Oceanport project earns 2018 Merit Award

The Monmouth County Planning Board presented four organizations with their 2018 Planning Merit Award at their Dec. 17 meeting.

One of the sites was in Oceanport.

“These honorees are recognized for their significant, creative contributions to Monmouth County that makes it one of the best places to live and visit,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the Planning Board. “The Planning Merit Awards honor the exceptional examples of planning in Monmouth County, and inspires others to pursue the same level of planning achievement and excellence.”

The 2018 Merit Awards were presented to:

East Gate, Fort Monmouth, Oceanport, in recognition of outstanding adaptive reuse of historic housing and economic development. East Gate is the first residential component to be introduced in the Fort Monmouth redevelopment. Former military housing for officers has been remodeled to create new two- and three-story homes with luxurious amenities and a high level of style and comfort.

The redevelopment is comprised of 68 fully restored early 20th century homes that blend the nostalgia of simpler times with modern Monmouth County lifestyles. East Gate takes the most ideal characteristics of a traditional neighborhood-walkability, quality architecture, a central outdoor area, and combines them with modern amenities.

Asbury Lanes, of Asbury Park, in recognition of outstanding adaptive reuse, economic development, and social programming. Asbury Lanes, an 18-lane bowling alley built in 1962, was purchased and renovated by iStar, who kept the site as a bowling and live music venue. The new interior has a large performance and event space, a diner, 6 bowling lanes with a unique pin setting system, an American flag made of red, white, and blue bowling balls, and a bowling shoe rental counter constructed from wood salvaged from the original bowling alleys.

NY/NJ Baykeeper, in recognition of an outstanding public-private partnership project to enhance shoreline protection and restore aquatic habitat in Raritan Bay. This project, part of a public-private partnership between NY/NJ Baykeeper and Naval Weapons Station Earle, is a living shoreline consisting of artificial reef using live oysters and oyster castles, providing a substrate for oysters to grow on. Located in the Raritan Bay at Naval Weapons Station Earle, the reef is providing valuable data to determine how a living shoreline can fortify the nearby shoreline, improve water quality, and create aquatic habitat.

T. Thomas Fortune House, in recognition of an outstanding public-private partnership for the adaptive reuse of a historic structure and preservation of community character. The T. Thomas Fortune House (also known as Maple Hall), is one of two National Historic Landmarks in the State of New Jersey that is significant to African-American history. It was constructed in the late 1800’s and was the home of Timothy Thomas Fortune from 1901-1908. T. Thomas Fortune was born a slave and became a journalist, a civil rights activist, a writer, an editor, and a publisher. Roger Mumford of Mumford Homes, along with French & Parrello Associates,

developed plans to preserve the structure and honor Mr. Fortune by rehabilitating the home as the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center. The development consists of the restoration of entire property, along with an entry plaza with benches and a monument commemorating Fortune, parking areas for visitors, internal walkways circulating the site, and an apartment building at the rear that incorporates the French Mansard style of Maple Hall.

Established in 1984, the Monmouth County Planning Board’s Planning Merit Award Program recognizes those plans, projects, programs, individuals, municipalities, businesses, community leaders, and stakeholder organizations that have made a significant contribution to the advancement of planning and planning outcomes in Monmouth County.

For more information, visit the Monmouth County Division of Planning section of the Monmouth County website at www.VisitMonmouth.com or call 732-431-7460.

 

A year to celebrate for LBHMA

Long Branch — On December 11, the Board of Trustees of the Long Branch Historical Museum Association (aka Church of the Presidents) celebrated the year’s accomplishments with a holiday potluck meeting, at the home of Board member Mary Mattaliano.

William Riker/Michael Booth photo From left to right, standing: Michael Booth, Lisa Kelly, Vice President, Janice Grace, Darren Davis, Todd Katz, John Pallone, Dr. Richard Fernicola; Front row: Barbara Carton-Riker, Treasurer, Mary Mattaliano, Dr. Mary Jane Celli (seated), Eugenia Kelly, Secretary. Unable to attend: Board President Jim Foley

In 2018 the Museum was approved for a $150,000 matching restoration grant from the New Jersey Historic Trust and a $5,500 matching grant from the Monmouth County Historical Commission. Both of these grants will focus on completion of the windows and doors of the historic structure.

At the meeting, Dr. Richard Fernicola updated the Board on continuing efforts to move the George W. Child’s building to the museum’s site on Ocean Avenue. Originally built in 1867/68 for James M. Brown, the senior partner of Brown Brothers, the building has been used as a retreat center since the 1940s under the name Stella Maris. The property was sold last year to The Jackson Group and recently approved for a four-lot subdivision. Ike Chehebar, President and new owner, is very much interested in history and has been working with the group to help save the original section of the building.

Anyone interested in helping with this special project is encouraged to reach out to the Museum Board by contacting the Trustees or visiting their website, www.churchofthepresidents.org or Facebook page.

Let us help you find that next good book!

By Lisa Kelly, Outreach and Publicity Manager

One of the most frequent questions asked of library staff is: “Which book should I read next? What’s good?” This question never fails to surprise me.

Lisa Kelly photo Janet Birckhead, Henrietta Dawson, Janice Grace and Cadene Patterson love to talk books at the library!

Why? Because I’m a reader. Always have been. I have the opposite problem: I have too many books stacked on my “read next” shelf. As library staff, I easily access an embarrassment of reading riches. It’s simple for me to select that next book, even if I choose it simply for an eye-catching cover or intriguing title. If we don’t own a book I want to read, we can usually get it from another library in our consortium, via inter-library loan (it’s a wonderful service – ask about it!) so most of the time I’m not even browsing our library shelves, but just checking out the books as they come in “on hold” for me.

But although it’s a foreign concept to me, there are readers who request help selecting their next good book. You may not know this, but there is a whole component of librarianship devoted to helping our patrons select books, called Reader’s Advisory. And so, when asked, our answer would be “What’s the last book you enjoyed? And why do you like this kind of book?” There are many, many book genres, divided into many sub-categories, but a few basic categories of fiction and non-fiction are: mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, magical realism, short story, horror, humor, biography, journalism, self-help, memoir and history. We staff members possess varied tastes in reading genres, so when we know what our patrons are seeking, we can provide personal recommendations.

Fantasticfiction.com is a wonderful resource for staying current with your favorite authors and series. This extremely comprehensive website has pages and pages of authors, old and new, with lists of all their books and series in order, including synopses of each, so you can follow your favorite authors and see if they have written a new book. Each author’s page also includes other authors enjoyed by their fans, a nice way to find new authors you’ll probably enjoy, because they’re similar. There are many other websites providing book recommendations. Ask the staff to share their favorite resources for Reader’s Advisory.

I thought it would be fun to share what some of our staff members like to read.

Janet Birckhead, Senior Librarian describes herself as a very eclectic reader but tends to read mostly non-fiction. Her favorite fiction genre is young adult dystopian fiction, particularly authors Margaret Peterson Haddix, Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth. What she likes about this genre is “seeing people triumph over difficult circumstances.”

Anya Wells, Library Assistant at the Elberon Branch Library, enjoys reading old-school science fiction. Her favorite authors are Russian writers who’ve never been translated into English, but chooses Ray Bradbury as her favorite American sci-fi author. Anya likes science fiction “because it gives me a lot of new ideas, and I like reading about new inventions that didn’t used to exist but have now been realized in today’s world and tracing that connection from the classic older science fiction.”

Anna Sweeney, Library Assistant, also chooses science fiction as her favorite genre, favoring the books of Orson Scott Card. “It’s the allure of what could be in the future, and there’s always a message about the dangers of future technology and the people in power who control it.”

Bunny Dawson, Library Assistant, likes reading James Patterson’s Alex Cross detective series. For her, the appeal is not necessarily the plot of each mystery or thriller, but following the development of the recurring main character from book to book. Bunny also enjoys biographies, and her favorites are the unauthorized biographies of Golden Age Hollywood celebrities from the 40’s and 50’s. “I’m fascinated with the ways certain celebrities lived their lives and reading about the unknown stories of their lives as their secrets are finally revealed.”

Cadene Patterson, Circulation Manager, prefers reading non-fiction. Science, health, and religion are her favorite subjects, but especially anything about health and human anatomy, explaining “I like knowing how the body works.”

Janice Grace, Local History Room Manager, enjoys the British detective novels of P.D. James and the forensic investigations of Patricia Cornwall, and requires a good plot to hold her interest, but also likes to read Anne Rivers Siddons “whose generational family fiction unfolds in epic dramas set in interesting, atmospheric places.”

Whatever your favorite genre m ay be, the Long Branch Free Public Library is sure to have a book you’ll enjoy reading next. Please visit the Main Library and the Elberon Branch Library and chat with the staff about what they like to read. We love to talk books and share our favorites! I promise you’ll leave with good suggestions and a book or two! Our new fiction and non-fiction is always displayed near the Circulation desks. In December, the Main Library is displaying the staff’s favorite books of the year.

We hope to see you soon.

 

Sea Bright lights up the town

By Patty O’Neill

Sea Bright Recreation hosted a Holiday Tree Lighting on Saturday, December 8th at Anchorage Park.

It was a chilly night, with a lot of cold noses and toes, so everyone appreciated the hot chocolate and donuts served.

“Recreation Director Don Klein does this every year,” said Councilman Charles Rooney. “And DPW worker Shaun Thomas did a lot to help prepare for the event.”

It really was a city effort with John and Adriana Sands donating the tree, and Michael O’Shay, who lives next door to the park, allowing the lights to plug into his electric.

Sea Bright library held a craft day with children who created decorations for the tree, and they did a beautiful job.

Festive Christmas charolers sang holiday favorites, encouraging the crowd to sing along.

The kids in Sea Bright must have been extra special because Santa and Mrs. Claus showed up for photos, but most of all to ask the children what they wanted for Christmas.

Police officers were on hand to make sure everyone crossed Ocean Ave. safely, very much deserving a cup of delicious hot cocoa.

 

 

 

Rotarians get a lesson in cyber safety

Long Branch — Aaron Levine from LG Insurance Agency in Long Branch was recently a guest speaker at a Rotary Club of Greater Long Branch lunch meeting, where he spoke about cyber safety, a subject of importance especially during the holidays.

Aaron Levine (l) being thanked by Rotary Club of Greater Long Branch President Walt Thistlewaite.

Below are some tips to keep cyber safe:

• Beware of Phishing Attacks – Online promotions via email, text or social media may look like a steal, but they could be a trap for fraudsters to do just that – steal your data and cash. Don’t click on links or attachments.

• Go to Legitimate Websites – Be on high alert for clone websites. Go to official website of the retailer and look for the HTTPS and lock.

• Avoid Third Part Apps – Use legitimate shopping apps by going to the official app stores. Look for bad reviews, spelling errors and don’t download apps from their parties that could be infected with malware.

• Shop with Credit – When shopping online, use a credit card instead of a debit card. With a credit card it’s their money and 0 liability, with a debit card it’s your money. Opt for a virtual credit card for an added layer of protection, which uses a temporary credit card number.

• Don’t Browse with Public WiFi – Avoid using public unsecured public WiFi, like at a café or airport kiosk, especially for sensitive transactions. Use a VPN or Virtual Private Network that creates a safe and encrypted connection that guards against hackers.

• Don’t overshare on Social Media – Spreading cheer with family and friends online is great, but don’t give hackers a digital key to hijack your life.

• Secure Your Mobile Device – Make sure your mobile device is secured with the most up to date anti-virus software and that you are using a PIN to lock your phone. Use long and strong passwords that don’t repeat across accounts and never save your user id and password. Use two factor authentication and biometrics where available.

• Don’t Fall for Imposter Scams – If you get an unsolicited call, email or text from a bank, credit card provider or government agency, hang up and don’t respond. These organizations will NEVER ask for personal information. Only authenticate yourself when you are in control of the conversation.

• Fake Gift Cards – To avoid gift card fraud, buy cards from behind the store counter, don’t use cards where the strip has been tampered with and avoid buying cards from third party retailers.

• Check your credit – Check your accounts on a daily basis to look for any suspicious activity. Sign up for transaction monitoring alerts from your bank.

• Manage the Damage – If you do become a victim of identity theft, manage the damage. Contact your insurance agent, financial institution or the HR department of your job to see if they offer cyber liability or an identity theft damage control program. You may be surprised to learn it’s a perk of your relationship with the company and you are already protected, or it may be free to enroll or you can enroll at a minimal cost.

Deal police officer arrested on drug charges

FREEHOLD – Deal Police Officer Joseph Ammaturo, 37, of Long Branch, has been arrested for drug offenses and witness tampering, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Officer Ammaturo, who has worked for the Deal Police Department for approximately 14 years, was arrested by members of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Professional Responsibility and Narcotics Units last night and charged with third-degree Conspiracy to Possess a Controlled Dangerous Substance, third-degree Witness Tampering, and a disorderly persons charge of possession of marijuana.

Officer Ammaturo had a first appearance this afternoon before the Honorable James M. Newman, Municipal Court Presiding Judge, at the Monmouth County Jail. Officer Ammaturo was released on the conditions that he report to Pretrial Services monthly, have no victim contact, and refrain from drug use. The arrest of Officer Ammaturo today marks the fifteenth law enforcement officer being prosecuted since Prosecutor Gramiccioni took office on July 1, 2012.

“There is no greater breach of the public’s trust than a sworn law enforcement officer who breaks the laws he is sworn to uphold. This office will aggressively pursue and prosecute any officers who cross that line. It is a stain on the reputations of all hardworking and honest police officers when one of their own violates the public trust in this way,” according to Prosecutor Gramiccioni.

The investigation is still ongoing. Anyone with any pertinent information, please contact Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Daniel Newman at 732-431-7160, extension 7167.

If convicted of either third-degree Conspiracy to Possess a Controlled Dangerous Substance or Witness Tampering, Officer Ammaturo faces a maximum of 5 years in New Jersey State Prison. If convicted of the disorderly persons charge of Possession of Marijuana, Officer Ammaturo faces a maximum of 6 months in jail.

The case has been assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the office’s Professional Responsibility and Bias Crimes Unit.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and State law.

Holiday celebration at City Hall Saturday

Long Branch — Mayor John Pallone and the City Council invite all of Long Branch to come together for a Holiday Celebration, Saturday December 1.

This event is coordinated in conjunction with the Greater Long Branch of Commerce, Long Branch Free Public Library, and the Long Branch Board of Education.

The Holiday Celebration will include a tree lighting and menorah lighting between City Hall and the Library (328 Broadway) from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. Cookies and hot chocolate will be served while the Long Branch Middle School Honors Choir sings holiday tunes.

This event is free and all are invited to attend to join in the festivities. Santa Claus will also be there to help spread holiday cheer.

Pallone says the City of Long Branch is very excited to bring back the tradition of having a tree lighting and menorah lighting at City Hall and hopes all members of the community will attend. The city extends a special thank you to Sodexo Food Services for providing hot chocolate and cookies for the community to enjoy for free.

For more information, please contact Danna Kawut at 732-571-5447.

 

 

Eatontown and Long Branch man busted in child porn sweep

Freehold – A five month operation focused on online consumers of child sexual exploitation materials recently resulted in the arrest of 14 individuals during “Operation Trading Post.” The operation was carried out by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Computer Crimes Unit and Monmouth County Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force between June of 2018 and October 2018. Among those arrested is a former member of the Environmental Commission in Atlantic Highlands, an employee of Princeton University, a VP of Operations for ING Financial Markets, and a laborer at Love Inc., a religious non-profit company, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Operation Trading Post was designed to reduce online threats to Monmouth County children and to decrease the market for child sexual exploitation by focusing on those individuals seeking out and trafficking in child pornographic materials.

“It is incumbent on everyone, particularly those of us in law enforcement, to protect children from harm and exploitation. To that end, Operation Trading Post caught individuals who shamelessly viewed and shared depraved images of children being sexually abused,” Gramiccioni said. “Our successful operation demonstrates the value of our partnerships with the local law enforcement agencies that help our ICAC Task Force continue to have a vigilant and watchful eye for this extremely damaging criminal activity.”

Assisting in Operation Trading Post were members of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office and the Asbury Park, Freehold Borough, Hazlet Township, Holmdel Township, Howell Township, Keansburg, Keyport, Manalapan Township, Marlboro Township, Middletown Township, Ocean Township, Red Bank, Sea Bright, Spring Lake, Tinton Falls, and Wall Township police departments.

The following individuals were arrested as a result of Operation Trading Post:

1. Joshua Valerio, 37, of White Street in Eatontown, a laborer at Love, Inc., was arrested on September 20, 2018, after an investigation of a Cybertip forwarded by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) which revealed he uploaded child pornography to Gmail. Valerio is charged with one count of second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Distribution of Child Pornography) and one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Pornography). Valerio is represented by Steven Nelson, Esq.

2. Thiago Thebald-Simas, 24, of Oakhill Avenue, in Long Branch, who is unemployed, was arrested on August 24, 2018, following an investigation which revealed that he used Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file-sharing software to make child pornography images and videos available to others online. Thebald-Simas is charged with one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, second degree (Distribution of Child Pornography) and one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Pornography). Thebald-Simas is represented by Claudio Stanziola, Esq.

3. Jonathan Henry, 22, of Octavia Place in Keyport, who was employed as a dishwasher at The Turning Point, was arrested on June 19, 2018 after an investigation of a Cybertip forwarded by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) which revealed he uploaded child pornography to Twitter and Dropbox. Henry is charged with one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Distribution of Child Pornography) and one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Pornography). Henry is represented by Christopher Aiello, Esq.

4. Michael Balbosa, 34, Fifth Avenue in Neptune City, a courier with Federal Express, was arrested on June 29, 2018, following an investigation which revealed that he used Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file-sharing software to make child pornography images and videos available to others online. Balbosa is charged with one count of second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Distribution of Child Pornography) and one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Pornography). Balbosa is represented by Jonathan F. Marshall, Esq.
Anthony Johnson, 38, of Ninth Avenue in Neptune Township, who is unemployed, was arrested on July 10, 2018 after an investigation of a Cybertip forwarded by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) which revealed he uploaded child pornography to Dropbox. Johnson is charged with one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Pornography). Johnson is represented by Patricia Colligan, Esq.

5. Rene Torres, 48, of Gettysburg Drive in Howell Township, who works in Operations for ING Financial Markets, was arrested on July 18, 2018 after an investigation of a Cybertip forwarded by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) which revealed he uploaded child pornography to Flikr. Torres is charged with one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Pornography). Torres is represented by Jonathan F. Marshall, Esq.

6. A Juvenile, of Holmdel, was arrested on July 25, 2018, following an investigation which revealed that he used Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file-sharing software to make child pornography images and videos available to others online. The juvenile is charged with one count of second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Distribution of Child Pornography) and one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Pornography). The juvenile is represented by Robert A. Honecker, Esq.

7. Brian Foley, 60, of Asbury Avenue in Atlantic Highlands, an Information Technology Specialist with Cerner Corporation and former member of the Environmental Commission in Atlantic Highlands, was arrested on July 26, 2018, after an investigation of a Cybertip forwarded by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) which revealed he uploaded child pornography to the website, Motherless. Foley is charged with one count of second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Distribution of Child Pornography) and one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Pornography). Foley is represented by Edward Washburne, Esq.

8. Alexander Ecock, 22, of Grenoble Court in Freehold, was arrested on July 31, 2018, following an investigation which revealed that he used Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file-sharing software to make child pornography images and videos available to others online. Ecock is charged with one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Pornography). Ecock is represented by Richard Incremona, Esq.

9. William McMahon, 64, of Brookside Avenue in Keansburg, a deli worker at Acme Markets, was arrested on August 3, 2018 following an investigation involving an undercover chat on Doublelist.com. McMahon believed he was chatting with, and made plans to meet, a 14 year old boy. As a result, McMahon was charged with one count of Luring, a second degree crime, one count of Attempted Sexual Assault, a second degree crime, and one count of Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child, a third degree crime. McMahon is represented by Brian Goldenfarb, Esq.

10. David Wu, 32, of Skyline Drive in Hazlet, a logistics specialist with Vanguard, was arrested on August 29, 2018 following an investigation which revealed that he used Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file-sharing software to make child pornography images and videos available to others online. Wu is charged with one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, second degree (Distribution of Child Pornography) and one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Pornography). Wu is represented by Jonathan F. Marshall, Esq.

11. Fady Elghazaly, 33, of Ravenswood Road in Marlboro, a mechanic with United Airlines, was arrested on September 26, 2018 following an investigation which revealed that he used Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file-sharing software to make child pornography images and videos available to others online. Elghazaly is charged with one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, second degree (Distribution of Child Pornography) and one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Pornography). Elghazaly is represented by Mitchell Ansell, Esq.

12. Ronald Paul, 56, of Haverford Court in Freehold, was arrested on October 18, 2018, after an investigation of a Cybertip forwarded by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) which revealed he uploaded child pornography to Tumblr. Paul is charged with one count of second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Distribution of Child Pornography) and one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Pornography). Paul is represented by Michael Grasso, Esq.

13. Ryan Marques, 18, of Dorado Beach Court in Howell, a student, was arrested on November 19, 2018 and was the subject of an investigation of a Cybertip forwarded by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) which revealed he uploaded child pornography to Dropbox. A warrant was issued for Marques’s arrest on October 25, 2018 charging him with one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Pornography). Marques is represented by Raymond Santiago, Esq.

14. Gregory Cantrell, 61, of Mariners Cove in Freehold, an employee of Princeton University, was arrested on November 5, 2018, after an investigation of a Cybertip forwarded by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) which revealed he uploaded child pornography to Bing Image. Cantrell is charged with one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Pornography). Cantrell is represented by Kevin Clark, Esq.

All the defendants were released on the conditions that they have no unsupervised contact with children under the age of 18 and not use the internet. McMahon remains incarcerated pending trial.

If convicted of the second degree Endangering, Attempted Sexual Assault or Luring charges, a defendant will face a maximum sentence of 10 years in New Jersey state prison, Megan’s Law, and parole supervision for life. If convicted of the third degree Endangering charge, a defendant will face a maximum sentence of five years in state prison and parole supervision for life.

All the cases are assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Martha Nye and Stephanie Dugan.
Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.

Long Branch Council Briefs City looks at beach badges app; high Best Practices score

By Neil Schulman

Long Branch — People who want to purchase daily beach badges next summer will likely have the opportunity to do so with their smart phones.

At the Nov. 15 Long Branch Council meeting, a resolution was passed to prepare a request for proposals for electronic beach badges.

“We’ve researched the possibility of having an app,” said City Administrator George Jackson. He said that one company had shown a demonstration, and that it could be made at no cost to the city.

Not only would it be a convenience to beachgoers, but it would also cut down on handling cash, Jackson said.

“Cash is a dangerous thing to have lying around.” He said it makes the beach entrances a tempting target for robbery, putting employees at risk.

There would not be much equipment involved, just a piece of plastic with a QR Code, placed by the ticket booths, Jackson said.

 

Best Practices at 97%

Long Branch had another very good year on the state’s annual Best Practices questionaire, earning a 97 percent.

Each year, the NJ Department of Community Affairs issues a form for municipalities to fill out to see if they are following what the state considers the best financial practices.

Long Branch CFO Michael Martin said that this year the city earned a 97 out of 100, which means that it will receive its full state aid.

This doesn’t mean that the city is following all the advice at the moment. “There’s a lot of ‘prospective’ [answers to] questions this year,” Martin said. That means Long Branch is looking at items recommended by the state, but has not implemented them. In these cases, ‘prospective’ does not penalize any points.

 

Gas prices up

Due to the way that municipal budgets work, at this time of year the city has to begin transferring funds from one department to another to cover certain expenses.

Councilwoman Anita Voogt was surprised a how much was being moved to pay for gasoline.

“It just kind of catches your attention when you’re making an $80,000 transfer,” she said.

Martin said that work on the 2018 budget began more than a year ago, and it is “difficult to speculate… 15 months ahead of time” on the cost of gas.

While the city purchases its own gasoline, prices have risen recently. According to AAA, a year ago the average price for diesel in Monmouth and Ocean County was $2.83 a gallon. As of Nov. 15, it had risen to more than $3.30. It was more expensive a month ago at $3.41.

 

Book on spirit of the holidays supports Toys For Tots

By Neil Schulman

The holiday season has a message. And a new book by area resident Larry Campanella can teach children that message and benefit Toys For Tots at the same time.

The book can be purchased on the page, or by calling Campanella at 732-501-4226.

 Campanella, a retired special education teacher and a singer, routinely uses his works to benefit the needy, especially around the holidays.

Sales from his CDs have gone to hurricane victims, the Salvation Army and other causes. His last book, “Larry’s Healthy 21-Day Food Guide,” raised money for Elijah’s Promise, a soup kitchen in New Brunswick.

His latest work, “Gavin’s Christmas Surprise,” is aimed at children in second or third grades.

The book tells the story of Gavin, a 7-year-old who goes to school in Burlington, Vermont. Normally Christmas is a major celebration in his house, but his father, Mr. Simon, lost his job, and times are tough. Mr. Simon can’t get gifts for his family and seems to have no holiday spirit.

“This year, he didn’t want to join his family in doing anything,” Campanella said.

When Gavin’s best friend Derrick hears this, he asks his family to help out, and share the message of the holiday season with the Simons.

Campanella says that the book has been getting attention. The principal in Champlain Elementary School, Vermont, where the fictional Gavin and Derrick go, has expressed interest in using the book in school.

Proceeds from the book benefit Toys For Tots. The Marine Corps Toys For Tots program collects new unwrapped toys and distributes them to families in need around the holidays. It has been in existence since 1947.