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

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


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

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


NAPD: Don’t fall for phone scams

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


2nd Harrison hotel

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


A first for Kearny VFW Post

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


A WORD WITH THE PUBLISHER: Remember human workers?




By Lisa Pezzolla

Last week as I was speaking to a customer she brought up an interesting idea on how to increase jobs in America. As the conversation progressed we grew more passionate about the topic. Honestly, if the woman hadn’t received a business call that she absolutely had to take, we would have been ranting and raving for hours.

In the past I’ve commented on the new technology and how it has changed the way that we do business on a daily basis. From emails, faxes and texts, to automated phone systems, there is very little human input or interaction these days.

My biggest pet peeve is how we have become dependent on this way of doing business. Sadly, things often get lost in translation when there is no one to talk to at the opposite end: “Press one for sales… Press two for customer service… ” Press this, press that! Before you know it you find yourself throwing the phone across the room out of sheer frustration. It goes without saying that nothing gets accomplished in the process.

Here’s a thought: We could increase jobs if we actually started using people to answer these phones. Which reminds me, how about the toll collectors? In the days before EZPass you could find them at every exit. Now? Good luck.

And they actually call this progress

Demise of the ‘9-to-5’ worker

No, I’m not talking about me. I’ve become accustomed to the rigors of the journalism world. I had a teacher once tell me that, “journalism has no hours,” but I digress.

Escaping the hassle of work has become nearly impossible with the onslaught of advances in technology.

I hear it every day when I go home. My dad’s cell phone constantly goes off, chirping wildly through the night with e-mails from his job.

Slowly, over the past decade or so, I have watched my father get off the train at Arlington Station (after work) hoping for some well-deserved rest and relaxation, only to fall victim to the slow, insidious influx of technology attached to his hip like a tumor (AKA Smartphone) – sucking his free time away in the form of “urgent” e-mails, text messages and phone calls.

I always hear people talking about what has changed today; why America seems so stressed out with everything going on in the world. No one, it seems, takes time to just stop and look at the world around them anymore.

In my own personal life, I look back at my college career and wonder where all the time went. Growing up in this high tech age, I, like many my age were unable to slow down and appreciate the finer things as they happened. It was a constant rush to get money, to get the latest phone, the latest shoes, or even just to pay tuition.

Every year, my family ventures to the Adirondacks in upstate New York. The best part of the trip is making that one, blessed turn onto Rt. 28 North where cell phone service vanishes (yes, such places do exist!).

It’s the most relaxed you’ll ever see my father, or the countless others who escape the urban jungle in favor of this vast mountain range.

The following suggestion may sound like something straight from our Message for the Soul columnist, Shweta Punjabi, but it bears repeating. Take a minute to appreciate everything around you. Whether it’s going to your kid’s Little League game or just taking a short walk in the park before the sun retreats — try to enjoy the peaceful tranquility of life without a cell phone. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, the burden of work may lift just long enough to allow a bit of your free spirit to shine through.

—Anthony J. Machcinski Editorial@theobserver.com


To the Publisher:

Just read Senator Lesniak’s letter in The Record calling their opinion opposing Internet gambling “dumb.” What is really dumb is his position to allow Internet gaming that will reap billions of dollars for its casino businesses. These billions of dollars will come from desperate residents who are struggling to pay their bills and are turning to the false hope that they will strike it rich in the gambling world.

Gambling has not rescued New Jersey from its position as the highest taxed state in the nation. Neither has the sales tax or the lottery. These programs were simply scams to raise more revenue for the most dangerous “gang” in New Jersey – the Trenton “Gang of 120.”

Allowing people to gamble in the privacy of their home will increase gambling addiction and destroy lives. It’s more difficult to find the time to board a bus or drive to a casino than to simply turn on the computer in your pajamas at any time.

Senator Lesniak should explain why, after three decades of casino gambling that provided billions in new revenue, is Atlantic City still a depressed area. Does “dumb” apply to many of the decisions made by our elected officials on the state and local levels? History is the judge and the decision is GUILTY!

Vincent J. Frantantoni



Belleville Police Blotter

Jan. 12

At 3.10 p.m. Officers on patrol observed a man walking on the 600 block Washington Ave. openly drinking a container of beer. The man, Mario Perez, 42, of Belleville was issued a town summons for drinking in public.

Jan. 11

At 8:58 a.m. a victim stated that he had parked his 1998 red, four door Mazda in front of 36 Watchung Ave. When he went to move the vehicle to allow for street cleaning, he noticed that the vehicle was missing. The vehicle was recovered later that day in Newark.

At 4:11 p.m. a resident at 2 Elana Pl. contacted police to report that his 2005 white Ford van was missing. The owner explained that he had loaned the vehicle to an employee who had later called him to tell him that the vehicle was taken. Luckily, an onboard GPS system pointed police in the direction of Jersey City where the vehicle was later recovered.

At 6:52 p.m. a gas attendant at the Pit Stop gas station, 190 Franklin Ave., called police to alert them to a strong-arm robbery that had just occurred at the station. The attendant told police that he noticed a man walked towards him. When he entered the store, he asked the attendant for change for the soda machine. He returned a moment asking for cigarettes. When the attendant turned his back to fetch the cigarettes, he noticed that the man was going through his cash drawer. When he turned around to confront the thief, the man yelled, “Give me your money” and forcibly took $120 off of the attendant’s person before fleeing. Police describe the suspect as black, 6”2” tall and 180 lbs. He was last seen wearing black pants, black jacket and a black hat. Police are investigating.

At 7:22 p.m. a man contacted police to report an attempted burglary at his Cedar Hill Ave home. The man’s sister stated that her brother had left the house at 5:45 p.m. When he returned, he noticed that a patio chair had been moved on an attached deck. He also noticed that a window was now open and a screen was down. No evidence of entry was found, and nothing was discovered missing.

Jan. 9

At 9:43 p.m. a police unit patrolling Franklin St. noticed a male suspect suspiciously looking through parked car windows. After they interviewed John Sanchez, 25, of Kearny they discovered that he carried a $100 warrant out of Newark. He was released on his own recognizance.

Jan 8

At 8:17 a.m. an employee coming off of the overnight shift at the Clara Maass Professional Building reported that his red 1996 Honda Civic 2-door incurred damage in what was likely an attempt to steal it. The victim noted that the passenger window and door lock had sustained damage, and that the steering column showed signs of tampering.

At 9:40 a.m. the owner of a beige 2008 Nissan Pathfinder reported that someone had attempted to steal the vehicle from a parking lot where he had left it since Jan. 5. The owner stated that the driver’s side window was in the down position. He added that the door lock and ignition had also been tampered with.

At 11:35 a.m. police were summoned to the Pathmark at 115 Belmont Ave. on a shoplifting complaint. Store detectives reported that they observed the suspect, 37-year-old Agustin Camacho of Newark stuff eight cans of baby formula into a laundry bag and proceed towards the door where they detained him until police arrived. Camacho was transported to headquarters and charged with shoplifting. He is being held on $500 bail at the County Jail.

At 4:57 p.m. police observed a white Dodge van moving at a high rate of speed. The vehicle was stopped at the intersection of Heckle and Brook Sts. Police found that the driver, William L. Benenato, 43, from Lincoln Pk. was driving with a suspended license. He was charged with careless driving and driving while suspended and released on $50 bail.

At 8:04 p.m. the owner of a rare 1986 Buick Grand National black 2-door called police to report that the car had been stolen while it was parked in front of the Providence Bar at Heckle and Jeraldo Sts. According to the victim, the robbery occurred somewhere between 4:30 – 8:04. The victim claimed that the Grand National, considered highly collectible, is worth in excess of $85,000.

Around Town


Bloomfield Public Library’s Book Club will meet on Monday, Feb. 6, from 6:45 to 7:50 p.m. in the conference room to discuss “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides.

Jeffrey Eugenides dazzling second novel tells the story of a Greek-American hermaphrodite. For further information or to request help in locating a copy of the book club selection, please call the Reference Desk at 973-566- 6200, ext 502. Admission is free.

The Bloomfield Public Library is pleased to present a seminar called “Basics of Banking” on Jan.18 at 2 p.m.

Participants will learn how to recognize the major types of insured financial institutions, basic banking terms, recognize differences between banks and check-cashing services, identify bank employees and their jobs, and the types of accounts and banking services. The program will be presented by Melissa Jaipal, the local branch manager at Sovereign Bank in Bloomfield. She has been with the bank for five months, and has over six years experience in banking.

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

The library will host a seminar called “Saving for College: Understanding Your Options” on Jan. 21 at 10 a.m., presented by Geraldine Callahan, a seasoned financial professional with nearly 10 years in financial services. For more information on this event or upcoming programs please call (973) 566-6200, ext. 502.

The library will host “Keeping it Safe: Identity Protection Education” on Jan. 27 at 2 p.m. This seminar will give you general information on laws that protect consumers. Further information can be found by using the resources listed in your Take-Home Guide, that will be provided. The program will be presented by Melissa Jaipal,

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

“Business Banking 101” will be presented at the library on Jan. 31 at 2 p.m., by Melissa Jaipal For more information on this event or upcoming programs, please call (973) 566-6200, ext. 502.

An educational presentation on Chinese culture will be presented at the library on Jan. 25 at 2 p.m. The program will focus on Chinese history and a brief overview of key dynasties, on classic stories and fascinating characters from Chinese literature, and on classical Chinese dance (Shen Yun) and Chinese musical instruments.

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

“Maximizing your Social Security Benefits” will be presented at the library on Jan. 25 at 6:30 p.m.

Confused about social security? Learn how to maximize your social security retirement benefits. The seminar will presented by Geraldine Callahan. For more information on this event or upcoming programs, please call (973) 566-6200, ext. 502.


Registration for the spring 2012 semester of the Kearny Adult School will be held on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 23, 24 and 25, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the main office of Kearny High School, 336 Devon St. Brochures indicating course offerings are currently in the mail. If you did not receive one, you may pick up a copy at The Observer, Kearny Library or the Kearny Board of Education office, 100 Davis Ave. For additional information, you may call the Kearny Adult School at 201-955-1392.

Kearny Branch Library, 759 Kearny Ave., will host a special art project honoring Martin Luther King Jr. for children ages 4 and up on Thursday, Jan. 26, at 4 p.m. with art teacher Mrs. Mills. The program will be free of charge. Please bring one or two shoeboxes to make “floats of respect.” All other supplies will be provided by the library. For further information, please call the Main Library at (201) 998-2666.

Check the library’s website www.kearnylibrary.org for more program information.

The Heaven Cent Thrift Shop, located at First Presbyterian Church, 663 Kearny Ave. Kearny, is open on Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There is a great selection of new and gently used clothing, as well as small household goods. Stop in for great bargains. Donations are always welcome. Use upper Laurel Avenue door.


The Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst has placed a decorated Valentine box for veterans on each floor of the Lyndhurst Public Library. Please support this project by placing a valentine card in one of the boxes for a veteran.

The Lyndhurst Health Department will begin a monthly health lecture series, in conjunction with Clara Maass Medical Center. The first lecture will be held on Friday, Jan. 20, starting at 10 a.m. A light breakfast will be served. January’s lecture topic will be First Aid for Seniors. Please call the Lyndhurst Health Department at 201-804-2500 to reserve a seat.

The Health Department’s Monday night meditation series resumes on Monday, Feb. 6, at 6 p.m. There is no fee or pre-registration required. The classes are lead by Lyndhurst resident Parbatie Singh, who was trained at the Oneness University in India and has become a teacher in meditation. This class includes techniques to help with stress and depression, to help one feel a sense of and relaxation.

The winter-spring session of chair yoga, held in conjunction with the Meadowlands Area YMCA, begins on Friday, Feb. 10, at 11:30 a.m. for Lyndhurst residents at the Health Department. There is no fee for this program. Please call 201-804-2500 to register. Registration forms are available at the Health Department.

The winter-spring session of yoga and Zumba will begin on Feb. 6 at the Health Department. There is a $45 fee for Lyndhurst residents and a $75 fee for non-Lyndhurst residents for a 15-week session consisting of one class per week. The following classes are being offered: Yoga on Mondays at 5 p.m., Zumba on Mondays at 7 p.m., Zumba on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. or 7 p.m., and Zumba Gold on Thursdays 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. Please call 201-804-2500 for more information. Registration forms are available at the Health Department.

On Tuesday, Jan. 31, starting at 2:30 p.m., a veteran’s ward party will be held at Chestnut Extended Care facility, in Passaic, American Legion Post 139, Lyndhurst, will provide games of chance that will be played with refreshments to follow for including bed-ridden veterans. An anonymous family is sponsoring the party. If you want more information on how to sponsor a party, please call John Deveney at 201-438-2255.

The New Jersey Federation of Women’s Clubs is sponsoring a beefsteak dinner fundraiser for Gilda’s Club on Saturday, March 24 at the Lyndhurst senior building. Cost is $45. (snow date will be Sunday, March 25, at 1 p.m.). Featured is comedian/ventriloquist John Pizzi. Anyone interested in purchasing tickets should contact District State Project Chairman Annette Bortone at 201-438-1852 or co-chair of the event Jackie Reformato at 201-935-3567. No one under 18 is permitted.

North Arlington

Senior Harmony Club of North Arlington has scheduled the following trips to the Taj Mahal on Tuesday, Feb. 7, and Tuesday, March 6. You do not have to be a member of the club to attend. For information or to make a reservation, call Florence at 201-991-3173.


Alex Lidell, young adult fantasy author, will share her knowledge of the commercial publishing process at the next meeting of Nutley Public Library’s Pen to Prose Writing Group on Jan. 23 at 6:30 p.m. Alex Lidell is a young adult author and Nutley resident. Her fantasy novel “Cadet of Tildor”, a finalist in Amazon’s 2010 ABNA competition, is upcoming from Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin). Learn more about Lidell at www.alexlidell.com. Lidell will remain with the group for the critique session.

BabyGarten for Infants and Toddlers, from birth to 22 months, and their caregivers, will be held at the Nutley Public Library on Monday, Feb. 6, 13 and 27 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The program includes books, nursery rhymes, playtime, and meet other babies from the Nutley area. Registration is required.

The library’s Monday Night Book Club will meet on Monday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m. to discuss “A Death in the Family” by James Agee. The group meets on the first Monday of each month at 7 p.m. Newcomers are welcome.

Buccaneer grapplers off to great start even as coach wrestles with lineup

Photo by Jim Hague/ The Belleville High School wrestling team is enjoying its best season in recent years, posting a 9-2 record thus far. From left are Rocco Genova, Justin Colon, head coach Joe Nisivoccia and Daniel Giangrande.


By Jim Hague

Joe Nisivoccia has been the head wrestling coach at Belleville High School for what seems like forever. Nisivoccia remembers the good times the program has enjoyed, but the recent memories haven’t been all too good, as the Buccaneers, as a whole, have fallen on some tough times over the last few years.

But this year’s version of the Bucs has enjoyed a return to glory.

The team has posted a 9-2 record thus far, easily its best mark since qualifying for the NJSIAA state sectionals in 2005.

However, Nisivoccia isn’t spoiled by the stellar mark thus far.

“Honestly, we really could be 11-0,” Nisivoccia said. “We lost two matches that we easily could have won. We lost to two good teams, but if we had our entire lineup those days, we could have won. I really thought we could have beaten both teams we lost to. If we did, then 11-0 would have sounded so much better.”

Nisivoccia isn’t about to complain.

“No, I’m happy and pleased with our start,” Nisivoccia said. “When you’re a coach and you start to do well, you’re always going to want more. That’s natural. If I show them that I want more, then maybe they’ll want more as well.”

What makes the Buccaneers’ brilliant start even more impressive is that the veteran coach has still not settled on a full-time starting lineup.

“Our lineup is still not fully set,” Nisivoccia said. “We’re playing around with a couple of weight classes.”

There’s no tinkering with the 106-pound slot in the lineup. That belongs to Rocco Genova, who is a returning district champion. Genova is having another solid season, despite the fact that he suffers from diabetes, so he has to watch his weight and his blood sugar more than any other wrestler.

Genova won the 106-pound championship at the recent Edison Tournament, took second at the prestigious Elizabeth Holiday tournament and was third in the highly competitive Middletown tourney with 17 teams.

“He’s having a great year,” Nisivoccia said.

At 120 pounds is senior Ricky Gencarelli, who was second in Edison and third in Elizabeth.

“He’s a much improved wrestler,” Nisivoccia said.

Senior Justin Colon is the Buccaneers’ 126-pounder. The talented Colon, who has been one of the premier competitors in Essex County over his career, has been alternating between 126 and 132 pounds.

“We’ve been bumping him up from time to time to give him better competition,” Nisivoccia said. “He’s been doing a great job.”

Justin, who is on pace to surpass his older brother, Filiberto, as the all-time win leader at Belleville, has an 18-1 record thus far. Colon won at Edison, took second at Middletown and became only the third Belleville wrestler (joining current assistant coach Anthony Conte and Frank Zarro) to ever win the Elizabeth tournament four consecutive years. Even Filiberto never turned the trick.

But there is something missing on Colon’s resume that his brother owns – a medal at the NJSIAA state tournament in Atlantic City. The elder Colon, wrestling at Eastern Michigan University, earned three state medals in his four trips to Atlantic City.

“Justin’s never won a medal,” Nisivoccia said. “He’s come close, but he just misses by one round. It’s a sticking point with him and I know he’s driven by it. I hope he’s standing on the podium this year. How high he stands remains up to him.”

Senior Sean Carey is the Buccaneers’ 138-pounder. Carey also won gold medals at the Edison and Elizabeth tournaments.

“I expect big things from Sean this year,” Nisivoccia said.

Anthony Avino is the team’s 145-pounder. The senior is another four-year varsity competitior.

“He suffered from a bad back last year and that hurt him,” Nisivoccia said. “He missed a lot of action last year, but he’s back this year and he’s been very good.”

Joe Anello holds the fort at 160 pounds. Anello is a twotime District 14 champion who earned the Most Outstanding Wrestler award at last year’s districts.

“He’s been certified to wrestle at 152 (pounds), so we’re leaving it up to him which weight he wants to wrestle at,” Nisivoccia said.

Anello was third in both Edison and Elizabeth and fourth at Middletown.

“Joe seems to peak right around February,” Nisivoccia said.

Junior Nick Fruncillo is the team’s 170-pounder. Fruncillo has been a solid, competitive wrestler throughout and has earned his place in the regular lineup.

Senior Daniel Giangrande is the Buccaneers’ 195-pounder.

“He’s having a great year,” Nisivoccia said of Giangrande, who won the Edison tourney and finished third at Middletown and Elizabeth. “He’s a pinner and we need that.”

Giangrande, Anello and Colon serve as the team’s captains.

The heavyweight is junior Nate James, who keyed a big win against Verona last week.

“He’s shown a lot of promise and he’s coming around,” Nisivoccia said.

One of the team’s most versatile wrestlers is sophomore David Colon, who is not related at all to the other Colon brothers.

“A lot of people think they’re related, but they’re not,” Nisivoccia said. “He’s seeing action at both 126 and 132 pounds.”

The rest of the weight classes are still up for grabs, which makes the Buccaneers’ practice room a very competitive place to be. “We’re still working on the rest of the lineup,” Nisivoccia said. “We’re hoping to get invited to participate in the state sectionals. That’s our goal right now.”

With the record where it is, it’s a very tangible goal – and one that had not been within reach for the last seven years.

“I think we’ll do fine in the county tournament,” Nisivoccia said. “We would like to place among the top three and bring home a trophy. If that happens, we’ll be very happy. We’d also like to win the District (14) title. If that happens, then the year is a full success. We’re just trying to put together a nice team and bring a good number of wrestlers to the regions.”

Nisivoccia credits a lot of the team’s success to assistant coaches Conte and Corey Woodring.

“We’re doing fine right now, but we have to keep it up,” Nisivoccia said.

If that’s the case, then it’s a full return to glory for Belleville’s wrestling program.

Maroon Raiders shoot for another state playoff berth

Photo by Jim Hague/ The Nutley boys’ basketball team is playing with a lot more confidence than in years past, as reflected by a 6-6 record. From left are seniors John Llano, Josh Thomson, head coach Bob Harbison, Nick Gariano and C.J. Schroeder.


By Jim Hague

The Nutley High School boys’ basketball program had suffered through a decadelong drought of being left out of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group III playoffs before qualifying a year ago.

Now, the Maroon Raiders want to make a return trip to the state playoffs.

“We want to get into the state tournament,” said veteran Nutley head coach Bob Harbison, who also is the head baseball coach at the school as well. “But we also want to challenge for the conference title (the Super Essex Conference- Independent Division). We’re right there in the mix with Verona, Arts (of Newark) and West Essex.”

Imagine that, the Maroon Raiders actually contending for a championship in boys’ basketball. It’s a novel approach.

The Maroon Raiders are putting a lot of faith in senior point guard Nick Gariano. The 5-foot-9 Gariano is averaging better than 10 points per ganme.

“We use him in any tough situation,” Harbison said. “He’s been a three-year starter for us at point guard. His offense has picked up this season and he’s become a very good shooter.”

The shooting guard is senior Josh Thomson. The 5-foot-8 Thomson is the team’s best defensive player.

“He defends the opponent’s best guard,” Harbison said. “He’s a very tough kid and he’s very coachable.”

The Maroon Raiders’ small forward is 6-foot junior Ryan Fischer, who has developed into a fine offensive threat.

“He’s a great shooter, especially from long range,” Harbison said. “He has good range and he’s not afraid to take the big shot. He draws a lot of attention from the opposition.”

Fischer is also averaging close to 10 points per contest.

The starting power forward is 6-foot-4 senior C.J. Schroeder.

“He is a good rebounder and a good physical presence down low,” Harbison said. “He’s also a very good student in the classroom.”

The center is 6-foot-1 junior Joe Feraco.

“He shoots well and we use him more as a point center, because he can handle the ball so well,” Harbison said. “We run the offense through him. He has a good mid-range shot, but more importantly, he’s an excellent free throw shooter.”

Feraco made 10-of-12 free throws in a recent victory.

The first player off the Maroon Raider bench is 6-foot-2 junior Jon Russo.

“He’s a very athletic player and he’s offensive minded, which you need coming off the bench,” Harbison said.

Junior Scott Gonzalez is another valuable reserve player. The 5-foot-9 Gonzalez is a good shooter and capable ball handler.

Junior Charlie Bingham is the team’s back-up point guard. The 5-foot-7 Bingham is “a good defender who handles the ball well,” according to Harbison.

Senior John Llano is a 6-foot-2 forward who serves both power positions.

“He’s a good rebounder who has been getting a little more time recently,” Harbison said.

The Maroon Raiders are 6-6, which puts them firmly in the middle of the North 2, Group III playoff hunt. After they got a little taste of the state tournament a year ago, the Maroon Raiders want more.

“We’ve been a little too inconsistent, but we are right there,” Harbison said. “It’s fun to be able to look into the post-season and have hopes of being there. It makes this more interesting, having games at this point of the season have more of an importance. I don’t need to get them up for every game. They should be up, because they know the games are important.”

It also makes practice time a little easier as well.

“They’re definitely much more attentive, knowing that they have something to play for,” Harbison said. “They take things much more seriously.”

There’s another positive sidelight to the Maroon Raiders. If you noticed, the roster is packed with juniors, so a majority of this team will be back next season.

“We’ve had points in games where we’ve had four juniors on the floor in crunch time,” Harbison said. “They’re not getting garbage time. They’re getting quality minutes, serious minutes. That bodes well for the future.”

While Harbison is pleased with his team’s performance thus far, he’s not totally content.

“We should do a better job of winning the games we’re supposed to win,” Harbison said. “We have to play like every game is winnable.”

Right now, it looks like every Maroon Raider game is winnable – and losable for that matter. But if the Maroon Raiders can manage to win more than they lose, they can actually contend for an SEC crown and make a return trip to the state playoffs, an idea that would have been totally unimaginable just two years ago.

QP’s Maurer comes through in the clutch

Photo by Jim Hague/ Queen of Peace senior forward Derrick Maurer.

By Jim Hague

The Queen of Peace boys’ basketball team had lost Jim McLane, one of the program’s top scorers in history, to graduation and new head coach Tom McGuire was looking for someone to step up and try to fill McLane’s shoes.

That player was senior Derrick Maurer.

“We expected Derrick completely to step it up,” McGuire said. “He’s been a varsity player for three years and he’s played some big games for us.”

But in the early going, Maurer wasn’t completely comfortable with the increased role.

“He had been struggling a little,” McGuire said. “With Jimmy moving on (playing at William Paterson University), we’ve been trying to find an identity as a team. We also had to find an on-the-court leader.”

Maurer felt the pressure of trying to be the team’s new leader.

“With the loss of Jimmy, I felt I had to step it up big time,” Maurer said. “But I had to change my style of playing and that wasn’t easy. I had to help out down low, help to rebound and play defense more, and I had a tough time changing. I had to focus on defense and rebounding. With the change of coaching, it took me a little while to get used to it. In the beginning, it wasn’t what I was hoping for.”

Last week, the Golden Griffins traveled to Weehawken for a big NJIC Meadowlands Division clash. A loss would have been devastating to the Golden Griffins.

“We needed that game,” McGuire said. “It was huge. I told them that we couldn’t afford another loss. It was such a huge game.”

Maurer realized the importance of the game.

“We knew that they were a tough team, one of the better teams we’ve faced,” Maurer said. “In the few practices before Weehawken, I started to fit into my position better and felt better about myself.”

When the Golden Griffins arrived in Weehawken, they noticed a major difference.

“The court was smaller,” Maurer said. “I never had been in that gym before. It was loud and you couldn’t shoot from the corners. I like shooting from there, so I was kind of nervous.”

However, Maurer started to feel his shot coming back and that was a good sign.

“Coach McGuire just told me to keep shooting,” Maurer said.

“It was all about shot selection,” McGuire said. “At times this season, Derrick’s shot selection was questionable. But his shot selection has been better.”

With the game hanging in the balance and the Golden Griffins seemingly headed for a tough loss, Maurer stepped up and became the leader that McGuire hoped he would become.

With less than two minutes left, Maurer canned a long 3-pointer that sliced a sixpoint deficit in half.

When the Golden Griffins got the ball back again with under a minute left, McGuire called time out and called for a play. It involved Maurer.

“If everything worked out well, we were running a triple screen for Derrick,” McGuire said.

“I guess because I made the three a minute before, he had faith in me,” Maurer said. “But every player wants that chance. As soon as he called the play, I knew I would make the shot.”

McGuire said he was more than a simple make.

“He nailed it,” McGuire said.

Now, with the game tied at 56-56 and the clock ticking away, it was time to get back on defense and try to play for overtime. However, Maurer had other things in mind.

“As I was getting back on defense, I had to make a play,” Maurer said.

Maurer made a steal at midcourt, was fouled and made the two free throws that gave the Golden Griffins a thrilling 58-56 victory. Maurer ended the game with 19 points, but scored eight of those in the final two minutes.

For his efforts, Maurer has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.

Maurer has enjoyed big games this season against Lyndhurst and Great Falls Academy, scoring 22 points in each of those contests. But none was bigger than the win at Weehawken, a win that kept the Golden Griffins’ NJSIAA Non-Public A state playoff hopes alive.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Maurer said.

Maurer is one of the most diversified athletes in the area. He’s a standout soccer player and hopes to play soccer at Rowan University in the fall. Maurer is also a member of the QP baseball team.

But Maurer is also a standout bowler who comes from a family of fine bowlers. His older sister Shannon is perhaps the best girls’ bowler in QP history. Maurer owns a 205 bowling average and would love to be able to bowl and play basketball at the same time.

“I tried to do both last year, but it was too tough to do,” Maurer said. “It’s a little disappointing to me, because I love bowling so much. A few people tell me that I should be bowling instead of playing basketball, but that can’t happen.”

Maurer’s prowess on the soccer field has given him a leg up on other basketball players.

“I’m definitely in perfect shape because of all the running I did in soccer,” Maurer said. “I came into the basketball season in great shape and that’s definitely a factor. In soccer, I was basically running non-stop, so that’s helped me with basketball practices and games.”

“There’s definitely a positive carryover,” McGuire said. “He’s such in great shape that we don’t have to worry about him ever getting tired. He never looks like he’s tired.”

McGuire is also happy to know that he has a go-to player in Maurer.

“It’s great,” McGuire said. “We run that play to get a basket and it’s nice to know that we can run it and Derrick can make the big shot for us. That’s what I was hoping for. Maybe he needed just a little bit of a kick start. I just hope he continues.”

“It’s my senior year,” Maurer said. “I might as well enjoy it.”

It’s a lot more enjoyable now.

Obesity is nationwide threat to health

There are 1 billion overweight individuals worldwide who add to society’s modern epidemic: obesity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has tracked the cumulative weight gain of our society by state. Results can be viewed at: www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/ trends.html.

The findings point to the fact that nearly three out of four Americans are presently overweight and this obesity epidemic has become so severe that the CDC now refers to our society as “obesogenic” – or one that promotes increased food intake, nonhealthy foods, and physical inactivity.

Things are so bad that our government has created a task force to combat obesity called “The Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity” (DNPAO). Despite such concerns, public schools are dropping physical education classes, community recreational centers are closing, and fast-food chains are popping up at an alarming rate. The situation is so bad that doctors and scientists alike point their finger at obesity as the root cause of our national healthcare crisis.

Consider: In a 2007 study conducted by The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services it was reported that:

• 80% of type II diabetes is related to obesity.

• 70% of cardiovascular disease is related to obesity.

• 42% of breast and colon cancer cases are diagnosed among obese individuals.

• 26% of obese people have high blood pressure.

These figures clearly show that obesity is far too common in our society. The problem has become so worrisome that President Obama addressed the issue in a nationally televised speech. The moral is simply this: We as a people must stand up against obesity by learning to adopt healthy eating habits. Combined with exercise, such a change will place us firmly on the path to longevity.

Please submit questions to: Dr. Diego Ruiz, 582 Franklin Ave., Nutley, N.J. 07110 973-661-4601 or Dr.Ruiz@OptionsRehab. com


Dr. Diego Ruiz

A graduate of Life University’s School of Chiropractic, Dr. Ruiz is the founder and rehabilitation director of Options Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Center. An active member of the local community, Dr. Ruiz is fluent in Spanish, and, with his wife Rosalie, founded AUTISM ANGELS, which is a charity that supports economically challenged parents of children affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder. He is certified in Manipulation Under Anesthesia, Diagnostic Nerve Conduction Testing, and Active Release Technique. Dr. Ruiz is also a contributing health columnist for various publications.

Resident, local businessman implicated in drug sales

By Ron Leir

NUTLEY – A two-year investigation by the Nutley Police Dept. concluded Jan. 12 with the arrest of a resident and a local businessman who’ve been implicated in a drug dealing scheme.

On the night of Jan. 12 police arrested Thomas Giardina, 55, of Nutley, and John Pino, 38, who lives in Union and runs a business in Nutley, on various drug-related charges.

Armed with a search warrant, Nutley Police – accompanied by Essex County Sheriff’s Officers and a K-9 unit – searched Giardina’s Essex St. home and found “several thousand dollars worth” of drugs, which police seized.

Police also impounded a 2000 Pontiac that they said Giardina was using.

On the basis of a lengthy investigation, police said they believed that Giardina, who works as a painter, was dealing prescription narcotics and cocaine from his Nutley home. “We’ve had him in our crosshairs for some time,” one detective said.

Giardina was charged with five counts of drug distribution, two counts of drug possession and three counts of possession of drug paraphernalia for distribution and was ordered held at the Essex County Jail, Newark, in lieu of $175,000 bail.

Through their investigation, police said they determined that Pino was an accomplice in the illicit drug enterprise. Police said Pino’s business is legitimate but declined to identify it.

Police said a search of Pino’s Nutley business on Franklin Ave. turned up additional drugs – cocaine and a series of prescription medications – which police confiscated.

Pino was charged with two counts of drug possession, drug possession with intent to distribute, drug possession with intent to distribute within 500 feet of a school, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a prohibited weapon. He was released pending a court hearing.

Nutley Police Director Alphonse Petracco said: “Drugs will not be tolerated in this town any longer.” He joined Police Chief John Holland in commending the Detective Bureau for its investigative work.

In an apparently unrelated drug case, on Jan. 9 at 9:00 p.m., police arrested Massimo Luele, 34, at his River Road home in Nutley on charges of possession of drugs near a school, possession with intent to distribute, possession of hypodermic needles and possession of drugs. He’s being held at Essex County Jail, Newark, on $125,000 bail with no 10% cash option.

Petracco reiterated that these arrests are meant to let suspected drug offenders “know we intend to go after them if they bring, sell or use drugs in our town.”

In other criminal activities logged by Nutley Police during the past week:

Jan. 12

At 8:13 p.m., a Cedar St. resident reported that someone, who identified themselves as a Microsoft representative, called to clean the resident’s computer. The resident gave the caller her credit card information, only to discover that the call was fraudulent. She told police she canceled her card.

At 4:16 p.m., a PSE&G worker reported a Caterpillar Track Loader had been stolen from a work site on Cook Road. Police are investigating.

At 11:53 a.m. the manager of a local confectionary store on Franklin Ave. reported that someone had made a transaction using a $100 bill that turned out to be counterfeit. Police are checking into the situation.

Jan. 11

At 12:45 p.m., police pulled over the driver of a 1998 Nissan along Rt. 21 who was wanted by Bergen County authorities. Alix Elie, 52, of Belleville, was held at headquarters for pickup by Bergen County Police. It couldn’t be learned why Elie was being sought.

At 9:28 a.m., police stopped another motorist on Rt. 21 wanted by Tinton Falls authorities on outstanding warrants. Rui Lopes, 21, of New Rochelle, N.Y., was released after posting $300 bail.

Jan. 10

At 8:12 p.m., a Friedland Road resident reported that the side view mirror on their 2008 Nissan Wagon was gone. The resident was unsure whether it had been knocked off by a passing vehicle or removed.

At 12:21 a.m., police went to a parking lot on Franklin Ave. near Harrison St. to check on a report of a fight. They learned that two men had been fighting and one had bitten the other. Police advised them of their right to sign complaints and let them go.

Jan. 9

At 6:47 p.m., two Nutley teenage girls were reported missing after they failed to show up for school earlier that day. Investigation disclosed that one of the teens had befriended a boy from Morris County online and took a bus to meet him. Police eventually located the girls – unharmed – in Totowa. Police said the boy allegedly hid the girls in his garage. One of the girl was released to the custody of her parents, who’d gone to Totowa to search for their daughter and her friend. Nutley detectives took the other girls home. Authorities are exploring whether to bring charges against the boy, police said.

At 10:02 a.m., a Newark Ave. resident told police a hard luck story. The resident had paid a contractor $5,000 to do a job nearly six months ago but the job has remained undone and no sign of the contractor. Police advised the resident how to sign the appropriate complaints.

At 10:00 a.m., an employee of a Washington Ave. business told police someone had stolen a luggage bag containing several manuscripts from near his work locker. Police are investigating.

Jan. 8

At 8:06 p.m., a Howe St. resident notified police about a possible scam. The resident said someone called from Texas asking for personal identifying information over the phone so that the resident could claim $2.5 million in winnings. Police said they were unable to make contact with the caller.

At 6:09 p.m., police drove to a Franklin Ave. residence after someone called about water pouring from the east side of the building. Police and firefighters managed to get inside and shut off the water. Township code offi cials are following up.

Jan. 7

At 4:43 p.m., a Swathmore Drive resident called to report someone had scrawled drawings on her garage door. Police are investigating.

At 2:24 p.m., Raymond Ave. parents reported their 12-yearold son missing when he reportedly slept out without notifying them. Detectives managed to learn where the boy was through a cell phone location and found him safe with friends on Hawthorne Ave.

At 11:12 a.m., a Ridge Rd. resident called police to report the disappearance of an illuminated Christmas tree from the front of the house.

Jan. 6

At 10:12 p.m., a tenant’s complaint of no heat brought police to a Centre St. apartment building to investigate. Police were told there were small children living in a heatless apartment. Police advised the landlord and referred the complaint to township code offi cials.

At 9:04 p.m. police repeatedly warned a youth not to recklessly skateboard along Centre St. before notifying the youth’s parents.

At 8:03 p.m., an attendant at a Centre St. gas station told police that a driver in a red pickup had sped away after getting gas and not paying. Police are investigating. At 3:43 p.m., a resident complained to police that several items were missing from their car after it was detailed at a local car wash. Police are investigating.

At 3:29 p.m., police went to a Colonial Terrace location to check on the report of a fi ght. Reports indicate that two brothers were quarreling and that one of them jumped on the hood of the other’s vehicle as it was moving and that he fell off, causing a minor injury.

At 12:49 p.m., police met with administrators at Nutley High School after it was determined that one of the students was stealing items from various lockers. Charges are pending. At 3:15 a.m., police went to a Centre St. eatery on a report of an unruly patron. Police persuaded the customer to leave without further trouble.