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This week’s e-Edition, classifieds are now posted

This week’s e-Edition and classifieds are now posted. We apologize for the delay.

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Blood appointed

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  Take away the “acting” title: the Kearny Board of Education has formally installed Patricia Blood as its official superintendent of schools. The board took the action at a special meeting held last Thursday night at the Lincoln School. The vote was […]

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Kearny unveils new monument

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  On May 27, 1922, an estimated 25,000 people gathered in the streets around the small park where Kearny Ave. and Beech St. meet, to witness Gen. John J. Pershing personally dedicate the towering granite monument honoring the Kearny men who died […]

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Nutley cops hunt driver in fatal hit-run

A photo (above) of the suspect van was released Nov. 19 by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.   NUTLEY –  Nutley police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating the motor vehicle that struck and killed a 77-year-old woman on Centre St. on […]

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School is more than books for these kids

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  HARRISON –  At Washington Middle School in Harrison, nearly 75% of the more than 400 enrolled are just as busy with school-related projects after 3 p.m. as they are during their regular day of classes. And that’s partly by design of the school […]

 
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Dancing their way to the title

 

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Hykey/ The Lyndhurst Dance Team at the NJCDCA dance competition.

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

The stereotypical high school cheerleader is pictured as a teenager with pom-poms and a short skirt dating the quarterback on the football team. Lyndhurst Dance team looks to blow that notion off the dance floor.

The dancers showed off their moves and eventually captured the New Jersey Cheering and Dance Coaches Association (NJCDCA) title, proving that they were the best dance team in the state.

“I had an idea we could be successful after I had the amount of turnout in tryouts,” said head coach Stephanie Hykey. “We just had a lot of talent.”

The group won the title on Feb. 25 and placed second at the national championship on Mar. 3.

Winning the title has special meaning for Hykey, a Lyndhurst High School alumna from 2002 and member of the dance team during her tenure at the school. Nearly a decade later, Hykey takes pride in her team.

“I feel like it means more as a coach because I know they’re winning under my guidance. “(As a member of the team), I’m only one dancer. Being on the team it’s harder to get the girls together. I’m sure I would have loved to win one, but it’s nice to see all the time that we put into it and realize it’s paying off.”

The rewarding experience is one that Hykey shares with her players. Senior Sarah Wohlrab, who joined the team when she was a freshman, has felt the same way.

“I was so happy (when we found out we won),” she said giddily. “I’m so proud of my girls for all of their hard work and dedication, getting to practices, and giving it their all.”

Wohlrab, who joined the team after a few older members on the squad pressed her to try out when she was a freshman, also cited the comradery between the members as one of the more rewarding experiences.

“We get to be ourselves and get to know each other more,” Wohlrab said. “I was inspired by (what the older members told me) so I just did it.”

With their state win this year, Hykey sees the possibility for this kind of success next year.

“We’re only losing just one senior,” Hykey said. “We have a pretty young team and I’m thinking that the rest will come back.”

With Lyndhurst’s first state dance title ever, this group of girls has something to be proud of.

Phasing out 19th century technology

Photo by Ron Leir/ Fire Official Sam Infante (l.) and Fire Chief Joseph McCarthy check out the interior of a Gamewell alarm box at Montgomery and Williamson Sts.

 

By Ron Leir

BLOOMFIELD –

An ancient and now impractical piece of township infrastructure is targeted for the dust bin of history.

The nearly 200 Gamewell telegraph fire alarm boxes scattered around Bloomfield that haven’t been used by the public for many years are slated for removal later this year.
It’s not that they don’t work – they do, insisted Fire Chief Joseph McCarthy and Fire Official Sam Infante.

That is, they explain, the alarm device functions and if a box alarm is tripped, it will transmit the box’s coded location to the firehouse. But the problem lies with the electrical circuitry and the difficulty of finding parts for a 19th century mechanism.
“We’re dealing with wiring that’s 120 years old,” Infante said.

He can tell you the exact date of the Gamewell system’s installation here: Nov. 29, 1890.

And, Infante continued, when there’s a disruption of the electrical service and the Fire Department wants to fix the wiring, “Verizon doesn’t want us working in their manholes without a permit so we have to spend time applying for a permit.”
Then there’s the matter of spare parts to replace 19th century technology. “It used to cost $400 to replace a box,” Infante said. “Now it’s probably four times that amount.”
The Gameway Co. was taken over by Honeywell, which doesn’t make parts for those boxes or the pedestals supporting the boxes anymore, Infante said. Instead, the company recycles whatever old parts it may still have in stock, he said.

The intricacies of the Gamewell alarm are outlined in www.backtaps.com, an Internet site which seeks to keep the memory of these telegraph alarm boxes alive. Here’s the explanation it gives for the box’s operation: “The fire boxes operate using telegraph lines. Rather than having short beeps and long beeps in a series to type out letters (as in Morse Code), a fire box ‘taps’ out the number … corresponding to a code wheel…. What happens is this: The entire wired fire alarm system circuit is normally a closed circuit, meaning that electricity flows through the system without any interruptions. When the box is activated, it causes a series of ‘opens’ or taps in the pattern of the box number.” The system relies on the operation of a spring-wound clockwork mechanism, code wheel and striker to create an open circuit that produces the “taps.”

“It’s one of the best and most reliable alarm systems – if it can be maintained,” Infante said. “It’s just that now there are no spare parts available if anything goes wrong.”
Right now, he said, with the Watchung Bridge down for repairs, the circuitry connecting alarm boxes at three township schools – Brookdale, Oakview and North Middle – has been disconnected, although the bridge job is expected to be completed by next month.

So, if there’s a fire at any of those locations, “they’ve got to call us,” Infante said.
Infante said the township Board of Education will be taking bids shortly for the installation of its own central alarm monitoring system.

Several private nursing homes and some day care facilities for children and adults have their own alarm systems while others still rely on nearby Gameway boxes for coverage, he said. Senior citizen buildings have the boxes, too.

“We won’t remove the box system until everyone comes on line with an alarm system,” Infante said.

Elsewhere in Essex County, Orange and Verona still have operating Gamewell boxes; eight communities in Bergen County, including Rutherford and Hackensack, continue to use them; there are none operating in Hudson County.

A WORD WITH THE PUBLISHER: Tornado spares Cordia, Ky.

publisher@theobserver.com

 

As news flashed across television screens showing the killer tornadoes in Kentucky, my heart went out to our friends who live deep in the hollows of Kentucky. The images were scary in their own right, with tornadoes destroying towns like they were made of paper mache’ and lifting homes and vehicles off the ground like toys.

My heart went out to the people of Kentucky who we have come to love. Familiar faces went through my mind and thinking of the already bad living conditions that were made worse I became extremely concerned. and I was extremely concerned.

I made a phone call to Gino Montrone, a past organizer of the Kentucky Care Project, to find out what we could do to help, but by the grace of God, our friends , located in the central portion of the state , were left untouched.

For those of you who called with concern for those in Appalachia, thank you, and for the families who were not spared, our hearts go out to you.

No definitive answers for school shootings

On the heels of the tragic school shooting in Ohio that left three students dead and two others injured in its wake, the fruitless “dance” will once again begin. Well-intentioned people, misguided as always, will clamber over one another to get to the underlying reasons for the tragedy. They’ll search for concrete “answers” in order to “understand” precisely what motivated T.J. Lane, 17, to walk into Chardon High School on Feb. 27 and allegedly mow down his peers with a .22-caliber Ruger semiautomatic pistol.
And as always the news outlets will feed on the story like blackbirds on a carcass. In a ratings scramble, the networks will trot out their top “guns” (no pun intended) who will lean forward in their chairs and talk softly – for added drama and effect – to show genuine (manufactured) concern as they probe the “senselessness” of the killings.

Then, almost on cue, school officials and posturing politicos from far and wide will chime in. They’ll talk about “getting tougher” on school violence, and will, for the umpteenth time, reassert their “zero tolerance” policies when dealing with firearms. This will prompt another countrywide order of metal detectors; the posting of even more security guards; appeals to parents to “look for the warning signs” in their children – blah, blah, blah, ad nauseum.

The trouble is we’ve been down this road many times before. Despite all of these maneuverings, plans, tactics and policy changes, not too much has changed. Most importantly, we’re no closer to deciphering the reason that such violent acts occur in the first place. Why is this, you ask? Because there simply isn’t one definitive answer.

Irish rock ’n’ roll star Bob Geldof and his Boomtown Rats underscored this sad fact with the hit song, “I Don’t Like Mondays.” For it was on Monday, Jan. 29, 1979, that 16-year-old Brenda Ann Spencer opened fire on children happily playing in a playground at Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, Calif. Spencer killed two adults and injured eight children and a police officer that day. When asked why she did it, the unrepentant girl could only offer the flippant comment, “I don’t like Mondays – this livens up the day.” Geldof, taken by the utter senselessness of the act, became even more intrigued when journalists kept asking the young shooter why she was driven to kill.  “It was the perfect senseless act and this was the perfect senseless reason for doing it,” said Geldof. “So perhaps I wrote the perfect senseless song to illustrate it.”

Our need as human-beings to wrap everything up in tidy packages, to get to the underlying whys and wherefores of such tragedies is understandable. In our naiveté, however, we believe that if can just identify the reason for a violent act, isolate and examine it, then we can pinpoint the warning signs in the future and prevent it from occurring again.

Yet deadly school violence continues to occur despite such research, and this unproductive dance continues. Were the killings drug-related? Was bullying involved? Was the child mentally stable? Did he/she have a score to settle? Was the act the result of desensitization from watching too much violence in movies and on television? Did the child have identity issues; questions and/or shame about his/her sexuality? Did the youth have an inferiority complex?  Did alcohol play a role?  Were violent video games responsible in some way? Could the teenage infatuation with vampires have driven the youth to go on a blood-spilling mission? Enough already!

As always, this pursuit for answers, noble though it is, will amount to nothing more than an exercise in futility. People’s motives for committing unthinkable acts aren’t interchangeable and are often mired in mystery. And we as watchdogs before the fact are not clairvoyant. There is no pat set of warning signs that can be relied upon to tell us if or when someone might suddenly go off the deep end and open fire.  Geldof got it exactly right.

As harsh as it sounds, people of all ages sometimes kill simply because they kill. After the murders are committed, some murderers can’t even tell you why they committed the heinous act in the first place, which suggests that there are underlying causes for this that may never be known to any of us. End of story. Fade to black. Take it away Boomtown Rats:

And daddy doesn’t understand it/ He always said she was good as gold/ And he can see no reasons, ‘cause there are no reasons/What reason do you need to be shown?/ Tell me why! I don’t like Mondays. /Tell me why! I don’t like Mondays. /Tell me why! I don’t like Mondays./ I wanna shoot the whole day down!

– Jeff Bahr
jeffbahr@theobserver.com

You never know who’s hiding behind web

By Ron Leir 

LYNDHURST –

For kids, computers are a great resource for games, research material for school papers and … DANGER from loads of predators just waiting to exploit them.

That was the dire message delivered to parents Feb. 29 at Lyndhurst High School by Det. Michael Lemanowicz, assigned to the 31-member Bergen County Prosector’s Office Computer Crimes Task Force.

Lemanowicz and members of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement talked about “Staying Safe in Cyberspace – Internet Safety for Parents,” a wake-up call for any parent whose children use a computer at home.

Thinking of the computer as an “electronic babysitter” is a big mistake, Lemanowicz warned his audience, because of all the invisible bad guys out in cyberspace who, instead of cruising parks to seek out and prey on youngsters, now log onto web sites and enter chat rooms from the privacy of their homes to find innocent victims.

And cyberspace predators come from all ethnic groups, all walks of life, all parts of the globe, Lemanowicz reminded parents. As an example, he cited the 2006 case of a doctor from a children’s hospital in Philadelphia who traveled to Bergen County to hook up with what he thought would be a 13-year-old girl for sex. He was sentenced to seven years in prison. Or, more recently, there was an administrator in the N.J. Dept. of Transportation who was busted for child pornography.

Parents have to educate themselves about the nuances of the Internet, Lemanowicz said, because today, “kids are way ahead of us on computer savvy.”

But they’re not always savvy enough to realize who they’re dealing with on the other side of the cyberspace conversation, he said.

After he’d finished his training for entry to the computer crimes task force, Lemanowicz said he created an undercover Internet account, pretending to be a 13-year-old girl from Lyndhurst, and soon after logging into a chat room, got a “hit” from a 31-year-old Jersey City man. “On the third line of our conversation, without asking anything about me, he wanted to have sex,” the detective said.

To protect their kids against potential predators, Lemanowicz said, parents should:

Never allow a child to have an Internet connection and a web camera in his or her bedroom; keep the computer in a family room.

Check up on a child’s on-line activity, including frequent surprise peeks at the screen. Purchase of software “spy” programs that will show an archival record of the child’s online activity is recommended.

Parents can filter, block, control and/or record what a child views over the Internet.

Lemanowicz advised parents to talk to their kids about how to use the Internet and to establish rules for its use. Such rules, he said, should include these:

Never talk to a stranger, whether it be via email, instant messaging, chatting, or on-line gaming sites. One site, IRC, which, Lemanowicz said, offers “cheat codes” for Internet games, is “the ‘Wild West’ of chat rooms.”

Never enter a chat room where you don’t know all the participants, never use a web camera or voice chat with anyone you don’t know and never send your picture to anyone you don’t know. “Every single chat room has a bad guy in them,” Lemanowicz said. Particularly racy ones, he said, include Stickam, Formspring, Chat Roulette and tinychat.

Never post on-line personal information, such as last name, address, phone number or photo. Predators can exploit this information to try and create a sense of trust and intimacy or, failing that, bombard a victim with threats of exposing their contact to their parents.

And, Lemanowicz said, the real scary part is that often, rather than facing the loss of their computer as punishment, the child will risk exposing himself/herself to possible danger from a predator.

On-line harassment and threats to do harm have become a huge problem, too, the detective said. A recent survey showed that an estimated 80,000 kids nationwide “come up with an excuse every day they can’t go to school because of on-line bullying,” he said, and a good portion of those kids were found to either have special needs or were gay or lesbian or perceived of being such.

Lyndhurst Schools Supt. Tracey Marinelli said that the district has arranged for prior cyberspace safety discussions between law enforcement and parents – and with middle school kids as well. “The police are always bringing the latest and greatest information to keep our kids safe,” she said.

Several parents interviewed after the presentation said they were grateful to get that information.

Karen Breslin, mother of a third- and fourth-grader in the Lyndhurst public school system, said she found it “pretty amazing” to learn “what kids have access to on-line. It was an eye-opener.” She said both her children use the computer for homework and for games. “We keep the computer in a family room and my husband monitors the kids,” she said.

Bloomfield Restaurant Week hopes to highlight ‘Jewel of Essex County’

 

Photos by Anthony J. Machcinski

 

Photos by Anthony J. Machcinski/ Senorita’s (top) and Anthony’s Cheesecake are just two of the 24 restaurants participating in Restaurant Week, which kicked off on March 4th and will run through March 10th.

By Anthony J. Machcinski

‘Bloomfield’s restaurant scene is labeled one of the best kept secrets in New Jersey. I stand here today to say that it will no longer be a secret.”

These words, spoken by Essex County Freeholder Brendan Gill, signify the goal of Bloomfield Restaurant Week; to expose the diversity of Bloomfield’s restaurant scene.

“(Restaurant Week Committeewoman) Linda (Barucky) would always hassle me about how New York and Montclair have their restaurant week and we were sitting in Newark and they were having their restaurant week and she said, ‘Bloomfield has to have one,’ ” said liaison to the Township Council Michael Venezia at a mid-February press conference. “So I went to the council in October and it unanimously passed.”
Bloomfield Restaurant Week, which will become an annual event, will run from March 4 to 10, showcasing the many restaurants  that Bloomfield has to offer.

“What makes this unique is the diversity of the restaurants participating,” Gill said at the same press conference.

“Our main motivation was the number of diverse restaurants in town and we wanted to promote them in town and out of the area,” explained Barucky.

According to Barucky, March was chosen because, “March is generally a slow month for restaurants and we thought it might give a boost to the restaurants.”

In total, 24 restaurants, ranging in cuisine from the conventional American and Italian to the exotic Peruvian and Thai, will take part in the event.

Participating restaurants will feature prefix menus for a cheaper rate than normal, with dinners ranging from $18 to $30 and lunches from $7 to $15.

The event has restaurant owners excited about the opportunity to showcase their restaurants.

“The main thing (the week will do) is it will bring in more people and to get your name out there,” said Phil Byrne, co-owner of Anthony’s Cheesecake, the only Restaurant Week participant offering breakfast as a meal option. “We started with just lunch and it’s now a big thing. We do the normal turkey and beef things, bacon, waffles with chicken. I don’t think you get that anywhere. I think we’re a little more diverse.”

While Byrne hopes to gain more traffic in his restaurant, Andres Quesada, owner of Senorita’s Mexican Grill on Glenwood Ave., already sees positive signs coming from the announcement of Restaurant Week.

“It’s a good way to build a relationship amongst other business owners,” explained Quesada, who is also a member of the Restaurant Week Committee. “I know many (of the other restaurant owners) after this.”

Quesada also explained that the owners have asked about the formation of some sort of group to continue to improve the restaurant scene in town.

For Restaurant Week, Quesada will be doing a little bit of a trial. He has created a black bean soup that, with positive interaction, will become a new part of his regular menu.

“I’m trying it for Restaurant Week and it’s not normally on the menu,” Quesada explained. “I want to see how people respond to it to see whether we will put it on the normal menu.”

Quesada also asks patrons to try the Chicken Mole, as he feels, “it kind of encapsulates our cuisine.”

One possible patron might be Bloomfield Mayor Raymond McCarthy, who talked at the press conference about his excitement for the event.

“We’ve always said that Bloomfield is one of the most outstanding towns in the county,” McCarthy said. “This will bring people back to the community…This will make Bloomfield the jewel of Essex County…My anticipation is at least I’ll hit 10 places.”

To find a full list of participating restaurants as well as more information on Restaurant Week, go to www.bloomfieldrestaurantweek.com.

Around Town

Belleville

Belleville Recreation Department is now accepting applications for the 2012 baseball/softball season for T-Ball – kindergarten boys and girls ages 5 and 6; Baseball: Peanut League – ages 6 to 8; Jr. Rec/Little League: Ages 9 to 12 and Intermediate League: ages 13 to 15; Softball: Pee Wee League: ages 6 to 8; Pigtail League: ages 9 to 12 and Ponytail League (ages 13 to 15). Applications are available at the Recreation House, 407 Joralemon St., Belleville. Proof of residency and birth certificate required for registration. For more information, please contact the Recreation Department at 973-450-3422.

Bloomfield

The Bloomfield Public Library is pleased to present a free workshop for people who are interested in Starting and Managing a Successful Business on March 7 at 6 p.m., presented by SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives.

The library will present Oui,Oui, Je speak, a unique opportunity to learn and practice French on March 10 at 2 p.m. in the conference room.

The library will a Tax Preparation and Planning Talk by HR Block and Ameriprise Financial Advisor, Frank Gonnella on March 13 at 3 p.m.

The Bloomfield Public Library is pleased to present a seminar called “Long Term Care Planning” on March 14 at 6:30 p.m., presented by Geraldine Callahan, present of Conscious Wealth Building, who has nearly 10 years in financial services.

For more information on these events or upcoming programs please call (973) 566-6200, ext. 502.

East Newark

East Newark Mayor Joseph R. Smith announced a service to assist those individuals and families eligible for the New Jersey Medicaid Programs and experiencing difficulty in getting psychiatric medications through Medicaid. The Mental Health Association in New Jersey with the assistance of the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services has set up the following hotlines, website and email address for information and assistance: 1-866-202-HELP (1-866-202-4357); TYY: 1-877- 294-4345; Website: njmentalhealthcares.org; Email: njmentalhealthcares@ mhanj.org

Additional information can be obtained from the East Newark Department of Welfare/Social Services, 34 Sherman Ave., East Newark at 973-481-2902, ext. 221.

Harrison

The Riverpark at Harrison Condominium Association will have its annual meeting and trustee election meeting on March 14 at 7 p.m. at the Elks Lodge, 406 Harrison Ave., Harrison.

Kearny

Cecilian Seniors announce a trip to Resorts Casino in Atlantic City on March 14. The bus will leave at 9:30 a.m. from in front of St. Cecilia’s Church, Kearny. If interested, call Johnnie B. at 201-997-9552 after 6 to 9 p.m. A trip to Wildwood is also scheduled from Sept. 9 to 13.

The Salvation Army, 28 Beech St., Kearny, is offering computer classes on Monday and Tuesday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon. A $30 fee is charged per 12 hours of instruction. The classes cover basic computer skills (mouse, keyboard, Internet), email, as well as Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division 7, Hudson County, meets on the second Wednesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. at the Irish American Association, 95 Kearny Ave., Kearny.

Grace United Methodist Church, 380 Kearny Ave., Kearny, will serve a corned beef and cabbage dinner in the church’s Fellowship Hall on Friday, March 9, from 5 to 7 p.m. Take-out orders will be available. The price for adults is $10; and $5 for children age 12 and under. Easter and spring gift items will be available for sale. For more information, call the church office at 201-991-1132.

Kearny Public Library will host a special screening of “The Adventures of Tintin” (Rated PG / 107 minutes) at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 13, the day it is being released on DVD downstairs at the Main Library, located at 318 Kearny Ave. in Kearny. This program is free of charge.

The Branch Library, 759 Kearny Ave., Kearny, will host a free screening of John Ford’s classic 1952 film “The Quiet Man” with Irish-themed refreshments. No registration required. Please note that The Quiet Man is rated G and is approximately 129 minutes long. For more information, contact the library at (201) 998-2666 or visit www.kearnylibrary.org.

Library patrons can now set-up a one-on-one halfhour session with professional librarians for help with putting together and typing a resume and applying for a job online. The sessions will be held at the main library. To sign up, call (201) 998-2666.

The Kearny Lions Club is having its 11th annual pancake breakfast on March 25, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Salvation Army, 443 Chestnut St., Kearny. Ticket cost is $5. For more information, contact Joann at 201-998- 3018. All are welcome.

The Kearny Rotary Club meets every Wednesday afternoon at 12:15 at La Fiamma Restaurant, 440 Harrison Ave., in Harrison. Business leaders from Harrison are invited to attend to learn about the work that Rotary International accomplishes around the world and in local communities. For more information about the Kearny Rotary Club or to join them for a meeting, call Joe D’Arco at 201-955- 7400 or Jose Fernandez at 201-991-1040.

Roosevelt School PTA in Kearny is holding a Tricky Tray on Thursday, March 22, at The Graycliff, 122 Moonachie Ave., Moonachie. Admission tickets are $35, which includes a sit-down dinner and door prize tickets. For more information, please contact Liz Kubowicz at 201-997-9704. No tickets will be sold at the door.

The West Hudson Detachment of the Marine Corps League invites all former and active duty Marines and FMF Corpsmen to attend an open house, which will be held every Friday from 6 to 11 p.m. at 286 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. Guests are welcome.

Lyndhurst

The Humane Society of Bergen County has a supply of free dog food both canned and dry available to any one due to unemployment, disability or any other financial difficulty who cannot feed their dog. Just stop by at 221-223 Stuyvesant Ave., Lyndhurst, or call 201-896- 9300 for more information.

The library is collecting nonperishable food items for the Lyndhurst Health Department’s Food Pantry. The drop-off box is located inside the library’s back entrance. It will remain there year-round. For questions regarding the Food Pantry, call the Lyndhurst Health Department at 201-804-2500.

H2Olympics!, a family festival of games, activities and projects all about water for ages 6-12, will be held on Tuesday, March 20, at 7 p.m. at the Meadowlands Environment Center, 2 DeKorte Park Plaza, Lyndhurst. Admission is $5/person; $4/ MEC members. For more information, call 201-460- 8300 or visit www.njmeadowlands. gov/ec.

The Lyndhurst Health Department will hold a Food for Thought Forum hosted by Clara Maass Medical Center. Dr. Annette Cozzarelli, Medical Director of Women’s Health at CMMC, and a gastro intestinal specialist, will be available to discuss and answer questions related to gastro intestinal illness, upset stomach, and the importance of regular cancer screenings. The forum takes place Wednesday, March 21, at 5:30 p.m. at the Lyndhurst Health Department. Dinner will be served. Please call 201-804- 2500 to reserve a seat.

St. Michael’s Leisure Club will have a bus ride to the Sands Casino on Tuesday, March 22, leaving at 10 a.m. from the church parking lot on Page Avenue, Lyndhurst. Cost is $20. For more information, please call Georgiana at 201-438-7847.

The Friends of Erin will celebrate its 50th anniversary of the annual St. Patrick’s Day dinner dance on Saturday, March 10, at 7 p.m. at the San Carlo Restaurant in Lyndhurst. Tickets are $50. Funds raised will be used for scholarships for students in the West Hudson-South Bergen area. Contact Susan McCurrie, at 201-997-2100 for ticket information.

The Masonic Club of Lyndhurst, 316 Riverside Ave., Lyndhurst, will have a St. Patrick’s Day Party on Saturday, March 10. Cocktail hour begins at 6 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m. Donation: $20 per person in advance, $25 per person. For information, please call the club: 201-933-1330.

Lyndhurst VFW Post 3549 is now hosting Zumba fitness classes on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 7 to 8 pm. and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to noon. Zumba toning with light weights is held on Fridays from 6 to 7 p.m. For more information, call Caroline at 917-517-1138 or Paulette 201-759-3440 or email vfw@aol.com.

The Polish American Citizens Club, 730 New Jersey Ave., Lyndhurst, is having a polka dinner dance on Saturday, April 14, from 7 to 11 p.m. Tickets are $30 per person. Call Alice for tickets at 201-935-3830.

A St. Patrick’s Day Irish Wake will be held at the Polish American Citizens Club, 730 New Jersey Ave., Lyndhurst, on Saturday, March 17, from 7 to 11 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person. For tickets, call Alice 201-935-3830.

The Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst announces its annual fundraiser, “Spring Into Fashion” Sunday brunch and fashion show, on Sunday, April 15, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at The Graycliff, 122 Moonachie Ave., Moonachie. There will also be a tricky tray and a 50/50 raffle. Tickets are $35. For tickets, please call Rosemary at 201-935-4836 or Marge at 201-694-5976. No tickets will be sold at the door.

North Arlington

The North Arlington Woman’s Club holds monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the North Arlington Senior Center, behind Borough Hall. Guests are welcome.

Are you suffering from overactive bladder or recurring urinary tract infections? Join Dr. Annette Cozzarelli, Medical Director of the Women’s Health Center located within the Health and Wellness Center at Clara Maass Medical Center, and her panel of experts, on Wednesday, March 14, at 6 p.m. at the North Arlington Health Department, 10 Beaver Ave., North Arlington. They will educate you about cystitis, UTI’s and incontinence procedures and the treatments available. Dinner will be served. To register, please call 1-888-724-7123, prompt 4 or visit www.barnabashealthcalendar.org. Walk-ins are welcome.

Nutley

A Teen Open/Anime Mic Night will be held a t Nutley Public Library on Thursday, March 15, from 6 to 8 p.m. Check the teen website for further details at http://nutleypubliclibraryforteens.wordpress.com.

Marylou and Jerome Bongiorno will lead a discussion on the art of 3D filmmaking after screening their two contemporary 3D short films capturing the City of Newark and the Brooklyn Waterfront at the library on Friday, March 16, at 6:30 p.m.

A pasta/bingo fundraiser to benefit Nutley’s 6th annual Relay for Life will be held on Friday, April 13, a t the Recreation Department, 44 Park Ave., at 6:30 p.m. Pre -sale tickets are available for $15 per person at the Nutley Parks and Recreation Department. Tickets will also be sold at the door for $20 the day of the event. Relay for Life has been scheduled to take place at DeMuro Park from May 18 to 19. Visit www.RelayForLife.org/NutleyNJ to get started.

For further information or to join the committee, please contact Chrissy Andrascik at Christina. Andrascik@cancer.org or call 973-232-2573, between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Kearny legend Meola earns U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame berth

Photo by Jim Hague/ The local triumvirate of soccer Hall of Famers, namely from left, Tony Meola, John Harkes and Tab Ramos, got together last summer for the Legends game at the Harrison Courts. Meola joined his two former teammates as members of the U.S. National Hall of Fame last week.

By Jim Hague

Tony Meola knew that his name appeared on the ballot for the United States National Soccer Hall of Fame for the first time this year, but the Kearny native didn’t give it much thought.

“To be honest, I never really thought about it,” Meola said. “I was in the car last week and talking with my son and he said, `Dad, what happens if you don’t get in?’ I told him that it doesn’t change anything. I asked him, `Why do you play soccer?’ He said, `I love it and it’s fun.’ I said, ‘Well, I loved playing it and it was fun.’ I thought that if I didn’t make it (the Hall of Fame), it wouldn’t have changed anything. It’s not something I thought about when I was playing. I just played because I loved soccer and it was fun.”

However, Meola started to think about the induction process.

“Once I found out I was nominated, I knew how difficult it is to get in,” Meola said. “I know that some guys don’t get in. It shows just how hard it is.”

As it turned out, it wasn’t difficult at all, as Meola gained entrance into the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame last week in his very first try.

The former Kearny High great, who was the goalkeeper on three U.S. National World Cup soccer teams, received better than 90 percent of the vote from the hundreds of voters (sportswriters, contributors and current Hall of Fame members) to gain entrance.

“It’s a huge thrill,” Meola said. “Since it came out today (Wednesday), it’s been a huge weight off my shoulders, because I only let a few people know. When I got the call last week, I was just floored by it. I never thought this was possible.”

Meola joins fellow Kearny greats and former World Cup teammates John Harkes and Tab Ramos as members of the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame.

Both Harkes and Ramos gained induction in 2005.

Meola was not eligible for induction until this year because he was still actively playing professional soccer three years ago, the latest with the New Jersey Ironmen in the Major Indoor Soccer League.

Photo by Jim Hague/ The newest member of the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame, Kearny native Tony Meola (left), gets together with former MetroStars teammate Mike Petke (right).

Meola, who ironically was a forward during his senior year at Kearny and scored a then-record 32 goals in a season, was the member of three U.S. World Cup teams, serving as the team’s top goalkeeper in the 1990 and 1994 World Cups, then as a reserve in 2002. He earned 100 caps for Team USA and had 37 wins, including 32 shutouts. Meola was also a standout in the Major League Soccer, winning the MLS Cup and league MVP with the Kansas City Wizards in 2000, but he had two tours of duty with the old MetroStars and later the New York Red Bulls.

“I sent out letters to all my teammates and friends who were close to me, thanking them for helping get this honor,” Meola said. “I’m so honored by it all.”

Incredibly, Meola was not even a soccer player when he first started in organized sports.

“Baseball was my first love and I loved playing the game,” Meola said of the sport that he also excelled at during his days at Kearny High.

Meola also played football and was a member of the Kearny Generals youth program before he turned to soccer as an adolescent.

“But no question, I owe it all to soccer,” Meola said. “I wouldn’t have accomplished anything without soccer, without my parents continuing to take me places to play. Soccer got me ready for the rest of my life.”

Kearny High School athletic director John Millar was overjoyed to hear his former pupil was elected to the Hall of Fame. Millar was the long-time head soccer coach at Kearny High and coached both Hall of Famers Harkes and Meola during their high school days.

“It’s just unbelievable to have two Hall of Famers, both who played on the same team,” Millar said. “They were able to take their careers to another level. It’s just a remarkable thing. We’ve had a lot of good soccer people in history come through Kearny. These are just two of them. For me, it was a thrill to see them play, watch them grow up and become fine young men. It’s good to know that I had some part in their growing up. It’s a great honor for Tony, his family, for people locally who still love him.”

Meola said that it was special that he gained induction with former World Cup teammate Claudio Reyna, a native of New Jersey like Meola.

“I was Claudio’s captain in his first World Cup and he was my captain in my last,” Meola said. “No question, he’s my fellow teammate, my fellow Cavalier (both attended the University of Virginia) and fellow New Jerseyan. He’s a class guy and I respect him a lot. I have nothing but respect for Claudio, both on and off the field.”

Meola doesn’t know when the official induction ceremonies will take place. When Harkes and Ramos were inducted in 2005, the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame had a headquarters in Oneonta, N.Y., but that location closed its doors two years ago.

“It’s still a great thing that we’re all going to be in together,” Meola said of his long-time friends and teammates Harkes and Ramos. “Harkesy can’t do all the bragging anymore, because I’m now going to join them. It’s pretty fitting that we’re all in.”

Everyone knew that this day would come, that Meola just had to wait his turn to gain his rightful place with the other two greats who helped to give Kearny the well-deserved moniker as “Soccertown, USA.”

When Meola gets fitted for his red jacket later this year, symbolic of being a member of the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame, then it will become official.

“I look good in red,” Meola laughed. “At least, I think I do.”

True Blue: Kearny’s Webster dead at 80

Photo by Jim Hague/ Kearny native Alex Webster flashed a big smile after being inducted into the New York Giants’ Ring of Honor last December. It was Webster’s last public appearance, as the legendary Giants player and coach died Saturday at the age of 80.

 

By Jim Hague

He wasn’t able to walk much and needed the assistance of a golf cart to get around, but the smile and the beaming face was as young as a newborn.

And when Kearny native Alex Webster was greeted last December by a reporter from his hometown newspaper, his face lit up like a Christmas tree.

“You’re Jim Hague?” the legendary New York Giants player and coach asked, just minutes after he was inducted into the Giants’ Ring of Honor at MetLife Stadium. “I know you. You’re from The Observer. I read The Observer every week online from home in Florida. I know who you are. You’re a good writer.”

The former Kearny High great even called the next morning to see if I needed more for the story. We spoke for about 20 minutes or so and he said that he would keep in touch if I wanted to do any further articles. I told him I was more than interested and that readers from his hometown would want to know how he was doing from time to time.

Unfortunately, there won’t be the chance to do those articles, because Webster passed away Saturday morning in his home in Florida. He was 80 years old.

It’s almost too unfathomable that Webster would be gone so soon after we first got reacquainted as adults. But it wasn’t the first time I had met him.

I first met Webster when I was a star-struck 12-year-old and used to sit outside Roosevelt Stadium in my hometown of Jersey City on a daily basis, waiting for the Giants to come out to collect autographs.

In 1973, the Giants used Roosevelt Stadium as their practice facility. The old ballpark, where Jackie Robinson made his professional baseball debut, was within walking distance of my home in the Greenville section.

I went to Roosevelt Stadium every day to get a glimpse of the players as they came out after practice. I’d follow them to their cars to get autographs. Some of them, I had their autographs five and six times, because it was hard to recognize them without their uniforms on.

But that wasn’t the case with the man from Kearny nicknamed “Big Red.” You knew who he was every single day. He’d leave Roosevelt Stadium with several blue binders (probably the playbook) under his arms, wearing a blue windbreaker. He was the face of the entire team back then.

He would make cracks about me being there day after day.

“You’re here again?” Webster asked. “Don’t you have everyone’s autograph by now?”

And then I met Webster again just three months ago. It was one of the biggest thrills of my life, knowing that an all-time football great, a legend, knew who I was.

He spoke freely about his beloved hometown.

“I was back to Kearny about 6 or 7 years ago,” Webster said during that brief encounter. “I remember where I lived was a one-way street when I was growing up and now it was two ways. It’s amazing how things change. I went to the visit Kearny High School with my grandson and his friend and it was great to go back. It brought back a lot of good memories. I loved growing up in Kearny.”

There was some speculation that Webster might not be able to attend the Ring of Honor ceremony that honored him and four others, because it was reported that he was in ill health.

But Webster said that day that even though he couldn’t walk like he once could, he was going to be there to be among the Giants’ faithful no matter what. His voice was strong. His handshake was firm and hearty. His mind was alert and his heart was pumping.

“I feel pretty good these days,” Webster said. “I wasn’t going to miss this. I could go out there and play. I just can’t walk too much anymore.”

During the Ring of Honor ceremonies, Webster was escorted onto the field in a golf cart with two of his grandsons, who reside in Point Pleasant, alongside, both donning Webster’s No. 29 Giants jersey. They helped their grandfather to his feet so he could address the 80,000 or so fans in attendance.

“I wouldn’t have missed this for the world,” Webster said that day. “It means the world to me. It’s been a long time since I’ve been back. I’m just glad that I’m still alive to receive this honor. I’m enjoying every minute of it. I’m so grateful for the opportunity. The Mara family (the Giants’ owners) have been very good to Alex Webster over the years. They were great to me for my entire career.”

Webster earned his place in permanent Giants history with former players Carl Banks, Mark Bavaro, Dave Jennings and the late Brad Van Pelt. All legends in their own right, all legends like the guy from Kearny.

John Mara issued his condolences on Saturday after Webster’s passing.

“Alex was one of the all-time great Giants,” said Mara, the Giants President and Chief Executive Officer. “He contributed so much to our team as a player, assistant coach and head coach. He was an even better person. We shall miss him dearly.”

Webster was an All-State performer at Kearny in the late 1940s and went on to play at North Carolina State for the legendary Beattie Feathers, one of pro football’s first all-time greats.

Webster was originally drafted by the Washington Redskins in the 11th round of the 1953 NFL Draft, but elected not to sign with the Redskins. Instead, Webster signed with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

“Big Red” remained in the CFL for two seasons, but signed with the Giants as a free agent to start the 1955 NFL season. He remained with the Giants as a player for 10 years and finished his career with 4,638 yards and 56 touchdowns. His rushing totals were fourth all-time in Giants’ history until ironically Sunday, when Brandon Jacobs surpassed Webster on the all-time list with Webster there in attendance.

Webster earned Pro Bowl status twice with the Giants and helped the Giants win the 1956 NFL championship. Webster joined Frank Gifford in the Giants’ backfield, forming one of the best 1-2 rushing combinations in the league’s history.

Through the Giants’ public relations office, Gifford also issued a statement about the passing of his former teammate and close friend.

“Alex was a fantastic player,” said Gifford, who told Giants personnel that he had last spoken to Webster about a week ago. “He came down from Canada when we were in a lot of trouble. He turned everything around for us. He played on the other side from me. The same things I was doing at the left halfback, he was doing at the right halfback.”

Gifford said he loved being around Webster.

“He was a great guy,” Gifford said. “He was easy to get along with. Alex made you laugh all the time. He was fun and he had a great sense of humor. He was really a classy guy.”

Webster also was a key performer on the 1958 team that played the Baltimore Colts in the NFL championship game at Yankee Stadium in what was called “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” It’s a game that changed the face of pro football in America and helped to catapult it to the status it now owns.

After Webster’s playing career ended in 1964, he soon became an assistant coach under Allie Sherman and in 1969, Webster replaced Sherman as the head coach.

“He inherited a team without much talent,” Gifford said. “He didn’t have anyone like himself. And he was really too good of a guy to do it. He was a guy’s guy. He was a hell of an assistant coach. But to make some of the decisions he had to make as a head coach would be very tough for Alex.”

In 1970, Webster guided the Giants to a 9-5 record, earning the NFL Coach of the Year honors.

Webster never had a chance to coach the Giants in Giants Stadium, but he was part of the team’s radio broadcasts for a brief period.

Webster won’t soon be forgotten, because after last December’s ceremony, his name will forever adorn the walls of the new MetLife Stadium as part of the team’s Ring of Honor. He also got the chance to watch the Giants win the Super Bowl one more time before he passed on.

“It’s a wonderful place,” Webster said of the Giants’ new home. “I’m feeling pretty good these days. It’s a great honor to be back and being here, hearing the fans, it gets so exciting. When I was growing up in Kearny, I could have never dreamed all of this would have happened to me. I can’t ask for more than this. I’ve truly been blessed.”

And we were all blessed to know and appreciate the good things about the most famous football player to ever come out of Kearny. Rest in peace, Big Red.

Kearny’s Adamek returns to ring

Photos by Jim Hague/ Kearny resident Tomasz Adamek (left) gets fitted for his boxing gloves by trainer Roger Bloodworth (right). Adamek, who fought for the heavyweight championship of the world last September and lost, is getting back into the ring March 24.

 

Photos by Jim Hague/ Kearny resident and heavyweight contender Tomasz Adamek works on the heavy bag last week as he prepares to face Nagy Aguilera March 24 in Adamek’s first fight since losing to Vitali Klitschko last September

Will make first fight since loss for heavyweight title last October

By Jim Hague

JERSEY CITY –
With a smile on his face, standing inside his familiar turf, namely the ring at the World Boxing Gym, Tomasz Adamek declared last week that he was back and perhaps better than ever, as he prepares for his first fight since losing to Vitali Klitschko for the WBC heavyweight title last September in his native Poland.

“I’ve already forgotten about the last fight with Klitschko,” said Adamek, the Kearny resident, who is preparing for his return to the ring March 24 against Nagy Aguilera, dubbed “Dominican Dynamite” at the Aviator Sports Complex in Brooklyn. The fight will be televised nationally on the NBC Sports Network.

“I lost on Saturday and on Monday, I came back to my family and my life in America. I was ready to get back to work. Sometimes, when you lose, you need time to grow.”
Adamek took some time away from boxing. He needed to clear his head after the lopsided fight, where Adamek didn’t come close to hurting the much-bigger Klitschko in falling in a 10th-round technical knockout.

While there was some initial talk that the 35-year-old Adamek might walk away from the boxing game, the reality of it was that the thought never entered his mind.

“I quickly came back to the gym and went back to work,” Adamek said. “Twice, I went to (trainer) Roger (Bloodworth)’s house (in Glen Carbon, Illinois) and worked on my technique more than anything. I needed to prepare to get back in the ring. I’m a mountain boy and I wasn’t about to quit. I needed to get back in the ring and knew I had to win tougher fights so I could get another chance. I can’t think about retiring. Not now. I still have to fight.”

Bloodworth, who has worked with Adamek now for almost three years, thinks that Adamek learned a lot from the loss and he’s ready to make his return to boxing.

“Tomasz has learned a lot from the Klitschko fight,” Bloodworth said. “I think we got in the ring with him too soon, but boxing is a business and the offer was good, so we had to take it. Had we waited, things might have been different. I think he’s learned a lot. He spent two-to-three weeks with me in Glen Carbon and it went well. He fell off the horse and he had to get back on it. I think a lot of what’s happened has been timing. Christmas took place and Tomasz had to be with his family. It was good for him to take the time off, because Klitschko was a rough fight. He got hurt and he didn’t fight well. It’s just one of those things. He didn’t do anything in that fight.”

Bloodworth doesn’t second-guess taking the title shot against Klitschko.

“I thought he was well prepared for that fight, but he lost,” Bloodworth said. “If there was anything we did wrong, it’s that we should have trained in Poland for the fight. It was tough going over there a week before the fight.”

But Bloodworth always knew that Adamek would eventually return.

“There was no thought about it,” Bloodworth said. “He was coming back. In his mind, this was the first time that Tomasz had lost and he got beat. He needed to come back and that’s why we have this fight. We’ll see where he is and he can answer those questions about how he is. From what I’ve seen, he looks great and wants another shot. Maybe it might take a year or so, but that’s what Tomasz wants.”

Bloodworth has worked on getting Adamek to be a little bigger. The lack of true heavyweight size hurt him against Klitschko.

“He’s changing his style a little and he’s much bigger,” Bloodworth said. “He’s now 227 (pounds) and we want him at 230. I knew it was going to take a while for him to grow into a heavyweight’s body. Now, he has the muscle and the strength. If he doesn’t get back into the ring now, he might stay out too long. We never forget the losses. We feel good about where he is.”

Adamek likes the fact that he’s been packing on the pounds.

“I’m bigger and stronger,” Adamek said. “It’s been a six-month break. I’ve been eating better. I like American steak and I’ve been eating a lot. My wife is happy, because I’m hungry again. I think the (added) 10 pounds has been a big help. It’s most important to be healthy. I am ready to put on a good show for the fans. I can’t wait to get into the ring.”

So after a six-month hiatus, Kearny’s most famous boxing resident is ready for his return.

“I’m a stronger man,” Adamek said. “I believe in God and God thinks I’m strong now. I am ready to fight. I need to win a couple fights to get a chance at the title again. I need practice. I was slow against Klitschko. I wasn’t the true Tomasz. I think it was a valuable lesson. I wasn’t ready for that fight. But now I feel bigger and stronger. I worked on my technique. We’ll see how good I am March 24. Every day, I feel like I’m a better fighter.”

And every day, Adamek will try to get back to the pinnacle, namely another shot at the heavyweight championship of the world.

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