Clean-Up Day in Eatontown

By Coleen Burnett
Eatontown residents once again rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty on April 23.
That was the date of the town’s Clean-Up Day, an annual event

Candace Faust, Donna Baginsky, Councilman Al Baginsky, and Cleanup Co-Chairs Joel and Barbara Stark.

where denizens meet up, get their hands on equipment such as  garbage bags, gloves, shovels, rakes and long-handled grabbers, and are sent out to make the borough a little bit cleaner.

There were about 75 people registered for the four-hour event.  Groups were seen all over town, from the Eatontown Museum on Broad Street (where they cleared brush in the Museum’s backyard) to Locust Cemetery on South Street (where the Mingo Jack Society picked up garbage, a tree limb, and other debris).

Mayor Dennis Connelly signing up to do his part

When the work was done, everyone was invited for pizza and soda at the borough’s senior center.




New officer, promotion in WLB

By Neil Schulman
West Long Branch — The West Long Branch Police Department welcomed a new patrol officer and promoted another at the April 19 Borough Council meeting.

Brian Burton, who was promoted to sergeant is shown with his family.

Timothy Hanrahan is sworn in as West Long Branch’s newest officer.

Chief Paul Haberman introduced Timothy Hanrahan, who was sworn in as the borough’s newest patrolman, and Brian Burton, who was promoted to sergeant.

Hanrahan, originally from Staten Island before moving to Tinton Falls, graduated Monmouth Regional High School before earning his bachelor’s degree in North Carolina.

He served as a special officer in Point Pleasant before joining the Evesham Police Department.

He has been involved in many community youth activities.
Haberman said Hanrahan is happy to be serving here.

“Growing up in Monmouth County, he appreciates what the community has to offer,” the chief said.

Burton began his police career in 2005 working part time in Belmar, before becoming a full time patrolman in Oceanport, then joining the West Long Branch Police Department in 2007.

He has served the department in many capacities, most recently in the detective bureau.

Burton, past president of the local PBA, has a master’s degree from Farleigh Dickinson University and is pursuing his doctorate.

He has received numerous awards and commendations while working for West Long Branch, including Meritorious Service Awards, the NJ DWI Top Gun Award, and has been recognized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Marathon on Sunday brings crowds, road closings

By Neil Schulman
The New Jersey Marathon and Half Marathon arrive this weekend, bringing thousands of runners, sizeable crowds to cheer them on, and some traffic issues.

On Sunday, roads around the area in Oceanport, Monmouth Beach and Long Branch, as well as Deal, Asbury Park and Ocean Grove, will be closed temporarily as the runners pass.

Police are advising residents to plan accordingly.

The races, presented by Novo Nordisk, are actually part of a three-day weekend of activities, beginning with a Health and Fitness Expo at Monmouth Park Racetrack on Fri., April 28, from 1-7 p.m. It will continue on Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Saturday brings some family activities to the Long Branch oceanfront, along the Promenade and Great Lawn. The  RWJBarnabas Health Family Festival begins at 8 a.m., and a series of kids fun races for various ages will be held all morning.

But the main events will be on Sunday, when the New Jersey Marathon, Half Marathon and Relay races begin from Monmouth Park at 7:30 a.m. Last year 11,000 runners took part.

The marathon will begin in Oceanport, and head through Monmouth Beach, then Long Branch, Deal, Asbury Park and Ocean Grove, before looping around and finishing on the Long Branch Promenade.

Road closures in Oceanport will begin at 7 a.m.

In Oceanport, police have announced that they expect all roadways closed for runners to reopen by 9:30 a.m. as the races move west to east starting at Oceanport Ave. and Crescent Place, though some will open much earlier.
Cars cannot be on the roads when they’re closed, and any vehicles that are on the road the morning before the race starts will be towed. Residents who know they will need to get somewhere during this time are asked to park on a nearby street. Police say Oceanport residents who reside from Myrtle Avenue and points west can travel out of town via Bridgewater’s Drive to Oceanport Ave/Main St. Residents who reside east of Branchport Ave and south of Monmouth Blvd., can travel out of Oceanport via the Branchport Creek Bridge into Long Branch.

Those who must get out for emergency reasons are asked to contact the police department.

Local road closings
Sections of the following roads will be temporarily closed as  runners pass by:
Oceanport Ave.
Crescent Place.
Eatontown Blvd.
Wolfhill Ave.
Pemberton Ave.
Oceanport Ave.
Port au Peck
Myrtle Ave.
Monmouth Blvd.
Port au Peck
Pocano Ave.
Comanche Dr.

All roads are expected to reopen by 9:30 a.m. Oceanport Ave. from the Main Gate of the Racetrack to Port au Peck Ave. will remain closed until 5 p.m.

Monmouth Beach
Patten Ave.
Wesley St.
Tocci Ave.
Griffin St.
Riverdale Ave.
All roads are expected to reopen by 10 a.m.
Long Branch
The race will be on parts of the following roads:
Monmouth Blvd.
Patten Ave.
Columbia Ave.
Church St.
Atlantic Ave.
MacArthur Ave.
Avenel Ave.
Long Branch Ave.
S. Broadway
Third Ave.
Westwood Ave.
Franklin Ave.
Second Ave.
West End Ave.
Ocean Blvd.
Ocean Ave.*

Roads marked with a *, near the finish line, are expected to be closed until 2:30 p.m. Other roads are expected to reopen by 11 a.m., with some clearing as early as 9:45.

Spectators welcome

While people are encouraged to cheer the runners on all along the course, there are several Long Branch spots the race organizers recommend.
Those include the finish area on the Long Branch promenade; the end of Broadway; Pier Village (which is shortly before the conclusion of both the Marathon and Half Marathon); and the corner of Ocean and Brighton Aves. in West End.

Due to security concerns, those watching from the start and finish areas are not allowed backpacks, purses, diaper bags, etc.

Spectators are encouraged to cheer runners on, though experts say that if you are near the finish line it is considered bad form to yell “almost there!”
Maps and more information can be found at

More than 5,000 shoppers at ‘Made in Monmouth’

West Long Branch — The sixth annual Made In Monmouth expo was a colossal success for 260 vendors who displayed and sold their locally-made products to thousands of shoppers at the OceanFirst Bank Center at Monmouth University on Saturday, April 8.

At the Made in Monmouth event were Freeholder Serena DiMaso, Deputy Director John P. Curley, Director Lillian G. Burry and Monmouth University President Grey J. Dimenna.

“An enormous thank you to the more than 5,000 shoppers who sampled and purchased quality goods and products from Monmouth County vendors and business,” said Freeholder Thomas A. Arnone, liaison to the County’s Division of Economic Development. “Made in Monmouth continues to grow in vendors offerings and shopping participation. The number of merchants has increased because we continue to use all the floor space available to give vendors a chance to participate. Everyone enjoyed the day whether they were buying or selling.”

Products showcased at the expo included jewelry, furniture, flowers, wine, natural foods, books, handmade glass, cosmetics, flags, chocolates, tea, woodwork and much more.

“This event is a chance to promote our local economy which gives businesses the incentive to keep expanding and creating jobs,” explained Arnone.

“’Made in Monmouth’ is a perfect setting that builds awareness of the excellent products offered by companies in our County.”

“If you are interested in shopping locally, be sure to download the MIM directory,” said Arnone. “All of the vendors are listed along with product descriptions, photos and contact information.”

The link to the directory is

Made in Monmouth is organized by the Grow Monmouth team within the County’s Division of Economic Development. Grow Monmouth officials meet regularly with business, civic and government leaders to provide state-of-the-art information services. It has become a major public-private project to create and preserve jobs in Monmouth County.

Wall Township Resident Joins Brookdale Board

LINCROFT, NJ (April 19, 2017) – Wall Township resident Daniel Becht was sworn in as the newest member of the Brookdale Community College Board of Trustees during the board’s monthly public meeting in Lincroft on April 18.

Daniel Becht (center) is welcomed to the Brookdale Community College Board of Trustees by board chair Carl Guzzo Jr. (left) and vice chair Paul Crupi. Photo by Brookdale Community College.

An accomplished attorney with years of experience in government and public service, Becht serves as executive director of the Jersey City Municipal Utilities Authority and counsel to the Newark Central Planning Board.

He is also a commissioner of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and has previously served as vice chairman of the New Jersey Lottery, chairman of the Passaic Valley Sewerage Authority, and a commissioner of the New Jersey Law Revision Commission and the New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority.

Becht lives with his family in Wall and is the proud father of three Brookdale alumni.

“It was a great experience for my children,” said Becht, “All of their credits transferred to their respective colleges and they claimed some of their Brookdale courses were even more challenging. I’m very impressed with the college, and this is a board I am truly proud to serve on.”

Becht was appointed to a four-year term on the board. He replaces former Brookdale trustee William Dalton, who served on the board from 2013 to 2017.

Edgar Mejia of Long Branch gets 30-years for conviction of sexual assault of a 7-year old

FREEHOLD – A Long Branch man was sentenced to 30 years in a New Jersey state prison for the 2014 Aggravated Sexual Assault of a 7-year-old girl in Eatontown, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Edgar Mejia, 55, of Long Branch, was sentenced Thursday by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge David F. Bauman, P.J.Cr., who presided over the month-long trial that resulted in his conviction by a Monmouth County jury on November 16, 2016. Mejia was convicted of first degree Aggravated Sexual Assault and third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child. For the purposes of sentencing the conviction for Endangering the Welfare of a Child was merged in to the Aggravated Sexual Assault conviction.

The charges stem from a July 2014 incident in Eatontown and involved a 7-year-old female victim. The victim was alone in a bedroom with the defendant, when Mejia committed the aggravated sexual assault on her.

The same evening, the victim reported the incident to her mother and it was subsequently reported to the police. The investigation was conducted by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Special Victims Bureau and Eatontown Police Department. As a result of the investigation, Mejia was arrested on July 21, 2014.

Mejia was sentenced pursuant to the provisions of the Jessica Lunsford Act. The Jessica Lunsford Act came in to effect on May 15, 2014 and requires that anyone convicted of an Aggravated Sexual Assault under N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2a(1), receive a sentence of 25 years to life in a New Jersey state prison with a minimum of 25 years of parole ineligibility. This was the first sentence following a trial pursuant to the Jessica Lunsford Act in Monmouth County. Mejia was also sentenced subject to the No Early Release Act, which requires he serve 85 percent of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole. Therefore, Mejia will have to serve a minimum of 25 years, 6 months and 2 days in prison before he is eligible for parole.

The defendant is also required to register pursuant to Megan’s Law and will be placed on Parole Supervision for Life upon his release from state prison.

The case was prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Ellyn Rajfer. The defendant was represented by Ryan Moriarty, Esq. of Freehold.

City’s oldest company has new boss with lots of experience

By Neil Schulman
Since coming to Long Branch from Ireland in 1996, Darren Davis has done it all – from cook to developer. In addition to two large construction projects in the area, and running the landscaping business Celtic Concepts, he has also recently acquired and renovated the oldest business in the city, John Guire Company.
Davis grew up in Ireland. His father was a professor of agriculture and his mother had a fencing company. He initially worked in the hotel industry.

Darren Davis has recently acquired supplier John Guire Co., the oldest company in Long Branch. “I was running the largest bar in Ireland by the time I was 20,” he said. But he wanted to expand his horizons, and decided to look at working in the U.S.

“I came when I was 21 and I was supposed to work for a year,” he said. “I ended up in Long Branch, New Jersey, and never looked back.”

And he took all sorts of jobs in the area. He worked at Reddy’s, at Tuzzio’s, and for some landscapers.
One of the landscapers he was cutting grass for had an opportunity to purchase another business. Davis went in on that, but what he got out of that was “the realization that partners are only for dancing.”

He went to New York for a while, but returned to the area, starting the landscaping company Celtic Concepts in 1998, which  incorporated in 2000. A couple of years ago, they expanded, acquiring a new headquarters on Broad Street in Eatontown by renovating a former bank.

He expanded into the construction business, initially making single family homes. Now, DKD Investments is working on several projects in Long . It’s received approval for a 46-unit dwelling in the Long Branch

Transit Village near the train station, and is working on approval for a 13-unit project at the former SICA building on Third Avenue.

His most recent business venture, acquiring John Guire Company, has been years in the making. Davis said discussions first took place years ago.

After owner Robert A. Shannon passed away in 2016, discussions continued with Shannon’s wife.
“We finally came upon an agreement that was mutually beneficial,” Davis said.

John Guire Co. on Brighton Avenue has been renovated and expanded, but continues its basic mission of serving contractors and home owners in the area with bulk landscape materials, power tools, and other supplies.

Davis said keeping the business going was important for many reasons.

“It’s the oldest business in Long Branch and we wanted to keep the business intact,” Davis said. He was worried that other people who acquired the property might want to turn it down, and build housing there.

Not that there’s a problem with building houses, but one of John Guire Co.’s missions is “to also provide goods and services that Long Branch needs to redevelop,” Davis said.

“How can you rebuild a town if you don’t have goods and services?” he asked. “We realized small businesses thrive on small businesses.”

Davis lives in Oceanport with his wife, originally from Fair Haven, and two children.

The ‘Kites At The Pier’ Kite Festival returns

Long Branch — The second annual “Kites At The Pier” Kite Festival in Long Branch, kicks off the summer season Saturday, April 22 and Sunday, April 23 from 9 a.m. to  4 p.m. each day. The festival features kite flyers from all areas of the eastern seaboard flying their most incredible creations.

Every kind of kite imaginable will be at the festival. Kites of all shapes and sizes – from inflatable flying creatures to traditional kites – will be flying high over the beach between Melrose Terrace and Morris

Avenue. A dazzling display of giant kites will be visible for miles and miles. Giant kite experts including the Dallmer family, Mike Pignolet and Don Petty, Jeff Burka, Paul & Tina Keeler, the Klopp family and others will be lofting some giant sea and land creatures.

The day will include some great family fun – including both kids and parents – in the Running of the Bols competition, where bragging rights will be awarded to parents and their kids as each group vies to earn this prestigious title. A favorite way to play with the wind, each competitor latches on to an 8 foot diameter parachute-kite and runs head first into the wind from a starting line to the finish line – an exhausting and exciting time.

Also on the schedule of fantastic fun is the kids Candy Drop! A kid’s dream come true – candy falling from the “sky” – with the sky being a kite. Individually wrapped candy is parachuted up a kite and when the whistle blows, the candy is released for kids to grab – and of course, to see who can get the most candy.

Other spectacular kite visuals will include an array of vertical wind feathers and ground displays showcasing a myriad of different types of kites, exemplifying wonderful fun, beautiful visuals, and an educational experience.

A host of kite fliers from area kite clubs will be attending the festival. This year members of the South Jersey Kite Flyers, Liberty High Spirits of New Jersey, Kites Over New England, Wings Over Washington, Richmond Air Force, Connectikiters and Keystone Kiters will be filling the sky over Long Branch.

Two groups team up for a benefit formalwear sale

Long Branch — FCS (Family & Children’s Service), Monmouth County’s oldest, private nonprofit social service agency and Cinderella’s Closet of Monmouth County, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting self-esteem among young adults, is offering a special sale of brand new formal dresses and gowns at the agency’s newly opened FCS Thrift Boutique at 604 Second Avenue.

Samantha White, FCS Director of Volunteer Services, models one of the formal dresses for sale by Cinderella’s Closet of Monmouth County

“We are excited to partner with Cinderella’s Closet, an organization whose mission aligns with our own, to provide a resource to families and individuals who may need to purchase formal wear, but have limited resources,” says FCS CEO Delly Beekman. “The partnership allows us to offer that service, while at the same time, raise funds for programs that address additional needs in the community.”

Cinderella’s Closet of Monmouth County works to ensure that no high school student has to forfeit the lifelong memories associated with attending their prom due to financial hardship. The organization, which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary, raises funds to distribute free formal wear to more than 350 financially needy high school students each year through its annual Prom Boutique.

Of the more 800 dresses donated to this year’s Boutique, 200 were selected for sale to the general public as a way to generate revenue for purchasing much-needed items for next year’s Boutique, including shoes, handbags and jewelry.

“The dresses and gowns we selected for sale are absolutely gorgeous, but may be more appropriate for other special occasions, such as galas, weddings and quinceneras,” says Cinderella’s Closet Board member Marcella Tomasetta. “We tried to pull some in every size and color, for the widest selection.”

The FCS Thrift Boutique, which recently relocated to 604 Second Avenue, offers new and gently-used men’s and women’s clothing, outerwear, shoes, handbags and accessories, at significantly reduced prices. Since all merchandise is donated, proceeds benefit the agency’s 14 programs and services including homelessness prevention, home care and child literacy programs.

The Boutique is always grateful for donations. Clothing donations may be dropped off at the FCS office at 191 Bath Avenue during regular business hours, or left in the donation bin located in the parking lot at the rear of the property after hours. Due to limited space in the new location, the Boutique no longer carries house wares and therefore cannot accept donations of household items, including table and bed linens.

For a complete list of items the Boutique needs, please refer to the agency’s website at or call 732-222-9111.

Beach Sweep this Saturday

By Neil Schulman
This Saturday, Clean Ocean Action is once again sponsoring its biannual Beach Sweep, where volunteers help clear debris off beaches and collect valuable scientific data as well.
While sweeps which attract thousands of volunteers will be held along the Jersey Shore as far away as Cape May County, locally, there will be cleanups in Long Branch, Monmouth Beach, Sandy Hook and Sea Bright.
Local clean-ups will be held on April 22, with check-in starting at 9 a.m., and the clean-ups running till noon at:

• Pier Village (meet at Melrose Terrace and Ocean Avenue entrance), Long Branch.  (This cleanup is sponsored by SERVPro of Eatontown and Long Branch.)
• The Monmouth Beach Bathing Pavilion, 29 Ocean Avenue, Monmouth Beach.
• The BeachWalk Motel, Sea Bright.
• Ferguson Beach (across from old Anchorage Building), Sea Bright.
• Tradewinds Beach, 1067 Ocean Ave., Sea Bright
• Sea Bright Public Beach (meet in municipal parking lot).
• Lot D, Sandy Hook.

Volunteers are asked to dress for the weather, wear sturdy boots, and bring gloves.
Debris on the beach can come from many sources, much of it “non-point” pollution, meaning it doesn’t come from a steady source. Some of it is left by people enjoying a day on the sand. Other pieces are washed to the shore by rainwater or melting snow runoff.

This debris can have a major impact on the ocean. Fertilizer runoff, for example, can poison fish. And any animals who ingest pieces of plastic can injure themselves.
And there’s a lot of plastic. The 2015 cleanup, the last one for which data is available on Clean Ocean

Action’s website, saw volunteers collect just under 235,000 pieces of plastic debris, and also more than 25,000 pieces of foam plastic. Most of that debris was single use items designed to be used once and disposed of, such as bottle caps or food wrappers. But instead, they wound up on the shore.

Other major debris that will be cleaned up includes cigarette filters, pieces of lumber, shards of glass, paper, and glass bottles.

Data on what’s found at the beaches help scientists determine what issues need to be addressed.

But Clean Ocean Action also keeps a “Roster of the Ridiculous.” Some strange things found in the cleanup last year included a flower pot, mattress, empty safe, and a full bottle of wine.

For more action, or if you have a large group of 10 or more that wants to participate, visit and click on “Beach Sweeps.”