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‘Hit-man’ case nets guilty plea

By Karen Zautyk

A Lyndhurst woman, accused of attempting to hire a hit man to kill a former lover’s new girlfriend, pleaded guilty to the charges last week at a hearing in federal court in Newark, authorities reported.

The defendant, Nicole Faccenda, 43, faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when she is sentenced Nov. 14.

Faccenda was arrested last Oct. 26 by federal authorities after the murder-for-hire plot was foiled by an informant and an undercover federal agent posing as the hit man.

In court last Wednesday, she admitted offering to pay $10,000 for the job.

The identities of the potential victim and of Faccenda’s ex have not been made public, but authorities said the man fathered one child with her and at least one with the other woman.

The longterm relationship between him and Faccenda reportedly ended last summer. According to the original criminal complaint, Faccenda phoned a friend in Florida in mid-October, seeking help in fi nding someone to kill her rival. The friend, however, immediately contacted authorities, and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives began recording conversations between the two. At one point, the complaint states, Faccenda stated that she wanted to “spit on the casket” of the soon-tobe deceased.

She also allegedly said that she did not want her ex-boyfriend dead but that he could be shot in the foot. The girlfriend, however, had to be shot in the head, “gone, gone to the moon,” the complaint said.

Last Oct. 21, Faccenda reportedly met with the supposed hit man for the first time, in an A&P parking lot in Mahwah. Subsequent meetings with the informant, whom she wanted to act as a go-between, took place in the parking lot of the Red Robin restaurant in Clifton and at an Exxon station on Rt. 3 in Secaucus.

At the Secaucus meeting, which occurred Oct. 24, Faccenda gave her friend an envelope containing a $2,000 down payment and later, via phone and text messages, provided the intended victim’s name, photo and license plate number, the complaint said.

On Oct. 26, the friend phoned her to report the victim had been shot in the head and it had been made to look like a robbery. But it was a ruse. Faccenda was arrested the same day by ATF agents at her place of work in Mahwah.

After the arrest, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman stated, “This was a cold and calculated plan to end the life of another person. It failed because of the actions of a private citizen, who immediately contacted authorities, and the diligence and hard work of federal investigators. Because of their quick action, a life was saved.”

Junior cadets get law enforcement lessons

Photos by Karen Zautyk/ Kids from the Kearny Junior Police Academy get a chance to pat the noses of Sharp Shooter and Commander, ridden by Newark Mounted Unit Offi cers Rafael Rosa (r.) and Luis Camacho.


By Karen Zautyk 

A concerned Kearnyite called The Observer early on Tuesday, July 31, wanting to know why there was a State Police helicopter circling Schuyler School.

He had his eyes on the sky, but if he had taken a land route around to the school parking lot, he would have been even more disquieted, for sitting there were trucks from the Jersey City Police Department Bomb Squad and the Kearny Fire Department.

But not to worry. This, as the caller was assured, was not some scary scenario being played out. It was all part of the fourth annual Kearny P.D. Junior Police Academy, a comprehensive nine-day program designed to familiarize the “cadets” with the work, and challenges, faced by local officers. Or, in the words of Kearny P.O. Jack Corbett of COP (Community Policing Unit), which runs the academy, “to give the kids a broad overview of law enforcement.”

The daylong sessions began July 30 and ended last Thursday evening with a graduation ceremony at Schuyler School for the youngsters who completed the course – and who passed the physical and academic exams given that morning.

During the program, the 11-to-13-year-old enrollees took part in daily PT, but it was the “academic” instruction that played the more vital role, and that entailed the participation of not only of municipal officers but also representatives from county, state and federal agencies.

Along with the aforementioned J.C. Bomb Squad and the N.J. State Police, academy visiting instructors included members of: the Federal Air Marshals Service; the U.S. Marshals Service; the Regional Medical Examiner’s Offi ce (think “CSI”); the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Hudson County Corrections K-9 Unit; N.J. Fish and Wildlife; the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Offi ce; the Hudson County Sheriff’s Offi ce (teaching internet safety); the State Fire Marshal; the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the N.J. Division of Criminal Justice, and State Police Task Force 1 (specializing in urban search and rescue).

In addition, the kids were treated to a four-hour cruise of New York Harbor on a State Police Marine Unit boat, viewing, among other sights, the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Intrepid Air and Space Museum.

Your correspondent missed that event (drat), but we were privileged (not a term used lightly) to attend the instructional programs conducted by the Kearny Fire Department and the Newark P.D. Mounted Unit at the Schuyler lot. (Rather, we attended part of those programs. Unlike firefighters, we do not handle high temperatures well.)





Photos by Karen Zautyk/ TOP: Sgt. Rick Poplaski (l.), KPD SWAT commander, gives a talk on ballistics at the firing range. At right is Offi cer Jack Corbett. BOTTOM: Kids are mesmerized as KFD members begin perilous climb.

On a blistering hot morning, the KFD showed up, clad in full turnout gear, to give students three hours of lessons in fire prevention and safety, extrication of victims from auto accidents, along with firefighting demonstrations. Before we melted into a puddle, we watched one of the latter, with KFD members precariously climbing a tower ladder to the school roof.

On said roof, by the way, the firefighters found at least half-a- dozen rubber balls, a soccer ball, a basketball and a Frisbee, which they tossed down to the crowd of gleeful kids. “Just one of the services we provide,” noted KFD Capt. Joe Mastandrea, who was conducting the drill’s explanatory lecture. (Note: He was joking. Please do not call the KFD if you lose some bounceable object.)

Another day, we attended the program presented by Newark Mounted Police Officers Rafael Rosa and Luis Camacho, who were accompanied, respectively, by Officers Sharp Shooter and Commander.

The term “officer” for the horses was used by the cops themselves, who consider their mounts to be their partners on patrol. In fact, we learned that outside the stables on Orange St. in Newark, there is a statue of a horse and a monument dedicated to the six mounts that have “died in the line of duty” since the squad’s inception in 1891.

The Mounted Unit at present comprises seven riders and 10 standard-bred horses – former racetrack trotters and pacers, taken under the wings (hooves) of the Standard-bred Retirement Foundation in Hamilton, N.J., and given to the Newark PD free of charge.

Not too long ago, the unit was in danger of being done away with due to city budgetary constraints, but it was (like the racetrack retirees) rescued and, as Rosa put it, “is still kicking.” (No pun intended.)

Aside from daily weekday traffic and anticrime patrols, Camacho explained, the Mounted Unit specializes in crowd control and participates in parades and special events, as well as community- outreach programs. Such as the Junior Police Academy.

The final academy class we attended was last Wednesday at the police firing range, where Sgt. Rick Poplaski, commander of the Kearny P.D. SWAT team, conducted a fi rearms-safety course.

To be perfectly clear, this was an explanatory session. The cadets were not permitted to fi re, or even touch, any of the weapons. And they had to wear goggles and earplugs, even though they were kept at a distance as Poplaski did some target shooting. (“Are you all wearing your ears?” “Sir! Yes, sir!”)

As Corbett told us, “Our No. 1 priority is for gun safety. We want anyone who might come in contact with a firearm at any time to know proper gun safety.”

The kids are also taught that if they ever find a gun (it has been known to happen), “no matter what it is, they should call 911 and not touch it,” Corbett said.

Corbett also emphasized that all the cadets’ parents are told that “if they are concerned (about the firearms demo, for whatever reason), they can come to the range and observe.”

“I’ve never had one parent take me up on that,” he noted.

Over the past four years, Corbett said, the academy has graduated about 120 youngsters.

We offer our kudos to all of this year’s proud graduates. Kudos to all the law enforcement and firefighter representatives who took part. And kudos also to the Kearny COP cops who arranged and oversaw the entire program. In addition to Corbett, these were: Sgt. Peter Caltabellotta, and Officers Jack Grimm, Damon Pein and Steve Montanino.

Fall term will see makeovers at Washington Middle School …

… plus some roster & course additions at high school

Photos by Ron Leir





Photos by Ron Leir/ Workers prepare new cafeteria at Washington Middle School.

By Ron Leir


Students at Washington Middle School figure to see improvements in hygiene, dietary and study habits, beginning this fall term.

That’s because the school, at Fifth St. and Harrison Ave., is getting makeovers that will generate a brand new cafeteria, upgraded boys’ and girls’ bathrooms and a new media center.

Schools Supt. James Doran said the lavatories and upstairs library/computer room should be ready when kids resume classes on Wednesday, Sept. 5, but the cafeteria probably won’t be ready to open until Nov. 1.

During a visit last week to the school – which educates more than 400 youngsters in grades 6, 7 and 8 – a reporter was greeted by the sound of jackhammers demolishing a former library space on the Hamilton St. side of the building.

“We’re putting in a fullservice kitchen with space designed for comfortable seating for 120 kids,” Doran said.

The school will continue its policy of staging lunches at three separately timed seatings, he said.

Since the middle school’s creation in 1962, administrators have provided a makeshift dining area by dedicating a wing of classrooms for that purpose. Pre-cooked food was trucked in on trays from Harrison High School, then re-heated in portable ovens at Washington School and served. Milk and fruit were stored in refrigeration units. Kids ate at desks and tables set up for dining.

But that will change in a few months.

“This has been a pet project of mine since I became superintendent (in 2009),” Doran said. “We wanted to offer the middle school kids a more suitable environment for lunch by preparing food on site and by providing a variety of more nutritious dishes.”

Once the cafeteria is operational, Doran said, kids can expect hot breakfasts on a daily basis – (Lincoln School and Hamilton St. Elementary Schools get them only once a week) – along with a menu that will offer more choices.

Eventually, Doran said, he hopes to do food service improvements at Hamilton and Lincoln.

On the Harrison Ave. side of Washington School, a contractor is nearing completion of new bathroom facilities, which will be bigger and better than the ones original to the 1962 versions, Doran said.

ARCO Construction Group, of Elizabeth, was hired by the district to do both jobs. Doran said the cafeteria will cost in the neighborhood of $480,000 while the bathrooms will run about $410,000. The district is using money from its capital budget to pay for the work, he said.

Rendering courtesy Harrison Board of Education/ Here’s what the new cafeteria will look like when completed.

Doran said the state Dept. of Education (DOE), Div. of Facility Planning, reviewed and approved plans for the projects and the town’s building department is doing periodic inspections.

The other mini-project that middle school students will be treated to this fall is a new media center. “We’ve been prepping that since (this past) Easter vacation, putting in wiring for the computers and air-conditioning,” Doran said.

Observers of the Harrison public schools can expect to see some new faces in administration and some curriculum surprises in September.

The Board of Education recently hired former Jersey City Councilman Steve Lipski as assistant principal assigned to Harrison High School at $121,798 a year and promoted social studies teacher and former Harrison High standout athlete Kimberly Huaranga to assistant high school principal in charge of athletics at an annual salary of $105,858.

Lipski resigned from his most recent job as head of Jersey City’s Economic Development Corp., where he’d been reportedly earning $65,000 a year, to take on his new gig in Harrison, effective July 1.

In 2000 Lipski founded the CREATE Charter School in Jersey City but was forced to shut it down a decade later after the state Dept. of Education declined to renew its charter due to what it judged to be unsatisfactory performance by students and staff.

Still, District Schools Supt. James Doran said he felt both Lipski and Huaranga were “well-fit for their positions.”

In Lipski’s case, Doran said that because of his administrative experience with a charter school operation, “he knows how to use student performance data to assess kids’ weaknesses.” Doran added that certain factors beyond Lipski’s control may have contributed to CREATE’s demise.

Doran said that Huaranga – related to Harrison Councilman Jesus Huaranga through marriage – brings athletic expertise to her new job, based on her having been a girls’ basketball star during her high school student years. She has served the past nine years as social studies instructor.

There were 19 applicants for both positions, Doran said.

Previously, Alan Doffont had served two years as assistant principal in charge of athletics until his retirement June 30.

On the curriculum front, Doran said the district will be piloting an “Eighth- Grade Academy,” that will allow an elite group of students starting eighth grade next month to attend for-credit classes in World History and Computers at Harrison High School.

“We’re in the process of selecting the students,” Doran said. “It’s the start of a long-term project where we’ll be setting up mini-academies keyed to various subjects.”

Additionally, Doran said, the district will be adding courses in Spanish Heritage and Integrated Character Education – which will touch on bullying, texting, computer usage and other “life skills” as part of the social studies curriculum.

“We’ll be using existing staff to teach these courses,” he said.

– Ron Leir

N. Arlington assault leads to ‘Bad Bloods’


Photos courtesy Bergen County Prosecutor/ From l.: Rendell Maldonado, Lorenzo Rosado, Aurelio Valverde and Harold Williams

From l.: Yulissa Liranzo-Guerrero, Jesus Henrique-Marte and Diana Rodrigues



By Ron Leir


An incident in North Arlington ultimately led police on a trail culminating in the arrest of seven individuals who, police believe, are members or associates of the Bloods (Sex Money Murder set) street gang.

The arrests marked the end of a month-long investigation by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Gang and Major Crimes Unit, headed by Chief Steven Cucciniello; the North Arlington Police Dept.; the Passaic Police Dept.; and the Garfield Police Dept., according to Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli.

Molinelli said it all started on July 1, shortly after 1 a.m., when the North Arlington patrol officers responded to a call about a street fight at Bergen Ave. and Ninth St. and found a pickup truck with its windows broken and a female claiming her boyfriend had been assaulted and kidnapped by several individuals in two vehicles.

North Arlington police detectives and the investigators from the prosecutor’s Major Crimes Unit got a description and partial plate number on one of the getaway vehicles – listed as a burgundy Acura – involved in the alleged kidnapping.

They also got a phone number of one of the suspected kidnappers.

Further investigation led detectives to President Ave. in Passaic where they found a 2004 burgundy Acura parked across from 76 President Ave.

At 10:20 a.m. prosecutor’s personnel, joined by North Arlington and Passaic police, went to that address where the vehicle’s registered owner Jesus Henrique-Marte, 30, was listed as living, and his girlfriend, Yulissa Liranzo- Guerrero, 34, and brought them to the prosecutor’s office in Paramus for questioning. Both were booked on charges of kidnapping, a first-degree crime, and aggravated assault, a third-degree offense.

As the investigation progressed, police said they tracked two more suspects in the case to an Outwater Lane apartment in Garfield where, they said, the driver of the second vehicle – a white 2012 Honda – involved in the kidnapping was living. Diana Rodrigues, 28, listed as that driver, and Harold Williams, 29, also living at that address, were both booked at 1 p.m. that same day on kidnapping and aggravated assault charges.

An hour later, police said they found the kidnap victim in Passaic and brought him back to Paramus for questioning. Police said he told them he was a member of the Bloods Sex Money Murder set but had been dodging the gang for several months, trying to extricate himself from the organization.

But on July 1, he told police, several gang members found him in North Arlington, broke the window to his girlfriend’s car, dragged him out of the car, beat him, forced him into another car at knifepoint and drove him to a pier in Hoboken or Jersey City where he was scolded and kicked out of the set. He said he was then driven to Passaic, where he was beaten and let go.

Three more suspects in the case were subsequently implicated: Aurelio Valverde, 30, of Garfield, was grabbed on July 5; Lorenzo J. Rosado, 22, of Clifton, was booked on July 20; and Rendell Maldonado, 24, of Passaic, was picked up on July 25, each charged with kidnapping and aggravated assault.

Bail for Henrique-Marte and Williams was set at $300,000 each with no 10% cash option; bail for Liranzo-Guerrero and Rodrigues was fixed at $200,000 each with no 10% cash option. Bail for Valverde, Rosado and Maldonado was set at $275,000 each with no 10% option. All were held at the Bergen County Jail, Hackensack, pending court action.

Pro Staff Physical Therapy comes to Kearny

Pro Staff’s team members including owner Frank Pavlisko (purple shirt) steady the grand opening ribbon for Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos.







Mike Maffucci explains the new facility’s benefits to attendee Maria Cirasella.

By Jeff Bahr

Pro Staff Physical Therapy, a full-service provider of outpatient physical therapy, recently opened its newest center (the company has additional sites in Bloomfield and Passaic) at the former West Hudson Hospital in Kearny.

Touting “combined experience of over 65 years,” Pro Staff works to restore mobility in post-op patients and treats those suffering from a vast array of physical maladies. A grand opening event, held last Thursday, introduced the operation to the community and vice versa.

Pro Staff “fills a void” that was created when the former hospital shut down and took a physical therapy center along with it, explained Pro Staff spokesman Mike Maffucci.

“A lot of people in the community used to come here (for physical therapy),” said owner and physical therapist Frank Pavlisko. “We’ve seen some referrals from people who’ve said, ‘you’re open again?’ not realizing that a private person bought the building and it’s no longer a hospital anymore, just a private enterprise.”

In keeping with the care theme, that “private enterprise” has now morphed into what promises to be a fullscale medical professional building. In addition to Pro Staff and a handful of individual specialists, the former hospital will soon welcome the Hudson Surgical Center, according to Pavlisko, who adds that the business will likely provide referral service directly to Pro Staff.

“We treat everyone from pediatric to geriatric. Sports injuries, total hip and joint replacements, balance issues, young athletes – most everything from soup to nuts,” explained Pavlisko. “We have a lot of experience. A lot of the therapists here have thirty years experience.” At any given time, two therapists are on hand to provide services, and one full-time receptionist answers calls.

As far as equipment goes, “everything is state of the art,” said Pavlisko. “Nothing is missing. If anybody is in need of something, I’ll get it. (But) I believe I can cover (most) any kind of injury or any kind of problem with the equipment that we have.

At the grand opening ceremony, an extensive and tasty buffet was provided to attendees courtesy of Pro Staff’s marketing manager (and occasional chef) Elisio Rebelo. Afterwards, Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos officially got the enterprise rolling by cutting the tape and welcoming Pro Staff to the community.

A native of Kearny and graduate of Kearny High, Rebelo knows the town better than most. Before the event ended, he summed up Pro Staff’s mission and overall philosophy.

“First and foremost, we’re here to service everyone in this community,” said Rebelo with conviction. “We want to give back. … “Health is truly your greatest wealth.”

Pro Staff Physical Therapy (PSFT) is located at 206 Bergen Ave., 2nd floor, in Kearny. They can be reached by phone at: 551-580-7881, or online at: www.prostaffpt.com. PSFT works with all major medical insurance carriers including Medicare and AARP. They also accept auto insurance and lien cases.

‘Getting Gassed’ by ‘big oil’

“Getting hosed” is a slang term popular in the American vernacular. I don’t suppose I have to explain it, but for those that insist, let’s just say that the term symbolizes a wrongdoing perpetrated upon someone or something.

The oil companies have introduced their own form of this injustice to society, and a nasty one at that. Here it is in a nutshell: They want you and I, John and Jane Citizen, to believe that they really have no control over oil prices; and that they, pray tell, are really struggling despite the fact that their industry continually registers record profits.

They’d also like us to feel sorry for the “hapless” Wall Street speculators that have helped to turn the price of oil into something so volatile, it makes nitroglycerin look like tap water in comparison.

Another older saying goes something like this: “Don’t pee in my face and tell me it’s raining.” This one is self-explanatory, but for those that insist on an explanation, here’s its definition.

The colorful term is used when a scam artist, charlatan, criminal, or other ne’er-do-well is discovered telling outright lies to earn the confidence of their prey before they “take them to the cleaners.”

Sorry about that. I simply couldn’t resist. Definition? Being taken to the cleaners is akin to being bamboozled, lied to, ripped off, made into a chump, etc. Sort of like “big oil” does to us on a regular basis.

Oil prices are on the rise again (surprise!) in the Kearny area. You’ve probably been led to believe that this occurs solely as a result of supply and demand fluctuations. To that, allow me to say to the oil companies, “Don’t pee in our faces and tell us it’s raining!”

The oil industry casts its umbrella over the most profitable companies in the world – companies that reap record profi ts whenever prices are raised at the pump.

In 2011, the big five (BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell) pulled in a record profit of $137 billion! During the fi rst quarter of 2012, when struggling families in Kearny, Lyndhurst, Belleville and countless other communities wondered how they’d make ends meet, CEOs from the big fi ve saw their compensation grow by 55%!

Remember, these “struggling” companies also receive $10- 40 billion a year in tax breaks and direct subsidies by the U.S. government. These are monies that are provided by our taxes, even as we wonder how we’ll pay our mortgages.

To use a new catchphrase, I guess you could say we’re “getting gassed” by big oil. What’s that mean? Jeepers, if I have to tell you …

– Jeff Bahr


Belleville Blotter

August 9

Officers responded to the 70 block of Watsessing Ave. at 3:27 p.m. on a burglary call. The victim told police that the back window of his house had been opened. A wristwatch valued at $300 and grocery items were found missing.

August 7

• Police were summoned to the 30 block of Pleasant Ave. at 6:54 a.m. on a burglary and theft call. The victim told police that she had parked her car at 6 p.m. the previous evening, but had forgotten her purse inside. She also forgot to lock the car. When she returned the following morning, she noticed that her purse and a GPS unit had been taken from the car. Police are investigating.

• A burglary and theft was reported at 300 block of Washington Ave. at 9:22 a.m. The victim told police that she’d closed her store on Monday. When she returned on Tuesday, she noticed that someone had entered her store and taken some merchandise. A rear window found unlocked was the likely entry point. Missing were a laptop computer, hair clippers, grooming blades and a leather bag. Police are investigating.

• While patrolling the area of Franklin Ave. and Belleville Ave. at 9 p.m., officers came upon a vehicle with one headlight out. After stopping the car, a female passenger was found to be carrying a $750 warrant out of Clifton, a $500 warrant from Riverdale, and an unspecified warrant from Nutley. The male driver was issued a summons for the broken headlamp. Claire Dotoli, 27, of Nutley, was arrested, the various towns were notified, and she was released.

• Police performed a random vehicle plate check at Washington Ave. and Joralemon St. at 10:27 p.m. They learned that the registered owner of the vehicle carried an outstanding $750 contempt of court warrant from Westfield. Lauren Filipowicz, 22, of Belleville, was arrested and taken to headquarters.

August 5

• A firearm discharge and related property damage occurred in the area of Bridge and Mill Sts. The victim stated that she had left her home on Wednesday morning. When she returned on Sunday, she noticed three bullet holes in the front wall of her home. She also said that her second floor window had been smashed. The woman recovered what she believed to be bullet fragments. Police removed five .380 caliber casings and fragments from the premises and took them into evidence.

August 3

• At 9:59 a.m., police patrolling the area of Eugene and Honiss Sts. were flagged down by a pedestrian who told them that he observed a man on a bicycle who was peering into parked cars. The man was also trying door handles, to see if they were open, according to the witness. Shortly thereafter, officers came upon a man who fit the description and questioned him. A background check revealed an outstanding warrant from the Essex County Sheriff’s Dept. Norberto Montalvo, 62, of Newark, was arrested and turned over to the Sheriff’s Dept.

– Jeff Bahr

Belweder: little Polish deli ‘round the corner











By Jeff Bahr
Sometimes a jewel can be found right in your very own backyard. Such is the case with Belweder Deli, a Polish meat and provisions emporium (deli to those short on time and long on hunger) located On Midland Avenue, Kearny – a mere stone’s throw from The Observer.

Noted for its fine Polish delicacies, Belweder offers far more to its customers than a typical run-of-the-mill delicatessen – both in the quality of its homemade and imported goods, and in its uncommonly cheerful service.

Owner Mariola Swietkowski puts her heart and soul into the enterprise and the net effect of her loving concern becomes apparent the very second that one walks through the door.

Flanked by Anna Golda, who, Mariola says, “adds her special kick of flavor” and Marzena Burdzy – who prepares the shop’s homemade pierogi. Belweder’s is truly a cut above. Mariola also receives help from her family members. She is “grateful” for this as their efforts help to keep the business running smoothly.

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Mariola to discuss her business. As a man who fancies polish food in general, I was already intrigued by the fact that such a deli exists mere blocks from my workplace.

Not surprisingly, Belweder caters to its share of Polish- Americans. But that’s not to suggest that such people represent the store’s only fans. In fact, Mariola is quick to point out, “at least half” of Belweder’s customers hail from locales other than Poland. Good food is good food, wherever you find it, stresses Mariola, and Belweder’s certainly has the goods.

Swietkowski’s attention to quality and detail is obvious, and her strong work ethic ensures that, whenever a customer drops by the store, she’ll be waiting, with her ever-present smile, to take their order.

A Kearny resident for 28 years, Polish-born Swietkowski came to America over thirty years ago. She hit upon the idea of a Polish delicatessen when she noticed that none existed in her community.

“I’ve seen different restaurants open (in Kearny), but there was no Polish place to bring people together,” explained Swietkowski.

Hoping to change that, the budding restaurateur envisioned a “place where a person could get a full meal at a fairly good price, homemade and different, because Polish food is different,” and took steps to turn her idea into a reality. In September of 2008, Belweder (named after the opulent presidential palace in Warsaw, Poland) opened for business on Midland Ave., and the sweet smells of fresh and cooked kielbasa and stuffed cabbage have wafted through the neighborhood ever since.

Homemade foods found at Belweder (even the bread crumbs are made by hand) act as a supreme drawing card and distinguish the business from others. Polish staples such as perogi, potato pancakes, and stuffed cabbage are prepared “lovingly by hand on a daily basis” by the aforementioned ladies, and the sandwiches offered at Belweder are as generous in size as they are robust in flavor.

In fact, the sandwiches are so uncommonly large that one of Swietkowski’s customers actually mailed a picture of hers (for posterity I presume) to the shop along with her compliments. The photo hangs proudly beside the cash register.

“Our hot and cold sandwiches are very popular,” says Swietkowski of her concoctions on Polish rye. Sandwiches for sale at the shop include the signature Belweder, featuring smoked ham, smoked turkey, and smoked Gouda cheese; the Warsaw, a tantalizing chicken cutlet affair packed with sautéed mushrooms and onions; the Pulaski, a no-nonsense grouping where Pork chops and sauerkraut hang tough in unison; the Chopin – a tasty wrap for those that fancy the always delicious kielbasa and sauerkraut combo, and many others.

Customers can also “create their own sandwiches” explains Swietkowski, so getting what one wants at the store is never a problem.

Underscoring the fact that Belweder’s plays to lovers of Polish cuisine, customers will find a vast array of imported Polish foods for sale including: soups, spices, jams, chocolates, cookies, mustards, yogurts, gelatins, puddings, pickles, fresh doughnuts, and other tasty items too numerous to mention. And, as a bonus to those that understand Polish, a large assortment of Polish newspapers, magazines and greeting cards stand at the ready to bring the flavor of the “old country” back.

Belweder’s steady procession of regular customers proves far and away its popularity in the community. “I know what they (the regulars) like and we like to be nice to people,” said an appreciative Swietkowski with her trademark beaming smile. “Delicious and fresh cold cuts, perfectly balanced with the right flavor,” are the ticket, says Swietkowski.

Value factors into the success formula, too. One of Swietkowski’s regulars, just back from a trip to Brooklyn, couldn’t wait to tell the proprietor that a Polish deli in the borough was advertising “seven pierogies for $12!” as if such a price was a big deal. Belweder’s charges roughly half as much.

To sum things up: if you get a hankering for some good Polish cuisine, I’d advise you to beat a “tasty retreat” (get it?) to Belweder’s front door. Good Polish food at a fair price, and everything served up with a smile?

What’s not to like? Smacznego – as they say in the old country. Enjoy your meal.

News from the Nutley Police blotter

Aug. 8

At 1:54 a.m. police stopped a vehicle going at an excessive rate of speed on Rt. 21 and detected a strong odor of suspected marijuana inside. As the driver reached for paperwork, police said they spotted a bottle of oxycodone pills inside the glove compartment. Police said they also found several bags of a leafy substance believed to be marijuana. Police arrested Johnny Jeffrey, 29, and Austin Jeffrey, 20, both of Jersey City, on charges of possession of prescription medication and possession of marijuana. Both were released after posting bail pending court action.

Aug. 7

A Grant Ave. homeowner called police at 7:47 p.m. to report their home burglarized.

A Hay Ave. resident was rushed to University Hospital & Medical Center of New Jersey, Newark, at 6:59 p.m. after accidentally cutting off the tip of a finger with a knife, police said.

Two small children were removed by a police officer from a brook running through Kingsland Park for safety reasons at 3:05 p.m. Police determined that the kids were from a camp that gathers off Rutgers Place and turned them over to camp counselors.

Two cases of suspected fraud are being investigated by police. At 1:14 p.m. police received a report that a William St. resident had received a check in the mail for $2,700 with a note asking the resident to cash the check and send the money to a Philippine location. At 2:09 p.m. a Witherspoon St. resident told police about getting a check for $3,455 and then being asked to use the money for processing fees on a $250,000 cash prize. Both residents turned over the checks and notes to police.

At 10:48 p.m. two individuals were walking their dogs near Norman and Mapes Aves. when a German Shepherd whose owner lives in Bloomfield lunged at a poodle and bit its head causing bleeding near the eye, according to police. The owners exchanged phone numbers but police said when the poodle’s owner tried to reach the other owner, the number was found to be fake. Police located the Bloomfield owner and advised both parties how to proceed.

At 7:47 a.m. a Crestwood resident called police to report that a pair of garden gnome figures had been stolen from her front porch.

At 2:29 a.m. police stopped a 2008 Honda operated by Marcos Lopez, 26, of Passaic, on Rt. 21 and ticketed Lopez for driving while suspended. Police said Lopez also had two active warrants. He was released after posting bail. At 1:44 a.m. police said an officer pulled over a speeding motorcycle on Rt. 21 on the shoulder along the Belleville- Nutley border but, after momentarily stopping, the motorcyclist then took off south on Rt. 21 towards Newark at a speed in excess of 100 mph. At that point, the officer terminated the pursuit for safety reasons.

Aug. 6

A vandal threw eggs in the driveway of a Sharlene Road resident at 10:32 p.m., police reported.

At 6:11 p.m. police were called to a park off Vreeland Ave. to deal with three dogs running free. Two dog owners were given summonses for allowing their pets to run at large, police said.

Aug. 5

At 8:36 p.m. police went to a Franklin Ave. gas station where a customer and attendant were arguing about the amount of fuel dispensed and advised them of their right to dispute the matter in court.

A 58-year-old Paramus man collapsed at a local dance studio and officers arriving at the location administered CPR to revive him, police said. The man was taken to an area hospital for examination and his family was notified, police said.

Aug. 4

Someone broke the mirror of a Harrison St. resident’s vehicle and keyed words on the side door while the vehicle was parked in the rear of the resident’s building, police said. The incident was logged at 1:28 p.m.

A bronze bench was reported stolen from the front of a High St. residence at 11:56 a.m., police said.

A San Antonio Ave. resident complained to police that a contractor who was paid 1,000 to do repairs at the resident’s home failed to finish the job and couldn’t be contacted. Police advised the resident how to file a complaint.

At 4:50 a.m. police went to Highland Ave. after receiving a report about a fallen tree limb and power lines down. Police and fire units secured the area while a PSE&G crew fixed the wiring. Police said a vehicle was damaged and an electrical service had been pulled from a nearby home.

At 1:58 a.m. police stopped a vehicle seen exiting a closed Washington Ave. gas station and discovered that the driver, Javon Cooper, 25, of Paterson, was driving while suspended and had a $750 warrant out of Bridgewater. Cooper was issued a summons and released on his own recognizance on the warrant.

A Coeyman Ave. resident called police at 12:14 a.m. to report that someone damaged the resident’s mailbox and pole.

Aug. 3

At 8:46 p.m. police responded to an accident at Washington and Hancox Aves. where a woman behind the wheel of the vehicle involved was unresponsive. Officers broke a window to get access to the woman and to provide emergency medical care. She was rushed to an area hospital for possible diabetic shock, police said.

At 6:16 p.m. a Union Ave. resident called police to report the discovery of a foreign object inside the chicken and mixed vegetables that the resident had just picked up from a local Chinese food eatery. Public Affairs Commissioner Steve Rogers said the township health inspector determined, after speaking to the resident, that “the object was a large metal piece of scouring pad” and that “we are satisfied that this was an isolated incident. The establishment has passed our health inspection. There will be no further action on our part.”

– Ron Leir

Around Town


St. Peter’s Rosary Confraternity is holding its communion breakfast on Oct. 7, after the 8:30 a.m. Mass at the Chandelier Restaurant, Franklin Avenue, Belleville. Tickets are $22 each and go on sale Sept. 5th. The speaker will be Rev. Edwin Leahy.

For tickets call the rectory at 973-751-2002.


The Bloomfield Public Library Book Club will meet on Monday, Sept. 10, at 6:45 p.m. in the conference room to discuss “Waiting for the Barbarians” by J.M. Coetzee. When a brutal general arrives at a small frontier town, his soldiers begin torturing captured barbarians. The conscience of the local magistrate forces him to question their authority. Coetzee’s moving allegory suggests conditions in his native South Africa under Apartheid.

J.M. Coetzee won the 2003 Nobel Prize for Literature. For more 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.

Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.


Harrison Recreation Co-Ed Soccer registrations are currently being held until Sept. 14 for grades 1 to 8. Register at the Community Center, 401 Warren St., from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Zumba classes at the Centro Romeu Cascaes Portuguese American Community Center, 308 William St., Harrison, will be on vacation from Monday, Aug. 20 until after Labor Day. Class will resume on Wednesday, Sept. 5. The one-hour class starts at 7:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. For more info or to register, please call Maria Marieiro at or 201-401-0826 or email harrisonzumba@yahoo.com.


Kearny Public Library would like to invite everyone to come see what Mrs. Mills and her art students have been working on all summer, as the library unveils a gallery of student art from its summer art program. The gallery will be on display at the Main library, 318 Kearny Ave., and open to the public from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug.30, after the last summer art session. Please come and enjoy light refreshments as you take a look at all the student pieces. Students are encouraged to bring friends and family to come share their unique creations.

Visit www.kearnylibrary.org or call (201) 998-2666 for more program information.

The August meeting of the St. Stephen’s Seniors will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 21, at the American Legion Hall, 314 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. Table 8 is in charge of refreshments.

For club information, please call Tom at 201-998-8258.


The NJMC will host a canoe trip on Aug. 18, at 8:30 a.m., departing from River Barge Park, Outwater Lane, Carlstadt.

Take a three-hour guided tour exploring the Hackensack River and its marshes. Paddlers will learn the basics of salt marsh ecology and enjoy the magnificent natural and man-made scenery while rowing past wetlands down creeks. Cost is $15 per person. Pre-registration is required.

For more information or to register go to www.njmeadowlands.gov and click on “Environment” and “Meadowlands Tours,” or call 201-460-4640.

The Third-Tuesday-of-the- Month Nature Walk with the NJMC and Bergen County Audubon Society, will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 21, at 10 a.m. This free two-hour guided nature walk will take us to the legendary Harrier Meadow in North Arlington. The 70-acre site, usually off limits to the public, features ponds and tidal impoundments and birds aplenty. The group will meet at 10 a.m. at the entrance to Harrier Meadow on Disposal Road. You can also meet at the visitors’ parking lot at DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst at 9:30 a.m. to carpool.

Check meadowblog.net for last-minute updates and weather advisories. You will have to sign a standard liability release that is good for NJMC/BCAS events throughout the year. To R.S.V.P., contact Don Torino of the BCAS at greatauk4@aol.com or 201-230-4983.

NJMC will have a pontoon boat tour on Aug. 21 and 23, at 5:30 p.m. Get an up-close view of the Meadowlands District’s spectacular scenic beauty and wildlife with a two-hour guided pontoon boat cruise of the Hackensack River and its surrounding marshes. Experienced NJMC staff will discuss the region’s human and environmental history and point out birds and other wildlife along the way.

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

A veteran’s ward party will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 21, at Chestnut Hill Extended Care facility, Passaic, starting at 2:30 p.m.

The event will be hosted by American Legion Post 139, Lyndhurst and sponsored by an anonymous person who wants everyone to remember all the wounded that have served our country. Anyone who would like to remember veterans that live in nursing homes and hospitals please call 201-438-2255.

North Arlington

Queen of Peace Ladies League will resume bowling on Sept. 5 at 12:45 p.m. at Arlington Lanes on Schuyler Avenue in North Arlington. Openings are available for new members. For more information, call Carrie at 201-878- 8321 or Judi at 201-998-3778.

The Senior Harmony Club of North Arlington has scheduled trips to the Taj Mahal on Tuesday, Sept. 9 and Oct. 9. Please call Florence at 201- 991-3173 for more information. Membership in the club is not necessary to attend.


Pen to Prose Writers’ Group will meet at the library on Monday, Aug. 20, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Nutley Public Library. The group was formed to read works-in-progress, share accomplishments, critique works, give writing instruction, and provide encouragement and inspiration to aspiring authors. The group is free and open to the public.