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State: Distracted-driving incidents total 1.4 million

By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent The statistics are mind-boggling. From 2004 to 2013, 1.4 million motor vehicle accidents in New Jersey were linked to distracted driving. Repeat: 1.4 million. In New Jersey alone. From 2003 to 2012, more than 1,600 people were killed […]


Moving day is coming

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – Even Steven Shalom, who has run Discount City in Kearny since 1992, concedes that sprucing up the Passaic Ave. mall with BJ’s Wholesale Club as a new anchor store, will be “a good […]


Going out in style with Blue Ribbon

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent HARRISON – You could say Ron Shields’ career as a Harrison educator was preordained, given that both his parents taught at Harrison High School. His dad, Fred Shields, a 1936 soccer Olympian, was a physical […]


For the sake of the Passaic

By Karen  Zautyk Observer Correspondent KEARNY– Plastic lawn chairs, propane tanks, wrought iron railings, pipes, dead shrubbery, pieces of street signs, and innumerable plastic shopping bags and plastic bottles — but no groundhogs. The groundhogs who burrow along the banks […]


Nothing stops her

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent Harrison’s Blanca Alvarez was sick with the flu the morning of the big race. “But I decided to run anyway,” she said. Still, Alvarez had something to brag about: Her time of 1:08:44.96 was good […]


Unsung heroes in our midst

  By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent HARRISON – The Harrison American Legion Post 282 salutes Joseph Moscinski as 2013 Firefighter of the Year and Corey Karas as Police Officer of the Year on April 26 at 4 p.m. at the […]


Nutley robbery suspect sought

Nutley Police have released this sketch of the suspect in a recent robbery at the Regency Apartments on River Road in that township. Police said the female victim was accosted shortly after 10:30 p.m. July 7 as she exited her car in the parking lot.  She said the robber,  5’8” to 5’ 9”  and of average build,  forcibly took her handbag and fled south on River Road. Anyone with information is asked to call the Nutley PD at (973) 284-4940.

Drugs & driving don’t mix

By Karen Zautyk

Routine motor vehicle checks that led to the discovery of narcotics in the vehicles were among the incidents reported by the Nutley police last week.
Two of the stops occurred on July 12, the first at 1:13 a.m. at Kingsland and Bloomfield Ave. when, during a check of a car operated by 21-year-old Ashley Prete of South Plainfield, police reportedly found a bottle of adderall, 15 vials of ketamine, ecstasy, Xanax and suspected steroids.
Both Prete and her passenger, Daniele Damato, 25, of Saddle Brook were charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance and possession with intent to distribute within 500 feet of a public park.
At 6:40 p.m., a hit by PAGIS, the onboard computer system that checks license plates, led police to stop an auto driven by Deann Harrity, 20, of Montclair, who was reportedly wanted on multiple warrants totaling $1,500. Police said they also found a burnt marijuana cigarette in the console and several Percocet and Vicodin pills. Harrity was charged with possession of marijuana and paraphernalia; her passenger, Beatrice Lizaso, 21, of North Arlington, was charged with three counts of possession of a dangerous substance.
On July 15, at 12:11 a.m., an officer patrolling the side streets checked on a parked motor vehicle on Howe Ave. occupied by three individuals, one of whom appeared to be concealing something. Passenger Timothy Owens, 20, of Nutley was charged with possession of marijuana, hypodermic needles, a CDS and drug paraphernalia. The other two occupants have not been charged.
Other incidents on the Nutley PD blotter for the week ending July 15 included, but were not limited to, the following reports.

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

‘History Repeats Itself’

By Lisa Pezzolla

My wide variety of music wouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone if you were around my house growing up. Music was a big part of memories in our childhood and fun for us as mom would play her oldies, rock to merengue, my sister Tina, Mom and I would laugh and carry on as we danced, and my sister would sing into her spoon, which was suppose to be her microphone. Years later, I had spent a weekend at Villa Roma, which was in upstate New York, and to my surprise Jay and the Americans performed. As a child I loved when Jay Traynor would sing “Cara Mia” he would hit notes that were amazing. Music is like a journal in your mind, it brings you back to special moments that we once shared in our past, special moments that strike a cord in your soul. This week’s feature story is on Jay and the Americans that played in Lyndhurst last week. week. Read the story on the next page. It is wonderful that music evolves back around and families can share their stories and go back in time and relive. Next time you listen to your favorite song from the past, close your eyes and reminisce. It will put a smile on your face.

Advice about (and for) carjackers

In light of the report of two “bump and run” carjackings in Kearny within 24 hours [see p. 1 story), I decided to do a little research on the crime. Like, what do you do if you get “bumped” yourself?
One officer we spoke to suggested that, rather than getting out of your vehicle,  you drive slowly to a gas station or some other well-lit place where there are plenty of people.
And call 911.
Surfing the web, we found an abundance of info on the Pittsburgh Police Department site, which notes: “Most carjackings happen in as little as 15 seconds, when the thief (generally armed) suddenly appears and demands that the driver surrender the car.”
Fifteen seconds!
It also notes: “The FBI reports that the primary motives for carjacking are to secure transportation . . . to commit another crime, such as drug trafficking.”  Which likely explains why the two Kearny vehicles were so quickly abandoned: The culprits may have  used them for  some other felony and then dumped them.
The Pittsburgh cops warn that carjackers “attack motorists at traffic lights  [and stop signs], gas stations, parking lots, fast food drive-thrus and in other areas where they are stopped or exiting their vehicles.”
And, as happened in Kearny: “. . . thieves in one car pull up behind an unsuspecting driver and bump the driver’s car. When the driver gets out to inspect the damage, the thieves forcibly take control of the car.”
The Pa. police advise always locking your car doors and suggest driving in the center lane on highways to reduce  chances of becoming a bump-and-run victim. But I wonder: In the dead of night, when traffic is light, would that really matter?
In any case, we need to note that the Internet offers advice not merely to potential victims. We also found: What to Do If You Are Caught Carjacking. This is, of course, from the website of a lawyer.
He begins a July 4 blog post by noting that “some people have not had such a good weekend so far” and details a gunpoint carjacking/abduction in his neck of the woods. He then offers: “If you have ever been charged with robbery, burglary, or theft (especially carjacking), you need a criminal defense lawyer who’s going to be aggressive when fighting for your legal rights. [Yada, yada, yada.] Have a fun and safe holiday.”
No, you can’t make this stuff up.
— Karen Zautyk

P.S.  At the bottom of the blog is a comment  from a woman who calls the lawyer’s post “opportunistic and despicable” and who asks, “Why don’t you just say, ‘Go ahead and rob and terrorize victims to your heart’s content. I’m here to defend you’?”
Her name is Karen.
It wasn’t me. Although …

Age has no limits as Jay and the Americans rock Lyndhurst

Photo by Anthony J. Machcinski/Jay & the Americans on stage in Lyndhurst last week.

By Anthony J. Machcinski
Despite 49 years since their first hit song, Jay and the Americans still have the ability to rock any large crowd.
Playing a mixture of their hits and covers of songs from artists that inspired them, such as Roy Orbison, Jay and the Americans played last week at Town Hall Park in Lyndhurst as part of the 22nd annual “Music Under the Stars.”
Jay and the Americans started after founding members Sandy Deanne and Kenny Vance decided to end their previous group called the Harborites. The first Jay, Jay Traynor, was found by Harborites manager Jim Gribble.
One of the most significant moments with Jay and the Americans for Deanne, a Queens native, came when the band was able to play one of the biggest stages in America, Madison Square Garden.
“We’re East Coast guys,” Deanne said proudly. “When we played Madison Square Garden, it was a special thrill because all the huge events took place there.”
While much has changed since the group was one of the top bands of the 1960s, Deanne and the band like to return to the area.

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

Around town

Belleville Elks will be sponsor a blood drive on Wednesday, July 27, at 254 Washington Ave., from 5 to 9 p.m. Appointment is not necessary. The drive is open to citizens of Belleville and surrounding communities. Donors must be at least 17-years-old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in general good health. There is no upper age limit for donors meeting the health requirements. All blood donors will be given mini-physicals. Donors must bring along a signed form of identification. People with a fever or sore throat should wait until they are feeling better before donating and there is a 24-hour deferral for tooth cleanings and fillings. For those who have recently traveled outside the United States, please call the Blood Center at 973-676-4700, ext. 132 for eligibility criteria.
The Weight Loss Institute of New Jersey will offer a free informational session, “Weight Loss Surgery Options,” on Wednesday, July 20, at 6 p.m. in the Belleville Founders Room at Clara Maass Medical Center, 1 Clara Maass Drive.
The program will focus on who is a candidate for weight-loss surgery, what to expect before, during and after surgery, as well as the risks, benefits and alternatives. A support group for post-bariatric surgery patients will follow the seminar.
For more information, call Katie Szymona at 973-450-2393, or e-mail  kszymona@sbhcs.com. Walk-ins are welcome at the program.

Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes (“If You Don’t Know Me By Now”) will be featured in a free concert Thursday, July 21, at 7:30 p.m. in Brookdale Park, Bloomfield, as part of the Essex County SummerMusic Concert Series. For more information, please call the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs at 973‑239-2485.
Bloomfield Public Library will host “Gold From Your Garden,” an interactive discussion about gardening and recipes on Aug. 2 at 10 a.m. Bring your recipes and experiences and come with lots of ideas! For more information on this event or upcoming programs, please call (973) 566-6200, ext. 502.

Heaven Cent Thrift Shop at First Presbyterian Church, 663 Kearny Ave., announces its end of summer clothing 50% off sale beginning Wednesday, July 20. The shop is open on Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and features good quality clothing for every member of your family. Donations of new or gently used clothing and small household items are welcome and very much appreciated. Entrance is on Laurel Ave.
The Junior Woman’s Club of Arlington is hosting a garage sale fundraiser on Saturday, July 23, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., at 57 Hillcrest Road in Kearny.  There will be something for everyone, with electronics, CDs, DVDs, furniture, appliances, baby items, clothing for adults and children, as well as lots of toys and books.  All proceeds of the sale will go to local charities including St. Stephen’s Food Pantry and the Valerie Fund.
West Hudson Christian Center, 557 Kearny Ave., will host a free Vacation Bible School (Pandamania) for ages 3 to 12 from July 24 to 27, from 7 to 9 p.m. Kids will explore a bamboo forest full of fun-loving pandas. Special programs will include Bible stories, songs, crafts and snacks. Moms, dads and grandparents are welcome to relax in the center’s cafe setting, hear about parenting topics and mingle with others while the kids are having fun. Call 201-997-7762 or visit www.groupvbspro.com/vbs/ez/whcc.

Two free senior citizens programs are scheduled at the Meadowlands Environment Center in DeKorte Park, Lyndhurst. On Thursday, July 21, at 7 p.m., nurse practitioner and health educator Maylene Laguna will present “Your Heart, Your Health and Yoga,” with advice about staying healthy and how yoga can play a role in longevity.
“Art of the Masters: Michelangelo and the Art of Clay” will be offered Tuesday, July 26, at 3 p.m. It will showcase the life and work of Michelangelo, and participants will be able to create their own clay busts.
Seating is limited, and registration is required for each program. Call 201-460-8300, or to register online go to www.njmeadowlands.gov/ec,  click on “Community Programs” and select “register for a program.”
The Lyndhurst High School Class of 1971 is planning a 40th class reunion Saturday, Oct. 15, at Michael’s Riverside, 525 Riverside Ave., Lyndhurst. All graduates and guests of the Class of  ’71 are invited to attend. For more details, contact the reunion committee at jhjazz@aol.com or check the class Facebook wall. If anyone knows of a class member’s location/email address, they are asked to forward it to the above email address.

North Arlington
North Arlington Seniors Inc.  (Tuesday Club) have scheduled the following trips to Atlantic City: Sept. 1, Oct. 6, Nov. 3 and Dec. 8. A trip to Renault Winery and a casino is scheduled for Aug. 4. For information or reservations, call Rose 201-991-2423 or Marie 201-998-6510. All are welcome. The trips are open to non-members.

The Dalton Gang, a 10-piece band that first performed together in 1979 and mixes jazz with a blend of funk and Latin music, will perform Tuesday, July 26, at  7 p.m. at Yanticaw Park in Nutley as part of the Essex County free SummerMusic Concert Series.    For more information, call the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs at 973‑239-2485. TDD # 711.
The Third Annual Nutley Art Society Group Show is on view at the Nutley Free Public Library through July 29.  The show celebrates the talent of a group of local artists that meets every Monday afternoon at the Parks and Recreation Building on Park Ave. Society members are free to pursue their own artistic styles amongst peers regardless of skill level.  New members are invited to drop by Mondays between 12:30 and 4 p.m.
This exhibition presents paintings and photography by nine of its members:  Jean D’Emidio, Susan Farr, Richard Griese, Anton Ierubino, Ruth Konopka, Margot Parker, Theresa Ruffo, Susan Vogel and Dianne Wilson.
Library hours:  Mon., Tues., Thurs. 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. /  Wed., Fri., Sat. 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
BabyGarten for children birth to 22 months will be held on Monday, Aug. 1 and 8, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at library. Babies and their caregivers will enjoy great books, nursery rhymes, playtime and meet other babies from the Nutley area. Registration is required.
Pajama Story Time for children of all ages will be held on Monday, Aug. 1 and 8, at 7 p.m. at the library. Registration is not required.
Library patrons are invited to play bridge at the library on the following Tuesdays, Aug. 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 at 1 p.m.
The library’s Tuesday Evening Knitting Club will meet on Aug. 2 from 7 to 8:45 p.m. Come share your love of knitting and crocheting with both beginning and experienced knitters.  Please bring your own supplies. This group meets every the first Tuesday of every month.
Hooked on Books, a book club for fifth and sixth graders, will meet on Tuesdays, Aug. 2 and 16, from 7 to 8 p.m. at the library. At each meeting, the group will discuss a book, have a snack and play a game. Sign up at the children’s desk or register online through the library’s website. The book is to be decided.
The library’s Wednesday Afternoon Knitting Club will meet weekly in August from 1 to 3 p.m. Come share your love of knitting and crocheting with both beginning and experienced knitters. Meet fellow knitters, brush-up on your skills, and learn some new techniques. Please bring your own supplies.

Nutley’s Haczyk living a dream at Devils’ rookie camp

Photo by Jim Hague/Nutley’s Bryan Haczyk skates at the AmeriHealth Pavilion last week as part of the New Jersey Devils’ rookie camp. Haczyk has already signed a minor-league contract with the club.

By Jim Hague

Coming from a family that featured two products of the famed St. Anthony High School basketball program, namely his father, Lenny and uncle Ziggy, Bryan Haczyk seemed destined to become a basketball player as well.
Not quite.
“I never played basketball at all,” said Haczyk, who has lived most of his life in Nutley and still resides there. “My father and uncle are tall, but I wasn’t blessed with their size. I knew my father was a pretty good player (going from St. Anthony to the now-defunct Upsala College), but I never played basketball. My brothers and I played some baseball, but I gravitated towards hockey.”
Bryan Haczyk was introduced to the sport of hockey when he was still a toddler living in his father and mother’s native Jersey City.
“I saw kids playing in Pershing Field and wanted to do the same,” Haczyk said. “So my mother dressed me up and got me on the ice at Pershing Field. I was about 5 years old.”
Haczyk played for the Jersey City Capitals program at Pershing Field and also played for the Bayonne Rangers at an early age. It quickly led to other chances in travel hockey.

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

Hall of Fame coach Hurley visits NA hoop camp

Photo by Jim Hague/Hall of Fame basketball coach Bob Hurley relayed some stories to youngsters about his own son, Bobby, and others that he has coached over his brilliant career.

By Jim Hague

It’s not every day when North Arlington gets a Hall of Famer to stop by and pay a visit.
But that’s what happened last Friday, when legendary St. Anthony High School basketball coach Bob Hurley, a 2010 inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, was the final guest speaker at the first North Arlington Recreation Basketball Camp.
The week-long camp, which featured about 50 boys ages 9 through 14, was held at North Arlington High School and was conducted by Ben Gamble, who is Hurley’s top assistant coach at the Jersey City-based St. Anthony, which won the national championship last season, the school’s fourth national crown.

Friday, he had the group of young hopeful basketball players captivated.
“In here today, we could have an outstanding basketball player,” Hurley told the youngsters. “He might not have grown yet. The skills may not have developed fully. But you have to really believe in yourself. And when people are critical of you, you either put it in the back of your head or you go out and prove them wrong. Don’t let a day go by when you don’t try to reach your dream.”

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

Lyndhurst Little League repeats as 12-year-old All-Star District 5 champs

Photo by Jim Hague/The Lyndhurst Little League 12-year-old All-Stars captured the District 5 championship for a second straight year. Front row, from left, are Joseph Papamarkos, A.J. Kawalek, Vincent Dorio, Nic DiTommaso, Anthony LiSanti, Anthony Caporrino and Paul Marranzino. Back row, from left, are assistant coach Anthony Caporrino Sr., Raymond Conley, Jose Rivera, Matt DeMarco, Michael Carrino, Evan Kelly, assistant coach Mike DiTommaso and manager Rob DeMarco.

By Jim Hague

Maybe it’s becoming a ritual of summer, a habit of sorts. But Lyndhurst’s Little League won another District 5 12-year-old All-Star championship Friday night, the second straight for the league and the third District 5 crown in the last six years.
Lyndhurst defeated Kearny, which made a solid return to local Little League All-Star action this year, in the title game Friday night.
Part of the reason why Lyndhurst was able to repeat as district champions is that six of the current players were on the team last year.
“It was a tremendous help,” said team manager Rob DeMarco. “They understand the teamwork it takes to be a champion and to complete the task at hand. A lot of them had been there before.”
Because of the team’s experience, DeMarco had a sense that Lyndhurst had a solid chance to repeat.

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

The Swiss Army knife of financial planning

By Randy Neumann

According to Wikipedia, the term “Swiss Army knife” is “sometimes used metaphorically to describe usefulness, such as a software tool that is a collection of special-purpose tools.”  The online encyclopedia says the name “Swiss Army knife” was coined by U.S. soldiers because they had trouble pronouncing its original name, “Offiziermesser.”  The knife is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and in Munich’s state Museum of Applied Art for its design.
Well, in personal financial planning, a charitable remainder trust (CRT) can be compared to the Swiss Army knife.  The Swiss Army knife can contain knife blades, tweezers, toothpicks, a corkscrew, etc.  And talk about being up to date, a year ago, Victorinox, the manufacturer of the “official” Swiss Army knife, came out with a cyber version that includes a laser pointer, a 32 GB detachable fingerprint USB flash drive and Bluetooth.
A CRT can provide tax savings: income, estate and inheritance, gifts to charities, income for life, and gifts to heirs with multipliers, et al.
Let’s start with the basics.  With a CRT trust, you can transfer cash and highly appreciated assets to the trust and, in return, you may arrange to receive income for life or a specified stretch of time (not to exceed 20 years).
Income may potentially be paid out of the CRT not only during your lifetime, but also over the lifetimes of your heirs.  Eventually, a percentage of the assets in the CRT go to charities or nonprofits of your choice.  In brief, the CRT gives you a chance to:
Enjoy a current income tax deduction
Avoid estate taxes on the gifted assets
Create an income stream
Achieve tax-free compounding of assets (until withdrawn from the CRT)
Sell assets with a low-cost basis without incurring capital gains taxes
The transfer of assets to a CRT qualifies as a charitable contribution, thereby allowing you to take an income tax deduction based upon the estimated present value of the remainder interest that will eventually go to charity.
Let’s say that you have a stock that is worth $100 for which you paid $10.  If you sell the stock, you would have to pay capital gains on $90.  The capital gains tax rate was cut during the Bush administration to a maximum of 15%.  Based on what’s going on in Washington these days, who knows where the rate will be in the future?  Capital gains rates have been as high as 60%.
So, not paying capital gains tax is a good thing that happens when you make a contribution to a CRT.
What about income?  To be recognized as valid by the IRS, the payout of a CRT must be at least 5%.  Although this amount can be increased, there is a trade-off between the upfront tax deduction and the stream of income provided by the trust enabling you to customize the program to fit your needs based on an acceptable formula.
CRTs can provide income for life for you and other beneficiaries; therefore, they can be considered retirement income vehicles.  Like any other retirement income vehicle, the assets in the trust are subject to market fluctuation, so if you’re concerned about running out of money before you die, you can guarantee payments through annuity contracts.
So far, so good.  You make a donation to a trust and, in turn, receive an income tax deduction.  You receive a stream of income over your life and the life of another beneficiary.  When you and your beneficiary (you can have more than one) die, a charity or multiple charities receive what’s left in the trust so your estate pays no tax on that asset.
Sounds too good to be true, but it’s not.  Why?  Because who gets the short end of the stick on this deal?  Your heirs.  Had you not funded the trust, received an income tax deduction, taken a stream of income over your life, and had not made a gift to a charity(ies), your heirs would have received something.
I say “something” because in most cases because there are transfer taxes to be paid that will reduce what you pass on to your heirs, so they wouldn’t get it all anyway.  But there a fix that can multiply what your heirs receive when you pass on.
Remember that stream of income that you are receiving from the trust?  Well, assuming your health is okay, you can use some of that income to buy a life insurance policy on yourself that will guarantee a specific amount of money to your heirs.  Furthermore, you can put this life insurance into a trust ensuring that the life insurance proceeds will not be subject to a transfer tax.
Talk about having your cake and eating it too!

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.