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Have you seen this alleged Nutley burglar?

NUTLEY — Police say they are investigating a diversion burglary that allegedly occurred on Fischer Ave. on Dec. 9. An elderly resident told police that a man banged on her front door at 3 p.m., Dec. 9, claiming there was […]


Help sought in cold case

By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  Somebody knows something. Six years ago, an 87-year-old man was deliberately run down by a car in a South Kearny parking lot and robbed while he lay helpless on the ground. He died of his injuries the next day. Authorities ruled the death […]

100G for Arena tax case

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  HARRISON –  Now that the state Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether the New York Red Bulls professional soccer team should pay taxes on the stadium and the land it occupies in Harrison, the town has hired an outside law firm to […]


Staffing Skyway fire-watch

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY – For the first time, members of the Kearny Fire Department will have a shot at off-duty pay, much like their counterparts at the Police Department have enjoyed for many years, although there is a sunset provision for the privilege. This opportunity […]


New No. 2 has seen it all

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  LYNDHURST –  The Lyndhurst Board of Education has revived the position of assistant superintendent, albeit on an interim basis, with the hiring of 50-year educator Jeffrey P. Feifer. Feifer, who came aboard Sept. 25, was appointed to serve “no more than 120 days,” to […]


‘Khris’ening ‘Royal’ty

Khris Royal and Dark Matter bring Gumbo of music to Donegal Saloon


Photos by Anthony J. Machcinski/ Khris Royal and Dark Matter entertain the crowd at Donegal Saloon on April 21


By Anthony J. Machcinski

The reputation of the music scene in New Orleans is great enough that thousands of people will take vacations to the Big Easy in order to witness some of the greatest performances of our generations. Those unable to make that pilgrimage lucked out when Donegal Saloon in Kearny hosted Khris Royal and Dark Matter on April 21.

The ever-talented Royal, who hails from the Crescent City, is a saxophone player who has become one of the up and coming musicians in this generation. With a passion to play since he was seven years old, Royal didn’t originally want to play the saxophone.

“I wanted to play trombone “The guy at the store said, ‘Your arms are too short (to play the trombone). So my mom suggested, “Well, if you’re not going to play the trombone, you should play the sax. Girls like the sax.”

Royal developed a love eventually had one of his early breakouts when going to see famous R&B and jazz singer Erykah Badu.

Khris Royal swings his sax, much to the delight of the crowd.


“I wanted to see Erykah Badu when she came to New Orleans when I was in high school, but I was too young to get into the show,” Royal explained. “Through an internship with school, we got to sit down and meet with her. After the show, I stuck around to talk to her and while they were having sound checks, she saw me and said, ‘Grab your horn and come play with us.’ That was easily one of the greatest moments of my life.”

However, the road to success wasn’t always easy for Royal.

“When I first started gigging with Dark Matter, it was really slow,” Royal explained. “A lot of nights, tips were so bad that I thought I’d have to get a real job, and I started thinking maybe the music was bad. But other members of the band told me to stick with it and it started to take off.”

Despite Royal’s initial thoughts, the music is far from bad. After attending the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, Royal refined his art at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. This experience in many creative arts schools allowed the young musician to not just fall into one particular style of music.

“One of my goals was to play as many different styles of music as correctly as possible,” explained Royal who described his style of play as a big gumbo. “I don’t want to be just funk or jazz. I want to be the guy you can call to do anything.”

Royal’s description of his style is dead on. With elements of funk, blues, jazz, and R&B, Royal’s musical gumbo provides the listener’s ears with the same satisfied feeling as a real gumbo provides the stomach.

Royal’s personal favorite song, “Big Booty Express,” showcases the full package. With a silky smooth background accented by Royal’s sax, the song resonates differently to different people who listen to it. Some listeners may be soothed by the background and soft jazz play while others may find themselves moving their head and their body to the beat.

It is this menagerie of feelings that makes this song one of Royal’s favorites.

“‘Big Booty Express’ gets everybody dancing while still dealing with some music on an intellectual level,” Royal explains. “It keeps it funky and keeps everyone dancing.”

The title track from the album “Dark Matter” also shows off Royal’s skill set. With a darker and heavier background, Royal and Dark Matter provide a performance that not only showcases Royal’s play, but also the play of the band as a whole.

‘Big Booty Express’ aside, Royal and Dark Matter provide many songs for listeners of all ages and genres to appreciate. After playing Donegal Saloon on April 21, Khris Royal and Dark Matter will return to New Orleans and play several shows around the Big Easy before gearing up for several nationwide tours this summer.

To listen to Khris Royal and Dark Matter, you can search them on Spotify, or to purchase t heir album, they can be found on iTunes or on www.Khris-Royal.com.

A tasteful tour of Bloomfield’s eateries at a ‘Taste of Bloomfield’


Photos by Jeff Bahr/ Rickell Hawkins of ‘The Sweets Boutique’ with her creations


By Jeff Bahr

I must disclose something before I begin. As a longtime Bloomfield resident, I have sampled relatively few of the township’s restaurants save for Hot Bagels Abroad – a much-celebrated bagel palace known for its fine water bagels and convivial atmosphere – plus assorted pizzerias around town. So, when I learned that Bloomfield was staging its sixth annual Taste of Bloomfield (TOB) event on Sunday, April 15, I strapped on my feedbag and set out to right this wrong. “Calories be damned!” I reasoned in a self-serving way. “I’m on a culinary mission to spotlight our township.”

As was the case in years past, Bloomfield’s 23-room Oakeside Mansion played host to the flavorsome event. This eye-catching holdover from the Victorian era, built in 1895, presented the perfect backdrop for the taste fest which registered more like a casual dinner party than a staged event.

Devised as an entertaining way to acquaint people with Bloomfield’s restaurants and several located in nearby communities, TOB drew hundreds of hungry patrons to its serving tables on this sunny and warm day. More than 20 restaurants and food concerns were represented for this year’s tastings, where the enticing aroma of Thai, Mexican, Jamaican, Italian and Greek cuisines (to name just a few) assailed the senses.

For $30 ($25 if tickets were purchased in advance), attendees could eat as much as they pleased, and eat they most certainly did. A casual inquiry into the number of restaurants being sampled revealed that most people tried at least 10 different outlets before folding their napkins and calling it a day. Others, even more gluttonous, told me that they wouldn’t rest until they’d sampled something from every vendor present. While I was doing too much munching to keep count, I’d guess that I hit somewhere between 10 and 12 displays myself; not too shabby for a TOB neophyte.

ShopRite caterers stand poised to feed the hungry


An accordion player made his way through the mansion, playing enjoyable tunes to improve the ambiance, but it was hardly necessary. The Oakeside has atmosphere in spades, so the taste-testers were sufficiently primed just walking in. Each room contained multiple vendors serving an array of dishes. This vast hodgepodge of food choices added to the fun, but it also presented a problem; people had to decide which food items were “must tries” and which fell into the “second string” category (those to be tried only if stomach space permitted). Choices, choices…

If folks couldn’t find exactly what they wanted to nibble inside the mansion, all they needed to do was walk into the rear yard where a large tent featuring an equally diverse contingent of food vendors was set up. Drinks were served here (for an additional fee), and the feeding frenzy occurring inside the big top was at least on par with that taking place in the mansion.

For the record, the dinner items that I sampled included:

jerk chicken, rice and peas at Taste it Again Jamaican Restaurant; mousaki, makarounes and spinach pie at Stamna Greek Taverna; eggplant parmesan, prosciutto and mushrooms at Calandra’s Restaurant; and indescribably delicious garlic mashed potatoes at Frungillo Caterers. Thanks, folks, you did Bloomfield proud!

Some unexpected food discoveries also occurred during the event. A notable find was the Brookdale Shop-Rite which knocked my low expectations straight out of the park with its mouth-watering meatballs in Italian sauce (“gravy” to Italian-Americans). After going back for thirds (hey, my fiancé hails from Avellino!), I asked the server if these scrumptious meatballs were available at Shop-Rite’s daily buffet. Alas, they are not. Anyone wishing to partake of these meaty masterpieces must hire Shop-Rite as their caterer; that’s something to keep in mind as the graduation season nears.

After stuffing myself to the gills, I did what any pot-bellied American male would do: I went hunting for sweets. Most of the dessert vendors were situated in perhaps the most fabulous room in the mansion – the eastern wing/sun porch. A notable exception was Anthony’s Cheesecake which, while buried deeper within the house, was well worth the trip.

I visited perennial favorite Applegate Farm ice cream for a scoop of their luscious vanilla; Cupa Cabana, for a cup of their full-bodied Columbian java; and, last but not least, The Sweets Boutique, a sinfully delicious and artfully-arranged enterprise that featured such tantalizing guilt-inducers as cupcakes, pudding/cake parfaits, brownies, cake shooters and push-up pops. Simply put, the sugary concoctions were a joy to behold and an even greater joy to eat. “I’ve always loved baking and I’m a candy connoisseur, so this (business) was a natural step,” said proud owner Rickell Hawkins of her artistic display.

She wasn’t kidding. Before the event ended, The Sweets Boutique was cleaned out of every single item on the table, including my favorite Oreo dessert cup which I had sampled earlier. It was a testament to the triumph of the sweets, and in a larger sense, to the event itself. I’ll be back next year but with a different strategy – to hit The Sweets Boutique first. As my absolute favorite taste of Bloomfield (to date), it’s only fitting.

Around Town


The Bloomfield Public Library Book Club will meet Monday, May 7, at 6:45 p.m. in the conference room to discuss two novellas, “Bartleby” and “Benito Cereno,” by Herman Melville. For further information or to request help in locating a copy of the book club selection, please call the reference desk at 973- 566-6200, ext. 502.


Bring your leashed or caged and well-behaved pet to the Nutley Public Library’s Be Kind to Animals Week Pet Festival on Saturday, May 5, at 11 a.m. Meet other Nutley pets and their families at this event. All pets will be winners. The rain date is Saturday, May 19, at 11 a.m.

An animal control officer from the Montclair Animal Shelter will speak about pet care and responsibility, pet adoption, and will bring animals available for adoption. Donations of canned kitten and cat food, cat and dog toys and clean sheets and towels are requested for the shelter.

Call the library at 973-667- 0405 for more information.

Nutley Public Library is having a book sale on Friday, April 27 and Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Proceeds will benefi t the library’s programs and collections. For more information, please contact us via telephone at 973-667-0405 or via email at library@nutleynj.org.

North Arlington

The North Arlington Health Department will host a free lecture on Tuesday evening, May 8, 2012, at 7 p.m. at the Senior Center, rear of Health Department Building, 10 Beaver Ave. The program will feature Daniel Jurkovic, Certified Elder Law Attorney.

Elderly individuals and their children are faced with a wide range of issues such as nursing home expenses, Medicaid qualifications, living wills, planning for disability of loved ones, and protecting assets.

Learn about these issues and more from a practicing attorney specializing in elder law.

This program is open to surrounding communities. To register, please call the North Arlington Health Department at 201-955-5695.

The Senior Harmony Club of North Arlington has scheduled a trip to Mt. Airy on Tuesday, May 15 and a trip to the Taj Mahal on Tuesday, June 12. Call Florence at 201-991-3173 for information. Membership in the club is not necessary to attend.


The Simple Truth: Doomsday 2012: A guide to addressing the concerns surrounding the 12/21/12 Doomsday Prophecy will be presented on April 30 at 7 p.m. at the Lyndhurst Senior Center. Commissioner Robert Giangeruso has invited Laura Venner, a science educator and public speaker to address the simple truth and concerns surrounding the 12/21/2012 Doomsday Prophecy. All residents are welcome to attend.


Kearny UNICO reminds all students seeking local scholarships that the deadline is fast approaching. Any high school senior who is attending any public, private or parochial high school may apply for the Kearny UNICO scholarships. Applicants must be United States citizens of Italian ancestry, have at least a 3.0 or B grade point average, participate in school and/or community activities and have resided within the Town of Kearny for at least three years. Financial need is a consideration. Kearny High School Seniors can obtain an application form from their guidance counselor. Non- Kearny H.S. students should contact Denise Ficeto, chairperson of the scholarship committee at 201-998-7496. The deadline for submitting the scholarship application is May 2.

West Hudson Family Success Center, 655 Kearny Ave., will hold an open house April 27 from 2 to 5 p.m. Refreshments will be served. Come see what resources will be available in your community: parent workshops, parent/ child activity, social skills, computer skills, girl talk, Boys 2 Men and financial workshops. For more information, call 201-998-0803.

Kearny High School’s Project Graduation’s annual Volleyball game is Friday, April 27. Doors open at 6 p.m. Games include: Police vs. Fire; Town vs. Board of Ed; Seniors vs. KHS Teachers; Elementary interschool play.

Vikings undefeated in early going

Photo by Jim Hague/ The North Arlington girls’ track and field team is enjoying a solid start to the spring season, winning their first four dual meets. Back row, from left are Tiffany Matos, Eunice Gavieres, Mackenzie Cutruzzula, Kali Orovio and head coach Bernadette Fash. Front row, from left, are Cristina Nardini, Nicolette Zamora, Marta Brulinski and Tatiana Balugas.


By Jim Hague

North Arlington High School girls’ track and field coach Bernadette Fash has compiled some solid teams in the past, but nothing quite like the group Fash has this season.

The Vikings leaped out to a solid 4-0 start, including victories over Ridgefield, Becton Regional, Wallington and neighboring rival Lyndhurst.

“Lyndhurst was the biggest obstacle to overcome,” Fash said. “And we were able to win by just two points. They’ve been the biggest rival for the last couple of years. Winning that meet was a pretty good feather in our caps.”

What makes the Vikings’ performance more impressive is that they are basically a young squad. There are only three seniors on the entire roster and most of the athletes are underclassmen, so there is a lot of hope and promise for the future, not just this year.

“We have only 24 girls,” said Fash, who is also the school’s girls’ volleyball coach. “It’s a small group, but we do have quality. I honestly didn’t think we would have the numbers to pull it off, but we have a good group who are pulling together and competing in more than one event. Something just clicked with them and it’s working well.”

What has definitely helped is the versatility of the performers Fash has. The North Arlington girls are willing to try anything, entering in several events in order to score as many points as possible. That unselfish approach has been encouraging and it’s showing the complete diversity of the entire team.

Junior Mackenzie Cutruzzula is the team’s main sprinter, competing in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes. Cutruzzula is also one of the more versatile members of the Vikings’ roster, also competing in the long jump and triple jump.

“Mackenzie hasn’t lost yet in the 100-meters,” Fash said. “She’s doing really well and has been scoring a lot of points.”

Freshman Sarah Palma has been handling the 400-meter runs.

“She’s been showing a lot of promise,” Fash said. “I look forward to coaching her over the next few years.”

Junior Nicolette Zamora is the Vikings’ 800-meter runner. “I’m looking to get a good year out of her,” Fash said.

Junior Tatiana Balugas has been working hard in the distance races, competing in both the 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs.

“She’s been holding her own in both races,” Fash said.

Fash is really high on her hurdlers. Sophomore Cristina Nardini has been competing in both the 110-meter high hurdles and the 400-meter intermediate hurdles.

“She’s been winning most of her races consistently,” Fash said. “She also does the long and triple jumps. It really helps that we have girls doing three and four events. Because we don’t have a big team, we need them to double up and do more events. It does take a lot of wear and tear, but it’s something we have to do.”

Senior Marta Brulinski is the Vikings’ main competitor in the pole vault. Brulinski has been improving with every passing meet and has been coming close to clearing the bar at nine feet.

Senior Eunice Gavieres is one of the team’s lone holdovers from last year. Gavieres threw the shot put last year and has returned this year as a much improved competitor.

Senior Tiffany Matos is the team’s top javelin thrower, while junior Mary Smykowski handles the discus.

Sophomore Kali Orovio, part of the Orovio family that has been a major part of North Arlington athletics for years, is the high jumper. Kali (pronounced KAY-LEE) is already clearing the bar at 4-10 with limited experience.

“I think they’re finally proving to themselves that they can do it,” Fash said. “It’s going to be tough for us for relays and bigger meets, because we don’t have the numbers. The same thing will take place in the counties. But right now, we have four wins and it’s been like they’ve already won a championship. They’re taking it more seriously, knowing they can be successful. They know what they can do.”

And without question, the future looks very bright for North Arlington girls’ track and field.

“They now go to meets knowing that they have a shot,” Fash said. “They’ve always worked hard, but now, there’s a sense of purpose. They see what they can accomplish and it’s led to so much success.”

Kearny’s Adamek set to return to ‘second home’ at ‘The Rock’

Photo by Jim Hague/ From left, Eddie Chambers and Kearny resident Tomasz Adamek pose at a Newark press conference last week as they prepare for the June 16 card at the Prudential Center.


By Jim Hague

It’s been over a full year since Tomasz Adamek fought at the Prudential Center, but the Kearny resident and top world heavyweight contender still feels like it’s a place where he belongs.

“It feel like it’s my second home,” said Adamek, who will return to “The Rock” June 16 to take on “Fast” Eddie Chambers in what will essentially be a last chance heavyweight bout for both fighters.

“All my fans like coming to Newark and the fans mean a lot to me,” said Adamek, who made a triumphant return to the ring March 24, when he took a 10-round decision over Nagy Aguilera in Brooklyn, Adamek’s first fight since losing the WBC world heavyweight title fight to Vitali Klitschko in Poland last September. “I fight for my fans and I like fighting at the Prudential Center.”

The 35-year-old Adamek should like fighting at the Prudential Center, considering he’s never lost there. Adamek has posted a 7-0 record at “The Rock” since he first fought Steve Cunningham for the IBF cruiserweight title Dec. 11, 2008, a fight that was considered Ring Magazine’s “Fight of the Year” for that year.

Adamek’s fights at the Prudential Center have drawn thousands of Polish fans who follow his every move, singing songs, waving banners and scarves all night, giving the place an influx of energy and excitement.

“I’m very excited to come back to the Prudential Center,” Adamek said at a press conference last Thursday to promote the upcoming card in June. “I know I’ll be ready for this fight.”

Adamek took six months off after losing the heavyweight title fight to Klitschko. He returned to fight Aguilera last month, a fight that some critics were not favorable of Adamek’s performance.

Adamek defended the way he fought against journeyman Aguilera.

“He was very tough,” Adamek said. “I thought I fought very well. I hit him with so many shots. I hit him 260 times. I thought I could have ended it in the third and fourth rounds. I thought I could have knocked him down. The fight was a very interesting one for everyone. Aguilera was ready for my fight. He was in good shape. I wasn’t worried about the way I fought. I won the fight and I now move on. My mind is very good.”

Adamek, who now owns a 45-2 professional record with 28 knockouts, faces a guy in Chambers who is very similar. They are both basically undersized heavyweights who now fight around the same weight of 220 pounds.

Like Adamek, Chambers got his start in boxing at a lighter weight. The Pittsburgh native and Philadelphia resident was first a light heavyweight, then moved to cruiserweight before becoming a heavyweight in 2004.

The 30-year-old Chambers moved his way up the ranks, won his first 30 professional fights and earned the right to fight for the WBO and IBF heavyweight titles against Wladimir Klitschko on March 20, 2010 in Germany. Chambers lost via a 12th round knockout.

So both fighters have had a chance to fight for the title against one of the Klitschko brothers and both suffered setbacks.

Chambers takes the Adamek fight after not being able to answer the bell for either of his last two scheduled fights. He suffered a back injury that forced a postponement of a fight against contender Tony Thompson in 2011 and in January, Chambers was supposed to highlight the first of the new NBC Sports Network “Fight Night” boxing cards, but he pulled out of meeting Sergei Liakhovich with a rib injury.

If he is able to enter the ring, Chambers will fight Adamek, his first fight since February 11, 2011.

“I’ve dealt with this before,” Chambers said, when asked about his credibility. “I know I need this fight. I know I need to do well. I’m not worried about that at all. I have a positive attitude coming into this fight. The injuries happened because I was training hard. I’m not in any fear of making the fight. Both injuries came from overworking. I know that now. I’m not worried about injuries.”

The Adamek-Chambers fight will also be featured on the new NBC Sports Network’s “Fight Night” series. NBC Sports Network chief Gary Quinn said at the press conference that the new sports network is dedicated to boxing.

“The ratings, especially our last card (the one that featured Adamek and Aguilera from Brooklyn) exceeded our expectations,” Quinn said. “So much so that we’ve added another date in September and we’re looking to add more in 2013.”

Quinn said that his network is excited to have Adamek back for another card.

“He’s a big draw,” Quinn said. “We’re looking to see the Polish Army come out in full force and show that nationally.”

Both fighters know that they desperately need a victory in order to keep their hopes alive for another heavyweight title fight down the road.

“You couldn’t put two more deserving fighters in the ring,” Chambers said. “We have similar styles, technique and overall ability. I’m 30, not 40, so I don’t look at it as my last chance. Every fight for me now is a crossroads fight. I honestly don’t want to say it’s my last chance, but if I can’t compete for the heavyweight title, then I don’t want it. I think it’s an equal opportunity for both of us. You get two fighters of the same size, same punch, same speed and it makes for a very exciting fight.”

Also on the card is promising heavyweight Bryant Jennings, undefeated at 13-0, and opponent Steve Collins, who has a 25-1 record.

Tickets for the card, presented by Main Events in association with Peltz Boxing, Goosen Tutor Promotions and Ziggy Promotions, headed by Kearny resident Ziggy Rosalski, are currently on sale through Ticketmaster and the Prudential Center’s box office.

Adamek said that he will begin training full-time for the June 16 fight this week with respected trainer Roger Bloodworth.

“I just spent a week at Roger’s house (outside St. Louis) working on technique to get ready for this fight,” Adamek said. “My mind is very good. God gives me power, speed and a strong mind. Every fighter wants to fight as often as possible. I’m comfortable with fighting again in June. This is my job. My job is in the ring. I like to fight often.”

And Adamek knows that he has to win.

“If you take a tough fight, there’s a chance you can lose,” Adamek said. “I’m not thinking about that. I want to be the champion and if I want that, I have to win every fight. I’m not a young man. I have to win every fight. I knew that this was going to be a tough fight. I’m not concerned. I’m a tough man. I’m a mountain boy.”

Although Adamek has exchanged life in the mountains of Poland for the hills of Kearny, he’s ready for the challenge again of fighting before his loyal fans in New Jersey.

QP’s Sammartino swings big bat for Golden Griffins

Photo by Jim Hague/ Queen of Peace sophomore second baseman Nikki Sammartino.


By Jim Hague

Nikki Sammartino may be only a sophomore at Queen of Peace High School, but she’s a young lady who already has high hopes and aspirations for her future. “I want to study pre-med,” said Sammartino, who is not only a three-sport standout at QP, but one of the best students in the sophomore class. “I’m not sure what kind of medicine I’d like to study, but I’d want something in the medical field. Going to medical school is a driving goal for me. I just think it’s a good field to get into.”

For now, Sammartino is content being a fine soccer, basketball and softball player for the Golden Griffins.

“I’ve always been playing a lot of sports since I was younger,” Sammartino said. “I have always been able to balance school work and sports.”

Sammartino is currently the second baseman for the Golden Griffi ns’ softball team. Before the season began, Sammartino went back to a hitting coach namely Larry Triguero, who used to work for Artie Barone’s Baseball Performance Institute (BPI) when the learning academy was based in Lyndhurst.

“I went to take lessons when I was in eighth grade,” Sammartino said. “I didn’t know they moved to Secaucus, so I stopped taking lessons and I slumped badly. I then went back and started hitting great again.”

According to QP softball coach Mike Flynn, the lessons really paid off for Sammartino.

“She’s hitting the ball so much harder now,” Flynn said. “Her swing is so compact. She’s become so much more of a power hitter. The lessons really helped after they changed her swing just a little.”

Flynn also believes that Sammartino is getting comfortable with her athletic frame.

“She’s really growing into her body,” Flynn said. “She’s a good athlete, a big girl. She’s also one of the most competitive girls I’ve ever coached. She just hates to lose.”

Sammartino was an outfielder last year as a freshman, but Flynn moved her to second base this season.

“She’s not afraid to try anything,” Flynn said. “I just put her at second and she picked up the position right away. She’s getting better every game there.”

“I like it,” Sammartino said of playing second base. “There’s a lot of action there and I can’t stand being left with nothing to do.”

Sammartino certainly has been doing her share with the bat in her hand. She’s batting better than .400 for the Golden Griffi ns, who have struggled to a 2-7 record early on.

“She’s my best hitter,” Flynn said. “She’s hitting in the No. 3 spot and doing a fi ne job. She’s cut down on her strikeouts and has been making solid contact almost every single time up. She’s very aggressive.”

Sammartino likes the way she’s been hitting the ball.

“It’s a big difference than last year,” Sammartino said. “I really slumped last year and I knew I had to do better this year. I’m more patient at the plate. I’ve learned that I have to trust my hands, because I have quick hands. I just sit on the pitch and try to drive it.” Last Thursday, Sammartino did exactly that in a game against Weehawken. Sammartino delivered a double, triple and home run and had fi ve RBI in a big win for the Golden Griffins.

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

“I’m just doing what’s expected of me,” Sammartino said. “It’s not that big of a deal. I try to do that every game. I know I’ve been hitting better. A game like that will certainly build my confidence. I know I can do it again.”

Flynn has been impressed with the way Sammartino has emerged as a player.

“She’s really come a long way,” Flynn said. “She takes everything very seriously and she’s a good student of the game. She’s also obviously a good student in the classroom. What she did wasn’t surprising at all, because she’s worked so hard at improving. She’s now mashing the ball. Give me nine girls like Nikki in the lineup and we’d be in good shape.”

Flynn, who also serves as the head girls’ soccer coach in the fall and an assistant basketball coach in the winter months, convinced Sammartino to play soccer last fall. She came out for the first time and was a solid defender.

“She’s a good soccer player and a good basketball player,” Flynn said. “She hadn’t played soccer in a long time, but I told her we could use her. She didn’t have an attitude. She just played hard every game and if someone beat her, she would come back and get you. She’s just a good, strong competitive kid.”

Although she’s only a sophomore, Sammartino has already become a leader among the Golden Griffins.

“She’s not afraid to speak her mind,” Flynn said. “She’s a motivator and lets the others know what is on her mind. I like that.”

Sammartino said that she doesn’t mind competing in the three sports.

“It keeps you in shape from one season to the next,” Sammartino said. “It helps with your coordination in everything. I guess I love basketball and softball the most, but I guess I’m pretty balanced in all three. Each sport is different. I’m able to juggle my schedule.”

For instance, when the basketball season is in full bloom, Sammartino will go for hitting lessons on her spare time over the weekend.

“I just feel so much better at the plate now that this was really no big deal,” Sammartino said. “I want to be able to do it again. Things are going well. I’d like a few more wins, but we’re getting better. I just want to be able to hit like this all the time.”

With the way she’s shown her determination and drive, there’s no doubt that there will be plenty more offensive explosions from the slugging Golden Griffin second baseman in the future – a future that is obviously very bright already.

Message for the Soul: Choose dreams carefully; then go for it

The secret behind living a contented life can be summed up in two words; Dream and Dare. A dream is an experience of the mind while you are asleep. It can perhaps be influenced by the places you visit, pictures you see, the things you eat or the people you meet. Whatever it may be, if it is close to your heart then you should go after it. There are, however, certain conditions you must consider before pursuing your dreams, the first being values. Ask yourself if your dreams allow you to stick with the values you have lived your life by, or do they put you outside your comfort zone; and if they do, then how do you feel about extending a part of yourself to places that you have never been to before? Think and analyze your circumstances, and then decide on your goals. Once you have made a decision to move ahead, then will come the second stage of having faith. Believing in yourself that you will be able to survive the struggle and come out strong is probably going to be the toughest battle you will face on this journey. Prepare yourself by visualizing the obstacles you may face, and try to come up with ways to resolve them; this will help instill confidence in your own self and you will be better motivated to accomplish your set goals. Lastly, when it comes to the moment you are only an arm’s length away from realizing your dreams, you may lack the courage to actually finish what you started. This is when you need to dare yourself to take that final step forward to turn your dreams into reality– something that you have wanted all along. Some may argue that not all dreams are good for you, and I totally agree with that. It is important to first understand and distinguish between the dreams you want to chase and the ones you would rather discard. A dream catcher is believed to help you do this exact thing. Many believe that hanging a dream catcher over your bed helps you catch the dreams that you will benefit from. It then stands as a constant reminder for you to work towards them. They filter out the bad vibes and help you realize the most important ones. There are many ways to help you achieve the things you want, however nothing is ever going to be possible unless you put your heart and soul in it. So, I suggest give it another shot, dream on and you never know, this time you may actually make things happen for yourself. Good luck.


Visit Shweta Punjabi at her website solutionsbyshweta.com for more information or email her at magictaara@yahoo.com

Be SMART to meet your financial goals


By Randy Neumann

In this time of corporate downsizing and restructuring, many people find themselves pursuing a new career. Embarking on a new career should inspire a revision of your existing financial plan including your risk management, future income, eventual age of retirement, and standard of living.

In addition to this revision of future retirement considerations, don’t ignore your current employee benefits package. Employee benefits and “perks” can account for more than a third of the total compensation your new employer has to offer and should be an important consideration in your overall financial plan.

It is important to understand how to get the most benefit from the options available through your new employer. Of course, working with the human resources department to gain a full grasp of all that is available is your best option. Here are a few tips to get the most out of this relationship and maximize your benefits.

Let’s begin with risk management. The risks of life are: you can become ill, disabled, you can die, your property can be damaged, someone can sue you, and a very real risk – you can spend some time and a lot of money in a long-term care facility. Employee benefits often offer solutions to some of these risks.

Let’s begin with health insurance. Be sure to coordinate health benefits offered by your new employer with your existing health coverage. Let’s say that you are covered under your spouse’s plan and the coverage is adequate. If this is the case, you don’t need coverage through your new employer. It would be a waste of money, more than likely your money, to have duplicate coverage. However, there may be circumstances where it would make sense to have duplicate coverage for a short period of time should your spouse be leaving their job shortly.

The next risk on the list is disability. Disability is much more likely than death. Unfortunately, it is often overlooked. Disability is more expensive than dying. If you die, you’re mourned, you’re missed, but you are buried along with your expenses. If you are disabled, your income ceases, but your expenses don’t. So do not scrimp on disability insurance. If your company offers it, take it. If they do not offer it, get yourself an individual policy.

Following the list, many companies offer life insurance benefits. Often, they will give you your salary or a multiple of it. Additionally, they may sell you higher levels of coverage. Group term life insurance is pretty cheap; therefore, calculate what you need and compare the cost to buying a policy yourself.

Employers, in most cases, don’t provide solutions to all of your risks. They don’t routinely provide property and casualty insurance or liability coverage. However, some employers do offer group long-term care insurance. This is definitely worth a look, but make sure you compare it to individual policies. In my experience, an individual policy, in most cases, provides better coverage for less money than do group policies.

Now, let’s look at a benefit that is provided by many employers – retirement plans. In days of yore, employees worked for one company until age 65 at which time they were given a party, a gold watch and a pension. Pension plans are retirement plans fully paid for by the employer. These plans have gone the way of the Phoenix, and I don’t think that they will reappear. However, there is still a wide array of company plans available: 401(k), 403(b), 457 plans, profit-sharing, cash balance plans, et. al.

Retirement plans are “qualified” by the Internal Revenue Service and have three basic elements: 1) You receive an income tax deduction when you make a contribution to these plans. This is a good thing. 2) Earnings within the plans are tax-deferred until you make a withdrawal. This is also a good thing. Withdrawals from these plans are taxable. Well, what did you expect? However, most people find themselves in a lower tax bracket when they are retired and withdrawing from their pension plans, therefore, the tax bite is less painful.

And, 3) many employers provide a matching contribution within their plans. So, if you contribute 10%of your salary, they will match perhaps 3%. Let’s look at some numbers. If you make $100,000 annually and you put 10% of your salary ($10,000) into the plan, your cost is $6,500 (assuming that you are in the 35% tax bracket). But hold on a minute, because your employer made a $3,000 contribution, it cost you $6,500 to put $13,000 into your retirement plan.

If you are 30 years old now and you retire at age 65, that $13,000 contribution earning an annual interest rate of 6% will be worth $1,448,752. Do I have your attention?* Find out about other benefit options your employer provides such as child care, paid vacations and holidays, extended leave policies, education reimbursement, and employee discount packages. Every little bit helps.

Lastly, be sure to periodically review, at minimum annually, your benefits and adjust your participation to changes in your family and life style. Make sure they still meet your long-term concerns and goals.

*This illustration is not indicative of any security’s performance and is based on information believed reliable. Future performance cannot be guaranteed and investment yields will fluctuate with market conditions.

Please consult your financial advisor if you have any questions about these examples and how they relate to your own financial situation before implementation.

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 and securities and insurance offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC. He can be reached at 600 East Crescent Ave., Suite 104, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458, 201-291-9000.

Vroom, Vroom! Motorcycle Mall Opens

John Resciniti Jr., (l.) assists Motorcycle Mall founder John Resciniti Sr. (in red shirt) with tape cutting during grand opening ceremony, as John Resciniti III looks on approvingly.



John Jr. and Sr. smile before opening the doors of the new Motorcycle Mall to a gathered throng of power sports enthusiasts. The dealer features multiple brands of motorcycles, accessories, and service.

Nutley Pub ‘Biker Night’ successful


On April 16, Nutley Pub, 227 Centre St. in Nutley ran it’s first ‘Biker Night’ in memory of Joe Tiseo II of Bloomfield who was killed in a motorcycle accident several years ago.

“This is 100% charity driven,” said Martino Mariella, owner of Nutley Pub. “We’re looking to do a (bike) run for cancer. Really, anything that’s beneficial.”

Biker Night will be a bi-weekly event with the money raised during the event going to charity.