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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.


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


Belleville’s Colon cops title; Nutley sending five to A.C.

Photo by Jim Hague/ A week ago, the Nutley wrestling team crowned six wrestlers as District 14 champions. They are, front row, from left, Bobby Trombetta and Anthony DeLorenzo, and back row from left, Andre Hamlin, Brandon Keena, Nick Gaeta and Carlos Rosa. A week later, four of these Maroon Raiders, namely Trombetta, Hamlin, Keena and Gaeta, as well as Vinnie Mainiero, are headed to the state championships in Atlantic City.


Belleville High School senior Justin Colon knows full well that this wrestling season is his last opportunity to collect the state glory he has so desired for his entire career.

So when Colon won the Region 4 championship Saturday at West Orange, his third region crown in his four years with the Buccaneers’ program, Colon already had a higher goal in mind.

“It’s my last year and I’ve been training hard, lifting, drilling every day,” Colon said.

“I’ve fallen short my last three years of high school and this year, I don’t plan on falling short.”

For the last three years, Colon has just missed earning a medal at the NJSIAA state championships in Atlantic City.

“I lost always a round before the medal round,” Colon said.

But as Colon punched his ticket for this year’s state tourney by winning the Region 4 title at 126 pounds, he made no bones about his plans.

“It’s my last one, my last chance,” said Colon, who became Essex County’s all-time win leader last week at the District 14 tourney. “I feel more relaxed than I ever did. I know what the competition is going to be like. I’m mentally prepared. I’m not going to Atlantic City to be disappointed. I’m planning to still be wrestling Sunday and come home with a medal.”

In the past, Colon had to deal with weight and injuries heading into Atlantic City. It’s not the case this year.

“I feel a lot better and stronger,” said Colon, who improved to 40-1 this season with his region gold medal. “My weight is under control. I don’t have to worry about it. It’s much easier this year.”

Colon, whose older brother, Filiberto, was third in the state his senior year, said that he will use his two other trips to Atlantic City as fuel to his personal fire.

“I definitely think the other trips will help me,” Colon said. “I’m going to come out strong Friday and be ready.”

Colon won the Region 4 title via pin over Anthony DiPasque of Clifton in 3:43.
“Getting the pin in the finals will only boost my morale and my confidence,” Colon said. “I want to show everyone in Atlantic City that I belong on the podium.”
Colon is not the lone local wrestler headed to the state championships at Boardwalk Hall this weekend.

Nutley’s dream wrestling season will continue in Atlantic City, as head coach Frank DiPiano will bring his biggest contingency to the states. Five Maroon Raiders have advanced to the tourney.

While no Nutley wrestler earned Region 4 gold, four were runners-up, namely Bobby Trombetta (120 pounds), Brendan Keena (160), Nick Gaeta (195) and Andre Hamlin (heavyweight), while Vinnie Mainiero (170) was a third-place finisher.

The Maroon Raiders just missed sending a sixth wrestler to Atlantic City, but Carlos Rosa lost his consolation bout at 225 pounds by a single point in overtime.

“To bring five guys to Atlantic City is incredible,” DiPiano said. “We had 10 guys still wrestling on Saturday. It’s huge for the program. It’s the most we’ve ever advanced. If you would have told me before the season that I’d have five guys going, I would have said you were crazy. We were shooting for two, maybe. It’s pretty wild to have five.”

While Trombetta, Keena and Gaeta were expected to punch their tickets to Atlantic City, no one could have ever fathomed the idea that Mainiero and Hamlin would go.

Mainiero was unseeded in the Region 4 and had to face the top-seed, Tony Pafumi of St. Peter’s Prep, in the opening round. Once Mainiero lost to Pafumi, one would think of his chances to advance to the states would have been slim, but the freshman wrestled all the way back in the wrestleback consolations and earned third place with a pin over Steve Benitiz of West Orange in 5:28.

“It’s unbelievable,” DiPiano said. “After he lost in the first round, he just proceeded to win matches any way he could to get out of the region. It says a lot about his character and certainly already boosts his confidence for next season. He has a very bright future for us.”

Hamlin won all of one match two years ago as a sophomore and won 10 last year as a junior. But he continued his solid run that included a District 14 championship last week all the way to the Region 4 finals.

“It’s totally that is out of this world, an unbelievable story,” DiPiano said of Hamlin. “He’s a fantastic kid who just had to put his mind to it. He believed in himself. There was a time just recently where he was going to quit, but he decided to put in the time and now he’s going to Atlantic City. It’s really amazing.”

It marks another chapter in a dream season for the Maroon Raiders, who last week joined the state’s ranking among the top 25 in the state for the very first time. The Maroon Raiders have captured the Essex County, the Super Essex Conference and the District 14 team titles this year as well.

“People always told me that it was impossible to send this many kids to the states,” DiPiano said. “It’s just typical of our year. We keep doing things that were never done before.”

The Maroon Raiders completed their dual meet season with a stellar 19-4 mark and now will represent the area with pride, along with Colon.

The only downside to the Region 4 tourney was that Dave Bush, the Kearny senior who won the 160-pound championship at District 16 last week, was not able to compete due to the concussion he suffered in the District 16 finals, so Bush had to drop out of the Region 4 tourney, ending his quest to be a state tournament qualifier.

NA’s Krychkowski continues his scoring from soccer to basketball

Photo by Jim Hague/North Arlington senior guard Tyler Krychkowski


By Jim Hague

Scoring 1,000 points on the high school basketball level is a milestone that every player aspires to reach.

It means that you’ve been a consistent player and contributor. It’s a sign of success. Not everyone is fortunate enough to reach the plateau.

Take North Arlington boys’ basketball coach Dave Walsh as an example. Walsh was a fine player during his days at North Arlington, helping to lead the Vikings to a state championship. However Walsh – who went on to have a fine career at the now-defunct Upsala College – failed to reach the 1,000-point mark.

“I didn’t get it,” Walsh said. “I finished with 960. I know there are others who missed it by 10 or so. So in my eyes, it’s always important for a player to get it if he can.”

A few weeks ago, it appeared as if current senior Viking guard Tyler Krychkowski was going to fall short of the milestone, much like his coach. The season was running out of games and Krychkowski was running out of opportunities.

“I was very disappointed,” Krychkowski said. “I worked very hard the last two years. I knew this was my senior year and I wanted to have a shot.”

Walsh seems to think that the idea that Krychkowski was going to fall short actually helped him.

“He began to play free and easy, once he realized he wasn’t going to make it,” Walsh said. “I told him that he needed one really big game to have a chance. He needed to average like 25 per game over the last six games, so he needed to have that one big one.”

Last Tuesday night was Senior Night at the North Arlington gymnasium. The Vikings were set to face Harrison. There were balloons, posters, streamers, you name it, all present to honor the graduating seniors, Krychkowski being one of them.

“I said to myself that it was my last home game and I had to make the most of it,” Krychkowski said. “It was my chance.”

Krychkowski said that he felt he had a special night brewing.

“Everything was falling from the beginning of the game,” Krychkowski said. “It all came in the flow of the game.”

Krychkowski ended that game with a career-best 38 points, including seven 3-pointers. It put him in position to finally reach the milestone, as he needed 16 points in the Vikings’ NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I state playoff game against Whippany Park that was slated to be played Monday.

For his efforts, Krychkowski has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week. Krychkowski was also named during the fall season, when he was a standout goal scorer for the Vikings’ soccer team.

Krychkowski scored 26 goals during the soccer season. He believes that there is a positive carryover, being a scorer in both sports.

“I thought I had a good year in soccer and did the best I could,” Krychkowski said.

“Absolutely, I think there’s a carryover. It’s just going from grass to hardwood in the span of a week. It’s all just putting the ball in the net.”

Walsh believes that Krychkowski became a better all-around player this season and that may have cut down on his scoring just a bit.

“We do have more scoring options this year, so Tyler wasn’t going to get as many shots as he had last year. In the ebb and flow, I told him that he had to let the game come to him. He is definitely better at passing the ball, especially with the pick-and-roll stuff with A.J. (Nocciolo) or (Jose) Checo. We didn’t have that in the past. Tyler also has the ability to turn the corner and get to the rim. So we ran that more and more and we really relied on it.”

“It was awesome, especially with Checo,” Krychkowski said. “We’ve developed it for the past month or so. I think that’s how we were able to beat Lyndhurst. When you’re able to make plays like that, it boosts your confidence.”

Now, Krychkowski is within reach of the milestone. It’s tangible. It’s right there. Two weeks ago, it didn’t seem likely.

“I think about it a lot and will until I finally get it,” Krychkowski said. “Every day, every minute. When I first came to high school, I never thought I’d be the leading scorer for the last two years, like what’s happened. If it happens, it would be great to be on that list. Not a lot of people get that chance.”

“I just hope he gets it,” Walsh said. “It’s taken a lot for him to get to this point. Things were able to come his way. He has an idea of what he has to do, but he’s set himself to be in the position.”

Krychkowski knows that his basketball career is coming to an end. He will more than likely play soccer in college, but has not officially made a decision.

“I am pretty pleased with the way my senior year has turned out,” Krychkowski said. “I can say that I did something good.”

And it will be something even better if he can score 16 points in the state tournament.

Bloomfield police blotter

Feb. 20

Two residents in the 200 block of Davey St. reported that their garages had been broken into. One reported a 2003 motorcycle and assorted construction equipment missing from his garage; the other told police that electronic equipment that he used as a DJ was missing, as was his 2008 Kawasaki motorcycle. Police are investigating.

A 2001 Dodge from the 100 block of Morse Ave. was reported stolen.

Feb. 19

Someone forced open an entry door at an office located in the 500 block of Bloomfield Ave. and ransacked the premises. Nothing was reported missing.

Feb. 18

Two men told police they were approached by a duo with a handgun near the railroad tracks at Orchard St. One of the men told police that two black males approached him and his friend. As one pointed a handgun at him, the other proceeded to physically assault his buddy and took his sneakers, a Metro PCS phone and a gym bag with wrestling gear. Police are investigating.

A Grove St. resident reported that her storage locker was broken into and various items were missing from it. Gone were two 32- inch Toshiba televisions, a Kodak digital camera, and a pair of Timberland boots.

A resident told police that someone removed a black Columbia jacket from her dormitory room in the 400 block of Franklin St. Police said they found no sign of forced entry.

A 2003 Toyota was reported stolen from Clarendon Pl.

Two vehicles parked on Davey St. were vandalized. A 2004 Honda and a 1998 Honda each sustained damage to the roof and windshield.

Feb. 17

A woman told police that a black male dressed in dark clothing snatched her pocketbook from her shoulder as she was walking near the 200 block of Glenwood Ave. The thief fled south on Glenwood Ave.

A Carteret St. storeowner told police that $25 worth of Star Ledger newspapers had been taken from the front of his shop.

A 2003 Volvo tractor and trailer was reported stolen from Franklin St.

Feb. 16

A woman stated that she left her residence in the 100 block of Stone St. on Feb. 13 and when she returned on Feb. 16, she noticed that her side door had been forced open. Nothing appeared to be missing, she noted.

A resident reported the theft of a Nintendo DS game system, bath supplies and miscellaneous items from the 100 block of Thomas St. There was no sign of forced entry, police said.

Feb. 15

A botched home invasion on the 100 block of Bolten Pl. and the subsequent arrest of two suspects. Two black males reportedly forced their way into the residence as one of the occupants was going way out, police said. After assaulting the resident, the intruders ran out the front door, then ran through the rear yard toward the adjacent power lines. Nothing was reported missing. At press time, the investigation had resulted in the arrest of Darren Lewis of Carteret on charges of robbery (home invasion), burglary, criminal restraint and conspiracy and the seizure of one vehicle, according to police spokesman Capt. Joseph Polido. The investigation is ongoing and additional arrests are anticipated.

A rear window was broken and assorted tools were taken from a 2010 Chevrolet parked in the 100 block of Bloomfield Ave.

– Jeff Bahr

Social Security gets adjusted

By Randy Neumann

Over the many years that I have been presenting retirement seminars at Bergen Community College and the Ridgewood Public Library, I have learned that most people cannot get enough of Social Security information. Therefore, I always make sure I have a Social Security expert on hand. Last month was no exception. We had a large turnout at the Ridgewood Library and our guest speaker was from BlackRock, the largest investment company in the world that sponsors a cadre of SS specialists who make presentations to the public. During his presentation, he mentioned that there would be an important update regarding Social Security. Here it is:

The Social Security Administration announced in a press release last October, the first Cost-of-Living Adjustment since 2009.

“Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 60 million Americans will increase 3.6 percent in 2012, the Social Security Administration announced today. The 3.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that nearly 55 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2012. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 30, 2011.”

That’s the good news.

The bad news is, “Some other changes that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $110,100 from $106,800. Of the estimated 161 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2012, about 10 million will pay higher taxes as a result of the increase in the taxable maximum.”

Now, for an interesting tidbit. I recently discovered, while working with a new client that once you reach full retirement age (66 for us baby boomers), if you have children below the age of 18, they are entitled to one-half of your monthly retirement benefit until they reach age 18. Additionally, if they are full-time students, they can collect until they become 19.

Further, benefits paid to your child will not decrease your retirement benefit. In fact, the value of the benefits he or she may receive, added to your own, may help you decide if taking benefits sooner may be more advantageous.

Within your family, each qualified child may receive a monthly payment of up to one-half of your full retirement benefit amount. However, there is a limit to the amount that your family can collect. Totals vary, but, generally, the total amount you and your family can receive is about 150 to 180 percent of your full retirement benefit.

When you qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, your children may also qualify to receive benefits on your record. Your eligible child can be your biological child, adopted child or stepchild. A dependent grandchild may also qualify.

To receive benefits, the child must: ·

Be unmarried; and

· Be under age 18; or

· Be 18-19 years old and a full-time student (no higher than grade 12); or ·

Be 18 or older and disabled from a disability that started before age 22.

A detailed review of the changes made by the new cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) including estimated average monthly Social Security benefits payable in January 2012:

All retired workers: $1,186 before 3.6 percent COLA; $1,229 after 3.6 percent COLA.

Aged couples, both receiving benefits: $1,925 before 3.6 percent COLA; $19,994 after 3.6 percent COLA.

Widowed mother and 2 children: $2,455 before 3.6 percent COLA; $2,543 after 3.6 percent COLA.

Aged widow(er) alone: $1,143 before 3.6 COLA; $1,184 after 3.6 percent COLA.

Disabled worker, spouse and one or more children: $1,826 before 3.6 percent COLA; $1,992 after 3.6 COLA.

All disabled workers: $1,072 before 3.60 percent COLA; $1,111 after 3.6 percent COLA.

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


Eleanor Jablonski

Eleanor Jablonski died on Feb. 17. She was 86.

Born in Harrison, she lived in Kearny before moving to Pt. Pleasant 27 years ago.

Private arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, Kearny.

She is survived by her husband Francis and her children Janice Riepe and Frank, Ray and John Jablonski and seven grandchildren.

Julia C. Petrocelli

Julia C. Petrocelli (nee Hernon), 81, died on Feb. 21 at the Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville.

Born in New York City, Mrs. Petrocelli lived in North Arlington for the past 42 years.

She was the beloved wife of Vincent T.; the cherished mother of Catherine Venezia of Cedar Knolls and her husband the late Louis, Richard Petrocelli of Lyndhurst and his wife, Kathi, Sandra Cuozzo of Ridgefield Park and her husband Joseph, and Joan Petrocelli Doumas of Midland Park and her husband George; the adored grandmother of Louis John, Michael, Stephanie, Mark, Kevin, Joseph, Vincent, Nicholas, Evan, Elizabeth, Michelle, and Daniel, and the loving aunt of many nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital , P.O. Box 1000, Dept. 142, Memphis, Tenn. 38148-0142.

Donald A. Pollock

Donald A. Pollock died on Feb. 19 at home. He was 81.

Born in Newark, he lived in Kearny and Nutley before moving to Manchester Twp., 18 years ago.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held in the funeral home, followed by a private cremation.

Donald served on The U.S.S. Durke DD 783 during the Korean Conflict and was involved with the pre invasion strike and the actual invasion itself. He was a member of The Tin Can Sailors. He is a retired microwave engineer from Bell Telephone and is a member of The Pioneers of America. Don was known as WA2MHA and was a member of Ocean County Amateur Radio Emergency Service, R.A.C.E.S. and A.R.R.L. He was a volunteer with the Red Cross Emergency Service, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and M.S. 170. He was a lifelong O negative blood donor.

He is survived by his wife Emily (Vay), his children Alan Pollock and Nancy Ann Mangham, his brothers Thomas and Archie, his grandchildren Dawn, Jason, Elizabeth and Melody, his great grandchildren Christopher, Mark, Joshua, and Madeline Rose. He is also survived by his nephew Robert Pollock.

In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Albertina Rebimbas

Albertina Rebimbas died on Feb. 23. She was 87.

Born in Portugal, she lived in Kearny for the past 26 years. Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass was held in St. Cecilia’s Church. Interment was in Holy Cross Cemetery.

She is survived by her children Maria Cunha and Manuel Rebimbas, four grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

George D. Rutan

George D. Rutan, 74, died on Tuesday, Feb. 21, in St. Michael’s Medical Center, Newark.

Arrangements were by the Thiele- Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral liturgy was offered in St. Cecilia Church, Kearny on Friday, Feb. 24, followed by interment at St. Gertrude Cemetery, Colonia. Condolences and memories may be shared at www.thiele-reid. com.

Mr. Rutan was born in Newark and has lived in Kearny for the last 41 years.

George was an assembler at Hudson Milestones in Jersey City for many years. Prior to that, he worked in the same capacity at Pathways to Independence in Kearny.

He is survived by his brother Norman R. Rutan and his wife Therese and nieces Michele Preston and Veronica Baran. He was the cousin of Arlene Labaj. He was predeceased by his parents George H. and Mary D. (Horwat) Rutan.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests contributions to Hudson Milestones, 356-381 Clendenny Ave., Jersey City, N.J. 07304 or at www.hudsonmilestones.org.

Charles E. Scalley

Charles E. (Chicky) Scalley a lifelong Harrison resident, died on Friday, Feb. 17, after a long battle with cancer, surrounded by loving family and friends. He was 68. At his request, the funeral arrangements were private.

Charles is survived by his beloved sister Eileen Epifanio and her family, two nieces and their spouses Michelle and Gregory Rasp, Adele and J.D. Nielsen. Also, surviving are great niece and nephew Brittany and Matthew Rasp.

Funeral arrangements were under the direction of Mulligan Funeral Home, 332 Cleveland Ave., Harrison.

Guido A. Tango

Guido A. Tango, 83, died Thursday, Feb. 16, at Park Manor in Bloomfield, with his family by his side.

Born in Newark, he lived in North Arlington since 1955.

He was partners with Elliot Anelle in A Supplementary Data Processing, Inc. in Bloomfield, for many years before retiring. He was also the owner of Casa Di Guido in North Arlington.

He proudly served in the United States Army during the Korean War. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus Council No. 3428, and the Italian-American Club, both of North Arlington. He served on the board of governors for West Hudson Hospital in Kearny, He was a member of the Republican Party of North Arlington, where he served as a councilman, and also the Rotary Club of North Arlington, where he was the recipient of the Paul Harris Fellow. In his spare time, Mr. Tango was an amateur chef, who won many culinary contests and prizes.

He was the beloved husband for 57 years of Adrienne (nee Matusz); the devoted father of Doreen Tango Hampton and her husband, Jack Hampton, Mark Tango and his wife, Joelle Tango, and Tracey Tango and her husband, Michael Amend; the cherished poppy of Mark John, Alex, Olivia, Grace, and Hope; the adored brother of Ralph Tango, and the late John Tango; loving brother-in- law of Veronica and Angela Tango, and dear cousin of Vincenza Farco, and the late Mario and Lucille Farco. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews, and godchildren.

Funeral arrangements were by the Parow Funeral Home, 185 Ridge Rd., North Arlington, with services held on Saturday, Feb. 25, followed by a funeral Mass in Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, North Arlington. Entombment is at Holy Cross Chapel Mausoleum, North Arlington.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital , 501 St. Jude Way, Memphis, Tenn. 38105, or the charity of your choice .

Salvatore S. Tornello

Salvatore S. Tornello, 82, passed away on Saturday, Feb. 25, at Brighton Gardens, Florham Park. He was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and has been a lifelong resident of Kearny.

He was an assembly worker for Bergen Brunswick Drug Co. of Pine Brook for 30 years, retiring at the age of 62. Salvatore enjoyed the outdoors where he loved to camp, scuba dive and hunt.

Beloved husband of Matilda “Tilly” (nee Maddy); devoted and loving father of Susan Galada and Diana Entwistle (Richard); brother of the late Jean Spilotras; dear grandfather of Timothy, Alyssa, Rebecca, Michael, Tristan and Nicholas; uncle of Dolores Rhinsmith; cousin of Lydia Crouch.

Arrangements were by the Shaw-Buyus Home for Services, 138 Davis Ave., Kearny, followed by a funeral service at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Kearny. Interment was in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.

In lieu of flowers, donations to Grace Health Care Services, 105 Fieldcrest Ave. Suite 402 Edison, N.J. 08837 would be appreciated. For more information, visit www.buyusfuneralhome.com.

Zoila Yantuche

Zoila Yantuche died on Feb. 22. She was 64.

Born in Guatemala, she lives in Kearny.

She is survived by her children Walter and Juan Diaz and Maritza Diaz Rivera.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A service was held at the funeral home followed by burial at Arlington Cemetery.

Death knell for Catholic education in W. Hudson?


Photo by Anthony J. Machcinski/ Mater Dei Academy has announced it will close at the end of this school year.


By Anthony J. Machcinski

Thus, it becomes our sad duty to inform you that the Archdiocese of Newark has concluded that Mater Dei Academy will cease operations at the end of the current academic year.”

This statement, from a letter to parents of Mater Dei school children, conveyed the grim news that their children would be unable to attend the school next year.

“I was shocked,” said one parent of a seventh-grader who requested anonymity. “My child was upset. He wanted to graduate with his classmates.”

The school, which was created three years ago with the merger of St. Stephen’s in Kearny and Holy Cross in Harrison. According to Archdiocesan spokesman Jim Goodness, the decision had been finalized by the Archdiocese within the last month and communicated to the administration at the school.

In the letter sent to parents, Pastoral Administrator Rev. Michael G. Ward, V.F., and Principal Deborah DeMattia, wrote: “Unfortunately, due to our poor economy, competition from charter schools and other factors, enrollment has continued to decline, not just at Mater Dei, but other area schools as well. The financial stability of the Academy has become unsustainable. We believe these trends will continue for the near future, thus making it necessary to significantly increase tuition. We all know that such an increase would be prohibitive for you.”

Goodness echoed the letter’s dire forecast.

“You’re looking at a decline in enrollment over the three years of about 80 students,” Goodness said. “It opened up in 2009-2010 and had 250 students and this year there are only 170…Having said that, the next step would have been to look at an increase in tuition in the per student charges in the school…It creates an excessive burden and would have made continuing prohibitive.”

Nonetheless, parents are doing everything in their power to keep the school open.

“We made $86,000 in fundraising alone last year,” said Cindy Schirm, a school board member the past two years whose daughter – at this point – figures to be in Mater Dei’s final graduating class. And some parents have begun a petition drive in hopes of keeping the school open.

Others, however, have already started planning for their children’s education in a post-Mater Dei universe.

“I’m most likely going to put them in Queen of Peace,” said Adriana Anders, a mother who currently has a third- and sixth-grader in Mater Dei and another child currently in Queen of Peace High School. “I can’t put them in public school because they would have to go to three different schools (based on Anders’ residence).”

In an effort to address parents’ concerns about where their children can go next school year, Goodness says the Archdiocese has something already in the works.

“What will be happening is parents will have an opportunity to meet with schools in a much higher position in terms of numbers and be able to transition into another school for September,” Goodness said. He was unsure when these meetings would take place.

While many students were upset about the school’s closing and not having the opportunity to graduate with many of their friends, they were unhappy for their teachers, who according to parents, created a “family-like” atmosphere.

“(My son) enjoyed going to school with the teachers,” explained the anonymous parent. “They made it more of a family place.”

Teachers, who will lose their jobs at Mater Dei, will have the opportunity, according to Goodness, to apply for jobs inside the archdiocese.

“They can apply for any open position in the archdiocese,” Goodness explained. “However, should a job not be available, there is a severance program in place for those teachers. That’s all something we discussed through human resources. Some of that has already started.”

The demise of Mater Dei would mark the closing of the last Catholic school in West Hudson, since the merger of St. Stephen’s and Holy Cross in September 2009

News in brief


Real-life spouses Mary Costello and Jim Hague will share the stage in the West Hudson Arts & Theater Company’s production of A.R. Gurney’s play, “Love Letters.”

Performances are Friday, March 9, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 10, at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m., at the Arlington Players Club, 12 Washington Place. Tickets are $20.

In the play, Costello portrays an artist, Melissa Gardner, and Hague is cast as an attorney, Andrew Makepeace Ladd III, who begin a longterm correspondence as second-grade classmates and continue – even as they lead separate lives – for a halfcentury.

Both Costello and Hague said they welcomed a chance to participate with W.H.A.T. in helping revitalize the performing arts in the region.

Costello, a Kearny resident who was raised in Harrison, is a Hudson County Superior Court judge. In her only prior acting experience, she played a judge in a 2008 Attic Ensemble production of “Night of January 16th.”

Several years ago, Costello saw “Love Letters” performed at the Attic Ensemble by her current director, Mark Morchel, and Joanne Smith. “I was one of many wiping tears away. I think if you can watch (the play) and not be moved – either to laughter or tears – because there are also lighthearted moments in the play – there’s something wrong with you,” Costello said.

And “Love Letters” resonates personally with Costello for another reason. “It’s a play about two people who love each other – and that’s us – Jim and I – so it’s not too big a stretch,” she says.

Hague, a sportswriter for The Observer and for other papers, said he relates well to one of the show’s themes, a faithful partnership kept alive by the couple’s exchange of the written word.

Elaborating, Hague said that in the play, his character explains his preference for writing rather than telephoning is based on the fact that, “letters are more personal, part of your personality, which is what writing is all about and, as a writer myself, I can relate to that.”

Picking up on that notion, Costello says she finds relevance to today’s technologypaced word. “These days, everybody’s texting, blogging, calling each other on the cell phone,” she says. “(Jim and I) are guilty of it, too.”

Hague’s prior stage experience includes two stints as Norman Bulansky in “The Boys Next Door” in 1991 and 1993. He also played legendary Mayor Frank Hague in “The Chase and Sanborn Mystery Hour” for the Attic in 1994.

“I’m excited about this new venture,” Hague said. “It’s huge to have theater out here. I’m all for it.”

And, he confesses, it could have something to do with the fact that “I’m a huge ham.”


Carlos Campos, the accused killer of his parents and niece in Harrison last summer, was arraigned last Tuesday, Feb. 21, before Hudson County Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Arre, sitting in Jersey City.

Campos’ court-appointed lawyer, Hudson County Dep. Public Defender Joseph Russo, told the court he hadn’t yet received all the discovery he’d requested from the state’s representative, Asst. Hudson County Prosecutor Michael D’Andrea.

“And some if it is not readable,” Russo added.

D’Andrea, meanwhile, advised the judge that he had made “no offer at this time” for plea bargaining the case.

D’Andrea said he’d be filing an application for a “forensic examination” of the defendant which, he added, would include a request for a “bite mark.” Later, outside court, the assistant prosecutor declined to elaborate.

Campos is charged with murdering his parents, Carlos A. Campos-Trinidad, 57, and Ruth Pereira, 58, and his 3-year-old niece, Gabriella Morales, Aug. 16, 2011, at the family home on Hamilton Street.

Campos, who remains in Hudson County Jail, Kearny, on $1 million bail, is due back in court Sept. 10.

-Ron Leir




By Ron Leir


For many years, St. Stephen’s Church in Kearny has offered a special Mass in February dedicated to the parish’s former curate, the Rev. John P. Washington, one of the “Four Chaplains” who gave their lifejackets to others during the sinking of the USAT Dorchester in the North Atlantic on Feb. 3, 1943, by a German U-boat.

With the 70th anniversary of the chaplains’ deaths to be observed next year, St. Stephens’ parish will be raising money for the design and construction of a monument honoring Rev. Washington and his colleagues.

Together with Rev. Washington, the other chaplains ship were the Rev. George L. Fox, a Methodist; Rabbi Alexander D. Goode; and the Rev. Clark V. Poling, of the Reformed Church of America.

John DelMonaco, president of the parish council, said that St. Stephens pastor, the Rev. Joseph Mancini, came to the council with the proposal “and we were very impressed and excited about it. We recommended that he proceed.”

The ambitious plan was disclosed to St. Stephens’ parishioners at the Mass honoring Rev. Washington earlier this month.

DelMonaco said that the monument project was being undertaken, not only for the local parish but also for the Town of Kearny and the larger community “to recognize the bravery and heroism of Father Washington and the other chaplains on the Dorchester … and to remind us of the sacrifices those in the armed services today make for all of us.”

“It is our intention to finish the project and have its dedication in time for next year’s Mass,” DelMonaco said.

John P. Washington was born July 18, 1908, in the Roseville section of Newark, the first child of Frank and Mary Washington. Six more siblings followed. The family’s home parish was St. Rose of Lima where young John served as an altar boy and, early on, aspired to the priesthood.

After graduating from Seton Hall College in South Orange in 1931, Washington entered the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Darlington, became a deacon in 1934 and a priest in 1935. He was assigned, initially, to St. Genevieve’s in Elizabeth and then to St. Venantius in Orange before arriving at St. Stephen’s in 1937 as the parish was in the process of relocating from Midland Ave. to Washington Ave.

St. Stephen’s parish trustee, retired Municipal Court Judge John McLaughlin, says he was in kindergarten or first grade at the time and he recalls that, “Father Washington used to take the altar boys and various classes from school to Bertrand’s Island, an amusement area in Lake Hopatcong. I went. He was pretty good at working with kids.”

Parishioner Paul Shalvoy, one of the altar boys who helped Rev. Washington serve Mass at St. Stephen’s, said that when the priest was in charge of the local Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), he arranged to transport a St. Stephen’s youth team to Ruppert Stadium in Newark’s Ironbound area to participate in CYO track meets. “I was in St. Stephen’s grammar school at the time and I ran in the relay races,” Shalvoy recalled. “And I remember that Father Washington bought us hotdogs and sodas and in the late ‘30s, that was a treat. He was a very nice guy.”

Sketch courtesy St. Stephen’s Parish/ A frontal view of the proposed Four Chaplains monument designed by Timothy Schmalz.

Revs. Washington and Byrne used to go house-to-house to take the parish census, McLaughlin recalled.

At St. Stephen’s, Washington developed a reputation as a “forward thinking” cleric, Mancini said. “He integrated public and parochial school children for social gatherings, for example, which was unheard of for that time.”

As the story goes, Mancini said, on Dec. 7, 1941, Washington had taken his mother out to dinner in North Arlington and, on their way back to Kearny, heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was then, Mancini said, that the young priest decided to enlist.

He very nearly didn’t make it.

According to Shalvoy, Washington wanted to go into the Navy but was rejected because of flawed sight in his right eye.

“Well,” Shalvoy said, “one of our other priests, Father Gordon Byrne, who was home on military leave at the time, suggested trying the Army, instead, because they gave the physical in a darkened room and when you read the eye chart, you could hold the card over the same eye for each reading, so that’s what Father Washington did – he covered the same (bad) eye twice” and passed the physical and was appointed an Army chaplain, assigned to the 76th Infantry Div.

On Nov. 13, 1942, Washington was sent to Camp Myles Standish in Taunton, Mass., and on the train ride there, relates St. Stephen’s parishioner Nancy Waller, Washington encountered her husband’s parents who were then enroute to Boston for their honeymoon.

“They were probably the last parishioners to see Father Washington before he shipped out,” Waller said.

It was in New England that Washington made his final stop on the road to war: He went to Military Chaplains School at Harvard where he met Fox, Goode and Poling.

In January 1943, all four sailed out of Boston Harbor on the Dorchester, a converted luxury liner, as part of a threeship Army Transport convoy, bound for Greenland.

They would never reach their destination.

According to Mancini, survivors’ accounts indicate that Washington went to bat for Jewish servicemen looking to hold Sabbath services Friday night in the ship’s mess hall. Non-Jewish soldiers playing cards there weren’t inclined to move but Washington reportedly persuaded them to take their game elsewhere.

Early on Feb. 3, 1943, a German sub fired three torpedoes into the Dorchester, quickly sending the vessel to a watery grave. Of some 900 men aboard, only 230 survived.

In 1944, the Army awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and Purple Heart to the four chaplains, presenting the medals to family members; in 1948, the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating their selfless actions; and in 1961, Congress authorized a Special Medal for Heroism awarded by President Eisenhower.

After the tragedy, Waller said, “Clubs were formed in the parish in Father Washington’s name. They put on performances, fundraisers.” McLaughlin remembers parishioner Irma Long spearheaded a campaign to have Father Washington canonized by Rome, “but it never got off the ground.”

And St. Stephens began a practice of holding an annual Mass in Father Washington’s memory. Last year’s service, for example, drew close to 400 attendees, including about 100 members of veterans’ organizations, Mancini said.

Mancini said the idea for the monument came about as a byproduct of a conversation he had last October with Brooklyn artist Fred Moshey, who does reproductions of religious statutes and other items.

“At the time, I was thinking of establishing a (religious) gift shop here at the parish,” Mancini said, “and I was giving Fred a tour of the church and I showed him the granite tablet there honoring Father Washington.”

Moshey happened to mention his visit to St. Stephen’s and the connection to the Four Chaplains to a Canadian sculptor colleague Timothy P. Schmalz who expressed his desire to memorialize the quartet with a 12-foot-tall, 2,000 pound bronze monument.

As envisioned by Schmalz, the front of the monument would depict the chaplains, praying, in the stern of the Dorchester and the back would present an angel holding the four life vests and, enclosed in the center of the angel’s spreading wings, an image of the Dorchester sinking beneath the waves.

Mancini proposes to install the memorial on the front lawn of the church, close to Kearny Ave. and just off the Centennial brick walkway, near the flagpoles.

The pastor said he’s considering relocating the 9/11 steel beam cross to that area, together with the Four Chaplains monument, to create a “memorial garden reflection area.”

A “core committee” of Deacon Earl White and parishioner Nancy Waller has been appointed to flesh out those plans and to raise the estimated $97,000 needed to pay for the monument.

“We plan to raise a portion of that from our parishioners,” Mancini said. “We would also reach out to local businesses and we want to talk to veterans’ groups about enlisting their support.”

The local chapter of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization, has also volunteered to help, he said.

Parishioners are being invited to participate in the Four Chaplains Memorial project via a “three-tiered level of giving” as follows: A gift of $125 to $249 entitles the donor to a 12- inch replica of the monument; for $250 to $399, the donor receives the 12-inch statue and a paver in the walkway; people who give $400 or more get the statue, paver and an invitation to “Meet the Artist” at a wine and- cheese reception the eve of the dedication.

With the number of World War II-era veterans dwindling, Mancini said the monument will serve “to keep the story of the Four Chaplains going” and to reinforce the message of the chaplains’ “bravery, courage and sacrifice, which kids today especially need to hear.”

“Today,” the pastor said, “there’s a lot of emphasis on ‘I’ – we have the I-Pod, I-Pad, I-Max – there’s no sense of ‘you’ or ‘us.’ We read about multi-million dollar sports celebrity heroes. But we need genuine heroes who embody truth. And I know of no better example than this excerpt from the Gospel of St. John: ‘Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends.’ ’’

Native son going west for new job

Photo by Ron Leir/ Victor Canning


By Ron Leir


From Essex to Morris.

That’s the route being taken by Township Manager Victor Canning who is resigning his current job in Belleville on March 14 and, the next day, will take over as the new township administrator in Montville, where he also happens to live.

Canning, who was hired by the Montville Township Committee on Feb. 14 at a yearly salary of $144,000, submitted his letter of resignation to the Belleville Township Clerk’s Offi ce on Feb. 15, thereby giving one month’s notice of his departure.

Belleville Mayor Raymond Kimble said: “I’m sorry to see Victor go. He’s been here (as township administrator) six years. I think we worked well together and I wish him the best in his new job.”

Kimble said he would form a search committee – “probably Councilman (John) Notari, Councilman (Michael) Nicosia and myself” – to find a replacement for Canning.

“If no one’s been hired by March 15, we’ll probably make an interim appointment,” the mayor said. Another key fiscal employee preparing to leave is Township Tax Collector Joan Conway, who has also been functioning as an interim chief fiscal officer since August 2008. She’s been the collector for the past nine years. Kimble said that Conway’s slated to retire the end of April.

Kimble said he was “a little surprised” by Canning’s decision to move on “but I don’t blame him,” he added. “I believe their (Montville) manager makes more (than in Belleville) and it’s where he lives so I would expect that he would take advantage of that. I hope that our next manager will know Belleville the same as Victor which would be a plus for us.”

Canning currently earns $129,557 a year.

When a reporter visited him last week at the Belleville Municipal Building, Canning – who says his family “goes back 100 years” in Belleville – already had his desk cleaned out and most of his personal items packed in boxes.

“I want to thank the mayor and council for affording me the opportunity to lead Belleville the last six years and for affording me life lessons,” Canning said. “This is where I’m from and I’m always going to hold a special place in heart for Belleville. Even after I’m gone, I want the town to know I’m only a phone call away.”

Canning started his career as a civil servant as a member of the Township Council from 1994 to 1998, serving as mayor from 1996 to 1997 in the process. In 1998 he was appointed to the Belleville Police Department and was a police officer through 2006 when he was appointed township manager.

Recently, Canning – as the township’s policy executor – ran into opposition from some council members on funding certain capital projects and was forced to back away from a $3.45 million bond ordinance after those members organized a residents’ petition drive to block it.

As a result, Canning now concedes that plans for a new firehouse in the Silver Lakes section are dead “because of the petitions.” Councilmen Steve Rovell and Michael Nicosia objected to what they considered awkward location for the new facility and questioned whether the Fire Dept. would have enough personnel to staff two companies there.

But for Canning, the plan still made sense. “To give up $634,000 that NJ Transit was willing to give us for the project doesn’t make sound economic principle but the voters have spoken,” Canning said. “We have met with NJ Transit asking them to reconsider using that money for rehabilitating our existing firehouse,” he said. “I think we’re missing a golden opportunity here.”

In the meantime, Canning said he believes the township will find a way to proceed with some of the other projects that were included as part of the now-defeated bond ordinance, such as the rebuilding of the Friendly House as a one-story facility with the help of $400,000 in county CDBG funding. But instead of using the facility for community recreation, Canning figures it can accommodate an expanded early childhood program. “We can double our pre-school program,” he said. And part of the new building can be opened to seniors for such activities as line-dancing and yoga, he said.

As for other items included in the ill-fated ordinance, Canning said the township will reallocate about $600,000 in capital money to buy public works equipment, repave various streets, build a new playground, fix municipal properties with leaky roofs and install an new HVAC system at Township Hall.

Despite his differences with the manager over the bond issue, Rovell credited Canning for his hard work. “He’s done the best job he could possibly due,” Rovell said.

Still, Rovell noted, “It’s an untimely departure, given that you’re in the midst of putting a budget together for the new fiscal year. But I think we’ve got some talented people who can see this through.”

An adversary in labor negotiations, PBA Local 28 President Bobby Kane, called Canning “a very fair man who looked out for the township of Belleville in tough financial times. Victor did an admirable job, considering the situation.”

“We’ve had our battles, of course,” Kane added, “but he was fair and easy to work with. He always had an open door policy. He did a good job for the township.”

Of the push-back he sometimes experienced, Canning was philosophical. “It’s like a family – you don’t always agree,” he said. “Sometimes the road gets bumpy. But I’m leaving Belleville a lot better place than when I found it. For the most part, I’ve managed to keep taxes under control, we’ve just fixed up our stadium with our turf project and we’ve been fixing our infrastructure – new water meters and water lines.”

In the last few years, Canning had prepared municipal layoff plans for both uniformed and civilian employees but the township averted those economic dismissals after Canning negotiated union concessions and allowed positions vacated via retirements or death to go unfilled.

Employee morale has improved under his watch, Canning asserted. “This place was a dysfunctional family until I got here,” he said. “I’ve given it a sense of government service.”

In the time left for him in Belleville, Canning hopes to wrap up bargaining with the unions representing rank-and-file and superior officers in the Fire Dept. for new labor pacts.

“I may be able to get those done before I leave,” he said. “Then I’ll have all my (employee labor) contracts done without having to go to arbitration.”

Local biker killed enroute to work

By Anthony J. Machcinski

North Arlington man riding his bicycle to work in the early morning hours of Feb. 16 was struck and killed while trying to cross Rt. 7. Leonard Jeffrey, 57, North Arlington resident, was riding his bike from his home to his place of employment in South Kearny when he was hit trying to get to the Fishhouse Road exit of Rt. 7. It is unclear whether he tried to ride across the highway or was walking his bike across, but around 4:10 a.m., was knocked down by a man in a pickup truck, also attempting to get to work.

The truck driver immediately stopped, blocked traffic to protect Jeffrey and called police. The victim was transported to University Hospitial in Newark where he was pronounced dead at 8:50 a.m.

The case is still pending review by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, but according to Kearny Police, no criminal charges are expected to be filed against the driver at this point, as the driver was doing the speed limit or lower and no alcohol or drugs were involved.

Traffic on Rt. 7 eastbound was closed at the Fishhouse Road ramp from 4:15 a.m. to about 7:30 a.m. that morning