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Lt. Joseph E. Frobisher Jr. (inset) was a pilot with the U.S. 148th Aero Squadron. Those are the 148th’s Sopwith Camels, photographed in France in August 1918, a month before his death.

Remembering a local hero

  Lt. Joseph E. Frobisher Jr. (inset) was a pilot with the U.S. 148th Aero Squadron. Those are the 148th’s Sopwith Camels, photographed in France in August 1918, a month before his death. By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent  KEARNY–  The following […]


Ferraro facing firing

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  The Kearny Board of Education is seeking to fire Frank Ferraro, the superintendent it placed on an involuntary paid leave in January, by bringing tenure charges against him. At a special meeting held Aug. 12, the BOE voted in closed […]

Ebola scare at postal center

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  The U.S. Postal Service, in concert with the FBI, is undertaking a criminal investigation into an Ebola scare at its Logistics & Distribution Center, 1200 Harrison Ave., Kearny, which handles priority mail. Postal inspectors and FBI agents responded to the […]

Still rattled by Sandy? Get free legal help

Hudson County residents with legal issues arising from Superstorm Sandy may be eligible to receive free legal counsel, advice or brief services from attorneys from Northeast New Jersey Legal Services (NNJLS), a nonprofit organization. NNJLS hosts a free legal clinic Thursday, Sept. 18, 6 to 8 p.m., on the second […]


CPG opposes EPA’s river cleanup plan

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  A proposed bank-to-bank cleanup and cap is no way to treat a river. That’s the reaction by a private corporate group that has agreed to pay for work to remediate a portion of the contaminated Passaic River. The CPG, isn’t prepared to accept […]


Around town

St. Anthony of Padua Church, 63 Franklin St., Belleville, will have its 110th anniversary celebration dinner and dance on Sunday, Oct. 30, from 2 to 7 p.m.
Clara Maass Medical Center (CMMC) invites you to come out to a hospital health fair on Thursday, Oct. 27, from 10 a.m. to noon, at the medical center located at One Clara Maass Drive, Belleville. Stations will include: Stroke risk assessment, depression screenings, diabetic foot screenings, emergency department information, rehabilitation services, sleep center, imaging services, nutrition information, diabetes education, and blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose and body fat analysis screenings.  You are welcome to bring a brown bag of your medications, as pharmacists will be present to review your meds with you. There is no cost to attend this event. Registration is suggested. Please visit www.barnabashealthcalendar.org or call 1-888-724-7123, prompt 4, to register.

Bloomfield Public Library Children’s Department needs your help collecting donations of craft supplies to be used in the library’s free programs for children of all ages. Some items they are looking for are construction paper, pipe cleaners, and solid colored tissue paper, but they’ll accept any relatively new craft materials in good condition. (Opened or partially used packages are fine as long as the remaining materials are in good shape.) For a longer list of what we need, give us a call at (973) 566-6200 ext. 507. Donations can be dropped off at the children’s library at 90 Broad St.
On Tuesday, Oct. 26, from 7 to 7:45 p.m., the library’s children’s department will have a reading of scary stories for children aged 5 to 12. Register for this free event in the children’s library, 90 Broad St., or by calling (973) 566-6200 ext. 507. Kids can wear a costume, just for fun! Please note that stories in the later portion of the program may be inappropriate for young children.

Project Graduation, a program to provide a safe graduation night for Kearny High School seniors, will hold a meeting Thursday, Oct. 26, at 7:30 p.m. in the KHS library (4th floor). The group is seeking new members. For more information, call Steve Dyl at 201-991-7467.
Heaven Cent Thrift Shop at First Presbyterian Church, 663 Kearny Ave., has fall and winter clothing now in stock. Men’s and women’s suits 50% off. Hours are Wednesday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Donations of new or gently used clothing and small household items are welcome and very much appreciated. Entrance on Laurel Ave.
Calvary Methodist Church, 342 Elm St., Kearny, will have a harvest party on Friday, Oct. 21, 7 to 9 p.m.
Children are invited to hear a Halloween story and then design a “skeletoni,” an artistic skeleton made entirely out of macaroni shapes, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26, in the lower level. The library will provide the materials. Registration is not needed for this program at the main library, 318 Kearny Ave. For more information, visit www.kearnylibrary.org or call 201-998-2666.
The 24th annual Kearny Halloween parade will take place on Sunday, Oct. 30, at 2 p.m., rain or shine. Tots, youth, teens, adults and senior citizens are welcome to participate in the line of march. Registration forms for all age participants and groups will soon be available at all Kearny schools and at the Kearny Recreation Department, located in Town Hall, 402 Kearny Ave. Floats and bands are being accepted. Any civic or social organization interested in entering a float or marching in the parade this year can contact the Recreation Department at 201-955-7983. The parade route will start on Kearny Avenue at Dukes Street and travel north past Town Hall. The Kearny Police Department stresses that no bikes or skateboards are allowed along the parade route.
St. Stephen’s Seniors announces the following upcoming events: the annual Communion Breakfast – 10 a.m. Mass at St. Stephen’s followed by brunch at the Archdiocesan Center, 499 Belgrove Drive, Kearny.  For tickets call Vicki at 201-991-8345.  A. C. trips – Oct. 26 and Nov. 30.  For information call Peggy at 201-998-9443. Hunterdon Hills – Nov. 11 (waiting list only).  For information call Joan at 201-998-3578. The annual Everything Fair will be held on Saturday, Nov. 5, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  This year the fair will feature attic treasures, a tricky tray, bake sale, jewelry sale, refreshments and a raffle for $150 in Shop Rite gift certificates. For further club information please call Tom at 201-998-8258.
The Rosary Society of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 136 Davis Ave., will hold its monthly meeting on Thursday, Nov. 3, in the church hall. Guest speaker will be Rev. Michael Ward, parish administrator, who will speak on the changes to the prayers said during the Mass.

The Lyndhurst Library is once again collecting coats and clothing for the First Cerebral Palsy Center’s Coat Drive to help the homeless of St. John’s Soup Kitchen through the fall. New and gently used coats for all seasons, fall and winter clothing, and shoes in all sizes from adult to infant are being accepted. The drop-off boxes are located at the main entrance of the library.  For more information, please call the Lyndhurst Library at 201-804-2478, ext. 7.
St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church will hold an indoor flea market on Oct. 22 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will be held in the building next to the church on the corner of Stuyvesant and Forest Aves., Lyndhurst. All proceeds go to the church.
Lyndhurst V.F.W. Post 3549, 527 Valley Brook Ave., will have a Karaoke night on Friday, Oct. 28, starting at 7:30 p.m. The VFW hall is also available to rent for all occasions. For more information, call the Post at 201-939-3080.
A veterans ward party will be held on Oct. 25,  at 2:30 p.m. at Chestnut hill Extended Care Facility, Passaic. The event will be sponsored by John and Marilyn Faziola. In memory of Frank Lopinto, brother of  Marilyn. The party also is in memory of Eugene and Madelyn Lopinto, parents of Marilyn and Frank. Frank Lopinto was a  Lance Corporal in the U.S. Marines who was killed in Vietnam on July 2, 1967 at age 19. He had been born Oct. 1, 1947. He was awarded two Purple Hearts (for wounds suffered in combat), National Service Service Medal, The Republic of Vietnam Service Medal and the Military Merit and Gallantry Cross with Palms.
Join Clara Maass Medical Center for a light breakfast at the Lyndhurst Health Department on Friday, Oct. 21, at 10 a.m. for a First Aid for Seniors discussion. There is no cost to attend this event. Registration is suggested. Please visitwww.barnabashealthcalendar.org or call 1-888-724-7123, prompt 4, to register.
The N.J. Meadowlands Commission and Bergen County Audubon Society will sponsor a free two-hour nature walk Sunday, Oct. 23, starting at 10 a.m.
Meet at the entrance to the Mill Creek Marsh trail, just off Park Plaza Drive in Secaucus. You can also meet at the visitors’ parking lot at DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst at 9:30 a.m. to carpool. Check meadowblog.net for last-minute updates and weather advisories. To R.S.V.P., contact Don Torino at greatauk4@aol.com or 201-230-4983.
At 1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 23, a “Music of the Universe” concert, featuring ethereal Musicora (piano, voice, violin, cello and guitar) will be presented at the Meadowlands Environment Center, 2 DeKorte Park Plaza. $5; MEC members, $4. Call 201-460-8300 or visit www.njmeadowlands.gov/ec.
The Masonic Club of Lyndhurst, 316 Riverside Ave., will have its annual Halloween party on Saturday, Oct. 29, starting at 6 p.m. The party is open to all ages for a donation of $15 per person. Children under 12 will be admitted free. Reservations are recommended! For reservations, call the club 201-933-1330.
The Lyndhurst Health Department announces that its meditation classes will continue weekly. The meditation program, which began in September, was scheduled to run eight weeks. Due to community interest, meditation will continue every Monday night from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Lyndhurst Health Department. Parbatie Singh, certified meditation trainer and Lyndhurst resident, is donating her time to lead these free workshops. Pre-registration is required. Please call the Lyndhurst Health Department at 201-804-2500 to register. Residents of surrounding towns are welcome.
The Lyndhurst Library would like to invite the community to its monthly Book Club meeting. Make new friends who also have the same love for books while enjoying some refreshments. The next meeting will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 6:30 p.m. The book to be discussed will be “Second Chance” by Jane Green. Please contact Diane Montefusco at 201-804-2478, ext. 2, for more information and to obtain a copy of the book. Space is limited and registration is necessary.

North Arlington
The North Arlington High School Competition Cheerleaders will be holding a clothes drive on Saturday, Oct. 22.  The clothes will be collected in front of the high school, 222 Ridge Road, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, as well as shoes, belts, handbags and home linens will collected.  Please place clothing and shoes in separate plastic bags. For more information, please call 201-320-1141.  Cheerleaders will be available to help unload the bags from your cars.
Living Water Church, 119 Biltmore St., North Arlington, is hosting a Harvest Fun Festival on Sunday, Oct. 23, beginning at 2 p.m. The events will include free games, free food, free gift baskets, prizes and entertainment.  Biltmore Street will be closed from Gold Street to High Street during the festival. For more information on the Harvest Fun Festival, visit www.livingwaternj.com.
There will be a North Arlington Public Library Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, Oct. 24, at 7 p.m. This meeting is in addition to the regularly scheduled 2011 meetings.
Girls interested in playing softball next spring can sign up for the North Arlington Girls Softball League on Nov. 2 and 3 at the high school cafeteria from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The cost to join the league is $65 for girls between the ages of 5 and 8 and $75 for girls between 9 and 14 years old. There is a $50 fee for each additional child per family. Proof of residence is required at registration. There will be a $25 fee added for late registrations.
North Arlington Recreation Commission will host its annual Halloween Parade and town-wide Trunk or Treat on Thursday, Oct. 27.  Participants will assemble at Boston Market on Ridge Road at 6 p.m. and kick off at 6:30 p.m. The Trunk or Treat will follow at the end of the parade behind Borough Hall.  Children 10 years old and younger can also attend the NAVES Annual Halloween Party at 7 p.m. at the North Arlington High School cafeteria. If you would like to donate candy or use your trunk for the Trunk or Treat please call North Arlington Events Coordinator Tara Banuls at 201-679-0569. You must sign up to be a part of the Trunk or Treat.

The Tuesday Evening Knitting Club will meet at the Nutley Public Library, 83 Booth Drive, on Nov. 1, 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 on the first Tuesday of every month.
Experienced and non-experienced players are welcome to play bridge at the Nutley Public Library on the following Tuesdays: Nov. 1, 15, 22 and 29 at 1 p.m. No registration required.
Wednesday Afternoon Knitting Club meets every week at the library from 1 to 3 p.m. Please bring your own supplies.
Nutley Little Theatre invites area residents interested in community theater to attend the group’s membership meeting Friday, Oct. 28, at 8 p.m., at the NLT Barn, 47 Erie Place, Nutley.
A brief business meeting will be followed by a workshop featuring readings of Halloween-themed monologues written by NLT member Joe Del Priore. NLT is an all-volunteer organization that stages five productions annually. Open auditions encourage newcomers to try out for roles, and there are also backstage roles to be filled, as well as administrative and support positions. Membership dues are $15 annually; $20 for two persons at one address. For information, call 973-667-0374.

Golden Bears enjoy dramatic turnaround

Boys’ soccer team goes from winless to state playoff contender

Photo by Jim Hague/ The Lyndhurst boys’ soccer team has enjoyed a total transformation after a tough 0-6 start. Winners of four straight, the Golden Bears appear headed for the state tournament. Front row, from left, are Tim Alonso, Devon Cafaro and Chris Murphy. Back row, from left, are Tim Bonomo, Matt Lemke, Anthony Cardaci, Giuseppe Pollicino and head coach Rob Kost


By Jim Hague

The high school soccer season was only six games old, but it was already a nightmare for the Lyndhurst High School boys’ soccer team.
Second-year head coach Rob Kost was at wit’s end, not knowing what to do to stop the Golden Bears’ tough slide to start the season. Kost knew that he had a young team, having played a host of freshmen a year ago, but he thought that the Golden Bears would at least improve over last year. After six games, it didn’t appear that way.
“We started off slowly and we didn’t have our feet under us,” Kost said. “Injuries also hurt us. We had a young team that just needed to play with a little confidence.”
It was also time for some dramatic moves.
“We had to move some players around to shake things up a little,” Kost said.
It started with a very unselfish move. Junior J.P. Manzo, who began the season as one of the Golden Bears’ main offensive threats, volunteered to move to sweeper.
“He wanted to move back to help the team,” Kost said of Manzo. “He knew we were struggling and didn’t mind making the move. He understands the game and knows how to control the ball.”
Then sophomore Anthony Cardaci, who began the season as the Lyndhurst goalkeeper, was shifted from the net to center midfielder.
“I think he put a lot of pressure on himself, thinking he was the reason for our tough start,” Kost said. “He took the burden of our losses. But he’s enjoyed the move and he’s definitely shown he can handle it.”
The metamorphosis has been incredible. After losing their first six, the Golden Bears have won five of their last seven games, including the last four in a row. Lyndhurst toppled St. Mary’s of Rutherford (4-0), Weehawken (1-0), Hoboken (2-1) and a very impressive 5-0 win over Secaucus last Friday.
The Golden Bears aren’t exactly world beaters, but at 5-8 overall, they’re in a lot better shape than they were a few weeks ago.
“We’re doing some nice things and it’s shown by winning four games in a row,” Kost said. “Once we got the first win (over Saddle Brook, 2-1), there was a little bit of a sigh of relief. But you could see the tone of the team change. They had a lot more confidence.”
With Cardaci in the midfield, Kost turned to sophomore Matt Lemke to take over the goalkeeping duties. Lemke has responded with three shutouts in the past week.
“He’s doing a great job, but he’s still understanding the process,” Kost said. “He wanted to be the goalie and stepped right into the role. He’s done really well and Cardaci has been working with him. They really have a good relationship together.”
Manzo has been solid at sweeper.
“It really shows how much he’s dedicated to the team,” Kost said. “He’s one of the main reasons why we’ve turned this around.”
Junior Juan Gill is the stopper.
“He’s a nice physical presence for us,” Kost said of Gil.
Senior Devon Cafaro had been doing a solid job at defender, but was knocked out of the lineup with an injury last week. Sophomore Giuseppe Pollicino and junior Tom Alonso have been helping with the duties along the back line.
Cardaci has been a god-send since his move to the midfield. He scored the game-winning goal against Hoboken last week and has had three goals and one assist since making the move out of net.
Senior Mike Pelidis had been helping with the transition in the midfield, but he also suffered an injury last week, with juniors Kap Ki Kim and Erdi Demirbulaki and sophomores Mike Polito and Devin O’Donovan holding the fort in the midfield.
A pair of sophomores, Erik Marulanda and Anthony Giaquinto, takes care of the Golden Bears’ responsibilities up front. Marulanda has tallied four goals and two assists, while Giaquinto has been Lyndhurst’s leading scorer with four goals and four assists.
That 0-6 start is a slice of ancient history in Lyndhurst.
“They’re thinking differently now,” Kost said. “With the confidence now, they’re talking about making the state tournament. It’s definitely a better feeling, hearing them talk now. It’s not if we make the state tourney, but when. They have a lot more confidence in what they’re doing.”
It shows. Winning four straight will do that for a team.
And sure enough, the Golden Bears appear headed to a berth in the upcoming NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group II state playoffs. It’s almost unconscionable, considering the state of the team just a few weeks ago.

Fifty years of soccer memories in Kearny

Photo by Jim Hague/ Hugh O’Neill stands outside the Kearny Recreation soccer field house at Gunnell Oval, where a plaque is mounted to honor his father for his efforts in starting the league in 1961. The organization will celebrate its 50th anniversary Saturday at 12:30 p.m.


By Jim Hague

It was the fall of 1961. Roger Maris was chasing Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record. Sean Hannity, Meg Ryan and Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers were all born. Ty Cobb and Ernest Hemingway died. “Stand By Me,” by Ben E. King, graced the top of the Billboard record charts. “West Side Story” swept the Oscars, including Best Picture.
And a dedicated Kearny man who had the game of soccer flowing through his veins decided to do something about teaching the kids of the area about the sport he loved.
Hugh O’Neill, Sr. noticed that a ton of Kearny youngsters were playing soccer, but without any guidance or supervision.
So with the help of the Recreation Director at the time, Sam Hagen, and a young man who had recently graduated from LaSalle University as a basketball All-American named Bill Raftery, decided to start a Kearny Recreation soccer league.
Raftery, who would go on to later become the head basketball coach at Seton Hall University and is now known for his work as a basketball analyst on television, had made a deal at the time with then-Kearny Mayor Joseph Healey while he was pursuing a career in pro basketball.
“When I graduated from LaSalle, I was made a supervisor in Kearny Recreation,” said Raftery, who was a three-sport (soccer, basketball and baseball) standout at the now-defunct St. Cecelia’s High School in Kearny. “I was at training camp with the (New York) Knicks, trying to make the team and I was able to keep both jobs. But if I got cut by the Knicks, I would turn my attention to recreation.”
So one of the first things Raftery did in his official business with his hometown was to help start this soccer league, with guys like Pete Carson and Hugh O’Neill Sr.
“We knew that the kids could play,” Raftery said. “Hughie was a special guy who loved the game, loved kids and knew the game. We all got together and started the league. We knew that the kids would be great. We just needed to give them the opportunity and the place to play.”
The elder O’Neill’s son, also named Hugh, remembered that his father named the first teams in the new Kearny Recreation soccer league after the all-time legends of the game that came from Kearny.
“There were teams named after Archie Clark, Bill Sheppell, Seamus O’Brien, Jim Hanna, Eddie Brown, John Kurziewicz,” the younger O’Neill recalled. “They all played on the United States national teams in the early World Cups and they were all from Kearny.”
The younger O’Neill recalled that the fledgling league had over 100 kids in its inception, but he wasn’t one of them.
“My dad wouldn’t let me play,” O’Neill said. “I was only seven years old and you had to be at least eight to play. My dad told me that I could hand out shirts and chase after the balls. It really made me hungry to play the game early on.”
Eventually, the local businesses came forward and helped to provide sponsorship for the league, as it continued to grow, prosper and flourish.
“If you didn’t play soccer at that time, you were not considered an athlete in Kearny,” Raftery said. “You had to play soccer. You had no choice.”
The younger O’Neill went on to have a great soccer career of his own, once he got a chance to play. He was one of the first American-born players to play professionally in the top divisions in Scotland, earning a spot with the famed Rangers. He also played for the North American Soccer League, the American Soccer League and the Major Indoor Soccer League. In 1981, O’Neill scored the game-winning goal as the Carolina Lightnin’ won the ASL title, defeating the New York United.
O’Neill was one of the famed alumni that came out of the Kearny Recreation soccer league. It was the first place where people like John Harkes and Tony Meola played, but also David D’Errico, Santiago Formoso, Eddie Austin, Gerry McKeown and Jim Harrison.
“We had some great coaches and league presidents,” O’Neill said. “Guys like Mike Gray, Tom Mara, Jose Torres, (the late) Pete McIntyre, Peter Miller and Rob Logan. We had thousands of kids gain college scholarships from out of that league.”
“There were so many kids who got a college education after playing in the league and they continued to play soccer right into adulthood,” Raftery said. “We just took advantage of what we had. It was a lot of resourcefulness in those days. Kearny was such a great place to grow up and how we all kept going was sports. Soccer was the main connection. I can’t remember many kids from Kearny who didn’t play soccer back then.”
O’Neill pointed out that the Kearny Recreation soccer league was formed long before the current staple of youth soccer, the Thistle program, was ever thought of.
“The Kearny Rec league started in 1961,” O’Neill said. “Thistle started in 1977. This was the breeding ground, where it all began.”
The Kearny Recreation league led to the formation of the Kearny United travel team in 1966, which was basically an All-Star team from the recreation league.
On Saturday afternoon, at 12:30 p.m., there will be a special presentation honoring the 50th anniversary of the Kearny Recreation soccer league.
O’Neill is asking anyone who was ever involved with the league to head back to the Gunnell Oval field house and take part in the festivities and reminiscence. Everyone is welcome to attend the presentations.
“Anyone who was a volunteer, a coach, someone who worked the field house, the directors, we want them all to come back,” O’Neill said. “We’re going to rededicate the field house and recognize the 50th anniversary.”
Raftery will take a break in his hectic schedule to be in attendance.
“It’s always nice to remember, but it’s even nicer to be remembered,” Raftery said. “I appreciated the fact that we had kids who already knew how to play, how to handle the ball, how to play the right way. They just had to be nurtured a little. I also applaud the efforts of the parents who knew what the game was about and supported us.”
Of all the integral people who were involved in the infant stages, one will be sorely missed. Hugh O’Neill Sr., one of the founding fathers of the league, died in 1982, a year after his son led Carolina to the ASL championship.
A plaque remains on the field house wall in memory of Hugh O’Neill Sr. His son will reflect on the efforts of his father on the 50th anniversary on Saturday.

QP’s Johnson glad he had a chance to come back home to New Jersey

Photo by Jim Hague/ Queen of Peace senior running back Torre Johnson.



By Jim Hague

Torre Johnson had spent his freshman and sophomore years of high school far away from his childhood home in East Orange.
Johnson attended Cairo High School in Georgia and played football there as a linebacker and wide receiver. But deep in Johnson’s heart, he knew he was a running back.
“I wasn’t happy there,” Johnson said. “Most of my family and friends were in New Jersey. I wasn’t getting the ball at all in Georgia. It wasn’t fun.”
But when Johnson’s mother decided that she was taking the family back to the Garden State, Torre wasn’t upset at all.
“I was kind of happy, because I knew I would go to a school where I could play,” Johnson said.
One of Johnson’s childhood friends, Malzim Lawrence, recommended Queen of Peace, where Lawrence was already a running back.
It was a perfect scenario for Johnson. Queen of Peace represented a good school with a chance to play football and a close friend along side.
Johnson underwent some growing pains when he first enrolled at QP.
“He was new to the school and the program,” QP head coach Steve Romano said. “It took him a little while for him to understand what we were about.”
So a year ago, Johnson was part of a Golden Griffins’ backfield with his friend, Lawrence.
However, before the 2011 season began, Johnson did what he had to do to become a full-time top-flight running back.
“He bought into the weight room and put on 25 pounds of muscle,” Romano said. “He improved his speed in the 40 (yard dash). He put in a lot of work and I just knew that the hard work was going to be the difference.”
“It was my senior year and I only had one shot,” Johnson said. “I wanted to step up and be a better player. Because I was new to the team last year, I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. But this year, it was my chance to get the ball more. Last year, I was more of a defensive player. This year, I worked hard to get the ball.”
Even if it meant leapfrogging over his friend Lawrence in the process.
“I hated to do it that way, but I had to do what I did,” Johnson said.
So when the 2011 season began, Torre Johnson was the Golden Griffins’ main go-to running back. He didn’t fail in his debut, collecting 243 yards and four touchdowns in the Griffins’ season opener against Park Ridge. He also had another game where he collected 157 yards, but it was nothing compared to what he produced last week in a 32-18 win over Weehawken.
In that contest, Johnson motored for an astounding 352 yards on 20 carries and scored three touchdowns.
Johnson’s impressive performance set a new single-game rushing record at Queen of Peace.
For his efforts, Johnson has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.
Johnson’s heroics have enabled the Golden Griffins to bounce back after an 0-3 start. They now own a 3-3 record and have put themselves into contention for a possible NJSIAA Non-Public Group 2 playoff berth. The Griffins need a win over either Mastery Charter of Pennsylvania this weekend or Elmwood Park next week to secure the playoff bid.
Johnson, who is ranked among the top 10 in rushing yardage in the entire state, is a major reason why the Griffins are now in the state playoff picture.
“He has the unique ability to see the hole and feels the presence of the hole,” Romano said. “He also has great breakaway speed. He sees the hole, hits the hole and he’s gone. And no doubt about it, he wants the ball and you have to like that.”
Johnson started the season as a two-way player, but since he’s shown so much talent on the offensive end, Johnson has been relieved from his duties with the defense.
“We need him solid in the backfield,” Romano said. “That’s why he’s only on one side now. When he’s healthy and able, he’s pretty darn good. He’s been a pleasant surprise. We hoped he could get 100 yards per game, but he’s done even better than that. I still think his best days are ahead of him. He’s one of the top kids I’ve ever coached. It’s nice to have a running back who can make big plays. Everyone loves a running back.”
Johnson is confident about the way he’s been playing.
“I feel I can score a touchdown every time I touch the ball,” said Johnson, who has scored 10 touchdowns this season. “That’s what I try to do.”
Johnson said he didn’t know how much yardage he compiled last week.
“I was told after the game and I was amazed it was that much,” Johnson said. “I didn’t know it was a school record. I just enjoy the privilege of owning the record. For me, it’s all about the competition. I want to compete. It’s kind of unbelievable that it was that much. The offensive line did a great job blocking.”
Johnson hopes that this is just a start for him.
“I hope I have bigger and better games in the future,” Johnson said.
He also hopes to be playing on the college level next year and believes that his school-record performance can lead to a chance to play in college.
“I’d be surprised if it didn’t,” Johnson said. “I’m not really surprised with how well I’ve done. I’ve been playing football since I was a little kid. It’s just my time, my chance. I take the ball and do what I do best.”
There is one thing Johnson is happy about. He’s glad to be away from the peaches, the pecans and the lush golf fairways in Georgia.
“I’m glad to be back up here,” Johnson said. “I’m back with my family and childhood friends. Everything is good now.”

Maximizing a ‘4’ plan


By Randy Neumann

Are you maximizing your 401(k)?
If not, why not?  Let’s begin by putting things in perspective. The national debt is $14 trillion.  The quote, “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking real money” is commonly attributed to Sen. Everett Dirksen from Illinois in the 1960s.  But some research reveals that the phrase was used as early as 1917.  And the Jan. 10, 1938, New York Times reported: “Well, now, about this new budget. It’s a billion here and a billion there, and by and by it begins to mount up into money.”
Trillions and billions are one thing, but millions are another.  Today, $1 million is not all that much money in terms of retirement savings.  In this “new normal” economy, a $1 million portfolio is expected to generate $50,000 annually in retirement income.  That’s for this year.  Using an inflation factor of 3%, next year’s income will be $48,500.  The following year will be $47,045, and so on.
Do you have $1 million in your retirement portfolio?  Will you need $1 million in your retirement portfolio?  You will if your retirement expenses are about $50,000, so how do you get there?
The hard way is to earn $100, pay the tax on it and put what’s left into a bank account.  If you are in the 30% tax bracket, you will pay the government $30 in tax, and you will invest $70 in an account that pays less than 2%.    Additionally, you will have to pay a tax on the earnings, so let’s say that you earn 1% net after taxes.  Your $100 is worth $70.70 at year-end.  If you apply a 3% inflation factor, your net amount is $67.90.
The easier way is to put $100 into your 401(k), 403(b) or 457 plans (hereafter referred to as “4” plans.)  The $100 goes in pre-tax, i.e., you pay no income tax on it.  The money grows tax deferred as long as it stays in the account and can, in most cases, be invested in a diverse menu of investment options so that you can manage the risk in the account.
Back to the question at hand.  Are you maximizing your “4” plan?  When something is good for the government, there is no limit.  When something is good for us (the taxpayer), there are limits.  This year’s limit to “4” plans is $16,500.  If you are over age 50, you can make an additional “catch-up” contribution of $5,500.
Let’s look at a plan in motion.
As mentioned above, “4” plans provide tax-deferred growth and compounding, so the money in your 401(k) compounds year after year without tax penalties.  The earlier you start, the more compounding you get.  Assume that you put $2,400 annually into a 401(k) starting at age 30, and for the sake of example, let’s assume you get an 8% annual return.  How much money would you have at 65?  You would have a retirement nest egg of $437,148 from putting in $200 per month.
Interestingly, if you started putting in the same $200 a month five years later, you would have only $285,588.  Time is money.
But you may not have to do all of the heavy lifting yourself.  According to some research done by Money magazine in 2010, big companies will often match employee 401(k) contribution.  Usually, this match is 50 cents for each dollar up to 6% of salary.
And, there’s also a new wrinkle in the “4” plans—the Roth element.  Contributions to a Roth “4” plan are not tax-deductible, the magic happens on the other end.  With these plans, you receive tax-free compounding and tax-free withdrawals (provided the withdrawals are considered qualified).
Let’s finish with the beginning concept of this column: trillions, billions and millions.  Assuming an 8% annual return, to retire with $1 million all you need to do at age 30 is put $6,000 per year ($230.76 per biweekly paycheck) into a “4” plan until you are age 65 at which time you will have $1,000,033.90 in your “4” plan.

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.


Mary Ann Cawley
Mary Ann Cawley (Roth), 67, passed away on Friday, Oct. 7, in the Southern Ocean
County Hospital, Manahawkin.
Arrangements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Drive,
Kearny. The funeral service was held in the funeral home. Cremation was private. Condolences and memories may be shared at www.thiele-reid.com.
Mrs. Cawley was born in Kearny and lived in Harrison and then West Milford for 25
years before moving to Manahawkin nine years ago.
She is survived by her husband Howard Cawley Jr.; her four sons Howard W. (Debby), Joseph T. (Kathleen), John M. (Terrance) and Michael A. (Christiane); two sisters,
Gloria D’Agostiono and Susan Ross.
She also leaves behind 15 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Debbie Farrell
Debbie Farrell (nee Policastro), 53, suddenly on Tuesday, Oct. 11, of North Arlington, formerly of Kearny and Harrison.
She worked as a dental assistant for Dr. Mark Spierer in Kearny for the last 25 years.
Arrangements were by the
Mulligan Funeral Home, Harrison. Private cremation was held. For information, directions or to send condolences please visit mulliganfuneralhome.org.
Debbie is survived by her mother Sophie Policastro (nee Dietrich); her husband Walter Farrell Sr.; her children Lauri Chavez (nee Farrell) and her husband Carlos, Linda Farrell, Walter Farrell Jr., Jessica Boland (nee Dunn) and her husband John, and Nichole Farrell and Renaldo Rodrigues.
She is also survived by her grandchildren Alyssa, Amber, Kyle, Jennifer, Andrew,
Briana, Matthew, Ethan, and Charles; her sisters Madeline, Susan, Ruthann, Francine; her brothers Ronaldo, Rocco, and Joseph; many extended family. She was predeceased by her father Joseph Policastro.

Angelina Nigro
Angelina Nigro, 80, died on Oct. 13 at Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville. She was born and raised in Newark before moving to Kearny in her teenage years. Before retiring, she was a keypunch operator for Goode Industries in South Kearny.
She is survived by her husband Carmine Nigro; her daughters Catherine Ravert,
and Laurie Speer (Bob); also her sister Mary Postal; along with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She is predeceased by her siblings Millie, Frank, and Larry.
Arrangements were by Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held in the funeral home. Entombment was at Holy Cross Cemetery.

Recipe contest for Nutley youngsters

Nutley Mayor Joanne Cocchiola, the township Board of Education and Chartwells, the district’s hot-lunch food service provider, are sponsoring a Nutley Healthy School Lunch Recipe Contest, designed to give school-aged children the chance to express their creativity while learning hands-on about the principles of healthy eating and good nutrition.

Registration for the recipe contest is open now and will end Nov. 30.

Registration info is available at www.nutleynj.org/fit-kids-recipe, as well as the Board of Education website, with hard copies at the Department of Public Affairs, 149 Chestnut St.  Detailed contest logistic information is also available in the comprehensive participation guide online.

Nutley children, grades K through 12, can participate as individuals or in teams of five within appropriate grade levels: Grades K-2; 3-6; 6-8; and 9-12.  Teams with participants in different grade levels will be judged at their team’s highest grade level.  All recipes must follow nutrition guidelines that are included in the packet.

Winners will be announced in February, and the grand prize winner’s recipe will be incorporated in the Nutley school lunch menu for the 2012-2013 year.  Three other recipes will be featured for a limited time on the menus of select local restaurants.  All qualifying participants will be featured in and receive a copy of the Nutley School Lunch Recipe Contest Cookbook.

The contest is part of the Nutley Fit Kids program, an initiative to engage children and teens in activities to promote a healthy mind, body and spirit.  For more information, contact the mayor’s office at 973-284-4972, or visit www.nutleynj.org.



BREAKING NEWS: Lyndhurst School District gives tours of facilities.

As the Lyndhurst School District and Community prepares for the December 13, 2011 Referendum, we would like to give the members of our community the opportunity to tour the school facilities. During these tours, you will be able to see each school building, as well as the proposed facility plans and upgrades. The tour dates are as follows:

October 13, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm or 7:00pm-8:00pm Roosevelt School
October 18, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm or 7:00pm-8:00pm Lyndhurst High School
October 19, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm or 7:00pm-8:00pm Washington School
October 20, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm or 7:00pm-8:00pm Jefferson School

Marsh madness over taxes

Photos by Ernie Fragetta


By Ron Leir

The EnCap bankruptcy and subsequent demise of plans to turn part of the Meadowlands into a recreation/entertainment mecca have spawned a Swamp War over tax dollars between Lyndhurst and the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC).
Lyndhurst took its case public at an Oct. 3 press conference to zap the NJMC for failing to pay taxes on 13 township parcels that sit in the Meadowlands district and that are now part of the NJMC’s Kingsland Redevelopment Plan.
In a letter sent Aug. 22 to Gov. Chris Christie, Lyndhurst Mayor Richard DiLascio said that EnCap, which the NJMC designated to develop those parcels, ran up “a sizable delinquency” on property taxes owed for that land.
That tax obligation, DiLascio said, “was assumed by the NJMC” which, he added, “has not paid the delinquent taxes . . . .”
In April 2011, the NJMC filed an appeal with the New Jersey State Tax Board, claiming it was exempt from any tax obligations.
In May, Lyndhurst proposed a settlement of the matter but has gotten no counter offer from the NJMC, DiLascio said. “As part of our settlement proposal,” the mayor noted, “we have offered to forgo interest on the (tax) lien and tax balances.”
In the absence of any formal response, DiLascio said Lyndhurst is appealing to the governor for help.
“We are prepared to meet in Trenton, or any other place, at any date and time so as to finally resolve this issue,” he concluded.
At stake, according to Lyndhurst fiscal experts, is a 6-year tax bill for an estimated $9 million and climbing.
In response, Lori Grifa, state Community Affairs commissioner and NJMC chairwoman issued a statement reading: “The assessed value of the taxes associated with these 13 properties (and the obligations related to them) has been in dispute for quite some time.
“The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission was awarded title by court order to these properties in March 2011. A tax appeal was promptly filed. There is now also litigation pending.
“We regret that the Township of Lyndhurst has chosen to mediate this dispute in public. The Commission and Department of Community Affairs has consistently said it is willing to negotiate, but it must be under a system that is fair to all parties.”
DiLascio declined to provide specifics about the township’s settlement proposal but did say that Lyndhurst “has talked about PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes) – we don’t have any objections to it.”
And, in his letter to the governor, DiLascio says that the NJMC “has sufficient resources to pay the settlement proposed by the Township and structure a fair and final resolution.” He says an auditor found that NJMC “has $7,429,051 in unreserved surplus . . . out of a total surplus of $20,978,635. This surplus has been created out of the wallets of the Lyndhurst taxpayers and should be paid to the Lyndhurst treasury.”
Until last week, Lyndhurst was refusing to pay the second installment of its NJMC tax-sharing pool contribution to six “receiving” districts, including Kearny and North Arlington, which was due Aug. 15.
Kearny filed a claim against Lyndhurst in Hudson County Superior Court to collect the $175,000 it is owed from the tax-sharing pool account.
“We feel that Lyndhurst’s issue with the NJMC is unrelated to the tax-sharing issue,” Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos said.
Santos said that Lyndhurst came across with its payment last Thursday.
Robert Benecke, Lyndhurst’s financial consultant, placed the assessed value of the disputed 13 meadows parcels at $122,347,500 which, he said, would have translated to $2,261,881 in real estate taxes for 2010.
In its appeal, the NJMC simply claimed that, as a state agency, it was tax exempt, and listed no assessed values for the disputed properties. It listed eight, including several landfills that are being remediated, as vacant land and the rest as industrial sites.
In a deal transacted in September 2004, Lyndhurst was “promised over $500 million in new revenues over 35 years (from the EnCap venture),” DiLascio said.
Now, the mayor said, “the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission owes us millions as we battle for survival . . . . What was dubbed ‘the Miracle of the Meadowlands’ has become the ‘Disaster in the Dumps’. ’’
When asked why Lyndhurst doesn’t take the NJMC to court, Benecke replied: “We can do things at a higher level (but) we don’t want to do that. We could end up in litigation for years. We just want them to come to the table.”

Tragic end to river search

Georgie Pena


By Karen Zautyk

A four-day search for a Kearny man who disappeared in the Passaic River ended early last Tuesday, Oct. 4, when the body of 21-year-old Georgie Pena was found in the water behind the Pathmark on Passaic Ave.
The tragic discovery was made at 7:15 a.m. by Kearny Police Sgt. Rick Poplaski and Officer Jack Corbett, who had just launched a police boat to continue the hunt.
Kearny Police Chief John Dowie said the body was on the east side of the river about three to four feet from the shore.
Pena’s body was taken to the Medical Examiner’s office, where it was identified. The case has been handed over to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.
Pena had gone into the water shortly after 12:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 30, as he was reportedly fleeing police who had seen him running across Passaic Ave. at the foot of Magnolia Ave. When officers reached the riverbank, Pena was already near midstream “being carried south by the river’s current,” police said.
Authorities said officers had been on the lookout for him after he was nearly hit by a car while walking in the middle of Passaic near North Midland Ave. a short time before. Dowie stated that Pena was not wanted by police and was not being chased, but that he ran from the cops.
Kearny police and firefighters and rescue boats from Lyndhurst and Wallington launched an immediate search, which ended after several hours with negative results, authorities said. It was resumed at daybreak and continued from dawn to dusk that Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
The Tuesday search was just starting when the body was found.
State Police helicopters and boats, K-9 units and first responders, including several scuba teams, from more than a half-dozen jurisdictions took part in the exhaustive hunt, which extended from Kearny’s northern border all the way to Newark Bay.
The day after Pena disappeared, The Observer spoke briefly with his stricken mother, Daisy Pena of Kearny, who had gone to the KPD search command center at Passaic Ave. and the Belleville Pike with several family members.
At that time, she was still clinging to hope that her son might be found alive.
“I’m supposed to die before he does,” she said through her tears. “Parents are supposed to die before their kids do.”