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Relief for commuters

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  LYNDHURST –  After what Lyndhurst Mayor Robert Giangeruso characterized as “33 years of starts and stops,” the township – with help from Bergen County – is finally beginning to see the start of improvements to the intersection at Kingsland and Riverside Aves. The changes […]

Convicted in mortgage swindle

A Belleville man was among three defendants convicted earlier this month in federal court for their roles in a $15 million mortgage fraud scheme involving condominiums in New Jersey and Florida, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman reported. Last month, another Belleville resident pleaded guilty in the same scam. According to […]

Walmart is keeping cops busy

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  The Walmart in Kearny is conveniently located on Harrison Ave., with easy access to Rt. 280, the N.J. Turnpike and feeder roads to Newark and Jersey City. This is a boon for shoppers. However, according to Kearny police, it is […]

2011 layoffs affirmed

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY – Four former Kearny workers, including a union chief, have lost the first round of a bid to reverse their New Year’s Eve dismissals nearly three years ago. In a 21-page ruling issued Sept. 3, the state Office of Administrative Law […]

Go pink at St. Michael’s

Don your favorite pink attire and join St. Michael’s Medical Center for a Breast Cancer Awareness Month event — Breast Health & You — on Saturday, Oct. 25, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at SMMC’s Connie Dwyer Breast Center, 111 Central Ave., Newark. Dr. Nadine Pappas, director of […]


Death knell for Catholic education in W. Hudson?


Photo by Anthony J. Machcinski/ Mater Dei Academy has announced it will close at the end of this school year.


By Anthony J. Machcinski

Thus, it becomes our sad duty to inform you that the Archdiocese of Newark has concluded that Mater Dei Academy will cease operations at the end of the current academic year.”

This statement, from a letter to parents of Mater Dei school children, conveyed the grim news that their children would be unable to attend the school next year.

“I was shocked,” said one parent of a seventh-grader who requested anonymity. “My child was upset. He wanted to graduate with his classmates.”

The school, which was created three years ago with the merger of St. Stephen’s in Kearny and Holy Cross in Harrison. According to Archdiocesan spokesman Jim Goodness, the decision had been finalized by the Archdiocese within the last month and communicated to the administration at the school.

In the letter sent to parents, Pastoral Administrator Rev. Michael G. Ward, V.F., and Principal Deborah DeMattia, wrote: “Unfortunately, due to our poor economy, competition from charter schools and other factors, enrollment has continued to decline, not just at Mater Dei, but other area schools as well. The financial stability of the Academy has become unsustainable. We believe these trends will continue for the near future, thus making it necessary to significantly increase tuition. We all know that such an increase would be prohibitive for you.”

Goodness echoed the letter’s dire forecast.

“You’re looking at a decline in enrollment over the three years of about 80 students,” Goodness said. “It opened up in 2009-2010 and had 250 students and this year there are only 170…Having said that, the next step would have been to look at an increase in tuition in the per student charges in the school…It creates an excessive burden and would have made continuing prohibitive.”

Nonetheless, parents are doing everything in their power to keep the school open.

“We made $86,000 in fundraising alone last year,” said Cindy Schirm, a school board member the past two years whose daughter – at this point – figures to be in Mater Dei’s final graduating class. And some parents have begun a petition drive in hopes of keeping the school open.

Others, however, have already started planning for their children’s education in a post-Mater Dei universe.

“I’m most likely going to put them in Queen of Peace,” said Adriana Anders, a mother who currently has a third- and sixth-grader in Mater Dei and another child currently in Queen of Peace High School. “I can’t put them in public school because they would have to go to three different schools (based on Anders’ residence).”

In an effort to address parents’ concerns about where their children can go next school year, Goodness says the Archdiocese has something already in the works.

“What will be happening is parents will have an opportunity to meet with schools in a much higher position in terms of numbers and be able to transition into another school for September,” Goodness said. He was unsure when these meetings would take place.

While many students were upset about the school’s closing and not having the opportunity to graduate with many of their friends, they were unhappy for their teachers, who according to parents, created a “family-like” atmosphere.

“(My son) enjoyed going to school with the teachers,” explained the anonymous parent. “They made it more of a family place.”

Teachers, who will lose their jobs at Mater Dei, will have the opportunity, according to Goodness, to apply for jobs inside the archdiocese.

“They can apply for any open position in the archdiocese,” Goodness explained. “However, should a job not be available, there is a severance program in place for those teachers. That’s all something we discussed through human resources. Some of that has already started.”

The demise of Mater Dei would mark the closing of the last Catholic school in West Hudson, since the merger of St. Stephen’s and Holy Cross in September 2009

News in brief


Real-life spouses Mary Costello and Jim Hague will share the stage in the West Hudson Arts & Theater Company’s production of A.R. Gurney’s play, “Love Letters.”

Performances are Friday, March 9, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 10, at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m., at the Arlington Players Club, 12 Washington Place. Tickets are $20.

In the play, Costello portrays an artist, Melissa Gardner, and Hague is cast as an attorney, Andrew Makepeace Ladd III, who begin a longterm correspondence as second-grade classmates and continue – even as they lead separate lives – for a halfcentury.

Both Costello and Hague said they welcomed a chance to participate with W.H.A.T. in helping revitalize the performing arts in the region.

Costello, a Kearny resident who was raised in Harrison, is a Hudson County Superior Court judge. In her only prior acting experience, she played a judge in a 2008 Attic Ensemble production of “Night of January 16th.”

Several years ago, Costello saw “Love Letters” performed at the Attic Ensemble by her current director, Mark Morchel, and Joanne Smith. “I was one of many wiping tears away. I think if you can watch (the play) and not be moved – either to laughter or tears – because there are also lighthearted moments in the play – there’s something wrong with you,” Costello said.

And “Love Letters” resonates personally with Costello for another reason. “It’s a play about two people who love each other – and that’s us – Jim and I – so it’s not too big a stretch,” she says.

Hague, a sportswriter for The Observer and for other papers, said he relates well to one of the show’s themes, a faithful partnership kept alive by the couple’s exchange of the written word.

Elaborating, Hague said that in the play, his character explains his preference for writing rather than telephoning is based on the fact that, “letters are more personal, part of your personality, which is what writing is all about and, as a writer myself, I can relate to that.”

Picking up on that notion, Costello says she finds relevance to today’s technologypaced word. “These days, everybody’s texting, blogging, calling each other on the cell phone,” she says. “(Jim and I) are guilty of it, too.”

Hague’s prior stage experience includes two stints as Norman Bulansky in “The Boys Next Door” in 1991 and 1993. He also played legendary Mayor Frank Hague in “The Chase and Sanborn Mystery Hour” for the Attic in 1994.

“I’m excited about this new venture,” Hague said. “It’s huge to have theater out here. I’m all for it.”

And, he confesses, it could have something to do with the fact that “I’m a huge ham.”


Carlos Campos, the accused killer of his parents and niece in Harrison last summer, was arraigned last Tuesday, Feb. 21, before Hudson County Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Arre, sitting in Jersey City.

Campos’ court-appointed lawyer, Hudson County Dep. Public Defender Joseph Russo, told the court he hadn’t yet received all the discovery he’d requested from the state’s representative, Asst. Hudson County Prosecutor Michael D’Andrea.

“And some if it is not readable,” Russo added.

D’Andrea, meanwhile, advised the judge that he had made “no offer at this time” for plea bargaining the case.

D’Andrea said he’d be filing an application for a “forensic examination” of the defendant which, he added, would include a request for a “bite mark.” Later, outside court, the assistant prosecutor declined to elaborate.

Campos is charged with murdering his parents, Carlos A. Campos-Trinidad, 57, and Ruth Pereira, 58, and his 3-year-old niece, Gabriella Morales, Aug. 16, 2011, at the family home on Hamilton Street.

Campos, who remains in Hudson County Jail, Kearny, on $1 million bail, is due back in court Sept. 10.

-Ron Leir




By Ron Leir


For many years, St. Stephen’s Church in Kearny has offered a special Mass in February dedicated to the parish’s former curate, the Rev. John P. Washington, one of the “Four Chaplains” who gave their lifejackets to others during the sinking of the USAT Dorchester in the North Atlantic on Feb. 3, 1943, by a German U-boat.

With the 70th anniversary of the chaplains’ deaths to be observed next year, St. Stephens’ parish will be raising money for the design and construction of a monument honoring Rev. Washington and his colleagues.

Together with Rev. Washington, the other chaplains ship were the Rev. George L. Fox, a Methodist; Rabbi Alexander D. Goode; and the Rev. Clark V. Poling, of the Reformed Church of America.

John DelMonaco, president of the parish council, said that St. Stephens pastor, the Rev. Joseph Mancini, came to the council with the proposal “and we were very impressed and excited about it. We recommended that he proceed.”

The ambitious plan was disclosed to St. Stephens’ parishioners at the Mass honoring Rev. Washington earlier this month.

DelMonaco said that the monument project was being undertaken, not only for the local parish but also for the Town of Kearny and the larger community “to recognize the bravery and heroism of Father Washington and the other chaplains on the Dorchester … and to remind us of the sacrifices those in the armed services today make for all of us.”

“It is our intention to finish the project and have its dedication in time for next year’s Mass,” DelMonaco said.

John P. Washington was born July 18, 1908, in the Roseville section of Newark, the first child of Frank and Mary Washington. Six more siblings followed. The family’s home parish was St. Rose of Lima where young John served as an altar boy and, early on, aspired to the priesthood.

After graduating from Seton Hall College in South Orange in 1931, Washington entered the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Darlington, became a deacon in 1934 and a priest in 1935. He was assigned, initially, to St. Genevieve’s in Elizabeth and then to St. Venantius in Orange before arriving at St. Stephen’s in 1937 as the parish was in the process of relocating from Midland Ave. to Washington Ave.

St. Stephen’s parish trustee, retired Municipal Court Judge John McLaughlin, says he was in kindergarten or first grade at the time and he recalls that, “Father Washington used to take the altar boys and various classes from school to Bertrand’s Island, an amusement area in Lake Hopatcong. I went. He was pretty good at working with kids.”

Parishioner Paul Shalvoy, one of the altar boys who helped Rev. Washington serve Mass at St. Stephen’s, said that when the priest was in charge of the local Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), he arranged to transport a St. Stephen’s youth team to Ruppert Stadium in Newark’s Ironbound area to participate in CYO track meets. “I was in St. Stephen’s grammar school at the time and I ran in the relay races,” Shalvoy recalled. “And I remember that Father Washington bought us hotdogs and sodas and in the late ‘30s, that was a treat. He was a very nice guy.”

Sketch courtesy St. Stephen’s Parish/ A frontal view of the proposed Four Chaplains monument designed by Timothy Schmalz.

Revs. Washington and Byrne used to go house-to-house to take the parish census, McLaughlin recalled.

At St. Stephen’s, Washington developed a reputation as a “forward thinking” cleric, Mancini said. “He integrated public and parochial school children for social gatherings, for example, which was unheard of for that time.”

As the story goes, Mancini said, on Dec. 7, 1941, Washington had taken his mother out to dinner in North Arlington and, on their way back to Kearny, heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was then, Mancini said, that the young priest decided to enlist.

He very nearly didn’t make it.

According to Shalvoy, Washington wanted to go into the Navy but was rejected because of flawed sight in his right eye.

“Well,” Shalvoy said, “one of our other priests, Father Gordon Byrne, who was home on military leave at the time, suggested trying the Army, instead, because they gave the physical in a darkened room and when you read the eye chart, you could hold the card over the same eye for each reading, so that’s what Father Washington did – he covered the same (bad) eye twice” and passed the physical and was appointed an Army chaplain, assigned to the 76th Infantry Div.

On Nov. 13, 1942, Washington was sent to Camp Myles Standish in Taunton, Mass., and on the train ride there, relates St. Stephen’s parishioner Nancy Waller, Washington encountered her husband’s parents who were then enroute to Boston for their honeymoon.

“They were probably the last parishioners to see Father Washington before he shipped out,” Waller said.

It was in New England that Washington made his final stop on the road to war: He went to Military Chaplains School at Harvard where he met Fox, Goode and Poling.

In January 1943, all four sailed out of Boston Harbor on the Dorchester, a converted luxury liner, as part of a threeship Army Transport convoy, bound for Greenland.

They would never reach their destination.

According to Mancini, survivors’ accounts indicate that Washington went to bat for Jewish servicemen looking to hold Sabbath services Friday night in the ship’s mess hall. Non-Jewish soldiers playing cards there weren’t inclined to move but Washington reportedly persuaded them to take their game elsewhere.

Early on Feb. 3, 1943, a German sub fired three torpedoes into the Dorchester, quickly sending the vessel to a watery grave. Of some 900 men aboard, only 230 survived.

In 1944, the Army awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and Purple Heart to the four chaplains, presenting the medals to family members; in 1948, the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating their selfless actions; and in 1961, Congress authorized a Special Medal for Heroism awarded by President Eisenhower.

After the tragedy, Waller said, “Clubs were formed in the parish in Father Washington’s name. They put on performances, fundraisers.” McLaughlin remembers parishioner Irma Long spearheaded a campaign to have Father Washington canonized by Rome, “but it never got off the ground.”

And St. Stephens began a practice of holding an annual Mass in Father Washington’s memory. Last year’s service, for example, drew close to 400 attendees, including about 100 members of veterans’ organizations, Mancini said.

Mancini said the idea for the monument came about as a byproduct of a conversation he had last October with Brooklyn artist Fred Moshey, who does reproductions of religious statutes and other items.

“At the time, I was thinking of establishing a (religious) gift shop here at the parish,” Mancini said, “and I was giving Fred a tour of the church and I showed him the granite tablet there honoring Father Washington.”

Moshey happened to mention his visit to St. Stephen’s and the connection to the Four Chaplains to a Canadian sculptor colleague Timothy P. Schmalz who expressed his desire to memorialize the quartet with a 12-foot-tall, 2,000 pound bronze monument.

As envisioned by Schmalz, the front of the monument would depict the chaplains, praying, in the stern of the Dorchester and the back would present an angel holding the four life vests and, enclosed in the center of the angel’s spreading wings, an image of the Dorchester sinking beneath the waves.

Mancini proposes to install the memorial on the front lawn of the church, close to Kearny Ave. and just off the Centennial brick walkway, near the flagpoles.

The pastor said he’s considering relocating the 9/11 steel beam cross to that area, together with the Four Chaplains monument, to create a “memorial garden reflection area.”

A “core committee” of Deacon Earl White and parishioner Nancy Waller has been appointed to flesh out those plans and to raise the estimated $97,000 needed to pay for the monument.

“We plan to raise a portion of that from our parishioners,” Mancini said. “We would also reach out to local businesses and we want to talk to veterans’ groups about enlisting their support.”

The local chapter of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization, has also volunteered to help, he said.

Parishioners are being invited to participate in the Four Chaplains Memorial project via a “three-tiered level of giving” as follows: A gift of $125 to $249 entitles the donor to a 12- inch replica of the monument; for $250 to $399, the donor receives the 12-inch statue and a paver in the walkway; people who give $400 or more get the statue, paver and an invitation to “Meet the Artist” at a wine and- cheese reception the eve of the dedication.

With the number of World War II-era veterans dwindling, Mancini said the monument will serve “to keep the story of the Four Chaplains going” and to reinforce the message of the chaplains’ “bravery, courage and sacrifice, which kids today especially need to hear.”

“Today,” the pastor said, “there’s a lot of emphasis on ‘I’ – we have the I-Pod, I-Pad, I-Max – there’s no sense of ‘you’ or ‘us.’ We read about multi-million dollar sports celebrity heroes. But we need genuine heroes who embody truth. And I know of no better example than this excerpt from the Gospel of St. John: ‘Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends.’ ’’

Native son going west for new job

Photo by Ron Leir/ Victor Canning


By Ron Leir


From Essex to Morris.

That’s the route being taken by Township Manager Victor Canning who is resigning his current job in Belleville on March 14 and, the next day, will take over as the new township administrator in Montville, where he also happens to live.

Canning, who was hired by the Montville Township Committee on Feb. 14 at a yearly salary of $144,000, submitted his letter of resignation to the Belleville Township Clerk’s Offi ce on Feb. 15, thereby giving one month’s notice of his departure.

Belleville Mayor Raymond Kimble said: “I’m sorry to see Victor go. He’s been here (as township administrator) six years. I think we worked well together and I wish him the best in his new job.”

Kimble said he would form a search committee – “probably Councilman (John) Notari, Councilman (Michael) Nicosia and myself” – to find a replacement for Canning.

“If no one’s been hired by March 15, we’ll probably make an interim appointment,” the mayor said. Another key fiscal employee preparing to leave is Township Tax Collector Joan Conway, who has also been functioning as an interim chief fiscal officer since August 2008. She’s been the collector for the past nine years. Kimble said that Conway’s slated to retire the end of April.

Kimble said he was “a little surprised” by Canning’s decision to move on “but I don’t blame him,” he added. “I believe their (Montville) manager makes more (than in Belleville) and it’s where he lives so I would expect that he would take advantage of that. I hope that our next manager will know Belleville the same as Victor which would be a plus for us.”

Canning currently earns $129,557 a year.

When a reporter visited him last week at the Belleville Municipal Building, Canning – who says his family “goes back 100 years” in Belleville – already had his desk cleaned out and most of his personal items packed in boxes.

“I want to thank the mayor and council for affording me the opportunity to lead Belleville the last six years and for affording me life lessons,” Canning said. “This is where I’m from and I’m always going to hold a special place in heart for Belleville. Even after I’m gone, I want the town to know I’m only a phone call away.”

Canning started his career as a civil servant as a member of the Township Council from 1994 to 1998, serving as mayor from 1996 to 1997 in the process. In 1998 he was appointed to the Belleville Police Department and was a police officer through 2006 when he was appointed township manager.

Recently, Canning – as the township’s policy executor – ran into opposition from some council members on funding certain capital projects and was forced to back away from a $3.45 million bond ordinance after those members organized a residents’ petition drive to block it.

As a result, Canning now concedes that plans for a new firehouse in the Silver Lakes section are dead “because of the petitions.” Councilmen Steve Rovell and Michael Nicosia objected to what they considered awkward location for the new facility and questioned whether the Fire Dept. would have enough personnel to staff two companies there.

But for Canning, the plan still made sense. “To give up $634,000 that NJ Transit was willing to give us for the project doesn’t make sound economic principle but the voters have spoken,” Canning said. “We have met with NJ Transit asking them to reconsider using that money for rehabilitating our existing firehouse,” he said. “I think we’re missing a golden opportunity here.”

In the meantime, Canning said he believes the township will find a way to proceed with some of the other projects that were included as part of the now-defeated bond ordinance, such as the rebuilding of the Friendly House as a one-story facility with the help of $400,000 in county CDBG funding. But instead of using the facility for community recreation, Canning figures it can accommodate an expanded early childhood program. “We can double our pre-school program,” he said. And part of the new building can be opened to seniors for such activities as line-dancing and yoga, he said.

As for other items included in the ill-fated ordinance, Canning said the township will reallocate about $600,000 in capital money to buy public works equipment, repave various streets, build a new playground, fix municipal properties with leaky roofs and install an new HVAC system at Township Hall.

Despite his differences with the manager over the bond issue, Rovell credited Canning for his hard work. “He’s done the best job he could possibly due,” Rovell said.

Still, Rovell noted, “It’s an untimely departure, given that you’re in the midst of putting a budget together for the new fiscal year. But I think we’ve got some talented people who can see this through.”

An adversary in labor negotiations, PBA Local 28 President Bobby Kane, called Canning “a very fair man who looked out for the township of Belleville in tough financial times. Victor did an admirable job, considering the situation.”

“We’ve had our battles, of course,” Kane added, “but he was fair and easy to work with. He always had an open door policy. He did a good job for the township.”

Of the push-back he sometimes experienced, Canning was philosophical. “It’s like a family – you don’t always agree,” he said. “Sometimes the road gets bumpy. But I’m leaving Belleville a lot better place than when I found it. For the most part, I’ve managed to keep taxes under control, we’ve just fixed up our stadium with our turf project and we’ve been fixing our infrastructure – new water meters and water lines.”

In the last few years, Canning had prepared municipal layoff plans for both uniformed and civilian employees but the township averted those economic dismissals after Canning negotiated union concessions and allowed positions vacated via retirements or death to go unfilled.

Employee morale has improved under his watch, Canning asserted. “This place was a dysfunctional family until I got here,” he said. “I’ve given it a sense of government service.”

In the time left for him in Belleville, Canning hopes to wrap up bargaining with the unions representing rank-and-file and superior officers in the Fire Dept. for new labor pacts.

“I may be able to get those done before I leave,” he said. “Then I’ll have all my (employee labor) contracts done without having to go to arbitration.”

Local biker killed enroute to work

By Anthony J. Machcinski

North Arlington man riding his bicycle to work in the early morning hours of Feb. 16 was struck and killed while trying to cross Rt. 7. Leonard Jeffrey, 57, North Arlington resident, was riding his bike from his home to his place of employment in South Kearny when he was hit trying to get to the Fishhouse Road exit of Rt. 7. It is unclear whether he tried to ride across the highway or was walking his bike across, but around 4:10 a.m., was knocked down by a man in a pickup truck, also attempting to get to work.

The truck driver immediately stopped, blocked traffic to protect Jeffrey and called police. The victim was transported to University Hospitial in Newark where he was pronounced dead at 8:50 a.m.

The case is still pending review by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, but according to Kearny Police, no criminal charges are expected to be filed against the driver at this point, as the driver was doing the speed limit or lower and no alcohol or drugs were involved.

Traffic on Rt. 7 eastbound was closed at the Fishhouse Road ramp from 4:15 a.m. to about 7:30 a.m. that morning

St. Patrick’s Day parade expects record turnout

Photo courtesy Miss New Jersey Education Foundation/ Parade Grand Marshal Laurence Bennett (l.) and Dep. Grand Marshal Michael O’Donnell


By Ron Leir


It’s almost time to get out the green.

Yes, the United Irish Associations of West Hudson will again sponsor the 39th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 11 and Harrison Councilman Laurence Bennett will be leading the way as this year’s grand marshal.

“It’s a great honor to be chosen grand marshal,” Bennett said. “It’s important that we continue this parade and to make sure our younger people appreciate what our heritage means to this country. The Irish helped build our country. And we still have a lot of local Irish – and Scots – living here in West Hudson.”

Michael O’Donnell, a decorated East Newark police officer, will be the deputy grand marshal. “Unbelievable! It’s a great honor, growing up in town, to march in this parade,” he said.

Of Bennett’s selection as grand marshal, Quinn said: “Larry’s very deserving. I’ve known Larry about 30 years and he’s always been a guy who’s wanted to help people. Aside from his impressive resume, he also does a lot of things people don’t know about.”

This much is known: Bennett’s family owned and operated the Dairy Delight on Harrison Ave. Bennett recently retired as a supervisor from the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission. Since 2008 he has been a Third Ward Councilman in Harrison and, as recreation chairman, he helped secure lights for the Little League field. Bennett has served on the Planning Board, the Housing Authority and the Board of Adjustment.

Bennett has volunteered for the Harrison/East Newark Elks, serving currently as Exalted Ruler and chairing the Thanksgiving Day Meals on Wheels program, aided by the Knights of Columbus; and the Harrison Lions Club which has provided glasses to the needy and eye readers to the Public Library and Senior Center.


Parade revelers marching for the ‘green”


After the death of his son from an asthma attack at age 18, Bennett led a campaign to bring a paramedic unit near West Hudson Hospital, Kearny. He has chaired the Harrison/East Newark Drug Awareness and National Night-Out Committee. He has served the Volunteer Harrison Medical Reserve and Harrison Office of Emergency Management. A past president of the Holy Name Society, Bennett served on the board of directors of Pathways to Independence.

Larry and Rosemary Long Bennett have been married for 24 years. They have a daughter, Elizabeth; their son, Larry Jr., is greatly missed. Dep. Grand Marshal Michael O’Donnell, a Kearny High School alumnus, began his career in law enforcement in 1999 as a state correctional officer. In 2005 he joined the East Newark Police Dept. for whom he served as the DARE officer. He received the Hometown Hero/Police Officer of the Year award from the Harrison/East Newark Elks lodge and he was recognized by Kearny Police Chief John Dowie for his arrest of armed robbery suspects.

For the past six years, O’Donnell coached Pop Warner Football. In 2009 and 2010 he coached the Junior team to the Pop Warner League Super Bowl. He also coaches Little League baseball and, most recently, he coached his Little League team to an undefeated season.

As a member of the Harrison/ East Newark Elks, O’Donnell helps his father-in-law Terry Gilmore cater the Harrison Senior Citizens St. Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas parties.

Michael and Donna Gilmore O’Donnell have five children: Christina, Briana, Amber, Michael and Haley.

On March 11, a “Peace in Ireland” Mass will be offered at noon at Holy Cross Church, Harrison Ave. and Frank Rodgers Blvd., with the Rev. Michael Ward, pastor of St. Cecilia’s Church, Kearny, officiating. And the Irish flag will be raised.

Photo courtesy Miss New Jersey Education Foundation/ Miss New Jersey 2011, Kathryn Nicolle


Then, at 2 p.m., the parade begins. More than 1,000 marchers are expected to turn out for what UIA of West Hudson President Kevin Quinn predicts will be “one of the largest since our beginning in 1973.”

“With over 50 marching units taking part, the parade has been expanded (from four) to five divisions,” said Quinn.

Among the groups confirmed to march are the Color Guard of the West Hudson Marine Corps League, the St. Columcille United Gaelic Pipe Band, the Hudson County Police and Fire Pipes & Drums, the Kearny High School Band, Friends of Erin, Military Transport Association of Northern N.J., Hudson County Sheriff’s Dept., Monmouth County Police Pipe Band, WCBS 101.1 FM, Cifelli Association, Ragtimers Band, East Newark Volunteer Fire Dept., Harrison/East Newark Elks, Newark Bears Baseball Organization, Irish American Cluba and Knights of Columbus. Kearny High School will also send a float whose theme will reflect the musical, “Little Shop of Horrors,” sponsored by Teen Drama, which students will perform March 22-24 at the high school.

Returning to the parade is Miss New Jersey 2011, Kathryn Nicolle, who marched in 2008 when she was chosen Miss New Jersey Outstanding Teen.

And the U.S. Navy Submarine School Silver Dolphin Drill Team will also be part of the mix. The Silver Dolphins are active sailors training to be submariners at the Navy Submarine School in Groton, Conn.

The march, which proceeds through Harrison, East Newark and Kearny, starts at Third St. and Harrison Ave., proceeds on Frank Rodgers Blvd., then to Central Ave., then Second St., then Sherman Ave., back to Frank Rodgers Blvd., then over the bridge to Kearny Ave., ending at the reviewing stand in front of Kearny Town Hall at Quincy Ave.

Michael Conlon is parade adjutant.

After the parade ends, marchers will disperse to events sponsored by members of the UIA.

This hunter can really rack ‘em up

Photos by Anthony J. Machcinski


Photos by Anthony J. Machcinski/ Bob Norcia Sr. displays some of the trophies and deer antlers he’s collected over the years.


By Anthony J. Machcinski

Unlike its portrayal in movies, archery is a skilled sport. Unlike the movie “300” where Persian archers simply launch thousands of arrows into the air and hope to hit their target, hunters who use a bow are, typically, only able to manage one shot to hit their target. This is usually done by sitting above the target in a tree and by using silence and precision to achieve their goal.

Not only does archery require a patient and a steady hand, but the strength to draw the bow back and being able to climb into a tree.

At age 75, North Arlington’s Bob Norcia Sr. can be considered somewhat of a freak of nature.

“I stay in shape by exercising, weightlifting, crabbing, fishing, and hunting,” Norcia said when asked how he manages to hunt as a septuagenarian.

A hunter since 1969, Norcia has used his skill to take down over 200 deer, while hunting in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Unlike many inhumane hunters who hunt simply to kill, Norcia eats or gives away the meat from the deer.

“(The) majority of the deer is prepared in sausage fashion and given away to people that could use the meat,” Norcia explained. “I take great pride in giving people something they could use and I take pride in always helping other people.” Norcia’s charity was evidenced when he donated the meat from two whole deer to a dinner for Gail’s Angels, an organization that supports women with breast cancer and autistic children. The event, held April 23, 2011, which was organized by Norcia, Jim Babai, and Pat Bikoff, drew well over 100 people and generated more than $4,500 in donations for Gail’s Angels.

What makes Norcia’s talent so extraordinary is the type of bow he uses. Norcia uses a recurve, a traditional bow where the tips curve forward, instead of a compound, which uses a series of pulleys that make drawing the bow easier. For example, a compound bow with an 80% let-off and a 50 lb. draw would take 10 lbs. of resistance to draw. With a recurve, the same 50 lb. draw would take the full 50 lbs to draw. “

I feel like its great sport to go with the bow,” said Norcia, who switched to a bow from a 12-gauge shotgun around the early ‘80s. “It’s a bigger thrill [taking down a deer] than with a gun, especially with a recurve.”

Anyone touring Norcia’s basement can see his success with the Sumi Bowman, an archery club where Norcia was classified as a class B archer, the second highest level.

Norcia’s basement and garage is filled with deer antlers from his adventures. One new addition to the garage is what Norcia calls “The Perfect Eight.”

In hunting, a deer with a symmetrical antler rack is considered perfect. Norcia’s symmetrical eight-pointer was one of the more recent additions.

“The deer had to be a little over 200 lbs,” Norcia recalled. “All I know is, I broke my butt trying to get it in the car.”

Norcia plans to mount the rack from “The Perfect Eight” on a plaque he’ll make by hand.

While hunting is perceived as a pastime for many of the inhabitants of the American South and West, Norcia is a case in point that proves passion for the sport isn’t limited to those regions. With skill, precision, and health, Norcia hopes to continue to hunt as long as he possibly can.




By Lisa Pezzolla

The Observer’s first pub crawl was successful, so we will be planning for our second annual pub crawl, which luckily lands on a Saturday this year. If anyone has suggestions or wants to join in the fun, facebook or get onto our twitter account so you will be able to follow us.

These pub crawls are held all over the world. Maryborough, Queensland, Australia holds the Guinness World Record for the largest pub crawl in 2005 which with 4,718 people attending.

We will have a pull-out section showing advertisers who will be participating in our pub crawl and we will have a map showing where it will begin and end. We will also have a scavenger hunt and teams that will be attending each pub.

If you are interested in participating, please contact The Observer at 201-991- 1600 and leave a message or email entertainment@theobserver.com.

Bags will be given to the participating pubs to gather items that will be hidden for the scavenger hunt. Some items may be easier to find than others.

Bags will be brought to The Observer and we will have a drawing for the most items found.

In future issues of The Observer, we will announce the schedule along with a list of the items that will be hidden.

This is a great way to meet new friends or have fun with old ones. If you are a local pub and want to join the fun, call The Observer at 201- 991-1600 and we will keep you posted in the weeks ahead.

The Electric Car Revolution – D.O.A. (Discharged on Arrival)

I just read an interesting report. It seems the newest wave of electric cars are moving off of showroom floors at a rate that makes a glacier seem quick by comparison. To put it bluntly, sales are tanking. The buying public is showing these oddly silent vehicles about as much respect as they did comedian Rodney Dangerfield. To use an electrical impulse metaphor, the cars are currently “flatlining.”

This is distressing since these vehicles have been heralded as the most promising step in our path toward oil independence. The American government even offers generous tax incentives to lure drivers away from their dinosaurdrinkers in favor of these new “green” automobiles. Yet they barely sell. So, what gives? Well, I hate to kick an entire technology when its down, but I could have told them so.

In the beginning when electric cars were in their infancy their biggest problem was speed, or more precisely the lack thereof. With gas-powered cars easily capable of topping 100mph, not many were enticed by vehicles that could manage barely half of that – and at far stiffer prices to boot.

But that’s only part of the story. Designed in a classic form-follows-function style, these newfangled electric vehicles raised the ugly quotient by a sizable margin. Even if driving one benefitted Mother Earth and wrested proceeds from profit-crazy OPEC nations and equally greedy American concerns, not many were willing to pay big to go slow in one of these monstrosities. But that was then. Time and technology marched on and these deficiencies were eventually addressed. These days, if one wants speed and looks in their electric vehicle, they can drool over an ultra-sleek and blisteringly fast (0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds) Tesla Roadster wrapped up in Ferrari-like bodywork. Of course this exotic car carries an equally exotic price (over $100,000) but that misses the point. The Tesla, named for the inventor of AC current, has forever removed electric cars from the Poindexter category and made it “hip” to drive one. Nevertheless, some nagging problems continue to dog the technology.

The bane of electric cars is their limited range and lengthy recharge times. The far more affordable Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt, for example, offer operational ranges of just 75 miles and 35 miles (when run solely on electric current), respectively, and lengthy charge times of 4-12 hours – hardly a setup that will encourage people to ditch their more practical gasoline-powered vehicles.

Sure, one can argue, Tesla also manufactures a series of sedans that will go more than 200 miles on a charge, but the buy-in for these beauties starts at around $50,000; a price that places them firmly in luxury car territory.

So what’s the bottom line? It’s simply this: Who in heck wants to get stuck for hours at Aunt Matilda’s house when their battery runs out after Sunday brunch? Let’s face it, there’s only so much fruitcake a person can eat!

So, engineers, if you’re listening here’s the answer from an admitted layman’s standpoint: Somehow, some way you MUST give these cars a 200- mile range or better, and a recharge time more in line with a gasoline fill-up than a human sleep cycle. Then price them to move – even if this means taking an initial hit in profits, stir, and count the pile of cash that’s certain to come your way down the road.

And for those of us who wish to drive farther still, a nationwide network of recharge stations makes as much sense as our current system of gas stations. I can already see the new “Get Juiced!” and “Catch a Buzz!” franchises. Hmm… I might want to trademark those.

When the slide rule gang accomplishes this, people will get all “charged-up” and electric cars will “hum” off of showroom floors. Then, it’ll be “bye-bye Dino-juice” and “hello DC power!”

Will it ever happen?

Perchance to dream. But in the meantime one thing seems certain: These oil-cheaters sure ain’t world-beaters. Or, as Kermit the Frog says: “It’s not easy being green!”

-Jeff Bahr

We’ve got mail

To the editor:

Once again, the residents of Belleville have received requests from the police and fire unions for donations to their unions. This reader wonders why?

The request from the police union indicated the money will be used for the little league PBA team, high school programs, food baskets and to help with the general operations of this union. This reader learned that the phone is paid for by the taxpayers, and PBA headquarters is in the police station. What other expenses are we being asked to pick up?

Police and firefighters are an important part of the community. Most of them are greatly appreciated for their bravery and their bravery and they exhibit courtesy, professionalism, and respect to the public, their employers. A few police members, however, are bullies and arrogant. The police should not assume one is guilty when arresting someone, and should not abuse him.

The average professional receives a salary and benefits of at least $100,000 per year. This is probably more than twice what the rest of us receive from work or pension. They can retire much sooner than the rest of us. Why can’t they fund their own charities and union expenses?

It would be great if they would help start a Police Athletic League Club and, if not possible, volunteer to help staff a new recreation building to show our young people that they are concerned with their quality of life, and that they are paid to protect them, not intimidate them. Each officer can improve community relations by his or her attitude.

The teachers, the public workers, and other groups donate to the town with their money. It should be mentioned, the teachers have to pay for their four years of education and lose four years of income. The police and fire personnel not only get vocationally trained for free for a short time, but are paid.

The second concern is the perception that those who contribute will get better treatment. Putting these stickers on a house or car, gold shields on front car windows, carrying a business card from the police union will prevent us from getting that ticket or a hard time.

During contract negotiations, many local businesses put up signs prepared by the unions: “Support your local police and fire.” Did they feel under pressure to do so?

Do unions financially support our businesses? Decals, gold shields, union cards, stickers all over a car – do they invite special treatment? What happened to “liberty and justice for all?”

-David Harris


To the editor:

I was delighted to read the new USDA guidelines requiring schools to serve meals with twice as many fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, less sodium and fat, and no meat for breakfast. The guidelines were mandated by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act signed by President Obama in December of 2010 and will go into effect with the next school year.

The new guidelines offer a welcome change from USDA’s tradition of using the National School Lunch Program as a dumping ground for meat and dairy surpluses. Not surprisingly, 90% of American children are consuming excess fat, only 15% eat recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, and one-third have become overweight or obese. These early dietary flaws become lifelong addictions, raising their risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

In recent years, Hawaii, California, New York, and Florida legislatures asked their schools to offer daily vegetarian options, and most school districts now do.  The Baltimore public school system offers its 80,000 students a complete weekly break from meat.

Parents should continue to insist on healthful plant-based school meals, snacks, and vending machine items.  They can consult www.fns.usda.gov/cnd, www.healthyschoollunches.org, and www.vrg.org/family.

-Kenneth Miller