Start of school is a special time for Monmouth County

The Arnone Report by Freeholder Tom Arnone

I hope everyone had a happy and safe Labor Day Weekend! A new school year is officially upon us and that means it is time to be extra cautious when driving around our communities!

It’s always important – and especially now that children are back in school – that everyone obeys speed limits, stops for pedestrians and avoids distractions when driving. It’s also important that pedestrians and children walking to school use crosswalks or cross at intersections and wait for the walk signal before stepping into the road.

As the school year begins, I will be sending notices to school districts once again to let them know I am always happy to meet with students of all ages to discuss civics and the role of county government. Last year I had the opportunity to meet with students in several towns throughout the county including Red Bank, Belmar, Eatontown, Long Branch, Tinton Falls and Asbury Park.

In addition to the start of a new school, we are also celebrating the extended tourism season here at the Jersey Shore. The Monmouth County Division of Tourism, which I serve as liaison to, is keeping busy by attending several upcoming events, including the Asbury Park Oyster Festival this weekend, September 6-8. The Feast of San Gennaro in Belmar will return September 14-15. To find more information about these events and other activities in the area, visit the Monmouth County Tourism Website at On another note, I am pleased to say that the flooding issue at the area of the Spring Lake Heights Shopping Center and Route 71 has seen significant improvements in the last few months. The County has been working diligently with Spring Lake Heights officials, NJ Transit and NJDOT to eliminate this problem. I want to commend the Monmouth County Department of Public Works and Engineering, as well as, NJ Transit, NJDOT and Assemblymen Sean Kean and Ned Thompson for their continued efforts to finding a permanent solution to this problem.

Additionally, I am pleased to report that we are continuing the construction of an important traffic safety improvement project along a 1.5 mile-long section of County Route 539A (Sharon Station Road) corridor between County Route 539 (Allentown-Davis Station Road) and County Route 526 in the Township of Upper Freehold, which includes the reconstruction of three bridges, a boulevard concept, a new roundabout, and upgrade of the existing traffic signal.

We are looking forward to receiving bids for construction of the Sharon Station Road improvements scheduled for September 5th, and anxiously awaiting commencement of construction activities this fall.

As always, I want to commend the Public Works and Engineering Department for working diligently to advance various infrastructure improvement projects to keep our roads, bridges and buildings in a state of good repair.

On a separate note, I, along with Sheriff Shaun Golden, Clerk Christine Hanlon and fellow Freeholder Gerry Scharfenberger had the honor of joining Congressman Chris Smith and Mayor Mark Walsifer at the Post Office Dedication Ceremony naming the Belmar Post Office as the “Dr. Walter S. McAfee Post Office Building.” Dr. Walter McAfee, a former resident of Belmar, was a scientist, educator, and adviser to the U.S. Army Communication-Electronics Command and the Fort Monmouth community. He was instrumental in the success of Project Diana, an effort by scientists at Camp Evans to pierce the earth’s outer atmosphere with high frequency radar.

It was his mathematical calculations that enabled the team to bounce the first radio signals off the moon’s surface. Without the success of his calculations that allowed for communications to occur between earth and space, the achievements of launching a satellite into space, or sending a man to the moon, would not have been possible. It is the achievement of this extraordinary man that helped launch us into the space age.

It was a great honor to be invited to attend and speak at Dr. McAfee’s dedication and to remember and honor him for his outstanding contributions to our history.

As always, it is an honor to serve as your Freeholder Director.


Tom Arnone

Freeholder Director,

Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders

Shore Regional HS Athletic Hall of Fame 2019

West Long Branch – October 10, 2019 will be the day that Shore Regional High School will be inducting their first Athletic Hall of Fame Class. The ceremony will be held at Branches in West Long Branch on Monmouth Road. Tickets are priced at $75 for individuals and $45 for members of teams being inducted. You can register for the event at Registration closes on September 25, 2019.


Class of 2019

Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2019
Individual Inductees:
Tim Britton (Football and Baseball)
Jessica Coleman (Field Hockey, Basketball, Softball and Soccer)
Bill Dennis (Swimming)
Lou Giglio (Boys Soccer)
Kathleen Kelly (Field Hockey and Softball)
Melissa Lehman (Basketball, Lacrosse and Soccer)
Kevin (Mills Football)
Vanessa Pizzulli (Field Hockey, Basketball and Softball)
Meredith Pizzulli (Field Hockey, Swimming, Track and Soccer)
Paulette Russell (Swimming)
Karen Strollo (Field Hockey, Basketball, Track and Softball)
Ralph Yamello (Track)
Ron Yamello (Track)

Team Inductees:
1963 Football Team
1973 Girls Outdoor Track Team
1981 Football Team
1988 Softball Team
1996 Field Hockey Team

Additional information contact Harry S. Chebookjian III, CAA, Assistant Principal of Athletics & Student Activities 732-222-9300 x2600


Sponsors sought for a Dream Factory, Rescue Ridge benefit

West Long Branch — Dream Factory of the Jersey Shore, in partnership with Rescue Ridge, is sponsoring a Chili Cook-Off, Biergarten and Cornhole Tournament fundraiser to benefit the 501(3)c charities on Sat., Nov. 2, at the West Long Branch Community Center, 116 Locust Ave. from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

They are seeking sponsors for this event.

Dream Factory is a non-profit organization that raises funds to grant dreams to chronically and critically ill children in Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean counties. Rescue Ridge is a nonprofit animal rescue servicing New Jersey and surrounding areas. Both are staffed by volunteers and all net proceeds from fundraisers go directly to granting children’s dreams and/or taking care and finding homes for the homeless animals.

There are multiple levels of sponsorship available. Here’s what each includes:

• Ghost Pepper Level- $3,000. Name and/or logo prominently displayed on all printed materials, advertising, social media, radio spots and top billing on banner and event t-shirt, 20 entry tickets including beer tickets, and two vendor spaces at event.

• Habanero Level- $1,000. Name on all printed material, ads, social media, banner and event t-shirt, and 10 entry tickets (including beer tickets) and one vendor space at event.

• Jalapeno Level- $500. Name on all printed materials and social media, banner and event t-shirt and 5 entry tickets, inc. beer tickets and one vendor space at event.

• Chili Pepper Level- $250 or goods donated in the amount equal to $250. Name on banner, and event t-shirt, two entry tickets and one vendor space at event.

• Poplano Pepper Level- $100 or goods donated in the amount equal to $100. Name on banner, two entry tickets and one vendor space.

Deadline for sponsorship is October 10, to ensure comprehensive coverage.

Please visit to sign up and download sponsor packet, or contact Adrienne Nittolo, Event Planner at or 732-616-8785 with your request.

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Enjoy this fabulous fall outing with competitive chili tasting, beer garden and corn hole tournament as well as an animal adoption area, dog kissing booth, vendors and crafts, live music, gift auction, roving photographer, refreshments and snack bar. Entry fee for chili cook off participation is $35. Registration deadline is October 19. Only commercially licensed kitchens or those affiliated with one will be accepted.

General public entry fee is $7 or $5 for seniors and children under 12.

For more information about the event visit


Theater Review: Memoirs of a Forgotten Man an unforgettable experience

By Madeline Schulman

Long Branch — Memoirs of a Forgotten Man, by D.W. Gregory, is rich in character and incident and subject. The theme is memory, and the central character is Alexei, touchingly played by Benjamin Satchel. Alexei has both total recall and synesthesia.

He remembers everything that ever happened to him, and his experiences and recollections are enhanced with mixed senses, seeing and tasting sounds, hearing and smelling colors. His differences make him insensitive to ordinary cues. Alexei can tell when someone is lying, because that person’s words look like washed-out chalk, but he cannot recognize that no one likes being called a liar.

Amie Bermowitz and Steve Brady in Memoirs of a Forgotten Man at NJ Rep. (Andrea Phox photo)

To remember everything can be dangerous, as we learn from Memoirs of a Forgotten Man, while simultaneously experiencing extraordinary theater and seeing what can happen when a government has absolute power over what is fake news and what is reality, and can alter that truth daily.

In 1957 Moscow, psychologist Natalya (Amie Bermowitz) is seeking permission from bureaucrat Kreplev (Steve Brady) to publish her paper on “Mr. S.”, a remarkable patient who could memorize hundreds of items instantly and perfectly. She is pale and submissive, the actress’s beauty hidden behind dowdy hair and clothes. He is simultaneously officious and sinister, recalling the colorless men who wielded immense power in the recent movie The Death of Stalin. Kreplev wants the present location of “Mr. S.” for reasons that unfold during the play, and he is willing to threaten Natalia with thwarting her career or even with blackmail to get the information.

As Kreplev presses Natalya for details, the play shifts back to 1937 and young Alexei’s life in Leningrad. Steve Brady steps into the scene and the past to become older brother Vassily. The family is completed by Andrea Gallo as their sweet, innocent mother. She also plays a stern teacher and a splenetic male newspaper editor (my secret favorite, because mother Andrea is heartbreaking but editor Andrea is hilarious).

The action moves magically and smoothly between 1937 and 1957, the eras meeting as 1937 Natalia speaks across the decades to 1957 Kreplev. In the earlier time, the Stalinist purges are going on, its victims wiped from history (as fictionalized in George Orwell’s 1984 and recorded in David King’s The Commissar Vanishes: the Falsification of Photography and Art in Stalin’s Russia). Alexei begins working for the state newspaper, and fails to understand why Comrade Bukharin’s name has to be removed from print or Bukharin’s picture from official photos, although Alexei can picture Bukharin and recall his speeches verbatim.

When neighbor Madame Demidova (Amie Bermowitz again) visits with currants and a lemon scavenged from the apartment of a mysteriously vanished couple, it’s clear anyone can be in danger of vanishing after a two a.m. knock at the door.

Kreplev offers to bury evidence of Natalya’s past missteps. He says the past can be erased and many in the post Stalinist era have left their old lives behind to become someone else. Young Alexei asks Natalya to teach him to how to forget. But can memories be excised without loss and pain to ourselves and others? Can traumas be eradicated along with painful memories? Is forgetting the horrors of history a luxury we can afford? I think we need art like Memoirs of a Forgotten Man to help us to remember.

Memoirs of a Forgotten Man runs through Sept. 15 at NJ Rep, 179 Broadway, with regular performances on Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.

For tickets visit or call 732-229-3166.



Looking for a Job?

The Oceanplace is hiring. They are holding a job fair today!


Oceans of Rhythm Festival returns for 26th year

By Neil Schulman

Long Branch — The 26th Annual Oceans of Rhythm Festival is returning to the city on Saturday, bringing messages of love for nature, traditional African music and dances, house music and more.

Events begin at 2:30 p.m. on the Great Lawn Stage by the oceanfront (or the Broadway Bandshell off Third Avenue in case of rain), features activities from and references to some of the previous 25 Oceans of Rhythm, but each festival brings something new, says Basha Alperi of ZEYBRAH, which puts on the festival with support from the City of Long Branch.

Things start with a call of the drums and procession at 2:30 p.m. The procession has sometimes been held towards the end of the festival, but this time it’s near the beginning, giving people a chance to see what’s going on. Over the years the procession has included stilt walkers representing many traditions — some nations use them as symbols to keep evil spirits away, some more as entertainment — and that’s returning this year. “That’s one of my favorite things,” she said.

It also opens with a “Shellular Chant,” a reference ot some of the early Oceans of Rhythm Festivals, which featured plays telling a mythic history of Long Branch where the sea was contacted with a “shellular phone.” But in this case, it will contain Native American chants blessing the water, sea and sky.

Yakar Roots and Rhythms West African Drum and Dance Company from Senegal once again returns to play, bringing a variety of West African dances with them. The band’s played before, but it’s picked up members since las time, including “some new ones you haven’t heard before,” Alperin says.

One of those is Tenefig Diabate, from National Ballet of Guinea.

Yakar Roots and Rhythms has played spaces such as Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center and the United nations in New York.

“The people we bring from Senagal and Africa are master dancers and drummers,” Aleprin says.

The dancers will also teach dance steps to the crowd. Audience participation, especially for children, is encouraged.

Things then transition to the Long Branch Beach Party, organized by DJ Yum Yum — also known as Lonnie Rawls — now in its 12th year. Alperin said there’s a connection here; house music can trace its roots back to African music.

Alperin said that ZEYBRAH’s worked with DJ Yum Yum before, and “we’re happy to be working with him again.”

There’s an impressive array of DJs and singers here: DJ Jihad Muhammad, a native of Newark, known as “Prince of NJ’s underground dance music scene”; DJ Josh Milan’s, of the famed 80’s and 90’s Motown Records group Blaze, who has worked with many top artists as well as fortifying his own passion for songwriting, transmitting messages of love, passion, peace and positivity; Vocalist, Dawn Tallman, aka “The Queen of Gospel Energy,” has an impressive discography, and has recorded with other well-known music giants; and DJ Scott Smooth has been organizing House Music events for many years in this area.

“A lot of them really reached a wide audience,” Alperin notes. Some have toured internationally.

Alperin says that Oceans of Rhythm is the work of many people, and she’s especially grateful for the support from the city, especially Carl Jennings, Director of the Department of Recreation and Jake Jones, Director of the Office of Community and Economic Development.

“I really want to extend this gratitude,” she said.



E’town seeks new officers, but agreements not in place

By Coleen Burnett

Eatontown — Which comes first? The chicken or the egg? That was the question at the July 24 Eatontown Borough Council meeting.

The query concerns the hiring of Class III officers to patrol the schools starting in September. No one has been hired yet, and the final shared services agreement between the Board of Education and the Eatontown Police Department (along with input from the borough council) hasn’t been given final approval yet, either. This begs the question — do you hire your personnel first, or do you wait until the final agreement is signed?

Class III officers are retired police officers or state troopers who are allowed to patrol schools while armed. Schools around New Jersey, including in surrounding municipalities, have been hiring them as a result of prominent school shootings.

Borough Administrator Cherron Rountree said action must be taken soon.

“Given the importance of this issue and given the particulars of this position, the hiring process is going to take a long time,” she said. Rountree told the council that she would like to start advertising for the positions, given that the hiring process involves such particulars as a background check, drug test, a physical exam and a psychological evaluation. The entire process could take several months.

Councilwoman Jasmine Story was in favor of signing off on the agreement first. Story, who serves as the police liaison on the governing body, said there are ways to shorten the hiring process once the agreement is in place. “The lawyer in me favors doing the agreement first. That’s just how I feel,” she said.

Councilman Al Baginsky felt the same way. “I would want to get the agreement done and then hire somebody and show the agreement,” he said. But he also acknowledged that humans live in a less than perfect world.

Rountree took partial blame for getting to this point. “I did not realize the extensive process it was going to take to get qualified candidates,” she said.

Councilwoman Tonya Rivera said the hirings and the approval of the agreement go hand in hand.

“The clearer we are, the kinder we are — to ourselves, to whoever we hire… I think this program depends on how well the shared services agreement is developed and how the shared services agreement reads helps to guide the process we are looking for.”

In the end, the council gave its blessings to begin advertising for the positions. It is unclear when the governing body will sign off on the shared services agreement, but it is expected to happen sometime in the near future.

Brighton Ave. building work; applying for grants

By Neil Schulman

Long Branch — The city is giving permission for a project on Brighton Avenue to place pilings and support under the city-owned sidewalk.

At the July 23 City Council meeting, council passed a resolution granting 131 Brighton Avenue LLC the right to shore up their foundation with a wall located in the Brighton Avenue right-of-way. In return, the developer of the property, the former West End post office, agrees to indemnify and hold the city harmless for any work done.

The site plans for the new building go right to the sidewalk, so structural work under it is required to keep the building sound.

Long Branch Planning Director Nick Graviano said that the work is underground, and will not be visible from the street. But he said it was a “necessary structural element.”

City Attorney Louis Rainone said that officials wanted to make sure that the developers had permission so it could maintain a claim on the right-of-way. “There’s a concept in the law called adverse possession,” he said.

An example, he said, is if a neighbor builds a fence that’s actually on your property. If this goes on long enough and you don’t challenge it, you lose the land the fence is on. However, if you had given him permission to build the fence there, you maintain the rights.

Graviano said that in the future they’ll be asking any future potential plans that abut the sidewalk to step back a bit.

“As people come in and speak to me about potential projects, I definitely tell them there is a desire to walk the buildings back,” he said.

The space between the two could be used as a streetscape, or for tables for outdoor cafés, he suggested.


City seeks grants

The city is applying for three grants from the NJ Department of Transportation, two in the Transit Village area.

City Admnistrator George Jackson said that the first is for $730,000 of work on the sidealks and roadway on Third Avenue, between Morris Avnue and Lowden Court. The second is $537,000 for similar work along Lowden Court.

Both of these areas are in the transit village area. The goal of the state’s transit village designations is to create pedestrian friendly areas to encourage commuting.

Both of these grants are considered fairly competitive, and the city is not sure they’ll receive them on the first application.

Neither of them requires any match from the city.

The final grant is seeking road improvements, seeking to mill and pave Woodgate Avenue from Park Avenue to the Overlook Avenue bridge. That is for roughly $729,000.



Bookkeeper charged with $673k theft from business

A 30-year employee of an Eatontown-based manufacturing business has been accused for stealing over $600,000 from her employer over a two-year period, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Michelle Pulignano, 51, of Middletown, has been charged with second degree theft following a three-month investigation. If convicted of the offense, Pulignano faces up to 10 years in a New Jersey state prison.

The charges stem from a joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Eatontown Police Department sparked by a referral from the owner of an Eatontown-based manufacturing business on May 1, 2017, regarding a suspected employee theft.

Prosecutors say the investigation revealed that between April 1, 2017 and April 17, 2019, Pulignano, who was employed as a bookkeeper at an Eatontown-based manufacturing business for the past 30 years, awarded herself unauthorized salary increases and personal bonuses in the amount of $223,846.00. In addition, during the same time period, she wrote checks to herself in the amount of $450,000 from the company’s payroll account without authorization. The investigation determined she used the funds for her own personal benefit.

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.


Equality bill to fix wage gap becomes law

Ocean Township — On Thursday, July 25, New Jersey came one step closer to ending the gender wage gap after new employee protections introduced by Assemblywoman Joann Downey and Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling were signed into law.

The bill had been part of their campaign platform.

Downey and Houghtaling are the prime sponsors of bill A-1094, an ambitious workplace reform that would remove questions of salary history from the job application process entirely. Too often, a salary offer from a new employer can be determined by an applicant’s prior salary, rather than their experience or skills.

When a female job seeker is forced to disclose her salary history in the course of applying for work, that number will likely be lower than a male counterpart’s, pushing the employer to offer a lower wage.

“The gender wage gap can drag down anyone’s earnings, even if their employer doesn’t mean to discriminate at all,” said Downey (D-Freehold). “A single underpaying job can set a worker back permanently, draining thousands or even millions of dollars from potential paychecks in other positions. Nobody should be paid less than they’re worth, and as the mother of two young girls, I want to make sure that they’re paid for the value of their work – and not a cent less. With this new law, we’re one step closer to making sure that if you work hard in New Jersey, you’ve earned a fair paycheck.”

With this new law, the two lawmakers hope to continue helping working families by fighting back against unfairness in the workplace. According to recent studies, women working full time, year-round, earn on average $10,800 less per year than a man. In the aggregate, women are paid less than 80 cents for every dollar a man makes, a disparity that can add up to nearly half a million dollars over the course of a career.

“By retirement, wage discrimination can cost a woman hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Houghtaling (D-Neptune). “This gap may be wide enough that she may never reach the same rung on the salary ladder as her male equal. That’s a lifetime of unfairness and harm done to her family, her children, and even retirement income like Social Security or a pension.”

“Equal pay is vital for hardworking families in New Jersey, many of which increasingly rely on women’s earnings to make ends meet,” said Downey. “When women bring home a larger paycheck, it can help families across our state pay for everyday expenses like groceries, rent, and childcare. With this new law, we can put an end to a generations-long cycle of pay inequity, and help every person get the salary they deserve.”

Notably, the law includes a powerful enforcement measure, imposing hefty fines under the Law Against Discrimination up to $50,000 for violations of its provisions. Any employer who violates the bill’s provisions would be liable for a civil penalty up to $1,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for the second, and $10,000 for each subsequent violation. However, if the applicant is a member of a protected class defined by the Equal Pay Law – including women – an employer would also be liable to fines up to $10,000 for the first violation, $25,000 for the second violation, and $50,000 for each subsequent violation.