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Angelo Feorenzo, father of former Observer Publisher Lisa Feorenzo, dies at 75

Above: Tina Feorenzo, Angelo J. Feorenzo and former Observer Publisher Lisa Feorenzo. Angelo James Feorenzo, 75, of Toms River, died Thursday, Jan. 22, at Community Medical Center in Toms River. Born and raised in Hackensack, he moved to Toms River in […]

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4th year for CANstruction

By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  Several years ago, Paul Rogers of Kearny visited a unique exhibit in Manhattan. Sponsored by a group called CANstruction, it featured wonderfully imaginative “sculptures” that students created from canned goods. Following the project, the food would be donated to the needy. We’d guess […]

$3.7M deficit confirmed

BELLEVILLE –  Well, now it’s official. An audit of the Belleville Board of Education for the 2013-2014 school year has confirmed what school officials and the district’s state monitor had suspected all along … that the district did, indeed, overspend its budget. As best it could determine from BOE […]

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Medical school will be Roche tenant

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  NUTLEY –  Roche USA, the Swiss-based pharmaceutical company that is marketing its 118-acre property straddling Nutley and Clifton, continues to seek a buyer for the site but has inked a tenant for part of the site. Roche spokeswoman Darien Wilson said last week that […]

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Fitzhenry picked for vacant seat

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent NORTH ARLINGTON –  Republican loyalist Brian Fitzhenry was rewarded for his longtime service to the party with an appointment to the North Arlington Borough Council last Thursday. Fitzhenry, 50, a Jersey City native and St. Peter’s College alum who has spent most of his […]

 
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Have you seen this alleged NA shoplifter?

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On Jan. 7  at 5:20 p.m., an individual described as a white man,  approximately 5’10” with short brown hair, wearing a black jacket with blue hoodie, is alleged to have shoplifted from a CVS at 579 Ridge Road. Police say the man fled on foot west on Jauncey Ave. toward River Road.

If you have information to report that could help lead to an arrest in this crime/crime activity, please contact the North Arlington Police Department at 201-991-1400 or by sending an email to napddispatch@northarlington.org.

NA Senior Center being kept open through Thursday for residents who need warmth

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North Arlington Borough Administrator Steve LoIacono announced Thursday, Jan. 8, that, “Due to severe cold and in case certain citizens, including and especially seniors, are experiencing trouble keeping warm, the North Arlington Senior Center, 10 Beaver Ave., is being made available as a warming center.

“The building will remain open through the night tonight (Thursday) for anyone who needs warm shelter. Police officers on patrol will monitor the building during the night and Health Department employees will do so during the day.”

***

In other news, the borough announced that Acting Tax Collector Theresa Vola will conduct office hours on Wednesdays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., instead of Tuesdays as previously announced.

Break-ins disrupt holiday week

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By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

HARRISON –

In the 24 years that his family has operated Fulger’s Golden Beer & Liquor, there’s never been any trouble from the outside. “It’s a nice, friendly neighborhood,” said owner Hitesh Patel.

Now, however, Patel is applying for a permit to carry a gun. Christmas week was marred for Patel and several other Harrison merchants when their shops – all within a few blocks of each other on Harrison Ave. – were burglarized – possibly by the same individual.

Harrison Police Capt. Michael Green said the first incident was reported at 4:18 a.m. on Christmas Day, from Fulger’s, at Harrison and Davis Aves., where – as the store’s surveillance tape revealed – a black male with a hoodie emerged from a pickup truck parked outside and smashed the glass front door with a brick.

Once inside, the burglar removed two cash registers with an undisclosed amount of cash and cigarettes and fled, probably in the pickup truck, Green said.

Last week, Fulger owner Patel told The Observer he was asleep in an apartment above the store when he was awakened by a call from one of his longtime customers informing him that, “my main door is shredding – they broke in.”

Patel said he immediately went downstairs to investigate. He found a brick – the one believed to have been used by the burglar – at the store entrance. And, he said, “I saw everything was on the floor and my two registers were missing.”

Surprisingly, Patel said, the shop’s alcohol stock was not disturbed.

Patel said an examination of his store’s surveillance footage shows that the same pickup truck the burglar was reportedly driving is seen circling the block – apparently casing the location – after the owner got his last delivery for the night.

“I work hard – 13 hours a day, seven days a week,” Patel said. “In the 24 years we have been at this location, we have known honest, loyal customers.”

Four years ago, Patel recalled, he secured security gates for the front entrance to his store, but given the level of comfort formed with his neighbors and patrons, he said he’s never given them a second thought.

Photo by Ron Leir Hitesh Patel holds brick that a burglar used to shatter his glass door.

Photo by Ron Leir
Hitesh Patel holds brick that a burglar used to shatter his glass door.

 

Since the break-in, however, “I use them,” he said.

Then, on the night of Dec. 30 and continuing into Dec. 31, a series of shops were victimized by an intruder who, Green said, could be the same individual who got into the liquor store earlier in the week.

At 12:15 a.m. on Dec. 31, police got a report of an attempted burglary at Hinze’s Deli, Harrison and Sixth St.

Deli owner Ted Toth told The Observer he was getting ready to lock up, at about 11 p.m., when he and an employee heard the sound of glass breaking in his front door. “It sounded like a BB gun shot,” he said. “We turned the lights on real quick, hoping we’d scare off whoever was there.”

It cost him $300 to replace the broken glass, Toth said.

The only consolation was that the culprit was denied entry.

Not so fortunate, however, was Pepita’s Beauty Salon, Harrison and Fifth St. At 1 a.m., police got a report that someone had shattered the glass in the salon’s front door window, got inside, removed $25 from the register and fled.

And, at 1:35 a.m., a police officer discovered a partly broken glass door at Harrison Grocery, Harrison and Third St. Here, though, no entry resulted, according to Green.

“We’re assuming,” he said, “that all these incidents are all connected, possibly the same individual,” looking to exploit the fact that with the holiday season, there figured to be more inventory and cash available.

Merchants said two other stores – a pizzeria and a Mexican eatery – were the targets of attempted burglaries but this couldn’t be readily confirmed with police.

In the meantime, police released an image of the suspected burglar captured on surveillance tape and asked anyone with information on any the incidents to call police at 973-483-4100.

4-year contract for cops

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

NORTH ARLINGTON – 

The borough has nailed down a new labor pact with the police union and narrowly approved a two-year extension of its contract with Police Chief Louis Ghione.

At a special meeting Dec. 29, the mayor and Borough Council unanimously voted to enter into a new agreement with Patrolman’s Benevolent Association Local 95 that will provide annual pay increases of 1.25% for four years, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2014, through Dec. 31, 2017.

The prior three-year contract had expired Dec. 31, 2013. The new agreement, which covers all 28 members of the North Arlington Police Department, except the chief, calls for annual pay raises of 1.25%, with no other changes to the existing steps in the salary guide or benefits.

As of last week, no new salary guide spelling out how pay levels for each police rank will change over the life of the contract had yet been prepared, according to Borough Administrator Steve LoIacono.

It took a state arbitrator, Frank Mason, to settle the prior contract: Mason awarded no pay increase for 2011, a 2.5% pay hike effective April 1, 2012; and an additional 2.5% raise effective April 1, 2013. Mason called for an 11-step process for a police officer to reach maximum pay, starting at $42,079 and topping off at $106,107 per year.

According to LoIacono, the old PBA contract set $121,510 as the base pay for police sergeant, $132,446 as base pay for lieutenant and $144,356 as base pay for captain. The chief’s contract entitles him to a salary at least 9% above captain’s pay and that provision is retained under his extended contract.

In a phone interview with The Observer last week, outgoing Mayor Peter Massa, a Democrat, hailed the new four-year agreement as “one of the lowest settlements in the (South Bergen) area. I commend the PBA for accepting my counter-proposal.”

And, Massa added, “I’m doing the new administration (led by incoming Mayor Joseph Bianchi, a Republican) a favor by wrapping up an important labor contract before I go out the door.”

PBA Local 95 President Robert Evans said the union negotiating team recommended approval of the pact to the membership, which, he said, voted overwhelmingly Dec. 30 for ratification.

Given the financial pressures felt by the borough, Evans said the union did what it could to “hammer out a deal to serve the interests of the officers and the taxpayers” – and without having to resort to a third party intervening.

Still, while the borough government may have achieved some measure of labor peace with the new contract, the Bianchi administration may soon find itself having to deal with the issue of maintaining sufficient personnel in the police ranks, given that, according to Evans, six members of the department – one officer and five superiors – representing about 20% of the force — are currently eligible for retirement.

“They can walk out the door tomorrow,” he said. At this point, it‘s unclear whether any or all of them will do that.

One key figure who will be presiding over this situation is Chief Ghione, whose term of employment, under his old contract, had run from Dec. 31, 2009, to Dec. 31, 2015, and which now continues through Dec. 31, 2017.

The Borough Council had deadlocked 3-3 along party lines on the Democrats’ proposal to lengthen the chief’s contract and it fell to Massa to cast the tie-breaking vote in the chief’s favor.

Bianchi told The Observer last week that he and his fellow Republicans opposed the contract extension because the chief’s old contract specifies that a new contract “can’t be talked about until September 2015. There are to be no negotiations until 2015.” By voting now to give the chief another two years, “we broke the contract and it was wrong,” Bianchi said.

Asked for his reaction, Massa said he interpreted the language in the old agreement to mean that, “it encourages the parties to negotiate prior to the expiration date of the contract. To keep stability, the chief agreed to an extension with no additional benefits. He’s done an exemplary job during his 10 years as chief. He’s kept the crime rate low, he’s managed the department well with minimum manpower and he’s helped secure hundreds of thousands of dollars in (police) grants.”

Winter haven for Hudson homeless

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By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

If you open it, they will come.

That’s what Hudson County has done for the adult homeless population and they’ve been coming. They are directed to the third floor of the former U.S. Naval Reserve Readiness Center at 53 Hackensack Ave. in South Kearny to accept the hospitality of a “warming center.”

It’s a place where folks with nowhere else to go can come in from the cold and spend the night in a safe environment. It’s safe because it’s monitored/ staffed by the county Department of Corrections.

And while they have no beds or cots, DOC is continuing to collect bunches of recliners that serve just as well for the exhausted men and women who are guests of the facility.

“We feed them, give them toiletries, shower facilities, clean clothing if they need any, and there’s a big common area where they can interrelate or watch TV,” said DOC Director Oscar Aviles.

“We’ve been averaging 50 to 75 every night,” Aviles said.

In the morning, the visitors are taken to the Garden State Episcopal Community nonprofit in Jersey City which is contracted by the county to interview them and refer them to a variety of social services – housing, substance abuse treatment job counseling, etc.

The Hackensack Ave. space has been used sporadically in past years, to take the overflow from shelters on especially frigid nights but this is the first time that it’s being deployed daily through the winter season, to March 15. The South Kearny connection is part of a new approach by the county to its homelessness issue.

Last winter, homeless folks found in the streets by outreach workers would be directed to any of three shelters operating in Hudson – St. Lucy’s Emergency Shelter, 619 Grove St., Jersey City; the Palisades Emergency Residence Corp. (PERC), 108 36th St., Union City; and the Hoboken Shelter, 300 Bloomfield St., Hoboken – but only if the temperature fell to 26 degrees or below.

Since that rule could be pretty cumbersome to enforce, a new policy was put in place to allow shelters to accept as many walk-ins as they could reasonably accommodate regardless of what the thermometer reads, according to Randi Moore, chief of the county Division of Housing and Community Development.

At the same time, Moore said, the county has contracted with Garden State Episcopal Community, a Jersey City-based nonprofit, for $75,000 to send out outreach teams seven days a week on a year-round basis, to work with homeless people ages 18 and older, concentrated in and around the PATH stations at Journal Square and Hoboken, to help get the resources they need to stabilize them and, to work toward becoming self-supporting, if possible.

Members of homeless families, with young children, are directed to a county hotline for referrals to a hotel stay for the night, Moore said.

On his end, Aviles arranges for bus transports, with two corrections supervisors aboard, to make stops at Journal Square at 9 p.m. and at the Hoboken Terminal at 10 p.m. to pick up any homeless adults looking for a place to sleep and bring them to South Kearny where a third corrections officer awaits.

DOC has budgeted $270,000 for the warming center program, Aviles said. No rental fee is being assessed by the building’s landlord for the use of the third-floor space, he said.

The pace of Hudson homelessness has quickened, Hudson County Freeholder William O’Dea asserted. Counts have reached “close to 400 a night physically living in the streets – more than double than a year ago,” he said.

As the problem intensifies, O’Dea said the answer lies in “creating more units” of transitional housing with social service resources to offer those adrift a “bridge to help them back to stability.”

And, Moore said, the county is hoping to set the stage to do exactly that by coordinating continuous care projects for the chronically homeless by applying to the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development for $1 million to fund 27 housing units with fund services for two years.

Attention must be paid, Aviles said, “because it appears this is a problem that is not going to go away.”

Cops in Essex getting Narcan

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By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 

In April 2014, Gov. Christie announced a pilot program to equip some New Jersey police departments with Narcan, an antidote administered to persons suffering from a heroin overdose.

The initiative was launched in Monmouth and Ocean counties and reportedly has since saved the lives of more than 220 individuals.

Now, the program is being expanded to Essex County.

Last week, County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced that all 27 police agencies in Essex are receiving Narcan kits. In total, 250 kits will be distributed.

“The goal of this program is to equip every police department in Essex County, including campus police and others, to be able to immediately render life-saving assistance to someone who is overdosing on heroin or other opiates,’’ Murray said in a press release.

“Because police officers often arrive on the scene prior to emergency medical personnel, they will now be able to intervene and provide relief until back-up help arrives,’’ Murray said.

According to Murray’s office, Narcan, a trade name for Naloxone, “is a drug with no euphoric properties and minimal side effects. If administrated to a person who is not experiencing an overdose, it cannot harm the patient. It comes in nasal form and can easily be administered by someone with little or no medical background.”

In October, representatives from the various law enforcement agencies attended a Train the Trainer seminar at the Essex County Hospital Center in Cedar Grove. Those officers will, in turn, instruct members of their departments in administration of the antidote.

How well does it work? The following is from a National Public Radio report quoting a Revere, Mass., deputy fire chief: “It’s just incredible, it’s like magic.

“There’s somebody who’s on the ground who’s literally dead. They have no pulse.

“Sometimes they’re blue, sometimes they’re black. And you administer this stuff and sometimes, in a minute or two or three, they’re actually up and talking to you.”

The Belleville Police Department has received five Narcan kits from the prosecutor’s office and plans to purchase five more, Detective Gary Souss told The Observer. There will be one in every patrol car, he said.

Paramedics currently are equipped with Narcan, but since the police are often the first to arrive at a medical call, they have been at a disadvantage. They could offer some first aid, but in an overdose case, they had to wait for EMS to arrive before the life-saving antidote could be used.

“Now, the first-responders will have it,” Souss said.

Souss said members of the Belleville PD patrol division will begin training in Narcan use sometime this month, after training materials are received from the county.

Narcan has not been without controversy. Critics have argued that the antidote does not address the underlying causes of addiction and might even encourage heroin use because an overdose would no longer amount to a death sentence. When Christie launched the program, however, he emphasized that it would be just one “vital, life-saving element” in New Jersey’s “broader approach to the drug problem, which also includes vigorous awareness, enforcement and anti-addiction efforts.”

Another objection, though, has been the cost.

The Prosecutor’s Office is footing the bill for the initial 250 kits distributed in Essex County. They cost a reported $50 each, for a total of $12,500.

However, the individual PDs will be responsible for replenishing the supply or, as in Belleville, buying any additional kits.

A spokesperson for Murray told The Observer, “It is my understanding refills will run about $30.” But according to Souss, the five extras that his department is buying will cost $60 each.

That appears to reflect November news reports that the price of Narcan was soon expected to double.

There has also been speculation that, as the demand for Narcan increases nationwide, and since there is only one current supplier, the cost will continue to rise.

Town awards PILOT, issues bonds

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By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY –

The tax break for Kearny Point Industrial Park – or, at least, the first in what’s likely to be a series of such financial concessions – is a done deal.

Kearny’s governing body voted in special session Dec. 29 to approve an ordinance granting a 30-year PILOT (payment in lieu of taxation) for an existing warehouse known as Building 78 on John Miller Way.

Plans by the Kearny Point principals call for the rehabilitation of the 207,000 square foot warehouse into eight condominium “flex spaces,” each of which would accommodate separate tenants.

When the building is fully developed, the town – which currently collects about $60,000 in taxes for the property – figures to net at least $311,636 for the first year of the PILOT, of which it will pocket $296,064, with the rest going to the county. But the town won’t be seeing all of that at once.

As explained by Thomas Banker, financial adviser to Kearny Point, “The expectation is that construction will begin by mid-January with the earliest occupancy [of the initial flex space] by Hugo Neu Recycling [relocating from Mt. Vernon, N.Y.] by April 2015.”

Banker said the “first PILOT” will “kick in” after the town issues a certificate of occupancy (CO) for the recycling tenant who will be taking over 65,000 square feet of interior space (or 72,000 square feet, counting some overlap of “common elements” of the building).

“The other condominium units will still be subject to conventional taxation,” Banker told the mayor and council, based on a “distribution of [tax] assessments across the entire property. … We hope that you’ll be getting PILOTs as the other commercial units get their COs.”

Banker said that Kearny Point owner Wendy Neu will be filing an application with the state Department of Community Affairs for the proposed commercial condo units “right after” New Year’s and approval is anticipated “in a matter of weeks.”

Sometime during January, Banker added, Kearny Point should be getting word on applications filed with the N.J. Economic Development Authority for a “Grow New Jersey” grant to support the Neu Recycling condo project and with the N.J. Environmental Infrastructure Trust fund to help finance water and sewer main improvements for the entire industrial park site.

So far, no other tenants have been secured for the site but Banker said that the owner is very close to signing leases with at least two prospective occupants.

Meanwhile, in other business conducted at the Dec. 29 meeting, the mayor and council approved a $2 million general improvement bond ordinance proposing to borrow:

• $600,000 for an unspecified number of patrol sport utility vehicles with equipment for the Police Department.

• $400,000 for the acquisition/ installation of fiber optic and computer infrastructure town-wide to tie into police surveillance cameras.

• $350,000 for a dump truck, pickup truck and utility van for Public Works.

• $350,000 for equipment and turnout gear for the Fire Department.

• $300,000 for computer infrastructure and equipment for the Police Department.

Dep. Police Chief George King said the department is looking to purchase up to 12 Ford Explorer Police Interceptors, plus light bars, cages, radio consoles, e-ticket units and computer mounts. And, he said, the department desperately needs to update its computer servers and software. The governing body also:

• Awarded a $1,444,980 contract to Reivax Contracting Corp. of Newark to resurface Midland Ave., between Kearny and Schuyler Aves., and approved a $1 million bond ordinance for water utility infrastructure improvements for Midland.

• Belatedly accepted a memorandum of understanding that sets conditions for the town’s receipt of transitional aid from the state.

• Set a developer’s contribution to the town for flood/ drainage improvements as $33,333 in connection with an approved townhouses project on Tappan St. and $63,333 related to a proposed factory rehab project that was rejected by the Planning Board.

• Agreed to pay an additional $20,626, mostly for new fencing, for the Kearny Public Library Reading Garden project. The original $245,000 contract, partly subsidized by a $150,000 Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund grant, was awarded to Lou’s Landscaping of Wayne. Library Director Josh Humphrey said he’s planning to hold several children’s events and adult music programs in the space in the spring.

Cops ID counterfeit suspect: NPD blotter

A Newark woman is being sought in connection with the alleged use of counterfeit bills to defraud a local merchant, Nutley PD said.

Police said the episode unfolded on Nov. 15 when a woman entered a Franklin Ave. business and used fake $100 bills to purchase $900 worth of gift cards.

The discovery that the bills were not legitimate currency wasn’t made until after the woman had left the store and could not be traced, police said. However, police said that her image was captured on the store’s surveillance camera system and was circulated to surrounding police departments.

At the same time, police said that detectives working with patrol officers developed a couple of other leads to establish her identity as Wineoka Jordan, 51, of Newark.

Det. Sgt. Anthony Montanari noted that Chief Tom Strumolo – in consultation with Mayor/Public Safety Director Alphonse Petracco – has assigned patrol officers to assist detectives with an investigation of multiple burglaries and other cases.

Among those assisting, Montanari said, are Officers Anderson Antonio and John Mecka, who partnered in working with detectives on the counterfeit cash case and came up with an image from the state Division of Motor Vehicles that matched “dead on” the one from the surveillance tape and arranged for a photo array of similar looking females, including the suspect, to be shown the store manager who picked out the suspect’s image from the array.

Additionally, Montanari said, on a piece of scratch paper on which the suspect had written that was recovered from the Franklin Ave. store, they found a notation of an appointment at a doctors’ clinic in Newark which Mecka visited and came up with the suspect’s name.

Using the video from the tape, the DMV image and the writing sample, police recently established Wineoka as the suspect in the case. She was charged with theft by deception and a warrant was issued for her arrest, Montanari said. As of last week, she remained at large but police are optimistic she will be traced, he added.

In the week between Dec. 27 and Jan. 2, the Nutley PD also logged these incidents:

Dec. 27 

Police pulled over a motor vehicle traveling on Hillside Ave. after observing that the vehicle had an inoperable front passenger headline. But the driver, Anthony Casale III, 18, of Clifton, ran into more trouble after police said they found two round metal objects on the front passenger floor believed to be marijuana grinders. Police said each grinder had suspected marijuana residue on them. Casale was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and issued two summonses for maintenance of lamps and failure to provide valid insurance card.

Dec. 28 

Police conducted a traffic stop on Washington Ave. of a green Jeep after noticing that its driver’s side brake light was out. In the passenger seat, police said, was the registered owner of the vehicle: Deborah Cedeno-Olmo, 35, of Nutley, who had an outstanding warrant from Bordentown. After Bordentown PD was advised she could not make bail, Cedeno- Olmo was released with a new court date. The driver of the Jeep was given a summons for maintenance of lamps.

Dec. 29 

A fraud victim told police that accounts for two mobile phone numbers had been opened in their name and that they’d been charged $1,499 for two iPhone 6 models picked up at a store in Westchester, N.Y. Police said T-Mobile, the vendor, has closed the accounts and registered the transaction as fraudulent.

Dec. 30 

Another fraud victim reported that two unauthorized charges totaling more than $900 were made on their bank debit card – one for $200.67 at Game Stop in Manhattan and another at Quick Chek in Totowa for $756.16. Police said the bank has closed the card account.

– Ron Leir 

Harrison Ave. fatality

By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY –

What began as a Harrison Ave. fenderbender ended in tragedy Friday morning with the death of one of the motorists, who was struck by yet another vehicle after he had exited his own, Kearny police reported.

Police said the victim, 62-year-old Oscar Carpio of Jersey City, was westbound in the pre-dawn darkness at 6:15 a.m. when his Hyundai Santa Fe sideswiped a box truck that had become disabled in the right lane of the avenue (County Rt. 508). He pulled in front of the truck and got out of his SUV to exchange information with the other driver.

While Carpio was standing in the roadway, police said, he was hit by a westbound Toyota RAV4 operated by a 55-year-old man from Budd Lake.

Kearny EMS responded, but Carpio was pronounced dead at the scene at 6:47 a.m.

Police said the truck driver, a 27-year-old East Newark resident, was “brushed” by the RAV4 but his injuries were not life-threatening. He was transported to St. Michael’s Medical Center in Newark, treated and released.

Police said the driver who hit them was not hurt and had immediately pulled to the side of the road.

The accident investigation was continuing, but reportedly there were no charges pending.

The fatality occurred near the Dominick Daniels USPS Distribution Center.

Heavily traveled Harrison Ave. was closed to traffic in both directions until nearly 9 a.m.

New townhomes taking shape

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Photo by Ron Leir

Arlington Village Development Partners LLC is moving forward with construction of 12 townhome condominium units on a former nursery site at 65 Schuyler Ave. in North Arlington. The pre-fab building project will be a combination of one- and two-bedroom units.

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