to case documents and statements made in court: Richardson entered the banks and gave notes to the tellers, “which variously demanded money in large bills, stated that he had a gun, and threatened he would shoot the tellers if they did not comply.”

Witnesses at some of the robberies observed the bandit fleeing in a burgundy SUV.

On Dec. 1, 2010, after the third Marlboro Capital One robbery, a local police officer observed a burgundy Chevrolet Suburban exiting a street adjacent to the bank’s parking lot. After a mile-long pursuit, the SUV hit a concrete wall. Richardson was nabbed as he attempted to flee on foot. A 9mm bullet was found in the SUV, and a 9mm handgun was found in the area of the crash.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan in Trenton sentenced Richardson to three years’ supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $50,646.

Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge David Velazquez in Newark, with the investigation leading to the conviction. The Nutley Police Department was also among the law enforcement agencies Fishman thanked.

– Karen Zautyk

Rt. 3 bridge blasting will impact traffic

Lyndhurst is advising residents that a contractor soon will be blasting the foundation of the old Rt. 3 bridge over the Passaic River, Mayor Robert B. Giangeruso announced.

Giangeruso said the blasts will be closely controlled and “will have minimal audible or visible impact.”

However, as a safety precaution, there will be temporary stoppage of all traffic on the river and on these roads:

Rt. 3 eastbound and westbound from milepost 3.8 to 5.1 approximately one-half mile from the bridge in each direction.

Rt. 21 northbound including the ramp to Rt. 3.

Riverside Ave. northbound and southbound from Rutherford Ave. to Marginal Road.

The contractor plans five blasting events between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. during the next couple of weeks. Each event will trigger a 10-to-15-minute window of traffic stoppage.

State troopers and contracting personnel will coordinate traffic control during the stoppages.

The work is dependent on weather and job site conditions. Any schedule changes will be announced on the Township of Lyndhurst website, www.lyndhurstnj.org.

Around Town


Bloomfield Public Library, 90 Broad St., announces a new Genealogy program that will be meeting regularly on Saturdays, from noon to 2 p.m., starting Feb. 2. Registration is not required.

This program will teach you how to start your own family tree, and how to research independently.

The class will be taught by community volunteer Miguel Ramos, a social studies and history teacher for the Bloomfield Public School District.

For more information on this event or upcoming programs, call 973-566-6200, ext. 502.


Harrison American Legion is planning a yearlong celebration to mark its 75th anniversary. This will include a Kick-off Mardi Gras on Feb. 9, picnics for Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day and a formal dinner in late fall.

The Post is compiling a 75th anniversary booklet containing its history through the years, and is seeking memorabilia for the 1950s to mid-1960s. For information, call Ed Marshman at 201-998-0662.


The Evening Membership Department of the Woman’s Club of Arlington will hold its next board meeting on Monday, Feb. 4, at 7:30 p.m., at the home of Mary Lou Weiss. Members will discuss final plans for the annual fundraiser to be held March 1 at the San Carlo Restaurant, Lyndhurst.

The Kearny Public Library will host a food demonstration in honor of the 2013 Chinese New Year on Wednesday, Jan. 30, at 6 p.m., at the Main Library, 318 Kearny Ave., as local resident Xiumin Dong demonstrates the art of making dumplings.

All are invited to this demonstration, which will include some audience participation and fresh dumpling samples to try. It will be held on the lower level of the Main Library in the newly renovated kitchen. For more information, call 201-998-2666 or visit www.kearnylibrary.org.

St. Stephen’s Church, Kearny, will host the “Orient Express,” the largest raffle auction in Hudson County on Friday, Feb. 22, in the church hall. Tickets are $15. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. For tickets, call 201-998- 3314. Visit its facebook page at www.facebook/ststephensraffleauction.com.

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 club or to join, 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, held every Friday from 7 to 10 p.m. at 286 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. Guests are welcome.


The Lyndhurst Health Department no longer has flu vaccines available. If you need a flu vaccine, please contact your local pharmacy or your primary medical doctor’s office. We still have Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis) vaccines available for Lyndhurst residents only. Call 201-804-2500 for more information.

Sacred Heart Home School Association, Lyndhurst, will hold its annual spring auction to benefit Sacred Heart School Margaret Engel Endowment Trust on Friday, March 15, at the school, 620 Valley Brook Ave. Tickets are $10 per person and non-refundable. Ticket includes one sheet for 1st level prizes, coffee, tea and dessert. For tickets, call Patty at 201-803-9580 or the school at 201-939-4277. Ticket deadline is March 8.

Lyndhurst Knights of Columbus are hosting their third annual Tricky Tray on Friday, Feb.15, at the Lyndhurst Senior Building, 250 Cleveland Ave. Doors open 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 (includes coffee, tea and cake). No alcoholic beverages are permitted. For tickets, call Sal Russo at 201-446 7244 or Nick Garafolo at 201-935- 5988.

To help make your Valentine’s Day a little extra special, the Lyndhurst Public Library will be holding a “Design Your Own Valentine’s Day Card and Mini-Mailbox” program on Wednesday, Feb. 6, from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. for grades 6 to 9. All supplies will be provided. To register, call the library at 201-804-2478, ext. 4, or email lyndref@bccls.org.

The fourth Annual “Super Bird Sunday” Nature Walk with the NJMC and Bergen County Audubon Society will be held on Sunday, Feb. 3, at 10 a.m. This free two-hour guided nature walk starts just outside DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst. The group will walk along the base of the remediated Kingsland Landfill, looking for wintering waterfowl and other birds of interest – with great prizes awarded to any participant who is the first to spot a bird that has the same name as an NFL team – raven, falcon, eagle, cardinal and seahawk (osprey, but good luck on that one). Check meadowblog. net for last-minute weather updates. You will have 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 at greatauk4@aol. com or 201-230-4983.

North Arlington

The American Legion Alexander Stover Post 37, 222 River Road, North Arlington, will meet Feb. 4, at 8 p.m. All veterans are invited. For more information, please call 201- 214-8253.

The Queen of Peace Knights of Columbus Council 3428 is sponsoring a bus trip on Tuesday, March 5, to Mt. Airy Casino. The cost is $32, and upon arrival each player will get $25 in slot play money and a $10 food voucher.

The bus will depart at 10:30 a.m. from the K of C Council Hall parking lot, 194 River Rd., North Arlington. For the return trip, the bus will leave from the Casino at 6 p.m. and arrive back at the Knights’ parking lot at approximately 7:30 p.m.

Please bring a photo ID, which is needed to get the slot play money. For tickets, contact Nicholas Cerchio at 201-230-3428.

North Arlington Elks, 129 Ridge Rd., will host a fish fry on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 13, from 5 to 8 p.m. Price is $12 per dinner, which includes fish (fried or broiled), chips, bowl of clam chowder, baked clam and cole slaw. Shrimp cocktail and clams on the half-shell are also available for an additional price of $4 for a half dozen and $6 for a dozen.


Pilates is being added to the Nutley Department of Parks and Recreation’s 2013 lineup of fitness regimens. Pilates involves a series of controlled movements that engage both body and mind. The primary focus is on awareness of the spine, proper breathing, core strength and flexibility.

This program, open to Nutley residents, will be held on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to noon beginning Feb. 16 and will run for six weeks at the Nutley Recreation Annex, 65 Bloomfield Ave. The fee is $30 per participant. Participants should bring a mat and a water bottle.

Online registration is available at www.nutleynj.org or forms may be obtained at the Parks and Recreation office, 44 Park Ave. For further information, contact Parks and Recreation at 973-284-4966, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Nutley wins second straight Essex County wrestling title

Photo by Jim HagueFour members of the Nutley High School wrestling team won individual championships at the Essex County Tournament<br /><p class=last weekend, helping the team repeat as county champs. From left are 126-pound champ Bobby Trombetta, who won
his fourth ECT crown, 160-pound champ Brandon Keena, head coach Frank DiPiano, 182-pound champ Vin Mainiero and
106-pound champ Anthony DeLorenzo." src="http://www.theobserver.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/wrestle_web.jpg" width="500" height="318" />
Photo by Jim Hague
Four members of the Nutley High School wrestling team won individual championships at the Essex County Tournament last weekend, helping the team repeat as county champs. From left are 126-pound champ Bobby Trombetta, who won his fourth ECT crown, 160-pound champ Brandon Keena, head coach Frank DiPiano, 182-pound champ Vin Mainiero and 106-pound champ Anthony DeLorenzo.


By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

It’s been said that the toughest championship to win is the first.

The Nutley High School wrestling team experienced that a year ago, when the Maroon Raiders won the school’s first-ever Essex County Tournament championship.

But to repeat as champion? Now, that’s a feat all in its own. The Maroon Raiders tried to prepare for the ECT by facing a brutal early-season schedule, taking on highly respected, state-ranked programs like High Point, Brick Memorial and Howell in the early going.

In fact, the Maroon Raiders entered the ECT last Friday afternoon with a sub-.500 record in dual meet action, owning a 5-8 record going in.

“I told the kids going in that our record didn’t mean anything,” said sixth-year Nutley head coach Frank DiPiano. “I told them that we’re now battle tested and it was going to pay off.”

Sure enough, the Nutley regular season slate gave the Maroon Raiders an edge going into the tourney at the Codey Arena in West Orange over the weekend.

“These kids put the time in and did a phenomenal job getting ready,” DiPiano said. “They learned a lot.”

Thanks to four Maroon Raiders winning individual titles, Nutley steamrolled to its second consecutive Essex County Tournament team title, holding off West Essex, 207-189. Caldwell was third and West Orange fourth.

While last year’s victory might have been a little more expected, this one almost came completely out of left field, because the Maroon Raiders graduated a ton of talent from last year’s team.

“This one was a lot tougher,” said 126-pound senior Bobby Trombetta, who had a historic weekend. “The second one meant a whole lot more. Everyone showed up ready to wrestle.”

Trombetta became the school’s all-time victory leader over the weekend, collecting the 147th win of his career. His 148th win came in the championship round, when he pinned Paul Scully of Verona in 4:53, earning his fourth straight county title, becoming the first Nutley wrestler to win four consecutive Essex County crowns.

Trombetta surpassed Anthony D’Amico, who won 146 times during his days as a Maroon Raider wrestler.

“Bobby is very goal oriented,” said DiPiano, who saw Trombetta reach the 100-win milestone during last year’s ECT. “He’s a very focused individual.”

Trombetta had been out of action with a shoulder injury and only returned to the mats last Monday when the Maroon Raiders faced Caldwell.

“I wouldn’t let him wrestle if he wasn’t ready to compete,” DiPiano said. “But he was really zoned in and wanted his fourth county title.”

“It meant a lot to me,” Trombetta said. “I knew that I had to come back, keep trying hard and keep my pace up. The win record is nice, but I hope there are plenty more to come.”

Trombetta has his eyes set on the big prize, namely a state championship in Atlantic City.

“Winning this just motivates me more,” Trombetta said. “I have to stay ready and keep working.”

When Trombetta gets back into wrestling shape, he will return to his comfortable 120-pound class.

Sophomore Anthony DeLorenzo won the 106-pound weight class title by defeating Dean Caravella of Caldwell in the title match by a 4-3 score. DeLorenzo finished third last year, so he celebrated his first county title.

Senior Brandon Keena also won his first county championship. The 160-pound Keena dominated Joe Velardi of West Essex in the title bout by a technical fall, winning 16-0 in 4:29.

“He’s a very tough wrestler,” DiPiano said of Keena.

The fourth Maroon Raider to win a county title was sophomore 182-pounder Vin Mainiero.

“He’s been wrestling a long time,” DiPiano said of Mainiero. “Even though he’s a sophomore, he has a lot of experience. He qualified for the states last year as a freshman.”

Mainiero defeated Roberto Locasio of West Essex, 3-1, to win the 182-pound title.

The Maroon Raiders almost had a fifth county champion, but senior Peter Burbank lost in the finals at 220 pounds to Vin Cordasco of Cedar Grove, 9-3. The sixth-seeded Burbank got to the finals by avenging losses to wrestlers who defeated him in the past.

“It’s the first year he’s in our lineup,” DiPiano said of Burbank, who is also a football standout at the school. “He did a great job.”

The Maroon Raiders had 13 kids wrestle in the tournament and 11 of them finished among the top four. Ten of the 11 moved on to the medal round with four earning championships. That’s some level of success throughout.

“When you win one championship, like we did last year, people get a chance to see what’s going on,” DiPiano said. “But it also puts a big target on your back. Last year’s team was very talented. But this win is amazing, the way it went down and the way it happened. I never saw a Nutley team compete like this throughout the tournament.”

DiPiano doesn’t care if the Maroon Raiders might not qualify for the state sectionals this year.

“I’m so proud of these kids,” DiPiano said. “The record does not indicate how good they are. They’re putting the hard work in. They deserve this championship because they worked hard for it.”

Popular former player Petke named as new Red Bulls coach

Photo by Jim HagueKearny native Tony Meola (left) has been rumored to be a possible choice as an assistant coach for new Red Bulls head<br /><p class=coach and former team All-Star Mike Petke (right). Petke was given the position as head coach last Thursday." src="http://www.theobserver.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/1-30View_web.jpg" width="500" height="328" /> Photo by Jim Hague
Kearny native Tony Meola (left) has been rumored to be a possible choice as an assistant coach for new Red Bulls head coach and former team All-Star Mike Petke (right). Petke was given the position as head coach last Thursday.


By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer


When Scottish soccer hero Andy Roxburgh was named as the new sporting director of the New York Red Bulls last November, he made one promise. He would consider bringing in an American to be the new head coach of the club.

“It could be an American,” Roxburgh said at the time. “We don’t want to rush to judgment here. We want the best. Clearly, it would be an advantage if someone coaches in MLS. If the head coach isn’t American, then one of the two assistants will be an American. We have enough quality American coaches and we know the importance of having an American coach. First of all, we’re in America.”

So as Roxburgh flirted with the idea of Gary McAllister and actually offered the position to Argentine Paulo Sousa, only to find that Sousa was experiencing working visa problems, the guy who was holding on to an interim tag remained patient, although he never officially received a formal interview for the permanent slot.

“If they decided to go with someone else, I never would have had a problem,” Mike Petke said. “But I believed that I was always more than ready. I’m more than capable. I always put this club ahead of me in everything I do.”

Last Thursday, Petke was rewarded for his patience, as Roxburgh lifted the interim tag and made Petke, one of the most popular players in the history of the franchise, as the new head coach.

The 36-year-old Petke spent eight seasons as a player and two as an assistant coach with the Red Bulls franchise, which, as most soccer fans remember, was formerly known as the MetroStars.

Petke was drafted in the first round of the 1998 MLS Draft and became the franchise’s all-time leader in games played with 169, games started with 158 and minutes played with 14,060. A tough and physical defender during his playing days, earning one berth in the MLS All-Star Game, Petke easily became identifiable with the MetroStars and Red Bulls faithful.

And in naming Petke has the head coach, Roxburgh also lived up to another of his prophecies.

“We’re going to try our best to get a local identity and a style that fans can identify with,” said Roxburgh, a former Scottish national player who was once a teammate of famed Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Since 1994, Roxburgh served as the firstever technical director of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), before taking on the new challenge with the Red Bulls.

So Roxburgh understands the concept of loyalty and identity with a soccer club, something the Red Bulls, who have become an almost entirely transient squad in recent years, especially with a revolving door operating in terms of the team’s head coaching position.

Petke had been serving as the team’s interim head coach after former coach Hans Backe’s contract was not renewed at the end of the 2012 season.

With the MLS regular season set to begin March 3 and the team already in training in Bradenton, Florida, a move had to be made, so Roxburgh decided to lift the interim tag off Petke.

“From the minute he took over as the interim coach, Mike has been enthusiastic and organized,” Roxburgh said in a conference call announcing the hiring. “Mike is very experienced in the ways of MLS. If we brought in a coach from Europe, that might not be the case. Mike knows the league and he’s passionate about this organization and team. All of those things add up to make him the appropriate choice.”

Petke, who has no head coaching experience, other than running the day-to-day operations of the Red Bulls since Backe’s departure, does not believe he was the alternative choice.

“I cannot believe in my mind that Red Bull needed to rush something, just because we opened training camp,” said Petke, who helped D.C. United win the MLS Cup in 2004 and played a bit with Colorado, before returning to the Red Bulls in 2008. “I think my interview process began when they turned to me and asked me to take the reins in November. I think Andy saw me in action. I’m not the least bit slighted that they might have looked elsewhere before me.”

Roxburgh explained the flirtation with experienced coaches like McAllister, who could not come to terms on an agreement, and Sousa, who reportedly had work visa problems.

“It was very important to see all options,” Roxburgh said. “I had spoken to a number of people about the position. For whatever reason, it didn’t work out. But I always thought I would like to have a young and hungry coach, who is adaptable. As we went through the process, we didn’t rush anything we did. I did have a deadline that I wanted to have a coach by the time the players came to camp. The players had to know.”

Roxburgh is firm about his decision to hire an unproven Petke.

“Everyone is behind Mike, no question,” Roxburgh said. “We told the players this morning and they were very supportive. Mike is one of their guys. He’s a pro. He’s humble and hard working. He has to start somewhere. He brings so many qualities to the job.”

Roxburgh believes that it was important that the new head coach be an American.

“We can’t be a satellite for Europe,” Roxburgh said. “We need to have our own roots right here. The heart and soul of this club is America-based and it starts with our coach. He’s someone with MLS experience and someone from the U.S.”

Petke is ready for the challenge. The Red Bulls were eliminated in the first round of last season’s MLS Playoffs by D.C. United. The franchise has never won a MLS Cup title.

“I know the players,” Petke said. “I’ve been around this team for a while. I’m not going to do anything differently. I’m going to do what’s in the best interest of the club.”

There was no announcement made about assistant coaches, but there were rumors swirling last week that Kearny native Tony Meola, who did receive an interview for the head coaching slot, could be brought on to be an assistant coach with Petke. The two were teammates together a few years ago.

It could definitely enhance the local flavor of the team, if one of the most storied homegrown products had an identity as an assistant coach, so stay tuned.

The Red Bulls open the 2013 season March 3 against Portland.


Celebrating 50 years of volunteer baseball coaching

Walker, ‘the Don Zimmer of Lyndhurst,’ gets feted

Photo courtesy Richard (Jazz) Jasinski Sr.Lyndhurst honored long-time volunteer baseball coach Jim Walker (center) for his 50 years of service to Lyndhurst. With<br /><p class=Walker are Lyndhurst High School athletic director and baseball coach Butch Servideo (left) and former player Bubba
Jasinski (right). All three are flashing the rings they received for being part of the 2008 Lyndhurst team that won the
NJSIAA Group I state championship." src="http://www.theobserver.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Walker_web.jpg" width="500" height="325" />
Photo courtesy Richard (Jazz) Jasinski Sr.
Lyndhurst honored long-time volunteer baseball coach Jim Walker (center) for his 50 years of service to Lyndhurst. With Walker are Lyndhurst High School athletic director and baseball coach Butch Servideo (left) and former player Bubba Jasinski (right). All three are flashing the rings they received for being part of the 2008 Lyndhurst team that won the NJSIAA Group I state championship.


By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

Jim Walker was a young father in 1961, when he decided to volunteer as a coach in the Lyndhurst Little League.

Walker went on to coach SB Teaneck, which became a dynasty in the Little League. He then went on to coach in the Lyndhurst Babe Ruth League, eventually becoming the league president. He remained involved in Babe Ruth baseball in the town for 28 years.

Finally, 12 years ago, Walker moved on to become a volunteer assistant coach with the Lyndhurst High School varsity.

All told, that’s a half-century of volunteer service to the kids of Lyndhurst, coaching the sport he loves.

“I just loved the game,” said Walker, whose career as a volunteer coach was honored in a recent fundraising dinner, to help the Golden Bears get to take a trip to Florida this spring. “I’m definitely an oldschool baseball guy. I want to see kids run out ground balls and pop-ups all the time. I want them to play hard. But I love baseball and love volunteering my time. It’s been very rewarding.”

Walker was able to coach his three sons, Thomas, John and Brian, as well as his two grandsons, Brian and Michael, during his career. Walker unfortunately lost his son, Thomas, in an accident a decade ago.

“It’s a great thing to be able to share with my family,” Walker said. “It was an honor to coach my sons and grandsons. I have another grandson, Luke, who is in seventh grade and he’ll be coming up shortly. I don’t know if I have enough left to coach him. But I plan to be around if the Good Lord lets me. I’ve had a good life in baseball.”

Walker, now 75, still works full time for Costco Wholesale in Hackensack.

“I don’t want to retire, because if I did, I might fall apart,” Walker said. “I’m off on weekends and I work early in the morning, so I can come to practices and games in time.”

Walker has been with Costco, which also employed his late son Thomas, for 16 years.

“I don’t think I’ll ever retire,” he laughed.

Many of Walker’s former players returned for the dinner. People like Vin Auteri and Jeff Carroll spoke, as did Walker’s two surviving sons.

Lyndhurst athletic director and head baseball coach Frank “Butch” Servideo also spoke.

“I think when you think of 50 years, it shows how great his character is,” said Servideo, who recently lost his father to illness two weeks ago. “The only reason why he agreed to have the dinner was because it was going to help the current team go to Florida. He said he didn’t want anything. He asked me to promise him that the money could go to the trip.”

More than $2,000 was raised in honoring Walker.

“I didn’t need a plaque,” Walker said. “I have too many of those already and they collect dust. I didn’t want too much fanfare. I think it was great that they honored me. It was great to see some of my former players.”

Perhaps Walker’s biggest thrill came in 2008, when the Golden Bears won the NJSIAA Group I state baseball championship.

“That was a special time,” Walker said. “I have such great memories of that team. You know, it’s always nice to be on the winning end.”

“He has a good time with us,” said Servideo. “He coaches first base for us. We put him to work. He gets out there, still hitting fungoes, still teaching the kids ‘pepper.’ He thinks every kid should learn how to play pepper. He’s like our own Don Zimmer.”

Servideo was asked what it meant to have someone who dedicated 50 years of his life as a volunteer to Lyndhurst baseball.

“You don’t find that everywhere,” Servideo said. “You don’t find that kind of dedication. Everyone loves the man.”

And they all respect Walker, with many of the former players, now adults and parents of their own, calling Jim “Mr. Walker.”

“I still call him Mr. Walker,” Servideo said. “It was a great night, a great time and a nice way for us to honor him.”

Walker still has his pet peeves about the game.

“When kids have all different kinds of excuses, that really aggravated me,” Walker said. “When I first started, all kids wanted to do was play all the time. All they had to do was play hard and do things right and I was happy. The game has changed so much in 50 years.”

But Jim Walker is still part of the Lyndhurst baseball fabric, some 50 years after he started.

“I just hope I can keep going,” Walker said.

So does the rest of Lyndhurst, because people like Jim Walker are treasures to keep.