This week’s e-Edition and classifieds are now posted. We apologize for the delay.
By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – Take away the “acting” title: the Kearny Board of Education has formally installed Patricia Blood as its official superintendent of schools. The board took the action at a special meeting held last Thursday night at the Lincoln School. The vote was […]
By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent KEARNY – On May 27, 1922, an estimated 25,000 people gathered in the streets around the small park where Kearny Ave. and Beech St. meet, to witness Gen. John J. Pershing personally dedicate the towering granite monument honoring the Kearny men who died […]
A photo (above) of the suspect van was released Nov. 19 by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. NUTLEY – Nutley police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating the motor vehicle that struck and killed a 77-year-old woman on Centre St. on […]
By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent HARRISON – At Washington Middle School in Harrison, nearly 75% of the more than 400 enrolled are just as busy with school-related projects after 3 p.m. as they are during their regular day of classes. And that’s partly by design of the school […]
An East Newark man was grabbed by cops early on Monday, Oct. 27, after police said he threatened people in a Harrison multi-family dwelling, left and then returned carrying a shard of broken glass.
Harrison Police Det. Dave Doyle said the incident began at around 2 a.m. when a man, later identified as Michael Caldera, 35, burst into a building on Grant Ave. and made his way to the second floor and started making a racket, screaming for his girlfriend.
Tenants, roused by the commotion, tried to get Caldera to leave but police said Caldera refused and tried to force his way into a second-floor apartment where, police surmise, he apparently thought his girlfriend was staying.
Police said two tenants, a woman from the second floor and a man from the first floor, responding to the incident, managed to drag Caldera away from the apartment and down the stairs to the front of the house.
There, police said, Caldera allegedly shouted, “I’m going to hurt everyone in this house.”
Witnesses told police that Caldera began running toward East Newark and was seen at the intersection of Grant and Central Ave. before returning to the Grant Ave. house while brandishing a large glass shard before being apprehended by police from East Newark and Harrison.
Caldera was arrested on charges of burglary, possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose and terroristic threats. He also had an active warrant from Newark, police said.
Caldera was taken to Hudson County Jail to await court action after failing to post total bail of $75,000 for all the charges and the warrant.
In other Harrison incidents logged by Harrison PD during the past week:
At 9:54 a.m., while on patrol, an officer saw an orange forklift traveling backwards, north on Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. N., through the Central Ave. intersection against the light, nearly causing an accident.
Northbound traffic was backed up for nearly two blocks behind the forklift, police said. When the driver, later identified as Alberto Badillo, 60, of Paterson, stopped in front of 505 Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. N. to deliver a supply of wood, the officer advised Badillo he would be getting two traffic summonses by mail so that he could continue his delivery.
At that point, police said Badillo began protesting loudly, stepped off the sidewalk and confronted the officer, prompting the officer to arrest him and charge him with disorderly conduct.
At 1 p.m., a woman came to HQ to report that she’d placed an order for several online items valued at $46 that were scheduled to be delivered to her home on the 700 block of Bergen St. on Oct. 20 but which she didn’t receive. After informing the company from which the items were ordered, she was told that delivery was made on Oct. 20. Police said the woman told them this was the third time that a package had been removed from her porch.
A woman reported a theft from her vehicle, which she valet-parked at 8:30 p.m. at the Red Bull Arena. After returning from the soccer woman noticed several items missing from the car. Police said she listed those items as: one Think Pad Laptop X-61 with charger, valued at $510; and one Galaxy cell phone charger valued at $20. She reported the incident at 5:50 the next morning.
At 4:34 a.m., an employee of a garbage carting company was struck by an auto on Harrison Ave. between Third St. and Church Square.
Police said the employee, 55, of Belleville, was picking up trash when the accident occurred. He was taken by EMS to University Hospital of Medicine & Dentistry, Newark, for treatment of his injuries.
The victim was unable to describe the vehicle that hit him; however, a review of surveillance footage from a street camera indicated that the suspect vehicle had traveled east on Harrison Ave. past a red traffic signal, then north on Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. towards Kearny.
Police said a witness described it as a black four-door vehicle, possibly a Toyota.
– Ron Leir
A township man who allegedly held a stolen cell phone for ransom and arranged a rendezvous to collect the cash wins this week’s Catch Me If You Can — And You Definitely Can award.
On Oct. 28, Officer Daniel Esteves responded to a Kearny residence to interview the victim of the theft, a 17-yearold girl who reported that an unknown man had contacted her, demanding $100 for return of her iPhone and providing a location on Pavonia Ave. where they could meet.
The girl did not keep the appointment. But Esteves did. And at the site, he encountered Michael Henriques, 27, of Kearny, who was allegedly in possession of the iPhone that had been used to call a number supplied by the victim.
Henriques was promptly arrested for receiving stolen property.
(Runner-up for the Catch Me If You Can prize goes to a man who reportedly tried to outrun police while they were in a car and he was on a bicycle. See Oct. 28 notes.)
• • •
Other recent reports from the Kearny police blotter included the following:
Dets. Michael Gonzalez and Bryant Obie, on patrol at Kearny and Oakwood Aves. at 10:30 a.m., saw a female pedestrian drinking from a 24-oz. can of Steel Reserve malt liquor. While confirming her identity in order to issue a summons for public consumption of alcohol, they learned she had four outstanding warrants — two each from Union Township and Clark. Theresa Rossi, 58, of Lakewood, was arrested, and the aforementioned communities were notified.
• • •
At noon, Officer Damon Pein was dispatched to Walmart, where security had detained alleged shoplifter Yvonne Barnes, 54, of Newark. In a search incident to arrest, police said, nine hypodermic needles were found in her purse.
She was charged with their possession, shoplifting and on an outstanding Kearny contempt- of-court warrant.
• • •
Officer Jordenson Jean, patrolling at Schuyler Ave. and Hoyt St. at 3 p.m., stopped a passing motorist for talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving.
Paul Saracino, 29, of Jersey City, was charged with that MV violation and also for driving while suspended and failure to surrender a suspended license.
At 10:20 a.m., a concerned citizen alerted police to possible drug use at Brighton and Bergen Aves. In the area, Officer Esteves found Abdel Muhammad, 20, of Kearny, detected the apparent odor of marijuana and saw him discard a plastic container. This was recovered, along with a still-burning marijuana blunt, police said. Muhammad was charged with possession of pot and drug paraphernalia. Oct. 27 Shortly after midnight, Officers Ben Wuelfing and Chris Medina were called to Walmart to take into custody 31-year-old Ron Sampson of Montclair for allegedly attempting to shoplift clothing and a TV. Police said a warrant check revealed he had two — one each from Newark and Bloomfield. (Sidelight: At KPD headquarters following his arrest, Sampson reportedly refused to remove the drawstring on his sweatpants — said removal of which is a standard precautionary measure when incarcerating a prisoner. Police therefore removed the sweatpants, and he spent the night in a cell in his shorts. Boxers or briefs? Talk amongst yourselves.)
• • •
A Kearny man wanted in connection with a July robbery at Rite Aid was arrested by Officers Brian Wisely and Kevin Arnesman, who spotted him at 3 p.m. on the 400 block of Kearny Ave. Police said Paul Spana, 49, was the subject of multiple theft-related warrants, including two from Kearny and one from North Arlington. He has been remanded to the Hudson County Jail on $50,000 bail, with no 10% option.
• • •
At 10:30 p.m., Wuelfing and Medina were back at Walmart to arrest Oscar Cruz, 30, of Newark for allegedly shoplifting sneakers, clothing and a TV. Cruz was also charged on a warrant from Newark.
At 7:30 p.m., Vice Squad detectives observed a man they suspected of having engaged in a recent drug transaction pedaling a bicycle at Passaic and Johnston Aves. Pulling their car alongside him, they told him to stop. He reportedly ignored this directive, rode through a gas station and headed north on Belgrove Drive. Pulling their car alongside him, they noted he was now under arrest for fleeing.
The cyclist then led them on a serpentine course, down Lincoln Ave., to Johnston, back to Belgrove and onto Woodland Ave.. At the Highland Ave. intersection, the officers alighted from their vehicle, pursued him on foot and tackled him to the ground.
During the slowspeed chase, police said, the suspect was seen discarding a brown paper bag. Det. Ray Lopez, who had responded as backup, recovered it and reportedly found it to contain suspected marijuana.
Kini Crawford, 22, of Kearny, was charged with possession of pot and paraphernalia, obstructing the administration of law, resisting arrest and hindering apprehension by discarding evidence.
Both Crawford and his bicycle were impounded.
At 12:30 a.m., Officer Thomas Sumowski was driving south on the 500 block of Kearny Ave. when a Kia in front of him suddenly swerved, mounted the sidewalk, struck a parking meter and light pole and came to rest against a tree.
Sumowski immediately summoned medical aid and then approached the car.
Reportedly detecting the odor of alcohol on the driver, he and backup officer Wuelfing conducted field sobriety tests and, at HQ , an Alcotest. Rosalba Georgallis, 24, of Kearny was charged with DWI, DWI in a school zone and careless driving.
– Karen Zautyk
By Ron Leir
Harrison attorney Albert J. Cifelli will be honored as Knight of the Year at the Harrison Knights of Columbus Our Lady of Grace Council 402 Shield Awards celebration on Dec. 2, it was announced by Grand Knight Tom Dolaghan.
This year’s event will be held at the Harrison/East Newark Elks hall, 406 Harrison Ave., from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Refreshments will be available.
Dolaghan said that Cifelli, who serves as a Ninth District representative on the Hudson County Board of Freeholders, has been advocate for the K of C in Harrison for many years, providing legal services to the organization at no cost for many years.
Raised in Harrison, Cifelli was a magna cum laude graduate of Rutgers University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree, and received a law degree from Rutgers Law School, Newark. He practices law with partner Ken Davie in Harrison.
A past president of the West Hudson Bar Association, Cifelli has served as public defender and municipal prosecutor in Kearny and public defender in Harrison. He sat on the old West Hudson Hospital Board of Governors for 10 years, including two as chairman.
At the event, Dolaghan said the Knights will announce the presentation of a $10,000 donation to the Harrison Public Library “in honor of a brother Knight, the late Mayor Raymond McDonough,” to help with the conversion of the top floor to accommodate new quarters for the Harrison Museum.
The Knights will also fete newly retired Harrison High School Principal Ronald Shields as Educator of the Year and the high school faculty and Harrison Education Association for having won Blue Ribbon School designation from the U.S. Secretary of Education last school year. A plaque commemorating their achievement will be presented for display at the high school.
The Policeman of the Year award will go to Harrison Police Chief Derek Kearns in recognition of the strides made by the Harrison Police Department in cutting crime. Kearns will accept the award on behalf of the entire department.
Between January and June 2014, Kearns said that Harrison has seen an overall reduction in crime of nearly 31% from the same period last year, and a drop in violent crime by nearly 56%, with 15 incidents of robberies and aggravated assaults reported the first half of 2014 compared with 34 for the same time period last year; and non-violent crime (auto thefts, burglaries and larcenies) down by almost 27%, from 236 such incidents reported the first half of last year to 163 this year.
Members of the Harrison Fire Prevention Bureau will share the Firefighter of the Year award in recognition of the Fire Department achieving an annual 5% reduction in the total number of fire-related incidents for the past five years. Fire Director Harold Stahl will be asked to accept the award on behalf of the bureau.
The Outstanding Citizen of the Year award will be presented to Jorge J. Tena, corporate manager of GEO Specialty Chemicals, 8 Essex St., Harrison. He’s being feted for permitting Harrison Recreation teams access to the company’s property to play and for extending the property’s use to community groups such as for the Second Ward Family Carnival Fest.
Special recognition is being given to the Knights’ Ladies Auxiliary and to Katie Darmetko Walker in particular for spearheading fundraising drives on behalf of disabled Kearny student-athlete Steve Koziel that netted more than $10,000 in the past two years for special athletic gear that facilitated Koziel’s ability to compete successfully in track and field events around the world.
There is no admission fee for the Shield Awards event but anyone interested in attending is asked to call Dolaghan in advance at 973- 766-6458.
By Kevin Canessa Jr.
There’s an epidemic in this country — and sadly, it involves millions of people who suffer from chronic pain. To treat the unbearable pain — caused by a myriad of complications from Sciatica to simple work-place accidents — many people have no other choice but to use very strong pain medication.
And often enough, that use of pain pills leads to outright addiction.
But there are alternatives to using pain meds — and one of those alternatives is right in your backyard in Harrison.
Dr. Weiping Li runs the Lee Traditional Chinese Medicine Health Center in town — and she’s got another office on Grove Street in Downtown Jersey City. Li is a licensed acupuncturist in New Jersey and New York and also earned a diploma in acupuncture from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine more than 20 years ago. She’s specially trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine and western medicine.
Li recently sat down with The Observer to discuss the beneficial uses of acupuncture — and some of those uses might be surprising.
“We specialize in Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture, but have many other ways we serve patients,” Li said. “From Chinese herbs, to teas to massage to foot reflexology, we use all different kinds of methods to alleviate all kinds of pain.”
Li says most of her patients come to her complaining of chronic back pain, muscle pain, knee and elbow issues, Carpal Tunnel syndrome, Sciatica and muscle spasms.
Her methods also help people with allergies, asthma, stress, anxiety, insomnia and depression.
But it’s women with fertility issues who she says benefit greatly from her work.
“Most people don’t know that infertile women can be helped by acupuncture,” Li said. “Of late, gynecologists recommend acupuncture to women who have trouble getting pregnant. The treatments can balance hormone levels, give women more confidence and make irregular periods more regular.”
The treatments for women with fertility issues, she says, help to relieve poor circulation of blood in the pelvic area, a common cause of infertility, and can boost the percentage of women who have had trouble getting pregnant.
“Not so long ago, a patient of mine, who was an oncologist, came to us after trying 10 times to get pregnant with in-vetro fertilization,” she said. “She was frustrated and ready to give up, but then her gynecologist suggested she try acupuncture. So that is what she did — she came to us for a few months of treatment.
“The 11th time she tried in-vetro fertilization, she got pregnant. It was a great story. And it can happen to others in a similar situation.”
Li also says acupuncture and TCM can also help people who are overweight and who want to stop smoking.
“In Chinese medicine, we say the body doesn’t get enough balance when people are overweight,” Li said. “Sometimes, people are overweight and they don’t even eat a lot of bad food. It’s a slow process — many months maybe — but after and during acupuncture treatment, there’s more of a balance. The fat doesn’t stay just around the belly. It balances better to all parts of the body and slowly, people see the weight go down.
“It really helps the digestive function.”
Of course, patients also have to commit to a more healthy diet, regardless of how they’ve eaten in the past.
“No sweets!” she said, laughing. As for smoking, Li says there are special points in the human body that control addiction. With acupuncture treatment, cravings for nicotine and other drugs can subside.
“It has helped people quit smoking and other drugs,” she said. “And for others, it’s controlled the desire for the drugs.”
To experience what Li has to offer, you don’t need insurance, and treatments are reasonably priced. She says most insurance plans don’t cover acupuncture, but if yours does, it’s accepted. T
he Harrison Lee TCM Health Center is located at 215 N. Second St., and the Jersey City center is at 293 Grove St. Office hours are Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and weekends, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For additional information, to see a menu of services and costs, or to make an appointment, call the center in Harrison at 973-482-1530, or the center in Jersey City at 201- 915-0710 or visit www.leetcmhealthcenter.com.
The Enfamil cans can sleep soundly now on their shelves at Walmart, secure in the knowledge they are no longer in danger of being abducted by a serial shoplifter.
Suspect Danny Morales, 36, of Newark — who has been making regular appearances in the Kearny police blotter — was apprehended last Wednesday, Oct. 29, by Officer Daniel Esteves, who spotted him at 10 p.m. near the Quick Chek at Kearny and Bergen Aves.
Morales had been on the lam since Oct. 20, when he fled Walmart after attempting to (yet again) steal several cans of the baby formula from the store, police said. In that incident however, he reportedly assaulted a security guard, which elevated a simple shoplifting charge to robbery. A $50,000 warrant had been issued for his arrest. Police said he also had a $500 warrant out of Bloomfield.
Prior to the Oct. 20 incident, Morales had been taken into custody three times — on Oct. 2, 14 and 17 — for allegedly stealing Enfamil from Walmart. The product is said to be popular among pilferers because it can be readily fenced for cash.
Last week, Morales was remanded to the Hudson County Jail in lieu of $50,600 bail, with no 10% option. Considering the fact that, when nabbed by Esteves, the suspect had been panhandling for change outside Quick Chek, one can assume he is still languishing in a cell.
– Karen Zautyk
The fifth annual Essex County Veteran’s Day ceremony includes a tribute to the late Joseph “Joe” Fornarotto, who served as commander of Disabled American Veterans Belleville/Nutley Chapter 22. The program begins at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 5, at Essex County Veterans Memorial Park, on W. Market St., Newark. The ceremony will be held rain or shine.
Belleville Public Library and Information Center, 221 Washington Ave., offers the following children’s programs:
* Saturday craft program takes place Nov. 8 at 3 p.m.
* Pajama Story Time program continues Tuesday, Nov. 18, at 6 p.m.
Both are open to all ages and no registration is required.
The Woman’s Club of Belleville meets the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at its clubhouse, 51 Rossmore Place. Prospective members are welcome. For more information, contact Terry Landon at 973-751-6529.
Bloomfield Public Library, 90 Broad St., announces the following programs:
- A free Origami class, open to ages 13 and up, is slated for Nov. 19 at 3 p.m. All materials will be supplied. Registration is required. Visit http://www. bplnj.org/programs/.
- Cartooning class, open to ages 10 and up, takes place Wednesday, Nov. 12, from 4 to 6 p.m.
- The Mid-day Movies program continues its 12:15 p.m. screenings on Mondays and Thursdays. Here’s the schedule: Thursdays: Nov. 6 – “Awakenings,” Nov. 13 – “Grand Piano,” Nov. 20 – “The Other Woman,” and Nov. 27 – No movie (Thanksgiving Day); Mondays: Nov. 10 – “The Best Years of Our Lives,” Nov. 17 – “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and Nov. 24 – “The House of Yes.”
- Craft project, open to ages 5 and up, is set for Nov. 6 at 2 p.m. • The library offers the following story times: Toddler Time, open to ages 19 to 36 months, on Tuesdays and Fridays at 11 a.m.; Pre-K Story and Craft, open to ages 3 to 5, on Wednesdays at 11 a.m.; and Baby and Me, for up to 18 months, on Thursdays at 11 a.m.
Harrison American Legion Post 282, 8 Patterson St., hosts the following events:
- Harrison Police Department vs. Harrison Fire Department chili cook off begins at 6 p.m. on Nov. 8, at the post hall. Representatives from both departments will bring their best chili to be judged by a few locals. All are welcome.
- The post invites the community to a Veteran’s Day observance on Tuesday, Nov. 11, at 11 a.m., at the veteran’s monument in Roosevelt Park, 318 Harrison Ave.
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate/Coccia Realty continues a coat drive for the area’s less fortunate, through Nov. 15, at its Kearny, Lyndhurst and Rutherford offices. 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., holds its annual fall dance on Friday, Nov. 7, from 7 to 10 p.m. Prizes will be given to the best dancers. Guests are restricted to teenagers.
Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., hosts the following free programs:
- The Movie Premiere series continues with a special screening of Disney’s “Maleficent” (PG) featuring Angelina Jolie on Friday, Nov. 7, at 4 p.m.
- Saturday Family Film Matinees continue on Saturday, Nov. 8, at 11 a.m., with a screening of “Planes: Fire and Rescue” (PG).
- An Adult Painting Party, open to ages 14 and up, is set for Saturday, Nov. 8, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A $5 registration fee helps cover the cost of paints and canvases. Class size is limited. To reserve a spot, call the library at 201-998-2666.
For more information on any library programs, call 201-998- 2666 or visit www.kearnylibrary.org.
Trinity Church, 575 Kearny Ave., will hold its monthly flea market on Nov. 8, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Refreshments are available. Vendors are invited. Tables are one for $15 or two for $25. Call the church at 201-991- 5894 to schedule your table or call Annamarie at 201-998-2368. after 5:30 p.m. Walk-in vendors are welcome.
First Presbyterian Church, 663 Kearny Ave., hosts a Geek Flea Market on Saturday, Nov. 15, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Over 40 vendors will be selling comics, collectibles, art and more for all ages. Admission is free.
Lyndhurst Health Department, 601 Riverside Ave., Suite 1, holds its seasonal flu shot clinic on Monday, Nov. 10, from 5 to 7 p.m. Free shots are available to township residents age 18 and older. Anyone on Medicare must bring their card. Wear clothes with loose-fitting sleeves to make it easier to receive the shot. No appointments are needed for the flu clinic. For more information, call the Lyndhurst Health Department at 201-804-2500.
Lyndhurst Public Library, 353 Valley Brook Ave., hosts the following events:
- Book Club discusses “The Body in the Library” by Agatha Christie Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 6:30 p.m. Call the library to reserve a copy of the book. Space is limited.
- LetHistoryLive.net presents “The Real History of Thanksgiving” on Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 6:15 p.m. Space is limited. To register, call the library or email email@example.com.
- Walk-in Story Times, open to grades pre-K to 2, take place every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at 6:30 p.m. No registration is required. • Cornucopia Mobile Craft, open to grades 1 to 4, is offered on Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 3:30 to 4:15 p.m.
- Turkey Headband Craft, open to grades pre-k to 3, is set for Monday, Nov. 17, from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. Registration is required for all of these events, unless otherwise noted. To register, call the library at 201-804-2478.
New Jersey Meadowlands Commission announces the following programs:
- Art of the Heavens, a program open to all ages on how humans created art as inspiration from the cosmos, will be held on Thursday, Nov. 6, from 2 to 3 p.m., at the Meadowlands Environment Center, 1 DeKorte Park Plaza. Cost is $5; $4 for MEC members. Registration is recommended and appreciated. To register, go to http://mec. rst2.edu/environment.
- Birds of Prey, a program featuring live raptors, is open to all ages on Sunday, Nov. 9, 2 to 3 p.m., at the Meadowlands Environment Center. Learn about their behavior, physiology and natural history. Admission is $5; $4 for MEC members. Registration is recommended and appreciated. To register, go to http://mec.rst2.edu/environment.
For more information on NJMC programs, call 201-460- 8300
The Angry Coffee Bean, 89 Ridge Road, hosts its creative writing group’s first open mic on Monday, Nov. 10, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. All are welcome.
North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Road, offers the following programs, for which registration is not required, unless otherwise noted:
- Story Time, open to ages 4 to 7, takes place Thursday, Nov. 6, at 11 a.m.
- YA (Young Adult) Movie Days, open to grades 6 and up, continues on Friday, Nov. 7, at 3 p.m.
- Sing-along Story Time, open to ages 2 to 5, offering stories, music and simple crafts, will be held on Thursday, Nov. 13, at 11:45 a.m.
- A class on making origami, open to grades 4 to 7, is slated for Friday, Nov. 14, at 3:30 p.m.
- A screening of the film “The Book Thief” (PG-13), is open to all ages on Friday, Nov. 14, at 11 a.m.
- Computer Coding Club, open to ages 8 to 13, meets Saturday, Nov. 15, from 1 to 2 p.m. (ages 8 to 10) and 2 to 3 pm. (ages 11 to 13.) Learn to code, develop websites, apps, programs, games and explore technology Registration is required. To register, visit http://northarlington. bccls.org/children.html. The library will be closed to the public at 1 p.m. on this date, as usual, and open only for this special program.
- Friends of the Library meet on Friday, Nov.14 at 10 a.m. All are welcome to join.
- Knitting Group meets on Thursdays, Nov. 13 and Dec. 11, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. both dates. If anyone is interested in moderating this group or offering instruction, call the library at 201-955-5640 and ask for Kristin Nelson.
- Computer Basics class takes place Mondays in November from 6 to 7 p.m. Call 201-955- 5640 to register for this series of courses; space is limited.
North Arlington Woman’s Club sponsors a trip on Dec. 6 to the Sands Casino, Bethlehem, Pa. The bus leaves from Borough Hall at 9 a.m. Cost is $30 with $20 slot return and $5 food voucher. For information, call 201-889-2553.
Due to the number of people attending the 2014 Nutley Distinguished Service Medal for Military Veterans Awards Ceremony, the venue has been changed from the Kingsland Manor to the Nutley AMVETS, located at 184 Park Ave.
The event is Sunday, Nov. 9, from 2 to 4 p.m. For information, call Dan Jacoby at 973- 284-4900, ext. 2428.
Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive, announces the following programs.
Registration is not required unless otherwise noted. To register, call 973-667-0405:
- Manga/Anime Teen Club, open to grades 7 to 12, meets Friday, Nov. 14, at 3 p.m.
- An Evening at the Library, celebrating the library’s centennial, kicks off at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15. Enjoy champagne, gourmet foods, and entertainment. Tickets are $100 per person. Contact the library at 973-667- 0405 for more information.
- Babygarten, open to ages 23 months and under, offers books, nursery rhymes and playtime, on Tuesday, Nov. 18, at 9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Registration is required. Participants must be Nutley residents.
Nutley makes NJSIAA state playoffs; Harrison earns first victory
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
There is good news to report this week for two local high school football teams.
First, Nutley defeated Weequahic, 28-18, to improve to 6-2 on the season. It was the Maroon Raiders’ third straight victory.
More importantly, the Maroon Raiders have qualified for the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV state playoffs, the first state playoff appearance since 2011.
“It is very rewarding,” Nutley head coach Tom Basile said. “The kids were excited. The locker room was electric. It was like a weight was lifted off their shoulders.”
Basile said that he always believed that the Maroon Raiders were going to have a successful season.
“I absolutely felt that this team was going to be special,” Basile said. “The expectations were pretty high. This is a group that has been together for three years. The last three weeks, we were in do-or-die situations and we won all three. Having three and four-year players really is paying off. We tried to build this program for the last three years.”
Harrison is another local team that enjoyed success over the weekend, but it wasn’t in the same proportion as Nutley. The Blue Tide won for the first time in 2014, defeating Hawthorne, 27-26, giving Harrison its first win of the season.
“When you’re having a season like we’re having, a lot of kids would have thrown in the towel,” said Harrison head coach Matt Gallo, whose team improved to 1-7. “The commitment of the kids has been consistent. They have been working so hard for that first win and they finally got it.”
The Blue Tide actually trailed Hawthorne, 20-0, in the first half and later trailed 26-14 before making the dramatic comeback.
Quarterback Mike O’Donnell was the Harrison standout, rushing for 155 yards on 10 carries and scoring both fourth quarter touchdowns that gave the Blue Tide the win. Sophomore O’Donnell also completed three passes, including a 55-yard touchdown to Jason Sheppard, for 80 yards.
“Trailing 20-0 and being able to come back is a testament to the character of this team,” Gallo said. “They were not giving up on the season. They fought hard in the fourth quarter, regardless of what the score was.”
Gallo was impressed with the way O’Donnell played down the stetch.
“He just took over in the fourth quarter,” Gallo said. “He was the guy who was not going to lose that game. He did everything he could to make sure we were not going to lose. He was throwing and running like he’s an upperclassman. We know we have a very young team, but Mike has been phenomenal. The mission has been to improve every year. We have a bunch of young players who are going to get better.”
Jerry Rodriguez also had a big fumble recovery for the Blue Tide. He’s another sophomore.
“After a while, as the season goes by and you’re playing without a win, it’s easy to get discouraged,” Gallo said. “But nothing has been compromised. Our practice structure has been the same way every week. They’ve all stayed the course.”
The Maroon Raiders once again got a huge performance from junior running back Craig Merkle, who rushed for 211 yards and three touchdowns. He also eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the season with his performance.
Pete Russo had a big game, collecting two huge receptions as well his fifth interception on defense.
Rob Melillo was solid at quarterback, completing five passes for 124 yards and a touchdown.
“Offensively, when people focus on Craig, it opens up things for everyone else,” Basile said. “Craig makes everyone else around him better. Rob was our JV (junior varsity) quarterback the last two years and he works so hard at it. He’s gone to the (Peyton and Eli) Manning camp to get better. He knows the offense and knows it well.”
Frank Malanga made 19 tackles on defense, including an interception. Andrew Aiello also had an interception.
“Russo has hands of gold and is always making big catches,” Basile said. “Malanga is always around the football every play”
Needless to say, it was a solid team effort.
The win also put Nutley in position this weekend to play for a Super Essex Conference- Liberty Division championship against Caldwell.
“We talked to the kids about what they had to play for,” Basile said. “We asked them to imagine what it would be like to play Caldwell in a game that didn’t matter and then play in a consolation game instead of the state playoffs. They definitely responded. They all chose to play playoff football. There’s nothing like that atmosphere of a state playoff game.”
So both local teams head to their respective practices this week with something to play for.
“It’s very exciting,” Basile said. “We’re now preparing for the big games ahead.”
After facing Caldwell for the SEC-Liberty crown, the Maroon Raiders appear headed to face No. 3 seed Paramus in the first round of the state playoffs in two weeks.
“We’ve waited 10 weeks for the chance to play these big games,” Basile said. “Now, it’s here. We were talking about it. Now it’s here in front of us.”
Let the big games begin.
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
In August, the Belleville boys’ soccer team was headed toward great things in 2014. The school just hired one of its all-time greats in Jim Damiano to run the program, after longtime coach Len Marino had stepped down due to medical reasons.
The Buccaneers were destined for greatness.
Meanwhile, Carlos Goncalves was the program’s junior varsity coach for the prior four years. In August, Goncalves was on vacation, visiting his family in Portugal, when the Belleville Board of Education made more than 50 teacher cuts, one of whom was Damiano.
Without Damiano, the Buccaneers became a program without a coach.
“I got the phone call that Jimmy was no longer going to be the coach,” Goncalves said. “The AD (athletic director Tom D’Elia) called me and asked me if I would take over. I didn’t want to be the head coach, but I decided to do it for the kids. I’m not sure about next year, but I agreed to do it this year.”
The program also brought back a familiar face to be the assistant – namely Marino.
“It helped tremendously,” Goncalves said. “Having Lenny beside me was great. He’s a great individual and a great coach. The kids all know him and love him. Lenny was determined. He said, ‘If you take over, I’ll help you.’ Lenny is my mentor. His help is always needed.”
So Goncalves inherited the program and had to try to stem the tide, keep the players on the right track that was established before him.
“I was doing it for the kids,” Goncalves said. “Regardless of their talent, I would take over for the kids. I put their ability and their play aside. I did it for them.”
Goncalves knew that there was a lot of talent returning on the 2014 roster.
“You always have high expectations when you have a team like this,” Goncalves said. “These kids have been together for like six years. The core of the team has been playing together forever. When they play together as a team for that long, there’s no other choice but to have high expectations.”
The Buccaneers have responded well for the new coach and the old coach, winning 14 times this season and advancing all the way to the Essex County Tournament semifinals for the first time before falling to perennial power Livingston.
“It felt great to be in the semifinals,” Goncalves said. “I told the kids that it was already an achievement to get there. I told them if they walk off the field, they should do so with their heads held high. I just believe that they felt the pressure a little bit, playing Livingston at home with our fans there at night. It was tough for them, but I’m very proud of them.”
The Buccaneers were set to face Morristown in the opening round of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV state playoffs Monday.
In goal, the Bucs have used senior Kevin Coronel in goal, but he hit his head in the win against Millburn in the Essex County tourney. Junior Jason Cadena has filled in admirably in net. Junior Elias Tapia is another reserve.
The Buccaneers have two of the best defenders around in seniors Marlon Rodriguez and P.J. Gencarelli, both of whom have been with the program for four years.
“Having them back has helped tremendously,” Goncalves said. “They’ve both together helped us scoring on set pieces, scoring at least 11 goals with headers.”
Junior Maverick Garcia and senior Nelson Pichardo round out the Buccaneers’ solid defensive unit, with seniors David Esquivel and Cesar Idirovo coming off the bench.
Senior Max Correa has been a huge plus for the Belleville midfield. Correa has 23 assists, among the leaders in the state.
“He always plays defensive minded and assist first,” Goncalves said. “He could have scored more goals, because he really has a good shot, but he prefers to give it off for assists. He’s just a complete player.”
Others in the midfield include seniors Randy Fernandez, Kevin Vicente and junior Jairo Campoverde. Senior Carlos Fuentes and junior Chris Sosa are key reserves off the bench, with senior Marco Guaman also coming in as a reserve.
Senior Muhammad Cheikali is another midfielder who Goncalves uses off the bench.
On the forward line, the Buccaneers have Matthew Gavidia, who has scored 10 goals, and senior Luis Lopez, the team’s super striker, who has knocked home 23 goals. “Lopez is tremendously fast,” Goncalves said. “He’s very quick and gets to a lot of balls with his speed. When he gets the ball, he’s very lethal and is difficult to stop.”
Senior Gerson Hernandez can contribute at either the forward or midfield slots. Senior Daniel Bamimore is another key reserve for the Belleville front line.
Whatever happened in the state playoffs Monday would not deter what has been a tremendous season, especially with the preseason turmoil.
“I told them that this has been really exciting,” Goncalves said. “There were a lot of challenges. We faced a lot of tough teams all season. But we grew as a team through it all in all respects. It was exciting, challenging and it was worth it for me to have the experience.”
Maybe the Belleville Board of Education can do the right thing and insure that both Goncalves and Marino, health permitting, will be back next season. The successful program needs to have some sort of stability, even with all the top players graduating.
Above: The approximate location of last night’s deadly crash.
A multi-vehicle crash on Route 21 South claimed the lives of two people in Belleville on Monday, Nov. 3, according to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and the Belleville Police Department.
The crash involved three vehicles at around 7:30 p.m., the prosecutor’s office said.
Reports say a tractor trailer overturned on to a car. Afterward, a fire started, reports said.
The two deceased, whose names have not yet been released, were traveling in the same car, and were pronounced dead on scene, according to reports.
The crash is being investigated by the Belleville Police Department and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office’s Major Crimes Task Force.
We’ll share more information about this crash once it becomes available.
Those with details about the crash are asked to call the task force a 877-847-7432.
— Kevin Canessa Jr.
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Jessica Failace vividly remembers the day that dramatically changed her life.
“We were playing River Dell in the county playoffs (two years ago),” said Failace, the Lyndhurst High School senior. “My knee twisted the wrong way. I heard it pop.”
The results were staggering. Not only did Failace tear the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), but she also damaged her meniscus.
“There was only 1:44 left in the game,” Failace said. “I knew it was bad.”
It also came at an emotional time in Failace’s life. Just eight days prior to the injury, Failace lost her beloved grandfather, Frank Benedetto, Sr.
“It was a hard time for me,” Failace said. “It was absolutely horrible. I had everything I loved to do taken from me.”
However, Failace was determined to get back to the soccer field and to the track (where she competes in the middle distance races).
Failace’s uncle, Frank Benedetto Jr., is a physical therapist who works at Paramus Orthopedic Physical Therapy.
“He took care of me right away,” Failace said. “I was blessed that he helped me. I ended up needing two surgeries. I was non-weight bearing for 66 days. But the day after my last surgery, I started physical therapy. Those were the worst days of my life, but they changed me. Those days made me who I am today. I completely believe that things happen for a reason. It all made me a stronger person.
” Failace worked diligently in her physical therapy in order to make it back to the soccer pitch and back to the track.
“I worked very hard,” Failace said. “I wanted to come back better than ever.”
Fast forward to 2014. Failace entered her senior year with high hopes and expectations.
“I felt as a senior and as a captain, I had to step up for my team,” Failace said.
Last year, Failace played for the Golden Bears, but she was limited in what she could do.
“I doubted myself a little,” said Failace, who played while wearing a bulky brace on her injured knee.
“You could definitely tell that she wasn’t 100%,” said Lyndhurst head girls’ soccer coach Kim Hykey. “She was wearing the brace and she just basically got through the year.”
But when practices began in earnest for the 2014 season, Failace was a different person and player. The bulky brace was gone.
“This year, it’s like, `What injury?’” Hykey said. “Her speed and confidence is back. It’s night and day to what she once was.”
“It upset me that people always came to me and asked me how I was doing,” Failace said. “I wasn’t able to run like I used to. I wanted to become better than I was.”
Failace scored two goals as a freshman, one as a sophomore and two as a junior. But no one could expect the explosion that she has enjoyed this year as a senior.
“She has been playing phenomenally,” Hykey said.
No one could have ever anticipated what Failace could accomplish this season – or for the last two weeks, scoring two or more goals in five straight games.
Failace scored two goals and added an assist against Leonia, had two goals against Queen of Peace, scored two goals and had two assists against Bergen Charter, had the three-goal hat trick against Dwight-Englewood and scored two more against Ridgefield.
For the season, Failace has tallied an astounding 20 goals and added five assists.
For her efforts, Failace has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.
“I think I have much more confidence this year,” Failace said. “Going through physical therapy has made me stronger and gives me confidence that I can shoot with either leg. I can shoot from all different angles.”
Hykey said she remembers the turning point for her senior captain.
“When I noticed her turning point was in the beginning of the season,” Hykey said, “She wasn’t scoring much, but I noticed that she hustled and played well against Glen Rock. I don’t know if that gave her confidence, but from that point on, she got started and has been amazing. She has been making shots from ridiculous angles. I didn’t know she could do that.
Added Hykey, “She plays the left side (of the midfield) and has developed a left shot. Her left foot has become very good. She’s not afraid to take a shot with her left foot.”
Failace admits that she has fully recovered from the knee injury.
“I feel like I’m better than ever,” Failace said. “I feel less limited than I was. I’m much better without the brace. It feels great to be able to do this. I’m completely recovered.”
The Golden Bears are also enjoying success, with a 17-2 record and a top seed in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I state playoffs that begin this week.
“She’s been a surprise, a pleasant surprise,” Hykey said.
Hykey likes the chemistry she has with fellow midfielder Amanda Fulcher. Another team captain, Giana DiTonto, has an incredible 31 assists.
“Amanda has done a great job distributing the ball,” Hykey said. “Jess has been getting open through the defense and making shots.”
Hykey also counts on Failace to be a leader.
“She’s awesome,” Hykey said. “She’s like having another coach on the field. She’s smart and knows what has to be done. She always tries to do the right thing.”
Failace also runs track and holds the school record for the 400-meter run as well as two records with Lyndhurst relay teams.
Failace is also a standout in the classroom. She’s currently ranked No. 2 in the Lyndhurst Class of 2015 with a grade point average of 4.16 and a score of 1810 in the Scholastic Aptitude Tests.
Failace has not made a commitment to college. Because of her experience in the field, she wants to become a physical therapist and will attend an accelerated six-year program in college.
She’s undecided about the school and whether she will play soccer in college. “I might run track and play club soccer,”
Failace said. “I’m not ready to give up playing soccer.” Failace also has a reputation off the field.
“She’s a goofball,” Hykey said. “I will come to my office and find 75 Post-It stickers on my wall that say, ‘Jess is the best.’ I don’t even have to read them to know who’s done it.”
“I just want to leave my mark when I go,” Failace said. “I like having fun. People meet me and they think I’m quiet and shy, but I’m actually quite the opposite.”
So the fun-loving captain is enjoying life once again – and scoring goals at will.
“It all made me a stronger person,” Failace said. “I am absolutely better than ever. I was asked if I wanted to have plastic surgery to hide my scars on my knee. I want them there forever as a reminder of what I’ve been through. They made me who I am.”