By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent HARRISON – In front of Goodwill Industries’ building on Supor Blvd., there is a brand new sign. “Palisades Regional Academy,” it reads. Has Goodwill moved? Only in the sense of moving forward in its stated mission “to empower individuals with disabilities and other barriers […]
By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent HARRISON – The sacred relic of the Holy Cross stolen last month from the church that bears its name has been recovered and returned to its Harrison home, and police believe they have a line on the thief. “It is undamaged, […]
By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent HARRISON/EAST NEWARK – Every weekday morning when the East Newark Public School is in session, some Davis St. commuters enroute to work face an early nightmare just leaving their block. That’s because from 7:45 to 8:30 a.m., as children file into the […]
There will be a pet and family event on Saturday, Oct. 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in Library Park, 415 Harrison Ave., Harrison. This is a free event for the whole family and their pets and animal venders […]
By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – Tired of seeing a plethora of overflow trash cluttering the sidewalks in the town’s retail district, especially after weekend deposits, Kearny is unleashing a new weapon to counteract the unseemly collections. It’s the solar-powered Big- Belly trash receptacle. The town got four […]
At about 6 p.m., at Chestnut St. and Wilson Ave., Officers John Fabula and Daniel Esteves arrested shoplifting suspect William Ferguson, 49, of Newark, who allegedly had just fled on foot from Rite Aid on Kearny Ave. Ferguson was found to have warrants from Kearny, Maplewood, North Arlington and Union — all for shoplifting. He was remanded to the Hudson County Jail.
Richard Stevens, 28, of Kearny, who was wanted by Lyndhurst, Newark and Stafford Township, managed to call attention to his presence at Tappan St. and Davis Ave. at 8:45 p.m. by urinating in public, police said. He was taken into custody by Officers Jordenson Jean and Frank West, was issued a town ordinance violation and turned over to the Lyndhurst PD. Read more »
At 7:12 a.m., police responded to an activated burglar alarm at a barber shop at Centre St. and Bloomfield Ave. and noticed that the rear door was open. In the rear of the shop, police discovered a man holding a container of orange juice and a bottle of water. He was very wet and appeared to be highly agitated. Police also found a puddle of water and broken glass on the floor and the exterior basement doors open. Entering the basement, police saw water spraying from overhead copper pipes, the basement in disarray and extensive damage to both storefront rear entrances. Police said the man, identified as Joseph Deforge, 52, of Manville, was arrested on a warrant from Hillsborough. He was also charged with burglary, criminal mischief, two counts of burglary tools, theft and attempted burglary. He was held at the Essex County Jail after failing to post $75,000 bail. Read more »
In its July 1 editions, The New York Times reported that, starting this month, the Associated Press would use computer automation to “report” about companies’ quarterly earnings.
The computer software company, furnished with data from a research source, will spew out stories “written with the tone, personality and variability of a human writer,” according to the company’s website, The Times noted.
So, we’ll get dry corporate cash reports delivered with a poet’s touch. Sounds intriguing. Read more »
By Kevin Canessa Jr.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a fan of good television. And you’re more than aware that for years, TV series stopped in the summer months — and were always marked by the shows you saw all winter long in repeats.
But thanks to several Canadian imports — most notably, “Rookie Blue,” – the summer months on network TV are no longer just repeats. In fact, in the case of “Rookie Blue,” the summer months offer some of the best TV of the entire year.
Most don’t even realize just how active the Canadian television show market is. In addition to “Rookie,” Canada also offers us the second-year cop drama “Motive,” which is wildly popular north of the border and here in the U.S. (But we’ll save “Motive” for another review.) Read more »
By Kevin Canessa Jr.
For years, it’s been known as one of the finest Italian restaurants in all of Bergen County. But there’s a little-known secret that Il Villaggio has also sported a banquet hall for weddings and special events for the last six years.
And owner Ralph Magliocchetti hopes people realize that whether it’s a fine lunch, dinner or special event — it can all happen at the ristorante he’s owned for the last 35 years.
“We do lunch during the week and dinner every night but Sunday,” he said.
So what sets him apart from other Italian restaurants? It’s the service and his staff he says.
“I have some waiters who have been with me for 25 … 30 years,” he said. “I have bartenders who have been with me 25 to 30 years. So when people come here, they know the people who will serve them. And the service is unmatched anywhere.”
That in and of itself is quite extraordinary, considering how in so many other establishments, there’s immense turnover. But there’s even more, he says.
“We’re most noted for our fish,” he said. “We use only the freshest and top-quality ingredients — and that certainly sets us apart from the rest.”
Beyond lunch, served weekdays from 11:30 a.m., and dinner, served weeknights from 3:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Saturdays from 5 to 11 p.m., Il Villaggio’s banquet halls, which opened six years ago, offer the perfect spot for a wedding, a prom, corporate events or any other type of large-scale event requiring catering.
There are rooms of varying sizes, including one that can hold more than 200 people. There are special packages for weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs and sweet 16s. There is a buffet menu — or there is a five- and six-course menu to choose from.
The buffet can include anything from a fruit display to a salad station to a carving station with London broil, Vermont turkey, glazed honey ham, boneless loin of pork to a pasta station with penne ala vodka, prosciutto and fennel, tortellini alla panna, cavatelli with broccoli, garlic and oil or farfalle pasta primavera. And then some.
There are also assorted veal and chicken dishes and an assortment of desserts.
All of these offerings are also available at the restaurant, also.
So if you’re looking for a spot for a wedding, a religious event, a corporate event — or if you’re simply craving a fine Italian meal without having to travel into Manhattan, give Il Villaggio a try — you simply won’t be disappointed.
“We were there just a few weeks and had a spectacular dinner,” said Ceil Cologne, 62, of Belleville, who dined at Il Villaggio with her husband and two dear friends last month. “And we just cannot wait to go back. Everything was tremendous from the start of the meal to the very end. And the atmosphere — oh, the elegance is just wonderful. We just love it there. “
And the best part is it’s all in our backyard — we don’t have to go all the way to the city for a classy dinner.”
Il Villaggio is located at 651 Rt. 17 N., Carlstadt. For additional information, call 201-935-7733 or visit www.ilvillaggio.com where you’ll find more photos and menus and where you’ll also be able to make a reservation.
Members of the Hogan family and Burns family are extending their heartfelt thanks to all those friends, family and neighbors who contributed their time, and/or donated to the Hero for Owen Fundraiser on May 10 at the former Boystown facility in Kearny. In a joint statement, the families said: “We would like to recognize the local businesses who were an integral part of making this event a complete success, and without whom we could not have done this.”
Two-year-old Owen Hogan, son of a New York City firefighter, was diagnosed last year with severe aplastic anemia and was in need of a bone marrow transplant and blood transfusions.
As part of its Eight Great Live Monday Nights summer family series, co-sponsored by Friends of the Library, Belleville Public Library and Information Centers, 221 Washington Ave., presents the Hocus Pocus magic show with Joe Fischer on July 21 and a variety show featuring juggling, magic, puppets and more with Tom Burnium on July 28. Both events start at 6:30 p.m. Registration is required. Call 973-450-3434.
Bloomfield Public Library, 90 Broad St., announces its schedule for its Monday and Thursday Afternoon Film programs. All films start at 12:15 p.m. in the barrier-free library theater. Admission is free. Following is a combined schedule of both programs:
July 10 – “Oz the Great and Powerful” (James Franco) (PG); July 14 – “The Wolf of Wall Street” (Leonardo DiCaprio) (R) for sequences of sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use, and strong language; July 17 – “Prometheus” (Charlize Theron) (R); July 21 – “Dallas Buyer’s Club” (Matthew McConaughey) (R); July 24 – “The Book Thief” (Geoffrey Rush) (PG-13); July 28 – “Catching Fire” (Jennifer Lawrence) (PG-13); and July 31 – “Saving Mr. Banks” (Tom Hanks) (PG-13).
The Essex County fireworks display and concert with The Infernos and Joe Piscopo, originally scheduled for July 3 in Essex County Brookdale Park, Bloomfield/ Montclair, has been rescheduled for Tuesday, July 15, at 7:30 p.m.
Holy Cross Church sponsors a bus trip to the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City on Sunday, July 13. The bus will leave at 10 a.m. from Holy Cross School, 15 Frank E. Rodgers Blvd S. Refreshments will be served starting at 9:15 a.m. in the school basement. The cost of the trip is a $30 donation, with a $25 return in slot play. For reservations, call Joan at 973-481-2434 or Marie (Spanish) at 973-481- 1799. Leave your name, phone number and the number of people attending.
Children ages 8 to 15 are welcome at the Presbyterian Boys-Girls Club (PBGC), 663 Kearny Ave., July and August, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7 to 9 p.m., for a summer program of basketball, dodge ball, arts and crafts, electronic games and more, under the supervision of a professional staff led by former Lincoln School counselor Tom Fraser.
The PBGC also sponsors the following events: Ice Cream Sundae Night, pie eating contest, Dunkin Donuts Night, Quick 5 Tournament, Tug of War, Bingo and Extreme Dodgeball.
Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., hosts these upcoming children’s programs:
• Monkey Music, starring Meredith LeVande, at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, July 11. LeVande’s music videos air on PBS stations in between shows like “Curious George” and “Sesame Street.” It’s recommended for ages 3 and up.
• All beginning and challenged readers ages 5 to 12 can register to read to a therapy dog on Wednesday, July 16, 10 to 11 a.m., in the lower level of the Main Library. Each session will be 10 minutes and will only be open to a limited number of children. Call the library at 201-998-2666 to reserve a spot.
• Princess double features will be shown downstairs at the Main Library on Fridays throughout the summer. Refreshments will be served. Here’s the schedule: July 11 – “Little Mermaid” (G) at 1 p.m. and “Sofia the First: The Floating Palace” (NR) at 2:30 p.m.; July 18 – “Sleeping Beauty” (G) at 1 p.m. and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (G) at 2:30 p.m.; and July 25 – “Frozen” (PG) at 1 p.m. and “Tangled” (PG) at 3 p.m.
West Hudson Christian Center, 557 Kearny Ave., presents Weird Animals Vacation Bible School, Sunday, July 20, to Wed, July 23, 6:30 to 9 p.m. It’s open to ages 3 to 12. To pre-register in advance (space is limited!), visit whccag.org or call 201-997-7762. Registration is also open each night at the door.
The Lyndhurst Library Children’s Room, 355 Valley Brook Ave., hosts these events:
• Crazy scientist Brian Richards will introduce some amazing experiments on Wednesday, July 23, at 3:30 p.m. Recommended for children ages 3 and up.
• Children in grades pre-k to 8 can discover more about making bubbles and even get to stand inside one of their own on Monday, July 28, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Registration is required for both events. Call the library at 201-804-2478 to register.
The library will be closed July 14 to 19 for a woodwork restoration project. No items will be due during this period, and book/video drop items will be collected periodically. The library will re-open Monday, July 21. Call or email Director Donna Romeo with any questions or concerns at 201-804-2478, ext. 7, or email@example.com. org.
New Jersey Meadowlands Commission hosts the following events:
• Seniors are invited to join staff from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center and learn about the mysterious lives of marine mammals and sea turtles, and the problems facing these creatures and their environment, Thursday, July 10, at 7 p.m., at the NJMC Science Center, 3 DeKorte Park. Registration is recommended and appreciated. To register, call 201-777-2431 or 201-460-8300.
• A two-hour birding cruise is set for Tuesday, July 15, at 10 a.m., departing from River Barge Park, 260 Outwater Lane, Carlstadt. There is a suggested donation of $15 per person.
Check meadowblog.net for last-minute updates and weather advisories. Pre-registration is required. Contact Gaby Bennett-Meany at 201- 460-4640.
For information on regular pontoon boat tours, visit www.njmeadowlands.gov and click on “Parks & Nature Programs” and “Pontoon Boat Cruises,” or call 201-460-4677.
• Seniors can experience close encounters with birds of prey on Thursday, July 17, at 1 p.m., at the Meadowlands Environment Center, 2 De- Korte Park Plaza. Admission is free. Bring your grandchildren to see six live raptors, including falcons, and learn more about these awesome creatures of the northeast with Bill Streeter, director of the Delaware Valley Raptor Center. Registration is recommended and appreciated. For more information, call 201- 777-2431.
North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Road, will host a screening of the documentary “Men at Lunch” Friday, July 18, at 11 a.m. In the 78-minute film, director Seán Ó Cualáin tells the story of “Lunch atop a Skyscraper,” the iconic photograph taken during the construction of 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
Bring your family to an old-fashioned outdoor carnival at the Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive, Saturday, July 19, noon to 3 p.m. Enjoy games such as ring toss, sack race, and more. The event includes prizes, refreshments and music by “Cracked Walnuts,” a musical duo of banjo and washboard who will stroll the grounds playing music of the early 20th century. In the event of rain, the carnival will move inside the library.
Call the library at 973-667- 0405 for more information on this and other programs. The complete schedule of programs is available at the library and on the library web site at http://nutleypubliclibrary. org.
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, 120 Prospect St., celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel on Sunday, July 13, at 12:15 p.m. The main celebrant and homilist of the Mass will be Archbishop Bernard Hebda. After Mass, there will be an outdoor procession featuring music by The Red Mike Festival Band. For more information about this and other events, call 973-667-2580, email olmcnutley@optimum. net, or visit www.olmc-nutley.org.
Total Soul takes the stage at Memorial Park I (Mud Hole) July 17 for a Nutley Recreation Department sizzling summer concert. The free show, which begins at 6:30 p.m., includes everything from Motown, to today’s pop and R&B, to the jazz/Big Band standards of the 1940s. The rain date is July 28. For more information, call 973- 284-4966 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive, hosts these events: •
PJ Movie and Story for all ages is held Mondays, July 14 and 28, at 7 p.m.
• Movie and Craft features the film “Frozen” for all ages Tuesday, July 15, at 2 p.m. Children can drop by and make a craft while supplies last.
• Tech Workshop: “Little Bits” is open to children in grades 3 to 6 Wednesday, July 16 at 2:30 p.m. Registration is required.
• Children ages 2 and up are invited to paint a robot Thursday, July 17, at 2:30 p.m. Registration is for Nutley Library patrons only. Registration begins that day at 9 a.m.
• Essex County Environmental Center presents a workshop on “Beavers Boom,” for children ages 8 and up who are library patrons. Kids can learn a few remarkable things about beavers, their lifestyle, and the sounds they make Thursday, July 17, at 11 a.m., and then craft a personalized beaver mask. Registration is required.
• Science Workshop: “Glowing Putty,” open to children age 8 and up, is offered Monday, July 21, at 7 p.m. Registration is required.
Call the library at 973-667- 0405 for more information or to register for programs. The complete schedule of programs is available at the library and on the library web site at http://nutleypubliclibrary.org.
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Nicole Kelly’s incredible athletic career began at a very young age.
“I think I was four years old,” said Kelly, the recent Kearny High School graduate. “My mom put me on a softball team that she was coaching, but I was too young to play. But I was on the team.”
Kelly didn’t take long to become acclimated to softball.
“From what I remember, I hit the ball so far,” Kelly said. “The rules were that I could only run one base, so I had to stop running at first.”
Three years later, Kelly was introduced to her second sport.
“I was about seven years old when soccer took over my life,” Kelly said. “Soccer was new and exciting. I loved it. I wanted to be more active. Soccer became my sport.”
When the time came for Kelly to become involved in high school sports at Kearny, she was ready to make her mark.
Kelly became a dominant two-sport athlete, excelling in soccer in the fall and softball in the spring. As a slick kicking and passing midfielder, Kelly led the Kardinals to their fourth straight Hudson County Tournament championship, scoring 13 goals and dishing off for 19 assists for the Kardinals enroute to a surprising 21-5 record.
As a slick fielding centerfielder and lead-off hitter in the lineup, Kelly batted .300 with two doubles, a triple, 24 runs scored, 13 stolen bases and 11 runs batted in.
More importantly, Kelly was a main cog on two teams that both won Hudson County championships during her senior year, a first for the history of the school.
For her efforts, Kelly has been selected as The Observer Co-Female Athlete of the Year, the first time in the history of the award dating back to 2002 that either a male or a female shared the honor.
Last week, Grace Montgomery of Nutley was named as the other recipient of the year-end award presented by The Observer.
Kelly recently received her award from Observer general manager Robert Pezzolla.
While Kelly said that she had instant success in softball, it was not the same in soccer. “I was terrible,” Kelly said. “When I was trying out for Thistle as a kid, there was a dribbling drill and I knocked all the cones over. But somehow, I still made the team. It took me some time to get to the level that everyone else was at.”
However, by the time Kelly got to Kearny High, she was ready to make a positive impact.
“I was pulled up to the varsity at the end of my freshman year in time for the states (NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV playoffs),” Kelly said. “By the middle of my sophomore year, I was a starting midfielder.”
Kearny head girls’ soccer coach Vin Almeida knew that Kelly had the makings of a standout player.
“She was always quick to listen and then quick to apply what she learned,” Almeida said. “She took our advice and every year, you could see how much she improved. She was always motivated and had the ability to take the instruction we gave and applied it.”
Kelly said that Almeida’s faith in her as a sophomore went a long way.
“It definitely boosted my confidence,” Kelly said. “I was starting over some of the seniors. I definitely started to play well.”
There was some thought of moving Kelly to the front line this season, but Almeida liked the leadership she provided from the midfield slot, more importantly the wing.
“She took on a greater role this year in terms of leadership,” Almeida said. “We always knew that she had her in her. She played aggressively. She was always fun to be around.”
“We lost so many people to graduation and injury, so I thought I might have to change my position,” Kelly said. “At the start of the year, everyone was a little down, so I put the team on my back a little bit to build everyone’s confidence up. Once that started happening, we started playing better. Moods changed and I think I helped the younger kids get used to playing with the varsity. I knew that I was a younger kid once and knew what they were going through.”
Kelly also realized that she had to become more of an offensive force as a senior.
“I knew I needed to be more offensive minded,” Kelly said. “It felt good to be part of three county championships in a row.”
During the off-season, Kelly worked out on her own and to get ready once again for softball. She declined to play softball as a junior in order to get ready for her final soccer season.
“I lifted and ran on my own,” Kelly said. “I went to the batting cages a lot. It was so hard to get back into softball after taking the year off. It was a big obstacle to overcome. Coach (Jim) Pickel was patient with me as I was coming back into it. I didn’t want to be one of the weaker people on the team, so that gave me more motivation.”
Pickel saw a huge change in Kelly.
“When she was a sophomore, she was quiet and did whatever you wanted,” Pickel said. “But she came back this year, she was much more of a leader. She was kind of behind after missing a year. Her timing was a little off at the plate, but defensively, she cut balls off and made plays to keep people from scoring. That was her main objective.”
Pickel said that that Kelly became a better offensive player as the season progressed. If there’s one thing he will remember, it’s her fleet feet.
“Definitely, her speed,” Pickel said. “The first game of the season, she got thrown out trying to steal home, but the last game, she tries it again and she makes it. If she doesn’t do it again, we probably don’t win the (Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic League) title. There were two different extremes.”
Pickel also will remember Kelly’s smile.
“Personality wise, when things were going well, her smile was as wide as possible,” Pickel said.
“I definitely did better than I thought,” Kelly said. “My first thought was that I had to be a leader. I always thought of myself as a leader. Winning the county championship felt awesome, because I knew no Kearny team ever won it before. The first thing I thought was that we won two county championships this year and both against the same school (Bayonne).”
Kelly will now head off to the University of Tampa, where she will major in sports management. Friend and former classmate Aislinn Sroczynski will also attend the same school. Sroczynski will compete in cross country and track and field there. Kelly is unsure about her athletic future.
“I might try to play soccer there, but at first, I want to focus on my academics,” Kelly said. “I’m so excited about going there.”
Kelly, who is the fourth Kearny female to earn The Observer Female Athlete of the Year, joining Allyson Dyl (2008), Janitza Aquino (2011) and Stefanie Gomes (2012), was proud to be put in the same classification of the other honorees.
“It’s definitely honorable,” Kelly said. “I don’t know how to explain it. I guess I feel like I made an impact at Kearny High School.”
That’s for sure.
Frank “Butch” Servideo has spent most of his life involved in Lyndhurst High School athletics.
Servideo was first a standout athlete at Lyndhurst, then returned to become a coach of several sports. He was an assistant football and basketball coach, then became the head softball coach and finally spent the final three decades as the head baseball coach, winning more than 500 games, including the overall NJSIAA Group I state championship in 2008.
Servideo also served as the school’s athletic director for the last two decades.
“This is my home,” Servideo said. “I bleed blue and gold.”
Servideo figures that he spent 13 years as a student in the Lyndhurst school system, then another 42 as a coach, educator and administrator. That’s some career.
“It’s a great town,” said Servideo, who made his home in Lyndhurst with his wife Luann and children.
Servideo announced earlier last year that he was going to retire as both the baseball coach and athletic director.
Last Wednesday, Servideo’s former assistant coaches threw him a retirement party at the Fiesta in Wood-Ridge.
“It was fabulous,” Servideo said. “It was like a wedding. All the guys put it together. It was tremendous.”
Coaches Michael Rizzo, Patrick Auteri, Rich Tuero and new athletic director Jeff Radigan joined forces to organize the affair, which was attended by more than 225 of Servideo’s well wishers.
“What a great night,” Servideo said. “I couldn’t believe how many people were there. The guys who put it together all played for me, coached with me and became great family men. I was really taken aback with how many people were there. People came out of the woodwork to be there. I kept seeing people and saying, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ It was unbelievable.”
Incredibly, four of Servideo’s former coaches were in attendance, guys like Arnie Perrone, Don Cavalli, Joe Ferruzza and Phil Ciarco.
“It was great to see those guys again,” Servideo said.
During the course of the evening, the Lyndhurst Board of Education decided to honor Servideo by retiring his baseball jersey No. 10. Superintendent of Schools Tracey Marinelli presented Servideo with a jersey and another will hang permanently in the school gymnasium.
“That was very flattering,” Servideo said. “I wore No. 22 and No. 10 as a player, but always No. 10 as a coach.”
Servideo went to Northland College in northern Wisconsin after his athletic playing days at Lyndhurst. He returned home to Lyndhurst after graduation from Northland and became a coach right away.
“I was 21 years old and still had hopes of becoming a professional baseball player,” Servideo said. “Jim Corino was the athletic director at the time at Lyndhurst and he said he wanted me to be an assistant basketball and football coach. I didn’t know anything about basketball. He told me to just watch him, so that’s what I did.”
In 1980, Servideo took over a fledgling softball program that had won three games the previous year. They won 16 his first season. Incredibly, 12 of the players of that 1980 team were at the retirement celebration.
“We had some 20-win seasons and some league championships,” Servideo said of his six-year stint as softball coach.
In 1986, Servideo moved over to become baseball coach and carved out a career as one of the best baseball mentors in the state.
“I had a lot of former players come back,” Servideo said. “It was really humbling. It was great to see all the people who grew into great young men and women.”
Rizzo, who recently became a vice-principal in the district, was glad to be able to honor Servideo.
“When we heard Butchie was retiring, we really wanted to do something nice for him,” Rizzo said. “To be able to do it is another thing. It was so much fun. We thought we might get 180 or so, but that’s why we went to the Fiesta, just in case we got more people. The final count was like 230. It was amazing.”
There were a handful of speakers who got up to roast Servideo.
“They really gave it to him,” Rizzo said. “It was a lot of fun. It was priceless. I really can’t put it to words. It was really rewarding.”
The group presented Servideo with a host of retirement gifts, like a new driver for his golf game, two free rounds at the famed Bethpage Black golf course and two box seats for Derek Jeter’s final home game at Yankee Stadium before his retirement in September.
“I also got free dinners from a lot of different local places,” Servideo said. “My wife and I are going to eat well for a while.”
Servideo couldn’t believe the outpouring of love.
“All the players who came back,” Servideo said. “All the girls from years ago. All the former coaches, that was really surprising. All the teachers and supervisors who have been retired for a while and came back. It was incredible.”
Servideo was asked if it will hit him that 50-plus years of his life involved with Lyndhurst athletics had come to an end.
“It probably won’t hit me until school starts again in September,” Servideo said. “It’s funny, but the other day, I went to school to give Jeff (Radigan) a set of keys and I went to use my swipe card to get in the building and it didn’t work. I couldn’t get in the building. That was a sign to me that it was over.”
Servideo said that he’s not going anywhere soon. Luann Servideo will remain an active member of the Lyndhurst school system as a teacher’s aide. He will go to Florida to work at the Florida Coast Spring Training Baseball Facility in Fort Pierce, owned by former Lyndhurst resident Vin Carlesi.
He also plans to become an active high school umpire, but will stay far away from Lyndhurst games.
“I’ll come to watch some games,” Servideo said. “I’ll be around.”’
That’s good for the people of Lyndhurst, because dedicated people like Butch Servideo don’t come around often.
They come every half century or so.
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
When Joe Fischer decided to take over the Belleville High School football program once again for a second stint, he wanted to change the perception more than anything.
“We were starting from scratch,” said Fischer, who was the head coach for four seasons from 2004 through 2007. “I had to put together a plan.” And what did that plan include?
“We had the players pick up garbage,” Fischer said.
Simple enough, no? A day after the Belleville Class of 2014 went through their commencement exercises at Belleville Stadium, Fischer had the 40 or so returning football players go to clean the stadium top to bottom.
“It shows the kids that no one is above picking up garbage,” Fischer said. “It instills pride in their surroundings, where they practice and play. They have a nice field, a nice facility that they should be proud of. And it stops them from throwing stuff on the ground.”
Fischer said that the plan showed its first signs of working when a player went up to a teacher and told the teacher that they can’t throw empty bottles on the ground.
“One of the players ran over, picked up the empty bottle and said, ‘You can’t do that,’” Fischer said. “They know that if they’re going to pick up garbage to play, then they’re going to pick up garbage. It’s that simple. I knew I had to start from scratch. I knew that these kids had no pride in their program.”
The clean-up program was a sign to the players that times had indeed changed.
“They knew that things were changing,” Fischer said.
In May, the Belleville football players picked up 25 bags of garbage from the area around Belleville Stadium. After graduation, there was more of the same.
“Discipline doesn’t work if the kids don’t care,” Fischer said. “The kids simply had no pride in their program. It is a form of discipline when they have to take care of where they spend most of their time. We have a nice field. They should take care of it.”
Fischer said that the cleanup routine has already filtered down to the players.
“I told one of the seniors, Nick Nardicchone, that if I found any bottles around, we were going to run gassers for every bottle,” Fischer said. “He made sure that there were no bottles. That’s just the way it is. I’m not a yeller or a screamer, but they are following through with what I say.”
Fischer said that he instituted a similar plan when he became the head coach in 2004.
“We had a bad locker room with old rusty lockers and animals lived there and that ran in and out,” Fischer said. “So we re-did the entire locker room and built new wood lockers. They’re still there. It’s a team building concept.”
The Buccaneers were in the midst of a 33-game losing streak, the longest in the state, when Fischer took over the first time. They snapped the slide and eventually made the NJSIAA North 1, Group IV state playoffs in 2007, the last time the program reached the postseason.
Fischer said that the players received a treat in May, when 25 of the Buccaneers were treated to partake in the National Football League draft at Radio City Music Hall.
“I have a friend, Gerhardt Sanchez, who used to be the recreation director in Montclair,” Fischer said. “He ran a 7-on-7 for the NFL in Montclair. We’ve become friends. He now works for the NFL. He called me and asked if I wanted to take some kids to the draft. So we brought 25 kids.”
The Belleville gridders got to meet Giants punter Steve Weatherford and Jets running back Chris Ivory while watching the draft.
“There were coaches and general managers walking around,” Fischer said. “It was really a nice day, another day toward team building. Half of the players had never even been to New York City before. It might be only 12 miles away, but it’s totally different to them. It was such a great day. The kids are still talking about it.”
The Buccaneers might not set the world on fire this season, but there’s one thing for sure. There’s a new sheriff in town. Actually, it’s the old sheriff, but he’s making sure that things are being done the right away and being done with a sense of pride.
“We’re starting from the bottom, but we’re moving in the right direction,” Fischer said.