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Category: News Alerts

Harrison police seek suspects in two armed robberies



Police are seeking suspects in two armed robberies that happened a little more than a half-hour apart in the early morning hours of Wednesday, May 14, in Harrison.

Police said the first incident happened at about 12:30 a.m. at Cross St. and Davis Ave.

As a man and woman were walking to the front door of the woman’s residence, police said the male was pushed to the ground from behind by one suspect while a second tried to grab the woman’s bag. Police said the man wrestled with his attacker who hit him in the mouth with a black handgun while the apparent accomplice grabbed the bag and ran away.

Police said the first suspect also fled and both suspects entered a black SUV on Cross St. and drove away. Read more »

The Observer: 127 years of news coverage

Photo by Anthony Machcinski

By Anthony J. Machcinski 

Observer Correspondent 

For over 127 years, The Observer has been the leading resource for news in the area. From Harrison to Lyndhurst, from Kearny to Belleville. During that time, The Observer has sought to bring the latest and most in-depth news coverage.

The Observer began publication on March 14, 1887, when Philip E. Brockway and brothers Bernard and Edward Fredericks put out the first copy of “The Arlington Observer.”

As it evolved over time, The Observer transformed from a four-page, five-column sheet to the 32+ page newspaper distributed throughout the area today.

“The paper has a very good reputation throughout the area,” said Classified Supervisor Natalie Rodriguez. “Try not delivering the paper on time and you better believe that the calls come in. Readers really want that paper.”

While news has remained, well, news, nearly every other aspect of the business has changed, and The Observer changed with it. Brockway and the Fredericks brothers would not be able to fathom the ability to produce a 32-page paper in just a few short hours.

Easily the most telling change has been the integration of new technology, including the internet.

“In regards to our future, the internet has been a hard hit for newspapers all around, but we continue to strengthen our website to reach younger generations,” Rodriguez said.

Continuing to expand its online coverage while not changing the feel of the paper, The Observer recently began running its “e-edition,” which posts on Wednesdays, the same day the print edition hits newsstands.

“Our readers still pick up our print edition,” Rodriguez explained. “We believe the e-edition is just another way for us to reach our younger generations.”

While the readers have certainly reaped the benefits of being well informed about the current events in the area, those who have advertised with the paper have also benefitted from the paper’s popularity.

“We always have returning customers for classified advertisements,” Rodriguez said. “When it comes to larger print ads, there are several customers that have advertised with us for decades. Their loyalty towards us has only benefitted the paper’s reputation.”

Photo by Anthony Machcinski

Photo by Anthony Machcinski


The advertising aspect of the paper has changed throughout the years as much as the paper itself.

“Our promotions are constantly changing to meet the needs of the customers,” Rodriguez said.

The paper has featured a variety of promotions throughout the years, including seasonal promotions.

The addition of the e-edition has also benefitted these advertisers.

“If an advertiser has their website featured on their ad in the paper, online readers will be able to click on the website and be redirected to that customer’s webpage,” Rodriguez added.

While The Observer has changed throughout the years, including several changes in location throughout Kearny, one thing has remained the same – the paper’s reputation for in-depth reporting and quality service and readership throughout West Hudson, South Bergen and East Essex counties.

“We have a strong staff and a strong reputation that has allowed us to continue to service the area for generations,” Rodriguez said.

With a stable presence as the backbone of journalism in the area – and the readership to prove it – Rodriguez believes advertising in the paper is one of the best opportunities for local customers.

“It’s important to advertise with us because we can help them gain customers,” Rodriguez explained. “If people don’t know you are open, they can’t go to your shop. I believe it’s important to keep your name out there. As the saying goes, ‘Out of sight, out of mind.’ ”

The Observer is located at 39 Seeley Ave. in Kearny and is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Observer services Harrison, East Newark, Kearny, North Arlington, Lyndhurst, Belleville and Nutley.

For more information, visit the paper’s website at www.theobserver.com or call the paper at 201-991-1600.

Former Observer correspondent Jeff Bahr dies in motorcycle crash


Former Observer correspondent Jeff Bahr, 56, died April 10 as a result of a motorcycle crash in Pennsylvania. Our thoughts and sincere condolences are with Jeff’s entire family.

Our Ron Leir is working on a retrospective of Jeff’s life, and it will appear in the coming edition of our newspaper.

Here is Jeff’s obituary from NJ.com.

Rest in peace, Jeff. We will all miss you very much.

Nutley girl missing since March 17; have you seen her?


A 16-year-old Nutley girl was reported missing on March 17, and Nutley police are still investigating her whereabouts. She frequents Passaic and Paterson and has been located in Montclair, S. Hackensack, Wayne and Little Falls as well. It appears that she is avoiding being located, and has spoken to officers on several occasions stating that she is going to return home but has failed to do so as of April 1.

Christina Simeonidis is 5’6” 140lbs, brown eyes and brown hair, fair skin with a tattoo on her left wrist that says “Heaven.”

Anyone with information to her whereabouts is asked to contact the Nutley Police Department at 973-284-4940

Nutley police need help finding missing girl, 17

Judith Hicswa

Nutley Police are investigating the disappearance of 17-year-old Judith Hicswa.

She was last seen Monday, Feb. 17 between 8 and 9 p.m.,  leaving her Centre Street residence, with possibly an older Asian man.

She was wearing a red sweatshirt, with white letters, blue jeans and burgundy Converse sneakers.

She is 5 feet, 3 inches tall, weighs 130 pounds,has  brown eyes and brown hair.

Anyone with information regarding Judith’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Nutley Police Department at 973-284-4940

UPDATE: Missing Nutley teen found safely


A teenage girl from Nutley who was reported missing since Feb. 11 is back home, Nutley Police said today.

Detective Sgt. Anthony Montanari said  the parents of Christina Simeonidis called the department on the afternoon of Thursday, Feb. 20, to report that their daughter had returned home safely.

Montanari said he hadn’t yet talked to the parents to get a full accounting of where the girl had been and what she’d been doing.

“This is the seventh time she went missing in the last three months,” Montanari said.

— Ron Leir

Remembering Ray McDonough: A reflection from former Observer Editor Kevin Canessa Jr.


By Kevin Canessa Jr.
Former Observer Editor

I first met Raymond J. McDonough in January 1992. He was still a councilman in Harrison, and I was just a high-school senior at St. Peter’s Prep and a rookie stringer at another newspaper that covers Hudson County, let’s just say, at the time. I remember being in awe of him back then, because he’d already served on the council for about 14 years. And I found it pretty remarkable that anyone could be that dedicated.

Of course, sitting in the mayor’s chair at the time was Frank E. Rodgers. Talk about longevity.

I left West Hudson County in 1993 to go away to Rhode Island for college. But in that time frame, in 1995, Rodgers retired as the nation’s longest-serving mayor — and McDonough, almost rightfully — ascended to the mayoralty.

No one was better suited to replace the legend that was Rodgers.

And in his own way, from 1995 to the day he died on Feb. 12, 2014, McDonough was himself a legend who, with a little help, transformed Harrison into the bustling place it’s becoming now.



In 2006, I landed my dream job — the editor of this newspaper. And not too long after I was hired, I went to Harrison Town Hall on a whim because I wanted to re-introduce myself to the mayor. It had been 13 years since I’d dealt with him professionally — though I did occasionally run into him at Tops Diner some summers when I was back in New Jersey.

When I walked into Harrison Town Hall, surprisingly, he was standing not too far away from the huge doors into the place on the Harrison Avenue side. And astonishingly, I didn’t even need to remind him who I was.

“Kevin!” he shouted from across the hall. “So good to see you. Wow it’s been a long time!”

It was as if I’d left for Rhode Island a week before.

“Come on with me to my office,” he said.

And that’s what we did.

We sat and talked for an hour. We caught up — and didn’t speak politics for a second that day.

But as time went on, we developed a trust for each other that was rare between an editor and a mayor. Numerous times, he called me into his office to inform me of yet-to-be-announced plans for the town.

Whenever anything was happening with Red Bull Arena, there I was.

Whenever there was something new on the redevelopment front, there I was.

When he got word from U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez that Harrison was getting a brand-new PATH station, I was sitting in his office before anyone else — media or otherwise — knew a thing about it.

And it translated into other areas of the town, too — most notably in the police department — where two of the greatest policemen I’ve ever known, Derek Kearns and Michael Green developed into two of the most trusted confidants I’ve ever had as a journalist.

Ray McDonough was a very simple man. Sure, he had his political enemies — just ask Steve or Maria McCormick. Even Councilman Anselmo Millan at one point went from being McDonough’s trusted friend, to bitter enemy, back to a trusted ally.

But for the most part, all he ever really wanted was for the only town he ever called his home town to be a better place. That’s why he worked so hard to get a hotel here. That’s why he fought with every bone in his body for positive redevelopment. That’s why he was almost single-handedly responsible for landing the Red Bulls.

He only really ever wanted good things to happen to the people, too. He genuinely cared about the people of the town, whether they were from the old country in Ireland — or new arrivals from Colombia or Peru.

I’ll never forget when a resident came up to him once and told him he was out of work — and hadn’t eaten in days. They two hopped in the mayor’s car — and a few moments later, they were sharing a meal at Tops.

That’s the kind of man Ray McDonough was. The Jesuits would have loved him, because he was a great example of a “Man For Others.”

I loved Ray McDonough. He was a tremendous influence in my life. And when I left The Observer in 2008, he was one of the few people I really can say I miss to this day.

It kills me that I never got to tell him what a truly great man he was.

But as the tributes flow in from all corners of the globe upon his death, it won’t take much to demonstrate that greatness.

And it won’t be hard to tell just how much he’s going to be missed.

Kevin Canessa Jr. was editor of The Observer from 2006 through 2008. 

Harrison Mayor Ray McDonough dead at 65 (updated at 2 p.m. Thursday)



Longtime Harrison Mayor Raymond McDonough, 65, collapsed at Town Hall and died of an apparent heart attack on Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

McDonough had just finished one meeting and was getting ready for another when he was stricken, according to Councilman Larry Bennett. It was President’s Day, so the Municipal Building was closed, but the mayor had scheduled some town business to tackle. He was rushed to St. Michael’s Medical Center, Newark, where he was pronounced.

After his passing, the Town Council directed flags to fly at half staff and arranged to have black bunting draped from the front entrance of the Town Hall as a memorial to the deceased mayor.

Funeral plans have yet to be completed, according to Bennett.

McDonough, who had served 17 years on the Harrison Town Council, was beginning his 20th year as mayor and the final year of his current four-year term as chief executive.

– Ron Leir

BCPO arrests 3 more in connection to bar melee

From left, Pate, Venegas and Carrion

Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli announced today the charging of three additional individuals in connection with the bar brawl that occurred outside the Twins Plus Lounge located at 2 South Main St., South Hackensack.

During the incident, five people were injured, three critically. The case is being investigated by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, Major Crimes Unit, and the South Hackensack Police Department, Detective Bureau.

As previously reported to the press, at 1:44 a.m. on Jan. 27, SHPD and surrounding towns responded to a reported bar fight at Twins Plus Lounge. Read more »

The Observer now available for mobiles, tablets powered by Android

The new Issuu app for Android phones and tablets will allow our readers to check out each week's newspaper on the go.

The new Issuu app for Android phones and tablets will allow our readers to check out each week’s newspaper on the go.

If you own an Android-powered mobile phone or tablet, we’ve got good news for you — you can now read The Observer on the go without having to strain your eyes.

Thanks to the new app “Issuu,” which powers our e-Edition, every edition of The Observer can be read on the go. Simply go to the Google Play Store, search “Issuu,” and download it.

Once it’s downloaded, you’ll be able to read the newspaper on the go — on the train, on the bus … wherever you want. You’ll be able to easily maneuver between pages and zoom in and out to read stories that matter to you.

As always, thanks for reading The Observer, and we hope you enjoy this great new feature.