How a cat from WLB raced into the world’s heart

By Neil Schulman

When Optimum Online wanted a commercial that showcased how fast their service is, they chose a young lady from West Long Branch known around the world for her long distance running. A young lady with four legs and black fur — Roadrunner the cat.

Michael Greenblatt with Roadrunner jogging on the beach. Greenblatt wears a Mon. Univ. jersey for the university’s magazine. (Mary Motsay - Sole Mare Images photo)

Roadrunner finished shooting a commercial for Optimum Online last month. It’s a long list in her appearances. She’s been featured in Purina’s most popular video of all times. She’s on the label of Kingdom Nutrition’s pet health supplements. She’s been featured in Glamour Magazine, and People Pets. Monmouth Park Racetrack has held races named for her.

And, says owner Michael Greenblatt, she’s his best friend.

Greenblatt first met her in 2008, as a stray kitten. Greenblatt, a celebrity fitness trainer, was going for a jog when he first saw the cat near his West Long Branch home.

“I noticed a beautiful shining black kitten with big eyes staring at me,” he said. Greenblatt’s

neighbors told him the cat was a stray, found in a shoebox.

“The next morning when I went for my run, she was on my doorstep,” he said.

And he realized the cat was going with him. This was a kitten who liked long distance running. Nowadays she leads when they go.

Greenblatt had never heard of this, and contacted several vets and animal experts — who also said they had never heard of a cat who went running with people.

“Dogs do it… cats don’t run with humans.”

Greenblatt took the cat in. Because of her unusual habit of running on the streets, he called her Roadrunner.

(Roadrunner’s lawyer — yes, she has her own lawyer, as well as an accountant and literary agent — says that this is a fine name for a cat, and that there’s no risk of her being mistaken for the Warner Brothers character since they’re different species.)

Greenblatt started taking her with him wherever he ran, including the Long Branch beach and boardwalks. On rainy days, Roadrunner has an indoor course.

That might have just been an interesting anecdote, except that her story went viral in 2010. His cousin Marni Gandel was working at Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park, and told the story to a producer for Cablevision, Brian Johnston. He wanted to film the cat.

At first, Greenblatt wasn’t interested, feeling he didn’t need the publicity. He’s trained actresses such as Susan Lucci and Rhea Pearlman, and athletes such as Christie Rampone, Captain of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer. He also wasn’t sure how the cat would react.

“Roadrunner’s safety comes first,” he said.

But eventually he was persuaded, and film crews came and filmed her over the course of two days.

“She put on a show for the cameras,” he recalled.

When the video hit the internet, things got crazy, with Cablevision’s video seen by hundreds of thousands of people. People loved watching the running cat.

Later that year, a children’s book author contacted him, saying they should make her story into a book. (That’s why Roadrunner has a literary agent.)

On March 1, 2011, Roadrunner was one of the biggest stories in the world. AOL’s top news stories for the day included a piece on the cat, along with what Barack Obama was doing.

Greenblatt says people all over the world have written about her.

One day, Greenblatt noticed that Roadrunner’s Facebook page was being inundated with messages in Chinese. It turned out a magazine in Taiwan had written about her, attracting international attention.

He collects all mentions of her on the web; many of the sites he’s never heard of. Quite a few of them are animal rescue organizations, using her as an inspiring story of rescue animals.

Greenblatt said that when the children’s book gets published, part of the proceeds will go to animal rescue groups.

Roadrunner also travels a lot. In Sept. 2012, Monmouth Park honored her with a race named after her.

Greenblatt said that to get her acclimated to racing, he took her to the track a couple of times and played clips of famous horse races so she would get used to the crowds. He was worried she might be skittish on race day, and asked for a chair for the winner’s circle when the emcee “interviewed” her.

It wasn’t necessary; she walked around the track with complete confidence that day.

The winning jockey for that race was Chris DeCarlo, a friend and client of Greenblatt’s.

Greenblatt takes Roadrunner for a trip to Monmouth Park. (Bill Denver EQUI-PHOTO)

“That made it even more special. I had one of my best friends in the winner’s circle and I had my kitty cat,” Greenblatt said.

Roadrunner has a commercial career too. Earlier this month, she was in New York, filming for Optimum Online. That’s just the latest venture. When Justin Sallusto, owner of Kingdon Nutrition, wanted to expand his line of animal health supplements from horses to housepets, he got Roadrunner as a mascot, since she obviously loves keeping fit.

But to Greenblatt, that’s not all that makes her special. He grew up with black cats in the house. since his mother loved them. When he finally decided to adopt Roadrunner and took her to the Monmouth County SPCA for medical inspection, they estimated she had been born on April 30, 2008.

“My mother passed away on April 30. Nobody loved black cats more than my mom,” Greenblatt said. “Roadrunner’s birthday cheers up the saddest day of the year.”

You can learn more about her at www.roadrunnerthecat.com, or on her Facebook page, RoadRunner-the-Cat.

 

 

 

Fishing, camp and concerts in WLB this summer

West Long Branch — The West Long Branch Recreation Commission always offers something for everyone and this year is no exception.
In addition to a very successful annual Easter Egg Hunt last month, the Commission is sponsoring a Youth Fishing Derby at Franklin Lake on June 13.

The Summer Recreation program begins on June 29 and runs through August 7. The camp is from 9-3 and is open to all West Long Branch residents entering first grade in September through ninth grade.

The camp offers art, activities, field trips, on site water slides, games, sports and much more. The cost is only $200 if registered by June 5 and applications were sent home through the schools and are available at Borough Hall or on the borough website.
The Summer Concert Series will begin on July 4 with “Jersey Jukebox” followed by a spectacular Fireworks display at dark.
July 17 brings “Bad Neighbors” to Franklin Lake, followed by “Tequila Rose” on July 31.

Recent Juilliard graduate and hometown favorite David Smolokoff will entertain with his incredible voice on August 14 with an “Evening with David Smolokoff.” The season will close on August 28 with the very popular “Motown Revue.”

All concerts are at Franklin Lake and begin at 7 p.m. So if you like the sounds of  light rock and roll, oldies, country, standard and show tunes, or Motown, there is something for everyone.

Plans are in the works for a Drive-In-Movie during the summer, Family Movie Night in September, Fall Festival in October, and Christmas Sing-a-long in December.

“Community activities for residents is part of the charm of West Long Branch,” said Joe DeLeonardo, Recreation Commission Chairman. “We try to offer not only something for the kids in town, but for the whole family as a unit, and individuals as well.”

Brookdale graduates 2,069

More than 2,000 students graduated from Brookdale Community College on May 15 during the college’s 45th annual commencement ceremony on the Lincroft campus.A total of 2,069 students from 16 different countries earned associate degrees from the college, with diplomas handed out during two ceremonies held in the Robert J. Collins Arena. The class of 2015 included 208 distinguished scholars and 41 students with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

“You make us incredibly proud,” said Brookdale President Dr. Maureen Murphy. “I cannot tell you how much we value your hard work and all of your achievements as Brookdale students. As you move on to the next phase of your journey, please stay in touch. We want to know what you are doing and we want to celebrate your continued success.”

A total of 1,129 students earned associate in arts degrees; 462 earned associate in applied science degrees; 440 earned associate in science degrees; five earned associate in fine arts degrees; and 38 earned academic credit certificates.

Honorary degrees were also awarded to commencement speakers David Prown and David Goldman.

Prown, of Red Bank, is the owner and manager of Prown’s Home Improvements, a third-generation family business serving Monmouth County. He has built a reputation as a staunch children’s advocate by working with local students of color and spearheading a wide range of youth service programs in the Red Bank area.

Prown’s initiatives include a mentorship program between students at Brookdale and Red Bank Regional High School, established in 2009, and the annual Red Kettle Classic Basketball Tournament.

He encouraged the graduates to look past themselves, and use whatever gifts and advantages they possess for the good of their communities.

“During your journey to get here today, you have had many supporters,” Prown said. “Now it’s time for you to repay that support, with your support of others. Busy yourself giving back. I have reaped tons of satisfaction from volunteering, and I highly encourage you to incorporate that spirit in your lives.”

Goldman, an Ocean Township native and current Holmdel resident, is the cofounder and director of the Bring Sean Home Foundation. The foundation began as a grass roots effort to bring home Goldman’s son Sean, who was abducted by his mother and taken to Brazil in 2004.

Since Sean was reunited with his father on Christmas Eve 2009, Goldman and the foundation have become prominent advocates for victims of parental child abduction.

College officials also presented Distinguished Alumni awards to Brookdale women’s soccer coach Katelyn Miller, who led the Jersey Blues to two consecutive national titles in 2013 and 2014, and Superior Court Judge Teresa Kondrup Coyle.

Six graduates were also recognized for their outstanding academic achievements: Nicholas Antonucci of Jackson; Amber Mallm of Freehold; Alexander McKenzie of Freehold; Patricia Prioli of Howell; Nicholas Sakowski of Aberdeen; and Adam Winkler of Manasquan.

Sunset Avenue Bridge pile driving begins

Ocean Township — The project to replace the Sunset Avenue Bridge (O-10) over Deal Lake between Ocean Township and Asbury Park will be taking a significant step forward in the coming weeks.
Work to drive the required foundation piles for the new bridge began last week.
Seventy-two piles are required to support three new piers that will support Sunset Avenue Bridge. Three test piles were driven in March.

Weather permitting, 23 piles at each of the three piers should be driven in place by May 22.

Additional piles will be driven this summer: 85 in June to support the bridge abutment and retaining walls on the Asbury Park side, and 45 in July/August to support the bridge abutment and retaining walls on the Ocean Township side.

“Work to completely replace the more than 80-year old Sunset Avenue Bridge is well under way,” said Freeholder Thomas A. Arnone, liaison to the Department of Public Works and Engineering. “When completed, the new structure will improve travel between Ocean Township and Asbury Park.”

The demolition of the old Sunset Avenue Bridge began this past winter. NJ Department of Environmental Protection restricts the period of time that the contractor can work in the water.

Detours are posted and motorists should divert around Deal Lake by using Wickapecko Drive, Fourth Avenue and Memorial Drive.
The project has an expected completion date of late May 2016.  When complete, the new bridge will feature two-12-foot lanes with six-foot shoulders and six-foot sidewalks.

Additional improvements will be minor roadway widening to match the bridge approaches on the Ocean township side, improved storm water drainage, decorative lighting and new guide rail treatments.

The contractor for this project is Kyle Conti Construction, Hillsborough, NJ. The contract amount is $7,444,447. The project is being funded by the Federal Highway Administration, under the administration of the NJDOT and the New Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA).

The county’s Department of Public Works and Engineering is overseeing this project.

Memorial Day ceremonies

Local communities will remember those who paid the ultimate price for our country on Monday. The following local events have been planned:

Eatontown
Eatontown will meet at 10:30 a.m. at Wampum Park, where officials and speakers will discuss the meaning of the day. There will be a wreath placement ceremony.

Monmouth Beach
A Memorial Day Service, sponsored by the Monmouth Beach Fire Company, will be held at the Firehouse, 24 Beach Road, at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 25.
There will be a speaker and the Monmouth Beach Elementary School Choir will perform.
Light refreshments will be served by the Ladies Auxiliary following the ceremony.

Long Branch
Long Branch has four separate ceremonies planned for Memorial Day. At 9 a.m., there will be a wreath laying at Fireman’s Field, Woodgate and Overlook Aves. At 9:45 a.m., there is a laying of the wreath at West End Beach, to recall those who perished at sea. There is a ceremony at 10 a.m. at Jerry Morgan Park, and another ceremony at 11 a.m. in front of City Hall. There, the annual services will be held and essay contest winners announced.
These are followed by an “Open House” at VFW Post 2140, Willow Avenue.

Oceanport
Oceanport will hold its annual Memorial Day Parade, beginning at 9:30 a.m. at Blackberry Bay Park. The parade proceeds to the old Borough Hall on Monmouth Boulevard, where a ceremony will immediately follow.

Ocean Township
Ocean’s Memorial Day Ceremony is at 11 a.m. at the Municipal Builing, 399 Monmouth Road Oakhurst. The ceremony will be held rain or shine. There will be a  tent and limited seating.

Sea Bright
The Sea Bright governing body, along with Police and Fire Departments will meet at 11 a.m. at the Sea Bright Police Station for this year’s ceremony.
Organist George Murphy and soloist Ward Saxton will perform the National Anthem and other patriotic songs. There will be a traditional wreath ceremony and flag-lowering in honor of Sea Bright residents who lost their lives in military action.
Light refreshments will be served.

West Long Branch
West Long Branch residents will gather at the Community Center on Locust Avenue at 11 a.m. on May 25 for the Memorial Day Ceremony.

Challenged Youth Sports allows special needs kids to ‘play ball’

Challenged Youth Sports (CYS), based in Middletown’s Lincroft section, is an all-volunteer organization offering programs for children with disabilities in seven athletic disciplines: baseball, soccer, basketball, flag football, tennis, golf and dance exercise.
The programs offer a chance for kids to participate in sports otherwise beyond their reach. On Friday, the Club heard an inspiring presentation from Paul Hooker, founder of CYS.
How it began

Hooker is a resident of Sea Girt and former owner of Sferra, a luxury linen company that he brought from $250,000 to over $300 million in sales during his tenure.

Hooker had always enjoyed sports and working with children and he had used his spare time to teach religion classes and coach or referee youth sports.

“In 1990 we had three kids under the age of 12,” said Hooker, the organization’s founder, referring to his wife, Margo. “I became the president of the Lincroft Little League.”

While attending a game one evening, Hooker chatted with Nicole B., a young girl who was confined to a wheelchair.

“This stinks,” Nicole told him, going on to explain she felt it was unfair her brothers were able to play sports, but there were no programs for kids like her.

Deciding to do something about that, Hooker consulted the members of Lincroft Little League’s board.

“We kind of improvised some rules and made them up as we went on,” he said.

The first season of Challenger Little League was a success, and parents wanted more. Challenged Youth Sports has expanded ever since.

“Who would have thought that from one little girl we’d get seven sports, dances and ice-skating?” mused Hooker.

How it is done
Local organizations provide facilities and help CYS procure some equipment. Local coaches offer their time, free of charge. Other local adults and teens do too. Volunteers keep the programs going.

“We are entirely volunteer-driven,” Hooker said. “We don’t get grants or tax-payer money. We do get occasional donations.”
Volunteers in the Challenger Buddy Program ensure kids participating in Challenged Youth Sports programs have someone on hand to help on a one-on-one level if needed.

“Without the teenagers, we’d have no programs,” Hooker said, noting there are always kids across Monmouth County who need to fulfill community service obligations for various religious or academic purposes.

“But a lot of them keep coming back.”

Hooker has now taken the league concept nationally under the name of Rally Cap Sports (www.rallycapsports.org).
Paul indicated that he would be willing to provide guidance as the Rotary Club seeks to start a Challenger League right here in Long Branch. Stay tuned for more details on that!
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Rotary Club Installation Dinner on June 18 to benefit a Long Branch Challenger League

The Club announced its Annual Installation of Officers Dinner to be held Thursday June 18 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Elks Club here in Long Branch. The Club will also be supported by the Long Branch PBA for the event and the proceeds from the event will go towards creating a Challenger League for Special Needs kids in Long Branch. Tickets are only $40 each and include a full dinner buffet, dessert and entertainment.

Please help support starting a special needs Challenger League here  in Long Branch. To purchase tickets visit rclb.bigcartel.com. For sponsorship information call Mike Ciavolino at 908-675-1146.

Talk on cancer treatement

`On Friday, May 29 the Club will hear from Dr. Edmund C. Lattime, Ph.D from the Rutgers Cancer Institute of NJ (CINJ), who will speak on “Harnessing the immune system for the treatment of cancer: What has changed?”

Recruited to the Cancer Institute in 1998, Dr. Lattime is well known for his work in tumor immunology. His laboratory studies the interaction between the tumor and immune response with the ultimate goal of developing effective cancer treatments that stimulate the body’s immune response’s recognition of cancer, thereby seeking to destroy the cancer.

Don’t miss this exciting and informative presentation, Friday May 29, noon, at Rooney’s Ocean Front Restaurant in Long Branch. The cost of lunch for the event is $20 and can be purchased at the door.

Please join us for our next meeting

The Club invites you to attend our next meeting, which will be held Friday, May 15 at noon at Rooney’s in Long Branch. The speakers will be Dr. Akthar / Tara Demyanovich on Colon Cancer Awareness.
Want to attend? Simply give us a call at (641) 715-3900 Ext #716992 to make a reservation or pay $20 lunch fee at the door. For more information, visit us at www.longbranchrotary.org

Wondering what Rotary International and the Rotary Club of Long Branch is all about? Rotary’s 1.2 million members worldwide believe that helping to change the world starts with a personal commitment to “Service Above Self.”  In more than 34,000 clubs worldwide, you’ll find members volunteering in communities at home and abroad to support education and job training, provide clean water, combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, and eradicate polio.

 

Survey says residents want borough hall in downtown

By Neil Schulman
Oceanport — The majority of residents who answered a survey say that they would like the next borough hall to be built in Oceanport Plaza. However, officials still have some concerns.
Last month, Oceanport held a town hall meeting to discuss where to build its new Borough Hall. The one at Monmouth Boulevard was structurally damaged by Superstorm Sandy, and that site becomes inaccessible when it floods, so officials have been looking at alternative builds.

At last month’s meeting, Oceanport reviewed several locations, including a site on Fort Monmouth, the existing Oceanport Plaza (sometimes called the Teicher properties), and at Maria Gatta Park.

“More than 50 percent of the folks that were in attendance, their first choice was at the existing Oceanport Plaza,” Mayor Michael Mahon said at the May 7 Borough Council meeting.

The borough received 92 surveys as a result of the presentation, with 51 saying they preferred putting Borough Hall where the two-story structure in the middle of the shops in the downtown area currently stands. Since then, they’ve received about 20 more surveys from people using the website or stopping by borough offices. The majority of those also favor the plaza.

The second highest vote getter, with 22 votes, was Gatta Park. And most of those recipients chose the plaza as their next preference.

While the location isn’t certain yet, Mahon asked council members for permission to begin negotiations with the Teicher property owners, to see if purchasing it is in fact feasible.

According to the plans, most of the businesses there, such as the bank and convenience store, would remain, with the borough becoming their landlords.

Council members, however, have mixed feelings about the location.

Councilman John Patti said he wasn’t quite ready to object to it, but it’s far from his first choice.

“I’m not in love with the Teicher property,” he said. He believes that parking might be a serious problem, and worries that the structure looks too dilapidated.

“I was really head over heels with the Fort property,” Patti said.
Councilman Joe Irace said that he initially agreed with Patti, but sees advantages, such as a chance to strengthen a tiny business district.

“I was lukewarm in the beginning too,” he said. But he thinks that the location is appealing, allowing Oceanport to centralize.

“I think people want it in the town center,” Irace said.

“If we can get this right, (think) what it can lead to in downtown Oceanport,” Councilman Christopher Paglia agreed.
Some councilmembers were concerned with having enough parking spaces, especially on court days, when many people would come to the lot. That might upset businesses, they said. Others countered that people parked there might use businesses, especially ones which sold goods like coffee.

Mayor Mahon said that his first choice was Gatta Park, as it would be a chance to strengthen the recreation options in Oceanport. However, he thought the Teicher building was still close enough to those fields.

Long Branch restaurant owner convicted of drug & weapons offenses

FREEHOLD – A Long Branch restaurant owner was convicted on 91 counts involving the sale of drugs and weapons, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Anthony “Nygee” Stevenson, 47, of Long Branch, was convicted of 91 counts, including 77 counts related to undercover sales of heroin from his Christabell’s American Soul Food Restaurant, on Springdale Avenue in Long Branch. The conviction followed a two-month trial in the courtroom of Monmouth County Superior Court Judge John T. Mullaney, Jr., J.S.C.

Stevenson was also convicted of second degree Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance, two counts of second degree Possession with Intent to Distribute and two counts of second degree Conspiracy to Distribute (one for heroin and one for cocaine) and two counts of Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Assault Rifles), two counts of Unlawful Sale of a Weapon (assault rifles), and two counts of Possession and Sale of Large Capacity Magazines. Stevenson faces up to 10 years in a New Jersey state prison on each of the second degree offenses when he returns for sentencing before Judge John Mullaney on July 29.

The case is part of an investigation dubbed “Operation Grand Opening” where Stevenson sold drugs and guns to undercover investigators, mostly out of a restaurant he was renovating at 530 Springdale Avenue in Long Branch. The Operation was dubbed, “Grand Opening,” because surveillance began on the day of the grand opening of the restaurant on May 25, 2011. During the course of the investigation over 9,000 calls were intercepted by detectives from county and local law enforcement agencies culminating with the arrest of over 40 people between Aug.1- 8, 2011.

Stevenson sold heroin to an undercover officer on 22 occasions (about 1,900 bags total) either directly or through the use of the delivery man at his restaurant, who also delivered heroin. One of the lower level dealers Stevenson sold to re-distributed the heroin to another undercover detective. On the day Stevenson was arrested, he and another co-defendant were in possession of 2,500 bags of heroin after meeting with his supplier in Newark. In addition to drugs, Stevenson also sold two assault rifles, both with large capacity magazines, to an undercover detective for $3000.

The case was prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Paul Alexander.
Stevenson is represented by Maria Noto, Esq., of Matawan.

Around Monmouth Beach

By Teja Anderson Thirty-two of MB School’s talented youngsters performed two sold-out shows of Roald Dahl’s Musical “Willy Wonka Jr.” based on his most famous work, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” in the cafegymtorium last weekend.
Under the competent direction of teacher Meghan Vaccarelli with an assist from teacher Jamey Flaccavento and PTO Parent Rep Anita Macaluso, the kids sang, danced and acted their way through the play with nary a hitch, making the room of parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, teachers and other relatives proud as could be.

Willy Wonka, played by the vivacious Elizabeth Witek, served as both the play’s narrator and title character, with Steve Ostrom as the hero Charlie Bucket, a role that seems written just for him.

Comic relief and strong vocals were supplied by Amanda Going as the hip Mrs. Bucket, Anthony Nannarello as hilarious Grandpa Joe, Liam Umbs as the glutinous Augustus Gloop, Casey Flaherty as the bratty Veruca Salt, Grace Treshock as the gum smacking Violet Beauregarde, and TJ Macaluso as the video game obsessed Mike Teavee.

Jess Barton, Sophie George, Lily Gardner and Sally Carden were all standouts as the aforementioned kids’ parents, totally committing to their characters and their accents.

Supporting the leads were Erin McHeffey, Alyssa Costello and Jude Belas as Charlie’s other grandparents, providing even more laughs. Matt Berman and Hannah Zabe were adorable as Charlie’s friends. Jenna DiLorenzo had fun with her role as a news reporter and Belle Decker rocked as the Candy Man, a character not in the book but added to move the story along and add a little empathy for Charlie.

The musical numbers were often familiar and updated to include current hits like “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift and “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson along with the wonderful Oompa-Loompa classic song and dance from the popular movie where the Oompa-Loompas dance and sing the naughty children off the stage.

The featured Oompa-Loompas were Eliza Ford, Annabelle Kaeli, Taylor Papera, Sydney Riepl, Abby Tellechea and Pari Walter, with backup from the ensemble cast of Sophie Bilancia, Ava Dalsass, Kara Koniares , Abigail Mansfield, Kristy Sorochan, Raquel Wells and Sarah Whelan.

A big shout out to Greg Zweemer for his sound production. It’s not an easy task to get everyone’s mics cued up and leveled. And to Carol Brady and all the parents who helped with the fabulous set decorations and props.

One of the smartest things that the administration does is to let the entire school attend the dress rehearsal for the first act a day before the play starts. This ensures that more kids not involved with the current play will want to be in future years once they are old enough and it also gives the performers a chance to be appreciated by their peers in a slightly less formal atmosphere. Getting up on a stage and doing your best takes guts and talent, and these kids all had the Golden Ticket!

MBBC Planting Fair
The Monmouth Beach Beautification Committee held its 2nd Annual Spring Planting Fair at the MB Cultural Center with a panel of speakers on hand to discuss to present topics of their expertise to assist locals and residents on the ongoing care and beautification of their properties.

First up was MB resident, interior and exterior designer, Nancy Bevacqui, on backyard gardening for the entire family. She was followed by Tom Vosk of Applefarm Landscape & Gardening who spoke on how to choose and care for native ornamental trees and provided great options for salt water and flood resistant species.

Gerald Molzon of Molzon Landscape Nursery Inc. then spoke on creative landscaping using organic fertilizers and the importance of using them to the environment. (Although he was unable to answer the question, do ladybugs bite? My research has shown it to be true, so yes Robin, Jerry is correct, the sweet little bugs do bite and many people in fact are allergic to them!)
John Doull from Dew Drop Lawn Sprinklers discussed why a sprinkler system is a valuable and important asset to your property and can actually save both money and water.

There was a brief intermission while guest snacked on cupcakes, cookies and cinnamon apples provided by the committee and took time to purchase tickets for the giveaway gardening themed baskets. The presentation continued with Todd Thompson of Guaranteed Plants and Florist. His topic: “Spring: it’s not just for pansies anymore.” He brought with him lots of colorful early spring/frost tolerant annuals and had them available for purchase at a very reasonable price afterwards.

Closing out the event was Leann Lavin of Duchess Designs, who presented her book “From Garden to Table” with a slide presentation.

Tom Vosk donated a four foot holly which he has already planted at the lucky winner’s home and seven lucky winners went home with the lovely baskets assembled and donated by the committee.
The event was dedicated to the newly departed and much missed committee member Pat Cahill, who made everything beautiful.

Plein Air
The Patricia Cahill Plein Air Memorial, Monmouth Beach through Artist’s Eyes, begins on May 9. Painting, art and photography is to be done by residents around MB, outdoors from May 9-17 of whatever catches their fancy. They will be observed and photographed at work and then their completed works will be hung May 18 and 19 at the Cultural Center with a reception and cocktail party on Friday May 22 from 5-7 p.m. compliments of Resources Real Estate in memory of their beloved agent Pat Cahill.
The art will stay up through June 6. To reserve your space contact JE Boehles at 732-222-5247 or jebfrommb@comcast.net
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You can always contact me with story questions or ideas at 917-797-1324 or email me at dicopouli@aol.com

New boardwalk coming

By Neil Schulman
Long Branch — The city has awarded a $14.4 million contract to George Harms Construction Co. to rebuild the boardwalk from Brighton Avenue to Morris Avenue. Officials said work is expected to start in June, and be “substantially complete” by Memorial Day of 2016.

Long Branch has approved a $14.4 million bid to rebuild the destroyed boardwalk.

At the April 28 City Council meeting, City Engineer Gerry Freda said that the city had received a lot of interest in the project, with 25 companies asking for specifications on the project, and 15 submitting bids.

The project encompasses a lot of different elements. It includes work on repairing and strengthening the bluffs, building a widened boardwalk (16 feet wide from Brighton to South Bath aves., then expanding to 20 feet wide up to Morris), and three pavillions with restrooms. At least two of those pavillions will also have concession stands; it’s possible the one at Cottage Avenue will instead be used for that too, or for equipment storage or some other function.
There will be 10 access points to the beach along the boardwalk, including at least four which are handicap accessible at the West

End, Cottage Place, North Bath and Pavillion entrances. There will be 63 or 64 lights, similar to what are at Pier Village except that they will use more energy efficient LED bulbs.

The railing along the boards will be the same as Pier Village.

The pavilions will be 15 feet high, the maximum allowed by FEMA, which is picking up 90 percent of the cost, since this is a project to replace a boardwalk lost to Superstorm Sandy.

“FEMA will only pay to replace what is lost,” Freda said. “They will not pay for betterment.”

That’s one of the reasons that this project has been a long time in planning. Shortly before the hurricane hit, Long Branch had made plans to widen the boardwalk from its 10-foot width to the new proposed size. Long Branch will be paying for the expanded portion, as officials said it didn’t make sense to rebuild the boardwalk as it was and then redo it all over again.

In addition to the boardwalk itself, work must be done on the bluffs beneath it. Freda said that while the stone wall there did an important job of protecting Long Branch from even worse damage during Sandy, it doesn’t meet modern building codes. For one thing, the wall starts at ground level.

Instead, steel sheets will be driven into the earth below the boardwalk. “Some of these sheets are 40 feet deep,” Freda said.

It’s possible that a little of the steel will be visible from the sea wall, but most of it will be covered by sand and vegetation, and it will not be visible at all from the boardwalk, he said.

“That wall is really what made the whole project work.”

There was a wide range, from Harms’ $14.4 million up to $24.9 million.

Freda said that each bid had its own strengths and prices, but Harms was the overall lowest. He believes it may be because of the types of projects the company usually works on, major road projects and bridges. That gives them a lot of experience with driving pilings and some of the other elements as “right in his wheelhouse.”

He said that others with different specialties, may have had cheaper bids for other parts of the project, such as the pavilions, but Harms’ was the lowest overall.

Freda said that his firm reviewed the specifications line by line, and the city’s law firm has reviewed the wording of the contract.

The next phase is to have a pre-construction meeting, determining where the company wants to begin work and other details.
Work is expected to begin June 1.

While the work is going on, the company will leave the stairs and access points up as long as possible, to let people get onto the beach.

The work on the boardwalk is expected to be completed by Memorial Day of next year. Work on the pavilions is supposed to be finished by July 2016, and remaining details are supposed to be closed out by sometime that autumn.

George Harms Construction is planning to work year-round, though a winter like we had this year could cause delays.