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Target parking lot for new school

By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 


If no significant environmental issues arise, the municipal parking lot across the street from Washington Middle School will become the site for a new school for kindergarten and pre-K students in Harrison to help relieve overcrowding at Lincoln and Hamilton elementary schools.

And the $33 million project will cost taxpayers not one dime to build, school officials insist, because the Board of Education owns the property and because the state has committed to picking up the entire tab.

So reported James Doran, the district’s director of personnel, and Michael Pichowicz, the board attorney, in an interview with The Observer at the BOE office last Thursday.

Doran said the BOE – which has yet to vote on designating the lot as the place where the new facility will rise – nonetheless want to forewarn residents now because during the Easter holiday period – between April 6 and 16 – the parking lot at Washington St. and Harrison Ave. will be closed.

That’s when the N.J. Schools Development Authority has directed the Morristownbased Louis Berger Group to drill holes in the lot, take soil samples and analyze them to see if a school building can be safely supported there, Doran said.

Residents who rely on the lot for overnight parking will have more access to street spaces in the neighborhood during that time because the town will be suspending street cleaning on Washington St. and on Harrison Ave., between Fifth and Sixth Sts., so residents with the required stickers will be able to park during the night on those blocks, Doran said. Looking ahead, Doran said there has been “preliminary discussion” with the BOE about replacing the lot, once the SDA officially greenlights the school project.

“The goal is that before any construction starts, we would have an engineering firm look at relocating the underutilized Shields Park (which is next to Washington School) to an area near Harrison High School and extending the resident parking lot at Patterson St. and Harrison Ave. to the area now occupied by the park,” Doran said.

That reconfiguration would, he said, “double the size” of the existing Patterson St. parking area while also accommodating school staff from Washington School and the new school.

Meanwhile, plans for the new school – (no name has been designated for it yet) – will be unveiled publicly for the first time at a special BOE meeting set for 6:30 p.m. March 24 at the board offices, 501 Hamilton St. [Please note time change to 6:30 p.m.]

“This has been three years in the making,” said Doran, who talked up the idea during his previous service as the district’s superintendent of schools, as a strategy to ease the pressure of growing enrollment, particularly in pre-K to grade 5.

“As of 2008-2009, we were already at capacity in our elementary schools,” Doran said. Since then, enrollment district-wide jumped from 1,866 to 2,096 currently. Lincoln School, which houses kindergarten through grade 3 with the aid of trailers, climbed from 557 to 651 and Hamilton, which has grades 4 and 5, went from 262 to 302, district records show.

In prior years, the SDA had proposed expanding Washington School’s population – which handles grades 6, 7 and 8 – by adding grade 5 which, according to Doran, would have required placement of trailers along the Hamilton St. side of the school. It never happened.

Now the plan is to construct a new two-story school on the roughly one-acre parking lot site to accommodate nine kindergarten classrooms, nine first-grade classrooms and two pre-K special education classrooms. The facility would have an elevator, a combination cafeteria/ auditorium and gym. There would also be some type of outdoor play space. The entrance would be from Washington St. The existing vehicular traffic pattern would remain.

SDA regulations mandated the district to conduct an inventory of potential school sites, with priority given to district-owned property first, then municipal-owned. Pichowicz said the district identified 38 parcels for consideration and “it came down to Roosevelt Park outside the town library and the parking lot.”

The district had acquired the parking lot site some years ago with the idea of putting a new school there at some point, he said.

The new school would accommodate a capacity of 420 students and could be ready for occupancy by September 2018, Doran said. The Berger firm will design and build it, he added.

Of the 360 Harrison youngsters currently in pre-K programs in outside facilities, all but the 15 currently housed at the town Community Center would stay where they are but the 15 would shift to the new school, Doran said.

As part of the district’s grade realignment, both Lincoln and Hamilton would handle grades 2 through 5, he said.

With the reconfiguration of space, Doran said, “We could expand our cafeterias at Lincoln and Hamilton, add a computer lab and music room at Lincoln, add an instrumental music room at Hamilton and possibly make room for additional class sections, where needed.”

Saw pal fatally shot; now he’s shot dead

An East Orange man who was a passenger in a vehicle whose driver was fatally shot by police after a chase ended with a crash at the Lyndhurst-Rutherford border last fall, ended up a fatal shooting victim last week, according to published reports.

The Associated Press and other media sites cited a report by Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray that Jemmaine Bynes, 31, was slain after a shooting at a S. 10th St. location in Newark at around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday. Bynes was pronounced dead at the scene shortly before midnight, according to Murray.

Murray was quoted by NJ Advance Media as saying that Bynes had received multiple gunshot wounds in an apartment complex courtyard at S. 10th St. and Woodland Ave.

No further details were readily available about the shooting incident and Katherine Carter, spokeswoman for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, could not be reached last week.

The Observer had reported last year that the state Attorney General’s office became the lead agency for releasing information on last year’s shooting incident. The AG’s office said that Bynes was riding in a stolen Nissan Armada SUV driven by Kashad Ashford, 23, of Newark, during the early morning on Sept. 16, 2014.

A statement issued by the AG’s office said that at some point, the SUV rolled through North Arlington and one of its occupants tried to break into a vehicle parked in a resident’s driveway. North Arlington Police Chief Louis Ghione said that borough police responded to a Newell Place location at 2 a.m. on a report of a burglary and theft of a motor vehicle but, as cops approached, the suspects drove off.

Soon after the attempted break-in, the AG’s office said, Lyndhurst PD spotted the SUV and tried to pull it over but the SUV driver “proceeded to drive recklessly through Lyndhurst and surrounding towns,” pursued by Lyndhurst and Rutherford PD and State Police.

The AG’s office said the chase ended when the SUV hit a guardrail at the Ridge Road bridge at the Rt. 3 approach and patrol cars surrounded the vehicle in an effort to block it but the driver put the car in reverse, spinning the tires and filling the road with smoke, before backing the SUV into a patrol car.

At that point, the AG’s office said, officers fired at the driver, striking him. Ashford was taken to Hackensack Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 7:05 a.m.

(The cliffviewpilot.com website reported that Ashford had a prior criminal record, including having served more than three years on a conviction for aggravated assault and “resisting arrest by fleeing in a motor vehicle, creating a risk of injury.”)

Bynes surrendered and, after officers reportedly recovered a loaded .357-caliber Magnum handgun and a ski mask from the SUV, charged him with unlawful possession of a handgun, possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose, possession of a firearm as a convicted felon and receiving stolen property. He was taken to Bergen County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

NJ Advance Media reported that according to Bergen County Sheriff’s records, Bynes was released from jail in November 2014 after posting bail.

The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office has asked anyone with information on Bynes’ shooting to call detectives with the office’s Homicide and Major Crimes Task Force at 877-847-7432 or 973-621-4586.

Because an investigation of last September’s fatal shooting was undertaken by the AG’s Shooting Response Team, local police departments involved in the incident refused to provide further details about the circumstances of the shooting and the state appeals court has denied OPRA requests by two media outlets for information about the case.

Results of that investigation have yet to surface.

Many parents still wary of PARCC

By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent 

The N.J. Department of Education has adopted a “no opt-out” policy for the administration of its newly mandated PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) online test for grades 3 to 11.

But it has left the implementation and enforcement of that policy up to the discretion of local school districts.

And while school districts in The Observer coverage area have (some more strongly than others) encouraged participation – since they risk having some of their fderal aid sliced if too few students take the test – many parents have instructed their kids to refuse to take it.

Since the test is administered to different grades over different times during a multi-week period, it is difficult to secure precise figures on the number of students who have opted out.

But, based on phone interviews with various district officials, it is clear that many students in Kearny and Lyndhurst, primarily on the secondary level, did not partake.

In Kearny, where testing – as in most districts – began March 2 and was due to continue through March 27, there were reportedly as many as 400 high school students opting out in the early going.

KHS Principal Al Gilson declined to confirm that figure and referred The Observer to Superintendent Patricia Blood, who said she’d heard there were “a lot of sophomores” among those sitting out the test, but she couldn’t provide actual figures.

“We had a handful in our elementary schools,” Blood said.

Blood reasoned that some parents read or heard information on the internet or in the media that the questions posed by the PARCC were too difficult, that it was unfair to subject their kids to it and that concern spread by word of mouth.

“I think it just snowballed,” she said.

Parents should realize, Blood said, that the PARCC “does give us valuable information” about areas where students are weak and that it will take three years for the PARCC phase-in.

In any case, Blood said, parents who did not want their kids taking the test were asked to “notify the district in writing” and on testing days, their kids “were provided an alternate setting” where they could do school-related work.

Some of the students who did take the PARCC “reported back to their teachers that the test was not as difficult as the test samples they had been exposed to for practice,” Blood said.

At the same time, she said, those students were saying that there appeared to be more types of test problems that relied on students’ “critical thinking” skills, rather than simply multiple-choice questions.

On the technical end, Blood said that everything was “smooth running. The only glitch was on the first day, and it was on the Pearson [the test distributor] end,” but she said it was quickly remedied and did not interfere with the testing itself.

In Lyndhurst, Schools Superintendent Tracey Marinelli said the district had a “seemless transition” to the PARCC. “There were no glitches and our kids were prepared – students arrived at the high school with their iPads fully charged and ready to go and our elementary school kids took the test in their computer labs,” she said.

There were, however, “quite a few opt-outs,” Marinelli said. Of the district’s 200 third-graders, 10 did not take the test; of 1,000 students in grades 4 to 8, 91 opted out; and of about 550 kids in grades 9 to 11, 155 sat out the test, she said.

Although the district sought to educate parents about the test and offered practice sessions, Marinelli said that there was an “active campaign” by some who had concerns about the PARCC.

In Harrison, Personnel Director James Doran said the district experienced a “very good” implementation of the test, with only “a couple of computer glitches but the students didn’t lose any of the work.” And “about a dozen” students were instructed by their parents not to take the test, he said.

Newly installed Belleville Schools Superintendent Richard Tomko reported that despite some serious computer infrastructure issues previously encountered by the district, “all of our schools have the equipment needed for the testing on track.”

Adapting to the technology “was a little bit of a learning curve for our teachers,” Tomko said, “but we made sure that we had extra IT support on hand for the first day of testing to get us through.”

By Tomko’s reckoning, the district had 270 students who opted out that first day and they were “evenly distributed throughout the district.”

“I don’t have a strong hold on why that happened,” Tomko said. “I assume that parents read something negative about the test on an internet posting or elsewhere.” Before the PARCC was administered, Tomko said he met with PTO leaders in an effort to dispel any fears about the test.

Nutley Board of Education President Charles Kucinski said the district was “more than prepared” for the PARCC, having set aside between $300,000 and $400,000 annually for the past three years to acquire sufficient numbers of computers and technical equipment to accommodate the new testing protocol and ensuring that “our teachers were comfortable” with the testing environment.

“A couple of glitches” developed with computers which Kucinski attributed to the state connection.

As for opt-outs, Kucinski said that, “according to the last count the superintendent (Russell Lazovick) gave us, there were 20 throughout the district.” The purpose of the PARCC, Kucinski said, “is really to assess what students might not know and make adjustments annually” so the aim is to achieve “positive results.”

Prior to the test, Kucinski said administrators “met with parents offline with the expectation that they could enlighten them, not frighten them.”

Accused fare evader ‘led’ cops to drugs



A New York man who reportedly stiffed a cabbie before taking off was subsequently found hiding in a Lyndhurst apartment where police said they discovered a cache of illegal drugs. Lyndhurst Police Det. Capt. John Valente said the episode began on Monday, March 9, when police responded to 855 Valley Brook Road after getting a call, at 1:23 a.m., from a taxi driver about a theft of service. Valente said the driver, 39, of Sunnyside, N.Y., told officers that he had picked up a fare in Queens, N.Y., and transported him to a Lyndhurst location when the passenger – listed as a Latino – ran away, failing to pay his $110 fare, heading toward a condominium apartment complex at 855 Valley Brook.

Valente said Officers Charles Giangeruso, Rob Fernandez and Anthony Ricigliano, knowing the suspect’s direction of flight, followed a trail of footprints and tracks in the snow to an apartment in the complex where they believed he ended up.

Police talked with an Asian man who, they said, lived in the condo apartment but who told the officers he had no knowledge of the man they were seeking and claimed the only other individual living in the apartment was an Asian roommate, Valente said.

LPD Above: Jonathan Rodriguez Top Photo: Andrew Lee

Above: Jonathan Rodriguez
Top Photo: Andrew Lee


After they were allowed entry to the apartment, Valente said the officers observed a large assortment of drugs and paraphernalia on table tops, counters and other locations in plain view. And, he said, they discovered a man matching the description of the suspect hiding in the flat.

Both men were taken into custody and Dets. Ronald Guirland and Vincent Auteri successfully applied for and executed a search warrant for the remainder of the apartment.

Jonathan Rodriguez, 31, of Elmhurst, N.Y., the original suspect, and Andrew Lee, 24, of Lyndhurst, the apartment occupant, were both charged with possession of Alprazolam with intent to distribute same within 1,000 feet of a school and within 500 feet of a park, possession of Psilocybin, possession of marijuana and paraphernalia (digital scale and baggies) within 1,000 feet of a school and 500 feet of a park and possession with intent to distribute marijuana greater than 16 ounces.

Lee was also charged with possession of a weapon (brass knuckles) and possession of hollow point bullets (.45-caliber and 9 mm), while Rodriguez was additionally charged with theft of services.

Both were taken to Bergen County Jail in lieu of $110,000 bail for Lee and $100,000 bail for Rodriguez.

– Ron Leir 

Thoughts & Views: ‘Great gift of faith’


(Editor’s note: Earlier this month, preceding its St. Patrick’s Parade, the Nutley Irish-American Alliance held its annual Mass at St. Mary’s Church in that township. This year, Msgr. John J. Gilchrist of Kearny was the guest speaker. In honor of March 17, The Observer would like to share a portion of his homily, and its local history lesson, with our readers. ) 

This annual parade has two great purposes. The first is, of course, to give glory to God and show gratitude to the Lord for sending St. Patrick to us to bring the great gift of faith.

Secondly, all of us who carry the Celtic DNA want to pay tribute to our forefathers and to those who brought us to this great country and especially to those who settled in this beautiful area that was once known as Avondale, then Franklin, and that we now call Nutley. And so, we represent faith, heritage, and gratitude to those who went before us.

You know the Irish came to this area as refugees from famine and persecution.

Once they arrived here, they needed work. The Dutch and English who preceded them had discovered that this beautiful river valley contained copper that could be mined, then brownstone that could easily be cut into building blocks for housing, and the running water in the rivers that turned wheels for mills.

So the Irish followed the river and came here to settle and make a living mining, cutting blocks, and working in the mills of the area.

It was a hard and difficult time. The single men lived in barracks, and families lived in shanties. The men and women worked six days a week from sun-up till sundown in all sorts of weather.

Until 1880, there was no Catholic church in Avondale, as Nutley was called in those days. Catholics went to Mass in St. Peter’s in Belleville from 1838 until 1877 when Father Hubert de Burgh came and took up residence here.

I would like to tell you a story that my mother uncovered. She was a member of the Belleville Historical Society and in the 1950s she wrote a history of St. Peter’s Parish.

She wrote of a Mission that was held during Lent in the 1850s. The Irish families from the quarries, mines and mills rose long before dawn that year and walked in the dark beside the river along Main St. to Mass at 6:30 a.m.

They then walked back to Nutley to grab a bite of breakfast and then went to work until sundown at night. They filled the church each morning for the nine days of the Mission.

I have to tell you that, on these frigid cold mornings, with the snow all around, I think of those faithful Catholics. By the way, in those days the Passaic River froze over and the Irish from Kearny and Arlington walked across the river on the ice to attend Mass.

I want to leave you with that image. On these winter days, consider what religion meant to those good men and women who endured so much to find their God in the Holy Mass.

My dear friends, if you would honor these saints, for holy they were, imitate them by giving God glory by practicing the Faith that meant so much to them.

May you have a great and glorious parade.

May God bless you all.

– Msgr. John J. Gilchrist 

It took a while but MUA rehab is done


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


After year and a half of occupying temporary trailers, the Kearny Municipal Utilities Authority has finally moved back into its Central Ave. headquarters now that a makeover is pretty much done.

KMUA Executive Director Kevin O’Sullivan said the contractor, Daskal Construction of Wallington, began the $680,900 rehabilitation job in September 2013 with the expectation that the job would be finished by January 2014. But the pace of work continued to be snagged – which the contractor blamed on delays in delivery of construction materials, harsh winter weather conditions and some change orders, O’Sullivan said.

“He was granted one month extra time,” O’Sullivan said, but it was still slow going.

Last week, the five employees bade farewell to their temporary quarters and returned to their home building which got a new façade, roof and refurbished administrative offices, along with a new HVAC system.

O’Sullivan said the MUA board of commissioners still hasn’t accepted the job as complete because, “the contractor is still waiting for a warranty from the roof manufacturer and there are also a few punchlist items to complete.”

Until those issues are taken care of, the MUA is retaining “more than $40,000” on the overall job contract, he said.

O’Sullivan said he was confident that the job would come in at or near the original contract price.

“And the contractor will be required to post a two-year maintenance performance bond,” he said.

The building at 39 Central Ave. dates from 1955 and needed a lot of work to remedy a variety of problems, including leaks, insufficient heating during the cold months when staff had to rely on space heaters, and lack of air conditioning, according to O’Sullivan.

“Now we have a new roof, a climate-controlled building, new offices and a conference room,” he said. ‘I’m anticipating that we’ll be holding our annual rate study session and public meeting here for the first time, on April 22.”

Regular MUA commission meetings will continue to be held at Town Hall, he said.

The MUA, which recently adopted its 2015 budget of $3,997,707 – up from last year’s $3,850,891 – is gearing up for two big projects this year: rehabilitation of the Kearny Point pump station which services upstream MUA customers and the Harrison pump facility which handles the northern edge of the MUA collection district.

Both facilities were compromised by Super Storm Sandy, O’Sullivan said.

Coppola Services Inc. of Ringwood was awarded the jobs in December for about $4.5 million, most of which the MUA will get reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), he said. And the MUA will also apply a $250,000 grant from the state Office of Emergency Management’s Hazardous Mitigation Fund to offset the cost of a new generator.

The work is expected to take a year and half to complete, he said.

When the job is done, O’Sullivan said, “We’ll have fully functioning pumps and reliable service for our users.”

Still probing how body ended up in river

By Karen Zautyk

Observer Correspondent 


The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and the Belleville Police Department are continuing to investigate the death of a Newark man whose body was found last Wednesday morning in the Second River off Mill St. His car was also in the water, reportedly some 150-200 feet away from the body.

The victim was identified as Roosevelt Padilla-Correa, 67, but, as of press time, there was no information available on the specific cause and manner of his death.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, it appeared that Padilla-Correa’s vehicle crashed into the water near the intersection of Franklin Ave. and Mill St. the previous night, Tuesday, March 10.

The Second River is the stream that parallels Mill St., crosses beneath Franklin Ave. and runs through the Belleville portion of Branch Brook Park.

Sources told The Observer that the auto apparently went into the river in the vicinity of the DAV Post, near the northwest corner of Franklin and Mill. The body reportedly was found in the water behind Nanina’s in The Park, on the other side of Franklin.

On the night of March 10, there had been heavy rain, and a dense fog blanketed the area. There is speculation that these may have been factors in the car apparently driving into the water.

The sources said the doors on the vehicle were open when it was found mid-morning Wednesday.

The investigation is being conducted by the prosecutor’s Major Crimes Task Force and the Belleville Police Department, under the direction of Chief Joseph Rotonda.

Results of an autopsy by the county Medical Examiner are pending.

Local government left in the dark


The roll had been called, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited and the Kearny governing body was about to tackle its agenda when, suddenly, its members were left in the dark.

It was the Town Hall Power Outage of 2015.

Emergency battery-powered exit lights provided limited illumination and a backup generator kicked in to feed police and fire communications systems.

Several Town Council members powered on their cellular phones for the light, gamely hoping at the time that they could carry on somehow.

But those hopes dimmed after town officials noticed that some apartments and shops on Kearny Ave. had also gone dark as light rain fell outside.

And, after learning from PSE&G that the situation was not going to be remedied anytime soon, Mayor Alberto Santos – speaking in virtual darkness – made a command decision.

The council would adjourn its meeting, he said, to 6 p.m. Monday, March 16, and conduct its business then.

But when it was pointed out by town CFO Shuaib Firozvi that Kearny faced a Monday deadline to submit its application for $2,125,000 in state transitional aid, along with its introduction of the 2015 municipal budget, the mayor said that the town would ask Trenton if it could get a one-day extension.

If not doable, Santos said, then the council would convene Friday, March 13, in special session to consider both matters.

As it turned out, Trenton – and its fiscal monitor assigned to Kearny – granted the town the extra day to complete the process, Santos said last week, so the council was expected to meet on the 16th to deal with those financial issues, along with other agenda items, including the appointment of six new police officers.

During the early stages of the blackout, police personnel relied on portable radios and firefighters used a backup radio console at the Maple St. dispatch center for communication until a power supply could be run from a transmitter to a phone line at Town Hall, according to Fire Chief Steven Dyl.

Soon after darkness descended on the Municipal Building and a five-block stretch of Kearny Ave. — (for safety reasons, the Avenue was blocked off to local traffic between Oakwood Ave. and Liberty St.) – Dyl said the Fire Department was alerted to smoke seen coming from a manhole at the intersection of Kearny and Quincy Aves.

And there were reports of other underground burning at nearby corners, the chief said.

“We suspect that had something to do with the power going out,” Dyl said.

Interestingly, exploding manholes were reported at around 5:30 p.m. last Tuesday on Bloomfield and Claremont Aves. in Montclair, according to The Patch website. The Montclair fire chief was quoted as saying that the bursts were likely triggered by a short in an electrical vault. PSE&G had no explanation for the incidents.

Still, PSE&G spokeswoman Erica Jordan said Tuesday night that, “The Kearny outage was not a result of the manhole pops. It is related to an issue with a network circuit and our crews are working to restore power.”

Early Wednesday, PSE&G spokeswoman Lindsey Puliti reported that, “A contractor was digging in the street and damaged an underground cable near Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. and Scott-Mobus Place in Harrison. PSE&G crews are on site making repairs today.”

Puliti said the area in Kearny that experienced the outage “is tied to the same circuit network as Harrison. When the cable in Harrison failed, it also affected customers in Kearny.

“There were approximately 26 customers without power in the vicinity of Kearny Ave. The outage occurred around 8 p.m. and all customers were restored by 2 a.m.”

Images from the 2015 West Hudson St. Patrick’s Day Parade

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All Photos By Karen Zautyk

KPD blotter: Cars stolen & recovered

At 4 a.m. last Wednesday, March 11, Officer Kevin Arnesman was on patrol when he spotted three cars, two parked illegally and all with their engines running, on Brighton Ave. near Rutland Ave. As the patrol car approached, “all three quickly departed,” KPD Chief John Dowie reported.

Arnesman engaged in a short pursuit, north on Belgrove Drive. He ended it for safety reasons, but not before getting the license plate of one of the vehicles, a ‘99 Volkswagen.

That car turned out to have been stolen, and it was found several hours later by Officer T.J. Hernandez at Dukes and Chestnut Sts.

Later that day, police received a report from a Brighton Ave. resident that his 2002 Jeep Liberty had been stolen. It was recovered in Newark by the Newark PD.

Police believe three individuals were involved and that they had driven to Kearny together with the intention of taking two cars. The investigaton is continuing.

• • •

Other recent reports from the Kearny police blotter included the following:

 March 1 

Officer Peter Jahera responded to a Passaic Ave. business at 7 p.m. on a report from a female employee that she had been threatened with a knife by a co-worker. Det. Michael Gonzalez conducted the follow-up investigation and developed as a suspect Savannah Santiago, 25, of Kearny, who was arrested at her home March 12. She was charged with aggravated assault, possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for illegal purposes.

March 7 

Officers Jordenson Jean and Frank West arrested Quianah Arrington, 26, of Newark, on a charge of disorderly conduct in connection with a 9:30 a.m. dispute in the parking lot at Kmart. Police said she also had intentionally knocked over a display in a nearby dollar store.

March 10 

At 4 p.m., detectives were conducting an ABC inspection at a tavern on the 300 block of Kearny Ave. when they detected the “pungent odor of pot” emanating from a trio of individuals standing outside the rear door. They took into custody Roderick Macdonald, 54, of Kearny, who allegedly was holding a hand-rolled cigarette. He was charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and on a $250 outstanding Kearny warrant.

• • •

Officer Jay Ward responded to Walmart at 7:30 p.m. on the report of three women attempting to abscond with more than $1,000 worth of clothing and baby products. The suspects — Laika Abincha, 35, Trunell Stubbs, 19, and Kershaere Stubbs, 22, all of Newark — were charged with shoplifting and conspiracy.

March 11 

Officers Ward and Malinda Esposito were called to Kmart at 8 p.m. and arrested Newark residents Marques Speed, 28, and Carthell Speed, 32, on shoplifting charges for allegedly attempting to steal two sets of headphones from the store. In a search incident to arrest, Marques was reportedly found to be in possession of methamphetamine and was also charged with that offense. Police said Carthell was found to have four outstanding warrants, including three from Newark: a $5,000 warrant for assault; a $2,500 one for criminal mischief, and a $200 one for trespass. Irvington wanted him on a $98 warrant for being an unlicensed driver.

– Karen Zautyk