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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 […]

 

9 Nutley home burglaries solved, cops say

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They got the accused burglars but, unfortunately, none of the loot.

Nutley police said they’ve broken a string of residential burglaries, dating from late 2013, involving nine separate cases throughout the township, with the arrests of seven suspects.

On March 21, Nutley PD, working with Rutherford PD, arrested Wayne resident Steven Benedek, 61, on charges of burglary to three Nutley residences: one on Edison Ave. on Dec. 19, 2013; one on HIghfield Lane on Dec. 20, 2013; and one on Kingsland Ave. on Jan. 31.

Police said Benedek has a long history of burglary arrests in Nutley dating from 1972 and 1973. Read more »

Siblings busted by KPD

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By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent

KEARNY –

An investigation that began in late February has resulted in the arrest of two Kearny brothers on drug and weapons charges, Kearny Police Chief John Dowie reported last week.

Dowie said the probe was launched after Vice Unit detectives developed information that drugs were being sold out of a residence on the 200 block of Chestnut St. Patrol units had also been called to the location in response to disorderly-conduct complaints from neighbors, Dowie said.

After surveillance and inquiries, detectives reportedly confirmed the sales and learned the occupants were allegedly in possession of at least one firearm.

On March 20, police applied to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office for a probable cause, no-knock search warrant, which was granted and authorized by Superior Court Judge Fred Theemling. Read more »

DNA helps nab ‘Manor’ suspect

By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent

Photo courtesy KPD Carlos Camacho

Photo courtesy KPD
Carlos Camacho

KEARNY –

A series of 2013 burglaries in the Manor section of town has been solved thanks to DNA evidence collected at one of the crime scenes, Kearny Police Chief John Dowie reported.

The suspect, already incarcerated in the Essex County Jail, has a criminal history dating to 1996, Dowie said. The break-ins occurred last summer and were concentrated in the residential area west of Kearny Ave., between Bennett Ave. and the Belleville Turnpike. Kearny police increased their uniformed and plainclothes presence in the neighborhood and were also making vacant-house checks.

“In one of the cases, the detailed crime-scene processing paid off,” the chief said.

Lt. Anthony Gouveia, checking a house whose owners were on vacation, discovered a break-in, advised headquarters and secured the scene. Dets. Ray Lopez and Stephen Podolski responded and collected DNA specimens, which were sent to the N.J. State Police lab for processing.

“We were notified recently that the DNA belonged to a career criminal with an extensive burglary history,” Dowie reported last week.

The suspect was identified as 45-year-old Carlos Camacho, who was found to be a current inhabitant of the Essex County Jail, having been charged in connection with a recent Newark robbery, police said. Read more »

Thoughts & Views: In harm’s way around the world

Anja Niedringhaus

Anja Niedringhaus

These days, when we’re used to getting our news so easily on the internet, we tend not to think twice about the degree of difficulty that may have been involved for the news-gatherer to get that story or photographer to snap that image.

Especially if the coverage of that particular event is being done in countries where guarantees of press freedoms are unheard of and journalists are targeted for threats or physical confrontations.

Such was the case last Friday, April 4, when an Afghan police commander shot and killed Anja Niedringhaus, a 48-year-old Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer for the Associated Press, and badly wounded AP reporter Kathy Gannon as they were preparing to cover the national elections in that country.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide and which has tracked attacks on news employees, has logged 703 journalists murdered globally since 1992. Read more »

News from the KPD blotter

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March 28

At 11:20 a.m., Officers Ben Wuelfing and Vanessa Sevillano were dispatched to the 700 block of Forest St. to assist a Hudson County court officer with an eviction order. When the occupant of the residence, Jacquelin Nurkette, was advised that she would have to vacate the premises, she became hostile, threatened the officers, and then resisted being cuffed, police said.

Nurkette was charged with contempt of court, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Read more »

Logged on the Lyndhurst Police blotter

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March 26

At 2:03 a.m., police began pursuit of a vehicle traveling northbound on Summit Ave. after the driver made a sharp left turn onto Sixth St. and came to a stop at Jackson Place. The driver, Frank Erminio, 49, of Lyndhurst, was charged with DWI and reckless driving. He was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia (a purple fold with a white powdered residue suspected of being cocaine), possession of drugs and possession of drugs in a motor vehicle.

At 3:48 a.m., police found two males sitting in a vehicle parked in a lot in the 300 block of Valley Brook Ave. After learning that the driver, Jonathan Loewing, 20, of Manchester, was wanted on a $350 arrest warrant out of Point Pleasant, police arrested Loewing on the warrant. He was also charged with hindering after he allegedly gave police a false name. Read more »

News from the Nutley Police blotter

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March 30

At about midnight, police were called to a Franklin Ave. location on a report of a hazardous condition. The caller told police the parking lot in front of a building was flooding, causing two to three inches of water to leak into the basement where, it was feared, the water could damage a boiler. The Fire Department responded and was advised by the building supervisor to shut it down, which they did. Fire officials told the supervisor to contact PSE&G to activate the boiler after the water is removed from the basement. At 6:06 a.m., police and fire personnel went to a Union Ave. residential building on a report of a carbon monoxide alarm. After confirming readings of CO inside the building, the Fire Dept. alerted PSE&G which remedied the problem. All tenants were notified of the situation, police said.

At 9:29 p.m., an attendant at a Franklin Ave. gas station contacted police to report he’d been assaulted by a customer. Police said the attendant told them that while pumping gas into a vehicle, he slipped, causing the nozzle to strike the vehicle, at which point, the driver – described as a bald, heavyset white male — exited a dark colored Hummer and hit the attendant once with a closed fist in the left side of his head and then drove away. Police said the attendant declined medical attention. Police said a review of the station’s video surveillance tape confirmed the altercation. Police then broadcast an alert to surrounding police agencies with no result.

March 31

At 9:08 a.m., police received a report of criminal mischief at a Franklin Ave. location. The owner of a vehicle parked on the block told police that during the night, someone had smashed his front windshield.

April 1

At 2:01 a.m., police said they found a vehicle with its windows heavily fogged and a male sleeping in the passenger seat while the vehicle was parked in a lot on Monsignor DeLuca Place. The occupant, Ashton Ailey, 23, of Howell, was arrested after police learned he had two outstanding warrants from Howell. He was released after posting bail and advised to contact Howell for a new court date.

At 6:54 p.m., a Washington Ave. resident called police to report the theft of a white wicker table valued at $200 from a backyard patio.

April 2

At 10:45 a.m., police received a report of criminal mischief at a Park Ave. location. Police said the victim told them that while they were at their landscaping storage area, someone cracked the windshield on a C5500 Chevrolet truck, causing $300 in damages, and had also tampered with the fuel tank on their Bobcat Skidsteer on two different occasions, causing a total of $931 in damages.

Also at 10:45 a.m., a burglary to an auto was reported at Bloomfield Ave. and High St. Police said someone cut out and removed the plow controls from the interior of a vehicle while it was parked on the property. Damage was estimated at about $500. Police are reviewing surveillance tape from the area.

At 4:46 p.m., police responded to a Franklin Ave. location on a report of a vehicle’s damaged rear window. The owner told police their car was parked at that location, opposite the Middle School, when his rear window was struck by a baseball, shattering it. Police said the ball had been hit over the fence during a practice being held by the high school baseball team. The owner was advised to contact the Board of Education.

– Ron Leir

 

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Delivery is available. To schedule delivery, call (973) 485-9478.

Natural wonders nearby at DeKorte Park

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Photos courtesy NJMC At DeKorte Park’s shoreboard pool, visitors may spot a Black-crowned Night Heron (middle) or a Snowy Egret (bottom.).

Photos courtesy NJMC
At DeKorte Park’s shoreboard pool, visitors may spot a Black-crowned Night Heron (middle) or a Snowy Egret (bottom.).

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

Area residents searching for a way to shed winter’s cabin fever don’t need to search far and wide for an opportunity to surround themselves in nature.

At DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst, headquarters of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, nature-lovers from near and far can enjoy the wonders of nature, without having to travel far from their homes.

“DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst is really wonderful,” said NJMC Public Information Officer Brian Aberback. “It’s a true urban ecosystem.”

The NJMC was created in 1969 as an organization that sought to clean the meadowlands and clear the Hackensack River area of orphaned landfills and pollution.

Nearly 45 years later, the NJMC has advanced the cause, with the Hackensack River showing signs of revitalization.

“It wasn’t a pretty place,” said Aberback of the meadowlands in 1969. “This was a time when the Meadows was a wasteland. A regional organization was needed to do the proper cleanup.”

DeKorte Park itself, located at the eastern end of Valley Brook Ave. off Disposal Road, was created in 1982 to give the NJMC a headquarters that would draw “a line in the sand” to save more open wildlife space.

“We saved all this wonderful space from becoming a dumping ground,” said NJMC Communications Officer Jim Wright. “This was the line in the sand where you couldn’t build anymore.”

In total, DeKorte Park spans 110 acres of open wetland, filled with the unique mesh of ever-expanding wildlife and the constantly-growing New York City skyline.

“It’s an urban ecosystem,” Aberback explained. “If you’re driving on the Turnpike, you don’t catch the image (of the Meadowlands). It’s really neat because you’re in the middle of nowhere. You can see the Turnpike in the distance but you can never really hear it.”

Over the past few decades as the river has transitioned “from wasteland to economic jewel,” the park has grown, both in design and in wildlife.

“When the landfills got cleaned, the Hackensack River started getting cleaner,” Aberback said. “Over time, that brought back fish, birds and other wildlife back to the area.”

He continued, “You would never see all the animals that are here today, even like 15 years ago. Things just keep getting cleaner. Compared to what it used to be, it’s really incredible.”

According to Aberback, the park is home to over 280 different species of birds, many that have recently returned to the area with the river’s revitalization.

“DeKorte Park – like the entire Meadowlands District – is located along the Atlantic flyway, one of three major routes used by migratory birds in North America,” Aberback explained.

Wright added, “This is a great place to go birding. Recently, we had 20 people out here looking for the Yellowheaded Blackbird.”

Throughout the years, the park has received dozens of awards for its design, including a Merit Award for Communication from the American Society of Landscape Architects, New Jersey (NJASLA) for signage throughout the park and a Merit Award for Design for the World Trade Center Memorial at the park.

Aberback credits the park’s designers on the awards and the park’s consistent beauty.

“The award-winning park was designed by the NJMC’s certified landscape architects, who worked closely with wetlands scientists, wildlife specialists, and solid waste engineers,” Aberback explained. “Six distinct areas have been developed over 20 years using native plants, recycled materials and sustainable techniques to support the agency’s environmental mandate.”

The park features over 3.5 miles of trails, allowing parkgoers to delve deeper into nature, either by themselves or in guided tours.

However, walking through the park isn’t the only way to experience nature at DeKorte.

During the summer, the NJMC runs boat trips out of River Barge Park in Carlstadt that take visitors throughout the Meadowlands including past DeKorte Park.

“It’s a great way to explore the river,” Aberback said. “We mostly do them during sunset on weekdays throughout the summer. It’s just a great way to see the river.”

Even after sunset, the park continues to provide natural entertainment, with the William D. McDowell Observatory.

The observatory allows stargazers to study planets, constellations and other celestial bodies through a research-grade, highpowered telescope and staff explains what the viewer is seeing.

Aberback said that, regardless of the season, he enjoys being in the park.

“It seems like I always discover something new when I’m out in the park,” Aberback explained. “It can be a bird I’ve never seen before or a flower that I may have passed dozens of times but caught my eye.”

Aberback’s not alone in enjoying the park, as he noted that more than 50,000 people – including 15,000 schoolchildren – visit the park on a yearly basis.

Above everything else, Aberback believes it’s the park’s blend of rural and urban visuals that attracts many of the park’s visitors.

“Overall, it’s the beauty and tranquility of the place,” Aberback said. “When you look and see the Turnpike and the Manhattan skyline in the distance, it’s hard to believe you’re so close, yet so far removed from the daily hustle and bustle. It’s a truly amazing place.”

For more information on DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst, or any of the other NJMC parks, visit www.njmeadowlands. gov. The park is open from dawn until dusk every day. The William D. McDowell Observatory is open in the evenings, from 8 to 10 p.m. in April, 8:30 to 10 p.m. in May; from 9 to 10:30 p.m. in June and July; and from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. in August.

Business Review: Comforting the bereaved for 6 decades

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Photos by Anthony Machcinski Interior and exterior of Mulligan Funeral Home.

Photos by Anthony Machcinski
Interior and exterior of Mulligan Funeral Home.

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

Since the late 1800s, the Mulligan family has served generations of Harrison residents. The last three generations of Mulligans, including Frank Mulligan III, have served Harrison through Mulligan Funeral Home.

“It means a lot to me to carry on my family’s legacy,” explained Mulligan III. “It means a lot to carry on the name and I hope they’re proud of me.”

The Mulligan family name is embedded deep within the roots of Harrison. John Mulligan, an Irish immigrant, came to Harrison and opened a coal and ice business on Harrison Ave. His son, Aloysius Mulligan, built the original home and his doctor’s office at 331 Cleveland Ave., and was soon followed by his son in the family practice.

In 1946, Frank Mulligan Sr. was en route to continuing the family doctor’s practice, but was unable to continue his education following World War II. With several credits completed, Mulligan Sr. was able to attend mortuary school in New York City under the G.I. Bill and later opened Mulligan’s Funeral Home.

Since then the Mulligan family business has remained at the same Cleveland Ave. location. Frank Sr.’s son, Frank Jr., and his late wife Judith purchased the business upon his father’s retirement in 1982.

Mulligan III started working at the funeral home in high school, helping people around the funeral home; however, he never intended to get into the family business.

After obtaining a degree in oceanography from the University of Rhode Island and finding that the job wasn’t really for him, he began working as an intern at the funeral home and discovered his true passion, helping others in a time of need.

“At first, I didn’t think you could find satisfaction in such a job or vocation,” Mulligan explained. “I saw that there was satisfaction in helping people through a tough time in their lives. That was something that attracted me to it.”

Mulligan explained that in order to help the bereaved, he and his staff have to toe the line between comforting and focusing on their job.

“You want to identify with them, but you have a job to do and you want to make it the best experience you can for them,” Mulligan said.

Mulligan said what is most rewarding, is the gratitude he receives from families after the services.

“When the funeral is over and the people tell you that you made the experience that much better, that’s the satisfaction,” Mulligan said. “We try to treat the family as if they were like our own and guide them through the decisions that they have to make.”

While Mulligan may not have expected to become a funeral director, he believes that carrying on the family’s legacy is a great honor.

“It means more to me now than I ever thought it would,” Mulligan explained. “I wasn’t really thinking of that when I wanted to be an oceanographer. As I got older, there’s no better honor that can be bestowed upon me (than to carry on the family’s tradition).”

He continued, “I realized carrying on the family’s name is huge because so many funeral homes over the years have sold out to larger corporations. Although the name continues, there’s no one in the funeral home with that name. It’s a big honor to carry on the name.”

As for the future of the business, Mulligan hopes to continue building on the family’s legacy.

“I plan on carrying on my family’s name and always thought of expanding,” Mulligan said. “But for now, I hope to serve families in the West Hudson and surrounding areas with the highest level of dignity and respect the best way that we can.”

Mulligan Funeral Home is located at 331 Cleveland Ave. in Harrison. For more information, visit the website at www.mulliganfuneralhome.org or call 973-481-4333.