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Tonight’s Nutley HS football game moved to Msgr. Owens Field

Due to weather conditions this week and the need to preserve the final stages of construction on the oval, tonight’s Nutley High School home football game has been moved to Monsignor Owens Field 44 Park Ave.,  at 7 p.m.  Admission to the game is […]


One dead in Lyndhurst shooting

The state Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team is investigating a fatal shooting of the driver of a stolen SUV at the Lyndhurst-Rutherford border early Tuesday, Sept. 16, according to a press release issued by the AG’s Office. The driver, identified […]


‘Sober House’ rattles residents

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent  KEARNY – The corner house at Grand Place and Stewart Ave. doesn’t really stand out in any particular way, but it’s drawn a lot of attention from neighbors – and not in a good way. Many packed the assembly chambers at […]


2nd hotel signals growth

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent  HARRISON –  The town of Harrison, with a current population of about 14,000 but growing thanks to several new residential projects rising in its waterfront redevelopment area, now has a second hotel. It is the Element Harrison, the brand’s second hotel in New […]


A harvest of plenty in special garden

By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent  HARRISON–  Somewhere in Harrison, there is a magical place. If we were telling this story as a fairy tale, it would begin: Once upon a time, there was a small plot of land on which a happy home had stood. […]



Lori A. McGuire
Lori A. McGuire, 56, died at home on Dec. 28. She was life-long resident of Kearny. Before retiring, Lori was a crossing guard for the Town of Kearny.
She is survived by her companion George Pongratz; her children Nicole Neubig (James), and Kayce McGuire; her sisters Ruth Forfar (Alexander), and Joan Magenheimer; also surviving are her nieces and nephews Jenn, Shannon, Jill, Joey, and Michael Lane, Jacky and B.J Josko.
Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass was at St. Stephen’s Church in Kearny, followed by a private cremation. Due to her loving care for children, in her honor, please make donations to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital www.stjude.org. Condolences may be left for the family on www.armitagewiggins.com.

Mark G. Wendaur
Mark G. Wendaur died suddenly on  Dec. 22 in the Meadowlands Medical Center. He was 62. Born in Jersey City, he lived most of his life in Kearny.
Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny.  A funeral Mass was in Queen of Peace Church, North Arlington. Internment was in Holy Cross Cemetery.
Mark was a field service engineer for Lexmark International out of New York City. He was a Boy Scout leader and loved geocaching, hiking and camping.
He is survived by his wife Mary Ann (Yuknalis) and his children Dan and Emily Wendaur. He was predeceased by his brothers Timothy and Kenneth.
In lieu of flowers, kindly make donations to the American Heart Association. To leave online condolence, visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Una McKeon
Una  (nee Flanagan) McKeon was born in County Roscommon, Ireland. She was one of nine children.
Arrangements were by Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral Mass was held in St. Cecilia’s Church.
At the age of 18, Una went to London during World War II and worked in the aircraft factories. She often spoke of how hard life was at that time. She returned to Ireland to marry Thomas P. McKeon and immigrated to Kearny  in 1952. They lived in Harrison for over 20 years and were active in numerous Irish clubs and Holy Cross Church. Una resided in Kearny for over 40 years, she was an active member of the St. Cecelia’s Parish as a daily communicant until she could not walk on her own. She was a member of Saints Rosary Society, St. Cecilia’s Seniors, St. Stephen’s Senior Clubs and Henrietta Benstead Senior Club. She was the deputy grand marshal of Kearny’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in 2001.
She enjoyed many cruises with her family and traveled extensively after retirement. Una also enjoyed many trips to Atlantic City with her good friend Loretta Elliot.
Una loved her family both in the U.S and Ireland. Her home was always a haven for oversea relatives from Ireland, England, Scotland, and Australia. Her small apartment was a stopping place for many young Irish college students during the summer who needed a place to stay. Una never turned anyone away and enjoyed helping her extended family.
Wife of the late Thomas P. McKeon, she is survived by her children Mary Teresa Elliott (Tom Grodkiewicz), Thomas Declan McKeon (Eileen) and Sean McKeon (Francisco Pacheco). Her sister and brother Baby Cooney and Bernie Flanagan and her grandchildren James, Brian (Tara), Kelly (Colin), Brendon and Trevor.
She was one of a kind and she will be missed. In lieu of flowers kindly make a donation to St. Cecilia’s Food Pantry. To leave online condolence visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Beatrice Shurr
Beatrice (Hinkley) Shurr, 76, died on Dec. 22 at her daughter’s home in North Arlington.
Arrangements were by Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral liturgy was offered at St. Stephen’s Church, Kearny, followed by interment at Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington. Condolences and memories can be shared at www.thiele-reid.com.
Bea was born in Jersey City and was a lifelong resident of Kearny.
She was employed as a service analyst in the Public Relations Department for Bell Atlantic in Newark for 27 years, retiring in 1998.
Mrs. Shurr was a member of Local 827 IBEW and the H.G. McCully Upstate Chapter 12 Telephone Pioneers as well as the treasure of the New Barbados Neck Chapter, NSDAR
She is survived by her children Mary K. Davitt (Craig), Barbara A. Santos (Carlos) and Vincent T. Shurr (Susan); brother Robert Hinkley (Betty) and her beloved grandchildren Tara and C.J. Davitt and Joncarlo, Olivia and Anthony Santos.
Bea was predeceased by her husband Vincent J., her son John V., and her sisters Mary Andrews and Kathryn Brodie.

Mildred L. Paszkiewicz
Mildred L. Paszkiewicz (Jackowiak), 76, died on Sunday, Dec. 25, in the Lakeview Subacute Care Center, Wayne.
Arrangements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A service was held at the funeral home, followed by interment at Arlington Cemetery, Kearny.
Mrs. Paszkiewicz was born in Gilberton, Pa. She has lived in Kearny for the last 50 years.
She was employed as a bookbinder for Horowitz/Rae Book Manufacturers in Fairfield. Prior, she worked in the same capacity at Economy Book in Kearny. She retired 10 years ago.
Mildred was a longtime member of Oakwood Baptist Church in Kearny.
She is survived by her children David (Ronize), Stanley, Jr. (Christine) and Shelia Dujinski (Ronald); her brother Thomas Jackowiak; seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and her son-in-law Richard Schnepf.
She was predeceased by her husband Stanley and her daughter Debra Schnepf
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Creation Museum c/o Answers in Genesis, P.O. Box 510, Hebron, KY 41048 or to the Alpha & Omega Club at Kearny High School 336 Devon St., Kearny, N.J. 07032.

Paul Valdes
Paul Valdes, 79, died on Dec. 16, in the Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center, Secaucus.
Private funeral arrangements were under the direction of the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home.
Paul was born in New York City. He has lived in Kearny for the last 40 years.
He was employed as maintenance worker for Goldberg Realty in West Caldwell for many years. He retired 14 years ago.
He served in the Marines during World War II.
He is survived by his wife Virgen (Toro) and his children Paul, Marilee and Paul.

Ryan “Ryno” Wurum
Ryan “Ryno” Wurum, 23, passed away peacefully surrounded by his loving family on Christmas Eve, Saturday, Dec. 24.
Arrangements were by the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave, Harrison. A funeral service was held at the funeral home, followed by a private cremation. For directions, information or to send condolences, please visit mulliganfuneralhome.org.
Ryan is survived by his devoted mother Cindy (nee Crozier) and her husband Kevin McFadden, his beloved brother Michael and Kelly, and his girlfriend Suzy. He is also survived by Nick Mejia and many extended families and dear friends. In lieu of flowers, please make donation to Embrace Kids Foundation and send to the funeral home in memory of Ryan.

Top news stories reported in 2011


Some of the white stuff that pommelled the area this past winter.


Compiled by Jeff Bahr &
Anthony Machcinski

New Year’s 2011 literally came in with a bang in the town of Kearny when shots were fired at a New Year’s Eve party on Patterson St. A 19-year-old Newark man, unhappy that he wasn’t permitted access to the party, lost his temper and fired a handgun at a 25-year-old Harrison resident. Fortunately, the man survived. The shooter was later arrested and charged with attempted homicide and a slew of other serious charges.
Another episode of violence followed with the discovery of a dead body found in Belleville in a condo parking lot. The victim had been beaten and shot and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Harrison also saw its share of gun violence. A Quick-Chek convenience store clerk received the shock of her life when two men demanded “money, money, money” and proceeded to fire a shot into the floor for emphasis. After temporarily holding a customer as hostage, the two made off with approximately $700, the total contents of the cash drawer.
A 26-year-old North Arlington man with a penchant for viewing child pornography got his just desserts to the tune of 10 years in the federal pokey after he pleaded guilty to distribution of child pornography.
A revamped 911 system gave Hudson County residents a quicker and more reliable link to emergency services.
Kearny earned an inauspicious “honor” when Michael Trueba, 75, vice-president of the International Longshoreman’s Union and one of the town’s most prominent citizens, was indicted as part of a massive Mafia roundup. How large was it?  According to Attorney General Eric Holder, it was one of the biggest Mafia roundups in the agency’s history. No less than 120 alleged “wise guys” were indicted on charges ranging from illegal gambling and drug trafficking all the way up to murder. Trueba was charged with extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion.

Snow, snow and more snow continued to cover The Observer’s “coverage” area, a messy fact that saw town maintenance workers scurrying to find places to deposit nature’s frozen bounty. Somehow, they prevailed.
The month saw something other than snow fall when a new middle-school proposal was knocked down by Lyndhurst voters. Said Mayor Richard DiLascio of the failed proposal: “These parents who voted against it (the proposal), their actions didn’t help the children.” Ouch!
Bedbugs continued to bite but perhaps none was bitten harder than TVP Pest Control of Newark which was fined $860,000 by the DEP for misusing hazardous chemicals in its fight against the nasty little critters. Some 50 houses and apartments, including several in Kearny and Harrison, were tainted with dangerously inappropriate chemicals including Malathion and Carbaryl.
Two little “buggers” of the drug-dealing variety were nabbed in a sizable Nutley drug bust.  Heroin, marijuana, hashish and assorted drug paraphernalia were found at a Nutley residence when police executed a search warrant of the premises.
Three uninvited “stooges” were apprehended shortly after they crashed a Kearny birthday party and allegedly assaulted the guest of honor and his girlfriend. The three culprits (aged 16, 19 and 20) were charged with various offenses.

A suspect came up smelling nothing like roses after he was arrested for stuffing $180 worth of deodorants in his pants at a Kearny Rite-Aid. But the heist wasn’t the only thing that registered as foul. Eric Warren of Newark attempted to resist arrest when officers approached him.  The arrest was the 75th in a protracted criminal career. For his prolific law-breaking run, Warren received 15 years in the can. That’s “can” as in jail – not deodorant.
Speaking of foul, the Rev. James J. Reilly of Kearny’s Our Lady of Sorrows Church was arrested on Feb. 15 for allegedly lightening the church’s coffers by some $75,000 dollars.  Talk about fallen angels.


The Rev. James Reilly pleaded guilty to taking money from a Kearny church.

Other misadventures in the land of miscreants included a foiled burglary, compliments of capable Sgt. John Becker of the Kearny Police Department.  The one-man crime-buster singlehandedly subdued and handcuffed two alleged culprits who were holding two people at gunpoint. Well played, sir.
Proving that the town of Harrison is no slouch in reeling in the bad guys, the Harrison Police Dept. nabbed three suspects, all from New York, with $34,000 in stolen money from a Rennsselaer, N.Y. nightclub.
Kearny resident Fernanda Lois received a well-earned certificate of achievement from the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission for her environmental efforts focusing on the Passaic River. As a rower with the Kearny High School’s crew team, Lois saw firsthand the negative effects that litter and debris were having on the river. She took action by organizing a team of some 90 volunteers who removed over 20 yards of debris from the river. “I applaud Ms. Lois on her extraordinary efforts in not only helping to provide a cleaner environment, but also for setting an example for other local students to follow,” said the Commission’s Executive Director Wayne J. Forrest.

Tragically proving the cautionary statement  “speed kills,” three West Hudson people lost their lives on April 2 when their car impacted a steel pole on Rt. 22 in Hillside. Lost were Danilo Xavier, 23, and Robson Pinheiro, 21, of Kearny, and Luis Dossantos, 22, of East Newark.
Kearny formally announced their choices for the town’s Finest and Bravest of the year. Police Officer of the Year honors went to Neil Nelson, while William Crockett Jr. became Firefighter of the Year.
A federal grant for $285,000 helped offset the purchase of a $550,000 dollar pumper truck sorely needed by the North Arlington Fire Dept. The old truck, a 1984 model, had fallen short of meeting upgraded safety regulations.
“There are two sure things in life,” a popular saying tells us. “Death and taxes.” There’s also criminal charges for those who cheat on paying taxes as Bloomfield resident, Rigot Joseph, rather harshly found out. As sole owner of RJM Professional Tax Services in East Orange, Rigot was named in a 12-count indictment for knowingly aiding and assisting in the preparation and presentation of false tax returns.
It was announced that the Wittpenn Bridge, a hazardous depression-era span that crosses the Hackensack River linking Kearny with Jersey City, would be replaced. A waterfront walkway beside the new span was also mentioned.
Taking the “charity starts at home” idea to deceptive levels, Michael Arpaio learned that honesty is the best policy. The Belleville man was indicted by a federal grand jury in Newark for allegedly extorting a nonprofit company that collects used clothing from bins located in Bloomfield, Kearny, Belleville and other towns.

Teenagers and pranks are nearly synonymous but such “fun” acts can sometimes carry hefty consequences. Mark Burke, 18, of Kearny, was joyfully riding on the trunk of his friend’s Nissan.  When the brakes were applied Burke lost his grip.  In an instant, the young man’s life was snuffed out and his friend’s existence was forever changed.
Three suspects who had just taken part in a brazen home invasion in North Arlington received their comeuppance when their getaway car became wedged between a FedEx truck and a Jeep on Wilson Ave. in Kearny. Police quickly arrested the trio, and the three-man crime wave was vanquished.
William Ruff, a young actor from Harrison High School, flexed his thespian muscles forcefully enough to win the Governor’s Award for excellence in acting.
Proving when luck is with you, skill isn’t always necessary, a Kearny teenager lost control of his car as he was reaching for something in the glove compartment. After striking a curb, the car crashed into  a utility pole causing it to flip over. Perhaps no one was more surprised that the teen himself who managed to climb out of the vehicle completely unscathed.

In a bizarre bid for laughs, 53-year-old Sonia Horvaht of East Newark may have thought, “Why should youthful stupidity be wasted on the young?” seconds before she decided to steal a Kearny Police SUV and take it for a joy ride. Continuing her pursuit of high times, Horvaht unintentionally played “bumper cars” in a series of high-speed accidents, the last of which was serious enough to trap her inside the vehicle. After firemen extricated the fun-loving woman, police charged her with numerous crimes.  “All who play eventually pay ” is her lesson learned.
Kearny police officers did their part in carrying the torch during the 28th Annual Torch Run for Special Olympics New Jersey.
The three following West Hudson senior citizens were honored for their civic contributions: Joseph A. Cundari of Harrison, Hugh Dalzell of Kearny, and Carmen Britez of East Newark.


Hurricane Irene caused flooding throughout the region.


A Kearny woman pleaded guilty in Federal Court to wire fraud, money laundering, and impersonating a government official. Rosa Blake, 55,  “orchestrated a scheme to defraud dozens of immigrants out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by pretending she could help them become U.S. Citizens.”
Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos and the Town Council adopted stricter requirements for dealers of second-hand precious metals and jewelry to enhance the ability of law enforcement to identify stolen jewelry in a timely matter.
The Harrison Fire Department revised its “Table of Organization” by reducing the number of battalion chiefs from four to none and cutting the captains from 13 to five.
The Kearny Generals Cheerleading Squad took the division title at the Eastern Cheer Association National Championships in Virginia.
A 54-year-old East Orange man was fatally shot in his car in Belleville.

The Harrison Courts held a Legends game as part of the Major League Soccer All-Star game festivities. It was the first time that Tab Ramos, John Harkes, and Tony Meola, who helped give Kearny the moniker of “Soccertown, USA” were together at a soccer event in ages.
Harrison Fire Chief Tom Dolaghan retired after more than three decades of service with the Harrison Fire Department.
A Newark woman who does her shopping in Nutley was arrested after she left her children, including two babies, locked in a van at the ShopRite parking lot.
Several towns across the area held their National Night Out Against Crime.
The Observer started its annual Kentucky Care project, benefitting hundreds of families in the Appalachia region of Kentucky.
A 23-year-old Harrison man was accused of murdering his parents and 3-year-old niece in what was considered one of the most gruesome crime scenes of the year. Carlos P. Campos, a 2006 Harrison High School graduate turned himself into police shortly after the murders.
A man who held up the TD Bank in Lyndhurst escaped with an undisclosed amount of cash. The man entered the bank at about 9:50 a.m. on Aug. 15 and removed money from the cash drawers at several tellers’ stations.
Hurricane Irene slammed into the area, leaving thousands without power and leaving behind extensive damage. One person died in the aftermath in Kearny and several cars became stranded while trying to negotiate flooded roads. Extensive damage included downed trees and power lines, and flood damage to several homes and businesses.

September 11, 2011 marked the 10-year anniversary of the tragedy of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Many events around town were held to remember the victims of one of the most devastating attacks to ever take place on American soil. We will never forget.
Kearny Police talked a jumper off the railroad trestle at Passaic and Johnston Aves. The 44-year-old man was cooperative and was taken Clara Maas Medical Center for evaluation.
Nutley Police officer Matthew Canova saved a young woman trapped in a car after she got stuck in floodwaters resulting from Hurricane Lee at Rutgers Pl. and Passaic Ave. After she put the car in neutral, Canova pushed the car and its occupant to safety.
Soccer madness triggered three stabbings outside the Red Bull Arena after a game between Columbia and Honduras.
Kearny held its second annual Townwide Yard Sale with great success.

Volunteers load truck with supplies bound for Appalachia as part of The Observer’s Kentucky Care project.


George Pena, 21,  jumped into the Passaic River early October 1 after he was found shirtless in southbound traffic on Passaic Ave. Kearny Police attempted to help Pena, who appeared to be drunk, when Pena ran toward the river near the railroad trestle and disappeared. After a massive search by several townships, Pena’s body was found in the waters behind Pathmark on Passaic Ave.
Kearny resident Cheryl Olcheski was given the Betty Flood Award of Excellence award from PSE&G. Olcheski is a volunteer with the American Red Cross of Northern New Jersey whose job involves helping the victims of all types of natural disasters.
Tragedy occurred in Mountain Lakes after Kearny resident Leonardo Parera walked into his Mountain Lakes office and fatally shot office manager Christine Capone King. Parera called police, saying, “I just killed someone” and warned the dispatcher that he was heavily armed and that the situation could “escalate.” When officers arrived, he began shooting and police returned fire, killing Parera. Parera’s motives for the murder are unknown, but it may well have been a case of “suicide by cop.”
The Lyndhurst Board of Education changed its Math curriculum for primary students, focusing on a problem solving and model drawing. The program is directly aligned to the state common core standards and offers a good blend of both hands-on and ‘skill and drill’ exercises.
A freak October snowstorm hit the area on Halloween weekend. Many homes throughout the area lost power and several hundred anywhere from four to six inches of snowfall in what was the most bizarre weather-related incident of 2011.

Karen Comer announced her retirement as the Harrison health officer after 25 years on the job.
Nutley Police responded to a silent alarm at the TD Bank on Franklin Ave. between Church and William Sts. Police arrested 49-year-old Michael Evans and charged him with robbing the bank after tbey found him hiding in a nearby yard on Alexander St. in Newark.
Nine inductees were sent into the Nutley Hall of Fame. The honorees were Cathleen Benko, Larry Brancaccio, Tina Cervasio, Angela Christiano, Lloyd Goodrich, Frank Lautenberg, Earl Reeder, Al Welenofsky, and Linda Lautenschlaeger Stamato.
Designs came in for playgrounds at Washington, Jefferson, and Roosevelt Schools in North Arlington. The old playgrounds, which had been neglected and required much help, will be replaced in time for children to play on them by next spring and summer.
Harrison Schools Superintendent James Doran announced that students would be getting free breakfast. Research found that students who ate before testing and classes performed better in the classroom.
After minor delays, The Observer’s Kentucky Care project arrived in Cordia, KY. The project helped hundreds of families in an area where the average household income is $11,297 according to the 2000 Census.
Several acres of land off of Porete Ave. in North Arlington remained on the selling block. The former Bethlehem Steel and Bergen County Utilities Authority sites were put up for auction, but failed to lure buyers.

The former Bethlehem Steel and Bergen County Utilities Authority sites failed to lure buyers.


The coverage area kicked off the holiday season with tree lightings and holiday festivities.
Demolition began at the old Hartz Mountain complex in Harrison. The site, which is being developed by Heller Urban Renewal, will create 600 new residential units. The parcel is within walking distance of the Harrison PATH station.
The West Hudson Arts & Theatre Company opened at the Arlington Players Club with its production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The theatre performed the show roughly a month after the troupe’s inception – a remarkable feat considering the intricacies involved.
Nutley Mayor Joanne Cocchiola stepped down with five months left in her term. She vacated the position so the Township Council could appoint her to fill the vacancy created by the recent death of Judge Michael Viola.
Bloomfield unveiled a mural on the overpass on the east side of John F. Kennedy Blvd. that links the football complex with Maple and Spruce Sts.
Harrison Public Library celebrated its 100th birthday.

New ‘high-end’ digs coming soon?


Photo by Photo by Ron Leir/ Mayor Ray McDonough displays rendering of a highrise apartment building and deck parking proposed for area next to Bridge St. Bridge.

By Ron Leir

Another real estate project is on the drawing board for Harrison’s waterfront redevelopment area.
David Steiner, of the Steiner Equities Group, of Roseland, and a commissioner of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, is pitching a “high-end” high-rise apartment building near the Bridge St. Bridge on the town’s Newark border.
Steiner and architect Jacob Bloch presented the concept for the project at a special meeting of the Harrison Redevelopment Agency, held last Tuesday, Dec. 20, and the agency board voted to designate Steiner the redeveloper for the 2.6-acre site.
The special meeting was originally called for last Monday but then moved to Tuesday because of scheduling issues involving the participants, according to Mayor Ray McDonough.
The targeted property, which is occupied by a used-car lot along Harrison Ave. and a lumberyard behind it, runs from the Passaic River to Dey St., down Dey St. to Warren St., bordering the River Park apartment complex.
Steiner’s plan calls for a 20-story concrete and steel building that would accommodate 200 rental apartments – a combination of one-bedroom and two-bedroom units – along with a rooftop restaurant and a health club for tenants.
A four-deck parking garage which would provide spaces for the building’s tenants would be built next door and atop the garage, there would be tennis courts, plus possibly basketball courts and possibly a pool.
Steiner, who was born in Newark and worked in the sheetrock industry before becoming a civil engineer, has a development track record, according to McDonough, who said Steiner had approached him about doing a project in Harrison.
Steiner’s firm owns a film studio in the Brooklyn Naval Yard; the company built the Bridgewater Town Center mall on Rt. 202 and malls in Manalapan and Lakewood; it has also built condominium apartments in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, McDonough said.
Before Steiner can start building in Harrison, though, he’ll have to acquire the privately-owned parcels in the redevelopment tract.
It’s unclear whether Steiner has begun negotiations with the owners.
If and when he secures a contract to purchase the property, then the agency and town would consider entering into a redevelopment agreement with his company and, after that, he would go to the town Planning Board for site plan approvals.
McDonough said that all the developers in the town’s redevelopment zone have asked the town to grant them PILOT (Payments in Lieu of Taxes) agreements.
McDonough said that when he relayed that information to the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA), which is closely monitoring Harrison’s fiscal operations, DCA instructed him to request something in writing from the developers “asking them to explain why they need the PILOT.”
Meanwhile, in other news on the development front, McDonough said the town has been awarded a Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection to apply toward a projected $30 million environmental cleanup of the old Hartz property where Heller Industrial Parks plans to build 600 new apartments and 30,000 square feet of retail space.
“From what I understand,” McDonough said, “it will take one year to take down all the buildings on the site and remove the PCBs and other contaminants and dirt.”
McDonough said that the Heller firm just put the demolition phase of the project out to bid and seven contractors submitted bid proposals.

Cops, Firefighters get X-mas gift

By Ron Leir

For cops and firefighters expecting to lose their jobs or to be demoted by year’s end, this holiday season was looking pretty glum.
But now the spirit of Christmas is bringing the best gift of all: their jobs are safe and they’ll be no bumping down of ranks.
Mayor Alberto Santos, Town Administrator Michael Martello and Chief Financial Officer Shuaib Firozvi each confirmed in separate interviews last week that the layoffs and demotions that were scheduled for Dec. 31 are pretty much off the table.
Attorneys for both sides have been in constant contact with each other for the past couple of months as the town and the unions representing members of the Police and Fire Departments have looked for fiscal strategies aimed at shedding the labor strife.
And, as a result, Santos said, “we are now very close on (settling) both police and fire issues. It depends on the total number of retirements that actually occur… We are waiting on some additional retirements but, until the papers are filed, we can’t rely on them for purposes of savings projected.
“However, if all of them occur as we expect them to, then it would be safe to say there will be no layoffs for either the Police or Fire Departments,” Santos said.
Nine Police Department retirements – five superiors and four rank-and-file officers – are slated to kick in Feb. 1, 2012, according to Martello.
In the Fire Department, nine retirements – two superiors and seven firefighters – are also factored into the savings equation. Two men left in October; others will depart in April 2012; and the rest, in July 2012, Martello said.
PBA local President Glenn Reed and FMBA local President James Carey, who plans to retire July 1, 2012, agreed that it now appears that the layoff plan is dead.
“That’s correct,” Reed said. “We worked it out last week and we’ve informed our members.”
Decreased pension contributions, savings from present and future retirements and from switching to a less expensive medical plan helped nail down the deal, Carey said.
As things now stand, Carey said the FMBA’s agreement to accept compensatory time in place of overtime this year, as part of a budget savings plan requested by management, will expire Dec. 31 but not without consequences.
“They (the town) owe our members thousands and thousands of hours in comp time and I don’t know how they’re going to make good on that,” Carey said.
According to Firozvi, the town had hoped to achieve a savings of $1,150,000 in the Police Department payroll and $960,000 in the Fire Department for 2012. “We’ve achieved both goals,” he said.
But Santos, Martello and Firozvi said the town is still negotiating with the representatives of civilian union employees – the Civil Service Association – on ways of preventing the abolition of nine jobs spread among the Construction, Finance, Health and Public Works Departments and the Town Library.
For the non-uniformed employees, Firozvi said the town was looking to accomplish $1 million in savings for 2012. With four retirements anticipated by year’s end, that would still leave $650,000 to chop, he said.
Three employees have just filed for disability retirements but those savings haven’t been factored in yet, Firozvi said.
This year, Civil Service union members had to swallow 26 furlough days – representing 10% of their base salaries – as another cost-saving measure and they may have to accept some furloughs again for 2012, officials say.
“Unless we get a significant number of retirements, the most logical alternative for savings is (the use of) furloughs,” Santos said.
Earlier this year, Kearny officials had projected a 2012 budget deficit of $5 million. Santos said the town figured to attack that gap through “a small tax increase,” application of town reserves, a reduced pension contribution and labor savings.
At this point, according to Santos and Firozvi, the town is “about half-way there” to filling the projected budget shortfall. How successful it will be depends on the outcome of talks with the civilian employees unions, how much of a surplus the town can generate, to what extent the town can reduce its operating expenses, its revenue picture and the impact of next year’s employee insurance premiums, Firozvi said.
Next year, the town will also have to deal with another round of labor contract negotiations. The fire unions’ contracts run out July 1; police and civilian middle-level supervisors will see their pacts expire on Dec. 31.

The Ups and Downs of 2011



By Lisa Pezzolla

As the clock ticks down to the New Year, we all like to reflect on the things that have happened this year. Whether they were good or bad, many events have shaped 2011 into the year it has been and these events will help begin to shape the New Year.
With that in mind, I’d like to just highlight some of the things I’ve mentioned in my columns this year, just to allow people to appreciate some of the things that went on in our area.
Obviously with the New Year, we brought in a new design for the paper, replacing the old red and black design with a much more updated and eye-catching design.
As always, we touched on how important our readers are to us and how we look for your response, whether that response was through phone calls, e-mails, or the good, ol’ fashioned letter.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature was not too kindly to our area, with massive snowfall in February, Hurricane Irene in late August, and a freak snowstorm on Halloween.
Despite those acts of nature, The Observer was able to bring many people some cheer in the light of awful circumstances.
None of this can even be said without mentioning and thanking all of you, our readers, for everything you have done to help out through volunteering time and giving donations.
We were able to help Samantha Bustamante, a young girl with brain cancer, fulfill her wish to get to Disney.
The Observer kicked off its annual Kentucky Care project, which helped many families. I am proud to say that I was a part of this project with Gino Montrone that helped out so many families stateside that needed our help more than ever.
As always, please stay connected. The Observer, now more than ever, is ever present through Facebook, Twitter, and on our website at www.theobserver.com.
May I wish you all a Happy New Year and may 2012 prove to be a fruitful year for you and yours.

A New Year’s resolution worth keeping

This year, people will make and swiftly break their New Year’s resolutions. It’s hardly surprising given that most of these pledges usually feature dieting. Last year, when I too swore that I would commit to the battle of the bulge, I made a critical error and failed before I started. Hey, it’s not my fault that Applebee’s was running a 2 for $20 campaign. I was a full hour away from my last meal when I noticed their enticing sign, so it’s only natural that I gobbled up both platters like a ravenous dog! Even so, my failing in the girth war mostly affected myself (and perhaps the eyes of those who would now be forced to view the amorphous mass encircling my waistline).  Maybe that’s the problem with resolutions; all too often they’re a “me” thing.
But what if they weren’t?  What if, just this once, people made their resolutions with the benefit of others in mind? Would such selflessness create a snowball effect of goodwill that would feed upon itself until everyone was helping everyone?  Not being a sage or soothsayer, I can’t answer this with authority, but a hunch tells me that such a paradigm shift in behavior could well become a game-changer. At the very least, it would take us away from ourselves, and our ever-increasing waistlines.
Allow me to address a common fallacy. Many of us believe that we will be happiest if riches come our way (have you checked out a lottery line lately?). But studies show that this is largely NOT true. In fact, the happiest members of society seem to be those who live simply and who give freely of themselves.  If you’ve ever helped someone, you already know the warm, fuzzy feeling that accompanied the deed. Now, imagine doing this regularly. It feels nice to be nice, wouldn’t you agree?
I have a close friend who lives this selfless lifestyle. He’s a lead-guitarist/ music teacher who defies typical Rock & Roll stereotypes.  While Joe has as much “scratch” in the kitty as the next guy, he doesn’t fancy expensive automobiles, posh digs or even shiny new Stratocaster guitars. He cares about people. A typical day will find him celebrating a musical “breakthrough” with one of his guitar students and afterwards lifting the spirits of some elderly folks at a nursing home. Please understand that Joe is nowhere near retirement age. His friends often wonder what he gets out of these prolonged visits with people many decades his senior. If you ask Joe, he’ll tell you that the arrangement is indeed lopsided.
“You know, I actually feel kind of guilty,” explains Joe with a hint of shame in his voice. “Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing this as much for me as I am for them. When I arrive at the nursing home and these older folks smile or suddenly perk up, there’s no denying that it makes me feel great. I don’t guess you can put a price tag on that kind of fulfillment.”
It’s obvious that people can receive as much from giving as they do from receiving. Perhaps more. Just ask Joe. And giving of oneself like this is far nobler than lusting after material goods, or trimming a few inches off of our waistlines.  So, why not resolve to help someone?  You may discover something “nice” about yourself in the process. But even if you don’t, there’s still a bonus here. Without those silly weight loss resolutions, you’re free to gorge on that tasty “twofer” at Applebee’s.  Happy New Year!

— Jeff Bahr

News from the Kearny Police blotter

The lucrative business of illegal scrapping got four Newark men arrested in Kearny on December 14. Officers John Fabula and Sean Kelly responded to the vacant Wilcatabox building at the bottom of Tappan and Hoyt Sts. The officers received a call from local residents who saw men coming out of the building carrying materials and placing them in a Chevy Tahoe. After calling for backup and securing the perimeter, one of the individuals walked out of the building and spotted the officers, then immediately closed and locked the door. Officers entered the building after the fire department breached the door. Given the size of the area they needed to canvass, Kearny police called in K-9 units from the Bergan County Sheriff’s office to help in the search. Officer Kelly and Detective Ray Lopez were able to locate two individuals, 23-year-old Ruben Whiteneck and 18-year-old Nicholas Soto, both from Newark, hiding with debris in the flooded basement.  After apprehending the two men, Det. Lopez, Officer Kelly and Officer Pat Walsh went back into the building. On the second search, the officers found two more men, 36-year-old Jose Williams of Newark and Juan Vazquez, 24, of New Haven, CT. The men were charged with burglary, theft, conspiracy, criminal mischief, and resisting arrest. In the Tahoe were assorted burglar tools including bolt cutters, flashlights, and screwdrivers. Police also retrieved a large amount of copper wiring and ductwork that had been dismantled and stacked near the exit of the building.
The next morning, police responded to a call from a Kearny resident who said they had seen a suspicious man in the back of a Jaguar. Officers Joe Vulcano and Jose Canella, along with Sgt. John Taylor responded to the 200 block of Devon St. to find the man still in the back of the car. The man, 47-year-old Stanislaus Luganga from the Bronx, said he didn’t own the car, but apparently knew the owner and decided to get in the car to “take a smoke break.” The man was taken into custody after it was discovered that he carried several outstanding warrants. He couldn’t make bail and was taken to Hudson County jail.
Later on the night of Dec. 15,, Officers Mike Santucci and Andrew Palagano were investigating a motor vehicle accident at the intersection of Belleville Tpke. and Passaic Ave. when they observed another vehicle, not involved in the initial accident, drive up the driveway of the Kearny Auto Spa and slam into the retaining wall, putting the car in a precarious position over the wall. A female and a male were assisted from the vehicle, smelling of alcohol. After observation, they determined that the driver, 38-year-old David Hudak from Linden, was under the influence. He was given summonses for DWI and careless driving.
On the night of Dec. 16 and into the early hours of Dec. 17, Officer Chris Levchak was conducting a roving DWI assignment he stopped a vehicle driving southbound on Kearny Ave. Levchak detected the smell of alcohol and asked the driver, 51-year-old Newark resident Steven Bornemann if he had been drinking.   The driver explained that he had consumed a couple of drinks at work and told Levchak that he was driving with a suspended license. At that point, Sgt. John Taylor came to the scene and conducted a roadside sobriety test.  Bornemann was subsequently placed under arrest. It was also discovered that the Bornemann had warrants out in Nutley, Colts Neck, Maplewood, Rutherford, and Belleville. He was charged with DWI, careless driving, driving while suspended and failure to exhibit an insurance card.
Finally, on Monday December 19th around 7:00 p.m., a multivehicle accident occurred with several minor injuries when a vehicle driving east on Bergen Ave collided with another going north on Schuyler Ave. While directing traffic, Officer Sean Kelly was struck by a vehicle and knocked to the ground on Schuyler Ave. He was taken by ambulance to Clara Maass hospital and treated for minor back and hip injuries. The 60-year-old motorist from Hope Lawn was issued a summons for careless driving.

Harrison Police Blotter

Dec. 19
Someone pried out the driver’s side door lock to a 1999 Ford van while it was parked in the municipal parking lot on Hamilton St. under Rt. 280. Nothing was reported stolen from the vehicle.
Three men shoplifted three packs of Phillies cigars, valued at $6.50 per pack, from a Harrison Ave. business.
Dec. 18
A 2006 Dodge was vandalized while parked in the municipal parking lot at Patterson St. and Harrison Ave. The vehicle’s passenger side mirror was damaged and the vehicle was scratched on both sides and the hood.
A William St. resident reported that a Dell computer that was delivered to her by FedEx on Dec. 7 was stolen.
The driver’s side door handle of a 2005 Infiniti was pried off while it was parked on the 200 block of Warren St. overnight. Police said there was no sign of forced entry.
Three vehicles parked on Bergen St. under Rt. 280 were broken into when their windows were smashed. The interiors of the vehicles were ransacked and a Bluetooth headset was reported stolen from one of the cars.
Someone smashed the windows of two vehicles parked on Sussex St. under Rt. 280, ransacked the cars’ interiors and stole a GPS unit from one of the vehicles.
Two vehicles parked on the 200 block of Essex St. were broken into after their windows were smashed. Interiors of the cars were ransacked but nothing was reported stolen.
An intruder smashed the window of a vehicle parked on the 200 block of Railroad Ave. to break into the car but nothing was reported stolen.
Dec. 17
Police responded to the intersection of Frank Rodgers Blvd. and Central Ave. on a report of an intoxicated female sleeping in a car. Police arrested Sue Ellen Dos Santos, 20, of Kearny, on the charge of underage consumption of alcohol. She was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia after officers found two pipes typically used to smoke marijuana in her car.
Michael Clifford, 21, of Harrison, was arrested for disorderly conduct after police went to Harrison Gardens on a report of a fight and found Clifford who was shouting obscenities and creating a disturbance.
Dec. 15
A 2000 Acura Integra was broken into while parked on the 200 block of Bergen St. and a GPS unit was reported stolen from the vehicle.
Someone slashed the tires of a 2004 Nissan Murano while the vehicle was parked at the intersection of N. Third and Cross Sts.

Entertainment Year In Review


Mia Borders

By Anthony J. Machcinski

From rock to rap and from paper to canvas, this area is ripe with culture and talent. If you’ve read the Out and About section all year, you know that there have been so many good bands, musicians, vocalists, writers, and artists to grace Out and About’s front page.
To remember the year in entertainment, The Observer wanted to recognize some of the great performers and events of the past 12 months.
Best Musician: Mia Borders. The 24-year-old guitarist/singer came to Donegal Saloon August 12th and blew the doors off the place. Not looking like the stereotypical, factory-produced pop star, Borders, who wore jeans and aviator sunglasses provided those in attendance a style of music only found below the Mason-Dixon line. Borders makes very few appearances in the North, but when she does, they are worth traveling to.  With her well-crafted guitar playing and a soulful voice to go with it, Borders was named one of the hidden surprises at the 2010 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival by USA Today. To listen to her music, check out her website www.miaborders.com or search for her in the iTunes store.
Honorable Mention: Karen Luschar, singer.
Best Movie: Fast Five. Normally, sequels to movies are awful. “Clerks 2”, “Major League 2”, and this year’s “Hangover 2” are only some examples as to how disastrous a film sequel can be. However, despite being the fifth installment of the series (fourth if you take out the out-of-storyline “Tokyo Drift”), “Fast Five” had all the action moviegoers could ask for. Best of all, there was actually a storyline. Sure, this was not the best movie plot of all time, and if your’re looking for a serious movie this was not for you, but if you wanted straight action that didn’t get so blown out of proportion that it took away from the plot (like the “Transformers” movies), this film was definitely the best of the summer.


Fast 5

Honorable Mention: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Music act most likely to be famous: I Am Fighting. Mia Borders could have been considered in this spot, but was not because of her success in the South. However, that should not discount one of the best young bands in the area. Comprised of Joe Gehrmann, Dan Tretola, Dom Gaglio, Joe Hughes and Mike Lisa, I Am Fighting won the contest to play at Bamboozle, the annual three-day event that has become one of the largest in the area. Since then, the band has continued to play shows all over the area. With an emotional, yet powerful version of pop music, I Am Fighting is definitely one of the area’s best bands around. Check out their music on iamfighting.com or on iTunes.


I Am Fighting

Honorable Mention: Ripped
Best all-around talent: Steve Egoavil. A true artist in every sense of the word, Egoavil has been the complete package when defining art. Originally a sketch artist who got his start being “a hardcore doodler,” Egoavil went from selling paintings on the streets of New York to becoming a tattoo artist, eventually owning his own business, Art in Motion in North Arlington. However, Egoavil’s added skill as a percussionist makes him the winner for best all-around talent. From playing samba with people in Riverbank Park in Newark to some of the largest stages including NJPAC, Giants Stadium and Lincoln Center, the always-humble Egoavil has certainly become of one of the area’s hidden gems.


Steve Egoavil

Honorable Mention: Karlee Roberts
If 2011 is any indication on the future, our coverage area will continue to be one of the entertainment hotbeds in the New York Metro area. Continue reading next year to track the progress of some of these stars and to discover a few more.

Readers spread holiday cheer

Photo by Jeff Bahr/ Pictured from l.: Kevin Scannell Sr., Carl Gebron, Tony Bouchoux, Peter Bouchoux, and Dan “the man” Keeler.


In the December 7th edition of The Observer, we asked all of our readers to donate toys to children who come from needy families in our area. Once again, our readers responded to the tune of 25 bags of toys.
The Observer was able to take these toys and give them to several charities, including the Hope House in Jersey City and Foster Adoptive of Hudson County. Toys were also given to Larry Bennett with the Elks in Harrison, Mayor Raymond J. McDonough of Harrison, Commissioner Robert B. Giangeruso in Lyndhurst, and Cervino Chiropractic and distributed to needy families through them.
It’s hard to fathom how uplifting these donations have been to the children and how profound an effect that receiving these gifts has had on their lives. Words cannot express the gratitude and thanks we have for you, our readers, and the monumental effect you have given children at a time when everyone should feel the joy and the spirit of the holiday.