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Concern over falling ice: NPD

Nutley public school officials are following up an incident involving ice falling from schools in the wake of an incident at the John Walker Middle School on Feb. 21.

Police responded to the Franklin Ave. school on a report of a section of ice blocking the sidewalk. Upon arrival, police observed a large piece of ice that had rolled off the school’s roof and damaged part of the retaining wall in front of the school.

Police said a Board of Education employee was dispatched to remove the ice from the walkway.

No individuals were hurt and no parked vehicles were hit by the ice, police said.

School board President Charles Kucinski told The Observer last week that he had been made aware of the incident and that he has asked the board’s maintenance crew to check on the conditions at all of the district’s schools.

Kucinski said there’s likely going to be more such reports, given that the cold weather is continuing “and there’s quite a lot of snow packed on our schools’ roofs.”

“Most of our roofs are flat,” he said, “but the Walker School and our high school have sloped roofs and Walker has the dome,” so those two schools will get more focused attention.

Asked if any type of shelf construction could be affixed to those roofs to prevent ice slippage, Kucsinki said that possibility could be explored. “We expect to have more information by Monday,” he added.

Another school-related episode occurred Feb. 22 when police responded to a report of a burglary to two school buses parked at Monsignor DiLuca Plaza.

A driver told police that an unknown person entered one bus, removed the fire extinguisher and left the roof escape hatch open, allowing snow to accumulate in the interior.

Then, the driver said, someone entered another school bus and sprayed the inside with the fire extinguisher taken from the first bus.

Detectives are investigating.

• • •

Between Feb. 21 and 27, Nutley PD responded to 10 suspicious incidents, 26 motor vehicle accidents, 10 disputes, 37 medical calls and these incidents: Feb. 21  A motor vehicle stop on Passaic Ave. resulted in the arrest of Erica Smith, 31, of South Orange, on charges of DWI, driving while suspended and failure to signal turn.

• • •

A Brookline Ave. resident reported the theft of a package that was ordered and shown to be delivered to the residence but never received.

• • •

A patron got away with shoplifted items from a Harrison St. business, police said. The store manager told police that after hearing a commotion in the deodorant aisle, he went to check and found a man kneeling on the floor rummaging through a backpack, secured on his chest. The man then left the store. Police said the store’s surveillance footage showed the man grabbing several deodorants and other items and stuffing them into his backpack. Police described the suspect as Latino with a heavy accent, 5-feet-5 to 5-feet-9, wearing black pants, a black vest, a beige turtleneck sweater, black watch cap and carrying a black backpack with a red object on its side

• • •

A snow plow operator working on Quarry St. told police someone reportedly twice shot BB pellets at them. On the first pass, the plow was hit on the passenger side of the truck and, on the second pass, the driver’s window was struck, the driver said. Police said they noticed a small circular mark on the passenger front door. Detectives are investigating.

Feb. 22 

Police pulled over the driver of a vehicle whose plate and description matched that of a vehicle that was reported to have left the scene of an accident in Clifton as the vehicle was traveling erratically on River Road. David Camero, 23, of East Orange, was arrested and charged with DWI and was ticketed for failure to notify DMV of change of address. He was released with a mandatory court date.

• • •

Cheryl Niemira, 46, of Nutley, was arrested following an accident on Harrison St. Police issued Niemira a summons charging her with DWI and released her to a family member pending a mandatory court date.

Feb. 23 

Police responded to a call about a vehicle that had crashed into a snow bank on the Rt. 21 exit ramp to Nutley. The vehicle’s occupants told police that the driver lost control of the vehicle on the ice as he was turning onto the exit ramp but police said they saw no ice in that area. One of the car’s occupants, Jaquan Ruffin, 24, of Hoboken, was arrested after police said they learned he had an active warrant from Jersey City. He was released with a mandatory court date and taken to the bus station.

• • •

A River Road resident reported that upon returning to their apartment, they found the front door and dead bolt unlocked. Police said there were no signs of forced entry but the tenant told them that two packs of cigarettes and a piece of jewelry were missing from the apartment.

Feb. 24 

Police responded to a Centre St. location where residents had reported a male running through yards. Police found Timothy Moran 27, of Belleville, who reportedly had cheated a cabbie out of his fare. Police said Moran was wanted on warrants from Garwood and Roseland. He was arrested on the warrants and on a charge of theft of services. After posting bail on the Nutley charge, Moran was turned over to Garwood PD.

Feb. 25 

Police issued summonses to property owners on Darling and Union Aves. and Harrison St. on the charge of failing to clear their sidwalks of snow in the allotted 36-hour time frame.

• • •

A township resident told police that while stopped in traffic on Park Ave. near River Road, an Hispanic man driving a black GMC Suburban rolled down his window and punched and shattered their vehicle’s passenger side rear view mirror, causing $200 in damage. The driver then sped away, north on Rt. 21. The resident characterized the action as a road rage matter.

Feb. 27 

Responding to a call about a “suspicious” individual on Franklin Ave., police found Pedro Rivera, 35, of Newark, who reportedly gave them two fictitious names and then gave officers consent to search his backpack. Inside, police said they found six syringes, two Similac infant formulas, one Enfamil infant formula, a screwdriver, a scissors and eight empty suspected heroin folds. Rivera was charged with providing police a false name and possession of drug paraphernalia. At HQ , after Rivera provided an accurate date of birth and social security number, police said they learned that he had two active warrants from Belleville and one apiece from Bloomfield, Newark and Clifton and that he had allegedly shoplifted the baby formula from a CVS in Clifton. Rivera was then additionally charged with hindering apprehension and turned over to Clifton PD.

– Ron Leir 

Dr. Mark Schachman joins Smile Center

Dr. Blair Schachtel of The Smile and Implant Center welcomes Dr. Mark Schachman to his practice in Kearny. Dr. Schachman is a board certified endodontist and has joined the dental practice as part of the Center’s team of specialists. The Smile and Implant Center is a unique practice which offers not only general and cosmetic dentistry but also all dental specialties in one location (periodontics, pedodontics, oral surgery, and endodontics) and a dental anesthesiologist offering IV sedation and general anesthesia for pediatric and dental phobic patients.

Dr. Schachman received his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Dental School, in 1987. He practiced general and restorative dentistry for two years followed by an additional two-year post graduate residency in endodontics from New York University College of Dentistry. He has had a practice limited to endodontics in New Jersey since 1993. Dr. Schachman is a diplomat of the American Board of Endodontics and former district director of the American Association of Enzootics. He is a clinical attending in endodontics at both Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Morristown Medical Center where he gives lectures, presentations and clinical instruction on various topics of endodontic therapy.

For more information on Dr. Schachman or any of the services offered by The Smile and Implant Center, call 201-991-1055 or visit www.TheSmileandImplantCenter.com and www.Sedation.NJ.

Early, late and Saturday appointments are available for your convenience.

around town


Belleville Public Library, 221 Washington Ave., holds Storytimes for toddlers and preschoolers every Wednesday at 11 a.m., beginning March 11. There is also a special St. Patrick’s Day program set for Saturday, March 14, at 2 p.m. For more information, call the library at 973-450-3434.

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

Belleville Elks Lodge 1123, 254 Washington Ave., announces the following:

  • A corned beef and cabbage dinner will be held on Saturday, March 14, from 5 to 8 p.m. Admission is $15 and $10 for children under age 12.
  • The monthly breakfast is set for Sunday, March 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’s Book Club, 90 Broad St., has released its program schedule for March:

  • An adult craft program is held 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.
  • Actress Maggie Worsdale portays Martha Washington March 14 at 2 p.m. 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 may be dropped off in the main library. All sizes and styles are welcome.


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 stay 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.

Harrison Recreation Department announces Little League, Minor League and Tee-Ball registrations will be held at the Community Center, 401 Warren St., through March 20. All children who are age 5 and will not turn age 13 before May 1 are eligible to register. Children must be age 9 or older to be placed on a Little League team. All returning Little League players must also register at this time. A registration fee is required when the child picks up his or her uniform. For more information, contact the Recreation Department at 973-268-2469.


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.

Kearny UNICO meets Wednesday, March 4, at 7 p.m. To arrange to attend, contact Chapter President Lou Pandolfi at 201-368-2409. Kearny UNICO is a member chapter of UNICO National, the largest Italian American service organization in the U.S.

St. Stephen’s Church, 141 Washington Ave., is selling tickets for a raffle set for Friday, March 20. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15. For tickets email cyndie1522@verizon. net or call St. Stephen’s rectory at 201-998-3314.

Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., announces the following programs:

  • A new series of Lego Robotics Workshops, for children in grades 2 and up, will meet for four weeks on Wednesdays from 4 to 5 p.m., beginning on March 11 on the lower level of the Main Library.

Class size is limited and registration is required. While the library is contributing most of the funding needed, there will be a $10 registration fee per child for the four-week session. Registration is currently open online by following this link: http://www.blockscool.com/class-locations/ kearny-public-librarykearny- nj.

Make sure you apply coupon code ‘kpl0315’ at the check-out screen to get a special discounted rate. Call the library or stop in if you have any issues with the registration system. Register soon to save your spot!

  • A free screening of the blockbuster sequel Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (PG-13 / 123 minutes) is set for 3:30 p.m. on Friday, March 13 on the lower level of the Main Library. For more information on any of our many programs, call the library at 201-998-2666 or visit our website at www.kearnylibrary.org.


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.

Lyndhurst Girls’ Association hosts a pancake breakfast 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.

New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (now part of the N.J. Sports & Exposition Authority) announces “Owls Alive,” presented by Flat Rock Brook Nature Center, is set for Sunday, March 8, 2 to 3 p.m., at the Meadowlands Environment Center, 2 DeKorte Park. 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 Citizens 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.

The Lyndhurst Health Department holds its bi-annual Women’s Health Clinic on Wednesday, April 1, at 9 a.m. This free event, made possible through a partnership with Clara Maass Medical Center, includes education on breast self-examination, a PAP test and a pelvic exam. The Lyndhurst Women’s Health Clinic is open to all female Lyndhurst residents age 18 and over. Call 201-804-2500 for an appointment.

Sacred Heart School, 620 Valley Brook Ave., hosts a spring auction Tricky Tray Friday, March 13. Proceeds benefit the Sacred Heart School Margaret Engle Endowment Trust. Tickets are $10 and nonrefundable. Deadline to purchase is March 4. No one under 18 will be admitted and no alcoholic beverages are permitted. For tickets, call Patty at 201-803-9580 or the school at 201-939-4277.

Lyndhurst Public Library, 355 Valley Brook Ave., hosts a St. Patrick’s Day craft program, open to grades 1 to 4, Monday, March 16, 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. Registration is required for both. To register, call the library at 201-804-2478.

The library offers a museum pass for World of Wings Butterfly Museum and Children’s Play Land. The pass can be used for free general admission for up to four people (two adults and two children or one adult and three children). The pass is available in the library’s children’s room to patrons with a valid Lyndhurst Library card. For more information, call the library at 201-804-2478, ext. 7, or email romeo@lyndhurst.bccls.org.

North Arlington 

Hayden’s Heart third annual 5K run/walk is set for Saturday, March 7, at Riverside County Park South. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the 5K run/walk starts at 11 a.m. Entry fee is $35. Hayden’s Heart raises awareness for congenital heart disease and helps families struggling with CHD in their time of need. To register in advance, visit haydensheart.org.

North Arlington Elks Lodge 1992, 129 Ridge Road, hosts a St. Patrick’s Day corned beef and cabbage dinner on Tuesday, March 17, from 4 to 7 p.m. Cost is $12 for a dinner and $8 for a sandwich. Eat-in or to-go orders will be available.

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

  • 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 through 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.
  • Sit and Stitch Knitting  and Crochet group meets Tuesday, March 10, at 7 p.m.
  • Basics of Computing Class meets Mondays, March 16, 23, 30 and April 6, at 6 p.m. each day. For more information, call the library at 201-955-5640.

North Arlington High School Crew announces its 2015 season kick-off party fundraiser Saturday, March 7, at 7:30 p.m., at the Pourhouse, 584 Ridge Road. The $40 admission includes three hours of open bar, light food and music. Bring your family and friends (age 21 and over). North Arlington Senior Activity Center, 11 York Road, hosts a St. Patrick’s Day celebration Friday, March 13, starting at 8:30 a.m. with a continental breakfast, followed by bingo at 10 a.m., lunch at noon and dancing at 1 p.m. For more information and reservations, call 201-998-5636.


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 can be purchased at http://slecomedynight.brownpapertickets.com.

Nutley’s Ferinde, QP’s Velez bring home Region 4 wrestling gold

By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer 

A year ago, Joe Ferinde had to face the reality that he lost in the NJSIAA Region 4 wrestling finals.

At the same time, Jeff Velez was at another venue altogether, winning the Region 3 championship.

Last Saturday, Ferinde, the Nutley senior, and Velez, the Queen of Peace senior, were crowned as Region 4 champs at West Orange High School.

Ferinde, the top seed in the 126-pound class, defeated Kareem Askew of Clifton, 8-4, to earn his first Region championship. Ferinde also defeated former teammate Anthony DeLorenzo, now wrestling for Queen of Peace, 3-1, in the semifinals.

“I was the runner-up last year, so I really wanted to win this year,” said Ferinde, who improved to a stellar 35-2 after winning three matches in the Region 4 tourney. “Going into the tournament, I knew I was in one of the toughest weight classes. I knew I was going to have to battle.”

Velez, who won the Region 3 title last year wrestling for Brearley Regional, transferred to Queen of Peace this year to be with coach Scot Weaver.

Weaver formerly coached at Brearley, but decided to come back and restore the QP program that he initiated several years ago.

“Coach Weaver has helped me so much,” said Velez, who defeated Mauro Altamura of Hasbrouck Heights, 6-2, to claim the 195-pound championship. “I don’t know what I would do without him. I’m just blessed to have him as a coach.”

Velez spoke of the difficulty of leaving Brearley for QP in his senior year.

“It was very tough, leaving all my best friends behind and coming to a new school,” Velez said. “But it was the best decision for me down the road. It’s going to help me get back to Atlantic City.”

Both Ferinde and Velez are now headed to the NJSIAA state championships this weekend, along with the others who finished either second or third in their respective regions.

For Ferinde, it will be his third sojourn down the Garden State Parkway to compete with the state’s best grapplers. He qualified as a sophomore two years ago, but last year, he won three matches in Boardwalk Hall to finish eighth overall in the state at the same weight class (126).

Needless to say, Ferinde is pumped to get another chance at winning the elusive state championship.

“I feel better than I have all year,” Ferinde said. “Both mentally and physically, I feel great. It’s the end of the year for me and that’s when I really shine. I start getting better and better. That’s when I usually shine.”

Ferinde knows that winning a Region gold medal gives him a first-round bye Friday night in Boardwalk Hall.

“But I can’t look at it any differently,” Ferinde said. “I can’t be too relaxed. I have to be sharp, both physically and mentally. The goal all year was to get back to the podium in Atlantic City. I wanted to do better than I did last year. That’s my main goal, to keep getting better than I was the previous year. I’m really comfortable wrestling in Atlantic City. The atmosphere is amazing. I’m just going to let it fly.”

Ferinde hopes that a good performance this weekend could lead to a college offer. Right now, Ferinde is totally undecided about college. A few wins with the entire state watching might force a college coach to take notice.

Velez said that winning Region 4 was nothing different than winning Region 3, except for the competition being a little tougher.

“I had the same spirit and the same goals,” Velez said. “I just want to win every period, win every match and win the tournament. It really didn’t matter to me what Region I was in. I knew what I had to do. My weight class was pretty tough. Altamura gave me a tough match. I just had to go out there, wrestle and do my thing.”

Unlike Ferinde, Velez has some schools already chomping at the bit, namely Rider and Newberry, both with excellent wrestling programs.

“I have a couple of others, but I want to see what happens this weekend,” Velez said. “Going down there, I’m still going to be a little nervous. But I’m going to be me. I’m going to do what I have to do to win. I’m not going to be as nervous as I was last year. I’m just going to do my thing and make my mark.”

Velez was asked if he was totally healthy for the state tournament.

“I feel very strong right now and I feel good about the way I’ve been wrestling,” Velez said. “I keep getting better each and every week. I’m really excited for this week. I’ve been preparing myself all year for this weekend. I’m going to let it all go on the mat.”

Ferinde and Velez might have been the area’s only champions, but they are not the only local wrestlers to be headed to Atlantic City.

Nutley, led by Region 4 Coach of the Year Frank DiPiano, will have two wrestlers competing this weekend in Ferinde and Darwin Pena, who lost in the finals at 145 pounds.

Queen of Peace, headed by the aforementioned Weaver (a Lyndhurst native), will have four wrestlers on the mats in Atlantic City.

Besides Velez, the Golden Griffins will be represented by Mike Scaravelli, who lost in the finals at 132 pounds by a tough 6-4 decision to Matthew Rose of Hasbrouck Heights/ Wood-Ridge.

The Golden Griffins also have Ray Wetzel, the third place finisher at 120 pounds, and Joe Rocca, who was third at 152 pounds. The Golden Griffins just missed having another state qualifier, when Garrett Beam dropped his consolation round match at 138 pounds.

Three other locals just missed going to Atlantic City. Nutley’s Andrew Aiello lost in the consolation final at 160 pounds. Lyndhurst/North Arlington’s Devin Yunis lost in the semifinals at 120 pounds and Belleville’s Jordan Greene suffered a tough loss in the semifinals at 160.

So the local title hopes rest on the shoulders of Ferinde and Velez, two very capable wrestlers and two Region 4 champions.

For Harrison bowling coach Cucci, labor of love pays off


For more than 20 years, Joe Cucci has taken the Harrison High School bowling team to local lanes in the area and watched the Blue Tide generally come up on the short end of the bowling sheet.

Just two years ago, the Blue Tide won all of four varsity matches.

But last year, Cucci began to see the fruits of his dedication pay off a little.

“We were 12-8 last year,” Cucci said. “That was our second winning season. I’ve watched them develop over the years. They’re such a great group of kids. They’re wonderful to be around.”

Cucci usually gets kids to come out for the Blue Tide who have very little bowling experience, so patience is definitely a virtue.

“But I’ve watched these kids grow up, not just as bowlers, but as people,” Cucci said. “They would get together all the time before the season to bowl together. I knew that this year would be a different year.”

Senior leader Joe Ussery also saw the change in the Blue Tide this season.

“Everyone generally has a good time together,” Ussery said. “We really have a lot of fun. I think that helps with our progression.”

Cucci speaks highly of Ussery.

“He’s very friendly with everyone,” Cucci said. “All the other coaches in the school love him and the other bowlers look up to him and respect him. He’s a wonderful kid to be around.”

Ussery is also the top bowler on the team, with an average around 175 per game.

“I tried to see if I could get that average up a bit this year,” Ussery said. “That was my goal.”

Ussery reached his goal, improving by almost 10 pins per game.

Cucci started to see the progress of the Blue Tide early on this season.

“All of our kids started to bowl well,” Cucci said. “If one (bowler) was off, then another came along to pick the other one up. But they were consistently bowling above their averages.”

The camaraderie of the Blue Tide paid off this season, as they amazingly posted an 18-2 record, which was good enough to capture the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference-Patriot Division title.

It was the first time in Cucci’s 20-year coaching career that the Blue Tide captured a divisional title. The Blue Tide also finished fifth in the recent NJSIAA North Jersey 1A Sectionals that was won by Lyndhurst en route to the overall state championship.

The Blue Tide clinched their divisional crown recently with a solid win over Queen of Peace.

“It was a very emotional day,” Cucci said. “It was emotional especially since they’re such a great group of kids who are respected not only as bowlers, but as people.”

That is a point that Cucci wanted to drive home, the way that his team was adored and loved as young men and women, even after they leave the lanes.

Senior Felipe Henriques has also been a solid bowler for the Blue Tide for the past four seasons.

“He’s a lively kid with a good sense of humor,” Cucci said of Henriques, who owns a 160 average. “He’s a little off beat.” Junior Sam Mota, who has a 165 average, is more of a silent assassin. “He’s very quiet, but he’s very consistent with his game,” Cucci said. “He’s never too up or too down. I like his consistency.”

Junior Josh Kelly is another with an average of 165. Kelly and Mota will be asked to continue the winning ways next winter.

Senior Ken Lee graduates this year, but was a solid contributor, especially when Cucci had to bowl five starters instead of the conventional four.

“He might have gotten lost in the shuffle a little, but he was there with us,” Cucci said.

Ussery thought that this could be the year that he and his teammates gave Cucci a championship.

“I was hoping for it,” Ussery said. “I thought that maybe it could really happen this year. But to see us pull this off meant the world to me. My coach finally gets his first conference championship after all these years. I’m so proud of my teammates. I’m proud of everyone.”

Ussery is headed to Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida in the fall. Full Sail is a school that focuses on the world of entertainment and media, the behind the scenes electronic work in movies, television, sports, video games and web and technology. Ussery is going to study audio engineering in the recording arts program.

“I think the key to our team was consistency,” Ussery said. “We knew that if we put the ball in the same spot, the ball would roll into the pocket and the pins would go down. I know it sounds simple, but that was the goal. We went from four wins two years ago to winning the conference title. How awesome is that? We got 18 wins in my last year. It’s phenomenal.”

And the dedicated coach can now say he coached a champion. It borders on the unthinkable, considering the Blue Tide’s past.

“We just hope that they can continue to develop,” Cucci said. “Our JV (junior varsity) team was undefeated, so there’s a lot of promise. I just hope we can represent Harrison well again next year.”

Win or lose, Cucci’s teams always represent the town and the school well, so when a championship is involved, it makes everything so much sweeter.

QP’s Joseph reaches 1,000-point plateau


By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer 

Jeremy Joseph didn’t know how many points he needed to reach the milestone 1,000-point plateau in his career, a total that had been achieved by only 11 other boys’ basketball players at Queen of Peace High School.

But the talented 6-foot-3 junior forward knew he was getting close.

“I figured I was like 50 something away,” Joseph said. “My family kept bringing it up. I was actually mad at them for saying something, because I didn’t want to know. I never talked about it once.”

But when Joseph’s family mentioned the 1,000-point club, it was in his brain.

“Every game, I was bothered by it,” Joseph said. “I just wanted it to be over. I knew it would eventually happen.”

After all, Joseph made scoring 1,000 points in his career a motivational goal when he was still in eighth grade.

“Since I came into the school and saw the banner, I knew I wanted to put my name up there with the rest,” Joseph said.

The list began with Brian St. Leger in 1981 and continued on to James McLane (currently playing at William Paterson University) 30 years later.

“I saw the banner and knew that it would be an accomplishment,” Joseph said.

One of the 11 names on the banners hanging in the school gym is Tom McGuire, Joseph’s head coach, who joined the 1,000-point club in 2003.

“I knew that it was just a matter of time,” McGuire said. “I knew that it wasn’t if, but when.”

After struggling with the milestone for a few games, Joseph finally joined the club last week, when he scored 19 points in a win over Ridgefield Park. He also grabbed 11 rebounds in that game.

Photos by Jim Hague Among the 12 members of the 1,000-point club at Queen of Peace. are Tom McGuire (l.), the current head coach at QP who graduated in 2003, and the newest member, junior Jeremy Joseph (r.), who reached the plateau last week in a win over Ridgefield Park.

Photos by Jim Hague
Among the 12 members of the 1,000-point club at Queen of Peace. are Tom McGuire (l.), the current head coach at QP who graduated in 2003, and the newest member, junior Jeremy Joseph (r.), who reached the plateau last week in a win over Ridgefield


The milestone game was sandwiched around two stellar performances against Secaucus, one in a win, the other in a tough loss.

Joseph had 29 points in a loss to the Patriots, then rebounded to tally 27 points and haul down 13 rebounds in a 59-52 win over the Patriots last Thursday night in the final home game of the season.

For his efforts, Joseph has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week. Joseph has been honored as Athlete of the Week for the second time, having also received recognition in January 2014.

“To be one of only 12 players, it’s an honor,” Joseph said as he posed under the banner that will eventually bear his name. “I’ve played with a few of them and saw some of them play and I know how talented they were. I know what they’ve done in college. It’s my goal to play in college like them. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance.”

Joseph said that he’s worked out with McLane and 1,000-point members Dwayne Moffatt (2009) and Al-Don Muhammad (2008), both of whom went on to play college basketball at Rutgers- Newark. Muhammad became a 1,000-point scorer for the Scarlet Raiders as well.

Before Muhammad, there was Ryan Kearney in 2004, then there was that guy who Joseph knows all too well.

“I keep reminding Jeremy that he hasn’t passed me yet,” McGuire said. “I’m just proud. He’s following in the footsteps of such great players. I’ve known Jeremy for a long time. I coached him in CYO, so it’s an honor to have him join the others up on the wall.”

“He jokes with me all the time, saying that he was better than me,” Joseph said. “I actually want to beat him.”

The all-time scoring leader is Guy Indyke, who had 1,418 points in his career before graduating in 1985. With another year left to play, Joseph has that all-time scoring record within his reach.

But the scoring didn’t exactly come easy for Joseph this season. Teams were double- and sometimes triple-teaming him, knowing full well that he was the key to the Golden Griffins’ offense.

“It was a lot tougher,” Joseph said. “Every team came out with a plan to stop me. We lost a lot of players from last year, seniors who graduated. So I was basically playing with a totally different team. I thought that if it happened (reaching the 1,000-point plateau) this year, it would be great, but I knew it would happen next year.”

Joseph has worked diligently on his game in order to secure the coveted college scholarship. He’s extended his shooting range to the 3-point circle, where he is consistently making shots. He is playing more with his back to the basket, but his future is definitely as a small forward/shooting guard.

“My family is from Sri Lanka, so they didn’t know anything about basketball,” Joseph said. “But once they realized I could be good, they’ve invested a lot of money and time in me. They’re into it now, because they want to see me go to college. That’s the goal now.”

McGuire knows that Joseph can play on the college level. It’s just a matter of where. With another year to showcase his talents – as well as a summer of playing AAU basketball – Joseph is bound to make some college recruiter happy.

For now, Joseph will concentrate on the Griffins’ upcoming NJSIAA Non-Public B North state playoff game against Morristown-Beard.

The name going on the banner will have to wait another year, until Joseph’s final points for the Golden Griffins are tallied and totaled.

“It really is an honor,” Joseph said. “I really like the feeling, knowing my name will be there forever.”

As for the all-time scoring record in the school’s history? Well, Joseph can’t come close to that. It’s the 2,003 points scored by girls’ basketball standout and 2007 Observer Female Athlete of the Year Courtney Keegan, who had the eighth highest scoring total in Bergen County history. Some things are just a pipe dream. Joseph has to shoot for the boys’ record instead.


Dorothy Baranowski 

Dorothy Baranowski (nee Smith) entered into eternal rest on Thursday, Feb. 26. She was 94.

Dorothy was born Aug. 19, 1920, in Harrison, where she was a lifelong resident. She worked for the Town of Harrison as a deputy tax collector. She was a parishioner of Holy Cross Church in Harrison.

Predeceased by her husband, Stanley B. Baranowski Sr., she is survived by her four children: Carol O’Neill and her husband Jack, Robert S. Baranowski Sr., Maureen Guevarez and Stanley B. Baranowski Jr. and his wife Jean, 10 grandchildren: John O’Neill, Maureen O’Neill, Robert Baranowski Jr., Danielle Baranowski, Carrie Ann Baranowski, Melissa Sak, Tammy Sak, Heather Sak, Sarah Baranowski and Joseph Baranowski; and seven great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her nephew Frank Mullin, the son of her late sister, Geraldine Heinz.

The funeral will be conducted from the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison, on Saturday, March 7, at 10:30 am. A memorial Mass will be at Holy Cross Church, Harrison, at 11 a.m. Interment will follow in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington. A memorial gathering will be held Saturday, March 7, from 9 to 10:30 a.m., at the funeral home.

For information, directions, or to send condolences to the family, please visit www.mulliganfh.com.

Patricia ‘Patti’ Parker Hudson

Patricia “Patti” Parker Hudson, 44, of New Port Richey, Fla., formerly of Kearny, passed away on Feb.12.

She graduated from Florida State University and was a teacher at Hillsborough Academy of Math and Science. Patti is survived by two sons, Christopher and Ryan, her parents Bernard and Patricia Parker, and sisters Barbara Suarez and Bernadette (Dwight) Jennings.

A memorial service was held at Morgan Funeral Home, New Port Richey, Fla., on Feb. 28. The family requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Patti’s name to: National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation, P.O Box 1848, Longmont, Colo. 80502.

Lynda M. Inzinna 

Lynda M. Inzinna, of Kearny, died Feb. 28 at St. Michael’s Hospital. She was 67.

Visiting will be on Wednesday, March 4, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m., at the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. Private cremation will follow. www.armitagewiggins.com

Lynda was an art teacher in Newark for many years.

Daughter of Lilyan (nee Bekanas) and the late Vincent Inzinna, she is survived by her husband Frank Verga, her sons Christopher Inzinna and Frank Verga and her brother Vincent Inzinna.

Catherine Jacoby 

Catherine Jacoby (nee Kennedy) died Feb. 26. She was 95.

Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. The burial will be private. She is the wife of the late Charles, stepmother of Marsha and sister of Claire and Dorothy.

Lottie M. Kwiecien

Lottie M. Kwiecien, 94, of North Arlington, passed away Feb. 22 at Alaris Health at Belgrove, Kearny.

Born in Holyoke, Mass., she was the daughter of the late Joseph and Anna Dunaj.

She was preceded in death by her husband Joseph F. Kwiecien Sr., as well as her sons Richard and Joseph Jr., and daughter Patricia.

She is survived by her daughters and their husbands Joanne and Steve Maier and Deborah and William Manzo; grandchildren, Scott Maier, Joseph E. Kwiecien, William J. Manzo and Allison Manzo; three great-grandsons James Maier, Brandon Kwiecien and Jason Kwiecien; and one great-granddaughter Courtney Maier.

The family received friends at the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny, on Feb. 26. A funeral Mass followed at Queen of Peace Church in North Arlington.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Alzheimer’s Association.

Albert ‘Albie’ Lawrance Jr. 


Albie Lawrance, 64, of Copperas Cove, Texas, passed away on Feb. 21 in Killeen, Texas. A Mass of Christian burial was held Feb. 25 at Holy Family Catholic Church in Copperas Cove. He was to be cremated and laid to rest in New Jersey.

Albie Lawrance was born on Feb. 4, 1951, in Kearny to the late Albert and Mary Bradley Lawrance Sr. Albie grew up in Kearny and graduated from Kearny High School where he starred on the soccer team. His love for soccer continued for over 20 years as he coached many teams in Florida where he was loved by all his players. Albie was a published poet and had a passion for learning, later earning a Ph.D. in physiology.

Albie was preceded in death by his parents and by his sisters, Margaret Postel and Elizabeth McLaughlin.

Albie is survived by his children, Erin Bernal, Bradley Lawrance and Melissa Lawrance; and his grandchildren, Anthony, Ariella, Lana and Angelina. His smile and sense of humor will be missed by all who knew him.

Norman Steen 

Norman Steen, of Kearny, died Feb. 27 at Clara Maass Medical Center. He was 76.

Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral Mass was held at St. Stephen’s Church and burial in Holy Cross Cemetery. www.armitagewiggins.com

Norman is survived by his wife Marion (nee Siciliano), his children and their spouses Barbara Brydon, Gary and Catherine Steen and Karen and Dave Bush. Also surviving are his grandchildren Angela (Thomas), Gary Jr. (Jena), Daniel, Nicholas, David and Kelsey and his great grandson Gavin.

In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to the American Cancer Society.

Bad driving led to more trouble for trio


Three Bronx, N.Y., men were arrested on fraud-related and drug charges after they were pulled over for a motor vehicle check on Friday, Feb. 27.

Police said the stop was conducted by Officer Richard Jasinski on Orient Way after observing their 2014 Chevy Cruze weaving and crossing over the double yellow line as it was traveling east on Valley Brook Ave. near Orient Way while the occupants were not wearing their seat belts.

Police said the driver, Thierno Diallo, 22, was ticketed for unlicensed driver, no registration or insurance card, failure to maintain lane, careless driving and possession of CDS (marijuana) in motor vehicle.

Diallo and his passengers, Abdul Abdullah, 22, and Joel Lucca, 24, were charged with multiple counts of possession of fraudulent credit cards and fraudulent identifications/ impersonation and possession of CDS.

Bail for Diallo was set at $35,000 with no 10% cash option, while bail for Abdullah and Lucca was fixed at $30,000 each with no 10% option.

All three suspects were taken to Bergen County Jail pending court action.

Theft suspect nabbed on bridge


A Paterson man was arrested Sunday, March 1, in Lyndhurst after police said he allegedly stole his girlfriend’s purse and ran away.

Police said Roheem Jenkins, 36, and his 23-year-old girlfriend from Passaic were in the Winslow Motel on Rutherford Ave. when they had a dispute, prompting Jenkins to take off with her purse.

The victim called police at about 4 a.m. to report the incident and officers who responded were told that Jenkins had fled the area on foot, west on Rutherford towards Rt. 3.

Police said Officers Steve Passamano and Michael LeStrange located Jenkins in the middle of the Passaic River bridge on the shoulder of the roadway, took him into custody and returned with him to the motel.

Then, police said, after he was positively identified by the victim, he was taken to headquarters where he was charged with possession of CDS (crack cocaine) and theft.

Police said the victim’s purse was found in the suspect’s possession upon his arrest and returned to the victim.

Jenkins was taken to Bergen Regional Medical Center for medical evaluation by the Lyndhurst EMS.

Decastro picked


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


It’s all over but the swearing in – which was scheduled to happen at the next meeting of the mayor and Town Council on Tuesday, Feb. 24.

Marytrine DeCastro was to be installed as the newest member of the governing body, filling the seat formerly occupied by First Ward Councilwoman Alexa Arce, who resigned Jan. 5 with three years remaining in her four-year term.

DeCastro emerged as the uncontested winner following a closed ballot vote by members of the Kearny Democratic County Committee last Tuesday at the Frobisher American Legion post, according to committee chairman Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos. Sonia Hill and Jenny Mach were also up for the job.

County committee members last month submitted the names of all three candidates, from which the Town Council was to appoint one. But, after the council failed to reach a consensus at its Feb. 2 meeting, the selection – as determined by Town Counsel Greg Castano – was tossed back to the county committee.

Of the 59 committee members (there’s one vacancy), 43 participated in the voting, after each of the nominees was given an opportunity to introduce themselves and field questions, Santos said.

Only a simple majority was required of the victor and, according to Santos, DeCastro easily outdistanced her competitors.

Hoping to capitalize on their willingness to be put forward for civic duty to the town, Santos said Mach, a Tenafly middle school physical science teacher, and Hill, a state-certified patient access representative for St. Barnabas Hospital, were offered positions on the Kearny Library Board and Kearny Planning Board, respectively. As of last week, they were still considering the offers, he said.

DeCastro currently serves on the Kearny Board of Health and Santos said that the town was researching whether she could continue doing that while sitting as a member of the Town Council. Her term on the Board of Health runs through Dec. 31, 2015.

DeCastro will serve on the council through the November general election, at which point she said she plans to seek election in hopes of keeping her First Ward seat by filling out the remaining two years of Arce’s unexpired term.

A registed nurse and the single parent of two children, DeCastro has served on the town’s Beautification and Environment Committee and Juvenile Conference Committee. Her sister, Lyla DeCastro Lawdanski, is a part-time mayoral aide.

Asked if she was surprised by the county committee vote results, DeCastro said: “Very much so,” adding that both Mach and Hill “are fantastic and I am looking forward to working with them, my First Ward council colleague Albino Cardoso and the other council members.”

She added that she was grateful for “the opportunity to represent my First Ward constituents” and to “offer my dedication – along with the rest of the council – to promoting the Kearny community and to seeing local businesses thrive.”

Among the projects affecting members of the First Ward she plans to monitor is the planned upgrade of Pettigrew Playground at Highland and Woodland Aves. which is due to be put out to bid later this year.

“It’s been recommended that the age range for that playground’s use be expanded from 2 to 5, to 2 to 12,” De- Castro said, “and there will be another public meeting coming up to hear community suggestions on the types of play facilities that might be appropriate. There’s been one recommendation made, for example, for a rock climbing wall.”

Councilman Cardoso said he, too, looked forward to working with his new First Ward partner. “I think we will make a good team,” he said, “and I would have been very honored to serve with any of the three nominees.” Council President Carol Jean Doyle, who said she’s gotten to know DeCastro and her family members from their having worked on prior political campaigns, recalled that DeCastro was asked to consider running for Town Council 10 years ago, “but at the time she was the parent of two young children and she was going to nursing school,” so that never happened.

“Now, I’m happy to say, she’s ready,” Doyle said. “But the other two ladies were great candidates, too, and I hope they’ll accept the offer to serve on our boards because we need people who are interested in the future of Kearny and we’re lucky to have them.”