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1.7B to clean Passaic’s lower 8 miles

  NEWARK – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last Friday, April 11, that it plans to undertake the most costly public waterway cleanup in its 43-year history. At a press conference held at Newark Riverfront Park, EPA Regional […]

Lost medal recovered from Pa.

  By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – For more than two decades, it sat – carefully preserved – in a Pennsylvania residence. Next month, however, the Purple Heart medal awarded posthumously to a long-dead Kearny serviceman will be returned […]

Feds won’t pay for more firefighters

Two neighboring West Hudson communities have been shut out in their bids to snag federal funding to hire more firefighters. Kearny Fire Dept. and Harrison Fire Dept. each applied for a share of SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency […]

Tribute to a teacher

  By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – Fred Kuhrt died doing what he loved best – giving of himself to others. His former employer, the Kearny Board of Education, is honoring the automotive technology instructor’s selflessness by establishing the […]

Play ball! (and politics, too)

  By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent NORTH ARLINGTON – Saturday’s opening ceremony for the North Arlington Recreation Girls’ Softball season took on a political twist. Mayor Peter Massa, a Democrat, complained that he was snubbed by League President Mike Tetto […]

News in brief

HARRISON – Harrison Mayor James Fife, 73, is spending time in St. Michael’s Medical Center, Newark, where he is recovering from surgery. The hospital declined to provide any information but Councilman James Doran, who is serving as Fife’s campaign manager […]

 

Work progressing at Rip Collins Field

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NORTH ARLINGTON –

Construction of the new Rip Collins Athletic field complex in North Arlington is proceeding on schedule and should be finished by fall 2014, school officials predicted.

In a prepared press release, Schools Superintendent Oliver Stringham said that excavation work is being done to lay the groundwork and foundation for what will be the new athletic field, track and new buildings.

Stringham said construction crews (from Rochelle Contracting of Landing) are on the River Road site doing all the infrastructure work, now that the district has secured approvals from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Joseph Ricciardelli, president of the North Arlington Board of Education, said last week, “I don’t see any reason why we won’t be playing on the new field this fall.”

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“We’ve had delivery of all the irrigation materials and piping,” Ricciardelli said. “We’re putting additional drainage under what will be our new turf field and our new buildings are going to be raised an additional foot higher than what the state asked for” to offset any potential flooding from future storms over overflows from the nearby Passaic River.

Ricciardelli said the school board will, at some point, be purchasing a “Zamboni-like” machine that would be used to vacuum away any excess water and/or debris from the field as needed. “Our staff will be trained how to use it,” he added.

As an added precaution, according to board member George McDermott, the field will be covered with a large tarpaulin during the off-season for protection against the elements.

The project, funded under a $3.3 million public referendum previously approved by North Arlington voters, will provide the school district with a new artificial grass field that it can use for high school football, baseball, track and soccer, plus team locker rooms and bathrooms, a storage facility, a coach’s meeting room, concession stand, press box and scoreboard, public bathrooms, walkways and fencing.

The complex will also be available for use to the borough Recreation Department.

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Ricciardelli said the board plans to “open the facility six or seven days a week for the public to walk or run on the track.” Specific hours for that purpose have yet to be set, he said.

At a special meeting April 11, the school board voted to retain Pennoni Associates, a Philadelphia-based engineering firm, “to provide professional engineering services in connection with the Synthetic Turf Fields and Fieldhouse at Rip Collins Athletic Complex Project.”

Pennoni will receive $30,500 for the work, according to Ricciardelli.

Ricciardelli said the expectation is that the firm would serve as a sort of construction clerk of the works whose representative would be on site “three or four times a week” to check in with the contractor on the status of the project.

– Ron Leir

Lyndhurst police blotter: Man hardly got it his way at BK after drug charges

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April 4

At 7:16 p.m., police went to the parking lot of the Park Ave. Burger King on a report of a man possibly under the influence. They ended up arresting Piotr Maleszewski, 33, of Lyndhurst, after allegedly finding drugs and drug paraphernalia on him and in his vehicle. He was charged with possession of drugs, possession of heroin, possession of drug paraphernalia (a glass pipe) and possession of a hypodermic needle. Bail was set at $2,000 with a 10% cash option. Read more »

Harrison police blotter: Man tried to murder his mother, police say

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April 4

Police arrested Carlos Gonzalez, 49, of Harrison, on a charge of attempted murder after Gonzalez allegedly tried to smother his 85-year-old father with a pillow in the family’s home on Cleveland Ave.

Police said they were called to the home at about 11 a.m. by someone at the residence and learned that the alleged assault had happened during a domestic dispute during the night at the residence.

During an arraignment at Hudson County Central Judicial Processing Court in Jersey City on April 7, the court set bail for the accused at $250,000 and Gonzalez was sent to Hudson County Jail pending action by the county prosecutor’s office. Read more »

Nutley police blotter: Man sat on stoop, got busted on warrant

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April 5

At 5:41 a.m., police responded to an Oakridge Ave. location on a report of an unwanted man sitting on the steps of a residence. Police arrested the man, Eric Perry Jr., 24, of Nutley, after learning he had an outstanding warrant from Saddle Brook. He was later released after being issued a new court date in Saddle Brook.

April 7

At 8:40 a.m., police went to a Park Ave. business on a report of criminal mischief. Police said they found graffiti, written in silver type paint, on the west side of the building.

At 12:34 p.m., a theft victim told police someone took their credit card from the center console of their vehicle while it was parked on Chestnut Place. Police said the card had been used to purchase more than $250 worth of merchandise at different places. Police said the financial institution that issued the card canceled the account and reimbursed the victim. Read more »

Jeff Bahr: An Appreciation

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By Ron Leir
Observer correspondent

In the movie, “The Misfits,” Gay, the cowboy character played by Clark Gable (in what would turn out to be his last film) tries to persuade two buddies to join in a “mustanging” enterprise.

“Beats wages, don’t it?” Gay asserts.

The implication is that you get to keep your freedom by living life on your own terms.

Hearing that phrase echo in my mind, just a few days later, I thought of Jeff Bahr, my former Observer colleague and friend from Bloomfield who was killed April 10 while riding his beloved 2012 Triumph Explorer motorcycle in West Buffalo Township, Pa. Read more »

Former Observer correspondent Jeff Bahr dies in motorcycle crash

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Former Observer correspondent Jeff Bahr, 56, died April 10 as a result of a motorcycle crash in Pennsylvania. Our thoughts and sincere condolences are with Jeff’s entire family.

Our Ron Leir is working on a retrospective of Jeff’s life, and it will appear in the coming edition of our newspaper.

Here is Jeff’s obituary from NJ.com.

Rest in peace, Jeff. We will all miss you very much.

Drug store supplants shop, homes

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By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent

KEARNY –

Developers had reason to cheer but also jeer in the wake of separate decisions by two of the town’s regulatory boards last week.

Kearny will be getting a new chain drug store on its main business district but the proposed conversion of a vacant box factory to residential lofts won’t be happening.

Last Tuesday, the Kearny Zoning Board of Adjustment voted 5-2 to approve an application filed by Mark Development Co., of New York and Massachusetts, to build a Walgreens Pharmacy at 453-467 Kearny Ave., partly on the site of the old Lynn Chevrolet property.

To make way for the 12,670 square foot, one-story building, including a drive-thru, and 41-space parking lot, the contractor will be tearing down the old auto showroom/ service center, the Irish Quality Gift Shop and the old Teddy’s bar, all on Kearny Ave., along with two houses on Quincy Ave. Read more »

Mayoral election challenge

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By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent

HARRISON –

A newly minted Republican has thrown his hat in the ring for Harrison’s mayoralty.

In November, Erik Brachman, the president of the Harrison Board of Health, will oppose the Democratic nominee James Fife, who was appointed mayor by the Town Council after the sudden death of Raymond McDonough Feb. 12.

Three years ago, Brachman, 53, ran in the Democratic Primary as a candidate for a Second Ward seat on the Town Council and was defeated by Victor Villalta. Read more »

Now, there’s a ‘jury duty scam’

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By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent

Recently, The Observer warned readers of a nationwide phone scam in which fraudsters pretending to be IRS agents are bilking money from unsuspecting taxpayers.

Well, there’s another phone scam out there, one that should be of specific interest to our readers in the Bergen County communities of North Arlington and Lyndhurst. However, everyone should be wary. The fraud is spreading to other areas.

Authorities have reported that Bergen County residents have been receiving calls from phony “Sheriff ’s Office” employees threatening them with arrest because they allegedly failed to show up for jury duty. It’s all a fraud. Read more »

KBOE OKs borough ‘transfer’

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By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent

EAST NEWARK –

East Newark public school children have now officially begun their climb up a long ladder that could lead them to taking high school classes in Kearny.

That happened March 24 when the Kearny Board of Education voted 6-0 “… that, contingent upon the severing of the sending-receiving relationship between East Newark and the Harrison Public School District, the Board is ready, willing and able to receive and educate the students from East Newark in grades 9 through 12 at the Kearny High School.”

East Newark Mayor Joseph Smith characterized the KBOE’s action as “the first favorable step” along the path to possible separation from Harrison that would end a century-plus-old tradition.

“My understanding is that if we couldn’t overcome this hurdle, we couldn’t go any farther,” Smith said. “There’d been no sense spending any money [to continue the separation process] until we had that step completed.” Read more »