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Category: News

Tomko is new schools chief


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 


Richard Tomko came up unlucky in the race for state senate in the 24th district in 2013. As the Democratic nominee, he lost to GOP incumbent Steven Oroho by about a 2-1 margin.

But last Thursday, Tomko, 42, a product of Queen of Peace High School, North Arlington, emerged from a field of nearly 50 candidates as the pick for Belleville’s chief schools administrator.

At a special meeting, the Belleville Board of Education voted 5-1 to appoint Tomko to the post, starting Feb. 15, giving him a 3-year-plus contract running through June 30, 2018, at $167,500 a year, with an opportunity for annual merit increases of up to 14.99% after his first year of service.

The only dissenting vote came from Ralph Vellon, who was elected to the board this past November. (Board member John Rivera did not attend the meeting but later told The Observer he was caught up in work and couldn’t get away but added that he felt that Tomko was “one of the stronger candidates” and felt he was “fully qualified as superintendent.”) Read more »

PJs & reading: perfect together


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 


Some folks probably were scratching their heads after seeing adults and children toddle into East Newark Public School while dressed in PJs in the early evening hours Thursday, Jan. 22.

No, it wasn’t for a sleepover. And it didn’t signal the opening of the first-ever night school session.

Give up? It was “Pajamarama.”

But nobody was sleeping, a visitor from The Observer can assure you. Instead, there was a whole lot of reading going on. Parents, teachers and staff were reading aloud – some in Spanish and some in English – from age-appropriate books to students in their classes for 20 minutes. Read more »

Check how town’s plowing … from home

snow map_web

By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 


That big Nor’easter that was supposed to whack The Observer’s territory last week turned out to be a big bust for snow enthusiasts.

At the same time, those Kearny residents fretting about the perils of maneuvering around the mounds of white stuff were treated – for the first time – to an insider’s look at how quickly the streets were being cleared of the estimated 7.5 inches that fell in the area.

All they had to do was log onto the town website – kearnynj.org – and click on the “Snow Plow Map” icon.

From there, the viewer could choose any of three options to access a web map that graphically displayed color-coded route statuses of routes for plowing, brining and salting showing real-time positions of GPS-equipped vehicles on each route. Read more »

Welsh joins Brady, Brady & Reilly firm

James C. Welsh, supervising judge of compensation, has joined Brady, Brady and Reilly of Kearny as head of the Workers’ Compensation Department. Judge Welsh has more than 43 years of experience in handling workers’ compensation cases, with the last 22 years as the supervising judge in Hudson County.

He has received various awards from the Hudson County Bar Association including:

May 3, 2006 – For commitment to fair and legal treatment to petitioners and Respondents alike. Read more »

Adding up the benefits of calcium


Calcium, the most common mineral in the body, plays an essential role in blood clotting, muscle contraction, nerve impulse transmission, and bone and tooth formation.

Studies indicate that calcium plays a role in blood vessel contraction and dilation which affects blood pressure.

A constant level of calcium is maintained in body fluid and tissues so that these vital body processes function efficiently. More than 99% of body calcium is stored in the bones and teeth; the remaining 1% is found in blood, muscle, and the fluid between cells.

Calcium is lost from the body every day in urine and feces, and trace amounts are lost in sweat, shedding skin, hair, and nails. The lost calcium is normally replaced by calcium from food. If your diet does not contain enough calcium or if you don’t absorb enough calcium from your food or supplements to replace the lost calcium, the body breaks down bone to get the calcium it needs.

To absorb enough calcium, your body also needs vitamin D. Your skin can make vitamin D when it is exposed to direct sunlight. Other sources of vitamin D are fatty fish, eggs, liver, butter, fortified foods such as milk and multivitamins. People at risk for having too little vitamin D are elderly adults, those in institutions and some people with chronic neurological or gastrointestinal diseases. People living in northern latitudes may need supplements in the winter to maintain adequate vitamin D levels.

According to the Office of Dietary Supplements of the National Institutes of Health, the amount of calcium you need each day depends on your age:

Children ages 1 to 3 need 700 milligrams (mg) a day.

Children 4 to 8 need 1,000 mg a day.

Children 9 to 18 need 1,300 mg a day.

Adults ages 19 to 50 should get 1,000 mg a day.

Ages 50 to 70: Men should get 1,000 mg a day; women should get 1,200 mg a day. B

oth men and women older than 70 should get 1,200 mg a day.

The best way to get calcium is from food. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends a minimum of three cups of nonfat or low-fat vitamin D-fortified milk or equivalent milk products each day.

Many benefits 

A consistent level of calcium in the body’s fluids and tissues is needed for muscle contraction, blood vessel contraction and expansion, the secretion of hormones and enzymes, and transmission of messages through the nervous system. Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake throughout a person’s lifetime can help build and maintain proper bone mass, helping to prevent osteoporosis.

Calcium from dairy products in combination with a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy can help keep blood pressure in check and help prevent the absorption of dietary fat; this helps decrease blood cholesterol.

 Getting enough calcium 

To ensure you consume enough calcium each day, start with food and drink. Calcium in food is better absorbed by the body than calcium in a supplement. The additional compounds in dairy products act with calcium to promote its benefits. Strive to consume at least three calcium-rich foods daily such as low-fat or nonfat yogurt, 1% or skim milk, low-fat ice cream, calcium-fortified orange or grapefruit juice, low-fat cheese and lowfat cottage cheese.

Also, look for foods with added calcium such as rice and some breakfast cereals. Aged cheese and yogurt tend to be more easily digested by people who are lactose intolerant; eat them in small quantities along with other food. Foods made with active or “live” cultures, like yogurt or buttermilk, are also easier to digest because their “friendly” bacteria help digest lactose. Other options include lactosefree milk, lactose-free cottage cheese and nondairy sources of calcium, such as calcium-fortified soy milk, tofu, baked beans, almonds, broccoli, kale and other dark green leafy vegetables, and canned salmon and sardines with the bones. For canned fish, you need to eat the bones to get the calcium.

Vitamin D is necessary for your body to absorb the calcium you get from foods or supplements. You can get vitamin D from foods fortified with it or by spending five to 30 minutes in the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at least two times per week. Adults 19 to 50 need at least 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D a day; those 51 and older need 800 IU a day.

Sizing up your supplement

If you’re not consuming at least three calcium-rich foods per day, consider taking a calcium supplement. If you use a supplement, however, don’t depend on it to meet your calcium needs.

A good bet: Take a 500 mg calcium supplement each day and try to get the remaining 500 to 700 mg of calcium from food. In order to absorb the most calcium, you should take only 500 mg or less at one time.

Calcium supplements come in different forms, such as calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. Some have vitamin D added to them for extra benefit. Calcium carbonate is affordable and is also found in some antacid tablets. Because it relies on stomach acid for absorption, it is absorbed best when taken with food. Calcium citrate is absorbed the same with or without food and is good for people with low stomach acid.

Research indicates that calcium citrate is absorbed better than other supplements, such as calcium carbonate. But to enhance a calcium supplement’s absorption, take it with a citrus-based food, such as orange juice.

To learn more, stop in and see in-store Registered Dietitian Julie Harrington, R.D., at the ShopRite of Lyndhurst, 540 New York Ave., Lyndhurst, N.J. 07071. For information on health and wellness events, contact Julie at 201-419-9154 or Julie. harrington@ wakefern.com.

around town


Belleville Public Library and Information Center’s Children’s Room, 221 Washington Ave., announces the following activities for children:

  • A Hibernation Party kicks off at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 7. Children are invited to create a wintry craft and enjoy hot chocolate and other treats. Come in your pajamas and bring your favorite stuffed friend.
  • Pajama Storytime is set for Tuesday, Feb. 10, at 6 p.m. For more information, call 973-450-3434.

The Woman’s Club of Belleville meets the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at the clubhouse, 51 Rossmore Place. Prospective members are welcome. For more information, contact Terry Landon at 973-751- 6529.

Belleville High School music department presents its first annual winter coffee house, featuring performances by the school’s jazz band, acapella chorus and the Tri-M Honor Society on Tuesday, Feb. 10, in the school cafeteria, 100 Passaic Ave., at 7 p.m. Admission is $2 and includes one beverage. Baked goods and additional beverages will be sold during the performances. For more information, contact Anthony Gotto, director of bands, at 973-532-5012, ext. 1619, or via email at Anthony. gotto@bellevillek12.nj.us


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 issues facing seniors 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 group meets every Tuesday night, Feb. 17 to March 31, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
  • Midday Movies are screened every Monday and Thursday at 12:15 p.m. Here’s this month’s schedule: Feb. 5 – “The Giver,” Feb. 9 – “Love and Basketball,” Feb. 12 – “And So It Goes,” Feb. 16 – “Head of State,” Feb. 19 – “Flower Drum Song,” Feb. 23 – “The Man” and Feb. 26 – “The Hundred Foot Journey.”

The library also offers the following weekly programs for children: Toddler Time, open to ages 19 to 36 months, is held Tuesdays at 11 a.m., Pre-K Storytime and craft, open to ages 3 to 5, is offered Wednesdays at 11 a.m. and Baby and Me, open to ages 0 to 18 months, is available Thursdays at 11 a.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. Items being collected include toothbrushes and toothpaste, lotions, soap, hair brushes, deodorants, feminine hygiene products, washcloths, blankets and reusable back packs or duffle bags. They 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. The library will be closed Feb. 16 for President’s Day. During inclement weather, call the library at 973-566-6200 to check on its status.


Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., offers these free programs for children in February:

  • Preschool Play and Story Time, for ages up to 5 with adult participation, takes place Tuesdays, 11 a.m. to noon. Classes repeat Thursdays, 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. There will be no 11:45 a.m. classes Feb. 12 and 26.
  • At the Branch library, 759 Kearny Ave., Preschool Play and Story Time will be held Thursdays, 10:15 to 11 a.m. There is no class Feb. 12.
  • Children are invited to celebrate Valentine’s Day at the library Friday, Feb. 13, 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. Make Valentines to take home and listen to Valentine’s Day stories with your library friends. All ages are invited to participate.
  • The library will screen the following Academy Award-nominated films:– “Guardians of the Galaxy” (PG 13) on Friday, Feb. 13, at 1 p.m., “Grand Budapest Hotel” (R) (adults only) on Tuesday, Feb. 17, at 1 p.m., “Ida” (PG-13) on Thursday, Feb. 19, at 1 p.m., “The Boxtrolls” (PG) on Friday, Feb. 20, at 4 p.m. and “Big Hero 6” on Friday, Feb. 27, at 4 p.m.
  • Celebrate the Chinese New Year at the library on Thursday, Feb. 19, at 6 p.m. This event includes a food demonstration with samples, an ancient music recital and a calligraphy demonstration. Call the library at 201-998- 2666 or visit www.kearnylibrary.org for more program information.

The Woman’s Club of Arlington meets Tuesday, Feb. 10, at 1 p.m. at the Girl Scout House, 635 Kearny Ave. Participants are asked to bring the front of holiday and other greeting cards for delivery to St. Jude’s Children Hospital.

Kearny High School’s Project Graduation sponsors a 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 return to Kearny by 8 p.m. Cost is $30, and you’ll get $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 send email to jh519@aol.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. 07032. Deadline is Feb. 17.


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 and Bergen County Audubon Society are co-sponsoring a Lucky Great Backyard Bird Count Friday, Feb. 13, at 10 a.m., at DeKorte Park, Lyndhurst. Visitors will walk along the park’s trail system, counting waterfowl, raptors and any other birds they can find. To register, 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:

  • Bring your child for a walk-in story on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. Grades PreK to 2 are welcome. No registration is required.
  • 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. 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.

North Arlington

North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Road, announces the following programs for adults:

  • Sit and Stitch Knitting and Crocheting Group meets Tuesday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m.
  • Author Rose Marie Cappiello presents a demonstration of mediumship following a discussion of her new book “Speaking from Spirit” Monday, Feb. 9, at 6:30 p.m. Books will be available for purchase for $20. For more information on library programs, call 201- 955-5640 or visit northarlington.bccls.org.

North Arlington Elks, 129 Ridge Road, hosts 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 the price of $5 for a half and $8 for a full dozen.

Garden State Rollergirls (GSR) are looking for new skaters, referees and nonskating officials for the 2015 roller derby season.

GSR’s veteran coaches will teach you how to skate, stop, master the rules of roller derby and eventually join full-contact gameplay.

GSR’s “First Skate” program is held the first Saturday of every month. Next session is Feb. 7. Practice runs from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Inline Skating Club of America, 170 Schuyler Ave. There is a $10 fee. Bring your gear (loaner skates/gear will be available) and a positive attitude. To R.S.V.P. or for more information, email GSRrecruit@gmail.com.

Down it comes







Photo by Ron Leir
A demolition contractor took down the old Lynn Chevrolet showroom on Kearny Ave. last Friday as the first phase of making way for a new Walgreens in Kearny. As part of the site clearance, the
former Teddy’s bar and Irish Shop, along with two homes on Quincy Ave., are also being demolished.

Pardon us as we get a new look


We’re in the midst of giving TheObserver.com a brand new, fresh look — so please pardon us as we make adjustments. We should be done by the end of the day Monday or sometime tomorrow. Thanks for your patience.

Easing the way over


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent


State officials are still pondering what to do about the century-old DeJessa Bridge which links Lyndhurst and Nutley across the Passaic River but, in the meantime, Bergen County has done its part to try and relieve congestion there.

At the urging of Lyndhurst Mayor Robert Giangeruso, the county undertook – and has now completed – improvements to the Kingsland and Riverside Aves. intersection on the Lyndhurst side of the bridge.

The work, performed by JCC Contracting of Bloomfield, which, according to township engineer Brian Intindola, cost the county about $814,000, had several components:

Creating three separate eastbound lanes coming off the bridge into Lyndhurst dedicated to left turns onto Riverside, continuing straight onto Kingsland or turning right onto Riverside. Read more »

Last chance to sound off on dog park

By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent


The town is preparing to let the dogs out but first it wants the owners in.

For a public meeting, that is, on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 7:30 p.m., in the second floor Town Council chambers at Town Hall on the proposed Kearny dog park targeted for Riverbank Park.

Council President Carol Jean Doyle, who has been leading the charge for the enterprise, encouraged those interested in the project to come out to hear how the park would be laid out and to offer any tweaks on some of the amenities associated with it.

“Neglia Engineering (the town’s consulting engineers) has incorporated all the suggestions we’ve received to this point into a ‘final’ plan,” Doyle said. “It’s a preview before we put a shovel in the ground.” Read more »