Gov Joins Celebration of 50 Years of Love

By Patty O’Neill

Long Branch – It was a festive night at White Chapel Project in Long Branch on Sunday night.

Tammy Murphy, Emily Sonesso, Jan Moore, Governor Murphy, filmmaker Robin Kampf and Jess Alaimo, Co-Founder of the Asbury Park Women’s Convention.

The dance room was flashing with colorful lights, DJ Mick Hale blared popular disco sounds from the 70s, and the dance floor was alive with dancers, including drag queens Savannah Georgia, Sheina Kage, and Rhedd Rhum.

The special occasion was the LGBTQ+ community coming together to celebrate equality and diversity by hosting its first-ever “Gimme the Tea: Retro-Style Tea Dance” honoring New Jersey pioneers in the fight for equality. The event was hosted by community activist group “CommUNITY.”

Mayor John Pallone presented guests of honor Emily Sonnessa and Jan Moore with a Certificate of Recognition honoring their 50 years of being together, 5th wedding anniversary, Emily’s 90th birthday and October as LGBTQ+ History Month. Congressman Frank Pallone was also present to celebrate the occasion.

Pallone read that, “As members

of Garden State Equality, Jan and Emily have been pioneers who were part of a social movement of equality that changed the course of history, set the bar for advocacy and have been supportive members of the LBGTQ+ community.”

No longer hidden among the disco crowd, the guests of honor Jan and Emily made their way to the stage to listen to Governor Phil Murphy’s presentation.

“This is a wonderful event and a great cause,” Sonnessa. “I’m just so happy with the progress that has been made.”

Governor Phil Murphy and his wife Tammy showed up to tout New Jersey and sing the couple a happy birthday/anniversary song.

He was invited to the event by Robin Kampf, a Long Branch filmmaker who made the movie Love Wins, about Emily and Jan, the two Ocean Grove women who fell in love 50 years ago when doing so was considered taboo. They were legally married in 2013.

“We were asked by Robin to come out today to help celebrate not only their 50 years together, but also Emily’s 90th birthday,” Murphy told the crowd. “And we said, ‘Hell yeah.”‘

Murphy spoke about how New Jersey has good values for households, respect for the environment, gun safety laws, how it treats our immigrant brothers and sisters, and women’s health. “And we intend to be number one in the American class in all those areas, as well as the environment we provide for the LGBTQ+ Community,” he said.



Oceanport police chief makes the FBI one percent

By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr

Oceanport — Last week Police Chief Michael Kelly left for an 11-week intense training and certification program. The training takes place at the prestigious FBI National Academy on the grounds of the United States Marine Base Quantico in Virginia.

Oceanport Police Chief Michael Kelly is receiving special training from the FBI National Academy in Virginia.

Kelly, who had applied for the academy in 2017, received notification early this summer that his application was accepted and if he wanted, he could attend the fall 2019 session. Less than one percent of law enforcement officers globally are afforded the opportunity to attend the prestigious training.

“I was shocked when they contacted me. However, it is something that I have wanted to do for a long time. I am blessed to work in a community and for a governing body that allowed me to attend this very intense and leader driven training,” said Kelly.

Session 278 started last week and Kelly is one of the 220 law enforcement officers who come from 35 countries to learn from the FBI. Course content includes behavioral science, forensic science, understanding terrorism/terrorist mindsets, leadership, communication, and health/fitness. “I have already lost 15-pounds getting in shape for the academy,” Kelly said.

At the end of the 11-week academy, all attendees participate in the “Yellow Brick Road” which is the final fitness challenge. It is a grueling 6.1-mile run through a hilly, wooded trail built by Marines. Along the way, the participants must climb over walls, run through creeks, jump through simulated windows, scale rock faces with ropes, crawl under barbed wire in muddy water, maneuver across a cargo net, and much more. “When you finish and pass the test you are actually given a yellow brick to memorialize the achievement,” added Kelly.

Kelly grew up in Jersey City, and then his family moved to Spring Lake when he was in elementary school. After high school, he attended Brookdale Community College and then earned a BA in criminal justice from Seaton Hall University. His law enforcement career started as a Class II officer in Manasquan. Kelly then attended the Monmouth County Police Academy going alternate route, paying for it himself.

During his time in Oceanport, Kelly was appointed sergeant in October 2011. He was elevated to the rank of lieutenant in January 2014, and named chief of the department in 2017.

The FBI provides housing for all the officers while at the academy. “I will be celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary while in Quantico and the birthday of one of my children. My wife and kids are very understanding and supportive as they know this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Kelly.

Requirements to attend the national academy are very strict. An officer must hold the rank of lieutenant or higher, be in law enforcement full-time, be in excellent physical condition, capable of strenuous exertion and regular participation in the use of firearms and defensive tactics. They must pass an FBI physical examination and a background investigation. The last condition is that graduates of the national academy must remain in law enforcement for a minimum of three years after graduating.

On July 29, 1935, the National Academy was created in response to a 1930 study that recommended the standardization and professionalization of law enforcement departments across the United States.

“Each class or session has between 30 and 50 students from international police agencies and 200 from all over the states. What a great network of colleagues I will have developed after this training. It will not only benefit me professionally, but it will be a great resource for the residents of Oceanport,” Kelly said.




Getting ready to celebrate 100 years of Oceanport

By Neil Schulman

Oceanport — In 2020, Oceanport turns 100, and the Oceanport Historical Committee is getting things in place.

It wasn’t the first time Rosanne Letson has spoken about the upcoming centennial celebrations. In September, she showed this commemorative t-shirt they sold at the Summer’s End Festival.

At a recent Borough Council meeting, committee member Rosanne Letson gave a status update of what has been happening.

Borough historian Frank Baricelli and other members of the committee are working on a book to commemorate the centennial. It will update a volume published in 1970 for the borough’s 50th anniversary.

Earlier in the meeting, council had applied for a grant to help publish the book. Oceanport needed to apply since the committee doesn’t have its own Federal ID number, but Letson said that this grant will help tremendously with the costs.

“The book is a reality. It’s going to happen,” she said.

The committee is also planning a Holiday Home Tour in December. So far 11 homes have signed up.

The tour will be Dec. 8, from 11-3 p.m., just before the annual tree lighting.

In addition to seeing how the homes are decorated for the holidays, local businesses will supply sweets to eat, and the Garden Club is creating holiday centerpieces for the homes.

Tickets are $40.

In January, the committee will decorate the streets with decorative banners and flags hung along the post. They’ll be on display on Main Street and, if there are enough sponsors, also along Fort Monmouth.

Letson also urged people to check out the Oceanport Centennial Facebook Page, which is full of old photos of the borough.

A lot of them spark discussion, especially when people try to identify who’s in the photos, she said.


WLB Council considering new parking restrictions/changes

By Coleen Burnett

West Long Branch — Too many vehicles have ended up being parked in the lot at Borough Hall for too long a time – and its forcing the West Long Branch council to look into some possible restrictions or changes.

Councilman Stephen Bray broached the subject at the caucus session of the October 2nd meeting. The discussion was prompted by an email that was sent to him by a member of the police force.

It turns out that the parking lot (located at 965 Broadway) has no particular rules or regulations regarding its use.

Bray suggested the rules for another municipal lot — located at the intersection of Monmouth Road and Cedar Avenue — be used as a template for the Broadway lot.

Such a template would possibly include designated parking spaces for the Police Department, Fire Department, and Emergency Services. There would also be spaces designated for the public (along with handicapped spaces), and perhaps a time limit. Bray suggested the limit should be four hours.

“I think if we make it simple it will give us that flexibility,” said Bray.

There were other complaints, including one from both Councilwoman MaryLynn Mango and Borough Administrator Stephanie Dollinger that there were problems setting up the machine used for the recent shredding event due to the number of cars that were in the lot and the logistics of where they were parked.

This was on a weekend. “That’s another example,” said Mango.

Councilman Christopher Neyhart agreed it was a problem that has to be addressed. “In the lot out here, we have numerous people that leave their cars out there for numerous days.” He added that it would be one thing if they got permission to leave their cars from Police Chief Paul Habermann, but they weren’t even doing that.

It was decided, for now, the issue will be explored further.

O’port share of sports betting (seems to be) $172,000

By Neil Schulman

Oceanport — The borough has finally learned how much is potentially available in its share of sports wagering at Monmouth Park: $172,000. Now all that remains is getting the funds – which may not be easy.

When sports betting was legalized last year, New Jersey set it up so that host communities where the betting took place, like Oceanport, were entitled to a share of the revenue. But the state was collecting the revenue for later distribution, and for the last several months the borough had been trying, with no success, to find out how much it is due.

At the Oct. 3 meeting, Borough Administrator Donna Phelps said she had finally gotten an answer from the Department of the Treasury. As of Sept. 15, Oceanport’s share was $172,000.

The next challenge will be getting it. There’s a lot which isn’t clear yet.

“I can’t do anything with it until October 15,” Phelps said. That’s when the department publishes the information in the registry, and the money becomes available. It’s possible that there will be more money available than the $172,000 due to extra money coming in since that amount was calculated. But it also isn’t 100 percent clear if all of this is for Oceanport, or if this is a share which both Monmouth County and Oceanport will need to split. Borough officials think this is exclusively their share.

The borough must apply for these funds before January 15, but plans to do so as soon as possible.

Oceanport must specify what it plans to use the funds for to receive them, noted Mayor Jay Coffey. And the borough will only release them for the “betterment of the general public,” he said. It’s a broad term, but the borough needs to justify it as “economic development.”

Councilman Joseph Irace noted that the figure was higher than Oceanport had expected. It was anticipating about $100,000 for the first year of sports betting.

He also said that given the bureaucracy, Oceanport wouldn’t receive the funds quickly.

“I don’t think we’ll even get the money this year.”

Borough resident Mark Patterson had a suggestion on how to spend the funds.

“I know all the emergency services are in need of emergency equipment,” he said. “I might be biased,” he noted, since he belongs to the Oceanport Hook & Ladder Company, but added that the first aid squad and police, as well as both fire companies, could benefit.

Bank of America donates building to city

Long Branch — Mayor John Pallone announced this week that he has successfully negotiated with Bank of America to donate its historic main building on Broadway to the city.

Bank of America is closing its Broadway location and giving the building to the city, which will convert it into a new economic development office and a showcase for the Long Branch Arts Project.

The bank has also agreed to upgrade and expand banking operations at its drive-thru office on Branchport Avenue after they close the main office on Broadway at the end of October.

Pallone said the city plans to use this donated building on Broadway for an expanded economic development office and to launch the Long Branch Art Project.

The mayor explained that Long Branch’s current economic office in downtown Broadway is in a cramped upstairs location that residents rarely visit.

“Once the economic development office is moved to the repurposed bank, our plan is to showcase various programs like the Urban Enterprise Zone,” Pallone said. “The office will be visible and residents can walk in easier. A conference center can be set up for businesses and small groups.

He said that they also want to start the Long Branch Art Project in the historic bank building with exhibits to encourage local artists so that Long Branch becomes a regional focal point in the arts. “It can be an economic engine to draw people to the city for business and tourism,” said Pallone.


The drive-thru located across the street will remain for ATM

Pallone explained that Bank of America is closing the main building on Broadway because most of their business is conducted electronically, either online or at the drive-thru ATM diagonally across the street on Branchport Avenue.


The drive-thru will remain for ATM purposes but they plan to open up the smaller building next to it for walk-up electronic services in addition to the ATM. The building on Branchport Avenue and the parking lot will be upgraded.

“We’ve also asked that they consider using this smaller office for mortgage and loan services,” Pallone said.

The mayor noted that the main bank building, which will be donated to the city, is in excellent condition.

“The main bank building has a classic stone exterior with high ceilings inside. They don’t build them like this anymore,” Pallone said.

“I want to thank the Bank of America local representatives for all their help in achieving our goals including Bank of America State President Bob Dougherty, Joe Gianni, senior vice-president for government affairs, Effie Gikas, senior vice-president for Central Jersey and Maria Rios, branch manager in Long Branch,” Pallone concluded.





Fall Cleanup at Jackson Woods

Kathy Buchan, of Friends of Jackson Woods, is requesting help on October 26, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., for a Fall Cleanup.

Students at a recent Jackson Woods Park cleanup.

“Will Johnson from Monmouth County Clean Communities, and Stan Dziuba’s DPW workers are both available that day as well as students from Monmouth University. Please mark your calendars to join us in planting daffodils at the Atlantic Ave. entrance to the park, cleaning up the sensory garden and Tom Booth garden, and adding additional daffodils around the gazebo, as well as in the butterfly garden area,” Buchan said.

For those who can’t do the physical work or have a conflict that day, Buchan said they could contribute by donating a bag of daffodils or making a tax deductible donation in the name of Jackson Woods to the Monmouth Conservation Foundation. PO Box 4150, Middletown , NJ 07748.

Buchan also reported on some of the recent progress, and future goals, for the park.

It had two cleanups this summer, one in June and an impromptu one in August, requested by students looking to earn honor society credit.

They’re not the only ones interested in beautifying it. “Senator Vin Gopal has been to Jackson Woods and offered his support and introduced me to a grant writer who will offer suggestions and ways to secure funds to continue to restore and revitalize this wetlands ecosystem,” she said.

There is a grant for trail work already in the hands of an engineering firm. However, there have been some hold ups with the Department of Environmental Protection, and work won’t start until spring.

“The toad abodes and ladybug houses are on hold for now due to the delay in the trails grant. However , please continue to save your old broken clay pots, bamboo sticks, corks , birch logs, and pine cones. Hoping we can do installations by early summer,” she said.

She also reported that Gold Coast Gardens has developed plans to enhance the Ocean Ave. park entrance with a four seasons garden. “All we need now are funds to move forward,” she said.


Columbus Day Parade celebrates diversity in LB

Steve Levine, owner of the Windmill restaurants was Grand Marshal of the Columbus Day Parade this year held on Sunday in the city.

As always the event, organized by Joseph Mercadante, along with the City of Long Branch, was a great success with families lining the parade route to get a glimpse of their favorite floats, antique cars, people, and of course to have candy thrown at them.

Local high schools, like Long Branch, Ocean Twp, Monmouth Regional and Shore Regional, had their marching bands keeping the beat.

Eight stories in North Long Branch


See this link here
Eight stories in North Long Branch?

Recycling event in WLB, donate old eyeglasses

West Long Branch — On Saturday, October 5, the WLB Environmental Commission is hosting a Recycling Event from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at West Long Branch Borough Hall, 965 Broadway.

There will be opportunities to:

• Recycle old electronics

• Shred personal documents – there is immediate, secure, onsite shredding

• Donate old eyeglasses (for the Lions Club)

• Bring American Flags to be properly disposed of

• New this year is a Coat Drive for Lutheran Church of the Reformation Community Clothes Closet

Please email any questions about the Recycling Event to