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 […]
So 2016 could see two New Jerseyans vying for the highest office in the land.
That would be the current N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, and Sen. Cory Booker, the former mayor of Newark, a Democrat.
As head of the Republican Governors Association, Christie already has a national platform – and an excuse to fly to places like Chicago, Florida and California to raise money for like-minded Red Staters.
And when he was the Brick City chief executive, Booker was not one to let the dust settle, as demonstrated by a Star Ledger survey which reported on July 15, 2012, that the mayor “was out of state and the New York City area on at least 119 days since Jan. 1, 2001,” although Booker’s aides noted that their boss often returned the same day he went out of town.
The point is that the wanderings of both Christie and Booker have proven distractions that shoved local priorities to the back seat in favor of personal aspirations for operating on a wider political stage.
In Christie’s case, his administration has to, at least, share part of the blame – with the feds – in failing to ensure that the “tens of thousands” of New Jersey residents left homeless by the ravages of Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 got storm recovery aid.
As folks continued struggling to reclaim homes and businesses ruined by Sandy, our governor spent a comfortable weekend vacation with his family recently in San Juan. I guess he needed to recover from all the jet lag he’s experienced flying around the U.S.
Then, of course, there’s Bridgegate, where the jury of public opinion is still out, awaiting the results of investigations by the legislature and the Port Authority. Apologies notwithstanding, if Christie didn’t order the Fort Lee lane closures, how come he wasn’t paying attention to what his appointees were doing at the GWB?
Same can be said for former Mayor Booker who recently condemned the actions of the former Newark Watershed Conservation & Development Corp. who, according to report issued by the state comptroller, allegedly plundered its coffers for hundreds of thousands of dollars for personal gain, as reported by The Star Ledger last week.
Booker told The Ledger he was relying on the city business administrator to keep tabs on the Watershed and that’s why he didn’t attend any of that agency’s meetings. Maybe the business administrator wasn’t in Booker’s Twitter phone book.
At a “Town Hall” meeting last week in Port Monmouth – the 110th such public meet and greet for Christie – a woman who identified herself as “Debbie from Brick” trying to get Sandy recovery aid told the governor, “I just wanna go home.”
Maybe that’s what Chris from Trenton needs to do: Stay in New Jersey.
– Ron Leir
It looks like out-of-towners, with certain exceptions, will be paying more for a ride to a hospital in a Lyndhurst ambulance.
A township ordinance introduced Feb. 11 and slated for public hearing on March 11, calls for an $800 transport fee plus $15 per mile to be charged to non-residents conveyed to a hospital by the Lyndhurst Police Emergency Squad (LPES).
“Any portion of the transport fee herein established (or the entire fee) may be waived for residents of Lyndhurst,” the ordinance states.
The current charges are $600 for a transport fee plus $12.50 per mile.
Since the ambulance service began, those fees have been waived for township residents, although, based on a search of municipal records by the Township Clerk’s office, it appears that Lyndhurst has never put into writing the rules governing fees assessed by the LPES.
Now the plan is to “codify” that protocol, officials said.
Asked why the township was planning to raise the fees, Mayor/Public Safety Commissioner Robert Giangeruso referred a reporter to the township’s Emergency Management Services (EMS).
Salvatore De Carlo, deputy director of Lyndhurst EMS, said the proposed rate hike is not being sought by the LPES. “The recommendation to raise the fees came from the township, presumably to help with the [municipal] budget,” he said.
“The billing is revenue generating,” De Carlo said. “The money collected goes to the township general fund. It doesn’t come to the squad.”
And, based on a review of records for last year, it doesn’t appear that the township lost money by providing the service, according to De Carlo.
For 2013, De Carlo said, Lyndhurst paid about $250,000 for maintenance costs associated with running the ambulance and for payments to 13 emergency medical technicians who operate on a rotating basis and one supervisor and collected $326,388 in revenues.
“So it looks like the township makes a little money off us,” he said.
How that works, De Carlo said, is that, “If a township resident uses the [ambulance] service, we take what the person’s insurance company pays and, if there is a balance owed, the resident is not responsible for that balance. If a nonresident uses the service, that person is responsible for the balance.”
However, if somebody from Rutherford or another community that partners with Lyndhurst in a mutual aid pact gets hurt in Lyndhurst, there is no charge to transport that person, De Carlo said.
Or, if a person from a mutual aid partner community gets hurt in one of those communities and Lyndhurst’s ambulance responds, that person “would be treated the same as a Lyndhurst resident,” De Carlo said.
An exception to the rule: a non-resident visiting Medieval Times who has an allergic reaction to the animals and who is taken by Lyndhurst ambulance to the hospital is responsible for the transport fees, said De Carlo.
A draft of the proposed ordinance is “still in flux,” he added.
– Ron Leir
A Virginia woman, wanted on a $50,000 Kearny robbery warrant, was arrested Feb. 11 when she graciously returned to the scene of the crime, the Kmart on Passaic Ave., Kearny police reported.
Just a month before, on Jan. 10, Kmart security had attempted to detain Nora Jdira, 27, of Springfield, Va., on suspicion of shoplifting, but she reportedly became combative, “violently resisted” the guards and assaulted one with her handbag before escaping in a car with Washington, D.C., plates, Kearny Police Chief John Dowie reported.
Officer Leroy Bibbs did a plate/driver’s license check and found a Virginia license for the owner.
Thanks to that license photo, Kmart personnel reportedly identified the suspect as Jdira.
On the afternoon of Feb. 11, there she was again and, lo and behold, was recognized by store personnel, police said. Officer Pat Becker, after confirming the outstanding warrant, placed Jdira under arrest. One might say that, in this instance, the store had a “no returns” policy.
Other recent reports on the KPD blotter included the following:
At 2:30 p.m., Jason Taylor, 29, of Lyndhurst, came to KPD headquarters to inquire about the status of a taxi-driver license application he had submitted. The visit proved to be unwise, since Officer Pat Sawyer had determined that the would-be cabby had two outstanding warrants, one from Kearny and one from Newark, police said. Taylor was arrested and booked. His application has not been approved.
Officer Tom Bannon, travelling on Schuyler Ave. near Midland Ave. at 8 a.m., came upon a blue Jeep stopped in the northbound traffic lane, its driver asleep behind the wheel and two cans of beer sitting in the center console, police said. After Bannon roused the motorist and conducted field sobriety tests, Jose Castillo, 24, of Irvington, was arrested, brought to HQ for an Alco test and issued a summons for DWI.
Officer Brian Wisely responded to Kmart at 5 p.m. after a shopper reported she had briefly left her cart unattended and then found her wallet had been removed from her backpack in the cart. Wisely reviewed security videos, observed the theft and was able to get a partial plate from the vehicle in which the culprit had fled. At HQ, the officer ran possible plate combos and eventually matched one to a similar vehicle, police reported. Det. Ray Lopez assisted in the follow-up investigation, and a suspect was developed. That individual, Khary Jackson, 37, of Irvington, accepted an invitation to visit HQ , where he was questioned by Wisely and subsequently charged with theft.
At 8 a.m., officers responded to a report of a domestic dispute involving an assault at a residence near Belgrove Drive and Garfield School. During an investigatory interview, 22-year-old Joseph Ferguson of Kearny allegedly fled on foot from Sgt. Paul Bershefki.
He was apprehended by Officer Cesar Negron. Ferguson was charged with simple assault and resisting arrest.
At 3:30 p.m., on the 300 block of Davis Ave., Officer Jay Ward investigated a collision between a car and a snow plow. The operator of the auto, Carl Astorga, 38, of Kearny, was charged with driving while suspended and failure to surrender a suspended license.
At 8 p.m., Officer Sean Kelly responded to Kearny and Pavonia Aves., where two men — a 26-year-old Kearny resident and a 52-year-old from Short Hills — reported that someone in a passing car had been firing paintballs at pedestrians. Near Town Hall, Capt. John Gouveia was flagged down by another pedestrian reporting the same thing, and Sgt. Anthony Limite took yet another report at Brighton Ave. and Halstead St.
Police said people had been struck, but no one was injured. Police have a description of the car and a partial plate, and the investigation is continuing.
Officers Rich Carbone and Giovanni Rodriguez, on patrol in South Kearny, responded to a 7:45 p.m. report of a trespasser at a local business and encountered 30-year-old Elizabeth resident Hector Rodriguez. Police said he refused the officers’ requests to move on and was arrested for defiant trespass.
During a search pursuant to arrest, he allegedly was found to be in possession of several Tramadol tablets along with a glassine bag of suspected heroin, stamped “Great Ape.” He was also charged with unlawful possession of a prescription drug and possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia and reportedly was also found to have warrants from Linden and Caldwell.
– Karen Zautyk
By Anthony J. Machcinski
While the heavy snow and frigid temperatures don’t exactly inspire memories of the Jersey Shore in the summer, frostbitten summer-lovers can escape the winter with the help of C.O.A.L.G.
C.O.A.L.G., an acoustic guitar duo who frequently plays at Spicy’s Cantina in Seaside Heights in the summers, will perform a set at North Arlington’s Centanni’s on Feb. 28.
“We play everything from the Beatles up until today’s stuff and everything in between,” said singer/guitarist Wayne Bilotti.
Bilotti started his music career in high school, when he began playing the guitar with friends.
“I had the opportunities to play since high school and it sprung from there,” Bilotti said. “It’s just a passion to play. I was just fortunate enough to make a living doing it.”
Bilotti’s style, with musical influences ranging from Paul Simon to Roger Waters, came from being exposed to varying styles of music.
“I just grew up listening to a lot of different types of music,” Bilotti said. “I was more into song writers than just random artists.”
Bilotti’s guitar career soon took him to many of the notable venues throughout the area, including the now-closed CBGB in Manhattan. However, as time passed, Bilotti found that playing acoustic guitar allowed him more opportunities to work.
“I think it has a lot to do with the scene changing,” Bilotti explained. “A lot of the old rock venues like CBGB are gone. There’s not a real scene out there for original rock music anymore.”
Looking to keep with the times, Bilotti and C.O.A.L.G. bandmate Andre Lahr kept playing acoustic shows.
“The acoustic leaves you more versatile to do different types of music,” Bilotti explained. “It allows you to fit into more venues. It’s the one scene that kind of didn’t go away.”
With over a decade in the music business, Bilotti said that the duo’s success is derived from keeping tabs on their audience and their ability to play several varieties of music.
“What’s good is good,” Bilotti said. “We always had our ear out and we’re kind of out there in the (music) scene ourselves. The Beatles were way before I was even born, but they’re such a great band. There’s always a call for (the modern scene) too.”
C.O.A.L.G.’s wide array of musical styles is evident through performances of The Eagles’ “Hotel California” and the famed Beatles track “Don’t Let Me Down,” which have made their way onto YouTube.
C.O.A.L.G.’s rendition of “Hotel California,” taken from a July 2013 performance at the Spicy Cantina, is everything music lovers could hope for out of a cover. Trying to match Don Henley’s vocals on the track is no easy task, yet Bilotti and Lahr maneuver their way through the song, enough to get a crowd full of musiclovers singing along with their rendition.
In another cover, Bilotti’s cover of “Don’t Let Me Down” with guitarist Norm Dodge again provides another singalong anthem for the audience.
While Bilotti has not had optimal success with original songs, just the ability to play music for a living is exhilarating.
“All you can do is love what you do,” Bilotti said. “I’m glad to make a living as I do with (playing music).”
While the summer is several months away, Bilotti said C.O.A.L.G. has already booked many appearances for the warmer months.
“We just booked our summer schedule, we’re just looking forward to that,” Bilotti said of his hopes for the future. “We’re always willing to travel, maybe some nice climate weather stuff.”
One of Bilotti’s main goals is to show the Jersey Shore’s music scene, and disprove stereotypes that the Shore music scene revolves around electronica and dance.
“The shore has a misconception that it’s just like the TV Show (MTV’s Jersey Shore),” Bilotti explained. “We’ve been playing there for 10 years. It’s still the shore. There’s lots of acoustic bands and plenty of rock music going on down there.”
C.O.A.L.G. will perform at Centanni’s at 35 River Rd. in North Arlington on Feb. 28. For more information on the band, visit their website at www.coalg.com.
By Antthony Machcinski
There is a difference for people who simply have a job, and those who are passionate about that job. Kearny plaintiff attorney Kathleen Reilly is one of those passionate people.
“I actually have a passion for (being a lawyer),” Reilly said. “I love what I do, I love helping people. I love going to court and interacting with the people in court…We can make a difference in people’s lives.”
Reilly became a lawyer in 1983 when she joined a defense firm in Newark, allowing her to gain all the on-thejob experience she could ever need.
“It was a wonderful training ground,” Reilly recalled. “There were a lot of brilliant lawyers and a lot of great litigators. I had a great opportunity at a young age and got to see great lawyers in action.”
Reilly said that becoming a lawyer was always one of her goals, but added that she never had a reasoning behind it.
“I always wanted to be a lawyer,” Reilly said. “I didn’t know any (growing up). I came from a middle-class family. I thought to myself, ‘That’s what I wanted to do.’”
Reilly would complete her Bachelor’s degree from Rosemont College in Pennsylvania before getting her law degree from Seton Hall University Law School.
In 1998, Reilly started her own firm on Midland Ave. and began what has been over 15 years of service in the Kearny community.
“There is a wonderfully diverse community of people who are in need of good legal advice,” Reilly said. “We have the opportunity to help individuals, which is a really wonderful gift.”
Reilly said that she is happy to serve a “diverse” and rewarding community.
“Most of our clients are local from Harrison, Kearny, East Newark, North Arlington and Belleville and they are ethnically diverse,” Reilly explained.
What Reilly believes separates her current firm, Brady, Brady and Reilly, from other larger firms is the ability to speak to the lawyers one-on one.
“They can go to a big firm and deal with paralegals, or they can come here where they can meet and deal with their lawyer on a daily basis,” Reilly said. “We’re very hands on… We actually go to court and try cases and there’s not a lot of lawyers that do that.
Reilly joined fellow plaintiff attorney Lawrence Brady under the firm Brady, Brady and Reilly in September of 2007, where she remains today.
“I’d love to grow my firm some more,” Reilly said. “The more people we can help the better, the better off people are.”
Reilly credits her passion for her craft as the reason behind the firm’s success.
“I happen to love what I do and I feel very blessed to honor and represent my clients,” Reilly said. “I’m doing this for over 30 years, I have never looked back. I truly feel very best and I have fun doing it.”
Reilly, a mother of three, added that the job has allowed her to spend time with her children.
“It’s enabled me to spend time with (my family) then work full time and split my energies between my family and my career.”
With seven lawyers in her firm, Reilly said the firm handles a wide variety of cases, including workman’s compensation, accidents, real estate and some criminal cases. Reilly said the firm does not do divorce, and that they are “basically trial lawyers.”
For more information about Brady, Brady, and Reilly, visit their website at www.bbr-law.com. To schedule a consultation appointment, call 201- 997-0030 or e-mail the firm via their website.
This week’s ‘Then’ photo comes from a 1908 postcard, which unfortunately does not identify the photographer or the exact location, other than ‘Along the Passaic River, Arlington, N.J.’ Considering the curve in the distance, we surmised the view is from a spot south of Midland Ave. There appears to be a much narrower strip of land between the road and the river than there is now, but an online map from 1907 shows that Passaic Ave. was, indeed, that close to the riverbank. (Visit history-map.com for an incredible ‘bird’s-eye view’ of the region extending from Arlington through Harrison. How anyone who wasn’t a Wright brother got an aerial view in 1907 is a mystery. Balloon? Blimp? Sheer imagination?) The card was mailed at 3:30 p.m., March 6, 1908, from Newark and was sent by M. Wainman to Miss Mary Rodgers, 158 Kearny Ave. There is no message; just the address and signature. In those days, ‘snail mail’ was not so snailish, and people used it for quick communication. The card might well have reached Miss Rodgers by the very next morning. Interesting, too, that simple scenes from small towns were considered important enough to warrant their own postcards. – Karen Zautyk
Belleville UNICO sponsors a bus ride fundraiser to the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City on Sunday, March 9. A pre-paid donation of $30 is requested ($35 at the door). A continental breakfast will be served before the trip at 8 a.m. at the Disabled American Veterans Post, 612 Mill St. The bus will leave at 8:50 a.m. Call 973-759- 9259 to reserve seats (no last minute cancellations). Send checks, payable to IAOVC, to Gene Antonio, 436 Joralemon St., Belleville, N.J. 07109.
Belleville Boy Scout John Greco will conduct a blood drive for his Eagle Scout project on Saturday, March 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Fewsmith Presbyterian Church, 444 Union Ave. The blood drive is being held inside the auditorium of the church. (Use the side entrance on Little Str.) Greco is a Life Scout from Troop 350, sponsored by the church.
Snacks will be provided for all donors, courtesy of Walgreens. Door prizes will be drawn at random for those who have successfully donated blood.
Donors must be at least age 17; 16-year-olds must get consent from a parent or legal guardian to donate blood.
Bloomfield Public Library, 90 Broad St., hosts:
• Financial Book Club & Workshops on Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m.
• Neighbors Helping Neighbors (Job Search Support Group) on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. • Knitting Club on Fridays at 11 a.m.
• Regular Storytime series/ Preschool Storytime and Craft, for ages 3 and up, on Wednesdays at 11 a.m.
• Baby and Me Lapsit Time, for ages up to 18 months, on Thursdays at 11 a.m.
• Toddler Time Story and Craft, for ages 18 months to 3, on Fridays at 11 a.m.
There is no registration required for Storytime.
In case of inclement weather, call 973-566-6200 to check on possible cancellations.
West Hudson Brave Women Fighting Breast Cancer meets on the last Friday of every month from 7 to 9 p.m. at the East Newark Senior Center, 37 President St. The group will provide an atmosphere of warmth and comfort for patients and family. For more information, call Emma at 201-998-6828, Rosa 201-246- 7750, Fatima 973-485-4236 or email email@example.com. Together we will fight this disease.
Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., will screen these Academy Award-nominated films: “Captain Phillips” (PG- 13) (Tom Hanks), Thursday, Feb. 27, at 2 p.m.; “Gravity” (PG-13) (Sandra Bullock) Friday, Feb. 28, at 2 p.m.; and “Despicable Me 2” (PG) (Steve Carell) Saturday, March 1, at 11 a.m. All films will be shown downstairs. Popcorn and light refreshments will be served. For more information on library programs, call 201-998-2666 or visit www.kearnylibrary.org.
Kearny Community Garden invites town residents to register to join the garden on Saturday, March 1, at the Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., from noon to 2 p.m. Family membership for the entire growing season is $20.
Gardeners can also sign up Sunday, March 2, or Friday or Saturday, March 7 and 8 at the Kearny Community Garden, located on River Road, just south of Midland Ave. from, noon to 2 p.m.
Gardeners are urged to reserve garden space and bales as early as possible.
The Community Garden is also conducting a sweatshirt fundraiser through March 4. Fertilizer is the garden’s biggest and most important expense. With a little help from the community, the garden can purchase enough to get through the season. All funds raised will be paid directly to The Town of Kearny, Recreation Department for The Kearny Community Garden. To order a sweatshirt, visit https://www.booster.com/kearnycommunitygarden.
The Roosevelt School PTA will hold a fundraiser dance/ mini tricky tray on Saturday, March 1, featuring an acoustic performance by Marliana Depasquale and the Screaming Nudes duo at the Copestone Masonic Lodge, 225 Kearny Ave. Tickets are $30. B.Y.O.B. For ticket information, contact Lynn Michaels at 201-997- 8794.
A winter auction Tricky Tray, sponsored by Adoniram Court #22 Order of the Amaranth is set for Sunday, March 2, at noon at the Masonic Temple, 321 Second Ave., Lyndhurst. Requested donation is $5. For information, call 201-997-4402.
Sacred Heart Home School hosts a spring auction Tricky Tray fundraiser to benefit the school’s Margaret Engel Endowment Trust on Friday, March 14. The event will be held at the school, 620 Valley Brook Ave., Lyndhurst. Tickets are $10 per person and non-refundable. Ticket includes one sheet for first level prizes, coffee, tea and dessert. For tickets, call Patty at 201-803-9580 or the school at 201-939-4277. Ticket deadline is March 9.
Explore the history of the universe with John Sloan, director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission’s William D. McDowell Observatory, at the NJMC Science Center, 3 DeKorte Park Plaza, on Wednesday, March 5, from 3 to 4 p.m. This program is for all ages. Admission is free.
Registration is recommended and appreciated. To register, go to www.njmeadowlands.gov/ec.
For more information, call 201-460-8300.
The Lyndhurst Public Library Children’s Room, 355 Valley Brook Ave., hosts the following events:
• Children in pre-k to grade 3 are invited to create their own Mardi Gras masquerade mask on Tuesday, March 4, from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. Registration is required.
• Children in pre-k to grade 4 are invited to a screening of the movie “The Cat in the Hat Up and Away” on Wednesday, March 5, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., as part of Dr. Seuss’ birthday week observance. Registration is required.
• St. Patrick’s Day Craft for children in grades 1 to 4 is offered on Monday, March 17, from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. Advance registration is required.
To register for these programs, call the library at 201- 804-2478.
North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Rd., hosts these events:
• Clarence Ferrari, a local musician and music teacher with the Boys Club of New York, presents “A History of Irish Music,” for all ages, on Saturday, March 1, at 11 a.m.
• Celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss and Read Across America with a story time and activities for children in pre-k to grade 5 on Monday, March 3, at 4 p.m. To register, call 201- 955-5640 and leave a message.
• Amateur historian/photographer Bill Coughlin offers a New Jersey history program for all ages on Tuesday, March 18, at 6:30 p.m. This program is sponsored by the Woman’s Club of North Arlington.
American Legion Alexander Stover Post 37 meets on Tuesday, March 4, at 8 p.m. at the NAFD Engine Co. 2, 550 Schuyler Ave. All veterans are invited. For more information, call 201-214-8253.
North Arlington Elks, 129 Ridge Rd., hosts a fish fry on Wednesday, March 5, from 5 to 8 p.m. Price is $12 per dinner and includes fried or broiled fish or fried shrimp, French fries, clam chowder, baked clam and cole slaw. Shrimp cocktails and clams on the half shell are also available for $5 for half and $8 for a dozen.
Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Dr., announces the following programs:
• Play Bridge on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. No registration is required.
• Conversational ESL classes are held every Wednesday at 10 a.m. No registration is required.
• Wednesday Afternoon Knitters meets weekly at 1 p.m. Bring your own supplies.
• Story Time with Therapy Dog Rodney, open to ages 18 and under, is a one-hour program that includes a discussion with Rodney’s guardian Carol Schinski on Rodney’s role and experience as a therapy dog, plus a craft, set for Saturday, March 15, at 11 a.m. Registration is required. Only children need to be registered. Adults do not need a ticket.
Register online at the Children’s Room website at http:// nutleypubliclibrary.org/youthservices/, or call the library at 973-667-0405, ext. 2623.
The Nutley Recreation Department’s Art Workshop for grades 1 to 6 resumes March 15 for an eight-week spring session. Classes will be held on Saturdays at the department, 44 Park Ave. The fee is $30. Class size is limited and applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Register online at nutleynj.my.gov-i. com/recreation. For more information, call 973-284- 4966 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Registration is now open for the Nutley Department of Parks and Recreation spring fitness classes, including Core Cardio, Zumba, Pilates, Yoga and Positive Fitness. For dates and times and online registration, visit nutleynj.org. Applications also are available at the Recreation Department, 44 Park Ave. For further information, call 973-284-4966 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Sending three athletes to the NJSIAA Meet of Champs
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
For several years, there had always been talk about the possibility of initiating an indoor track and field program at North Arlington High School, but nothing ever seemed to come to fruition.
That was, until last year.
“There was a push to have a team from the Board of Education last year,” said John Zukatus, who has been a teacher and a track coach at North Arlington for a few years. “We had looked at the possibility last year, but it wasn’t approved until the last week of November.”
Once it was made official that the Vikings would indeed have an indoor track program this winter, the interest began to peak.
“We had 22 kids come out for the first workout,” Zukatus said. “Most of them were not playing another winter sport.”
For an NJSIAA Group I enrollment school, getting 22 kids to do anything at the same time is truly remarkable.
“We just wanted to have the kids more prepared for the outdoor season in the spring,” Zukatus said. “Having an indoor program definitely helped us. We tried to train the kids in the off-season, but it was hard without a team. This gave them a chance to train and compete.”
Travis Fisher is a North Arlington student/athlete who was in a bit of a dilemma without having a track program in the winter months.
You see, Fisher, the younger brother of 2010 Observer Female Athlete of the Year Tara Fisher, competes in the pole vault. Without a legit track program, Fisher would have been relegated to simply training with his club, Apex Vaulting Club in Fairfield, and not much else.
“It was pretty rough going into the spring without it,” Fisher said. “I was one of the people who were pushing for it. I wanted it to happen.” Sure enough, the fledgling track and field program gave Fisher an outlet.
The same goes for multisport athlete P.J. Sirotiak, who played soccer in the fall and once played baseball in the spring.
During the winter months, it was strictly training for Sirotiak with nothing to shoot for.
“I basically trained for soccer,” Sirotiak said. “That was basically it.”
And Danny Cordeiro, the soccer standout who recently signed a national letter of intent to accept a scholarship to play soccer at NJIT, used track and field as an outlet, a weapon of preparation for the soccer season.
Last spring, Cordeiro showed a major glimpse of his talents in track and field, winning the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I gold medal in the 1,600-meter run.
Without an indoor track team, Cordeiro would have perhaps become stale in the winter months, training on his own to prepare for the spring.
However, the brand new indoor track team at North Arlington has already paid its dividends, as all three aforementioned athletes are headed to the NJSIAA Meet of Champions this weekend at the Bennett Center in Toms River.
In just their first year of existence, the Vikings will get the chance to compete with all the best track athletes in New Jersey.
Cordeiro punched his ticket to the M of C the easy way by winning the gold medal in the 1,600-meter run. In fact, Cordeiro’s winning time of 1:58.29 set a new Group I meet record.
“I’m happy I won,” Cordeiro said. “I was also happy that I had a PR (personal record). I’m going to the Meet of Champions now and I’m going to do my best.”
Has the idea that Cordeiro is an overall Group I state champion sunk in?
“Maybe a little bit, but not really,” Cordeiro said. “I guess only time will tell. I thought I had a chance going in. I had the fastest time going in, but you can never be sure. I had to run my best. I try to relax before the big races and not pay attention to much else. I breathe easily and that helps me relieve stress. I just try to pay attention to the race.”
Sirotiak, who stands only 5-foot-8, was able to jump his height in finishing fifth in the Group I high jump, earning his place at the Meet of Champs.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Sirotiak said. “I’m going to jump with all the best in the state. I’m just going to try to stay in it for as long as possible.”
Fisher earned his place by clearing 11-6 in the pole vault, good for sixth place and a berth in the M of C.
“I’m really excited about it,” Fisher said. “This is giving me the opportunity to compete with the best.”
Needless to say, the coaching staff is ecstatic that the Vikings will get the chance to compete on the grand stage, in the very first year of the program.
“What they did far exceeded what we could have imagined,” Zukatus said. “We can’t ask for anything more.”
As for Cordeiro being an overall Group I state champion?
“That just makes me speechless,” Zukatus said. “We knew he was talented. He has improved a lot since last outdoor season. But to win a state championship? It’s truly amazing.”
Assistant coach Joe Cioffi, who heads the program in the spring, agreed.
“We are speechless,” Cioffi said. “That’s the best way to describe it. To have two guys take over this program and have this happen, have three kids go to the Meet of Champs? It’s unbelievable. It says our program is on the way up. We have talented kids here.”
“We have a lot to work for,” Zukatus said. “We now have to keep it going.”
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
November 14, 1970, is a day that will be forever remembered in the minds and hearts of local football fans.
Because on that fateful day, Southwest Airways Flight 932 crashed, killing 37 members of the Marshall University football team, including coaches, fans, family members and the flight crew.
It remains the biggest single tragedy in the history of collegiate athletics in this country.
It’s a memorable date, especially in these parts, because three local standouts, namely Marcel Lajterman, Ted Shoebridge and Kevin Gilmore, all perished on that flight, along with another New Jersey resident, Art Harris of Passaic.
Lajterman and Shoebridge were natives of Lyndhurst, with Gilmore the proud son of Harrison.
That fateful crash, brought back into the limelight with the release of the popular motion picture, “We Are Marshall,” starring Matthew McConaghey, in 2006, is an event that will never go away, because of the massive impact it had locally.
Throughout this year, the Meadowlands Museum, located on Crane Ave. in Rutherford, has been focusing on the sport of football and its deep roots locally.
Last Monday night, the Meadowlands Museum remembered the Thundering Herd of Marshall, especially the four local natives who lost their lives on that flight.
In a special presentation and exhibit, the Meadowlands Museum honored the memories of Lajterman, Shoebridge, Harris and Gilmore. Special plaques, featuring their faces and achievements, were on display, while several people spoke of the athletes that were lost.
Tom Longo, perhaps the greatest football player to ever come from Lyndhurst, was invited to be the guest speaker. Longo, the former Notre Dame standout who played in the NFL with the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Giants, personally knew the players from Lyndhurst who perished.
“The whole exhibit was a great success,” said Longo, who played defensive back in the NFL from 1969 through 1971. “Everyone brought their memories and it was my honor and thrill to talk about those boys. I knew them and their families. It seems like it happened yesterday. I thought that Ted Shoebridge and Art Harris were NFL prospects, Sunday players as we called them.”
Harris was a standout running back for the Thundering Herd, with Shoebridge as the starting quarterback. Lajterman was the team’s placekicker and Gilmore was a reserve running back.
“It was a big honor for me, because I remember Ted being called the next Tommy Longo,” Longo said. “I felt honored to be mentioned in the same breath.”
For some of the family members, the evening brought back good memories of their loved ones.
“I think something like this helps to keep all the boys alive,” said Tom Shoebridge, Ted’s brother and the current Lyndhurst High School track and field coach. “It’s good to have something local representing them. What happens at Marshall is one thing. No one ever forgets them there. But events like this helps to keep my brother alive here.”
Shoebridge said that he didn’t know of the exhibit until he heard from the board at the Meadowlands Museum.
“It kind of caught me by surprise,” Shoebridge said. “But it was an absolute honor to have something here in our own backyard. I just wish my Mom and Dad were here to see it.”
It was a good night for the Shoebridge family, as another brother, Terry, attended the event.
“Plus, Tommy Longo is always there for anyone in Lyndhurst,” Tom Shoebridge said. “He’s a credit to our community and our school system.”
Sharon Gilmore Catrambone, who still resides in Harrison and is a municipal employee, was also happy to represent her family and her late brother.
“It makes me feel like we’re trying to keep Kevin alive, for my children and grandchildren,” Catrambone said. “I hope this makes them realize just how great he was. They did a good job focusing on Kevin. It was very touching that they took the time to share our memories. It was a very special night. I feel honored to have been asked to be a part of it. My family feels that way as well.”
Rod Leith, Meadowlands Museum board president, was also pleased to have honored the fallen players and their families.
“We wanted to have a program of remembrance for the local fellows,” Leith said. “It worked out very well. Tom Longo as the key speaker was a big help. He spoke of his personal relationships with the players. I really felt it was a strong way to help bring back the memories.”
Leith said having Longo was a huge plus.
“He’s a class act and was very important to this exhibit,” Leith said. “He brings a lot to the table. We’re fortunate to always have Tom’s participation.”
“I wanted to be involved,” Longo said. “Some of these guys were from my hometown of Lyndhurst. It was very good for the families to talk. It’s good to give them recognition.”
Mo Lajterman, who also went on to become a standout placekicker like his brother, spoke on behalf of the Lajterman family. Both Lajterman and Shoebridge’s football uniform numbers have been retired by Lyndhurst High School.
Leith said that the Meadowlands Museum has been scheduling events that appeal to local residents.
“We’re trying to put the museum back on the map again,” said Leith, who watched the rebirth of the Meadowlands Museum last August after being closed for a spell. “We’ve been getting a lot of visitors.” To coincide with the Super Bowl coming to MetLife Stadium, the museum held a Historic Schoolboy Football Exhibit, with several pieces of pertinent memorabilia, rare photos and other artifacts featuring local high school football standouts from the 1920s through the 1960s, like Vince Lombardi, Augie Lio, Bob DeMarco, Jack Tatum and Stan Walters, the latter three all having played in the Super Bowl.
The exhibit was on display throughout Super Bowl week as well as the month of February.
So the Meadowlands Museum did a fine thing honoring the local members of that horrific plane crash and remembering them with their families.
For more on the Meadowlands Museum, log on to www. meadowlandsmuseum.com
Belleville crowns three district champs
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Nutley had captured the last two NJSIAA District 14 wrestling championships, but Maroon Raiders head coach Frank DiPiano didn’t know whether his team could make it a “three-peat.”
“We knew we could be rebuilding a little,” DiPiano said. “I thought if we wrestled well, we had a chance. The last couple of years, we knew we had a really good shot. But this year, we had so much inexperience. That’s why I wasn’t so sure we could win again.”
The inexperienced Maroon Raiders made their coach very proud, winning their third straight District 14 championship Saturday, holding off challenges from runner-up Bloomfield and third place Belleville.
“It’s definitely the most gratifying of the three,” DiPiano said. “The kids all stepped up and did well.”
The Maroon Raiders crowned two champions and will send eight wrestlers to the Region 4 championships this week at West Orange.
Sophomore Robert Duxbury won the 106-pound District 14 gold medal. The Maroon Raider sophomore, who was not even part of the varsity lineup last year, pinned Pablo Estevez of Bloomfield in the title bout.
“He’s focused and wrestled to his style,” DiPiano said of Duxbury, who improved his record to 29-4 with the title win. “His work ethic carried him. He’s a hard-nosed kid who just loves to wrestle.”
Junior Joe Ferinde won the 120-pound class with a pin of Tyreek Staton of Montclair, improving his record to an astounding 32-0 entering Region 4.
“He has a lot of quality wins this season,” DiPiano said. “He’s beaten some kids who have already won at the state championships (in Atlantic City). He’s zoned in and loves to wrestle. I’ve watched him get so much better during the course of the season. He controls the things he can. He does his work in the classroom, then goes to wrestle. He’s in control and he’s battle tested.”
Kenny Pena finished second at 126 pounds and his cousin, Darwin Pena, was the runner
Steve Scuttaro was second at 138 pounds and heavyweight Adam Touah was the silver medal winner in the heavyweight division.
“We wrestled a tougher schedule this year and I think that paid off,” DiPiano said. “That’s the reason why we won this district tournament. We faced teams like High Point, DePaul, Watchung Hills and that only helped us get better. The young kids got better, stepped up and helped this team win.”
DiPiano said that the senior Scuttaro took a step up in weight class at 138 pounds and still managed to finish second.
“It was his choice,” DiPiano said. “He had a better route to get to the state tournament in that class. He’s been in our program for four years and we’re trying to reward him with a trip to Atlantic City.”
Kenny Pena battled back from a shoulder injury that forced him to miss most of the regular season.
The Maroon Raiders will also send third-place consolation winners Gerard D’Alessio (170 pounds) and Sabino Coppola (195) to the Region 4 championships.
Belleville, under first-year head coach Emilio “Junior” Nardone, will send six wrestlers on to Region 4, including three Buccaneer wrestlers who earned District 14 gold.
Nardone, the two-time state champion during his schoolboy days, was selected as the District 14 Coach of the Year in his first season.
Jordan Greene won the 160-pound championship with a 9-4 win over Joey Zarro of Livingston.
Nick Nardachone won the 195-pound gold medal with a 10-3 win over Benjamin Panza of Montclair.
And Edwin Gaines won the 225-pound title with a pin of Marquise Roberts of Montclair in 2:32.
Jose Vergara was the runnerup in the 152-pound class and Luis Ovando (113 pounds) and Tien Le (heavyweight) finished third to earn a berth at the regions.
Josh Guerrero of Kearny was the lone Kardinal wrestler to move on out of District 16. He finished third in the 126-pound class at the tourney held at North Bergen High School.
The Lyndhurst/North Arlington program sent three wrestlers on to the Region 2 tournament, which will be held at Bergen County Community College for the first time.
Joey Morreale was second in the 145-pound class at District 15 in Clifton. Matt DeMarco was second in the 182-pound class for Lyndhurst/North Arlington, while Corey LeClerc finished third in the 113-pound class.