Mexican national who lived in Long Branch guilty of murder

(FREEHOLD) A Long Branch man was sentenced Wednesday to 14 years in a New Jersey state prison after admitting earlier this year to his role in the 2013 death of an El Salvadorian man found dead in the basement of a Willow Avenue residence, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Victor Garzon-Alvarez, 30, a Mexican national who was living in Long Branch, was sentenced Wednesday afternoon by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Francis J. Vernoia, P.J.Cr. for the stabbing death of 39-year-old Manuel Vilaseca-Cortez, of Long Branch, the father of five children. The 14-year prison sentence is subject to the provisions of the “No Early Release Act” (NERA) requiring him to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for release on parole. He will also be under parole supervision for five years following his release from state prison.

Vilaseca-Cortez was found dead on Jan. 3, 2013, in the basement of a Willow Avenue home where he was living after Long Branch police responded to a 911 call around 4:20 p.m. reporting the discovery of an unresponsive male. Law enforcement officers found the deceased victim, covered by a blanket, on top of two rolls of carpet padding that served as a bed for defendant Victor Garzon-Alvarez. Garzon-Alvarez, who shared the basement dwelling with another man, had not been seen by any of the residents of the premises for several days prior to the finding.

An autopsy revealed Vilaseca-Cortez sustained numerous injuries: two stab wounds to the chest, two stab wounds to the left side of the abdomen, one stab wound to the neck, one stab wound to the left elbow, and blunt force trauma to the left hand. The cause of death was determined to be one of the stab wounds to the chest.

A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Long Branch Police Department, and U.S. Marshal’s Office led to the arrest of Garzon-Alvarez on Jan. 16, 2013. The investigation ultimately revealed Garzon-Alvarez and the victim were acquaintances who spent the early morning hours of New Year’s Day in the basement dwelling. An altercation ensued resulting in Garzon-Alvarez stabbing the victim to death. Garzon-Alvarez, who was not wounded during the incident, placed the victim on his sleeping area before fleeing the residence.

The case was prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Stacy Handler and Julia Alonso. The defendant is represented by Raymond Santiago, Esq., of Freehold.

Beach replenishment from southern Deal to Loch Arbour begins

At a press conference in Allenhurst on Friday, Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. kicked off the start of a federally funded beach replenishment project covering the area stretching from Philips Avenue in southern Deal to Loch Arbour.
The funding for this project is entirely federal and is part of the Sandy aid package.

“We fought hard in Congress for the Sandy relief funding New Jersey deserves,” said Congressman Pallone. “Beaches are a fundamental part of life here on the shore, both for residents and our tourist economy. I will continue to fight for replenishment projects to help protect homes and businesses along the Jersey Shore from future flooding and to repair the destruction caused by Sandy.”

The replenishment project will cover the placement of 1,400,000 cubic yards of sand for reconstruction of the shoreline from Deal to Loch Arbour. It also includes lengthening six existing stormwater outfalls, as well as modification of two existing groins (also known as jetties).

A contract award for the second half of the overall project, which includes beach replenishment from Philips Ave in Deal north to Lake Takanassee in Elberon, will be awarded later this year.

Originally, the Army Corps had planned to notch six jetties between Elberon and Loch Arbour. However, after meeting with Congressman Pallone and concerned citizens, including fishermen, surfers and recreational users in the area, the Army Corps agreed to only notch three groins within the project area. One at Deal Casino and the other at Marine Place, will be notched as a part of the southern Deal to Loch Arbour contract, and a third at Phillips Avenue will be notched under the forthcoming contract that will cover Elberon to northern Deal.

The Army Corps is also working with the Deal Lake Commission to finalize plans to install an electronic gate in the Deal Lake Flume to allow the outfall to be cleared efficiently if it were to become blocked by sand, an issue which was also discussed at last year’s meeting.

Earlier this year, the Army Corps awarded the contract for the $38,283,230 project to Manson Construction Company.

Congressman Pallone was joined at the site by Colonel Paul Owen, Commander of the New York District of the Army Corps of Engineers, Commissioner Bob Martin of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Mayor Paul Fernicola of Loch Arbour, and Mayor David McLaughlin of Allenhurst.

County-wide food drive ends April 30

The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders reminds residents that they still have time to donate to the County-wide food drive benefiting the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.
“Our generous residents have already donated more than 2,000 pounds of food, but we can’t stop now,” said Freeholder John P. Curley. “We still have time to put more food on the FoodBank’s shelves.”

Collection bins will be available at many County locations, including the County Hall of Records, Agriculture Building, Care Centers, Longstreet Farm, Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center, Belford Ferry Terminal and Monmouth County branch libraries. That includes Link area libraries such as Ocean Township, Oceanport and West Long Branch.

Food items suitable for donation are non-perishable, protein-rich foods such as peanut butter, granola bars and tuna fish. Other most needed food items are ready-to-eat canned meals, canned fruits, canned vegetables, instant potatoes, canned and dry soup, canned pork and beans, canned juices, sip-size juices and hot and cold cereal.

This is the County’s fourth consecutive April food drive. To date, Monmouth County residents have helped send 25 tons, more than 50,000 pounds, of non-perishable food to the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

“The County’s libraries and parks are the public gathering places in many communities, so it makes sense that our libraries and parks are key collection points for this annual food drive,” said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry. “The other donation locations are places where our residents often do business with the County, so we are providing convenient locations for employees and residents.”

The County’s partnership with the FoodBank stems from a situation in 2012 in which the County Social Services office was experiencing a backlog processing applications for food stamps. Curley, as liaison to Social Services, declared a food stamp emergency in Monmouth County and immediately hired part-time clerical workers to help ease the backlog.

“When people get turned away from food stamps they turn to the FoodBank,” Curley said.

Award winning author on ocean sustainability

West Long Branch — Award-winning author Paul Greenberg will give a lecture titled “American Catch: The Catch for our Local Seafood” on April 27 at 4:30 p.m. in Monmouth University’s Multi-Purpose Activity Center, Varsity Clubrooms. 
’s “American Catch” looks at three case studies: the effort to bring oysters back to our Eastern shores, the threat to Alaska’s wild salmon industry from mining interests, and the effect of globalization on Gulf Coast shrimp. This event, free and open to the public, is part of Monmouth University’s Science, Society, and Sustainability Seminar series. There will be a book signing immediately following the author’s presentation.

Greenberg is the James Beard award-winning author of the New York Times bestseller and notable book “Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food” and “American Catch: The Fight for our Local Seafood.” A regular contributor to the New York Times’ opinion page and magazine as well as a guest and commentator on public radio programs including “Fresh Air” and “All Things Considered,” Greenberg lectures widely on seafood and ocean sustainability. Kirkus Reviews called American Catch a “fascinating discussion of a multifaceted issue and a passionate call to action.”

For more information on Greenberg, visit http://www.prhspeakers.com/speaker/paul-greenberg-2/.

The Series, sponsored by School of Science and Urban Coast Institute, brings highly regarded experts to campus to engage students and the community in dialogue on critical aspects of sustainability.

EMACC now accepting scholarship applications

Applications are available for the Eastern Monmouth Area Chamber of Commerce (EMACC) and are due by May 4. Awards of $1,250 each will be made to non-traditional students in three categories: 1) students at least 25 years old and returning to school, 2) college students entering their junior or senior year and/or has completed 60 credits and 3) those pursuing post high school vocational or technical training. 
Scholarship awards will be distributed in June.

To be eligible, applicants must live or work within the service area of the Chamber – Eatontown, Fair Haven, Fort Monmouth, Little Silver, Monmouth Beach, Oceanport, Red Bank, Rumson, Sea Bright, Shrewsbury and Tinton Falls, or be employed by a Chamber member regardless of location.  The applicant does not have to be a member of the Eastern Monmouth Area Chamber but must provide a recommendation by an EMACC member in good standing who is not a family member.

Since its inception in 1998, the EMACC Educational Foundation has awarded over $150,000 in scholarships.
Applications may be downloaded from the Chamber’s website emacc.org/scholarship-application. Completed applications must be returned to the Chamber office no later than May 4, at 5 p.m. Awards will be announced in June.

Donations to support these unique awards are always welcome and may be sent to the EMACC Educational Foundation C/O EMACC, 8 Reckless Place, Red Bank, NJ 07701.

Reminder: Marathon will close roads this Sunday

The Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon is this weekend. It will draw thousands of runners and even more spectators. Several roads will be closed on Sunday.
The marathon, half marathon and relay races on Sunday morning run through Oceanport, Monmouth Beach, and Long Branch before heading north to Asbury Park, then looping back to Long Branch.

Several roads will be closed to traffic, and residents will need to remove their cars from the street before the race starts.
In Oceanport, police say the marathon and all races will begin at 7:30 a.m. at Monmouth Park Race Track’s Main entrance off of

Oceanport Ave. The race course begins at the Main Gate and the runners will run onto Crescent Place. Runners will then proceed north on Eatontown Blvd. to Wolf Hill Ave , east on Pemberton Ave. to Oceanport Ave. then south to Port au Peck Ave., to Myrtle Ave. to Monmouth Blvd. to Port Au Peck Ave. They then turn to Pocano Ave. then south on Comanche Drive, before again heading to Monmouth Blvd, and crossing the Pleasure Bay Bridge into Long Branch.

Affected roadways in Oceanport will close at 7:00am. Roadways will reopen to traffic as the last runners run from west to east. All roadways within Oceanport will open to vehicle traffic by approximately 9:30 a.m.

In Long Branch, the roads affected are: Atlantic Avenue, Long Branch Avenue, Broadway, Third Avenue, Franklin Avenue, Second Avenue, Brighton Avenue, Ocean Avenue and Ocean Blvd. Again, these will reopen when runners have finished.

The final road is scheduled to reopen by 2 p.m.

For a list of Monmouth Beach roads on the route, see Around Monmouth Beach, page 17.
There are several events leading up to the marathon on Friday and Saturday, including kids’ races and expos. More about these, and race information, can be found on www.njmarathon.org.

Humane Society: Volunteers were safety risk; Volunteers: You’re distorting facts

By Neil Schulman

Tinton Falls — The Associated Humane Societies of New Jersey have suspended use of all volunteers at their Tinton Falls facility, saying that because they would not follow protocol, an “unacceptable” amount of injuries have occurred to animals and people.

But the volunteers say that they are being blamed unfairly, often for incidents that the paid staff were partly or wholly responsible for. They also say that there was no true protocol for them to follow.

The Associated Humane Society facility in Tinton Falls

A group of more than 20 volunteers has issued a statement that the allegations are “not only false, but heartbreaking and infuriating.”

They plan a peaceful protest outside the Shafto Road facility this Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

Both Humane Society officials and volunteers say their primary concern is the well being of the animals.

On April 12, the Associated Humane Societies and Popcorn Park (part of the same group of societies) put up a post on Facebook saying why they had temporarily stopped using volunteers. They posted a similar notice on their website the next day.

“Due to an unfortunate chain of events that took place within the volunteer program at our AHS Tinton Falls facility, we have decided to temporarily pause all volunteer activities while we restructure our program,” the statement on Facebook read.

The society said that numerous incidents had led to the decision.

“The amount of injuries sustained to both animal and human is unacceptable. It supersedes any other amounts at any other Facility operated by AHS that has an active volunteer program over the years,” it continued. They also said the volunteers refused to follow the protocol in place.

But volunteers say that some of the incidents they’re being blamed for were not their fault, or details were being misstated. They call this a “false PR campaign.”

The AHS said that several incidents resulted in death and injury to animals.

“A volunteer at an outreach allowed an AHS dog to maul an owned puppy which was gravely wounded, and needed emergency medical treatment at Red Bank Vet Hospital, which cost AHS several thousand dollars,” said the AHS statement on Facebook.

However, volunteers respond that the volunteer had the shelter dog on a tight leash and tried ot keep control of the dog; the puppy was being walked on a long leash by an owner not paying attention.

“This was an unfortunate incident, but the mastiff puppy has recovered and is currently at home with his owners. The devastated volunteer states that the owner had his dog on a long lead and wasn’t paying attention,” the letter from the volunteers states.

The AHS also claimed that a cat was killed by a dog when the canine was being “cat-tested.” Volunteers respond that the incident was done by professionals.

“This incident occurred during a cat/dog test performed by staff members 3 years ago. Volunteers were not involved.”

“Another one of our dogs was severely bitten in the rear area by a dog when two volunteers were walking them, and ignoring our ‘walk dogs separately’ policy,” the AHS stated. “This incident also cost several thousand dollars for emergency medical treatment at Red Bank Vet Hospital.”

Volunteers say that in this case, there’s video footage that shows this was not the case.

“Two dogs were not being walked together. A volunteer was returning a dog to its kennel and noticed that another dog had gotten out of its kennel and was off leash. At the same time, another volunteer was bringing a dog out for a walk. In a rush to get all dogs to safety, as well as contain the off leash dog, the volunteers got a little too close to each other. One of the dogs bit the other’s hindquarters.… The injury that did occur was minor, but the lack of an in-house AHS veterinarian caused a medical expense at an outside vet hospital. This incident can be confirmed via the video surveillance which is on 24/7 at the shelter.”

The AHS also says that volunteers solicited funds, but did not return the money collected to the shelter. Volunteers say that if this is true, charges should be filed against those who cheated, and dismissing the whole program is not the way to go.

The AHS says that they run successful programs in their other locations in the state, but Tinton Falls had problems.

“The situation at Tinton Falls turned into a recipe for disaster. Had protocol been adhered to as it is at our other two locations, 99 percent of these incidents could have been prevented. Our methods and guidelines work, which is why we have continued to have positive volunteer programs available at our other two facilities that run without the kinds of issues we have tried so diligently to prevent in Tinton Falls,” their statement reads.

Volunteers say that one of the problems was there were no written protocols given to them, just verbal. “Whenever we were told ‘Newark says you have to do XYZ,’ we followed the new set of rules. Additionally, the volunteer program had its own set of rules that gradually introduce new volunteers to animals in a careful, controlled manner,” their letter states.

Mechele Shoneman, who has been volunteering at the Tinton Falls location since 2010, says that she and other volunteers feel that the AHS is treating them unfairly, and they’re not really equipped to counter it.

“We have organized to help dogs, not deal with the media,” she said.

Statements from both sides say that they have the interest of animals at heart. Volunteers have told The Link that they worry the animals will not be socialized with people and will not receive as much attention with just the staff covering. The AHS has stated it is bringing in staff and volunteers from other locations to help care for the animals.

A Facebook page for the Friends of the Tinton Falls AHS was taken down. Volunteers say that it would have shown they have thousands of supporters. The AHS has said it intends to restore it within a few days.

This has divided many supporters of the AHS. One Facebook comment on the announcement said “Wow, no common sense or respect for life with these certain ex volunteers. Plz be thorough on your new applications. Horribly sad that volunteers can be so irresponsible.” Another said, “Nope, I’m not buying it. You don’t close down an entire volunteer program because a couple people don’t follow protocol, or because of a couple unfortunate incidents.”

One volunteer at the society, said she did not want her name used because she is “hoping to get back in” when the new policies are put in place. But she said she was “heartbroken” at being told she could no longer help the animals there.

“They ripped a part of my whole life,” she said. “I’d leave my family on the holidays to help.”

She thought that this was an issue with “upper management,” but said that she was discouraged with some of the nasty comments she’d seen both sides. And she noted that volunteers were providing evidence to back up their side.

The situation seemed a little ridiculous, she said. “Volunteers getting fired? What a joke.”

Is this the next Oceanport borough hall?

By Neil Schulman
Oceanport — The borough will hold a Town Hall meeting on April 21 to discuss several possible locations for a new borough hall, and whether the facilities should include the police department and library. Each of the five locations being considered has its own pros and cons.
The cost for most of the facilities would be between $5 million to $10 million, though FEMA is expected to reimburse Oceanport for much of the expense.

In October 2012, Superstorm Sandy not only flooded the Monmouth Boulevard building, rendering it unusable for several weeks, but caused structural damage. Borough offices are currently operating out of the Old Wharf House; the police from the former Fort Monmouth Fire Department; and the library at the Oceanport Community Center.
At the April 2 Borough Council meeting, Borough Architect Andrew Torchia said that they have been reviewing five possible sites for building a new borough hall. They include:
• Creating a more flood-proofed building at the Monmouth Boulevard location.
• Building a structure next to Maria Gatta Park.
• Purchasing the (Teicher) plaza on East Main Street, and using the middle structure for the Borough Hall.
• Building a new facility on a vacant part of Main Street on Fort Monmouth.
• Acquiring Russel Hall at Fort Monmouth, currently out for bid.

The review process
Torchia reviewed all but the Russel Hall proposal for council, as that is an existing building with different issues.
Torchia said that his firm and the council’s Site Selection Committee first determined how much space was needed, and how it could be configured to meet the needs of Oceanport and the community.

A total of 22,500 square feet is required, with the library and police department. Some of the properties would require a two- or three-story building for that due to limited footprints.

All the designs would also look at how space can be shared. They would include things such as a multipurpose room. “That can serve as your court room, that can serve as your meeting room, that can serve as OEM (office of emergency management) emergency space,” Torchia said.

They also looked at saving space by having part-time positions share offices.

Following that, they looked at the reasons to consider each location.

“With the selection committee, we also went through the pros and cons of each property,” Torchia said.

For example, the pros of the Maria Gatta Park site include a central location, easy to get to from all of Oceanport. It would also allow the borough to work easily on recreation-related programs. However, since the site is on Green Acres property, Oceanport would need to find land to swap for it. It might also suffer traffic problems when Monmouth Park Racetrack is open.
Torchia said buying the plaza could be an opportunity to spur new development and businesses to the borough, could bring in more revenue from rental (from the existing businesses such as the pharmacy, convenience store, bank, etc.) than it currently does in taxes and it might be less expensive to renovate an existing structure than build a new one. On the other hand, it would cost money to acquire the property, there could be parking issues, the entrance and exits aren’t ideal for the police department, and “you would be in the landlord business,” Torchia noted.

The Monmouth Boulevard structure could be rebuilt to be flood-proof. Oceanport already owns the land, and everyone in the borough knows where it is. However, the parking lot would still get inundated by heavy rain.

“If another flood comes, you’re not going to get to it,” Torchia said.

That might be less of a problem if the police department doesn’t move back, since then there wouldn’t be any inaccessible emergency services.

Police, library and costs
There are advantages to having the police department as part of the existing structure, allowing the police officers to easily coordinate with governing officials and other employees. However, it would come at a cost: space for a fully furnished police department is about $450 per square foot, compared to $300-400 for the rest of the facility.

That means that the average cost with a police department for a new building would be $10 million, whereas a smaller structure without it could cost $5-7 million, Torchia said.

Not including the library would save square footage, but it does not require excessive equipment.

While many people are happy with the current location, Councilwoman Ellynn Kahle said  she has been told by library officials that they feel isolated where they currently are.

Still, the Selection Committee is recommending not including either department in the new borough hall.

Russel Hall
At the council meeting, officials introduced a $1.2 million bond to allow it to go out to bid on the building.

FMERA, the Fort

If Oceanport officials choose to purchase site, they would occupy or rebuild the middle structure. The other stores would remain.

, has issued Requests For Offers To Purchase the property, due April 13.

Mayor Michael Mahon said that the borough must assure funds are available, which this bond ordinance will do.

The mayor said that this was preliminary work to satisfy FMERA that Oceanport was taking the process seriously.

“We have to introduce — only introduce — a bond ordinance showing funds are available,” Mahon said. “This is not our bid amount. This is just an all in number,” he said. He added that if Oceanport is successful, it expects to be reimbursed by FEMA for the costs.

Russel Hall has 40,000 square feet of space, though 10,000 is in a basement with undersized ceilings and might not be usable. The other 30,000 is spread over three stories.

Public hearing
Due to the complexity of the project, Oceanport is seeking public input. A town hall meeting will be held April 21 at Maple Place School to discuss the projects with the public in more detail.

‘Chhange’ observes Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 17

Community members are invited to a special Holocaust Remembrance Day event on Friday, April 17 at 9:30 a.m. at Brookdale Community College, 765 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft. 
Join local Holocaust survivors, family members and community leaders for a ceremony of remembrance followed by a performance by the Marlboro High School Chorus.

This year’s commemoration will also feature renowned scholar and author Robert Jan van Pelt, PhD, one of the world’s leading experts on the Auschwitz extermination camp.

A professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada, Dr. Van Pelt was one of four historians who served as an expert witness for the defense in the infamous Irving-Lipstadt trial in 2000. In honor of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Dr. Van Pelt will speak about the liberation of the camps and the “symbolic end” to the Holocaust.

The free program is hosted by the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights and Genocide Education (Chhange) at Brookdale in partnership with the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey and the Former Fort Monmouth Holocaust Remembrance Committee.

The event will be held in the Brookdale Recreation and Events Center, with parking in lots 6 and 7. For more information call Chhange at 732-224-1889 or visit www.chhange.org.

MU hosts women’s forum April 30

West Long Branch — What do a landscaper, a banker, and a recycler all have in common? They are all successful business leaders who have overcome gender stereotypes en route to success. Linda Bowden, Valerie Montecalvo and Karen Siciliano will discuss their experiences at  Monmouth University’s upcoming women’s forum, “The Unpaved Road to Success: How New Jersey Business Leaders Forged Their Path.”
The panel discussion, sponsored by the Leon Hess Business School, is slated for Thursday, April 30 at 4:30 p.m. in Wilson Auditorium.

Bowden, New Jersey regional president of PNC Bank, has been named among the “25 Women to Watch” by U.S. Banker magazine and was recognized as one of the “Best 50 Women in Business” by NJBiz.

Montecalvo is owner and CEO of Bayshore Recycling Corporation (BRC), a nationally-recognized and award-winning facility in Woodbridge. A New Jersey native, Montecalvo leads the most diverse and multifaceted operation of its kind on the East Coast. BRC’s Eco-Complex and Energy Campus has been coined the “Mega-Mall for Recycling” by former NJDEP Commissioner, Lisa Jackson, who was a former USEPA administrator under President Barack Obama.

Siciliano is president of Siciliano Landscape Company in Red Bank, which is a full-service landscape architecture firm in addition to providing maintenance and installation. She had been working in finance for 18 years, serving as vice president of JP Morgan and Chase Manhattan Bank in Mortgage Backed Securities, and then the 9/11 attacks changed her world. Several months later she left Wall Street to take over her family’s 80-year old landscape business.

Peter S. Reinhart, director of Monmouth University’s Kislak Real Estate Institute, will facilitate the panel discussion.
This event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required. To register, call 732-571-3423 or visit monmouth.edu/business-school/Womens-Forum-RSVP.aspx.