web analytics

Harrison hoop legend McDonough-Huaranga named new athletic director

Photo by Jim Hague/ Kim McDonough-Huaranga, the all-time leading scorer in Hudson County basketball history during her playing days at Harrison High School, has been named as the school’s new athletic director.

 

By Jim Hague

Kim McDonough-Huaranga has been a trend setter, a history maker for most of her life – even as a history teacher.

As a high school basketball player at Harrison High School, graduating in 1998, McDonough became the alltime leading scorer in the history of Hudson County high school basketball – among both boys and girls – totaling an astounding 2,760 points, earning All-State honors twice.

After playing at St. Peter’s College and eventually earning a Master’s degree in administration, McDonough returned home to Harrison to become a teacher and more importantly, to become the first woman to coach the boys’ varsity basketball team at her alma mater.

Now, McDonough-Huaranga has another distinction, another first. She was recently appointed as the new Vice- Principal in charge of athletics, serving as the school’s athletic director, the first female to hold the position.

The 32-year-old Huaranga replaces the recently retired Alan Doffont, who held the position for the last two years.

“I’m very excited for this great opportunity,” said Huaranga, who took over the responsibilities Monday. “I’m happy to come back to Harrison High School and work with the fine student/athletes, as well as working with the other teachers and faculty.”

For the past nine years, Huaranga has been a history teacher in the Harrison school system, working at Washington Middle School.

But when the district posted the position upon news of Doffont’s retirement, Huaranga acted quickly and applied for the job.

“I do love teaching and I had a great experience in the classroom, but I did want to eventually move to athletic administration,” Huaranga said.

After taking a few years away from coaching to have two children – son Anthony, 3, and daughter Giuliana, 1 – Huaranga returned to the coaching duties at Washington Middle School while her friend and teammate Kim Nicosia was on maternity leave.

“I did get back into the coaching field and got a little taste of what I was missing,” Huaranga said.

She said that she never really wanted to be one to be a trend setter.

“It was never really the objective to be the first in anything,” said Huaranga, the niece of Harrison Mayor Raymond McDonough. “I’m proud of what I was able to do and my accomplishments in basketball, whether I was playing or coaching. I just always wanted to do my best. That was the main goal. I’m happy with what I’ve done.”

However, being the first female athletic director – and the lone female administrator in the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference – will provide somewhat of a challenge.

“I hope I can bring a new perspective to the program,” Huaranga said. “That we can instill the pride and sportsmanship that has always been a part of the Blue Tide.”

Huaranga, whose husband Alfredo is a Harrison native who played football at St. Peter’s Prep, has not attended a meeting yet as the Harrison AD, but she’s ready to enter the all-boys’ network of athletic administration.

“The gender issue doesn’t bother me at all,” Huaranga said. “Being the only woman in the room won’t be an issue at all. I think we’re all going to work together and help each other out. I’ve received a great welcome from the other ADs.

I’ve received a lot of calls and e-mails, congratulating me and offering me help. I’m really looking forward to working with the other ADs.” Huaranga said that she had a good initiation from Doffont before he retired. The two worked together last week going over the details, making it an easy transition.

“Mr. Doffont was more than helpful,” Huaranga said.

Huaranga was asked if it would be a little funny, sitting in the same seat once occupied by her former high school coach and mentor Jack Rodgers, who was the longtime Harrison AD before he retired two years ago.

“He did reach out to me and congratulate me,” Huaranga said. “When I was at St. Peter’s, I did my internship with Rodg. I had a lot of meetings with him and he made me work. He said that he hoped I remembered everything I learned from him and that internship. I would say that I take the position he had with pride and take the things I learned from him by paying for him and put it in the job. I’m glad I’m able to come back and now do the same with this current group of athletes.”

Huaranga said that she will keep Rodgers’ phone number handy in case she needs some advice.

“It’s a great place and a great opportunity,” Huaranga said. “Harrison is a place where the student/athletes and coaches work well together. I’m just there to hope that they continue to excel in the classroom and in their respective sports.”

The necessity of strategy

 

By Randy Neumann

No matter what investors do with their money, there are risks involved that can derail their financial goals. If they invest, they can suffer losses. If they don’t, inflation can erode the value of their savings. For investors to reach their goals, all of these risks need to be anticipated and managed through a solid financial plan.

Building such a plan – one that can endure over the years – doesn’t happen by accident. Investors need a solid understanding of every investment in their portfolio, and the risks they carry. They need a strategy that prepares them for a variety of economic environments.

I recently attended a seminar titled “Rethinking Risk,” presented by Invesco, one of the largest money management firms in the world. The presentation, which had some interesting insights into investing, began with five myths offset by five truths followed by five actions.

Here they are.

Myth 1

Myth: “My portfolio will be in fine shape if it has more up years than down years.”

Truth: The magnitude of gains and losses counts more than their frequency. Action: Understand the market scoring system and design an investment strategy accordingly.

Myth 2

Myth: “Missing the market’s best days is the worst thing I could do to my portfolio.”

Truth: The market’s worst days are just as important as its best days (and maybe even more). Action: Remain invested, but seek to avoid catastrophic losses.

Myth 3

Myth: “Market returns are the key to my portfolio’s value.”

Truth: Contributions form the foundation of a portfolio’s value. Action: Maximize contributions, and build goals based on realistic savings assumptions.

Myth 4

Myth: “If there’s no sign of recession (or recovery) on the horizon, I don’t need to prepare for one.”

Truth: Prudential risk management means always being prepared. Action: Be prepared for the unexpected.

Myth 5

Myth: “I’m diversified – my portfolio has lots of different stocks.”

Truth: True diversification is based on sources of risks, not returns. Action: Diversify investment portfolios by sources of risks, not returns.

Let’s begin by separating the myth from the truth in number 1. It’s true that from 1926 to 2010, the S&P 500 Index has posted 61 positive years and only 24 negative years. That would be good news for an investment portfolio – if it were scored by “match play” rules, like tennis. In that scenario, investors would be winners, if the up years outnumber the down years. How well they performed in each of those years wouldn’t matter.

However, in reality, portfolios are scored under “stroke play” rules – like golf. In stroke play, it doesn’t matter how many individual holes you win, it’s the total score that counts. Mistakes on just one hole or two can ruin an otherwise well-played game. Likewise, in investing, it may take just one or two exceptionally bad years to push an investor off the path to victory.

As we saw during the 2000s, it’s possible for the market to have more up years than down years, yet still lose money on average.

Last Decade’s Scorecard: Winner or Loser

The tennis player would consider this a victory. The golfer – and the investor – would not.

Average annual returns of the S&P 500 index (in percentages): 2000, -9.10; 2001, -11.88, 2002, -22.09; 2003, 28.67; 2004, 10.87; 2005, 4.91; 2006, 15.78; 2007, 5.49; 2008, -36.99; 2009, 26.47.

The total return for the decade (cumulative) was -9.10 percent, with 6 up years and 4 down years. (Source: Lipper Inc. The S & P 500 index is an unmanaged index considered representative of the US stock market. An investment cannot be made directly in an index. Past performance is no guarantee of comparable future results.)

Now that we know the market keeps score, an important question remains: In investing, how is victory achieved?

Many investors believe if their portfolio makes money during their investment lifetime, they’ve achieved victory. Once again, we’re mixing myth and reality.

Investment results are one thing; financial goals are another. You have only achieved victory when your investment portfolio generates enough income to provide you with a comfortable retirement, and, if it is your goal, to provide a nest egg for the next generation.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for the individual. Randy Neumann, CFP® is a registered representative with and securities and insurance offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC. He can be reached at 600 East Crescent Avenue, Suite 104, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458, 201-291-9000.

Obituaries

 

Catherine Gillespie

Catherine Marie Gillespie “Kathleen” (nee Watson), 76, of Walls, Miss., formerly of Kearny, entered eternal rest on June 30.

Beloved wife of the late James; devoted mother of James and his wife Deborah (nee Sinsheimer), Alice and her husband Michael Gumm, David Gillespie, Joyce and her husband Victor Zazzali, and the late Kevin Gillespie; cherished grandmother of Laurie, Jamie, James, Kevin, Jonathan, and Christopher and great-grandmother of Ayanna and Nicolas; dear sister of Jack, James and Thomas Watson and the late Jean Thompson and Robert Watson.

The funeral will be conducted from the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison, on Saturday, July 7, at 10 a.m. A funeral Mass at Holy Cross Church, Harrison, at 10:30 a.m., followed by entombment at Holy Cross Chapel Mausoleum, North Arlington. Friends may call Friday, July 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. and Saturday, July 7, from 9 a.m.

For directions, information or to send condolences to the family please visit: www.mulliganfuneralhome.org.

Catherine expired at her home in Walls, Miss. She was born in and lived in Kearny before moving to W. Palm Beach, Fla., where she lived for four years before moving to Walls six years ago.

Sarah Higney

Sarah “Sadie” Higney (Mitchell), 73, died on Wednesday, June 27, in St. Michael’s Medical Center, Newark.

Arrangements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral mass was offered in St. Cecilia Church, Kearny, followed by private cremation. Condolences and memories may be shared at www.thiele-reid.com

Sarah was born in Glenboig, Scotland. She immigrated to Canada before moving to Kearny in 1963.

Mrs. Higney was a member of the Xaverian Mission Guild of Kearny, the Society of the Little Flower, and a former treasurer of the Celtic Boys Club of Scotland.

She is survived by her husband Owen; children Esther Jewart (Timothy), Mary Evanchick (Mark), and Peter Higney; sisters, Catherine Mitchell, Anna Morrison, Mary Rodgers and Aileen McGinn; four grandchildren, Madelyn Evanchick, Ryan Jewart and Jessica and Jaiden Higney.

She was predeceased by her son William J. Higney on January 6, 2012.

Marilyn Madden

Marilyn B. Madden (Hook), 73, died on Sunday, June 24, at her home in Kearny.

Arrangements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral mass was offered in St. Cecilia Church, Kearny, followed by private cremation. Condolences and memories may be shared at www.thiele-reid.com.

Marilyn was born in Jersey City and was a lifelong resident of Kearny.

She was employed by the Kearny Board of Education for 25 years retiring in 2006 as a secretary in the high school Guidance Department. Marilyn was a member of the Arlington Woman’s Club-EMD, the St. Stephen’s Seniors and the Kearny Seniors.

She is survived by her son James P. Madden; brother Ronald Hook (Georgiana); brother-in-laws Robert Madden (Robin), Paul Madden and her sister-in-law Mary Loria (Peter). Marilyn also leaves behind many nieces and nephews, family, very good friends and her loyal dog Molly. She was predeceased by her husband John J. Madden.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to Compassionate Care Hospice Foundation, 11 Independence Way, Newark, DE 19713 or to the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown Memorial Hospital, 100 Morris Ave., Morristown, NJ 07960-6095.

Theft of computers was inside job, cops say

Photo courtesy Nutley Police/ Ritacco

 

A Nutley public school employee has been working hard but apparently not on the job he was being paid to do, according to police.

On June 28 police arrested Michael Ritacco, 28, of Lyndhurst, in the offices of the Nutley Board of Education after detectives learned he was allegedly stealing computers from the district.

Ritacco, a school computer technician, has been charged with 10 counts of theft of moveable property and could be facing additional charges in connection with the alleged crime, police said.

The suspect’s uncle, also named Michael Ritacco, is the former Toms River Schools Superintendent awaiting sentencing on corruption charges.

Police said their first break in the case came after learning that anindividual had purchased a white I-Mac Apple computer registered to Nutley public schools from a Saddlebrook pawnbroker.

An investigation led detectives to the recovery of 10 laptops and two Apple desktops from several pawnbrokers. They also discovered that more than 10 additional computers had been sold.

As an offshoot of that investigation, police said Kearny Police had begun its own probe of a pawnbroker in Kearny that was allegedly altering serial numbers to evade the identification of fenced proceeds.

Detectives believe that there could be as many as 30 or more computer units from the Nutley school district unaccounted for and they are working with the school board’s Information & Technology unit to research computer records.

Police said the missing computers are valued at $1,000 apiece so the total loss to the township and the school district could surpass $30,000.

Police Chief John Holland lauded the conscientious Good Samaritan who notified police after learning that the computer purchased was already registered to the district – an action that helped police track down the suspect.

Other incidents logged the past week on the Nutley Police blotter included the following:

June 29

Police said they surprised a group of young people drinking alcohol in Booth Park at 9:55 p.m. and, as a police cruiser approached, the group ran away, dropping cases of beer they were carrying in the process. Police caught up with one of them, a 20-year-old youth, against whom charges are pending.

June 28

Two apparently unrelated cases of vandalism were reported during the morning. At 10:35 a.m. a Florence St. resident reported that several juveniles were kicking decorative stones over the grounds but when the resident confronted the youths, they restored the stones and apologized, police said. At 9:43 a.m. police said a Monsignor Owens Place resident called to report that someone had poured an unknown gel on the resident’s driveway and car and had written curse words. Police are investigating this incident.

June 27

A catcher playing in a women’s softball game at Yantacaw Park told police that spectators had harassed her and had made threatening comments to her. The incident was logged at 8:14 p.m.

At 11:08 a.m. someone driving a tractor trailer pulled in front of a Passaic Ave. business and stole several containers with cooking grease, the business owner reported to police.

A Parallel St. landlord called police at 9:50 a.m. after discovering a lot of damage to a recently vacated apartment. Police documented the damage and advised the landlord about signing a complaint against the former tenants.

June 26

Three juveniles were detained and turned over to their parents’ custody after police stopped them from continuing to kick over several recyclable containers on Centre St. at 11:52 p.m. All three were charged with improper behavior.

A dog that ran out of a Walnut St. resident’s yard attacked a 15-year-old girl walking her dog on that block at around 5 p.m. Both suffered minor injuries. Police issued a summons to the aggressive dog’s owner.

Police stopped Jessica Amaro, 22, of Bloomfield, as she was driving on Harrison St. at 12:52 p.m. and arrested her for an outstanding warrant. She was released after posting the required $339 bail.

A Nutley resident placed a handbag containing valuable electronics on a bench in Yantacaw Park to run a quick lap and, upon returning, found that someone had removed the contents. The incident was logged at 11:28 a.m.

A Bloomfield Ave. resident called police at 6:09 a.m. to report that someone had burgled the resident’s 1993 Ford and stolen several items from it.

After hearing a loud exhaust at 12:22 a.m., a Princeton Ave. resident looked out the window only to someone riding away with the resident’s 1996 Honda. Police are investigating.

June 25

At 3:25 p.m., a Franklin Ave. gas station attendant damaged a customer’s car by breaking a cap off, causing $500 in damage, while fueling, according to police.

At 12:34 a.m. police stopped Nicholas Napatono, 19, of Belleville, near Washington Ave. for allegedly driving erratically and detected a strong odor of suspected marijuana coming from the vehicle. After recovering two bags of marijuana and paraphernalia, police charged Napatono with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He also received motor vehicles summonses. He was released pending a court hearing. Police Director Alphonse Petracco said the department is continuing enhanced drug enforcement.

June 24

At 7:29 p.m. police caught two juveniles trying to break into the Nutley Park and Recreation Building and took them to headquarters where they released them to their parents’ custody. Charges are pending.

June 23

At 6:13 p.m. police responded to a motor vehicle accident on William St. in which the driver had swerved to avoid juveniles skateboarding in the road. No injuries were reported.

June 22

At 3:18 p.m. police responded to Passaic Ave. and Rutgers Place where a 19-year-old female alleged she was struck by a passing car which fled before police arrived. The teen, who complained of a hip injury, was taken to an area hospital.

– Ron Leir

GRADS OF 2012!

PHOTOS BY ANTHONY J. MACHCINSKI & NATALIE RODRIGUEZ/ PLAYING OUT AN ANNUAL HIGH SCHOOL TRADITION, MEMBERS OF KEARNY AND HARRISON’S (CENTER) CLASS OF 2012 PARADE DOWN KEARNY AVE.

Alleged slayer found dead in local motel

 

Photo courtesy Delaware State Police/ Surveillance camera captures image of Pawan Kumar at a convenience store near crime scene.

 

 

By Jeff Bahr

BELLEVILLE

Pawan Kumar, 26, of Wilmington, Del., was found dead in a motel room at the Belleville Motor Lodge on Tuesday, June 19, according to Essex County Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman Katherine Carter.

Thus ended the short search for the man sought in connection with the apparent slaying of Danielle Mehlman, 26, of Bensalem, Pa., whose lifeless body was found in a Dewey Beach, Del., motel on Monday, June 18.

Kumar was pronounced dead at the Belleville Motor Lodge at 1:30 p.m. said Carter. His death, pending confi rmation by an autopsy, came as a result of an apparent suicide by drug overdose, she said.

Kumar’s death occurred on the very day that warrants were issued for his arrest.

Dubbed a “person of interest” by Delaware police, Kumar was being sought on charges of first-degree murder and possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony, according to Delaware State Police spokesman Cpl. Gary Fournier. Surveillance photos showing Kumar shopping in a convenience store near the crime scene were released on Monday.

Mehlman, the mother of a four-year-old son, apparently met Kumar on an online dating site within the last few weeks, according to Mehlman’s family members. From there, things become more muddled.

Mehlman was last heard from when she text-messaged a friend at 5:30 a.m. on Monday. Five hours later her body, with apparent stab wounds, was discovered by a cleaning woman in a ground-fl oor room at the Atlantic Oceanside Motel in Dewey Beach – a popular seaside destination.

The first inkling that something was amiss came when Mehlman failed to pick up her son on Monday afternoon from the boy’s father, Jamie Russen. The youngster was spending time with his dad in New Jersey in celebration of Father’s Day.

Mehlman’s family was aware that she was spending the weekend in Dewey Beach, but knew nothing of Kumar. The tragic event registers as the first homicide in Dewey Beach since the town was incorporated in 1981.

“We are deeply saddened by the first murder ever in the history of Dewey Beach,” said Dewey Beach Mayor Diane Hanson in a press release.

“Dewey Beach has always been a place to come and play safely. Public safety is our top priority and we plan to keep it that way,” she added.

When contacted by The Observer, a representative of the Belleville Motor Lodge declined to comment.

Get ready to ‘lock & load’ on Arlington Ave. in ‘13

Photo courtesy Action Target/ Here’s what stalls for proposed gun range could look like.

Photo by Ron Leir/ Jonathan Giordano stands in space that he wants to convert into a gun range/tactical training facility.

 

 

By Ron Leir

KEARNY –

A local cabinetmaker aims to nail down a deal that he figures could be a real shot in the arm for the town.

Jonathan Giordano, president of West Hudson Lumber & Millwork on Arlington Ave., wants to create an indoor shooting range designed for the use, optimally, of private members, police and the general public.

And he’s already taken the first step to that goal by getting the Kearny Town Council, on June 12, to ratify a business development loan for $250,000 at 4% interest from the Kearny Enterprise Zone Development Corp. that the KEZDC board awarded May 31.

Town Administrator Michael Martello said that Giordano – whose project site is located in a redevelopment zone – is pitching a “state of the art facility with all the bells and whistles.”

Ultimately, Giordano would have to go before the town’s Zoning Board of Adjustment for approvals, Martello said.

In the meantime, Giordano said he’s lining up potential investors to help finance the venture which he and his brother Mark Giordano, an attorney and financial consultant, and partner Russ Pastena of North Caldwell peg at $1.2 million to $1.4 million to assemble. About half of the cost would go for a ventilation system that would filter out impurities from spent lead bullets.

“Fewer than five companies build these ranges,” Mark observed. “We want a higher end range, with a lounge and a space where you could hold meetings. Hopefully, we’d draw a lot of law enforcement personnel to come in.”

“Two of the companies that we are considering for the construction of the range are Action Target in Provo, Utah, and Meggitt (Training Systems, headquartered in England),” Mark said.

Why a shooting range? For a growing number of recreation enthusiasts, Jonathan said, “guns are taking the place of golf. A lot of people just don’t want to spend several hours playing on a course.” He mentioned one area bank president he’s talked to as a possible investor who prefers firing at targets to swinging a club.

And the Giordanos themselves grew up with guns. Mark recalled how he and his brother “used to shoot .22 caliber rifles at the old range near the railroad tracks. My brother was (age) nine; I was eight. I remember, one year, we won the ‘turkey shoot’ contest.’’

The Giordanos said that the KEZDC loan would facilitate the repaving of most of the Arlington Ave. approach, off Schuyler Ave., to the project site, two currently vacant attached buildings at 70-80 Arlington Ave. comprising 24,000 square feet of space, previously rented by a beverage company that moved out in January.

The brothers’ goal is to reconfigure the space to accommodate a firing range, along with a “virtual reality” weapon training facility and a sales office featuring guns and hunters’ equipment including camouflage outfits and bows and arrows.

They’re planning to carve out 18,000 square feet for the range, members’ lounge and gun sales section and the balance for a “police and tactical” training facility.

While the primary purpose is to make the range available to a “members-only gun club,” said Jonathan Giordano, “we also want to support the Kearny Police Department and other police agencies like the FBI.” There may also be room for a fledgling Kearny High School rifle club to participate, he said.

For Kearny Police Chief John Dowie, having access to a town-based range would be ideal since currently, members of the department go to a range in North Arlington to do their state-mandated semi-annual weapon qualification tests under a contract between Kearny and North Arlington. It would be much more efficient for the officers to visit a local range to qualify and/or practice, the chief added.

“We’d definitely be interested,” Dowie said.

Before anyone would be accepted for club membership, “we’d get a background check so you know they have a permit to carry a weapon,” Jonathan said. “And we’d probably get several retired Kearny police officers to help staff the facility.”

Kearny’s Bill Fearon, who, according to Mark, “will likely be the head range officer and training director,” is on active duty with the New Jersey State Police. Fearon’s website describes him as a “20- plus year law enforcement professional” who “developed and implemented security action plans currently used by MetLife Stadium.”

Annual membership fees could run $400 to $450, Jonathan estimated. “We might rent them lockers and offer them concessions,” he said.

As part of the sales office, “maybe we’d have a gunsmith to customize weapons for our customers,” he added.

But it won’t happen overnight, the brother conceded.

“We’ve got a bunch of hurdles,” said Mark. Like getting sign-offs from the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, federal Environmental Protection Agency and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, securing Kearny Planning Board sanctioning, hiring a contractor and lining up the rest of the financing needed.

If things go smoothly, Mark said the Planning Board could review a project application by this summer, and, if it granted approval, “we could build over the fall into the winter and maybe open in January 2013.”

The way Mark figures it, the project could be a big boon for Kearny because it “could draw a lot of new people into town who might consider Kearny a desirable place to live or business executives who might see it an opportunity for investment.”

Now this engineer/artist is working on a three-dimensional canvas — over water

Photo by Ron Leir/ The artist shows off his favorite work, “Campo Viejo.”

 

By Ron Leir

HARRISON –

Even as a youngster, Felix Fuster had a fascination for forms and shapes and how they appeared on paper.

Today, Fuster is fixated on the appearance of things in three dimensions as the project engineer for the state Department of Transportation’s Rt. 7 Wittpenn Bridge replacement project.

The existing vertical lift bridge, which dates from 1930, spans the Hackensack River and links Kearny and Jersey City. A new bridge is being built just north of the old one.

In a storefront office on Harrison Ave., just a short ride from the project site, Fuster and his staff review blueprints and, from there, make daily site visits to check on the progress of the estimated $700 million job.

But it’s also in that office where the visitor will be treated to an appreciation for the veteran civil engineer’s artistic side – a remarkable wall-to-wall display of Fuster’s paintings.

Completely unschooled in the art, Fuster has produced a remarkable variety of portraits, landscapes and seascapes, ranging in size from a square-rigged sailing ship on the ocean, represented in several square inches, to a striking flamenco dancer, captured on an 8-foot by 4-foot canvas.

Some “superhero” comic book/movie characters, like Batman, are represented. “Those I did for my grandkids,” he said.

His collection, amassed over a period of years, was overflowing at his Roselle home, where he paints on a screened deck, so he arranged to hang many of them at the office, clearly enhancing the workplace, as evidenced by supportive co-workers.

“Since I was a kid, at age eight or nine, I was always doing art work,” recalled Fuster. “I liked to draw faces, mostly. I used ink, pencil, pastels.”

He credits his art teacher at Thomas Jefferson Boys’ High School in Elizabeth – where he grew up in the Italian section known as Peterstown – with recognizing his aptitude for sketching and encouraging him to advance his skill through formal study after graduation.

Photo courtesy Felix Fuster/ “Otono” depicts an autumn forest scene.

 

 

So he applied – and was accepted – to New York University to pursue liberal arts but after his practical-minded dad discouraged him from that course of action, Fuster shifted his career goal and enrolled at the former Newark College of Engineering, earning a civil engineering degree in 1981.

Fuster’s first job was at the World Trade Center, with Ebasco Geo-Technical Services, where he worked six months before leaving for a management position with Proctor & Gamble in Puerto Rico. After a six-month stay, he returned to the U.S. and accepted a trainee position with the DOT. He’s been with the state ever since.

But he never gave up his love for the arts and has never stopped painting.

“I like acrylics,” Fuster said. “It dries in a few minutes. Oil takes too long.”

He’s also dabbled in sculpture, mostly with clay but also a few involving wiring, and some murals.

At times, he likes to paint his interpretations of photographs or paintings by other artists, but his preference is for originals. He points to a particular portrait on the office wall showing a dapper-dressed fellow in a fedora and says, chuckling, “That was supposed to be Frank Sinatra, but the face didn’t quite work out. So I changed it up.”

There is clearly a European literary/historical theme that runs through a number of Fuster’s works, as evidenced by his portraits of Don Quixote and Napolean; a view of Venice; and his depiction of Columbus’ three ships enroute to the New World.

Indeed, the spirits of the Old World – liquid ones, that is – make a splash on the engineer’s canvas.

In fact, Fuster’s particular favorite among the works on display in Harrison shows a classically-attired Spaniard. But the painting’s title, “Campo Viejo,” speaks not to the elegant gentleman, but rather to the gentleman’s barely noticeable action taking place in the left corner of the portrait: he is pouring the contents of a bottle of wine into a cup. It is a wine that the artist savors.

In a large painting, we see a dapper couple embracing. That’s Fuster and his wife “when we were a little younger,” he says.

During his teenage years, Fuster says he had a stint as a puglist with the Italian Club at the Elizabeth Recreation Center. “I held my own,” he says. Today, even at age 56, the trim, muscular engineer looks like he could go a few rounds. “I love boxing,” he says, and his affection for the “Sport of Kings” is reflected in several of his paintings.

How does Fuster account for his bursts of creation? “It’s like an urge and I start drawing – pure inspiration,” he says.

And he has continued to produce, despite having lost 42 paintings some years ago when his house was flooded.

But there are also periods when he’s had no inspiration. “I have these gaps – one lasted close to nine years – when there’s nothing,” he says. “I could do 20 paintings in say, two months, and then I’ll just stop.” These blank periods “come and go” and he has no explanation for them.

Fuster says he’s never attempted to enter any juried shows nor has he tried to sell his work. Once, a gallery owner asked to borrow some of his paintings to exhibit, but selling was never his object, he insisted.

He does it purely for the pleasure of the work.

“It just relaxes me,” he says, which he values, “especially when I’m involved with construction.”

Perhaps when the current DOT project is done, we’ll see the results on a Fuster canvas.

East Coast Greenway ‘rides’ through Kearny

Photo by Jeff Bahr/ East Coast Greenway Executive Director Dennis Markatos-Soriano addressing the crowd.

 

By Jeff Bahr

A ribbon-cutting event celebrating the completion of a vital link in the East Coast Greenway project – a proposed 2,900-mile green route linking cities along the eastern seaboard – was held at Jersey City’s Lincoln Park on June 22.

A sizable number of bicyclists, route supporters and politicians turned out to champion the project and celebrate yet another urban barrier in the planned route that’s been overcome by enthusiasm, hard work and tenacity. Speeches of gratitude were commonplace, and rightfully so. The project came about only through the dedication and hard work of many, and this was their day to rejoice.

“We used to say (to bicyclists and walkers looking to get from Newark to Jersey City) at Newark Penn Station, ‘Just get on the train.’ It wasn’t safe enough,” said Dennis Markatos- Soriano, Executive Director of the East Coast Greenway Alliance. “We couldn’t recommend people on their bikes or walking go through the sections because it was set up for roads, which is logical. But we wanted to make sure that at least one good route for bikers and walkers went through the area.”

The Greenway, designed to keep bicyclists and walkers safe as they move from city to city, has overcome a great many obstacles to reach its current point. One such impediment existed in the urbanized patchwork of roads lying between Newark and Jersey City – a heavily traveled hazardous stretch that challenged route planners from the very start.

The new route comes in the form of a widened sidewalk that flanks Truck Route 1&9 and passes under a “spaghetti network of bridges,” said Markatos-Soriano.

“It provides a nice route for people. 2,900 miles is our final goal. 800 miles are (currently) on greenways that we love, that we feel are accessible to everyone from children to grandparents. It’s for everybody. We want all 2900 miles to be like that, so we’re working toward that goal.”

Such an achievement will require bike lanes, improved sidewalks, and other components necessary to keep nonmotorized route users apart and away from car traffic. It will be accomplished in such a way that “the cars and the bikes and the walkers aren’t competing, but each one has a nice route to get through the area,” explained Markatos-Soriano.

Kearny Mayor Al Santos was “extremely supportive” of the project, said Markatos-Soriano. “We had a nice meeting last year and he signed some support letters. He’s been key in this project. We really appreciate all of the Kearny support for the project.”

Mid-Atlantic Coordinator of the East Coast Greenway, Andy Hamilton, laid out the new route in detail. According to Hamilton, the link begins in Jersey City on the north side of Truck Route 1&9 and stretches to Hackensack Ave., Kearny, where it continues on the southern sidewalk following the Truck Route ramp to Doremus Ave. From there, it traces the outer edge of the Doremus Ave. cloverleaf, finally ending at Raymond Blvd. in Newark.

Just before the ribbon was cut by Jersey City Mayor, Jeramiah Healy, Markatos- Soriano talked about the humble roots from whence the project sprang, and the tangible results that now stand as proof positive of where it’s ultimately headed.

“This gets us so much closer to our dream of a safe and accessible route for bicycles, for walking, for everyone from Maine to Florida. Over the last twenty years our project has grown from a vision to 800 miles on the ground between Maine and Florida. And no section was more important than this section right here. This step forward unleashes an opportunity for health and economic well-being for residents and long-distance tourists alike.”

Kearny Police seize 90 bags of heroin in one arrest

The vice unit placed two individuals under surveillance in Veteran’s Park and during their observation, watched the two individuals engage in what they believed was a drug transaction. Before the vice squad could identify themselves, they saw one of the individuals holding a small Ziploc bag and a cigar protruding from the pocket of one of the individuals.

With that information, they placed both individuals under arrest. A search of one of the individuals yielded 12 small Ziploc bags containing cocaine and a further search yielded 90 glassine bags of suspected heroin marked “Hands Up.”

Tariq Romane, 20, from Newark, was processed and released. A 16-year-old juvenile from Newark was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of Lincoln School, and intent to distribute within 500 feet of Veteran’s Memorial Park. Here are other events from the Kearny Blotter.

Not too sharp of an idea

Kearny Police responded to the area of Garfield school on Thursday June 14 around 2:45 p.m. on the report of two men engaged in an altercation involving knives. Officers Frank West, Rich Carbone, John Fabula, Rich Pawlowski, and Det. Mike Gonzalez responded to the area to interview witnesses. After a description was formed, an area wide search was conducted. Two individuals matching the description were found walking on Brighton Ave. in the area of Liberty St. When the officers approached the men, the individuals denied having weapons, but a search of the area recovered two knives. Both individuals were then placed under arrest. Tristan Sanchez, 20, from Kearny, was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. He was also charged on two outstanding warrants, one each from Kearny and Newark. The second man, 28-year-old Aaron Kane, was charged with possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and unlawful possession of a weapon.

Quartet of robbers caught

Officers John Travelino and Derek Hemphill had obtained info that a robbery had taken place shortly before midnight on June 18. Officer Hemphill discovered the individuals on Afton St. When he began to question the individuals, one began to run, but his escape efforts were thwarted by Hemphill, who was able to grab the individual before the man could hop over a fence.

On the 18th, three of the four men were taken into custody on robbery charges, taken to headquarters and booked. A 17-year-old Kearny male was charged with robbery, conspiracy, disorderly conduct, underage possession of alcohol, and a curfew violation. 18-year-old Brandon Tice of Kearny was charged with robbery, conspiracy, and disorderly conduct. 25-year-old Joseph Cardell was charged with robbery, conspiracy, obstructing in the administration of law, hindering apprehension, and possession of alcohol in public.

On the 19th, officers went to the home of 21-year-old Scott Huaman after confirming his actions as a part of the group. He was charged with robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. Bail was set at 100,000 full with no 10 % option. He was transported to the County Jail after processing.

Observant cops lead to drug arrest

The vice unit had received info about an individual selling narcotics from a Kearny Ave. location. Police set up surveillance and felt they confirmed their information in the 100 block of Kearny Ave. Units arrived to the 100 block of Kearny Ave. and set up surveillance. Police questioned one 16-year-old male leaving the residence after they observed what they felt to be a drug transaction. The juvenile was found in possession of marijuana. Based on their observations, they returned and arrested the distributor. A 17-year-old male from Kearny was charged with distribution of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia, and distribution within 1,000 feet of St. Cecelia’s School. A search of the residence yielded a sizable amount of marijuana contained in two large, clear bags as well as 600 dollars cash believed to be from drug sales.

-Anthony J. Machcinski