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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
State recycling grants totaling approximately $226,000 are being awarded to the eight communities in The Observer coverage area to implement and enhance local recycling efforts, the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection announced last week.
In all, 588 N.J. municipalities will share $15 million in grants awarded through the state’s Recycling Enhancement Act.
The funds are being allocated based on the recycling successes local governments demonstrated in 2012. Disbursement was to begin last week.
The local grants are: Belleville, $15,615; Bloomfield, $31,538; East Newark, $3,890; Harrison, $23,367; Kearny, $54,617; Lyndhurst, $27,948; North Arlington, $27,669; Nutley, $40,369.
“The grants can help municipalities in many ways,” said Jane Herndon, DEP Assistant Commissioner for Environmental Management. “They can purchase the best and biggest recycling containers with these funds, educate residents and businesses about the benefits of recycling and help local governments support recycling staff.”
The recycling grant program is funded by a $3-per-ton surcharge on trash disposed of at solid waste facilities across the state. The DEP reported that, in 2012, New Jersey generated more than 10.2 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) — i.e., garbage — from homes, schools, hospitals, businesses, etc. That same year, the agency documented the recycling of more than 4.4 million tons of recyclable municipal waste, such as glass, aluminum and other metals, and paper.
This resulted in a MSW recycling rate of 44%, an increase of 4% over 2011. By comparison, the national MSW recycling rate in 2012 was 34.5% percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Overall, nearly 20.2 million tons of solid waste (including construction debris and other types of non-MSW waste) were generated in New Jersey in 2012, of which 11 million tons were recycled. The overall waste and amount of materials recycled were impacted significantly by debris generated by Superstorm Sandy, the DEP noted.
“We still have the goal of achieving 50% municipal recycling in New Jersey and we would like to see our overall recycling rate grow beyond 60% and stay there,” Herndon said.
For a complete list of recycling grants by municipality, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/dshw/recycling/ stat_links/2012payout.pdf.
For more information on recycling in New Jersey, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/ dshw/recycling.
– Karen Zautyk
The Kearny Board of Education settled litigation over replacement of its copy machine vendor at its meeting on Dec. 15.
In other developments:
The board received notification from the executive Hudson County superintendent that the five-year contract the board had awarded Patricia Blood as superintendent of schools has been sanctioned by the state Department of Education.
On Nov. 13, the board voted to appoint Blood to the post, after she’d been serving for some time as acting chief school administrator, granting her a 5-year contract at $167,500 a year through June 30, 2019.
Also, board members convened their first meeting in their new conference space in the annex to their new Midland Ave. headquarters.
The building’s elevator, part of the unfinished business at the new HQ, was due for a state inspection last Friday and its fire suppression system was also scheduled for inspection by the municipal Construction Code unit. If the building gets a passing grade, then a permanent certificate of occupancy will be issued. Results of those inspections weren’t readily available at press time.
The building’s basement, which has been reportedly reserved for two Gifted and Talented classrooms, remains a work in progress.
As for the legal issue, Ken Lindenfelser, the board’s general counsel, said that when the district switched its copy machine service contract, from Xerox to Atlantic, earlier this year, there was a dispute with the old vendor over billings.
Lindenfelser said that Xerox sued the district for about $230,000 but ended up settling for a payment of $109,000 and the return of all of its copy machines from the various school facilities.
Of that amount, Lindenfelser said, Atlantic has agreed to pay $103,500. He said that when Atlantic submitted its bid for the copy machine contract, the vendor pledged to be responsible for that obligation.
“The new machines from Atlantic are all in place,” he said.
– Ron Leir
The Kearny Municipal Utilities Authority last Wednesday awarded a contract for $4,597,890 to Coppola Services of Ringwood for the renovation of its Kearny Point and Harrison Ave. pump stations.
Of four bids submitted, ranging up to a high of $4,744,000, Coppola’s was the lowest, according to KMUA Executive Director Kevin O’Sullivan. One bid was tossed out as deficient, he added.
O’Sullivan said the work involves fixing pumps, bar screens and generators at both locations that were damaged by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. “It’s an overhaul of all mechanical parts,” he said.
O’Sullivan said the contract specifications call for completion of the job within two years. The contractor may choose to work on both sites at the same time or in staggered phases, he added.
While the repairs are proceeding, both pump stations “will remain fully operational through a bypass system,” he said.
The Kearny Point station is located in the rear of the KMUA offices at 39 Central Ave. while the Harrison Ave. facility is at 1802 Harrison, just east of the N.J.Turnpike and near the U.S. postal facility.
Financing for the project is earmarked from two primary sources: the federal Environmental Infrastructure Trust fund and the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), with the balance coming from the KMUA, according to O’Sullivan.
Meanwhile, O’Sullivan said that work on the KMUA’s new offices is virtually completed but he said that the general contractor, Daskal LLC of Wallington, is awaiting a final inspection by the roof sub-contractor before a 20-year warranty agreement can be issued.
The job was awarded to Daskal for $680,900 in April 2013 and the KMUA staff has been operating from a temporary trailer since Labor Day 2013. A few months ago, O’Sullivan said the job was “behind schedule” and had been progressing “slower than anticipated.”
– Ron Leir
A Tappan St. resident was in her apartment at 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 15, when she heard a noise, investigated and came face-to-face with a burglar.
Luckily, he promptly fled, without taking anything. And she promptly called the cops.
The victim told Officer Jay Ward that she recognized the intruder and believed that he lived in the area, police said. Dets. Scott Traynor and Ray Lopez developed as a suspect 18-year-old Jalen Diaz of Kearny, who was arrested the following day and was charged with burglary.
Police said Diaz had apparently gained entry to the apartment by removing a window screen.
• • •
Other recent reports from the Kearny police blotter included the following:
At noon, Officer Daniel Esteves and Sgt. Paul Bershefski responded to the report of a heated male-female dispute in a Chestnut St. residence and found that the male, Victor Fernandez, 31, of Kearny, apparently had four outstanding warrants: three from Kearny and one from Newark. They also found that he had a knife, police said.
Fernandez was charged with harassment, unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, and hindering apprehension (for allegedly giving a phony name when initially questioned). He was remanded to the Hudson County Jail in lieu of $5,000 bail.
• • •
Officer Jordenson Jean, patrolling on Kearny Ave. at Hoyt St. at 3 p.m., found a Honda double-parked and blocking traffic. Jean located the driver, Deena Hussein, 26, of Kearny, who was found to have a suspended license. She was arrested for that offense and on an East Newark warrant — also for driving while suspended.
Officer Jose Resua, investigating a 4 p.m. accident on Hackensack Ave. in South Kearny, found that one of the drivers, Braulio Gomez, 50, of Newark, had a suspended license. And a warrant out of West New York. He was arrested and brought to headquarters.
• • •
At 6 p.m., Officer Rich Carbone noticed that a Hyundai traveling near Kearny and Bergen Aves. had an expired temporary registration. During the MV stop, the driver, Juan Vasquez, 26, of Kearny, allegedly discarded a plastic tube containing a marijuana cigarette. He was charged with possession of pot and drug paraphernalia, operating a motor vehicle while in possession of a CDS, and driving without a license. The car was impounded.
• • •
At 6:45 p.m., a resident on the 200 block of Ivy St. reported that he had returned home to find his second floor apartment burglarized and a “substantial amount” of cash missing. Det. Traynor processed the scene and canvassed the neighborhood. The investigation is ongoing.
• • •
Vice officers were at Wilson Ave. and Forest St. at 8 p.m. when they saw Albert Keys, 39, of Kearny, whom they knew to have a warrant out of Camden.
In a search incident to arrest on that warrant, he was allegedly found to be in possession of six vials of suspected cocaine and was charged with that offense.
At 5 p.m., a concerned citizen reported seeing a suspicious individual enter a parked pickup truck on the 100 block of Forest St., apparently take something and then flee toward Bergen Ave. The witness provided a “very good description” to Officer Ward, who relayed it to all units. Vice detectives then reported that, just prior to the theft, they had seen Alexander Harkes, 30, of Kearny, wearing the same clothing the witness described.
Det. Traynor compiled a photo array, and the witness identified Harkes, police said. Within the hour, Vice spotted him on Passaic Ave. and arrested him on a burglary charge and two outstanding Newark warrants. He was remanded to the county jail.
At 8 p.m., Vice officers reportedly observed Christopher Coello, 20, of Newark, wandering in a parking lot at Bergen and Passaic Aves. and peering into vehicles. Approaching him for questioning, they detected a strong odor of marijuana and found him to have a plastic bag containing the drug, police said. He was charged with possession of pot and paraphernalia.
– Karen Zautyk
Between Dec. 13 and 20, Nutley PD responded to 20 motor vehicle accidents, 11 disputes, 41 medical calls and these incidents:
A patron at a local car wash reported that their mirror broke off during the wash process.
A field interview was conducted by officers on Washington Ave. with a man allegedly rolling what appeared to be a marijuana cigar. Police said the man was repacking the Black and Mild cigar after removing an inner lining that cops believed produced adverse health effects. Dwan Gordon, 24, of Newark, also had an outstanding warrant from Newark. He was arrested on the warrant and turned over to the custody of Newark PD.
A motor vehicle stop on Centre St. resulted in the arrest of Carlos Carrillo, 35, of Newark, on a warrant from the Essex County Sheriff’s Office. Carrillo was also issued summonses for speeding and driving while suspended.
• • •
Wesley Santos, 23, of Elmwood Park, was pulled over as he was traveling on Park Ave. on an active warrant from Elmwood Park. He was also ticketed for driving while suspended. He was released after posting bail pending a court date.
Joseph Mancuso, 57, of Newark, was arrested on Franklin Ave. on an outstanding warrant from Elizabeth. He was turned over to Elizabeth PD pending a court date.
• • •
A shopper in a Franklin Ave. store reported a theft of her pocketbook from the front seat of her vehicle while returning the shopping cart to the stall.
While conducting a field interview with Stephanie Jankin, 25, of Nutley, about an active warrant from the Essex County Sheriff’s Offie, police said Jankin allegedly tried to run away but was apprehended and charged with resisting arrest before being turned over to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.
• • •
Police responded to a S. Spring Garden Ave. location on a report of criminal mischief. The resident told police they heard a loud noise and saw a bright flash on their front lawn. Checking the area, police said they found pieces of a firework and some markings on the resident’s vehicle apparently struck by the firework exploding.
Police responded to several calls about a man arguing with customers at a Franklin Ave. shop and, upon arrival, found the individual walking in the street, screaming and cursing at passing motorists and at the officers. Kaseem Johnson, 32, of Newark, was issued a disorderly person summons and released pending a court appearance.
• • •
While conducting an investigation in Memorial Park, the police anti-crime unit arrested Michael Casella, 19, and Mark Howard, 18, both of Nutley. Casella received a summons for possession of drug paraphernalia and Howard was taken in on an active warrant from Bloomfield before being released with a new court date.
At 3:41 a.m., police said Officer Joseph Bigg responded to a Washington Ave. location on a report of an unresponsive male. Upon arrival, police aid Bigg found a 53-year-old Nutley man unconscious. Police said Bigg administered CPR until the man was revived. The rescue squad transported the man to Clara Maass Medical Center for evaluation.
From the food you stock in the freezer to the silverware you put on the table, your kitchen is your partner in health. When you fill your kitchen with the right tools and foods, you reap the benefits.
If your kitchen isn’t your ally, changing it may be easier than you think.
The foods you should stock—fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry, and whole grains— taste just as good and can be cooked just as quickly as less wholesome choices that lurk in your cupboard and refrigerator. Updating cookware— by trading the deep fryer for a slow cooker, for instance— can aid healthy cooking, too.
In fact, you can redo every nook and cranny of your kitchen. Here’s how:
When you’re faced with larger portions, you’re more apt to overeat. Your dinnerware may be one of the culprits. Plate sizes have increased over the years, and it makes it harder to judge how much you’ve eaten. Even the shape of drinking glasses makes a difference. A tall thin glass can make you feel like you’re getting more than a short wide one.
If you cook with fat so your food doesn’t stick, trade up to nonstick cookware. You can get the flavor of fat with far fewer calories by adding a little olive oil cooking spray to nonstick cookware. A bit of vegetable broth can also take the place of oil.
Match the capacity of your cookware to your family size. If you use a large pot for a twosome, you may be tempted to cook, and eat, more food.
Slow cookers are a boon to your health because you don’t have to brown food in fat before cooking, as some of us do for taste and appearance. If cooking in the evening leads to unwanted snacking, use your slow cooker during the day so you’ll have a wholesome meal waiting for you.
Government dietary guidelines call for eating 2 cups of fruit and 2-1/2 cups of vegetables a day. Along with dark green and orange vegetables, add beans to your menus.
With canned or frozen fruits and vegetables, and beans on hand, you’re set for instant dinners. Mix different types of beans with some vegetables and spices for a quick meal. Read labels on cans to avoid high sodium and sugar levels.
Small changes can bring big results. You may not be willing to get rid of cookies, but you can keep healthier varieties on hand. Choose instead gingersnaps, graham crackers, or vanilla wafers.
Avoid crackers, cookies, and chips made with saturated or hydrogenated fats. Many food manufacturers have changed formulas to remove unhealthy fats.
Stock your refrigerator with low-fat dairy foods and keep high-sodium processed meat to a minimum.
You may have to choose between more prep time or more expensive cleaned and pared fruits and vegetables. It’s up to you whether the money matters more than the convenience. You may be more likely to eat it if you don’t have to work hard to prepare it.
Frozen dinners may be one of your evening mainstays. You don’t have to give them up as long as you select varieties low in sodium and fat. Read the label to check portion size and nutrient content.
You can also assemble a fast meal if you have frozen vegetables, such as broccoli and carrots, along with frozen fish fillets.
To learn more, stop in and see in-store Registered Dietitian Julie Harrington, RD, at the ShopRite of Lyndhurst 540 New York Ave. For information on health and wellness events contact her at 201-419- 9154 or Julie.email@example.com.
Belleville Elks, 254 Washington Ave., is having a blood drive on Tuesday, Dec. 30, from 5 to 9 p.m. No appointment is needed. Donors must be at least 17-years-old, weigh at least 120 lbs. and be in general good health. There is no upper age limit for donors provided they meet the health requirements. People with a fever or sore throat should wait until they are feeling better before donating and there is a 24-hour deferral for tooth cleanings and fillings. For those who have recently traveled outside the United States, please call the blood center 973-676-4700, ext. 132 for eligibility criteria.
Bloomfield Public Library, 90 Broad St., announces the following programs. Registration is not required unless otherwise noted. To register or for more information, call the library at 973-566-6200:
- The library presents its version of the traditional Italian legend of LaBefana with interactive storytelling, live musicians, singers and dancers, and more. Befana, like Santa Claus, delivers gifts to children on Epiphany Eve (Jan. 5). Children receive gifts from both Befana and Santa Claus. Reservations are required.
- Book Club meets on Jan. 5 at 6:45 p.m. to discuss “Riders of the Purple Sage” by Zane Grey.
- Financial Book Club meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m.
- Knitting Club meets Fridays at 11 a.m.
- Midday Movies are screened on Monday and Thursdays at 12:15 p.m. Here’s January’s schedule: Jan. 5 – “Sunset Boulevard”; Jan. 8 – “The Giver”; Jan. 12 – “Million Dollar Arm”; Jan. 15 – “Selma, Lord, Selma”; Jan. 22 – “Chef”; Jan. 26 – “Winter’s Tale“; and Jan. 29 – “Dolphin Tale.”
- Storytimes resume Jan. 12. Days and times will remain the same: Baby and Me, for ages up to 18 months, is offered on Thursdays at 11 a.m.; Toddler Time, open to ages 19 to 36 months, is held Tuesdays and Fridays at 11 a.m.
West Hudson Brave Women Fighting Breast Cancer meets the last Friday of every month, 7 to 9 p.m., at the East Newark Senior Center, 37 President St. For more information, call Emma at 201-998-6828, Rosa at 201-246-7750, Fatima at 973- 485-4236 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sacred Heart of Jesus American National Catholic Church continues the Christmas celebration with Mass on Sunday, Dec. 28, at 12:30 p.m., at Christ Episcopal Church, 100 Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. Visitors and guests are very welcome. See www.SacredHeartANCC.org for more information.
The Children’s Room of the Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., presents a family concert Tuesday, Dec. 30, at 4 p.m., by Susan Goodman (Sooz), a saxophonist/ songwriter/educator whose presentation on bias, bullying and bystanders uses music to cultivate compassionate communities. The compelling lyrics and eclectic blend of jazz, pop, Latin and Afro-beat with original songs shine a light on the biases behind bullying. Light refreshments will be served.
The N.J. Meadowlands Commission hosts a New Year’s Day Nature Walk with the Bergen County Audubon Society at Mill Creek Marsh in Secaucus, Thursday, Jan. 1, 10 a.m. to noon. This event is free and open to all ages. To R.S.V.P., contact Don Torino of the BCAS at greatauk4@gmail. com or call 201-230-4983.
Lyndhurst Health Department announces the following:
- Flu vaccine is available for township residents. Call 201- 804-2500 to make an appointment. The CDC recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older receive a yearly flu vaccine.
- Rabies Clinics are set for Thursdays, Jan. 8 and 15, at the Community Center on Riverside Ave. (behind the Little League fields), 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Township residents can also license their dogs and cats at these clinics. Licensing deadline is Jan. 31, 2015. Call the Health Department for more information.
Sacred Heart Home-School Association, 620 Valley Brook Ave., hosts its annual Tricky Tray on Friday, Jan. 16. Tickets are $10. No one under age18 will be admitted. Doors open at 6 p.m. Ticket includes one sheet for first level prizes, coffee/tea and dessert. For tickets and information, call the school office at 201-939- 4277 or Patty at 201-803-9580. Ticket deadline is Jan. 6. No tickets will be sold at the door.
Knights of Columbus Council 2396 sponsors a Tricky Tray Friday, Jan. 16, at the Senior Center, 250 Cleveland Ave. The $15 admission includes coffee plus one prize sheet of tickets. No alcohol is permitted. No tickets will be sold at the door. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, call Steve Cortese at 201-657-0800 or Sal Russo at 201-446-7244.
North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Road, hosts a New Year Story Time, open to ages 4 to 7, on Dec. 29, at 7 p.m.
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Noel Colon thought that he had the world on a string last year, when he took over the Harrison High School boys’ basketball program and led the Blue Tide to seven wins among their first nine games.
It was a great start for a rookie head coach, considering that Harrison hadn’t won seven games over the previous three seasons.
But then, the bottom fell out for some reason. The Blue Tide lost their last 16 games of the season to finish 7-18.
“The goal was to get better and honestly, we didn’t get better,” said Colon, who began his second season as head coach last Friday night in a 52-41 loss to Queen of Peace. “There were games where we weren’t making winning plays. We shot 47 percent from the free throw line as a team. It’s very tough to win games doing that. I would wake up every day, thinking that it would be the day that we would turn it around and it never happened. We weren’t able to take the other team’s punches and bounce back.”
Colon believes that there were major changes made with the Harrison program a year ago, but he was still disappointed overall.
“We were able to change the culture a little, but I think the kids were satisfied with their early success,” Colon said. “Even in our wins, there were warning signs that we were stuck in neutral.”
So Colon began this season, trying to put the up and down of a year ago behind him and his players.
“We’re starting from scratch,” Colon said. “It feels like I’m back to where I was last year when I started.”
Colon welcomed back only three seniors from last year’s team, two of which are current starters. The majority of the current varsity roster has never played varsity basketball before. Needless to say, it’s a challenge right from the opening tip.
“Our biggest problem is that we need to be consistent,” Colon said. “We have to bring the same focus to practice as we have in games. Once we can do that, then that’s the next phase in our development.”
Senior Alexander Cajiga is a 6-foot forward who earned All NJIC Meadowlands honors last season, averaging nine points and three rebounds per game.
“He has been doing really well in the preseason,” Colon said, “He was having a nice summer for us, but he suffered a fractured bone in his back and it took him a while to get back.”
Incredibly, Cajiga just received medical clearance to return on Frriday, the day of the season opener.
“So he hasn’t been able to do much in the preseason,” Colon said. “You can tell that he just doesn’t have his legs.”
Senior William Azabache is a 6-foot-2 forward.
“I’m really proud of him,” Colon said. “He’s had a different approach. He’s matured a lot. He works really hard in practice. He’s become a leader for others to follow.”
Senior Jordan Villalta is a 5-foot-7 point guard.
“He will play more this year than last year,” Colon said. “He’s a good defender who has worked hard to earn his position. He’s a good defender. He’s improved with his decision making.”
Junior Chris Downs is a 6-foot-2 forward/guard who is getting quality minutes this season.
“He shoots the ball pretty well,” Colon said. “He has a chance to be a pretty good player.”
Colon thinks that Downs can be a double digits scorer in most games.
“He has that kind of ability,” Colon said.
Junior Felix Calderon is a 5-foot-8 guard with good defensive skills. Junior Craig Ruff is a 5-foot-11 guard who is a good shooter, defender and rebounder. Both will play considerable minutes this season.
Junior Marquis Valentin is a 6-foot-1 center who provides physicality down low.
“He’s probably our best rebounder,” Colon said. “He loves to bang down low and get after the ball.”
Sophomore Quincy Rutherford is a 6-foot-3 is a versatile performer.
“He can put the ball on the floor and go to the basket,” Colon said. “He can also shoot the ball very well.” Rutherford paced the Blue Tide with 16 points Friday night.
Freshman Jonathan Leiras is a point guard who is getting playing time right away.
“He’s a very talented kid,” Colon said. “There’s a lot of pressure on him as a freshman to play varsity, playing the most important position on the floor. But he’s the type of kid who can handle it. He’s a mentally tough kid and has the desire to get better. He loves the game. He has a very bright future.”
Sophomore Genaro Falcon is a 5-foot-9 guard who is also in the rotation.
“He’s working hard and trying to get more playing time,” Colon said.
The Blue Tide Yule Tide tournament will take place Friday, with the Blue Tide playing Paterson Charter and Cliffside Park facing Lincoln in the other game.
“We were fortunate to get commitments from those schools,” said Colon, as Paterson Charter’s head coach is Tommie Patterson, the former head coach at Paterson Catholic. “I think we’re the type of team that will get better as the season goes on. They just have to mature on the court, do a lot of the little things. If they do a better job paying attention to details, then they will be a better team. They just have to take pride in coming to practice and that will be the first step.”
Give Colon credit for taking over the Harrison program and giving it all he has. Here’s to hoping that Harrison never grows tired of Colon and that the eager young coach doesn’t become tired of Harrison.
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
It’s Christmas time in the city.
So it means it’s time for Santa Hague to get out his giant bag of goodies and hand out gifts to those who were naughty and those who were nice.
So here goes, the Santa Hague column for 2014.
As Santa Hague reaches into his bag, he finds gifts for North Arlington.
For boys’ basketball coach Rich Corsetto, a private tanning salon and a beach to be placed in Riverside County Park.
For football coach Anthony Marck, a healthy team from start to finish in 2015.
For softball coach John Galante, for the powers that be to realize just how good of a coach he is and that they should stop messing around with him.
For track coach Bernadette Afonso, name cards to hand out to people who don’t realize she got married. Even the kids still call her Fash.
For versatile coach Dan Farinola, a Starbucks gift certificate, so he can get some coffee to energize him as he coaches at the crack of dawn from season to season.
For baseball coach Paul Marcantuono, a new last name like Smith or Jones. Marcantuono is almost a sportswriter’s nightmare.
For athletic director Dave Hutchinson, more great kids and coaches like the ones he gets to work with every day.
For Queen of Peace, Santa Hague finds happiness, joy and an end to the constant strife that the school’s coaches all work under. QP has to be the hardest places to work as a coach, because there is no longevity whatsoever.
For the great people of Lyndhurst, like retired athletic director and baseball coach Butchie Servideo, warm weather in Florida and a solid 7-iron.
For girls’ soccer coach Kim Hykey, a longer summer and a state sectional championship.
For new athletic director Jeff Radigan, more pairs of socks, so he can successfully fill the shoes of the guy he replaced.
For track coach Tom Shoebridge, several new hoodies with the arms torn out, so he can show off his impressive guns.
For football coach Rich Tuero, to totally forget about his first season and shoot for a promising future.
For basketball coach Paul Palek, a 6-foot-7 transfer from Indiana who rebounds like a beast and can shoot from 30 feet and in.
Over at Nutley, for athletic director Joe Piro, several gift certificates to the best Italian restaurants in the area. If you need to ask which restaurants, chances are that Piro already knows where they are.
For baseball/basketball coach Bob Harbison, a pocket planner that will keep his schedule and team records in the palm of his hands.
For football coach Tom Basile, a shotgun so he can ward off all comers in 11 years when his adorable 5-year-old daughter becomes old enough to date. She’s going to be in high demand, so we’ll throw in the rocking chair for the front porch to wait for her to come home.
For softball coach Luann Zullo, more costumes to wear during the offseason.
For the great DiPiano brothers, Frank and Mike, recognition for doing a great job in all the different sports you coach.
For boys’ soccer coach Marcellino Marra, a 30-goal scorer.
At Harrison, for athletic director Kim Huaranga, some more basketball players who could score 2,700 career points like Kim McDonough once did.
For baseball coach Jairo Mendez, his players to realize just how great of a pitcher he was.
For football coach Matt Gallo, patience, because things can only get better.
For girls’ soccer coach Rapahel Viana, a few containers so he can bottle up that incredible energy he has and share it with some others.
For boys’ soccer coach Michael Rusek, absolutely nothing. He has it all, including a wonderful happy and healthy baby son. Ok, maybe a new one of those.
For boys’ basketball coach Noel Colon, a few hard-nosed players like Noel Colon.
At Belleville, for athletic director Tom D’Elia, a Rolodex so he can put up with all the requests for phone numbers that he gets.
For football coach Joe Fischer, a few dozen talented players and a state championship. Hey, it’s Christmas time. One can dream, right?
At Kearny, for athletic director John Millar, a new baseball cap to wear during outdoor events. The one he dons most of the time is older than his children and is faded beyond repair.
For football coach Nick Edwards, a few more wins and a state playoff berth, to get that huge albatross off his neck.
For basketball coach Bob McDonnell, two players 6-foot-7 and a 16-win season.
For girls’ basketball coach Jody Hill, about two players who can play like Jody Hill did.
For boys’ soccer coach Bill Galka, the elimination of soccer academies, so he can coach the players he’s supposed to coach and not lose them to these academies.
For girls’ soccer coach Vin Almeida, a state championship.
For baseball coach Frank Bifulco, a lifetime membership to the Lollipop Guild.
For the great people at the Observer, like Natalie Ulloa, who handles anything and everything and Michelle Rybeck, who puts our pages together and Ron Leir, who edits these words, and for general manager Bob Pezzolla, who keeps us all going after all these years, my undivided thanks for another great year. It’s now 13 years that I’ve been able to write stories for this wonderful organization and I can’t think of a day when that association will end.
And to all the avid readers of the Observer and this sports section, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and thanks for your devotion and dedication, because without you, there’s nothing to write for. Happy Holidays!
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Bob Harbison has been coaching the boys’ basketball team at Nutley High School for quite some time now and he’s never had a team as deep and as versatile as the current bunch of Maroon Raiders.
“They’re all going to get a chance to play,” said Harbison, whose team defeated Christ the King of Newark, 47-38, to open the season last Friday night. “Whoever plays well that day is going to play. Whoever does the most will determine who stays in and plays.”
There are as many as 11 Maroon Raiders who will get playing time. There isn’t one player who stands out above the others.
“We’re not a young team,” Harbison said. “They’re all not veterans. They’re really not tested. We really had only two guys who had any real playing time last year. They’re all pretty balanced.”
One of the two who played last year is senior do-everything Pete Russo. The 5-foot- 11 Russo, who is coming off a brilliant football season, averaged only four points per game last year, but Harbison is expecting much more this season.
“He’s just a very good athlete,” Harbison said of Russo, who scored 10 points in the season opener. “He’s probably going to play football in college, but he’s a good basketball player.
He’s much stronger this year and he’s a lot more confident. I’m asking him to do a lot. He has to handle the ball, shoot the ball, cover the other team’s best player.”
Another key player is senior center Sean Rodriguez, who was the Maroon Raiders’ leading scorer Friday with 14 points. The 6-foot-3 Rodriguez is the key to the Maroon Raiders having a successful season.
“He’s making a lot of short shots, but he can get outside and shoot from the (3-point) arch,” Harbison said. “He shoots it well. He’s another athletic kid.”
Senior Eli Mir is a 6-foot forward who didn’t play much last year, but has worked himself into the Maroon Raiders’ rotation this season.
“He’s worked very hard to get this chance,” Harbison said. “He can shoot the ball.”
Junior Will Montgomery, the soccer standout, is another forward. Montgomery, whose older sister Grace was The Observer Co-Female Athlete of the Year last year, is a 5-foot-11 forward.
“He’s a strong kid,” Harbison said of Montgomery. “He can also shoot the ball pretty well from the outside.” Junior Geoff Bevere is a 5-foot-10 guard who made two big 3-pointers coming off the bench Friday. Bevere is a point guard, but can move around if needed.
Senior center C.J. Kaminski is one of the newcomers that Harbison related to.
“I actually cut him (from the team) last year as a junior,” Harbison said. “Instead of feeling sorry for himself, he worked hard to get bigger, faster and stronger. Now he’s just a better player.”
Kaminski made two shots and had a blocked shot coming off the bench Friday night.
“He also had four rebounds early,” Harbison said. “He was able to help us extend the lead.”
Senior Michael Sejias will be a defensive presence when he returns to action after serving a suspension.
“He’s a defensive presence,” Harbison said of the 6-foot-3 Sejias. “He’s strong under the basket and that’s important for us.”
Harbison has also been experimenting putting both Rodriguez and Sejias on the floor together.
Senior Isaak Lindenbaum is a 5-foot-9 guard.
“He shoots pretty well and plays good defense,” Harbison said. “I don’t know how many minutes he’s going to get, but he’s another hard worker looking for a shot.”
That internal competition has been fueling the Maroon Raiders in the early going.
Junior Giancarlo Padilla is a 5-foot-11 forward.
“He’s going to find his way,” Harbison said. “He’s another good athlete.”
Junior Devin White has his chance to play with the varsity as well. The 5-foot-8 White already has made his impact, hitting two big 3-pointers in the fourth quarter of Friday’s win.
“He’s a good ball handler and might be our strongest player with the ball,” Harbison said.
Junior Devin Merritt is another 5-foot-8 guard off the Nutley bench – for now.
“He’s a wonderful kid who shoots it pretty well,” Harbison said.
Merritt’s father, David, is the secondary coach for the New York Giants.
Dante Vocaturo is a 5-foot-10 junior forward.
“He’s a strong defender, very strong on the ball,” Harbison said. Antonio Olivo is a 6-foot-3 center who is a junior as well. “He’s a very solid rebounder,” Harbison said.
“He gets to back up the big guys.”
Needless to say, Harbison has a very deep squad.
“It’s as good of a group as I’ve ever had here,” Harbison said. “There’s not an ego in the group. Every single one of these kids has the potential to play well. I like that about this team. The kids all push each other to make everyone better.”
The Maroon Raiders were set to take on Caldwell before the Christmas break, then will head to the Chatham Christmas Tournament, the Cougar Classic, with host Chatham, Hanover Park and New Providence in the tourney field.
The Maroon Raiders are also a lot more competitive in the Super Essex Conference these days.
“It makes every game winnable,” Harbison said. “We know now that if we play well, we can win. It’s going to be a fun year.”
It’s off to the good start.