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Strikeout for local umpire

Photo courtesy Steve Nash/ Umpire Steve Nash overseeing ball game.

 

By Ron Leir

KEARNY –

A longtime Kearny umpire is contesting a call made by the town, tossing him from his work on the basis of a prior criminal conviction.

Steve Nash, 49, a veteran of some 30 years of umpiring and officiating Kearny sports events, was barred from further participation in early April by Police Chief John Dowie, according to Nash’s attorney William Rush.

“At some point in approximately 2010 (Nash) pled guilty to a charge of theft for writing bad checks,” Rush wrote in a June 7 notice of claim for damages against the town. Since then, Rush said, Nash “has fulfilled all probationary obligations and has made full restitution.”

But Rush points out that the town never formally required criminal background checks for recreational employees and volunteers until May 24 – more than a month after Dowie’s directive – when the mayor and Town Council voted to introduce an ordinance mandating such checks. That ordinance, which was adopted June 26, lists “theft” as one of the crimes for which someone can be barred as a recreation employee or volunteer. It also specifies that the requirement “shall apply to umpires and referees.”

Rush says that his client was never “asked to submit an application for a background check for approval to umpire or officiate Kearny athletic events,” nor was anyone else asked to do so. And, when the town did the background check, Nash “had not been scheduled to umpire or officiate any Kearny athletic events.”

Rush notes further that the ordinance provides for no appeal process, which, he says, “is in clear violation of the New Jersey Rehabilitated Convicted Offenders Act.”

So far as it’s known, Rush adds, Nash “is the only person that Police Chief Dowie elected to review and recommend barring from future athletic events” even though he believes that two other individuals with prior criminal convictions are “still umpiring or officiating games.”

Therefore, Rush argues, “The Town and certain Town officials and employees have clearly and intentionally acted in a discriminatory manner towards (Nash) and further engaged in an organized and systematic plan to conceal its discriminatory behavior.”

Mayor Alberto Santos said the town would have no comment on Rush’s allegations because the matter is in pending litigation.

Rush said he can proceed “on two (legal) tracks.”

First, the town now has six months to “settle or disclaim” his client’s complaint or, failing that, “then we can go forward with a lawsuit against the town.”

An alternative course of action that Rush said he might pursue is to challenge the ordinance in state Superior Court “as a violation of state law.”

Rush has more than a professional relationship with his client. “Steve umpired my games when I was in Little League,” the attorney notes.

Nash, who says he started umpiring during his senior year at Kearny High School, characterized the town’s penalizing him as “very political. No other town that I’m aware of looks to do background checks (for umpires and referees). Even the state Department of Education, in its rules and regulations, is very clear that umpires and referees are exempt. … How could I be knocked down even before the ordinance was in place?”

As for the bad checks, Nash said: “I’ve made some mistakes in my life but I have never done anything to harm children.”

It’s not that he opposes background checks, Nash said. “I want them done if there’s a serial molester around. I have a daughter and she plays sports and I want her protected but there’s a process to follow – it can’t be arbitrary.”

As for his theft record, Nash said that if he were serving in a sensitive financial position, like the treasurer of the Little League, for example, it would probably make sense to ban him from participating. But to bar him from umpiring makes no sense to him.

Nash, who played football and baseball for Kearny High and coached for 10 years, said he hadn’t intended to “go public” on his plight but, in the end, he felt he had no choice. He said he was working in sales but lately he hasn’t been up to par, and, with three children in college, he will miss the income from officiating.

Because of the action taken by Kearny, some other communities have been reluctant to renew his employment.

“I’m also concerned about any repercussions against my kids,” Nash said.

“I’ve been umpiring 32 years,” Nash said. “I’ve done it without incident all these years. I’m a very good umpire; I’ve always gotten high evaluations wherever I’ve worked. This is not right.”

Dowie wouldn’t comment on the complaint filed by Rush but he said that the town has had a background check system in place for a number of years. He said the town Recreation Department has arranged for its employees and volunteers to get checked by the State Police and, if anything comes back indicating a prior criminal record, it gets red-flagged by Recreation and sent to him, Dowie said.

Dowie said he had no knowledge about any other people with prior records officiating for local athletic events.

Under the ordinance adopted by the governing body last week, “every current and prospective (recreation) employee or volunteer” must get a “name only” background check through the State Police and a federal fingerprint check. All fees charged for those checks will be paid by the town.

Applicants must “also agree to be fingerprinted by (a private) entity retained by the Town at a time and place in Kearny designated by the Town,” the ordinance states, “unless that person has been previously fingerprinted for employment or other service with the Town and those fingerprint records are available in the Kearny Police Department.”

Councilman Michael Landy, who chairs the Recreation Committee, estimates there are, over the course of a year, between 250 and 300 employees and volunteers who will be impacted by the ordinance.

DOT tackling Pike flooding … in 6 years

Photo by Ron Leir/ DOT engineer Kamlesh Shah reviews map depicting planned drainage improvements for part of Rt. 7.

 

By Ron Leir

KEARNY –

So you’re traveling on the Belleville Turnpike (Rt. 7), a rainstorm hits and it’s high tide. Next thing you know, your car is cascading through flood waters and you’re hoping you don’t lose your brakes.

Seasoned regional travelers are used to this predicament, driving through a sort of no-man’s land pocketed by marshes and creeks, but that doesn’t make it any easier to navigate, particularly on foggy nights with poorly-illuminated roads featuring one humpshaped stretch that makes you think you’re riding a bucking bronco.

Steady, motorists: relief is on the way, albeit slowly. The state Department of Transportation (DOT) is riding to the rescue, but at a trot-like pace, with work not expected to begin for another six years.

DOT engineers welcomed the public to a forum, held last Thursday at Kearny Town Hall, to outline – with the aid of some conceptual sketches – their plans for drainage improvements along a roughly two-mile stretch of Rt. 7 (between mileposts 1.7 and 3.8) prone to flooding.

In case anyone in the area needing reminding, a DOT statement notes that the flooding “often results in closure of the roadway, compromises safety of the roadway, disrupts traffic flow, and contributes to deterioration of the pavement.”

That excess water “overtops the road at several locations,” DOT notes.

The cause of this malaise, according to DOT, is “a combination of tidal flooding and lack of drainage systems within the (Rt. 7) corridor ….”

So what to do? DOT’s action plan calls for:

• Raising the roadway profile by as much as 2.48 feet where possible by dumping layers of asphalt on top of the 40-footwide road. DOT engineers estimate it will take some 40,000 tons – or 600,000 cubic feet – of asphalt – the equivalent of filling a football stadium to a height of 10 feet.

• Installing steel sheeting or concrete barrier curb along the roadway “where raising the roadway profile is not practical due to existing bridges that currently have substandard vertical clearances.” A clearance of at least 16.5 feet is required by DOT standards and that’s not the case at either the Turnpike’s eastern spur bridge or the Amtrak bridge, according to DOT.

• Installing new storm drain systems at 14 locations to move storm water from one side of the road to a suitable outfall.

• Building three new pump stations with treatment systems and pump pits to drain excess water during tidal surges before being discharged. Each station would be equipped with a main pump and a backup powered by natural gas. DOT would maintain the pumps.

With these improvements, engineers believe they’ll be taking care of “80% of the existing problems” – designed to deal with a high tide of up to 5.5 feet – but not enough to cope with a hurricane-force storm.

DOT engineer/project manager Kamlesh Shah projected the overall cost of the drainage improvements at $25 million and estimated the job would take two years to complete. DOT hopes to get 80% of the funding from the Federal Highway Administration, with a 20% match from the state, he said.

Right now, the project is in the initial design phase which is expected to cost around $1.5 million, Shah said.

The job, which would be bid out, probably won’t start in earnest until 2018, he said. Time is needed, not only to develop design specifications, but also to secure permits from a host of regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and N.J. Meadowlands Commission, which have jurisdiction over wetlands; the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection, the N.J. Historic Preservation Office and Federal Highway Administration, Shah said.

As the job proceeds, DOT plans to maintain traffic flow with at least one lane in each direction, with some intermittent shutdowns.

For David Newton, who runs Newrent Inc. Trailer Rental & Sales, a firm with a 60-year legacy, located on Rt. 7 off Sellers St., the job can’t start soon enough.

Newton, who came to DOT’s public meeting to learn more about the project, said: “It’d be nice if they did something about the flooding. Everytime it does flood, the police block the road (Rt. 7) from the top of the hill at Schuyler. And that disrupts my business.”

Also curious about what will happen was Stuart Engelke, chief engineer for WMCA/570 AM radio, which has a transmission station in the marshes off Rt. 7. During last fall’s hurricane, Engelke said, water came over a berm and damaged a catwalk. “It’s gonna cost us $1 million to fix it,” he said. The tower rising from the catwalk function as transmitters. “If any part of the tower goes under water, it shorts out,” Engelke said. “If that’s not there, we’re not on the dial.” DOT engineers advised Engelke to take up his problem with the Army Corps of Engineers and Engelke said the station’s been waiting for months for the Corps to permit repairs to proceed.

Meanwhile, DOT plans another Rt. 7 infrastructure improvement project – repairs to the 1,200-foot-long humpshaped bridge over Conrail property – two miles west of the Wittpenn (Rt. 7) Bridge.

DOT will replace its superstructure, from the deck up, and do minor repairs to its sub-structure, said DOT spokesman Joe Dee. The project is now in the “final design” phase and work is slated to start in spring 2014, he said.

4th of July thoughts

The Fourth of July has always been a huge holiday, with millions across the nation enjoying summer weather and barbecues. This year, the big summer holiday has thrown everyone for a loop, falling on a Wednesday.

If there was any indication that many were thrown for a loop with the day of the week the Fourth falls on, many towns celebrated the Fourth of July as early as June 29. Fireworks could be heard going up all over the area throughout the weekend. A week before, I overheard one man say, “Why are they celebrating it so early? It’s not celebrating the Fourth of July if it’s held on June 30.” At that moment, I explained to him that many towns in the area were probably trying to ensure themselves that residents would go out for the multi-million dollar displays if they weren’t held the night before they had to go to work.

Now… I sort of agree with him.

The Fourth of July isn’t like Thanksgiving, where you celebrate it on different calendar days of the year. It’s the Fourth of July and the birthday of America. You wouldn’t tell someone Happy Birthday a week and a half before it occured. If so, can someone please start wishing me a Happy Birthday two months ahead of time?

Regardless of the original subject of this rant, the purpose of the Fourth isn’t to celebrate a day off, it’s a day to celebrate all the freedoms living in this country has given us.

With that in mind, let me wish a Happy Fourth of July from all of us at The Observer to you and your families.

– Anthony J. Machcinski

 

Belleville man indicted

By Jeff Bahr 

Wakir Bryant, 28, of Belleville was indicted on June 25 for his alleged role in the death of two-year-old Mikhy Robinson, the son of a woman who he was dating.

A five-count indictment charges Bryant with reckless manslaughter, according to Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray. It also charges Bryant with hindering apprehension, endangering the welfare of a child, and two weapons offenses.

The indictment alleges that Bryant recklessly killed the boy in the child’s home on December 30, 2011 and then fled the scene.

Mikhy’s mother, who hasn’t been publicly identifi ed by authorities or singled out for any wrongdoing in the incident, claimed in a Star Ledger report that she awoke that morning to the sound of a gunshot. Moments later she saw her fatally wounded son and Bryant both stained red with blood. Bryant reportedly declared, “I’m so sorry,” repeatedly as he and the woman took the mortally wounded child to a hospital. Shortly thereafter, Bryant fled the scene. He was arrested later that evening.

Bryant’s original charge of aggravated manslaughter was downgraded to a reckless manslaughter count by the grand jury.

Bryant is currently incarcerated on $250,000 bail.

News in brief

 

Kearny Job Fair successful

Some 750 people turned out June 27 for a Job Fair, co-sponsored by the town and the North Hudson Community Action Corp., and hosted by the Kearny Public Library.

“The line stretched from the front door of the library around to Garfield (Ave.),” Mayor Alberto Santos recalled, “and it took about an hour for everybody to get inside but once they started, the line kept moving.”

Inside, representatives of 34 prospective employers, including corporations, big retailers, banks, hotels, home health care agencies and employment firms, were ready to welcome them at tables set up and down the library hallways, accept their resumes and enlighten them about job prospects.

Some got advice on how to apply for jobs – mostly entry-level – the companies were looking to fill.

Santos said there were Kearny residents and outof- towners, alike, among the job seekers. “We didn’t turn anyone away,” he said.

“It was a good community service we provided and we’re hoping we can do another one next year,” the mayor said. He commended Library Director Josh Humphrey for doing “a tremendous amount of work” to accommodate the throng that attended the event.

But before the town makes a commitment to schedule a follow-up fair, Santos said, “We first have to evaluate how this one went” so officials will know whether to retain the same format or to tweak it to handle things any differently.

As of press time, the mayor said it would be “too soon to know how many, if any, were actually placed in jobs.”

Asked whether Kearny itself was in a position to do any hirings, Santos said that the town found that possibility “still very challenging. In our Recreation Department, for example, we’re down to two individuals but, because an employee is out on sick leave, we need a part-time person.”

Government, in general, “is still in retrenchment” mode, Santos said. And, in harsh economic times like the present, “government lags behind the private sector,” he said.

In fact, as a potential cost-saving move, Santos said that town officials are “looking at contracting out fire dispatch services,” which has been done by three uniformed Fire Department employees, all of whom are retiring. “We thought that with these personnel leaving, it would be an opportunity to explore privatizing this area,” he said.

– Ron Leir

Streetscape taking shape

Neglia Engineering representative Kevin O’ Sullivan reported to the Kearny Town Council that some of the amenities for the Kearny Urban Enterprise Zone (KUEZ) Streetscape have started to arrive on site. Some of these amenities include decorative benches and trash receptacles that will line Kearny Ave.

The amenities are part of Phase V of the Kearny Ave.Streetscape that will extend the streetscape on Kearny Ave. from Midland Ave. to the railroad bridge just south of Columbia Ave.

“I’m happy to see that the amenities are almost here and that this project is finally getting closer to completion,” said KUEZ Director John Peneda. “I hope that the UEZ project fund will be restored by the governor and his administration, so that we could have the funds to complete the Kearny Ave. Streetscape for the remaining blocks.

Manufacturers for the project, according to O’ Sullivan, said that many of the other amenities are either currently in production or are in the process of being shipped.

-Anthony J. Machcinski

Radley St. hits ‘home stretch’

A challenging portion of the Radley St. renovation has finally been completed according to Neglia Engineering representative Kevin O’Sullivan. As of June 26, a concrete crew had been authorized to mobilize and begin work the following week. A tentative date for the projects completion has been set for the end of the summer.

Radley St. had been torn up to repair a sewer line. According to O’Sullivan, that sewer line has been finished and the contractor “had pumps running 24 hours a day” to test the new line. O’ Sullivan also said that the sewer “is functioning in its new state.”

- Anthony J. Machcinski

Cali gets new contract

The town council passed a resolution authorizing a two-year extension with Cali Carting for the collection of waste and recyclables for the town. The extension will run through June 30, 2013 at the cost of $1.35 million. The town and Cali Carting agreed upon a contract three years ago, with a town option for two more years at the $1.35 million rate.

“This is a very fair price. I’ve done some research and I doubt we would do much better,” Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos explained at the meeting. The $1.35 million is a $200,000 increase from the previous three years of the contract. Santos explained to the public that the amount of increase was written into the original contract.

- Anthony J. Machcinski

The brains behind the boom

Photos courtesy Garden State Fireworks

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

This week, millions of Americans will take to their local hillside or open field in order to celebrate the 236th birthday of America to watch an aerial spectacle as big as the birthday it honors.

Fireworks date back as far as possibly the Han dynasty in China around 200 B.C., but the Americanized version celebrating our country dates to America’s first birthday in 1777. According to history.com, Founding Father John Adams said that the Fourth of July “ought to be solemnized with pop and parade…bonfires and illuminations (a term for fireworks)…from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

Fast forward 236 years and the art of fireworks is as vibrant as ever, with aerial displays that artists of the 1700s couldn’t even dream of.

Photos courtesy Garden State Fireworks

 

Even technology, as simple as black powder and other formulas, has become so advanced, that even 20-minute pyrotechnics (the average time of many such events in the area), will take several days to perfect.

“Timing is everything,” explains third-generation fireworks expert Nunzio Santore, whose family has been in the business of creating displays for the past 123 years.

Garden State Fireworks, where Santore is the coowner, will be orchestrating the Fourth of July celebration for State Fair Meadowlands on July 3 and 4. The event is another challenge for the company that has won awards in Canada, France, and Spain.

Creating these fireworks is an art form in its own right, and could stack up with many other forms of art in its beauty and brilliance. As Santore explained, it’s not just throwing everything together. “You have to back-choreograph it (working from the back of the display to the beginning) in order to make sure that the shells will explode into the air at the right time.”

The average time spent on preparing displays depends on the type of display it is. Some displays, described as the traditional style by Santore, are organized around an opening, where different effects and displays are used, and a finale, which “always has to be the strongest part of the show.”

Other displays, and often the more time consuming of the styles, are musicals. Musicals combine music with the firework display. Timing is even more crucial during these shows in order to correctly line up the moment in the song with its aerial barrage. These displays rely on computers paired with back-choreographing in order to provide the precision needed to wow an audience.

Photos courtesy Garden State Fireworks

 

Along with the timing goes the creation of the actual firework as well. While every display and firework is different, the construction of the firework is generally the same. Each firework contains a bursting charge, stars, a fuse, and a delay, along with a black powder charge to propel the shell into the air.

The shell of a firework is a strong casing that protects the inside of the firework, a delay ignites the burst charge at the right time, then the burst charge ignites the stars, or effects, which are placed in the exact order that the producer wants them to explode.

Different colors are created by adding a chemical to the formula. Santore explained that among other colors, blues are formulated from a copper base and silvers, from a titanium or aluminum base.

While the technology has advanced since Augustine Santore first opened his fireworks plant in 1890, his descendants still keep many of his original formulas.

“Our formulations are very old, but are much safer than when (my grandfather) used them,” Santore explained.

Over the years, fireworks have become not only a celebration of America, but a metaphor for what America is – an ethnically diverse nation where everyone has his or her own part in the larger display. When watching the several displays across our area, appreciate the artistic freedom each group has, and most of all, celebrate the freedom we have as a nation to put on these displays.

Farmer’s Market is back for 7th season

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Kearny residents were treated to some of the culinary benefits of rural New Jersey when the Kearny Farmer’s Market returned to town on June 28. The annual event is currently in its seventh year as a main attraction for area residents.

“Anytime you can bring in fresh vegetables to the area it’s a good idea,” said Kearny Councilwoman Susan Mc- Currie, who helped bring the event into town.

McCurrie got the idea from surrounding towns such as Rutherford and Hoboken, who have their own farmer’s markets. When researching how to bring this event to town, McCurrie realized that Kearny posed its own unique challenges.

“Unlike other communities that have transportation hubs and train stations, we don’t have them,” McCurrie explained. “Our challenge was to find a way to put the market in a place with good foot traffic without having the extra boost provided by transportation hubs.”

While the town explored several options, one suggestion struck town officials as the best way to go.

“We started in front of Town Hall,” McCurrie said. Then it moved to a larger space in the parking lot across from Mandee Shops at Kearny and Bergen Aves. once the event “got big and successful,” she said.

Locating the event at the Kearny Ave. location benefited not only from foot traffic into the market, but it was good for area businesses as well.

“Residents from other areas such as Harrison and North Arlington are aware that we have a farmer’s market and they do some shopping around,” Kearny Urban Enterprise Zone (KUEZ) Director John Peneda said. “This creates more foot traffic for other businesses on Kearny Ave. It’s really a win-win situation.”

The track record built from previous years has generated excitement for this year’s event, which, in turn, led to the creation of a cookbook aptly titled, “The Kearny Farmer’s Market Cookbook,” an 81-page culinary anthology in which residents provided their own recipes to incorporate the numerous ingredients found at the market. Proceeds from cookbook sales benefit both the KUEZ and the Friends of the Kearny Public Library. The cookbook retails for $9.95.

Residents’ enthusiasm stems from the quality of the product they receive at the market.

“The produce is freshly picked, sometimes that morning, by the vendors who sell them so you know that it’s fresh,” Peneda said.

Vendors for the event come from Union Hill Farms, of Denville, and Alsteade Farms, of Chester. Kearny officials found them through the New Jersey Council of Farmers and Communities (NJCFC), a non-profit organization that serves as a liaison between farmers and market communities.

“It’s more than just providing healthy food,” McCurrie said. “It’s also helping support New jersey farmers.”

While the event has been financially viable, McCurrie believes that the market’s real success comes from the involvement of members of the community.

“You’ll find that the same people come here every year,” McCurrie said. “There’s a group of dedicated individuals that come here every year and see each other. It truly becomes a community event.”

The Kearny Farmer’s Market takes place every Thursday from noon until 6 p.m. in the parking lot across from Mandee on Kearny Ave. from now until mid-October. The fruits and vegetables offered vary according to the season, but include berries, peaches, lettuce, cabbage, and squash, summer staples such as corn, tomatoes, and melons, and early fall classics such as apples and pumpkins.

Around Town

Belleville

• The Belleville Irish American Association is sponsoring a trip to Wildwood/ Smithville/Ocean City/Atlantic City/Cape May from Sept. 9 to 13. Cost is $448 per person double occupancy, includes hotel, transportation, four breakfasts, four lunches and four dinners. Open to everyone. For itinerary or information, call Pat at 973- 751-5308.

Kearny

• The Rosary Society of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 136 Davis Ave., Kearny, is running a bus trip to Harrah’s Casino, Atlantic City, on Thursday, July 26. Cost is $10. The bus will leave from the corner of Bergen Avenue and Ivy Street at 9 a.m. Parking is available in the lot on Ivy Street. For seats and information, call Lucille at 201-997-3781 or Jean at 201- 991-4732.

• Art by students ages 5 to 12 is on display at Applebee’s Restaurant, Kearny. The display began on July 2 and will continue through July 8. The colorful content includes abstract art in the style of Piet Mondrain and challenging one point perspective drawing of a giant taking over the city. The artwork is by students in art classes, taught by Mrs. Mills, who also teaches free art classes for children ages 5 and up at the Kearny Main and Branch libraries. For upcoming classes at Kearny Public Library, check the library’s website, www.kearnylibrary. org or call 201-998-2666.

• Kearny Recreation Department’s annual July 4th fireworks and band concert begins at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 4, with a rain date of July 5. Please bring your own chair or blanket to Veteran’s Field. Children’s activities commence at 6:30 p.m. with pony rides, inflatable bouncers, face painting, sand art, strolling clowns performing mime and balloon art, and an array of some famous cartoon characters. Let’s all celebrate our nation’s Independence Day in a grand old fashion this Fourth of July!

• The Presbyterian Boys- Girls Club, 663 Kearny Ave., will open during July and August on Tuesday and Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m. Most members and guests are between the ages of 8 and 15. The summer program offers basketball, dodge ball, wiffle ball, kick ball, gymnastics, bowling bumper pool, air hockey, foozball, arts and crafts, ping pong and electronic games. Summer trips have been scheduled to the Mountain Creek Water Park (July 11), Red Bulls vs. Chicago soccer (July 18), Tornadoes vs. Jackals baseball (July 25), Bowcraft Amusement and Miniature Golf (Aug. 1), pro wrestling (Aug. 17). All trips are chaperoned by Kearny teachers. The club will be supervised this summer by a professional staff including Tom Fraser, former Lincoln School guidance counselor and members of the P.B.G.C. Board of Directors.

Lyndhurst

• The Masonic Club of Lyndhurst, 316 Riverside Ave., will present a course on boating safety on July 8. There will be a course on boating and N.J. Jet Ski Certification. Walk-ins are welcome. All classes start at 8 p.m. and will run to 4 p.m. The cost is $70 per person and everyone must complete eight hours of classroom time. For more information, call 862-686-3478.

• The Humane Society of Bergen County 221 Stuyvesant Avenue, Lyndhurst, NJ 201-896-9300, has a supply of all brands of dog food (FREE OF CHARGE) available to anyone who, due to unemployment, disability or any other financial difficulty cannot afford to feel their dog. Just stop by or call for more information. Hours Monday and Saturday, 10-4 p.m., Tuesday to Friday 10- 5:30 p.m., Sunday 11-2pm.

• Knights of Columbus Communion breakfast will be held on Sunday, July 29, at the Lyndhurst Senior Building, 250 Cleveland Ave., Lyndhurst. Breakfast will be served from 10-11 a.m. Tickets are $7 each. No tickets will be sold at the door. Pick up tickets at Sacred Heart Rectory, 324 Ridge Road, Lyndhurst, or call (201) 438 1147 or contact: Sal Russo at (201) 446 7244.

• Landscapes Transformed – Stories of Lost Landscapes of the Meadowlands, a program for seniors, will be held on Tuesday, July 10, at 2p.m. at the Meadowlands Environment Center, 2 De- Korte Park, Lyndhurst. From Glacial Lake Hackensack to The Meadow Primeval, the Meadowlands landscape has transformed through history. Using the interpretive signs created for the NJMC’s new River Barge Park as a starting point, Meadowlands Commission Parks Supervisor Katy Weidel will highlight lost stories of the Meadowlands. Pre-registration required: 201-777-2431. Note: Due to railroad repairs, visitors will not be able to access DeKorte Park via Valley Brook Avenue. Please visit www.njmeadowlands. gov or call 201-460-1700 for an alternate route.

• NJMC Pontoon Boat Tour will be held on July 10 and 11 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. 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.

• The Lyndhurst Masonic Club, 316 Riverside Ave.,is having a spaghetti dinner on Friday, July 6, from 5 to 8 p.m. Donation is $8 per person. For information, please call the Club: 201-933-1330.

• Readers of all ages will explore the night this summer as Lyndhurst Public Library presents “Dream Big –READ!” during its summer reading program. Activities may include programs of magical happening, artistic events, a cultural exhibit, trips through space and more. • The 2012 Summer Reading program offers Lyndhurst preschoolers to 6th grade crafts, story times, a reading club, and more. Families are invited to join the Read-to- Me portion of the program. Registration for “Dream Big-READ” is currently running through July 11. For more information, visit the library. All programs are free of charge.

Nutley

• Gail’s Angels Foundation will hold a night of fun, food, drink and bocce at Diamond Spring Beach Club, 35 Evergreen Ave., Nutley, on Thursday, July 12, from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. All proceeds will benefit the Gail’s Angels Foundation, which is a 501C non-profit charity dedicated to supporting women with breast cancer who have an autistic or special needs child. The “all you can eat menu includes ribs, sausage, chicken, hamburgers, cheeseburgers and hot dogs. There will also be bocce, 50/50’s, and a drawing for the “Ultimate Sports Fantasy Raffle” where one lucky winner will receive tickets to attend a game for all the major NY/NJ sports teams, including Yankees, Mets, Jets, Giants, Rangers, Devils and more. The event will be held outdoors, rain or shine. Tickets can be purchased for $40 from Jim McGuire by calling 973-626-4385 or email jmcguire7@gmail.com or Jim Babai at 973-868-1282 or email jrbabai@gailsangels.org. Plus, if you preorder tickets you will be entered into an exclusive drawing for a gift basket worth over $200. For more information about Gail’s Angels, visit www. gailsangels.org • Nutley Public Library patrons are invited to play Bridge on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. No registration required.

• Matinee Fridays: Classic Films will be shown at the library every week at 2 p.m. Please check the monthly calendar, flyer or Facebook for the titles of the films.

• P.J. Story Time will be held at the library on Monday, July 9 and 23, at 7 p.m.- no registration required.

• Preschool Story Time will be held at the library on Tuesday, July 10 and 24, at 10 a.m.. Registration required.

• An Environmental Workshop for pre-k-2nd grade will be held at the library on Tuesday, July 10, at 2 p.m. Registration required.

• The library’s Second Grade Reading Club will meet on Wednesday, July 11 at 1 p.m. Registration required. ( Preschool Story Time will be held at the library on Thursday, July 12 and 26, at 10 a.m. Registration required.

• The library will have Two Year Old Story Time on Friday, July 13 and 27, at 10 a.m. Registration Required.

• The library’s Lego Reading Club will meet on Saturday, July 14 and 28, at 1 p.m. Registration required. For more information on Nutley Public Library programs, call 973-667-0405 or visit nutley.bccls.org.

North Arlington’s Krychkowski named Observer Male Athlete of Year

Three-sport standout becomes third Viking honoree in last five years

Photo by Jim Hague/ North Arlington graduate Tyler Krychkowki (center, right) receives The Observer Male Athlete of the Year award from Observer general manager Robert Pezzolla (center, left). Flanking them are soccer coach Jesse Dembowski and Maureen Krychkowski, Tyler’s mother.

 

By Jim Hague

Tyler Krychkowski has been involved in sports for as long as he can remember. In fact, it’s probably even before that.

The recent North Arlington High School graduate began to play soccer in his hometown’s recreation program when he was still a toddler, just about able to walk, never mind run.

“I think I was about 4 years old,” Krychkowski said. “I really don’t remember exactly. But I remember that I was pretty good right away and that everyone wanted to play against me. I just spent a lot of time watching and learning.”

Krychkowski came from an athletic family, so that had to help. His late father, Steve, was a highly respected high school and college basketball offi cial who also worked for three decades with the game staff at all St. Peter’s College athletic events. His older brother, Tom, was a fi ne soccer player at North Arlington, who went on to play at New Jersey City University.

When Krychkowski was 8 years old, he added basketball to his repertoire. Again, he enjoyed almost instant success.

“I was pretty good at basketball right away,” Krychkowski said. “I loved how it came so natural to me. That defi nitely helped me later on down the road.”

His involvement in track and fi eld had to wait a bit, until he enrolled at North Arlington High.

“I was a freshman and I wanted to keep in shape for soccer,” Krychkowski said. “It’s the only reason why I joined the track team was to stay ready for soccer. But the more I did it, the better I got. By the time I was a junior, I realized I was getting pretty decent and decided to stay with it.”

Put all three together and you have the makings of one of the fi nest all-around careers in the history of North Arlington High School.

 

 

During his tenure as a Viking athlete, Krychkowski became one of the school’s all-time leading goal scorers in soccer, reached the 1,000-point plateau in basketball and broke two school records in track and field.

“Absolutely, I did more than I could have ever dreamed of,” Krychkowski said. “I always wanted to do well, but I never thought I could do this well. It was always a goal for me.”

For his efforts, Krychkowski has been selected as The Observer Male Athlete of the Year for the 2011-2012 scholastic sports year. Krychkowski is the 10th recipient of the award, dating back to fi rst honoree Hugh MacDonald of Kearny in 2003.

Krychkowski is the third North Arlington athlete to receive the honor in the last fi ve years, joining Mike Gross (2007-2008) and Peter Santos (2009-2010).

Krychkowski received his award recently from Observer general manager Robert Pezzolla.

“It’s a good feeling,” Krychkowski said upon receiving the award. “At the start of the season, I was hopeful that I could get the award at the end of the year. When I played with Peter Santos, I thought maybe I could fill his shoes if I worked at it and I could do what he did.”

Krychkowski was the Vikings’ leading scorer in soccer in each of the last two seasons, scoring 21 goals as a junior and an astounding 26 as a senior.

“He always worked hard and was always the leader,” said North Arlington head boys’ soccer coach Jesse Dembowski. “No doubt, his passion for the game was better than most. He was always just a phenomenal athlete. I knew he had the passion right away. He dominated the action 100 percent and always gave 100 percent effort all the time. It was always nice to know that when you needed Tyler, he was there. He did everything we asked of him. He was really the coach’s dream.”

Dembowski marveled at Krychkowski’s ability to score, even after he became a known commodity.

“He was being marked by two, sometimes three people and still broke away and scored,” Dembowski said. “It was amazing the way he was able to score with the way everyone was marking him. Besides being our best player, he was the one who fueled everyone else and helped them give the extra effort. It’s going to be very hard to replace someone like him.”

Krychkowski ended his soccer career with more than 90 goals scored in his four years.

North Arlington basketball coach Dave Walsh, who also coached Gross and Santos during their basketball careers, liked the way Krychkowski developed into a 1,000-point performer.

“You really have to be willing to make huge sacrifices to be able to do well in all three sports,” Walsh said. “I happen to know what that’s like (Walsh played football, basketball and baseball during his days at North Arlington). It’s not easy. Most kids now play soccer all year round, but Tyler was with us when we went to team camp at William Paterson in the summer. He gave it his all. He just evolved and got better.

Added Walsh, “He was a nice player, but like the fourth option when he was a sophomore, but then quickly became the main option his junior and senior year. That had to be difficult for him, because we had different players each time, but he changed the way he played to fit the team each year. He became a better all-around player and learned to pass instead of just shooting it.”

When Joe Cioffi became the head boys’ track and field coach at North Arlington two years ago, he didn’t know much about Krychkowski’s ability in track.

“But the one thing I did know about Tyler is that he was a pleasure to have,” Cioffi said. “I knew he was a leader. He brought a high level of energy and it was amazing to see, to have someone who could do that from August to June and never stopped. I never had to worry about where he was at. He always worked hard. Every event he did for two years, he got better.”

Krychkowski ended up setting new school records in the triple jump and in two relays. He competed in the long jump, triple jump and 400-meter intermediate hurdles – an event he tried for the first time at the Bergen County meet and finished third in his first attempt.

“He even started throwing the javelin by the end of the year,” Cioffi said. “He was just a tremendous athlete. I think a lot of what he was able to do comes with his maturity. He just took charge and did what he had to do every time. It was a remarkable thing to watch, seeing a kid work so hard and do so well. He’s just an exceptional kid.”

Walsh marveled at Krychkowski’s development.

“He really maximized his potential,” Walsh said. “I think it takes a special kid to be willing to be part of all three sports, but then to do that well? He’s a popular kid. He was good in all three. I think it’s one thing to be a part-time player in three sports, but it’s another to be good enough to contribute in all three. It’s pretty remarkable. We’ve been fortunate at North Arlington to have a few like that. Santos and Tyler had very similar careers.”

Krychkowski will now go on to attend New Jersey City University like his older brother. He will definitely play soccer there and may try out for the basketball team, depending on his schedule.

He was asked if losing his father early was a motivation.

“I think it made me work harder and push myself more,” Krychkowski said. “I know he would be very proud. I just wanted to be good at something. I didn’t know how good I’d become.”

Good enough to be The Observer Male Athlete of the Year.

Lyndhurst Legion baseball rolls along at 10-3

Photo by Jim Hague/ Harrison graduate Anthony Ferriero has been a solid performer as both a pitcher and first baseman for the Lyndhurst Post 139 American Legion baseball team that owns a 10-3 record and sits in second place in the Bergen County American Legion league.

 

By Jim Hague

The Lyndhurst American Legion Post 139 baseball team has a 10-3 record right now, but it’s a mark that doesn’t surprise head coach Mike Voza, even though the team is fi lled with newcomers to the roster.

“I don’t think I’m surprised with being 10-3,” said Voza, who began his second season as the head coach. “I’m surprised how we got to 10-3. We threw one game away to Clifton early on. We’ve had to play Bergenfi eld three times already. It’s been a good start and I’m happy where we are.”

Voza believes that his Post 139 squad is primed and ready for the postseason.

“We built this team to win a double-elimination tournament,” Voza said.

“We needed to get pitching and you can’t have enough pitching in those tournaments.”

With that in mind, the Lyndhurst squad is loaded with quality pitching.

“I couldn’t be happier with the pitching,” Voza said. “We need to hit a little better, but our pitching has been sensational.”

Post 139 posted three straight shutout victories last week, with Bryan Kelly and Anthony Ferriero combining for one three-hit 4-0 whitewash of Bergenfield Saturday.

“Kelly has been tremendous,” Voza said of the recent Rutherford High School graduate. “We want to be able to keep both pitchers fresh. Ferreiro is a workhorse. He would pitch every day if we gave him the chance. We’re fortunate to have a stable of pitchers, much like what you would find in the major leagues. We have at least 10 kids we can go to who can pitch.”

Kevin Rehbein, the former Lyndhurst High School standout headed to Rutgers- Newark in the fall, is another quality hurler. Rehbein fired a one-hitter last week against Kearny, striking out 15 in the process.

Elvis Soriano, a product of Wallington High, pitched a shutout as well against Bergenfield earlier in the week.

“At this level, to get three straight shutouts, is pretty remarkable,” Voza said. “It certainly makes things easier when you have that much quality pitching.”

Handling all that stellar pitching is catcher Danny Bielitz, a product of St. Mary’s High in Rutherford. Bielitz is not the biggest guy in the world, standing just 5-foot-6, but he’s done a great job defensively.

“He’s a tremendous (athlete). (He’s) received and blocks every pitch in the dirt.” Voza said. “He calls a great game and lately, he’s started to hit.”

First base duties are shared by Ferriero and Max Herrmann, the younger brother of Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Frank Herrmann. The younger Herrmann went to Montclair Kimberley Academy and resides in Rutherford.

Robert Miskura, another Rutherford product, is the team’s second baseman. He bats third in the lineup and has become the team’s main RBI producer. Miskura can also pitch as well.

Rehbein handles the shortstop duties when he’s not on the mound. Rehbein’s bat has begun to heat up in recent weeks.

Willie Krajnik, a Lyndhurst resident who attends St. Mary’s of Rutherford, is the third baseman. Krajnik is the team’s leadoff hitter.

Mike Rosamilia, another Rutherford High product, is the left fielder.

“Mike runs down everything in left field,” Voza said. “He covers a lot of ground.”

Felipe Flores, who enjoyed a breakthrough season at Harrison High in the spring, is the team’s centerfielder. Flores is also a quality pitcher.

“He’s been swinging the bat well for us,” Voza said. “It’s a nice luxury to have someone like Felipe who can play the outfield and pitch.”

Jimmy Fitzgerald, a recent graduate of Lyndhurst High, is the starting right fielder. Fitzgerald has caught fire recently, delivering five hits in his last nine at-bats with four runs scored.

The Post 139 unit has been getting solid play from utility players Walter Lazorczyk, who will return to St. Mary’s next fall, and Sean Byrne, a product of Harrison.

Voza likes the fact that he has three Harrison products in Ferriero, Flores and Byrne. All three of the former Blue Tide standouts can pitch and play the field, giving the Post 139 unit depth and versatility.

“All three have been great for us,” Voza said. “They’re there all the time. Byrne can play anywhere I need him. They’re good ballplayers who have all contributed.”

The team will improve when Anthony Dapuzzo returns to action. Dapuzzo missed a lot of time after having his tonsils taken out, but he’s set to come back later this week.

The Lyndhurst Post 139 squad currently sits in second place in the Bergen County American Legion league, trailing frontrunning Park Ridge. They are preparing for a berth in the upcoming league playoffs that begin July 18.

“We have a good chance,” Voza said. “I think we’re built to win that tournament. We’re playing well. All the kids are playing and contributing. We have a bunch of really good kids who are a pleasure to coach. It’s a good feeling all around.”

And all that should makefor an interesting rest of the summer f or the Lyndhurst Post 139 team.