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Fitness center coming; new housing under review


By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent 


It may require an extended backstop at Harvey Field to prevent foul balls from whacking cars and/or people and perhaps a buffer of some kind for a residential dog run.

But, in any event, Carlstadt developer Ed Russo will be returning to the Kearny Planning Board March 4 for local approvals to expand his residential project along the north side of Bergen Ave. adjacent to the town’s Harvey Field recreation complex.

Last Wednesday, the board began hearing testimony on Russo’s proposal to demolish two commercial structures at 311-337 Schuyler Ave. and erect two 3-story buildings with 70 rental apartments as part of what the town has designated as an area in need of redevelopment.

It will reconvene next month to hear more about Russo’s expanded project but in the meantime, it voted to approve the developer’s application for a subdivision and amendment to the site plan for the first phase of his residential project – six buildings – on the south side of Bergen Ave. to accommodate a clubhouse and fenced-in dog run on the site of what had been projected as a retail pad.

In other business, the board also sanctioned a site plan and variance application submitted by Kearny Holding VF LLC/Fitness Intl. LLC to convert the old Pathmark supermarket at 175 Passaic Ave. to an LA Fitness facility.

Kearny attorney Gary Bennett, representing Fitness Intl., told the board that his client has negotiated a long-term lease with the property owner, Vornado Realty Trust of New York, to occupy the 58,000 square feet former supermarket building with no change to the structure’s footprint.

James O’Sullivan, director of development for Fitness Intl., said that the company has 650 locations in the U.S. and Canada and of those, he developed 60 in the past decade.

O’Sullivan said the building will be equipped with a kids’ club, locker rooms with bathrooms and showers, a spa, a 3-lane lap pool, basketball/ volleyball court and studios for cardio, yoga and cycling workouts.

Chances of putting in a juice bar are “50/50” at this stage in the development process, O’Sullivan said.

The facility will be open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week, he said.



by Ron Leir Ed Russo outlines his residential project at Planning Board meeting.

by Ron Leir
Ed Russo outlines his residential project at Planning Board meeting.

Plans call for the exterior masonry to be refurbished and repainted with an “earth-tone” color and “additional glass and light,” removal of the former supermarket’s loading docks, installation of brick pavers and bike racks near the front entrance and landscaping with 400 new plants anticipated, he said.

It will probably take a few months to file for building permits and, once granted, “five to six months to construct,” according to O’Sullivan. “The goal is to get this club open this year.”

Once construction starts, the company will open a “pre-sales office” to solicit memberships, he said.

Down the road, O’Sullivan said, the Kearny facility figures to employ more than 75 fulland part-time workers, with job opportunities for local residents.

As for the Bergen Ave. development, Russo told the board he expected to “be 100% complete” with his first phase which he calls Vermella Crossing – 150 rental apartments spread over six buildings – by October 2015.

Assuming favorable action by the board on his proposed expansion, Russo said his hope was to begin construction on that project by “sometime in 2016.”

Monthly rentals are projected at the “mid- $1,600s” for his one-bedroom apartments and in the range of “$2,200 to $2,400” for the two-bedroom units, Russo said. He has no plans to switch to “for sale” units.

Several board members, noting the proximity of the 2.2-acre development site to Harvey Field, wondered whether residents and/or their property might be in harm’s way from foul balls hit by batters during baseball season and that concern triggered discussion about the town doing some adjustments to the baseball field backstop which adjoins the targeted development site. No final plan was agreed to last week.

Asked about concerns raised by the Kearny Fire Department about access to hydrants and the ability of fire trucks to maneuver around the proposed residential buildings, Doug Bartels, an engineer and vice president with Russo Development, said that interior stairwells in each building would be equipped with standpipes and that fire rigs – and garbage trucks – should have enough room “to circulate around both buildings.”

Two board members – Chairman Fred Esteves and Councilman Jonathan Giordano – worried that tenants exiting either of the two proposed driveways from the site would have a tough time negotiating the flow of westbound traffic along Bergen Ave., which tends to stack up at the light at Schuyler Ave.

“There’s no way people are going to be crossing those driveways,” Esteves said. “No one’s going to give them a chance.”

Russo vice president Christopher Minks, the attorney representing the developer at the board hearing, said that the company may be “open to discussion on the more westerly of the two driveways” on possibly restricting the direction of traffic flow to oneway out only. “We’ll be looking at all options,” he said.

Legion seeks new members


By Karen Zautyk

Observer Correspondent 


Last August, The Observer carried our feature story on the 95th anniversary of American Legion Post 99 of Kearny. At the time, Post Commander Keith McMillan spoke about a problem most veterans’ organizations are facing: diminishing membership.

Over the past decade, Post 99 has lost more than 100 members, primarily due, sadly, to the loss of the World War II generation.

“We’re trying to communicate with the new generation of veterans,” McMillan told us. Next week, the Post hopes, that communication will take a leap forward.

And, although the younger generation is one focus, so too are older veterans.

Those who served during Korea or Vietnam — or WWII — also need support and, often, information about and help with the benefits to which they are entitled.

On p. 8 of today’s paper, you will find an ad from the Joseph E. Frobisher Jr. Post 99 inviting non-member veterans to its monthly meeting, to be held at Tuesday, Feb. 17, at the Legion headquarters, 314 Belgrove Dr.

The meeting will start at 7 p.m., “but come early, around 6 o’clock,” McMillan suggested.  “We’ll have refreshments before and afterward.” As the ad notes, anyone who has served honorably in the U.S. armed services, stateside or overseas, during WWII, Korea, Vietnam or were enlisted during any conflict, including Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, is eligible for Legion membership.

There will be open enrollment, but don’t think you will be pressured to join.

This is basically an invitation to stop by and meet some members and learn what the Legion is all about.

“I want them to feel welcome,” McMillan said. “I don’t want anyone to feel obligated. There’s no commitment. This will just be a great opportunity to network and learn for themselves about the benefits and support we can offer to people in the military.”

For example, McMillan said Post 99 is in the process of organizing a career-counseling program. “We are currently working with some companies that would like to donate their time to help with resumes,” he said.

There is also the Kearny VOICE (Veterans Outreach Information Community & Education) project, which provides veterans and their families with information and assistance (clarifying eligibility, assisting with paperwork, etc.) regarding benefits, claims, job training, education and counseling — including referrals for counseling for vets suffering from PTSD.

Kearny VOICE was formed in partnership with the local VFW and Marine Corps League. Post 99, McMillan noted, “has a good rapport” with those groups, “and we’re working more together now.”

“And even though I would like people to join my post,” he said with a smile, “I would not be upset if they chose to join any one of the three.”

McMillan is also hoping to make the Post 99 building more welcoming, including eventually opening it to vets’ service/therapy dogs. He’d also like to see its doors open more often, “so someone could just stop by for a cup of coffee.”

The Legion “has been involved in the community, but I’d like it to be more involved,” he said, adding that Post 99 “is fortunate enough to have the full support of Kearny’s mayor and Council.”

The Post is planning future open-enrollment programs for its Women’s Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion.

While young vets, especially those fresh out of the service, have many concerns, such as finding a job or starting a family, McMillan hopes they will realize that American Legion membership can offer both help with their futures and a connection with a shared history.

“I want them to know how the many generations before us have given us the foundation to keep a good organization going,” the commander said.

“Now, people coming home from service have a different set of concerns, but we have a common bond: We served.

“This is an opportunity to belong to an organization where you share that common bond. You can help build on the foundation they gave us and enable us to carry on.”

Teens for Jeans big hit


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


The suggestion came from English teacher Kathy Williams but once it was out there, it didn’t take long for the kids from Lincoln Middle School to jump into it.

Led by the school’s Student Council, the seventh- and eighth-graders are joining 10,000 schools worldwide in a venture co-sponsored by global retailer Aeropostale and youth volunteer organization DoSomething.org, with “Teens for Jeans,” to collect used jeans for homeless teens.

According to the sponsors, they have collected more than 4 million pairs of jeans just in the past several years.

“In 2012, when I was Student Council adviser at Franklin School, we participated in Teens for Jeans and at that time, we came in among the top five donors nationwide with 4,600 pairs of jeans collected,” Williams said.

This year, she said, Lincoln School hopes to surpass that achievement but it’s going to take some doing since as of last week, the total raised was 400 pairs.

But the students remain undeterred.

John Camac, president of the Student Council, has taken the initiative by emailing the principals of Franklin, Washington and Schuyler elementary schools and asking them to join in the enterprise and Williams has extended the collection deadline to Thursday, Feb. 12.

As an incentive, Teens for Jeans offers the school that hauls in the most jeans an opportunity to win a $5,000 grant and a free concert by The Vamps, a British pop band.

The program is pushing jeans as a valued clothing item for their durability and for providing “a sense of normalcy” among those teens whose lives have been disrupted. The sponsors say that kids under 18 “account for 39% of the homeless population.”

“Get involved,” urges a flier circulated by Lincoln students to their peers. “Clean out those closets and dresser drawers. Pack up those jeans that don’t fit you anymore. We’ll collect all sizes and colors.”

Several Student Council members offered their take on the project.

Brianne O’Callaghan said she’s enthused about participating because, “it’s nice to actually get to help people, to give something to people who are on the streets all day.” She said she’s observed homeless – not in Kearny – but elsewhere in New Jersey and “it’s sad to see that.”

And, “even if you don’t actually see homeless people,” said John Millar, “it’s still good to know you’ve made a difference in their lives – whether it’s five or 5,000.”

Anthony Bianchini took heart in noting that the pants drive “is a great way to help others without spending a lot of money.” And Cedric Briones said: “It’s been wonderful to see kids come together for this program.”

For Council Treasurer Justin Jablonski, learning that it’s not just adults that are suffering was a revelation. “I didn’t realize that kids our age are also out there and that it’s not just a bad streak of luck,” he said. “That’s depressing.”

Bianchini said this project has inspired him to take on a community service project, “Help Serve Vets,” through his home parish at St. Stephen’s. This summer, he plans to visit an area V.A. facility to visit and extend a helping hand to hospitalized servicemen and women.

Teens for Jeans is an application of this year’s Student Council theme, “Community and Me,” Williams said. “We’ve written letters to veterans and decorated Operation Goody Bags distributed to emergency first responders and veterans.”

When all the jeans are accounted for locally, Williams said they’ll be tied up and bundled and transported in teachers’ cars and/or school bus to the Aeropostale outlet in Morristown for distribution by volunteers to the homeless.

2nd time around for council pick


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


It’s back to square one for members of the Kearny governing body in its efforts to fill a First Ward seat on the Town Council that was vacated when Alexa Arce resigned Jan. 5.

So now, according to Mayor Alberto Santos, the decision will fall, by default, to members of the local Democratic County Committee, who will choose one of the three candidates it offered to the council: Marytrine DeCastro, Sonia Hill and Jenny Mach.

Even after a public Q&A with the three nominees, followed by a nearly 90-minute-long private deliberation among themselves on Feb. 2, the seven Town Council members emerged and declared themselves deadlocked.

Santos said that although “there were three strong candidates,” none had a “strong majority” to put one of the three over the top.

“There were different views who could best serve the council and the town,” the mayor added, and what complicated the situation was that each nominee “had different skill sets” supporting their candidacy.

It’s the first time in at least the past 15 years that the council has failed to come up with a clear choice after a vacancy has occurred, according to Santos. Council President Carol Jean Doyle said she found each candidate “strong and opinionated. Personally, I could work with all three without blinking an eye.”

Each has been an advocate for the community, Doyle said. Hill, for example, was among the group pushing to keep the former West Hudson Hospital open, Mach has been a pioneer in helping launch the Butterfly and Community Gardens and DeCastro is on the Board of Health.

Doyle volunteered that, “the DeCastro family has supported me politically for the past 23 years,” but hastened to add that she remained open-minded about the virtues of all three nominees.

“Each one would bring something positive to the council and the town,” said Doyle, a Third Ward representative, “so how do you pick one?”

It was the council’s suggestion to have the Q&A, Doyle said, because “we thought it would be easier – especially for those of us who didn’t know a candidate particularly well – to make the choice but, ironically, it made it more difficult.”

In fact, Doyle recalled, during the closed session, “[Council] people were cheerleading for all. Everybody wanted the three of them. All three deserve to be there.”

And, she said, all three responded well to the questions posed, such as, “What is your vision for the town’s future?” and “How can you make Kearny better?” and “What would you like to see as your accomplishments during your term in office?”

“Not exactly softball questions,” Doyle said, although she acknowledged that the subject of local real estate “taxes did not come up.”

Fourth Ward Councilman Michael Landy readily agreed that, “We had three really good candidates. They all had positives and we just couldn’t come to a consensus of one over the others.”

All three candidates assured the council that if they were appointed, they had every intention of running in November for the balance of Arce’s unexpired term through 2017.

Meanwhile, the pressure is now on the Dems County Committee to solve the vacancy dilemma.

“By state statute, we must hold another meeting of the committee on or before Feb. 19 and vote by secret ballot for one of the three nominees,” Santos said. “The candidate with the highest number of votes will be the appointee.”

There are 60 members of the county committee – two from each district – but Santos, who is the committee chairman, said that its bylaws are silent on the issue of a quorum for such a vote.

As of press time, no date had been set for that crucial meeting but Doyle said that whenever it is scheduled, she would press for a Q&A session similar to the one arranged for the Town Council for the benefit of county committee members who may be unfamiliar with the nominees before the vote is taken.

Will town privatize water system?

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


On March 1, Kearny Water Superintendent and Licensed Water System Operator Richard R. Ferraioli will retire after having completed 25 years on the job and his departure will leave the town treading water, so to speak.

That’s because the town isn’t sure whether to simply replace him or to re-think how the water department should be run. At the same time, the Kearny Town Council voted last week to approve a one-year renewal of its water services agreement with United Water of Harrington Park for $344,132 to handle water meter readings, billings and collections.

But how the town will reconcile the management of its water system after the superintendent exits is another matter. Members of the Town Council and Mayor Alberto Santos were informed of Ferraioli’s imminent departure at last Monday’s council meeting and voted to accept his retirement and to pay him $72,932 in terminal leave pay and unused vacation time.

Records in the state Treasury Department listed Ferraioli’s annual salary at $121,060. Santos said that Ferraioli’s decision to file his pension application was “very unexpected. He’s been an extremely knowledgeable, hands-on superintendent in a job that’s very taxing and he has done it well. It’s the kind of job where you’re always on call.”

Indeed, at virtually every meeting of the town’s governing body, the Town Council is asked to approve expenditures involving repairs of water leaks and/or water main ruptures that have been occurring on a regular basis – a fact of life that town officials attribute to the water system’s aging pipes.

Because of Ferraioli’s extensive experience dealing with the town’s water system, “we do not think he is replaceable,” the mayor said.

That’s why one of the options likely to be explored, he said, is “privatization of the management of the water system.”

One option that will not be entertained, however, Santos said, is selling the water system outright, much like North Arlington did some years ago by contracting with a state authority, the Passaic Valley Water Commission, to take over the borough’s water system.

Whatever the outcome, “it has to be done in a cost effective way,” Santos said.

One downside in transferring the operation of a water system to a third party, Santos said, “is that you lose control over [setting] your water user rates.” In the cases of Harrison – which contracts with United Water to run its system – and North Arlington, Santos said that the rates are “substantially higher” than those charged in Kearny.

“In some instances, the third party doesn’t even have to call a public hearing before it imposes an increase in the rates,” he noted.

“At least, if we do decide to contract out the management of our system in a cost-effective manner, we can retain our water rate function,” he said.

In November 2014, the Town Council approved nominal rate increases of 18 cents for residential users (going to $2.43 per 100 cubic feet up to 18,000 cubic feet), 34 cents for commercial users (going to $3.14 per 100 cubic feet up to 75,000 cubic feet) and 39 cents for industrial users (going to $3.64 per 100 cubic feet in excess of 75,000 cubic feet). The utility ended 2013 with a deficit but finished last year in the black.

The Kearny Water Department’s budget for 2014 was about $6.3 million, of which about $3.7 million was paid to the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission for the town’s potable water, nearly $1.5 million went for salaries and benefits for seven employees, about $50,000 for employee Social Security contributions and $600,000 for debt payments. As of Dec. 31, 2014, the water utility showed a cumulative outstanding debt of about $15.1 million.

“We’re going to sit down with Rich and [his brother and assistant water superintendent] Ted, along with Town Administrator Michael Martello and CFO Shuaib Firozvi, our engineer Michael Neglia and United Water to discuss what direction we should be pursuing,” Santos said.

He said that Martello would “manage the transition” as the town prepares to phase into a new management system.

Ferriaoli, who replaced his father, Richard Sr., as the town’s water boss, declined to discuss his retirement or his legacy with The Observer, but Council President Carol Jean Doyle offered her take on why he’s leaving when – since he’s only in his 50s – he could still have many productive years ahead.

“Rich is a replica of his father,” said Doyle, “with a beautiful work ethic, climbing down in the hole with his men to fix a pipe. He takes the job home 24/7 and I think he’s reached the stage where he’s burned out.”

The town has repeatedly advertised for additional water department staff, Doyle said, but “we haven’t been able to get people with the expertise required for this type of job.” It’s also hard to find someone with the state-mandated certification to operate a municipal water system, she added.

Unneeded meds welcome 24/7 at HQ


Got any unneeded or out-of-date medications at home that you’ve been meaning to dispose of?

Now you can do exactly that – safely and conveniently – by participating in the Lyndhurst’s “Project Medicine Drop.”

The Lyndhurst Police Department has installed a drop box in the hallway of its headquarters at 367 Valley Brook Ave., where residents are invited to deposit “unused, excess or expired prescription medications.

” In past years, the LPD has partnered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in “Operation Take-Back” in designating a specific date and location for residents to drop off their old, unwanted prescription drugs but now they can do it on a 24/7 basis, noted Det. Captain John Valente.

Drop-offs may be done anonymously and with no questions asked.

This new program is part of an initiative by the state Attorney General, in cooperation with the state Div. of Consumer Affairs, to put a dent in the diversion and abuse of prescription drugs, including highly addictive opiate painkillers.

Municipal police departments, county sheriff’s offices and State Police barracks across New Jersey are all opening their doors to these drop boxes.

“Project Medicine Drop is a natural addition to our commitment to help improve the public safety and quality of life in Lyndhurst,” township Public Safety Commissioner John Montillo Jr. said.

This initiative also aids the environment by keeping these drugs out of landfills and the water supply.

For more information about Project Medicine Drop, including a full list of drop-off locations, check out www. NJConsumerAffairs.gov/meddrop. Or to learn more about the LPD drop box, call 201- 939-2900, ext. 2740.

Tasty treats from Silver Lake Association


Want to prepare a special delicacy for an Easter holiday meal for the family?

How about a tasty desert?

Or even a dazzling beverage to top off your dinner?

Recipes for all of the above are available in “From Our Hearts to Your Homes,” a cookbook prepared by the Silver Lake Civic Association of Belleville which is marking its 21st anniversary this year.

“We’ve sold out the 50 we had to start with,” said Councilwoman Marie Strumolo Burke, president of the association, “so we’ve ordered another 50.”

The cookbooks are available for $10 apiece and proceeds from their sales go to the association for charitable endeavors in the community. The recipes were contributed by members of the association and others.

Readers will find more than 100 menu suggestions for Easter pies, pumpkin soup, macaroni dishes, salads, entrees and spirits.

To order the book, email Strumolo Burke at mariesburke@comcast.net with a request or call her at 973-759- 6849.

Here are a few samples from the text:

Chicken Rollatini 

(submitted by Mary Veniero) 


1 lb. chicken cutlets 

2 eggs beaten 

Flavored breadcrumbs 




Grated cheese 

2 chicken bouillon cubes 


Salt & pepper 


Dip cutlets in beaten eggs and then in flavored bread crumbs. Lay cutlets flat. Place a sprinkle of grated cheese on cutlets, then one slice of mozzarella and one thin slice of prosciutto, roll and hold together with toothpicks.

Fry in oil and 1/2 stick of butter, then set aside.

In sauce pan, saute one or two onions in a stick of butter until onions are soft, add fresh or canned mushrooms. Fry together for a few minutes. When ready, add one large package of frozen peas, and enough water to cover mixture (onions/mushrooms/peas), add 2 chicken boullion cubes and 1/2 cup of marsala wine and heat thoroughly.

Place chicken rolls in baking pan and pour onion mixture over chicken. Cover with foil tightly and bake in oven for 30 minutes at 350. Uncover tin foil and bake another 15 minutes.

Easter Sweet Pie

(from Rita Charles) 

Ingredients – Crust:

 3 cups flour 

1/2 cup sugar 

3 eggs 

3 tsp. baking powder

 1 tsp. vanilla 

1 stick margarine 


Mix all together and add some water to hold together. Set aside.

Ingredients – Filling:

3 lbs. pot cheese

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups sugar

1 can evaporated milk

1 stick margarine soft

6 eggs

1/2 cup flour

1 pkg. chocolate chips


Mix all ingredients in large bowl, except chocolate chips.

Roll out dough to pie plate (9 1/2 wide x 2 1/2 deep). Save some dough for strips on top.

Put mixture in pie plate and drop chocolate chips in and mix with knife to fall to bottom of mixture. Put strips on top.

Bake at 350 for about 2 hrs.

Cool out of oven.

around town


Belleville Elks Lodge 1123, 254 Washington Ave., holds its monthly breakfast Sunday, Feb 15, 9 a.m. to noon. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for children under age 10 and free for children under age 3. In case of inclement weather, the breakfast will be cancelled. Call the lodge at 973-759-9623 to check if the event is still on.


Bloomfield Public Library, 90 Broad St., announces the following programs:

  • Humanoid Cartooning class offers an opportunity to learn to draw human proportions Feb. 11, 4 to 6 p.m. Registration is required. To register, visit http://www.bplnj.org/programs/.
  • Elder law attorney Benjamin Eckman will discuss senior related issues Feb. 18 at 6:45 p.m. Eckman has lectured extensively on elder law, special needs and disability planning and estate planning. This seminar is free.
  • The Finance Book Club resumes Feb. 17 at 6 p.m. The club meets every Tuesday night, Feb. 17 to March 31, 6 to 7:30 p.m.

The library will be assisting the Junior League of Montclair-Newark in collecting toiletries for children in the foster care system through the Bloomfield Office of the Department of Child Protection and Permanency. Collection boxes will be available in both the children’s and adult buildings throughout February.

Donors are asked to contribute toothbrushes and toothpaste, lotions, soap, hair brushes, deodorants, feminine hygiene products, washcloths, blankets and reusable back packs or duffle bags that will be delivered to the Bloomfield DCP&P for distribution to the children they serve on an as need basis.

The library is open from Mondays to Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. During inclement weather, call the library at 973-566- 6200 to check on its status. The library will close Feb. 16 for President’s Day.

Seniors: Are you single and looking to mingle? Come and join other seniors to socialize, engage with peers and enjoy refreshments, music and raffle prizes at Job Haines Home, 250 Bloomfield Ave., Saturday, Feb. 14, 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

This event is free and open to the public. Registration starts at 2:15 p.m. R.S.V.P. by calling Donna Plotnick at 973-743-0792, ext. 133.

To learn more about Job Haines Home, visit: www.Job-Haines.org.


Harrison Lions Club announces a flapjack fundraiser breakfast Sunday, Feb. 22, 8 to 10 a.m., at Applebees, 175 Passaic Ave., Kearny. The Lions will serve pancakes for charity with the help of volunteers from Harrison High School. Tickets are available through a member or at the door. Adults’ tickets are $10. and kids under 10 will only be charged $7 for a plate of pancakes, sausages, and eggs cooked by the staff at Applebee’s. Proceeds will go towards helping the Harrison Lions Club to continue to do its charity work. For more information go to http://eclubhouse. org/sites/harrisonnj/index.php or email us at harrisonlionsclub@yahoo. com.


Presbyterian Boys and Girls Club, 663 Kearny Ave., hosts a Valentine’s dance Friday, Feb. 13, 7 to 10 p.m. The dance is open to teenagers only and will be supervised by PBGC Executive Director Tom Fraser and board members.

Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., announces free programs for children in February. Registration is not required unless otherwise noted. Here’s what’s available:

  • Children are invited to celebrate Valentine’s Day at the library Friday, Feb. 13, 4:15 to 5:30 p.m., by making valentines to take home and listening to Valentine’s Day stories. All ages are invited to participate.
  • Art classes will take place Thursday, Feb. 26. Preschool Art for ages 2 1/2 to 5 starts at 11 a.m. and ends at noon. School-age Art for ages 5 and older starts at 4:30 p.m. and ends between 5:30 and 6 p.m. The library provides the art materials. Space is limited and will be first-come, first-served,
  • Celebrate the Chinese New Year at the library Thursday, Feb. 19, at 6 p.m. This event includes a food demonstration with samples, an ancient music recital and a calligraphy demonstration. • Children can dress in their prince and princess finery for a special breakfast featuring a theme from the Disney film “Frozen” Saturday, Feb. 21, at 11 a.m. This special event features a “Frozen”-themed craft and a visit from some of the characters who appear in the film, with plenty of photo opportunities. Donuts and juice will be served. This event will be free, but space is limited. Call the library at 201-998- 2666 to reserve a spot.
  • Children ages 5 to 12 are invited to spend some time reading to Fosse, a registered therapy dog, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Each session will last 10 minutes and will only be open to a limited number of children. Call the library to reserve a spot.

Kearny High School’s Project Graduation sponsors a fundraising trip to Atlantic City’s Bally’s Casino Sunday, Feb. 22. A bus will depart Kearny Federal Savings, 614 Kearny Ave., at 9 a.m., with check-in at 8:45 a.m., and will return to Kearny by 8 p.m. The cost is $30, with $20 back in slot dollars. Coffee, tea, donuts and rolls will be served on the bus. For reservations, call Judy at 201-991-5812 or email jh519aol.com. Reservations can also be made with Vi Abello at the front hall of Kearny High, at Mid Realty at 572 Kearny Ave., or by sending payments to Kearny Project Graduation, P.O. Box 184, Kearny, N.J. Deadline is Feb. 17.

W.H.A.T., 65 Oakwood Ave. (in residence at the First Lutheran Church), holds auditions for “The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley Wednesday, Feb. 18, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 22, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Come with a 32 bar cut of a musical theater audition song that you feel best suits your voice and personality type. Also be prepared to learn a short dance cut and if you have tap experience, bring tap shoes. Acting sides will be provided. “The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley” will be presented April 17, 18, 24, 25. For additional information, visit www. whatco.org.


Knights of Columbus Council 2396 will hold a Tricky Tray Friday, Feb. 20, at the Senior Center, 250 Cleveland Ave. The $10 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.

Lyndhurst Police Emergency Squad holds its annual Tricky Tray fundraiser Feb. 19 at The Fiesta, 255 Rt. 17 S, Wood- Ridge. Doors open at 7 p.m. Drawing starts at 8 p.m. A variety of ticket packages are available at different prices. For more information, call 201- 804-2469, email trickytray@emergencysquad.com or visit lyndhurstnj.org.

The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission announces the following events:

  • Lucky Great Backyard Bird Count, co-sponsored by the Bergen County Audubon Society, is set for Friday, Feb. 13, 10 a.m. to noon, at DeKorte Park, Lyndhurst. Visitors will walk along the park’s trail system, counting waterfowl, raptors and any other birds they can find.
  • Third-Tuesday-of-the- Month Nature Walk, cosponsored by the Bergen County Audubon Society, is set for Feb. 17, 10 a.m. to noon, at Losen Slote Creek Park, Little Ferry. Admission is free. To register for these events, contact Don Torino of the BCAS at greatauk4gmail.com or call 201-230- 4983 or visit www.njmeadowlands. gov and click on “Events.” The Lyndhurst Library Children’s Room, 355 Valley Brook Ave., hosts the following February events: • Winter/Spring Storytime, for ages 3 to 4 1/2, is available for two sessions at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and will be offered every Thursday from Feb. 19 to May 14. Registration deadline is Feb. 13.
  • Children in grades 1 to 4 are invited to create a Valentine mobile and St. Valentine’s Day cards Thursday, Feb. 12, 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. Registration is required. Call ahead of time.

To register for programs, call the library at 201-804-2478.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3549, 527 Valley Brook Ave., hosts a karaoke party Friday, Feb. 20, at 7:30 p.m. The VFW hall is available for rental for all occasions. For more information, call 201- 939-3080.

Lyndhurst American Legion Post 139 Rehabilitation Committee holds a ward party for veterans at Chestnut Hill Extended Care Facility, Passaic, Tuesday, Feb.17, at 2:30 p.m. St. Michael’s Church and the Lyndhurst Food Pantry, chaired by Beth Bogdanowicz, donated items for the party. Post members play games of chance with hospitalized veterans and distribute treats to them. Anyone interested in sponsoring a ward party is invited to call John Deveney at 201-438-2255.

North Arlington 

North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Road, will screen “The Raw and The Cooked,” a documentary on Taiwanese cuisine, on Friday, Feb. 20, 11 a.m. to noon.

For more information on library programs, call 201-955- 5640 or visit northarlington.bccls.org.

North Arlington Elks, 129 Ridge Road, host a Fish Fry Ash Wednesday, Feb. 18, 4 to 7 p.m. Admission is $12. Dinner includes fish (fried or broiled) or fried shrimp, plus French fries, a bowl of clam chowder, a baked clam and coleslaw. Also available are shrimp cocktails, and clams on the half shell for $5 for a half and $8 for a full dozen.


Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive, offers the following programs: Registration is not required unless otherwise noted.

To register, call the library at 973-667- 0405.

  • Two-Year-Old Story Time is set for Fridays, Feb. 13, 29 and 27, at 9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Must be a Nutley resident. Registration is required.
  • Patrons are invited to play Bridge at the library every Tuesday at 1 p.m. • Preschool Story Time, open to ages 3 to 5, takes place Wednesdays, Feb. 11 and 25, at 9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Participants must be Nutley residents. Registration is required.
  • Wednesday Afternoon Knitters meets every week at 1 p.m.
  • Computer Class for teens is set for Wednesdays, Feb. 11 and 25, at 3:30 p.m.
  • Manga/Anime Club meets Thursdays, Feb. 12 and 26, at 3:15 p.m.
  • Movie Week for children and families takes place Feb. 17 to 19 at 2 p.m. The program includes crafts and refreshments.

Registration is not required unless otherwise noted. To register, call the library at 973-667- 0405.

Want to eat healthy? ShopRite can help


ShopRite of Lyndhurst, an Inserra Supermarkets store, is hosting a series of nutrition and wellness events for February led by Julie Harrington, in-store registered dietician.

The programs are free and are being held at the Lyndhurst store, 540 New York Ave., for local residents. All programs are open to the public and do not require advance registration unless otherwise noted.

Here’s the list:

Julie’s Walking Club meets Thursdays at 8 a.m. for a one-mile trek through the store, starting at the Dietician’s Corner. Membership cards and prizes are provided to all participants. Julie’s Produce Pick will have ShopRite’s dietician mixing the week’s produce pick into a delicious new dish on Tuesday, Feb. 10, from 1 to 3 p.m. Stop by for samples and recipe cards.

Sweets for Your Sweetie provides free samples and a recipe for a dark chocolate concoction that’s rich in antioxidants on Thursday, Feb. 12, to mark Valentine’s Day.

Breakfast with the RD allows guests to start the day with a heart-healthy breakfast with ShopRite’s dietician on Monday, Feb. 16, from 8:30 to 10 a.m.

ShopRite Cooking Class: Heart-Healthy Edition provides a new dinner recipe featuring heart-healthy ingredients on Thursday, Feb. 19, at 1 p.m. Because space is limited, pre-registration is required. Try Something New by heading to the Dietician’s Corner to sample new items now available in ShopRite on Friday, Feb. 20, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Get the Skinny on Fats by dropping by the Dietician’s Corner to get all of the facts on fats on Monday, Feb. 23, from 10 a.m. to noon.

ShopRite Cooking Class: Wonderful Whole Grains Edition explains how to prepare a whole grain dish featuring tasty grains on Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 5:30 p.m. Space is limited so pre-register.

High Fiber Friday gives visitors to the Dietician’s Corner a chance to learn about fiber’s important role in heart health and how to meet fiber requirements in a delicious way on Friday, Feb. 27, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

LiveRight with ShopRite Kids’ Day Cooking Class offers little chefs ages 6 and up a chance to create and try new health foods on Friday, Feb. 27, starting at 4 p.m. Pre-register for this event.

ShopRite’s retail dieticians can also serve as guest speakers/ instructors at wellness events hosted by local organizations. For more information or to pre-register for a program, call Harrington at 201- 419-9154 or email her at Julie. harrington@wakefern.com.

Smoky blaze shuts Skyway


By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent 


On Saturday afternoon, with temperatures well below freezing and the wind-chill well below that, the Kearny Fire Department responded to a blaze at a South Kearny truck-repair business. With flames apparently fueled by stored tires and motor oil, the fire grew to four alarms and, at its height, was being battled by 75-80 firefighters from seven municipalities.

During the blaze, a portion of the steel building “twisted and collapsed,” KFD Chief Steve Dyl reported. As a result, an emergency demolition of the structure was ordered, which the owners, Kephart Trucking, carried out on Sunday, Dyl said. The chief said the initial alarm came in at 1:53 p.m. and the fire was declared under control shortly before 5 p.m. However, KFD crews remained on the scene — on Second St. near Adams St. — into Sunday afternoon. Although the cause is undetermined, Dyl said the blaze appeared to have started in the Kephart building housing tractors and tires. Read more »