New auction system earns city over $100k; beach report

By Neil Schulman

Long Branch — Online auctions have been very successful for the city, bringing in an estimated $100,000 extra in two years.

Council President Rose Widdis presents a proclamation to Joe Mercadante for his work on the Columbus Day Parade over the years, as Mayor John Pallone looks on.

At the Oct. 24 City Council meeting, where council authorized the online auction of a variety of items from old police cars to iPads to gas heaters, Lt. Charles Shirley explained how going online had made a big difference in the auction process.

Before 2015, people had to come to Long Branch to bid on items, and it was considered mostly a way to get rid of old, unneeded equipment.

“We would have the people come and visit the auction, and we would sell them for what we thought was a minimal price,” Shirley said.

The city then began researching online sites that were authorized to conduct auctions for municipalities. After some research, they settled on GovDeals.com.

The result is that a lot more people saw the items, and bidding became much more competitive.

“It was really about our audience. We used to sell a car and we would get $50 for it,” Shirley said. The same three or four people generally came to the auctions, and agreed not to bid against each other.

In comparison, some of Long Branch’s items put online have gotten 5,800 views. One car sold for $4,000.

In the two years with GovDeals, Long Branch has made $137,000 from its auctions. Shirley said they estimate under the old system they would have made $100,000 less.

Knowing that they can get a better rate out of auctioned items has also let the city change when it sella them. If they’re put online while still serviceable, the proceeds will be enough to help with the purchase of a better replacement.

Mayor John Pallone said that when the process started, he saw how effective it was. The city had been planning to get rid of old iPads.

“I thought I was going to get a $20 iPad for my son, but all of them went for over $160,” he said.

Not that he’d have been able to bid on them; city employees aren’t allowed to bid on auction items.

 

Busy summer for lifeguards

Despite a rainy summer keeping people off the beaches fairly often, lifeguards were busy this summer.

OEM Coordinator Stan Dziuba says that the annual beach report has been compiled. Over the summer (and a few weeks afterward while the weather was nice), the 85 full time and 45 part time lifeguards performed 871 water rescued. Of those, 143 were “late shift” rescues, after the beaches officially closed at 5 p.m. but where Long Branch lifeguards stayed late because people still used the beach.

There were also 7,832 “preventions,” when a lifeguard left the stand to issue a warning, The beach also had 1,876 code enforcement issues, such as people littering.

There were 160 major medical incidents that required a trip to the hospital, and 110 cases of lost and found people, where a child or adult got separated from their party.

Dziuba reported that the Junior Lifeguard program continues to grow, from 50 participants in 2013 to 135 this year.

Council members asked about getting Long Branch residents involved in working at the beach.

“Anyone from Long Branch High School who has applied and passed the tests has been hired,” said Dziuba.

Council President Rose Widdis also suggests getting some senior citizens to help the ticket booths, along with the Long Branch teenagers who often work there.

“I just think it would be nice to have a relationship with students and seniors,” she said.

 

Mercadante honored

For the last 13 years, the annual Columbus Day Parade has been organized and sponsored by Joe Mercadante, and he’s been the parade chairman for the last 15 years. Council recognized his work for the most recent October 7 parade at their meeting.

Pallone praised Mercadante’s dedication and efforts in coordinating all the participants.

“It’s an endeavor I think you start the day after [each] Columbus Day,” he said.

Devils win and Koenig gets 100th win

By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr      Photos by SportShotsWLB

It has been a bitter sweet season for Kelly Koenig and her 2018 Shore Regional High School field hockey team. On the bitter side, it was the first time in 43 years that the Blue Devils didn’t win the Shore Conference divisional title. On the sweet side, Koenig won her 100th career game as a head coach.

Koenig took over the team in 2014, after her successor Nancy Williams retired as the most winning field hockey coach in the United States. The Blue Devils have a long history of field hockey dominance and during her first year as head coach, Koenig steered her squad to an NJSIAA Sectional and Group title. They also won their divisional title in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Over the past four years Koenig has averaged 25 wins per season to reach the magical 100 career victory. That big win came at the expense of Florence in NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 1, quarterfinals. The Blue Devils who ranked second in that bracket beat the 10th seed Florence 9-2.

Shore had an opening round bye and are now scheduled to play Point Boro, third seed, on Halloween. The top seed in the bracket is Metuchen who faces fourth seed, A.L. Johnson in the other semifinal on October 31.

Maggie Lamb, who possess one of the hardest shots, scored four goals and had one assist for theBlue Devils in the victory over Florence. Lily Santi scored three goals and assist on three, while Isabella Saponaro scored twice.

The win gives Shore an 18-3 overall record. This season after the Shore Conference realignment the Devils are playing in the A Central division, with longtime foe Rumson-Fair Haven. The Bulldogs beat Shore twice during divisional games which gave them the title, and also beat Shore in the finals of the 2018 Shore Conference Tournament.

 

Green Wave overcomes slow start in romp over Brick Memorial

By Skip Pierce

Things were not looking good for Long Branch in the early going of their road clash with Brick Memorial. Well into the first quarter the Mustangs had a 7-0 lead and were perched on the LB seven-yard line with a first and goal.

At this point of the contest it was just impossible to imagine that the Green Wave would go on to win by a 40-14 score in a romp. However, five touchdowns by running back Jermaine Corbett, including two in the air, was in their future.

Brick took the opening kickoff and marched down the field confidently to put up 7 points. Long Branch countered with a lackluster three and out series. Memorial fielded the punt at their 30 and drove down to the Wave seven-yard line. On third and seven Brick quarterback Tyler Sindel found Jeff Lavarin in the end zone. However, safety Marc Dennis made a spectacular play and hit the receiver at the same instant that the aerial came in, dislodging the ball to deny the score. The Mustangs then failed on a field goal attempt that went wide.

On the second play of the following LB series Corbett jumped through the line via a block by lineman Hunter Metzler. The junior back then outsprinted the entire defense right up the middle for a shocking 80-yard touchdown run. In just moments the momentum shifted from Brick to Long Branch and it would stay that way for the rest of the evening.

The next LB score would come in the second quarter, a 65-yard drive comprised of three key plays. The trek started with a 19-yard completion from QB Marc Dennis to Jayon Farrar. A 16-yard run by Corbett advanced the squad to the Brick 30. On the very next play Corbett took the handoff and went left. However, he surveyed the line and saw that lineman Raul Rivera was clearing a lane. Corbett then went right, slipped by Rivera and rambled the 30 yards through traffic and into the end zone for a 13-7 advantage.

The Wave magic would continue in the very next Mustang series. On the first play of the set QB Sindel pitched to halfback Jeff Lavarin, but Sindel was hit by linebacker La’Qym Morris at the moment the ball was released. Wave linebacker Latrell Bennett simultaneously came charging in and slapped down the lateral. It bounced right back into Bennett’s hands and he ran it in to complete a 35-yard scoring strike.

Long Branch would score one more time in the first half. The 66-yard drive would begin with a 10-yard bootleg by QB Dennis followed by a seven-yard completion to Matt Clarke. Later a 27-yard reception to the Mustang 11 by Corbett set up the opportunity. Two plays later Corbett ran over from six on a second effort after getting hit twice at the two-yard line for a 27-14 lead that held up to halftime.

Billy Levy got a good return on the second half kickoff reaching midfield. A personal foul penalty moved the ball to the Brick 35-yard line. On the fourth play of the series QB Dennis hooked up with Corbett with an eleven-yard touchdown pass. The final Wave tally came in the fourth quarter with 10:19 remaining on the clock. Once again the touchdown came on a Dennis pass to Corbett, this time for five yards on a fourth down play.

Friday evening the Wave hosts the Middletown North Lions for the first round of the state playoffs. Looking ahead just a reminder that the annual Thanksgiving Day game will be played in Long Branch. This will be the 96th meeting; LB leads the series 61-31 with 3 games ending.

Oceanport schools seek public input; water watch update

By Neil Schulman

Oceanport — The Oceanport School District is seeking feedback, both on a potential new school project and what residents would like to see for the schools in general.

At the Oct. 19 Borough Council meeting, schools superintendent Melanie Lipinski said the survey was being mailed to every home in Oceanport, and copies would be distributed at various places around the borough, such as borough hall and the library.

The survey is also available on the school website, www.oceanport.k12.nj.us/.

Since only one copy is being mailed to each residence, some people may need the extra copies or to go online.

Questions include what residents consider priorities in education, as well as what facilities they consider most important, and if they would be amendable to ever replacing the two schools with a single K-8 building.

“This is something we really should be doing every year as a school district,” Lipinski said.

Lipinski said that at the Oct. 17 Board meeting, there was a presentation from Solutions Architecture, identifying what is needed in the facilities for maintenance and to meet state standards.

Parts of the report are online, but Lipinski said because of the comprehensive nature of the report, the district thinks it would be a security risk to put the full report, which outlines every nook and cranny of the buildings, online.

 

Too high, but not that high

Councilwoman Patty Cooper reported that the state is unlikely to assist with reports of high bacteria counts in parts of Oceanport’s waters, because they’re used to dealing with much higher counts.

She said that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection had approached the borough’s Water Watch Committee about working together.

While most of Oceanport’s water tests well, there have been a few problem areas where the bacteria count is above what is considered healthy. But the DEP seemed uninterested in attempting to remediate the problem or determine the source of the pollution.

Cooper said that’s because these places are still relatively clean.

“They have been working on cleaning up the Shrewsbury river. The numbers there are in the thousands; the highest [in Oceanport] is 691,” Cooper said.

In other health news, Cooper reported that the Monmouth County Health Department will not be holding a flu clinic in Oceanport this year. Once, when flu vaccines were hard to come by, these were well attended, but the last one in the borough drew only five people, and many vaccines had to be discarded.

 

Clean Communities Contest

The Oceanport Clean Communities Poster Contest, open to all students who live in Oceanport in grades 2-8, runs through November 1.

The posters deal with the theme of litter.

Entries can include drawings, cartoons, photographs, or computer generated art. They must contain the word “litter” in the design, and can be no bigger than 11”x17”. They should encourage picking up roadside litter and recycling.

Two winners will be selected to have their artwork featured on the Oceanport website and to receive a $50 gift card. First place will also be the front cover of the 2019 Oceanport calendar.

Details are available on the borough website, oceanportboro.com.

We can all do more to fight the opioid epidemic

By Congressman Frank Pallone

Dear Neighbors,

When I travel throughout New Jersey, I hear constantly about the opioid epidemic that is devastating our communities. More than 2,200 people died from drug overdoses in 2016, nearly a 40 percent increase in the death toll from the previous year.

Thousands more individuals and families face the debilitating realities of addiction. That is why I have made it a priority to address the opioid epidemic in Congress.

As the Ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees health care, I was proud to work on bipartisan legislation that was signed into law in 2016, providing billions in grants to states to fight this crisis. Last month, I helped pass reforms that will improve our efforts to advance treatment and recovery initiatives, improve prevention, and bolster our efforts to fight deadly illicit synthetic drugs like fentanyl. The president is expected to sign this legislation into law.

One provision I authored helps Medicare to cover Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) and medication-assisted treatment (MAT). This will help pay for necessary medications, counseling, and testing to treat substance abuse. Another provision I authored will give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the ability to take action against illicit controlled substances coming in through International Mail Facilities across the country.

While these are important steps, I believe that Congress must do more to provide funding to fight the epidemic and provide increased access to treatment for families. I also remain concerned that attempts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act and roll back Medicaid will reduce access to treatment for millions, including those with substance use disorder.

We can also all do more to make sure that excess prescription and over-the-counter drugs do not fall into the wrong hands and contribute to the opioid epidemic. This week at a Walgreens in West Long Branch, I met with health leaders to discuss how we can prevent drug overdose deaths and make our communities safer by discarding these medications.

The Walgreens Safe Medication Disposal Program has disposed of more than 270 tons of unwanted medications since the launch of their program. There will be a total of 25 disposal sites in New Jersey that will allow individuals to safely dispose of prescriptions at no cost. I will continue do everything within my power to continue to fight for funding and access to treatment.

Sincerely,

Congressman Frank Pallone

Three join up to run for Long Branch school board

By Neil Schulman

Long Branch — Darlene Carfi, James Parnell and Lucille Perez are running together for the Board of Education.

While not formally a team, the three say that they agree on many issues, and are asking voters to support them at the polls.

Parnell and Carfi are each seeking a three-year term, and Perez is seeking a two-year term.

 

Darlene Carfi

Carfi, born and raised in Long Branch, and whose daughter went through the Long Branch school system as well, says that she’s been involved in the school in many ways, from PTAs to the Athletic Hall of Fame.

“I’ve never been on the board. This is the only thing I haven’t done,” she says. “This is the next step in giving back.”

Carfi has been president of the Gregory Middle School PTA, Vice President of the Middle School PTA, and served on the PTO/A council that oversees all the Parent Teacher groups in Long Branch.

She’s also chair for the Class of 1984 reunions (and is ready for the 35th in August 2019). She’s a Long Branch High School Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, and when the schools made a video on the historic high school’s, she was one of the people selected to speak in it.

Her motto is “keeping Long Branch pride alive.”

“I wear my high school ring. I have the Green Wave on my keychain.”

Carfi was selected for Shine: 100 Women of Long Branch, which profiled the important women in the city. She is a member of VFW 2140, and assembles baskets to give out to the needy during the holidays there.

She says being elected to the board of education would let her serve the community in a new way.

One of her goals on the board would be to foster a love of learning.

“I’m a parent looking in, and I’d like to see every child have a book in their hand,” she said.

She also says that she’d like to help get more people involved. At the last Board meeting she attended, as soon as student presentations were over, the crowd thinned out to under 20 people.

 

Lucille Perez

Perez, who has been married 40 years, got involved in the school system as she put her child through the system.

“When she entered, I became a PTO mom.”

While her daughter was in middle school, Perez was elected to the Board of Education, and served on it for 18 years.

A retired social worker, Perez is a member of the St. Michael’s St. Vincent de Paul Society, helping people in crisis situations.

Perez said that it’s important for the board to be able to get along.

“One of the reasons I am running is the board can only accomplish things as a group. When I say ‘accomplished,’ it’s not that I did it alone,” she said.

Some of the accomplishments of the board when she was on it in recent years include addressing a health care crisis and preserving the historic high school.

As with much of the rest of the nation, health care costs were going up in the school system, and Superintendent Michael Salvatore was looking for a way to keep the burden from taxpayers.

“Dr. Salvatore prepared a new method of insuring the employees,” she said. An on-site health care clinic was built, drastically reducing expenses.

And when the new high school on Indiana Avenue was being built, the state promised to preserve and restore the old one. But afterwards, they tried to get out of the promise and demolish the Westwood Avenue building instead.

Salvatore and the board fought to save it, and got a $4 million grant to begin the restoration work.

Perez says she was also on the board when seven new buildings were created and two were refurbished, and the early childhood learning program was introduced.

“That’s a permanent impact on the city,” she said.

Her goals if elected include increasing school security. She is glad that the city and schools have teamed up to hire police, but wonders if more can be done.

One issue is that schools are still used for hosting polling sites. She’d like to see them hosted away from the children.

“There’s so many other places in the city,” she said.

She also wants to ensure that civics is taught in school, and that the focus is not just on preparing for standardized tests.

 

James Parnell

Parnell, a lifelong Long Branch resident, previously served six years on the Board of Education.

“I thoroughly enjoyed it,” he said. “I believe in the superintendent and his administration.”

While on the board, he was part of the negotiations team.

“We settled two contracts which I thought were fair to both the employees and taxpayers,” he said. His goals if elected include increasing school security.

“I think they did a good job hiring these police officers,” he said.

He also says the school must address issues involving PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) system, the standardized test whose future is up in the air.

Parnell is a retired firefighter who now works for the Department of Public Works.

“People who know me know who I am. I stand behind every vote I’ve taken,” he says.

 

Curley: checks and balances needed in Freehold

By Neil Schulman

Freeholder John Curley, previously a Republican, is running as an independent this year. He says his record shows that he’s capable of saving Monmouth County money without losing jobs, and that he isn’t afraid to speak out when it’s unpopular to do so.

Last December, the other four Freeholders voted to censure Curley, saying that an investigation had found he made derogatory claims about employees. Curley denies these incidents took place.

Over the summer, the other Freeholders were found to be in contempt for publicly releasing information from the investigation, which was supposed to have been sealed.

Curley claims this is political.

“There’s no checks and balances in Freehold,” he says. “Quite frankly, there’s never been.”

He gives as an example when he filed his petition to run as a Republican. The chair of the Monmouth County Republicans — who is also the sheriff — objected to the petition. And the County Clerk, who certifies petitions and is also the co-chair of the county party, kept it from going through. Instead, the three-term Freeholder is seeking his fourth term as an independent.

But while he’s been a Republican in the past, he says he hasn’t ever been lockstep with the party — and that’s benefitted the county.

“I have been a political independent all the way through,” Curley said. “I just don’t fit with the bosses, really.”

Curley says he’s been willing to look at the records closely and bring attention to issues. He says he went after former Brookdale College president Peter Burnham, who was convicted of using college funds for personal expenses.

“He went to jail. I went through the budget,” Curley said.

He also said he’s saved taxpayers money by getting the county out of programs a county shouldn’t run.

That includes selling nursing homes Monmouth County was running. “Medicaid was not keeping up with the cost of health care,” he said. By the time Monmouth County sold it, it was $57 million over budget — and the entire county budget is only $461 million.

“There is no one who could sustain that.”

He also helped save about $3 million by privatizing drawbridge operations — Monmouth was the last place on the east coast that didn’t.

Curley says that many of the county’s plans need close scrutiny. He opposed to the county’s bonding given to FMERA, the agency that oversees redevelopment of the Fort Monmouth base, to buy much of the land from the army.

“That put all 53 municipalities in jeopardy,” he said. “The state of New Jersey washed their hands of FMERA.”

He also says he believes FMERA should give more power to the three host towns, Eatontown, Oceanport and Tinton Falls.

He worries some upcoming deals would cost taxpayers too much. That includes a proposal to buy Allaire Airport, saying it’s too risky and flights would interfere with developments planned for the area.

“One plane crash and all 53 municipalities in the county are out of business,” he said.

He also doesn’t like a proposal to let a dump in Southern Howell expand into a solid waste station. “There’s a lot of ground estuaries there,” he said. “A lot of them flow into the Monmouth County reservoir.”

Curley said that when he came in, he brought a 23-point plan to reduce spending, based on zero budgeting. One thing he worked on was job consolidation — but not firing people.

One person could be paid a higher salary to take on more responsibilities, and jobs could be eliminated through attrition. Similarly, some work was moved away from the county.

He has never voted for a tax increase. “I tell people it’s prioritizing. Just like you would do for a business.”

While Curley may have criticisms for the Board of Chosen Freeholders, he has nothing but praise for the county employees.

“I’m so proud of the Monmouth County food drive which we coordinate,” he said. Employees are always eager to contribute to the Fulfill food pantry.

He’s been advocating pay increases for employees, since some need to work second jobs.

“But they’re the same people who reach into their pockets to buy a bag of something, a can of something, for our food drive.”

Curley said that he’s proud of how the county can reach out for those in need. It’s set up the SCAT system to provide transportation for seniors, has programs for veterans so they don’t need to deal with the difficult Washington DC bureaucracy, and reaches out to many others.

One day he got a call. “A man said I just paid for my wife’s cancer medicine and I don’t know how we’re going to pay for that.” He was happy to be able to direct him to the right people in the county.

“I do promise when I am re-elected I will continue in the same vein of being a watch dog,” Curley said.

 

 

Long Branch High School Class of 1958

The Long Branch High School Class of 1958 has been holding an extended reunion. This photo was taken at the newly renovated Max’s over the weekend. On Wednesday, the group presented a $600 check St. Brigid’s Food Pantry, at St James Church.

West Long Branch welcomes fall

Sunday’s annual Fall Festival at Franklin Lake was a successful effort by the whole city,
“Events like this continue to make West Long Branch a great place to live and raise a family,” said WLB Mayor Janet Tucci.
Long lines formed for hayrides, but went fast as two trucks continuously loaded up with riders, took them to pick pumpkins then back again for another round. Back at the festival the kids could decorate their pumpkins as they liked at a craft table. Kids had so much to do with face painting and balloon animals which had to be gripped tightly while being threatened with gusts of chilly wind.    There was popcorn, cotton candy and coveted donuts from Delicious Orchards were handed out by the PTA.

Groups were raising money for their Shore Regional graduating class, Dogs Behind Bars, and other worthy causes.

“There is so much they offer here for free,” said one parent. “The least I can do is support the different causes.”

Free cruise for cancer fighting WLB resident

AMICI Italian-American Ben­evolent Association held its 4th Annual Poker/Casino Night in Fair Haven last weekend to raise money to help cover the medical expenses of Maria Mignone of West Long Branch, who is fighting stage IV cancer.

Maria Mignone

The AMICI Italian-American Ben­evenolent Association’s casino night helped raise funds for a West Long Branch resdient fighting cancer to get a free cruise.

Maria (37) and her parents were surprised (a good surprise for a change!) with a free cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas, sponsored by Kick Cancer Overboard and AMICI. Instead of packing to go to the hospital, they will now look for their flip-flops, and pack their luggage to sail to Bermuda – all expenses paid for.

Kick Cancer Overboard’s mission is to give free cruises to people who have been affected by cancer. The non-profit aims to offer them a break for a few days, so the most important question is not how to pay for their next medical bill, but whether to play bingo, get a massage or sing Karaoke.

They organize various local fundraisers, help people organize their own fundraisers, and offer cruises at a reduced price, since the more paying people they book, the more people they can sponsor for free.

For more information on Kick Cancer Overboard, visit kickcanceroverboard.org.