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Long-vacant KMUA post soon to be filled

Photos by Ron Leir

Photos by Ron Leir/ The cramped offices at the KMUA on Central Ave. await a new executive director.

 

By Ron Leir

 KEARNY –

After doing without someone at the helm for more than a year, the Kearny Municipal Utilities Authority (KMUA) has decided it needs to make a change.

It has undertaken a search for a new executive director but details around the position itself are still sketchy.

KMUA counsel Gregg Paster and part-time financial officer Shuaib Firozvi, who also serves as the town’s CFO and tax collector, said that the KMUA commissioners are undecided on a pay range and whether to designate it a full- or part-time post.

Authority records show that Joseph Skelly, who held the job since the KMUA’s inception back in May 1988, was earning $109,625 a year at the time of his retirement in spring 2011. (When he left, Skelly negotiated a terminal leave package with the commissioners for $35,000, according to Paster.)

Mayor Alberto Santos, who was out of the country on vacation last week but reached via texting, said that since Skelly’s departure, the authority has been “filling in day to day administrative functions with the KMUA engineer – a cost issue – and the KMUA clerk – an authority issue with respect to KMUA laborer and plant operator.”

Santos didn’t say and neither Shuaib nor Paster could quantify how much the authority had been billed for these administrative functions, but Paster said the commissioners felt that the KMUA – with only four employees – could be run more effectively with an administrator on hand.

“The authority thinks it’s important to have chain of command,” Paster said. “For (the engineer and clerk) to handle (administrative matters) a la carte is not an efficient way of doing business.”

In a posting for the job, the KMUA said it was looking for a “licensed professional engineer with civil engineering background” or someone with a “bachelor’s degree with at least 3 years’ utilities authority experience.”

Applicants, the posting added, “should have familiarity with sewer authorities, public contracting process, the Town of Kearny and possess strong oral and written communications skills.”

“The successful candidate will be responsible for day to day operations of the Authority and for implementing policy decisions of the Authority commissioners and to attend and report at monthly meetings on such operations and policies,” the posting said.

As of a July 17 application deadline, “15 submissions” had been received, according to Firozvi.

Interviews with applicants are scheduled by mid-August, Paster said. “Then it’s at the discretion of the commissioners,” he said, as to when they would appoint someone to the position.

It’s conceivable that the commissioners could act as early as their next regularly scheduled meeting on Aug. 22 but it’s also possible they may hold off until the September session, Paster said.

KMUA Chairwoman Stephanie Santos (no relation to the mayor) couldn’t be reached for comment.

The KMUA, which has a budget of about $3.3 million supported by user fees, is responsible for the collection of combined storm water drainage and sewage from 58 industrial customers in South Kearny and for the operation of a separate sewage system that serves eight customers in a portion of the Meadowlands section of Kearny.

After removing solids from the waste water via primary treatment, the KMUA pumps the water to the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission for secondary treatment and discharge. The PVSC bills the KMUA for its services and the KMUA pays those fees through its collection of user fees set by an annual rate structure.

According to the Town of Kearny website, the KMUA “maintains one 17.5 million gallon per day capacity pumping station in South Kearny and three smaller pumping stations in the Kearny Meadowlands.”

The KMUA, which operates autonomously, is currently undertaking improvements to the North Hackensack Ave. drainage catch basin system at a cost of more than $1 million, Shuaib said.

If and when the authority does decide to hire a new leader, that individual is likely to be up against it when the time comes to move into his or her offices at the KMUA plant, located at 39 Central Ave., where, Paster said, improvements are needed and being considered by the commissioners.

“There are ventilation issues – there is, essentially, no functioning air-conditioning – and fire safety concerns,” Paster explained. “The (KMUA) plant is over 55 years old and hasn’t had any substantial rehabilitation during that time.”

However, to date, the authority has yet to authorize plans to proceed with renovations, he said.

 

Bomb scare forces evacuation of postal complex in Kearny

U.S. postal inspectors are continuing to investigate who is responsible for a threat to blow up the North Jersey Logistics & Distribution Center at 1200 Harrison Ave. on Friday, July 27.

Various law enforcement agencies, along with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, converged at the Kearny-based facility at around 9:30 a.m. after postal officials discovered graffiti on a bathroom wall inside the building warning that a bomb was set to go off that day, according to U.S. Postal Service spokesman George Flood.

Flood could provide no further details about the message.

At that point, Flood said, postal officials “launched into an evacuation process” involving “225 postal employees who were on the clock” at the Kearny facility.

Initially, employees were seen standing outside, across the street from the Harrison Ave. building, but Flood said that because of the extreme heat and humidity, the Postal Service opted to transport many of the workers to the Dominick V. Daniels Processing & Distribution Facility at 850 Newark Turnpike, about a mile further east.

Among the police agencies responding were canine units from Essex County Police, Bergen County Police and Hudson County Sheriff, along with dog-sniffing details from NJ Transit and Amtrak, according to officials.

Members of the Jersey City Police EMS Bomb Squad and Kearny Police also were on the scene.

Flood said it took about an hour and a half for police and dogs to go through the main postal building, the parking lot and tractor trailers parked on the site before issuing an “all-clear” at about 1 p.m.

A complete probe of the incident will likely take “months” before any findings are reported, Flood said.

The Harrison Ave. facility is one of 49 postal locations being considered for possible “consolidation” as part of a nationwide downsizing planned by the financially challenged Postal Service.

“We’ve put a hold on the Kearny site right now,” Flood said, “but it’s still on a list of facilities to be studied.”

In another disturbing incident that happened on July 19 at 6 p.m, police were called to a rooming house at 344 Kearny Ave., at Halstead Ave., on a report of a shooting. Upon arrival, police found James Hamilton, 21, a resident of the house, lying on the sidewalk in front of the location and bleeding badly from the face as a result of what police characterized as an accidental “self-inflicted” wound.

Police said they traced a trail of blood leading back to the rooming house and to a second-floor apartment rented to Hamilton where they found copious amounts of blood on the floor and streaks of blood on the walls.

By this time, police said, a crowd had gathered outside the building and a man identified by police as Ariel Cantillo, who, police said, was visiting Hamilton at the time of the shooting and had blood on him, shared information about the incident and the weapon involved. Cantillo, 21, of Kearny, was charged with tampering with evidence and possession of a firearm. Cantillo, who also had a contempt of court warrant outstanding from Kearny, is being held in Hudson County Jail on $50,000 bail pending court action.

At about 6:30 p.m., police said Det. Ray Lopez recovered the weapon believed to have been used in the accidental shooting after climbing a tree near the rooming house onto the roof of an adjacent garage where he spotted a handgun, later identified as a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver. Police said the gun was empty but there were signs that it had been fired recently.

Police Chief John Dowie said that as the victim was being transported to the hospital, he told a police officer that he’d shot himself by accident.

Police said the bullet went through Hamilton’s jaw and out a nasal cavity, then passed into the dropped ceiling of Hamilton’s apartment and lodged in some framing. As of last week, police had yet to interview Hamilton who remains hospitalized in critical but stable condition, with his jaw wired shut, and haven’t yet criminally charged him. But, as a minimum, police said Hamilton will likely face charges of discharge of a firearm within 300 feet of a residential area and reckless endangerment. Police are still investigating how Hamilton acquired the weapon. And in another incident on July 21, police said Officer Chris Medina narrowly avoided serious injury in a confrontation with a motorist at 9:15 p.m. in the midtown area. Police said the incident began when Medina, who was on patrol duty, had to brake hard to avoid being struck by a 2005 Toyota wagon that cut him off, turning from Quincy Ave. onto Belgrove Drive, then proceeding at a high rate of speed to N. Midland Ave. off Terrace Place, where Medina exited his car and approached the driver and detected a strong odor of alcohol from the driver who began cursing and suddenly cut his wheel to the left and accelerated, jumping the curb in the process and swerving onto the sidewalk, then continued down to Passaic Ave. and headed south.

Medina broadcast an alert including a description of the vehicle. At 10 p.m. Medina found the empty vehicle parked on Devon St. and learned that it was registered to someone on the block. Police said Offi cers Ben Wuelfi ng and John Travalino went to that location, and, after being admitted inside, heard someone shouting from behind a closed door, “Tell the police I’m not home!” A bit later, a man partly opened the door, cursed the cops and slammed the door shut. Finally, police said, the man emerged, was positively identifi ed by Medina, but then became combative and had to be forcibly subdued by the offi cers who used MC spray on him.

The man arrested, Wilmer Quispe, 41, of Hawthorne, was issued summonses alleging DWI, failure to submit to a breathalyzer test, disregard of a traffic signal, failure to display documents, reckless driving and driving while suspended. He was also charged with aggravated assault on a police offi cer, possession of a weapon (the vehicle) and obstruction of justice. Police said Quispe was also wanted on two warrants out of East Newark and Newark.

– Ron Leir

Grand jury indictment for ex-coach

Scott Rubinetti

 

A Bergen County grand jury voted July 25 to return a criminal indictment of Scott M. Rubinetti, the former Lyndhurst High School football coach, for allegedly having sex with a Lyndhurst High female student, when she was age 17.

No trial date has been set.

Rubinetti, a Nutley resident who was arrested six months prior to the indictment on charges of sexual assault, child endangerment and witness tampering, remains free on $150,000 bail pending disposition of his case.

The five-count indictment, a copy of which was obtained from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, alleges that Rubinetti – while employed as coach and physical education instructor by the Lyndhurst Board of Education – committed the following offenses between Oct. 1, 2009, and March 30, 2010:

Had “inappropriate communications and/or contact” with the student, including “in-person, telephonic, text or other means,” using marijuana with the student, and engaged “in sexual contact” with the student.

Caused harm to the student, “making (the student) an abused or neglected child … by performing an indecent, immoral or unlawful act or deed in the presence of (the student) … including kissing and performing oral sex on the student.

Committed “sexual assault upon (the student), date of birth March 31, 1992, by performing an act of sexual penetration … upon the victim, the victim being at least sixteen but less than eighteen years of age and the actor having supervisory or disciplinary power over the victim when he was employed by the Lyndhurst Board of Education….”

Engaged in sexual conduct “which would impair or debauch the morals of the said child….”

“ … (O)n or about January 18, 2012, … believing that an offi cial proceeding or investigation was pending or about to be instituted, did knowingly attempt to induce or otherwise cause (the student) … to testify or inform falsely and/ or withhold any testimony, information, document or thing ….”

The prosecutor’s office said the alleged actions took place when the student was a high school senior.

Lyndhurst Schools Supt. Tracey Marinelli said that Rubinetti’s employment with the district was discontinued June 30 after the school board voted not to renew his annual contract. He was a non-tenured employee at the time, she said.

The board has named Rubinetti’s predecessor, Joseph Castagnetti, as the new high school football coach and, in the aftermath of several physical education teacher retirements, has hired several new P.E. teachers, one of whom will cover Rubinetti’s instructional slot, according to Marinelli.

-Ron Leir

WE’VE GOT MAIL

Dealing with our tragedies

Dear Editor,

Could the media please give us a break with endless grisly accounts of the Aurora killings? I understand it was a tragedy, and our sympathies lie with the 70 innocent victims. But, we also need to appreciate that 86 Americans are killed by firearms every day, and nearly 4,000 are killed prematurely by chronic diseases linked with consumption of animal products and lack of exercise. (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/ data/nvsr/nvsr60/nvsr60_04. pdf)

So, let’s replace the vacuous hand-wringing over the Aurora tragedy with constructive personal steps to lessen the greater tragedies facing us every day.

Kenneth Miller

Kearny

CORRECTION:

Last week’s photo on Page 4, accompanying Grand Master Vincent Marchetti is Grand Master Joe Williams, not Sensei Joe Pung.

One Tank Trips: Piermont, N.Y. – Too nice to be ignored

Photos by Jeff Bahr/ A bird’s eye view of the Hudson River. Bottom left: Statue honoring WWII veterans and their departure from “Last Stop U.S.A.” Bottom Right: River estuary at Piermont, N.Y.

 

By Jeff Bahr

REBIRTH ON THE HUDSON

Commuters crossing the Hudson on the Tappan Zee Bridge are often surprised to learn that a genuine tourist destination exists on the river’s western bank, just south of the span. It’s understandable. Piermont, N.Y., hasn’t always been a day-trippers’ haven. In fact, not too long ago, Piermont was just another struggling river community whose best days had apparently passed it by.

But then, as if saved by the hand of providence, gentrification began to occur. Old, sometimes dilapidated homes were renovated; boutiques and art galleries found their way into town; and new restaurants and cafés came along for the ride. Now, rather than just passing through, discerning visitors come to linger for an afternoon, a weekend, or even longer at this delightful hamlet on the Hudson. Can you say “full-circle?”

PUTTING THE ‘PIER’ IN PIERMONT

For newcomers, the reason for the turnaround is obvious. Piermont offers truly sublime views of the Hudson River, surrounding estuaries and towering bluffs. Nowhere is this view more arresting than at Piermont Pier, the town’s namesake – a nearly onemile- long jetty built in 1839 to carry the Erie Railroad to the river. From this vantage, visitors can see the river and its vessels to the east, Tallman Mountain to the south, and the staggering cliff face of Hook Mountain – one of the highest promontories along the Palisades Ridge – to the north. During World War II, some 40,000 troops boarded ships at this deepwater dock – referred to as “Last Stop U.S.A.” – and sailed off for the shores of France. A statue and plaque in town honor these veterans – many of whom paid the ultimate price to help ensure our freedom.

 

 

 

TRAIN BUFF’S DELIGHT

The circa 1873 Piermont Railroad Station, located on a rise just above town, stands as a reminder of the way things were in the days of horsedrawn carriages and hoop skirts. This architectural delight, recently restored by the Piermont Historical Society, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is periodically opened to visitors.

Once a stop along the Erie Railroad’s mainline, the eyepleasing building is the very model of Victorian style and quaintness. Today, the former railroad right-of-way has morphed into a rail trail that sees regular use by hikers and bicyclists.

BICYCLISTS’ PARADISE

In a nod to the network of inviting roads and trails that surround it, the village of Piermont features bike rental stands and a well-stocked bicycle store. The 3-mile-long Old Erie Path runs high above town, passing the railroad station as it goes, and links with the Raymond G. Esposito and Joseph B. Clark Trails. This off-road combo creates a 7-mile-long scenic path that features spectacular views of the Hudson River, especially in the fall and spring when obscuring foliage is at a minimum. Road bicyclists also frequent the area, regularly riding into town for a break from their rides along scenic Rt. 9 and other points.

EATERIES, BOUTIQUES AND THE ARTS

While Piermont offers a small assortment of unique shops, mostly situated along Piermont Ave., the town is perhaps better known for its relaxation opportunities. This likely explains why indoor/outdoor restaurants have sprouted here at a level surpassing that of all other businesses.

The Sidewalk Bistro is a Piermont Ave. mainstay, offering the perfect place to dine alfresco while watching the comings and goings of folks at the Community Market, located just across the street. Bicyclists regard the market as something of an oasis and often stop here to refill their water bottles or to nosh on ice cream cones. Then they move along renewed, ready to attack the road once more.

Situated even closer to the river, The Shops at Piermont Landing represent the latest addition to the commercial rebirth occurring in town. Here, visitors will find Slattery’s and Confetti, two restaurants that, in addition to scrumptious morsels, offer a view of the Hudson River to the north and the eclectic parade of humanity that regularly filters through. For dessert, the Flywheel Creamery offers truly tasty hard ice cream in a 1950s setting that recalls the days of sock-hops and drivein theaters. Also featured at The Shops are a handful of art galleries. The works featured here span many different styles and an equal number of price points.

Tasty Italian cuisine is the order of the day at Confetti restaurant.

 

Peaceful solitude at Piermont Pier.

 

A BRIDGE RUNS THROUGH IT

Piermont features an obscure claim to fame certain to appeal to bridge fans. The Bridge St. Bridge, a handcrank drawbridge crossing the Sparkill Creek, has stood in town since its erection in 1880. It represents an extremely rare example of a manually operated vehicular crossing that used a clever array of drums, chains and counter-weights to get the job done. Back in the day, fisherman in sloops would depart their vessels here, open and close the span to permit their passing, and then continue on their way. Restored to its original grandeur in 2009, the bridge has never looked better.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE FORMER ‘DOWNTRODDEN’ VILLAGE

Movie buffs may or may not recognize Piermont in two movies that used the village for location shots. In 1985, director Woody Allen filmed “The Purple Rose of Cairo” here. At the time, the village was in such sorry shape that the film crew joked they’d need to spiff it up to approximate the Depression-era town called for in the film. In 1999, Piermont was again used as a backdrop, this time for the movie, “At First Sight.” When featured actors Val Kilmer and Mira Sorvino walk down Piermont Ave., the-then ramshackle street appears lifeless and dreary- a far cry from what it would become in the not-too-distant future.

Around Town

Bloomfield

• Ronald McDonald will visit the Bloomfield Public Library Children’s Department on Wednesday, Aug. 8, at 2 p.m. for a program full of fun and games. Children of all ages are invited. No registration is necessary.

• Jazz Under the Stars, featuring the Muzzy Mercado Group and Ken Navarro, will be presented as part of the Essex County Free SummerMusic Concert series on Thursday, Aug. 9, at 7:30 p.m. at Essex County Brookdale Park, Bloomfield.

Jazz Under the Stars will open with the rhythmic sounds of alto/tenor saxophonist Muzzy Mercado performing jazz, Latin and rhythm and blues. Mercado has entertained audiences from Las Vegas, the Caribbean, Atlantic City and Carnegie Hall. The second act will feature jazz guitarist Ken Navarro, who has performed and recorded with Doc Severinsen, Nell Carter and Ann Jillian, and many other performers. His 2010 release, “Dreaming of Trains,” was pre-nominated for the 2011 Grammy awards in two categories, and his 2008 album, “The Grace of Summer Light,” was named the number one contemporary jazz album of the year by the Jazz Times.

• Bloomfield Public Library has announced the schedule for its Thursday Afternoon at the Movies program: Aug. 2 – “Contraband” (R) (Mark Wahlberg); Aug. 9 – “The Woman in Black” (PG-13) (Daniel Radcliffe); Aug. 16 – “Julia” (PG) (Jane Fonda); Aug. 23 – “Kill Bill: Vol. 1” (R) (David Carradine) and Aug. 30 – “Once” (R) (Glen Hansard).

The following schedule is for the library’s Monday Afternoon at the Movies program: Aug. 6 – “The Artist” (PG-13) (Jean Dujardin); Aug. 13 – “Week-End at the Waldorf” (NR) (Ginger Rogers); Aug. 20 – “The Mortal Storm” (NR) (James Steward) and Aug. 27 – “Drive” (R) (Ryan Gosling). All films start at 12:15 p.m. in the library theater. Admission is free.

Harrison

• Harrison Cancer League will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Ribbons of Hope, cancer care in the community and beyond on Sept. 29. The event will be held at the Polish National Home catering hall, Cleveland Avenue, Harrison, from 6 to 11 p.m. and will include dinner, music, dancing, open bar and free parking. For reservations, call Deb DaSilva at 201-997-1251.

• Neighborhoods throughout Harrison are being invited to join forces with thousands of communities nationwide for the “29th Annual National Night Out” (NNO) crime and drug prevention event, sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW) and co-sponsored locally by the Harrison Police Department and Harrison/East Newark Elks. From 6 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 7, residents throughout Harrison and across the nation are asked to lock their doors, turn on outside lights and spend the evening outside with neighbors and police. Representatives from the Harrison Police Department and Harrison East Newark Elks will be at Roosevelt Park from 6 to 9 p.m. that evening to meet citizens and discuss crime prevention and drug prevention/education topics. A movie viewing will also be provided by the American Legion. There will be an inflatable bounce house and slides, give-a-ways for children, DJ music and food available.

• The members of Harrison American Legion Post 282 will host a free showing of “Kung Fu Panda 2” on Tuesday, Aug. 7, at 8:30 p.m. on the lawn in the library park. The show will begin immediately following the town’s National Night Out celebration. Free refreshments, treats and prizes will be available. All age groups are encouraged to bring their chairs or blankest for seating.

• Harrison’s Legionnaires will be distributing crime prevention tips as part of the organization’s “Play it Safe” program. These are simple rules to follow that cover everything from basic Internet safety to scams that target seniors. For more information on this event or any questions concerning the American Legion, call 973-484-1175 or stop by the post home, 8 Patterson St., Harrison.

Kearny

• On Friday, Aug. 10, at 3 p.m. art teacher Mrs. Mills will host a special free outdoor summer art project for children ages 4 and up at the Kearny Branch Library, 759 Kearny Ave. Using water guns provided by the library, children will create unique watercolor pictures. All supplies will be provided by the library. In the event of rain, a substitute indoor project will be held. Art classes at the Main Library, 318 Kearny Ave., will be held every Thursday at 4 p.m. throughout the summer months. For more information on library programs, visit www.kearnylibrary.org or call the Main at (201) 998-2666.

• The Kearny Public Library Vacation Reading Challenge is almost finished. Book logs may be returned early, but Friday, Aug. 10, is the last day to return your book log. Make sure you have answered the questions on the back. The prizes will be ready beginning on Aug. 8. From July 30 – Aug. 3, the library will let you pick a prize from the treasure chest if you get your library book log stamped in the Children’s Room of the Main library at 318 Kearny Ave.

• Enjoy live entertainment in August: The Lizard Guys Live Animal Show on Wednesday, Aug. 8, from 4 – 5 p.m. The following week, Mighty Puppets presents “Peetah the Grumpy Cheetah,” a puppet show in English and Spanish from 6 – 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 15. Both shows are for 5 and older at the Main library, 318 Kearny Ave.

• Children 5 and older may attend art classes with Mrs. Mills from 4 – 5 p.m. on Thursdays at the Main library, 318 Kearny Ave. The library will provide the art supplies. Space is limited so seating will be first come first served.

• Preschool Play/Story Times continue on Tuesday mornings from 11 a.m. – noon, and also on Thursday mornings from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. through Tuesday, Aug. 14, at the Main library, 318 Kearny Ave. Preschool Play/Story Times continue on Thursday mornings from 10:15 – 11 a.m. through Aug. 9 at the branch library, 759 Kearny Ave.

Baby and toddler Play/ Story time is held at the main library, 318 Main library, 318 Kearny Ave., for children 0 – three-years-old continue on Wednesday mornings from 10:30 – 11:15 a.m. through Aug. 8. An adult must participate with the child.

Summer movies on Monday afternoons at 4 p.m. will be as follows: “Dolphin Tale” on Aug. 6, “The Lorax” on Aug. 13, “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” on Aug. 20, and “Journey 2 The Mysterious Island” on Aug. 27.

Lyndhurst

• St. Michael’s Leisure Club, Lyndhurst, will have a bus trip to the Sands Casino in Pennsylvania on Thursday, Aug.16, leaving from the church parking lot on Page Ave. at 10 a.m. Cost is $ 22. For more information, please call Georgiana at 201-438-7847

•The Humane Society of Bergen of Bergen County, has a supply of dog food, both canned and dry, all brands including special diets available to anyone (FREE OF CHARGE) who due to unemployment, disability or any financial situation cannot afford to feed their dog. Call 201-896-9300 for more information or just stop by: 221-223 Stuyvesant Ave., Lyndhurst. Hours are: Monday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Lyndhurst Library announces the following activities and events for children: Walk-in Story time for pre-K to grade 2 will resume in September on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 6:30 p.m.

Registration for the fall session of Storytime begins Aug. 15 to Sept. 15. Two sessions are available on Thursdays this fall for this program – one for ages 3-4 at 10:30 a.m. and for ages 3-4 at 1:30 p.m.

The library will have its Grand Finale of the summer reading program from 1 to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 15. This event will include entertainment, certificates and prizes.

• NJMC Pontoon Boat Tour is scheduled for Aug. 2 and Aug. 8 at 5:30 p.m. Cost is $15 per person

Get an up-close view of the Meadowlands District’s spectacular scenic beauty and wildlife with a two-hour guided pontoon boat cruise of the Hackensack River and its surrounding marshes. Experienced NJMC staff will discuss the region’s human and environmental history and point out birds and other wildlife along the way.

Pontoon boat cruises depart from River Barge Park, 260 Outwater Lane, Carlstadt. Recommended for ages 10 and up. Pre-registration required. For a complete schedule, directions and to register visit www.njmeadowlands.gov or call 201-460-4640.

• Sunday, August 5, 10 a.m. First-Sunday-of-the- Month Nature Walk, with the NJMC and the Bergen County Audubon Society, will be held on Sunday, Aug. 5, at 10 a.m. This free two-hour guided nature walk starts outside the Meadowlands Environment Center in DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst, and runs from 10 a.m.. Check meadowblog.net for last-minute updates and weather advisories. You will have to sign a standard liability release that is good for NJMC/BCAS events throughout the year. To R.S.V.P., contact Don Torino of the BCAS at greatauk4@aol.com or 201-230-4983.

• Fourth annual Kevin Karlson Shorebird Day, with the NJMC and Bergen County Audubon Society, will be held on Saturday, Aug. 11, from 8:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Spend the day with noted shorebird expert and nature photographer Kevin Karlson. The event will include 90-minute bird walks at 8:15 and 10:15 a.m., led by Karlson, and a talk on “Tips on Becoming a Better Birder” at 12:45 p.m. At 1:45 p.m., Karlson will discuss and show images from his latest books. At 2:30 p.m., he and another noted photographer, Lloyd Spitalnik, will lead an hour-long wildlife photography workshop. All events are free, but you must sign a standard liability release for 2012 if you have not already. To R.S.V.P., contact Don Torino of the BCAS at greatauk4@aol. com or 201-230-4983.

North Arlington

• American Legion Alexander P Stover Post 37, 222 River Road, North Arlington, will meet on Aug. 6 at 8 p.m. All veterans are invited to attend. For information, call 201-214- 8253.

Nutley

• Nutley Parks and Recreation and the Ladies Auxiliary of VFW Post 493 are hosting a beefsteak dinner on Friday, Sept. 14, at the Parks and Recreation gym, 44 Park Ave., Nutley, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 per person (BYOB) and can be purchased at VFW Post 493, 271 Washington Ave., or by calling (973 235-9661) or Danielle at 862-226-9345 or Annette at 973- 661-4671. Chicken is available for those who don’t eat beef, but must be ordered when tickets are purchased.

• Nutley Public Library hosts Matinee Fridays: Classic Films weekly at 2 p.m. Please check the monthly calendar, flyer or Facebook for the titles of the films.

Patrons are invited to play bridge at the library on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. No registration is required.

The library’s Manga/Anime Club will meet on Aug. 6 and 13, at 2:45 p.m. No registration is required.

P.J. Story Time will be held at the library on Monday, Aug. 6, at 7 p.m. No registration is required.

The library’s Tuesday Evening Knitting Club will meet on Aug. 7 at 7 p.m. Come share your love of knitting and crocheting with both beginning and experienced knitters. Meet fellow knitters, brush-up on your skills, and learn some new techniques. Please bring your own supplies. This group meets the first Tuesday of every month.

The library will host Magic Night in Story Time Room for teens on Tuesday, Aug. 7 and 14, at 7 p.m.

Teen Video Game tournament will be held at the library on Wednesday, Aug. 8 and 15, at 2 p.m. No registration is required.

Two-Year-Old Story Time will be held at the library on Friday, Aug. 10, at 10 a.m. Registration is required.

No registration is required for the library’s Saturday Story Time, to be held on Saturday, Aug. 11, at 10 a.m.

Registration is required to join the Lego Reading Club for the next meeting on Saturday, Aug. 11, at 1 p.m. and the Craft Book Club, for grades 3 to 6, which will meet on Tuesday, Aug. 14, at 11 a.m .

• Nutley Department of Parks and Recreation announces that registration is open for the fall session of Zumba Fitness, open to Nutley residents only. This program, taught by Yolanda Merritt, a certified Zumba Instructor, will incorporate the hottest Latin rhythms with the newest dance moves to heat up your exercise routine. Classes will be held at the Recreation Annex building, 65 Bloomfield Ave., on Tuesdays and Thursdays, beginning Sept. 4, from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. A fee of $60 will be charged for this eight-week program.

Pre-registration is required for Zumba. Online Registration is now available at www.nutleynj.org or applications are available in the Recreation Office, 44 Park Ave. Limited space is available. For more information on Zumba or on any recreation programs, please contact the Recreation Department at (973) 284-4966, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Future sports voices get head start at Beck-Eagle Sportscasting Camp

Photo by S.R. Smith./ Kearny’s Ryan Miller (c.) participated in the recent Bruce Beck-Ian Eagle Sportscasting Camp at Montclair State’s Yogi Berra Museum. With Miller are Eagle (l.) and Beck (r.).

 

By Jim Hague

Ryan Miller is a 12-yearold Kearny resident and a big sports fan. The soon-to-be eighth grader at Lincoln School is a fan of the New York teams, namely the Mets, Jets and Knicks.

“I really get into it,” Miller said.

So when he saw an advertisement on television for the Bruce Beck-Ian Eagle Sportscasting Camp, Miller knew that it was something that he wanted to do.

“I was real excited,” Miller said. “I was more encouraged to do it.”

However, most of the students attending the weeklong camp at Montclair State University and the Yogi Berra Museum were much older than Miller. But the famed organizers and instructors at the camp made Miller feel at home.

“I didn’t feel intimidated,” Miller said. “They were great. They all made me relaxed. They were telling stories and jokes. I got really interested in it.”

Miller said that he might want to pursue sportscasting in the future.

“It opened the door to see what I could probably do as a career,” Miller said. “I learned a lot about the relationships you make with people. I’m definitely glad I went.”

Miller was one of two local residents to attend the camp, headed by Eagle, the play-by-play television voice of the Brooklyn Nets on the YES Network, as well as football and college basketball coverage on CBS, and Beck, the sports anchor on WNBC-TV Channel 4.

The camp featured guest appearances from famed sports broadcasters like Chris Carrino, the radio voice of the Nets, Tina Cervasio of the MSG Network, Kenny Albert of FOX Sports and MSG and Kim Jones of the NFL Network.

The campers also had a chance to interview former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree, got a chance to call the play-by-play for a Somerset Patriots game and as an added bonus, spent some time with New York Yankees Hall of Fame legend Berra, who made a surprise appearance.

Photo by S.R. Smith./ Bloomfield’s Zach Smolen (c.) was pleased to be in the presence of Ian Eagle (l.) and Bruce Beck (r.) at the famed sportscasters’ camp at Yogi Berra Museum

 

“Yogi had not been back to the museum for a few months,” Beck said. “We didn’t know if he would be able to make it. But he loves being with the kids and wanted to be with them. Yogi has that genuine warmth and it was special to see the interaction with the kids.”

It was the 11th year that Eagle and Beck have joined forces to hold the camp for aspiring sportscasters.

“It’s very exciting, because it gives kids a great opportunity to learn some of the nuances of being a sportscaster while also having a week of fun,” said Beck, who left soon after the camp to cover the Olympics for NBC Sports. “We’re able to give them a little exposure to the business at an early age. Maybe they can pick up something from the week. It’s not all about broadcasting. It’s about other things as well.”

“We’ve had kids of all ages over the years and it’s very gratifying,” Eagle said. “Many of our campers go on to study broadcasting in college. We’re planting the seeds at an early age. If we’re able to encourage them to pursue broadcasting in the future, then it becomes a memorable experience. All these kids are getting a head start, learning the nuts and bolts. I didn’t get an opportunity like this when I was a kid.”

Eagle is proud that some of the camp’s products have moved on to professional broadcasting, like Scott Braun of the MLB Network and Justin Antwile, the voice of the Somerset Patriots.

“It’s nice that we’re able to have a personal connection with the kids,” Eagle said. “Not everyone gets a chance to become a broadcaster, so we teach them a little bit about life lessons as well. Bruce and I are living out a dream, doing what we love, but we’ve proven that it’s attainable. There are so many more avenues to do this now with technology, the Internet. The business has changed. The tapes don’t lie. If you’re talented, you’ll get the opportunity. It’s not handed to you, but you can get the chance.”

Zach Smolen is a 15-yearold soon-to-be sophomore at Bloomfield High School.

“I have a teacher, Brandon Doemling, who had a flier about the camp and gave it to me,” Smolen said. “He knew that I was a big sports fan and that this would be right down my alley. I was really excited about it.”

Smolen is a fan of the Yankees, Giants, Nets and Philadelphia Flyers.

“I play baseball all year round,” Smolen said. “I’m on travel teams and Babe Ruth teams. So sports is a major part of my life. As for the camp, I was a little nervous, because I didn’t know anyone there. But once I got there, it was much easier.”

Smolen said that he was happy to get a chance to interview Giants Super Bowl hero Tyree.

“I got a one-on-one interview with him,” Smolen said. “I tried to be very professional instead of being a fan. I remember watching his catch in the Super Bowl and getting so excited. It was fantastic to get a chance to interview him, a once-in-alifetime experience.”

Miller learned a lot about what it takes to become a sportscaster before an event.

“I learned about all the preparation and hard work that goes into becoming a sportscaster,” Miller said. “I have a better appreciation now for what they do. It was a great experience.”

Miller said that he loved meeting the legendary Yogi Berra.

“It was really cool,” Miller said. “He’s a famous player. He had a few words for us, but he said that if being a sportscaster is what you want to do, then you can get there if you try hard enough. It was great.”

Smolen had met Berra once before at a New Jersey Jackals game.

“I waited on line to get his autograph,” Smolen said. “This time, I got to talk to him a little and it was really exciting.”

Smolen was inspired to perhaps pursue sportscasting as a career.

“It definitely helped a lot,” Smolen said. “It seems like an incredible job. I think I can do it. It encourages me.”

Smolen was also glad to have met Beck and Eagle.

“It’s going to be something, watching the Olympics and seeing Bruce Beck there,” Smolen said. “I can say that I know that guy. I already knew relationships were important, but preparation is also a key. I look forward to going again next year. It’s still amazing I got this opportunity.”

Lyndhurst Post 139 moves on to state Legion tourney

Photo by Jim Hague/ Lyndhurst graduate Jimmy Fitzpatrick has been a integral part of the Lyndhurst Post 139 team winning the District 1 tournament title and advancing to this week’s state tourney in West Windsor.

 

By Jim Hague

When Mike Voza took over the head coaching reins of the Lyndhurst Post 139 Senior American Legion baseball team last year, he wanted to be able to uphold the rich tradition of the Post 139 program.

After all, it was only four years ago that Lyndhurst Post 139 won the New Jersey State Tournament, bringing the Post its first overall state title since 1968. But every year, team general manager and coordinator Jerry Sparta has assembled a competitive roster and expects Post 139 to do well come District and State tournament time.

Voza well knew the demands of the head coaching role.

“I played for Post 139 in 1986,” Voza said. “We finished third in the District that year. In 1988 and 1989, I was an assistant coach. I’ve been a member of the Legion for practically my entire life. I have a tremendous amount of pride being asked to coach this team and to be associated with this team. I wanted to make sure that we had a successful season.”

Well, it appears as if Lyndhurst Post 139 is living up to expectations.

The team is headed to the overall state championships that were scheduled to begin Tuesday at Mercer County Park in West Windsor. Lyndhurst was paired to face Haddon Heights in the opening round of the state tourney.

Post 139 defeated Livingston and Union to advance to the District 1 championship round at Gardner Field in Denville. In the title game, Lyndhurst defeated Mount Morris of Morris County, 4-2, to win the District 1 crown.

“I’m very pleased,” Voza said. “If someone would have told me on Memorial Day that we would be playing for a District championship, I’d sign on the dotted line for that. What else can you ask for? We have a group of kids who play well together, who work hard and who are confident.”

Voza was asked for the reason why his team has done so well in postseason play.

“Pitching, pitching and more pitching,” Voza said. “In four tournament games, we gave up a total of five runs. We went out and targeted pitchers. We wanted to get pitchers on the roster. We went after pitchers at the expense of perhaps getting a heavy hitting outfielder. We wanted pitching.”

That strategy has worked to perfection, because Lyndhurst Post 139 has been brilliant thus far. Kevin Rehbein got things going with a three-hit shutout against Little Ferry in the Bergen County tournament, then Ryan Kelly and Bobby Miskura have followed suit in the District 1 tourney.

Kelly went six innings in the team’s win over Livingston, with Elvis Soriano finishing up to get the save. Miskura has been a workhorse, going the distance in an 8-2 win over Union, walking none and striking out nine.

“We knew all along that he was a talented pitcher,” Voza said. “He’s also a valuable defender when he’s playing shortstop. I didn’t have to worry about him. I knew what I had.”

Post 139 suffered a significant loss recently when former Harrison High School standout hurler Anthony Ferriero had to curtail his activity with the team because of his collegiate commitments to FDU-Florham, where Ferriero will attend and play baseball.

“He has not pitched a lot for us lately because he’s been on the FDU-Florham campus,” Voza said.

Another valuable pitcher for Lyndhurst has been Max Herrmann, who got the ball for the team’s District 1 title game Sunday against Mt. Morris and led the team to victory.

In the bottom of the first inning, Jimmy Fitzpatrick got hit with a pitch, then Miskura battled through a 15-pitch at-bat to hit a two-run homer, giving Lyndhurst the lead. Fitzpatrick, who became a huge factor for Post 139, serving as the team’s leadoff hitter, had a sacrifice fly for an RBI in the next inning, giving Herrmann all the runs he would need, going the distance.

“Fitzpatrick has been tremendous for us,” Voza said of the recent Lyndhurst High grad. “He’s been our spark plug since we made him the leadoff hitter.”

Rehbein has been a godsend as both a pitcher and infielder. The recent Lyndhurst High School grad, headed to Rutgers- Newark in the fall, has been a clutch performer, delivering two-run singles in both wins against Livingston and Union.

“As a pitcher, he throws free and easy,” Voza said of Rehbein. “He throws strikes. I always knew he had the talent to pitch. But he’s been hitting the ball very well, delivering in the clutch.”

Voza, who is assisted by Jay Huggins and Jeff Puzo, said that he’s enjoyed coaching this group.

“They make for a nice atmosphere,” Voza said. “The other coaches suggest changes and I make them on their suggestions. They recently suggested a change in the batting order and it worked out well.”

Voza can’t say more about the team.

“They are tremendous kids,” Voza said. “They show up every day. They are extremely coachable. When the game is over, they can’t wait to play another game. We’ve made a nice run and we expect to keep it going this week.”

A long-time basketball connection reunited at Kearny hoop camp

Photo by Jim Hague/ The Kearny PAL Boys’ Basketball Camp, held recently at Schuyler School, was a success. Front row from l, are Michael Rotondo, Harry Carter, Michael Moyano, Blaise Edwards and Andrew Shenoda. Back row from l. are camp director Bob MacDonnell, New Jersey State PAL Director Tim Dowd and Jersey City Recreation Director Joe Macchi.

 

By Jim Hague

When Bob MacDonnell was beginning his basketball coaching career some 30 years ago, he was coaching CYO basketball at Our Lady of Mercy in Jersey City.

One of his first pupils was a young point guard named Joe Macchi.

“He taught me two principles back then,” Macchi said.“He taught me discipline and defense. That was driven into my mind back then and stayed with me.”

Last week, MacDonnell and Macchi had a reunion of sorts, as MacDonnell served as the camp director for the Kearny PAL Basketball Camp at Schuyler School.

MacDonnell has been coaching basketball ever since, including his latest job as an assistant coach at Berkeley College in Newark. Macchi became a standout player at Marist, then Jersey City State College. He went on to become a head coach at St. Peter’s Prep and currently serves as the Director of Recreation in Jersey City.

More than 50 youngsters participated in the week-long camp run by MacDonnell.

“I think it’s very important that we have camps like this, to keep the interest of basketball in Kearny,” MacDonnell said. “Some of these kids never played organized basketball before. It was a first-time experience for some of them. So we wanted to make the experience as positive as possible.”

MacDonnell, who was a subvarsity coach at Kearny High School for many years, said that he was pleased with the turnout.

“I was pleasantly surprised with the turnout, especially since we had kids from four different towns,” MacDonnell said. “I actually enjoyed it. We were able to blend the kids who were learning for the first time with the more experienced kids. There were some talented kids there. It wasn’t like we were working from scratch.

Added MacDonnell, “I realized that a lot of these kids, especially the ones from Kearny, could play. The talent level is unbelievable and that’s without any real training or coaching. The kids just love to play basketball and they want to play.”

Macchi, who guided St. Peter’s Prep to its first Hudson County championship in more than 30 years in his tenure there, was happy with the way the kids listened and took to what he had to say.

“The game is the same,” Macchi said. “It’s still basketball. I was glad to have that audience and I was able to show my love for the game. The passion is still there for me and it’s there with these kids.”

Macchi was hopeful that the campers took just a small morsel of what he preached home with them after the camp was over.

“If they took only one thing, then it was worthwhile,” Macchi said. “I can’t expect them to absorb everything. We tried to do things that would be beneficial to them down the road. We gave them drills that they can work on at home.” Macchi said that he conducted a question-and-answer session with the campers after he was done.

“I was really impressed with the questions they asked,” Macchi said. “They proved to me that they really wanted to learn.”

Zach Latka is a 15-year-old sophomore at Kearny High School.

“I learned a lot and I had a lot of fun,” Latka said. “I worked on my dribbling, my passing, my shooting. It’s going to help me a lot to prepare for the upcoming season.”

Latka has been spending the summer playing AAU basketball for the Kearny PBGC.

“Coming to the camp will encourage me to play more,” Latka said. “I want to play basketball in college, so this was a good step for me. I’m going to work hard to get to my goals.”

Gralen Vereen is a 12-yearold who attends Schuyler School. Vereen is one of the up-and-coming talents that caught MacDonnell’s eye.

“The thing I learned more than anything else is having the right attitude,” Vereen said. “I know that I have to work hard to get better, but I need to have the right attitude when I play.”

Vereen said that he’s a big Oklahoma City Thunder fan and follows the play of All-Star Kevin Durant very closely.

“Someday, I hope I can shoot like him,” Vereen said. “I need to grow a little more, too.”

Michael O’Donnell is a 13-year-old rising star from East Newark.

“I had a lot of fun,” O’Donnell said. “The coaches were fun and the counselors were fun. It’s really going to help me a lot. I think I learned about good sportsmanship, that no matter how bad things get, I have to remain focused. I also can’t let things get in my head when I make a mistake; that I have to keep playing.”

O’Donnell was also encouraged to keep playing.

“I think coming to the camp taught me that I have to work hard to become a better player,” O’Donnell said. “Basketball is more than just shooting. You have to do a lot of different things.”

Like O’Donnell’s favorite team, the Chicago Bulls, and his favorite player, Derrick Rose.

“I’m not there with him yet,” O’Donnell said. “But maybe someday.”

Going to a summer camp can put a dream in the head of practically every kid.

“I’m extremely happy with the way it turned out,” MacDonnell said. “Without a doubt, this is where it all starts.”

MacDonnell was thankful for the support he received from the New Jersey State PAL, headed by director Tim Dowd, who also made an appearance at the camp. The New Jersey State PAL and Berkeley College were the cosponsors of the camp. MacDonnell is a retired Kearny police officer.

“It brought back memories to the days when I first started playing basketball,” said MacDonnell, who played high school basketball at Marist in Bayonne. “This was a positive first step for a lot of them.”