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STATE CHAMPS AGAIN!

Harrison defeats Haddon Township, 4-0, to win 25th NJSIAA state soccer title in school history (Photo by Jim Hague) The Harrison High School boys’ soccer team pose with the NJSIAA Group I state championship trophy, after defeating Haddon Township, 4-0, […]

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This week’s e-Edition, classifieds are now posted

This week’s e-Edition and classifieds are now posted. We apologize for the delay.

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Blood appointed

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  Take away the “acting” title: the Kearny Board of Education has formally installed Patricia Blood as its official superintendent of schools. The board took the action at a special meeting held last Thursday night at the Lincoln School. The vote was […]

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Kearny unveils new monument

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  On May 27, 1922, an estimated 25,000 people gathered in the streets around the small park where Kearny Ave. and Beech St. meet, to witness Gen. John J. Pershing personally dedicate the towering granite monument honoring the Kearny men who died […]

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Nutley cops hunt driver in fatal hit-run

A photo (above) of the suspect van was released Nov. 19 by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.   NUTLEY –  Nutley police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating the motor vehicle that struck and killed a 77-year-old woman on Centre St. on […]

 
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Vikings look to be vastly improved on the diamond

Photo by Jim Hague/ The North Arlington baseball team will look to be improved, thanks to a deep pitching staff. From left are Ryan Fego, Eric Costela, head coach Paul Marcantuono, Jeff Frytek and Mike Brazzel.

By Jim Hague

Paul Marcantuono knew that his North Arlington High School baseball team would take its share of lumps a year ago.

“We had a bunch of kids who never played varsity before,” said Marcantuono, who begins his fourth season as the head coach of the Vikings. “We had a very young team.”

The end result was a team that only won five games.

Well, as the 2012 season gets ready to begin, Marcantuono still has a young team – but at least they now have experience.

“We have only two seniors,” Marcantuono said of his squad, which will begin the new season April 2 against league rival Secaucus. “The core players are still young guys. But I think they’re coming in with some confidence, because they have experience. They’re a little more confident now and you can see the difference. Even though they’re young, they’re all now varsity players with a year under their belts. You expect them to pick things up quicker. We’re still trying to iron out some things, figure out some things, but we’ll be better.”

The Vikings will count on an experienced pitching staff, led by junior right-hander Eric Costela, who earned three of the Vikings’ five wins a year ago.

“He throws strikes and the team makes plays behind him,” Marcantuono said. “He’s thrown three innings in the preseason and looked good.”

Junior Jeff Frytek is another junior righty who has looked good so far.

“He didn’t know he was going to pitch last year and we threw him into his first game against St. Mary’s (of Rutherford) and he did well,” Marcantuono said. “He has a lot of poise. Nothing seems to bother or rattle him. He’s a gamer.”

Junior Ryan Fego is another solid right-hander. He’s also the Vikings’ top hitter, having collected 36 hits last season, batting .500 and earning All- NJIC Meadowlands honors.

“He’s an all-around clutch hitter who gives us what we need,” Marcantuono said.

Another quality pitcher is left-hander Jeff Brazzel, who transfers over from neighboring Queen of Peace and must sit the mandatory 30 days due to the NJSIAA’s transfer rules.

“He has good stuff and will help us,” Marcantuono said of Brazzel.

The catching duties are currently being shared by senior Rob Mullins and sophomore P.J. Sirotiak.

Senior Joey Ford and junior Matt Rosko are battling for playing time at first base. Ford can also pitch when called upon.

Second base will be handled by junior Jeremy Melendez, who is a newcomer to the program.

Sophomore Kenny Kuzmuk, who was inserted as a starter at second base right away last year as a freshman, has moved to shortstop. Kuzmuk has a sensational glove with great range.

“He has great potential,” Marcantuono said. “He just needs to improve at the plate. But he has all the tools.”

Fego holds fort at third base when he’s not pitching. He plays a crucial role if the team is going to be improved this spring.

Frytek is the team’s starting left fielder. Junior Julian Ortiz is in centerfield, but Brazzel can also play there when he becomes eligible later this month. The right field duties are being shared by a pair of sophomores in Neffry Peralta and Mike Long.

Marcantuono truly believes that the Vikings will be vastly improved this spring.

“I really do believe that,” Marcantuono said. “They’re a little more confident and that helps. They’re all supportive of each other and that helps. There’s still a lot of learning going on. I think this team is going to be tough and scrappy.”

The Vikings will know right away how tough they are, as they open their season with games against Secaucus, Becton Regional and Elmwood Park.

“When you are coming off a losing season, you want to get wins early to build the team’s confidence,” Marcantuono said. “You don’t want to have a couple of losses and then the thought is, ‘Here we go again.’ It’s very important to get off to a good start, especially with a young team.”

Look for the Vikings to be improved this season.

Former rivals DelMauro, Ramos now teammates in All-Star contest

Nutley standout back, Belleville lineman selected to 34th annual clash

Photo by Jim Hague/ From left, Belleville’s Armando Ramos and Nutley’s Matt DelMauro were selected to play for the North squad in the 34th Annual NJSFCA North-South All-Star Classic June 25 at Kean University.

By Jim Hague

Armando Ramos had to admit that there was something different being a Belleville football player on the same team with a member of the dreaded rival Nutley.

“Yeah, it is a little weird,” Ramos said.

Matt DelMauro, the standout running back from Nutley, admitted the same thing.

“I think we’ll be able to get along,” DelMauro said.

Whatever the case, the Belleville lineman and the Nutley running back share a common goal now. They have both been selected to participate in the 34th Annual New Jersey Scholastic Football Coaches Association’s North-South All- Star Classic.

This year’s game will take place at Kean University in Union on Monday, June 25. The game will come after both players take part in a grueling three-day training session, complete with dormitory living on the Kean campus, with several practice sessions scheduled.

For DelMauro, the All-Star game will represent a chance to get accustomed to college life before he heads off to Bucknell University in the fall.

“To play at that level, I have to get ready,” DelMauro said. “It’s a little bittersweet, because this will be the last time I play representing Nutley. I have so many good memories. But when I heard about this game, I jumped at the opportunity to do it one more time for Nutley. I want to be able to go out with a bang.”

DelMauro ended his career as the all-time leading rusher and scorer in Nutley football history. Considering all the great backs that have worn the Maroon Raider uniform, it’s a great achievement. DelMauro, also an excellent student, also weighed offers from Columbia University. He will study business at Bucknell.

“I want to be well-rounded,” DelMauro said. “I didn’t want athletics to dictate me. I worked hard on my grades. I just thought Bucknell was a better fit for me. The coaching staff was great and the campus is beautiful. I just think it was the right choice for me.”

DelMauro went to the NJSFCA press conference announcing the All-Star rosters at Piscataway High School Sunday. He got to meet his teammates on the North squad, including Ramos, and the coaching staff.

“It’s definitely a great thrill to be picked for this team,” DelMauro said. “Only the best of the best are here. I want to perform to the best of my ability to show people that I am one of the best.”

Ramos, who has not decided where he will attend school, is weighing offers from places like Albright and Franklin & Marshall, was also elated to be part of the festivities.

“It’s a great honor,” Ramos said. “It’s something that I can add to my resume. I was very surprised that I was selected. Not many from Belleville get a chance to play in a game like this. When I found out, I was real excited.”

Ramos will more than likely play offensive tackle in the game, like he will in college.

“There’s definitely a sense of pride being here, representing Belleville and the football program,” Ramos said. “I knew I still wanted to play football in college. It’s such a big passion in my life.”

Ramos said that he still has a tough time getting over the loss to Nutley last Thanksgiving Day.

“It’s still a little upsetting, but I’ll get over it,” Ramos said.

And as for being a teammate of DelMauro?

“I think we’ll work things out,” Ramos said.

“We’re together now. I know we definitely want to win this game. It’s going to be a real good experience.”

DelMauro is also looking forward to the game, something he never could have dreamed would become a reality when he first started playing football as a youngster.

“It goes to show you that if you always set your goals, you work hard, pour sweat and when it happens, it’s amazing,” DelMauro said. And it’s amazing that two local rivals will bond for one huge cause come summertime.

Be tax efficient in retirement

By Randy Neumann

A great vehicle to save for your retirement is using qualified retirement plans. You get an income tax deduction when you make the contribution. You get tax deferral on earnings in the account until you make withdrawals, but when you take money out of a retirement plan, you pay tax on every nickel (unless it’s a Roth IRA). However, as Meatloaf lamented, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”

Okay, everything that comes out of a retirement plan is taxable. What’s so bad about that? Nothing, if you are in a low tax bracket. But what are the chances of that? Not good, if you hear what is coming out of Washington.

Out of one side of their mouths, they talk of tax reform, lower rates and payroll tax cuts, which will further weaken an ailing Social Security. Out of the other side of their mouths, they talk of higher rates, fewer deductions, redistributing the wealth, wa wa wa wa wa.

Bottom line is that taxes will most likely go up because of money hungry local, state and federal governments. What can you do about that? Start planning. Here are a few ideas.

One possibility is to convert your Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. This is not often a favored technique because you have to pay the tax now on the promise of no taxes in the future. However, in some cases, it works. But first, what is a Roth IRA?

It is a retirement plan named for the man who proposed it to Congress, Senator William Roth from Delaware. Basically, it works in the opposite way of a Traditional IRA: while you do not get an income tax deduction on contributions, you do not pay tax on withdrawals. There are also limits on contributions to these plans based on income. Simply stated, if you make too much money, you can’t make a contribution. Currently the limit is $125,000, if you’re single and $183,000 if you’re married.

A few years ago, the tax code was amended to allow for anyone to convert a Traditional IRA to a Roth, so let’s see how it works.

If you are in your 50s, generally your prime earning years, and you are gainfully employed, converting to a Roth would be futile. Here’s why. Assuming you are a married couple earning $212,000 annually (or single earning $84,000), you are in the 28 percent bracket. If you were to convert to a Roth, you would withdraw X amount of dollars from your Traditional IRA. This would put you into the next tax bracket(s) which could be 33 or 35 percent. You would pay the higher rate on the transaction and you would be left with 65 or 67 percent of the money you started with. This is why very few people convert Traditional IRAs to Roths.

However, there are situations in which the conversions can make sense. If a high income taxpayer is laid off for the better part of a year, they may find themselves in a lower tax bracket. In this situation, a Roth conversion might make sense.

Other examples would include a taxpayer who sells rental property at a loss, or claims major deductions and exemptions associated with charitable contributions, casualty losses or medical costs. But there is one situation that is more common and less stressful than any of the above.

I have seen many clients over the years retire prior to age 62. When presenting their financial plan, it is demonstrated that they are too young to collect Social Security, and without income, there is no tax. I had one client who lived in New Jersey and worked in New York, so the lack of paying three income taxes caused him to do handsprings around the conference room.

I cautioned him that despite the good news, there was bad news: he would lose several tax write-offs like his mortgage interest, property taxes, etc. These write-offs cannot be carried forward. They can only be used in the year that they occur, but there is a fix for that as well. How does one create income to offset tax write offs in retirement? That’s easy, take money out of qualified retirement plans.

Actually, we run cash flows to see how much money can be taken out of a retirement plan and still remain in a low tax bracket. If you’re single, you can take $34,500 in income and still be in the 15 percent bracket. If you’re married, the number is $69,000.

So, if you want to transfer funds from a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, you can put the $34,500 or $69,000 into the Roth and use other non-qualified income for your living expenses.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

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 (R) is a registered representative with securities and insurance offered through LPL Financial Member FINRA/ SIPC. He can be reached at 600 East Crescent Ave., Upper Saddle River 201-291-9000.

Obituaries

Thomas G. Buck

Thomas G. Buck, 70, died on Saturday, March 3, at the Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Buck lived in Manhattan before moving to North Arlington 36 years ago. He worked as a broker for Lehman Brothers in New York City, retiring in 1977.

He was a member of the Arlington Players Club in Kearny. He served in the United States Army National Guard from 1964 to 1970.

He was the beloved husband of Catherine Buck (nee Brennan); the devoted father of Thomas G. Buck II, and dear brother of Marilyn Weigner and John Buck.

Visitation was held at the Parow Funeral Home, 185 Ridge Rd., North Arlington, on Thursday, March 8, followed by a private cremation.

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to St. Peter’s Prep, 144 Grand St., Jersey City, N.J. 07302.

Mildred (Pacheco) Capella

Mildred (Pacheco) Capella, 82, died on Sunday, March 11, in the Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville.

Arrangements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral liturgy was offered in St. Cecilia Church, Kearny. Interment followed at Rosedale Cemetery, Linden. Condolences and memories may be shared at www.thielereid.com.

Mildred was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and lived in the Williamsburg section for many years. She moved to Kearny in 2010. Mrs. Capella was a laborer for Leviton Electrical in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for 19 years, retiring 22 years ago.

She is survived by her husband Albert J.; children Jo-Ann Capella-Jimenez and Joseph Capella; sister of Margaret Laboy and grandmother of Mildred Marie Cuevas.

She was predeceased by her daughter Theresa Capella in 1990.

Richard J. DiMurro Sr.

Richard J. DiMurro Sr., 82, lifelong resident of Harrison, entered into eternal rest on Monday, March 12.

Arrangements were by the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison. A funeral Mass was held in Holy Cross Church, Harrison, followed by interment at Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington. For information or to send condolences, please visit mulliganfuneralhome.org.

Richard is survived by his devoted wife of 62 years Rita; his loving children Gregory and his wife Patricia, Donna Harris and her husband Edward and Gina Tipton and her husband William; cherished grandfather of Ceallaigh, Diarmad and Deaglan DiMurro, Thomas and James Harris, Benjamin and Samuel Tipton; dear brother of Carmella Rada and loving uncle of many nieces and nephews.

Richard is predeceased by his son Richard, Jr., brother Benedict, sisters Mary Petti, Giovanna King and Nickoleona Behney.

Please kindly omit flowers and make donations to St. Jude Children’s hospital c/o of the funeral home in memory of Richard.

Wilfredo ‘Freddie’ Guevarez Sr.

Wilfredo “Freddie” Guevarez Sr., 60, of Harrison, entered into eternal rest on Wednesday, March 14.

Arrangements were by the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison. A funeral Mass was held in Holy Cross Church, Harrison. Interment was in Holy Cross Chapel Mausoleum, North Arlington. For information or to send condolences please visit mulliganfuneralhome.org.

Son of the late Flora, Freddie was born in Puerto Rico. He worked for the Town of Harrison, the Township of Maplewood and Holy Cross School in the maintenance department for over 20 years.

Freddie is survived by his ever-loving father Felix, his devoted wife Maureen (nee Baranowski), loving children Wilfredo Freddie III and his wife Jennie, Maximo and his wife Jill, Felix and his wife Lindsay, his step-daughters Melissa, Tammy and Heather Sak. He was the cherished grandfather of Brianna Corcoran, Madison, Lexi, Reese and Jaxon; dear brother of Harry and his wife Kirsys and James.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the American Cancer Institute c/o of the funeral home in memory of Wilfredo.

Edward S. Krupinski

Edward S. Krupinski died on March 14. He was 88. Born in West Virginia, he lived in Newark before moving to Kearny 45 years ago.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass was held in St. Casimir’s Church, Newark. Entombment was in Holy Cross Cemetery. North Arlington. To leave online condolence, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com

Edward is a retired dock worker from Branch Motor Trucking in Newark.

Husband of the late Vicki (Wolowitz), he is survived by his brother and sisters Stanley Krupinski, Stella Delli Santi and Agnes Santos. He is also survived by his nephew Joseph Krupinski along with many other nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to The American Cancer Society.

Helen C. Kulesa

Helen C. Kulesa (nee: Kazmierski) 92, of Kearny, on Wednesday, March 14.

Helen was born in West Virginia the daughter of the late Andrew and Catherine Kazmierski and the beloved wife of the late Frank (1991). As a child she was raised in Scranton, P.a., and then had moved to Harrison where she worked as a seamstress for Natalie Green in East Newark. During World War II she made uniforms for the U.S. Government Armed Forces. Helen lived in Kearny for the past 60 years and has lived a full and fruitful life; her memory will be memorialized in the hearts of all her family and friends.

She is survived by her loving children Helen F. Kulesa, Ann Rekuc and Lori Zawacki, and her husband Michael; cherished grandmother of Donna Krusznis, and her husband Michael, Steven Rekuc, Jennifer Goodeman, and her husband Jason, David and Allison Rekuc, adored great-grandmother of Michael and Drew Krusznis, dear sister of Walter Kazmierski, Bernice Polukort and Edward Kazmierski.

Helen is predeceased by her brother Frank Kazmierski and sister Mary Ogorzat.

Arrangements were by the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison. A funeral Mass was held in St. Cecilia’s Church, Kearny, followed by burial at St. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Scranton, Pa. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Salvation Army in her memory. For information or to send condolences to the family, please visit: www.mulliganfuneralhome.org.

Edward Mulvanerton

Edward Mulvanerton died on March 15 in Bayonne Medical Center. He was 58. Born in Jersey City, he moved to Kearny in 1979.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral service was held in the funeral home, followed by burial at Holy Cross Cemetery. To leave online condolence, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Ed, known as Eddie Moe, was a mechanic and truck driver for Tug and Barge Dry Dock in Jersey City. He had a great passion for motorcycles and was a member of various biker clubs and owned Able Motor Cycle and Driving School.

Husband of the late Concetta (nee Brown) “Connie”, he is survived by his sisters and brothers-in-law Edith and Martin O’Malley and Frank and Barbara Brown. He is also survived by his nieces and nephews Kathy Mattoon, Joanne Gouveia, Robert O’Malley, Cheryl Beech and Aurora Galaris and their families.

Herman C. Siemer Jr.

Herman C. Siemer Jr. died on March 11. He was 81. Born in Kearny, he moved to North Bergen four years ago.

Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral service was held at the funeral home, followed by interment at Fairmount Cemetery in Newark.

Mr. Siemer worked for the IRS and was a member of Copestone Ophir Lidge in Kearny. He is survived by his sister in law Josephine Siemer and his two nieces Lila Zimmerman and Lisa Siemer. In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to Grace United Methodist Church in Kearny.

Helen V. Smith

Helen V. Smith died on March 14 at home. She was 87. Born in Harrison, she lived in Kearny for many years.

Arrangements were the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral Mass was held in Queen of Peace Church, North Arlington. Entombment was in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington. To leave an online condolence, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com

Wife of the late John, she is survived by her children and their spouses Karen McClure, Kenneth J. (Arlene) Smith, Irene Connolly, Kathryn (Jack) Mount, Robert (Kathlene) Smith and Annamarie Smith. Sister of Irene Kryspin and Alfred (Arlene) Kryspin Also surviving are her grandchildren Michele, Dana, Kristen, Jamie, Lisa, John, Kyle, Kourtney, Kelsey, Karlee, Michael, Ryan and Stephanie and her great grandchildren Riley, Emily and Andrew along with many nieces and nephews.

Know what matters the most

The one secret that sets the rich and successful apart from others is the knowledge they have about the things they need to focus and concentrate upon. They know how to separate the majors from the minors. A lot of people can’t do better for themselves because they tend to major in minor issues. It is important not to let petty matters use up all of your energy when you can put your focus where the probability of success and achievement may be higher. It is good to be busy; however don’t mistake activity with achievement. It is very easy to be fooled by the idea of being busy doing futile chores, rather than investing your time and thought processes into something worthwhile. Remember, we do not have a lot of time on our hands. Any minute of any day could be our last, so why waste our precious reserve in backbiting, gossiping, complaining? How does it help you to get to a better stage in life? If you choose not to focus on these and instead start concentrating on building better relationships you will not only enrich your own life but the lives of others as well. Use your time in the most efficient manner; snap those thoughts out of your mind which encourage you to think bad about another being. Instead invest the same in something more promising. There are plenty of things that probably need your attention, but you need to choose wisely which ones actually deserve it. Elevate yourself by knowing the difference between things you must give more importance to from the stuff that you shouldn’t be wasting time on. It is in your hands to make the change. Prepare a mental list and allocate your activities, chores and other important matters as per their result-yielding ability. Remember that opportunities to succeed don’t come by very often and when they do, you need to be wise and act immediately on the ones which will take you closer to your goal. That will only be possible when when you aren’t wasting your time and energies elsewhere. So make that change today and see how wonderful life can be. Focus on the good, and good shall come to you.

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

ANOTHER FALLEN CANDLE, ANOTHER FIRE

PHOTOS BY BRUNO CABALLERO/ FOURTEEN PEOPLE WERE FORCED OUT OF THEIR APARTMENTS IN A MARCH 6 FIRE. INSET: FIRE ERUPTS ON TOP FLOOR OF 50 KEARNY AVE.

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

KEARNY–

It’s déjà vu all over again in Kearny.

A second fire traced to a fallen candle in a little more than a week displaced 14 people from a three-story, multi-family building at 50 Kearny Ave., off Woodland Ave., on March 6.

A four-alarm fire at 187 Brighton Ave. that fire officials also blamed on a falling candle left one family out in the old on Feb. 27.

A passerby walking along Kearny Ave. reported seeing flames coming from a third-floor apartment a little after 3 p.m. Nearly 30 firefighters and at least 10 police officers responded to the scene. Pre-rush hour traffic was diverted off Kearny Ave. between Johnston Ave. and Rose St. The two-alarm fire was deemed under control within 45 minutes of the initial call.

Harrison and East Newark Fire Departments also responded to the blaze while North Arlington and Jersey City provided stand-by coverage at Kearny firehouses.

The fire left 11 adults, three children and three cats homeless. They were transported, initially, to an emergency shelter set up at Washington School before they were eventually taken in by either family members or by the Red Cross.

Kearny Fire Chief Steve Dyl said that the building, which is occupied on the ground floor by Bottega Gabriella, a vintage and antique store, owned by Eder Assuncao, “will be shut down pending a review by the building department.”

The blaze left one police officer injured from falling debris, but he was not listed as being seriously hurt.

The Knox Presbyterian Church, just south of the blaze, was left untouched.

This is the second fire to strike Kearny in an eight-day period. The fires on Brighton and Kearny Aves. have been ruled accidental with the source of the fires stemming from candles within the homes.

“Candles should not be left unattended,” said Dyl. “Even in a glass jar, candles should be left on top of a plate or something non-combustible. They should not be left on top of wood surfaces, not near curtains, and not near combustibles.”

Dyl also referenced an alert on the Kearny Township website which notes: “The majority of candle fires result from human error and negligence.”

The website also gives several tips to prevent candle fires including:

Avoid using lighted candles. Consider using battery operated flameless candles.

If you must use candles, ensure that they are placed in sturdy holders.

Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.

Keep candles away from children and pets.

Never leave burning candles unattended.

Dyl thanked the Fire Departments of Harrison, East Newark, North Arlington and Jersey City for their help in controlling the blaze as well as the Kearny Police Department who helped in the initial response and directing traffic around the busy area.

Argument between neighbors turns deadly; suspect in custody

By Anthony J. Machcinski

LYNDHURST–

An argument in the morning hours of Monday, March 5, led to the death of one woman and the subsequent arrest of a neighbor charged with the killing on Tuesday, March 6.

Lydja Mitchell, 59, who lived in Apt. 3 of an apartment complex at 103 Page Ave. in Lyndhurst allegedly quarreled with 49-year-old Stephen Baldino, a resident of Apt. 2 in the same complex. The argument is believed to have occurred in the victim’s apartment, but it is unclear as to why Baldino was allegedly in the apartment in the first place.

After the argument, it is alleged that Baldino brought a knife with him into the victim’s apartment where he stabbed her to death. Lyndhurst Police recovered the knife from the apartment.

Lyndhurst Police responded to the Page Ave. location around 5 p.m. after a concerned resident of the complex had asked for a welfare check of Mitchell, who had not been seen that day and had not answered repeated knocks on Mitchell’s door.

Police entered the apartment with help from the landlord and found Mitchell’s body on the floor, with what appeared to be several stab wounds.

According to a press release from Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli, a search warrant was executed on Baldino’s apartment that resulted in the seizure of numerous items of evidence that, authorities say, linked Baldino to the crime.

Investigators alleged that, based on their discovery of clothing and footwear soaked in bleach in the suspect’s apartment, they believed that Baldino had been taking significant steps in an effort to conceal his involvement in the crime.

Baldino was arrested on March 6 and charged with murder of the first degree; a second degree charge of possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose; and a third degree charge, hindering apprehension.

Baldino’s bail was set at $2 million with no 10% cash option and he is currently being held at the Bergen County Jail, Hackensack.

Baldino is currently unemployed and had been an acquaintance of Mitchell’s since living in the same building together for the past year; however, there isn’t any information listed as to a relationship between the two being more than friends.

Hudson County Bar Association meets in Kearny for first time ever

 

Kearny members of the Hudson County Bar Association

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

A historic event took place in Kearny on March 8 when the Hudson County Bar Association held its New Jersey State Bar Night at the Irish American Association.

The meeting, which had not been held in Kearny before the March 8 affair, is an effort from Bar Association President Brian J. Neary to unite all the lawyers in Hudson County by traveling to the different towns in the county.

“The Hudson County Bar Association is comprised of many single and small firms (that generally serve their towns),” Neary said.

“The overall goal is to bring the lawyers in the county together, that’s how I see it,” said Stephen Mc- Currie, Vice President of the Hudson County Bar Association. “Hudson is one of the few counties in the state where most of the lawyers are solo or in small firms. This is an effort to reach out to some of the local attorneys in other towns.”

According to the Hudson County Bar Association’s website, its mission, “is to promote a professionalism and legal camaraderie within the legal community, to aid in the administration of justice, to enhance the delivery of and access to quality legal services, to educate the public about the legal system, and to actively participate in the success of the community at large.”

Neary helped to create that camaraderie on March 8 when he came to the event in his family’s kilt, doing his best to evoke the spirit of the month of March.

“I used to march in the Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day parade every year, but without the parade I had to bring it out this year,” Neary said.

Hudson County Bar President Brian J. Neary (center) with Bar Association Honorees Susan A. Feeny and Paul McCurrie

 

The event, attended by roughly 100 people, also honored one of Kearny’s longest cherished lawyers and town fixtures.

Paul McCurrie, of McCurrie, McCurrie & McCurrie, L.L.C. at 680 Kearny Ave., has been involved in the legal profession for the past 50 years.

 

“It makes me feel very proud (to be honored in Kearny),” said Paul McCurrie, who was born and raised in Kearny and graduated from Kearny High School.

“It makes it more meaningful and really personal that he is being honored in Kearny,” said Paul’s son Stephen McCurrie, who also hails from Kearny.

Paul, a man with strong Kearny roots who has become a fixture in the town, had held several positions both with the Hudson County Bar and with the town itself, becoming the Kearny Town Attorney from 1961 to 1963.

Paul McCurrie was also a U.S. Navy officer, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade during his tenure with the Navy from 1954 to 1958. His service to his country was a time that defined McCurrie’s life.

Paul McCurrie r. shares a moment with his son Steve (center) and President Brian J. Neary.

 

 

“I grew up in the Navy,” McCurrie said. “When I went into the military, I was young. I was a man when I came out of it. I always felt very happy I had that experience.

After returning to Kearny, McCurrie became a lawyer in his uncle’s firm, then under the name of McCurrie and Therring.

“When (my uncle Bob) withdrew, I had the opportunity to become the attorney.” McCurrie explained.

Once in the firm, McCurrie continued to become the town fixture that he has been today. According to a biography posted in the program for the event, McCurrie, “has continuously dedicated his services to better the community and has always enjoyed serving his fellow Kearny residents.”

The Hudson County Bar Association State Bar Night saw more than 100 lawyers come together at the Kearny Irish American Association.

 

However, McCurrie found more significance in the event’s placement than his honoring at the event.

“Two of my children (are practicing) here in Hudson County and I just felt very happy for them,” said the elder McCurrie. “I knew this would help them throughout their years as they go along

Lyndhurst Elks Club rebounds from Hurricane Irene damage

Photo Courtesy of Christine Brown/ Emergency workers converge on Elks Club in the wake of Hurricane Irene

 

 

By Jeff Bahr

LYNDHURST –

Like other lodges that bear its familiar name, the Lyndhurst B.P.O. Elks Club 1505, 247 Park Ave., provides charitable services to the community at large. So it was nothing less than a major blow to the community when Hurricane Irene blew through New Jersey last August and left the lodge looking much the worse for wear.

The storm, which delivered most of its devastation through intense flooding, hit the Elks Club and hit it hard. Seven feet of water destroyed the club’s banquet hall, lounge, kitchen, boiler room, bathrooms and storage garage, among other areas.

“Our first sight of the lodge was that Sunday morning after the storm,” said Lodge Chaplain Christine Brown. “A block away was as close as emergency workers would let us be. The water was all the way up to the top step of the lodge building – it seemed surreal, like something from a bad movie. I just kept thinking, how would we ever rebuild? It kept going through my mind, also our neighbors… We lost a building – they lost their homes. I knew we needed to rebuild so we could also help our community.”

Julie Murtha, the club’s Esteemed Leading Knight, wondered what, if anything, might be salvaged from the lodge. “(Our) first thoughts were once the water recedes we can see what can be salvaged,” said Murtha. “We have been through flooding before but never this bad. We are in for the long haul. And looking at the neighboring houses and the American Legion up the street from our lodge in complete shock at the damage, (we were) hoping everyone got out safely. Material things can be replaced but people cannot.”

Murtha also expressed frustration with the laborintensive precautions that members took when they heard that Irene was coming. “We sandbagged for two days in preparation – all for nothing,” said Murtha, whose exasperation at the utter hopelessness of guarding against such an event was apparent.

Head Lodge Trustee Steve Robinson, a past Exalted Ruler at the lodge, spoke about the unprecedented level of damage that came as a result of the storm. “We survived the flooding a few years back. It was only about three feet (deep). This was a total shock. It didn’t happen during the storm – it was the storm surge,” said Robinson.

With the Passaic River a short distance away, the lodge and surrounding homes were affected not only by the intense rainfall, but also by a severely rising water table.

Photo Courtesy Christine Brown/ Sandbags stacked at the Elks’ entrance failed to keep out the surge from the storm.

 

“We received phone calls earlier in the morning that we only had maybe three feet in the building, then the surge came. And the calls came in that we lost the lodge and the neighborhood was under water. Two members were in the building when the surge came and were thankful that they got upstairs and out of harm’s way,” Robinson said.

Realizing that they had a Herculean job on their hands if they were to return the lodge to its original state, lodge members from Lyndhurst and members of assorted Elks clubs from across New Jersey banded together in solidarity to restore the damaged facility. According to Brown, the lodges included Nutley, Belleville, North Arlington, Kearny, Harrison, East Newark, Newark, Bloomfield, West Orange, South Orange, Orange, Cedar Grove, Brick, Paramus, Bayonne, Mahwah, Ridgewood and Garfield. Boy Scout Troop 97 and Emblem Club 72 also helped in the restoration effort. There were about “50- 60 people in total,” said Brown. “Including our own membership.”

Steve Robinson and Julie Murtha “spearheaded the demolition, cleanup, and rebuild,” explained Brown who added that the two put in more hours than all of the help combined. “Bill Wirth, our Exalted Ruler-Elect, also handled all the contracts, contractors and rebuild,” he added.

The volunteers gutted portions of the building that were beyond help and repaired those that showed structural integrity. It took six long months and well over $100,000 to make the necessary repairs. On Friday, Feb. 24, the lodge officially reopened and was once again put to task in serving the community.

Fearful of hurting anyone’s feelings by forgetting to mention them by name, Brown stressed how important all of the volunteers were in their efforts to bring the lodge back. She also sent out a “special thanks to Joe and Terry” for letting their Double Barrel Tavern act as “1505’s home away from home.”

Despite its triumphant return, the lodge isn’t quite out of the woods yet. “We need some help keeping up the good works,” said Brown in describing the lodge’s need for money and continued help from the community. If people could remember that when looking for a hall to rent for a special occasion, the Elks is now open and available,” said Brown before cataloguing some of the many things that Elks Club 1505 does for the community.

“We will continue to sponsor and continue to help throughout the community with things such as Student of the Month; Our Americanism Committee holds an annual essay contest throughout the school system; Our Special Children’s Committee offers scholarships for special needs children looking to go to college – we would like to extend this into the Lyndhurst school system as we know there is a need,” said Brown.

“Our Veteran’s Committee not only visits the veterans in hospitals, we have them to the lodge for barbeques and dinners and they always leave with a much-needed bag of supplies.”

“Lyndhurst Elks also offers an Antler Program. (Anyone) 12-20 looking to discover what the Elks are about, make new friends, help the community and Elks programs, or gain needed community service hours is welcome.

The Antlers have their own officers, treasurer and president so they can also gain leadership experience which will help them later in life. Many past Antler members have received scholarships through the Elks for college,” Brown said.

“But we can only do all these things with help not just from within the lodge, but by getting the word out about the good work the Elks do and stand for. Again, that goes back to the community. It is a special circle of life.”

Upcoming events at the lodge include the following:

The Lyndhurst Emblem Club is holding a Vendor’s Night on April 12 from 6 – 9 p.m. It will feature new and used items for sale. Fee is $25 if you bring your own table or $30 to rent one. Call Pat at 201-355-8522 or email lyndhurstemblemclub72@ gmail.com for more information.

The Emblem Club is sponsoring a Ham Dinner and Shoot on March 28 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 for dinner, coffee and dessert. Call Pat at 201-355-8522 or buy tickets at the door.

A WORD WITH THE PUBLISHER:Revisiting Japan’s disaster

publisher@theobserver.com

 

I had intentions to write about changing the clocks ahead and the joy of it being brighter longer. But this past Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of last year’s earthquake and tsunami that killed some 19,000 people in Japan. As it is now well known, the nuclear power plant in Okumamachi, Fukushima suffered a meltdown as a result of the massive earthquake that measured 8.9 on the Richter scale and the subsequent tsunami that engulfed it. When looking at the photos, it still looks lifeless and the repercussions are yet to come. On Sunday morning sirens blared across Japan and mourners bowed their heads in respect for those who were killed. Survivors dressed in black visited many of the ravaged areas to lay flowers where loved ones had died. After a year of massive destruction over 300,000 people are displaced. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all.

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