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NAPD seeks man who allegedly passed 4 fake $100s

The North Arlington Police Department  is currently investigating an incident involving use of counterfeit $100 bills at a 7-Eleven on Ridge Rd. A man, approximately 6′  in height, 150 lbs., wearing a baseball cap  with a Seattle Mariners logo, a […]


W.H.A.T. presents ‘The Addams Family’ July 30-Aug. 5, including preview tonight at Angry Coffee Bean

KEARNY — Teen Drama, a theater company for teens celebrating its fifth anniversary this summer, in association with the West Hudson Arts & Theater Company (W.H.A.T.) presents the modern classic Broadway musical “The Addams Family” this summer. The smash-hit musical […]


Images from funeral procession for Jersey City police Detective Melvin Santiago

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Farewell to a brother in blue

On Friday afternoon, regular traffic came to a halt on the Belleville Pike and Ridge Road to open the route for the funeral procession of slain Jersey City Police Detective Melvin Santiago. The 23-year-old rookie, promoted posthumously to detective, had been ambushed early Sunday, July 13, when he […]


State eyes raising part of Pike

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent  KEARNY – The Rt. 7/Belleville Turnpike corridor which runs through Kearny’s meadows area and beyond is getting a lot of attention these days from state and federal transit agencies. For the past couple of years, contractors hired by the state Department of Transportation have […]


Lyndhurst, QP punch their grid state playoff tickets

Photo by Jim Hague/ Queen of Peace senior LB/WR Brian Webster


Photo by Jim Hague/ Lyndhurst WR Jeremy Schaefer.


By Jim Hague

When high school football teams begin practice in earnest in the lazy, hazy days of August, they all have one goal, one idea, one predominant thought in mind – namely qualifying for the NJSIAA state playoffs.
Even after the state association extended the playoff brackets from four to eight teams a decade ago, earning a place in the state postseason playoffs has been extremely difficult.
Programs like Lyndhurst and Queen of Peace have been trying to get to the playoffs for quite some time now. Queen of Peace hasn’t appeared in the playoffs since 2005. Lyndhurst made its last appearance a year earlier.
But after wins over the weekend, both the Golden Bears and Golden Griffins are indeed golden. Lyndhurst’s thrilling 25-22 come-from-behind win over tough NJIC foe Hasbrouck Heights enabled the Golden Bears to improve to 6-1 and for all intents and purposes, they clinched a berth in the upcoming NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I playoffs.
The Golden Bears won their third straight game by knocking off the Aviators in a game where they trailed, 22-10. The win gave Lyndhurst 85 power points, placing them fifth in the current standings.
If the Golden Bears defeat Manchester Regional this weekend, the Golden Bears could actually move into fourth place and earn a home game in the first round of the Group I state playoffs.
If the Bears somehow lose, they would need a host of different scenarios to happen, too many to count, list or fathom, to knock them out.
“I want to say that it’s more than likely that we’re in,” said Lyndhurst head coach Scott Rubinetti, who returned to his high school alma mater three years ago and now appears headed to the state playoffs, where he performed as a player for Lyndhurst.
“We’re all into it now and that helps you win games,” Rubinetti said. “We addressed a lot of issues and we’re a different team than we were last year and we’re even different than we were at the beginning of this year. It’s been a great turnaround.”
The Golden Bears have gradually improved in Rubinetti’s three seasons, going from 2-8 in 2009, 4-6 last year to 6-1 this season.
“It’s been a great thing to watch,” Rubinetti said. “And it’s also been the way we’ve won, coming from behind, overcoming injuries. The kids have learned to win games. I think we’ve all learned a lot about ourselves in this process. They endured some tough losses in the past and survived. We’ve learned personal lessons and team lessons along the way and remained focused.”
Once again, junior quarterback Danny Kesack had a phenomenal all-around game, leading the comeback. Kesack threw second half touchdown passes to Marcus Brandon and Jeremy Schaefer to bring the Golden Bears all the way back.
Kesack completed 12-of-17 passes for 216 yards and the two touchdowns. He also rushed for 110 yards and scored a touchdown on the ground. He also added a crucial two-point conversion run on the final touchdown and set up the last score by making an interception on defense, where he also had six tackles.
“There’s no doubt about it,” Rubinetti said. “Danny gives our team a double threat, both running and passing, and we are piecing everything around him. He’s really come into his own throwing the ball. We need a play and he makes the play.”
Thomas Hayes has also come up big for the Golden Bears. The defensive end now has nine sacks, 17 tackles for losses and three forced fumbles. Hayes has become a defensive demon for the Golden Bears.
Queen of Peace lost its first three games of the season and prospects of making the state playoffs looked bleak.
“We were the better team in two of those three losses, if not all three,” said QP head coach Steve Romano. “I asked, `What more could we do to get a win?’ But they just kept playing and made less and less mistakes.”
The Golden Griffins faced the crossroads of their entire season when they trailed Bogota at halftime of their fourth game. Another loss would have meant playing for pride alone.
“I clearly told them at halftime of the Bogota game that it was now or never,” Romano said. “They responded.”
The Golden Griffins have earned four straight victories, including Saturday night’s 38-16 win over Mastery Charter of Pennyslvania in a game held at Passaic Tech in Wayne. The win enabled the Golden Griffins to clinch a berth in the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 1 playoffs.
“We’re definitely in,” Romano said. “It’s a great thing for the school, for the kids and also on a personal level. I saw Mastery on film and wondered if we were in over our heads. But the kids were well-prepared and focused. It’s amazing how winning can do some amazing things. It makes everything better.”
Each week, the Golden Griffins seem to have a new hero and Saturday night, it was senior Brian Webster, who scored two touchdowns, one on a pass from Anthony Villano and the other on a fumble recovery.
“If there’s one kid I couldn’t be happier for, it’s Brian Webster,” Romano said. “That kid has been through a really rough road.”
Webster first attended Paterson Catholic and when that school closed, he headed to Paramus Catholic, but things didn’t go well there. So he transferred to Queen of Peace, but had to sit out four weeks at the beginning of this season.
“He basically hasn’t played in a year and a half,” Romano said. “He waited for his turn on the field and has done great things for us since he’s been able. If colleges saw him play, there would be a lot of interest in him. He’s playing linebacker, defensive end and wide receiver for us. He’s very diversified.”
Romano said that the Golden Griffins have to keep it up this weekend against Elmwood Park, which has yet to win a game this season.
“We have two regular season games left and the playoffs and we’re going with the approach that each one should be played like it’s our last game,” Romano said. “It’s important for us and for the school to have a winning season.”
Just like it’s important to get into the state playoffs, which both Lyndhurst and Queen of Peace have done for the first time in years.

Kearny’s Batista approaching impressive milestone

Photo by Jim Hague/ Kearny senior forward Almir “Junior” Batista.


By Jim Hague

He was born with the name of Almir Batista, just like his father, but at an early age, Almir Batista became known as “Junior.”
“Since my father had the same name, my mother just always called me Junior,” Batista said. “It just stuck.”
And the name of Junior Batista may very well stick in the Kearny High School soccer record books for a very long time.
Batista is rapidly approaching the all-time school record for goals in a career. The record of 65 was set by two-time Parade All-America honoree Sergio Ulloa a decade or so ago. Batista now has tallied 63 career goals, with the 23 he has scored this year. He’s three away from immortality.
“It would really mean a lot to me, because there have been so many great soccer players from Kearny,” Batista said. “It’s almost awe-inspiring to be that close to the record.”
There was one special moment in this current season that was beyond awe-inspiring – and that was the incredible goal Batista scored against Harrison at Red Bull Arena. The goal took place almost a month ago, but many soccer fans are still talking about it, because it was that amazing.
Right after Harrison scored the go-ahead goal, Batista took a chance with the ball placed for the restart right near midfield. From nearly 60 yards away, Batista fired a shot and it sailed right into the net for the game-tying goal that gave the Kardinals the chance to earn a 2-1 victory.
“He has the knack to score goals, from six yards or 60,” Kearny head coach Bill Galka said. “And that’s the truth.”
“I still can’t believe it,” Batista said. “I’ve had plenty of flashbacks about that goal. I still can’t believe I had the opportunity to do that. I had a good feeling it had a chance to go in. At least it was on target and that gave it a bigger chance of going in.”
As far back as Junior Batista can remember, he’s been scoring goals. He took after his grandfather, who was a standout player in his heyday in Brazil, and began playing on a club soccer team in Newark at the tender age of 4.
“It just came natural to me,” Batista said. “I started young. And I always scored goals. I was put at forward and everyone just kept me there.”
But when Batista arrived at Kearny High School, he was not immediately placed on the varsity as a freshman.
“I played for the freshman team,” Batista said. “I wasn’t chosen for the varsity. I understood that we had a lot of seniors back then that were on the team.”
But Galka realized that he had a special player, even back then.
“When he was a freshman, he had a great physique,” Galka said. “He was strong and had a great soccer body, even for a freshman. We knew he would always develop into someone special. He had the talent and ability to score goals.”
So when Batista joined the varsity as a sophomore, he began to score goal after goal and just kept going.
“He has that ability to score,” Galka said. “He really has a nose for the goal. He has great speed and great physical ability. It’s just a knack.”
Batista continued that knack on Saturday, when he scored two more goals to lead the Kardinals to a 3-1 victory over Ferris in the Hudson County Tournament quarterfinals, setting up a contest with Union City in the semifinals and keeping alive the possibility of another showdown with Harrison.
For his efforts, Batista has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.
While Batista has continued his goal-scoring prowess this season, he’s also become more of a team player, trying to get his teammates involved.
“Coming off the season he had last year (scoring 24 goals), there was going to be a lot of attention on him,” Galka said. “Being a marked man like he is, sometimes he has to get others goals with his assists. He’s been very unselfish this year and has been getting others involved, laying balls off to others.”
Galka said that a good example of that unselfishness came in the big win over Harrison, when he started the game-winning play by eluding three defenders, then passing the ball to the wing, setting up the goal that gave the Kardinals a 2-1 win.
“I’m depending a lot on my teammates more,” Batista said. “I’m laying off the ball to them and giving them more open space to work with. I’d love to have the ball all the time, but if I’m marked, I still have to make the plays and give them more opportunities. I only had one assist all of last year. I have five this year, so I’m doing a better job passing the ball.”
“We always tell players with that ability that sometimes they have to be better passers, especially with all the pressure on them,” Galka said. “You can’t always do things yourself. You have to get others involved. Junior’s done very well with that. He’s getting the ball to others and that has been very positive.”
Galka knows that having a proven sniper is a huge advantage going down the stretch, as the games all get important now. There’s the Hudson County Tournament, where the Kardinals are the defending champions, and then there’s the NJSIAA Group IV playoffs, where the 14-2 Kards should earn a high seed.
“It’s very important to have someone like Junior,” Galka said. “All teams want that. We’re conscious that we’re at the pivotal part of the season and Junior’s very capable of scoring at any time. If he’s well marked, it’s a bonus, because we have a couple of other players who are dangerous.”
But none like the pending all-time leading scorer.
“It’s been a little harder to do it in three years, but it’s really something special,” said Batista, who hopes to play in college someday, but will need some work academically to do so. “There have been a lot of great players in Kearny. It would be amazing to be the best.”
That title may occur any day soon.

The oracle in the capital


By Randy Neumann

In April, I took the Acela train from the Metropark station in Woodbridge to Washington, D.C. The high-speed train uses tilting technology that, by lowering lateral centrifugal forces, allows it to travel at higher speeds on the sharply curved rail lines without disturbing passengers.  It provided a quiet, comfortable two-hour ride.  The train has a top speed of 150 mph, but obviously it did not maintain that, because the distance to Washington is 183 miles.
Because of what they do there, I didn’t really want to go to the nation’s capital.  Remember the old saw about making sausage? If you saw it being made, you would never eat it?  Most of all, I didn’t want to go there because of the epiphany I had the week prior.
I was in Orlando, Fla., at a conference of financial advisers and during a dinner, the subject of the richest counties in the country came up.  I rattled off the usual suspects – Bergen in New Jersey, Westchester in New York and Orange County in California.  Somebody told me, crudely, that I didn’t know what I was talking about.
He then whipped out his BlackBerry and demonstrated to the crowd that the six richest counties in the country lie on the outskirts of Washington.  I was devastated.  Wall Street used to drive Bergen and Westchester to the top of the heap.  No more.
Well, at the Renaissance Hotel, surrounded by the NPR building, the beautiful old library and Samuel Gompers Memorial Park, I had my second epiphany in two weeks.
I attended Epiphany School as a child in Cliffside Park and I knew that the school was named for the holiday on Jan. 6 commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles. However, I didn’t learn the more secular meaning of the word until later in life when I read in a dictionary that an epiphany was “a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into reality or the essential meaning of something, often initiated by some simple, commonplace occurrence.”
Nick Murray, a very popular speaker amongst financial advisers, was one of the speakers at a “coaching” forum hosted by an insurance company.  He has 44 years experience in the industry and provides some keen insights.
Murray began his talk with the following, “My baby sister was born in 1946.  She is 65 years old and is retiring this year.  She has lots of company, since 2011 is the year of the first baby boomer turning 65.  Beginning this year, there will be 10,000 baby boomers hitting age 65 every day, which comes to 3 million per year and 30 million between 2011 and 2020.”
Murray next provided the following admonition, “Don’t bother talking to your clients about the fate of Portugal or the condition of the rods in the Japanese nuclear reactor, because neither are long-range concerns.  Talk to them about the important question which is, ‘Are you going to outlive your money or is your money going to outlive you?’ ”
Well, that simplifies things and puts the right question on the table for a client instead of worrying about the minutia that comes out of the media.  How would you know if you’re going to outlive your money or if your money will outlive you?
You begin by running some numbers.  What will your income needs be over your lifetime?  Let’s begin with: How long is your lifetime?  If two people are retiring at age 62 and they don’t smoke, somebody will probably live to age 90.  So, we could be talking about a 30-year retirement.
How much money will you need?  Well, since World War II, inflation has averaged around 3%, so using a 3% inflation factor over the next 30 years sounds reasonable.  Remember, if things change, you can always adjust.  Retirement planning is not a one-time event when you retire; rather it’s a lifetime, hands-on work in progress.
Okay, everything will surely cost more.  The $100 you are spending at the grocery store this week will require $116 in five years, $134 in 10 years and $243 in 30 years.  So, in order to provide a retirement with dignity and independence, you need to have steady growth in your investment portfolio.
Nick then posed the following questions, “Where do you think this return will come from?”  “Who knows where the Dow was when my baby sister was born in 1946?”  Some of the answers shouted out by the 400 advisers at the seminar were 50, 100 and 300.  And the answer is: 190!  The next question was, “Where is the Dow now?”  The answer was 1,300.
Murray went on to say that although people (baby boomers) need to be in the stock market, they are not comfortable doing so because of the scars left on their parents by the Great Depression.  He said that the 1920s were a time of great hope.  People had cars and washing machines for the first time, but then the door of doom slammed shut in 1929.  He quipped, “Norman Bates had left the room and Mrs. Bates had taken over.”

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for the individual.  Randy Neumann CFP® is a registered representative with securities and insurance offered through LPL Financial.  Member FINRA/SIPC.  He can be reached at 12 Route 17N, Suite 115, Paramus, 201-291-9000.


Philip D. Beaulac
Philip D. Beaulac passed away peacefully, on Oct. 11 in St. Petersburg, Fla., at the age of 73.  Born in Algonac, Mich., he served in the U.S. Navy from 1956-1959, after which he worked with the Merchant Marines. He and his former wife, Gael (nee Shumway) raised their family in Kearny.  He was an engineer for Essex Chemical Corporation, Port Newark, for over 25 years.
He leaves behind his love and life partner Jill McKnight, her daughter Victoria and husband Jay and granddaughter Bella, and his four children, Teresa Casadonte (husband Thomas) of Rutherford; Roy Beaulac of Sussex;  Philip Beaulac Jr. of Franklin;  and Yvette Beaulac of Princeton, Texas.   He was the proud grandfather of six grandchildren, Philip, Crystal, Kristina, Michael, Kathryne and Madeleine.
His spirit for life, love for music and entertainment, his laughter, warmth and compassion for others will be missed by all who loved him.  Burial and ceremony will be held in his honor at the Bay Pines VA National Cemetery in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Nov. 18.

Carolyn Mae Chaplauske
Carolyn Mae Chaplauske (Liegel), 77, passed away on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at the Belgrove Post-Acute Care Center in Kearny. She was born in Union, and resided in Newark before moving to Kearny almost 40 years ago.
She was the beloved wife of the late George; devoted and loving mother of Carolyn Bamber, Joseph P. and Viola Chaplauske, Ellen Lugin (George), Mitchell Chaplauske, Ann Mc Ewan (Stewart), Jane Ladd (Terry), Richard (Stefanie) and the late Kenneth and George Chaplauske (Rolland); sister of Harry Liegel, Viola Metrose, William Liegel and the late Marty, Howard and Frank Liegel; dear grandmother of Christopher, Jennifer, Jessie, Nicole, Edward, Joseph, William, Samuel, Jake and Zoie; cherished great -grandmother of Kaylee, Andrew and Jack.
A funeral service was held at the Shaw- Buyus Home for Services, 138 Davis Ave., Kearny.  Interment was in Arlington Cemetery, Kearny. Visit www.buyusfuneralhome.com.

Elizabeth DeGiacomo
Elizabeth DeGiacomo died on Oct. 16. She was 91.
Born in Italy, she lived in Larchmont, N.Y., before moving to Cape Cod in 1985.
She was predeceased by her husband Nicholas and daughter Maryann. She is survived by her sister Addie Zumbo.
Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home in Kearny. Burial was at the Sandwich Town Cemetery, Cape Cod.

Dorothy Bleh Douglas
Dorothy Bleh Douglas of Westfield, formerly of Kearny, died
peacefully on Oct. 13 at the Overlook Medical Center in Summit.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio on April 20, 1916, Dorothy lived in Kearny for most of her
Dorothy was employed at RCA in Harrison for 11 years and Mandee Shops for 22 years. She was an 80-year member of the Grace Methodist Church in Kearny where she belonged
to the Harmony Circle. Other clubs she enjoyed were the Westfield
Community Seniors, Daughters of America, the arts and crafts group of Benstead
Seniors and the Home League of the Salvation Army of Kearny.
Dorothy was predeceased by her husband of 35 years, James
Douglas. She is survived by her son Jack Douglas and his wife Kate of
Westfield, and her daughter Sharon Dorman and her husband Stan of
Virginia; her grandchildren Alissa, Tara
and Matthew and her great-grandson Charlie and one sister, Betty Hill of New
Dorothy was happiest when she was helping others and working
for her church dinners and fairs. 
Dorothy will be missed by all her family and all who knew
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to The Salvation
Army Kearny Corp., 443 Chestnut St. , Kearny, NJ 07032. Private funeral arrangements were conducted by the Bannworth
Funeral Home, Elizabeth.

Ann F. Rice
Ann F. Rice, 91, of Jackson, and formerly of Kearny, died Tuesday, Oct. 18, at Bartley Healthcare and Rehab, Jackson.
Born Feb. 7, 1920 in Kingstree, S.C., she was a daughter of the late John S. and Clinnie (Haselden) Frierson.  On April 12, 1943, she married John Miller Rice who preceded her in death on Feb. 8, 2004 after 60 years of marriage.
Ann was a First Lieutenant in the Women’s Army Corp stateside during World War II, where she served as a nurse.
A loving and devoted wife and mother, Ann lived her life guided by the teachings of Christ. She loved people and was a tireless volunteer at the West Hudson Hospital and for numerous other causes.
Surviving are two sons and daughters-in-law, Robert and Michele Rice and Donald and Sherri Rice; five daughters and sons-in-law, Marilyn and Steve Paurelsky, Karen and Jean-Maurice Parnet, Jeanne and Al Narwid, Helen Patricia Carbone and Fred VonKoester and Ellen and Mike Melnick; four sisters and one brother-in-law, Sue Easler, Nell Altman, Ollie DeCaro and Betty and Rev. Charles Dawson; 12 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
A funeral service was held at Beaver Memorial United Methodist Church, Lewisburg, Pa., followed by burial with full military honors in Lewisburg Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to your local meals on wheels program.
The family is being assisted by Cronrath-Grenoble Funeral Home, South Second and St. Louis Streets, Lewisburg, Pa.
Expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.cronrathgrenoblefuneralhome.com.

Nanci Von Tetzlaff
Nanci Von Tetzlaff died on Oct. 17 at home. She was 61.
Born in Woodridge, she lived in Passaic and Little Ferry before moving to Kearny 10 years ago.
She is survived by her husband Arthur, her children Randel, Brian (Emily) and Lisa. Sister of Russell Oltar, she is also survived by her grandchildren Donovan, Caitlyn, Emilio and Ryan.
Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held at the funeral home followed by burial at Holy Cross Cemetery.

Jean V. Pester
Jean V. Pester (nee Ness) died on Oct. 21 in the Heritage Nursing Home in Leesburg, Va. She was 98.
Born in Newark, she lived in Kearny before moving to Virginia in 1983. Mrs. Pester was a retired assembly worker from AW Faber in Newark.
Wife of the late Theodore O. Pester, she is survived by her daughter Jane Valentine; sister Florence Leonard; brother Jack Ness and his wife Gloria; her grandchildren Wallace Valentine and Heather Collier and her great-grandchildren Daniel Lee Collier Jr. and Ava Isobel Valentine.
Relatives and friends are invited to visit at the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny, on Wednesday, Oct. 26, beginning at 10 am. The service will start at noon and burial will follow at Arlington Cemetery.

Stanley “Stash” Karchefsky
Stanley “Stash” Karchefsky, 86, of Toms River, formerly of Harrison, passed away peacefully on Friday, Oct. 21.
Arrangements were by the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave, Harrison. A funeral Mass was held at Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, Harrison, followed by entombment in Holy Cross Chapel Mausoleum, North Arlington. For information or to send condolences, please visit mulliganfuneralhome.org.
Stanley was born in Eynon, Pa. He worked as an orderly at B.S. Pollak Hospital in Jersey City. He was a congregant and member of the Holy Name Society at Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, Harrison. Stanley was also very active in the Harrison Senior Citizens and with the seniors at The Haven in Toms River.
Stanley is survived by his sisters Eleanor Roman; Dolores Shandars; Phyllis Macios and her husband Theodore; Virginia Siano; brother Chester and his wife Connie; also survived by many nieces and nephews. Predeceased by his brothers in-law John Shandars, Edmund Roman and Al Siano.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Embracing Hospice Care c/o the funeral home, in memory of Stanley.

Info sessions for prospective HCCC students

Hudson County Community College will assist prospective students in becoming better acquainted with the school and its offerings through a series of information sessions in November and December. The events provide opportunities to learn about the academic programs, the admissions process, financial aid, extracurricular activities and services and resources for students.

Five of the six sessions, which will focus on specific areas of study, will take place at the college’s Culinary Arts Institute/Conference Center, 161 Newkirk St., Jersey City — just two blocks from the Journal Square PATH Station.

They are:

Culinary Arts — Tuesday, Nov. 1, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

Health, Science & Technology — Thursday, Nov. 3, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

Hospitality Management — Thursday, Nov. 17, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

Humanities & Social Sciences — Thursday, Dec. 8, 6  – 7:30 p.m.

Hospitality Management/Culinary Arts — Saturday, Dec. 10, 10 – 11:30 a.m.

The sixth session will be held at the  new North Hudson Higher Education Center at 4800 Kennedy Blvd. in Union City on Thursday, Nov. 10, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. This “complete campus under one roof” includes: the Enrollment Center; Community Education (noncredit) office; student lounge/cyber café; bookstore; fitness room; language labs; art studio, film & music studies room, and biology and chemistry labs.

Those interested in attending the information sessions are encouraged to register online at http://mystart.hccc.edu and select “Events.”




Mtn. Lakes killer ID’d as Kearny man

Photo by Anthony Machcinski/ Leonardo Parera, who lived in this Woodland Ave. building, was linked to fatal shooting at Morris County realty office. The photo is from his Facebook page.

Leonardo Parera



By Karen Zautyk

On Friday afternoon, as police from various jurisdictions headed for a Mountain Lakes real estate office where a woman employee had been fatally shot by a co-worker, Kearny police were converging on a Woodland Ave. apartment building, “vested up and guns drawn,” in the words of Chief John Dowie.
At the time, the killer’s whereabouts were unknown, but the man had made a call to the State Police dispatcher, stating, “I just killed someone.” He also reportedly warned the dispatcher that he was heavily armed and that the situation could “escalate.”
State Police traced the cell phone he used to the Kearny address and warned local authorities that the killer might possibly be there.
As it turned out, he was in a car in a Rt. 46 parking lot, armed with a rifle and a handgun. And when Morris County law enforcement officers approached the vehicle, he began shooting. They returned fire, and he died in the gun battle. It appeared  to be a case of what has become known as “suicide by cop.”
The killer was identified as Leonardo Parera, 39, of 6 Woodland Ave., an agent with Exit Realty Gold Service at 100 Rt. 46 in Mountain Lakes.
Authorities said Parera entered the office Friday and fatally shot office manager Christine Capone King, 47, of Jefferson Township.
At press time, authorities were still attempting to determine the motives behind Parera’s actions, which remained a mystery.
According to published reports, fellow employees insisted there had been nothing but a professional relationship between the two and that Parera had never been violent or even displayed anger while at work.
Dowie told The Observer that shortly before 5 p.m., the KPD got the alert from Hudson County 911 to respond to the Woodland Ave. building regarding an individual who had just killed someone and was in possession of multiple weapons.
The only information the dispatcher had at that point was that a call to the state police had come from a phone listed at the Kearny address and that authorities wanted to know if Parera was in the apartment.
Officers secured the  street since it was not known if Parera’s windows overlooked Woodland, and checked the apartment and cleared the roof.
Approximately 10 minutes after arriving on the scene, Dowie said, the State Police radioed that a suspect “was down” in Mountain Lakes.
Kearny officers were asked to see if Parera had left any explanatory notes in his home,  but none was found. Dowie said they did find an empty case, apparently for the handgun that was registered to Parera.
Parera shared the apartment with his mother, and Morris County authorities went there later that night to personally inform her of her son’s death. The distraught woman was taken to Clara Maass Medical Center  by Kearny EMTs for treatment of trauma and for observation and was released the next day.
Kearny police officers transported her back home and offered to contact a priest, pastor or friend to stay with her. Sources said that apparently her closest relative was in Indiana.

Out on bail, he targeted 9 more banks

Nathaniel Barreto


By Karen Zautyk

A Newark man who was released on bail after being arrested for a North Arlington bank robbery last year wasted no time getting back into the sting of things, robbing eight more banks – and attempting to rob a ninth – over a two-month period, authorities reported.
The culprit, Nathaniel Barreto, 29, pleaded guilty in Federal Court in Trenton last week to one count of bank robbery, but admitted to the others, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman announced.

The saga began  March 26, 2010, when a lone gunman held up the Bank of America branch at 119 Ridge Road, North Arlington.
Less than two weeks later, on April 7, Barreto surrendered  to North Arlington police after township detectives had identified him and tracked him to Florida. He was arrested and remanded to Bergen County Jail in lieu of $350,000 bail.
Lesson learned? Not quite.
Barreto’s bail reportedly was reduced, and he walked out of jail on April 22. Two months later, almost to the day, he revived his criminal career, launching a five-county spree that lasted from June 25 to Aug. 17, 2010. It also included two heists in one day – one in Bergen County, one in Hunterdon.
Court records show that Barreto’s targets were as follows:
• June 25 – Wachovia Bank, 1080 Broad St., Bloomfield
• July 8 – Mariner’s Bank, 242 Oradell Ave., Paramus
• July 8 – Bank of America, 396 Route 22, Whitehouse
• July 23 – Kearny Federal Savings, 487 Pleasant Valley Way, West Orange
• July 28 – Lakeland Savings Bank, 321 Main St., Boonton
• Aug. 2 – Bank of America, 32 Route 46, West Pine Brook
• Aug. 4 – Sovereign Bank, 541 Rahway Ave., Woodbridge
• Aug. 9 (attempted) – PNC Bank, 424 Broad St., Bloomfield
• Aug. 17 – PNC Bank, 500 Route 10, Whippany
The banditry binge ended after the Whippany holdup, when a witness saw Barreto get into a car driven by an accomplice and noted the  license plate number,  Fishman’s office said.
The vehicle was found abandoned near a wooded area, and Barreto and his buddy were apprehended among the trees.
During the two-month crime wave, Barreto apparently took to wearing a black stocking mask over his face, but in North Arlington, despite a hooded jacket, hat and ski mask, his eyes and nose had been visible. And he was clearly caught on security video.





Security cameras caught armed robber entering North Arlington bank and confronting teller.

In the North Arlington incident, Barreto had entered the bank at about 3:15 p.m. and announced a holdup, brandishing what appeared to be a large black and silver automatic.
He handed a teller a plastic shopping bag, ordered her to fill it with cash, and then fled with an undisclosed amount.
After his subsequent surrender at North Arlington police HQ, officers armed with a search warrant  went to Barreto’s address in Newark where they reported finding six bundles of cash, each wrapped in a Bank of America currency band.   The total amount recovered was $1,114, police said.
Barreto’s biggest haul was approximately $42,500 from the bank in Whitehouse.
Last week, North Arlington Police Chief Louis Ghione credited now-retired borough Det. James Gangi with “dogged police work” that helped authorities finally nab the serial bandit. Gangi “was monitoring bank robberies in the tri-state area” and saw that there were several with “a similar M.O.” to that of the local heist, the chief said.
Barreto faces 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 when he is sentenced Jan. 13.

Residency law changed to achieve more diversity

Photo by Ron Leir/ Firefighters Martina Smith and Matthew Mitchell at the Davis Ave. firehouse in Kearny.


By Ron Leir

When Kearny Firefighter Martina Smith was hired in 2009, she became the department’s only female and one of only two African-Americans represented among the current 98 departmental employees.
The town’s Police Department, with 114 members, has four African-Americans.
Seventeen years ago, Kearny and the NAACP were parties to a federal consent order approved by U.S. District Court that sought to improve the recruitment of minorities among both the uniformed and civilian ranks. No hiring quotas were specified. Approximately 4% of Kearny’s population is African-American, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.
Before the consent order, job applicants had to be Kearny residents to be eligible for employment opportunities.
Under the consent order, candidates for positions within the Police and Fire Departments and for non-uniformed jobs were required to be residents of Hudson or Essex counties.
But Mayor Alberto Santos said that the effort to achieve diversity by drawing a bigger pool of job applicants backfired.
“The majority of those people hired in the Police and Fire Departments after the residency requirements were revised were non-Kearny residents and non-African Americans,” he said. “Diversity was not achieved.”
Santos said that it turned out that “significant numbers” of people from towns such as Bayonne in Hudson County and Roseland and Verona in suburban Essex County were achieving high scores on state Civil Service competitive exams and landing at or near the top of appointment lists for Kearny police and firefighter positions.
“We feel Kearny residents should have a chance to be hired,” the mayor said.
So town officials approached David Rose, the NAACP’s Washington-based attorney, and asked if the organization would be open to tweaking the terms of the consent order to give “residential preference for Kearny and Newark residents” on the hiring of police officers, firefighters and non-uniformed employees in competitive and non-competitive titles.
Under this scenario, Civil Service would be asked to draw a list of job candidates limited to Kearny and Newark residents.
Failing to draw sufficient numbers of applicants from such a list, Kearny would then ask Civil Service to revise the list to include a second tier of candidates who are residents of Hudson and Essex counties; then, a third tier of candidates who live in New Jersey; and a fourth tier of people living outside New Jersey.
“We welcomed it,” said Rose. “It gives the town a little more latitude to treat equally people from Newark. It’s a fresh idea and it might improve what’s going on in Kearny. It’s innovative and worth a try. We do think that because there are a lot more African-Americans in Newark, that the applicant pool will be more heavily black and will increase the chance of more blacks being hired.”
On Aug. 15, U.S. District Court Judge Katherine S. Hayden, sitting in Newark, gave her blessing to the proposed changes in the consent order and on Oct. 11 the Kearny Town Council voted unanimously, with one member absent, to implement the changes.
“I look at it as an opportunity to get more minorities in Kearny,” said Kearny Fire Chief Steve Dyl.
Job applications are available at all town firehouses, as well as schools, the Public Library and Town Hall, he said.
Martina Smith, meanwhile, appears to have settled in very well in her job at the Davis Ave. firehouse.
The Jersey City resident and St. Anthony’s High School Class of 1996 alumna enlisted in the Navy in February 1998 for a four-year tour and re-upped for a second.
“I did it for the education opportunity,” Smith said. Using the G.I. Bill, and on the advice of a family member, she took fire science courses at New Jersey City University, earning a B.A. in 2009.
“Two years prior,” she said, “I had applied for a job with the Jersey City Fire Department.”
Asked about her career choice, Smith said: “I’ve never been an office-type person.”
To her surprise, Smith ended up on the Kearny Fire Department appointment list as well and was tendered a job offer and, after successfully completing two months training in the fire academy and one month in EMT school, she began working.
Smith did a year’s service at Engine 3 at Fire Headquarters and is now assigned to Squad 2 on Davis Ave. where, when she takes her turn as firehouse cook, she likes to grill chicken and veggies for her Bravest crew.
So far, Smith has responded to a fire at the Arlington Bridge, a few car fires but, as yet, no buildings. “We train for it, though, so I’m ready when it happens,” she said.

Wireless firm withdraws tower plan

Photo by Ron Leir/ Neighbors' lawn signs expressed their displeasure about the proposed cell tower at Broad St. and Bay Ave.



By Ron Leir

The cell tower battle is over . . . at least for now.
An opening salvo was made by T-Mobile Northeast of Parsippany in February when it filed an application for use and height variance approval with the township Zoning Board of Adjustment to “construct a new monopole for wireless telecommunications.”
That proposed 120-foot-high pole, and equipment cabinets, were to be installed on the grounds of a private garden center owned and operated by the O’Boyle family at Broad St. and Bay Ave.
Members of the Zoning Board were due to hear more testimony – and probably vote on the plan – on Oct. 20.
But after neighbors organized vocal opposition to the project, the applicant opted to bow out, informing the board of its decision in an Oct. 10 letter from Rockaway attorney James K. Pryor.
“I have been authorized by T-Mobile to advise you that the Applicant desires to withdraw this case without prejudice. Obviously, this will render the Oct. 20, 2011, hearing date moot,” Pryor wrote.
That means that T-Mobile can re-file the application at some later date without penalty but, at least for now, the company isn’t going forward with the proposal.
And that’s just fine with more than 200 neighbors of the proposed tower site who signed a petition urging the Zoning Board to deny the application.
“The No Broad Street Cell Tower Group would personally like to thank everyone for their support in spreading the word in fighting the T-Mobile Cell Tower at the Brookside Garden Center and coming to all the meetings to show your opposition,” said a statement released by Maria Probst, Sandra Cummins, Pat Gilleran and Megan Wiley.
“As residents of Bloomfield,” the petition said, “we strongly oppose the construction of this cell tower in a residential area that (is near) a park, an elementary school, and the Brookside and North Center shopping areas.
“In addition to questionable health effects, the construction of said monopole will negatively impact neighboring property values,” it added.
Probst asserted that a 120-foot-high monopole just “doesn’t fit in this neighborhood.”
To install the pole, Probst said, T-Mobile planned to “go down 40 feet from the water table” in an area “already overwhelmed with flooding issues.”
Moreover, Probst added, “we don’t know about the long-term health effects” from the wireless equipment.
That uncertainty was disturbing for Cummins, a breast cancer survivor whose property shares a common border with the site that was targeted for the wireless materials.
“Why should I have to live with it?” Cummins asked. “It would offer no benefit to anyone living in the area.”
Cummins alleged that T-Mobile failed to document that subscribers had complained about a service coverage gap in the area.
And, she said, if the company’s proposed merger with AT&T doesn’t go through, “we don’t even know if they’ll still be in business a year from now.”
If the tower had been built, Cummins said, the “aesthetics of an obelisk eyesore” would have been “detrimental to the nearby town park and restaurant row.”
Fairfield attorney John Dusinberre, who represented the owner of a medical office adjacent to the proposed tower site, said concern for public safety and health ought to “outweigh the need for (improved) coverage.”
T-Mobile “shouldn’t just get carte blanche to put its cell tower anywhere it wants,” he said.
Dusinberre recalled testimony offered at one of the several zoning hearings that referenced leakage from an apparently abandoned underground storage tank on the property where the pole was to be placed. Test borings showed the presence of petroleum, he said.
“Our concern now is that this leakage is not forgotten,” Dusinberre added.
Residents also expressed fears about ice forming atop the pole in winter and possibly falling on people below, or the pole itself falling. They also asked whether other locations might better serve T-Mobile’s coverage needs.
Bloomfield residents have been part of a growing chorus of naysayers fighting proposed wireless cell towers around the state in such communities as Woodbridge, Manville, Scotch Plains, Cranford, Basking Ridge and Harding Township, among others.
A statement released last week by company spokeswoman Jane Builder said: “T-Mobile is committed to providing the highest quality of wireless service to our customers in Bloomfield. We’re in the process of evaluating our projected construction schedule for our site on Broad St.
“As the recent experience with Hurricane Irene reminds us, families are best served when comprehensive wireless coverage improves access to emergency services for personal and public safety purposes as well as the ability to stay connected to the important people in their lives. It takes a robust network and new wireless facilities to reliably make all of those wireless connections.”

Book is just what the ‘Doc’ ordered

Paul “Doc” Gaccione’s unique book recounts one man’s complex life story.


By Karen Zautyk

‘You could take 100 people,” Paul “Doc” Gaccione told us the other day, “and every single one of them would see me in a different way.”
Odds are those perceptions will be even more varied, and complex, now that Gaccione has told his story in a book.
Or is it his story, an autobiography? Perhaps it’s a novel? A mystery? Something else?
Gaccione himself refuses to label it, asking merely that his readers use the book, “Beyond the Beyond,” to sit as jurors “in the trial which is his life.” And “Beyond the Beyond” refers to what is out there after death. The book is a personal record of the author’s spiritual journey.
As of now, Gaccione, 63, is scheduled to face actual jurors at a real-life trial in January. He is currently free on $1 million bail on a charge of murder in the second degree in connection with his alleged role in a Mafia hit in 1992. He was not arrested until April 2010, when federal authorities showed up at his Lyndhurst home and he landed in Rikers Island jail.
Back in  ’92, a man named Angelo Sangiuolo was shot dead in the Bronx on orders from a cousin, Genovese crime family capo Angelo Prisco, who is now serving life in prison. The triggerman, John (Johnny Balls) Leto, was convicted in 2009.
Gaccione is accused of being the getaway driver. He faces 25 to life if convicted.
As noted in the book, it’s not the first time the author has faced a serious criminal charge. As a young man – one who was an amateur boxing champion – he got into an altercation in the parking lot of the Lyndhurst Diner. The other guy threw the first punch, Gaccione writes, but he responded, and the combatant “went down, hit his head on the ground, and died.”
Gaccione stood trial for manslaughter, but the jury found him not guilty, deciding he had acted in self-defense. But he gave up all his “childhood dreams” of a pro boxing career.
Are you inclined to judge him yet? You shouldn’t. Not until you read the book.
One of the most moving chapters, a look into the heart, describes Gaccione’s reaction to a sermon in his local church. He had sent his manuscript to his pastor for reaction, but had received no response. Then, one Sunday, this same priest spoke from the pulpit about people who use God for their own glorification, their own ego.
Gaccione took this as a personal message, shaking him to the core and filling him with doubt and guilt and a sickness of the soul. It is painful to read the words as he sits in judgment of his own motives in writing. When we spoke of this incident the other day, Gaccione told me, “the closest thing” to this sickness he experienced “was the feeling I had when I heard that the man at the Lyndhurst Diner had passed away.”
Gaccione came to terms with his self-criticism over the writing of the book, noting that “only God knows what is in my heart and mind, and we can’t fool Him.”
“Beyond the Beyond” recounts a number of extraordinary events that prompted the writing of a book by someone who admits to never having read a book in his life. He has, though, been especially influenced by author Dinesh D’Souza, whom he quotes. So he read D’Souza, right? “I listened to the CD,” he explained.
There is one incident, in particular, which Gaccione believes was a glimpse into the “Beyond the Beyond,” that will give you chills. And, perhaps, hope.
Gaccione is a great believer in destiny, and the book – which was born in a moment of suicidal despair – is part of his, he says. He believes, too, in our own ability to influence our destiny – and of the power of the positive over the negative.
It is also filled with some humorous accounts of his growing up in Lyndhurst, and longtime residents may recognize some of the characters.
And for someone who says he “ain’t the smartest guy,“ Gaccione can be deeply intellectual. Not in the pompous ivory-tower way, but in the way that makes you think. Ponder. Examine your own beliefs and emotions.
Writing about the funeral of a close friend, a popular man whose death drew lines of mourners to the funeral home and a cortege that stretched for what seemed like miles, Gaccione notes that “soon he will be forgotten.”
“It might take a couple of decades for family and close friends to slowly lose his memory, but like every other person, that is what will happen. Yes there are people whose memory lives on, like Michelangelo or George Washington. It could be for 100 years or a thousand years, but it’s all a drop in the bucket when we speak of ‘eternity.‘ And, when we get down to it, what is a memory, if that’s all there is to eternity?”
Now that is profound.
“Beyond the Beyond,” from Brighton Publishing, has been released as an eBook and will be available in print form by the end of October.