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Planting the seeds to ‘grow your own’

Photo by Ron Leir Jenny and David Mach in their home garden.

Photo by Ron Leir
Jenny and David Mach in their home garden.


By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent


During the First and Second World Wars, countries on both sides of the fighting lines promoted “victory gardens” – a grow-your-own agrarian movement as a patriotic and pragmatic way to keep the home veggies sprouting.

While there’s no overt skirmishing on this home front, Kearny is looking to revive the practice of turning your own soil through a “Kearny Community Garden.”

Wilson Ave. residents Jenny and David Mach – the couple who created the butterfly garden in Riverside Park – along with a supporting cast that includes Erin Donnelly, Laurence and Susan Mach, Peg and Ed Bixler, and Cecilia Lindenfelser – are pitching the concept.

Jenny Mach, a 32-yearold middle school science teacher in Tenafly, outlined the proposal to the Kearny governing body last Tuesday with a 15-minute power point presentation and Mayor Alberto Santos, for one, said he liked what he heard.

While she doesn’t claim to be an expert agronomist, Mach has had “field” experience: Her first job during high school days was working on a farm in Cinnaminson and, in college, she did a year-long work-study project assisting a Rutgers biology professor in strawberry research.

She and her husband do organic gardening at home in their front yard, growing a variety of vegetables and flowers.

The garden hopes to accomplish;

• “Beautify the Kearny community, Educate the community about sustainable organic gardening and good nutrition,

• Promote a sense of community and cooperation for all Kearny residents, and

• Providing nourishing organic food for garden members, Kearny citizens and others.”

Sounding like the science teacher that she is, Mach said the garden would be a plus for “improving the urban environment by recycling organic waste, filtering rain water, releasing oxygen [and] reducing pollution, increasing biodiversity and reducing fossil fuel consumption from food transport.”

Mach credited her mother as the springboard for the garden concept. “My mom – as moms will do – sent me a [newspaper] clipping on a straw bale garden in the south Jersey area and David and I and our in-laws, the Bixlers, all thought it was a great idea.”

Kearny’s garden, according to Mach, would be modeled on the three-year-old Rutherford Community Garden which, she said, is maintained by community volunteers and has grown from six to 25 plant beds cultivated by disabled gardeners, the Woman’s Club and other groups, with some reserved for the town’s food pantry.

And, Mach said, the Rutherford Green Team has offered to assist Kearny in “seed swapping, resource sharing and ordering materials in bulk.”

The Kearny contingent, like Rutherford, figures to “start small” in its initial season, with local Girl Scout troops enlisted to start growing vegetable seeds behind the scout building by next month month or April.

Then, when it’s warm enough, the seedlings would be transported for planting at the garden site where its “core group” members will maintain them. Any surplus would donated to Kearny residents or local food pantries, Mach said.

Pumpkins, basil, tomatoes, squash, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, and cabbage are some of the anticipated products.

“In subsequent years,” Mach said, “we plan to expand by opening the garden to local businesses, schools, organizations and Kearny residents. Separate plots will be available and we hope to provide – or allow others to provide – educational activities for both children and adults.” While the garden is envisioned as a non-profit operation, Mach said the group “is considering charging a nominal annual deposit, refundable at the end of the growing season to ensure that beds are properly maintained.”

Ultimately, Mach said, the hope is to see community gardens pop up “throughout the town, maintained by other motivated individuals, but cooperatively working together. This is part of our vision to make Kearny a beautiful and attractive place for visitors, businesses and all residents.”

The plan is to use straw bales – instead of wooden raised beds – as planting beds because they’re less costly – “about $3 per bale,” according to Mach – as well as easily maneuverable, provide “warmth and nutrients as they decompose,” attract fewer critters, are more adaptable to children and those in wheelchairs, and can be used as mulch or compost for next year’s crop.

The bales would be arranged in circular or rectangular forms with topsoil in the center and a drip irrigation system on top.

Where will the garden best grow? Mach and her team favor a section of Riverside Park off Passaic Ave. north of Skinner Brothers Automotive and south of the future dog park site and butterfly garden. A small parking lot is nearby and water could be drawn from a street hydrant. As a backup location, the team has suggested a grassy area next to the American Legion Post off Belgrove Drive.

Here are proposed rules for using the facility:

• Organic gardening only: no chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizer permitted.

• Each gardener is responsible for his/her own plot.

• Excess produce will be provided to Kearny residents on a designated day of the week at no charge or will be donated to a local pantry.

Mach said the team would look to the town to finance acquisition of garden supplies such as straw bales, galvanized wire netting, potting soil, peat moss and compost, drip irrigation system and water hookup, seeds and plants, compost area, low picket fence with chicken wire around bottom, a picnic table and waterproof bulletin board. “If the mayor and council grant us permission to start the garden,” Mach said, “we are certain that it will be a success for all the people of Kearny.”

Town, BOE play nicely to fix rec sites

Photo by Ron Leir A view of Rogers Park.

Photo by Ron Leir
A view of Rogers Park.


By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent


What’s going on here?

Earlier this month, the Kearny Board of Education (BOE) came together in recommending Daniel Esteves to fill the vacant seat – a choice ultimately ratified by the acting county superintendent.

Now the BOE and Kearny’s municipal government – often distrustful of the other – are looking to be potential partners in an endeavor to upgrade two municipal playgrounds that sit on land owned by the BOE.

At its meeting last Tuesday, the BOE agreed that, if the town applied for state and/or county grants to fix up those play areas, it would endorse those applications – conditional on the BOE reviewing any restrictions that might apply under the grants’ award.

“Mayor (Alberto) Santos is really leading the charge on this,” said BOE Attorney Kenneth Lindenfelser. “The mayor and (Town Administrator) Michael Martello have become aware of funds that may be available to upgrade town playgrounds including two owned by the board.”

Lindenfelser identified the potential funding sources as the state Green Acres and the county Open Space Trust Fund account.

Photos by Ron Leir Tiny Pettigrew Playground sits behind Washington School.

Photos by Ron Leir
Tiny Pettigrew Playground sits behind Washington School.


The two board-owned properties are known as the Rogers Playground, the larger of the pair at about three quarters of an acre, bordered by Hickory St. to the west, Oakwood to the south and Spruce St. to the north; and Pettigrew Playground, about 40 feet by 40 feet, in the rear of Washington Elementary School, at Highland and Woodland Aves.

Over the last decade or so, Santos said, the town has improved most of its play facilities. “These are the last two to be upgraded,” he said.

And both are showing signs of aging.

Rogers Playground, which takes up a square block, offers half-court basketball and typical playground equipment but, as noted by Santos, the basketball court’s asphalt surface is marred by cracks and the play facilities are old. Additionally, the playground’s walkways’ stone pavers are either uprooted by trees or are simply deteriorating, he said.

Photo by Ron Leir Some swings are missing.

Photo by Ron Leir
Some swings are missing.


At the Pettigrew Playground, the matting on which the play equipment sits is hardly protective: The “safety’ surface is uneven at best and, is punctuated by depressions that can easily trip toddlers coming down off a slide. There are a handful of primitive swings and a small hardscrabble play area that, in bad weather, turns into a mudflat. And, in warm weather, there is an absence of overhang or trees to offer shade.

But, essentially, it’s the only outdoor recreational facility for small children in the neighborhood.

Santos estimated the improvements for both playgrounds could run between $200,000 and $300,000, with a good portion likely to be spent for drainage work at Rogers Playground.

BOE President Bernadette McDonald said the trustees were receptive to the town’s overture but added, “We have to make sure, with the grant money, that nothing hinders the board.”

For example, if the town secured a Green Acres grant, and if sometime in the future, the board decided it wanted to take down the Rogers Playground to put up another school, the grant’s conditions could prevent the board from disrupting the play area, Mc- Donald suggested.

Years ago, the town had title to the Rogers Playground but around 1990/1991, it swapped that parcel for property across the street so that the old Emerson School – which had been closed in 1965 after Lincoln School was updated – could be torn down to clear the way for construction of the Spruce Terrace senior apartments.

Some 13 years ago, the then-Kearny schools superintendent had pushed for building a middle school on part of the town-owned Gunnell Oval off Schuyler Ave. and, turn, the town would turn over the Rogers Playground to the district but that never happened.

Asked about the possibility of the board reviving the notion of a new middle school somewhere in Kearny, Mc- Donald declined to speculate on what the board might do in the near future. “That’s what we’d have to look into [if the town got the grant],” she said. “We don’t want to tie the hands of future boards.”

In the meantime, McDonald said, the board has to focus on moving forward with converting the old Midland Ave. tire factory it acquired several years ago to accommodate central office staff and the board under one roof plus two basement classrooms. It’s been undergoing environmental remediation, she said.

Photo by Ron Leir At bottom of slide is a big hole.

Photo by Ron Leir
At bottom of slide is a big hole.


In other business at its Feb. 19 meeting, the BOE granted a request by three of its current members (George King, John Plaugic and John Leadbeater) and one former member (Paul Castelli) for legal defense against an ethics complaint filed by former Kearny High School Principal Cynthia Baumgartner.

Those four individuals voted against renewing her contract despite a favorable recommendation by the then-Interim Superintendent Ron Bolandi. Four other board members voted to renew – one short of the five affirmative votes needed. In her complaint, Baumgartner alleges that the four who voted against improperly went beyond the scope of their duties as school trustees.

King, Plaugic, Leadbeater and Castelli will be represented by Brenda Liss, of the Morristown law firm Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti, at $250 an hour.

However, if the New Jersey Ethics Commission determines that Baumgartner’s complaint is valid, the board won’t pay any legal fees incurred, according to Lindenfelser.

Thoughts & Views

Hollywood vs. history

Did “Lincoln” win the Oscar for Best Picture? Don’t know, since this is being written pre-awards. I have yet to see the film, but my attention was called to it this week in an email noting a small problem in the screenplay.

In a scene depicting the final balloting on the 13th Amendment, two members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation are portrayed as voting “no.” Or, more accurately, “nay.” But neither is accurate at all. In fact, all four Connecticut representatives approved the amendment.

Current Nutmeg State Rep. Joe Courtney, rightly appalled at the inaccuracy, fired off a protest letter to director Steven Spielberg, noting that “placing the State of Connecticut on the wrong side of the historic and divisive fight over slavery is a distortion of easily verifiable facts.”

According to a report on CNN, screenwriter Tony Kushner “conceded the discrepancy but defended the film.”

Kushner, CNN said, “explained that the alterations were made to serve the narrative that the outcome of the vote was in doubt until the very end.”

Other defenders noted that “Lincoln” is not a documentary but historical fiction, and, hence, the filmmakers were permitted some poetic license. Well, what the heck, it’s only history, right? And who the heck cares about history these days? I’m beginning to wonder if it’s even taught in schools anymore.

Two anecdotal notes.

1) Some months ago, I was watching one of those “person- in-the-street” TV bits in which they question passersby on this and that. The subject was Abraham Lincoln.

“Do you know how Lincoln died?” one woman was asked.

“Yes,” she said. “He was assassinated.”

“And do you know the name of his assassin?”

Her answer: “Lee Harvey Oswald.”

I repeated this story to two twenty somethings the next day, and they both looked at me as if I were mentally challenged. One, because he thought “Lee Harvey Oswald” was the correct answer. The other, because he didn’t understand why this bothered me so much.

2) This one I know was on “Jaywalking.” Jay Leno was at a college commencement, questioning the grads, including one woman still wearing her cap and gown and clutching her degree.

“Have you ever heard of the Gettysburg Address?” Leno asked.

“Of course,” she sniffed.

“Do you know it?”

Her answer: “Well, I don’t know the EXACT address.”

I do believe that young woman has a bright future in Hollywood.

–Karen Zautyk

Post-Valentine’s Day frenzy over 12 hours

Kearny Police Chief John Dowie surmised it might have to do with “a post- Valentine’s Day sugar rush,” but whatever the cause, from noon until midnight Feb. 15, the KPD was called to respond to an inordinate number of incidents: 55 in that 12-hour period.

“It just didn’t stop,” the chief said. “It was like a starter’s pistol went off at noon.”

We cannot list all 55, but here is a sampling.

At 3:15 p.m., police were called to Tappan St. and Davis Ave. on the report of a possible burglar person lurking near the window of a house. Sgt. Anthony Limite and Officers Sean Kelly, Jack Corbett and Giovanni Rodriguez set up a containment perimeter while additional units searched the area. Corbett spotted a man exiting from the rear of the house and also saw a broken window. Arrested on charges of burglary and an outstanding drug-related warrant from Newark was 28-year-old Rocco Cartem, who had no known address.

At 6 p.m., Sgt. Charles Smith and Officer Frank West set up surveillance at Belgrove Drive and New Lawn Ave. after getting a tip that a man wanted by North Arlington police might be in the area. They soon took into custody James Hamilton, 22, of Kearny, who was sought in connection with an incident involving threats and a handgun. He was turned over to North Arlington.

Vice squad officers, at Highland Ave. and Rose St. at 8:30p.m., spotted a man they knew to have warrants from Kearny, Newark and the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office.

A search of the suspect reportedly revealed five glassine folds of heroin. Daniel Chipelo, 32, of Kearny, was charged with possession of heroin and paraphernalia.

At 9:30 p.m., P.O. Frank West was dispatched to Seabra’s on Schuyler Ave. on the report of a shoplifter. The 18-year-old suspect, who reportedly had stolen liquor and was already wanted on a Kearny warrant, appeared already intoxicated and was very combative, police said. At headquarters, he reportedly kicked West and punched P.O. Chris Medina. Thus, in addition to charges of shoplifting and underage possession of alcohol, Denis Caballero of Kearny was charged with aggravted assault on two police officers.

To end the eventful night, at midnight Applebee’s called to report a drunk and disorderly patron who had apparently brought his own bottle to the restaurant. P.O. Jay Balogh asked the man to cease and desist, which “produced negative results,” said Dowie. Arrested and escorted out by P.O. Mike Santucci, he had to be forcibly placed in the patrol car, police said. Keith Cunningham, 21, of Newark was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, and he reportedly had an outstanding criminal-mischief warrant from the Essex County Sheriff ’s Office.

Other recent reports from the Kearny Police blotter include:

Feb. 16

P.O. Ben Wuelfing, on patrol near Kearny Ave. and Hoyt St. at 11 p.m., was advised by people in the area that two intoxicated and combative individuals had been trying to pick fights. Finding two individuals fitting the description in a car, and reportedly detecting an odor of alcohol on the driver, the officer asked for credentials and was handed a Valley National Bank check card.

The driver eventually found his license and was asked to step from the vehicle. At that point, the proprietor of a local restaurant approached and told Wuelfing that the two had just run out on a $168 tab. Dowie said the passenger overheard this and put himself in the “cuff position” and “the officer obliged.”

At HQ , however, that passenger, Miguel Paz, 42, of Kearny, reportedly became disruptive and attempted to hurt himself in his cell and required medical attention.

Paz and the driver, Vito Alfieri, 41, of Kearny, were both charged with theft of services. Additionally Alfieri was charged with DWI and refusal to take an Alcotest.

Feb. 17

Officers Melinda Esposito and Rene Crawford responded to a report of a possible drunk driver at 7 a.m. on Wilson Ave. near Kearny Ave. They found an unoccupied black Mitsubishi, “with heavy front-end damage,” sitting on the sidewalk. Soon after, the driver returned to the area and pleaded with the cops to allow him to move the car, Dowie said. This, they did not permit.

The driver, Kevin Padilla, 21, of Kearny, was arrested on charges of DWI, DWI with a suspended license, leaving the scene of an accident, failure to report an accident, careless driving, and parking on a sidewalk.

Feb. 18

At 5 p.m. at the ShopRite on Passaic Ave., P.O. John Fabula saw a motorist whom he knew to have an outstanding parole-violation warrant from New York State.

After confirming this, he stopped the car on Belgrove Drive and arrested 52-yearold James Williams of Kearny as a fugitive from justice. Williams was sent to the Hudson County Jail to await pickup by New York authorities.

Feb. 20

At 4 p.m., P.O. John Travelino was dispatched to the Street Smart store on Passaic Ave. on the report of a theft.

He broadcast a description of the suspect, who had just fled, and Sgts. Charles Smith and Peter Gleason saw a man fitting that description running along Passaic. The suspect was reportedly found to be in possession of two bottles of perfume from Street Smart and a green handbag from Payless. He was also found to be wanted on a Newark warrant, police said. Alesis Santana, 30, of Newark, was arrested for theft and on the warrant and was taken to the county jail.

— Karen Zautyk

It’s never too early to start learning

Mayor Robert Giangeruso (c.) presides at ribbon-cutting for grand opening of The Learning Experience in Lyndhurst in September.

Mayor Robert Giangeruso (c.) presides at ribbon-cutting for grand opening of The Learning Experience in Lyndhurst in September.


If you’re looking for a daycare center that offers more than mere babysitting– or plunking a child down in front of a TV — look no further than The Learning Experience in Lyndhurst.

Open since early September, the new center, located at 518 Stuyvesant Ave., is focused on “providing children with a quality education, from the beginning,” noted owner Corinne Aulov.

And she means “the beginning.” The Learning Center enrolls children as young as six weeks. Currently, there are eight babies in the nursery, all of them being provided with “a nurturing experience.”

The infants are part of the initial enrollment of 72 children, through age 5. The facility has a capacity of 167, and “we anticipate being full” by this coming September, Aulov noted. In September, too, The Learning Center will be offering kindergarten classes, in conjunction with the Lyndhurst school system, she said.

Aulov, herself the mother of three, left a career in the corporate world of New York to devote herself to early childhood education, and her passion for and commitment to the work is evident.

At present, she has a staff of 10, including the center’s director, Mara Doloroso. “I make it a requirement that they are all certified in early childhood education,” Aulov noted. “I want the school to be on an elite level,” giving the youngsters “a strong foundation.”

The Learning Center, part of a nationwide group of franchises, offers “one of the best curriculums out there,” said Aulov, describing the program as a “structured Montessori type of education.” “We need to get back to the fundamentals,” she said. In many schools, “the basics are not there.” The Learning Center program is designed to give children “that extra foothold.”

In addition to the day-care program, which operates Monday-Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., The Learning Center is planning a “fun and exciting” summer day camp in August. That will be for children ages 2 to 8. If parents take advantage of early registration, by the end of March, there will be a discount, Aulov said.

The Learning Center houses nine classrooms and features two play areas, indoor and outdoor. There’s a strong emphasis on security; the school is “constantly monitored,” with security cameras throughout the building keeping a watchful eye on the little ones, who, are happily playing–and learning–in their “home away from home.”

For more information on The Learning Center in Lyndhurst, call 201-460-0040 weekdays between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Or visit lyndhurst.tlechildcare.com.

Around Town


Trinity Episcopal Church, 575 Kearny Avenue, Kearny, is offering English as a Second Language and citizenship test preparation classes on Thursdays, beginning March 7. Classes will be held from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Registration will be on Thursday, Feb. 28, at 7:30 p.m. In order to register for the Citizenship class, students are required to speak at least on an intermediate level of English and to have approximately $20 for the textbook and other materials. Registrations for citizenship will be limited to 10 students. For ESL classes, there will be a $20 registration fee.

Childcare for the classes is available at no cost. For more information, please call the church office at 201-991-5894 on Mondays and Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., or Wednesdays, 1 to 5 p.m.

A flea market will be held at St. Cecilia’s Church on Saturday, March 2, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at 114 Chestnut St. (school building). Furniture, small appliances, household items, toys, DVD’s and many more items. For more information, call 201-991-1116. Vendors welcome. All proceeds will benefit St. Cecilia’s Parish. Donations are kindly accepted.

Kearny UNICO will hold its monthly membership meeting on Thursday, March 7, at 7:30 p.m. Anyone interested in attending the meeting and/or learning more about Kearny UNICO should contact Chapter President Lou Pandolfi at 201-368-2409. New members are always welcome.

The Rosary Society of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 136 Davis Ave., Kearny, will be selling palm crosses before and after all Masses on March 9 and 10 and March 16 and 17. Cost is $9.

The Parish Life and Rosary Society of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 136 Davis Ave., Kearny, will sponsor a fish fry on Friday, March 15, at the LCC, 6 Davis Ave., Kearny, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The site is handicapped- accessible. Cost is $20 per dinner. Eat-in or take-out. For tickets, call Kathy at 201-998-8265, Jean 201-991-4732 or the rectory 201-998-4616.

St. Stephen’s Seniors will meet on Tuesday, March 4, at 1 p.m. in Hedges Hall.

Members are reminded that dues are now payable. Upcoming events include Doolans on March 7 (waiting list only); Anniversary party at San Carlo, April 19 at noon; Cruise to Canada and New England, Sept. 14-21. The trip to New Hampshire has been cancelled.

For club information, call Tom at 201-998-8258.,For trip information, call Joan at 201- 998-3578. For sunshine, call Vicki at 201-991-8345. For cruise information, call Pat at 201- 991-4771.

Grace United Methodist Church, 380 Kearny Ave., Kearny, will serve a corned beef and cabbage dinner on Friday, March 8, from 5 to 7 p.m. The cost for adults is $10 and $5 for children under $5. Assorted items will be for sale at the church’s East and Spring Fling sale. For more information, call the church office at 201-991-1132.

Join the Senior Citizens of Kearny to meet new friends. Dues are $5 per year. This entitles members to five free parties, including a fish and chip dinner. Meetings take place every Thursday at the Henrietta Benstead Senior Center, 60 Columbia Ave., Kearny. Doors open at 9 a.m. for a continental breakfast and socializing. The business meeting begins at 11:30 a.m. followed by Bingo at noon. Several speakers will be brought in during the year. For club information, call Carol 201-991-9369.


The Humane Society of Bergen County, 221-223 Stuyvesant Ave., Lyndhurst, has a supply of dog food both canned and dry available to anyone due to unemployment, disability or any other financial difficulty who cannot afford to feed his/her dog. Just stop by or call for more information 201-896-9300. Hours: Monday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The NJMC and Bergen County Audubon Society will host the First-Sunday-ofthe- Month walk on Sunday, March 3, at 10 a.m. This free two-hour walk of Mill Creek Marsh in Secaucus will feature raptors, waterfowl and early spring migrants. The group will meet at the marsh entrance at 10 a.m. (directions are on meadowblog.net in the left-hand column). Check meadowblog.net for lastminute weather updates. You will have to sign a standard liability release that is good for NJMC/BCAS events throughout the year. To R.S.V.P., contact Don Torino of the BCAS at greatauk4@aol.com or 201-230-4983.

“Astounding Adaptations” will be presented at the NJMC Center for Environmental and Scientific Education, Three DeKorte Park Plaza, Lyndhurst, on Thursday, March 7, from 6 to 8 p.m. This program is for families of children and young adults with special learning needs. What helps animals and plants survive in the wild? Participants will be able to answer that question after investigating movement, protection and feeding simulations that include live animal interaction, tool manipulation and cooperative work. This event is an extension of the MarshAccess program for students with disabilities, and we strongly encourage families with special learning needs to come and enjoy this modified educational program. Admission is $5/person; $4/MEC members. For more information, call 201-460- 8300 or visit www.njmeadowlands.gov/ec.

Lyndhurst Library’s monthly book club will meet on Wednesday, March 13, at 6:30 p.m. to discuss “Under the Manhattan Bridge” by Irene Marcuse. For more information, or to obtain a copy of the book, call Diane Montefusco at 201-804-2478, ext. 2. Space is limited and registration is necessary.

Learn when and how to properly use prescribed antibiotics at the Lyndhurst Health Department on Friday, March 15, at 10 a.m. This forum will be hosted by Clara Maass Medical Center and a light breakfast will be served. The Health Department also announces an additional breakfast forum hosted by Lyndhurst Chiropractor, Dr. Robert Haley, regarding Bone and Joint Health on Tuesday, March 19, at 10 a.m. These forums will take place at the department’s new location at 601 Riverside Ave. Please call 201-804-2500 to reserve a seat. If you are a resident of the Carucci Apartments, transportation will be provided via the Parks Department.

North Arlington

Queen of Peace in North Arlington will have Eucharistic Adoration on Sunday, March 10, from 1 to 3 p.m. in the church for the intentions of its parishioners (on Lenten cross) as well as life, marriage and religious liberty. Please call the rectory for more information at 201-997-0700.


Registration is now open for the Nutley Recreation Department’s spring session of Zumba, to be held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. starting March 12. The fee for the two-nighta- week, eight-week program is $60. Classes, to be held at the Recreation Annex Building, 65 Bloomfield Ave., are open to Nutley residents only. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. Register online at www.nutleynj.org or pick up an application at the Recreation Office, 44 Park Ave. For more information, call 973-284-4966 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The Recreation Department will also be offering an eight-week Yoga/Meditation program at the Annex Building, 65 Bloomfield Ave., beginning March 11. Classes will be available Mondays or Wednesdays from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Participants are asked to come prepared with a towel or yoga mat. Pre-registration is required. Register online at www.nutleynj.org or submit your application to the department at 44 Park Ave. For more information, call 973-284-4966 between 8:30 and 4:30 p.m.

Are you interested in learning the fundamentals of the game of golf? Nutley Recreation is offering a Junior Golf Program for township youngsters in Grades 5 through 8, teaching basic skills in a non-competitive atmosphere. The instructor is Jun Espiritu, USGTF Level III golf professional. Practice sessions will be held at the 21 Driving Range in Palisades Park. The fee for the six-week program is $40. Classes will be held weekly on Tuesdays at 4 p.m. and will begin April 9. A mandatory parents’ meeting is scheduled March 21 at the Parks and Recreation Department, Room 201. For further information, please contact the department at 973-384- 4966 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Celebrate Italian American Heritage Month with Nutley UNICO and the Nutley Public Library with a screening of “The Double Hour” (La Doppia Ora), on Tuesday, March 5, at 7 p.m. This Italian language film with English subtitles is a 2009 award-winning thriller about a former cop and his new love interest taking a trip to the Italian countryside. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for refreshments provided by Nutley UNICO.

Call the library at 973-667- 0405 for more information on this and other programs at the Nutley Public Library. The schedule of programs is available at the library and on the library’s web site at http://nutley.bccls.org.

The library will host a Conversational ESL class on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 10 a.m. No registration is required. Wednesday Afternoon Knitters will meet at the library on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 1 p.m. Come share your love of knitting and crocheting with both beginning and experienced knitters. Meet fellow knitters, brush-up on your skills, and learn some new techniques. Please bring your own supplies. This group meets every Wednesday.

The Nutley Jaycees are seeking nominations for the 42nd annual Distinguished Service Awards program.

Five individuals who live or work in Nutley will be honored for their outstanding contributions to the quality of life in Nutley. The awards are presented for commitment and excellence in the areas of business, education, civic affairs, public health and safety and to one outstanding individual between the ages of 21 and 40. Deadline for nominations is March 11.

The awards will be presented at a dinner on Thursday, April 4, at the Valley Regency on Valley Road in Clifton. Reservations for the dinner can be purchased for $45 per person. For more information, contact Michael Paolino at 973-667-7315 or Dr. Steven Clarke at 973-235-1515.

Nomination forms are being sent to charitable organizations in town and are also available at he Town Hall and library.

The Nutley Health Department will sponsor a Blood Chemistry Profile Clinic, provided by Porite Clinical Labs, on Saturday, March 9, from 7:30 to 11 a.m. It includes a CBC, blood cholesterol levels, HDL and LDL levels, glucose, calcium, uric acid, bilirubin and albumin levels. Base blood chemistry is $35 with additional tests offered for a nominal fee.

Participants must fast for 6-8 hours. Advance registration and payment are required. Call the Health Department at 973-284-4976 to set up an appointment.

QP’s Rozalski sisters earn medals at NJSIAA’s M of C

Photos by Jim Hague Senior Michele Rozalski gets ready to compete in the pole vault at Saturday’s NJSIAA Meet of Champions, where she finished fifth overall in the entire state.

Photos by Jim Hague
Senior Michele Rozalski gets ready to compete in the pole vault at Saturday’s NJSIAA Meet of Champions, where she finished fifth overall in the entire state.


By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

Queen of Peace really doesn’t have an indoor track team, except for two talented young women.

Senior Michele Rozalski and her younger sister Katherine “Kas” (pronounced KAASH) form the entire Golden Griffins’ team in the winter months.

However, both certainly made their marks this season, as they both received medals for finishing among the top six girls’ pole vault competitors in the entire state.

Michele finished fifth at Saturday’s NJSIAA Meet of Champions, held at the Bennett Center in Toms River, while Kas finished sixth. They both cleared the bar at 11 feet, but Michele finished ahead of Kas because of a match of jumps.

Still, two Kearny residents representing their entire school came away with medals at the Meet of Champions. It’s quite an accomplishment.

“I’m excited about it, because I was hoping to get in the top 10,” Michele Rozalski said. “I’m just a little upset that I didn’t jump higher. But it’s a rewarding feeling and something I can share with my sister for a lifetime.”

Kas Rozalski was also excited.

“I’m very happy,” Kas said. “I was just happy to be there. It’s a great feeling and I’m happy that we both did well. When you think of it, it’s pretty amazing. I just tried to do my best. I wasn’t that nervous.”

The two sisters seem to push each other to succeed, but it’s remarkable that they finished with the same height and one place apart among the very best in New Jersey.

They are always asked where the rest of their team is or what a Griffin is, referring to the name that appears on their uniform, short for Golden Griffins of QP.

“Everyone asks us those things, but now, they kind of know where the school is,” Kas said.

“I like to even things out,” Michele said. “I don’t ever think there’s competition between us. We’re just out to help each other. We calm each other down whenever one is jumping. We also push each other to do better.”

“I’m glad to share things like this with Michele,” Kas said. “We’re lucky that way.”

Michele has a higher goal in mind.

“I want to jump 12 (feet),” Michele said. “That’s my goal. Hopefully, I can do it. And I’m going to push Kas to jump higher. It’s a good feeling that we did well. I just wish I jumped higher. I’m definitely not disappointed, just a little upset.”

Photos by Jim Hague Sophomore Katherine “Kas” Rozalski mentally prepares for her chance in the pole vault at the Bennett Center in Toms River, where she finished sixth overall in the entire state.

Photos by Jim Hague
Sophomore Katherine “Kas” Rozalski mentally prepares for her chance in the pole vault at the Bennett Center in Toms River, where she finished sixth overall in the entire state.


The two will now prepare for the outdoor track season. By then, maybe there will be more of a team for Rozalskis to attend meets with.

“The indoor season is for us to get ready for outdoors,” Kas said. “I think we can do even better outdoors.”

The duo qualified for the Meet of Champions the week before at the NJSIAA Non- Public B state championships.

In that meet, Kas actually finished ahead of Michele, but both again had the same height of 10-6. Kas finished third at the Non-Public B meet, with Michele right there in fourth, setting up their second trip to the Meet of Champions.

It’s pretty remarkable how the two sisters reached the same height in both state meets.

At last year’s Meet of Champions, the two sisters finished in a tie for 15th overall, clearing the bar at 10 feet. So they both have shown solid improvement over the past year.

Maybe that improvement will now carry over to the outdoor season.

The two sisters have yet to topple their older sister, Stephanie, who jumped 12-9 during her senior year at QP. Stephanie Rozalski is now a student at Seton Hall, but she still competes in open track meets and trains regularly with her sisters at Apex in Oakland.

So they each got a medal together at the Meet of Champions. That’s truly memorable.

“It’s just amazing,” Kas said. “I think we’re going to always remember this.”

District wrestling: Nutley wins second straight; Kearny sends three on


From left, Ryan Michaels, Jose Castillo and Renato Matta represent Kearny’s hopes in this weekend’s Region 4 tournament. All three Kearny wrestlers placed third last weekend at District 16 in North Bergen.

Photo by Jim Hague From left, Ryan Michaels, Jose Castillo and Renato Matta represent Kearny’s hopes in this weekend’s Region 4 tournament. All three Kearny wrestlers placed third last weekend at District 16 in North Bergen.



By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

The NJSIAA District wrestling tournaments took place last Saturday and two local teams represented the highs and lows that come with the sport.

In Nutley, there was cause for celebration, as the Maroon Raiders won their second straight District 14 title, which comes on top of the Raiders’ winning the Essex County Tournament for a second straight year.

In Kearny, it was a matter of mere survival, as St. Peter’s Prep turned the District 16 get-together into its own personal playground.

The Kardinals, with their roster almost totally depleted due to desertions, injuries, academic difficulties, you name it, did their best to stay above water. They were able to send three wrestlers on to Region 4 this weekend, extending the trying season for another week.

Meanwhile, Nutley head coach Frank DiPiano was ecstatic about his team’s performance. They lost a ton of talented wrestlers last June to graduation, but DiPiano’s team managed to pull off almost a complete mirror image of last year, coming from behind to dominate the District 14 tourney.

“It’s really something special,” DiPiano said of the District 14 win, out-dueling Belleville by 30 points. “It’s something that we set our goals to do. I guess always deep inside, I thought it was possible to win again. We had an up-and-down year (finishing 13-11 in dual meets), but in the back of my mind, I thought we had a chance. We were able to put together a competitive group and kept plugging away.”

The Maroon Raiders crowned six champions at District 14, had seven wrestlers move on to the final round and nine placed, moving on to Region 4 this weekend.

Senior Bobby Trombetta, already the alltime leader in victories at Nutley, won his third District 14 gold medal, defeating Tommy Heller of Livingston in a tough 5-4 finale.

Photo by Jim Hague Brandon Keena was one of six Nutley wrestlers to win District 14 championships. Keena defended his title, winning the 160-pound

Photo by Jim Hague
Brandon Keena
was one of six Nutley wrestlers to win District 14 championships. Keena defended his title, winning the 160-pound


“I believe Bobby can go a long way,” DiPiano said. “He has the potential and the skill to do it. They all have that fire inside of them that you need to be successful.”

Sophomore Anthony DeLorenzo won his second straight District 14 title at 106 pounds, defeating Rocco Genova of Belleville, 2-1, in the title round.

Brandon Keena also repeated as District 14 champion, claiming the crown at 160 pounds. Keena pinned Samuel Jackson of Newark West Side in 5:41 to earn his second gold medal.

The other Nutley district winners were Stephen Scuttaro at 138 pounds, sophomore Vinnie Mainiero at 182 pounds and Peter Burbank at 220.

Scuttaro defeated O’Brayan Ramirez of Belleville in his title bout, while Mainiero pinned Kevin Llerena of Belleville in 1:25 and Burbank pinned Isaiah Thomas of Bloomfield in 5:39.

The Maroon Raiders had 113-pounder Joe Ferinde and 195-pounder Nick Nardachone finish second.

“I think it’s a testament to what’s been going on with this program for the last couple of years,” DiPiano said. “Our kids are battle tested. They went through a tough schedule. They stuck to their goals and they achieved them.”

Belleville had two other wrestlers finish second other than the aforementioned ones who lost in the title matches to Nutley.

David Colon, a 126-pounder, and Nate James, a heavyweight, also dropped title bouts, but will move on to the Region 4 tourney this weekend.

With the Kearny Kardinals, veteran head coach Tony Carratura is just trying to maintain a solid program. It’s not easy when two talented kids defected right before the season was about to begin.

“Losing those two guys, who we expected to do some great things for us, was tough,” Carratura said.

So it changed his entire philosophy for the weekend.

“We didn’t expect anything, because we went with basically underclassmen,” Carratura said. “We forfeited some weight classes and we’ve never done that before. Every day was tough for us, so it was a tough year for us. I just wanted the kids who wanted to wrestle and wanted to learn. The kids wanted to wrestle, but we had very few with experience.”

Still, Kearny managed to have its three heaviest wrestlers, namely 195-pound Ryan Michaels, 220-pound Jose Castillo and heavyweight Renato Matta, all move on to Region 4, courtesy of finishing third at District 16.

Michaels earned his berth in the Region tourney with a pin of Eric Cosgrove of Cliffside Park in 4:25. Castillo won a tough match over Justin Gomez of North Bergen, winning 3-2 and Matta moved on when his consolation round opponent was injured, giving Matta the forfeit victory.

“I’m really proud of those kids, because they’re all basically new to the sport,” Carratura said. “It wasn’t expected of them, so they deserved it.”

Carratura also mentioned 126-pound James Hodnett, who entered the District tourney with a 4-22 record, but only one of those four was a legitimate win on the mat.

“He was seeded last in his bracket, but he managed to pin the fourth seed, a kid from Cliffside Park,” Carratura said. “That could have been a fairytale, but I still give him credit for going to the District and winning a match.”

So Carratura will move on with his three Region 4 qualifiers, keeping the wrestling season going for another week.

“This was all new to them,” Carratura said. “It was a big surprise, considering what we’ve been through.”

Louis LaRegina holds the entire hopes of the Lyndhurst/ North Arlington program. LaRegina finished third at 220 pounds to punch his ticket to the regions.

Harrison’s Lucas winds down terrific career

Photo by Jim Hague Harrison senior guard/forward Rayven Lucas.

Photo by Jim Hague
Harrison senior guard/forward Rayven Lucas.



By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

After suffering an ankle injury that kept her out of action for almost three weeks, missing five precious games during her senior year, Rayven Lucas wanted to make sure that her final games at Harrison High School would be memorable.

When she suffered the injury in a game against Hoboken, Lucas thought her career was over.

“I was getting face guarded by a player and she stepped on my ankle,” Lucas said. “I felt it pop. I cried so much, because I thought I was done. I was so upset that I wanted to punch myself in the face. It was awful. I really thought it was over.”

As it turned out, Lucas missed those five games, but it made her more determined when she got back.

“Once she came back, she was on fire,” Harrison girls’ basketball head coach Al Ruiz said. “She was upset she missed those games. She wanted to make the most of it. I knew she had it in her. The injury really sparked her.”

The 5-foot-9 Lucas has worked hard to develop her game. She has become one of the most diverse players around, someone who could handle the ball, shoot from the perimeter and also go down low and post up to make shots.

“I wanted to become a well-rounded player,” Lucas said. “I also became a student of the game.”

“It’s been a big blessing,” Ruiz said. “The more she gets into playing a different position, the better the team gets. If she’s outside, the inside opens up for her teammates. If she’s inside, she can score there. It helps out the whole team and makes my job a lot easier. Just to have someone on the court that can do so much is a blessing. She can play anywhere on the court.” Lucas said that she spends a lot of time watching basketball on television, especially Duke in college basketball and the NBA.

It also helps that Lucas has had a personal coach in her father.

Ray Lucas is perhaps the greatest athlete to ever come from Harrison. He was a 2,000-point scorer in basketball, but made his mark in football, first thriving as the starting quarterback at Rutgers and later playing eight seasons in the NFL, most notably the Jets and the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

The elder Lucas, currently a television analyst on the SNY Network for Jets coverage, has served as a volunteer assistant coach with Ruiz for the last three years.

“It’s been amazing, having him as a coach and of course, as my dad,” Rayven Lucas said. “He’s a little tough, maybe tougher on me than the others. But there wasn’t a lot of pressure being his daughter. I think it’s been a lot of fun. It’s a perfect thing.”

What’s been perfect has been Lucas’ play of late. She’s kicked it into an extra gear. In the past week, Lucas had 23 points in a win over Glen Rock, 29 in a win over Dwight-Englewood and 25 in a win over Ridgefield. She also had nine rebounds in the Dwight-Englewood game. “I think I’m a lot more confident and I’m taking the ball to the basket more,” Lucas said. “I’m getting fouled a lot.”

For her efforts, Lucas has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.

Ruiz seems to think that Lucas’ scoring outburst stems from experience and maturity.

“I think she’s playing the same, but she’s just scoring more,” Ruiz said. “I think the experience and the maturity comes out of her now. I just hope it continues.”

The Blue Tide will face Brearley Regional of Kenilworth in the opening round of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I state playoffs this week.

“I think that Rayven has that sense of urgency, that we’re coming to the end,” Ruiz said. “I think Rayven and the other captains feel that way. I think they all feel it. But Rayven is really playing well and she’s helped us to be able to do a lot of things.”

Incredibly, Lucas didn’t arrive in Harrison right away. She first attended Jackson Memorial High School.

“I was a cheerleader in Jackson,” Lucas said. “I came to Harrison in the middle of my freshman year. But I didn’t have a hard time making new friends.”

When Lucas arrived, many of her classmates had no idea of her famous father.

“They didn’t know,” Lucas said. “Only the old-timers knew.”

But it’s coming to an end – and Lucas is ready for the next step, which will be playing basketball at Montclair State in the fall. Lucas made that decision official recently.

“It sure went by so fast,” Lucas said. “I have to thank my teammates, who made it possible. I’m going to miss it a lot. It’s been a lot of fun and the people at Harrison made it fun.”

“I think she’s going to leave a great legacy,” Ruiz said. “She’s a person who was athletic, but a very sociable and happy young lady. She definitely leaves her mark with the Blue Tide.”

Lucas, who earned First Team All-North Jersey Interscholastic Conference- Liberty Division honors last week for the second straight year, was asked if she knew she could have such a great scoring week.

“It surprised me a little bit, but my career best is 31,” Lucas said. “I think I knew I had it in me. As soon as I felt 100% again, I was ready to go.”

Real Estate Review

Rosa Agency realtors know value of education

Maria Candida Santos

Maria Candida Santos


Professional negotiation skills are a must for all real estate agents helping home buyers and sellers, especially in the current market.

Augusto Neno, broker and owner of Neno-Rosa Agency, announces that Paul DoSantos and Maria Candida Santos have been awarded the Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE) designation by the Real Estate Negotiation Institute (RENI). The CNE is earned by real estate professionals after successfully completing formal negotiation training from the Real Estate Negotiation Institute. Realtors who receive this certification are among the top 1% of all agents nationally.

With professional negotiation skills, agents are able to help clients obtain better results in the sale or purchase of their home. CNE agents have a powerful competitive edge because of their ability to 1) communicate effectively to uncover more information, 2) help clients understand their options, 3) work collaboratively with others, and 4) resolve deadlocks. CNE agents have a thorough understanding of how to negotiate effectively to help achieve their client’s goals.

Paul Do Santos

Paul Do Santos


The Real Estate Negotiation Institute is the leading negotiation training and coaching company in the real estate industry. Tom Hayman, the CEO and cofounder of the Real Estate Negotiation Institute, including 25 years with The Proctor and Gamble Company (Fortune 50 Company). Hayman asserts: “Any buyer or seller who hires a CNE agent can feel confident they have one of the best trained negotiators in real estate. They should achieve superior results and have better resolution of all issues when represented by a CNE agent.”

Paul Do Santos has received numerous Top Producer of the Month awards from Rosa Agency, was honored as Rookie of the Year by Rosa Agency in 2007 and awarded the NJAR Circle of Excellence for 2008-2011. Paul can be reached at 201- 206-0695 or view his website www.PaulSantosRealtor.com.

Maria Candida Santos has been with Rosa Agency since 2011 and has received numerous Top Producer of the Month awards. Candida is a full time realtor who can be reached at 908-577-7796.

Rosa Agency is an independently owned and operated real estate company with five local offices and over 100 agents. The Neno-Rosa Agency is located at 551-553 Kearny Ave. in Kearny and services Bergen, Hudson, Essex and Union counties. For more information, visit www.RosaAgency.com or call 201- 997-7860.