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Easing the way over

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent LYNDHURST – State officials are still pondering what to do about the century-old DeJessa Bridge which links Lyndhurst and Nutley across the Passaic River but, in the meantime, Bergen County has done its part to try and relieve congestion there. At the urging […]

Last chance to sound off on dog park

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent KEARNY –  The town is preparing to let the dogs out but first it wants the owners in. For a public meeting, that is, on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 7:30 p.m., in the second floor Town Council chambers at Town Hall […]

Ice storm took its toll on local roads

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  By the time you read this, we all may be trapped inside by a blizzard — if the current weather forecasts are correct. But it doesn’t necessarily take heavy snow to create havoc. Sometimes, a coating of ice is sufficient. […]


Bracing for funding shift

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  For the past 37 years, the Kearny nonprofit Pathways to Independence Inc. has helped those with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live independently in their communities. Currently, from its 3-level, 18,000 square foot headquarters at Kingsland and Bergen Aves., it offers on-site […]


A new ‘acquisition’

Tim Bixler, of The Bixler Group Real Estate and Insurance and his wife, Charissa Bixler, welcomed their daughter, Addison Paige Bixler, on Tuesday, Jan. 20, at 1:20 p.m. Big brother Brayden is beyond excited. Only a few more years until […]






By Anthony J. Machcinski


A three-alarm fire forced one family out of its Belleville house on Mother’s Day. The fire took place in a two-story residential building located at 72- 74 Harrison St.

The Fire Department was alerted to the blaze that started around 12:35 p.m. on May 13 when 911 calls were received from area residents reporting smoke coming from the back of the building. When firefighters reached the scene minutes later, they found the fire to have already spread to the second floor.

The intensity of the blaze damaged much of the interior ceilings, causing floors to collapse. Once the building was evacuated, the fi refi ghters regrouped and fought to prevent the fire from spreading to adjacent homes – but not before the flames melted siding on those homes.

Still, residents on both sides of the fire were able to return to their homes within a couple of hours.

Mutual aid from Bloomfield, Nutley, East Orange and Kearny responded to the fire while West Orange and North Arlington fire companies provided coverage at Belleville’s Fire Headquarters.

Firefighters had to tap additional water supplies from mains on Mill St. and the Bloomfield water system due to the low water pressure.

“It’s a common thing that happens when you open that many hydrants in one area,” explained Belleville Fire Lt. Scott Wentworth.

Injuries were limited to one firefighter who sustained a shoulder injury and was treated at a local hospital.

No civilians were reported hurt but as the fire raged, a drama unfolded as one of the occupants worried that her husband might still be inside after her attempts to reach him on his cellular phone went unanswered. Firefighters braved flames and intense heat and searched the second floor for the resident, but were unable to locate him. However, the missing resident turned up at the fire scene several hours later, having left the building earlier in the day. He was apparently unaware of the fire.

Two adults and four children from the second floor apartment were relocated to nearby relatives with the assistance of the American Red Cross. The downstairs apartments of the residence were vacant.

The wood frame structure was declared unsafe for occupancy by the Belleville Building Department due to the severe fire damage. As of last week, the Building Dept. was still researching the building’s ownership.

The fire was declared under control at 4:30 p.m. and was completely extinguished a hour and a half later. As of the Observer’s press time, the cause of the fire was still yet to be determined.

Kudos for retiring fireman

Chuck Kerr


By Anthony J. Machcinski


When Chuck Kerr retires from the Kearny Fire Department on July 1, he will be taking home with him the Kearny Fireman of the Year award. Kerr ‘s award comes at the twilight of his career with the Fire Department, where he currently is the Chief Inspector of the Bureau of Combustibles and Fire Official for the town of Kearny.

“I was surprised and honored,” Kerr said. “It’s nice to be selected as fi reman of the year (since) your fellow firefighters select you. It’s always nice.”

Kerr joined the department in 1984 at the age of 24. After leaving his job as a fueling supervisor at Newark Airport, he took the state Civil Service tests for both the Police and Fire Departments in Kearny. Kerr placed 53rd out of 600 Kearny residents for a position with the Police Department, but 11th out of 600 with the Fire Department.

Hired along with Kerr that year, by the Fire Dept., was current Kearny Fire Chief Steven Dyl.

“He’s got a great deal of knowledge and has everything under control,” Dyl said of Kerr. “He has a lot of training. He’ll be missed.”

The award, presented annually, is based on a candidate’s service record and outstanding actions and is voted on by a committee of firefighters within the department. In recognition of his pending retirement, the committee hailed Kerr for lifetime achievements, both with the department and with the community at large. The ceremony was held in March.

Chief Dyl recalled that Kerr “was involved in the rescue of a firefighter who was injured in a fire at a chemical plant in 1993. They were fighting the fire on a loading dock and had to evacuate because the fire was advancing. One of the firefighters fell, severely injuring his back. He fell between two burning trailers and Kerr went and dragged him out.”

Kerr has also been lauded for his actions, along with two fellow firefighters, in saving a man who suffered a heart attack in 2000 and for selfless actions in connection with a fire on Forest Junction.

Despite receiving accolades for his deeds, Kerr remains humble, saying, “There’s a lot of things that you do every day, but I know those incidents were represented in the nomination and with presentations with the chief.”

“Chuck is a very caring individual,” Dyl explained. “He’s always willing to help people.”

Kerr’s pending retirement in July has allowed the 52-year-old to start working with a possible replacement.

“Hopefully, Inspector John Donovan will get promoted in my place,” Kerr said. “He’s been serving under me since 2008. … It was good to pass on what was passed onto me,” Kerr said. “Hopefully, if the town promotes someone to fill (Donovan’s) vacancy, he’ll do the same. Things get passed on generation to generation. You learn from the past, but you still keep learning the new things.”

After July 1, Kerr will look for a short retirement, hoping to find another job and get back into the workforce.

“Sometimes circumstances beyond your control dictate what you have to do,” Kerr explained. “I love my job, but sometimes, you just have to move on.”

Heated opposition dooms senior housing

Photos by Ron Leir/ An SRO crowd listens to testimony at last week’s zoning board hearing on the Domus application.


Photos by Ron Leir/ Domus architect Kurt Vierheilig describes layout of proposed senior project.


By Ron Leir


To the delight of a packed house of objectors, the Domus Corp., an arm of the Newarkbased Catholic Charities of N.J., failed to convince the Lyndhurst Zoning Board of Adjustment to approve construction of a government-financed residence for “very low income” senior citizens on the site of the Sacred Heart social hall at Valley Brook Ave. and Warren St.

Domus President Phillip Frese, who is also executive director of Catholic Charities, said last week he was uncertain if the group would challenge the board’s decision. It has 45 days from the day the board publishes a public notice of its decision to file an appeal.

After hearing five hours of testimony – much of it interrupted by catcalls and protests from an audience largely hostile to the Domus’ plans – the zoning board voted on the application. Only four members – chairman Joseph Orlando, vice chairman Edward Koziol, Vincent Gaccione and Steven Laudati voted “yes,” one short of the five votes needed for passage.

Frank Trangone, Walter Steel and Henry Simonak cast “no” votes.

Trangone tipped his hand late into the evening’s proceedings when he asserted that the location proposed for the senior building “is probably not the best place for it,” drawing loud applause from the spectators, many of whom were wearing yellow T-shirts bearing the message: “Don’t Turn Lyndhurst into the ‘Projects’.’’

Domus wanted to build a four-story senior residence containing 49 one-bedroom apartments for seniors age 62 and older and one 2-bedroom unit for a superintendent and 24 on-site parking spaces. The project would be funded by an $8.9 million Section 202 award from the U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development, 40 years of subsidized rentals and 4% state tax credits from the N.J. Housing Mortgage Finance Agency.

A lottery run by the Bergen County Housing Authority, which was to manage the building, would determine who would live there. Because federal funds were involved, it could not be restricted to Lyndhurst residents only, Domus’ experts said.

But Hilda and John Monaco, who organized the T-shirt campaign, and other neighbors of the project site protested that the proposed building would only add to traffic congestion along Valley Brook Ave., complicate on-street parking and decrease property values in the neighborhood.

Another neighbor, Pat Glover cited a HUD regulation that, he said, would open the doors to people other than seniors living in the building and Domus consultant Don Lubin agreed that a “live-in caretaker” could share an apartment with a senior. And, Lubin said, it’s possible that an impaired adult over whom a senior has custody could also live there but he added he’d have to further research that issue.

Glover further questioned whether 24 parking spaceswould be sufficient to accommodate the number of seniors with cars and asserted that Domus would be “doing a disservice” to its tenants because there’d be “no place for seniors to go” in that neighborhood and that they’d be “stranded in their apartments.”

Dave Fiorilly, one of several residents worried about the building’s impact on traffic flow, warned that relatives “are going to come and visit grandma” but have no place to park. “It’s gonna be a mess,” he said.

Ronald Morinho agreed, suggesting that trash pickups and trucks making deliveries to the building would only add to the congestion. And he wondered if the township’s water and sewer utilities could handle the building’s service requirements.

And David Checki, who traces his family roots in Lyndhurst back a century, touched on a theme that resounded with the objectors when he said that he’s grown “tired of looking at a bingo hall” and expected something to replace it, “but this (senior residence) is not the proper building. There’s inadequate parking now; on Valley Brook Ave., it’s bumper-to-bumper the majority of the day. Enough is enough. This building will not be for the benefit of Lyndhurst residents.”

After the hearing, a disappointed Frese called the vote “unfortunate for the township. I think there was a tremendous misunderstanding.” And he said the objectors’ fears of who would be living in the building were misplaced. At the Domus’ senior project in Kearny, “95%” of the residents were either from Kearny or relatives of Kearny people, he said.

Frese said Domus had improved the property by removing three underground fuel tanks at a cost of $100,000 and planned to change the on-site drainage to prevent storm water runoffs onto Warren St.

“All we were trying to do was accommodate people whose bank accounts wouldn’t let them continue living in their own homes,” he said.

But angry residents only saw the proposed 50-unit building as another example of Lyndhurst’s “overdevelopment.”

Asked for his reaction, Mayor Richard DiLascio, whose administration strongly pushed for the project and earmarked funds to acquire the adjoining property to provide sufficient land, said the project’s defeat signaled a missed opportunity to provide affordable senior housing in Lyndhurst and that the HUD award would likely go to another community.

Frese said the HUD funding is reserved for up to 18 months. “That’s when they expect you to start building,” he said.

‘Can’-do attitude for Kearny High School ‘Canstruction’ projects

Photo by Ron Leir/ Members of the “Feed the Globe” team put together that project.


Photo by Ron Leir/ The KHS Stadium team is busy with its project.


By Ron Leir


Call it the miracle of the cans. Call it part of the global struggle to end hunger. Call it what you will.

The point is this: What started out as a suggestion by a concerned Kearny High School alumnus turned into a powerful force that unleashed volunteer efforts by inspired students, government and the corporate community.

For needy families in Kearny, it will mean the replenishment of three churchrun emergency food pantries and the re-stocking of several soup kitchens in Newark.

The enterprise began a few months ago when KHS Principal Cynthia Baumgartner got a phone call from retired Fire Capt. Paul Rogers, Class of 1977, telling her about an interesting exhibit he’d seen in New York.

It was an elaborate studentassembled giant-sized construction project, made up, almost exclusively, of canned goods which were to be donated to local food banks for distribution to community emergency feeding programs.

And it was sponsored by a nonprofit group known as “Canstruction,” whose mission is to hold annual designand- build competitions to build these type of structures, to raise public awareness of world hunger and to feed needy men, women and children.

“Paul Rogers was so enthused, he wanted to find a group of young people to help make his dream (of furnishing food for the hungry) come true,” Baumgartner recalled.

So it was decided that KHS students would undertake a Canstruction project but only as a “dry run,” Baumgartner said.

She endorsed the program as a reflection of her belief that, “What kids learn in the classroom they need to use in the real world as service learning: to serve the community.”

The principal enlisted the help of architecture instructor Melody Larossa and science teacher Chuck Polk, co-advisers of the school’s engineering club, along with 35 sophomores, juniors and seniors who are members of the class and/or club.

A number of the participating students have told Baumgartner that the experience has turned out to be “probably one of the best things they done in their high school career.”

Many were “nervous” going into the project, Baumgartner said, “since it was unchartered territory.”

But go in they did, starting about two months ago, taking one class period per week to meet as a group with their advisers to discuss what they wanted to build and how to go about it.

Once they settled on two construction projects – “Feed the Globe” (a globe with a fork and knife attachments) and the KHS stadium – they created Computer Aided Drawings (CADs), calculated dimensions for their products and began assembling models, all in preparation for the actual construction which, even though they wouldn’t be part of a Canstruction competition, would still be done within a restricted time period.

Stepping up to offer her support, at Rogers’ request, was Town Council President Carol Jean Doyle, who helped secure an off-site location where students could practice and where the thousands of cans needed could be stored.

Unfortunately, Doyle said, about a month and a half ago, a snag developed when, after the building had been loaded with tables and equipment and many of the cans, “we were told it had been rented (to another party).” Yet another complication came about when Larossa had to relocate her architecture class due to the ongoing interior construction at the high school.

Meanwhile, Doyle, as a member of the Museum Committee, successfully appealed to that group to make available space at the Kearny Public Library as a can staging and practice area.

For the next five weeks, students continued working together as two teams to coordinate plans for the two construction projects.

One of the technical problems that they had to solve, Doyle said, was getting cans “with the right colors” to represent areas of water, greenery and mountains on the simulated globe. “It was a lot of trial and error,” she said. “It’s been a wonderful experience watching students work together off-site.”

Other globe-related issues that needed to be resolved were “fi xing the shape of the continents” and fi guring out what type of material would be best suited to support each of the 20 levels of cans comprising the globe structure, said KHS junior Steve Vivar, 17.

Ultimately, the team came up with plywood as the way to go, Steve said.

What made the project appealing to Steve was that “you can donate (the cans) and still have fun. That makes it a whole lot better.” Having a niece in Peru and a cousin in England working as architects is pushing him in the same direction, Steve said. “And if I could do engineering at the same time,” he added, “that would be amazing.”

Also part of the globe team is 16-year-old junior Jaquelyn Lazo – one of 10 girls on the 20-member team – who founded the KHS engineering club after her older sister Justine had shared exciting news about attending an engineering conference in Ohio.

Leading the stadium construction team were senior Jose Quinones, 17, who was also part of the dance team that performed at last Friday’s KHS International Festival, and sophomore Anthony Belo, 16. They helpfully explained that it took 300 tomato sauce cans to form the stadium walls, 700 soup cans for the stands and bleachers, 200 cans of sweet peas for the turf fi eld, 21 cans of peaches for the goal posts and scoreboard, 150 cans of tuna to outline the field’s white lines and hash marks, plus a few silver-painted wooden dowels with suction cups attached for the light towers. They also used cans of baked beans for the stadium’s extension and cans of mixed vegetables for the base of the stadium. Still to come, when The Observer visited, was a New York skyline, they said.

Last Thursday, starting at 8:30 a.m., both teams gathered in KHS gym to begin assembling the projects and, by 2:45 p.m., they were done. Some members of the public responded to invitations to view the exhibits that day and the day after.

Doyle said the Kearny community came through with nearly 20,000 canned goods plus about $20,000 in monetary donations, much of which was used to purchase appropriately color-coordinated cans still needed for the projects. Kearny ShopRite, alone, donated 7,500 cans of food, Doyle said.

One-third of the canned goods is going to the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington’s food pantry; one-third is being divided between the pantries of St. Cecilia’s and St. Stephen’s; and the balance is targeted for soup kitchens in Newark run by Rutgers University, Doyle said.

The deliveries are coming at a critical time: St. Cecilia’s had to close its pantry in February after having served its capacity of 100 families and St. Stephen’s managed to provide for 15 families, according to Doyle.

“Everybody’s desperate,” she said.

One Tank Trips: Milford, Pennsylvania awaits your discovery

Grey Towers



By Jeff Bahr

A charming village

Located just over an hour from Kearny, northeastern Pennsylvania’s U.S. Rt. 209 is a scenic joy to behold. But it wasn’t always so. The route once served as little more than a shortcut for truckers looking to get from I-80 to I-84, and vice versa. But that was before the National Park Service saw fit to scoop up the scenic corridor through which the route passes, and improve it as the “Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.”

Nowadays, a lowered speed limit and around-theclock weight scales have scared off most commercial vehicles. Tourists blissfully inch along a lovely stretch that features towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls and river views, and which ultimately delivers them to the real show stopper: the historically rich and cuteas- a-button river town of Milford. Sometimes, it’s plain to see, the government actually gets things right.

Even today, Milford recalls an era when women toted umbrellas on sunny days; horses and buggies clambered up crude dirt roads; and the town’s gentlemen were just that – gentlemen. It’s a chunk of Victoriana preserved at its finest and a great place to spend a day or a weekend.

Inauspicious beginnings

It’s hard to believe that Milford was once considered a bit rough around the edges, but it was. According to historical accounts, the town was adopted by waves of roving “marauders” during the late 19th century. These purported (imagined?) ne’er-do-wells descended upon the village in menacing pack form, riding “their blasted twowheeled contraptions” to the various watering holes and inns. But don’t jump to conclusions – these were not motorcycle gangs. This group of desperados rode fire-breathing “safety” bicycles made by Schwinn and Raleigh, which at the time were all the rage. Truth be told, these “wheelmen” were drawn to the area not for debauchery, but rather for the region’s flat and scenic river stretches – and the town of Milford was located right in the thick o f it all – hence their attachment to it.

Nevertheless, the bicyclists’ seamy reputation didn’t dissuade the town’s inns and restaurants from enthusiastically courting their favor. The riders’ money, it turns out, was just as good as anyone’s. In fact, more than a few establishments struck it rich by catering to the tired and hungry cyclists.

What the bicyclists knew back then, everyone knows now. Milford is indeed a great place to point your vehicle at. Virtually every block features an enticing restaurant, antique shop or boutique, and a good many of these are housed in quaint, period buildings that somehow defied the “progress” bulldozer. Milford also features its share of attractions that simply can’t be found anywhere else. Let’s take a look-see.

Gifford Pinchot and Grey Towers

Grey Towers is situated at the village’s western end. The sprawling 43-room Medieval-French mansion was constructed in 1886 by wallpaper merchant James Pinchot (1831-1908) and later deeded to his son, Gifford (1865-1946), who became the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service as well as a two-term governor of Pennsylvania (1923-27, 1931-35).

Pinchot’s son, Dr. Gifford Bryce Pinchot, dedicate the mansion, and its surrounding acreage to the U.S. Forest Service in 1963. Declared a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior, Grey Towers was dedicated as the Pinchot Institute for Conservation following a visit by President John F. Kennedy in September of that year. The U.S. Forestry Service currently manages the site and guided tours of the mansion and outbuildings are available for a fee. However, there’s no charge to walk the grounds and the encircling trails, and a stroll through this sublime scene suggests why Pinchot became so enamored of woodlands.

Columns Museum and the Lincoln Flag

After assassin John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln at Washington’s Ford Theater on April 15, 1865, the mortally wounded statesman was laid on the floor and a large American flag, hurriedly taken from the balustrade, was placed beneath his head by stage manager Thomas Gourlay. The bloodstained flag was reportedly retrieved by Gourlay and handed down to his ancestors.

Today, the “Lincoln Flag” hangs in the Pike County Historical Society’s Columns Museum. The story of the flag’s lineage is fascinating, and the documentation backing up its validity is compelling.

A separate pavilion is devoted to the Hiawatha Stagecoach – an ornate and original carriage built in the mid-19th century – and art lovers will appreciate landscape paintings created by John Newton Howitt, a 20th century artist heavily influenced by the Hudson River School style.


‘Hots and Cots’

There are many good eateries and inns in the area. The circa-1828 Dimmick Inn located at the town’s center offers quality food and lodging, as does the considerably pricier Hotel Fauchère situated just north of it on Rt. 209. The Tom Quick Inn, built in 1882, is located a block north of the Hotel Fauchère. It, too, offers fine food and lodging to weary travelers. For those on a budget, there are an array of motels located in nearby Matamoras, Pa., just five minutes north of the village on Rt. 209.

Other things to see and do:

If you visit Milford during the warm summer months, another treat awaits. Milford Beach, located one-mile east of town on the Delaware River, features lifeguardprotected swimming. Fishing is also popular on the river, especially during the annual “shad run” during May and June. The 32-milelong McDade Trail can be accessed from the Milford Beach area. Here visitors can hike, bike, or crosscountry ski their cares away.

If you like to get high (in the most literal sense), you can’t do much better than Elks Brox Memorial Park in Port Jervis, N.Y., a 10-minute drive from Milford. Here, a snaking road climbs up, up and away from Rt. 97 to a bluff that features breathtaking views of Port Jervis, New Jersey’s High Point obelisk (the state’s highest point at 1,803 feet), and the Delaware River valley.

A short drive on scenic Rt. 97 brings visitors to Hawk’s Nest. This famed stretch of road, perched hundreds of feet above the Delaware River, is noted for its many exaggerated bends or “S” turns. For this reason, Hawk’s Nest attracts sports car aficionados and go-fast motorcycle riders like moths to a flame. While the practice is far from legal, it’s not uncommon to find such devotees “strafing” through the turns at blistering speeds more appropriate for a racetrack than a public thoroughfare. But don’t let this dissuade you. Occurrences like these are intermittent at best. Park at a pullout, get out of your car and watch the gentle arc of raptors gliding high above you. It is then that you will fully appreciate how Hawk’s Nest earned its name.

Sometimes, size does matter


A few weeks ago One World Trade Center (OWTC) officially surpassed the Empire State Building in height. It was a landmark moment that represented the first time since 9/11/2001 that downtown Manhattan has featured a building taller than the venerable icon. But somehow it seems less impressive this time around. Sure, the building has another hundred feet or so to go until it reaches its full roof height of 1,368’ (a height chosen to equal the tower that preceded it). Then workers will install a glorified 408-foot antenna (originally intended as an ornamental spire) that will take its official height to a symbolic 1,776 feet.

Actually, that’s misleading. According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the official height of the building is being reconsidered in light of this design change. If the antenna isn’t counted in its overall height, OWTC will not even be the tallest building in America. That honor will stay with Chicago’s Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) that at 1,450’ is nearly 100’ taller than the final roof height of OWTC.

This means that America, is now playing catch-up. No, strike that. “Catch-up” implies that we’re still trying. When it comes to constructing the world’s tallest buildings that’s no longer true. In fact, we haven’t really tried since the bold 1974 erection of the Sears Tower; a building that held the world’s tallest title until 1998 when it was surpassed by the 1,483’ Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

A perusal of global skyscrapers tells the story. The world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa (formerly the Burj Dubai) in Dubai, UAE stands a mesmerizing 2,716.5’ feet above street level. To equal the colossal Burj Khalifa, you’d still need to add another 940’!

Some argue that super tall buildings aren’t really practical, that it’s hard to fill the rental space and so forth. They also talk about the myriad red tape that comes along with tackling outsized projects that literally reach for the heavens. But that argument is ridiculous on its face. Building tall has always been about symbolism, inspiration, and daring. It puts a nation at the forefront as a land to be emulated and revered.

The benefits of constructing the tallest building cannot be measured in mere dollars and cents. It’s always been about national pride; a willingness to take chances; the daring to say, “the status-quo has never been good enough for our country – and it never will be!” Since it was America who invented the skyscraper in the first place, playing the part of “also ran” is rather unsettling. But a lot of things are unsettling in America these days.

When OWTC is completed in 2013 it will take its place beside other tall buildings in the world. But it is there that it will blend in mid-pack, not stand out like it did in 1971.

What does this really mean in the grand scheme of things? I can only offer my personal view.

When I was ten-years-old, the Empire State Building was still the world’s tallest. I would ask my dad, “How tall is it? Does your nose really bleed up there? What’s the view like from the top? How much taller is it than the next tallest? Do any other countries even come close?” “America has the biggest and the best,” he’d say with a prideful smile befitting a World War II veteran and member of our nation’s “greatest generation.” If dad were still alive, I wonder what he’d say today?

-Jeff Bahr


To the Publisher:

The number of Americans considered obese is expected to rise from the current 34 % to 42 % by the year 2030, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and discussed at Monday’s “Weight of the Nation” conference in Washington. Diabetes, kidney failure, heart disease, and other obesity-related ailments account for countless premature deaths and as much as 18 % of the $2.6 trillion national cost of medical care. (www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/study-predicts-42-percent-of-americans-will-beobese- in-2030/2012/05/07/ gIQAeaDL9T_story.html)

The leading causes of obesity are consumption of fat-laden meat and dairy products and lack of exercise. This is particularly critical during childhood years, when lifestyle habits become lifelong addictions.

A five-year Oxford University study of 22,000 people, published in the International Journal of Obesity in 2006, found that those on a vegetarian or vegan diet gained the least weight. A review of 87 studies in Nutrition Reviews concluded that a vegetarian diet is highly effective for weight loss.

The time has come to replace meat and dairy products in our diet with wholesome grains, vegetables, and fruits and to undertake a regular exercise program. Parents should insist on healthy school lunch choices and set a good example at their own dinner table.

Cory Baker


Be careful where you stash your trash

Photo by Ron Leir/ Checking out trash from l. are Cali Carting workers John Veloso, Frank Constantino and town sanitation inspector Christine Madalena-Barton.

By Ron Leir 


During the past few months, town officials have been doing a bit of trash talking to certain property owners but they insist it’s for a good cause.

It seems some landlords and businesses have been tossing household refuse along with bottles, cans and other recyclables into municipal trash receptacles or leaving improperly commingled disposables for curbside pickup.

Either way, that’s a big nono.

The town is also cracking down on residents who leave trash in non-durable supermarket bags, who put out unbundled cardboard, who fail to place recyclables in a separate container or clear plastic bags and who put out trash the wrong day or before 6 p.m.

Mayor Ray McDonough called for a special enforcement campaign by the Board of Health in early March after emerging from Town Hall one day and seeing Harrison Ave. covered in a blizzard of swirling newspapers, cardboard and other debris.

Since March 5, Harrison has issued more than 125 warnings and 10 summonses for various infractions of the town’s property maintenance code and recycling code, according to Christine Madalena-Barton, registered environmental health specialist for Harrison.

Three residential condominium associations were among those receiving warnings, she said.

Stiff penalties can be meted out to proven offenders: Anyone brought to municipal court and found guilty can be socked for a $150 fine for a first offense and even more for repeated violations.

Complicating the war on illicit trash is the fact that Madalena-Barton is currently the only full-time employee in the health department in the wake of the retirement of former health officer Karen Comer and the granting of maternity leave to another employee.

Harrison has contracted for the services of North Bergen Health Officer Richard Censullo to manage and restructure its public health operations.

In the meantime, Harrison’s former fire chief Tom Dolaghan has been delegated by the mayor to lend a hand to Madalena-Barton in helping put a lid on wayward trash.

People who stuff garbage in flimsy, unsecured bags are creating a public health and safety hazard, Dolaghan said. “We’ve had a plethora of skunks, raccoons, possums and cats who rip up these little bags to scavenge for food,” he said.

“Cardboard’s a big problem for us, too,” Dolaghan said. “Some people are leaving out loose pizza boxes or six-pack beer containers and magazines that the wind blows out into the street and the garbage collectors are not here to pick up litter.”

Readily seconding that complaint is Frank Costantino, an employee of Cali Carting, the Kearny firm contracted to pick up Harrison’s trash and recyclables. “The cardboard scatters all over the place,” Costantino said. “If it’s not tied, it’s hard to pick up.”

And, worse yet, the stuff can end up being swept into a corner catch basin and, from there, into a sewer outfall, and then in the river, Dolaghan said. “Not green, not healthy,” he added.

There’s also an economic impact to the indiscriminate mixing of cans and bottles with regular trash. When the carter hauls a load of Harrison garbage to the dump site, the dump operator can – and will – turn it aside if those waste products are improperly commingled. That means an extra trip for the carter, every time he has to bring back a rejected load. It costs Harrison, too, since the town figures to pay more in dumping fees and will forfeit state recycling credits, Dolaghan said.

For 2011, the state credited Harrison with 46,477 tons of recyclables – much higher than the town’s typical output – since 31,000 tons of that total was soil excavated from a construction site at the PSE&G property, according to town records.

Additionally, the town collected 1,000 tons of newspaper, 700 tons of aluminum, 450 tons of glass and 175 tons of cardboard, records show.

Although Madalena- Barton said there’s no way to estimate what percent of the town is complying with the recycling regulations, she and Dolaghan believe “the vast majority” of property owners are practicing what the town is preaching.

Residents are reminded that “all computers, batteries, propane tanks, electronic waste (PC monitors, TVs, cellular phones, etc.) are collected twice a year during April and September” and that they must contact the Public Works Department at (973) 268-2441 “to make arrangements to drop off these items.”

Residents can also call the DPW for information on trash and recyclables pickup schedules.

The public awareness campaign will be an ongoing process, Dolaghan said. “This isn’t a sprint – it’s a marathon.”

It’s no ‘Secret’ this band kills

Photos Courtesy of Secretcountryband.com/ New vocalist Katelynn Siegle is one of two new additions to Secret Country


By Anthony J. Machcinski

That closed-door country band is at it again. Secret Country, the Kearny-based country band under the Killing Horse Records label, celebrated the release of its latest album and first vinyl, “7 Days a Week,” at Donegal Saloon on May 18.

“We’re really excited to put it all out,” said Mike Sylvia of Killing Horse Records. “We built the label around them in 2009.”

“7 Days a Week” is a follow-up to the band’s 2009 full-length “Women, Whiskey and Nightlife.” During the years between the two releases, the band has seen some changes to its lineup, with Eric Mason (guitar/ vocals) and Yan Iziquerdo (fiddle/mandolin) replaced by Katelynn Siegle (vocals) and Ryan Gross (guitar).

“It’s a whole different thing with a girl singing,” said Secret Country bass player Tim Siegle, Katelynn’s brother. “At first it was kind of like a boys’ club. Now that we’re older, it’s not the same thing. She brings something we didn’t have.”

Siegle’s statement could not ring truer. While “Women, Whiskey, and Nightlife” was a quality album in its own right, “7 Days a Week” gives Secret Country another step in the right direction.

Photos Courtesy of Secretcountryband.com


In comparison to its predecessor album, “7 Days a Week” and its brilliantly produced product sounds like a real record – something that one can imagine hearing on the radio someday.

This difference can be attributed to the new work ethic of the band.

“With the lineup we have now, it’s a lot easier,” explained Siegle. “We practiced more to kind of hone the sound. We matured. We look at this as we can have something here. We’ve been trying to work this out.”

The ease is a reflection of the streamlined length of time it took to get the record produced.

“The last record almost took us a whole year,” Siegle explained. “The recording process (for “7 Days a Week”) was very painless and took us a little over a weekend.”

What made Secret Country special on “Women, Whiskey, and Nightlife” was the chemistry that members of the band had with each other. Now, despite losing two key elements of its band, Secret Country is still able to maintain the bonds that solidify its music.

With an “in the family” thread of Katelynn, Tim and Matt Siegle, and with the incorporation of Ryan Gross, a producer with Killing Horse Records, the band maintains a continuity that allows its members not to miss a step.

The title track of “7 Days a Week” is a perfect showcase of this chemistry.

A quick start and a solid guitar solo help get the song on a roll and set the pace for the whole track. Jay Monaco’s voice, accented with the voices of Katelynn and Matt Siegle and Joe Hart, provide the fun-loving feel that the lyrics look to convey. With lyrics that say, “Wake up, it’s Monday/I didn’t get to see the sun today/At this rate, I don’t know when I will,” the fun-loving nature of the band’s style certainly comes into play.

The other song on the album, “Deep-Fried Delight,” is another quick start. “Deep- Fried Delight” also is another fun-loving track, with Monaco singing about falling in love with fried chicken as if it were his lover.

Both these tracks fall in line with the band’s reputation.

“(The new album) is probably in the same range where we’ve been the past few years,” said Gross. “Drinking, eating fried foods, and having a good time. (This album is) a little more representative of our sounds and what you get at the live shows.”

The album “7 Days a Week” is only the beginning for Secret Country, as this record is a precursor to a fulllength album to be released sometime in the late summer/ early fall of 2012. While preparing for this record, the band hopes to get out on the road more and travel farther than they have in the past.

“With the lineup we have now, it’s a lot easier to travel,” Siegle explained. “Boston was the farthest we’ve ever been outside of Jersey and we want to continue to grow. We’d like to do more in South Jersey, too.”

With its fun-loving nature and quality music, Secret Country is on the right track for future success.

For more information on Secret Country, or to purchase their albums, visit www.secretcountryband.com.

News from the Nutley Police Blotter

May 17

After getting a report about a group of people carrying a woman in physical distress, police went to Franklin Ave. and Centre St. where they learned that the woman who was having difficulty breathing had been taken to an area hospital for evaluation.

May 16

At 3:47 p.m. a car hit a dog on Centre St. after it ran from its owners and attempted to cross the street.

Someone vandalized a Nutley High School administrator’s vehicle, according to a complaint filed by the administrator with police at 12:44 p.m. Police are investigating.

A vehicle traveling down Vreeland Ave. was damaged when a man using a weedwhacker inadvertently hit a rock which was jettisoned into the vehicle’s window, police said. No one was hurt. The incident was logged at 12:05 p.m.

Somebody “egged” a Jeep while it was parked on Chadwick Drive during the night, the vehicle’s owner informed police at 10:10 a.m.

At 2:47 a.m. police went to a Bloomfield Ave. residence where a carbon monoxide detector had been activated. After entering through a window, police found the resident who was dizzy and not feeling well. Police then transported the resident to an area hospital for evaluation.

Police were alerted by a 2:20 a.m. phone call to a dog hit by a car at Passaic Ave. and Lakeside Drive. The dog limped away. Police said they located the dog’s owner who told them his boxer apparently got out of the yard.

At 12:50 a.m. a motorist called police to seek help after being stalled in flood waters at Harrison St. and Bloomfield Ave. AAA arrived and pulled the vehicle out of the water.

May 15

At 10:59 p.m. a patrol officer alerted via an onboard license plate recognition system that a passing driver’s registration was suspended stopped the car on Mountainview Ave. and verified the information. The driver, who wasn’t identified by police, was ticketed for driving with a suspended registration and suspended license. The vehicle was impounded.

Police said someone defaced a Stager St. resident’s window by throwing eggs against it and they are investigating the incident, reported at 9:15 p.m.

May 14

The report of a disorderly customer brought police to a local pharmacy at 6:09 p.m. She was advised of her right to sign a complaint.

At 4:25 p.m. police were called to Franklin Ave. and Essex St. to check out a possible robbery. Jason Garcia, 28, of Nutley, told police he was walking home from a Franklin Ave. bank in Belleville when he was confronted by a man he described as six feet with baggy pants and a black hooded sweatshirt who placed what he believed to be a gun to the back of his head and demanded money. After police searched the area to no avail, Garcia told detectives he’d made up the story to hide, from his fiancé, the loss of money he’d allegedly sent to an out-of-state friend. Garcia was charged with making a false police report and released pending a court hearing. Police Commissioner Alphonse Petracco and Police Chief John Holland criticized Garcia for needlessly diverting police.

A dog was fatally struck by a car on Rutgers Place at 1:37 p.m. The driver told police the small white dog jumped from the open door of a parked car and ran into the wheel of the driver’s car. The owner took the dog and left the scene.

A Bloomfield Ave. resident called police at 7:41 a.m. to report the illegal dumping of several trash bags strewn about the resident’s property. Police are investigating.

A random license plate check on Union Ave. alerting police that the registered owner of a 1997 Mercury had an outstanding warrant for $500 led to a traffic stop and the arrest of the driver, Cauldwell Neals, 28, of Irvington. Neals was released, pending a court hearing, after posting bail.

May 13

At 2:52 a.m. police stopped at St. Mary’s Place and King St. to assist a 25-year-old man who was vomiting in the street. He was taken to an area hospital.

May 12

At 11:46 p.m. police dispersed a group of teens following an assault on Myrtle Ave. Police said the tiff broke out as some 30 partygoers became disorderly. Charges are pending and the case remains under investigation.

A two-week-old BMW was reportedly damaged at a local carwash, the vehicle’s owner told police. The incident was reported at 4:20 p.m.

A customer who fueled up at a Kingsland Ave. service station left without paying, police said. The incident was reported to police at 3:43 p.m.

Police are investigating the report of a Rutgers Ave. resident that someone smashed the windshield of his 2007 Jeep Wagon. The incident was logged at 12:28 p.m.

May 11

Investigating an overcrowding complaint at a small Cape Code residence on Brookfield Ave., called in at 10:05 p.m., police discovered two sets of families of four living there, along with grandparents and visiting uncles from Florida. The township Code Enforcement division is pursuing the matter.

Checking out a report of panhandling at 12:05 p.m. at Park and Union Aves., police found Arnold Sanders, 49, of Newark, who, they said, had an outstanding warrant from East Orange. Sanders denied he was panhandling. He was arrested on the warrant and released after a new court date was arranged.

-Ron Leir