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State: Distracted-driving incidents total 1.4 million

By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent The statistics are mind-boggling. From 2004 to 2013, 1.4 million motor vehicle accidents in New Jersey were linked to distracted driving. Repeat: 1.4 million. In New Jersey alone. From 2003 to 2012, more than 1,600 people were killed […]

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Moving day is coming

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – Even Steven Shalom, who has run Discount City in Kearny since 1992, concedes that sprucing up the Passaic Ave. mall with BJ’s Wholesale Club as a new anchor store, will be “a good […]

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Going out in style with Blue Ribbon

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent HARRISON – You could say Ron Shields’ career as a Harrison educator was preordained, given that both his parents taught at Harrison High School. His dad, Fred Shields, a 1936 soccer Olympian, was a physical […]

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For the sake of the Passaic

By Karen  Zautyk Observer Correspondent KEARNY– Plastic lawn chairs, propane tanks, wrought iron railings, pipes, dead shrubbery, pieces of street signs, and innumerable plastic shopping bags and plastic bottles — but no groundhogs. The groundhogs who burrow along the banks […]

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Nothing stops her

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent Harrison’s Blanca Alvarez was sick with the flu the morning of the big race. “But I decided to run anyway,” she said. Still, Alvarez had something to brag about: Her time of 1:08:44.96 was good […]

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Unsung heroes in our midst

  By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent HARRISON – The Harrison American Legion Post 282 salutes Joseph Moscinski as 2013 Firefighter of the Year and Corey Karas as Police Officer of the Year on April 26 at 4 p.m. at the […]

 

Getting a kick start on the upcoming season

Photo by Jim Hague/ The girls’ high school soccer season got a bit of a head start over the weekend, when teams from Nutley, Kearny and Queen of Peace got together for a tourney at Kearny High.

Three local girls’ soccer teams get together in Kearny

By Jim Hague

The scholastic fall sports schedules don’t officially begin for another month, but three local girls’ soccer teams got somewhat of a head start over the weekend, when they converged at Kearny High School to participate in a three-team round robin competition.
The teams from Kearny, Queen of Peace and Nutley participated in the two-day event, all playing each other once and getting two games in.
It wasn’t about winning and losing, but more a way for the teams to get a little sense of what to look for when the season kicks off in a few weeks.
“We have a lot of new girls,” said Queen of Peace head coach Mike Flynn. “We have five freshmen who are coming in. So it’s going to be a building year for us. This gives us a chance to let them play together and see what they can do, before we officially start. I think it’s a great opportunity for us, especially playing a team like Kearny. We’re not going to see a team like that during the regular season. It’s a good day to see what we have.”

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

Giving gifts to kids

By Randy Neumann

Do you have a child or a grandchild who owns an UGMA (Uniform Gift to Minors Act) or an UTMA (Uniform Transfer to Minors Act)?  If you do, you might want to review it.
Giving gifts to children is neither a novel nor a contemporary idea.  Back in 1956, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (a group that tries to get the states to make laws that are similar; after all, we are a Republic) proposed a law regarding gifts of securities (stocks and bonds) to minors.  Interestingly, the law was sponsored by the New York Stock Exchange and the Association of Stock Exchange Firms.  Later, the law was broadened to include gifts of money.
Giving gifts to children through UGMAs can have multiple benefits.  The child can see their assets grow, and some, but not all, of the taxes are paid at the child’s (usually lower) tax bracket.  However, there are drawbacks, as well.  Once you make a gift, it belongs to the child ­­– you can’t take it back.  Additionally, at the age of majority (which is 18 in New Jersey), the word that starts with a C, “college,” can change to another word that starts with a C, “Corvette.”
There also are estate-planning issues with UGMAs.  If you are the custodian of the trust, at your death the value of the UGMA becomes part of your estate because you retain the power to determine how your gift will be applied for the benefit of the child.  An easy fix for this is to name someone else as custodian.
Another potential problem is income tax.  It is your legal obligation to support your child (assuming you claim them as a dependent).  If you use the income from the UGMA to satisfy this obligation, the IRS can make a case that the income is taxable to you and not your child.
Also, if the child dies before receiving the account, the asset will pass according to state law, which may not be what you would want, especially if the child has siblings.  The way to solve this problem is to pay a few bucks and have a lawyer draw a trust with more flexibility than what is provided by UGMAs.
Lastly, if you are using an UGMA to fund a college education, don’t.
There are myriad reasons why 529 plans are better for funding college education than are UGMAs and UTMAs.  Let’s begin with student aid.  Most student-owned investments, e.g., UGMAs and UTMAs, must be reported on the federal aid application, the FAFSA, and are factored into the expected family contribution at the relatively high rate of 35%.
However, under recent changes in the financial aid laws, student-owned 529 plans are not reportable and have no impact on the child’s eligibility for federal aid.  And parent-owned assets, including 529 plans, are factored in for financial aid purposes on a sliding scale, with a maximum of 5.64%.
The next consideration is tax benefits.  I ran some numbers comparing a $10,000 investment in a 529 plan to that of an UGMA for a 1-year-old who would begin college at age 18.  The difference came out to be several thousand dollars.  Why the big difference?  Taxes.
The money in the UGMA is taxable annually, and the money in the 529, if used for higher education, is not.
So, if you want to trade in your clunker, UGMA, for a new model, a 529 plan, you will have to cash in the UGMA account because 529 plans cannot accept securities.  But take heart because, as Yogi Berra in his AFLAC commercial said, “Cash is just as good as money.”
Here are a couple of other housekeeping details you should know about.  The 529 will keep some of the attributes of the UGMA account.  The money still belongs to the child, not the custodian, and will be available to the child at the age of 18.

 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 is a registered representative with securities and insurance offered through LPL Financial.  Member FINRA/SIPC.  He can be reached at 12 Route 17N, Suite 115, Paramus, 201-291-9000.

Obituaries

Alice L. Moritz
Alice L. Moritz (nee McGrath), 85, died on Aug. 2 in Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville. Born in Scranton, Pa., she lived in Bloomfield before moving to Kearny 15 years ago. She was a machine operator for Ivers Lee in West Caldwell for 27 years.
Wife of the late Harold Gardner, she is survived by her children Stanley Andrews (Angie), Kathi Cruickshank (Bob) and Thomas Gardner; four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her sister Jean Trine.
Arrangements were by the Wilfred Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A service was held in the funeral home, followed by interment in Glendale Cemetery, Bloomfield.

Bogumil Henryk Przybylski
Bogumil Henryk Przybylski, 46, died on Aug. 4 at J.F.K Medical Center in Edison. Born in Trzcil, Poland, Bogumil immigrated to the United States 15 years ago.
He is predeceased by his father Zygmunt. He is survived by his mother Marianna and his loving wife Bozena; cherished daughter Magdalena and his siblings Dariusz, Zygmunt and Agnienszka.
Arrangements were by the Wilfred Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral Mass was held in Our Lady of Czestochowa Church in Harrison. Interment was in Holy Cross Cemetery.

Genevieve M. Sochor
Genevieve M. Sochor, 83, of Harrison, passed away on Tuesday, Aug. 2. Genevieve was a member of Our Lady of Czestochowa Rosary Society and a member of the Harrison Senior Citizens.
Genevieve is survived by her son John C. and his wife Anna L. Correia; her grandsons John G. Correia and his wife Giovanna and Shawn R. Correia; her great-grandson John R. Correia and great-granddaughter Taylor Correia. She was the youngest of nine children. She is also survived by a host of nieces, nephews and their families.                                                                                                                        Genevieve was predeceased by her husband Daniel.
Arrangements were made by Mulligan Funeral Home, Harrison. Funeral service was private. Entombment was at Holy Cross Chapel Mausoleum, North Arlington.

For information or to send condolences, please visit mulliganfuneralhome.org.
For those desiring, please make donations to your favorite charity in memory of Genevieve.

Soccer legends return to Harrison Courts

The Harrison team poses with soccer legends and Mayor Raymond McDonough (in back row) before facing the legends in a game at the Harrison Courts.

A place for Legends

By Jim Hague

Soccer Hall of Famer Tab Ramos stepped onto a place where he practically lived at as a youngster, namely the famed Harrison Courts, and was asked what it was like to be back home again.
“I can’t express in words what this is all about,” Ramos said. “I basically came back so I can get interviewed again and see my name in The Observer.”
Ramos winked at the reporter when he uttered the line to a host of other media personnel covering the return of Ramos and other soccer legends to the Harrison Courts last week.
The former Harrison and Kearny resident was there the night of July 25 participate in an exhibition soccer game, pitting a team of soccer legends against former and current standouts from Harrison High School at the site where thousands of young soccer players have played over the last 50 or so years.
The “Legends” game was part of the festivities that was held near Red Bull Arena as part of the Major League Soccer All-Star game that was played last Wednesday night.
It was the first time that the three men, Ramos, John Harkes and Tony Meola, who helped to give Kearny the moniker of “Soccertown, USA” were together at a soccer event in ages and it was all at a place where they played thousands of times as youngsters growing up.
“I grew up here,” said Ramos, who was the center midfielder on three United States World Cup teams (1990, 1994 and 1998) and was inducted into the Hall of Fame four years ago. “I went to school (Holy Cross) right across the street. I used to walk down the street and come here all the time. My parents never had to worry about where I was going. I was here on my own, looking for a game to play in. To come back here again is incredible.”

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

KUEZ as enterprising as ever

Photo by Karen Zautyk/KUEZ head John Peneda with one of the electronic kiosks that promote local businesses and provide public service information.

By Karen Zautyk

KEARNY –
When we think of the KUEZ these days, we think of Mark Twain, who famously said: “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
Despite being deprived of state money in the past fiscal year, the Kearny Urban Enterprise Zone is still chugging along. In fact, the street work you recently saw in progress along Kearny Ave. from Bergen to Quincy Aves. was being funded by the initiative, which has been in operation since January 1986.
But it is facing a fiscal crunch, and that could lead to a cutback in the community programs it sponsors, reports John Peneda, KUEZ department head.
We sat down with Peneda in the KUEZ offices in the Town Hall Annex to learn a bit more about the current challenges, which have their roots in the Christie administration’s decision to use UEZ money to deal with the state deficit.

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

KPD issues alert on auto break-ins

By Karen Zautyk

KEARNY -
This town has joined a number of communities in this area that have become the target of car burglars. Nutley was plagued by them in the spring, North Arlington had its share, and now Kearny is being hit.
In the last few weeks, “there have been a series of overnight car burglaries,” Police Chief John Dowie reported.
“There is no specific area or pattern,“ he told The Observer. “They’ve occurred from Hoyt St. to Stuyvesant Ave. and in between.”
It’s a crime of opportunity, and Kearny apparently offers a lot of opportunities.
Dowie advises residents to always lock their vehicles and to keep valuables out of sight. GPS units should not be visible when the car is unoccupied; better yet, remove the device when you leave the vehicle. That also goes for cell phones and other items, including clothing. Thieves are easily tempted.

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

Carlo, Ciroc & chaos on Bergen Ave.

By Karen Zautyk

KEARNY —
A dramatic auto accident in the early hours of July 24 led to the DWI arrest of the driver and, as described by a witness, “a chaotic scene” at the intersection of Bergen and Kearny Aves.
Luckily for that driver, who had to be extricated from his vehicle, the Kearny Fire Department was already in the area, answering a service call.
It was about 12:30 a.m., Police Chief John Dowie said, when Officers Ben Wuelfing and Joe Martin, stationed at the corner with the firefighters, heard a “loud crash” and then saw a car on Bergen about 75 feet west of Kearny Ave., facing east in the westbound lane.
One of the car’s tires was sitting on the sidewalk, and the vehicle, a 1980 Buick, had smashed into three parked autos on the north side of Bergen, Dowie said.

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

Teen theft suspect’s current event

By Karen Zautyk

KEARNY —
A Newark teenager, spotted in Kearny with a stolen motorcycle, tried to elude the law by jumping into the Passaic River, only to be swept away by the current, police reported.
The suspect was rescued by two civilian boaters and Kearny officers.
The saga began at 11:20 a.m., July 21, when Police Officer Michael Warren saw the 16-year-old pushing a red motorcycle down the steps of West Hudson Park and across Kearny Ave., Police Chief John Dowie reported.
Noting that the teen was not wearing a helmet, nor was there one with the bike, the officer approached him. Dowie said the youth dumped the bike on Kearny Ave. and fled on foot down Rose St., heading toward Belgrove Drive.
When spotted near the Exxon Station at Belgrove and Passaic Ave. by Det. Brian McGarry, the youth ran across Passaic and up the old railroad embankment, pursued by McGarry and Officer Frank West.

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

Farewell to the chief

Photo by Ron Leir/ Harrison Fire Chief Tom Dolaghan (l.) is retiring and Harold Stahl (r.) is replacing him as a civilian director.

 

By Ron Leir

HARRISON –  
Fire Chief Tom Dolaghan has hung up his fire helmet.
Dolaghan, 55, retired Aug. 1 after more than three decades of service with the Harrison Fire Department, the last nine years as chief of the department.
He is being replaced by a civilian, part-time fire director – Harold Stahl – a former director and chief of the Rahway Fire Department. Stahl was appointed by Mayor Ray McDonough to the 20-hour-a-week post last Monday, pending Town Council ratification.
McDonough said the state Department of Community Affairs, which has been monitoring Harrison’s personnel and fiscal operations for several years, is allowing the town to install Stahl as a “temporary, 90-day” appointee while it advertises for a permanent candidate.
McDonough said he sees Stahl as the ideal person for the job. “He’s got nearly 40 years as a fireman, he’s our emergency management services coordinator, he’s very active in our community and he’s a Harrison resident.”
The job will pay $30,000 a year with no benefits, McDonough said.

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

Good neighbor policy helps kids

Photo by Ron Leir/ East Newark School Superintendent/ Principal Richard Corbett anticipates improvements for the coming school year.

By Ron Leir

EAST NEWARK –
After a one-year interruption of the program, this borough’s sole public school will resume the education of pre-schoolers in September, courtesy of neighboring Harrison.
The school boards of East Newark and Harrison recently signed a shared services agreement that paves the way for Harrison to accept 15 East Newark children, ages 3 and 4, for full-day pre-school.
Harrison Schools Superintendent James Doran said that Harrison will assign those 15 youngsters to one of the five nonprofit child care centers to which the Harrison public school district sends its pre-school population.
Although those centers have had a full enrollment, Doran said that after hearing from East Newark Superintendent/Principal Richard Corbett that he was looking for space to accommodate kids from the borough, “we hired an additional teacher and aide to take on his 15 kids as a single class at one location.”
Doran added: “There was a need for East Newark to place these kids somewhere, and Harrison was the closest place available.”

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