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23-year-old Nutley man charged with sexually assaulting 14-year-old girl

A 23-year-old Nutley man has been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting and endangering the welfare of a 14-year-old girl, Nutley police say. Jonathan Matos was taken into custody by police on Friday, Oct. 10, on Spring Street, and is […]

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Bloomfield’s Cunningham on watch in the Indo-Asia Pacific region

Quartermaster Seaman Fayden Cunningham, of Bloomfield, assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89), stands watch at night in the bridge. Mustin is currently on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting regional security and […]

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NAPD: Don’t fall for phone scams

North Arlington residents have reported to police that they’ve received phone calls, mail and email from people reporting to be from the IRS and other governmental agencies. The caller will report delinquencies  in paying taxes, credit card bills or make a […]

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2nd Harrison hotel

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide opened its 14th Element hotel in Harrison last Thursday with members of the development team pedal-powering a virtual ribbon-cutting at the new location, 399 Somerset St., just off Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. South. Starwood CEO Fritz van Paasschen told visitors that that the company is “looking to […]

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A first for Kearny VFW Post

By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  When Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1302 elected its new commander in May, it also made local history. Jennifer M. Long, who was installed in office at the state VFW convention in June, is the first woman to head a […]

 
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Robbery at Arlington Jewelers

Photo by Lisa Pezzolla/ On Monday Feb.6, North Arlington Police responded to a robbery call at Arlington Jewelers, 36 Ridge Road. When the robbery occurred is unclear, as is the scope of any possible losses since the police had only just begun their investigation at press time.. If and when any additional information becomes available, it will be posted on our website: www.theobserver.com . If you have any information regarding the robbery, please call North Arlington Police at (201)-991-4400.

Video: Knock out bullying

Photo courtesy Jim Kelly/ Teacher Jim Kelly and his fi lm-making students. Back row, from l., are: Sarah Paonessa, Alexa Cavallo, Brianna Campo, Chalotte Terhune, Justin Roman, Eric Davis, Ruben Pereira and Sarah Montes. Bottom, from l., are: Matt Delmauro, Jaimie Towey, Sam Mangravito, Raquel McCabe and Michelle Nastasi.

 

By Jeff Bahr 

An anti-bullying Public Service Announcement (PSA) video produced by Nutley High School students begins rather deceptively. It’s a disarming stroke that makes the short fi lm immensely powerful. As the video opens, viewers are introduced to a typical student – scarcely different from the multitudes that have come before him and will come after him – stepping up to a lectern to deliver a happy commencement speech. We’ve all seen this scene a thousand times. But this one is different.

At any moment you expect to hear the young man giving thanks to those who helped him on his journey, while taking a few humorous jabs at friends and faculty for good measure. But “Tom’s Story” omits the standard salutations and light-hearted quips that have become part and parcel of such speeches. Instead, it tackles an insidious problem – a pervasive, deliberate, manmade cancer that targets its intended victims persistently and with great malice aforethought.

In the fictional video, Tom is introduced by a teacher as Nutley High’s 2012 valedictorian and summoned to the stage. The young man opens his speech by alluding to the standard “trials and tribulations” of the student experience. Typical stuff, really. But then, things take a wholly unexpected turn.

Tom, you see, has spent his school days not in happy contemplation of a rosy future, like other students, but in an abject hell – feeling hurt, alienated, unloved and worthless as a direct result of the incessant bullying that he has long endured. As scenes of Tom’s torment are shown in the background for effect, the young man ominously declares, “ At one point I never thought I’d make it here.”

The meaning behind Tom’s comment is apparent. At that moment, a person would have to have ice water running through their veins not to feel genuinely moved by the young man’s pain and crushing sense of hopelessness.

Sadly, there are many who know such pain and torment intimately. According to ABC News, a recent national survey found that 30% of U.S. students in grades six through 10 are involved in moderate or frequent bullying. For members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT), things are even worse. A 2010 survey undertaken by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) showed that 90% of LGBT youth experience harassment at school.

The National Education Association estimates that some 160,000 children miss school each day as a direct result of their fear of bullying and/or intimidation at the hands of other students. If viewed in sheer numbers, the bullying problem has now reached epidemic proportions. According to the National School Safety Center, American schools harbor approximately 2.1 million bullies and 2.7 million victims.

These statistics, as worrisome as they are, fail to factor in the increasing problem of cyber-bullying. This impersonal form of online character attacks and reputation sullying may seem less harmless to the uninitiated, but not so to the millions of individuals who have found themselves on the receiving end of such vicious cyber-barbs.

Tom is clearly not alone.

The idea to shoot the anti-bullying video arrived in conjunction with the “Week of Respect,” a statewide observance that directs school districts to provide age-appropriate instruction focusing on the prevention of harassment, intimidation and bullying of students.

According to teacher and video director Jim Kelly, the students “used storyboards, wrote the script, and put together a shooting agenda,” to get the project off of the ground. They then assessed and evaluated the film, scene by scene, until everything fit properly in place. The emphasis during each step of production was to “make it real,” said Kelly.

The finished product elicited a “very positive response” from the student body, according to Kelly. “It hits home when students see other students (in such trying situations),” explained the teacher when asked about the video’s overall impact with its intended audience.

For those who wonder precisely how “Tom’s Story” ends, suffice to say that one single schoolmate with courage and compassion steps up to make the difference in Tom’s tortured life. Hopefully, after viewing this thought provoking film, others similarly enlightened may wish to step into his shoes.

Grand jurors indict accused family killer

Photo courtesy Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office/ Carlos Campos

 

By Ron Leir

Carlos P. Campos, accused of committing a triple homicide in Harrison last summer, has been indicted by a Hudson County grand jury on three counts of murder.

The indictment, which also charges Campos with possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose, was handed up to the Hudson County Superior Court on Jan. 24, following a presentation to the grand jurors on Jan. 10 by Asst. Hudson County Prosecutor Michael D’Andrea.

Campos is charged with the stabbing deaths of his parents, Carlos A. Campos-Trinidad, 57, and Ruth Pereira, 58, and his 3-year-old niece, Gabriella Morales, on Aug. 16, 2011, in their home at 216 Hamilton St., Harrison. Campos, who is being held on $1 million cash only bail at the Hudson County Jail, Kearny, is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 21 before Superior Court Judge Mary Costello in Jersey City. However, since Costello is soon to be transferred, from criminal to civil court, the county assignment judge may have to name another judge to hear the case.

D’Andrea will handle the case for the state while Campos will be represented by the county’s deputy public defender Joseph Russo.

If found guilty, Campos could be sentenced to three consecutive life sentences and would, technically, have to serve a bit more than 63 years on each murder count before being considered for parole, according to D’Andrea.

After his arrest soon after the crime, Campos was first taken to the Jersey City Medical Center for evaluation by a hospital psychiatrist but was subsequently transferred to the Ann Klein Forensic Center, a psychiatric facility run by the state Dept. of Health Services’ Div. of Mental Health Services to determine his mental fitness.

Last week Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said that state doctors have concluded that Campos “is competent to proceed (with trial) at this time.”

However, DeFazio said, they’ve offered no opinion as to “his mental state at the time of the crime.”

On the day of the crime, police said Campos, wearing a sweatshirt and sweatpants, walked into Harrison police headquarters at 12:18 p.m. and had a conversation with officers that prompted police to descend on the Hamilton St. home, just across the street from the Hamilton Intermediate School.

Inside, on the first floor of the 3-story residence, police found the bloodied, lifeless bodies of the three victims.

Campos-Trinidad, found in a bedroom, died from a stab wound to the back of the head/neck area, possibly inflicted from behind him; Pereira, discovered in a hallway linking two bedrooms, was killed by a single stab wound to the neck/chest area but also had many “defensive wounds,” an autopsy showed.

The baby, found lying in its crib, died from numerous sharp force stab wounds to the neck and upper chest, according to the autopsy.

A knife, believed to be the murder weapon, was recovered at the scene, authorities said.

The baby’s mother, who works for a nonprofit agency that combats substance abuse and who runs the Roselle Family Success Center, a United Way-sponsored program, was in Haiti on a charity mission at the time of the crime. She returned to attend a private funeral for the victims.

More cash to splash; ramping up camping

It’ll cost more to swim at the Community Pool this year if the township OKs a proposed hike in fees.

 

By Ron Leir

LYNDHURST –

Unless the township Board of Commissioners have a change of heart on Valentine’s Day – their next scheduled meeting – it’s going to cost more to put a kid through the Lyndhurst Summer Camp and to swim at the Community Pool.

The commissioners are slated to authorize an increase in fees at both venues on Feb. 14.

As stated in the fee ordinance, the township is proposing these increases in recreation fees to reimburse it for the cost of providing the services “and thereby reducing the reliance on the general taxpayer for paying for such services.”

To register for Summer Camp, starting April 1, parents or guardians would have to shell out $300 for the first child – a whopping 71% boost from the current fee of $175.

For a family’s second child, the fee would go from $150 to $250 – a 66.6% increase – and for each additional child, the price would climb from $125 to $200 – a 60% hike.

Parks & Recreation Commissioner Tom DiMaggio said the township needs more cash to meet its expenses.

The Summer Camp “loses money,” he said.

Already heavily used, the Community Pool may expand hours for open swim.

 

But that’s only because the township didn’t want to whack residents with hefty registration fees to begin with and now it’s trying to make up the deficit, DiMaggio said.

Still, he said, when compared to private camps, people should realize they’re getting a “super bargain.” “When you figure it out, right now we’re getting $300 for a six-week program, five days a week, six hours a day – that comes out to what, $10 a day? That’s still crazy cheap,” DiMaggio said.

And the camp seems to be popular with the kids, the commissioner said.

“Six years ago, we started with 175,” he said. “As of last year, we had 450 children.”

The camp offers a variety of recreational and cultural activities, including basketball, football, soccer, arts and crafts, films and field trips for kids ages five through 12, he said.

DiMaggio said the township last summer hired “between 85 and 90” counselors for which the township allocated $227,730, township records show. Costs for recreation materials and related expenses weren’t available.

For the 2012 camp season, the township anticipates spending possibly as much as $240,000 for wages, according to township Tax Collector Deborah Ferrato.

As for the Community Pool, which opened a year and a half ago, the ordinance calls for increases for both residents and nonresidents, except for senior citizens, whose fees will remain the same for seasonal and full-year memberships.

The new rates for full year members would take effect April 1 while the revised fees for summer and seasonal members would be implemented Sept. 10.

Full year members would take the biggest hits: Resident adults would go from $270 to $365 (a 35% raise); non-resident adults, from $290 to $410 (41% more). Resident children (under 17), would go from $225 to $250; non-resident children, go from $240 to $265. Resident seniors (60+) would stay at $185; non-resident seniors, $200.

For seasonal members, resident adults go from $100 to $135 (35% more); non-resident adults, from $120 to $160 (33% increase). Resident kids, $90 to $100; non-resident kids, $100 to $110. Resident and nonresident seniors remain at $75 and $90, respectively. Fees for a family of four: residents would go from $310 to $325; non-residents, $330 to $350.

Finally, summer members would face these changes: resident adults, $80 to $100; non-resident adults, $100 to $125. Resident kids, $70 to $85; non-resident kids, $90 to $100. Resident seniors stay at $65; non-resident seniors go from $80 to $85. For a family of four, residents, from $230 to $300.

Township fiscal records indicate that $117,025 was budgeted for the pool operations for 2011 but it’s anticipated that $180,000 will be needed for this year, said Ferrato.

“We need to be in a position to pay our bills,” DiMaggio said. “We’ve been holding our own. The pool’s only been open a little over a year and we want to expand the hours during 2012.”

Pool Manager Tom Cofaro said he’s still reviewing the full year membership rates for both residents and nonresidents to determine what would be a fair increase.

“We’re not doing it for loss of revenues,” he said. The idea is to find a “happy medium” that will adequately support expenses for electricity, pump maintenance and chemicals, along with pay for lifeguards and custodians.

The pool also derives revenues from rental fees collected from two private swim clubs – Jersey Flyers and Skyy Swim Team – who are permitted to practice on weeknights and on weekends.

Cofaro said he’s hoping to grow the pool membership of 112, a combination of summer, seasonal and full year. “We’re looking to draw more from the Kearny, North Arlington area; there’s certainly room for more.”

He’s also planning to add a tots swim program for ages 6 months to 3 in the spring or summer. And he’s aiming at extending the weekend open swim for the general public which now runs from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

An aquasize light impact aerobics class for seniors that runs eight weeks has been drawing a lot of folks from Rutherford, in particular, he said. The cost is $39 for weekly sessions or $75 for twice a week.

For school purposes, Monday to Friday, the pool is reserved for physical education classes from 1 to 3 p.m. and for Lyndhurst High swim team practice, from 3 to 5 p.m. Open swim for the public is scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m.

During the summer months, kids in day camp get their shot at the pool.

“We also rent out the pool for birthday parties,” Cofaro said.

A helping hand to ensure good health

By Ron Leir

HARRISON –

As part of a growing trend among government entities, Harrison has reached out to another Hudson County community to help continue providing public health services to its residents.

On Jan. 17 the Harrison Board of Health signed an interlocal agreement with the Township of North Bergen, through its state-certified local health officer, Richard Censullo, to facilitate the delivery of those services.

The two-year agreement calls for an annual payment of $50,000 to North Bergen.

Under this arrangement, explained Mayor Raymond McDonough, Harrison “is fulfilling its duties to meet the state’s minimum health standards, as prescribed by state law.” Final approval was anticipated from the state Dept. of Health and Human Services, the mayor added.

The Board of Health went this route after the town’s veteran health officer Karen Comer retired last year. It will realize an annual savings of about $80,000 by contracting with another municipality.

Aside from North Bergen, with its 68,000 residents, Censullo said that he also serves as health officer for Union City (67,000 population), Bayonne (67,000) and now, Harrison (16,000).

For Harrison, Censullo said that, for now at least, his intent is to continue all current health services – clinics, flu vaccinations and rabies shots, tracking any communicable diseases, licensing and inspecting of local food establishments and following up on citizens’ complaints.

“I’m also in discussions with the North Hudson Community Action Corporation’s Health Center on providing a full service public health wellness program at no cost to Harrison residents,” Censullo said.

Such medical services as pediatric exams, treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy care – from sonography to actual delivery – would be made available at the Harrison Board of Health offices on Harrison Ave., he said.

Because the North Hudson agency is designated as a Federally Qualified Health Center, it is eligible for reimbursement through Medicare and Medicaid and the services it provides are offered free, according to Censullo.

“It would be one-stop shopping,” Censullo said, for residents’ primary and preventive care needs.

Censullo said he expects to learn by mid-February whether the program can be secured for Harrison.

In the meantime, Censullo said he’ll be analyzing the Harrison Board of Health’s budget to measure the effectiveness of existing services provided by a registered nurse and registered environmental health specialist, along with a contracted medical director.

“I also want to see what we can get for no cost to the Harrison taxpayer,” he said. “I want to see what public health grants are out there.”

Harrison isn’t alone in seeking outside help for meeting the demands of public health services, noted Greg Fehrenbach, management consultant to the N.J. League of Municipalities.

“Over the last 35 years or so, there has been a continued trend for municipalities to cease having their own health officer or health department and aligning with a county, regional health commission or another municipality,” Fehrenbach said.

A survey done two years ago showed that of New Jersey’s 567 municipalities, fewer than 150 provide direct health officer supervision, he said. In Middlesex County alone, for example, only four of its 25 municipalities provide directly health officer service; the rest link up to the county health department.

Aside from cost savings as the rationale for consolidation of health services, Fehrenbach pointed to the “enormous liability” attached to the job of health officer. “Look at the anthrax scare of 2001 or the flu pandemic anticipated three years ago,” he said. “There’s tremendous responsibility that goes with the job, along with the rigorous (state) requirements for certification. It’s not all that easy to find someone who also has to be a good administrator.”

But public health isn’t the only area being squeezed by governments looking to economize.

William Dressel Jr., executive director of the League of Municipalities, said: “Clearly in the last four or five years, we’ve seen an uptick in the number of interlocal agreements or shared services between municipalities, counties and even school districts.”

And, aside from health consolidation, Dressel said, “We’ve seen a number of communities giving serious consideration to sharing of municipal assessors, tax collectors, joint courts, fire protection and EMS – just about every service you can provide in a joint fashion.”

Although the state Legislature has provided for such undertakings since 1973, Dressel said the process has been accelerated during the Christie administration, “where we’ve seen towns looking at every possible way to save taxpayer dollars or to promote more and/or better services. Some have been successful; some have been rescinded.”

In Harrison, for example, the local Fire Department used to provide ambulance service; last August, the town arranged for Kearny’s Emergency Ambulance Squad personnel to handle the job with Harrison’s vehicle from the Cleveland Ave. firehouse in Harrison.

Harrison Fire Director Harold Stahl said that under a first-responder system he’s initiated, “If an emergency call is serious or life-threatening, we can roll an engine company with three or two firefighter EMTs, (on Harrison’s reserve ambulance) depending on availability of our personnel, from Harrison, but Kearny EMS is in charge of the scene.”

“If the Kearny EMS personnel are out on a call and if we can’t reach anyone through mutual aid, we’ll put our backup ambulance unit on the road,” Stahl said. If the backup unit is out on a call, then the Fire Department will send an engine with firefighter EMTs, he said.

Asked about the prospects of Harrison Fire Dept. taking back the service, Stahl said that was “unlikely” at this point because the current operation is working well and “because there are too many irons in the fire. We’re putting our best foot forward.”

Under another inter-local agreement, Harrison Police Dept. is providing dispatcher service on behalf of the East Newark Police Dept. and police officials for both communities say that’s working well.

Elsewhere in the region, the police departments of Belleville and Nutley recently explored a possible sharing of police communications but it appears that is now a dead issue, one official said.

Bloomfield is actively pursuing providing fire protection services for neighboring Glen Ridge, which currently contracts with Montclair for that service. A decision by Glen Ridge officials is anticipated shortly.

Lyndhurst has a shared service arrangement with its Board of Education for the community pool at Lyndhurst High School but has scaled back its prior agreement that provided for the use of municipal personnel to maintain school grounds.

Offering an overview of consolidated government services, Dressel said the League has offered training in applying merger strategies “but we don’t promote it as a panacea to property tax woes but, rather, a way to evaluate services in a joint fashion with a neighboring community.”

In any case, Dressel said, “it’s not something you dictate from Trenton – there’s got to be a deliberative process where the local officials have to decide if the move makes sense.”

Kearny couple still firing Cupid’s arrows a half-century later

Photo courtesy the Dolans/ JoAnn and Charlie Dolan.

 

By Jeff Bahr

Since Valentine’s Day is a grand celebration of love, we at The Observer thought it prudent to include one of romance’s local success stories.

Charlie and JoAnn Dolan, of Kearny, have known blissful love for 54 years and counting. Well, blissful may be overstating things just a bit. According to JoAnn, “Longevity in marriage takes a lot of hard work, patience and endurance in good times and bad.”

To add emphasis to her point, JoAnn references the book “Have a Little Faith” by Mitch Albom. “In the book (the couple) were wed 60 years and the wife said she had about ‘30 happy years,’ ” explained Dolan. “When questioned as to how that could be when they were married for 60 years, the wife replied, ‘well ten minutes here, two hours there, a day here, another day there, it all added up to about 30 years,’ ” said Dolan. “Being happy is not a 100 percent continuous option. But one learns to ‘hang in there’ and the years fly by.”

Husband Charlie says that marriage has been more “fun and games” than not. His father once told him that the “vicissitudes of life come, but they also go.” He tries to stay mindful of that as he navigates the marriage roller coaster.

The couple met at St. Cecelia’s High School. He was an athlete, she a cheerleader. As such, it was almost a foregone conclusion that the two would cross paths. JoAnn says that this dynamic has followed them through the years. It was always, “Yea Charlie, Rah Dolan…Yea Rah Charlie Dolan!” she says.

The Dolans have three grown children: Danny, Mary Jo, and Bernadette, and no fewer than eight grandchildren. If you think these latest additions to the brood play on the couple’s nerves, think again. “If we knew grandchildren were so much fun, we would have had them first!” quips JoAnn.

“As we are aging – much too rapidly – the aches and pains abound,” says JoAnn about the couple’s current challenges in life. “But we are determined to be there for each other – for better or worse.” These last four words represent a simple yet profound promise that has sustained the couple for more than half a century. We should all know such love.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

A WORD WITH THE PUBLISHER: Happy Valentine’s Day!

publisher@the observer.com

 

By Lisa Pezzolla

Love is in the air and as Valentine’s Day approaches, we want to show our love by sending flowers or buying that special gift for the one we love. Nowadays people are getting married and divorcing as if they were returning something at the store that doesn’t fit. It is so beautiful to see older couples who still walk hand in hand after many years together, who have gone through bad times and managed to make it through the worst and still fall back on the vow “for my lawful wife/husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.”
These days, couples treat marriage like it’s a disposable institution. Many believe it’s better to quit when the hard stuff comes around rather than work through their difficulties. This sort of mindset lives only for the good in other aspects as well – a move that suggests that today’s couples take wedding vows far more lightly than those that came before them.
What are we looking for? Why do we yearn to love and to be loved? At its best, love is a magical feeling that makes one feel complete. As you mature and go through life you come to realize that the magic is not easy and it takes work and understanding. To love and to give to others, we must respect ourselves first. Always respect others’ feelings and how you would feel if you were in their shoes.
This week we are featuring a special couple, the Dolans, on page 5. They are special people to each other and to others.  The magic between them after 54 years of marriage is beautiful. If you would like to share your secret to a successful love experience please send me a letter.

A man’s view: We do it ‘cause we love you!

Most of us know Valentine’s Day as the annual February 14 celebration of romantic love. That it certainly is. But what many don’t know is how it began or why we still celebrate it. I could bore you with obscure historical details and endless factual minutiae, but that would be about as much fun as standing 50-deep in a line of male “romantics” on February 13 solely for the thrill of forking over a C-Note for cruddy red roses that will prove, beyond doubt, our eternal love for our ladies. Yes, folks, I am about to explore this sugary annual rite through male eyes. Ladies, you’ve been warned.
First a little background. Do forgive me. An unclear number of Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine got to the heart of things (get it?) a few millennia back.  Their loving actions and deeds spurred Pope Gelasius to create a remembrance day for them in 496 AD. As a result Saint Valentine’s Day was born.  In 1969, the Roman Catholic Church officially stopped celebrating the holiday citing ambiguity concerning the original Saint Valentine as their reason.  Hmm…My guess is the change really came at the behest of male parishioners.
“Yo Padre, give us boys a break wit’ dis sissy holiday, wud ya’? Our guylz are spendin’ all our loot on frilly junk and askin’ us to be respectful too. It ain’t right! It goes against natural laws or somethin’!”
It may be true. The money that I’ve spent over the years on lingerie, jewelry, lingerie, fancy restaurants, lingerie, flowers, candy, lingerie, perfume, “Who Loves Ya’ Baby?” airplane-banners, lingerie, sappy mix-tapes, Vermont Teddy Bears, Please-take-me-back-before-I-jump-off-a-bridge cards and more lingerie, could have been far better spent. One example: I could’ve sent my long-suffering fiancé (AKA “The Fair Maria”) on countless weekend trips with suitably handsome and witty male escorts. Instead, my beloved will now spend yet another Valentine’s Day with yours truly; a tedious and unsettling pastime not dissimilar from digging out the last shards of an ingrown toenail.
Such colossal letdowns fail to factor in the epic battles that often occur on this blissful day of manufactured love. Like Christmas, the holiday can build up great expectations in the minds of those seduced by it (women only). This will often lead to an anti-climax, or worse, when the day doesn’t quite work out as planned.
Some years ago I took a romantic phone call from my sweet, loving lady on that heavenly February day. She was purring rather suggestively, affirming her undying love for me while whispering sweet nothings in my ear. At the risk of sounding soft, I must admit that the moment was idyllic, and, if I’m being honest a tear had come to my eye. Then my girlfriend picked up the extension line and ruined everything! Killjoy.
All kidding aside (or am I?) you’re probably asking why we “relationship guys” go through this tiresome ritual each and every year without fail? Ladies, get ready to grab your hankies – or a camera to record for posterity (or blackmail) that which you’re about to read – because I feel more male honesty coming on. We do it for this simple reason: We love you and want to make you happy.
There, I actually said it. Contrary to popular beliefs concerning men and their supposed locker-room Machismo, we troglodytes are really happiest when we know that you – the women that we love – are feeling fulfilled. There are scores of ways to accomplish that goal, and many ways to fall short of the mark. I’m certain I’ve cornered the market on the latter. Nevertheless, Valentine’s Day gives us a grand opportunity to prove to you how much you really mean to us. We’d be absolute fools not to seize it!
Look, I readily admit that the associated shopping can be a genuine pain in the butt, and getting in touch with one’s deepest romantic emotions is tougher for some men than others. Yet despite our gruff protests to the contrary, I don’t suppose there’s anywhere that we big galoots would rather be on a bracing Valentine’s Day eve than in the warm, gentle embrace of the women that we love.
So there you have it. Just don’t tell my gym buddies that I said so. They’d never let me back into the locker room.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
  

-Jeff Bahr
jeffbahr@theobserver.com

Feds helping pay for new fire pumper

Photo Credit by Anthony J. Machcinski/ Happy to hear about the new rig, from l., are Capt. John Hund, Commissioner Alphonse Petracco, Dep. Chief Paul Cafone and Chief Philip Nicolette.

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Nutley
The Nutley Fire Department will get a much-needed update now that the Department has been approved for the U.S. Assistant to Firefighters grant.
The Fire Department was notified Feb. 1 by Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-8th District), who relayed the news to Dep. Fire Chief Paul Cafone.
“Without Congressman Bill Pascrell and (Public Safety) Commissioner Alphonse Petracco, this wouldn’t be possible,” said Cafone. “This is a prime example of everyone working together,” added Petracco.
The grant is being used to acquire a new pumper truck to replace the volunteer rig, which has been in use since 1982. The search for a new truck is in the “very early stages.”
Nutley was awarded $290,500 in grant money, 10% of which will be matched by the township in what as known as a 90/10 match. The federal government will max out at $265,950 and the town will pay $29,550. If the price of the truck extends past the $290,500 price of the grant, the town will have to pay the extra amount.
As for the truck itself, Cafone and Fire Capt. John Hund are still in the process of putting a committee together to prepare the bid specifications. According to Cafone, the committee will consist of Cafone, Hund, Fire Chief Philip Nicolette, and two other members of the Nutley Fire Department yet to be determined.
The new truck will either be a brand new model or what is known as a demo truck, a truck that is taken to shows. The demo truck would have more mileage on it, but would only have been used at shows to showcase the model’s options.
The biggest obstacle for the new equipment will be the height of the truck itself. Since the truck will be kept at the Park Ave. fire station, the truck has to meet the height of the garage doors, which currently stand at 9 feet-10 inches.
Committee members will also look to make sure it has room to carry up to six firefighters, including the driver, along with a class 1 pump, and a 750-gallon water tank. The truck will also need to meet certain national standards in order for it to be put in use.
What will happen with the current truck, which has an estimated 61,000 miles, has not been decided.
“This truck has been the pride of this (Engine 3) house,” Nicolette, a 30-plus year member of the Nutley Fire Department.
Since its purchase in 1982 for $72,800, the truck has seen service in many memorable blazes in its tenure, including being one of the responders to the World Trade Center attacks and other big fires and first responding situations in the area.
Nicolette recalled that during one blaze, the pumper pushed out water for nearly 24 hours straight, while using only a quarter of a tank gas.
“We really got some good service out of that truck,” Nicolette said.
Research on a new truck is in its beginning stages and very few specifications have been laid out.
While the Fire Department has already taken bids on the existing truck, no sale has been consummated but the township figures to decide what to do within the next couple of months.

News briefs from the local area

EAST NEWARK
A trouble-plagued bar in East Newark was ordered shut for six months by the Borough Council on Jan. 25 after the council concluded that the  Ambatenita Bar & Restaurant, 415 N. Third St., violated a Dec. 14, 2011, consent order.
The closing runs through June 30, at which point the licensee, Jorge Beltran, will have to apply for a license renewal, according to borough officials.
Police Chief Ken Sheehan said the bar failed to live up to one of the conditions in the consent order mandating a 10 p.m. closing on certain days. Sheehan said police, acting on a neighbor’s tip, visited the bar at 10:20 p.m. on Jan. 8 and found customers still being served.
Mayor Joseph Smith said the licensee, accompanied by his Newark attorney Fausto Simoes, offered no defense against the charge and accepted the penalty of six-month suspension of his liquor license.
Smith said that Beltran has operated the bar since 2007.
BELLEVILLE –
The Belleville Zoning Board of Adjustment voted Feb. 2 to approve a controversial plan by Peter Garofalo to operate a roll-off container yard at 95-107 Roosevelt Ave., despite opposition by neighbors.
However, at the suggestion of its planner John Madden, the board attached a list of conditions under which Garofalo’s business can function at the site.
Neighbors worried that a roll-off yard would bring unwanted traffic, noise and pollution.
But the zoning board noted that if the site were developed as a trucking terminal – which is a permitted use in this zone – there could be as many as 60 trucks driving in and out of the property – a much more “intensive” use that the one the applicant was proposing.
In any event, the board stipulated that Garofalo could store roll-off containers overnight on the 17,600 square foot lot only if he arranged for vehicles to enter and exit the property in the “forward” position and that they could safety maneuver; kept the containers empty of debris; kept no more than 40 on site; didn’t stack the containers; hauled only construction debris and no hazardous wastes or household trash; used the site exclusively for his business; provided 3/4-inch clean stone gravel surface; conducted no “major truck repairs” on site; vacuumed debris from his dumpsters on a daily basis; installed slat-fencing and landscaping in the rear and front of the property; and put in a guard rail as a buffer to neighbors’ properties.
Garofalo, who was represented by attorney Robert Gaccione, said he’d operate the business from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week and from 7 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
The board agreed to defer to April a ruling on an application by St. Mary and St. Mercurius Coptic Church to demolish three homes and another structure and build a dome-shaped youth center with parking at 125 Academy St.
KEARNY –
Starting this year, town residents will go the polls in November – the same time as the general election – to choose candidates for the Kearny Board of Education.
The mayor and Town Council voted Jan. 24 to move the school election from April to November (as did the Board of Education on Jan. 17), as permitted by a newly passed state law signed by Gov. Christie.
Residents won’t have to vote on the school budget unless the Board of Education exceeds a state-mandated 2% tax levy cap, said Mayor Alberto Santos. In that event, the budget would face a public vote in November, he said.
Santos said that taxpayers will realize a $30,000 savings in costs for election board workers, voting machine transport, rental of polling places and overtime by consolidating the two elections to one ballot in November and, at the same time, the town should see a bigger turnout for the school balloting, which has, typically, been low. The April 2011 school election, for example, drew only 14% of the electorate, according to Santos.
Candidates for school board must file nominating petitions with the Hudson County Clerk’s Office by 4 p.m. on June 5, when the primary election is scheduled. Those school trustees whose terms would normally expire with the April election will continue as holdovers until year’s end, Santos said.
– Ron Leir

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