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

Belleville Elks Lodge 1123, 254 Washington Ave., holds a blood drive Saturday, April 11, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Donors must be age 17 or older, be in good health and weigh at least 120 pounds. All donors must eat a light meal before donating blood, bring a signed form of identification and know their social security number.


Adult crafters of all ages are welcome to join a craft program at Bloomfield Public Library, 90 Broad St., April 8, 6 to 7:30 pm., to make denim pouches. Bring an old pair of jeans (2 legs would yield six to eight pouches), thread, needles, scissors, buttons, etc. Registration is required. To register, call the Reference Desk at 973-566-6200, ext. 602.


Holy Cross Church sponsors the following trips:

  • The group takes a nonstop United Airlines flight from Newark Airport Wednesday, April 29, at 7:15 a.m., to Las Vegas, and returns Thursday, May 5, at 6:15 a.m. The group will stay at Harrah’s Hotel and Casino. The $771 per person cost covers air, hotel and taxes. A $250 per-person deposit is required to guarantee reservations. Call Gina at European Travel, 973-484- 4023, or Joan at 973-481-2434.
  • The group takes a bus trip to the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City Sunday, April 12. The bus leaves from Holy Cross School at 10 a.m. Refreshments will be served in the school basement starting 9:15 a.m. Cost is $30 with a $30 rebate (ID required). For reservations, call Joan at 973-481-2434 or Maria at 973-481-1799 (Leave name, phone number and number attending).


Grace Lutheran Church, 223 Ridge Road, invites the community to attend Holy Week services and meet the new pastor, the Rev. Glenn L. Boisclair. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services begin at 6 p.m. Easter Sunday service is at 9 a.m.

Kearny Lions Club hosts a brotherhood luncheon Wednesday, April 22, at noon, at the Salvation Army, 443 Chestnut St. For more information, call Joann at 201-998- 3018.

Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., screens: “The Sound of Music” (G / 174 minutes) Tuesday, April 7, at 1 p.m.; “Into the Woods” (PG / 125 minutes) Friday, April 10, at 1 p.m.; and “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” (PG / 81 minutes), Saturday, April 11, at 11 a.m. All films will be shown on the library’s lower level. Donuts and light refreshments will be served. Admission is free. For more information on any library programs, call 201-998-2666 or visit www.kearnylibrary.org.


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

Lyndhurst Health Department conducts a free eye screening, including a check for glaucoma, for Lyndhurst residents ages 18 and over, Wednesday, April 15, at 1 p.m.

For an appointment, call 201- 804-2500.

Kingsland Lyndhurst AARP Chapter 4866 sponsors its annual entertainment night, Tricky Tray and raffles Thursday, April 16. Doors open at 6 p.m. The show features music of the ‘50s and ‘60s. No alcohol is permitted. Admission is $20. For tickets and more information, call Jo Oleske at 201-438-2118 or Kay Roberts at 201-438-3611.

Lyndhurst Boy Scout Troop 86 has launched its co-ed Venture Crew for all boys and girls, aged 14-20. The Crew is youth-led, but relies on knowledgeable, experienced and trained adult men and women volunteers for sound guidance and advice. Meetings are held at 8 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month at the United Presbyterian Church of Lyndhurst, 511 Ridge Road (entrance off Page Ave.), across from St. Michael’s Church. Among the outdoor activities are: horseback riding, camping and BBQs. Interested youth and parents are invited to call Crew President Joe Shinnick at 201 275-2884 or email him at jmusic171@aol.com. For more information, visit beascout.scouting.org.

The N.J. Meadowlands Commission holds its First-Sunday-of- the-Month nature walk, with the Bergen County Audubon Society, Sunday, April 5, 10 a.m. to noon, in DeKorte Park, starting outside the Meadowlands Environment Center. Participants are asked to sign a standard liability release that is good for NJMC/BCAS events throughout the year. To register, email Don Torino of the BCAS at greatauk4@gmail.com or call him at 201-230- 4983.

Lyndhurst Public Library Children’s Room, 355 Valley Brook Ave., hosts the following events:

  • Grades pre-k to 2 are invited for a walk-in storytime Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. No registration is required.
  • Children ages 3 to 10 can learn about caring for our planet with Muscle Man Mike’s “Going Green” (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) Show Wednesday, April 15, at 3:30 p.m. Registration is required. To register, call 201-804-2478.

Lyndhurst Knights of Columbus host “A Taste of Poland” Saturday, April 18, at 2 p.m., at the Senior Center, 250 Cleveland Ave. Tickets are $15. For tickets, call Steve Cortes at 201-657-0800 or Nick Garafalo at 201-893-2849. Lyndhurst Girl Scouts, Lyndhurst Girls Association and the Township will honor Libbie Lindsay for her 88 years of service and leadership in the Lyndhurst Girl Scouts Saturday, April 25, at 11 a.m. (rain or shine), at the Girl Scout meeting house, 238 Livingston Ave. For more information, email teresa.casadonte@gmail.com.

Ladies Auxiliary of the Masonic Club hosts its annual Tricky Tray on Sunday, April 12, at the Masonic Club, 316 Riverside Ave. Doors open at noon. Calling starts at 1 p.m. Admission is $5. For more information, call Kathy at 201- 997-1997.

North Arlington 

North Arlington Seniors, Inc. (Tuesday Club) sponsor a trip to Sands Casino in Pennsylvania April 9. The group leaves from Borough Hall at 9 a.m. Non-members are welcome. Call Rose Florio at 201-991-2423.

North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Road, has passes for the Museum of the City of New York. Each pass allows two adults and four children access to this museum. Requirements to borrow: $50 cash deposit and an adult library card in good standing. http://www.mcny.org/

The library also offers passes to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City. One pass allows up to six people admission to the museum. Requirements to borrow: $50 cash deposit and an adult library card in good standing. http://www.intrepidmuseum.org.

To check availability, visit or call the library at 201-955-5640.

The North Arlington Volunteer Emergency Squad hosts its annual Easter Egg Hunt Saturday, April 4, at noon, at North Arlington Middle School on Beech St.

The event includes games, prizes, and photo opportunities with the Easter Bunny, so don’t forget your cameras!

If it rains, the event will be held in the gym.

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

  • Story Time, open to ages 2 to 5, takes place every Wednesday at 11:45 a.m. April 15 Story Time will be held at Barnes and Noble in Clifton.
  • The sixth annual George Miller Art Show is set for Thursday, April 2, at 6 p.m.
  • The Lego Club for grades 1 and up meets Tuesday, April 7, at 6:30 p.m.
  • Spring Story Time and Craft for ages 4 to 6 takes place Thursday, April 9, at 2 p.m.
  • YA Movie Day, open to grades 6 and up, is set for Friday, April 10, at noon.
  • Music and Movement, open to ages 2 to 4, is scheduled for Tuesday, April 14, at 11:45 a.m.
  • Flat Stanley program with the West Hudson Art and Theater Company for grades K to 5 is set for Tuesday, April 14, at 4:30 p.m.


The Women’s Initiative of Nutley presents the Art Exhibit of Women’s History Month at the Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive, throughout March and April.

The exhibit spotlights the oil, watercolor, pastel, pencil and photography of local artists Susan Farr, Jackie Hanlon, Margot Parker, Teresa Ruffo, Edith Sirmons and Dianne Louise Wilson. All have won awards in local, regional and national competitions.

Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive, announces:

  • Children of all ages and their caregivers are invited to put on their pajamas and meet in the children’s room for P.J. Story Time on Mondays, April 6, 20 and 27 at 7 p.m. Registration is not required.
  • Patrons are invited to play bridge at the library every Tuesday at 1 p.m. No registration is required.
  • Lego Club for Kids, open to ages 7 and up, meets on Thursday, April 9, at 3:30 p.m. Registration is required.
  • Two-Year-Old Story Time, open only to Nutley children ages 24 to 35 months, is set for Friday, April 10, at 9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Registration is required.
  • The next installment of the First Friday Films series continues with a screening of “And So It Goes” (PG-13), starring Michael Douglas, Friday, April 10, at 2 p.m.
  • Author Anthony Buccino will sign and discuss his new book, “Nutley Notables: The Men and Women Who Made a Memorable Impact on Our Home Town, Nutley, New Jersey,” Saturday, April 11, at 2 p.m. Be on the lookout for some Nutley notables in attendance!
  • Tuesday Night Graphic  Novel Club meets April 14 at 7 p.m. to discuss “Batman: The Killing Joke.” Copies of  each book are available at the library. Register online at nutleypubliclibrary.org/graph icnovelclub or by phone at 973-667-0405, ext. 2604.
  • A Butterfly Tea, open to ages 3 to 12, is set for Wednesday, April 15, at 2 p.m. Regis tration is required online at http://nutleypubliclibrary.org/ youthservices/.
  • Children ages 12 and younger are invited to paint  a butterfly flower Thursday, April 16, at 11 a.m. Registration  is required.
  • The Butterfly Guy will  visit on Tuesday, April 14, at 1:30 p.m. This program is open to all ages. No registration is  required.

For more information or to register for programs, call the  library at 973-667-0405.

Kardinals loom as one of Hudson County’s diamond dandies


By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer 

The Kearny High School baseball team won 13 games last spring, but head coach Frank Bifulco knows that the Kardinals will be vastly improved over a year ago.

“I think we can build on what we did last year,” said Bifulco, who enters his fourth year as head coach. “Hopefully, we can continue to rise. We’re not taking any steps back. We have a team that can contend and the kids believe that as well. We can’t hide anymore. Things are a little different now than what we’re used to. The expectations are higher.”

The Kardinals welcome back junior left-hander Corey Sawyer, who made a huge splash last season. Sawyer won four games and posted a 1.27 earned run average, but three of the wins were memorable, because he fired a perfect game and two no-hitters.

“It was nice that he threw three no-hitters last year, but that means nothing now,” Bifulco said. “He has work to do and needs to continue. I think he’s become more of a complete pitcher. He’s made major strides in the offseason. He’s worked on all of his pitches and he’s ready to control the game.”

Senior Josue Rodriguez is also back. The right-handed Rodriguez won three games last year.

“He knows he hasn’t pitched his ‘A’ game yet,” Bifulco said. “He came in last year as our ace and has the ability to be our ace. With those two guys, Corey and Josue, we feel we match up with anyone else in the county. We expect to win when they pitch. Josue pitches to his strength and leads by example.”

Junior Connor McClelland is the team’s next best starter. The right-handed McClelland is a talented hurler with a lot of potential.

“We’re looking for him to step up and take some of the slack off Corey and Josue,” Bifulco said. “He’s going to be a good pitcher.”

So will sophomore righty Ryan Tully, who has all the talent in the world, both on the mound and at the plate.

Senior lefty Louis Sandomenico and senior righty Adam French round out the extremely deep pitching staff.

“I like the depth we have,” Bifulco said. “The younger ones are going to come. We know we have guys who can throw and can be successful.”

The team’s catcher is senior Aaron Gonzalez, who spent last year as the backup to former Kardinal standout T.J. Witt.

The first base duties will be shared by senior Johnathon Silva and junior Joseph Esteves. Both have shown promise during the limited preseason workouts and scrimmages.

French will spend most of his time at second base.

Junior Joseph Baez, the leading scorer on the Kearny basketball team this winter, is the baseball team’s shortstop.

“He’s a very good baseball player,” Bifulco said. “He just needs to stay focused and needs to stay composed all the time. If he can understand that, we’re going to be a much better team.”

Rodriguez will play third base when he’s not pitching. He batted .372 last year.

Senior Mike Hyde is the starting left fielder. Hyde batted better than .330 last year, but more importantly he had a .615 on base percentage.

“When he gets on base, a lot of good things can happen for us,” Bifulco said. “He’s our leadoff hitter or No. 2 hitter. He’s become a nice leader for us. The rest of the team naturally gravitates to him.”

Sawyer will play centerfield when he’s not on the mound. When Sawyer is pitching, junior John O’Neill mans centerfield.

McClelland plays right field. He batted .325 as a sophomore last year.

Junior Benedict Cowan, Jr. is the Kardinals’ resident jack-ofall- trades, seeing time in the outfield and as a designated hitter.

“I’m looking for him to do a nice job with his role,” Bifulco said.

The Kardinals also have Alex Molina playing a utility role and Zak Mostafa as the team’s back-up catcher and another utility bench player.

The aforementioned Tully will serve a key role, not only as a pitcher, but as a second baseman and shortstop as well.

“He can play any position well,” Bifulco said. “I think good teams need to have good bench players. I think we have guys off our bench who can help us.”

The Kardinals are slated to open the 2015 season against Memorial Wednesday at 4 p.m. They also face St. Anthony Friday and square off against neighboring rival Harrison Saturday afternoon. It pits former teammates and close friends Bifulco and Jairo Mendez against each other. Mendez is the head coach at Harrison.

“Anything I miss, Jairo lets me know,” Bifulco said.

The Kardinals have a ton of potential.

“The expectations are high,” Bifulco said. “I expect us to make a deep run in the county tournament. I know we can do better in the states. They know what’s expected of them. They know they have promise. We have a good lineup, good pitching. We also have a tough schedule, so we have to see what happens.”

Count on the Kardinals to be more of a regular competitive force in the Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic League and the NJSIAA state playoffs.

Harrison softball turns to veteran coach Ronga as leader


By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

After spending last spring away from coaching softball for the first time in more than 20 years, Carmine Ronga knew one thing. He was bored silly.

“I was sitting around the house and doing nothing,” said Ronga, who was the head softball coach at Hoboken High School for a quarter century. “I was going out of my mind.”

Ronga said that he religiously reads the local papers and saw advertisements for schools looking for a softball coach.

“I applied for some of them and I got a lot of reactions from them,” said Ronga, who won his share of HCIAA Seglio Division championships and Hoboken’s first-ever NJSIAA state sectional championship back in 2007. “Out of all the schools that contacted me, Harrison was the most intriguing.”

Ronga admitted that he didn’t know much about Harrison.

“I was unaware of the school’s facilities,” Ronga said. “When I first came out to the school, I didn’t realize it was brand new. I just fell in love with the place on first sight. I felt so comfortable here, so that’s why I took the job.”

So despite the fact that the Blue Tide won all of five games last year, Ronga was ready for the next chapter in his coaching life.

“I knew it was going to be a challenge,” Ronga said. “But I was looking for a place that would interest me, a place that would get my juices flowing again. It was a great fit. The school wants to have a competitive softball program. Kim (McDonough-Huaranga, the school’s athletic director) is enthusiastic about wanting to have a good softball program. I was taken aback by the facility. It’s the best kept secret in Hudson County. It’s conducive to bringing the best student/ athletes out to play softball.”

Added Ronga, “It’s going to be a work in progress, but I feel that there’s a lot of promise here.”

One of the things that Ronga requested was to start a softball program in the middle school. That has been taken care of, with former Harrison basketball and softball standout Kim Nicosia Morillo taking over those reins.

“I wanted to be able to change the culture a little with making softball a good alternative for the girls,” Ronga said. “The turnout was fantastic. We had 57 girls try out for the high school teams and another 30 or so were there for the middle school. That’s a tremendous turnout for a school this size. So the interest is definitely there. Hopefully, we can keep the interest there.”

Ronga has already thoroughly enjoyed his time with the girls of Harrison.

“It’s really brought me back to life,” Ronga said. “The kids are like sponges. They want to learn. They hustle for everything. They all have great attitudes. It makes it a pleasure to go to practice every day. They’re so enthusiastic. They bought into our strategy and philosophy. It’s really a great bunch of kids.”

Ronga said that he has inherited six players back from last year’s team that struggled.

“But they have come in with a new attitude,” Ronga said. “Maybe it’s because there’s a new coach and it’s a new team. I don’t know.”

Ronga has yet to decide on a No. 1 pitcher just yet. He’s still looking at senior Fayth Hartkopf and sophomore Alexia Garrison.

“It’s pretty even right now between the two of them,” Ronga said. “Right now, I’ll split them. It all comes down to who throws more strikes. That one will get the nod.”

The catcher is senior Gina Miranda, who has the perfect makeup to be a backstop. She’s energetic and alive behind the dish.

“She’s also a very good athlete,” Ronga said.

Senior Kayla Ortiz is the team’s first baseman and she has a distinction.

“We call her ‘The General,’ because she’s the one in charge,” Ronga said. “She’s definitely the team leader. I can see her someday becoming a coach. That’s how much she’s into it. She really helps me out.”

Senior Renee Clifford is the team’s second baseman, moving over from shortstop where she played last year.

Sophomore Betzaida Gutierrez is a newcomer, a transfer from South America who has really grabbed Ronga’s heart and attention.

“She’s probably our best athlete,” Ronga said. “She’s super fast.”

Freshman Jailyn Montilla is the third baseman. She’s one of three Montilla sisters on the Harrison softball roster this season.

Junior Destiny Martinez is the leading candidate to start in left field, although Garrison might get the nod if she’s not pitching.

Senior Kayla Montilla is the Blue Tide’s centerfielder. She’s the second of the three sisters and maybe the most talented.

“I think she can be our best all-around player,” Ronga said. “She has a lot of speed. She’s our leadoff hitter, so she has to get on base. She has a great personality and she’s a pleasure to coach.”

The third sister is right fielder Abigail Montilla, who is a junior. You know the old saying, “Three is better than one.” Well, it fits for Ronga and the Blue Tide.

The Blue Tide has a host of players to call from on the bench, namely senior infielder Arianna Estremera, junior infielder Caitlin Bond and freshman first baseman Chelsea Ramos.

Ronga is particularly pleased with freshman Kierrah Lucas, the niece of former Jets quarterback and current TV analyst Ray Lucas.

“She’s just a very good athlete,” Ronga said of Lucas, who will also be developed as a pitcher.

The Blue Tide was scheduled to open their season and the Ronga era against Paterson Charter Wednesday. They then had games with McNair Academic on Saturday and Queen of Peace Monday.

Ronga wanted to give credit to his assistant coaches Danielle Labriola, the former head coach at Ridgefield, Jose Ponjoan and Howard Thompson. He was also happy to find Nicole Smith already teaching at Harrison. Smith was a former standout pitcher during her high school days at North Bergen and beat Ronga’s Hoboken team twice.

“We have good kids and a good staff,” Ronga said. “We’re ready.”

Vikings look to improve with solid pitching staff


By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer 

As he begins his eighth season as the head baseball coach at North Arlington High School, Paul Marcantuono knows one thing. This year’s team has to be better than last year’s.

A year ago, the Vikings won all of three games. That’s not a lot to be excited about.

“We had a lot of sophomores on the team and only one senior,” Marcantuono said. “We kind of knew what we had and that we were going to take some lumps.”

But the calendar year has turned – and frankly, so have the hopes of the Vikings.

“Looking forward, we have the talent to make that losing stop,” Marcantuono said. “We have all of our pitchers returning.”

The pitchers worked hard in the offseason, receiving private lessons from the people at Wladyka Baseball, including former New York Mets farmhand Jim Wladyka.

“They put in the time during the winter,” Marcantuono said. “It’s good to know that we have a pitching staff that we can work with for the next couple of years.”

Leading the way is junior left-hander Brian Costello, who ended up having the lowest earned run average on the team and pitched for the Vikings in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I playoffs.

“He’s gotten stronger and put on more muscle,” Marcantuono said of Costello. “He looks good.”

Junior righty Joel Silva also returns from last year. Silva, who is also a solid outfielder, has worked with new assistant coach Bruce Daddis on becoming more of a pitcher and less of a pure thrower.

“They’ve really spent a lot of time together,” Marcantuono said of Silva and Daddis. “It’s been an easy transition. The pitchers had to refine their skills and learned how to pitch.”

Both Costello and Silva were clients at Wladyka.

“They’ve gotten better, but they already had the talent,” Marcantuono said.

Junior right-hander Timmy Ford, the basketball standout, and sophomore righty Charles Kearney complete the starting staff.

“Those four are the ones who will carry us pitchingwise,” Marcantuono said.

The Vikings have three catchers that they can use in junior Stephen Carey, junior Chris Giaquinto and sophomore Angel Santos.

“Stephen has worked very hard to get better,” Marcantuono said. “He has improved a lot. Angel is a versatile player who can play all over. Chris is one of our better hitters. We have to find a spot for him in our lineup.”

Costello plays first base when he’s not pitching.

The second baseman is senior Anthony Rotondo, the lone senior on the team.

“I don’t think he made a single error at second base last year,” Marcantuono said. “I like his glove, but I also like the leadership he provides. He’s the captain. I love his knowledge of the game. He’s probably the smartest baseball mind I’ve ever coached.”

That last comment says a lot, because Marcantuono has had his share of very bright ballplayers.

The shortstop is junior Ismanuel Mora, who is one of the best fielding shortstops around.

“He showed some flashes of brilliance last year, stepping into the varsity role as a sophomore,” Marcantuono said. “I have no doubt about the shortstop position for us for the next couple of years. He loves the game. Mora also worked hard in the offseason.”

The third baseman is Kearney, who is the team’s No. 5 hitter.

“He has a little bit of power,” Marcantuono said. “He’s also one of the hardest working kids I’ve ever seen. I’ve never heard him utter a bad word.”

Ford is the team’s centerfielder.

“He has a strong arm out there,” Marcantuono said. “If a ball is hit to him, he’s going to catch it. He’s our No. 2 hitter and he puts the bat on the ball.”

Junior left fielder Elias Aguilar returns to the Viking roster after missing all of last year with a broken hand. Junior right fielder Will Pimentel is what Marcantuono labeled “a very coachable kid who is serviceable,” Marcantuono said.

Santos and Giaquinto are players who can also help in the outfield.

Sophomore John Policano is a reliable and serviceable player who can come off the bench.

There are other things to be excited about the Vikings, despite the veteran roster.

The Vikings will play their home games at the newly restored Rip Collins Field and its new FieldTurf facility.

“It definitely helps,” Marcantuono said. “We had the luxury of having the turf. Others are calling us to see if they can get on the field. If it rains all day, we can still get on the turf and ready to go.”

The Vikings were set to open their season at Rip Collins Wednesday against Lincoln. They were off to face University Charter in Jersey City Thursday.

No question, the Vikings will be improved.

“We’re going to be better,” Marcantuono said. “We’re way better than we were last year.”

They have to be.


George Dock 

George Dock, 92, died on March 24 at St. Luke’s Hospice in Bethlehem, Pa.

Arrangements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Drive. A funeral Mass was offered at St. Stephen’s Church, Kearny, followed by interment in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington. Condolences and memories may be shared at www.thiele-reid.com.

Mr. Dock was born in Paisley, Scotland. He immigrated to this country in 1952 and lived in Kearny ever since. George was a bricklayer for the International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers’ Local 4 for many years.

He was a founding member of the Kearny Celtic Supporters Association of Kearny in 1963 and served as its first president. George was also a proud member of the Kearny Irish American Club of Kearny and served as secretary. In 1974, the Celtic Supporters made the Irish American Club their permanent home. Mr. Dock worked alongside his wife Margaret as they owned and operated the Kearny Health Food Center from 1969 to 2001. In 1972 he donated six months of his time as a brick layer to help build Elks Camp Moore in Haskell, a camp for handicapped children and veterans.

Mr. Dock is survived by his daughter Sharon McKeown and his grandson Edmund McKeown.

He was predeceased by his wife Margaret (Gaffney) Dock in February 2010.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to St. Stephen’s Church, Kearny.

George F. Dreker 

George F. Dreker, 88, died on March 23 in the New Jersey Firemen’s Home in Boonton.

Arrangements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral Mass was offered at St. Cecilia Church, Kearny, followed by interment in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington. Condolences and memories may be shared at www.thiele-reid.com.

George was born in Kearny and was a lifelong resident.

He served in the U.S. Navy from 1945 until 1947 and was a firefighter for the town of Kearny for 31 years, retiring Dec. 26, 1992.

He was member of the N.J. State Firemen’s Association, the Kearny Firemen’s Relief Association, the Hudson County Firemen’s Home Association, the N.J. State Exempt Firemen’s Association, the Hudson County League of Exempt Firemen, the Kearny Firemen’s Exempt Association and the Kearny FMBA Local 18.

St. Cecilia Church in Kearny was a huge part of George’s life where he was a member of the Holy Name Society, an usher and a bingo volunteer. The church named him its “Man of the Year” in 1998.

George is survived by his daughter Dorothy Schmieder (Richard); four grandchildren, Theresa Grassey, Roseanne Farrell, Richard J. Schmieder Jr. and Katherine McCabe; and nine great-grandchildren.

He will be missed by his cousins Cecilia Horn and Sister M. James; and his nephew Thomas Dreker. George was predeceased by his wife Dorothy R. (Forbes) Dreker; his daughter Dolores Fargano; and three brothers Frederick, James and Bernard Dreker.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the New Jersey Firemen’s Home, 565 Lathrop Ave., Boonton, N.J. 07005 or at www.njfh.org.

John Munro 

John Munro, of Kearny, died March 27. He was 88.

Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held at the funeral home followed by a private cremation. www.armitagewiggins.com

John was a devoted husband and father. Married to the late Georgina (nee Shivers) he was the father of Pauline (Thomas) Austin, John (Denise) Munro, Gerald (Gina) Munro, Gary (Tammy) Munro and the late Andrew Munro. He is also survived by 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

John was born in Glasgow, Scotland, Feb. 14, 1927. He and his family moved to Kearny in 1963. He was a longtime member of The Scots American Club and an avid soccer fan who always supported the hometown Kearny High School Soccer, Scots American and Thistle teams. John served in the British Army Royal Engineers during World War II. He worked for Imperial Photo Graphics in Belleville for 30 years, retiring in 1993. Many would remember John tirelessly taking his daily walks up and down Kearny Ave. and warmly joke about him being the “Scottish Mayor of Kearny” until his illness.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to The Scots Club for roof repair.

Edward Patrick O’Neill 

Edward Patrick O’Neill died quietly on March 23, during a loving caress from his wife Mary with his brother Marty holding his hand. Ed was born in Newark and raised his family in Kearny. Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral Mass was held at St. Stephen’s Church, followed by burial in Holy Cross Cemetery. www.armitagewiggins.com

Ed was a Navy veteran who served on the USS Soley DD 707. After the Navy, he joined the Newark Police Department where he was a motorcycle officer. When he retired after 27 years, he drove a truck for Shop-Rite and then he worked as a driver for Clayton Container.

He is survived by his loving wife of 47 years, Mary Agnew, formerly of Bathgate, Scotland; his beloved children, Edward G. and Jane C. O’Neill; and his cherished siblings, MaryAnn Acceturo, Lenore Ceraso, James F., Martin A., and Thomas O. O’Neill. He is also survived by many loving nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews, and all of their families.

He had a special closeness to all of his in-laws. He had many friends, too numerous to mention, but held a special bond with his lifelong buddies Jerry Daily, Harold Hanson, and Walter Blevins. Ed and his family also want to acknowledge all of his wonderful neighbors on Beech St. in Kearny and he wishes to extend a special thank you to Dr. Edward Killilea and the staff at St. Michael’s.

Ed was a member of the FOP, Teamsters Locals 27 and 641, and the Belleville VFW. In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Bonnie Patterson 

Bonnie Patterson (nee Hahn), entered into eternal rest on Monday, March 16. She was 65.

Born on May 11, 1949, Bonnie was a lifelong resident of East Newark and Harrison, before moving to Piedmont, Mo., in 1997. She passed away at Clark’s Mountain Nursing Center, Piedmont, Mo.

Predeceased by her husband, Ronald V. Patterson Sr., she is survived by her son, Ronald V. Patterson Jr., her brother, Jake Hahn, her half-sister, Karen Kowalski Kelly, and her grandson, Victor Leroy Patterson. She is also survived by many nieces, nephews and cousins.

She was also predeceased by her parents, Jacob and Betty Hahn; her daughter, Bonnie V. Patterson; and her siblings, Donald Hahn and Colleen Hahn Kelly.

Private funeral services were under the direction of the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison. A graveside service was held at Arlington Cemetery, Kearny. For information or to send condolences to the family, please visit www.mulliganfh.com.

Grace Sherwen 

Grace Sherwen (nee Broderick) died at home on March 23. She was 97.

Born in Hoboken, she lived most of her life in Kearny.

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

Grace was very involved with St. Stephen’s Church. She was the cook at the parish school, she was a member of the Rosary Society and The Seniors. She regularly volunteered at the church. Grace also loved to bowl and was an avid reader.

Wife of the late John D. Sherwen and sister of the late Julia LaForgia and Margaret Maher, she is survived by her children, Patricia and J. Douglas Sherwen Jr. (Laurie), along with many loving nieces and nephews and their families.

In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to St. Stephen’s Church, specifically for the restoration of the stained glass windows.

District OKs refinancing plan; movement seen on KHS job


The Kearny Board of Education is refinancing nearly $16 million in old school bonds in hopes of trimming some of its debt payments over the remaining life of the bonds.

The board authorized the action on March 16.

Michael DeVita, the board’s secretary/business administrator, said that Moody’s Investors Service has given the bonds an A1 rating, which, he said, should assure a competitive interest rate on the refinancing. DeVita said the board originally floated two bond issues, one in 2005 for $3,650,000 for repairs to elementary school facades and another in 2007 for $12,725,000 for the high school façade.

“We pay off a portion of the debt on those bonds each year and we always check the market rates to see if it’s feasible to refinance,” DeVita said. “In past years, the savings projected were not enough to go forward with that.”

But this year, the forecast was brighter, he said.

“Now, our experts – bond counsel Andrea Kahn of McManimon, Scotland & Baumann, financial adviser Diana Geist of NW Financial and auditor Gary Vinci – estimate that through refinancing, we will realize a 5% net savings over the remaining life of the bonds through June 2026,” DeVita said.

That savings, he said, has been projected at about $350,000 on the $8,498,125 of debt still outstanding on the bonds.

Meanwhile, DeVita said the district hopes to bid out a contract for installing new soundproofed windows for Kearny High School and finish that work by this summer.

Mark Bruscino, the district’s school plant operations director, said that 60% of those windows are already available, having been previously fabricated by a sub-contractor for Brockwell & Carrington, the former vendor who was entrusted with the high school improvement job until the firm was “terminated for convenience.” The remaining 40% still have to be ordered and manufactured, he said.

By summer’s end, DeVita said, the district should be ready to seek bids for the improvements on the high school’s North Building, which will involve steel supports for a modified atrium, new classrooms and a cafetorium.

Plans now call for completion of the high school project by between 2017 and 2018, according to DeVita.

Whether the district will end up with enough money from the roughly $40 million budget allocated by a combination of funding from the Federal Aviation Administration, Port Authority of N.Y. & N.J. and state Department of Education to finish the job remains to be seen.

A forensics audit by D’Arcangelo & Co. of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., previously commissioned by the school board at the urging of former Schools Supt. Frank Ferraro was designed to inform the board how much had been spent on the project.

The district has said that it has received only a preliminary report which it has refused to share with The Observer, which filed an OPRA request for the document, on the grounds that because it is still incomplete, it is not a public record.

– Ron Leir 

End of an era


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent


A piece of Lyndhurst history is destined for the scrap heap as a casualty of economic pressures.

This time – without having to go to the voters – the township and Board of Education are working in concert to replace the 126-year-old Lincoln Elementary School with a new building to rise on Matera Field.

But residents can still expect to see a referendum toward the end of 2015 when they’ll be asked to approve spending of up to $10 million for improvements to other schools: possibly “specialty” facilities for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) and language arts, and adding vocational training classes at the high school. Read more »

Revenue loss dooms post office


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


Say goodbye to Kearny’s secondary post office.

The U.S. Postal Service has issued a “final determination” notice to permanently shut what is known as the West Hudson Station at 255 Kearny Ave., which has operated since April 1961.

USPS spokesman George Flood said the decision was made this month by the Postal Service’s Northern N.J. District after consultation with staff and community input, including a public posting soliciting comments from Jan. 29 to March 2.

There is a 30-day period for the public to file appeals of the decision but, based on an apparent lack of interest to date, the expectation is that the closure will stick.

Only two people showed up at a community meeting to talk about the proposed closure convened by the Postal Service on June 3, 2014, according to Flood.

Flood said that members of the public were invited to send letters on the subject to the postal service during on open comment period between April 23 and June 24, 2014, but the feedback did nothing to alter the course adopted for closure.

“Some [of the responders] said they didn’t want to travel the 1.3 miles to the main post office in Kearny [on Midland Ave.],” Flood said.

An “emergency suspension” of service at the Kearny Ave. station took effect Aug. 1, 2013, after plumbing leaks from an apartment above the storefront postal office – leased from a private owner – made the place unfit for occupancy and postal staff and postal boxes were relocated to the main post office.

Ironically, the postal service had just renewed its lease of the space.

It appears that no attempt has been made to have the office cleaned. Flood said questions about conditions there should be directed to the landlord. He said the postal service is in talks with the owner to renegotiate the 5-year lease.

Meanwhile, Flood said, there has been a “decline of business [at the West Hudson Station] over the last several years. In the last five years, revenue has declined by 39% and there are numerous outlets in close proximity for Kearny customers to conduct their postal business, including the Main Post Office.”

The closure decision, Flood said, “pretty much mirrors our national strategy of adjusting our infrastructure to match changes in market place. The first-class retail mail market for us is going in a different direction so we’re responding to those changes. On the positive side, we’ve noticed a significant jump in package volume from our business customers.

“Our customers’ habits have made it clear that they are looking for different ways to access postal products and services. Today, more than 35% of the Postal Service’s retail revenue comes from expanded access locations such as grocery stores, drug stores, office supply stores, retail chains, self-service kiosks, ATMs and our usps.com website, which is accessible 24/7.

“It is important to bear in mind that the Kearny Postmaster Ed Wynne has not received complaints about the relocation of the West Hudson Station to the Main Post Office …”

Appeals of the closure may be sent to the Postal Regulatory Commission, 901 New York Ave. NW, Suite 200, Washington, D.C. 20268-0001.

On another Kearny postal front, meanwhile, Flood had good news about the N.J. Logistics & Distribution Center, 1200 Harrison Ave., which the Postal Service had eyed for possible consolidation as part of an overall budget cutting move.

“We’re not moving forward with that issue in Kearny,” he said.

That facility has 565 employees and is in the process of a name change to the U.S.P.S. Greater Newark New Jersey Processing & Distribution Center, Flood said.

Pedestrian killed; ruled ‘accidental’

By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent


A 70-year-old Kearny woman was fatally injured last Wednesday night when she was struck by a motor vehicle while crossing Devon St. at Midland Ave., KPD Chief John Dowie reported.

Dowie said the victim was walking across Devon from west to east shortly after 8 p.m., March 18, when she was hit by a Jeep that was attempting to make a left turn off Midland.

P.O. Jay Ward, the first officer on the scene, summoned Kearny EMS and paramedics and attempted to render medical aid while awaiting their arrival, Dowie said.

The woman was taken to Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville, where she was later pronounced dead.

Dowie said the Jeep’s driver, a 25-year-old Kearny man, remained at the scene and was “very cooperative.”

The chief said the incident appeared to be “purely accidental” and there was no indication any alcohol was involved.

Given the severity of the victim’s injuries, members of the KPD Fatal Accident Unit — Sgt. John Taylor and Officers Adriano Marques and Peter Blair — were called to the scene, and “as a matter of course,” the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office was notified, Dowie noted.

The HCPO has “determined there was no criminality involved,” he reported.

Authorities were withholding the identities of both the victim and the driver.

Municipal budget still a puzzle


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent


Will Kearny receive state transitional aid? What will be the outcome of contract negotiations with the municipal nonuniformed employees union?

Will the town succeed in persuading the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security to pay for 12 new firefighters?

These and other financial considerations will play out during the balance of the year as the town’s governing body ponders how to pare down the proposed municipal budget of about $76 million introduced last Monday.

As the budget, up from $74.8 million last year, now stands – it will get a public hearing April 21 at 6 p.m. in the council chambers – overall spending is up from last year by 2.4% but the impact on the local levy – even with $2,125,000 million in transitional aid included – is a 6% increase, according to Town CFO Shuaib Firozvi.

If those numbers stick, Firozvi said, the owner of a house with an “average” assessment of $95,000 could expect to pay an additional $228 in taxes on his/her property. And that’s without any school and county tax hikes, if any.

But Mayor Alberto Santos has asked Firozvi and town auditor Steven Wielkotz to come up with recommendations for cuts.

“The number we want to be around is not higher than a 2% tax increase,” the mayor said. “If this budget lacks material amendments [that fails to reduce the tax impact], I’m not voting on it.”

That task, however, will be complicated, Firozvi said, because the town does not expect to know if it will be getting transitional aid by that point. And, he noted, “most budget line items are either flat or lower than last year.”

Expenses are up in such areas as employee health benefits, by $160,000; and contractual service fees to Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission, by $158,000, he said.

And the amount of surplus is being trimmed, from $2.4 million last year, to $1.2 million for 2015, he added.

On the plus side of the ledger, Firozvi said the town is projecting a decrease of $800,000 in debt service payments; however, as Santos later pointed out, that savings will be partly canceled by the town bonding to finance the new Dukes St. pump station.

The town is projecting an additional $200,000 in revenues to the water utility, largely the result of increased user rates, but that will be partly undercut by an approximately $40,000 obligation to United Water as interim water utility operator. (Theodore Ferraioli, the $99,000-a-year assistant water superintendent, has delayed his previously announced March 1 resignation to April 1, according to Santos.)

The town has negotiated PILOT (payments in lieu of taxes) agreements with the owners of Kearny Point, an industrial park in South Kearny, for one warehouse building the owners expect to lease to multiple tenants; and with builder Ed Russo for a multifamily residential complex at Bergen and Schuyler Aves.

Santos said that Russo expects to start renting the first two of six buildings now under construction by the end of the spring, “so we should get a half-year PILOT for that,” and that “at least a portion of the South Kearny building will be on line by the end of the year and the owner expects to lease space to one or two tenants so we should be seeing some revenue from that.”

Meanwhile, Kearny is waiting to hear how much – if any – transitional aid Trenton is willing to dispense this year. Per state protocol, Kearny is required to ask for 15% less than the amount it got last year.

One expense that remains a question mark is how much the town will end up paying the more than 80 civilian employees represented by Civil Service Council 11, whose contract with the town expired Dec. 31, 2014. Both sides are in talks on a new labor agreement.

Also up in the air is whether the town will commit to hiring any additional firefighters. Last Monday, the Town Council authorized making application to Homeland Security for a grant to pay salaries and benefits for 12 additional firefighters for two years. If the town fails to get the grant – as it has in two previous efforts – it’s unclear whether it will lay out any local funds to beef up the short-staffed Fire Department, which will be down another member with the July 1 retirement of 28-year veteran Capt. Gary Dye, who is due to receive nearly $70,000 in terminal leave pay and unused vacation benefits.