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Kearny UNICO nominates Basilone winner

Basilone Award winner General George J. Flynn (center) is flanked by Celeste Pandolfi and her husband, Kearny UNICO president Lou Pandolfi.


By Jeff Bahr

Observer Correspondent

Kearny UNICO is just one chapter of the many that comprise UNICO National – the largest Italian-American service organization in the United States. At their 2012 convention at Marco Island, Florida, however, Kearny’s input proved pivotal. That’s because the organization saw fit to nominate Lieutenant General George J. Flynn for the Basilone Award – a decoration that UNICO bestows upon the best of the best for their service to our country. It was an idea that bore great fruit.

The award is named for John “Manila John” Basilone, a U.S. Marine Gunnery Sergeant from New Jersey who fought and ultimately triumphed against incredible odds at the WWII battle at Guadalcanal.

As a leader, Basilone is credited with acting as a oneman militia by standing tough alongside his troops during the peak of a horrendously bloody battle – resupplying them with ammo and offering much-needed encouragement on that frightful night – before launching an individual surprise attack against his Japanese foes; an initiative that surprised and lessened their forces by some eight soldiers. At the end of the conflict, the U.S. Marines emerged triumphant and a new hero had been born.

Basilone voluntarily returned to fight again at Iwo Jima, but it was here that his luck finally ran out when he was cut down while leading a machine gun squad. For his uncommon efforts and demonstrated valor, Basilone was awarded the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross. He was the only Marine to receive both decorations during World War II.

The idea to nominate Flynn for the award came from Kearny UNICO President Lou Pandolphi and his wife Celeste, according to the General. When pressed as to why they chose him above other candidates, Flynn modestly suggested that I put the question to them.

But that wasn’t necessary. Flynn’s accomplishments speak volumes on the man’s behalf. Consider:

Born in Jersey City and raised in Rutherford, Lieutenant General Flynn felt a strong urge to serve his country. After graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1975, the driven man obtained a Master of Arts degree in International Relations from Salve Regina College, a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College, and a Master of Science degree in National Security and Strategy from the National War College. Additionally, Flynn is a Distinguished Graduate of the College of Naval Command And Staff and the National War College.

Flynn’s command assignments read similarly long and proud. He was a Commanding Officer, HQ Battery, 2nd Battalion, 12th Marines from 1979-1980; Commanding Officer, P Battery, 5th Battalion, 10th Marines from 1984-1985; Commanding Officer 5th Battalion, 10th Marines (1992- 1993); Commanding Officer, Officer Candidates School (1999-2001); Commanding General, Training Command (2002-2004); Commanding General, Training and Education Command (2006-2007), and a Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command from 2008-2011. General Flynn is currently assigned to the Joint Staff in the Pentagon as the Director of Joint Force Development. A laundry list of staff assignments round out his resume.

A resident of Kearny, Flynn’s sister, Patricia Triano, works as a nurse at Kearny High School. She’s grown used to her brother’s outsized list of accomplishments on America’s behalf, but that doesn’t mean that she’s unaware of his impactful contributions. “That’s my brother and I am proud of him!” she says.

“I knew about the award for about three months,” said the General. “It was received at the UNICO National Convention on August 11. I accepted Kearny UNICO nominates Basilone winner the award on behalf of all the great men and women who volunteer to serve our nation in the military. It is a true honor to receive an award that remembers a true Marine hero from New Jersey… John Basilone.”

Flynn is hardly a stranger to such recognition.

For his service in a number of different tours, he has received the Defense Superior Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster (the third highest award bestowed upon members of the U.S. military); The Legion of Merit with three stars; the Bronze Star; the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Navy-Marine Corps Service Medal with one gold star.

Why has Flynn committed himself so fully to the rigors of a life spent in the military?

“I have remained in the service because I love being a Marine,” explains the General in direct fashion. “I serve with great men and women and I believe in giving back for all the liberties we have in this great country.”

With these words, Flynn carries on proudly as he always has – the living and breathing embodiment of “service above self.” As the newest Basilone Award winner, this is only right and proper. “Service above self” just so happens to be UNICO’s motto.

Filth ebbs and flows on the Passaic River

“Things aren’t always as they seem.” I don’t know who first coined this phrase but in many instances it’s apt. It certainly rings true on the Passaic River, a place where a person can easily misread the waterway’s health based upon the time of their visit.

To wit: There are periods during the day that the Passaic River appears clean, and times that it looks like a cesspool. The difference between the two can be quite shocking.

Most everyone knows that the Passaic River has its problems. At various times, it has ranked amongst the most polluted rivers in America. Nasty chemicals like dioxin are embedded in its muck – insidious contributions from an unchecked industry that once ran roughshod over the region, using the river as its toilet.

But the Passaic River is supposed to be changing.

America’s “green” movement has ushered in protocols, laws and policies intended to clean up our waterways. These protective measures have never been more stringent, and the Passaic River was reportedly benefiting as a result.

If that’s true, it appears that our Passaic River never got the memo.

Many months back, as I was driving on River Road just north of the Belleville Turnpike, I saw a vile sight that reminded me of the focal point of a 1970s commercial where a Native American man tears up after witnessing a dying river.

Here, right before me, was a vast scene of floating filth. Plastic bottles, cups, plates, you name it, choked the river, for as far as my eyes could see. Not being an expert, I reckoned that the mess might have resulted from a recent storm. I’ve read that polluted tributaries and feeder creeks occasionally introduce such garbage into the Passaic. Was this an isolated incident?

I decided to keep an eye on the river to see if this was the case. Sadly, it wasn’t. In fact, seeing this mess seems like a 50/50 proposition; one day it will be there, the next it won’t.

I’ve noticed that the “plastic invasion” happens mostly during the morning hours. Later in the afternoon the crud forces mysteriously retreat. Tidal changes likely account for the timing element (the Passaic is tidal in nature from Newark Bay to Wallington), but this doesn’t hint at the origin of the filth.

If anyone knows anything definitive about this, I’d be interested in hearing from you.

Watching the Kearny rowing crew slicing through the water was a picture-postcard moment for me. It had me convinced that the Passaic River was on the mend. Is this true, or is my faith stream also polluted?

– Jeff Bahr

Still making do without key public school leaders in Kearny

By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent


When public school classes resume Thursday, Sept. 6, Kearny High School will have no principal at the helm. Nor will the district have a permanent district superintendent.

Cynthia Baumgartner, who served in the principal post for a year, left the district after the Board of Education voted April 30 not to renew her contract despite a favorable recommendation by the interim superintendent.

She applied for – and got – an administrative job with neighboring Harrison public schools.

In the intervening time, the Kearny school district posted for a replacement high school administrator but the school board never hired anyone from the list of applicants.

The district has operated with an interim superintendent since June 2011 after Frank Digesere resigned.

Former school trustee John Campbell, who is running for one of three seats on the school board in November, blasted the district for having failed to fill the two vacancies.

“I know we have three vice principals at the high school and, since schools are going to open Thursday, any one of those guys could take over – with a stipend to make up the difference in pay between positions,” Campbell said. “They all have knowledge of the building and can do the job.”

As for the top schools post, Campbell said: “We should’ve had a (permanent) superintendent in place six to nine months ago when most people in education are looking for school jobs. All the good (candidates) are gone now. We need someone who can shake people up here.”

Asked about the superintendent search, Bolandi said that process – and decision – is completely up to the board members.

“I have nothing to do with that,” he said.

Board President George King couldn’t be reached for comment.

During the summer, King said the board felt it had settled on someone to fill the slot but that individual bowed out.

As for the principal position, Interim Schools Superintendent Ronald Bolandi said: “The lead candidate pulled out and we only had two choices. The second choice could’ve done the job but we felt it would be better to have a bigger pool of candidates to make a selection.”

So Bolandi said the district would readvertise this month for a new batch of applicants and, in the meantime, “we’re looking at hiring an interim principal.”

Bolandi said he hoped to put the interim hiring on a fast track so that the board can conduct interviews of candidates and have someone in place by mid-September.

“I would hope to have someone (permanent) on board no later than New Year’s,” he said.

Asked why he would go the interim route first, Bolandi said: “The vice principals are doing a good job but we do need someone to control the building with the construction going on.”

The high school continues to undergo – in jerks and starts – a $37 million fix-up financed by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, the Federal Aviation Administration and state Department of Education designed to soundproof the 89-year-old building against the noise of low-flying planes, provide a new heating/ventilating/cooling system, more classrooms and new culinary arts section.

Starting this month, students and staff will, at various intervals, be rotating through portable classroom trailers stationed on the high school’s front lawn. Despite previous assurances by board staff that parents and students would know in advance what to expect, it now appears that nobody will know who will be initially occupying the trailer units until they report for the first day of classes and get their class schedules.

Bolandi said he would do everything possible this school year to see that things run as smooth as possible at the high school.

“I am going to see that department chairpersons will keep open the lines of communication with teachers and staff to get problems solved quicker and calm morale issues down.”

When Baumgartner made a public appeal to the school board in late June to reconsider her contract, she alleged that the district created health and safety hazards for students and staff by not dealing appropriately with dust and asbestos issues, arising from interior construction work.

But Bolandi said, “I’m not aware of anything toxic” at the high school. “Dust, yes,” he said.

This summer, district officials had expected to see the start of a key phase of the project – bringing in steel to erect in the old swimming pool section that was demolished to clear the way for the new classrooms – but that never happened. Bolandi now expects that the steel work will be done “next summer.”

In the meantime, Bolandi said the contractor, Brockwell & Carrington Contractors, of Towaco, can proceed with other phases of the job such as ductwork related to the installation of the new HVAC system.

“We’ve still got a ton of work they can do inside the building without disrupting classes,” he said.

Despite Rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, Bolandi said that students will still be able to attend physical education classes in those sections of the gym not being used for the storage of construction materials and equipment.

“We’re still on target to finish within our three-year build-out schedule,” Bolandi insisted.

Two administrative personnel issues settled by the school board on July 30 were: the appointment of Marilyn Kaplan as director of school-based youth services at $115,000 a year and of Justin Avitable as vice principal assigned to Franklin Elementary School, at $117,012 a year, both effective Aug. 1.

Avitable, a 1998 Kearny High graduate, was a manager in private industry before beginning his education career about eight years ago at his alma mater as a teacher of business education.

Avitable replaces Martin Hoff, whose appointment in that job wasn’t renewed by the school board, despite a favorable evaluation by the interim superintendent. Hoff exercised “bumping” rights to the job of high school fine arts chairman.

The N.J. Principals & Supervisors Association has appealed the board’s non-renewals of contracts for Baumgartner and Hoff to the state Department of Education (DOE) as “arbitrary.” It’s unclear when the DOE will act on the challenge.

Police reports go hi-tech in Nutley Don’t forget to follow The Observer on &

By Jeff Bahr

Observer Correspondent

With automation buzzing through our culture like a chainsaw through wood, perhaps it was just a matter of time until a police department – in this instance Nutley’s began to explore alternative (read that digital) methods for citizens to file reports and complaints within the department.

Proving that the future is indeed now, Nutley Mayor Alphonse Petracco, who is public safety director, has announced a new online police reporting option that was recently made available to the public.

Citizen Online Police Reporting will go where no other reporting method could ever hope to – straight to the computer keyboards of those wishing to file reports.

“It was kind of taking off on the west coast and all around the country,” explained Nutley Police Capt. Tom Strumolo of the system’s burgeoning popularity. “A lot of departments are starting to utilize this as an avenue to report non-emergency type stuff… So with that, our police commissioner, chief and mayor who are always up for finding easier and more efficient ways to provide services to the town, talked about it (the service). They were really onboard with it so we started doing it.”

The service represents the epitome of convenience to people who haven’t the time or inclination to drop by headquarters to file a report, according to Strumolo. It could also save citizens the annoyance of being placed on hold when a report is called in during busy periods.

But, says Strumolo, the new service is purely optional. It exists as an extra for those who’d prefer to file their reports online and in no way replaces the old tried-and-true call-in or walk-in procedures.

Actually, it’s somewhat misleading to call the new service new. New to Nutley is more accurate.

According to Coplogic Inc., the San Ramon, California based software firm that provides the service to the township, “100 agencies across North America” presently use the service and “hundreds of thousands” of police reports have been filed through the citizen online system. Many other companies also provide the service across the U.S.

The Desk Officer Online Reporting System was devised by an active duty police officer as a way to enable police departments – greatly stressed by economic cutbacks that have forced a lessening in their ranks – the ability to reallocate patrol and detective services where they’re most needed.

In a nutshell, the system acts much like a live desk sergeant by taking down pertinent report information on a standardized template, and then submitting it to the proper departments for review.

“There’s screens that the citizen will walk through and at the end it completes it all into a report,” said Strumolo about the system’s ease of use.

Incident types covered by the new service include thefts, vehicle burglary, lost property, harassing phone calls, I.D. theft/fraud, and crime tips, according to the department.

The public will be able to print a temporary copy of the report when they submit it. Police personnel will then review the report and, once it’s approved, an email message with a copy of the report attached will be sent to the sender without cost.

“The report will transfer into the Nutley Police Department’s records management system and receive the same investigation and statistical analysis ability as if the report had been filed by a police officer,” says the department.

Strumolo says that the system cost “$15,000 to get up and running” and will cost roughly $5,000 a year to maintain. When such expenditures are tallied against the cost of processing reports person-to-person, the system will save the department a great deal of money, says Strumolo.

The Nutley Police Department believes that users will embrace the system for its ease of use and convenience.

Fourth Annual Fashion’s Night Out will take NYC by storm Sept. 6


By Jennifer Vazquez

Observer Contributor

Mark your calendars and prepare your most fashion forward outfit -the night of all (fashionable) nights is fast approaching! Fashion’s Night Out will take place on Thursday, Sept. 6. That day, thousands of stores, worldwide, including New York –will celebrate the largest event of the year.

FNO is the bash where us “commoners” can rub elbows with editors from the most elite couture publications. This includes designers, models, modern-day fashionistas and celebrities –think a la Sarah Jessica Parker, Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham and the shoe designer to the stars Alejandro Ingelmo (I can attest to these sightings!).

It is no surprise that New York is one of the sites for this momentous night –after all not only is it a fashion mecca and regarded as the “Capital of the World,” but it is also the place where FNO was founded in a collaboration between the Council of Fashion Designers and Vogue -the magazine considered by many as the respected, be-all-and-end-all publication in the fashion realm.

If this fact doesn’t entice you, perhaps the mere thought of giveaways, collection pre-views and amazing deals on anything and everything –whether it be clothing, shoes, jewelry, purses, and whatever else your little fashion-loving heart desires –will grab your attention.

FNO starts around 6 p.m. and should last until roughly 11 p.m. Deciding where to go and what to do with these five hours seems like an overwhelming task. With all the events going on –how can one decide which to choose?

The masterminds behind FNO have done a great job of helping us out with this dilemma. On their official website, they list all the events that are taking place and where they are occurring. This way, one can plan ahead in due time. After creating an itinerary of the events that you are interested in, you can share these plans with your friends –via Facebook, Twitter and other social media. The plans can also be emailed directly to your friends.

There is a wide range of events you can take part in. For example, according to Yahoo!, Bloomingdale’s, (located on 1000 Third Ave) will be having pop-rock band Matchbox Twenty celebrating their new album North, which features their hit-song “She’s So Mean” (currently No. 8 on the Billboard Adult Pop Chart).

FNO’s official Twitter account for their NYC events. The opportunity to customize one’s very own Stella McCartney handbag at the namesake’s SoHo flagship store, was announced.

A giveaway that should be noted is that of the luxury Scandinavian jewelry brand, Georg Jensen USA. Their event titled “Grapes and Great Danes” will take place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Madison Avenue and 62nd Street. There will be complimentary signature cocktails, a live DJ performance and, best of all, the chance to win Grape jewelry throughout the entire evening!

Though you will see many luxury name brands or high-priced department stores, such as Bergdorf Goodman, hosting events, there are plenty of inexpensive clothing and accessory stores that will also take part in this night.

Not only are special deals and giveaways a common and expected sight around NYC during this night–but free drinks and special, delicious treats will be circling around most stores and boutiques taking part in this night.

I remember my first time taking part in FNO. It was two years ago and they were celebrating their second year. I was taken aback by all the drinks –ranging from champagne to steaming, hot cappuccino courtesy of on-sight baristas –that were being made available, everytime you entered a store. Alongside your choice of drink, they provided scones, cupcakes, other delicious, fresh pastries and hors d’oeuvres.

Yes, the fashion was gorgeous, however the “freebies” are always everyone’s favorite part!

FNO is a fantastic night to get your hands on a great deal and exclusive items. However, it is also a night when you can take in the wonderfully social atmosphere and the many things NYC’s fashion elite have to offer!

If you would like more information on FNO, visit www.fashionsnightout.com.

News from the Nutley Police blotter


Aug. 28

Daniel Silva, 45, of Newark, was given a summons for shoplifting at a local business at 5:54 p.m. after police said he was found to have three packages of a dietary supplement in his backpack that he didn’t pay for. Police didn’t identify the business.

A River Road resident told police someone damaged the door lock to their 2002 BMW during the night. No entry was gained to the vehicle, police said.

Someone broke the door lock and opened the front windows of a vehicle parked on River Road and removed a GPS unit and an iPod. The incident was logged at 12:14 p.m.

Aug. 27

The owner of a vehicle told police their car was damaged while parked in the lot of a local business not identified by police. Police said the owner told them that as shopping carts were being moved from the lot to the front entrance, a few carts came loose and rolled into their car, damaging the passenger door and front right panel. The incident was reported at 12:30 p.m.

Aug. 26

Residents of a Stager Street home reported a burglary at the house at 1:34 a.m. They told police they were pulling in the driveway when they spotted two men walking from the driveway while carrying a box and then they noticed that their rear basement door was wide open. The residents were uncertain whether anything had been taken.

Aug. 25

Two local businesses, not identified by police, reported suspected cases of theft by deception at 2:43 and 7:37 p.m., respectively. Police said the same mode of operation was reported in each instance: the suspect slipped merchandise from the store into bags and demanded cash refunds at the register. In each case, the business representative described the suspect as a tall black man, over 300 pounds, over 6 feet tall, wearing a white T-shirt and red shorts. Surveillance video from the stores are being reviewed by detectives, police said.

– Ron Leir

Stolen car chase ends in two arrests

Two men led police on a wild, high-speed car chase – and then a foot pursuit – Thursday, Aug. 30, ending when their car – stolen from a Kearny resident – crashed into a utility pole, then a building on Passaic Avenue and the pair fled into the weeds.

One was collared in the marsh and the other was plucked from the Passaic River, near the closed Clay Street Bridge.

Kalei Cheek, 19, of Newark, was charged with carjacking, eluding and several motor vehicle violations; Noel Johnson, 18, of Kearny, was charged with resisting arrest and receiving stolen property.

Police said the episode began at 10:30 a.m. when they received a report that someone had stolen a 2011 silver Infiniti that was left parked with the motor running on Seeley Avenue after the owner had tried to open the rear door as the thief was driving away.

After a radio alert and description of the vehicle was broadcast, police said Officer Adriano Marques spotted the Infiniti speeding southbound on Belgrove Drive heading towards his patrol car. Police said the Infiniti, driven by Cheek, went up on the sidewalk, narrowly avoiding the patrol car and continued south on Belgrove.

Police said Marques made a U-turn and began following the Infiniti as it headed west on Bergen Avenue. at an excessive speed. At that point, Marques gave up the chase, opting instead to radio the vehicle’s position to other police units.

At this point, police said, Sgt. John Taylor spotted the Infiniti southbound on Passaic Avenue at about 80 mph and positioned his patrol car to block egress from Belgrove to prevent traffic mishaps. Police said the Infiniti, heading toward Taylor, began fishtailing and careened off a utility pole before crashing into the old Jeep Co. building on Passaic Avenue.

Police said Cheek and Johnson abandoned the wrecked car and bailed out, mounting a railroad embankment, and scaling two cyclone fences, with Taylor and officers Chris Levchak and Joe Vulcano in pursuit. The chase continued through the Basso Container Co. property in East Newark on the river side of Passaic Avenue where the two suspects split up in the marsh, where the Kearny cops were joined by East Newark and Harrison P.D. and State Police Trooper Robert Ciewicz, a Kearny resident.

Taylor finally caught up with Johnson but Cheek jumped into the river and began floating toward the Clay Street Bridge, prompting officers to dispatch several police boats.

Kearny P.D. got bridge workers, involved with repairs to the closed span, to open the bridge gates so they could get access to the underside of the bridge after spotting Cheek hanging onto the pilings. However, after Cheek ended up in the water, police said a Newark P.D. fireboat piloted by Officer Ken Brown, also a Kearny resident, fished him out of the river at about 11:15 a.m.

Kearny Police Chief John Dowie commended Marques and Taylor for their actions. Dowie said Marques acted responsibly by giving up the chase to prevent the possibility of a highway crash that could have involved other vehicles and pedestrians. And the chief credited Taylor for his unselfish conduct by “putting himself in harm’s way” as the suspects’ car was zooming towards him. In other incidents logged by Kearny P.D. during the past week:

Aug. 28

A thief stole a 2011 Porsche after it had been cleaned at the Personal Touch Car Wash, at Beech Street and the Belleville Turnpike, at 5:45 p.m. Police said the car owner, a Bergenfield resident, had just exited the office after paying for the cleaning when she spotted a black man with dreadlocks getting into the Porsche and driving it east on the Pike. Police broadcast an alert to surrounding towns but the vehicle couldn’t be located.

Aug. 27

Police arrested Brian Sudziarski, 35, of Kearny, on various drug charges at 2:10 p.m. at Kearny Avenue and Patterson Street. Noticing him shaking, police said that when they approached, Sudziarski discarded a metal bottle cap that can be used for “cooking” drugs.

Police said he was also clutching an object that, upon inspection, turned out to be two glassine folds of suspected heroin stamped “American Greed.” Police said they also found a hypodermic needle on him.

Aug. 26

Omar Rosado, 36, of Kearny, was charged with DWI, operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated with a minor in the vehicle and failure to exhibit registration and insurance. Police said Rosado was weaving across the center lane while traveling south on Schuyler Avenue and, when he was pulled over on Bergen Avenue near King Street at 9:29 p.m., had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath.

Aug. 25

A man told police he was held up and robbed at gunpoint by three men on Chestnut Street near West Hudson Park at 8:30 p.m. Police said the robbers took the victim’s iPhone and his wallet and fled on foot. Searching the area, police said Officer John Fabula found someone matching the description of one of the suspects who was wanted on outstanding warrants from Newark and Essex County. He was held on the warrants.

Police were called to the Quick Check on Kearny Avenue at 4:40 a.m. after four customers were causing a disturbance. Police said the men wanted to buy cigarettes but the store clerk refused and asked them to leave. Police said Officer Tom Sumowski ordered them to go and two obliged but two refused. Police said one of the holdouts, David Doria, 22, of Harrison, began grappling with the officer and both fell to the floor, at which point Doria broke free and ran out of the store but Sumowski caught up with him around the corner on Chestnut Street and arrested him. Doria was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

– Ron Leir

Around Town


• A book discussion and lecture series about great science fiction authors will be held at Bloomfield Public Library, beginning on Sept. 22 at noon. Robert Heinlein’s “Green Hills of Earth” will be the topic of discussion. Ken Sibanda, a lawyer, film-maker and local science fiction writer will lead the discussion. Sibanda wrote “The Return to Gibraltar. “ He is currently filming, “V17,” a science fiction prequel to his feature film directorial debut, “Vindicator.” He gives readings and lectures on a variety of topics involving history and importance of the science fiction genre and the black narrative.

This series will continue on Oct. 27, with a discussion of Isaac Asimov’s “I, Robot,” HG Wells and “War of the Worlds” on Nov. 17 and Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” on Dec. 8. For more information on this event or upcoming programs please call (973) 566-6200, ext. 502.


• Trinity Episcopal Church, 575 Kearny Ave., in Kearny will host a fr ee, bilingual health screening, conducted in English and Spanish, on Saturday, Sept. 8, beginning at 10 a.m. Screenings, which will be conducted by nurses from Clara Maass Hospital, will include blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. Attendees should refrain from eating for two hours prior to the cholesterol screenings for best results, but it is not absolu tely necessary.

• There will also be a flea market that day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tables are still available at a cost of $15 each or two for $25. For more information, please call the church office at 201- 991-5894.

• Kearny Eagles #2214, 164 Midland Ave., Kearny, is sponsoring the start/ finish line for the Oct. 6 Walk-a-Thon for Pathways to Independence at 9 a.m. The Eagles are also accepting monetary donations and signing up members and friends to join them for the Walk-a-Thon. Feel free to stop with a check.

• Registration for the fall 2012 semester of the Kearny Adult School will be held on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 10, 11 and 12, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Main Office of Kearny High School, 336 Devon St. Brochures indicating course offerings are currently in the mail. If you did not receive one, you may pick-up a copy at The Observer, Kearny Library or the Kearny Board of Education office at 100 Davis Ave. For more information, call the Kearny Adult School at 201-955-1392.

• Kearny High School Class of 2002’s 10-year reunion will be held on Friday, Oct. 19 a t the Fiesta in Wood-Ridge, from 8 p.m. to 1 p.m., featuring a five-hour premium open bar, full buffet and entertainment.

Price is $77.50 per person ($155 with guest) and can be made via PayPal to kearnyhs2002@gmail.com.

Visit their Facebook page “KHS Class of 2002 Reunion” for more details.

• Kearny UNICO’s Italian Heritage Event is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 7. The event will be held fr om 1:30 to 5 p.m. at the Henrietta Benstead Senior Center on Columbia Avenue in Kearny. There is no charge to attend the event.

The committee planning the event is looking to include such activities as a mozzarella making demonstration, an Italian lesson, Italian songs and music, bocce play and rules, Italian food tastings and much, much more.

Although the event is provided free of charge, individuals interested in attending the event are asked to contact Joseph Sgalia at either 201-998-6879 or joeys1218@aol.com to reserve a seat. Anyone interested in learning more about – or joining – Kearny UNICO should also contact Mr. Sgalia.

• Kearny UNICO is sponsoring a fund-raising fall bus trip to the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Hotel in Atlantic City on Sunday, Sept. 23. Bus will depart at 8:30 a.m. from the parking lot of Kearny Federal Savings on Kearny Avenue in Kearny. Prior to departure, beginning at 7:45 a.m., coffee and refreshments will be served to all participants. For tickets, please contact Lou Pandolfi at 201-368-2409.

Registration is open for the Pathways to Independence Walk-a-Thon, to be held on Saturday, Oct. 6. The hour-long walk will begin at 10 a.m.

To participate, fill out a registration form, then ask friends, relatives or co-workers to sponsor you for the Walk-a-Thon, by pledging a specific dollar amount, $1 to $100 – whatever they want to give.

For registration forms, you may visit Pathways to Independence, 60 Kingsland Ave., Kearny (corner of Bergen and Schuyler avenues) or call 201-997- 6155 to have them mailed to you. Registration will also be open the day of the walk at the Schuyler Avenue entrance of West Hudson Park, starting at 9 a.m.

To encourage participation in the Pathways to Independence Walk-a-Thon, Investors Bank is sponsoring a free event T-shirt for each participant that turns in $100 or more in pledges. United Way of Essex and West Hudson is sponsoring the tote or sports bag for all participants that finish the race.

Pathways to Independence is a not-for-profit organization that has been providing life skills, job training and work for developmentally disabled individuals for the past 35 years and serves Hudson, Bergen and parts of Essex County. For more information, contact Alvin Cox, executive director of Pathways to Independence at 201-997- 9371, ext. 18.

• St. Cecilia Church, 114 Chestnut St. (school building), will have a flea market on Saturday, Sept. 8, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Furniture, small appliances, household items, toys, DVD’s and many more items. For more information, call 201-991- 116. Vendors are welcome. All proceeds benefit St. Cecilia Parish. Donations kindly accepted.

• Kearny UNICO will be holding its first membership meeting of this year on Thursday, Sept. 13, 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.

Kearny UNICO is a chapter within UNICO National, the largest Italian American service organization in the nation. Kearny UNICO supports scholarships, charities and the local community.

The West Hudson Arts & Theater Company (W.H.A.T.) will hold open auditions for its second season production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” on Thursday, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. at W.H.A.T.’s new home (the former St. Stephen School theater/auditorium),131 Midland Avenue, Kearny.

The production will run Friday and Saturday November 16 -17. Participants are encouraged to visit whatco.org for additional information including character profiles. They should also print out an audition form and fill it out before auditions; this information will be collected at registration on the days of auditions.

Participants do not need t o prepare a piece; auditions will consist of cold readings from the script. Sides for “Arsenic and Old Lace” can be downloaded from the website. To learn more about the West Hudson Arts & Theater Company, “Arsenic and Old Lace,” or W.H.A.T.’s 2012-2013 season, visit www.whatco.org, like them on FaceBook, or call 201- 467-8624.

A Wildwood vacation is scheduled, from Sept. 9 to 13, Sunday to Thursday, with a visit to Cape May and Atlantic City. Includes all meals and round-trip transportation. For information, call Mary at 201-998- 1030.


• Lyndhurst Masonic Club is hosting a crab night on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 6 p.m., featuring all-you-can-eat crabs and cole slaw and chicken for non-seafood lovers. Clams on the halfshell and steamers will also be available. Please RSVP. by Sept. 8 with ho w many people are coming with your party. Call 201-933-1330 and the club can call you back to confirm.

• The Food Pantry at the Lyndhurst Health Department will have new hours for the pantry beginning after Labor Day. The new hours are as follows: Monday through Thursday 1 to 3:30 p.m.

The Food Pantry is available for: Lyndhurst residents who are in need. Proof of Township residency is required. Documentation of hardship is required: for example, unemployment, welfare documentation, medical bills, food stamps, etc.

The Lyndhurst Food Pantry is replenished with the generous donations from the community. Donations can be dropped off during regular business hours.

If you know of a family in need, please ask them to call or visit the Lyndhurst Health Department Food Pantry, 253 Stuyvesant Ave. Lyndhurst VFW Post 3549, 527 Valley Brook Ave., will host a Karaoke Night on Sept. 4, from 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. For more information, call 201-939-3080. The VFW hall is also available for rentals for outside affairs.

• Mary Lou Mullins’ monthly bus trip to Atlantic City will be held on Sunday, Sept. 23, going to Resorts Casino. The bus will leave St. Michael’s Church, Lyndhurst, parking lot at 10:30 a.m. Please make reservations early. Call Mary Lou at 201-933-2186.

• A spaghetti dinner will be held at the Lyndhurst Masonic Club, 316 Riverside Ave., on Friday, Sept. 7, from 6 to 8 p.m. Dinner includes spaghetti with meatballs, hot/sweet sausage and salad and coffee. For information, call 201- 933-1330.

North Arlington

• “A month of hope” food drive is currently being held in North Arlington, collecting canned items, dry goods, bottled water, personal care products, etc. Families can make food donations by dropping their donation off at any of the drop off locations or if they wish to make a financial donation, they can call (201) 741-0881. Queen of Peace Parish (Food Pantry), 10 Franklin Pl.; North Arlington Town Hall, 214 Ridge Rd.; Minuteman Press, 75 Ridge Rd.; Knights of Columbus, 194 River Road; Mykonos Restaurant, 440 Ridge Rd.

• The American Legion Alexander P. Stover Post 37, 222 River Road in North Arlington, will meet on Sept. 10 at 8 p.m. All veterans are invited to attend. For information, call 201-214-8253.

• The Queen of Peace Knights of Columbus Council #3428 will hold its annual picnic on Sunday, Sept. 16, from 1 to 5 p.m., at the Council Hall, 194 River Road, North Arlington. The event is open to all.

You can obtain tickets at the Council Hall, at Queen of Peace Rectory, or by calling 201-997-2086.

All boys and girls ages 10 to 14 are invited to participate in the local level of competition for the 2012 Knights of Columbus Soccer Challenge. Sign-ups will be held at the Queen of Peace Knights of Columbus Council #3428’s Hall, 194 River Road, North Arlington, on Wednesday, Sept. 12, from 7 to 8 p.m. All registrants are required to bring a parent, or guardian, and proof of age. The local competition will be held on Sunday, Sept. 23, at 11 a.m. at the James Zadroga Memorial Soccer Field in North Arlington on Schuyler Avenue.


• Registration is open for Preschool Story Time at Nutley Public Library. Upcoming dates are: Sept. 12 and 26, at 9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Library patrons are invited to play Bridge every Tuesday at 1 p.m. No registration is required.

• Adult Scrabble Night will be held at the library on Thursday, Sept. 6, at 7 p.m. Prizes are awarded for first and second place scores. No registration is required. Registration is required for the library’s two-year-old story time, scheduled for Fridays, Sept. 14, 21 and 28 at 9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.

• “The Lucky One” will be shown at the library as part of its Friday Films program on Sept. 7 at 2 p.m. A new film is shown on the first Friday of each month. Please check the library’s event calendar for upcoming films.

• The library’s Saturday Story Time will be held on Sept. 15, 22 and 29 at 10 a.m. Registration is required.

•BabyGarten for infants and toddlers, from birth to 22 months, and their caregivers is scheduled at the library for Monday, Sept. 10, 17 and 24 at 9:30 a.m. and at 10:45 a.m. Enjoy great books, nursery rhymes, playtime, and meet other babies from the Nutley area. Registration is required.

The library will host P.J. Story Time on Monday, Sept. 10, 17, 24 at 7 p.m. – No registration required.

Teen Gaming will be held at the library on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 19, and 26 at 3 p.m.

Teen Video Game tournament will be held on Thursday, Sept. 13, 20, 27 at 3 p.m. at the library.

The library’s Manga/ Anime Club will meet on Friday, Sept. 14, 21, 28 at 3 p.m.

Kearny boys’ soccer looks for repeat of last year

Kardinals shoot for another state sectional crown

Photo by Jim Hague/ The Kearny boys’ soccer team, which won the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV title last year, looks for a repeat. Front row, from left, are Michael Dias, Joao Parreiras, Gabriel Freitas and David Villafuerte. Back row, from left, are Sebastian Ferreiro, Cristian Videiro and head coach Bill Galka.


By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

The Kearny High School boys’ soccer team enjoyed a season to remember in 2011, capped by winning the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV championship, the first state sectional title under the tutelage of head coach Bill Galka.

Although most of the players on that highly successful 18-6-1 squad have graduated, Galka is confident that the Kardinals have enough younger players to step in and lead the way.

“We had a great year last year and that’s something we always strive for,” Galka said.

“We did have a big turnover. For the most part, we only have two returning starters back. But we will use winning the state title as a reference point. We have some goals in mind. We’ll be able to do things with hard work.”

Galka said that he was pleased with what he’s seen during the preseason.

“We’re pretty happy so far,” Galka said. “We’ve seen some good things even with the large turnover. I’m getting a good handle on what we have. The kids have a good soccer IQ. We’ve done some good things in the scrimmages. We’re going to be a work in progress, no question. We’re going to have a lot of young guys on the field. They’re going to get quality playing time.”

The Kardinals are utilizing two players in goal, namely senior Cristian Vidreiro and talented sophomore Sebastian Ferriera.

“Cristian has been competing well and Sebastian has all the tools,” Galka said.

The Kardinals are abandoning the sweeper/stopper formation and will go four across instead.

The two center backs are senior Joao Parreiras and returning starter Gabriel Freitas.

“They have a good understanding together,” Galka said. “We have good experience back there and they’re very good with the ball.”

Junior Michael Dias is one of the other defenders and Galka likes the way Dias developed. The other defender is senior David Villafuerte, who has a lot of potential and skill.

The midfield features sophomore Danny Vicente, who saw a lot of action last year during the Kards’ state playoff run.

Senior Lucas Rocha has returned to the Kearny program after attending another school in North Bergen for two years, but did not play soccer. Rocha will also be part of the mix in the Kearny midfield.

The Kards took a major hit when talented Marcelo Borges was taken by the New York Red Bulls Academy, but they do have skilled freshman Marcelo Matta in the midfield, along with returning starter Angel Gonzalez, a senior, and sophomore Alexi Velasquez.

“Our midfield play has been pretty solid,” Galka said.

The Kards are going to miss the 27 goals provided by All-State performer Junior Batista, but Galka hopes to get that kind of scoring from three talented forwards.

“We’re hoping that they can make up for the goals that we lose with Batista graduating,” Galka said. “They do have a lot of promise.”

Junior Andres Pesantez got some good playing time last year and scored a handful of goals. He will be counted on to lead the way in the scoring department this season.

Fabricio DaSilva is a transfer from Brazil who comes to Kearny with a world of skill.

“He is a good target with good size and strength,” Galka said. “He’s a good player.”

The other forward is junior Kevin Tapia, who has excellent quickness and a nose for the ball.

The Kardinals open their season Sept. 6 against Memorial.

“I think this is going to be a different team,” Galka said. “But we have enough skilled players. We’re certainly going to be competitive from what I’ve seen. They have a good understanding of the game. We just need them to get to be together on the same page. If we do that, then we have a chance to be a pretty good team.”

And a team that should once again challenge for Hudson County and NJSIAA Group IV honors. Keep an eye on the Kardinals. They’ll be fun to watch once again.

Kearny girls: Poised for another great year

Photo by Jim Hague/ The Kearny girls’ soccer team looks to be a force again this season. Front row, from left, are Jessica Rodrigues, Ashley Castaneda, Alexis Castaneda, Laura Vilar, Amanda Eustice and Julie Dias. Back row, from left, are assistant coach Lauren Incorvaia, Chelsea DaSilva, Eliza Rodrigues, Dana Green, Ryelle Sada, Haley Durning, Amanda Sada, Noura Farih and head coach Vin Almeida.


By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

The Kearny High School girls’ soccer team enjoyed a 17-4- 1 season a year ago, capped by winning the Hudson County Tournament title for a third straight year and reaching the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV sectional semifinals, before dropping a tough 1-0 decision to Livingston.

Although the Kardinals lost Observer Female Athlete of the Year Stefanie Gomes to graduation, the Kards have enough talent returning to make a solid run at both the county and state titles.

“I’m certainly optimistic,” said head coach Vin Almeida, who begins his fourth year as head coach. “We should be a contender. It’s just a matter of seeing how good they become.”

Leading the way for the Kardinals is senior midfielder Katie O’Neill, who has already given a verbal commitment to play at the University of Binghamton next season.

“Wherever she goes, we go,” Almeida said of the talented O’Neill, who scored 21 goals and had 18 assists last year. “She’s fantastic. We’re hoping that she becomes a leader and she’s able to raise the level of the athletes around her.”

Almeida said that when he was a student at St. Benedict’s Prep, he watched superstar Claudio Reyna do the same thing, make everyone around him better.

“That’s what we’re hoping with Katie,” Almeida said. “We’re going to push her for a little something extra and hope that she can have the same effect that Claudio had on my teammates at St. Benedict’s. She’s a special player. She has already taken on the leadership qualities and the change has been noticeable.”

There’s no question that O’Neill is the best player in this area and should be a candidate for All-State honors. She’s that good.

The Kardinals’ strength lies in their midfield, with junior Nicole Kelly also returning. Kelly scored four goals last year and that number should increase tremendously.

“Nicole is looking very good so far,” Almeida said. “She did a lot of weight training in the offseason and it’s paid off. You can see with her strength and stamina on the field. I think she’s going to step up and be more of a scorer this year. She’s very dangerous.”

Senior Noura Farih saw a little action last year in the midfield. Almeida thinks she’s the enforcer, the tough defender, among the talented midfielders. Sophomore Kathleen Dos Reis has been a pleasant surprise.

“She’s very skilled and very tough,” Almeida said of Dos Reis. “She has great vision on the field.” A pair of sophomores, Taylor Monroe and Salma Bahzidi, will also see time in the midfield.

The Kardinals also have strength in the back line. Senior Haley Durning, perhaps the best all-around athlete in Kearny, returns to her spot in goal.

“I think she’s comfortable being there now,” Almeida said of Durning, who is also a track and field standout. “Last year, we were inexperienced in goal and Haley stepped up and decided to take on the responsibility. She did a fantastic job. Now, she’s a lot more comfortable there and she’s going to have a great season. I know she’s good in track, but she has a lot of potential as a goalkeeper.”

Sophomore Amanda Eustice is the team’s sweeper.

“She started at right back last year as a freshman, but she’s very confident back there. In fact, she’s a machine. She never gets tired. It’s difficult to get by her. Even for someone who is small, she’s a relentless defender.”

Sophomore Dana Green is the team’s stopper.

“We like her there because she’s big and strong,” Almeida said. “She’s comfortable in that position.”

The other defenders are senior Jamie Carlin, who saw some action last year, and the Rodrigues sisters, sophomore Eliza and senior Jessica, although Jessica is battling a knee injury right now.

Up front, the Kardinals will count on junior Melissa Pineda, who started last year alongside goal machine Gomes.

“I’m hoping that Melissa learned a lot playing there last year,” Almeida said. “She’s been fantastic so far.”

Sophomore Barbara Taiva, who Almeida said has a “terrific shot and she’s very skillful,” will play forward as well, along with freshman Amber Crispin, who has both talent and potential.

Almeida likes what he sees.

“It’s always good to have talent, but you need to be disciplined as well,” Almeida said. “I’m optimistic with the potential we have. It may get a little frustrating early, but as the season goes on, we can operate like we have in the past few years. We have a lot of talented young kids. Overall, I’m encouraged.”

The Kardinals open their season Thursday against Memorial of West New York.