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This week’s Out and About – Are you in it?

Out and About – a local feature in The Link

Annie Grant, 83, served the state and the community

Annie Williams Grant, 83, of Long Branch, was born in Blackville, South Carolina, and passed on July 3, 2019 at Monmouth Medical Center.

Annie retired on August 30, 2008 as a Commissioner on the Monmouth County Board of Taxation. She was appointed commissioner by Governor Jim Florio, sworn in on July 29, 1991; was reappointed to a second term by Governor Florio; then reappointed by Governor Whitman; and on June 16, 2003 was reappointed by Governor James McGreevey. Her duties include adjudicating property tax assessment appeals, and overseeing the administration of property taxes in Monmouth County. She is the first African American to hold this quasi-judicial position in Monmouth County. When appointed, Annie was one of three African American Taxation Commissioner in New Jersey. Appeals to Annie’s rulings have been dismissed by the State Tax Court, and she has the distinction that several of these court decisions have been published in the Law Journal. Annie is a member of the International Association of Assessing Officers.

Professionally, she was the manager of the Long Branch H&R Block Income Tax Office for 19 years. She was a state certified instructor for income taxes and taught income tax classes for 20 years, and conducted numerous seminars in local high schools and for community groups. In 2000, she received the H&R Block Plaque for 30 years of outstanding service, along with a set of luggage. Annie retired in 2003, after 33 years with the tax service. She received other awards, including H&R Block President certificates, the 1990 H&R Block Client Service Plaque, and a diamond ring for 25 years of service.

Annie was also a New Jersey State Notary Public.

Politically, she was the Democratic candidate for Monmouth County Clerk in 1989. Annie was the treasurer for the Long Branch Democratic Club for 30 years. On September 20, 1992, she was named Woman of the Year in Politics by the Monmouth County Commission on the Status of women, and also by the Asbury Park Democratic Club.

On February 4, 2005, Annie was invited by Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. to speak at the Democratic Congressional Roundtable about the Social Security reform proposed by President Bush. She was also a special guest, on the front row of the Capitol gallery, to hear the President’s State of the Union address. The next day she participated in a rally and press conference on the steps of the Cannon House Office Building with Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Congressmen Rangel, Levin, Conyers, Green, Hoyer, and others. Again she urged that the Social Security Program be left alone, and that all the funds that had been borrowed from the Social Security Trust Fund be repaid with interest (along with the $2 trillion needed for the proposed reform by President Bush), guaranteeing its solvency. Her comments were played on FM107 (The Breeze), and carried in the Asbury Park Press, and on the Associated Press network.

She was very active in her community as President of District Six (Monmouth County) Veterans of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary, President of the Ladies Auxiliary of VFW Post 2140 (Long Branch), Chairman of Volunteers for the Monmouth County American Red Cross, President of the Monmouth County Business and Professional Women’s Council, Inc., Secretary of the Long Branch Environmental Commission, co-founder of Interfaith and Interracial Group, Girl Scout leader, Member of Zonta International; the League of Women Voters; Fort Monmouth Ladies 18-Hole Golf Club; and the Deborah Hospital Chapter.

Annie has received many awards for service, including U.S. House of Representatives’ Citations, Monmouth County Freeholders’ Recognition Certificate, Monmouth County Democrats Recognition Plaque, New Jersey County Tax Boards Association Appreciation Plaque, New Jersey State Assembly Recognition Resolution, a Long Branch Mayor and City Council Proclamation and Community Service Certificate, VFW Post 2140 woman of the Year Plaque, New Jersey State VFW Ladies Auxiliary Service Plaque, U.S. Army Certificates of Appreciation, Gordon Consistory #50 Community Service Award, and the Par-ettes Golf Tournament Trophy in 1979 and 1988.

While living in Wuerzburg, Germany, with her Army husband, Annie organized a daycare center on the military post, and was called on several occasions to speak on organizing daycare centers at other installations in Germany. Upon leaving Germany, she was presented the Marine (3rd Infantry) Division Certificate of Appreciation by the Commanding General.

Annie, a member of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Long Branch, served as Sunday School teacher, Vacation Bible School teacher, President of the 49er’s Circle, Administrative Board member, and volunteer tax consultant. She wrote a column on taxes in “THE COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER.”

Annie was married to Avery for 59 years. They have two children, Avery Jr. Grant (Rose Marie) and Adrianne Dickerson (Peter), and another son-in-law, Anthony Ferguson Sr; grandchildren, Anthony Jr. (Scott), René, Shannon, Christina, Kyle Avery, Brandi and Joshua, and great-granddaughter Jade; and her godchildren, Lisa Sherrill, Chelsea, Cheyenne, Dolores and Timothy, Sharleen, Norman and Greg.

Annie and Avery lived in Long Branch since building their home in 1967.

Condolences available online at www.LawsonFuneralService.com Lawson Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 243 Broadway, Long Branch, was in charge of arrangements.


Eatontown seeks to control invasive bamboo

By Coleen Burnett

Eatontown — Eatontown is looking to possibly ban bamboo in the borough.

Mayor Anthony Talerico floated the idea to the Borough Council at their June 26 meeting. Bamboo is a highly invasive, fast growing plant that, if left unchecked, can destroy virtually anything in its path, including such hard to replace items as sidewalks and sewer systems. Talerico himself had a personal childhood experience with a neighbor’s bamboo — it took out his family’s backyard pool.

Point Pleasant and Brick in Ocean County and Wall Township and Neptune in Monmouth County are just a few of the towns at the Shore that have prohibited the plant. Most times the ordinance gives the authority to the Department of Code Enforcement to handle the bamboo, but most experts agree it is difficult to enforce, due to the fact that the plant travels so fast between properties.

Talerico said he is also aware that there are several residents who have bamboo on their properties that take tremendous care to see that the plant doesn’t travel. This usually involves a somewhat complicated — and expensive — process that involves placing steel or concrete walls ten-plus feet down into the ground nearby to prevent them from wandering.

Eatontown resident Jeff Genovese said the problem was particularly bad for him, as he has a neighbor whose bamboo simply jumps over to his property. The way things stand now, he would be unable to sell his home because of his negligent neighbor.

“It pits neighbor against neighbor, friends against friends, and destroys communities psychologically and personally,” he said. “If we lose 350 grand, where do we go? Who do we sue?”

And he warned there would be consequences for the borough if they waited too long on taking action. “It will cost this town millions of dollars to remediate the problem. You’ll have to dig up the street, dig up the sewer, dig up {what’s underground} and it will take years. Bamboo destroys everything.”

Most ordinances of this type say that you are banned from planting it and if you do have it you are prohibited from letting it get in your neighbor’s yard. Borough Attorney Gene Anthony said he would look into drawing an ordinance up, but warned that it may not be the easy fix everybody thinks it is — especially when comes to the legal term of retroactivity, or determining who originally was at fault.

“I’ve had cases where it has spread over three people’s properties and you’re not sure where it began,” he said.




Shade Tree Com. offers trees for Monmouth Beach

Monmouth Beach — The Monmouth Beach Shade Tree Commission says that with all the construction still happening in their beautiful little town, there is more need than ever before to restore the canopy and shade quality in the borough by planting new trees.

At a fraction of the actual retail cost to homeowners, the Shade Tree Commission is offering two 4-foot to 12-foot trees per family for only $150 each.

This price includes the tree(s) being planted in the ground for you in the late fall, within 9 feet of the curb.

This is a wonderful opportunity to reforest the town.

Residents must order by September 25, for the fall planting. Mail the attached form with your check to “MB Shade Tree Commission” 22 Beach Road, Monmouth Beach, NJ 07750

WLB Library offers family fun this summer

West Long Branch — The West Long Branch Library, 95 Poplar Ave., has announced its children’s programs for July and August.

The Summer Reading program, where you can read to earn prizes, is available online and on the go through apps. It runs through August 10. Visit monmouthcountylib.beanstack.org for information or to register.

Wiggle and Giggle Storytime is held each Wednesday, 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m. It is for ages 10-24 months, with parents/caregivers. Siblings are welcome. It features songs, rhymes and stories.

Morning Together Storytime, for ages 3-5 (with parent/caregiver) is held each Wednesday from 10:45-11:05 a.m. Families will participate in stories, songs and craft activities.

There are no programs on August 28.

In addition, numerous special activities will be held. Registration is required for them and can be done at person in the library, online at bit.ly/WLBKids, or by phone, 732-222-5993.

• Family Movie — The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part will be shown Wed., July 3, 2-3:45 p.m. Bricksburg’s heroes face Duplo space invaders who wreck faster than they can rebuild! The movie is rated PG.

• Let’s Move With Gymboree! — Wed., July 10, 10 and 10:45 a.m. Children will enjoy singing, dancing and playing with a Gymboree instructor. For all ages.

• Kids Workshop – Build a Wooden Jet Fighter, Wed., July 10, 4 p.m. Little builders will create an aircraft using hammers, nails, and paint, courtesy of Home Depot. Ages 4 and up.

• Full S.T.E.A.M Ahead: Make Your First Lego Movie! – Monday, July 15 at 6:30 p.m. Bring your imagination and your story. Discover the art of filmmaking using stop-motion techniques and state-of-the-art equipment to make a short movie with Lego figures and bricks. Hosted by educator Vitor Silva from Built by Me. For grades three and up.

• Lego Free Play – Wed., July 17, 4 p.m. Enjoy building with Lego bricks? Come design, create and have fun. For ages 4 and up.

• Books and Barks! – Wed., July 24 at 4 p.m. Read aloud to a therapy dog. Read five books and earn a book to keep. For grades K and up

• Milky Way Mobiles – Wed., July 31, 4 p.m. Decorate and hang an intergalactic wooden mobile.

For ages 5 and up; limited to 10 participants.

• Let’s Move With Gymboree! – Wed., Aug. 7, 10 and 10:45 a.m.

• Blast Off With Bubble Rockets! – Wed. Aug. 7, 4 p.m. Make a mini model rocket that runs on bubble fuel with Debbie Hadley from WILD Jersey! For grades 3- 5.

• Family Movie: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Wed., Aug. 14, 2-3:35 p.m. Hiccup and Toothless must leave the only home they’ve known and journey to a hidden world. Rated PG.

• A Whale of a Summer with The Whalemobile! – Mon., Aug. 19, 6 p.m. Join marine educator Cynde McInnis in an interactive program about whales, their habitat, and conservation. Participants can see, touch and feel whale artifacts and take a tour inside Nile, a 43-foot inflatable whale. This program will be held at the West Long Branch Community Center, 116 Locust Avenue.

• Books and Barks! – Wed., Aug. 21, 4 p.m. Read aloud to a therapy dog.

Laurino Farms cares for the produce and the community

Bob Laurino’s decision not to use chemical products on his crops began after a tragic event: The death of his father, the former owner of Laurino farms.

Fresh Jersey vegetables and fruit are available, as are friendly faces and knowledgeable help.

While Laurino says he can’t confirm for sure that his father’s throat cancer was due to the use of chemicals, he has unfortunate memories of his father spraying his fields with weed chemical controls, all while doing so without a mask.

“I’m sure those chemicals did irreparable harm,” Laurino said. “After his passing, I decided I would change my whole operation and, while a lot of work, I’m so happy I did.”

To operate a chemical-free farm, Laurino’s day starts at 6 a.m. every morning. Using a tractor, he cultivates his fields until 7:30 a.m., when he begins to open his farm stand. He and his crew start packing their vegetables for delivery around 9:00, spending the day running back and forth to the fields to bring in freshly picked vegetables. After the farm stand closes at 6:30 p.m., he goes back to his tractor, working the fields until around 8:30-9:00 p.m.

“Go home, shower, paperwork, and I’m in bed by midnight,” he said of his routine after the workday is over.

Laurino comes from three generations of farmers: His grandfather came from Italy, starting the family tradition of farming. Today, Laurino’s mother, Maria, continues to work at the farm with him.

“My mother Maria has been there since the beginning with my dad, and even now she is at the farm almost every day and I couldn’t do it without her,” Laurino said.

Third generation farmer Bob Laurino with his mom Maria. Bob says chemical-free farming is a no brainer.

To help those in need, Laurino Farms has partnered with the Hockhockson Farm Foundation and Lunch Break to give low-income families access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The program is called Caring Sharing Agriculture and gives those who donate the opportunity to give a share of fruits from Jersey Grown and vegetables from Laurino Farms.

“Lunch Break with Gwedolynn Love, and her great staff and caring volunteers, already do such a great job of helping those in need,” Laurino said. “Being able to work alongside them and Jon and Tracey Stewart’s Hockhocksen Foundation, well, it was a no brainer.”

Laurino says that he also leases his farm from the Stewart family (Jon Stewart is best known as the former host of The Daily Show) and praised the amount of good work they do for the community, from helping abused animals to aiding local families who need food.

What is most amazing is they do a ton of this, yet never attach their name to it,” Laurino said of the Stewart family. “They do it anonymously, so the public only sees a small fraction of all they do.”

For over 30 years, Laurino worked alongside his father to help make the farm the success it is today. Now, the responsibility to maintain it is on him.


Local campaign helps to boost special education funding $65M

By Neil Schulman

Long Branch — City resident Anita Claverling and Councilwoman Dr. Anita Voogt are urging people to support the Every Kid Counts program, which would provide more state funding for special education. It seems their voices and those of many others are being heard.

On Sunday, local state Senator Vin Gopal, Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, and Assemblywoman Joann Downey announced an additional $65 million in extraordinary special education funding following Governor Murphy’s signing of the state budget, calling it a major step in the right direction.

Claverling spoke at the June 26 City Council meeting, saying that at a recent Coffee with the Mayor event Dr. Voogt had told her she would discuss the program.

School districts around New Jersey are being “squeezed by the state” when it came to funding for special education, Claverling said.

Voogt also endorsed the program, calling it a “very important opportunity,” and urging people to go the www.everykidcountsnj.com to sign a petition

According to the Every Kid Counts website, supported by local state Senator Vin Gopal and Assembly members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey, the state devotes only $195 million a year to students with extraordinary aid, while estimates say it would cost almost twice that much to fully fund it, $380 million.

The state is supposed to help districts when the cost of education for a student exceeds $40,000 a year. That’s about twice the average cost of educating a student.

“There’s one problem – this lifeline has never been funded at more than 80 percent,” said Downey. “Since 2012, that amount plummeted to around 50 percent. That was unsustainable.”

Downey said she oversees issues relevant to residents with physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities as Chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee.

“Today’s special education funding deal is an enormous victory for schoolchildren and taxpayers,” said Sen. Gopal, Long Branch, on Sunday. “We’re well on our way to full state funding of extraordinary special education spending. Leaders in local education should be incentivized to provide the best possible special education program they can, not fear the cost increases that can come with a successful school when in-need students move to town.”

Gopal, Houghtaling, and Downey kickstarted Every Kid Counts to draw attention to the funding gap. They say that it was due to support of local residents that Murphy approved the extra aid.

“Thanks to the voices of folks from towns like Tinton Falls, Ocean Township, and Eatontown, we’ve seen an outpouring of public support that’s really raised the standard for this issue and helped us fight hard to see it through,” Houghtaling said.



Battle on the Beach boxing fundraiser for NJ youth

Long Branch — Get ready to rumble in Long Branch on July 6 for the 3rd annual Battle on the Beach fundraising boxing event for New Jersey Give a Kid a Dream (NJGAKAD), a non-profit organization for youth.

Organized in partnership with the City of Long Branch Recreation Department and its Director, Carl Jennings, NJGAKAD will host a youth boxing fundraising match sanctioned by the New Jersey Association of USA Boxing to showcase the talent of these exceptional amateur boxers starting as young as 8 years old.

Boxing fans, community supporters and families will gather to watch over 10 exciting championship bouts and cheer on local New Jersey Olympic amateur boxers. Join us at the Great Lawn (located on Ocean Avenue between Ocean Place Resort and Rooney’s) at 2 p.m. on July 6 and help raise funds for at-risk youth in the New Jersey community.

Guests will include Long Branch town officials, local press and several boxing professionals, including Iran Barkley and Mark Breland.

“Children live up to what you believe of them and we believe all of our children are capable of accomplishing greatness,” NJGAKAD founder Jackie Atkins said. “We are honored to have such a committed team who believe our youth are worth fighting for and are willing to make the investment. No other investment yields as great a return as the investment in our children.”

NJGAKAD is adding outreach to this year’s event and will also partner with Team 412 organization to host 10 youth from Pittsburgh, Penn. This will be their first time traveling out of state as a team and first time experiencing the beaches of New Jersey.

“We are so lucky to have these youth visit to participate in Battle on the Beach from Pittsburgh as their first time leaving their hometown,” Atkins said, adding that the group will be hosted at her home. “It’s lots of firsts for these kids. They are very excited and so is the coach!”

Most importantly, guests will get to support this terrific program for at-risk youth which combines the best of social services and the sweet science of boxing with essential life skills.

All proceeds will go towards providing programs for the youth as well as scholarships. Donations can be made at the NJGAKAD website.

For sponsorship opportunities, please email njgakad@gmail.com.

One of the programs is the newly-launched “Girls in Gloves.” Youth in this program recently met Unified Champion Claressa Shields before her championship match in April. Shields spoke to the youth about making positive choices and taking control of their destiny, which is a concept taught in the NJGAKAD program.

Children in the program receive boxing training at the legendary Gleason’s Gym Jersey Shore, tutoring for schoolwork and learn pertinent life skills through trips and excursions to become Champions of Life.

With a track record of creating national boxing champions through programs she built from scratch, two time Ringside World Champion, National Golden Glove Champion & NJ Martial Arts kickbox Champion Jackie Atkins turns the experience of coaching into tremendous success stories.

Out of every 10 high school students, three to four students do not meet criteria to obtain their high school diplomas, according to national statistics. NJGAKAD, however, boasts a 100 percent success rate because every single participant since the program’s inception has obtained his or her high school diploma. In 2019, all middle school youth achieved an 85 or higher academic average and improved their attendance thanks to mentors who invest in this program and provide counseling to the youth.

All proceeds will benefit 501c3 organization New Jersey Give a Kid a Dream, a program dedicated to NJGAKAD’s Champions of Life. To donate, visit the NJGAKAD donation page. For sponsorship opportunities, please email njgakad@gmail.com.

For more information about the New Jersey Give a Kid a Dream’s Battle on the Beach, please visit the NJGAKAD website: http://njgakad.com/.



Shop Long Branch could start up within the month

By Neil Schulman

Long Branch — The Shop Long Branch program, which offers property tax deductions or money back for shopping at participating businesses in the city, should start within the next few weeks.

At the June 12 Long Branch City Council workshop, Roberto Ferragina of the Office of Community and Economic Development said that there were 15 businesses which had signed on to the program to date.

The purpose of the program is to give an incentive to shop locally. He said it was designed to help “existing businesses, primarily mom and pop businesses,” who have to compete against big box stores and online shops.

To take part in the Shop Long Branch, people need to pick up special cards, which will be available at the Greater Long Branch Chamber of Commerce, the city’s libraries, the Office of Economic Development, Department of Recreation and a few other locations.

“They register the cards online. It takes about 30 seconds,” Ferragina said.

Afterwards, they can use it with participating businesses. When someone uses the card, a certain percentage of the transaction is put aside.

A quarter of that is put into running the program. The remainder goes into property tax relief for the cardholder. If the person doesn’t live in Long Branch, or rents property, instead there will be a check for the amount.

Businesses set how much of a rebate users of the program get.

The businesses which had signed up as of June 12 were:

• Bella’s Pizzeria

• The Butcher Block

• BR Help Center

• Caputo’s Italian Pastry Shoppe

• Finer Details

• Interworld Highway

• Jackson Hewitt

• John Guire Supply

• Lapidus Decor

• Attorney Leonard Kizcek

• Norah’s Irie Jamaican Restaurant

• The Peddler

• Sands Dry Cleaners

• Sip’s Ace Paint and Hardware

• V&S Auto Brokers

“We’re working with approximately another 15-20 businesses,” Ferragina said.

Long Branch is not the only town in the state with this program. There’s 27 others, all administered through the private Property Tax Reward Program.

Many groups have worked to help get Shop Long Branch off the ground, and the city says it will work to keep it vibrant. Similar programs in other towns do best with strong support from the cities and chambers of commerce and the community.

“Jake [Jones, Director of the Office of Community and Economic Development] made the arrangement with Investor’s Bank to sponsor the card, which was a significant donation,” said Mayor John Pallone.

The city will give decals to participating businesses. BR Center has offered to translate literature and signs into Portuguese, and Long Branch is planning to get a translation service to make them in Spanish as well.

“I’ve got to tell you it’s a collaborative effort. Had we not had the Chamber of Commerce and the help of Lindsay [DeAngelis, Assistant to the City Business Administrator] we would not have gotten the response,” Ferragina said.

He predicted the program would be ready to start within four weeks.