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Buffet Dinner & Show at West Long Branch Community Center Dec. 13

Eatontown honors veterans with days of events

By Coleen Burnett

Eatontown — It’s very common for people to say on Nov. 11 that Veterans Day should last more than a single day due to all we owe those who serve. Eatontown held multiple events to mark it, including a concert the week before, a parade the day before, and its annual Wampum Park ceremonies on Veterans Day.

The ceremonies on November 3 included a remembrance and a concert that was sponsored by the Eatontown Historical Society.

For the seventh consecutive year, the ceremony took place on the porch of the Historical Society’s house at 75 Broad Street. The speakers stood on the porch and remembered those who did not come home from war.

An Honor Garden, filled with American flags, graced the front lawn of the Museum. Each of the flags were tagged with the name of a veteran or someone who is currently on active duty in the armed forces.

The Garden has grown from about 50 flags to somewhere in the neighborhood of 200.

Phyllis Trask, the Chairperson of the Historical Commission, noted that many of the living veterans of World War II are now in their 80s and 90s. “They were ordinary people who responded to extraordinary times.”

“Thank you for answering the call to duty,” she said.

Everybody was then invited across the street to the Senior Center for a free concert by the Florian Schantz Jazz Combo, who played a series of songs that were popular in World War I.

On Nov. 10, the day before Veterans Day, a parade was held, marching down Broad Street.

This is the second year in a row Eatontown has held a parade. It included veterans, those serving, scouts, school marching bands, and many borough officials and departments.

At the Nov. 11 ceremony, Mayor Anthony Talerico said that Eatontown understood the importance of veterans, as the Fort Monmouth Army base operated here, and was a key part of the community.

“Eatontown is very lucky — we don’t just wave our flags and observe the military on TV, newspapers and social media posts. For nearly 100 years we lived alongside the men and women who made it happen,” he said. “Eatontown is a better and more diverse community because of the men and women who passed through those gates for one hundred years”.

The keynote speaker of the day was Col. Samuel Fuoco, who said those who served came from all walks of life.

“They did not go to war because they loved fighting. They were called to be part of something bigger than themselves. They were ordinary people who responded in ordinary ways in extreme times,” he said.

County reminds residents that flu season is here

The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Monmouth County Health Department (MCHD) are reminding residents that flu season is here and the best way to protect yourself is by getting a flu shot.

The flu season begins in the fall, peaking between December and February, and lasting as late as May.

“There are a number of benefits in receiving the flu vaccine,” said Freeholder Susan M. Kiley, liaison to MCHD. “The vaccine helps prevent from getting sick with the flu, lowers the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations, protects women during and after pregnancy and can be lifesaving for children.”

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus, which can be mild to severe. Severe issues with the flu can result in hospitalization and even death. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine, by the end of October, for everyone six months and older. However, getting vaccinated later is still beneficial.

“Every flu season is different and an influenza infection can affect each person differently,” said Christopher P. Merkel, M.P.H., Public Health Coordinator and Health Officer. “The Monmouth County Health Department will continue its effort to limit the effects of each flu season by offering seasonal flu shots.”

The flu can cause symptoms including fever, chills, cough, body aches, fatigue, sore throat and runny or stuffy nose. The CDC advises that not everyone with the flu will have a fever.

“Key health tips to keep in mind during the flu season include covering your cough and sneezes, avoiding close contact with someone sick, cleaning surfaces and objects and wash your hands often,” said Freeholder Kiley. “It is recommended to stay home if you are feeling sick, and until you are fever-free for 24 hours, to avoid spreading the flu.”

The Monmouth County Health Department provides public health services for residents of the following towns: Aberdeen, Allentown, Asbury Park, Atlantic Highlands, Avon, Belmar, Bradley Beach, Englishtown, Eatontown, Farmingdale, Hazlet, Holmdel, Howell, Keansburg, Keyport, Lake Como, Manasquan, Marlboro, Matawan, Neptune City, Neptune Township, Ocean Grove, Oceanport, Roosevelt, Shrewsbury Township and Union Beach.

For more information, call MCHD at 732-431-7456 or go to


Memory in African American Music and Culture: An Extravaganza

West Long Branch — “Memory in African American Music and Culture: An Extravaganza,” a Monmouth University Race Conference Event featuring poetry, negro spirituals, contemporary gospel music and freedom songs will be held Thur., Nov. 14, 6-8:30 p.m. at Wilson Hall Auditorium.

The Fisk Jubilee Singers c. 1872

The evening features performances by Daryl L. Stewart, Leah Joy Hilliard, Solomon Cobbs, Donna J. Gore, and The Rushing Singers.

This event is an evening that includes poetry and the singing of some classic Negro spirituals, as well as contemporary gospel music.

Culture has been the primary location of black identity formation in U.S. history. As a response to oppression, and the denial of opportunity, African Americans turned to poetry and music to record their grievances, triumphs, and sorrows.

African Americans have recorded and memorialized the black experience in poetry and music from the first arrival of Africans in North America to the present.

Songs such as “Steal Away” and “Wade in the Water,” later performed by the Fisk Jubilee Singers, guided enslaved blacks on the underground railroad to freedom in the North; and, songs such as “The Buses Are A Coming” or “Ella’s Song,” composed during the height of the Civil Rights era, were performed by the Freedom Singers to lift morale in the struggle for black equality during the 1960s. Memories of suffering and jubilation exist in black cultural productions from Negro Spirituals to the present.

$37 million worth of sand coming to area

By Neil Schulman
Long Branch — Work is about to start on a $37.4 million beach replenishment in Monmouth Beach, Sea Bright and Long Branch.
The federal government is picking up about two thirds of the costs, with the state and municipalities picking up the remainder. Each of the three communities will be paying about $1 million, with grants from Monmouth County covering about half their costs.

Long Branch Mayor John Pallone discusses what beach replenishment will mean to the city at the Brighton Avenue beach entrance, one of the sections that will benefit from it. Behind him are, l-r, a worker involved in the project, Bill Dixon, Director NJDEP, Division of Coastal Engineering, Army Corps of Engineers project manager Jason Shea, and Congressman Frank Pallone.

Congressman Frank Pallone was at the Brighton Avenue beach, the northern end of the Long Branch replenishment project area on Friday, to announce the details. He was joined by Long Branch officials, local Assemblymembers, NJ Department of Environmental officials, and representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the project.


The Army Corps will start moving equipment into place in November. Sand replenishment is expected to start in Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach in December, and in Long Branch this February.

In Sea Bright, sand will be placed from Island View Way north to the Tradewinds. In Monmouth Beach, replenishment is from the Bathing Pavilion near Valentine Street to Cottage Road. And in Long Branch, is goes from the West End Beach to Sycamore Avenue in Elberon.

Congressman Pallone said that the beach replenishment may look expensive, but it’s worthwhile.

“Each time I talk about beach replenishment – it’s been 30 years now – I have to stress it saves money,” he said.

Local towns like the extra sand in part because it makes beaches more attractive. Mayor John Pallone noted that the city had a “record summer in beach revenue” this year. But Congressman Pallone said the Army Corps of Engineers is really looking at the likelihood of major storms and how the sand serves as a buffer for that, and tourism is just a welcome side effect.

“There’s a very tough cost benefit analysis,” he said. A major hurricane or severe nor’easter can “add up to millions or even billions of damage.” If the storm just washes away a buffer of sand, it’s much cheaper in the long run.

This replenishment marks a milestone of sorts; it’s the first project in the area that is not part of the emergency sand brought in after Superstorm Sandy, but instead for the routine maintenance of the shoreline.

Jason Shea, project manager, from the Army Corps of Engineers, said that there would be a total of 1.6 million cubic yards of sand brought in to the area.

“This project will continue to provide the much needed beach erosion control,” he said.

The average period of time between replenishments is six years, but there’s a lot of variation depending on the amount of erosion.

The total cost is $37.4 million. The federal government pays for 65% of the project, with the state paying three-quarters of the remaining cost, and the individual towns picking up the remainder, the exact amount they pay for depending on the amount of sand they’re getting, paying about nine cents for each dollar spent.

In Long Branch, Monmouth Beach and Sea Bright, that’s all roughly $1 million dollars, give or take. But Mayor John Pallone said that Monmouth County was helping to pay a portion of the costs. Long Branch’s final total part of the bill will be $600,000 to $650,000, he said.


Anthony: Council hurts E’town liability, and my reputation: Borough attorney won’t ask to be reappointed at the end of the year

By Coleen Burnett

Eatontown — The topsy-turvy world of politics in Eatontown lost another public servant at the October 23 meeting. In a somewhat stunning turn of events, Borough Attorney Gene Anthony announced he will not accept another term in his office if it were offered to him — and giving his reasons why.

In short, Anthony felt he wasn’t getting any respect.

He said he was running into several major problems when dealing with some members of the council. For one, those members did not seem to want to follow his advice. “It opens you up to liability or loss of insurance… that’s something you want to avoid at all costs.”

Secondly, those who disagree with Anthony allegedly are circumventing his advice altogether — or going to a completely different lawyer.

All of that is a bit too much. “I will not seek re-appointment as the borough attorney,” he said. The borough attorney is a professional appointment, chosen by the mayor and council.

Anthony said that the constant challenges to his advice pose a danger to his reputation. “I’ve worked on this job for four years — served this borough council in other years, and in other towns in other years — and I will not put myself in that position further. I will continue to finish my contract through this year because I have a contractual obligation and I feel I have a moral obligation to the citizens of Eatontown whom I have served for 35 years.”

He said borough employees also worked very hard, with little fanfare or recognition for their extra efforts. Borough Clerk Julie Martin and her staff were singled out, as was the soon-to-be-departing Borough Administrator Cherron Rountree.

“Show all the staff the respect they deserve because they are working on a day-to-day basis to carry out your policies,” he concluded.

Anthony was the fourth major employee in Eatontown to announce his resignation that week. Rountree announced she was leaving to take the position of Borough Administrator in Holmdel, and Zoning Officer Erik Brachman, and Public Works Director Spencer Carpenter also said they would be leaving the borough.



Mass resignation for OEM department in Oceanport

By Neil Schulman

Oceanport — The coordinators of the Office of Emergency Management and all but one volunteer for the department have all submitted their letters of resignation effective at the end of the year. They have said Borough Council members have not funded the purchase of an essential vehicle, which has been unusable for nearly two years, and they have “no confidence” in the council members on the Public Safety Committee.

OEM Director Mauro “Buzz” Baldanza told The Link that at the Oct. 17 council meeting, he read a prepared statement on “lack of action” to replace a vehicle which broke down in early 2018.

Council members have called the events of the Oct. 17 Borough Council meeting a “political theater” and say they have supported emergency responders.

At the meeting, Baldanza said that, “In January of 2018, the OEM 2004 Dodge Durango had an engine failure, the repair of which was more than the vehicle was worth. So it was removed from service. This vehicle served as our response vehicle, equipped with radio communications, a laptop computer with internet capabilities, a rear command console with floor plans, area maps, incident command vest, 6 portable radios, assorted supplies and equipment.”

Baldanza told The Link that having this equipment in the vehicle saved valuable time, allowing him to enter reports and data without having to go back to the office. It also allowed the OEM to keep in communications if there was a power outage.

In 2018, when council asked for request items for the capital budget, Baldanza said OEM submitted a quote for a replacement vehicle. After some more research, he submitted a second, lower quote for a $68,000 vehicle.

“The design of this vehicle was based on the potential risk factors the community could face and not just on a whim,” he said.

“It wasn’t till June 2019 that I had to text our CFO and asked if the vehicle replacement was being funded. I was told it was not,” Baldanza told council. “I never got a word, email, phone call, not one form of communication from Public Safety or Finance council members on this matter.”

He said there has only been one Public Safety meeting since 2015, in June 2018. Baldanza told council that with the exception of Councilman Michael O’Brien, who joined this year, he and the other members of the OEM have “no confidence” in the Finance or Public Safety Committees.

He said that working at the OEM has been a passion since he started.

“But when your community leaders, don’t support your efforts, that’s when the passion fire really starts to burn out and the fire of indignation builds.”

As a result, Baldanza announced that he, Chris Baggot, 1st Assistant Director; Wes Sherman, 2nd Assistant Director; and Police Chief Michael Kelly serving as 3rd Assistant Director, along with volunteers Pat Hickey, Rich Barnes, Keith Seely, Christina Ellam, Wendy Baggot, and Kevin Arban, were resigning effective Jan. 1. They would be resigning sooner, he said, but it’s hurricane season and they don’t want to leave the borough unprotected during a potential weather threat.

“We feel this drastic action is necessary to illustrate our collective professional concerns for the well-being of the residents of the community that we love and serve,” he said.

Baldanza told The Link News that he’s been with the Oceanport OEM for 18 years, taking over as Coordinator when its former head, Harry Sutton, was promoted to Police Chief. He’s been through numerous storms, as well as Hurricanes Irene and Sandy and other situations.

The position of OEM Director pays $4,000 a year.

Facebook pages exploded.

The Oceanport Republican Committee page posted a lengthy refutation from the Committee of Baldanza’s remarks, saying “your Council most certainly supports our emergency responders.” (Normally posts under the name “Oceanport Republican Committee” are made by Councilman Robert Proto.)

The post said that Baldanza already has a taxpayer funded truck he drives to and from his office. (Another post on the Oceanport Residents Facebook page said that since the summer Baldanza has left this truck behind a firehouse for OEM use, since it has the sirens and other equipment staff might need for emergency use).

The Oceanport Republican’s post also suggested this was an “orchestrated piece of political theater” for the Nov. 5 election, where Proto is running against incumbent mayor Coffey.

“The timing of Buzz’s resignation is also suspect. Did he resign in June when the budget was passed? No! If not getting his truck was so tragic, why didn’t he resign then? Did he notify anyone on council of his intentions between June and tonight? No! Could it be that he timed his announcement at the last meeting before the election in 2 weeks, while in front of a roomful of Mayor Coffey’s supporters? Most definitely!”

The post went on to say that the Finance and Public Safety Committees had made several purchases to help emergency responders this year, and rejected others.

Purchases included two power cots for the First Aid Squad, and a pair of SUVs for the police department. OEM’s truck was rejected though, as was a request for a $1 million new fire truck.

“Our jobs require making difficult decisions. Sometimes that means being unpopular and getting berated publicly. We know it comes with the territory and are still willing to make those tough calls,” the post said, urging voters to support Proto and his running mates, Councilman Joe Irace and Steve Solan, because making these decisions keeps the budget under control.

“The choice… is as clear as can be. Proto, Irace and Solan are the candidates willing to say no and make the difficult decisions because we always put taxpayers first,” the Oceanport Republican Committee said.

Many on the Oceanport Residents group had other comments and opinions, with a post announcing Baldanza’s resignation quickly getting over 100 posts.

“I do disaster and resilience research. Buzzy is well known and very very very well respected by emergency mangers, disaster planners, flood plain managers and private consultants throughout the state and region,” said Jack Harris. “His Sandy response was a masterful orchestration of volunteers, local know-how, and state and federal assistance… This action actually puts the town in jeopardy.”

Others, such as Maura Kelly, did see this as a call to vote for Coffey and his team.

“We need a big change for our community which is feeling so divided and lacking that friendly, warm feeling Oceanport is known for. I really feel that Buzzy didn’t deserve how he was treated,” she wrote.



Fall Festival offers treats, crafts, kids and pooch parades

By Patty Booth O’Neill

Some were scary, some were original, all were adorable – kids and pets.

Saturday was perfect weather for the Fall Festival sponsored by the Greater Long Branch Chamber of Commerce and Pier Village.

There were plenty of rides and activities for the kids, craft tables with jewelry and clothing and much more with a lively DJ that kept things moving. To the delight of everyone, there were plenty of costumed characters roaming around, interacting with the kids and posing for photos.

“This is one of my favorite events held here,” said Nicole Gilford, head of marketing for Pier Village. “After this we start preparing for the Tree Lighting in December, another one of my favorites.”

The afternoon started with the Pooch Parade with over 45 dogs and owners showing off their costumes, the most entrees so far.

“This event gets bigger every year,” said Chamber Executive Director Nancy Kleiberg. “We’re very thankful that Pier Village offers to help sponsor it with us.”

The event started in West End, but lost that space after the street and sidewalks were reconfigured.

“Pier Village offered to hold it, and as it turns out, it’s a perfect match.”

Dog owners were serious about dressing up and the dogs were hysterical as they paraded along the boardwalk to be judged on their costumes.

The kids then parade around, though not judged, and then went trick or treating at the stores.


Pooch Parade winners

1st Place Winner: Luigi’s Italian Ice, Owner: Holly & Bob Wigdor, East Brunswick

2nd Place: Lunch Box, Owner: Vanessa Monesano, Clifton

3rd Place: Mermaid Kami, Owner: Kristin Honey, Spring Lake

If you would like to see a fun video of all the funny, creative costumes, go to The Link News on Facebook.

For more photos go to The


Theater Review: Sex, violence and surprises make Lily a compelling drama

By Madeline Schulman

Long Branch — Christopher Daftsios, who wrote and stars in Lily, now having its World Premiere at NJ Rep, has created a juicy role for himself. Country music star Toby Crenshaw is an easy man to dislike. Within minutes of finishing his performance at a concert arena in Omaha, Toby has gulped a handful of pills and a swig of Jack Daniels, stripped to his red, white and blue briefs (hilariously sucking in his gut when others can see him), refused to do any encores or meet the mayor of Omaha, been gratuitously rude to his manager, Sam (Tait Ruppert) and his right hand man, Tommy (Adam von Pier) and revealed that he recently forgot his son’s birthday.

Yet even such a monster of ego and entitlement doesn’t deserve the torrent of physical and mental anguish about to be unleashed on him.

Christopher Daftsios and Joy Donze in Lily, having its world premiere at NJ Rep. (Andrea Phox Photography photo)

Tommy’s job includes screening young girls to entertain Toby in his dressing room after a performance, gathering their IDs to make sure they are legal and attractive.

At the head of the line on the night Lily takes place is “Haley from Georgia” (Joy Donze), beautiful, sexy, and full of secrets. Haley is clear that she is in charge of anything between her and Toby, and she uses her amazing strength and fighting skills to enforce her terms.

After sex, Haley reveals that she has the means to blackmail Toby, and some shocking news which will make the revelation of their intercourse the end of his career.

Special praise to Fight/Intimacy Director Brad Lemons. The violence is really scary. The “intimacy” is really believable, a good reason why no one under 17 is admitted to Lily.

Daftsios and Donze are excellent, and Ruppert and von Pier get to shine in two of the quieter moments of the play. While trying to find a solution to Toby’s problems, Sam reminisces about the happy day when he first discovered Toby’s talent and gave him the guitar Toby still cherishes. Tommy reveals to Haley that he might have been more than a combination bouncer and pimp because of a beautiful secret talent. Perhaps if his entourage had not coddled and enabled him, Toby could have been the decent human who sometimes appears behind his facade.

The setting by Jessica Parks is a dressing room with kitchen facilities and an en suite bathroom. It is so nice that my husband joked it might be a mistake, since the actors at NJ Rep might demand equal facilities. Let’s hope that instead they keep presenting thought-provoking drama.

Lily runs through Nov. 24 at NJ Rep, 179 Broadway. Regular performances are Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. For tickets and information visit or call 732-229-3166.

Gopal visits Oakhurst Easterseals

Ocean Township — Senator Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth) recently visited Easterseals New Jersey Day Habilitation Center in Oakhurst.

Senator Vin Gopal at Easterseals New Jersey Day Habilitation Center.

Gopal and the Easterseals staff discussed the services that they deliver to more than 5,000 New Jerseyans each year, including the program participants in the Oakhurst center.

Gopal expressed his support for providing the resources needed to ensure that care for the developmentally disabled is available. Day Habilitation services fill a critical role in the continuum of care by ensuring that program participants lead fulfilling and rewarding lives. Easterseals New Jersey offers those in the Day Habilitation Program the ability to participate in community life through volunteer work, educational opportunities and recreational activities.

The Day Habilitation Programs works with adults 21 and over who have an intellectual and or developmental disability to assist them in achieving their life goals. Their community-based day program staff teach participants valuable life skills through hands-on instruction and real world experiences.