By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – A proposal by NJ Transit to build a backup power system in South Kearny to run its trains in cases of emergencies like another Superstorm Sandy threatens to derail a redevelopment plan […]
By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent HARRISON – James Fife, who taught history to a lot of Harrison High School students over the years, is now in the official Harrison history books. Fife, who will mark his 73rd birthday on […]
By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent KEARNY– A man who was severely burned in a Feb. 12 house fire at 131 Schuyler Ave. succumbed to his injuries last week at St. Barnabas Medical Center, authorities reported. The victim, Manuel Lampon, 66, […]
By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent KEARNY – Seven persons were displaced last week when a three-alarm fire left their Dukes St. home uninhabitable, authorities reported. As of press time, the exact cause of the blaze was still under investigation. […]
A10-month multi-agency investigation culminated Thursday in the arrests of 23 New Jersey men in connection with an international carjacking ring, one of whose alleged leaders is a Belleville resident, authorities reported. At a press conference, state Acting Attorney General […]
By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – Three more firefighters will be added to the rolls of the Kearny Fire Department later this year – assuming they make it through their training. But it still won’t be enough to make […]
At 8:40 a.m., police responded to a report of criminal mischief at a Harrison St. location. The victim told police they’d parked their vehicle in a lot and, upon returning, found on the windshield a piece of cardboard on which someone had written, “I will be back, do not park here.” There was a crack in the windshield and in the covering to the driver’s side window. Spaces in the lot are not assigned, the victim said.
At 6:18 p.m., police were sent to a Warren St. location on a report of an animal complaint. Police said a resident was walking their leashed dog when they were approached by two unleashed dogs, one of which attacked, causing injuries to the leashed dog’s left eye and snout. The aggressor dog’s owner was issued a summons for dog at large, police said.
Police received separate reports of suspected fraud:
In one incident, police said a $9,000 check, purportedly from the IRS, was sent to a resident’s home but addressed to someone who has never lived and numerous taxslayer.com advertisements have also been sent to that location. Police said the resident’s credit report is being checked for any accounts that may have been compromised.
In the other matter, police said a Washington Ave. resident reported receiving phone calls on their cellular phone from an 876 exchange with a Jamaica caller ID for several months. The male caller tells the resident, either that he has a package for them or that they won money. Police said the resident tells the caller this is a scam, only to be threatened. Read more »
Nutley Police are investigating the disappearance of 17-year-old Judith Hicswa.
She was last seen Monday, Feb. 17 between 8 and 9 p.m., leaving her Centre Street residence, with possibly an older Asian man.
She was wearing a red sweatshirt, with white letters, blue jeans and burgundy Converse sneakers.
She is 5 feet, 3 inches tall, weighs 130 pounds,has brown eyes and brown hair.
Anyone with information regarding Judith’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Nutley Police Department at 973-284-4940
By Ron Leir
NORTH ARLINGTON –
Some three years after the North Arlington Volunteer Fire Department secured one of the beams recovered from the World Trade Center site after 9/11, the corroded, twisted steel still sits in the borough DPW garage because officials haven’t agreed where to install it.
But now, according to Mayor Peter Massa, “We’re shooting for Memorial Day for a dedication.”
Where that will happen, though, was still undecided, as of last week, although reportedly, there was to be a meeting this week of NAFD and borough representatives to hash over that issue.
“We should have a determination at our next [March 13] council meeting,” Massa said. Read more »
By Ron Leir
The law firm founded by Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Chairman David Samson – one of several P.A. figures linked to the controversial closing of access lanes to the GWB in Fort Lee – is suing Kearny in connection with another quasi-traffic-related matter.
The firm says Kearny unfairly and improperly denied its client, Interstate Outdoor Advertising, a town contract for constructing and marketing advertising billboards in the Kearny meadows targeted to motorists using Rt. 7 and/or the N.J. Turnpike.
That contract, which Kearny awarded to a rival firm which the town originally used as a consultant on the deal, is designed to give the town a windfall in new municipal revenues. Read more »
By Karen Zautyk
The Town of Kearny’s 2013 Uniform Crime Report Index has been released and shows a 2.5% total decrease in the prime categories, which represents a 13-year low.
The data, provided by the Kearny Police Department and released by Mayor Alberto Santos and the Town Council, shows 1,286 reported crimes for last year, compared with 1,320 in 2012.
“While the decrease in crime for 2013 was modest, the recently released numbers [also] confirm the significant drops in crime that occurred from 2011 to 2012 when reported crimes fell by 18%,” a statement from the mayor and Council noted.
According to the report, the category with the highest tally was larcenies, which showed a slight increase, from 633 in 2012 to 642 last year. That, Police Chief John Dowie told The Observer, is “probably because of the big jump in shoplifting.” Despite the count, it is still a far cry from the 867 larcenies recorded in 2001. Read more »
By Ron Leir
A global investment management firm specializing in real estate services has been contracted to broker the sale of the 116-acre Hoffman-La Roche research & development campus straddling the Nutley/Clifton border, stretching from Kingsland St. to Rt. 3.
Jones Lang LaSalle, with annual revenues listed at nearly $4 billion and with operations in 70 countries, is the firm entrusted with the task, according to a release issued by JLL publicist Shea Communications on Feb. 20.
Roche spokewoman Darien Wilson confirmed the announcement and said that Roche anticipated JLL would be “reaching out to various redevelopers” and arranging for them to visit the Roche site within the coming months. Read more »
By Ron Leir
The climbing mercury notwithstanding, winter is still with us but some Harrison school kids are warming to the idea that summer is only a few months away and, with summer, comes … more school!
Well, sort of.
Michael Landy, administrator in charge of Washington Middle School, explains that 12 of his students have been selected to receive scholarships to attend a SummerTech Computer Camp in Westchester County, N.Y.
“The camp is run by our music teacher at Washington Middle School, Steven Fink, and it was his idea to generously provide the scholarships,” Landy said.
Each scholarship has a value of $1,600, he said.
That will pay for the kids’ lodging, meals and personnel costs associated with the camp’s instructional component. They’ll spend one week at the site, Landy said.
The camp, Landy said, “features high tech learning, with five curriculums to choose from, including coding, animation, Python, C++, Java and web curriculum.”
Those who will be attending are Aaron El Hassani, Natalie Giumarra, Kane Montan, Susan Perea, Marvin Acuna Jerez, Rusell Kennedy, Justin Cai, Alejandro Chavez, Luis Sobrino, Jamie Diaz, Polyanna Bautista and Gabriel Sousa. All are sixth- , seventh- or eighth-graders.
Landy said students were asked to fill out an application and write an essay describing how they planned to use technology in the future. Applicants needed at least a 2.75 grade point average to qualify, he said.
Eileen Winkleblech, the school’s technology teacher, reviewed the applications and picked the winners based on the contents, grades and students’ interest in technology as demonstrated in class, Landy said.
All of the students chosen have access to home computers and to school computer labs after school if needed, according to Landy.
Fink, who toured with a rock band during the ‘80s and ‘90s, said several of his musician friends started a “techno camp” and, after the band broke up in 1997, he began getting actively involved with his camp buddies, handling the business end, marketing, sponsorship and customer service.
The camp concept grew, spreading to locations throughout the U.S., Canada and even England, Fink said. “We were five dudes living the dream.”
So successful was the model that, eventually, it was bought out and “we started a new version,” initially based at Iona College, but which later moved to State University of New York at Purchase.
“We’re now in our eighth year at SUNY,” Fink said. “The camp operates six weeks during the summer. We accept kids ages eight to 17 but, most typically, we get ages 10 to 15.”
During any one week, there are, as a rule, between 75 and 100 kids in the camp, he said.
“We use a team teaching method with a ratio of about four campers to every staffer,” Fink said. And staffers tend to be former campers themselves, he added. Counselors who are college undergraduates can bring back computer skills learned at school and share those skills with the campers, thereby giving them an edge when they return to their middle school or high school.
“We teach at a high level,” Fink says. “The experience changes people’s paths.”
Campers stay in college dorms under adult supervision.
Sunday, the first day in camp, kids go through orientation and choose a tech course best suited to their individual needs. They’ll spend four to five hours a day learning – and applying – the program they’re studying and interacting with other student-campers.
Then, there’s about two and a half hours allotted for outdoor play time involving activities like dodge ball or Frisbee and in the evening there are social activities and a chance to get to know fellow campers on a personal basis. For some campers, it can be the first time away from home so it affords an opportunity to develop real friendships, Fink said.
“We round out the week with a closing ceremony,” he said. “We give them the tools they need – free software packages, except for animation for which we charge – to follow through back home.”
NORTH ARLINGTON –
Eugene Leporiere has quit as the borough’s newly hired CFO, just four weeks after he was appointed to the part-time job, officials disclosed.
“He had a problem with the work load,” Mayor Peter Massa said last week.
When Leporiere, the former CFO of Upper Saddle River, was hired on Jan. 14, it was with the understanding that he confine his time in North Arlington to just 10 hours a week, for which he would receive $25,000 a year.
“He realized he needed two days a week to handle the work so he has formally resigned,” Massa said.
On Feb. 17, the Borough Council hired Mahwah resident Steve Sanzari as the replacement for Leporiere. Sanzari has been serving as CFO/treasurer for the village of Ridgewood, whose 2012 municipal budget was listed as about $35 million.
Massa said Sanzari’s salary remains uncertain at this point until the borough decides whether compiling the annual financial statement should be part of his scope of services.
The Borough Council also voted to hire Steven Lo Iacono, the former city manager of Hackensack, as the new borough business administrator at an annual salary of $125,000 plus the use of a borough car, pending a background check.
According to reports by NorthJersey.com, Lo Iacono was a co-defendant, along with Hackensack Construction Official Joseph Mellone, in a 2011 sexual harassment suit brought by former clerktypist Marcella Sbarbaro that ended in a $495,000 settlement. The lawsuit alleged that Sbarbaro was forced to have sex with Mellone under threat of losing her job and that when she complained to the city manager, he did nothing about it. Lo Iacono denied the allegation.
Massa said Lo Iacono is getting a separation agreement from his former employer to work for North Arlington.
Lo Iacono replaces Terence Wall, who resigned last year to accept a comparable job in Cranford. Wall also served as the borough clerk. Massa said the borough is looking to split up the two positions and expects to fill the borough clerk slot shortly.
In other business, the governing body voted to appeal to the state legislature to exempt the cost of plowing the salting roads and personnel costs associated with that work from the state-mandated municipal budget cap.
Council President Al Granell said: “This winter has blown a hole through our snow removal budget and we still have another six weeks of winter weather when we could be hit by more snow and ice storms.” Granell didn’t say how much the borough has spent so far for snow-related work.
– Ron Leir
Miscreants arrested in North Arlington or Lyndhurst are liable to end up in the Bergen County Jail. If you’ve ever wondered what life is like there, you have a chance to find out starting this weekend.
On Saturday, at 10 p.m., MSNBC’s “Lockup” series will air the first of six episodes featuring the Hackensack facility, the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office has announced.
The documentary series explores prison facilities throughout the United States, profiling notable inmates, incidents and prison operations.
The show began filming at the Bergen County Jail in June 2013 and concluded in October.
A camera crew would often spend 40 to 60 hours a week there, conducting interviews and observing the daily routines of inmates and corrections officers, Sheriff Michael Saudino’s office noted.
“Our corrections officers and staff at the jail are dedicated to running an efficient operation,’ Saudino said. “I am very thankful for their professionalism, and I look forward to their hard work being showcased in this documentary.”
By Karen Zautyk
Detective Michael Gonzalez has been named the Kearny Police Department’s “Policeman of the Year” for 2013, representing the second time the officer has been chosen for the KPD’s top honor.
The commendation will be presented Friday at the annual PBA Ball and Valor Awards Dinner.
Gonzalez, a member of the force since 2001, was selected for the same award in 2009 and is the third KPD serving officer to be a repeat recipient. The others are Lt. Anthony Gouveia, 1989 and 2003, and Officer Robert Turkowsky, 2001 and 2008.
The “Policeman of the Year”is chosen by the department’s Valor Committee, headed by Sgt. Rick Poplaski and composed of superior officers and representatives from the Patrol Division, COP Unit and Detective Bureau. And there’s no influence from the top: “I stay out of it,” Chief John Dowie noted.
Dowie explained that the commendation reflects the honoree’s overall performance during the year in question. “It’s a review of job after job. It’s not just any one job,” he said.] Even so, there are certain cases that stand out. The chief cited the actions of Gonzalez, along with Officer Steve Hroncich, “in the rooftop rescue of a suicidal individual, at great peril to himself.”
“The family was very appreciative,” Dowie said. Dowie also noted that, in 2013, Gonzalez solved a series of armed robberies “here and in surrounding jurisdictions” and played a critical role in the investigation and subsequent arrest of a suspect in the Dec. 24 robbery of a Chase Bank in Kearny.
Gonzalez is also a member of the KPD’s Honor Guard, is a firearms instructor and a member of the tactical team. In addition, he serves as a physical training instructor at the Passaic County Police Academy in Wayne, from which he graduated in 2001. Gonzalez, who grew up in Newark and Kearny, joined the KPD in August 2001 after serving a year as a Hudson County corrections officer and a year as an officer with the N.J. Department of Corrections. He is also a graduate of the N.J. Department of Corrections Academy in Sea Girt. At both academies, he received the physical fitness award in his graduating class.
He served with the KPD patrol units until 2009, when he was assigned to the Detective Bureau.