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Kearny’s Gomes collects Observer Female Athlete of Year

Soccer and basketball standout becomes second straight Kardinal to gather award

Photo by Jim Hague/ Recent Kearny High School graduate Stefanie Gomes (center, right) receives the 2011-2012 Observer Female Athlete of the Year award from Observer general manager Robert Pezzolla center, left). Also pictured, from left, are Kearny girls’ soccer coach Vin Almeida, Kearny Principal Dr. Cynthia Baumgartner, Maria Gomes, Stefanie’s mother, and athletic director John Millar.

 

By Jim Hague 

Stefanie Gomes’ amazing athletic career began when she was just seven years old. It started on a Kearny soccer field.

“It wasn’t the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, but I certainly had to work at it,” Gomes said. “I didn’t have a lot of success. I had to work to get better. I actually started out playing defense, then moved up to midfield and finally became a forward when I was like 12. I was more comfortable at forward.”

The second half of her involvement in sports came a year later, when she signed up to play basketball in the Kearny Recreation program. But there, Gomes found herself playing with and against boys.

“I got used to playing with the boys,” Gomes said. “Actually, it really helped me to get better.”

What also helped Gomes was having an older brother, Michael, who liked playing sports.

“He always encouraged me and wanted me to always go play with him and his friends,” Gomes said. “He was my brother, but he was always like my coach. He’s three years older and helped me a lot.”

By the time Gomes got to Kearny High School, she was established as a soccer player, but she still needed help with her basketball skills.

“I had a lot to work on in basketball,” Gomes said. “I didn’t have a left hand. Coach (Jody) Hill helped me a lot, but I knew I had to improve.”

But her soccer game was already in full bloom.

 

“She was fantastic,” Kearny head girls’ soccer coach Vin Almeida said. “She was very consistent in scoring goals. Early on, she was very quiet, almost too quiet to a fault, but she eventually developed into more of a leader and did some really good things.”

Almeida tried to get a rise out of Gomes.

“She was like a lake, always so calm,” Almeida said. “We tried to get her intense. But it was pretty funny how she never really got upset or too excited.”

Gomes was instantly a success in soccer who gradually increased her goal production throughout her four years, scoring 21 goals as a junior and an astounding 37 times as a senior, ending her sensational career with 88 goals.

“Some of the games, she could have scored more, but she gave up the ball to allow her teammates to score,” Almeida said. “You never knew when she could do something special. She always had the potential to do so. Whenever there was a lull in the games, at any moment, something special could happen and more times than not, they did happen.”

Almeida thought that Gomes had a special ability to turn on the afterburners when needed.

“She was definitely deceptively quick,” Almeida said. “You’d be watching her and think that she couldn’t run any faster and then she would amazingly get there.” Hill had the opportunity to coach Gomes for four years in basketball.

“He’s naturally gifted,” Hill said. “She had quickness and great leaping ability. She definitely worked at it. There were times she was coming home from soccer practice and then would come to work a little extra on basketball.”

Gomes eventually became the latest member of the Kearny 1,000-point club, ending her career with 1,201 points, among the top 10 scorers in the history of the school.

For her prowess in both soccer and basketball, Gomes has been selected as The Observer Female Athlete of the Year for the 2011-2012 scholastic sports season.

Gomes received her award recently from Observer general manager Robert Pezzolla. She became the second straight Kearny female to receive the award, joining former soccer and basketball teammate Janitza Aquino and became the third Kearny girl to garnish the honor, joining Aquino and Allyson Dyl (2007-2008). Gomes is the eighth recipient of the year-end award.

“I think it’s a great honor and a great feeling,” Gomes said. “Looking back, I never would have thought I would end up doing all the things I did in high school. It’s amazing to think I was that successful. I have so many high school memories and everything was a good experience for me.”

Gomes was asked what sport she preferred playing.

“I guess I like playing soccer more, because I’ve played it longer,” Gomes said. “I love playing soccer. People think I’m better in basketball, but I think I’m better in soccer.”

Gomes said that when she was younger, she always wanted to be like Stefanee Pace, a three-sport standout who ended up playing soccer at Rutgers.

“I always used to watch her play all the time,” Gomes said. “She was so good in everything. She was the best athlete ever.”

Now, Gomes has earned her place in Kearny history, right along with Pace, Dyl and Aquino.

Hill marveled at Gomes’ abilities.

“She had incredible energy,” Hill said. “She could get a rebound on one end of the court, then bring the ball all the way down and score. When she turned it on, she would explode past people.”

Hill used the same term as Almeida.

“She’s definitely deceptively quick,” Hill said. “Sometimes, it may be easy to go through the motions, but Stefanie led by example. We had a little bit of a talk midway through the season, discussing that she needed to be more of a leader, be more vocal. I asked her how she wanted to end her career. I think that opened her eyes and she realized how good she was. She needed to be at a different level. She got inspired and had some mental toughness. She realized she had to lead the team and finished strong.”

Hill and Almeida both said it was a joy to coach Gomes.

“It was a pleasure to watch her develop and play at the level she did,” Hill said. “You knew that if Stefanie Gomes could get 20 points, we had a better chance of winning. It was a pleasure to coach her and see her phenomenal athleticism and spirit.”

“She really was a joy,” Almeida said. “She never complained and always worked hard. She was able to do some amazing things and it was great to have.”

Gomes credited her close-knit family for her success.

“My mom (Maria) would always tell me to work hard and good things would happen,” Gomes said. “She’s about 10 times more excited about this award than I am. My dad (Jose) doesn’t make every game, but he pushes me all the time and supports me. He’s a little quiet, but he’s always there for me. My brother was a huge help. They all mean a lot to me. I couldn’t have done anything without them.”

Gomes was happy to receive the same award that her friend and former teammate Aquino did a year ago.

“She’s a great friend and I’m glad we can continue the tradition,” Gomes said. “When she found out I was getting the award, she texted me and told me how proud she was.”

Gomes will now head to Montclair State in the fall – a school where Aquino already plays basketball. But Gomes will be a soccer player for the Red Hawks.

“I’ll see Janitza around school,” Gomes said. “I’ll be at her games and I’m sure she’ll be at mine. She’s great.”

“We’ve been blessed to have two phenomenal athletes back to back,” Hill said. “They’ve both represented our programs well.”

And who knows? Maybe there’s a third straight Kearny female athlete waiting to snare next year’s top athlete honor.

Lyndhurst held to 4 wins in tourney

Photo by Jim Hague/ Lyndhurst Little League ace righty Nick Carnevale delivers a pitch during the District 5 Little League All-Star tournament in Wood-Ridge last weekend. Lyndhurst won four games before getting eliminated in the semifinals.

 

By Jim Hague

Phil Mazzarella has been coaching in the Lyndhurst Little League for a quarter century. Eight times, Mazzarella has been selected to serve as the head coach of the program’s 11-and-12-yearold All-Star squad.

“I just love it,” said Mazzarella, who coached this year’s All-Star contingent as well. “It’s great when the kids listen and realize you know what you’re talking about. Baseball has always been a labor of love for me, since I was a little kid growing up in Lyndhurst. I played Little League in Lyndhurst. It’s always been a part of me. I always wanted to give something back.”

Mazzarella assembled a solid team to compete in this year’s District 5 tournament at Wood-Ridge.

“We really have so many talented kids in the town,” Mazzarella said. “We had a talented team and had a good shot to do well in the tournament.”

Lyndhurst did manage to win four games in the tourney, defeating host Wood- Ridge, North Arlington, Garfield and Hasbrouck Heights, to advance to the tourney’s semifinals.

However, their run in the District 5 tourney ended Sunday with a loss to Rutherford American. Lyndhurst lost both of its games over the weekend by a single run, ending a fine performance in the tourney.

“We got good pitching, but we just didn’t hit in the key points of the game,” Mazzarella said. “Of course, we’re proud. The kids played hard and tried their hardest. They just came up a little short. Both games, we were down early and fought back. Give our kids credit. The games came down to one run and ended up losing.”

One of the team’s top pitchers was right-hander Nick Carnevale, who displayed a ton of poise and promise in the team’s 4-3 loss to Kearny on Saturday. Carnevale was mixing up arm angles and pitch deliveries, amazing for a 12-year-old.

“He was definitely our best pitcher throughout the tournament,” Mazzarella said. “Numerous times, he made it look like he was throwing a different pitch, then came with the heat. He’s a smart baseball player.”

Carnevale is certainly one to watch in the years to come.

Corey Sowinski is another of the Lyndhurst pitchers who did a fine job. Nick Matarazzo pitched one game in the tourney and it turned out to be a shutout. Lefthander Max Vigliotti, who did a little bit of everything for the squad, was another solid hurler.

Ryan Donohue was the catcher who maintained all the pitchers.

“He did a real good job behind the plate,” Mazzarella said.

Although Donohue had to survive a bit of a scare Sunday, after he took a foul ball off the catcher’s mask.

Matt Tancredi was the first baseman who shared first sacker duties with Andrew Leonardo.

Isaiah Figueroa was the team’s second baseman, another player with a ton of promise for the future.

“He’s just an all-around player,” Mazzarella said. “He was our best hitter in the tournament. He also put down two bunts in one game. He’s got a bright future.”

When Carnevale wasn’t on the mound, he was the team’s shortstop and lead-off hitter.

Sowinski was the third baseman for most of the time.

Left field duties were shared by Nick Cutola and Conor Yunis. Vigliotti held down the fort in centerfield, blessed with an incredible throwing arm and with lightning in his bat.

“He hit five homers in the last five games of the regular season, then hit four homers in the tournament,” Mazzarella said. “He’s a good hitter with a great arm. He just has the right attitude all the time and he also has a very bright future.”

Right field was shared by Jonathan Karlok and Tom Terrana.

So the tourney ended for the Lyndhurst nine Sunday afternoon, a little earlier than what they hoped for. But there was no reason for sadness. They left with their heads held high.

“Definitely, they played hard,” Mazzarella said. “They tried very hard. They just came up short. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.” Not when you win four games in one of the toughest District tourneys in New Jersey. There’s reason for pride.

A stunning Olympic site

Even before the first athletes take the podium, this year’s Olympic games have already set a record. London is the only city to host the Olympics three times in the modern era.

 

Photo courtesy London 2012

 

The fact that London has hosted the games more than any other city — it also hosted the 1908 and 1948 games — speaks volumes about its status as a world capital that embodies the Olympic spirit.

A GLOBAL ICON

Double-decker buses, tea time, the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. All these are symbols of London, a place that has been a center of wealth and political power for centuries.

London is believed to have been settled by Romans more than 2,000 years ago on the River Thames. Since then, it has been the site of some of history’s most important moments, from the famous decisions of the British royal family to the influential plays of Shakespeare and the air raids of World War II.

Its status as a military, cultural and financial capital changed the entire Western world, especially as Great Britain’s influence expanded around the globe. There was a time when, quite literally, the sun never set on the lands ruled from London.

A NEW CITY

London has changed a lot since its time as the capital of a far-flung global empire that reached its peak in the 19th century. It’s still a city that embraces its important place in history, but it also has become more cosmopolitan and modern than many people could have imagined just a few decades ago.

London’s population has reached nearly 8 million people who come from all around the world. According to the National Centre for Language, more than 300 different languages are spoken in London, making it one of the world’s most culturally diverse cities. You can also see the face of the new London in its eyecatching modern architecture, including the London Eye — a giant Ferris wheel that has changed the city’s skyline — and the skyscraper at 30 St. Mary Axe, commonly called the Gherkin.

A LASTING IMPRESSION

This year’s Olympics are also going to leave their mark on the city. Part of the reason London was chosen to host the games for an unprecedented third time is that the city planned for how the Olympic Village and city infrastructure would improve life for London’s residents and visitors for many decades to come.

Apartments built to house the athletes, for example, will become affordable housing for low-income residents of London, and the city’s famous subway system — commonly called the “tube” or the “underground” — is being upgraded to deal with increased traffic loads both during and after the Olympics.

Kearny Little League All-Stars march on in District 5 tourney

Photo by Jim Hague/ Ryan Watson delivers a pitch during Kearny Little League’s win over Lyndhurst last Saturday in the District 5 tournament in Wood-Ridge. Kearny won its first seven games in the tournament and looms as a favorite to win the district crown.

 

By Jim Hague 

In years past, the Kearny Little League 11-and-12- year-old All-Star team wouldn’t exactly fare well when the time came for the District tournament.

However, things changed for the better a year ago, when Kearny advanced all the way to the District 5 title game before falling to Lyndhurst American.

This year, the Kearny All- Stars are doing even better, enjoying their best postseason run in recent memory.

The kids from Kearny won their first seven games in pool play, including a clutch 4-3 victory over Lyndhurst in the semifinals last Saturday morning in Wood-Ridge to advance to the winners’ bracket.

They are slated to face Rutherford American in the next round of the District 5 semifinals Tuesday with a chance to secure the District 5 championship.

Needless to say, Kearny’s success has pleased head coach Frank Goresh.

“We felt we had a good team,” Goresh said. “We had a lot of kids back from last year and they’re bigger, stronger and faster. We’re also deeper in pitching than we’ve ever been. We have a good group of kids, kids that are very dedicated. Before we started practice, we told the kids that we needed 100 percent commitment from them. We couldn’t afford to have kids going down the shore. They’ve been very committed and there every day.”

Goresh said that it’s not easy for an All-Star team to find the right chemistry.

“We have about a week to put the team together, then we need them to jell as a team,” Goresh said. “I’m very impressed the way they’ve come together. I was hoping to win four or five games in pool play and then maybe be ready for the playoffs. So I am definitely surprised with how well they’re playing. I never thought that we could get to this point. I hope it goes on longer. You never know.”

Goresh believes that there is a lot of talent on this Kearny Little League All-Star team.

“We’re proving that baseball is coming back around in Kearny,” Goresh said. “Sure, Kearny is a big soccer town, but we want to bring baseball back as well. These kids are a little hungry after falling a little short last year. They still have a great chance. The sky’s the limit and they realize it.”

Kearny’s pitching staff is deep and talented. Ryan Watson, who led Rick’s Auto Body to the Kearny Little League championship, is a mainstay on the mound and was the starting pitcher in Saturday’s win over Lyndhurst.

“He’s a big, strong kid who throws hard,” Goresh said.

Ryan Tully and Brendan Thiele are also quality pitchers who have done extremely well in the District 5 tourney.

“Our main top three pitchers have done very well, but we have three or four others who could pitch if we needed them,” Goresh said.

Travis Witt is the rock-solid backstop who handles the deep pitching staff.

“The great thing about having Travis catch is that he caught Ryan all year on Rick’s,” Goresh said. “He knows what Ryan throws and he’s used to having Ryan throw hard.”

Witt has a tremendous future as a catcher.

Luis Alfieri is the first baseman when Watson is on the mound. The two were teammates for Rick’s Auto Body and combined to hit an astounding 24 homers this season.

Pat Dunne is a slick-fielding second baseman who has shown a lot of pop in his bat. Dunne had three hits Saturday, including a long double off the wall. Dunne is also an 11-yearold, so he will return to Little League next year.

“You might think an 11-yearold might not be as successful, but Pat is hitting the ball hard and putting the ball in play,” Goresh said. “He’s also playing a great second base.”

Thiele is the rock-steady shortstop who makes the tough play look like a breeze. Thiele has also been hitting the ball well in the tourney.

Photo by Jim Hague/ Brendan Thiele is a standout at shortstop and pitcher for the Kearny Little League All-Stars, competing in the District 5 tournament in Wood-Ridge.

 

Tully has been the regular third baseman, but he’s been moved from third to second to the outfield. The outfield has been anchored by Tyler Whaley in centerfield, who has delivered his fair share of clutch hits throughout the tourney.

“He’s come up big for us,” Goresh said. “I can’t say enough about how big Tyler has been.”

Whaley and Alfieri are also left-handed pitchers, giving the team a huge advantage.

Joe Millroy and Seamus Kane are starting outfielders, with C.J. McBride and Artie Smith, both 11-year-olds, coming off the bench. Smith just missed a homer on Saturday, blasting a double off the top of the fence that missed going out by about two feet.

John Lawless is another first baseman and Tom McAndrew sees time at third base.

The team is coached by Dan Watson and Tony Ignerillo.

Needless to say, the Kearny Little League team has already exceeded expectations _ and sits on the throes of a District championship.

“It’s been great to see,” Goresh said. “We’re having a great time. The kids are having a lot of fun during games and at practices. It’s all about the kids having fun. Sure, we want to win like anyone else. But it’s more than winning and losing. It’s about having fun.”

Bringing home a District 5 tournament banner would only add to the fun, for sure.

Tax law changes, and explanations, for 2012

 

By Randy Neumann

Forewarned is forearmed. Here is some information, explanations and, hopefully, a few good ideas that you can use regarding tax law changes. Let’s begin at the end – estate law changes for 2012. For those who remember, Congress made a circus of the estate tax in 2010 when the sunset provision of the law really “sunseted” for many months allowing some “lucky” people to die without paying an estate tax. Among those lucky folks (or should I say, their families) was George Steinbrenner (I loved the way my buddy Bill Gallo cartooned him with a World War I German helmet in the New York News). His family saved in the neighborhood of $500 million in estate taxes according to the AP.

Well, Congress finally got its act together and by year-end passed The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act (TRUIRJCA or “TRA 2010” for short), which created the estate tax law that is good till the end of this year. The estate tax, gift tax and generation-skipping transfer tax exemptions have been indexed for inflation for the 2012 tax year such that each will be increased from $5 million to $5.12 million beginning Jan. 1, 2012.

However, more important is the “portability” of the federal estate tax exemption for married couples. Prior to 2009, married couples had to set up a testamentary trust, which required a complex will, to maximize the exemption.

A simple will leaves everything to the survivor and makes the government happy. If John and Mary have a $10 million estate and John dies with a simple will, the government gets $5 million (or more) at Mary’s death. This is because John “wasted” his marital deduction.

A better plan uses a complex will that sets up a trust at John’s death into which he can transfer his $5 million exemption, usually for the benefit of his spouse until she dies. Since this money was not directly given to his spouse, it is not in her estate at her death and she still has a $5 million exemption of her own.

TRA 2010 eliminates the need for AB Trust planning or ABC Trust planning for federal estate taxes. It allows married couples to add any unused portion of the estate tax exemption of the first spouse to die to the surviving spouse’s estate tax exemption. This will effectively allow married couples to pass $10 million to their heirs free from federal estate taxes with absolutely no planning at all.

However, please note that the surviving spouse must file IRS Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation- Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, in order to take advantage of the deceased spouse’s unused estate tax exemption. Aside from this, as it now stands, portability is only available for deaths that occur during the 2011 and 2012 tax years. In addition, without AB Trust planning or ABC Trust planning, state estate taxes may be due in states that collect them.

So, be sure to consult with a qualified estate planning attorney because of these recent changes.

Moving on to qualified retirement plans; there are some small changes to plan contributions. 401(k), 403(b) and 457 plan annual contribution limits rise slightly to $17,000, and you can contribute an additional $5,500 to these accounts if you are 50 or older this year. IRA contribution levels are unchanged from 2011: The ceiling is $5,000, $6,000 if you will be 50 or older in 2012.

As you strive to contribute as much as you comfortably can to these accounts this year, you will probably notice some changes with the retirement plan at your workplace. In 2012, retirement plan sponsors (i.e., employers) will have to note all of the fees and expenses linked to a 401(k), (403(b), etc. You may notice some differences in the disclosures on your statements and you will probably notice more information coming your way regarding fees. There is also a push in Washington, D.C. to have financial companies provide lifetime income illustrations on retirement plan account statements, and projections of your expected monthly benefit at retirement age.

Looking at income taxes, higher earners are set to face greater income tax burdens in 2013, so 2012 may be the last year to take advantage of certain options. For example, the top tax bracket in 2013 is slated to be at 39.6 percent instead of the current 35 percent. This year, capital gains and dividends will be taxed at 15 percent or less for everyone, 0 percent for those in the 10 percent and 15 percent tax brackets. In 2013, the qualified capital gains tax rate is scheduled to rise to 20 percent and qualified dividends will be taxed as ordinary income. Therefore, taking more income in 2012 could be a good idea.

However, all of this may change based on the election in November, so stay tuned!

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for the individual. This should not be considered tax advice for any individual. Neither Randy Neumann nor LPL Financial offers tax advice or services. Please consult your tax advisor regarding your specific situation.

Obituaries

David W. Bishop

David W. Bishop died June 30 at home. He was 75. Born in Yonkers, N.Y., he lived many years in Kearny before moving to Mt. Bethel, Pa., two years ago.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral service was held in the West Hudson Christian Center, Kearny, with interment in Arlington Cemetery, Kearny. To leave online condolence, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com

David served in The Army from 1959-61 and is a retired postal worker. He was a past president, sexton and deacon of Calvary Methodist Church, Kearny.

Husband of the late Johanna (nee Blair), he is survived by his children David, John, James, Isabella, Joshua, Kathryn, Christine and Daniel Bishop, Carolyn Callaghan and Laura Pavelco. Brother of Dorothy Essert, he is also survived by 13 grandchildren. He was predeceased by his son Alexander.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to VNA Hospice of Monroe County, Pa.

Ann Cyckowski

Ann Cyckowski, of Harrison, died on July 4 at Madison Center Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Matawan after a 12-week illness. Born in Odense, Denmark, Ann lived in Harrison for the last 50 years.

She worked as a bank teller for many years for various banks in the Harrison area. In her free time, she enjoyed gardening, reading and traveling. She was a very loving grandmother.

Predeceased by her husband Stanley (2009) and her granddaughter Tracy Rangel (2011) Ann is survived by her loving children, Lillian Rangel of Sugarloaf, Pa. and Steven Cyckowski and his wife Diane of Old Bridge. She is also survived by cherished grandchildren, David Rangel, and Patrick, Daniel, Erin and Conor Cyckowski. She was a loving aunt to many nieces and nephews and an adored sister in law.

Funeral services were under the direction of the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison. A funeral service was held on Monday in the funeral home. Entombment was held in Holy Cross Chapel Mausoleum, North Arlington. For information or to send condolences to the family, please visit mulliganfuneralhome.org.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure, Attn: Donor Services, P.O. Box 650309 Dallas, Texas 75265 in loving memory of Ann.

Tyler Donnelly

Tyler Donnelly, son of Sally (Garbiras) and the late Daniel died on June 22. He was 32. Born in Plainfield, he lived in Kearny.

Private arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home.

To leave an online, condolence please visit www.armitagewiggins.com

Betsy M. Duncan

Betsy Duncan, 91, died on June 30 in Southern Ocean Genesis Elder Care Center in Stafford Township.

A private graveside service was held in Arlington Cemetery, Kearny on July 3.

Miss Duncan was born in Kearny and was a lifelong resident.

She was a secretary at the Wilbur B. Driver Company in Harrison for many years.

Betsy is survived by her nieces Carol Beckmann (William) and Nancy Carpenter (Gary).

Manuel Frade

Manuel Frade, 76, of Harrison, entered eternal rest on July 1.

Beloved husband of Dulcinia (nee Loureiro); devoted father of Carlos and his wife Maria, John (João) and his wife Judith and Daniel and his wife Tanja; cherished grandfather of Athena, Isabel, Sofia, Julien and Joshua; dear brother of João, Diamantino, José, and Carlos.

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

Manuel was born in Seixo, Portugal, and emigrated to the U.S. and Harrison in 1968. He lived in Harrison for the last 44 years. Employed by Pechter’s Baking Co. as the most senior baker for 30 years retiring in 1998. He was very active in Holy Cross Church. One of the founders of Our Lady of Fatima Society and very instrumental in the church establishing a Portuguese language Mass. He was very kind, supportive and helpful to his family and many in the community. Outside of his children and grandchildren, and being the most devoted of husbands, one of his proudest pursuits was his exceptional talent for gardening.

Patrick Gilmartin

Patrick G. Gilmartin, 65, died on Tuesday, July 3,in the Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville.

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

Patrick was born in Glasgow, Scotland and immigrated to this country in 1982. He has lived in Kearny for the last 30 years.

Mr. Gilmartin was a boiler operator employed by the state of New Jersey for several years. He retired in 2011.

He was a member of the Scots – American Athletic Club and the Irish American Club both of Kearny.

Patrick is survived by his wife Elenor (Sweeten); children Lorraine Blevins (John), Ian Gilmartin (Nicole) and his three grandchildren Sean and Brooke Blevins and Ella Catherine Gilmartin.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital 501 St. Jude Place Memphis, TN 38105 or at www.stjude.org.

Sebastiana Green

Sebastiana “Anna” Green died on July 3 at Select Specialty Hospital in Rochelle Park. She was 95.

Born in New York City, she lived in Brooklyn, N.Y., before moving to Kearny 50 years ago. Anna was a homemaker.

She was married to the late William F. Green Sr., mother of Gaetano “Thomas” Green, Ronald Green and the late William Green, mother-in-law of Caroline and Patricia Green, grandmother of eight and great-grandmother of 17.

A funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Stephen’s Church. Interment was in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.

Mieczyslaw “Matthew” Kurasz

Mieczyslaw “Matthew” Kurasz died July 1 in St. Michael’s Medical Center, Newark. He was 57. Born in Poland, he now lives in East Newark.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny, in Our Lady of Czestochowa, in Harrison, followed by interment in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.

Matt owned Kurasz Construction for the past 30 years. He is survived by his wife Patricia (Wojtalewski) and his mother Janina (Rodchenko), his daughters Lisa and Jennifer and his son Justin. Brother of Stanley Kurasz, Mary Sochaczewski and he late Ziggy, Marion and Andrew Kurasz.

Grover A. McCrea

 

Grover A. McCrea, 70, of Kearny, entered into eternal rest on Friday, July 6.

Born in Newark, he lived most of his life in Kearny.

He was a police officer for 26 years in the Newark Police Department. Upon his retirement he worked part time at the Midtown Pharmacy in Kearny. In his spare time, he was an avid bowler. He was a regular at the North Arlington Bowl-ODrome for the last 40 years. He was a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge # 12, Newark. Grover served his country in the United States Army during the Vietnam War from 1964 to 1968.

Predeceased by his parents, Grover A. and Mary McCrea (nee Byrne) he is survived by his beloved wife of 43 years Patricia (nee Kulish), a loving son, Kevin, dear siblings, Charles McCrea and his wife Josephine, Mary Fortner and Pat Hartman and her husband Ted. Grover is also survived by many nieces nephews and cousins.

Arrangements were by the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison. A funeral mass was held at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Kearny. For information or to send condolences to the family please visit mulliganfuneralhome.org.

Please Omit Flowers. The family kindly requests donations to The Lustgarten Foundation, 1111 Stewart Ave., Bethpage, New York 11714 in loving memory of Grover.

Helen Theresa Restaino

Helen T. Restaino (nee Doherty) passed away at the Tidewell Hospice in Bradenton, Fla. on May 29.

Helen was the daughter of the late Peter and Adelaide (nee Holand) Doherty. She was born and raised in North Arlington on Dec. 3, 1916 and graduated from Queen of Peace High School in 1935. Her brother Frank (Sam) Doherty was in the first graduating class in 1934.

Helen went to work as a secretary for the Fireman’s Fund in Newark and later on as an office worker for the Newark Evening News. She retired from the Howard Savings Bank where she worked for over 20 years. Helen moved to Bradenton, Fla. in 1983 to be with her family in her retirement years.

Helen was predeceased by her first husband Harry T. Watson and her second husband Nicholas Restaino in 1993. She was the last member of the Doherty clan outliving her four brothers Peter, Daniel, William and Francis (Sam) Doherty and her sisters Mae Flavell and Ethel Nash. Helen leaves to cherish her loving memory: her two sons Henry J. Watson of Kearny and Robert J. Watson of Sarasota, Fla., and his wife Marilyn (Keena) Watson. She also leaves her beautiful grandchildren Denise, Kevin who passed away in 2011, Michael, Robbie and Martin and her four great-grandchildren Travis, Cody, Emily and Olivia and one great-great-grandson Michael.

Funeral arrangements were by Toale Brothers Funeral Home, Sarasota, Fla. A service was held at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church, Sarasota, Fla., where Helen was a parishioner for over 30 years. Interment was at Palms Memorial Cemetery, Sarasota, Fla. A donation to Helen’s favorite charity would be greatly appreciated: Southeastern Guide Dogs, 4210 77th St. East, Palmetto, Fla., 34221-9270.

Marili Soares

Marili Soares died on July 2 during a visit to her family from Brasil. She was 65.

A memorial service was held in the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. To leave an online, condolence please visit www.armitagewiggins.com

She is survived by her children Sandro Soares and Alessandra Lima, two sisters one brother and four grandchildren.

Mary L. Thrash

Mary L. Thrash died on July 5. She was 99. Born in Pennsylvania, she lived many years in Kearny.

Private arrangements were under the supervision of the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home.

She is survived by her sons Richard E. and Robert W. (Debra) Thrash, her sister Ann Karkut and two grandsons Gregory and Douglas.

LOCAL POWERHOUSE ROCHE CLOSES NUTLEY OFFICE

PHOTOS BY JEFF BAHR/ ROCHE’S CLOSING WILL ELIMINATE 1,000 JOBS.

 

By Jeff Bahr

At a time when municipalities struggle to hang on to every job that they can, Swiss pharmaceutical giant, Roche, a commercial fixture in Nutley for more than 80 years, has announced its intention to close its research and development site in Nutley – an unfortunate development that will result in the loss of 1,000 jobs, or some 5% of its U.S. workforce.

All research and development activities will be “consolidated in Switzerland and Germany,” according to a Roche press release. The company plans to remediate the 127-acre property and then sell it off by 2015. A diagnostic facility in Branchburg will remain unaffected by the move.

The company that gave the world such groundbreaking drugs as Valium and Interferon has been moving on uncertain ground for some time now, according to Roche Chief Executive Officer Severin Schwan. Plummeting drug prices and continuing product setbacks have beleaguered the firm in recent years. A 2010 cost cutting plan cut 4,800 jobs from its workforce.

Despite such challenges the company still managed to forge ahead. In August 2011 it received approval from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for Zelboraf, a drug designed to combat late stage melanoma.

In a media statement, Schwan highlighted the positive happenings that have occurred at Roche, even as the company has been forced to downsize.

“Our R&D programs were exceptionally successful over the last 18 months, with 24 out of 28 late-stage clinical trials delivering positive results,” said the CEO. “The overall number of programs in clinical development has grown substantially. The planned consolidation of our research and early development organization and the refocusing of R&D activities in Switzerland and Germany will free up resources that we can invest in these promising clinical programs while also increasing our overall efficiency.”

Speaking to the net effect that the Nutley closure will have on workers suddenly left without jobs, Schwan sounded upbeat but stopped short of issuing a definitive plan. “In its 80-year history, our Nutley site has made significant contributions to Roche’s success,” said Schwan. “We will do everything we can to find socially responsible solutions for the employees affected by these changes.”

As Nutley’s single largest taxpayer the planned move has triggered concern throughout the community, and prompted its share of speculation. Nutley Mayor Alphonse Petracco said that Roche pays some $9 million in annual property taxes – a sizable sum by any yardstick. The company, according to Petracco, employs fewer than 100 Nutley residents.

Nutley Commissioner Steven Rogers voiced concerns over certain statements that have been made since Roche announced its closure – particularly by politicians and others who live outside of the township.

“I am making reference to some comments made by Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-36th) when he apparently suggested on ABC news that services, in particular the fire department, would be the first to go,” said Rogers.

“This is an irresponsible statement that serves no purpose but to stir up fear and anxiety. The Nutley Board of Commissioners have this matter well in hand. The collective talents and skills that the Nutley Commissioners bring to the table will see us through this difficult time by working in partnership with state and county officials.” Rogers conceded that the closure – which he learned about just an hour before the formal announcement was made – is “no small thing,” but remained optimistic about the situation. “It’s up to us to address this in a very prudent way,” he said. “Americans are resilient – we know how to bounce back. And that’s especially true in Nutley.”

The move signals the end of a corporate era that began in 1929 when Hoffman–LaRoche (the firm’s incorporated name) installed their U.S. headquarters at 340 Kingsland St, Nutley.

Through the years the company has grown and contracted. The 15-story-tall Building # 76, located beside Rt. 3 in full view of commuters making their way to Manhattan, became something of a billboard for the prospering company during the 1960s with the name “Hoffman–LaRoche” prominently displayed on its east and west-facing walls. But a rash of economic side effects lay on the horizon. In 2001, the company laid off 3,000 workers worldwide, with 300 coming from its Nutley plant. In 2010, an additional 4,800 were let go worldwide.

With the Nutley closure, Roche joins the ranks of other major pharmaceutical manufacturers such as Novartis and Schering-Plough who, due to economic hardships have reduced their New Jersey operations or eliminated them altogether.

Upper ranks in fire dept. take a hit

By Anthony J. Machcinski 

The Town of Kearny won significant givebacks from the Kearny Fire Superior Officers Association, FMBA Local 218, in a newly concluded labor contract.

The deal was announced at the Town Hall meeting on June 26, just before the old contract was set to expire.

The contract will run for three and a half years, expiring on Dec. 31, 2015. This was done in order to get the contract to expire on a calendar year instead of a fiscal year to coincide with the town’s budget. Both sides managed to settle on new terms without having to call in a third party, such as an arbitrator.

“It’s always better to have an agreement because both parties are controlling their destiny,” Kearny Fire Chief Steven Dyl said. “Arbitration usually ends up with bad feelings, so I’m glad they were able to reach an agreement that people can live with.

If an arbitrator is ruling, it’s someone who knows nothing about Kearny and its decisions that we have to live with.”

Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos also added, “I think it’s a fair settlement and it achieves most of our goals. I want to acknowledge those who were key in the negotiations and attorneys from both sides. They were critical in receiving this result.”

One positive outcome to result from the new contract is the ability for the department to keep its core services without sacrificing too much pay, town officials said. The contract, which will impact new hires, will change the salaries and the length of time to reach those salaries. Increases over the length of the contract would be 0% in year one, .75% in year two, 1.5% in year three, and .5% in the final six months. The increase would total $288,990 cumulatively over the life of the contract.

Along with those increases, the contract also increases the amount of steps it takes to reach maximum salary and reduces the amount of pay. The revised pay scales are as follows:

Captains:

• Old contract- 6 step plan: $108,000 in year one to $138,000 in year six.

• New contract- 11-step plan: $103,600 in year one to $121,021 in year 11. Deputy

Chiefs:

• Old contract- 6 step plan: $142,000 in year one to $177,659 in year six.

• New contract-10 step plan: $124,718 in year one to $142,526 in year 10.

The change in steps is critical to our goals with the town,” Kearny Councilwoman Eileen Eckel said at the meeting. “We want our department to provide the core services they provide. If we continued on our current salary guide, we could not do that.”

FMBA President Jeff Bruder said: “The town is able to continue to keep the current number of officers with less cost to them. We thought it was important to maintain the current staffing as well as the current amount of firefighters to provide protection to the public. We tried to reach numbers we both could work with.”

For a department that has been stripped down to the bone over the past few months, the new contract provides a ray of hope for the department’s future growth, Dyl said.

“(The new contract) will allow us to hopefully begin the rebuilding process and replace vacancies,” Dyl said.

The town still has to settle a new contract with the rank and file firefighters. Neither side would provide an update on those talks. Santos and the rest of the council met in a closed session after the public meeting in order to get an update on those negotiations.

Borough bids farewell to public school leader

Photo by Ron Leir/ Richard Corbett

 

EAST NEWARK –

The administrator of East Newark’s single public school is calling it quits.

Richard R. Corbett, 51, superintendent/ principal of the borough’s elementary school, has sent members of the East Newark Board of Education notice of his pending retirement, effective Aug. 31.

Corbett told The Observer he’s accepted an offer of employment from the Hardyston Township Board of Education in rural Sussex County, as chief school administrator, starting Sept. 1.

Although Hardyston, like East Newark, has no high school, it has nearly four times as many students – 780 – spread between a K-to-grade 5 elementary school and a grades 6-to-8 middle school, supported by an annual budget of about $12 million, as compared with East Newark’s $5 million outlay.

Corbett said he’s leaving reluctantly. “My heart is in East Newark,” he said. “It may sound trite but, in fact, over the past five years, the town has become like family to me. … I’ve had a very good relationship with the board and the mayor and have only the highest regard for both.”

However, he added, “I have to make a decision in the best interest of my family. After being here for five years, it’s actually a good time for me to consider other options, and for the district, also. We as a team – teachers, staff and students – here have accomplished a lot and now they’re in a good position to continue, to move on.”

Mayor Joseph Smith said that Corbett “has been doing an excellent job” and that while he’d have preferred to see him stay, “we can’t pay what the going rate is out there. … A lot of superintendents (in New Jersey) are retiring or leaving to go to Pennsylvania or New York. … It’s like ballplayers when they become free agents. I don’t blame anybody for trying to better themselves.”

Corbett, whose contract was up for renewal as of June 30, said the school board had offered him very generous terms: “a new five-year contract at $125,000 a year,” which, he said, is the most he could be paid for a district with East Newark’s enrollment as fixed by state Department of Education rules.

With Hardyston, Corbett will be making a bit more but he said “it’s not the salary at all” as to why he’s decided to go. “It’s a bigger district, with more responsibility so it makes sense for me to take this next step in my career as an educator,” he said.

Looking back on his tenure in East Newark, Corbett said that “perhaps my most significant accomplishment” was shifting the district’s approach “to a middle school model” by “departmentalizing” grades 6 to 8 – bringing in teachers with specialization in certain subject areas – which, he said, was “instrumental in improving academics.”

Other actions that he said he initiated to bolster the district’s performance level were upgrading technology “so that it’s now very much a part of our curriculum,” and working with teachers to develop “a climate of respect” within the school.

The result, Corbett said, is “a school that’s well run … with well-behaved students. We just negotiated a teachers’ contract this year; and this summer, we’re installing a new air-conditioning system in the school. I give all the credit in the world to the mayor and the school board for their efforts to update an outdated facility as much as possible.”

– Ron Leir

Ousted administrators can’t persuade school trustees to change their fate

Photo by Ron Leir/ As Interim Supt. Ronald Bolandi takes notes, Cynthia Baumgartner defends her record as high school principal.

 

By Ron Leir 

KEARNY –

Two Kearny public school administrators whose contracts weren’t renewed asked their employers to reappoint them last week but were, instead, turned aside for a second time, as supporters loudly registered their displeasure.

Cynthia Baumgartner, whose appointment as Kearny High School principal expired June 30, and Martin Hoff, whose job as Franklin Elementary School vice principal, also came to an end June 30, were afforded an opportunity last Tuesday to explain why the board should reconsider its April 30 vote denying them reappointment, despite favorable recommendations by Interim Supt. Ronald Bolandi. Five votes were needed for reappointment but each came up short.

Both addressed the board in public after waiving their right to confidentiality and William Gossen, counsel to the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, also spoke on their behalf.

At the April 30 meeting, board members who opposed their reappointments or who simply didn’t vote gave no reasons for their actions but later, upon written request by Baumgartner and Hoff, provided a “Statement of Reasons” through board counsel David Rubin.

For Baumgartner, those reasons were that during her one-year tenure as high school principal, there was “low morale” and “polarization” among her staff; a “lack of expected improvement in test scores”; need for a “professional improvement plan” to address “certain weaknesses”; “insufficient presence at school events”; and, finally, the district “can find a better candidate.”

As an overview, Baumgartner – using a slide projector to make points along the way – said that when she took the job, she “found the school in a time warp,” that “the staff taught the same curriculum over and over again,” and that “we had no rich data to analyze (standardized) test scores.” So, she said she created professional development teams to set up individualized learning plans for each student. “It was an arduous task because I had no tracking data but we were learning how to teach,” she said. But it was worth the effort, she said, because by the end of the year, the high school had achieved state-mandated “Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).”

On the morale issue, Baumgartner said that while “no grievances” were filed against her by staff, physical conditions in the high school not within her control could likely have disturbed the staff. Such things as the loss of 11 teachers’ parking spaces due to construction, a workplace that featured a “crumbling building,” an exterior “covered with scaffolding,” a “disgusting” women’s bathroom,” hallways “morose-looking,” utility lights “hanging from the ceiling,” plywood covering classroom windows, and construction drilling going on during school hours, and contractual inequities.

As for the test scores, Baumgartner credited her staff for doing a “kick-ass job” in raising HSPA scores by 13 points, “despite a national decline.” And AP scores were “up 24%,” she noted. “I don’t know what the board expected.”

If she needed to overcome “certain weaknesses,” as the board alleged, Baumgartner said that seems to fly in the face of her evaluation by the interim superintendent who praised her for raising the high school from failing to AYP, for trying to address the needs of students and staff during construction and who “strongly recommended” her “for any administrative position.”

As for failing to attend school events, Baumgartner said she not only devoted much of her time to such events, she “added” new ones “and I attended them.” Among them were the “Candlelight Vigil, Battle of the Classes and Mr. Kearny High.”

As for the board finding a “better candidate,” Baumgartner said that in a lengthy career as an educator, “I’ve raised test scores in five high schools in two districts,” gotten two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in educational leadership, served on College Board committees and “never had a negative evaluation.”

NJPSA counsel Nossen chided the board for ignoring the recommendation of the interim superintendent to reappoint Baumgartner. “Has the board really confined itself to (administering) policy and planning here?” he asked.

Members of the public also came to Baumgartner’s defense. Councilwoman Laura Pettigrew urged the board not to fault the principal for any “bad morale” among staff. Some people were upset, she said, because “the status quo changed.” That’s what happens, she added, “when someone shakes the tree.” And a parent noted that even after the board had voted not to renew her contract, Baumgartner still saw fit to participate in Project Graduation.

But when the vote to reconsider was taken, only four board members – James Doran, Bernadette McDonald, Lisa Anne Schalago and Sebastian Viscuso – voted “yes” – one short of the five votes needed. John Leadbeater, John Plaugic, Paul Castelli and board president George King voted “no.” Robert O’Malley, who abstained on April 30, was absent.

Hoff fared no better after delivering his impromptu pitch to the board which included a couple of key props – a thick folder of discipline cases he’s handled and a large chart he mapped out to solve a sticky class scheduling problem.

Hoff sought to refute the board’s “statement of reasons” for not renewing his contract which listed concerns about his “temperament and objectivity dealing with parents on discipline”; “insufficient confidence in his suitability for the job to merit granting lifetime tenure”; and “an overall sense that despite some strengths as an administrator … the district can find a better candidate.”

Hoff told the board he did his best to control discipline issues that cropped up during Franklin School’s lunch period. “We have 17 supervisors to watch 1,000 children,” he said. “That’s not enough.”

Hoff, a 28-year Kearny educator, said he went out of his way to track students suspected of living outside the district, even taking a bus to follow one youngster to what turned out to be his home in Newark.

“My heart is in Kearny,” Hoff said. “Many times I’ve put my job in front of my family.” And, he added, there was a recent summer family vacation he opted to forego to focus, instead, on a pressing school issue.

He spoke, with emotion, about a number of youngsters he’s dealt with for discipline problems “but a lot of them have turned it around,” he noted.

Several in the audience praised Hoff for his dedication to duty. Among them was 13-year school employee Veronica Doran, who said that Hoff “does walk the halls, he cares for these children. He’s a gentleman and a gentle giant.” He does the job “with respect and honor,” she said, “and it would be a tragedy to lose him.”

After saying she’d “never worked with two finer people” (Baumgartner and Hoff), retired 33-year teacher/curriculum director Deborah Lowry admonished the board for acting “like a runaway train” during the past year. “You don’t discuss (among yourselves). … You got elected and you take it with a cavalier attitude. … Do some soul-searching.”

Nonetheless, a reconsideration vote failed as Leadbeater, Castelli and King voted “no” while Viscuso, McDonald and Schalago voted “yes.” Doran and Plaugic didn’t vote because of confl ict of interest situations.

Afterwards, The Observer asked King about the public’s reaction. “You listen to the people and you vote what you think is right,” he said. “But I value their opinions.”

Baumgartner will likely move on to Harrison’s school district where she’s been hired as director of instruction while Hoff will probably exercise “bumping” rights to fine arts chairman at the high school.

In another personnel development, King told The Observer that the board’s search for a permanent superintendent of schools has been temporarily scratched now that the candidate on whom the board had settled has withdrawn, “citing personal, family reasons.” King said the board would readvertise for the post. The interim superintendent’s contract was recently extended an additional six months while the board continues its search.