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Post 99 is 95!

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY -  Ninety-five years ago this week — Aug. 19, 1919 — 13 veterans of the Great War, as World War I was then known, gathered in the Kearny home of Fred E. Portz to organize a local chapter of the American Legion. […]


Pressing for bridge funding

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  LYNDHURST –  Lawmakers from all levels of government, led by State Sen. President Stephen Sweeney, assembled for a press conference on the banks of the Passaic River Aug. 12 to declare their support for a replacement for the 109-year-old DeJessa Memorial Bridge that links […]


Facing a new gun charge

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY – A Kearny man, who two years ago accidentally shot himself in the jaw with a Smith & Wesson .38 revolver, was arrested last week in Newark on weapons charges. This time, authorities said, he was in possession of an AR-15 assault rifle. […]


New spin on house party

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY– A house-party host got a bit more than he bargained for when he hired a disc jockey for the festivities and an “associate” robbed him at knifepoint, Kearny police reported. Thanks to some determined detective work, the alleged assailant was tracked (pun intended) down […]


Cops nab suspects in stabbing, theft

LYNDHURST – The Lyndhurst Police Department last week announced the capture of suspects wanted in connection with a stabbing at a local entertainment spot and with a residential theft. On Monday, Aug. 11, at about 2 a.m., police were called to the Riva Blue night club, 525 Riverside Ave., […]


Path to progress



Harrison’s newly upgraded N. Fifth St. pedestrian bridge has been reopened for public use.
Rocco Russomanno, the town’s construction official, said the job came in under budget, at about $514,000, below the $525,000 allocated for the project.
It took Navka Construction Co., of Newark, the general contractor, five months to complete the renovations, which included an improved deck, construction of a handicapped access concrete ramp to accommodate wheelchairs and new steps leading to the deck from the bridge’s south end.
The span provides a link for pedestrians to access an entrance to West Hudson Park, which straddles the Kearny/ Harrison border.

– Ron Leir

BREAKING NEWS: Deadline extended for flood insurance claims

New Jersey policyholders who suffered losses as a result of Hurricane Irene damage (Aug. 27 through Sept. 5, 2011) have been given an extension to file the Proof of Loss (POL) form with the insurance company handling their claim.

National Flood Insurance officials said that New Jersey policyholders now have 150 days from the date of the event that caused the damage to file the POL, or until January 23, 2012.

The claims process starts with the affected policyholder contacting his/her insurance agent, reporting the property damage and meeting with an adjuster.

The adjuster may, as a courtesy, provide a POL – which is the statement of the amount claimed under the NFIP policy  - but the property owner is responsible for making sure that it is complete, accurate and filed in a timely manner. It must include a detailed estimate and other supporting documentation to replace or repair the flood-damaged property, and must be signed and witnessed.

If the property owner notices additional damage after the POL is submitted, the owner may file a supplemental Proof of Loss documenting the newly discovered damage. This, too, must be within the time period allowed by the extension.

If the claim for additional damages is presented after the extension period, the insured must request a waiver of the time limitation from NFIP in order to submit the supplemental claim.

Those who wish additional information on flood insurance or who have questions or concerns about their flood insurance should contact their insurance agent or visit www.floodsmart.gov.

Care for Kentucky ARRIVES!

Photos by Anita Madden


By Anthony J. Machcinski

Imagine graduating high school, being handed your diploma and essentially being told, “Here’s a shovel – time to go work in the mines,” without vacations, days off, holidays, for the next 50 years or so while making next to nothing. This is the everyday life of the men, women, and children who live in Appalachia.
A couple of months ago, The Observer asked for volunteers and donations for Kentucky Care and our readers responded. All three of the 53-foot trailers were filled,
from floor to ceiling with donated items. In total, approximately 108,000 pounds
of donations were given to families in Appalachia.
We at the Observer wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to all who donated. In the
words of Gino Montrone, who orchestrated the first donations to Kentucky some
26 years ago, “You’ll never understand fully until you go down there.”
With that statement in mind, The Observer wanted to extend special thanks to several
people who were able to make this possible as well as to make our readers feel just
a little bit closer to the people in Kentucky who so greatly appreciate our help.
When Gino started donating 26 years ago, he got in contact with Bill Madden, who was
the principal of a school in Cordia, Kentucky. Bill’s wife, Anita, is one of the people
who have helped to organize the project in Kentucky.
“I’ve been working with Gino for 20 plus years,” explained Anita with her warm southern drawl. “He wanted to help underprivileged people in Eastern Kentucky. He came down with one truck the first time and it has grown since then.”
Anita has amassed several memories of the project over the years, but seeing these families each day while working as a school teacher has allowed her to gauge the
reactions of people who have received the donations.
“They’re just so appreciative,” Anita explained. “They’re face just lights up when they
see the truck. I mean, it really helps out a lot of people. They just can’t afford the things that are given to us.”

Local volunteers who helped pack the truck (from l.): James, Steve, Shawn, Bob


At the Lotts Creek Community School, Alice Whitaker works beside Anita. Alice, who
functions as the school’s Director and lives on the school’s campus, has spent as much time with the families as Anita has.
“The need is here and the fact that the New Jersey folks were so anxious to help, it’s
been wonderful,” Alice said happily.
Those involved in the effort have seen the issues down there and understand how
truly large the need is.
Alice described the problem with firsthand knowledge: “The economy here is coal
or no coal. It’s boom or bust,” she explained. “Most people don’t even profit when there is a boom. When it goes away, it leaves devastation behind.”
In Knott County, Kentucky, where Cordia is located, the average household income
was $11,297 according to the 2000 Census. Over a quarter of the population is below the poverty line.
While many of us here in the north are barely scraping the edge of knowledge of what
its like to see friends and family members lose jobs because of failing business, Observer Publisher Lisa Pezzola was able to go to Cordia, Ky. to see it firsthand.
“They don’t have much there, but they don’t know what they’re missing,” explained
Lisa, who first got involved with Kentucky Care after being friends with Gino.
“They’re just happy about the little things. The kids around here don’t realize what they have. I ordered a pizza and they loved it. It broke my heart.”


Photos by Anita Madden/ Kentucky residents enjoy Thanksgiving bounty from Kearny area donors

This lack of firsthand knowledge has not stopped people from volunteering. Shawn
Riordan was one of the people who volunteered to load the trailers here in Kearny. While Shawn states his reason for volunteering as working for a good cause, one particular experience stuck out in his mind.
“One gentleman brought a box of food,” Shawn said. “He told me when he was young
in Poland that the Americans who came brought food and he never forgot it and that he wanted to give back. I thought that it was nice the way he did it.”
Next to Shawn, helping to pack the truck and accept donations was Bob Hallenbeck.
“This is the third year I’ve been able to help out,” Bob said as he began to describe
a memorable moment. “This one woman who took all the clothes that she donated and
took them to the cleaners. She said she wouldn’t give someone dirty clothes.”
While giving to the needy, especially at this time of year and during this depressed
economy, it’s really the children that have the most effect on the volunteers.
“Its just the kids, they’re my main thing,” Gino said. “A bicycle to them is just the best. We had a total of almost 50 bikes this year, from tiny to nice off-road bikes.”
Gino even remembers things as little as a tube of lipstick that was exciting
to the children.
“The children were so excited that they took the stuff while they were working and
they were on the side putting lipstick on and laughing the whole time,” Gino
remembered. “They were so excited!”
“There was one little kid that was so excited to get some cowboy boots,” Alice
explained. “He was thrilled to death with those. ‘I can dance now,’ he said to me. Little
things like that tug at your heart.”
“There’s no place to go to eat. No buses, No transportation,” Gino said. “These kids
can’t go anywhere. They’re trapped.”
While many of us in New Jersey may fail to understand the happiness that our donations will bring to the nearly 1,200 people helped by this Care, you had only to be there with the recipients to understand the impact of these gifts.
“People who benefit directly are just in tears of joy,” explained Alice. “I remember
one little lady who just had tears streaming down her face.”
While only a few people are mentioned in this piece, so many more people helped out.
“I personally want to extend our thanks to the community because they did a tremendous job,” Lisa said. “If it wasn’t for the communities, we wouldn’t be this successful, and all the time the volunteers gave…It was everyone, from the people who
helped out loading the truck, to the police who helped with traffic, people like Chief Fire Inspector Chuck Kerr who helped get furniture from people’s homes. It really was a community event.”
“They’re the heroes, not me,” Gino said. “Alice, Anita, Bill. That’s all them, plus the people that donated.”
So from Gino, Lisa, Anita, Alice, Bill, and especially all the families who suffer day by day just to get by in Cordia, Kentucky, thank you. Without you, our loyal readers and those in our community, none of this would be possible.

Contract parleys collapse

Dr. Frank Romano



KEARNY – Kearny Board of Education’s efforts to land a new schools administrator have failed – at least for now.
The board, which has been searching for a permanent superintendent since the retirement of veteran educator Frank Digesere in June, had focused on the candidacy
of Frank Romano, currently superintendent of Franklin Lakes public schools in Bergen County.
To that end, in recent weeks the board had met several times in closed session to discuss possible terms of employment with the candidate.
But in a phone interview on Monday, Board President George King told The Observer
that: “I think we’re going to re-advertise (for the superintendent’s job). We weren’t able to take anything public to vote on.”
Asked if that meant that the board and Romano were unable to nail down an agreement on a potential employment contract, King said: “It looks that way. We’re back to square one.”
Efforts to reach Romano at press time on Monday were unsuccessful. An aide in the
Franklin Lakes public schools’ superintendent’s office said that Romano was “out of
King said that he was hopeful that the board could authorize extending the search
for a permanent superintendent sometime this week.
In the meantime, Ronald Bolandi continues as interim superintendent. Bolandi was hired in that capacity on June 20.
Romano is no stranger to Hudson County.
While working as an assistant superintendent for the Fort Lee public schools, he applied for the then-vacant post of schools’ superintendent with the Hoboken Board
of Education in 2010.
In February 2010, by a 7-2 vote, the Hoboken school trustees gave Romano a 3-year
contract at an annual salary of $190,000 with guarantees of 3.5% annual pay raises for
his second and third years on the job.
But, a short time later, Romano decided to withdraw, and, by the end of the school
year opted to accept an offer from the Franklin Lakes school district for a 4-year contract as top schools administrator at $189,000 a year.
Although the Franklin Lakes district is only K-to-8 with an enrollment of about
1,500 (as reported for the 2008-2009 school year) with no high school, as contrasted
with Kearny’s school population of more than 2,300 including a high school, King
said the Kearny trustees took into consideration Romano’s previous administrative experience with Fort Lee, with its approximately 3,500 students, including a high school.

Land parcels remain on selling block

Photo by Anthony J. Machcinski/ View of Porete Ave properties as seen from the ridge above, looking east.

By Chris Neidenberg

NORTH ARLINGTON - Two potentially lucrative parcels located off of Porete Ave.
continue to wait for buyers after the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC) failed to sell them.
The properties – totaling over 71 acres – will hopefully be turned into ratable plots for the borough.
In fact, a municipal development report describes the former Bethlehem Steel and old Bergen County Utilities Authority (BCUA) sites as key properties that could promote “the effective non-residential use of all the redevelopment area property, and to increase the property tax base. We had put them up for bid for a time last month but there were no parties interested in acquiring them,” NJMC spokesman Brian Aberback told The Observer, noting that had the properties been sold, North Arlington would
have had to approve any development plans.
Though NJMC negotiated receipt of the sites from the former owner, Aberback noted that they fall outside of the commission›s defined zone of jurisdiction.
He declined to elaborate or speculate on why there were no takers, saying only, “The commission is analyzing what its options are at this point.”
Previously, the NJMC negotiated to obtain the large properties from Cherokee Investment Partners, parent company of the now-defunct Encap Golf Holdings. The latter once proposed a massive residential development for the area, known in the borough as “Arlington Valley,” and extending into Lyndhurst and Rutherford. The plan also included entertainment and recreational uses, including a golf course. Yet, it fizzled due to various problems and was eventually scuttled.
In North Arlington, it prompted the borough to negotiate a settlement of its liabilities in the matter. Previously, the NJMC agreed to take ownership of the two major North Arlington parcels from Cherokee.
During the Encap controversy, borough officials refused to invoke eminent domain to force existing businesses off Porete Ave. to surrender their properties so the “Arlington
Valley” initiative could proceed.
With the collapse of Encap, the Borough Council opted to support the addition of new light industrial uses in the region, with the two larger sites serving as the anchor and the municipality›s biggest assets.
According to North Arlington’s Amended Redevelopment Plan, prepared by Heyer, Gruel and Associates of Red Bank, “The plan envisions the properties to create a regional light industrial area, encouraging infill development and rehabilitation of the
existing industrial buildings and lots on Porete Ave.”
The report continues, “The proposed concept for the Bethlehem Steel and BCUA sites envisions an attractive campus setting with landscaped buffers that will not detract from the views of the New York skyline from the residents on the ridge.”
The report describes the former Bethlehem Steel site encompassing approximately
41.2 acres and containing only a pumping station in the southern section.
It characterizes the old BCUA tract as comprising roughly 30 acres and being “irregular in shape,” with frontage along Schuyler Ave.
It contains the former BCUA transfer station, non-operational since 2002, as well as
the James Zadroga Soccer Field. The station is approximately 35-feet-tall with 166,000 sq. ft. of floor space.
Neither Mayor Peter Massa nor Councilman Joseph Bianchi, both of whom serve on
the borough Planning Board, could be reached. But Councilman Steve Tanelli said he
was “disappointed that the Meadowlands Commission could not find buyers and we
need to see why. For example, do they have a valid marketing plan to try attracting

Photo by Anthony J. Machcinski/ A view of part of North Arlington parcels that the NJMC tried, unsuccessfully, to sell.

In a telephone interview, Planning Board Chairman David Chamrowsky noted that,
after the Amended Redevelopment Plan was published, a board majority recommended a totally different type of use which the borough’s governing body has rejected, opting instead to stick with the light industrial approach.
The board subsequently voted to recommend rezoning the area for retail-type use,
featuring a “Clifton Commons’- type development,” he explained. “It would contain
businesses of the nature of a Sam’s Club, Costco and Home Depot, but the mayor and
council oppose it.”
Asked why this alternative was proposed, Chamrowsky replied, “Because the members
who voted for it felt it could generate more tax revenues than a light industrial use.
Thom Ammirato, spokesman for the mayor and council, said local elected officials
feel the site does not have good access for a major retail complex.
While Clifton Commons sits right off Rt. 3, a major state highway, that’s not the case in this location, Ammirato said. “It is not easily visible and the council feels that’s a
Further, in terms of erecting “big box developments” like a Home Depot, Ammirato said the mayor and council do not believe tax revenue would be substantially improved.
You need to maximize your ratables and the mayor and council feel there’s a better
chance to do that with light industrial uses,” he explained. “If you put in a Home Depot, you are going to have to also include a large parking lot.”

Bloomfield’s Wright’s Field holds groundbreaking ceremony

Photos by Jeff Bahr/ At groundbreaking, from l., are: Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, District 28; Mayor Raymond J. McCarthy; Michael Sceurman, Director of Recreation; Sabina O’Brien, Recreation Board Chairwoman; Nick Joanow, Bloomfi eld Councilman; Mark Wannat, American Little League President; Ben Contella, Recreation Board Vice-Chairman, and Megan Schaffer, Recreation Supervisor.




By Jeff Bahr

On a rainy and raw Tuesday, November 22, the Bloomfield Recreation Dept. held a
ground breaking ceremony at the Wright’s Field playground area.
The happy event was held in response to a $230,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) aimed at refurbishing the playground area. Bloomfield Director of Recreation, Michael L. Sceurman, moved the proceedings along swiftly to help avoid heavier rains that were forecast for the region. He pointed toward the recently bulldozed playground area and explained that the previous “outdated”
equipment had simply outlived its “service life” and that much of it wasn’t ADA
compliant: a situation that will be rectified with the new setup that will include “transfer stations” for those visitors in wheelchairs. Sceurman credited Director of Community Development Glenn Dominick as “instrumental” in furthering the development of Wright’s Field, as well as other parks and play areas in Bloomfield.
Before turning over the first spade of dirt, a jovial Mayor Raymond McCarthy spoke
about the project. “It was about 34 years ago that I came down here and I met my wife and we came down to play softball down here,” said Mayor McCarthy. “And I thought then, coming out of Hoboken, I thought it was Yankee Stadium. Now as I look around at all the work that’s been done, with the Babe Ruth field, the Little League field and now this field, I don’t know what to describe other than this is a great accomplishment!”
According to Sceurman, the new playground will be divided into three distinct areas: A section for children ages 2-12, another for kids 5-12, and an area that will feature
spring-loaded animals for children to ride on. Sceurman added that “barrier-free rubberized safety tiles” will be used throughout, and that the new facility would be finished in time for the opening day of Little League season.

A WORD WITH THE PUBLISHER: Delivering holiday joy




By Lisa Pezzolla

Deep in the hollows of- Kentucky, Thanksgiving was celebrated bigger and better
then ever by the folks in Knott County.
This year, the Kentucky Care trucks arrived late due to the overwhelming outpouring of donations and organizer Gino Montrone had a little setback.
Before heading down, Gino had to coordinate with the kids at the school to help unload the trucks. When I spoke to them the day after, the excitement in the voices of Cordia liaison Anita Madden and Gino were heartwarming.
This year, we doubled the number of families helped. The children were so excited with all the toys, clothes, and bikes. The simple things we take for granted on a daily basis are the greatest gifts these kids can get; new or used, it means something.
Please read the story in full and see the photos that the folks from Kentucky shared with us.
I want to thank everyone who donated and a special thank you to James, Shawn,Steve, Bob, Norman (Bogie), and Chuck Kerr for all the time they volunteered. To the firefighters and police, thank you for all the valuable time. It was a community effort all and all. Once again, thank you for putting a special smile on the faces of our friends in Kentucky

Don’t judge all cops by actions of few

Images coming across TV screens of late go beyond troubling. If you think I’m referring to the senseless acts of terrorism and the myriad atrocities playing out across our world, I am not. Terrible as these are, they already receive ink from a wealth of news sources. I doubt that I could cast any more light upon them.
What I am referring to is something that I had hoped had gone the way of the Edsel. But before I delve into this, let me first explain my perspective, lest misunderstandings
My family features two members who work as cops in one of New Jersey’s largest cities. They take their positions very seriously. I have nothing but respect for them and the many other career officers who strive for integrity and professionalism in their work. Therefore, what I am about to say about certain law-enforcement officials isn’t a nod to cheap journalism, but rather a plea on behalf of these dedicated public servants
whose good names and reputations will be sullied if a few bad eggs aren’t reeled in.
You may have noticed that the Occupy Wall Street protests are on the move. I have personally seen small groups assembling within our coverage area. These gatherings have been peaceful for the most part, with the exception of one incident that I witnessed personally. It involved a lanky student protester and a rather large cop.
As I was sitting at a stoplight in my car, I saw the two men exchanging words. OK, these things can happen. But then something alarming occurred. As the protester remained seated, the cop inexplicably pushed him. In no way, shape or form was this
citizen inciting the crowd, challenging the officer, or attempting to resist arrest. Yet he forcefully pushed him. Luckily, the matter ended as quickly as it began without any apparent injury to the student.
Recently, a few cops sprayed military-grade pepper spray directly into the faces of seated, non-violent protesters at UC Davis, California. The act was so over-the-top and sadistic that School Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi denounced it as “appalling.” The two officers involved in the incident were suspended from duty on Nov. 20. Their final fate
hangs in the balance.
If the moral of this isn’t already apparent to you, it should be. Police officers move throughout our communities each and every day. The vast majority keep the peace by assisting those in need and arresting those who have broken the law. In order to do
their jobs properly an element of trust needs to be maintained with the very citizens that they serve. When rogue cops like the aforementioned bullies come “off of the rails,” so to speak, it obviously does harm to those citizens that they have pushed, peppersprayed, or otherwise assaulted without cause. But an even more insidious form of damage will exist long after the incident has passed.
After watching the UC Davis incident on TV, one of the cops in my family put it bluntly: “Man, this isn’t good. It’s hard enough for us out there! These cops obviously don’t have the right temperament for the job, but in the end it won’t be just them who
end up hated and mistrusted – it will be all cops.” No matter where your views on the current protests fall, truer words have never been spoken.
— Jeff Bahr


To the Publisher:
To the person who found my house and car keys, a great big thank you. I lost them on Tuesday, Nov. 15, near the Henrietta Benstead Center. It was very thoughtful of you to leave them on top of the mailbox at the Senior Center.
Some friends and I had asked St. Anthony for help in locating the keys. The next day, I received a phone call informing me that the keys were found. We honestly believe He answered our prayer through you. Thank you.

Catherine Pirrello

Kearny UEZ to hold tree lighting


Photos by Linda Kraus-D’Isa/ Scenes from last year’s event. Decorations in front of town hall (top). Carolers along with Santa and Kearny Mayor Al Santos

By Anthony J. Machcinski

With Thanksgiving officially crossed off the calendar, residents of the area can now
focus solely on the Christmas season. Whether it’s seeing the houses lit up around the area or going to a local Christmas tree lot to get the best pine, the Christmas season
just has a tradition that is unmatched by any other holiday. With that in mind,
the Kearny Urban Enterprise Zone (KUEZ) will be holding its annual tree-lighting ceremony.
The lighting will take place on December 1st, starting at 5:30 p.m. The event, sponsored by KUEZ with help from Midtown Pharmacy and River Terminal Development, has been a popular way for Kearny residents to kick off their Christmas
“The event has been very successful,” said KUEZ coordinator John Peneda. “Some
estimates of the past few years have had crowds over a thousand people.”
To help ring in the holiday season, the KUEZ has gotten several groups to perform
at the event. These groups include the Washington School Dream Team, Franklin
School 5th and 6th grade chorus, excerpts from Mater Dei Academy Drama Club,
St. Stephen Children’s Choir, and performances from Teen Drama and Stonehenge.
Among other activities, children will have the opportunity to sit with Santa and take a picture, providing their parents have their cameras with them.
The KUEZ has hosted the event for the past couple of Years. They see it as a way to bring attention to the town’s business district. The organization is hopeful that
people will do their holiday shopping here.
“The whole idea is to get people to come to the center of town and do some shopping,
but also keeping the town united,” Peneda explained. “Our member stores
charge only 3.5 percent sales tax, as opposed to the 7 percent in normal stores so
customers will save money by shopping in town.”
For Peneda, the event isn’t just about bringing savings to the town’s residents, it’s
about bringing the holiday spirit. The town has done this by putting up Christmas
lights on the telephone poles.
“It’s the Christmas season and like everyone puts lights on their houses, we like to
dress up the town,” Peneda said.
One new way the KUEZ hopes to provide the holiday spirit is through “Frosty’s Dance Party,” an event for children that will feature several beloved characters including Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, the Gingerbread Man, and even the Grinch.
While there is fun for the children, the parents also get a gift from the KUEZ. From
December 9th through December 26, curbside parking on Kearny Ave. will be free
in order to promote shopping in the KUEZ zone.
Even Mayor Al Santos will be in attendance, as he will help Santa light the tree.
“This tree lighting festival has become a wonderful start to the season,” said Mayor
Santos. “I encourage all residents to come out and enjoy the holidays in Kearny.”
The tree lighting will be held on Thursday, December 1st from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. outside of Kearny Town Hall.