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Relief for commuters

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  LYNDHURST –  After what Lyndhurst Mayor Robert Giangeruso characterized as “33 years of starts and stops,” the township – with help from Bergen County – is finally beginning to see the start of improvements to the intersection at Kingsland and Riverside Aves. The changes […]

Convicted in mortgage swindle

A Belleville man was among three defendants convicted earlier this month in federal court for their roles in a $15 million mortgage fraud scheme involving condominiums in New Jersey and Florida, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman reported. Last month, another Belleville resident pleaded guilty in the same scam. According to […]

Walmart is keeping cops busy

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  The Walmart in Kearny is conveniently located on Harrison Ave., with easy access to Rt. 280, the N.J. Turnpike and feeder roads to Newark and Jersey City. This is a boon for shoppers. However, according to Kearny police, it is […]

2011 layoffs affirmed

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY – Four former Kearny workers, including a union chief, have lost the first round of a bid to reverse their New Year’s Eve dismissals nearly three years ago. In a 21-page ruling issued Sept. 3, the state Office of Administrative Law […]

Go pink at St. Michael’s

Don your favorite pink attire and join St. Michael’s Medical Center for a Breast Cancer Awareness Month event — Breast Health & You — on Saturday, Oct. 25, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at SMMC’s Connie Dwyer Breast Center, 111 Central Ave., Newark. Dr. Nadine Pappas, director of […]


Who’s who of Kearny ‘celebs’ in ‘Tribute to Old Time Radio’


By Kevin Canessa Jr. 

Observer Correspondent 


Most Kearny residents are quite used to seeing Mayor Alberto G. Santos cutting ribbons. We’ve all seen, at one point or another, Councilwomen Sue McCurrie and Carol Jean Doyle marching along in the big parade on St. Patrick’s Day up to their necks in shamrocks.

We’ve all read Jim Hague’s sports columns and stories right here on the pages of this newspaper. And yet, the aforementioned, and several other notables of Kearny, will be way out of their element on Oct. 24 and 25 as they star in the kickoff to the West Hudson Arts & Theatre Company’s new season in “A Tribute to Old Time Radio.”

That’s right — Kearny’s mayor and two councilwomen will be on stage with Jim Hague, his wife, Superior Court Judge Mary Costello, Vince Abbott, Dr. John Branwell, Cecilia Lindenfelser, John Peneda, Phil Thiele, Steven Thiele, Edmund Shea, Robert Strauch and Robert Zika.

They’ll be appearing in the old-time radio plays “Boston Blackie and the Fur Trade,” “The Great McGinty” and “Our Miss Brooks.”

Jerry Ficeto, a founding member and president of the W.H.A.T. board, says the idea was to bring together a group of well-known Kearny residents to put on a show that would draw people who might not otherwise go to a play. And let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to see a starstudded cast like this performing?

“We’re always thinking community,” Ficeto said. “Putting something like this on makes people want to see the people they know performing — people who are not normally on the stage. This is what we’re all about. And we figured we’d bring it all back to where performances started — on the radio — where the stars don’t need to memorize their lines.

“It’s a much easier way to act.”

That’s because just like back in the day when there were radio performances, the cast here will have all their lines right in front of them. They’ll be performing as if they were really broadcasting on the radio. Each segment is 28 to 30 minutes.

Linda Kraus D’Isa Cast practicing in reading positions.

Linda Kraus D’Isa
Cast practicing in reading positions.


But it hardly means the participants won’t be getting into character, Ficeto says. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

“At first I thought it might take some time for them to get into their roles, but it was only a matter of minutes,” Ficeto said. “For example, the mayor (Santos) plays a police role. And it didn’t take long for a fellow cast member, Judge (Mary) Costello, to tell him he might have a job in law enforcement if he ever steps away from being mayor.

“I mean, it really took about 20 minutes before everyone was taking on their characters, doing the voices. It’s just magnificent.”

Just how much does Ficeto think the show will attract people?

“Before tickets were even on sale, the first call came from [Essex County Assignment] Costello — Mary’s sister, Patricia,” Ficeto said. “We certainly hope other family members and friends do the same.”

During the weekend of performances, W.H.A.T. will kick off its 2014-15 season fundraising drive. As a grassroots organization, fundraising is vitally essential to ensure a full season of shows and educational programs.

“So there will, indeed, be opportunities for the people who come to the shows over that weekend to get involved with our fundraising efforts,” Ficeto said. “Community theater is the people’s theater. And at W.H.A.T., we are reminded that part of its beauty is seeing friends and neighbors on stage, having fun and sharing a passion.”

The two performances will take place at the W.H.A.T. Theater, at the First Lutheran Church, 65 Oakwood Ave., Kearny, on Friday, Oct. 24, and Saturday, Oct. 25, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are just $12 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens and may be purchased by calling 201- 467-8624 or by visiting www.whatco.org.

9th annual ‘Harvest of Hope’ this week

The Connie Dwyer Breast Center at St. Michael’s Medical Center, Newark, will host its ninth annual “Harvest of Hope” Friday, Oct. 17, at 6:30 p.m., at the Park Savoy Estate in Florham Park.

The event includes a cocktail reception, dinner and dancing, an awards presentation, a live auction, silent auction and 50/50 raffle.

Proceeds will support the Connie Dwyer Breast Center’s mission to provide top-quality breast care — from screening and diagnosis to treatment and followup –for all women.

Over the years, funds raised have allowed the center to purchase the most innovative technology in breast imaging, including two 3-D mammography suites with tomosynthesis, two advanced ultrasound units and equipment to offer 24-hour rapid diagnosis to breast biopsy patients.

For more information about “Harvest of Hope,” including ticket pricing, contact Janet Lesko at 973-877- 2624 or jlesko@smmcnj.org.

KPD suspect: Someone will die

The incident began in a bizarre manner and, as Kearny Police Chief John Dowie noted, it could have ended far worse than it did.

Last Friday, Oct. 10, police were sent to the 200 block of Oakwood Ave. after headquarters began receiving calls that a man was going door-to-door asking for a charger for his cell phone.

At 2:30 in the morning. Officers Michael Santucci and Angelo Palagano responded, got a description of the individual and soon located Justin Schultz, 23, of Ridgefield walking at Oakwood and Chestnut St. As the cops approached to question him, he reportedly refused to halt and ignored repeated orders to remove his hand from his pocket.

Backing away, he warned them that “someone is going to die tonight,” Dowie said. The officers “advanced on him at their own risk,” the chief said, and as Palagano temporarily blinded Schultz with a flashlight, Santucci employed OC spray. Schultz tried to flee but, his vision impaired by the spray, he ran into a parked car and the officers were able to apprehend him, although he reportedly fought their attempts to handcuff him.

The item Schultz was clutching in his pocket turned out to be a cell phone.

He was charged with resisting arrest, aggravated assault on a police officer and obstruction of the administration of law.

• • •

Other recent reports from the Kearny police blotter included the following:

Oct. 2 

At 1:15 p.m., a caller on the 100 block of Sanford Ave. reported seeing a man enter a backyard without a bicycle and leave with one. Officer Peter Jahera searched the area and located Danny Morales, 36, of Newark, who was ID’d by the witness.

Police said Morales was in possession of not only a bike but also a ShopRite bag containing $88 worth of Enfamil baby formula. Since the suspect was far closer to Walmart than to ShopRite, the former was contacted. Walmart scanned the cans and identified them as its property. Morales was charged with shoplifting as well as theft of the bike.


Officers Michael Santucci, Glenn Reed and Chris Medina responded to an 11 p.m. domestic dispute on Tappan St., where a man was reportedly “breaking up the house.” As Santucci was questioning him, 37-year-old Jan Himenez reportedly slammed and locked the door on the officer, who then heard the sounds of objects being broken inside.

After Santucci forced entry, pushing aside a TV blocking the door, Himenez allegedly flipped over a glass table and shoved it against the officer. Taken to the floor, he fought attempts by the three cops to cuff him, but was eventually restrained, taken to headquarters and booked for criminal mischief, resisting arrest and three counts of aggravated assault on a police officer.

Oct. 3 

Officers Palagano and Medina responded to Walmart at 1:30 a.m. after security reported that a shoplifter was somewhere in the parking lot with a cart full of merchandise ($1,264 worth). The officers spotted the suspect, Terrea Harding, 28, of Newark, loading items into a vehicle and brought her back to the store, where she was identified. Security then noted that a second woman, still inside, had stolen a cell phone, and the cops apprehended Nikiyah Linton, also 28 and from Newark. Police said the pair had been acting in concert.

Both were charged with shoplifting and conspiracy. Harding was also charged with resisting arrest and hindering apprehension, and police said Linton had an outstanding warrant from Newark.


At 3:40 a.m., a Kearny woman advised Officer Santucci that she had been confronted earlier on Quincy Ave. by an acquaintance, Jorge Balseca, 30, of Kearny, who had smashed her parked car with a club. Balseca came to HQ at Santucci’s request and was arrested for criminal mischief and possession of a weapon.


Officer Sean Kelly, investigating a 5 p.m. hit-run accident at Passaic and Park Aves., was advised that an off-duty N.J. state trooper had witnessed the mishap and had followed the offending vehicle, a black Honda Civic, to Passaic and Bergen Aves. Kelly and Sgt. Charles Smith arrived there to see Lorenzo Devone, 28, of Belleville, reportedly staggering away from the car. After field sobriety tests and an Alcotest, he was charged with DWI and having an open container of alcohol (a cup of vodka found in the center console) in a vehicle. Police said he also had a warrant from East Newark.


At 5:45 p.m., Officer Daniel Esteves was on patrol on Johnston Ave. when his mobile computer alerted him to a Nissan with an expired Texas registration. He also confirmed that owner Emmanuel Abreu, 22, of Kearny had an outstanding Kearny warrant. Abreu was arrested and the car was impounded.


At 6:30 p.m., at Afton St. and Kearny Ave., off-duty Det. Michael Gonzalez observed Daniel Tammaro, 19, of Kearny, whom he knew to have a Kearny warrant. Officers Brian Wisely and Kevin Arnesman searched the area and took Tammaro into custody.

Oct. 5 

At 3:20 a.m., after a report of an individual asleep in a car, Officer Jay Ward found a Hyundai stopped in the northbound lane of Kearny Ave. at Hoyt St. — its engine running, the car in drive, and the driver in dreamland.

Police said Ward put the auto in park and, after several attempts, managed to awaken Ranulfo Almeida, 32, of Kearny. Believing Almeida to be too intoxicated to perform FSTs, Ward brought him to HQ , where he reportedly refused to answer questions or submit to an Alcotest. He was charged with DWI, DWI in a school zone, refusal to take the Alcotest and reckless driving.

Oct. 7 

At 4:30 p.m., Ward arrested yet another slumberer at Kearny Ave. and Hoyt St., but this one was napping on the lawn at St. Cecilia’s Church. Along with Officer Arnesman, Ward roused Arthur Smith, 50, of Kearny, who reportedly became confrontational. Smith was charged with disorderly conduct and was also issued a summons for public intoxication.

Oct. 8 

Officer Jack Grimm, assigned to 2:30 p.m. dismissal duty at Kearny High School, saw in the area Franklin Salcedo, 18, of Kearny, whom he knew to be wanted on a township warrant. A search incident to arrest reportedly produced a plastic bag of suspected marijuana. Salcedo was charged on the warrant and with possession of the drug and drug paraphernalia.

Oct. 9 

Shortly before 1 a.m., it was back to Walmart, where Officer Palagano took into custody a woman whom security said had been trying to conceal clothing in her pocketbook. Jaleesa Torres, 25, of Irvington was arrested for shoplifting and on a theft warrant from Newark, motor vehicle warrants from Summit and Elizabeth and a town ordinance violation warrant from East Orange.


At 8 p.m., on the 500 block of Forest St., Officer Kelly came upon the week’s Sleeper No. 3, a teenager snoozing on the sidewalk, his feet propped up on a large bag of laundry. When awakened, he reportedly was disoriented and showed signs of intoxication.

While attempting to ID him, Kelly put him in the radio car, but the youth became agitated, tried to push past the officer and then kicked him, police said. At that point, he was cuffed and taken to HQ , where he had to be forcibly removed from the car.

Later identified as a 17-yearold Kearny resident, he was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, resisting arrest and underage possession of alcohol, and was released in the custody of his father.

 – Karen Zautyk  

Around Town


The Township of Belleville hosts a Community Shredding Day for residents only (no businesses) Saturday, Oct. 18, 8 a.m. to noon, at the Senior Recreation Center, 125 Franklin Ave. Proof of residence must be shown.

Belleville Public Library and Information Center, 221 Washington Ave., hosts a screening of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” Saturday, Oct. 18, at 2 p.m. and a Halloween party on Saturday, Oct. 25, at 2 p.m. No registration is required.

Belleville Elks Lodge 1123, 254 Washington Ave., holds its monthly breakfast Sunday, Oct. 19, 9 a.m. to noon. Cost is $6 for adults and $3 for children under age 10 and children under age 3 are admitted free.

Belleville UNICO sponsors a bus ride fundraiser to the Taj Mahal, Atlantic City, Sunday, Oct. 19. Cost is $30 prepaid or $35 the day of the trip. (Receive $35 slot play) The bus will leave at 8:50 a.m. from the Senior Citizens Center, 125 Franklin Ave. A continental breakfast will be served at the center at 8 a.m. Call 973-759-9259 to reserve seats. (No last minute cancellations. Mail checks, payable to Belleville UNICO, to: Gene Antonio, 436 Joralemon St., Belleville, N.J. 07109.

All civic associations, classic cars and motorcycle clubs are invited to participate in the Belleville Veterans Day Parade Sunday, Nov. 9, at 1 p.m. Those interested may contact Bill Steimel at 973-759-4692 (home) or 973-955-7211 (cell) no later than Oct. 17.


Bloomfield Public Library, 90 Broad St., announces these upcoming events:

  • Learn about the reasons for hauntings and related topics from Shirl Knobloch, author of “The Returning Ones, A Medium’s Memoirs,” Saturday, October 25, at 2 p.m.
  • Book Club meets Monday, Nov. 3, 6:45 to 7:45 p.m., to discuss “I Am Not Esther” by Fleur Beale. For more information, call the reference desk at 973-566-6200, ext. 219 or 220.

Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center, 240 Belleville Ave., offers these events:

  • A Garden of Pink Dedication celebrating the center’s “Sponsor a Tulip” program for its Breast Cancer Awareness garden is slated for Oct. 18 at 10 a.m. A one-time $25 fee buys a bulb and assures its care.
  • Children ages 3 to 9 are invited to “Party with the Great Pumpkin” and enjoy snacks, crafts and a chance to take a picture with the pumpkin on Oct. 18 at 11 a.m. Reservations are required.

For tickets, reservations or information, call 973-429-0960.

East Newark 

Borough Council urges residents to avail themselves of free breast and prostate cancer screenings. Fill out an eligibility form at the Municipal Building, 34 Sherman Ave., on Mondays and Wednesdays, between 5 and 7 p.m. Screenings are open to women ages 35 and 64 for mammography, women ages 21 and 64 for pap smear and men ages 50 and 64 for prostate/colon screenings. Eligible participants must have no insurance or indicate that their current insurance will not pay for these screenings. Income limits vary with the degree of insurance, so those with limited or no insurance are advised to fill out an initial eligibility form.


The Women’s Social Club of the Harrison/East Newark Elks Lodge sponsors a bus ride to Caesar’s Casino, Atlantic City, Sunday, Oct. 26. Cost is $30 with a $25 slot bet in return. A bus leaves from the lodge, 406 Harrison Ave., at 10 a.m. For reservations, call Shirley at 973- 483-6451. Participants must pay in advance.


Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate/Coccia Realty sponsors a coat drive, Oct. 15 to Nov. 15, at its Kearny, Lyndhurst and Rutherford offices. Coats will be distributed to the less fortunate in the area. Drop off gently used or new coats between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays or from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends at any of these participating offices: 636 Kearny Ave., Kearny; 273 Ridge Road, Lyndhurst; or 11 Park Ave., Rutherford. For more information, call Randy Wine at 201-939-0001.

Presbyterian Boys-Girls Club, 663 Kearny Ave., hosts the East Coast Professional wrestlers Friday, Oct. 17, at 7:30 p.m. Advance tickets are $12 and are available at Sunset Deli, 680 Kearny Ave., and at Big Nick’s Pizza, 72 Davis Ave., or call Tom Fraser at 201-991- 6734.

Kearny Recreation Department is holding registration for the 2014 Street Hockey League season through Friday, Oct. 17, at its office at Town Hall, 402 Kearny Ave. Registration hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays. All boys and girls ages 6 to 14 (must turn 15 after Jan. 1) are eligible to participate. A registration fee, proof of residence and birth certificate are required. Players must furnish: hockey shin guards, gloves, elbow pads, helmet with cage, mouth guard, athletic cup (for boys) and hockey stick. Coaches, assistant coaches and referees are needed. For more information, call 201-955-7983.

Kearny Lions Club sponsors a flea market and collectible show Sunday, Oct. 19, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Frank Vincent Marina, 205 Passaic Ave. (next to Applebee’s and Burger King). Admission is free. For information, call 201-998-1144 or email events@jcpromotions.info.

The Salvation Army of Greater Kearny, 443 Chestnut St., offers classes in basic computer skills plus Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint Mondays and Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to noon. The fee is $30 for 12 hours of instruction. For more information, call 201-991-1115 or Pete at 201-889-1352.

Grace United Methodist Church, 380 Kearny Ave., sponsors a turkey dinner Friday, Oct. 17, 5 to 6:45 p.m. Admission to the dinner is $10 but there is no charge for a live auction beginning at 7 p.m. Dinner tickets may be purchased at the door. Take-out orders will be available. For more information, call 201-991- 1132.

Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., offers the following free programs:

  • No-Bake Cooking classes, for ages 4 to 8, are held Wednesdays, 4 to 5:30 p.m., beginning Oct. 22. The class will meet for four weeks. Recipes will take food allergies into consideration.
  • Tempest Storybook Theatre, an interactive story and craft program, open to all ages, celebrating the books of Bernard Waber, is offered Saturday, Oct. 25, at 10 a.m.

Space is limited. To reserve a spot, call 201-998-2666.

The Rosary Society of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 136 Davis Ave., sponsors an Oktoberfest, with live music and food, Friday, Oct. 24, in the church basement. (BYOB). Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $25. For tickets, call 201- 991-2808 or 201-998-4616.

A Doggie Halloween Parade and Festival, sponsored by the Kearny Urban Enterprise Zone program, is set for Saturday, Oct. 25, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Arlington Depot Park, off Midland Ave., between Forest and Elm Sts. Dogs can be registered for a costume contest by providing a current dog license and proof of rabies vaccine. Registration forms are available at www.kearnynj.org, the KUEZ office at 410 Kearny Ave., or K-9 corner, 169 Midland Ave. For more information, call 201-955-7985 or email Halloweenpawrade@kearnynj. org. All dogs either attending or participating in the festival must be leashed.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1302 and American Legion Post 99, in conjunction with the Kearny Police and Fire Departments, host Octoberfest Saturday, Oct. 18, noon to 6 p.m., at Veteran’s Field, Bergen Ave. and Afton St. Proceeds will be used to send items to N.J. National Guard soldiers deployed overseas. Bring nonperishable items to send. The event features live music, food and displays from both the Kearny Fire Department and the N.J. National Guard. Vendors and sponsors are needed. For more information, call the post at 201-991-9645.


Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3549, 527 Valley Brook Ave., hosts karaoke on Friday, Oct. 24, beginning at 7:30 p.m. The post hall is available for all occasions. For more information, call 201-939-3080.

ShopRite of Lyndhurst, an Inserra Supermarkets store, 540 New York Ave., hosts the following free programs, each led by in-store registered dietician Julie Harrington. Advance registration is not required, unless otherwise noted. For more information or to pre-register for a program, contact Harrington at 201-419-9154 or email Julie. harrington@wakefern.com. ShopRite’s retail dietitians can serve as guest speakers/ instructors at wellness events hosted by local organizations. Here are the upcoming events:

  • Fall Harvest Cooking Class teaches how to use fall’s fresh bounty to prepare a delicious and nutritious meal Wednesday, Oct. 22, at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Pre-registration is required.
  • Scary Facts about Sugar are shared at the Dietitian’s Corner Thursday, Oct. 23, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • High Fiber Friday at the Dietitian’s Corner explains how to meet your fiber requirements Fridays, Oct. 24 and 31, noon to 2 p.m.
  • Soups and Stocks Cooking Class offers tips on how to make a tasty stock and a new soup recipe Tuesday, Oct. 28, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Pre-registration is required.

The Third-Tuesday-of-the- Month Walk with the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and the Bergen County Audubon Society is slated for Tuesday, Oct. 21. This free two-hour nature walk starts at 10 a.m. at the entrance to Losen Slote Creek Park in Little Ferry. Check meadowblog.net for last-minute weather updates. Participants are asked to sign a standard liability release for this event that is good for NJMC/BCAS events throughout the year. To R.S.V.P., contact Don Torino of the BCAS or call 201-230-4983.

Lyndhurst Public Library, 353 Valley Brook Ave., hosts the following events:

  • Children ages 3 to 10 can meet “Belinda Bumble Bee” author Jennifer Katafigotis Wednesday, Oct. 22, 4 to 4:30 p.m. • Halloween craft, for K to grade 4, is held Monday, Oct. 27, 3:30 to 4:15 p.m.
  • Halloween Parade, for Pre- K to grade 3, steps off Friday, Oct. 31, at 3:30 p.m.
  • Book Club discusses “The Body in the Library” by Agatha Christie Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 6:30 p.m. Call the library at 201-804-2478, ext. 7, for more information and to obtain a copy of the book. Space is limited.

Registration is required for all of these events. To register, call the library at 201-804-2478.

The Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst sponsors a children’s Tricky Tray Oct. 18, at noon, at the Senior Building, 250 Cleveland Ave. Admission is $5. For tickets, call Janet at 201-935-1208.

Lyndhurst Health Department, 601 Riverside Ave., hosts a dinner and osteoporosis seminar Wednesday, Oct. 22, at 6 p.m., at the Senior Center, 250 Cleveland Ave. Call 201-804- 2500 to register.

North Arlington 

Queen of Peace Rosary Society sponsors a Tricky Tray Friday, Oct. 17, at 6 p.m., at San Carlo Fine Caterers, Lyndhurst. The $40 admission includes a four-course dinner and one sheet of small prize tickets. Among the prizes are gift baskets, gift certificates, an iPad and more. Grand prize values start at $500. For more information and tickets, call Betsy at 201-997-3914 or Pegeen at 201-246-1030.

North Arlington Elks Lodge 1992, 129 Ridge Road, hosts its 11th annual Memorial Tailgate Party on Sunday Oct. 19. The parking lot opens at noon. Admission is $ 20 (kids free). Queen of Peace Church in North Arlington will celebrate Priest Appreciation Sunday, Oct. 26, 1 to 3 p.m. Call 201-997- 0700 for more information.

North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Road, offers the following programs:

  • Computer Basics class is slated for Mondays in November from 6 to 7 p.m.
  • Decorative Arts program features a representative of the Newark Museum presenting an overview of the museum’s vast decorative arts collection Thursday, Oct. 23, at 6 p.m.
  • Woman’s Club Craft, open to K to grade 5, is held Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 6:30 p.m. No registration is required.

For more information, call the library at 201-955-5640. Registration is required, unless otherwise noted.

The Senior Harmony Club of North Arlington sponsors a trip to Trump Taj Mahal, Atlantic City, Tuesday, Oct. 21. Cost of the trip is $25. Attendees will receive $30 in slot play and $5 for food. Non-members are welcome. For reservations or more information, call Florence at 201-991-3173.

North Arlington Woman’s Club sponsors a beefsteak fundraiser Friday, Oct. 24, 7 to 11 p.m., at the Knights of Columbus hall, 194 River Road. Tickets are $40. Proceeds benefit various local charities. For tickets and more information, call Christine at 201-577-1088 or Fran Sardoni at 973-818-6421.


Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive, offers the following programs:

  • Teen Graphic Novel Club, open to grades 9 to 12, meets Monday, Oct. 20, at 3:30 p.m.
  • Teach a Librarian Minecraft, open to grades 7 to 12, is offered on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. The library will have food and some devices available but kids are encouraged to bring their own if they can.
  • Cook-with-a-Book Reading Club. for grades 4 to 6, meets Friday, Oct. 24, at 3:30 p.m. The group will discuss a book and cook up something fun to eat. Registration is required.
  • Halloween Costume Party is slated for Monday, Oct. 27, at 6:30 p.m. Registration is required.
  • Teen Zombie Night, open to grades 7 to 12, will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 28, at 6:30 p.m. This event includes zombie costume contest, pizza, games and a movie.
  • Pumpkin Painting, with pumpkins and supplies provided, is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 30, at 10:30 a.m. Wear an old T-shirt and bring a box to take your pumpkin home. This is open only to Nutley residents with library card. Registration is required.

For more information, call 973-667-0405.

Postman charged in check thefts


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

A U.S. Postal Service letter carrier has been charged with stealing more than $20,000 in federal tax refunds from four Lyndhurst residents’ mailboxes, police said.

Investigators from the USPS working with Lyndhurst Police Sgt. John Kerner traced the thefts to a particular postal employee who delivered mail to all four victims who live in the same neighborhood, according to Lyndhurst Det. Sgt. John Valente.

In the process, “we cleared four cases dating from last spring and summer,” Valente said.

Police charged Elvis Castillo, 45, of Union City, with four counts of theft on Oct. 8 after federal postal investigators brought the suspect to police headquarters for processing.

Castillo was released, pending a court date, after posting 10% cash of his $5,000 bail, Valente said.

Castillo has been linked to these federal tax refund thefts:

• A check in the amount of $4,215 reported stolen May 31, 2013, from a location in the 700 block of First St.

• A check for $4,183 reported stolen July 8, 2013, from a location in the 600 block of Lewandowski St.

• A check for $4,407 reported stolen July 23 from a location in the 700 block of Third St.

• A check for $7,200 also reported stolen July 23 from a location in the 600 block of Third St.

All of the victims are within a couple of blocks of each other, Valente said.

Valente said that Castillo reportedly told postal investigators that he was involved in a scheme to take the checks through another individual who would actually take them from the mailboxes and that he (Castillo) would get $500 for each of his “tips” to the alleged confederate.

Valente said he hasn’t been made aware of any other individuals who may have been charged in the caper.

Valente said the stolen checks were cashed at various banks but, again, he said he wasn’t privy to the means or method of how that happened. Any possible forgery charges, for example, would be filed in the community in which the crime occurred, he said.

In other criminal incidents logged by Lyndhurst PD during the past week, police corralled two North Arlington teens in connection with burglaries to vehicles parked in the area of Elizabeth Ave. and Lewandowski St. on Oct. 10.

Police responded to the area at 9:17 p.m. on a report that two females were seen in the neighborhood checking out parked cars and got a description of the females from a resident. A bit later, police – acting on those descriptions – grabbed Maria Mendieta, 19, at Schuyler and Elizabeth Aves., and a 17-year-old girl at Union Ave. at the North Arlington border. Each had less than $5 in pocket change – pennies, nickels and dimes – which police believe was taken from two of the cars in Lyndhurst. Both were charged with theft. The 17-yearold was released, pending a juvenile hearing, to her parents.

On Oct. 12, at 6:08 p.m., police received a report that a boy’s Pacific Silver Wing bicycle, yellow and red, with two flat tires, valued at $100, was stolen from the rear of a residence in the 200 block of Tontine Ave.

And, on Oct. 5, police issued Christine Renna, 32, of Lyndhurst, a summons charging her with shoplifting after security personnel at ShopRite on New York Ave. detained Renna as she was allegedly trying to leave the store with $73 worth of miscellaneous items in her shopping cart.

Nutley wins SEC XC championship

10-15 Nutley_web

First league championship for cross country program in 32 years


By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer 

Before the current cross country season began, Nutley head coach Gerald Ryan believed he had the makings of a special team.

“I had an inkling that if we stayed healthy and if we could stumble across one or two freshmen who would become pieces to the puzzle, then we could contend for a league championship,” Ryan said.

Well, that’s exactly what happened last week, when the Maroon Raiders won the Super Essex Conference-Liberty Division championship at Branch Brook Park in Newark.

The Maroon Raiders won by nine points over runner-up West Essex with Glen Ridge third.

It marked the first time that Nutley had captured a league championship in boys’ cross country since 1982, when the Maroon Raiders won the old NNJIL crown.

Ryan, a proud Nutley alum, was 10 years old the last time Nutley won a league championship.

“I was in fourth grade,” Ryan said. “It’s been a while. It’s really great for the kids. The sense of determination grows every day in these kids.”

Leading the way is junior Luke Michels, who won the overall individual title in 17:12.

“Luke pulls everyone along together,” Ryan said. “He has a disciplined work ethic. He’s always pushing himself and wants to be able to pull the rest along.”

Michels believed that the Maroon Raiders would be successful at the league meet.

“I really thought we could do this,” Michels said. “We prepared all summer for this and we just went all out. We’re all one big unit. We have pasta parties together all the time. We feel connected to each other and we’re willing to help each other out.”

“Luke understands the team concept,” Ryan said. “He’s not concerned about himself as much as he is with the others on the team. He was in a tough spot, being out there all by himself.”

Michels won the race by a full 47 seconds. “When you’re running by yourself, it’s hard to push yourself,” Ryan said. “At the mile mark, he was already in the lead by 15-to-20 seconds.

There was no one there with him. At that point, you can’t even hear footsteps. But he’s running well.”

Ryan believes that Michels should be in the hunt for an NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group III title at Greystone Park in Morris Plans in a few weeks.

“He’s run Greystone already (at the Greystone Invitational last Friday) and finished fifth overall in 16:37,” Ryan said. “So he should be in the mix there.”

“It’s been a real confidence booster,” Michels said. “I’m looking forward to the sectionals and hopefully moving on to the Groups (at Holmdel Park). That’s my goal and I feel like I can do it.”

Sophomore Eric Vogler was next for the Maroon Raiders at the SEC meet. Vogler finished fifth overall in 18:08.

“He ran track for us last spring, but didn’t run cross country last year,” Ryan said. “His attitude has really impressed me. He’s a hard worker who is willing to do anything for the team. He really has emerged as a runner and has been very consistent.”

Freshman Jimmy Quinn was next for the Maroon Raiders, placing 13th overall in 18:41.

“I went to high school with his dad, Jim,” Ryan said of the younger Quinn. “I’ve known Jimmy growing up, but I definitely never expected what we’re getting from him. He’s been a pleasant surprise. I think he feeds off Luke a little and pushes himself to be like Luke.”

Senior Steve La was right behind Quinn, finishing in 14th place in 18:47.

“He’s always working,” Ryan said of La. “I think that’s the MO of the entire team. Steve has been around the program for a few years and is a great kid. I’m glad to see that the hard work he’s put into the sport is beginning to pay off.”

Junior Michael Conca was next in line, finishing 15th , right behind teammates Quinn and La.

“The Conca family name has been running for Nutley since the 1970s,” Ryan said. “Michael just falls in line with the rest of his family. Mike started late this year, but has worked himself back into running shape and is now making a contribution.”

Junior Anthony Castronova was 26th overall.

“He’s the vocal leader on the team,” Ryan said. “He has a great attitude and gives 100% every race.”

Freshman Gerard Dimayuga was 28th overall.

“He’s been a big surprise,” Ryan said. “From the first day of practice, he’s shown a lot. He learned how to push himself and has matured fast. He’s making big contributions to the program.”

Ryan is soaking up the team’s success. He’s been the head coach for eight years and coaching track in the district for 18 years.

“This definitely gives me a little sense of accomplishment,” Ryan said. “It’s something that can never be taken away. Records come and go, but there will be a banner up in the rafters. It will be on T-shirts and jackets that we won the league. It’s great for the kids and a great accomplishment for our program. Nutley is not one of the better known spots for runners.”

Michels is also pleased that the team will be forever remembered.

“It’s really amazing being put next to the 1982 team,” Michels said. “It’s really awesome.”

It’s also pretty awesome to make a little history in the process.


Lyndhurst girls’ volleyball: Making strides toward respectability


By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer


Alan Clements enjoyed an excellent career as a volleyball coach, first at Fair Lawn High School, where he still teaches, then on the college ranks at Bergen County Community College, then Felician College and finally Mercy College in New York, where he spent three years.

But then Clements walked away from coaching the sport he loved – because of two other people he loved more.

You see, Clements is a single father, raising his son and daughter on his own.

“They were a junior and senior in high school and they were starting to search for colleges,” Clements said. “So I had to get away from coaching for a while.”

But after both of his children had settled into college, they pleaded with their father to do one thing.

“They said, ‘Dad, you have to get back into it,’” Clements said. “So I started looking.”

A little more than a year ago, Clements made a few phone calls to friends in the volleyball ranks. He found out that Lyndhurst needed a new head coach.

“I knew that Lyndhurst was rebuilding,” Clements said. “But I like building things. It’s not the place most coaches would go, but I thought I could blend in and build something.”

When Clements arrived last year, the Lyndhurst girls’ volleyball program was in transition.

“But I never had a group of girls who worked harder,” Clements said. “We were basically starting from scratch. These girls bought in and had a summer program. They went to camp together.”

The Golden Bears won a total of nine matches last season, but had almost a complete turnover from last year. Most of the starters on last year’s team graduated.

Clements knew that this year’s team was ready to work.

“We scheduled the first practice at 3:30 p.m. because I still work in Fair Lawn,” Clements said. “We got out early that day and I went straight to Lyndhurst. When I got there at 2:15, I found 29 girls sitting outside in the heat, waiting to practice. That showed me they were eager. Then, after practice was over, they asked if they could stay and keep going. They’re not great volleyball players, but they’re dedicated athletes.”

Most of Clements’ roster never even played the sport of volleyball before they enrolled at Lyndhurst.

“I joined the sport because I wanted to do something new,” said senior outside hitter Rachel Martin. “I always played soccer before high school. But I wanted to do something different.” Michael Rizzo, currently a vice-principal and a former assistant volleyball coach as well as the school’s bowling coach, taught a lot of the current members of the Golden Bears when they were in eighth grade. Rizzo encouraged many of them to consider playing volleyball – and they did.

“I really thought it would be fun,” said Kathleen Totaro, a senior defensive specialist. “Rizzo was the one who brought me in, because he sounded like he knew what he was doing.”

“I wanted to try something new things in high school,” said senior Jessica Shortino. “Volleyball just seemed so intense. Coach Rizzo was so enthusiastic about me playing.”

Others liked what the sport offered.

“I liked the intensity of it,” said senior settler Samantha DaSilva. “I loved diving on the floor after the ball. The game is real quick. I loved the pace of the game.”

“I just like being involved,” said senior setter Emily Young. “My sister played volleyball, so I knew about the sport. Rizzo helped by putting the bug in my ear.”

But there was no guarantee that the newcomers would be successful.

“We knew it was going to be tough, because none of us had experience,” Young said. “We were all starting from scratch. We were building a team.”

So the new coach was inheriting new players who all had the same goal.

“We wanted to do something special,” Shortino said.

As they all entered their senior year, the Golden Bears wanted to make their final season their best.

“I always feel like we’re going to have a successful season,” Clements said. “That’s just the way I feel. Our goal at the beginning of the season was to make the state playoffs and the county playoffs.”

Seemed like a lofty goal for a team that won only nine matches last year. But the Golden Bears have defied the odds and have already won 10 times this year.

“I think we have a group of overachievers,” Clements said. “They work so hard all the time. They are good role models. The freshmen actually look up to them. It’s all good. They want to learn the right way to play and are doing some really nice things. Other coaches are amazed with what we’re doing, but I always had faith. I think we’re where I thought we would be.”

The players are enthused about their prospects.

“It feels great,” Martin said. “We never had a winning season before. I think we’re setting an example for those younger than us. “

“It’s almost surreal,” Totaro said. “As a senior, it’s great that we’re finally able to win. I’m excited for the entire program, because I know the program will succeed after we leave.”

DaSilva agreed.

“No one expected us to do well,” DaSilva said. “This is such a change from years past.”

“Every senior wants to go out with a bang,” Young said. “We’re proving everyone wrong.”

Led by a coach who always believed in his team.

“I get up every morning and can’t wait to get here,” Clements said. “I love my job in Fair Lawn, but these girls are like my second family. They all have great attitudes and want to play. I never have a discipline problem with them. It’s been great.”

So have been the results. The Golden Bears have a winning volleyball season. That says it all.

Kearny’s Paiva enjoying epic scoring season

10-15 AOW_web

By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer 

Barbara Paiva was born in Brazil, entering a family that had a strong background in the sport of soccer. Her father, Adao, was a premier soccer player there. Her uncle, the late Achilles Reis, was a professional player who had a stint with the Brazilian National team.

One would think that Paiva would naturally gravitate toward the sport as well.

But that wasn’t the case.

“I was into karate,” said Paiva, who came to Kearny when she was seven years old and started playing soccer two years later.

“I thought I should give soccer a try,” Paiva said. “I always watched the sport. My dad always played. I figured, ‘Why not? I should try it.’”

Paiva tried out for the famed Kearny Thistle youth soccer program and didn’t exactly enjoy instant success.

“When I first started with it, I never expected to actually play,” Paiva said.

But Paiva became dedicated to the sport and used her father as a powerful instructor.

“I worked on the game with my dad,” Paiva said. “I always used to practice with him. He told me that I had to run more, that I had to be fast to play, so he would make me run sprints. He always made me run and I thank him every day for it.”

Adao Paiva also taught his daughter incredible ball skills.

“We used to watch Ronaldinho videos and my dad used to bring me to the park to work with the ball,” Paiva said.

It was that dribbling skill and ability to use both feet that caught the attention of Kearny High School girls’ soccer head coach Vin Almeida.

“I remember Barbara being in sixth grade and she would hang out at Harvey Field (the home field for both the Kearny boys’ and girls’ soccer teams),” Almeida said.“I used to see her juggling the ball on the side and she had such outstanding touch with the ball. I had to make sure that she came to Kearny High School. We’re very fortunate that she came.”

Incredibly, Paiva wasn’t sure she would be able to play varsity soccer.

“When I first tried out, I thought I had no chance to play,” Paiva said. “But (former assistant coach Lauren) Roemer told me that I could do it and she gave me a lot of confidence. I just started picking it up and after a while, I realized that, hey, I could play.”

Paiva has been a mainstay on the Kearny girls’ soccer program since she arrived a little more than three years ago.

As a sophomore, Paiva helped the Kardinals win the Hudson County Tournament championship, scoring four goals in the title game against Bayonne.

But that was nothing compared to what Paiva has produced this season as a senior.

Paiva has been a goal-scoring machine this year. In one game against Peddie a few weeks ago, she tallied five goals in one game.

Last week, Paiva scored nine goals, including three in a game twice against Harrison at Red Bull Arena and again against Union City in the quarterfinals of the Hudson County Tournament, taking the first step toward leading the Kardinals to their sixth straight county crown.

For her efforts, Paiva has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.

On the season, Paiva has now tallied 24 goals and seven assists in 13 games, leading the Kardinals to an impressive 11-2 record thus far. She scored 25 goals all of last season and she’s within reach of the school’s single season goal record set by Stefanie Gomes three years ago.

“Yeah, I’m pretty amazed at what I’ve done this year,” Paiva said. “But I’m not worried about any record. It’s not about me. It’s for the team. I’ll do anything to help the team. But I’m not even thinking about that (a record). I kind of just go with the flow and don’t let anything get to me.”

Almeida said that he is not surprised at all by Paiva’s scoring explosion this season.

“To be honest, I expected a lot from Barbara this season,” Almeida said. “I always knew that she was really skilled. She has a lot of speed and with her ability with both feet, she is able to put it all together. I thought she could take it to another level this year. With her speed and she’s super skillful, she brings a lot to the table. When she’s clicking on all cylinders, we’re a pretty good team.”

Almeida is impressed with Paiva’s ability to shoot with both feet, a rarity in girls’ soccer.

“She’s amazing,” Almeida said. “Her right foot has always been strong, but her left foot has become very good. She can punish you with both feet. It’s a lot of fun to watch.”

Paiva said that she also worked hard to be able to shoot with both feet.

“Every day, I work on shooting with my left foot,” Paiva said. “I work on that in my yard, so whenever I score a goal with my left foot, I say, ‘Yeah, Dad, look at that.’ He worked on that with me, too.”

It’s safe to say that Paiva was born to play the sport.

“Yeah, it’s in my blood,” Paiva said. “It just took me a little while to realize it. Everyone else around here started playing before I did.”

Paiva has aspirations to play soccer in college. She has interest in Rutgers (coached by Kearny native Mike O’Neill), as well as Monmouth and the University of Delaware. St. Peter’s University has expressed interest in her.

“That would really make my day,” Paiva said about her chances of playing on the next level.

Paiva is already a well respected player around the state. She spent a few years playing club soccer for US Parma and now plays for the storied STA program in Morristown.

For now, her focus is solely on the Kardinals and a pursuit of both a Hudson County and NJSIAA state title.

“I just hope she’s able to keep it going,” Almeida said. “She has it all, speed, strength, technical ability. She’s definitely a better player than she was last year, in terms of her mentality and maturity. She’s also better physically. She’s just having a great season.”

One that Paiva and Almeida hope that continues straight through the rest of this month and into November.


Yolonda Girdwood

Yolonda Girdwood (nee Gaglio) of Kearny passed away quietly at home on Oct. 8, surrounded by her beloved family and friends. She was 80.

Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral Mass was held at Our Lady of Sorrows, Kearny, followed by burial in Holly Cross Cemetery. Condolences may be left at www.armitagewiggins.com.

Yolonda was a retired bank teller and was a proud member of Our Lady of Sorrows Rosary Society, the Ladies Auxillary of the VFW Post 1302 and the Wolf Packs. She was loved by her friends and neighbors, and was always cooking for a houseful of people.

Mrs. Girdwood is survived by her beloved husband Henry “Hank” and her sons and their wives Stephen (Carolyn) Girdwood and Victor (Ann) Girdwood. She is also survived by another daughter-in-law Michelle. She was predeceased by her sons David and Michael. She was the sister of Santina Girdwood and the late Mary Gaglio, Faye Scorsone, Angelina Passarella, Gerardo Gaglio and Joseph Gaglio. Also surviving are many beloved grandchildren, great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

Dugald A. McAllister 

Dugald A. McAllister died Oct. 11 at St. Mary Hospital in Passaic. He was 71.

Born in Newark, he lived in Kearny, many years in Long Valley and then Toms River, before moving to Georgia five years ago.

There will be a memorial visitation on Wednesday, Oct. 15, at 9 a.m., at the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. The service will be at 11 a.m. To leave an online condolence, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Dugald was a printer for Hatteras Press in Manasquan. He was past exalted ruler of the Kearny Elks and was a life member of the Schooley Mountain Volunteer Fire Department.

He is survived by his wife Jane C. (nee Wright) and his children David and Robert McAllister and Virginia Thatcher. He is also survived by his grandchildren Avery, Olivia, Dean, Jake and Liam “on the way”.

In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to www. WoundedWarriorProject. org/Donate.

John C. Modzelewski 

John C. “Moe” Modzelewski died Oct. 9. He was 65. He was a lifelong Kearny resident.

Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held at the funeral home, followed by a private cremation.

Mo worked for the Public Works Department in Kearny and was well known at the VFW.

He is survived by his mother Genny, his sisters and their husbands Debbie and Joe Pereira and Terry and Joe Alfano. He was also the uncle of Joseph, Jeremy, Jennifer, John and the late Michael.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the VFW Post 1302 in Kearny.

Then & Now

Top Photo: Town of Harrison Bottom Photo by Karen Zautyk

Top Photo: Town of Harrison
Bottom Photo by Karen Zautyk


Once again, we venture into yesteryear Harrison, the specific year being 1930. The specific day, Jan. 30. The horse-drawn trolleys cited in last week’s ‘Then’ photo have been replaced by modern electric ones, but those who share the street with them are still taking risks. 

Note the car on the left, which we presume (hope) is parked, not traveling, perilously close to the tracks. 

The view is identified only as ‘Harrison Ave. & 4th St.,’ and we wondered in what direction one was looking. In a search for the address of Pletter Furniture (sign on building at right), Google wanted to send us to links for ‘pleather furniture.’ (Who still buys pleather furniture?) Then the light bulb lit: Of course! The trolley is making a right turn off 4th St. onto Harrison Ave. 

This is a view looking north toward Kearny. Closer inspection also revealed the number on the trolley. It is the 39 — the same as the old No. 39 bus that followed the same route.

 –Karen Zautyk