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Have you seen this alleged Nutley burglar?

NUTLEY — Police say they are investigating a diversion burglary that allegedly occurred on Fischer Ave. on Dec. 9. An elderly resident told police that a man banged on her front door at 3 p.m., Dec. 9, claiming there was […]

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Help sought in cold case

By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  Somebody knows something. Six years ago, an 87-year-old man was deliberately run down by a car in a South Kearny parking lot and robbed while he lay helpless on the ground. He died of his injuries the next day. Authorities ruled the death […]

100G for Arena tax case

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  HARRISON –  Now that the state Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether the New York Red Bulls professional soccer team should pay taxes on the stadium and the land it occupies in Harrison, the town has hired an outside law firm to […]

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Staffing Skyway fire-watch

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY – For the first time, members of the Kearny Fire Department will have a shot at off-duty pay, much like their counterparts at the Police Department have enjoyed for many years, although there is a sunset provision for the privilege. This opportunity […]

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New No. 2 has seen it all

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  LYNDHURST –  The Lyndhurst Board of Education has revived the position of assistant superintendent, albeit on an interim basis, with the hiring of 50-year educator Jeffrey P. Feifer. Feifer, who came aboard Sept. 25, was appointed to serve “no more than 120 days,” to […]

 
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HERE’S A WAY TO HONOR A VET

 

MAIN PHOTO BY RON LEIR, INSET PHOTO COURTESY NJDOT/ STANDING IN THE WAR MEMORIAL HALL, UNITED VETERANS ORGANIZATION LEADER ANTHONY CAPITTI (L.) AND MAYOR ALBERTO SANTOS, WANT TO SEE THE NAME OF A LOCAL FALLEN MILITARY VETERAN ON THE NEW HACKENSACK RIVER BRIDGE WHEN IT’S OPENED.

By Ron Leir

KEARNY –

It will likely take another five years before the state completes construction of the new Hackensack River (Rt. 7) bridge that links Kearny and Jersey City.

However, that isn’t stopping Kearny leaders from acting now to urge New Jersey officials to keep Kearny in mind when it comes to attaching a name to the new span that will rise just north of the existing bridge.

A resolution passed by the town governing body on March 27 reads, in part, “The Town of Kearny hereby petitions the Governor, the Commissioner of the Department of Transportation and the Hudson County Legislative Delegation to use their best efforts to name the new bridge in honor of … a Kearny serviceman who has made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of his country.”

This proposal comes in the wake of neighboring North Arlington, in tandem with state legislators, calling on Gov. Chris Christie to endorse the naming of the Passaic River bridge connecting North Arlington and Belleville for Marine Lance Cpl. Osbrany Montes de Oca, 20, who was killed on combat on Feb. 10 in the Helmond Province of Afghanistan. That bridge was revamped several years ago.

While the existing Rt. 7 bridge linking Kearny and Jersey City was named for H. Otto Wittpenn, a former three-term mayor of Jersey City from Jan. 1, 1908, to June 16, 1913, who served as a state highway commissioner and Naval officer of the Port of New York, Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos said it would be appropriate for the replacement bridge to bear a different name.

“How many people today know who Wittpenn is?” he wondered.

Interestingly, Wittpenn was accorded the honor with the bridge’s opening in 1930, when he was still among the living. He died the following year at age 59, reportedly from blood poisoning. During his mayoral tenure, he appointed reformer Cornelia F. Bradford as the first woman member of the Jersey City Board of Education.

At any rate, Santos said he’s conferring with the United Veterans Organization (UVO), an umbrella group of local veterans’ organizations, to arrive at a consensus on which of “a long list of names” of those Kearny residents “who made the ultimate sacrifice” to choose for the honor.

In past years, Santos noted, Kearny has taken pains to attach the names of Kearny veterans who’ve died in the line of duty to a myriad of public spaces – streets, flagpoles, parks and playgrounds, playing fields and even fire rigs.

When improvements to the town’s Brighton Ave. playground are completed, it’s expected that it will be named for Army Staff Sgt. Edward Karolasz, of Kearny, who was at age 25 killed in Iraq on Nov. 19, 2005.

The names of those Kearny residents who gave their lives for their country were collected by the Gold Star Mothers, a local unit of a national group formed after World War I to comfort the mothers of servicemen and women killed in the war, and then enshrined on plaques in the “War Memorial Hall” in the lobby of Kearny Town Hall dedicated on Nov. 11, 2008.

Kearny lost 56 veterans in World War I, 178 in World War II, 11 in the Korean War, 11 in the Vietnam War and one in the Iraqi War, according to Councilwoman Carol Jean Doyle, liaison to the UVO.

A separate plaque in the War Memorial Hall is devoted to the memory of Lt. Vincent R. Capodanno, a Congressional Medal of Honor winner. Capodanno, a Navy chaplain assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, was killed in combat on Sept. 4, 1967, at Quang Tin Province, Vietnam. He was 38.

“He’s our only Medal of Honor winner,” Doyle said. “He served so honorably. He would be my choice (for the bridge naming).”

Doyle said that members of the UVO, led by Anthony Capitti, who is also commander of the Frobisher American Legion post, have preliminarily discussed the matter and are leaning in the direction of nominating Capodanno for the honor.

The UVO membership is expected to make that choice official with a formal vote scheduled for April 30, according to Doyle.

“This man (Capodanno) would be a proper choice for the bridge name,” Capitti added.

Initially, another potential candidate considered was the Rev. John Washington, a local Catholic priest, and one of the “Four Chaplains” who perished after giving up their life preservers to soldiers aboard the Dorchester which sank in the North Atlantic after being torpedoed on Feb. 3, 1943.

“The town renamed part of Washington Ave. as Father Washington Way about five years ago,” Doyle said, “so he’s been recognized in the right way.”

Capodanno’s official Medal of Honor citation reads, in part, that as 2nd Platoon, M Company was under attack by an overwhelming enemy force, “… Lt. Capodanno left the relative safety of the company command post and ran through an open area raked with fire, directly to the beleaguered platoon. Disregarding the intense enemy small-arms, automatic-weapons, and mortar fire, he moved about the battlefield administering last rites to the dying and giving medical aid to the wounded.” This he continued to do, despite suffering mortar rounds that caused “multiple wounds to his arms and legs and severed a portion of his right hand….” As he rushed to assist a wounded Marine, “… only inches from his goal, he was struck down by a burst of machine gun fire.”

Regardless of who the bridge is named after, the legacy of that hero will span generations.

Tribute to Nutley volunteers

By Ron Leir

NUTLEY –

Five individuals will be recognized for their volunteer contributions to the community when the Nutley Jaycees present their Distinguished Service Awards at their 41st annual banquet April 18 at the Valley Regency, 1149 Valley Road, Clifton. Jaycees Acting President Michael Paolino said the awards are given in appreciation of those who “go the extra yard” on behalf of fellow Nutley residents.

Walter Smith, who chaired this year’s six-member judging panel, agreed that the current crop of honorees easily met the Jaycees’ criteria for being nominated for the awards in that they “made the extra effort to support the community.”

Noting that the Nutley chapter is perhaps the only one in the state to conduct its own DSA program, Smith said that’s a reflection of how much locals care about the township.

“We get between 300 and 400 people at our dinner every year,” Smith said. “Nutley stays nice because it’s got a great base of volunteers.” Others who served on the judges’ panel – all former DSA recipients themselves – were: NJ Hometown editor Phil White, former Assemblyman Fred Scalera, newly retired Schools Supt. Joseph Zarra, funeral parlor operator John Brown and chiropractor Steven Clarke.

This year’s crop of honorees are: George M. Ackerman Jr., Educator of the Year; Adam Jernick, Young Man of the Year; John Saar, Public Health and Public Safety; Police Sgt. Michael Kraft, Civic Affairs; and Tony Dragos, Businessman of the Year.

George Ackerman Jr., a 1971 alumnus of Montclair State University, has been active in Nutley High School extra-curricular activities since joining the Nutley public schools. He also has served as the teachers’ union contract negotiator, coordinated Middle States evaluation, and chaired the high school’s Industrial Arts Department.

Ackerman led Saturday sessions in curriculum development and was a set builder for many high school stage productions including the senior benefit. He has coached the high school boys’ and girls’ tennis teams and has won the “Coach of the Year” award. In 1980 he led the Nutley Rifle team to the state championship. He’s also an active member of the Technology Engineering Association of New Jersey.

Adam Jernick, 29, was a football standout at Nutley High, was a starter in the 2001 NJ-NY Governors Football Bowl and made the first all-area high school football team the same year.

As a senior at James Madison University, Jernick joined the Elks and, in five years, he made the climb to Exalted Ruler of Nutley Elks Lodge 1290. Along that path, he coached town recreation basketball teams and co-chaired the youth and special activities committees.

For the past seven years, Jernick joined Nutley Rotary’s Christmas for Farm Children that brings toys, via horse and sleigh, to a rural farm area.

Jernick has led special events for disabled veterans, helped the Parks & Recreation Dept. with activities for abused and special needs children and organized a Christmas program through the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission for area nursing home residents.

He also helped organize motorcycle run benefits in Nutley and has cooked for events sponsored by the Parks & Recreation Dept. This past Christmas season, he played Santa for a battered women’s and children’s shelter in Jersey City where he distributed toys to kids removed from abusive dads.

John Saar, a 1965 Nutley High graduate, has been a member of the Nutley Volunteer Emergency and Rescue Squad for nearly 50 years. When his wife was ailing from malignant melanoma, the squad transported her to Sloan Kettering Hospital, N.Y. After her death, Saar joined up and, since then, has volunteered thousands of hours serving Nutley residents in need.

With the squad, Saar has served as crew chief, treasurer and captain. He’s been a fixture at rig polishing parties, helped develop and run the squad’s oxygen department and today, he is vice president and runs its annual fund drive.

Saar, who has three children and five grandkids, served four years with the U.S. Air Force Security Service as a Chinese linguist in Okinawa, Japan. He has a B.A. degree in psychology from Montclair State University.

Sgt. Michael Kraft, a member of the Nutley Police Dept. for the past 13 years, has been a volunteer with youth baseball and soccer teams in Nutley for a dozen years.

Kraft has been president of the Nutley East Little League for four years and has managed and coached teams in town for 12 years.

As a volunteer with the Parks & Recreation Dept., Kraft conducts clinics in coaching skills and classes in sports safety to promote teamwork, self-confidence and participation in local civic events.

A father of four, Kraft also has coached Nutley recreation soccer for 12 years and Nutley recreation basketball for two years.

Tony Dragos, co-owner of the Washington Park restaurant, is being cited as this year’s Businessman of the Year as a tribute not only to his eatery’s “excellent food and fine dining,” but also in recognition of “several years of community service in helping those who are hungry, especially but not limited to, the holiday season.”

According to the Jaycees judges, “Washington Park has become a welcome spot for what have been hundreds of persons who are hungry. Sometimes it’s just a stranger who walks in and is given a free meal. Sometimes, during the holiday season, the demand is so great that Washington Park may serve up to 50 persons at a time, and at no cost to their guests, many who are known to Tony, but many times more who are not.”

The restaurant also “makes generous contributions through the year to Nutley civic and community projects – like food for the Red Cross, hospitalized veterans and handicapped people, karaoke night fundraisers, lots of food for church benefits, the town’s motorcycle runs and the farm children at Christmas time.”

The Jaycees awards event begins with a cocktail hour at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 7:30 p.m. Tickets at $40 may be reserved by calling Dr. Steven Clarke at (973) 235-1515.

Proud students graduate Goodwill Works program

Photo by Jeff Bahr/Proud graduates of Goodwill Works set their sights on the future.

 

By Jeff Bahr

Eight men and seven women are setting their eyes squarely on success after graduating from the Goodwill Works program on March 30. The four to eight-week trainings at the Goodwill Works office in Newark (GWO in student lingo) are offered predominantly to single parents (unemployed and underemployed are also welcome) and funded by a $750,000 grant made available by the N.J. Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development. After completing a mandatory Soft Skills course that showed students how to use computers and conduct themselves during interviews and other necessary skills, students were asked to choose a course from one of three distinctly different areas of study: Retail sales, Entrepreneurship, and C-Tech – a program that enables participants to obtain certificates in telecommunications, network cabling and other specialized technical areas.

Devised by Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey as a way to help parents who, for reasons such as divorce, death of a spouse, abandonment, etc., must now enter the work force. The Goodwill Works program started nearly a year ago and has graduated three classes to date. While the faculty stresses the importance of offering such classes in the future, they concede that the program’s existence relies almost solely on continuing grants from the Dept. of Labor.

A self-described hybrid of “businesswoman and teacher,” Entrepreneurship class instructor Annette Irving Walker spoke of the substantial hurdles that many of the graduates faced in merely getting to class. “The whole evolution brings me to tears,” Walker said in describing the fortitude that the students exhibited. “Some walk to school from Newark, some have no support at home. All are coming from very challenging circumstances. But they did it!”

And “doing it” was no cakewalk according to Walker. Labeled an “intensive 8-week training program” by the teacher, students attended class from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. “While there, they were pushed very, very hard,” she said. The daily grind, though grueling, was of great benefit to the students. “It enhanced their sense of self,” said walker with a prideful look. “Coming through this program brought them (the students) back into believing in themselves,” she added. “It’s a wonderful thing.”

If ear-to-ear smiles and infectious enthusiasm were used as a gauge, Walker’s words rang more than true. At the commencement ceremony held in a large room at Goodwill Industries headquarters in Harrison, ebullient graduates from various age groups stood dressed to the hilt looking, as Walker put it, “ready for business.” Their zeal to get out there and start their new lives was obvious and palpable.

Goodwill Works Senior Vice President, Kirsten Giardi delivered the ceremony’s opening remarks and demonstrated how special the class was in overcoming obstacles. “Back on January 3 when they (the students) started, about 80 people started,” said the V.P. in recalling a moment that now seems like the distant past to many of the students. “But life sometimes gets in the way. Now it’s the ‘Special 18’ that made it through. You need to be acknowledged and congratulated!” When Giardi was asked where the missing three were on this particular day, she happily informed the crowd that they were already busy at “their new jobs.” It turns out the program runs a placement service that begins the instant when students enroll. The “lucky three” were already out there “doing their thing” in the working world, she said.

Class Valedictorian Tyeasha Richardson, graduate of the Entrepreneurship program and proud owner of the newly formed company “Hair from Within” gave a heartfelt speech in praise of the teachers that helped her and the effect that they’ve had on her life. “(Because of the teachers) my life has changed dramatically in these last eight weeks,” said Richardson as she fought back tears. “This is not just a certificate, this program is life-changing.”

Richardson’s words go beyond simple rhetoric. Good Works Entrepreneurship program

Places students on a concrete path to success by hooking them up with a proper company name, an LLC, business cards, licensing and other trade necessities before the students graduate. This allows them to hit the ground running upon graduation. That practical touch ties in strongly with Walker’s outlook on business. “At the end of class each day I’d always tell my students, ‘now go out and make some money!’”

But the Entrepreneurship graduates weren’t the only ones celebrating that day. The Retail Sales and C-Tech graduates were also brimming with pride at the thought of moving ahead in life.

Taking note of this unbridled optimism was keynote speaker, Jersey City Deputy Mayor Kabili Tayari. “I hear Goodwill is fighting to get this program refunded – I hope it does get refunded,” Tayari said with genuine concern in his voice before segueing into a dramatic and inspirational speech.

Tayari recalled how he had once been at the top of the world pulling down a six-figure income. Then the bottom dropped out and he ended up so poor he was forced to live in a church attic. He eventually rebounded, taking an entry-level job under Newark Mayor Sharpe James, but his meaning was clear: Things don’t always go to plan.

Tayari stressed the importance of tenacity to the students. He spoke of how easily the students’ heightened expectations could be knocked down, if they allowed then to be, and that it’s better to expect a rocky road in the beginning than not. But he also reminded the graduates that it’s ultimately up to them to make successes of themselves. “Without a sound sense of faith, you are going nowhere but down,” said Tayari with the quivering fervor of a preacher. “With tenacity, perseverance, faith and love you can knock out elephants!”

And so they commence…

Graduates present included: Retail Sales – Ronald Edmonds, Shelly Foster, Elmo Harvey, Reba Jefferson, and Tammy Young. Entrepreneurship – Mignonne Harden, Cherise Henderson, Tyeasha Richardson, Deborah Stokes, and Valdez White. C-Tech Certificate – Ross Barton, Andrew Cleffi, Samuel Dawkins, Jose Gonzalez, and Esau Weathers.

Teachers present included: Retail Sales – Nicole Jones. Entrepreneurship – Annette Irving Walker. C-Tech – Arnesis Ramos.

One Tank Trips: Discover the Beauty of Princeton

 

By Jeff Bahr

If you mention Princeton, N.J., to an out-of-towner they’ll undoubtedly identify the village with its namesake Princeton University. This isn’t surprising. As one of the “great eight” Ivy-League colleges, the university has put an indelible stamp of prominence on the town that contains it. U.S. Presidents James Madison and Woodrow Wilson once walked its halls as wide-eyed freshmen, as did First Lady Michelle Obama, actors Jimmy Stewart and Brooke Shields, former Knicks basketball player and U.S. Senator Bill Bradley, and many other notables.

Mention Princeton to a local, however, and they’ll first tell you about the town’s beauty and endless charms, then point you toward the many restaurants, shops, museums, and outdoor activities that can be found in and around the village. If you’re lucky, they’ll even mention some of the town’s more offbeat spots and idiosyncrasies, and, oh yes, there is that marvelously oversized University that stands so regally on Nassau St.

As a one-tank trip, Princeton makes for a perfect destination, especially in the spring when the dogwood trees are in full blossom. Then, a stroll along Nassau St. (Princeton’s main drag, also tagged as Route 27) or across the large campus becomes almost magical. What’s not to like? Let’s go.

 

Boats and a Towpath

For those seeking recreation and tranquility, a walk or bike ride along the Delaware and Raritan Canal is in order. The 74-mile-long canal and its towpath remain remarkably intact and are undeniably beautiful. In Princeton, the path can be accessed at the canal’s intersection with Alexander St., and a small parking area has been provided for trail users. This location is also beneficial if one wishes to watch boat crews flash by in their high tech racing skulls on adjacent Lake Carnegie. Since Princeton University’s Boathouse is located just south of the Alexander St. Bridge, such comings and goings are commonplace here. The bridge offers the perfect vantage point to watch the teams as they “stroke” across the great blue expanse.

 

Photo by Jeff Bahr/ Nassau Hall, Princeton University. Ivy at the Ivy-League.

 

 

Auto hitching posts

If your idea of fun has less to do with toil and more to do with the feeding of mind and body, you’ll almost certainly end up in the center of town. Parking can be a problem here, especially on weekends when the tourist hordes come out to play. Generally speaking, the roads that fan out and away from Nassau St. will offer the greatest parking opportunities. If a space can’t be located on these side streets, however, three municipal garages stand at the ready to house your buggy.

 

A dynamic campus duo

A worthy itinerary for any first-time visit includes a tour of the campus followed by a stop at the Princeton University Art Museum. A student-run guide service takes groups of 15 or less on one-hour guided tours of the campus and points out many interesting facts along the way. If you’re curious how the term “Ivy league” came to be, this is the tour for you. Tours leave from Clio Hall on weekdays and the First Campus Center on weekends during the academic year, but you can always fall in with a tour already in progress if your timing is off.

Art lovers will rejoice when they view the more than 72,000 fine works exhibited at the Princeton University Art Museum. A world-class offering, the museum features ancient to contemporary art from around the world. “Princeton and the Gothic Revival” is currently on tap. The exhibit is scheduled to run through June 24.

 

E=MC2 = Princeton’s most famous resident

Nobel Prize winning scientist Albert Einstein lived in Princeton from 1935 to 1955. His small, unassuming house at 112 Mercer St. still exists as a private residence. An exclusive exhibition entitled “Einstein at Home” is currently being featured at the Bainbridge House at 158 Nassau Street. On display are family photographs, memorabilia, artwork, and select pieces of furniture that belonged to the world-renowned scientist. But don’t be misled by Einstein’s vast accomplishments, for stuffy he certainly was not.

“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education,” quipped Einstein with a twinkle in his eye. How can you not love him?

 

Pain-free shopping

Shopping opportunities abound on Nassau Street. Wares found at these shops can be pricey but bargains are available to those willing to hunt. Here’s an example: In the haughty English-Tudor building known as Hamilton Jewelers (92 Nassau St.) a Rolex watch fetches as much cash as an automobile, while a stylish consignment shop just to its north sells many pre-owned and new clothing items for less than ten bucks. On my last visit, my fiancé and my wallet were very grateful for the latter!

Labyrinth Books stands directly across the street from the university. It’s great fun to browse through the titles as you mix with students and other intelligentsia inside.

 

Photo by Jeff Bahr/ Princeton University campus “springs” to life.

Of fluffy pancakes and Cupcake Wars

Restaurants throughout town are plentiful and varied. I’m told the Triumph Brewing Company is known for good food in general and a killer burger (considered by some as the best in Princeton) in particular, but I have yet to confirm this. I can speak for a few other establishments, however. PJ’s Pancake House at 154 Nassau St. has been a Princeton mainstay since 1962. To come here and not sample its delightfully fluffy pancakes is like traveling to Paris and ignoring The Louvre.

Since we’ve now thrown caloric caution to the wind, you may wish to gorge on some great ice cream and/or chocolates at Thomas Sweet Ice Cream and Chocolate at 183 Nassau Street. This cute-as-a-button shop features a variety of premium ice cream flavors that are on continual rotation, as well as a variety of boxed and unboxed chocolates. Try the “Blend-in” (ice cream blended in with your choice of nuts, candy, or fruit). It’s a local favorite for a reason. Trust me.

If you follow the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” and would like to sample a cupcake made by the winner of the 2011 skirmish, beat a sweet retreat to the House of Cupcakes at 30 Witherspoon St. There you will find a daily offering of 20 different cakes vying for your culinary attention. How sweet it is.

 

More to see and do

I’ve merely touched on the many things to see and do in and around Princeton, but that leaves more for you to discover when you get there. Just in case you thought I was going to leave you high and dry in the intrigue department, worry not my faithful friends. A little-known sliver of offbeat information follows.

 

An interesting fact that the Chamber of Commerce won’t tell you:

Only one week after the 9/11 attacks, an already frightened America received another scare when an unknown entity sent letters containing anthrax through the U.S. Mail. The highly toxic envelopes killed five people and sickened 17 others. After an extensive investigation, it was determined that the envelopes had been mailed from a Princeton address. And the box was located on Nassau Street no less. Happy travels!

Nutley Police Blotter

April 4

At 11:47 p.m. police responded to a fire alarm at a Park Ave. apartment complex and were directed to the boiler room where one of the doors appeared to have been pried open. Inside, a smoke alarm was hanging by its wiring and several 40 oz. beer bottles were left near the stairwell. Three juveniles were seen running from the area. An investigation is ongoing.

Was it a case of criminal mischief? At 10:53 a.m. police were called to a Franklin Ave. office building whose occupants noticed that the fiberglass wall on the building’s west side was punctured by holes. Security cameras on the premises were being checked for possible clues.

April 3

A vandal tossed eggs at the home and car of a N. Spring Garden St. resident at 10:59 p.m. A vehicle was observed speeding away from the area at the time of the incident, police said. The homeowner managed to clean up the mess.

A selfish movie fan left the Nutley Public Library at 6:40 p.m. with three DVD films tucked under his shirt but, after being alerted by library staff, police spotted someone matching the thief’s description near Yantacaw Park. They detained David O’Connor, 55, last known living in Nutley, after finding the missing DVDs on him. O’Connor also had an outstanding warrant from Belleville and, after being charged with theft of library materials, was turned over to Belleville P.D. pending a court appearance on the theft charge.

Someone cut through the fence at a Cook Road location and stole copper pipe and wire from the property. The incident was reported by PSE&G at 1:19 p.m. and the utility repaired the fence. An investigation is ongoing.

April 2

A vandal spray painted graffiti containing a vulgar animation, along with the tag KONY on a township street sign near Walnut St. and Nutley Ave. The incident was logged at 3:54 p.m. Anyone with information is asked to call Nutley P.D. at (973) 284-4940.

April 1

A man used a baseball bat to damage her car, a Chase St. woman informed police at 11:21 p.m. Police advised her she had the right to file a complaint against the alleged vandal.

Police are investigating a report from a woman that she’d left $1,000 in cash payment to her attorney in his mail slot the night before but that he claims he never received the money. Police logged the report at 9:05 p.m.

Police and fire units rushed to a Centre St. residence at 5:23 p.m. after being alerted to a gas odor. There, they found that a 1993 Nisan was leaking fuel which was running along the gutter. After deeming the situation hazardous, they confiscated the vehicle.

Police are investigating the sudden death of a 70-year-old woman found in a Hancox Ave. home at 1:52 a.m. Nutley P.D. detectives and Essex County Prosecutor’s Office investigators secured the scene and began an investigation. A forensic medical exam was pending.

Jessica Dobol, 24, of Clifton, was charged with DWI after her vehicle had crashed into a utility pole on Kingsland St. at 1:11 a.m. Dobol was released to a responsible friend, pending a court hearing.

March 31

Police were called to a San Antonio Ave. resident’s home at 8:14 p.m. to search for the resident’s missing 21-year-old son. After a brief investigation, police said the young man returned home, unharmed.

A potential scammer called a King St. resident shortly before 1 p.m. claiming to be a Verizon representative and asking for personal information. When the resident asked for the caller’s name, the person hung up. Police then returned the call, placed from “Magic Jack PC Appliance,” to the unidentified caller who answered, then hung up after police identified themselves.

A disturbance brought police to a Centre St. business at 3:16 a.m. Management then asked a customer to pay his tab and leave and the patron obliged.

March 30

At 5:58 p.m. police went to a Franklin Ave. business to mediate a complaint by a customer upset over not getting his shoes back after having left them several months ago to be fixed. Police said the manager told the customer it was the store’s policy to discard any items left for more than 30 days. Police advised the patron how to file a claim for his shoes.

Owners of a home on Prospect Ave., between Chestnut St. and Mountainview Ave., returned home at 4:06 p.m. to find their front door forced in and their property ransacked. Nutley P.D. detectives were working with the owners to determine all proceeds stolen. The burglary remains under investigation.

A WORD WITH THE PUBLISHER: What’s the buzz?

publisher@theobserver.com

By Lisa Pezzolla

Friday marks the opening day for the Yankees and spring is in the air. One thing we are not seeing too much of in the air are bees. Scientists are becoming increasingly concerned by the large number of such insects that appear to be dying, and the phenomenon is being noticed in lands as far away as Europe and India. Much of the food that we eat comes from plant sources, and those sources depend on the pollination process. Without bees, it can’t take place. It’s a frightening situation and scientists are clueless at this point. Possible causes may include radiation emitted by cellular telephone technology, fungi, and certain pesticides. How dependent are we when it comes to bees? According to some scientists, if bees became extinct, humans would follow that species in roughly four years. Yikes! Maybe the environmental groups should put their attention to our bees dying off? Just a thought!

Rituals of spring season are back

As my younger cousin ripped a liner through the infield at his T-ball practice on April 3, I couldn’t help but notice that spring had arrived.

Sure, technically spring arrived in mid-March, but with a calm breeze and warm air flowing through Riverside Park, spring finally seems to have arrived.

It’s not always the weather that gives that feeling either. The return of the sounds of the jubilant birds fill the air, whether its at normal times during the day or at the absurd times like coming home late at night. Other sounds like the wind through the now lively trees and the crack of a ball hitting a bat do it for me too.

As nature comes back to life, so does Major League Baseball, with a brand new season. Sure, many teams may not have high goals, but this is the one time of the year where many of those teams, the Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros to name a few, still can have the hopes of making it to the fall classic.

To that effect, the two local teams have varying views on the upcoming season.

The Mets got great news in the fact that Johan Santana, the 33-year-old southpaw with a $137.5 million contract, was able to make his first start since September 2, 2010 when he tore a capsule in his left shoulder.

If Santana is able to build on his 5 inning, two hit, five strikeout performance on April 5, the team could head down one of two paths. If Santana pitches well but the lineup, which has had injury issues of their own, falters, then Santana could be traded, he would have to accept given his full no-trade clause. If the lineup does well, Santana and the rest of the starting rotation could help the Mets be a dark horse team in 2012.

Their city-rival Yankees, however, have a much different view on the season. As always, the Yankees are World Series or bust. The Yankees had remained stagnant for most of the winter, hoping to inch closer to the goal of a $189 million payroll. However, in January, the Yankees traded superstar prospect Jesus Montero for equally dominant pitcher Michael Pineda. However, Pineda’s spring training injury might prove to be a problem.

While the Yankees surely have enough talent to get them to the postseason, one can only wonder how much longer the older guys, Jeter, Rodriguez, etc. will continue to play like some of the best players in the league and become more of a burden.

Regardless of the outcomes at the end of the season, the thrill of baseball and spring’s return surely will wake up those still stuck in the winter hibernation.

 

-Anthony J. Machcinski

We’ve got mail

 

To the Publisher:

This past winter brought us crippling droughts and tornadoes, continuing unemployment, and partisan paralysis in Washington. I was really looking forward to March 20, first day of spring, balmy weather, blooming flowers, and the Great American Meatout.

According to its website (www.meatout.org), Meatout has grown since 1985 into the world’s largest annual grassroots diet education campaign. A thousand communities in all 50 states and two dozen other countries host educational events. They challenge visitors to turn over a new leaf on the first day of spring, to kick the meat habit, and to get a fresh start with a wholesome diet of vegetables, fruits, and grains.

The Meatout diet is touted by leading health authorities. I found it very easy to follow, and I feel great. I get all the recipes and other information I need by entering “live vegan” in my Internet search engine. I spice up my diet by exploring the rich array of delicious soy- and grain-based meat and dairy alternatives in my local supermarket.

-Kenneth Miller, Kearny

 

3 from W. Hudson cited as education facilitators

By Ron Leir

Three West Hudson residents were among more than 30 women from around the county who were feted March 14 at Hudson County’s annual celebration of Women’s History Month.

They were Mary Ann Dunphy, of Harrison; and Sandra McCleaster and Kathy Moss, both of Kearny.

The event, held in the Conrad Rotunda of the historic Brennan Courthouse in Jersey City, was co-hosted by Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise and Bayonne Freeholder Doreen DiDomenico.

The women were honored for having “made a difference in our community and our world in the field of education or in support of expanding educational opportunity,” according to a county release.

The event also marked the centennial anniversary of the Girl Scouts of America.

“I am fond of saying that I was raised by women,” DeGise told the audience. DeGise’s mother and older sister raised him after his father’s death when he was still a small boy. “That is why I appreciate so much this chance each year to honor Hudson County women who have made a powerful, positive impact on our community,” he said.

DiDomenico, the only female on the county’s Board of Chosen Freeholders, said: “The National Women’s History Project, from whom the County adopts its annual theme, focused this year on access to college education for women. We chose to expand the theme of education and look at how it empowers women. We are honoring women who are school teachers, literacy volunteers, fundraisers, educational administrators, historical preservation advocates, business mentors, artists, counselors and legislators, all of whom through both professional and volunteer work, have inspired, empowered and assisted others through education.”

Mary Ann Dunphy has a B.A. in elementary education and a master’s in literacy education, along with a reading specialist certification and certificates from Seton Hall and Kean University in Holocaust education.

Having taught in Harrison for more than three decades, Dunphy has been an advocate for child literacy and, throughout the year, directs the children’s programs, including several summer programs, at the Harrison Public Library. Active in many community endeavors, she encourages her students to “give back” to the community.

Sandra McCleaster, a lifelong Kearny resident, is a career educator, having logged 30 years teaching in allied health education, currently as adjunct professor at Bergen Community College.

McCleaster is also a veteran respiratory therapist, educator and author. She is past president of the N.J. Society for Respiratory Care, a member of the Kearny Museum Committee and has served in the role of president/treasurer of the Literacy Volunteers of West Hudson since 2000.

Kathy Moss is starting her 15th year as an ELS tutor for the Literacy Volunteers of West Hudson, serving adult immigrant women. She helps prepare them for the U.S. Citizenship test, the TOEFL qualifying exam for university admission, and filling out applications for jobs and schools. She also provides background on American culture and navigates through any obstacles they run into living in their adopted land.

31 others from all over Hudson County were also honored as a part of the ceremony.

Commissioner hopes you mind your manners

Brian Haggerty (c), flanked by fans Rocco Mazza and Margaret Frontera at Lyndhurst Public Library

 

By Ron Leir

 LYNDHURST –

Are you one of those unfortunate souls who slurp their soup?

Do you “feel badly” when you’re unwell?

Are you comfortable plodding around in sneakers at a formal affair?

If you’ve answered “yes” to the above queries, then, dear reader, you are clearly in need of Brian C. Haggerty’s “Personal & Professional Life Skills For Success,” a prescriptive approach to functioning well in the world, no matter what your station in life.

It’s an “expansion and enhancement” of the Lyndhurst resident’s first book, “Mannerly Speaking: A Modern Framework for Social and Business Etiquette; Grammar and Public Speaking,” which was published last year.

So enlightening is his new text that the Belleville Board of Education recently engaged Haggerty, a member of the Lyndhurst Township Commission, to impart his insights to high school students one day a week for five weeks.

“I wrote it, more or less, as a textbook that could be adopted by schools,” Haggerty told a small audience invited last week to the Lyndhurst Public Library to learn more about the new book. “There’s a need and a calling for it.”

For the most part, the author drew rave reviews. Several people agreed that the social skills promoted by the book were missing from many of today’s citizenry – young and old, alike.

Evelyn Pezzolla, president of the Library Board, said: “I read the first book and Bryan does a wonderful job with it. We’re so proud.” She said that young people could benefit by a thorough grounding in both book’s contents.

As a former businesswoman, Pezzolla said, she discovered that, “It’s surprising what young people need to know and don’t (know).” When she was hiring receptionists, Pezzolla added, “it was surprising to see how many (job applicants) don’t know what to wear and are frightened to use the phone.”

Indeed, Haggerty’s new book touches on those issues and more, offering tips on “making the best personal presentation in each of three key areas in which we are assessed by others: the way we carry and conduct ourselves, the manner in which we speak and the way we dress.”

The book, he said, is intended as a “confidence builder” and a tool that will unlock doors for the otherwise uninitiated who haven’t learned these success skills, which are generally “not taught in schools and not promoted in popular culture.”

In a nutshell, Haggerty said, “it’s about being civil – creating an atmosphere where everybody feels comfortable … treating people the way you’d wish to be treated.”

On speaking well, “knowing what to say and how to say it” – as opposed to concentrating on speaking the “King’s English” – is essential for younger folks competing for a job or promotion, Haggerty said, “because employers, above all else, look for the ability to communicate.”

Common vocabulary usage pitfalls noted by Haggerty include the confusion between “I” (subject) and “me” (object); “irregardless” (wrong) versus “regardless” (correct); “I could care less” (meaningless) vs. “I couldn’t care less” (correct); and “lie” (recline or resting) vs. “lay” (put or place an object).

On conducting ourselves, people should pay attention to “being on time, being your word, being reliable,” according to Haggerty. Equally important, he said, are quick responses to dinner/party invitations and dining etiquette, such as how to properly engage in conversations at the table, understanding place settings and use of utensils, passing food at the table, not to mention bill paying and tipping.

On how to dress, Haggerty observed that “jeans, T-shirts and sneakers” seem to be the preferred mode for teens. What’s more, he added, “If I go to one more funeral where the altar boy is wearing sneakers under his robes, I’m going to scream.”

With that in mind, Haggerty is happy to outline the “classic dress codes,” aimed at “dressing for success,” whether it’s for a job interview or for a formal affair.

A tuxedo may be fine for some occasions, he said, “but I’m trying to bring back the white tie and tails as formal attire.” Some misguided folks are of a mind to appear in loud, colorful garb that only call attention to themselves, Haggerty said. Guests at a formal affair should dress the same, whether in white or black, he said, because “the purpose is to honor the event, not the individual.”

Civility says it all, Haggerty said. “It’s not about ourselves – it’s respect for each other in society. Each of us needs to embody civility to make a better world. Instead of yelling and screaming at each other, much better to hold back before you speak.”

No use blaming TV for broadcasting the frequent vitriol mouthed by critics or politicians of all stripes, Haggerty said. “We’re caught up in sensationalism today and the media is a reflection of what we the people want to see,” he said.

“That’s why I don’t write negative messages on email and, remember, given our technology, what you write is there forever, and, by the way, that’s why I use spell check,” Haggerty noted.

Also to be avoided like the plague, he said, is texting or taking a phone call during a conversation or at the dinner table. But here again, you can’t fault the instruments themselves for the lack of civility, he said. “Technology is an extension of who we are.”

And that’s why there must be a true commitment by people to engage in civil behavior, Haggerty said, because “you can’t legislate that. Nothing will change unless we, individually, change ourselves.”

“Personal & Professional Life Skills” (173 pages with illustrations) is available in softcover through amazon.com.

 

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