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Easing the way over

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent LYNDHURST – State officials are still pondering what to do about the century-old DeJessa Bridge which links Lyndhurst and Nutley across the Passaic River but, in the meantime, Bergen County has done its part to try and relieve congestion there. At the urging […]

Last chance to sound off on dog park

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent KEARNY –  The town is preparing to let the dogs out but first it wants the owners in. For a public meeting, that is, on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 7:30 p.m., in the second floor Town Council chambers at Town Hall […]

Ice storm took its toll on local roads

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  By the time you read this, we all may be trapped inside by a blizzard — if the current weather forecasts are correct. But it doesn’t necessarily take heavy snow to create havoc. Sometimes, a coating of ice is sufficient. […]


Bracing for funding shift

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  For the past 37 years, the Kearny nonprofit Pathways to Independence Inc. has helped those with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live independently in their communities. Currently, from its 3-level, 18,000 square foot headquarters at Kingsland and Bergen Aves., it offers on-site […]


A new ‘acquisition’

Tim Bixler, of The Bixler Group Real Estate and Insurance and his wife, Charissa Bixler, welcomed their daughter, Addison Paige Bixler, on Tuesday, Jan. 20, at 1:20 p.m. Big brother Brayden is beyond excited. Only a few more years until […]



Luciano Ferreira Jr. 

Luciano Ferreira Jr. died Aug. 24 at Clara Maass Medical Center. He was 80.

Born in Newark, he moved to Kearny 45 years ago.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral Mass was held at Queen of Peace Church, North Arlington, followed by burial in Holy Cross Cemetery. To leave an online condolence, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Luciano was the owner of L. Ferreira and Son Fuel Oil Co.

Husband of the late Mildred (nee Swayze), he is survived by his children and their spouses; Mary and Vincent Abbott, Viola and Rick Diebold, Rosemarie and Alan Masters and Luciano Ferreira III. Brother of Caroline Mikulewiez, Rosemarie Covucci and the late Carmella Ferreira, he is also survived by his grandchildren Annmarie Grenga, Danielle and Vincent Abbott, Craig, Cyndi and Samantha Dieck, Alan, Michael and Kimberly Masters and Kerri Ferreira and seven great-grandchildren.

Samuel Latini 


Samuel Latini, retired police chief of East Newark, died peacefully Aug. 22, surrounded by his family after a brief illness.

A devoted and loving husband and father, Sam was the model of honor and integrity for everyone who knew him. His exuberance for life and vibrant personality made him a well-known pillar of friendship in the community and the symbol of caring in his family. Sam is remembered for his high energy, busy days and pursuit of the things he loved –always at the side of the one he loved, his wife of 65 years, Rosemarie.

Sam was survived by his beloved wife Rosemarie Latini and children Andrea Wasowski (Donald), Marianne Pendlebury (Tom), Sam (Terri) and Thomas (Sharon); sister Gloria Grieco; sistersin- law Catherine Latini, Molly Cancia, Mary Cancia and Alice Belfiore; and brotherin- law Dominick Cancia; nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. His brothers Adam and Lawrence Latini, brothers-in-law Pasquale Grieco and Sebastian Belfiore, and sister-in-law Lucy Latini predeceased him.

Sam was very active in his career as chief of police with life membership in the N.J. PBA Local 21, the Hudson County Police Chiefs Association and the East Newark Fireman’s Relief Association. He was also a member of the N.J. State Retired Police and Fireman’s Association Local 6 and the Retired and Disabled Police of America.

Arrangements were by Condon Memorial Home, 210 Davis Ave, Harrison. A funeral Mass was held at St. Anthony’s Church, East Newark. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Caring Hospice Services, Edison.

Hernan O. Vasquez 

Hernan O. Vasquez, of Harrison, entered into eternal rest on Monday, Aug, 25. He was 55.

Born in Callao, Peru, Hernan lived in Harrison since 1981. He worked for United Construction Weatherproofing, N.Y., for many years.

He is survived by his wife, Martha Vasquez (Donayre), children, Jose, Hernan Jr., Danpierre, Alex, and Daniel, father, Oscar O. Vasquez, eight brothers and sisters and an aunt, Bertila Escudero. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews and cousins. He was predeceased by his mother Maria A. Vasquez (Escudero).

Funeral services were under the direction of the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison. A funeral Mass was held at St. Cecilia’s Church, Kearny. His interment took place in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington. For information, please visit www.mulliganfuneralhome.org.

Then & Now

Photo by Karen Zautyk

Photo by Karen Zautyk


Last time, ‘Then & Now’ featured the Old Soldiers Home on Belgrove Drive in Kearny. This week, we focus on the statue of the Civil War infantryman that graced the property in front of the home’s canteen from 1888 until 1933. The Union Army soldier now stands on the opposite side of Belgrove, between the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts. But it’s a duplicate. The original, composed of zinc and white metal, disappeared after the Soldiers’ Home closed in ‘33. Historian Bill Styple found it in 1997, stored in the National Guard Armory in West Orange. As reported in Civil War News, ‘It was brittle and cracked and was missing such pieces as the left hand, part of an arm, musket and accoutrements.’ The Gen. Phil Kearny Memorial Committee raised $35,000 to create a bronze replica. ‘Molds were made of the remaining pieces and were created for missing parts,’ Civil War News said, noting that ‘Styple’s hand, his 1863 Springfield and other items stood in for the originals.’ The new statue was erected, with great ceremony (including Civil War cannons firing from Veterans Field), on Sept. 29, 2007. Today, the soldier views the vista from atop a 7-ton boulder from Gettysburg. 

-Karen Zautyk 

Nutley police arrest suspicious man who had warrants


During the past week, the Nutley Police Department responded to 120 calls for service, including 14 motor vehicle crashes and 38 medical calls. Among those responses were these incidents:

Aug. 23

Officers on patrol came across a man walking north on Franklin Ave. who fit a description broadcast by detectives of someone who had committed acts of criminal mischief on Aug. 15 on Franklin. The suspect was described as an African-American man with dreadlocks. Officers interviewed the man, identified as Earnest Bradley, 33, of Newark, and learned he was wanted on a warrant from the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office. He was later turned over to that agency for processing. Read more »

Kearny man collared in Lyndhurst home invasion



A suspect in a home invasion incident in Lyndhurst has been placed under arrest, according to the Lyndhurst Police Department.

Evanalain Sieberkrob-Hershman, 24, of Kearny, has been charged in connection with the incident, which happened Friday, Aug. 29, at a Bogle Drive residence.

Police said they responded to the location, at about 4:45 p.m., on a report of a robbery and assault.

Police said an unknown man had entered the house through an unlocked rear door, grabbed a 74-year-old woman who lives there and demanded money. At that point, police said, the woman’s husband, also 74, entered the kitchen and tried to intervene but was struck in the head by the intruder. Read more »

UPDATE: Missing Nutley woman found safely in Newark


Nutley Police have located Juilia Dellaguzzo, the 85-year-old missing woman who wandered off  yesterday.

Police say it appears she walked several miles south into Newark, and was found sitting inside a parked vehicle near her childhood home.

She appears to be in good condition, and is being treated to dinner by her family, police say.

The Nutley Police Department wishes to express thanks to all our media and publication partners for getting the word out so quickly.

Koppers developer picked


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


Hopes by Kearny to secure a developer for the old Koppers Coke Peninsula Redevelopment site have taken one step forward and two steps back. Kearny and Tierra Solutions, the owners of two of the three parcels in the South Kearny meadows area targeted for redevelopment, teamed with the Hudson County Improvement Authority, the third property owner, to jointly market the moribund site for new ratables in hopes of maximizing the future value of the property.

To that end, the HCIA – acting on behalf of all three – invited prospective developers to submit proposals which were eventually narrowed to a short list of two: The Morris Companies and Cleaner/Matrix.

On Aug. 13, the HCIA board of commissioners authorized its representatives to designate The Morris Companies as the prospective developer – but only for the HCIAowned Koppers site – and to proceed with negotiations for 180 days for a sale/purchase agreement.

Morris’s legal representative is Theodore A. Schwartz, a former deputy state attorney general and environmental law pioneer who is now a partner in the Lyndhurst law firm of Scarinci Hollenbeck.

HCIA Executive Director Norman Guerra said that when it came down to adding in costs to remediate the environmentally compromised 25-acre Kearny-owned former Standard Chlorine parcel and the 30-acre former Diamond Shamrock property owned by Tierra Solutions, the developer wasn’t persuaded to buy in to the concept of an all-inclusive project.

By contrast, Guerra said, the county has already invested in extensive cleaning of the HCIA property and “we’ll be raising our portion of the [redevelopment area] 13 feet above sea level in compliance with the latest FEMA flood control guidelines.”

Those improvements to be undertaken by the developer would be expected to serve as a “cap” for the property, he added.

Guerra said that Kearny representatives “did sit with [the developer] on their piece” in an effort – thus far, unsuccessful – to include the town’s property as part of the company’s overall development plan. The town may continue to press its case with the developer, he added.

As for the Tierra parcel, Guerra said that, “there was no offer for that property by any of the [prospective developers].”

If and when the HCIA and The Morris Companies can nail down a deal, Guerra said the 40-year-old company – which has offices in Rutherford and Florida – figures to build “close to 2 million square feet of big box warehousing” on 138 “buildable” acres of the Koppers site.

With additional work like “infrastructure and road access” to be undertaken by the company, Guerra figured that total build-out would “take a good six months,” once the project got off the ground.

Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos, reached on vacation, had this observation on the situation: “We’re exploring with Tierra developing our two sites together. … There is a developer interested but not from Morris. … The town doesn’t oppose the Morris designation; however, it’s in the town’s interest to explore other developer interest for the town-owned Standard Chlorine site. I think the town can achieve better financial terms that way.”

Incidentally, the mayor added, “Any matters relating to utilities or PILOTs (Payments in Lieu of Taxes) on any of the sites, including Koppers, can’t be done without the town’s agreement.”

Asked by The Observer why the HCIA elected to go with Morris over their competitor, Guerra said that while the overall “numbers from both were pretty comparable,” the rival firm’s submission proposed “phased” payments whereas with Morris, “we’d get paid up front.”

Among the completed industrial developments Morris lists on its website are: a 440,000 square foot Barnes & Noble facility, a 420,000 square foot Canon USA building and a 605,732 square foot Proctor & Gamble warehouse, all in South Brunswick; and a 733,688 square foot Wakefern building in Jamesburg.

Looming over the whole situation is a plan by NJ Transit to develop a micro-grid as a power source in the Peninsula redevelopment zone which is pending a federal funding review. And, if the agency gets its way, it’s unlikely that any new tax revenues will be generated from that use.

“If [NJ] Transit wants the property,” said Guerra, “they’re just going to have to take it through condemnation.”

School getting facelift

EN School_web1

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent


As summer’s clock winds down to the start of classes for the fall term, East Newark Public School is making all kinds of preparations to welcome students and staff back in style.

Newly installed Superintendent/ Principal Patrick Martin recently ticked off a list of improvements that staff and borough workers have done to enliven the century-plus-old building.

“We’ve undergone a huge facelift,” said Martin. Among the improvements he listed were these:

* All classrooms have gotten new window shades. “Many didn’t have any to begin with,” he said.

* The school’s early childhood center, located in the borough rec center, had a new air-conditioning system and a new refrigerator installed.

* A borough maintenance crew was doing some repairs in the school’s boys’ bathroom and came across original floor tiles, Martin said, so that flooring has been restored.

* The school’s kindergarten classroom – whose wall coloring probably has remained untouched for many years – is being painted, along with a staff conference room.

* An ancient cloakroom that had been used for storage for years has been emptied and cleaned, to be converted to a small group instruction area. With all other available rooms occupied, this was seen as the best alternative for the use of this space, Martin said.

* Ninety laptops and mobile carts priced at $120,000 that were ordered months ago – but whose delivery was delayed – have finally arrived.

“These are very important,” Martin said, “because our students will be using them this school year for the new state-mandated PARCC [Partnership for Readiness of Assessment for College & Careers] testing.”

When teachers report on Sept. 2, they’ll have two days of in-service technical training so they will also get oriented to the use of the new computer equipment, Martin said.

The first round of PARCC testing is scheduled in March 2015 and the second round in May. But, to help students acclimate to the computers and to use another measurement to see whether they are achieving state benchmarks, the school will administer an in-house practice run of a PARCC-like test in November 2014 and February 2015.

If there are marked differences between scoring results on the practice tests and the PARCC tests, Martin said school staff will have some basis for making an independent assessment of the results.

EN School_web2a

Photos by Ron Leir Superintendent/Principal Patrick Martin and staff are doing what they can to make East Newark Public School more academically successful with new laptops and more aesthetically palatable with student creations and a new coat of paint for an old kindergarten classroom.

Photos by Ron Leir
Superintendent/Principal Patrick Martin and staff are doing what they can
to make East Newark Public School more academically successful with new
laptops and more aesthetically palatable with student creations and a new
coat of paint for an old kindergarten classroom.


Students return for a halfsession of classes on Sept. 4 and, the next day, the fall semester swings into full session for everyone.

But before everyone gets down to the business of education, the school is throwing a welcome-back party for its 200-plus youngsters. “We’re calling it an ‘ice-cream social, ’’ Martin said. “We’ll close off N. Third St., between Davis and Central Aves., to traffic and give the students a chance to enjoy ice cream and music to kick the school year off on the right foot.”

On July 23, the East Newark Board of Education authorized a field trip for 60 students and 15 staffers to the Central Park Zoo in New York as the culminating activity for the school’s summer school program. For many of the kids, it marked the first time they’d traveled across the Hudson River, according to Martin.

For many, it was also their first exposure to a llama, goats, sheep and other animals which they were allowed to feed and pet.

Their journey to Manhattan also took them down Fifth Avenue for an up-close look at landmarks like Tiffany’s, Rockefeller Center, the New York Public Library’s main branch and Empire State Building, all of which they’d researched before the trip.

Martin said the school is hoping to expand its offering of field trips during the school year as a way of widening children’s awareness of the world outside East Newark.

As morale boosters, Martin has welcomed public displays of student art work along interior school stairwell walls and has, himself, taken a hand in not only brightening school décor but also adding to students’ cultural appreciation, by posting photos and capsule biographies of such artists as Billie Holiday and Renoir.

And he’s experimenting with subtle ways of prompting youngsters to begin thinking about future careers by hanging in hallways, at kids’ height, small mirrors with printed tags below, reading, for example, “Possible future Attorney.”

Too many birds of a feather flock to Nutley


By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 


Fire hoses didn’t work. Boom-boxes didn’t work. Will “fogging” do the job? Only time will tell.

The “job” is to drive the starlings from DeMuro Park, where they reportedly have been roosting in massive numbers.

Roosting and pooping. It’s the pooping that has the township concerned.

“They’re lovely little birds,” said Nutley Commissioner Mauro G. Tucci, “but when they roost in the thousands, they create a problem.” Which is why, for several nights last week, the park was temporarily closed for “fogging,” the spraying of an “environmentally responsible” aerosol called Methyl Anthranilate.

On Aug. 11, Tucci, director of Parks & Recreation, sent out an email alert to Nutley residents explaining the situation and noting that the town had contracted with a company called the Bird Doctor Nation wide (birddoctorinc.com) to apply the aerosol at DeMuro on the evenings of Aug. 18-23.

The area treated borders Wilson St. and Van Winkle, Margaret and Bloomfield Aves., where park neighbors reportedly have had to repeatedly clean extensive guano from cars and roofs and lawns, etc. (If you’d like to see what a mess masses of starlings can create, search Google Images for “starling droppings.” You might be surprised.)

In addition to being unsightly, the starlings’ excrement can pose a health hazard, Tucci said, since the spores become airborne. Besides, he added, “the smell is unbelievable.”

According to the commissioner’s email, the EPA has classified Methyl Anthranilate “as a naturally occurring flavorant and it has been declared GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) by the FDA.”

“It’s a food-based chemical,” Tucci told The Observer, noting that it is used to flavor grape gum and candy.

The alert explained, “Methyl Anthranilate’s method for bird control is a pain stimulus in the trigeminal nerves which are found in the throats and mucus membranes of the beak and eyes.” (Tucci put it in layman’s terms: “It irritates their nasal passages.”)

“Almost all animals have these nerves,” the email noted, “yet only birds have a negative response to Methyl Anthranilate. Birds ‘feel’ Methyl Anthranilate as pain, while mammals, including humans, sense it as a grape scent.”

When an area is “fogged,” the “target birds begin to associate the pain to the site. They are trained, with multiple applications, that the site is painful and they seek a new location.”

“Until now,” the email said, “there have been few options for the control of flocks of birds that invade and contaminate a site other than killing them. This fogging method will not kill the birds, it will simply cause them to not like coming to this area anymore.”

Tucci assured your correspondent that the chemical irritates the birds, but “it doesn’t harm them.”

“I would do anything not to harm them,” he said.

The Bird Doctor “fogged” the park at dusk, when the starlings come home to roost. Tucci had described prior roostings as resembling “something out of Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’.” We visited DeMuro on Sunday evening and saw some sort of feathered creatures flocking to the trees, but we could not tell if they were starlings. In any case, there did not seem to be an inordinate number. so perhaps the project has been a success. We await word.

Tucci told us that the township had previously tried to drive away the starlings with the help of the Nutley Fire Department’s hoses. Do not fret. This did not resemble riot control. “It was a gentle hosing,” the commissioner said.

“We just sprayed them with water.”

When that didn’t work, the town installed sonic boomboxes in the park, not for music, but to play the call of a predator bird. This was supposed to stress the starlings. It did not.

“We’ve called everybody” for advice, Tucci noted. Fish & Wildlife, the Audubon Society, et al. The Bird Doctor was finally contacted after a Nutleyite made that suggestion at a Township Commission meeting. Tucci said each “fogging” application was costing $895, for a total of $4,475.

By the way, according to its website, the Bird Doctor Nationwide is the “Official Pest Control Company of the N.Y. Yankees.”

Too bad it can’t control Orioles or Blue Jays. Or Red Sox.

To catch a raccoon


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


On an early August night, a few weeks ago, Kearny’s Julie Kelley recalls her husband Ed calling her to the window of the couple’s Morgan Place home and inviting her to look next door where the beacon from his flash light was focused.

It was there, caught in the glow from the beam, that she saw them – two raccoons straddling the space between the attic and roof of 47 Morgan Place.

After the couple snapped a photo, Kelley downloaded the image from her camera and sent it to Mayor Alberto Santos, who, in turn, forwarded it to the town’s Health Department.

“It worries me,” Julie Kelley told The Observer. “I have to live here. I don’t want raccoons in my house.”

Bill Pettigrew, a municipal public health inspector, said: “It was brought to our attention by a neighbor that a family of raccoons – a mother and two offspring – were living inside the home at 47 Morgan Place.”

That location has been well-known to the department since fall 2010 when the house was vacated and the Kelleys began to be plagued by various property issues: water spewing from a broken pipe in the basement, rats occupying a dilapidated garage, an unsafe exposed outdoor pool, backyard overgrowth, and now, animal squatters.

To deal with the prior problems, the town capped the leak, tore down the garage, filled in the pool and cut the grass, placing tax liens on the property owner’s tax bill for the cost of the work.

Photos by Ron Leir The town boarded up holes along the base of the porch and along the roof eaves of 47 Morgan Place to keep out critters and it set up traps outside the attic and in the backyard.

Photos by Ron Leir
The town boarded up holes along the base of the porch and along the roof eaves of 47 Morgan Place to keep out critters and it set up traps outside the attic and in the backyard.


As for the raccoons, Pettigrew figured the animals were getting in and out of the building through gaps in the roof eaves, in the front and rear of the house. So he enlisted the aid of the town’s public works crew to cover up the gaps with plywood and, with an assist from Bergen County animal control officer Bob Harris (contracted by Kearny on an as-need basis), rigged an outside trap with cat food and water along the eaves designed to allow an animal in but once inside, it could not return; it could go only one way – out.

“I also saw an opening at the base of the first floor where the siding meets the porch and we boarded that up, too,” Pettigrew said. “We also set up three traps on the grounds in the backyard.” It was in one of those traps that, soon after, “one of the offspring was caught,” he said. And, a few days after that, a skunk was found in a trap.

The Kelleys were concerned that possibly the mother raccoon and her other offspring remained inside the house, but Pettigrew told The Observer he felt that wasn’t the case.

“I put out more food inside the trap, plus food and water outside the ledge, about a foot away from the trap, as a lure, and, next day, I saw fresh claw marks on the siding and I saw that the food was gone and the water dish was tipped over on its side, so my guess is they got outside and we won’t see them inside anymore,” Pettigrew said.

“There are raccoons all over town,” he said. “It’s just nature. They even travel through the sewer system.”

And – like other animals in the wild – they may carry rabies or other diseases so it’s best to avoid contact with them, Pettigrew cautioned.

Massa names sewer committee


North Arlington Mayor Peter Massa has appointed an eightmember committee to interview Geraldine and Truman Road residents to learn the extent of sewer backups into basements and to team with the borough engineer to communicate possible solutions to residents.

In the meantime, the borough awaits the results of a camera inspection of the sanitary sewer system in the Geraldine Road area to ascertain the reasons for the backup flows.

The committee members are residents Mark Tylenda, Craig Josloff, Lenny Aluotto, Ray Martin, Steve Delpome and Lawrence Maleszewski, along with Borough Councilmen Richard Hughes and Tom Zammatore.

Hughes said sanitary sewer problems in the area date back decades. “The sewer backups in that neighborhood are probably 40 years old. We need to determine if the problem has gotten worse over the years and, if so, how many people are impacted by sewage backups.”

Zammatore said: “I believe we first need to determine the cause and scale of the problem and then determine the best, most cost-effective solution.”

At the Aug. 14 mayor/council meeting, the borough’s consulting engineer Thomas Lemanowicz said the camera inspection appeared to show no major structural problems with the sewer line that would explain the backups.

Councilman Joseph Bianchi wondered if rain water was contributing to the problem, based on a recent visit to the area during a heavy rain storm when he said he saw four inches of rain coming off the hill across Schuyler Ave. and onto roads in the neighborhood.

Whether that’s the case or not can’t yet be determined, according to Lemanowicz, who added that efforts will be made to stem the inflow of rainwater into the sanitary sewer line.