This week’s e-Edition and classifieds are now posted. We apologize for the delay.
By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – Take away the “acting” title: the Kearny Board of Education has formally installed Patricia Blood as its official superintendent of schools. The board took the action at a special meeting held last Thursday night at the Lincoln School. The vote was […]
By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent KEARNY – On May 27, 1922, an estimated 25,000 people gathered in the streets around the small park where Kearny Ave. and Beech St. meet, to witness Gen. John J. Pershing personally dedicate the towering granite monument honoring the Kearny men who died […]
A photo (above) of the suspect van was released Nov. 19 by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. NUTLEY – Nutley police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating the motor vehicle that struck and killed a 77-year-old woman on Centre St. on […]
By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent HARRISON – At Washington Middle School in Harrison, nearly 75% of the more than 400 enrolled are just as busy with school-related projects after 3 p.m. as they are during their regular day of classes. And that’s partly by design of the school […]
By Ron Leir
One of Kearny’s few remaining longstanding retailers is closing.
Mace Bros. Fine Furniture, whose showroom has occupied the southeast corner of Oakwood and Kearny Aves. for 62 years, plans to discontinue all sales by year’s end, store owner Diane Miller said last week.
However, Miller added, “We’ll be here for another year” to be available to customers who’ve made purchases with one-year warranties to take care of any issues that may arise in connection with the items they’ve bought.
That’s the kind of service patrons have come to expect from Mace over the years and that’s certainly one of the reasons those patrons or members of their families – even those who’ve moved out of town – have kept returning to shop for that exquisite sofa or dining set.
“In all these years, we’ve never advertised,” Miller noted. “I’d say 85% of our sales resulted from word-of-mouth business.”
So why call it quits? “It’s time,” Miller said. “I’m here 43 years – when my aunt Ruth [O’Connor] retired, I came over.” Miller’s daughter Michele also works at the store. And so does her mother, Lillian Mace, who, with her husband Rich, opened the store in 1952 – with a moving business on the side, run by Rich’s brother Vince – so it’s always been a family-run enterprise.
But a combination of high overhead at the company’s two warehouse properties on the west side of town and local real estate taxes have taken their toll, Miller said.
“We’ve been trying to sell our warehouses for the past four or five years and we’ve had prospective buyers – one was a ceramics company and another repaired motors – but the town has another concept for that redevelopment area,” Miller said. “They’re making houses the preferred use.”
“Small businesses are having a tough time today,” she continued. “And Kearny was built on small businesses but a lot of them are barely making it. There’s got to be a way to help them. We love our governor and he’s trying to do his best but we all have to work to make it better.”
Mace Bros. has sought to buy “mostly American-made” merchandise, Miller said, but the industry has changed in recent years, with a lot of the old North Carolina-based furniture manufacturers having been supplanted by Asian and Canadian markets.
The company, Miller said, is still trying to market its warehouse buildings – a 22,000 square foot facility at Passaic and Johnston Aves. and a 16,000 square foot facility at Lincoln Ave. and Belgrove Drive, while plans for the three and a half-story main showroom on Kearny Ave. are unsettled for the time being.
Of late, she said, the store has been operating with between 20 and 25 employees, including retail sales, billing and bookkeeping, and trucking.
Over time, the store has made a conscious effort “to try to get people from the area” as its work force and, as Lillian pointed out, a good portion of the store’s personnel have stayed a long time.
Mother and daughter both extended thanks “to the people of Kearny” for their loyalty to the store. “And the members of the Police Department and Fire Department have been exceptional,” Miller added.
Lillian, who came to Kearny as a child, remembers when her father, “Pop” Mace, ran a moving business that specialized in relocating folks to New York City and “turned two trucks over to Rich and Vince.”
After her graduation from the Traphagen School of Design in New York, where she studied art, she got a job at the old Western Electric plant in Kearny where she handled payroll and cost accounting duties. “I was always good in math,” she said. “And I’m a good painter.”
A bit later, she brought her layout and business skills to the Mace Bros. furniture showroom and she’s been at it ever since, although now it’s slowed a bit to weekly visits to the store.
“We’ve had a lot of fun here with our customers and employees,” she said.
By Karen Zautyk
Two township youngsters were reported to be recovering from injuries sustained when they were struck by automobiles in separate incidents — one on Oct. 31; the second, last Wednesday. Police said both victims had been jaywalking when they were hit.
The first accident occurred at 12:26 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 31, near 495 Kearny Ave., south of Oakwood Ave., in the vicinity of Lincoln School.
According to police, a 12-year-old boy had been attempting to cross Kearny Ave. from east to west when he was hit by a southbound car.
Police said the youth sustained minor injuries. He was transported for treatment to Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville by Kearny EMS.
No summonses were issued to the driver, an 82-year-old man from Beach Haven.
At the time of the accident, police said, a crossing guard was on duty at Kearny and Oakwood, where there is also a traffic light, but the boy apparently chose to enter the roadway “well south of the intersection.”
The second accident was reported at 8:15 a.m., Nov. 5, when an 11-year-old girl was struck by a northbound car in the area of 134 Belgrove Dr., near Washington School.
Police said the child, crossing Belgrove from west to east, had apparently entered the northbound lane after walking behind southbound cars that were stopped in traffic.
The victim sustained injuries to her right leg, arm and upper body and was taken to University Hospital in Newark. Police said none of the injuries was considered life-threatening.
The car that hit the girl was taken to KPD headquarters “for investigative and inspectional purposes,” but the driver, a 47-year-old Kearny woman, was not issued any summonses.
According to police, witnesses confirmed “that the pedestrian entered the roadway in an unsafe manner.”
Police said that in this incident there was also a controlled intersection, with a crossing guard, nearby — at Belgrove and Woodland Ave.
Police Chief John Dowie emphasized that the KPD Traffic Bureau “constantly monitors” the area of schools, enforces violations and ensures that “crossing guards are properly positioned.” In addition, he noted, the officers provide safety lectures to students, speak to PTA groups and school administrators regarding traffic and pedestrian laws and have fielded pedestrian safety details throughout town.
By Ron Leir
To plug a deficit in its water utility account, the Town of Kearny proposes to hike water rates for local homes and businesses, starting Dec. 1.
The municipal governing body voted Oct. 19 to introduce an ordinance that would boost those rates, by 8% for residential users to 12% for local industries.
And, barring any major objections, the mayor and Town Council are expected to adopt the new rates at a public hearing slated for Nov. 12 at 7 p.m.
For an “average” single-family homeowner who pays about $50 every three months, that water bill figures to go to $54 per quarter, according to Mayor Alberto Santos. That would translate to $16 more per year.
Santos said the fiscal monitor the state assigned to Kearny as a condition for awarding the town $2.5 million in transitional aid for 2014 recommended pushing up the rates as a mechanism for the water utility to balance expenses with revenues.
Reinforcing the monitor’s proposal is a recommendation contained in the town’s 2013 audit – prepared by accountant Steven Wielkotz of the firm Ferraioli, Wielkotz, Cerullo & Cuva – to “take the necessary steps to ensure the water utility operating fund is self-liquidating and to fund the current year’s operating deficit.”
Given the recurring deficits in recent years, the town has been compelled to make up the gap with money from its municipal budget.
Data provided by town CFO Shuaib Firozvi shows that for the past five years, including 2014, the water utility will have been subsidized by the town. In 2011, the utility ended up $463,000 in the red and this year, it will show an imbalance of more than $900,000, he said.
The largest chunk of the utility’s expenses is the town’s contractual obligation to its water provider, the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission, of which Kearny is a member, along with 11 other municipalities and United Water of N.J.
In return for receiving 13 million gallons a day of water from the Wanaque Reservoir, Kearny is paying the NJDWSC an annual fee of $3,763,000. For 2013, the fee was $3,765,000 and for 2012, it was $3,821,000.
However, according to Santos, Kearny only consumes about half the amount of water it gets from the NJDWSC so when the utility sends out its water bills (under a contract with United Water), it invariably lags in revenues for lack of sufficient customers.
Part of the problem, Santos said, is that the town has to deal with an “historical legacy of many local industries that relied on an intensive use of water.” But with a number of those old plants no longer around, Kearny has struggled to find replacement water customers.
For a while, the utility was selling part of its water “surplus” to Nutley and Cedar Grove but when they discontinued using the water a few years ago, that alone accounted for a $500,000 loss of revenue, Firozvi said.
“We were in negotiations with Montclair as a potential water customer,” Firozvi said, “but that never materialized.”
The utility also has to meet other expenses, such as payroll for an engineer and a small staff, billing and collection services, water quality testing and maintenance of water lines. In recent years, the town has undertaken emergency repairs of leaks and breaks in lines and expensive upgrading of aging water mains.
Santos said the town is looking to find a way to renegotiate its contract with the NJDWSC to achieve some type of cost savings and is continuing to explore opportunities to snag other outside water customers.
The town last raised water rates in 2012.
Santos said the utility should receive new revenues from new residential and commercial developments now under way “but that’s still a couple of years away.”
For the record, here’s what the ordinance stipulates what the town proposes to charge residential, commercial and manufacturing water users:
“A rate of $2.43 per 100 cubic feet for use not exceeding 18,000 cubic feet.
A rate of $3.14 per 100 cubic feet for use in excess of 18,000 cubic [feet], but not exceeding 75,000 cubic feet. A rate of $3.64 per 100 cubic feet for use in excess of 75,000 cubic feet.
The minimum quarterly charge shall be $20.
Hydrant or standpipe use shall be charged $78.75 per use.”
A Nutley man is being held as a suspected serial “snatch and grab” thief allegedly linked to nearly 30 thefts in 12 communities spread over eight counties in New Jersey.
Anthony Cervino, 43, was arrested Nov. 5 in Parsippany after police say he was caught running from a store with stolen merchandise by detectives from the Wayne Police Department and the Paramus Police Department.
Police said Cervino was observed parking his Toyota 4Runner in the fire lane in a shopping center in front of a Modell’s Sporting Goods store. Police said he entered the store and, about 45 seconds later, ran out with an armful of Nike hoodies. After hearing the store security sensors sounding, police said they collared Cervino as he was about to enter the parked Toyota.
Questioning the suspect, police said they were able to connect him to “over 28 snatch and grab thefts” in multiple jurisdictions throughout the state dating from Aug. 4, 2014. As of last week, he has been charged with the theft of “an armful” of North Face jackets valued at more than $2,800 from the Ski Barn store on Rt. 23 North in Wayne at 8 p.m. on Oct. 15 and has also been charged in connection with thefts in Paramus and East Brunswick.
After sending out a TRAKS message to surrounding police jurisdictions and retailers, police said they were notified by the Sports Authority stores that the suspect posted in the message appears to have used the same M.O. – keeping his car (believed to be a blue Toyota 4Runner) running in the fire lane and stealing North Face jackets – in multiple thefts at their retail outlets, most recently on Oct. 16 in Secaucus.
During an investigation led by Wayne PD, in consultation with detectives from various jurisdictions, police traced the alleged suspect’s vehicle to Cervino and set up surveillance on the suspect, leading to the arrest in Parsippany.
According to Wayne Det. Capt. Mark McGrath, Cervino has been lilnked to nine thefts in Paramus, four in Woodbridge, three in Clifton, two in each of East Brunswick and East Hanover and one apiece in Union, Secaucus, Springfield, Brick, Parsippany and Wayne.
Cervino is bloodied in the mug shot supplied by Wayne PD, because he has visible sores on his face and a staph infection and when detectives “had him face down on the sidewalk as they were handcuffing him … Cervino turned his head and scraped his forehead on the sidewalk which caused the bleeding,” McGrath said.
He was treated by paramedics but when he removed a bandage, it began to bleed again, McGrath said. Cervino is currently being held at the Passaic County Jail on $20,000 bail, pending court action.
– Ron Leir
The poem that accompanies this column was found among the papers of the late Luke A. Kenney of Nutley. I recently wrote about him after his daughter, Pat Rush, donated the former Army sergeant’s World War I uniform to the Nutley Museum.
Rush is not certain her father composed the verse, but I have not been able to find any evidence of another poet.
In any case, when I read it, I knew I wanted to use it for Veterans Day because, although written specifically about the veterans of World War I, it is — unfortunately — timeless.
On Tuesday, small groups will gather at various war memorials to remember American vets, living and dead, and to thank them for their service. But the number of those paying honor will, sadly, be minuscule. How quickly we forget.
Worse, over the generations, we have tended — after the welcome-home parades were over — to ignore the needs of those who served. Some vets never even got that parade.
As Kenney’s post-WWI poem notes, “future care” was promised. But the pledges were abjured, recanted, retracted. If you think that criticism is no longer valid, consider the recent scandal surrounding the VA medical system.
Today, veterans’ organizations have launched their own programs to offer counseling and job support to the men and women returning from deployment, and groups like Wounded Warriors are doing yeoman work. But despite all this, I wonder how many do not seek help, and who see themselves as “discards.”
The Great War troops, who came home to adulation, were eventually selling apples on the streets. There is one story that personalizes the “discards” description as it applied to them:
In 1918, during the Meuse- Argonne offensive, Lt. Col. George S. Patton lay gravely wounded in a battlefield shellhole. Braving heavy German machine-gun fire, a soldier named Joe Angelo dragged him to safety, saving the life of the future four-star general. For his heroism, Angelo (who hailed from Camden, N.J.) was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Patton later said that Angelo was “without doubt the bravest man in the American Army. I have never seen his equal.”
In 1932, Joe Angelo was among 43,000 people — 17,000 of them World War I veterans — who marched on Washington to demand payment of bonus money the government had promised the vets, most of whom were unemployed and struggling with Great Depression poverty. The Bonus Army, including the men’s wives and children, set up camps in the capital, where they lived for several weeks. But then these were destroyed in an infamous action by the U.S. Army.
Infantry and cavalry led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, himself a veteran of the Great War, drove the men, women and children from sites and burned their shelters and belongings. MacArthur’s troops were supported by six tanks, commanded by Maj. George S. Patton.
The following day, in an attempt to plead the case of his fellow marchers, Joe Angelo personally approached the officer whose life he had saved. Ordering his minions to take Angelo away, Patton declared: “I do not know this man.”
When I read that account, I immediately thought of Peter.
“But he began to curse and to swear, saying, ‘I know not this man . . .’” (Mark 14:71,72)
According to biographer Stanley Hirshson, Patton later told his fellow officers that, since the war, he and his mother had often given Angelo money and “set him up in business several times.” He explained his conduct thusly:
“Can you imagine the headlines if the papers got word of our meeting here this morning? Of course, we’ll take care of him anyway.”
I hope that was the case.
Peter repented. Did Patton?
– Karen Zautyk
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
To the editor:
Children who start their school day without a healthy meal are much less likely to have the nutrition they need to concentrate and learn. With growing poverty in New Jersey, “breakfast after the bell” is one of the most effective ways to battle childhood hunger.
Last school year, Hudson County jumped from 14th to fourth place in the state school breakfast participation rankings. School leaders in districts like East Newark and Harrison are all serving more than half of low-income children breakfast at school – and increasing the federal dollars their districts receive to feed hungry students. We applaud their efforts.
We encourage districts that have yet to switch to “breakfast after the bell” — especially Kearny — to implement this simple change. Districts that have implemented “breakfast after the bell” routinely report that logistical challenges are easily overcome and classroom breakfast becomes part of the morning routine. Not only do hungry children benefit, but the entire school community reaps the rewards of ensuring that every child begins the school day with a full stomach.
Advocates for Children of New Jersey, Newark
Co-chair of the NJ Food for Thought School Breakfast Campaign
After five reports of burglary to motor vehicles during the past week, Nutley PD issued a public advisory recommending that all residents lock their vehicles when not in use. In an incident reported on Nov. 1, the owner of a vehicle parked on Highland Lane told HQ that when they were about to enter their unlocked car, they noticed that the driver’s side door was slightly ajar and that items valued at $800 were removed from the vehicle.
Four other burglaries were reported on Nov. 7.
On that date, police said two separate auto entries occurred on Valley Road. In one incident, the owner said various items were taken and acknowledged that the car may have been left unsecured. In the other, the owner said that paperwork and several items were found scattered throughout the vehicle’s interior but found no sign of forced entry.
At a Bloomfield Ave. location, someone opened an unlocked vehicle and removed prescription papers and more than $200 in change and cash.
And, on Prospect St., a caller told police that they found their black Chevrolet SUV with its driver’s side door halfway open but no items removed. Police said there were no signs of forced entry.
Aside from the auto burglaries, between Nov. 1 and Nov. 7, Nutley PD responded to 21 motor vehicle accidents, 17 disputes, 17 suspicious incidents/ persons and the following incidents:
Police arrested Walter Bell, 67, of Hopatcong, on River Road after conducting a plate inquiry and learned that Bell was wanted on a warrant from Hackettstown. Bell was released, pending court action, after posting bail.
PSE&G reported an attempted burglary at their property near Cook Road. Pry marks were found near the dead bolt locks on the door of a trailer and the locks were damaged but nothing was taken from the trailer, police said.
Police responded to an activated burglar alarm sounding at a Passaic Ave. one-family home and found that the west side door had been forced open. After the building was secured, police notified the owner who, after examining the interior, reported everything was intact.
The owner of a car parked in the Chase Bank lot on Centre St. told police that after returning to the vehicle, they found the windshield scratched and the wiper bent.
A Mapes Ave. resident was apparently cheated out of their $300 iPhone 6 plus because when UPS delivered the package to their house, an Hispanic man flagged down the driver on Chestnut St. and told the driver he was waiting for his package to be delivered to Mapes Ave. Police said the man signed for the package and left. UPS is investigating.
Police conducted a motor vehicle stop of a vehicle observed leaving from in front of a home near Chestnut St. that has been under surveillance for possible drug distribution. Police said they detected the odor of suspected unburnt marijuana coming from the vehicle and its two occupants and saw the passenger moving around and reaching under the passenger’s seat. At this point, police called for the Essex County Canine Unit and the dog allegedly gave a strong hit to the vehicle’s doors and the passenger. Police searched the vehicle after getting the owner’s consent and recovered suspected marijuana from the vehicle. Police arrested Frank DiLiberto, 20, of Nutley, and Michael Cosme, 22, of Linden, on charges of possession of marijuana, possession of CDS with intent and possession of paraphernalia. Police said a search of DiLiberto uncovered packages of marijuana in his sock. Both were released pending a court date. Nov. 5 Police patrolling Municipal Lot 1 spotted a man rifling through a bag containing several loaves of bread which had been delivered to a local restaurant for later use and placing one loaf into his jacket. When officers approached, the man, later identified as James Cox, 58, of Nutley, began placing the loaves back into the bag. Cox was charged with theft of movable property and released pending a court date.
A driver traveling on Rt. 21 South reported that a piece of metal had suddenly struck their car’s windshield, damaging the hood and shattering the windshield. Police said the damage was consistent with the impact of a metal object and advised the driver to contact their insurance company.
Someone slashed three tires of a vehicle parked on Edison Ave. Police said they have no known suspects.
A Duncan Place homeowner notified police of a possible burglary in progress, saying that they’d found the residence ransacked and heard a noise inside. After searching the home, police said they determined that an intruder got in through a rear window and got out through the back sliding doors which were left ajar. Additional searching found that the gate on the north side of the house was open. The owners told police that a large amount of proceeds was taken.
Police were sent to Ridge Road and Centre St. on a report of a suspicious person described as a black man, 30 to 40, wearing blue jeans and black sweatshirt, with an umbrella and backpack. At the location, police said they found a man matching the suspect’s description who reportedly told them they were walking home after a stop at Burger King but police said they found that account inconsistent. Police said the suspect also gave a false name and date of birth. Quaire Wilson, 25, of Bloomfield, was charged with hindering apprehension and released pending a court appearance.
Police responded to a Cottage Place residence on a report of a tree down on private property. The resident said a neighbor’s tree had fallen on the front end of their vehicle. The resident said they’d arrange to have the tree removed from their driveway and would contact their insurance company. Police left a message for the neighbor to advise them about the incident.
– Ron Leir
Top photos, KFD; bottom, by Karen Zautyk
Fire gutted a single-family home on Garfield Ave. at the corner of Elm St. in Kearny early Monday, but the two occupants, a man and a woman, were able to escape. The two-alarm blaze was reported at 3 a.m. and quickly spread through the structure. As of press time, no other information was available. The cause is under investigation.
Rosa Agency Inc. announces that Aina Lin Hsieh has passed $10.5 million sales volume mark for 2014. According to New Jersey Multiple Listing Service, from Jan. 1 to Nov. 8, Hsieh is the No. 1 leasing agent, with 22 transactions, and the No. 1 listing/ selling realtor with over $3.8 million in volume and 11 transactions in Harrison.
“Aina Lin Hsieh is one of the most dedicated and successful realtors in the area,” said Augusto Neno Jr., broker/owner of Neno-Rosa Agency.
Neno credits Hsieh’s loyalty to her customers, market knowledge and willingness to go the extra mile as what sets her apart from the competition.
“Aina is always on the go; she works very well with other realtors and she has an impeccable record. It is an absolute pleasure to have Aina as part of our family for the past 25 years. In fact her son, Brian Hsieh, joined our firm this year. He is doing a great job learning the business and we are pleased to have two generations working side-by- side,” said Neno.
Hsieh has been awarded Salesperson of the Year at Neno-Rosa Agency 10 times since starting her real estate career in 1989. She has won the NJAR Circle of Excellence an incredible 20 times, while being one of the few realtors who won the Silver Award five times. In 2013, Hsieh received the Realtor Spirit Award from Meadowlands Board of Realtors in recognition of services to the community.
Hsieh specializes in sales of residential and commercial properties and rentals in Harrison, Kearny, North Arlington and Lyndhurst. You can preview all her listings at www.AinaLin.com or contact her directly at 201-889-2085.
For information on the Rosa Agency, call 201-997- 7860 or visit www.RosaAgencyHomes.com, Facebook.
By Kevin Canessa Jr.
NORTH ARLINGTON –
John Patoilo, owner of Firepit Barbecue, says over the years, his customers have asked him how they can get their hands on the meats and oils and sauces he uses at his restaurants. And because of that, he’s wanted, for the longest time, to open a butcher shop of his own.
Over that time, he tried and tried and tried to convince his friend, and now partner, Jose Almeida, owner of Simoes and Almeida in Kearny, to join him in opening up a modern meat store.
Finally, after years of discussions and coaxing, Almeida agreed — and now, Firepit Quality Meats has finally opened at 617 Ridge Road, North Arlington. And all those great tastes customers are accustomed to at the barbecue can now be taken home for dinner, parties and then some.
“I’d been chasing Ze (Jose) for two years,” Patoilo said. “I would tell him that I’d love to be his partner. Eventually, he asked me what my vision was and when I explained it to him, it clicked. And at that point, he said, ‘sign me up.’ That was around June — and now, just a few weeks ago, we had our grand opening and we’re up, running and enjoying every second of it.”
So just what could one expect to find at Firepit Quality Meats? Well, for starters, clearly, meats.
“There are all sorts of meats available — and not just what you’d find at the barbecue,” Patoilo said. “For starters, we have Boar’s Head cold cuts. You’ll also find smoked sausages, pork loins, other kinds of pork, chicken, angus supreme beef, steaks, short ribs, fresh turkey and American veal.”
But there’s much more than the great meats.
“We also have Portuguese olive oils, cheeses from Portugal, Norwegian cod and breads from Teixeira’s Bakery delivered each day,” Patoilo said.
So in addition to the store being a great stop for meats, you can also pop in for a sandwich. In essence, Firepit Quality Meats is a butcher shop and a deli all in one.
And it’s not just Portuguese food available for sale.
“You’ll also find your milk and dairy products, eggs, and things of that nature as well,” Patoilo said. “We have pastas, canned fish, tuna, sardines, incredible jumbo shrimp, tilapia. The fish is high quality, so we hope people will come in to see the incredible variety we have to offer.”
Some of Almeida’s noted products are available, too, including an array of marinated meats.
But the bottom line, Patoilo says, is that if you want to take the taste of Firepit Barbecue home with you, you’ll have plenty of choices.
“Sometimes, people prefer to entertain at home instead of going out,” he said. “So if you’re having 40 people over at the house for a party, you can have that great-tasting food at home for your big crowd. We love this approach and think it will be very successful.”
Firepit Quality Meats is located at 617 Ridge Road, North Arlington. Reach them by phone at 201-991- 6379. Hours of operation are Monday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.