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Classmates in court

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY–  The three young men, pictured above in their Kearny High School yearbook photos, had their whole lives ahead of them. Who knew where the future would take them? No one would have guessed that, a bit more than a decade later, it […]

Serial robber guilty

TRENTON – An accused serial robber has admitted to playing a role in 11 robberies, primarily of drug stores, in Harrison, Newark and Jersey City over a period of eight months, it was announced by U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman. On July 21, Christopher Mojica, 23, pleaded guilty to […]

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Blue ranks get reinforcements

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent LYNDHURST – Talk about parallel life paths: Joseph White and Matthew Giunta went to pre-school (St. Michael’s) together, then to Franklin Elementary School, then Lyndhurst High. And, last Friday, they entered the Bergen County Law & Public Safety Institute in Mahwah to begin […]

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Slow-paced developments

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  BELLEVILLE –  It’s been a year and two months since Gov. Chris Christie presided at a ballyhooed groundbreaking for Franklin Manor, an age-restricted 137-unit apartment complex for those 55 and over – the first such senior development for Belleville in more than three decades. […]

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Still waiting for wall’s restoration

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  HARRISON –  A property dispute between a longtime Harrison business and some neighbors that has been simmering for a few years now appears to be coming to a boil. Smack in the middle of the controversy are Bergen St. homeowners Victor and Eleanor Villalta […]

 
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Notes from the KPD blotter

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Regular readers of the Kearny police blotter know that the week’s entries would not be complete without a shoplifting incident at Walmart. This week, there are two, each of particular note.

The first occurred at 3:30 p.m. July 7, when an alleged shoplifter, confronted by store security, fled in a car, dragging one of the guards after it for some distance, police said. The guard, who reportedly was not injured, got the plate number, which was given to the KPD.

As soon as Officer John Fabula, driving on Bergen Ave., entered the information into a license plate database, he saw the auto in question pass by, heading in the opposite direction. He alerted other units, and the vehicle was again immediately spotted, this time by Officer Sean Kelly at Bergen and Schuyler Aves.

Kelly gave chase, bringing the car to a halt at Ivy and King Sts., where he arrested driver Pablito Santiago, 30, of Newark, who was charged with robbery, aggravated assault and weapons possession, the weapon being the car. Santiago was later transported to the Hudson County Jail. Read more »

Thoughts & Views: The thin blue line

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When the news first broke Sunday morning that a Jersey City police officer had been killed in the line of duty, word was that he had been responding to an armed robbery at a Walgreens drugstore.

Later that day, at a press conference, matters were clarified. Yes, a robbery had been reported. But the “suspect” made no attempt to flee. He waited outside the store for police to respond to the 911 call. And when the first radio car pulled up, he put a bullet in Officer Melvin Santiago’s head.

This was the deliberate targeting of a cop. Just because he was a cop. This was cold-blooded murder.

The killer fired at another patrol car, but was taken down by police before he could wound, or slaughter, any other officers.

On Sunday, the Officer Down Memorial Page (www.odmp.org) posted the following details:

“Police Officer Melvin Santiago was shot and killed at 4:09 a.m. when he and his partner responded to a robbery call at a 24-hour pharmacy on the corner of Communipaw Ave. and John F. Kennedy Blvd. Read more »

New principal welcomed

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Kearny native Ellen Naughton has been named principal of Queen of Peace Elementary School, 21 Church Pl., North Arlington, for the 2014-2015 academic year.

An alumna of Queen of Peace High School, Naughton received her undergraduate degree from Montclair State University and a master’s in educational leadership from Seton Hall University.

For the past 11 years, Naughton worked at St. Thomas the Apostle School in Bloomfield where she taught first, second and fifth grade. Naughton spent her early childhood years attending St. Stephen’s Elementary School in Kearny.

As a mother of four children and strong advocate for Catholic education, Naughton considers herself blessed to have had all her children attend both Catholic elementary school (St. Thomas in Bloomfield) and Catholic high school.

“I’m elated to return to the Queen of Peace family and along with a dedicated staff, I will strive to continue the legacy of success established at Queen of Peace,” she said.

Naughton replaces former principal Terri Suchocki, who retired in June after an 18-year tenure at the school.

For more information about Queen of Peace Elementary School, visit www.queenofpeaceschool.net or call 201- 998-8227.

‘Jersey Boys’ … on stage & screen

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By Kevin Canessa Jr.
Observer Correspondent 

NEW YORK CITY – 

For nearly nine years, “Jersey Boys” has been a staple on the big stage in New York City. And its incredible run, which includes a Tony Award for “Best Musical” in 2006, continues to this day as the 13th-longest-running show in Broadway history. And it’s now a major motion picture, partly shot in Kearny.

“Jersey Boys,” the story of Frankie Valli, who grew up in nearby Newark and who also lived in Belleville, and The Four Seasons — and their unprecedented rise from ordinary, struggling Jersey guys to being acclaimed as among the most noted singers in American history. Read more »

Business Review: New practice, same personality for Lyndhurst doctor

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By Anthony Machchinski
Observer Correspondent

In April 2012, The Observer featured an article about Dr. Maria Domingues, a young and energetic optometrist beginning her practice at Lyndhurst, her second office.

Nearly two years later, the ever-jovial and kind-hearted Domingues continues to expand her business while still maintaining her attentiveness towards each individual patient.

“I want to be able to still offer that one-to-one service (to my patients) and have the ability to talk with them on a personal level,” Domingues said.

While Domingues is passionate about her career, her path to optometry was not conventional. Read more »

Around Town

Belleville

As part of its Eight Great Live Monday Nights summer family series, co-sponsored by Friends of the Library, Belleville Public Library and Information Centers, 221 Washington Ave., presents the Hocus Pocus magic show with Joe Fischer on July 21 and a variety show featuring juggling, magic, puppets and more with Tom Burnium on July 28. Both events start at 6:30 p.m. Registration is required. Call 973-450-3434.

Bloomfield 

Bloomfield Public Library’s Book Club, meets Monday, Aug. 4, at 90 Broad St., 6:45 to 7:45 p.m., to discuss “Assassination Vacation” by Sarah Vowell. In the book, the historian and NPR commentator describes places associated with the violent deaths of American presidents as well as those connected to the luckless losers who tried and sometimes failed to kill them. For more information or for help in locating a copy of the book club selection, call the reference desk at 973-566- 6200, ext 502.

The New Jersey Audubon Society sponsors a free birding hike in Essex County Brookdale Park, Bloomfield/ Montclair, Thursday, July 24, at 8:30 a.m.

Tour the Rose Garden and search for late summer birds and perhaps hummingbirds. Meet in the parking lot at the top of the soccer/football grandstands near the entrance on Bellevue Ave. Call 908-766-5787 or e-mail kelly.wenzel@njaudubon.org to register.

The Essex County SummerMusic Concert Series presents “Shadows of the ‘60s” at 7:30 p.m., Friday, July 25, at Brookdale Park. The tribute production show features music of the Four Tops, the Temptations and the Supremes. Admission is free. For more information, call 973‑239-2485.

Harrison 

The Town of Harrison sponsors a blood drive Wednesday, July 23, 2 to 6 p.m., at the Harrison Recreation Center, 401 Warren St., in the gymnasium. All donors who register to donate July 21-27 will be entered to win one of 10 $25 ShopRite gift cards. Winners will be announced July 29. Donors must weigh at least 120 pounds, know their Social Security number, bring a photo or signed ID, eat a meal and drink plenty of water prior to donation.

Harrison is joining with thousands of communities across the country in the 31st annual National Night Out crime and drug prevention week on Tuesday, Aug. 5. The program is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch and, locally, is co-sponsored by the Harrison Police Department and Harrison/East Newark Elks.

From 6 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 5, residents are asked to lock their doors, turn out outside lights and spend the evening outside with neighbors and police.

Representatives of the Harrison Police Department and Harrison/East Newark Elks will be at Roosevelt Park, in front of the Harrison Public Library, along Harrison Ave., during those hours to meet residents and share strategies about stopping crime and educating folks about drugs.

There will also be games and giveaways for children, along with music and food.

Lyndhurst 

The Children’s Room at Lyndhurst Public Library, 355 Valley Brook Ave., hosts these events:

• Crazy scientist Brian Richards will introduce amazing experiments on Wednesday, July 23, at 3:30 p.m. The program is recommended for children ages 3 and up.

• Children in pre-k to grade 8 discover more about making bubbles and get to stand inside one of their own Monday, July 28, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Registration is required for both events. Call the library at 201-804-2478 to register.

The library will be closed July 14-19 for a woodwork restoration project. No items will be due during this period, and book/ video drop items will be collected periodically. The library will re-open Monday, July 21. Call Director Donna Romeo with any questions or concerns at 201-804-2478, ext. 7, email her at romeolyndhurst.bccls.org.

The New Jersey Meadowlands commission announces the following programs:

• Seniors can experience close encounters with birds of prey Thursday, July 17, at 1 p.m., at the Meadowlands Environment Center, 2 De- Korte Park Plaza. Admission is free. Seniors are invited to bring their grandchildren to see six live raptors, including falcons, and learn more about these awesome creatures of the northeast with Bill Streeter, director of the Delaware Valley Raptor Center. Registration is recommended and appreciated. For more information, call 201-777-2431.

• To celebrate National Moth Week, experts will talk about moths Monday, July 21, 8:30 to 11 p.m. in DeKorte Park. Then participants can check out the experts’ industrial- strength mercury vapor lamps and white sheets to identify and admire the various species. This family-friendly event is cosponsored by the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and Bergen County Audubon Society. Check meadowblog.net for last-minute weather updates. To R.S.V.P., contact Don Torino of the BCAS or call 201-230-4983. Rain date: Tuesday, July 23. Admission is free.

• Seniors can learn how to successfully cultivate fresh kitchen herbs in containers Tuesday, July 22, at 2 p.m. at the NJMC Science Center, 3 DeKorte Park Plaza. Participants will take home the herbs they plant. Attendance is limited to 40. Advance registration is required. Call 201-777-2431 to register. Cost is $5 per person for supplies.

• Seniors are invited to join naturalist Mickey Maxwell Cohen for a free presentation on Dead Horse Bay, a small body of water off Brooklyn, Thursday, July 24, at 7 p.m., at the Meadowlands Environment Center, 2 DeKorte Park Plaza. Around the turn of the 20th century, the bay’s marsh began to be used as a landfill. The trash heap cap burst in the 1950s and thousands of bottles - broken and intact – and scores of pieces of metal and plastic can be found on the shoreline today. They are often collected for use in works of art. Registration is recommended and appreciated. Call 201-777-2431 or 201-460-8300.

North Arlington 

North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Road, screens the 78-minute documentary “Men at Lunch” Friday, July 18, at 11 a.m. In the film, director Seán Ó Cualáin tells the story of “Lunch atop a Skyscraper,” the iconic photograph taken during the construction of 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

Nutley 

Nutley Health Department sponsors “Yoga in the Park,” a free yoga class led by certified yoga instructor Angela M. Guerriero, open to township residents, every Friday at 7 a.m. through Aug. 22 on the basketball court in Yanticaw Park, directly behind Nutley High School. Participants are asked to bring a towel or yoga mat and wear comfortable clothing. For more information or to reserve a spot, call 973- 284-4976.

The cbp:LLC theater troupe hosts a Gender Swap Concert Saturday, July 19, at 8 p.m. in the Philhower Chapel of Vincent United Methodist Church, 100 Vincent Pl. Males sing female-associated songs and visa versa. Don’t miss this quirky take on some Broadway favorites and popular songs. Admission is $10 and proceeds will support the troupe’s summer production of Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes.”

Join Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive, for a Mini Science Fair for ages 5 and older, Tuesday, July 22, at 2 p.m. Librarians and volunteers will judge and winners will be announced that day. Projects must be easy to move and display.

Registration is required for the following programs. Call the library at 973-667-0405 to register.

• Tech Workshop: “Coding for Kids,” open to grades 3 to 6, is set for Wednesday, July 23, at 2:30 p.m.

• Essex County Environmental Workshop: “River Riffles” offers children ages 7 to 10 a close look at the teeny tiny river creatures that like fizzy bubbly water spots and an opportunity to take home a riffle-loving-insect, Thursday, July 24, at 11 a.m. This program is for library patrons only.

• Science Workshop: “Bubble Science,” recommended for ages 5 to 8, is set for Thursday, July 24, at 2:30 p.m. This is open only

Owen is improving

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By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

Owen Hogan, the boy with the serious illness whom many Kearny supporters have rallied round with fundraisers for medical and other expenses, has received a desperately needed operation.

And, so far, so good, said Owen’s dad, Tim Hogan, a New York City firefighter, whose wife, Kathleen, is from Kearny.

Owen, who celebrated his third birthday on May 27, had a peripheral stem cell transplant on Jan. 14. Before that, he had undergone months of immunosuppressive therapy for the treatment of his ailment, diagnosed in May 2013 as severe aplastic anemia.

Tim Hogan said the identity of the male donor – found through the National Bone Marrow Registry – is being kept confidential at this time.

“The primary treatment for Owen – trying to get his body to reproduce healthy blood cells – had failed so the transplant was his only chance for survival,” his dad said.

The operation, which was performed by doctors at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, involved an infusion of stem cells collected from the donor. The procedure took somewhere close to two hours, Hogan said.

“Owen needs one more transfusion to complete the process,” Tim said.

Doctors have been encouraged so far by the results, Hogan said. “[Owen’s] numbers (blood platelets, hemoglobin, white blood cells) have been going up, which is a good sign,” he said, “but he also had two viral infections after the transplant – CMV (cytomegalovirus) and Epstein-Barr.”

But, since then, Hogan said, the Epstein-Barr has gone away and the CMW is “very low” and “the doctors have got Owen on medications so it looks pretty good.”

“The doctors say the first 100 days after the transplant are the most critical period and with the exception of those two viruses, we haven’t had any major complications,” Tim said.

And, Hogan added, “If we hit a year [with no big problems], the prognosis is [Owen] goes on to have a normal life.”

It’s been a grueling ordeal for the entire family, including Owen’s healthy, younger brother, Ethan. “My wife and I were in the hospital 145 days with Owen,” Hogan said. During that time, he’s had more than 40 blood platelet procedures and about 20 blood transfusions.”

At the boy’s low point, “He was literally catching a cold away from dying,” Hogan said.

Now, however, all signs point to a bright future for Owen, he said.

Hogan said that he and Kathleen will be forever grateful for the love shared by the Kearny community. “Kearny has been unbelievable with their support and love,” he said. “It’s been a huge help in tough times.”

At a benefit held at the former Kearny Boystown facility in May, relatives, friends and well-wishers raised a total of about $30,000 for the beleaguered Hogan family, according to Kearny’s Bill Burns, Kathleen’s dad.

“The Kearny Fire Department alone took three tables,” Burns said. “We raffled off a football signed by [N.Y. Giants quarterback] Eli Manning, there were hockey pucks autographed by Devils and Rangers players, autographed basketballs from the Nets.”

Burns said his daughter and son-in-law were on edge for months, uncertain what the future held for Owen. “They’ve been through a lot of pressure, dealing with this day after day,” Burns said. “Because of all the time they were spending with Owen at the hospital, they had to rent a house nearby and a retired New York fireman helped move them in.”

“It’s been a lot of hell for the family. But now Owen’s doing very good,” Burns said.

For many months, because of his fragile condition and hypersensitivity to germs, Owen was almost like a “bubble boy,” but since his favorable response to the transplant, doctors have gradually relaxed those restrictions, even allowing Owen to travel.

“He was here [in Kearny] for dinner with us [one night last week],” Burns said.

Given his dad’s occupation, it’s no surprise that among his favorite things, Owen “loves playing with toy fire trucks – all kinds of trucks,” Burns said. “He also likes music, especially the song, ‘Hotel California.’ Pancakes is one of his favorite foods. And he likes ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ TV show.”

NA’s Cordeiro named Observer Male Athlete of Year

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By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer

Danny Cordeiro never thinks like he’s doing anything special when it comes to playing sports. The recent North Arlington High School graduate simply went about his business and kept himself busy as an athlete.

“I try not to think too much about it,” Cordeiro said. “It never crossed my mind what I was doing.”

However, what Cordeiro was doing was carving his place permanently in the history of North Arlington High School athletics. If he’s not the best all-around athlete in the school’s history, Cordeiro is very close. For sure, he had a historic career of firsts that will never be duplicated.

Cordeiro was a superstar soccer player for the Vikings for four seasons, culminating in an All-State performance as a senior. He scored 30 goals and added 19 assists during his senior campaign, earning a scholarship to New Jersey Institute of Technology in the process.

But Cordeiro was also a phenomenal performer in track and field. Read more »

PATH derails; 4 hurt

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About 200 passengers had to be evacuated from a PATH train in Harrison after an accident involving a truck Sunday night, according to Erica Dumas, a spokeswoman for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

Dumas said the lead car of a PATH train just leaving the Harrison station enroute to Newark struck an Amtrak “box truck” at the Cape May St. crossing at about 9 p.m.

The impact caused the front two wheels of the lead car to derail and caused injuries to the truck driver, a PATH engineer and conduct, and one passenger, all of whom were taken to St. Michael’s Medical Center, Newark, for treatment, Dumas said.

Identities of the people hurt or their conditions weren’t readily available at press time.

As PA track crews busied themselves with the derailed train, Port Authority PD, joined by Harrison Police and Fire Department members, aided in escorting the estimated 200 passengers onto a rescue train that returned them safely to the Harrison station, the spokeswoman said.

Harrison Fire Director Harold Stahl said the incident happened about a quarter mile from the Harrison station along a dirt road near the PATH yards used by railroad service vehicles. He said Harrison firefighters checked for any oil leakage after five PATH cars had reportedly gone off the track.

There is an “ongoing investigation” of the accident taking place by the P.A., Dumas said.

It took PA workers a couple of hours to clear the track and restore service, Dumas said. In the meantime, train service along the Newark-Harrison-Jersey City- World Trade Center route continued on another track.

As of Monday morning, train service along the Newark-Harrison- Jersey City line was “running smoothly,” Dumas said.

– Ron Leir 

Baseball reigns supreme at Kearny Kards Kamp

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By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer

Sure, Kearny is known as “Soccertown, USA.” And, of course, the World Cup soccer tournament was coming to a close last week.

But for 75 local youngsters, baseball was the primary sport, as they took part of the week-long Kearny Kards Kamp at Franklin School Field.

Headed by Kearny High School head coach Frank Bifulco and assisted by a host of talented baseball instructors, the Kards Kamp gave youngsters a lot of instruction while having a lot of fun at the same time. Read more »

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