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Category: News

New contract gives cops 3% pay hikes

BELLEVILLE – 

Belleville’s police force, from the rookie to the chief, is the beneficiaries of a new labor contract, approved by the Township Council Feb. 10.

An ordinance amending the township police salary guide via an annual pay increase of 3%, across the board for each rank, was adopted following a public hearing.

Police Chief Joseph Rotonda said he recommended that the governing body approve the revised pay scale, given that the department had gone without any increases during the last two years of the old contract with the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association.

Ninety-five members of the department are covered by the new agreement.

Belleville Police Det. Mark Johnson, president of the PBA local, said that the membership voted 36-0 to ratify the 3-year pact at a meeting held Jan. 6. “We’re extremely happy with the new contract,” he said.

The new agreement, which provides for no new benefits or concessions to the township, takes effect Jan. 1, 2015, and runs through Dec. 31, 2017.

Under that contract, a newly hired cop who had started off earning $33,823 while undergoing training will see that pay rise to $36,990 in 2015, $38,100 in 2016 and $39,243 in 2017.

Revised salary steps applicable to anyone hired after July 1, 2007 call for first-year cop’s pay to increase, over the life of the contract, from $44,686 to $47,409; second-year, from $52,391 to $55,582; third year, from $60,096 to $63,756; fourth year, from $67,803 to $71,932; fifth year, $75,508 to $80,106; and sixth year (top step), from $87,470 to $92,796.

Sergeant’s pay will rise over the life of the contract, from $100,564 to $106,688; lieutenant, from $115,648 to $122,690; captain, from $132,995 to $141,095; deputy chief, from $152,944 to $162,258; and chief, from $160,590 to $170,370.

While labor peace between the township and its bluecoats seems assured for the next three years, there remains the matter of diminishing ranks to deal with.

“We have eight or nine officers now in the Academy but we also have at least 20 of our members eligible to go out on retirement,” Johnson noted, and more and more veteran cops around the state have been inclined to leave because of mandated increasing costs of health insurance.

How Belleville officials plan to deal with that possibility remains to be seen. In 2013, the township did promote seven officers to sergeant but it’s likely that additional gaps in the ranks will, ultimately, have to be filled.

 – Ron Leir 

Learning good habits for proper nutrition

ShopRite NAHS_web

As part of its community wellness efforts, ShopRite of Lyndhurst, an Inserra Supermarkets store, recently hosted two events for North Arlington High School students. During their first visit, in-store registered dietitian Julie Harrington took them on a guided tour of the supermarket and gave a presentation on nutrition. The second event featured a hands-on cooking class and further discussions on the importance of healthy eating.

ShopRite of Lyndhurst regularly hosts wellness events for local schools and organizations. Harrington leads each of the programs, offering easy-toimplement health and nutrition advice for individuals of all ages.

around town

Bloomfield 

Bloomfield Public Library’s Book Club, 90 Broad St., has released its program schedule for March:

  • Book Club meets March 2, 6:45 to 7:45 p.m., in the library’s study room to discuss “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury. For more information or for help in locating a copy of the book, call the reference desk at 973-566- 6200, ext. 219 or 220. Admission is free and all are welcome.
  • Mid-day Movies presents: “Broadcast News” on March 2; “Boyhood” on March 5; “The Story of GI Joe” on March 9; “Maleficent” on March 12; “Network” on March 16; “Snowpiercer” on March 19; “Good Night and Good Luck” on March 23; “Begin Again” on March 26; and “The Insider” on March 30. All films begin at 12:15 p.m. Admission is free.
  • An adult craft program is set for the second Wednesday of each month beginning March 11 at 6 p.m. Materials needed: discarded books, magazines, newspapers, paper, scissors, various scissors, various beads, decoupage glue. If you have extra supplies, feel free to bring them for the other crafters.

Through March 14, the library is accepting donations of new or lightly used prom dresses which will be distributed to young women who might otherwise not be able to afford a prom gown. Dresses can be dropped off in the main library. All sizes and styles are welcome.

Belleville 

Belleville Public Library, 221 Washington Ave., holds Storytimes for toddlers and preschoolers every Wednesday at 11 a.m., beginning March 11. For more information, call the library at 973-450-3434.

East Newark 

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 emidura2@yahoo. com.

Harrison 

Holy Cross Church sponsors a trip to Las Vegas, April 29 to May 5. The group departs Newark Airport Wednesday, April 29, at 7:15 a.m., for a nonstop flight via United Airlines and returns Thursday, May 5, at 6:15 a.m. The group will be staying at Harrah’s Hotel and Casino. The $771 per-person cost covers air, hotel and taxes. A $250 per-person deposit is required to guarantee reservations. Call Gina at European Travel, 973-484-4023, or Joan at 973-481-2434.

Kearny 

The Kearny High School Athletic Hall of Fame Committee is seeking candidates for induction at a dinner to be held in November. Nominees must have graduated at least five years ago.

Teams to be inducted at a dinner to be held at the Lithuanian Catholic Community Center April 17 will include the 1977 boys soccer team, 1985 boys baseball team, 1980 girls relay team, 1986 boys lightweight crew team, 1980 girls basketball team and the 1968 football team.

For information on the team dinner or on nominating individuals, contact John Millar at 201-955-5051 or Zibbie Viscuso at 201-998-5961.

Lyndhurst 

A benefit dinner for Jennie Gossweiler-Renna, now in her fifth year with ovarian cancer, will be held March 28, 5 to 9 p.m., at the Amvets post hall, 323 New York Ave. The $45 admission includes dinner, dancing and support for a wonderful person. For tickets, more information, or to make a donation, call Melissa Alfano at 201-736-1584 or visit www.jenniebenefit.myevent.com.

Dress in the style of your favorite decade for “Dancing through the Decades” March 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lyndhurst firehouse, 299 Delafield Ave. Admission is $35. All proceeds go to the Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary. For tickets, call Cristy at 201-742-2411.

Adoniram Court No. 22, Order of the Amaranth, sponsors a winter auction Sunday, March 1, at the Masonic Temple, 321 Second Ave. Doors open at noon. A $5 donation is requested. For more information, call 201-955- 1555.

Lyndhurst Girls’ Association hosts a pancake breakfast on Sunday, March 22, 8 a.m. to noon, at the Senior Center, 250 Cleveland Ave. Proceeds go towards maintaining and operating Libbie Lindsay House, a meeting place for Girl Scouts and leaders in Lyndhurst. Admission is $5 and tickets may be purchased at the door.

Lyndhurst Public Library, 355 Valley Brook Ave., hosts the following children’s events this month:

  • Walk in Story Times, open to grades pre-k to 2, take place every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at 6:40 p.m. No registration is required.
  • In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday week, children in grades pre-k to 4, are invited to create their own Lorax Wednesday, March 4, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Registration is required. To register, call the library at 201-804-2478.

New Jersey Meadowlands Commission announces the following programs:

  • The Free First-Sunday-of-the- Month Nature Walk, held in conjunction with the Bergen County Audubon Society, is set for Sunday, March 1, 10 a.m. to noon. The location of this walk has been moved from Mill Creek Marsh, Secaucus to DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst. (directions are on meadowblog.net in the left-hand column). Participants are asked to sign a standard liability release good for NJMC/ BCAS events year round. To register, contact Don Torino of the BCAS at greatauk4@gmail. com or call 201-230-4983.
  • Owls Alive, presented by Flat Rock Brook Nature Center, is set for Sunday, March 8, 2 to 3 p.m. See some of these amazing nocturnal raptors and learn about these feathered ambassadors’ behavior, physiology, adaptations and natural history.

Admission is $8; $6 for Meadowlands Environment Committee members.

Pre-registration is recommended and appreciated. To register, go to www.njmeadowlands.gov and click on “Events.”

Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst sponsors a children’s Tricky Tray for grades pre-k to 5 Saturday, March 28, at the Senior Citizen’s building on Cleveland Ave. Admission is $5. Doors open at noon and the raffle begins at 1 p.m. Lunch items will be sold. No outside food is permitted. For tickets or more information, call Janet at 201- 935-1208.

North Arlington 

American Legion Alexander Stover Post 37, 222 River Road, meets Monday, March 2, at 8 p.m. All veterans are invited. The post is accepting transfers of members of the American Legion Post 1000 who are residents of North Arlington. For more information, call 201-214- 8253.

North Arlington Seniors Inc. (Tuesday Club) sponsors a trip to Sands Casino in Pennsylvania on March 5. The group leaves at 9 a.m. from Borough Hall. Non-members are welcome. For more information, call Rose Florio at 201-991-2423. Payment is appreciated before the trip. Speak slowly and clearly when leaving your telephone number.

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

  • Sit and Stitch Knitting and Crochet Group meets Tuesday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m.
  • Irish music performance with Clarence Ferrari begins at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 7.
  • A screening of the film “From Here to Eternity” is set for Monday, March 9, at 6 p.m.
  • A motorcycle jacket themed photography exhibit by Bobby Travieso is on display at the library until March 7. The exhibit includes photos of people of all walks of life wearing the photographer’s old leather jacket along with a brief statement about who the person is and how they came to put on the jacket. For more information, visit Travieso’s website www.hairyhand.net.

For more information, call the library at 201-955-5640.

North Arlington High School Crew announces its 2015 season kick-off party fundraiser on Saturday, March 7, at 7:30 p.m., at the Pourhouse, 584 Ridge Road. Cost is $40 per person and includes three hours of open bar, light food and music. Bring your family and friends (age 21 and over).

Nutley 

Shelter Love Events hosts a comedy night fundraiser March 14 at The Old Canal Inn, 2 E. Passaic Ave., with proceeds going to help purchase items needed by Happily Efur After, a not-for-profit, no-kill, all-volunteer cat rescue and adoption group. The event features a prize raffle, 50/50 raffle, and the comedic stylings of emcee Jeff Howard, Ken Perlstein, Joe Messina, Paul Goldenberg, Mike Celona and Steve Schwarz. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. Food orders and raffle ticket purchases will not be available once the show starts. Tickets are $25, which includes a $5 food voucher. Tickets purchased through Feb. 28 are discounted by $5. Tickets can be purchased at http://slecomedynight.brownpapertickets.com/.

Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive, announces the following programs:

  • Monday Night Book Club meets to discuss “Men We Reaped,” a memoir by Jesmyn Ward, March 2, at 7 p.m. Copies of the book and its discussion guide are available at the library. This event is free and open to the public.
  • Minecraft Club, open to ages 7 and up, meets Monday, March 2, at 3:30 p.m. Bring your own device.
  • P.J. Storytime, open to all ages, meets every Monday at 7 p.m.
  • Babygarten, open to ages 23 months and under, takes place Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Registration is required. This is open only to Nutley residents.
  • Patrons are invited to play bridge every Tuesday at 1 p.m.
  • Video Game Club for teens meets Tuesdays, March 3, 24 and 31, at 3:15 p.m.
  • Preschool Story Time, open to ages 3 to 5, takes place Wednesdays, at 9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Only Nutley residents may attend. Registration is required.
  • Wednesday Afternoon Knitters meets weekly at 1 p.m. Both beginning and experienced knitters are welcome. Bring your own supplies.

Registration for these programs is not required unless otherwise noted. To register for programs or for more information, call the library at 973-667-0405.

Abducted Delaware child could be in NJ, NYC

Top: Elinor Trotta; Bottom: Michael Trotta.

Top: Elinor Trotta; Bottom: Michael Trotta.

NEW CASTLE, Del. —

The New Castle County, Del., police seeks your help in locating a missing child.

Elinor Trotta, a 3-year-old, 60-pound girl with brown hair, was last seen wearing a purple coat, pink pants, and “Frozen” shoes.

The New Castle County Police Department is investigating a domestic-related incident that occurred in the community of School Side Apartments in New Castle, Del. At approximately 6:48 p.m., county police responded to the 800 Block of East Basin Road on a report of a domestic-related assault. The reporting person advised that her ex-boyfriend, 39-year-old Michael Trotta, came to her residence, assaulted her and took their 3-year-old daughter.

Police are currently looking for Mr. Trotta. He is a white man, 5’8” tall, approximately 160 pounds, balding/short haircut, scruffy beard and mustache last seen wearing all black clothing. The suspect fled the scene in a 1989 gray Mazda 626 bearing Delaware registration 247457 with his 3-year-old daughter.

Police believe the child is in imminent danger and that Mr. Trotta may have fled with her to the state of New Jersey, possibly heading to New York City.

Anyone with information is asked to call 9-1-1 immediately, the New Castle County Police Department at (302) 573-2800 or visit www.nccpd.com.

Nutley police: Did you witness Centre St. robbery?

A surveillance image of a man who is alleged to have robbed a Centre St. convenience store in Nutley.

A surveillance image of a man who is alleged to have robbed a Centre St. convenience store in Nutley.

NUTLEY —

Police are seeking the public’s help locating a man they say robbed a Centre St. convenience store over the weekend.

On Sunday, Feb. 22, at 8:30 a.m., a man entered the convenience store, placed his hand into his jacket pocket and demanded money from the store clerk, police said.

He stated: “I don’t wanna hurt you.”

Police said the clerk told them no weapon was displayed, and the suspect made no threats.

The suspect is described as a white man, 18 to 25 years old, 5’3″-5’5″ tall, thin, wearing a tan jacket with a gray hooded sweatshirt under it, a dark cap with some type of symbol on it, a face mask and blue jeans with brown boots.

Police said they followed footprints in the snow to Union Ave., but didn’t locate the suspect. They continue to investigate.

Police are actively following all leads and ask that anyone with information about the incident call detectives at 973-284-4940.

NAPD sees upswing in residential burglaries

napd-shield-transparentThe North Arlington Police Department wants to ensure residents are aware that there have been a series of residential burglaries in recent weeks that had similar characteristics and asks that all necessary precautions be taken to aid in preventing further incidents.

Five burglaries have taken place in apartment building/complex facilities in the last several months.

The suspects identify units that have unlocked doors and/or windows. They have focused on ground-floor apartments with air conditioning window units in which they’ve been able to push (or pull) the unit out of the window to gain entry, or have entered through unlocked windows.

All residents are asked to identify and correct any issues that may make their residence a potential target.

Anyone with any information, or assistance needs, can contact Det. Feola with the North Arlington P.D. at 201-991-4400, ext. 139.

As always, immediately contact the police to report suspicious activity.

NA’s Ryen Pezzolla a semi-finalist for ECRHA’s top award

Ryen Pezzolla

Ryen Pezzolla, center, whilst playing a hockey game for St. Peter’s Prep at Yankee Stadium last winter.

Ryen Pezzolla, of North Arlington, a graduate of St. Peter’s Prep and the grandson of Observer GM Robert Pezzolla, who is currently a student at Rutgers University, has been named a semi-finalist for the Eastern Collegiate Roller Hockey Association’s Division 1 Player of the Year. He faces competition from three other universities. The winner will be announced at the association’s annual awards banquet later this year. Click here to read the announcement.

Up and running

9-11_web

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

The Kearny Police Department’s enhanced 911 emergency communications system at its South Kearny Precinct that Super Storm Sandy wiped out two and a half years ago has finally been finally restored.

“Tuesday, Jan. 13, we went live,” said Police Sgt. John Manley, deputy coordinator for the Kearny Office of Emergency Management. “It’s been a long haul.”

As part of the recovery effort, the town ended up ordering several trailer units that it had installed inside the combined police/ fire facility to provide separate offices for firefighters and police and space for fire rigs.

Then the town had to shell out $240,000 just to replace the 911 system which took months to set up, with the vendor Carousel Industries of Bensalem, Pa., working with Verizon to get everything humming. Kearny has applied for reimbursement through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The last step was the KPD’s training superior officers in using the new system so that a rotating schedule of officers assigned to the precinct for 911 duty could be set up.

From the precinct, the officers can handle not just 911 calls – medical calls are routed from a 911 center at the Jersey City Medical Center and nonmedical calls from the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office in Jersey City – but also regular police calls.

For emergency situations, the system allows the officer handling the calls to link up with the appropriate outside law enforcement or local and/ or regional civilian agency to respond.

All 911 calls are logged and can be played back as needed. The system is also outfitted with TTY capability, a telecommunications device for the hearing impaired.

The system also is equipped with a video mapping capability that can help an officer trace the location of a caller, should that communication be interrupted or abruptly ended.

“We have 98 surveillance cameras positioned around South Kearny so that area, (which is largely industrial), can be monitored from our 911 center,” Manley said. “And because the town arranged to run fiber optic cable through the area, we’ll be getting a better picture quality.”

With the trailer units situated three feet above ground level, the hope is that elevation will protect officers and the electronic gear against an incursion of flood water. And KPD has backup phone lines for its 911 and regular police communications, both in South Kearny and uptown at KPD headquarters on Laurel Ave.

However, if another monster storm hits the area and the precinct is inundated again, there is a fail-safe system in place, Manley said.

Part of the 911 system features new technology – a portable unit designed so that it can be disconnected from its precinct-based housing and re-attached to a laptop computer for operation on a mobile basis and continue to provide a 911 capability.

“So if we get another surge from the (Passaic) river that’s going to flood us out of South Kearny, we will pull out the portable unit and our vehicles – as well as the Fire Department rigs – to redeploy uptown,” Manley said.

Other safeguards being taken by the town in case of heavy flooding include readying the installation of backup and/or new generators at various pumping stations and other critical local facilities, he said.

For example, Manley said, the town will be arranging for the placement of a backup generator at Schuyler Elementary School in the event that the school is put into service as an emergency shelter. Neglia Engineering, the town’s consulting engineers, is drafting specifications for that project, he added.

Does girls crew row vs. bias?

Crew_web

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

A Kearny parent has filed a federal civil rights complaint against the Board of Education.

The complaint, filed in December 2014 by Paula Cavalier, alleges that the high school has violated Title 9 of federal education law which forbids discrimination on the basis of sex in federally-supported education programs.

Cavalier’s complaint alleges that the high school is favoring the boys crew over the girls crew team by denying the girls the chance to participate in regionally competitive races in which the boys crew participates.

And, the complaint says, the school discriminates against the girls crew by giving the male crew priority access to equipment.

Kenneth Lindenfelser, attorney for the school board, said that, “there was a complaint filed by a parent alleging Title 9 violations” and that the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Office of Civil Rights “has asked for information that we are in the process of gathering and which we will be providing.”

Lindenfelser said the feds wanted the materials “by Feb. 18” but because the scope of the information sought involves all interscholastic sports activities in which Kearny High participates, collecting all the information – items including each program’s “budget, number of participants, age of uniforms and type of equipment” – collection of the data has become “tedious to assemble.”

For that reason, he said, he is asking the feds if the district can limit its research to crew but, if not, “we’ll probably ask for an extension.”

The district, the attorney said, “is confident we’re in compliance, but we’re going to cooperate with them and if they find that some type of adjustment is needed, we’ll make it.”

He declined to elaborate. In her complaint, Cavalier attached a spread sheet detailing the boys and girls crew competitions for 2014. From an analysis of those events, Cavalier drew this conclusion:

“The boys raced against 151 more teams than the girls, mainly because they raced on Sunday, when the most competitive races occur. These are the races most likely to draw college recruiters, so that girls who cannot race on Sundays have reduced access to scholarships, as compared with boys. This is mostly due to the fact that the girls’ crew coach declines to work on Sundays, for religious reasons. The majority of competitive rowing on the east coast occurs on Sundays. … Under Title 9, the school district is required to afford equal opportunities to female athletes. Because the Kearny school district could easily find a solution to this inequality, I have contacted the Office of Civil Rights ….”

Ironically, according to logs obtained by Cavalier, more girls participated in crew than boys last year. “For 2014, 40 girls signed up, as compared with 36 boys,” she told The Observer.

Under the projected schedule for 2015 competitions, Cavalier said, “The boys will be racing 296 more teams than the girls, which is worse than last year’s inequality of 151 more teams.”

And getting less exposure than the boys crew in bigger competitive races “attended by regional, Ivy League college recruiters” means that girls’ chances of landing athletic scholarships are negatively impacted, she said.

Although her daughter is a member of the girls crew team, Cavalier said that she filed the discrimination complaint as an advocate for the entire girls crew team, and not just as her daughter.

“I hope she realizes that sometimes, you have to do what you might be afraid to do for the bigger picture, to right a wrong,” she said.

Last year, Cavalier said, it was embarrassing for the girls crew members when “our immediate regional competition, like the girls teams from Nutley, Belleville, Rutherford, for example, were at the Sunday Philadelphia Rowing Association races, and Kearny was not represented.”

Possible solutions, Cavalier suggested, include allowing assistant crew coaches for boys and girls to “work out a schedule so that both teams can attend the same competitions,” merging the boys and girls crew “so that they can compete in the same races as a unit” or replacing the girls’ crew coach.

Back in 1983 when Cavalier was a student at Kearny High and an avid cyclist, she asked if she could go out for crew, only to be told there were no girls permitted “because they had no separate showers or bathrooms.”

Three years later, she recalled, a girls crew team materialized.

“Today, ironically, more than 30 years later, we’re still running into a situation of inequality for girls,” she said.

Last year, Cavalier revived her high school dream by taking lessons with the Passaic River Rowing Association and has relished the experience. “When you’re a crew and rowing as one unit, it all clicks together. Together, you become one quiet, beautiful machine.”

How to ward off the cold

With predictions of continued frigid weather, including wind gusts of up to 40 mph and wind chills of -15 to -20 degrees, across The Observer’s coverage area, here are some tips from the Essex County Office of Emergency Management.

* Clothing: Dress in layers. Cover exposed skin, and wear a hat and gloves.

* Stay dry: Moisture, even sweat, increases heat loss. * Stay hydrated: Increased hydration means increased blood flow and less chance of frostbite.

* Frostbite: Signs of frostbite include white, gray, numb, or waxy skin. Victims are often unaware of frostbite until someone else notices it. Frostbite victims should be brought indoors and gently warmed with body heat or warm water. Never use a heating pad, oven or other source of extreme heat, as numb skin will burn easily.

* Hypothermia: Persons with a low body temperature will exhibit slurred speech, drowsiness, low energy, or shaking of the hands. Hypothermia victims should be brought to a warm indoor location as quickly as possible and have their body warmed as quickly as possible. Body temperatures below 95 degrees require immediate medical attention.

And from The Observer: During extreme weather, you might also consider checking up on your neighbors, particularly senior citizens. Do they need any help? Do they have heat and hot water? If they are unable to leave home, offer to run errands, such as food shopping.