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Easing the way over

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent LYNDHURST – State officials are still pondering what to do about the century-old DeJessa Bridge which links Lyndhurst and Nutley across the Passaic River but, in the meantime, Bergen County has done its part to try and relieve congestion there. At the urging […]

Last chance to sound off on dog park

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent KEARNY –  The town is preparing to let the dogs out but first it wants the owners in. For a public meeting, that is, on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 7:30 p.m., in the second floor Town Council chambers at Town Hall […]

Ice storm took its toll on local roads

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  By the time you read this, we all may be trapped inside by a blizzard — if the current weather forecasts are correct. But it doesn’t necessarily take heavy snow to create havoc. Sometimes, a coating of ice is sufficient. […]


Bracing for funding shift

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  For the past 37 years, the Kearny nonprofit Pathways to Independence Inc. has helped those with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live independently in their communities. Currently, from its 3-level, 18,000 square foot headquarters at Kingsland and Bergen Aves., it offers on-site […]


A new ‘acquisition’

Tim Bixler, of The Bixler Group Real Estate and Insurance and his wife, Charissa Bixler, welcomed their daughter, Addison Paige Bixler, on Tuesday, Jan. 20, at 1:20 p.m. Big brother Brayden is beyond excited. Only a few more years until […]


Around Town


Bloomfield Public Library will host a free seminar on Qualifying for Medicaid on Friday, Nov. 16, at 3 p.m., presented by attorney Rhonda M. Benjamin. Benjamin has been practicing law since 1991. She specializes in Medicaid, preservation of assets, guardianships, trusts and estates, elder law, divorce, real estate, and estate planning.

A book discussion and lecture series about great science fiction authors continues at the library with a discussion on H.G. Wells and “War of the Worlds” on Saturday, Nov. 17, at noon.

The lecture will be presented by Ken Sibanda, a lawyer, filmmaker and science fiction writer. Sibanda wrote “The Return to Gibraltar” and is currently filming “V17,” a science fiction prequel to his feature film directorial debut, “Vindicator. ” He gives readings and lectures on a variety of topics involving history and importance of the science fiction genre and the black narrative. Sibanda returns on Dec. 8 to discuss Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

Unfortunately, the children’s library will be closed due to lack of heat. However, children’s staff will be available in the adult library to help. The Quiet Study room will be the temporary HQ of the children’s staff area and young children and their caretakers are welcome to come visit.

Storytimes, crafts and other programs will continue as scheduled in the adult library.

The library’s book club will meet on Monday, Dec. 3, at 6:45 p.m. in the board room to discuss “Little Bee” by Chris Cleave. A Nigerian refugee called “Little Bee” recalls her terrible past. An English woman named Sarah has trouble managing her young son after her husband’s suicide. The influence these two women have on each other’s lives will be indelible. For more information or to request help in locating a copy of the book club selection, call the reference desk at 973-566- 6200, ext. 502.

The Watsessing public workshop, originally scheduled for Nov. 8 at the Bloomfield Civic Center, has been cancelled and will be rescheduled either for later this month or for early December. The Township of Bloomfield has been awarded a grant to create a Transit Oriented Design Plan for the Watsessing neighborhood.

Community stakeholders gave their ideas and vision for the area around the Watsessing Train Station.

The public is invited to come out and review the draft vision and goals for the neighborhood.

Analyze the circulation and zone maps. Provide your feedback through interactive displays.

Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center is excited to host Grape Adventures – A Winetasting Event on Saturday, Nov. 24, at 7 p.m.

Just in time for holiday entertaining, the evening will feature experts offering advice and answering questions about selecting wines and pairing them with your favorite foods. Guests will sample fine wines from around the world and enjoy tasty hors d’ouevres. The cost is $30 per person.

Reservations are required. Please call the Oakeside office at 973-429-0960.


The Harrison Cancer League, in conjunction with the Harrison Board of Health, will be conducting breast screening and pap tests for any uninsured resident on Nov. 27 at the Board of Health office, 318 Harrison Ave., beginning at 5 p.m. For an appointment, call Maria Bradley at 862-763-0047. Appointments are limited.

The Harrison Cancer League is conducting a toy drive for the Valerie Fund, which works with children and young people, infants to age 21, who have been diagnosed with cancer and are undergoing treatment. Put a smile on the face of just one child by donating an unwrapped new gift or gift card. Gifts can be dropped off at the following locations, through Nov. 30, Monday through Friday: Harrison Community Center, 401 Warren St., 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Harrison Board of Health, 318 Harrison Ave. Annex, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Harrison Senior Center, 221 Harrison Ave., from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


The Kearny Elks Hoop Shoot will be held at the PBGC, 663 Kearny Ave., on Thursday, Nov. 15, at 6 p.m. All Kearny boys and girls ages 8 to 13 are eligible to participate. You must bring a copy of your birth certificate. Ron Pickel, youth activities chairman will supervise the basketball contest. If you have any questions, please call Tom Fraser, executive director of the PBGC at 201-991-6734 or Ron Pickel at 201-463-8447.

Local published author Laurie Perrone will lead a special free of charge holiday story time with her self-published book “Can You Imagine Plaid Flowers?”, at Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., on Saturday, Nov. 24, at 10 a.m. This program is intended for children ages 3 to 6. There will be light refreshments, a game with a prize and Perrone will be available to sign purchased books.

Perrone will also be promoting her debut young adult novel “The Fire in Grace: Coming Home,” available for pre-order on the author’s Web site www.plaidflowers.com. Call the Main Library at 201-998-2666 or visit <www.kearnylibrary.org> for more program information.

Kearny UNICO will be holding its next monthly meeting on Thursday, Nov. 15, 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.

Public safety will be the topic of guest speaker Chief John Dowie of the Kearny Police Department at the regular meeting of the Evening Membership Department of the Woman’s Club of Arlington on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 7:30 p.m. at the Henrietta Benstead Center, Columbia Avenue, Kearny.


The Lyndhurst Health Department will host its bi-annual blood screening on Friday, Dec. 7. Appointments begin at 8 a.m. This blood screening will include a chemistry profile, cholesterol level, blood count, and thyroid level. This service is available to Lyndhurst residents over the age of 18 for a $20 fee. Preregistration is required and appointments can be made by calling 201-804-2500. Payments can be submitted in cash or checks made payable to Medical Laboratory Diagnostics.

The Humane Society of Bergen County, 221-223 Stuyvesant Ave., Lyndhurst, has a supply of dog food, both canned, dry and treats, available (at no cost) to anyone due to unemployment, disability, or any other financial problem cannot afford to feed their dog. Just stop by or call 201-896-9300 for more information. Hours are: Monday and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday to Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Humane Society of Bergen County will be doing Christmas gift wrapping at the Barnes & Noble Stores in Clifton and Paramus. If you could find time to help us please call 201 896-9300 and someone can give you the available dates and times for both locations. The Lyndhurst Health Department has free flu vaccines and free TDaP (Tetanus, Diptheria, Pertussis) vaccines available for Lyndhurst residents over the age of 18. According to CDC guidelines, flu vaccines should be taken on an annual basis. Tetanus boosters are recommended to be taken every 10 years. Please call the Lyndhurst Health Department at 201-804-2500 to schedule an appointment.

The New Jersey Department of Human Services’ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services – Disaster and Terrorism Branch, are coordinating statewide efforts to help individuals and communities manage the emotional impact of the storm. Assistance is offered through a toll free Disaster Mental Health Helpline: 1-877-294-HELP (4357). A TTY line is available for persons who are deaf and hearing impaired at 1-877-294- 4356. Signs of distress may include any of the following physical and emotional reactions: sleeping too much or too little, stomachaches or headaches, anger, feeling edgy or lashing out at others, overwhelming sadness, worrying a lot of the time, feeling guilty but not sure why, feeling like you have to keep busy, lack of energy or always feeling tired, drinking alcohol, smoking or using tobacco more than usual, using illegal drugs, eating too much or too little, not connecting with others, feeling like you won’t ever be happy again, rejecting of help.

A special holiday Tricky Tray to commemorate the 100th anniversary of St. Michael’s Church, Lyndhurst will be held on Sunday, Nov. 25, at the Senior Center on Cleveland Avenue (off Valley Brook Avenue). Doors will open at noon and calling starts at 2 p.m. For tickets, call the rectory at 201-939-1161 and ask for Mary Ann or call Mary Lou at 201-933-2186.

The Meadowlands Environment Center, Two DeKorte Park Plaza, Lyndhurst will host a “Turkey Trot” on Sunday, Nov. 18, from 1 to 2 p.m. Learn about the star of Thursday’s dinner. The program will include some history, a scavenger hunt for kids (with prizes), and a great cranberry sauce demonstration and takehome recipe. Admission is $5 per person and $4 for MEC members. Note: The Environment Center is open for this event only. Due to storm damage, the rest of DeKorte Park is closed to the public indefinitely.

The Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst is looking for new members, women age 18 or older, who are willing to volunteer their time to bettering their community. The club meets once a month on the second Wednesday of the month. The next meeting is Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. at the Lyndhurst Community Center on Riverside Avenue. The club presently volunteers at the local food b bank and works to raise funds to help the homeless. Anyone interested in joining is welcome to attend the next meeting. There is no obligation to join at that meeting.

North Arlington

North Arlington Music Parents Association is sponsoring a craft fair and holiday bazaar on Friday, Nov. 16, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus hall, 194 River Rd., North Arlington. A 50/50 and mini Tricky Tray will be held during the evening. There will be a table for Cash for Gold. For vendor space, contact Georgann Reyes at georgeann.reyes@verizon. net or 201-463-5115.

The Queen of Peace Knights of Columbus Council #3428 will be sponsoring its annual Fall Blood Drive on Friday, November 23, from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Council Hall, 194 River Road, North Arlington. For further info, please call 201-988-0183.

The Queen of Peace Knights of Columbus Council #3428 will hold its annual breakfast honoring its deceased members on Sunday, Nov. 18, at 10 a.m., at the Council Hall, 194 River Rd., North Arlington. The cost is $5 and is open to all. Tickets can be obtained at the Council Hall, at the Queen of Peace Rectory, and by calling 201-988- 0183.

Vendors are wanted for the North Arlington Woman’s Club annual holiday bazaar on Wednesday, Nov. 28, from 6 to 9 p.m., at the Knights of Columbus, 194 River Road, North Arlington. The cost is $25 per table (approximately 8 ft. of space) and one item for donation for raffle. All proceeds for the event are donated to local charities. For more information or to request an application, please contact Christine Robertson at 201-577-1088.


Harrison’s Bond just wants to be like any of the boys


Photo courtesy Ronald Shields
Harrison High School freshman Caitlin Bond became the fi rst girl to ever play
football at the school and made it through the entire season, despite her lack of
size and knowledge of the game.


By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

Mike Bond remembers the day that his daughter, Caitlin, came home with a simple request. “She told me she wanted to play football,” said Mike Bond, a Harrison native who is a security guard, working with the Hudson County’s Sheriff’s Department. “At first, I was a little hesitant. But I told her that if she wanted to do something, all she had to do was put her mind into it and she could do it.”

Caitlin, a 14-year-old Harrison High School freshman, was determined to give football a try.

“I play softball and basketball, but football was something different that I wanted to do,” said Bond, a freshman wide receiver/ defensive back. “I wanted to prove that it was a sport that not only guys could play. Football was something different than all the other sports. I knew I was going to give it a try.”

So when Caitlin told her father, she didn’t know what the reaction would be.

“He was very supportive,” Bond said of her father. “He just told me that he didn’t want me to get hurt.”

Harrison High School head football coach Dave Nankivell knew Caitlin from playing in the town’s recreation softball program.

“I’ve known her for about three years and I knew she was serious, but I didn’t know what her motivation was,” Nankivell said. “I also didn’t know what we had to do legally.”

Nankivell said that he met with athletic director Kim Huaranga and school principal Ron Shields.

“We had to make sure we crossed every T and dotted every I,” Nankivell said. “This was all something new to me.”

Caitlin had to be told of all the different ramifications that came with being the first girl to ever play football for Harrison High School.

There would be dressing in a separate locker room, with no access whatsoever to the boys’ locker room. She was going to be asked to do all the same things that any member of the football team would be asked, in terms of physical conditioning.

“I sat her down and asked her if this was something she really wanted to do,” Nankivell said.

Caitlin Bond knew what was being expected of her.

“Once she understood, I said, `Welcome to the team,’” Nankivell said. “I just wanted to make sure she understood first.

My immediate reaction was caution. Caitlin’s not the biggest girl in the world, so I wanted to make sure she was able to hold her own. I also wanted to make sure that she wasn’t going to make a mockery of it. I really wanted to know her motivation. When she told me all she wanted to do was play football, I was all for it.”

And with that, little Caitlin Bond bucked the odds and became the first girl to ever play football in Harrison.

“She was not treated any differently from any of the boys,” Nankivell said. “She was asked to do everything.”

Since Bond never played organized football before, she had to find out what position she felt comfortable at.

“They actually asked me what position I wanted to play,” Caitlin Bond said. “I told the coaches I wanted to be a tight end or a wide receiver. I knew I wanted to be part of the offensive line.”

Bond never once was concerned about being able to handle the physical rigors of the sport.

“I wasn’t really worried about getting hurt,” Bond said. “If you get hurt in football, at least it proves you’re trying. The first couple of practices, I was wondering whether I could handle the conditioning, but I was used to it from playing basketball and softball. Even when the physical part got tougher, people always asked me when I was going to quit. I never once had the urge to quit. I knew I could handle it.”

“Caitlin is a very head strong kid,” Mike Bond said. “If she puts her mind to something, she’s going to do it, even if it is to prove everyone wrong. Sure, she came home with some bumps and bruises, but she was there every day. She hurt her knee and never said she couldn’t do it. She always said yes. She felt confident. The more she went to football practice, the more she liked it.”

Bond never once thought it was a difficult grind.

“It wasn’t that tough,” Bond said. “So I got dressed in a different locker room. I got on the field right after. The boys all accepted me as their teammate. I knew they would accept me, because I think I’m a good teammate in whatever sport I play. I felt pretty sure I could make it through the whole season.”

Which she has accomplished.

Despite the balky knee, Caitlin Bond survived the football season. She didn’t get to see much action, perhaps special teams play on the junior varsity level. But she was as much a part of the team as anyone else.

“She showed up every day for practice and was there every day,” Nankivell said. “It was a challenge to her, being that she’s undersized. But she did everything she was asked to do. I think the players didn’t look at her as a male or a female. She was just another football player. She stuck it out and came a long way in a short amount of time. There was never any quit in her and that’s why she was accepted as a teammate.”

Nankivell was asked how much of a football player Caitlin became.

“She needs time to learn the proper technique,” Nankivell said. “We lose a lot of firstyear football players because of it. But what Caitlin did is commendable. I give her a lot of credit because it wasn’t easy. She tried her hardest to be like everyone else. It’s not an easy sport. But she earned her stripes by being there.”

Caitlin Bond is happy she was able to stick it out through a tough season, through a year where the Blue Tide has not won a single game.

“I’m glad I did it,” Bond said. “I’m going to try to do it all four years of high school. There is a sense of accomplishment. Doing this helps build my confidence in everything. I think a lot of people are surprised I made it. They thought once I got hurt that I would quit. I think I’m even surprised I made it.”

However, her father isn’t.

“I’m very proud of her,” Mike Bond said. “She showed me that she really wanted to do something and she did it. It made me feel very proud of her being able to make it.”

As her athletic career in Harrison High continues, Bond hopes to play basketball and softball. Only in those sports, she’ll be with her own gender. She can put away the football pads and cleats until next August.

Kearny talented pair helps to lead Kardinals to Group IV championship meet

Kearny sophomore Aislinn Sroczynski (l.) and junior Erika Alzamora
proudly display their medals after ending up among the top 10 at the NJSIAA
state sectionals last Saturday.


Kearny sophomore Aislinn Sroczynski (l.) and junior Erika Alzamora
proudly display their medals after ending up among the top 10 at the NJSIAA
state sectionals last Saturday.


By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

For many years, Kearny High School boasted of having the very best girls’ cross country program in the area, even the state of New Jersey.

From the mid-1980s through 1991, the Kardinals regularly won championships in girls’ cross country. They won five NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV championships, including three straight from 1987 through 1989 and again in 1991. The Kardinals had such standout runners as Kathy Gray, Laura Wronski, Liz Duarte, Paula Costa and Julie Corbett, all of whom won Hudson County championships as Kardinal runners.

Duarte, maybe the most decorated runner in the history of the program, won state sectional championships in 1987 and 1988 and was crowned a Hudson County champion on three separate occasions.

In recent years, runners like Denise Araujo (2004), Jennifer Arocho (2006) and Tania Bernardino (2008) all won county championships.

There was a bit of a lull in the development of Kearny harrier champions, until this year, when junior Erika Alzamora was added to the list of Hudson County winners and helping Kearny enjoy a return to glory.

Last Saturday, at the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV championships at Greystone Park in Morris Plains, two Kearny runners stepped forward and helped to carry the entire team into the overall Group IV championships this Saturday in Holmdel Park in Holmdel.

Alzamora continued her brilliant season by finishing fifth overall in the state sectional, crossing the finish line in 19:45. Her teammate and friend Aislinn Sroczynski finished seventh overall in 20:03.

Because of the fine performances of Alzamore and Sroczynski, the Kardinals finished fourth overall, behind perennial powers Ridgewood, Morris Knolls and Randolph to earn a berth as an entire team at the overall Group IV meet.

That alone is a major accomplishment – and maybe the truest sign that the Kardinal girls’ cross country program is returning to its roots.

Alzamora said that she had a tough time at the unfamiliar surroundings of Greystone.

“It was a tough course,” Alzamora said. “There was a lot of pressure on me after winning the county meet. I knew I had to be one of the top runners here. I was worried about placing and worried about qualifying for Holmdel.”

Alzamora said that Greystone proved to be a big of a challenge.

“It was definitely a confusing course,” Alzamora said. “I really didn’t know where I was going. I just tended to follow the lead.”

Still, for someone with limited cross country experience, she felt gratified to finish fifth.

“It was amazing,” Alzamora said. “I really wanted to win the race, but I’ll take fifth. It’s a great feeling.”

Sroczynski was overjoyed with her seventh place finish.

“I felt really good the whole race,” Sroczynski said. “I was really nervous about the race, because I was also worried about qualifying for Holmdel. I was picked by some to finish lower than 10th and that would have meant I wouldn’t have made it. I knew I was seventh and just wanted to be able to hang on and not fall off. I did even better than I could have expected. My time really didn’t matter, although I wanted to break 20 (minutes).”

Sroczynski just missed her goal by three seconds.

“I was going for a high place, because it was all about qualifying,” Sroczynski said.

Sroczynski is also a latebloomer when it comes to cross country.

“I played soccer last year,” said the talented sophomore. “This is my first year in cross country. It’s definitely treating me better than soccer did. I guess I made a good choice.”

Junior Wendy Carranza was 26th overall, finishing the course at Greystone in 21:17, helping significantly to the Kardinals’ team cause.

Junior Mariah Davila was 29th in 21:32, giving the Kardinals a lot of hope for the future, because none of the top four finishers are seniors. They will all be back and better for next season.

The same can be said for Noemi Campos, who is a junior. Campos was 55th overall Saturday in 22:33.

Melissa Castaneda was the next Kearny finisher. She was 96th in 25:59.

Veteran coach Jim Cifelli has to be very pleased with the Kardinals’ performance and the fact that the cross country season has been extended by one week at Kearny.

Another local team that punched its ticket for Holmdel is Lyndhurst, which finished third as a team in the North Jersey Section 2, Group I bracket.

A trio of sophomores, Andre Francisco, Kane McDermott and Stephen Covello, all finished among the top 10 to earn the trip to Holmdel.

Francisco was sixth overall in 17:43.47, with McDermott eighth and Covello ninth.

It’s not exactly the success the Golden Bears experienced in recent years when they had a sure-fire stud in Patrick Rono, now at the University of Arkansas, but it’s still a respectable finish, nonetheless for the Golden Bears.

North Arlington’s Martin keeps family football tradition thriving

Photo by JIm Hague
North Arlington junior tight end/linebacker Nick Martin.


By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

When Nick Martin was younger, he didn’t have to look far to find the inspiration needed to become a top-flight high school football player. The current North Arlington High School standout junior tight end/linebacker was fortunate enough to come from a family of gridiron greats. Nick’s older brother, Glenn, was a fine center and linebacker during his playing days with the Vikings six years ago. Their cousin, Ryan Kenny, was a fine quarterback who was a teammate of Glenn Martin.

“Growing up, Glenn and I were six years apart, so it was easy for me to look up to him,” Nick Martin said. “I saw him as a big-time North Arlington football player and when I saw how good of a player he became, I wanted to be as good as him. Glenn definitely pushed me. I went to all of his games throughout high school and he was a great inspiration.”

North Arlington head football coach Anthony Marck coached both players.

“Glenn was one of the top five or six players I ever coached,” Marck said. “Because Glenn is a little older, he took on the tutor role. Glenn absolutely loved the game of football and I think that definitely carried over to Nick.”

A year ago, Nick Martin earned his spot on the Vikings’ roster as a sophomore, but he thought he could become a much better player.

“I knew I wasn’t the biggest threat out there,” Martin said. “I wasn’t as big as the others and I didn’t have experience. There was a tremendous leap from JV (junior varsity) to varsity. I just didn’t see myself as a threat.”

So Nick received some private tutoring from the best teacher he could find.

“Glenn knows so much that he’s like an assistant coach,” Nick Martin said. “When Coach Marck gives me a game film, Glenn and I break it down together. We watch films together every Thursday night. It helps me a lot, especially on the defensive side. We both have experience at middle linebacker, so he tells me what to watch and what to look for.”

Apparently, the football lessons learned at home have been a tremendous assistance to Nick Martin, who is enjoying a spectacular junior year for the Vikings.

As a tight end, the 6-foot-2, 240-pound Martin has caught 34 passes from talented quarterback A.J. Nocciolo, good for 550 yards and six touchdowns.

Defensively, Martin is the team’s leading tackler with 43 tackles. He’s also had one interception.

Last Friday night, Martin had perhaps his best allaround game of the season, catching four passes for 72 yards and an 11-yard touchdown from Nocciolo. He also had nine solo tackles and a sack, leading the Vikings to a 41-8 victory over Harrison.

For his efforts, Martin has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.

Marck cannot say enough superlatives about his talented junior.

“I can’t wait to hand out transcripts and tapes of this kid to the colleges, because he has it all,” Marck said. “He makes all the calls on defense and has the best set of hands I’ve ever seen catching the ball. The other day, I was talking to my assistants about Nick’s hands. They’re so soft, the best pair of soft hands ever. We thought about it and realized that Nick has never dropped a single ball that was thrown to him, in practice, in a game, anywhere. Against Harrison, he caught one pass and was carrying defenders on his back as he ran. He’s just a great kid, a great student and a great player.”

Martin put on significant body weight from last year to this, going from 215 pounds to a solid 240 now.

“I really did work hard over the offseason, pushing myself every day,” Martin said. “I play basketball as well, but even during the basketball season, I was in the weight room five or six times a week. I worked with a personal trainer once a week to work on my speed and agility. I knew that I needed to be quicker and more flexible. As a tight end, I just didn’t want to get out into the open field and get caught.”

Martin recalled a play last year against Wallington where he took a pass and thought he was gone. “But I got caught at the 8-yard line and didn’t get the score,” Martin said. “That stuck with me. I made sure I wasn’t going to get caught this year.” Sure enough, Martin’s test came against Waldwick, when he had a 62-yard touchdown reception.

“That was my sign that the hard work paid off,” Martin said.

Martin said that he has a great working relationship with Nocciolo, that the two are on the same page.

“A.J. is a great quarterback,” Martin said. “With my new speed, I am getting the ball in the open field more. I think A.J. looks to me a lot, because he knows I’m going to catch the ball if he throws it to me. Plus, I don’t go down easily. I’m a quick target with my short routes and screens.” Although he’s a standout on defense and will more than likely be a linebacker on the college level, Martin feels he’s better on offense.

“I feel like I’m a better tight end,” Martin said. “There’s no comparison how much harder it is on the defensive side. I think I’m better offensively because of A.J. He makes it easier.”

Marck believes that Martin’s biggest asset is his brain.

“He’s an outstanding young man,” Marck said. “He is extremely coachable and is very helpful with his knowledge of the game. There are times that I’ve made a call and Nick will look to the sideline, telling me that we can’t run that play, that it won’t work. He’s tremendous like that. He knows what will work in the blocking scheme, because he is so knowledgeable.”

Martin is also an excellent student in the classroom. He’s ranked among the top 10 in the North Arlington junior class, carrying a 4.1 grade point average. Martin said that he would much rather be recognized for his classroom prowess than his football abilities.

“I honestly would like to get a scholarship based on my grades,” Martin said. “That’s been my main goal. I think people in my life would appreciate that more of me if I was accepted for my brains.”

Martin likes the way the Vikings are closing out the 2012 season.

“Coach Marck told us before the Queen of Peace game that it was the beginning of a three-game season,” Martin said. “He told us that we could make it a successful season if we won the last three games. We really don’t want to let the coaches down. We want to end the year with three wins and that would give us some confidence going into next year.”

No question, Martin will be one of the leaders for the Vikings in 2013.

“He’s definitely going to be one of our captains,” Marck said. “He’s a physically gifted kid with a great brain. He’s the kind of kid you want in your program, both on and off the field.”

Marck said that he is thinking about moving Martin to fullback for next season, so he can get more touches.

“I would welcome that,” Martin said of the position change. “I think losing A.J. will give me more of a chance to get the ball and that’s easier out of the backfield.”

“Nick has a good chance to be right there with his brother as our best players ever,” Marck said. “There’s no doubt he can play on the college level.”

How Nick Martin gets to college is another story, but he certainly has a very bright future, both as an athlete and a young man.


Maria Coppola

Maria Coppola (nee Colagrosso) died on Nov. 5 in The Canterbury in Cedar Grove. She was 81. Born in Catolicca, Sicily, she lived in Harrison before moving to North Arlington in 1999.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass was held in St. Stephen’s Church, Kearny, followed by interment in Holy Cross Cemetery. To leave an online condolence, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Mrs. Coppola was a volunteer at West Hudson Hospital. She is wife of Louis Coppola and the late Vito Ascone; mother of Frank Ascone (the late Linda), Benjamin Ascone (Marilyn), Victoria Rapon (Howard) and Marylou Raponkus (Christopher); sister of Frances Zeolla and Anna Finelli; also surviving are nine grand and four greatgrandchildren.


James P. Herriron “Cherrybomb “

James P. Herriron “ Cherrybomb “, 84, died on Friday, Oct. 26, at his niece’s home in Lyndhurst.

Born in Newark, he lived in Harrison before moving to North Arlington in 1987.

He worked for Bell Atlantic in New Brunswick for many years before retiring in 1989. He served in the United States Army. He was a member of the Elk’s Lodge , the Pleasure Club and the Moose all of Harrison, the Elk’s Lodge of North Arlington and the Kearny Eagles.

He was the beloved twin brother of Patrick J., the brother of the late Mae McDonald , the loving uncle of Laura Comppen and her husband Eduardo Rodrigues, and the cherished great-uncle of Ruby and Carson Rodrigues.

The funeral was from the Parow Funeral Home 185 Ridge Rd., North Arlington on Friday, Nov. 2, with a funeral Mass in Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, North Arlington. Entombment followed Holy Cross Chapel Mausoleum, North Arlington.

Joseph F. Kwiecien, Jr.

Joseph F. Kwiecien Jr., 67, passed away on Nov. 1 after a short illness.

He was a lifelong resident of Harrison. He is the son of Lottie (nee Dunaj) and the late Joseph F. Kwiecien Sr. He was preceded in death by his brother Richard, and sister Patricia.

Joseph is survived by his son, Joseph E. Kwiecien and wife Michele of Kentucky; grandsons Jason and Brandon; his sisters Joanne Maier and husband Steve, Deborah Manzo and husband Bill; nephews Scott Maier and William J. Manzo; and niece Allison Manzo. Joseph served his country during the Vietnam Conflict as a Drill Sergeant, stationed in Fort Dix, New Jersey.

Private arrangements were by Peacock-Newnam and White in Southport, N.C. In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to The Belgrove Acute Care Center in Kearny. You may make online memorials at www.peacocknewnamwhite.com. Arrangements were by the Peacock – Newnam and White Funeral and Cremation Service, Southport, N.C.

Orlando A. Melillo

Orlando A. Melillo “Mooney” died on Nov. 9 in Valley Hospital. He was 93. Born in Newark, he lived in North Arlington before moving to Mahwah 12 years ago. Visiting will be on Tuesday, Nov. 13, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. Service will be conducted at 5:30 p.m. during the visiting hours, followed by a private cremation. To leave an online condolence please visit www.armitagewiggins.com

Mooney was an all-state catcher at Barringer High School in Newark and served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He was stationed outside of Naples, Italy where he loaded bombs onto B-17 fighters. He was proud to have given each bomb a little kiss good bye. He was a retired cement truck driver for Loizeau Concrete in Elizabeth and was a member of the Teamsters.

The last of 10 sibling he is survived by his wife Ann (nee Ross), his children Nicholas and Eloise Melillo and his grandchildren Nicholas and Suzanne. Orlando loved being the beloved Uncle Mooney to so many cherished nieces and nephews and their families.

In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to Wounded Warriors.

Richard W. O’Connell

Richard W. O’Connell died at home on Nov. 10. He was 69. Born in Orange, he lived in Bloomfield, then Lake Hiawatha before moving to Kearny 24 years ago.

Visiting will be on Tuesday, Nov. 13, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. Family and friends are also invited to gather at the funeral home on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 11:30 a.m., before leaving for Holy Cross Cemetery at noon. To leave an online condolence please visit www.armitagewiggins.com

Mr. O’Connell was a warehouse manager for Volvo Motor Car Company in East Rutherford. Husband of Georgette (nee Coons), he is the father of Richard O’Connell and the late Edward “Eddieo” O’Connell. He is also survived by his sister Barbara Murtell.

Grace M. Sellari

Grace M. Sellari (nee Lombardino) died on Nov. 8 at home. She was 77. Born in Newark, she has lived the past 50 years in Kearny.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass was held in St. Cecilia’s Church, followed by entombment in Holy Cross Cemetery. To leave an online condolence, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com

Mrs. Sellari was a cosmetic counter manager at Haines in Newark and Macy’s in Paramus.

Wife of Anthony R. Sellari, she is the mother of Sal Capardi (Valerie), Debbie Beard (Billy) and Millie Capardi; sister of Paul Lombardino and the late Rose Monetti; also surviving are six grand and three great-grandchildren.

Real Estate Review


Harrison Realty first opened its doors on July 1, 1993. Located at 111 North Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard, the business is currently celebrating 20th year of unprecedented service to the real estate community.

The core philosophy and values of Harrison Realty are commitment, integrity, and honesty to all of their clients and colleagues. This philosophy is reflected in the experienced, qualified, and competent staff at Harrison Realty.

Since 2000 Harrison Realty has consistently listed and/or sold more properties in Harrison than any other real estate office located in West Hudson or the South Bergen area.

Providing unprecedented service, here are the results: *

Two to Four Family Homes 127

Single Family Homes 39

Condominiums 49

(*Source: New Jersey Multiple Listing Service, LLC)

Whether you plan to buy, sell, rent or if you’re just thinking about it – stop in our office or call 973-484-8100 for assistance with any of your real estate needs.


Furnishing Main Street

By Denise Miller

Now celebrating its 60th anniversary, Mace Brothers Fine Furniture is part of the town landscape. A large grey building on the corner of Oakwood and Kearny Avenue, this seven level store is an example of small business success and years of dedication to service, quality and value.

Established in 1952 by Lillian Mace and Richard Mace, Mace Brothers Fine Furniture started out in a small building in Kearny. As the business grew in the ‘70’s, it relocated to a larger showroom at 512 Kearny Ave., where it continually provided New Jersey residents with an affordable, local option for home furnishings. Lillian Mace, one the only women in the industry at the time, dedicated her career to the business, believing in the importance of serving her community. She passed this love furniture on to her daughter and her granddaughter who carry on her tradition of quality, service and value. On their 60th anniversary, Mace Brothers would like to welcome new customers into their store’s tradition and thank their loyal customers for their ongoing support.

There will be a raffle drawing on Nov. 17 to win a free Lazboy.

Local businesses accept donations for Hurricane Sandy victims

Two local Kearny businesses -Fire Pit located on Belleville Turnpike and Investors Bank on Bergen Avenue –are teaming up to collect donations for those affected in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Donations –shoes, new underwear, bedding, clothing, personal hygiene products, etc –can be dropped off directly at Investors Bank, 300 Bergen Ave., Kearny, during the banks working hours.

The cbp: LLC Theatrical Troupe joins together for Sandy Relief

The “cbp:LLC” theatrical troupe, in place of its postponed Jukebox Jubilee musical revue (temporarily suspended due to hurricane location damage and electrical outages), will host a Sandy Relief Drive at the All-American Sports Shop, 482 Stuyvesant Ave., Lyndhurst, Sunday, Nov. 11, between 12 to 4 p.m.

Troupe members will be collecting necessary donation items such as: gently-used warm weather clothing (all sizes); canned foods; toiletries (incl. feminine products); new baby items; blankets, etc. Additionally, further information about the reassigned Jukebox Jubilee performance dates and future 2012 – 2013 season productions will be made available.

For more information, feel free to contact the troupe at 201-563-1746 or email cherryblossomplayers@gmail.com.

Sandy huffed and puffed and left almost everyone’s lives in turmoil

Main photo by Kim Pezzolla; Bottom photos by Ron Leir
TOP: Hundreds line up in hopes of getting gas for cars and generators during the storm’s aftermath at a Kearny Exxon station located on Kearny and Oakwood avenues. Bottom left: Sandy soaked this First Street homeowner’s property in Harrison. Bottom right: A section of Warren Street in Harrison suffered flooding.


By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent

Once upon a time, the Dodgers had a dandy southpaw named Sandy who blew away opposing hitters with a tremendous fastball and a wicked curve.

Well, a not so dandy Hurricane Sandy has come and gone but not without leaving a calling card that reminded us not to fool with Mother Nature.

It also reminded us how we tend to take for granted electricity to power heating systems and cell phones, batteries for flashlights and gas for our cars.

And, of course, that most precious commodity – water.

As a 14th-floor resident of a Jersey City highrise still without power – and having spent one night with friends in Essex County and another with maybe 100 others at the Jersey City Armory – I’m one of Sandy’s victims.

But certainly I’m a lot more fortunate that many others – like those folks in Breezy Point, Queens, N.Y., who lost their homes – some 90 of them – in a devastating fire that raked their community.

Not to mention those closer to home – in the communities featured in The Observer – who’ve gone through their own personal ordeals.

For those who’ve been hiding under the covers, away on vacation or in self-denial, Tony Mondaro, director of the Harrison Weather Center, tells us that locally, winds from Sandy as it made landfall last Monday night gusted between 65 to 75 mph in the West Hudson region and, in Harrison itself, reached 68 mph.

Although forecasters classified Sandy as a Category 1 storm, Mondaro says it should really be upgraded to Category 3 – as far as this area is concerned – if you factor in wind, pressure and flooding.

Coming as it did, at the time of the high moon, Sandy accounted for a merging of the Passaic and Hackensack rivers, triggering a “sevento 10-foot surge where they met,” according to Mondaro.

That was pretty obvious to East Newark storm troopers, Mayor Joseph Smith and Police Chief Ken Sheehan, as they watched in amazement as the Passaic crested on the night of Oct. 29.

Photos by Ron Leir
Harrison homeowner’s basement ceiling collapsed due to Sandy’s wrath. RIGHT: Harrison Police Chief Derek Kearns (l.) and OEM/ Fire Director Harold Stahl in “storm central” headquarters in Harrison.

“I’m 72,” Smith said, “and I’ve never seen anything like this since I’m living here.” Observed Sheehan: “It was like you were watching a movie.”

“Passaic Avenue flooded and the water started to come into Reynolds Avenue, where one side of the street is East Newark and the other Harrison,” Smith said. “Those new houses have slanted driveways and the water started flowing into their basements.” Sheehan said the borough’s fire volunteers used a donated rowboat to help evacuate some 25 adults and children from six homes, including two elderly people, one of whom was treated by EMS before being transported to a nearby relative. Virtually everybody else got back into their homes.

Fire volunteers also deployed their boat in response to a distress call “about a man stranded under (Rt.) 280 but that turned out to be a bogus call,” the chief said. Firefighters cut off a section of Harrison Supply Co.’s tin roof that the storm had loosened and posed a potential menace if a gust caused it to be airborne.

Patrol cars rode around the tiny borough with their lights during the night, “from Monday to 3 a.m. (this past) Friday,” when power was restored, Sheehan said. “People were very happy about that, since we had no street lights on.”

Across the border in Harrison, first responders were also busy, as the town’s weary OEM Coordinator/Fire Director Harold Stahl recalled last Wednesday.

“The Passaic River came over its banks at 6 p.m., just prior to the lights going out,” Stahl said. And it didn’t take long for local storm water drains to back up, spilling water along Warren, Sussex and Bergen streets, off First Street, quickly filling residents’ basements and first floors.

Similarly distressed were residents along Hamilton Street, Reynolds Avenue and Cleveland Avenue.

Given the speed and volume of water, Stahl said “the decision was made to get those people out,” so with the aid of a boat on loan from the Hudson County Office of Emergency Management and with the “first time” use of a front end loader with bucket, police and fire employees deployed to rescue more than 60 residents during the storm’s first six hours, Stahl said.

Photos courtesy Laurie Perrone

Among those victimized was Becky Kipilla, whose house near the corner of First and Warren streets was inundated with water.

“It’s my second year in a row,” Kipilla lamented. “We got new boilers, heaters after (Hurricane) Irene. That was a nightmare but this is 10 times worse.”

She invited a reporter to check out her first floor waterlogged rug, along with much of her remaining furniture – excluding a couch and odds and ends tossed out on the sidewalk – and her soaked basement, with its partly fallen in ceiling, filled with debris.

During the rush to flee the flooding house, Kipilla recalled, “my 90-year-old mother had to be put in her wheelchair and carried down by the block.” An elderly woman tenant living upstairs also had to be helped out, she said.

For now, Kipilla will be staying with her brother in Hasbrouck Heights.

First Street neighbors Rogelio and Josefa Gomez, who came from their native Spain 45 years ago to settle in Harrison, were also rescued by boat, according to grandson David Garcia.

“My grandfather has a heart condition and diabetes so he and my grandmother had just enough time to grab his medicines and a change of clothes before they got out,” Garcia said.

They also got the one, two punch from Irene and Sandy. “After Irene, they remodeled their basement and now, their new couches, new furniture is all gone,” Garcia said. “The basement ceiling collapsed. All the paint is coming off the walls. The fridge is floating.”

Garcia, who lives on Bergen Street with seven other family members, also ended up evacuating but luckily they can return and, for now, take in his grandparents.

Stephanie Esteban, who lives on Warren Street with her parents and two sisters, remembered being freaked out by the sight of water rushing into basement windows at around 7 p.m. “just as it was getting dark.” A boat manned by firefighters appeared in their back yard and she climbed through a window, bruising her leg in the process, to safety.

“My uncle is going to try to come from New York to get us,” she said.

It was touch and go for a while as rescuers rowed to the rescue of a security guard stuck on the roof of building on Cape May Road, Stahl said. The rescuers “were just about in tidal waters” when they managed to grab the guard, he said.

Harrison Avenue resident Ellen Castignone heard a crashing noise inside her second floor apartment at around 7:30 p.m. when Sandy hit, after her lights went out, and she discovered that the wind had apparently shattered one of her bathroom windows.

Undaunted, Castignone said she grabbed her camera and went outside to check on a friend down the block and to snap pictures of the havoc caused by Sandy and people’s reactions to the storm. Harrison opened its senior center and high school as emergency shelters to accommodate more than 200 residents at the peak of the storm, Stahl estimated.

In Kearny, Mayor Alberto Santos said the storm flooded PSE&G substations in Newark and Jersey City that feed power to the town so utility personnel were kept busy bailing out the excess water which also rushed into the basements of “dozens” of homes east of Schuyler Avenue and along East Midland Avenue and Hoyt Street, prompting a handful of evacuations with boats borrowed from the Board of Education. Santos said that flooding also washed out the police/fire precinct on Hackensack Avenue that the town was leasing from a private owner.

“All our equipment and furniture is lost,” he said.

South Kearny was inundated by a tidal surge that rose eight to 10 feet, estimated Fire Chief Steven Dyl, and that hindered firefighters responding to a potentially dangerous toxic plume that arose in the early morning hours on Oct. 30 from Aldeen Leeds, a manufacturer of swimming pool chemicals on Jacobus Avenue.

Dyl said that storm water apparently mixed with chlorine, one of the chemicals used by the plant, causing it to smolder and triggering a release of the chlorine gas into the air.

“It was a very strong chlorine odor – but probably 100 times worse than being exposed to, say, an open container of Chlorox,” Dyl said.

Once firefighters got to the site at around 3:30 a.m., since nobody was working at the plant at the time, “it took a while to determine which building had the actual fire,” Dyl said.

Warnings were broadcast by the county Office of Emergency Management advising residents in the area of the prevailing winds to keep their windows closed and to stay indoors.

Eventually, Dyl said, responders included Kearny Fire and Police Departments, HazMat teams from Jersey City, Bayonne and State Police, the state Dept. of Environmental Protection, Kearny Health Dept. and Hudson Regional Health Commission (HRHC).

“We evacuated the area between Central Avenue and the Passaic River and from River Terminal to the CSX rail yards,” Dyl said.

Angela DeQuina, HRHC deputy director, said that once the source of the smoldering was pinpointed and HazMat personnel were able to get inside the building, the chlorine reagent was “secured in watertight” containers and the situation was declared under control by that afternoon. A DEP spokesman said that air monitoring conducted both inside the plant and along the Belleville Turnpike (Rt. 7) on Oct. 30 concluded that no toxins were being released and the situation “didn’t pose a threat to the public.” He said the chemical plant hired a contractor to separate the compromised area from the “non-damaged materials.”

Also in South Kearny, Dyl said firefighters responded to several fires, some involving tractor-trailers on North Hackensack Avenue and on Central Avenue, and two fires at River Terminal. There was also a two-alarm fire at a Tappan Street residence and a one-alarm fire on Davis Avenue.

Storm gusts ripped section of roof from Town Hall on Kearny Avenue so the town immediately called in Bower & Co. Siding & Roofing, a local contractor, for emergency repairs and, within a few days of the mishap, the municipal building – hooked up to a generator – was reopened to the public.

Like other communities in the immediate area, Kearny public schools remained closed in the aftermath of Sandy with windows on one side of the high school shattered and solar panels and some roof fabric ripped from Franklin Elementary School, reported Mark Bruscino, school district operations director.

“We’re waiting for the power to come back at the high school and at Lincoln (Elementary) School,” Bruscino said. “All other schools have power.”

Sandy’s handiwork caused traffic tie-ups at the Rt. 7 bridge connecting North Arlington and Belleville. Wind damage to the former Dutch Reformed Church that blew off some roof shingles, compromised the steeple and left the cross tilting prompted public safety officials to detour vehicles coming on and off the bridge into Belleville, onto Main Street.

Belleville showed itself ahead of the curve in reacting to late-developing runs on gasoline by convening an emergency session of its governing body, whose members voted Nov. 1 – before Gov. Chris Christie issued his executive order on Nov. 3 – to put into effect an “odd-even” system for buying gas at the pump in the township. This law, which took effect this past Monday, applies both to motorists fueling their vehicles and to folks with gas cannisters.

The mayor and Township Council also voted to implement a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew – except for going to work, attending school or going to a doctor. Offenders could spend up to 90 days in jail or being fined as much as $2,000 or doing up to 90 days of community service.

Township Manager Kevin Esposito said that with “gas being a hot commodity,” Belleville “has had tremendous traffic, not only from within Belleville but from the region, and we end up with long gas lines that go for several miles. That wrecks havoc on our streets and we need a police presence to control it.”

So, this past Friday, township officials met with seven local gas station owners to pitch their proposal which, according to Esposito, the owners willingly accepted.

“They want to conduct their business in a safe fashion,” he said.

During the storm – and after – Esposito said police, fire and public works employees were “out in full force” sheltering people evacuated from flooded areas in the Silver Lake and Valley sections and dealing with downed power lines and toppled trees.

Initially, the township used the high school as an emergency shelter, but when the school lost power, switched to the Knights of Columbus for a couple of nights and then returned to the high school.

“Luckily for us, Clara Maass (Medical Center) didn’t lose power,” Esposito noted.

There was a fire triggered by live wires on the roof of a Columbus Avenue house and a window at School 3 blown out, Esposito said.

“Our first responders worked effortlessly, like a well-oiled machine,” he said.

For those in Belleville still without power, Esposito said the most current PSE&G prediction was it would be back “by Nov. 9.”

In Nutley, about five percent of the township’s residents remain without electricity, according to Mayor Alphonso Petracco and Public Affairs Commissioner Steven Rogers. That represents “less than 100” homeowners, Petracco said.

Residents who’ve been left in cold apartments or homes are invited to stay at the Public Affairs offices on Chestnut Street, the mayor said. Residents on blocks where power has been restored, but whose electrical service has been disconnected from a street power source, are urged to call the township’s code enforcement office at (973) 284-4950 to find out how to get reconnected, Petracco said.

Petracco said the township is deferring – for now – its annual municipal Halloween celebration due to storm-related activities.

The mayor said the township will soon be organizing a “meatball challenge” fundraising event to benefit Jersey Shore victims of Sandy.

“Stay tuned for details,” he said.

North Arlington volunteers evacuated residents from flooded out River Road residents by boat.

Councilman Joseph Bianchi said that “a few of our apartment buildings” and “one of our dining establishments” have been “red-tagged” as being in need of municipal inspections due to flood conditions.

“Our OEM (Office of Emergency Management) Coordinator, Police Chief Louis Ghione, did a marvelous job coordinating all our departments in responding to Sandy,” Bianchi said.

The borough sheltered “about 20” residents temporarily in its senior citizen center in the aftermath of the storm. “We gave them coffee and blankets,” Bianchi said. “I believe we were the first town back up with Comcast (cable TV).”

North Arlington got help from Kearny and Belleville in refueling its fire and police vehicles, he said. And PSE&G worked closely with borough workers in attempting to restore normalcy, he added.

“We’re heading in the right direction in our post-Sandy recovery,” Bianchi said.