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Nutley teen survives home burglary

Ahmed Serrano/ Photo courtesy Nutley P.D.

















By Jeff Bahr

A home burglary was thwarted when a 15-year-old Nutley girl, home alone at the time of the break-in, used her cell phone to summon help before dashing off to hide from the intruder. The drama unfolded just before 2 p.m. on Aug. 13 when the startled girl heard the sounds of a burglar breaking into her East Passaic Avenue home.

Shocked by the nightmare now underway, the girl called her mother on her cell phone. As she told her what was happening, she heard the intruder trudge upstairs toward the room that she occupied. The girl then retreated to a threefoot by one-and-one-half foot closet and hid beneath a pile of bed linens. As the man ransacked the home, he opened the closet door where the girl was hiding. Luckily, he didn’t spot her and continued on to other rooms in the house. The girl’s mother called Nutley police from her New York office to tell them of her daughter’s plight.

Described as a “frantic call from the girl’s mother,” by Nutley Public Safety Director Alphonse Petracco, police were soon dispatched to the house with sirens blaring.

The noise prompted the intruder to flee the premises, but he didn’t get far. Ahmed Serrano, 51, of Newark, was apprehended just one block from the crime scene with the stolen proceeds still in his possession. He was arrested and charged with burglary and theft.

Nutley police are working in conjunction with Bloomfield detectives to investigate other burglaries that Serrano may have been a part of.

Butterflies are free’ to behold at latest addition to Kearny’s Riverbank Park

Photos by Karen Zautyk/ Jenny and David Mach (reminiscent of “American Gothic”) at the Kearny Butterfly Garden.




By Karen Zautyk


How do you create a butterfly garden? You plant the seeds and when the little caterpillar heads start sprouting above ground, you feed them and . . . .

Yes, that’s an attempt to make you smile. But every time we think of the new Kearny Butterfly Garden, we’re smiling. It’s a little bit of heavenly nature – flowers and flutterbys – in the Riverbank Park along Passaic Avenue.

Just south of South Midland Avenue, and just north of the bocce courts, you might have noticed a small, new fenced-in area full of blooms. If you venture closer, you’ll see it’s also full of butterflies – Monarchs and Skippers and Swallowtails and such.

For this little wonderland, you can thank a Kearny couple, Jenny and David Mach, whose idea it was and who brought it to fruition. Along with some help from the town.

The Machs are grateful to Kearny Department of Public Works director Gerry Kerr, who approved the project, and to Donald Gavin, superintendent of Parks & Recreation, and his crews, who built the fence and keep the garden supplied with woodchips to cover the soil.

“Gavin,” said David, “now knows more about butterflies than we do.”

Jenny, who is a sixth-grade science teacher in Tenafly, and David, who used to teach grades 6-8 in East Newark and is now studying physical therapy at UMDNJ, began their own butterfly education by attending a teaching workshop on Monarchs, held at William Paterson University in Wayne.

Among other things, they learned that the Monarch population in the U.S. had been decimated by the increased use of herbicides to kill the milkweed plant. Monarchs cannot live without milkweed; it is their sole source of food.

The butterflies lay their eggs on the weed and when the caterpillars hatch, the critters gorge themselves on the plant – the only flora they can eat.

“We found that there was little milkweed in Kearny,” said David.

Hence, there were no Monarchs – and few butterflies of other ilk.

“We wanted a safe place for them to breed – and not be weed-whacked,” he said.

At the new garden, the Machs planted lots of milkweed, along with zinnias, black-eyed susans and other colorful blooms.

Two butterflies share a flower.





Look closely and find a little ‘skipper’ blending into the yellow bloom.

“We were told, ‘If you build it, they will come’.”Said Jenny. And (the Monarchs) have. When we visited the other afternoon, the black-and-yellow beauties were fluttering all over the place. Along with lots of smaller butterflies.

If you’d like to start your own butterfly habitat, you can find milkweed (also known as the “butterfly bush”) at many nurseries. But remember, it is a WEED, so it needs to be controlled (but not by herbicides). Cut it back so it doesn’t take over your property. Or buy the plant in pots.

The Machs have received lots of help in their project from local nature-lovers, including residents nearby who leave much-needed jugs of water at the site.

“Everything has been donated,” said David, citing the community’s help. And, lest we forget, the help of his 92-year-old grandfather, James Rovi of Lyndhurst, who visits the garden daily.

“He used to be a landscaper,” said David. “We couldn’t have done this without him and his expertise on plants.”

The Machs hope the Kearny Butterfly Garden will become both an aesthetic and educational experience, with schools taking students there on field trips. But not, of course, when the weather grows cold. The Monarchs winter in Mexico. Energetic little beings, aren’t they?

‘If you build it, they will come.’


And, along with maintaining the butterfly garden, what else is on the couple’s agenda? A community garden, which the Machs hope to establish along the same stretch of parkland.

“We’d like to get 15 or so people gardening on the same plot,” Jenny said. However, she emphasized, the project is in only the “idea” stage at this point. And in any case, township approval will be needed.

If you would like to learn more, or contribute your own thoughts, the Kearny Community Garden folks will be meeting at the Kearny Public Library this Thursday, Aug. 23, at 5 p.m. “just to kick around ideas.”

There is also a Kearny Community Garden petition you can sign at www.thepetitionsite.com. For more info and photos of the butterfly garden, visit facebook.com/KearnyButterflyGarden.

Building Blocks for keeping kids healthy

Photo by Karen Zautyk/ Dr. Yilda Alvarado and Dr. Roger A. Rivera Jr. of Building Blocks Pediatric Group are new to Harrison but are already committed to the community.


By Karen Zautyk


The first thing that strikes you when you walk through the door of the Building Blocks Pediatric Group office is what a warm, sunny, welcoming environment it offers. And that’s before you even meet the warm, sunny, welcoming doctors.

The waiting room is painted a bright yellow, with multicolored murals of blossoms and birdies adorning the walls – all of it creating the most child-friendly atmosphere. Building Blocks, located at 215 Harrison Ave., is a brandnew pediatric practice, open just a month, but already committed to the Harrison community.

Drs. Yilda Alvarado and Roger A. Rivera Jr., who met while doing their hospital residency, both trained at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). While studying and working in Newark, they became aware of the significant number of patients who came from the Harrison area. They saw a need for a pediatrics practice here and they are fulfilling it.

“We wanted to be in a small, close community,” Rivera noted. “And we wanted a community that was very diverse.”

If any town fits that bill, it’s Harrison.

Rivera grew up in Clifton; Alvarado, in Puerto Rico. Both are fluently bilingual (Spanish/English). And both, as Rivera notes, are “young and eager” and have “a strong sense of community.”

The doctors also wanted an office that was “very accessible” – and that means more than just its central location (south side of Harrison Avenue, between Second and Third Streets).

“We are primarily a walk-in practice,” Rivera said. No appointment necessary. “Some things can’t wait,” he continued. “If you need to be seen that day, as long as the visit fits into our hours, you will be seen.”

Those hours are: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. If a patient arrives before closing time, “they will be seen.”

A pediatrics practice, we learned, serves young adults as well as children. Building Blocks’ patients range from newborns to age 21. And, along with treating someone who may be ill, the doctors offer “well visits”: preventive care, annual checkups, screenings and physicals required for school or sports.

Alvarado noted that “procedures and lab work are all done here.” Which is yet another convenience.

She also cited the need for local bilingual doctors, adding, “We want to let the community know we’re here.” To contact Building Blocks, call 862-955-3183. And for more info, visit www.bbpediatrics.com.

‘Airing’ concerns over Friendly House

Photo by Ron Leir/ Site of future Friendly House as seen from Florence Ave.


By Ron Leir


The situation is anything but “friendly” around the proposed reconstruction of the township’s former Friendly House recreation facility.

Recently, the Belleville Township Council awarded a contract for $585,000 to Stonebridge, Inc., of South Plainfield, to put up a prefabricated “multi-purpose” building on the site between Frederick Street and Florence Avenue off Franklin Street where the old building stood until it fell into disrepair and was taken down more than four years ago.

But after discussion at the council session on Aug. 14, the governing body – with prodding by Councilman-at-large Michael Nicosia – agreed to issue a stop work order on the job until certain issues can be settled.

According to Nicosia, the bid specifications for the job didn’t include provision for either air-conditioning or site work – meaning, primarily, a parking lot.

Although, as noted by Township Administrator Kevin Esposito, the current design calls for a “natural exchange of air” with the opening of a garagelike bay door that would also provide easy access for loading and unloading tables, chairs and supplies.

But the windows reflected in the plans would be installed “high” up in the building and couldn’t be opened, according to Nicosia.

Not having A/C in the building “can be a very costly thing to fix,” said Nicosia, a private home builder. And, since the township is planning to adapt the new facility, at least in part, as a child care center, “without A/C, the Board of Health probably wouldn’t allow kids inside during the summer,” he said.

Putting in an A/C system could add “as much as $100,000” to the overall cost of the building, Nicosia said.

Additionally, a parking lot for up to 20 vehicles – assuming the small lot on Frederick Street could accommodate that volume – could mean an additional $50,000 to $100,000, Nicosia estimated.

But the township is limited in what it can spend on the project, Nicosia said, given that it was figuring on applying grant money from Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Open Space Trust Fund to the Friendly House job.

In hopes of setting the project, at least partly, on the right course, Nicosia said that he and Councilman Vincent Cozzarelli, a private contractor, are hoping to map out a strategy for an alternative type of ventilation system that could be a less costly fix.

What, if anything, he proposed to do about the missing parking, Nicosia didn’t say.

Last fall, the township administration proposed – and the Township Council adopted – a $3.45 million bond ordinance that would have authorized borrowing about $600,000 for the Friendly House re-build. However, in November, 2011 a petition drive led by Second Ward Councilman Steven Rovell and Nicosia opposing the bonding plan persuaded the administration to back off and the council, ultimately, rescinded the ordinance.

Esposito said last week that discussions on the Friendly House contract quandary were continuing and that the job would be held up until the A/C and parking issues, along with other “concerns” that Esposito didn’t specify are dealt with.

“I believe there’s a good chance for an air-conditioning system,” he said, without elaborating further.

As for the lack of a parking lot, Esposito said: “We were limited by the funds available. We were dealing with a barebones budget.”

Meanwhile, in an unrelated matter, Nicosia said he’s also bothered by what he considers to be a security gap at the municipal Public Works garage that, he says, is costing taxpayers.

On a recent Monday morning visit to the site, Nicosia said he discovered a load of construction debris dumped in front of the garage but, because of the way on-site operating surveillance camera equipment is deployed, it wasn’t possible to capture the act on tape.

“Instead of buying additional cameras,” Nicosia said, “I’d rather see us taking the cameras out of our football field and put them at the DPW and then buy new cameras for the stadium.”

According to Nicosia, Priority should go to the DPW site, because every time a township dump truck hauls away illegally dumped trash, that’s an expense to the taxpayer that can’t be recouped unless the offender is “caught” by a surveillance video and then taken to court and fined.

Nicosia said the township should ask its newly hired grants consultant, Bruno Associates, to see what type of grant money may be available – possibly through the U.S. Homeland Security program – that could be tapped to pay for the cameras.

In an infrastructure development, the Township Council voted Aug. 14 to approve a contract award of $75,000 to Montana Contruction, Inc., of Lodi, which was retained on an emergency basis to repair a road collapse that triggered a major break to a sanitary sewer line under Wilber Streey on July 26.

“It was greater than 20 feet in depth and (our Public Works Department) didn’t have the shoring for that depth,” Esposito said.

As the repairs were being done, however, a storm hit, causing a water main break and, the next day, work was begun to replace the ruptured section with PVC pipe, Esposito said.

The township, which handled the repaving of the street, renegotiated the Montana contract “so there was no additional cost to the taxpayer,” he said.

One-tank trips: Grounds for Sculpture

Photos by Jeff Bahr/ J. Seward Johnson’s sculptural tribute to “American Gothic” painting by Grant




















“Red Grooms: Henry Moore in a Sheep Meadow.”


By Jeff Bahr

Are you an art lover? If so, you will simply adore the open-air exhibits found at Grounds for Sculpture, a unique outdoor display of artistic magnificence located just south of Trenton.

On the other hand, if the static viewing of art strikes you as an exercise in tedium – one almost guaranteed to bore you witless – you will still love this place.

Confused? You won’t be after your visit, I promise you. For this is the rare place where a surprise lurks at nearly every turn, and the overall experience is actually worth more than the price of admission – even for the non-artsy set.

From fairgrounds to sculpture grounds

The 42 acres of land where the sculpture garden is situated once comprised a portion of the New Jersey State Fairgrounds. From 1866 until 1980 — a pivotal year when urban decay and nearby Great Adventure amusement park finally delivered a one-two punch to the long-enduring enterprise, forcing its closure — the fair entertained and educated.

By the mid 1980s, things had grown worse still. The once vibrant grounds had become a downtrodden wasteland. The Domestic Arts Building, an ornate hall that had displayed handicrafts, needlework and other home arts to fairgoers since 1920, had become a vandals’ den, stripped of much of its unique decorative tiles and overrun by choking grasses and weeds. The same was true of the nearby Motor Exhibits Building.

Some deemed it the end of an era and wrote the fairgrounds off as a total loss. But not all. One man, with an abundance of creativity and vision (and more than a little clout) decided that something needed to be done.

J. Seward Johnson to the rescue

J. Seward Johnson (a controversial artist best known for his life-size bronze castings of living people) began eyeing the decaying site in 1987. To Seward, the former fairgrounds represented an unpolished diamond in the rough – precisely the type of place he’d dreamt of for a magnificent public sculpture garden.

After some behind-the-scenes wrangling, Johnson acquired a tract of land from the former fairgrounds and got busy. His vision came to life in 1992, when fifteen outdoor sculptures produced by thirteen area artists were presented to the public. An indoor museum was added to the grounds in 1993, and the Domestic Arts and Motor Exhibits Buildings – the very building that seemed doomed only a few years earlier was completely restored, tiles and all, and used to exhibit additional sculptures.

Photos by Jeff Bahr/ J. Seward Johnson’s whimsical “Day Dream.”


Grounds for Sculpture

Grounds for Sculpture has grown in leaps and bounds since those early days. The park now features over 250 works created by a bevy of distinguished artists including Clement Meadmore, Anthony Caro, Beverly Pepper, Kiki Smith, George Segal, Magdalena Abakanowicz, and Isaac Witkin.

A Visitor’s Center at the new Seward Johnson Center for the Arts features an introductory film about the history of the park, conference and catering facilities and self-guided tour maps. In the film the narrator tells how Grounds for Sculpture represents many different things to many different people. This is indeed true. Because of its variety of something-foreveryone sculptures, the park has reached across cultural divides and attracted a wideranging audience.

In truth, visitors never know just what they’ll encounter next as they walk the grounds (trust me!), but odds are they will find something that appeals to their senses. Beautiful trees, grasses and flowers abound at the park and captivate at a level at least on a par with the sculptures themselves. It is this interplay of cultivated natural setting and man-made works that truly defines Grounds for Sculpture.

Impressionist sculpture outside Rat’s restaurant.

A fanciful impression of French Impressionists

When I was younger, I had little regard for the muchballyhooed French Impressionists (Monet, Manet, Renoire, etc.) and their “stuffy” paintings. To me, each canvas looked as if it had been painted by a person with vision problems. “Why is everything so muted, blurry and subdued?” I’d ask with mouth agape in total ignorance of what the artists had so brilliantly accomplished. “Couldn’t these guys see clearly?”

Then, as the years passed and my appreciation for subtlety and mood grew, these very same paintings began to speak to my soul. I’ve now come full-circle and become a genuine fan. I’m elated to report that Grounds for Sculpture pays homage to French Impressionism in a way not often seen or experienced. Allow me to give you my personal impressions (pun intended).

Imagine for a moment what it might be like to step into a sublime scene painted by one of the great masters. Could anything ever be so impossibly beautiful? Now, imagine forking over $12 (the current price for adult admission at the park), taking a short stroll and finding yourself smack, dab in the middle of impressionist paintings rendered by the likes of Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, and others.

A lily pond and bridge inspired by Monet and appropriately dubbed Monet’s Bridge is as arresting for its beauty as it is for its ingenuity. Small hidden valves emit a fine water mist that hangs low on the water imparting the perfect mood for the setting.

But it is Déjeuner Déjà Vu, a sculpture by Johnson — inspired by Manet’s Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe — that truly captures me. Here, in lifelike scale is an uncanny representation of the famous scene depicting two near naked women and their curiously detached escorts. It’s as if someone snapped their fingers and Manet’s painting simply sprang to life.

Other sculptures include everything from the whimsical and stark to the crafty and obtuse. There are highfaluting offerings so staid and polished, the aristocracy would welcome them. Then there are those sculptures that might be considered “racy” by some. Finally, there are pieces that totally confound the senses and defy pat classification. In other words, there’s “art” to be found here, and oodles of it at that.

Hidden (in plain sight) surprises

There are sections of the park that are located off the beaten track, but ones worth the hunt. You will know that you’ve found the most bawdy of them when you encounter a full-sized contemporary male sculpture grasping a bra and other female accouterments in his hand. Just what is this smiling figure staring at so high up in the tree? Could it possibly be? Come and find out! There’s another bit of whimsy to be found beside the lake. Precisely where, you ask? Here’s a hint: Just follow the sounds of a running shower. Then, when you arrive, try your best not to blush!

A last hurrah

After a walking tour, there are a few more places for visitors to check out. The Toad Hall Shop and Gallery offers decorative jewelry and a changing selection of smallscale sculptures for sale.

The Domestic Arts Building feeds body and soul at its Peacock Café: a place where food and art intertwine to delight the senses.

When I visited, a living, breathing peacock stood just outside the window, oblivious to my presence.

And last but far from least, there is Rat’s. This highly rated French restaurant (with an unfortunate name) serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner indoors and outdoors. Located directly beside the Monet Bridge, Rats offers tasty country cuisine in a setting inspired by Monet’s beloved town of Giverny. Bon appétit!


Around Town


• St. Peter’s Rosary Confraternity is holding its communion breakfast on Oct. 7, after the 8:30 a.m. Mass, at the Chandelier Restaurant, 340 Franklin Ave., Belleville. Tickets are $22 each and go on sale Sept. 5. The speaker will be the Rev. Edwin Leahy. For tickets call the rectory at 973-751-2002.


• Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center is hosting a beefsteak dinner on Friday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m. to honor Bloomfield Youth Band founding director Patrick Burns as its 2012 Person of the Year. The evening will feature testimonials to Burns and a souvenir journal. All proceeds benefit the ongoing restorations and operations of Oakeside. Reservations are required.

Please call the Oakeside office at 973-429-0960 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.

• Brookdale Christian Church, 1350 Broad St., Bloomfield, will host Harvest America Outreach on Sunday, Aug. 26, at 7 p.m. The public is welcome to attend this free event, with live Christian music by “Unspoken.” Brookdale Christian Church has services every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. For more information, call 973-338- 8536, email: bcc@issltd.net or visit www.brookdalechristian.com.

• Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center, 240 Belleville Ave., Bloomfield, will hold a Victorian-themed tea party on Sunday, Sept. 9, at 2 p.m. to celebrate its 200th birthday.

The afternoon will feature a light lunch, docent-led house tours and a cabaret performance by Corinna Sowers- Adler. Admission is free, but seating is limited and reservations are required. Please call the Oakeside office at 973-429- 0960 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.

•The Bloomfield Public Library is hosting a resume class in the conference room on Sept. 19 at 4 p.m.

In this two-hour class, participants will learn how to make an effective resume using common resume templates and wording. Registration is required. To register, please call, 973-566-6200, ext. 502.

After the class, there will be optional one-on-one sessions with the instructor hands-on at a library computer terminal, in which participants will learn how to use the computer to create a hard copy resume and then post that resume to a major Internet job board.

Registration is again required, and will be held at the first session. You must attend the workshop to sign up for the individual tutoring.


• To relieve a severe blood shortage, a blood drive will be held at the Scots American Club, 40 Paterson St., Kearny, on Tuesday, Aug. 28, from 4 to 8 p.m. All presenting donors will receive a $15 Shop Rite gift card during the drive.

Please bring ID and eat before donating.

For more information, call 1-800-652-5663, ext. 100, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., from Monday to Friday. For those who have recently traveled outside of the U.S. and for other eligibility questions, call 973-676-4700, ext. 132.

• Kearny High School Class of 1982 will hold a reunion on Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 2 Harmon Dr., Secaucus. The $90 ticket price includes cocktails from 7 to 8 p.m., buffet dinner and dancing from 8 p.m. to midnight. • To purchase tickets, send a check to KHS 1982 reunion, c/o Michele Tilley, 10 Sherwood Lane, Nutley, N.J. 07110. Make checks payable to KHS Reunion 1982. The event is open to all KHS ’82 alumni and friends.

• West Hudson Christian Center, 557 Kearny Ave., Kearny, will host a free concert by Iglesia Nueva Vida on Saturday, Aug. 25, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. For more information, call 973-955-9838.

A Wildwood vacation is scheduled, from Sept. 9 to 13, Sunday to Thursday, with visits to Cape May and Atlantic City. For information, call Mary at 201-998-1030.


Lyndhurst Library’s Book Club will meet on Wednesday, Sept. 12, at 6:30 p.m. to discuss “The Island” by Elin Hilderbrand. For more information or to obtain a copy of the book, call Diane Montefusco at 201-804-2478, ext. 3. Space is limited and registration is necessary.

The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission will sponsor a pontoon boat tour on Aug. 23 at 5:30 p.m. Get an up-close view of the Meadowlands District’s spectacular scenic beauty and wildlife with a two-hour guided pontoon boat cruise of the Hackensack River and its surrounding marshes. Experienced NJMC staff will discuss the region’s human and environmental history and point out birds and other wildlife along the way.

Pontoon boat cruises depart from River Barge Park, 260 Outwater Lane, Carlstadt. Admission is $15. Recommended for ages 10 and up. Pre-registration required. For a complete schedule, directions and to register visit www.njmeadowlands.gov or call 201-460-4640.

• The Lyndhurst Health Department will begin the fall sessions of Yoga, Zumba, and Zumba Gold the week of Sept. 17. This 15-week session is made possible through the Departments’ partnership with the YMCA. Classes will be held on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays at the Health Department. The cost is $45 for residents and $75 for non-residents. Please make checks payable to YMCA Area Meadowlands.

Payment and registration can be returned to the Lyndhurst Health Department on 253 Stuyvesant Ave. Call 201-804-2500 with any questions. Registration forms can be picked up at the Health Department or online www.lyndhurstnj.org.


• Nutley Little Theatre has scheduled auditions at the NLT Barn, 47 Erie Place, Nutley, on Sunday, Sept. 9, and Monday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. both nights, for its production of “A Bad Year for Tomatoes,” a comedy by John Patrick. The cast requires three men, ages late 30s-60, and four women ages late 30s-60.

Evening performances of “A Bad Year for Tomatoes” will be on Nov. 2, 3, 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17. Matinees are on Nov. 4, 11 and 17. Additional dates may be added within this range. “A Bad Year for Tomatoes” will be directed by Nick Thomas of Chatham.

In “A Bad Year for Tomatoes,” the famous Myra Marlowe, fed up with the pressures of her acting career, leases a house in a tiny New England hamlet and settles down to write her autobiography. But she hasn’t bargained on her nosy neighbors. How Myra tries to gain her privacy, and the complications that ensue, create the circumstances for this madcap comedy.

For directions, please see www.nutleylittletheatre.com

• The Golf for a Cure outing, sponsored by Nutley Football Alumni, will be held on Monday, Oct. 1, at Hendricks Field Golf course, Belleville, starting at 8 a.m. Registration begins at 7:15 a.m. The even includes 18 holes of golf and contests, followed by a luncheon at Nanina’s in the Park, Belleville. Call 973-634-1240 for details and reservations.

Proceeds will be donated to prostate cancer research.

Golden Bears look to continue winning ways

Photo by Jim Hague/ The Lyndhurst High School football team is looking to build on a highly successful 2011 season, when they went 8-3 and won a game in the state playoffs. From left are linemen Dominick Rega, Miguel Seixeiro, Deniz Akar, head coach Joe Castagnetti, Nick Antorio, Nick Galvez and Nick Coviello.


By Jim Hague

The 2011 high school football season was a memorable one for the Lyndhurst High School program.

The Golden Bears posted an 8-3 record, their highest win total in 25 years. The Bears made it to the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I playoffs and upset Rutherford in the first round, marking the program’s first state playoff victory since winning their lone state sectional crown in 1983.

The program withstood the controversy and turmoil caused by the arrest and subsequent departure of former head coach Scott Rubinetti and saw the head coaching position get handed back to the man that Rubinetti replaced after the 2008 season, namely, respected coach Joe Castagnetti.

Castagnetti, who served as an assistant coach last year, is ready to keep the Golden Bears moving in the right direction.

“After the first couple of days, you could see the difference in the players getting to know me personally as the head coach,” said Castagnetti, who guided Lyndhurst to a 6-4 mark in his final season as the head man. “My last year as head coach, the current seniors were eighth graders, so they know that I was following them and knew who they were. I’ve been familiar with them and have had time invested in them. It’s not like I was totally unfamiliar coming in.”

Added Castagnetti, “Now, they know what I expect and demand. They just had to get used to me. But now, they’re buying in. The good thing is that it’s not an entirely new staff. Everyone else is back. We all know the kids and the kids know us.”

Castagnetti knows that the Golden Bears will be among the hunted this season.

“We’re wearing the bulls’ eye on our back, no question,” Castagnetti said. “Our rally cry this year is that we’re not entitled to anything. We have to work extremely hard to get back to where we were last year. We have a tough road ahead. Nothing is being handed to us. We’re starting again at 0-0. They have to know that.”

The Golden Bears, who begin their 2012 season at home Friday, Sept. 7, at 7 p.m., have a very interesting schedule to kick off the new campaign, opening with Wood-Ridge, then facing New Milford, Cresskill and Pompton Lakes in the first four games. Those are not exactly traditional rivals for Lyndhurst.

“We have some familiarity with them, except Pompton Lakes, which will be a totally new situation for us,” said Castagnetti, who was the head coach for seven years in his first tenure. “It changes the approach for us a little, seeing teams we don’t usually see. But still you have to line up and play. We only concern ourselves with ourselves. We need to get better and that’s our focus.”

It helps that Castagnetti has four-year starter Danny Kesack back at quarterback. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Kesack can do a little bit of everything under the center. He threw for almost 1,800 yards and rushed for 700 more last year. He enters the 2012 season as one of the top players to watch in Bergen County.

“For the most part, Danny has put a lot on his shoulders to keep this going,” Castagnetti said. “Danny has a lot invested in this. He knows what he has to do in terms of managing the game better, when he needs to play up-tempo and when he needs to slow it down. He’s going to be used a lot more.”

Senior running back Bobby DeMarco (5-10, 190) also returns. DeMarco has been a secondary player in the last two years, but this time, it’s his turn to carry the bacon.

“He’s definitely paid his dues,” Castagnetti said of DeMarco. “He’s a northsouth runner. He’ll get his yards, then make that quick cut. It’s his time to take the torch and he’s ready. He’s going to set the tone for us in the backfield. He comes from a good family, who all played here, a rich football tradition. It’s his turn to leave his legacy.”

Junior Ian Cairns (5-8, 175) is the fullback. Cairns, who was a starter at middle linebacker last year, is another hard-nosed player, a typical Lyndhurst product.

Junior Issam Hatahet (5-8, 175) will also see time in the backfield. Castagnetti likes his speed and toughness.

“The beauty of this team is that all the running backs can interchange,” Castagnetti said. Senior Marcus Brandon (6-2, 190) returns to his starting wide receiver slot. “He has great hands and speed,” Castagnetti said. “He’s our deep threat.”

Senior Kyle Pollio (6-0, 170), who had a great winter last year on the basketball floor, also returns at wide receiver.

“He’s athletic and bringing his basketball skills to football,” Castagnetti said.

The tight end is senior Max Hart (6-2, 190), who enjoyed a solid spring for the Lyndhurst baseball team.

Up front, the Golden Bears have size and experience. Senior tackle Nick Coviello (6-1, 320) is getting a lot of attention. Senior Dominick Rega (6-5, 240) is a versatile athlete and talented blocker with good speed for a lineman. The guards are returning senior starter Nick Galvez (5-10, 240) and junior Deniz Akar (5-10, 195). Junior Nick Antorio (5-9, 175) is the center.

Defensively, the Golden Bears use Rega and Galvez at defensive end. Both started last year, with Rega causing all kinds of havoc to opponents. Coviello is a force at nose guard.

The outside linebackers are Hatahet and senior Endeavor Warrick (5-10, 170), with Cairns and DeMarco returning at inside linebacker. Very little gets past those two.

Brandon returns at cornerback, joined by junior Chris Cosenza (5-8, 160). Pollio and junior Jonathan Hoff (6- 0, 165) are the safeties.

No question, Castagnetti feels good about his team.

“We have a good team, but we have to get better,” Castagnetti said. “Again, we’re not entitled to anything. We have to remember all the hard work it took last year and try to get there again. We have good, tough schedule, so that should be a challenge, with battles all over. But we should be ready.”

North Arlington football: Looking to move up

Photo by Jim Hague/The North Arlington football team will look to improve this season, thanks to the play of their offensive line. From left are Nick Martin, Ian Camean, Brandon Navarro, head coach Anthony Marck, Mike Baloga, Danny Goffredo and Matt Karras.


By Jim Hague

Although the North Arlington High School football team struggled to a 2-8 record last year, head coach Anthony Marck feels good about the prospects of the season to come.

“We’re looking to build on what we started,” Marck said. “We’re going to build on a tremendous off-season, with an outstanding senior group leading the way.”

The Viking coaching staff restructured their summer workout schedule, with each coach getting 12 players to monitor.

“The plan worked great, because the attendance was tremendous,” Marck said. “These kids busted their tails. That’s the key. These kids saw the work ethic that helped our team go 7-3 two years ago and they want the same.”

The Vikings didn’t have a chance to compete fairly a year ago, courtesy of the damage caused by Hurricane Irene.

The extensive flooding along the Passaic River made Rip Collins Field unplayable. It left the Vikings without a place to hold practice and to play games.

“We practiced behind one grammar school on a 60-yard patch with no bags and no goalposts, but we made do,” Marck said. “We had to play three of our home games, including our Homecoming, at Lyndhurst. We appreciate what Lyndhurst did for us, but it never felt right. It never felt like a home game. We had to get on a bus and travel there. These kids had to endure a tremendous amount of adversity.”

But this year, calm has been restored.

“We have been able to get things back in order,” Marck said. “There are new bleachers in place (at Collins Field). It’s like anyone who had to be evacuated during the storm. Little by little, we’re moving back in.”

One of the other reasons why Marck feels good about his team is the return of senior quarterback A.J. Nocciolo, who has bulked up his already impressive frame to now stand 6-foot-3 and weigh 230 pounds. At most Group I schools, that size would put Nocciolo on the offensive line. But Nocciolo is a gifted package, a top college recruit who is being looked at by schools like UConn, Rutgers, Temple and James Madison.

“He’s now a four-year starter for us,” Marck said. “The sky’s the limit for him. I’ve never had a player be able to do the things he’s able to do. He’s able to make every professional throw. He’s a threat both running and throwing and he can throw on the run on a dime. We all believe he has the tools to be a Division I quarterback.”

Marck will put a lot of faith in Nocciolo this season.

“We’re going to have a run-pass option and let him determine which way we go,” Marck said. “He’s also a vocal leader. He’s very charismatic. If he’s in the room, you know it. He’s very engaging.”

Junior running back Mike Brazzel (5-7, 160) is a transfer from Queen of Peace who was timed at 4.58 in the 40-yard dash at the UConn football camp.

“He’s very athletic and he’s a speedster,” Marck said. “We can put him in the slot and he catches passes while no one can cover him. He’s a ‘shakeand- bake’ kind of kid and he’s like the Energizer Bunny, because he can go all day.”

Senior Jeremy Melendez (5- 7, 160) is the fullback. Melendez likes Marck’s toughness.

“He can hit the hole hard and go,” Marck said. “He’s been waiting his turn.”

Senior Denis Song (5-10, 180) is another capable running back.

“He’s a good athlete who rushed for about 300 yards for us last year,” Marck said. “He’s really strong and a nice complement to Brazzel.”

Senior Jimmy Cedola (5-10, 170) is the team’s top returning wide receiver.

“He has tremendous hands,” Marck said. “He’s not a speedster, but he gets to the ball. I like him as a pass catcher.”

Senior Andrew Paparelli (5- 9, 165) also returns. Paparelli has good speed and used it to return two kickoffs for touchdowns last year.

The tight end is impressive Nick Martin (6-2, 240), who will also get his fair share of college looks. Martin caught 29 of Nocciolo’s passes last year.

“He went to strength and speed coach in the off-season and it’s worked well,” Marck said. “I expect so much from him. A.J. wants to get him the ball.”

Up front, the Vikings welcome back senior tackle Ian Camean (6-0, 240) and sophomore guard Danny Goffredo (5-8, 180), who started last year as a freshman. Junior Matt Karras (6-1, 215) is at the other tackle, with senior Brandon Navarro (5-10, 215) at the other guard. Marck was impressed with the way Camean and Navarro battled in the weight room in the offseason.

The center is senior Mike Baloga (5-9, 180), who played tackle last year, but has now moved back to his natural position.

“The line is very athletic and can run well,” Marck said. “I like the way they’re getting off the ball. It helps having (former NA head coach) John Galante back on our staff. He’s worked well with them.”

The Vikings will utilize a 3-3 stack defense, a new approach.

The defensive ends are Camean and Navarro, with junior Gerry Galvan (6-1, 265) at the nose guard.

Paparelli and Brazzel bring speed to the outside linebacker slots, while Martin, Baloga and junior Kenny Kuzmuc (5- 9, 165) at the inside linebacker slots. Kuzmuc led the Vikings in tackles last year.

“He’s very instinctive,” Marck said of Kuzmuc.

The cornerbacks are Melendez and senior Rob Mc- Carthy (5-8, 165), who Marck called “our most consistent defensive back for the last two seasons.”

Nocciolo utilizes his stature at safety.

“It’s nice to have players like Nick Martin and A.J. in the middle of the field, looking at opponents,” Marck said. “They have to scare kids on the other end.”

The Vikings open the new season with Elmwood Park. There is improvement on the horizon.

“We’re really looking forward to the season,” Marck said.

After last year, with all the Vikings went through, anything is better.

Belleville’s Buccaneers ready for big things on gridiron

Photo by Jim Hague/ The Belleville High School football team will look to improve on last year’s 3-7 record under second-year head coach John Dubuque (center). From left are linemen Jeremy Feliciano, Joshua Marte, Dubuque, Will Padilla and Nick Nardachone.


By Jim Hague

When John Dubuque took over the head football coaching duties at Belleville High School last year, there was not a lot of time for preparation. Dubuque took over late and it took a while for the Buccaneers to get used to Dubuque’s system and coaching style.

After enduring a 3-7 first season in 2011, the Buccaneers are poised to be an improved group in 2012 in Dubuque’s second campaign.

“It’s probably the biggest plus I have coming into this year,” Dubuque said. “We can hit the ground running this year. I’ve had them for an entire year now. They know what I expect of them and they know what to expect of me.”

And speaking of expectations?

“I’d have to say the expectations are pretty high,” said Dubuque, whose team opens the 2012 season with a new wrinkle, facing archrival Nutley in the first game instead of the last game on Thanksgiving Day. “We no longer look at ourselves as being the doormats of the SEC (Super Essex Conference). It gives us a chance to be competitive right away. We’re on a more competitive level and that’s good. We have a good team, filled with good kids. We’re excited to get things going.”

The Buccaneers have senior Miguel Cosme (5-11, 175) as their starting quarterback. Cosme was a starter at defensive back last year, but has handled the transformation to starting signal caller very well.

“He does everything you ask of him and more,” Dubuque said.

Junior Carlos Ruales (5-8, 160) is the starter at running back. Ruales strictly played defense last year as a safety, but he is also making a fine move to be a key role in the offense.

“He’s doing everything necessary,” Dubuque said. “Carlos is still working hard to learn his role.”

Senior Pedro Acevedo (5-9, 160) is another key performer in the Belleville backfield. Acevedo did see some playing time at running back last year.

The Bucs do have a lot of talent at the receiver position in a pair of seniors, namely Aaquil Ingram (6-1, 220) and Shaq Richards (5-11, 175).

Ingram is a big target for Cosme and is a physical presence all over the field. If you watch the Bucs play this season, you’ll definitely notice Ingram. He stands out.

Richards is a four-year varsity performer for the Buccaneers, having played a host of different roles over the years. He’s now settled in as a receiver.

“He’s like our coach on the field, because he’s been around so long,” Dubuque said of Richards. “He’s shown a lot of promise so far in our practices.”

The Buccaneers utilize wing backs in their offense, so that means playing time for a pair of juniors in Daniel Espinal (5-7, 150) and Oscar Rosado (5-9, 160).

The Bucs’ offensive line has some decent size and strength, led by senior guard Will Padilla (6-0, 215), who is a returning starter.

Sophomore Nick Nardachone (6-0, 230) and junior Jeremy Feliciano (5-11, 200) are the tackles, with senior Aldo Martinez (5-9, 250), senior Nate James (6-2, 265) and junior Sergio Cosme (5- 10, 275 and no relation to the quarterback) all battling for time at guard.

The center is junior Joshua Marte (6-0, 235).

Defensively, Dubuque is getting more kids involved and would like to go two-platoon as much as possible.

The defensive ends are seniors Nick Costa (6-0, 175) and Ray Aguerto (5-8, 165), with James and Martinez manning the defensive tackle slots.

Senior Brandon Huaman (5-10, 185) is a force to be reckoned with at linebacker, joined by Acevedo and Padilla.

The secondary features the veteran Richards along with Ingram at safety, with Espinal and Rosado at cornerbacks.

Dubuque is ready for the season to begin and he doesn’t mind that it’s rival Nutley to kick it off.

“I love it,” said Dubuque, who will host the rivalry game this year at “Doc” Ellis Field. “It’s a great way to open the season. We’ll have about 8,000 people here under the lights. How cool is that? There will be a tailgate barbecue before the game. We’re bringing a lot of our alumni back. It’s going to be exciting. I embrace the fact we’re starting the season with our rival. This time, it counts. There are a lot of key points to playing Nutley to start the season. We’ve been gearing for it all summer long. How could you not get pumped up for that one?”

And as for the remainder of the schedule, the Bucs travel to Jersey City in Week Two to take on St. Anthony. No question, Belleville will know a lot about how they will stack up early on.

“We’re ready,” Dubuque said. “We’re in a much better position than we were last year.”

‘Accidental’ shooting victim now in jail

Nearly a month after a local man was believed to have accidentally shot himself in his apartment in a Kearny Avenue rooming house, the victim now faces criminal charges.

James Hamilton, 21, was reportedly enroute home from an appearance in Newark Municipal Court on Aug. 15 when he was spotted near Beech Street and Seeley Avenue by Police Chief John Dowie.

Knowing that local warrants had been issued by Municipal Court for Hamilton’s arrest, Dowie informed Hamilton of that fact and took him into custody.

Hamilton was booked on charges of unlawful possession of a handgun, unlawful disposition of a handgun and discharge of a firearm within town limits and was held at Hudson County Jail, Kearny, in lieu of $10,000 bail, no 10 percent cash option.

Dowie said Hamilton had no permit for the weapon, a .38-cal. Smith & Wesson revolver, which police seized as evidence the day of the shooting.

At 6 p.m. on Friday, July 19, police were called to Kearny and Halstead Avenues where Hamilton, bleeding heavily from the face, was found lying on the sidewalk in front of the rooming house at 344 Kearny Ave. as a crowd of onlookers gathered around him.

As an ambulance rushed Hamilton to an area hospital for treatment of his wound, police quizzed the victim’s friend, Ariel Cantillo, 21, of Kearny, about the circumstances leading to the shooting and ended up charging Cantillo with tampering with evidence and possession of a firearm after determining that Hamilton – after apparently firing a bullet through his jaw – allowed Cantillo to hide the gun.

The revolver, found to be empty except for one spent round, was traced by police to the roof of a garage adjacent to the rooming house.

After spending some time in the hospital while recovering from his wound, Hamilton was eventually released. Meanwhile, police concluded their investigation of the incident and prepared the criminal charges against him, then asked Municipal Court Judge Norman Doyle Jr. to issue warrants for Hamilton’s apprehension.

Here are other incidents logged by police during the past week:

Aug. 14

Police said Kevin Boutilette, 53, got pulled over by Sgt. Charles Smith at Davis Avenue and Hoyt Street at 7 p.m. after reportedly failing to signal while turning off Schuyler Avenue onto Tappan Street Observing that Boutilette appeared nervous and was sweating heavily, Smith spotted a glassine envelope containing suspected heroin and packaged with the label, “Headbanger,” in the car. Boutilette was charged with possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia and was ticketed for operating a vehicle while in possession of drugs and making an unsafe turn.

At 2:30 a.m. Officer Christian Medina responded to a report of an armed robbery. Police said the victim told Medina that he’d just gotten off work and he stopped at the Dunkin’ Donuts on Kearny Avenue before heading home along Maple Street when a man with a black handgun took $100 from him and fled west on Halstead Avenue Searching the area near the donut shop, Medina and Officer Ben Wuelfing spotted a man on a bicycle who was later identified by the victim as the suspected robber. The man, Adrian Bell, 22, of Harrison, was arrested on a robbery charge and held for an appearance in Hudson County Central Judicial Processing Court in Jersey City. No weapon or cash were recovered, police said.

At 1:15 a.m. Officer Ben Wuelfing spotted a vehicle with its trunk open parked in the public lot between Devon Terrace and Hoyt Street and investigated, finding a man sleeping in the driver’s seat and a woman asleep in the back seat. After determining that the woman – Mary Ackerson, 27, of Kearny – was wanted on a warrant charging her with an Aug. 5 assault in an Alexander Avenue residence, Wuelfing placed her under arrest. Ackerson was held pending setting of bail. The man was released.

Aug. 13

After witnessing a suspected drug transaction outside a Kearny Avenue apartment building near Woodland Avenue at 8:45 p.m., detectives followed the alleged buyer to Davis Avenue where they arrested Geraldo Peralta, 32, of Kearny, on charges of possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia after finding four plastic bags containing suspected marijuana on him. Returning to the apartment building at 9:50 p.m., they confronted the suspected seller, Lara Alejandra, 28, and got consent to search her apartment where, according to police, they found the following: three large plastic bags of suspected marijuana in a lock box; two large bags containing 99 smaller bags of suspected marijuana; two digital scales; numerous Ziploc plastic bags; a bag with 45 Baclofen pills (a prescription muscle relaxer); and $234 in suspected drug sale proceeds. Alejandra was charged with possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of drugs with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school and within 500 feet of a park and possession of a prescription legend drug. Bail was set at $3,500 with 10 percent cash option.

At 5 p.m. police arrested Michael Ortiz, 27, of Kearny, at Highland and Woodland Avenues on an outstanding warrant for $1,000 from North Arlington. After Ortiz tried to discard a cigarette pack, police said they found three glassine folds of suspected heroin labeled “Devil’s Tears” in the pack. Ortiz was charged with possession of heroin and paraphernalia.