7th Annual Vacation Expo a big success

On Saturday, February 22, from 10 a.m.– 2 p.m. Dearborn Market’s indoor garden center was transformed into a festive travel destination for the public to enjoy browsing for their next vacation destination.

The award winning, time-tested Excel Travel – celebrating 26 years of success – featured more than 35 of their favorite vacation vendors, operators and owners of top-notch travel destinations.

These experts provided first-hand information about a wide variety of travel destinations.

The possibilities were limitless including everything from an exotic safari, a fun-filled, family cruise, a romantic getaway or simply a resort within a day’s drive, it was all on display at the Vacation Expo.

As shoppers entered the warm garden center they heard the sounds of Tropical Island Music performed by local artist Mario DaCunha.

No matter what your idea of a dream vacation is, it was easy planning at the Vacation Expo. There was an endless variety of journeys available with the lowest prices possible (even compared to Expedia, Travelocity, etc.)

With 26 years in the business and a staff of travel counselors whose average experience is 24 years, Excel Travel owner Friedli kicked off by stating his four reasons (with comments), on why you should use a travel agency for booking your next vacation.

1. Best Price. “I can get better pricing online,” Friedli said when asked about online deal sites, “Have you ever seen any proof that you can better prices online? I’ve never been able to find a survey that confirms that you can get lower prices on Expedia, Travelocity or Travel Zoom compared from what you get from a travel agency. Never.”

2. Expert Advice. Friedli talked about the inside knowledge his travel counselors have, one even having gone to Disneyland 39 times. “Yes, you can do it online. When we do it for you, you get free expert advice. You pay for the services of a travel agency whether you use a travel agency or not. We’ve had a customer come in with their Expedia print-out for a cruise. We pointed out that this is a great cruise with a great cabin. We can get you the same price, but for $50 more, you can get a cabin that’s not above the nightclub so you can actually sleep at night.”

3. 24/7 Emergency Service. In discussing airline cancellations or delays, “If there is a problem with your flight, we can help bail you out. We know what airlines can and cannot do.” If warranted, Excel Travel can get you compensated.

4. Shift the Risk. “People make mistakes when they book their own vacation. You’d be surprised how many people book flights to Naples, Florida instead of Naples, Italy.”

“It’s not about cheaper. You can always get cheaper. It’s about getting value,” said Friedli.

Friedli also mentioned that in many countries, passports must be valid for three or six months past the return date of their trip.

Excel Travel knows the tricks of the trade in saving money. “If you’re traveling for a long weekend getaway, book between Saturday and Tuesday. If you’re planning a roundtrip, always price two, one-way tickets. It’s not always less expensive, but always worth a try, especially for international flights. If you have a family of five, you’ll get the lowest online price for all five tickets. If you price one ticket at time, savings could be significantly more.”

Ted Friedli also sees travel as a way to give back to the community. In 2010, he founded Kick Cancer Overboard (www.kickcanceroverboard.org), a nonprofit organization that has given away almost 300 free cruises to people whose lives have been affected by cancer.

For more information, you can call Excel Travel, at 732-571-1960 or visit: www.exceltravel.com.



Avery Grant receives Chamber’s 2020 Humanitarian Award

Long Branch — The Greater Long Branch Chamber of Commerce has announced it will award its 2020 Humanitarian Award to

Avery W. Grant, P.E.

Grant will be honored at the 86th Annual Business Awards Dinner will be held on Friday, March 20, at the Ocean Place Resort & Spa, 1 Ocean Blvd. along with others who will be recognized for their contributions of Long Branch.

Grant is a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel, and he built his home in Long Branch, preparing to go to the Vietnam War in 1967.

He is a member of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Long Branch, where he has served as Lay Leader, Sunday School Teacher, Men’s Club President, and Lay Member to the State Conference. For 27 years, he has coordinated the Free Community Easter Sunday and Thanksgiving Day Dinners, serving 200 meals and delivering 150 meals to homes and Senior public housing residences

As a Long Branch School Board member for 20 years, he assisted in getting the state to build the five new schools, and to renovate the Historic High School. For the Air Force ROTC Ca-dets, Grant acquired two Electronic Flight Simulators for their training, and assisted one cadet in getting a flying license. He brings in prominent persons, some whom are graduates to interact with the students.

He is the Chairman of the New Jersey School Board Association Task Force for Student Achievement.

Avery, as Executive Director of the Long Branch Concerned Citizens Coalition (Volunteers) and working with the New Jersey Department of Environment Protection, is having the 18-acre contaminated Long Branch Avenue Site remediated. The Coalition caused the contaminated Seaview Manor and Grant Court Public Housing demolished and rebuilt, and in Health law-suits, 292 citizens received from $20,000 to $200,000.

As the Chairman of the Monmouth County Advisory Council on Aging, endorsed the start of the Senior Citizens Area Transportation System and Meals on Wheels. He also coordinated the Swine Flu inoculations of Long Branch Senior Citizens, and started the County Senior Citizens Picnic. And, now, is a County Fair Housing Board Member.

He was the 1975-1977 Chairman of the Monmouth County Cotillion, conducted in the Asbury Park Convention Hall, awarding scholarships to high school seniors.

As a State-Certified Volunteer In Probation, Grant counseled and helped Long Branch youths who had committed minor infractions, and thus avoided confinement.

Appointed by Mayor Cioffi, Avery, as the Long Branch VFW Post Commander, with Jack Kiely, coordinated a very successful month-long honoring and fundraising for four Long Branch Vietnam War amputees.

For three years, Grant, with Thomas Armour, produced and published the free, bi-weekly, Community Newspaper, an African American publications of 5,000 circulation.

* * *

Receiving the prestigious Libutti Award this year are Esther Cohen, managing partner of Cedars & Beeches Inn, Long Branch and Tonya Garcia, Director of the Long Branch Free Public Library.

Other awards being presented that night: The President’s Award to Mr. & Mrs. Feliciano of FEM Real Estate for the accessible beach access; Invest in Long Branch award to The Kushner Company for The Wave Resort, and the Business Improvement Awards to Long Branch Distillery, The Butcher’s Block, Grubman 57-61 Brighton Avenue, and Beach Bee Meadery.

Dinner tickets are available at $115 per person. Please contact the Chamber at info@longbranchchamber.org or 732-222-0400. Tickets can also be purchased through Eventbrite: chamberawardsdinner.eventbrite.­com.

Ocean Twp. and Shore Regional play for Ollie

By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr

Ocean Township — It was a breath of fresh air to attend the 1st Annual Mya Hoops Classic basketball games at Ocean Township High School on Fe. 1. The games were organized in remembrance of Mya Lin Terry, who passed away at the tender age of 10, after battling cancer for nearly six years.

Before the start of the 1st Annual Mya’s Hoops Classic basketball game players on the Ocean Township HS squad presented Ollie Daneshagar, who is fighting cancer, with a game ball. His mom, Bethany is a teacher at OTHS.

Mya would have been a member of the Ocean Township High School Class of 2020. For many years the Mya’s Cup has been an annual fundraising game organized by the girls’ soccer team at the high school. This year, the boys’ basketball team decided to host the 1st Annual Mya’s Hoops Classic. They invited Shore Regional High School to participate in a doubleheader.

“Welcome to the 1st ever Mya’s Hoop Classic. We are so happy that Shore Regional is able to share this special day and event with us. Their support means so much,” said Kelly Terry, Mya’s mom. Kelly is also a graduate of OTHS Class of 1985 and President of the Mya Lin Terry Foundation. “After battling cancer for five and half years, Mya gained her angel wings on April 10, 2013 at the age of 10. Mya continues to inspire us to make a difference and what better way to continue to honor Mya’s memory than to support other pediatric cancer warriors in our community.”

Pediatric cancer is not rare. In fact, Monmouth County has the third highest rate of cancer in the state. “We believe there is something going on here, whether it is caused by contaminated soil, air quality or water quality, for some reason our children have a higher rate of cancer than most other places,” said Kelly. She is also leading the Monmouth County “Go Gold” effort. It has been documented that our county’s proximity to water pollution from New York City, left over superfund sites at Fort Monmouth and the Deal Test Site might have a correlation to higher cancer rates.

Mya Linn Terry Foundation has helped 12 local children who have or were battling cancer. Kelly listed the cancer warriors helped by the foundation; Lily, class of 2034, Carter, class of 2032, Ollie, 2033, Xander, class of 2022, Augustus, class of 2022, Toril, class of 2022, Alyssal class of 2017, Alisonl, class of 2019 and Jake, class of 2020.

“Our angels were Mya class 2020, Logan 2025, and Matthew 2022,” added Kelly.

This year, the foundation will be helping Ollie Daneshagar. “We are showing our love and support for an Ocean Township resident and son of an OTHS teacher, Bethany,” Kelly said.

Before the start of the first game several of the Ocean Township players presented Ollie with a game ball. “This is what I hope to be the start of a fantastic tradition here at Ocean and I am proud to be a part of it, kids helping kids, and kicking cancer’s butt, one hoop, one game, at a time,” Kelly added.




Sea Bright names two redevelopers

By Neil Schulman

Sea Bright — The borough has designated redevelopers for two areas in the borough, along the riverfront and where the old school used to be.

These vacant lots on downtown River Street have been declared an area in need of redevelopment, and the borough council has chosen The Break at Sea Bright, which has proposed turning the former school lot into a boutique hotel.

At the Feb. 4 Borough Council meeting, council approved two resolutions announcing the redevelopers for these areas.

Brooks Real Estate Development was designated to redevelop a group of properties along the Shrewsbury River from Front Street to River Street; and The Break At Sea Bright for the lots by River Street off Ocean Avenue.

This is a process which has been going on for several years.

In 2016, the Borough Council asked the Unified Planning Board to examine if these two areas met the definition of places in need of redevelopment. Declaring an area in need of redevelopment allows the borough more control over what gets built, making it easier to change zoning regulations. It also can give municipalities the ability to use eminent domain to take private properties.

Hearings were held last year, where the majority of residents present said they were in favor of both proposed uses for redevelopment.

Council voted 5-1 in favor of both resolutions on Tuesday, with Councilman William “Jack” Keeler voting no.

The project off River Street, referred to as The Break At Sea Bright, calls for turning the former school property into a boutique hotel. The vacant lot on the corner of Highway 36 and River Street, currently used for parking, would be converted into a business on the first floor and housing above it.

The resolution approving it noted that there have been other proposals for the land.

The school lot is owned by River Street Realty, which came to the Planning Board with a proposal to divide that lot into eight subdivisions with housing on each. There had been complaints from council and residents that no progress was being made on the lot.

In June, the Planning Board said that River Street Realty had to present them with detailed plans for how the subdivision would work within six months. They also needed to demolish the school building, which had sat vacant for decades and was considered in poor conditions. The school came down last autumn, but the details of the subdivision never came.

“River Street Realty LLC has never perfected the subdivision,” the resolution designating The Break at Sea Bright redeveloper for the lot said. “Mayor and Council have now concluded it is appropriate to designate the Break at Sea Bright, LLC, as the redeveloper of the Downtown Properties.”

For Brooks Real Estate Development, which has proposed turning the riverfront into The Haven At Sea Bright — a series of houses and townhouses, as well as a new park, dog walk, public parking and boardwalk along the riverfront — eminent domain isn’t going to be needed. All the properties in the area are owned by a single company which wants to see this happen.

Trip Brooks, known locally for his development work in revitalizing Asbury Park, is involved with both projects.




Oft glossed over history of NJ slavery brought to light

By Coleen Burnett

Eatontown — Kicking off Black History Month, the Eatontown Historical Committee held a lecture on February 2 about the history of slavery in New Jersey at the Community Center. It’s part of the Borough’s 350th Anniversary celebration. It is a history that is fraught with confusion, misinformation — and more than a few surprises.

Historian Rick Geffken talks about the long history of slavery in New Jersey.

Guest lecturer Rick Geffken told The Link that teaching the history of slavery in the state has been an exercise in glossing facts over, mostly through sheer ignorance, that has been passed down through many generations.

New Jersey was, indeed, a slave state. Perhaps worse, New Jersey was the last northern state to ratify the Emancipation Proclamation — in 1866.

“It was always down south, not up here,” he said.

Geffken said he attended a Catholic grammar school in northern New Jersey. “It wasn’t on the curriculum. They were more interested in teaching other stuff. This was the 1950’s. It wasn’t considered important.”

That is changing. A few years ago, the state passed the Armistead Law, which mandates that black history has to be infused into each school’s curriculum.

Geffken said the entire subject is complicated. “It’s complicated {in terms of} the fact that not only don’t people know it, there’s a great degree of denial.”

He said challenging someone’s lifelong beliefs is a very hard process. “There are racists who don’t want to believe that this happened,” he continued. “If they admit that this happened, then they have to explain their position. They won’t do it,” he said.

“There are people who do not want to believe what is uncomfortable.”

But in the end, Geffken said, the tide is changing, especially in the black community. He encourages them to write — and publish — their individual stories to help fill in the blanks. In other words, to get the true experience, write it down and pass it on to others.

“I can be as empathetic as I want, but I can’t feel it. I know it and I see it, but I can’t have the same experience,” he said.

A slide from Rick Geffken’s presentation looking at slavery in Monmouth County, and the abolition movement.



City Hall receives piece of American history

Long Branch — On Friday, the City of Long Branch got a valuable delivery from America’s past: the personal china cabinet of the country’s 18th President, Ulysses S. Grant.

Standing next to the installed cabinet, left to right are: Janice Grace, Mayor John Pallone, Harold Josefowitz, Lisa Kelly, and Jim Foley.

A bold and innovative soldier, Grant led the U.S. Army to win the Civil War. From the start of his presidency in 1869 to his death in 1885, Grant spent his summers in Long Branch, which established the city’s reputation as the summer resort capital of the nation. Though the cottage he relaxed in no longer stands, some of his personal effects remain, including the black walnut cabinet now in City Hall.

“While the Seven Presidents Museum undergoes renovations, City Hall will display President Grant’s china cabinet to the public. We hope this major artifact from our past sparks interest in Long Branch’s rich history, and compliments the city’s Winslow Homer Display,” said James Foley, President of the Long Branch Historical Museum Association.

City Hall boasts a number of 19th century prints about President Grant’s stay in Long Branch, which the public can view in the building. There is a photo of Grant’s summer home on Ocean Avenue in Elberon as well as a photo with his family in front of the home.

Other prints on display include President Grant leading a dance at the Stetson house, also known as the West End Hotel. There is also a scene by Thomas Nast, a New Jersey illustrator, which pokes fun of Grant as the King on the bluff at his Elberon home, and includes the Democratic Party symbol of the donkey. Nast popularized the donkey and elephant as symbols of the national political parties.

“Long Branch has a promising future, an exciting present, and a fascinating past. We are eager to show off all three at City Hall,” said Mayor John Pallone.


Jeff Oakes is discontinuing his medical treatment

By Neil Schulman

On Friday, Oceanport resident Jeffrey Oakes, advocate for medical marijuana, announced he would be discontinuing eating and medical treatment.

Jeff Oakes

Oakes, who has been battling cancer for years, said it had spread to his lungs, there were no good treatment options left for him, and he was tired about fighting with the doctors at hospitals for his medical marijuana.

“I’m now on a hunger strike,” he told The Link News, adding he was refusing medical treatment.

About four years ago, Oakes was diagnosed with cancer. The prognosis was grim and he was given only a few months to live. But among other things, he received a prescription for medical cannabis, and he credits that with keeping him alive as long as he has.

Over the last several years, he’s been seen all over New Jersey, attending municipal and town hall meetings, advocating for medical marijuana to become more easily accessible.

But the cancer has continued to spread, he said, metastasizing into his liver, and there is now a spot on his lungs.

His doctor, he said, has told him he may take as much (marijuana) as he needs. (New Jersey law allows this for terminal patients.)

“I can’t do chemo. I don’t have any medical options,” Oakes said. “My only treatment is medical cannabis.”

On Thursday, Jan. 9, Oakes went to the hospital after having trouble keeping food down. He was given intravenous fluids.

But using cannabis in hospitals is problematic. New Jersey law may permit it for medical treatment, but federal law doesn’t, and organizations are still grappling with the situation.

Oakes said he’s been in hospitals where “they looked the other way” when edibles are brought in, but not all do. He didn’t bring any to the hospital last week, aware that his room has been searched for it at times.

It’s the only drug he’s found effective in treating the pain, and he hasn’t been able to use it properly there, he said. At most, they’ve wanted to hold on to it and control the usage.

“I said, if you can’t take care of me, allow me my medical cannabis,” Oakes said.

Oakes said he was almost put on suicide watch, but talked them out of it. If he decides to actively end his life – legal in New Jersey – he said he’d seek professional assistance.

Oakes thinks he has the law on his side. Last July, New Jersey passed Jake’s Law, which said, among other things, use of medical cannabis “shall not constitute the use of an illicit substance or otherwise disqualify a qualifying patient from needed medical care.”

While I was speaking with Oakes at the hospital, a member of the cleaning staff came in. When Oakes mentioned dying, she said her brother was in a better place now.

“If I find him, I’ll take care of him for you,” Oakes said, embracing her tearfully.

He was reading the Bible when I came in. Oakes, who was raised Catholic, said he was seeking comfort, looking for a verse that was often used by marijuana advocates to show that they have a moral right to it.

It’s Genesis 1:29: “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed.”

Oakes said he’s been working to have people understand and empathize with those who need medical cannabis.

“They need to drop the idea of policy and come up with morals,” he said. “That was my goal. Not to have my cancer be pointless.”

Theater Review: Tender and powerful performances on display in Bone on Bone

By Madeline Schulman

Long Branch — “It was as if the glue was missing,” Linda (Wendy Peace) says to her husband, Johnathan (John Little), in the opening scene of Bone on Bone, a play by Marylou Dipietro having its world premiere at New Jersey Rep. The line leads Linda to mention that, as we age, the connections between our bones wear thin, and they grate on each other, bone on bone.

John Little and Wendy Peace in Bone on Bone, now playing at the New Jersey Repertory Theater. (Andrea Phox photo)

Linda and Johnathan married at 25, and have been married for 35 years (they are childless by choice) so now they are 60 – a handsome, vigorous, youthful 60, but 60 all the same, and the ligaments that held their marriage together are fraying. Many of us know of couples in long, seemingly happy unions who unexpectedly separate or divorce, and never know the reason, but we see the breaking point for these two,

Specifically, Linda and Johnathan are no longer in harmony because they want different things. Linda, an artist, has been offered a prestigious job in Providence, and wants to move to Rhode Island to live her dream life.

“Maybe I’m having a midlife crisis,” she muses, and her husband replies, “Then I hope you live to a hundred and twenty.” (The play is laced with natural, unforced humor.)

Johnathan, a lawyer, loves his New York life, and doesn’t want to move. Anyone who reads the program will know that Linda makes the move, since one of the three settings listed is “Linda’s office at Rhode Island School of Design.”

If you are wondering how set designer Jessica Parks fits three separate locations on the small stage, I reply, “Genius.”

Johnathan and Linda are always out of sync. Each has a chance to feel like the lovers in “Send in the Clowns” by Sondheim, “Me here at last on the ground, you in mid-air.” Every time one tries to reach out with a compromise or suggestion, offering a nice bottle of wine or bouquet of flowers, the other has to go for a run in Central Park, or has an unbreakable appointment. They want to be together, but not always at the same time.

As the play ended, an audience member nearby said, “That was powerful.” That struck me, because I didn’t experience a sense of power, but a feeling of tender hope.

But if she meant the emotional impact of the excellent writing and performances was powerful, I agree.

Bone On Bone runs through Feb. 9. 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 more information visit njrep.org or call 732-229-3166.

Tips on booking the perfect vacation

Long Branch — The Long Branch Free Public Library, 328 Broadway, will host “How to Book the Perfect Vacation Without Spending A Fortune,” a free workshop, on Sat., Jan. 11, 2 p.m.

The talk will be presented by Ted Friedli.

Friedli, CTC DS, is the owner of Excel Travel in Long Branch, a full service travel agency. He has worked for Swiss Air, managed several travel agencies and owned Excel Travel for the last 25 years. He is the founder of Kick Cancer Overboard, a local, not-for-profit organization sending people who are affected by cancer to sea for free vacations.

Join him to get the best travel advice, for free, without risk or obligation, and you too can enjoy a perfect vacation.


• How to pick the best beaches, cruises and resorts.

• How far in advance you should book your vacation

• Tips to save money on airline tickets.

• Is travel insurance necessary?

• And more.

No registration needed. This program is open to the public; all are welcome. For more information please call Lisa Kelly at 732-222-3900, ext. 2350.


For transparency, council nominees meet with public

By Coleen Burnett

Eatontown — In Eatontown, officials say the “new transparency” starts now.

On December 27, the three Republican candidates for the vacant seat left by the resignation of Councilman Edwin Palenzuela met at Borough Hall for an informal “Meet and Greet” with the public. Council will select one of them to fill the one-year term.

Palenzuela resigned earlier this year after he took a position in the office of a Hudson County judge. He did not wish to create an image of impropriety, hence the resignation.

Hope Corcoran, Tim Corcoran, and William Diedrichsen were participating in an unprecedented event. Although vying for one available spot, Hope and Tim are husband and wife.

In the past, after the party nominees were chosen, the interviews took place behind closed doors. In response to criticism of doing things under the cover of secrecy, the borough arranged for the public to come in and ask questions for themselves.

* * *

Hope Corcoran is a 20-year resident of the borough, with an extensive background as a business analyst. Corcoran also sits on the Board of Directors of Monmouth Park Charities, giving out millions of dollars to nonprofit organizations throughout Monmouth County.

While never having held public office or served on a borough committee, she feels that her business background will stand her in good stead as she works to revitalize the borough and bring in new commerce.

“I hope to accomplish the goals of moving Eatontown forward,” she said, “I want hometown values.

“I bring a perfect set of business skills to compliment [council].”

On the controversial issue of development at Monmouth Mall, she supports what’s happening. Corcoran lives on Windsor Drive and sees the Monmouth Mall every day. “I’m for the Mall,” she said, “I’m for moving it forward… when I look at the Mall, I see a lot of weeds growing up. I am for progress.”

“I think there needs to be a balance between the business and the residential community.”

She also had a positive opinion on the failed disc golf course (“It gets back to financial responsibility. We spent a lot of money for that… it’s a lot of money to just give {the equipment} away,” but a not-so-positive approach to medical marijuana. (“It’s from seed to sale. You need to have it governed. I see a lot of pitfalls with that.”)

* * *

Tim Corcoran is a borough resident since 1990, and is employed by New Jersey Natural Gas in their Department of Regulatory Affairs. Corcoran has served on the borough’s Zoning Board, and says his priority will be whatever the council is concerned with at the moment.

And he wants a return to sanity in the borough.

“This past year has been crazy here,” he said. “It’s been an embarrassment.”

“The town needs fiscal responsibility,” he continued. “They need to find a balance within the business and residential community.”

He’d like to see Eatontown become more business-friendly. “There’s a lot of things that could be done in partnership to bring businesses into town. The taxes that would be generated would benefit the residents,” said Corcoran.

The biggest problem, as he sees it, is the Monmouth Mall. “We have a developed piece of property that is becoming a rat trap,” he told the panel.

Corcoran said his nieces and nephews are millennials. “None of them want to own properties…they don’t want to take care of a lawn like we did. They want access to trains, highways, and businesses. They want to walk to restaurants. The Mall could be similar to that.”

Regarding the development of Fort Monmouth, Corcoran said it seemed to him that the Eatontown lagged behind Oceanport and Tinton Falls when it comes to tangible projects being built in the wake of the makeover.

“I wish something would happen,” he said. “I’d like to see a comprehensive plan instead of a mish-mosh.”

He is all for medicinal marijuana in the borough, but said it was only a matter of time to have it nationwide. “My personal view is that it is going to be legal in all 50 states,” he said.

* * *

William Diedrichsen, an Eatontown resident since 1965, is an electrical engineer by trade. He has served on the Woodmere PTA and is currently on the Planning Board. His wife Donna has previously served on council.

He told the panel he wants to make sound decisions that will send the borough in a good direction. Dierichsen felt the BRAC closure of Fort Monmouth had a huge impact on the town. “It wasn’t just the people at the Fort, it was the contractors — and the people supporting the contractors relied a lot on that… the change in retail hasn’t helped because the focus of how things get done gets changed…Eatontown has resisted development a little bit and the situation just got worse.”

“We have to attract developers who want to come in and invest. That can be hard. Also, developers have to figure what’s going to happen in the future.”

He said Eatontown’s location between Highways 35 and 36 puts it in what he calls an “oddball” place.

“They don’t always stop in Eatontown. We need to get people in town to spend money and invest in local businesses. Finding that right mix is difficult.”

Diedrichsen is for the “walkable streets” concept, as well as the idea of having medical marijuana available in the borough (he does not like the idea of recreational marijuana being sold).

He also likes the latest changes in the Monmouth Mall — while noting that plans probably will change yet again.

“The way retail is heading, the Mall’s got to change and progress,” he said.

He’s “flexible” to revisiting the idea of having a disc golf course, too. “I’m a good problem solver, and I look at things a little differently. Sometimes there’s more than two sides to an argument. I like to be very thorough, so I think that can help.”

Councilman-elect Kevin Gonzalez said the screening committee is looking for that certain someone who will not necessarily run in lockstep with the rest of the board. “What we are hoping for is finding someone who will be researching items, do their homework and vote their conscience,” he said.

Mayor Anthony Talerico — who does not actually vote unless there is a tie on council — had but one comment.

“My hope is that next year’s council provides stability that our employees and residents have lacked for almost an entire year,” he remarked.

The council will vote on January 1 as to who gets the vacant seat.