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1.7B to clean Passaic’s lower 8 miles

  NEWARK – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last Friday, April 11, that it plans to undertake the most costly public waterway cleanup in its 43-year history. At a press conference held at Newark Riverfront Park, EPA Regional […]

Lost medal recovered from Pa.

  By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – For more than two decades, it sat – carefully preserved – in a Pennsylvania residence. Next month, however, the Purple Heart medal awarded posthumously to a long-dead Kearny serviceman will be returned […]

Feds won’t pay for more firefighters

Two neighboring West Hudson communities have been shut out in their bids to snag federal funding to hire more firefighters. Kearny Fire Dept. and Harrison Fire Dept. each applied for a share of SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency […]

Tribute to a teacher

  By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – Fred Kuhrt died doing what he loved best – giving of himself to others. His former employer, the Kearny Board of Education, is honoring the automotive technology instructor’s selflessness by establishing the […]

Play ball! (and politics, too)

  By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent NORTH ARLINGTON – Saturday’s opening ceremony for the North Arlington Recreation Girls’ Softball season took on a political twist. Mayor Peter Massa, a Democrat, complained that he was snubbed by League President Mike Tetto […]

News in brief

HARRISON – Harrison Mayor James Fife, 73, is spending time in St. Michael’s Medical Center, Newark, where he is recovering from surgery. The hospital declined to provide any information but Councilman James Doran, who is serving as Fife’s campaign manager […]


9/11 fund hearing in Hudson



By Karen Zautyk

Sheila Birnbaum, special master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, will hold a town hall forum in Jersey City this Thursday evening, July 28, to address the concerns of potential claimants and the general public.
The program is scheduled from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Jersey City City Hall, 280 Grove St.
In a statement announcing a series of forums – others scheduled are in Queens and on Long Island – Birnbaum noted that her goal is for the fund “to be fair, transparent, and easy to navigate.” At the town halls, she is to discuss the proposed rules covering compensation and take questions from the public.
“I look forward to speaking with you at these events,” she stated, “so that I can  hear your thoughts, answer as many questions as I can, and make the best decisions possible to refine the regulations and administer the program.”

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

E. Orange man slain in Belleville

A  54-year-old East Orange man was fatally shot in his car on a residential street in Belleville last week, authorities reported.
According to Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray and Belleville Police Chief Joseph Rotonda, it appears that the victim, identified as Reginal Laloi was killed at approximately 10:30 p.m. Monday, July 19, as he sat in his Volkswagen Jetta on Clearman Place, near the intersection of Hornblower Ave.
The  quiet neighborhood is just three blocks west of the town’s busy Washington Ave.
Laloi was pronounced dead at the scene, but the official cause of death will be determined by an autopsy Murray’s office said.
The Prosecutor’s Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force and the Belleville police were actively investigating, and at press time, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Fennelly told The Observer that the investigation was ongoing.

– Karen Zautyk


To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

Fire was minimal, fear was not

By Karen Zautyk

A fire at a local scrap yard last week was quickly brought under control, but it’s a good bet that neighbors’ rattled nerves took far longer to recover.
According to Harrison Fire Chief Tom Dolaghan, the blaze was ignited about 9:55 a.m. last Tuesday, July 19, as a worker at the Rover & Son scrap metal yard, 516 Central Ave., was using a cutting tool on a junked pickup truck. “There must have been some gas left in the tank,” Dolaghan said, because the truck exploded.
Incredibly, the worker escaped injury, but the blast shook nearby homes and could be heard for blocks. Dolaghan said he was driving about two blocks from the yard, which is between N. 5th St. and Davis Ave., when the explosion occurred. He headed straight for the site and took command.
After the initial blast, the flames spread to piles of tires, the chief said. “The subsequent explosions people heard were the tires blowing up,” he explained.
Two engine companies from Harrison, a ladder truck from East Newark, and an engine and a ladder company from Kearny responded to the scene.

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

Family business still booming

Photo courtesy of Governor's office/ From l., CEO James L. Lazarus; Ralph DeVito, production manager; Carmen Distano, purchasing manager; Robert Lazarus, president, and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno inspect ultrasonic cleaning machines.



By Karen Zautyk

Back in the early part of the 20th century, Max Lazarus, a jeweler in Macon, Ga., with the assistance of another local businessman, invented a machine for cleaning mechanical watch parts.
This was fairly revolutionary because, until then, watches had to be cleaned by hand, with each of the hundreds of moving parts removed from the timepiece, laid out on a swath of leather, cleaned and then reassembled.
Seeking new economic opportunities, Lazarus eventually moved north and with his son, Max Jr., opened a watch-cleaning business on Clay St. in Newark.
“Business was booming, and they needed a larger place,“ said James Lazarus, grandson of the founder. That place they found at 577 Elm St. in Kearny, where the company, L&R manufacturing, has been located for 60 years.
L&R actually has four buildings in town, three on Elm and one on John Hay Ave., off Schuyler. Today it serves a global market, producing ultrasonic cleaning systems, solutions and accessories for surgical and dental instruments, military weapons, first-responder breathing apparatus, and various sophisticated industrial applications.
And, yes, watches and jewelry.

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

Something to cheer about

Members of the Kearny Generals Cheerleading squad took division title at ECA National Championships in Williamsburg, Va.


By James A. Vezos

While being in competition for only five years, the Kearny Generals Cheering squad exploded into a program that not only showcased their potential but also their desire to be the best. The Eastern Cheer Association (ECA) National Championships in Virginia is where they left their biggest mark, taking first place.
Under the direction of Justine Esteves, Jamie Guedes, and Joel Nunez, Kearny Generals Cheering first made a huge name for themselves by sweeping the boards in competitions in and around the State of New Jersey.
The mix tape they danced to accurately defines the group and how they evolved. The tape included the songs, “Dynamite” and “All I Do Is Win.”   Although finishing in second place in Bayonne, Kenilworth, and West New York, the squad was victorious in Hopatcong, Lyndhurst, Woodridge and Garfield where they were named Grand Champions for this year.
In the biggest competition of their year, the National Championships, held in Williamsburg this spring,  they were able to score of 316 out of 400 in the Sr. Rec Level 4 Division. Stunning the crowd with high-flying acrobats and extreme precision dancing, the squad finally felt that their hard work had paid off.
When they first started to compete, they did not expect the program to mold into such a finely tuned machine.

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

N.A. cop contract sent back to arbitrator

The state Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) has ruled in the borough’s favor on an appeal of an arbitration decision on a new police union contract, borough officials announced last week.
According to a press release issued by North Arlington, the seven-member PERC panel voted July 19 to vacate the interest arbitration award issued June 13 and to remand the matter to the arbitrator, who has 45 days to reconsider his award. The vote was 5-0 (with two abstentions).
Although the June decision was favorable to the borough,  the Borough Council appealed, alleging  the ruling had been based on fraudulent information submitted to arbitrator Frank A. Mason by the police union about Police Chief Louis Ghione’s contract.

– Karen Zautyk

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

3 more towns check in for Night Out Against Crime

Cops man information table at 2010 event in Harrison.


Bloomfield, Harrison and East Newark are among the local communities that will join more than 15,000 others across the United States next Tuesday, Aug. 2, for the 28th annual National Night Out Against Crime program.
The event, sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW), is also marked in Canada and in U.S. territories and military bases around the world. In 2010, an  estimated 37 million people participated.
Each town picks its own way to take part in the project, which is designed, among other goals, to garner support for local anti-crime programs, strengthen police-community partnerships and send a message that neighborhoods are united against crime and criminals.

– Karen Zautyk

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

A Word with the Publisher: ‘Emails and Texting’

By Lisa Pezzolla

Technology has taken us to a new level of personal communication and how we conduct business.
We cannot just say kids are at fault communicating through gadgets; adults are worse. When couples are in a restaurant, for example, they’re not communicating with one another — they are busy on their phones surfing the web or texting.
In our line of work, technology has made it close to impossible to be without a smartphone.
The texting that goes back and forth is overwhelming and can be extremely confusing and is often misunderstood. I myself prefer to pick up the phone and get to the point but the person who is answering on the other end with tell you that so and so prefers text.
Are we all so busy that we can’t dedicate time to converse? I feel that texting takes more time and patience.  The same goes for email.
If something is so important to you, pick up the phone and tell the person you might otherwise email. I can’t tell you how many times I don’t receive an email or it gets automatically put into my junk mail.
If you’re wondering why I am writing this, I want you to know that I don’t walk around with my phone attached to my ear and that I shut my phone off at a certain hour. I get many emails each day and yours may be lost or in junk mail.
So if your call is important, call my office during work hours and talk to me or leave me a voice message that you sent an email.

’Scuse me while I kiss this guy

Today’s column is about mondegreens. These are not vegetables. “Mondegreen” is the term for a misheard lyric.
The other day, I bought a CD of  ’60s hits and found myself singing along in the car with Percy Sledge: “When a maaaan loves a wal-nut . . . .”
I never actually thought that’s what Sledge was saying (I didn’t!).   But “When a Man Loves a Walnut” is the title of a favorite book, a hilarious collection of misheard lyrics compiled by author Gavin Edwards.
I used to have one of the book’s illustrations posted over my desk. It showed a covey of cute little owls upchucking on a mattress, this, to portray a mondegreen from “Help Me, Rhonda.”
What the Beach Boys sang was, “Well since she put me down, I’ve been out doin’ in my head….”
What some people heard was: “Well since she put me down, there’ve been owls pukin’ in my bed.”
Hey. I didn’t say the mondegreen had to make sense. Although some do.

On a website devoted to misheard lyrics,  www.kissthisguy.com, there’s a post from a Canadian woman who notes that her 4-year-old son thought their national anthem ended not with “Oh Canada, we stand on guard for thee,” but “Oh Canada, we stand on cars and freeze.”

Not that farfetched.
As for our own anthem, consider “. . . Pilgrims bursting in air.”
Then we have classic Dylan: “The ants are my friends, they’re blowin’ in the wind, the ants are a-blowin’ in the wind.”
Or Simon and Garfunkel: “Captain Picard’s on the New Jersey Turnpike.”
Patsy Cline: “I call for pizzas.”
Johnny Cash: “I’m stuck in a wholesome prison.”
Or U2, “Where the sheeps have lo mein.”
Titles can also be misheard.

I was in a NYC pub where someone asked that the band play Paul McCartney’s “Mulligan’s Tired.”
As for why “mondegreen,” here’s the story: The term dates to the 1950s and was coined in an essay by author Sylvia Wright, who told of how, as a child, she had misheard a line in an old Scottish ballad, “The Bonny Earl o’ Murray.”
The song begins:

Ye highlands and ye lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl o’ Murray,
And laid him on the green.
She thought it referred to a double murder: “They hae slain the Earl o’ Murray and Lady Mondegreen.”
Considering that the ballad is written partially in Scottish dialect, I’m surprised that’s all she misheard.

— Karen Zautyk

P.S. One free copy of The Observer to the first person (NOT from the Woodstock generation) who can identify the headline on this column. No googling!
P.P.S. On another matter entirely: During this sultry weather, please provide a dish of water for the wild birds. The poor things are hopping around with their beaks open. Birds get thirsty, too.

2 PDs seek higher rating

Police Departments in Lyndhurst and Nutley will be “graded” on their performance by the New Jersey Association of Chiefs of Police (NJSACOP).
A review team from NJSACOP visited the Lyndhurst Police Department on Sunday, to examine all aspects of its policies and procedures, management, operations and support services, Lyndhurst Police Chief James B. O’Connor said.
Said O’Connor: “The Lyndhurst Police Department embarked on a voluntary journey nearly two years ago to achieve professional excellence in law enforcement.
“During self-assessment, we have developed a system that will be examined by assessors from NJSACOP to determine compliance with the … ‘best practice’ standards to achieve accreditation.”
Members of the public were invited to call in comments to the assessment team this past Monday. The public may also submit comments in writing to: New Jersey Association of Chiefs of Police, Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission, One Greentree Center, Suite 201, Marlton, N.J. 08053.
A list of the 112 standards is available at the Lyndhurst Police Department, 367 Valley Brook Ave.

– Ron Leir

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.