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Koppers developer picked

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  Hopes by Kearny to secure a developer for the old Koppers Coke Peninsula Redevelopment site have taken one step forward and two steps back. Kearny and Tierra Solutions, the owners of two of the three parcels in the South Kearny meadows area targeted […]

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School getting facelift

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  EAST NEWARK –  As summer’s clock winds down to the start of classes for the fall term, East Newark Public School is making all kinds of preparations to welcome students and staff back in style. Newly installed Superintendent/ Principal Patrick Martin recently ticked […]


Too many birds of a feather flock to Nutley

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  NUTLEY –  Fire hoses didn’t work. Boom-boxes didn’t work. Will “fogging” do the job? Only time will tell. The “job” is to drive the starlings from DeMuro Park, where they reportedly have been roosting in massive numbers. Roosting and pooping. It’s the pooping […]


To catch a raccoon

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  On an early August night, a few weeks ago, Kearny’s Julie Kelley recalls her husband Ed calling her to the window of the couple’s Morgan Place home and inviting her to look next door where the beacon from his flash light was […]

Massa names sewer committee

NORTH ARLINGTON –  North Arlington Mayor Peter Massa has appointed an eightmember committee to interview Geraldine and Truman Road residents to learn the extent of sewer backups into basements and to team with the borough engineer to communicate possible solutions to residents. In the meantime, the borough awaits the results of a […]


Residents speak up: Bond’s future now in jeopardy


Photo by Ron Leir/ Displaying anti-bond petitions, from l, are: Councilman-at-large Michael Nicosia, Jeanne Lombardi, 2nd Ward Councilman Steve Rovell and Peter Zingari Jr.


By Ron Leir

Belleville –
It now appears all but certain that the campaign to block a $3.45 million capital bond ordinance previously adopted by a majority vote of the Township Council is a success.
Even the mayor is ready to throw in the towel.
As of last week, documents on file at the Township Clerk’s Office show that petitioners had collected the signatures of 1,850 Belleville residents opposed to the bond – nearly twice the 991 required by law to place the issue before the voters.
“And we still have more (signatures) coming,” asserted Dep. Mayor/Second Ward Councilman Steve Rovell, the mastermind of the petition drive.
It’s up to the Township Clerk to determine if the signatures are valid and whether those that are deemed legitimate are enough to get the matter on the ballot at some point.
Ultimately, Rovell – like his council ally Michael Nicosia – are hoping that instead of going to the expense of a public referendum, that they can persuade their fellow council members to reconsider their original vote and put the bond behind them – at least for now.
“I plan to keep talking to the council, to remind them we’ve sent a very clear message to control our spending,” Rovell said.
Rovell – and, clearly, many others like him – felt that several of the big ticket items that the bond would have funded – such as the new Silver Lake firehouse and the new Friendly House recreation center – were either not needed now or ill-planned.
Among the advocates for quashing the bond is Peter Zangari, president of the Belleville Board of Education, who says he participated in the campaign “in the role of (First Ward) resident, as someone who votes on a large (school) budget in town.”
“For me to ignore residents’ cries of not being able to afford a tax increase would be arrogant,” Zangari said. “Those in elective office should be cognizant of the struggles that families here are facing. Senior citizens were saying to me that, after they pay their tax bills, they’re left with $300 a month to live on.”
The township had estimated that it would have cost the owner of a home with an average assessment of $249,400 an extra $46 a year in taxes to pay off the proposed bond but Rovell and Nicosia said that residents were facing additional taxes for other debt incurred by the township.
For Nicosia, the plan to replace the 8-decade-old Silver Lake firehouse with a new one on land that NJ Transit would lease to the township just doesn’t make sense.
“We can renovate the existing firehouse for one-quarter of the cost of a new one,” he said.
Moreover, Nicosia said, the proposed new firehouse would be located away from the main road (Franklin St.), in the rear of a self-storage building, and the township would have to build an access road to the facility.
Rovell and Nicosia felt that the proposed new recreation center would be too small to accommodate programs for young and old residents. People would be turned away, they said.
The bond would also fund the purchase of a building across from Township Hall to store municipal archives; installation of a turf soccer field on School 9 property; and upgrading of the municipal senior center; and repaving of Garden Ave.
But all of this planning may be for naught if the bond is overturned.
When asked about the situation, Mayor Ray Kimble said that if the petitions pass muster, “I’ll put a resolution on the table to rescind the bond issue because the people spoke. If there’s something in that bond issue they don’t want, then why should I go against the people?”
Putting the matter to a public vote isn’t practical, Kimble said. “There’s no sense having an election,” he said. “It would cost $60,000 to $70,000.”

A WORD WITH THE PUBLISHER: Thanks for giving



By Lisa Pezzolla

Thanksgiving Day in America is a time for friends and family gatherings.
As we sit to enjoy our holiday feast we reminisce about our past holidays. It is a time to offer thanks, a time for holiday parades and giant balloons to brighten a child’s day.
It is a time to tell stories and laugh about all the good times for which we have to be thankful.
And it is a time to remember all the great moments we had with our departed loved ones.
On Nov. 18, I had to make the decision to put my “Molly” to sleep. Those of you who visit The Observer, know that she was my little shadow. Thirteen years ago I had rescued her; she was badly abused – it took years of love and attention to build her trust. She was a tough little thing. She had a limp from a broken leg, but always managed to follow me everywhere. She brought such joy to my life and others.
This past Friday, her fighting days came to an end; the look in her eyes told me something was terribly wrong. I took her to Arlington Dog and Cat hospital in Kearny and Marguerite M. Hoey, DVM, took time and patience. Molly was suffering from kidney failure. I made the decision.
I want to thank Dr. Hoey for all her love and tender care she gave Molly and me – her compassion was above and beyond. Her kind words and tears show the love she genuinely has for animals. I am thankful for all the unconditional love that I received from Molly. Rest in peace, my little one.

Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Relax… It’s only Black Friday

As November comes to a close, everyone’s other favorite holiday is coming… Black Friday.
Sure, Thanksgiving is all well and good, but let’s face it, in this recession, people are more concerned about saving money on Christmas gifts than being thankful for the idea that they even have the money to buy those gifts.
As in years past, people will be out at all hours of the night, hoping to catch the best deal that they can. Doors to some businesses open at 4 a.m. to accommodate the presumed rush, but are there really any good deals to be had?  If you’re in the market for a big screen TV, I’d say yes, but if you’re going for small items or just doing general Christmas shopping, you’re better off waiting until later in the weekend instead of getting up before sunrise.
Will I be huddled with the bargain-chasing masses in front of Wal-Mart at 4 a.m.? There isn’t a shot. The way I see it, if you care about someone enough to buy him or her a gift in the first place, you probably don’t need to wake up at 4 a.m. to get it.
The real reason people should be happy about Black Friday is that it is the official start to the Christmas season. It’s a time when people begin to gather their Christmas decorations and spend more time with their families.
Personally, it means that I will use Noel Drive in North Arlington more frequently just to see what displays the residents put up this year.
Without a doubt, the Christmas season is upon us, but don’t get caught up in the stress of Christmas shopping. Enjoy what’s around you, even if you don’t decorate. The minute the stress catches up to us, it just won’t be Christmas anymore. Relax. It’s only Black Friday.

—Anthony J. Machcinski


To the Publisher:
While President Obama is pardoning two turkeys for Thanksgiving, every one of us has that same presidential power by choosing a non-violent Thanksgiving observance that spares a turkey’s life.
And here are some good reasons:
•You are what you eat. Who wants to be a “butterball”?
• Your kids can tell their friends about their cool “Tofurky.”
•You won’t have to call Poultry Hotline to keep your family alive.
• Fruits and vegetables don’t have to carry government warning labels.
• Animal advocates, including some of your best friends, will cherish you.
• You won’t sweat the environment and food resources devastation guilt trip.
• You won’t spend a sleepless night wondering how the turkey lived and died.
• Your body will appreciate a holiday from saturated fat, cholesterol, and hormones.
Seriously, this Thanksgiving, let’s give thanks for our good fortune, health, and happiness with a life-affirming, cruelty-free feast of vegetables, fruits, and grains. Our own dinner will feature a “Tofurky,” lentil roast, mashed potatoes, corn stuffing, stuffed squash, candied yams, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.
An internet search on vegetarian Thanksgiving provides more recipes and other useful information than you can imagine!

Kenneth Miller

Happy ending to church’s dilemma

By Ron Leir

Kearny –
On the surface, the job seemed simple enough.
The City of Hope Church International, a non-denominational Christian house of worship that occupies the old Sacred Heart orphanage facility, wanted to convert its heating system from oil to gas so it needed a connection to a gas line.
Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) was ready and willing to supply the connection by digging up a section of Wilson Ave. and installing the pipe.
But here’s where the complications entered.
The Town of Kearny, which has to issue a permit for a street excavation, has a law on the books which prohibits opening a street “into the driving lanes” for five years after it’s been paved over, unless there’s an emergency situation or unless it’s authorized by the mayor and Town Council.
And if there is a reopening permitted, either the utility or the customer must pay for a “curb-to-curb” repaving of the street.
The proposed street cut, to accommodate City of Hope Church, involves a section of Wilson Ave. that was last repaved two years ago, according to Town Administrator/Construction Code Official Michael J. Martello.
Given the restrictions of the town ordinance, it appeared that the church was stuck.
If the town governing body were to bend and allow the digging to go forward, PSE&G spokesman Deann Muzikar said that the utility, “provided an estimate to the customer for the gas service installation … (at) 22 Wilson Ave. … for open trench excavation, which is the guaranteed method for this type of project.”
However, Muzikar added, “The associated road restoration does not include milling and paving, which is preferred by Kearny.” And that method “could result in a potential cost to the customer …,” Muzikar said.
The utility would pay for labor, materials, traffic-control and road restoration,  Muzikar said. The church’s “non-fuel revenue credit” would cover those costs, Muzikar said.
City of Hope decided to go public at the last Kearny Town Council meeting with its hard luck story in hopes that municipal officials would come to its support since that expense would be something City of Hope would be “uncomfortable” with, said Marian D’Alessandro, a member of the church’s leadership group.
“As someone who’s lived here all my life, and as a property owner, I applaud the efforts of the town to keep our streets safe,” D’Alessandro said. “But we still need heat for our school and day care program which operate five days a week, as well as Sundays for worship services and Sunday School.”
D’Alessandro said the church has already invested $75,000 in the heating system changeover from oil to “a green and clean gas unit.” Now, all that’s needed to make it complete, she said, is the installation of a gas pipe from the street to the church property.
In the meantime, City of Hope has continued operating with the existing oil heating system.
As a conciliatory gesture to the church, Martello said the Town Council was conditioning approval of four road opening permits sought by PSE&G – for locations on Johnston Ave., Rutherford Pl. and Wilson Ave. (not the church site) to install gas service and on S. Hackensack Ave. to relocate a gas service – on the church “being appropriately serviced.”
The council did grant the utility permission to dig at Davis Ave. and Tappan St. to replace a 16-inch gas main to correct a leak there.
D’Alessandro said that the town’s action “has made the situation more palatable and we hope to get this resolved as soon as practically possible. … Between the church, the town and PSE&G, we hope to resolve this in a fair and just manner.”
And, in fact, that’s just what happened.
PSE&G and Kearny agreed on the use of a pneumatic piercing tool, “which requires only excavating one single hole in the roadway,” explained Muzikar. And, “the town is allowing PSE&G to restore the roadway using infrared paving technology, which keeps the cost … free of charge to the customer.”
The work was done this past weekend.
The Rev. David Manzo, the church’s senior pastor, thanked Martello and town officials for their cooperation.
Now grateful church workers are busying themselves with the preparation and distribution of more than 100 turkey baskets from their pantry to the needy for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Nutley high school girl dies suddenly

By Ron Leir

The November 17th passing of a Nutley high-school girl, 17, is under investigation. The cause of death hasn’t been released and members of the Nutley Police Dept., Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, and North Jersey Regional Medical Examiner’s Office are reviewing the case.
Police said that officers and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) were called to the Oakridge Ave. home at 11:00 p.m., Nov. 16 to aid an “unresponsive female.” There they attempted to revive the victim, identified as Danielle Orna, 17, but were unsuccessful. The young woman was transported to Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville where she was pronounced dead on the following morning.
Thus far, police have declined to disclose the cause of death, or whether an autopsy has been conducted, despite repeated attempts by The Observer to gather such information. Nutley School Board president James Kuchta had no comment.
An official police statement said: “Police and High School administrators have been working together in an effort to console and counsel family and friends.
“Police Chief John Holland and Police Director Alphonse Petracco extend condolences to Danielle’s family and friends and offered any assistance that they may need in this time of sorrow.”
At press time, Nutley High School’s website still carried the original statement issued on Thursday, Nov. 17:  “Tragically, one of our Nutley High School students passed away unexpectedly earlier this morning. All of our thoughts and sympathies are with the family. Counselors have been made available throughout the day to assist students throughout the district. We are acting as one community, supporting everyone through this difficult time. “
The school district listed a number of outside resources where students and staff can locate grief-counseling services. Nutley Schools Supt. Russell Lazovick said he met with members of the Orna family last Thursday morning. He said Danielle was a “very strong student, on the honor roll,” whose death came very hard to the high school where she was well liked. “ Everyone’s in a state of shock.” Lazovick added that the district is working with the family to arrange a memorial observance in Danielle’s honor at some point.

North Jersey country to play Donegal Saloon

Photo courtesy of Mike Martello/ Members of Secret Country, from l., are: Joe Hart, Jason Monaco, Eric Mason, Tim Siegle, Yan Izquierdo, Matt Siegle


By Anthony J. Machcinski

While Donegal Saloon in Kearny has featured several bands with musical influences tied to southern rock and country, not many of these country bands have hailed from North Jersey. On Nov. 23, Secret Country, featuring several Kearny residents, will play Donegal Saloon and bring a country twang from north of the Mason-Dixon line.
Started by vocalist/guitarists Eric Mason and Jay Monaco, Secret Country originally formed after Mason and Monaco’s reggae band had broken up.
“We would just have our acoustic guitars, showing how simple and catchy country songs could be,” said Mason. “We just started playing and it was a natural progression.”
As random as the band’s roots and transition may have been, their success surely hasn’t been as random. With two CD’s since their inception in 2008, as well as several successful shows, the band has started to gain popularity.
“Very favorably,” answered Mason after he was asked how the band has been received. “It’s something new for people around here. A North Jersey country band isn’t something that you see. We have a very entertaining live show and it gets a little rowdy.”
The rowdiness of the shows has been a constant since the band played its first gig at Donegal Saloon a few years ago.
“Our first show we had was at Donegal and it was about two weeks after the band was formed,” Monaco remembered. “We just all could remember everything. We were flying by the seat of our pants. People started dancing right away and we had that great response.”
While initial response to the band has been favorable, the members realize that attracting future fans might not always be as easy.
“At first, people are hesitant to be there listening to a country band but when they listen to it they love it,” explained Monaco. “We just got to think to ourselves that we have to be ourselves.”
If this band follows Monaco’s dictum and maintains their integrity, they can be a largely successful country band.
The band has an undeniable chemistry that shines through in their music. Country music is a simple yet complex art form. If even one member of the band is off slightly, the music will sound like a train wreck.
Secret Country is able to use their unique chemistry to perfect the timing it takes to be successful. This timing is exceedingly evident in the songs, “Temptations” and “Women and Whiskey and Nightlife.” These two songs, both with vastly different tempos, still sound great, despite all the synchronization needed to give their songs the proper melody.
Another song where the band shows off their talent is on their version of the Charlie Daniels’ song, “Devil Went Down to Georgia.” As in the original version, the mandolin is still the featured instrument. Staying in line with the original version, Secret Country mandolin player Yan Izquierdo never overshadows the band’s performance with his solos.
While it takes many years for most bands to find this rhythm and chemistry, Secret Country has done this in only two, which can be attributed to the bands varying musical interests and appreciations.
“We were all in different bands (before Secret Country),” explained Monaco, who pointed out that these included musical forms like reggae, punk, and progressive-rock. “Little by little we all just started bringing our influences into the band,” Monaco added.
With the show at Donegal just around the corner, Secret Country grows more and more excited at the prospect of playing in front of their hometown crowd.
“It’s great to be there for when people come home and to see the same people all the time who notice our progression,” explained Mason.
“This is like home base,” Monaco said. “We’re playing the show next week. We always have a great reception and everyone is home for the holidays. It’s great to play a show in Kearny!”

Lyndhurst blotter: Pursuing a lead pays off

Photo courtesy of Lyndhurst PD/ Orlando Valle

Follow-up investigative work helped lead to the arrest of an accused thief who, Lyndhurst police suspect, had been targeting older female shoppers as his prey.
On Nov. 10, at around 6 p.m., two women shopping at the ShopRite on New York Ave. reported to store security that someone had removed wallets from their pocketbooks while they were moving about the store.
Some of the contents from those wallets were later recovered in the store but one of the women told police she lost $120 in cash.
On Oct. 26, a similar theft was reported by another Shop-Rite patron who lost credit cards in the process. Soon after, police learned that someone had used one of those cards to make a purchase at a store in Clifton.
Fortunately, police said, that person was captured on the store’s surveillance camera videotape and they were able to extract an image of him from the tape. They subsequently shared this image with ShopRite security employees in case the man returned to the store.
Which, apparently, he did, police said.
At 3:40 p.m. on Nov. 12, ShopRite security personnel pounced on Orlando Valle, 52, of Rutherford, after Valle had allegedly taken the purse of an 88-year-old Belleville female shopper.
Valle was charged with theft and ordered held at the Bergen County Jail on $10,000 bail, no 10%, pending court action.
He will likely face theft charges from police in other towns where stolen cards were used, police said.
Police encourage shoppers to exercise caution when carrying their valuables.
In other criminal activity during the past week, police reported these items:

Nov. 15
2:22 a.m. — Police pulled over the driver of a 2010 Honda traveling east on Kingsland Ave. near Weart Ave. after being clocked doing 46 mph in a 25 mph zone.
Tara Bruce, 21, of Nutley, was issued summonses for speeding and DWI. Police impounded her Honda.

Nov. 13
11:35 p.m. — The owner of a 2010 Nissan reported the removal of several shopping bags containing $770 worth of clothing, electronics items and sunglasses from the Nissan while it was parked in the 700 block of Fifth St. There was no sign of forced entry, police said.
2:38 p.m. — The owners of a house in the 500 block of Chase Ave. told police that someone had pilfered two cast-iron patio chairs, valued at $100 apiece, from their property. Police said the homeowners had just returned from a 2-week absence and realized that the chairs were gone.

Nov. 11
Someone carted off sections of aluminum scrap metal, valued at $400, from the 200 block of Ridge Road. The theft was reported at 2:34 p.m. The Bergen County Sheriff’s Office sent its criminal investigations unit to check the scene.

If you have information on any of the events posted in this blotter please contact the
Lyndhurst Anonymous Tipline:

Time to Meet the Muppets


By Louis Sullivan

‘It’s time to play the music, it’s time to light the lights. It’s time to meet the Muppets…” So begins the theme song of the classic 1970’s-era “Muppet Show” and so too begins the real action of 2011’s “The Muppets.” A staple of 70’s and 80’s entertainment, Jim Henson’s Muppets have been absent from the silver screen for more than ten years, since Muppets from Space was released in 1999. Older fans, raised on their madcap antics, have sorely missed them, while a younger crowd, to whom the film is equally directed, may be less familiar with Kermit the Frog and his zany cohorts.
“The Muppets,” under the masterful guidance of devoted Muppet fan Jason Segel, caters to both audiences perfectly. For the old-school folks, there are countless allusions to The Muppet Show, ample nods to the fame that the Muppets once enjoyed (and hopefully will again), and revisited musical favorites like “Mahna Mahna,” the aforementioned “Muppet Show Theme,” and “Rainbow Connection,” the tune that started it all in The Muppet Movie of 1979.
For those to whom the Muppet culture is fresh, there are several celebrity cameos in “The Muppets”. These include turns from “The Office’s” Rashida Jones and John Krasinski, and “The Hangover’s” Ken Jeong and Zach Galifianakis.  Toe-tapping musical numbers like the opening duet, “Life’s A Happy Song” and the moving “Pictures in My Head,” add to the lures. And finally, there’s Walter.
Walter is a brand new Muppet who was introduced for this movie. More than any other character in “The Muppets” he seems to represent exactly what this film stands for. Somehow, he manages to bridge the gap between old and new Muppet fans by providing a fresh face for newcomers to familiarize themselves with, while establishing, within the first five minutes of the film, that he is indeed a Muppet fan himself – a sentiment that is certain to delight old time Muppet fans.
The Muppets follows Walter in his quest to get the Muppets back together after they’ve gone their separate ways. He tries to reunite the old gang for one last show, so they can raise $10 million to buy back Muppet Studios from greedy tycoon Tex Richman (played by Chris Cooper) who wants to destroy the property for oil. However, Walter’s twin goals— inspiring the Muppets to regroup, and actually raising the money— prove quite difficult, and Walter, his brother Gary (Jason Segel), Gary’s girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams), and of course, Kermit the Frog, all end up on a madcap journey of uplifting self-discovery.
“The Muppets,” with its touching emotion, laugh-out-loud comedy, and show-stopping musical numbers, greatly exceeded my expectations. It not only blends perfectly with the fantastic Muppet canon already in existence, but also serves as an excellent introduction to Jim Henson’s hilarious and heartwarming characters. Whether it’s your first time meeting the Muppets, or a long-overdue revisit, “The Muppets” is definitely worth seeing!
“The Muppets” opens nationwide on November 23.

The Energy Within

It’s quite a quandary. A meal with excess salt is scarcely welcomed, and a meal with little to no salt added for flavoring is rarely appreciated. What is most talked about and remembered, however, is a meal that is cooked well with the correct combination of condiments.
We can make our lives better if we apply the same formula to our existence. We must learn to create a balance in our lives. We must live to the fullest, laugh whole-heartedly and forgive easily. This mantra not only helps us purify body and soul, but also enables us to understand ourselves better and to become better people.
In some countries around the world, such as India, it is believed that every human form is born with seven energy centers within them. As long as these energy centers are in balance with one another, one is destined to live a fulfilling and a joyous life. Conversely, it is believed that even a minor imbalance in any one will throw things out of whack; leading to elevated stress levels and ill-health. If left unchecked, this will ultimately result in a sorrowful life.
This explains why we sometimes encounter people who talk negatively, or wish ill upon others. Since they are unhappy and out of balance, they simply strike out at others.
It is important to rise above your situation and take control of the things that make you smile. If fortune doesn’t favor you, don’t give up! Find an alternative. Don’t let obstacles cloud your thinking. In such times, I highly recommend energizing your will power. When you do that, success will be within reach.
Your life is in your hands. Try carrying along the right intentions and you will see how different the air feels around you. Refresh yourself, enable your mind, body and soul to function in balance. Do what is right to rebuild from the scars of past betrayals. In this way, you will live a life that is truly worth living.


About the author…

Shweta Punjabi’s credits are as numerous as they are varied. In addition to her skills as a renowned Tarot Card reader, Punjabi has also prepared daily horoscopes for Mid-Day, DNA, and Yuva newspapers, and Seventeen India magazine. Punjabi has also functioned as a television host for Walt Disney Television, India.
Ms. Punjabi’s offerings will include horoscope and dream interpretation, principles of numerology and color therapy: in short just about anything and everything that currently carries an “alternative” tag.