By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – A proposal by NJ Transit to build a backup power system in South Kearny to run its trains in cases of emergencies like another Superstorm Sandy threatens to derail a redevelopment plan […]
By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent HARRISON – James Fife, who taught history to a lot of Harrison High School students over the years, is now in the official Harrison history books. Fife, who will mark his 73rd birthday on […]
By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent KEARNY– A man who was severely burned in a Feb. 12 house fire at 131 Schuyler Ave. succumbed to his injuries last week at St. Barnabas Medical Center, authorities reported. The victim, Manuel Lampon, 66, […]
By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent KEARNY – Seven persons were displaced last week when a three-alarm fire left their Dukes St. home uninhabitable, authorities reported. As of press time, the exact cause of the blaze was still under investigation. […]
A10-month multi-agency investigation culminated Thursday in the arrests of 23 New Jersey men in connection with an international carjacking ring, one of whose alleged leaders is a Belleville resident, authorities reported. At a press conference, state Acting Attorney General […]
By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – Three more firefighters will be added to the rolls of the Kearny Fire Department later this year – assuming they make it through their training. But it still won’t be enough to make […]
By Anthony J. Machcinski
NORTH ARLINGTON –
Drivers traveling through the area for the past two decades have grown accustomed to the sight of a white van or truck with blue and orange lettering and associating it with John DeGrace Plumbing & Heating.
DeGrace, now entering his 20th year in the plumbing and heating business, has become a trusted face around town – a trust that wasn’t built overnight.
“I opened my business with one truck, and didn’t know anyone or any town, but we started slow and built ourselves up,” DeGrace said.
DeGrace believes that his continued success comes from being confident and providing quality service to his customers.
“I think our whole thing from day one was just being confident in our ability and doing it differently than other people,” DeGrace said.
DeGrace distinguished himself by creating a reputation for cleanliness and professional decorum. DeGrace, despite advice given to him from others in the industry, chose to outfit his employees with uniforms and emphasized keeping his trucks clean and organized.
“People care about having a uniform and nice trucks,” DeGrace explained. “We took pride in not just doing better work, but being neat and organized. We believe it wasn’t just a saying. We actually do it and we believe in being cleaner than everyone else.”
The purposeful attention to detail paid off for De- Grace, as his company has created a brand and reputation in the area for great service paired with professionalism.
“We’re still here and we have a great customer base,” DeGrace said. “They call and say how polite (our workers) are, that they’re not rude, and they explain things to the customer.”
Over the past 20 years, DeGrace said that the company’s success has come through evolving with the times.
“We’re constantly updating our knowledge,” DeGrace said.
One of the company’s newer facets, he noted, is in the sewer business. Using new technology, DeGrace and his crew can show a customer a problem, rather than just telling them what it might be.
“Camera work has been the biggest thing in the last five years,” DeGrace said. “If you can’t see the problem, you can’t fix the problem. A picture is worth a thousand words.”
John DeGrace Plumbing & Heating is located at 267 River Rd. in North Arlington. The company also features 24-hour emergency repair service.
Anyone searching for more information can visit www.degraceplumbing.com. To schedule an appointment, or to speak with a representative, dial 201-997-8565.
Private arrangements for Angelo Buttiglieri were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home.
Mr. Buttiglieri, a former Hudson County resident, died Feb. 18 in Jacksonville, Fla. Angelo was a self-employed retail salesman for many years in Jersey City. He was a World War II veteran. His burial was in Holy Cross Cemetery.
Richard A. Gelcius
Sr. Richard A. Gelcius Sr., 77, of Kearny, died on Feb. 22 at home.
Visiting will be at the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny, on Tuesday, Feb. 25, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. A Mass of Christian burial will be officiated on Wednesday, Feb. 26, at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Kearny. Interment will be in Holy Cross Cemetery.
Mr. Gelcius was in shipping and receiving with Chrysler Corporation, Tappan, N.Y., for 42 years, retiring in 2008. He served in the United States Army Reserve and was a member of UAW Local 3039, Tappan, N.Y.
He was the beloved husband of 50 years of Lucille Pankiewicz Gelcius; father of of Johanna Gelcius and the late Richard Gelcius Jr. ; brother of Marianne Cassidy, Barbara Rokas and Theresa Bilaitis; and and grandfather of Sabastian Shaw and James Gelcius.
In lieu of flowers, donations to The Raptor Trust, 1390 White Bridge Rd., Millington, N.J. 07946 email@example.com would be appreciated.
Thomas Hanley, 87, died Feb. 22 at his home in North Arlington.
Born in Harrison, he lived in North Arlington for the past 46 years. He was an avid bowler, a member of the Knights of Columbus Queen of Peace Council 3428, and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was a partner in Organization Services in North Arlington for the past 21 years. Previously, he worked as a draftsman for the Westinghouse Corporation in Newark for 32 years before his retirement in 1976.
He is the beloved husband of Margaret (nee Peck), the adored father of Kathleen Adamczyk and her husband Paul of North Arlington, Patricia Hanley of North Arlington, Thomas Hanley and his wife Martie of Lavalette, Marianne Carney and her husband Keith of Pequannock, Paul Hanley of Iowa, and the loving grandfather of 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
The funeral was from the Parow Funeral Home, 185 Ridge Rd., North Arlington on Tuesday, Feb. 25, with a funeral Mass at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, North Arlington, The entombment followed in Holy Cross Chapel Mausoleum, North Arlington.
Donations in his memory may be made to the North Arlington Volunteer Emergency Squad, P.O. Box 7088, North Arlington, N.J. 07031.
James Heinz, of Harrison, entered into eternal rest on Thursday, Feb. 20. He was 49.
James was a lifelong resident of Harrison. He graduated from Harrison High School in 1982 and worked as a computer programmer in New York City for the last 20 years. An avid drummer, he played in several bands throughout the New York City area.
Predeceased by his parents, James and Rosalie (nee Bilotti) Heinz, he is survived by his uncle, Sam Bilotti.
A memorial Mass will be held at Holy Cross Church, Harrison, on Wednesday, Feb. 26, at 10 a.m. Funeral services are under the direction of Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison. For information or directions, please visit www.mulliganfuneralhome.org.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Holy Cross Church, 16 Church Square, Harrison, NJ 07029 in loving memory of James.
Charles J. McBride, 83, died on Feb. 18 at his home in Kearny.
Arrangements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass was offered at St. Stephen’s Church, Kearny, followed by interment at Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.
Condolences and memories may be shared at www.thielereid.com.
Charlie was born in Harrison and raised in Newark. He has lived in Kearny for the last 44 years.
Mr. McBride was a signal supervisor for NJ Transit. Prior, he worked in the same capacity for Conrail and before that the Erie-Lackawanna Railway. He worked for 41 retiring in 1998.
He is survived by his son Charles P. and his wife Patricia (Stotz) McBride and his beloved grandchildren Charles “C.J.” and Mallory McBride. Charlie also leaves behind two brothers Raymond and Robert.
He was predeceased by his wife Sharon (McPhail) McBride, parents Charles P. and Louise C. (Conroy) McBride and siblings Veronica, Jerome, Ralph, Gene and Thomas.
“Pop-Pop Charlie” as he was affectionately referred to by many in Kearny will be deeply missed. Residents could always count on seeing him at youth sporting events or in Dina’s Cafe enjoying a cup of coffee.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (www.stjude.org).
Antoinette Pendlebury, 89, of Ormond Beach, Fla,, and formerly of Kearny, passed away Feb. 12.
Mrs. Pendlebury was a devoted and loving wife to the late John Pendlebury. She is survived by her children, Thomas and Marianne Pendlebury, John and Deborah Pendlebury, Mary and Keith Lewis, Michael and Vonda Pendlebury, 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Our Annie loved the Jersey Shore, cooking enormous meals for her family and the occasional jaunt to Atlantic City. Her sense of humor and love of a good story will always be remembered. But mostly, we will remember how much she loved her family. Ann was laid to rest beside her husband, on Feb 14 in Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, Fla.
Gladys Tubens, 60, passed away on Feb. 21.
Born in Lima, Peru, she immigrated to Kearny 20 years ago.
She is survived by her companion Enrique Brazo; her seven children Jesus, Gladys, Celena, Karina, Cinthia Cordova and Milagros De La Rosa and Miguel Calderon. Also surviving are eight grandchildren Samantha, Aaron, Kamille, Santos, Sebastian, Alexandra, Kate and Aurelio.
Arrangements were handled by Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny.
A teenage girl from Nutley who was reported missing since Feb. 11 is back home, Nutley Police said today.
Detective Sgt. Anthony Montanari said the parents of Christina Simeonidis called the department on the afternoon of Thursday, Feb. 20, to report that their daughter had returned home safely.
Montanari said he hadn’t yet talked to the parents to get a full accounting of where the girl had been and what she’d been doing.
“This is the seventh time she went missing in the last three months,” Montanari said.
— Ron Leir
By Ron Leir
Harrison lost its longtime chief executive when Mayor Raymond McDonough collapsed at his Town Hall office and subsequently died of an apparent heart attack on Wednesday afternoon, officials said.
Paramedics tried to revive him as he was rushed by ambulance to St. Michael’s Hospital, Newark, but McDonough, 65, was pronounced dead at the hospital, officials said.
A funeral Mass was held Monday at Holy Cross Church, Harrison, where the mayor was a longtime parishioner. Mulligan Funeral Home, Harrison, handled the arrangements.
Tributes to the late mayor came from public officials on all levels of government: Read more »
By Karen Zautyk
Restricted space in a basement apartment challenged firefighters who were attempting to rescue its sole occupant from a smoky blaze last week, officials reported.
The victim, a man believed to be in his 60s, suffered severe burns after being trapped in his bedroom, authorities said. He was being treated at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, where he was listed in critical condition with third degree burns. His identity wasn’t readily available.
The fire was reported at 3:28 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 131 Schuyler Ave., between Hoyt and Tappan Sts. Kearny Fire Chief Steve Dyl said there were two homes on the site, one behind the other, and the fire was in the one at the rear of the property.
Dyl said the resident of the first-floor apartment called in the alarm when he smelled and saw smoke. That individual was able to escape and told first responders there was a man in the basement unit. Read more »
By Ron Leir
With forecasters predicting a snow and ice blizzard in the making last week, municipal administrators and DPW chiefs were all burning up the phone lines, hoping against hope that an essential commodity would be arriving soon.
That commodity, of course, was rock salt.
Problem was that shipments were tied up on barges at the terminals at Port Newark and Port Elizabeth and lots of counties and communities were competing to grab as much as they could get, local officials said.
In a report issued by New Jersey 101.5, State Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson was quoted as saying that it takes three weeks for suppliers in Chile – a primary provider of rock salt – to get the material to the U.S. by boat. He said the state has located other sources in the Northeast U.S. but transportation logistical issues were complicating deliveries. He said the industry didn’t anticipate how much salt would be needed this winter. Read more »
By Karen Zautyk
It was only a matter of time. And of snow, and ice, and weight.
Last week, it seemed like every local news broadcast included yet another story about a roof collapsing somewhere in New Jersey. Sure enough, on Thursday night, it was Kearny’s turn.
The official calculation of snow depth in Kearny from the storm that began late Wednesday and continued into Thursday was 15 inches.
That near-record amount was, literally, on top of all the accumulated snow and glacial ice still remaining from this exceptionally brutal winter’s previous storms. Read more »
By Karen Zautyk
Four people were arrested and four police officers were assaulted — one of them kicked in the head by an arrestee — in an early-morning melee Feb. 8 at the Quick Chek store on Kearny Ave., authorities reported.
The officers, outnumbered and surrounded by an unruly crowd who refused to disperse and physically interfered with the arrests, were forced at several points to employ OC spray, KPD Chief John Dowie said.
The saga had begun a short time earlier near Kearny Ave. and Afton St., where two females reported to Officer Leroy Bibbs that they had been harassed and assaulted, and their car damaged, by several people who had then headed south on the avenue. Read more »
Among the happy events associated with Mayor Raymond McDonough and his beloved Harrison in recent years are, clockwise, from top right, a press conference last summer, attended by Gov. Chris Christie, marking a ceremonial groundbreaking for the long awaited Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s upgrade of its Harrison PATH station which figures to coincide with development of the town’s waterfront redevelopment area; Mayor McDonough at his home away from home, Harrison Town Hall, where, even as, technically, a part-time employee, he logged full-time hours and beyond; the mayor with the man he called “my new best friend,” Gov. Chris Christie, when McDonough became the first Democratic mayor in the state to endorse the governor for re-election last year as the pair exchanged greetings at Tops Diner in neighboring East Newark; and McDonough taking the oath of office as he was sworn in for his newest four-year term as the town’s chief executive by his lifelong friend, then-Municipal Court Judge John Johnson.
By Ron Leir
EAST NEWARK –
Since its courtship and conditional designation in May 2007 as the redeveloper of the old Clark Thread mill property, East Newark Towne Center has seemingly played the part of the reluctant bride.
Instead of uniting on a common path forward, the Long Island City, N.Y., real estate firm, headed by Efstathios Valiotis, and the borough have drifted further apart since the parties entered into negotiations on a redevelopment agreement.
Bad feelings between the two sides intensified after the borough hauled ENTC into Municipal Court over alleged fire and property code violations at the 12.5- acre site at 900 Passaic Ave. culminating in ENTC agreeing to pay a $100,000 fine.
But now, it looks as if the fragile partnership could be severed altogether, with ENTC having filed a breach of contract lawsuit against the borough, on Jan. 29, in Hudson County Superior Court.
The complaint, brought by attorney Thomas Scrivo of the Newark law firm McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, alleges that the borough’s representatives – and “in particular Mayor Joseph Smith” – engaged in “bad faith” negotiations, with a view toward scuttling the deal.
Smith says the borough has simply been trying to protect the interests of its taxpayers by getting the best deal possible without being potentially overwhelmed in providing municipal and educational services for the hundreds of new residents who would live at the redeveloped site.
ENTC’s complaint alleges that in April 2009, a month after it submitted a plan calling for construction of 800 residential units “at about 1,000 square feet per unit” subject to a proposed PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) agreement, the borough “unreasonably, arbitrarily and capriciously required further changes to the redevelopment agreement.”
Further, the complaint claims, the borough “has engaged in a pattern of delay and bad faith to thwart all development and financially enrich its professionals” whom ENTC agreed to pay for accounting, planning and engineering services sought by the borough in connection with the negotiations on the redevelopment plan.
After paying “in excess of $500,000” to those professionals, the borough asked for an additional $140,000 in April 2009, and, on top of that, the complaint adds, the borough suddenly asked ENTC to build a school for more than 300 children on the project site – a proposal it later amended by asking the company to adapt one of the existing buildings on the site as a school annex.
In November 2010, the complaint says, the borough proposed a “lesser density” among the number of residential units planned.
After ENTC agreed to set up an “interim escrow account” in April 2011 for the deposit of funds for professional services while continuing negotiations about disputed billings for those services through mid- June 2011, the complaint says that the borough in October 2013 billed the company for $70,000 “to replenish the escrow account.”
In a narrative it enclosed with its response to the borough’s Request for Proposals in March 2007, ENTC outlined a “project vision” that called for two options involving demolition of some of the existing buildings and conversion of others for residential development, one assuming a residential component of 613 apartments and the other, 767 apartments, both in a combination of one- and two-bedrooms, each one generating more than 1,000 individual residents, including 114 to 127 school-age children.
Also proposed were scenarios for varying amounts of retail space fronting the project’s Central Ave. side and varying amounts of office space along Grant Ave., along with a community center and green space courtyard. There would be a combination of deck and surface parking for about 1,300 vehicles.
Total development cost was pegged at between $190 million and $198 million, depending on which development scenario was chosen. Under a PILOT plan, the borough would receive between $1.7 million and $1.95 million in annual in lieu of tax revenues.
ENTC projected that the project would account for 700 construction jobs and 135 permanent jobs.