The state Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team is investigating a fatal shooting of the driver of a stolen SUV at the Lyndhurst-Rutherford border early Tuesday, Sept. 16, according to a press release issued by the AG’s Office. The driver, identified […]
By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – The corner house at Grand Place and Stewart Ave. doesn’t really stand out in any particular way, but it’s drawn a lot of attention from neighbors – and not in a good way. Many packed the assembly chambers at […]
By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent HARRISON – The town of Harrison, with a current population of about 14,000 but growing thanks to several new residential projects rising in its waterfront redevelopment area, now has a second hotel. It is the Element Harrison, the brand’s second hotel in New […]
By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent HARRISON– Somewhere in Harrison, there is a magical place. If we were telling this story as a fairy tale, it would begin: Once upon a time, there was a small plot of land on which a happy home had stood. […]
By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – Starting next month, the Kearny Farmers Market will be offering a new, sweet treat as part of the fresh, Jersey-grown produce for its patrons. We’re talking vino, folks. The town governing body voted last Tuesday night to permit the Four […]
A story in the April 16 issue of The Observer incorrectly reported the amount of additional real estate taxes that the “average” Nutley property owner would
have paid if the township hadn’t gotten special transitional aid for 2014. The municipal portion of the average tax bill would have risen by $181 – not $109, as reported. The Observer regrets the error.
By Ron Leir
The Salvation Army of Greater Kearny will honor local Canstruction representative Paul Rogers and Spectra Colors Corp. at its 10th annual fundraising dinner, slated for Thursday, May 8 at the San Carlo, 620 Stuyvesant
Festivities get started at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are $55 and may be purchased by calling Rebeca Escobar at 201-991-1115 or by emailing her at Rebeca.Escobar@ USE.SalvationArmy.Org. Deadline for reservations is May 1.
People are also invited to buy ads for a souvenir journal that will be circulated at the event, which will celebrate the 120th anniversary of the Salvation Army Kearny Corps’ presence in Kearny, according to Lt. Maurice Moukouangala, who oversees the Kearny Corps with his wife, Capt. Sherry Moukouangala.
The theme of this year’s dinner is “Doing the Most Good … Together.”
The affair is one of two big annual fundraisers held by the Kearny Corps; the other is the Christmas holiday Kettle Drive. Lt. Moukouangala said: This event makes it possible for us to publicly honor individuals and companies who have given uncommon service to the five communities we serve: Harrison, East Newark, Kearny, North Arlington and Lyndhurst.”
And his spouse, Capt. Moukouangala, added: “We depend on the continued generous support of the public for this, our principal fundraising event. The money we raise through this dinner helps local families and individuals in need.”
This year, the Kearny Corps is presenting its Individual Award to Paul Rogers, a retired Kearny firefighter who is being recognized for his volunteer work on behalf of Canstruction, an international charity which hosts competitions, exhibitions and events showcasing colossal structures made
out of full cans of food.
Once the structures are assembled, they go on display to the public as a gigantic art exhibition and, ultimately, all the food in the cans is donated to local hunger relief organizations.
This year, Rogers is guiding Kearny High School’s third Canstruction project and is also advising Harrison High School in its first season working with the charity.
Working with Kearny High teachers, administrators and students, and aided by volunteers from Kearny’s service clubs and the Fire Department, Rogers raised donations that enabled Canstruction to provide 43,000 cans of food to the food pantries of The Salvation Army, St. Stephen’s, St. Cecilia’s, First Presbyterian, Apostle’s House and St. John’s. He hopes to add an additional 30,000 cans this year.
Some interesting background on Rogers: His paternal great-grandparents emigrated from Scotland and his maternal great-grandparents came from Ireland, and Paul grew up in a house – one of 25 – that his father and other WWII veterans, working together, build in Kearny on their return from the front.
Paul’s grandfather worked in the old Clark Thread Co. in East Newark until he joined the Kearny Fire Department in 1925. Paul’s father also worked at Clark before he, too, was hired by the KFD in 1949, after which he served in the Kearny Town Museum.
In 1977, Paul became the third generation of his family to become a member of the town’s Bravest.
In 1984, Paul married school friend Donna MacKenney, who, after her retirement from St. Michael’s Hospital, Newark, became a docent in the Kearny Town Museum and volunteers with two food pantries and an animal shelter.
After retiring from the Fire Department in 2002, Paul enrolled at Rutgers University’s Newark campus for courses in art history and religious history. In 2009, he was felled by heart failure and three strokes, for which he received a double pacemaker, followed by two years of grueling rehabilitation.
With encouragement from his doctors and friends, Paul returned to school and to
serving Kearny with Canstruction.
The Kearny Corps is giving this year’s Community Service Award to a firmly rooted Kearny business, Spectra Colors Corp., 25 Rizzolo Road, off Schuyler Ave., in recognition of the company’s charitable efforts.
Alexis Capik, Spectra’s marketing manager and, like her dad Spectra President Luis Marrero, an active member of the Kearny Corps’ Advisory Board, said the family-run business has been in operation in Kearny for the past 26 years and supplies dyes and colorants to companies around the globe to create a variety of products such as inks, soaps and makeup.
“We have a standing rotation among our employees for people ringing the bell for a day for the Salvation Army’s annual Kettle Drive,” Capik said.
The company has pitched in to help with that drive for the past five years, said
Capik, who, with Laurence Mach, is co-chairing this year’s dinner for which Spectra is printing the souvenir journals.
In 2013, Spectra led all other corporate organizations by raising $1,700, according to Lt. Moukouangala. For four consecutive years, Spectra employees set a record for most money raised by a company during the Kettle Drive period.
The Kearny Corps is encouraging members of the public to attend next month’s
fundraising event or consider becoming a sponsor or ad-taker to help finance its
efforts to extend assistance to the needy in its constituent communities.
Among the ways it serves its constituents, the Corps:
• Aids more than 120 families, including about 150 children.
• Donates more than 4,500 grocery orders a year to people in the five-town area through its food pantry, which is open three times a week.
• For last year’s Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, it distributed more than 2,000 toys, some 1,900 pieces of clothing and 1,500 grocery bags.
• Provides computer classes for adults twice a week.
• Accommodate 55 adults in three levels of English as a Second Language/Citizenship programs.
• Welcomes adults and children to an open gym every Friday.
“Every month, we receive requests from 75 households for rent assistance, 115 for
utilities assistance and over 150 for clothing/furniture. Unfortunately, we do not have resources to help,” a Kearny Corps press release said.
Additionally, the statement said, “We currently have a waiting list of children wishing to join our After School Homework Center – before the school year even starts.”
Every Sunday, about 50 people travel to the Corps, 443 Chesnut St., for worship service and about one third of the congregation is from Kearny but the rest arrive
from places like Newark, Lodi and Teaneck – stirring memories of the days when the Army’s national headquarters was in Verona and Kearny was a destination of choice for as many as 100 each Sunday, Lt. Moukouangala said.
When the Army moved its HQ to Alexandria, Va., during the 1990s, many of the pastors and congregants who had been Kearny regulars drifted away. “We’re still struggling to get them back,” he said.
By Anthony J. Machcinski
Even though the real NFL draft was pushed back several weeks from its normal mid-April date, football die-hards trying to get a little fix of football are afforded the opportunity to see the new film “Draft Day.”
The film, which released earlier this month, starts Kevin Costner as Sonny Weaver Jr., the general manager of the Cleveland Browns. After a 6-10 season the previous year, Weaver is charged with turning Cleveland’s seventh overall pick into a player that can turn the struggling Browns franchise around.
“Draft Day” also features Jennifer Garner as Weaver’s newly pregnant girlfriend, and Chadwick Boseman, who plays top linebacker Vontae Mack.
Throughout the film, Costner faces extreme pressure to turn the franchise around from powerful owner Anthony Molina (Frank Langella), hard-nosed Coach Penn (Denis Leary) and a Cleveland Browns fan base starved for a Super Bowl win.
As GM, Costner is forced to wheel and deal with his seventh overall pick, and has to make tough decisions when attractive offers come his way.
While the film features a laundry list of star power, the sports world is well represented as well. Draft cornerstones such as ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., Chris Berman and Jon Gruden along with NFL Network stars Rich Eisen, Mike Mayock and Deion Sanders all play themselves, while Houston Texans running back Arian Foster plays draft hopeful Ray Jennings.
While “Draft Day” could give some football fans the scratch needed to itch their football addiction, the movie falls short of being a great movie due to its inability to identify a target audience.
Diehard football fans, like myself, are required to eliminate the memory of last season – a hard task considering the team with the number 1 pick in the film, the Seattle Seahawks, just won the Super Bowl in real life.
Those strictly seeking a drama film out of “Draft Day” will be a bit confused as to the intricacies of analyzing a potential player: for example, why it matters to an NFL team that none of a player’s college teammates attended his birthday party.
For an NFL fan seeking the true behind-the- scenes look at an NFL front office, “Draft Day” certainly isn’t it. In the real NFL, a team wouldn’t wait until the day of the draft to begin orchestrating some of the trades Costner creates in the film.
Those seeking that behind-the-scenes look at draft operations should be guided to Nicholas Dawidoff’s book “Collision Low Crossers.” In the book, Dawidoff, a contributor to the New York Times and New Yorker, lives with the 2011 New York Jets – from the 2011 NFL Draft through the end of the 2011 season.
While reading the 500-page book isn’t exactly the most time-efficient way to learn about the inner workings of an NFL front office, it’s a better telling than the 100-minute film “Draft Day.”
The film, however, is not an entire bust. The film’s attention to small details is simply stunning.
When Costner talks to college coaches on the phone, the coaches are seen decked out in their team’s apparel. When the draft experts break down film on Vontae Mack, they watch tape of Mack at Ohio State playing against Wisconsin.
It’s that attention to detail that helps the film get over its shortcomings, including names a child could think of. (Really? Bo Callahan and Brian Drew are the
best names you could think of for a quarterback?)
While the film is not up to the level as other great football movies as “Friday Night Lights,” “Rudy,” and “Any Given Sunday,” it certainly warrants a better reception
than its output at the box office opening weekend.
In that weekend, “Draft Day” took in $9.75 million at the box office, leading Entertainment Weekly to call the film’s opening weekend “a fumble.”
Personally, while I had to suspend some of my own knowledge of the NFL, “Draft Day” exceeded moderate expectations and is easily worth a rating of 6.5 or 7 out of 10.
Century 21 Semiao & Associates announced that Frank Riposta, of the Kearny branch office and the company’s Easter Seals chairperson, was recently awarded its annual Top Overall Producer of the Year Award, which ranks him first in gross closed commission’s company-wide.
Fernando G. Semiao, brokerowner, recently presented the award to Riposta during a special company office rally, congratulating him on his hard work and outstanding sales achievement for 2013.
“Frank’s dedication, commitment and professionalism are an asset to both Century 21 Semiao & Associates and to the clients he serves,” said Semiao.
Riposta has also been honored by New Jersey Association of Realtors with the 2013 Circle of Excellence Silver Award. In addition, Riposta has earned the Century 21 Quality Service Pinnacle Award 2013 and the 2013 Century 21 President’s Producer Award. The President’s Award is bestowed upon a distinguished group of individuals that have achieved both Centurion level production and Quality Service Pinnacle Award in the same year. This year Riposta also was inducted into the Centurion Honor Society for being a Centurion Producer at least five out of the last seven years.
“Our agents shine in any market,” said Semiao. “Frank’s level of production can only be achieved through hard work and understanding that for many people, buying or selling a home is the most significant purchase of a lifetime. Frank leverages his real estate knowledge and professionalism to help make each transaction as smooth as possible and in the end, is rewarded with satisfied clients and a job well done. We are very proud of him.”
“It is a great honor to be a part of a great organization as Century 21 Semiao & Associates,” said Riposta. “The unwavering support of my family and my colleagues undoubtedly helped to make receiving this award possible.”
Riposta can be reached at 213 Kearny Ave., Kearny, by calling 201-991-1300, ext. 410, or his cell at 201-679-3785.
If one were inclined to speculate, one might say that two alleged shoplifters collared at Walmart were planning a heckuva man cave. They are accused of taking eight 32-inch television sets. Plus an inflatable couch.
Kearny Police Chief John Dowie said that on April 12, at 3:30 p.m., Officers John Fabula and Rich Pawlowski were dispatched to Walmart after store security reported that two men who had stolen four television sets earlier in the day had returned and attempted to take four more. Plus the inflatable couch.
As Fabula pulled into the parking lot, he saw Pawlowski chasing one man and joined the foot pursuit. Both officers tackled and cuffed 18-year-old Jeancarlos George of Newark.
Pawlowski then confronted and took into custody the second suspect, Edgar Guzman, 33, of Newark.
Police said store security placed a total value of $2,215 on the merchandise. Including the inflatable couch.
George and Guzman were both charged with robbery and conspiracy. In addition,
George was charged with resisting arrest.
Other recent reports from the KPD blotter included the following:
Police arrested Davante Hamilton, 18, of Union, at 6 p.m. at Applebee’s, where, a week before, the restaurant employee had allegedly used a “skimmer” to steal the credit card information of a customer.
The info theft had occurred the afternoon of April 8, after which Hamilton allegedly went to Walmart and used the card data to purchase an Xbox One and a flat screen TV, worth a total of $588, police said.
Officer Rich Carbone, who had responded to the initial incident, made the connection between the two crimes, and Det. John Telle subsequently identified the suspect on Walmart security video, police said.
Hamilton was charged with credit card theft, forgery, using a stolen credit card and theft by unlawful taking.
At 4:15 a.m., Officer Patrick Becker reportedly found a 2006 Chrysler stopped in the middle of the intersection of Kearny and Bergen Aves. with the driver apparently asleep at the wheel. Becker and backup Officer Tim Castle conducted field sobriety tests and Keith Jones, 31, of Kearny, was charged with DWI.
Officer Jay Ward, patrolling at Quincy and Highland Aves. at 4 a.m., noticed that
a parked SUV had sustained recent rear-end damage and been pushed into another parked vehicle. In the roadway were broken glass and vehicle fluids. Ward followed the trail of these fluids down to Davis Ave., where it ended. Searching the area, he found a parked, still-leaking Honda with front-end damage, police said.
Ward located the owner, Homni Parra-Perez, performed field sobriety tests and took him to headquarters for an Alcotest. Parra-Perez, 25, of Kearny was charged
with DWI, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident.
At 4:13 a.m., Officer Ben Wuelfing was dispatched to the 100 block of Forest St.
on the report of a parked car having been hit by another vehicle. Wuelfing arrived to find the driver of the latter still at the scene, police said. The officer conducted field sobriety tests and was also advised by headquarters that the driver had a suspended license and three outstanding warrants — one from Kearny and two from Jersey City. Rudy Rodriguez-Cabrera, 31, of Bayonne, was charged on those warrants and with DWI, DWI in a school zone, the license offense, careless driving, failure to exhibit an insurance card and refusing to take an Alcotest.
Officers Derek Hemphill and Chris Medina and Sgt. Pete Gleason responded to a 3 a.m. report of a man, dressed in black and apparently having a weapon, striking car windows on the 200 block of Maple St.
The officers searched the area on foot and spotted the suspect running into a backyard at Maple and BergenAve. and then emerging in a driveway, where Hemphill confronted him. The man was reportedly holding a bow saw, which he was ordered to drop.
The police also checked dwellings and other structures and found an open garage with tools similar to the bow saw on the wall. The owner was contacted and reported that one saw was missing, police said.
Arrested was Fernando Solorzano, 23, of Harrison, who was charged with burglary and theft.
Officers Jordenson Jean and Brian Wisely, on patrol at 8 p.m. at Davis and Wilson Aves., got a hit on the mobile data computer regarding a suspended
driver and stopped a car operated by Miguel Gordillogonzaga, 34, of Harrison. He was charged with driving while suspended and failure to surrender a suspended license.
– Karen Zautyk
By Anthony J. Machcinski
As rock superstar and New Jersey native Bon Jovi once wrote in a song, “Who says you can’t go home?”
“I’m from Kearny – born and raised,” attorney Kenneth Davie said. “I always wanted to practice (law) in or near my hometown.”
Davie said that becoming a lawyer had been a dream of his since he was a boy growing up on Quincy Ave. and Elm St.
“I wanted to be a lawyer since I was 8 years old,” Davie said. “I’ve never felt like this wasn’t for me. I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer.”
Davie, now a general practice attorney who serves the West Hudson community from his Harrison office, started on his path to the law by earning an undergraduate degree in political science from Rutgers University in New Brunswick. In 1970, Davie was admitted to the Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh.
In 1973, Davie served as law clerk to Judge Joseph Hanrahan, the criminal assignment judge in Hudson County. It was his time with Hanrahan that Davie believes benefitted him the most.
“A good clerkship can really benefit a young lawyer,” Davie said. “Hanrahan would take me into his chambers after a case and tell me what people should have done differently or what they failed to do.”
After completing his clerkship, Davie then began working as a general practice attorney before partnering with fellow West Hudson attorney and current Hudson County Freeholder Al Cifelli in 1978.
“My partner is an absolutely brilliant lawyer,” Davie said of Cifelli. “I can’t say enough about him. He’s one of the most genuinely funny people I’ve ever met and a really great lawyer.”
Davie said what distinguishes him and Cifelli from other attorneys is the personal service and attention they give to their clients.
“What separates us is our personal service,” Davie said. “We’re here many long hours because my clients can’t always see me during the week.”
He added, “I believe we’re more sensitive to people’s needs and our responses to them and helping them through difficult periods of their life. We give lots of good personal service and I return all phone calls before I leave. This is what you do when you try to help people.”
It’s the desire and determination to help people that drove Davie to becoming an
“I believe that the role of a lawyer is to help people solve problems,” Davie said. “I love to help people solve problems and I can do that here.”
Davie said that while not everything has been easy for him, his determination has allowed him to persevere those tough times.
“Nobody outworks me,” Davie explained. “I work very hard. That’s the way you get through challenges. You work hard. If you’re prepared, you’re better than everybody and I’m prepared.”
Davie’s services aren’t just limited to his private practice. For years, he has served as an attorney for multiple municipalities. He has served as the assistant town attorney for Kearny since 1997 and is also currently a special counsel for Bayonne.
However, it is the attachment Davie has for the West Hudson area that has inspired him to continue to live and practice in that area.
“I’ve been blessed because I’ve been able to represent my hometown,” Davie said. “I love walking down ‘the [Kearny] Avenue’ and being able to get fish and chips, or Columbian food, or maybe Mexican. This town has been blessed with good government as well. I’ve always loved this town.”
As for the future, Davie hopes to continue his practice and serve his community.
“I’ve been blessed,” Davie said. “I can’t think of doing anything else. I love what I
The law offices of Cifelli and Davie are located at 334 Harrison Ave., Harrison. For more information, or to contact Kenneth Davie, call 973-482-1180.
Belleville Elks Lodge 1123, 254 Washington Ave., hosts its monthly breakfast on Sunday, April 27, from 9 a.m. to noon. Cost is $6 for adults; $3 for ages 3 to 10; and free for those younger than 3.
Belleville Public Library and Information Center, 221 Washington Ave., holds a Teddy Bear Tea Party for children on Saturday, May 3, at 2 p.m. Registration closes April 28.
New Jersey Women Business Owners (NJAWBO) hosts its annual Diversity Luncheon on Tuesday, May 20, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Nanina’s in the Park, 540 Mill St. This year’s theme is “Communicating Across Differences.”
To reserve a seat, register online at www.whoscoming.com/njawbo-region2 or contact the NJAWBO State Office at 609-308-2530. Questions? Contact info@ njawbo-metroeast.org. and for more about NJAWBO MetroEast, visit www. njawbo-metroeast.org.
For more information, contact Deb Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 973- 953-7768 or Suzanne Buggé at Suzanne@AFocusedAdvantage. com or 973-951-6258.
Belleville UNICO sponsors a bus ride fundraiser to the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City on Sunday, May 4. A donation of $30 prepaid or $35 at the door is requested. Before departure at 8:50 a.m., a continental breakfast will be served at 8 a.m. at the Belleville Senior Citizens Center, 125 Franklin Ave. Call 973-759-9259 ASAP to reserve seats. No last minute cancellations are permitted. Mail checks, payable to Belleville UNICO, to: Gene Antonio, 436 Joralemon St., Belleville, N.J. 07109.
Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center, 240 Belleville Ave., hosts a Tricky Tray fundraiser on Friday, May 9, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets, available only in advance, are $25. To purchase tickets, call 973-429-0960.
West Hudson Brave Women Fighting Breast Cancer meets the last Friday of every month from 7 to 9 p.m. at the East Newark Senior Center, 37 President St. The group provides an atmosphere of warmth and comfort for patients and family. For more information, call Emma at 201-998-6828, Rosa at 201-246-7750, Fatima at 973-485-4236 or email email@example.com.
Sacred Heart of Jesus American National Catholic Church hosts “Friendship Sunday” April 27 at 12:30 p.m., at Christ Episcopal Church, 100 Frank E. Rodgers
Blvd. North. Come together to celebrate a festive Easter season Eucharist with conversation and refreshments following. For more information, see www.SacredHeartANCC.org.
The Kearny Police Department, 237 Laurel Ave., in partnership with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, hosts a drug take back on April 26, from 10
a.m. to 2 p.m. Turn in unwanted, unused or expired prescriptions or over the counter medications. This is a no questions asked turn-in. For more information, call Police Officer Jack Corbett at 201-998-1313, ext. 2820.
Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., announces:
• Preschool Play and Story Time for ages 2 1/2 – 4 1/2 is held Tuesdays from 11 to
• Preschool Play and Story Time is offered Thursdays from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
• Baby Steps Story Time with play, music and bubbles for kids up to age 2 is available Wednesdays from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m.
• At the Branch Library, 759 Kearny Ave., Preschool Play and Story Time is conducted from 10:15 to 11 a.m. on Thursdays.
The Rosary Society of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 136 Davis Ave., meets May 1 at 7 p.m. in the church hall. The Rev. John Wassell, church administrator, will speak.
Kearny High School’s Project Graduation sponsors a Volleyball Tournament Friday, April 25, in the school’s gymnasium, 336 Devon St. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the games begin at 6:30 p.m. For more information, contact Melissa Dyl at
201-978-8257. There will be a 50/50 raffle Friday, June 20, after graduation ceremonies.
The winner need not be present. Tickets are $10. To purchase or sell tickets,
contact Sandy Hyde at 551- 265-8969.
Kearny UNICO sponsors a fundraising bus trip to the Showboat Casino in Atlantic City Sunday, April 27, leaving from the parking lot of Kearny Federal Savings Bank at 8:30 a.m. Tickets are $30 and can be obtained by calling Lou Pandolfi at 201-368-2409.
American Legion Post 139, Lyndhurst, hosts a veterans ward party on Tuesday, April 30, at Chestnut Hill Passaic Extended Care Facility, starting at 2:30 p.m. The family of Ronald and Cynthia Settembrino will sponsor the party in memory of Cynthia’s father Michael Liparulo, a U.S. Marine and Post 139 member who served in World War II, fighting in two major battles in the Pacific, at Okinawa and Ryukyu. For more information on sponsoring a ward party, call John Deveney, rehabilitation chairman, at 201-438-2255.
Registration is required for a Ladybug craft program for grades 1 to 4 to be held
at Lyndhurst Public Library, 355 Valley Brook Ave., Monday, April 28, from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. Call the library at 201-804-2478 to register.
Lyndhurst Health Department, 601 Riverside Avenue, Suite 1, hosts a free Women’s Health Clinic, in partnership with Clara Maass Medical Center, April 25, at 9 a.m. The clinic, which will provide education on breast self-examination and a pap smear, is open to female township residents ages 18 and older. For appointments, call 201-804-2500.
Dr. John Favetta will conduct a free eye screening Wednesday, May 7, at 10 a.m., at the Health Department. He will test for vision acuity, visual field and glaucoma. Call for an appointment.
A senior health fair will be held at the Health Department Friday, May 9, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. This event will offer free screenings, free promotional items and opportunities to learn about estate planning, long-term care planning, and Medicare fraud. For more information, contact the Health Department at 201-804-2500.
A free chair yoga session immediately follows the fair.
Polish American Citizens Club, 730 New Jersey Ave., presents a Polka Mass dinner dance Saturday, April 26, from 6 to 11:30 p.m. Tickets are $35. For tickets,
call Alice at 201-935-3830 or Loretta at 201-438-3513.
Lyndhurst Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3549, 527 Valley Brook Ave., hosts a karaoke party Friday, April 25, at 7 p.m. The VFW hall is available to rent for all occasions. For more information, call the post at 201- 939-3080.
Lyndhurst Police Department, in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration, will participate in Operation Take Back New Jersey, allowing local residents to dispose of unused, expired and unwanted prescription medications Saturday, April 26, at a command post, which will be set up in the shopping plaza parking lot at 425 Valley Brook Ave., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information, contact the Lyndhurst Police Department at 201-939-2900, ext. 2770, or consult the Operation Take Back NJ website: www.Operation-TakeBackNJ.com.
North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Road, hosts these upcoming programs:
• YA Movie Day for grades 6 and up will be held Friday, April 25, at 3 p.m.
• Saturday Afternoon Poets celebrate National Poetry Month April 26, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with a poetry reading and music performance. All ages are welcome.
• Origami for grades 4 and up is held Monday, April 28, at 3:30 p.m.
• Comics Club for grades 6 and up meets Wednesday, April 30, at 3:30 p.m.
North Arlington Health Department, in conjunction with Clara Maas Medical Center and the Lyndhurst ShopRite, hosts a lecture by a registered dietician on “Tips on How to Eat a Healthier Diet” Wednesday, April 23, at 6 p.m. at the borough Senior Center (next to borough hall). A light dinner will be served.
North Arlington Cares About Schools, a newly formed parents organization,
invites the community to a public meeting on education on Wednesday, April 23, at 7 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus hall, 194 River Road. Learn about common
core standards and its impact on students, teachers and schools, PARCC testing technology costs, and more.
Nutley Police Department holds its next Neighborhood Watch meeting April 24 at
7 p.m. on the third floor of the Municipal Building. This meeting will focus on dentity theft and learning about common scams.
Turn in your unused or expired medication for safe disposal Saturday, April 26,
from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Nutley Police Headquarters, 228 Chestnut St., as part of Operation Drug Take Back, sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Dr., will hold a Friends of the Library book sale, April 24 to 26, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Stock up on hardcover books, paperbacks, CDs and DVDs. Donations will be collected April 21 to 23.
Former Observer Athlete of Year Gross heads stellar list of inductees
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
It will be a family affair of sorts when the 2014 North Arlington High School Athletic Hall of Fame Dinner takes place at the San Carlo in Lyndhurst on May 2.
Sixteen former Viking greats will gain induction to the Hall of Fame, which will hold its first induction ceremony in three years.
Andrea Sprague Jennings will gain induction, much like her sister, Dana, did a few years ago. Her brother, Bobby, is a Hall of Famer at Queen of Peace High School.
Andrea Sprague was a three-sport standout (volleyball, basketball and softball) during her time at North Arlington, graduating in 1991.
“Softball was my best sport,” Sprague Jennings recalls. “I was so honored to be thought of and I can complete the Sprague clan. I have to thank (committee chairman and former longtime girls’ basketball coach) Joe Spaccavento for thinking of me. It came as a total surprise to me. This is a huge honor.”
It’s also a family event for the Marck family.
Kim Nelson Marck was a basketball and softball player during her heyday, graduating in 1987.
“It was many years ago,” Nelson Marck said. “I was surprised by it. I definitely
thought that everyone had forgotten about me.”
Kim Nelson said that she’s “not the attention getter.”
That title would probably better fit her husband, Anthony, who is the current North Arlington head football coach.
“I’m definitely the football wife,” Nelson Marck said. “I learned all the plays and watch the films with him.”
It’s a family thing for Nelson, because she joins her brother, Keith Nelson, brother-in-law Danny Marck and husband in the Hall of Fame.
“It’s a little different, because Anthony said that we’re the first husband and wife in the Hall. It’s a big deal for Anthony.”
Although the two were students and athletes together at North Arlington, they were not high school sweethearts.
“I was already working as a teacher,” Kim Nelson Marck said. “We met somewhere in town.”
And one of the Marck’s children, six-year-old Mason, is excited about the event.
“He’s saying, ‘I’m going to be in the Hall of Fame,” said Kim Nelson Marck, who said that she keeps in touch with her former coaches Spaccavento and John Galante, who still coaches the softball team.
Dr. Peter Velardi (Class of 1970) is one of the older inductees. At age 61, Velardi, a Lyndhurst-based dentist, was also a little surprised by the honor.
“Rip Collins was a patient of mine,” Velardi said of the North Arlington legend whose name graces the township’s athletic facility, currently under reconstruction. “He kept bugging me to get my stuff together to give to the Hall of Fame. I know a lot of guys on the committee.”
Velardi was a standout track and field participant and cross country runner during his days at North Arlington.
“I still ran competitively as I got older,” Velardi said. “I ran five-milers and 10Ks. At the time, I was at the top of my age group. I ran in the Spring Lake (5 mile race) for many years. I remembered that they gave mugs out to the top 125 runners. I got a mug almost every year. I ran all the local races, including the North Arlington race on the Fourth of July. But then my legs couldn’t take the pounding anymore.”
Velardi was asked if the honor makes him think about his high school days.
“It definitely makes you look back,” Velardi said. “We had like 60 guys on the track team back then. We had four or five sprinters when I was there. We competed against all the biggest schools. North Arlington always had some of the greatest athletes.”
Velardi has kept his practice in neighboring Lyndhurst since 1982.
“I have had a lot of the old timers come in as patients,” Velardi said. “I’m really excited about this. I’ll get to see my other buddies. I’ll enjoy seeing all those guys.”
Katie Mallack is one of the younger inductees. A member of the Class of 2006, Mallack was a standout soccer and basketball player during her days in North Arlington.
“I guess my biggest memory will be the night I scored my 1,000th point in basketball,” Mallack said. “A lot of people came out for that game. It was a special night.”
Mallack is only 25, working for an advertising agency as an account manager.
“I was surprised by this, because when you think of Hall of Fame, you think it might come years down the line,” said Mallack, who went on to play club soccer and rugby at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. “I see Spacc (Spaccavento) all the time and he always said to me that I deserved to be in the Hall of Fame. Talk about flashbacks. It’s all been part of a great memory for me and I’m looking forward to it.”
The youngest of the honorees is former three-sport standout Michael Gross, who was named The Observer Male Athlete of the Year in 2008. Gross, who played football, basketball and baseball at North Arlington, had a fine football career at the University of Rhode Island.
Other inductees that night include Michael Hoffman (Class of 1985), Terry Iavarone (2006), Sara MacNiven (1996), Ronnie Parmakis (1997), Paulo Prata (1989), Danielle Romero (2005), Kaitlyn Schaefer (2008), Larry Venancio Jr.
(1993), Michael Wendell (1997), Nicholas Mazzolla (Coach), and Bart Bradley (Honorary).
Two teams, the 2001 state sectional champion girls’ basketball team and the 2004
Group I state volleyball champion, will also be honored that evening.
One more irony that involves this Hall of Fame class: There is an art show, the George Miller Art Show, named after a three-decade art teacher at the school, that honors young artists in the district. That art show is chaired by Andrea Sprague Jennings and Danny Marck.
“We’re all still giving back to North Arlington,” said Sprague Jennings, whose
husband Chris, is a former NA athlete who became vice-principal and is now the principal of Bloomfield High School.
Much like many of the inductees being honored May 2.
For further information about the Hall of Fame dinner, log on to www.narlington.k12.nj.us/Hallof Fame.htm.
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Annemarie Uebbing found running late in life.
In 2003, the Kearny resident just began running as a form of exercise.
“I saw that there was a race in Bayonne and thought it was a good idea to try it,” Uebbing said. “The race was for a charity, so I thought it was good. As it turned out, I had so much fun.”
Little did she know that it would become a major part of Uebbing’s life.
“I started to do other races,” Uebbing said. “I liked getting the goody bags that they gave to runners. It was also a good way to meet others.”
At that time, Uebbing never dreamed it would eventually lead to her running marathons.
“When I first started, I never thought I would run a marathon,” Uebbing said. “I just did the 5K races. Now, I hate 5Ks.”
She wanted longer distances.
“I think it was part physical and part mental,” said Uebbing, who qualified to compete in the Boston Marathon for the first time last Monday. “I just started to like the longer distances.”
In 2005, Uebbing ran a half-marathon in Jersey City. She also competed in a 10-kilometer race in her native Buffalo.
“It’s the oldest Turkey Trot in the country,” Uebbing said of the Thanksgiving Day race. “My nephew was running track at that time, so I did it with him. It was a lot of fun and found out that there were a lot of other races.”
Soon after, Uebbing began training seriously to run marathons.
In 2007, Uebbing ran the New York Marathon for the first time and finished in 4:11.33.
“Once I started running marathons, Boston always became the goal,” Uebbing said. “But I needed to have a better time. I also needed to be older. I needed to be 50. I needed to cut my time and get two years older.”
But the marathon bug had definitely bitten Uebbing. She ran the Berlin Marathon in 2008 and competed once again in New York, still pining to run Boston.
In 2009, she married her husband, Sergio Cano, who was also a competitive runner.
“He never runs with me during races,” Uebbing said. “He’s so much faster than me.”
She was hoping to cut her time enough to qualify for Boston, but she suffered a knee injury that sidelined her for almost a year.
“With the knee and not training, I never thought I would get it,” Uebbing said. Uebbing returned to running regularly in 2010 and competed in the Chicago Marathon.
“It was extremely hot that day,” Uebbing recalled. “I don’t like the heat.”
In 2011, Uebbing and her running club, the Clifton Roadrunners, ran together in the Baltimore Marathon, still looking to get a time worthy of competing in Boston.
A year later, Uebbing competed in a marathon in Amsterdam.
“I trained well and there were good conditions,” Uebbing said. “The one thing I like about running in Europe, it’s all kilometers and not miles. But I still never thought I’d get into Boston. They made the qualifications tougher and tougher. It was just getting harder and harder to get in. I trained hard during the summer. I ran the race a little ahead of my pace and finished in 4:07.33. I didn’t know if that was a qualifying time. There was no guarantee.”
She watched the 2013 Boston Marathon on television. She watched in horror as the bombs went off near the finish line, killing four people and maiming hundreds of others.
“That was so upsetting,” Uebbing said. “There are tons of people at the finish line,
cheering. It’s such a huge event. Running had given somuch to these people. To see all these people terrorized, it was just such an affront to something I love. I couldn’t believe that it happened to Boston like that.”
Last year, Uebbing received word that her time in Amsterdam was good enough to qualify for Boston.
Needless to say, Uebbing was determined to run the Boston Marathon this year.
“I’d say it really inspired me,” Uebbing said. “I wanted to show that running is stronger than the bombing. I don’t know if things are normal, but we’re going to
try. We’re going to prove that we’re stronger than what happened.”
Uebbing will be running with three members of her running club, all competing in the Master’s division.
“It’s going to be amazing,” Uebbing said.
The director for community planning and development for the federal Housing and Urban Development office in Newark, Uebbing trains by running home to Kearny from her Newark office daily.
For Uebbing to make her Boston Marathon debut on the year anniversary of the bombing is almost surreal.
“I think I’m going to be an emotional wreck when I reach the finish line,” Uebbing said. “I hope I’m not dehydrated from crying. In some ways, it’s not believable for me, to be able to run in this one. This race means so much to the running community. I have friends who didn’t get in and others I know will never get in. But I got in this year.”
Needless to say, it will be an emotional day for Uebbing, seeing a quest that took more than a decade to become reality at the world’s most famous road race.
“I’m going to just enjoy it,” Uebbing said. “There will be so much to take in. We’re going to prove that we are better than the bombers.”
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
The struggles at the plate were getting to Mike Pettigrew.
After all, the Queen of Peace junior shortstop did all the right things in the offseason to prepare for this season, after struggling somewhat as a sophomore.
But Pettigrew wasn’t seeing any results of his hard work.
“I wasn’t hitting the ball well at all,” Pettigrew said. “I definitely did a lot of offseason work, lifting weights and working out. I knew I had to improve over last year. I had to make an adjustment.”
Queen of Peace head coach Steve Mancinelli had faith in Pettigrew.
“I knew he had the ability,” Mancinelli said. “He worked hard on his own. He played the outfield last year. I thought moving him back to shortstop, his natural position, would help him. I expected him to step in and be the starting shortstop. I knew he could field. I was a little skeptical about his hitting.”
Then, almost magically, something clicked inside of Pettigrew.
“He really started to crush the ball,” Mancinelli said.
“Once he got his timing down, he really started killing the ball.”
“I changed a lot of things at the plate,” Pettigrew said. “I think I started to see the ball well lately. The beginning of the season, I was sloppy. But not recently.”
Over the past week, Pettigrew has been downright mashing the baseball.
In the past week alone, in Golden Griffin wins against St. Benedict’s Prep, Leonia and Saddle Brook, Pettigrew has been almost unconscious with the bat.
Pettigrew had 11 hits in those wins, including four doubles, two triples, one homer and nine RBI.
For his efforts, Pettigrew has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.
“He really brings a lot of speed and power to the bottom half of our batting order,”
Mancinelli said. “We had him batting fifth at the start of the year, then dropped him to seventh and now he’s back up to sixth. He’s also taken control of the infield. Now that he’s the shortstop, he’s stepped into the lead role, talking and communicating with his teammates. It’s great.”
Pettigrew doesn’t know what triggered the hot streak, but he’s certainly not complaining.
“I’m pretty surprised,” Pettigrew said. “I just feel locked in right now. I feel like I’m going to hit the ball hard every time out. Based on what I was doing at the beginning of the season, I’d have to say I’m surprised.”
Pettigrew’s explosion has enabled him to get his season average back over the .400 mark to .409.
Pettigrew was asked if moving back to shortstop had anything to do with his recent surge.
“It might have,” Pettigrew said. “I feel comfortable at shortstop. It’s the position I
always played my whole life. But wherever the team needed me most, that’s where I was playing. I’ll do whatever is best for the team.”
Pettigrew said that he’s not planning to complain about anything these days.
“Whatever is going on right now, I’m not going to argue with it,” Pettigrew said. “As for now, I just want the team to win and I’ll do whatever it takes for us to win.”
Pettigrew is the same way as a starting basketball player. He was the one who hit the game-winning shot for the Golden Griffins at the buzzer to give QP a gigantic upset win over St. Joseph of Montvale in the semifinals of the Bergen County Jamboree last month.
“When it first happened, people told me that they saw it on the Internet,” Pettigrew said. “It was one of the craziest moments of my life. I just had to put it up and the shot went in. It was nuts. When I think about making that shot, it was just insane. I guess people just like seeing buzzer beaters.”
“I’m a proponent for athletes to play as many sports as possible,” Mancinelli said. “We try to help out the other varsity teams. Mike is one who helps everyone, including the opponent. He plays off the competitiveness of the other sports. I think it really helps him.”
Pettigrew isn’t sure about what sport he likes more.
“I can’t say which one is better,” Pettigrew said. “I know I’m improving in baseball a lot. I know I just want to win and help our team make the state playoffs. That’s my No. 1 priority right now.”
Mancinelli believes that Pettigrew’s torrid week is just a start.
“I really hope that he does,” Mancinelli said. “I can’t see any reason why it shouldn’t continue. He’s just seeing the ball well and hitting it hard. He’s just a fun loving kid, who is bit of an instigator at times. But he’s a smart kid with a high baseball IQ. Mike has just managed to come on huge for us. He’s putting the barrel of the bat on the ball and hitting it hard. You can’t ask for more than that.”
“I just definitely hope things continue to go well,” Pettigrew said. “I’m comfortable now. We’re winning (the Golden Gophers moved to 5-4 with the 13-12 win over Saddle Brook last Saturday) and I just want to win for my team. That’s the No. 1 priority right now.”
The win streak now stands at 3, with the victory over Saddle Brook.
“The whole team has been hitting,” Pettigrew said. “It’s almost contagious.”
As for the shortstop who has seen his batting average improve by nearly 200 points, Pettigrew will take that kind of sickness any day of the week.