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One dead in Lyndhurst shooting

The state Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team is investigating a fatal shooting of the driver of a stolen SUV at the Lyndhurst-Rutherford border early Tuesday, Sept. 16, according to a press release issued by the AG’s Office. The driver, identified […]

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‘Sober House’ rattles residents

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent  KEARNY – The corner house at Grand Place and Stewart Ave. doesn’t really stand out in any particular way, but it’s drawn a lot of attention from neighbors – and not in a good way. Many packed the assembly chambers at […]

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2nd hotel signals growth

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent  HARRISON –  The town of Harrison, with a current population of about 14,000 but growing thanks to several new residential projects rising in its waterfront redevelopment area, now has a second hotel. It is the Element Harrison, the brand’s second hotel in New […]

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A harvest of plenty in special garden

By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent  HARRISON–  Somewhere in Harrison, there is a magical place. If we were telling this story as a fairy tale, it would begin: Once upon a time, there was a small plot of land on which a happy home had stood. […]

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Vino, verily, arriving soon

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent  KEARNY – Starting next month, the Kearny Farmers Market will be offering a new, sweet treat as part of the fresh, Jersey-grown produce for its patrons. We’re talking vino, folks. The town governing body voted last Tuesday night to permit the Four […]

 
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Suspects linked to series of robberies & attacks in West Hudson towns

HARRISON – Police say three men arrested in Harrison on Jan. 11 are believed to have participated in three recent robberies – two in Harrison and one in Kearny.

Two of the three are suspects in another Harrison robbery.

Tyrome Bush, 19, of Newark, Andrew Leverson, 26, of East Orange, and Richard Avent, 21, of Irvington, have been committed to the Hudson County Jail, Kearny, each on bail of $250,000 pending prosecution.

The first incident took place on Jan. 6 when a Warren St. resident of Harrison was robbed and assaulted in front of his home by two men at about 10:43 p.m. The victim told police that two men – later identified as Leverson and Avent – approached him and demanded money, then searched his pockets, took his cellular phone and backpack and stabbed him once in each of his legs before running away.

He was taken to University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey Hospital, Newark, for treatment.

On Jan. 11 at 5:25 p.m. police located the victim of a stabbing on Central Ave. in Harrison. Before being transported to UMDNJ Hospital, the victim told police that three men attacked him as he was walking in the area of N. Fifth St. and Cross St. He said his assailants took his cellular phone and repeatedly stabbed him about his stomach and chest.

Shortly afterward, the Kearny Police Dept. alerted police in surrounding communities that a robbery, reportedly involving three men, had occurred in Kearny.

Then, at about 6 p.m., Harrison Police got a report of another robbery in the area of Seventh and Ann Sts. The victim told police he was repeatedly hit by three men who stole his cellular phone and a bag he was carrying.

Soon after that incident, Harrison Police located three men matching the description given by the victims in the area of Harrison Ave. and Church Square. Police said the men tried to flee while discarding a stolen cellular phone and a set of metal knuckles which police recovered as evidence.

While being held at Harrison Police Headquarters, the three men – Bush, Leverson and Avent – were identified by the victim of the robbery that had taken place in Kearny and were then arrested and taken into custody by Kearny Police.

As the three were interrogated during the night at Kearny Police Headquarters, police said they admitted that they participated in the two Jan. 11 Harrison robberies and the robbery in Kearny and they were charged in connection with those incidents. And, in the morning hours, after extracting more information, police charged Leverson and Avent with the Jan. 6 robbery in Harrison.

Here are other cases logged during the past week by Harrison Police:

Jan. 10

Police arrested William Couch, 45, and his brother Brian Couch, 50, both of Harrison, as police conducted a motor vehicle stop after the brothers had left Bryan’s Cleveland Ave. residence in his car. Bryan was charged with driving while suspended, receiving stolen property and possession of drug paraphernalia and a crack pipe found in his pocket upon his arrest, and released pending court action. William was charged with conspiracy to commit burglary and receiving stolen property and held at the Hudson County Jail, Kearny.

The brothers’ arrest stems from the arrest on Dec. 23, 2011, of Christopher Lindsay, 22, of Harrison, on charges of burglarizing two Cross St. homes and burglarizing a house under construction on Sixth St. Investigation led detectives to believe that William Couch, Lindsay’s stepfather, prompted Lindsay to commit the Sixth St. burglary. Investigation also revealed that William Couch and Bryan Couch sold the items taken in that burglary – copper pulled from baseboard heating units – to a Newark scrap yard.

Four vehicles parked in a private parking lot at Railroad Ave. and Second St. were broken into. The thief got away with compact discs, loose change, sunglasses and a GPS unit. A 1996 Honda Civic reported stolen from a private parking lot on Railroad Ave. was recovered Jan. 12 in Newark.

Jan. 9

Someone broke into a 2008 Saab while it was parked on Bergen St. under Rt. 280. Nothing was reported stolen.

Jan. 8

A 2012 Honda Accord parked on Bergen St. under Rt. 280 was broken into and a GPS unit was removed.

Luis Octavio Sumba, 20, of Newark, was arrested on charges of burglary and resisting arrest after police say he was discovered to have illegally entered the Red Bull Arena.

Gerard Ingacastillo, 25, of Newark, was arrested on charges of DWI after he was found asleep in his car w hile it was parked on the sidewalk on Frank Rodgers Blvd. South.

A 2004 Chevrolet Silverado was broken into while it was parked on Warren St. under Rt. 280 and a portable GPS unit was stolen. A 1999 Lexus was broken into while it was parked on Passaic Ave. under Rt. 280 and a 9-inch TV was taken.

A pedestrian walking in the area of Frank Rodgers Blvd. South and Railroad Ave. was robbed of her cellular phone by an unknown man who threw her to the ground and ran away.

Jan. 7

Alfredo Guartazaca, 39, of Newark, was arrested on a DWI charge after police say he was seen driving erratically on Frank Rodgers Blvd. South.

Someone broke into a 2000 Honda Civic, parked on Passaic Ave. under Rt. 280, and removed a GPS unit.

Three vehicles parked in the area of Third and Warren Sts. were broken into. The intruder got away with loose change and an Apple iPod.

A thief stole a 1998 Honda Civic parked on the 200 block of Sussex St.

Jan. 6

A Toyota Previa parked under Rt. 280 on Warren St. was broken into and a camcorder, sub-woofer and laptop computer were stolen.

A 1996 Honda Civic was stolen from a public parking lot on First St. during the daylight hours.

Finding some tax breaks

By Randy Neumann

U.S. Representative Rob Portman (R-OH) recently said, “The income tax code and its associated regulations contain almost 5.6 million words – seven times as many words as the Bible. Taxpayers now spend about 5.4 billion hours a year trying to comply with 9,000- plus pages of tax laws.”

Yes, the Internal Revenue Code is voluminous, but it is not all bad. In fact, some of it is good for the taxpayer; you just have to know where to look. As an example, you can write a check that is income tax deductible to reduce the public debt that was, at the time of this writing, in excess of $14 trillion. All you have to do is make your check payable to “Bureau of the Public Debt” and send it to: Bureau of the Public Debt, Department G, PO Box 2188, Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188.

Of course, contributions to reduce the public debt are subject to the rules and limitations for charitable contributions, and they can be mailed with your tax return or independently. What follows is a list of some deductions that you might find helpful.

One is hosting an exchange student. Do you have a student living with you under a formal agreement with a qualified organization that exists to provide educational opportunities for that student? Is that student a full-time student at a U.S. high school or secondary school? Is he or she not your dependent or relative? If you host an exchange student, all of this may apply. If it does apply, you are eligible for a tax credit of $50 for each month the student lives with you (15 or more days of a month count as a full month).

A tax credit is not a deduction. It is better than a deduction. It is a dollar for dollar refund of taxes due.

It pays to volunteer. Volunteer work in itself will not provide you with a tax break; however, you may be able to deduct 14 cents per mile on your 2011 federal return for charity-related mileage or the cost of the gas you used while driving on behalf of the charity, whichever is greater. You can also deduct the cost of tolls and parking related to your driving.

Away from the driver’s seat, you can also characterize the out-of-pocket expenses you pay on behalf of a charity or qualified non-profit organization as charitable deductions (if the organization hasn’t reimbursed you for them). Buying equipment for the charity, buying office supplies or stamps, buying and cleaning uniforms – these are just some of the expenses that are deductible.

Next topic is travel expenses related to medical care. IRS Publication 502 states that you may deduct 16.5 cents per mile on trips you take to obtain medical care for yourself or your dependents. The trip has to be “primarily for, and essential to, medical care.”Bus, taxi, plane and train fares, and ambulance service fees all count as expenses toward the deduction as long as the travel was for medical care.

Parents transporting children who need medical care and nurses traveling with a patient can also claim the deduction. Also, some who qualify for this deduction may also get a tax break of up to $50 per night for lodging related to trips taken for health care.

Did you buy a house, an RV or a boat in 2010? You may be able to exploit state or local income tax deductions. Only seven states don’t have state income tax (Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming). Tennessee and New Hampshire merely tax forms of dividends and interest.

In certain cases, you can deduct the cost of a safe deposit box rental. The IRS says you can if you rent the safe deposit box to store taxable incomeproducing stocks, bonds or investment-related papers and documents. Sorry, if you store tax-exempt securities, jewelry or other personal items in the box, you can’t exploit the deduction.

The Saver’s Credit is the up-to-$1,000 tax credit that you may be able to claim if you contributed to an IRA or qualified employersponsored retirement plan like a 401(k) or 403(b) last year. Your AGI (adjusted gross income) has to fall below a certain level to claim it. For 2010, those levels were $55,500 (married filing jointly), $41,625 (head of household) and $27,750 (single, married filing separately or qualifying widower). The credit can be as large as $2,000 for joint filers!

Did you pay a tax professional in 2010 to prepare your 2009 tax return? The IRS commonly lets you deduct the fees you paid to such professionals. The cost of tax preparation software and tax publications counts toward the deduction, and so do efiling fees.

Many more deductions are available. For a long list of potential tax breaks, see IRS Publication 529 at www.irs.gov/ publications/p529/ar02.html. See your tax professional to determine whether you qualify for some of these obscure deductions and credits.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for the individual. Randy Neumann CFP® is a registered representative with securities and insurance offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC. He can be reached at 12 Route 17N, Suite 115, Paramus, 201-291-9000.

Obituaries

Mary Beth Arrigo

Mary Beth Arrigo “Mimi,” 46, died on Jan. 11 at St. Michael’s Hospital. Mimi was a lifelong resident of Kearny. She was an assembler for Pathways to Independence in Kearny and was an avid Giants and Mets fan. She belonged to the organization Hands of North Arlington.

Predeceased by her parents Paul and Mary Arrigo, she is survived by her siblings Paul Arrigo (Kelly), Kevin Arrigo (Christine), and Caroline Paris (Derrick). She was the dear niece of Sis Roarty. She left behind many loving nieces, nephews and friends especially the Yakabofski and Thompson Family.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass was held at St. Stephen’s Church in Kearny. Interment was in Holy Cross Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Pathways to Independence. Condolences may be left at www.armitagewiggins.com.

William A Barrett Jr.

William A Barrett Jr. of Tucson, Ariz., died suddenly on Dec. 12, 2011. He was 67.

Born in Newark, he grew up in Kearny. He lived and worked in New Jersey, Minnesota and Alabama before moving to Arizona. His fondest Kearny memories include summers spent in Wiley Playground.

A memorial Mass will be held in St. Stephen’s Church, Kearny, on Saturday, January 21st, at 10:30 a.m.

Interment of his ashes will follow in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington, in the family plot.

Bill was educated in St. Cecilia’s, St. Peter’s Prep, NJIT and Rensselear Polytech Institute before returning to NJIT where he receiving his Doctorate in electrical engineering.

Bill was predeceased by his parents William and Mary Barrett. He is the loving big brother of Mary Barrett and the late Kathleen Buchanan Jordan. He is survived by his wife Jean and his children William III, Aileen, Patrick and Sarah; also surviving are 11 grandchildren and his niece and nephews Megan, Jonathan and Brian.

Alice P. Hahn

Alice P. Hahn died at home in Safety Harbor, Fla. on Nov. 19.

She is survived by a son Dr. Wayne Appleton of West Virginia, a daughter Alyce Donnelly of Florida, a stepdaughter Colleen Kelly of New Jersey, a stepson Jacob Hahn of New Jersey, a stepdaughter Bonnie Patterson of Missouri, eight grandchildren and two great -grandchildren.

William J. Higney

William J. Higney, 47, died on Friday, Jan. 6.

Arrangements were by from the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral liturgy was offered at St. Cecilia Church, followed by private cremation. Condolences and memories may be shared at www.thiele-reid.com.

William was born in Jersey City and was a lifelong resident of Kearny.

He was employed as a carpenter for the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local Union 608 in New York as well as a proud member of the Irish American Club, the Scots- American Athletic Club and the Thistle F.C. all of Kearny.

William is survived by his daughters Jessica Higney and Jaiden Higney; parents Owen and Sarah (Mitchell) Higney, siblings Esther Jewart (Timothy), Mary Evanchick (Mark) and Peter Higney. He was the uncle of Ryan Jewart and Madelyn Evanchick.

Raymond J. Migatulski

Raymond J. Migatulski, 77, of Kearny, formerly of Wilkes Barre, Pa., passed away peacefully at home on Monday, Jan. 9, after a long courageous battle with cancer.

The funeral will be conducted from Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison. A funeral Mass at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Kearny, followed by interment at Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.

Ray proudly served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He was a tool and die maker for Universal in Irvington.

Ray is a member of the N.R.A, the Elks of Lacey Township and C.W.V.

Ray is the beloved husband of Joan (nee Harland), devoted father of Marla and husband Robert Check, and step-son Scott Boyle. He is also survived by a large extended family.

Ray was predeceased by step-daughter Michele Boyle.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the N.R.A. or C.W.V., c/o the funeral home in memory of Ray.

Edgar Smith

Edgar Smith died on Jan. 13 at Clara Mass Hospital. He was 63. Born in Kearny he lived the past 10 years in North Arlington.

Arrangements were by Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. Cremation will be private.

Ed is survived by his wife Judith (nee DiSalvo), his children Edward (Dawn) and Lori (Mike). His sisters Barbara Currie, Edie Keating and Norma Boyle and his grandchildren Savannah, Connor, Chase, Amber and Vinny. He was predeceased by his daughter Debra.

Joseph A. Stuart

Joseph A. Stuart, age 75 of Effort, Pa., formerly of Kearny, passed away surrounded by his loving family on Thursday, Jan. 12 at the VNA Hospice House of Monroe County In East Stroudsburg, Pa.

Joe was the loving and devoted husband of Diane L. (Smith) Sniffin Stuart. They celebrated their 16th Wedding Anniversary on June 10.

He was born in Jersey City, on August 12, 1936 and the son of the late Allan and Jane (Toal) Stuart.

Joe graduated from the Kearny High School and attended Essex County Community College.

Joe spent 32 years in the demanding and courageous work of a firefighter retiring as Captain in 1992 from the Kearny Fire Department in Kearny. As a dedicated firefighter he ran numerous fire prevention programs for children. He also received many awards In 1985, he received Fireman of the Year from the Knights of Columbus, an Outstanding Fireman Award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars and from the Hudson County American Legion. He was a member of the Fireman’s Mutual Benevolent Association Local #500 all in Kearny.

Joe was an avid Boston Red Sox and Indianapolis Colts fan. Help us to keep his memory alive in the places and activities he loved in this life. He loved animals and traveling with his wife Diane to purchase antiques for their Pyramid Antiques Barn in Effort.

Joseph was a member of Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Gilbert.

He served our country with dedication and courage in the United States Army in the states as a Military Police Officer.

We have been blessed with the presence of Joe in our lives and his wit and antics will be missed by all who knew and loved him, especially his loving wife Diane; his children: Joanne Armitage and her husband John of Effort; Stephen Stuart and his wife Debbie of Nutley; and Beverly Aprill and her husband Kevin of Brodheadsville; his stepchildren: Michael Sniffin of Effort; Russell “Rusty” Sniffin and his wife Diane of Kannapolis, N.C.; and Traci Dannenfelser and her husband Michael of Brockton. He was a loving and gentle grandfather to his grandchildren who loving called him Bup and Pa-Pa: Daniel, Andrew and Nancy Armitage, Michael Smith, Cassandra, Shane, Kaity, and Krysti Sniffin, Dylan, Jonathan and Mason Dannenfelser; his great-grandchildren: Brianna and Olivia Armitage, Jocelyn Smith and Ayden and Jaylie Sniffin. Joe is also survived by a sister: Rose Mary Myles and her husband Peter; a brother: Terry Stuart and his wife Nancy all of Forked River; and several nieces and nephews.

Joe was preceded in death by his first wife: Nancy Stuart and his siblings: Sandra Rosenback and Huey Stuart.

Funeral services were held at the Donald N. Gower Funeral Home, Inc., Route 209, Gilbert, Pa., followed by private interment.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made In Loving Memory of Joseph A. Stuart to VNA Hospice House, 502 Independence Road, East Stroudsburg, Pa. 18301. www.gowerfuneralhome.com.

William J. Turonis

William J. Turonis, 69, died on Jan. 5 at New Grove Manor in East Orange. Before retiring, he was a truck driver for Bell Container in Newark. He was also a former usher for Queen of Peace Church.

Predeceased by his wife Roxanne and sister Jo Ann Haag, he is survived by his children Col. James, William, and Corinne Turonis; brother of Lydia Newton, Eugene Turonis, and Cheryl Manley. He is also survived by six grandchildren Kirsten, William, Dylan, Noah, Kira, and Emma.

Arrangements were by Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A memorial Mass for William and Roxanne Turonis was held at Queen of Peace Church, North Arlington, followed by interment in Arlington Cemetery, Kearny. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Queen of Peace Church. Condolences may be left for the family at www.armitagewiggins.com.

Kearny band is ‘Fighting for Fatima’

Photo by Stephanie Formoso/ I Am Fighting will be the lead band in Camp Fatima fundraiser.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Google Images/ Campers and volunteers at Camp Fatima.

 

 

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

KEARNY —

For over 40 years, the volunteers of Camp Fatima of New Jersey have spent summers providing a special place for children and adults with mental disabilities to have a truly unique experience. On Friday, Jan. 27, Camp Fatima will have its first CFNJ Benefit Rock Show.

Featuring a slew of talent, including Kearny’s own I Am Fighting and rock group The Tonight Life, “Fighting” for Fatima presents a great show for an even greater cause.

“I got the idea in August of this year while I was at Camp Fatima itself, hearing the director of the camp speak about how, although the camp is free to campers, fundraisers go on all year round to prepare for the upcoming summer,” said Joe Gehrmann, lead singer of I Am Fighting and counselor at Camp Fatima. “I told myself that moment that, the following year, I was going to throw a fundraiser with my band for the camp.”

The camp, which is free to all who attend, is a nonprofit organization that relies on donations from generous parties in order to survive. The camp itself is unique in its ability to offer one on one services to the disabled and provdes an overnight experience for the children and a bit of a respite for their parents.

“Once they see how wonderful the treatment for the kid is, they can’t wait to bring their kid back,” explained Camp Director Paul Murphy, who recounted a story of two parents who were able to go on a vacation for the first time in 25 years after having their daughter attend the camp.

Deciding which children will get into the two oneweek programs, is the sticky part of Murphy’s responsibility.

“Unfortunately, we cannot take everybody,” explained Murphy of the camp’s application process. “How we determine our numbers is based on the number of volunteer applications we have. Every child gets one counselor, almost like a big brother- big sister type of deal.”

The volunteers of this camp, who come every year to make the experience as great as it can be for its participants, are the ones who solidify the camp’s exceptional reputation.

“You watch and they do more and it’s selfless,” said Murphy, who started working with the camp in 1997 when his cousin, Eddie Raguseo, became a camper. “You want to help give in a way that you feel will be unique to each other.”

Photos courtesy Google Images and Stephanie Formoso

 

Photos courtesy Google Images and Stephanie Formoso/Top and bottom: Images from Camp Fatima.

 

Members of the band I Am Fighting posing with longtime Camp Fatima volunteers.

 

“No one gets paid,” said Harrison’s Nick Landy, a former Camp Director who got involved when he was in high school in 1986.

As for “Fighting” for Fatima itself, tickets for the show cost $15, with the proceeds going directly for the camp itself. The show, which will take place at Teaneck’s Mexicali Live, will feature two of the area’s Pop Rock bands, a must listen for anyone who enjoys good music. For those who may have missed the April edition of the Observer where I Am Fighting was previewed, or in the year end review where they received an award for Music Act Most Likely To Be Famous, I Am Fighting is a pop rock group featuring several songs containing emotionally powerful music that bleeds through many of the band’s tracks.

Joining them at Mexicali Live will be The Tonight Life. The Tonight Life, made up of guitarist Joe Crawford, bass player Kevin ‘Jazz’ Siedel, and vocalist Kim Crawford, matches the tone set by I Am Fighting and their powerful music. The Clifton-based band has a sound similar to the rock band Paramore.

The band’s up-tempo beat helps provide a foundation for Kim Crawford’s soft, but powerful, voice to take control of the crowd. Songs like Catching Fire and Right Through You showcase the band’s talent that will definitely be on display at Mexicali Live.

All proceeds will directly benefit the camp, which uses the money to allow free admission and cover the costs needed to feed and take care of the nearly 50 or 60 campers per week of the two-week camp.

While the experience provided is exceptional for the children attending, the volunteers derive a lot of happiness from being able to help out those in need.

“It changed my life in so many ways,” Gehrmann explained. “Everyone who does the camp will agree it is one of the best times of the year. You completely get lost in this world, forget about your job, your responsibilities, and anything else the current times offer.”

One factor keeps Gehrmann returning every year since he started in 2005.

“You experience friendship, love, and fun in the purest forms. Nothing else matters in the world for that one week,” Gehrmann explained.

To purchase tickets for “Fighting” for Fatima, please visit www.campfatimanj.org and click on “The CFNJ Benefit Rock Show” under Events. Tickets for the Jan. 27 event cost $15. Mexicali Live is located on 1409 Queen Anne Rd., Teaneck.

To donate to the camp itself, visit www.campfatimanj.org and on the right side of the page, click “Donate Online.”

Harrison scores windfall in tax rulling

 

Photo by Jim Henderson/ Looking east at Red Bull Arena on a sunny afternoon.

 

By Ron Leir

HARRISON – The New York Red Bulls major league soccer team has been dealt a deadly shutout by a civilian referee.

A year from the day the team went to court to challenge the host town’s demand that it pay real estate taxes on its stadium, Judge Christine Nugent, sitting in State Tax Court in Newark, ruled not only can the Red Bull Arena be taxed but also the land the Arena occupies.

Now the Red Bulls go from being a “free rider” to, potentially, the biggest taxpayer in Harrison.

The judge had previously concluded – in a separate ruling made last year – that the land was tax-exempt but on Friday, Jan. 6, in issuing her final decision, she reversed herself.

Ironically, in its legal arguments filed with the court, Harrison appeared to concede that the 12-acre parcel where the stadium sits should be tax-exempt because title to the land is held by the Harrison Redevelopment Agency, itself a tax-exempt public entity.

“It’s a grand slam for Harrison,” said Town Tax Assessor Al Cifelli.

Harrison says it’s entitled to $1,290,225 in taxes on the stadium for 2010, based on a partial assessment (it opened in March 2010) of about $22.1 million and an additional $1,867,477 (based on an assessment of $30 million) for 2011.

For the land, the town says it’s owed $215,863 in taxes for 2010 (based on an assessment of about $3.7 million) and an additional $227,413 for 2011.

Additionally, the town is awaiting payment of a $150,000-a –year rental fee for 2010 and 2011.

Thomas Denitzio, of the Woodbridge law firm Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith, & Davis who handled the case for the Red Bulls, couldn’t be reached for comment Friday. If the Red Bulls decide to challenge the court ruling, it will have to request a hearing from the state Appellate Court.

Kearny attorney Norman J. Doyle Jr., a tax specialist, was retained as special counsel by Harrison to present its case.

Cifelli, who attended Friday’s court session, said that it took Judge Nugent nearly two hours to read her decision into the record. A copy of the transcript wasn’t readily available.

Photo by Anthony J. Machcinski

 

In its complaint – filed against the Town of Harrison, the Harrison Redevelopment Agency and the Hudson County Improvement Authority – the Red Bulls asserted that the stadium is, in legal parlance, a “Property” and “Project” of the government entities that borrowed nearly $40 million to acquire the land, sub-leased the land to the team, and promoted the Red Bulls’ presence as a boost to the local economy, public recreation and tourism.

As a “public purpose” endorsed by those public entities, the stadium should be deemed tax-exempt, as provided by the state Redevelopment Law and state Improvement Authority Law, the Red Bulls reasoned.

Harrison, in its brief, countered that the stadium, notwithstanding certain “contractual and police” controls the Harrison Redevelopment Agency exercise over the Arena and despite any “intangible and unquantifiable benefits” the town may derive from it, the stadium – as a private, profit-making enterprise – “does not serve a public purpose” and, therefore, under a strict interpretation of state law, it shouldn’t qualify for tax-exempt status.

The court sided with Harrison.

Interpreting the court’s ruling, Doyle said that Judge Nugent agreed with the town that the stadium is taxable because it is a profit-making venture and that the land is also taxable even though it is owned by a public entity (the Redevelopment Agency) which exercised eminent domain to acquire the 12 acres and paid to clean it up, “once the stadium was built, the agency had no further role to play,” and, therefore, no longer had a “public purpose.”

The legal test of taxable vs. tax-exempt in cases of this type, Doyle said, is “where does the money go – admission tickets, concession revenues – to a public agency or to the person (or corporation) running the stadium. That’s the key.”

Doyle characterized the previous concessions by Harrison, the Harrison Redevelopment Agency and the HCIA that the land should be considered tax-exempt “collectively our error” and credited the judge with finding a legal basis for remedying that misinterpretation.

Harrison Mayor Ray McDonough said he was “pleased with the decision. We were always confident the ruling would go in Harrison’s favor. Now we’re just hoping the Red Bulls step up to the plate and meet their financial obligations to the town.”

Kearny DPW starts snow preparations

 

Photo by Anthony J. Machcinski/ The old West Hudson Hospital, now a nursing home, was scene of early morning blaze last week.

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski 

KEARNY— As the Northeast got hit with an arctic chill that produced wind chills in the low teens, many began to brace for snow that hasn’t hit the area since a freak Halloween weekend snowstorm.

While many in town fear that dreaded four-letter word, members of the Kearny Department of Public Works began to get ready for the inevitable snowfall that lurks in the near future.

With seven salt trucks and nine additional snowplow vehicles, the Kearny DPW needs less than an hour to get ready for a storm.

“Depending on the severity of the storm, the town takes about three to four hours to be cleared of about four inches of accumulation,” said DPW Superintendent Gerry Kerr. “It takes a lot longer, however, when there are six inches or more snow on the ground.”

According to the town of Kearny’s website, the DPW starts plowing municipal streets when snow accumulations reach two inches or more, and salt is applied on an as-needed basis.

“The hills on the west side of town and the main roads,” said Kerr concerning which roads are covered first. Kerr explained that the hills on the west side of town get icy quicker because of moisture coming from the river.

While the town is split into sections and covered by the DPW, several roads are taken care of by outside sources. These roads include Passaic Ave., Schuyler Ave., Fish House Rd., Central Ave. and Belleville Turnpike. These roads are covered by the Hudson County Road Department or, in the case of Belleville Turnpike, plowed by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

The town houses its rock salt in a shed that holds some 1500 tons of the ice-melting crystals. While that may seem like quite a bit of salt, for each snow event, the town generally goes through about 300 tons, according to Kerr.

“Depending on the event, we have to refill the trucks about every hour,” Kerr explained, saying that wet snow causes trucks to be filled about once an hour while if its colder and the snow is dry, it takes more salt and it is often less than an hour per refill.

The salt itself is shipped to ports in Newark and is then called in by the town.

So when the next big snowstorm hits the area, don’t get mad at the drivers who accidentally plow snow into your driveway. Instead, think about the sizeable area that they cover and the amount of effort it takes to plow the nearly 48 miles of town roads that you use on a daily basis.

 

Retired DEA agent charged in sexual abuse of minor

 

Photo courtesy Essex County Prosecutor’s Office/ Thomas Sheehan

By Jeff Bahr

NUTLEY— A retired DEA agent from Nutley has suddenly found himself on the wrong side of the bars for his alleged role in the sexual abuse of a teenage girl.

Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murphy and Nutley Police Chief John U. Holland announced on December 6 that retired Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Special Agent Thomas Sheehan, 71, of Nutley, was arrested and charged with sexually abusing a teenage girl.

The arrest warrant was executed during the morning hours at Sheehan’s home in Nutley. The former agent was charged with sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and aggravated assault.

According to DEA N.J. Division spokesman, Douglas S. Collier, Sheehan retired from the agency in 1997. Collier wasn’t able to provide information pertinent to Sheehan’s current pension status, or whether or not it would be affected by his arrest and/or conviction.

The 17-year-old girl, described as “developmentally delayed” by authorities, was allegedly abused by Sheehan starting from the time that she was 12 and continuing until a date just prior to Christmas.

There is “documentation regarding her inabilities” said Nutley Detective Anthony Montanari when asked about the girl’s mental faculties. He added that “a series of attacks” had occurred during the five-year timeframe, and that the girl reported the abuse to an intermediary who then brought it to the attention of police.

If convicted on the most serious 2nd degree sexual assault charge, Sheehan would face from 5 to 10 years in prison – a sentence subject to the No Early Release Act, which mandates that he serve 85 percent of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

Sheehan posted $100,000 bail and was released.

Nutley residents gear up for 2012 Wellness Challenge

Township Program and Event Coordinator Loren McCreesh holds only some the applications of the nearly 487 registered participants.

 

By Ron Leir

NUTLEY – A lot of people probably wondered why the heck Maria Hamlin opted in for Mayor Joanne Cocchiola’s 2011 Wellness Challenge program.

After all, Hamlin was a seasoned local cop and a longtime member of the Air Force National Guard. Sounds like a pretty healthy individual, right? Well, not quite.

“I was in OK shape,” Hamlin said. “After having children (four ranging in age from 4 to 18), it’s very easy to let the weight go on. … As a cop, being on the road and going from one job to another, it’s easy to fall into the trap of fast food.”

But after a dramatic change of diet – switching to prepared meals with a defined calorie intake and turning into a seven-day-a-week gym rat – last May, Hamlin was crowned overall Challenge winner among some 180 participants after dropping 32.2 pounds and losing 18.2% of her total body weight.

And she’ll be back in the pack this year, hoping to be an inspiration to others.

The Wellness Challenge, now in its fourth year, kicked off Monday, Jan. 9, with 487 folks registered as of last week by township program and event coordinator Loren McCreesh.

“We’re running totally in line with last year’s enrollment,” McCreesh said. “We started with about 500 and we ended (16 weeks later) with 153 who successfully completed and lost 1,973 pounds.”

This year’s event has been extended to 18 weeks so as not to conflict with the upcoming May municipal election, she said.

“The primary objective,” McCreesh said, “is to get the community to think healthy, to keep moving. The second goal is weight loss.”

It’s open to people age 18 and older who are Nutley residents, township and/or Board of Education employees and those who work in Nutley. There’s a one-time only $15 registration fee to cover administrative costs. All participants get free Tshirts.

Thirty-five sponsors – including WeightWatchers – provide registrants with free and discounted health-related classes, lectures and workshops. Based on feedback from last year’s participants, the Challenge has already scheduled a Jan. 23 seminar on sugar addiction led by Dr. Leat Kuzniar of Nutley and a March 26 talk on menopause/ hormone imbalance/weight gain hosted by Barnabas Health Clara Maass.

People can enter the Challenge as individuals or as a team of five to seven members.

As in prior years, participants will weigh in every other week during scheduled daytime and/or evening times at either the township Public Affairs/Health Dept., 149 Chestnut St., or at school locations.

At Monday’s kick-off, held at the John H. Walker Middle School gym, staff from Mountainside Hospital of Montclair gave free health assessments to registrants who also met with nutritionists to strategize individual goals and lifestyle changes. Also, an exercise physiologist provided a fi tness analysis based on a body fat reading and step test. The fi rst 50 to attend got free glucose and cholesterol screenings.

A new Challenge sponsor, Barnabas Health Clara Maass Medical Center of Belleville, offered free blood pressure screenings, respiratory evaluations and stress tests to registrants.

Last year’s Challenge winner Maria Hamlin at the Finale Celebration last year

 

Another new feature this year will be top prizes for male and female participants who lose the highest percentage of body weight and a prize for the best team. An award ceremony will be held May 14.

“For some people, this program can be life-changing,” said Mayor Cocchiola, who claims to have lost 22 pounds as a participant in 2009. “But it’s not just about losing weight,” Cocchiola added. “That’s why we call it a ‘wellness’ program. For example, in our first year, we had 40 people who had never run a 5K race before, joined a training program and did it.”

The Challenge seems to have caught on, the mayor said. “Each year,” she noted, “we get more of a core group of people who stay with it.”

And this year the township is looking to enroll the community’s younger members in a similar challenge with a new program, “Nutley Fit Kids,” fi nanced with a $15,000 Shaping NJ grant to combat childhood obesity.

Local kids, from kindergarten to grade 12, in Nutley public and private schools, will be encouraged to keep active by bicycling, running and group exercise and kids from grade 5 to 12 and their parents have been invited to come up with a “Healthy School Lunch Recipe” and the winning entries will be added to the school lunch menu. Judging will take place Feb. 11 at the high school.

Meanwhile, Nutley adults have accepted their Wellness Challenge and they better be watching out for the defending champion, Hamlin, who says she’s closely monitoring her “high protein, low carb” meal plan to get more lean and toned.

“People should realize that 70% of how you look is what you eat,” Hamlin said. “Look at the program as a lifechanging plan and you’ll have better results. If you don’t put the proper nutrients into your body, it’s not going to produce positive results.”

“A word to the wise,” Hamlin said. “People need to stay dedicated because I’m in it to win it. I wish my competitors good luck but they need to know I’m highly motivated.”

Bicentennial celebration begins to take shape

 

By Ron Leir

BLOOMFIELD – Back in 1962, the graduating class of Bloomfield High School buried a time capsule with instructions that the capsule should be opened 50 years later on Memorial Day.

That day is now only a few months away, and just a week after the township’s 200th birthday.

That capsule, which was reportedly uncovered during the high school’s reconstruction in 2005-2006, has since been relocated to the Municipal Building for safekeeping.

So what’s in the time capsule?

That’s just one of the surprises in store for the Bloomfield Bicentennial celebrants, scheduled to kick off the festivities – which will stretch over several months – on March 23 at Bloomfield High School.

Former Councilwoman Janice Litteiro, who is chairing the Bicentennial Committee of some 30 volunteers, and Michael Sceurman, township director of recreation and township liaison to the committee, have come up with the skeleton of a battle plan for the mammoth undertaking.

Details will be fleshed out by seven sub-committees whose members figure to be meeting regularly to ensure that the township party runs smoothly. They’ll be responsible for such tasks as coordinating major events, publicity, research, finance and fundraising, school programs and volunteer management.

“We’re looking to a year of educating people about Bloomfield, honoring our past, celebrating our beautiful township and its people, and, hopefully, building our future,” Litteiro said.

For the March 23 kickoff – which was moved from Bloomfield College to the high school to accommodate a bigger crowd – Litteiro anticipates a scenario that has high school band members playing music, an Eagle scout leading the flag salute, vocalist Molly Frieri singing the National Anthem and a fife and drum rendition introducing an appearance of actor John Cataldo, costumed as Gen. Joseph Bloomfield, a former Revolutionary War major, ex-N.J. governor, Congressman and abolitionist, for whom the township is named.

The township incorporation charter would be read aloud and various dignitaries would be called from the audience to do a ceremonial signing.

At some point, Litteiro said, she’ll give a welcoming speech and a power point presentation that will outline the various birthday events that will unfold during the year along with a timeline for those programs.

Some of the spring events planned include the planting of a bicentennial tree (whose seedling was reportedly grown by NASA astronauts in space) in conjunction with National Arbor Day on April 27; a bicentennial concert by the Bloomfield Music Federation on April 29 at the Middle School; the annual Memorial Day Parade with a bicentennial flavor and members of the Bloomfield High Class of ’62 opening the time capsule.

Others still in the formative planning stages, according to Sceurman, are a summer concert series; the annual Sunset Classic 5-mile run through the township sponsored by the Bloomfield Education Foundation on June 28, for which local homes and businesses could be decorated with bicentennial bunting; a Bloomfield Pride Day, held as an extension of National Night Out, on Aug. 7, when neighbors could organize block parties, picnics and barbecues.

Also in the talking stages are a talent show and a monthly lecture series sponsored by the Bloomfield Historical Society. So says Bloomfield Buzz, a township publication.

Litteiro said she’s working with Glenn Davidson, a TV production director at Montclair University, on a “roving camera” project aimed at assembling a collection of Bloomfield residents and merchants extending birthday greetings to the township.

“It would be like a PSA (public service announcement) that we could maybe air on Channel 35, our public access channel, if we can work out the legalities,” Litteiro said.

The bicentennial celebration figures to culminate with the township’s annual holiday tree lighting on the first Monday in December.

A township bicentennial website, which will be periodically updated, is set to launch Jan. 14, Sceurman said.

Based on preliminary estimates, Sceurman figures the committee will need to raise between $7,000 and $10,000 from private sources to pull off the birthday extravaganza. No taxpayer funds are being applied to the venture, he said.

To help subsidize the project, Sceurman said the committee will be looking to develop at least three potential money-making enterprises: producing a bicentennial anniversary medallion that could be sold to the public; marketing a bicentennial flag or banner that residents and businesses could display; and publishing a bicentennial cookbook by soliciting recipes from the public and offering that as a saleable keepsake.

Asked if the committee was considering publishing a bicentennial history of Bloomfield, Sceurman said such an undertaking appeared to be beyond the capacity of local sources.

“About 10 years ago, my uncle Mark Sceurman, with help from Jean Kuras, president of the Bloomfield Historical Society, and Frederick Branch, wrote a township history and that was followed a couple of years later with ‘Bloomfield Revisited,’ an updated history,” Sceurman recalled.

It was hoped that these versions could be melded with a recently done history of Bloomfield schools but that proposal proved too daunting, he said.

A WORD WITH THE PUBLISHER: War aside, support the troops

publisher@theobserver.com

 

By Lisa Pezzolla

Last night, I sat in bed exhausted, just waiting to get a much-needed rest. Unfortunately, I spent an hour and a half staring at the TV.

What had caught my attention was Lionel the news decoder, on Channel 11 at 11 p.m. He brought up the point that you don’t have to support the war, but you can support our service men and women. He brings up an interesting point. We have parades for overpaid athletes who train daily in their sport of choice and we end up putting them on society’s high pedestals. I’m a Yankee fan but come on America, shouldn’t our war heroes have a day of recognition and hold their heads high as we salute them for what they have done for us?

The Obama administration has reportedly nixed tickertape parades for Iraq war troops. How many years have they been away from loved ones and from a normal, daily life? Now, they are forced to return to daily life in silence, without being honored for their sacrifice. Whether you support the war or not, support the real heroes and their sacrifices.

No matter which side of the issue you stand on, please send any comments you may have through e-mail, post on our Facebook, or tweet us so we can publish them.

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