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23-year-old Nutley man charged with sexually assaulting 14-year-old girl

A 23-year-old Nutley man has been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting and endangering the welfare of a 14-year-old girl, Nutley police say. Jonathan Matos was taken into custody by police on Friday, Oct. 10, on Spring Street, and is […]

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Bloomfield’s Cunningham on watch in the Indo-Asia Pacific region

Quartermaster Seaman Fayden Cunningham, of Bloomfield, assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89), stands watch at night in the bridge. Mustin is currently on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting regional security and […]

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NAPD: Don’t fall for phone scams

North Arlington residents have reported to police that they’ve received phone calls, mail and email from people reporting to be from the IRS and other governmental agencies. The caller will report delinquencies  in paying taxes, credit card bills or make a […]

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2nd Harrison hotel

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide opened its 14th Element hotel in Harrison last Thursday with members of the development team pedal-powering a virtual ribbon-cutting at the new location, 399 Somerset St., just off Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. South. Starwood CEO Fritz van Paasschen told visitors that that the company is “looking to […]

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A first for Kearny VFW Post

By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  When Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1302 elected its new commander in May, it also made local history. Jennifer M. Long, who was installed in office at the state VFW convention in June, is the first woman to head a […]

 
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Town mourns fireman

Photo courtesy of the Tortorello Family/ Tortorello in his firefighters uniform. Tortorello’s heart and passion was in the fire department.

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

The Town of Kearny lost one of its fi nest members when Firefighter Michael Tortorello passed away Jan. 16 at the age of 40.

Tortorello, who lived in Kearny before moving to Lyndhurst 12 years ago, was with the Kearny Fire Dept. for 15 years before retiring last year due to illness. Well respected and loved by his peers, Tortorella was remembered as a hard worker.

“He was a hard working, dedicated, involved individual within the Fire Department whose heart and extra-curriculars (activities) were in the Fire Department,” said Capt. Daren Elliot. “I worked with him directly. He was always one of the first to grab a hose. He was a hard working and eager man.”

While Tortorello was a hard worker, his jovial attitude made working alongside him a fun time.

“He was a lot of fun around the firehouse,” Elliot explained. “He was an overall good guy.”

Fire Chief Steve Dyl recalled Tortorello’s fun-loving nature by telling a story about an annual fi shing trip Tortorello ran for the late Firefighter Kenny Kaufman.

“In 2009, my son won the pot for catching the biggest fish,” Dyl recalled. “Mike was so enthused that my son won it. He wanted to make a big deal of it and even got a trophy made. He kidded around a lot on who was going to get the money, me or my son. He made a point to give it to my son.”

Tortorello’s passion for children extended into his own life. He took great pride in his own kids, Michael, Alexa, and Gina.

“He talked about his kids a lot,” Elliot said. “He was so shocked when he found out he was having twins. He was talking about his kids and how much he loved being a father.”

Both on and off –duty firefighters were able to attend the funeral, which took place on Jan. 19. Dyl wanted to extend his thanks to the fi re departments from North Arlington, East Newark, Harrison and Jersey City for their overlap coverage which allowed the Kearny Fire Department to attend the ceremony. He also wanted to thank the Kearny Police Department for providing an honor guard, escort and the arrangements made throughout town.

Be the star of your story; put yourself on tape

By Jeff Bahr

Bloomfield resident Gene Nichols is teaming up with the Bloomfield Public Library in an effort to help preserve individual family histories. Nichols, a retired journalist and public relations executive, has offered to videotape community members, 65 and older, as they recount fond memories and major milestones in their lives.

Nichols says that he nursed the idea for some time. It stems from a yearning to know more about his father’s history. The little that he does know, however, is quite interesting.

Nichols’ dad, Russian military cadet Vladimir Yegorev jumped ship and entered America in 1917 while serving as a hand on a car go vessel. To say that he didn’t have much choice in the matter is an understatement. At the time, the Bolshevik Revolution was sweeping through Russia. After shipmates told Yegorev that the “Bolsheviks have probably murdered your family,” the young seaman realized how foolhardy it would be to return to his home country. When his ship docked in New Orleans, Yegorev made his bid for a new life in America and hopped off.

At first, Yegorev lived under an alias, but he eventually became naturalized under the name of Walter Nichols. From that point forward details about Nichols’ life turn somewhat sketchy, save for son Gene’s memory that his dad was a “very loving man.”

With a gnawing hunger to know more about his father acting as impetus, Nichols toyed with the idea of recording people’s history for posterity – but the project didn’t get off the ground until a pivotal event set Nichols’ creative wheels into motion.

Alfonso Queresimo, an Italian-American described by Nichols as the “Mr. Fix- It” of his neighborhood, was known not only as a giving person and “all around great guy” to Nichols and fellow neighbors, but as a man who could cook up some mean Italian dishes when he put his mind to it. Working as a chemist for the pharmaceutical giant Hoffman LaRoche, Queresimo would incorporate his natural affinity for combining disparate elements with his grandfather’s original Italian recipes. The final result was nothing short of “fabulous,” explained Nichols with reverence in his voice.

A modest man by Nichols’ account, Queresimo never spoke much about his own background. Only after he died did Nichols learn that he held a Ph.D in chemistry from Columbia University. He pondered how many other details he and others would miss out on when their loved ones were gone. This thought finally prompted Nichols to move forward with his idea.

Piggybacking off of the popular National Public Radio show StoryCorps – a series that recalls an episode in an individual’s life – Nichols decided to make his biographic effort even more comprehensive. With his videos, Nichols hopes to feature “many chapters from a person’s life” starting with the earliest events recalled by an individual and carrying through to the present day.

With a needed assist from Bloomfield Public Library Director Catherine Wolverton, and Lisa Cohn, who has volunteered her time to help out with online duties, Nichols’ brainchild is primed and ready to go.

In order to gather the rich moments that make up a person’s life, Nichols will conduct on-camera interviews with each participant, which he’ll then format, edit and store on a DVD. “If anyone is unhappy with the results, the material will be discarded,” says Nichols to help assuage fears of the camera-shy. If people like it, Nichols will then instruct them how to upload their personal story to a website that, with proper access codes, can be viewed by friends and family alike. Samples of the questions that Nichols will ask, as well as a video explaining the process can be viewed in advance on his website.

Probative questions including one’s education and school background, influential teachers, enduring friendships, circumstances leading to marriage, defining moments, etc., get down to the nitty-gritty of each person’s unique story. “The interview will mean something different to everyone,” said Nichols when asked about the impact of his new service.

Life StoryCam sessions are being conducted free of charge for anyone age 65 and over. They are currently available by appointment only. To learn more and/ or to arrange an interview, please contact Gene Nichols at 347-560-8056 or visit www.lifestorycam.com.

The Bloomfield Public Library is located at 90 Broad St., Bloomfield. For more information on this event or upcoming programs please call 973-566-6200 x 502. For notification of upcoming programs, visit the library’s Facebook page or follow them on Twitter. To receive notices of upcoming events directly in your email inbox, visit www.bplnj.org, and join the library’s Google group.

Call him ‘boss’ for next 3 months

Photo courtesy NJ Hometown/ Commissioner Mauro Tucci, shown here announcing his candidacy for reelection as township commissioner, has been picked as interim mayor of Nutley.

 

By Ron Leir 

NUTLEY –

The Nutley governing body has chosen Commissioner Mauro Tucci as interim mayor to serve until the May municipal election when a permanent chief executive will be picked from among the winners of the election.

Tucci, who will continue his duties as head of the Department of Parks & Public Property while he occupies the mayor’s seat, was the beneficiary of a 3-1 vote of the governing body.

Public Works Commissioner Dr. Joseph Scarpelli, Public Safety Commissioner Alphonse Petracco and Tucci voted for the appointment while Revenue & Finance Commissioner Tom Evans opposed it and Mayor Joanne Cocchiola abstained.

Township Attorney Kevin Harkins said that Tucci will take over as mayor Jan. 31, the same day that Cocchiola is stepping down to become the municipal court judge. Tucci will receive no additional salary, Harkins said.

Evans said that under the Municipal Vacancy Law of 1979, “it is optional” to appoint a commissioner as mayor but questioned the need for the governing body to rush to fill the mayor’s seat now.

“In about 90 days, the people of Nutley will decide who they want to be their commissioners and from that process we will know who our next mayor will be,” Evans said. “I am confident that a vacancy in the mayor’s office would not interfere with this government’s ability to handle any matter that could arise in the next 90 days.”

In a phone interview, Scarpelli, who introduced the appointment resolution, said he proposed Tucci because, “when we choose a mayor, we should look to the advice of the people and we should give the position to the highest vote-getter. In the last (municipal) election, that person was Commissioner Tucci.”

There is historical precedent for the Township Commission to vote for one of its own as interim mayor, Scarpelli said, as evidenced by “the last time we had a mayoral vacancy in 1935, in a similar situation to this one, when the mayor was in his last year and the vacancy occurred maybe five, six months before the scheduled election.”

Also, Scarpelli said, “there is a need to appoint a mayor from a good government aspect” – someone who will take a leadership role on behalf of the community – as, for example, in the wake of last October’s storm that caused “downed wires, fallen trees” and the mayor declared an emergency situation.

 

Photo courtesy NJ Hometown/ New Jersey Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, who now lives in Nutley, endorsed Mauro Tucci for re-election to the Township Commission.

“We need to appoint a mayor,” Scarpelli said. “The people deserve it and the law provides for us to do it.”

Tucci, who is completing his third 4-year term on the commission, said in a phone interview that he felt it was a “tremendous honor” to be placed in the mayoralty, even for a temporary term. He said Nutley has been fortunate to have had a tradition of excellent municipal leaders “and I’m very pleased to even be mentioned with that group.”

Tucci pledged to “work hard for our people. We’re going to do our darndest to control the tax rate. We need to start work on our 2012 budget and, with our state aid having been cut back this year, we’ll be lobbying our state legislators to see if we can get the formula corrected.”

Tucci said that he and his fellow commissioners would be monitoring pending development projects on Kingsland Ave., River Road and E. Centre St. to ensure that the integrity of the Nutley’s small town character isn’t adversely impacted.

Cocchiola said she abstained because she didn’t want to put herself in a possible conflict of interest position.

Cocchiola said the Walsh Act, under which Nutley was formed, does allow for the revenue and finance commissioner to be appointed mayor in the event of a vacancy. But, she added, “In this form of government, three votes means a majority, whatever change you want to make.”

In any event, Cocchiola added, “I wish Commissioner Tucci the best of luck. He’s certainly qualified for the position. I don’t have any doubt the township is in good hands.”

Aside from Cocchiola, all four incumbents are seeking re-election to the commission in May. Five other residents have picked up petitions to run. They are: Board of Education President Ken Reilly, Board of Education member Steve Rogers, former Assemblyman Fred Scalera, retired Fire Capt. Jon Cafone and Sam Fleitell, a local jewelry store owner.

In other business, the commissioners voted to introduce ordinances calling for the creation of an Historic Preservation Committee and providing for the designation and regulation of historic landmarks; changes to the law regulating peddlers and solicitors; and a renewal of the rent control law for another year.

Cocchiola said the proposed Historic Preservation Committee – which has been recommended by the township’s master plan – would look to identify local buildings for landmark status, subject to Planning Board approval.

“But if a (property) owner opted not to be placed on any landmark list, it would not be a mandatory thing,” the mayor added.

The committee would have five members and two alternates, all to be appointed by the mayor with the consent of the governing body.

“The committee would probably start with the naming of those historical buildings we already have designated on state or federal registers,” Cocchiola said, “and then maybe do studies of other structures. … I look at it as an educational and consultative resource.”

The committee would be empowered to issue “certificates of appropriateness” for work performed on an historic landmark that would change the exterior physical appearance, for demolition work, for “relocation of a principal or accessory structure,” or for “any addition or new construction of a principal or accessory structure.”

Applicants are entitled to a public hearing held by the committee, subject to the payment of a $50 fee by the applicant. Appeals may be made to the Planning Board.

Under the ordinance, the township construction official would be required to create a “photographic or video recording” of every historic landmark.

“This ordinance is something I’d committed to doing in this mayoral term and we’ve got it in under the gun,” Cocchiola said.

The ordinance is slated for a public hearing by the Township Commission on Feb. 7.

The proposed amendments to the peddler ordinance, introduced by Commissioner Petracco, would raise the peddler/ solicitor permit application fee, from the current $25 to $150, but would extend the permit’s duration, from 60 days to one year. The amended ordinance would also require that vendors wishing to participate in the township’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Memorial Day Parade, Fourth of July Ceremony and any other municipal event to pay a $100 fee per event.

Additionally, the amended ordinance would allow the township commissioners to restrict mobile food operations to “certain occasions” that the commissioners designate. But the law’s new wording goes on to say that, “This section shall not be intended to exclude frozen dessert trucks from the Township of Nutley.”

Finally, the revised ordinance would eliminate the requirement that peddler/solicitor applicants submit two passport- sized photos with their applications.

Bar could face 6-month shutdown

Photo by Anthony Machcinski/ Ambatenita’s could end up shut for half a year.

 

By Ron Leir 

EAST NEWARK –

A local tavern that has incurred the borough’s wrath for a series of past indiscretions may have shot itself in the foot.

Last November East Newark imposed a one-year closing of the Ambatenita Bar & Restaurant on N. Third St. for various liquor law infractions but the licensee appealed to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.

So the borough and the licensee ended up with a settlement agreement that forced the bar to close for 10 days and, thereafter, put it on a sort of probation.

Under the agreement, which was signed Dec. 14, 2011, the licensee was bound to adhere to a list of conditions required by the borough through June 30, 2012, and if it failed to satisfy any one of those conditions, the borough had the right to close the place for six months.

Well, according to the borough, it didn’t take long for the licensee to break the agreement.

Borough Attorney Neil Marotta said that on Sunday, Jan. 8, a borough police offi cer who visited the bar that evening found that it was open past the designated 10 p.m. closing time.

Because the bar stayed open later than the consent order (settlement agreement) permitted, Marotta said, the licensee is charged with breaching the order.

Marotta said the borough has served notice of the alleged violation of the agreement on the licensee and the Borough Council will conduct a public hearing on the charge on Jan. 25 at 5:30 p.m. in the second-fl oor assembly chambers at Borough Hall, 34 Sherman Ave.

Marotta said that if the licensee is found guilty of the charge, the bar is “subject to a six-month suspension of the license,” as provided by the consent order, but added that, ultimately, it’s up to the Borough Council to determine the penalty.

Asked for more details, Borough Police Chief Ken Sheehan said that the police report documenting the incident indicated that the Police Department received a call from a resident alleging that the bar was continuing to serve customers after the mandated 10 p.m. closing.

When a police officer went to the bar at 10:20 p.m. to check, the offi cer “found that patrons were still in the establishment,” Sheehan said.

Newark attorney Fausto Simoes, listed as representing Ambatenita’s, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Borough officials said they were prompted to impose special conditions on the bar in response to neighbors’ quality of life complaints about loud noise and music coming from inside, disruptive patrons hanging outside and urinating in an alley next to the bar, and fights in the bar that sometimes spilled outside into the neighborhood.

The borough instructed the bar owner to close at 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and to “turn the music down at 9 p.m.” on those days.

On weekends, the owner was told to tone down the music at midnight.

The bar also had to install a security light outside the front entrance and put in a second light with motion detector in the alleyway.

It also was required to hire a bouncer to prevent customers from hanging outside.

The borough put limits on the number of patrons allowed outside. And the owner had to pay the state a fi ne in lieu of a 30- day license suspension.

Over the limit, under arrest

A rash of D.W.I.’s took place in Kearny this week as Kearny Police were left to clean up the mess.

On Saturday, Jan. 14, Sgt. John Becker was on patrol on Passaic Ave. near Riverview Court at about 1:15 a.m. when he observed a vehicle driving erratically, then pull into the town parking lot on Passaic Ave. Knowing that the location has featured prior illegal activity, Becker approached the vehicle from the passenger side where he smelt the odor of burnt marijuana emanating from the vehicle. With three individuals in the vehicle, Officers Ben Wuelfing and Derek Hemphill came as backup. Sgt. Becker observed the front seat passenger smoking a small “blunt”, which he tried to drop on the floor after Becker illuminated the object. Officer Wuelfing conducted a field sobriety test. The driver, 25-year-old Marlin Garcia of Kearny, was placed under arrest and charged with driving while intoxicated, refusal to submit to an alcohol test, possession of a controlled substance within a motor vehicle, and failing to change the address on his driver’s license. The other two passengers, 23-year-old Kearny residents Brian Matos and Eugene Fernandez, were charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The DWI rash continued into the morning of the 15th when officers Chris Medina and Frank West were patrolling the area of Kearny and Bergan Aves. and observed a vehicle driving northbound on Kearny Ave. with a man driving hunched over at the steering wheel. After almost hitting several parked cars, the officers stopped him in the area of Garfield and Kearny Aves. The man seemed startled and didn’t stop for the lights, only pulling over after the officers put their sirens on. Officers approached the vehicle and noticed a strong smell of alcohol. When asked where he lived, the man said Virginia and that he was just on his way home. After performing field sobriety tests and an I.D. check, the man, 52-year-old Kearny resident Raul Sevillano was placed under arrest. He was charged with driving with an obstructed view, driving while intoxicated, careless driving, and driving with a suspended registration.

Just two hours later at about 4 a.m., Sgt. Becker was traveling on Davis Ave. and observed a silver vehicle traveling at a very high rate of speed westbound on Oakwood Ave. The vehicle traveled west on Oakwood Ave, then turned onto Belgrove Drive, hitting a sign in the process. The vehicle was pulled over at Belgrove Drive and Pedan Terrace. When he approached the vehicle, Becker could smell the odor of both alcohol and burnt marijuana. Immediately upon questioning the driver, the male admitted that he only had a couple of beers. The driver was put through field sobriety tests and could barely stand or complete the most routine questions. A search of the area found an uncovered Heineken bottle. The man, 21-year-old Newark resident Ruy Horta, was placed under arrest and charged with careless driving, operating a vehicle with an open container, driving while intoxicated, and not having documents in possession.

On the evening of the 16th around 7 p.m., Officer Mike Andrews observed a suspicious vehicle on Clinton Ave. Officer Frank West responded to the scene as backup. Andrews approached the driver’s side of the vehicle and question the occupants. After detecting the odor of burnt marijuana, the driver admitted that the hand-rolled marijuana cigar belonged to him and him only. The driver, 19-year-old Kearny resident Jorge Borreto was taken from the car and placed under arrest. He was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia.

Later that evening, around 11:30 p.m., patrol units were alerted that a hit and run occurred near Columbia Ave. and Devon St. A red vehicle was seen leaving the scene and turning onto Elm St. Officers Chris Medina and Ben Wuelfing responded to the scene to conduct an investigation while other units checked the surrounding area for the vehicle. Sgt. Mike O’Neill advised that he had the vehicle in sight, driving westbound on Midland Ave. and stopped the vehicle. The car appeared to be damaged and the driver appeared to be intoxicated. After a field sobriety test, the man was placed under arrest. Raymond Garbiras, a 59-year-old Kearny resident, was charged with driving while intoxicated, failing to exhibit registration, careless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, failing to report an accident, and refusal to submit to an alcohol test.

The next day, on the 17th, Officer Neil Nelson was on patrol about 4 p.m. behind a vehicle on Clark St. that was being operated very slowly and erratically. From what Nelson could see, the individuals in the vehicle were looking at parked cars. After attempting to initiate a vehicle stop, the driver ignored his attempts and continued down Clark St. to Marshall St., finally stopping in the Shop Rite parking lot. After approaching the vehicle on foot, the driver put the vehicle in reverse and backed into the patrol car. Not knowing if the individuals were going to flee, Nelson summoned backup. This brought Sgt. Charles Smith and Officers Mike Andrews, Pete Jahera, and Sean Kelly to his aid. The officers began to conduct a field inquiry, to which the driver identified himself as three different people with three different dates of birth. He was placed under arrest for hindering apprehension. Nelson conducted a search of the person and found a waxed drug fold in his pocket, generally used to hold drugs. A cursory search by Nelson revealed two open beer bottles on the front seat and that the registration to the vehicle had expired in March. The passenger was interviewed by Kelly and found to have a warrant by the Ocean County Sheriffs Office and placed under arrest. The driver was asked why he lied to Officer Nelson and replied that his name was hard to spell and he couldn’t give the correct spelling. The driver, 56-year-old East Newark resident Mieczyslaw Kurasz was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia for the wax fold, failing to produce documents, driving an unregistered vehicle, careless driving and operating a vehicle in possession of an open alcohol container. The passenger, 53-year-old Dennis Wetmore of Harrison, was handed over to the Ocean County Sheriffs Dept.

On Jan. 19th around 4:30 p.m., patrol units were called to the area of Belgrove Drive and Woodland Ave. On Woodland Ave, Officer Jose Resua found that a man had rammed his vehicle into a parked car and was attempting to push the other vehicle. After placing his patrol car behind the perpetrator’s vehicle, Resua approached the car and observed a male in the driver’s seat bleeding from the head and face. After climbing through the window of the car and shutting the car off, Resua attempted to take the driver from the seat, but he initially resisted. Officer Sean Kelly arrived as backup and the two officers were able to arrest the man. The driver appeared to be so intoxicated that he was unable to perform any of the field sobriety tests and was taken to headquarters for treatment. The man, 62-year-old Manuel Sarniento of Lyndhurst was charged with reckless driving and driving while intoxicated.

Finally, just before midnight on the 19th, Officers Ben Wuelfing and Joe Martin responded to the area of Devon Terrace just off Schuyler Ave. on a report of a motor vehicle accident. The officers arrived on scene to find a red Dodge that had apparently been struck by another vehicle. Bystanders pointed the officers in the direction of a Pontiac at the end of the road. They found that the airbag had been deployed and the car was wedged between two vehicles. While waiting for EMS, the driver told them that she did not want to climb out of the vehicle while it was in that position. During an interview, police observed an empty can between the driver’s door and the seat. Once free, the woman was taken to headquarters. Yandra Beato, a 35-year-old Kearny female, was charged with operating under the influence, careless driving, and possessing an open container of alcohol while operating a vehicle.

Be alert for fake public workers

Two incidents regarding a fake public works agent have taken place this week. Two residents of different locations were approached by what they described as a male, possibly Hispanic, of average height and build with dark hair.

Upon gaining entrance into a Pavonia Ave residence, the man, who claimed he was checking the water, managed to get to the second floor and steal jewelry from.

After these incidents, Kearny Police Chief John Dowie wanted to send a message to residents of the area, to not only be on the lookout for this man, but to watch out for other incidents.

“You should know the condition of your own house, and not have someone tell you that,” Dowie explained. “Also, be aware of the time and day of the week. Town employees work 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. or 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.”

Town employees are required to have town-issued identification cards. Most town and public services vehicles are marked.

“Don’t be afraid to question them,” said Dowie. “You can ask them who sent them, where they’re from, and why they were sent.”

Deputy Chief James Corbett backed up Dowie’s statement by saying, “Anytime you have the least bit of suspicion, call the police department. People shouldn’t be nervous or embarrassed to call us. We’ll determine if the person is legitimate. That’s what were here for.”

For inquiries, call the Kearny Police Department at (201)- 998-1313. The fake public works official is currently on the loose. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male of average height and build with dark hair and a blue pea coat.

— Anthony J. Machcinski

A WORD WITH THE PUBLISHER: Targeting young readers

publisher@theobserver.com

 

By Lisa Pezzolla

Each week, The Observer reports the news and views of the general population of East Newark, Harrison, Kearny, North Arlington, Lyndhurst, Belleville, Nutley, and Bloomfield. Obviously, we cannot voice everyone’s opinion within a limited space every week, but there is one demographic we have always tried to place in the paper.

Our “Bridging the Gap” column featured the work of young writers culled from our eight-town coverage area who, like us, had the passion to write and tell a good story. I felt it was a nice way to target our young readers and future journalists each week.

Unfortunately, “Bridging the Gap” fizzled after a few of our young writers moved on to college. The issues and opinions posed by our young readers and writers are ones you don’t see on an everyday basis, and should be valued as such.

The idea behind “Bridging the Gap” was to afford young writers an opportunity to publish their pieces. These published pieces help writers prep for their college careers and in their future in general. So, parents and teachers, if you know of a child with an affection and talent for writing, please direct him or her to The Observer and let them take advantage of those talents!

U.S. Marine “pee party” is hardly surprising

It spread across the news outlets like free beers at a “kegger.” Four American Marines had done the unthinkable to the corpses of Taliban fighters who had once opposed them. If you missed it, suffice to say that, in a final show of supremacy, our boys indignantly trained their “weapons” on the combatants’ dead carcasses, effectively treating them as urinal pucks.

“Oh, the humanity!” the talking heads screamed.

“What were these vile young men thinking when they peed on the enemy?” asked a gaggle of high-placed politicians and press members whose feigned shock was worthy of an Academy Award.

To answer that, a football metaphor might prove helpful. The gridiron gang is trained with one goal in mind: to destroy the opposition at almost any cost. As long as a fairly liberal set of prescribed rules are followed, all is hunky-dory. Everybody loves a winner, especially team owners, so the men are drilled and then drilled some more until the squad becomes a crushing force to be reckoned with. When a player ultimately scores a touchdown, he has done all that he was trained to do. Hooray!

But at that instant, woeful is the player who dares to celebrate too exuberantly. We’ve now been told that this sort of thing is akin to “bad sportsmanship,” that “rubbing it in” isn’t the “American way.” Put another way, it’s perfectly alright for players to kick the living hell out of those standing in their way – in fact the most violent players are cheered on for their boneshattering “hits” while enroute to a goal – but it’s somehow bad form to execute a celebratory dance once that goal is achieved. Is it just me, or is there something ridiculously screwy with this rationale?

Human beings never cease to amaze me. Some of the very same people currently taking these soldiers to task for their “yellow” celebration have no problem at all with the idea of killing in the first place. It’s the “chest puffing” that occasionally comes afterwards that seems to annoy them. Here’s a question for these “concerned” Americans.

After you train a soldier to kill, after you systematically destroy and/or remove every instinct that a soldier once held regarding the sanctity of life, how can you then act surprised when that soldier turns tribal and decides to “take a whiz” on the bad guys? In the pre-politically-correct football era, this would be considered nothing more than a spiked ball; in tennis, it would be a ball hit into the crowd. You simply can’t have it both ways. When you encourage the taking of lives in the national interest you shouldn’t be too surprised when the participants sometimes forget their post-kill manners.

Some argue that this “outrageous” act will serve to incite the Taliban and its sympathizers and will be used as a propaganda tool to further their cause. That may be true, but I have a newsflash for those who labor under such a mindset: These extremists and extremist factions are going to hate us anyway. Period.

At this point, I’d be far more concerned with sending mixed messages to our soldiers – a seriously exploited group who receive precious little in return for saving our asses. In an allvolunteer military, where the perception that a soldier will receive a fair shake is basically everything, it’s mighty bad form to pick our heroes apart for their “bad manners” after the fact—after they’ve done the job that we asked them to do.

For those who don’t approve of such celebrations, I suggest you visit the local recruiting office. Then you can head off to boot camp and show us all how it should be done. Until that time comes, let’s cool it with the political correctness. “War is hell,” said Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman – a ruthless but effective warrior who knew a little something about the carnage of this ultimate human failing. If the taking of lives is considered necessary in order to preserve the American way of life, then an impromptu “Pee party” should be no big deal. Just ask some real soldiers – they’ll tell you. After they zip-up, of course.

—Jeff Bahr

jeffbahr@theobserver.com

Fraudulent check leads to arrest in Lyndhurst

Jan. 18

At 5:14 p.m. police arrested Skye Rivera, 18, of Warwick, N.Y., on charges of trying to pass a bad check and forgery at the Chase Bank on Stuyvesant Ave. Police said Rivera tried to cash a fraudulent check made out to her in the amount of $1,087.82. She was sent to the Bergen County Jail, Hackensack, on $15,000 bail with a 10% cash option, pending court action.

Jan. 17

At 9:50 p.m., police discovered three Lyndhurst teenagers consuming beer while sitting in a car parked in the N.J. Transit lot on Park Ave. Three girls, two aged 16 and one, 17, and one boy, age 17, were charged with underage drinking in a motor vehicle and having open containers of alcohol in a motor vehicle. They were released pending appearances in juvenile court. Police said the car was registered to the mother of one of the teens.

Jan. 15

Police were called to the Sidowski Shell station on Ridge Road at 9:13 p.m. where an attendant told them that two males had just taken two cigarette lighters without paying and left. Police said the pair were spotted entering a residence about a block away and were grabbed there. Police charged John Sanchez, 19, of Fairlawn, and his pal, a 15-year-old Paterson boy, with disorderly conduct and shoplifting. They were released pending court action.

Police went to the Lyndhurst Diner on Riverside Ave. at 3:51 a.m. to deal with an unruly customer. After she began yelling at the officers, Tiffany Crespo, 29, of Manhattan, was given a summons charging her with disorderly conduct and released pending a court appearance. Police said Crespo may have been intoxicated.

A cancer survivor, chef now cooking up a storm

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Kearny —

Just think, if only for a minute, what it might be like to lose something that affected what you do the best, whether it be a writer losing his hands or a marathon runner losing a foot.

This is what happened to former Kearny resident David Guerrero.

Two years ago this April, Guerrero was diagnosed with brain cancer and had a tumor removed. After the surgery, a stroke compounded his already formidable challenge.

“After my surgery, my first fear was thinking that I would never be able to do anything again,” explained Guerrero, who now resides in Houston. “I used to be fluent in Portuguese. Don’t remember much of that anymore. I had to relearn how to speak English and how to Salsa dance. My main concern was that I lost my taste.”

Guerrero, who at the time of his setbacks was employed as a personal chef by NBA basketball player, Tracy McGrady, had lost the one thing that a chef relies on most; his taste buds.

“I couldn’t see myself doing anything else in a real profession,” said Guerrero, who also lost much of the functionality in his left hand.

Then, one single discovery allowed Guerrero to continue pursuing his passion.

“I learned that about 80 percent of your taste comes from your nose,” Guerrero said. “I had only lost about 10 percent of my ability in my nose.”

Guerrero’s grit and determination got him back into the food business. After becoming a Sous Chef at Samba Grille – a South American inspired restaurant in Houston – Guerrero was promoted to the position of Executive Chef.

Despite all that he has been through, Guerrero has managed to stay positive.

“I believe that God gave me a second chance. I’m not perfect, but I want to do my best to prove to people that there’s always hope; that no matter what, you can follow your dreams. It’s all about hard working and believing in yourself.”

Now that Guerrero has started to get back on his feet, he has dreams of his own that he would like to see completed.

“I really want to open my own restaurant and I’m going to do it,” said Guerrero with newfound confidence. “I want to open a French and American Restaurant with a twist of South America—it’s a fusion. (South Americans) have tons of foods that people have never seen before in this country.”

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