Enjoy pizza with the prosecutor in WLB

West Long Branch — Do you have a question for Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni or local law enforcement? You’ll have a chance to ask your questions and also have a slice of pizza on May 30, announced Prosecutor Gramiccioni.

The Pizza with the Prosecutor and a Cop event will be held at Café Villa Pizza, 310 Route 36,  and will include Prosecutor Gramiccioni, MCPO Chief of Detectives Michael Pasterchick, Jr., and officers from area police departments.

Prosecutor Gramiccioni said he has seen the success of the Coffee with a Prosecutor and Cop events that have been recently sponsored through the MCPO and he decided to add this event to bring law enforcement and community members together to discuss issues and get to know more about each other.

“These events open doors for community engagement outside of emergency situations that are usually the reason law enforcement and community members are brought together. Keeping with the spirit of community policing, events like these have successfully contributed to establishing trust between the community and law enforcement. The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office looks to have a role in bridging those gaps,” Gramiccioni said.

Theater Review: & Juliet full of fascinating intrigue and drama

By Madeline Schulman

Long Branch — Robert Caisley, the author of “& Juliet,” having its world premiere at NJ Rep, probably knows all about University Drama Departments, as well as what makes compelling drama. I hope that real life Drama Departments are not as full of dispute, intrigue, and violent anger bubbling below the surface as the one at the unnamed University at which the play is set. However, we can all agree that drama can’t exist without conflict, and the three characters in & Juliet have plenty of that.

Jacob A. Ware and Nadia Brown in & Juliet at NJ Rep. (SuzAnne Barabas photo )

Charlie (Jacob A. Ware), David (John FitzGibbon), and Annie (Nadia Brown) all want something very badly.

Charlie wants to do well as the new Drama Department member with his radical production of Romeo and Juliet. David wants the direction of the play handed back to him. He has worked at the University for thirty years, and does not like being shoved aside for a whippersnapper with no doctorate. Both men want the beautiful corner office with the spectacular view of the campus which Charlie has been awarded.

David assures Charlie, in a honeyed purr (and I have never heard a more honeyed purr than Mr. FitzGibbon’s), that he is fine with Charlie occupying the office, but David also keeps paraphrasing Teyve, singing “If I Were a Jealous Man.”

Nobody wants anything as badly as Annie wants to play Juliet. Already a senior, she has never advanced beyond maids and spear carriers, and she is not to be fobbed off with offers to paint scenery or be Assistant Director (which she sees as a glorified gofer). David, with whom she is suspiciously close, seems to have promised her the part (why else would she be so certain it is hers, since several other girls would certainly be lined up for it?).

Charlie has other ideas. Annie does not fit his idea of Juliet. He is not rejecting her because of her race, which is black, but because of her gender. His radical idea is to stage Shakespeare with all male actors, as in Elizabethan times, and he has chosen a fourteen year old high school boy for Juliet. The part is spoken for, in spite of Annie’s frantic assertion that auditions aren’t until Sunday.

Neither David nor Annie care for Charlie’s scheme. The school is in a small, conservative town, and the sight of two boys kissing as Romeo and Juliet will not be greeted well.

When it is clear that not everyone can get what he or she wants, matters deteriorate. Unwise text messages are sent, even more unwise secrets are confided, and dangerously sharp weapons are brandished.

Nadia Brown is full of passionate intensity, and nicely delineates Annie as herself and Annie as Juliet. Her male co-stars are equally good.

Jessica Parks’s ingenious set looks at first like the back of a plain wooden box marked Romeo & Juliet (a set within a set), but swivels to reveal the beautiful contested corner office.

To sum up, people quietly resolving their differences is good in real life, but people arguing, fighting and maneuvering makes for exciting theater.

As for lessons learned, guard your e-mail password, don’t keep sharp knives in your office, and if you want to put on an all-male production of Shakespeare, know your audience.

& Juliet runs through June 4 at NJ Rep, 179 Broadway, Long Branch. Performances are Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at njrep.org or by calling 732-229-3166.

Ocean Ave to open up for beach access

Long Branch Council announced that they are to open Ocean Ave, running from Brighton to West End Ave. for easier access to the beach.

The street will be one way going north. For more information read the whole story in The LINK News coming out this  Thursday.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month: ‘Sweet Tea’ looks at effects of mental illness on families

By Neil Schulman

On Thanksgiving in 1984, Olivia’s mother cooks an elaborate turkey dinner for her three children, but instead of serving it she buries the meal in the backyard, because she believes the turkey must be offered to atone for their sins.

Wendy Lynn Decker

Soon afterwards, though the family lives in a trailer park, she shows up with elaborate fur coats for herself and her two daughters. A co-worker had loaned her money to fix her car, and Mama somehow decided that meant buy some furs.

 

Thus begins Sweet Tea, a young adult novel by local author Wendy Lynn Decker.

While her relatives say she’s eccentric, nobody realizes, or is willing to admit, that Mama has schizophrenia. And Olivia tries to navigate having a regular teenage life with looking after her increasingly unpredictable mother, who hasn’t been the same since her father died on the same day John Lennon was assassinated.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and Decker wanted to talk about her book, which she wrote inspired by her own experiences. Her own mother has schizoaffective disorder, a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

“Having a mentally ill parent is difficult when you’re a kid and don’t understand it,” she said.

In the time Sweet Tea is set, and when Decker was growing up, there were far fewer resources around than there are nowadays.

Today, in addition to her work as an author and publisher, she frequently gives talks about mental illness and the issues around it.

“I want to bring awareness. There needs to be someone to make a change, and create facilities,” she said.

Over the last couple of decades, many of the facilities that treated the mentally ill have shut down. While admittedly many were closed because they were poorly managed, Decker says that many suffering from mental illness now wind up either “in prison or homeless.”

Even when someone is placed somewhere, it’s not necessarily the right placement. That’s the case with Decker’s mother.

“My mother is in an Alzheimer’s home. She’s 71 and she doesn’t have Alzheimer’s. She thinks she’s fine,” Decker said.

The treatment for Alzheimer patients is very different than that for people diagnosed with schizophrenia or other disorders.

Sometimes mental illness needs to be treated differently than other illnesses. Decker says that she’s repeatedly run into trouble due to HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. That law is designed to protect patient privacy, and it’s keeping her from getting access to her mother’s medical records, or from her mother’s doctors discussing their treatments with her.

“As the oldest child in the family, I had to learn” about mental illness, Decker said. “I really was a part of (mother’s treatment) before the HIPAA laws. I was able to help her along every day.”

“The system did fail my mother, and the system fails many.”

She knows many people who are looking at it from the other end. Parents of teenagers with mental illness worry about the fact they’ll lose access to the records when their child turns 18.

While Olivia’s story is based on Decker’s own, she didn’t want to make the book biographical. Decker grew up in New Jersey, but she set the book in the Georgia. While doing research for it, she spoke with area nurses who had worked on mental wards at hospitals there. She found the stories familiar.

“It’s the same everywhere,” she said.

More information on Sweet Tea can be found on Decker’s website, www.wendylynndeckerauthor.­com.

Decker has gone around New Jersey discussing mental illness. If interested in booking her, you can contact Jerry Spathis of Spathis Management and Entertainment, 732-710-1370 or YellowJerrySpathis@aol.com.

The field of writing can be a difficult and discouraging one, but it’s worth it, Wendy Lynn Decker says. Part of the reason she’s started her own publishing label, Serenity, is to encourage authors.

“13 Reasons Why,” a hit on Netflix which looks at teen suicide and has been getting a lot of attention due to opening discussions about a sensitive issue, is based on a novel by Jay Asher. A novel that almost never existed.

Several years ago, Decker and Asher were both associated with a group of writers.

“I was on the board when Jay Asher said, ‘I quit writing,’” Decker recalls. Shortly after that though, a publisher accepted his work, and Asher went on to have a bestseller with the young adult novel.

“It’s encouraging to all of the writers,” she said.

Decker also struggled to get Sweet Tea published, piling up rejections. It finally went to acquisition – when an author is offered a contract – but that fell through.

“I quit for a couple of years, and got encouraged to publish it for myself,” Decker recalled.

And soon after that, a publisher, Booktrope, decided they would pick it up and publicize it under their label Vox Dei, which specialized in Christian works. Decker says that the protagonist is Christian, though she considers this a book for everyone.

Sadly, after helping to provide publicity and support, Vox Dei and Booktrope closed. Fortunately, she maintained the rights and could get it back in print.

Now with her own publishing label, she works to “reach out to those who want to have a book because it’s something they desire,” said Decker. “It’s very, very difficult to get published.”

She currently represents about 10 books.

Decker continues to write. In addition to Sweet Tea, she’s also written The Bedazzling Bowl. She’s published several anthologies with other authors.

She recently obtained her Masters in Creative Writing from Wilkes University, and is working on a couple of manuscripts.

Publishing company helps encourage authors

The field of writing can be a difficult and discouraging one, but it’s worth it, Wendy Lynn Decker says. Part of the reason she’s started her own publishing label, Serenity, is to encourage authors.

“13 Reasons Why,” a hit on Netflix which looks at teen suicide and has been getting a lot of attention due to opening discussions about a sensitive issue, is based on a novel by Jay Asher. A novel that almost never existed.

Several years ago, Decker and Asher were both associated with a group of writers.

“I was on the board when Jay Asher said, ‘I quit writing,’” Decker recalls. Shortly after that though, a publisher accepted his work, and Asher went on to have a bestseller with the young adult novel.

“It’s encouraging to all of the writers,” she said.

Decker also struggled to get Sweet Tea published, piling up rejections. It finally went to acquisition – when an author is offered a contract – but that fell through.

“I quit for a couple of years, and got encouraged to publish it for myself,” Decker recalled.

And soon after that, a publisher, Booktrope, decided they would pick it up and publicize it under their label Vox Dei, which specialized in Christian works. Decker says that the protagonist is Christian, though she considers this a book for everyone.

Sadly, after helping to provide publicity and support, Vox Dei and Booktrope closed. Fortunately, she maintained the rights and could get it back in print.

Now with her own publishing label, she works to “reach out to those who want to have a book because it’s something they desire,” said Decker. “It’s very, very difficult to get published.”

She currently represents about 10 books.

Decker continues to write. In addition to Sweet Tea, she’s also written The Bedazzling Bowl. She’s published several anthologies with other authors.

She recently obtained her Masters in Creative Writing from Wilkes University, and is working on a couple of manuscripts.

 

‘Weekend in Old Monmouth’ guide, map, and story map available

The annual “Weekend in Old Monmouth” event returns the first weekend in May with 48 historic sites throughout Monmouth County opening their doors to visitors all at the same time.  The tour book and map as well as a link to the story map are now available at VisitMonmouth.com
“Weekend in Old Monmouth is a wonderful event for anyone interested in history and architecture,” said Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the County’s Historical Commission, which is the sponsor of the weekend event. “History buffs can travel by foot, bicycle or car to enjoy and experience many of the county’s rich historic places all in one weekend.”

The 2017 tour has gone hi-tech to enable history enthusiasts with an internet connection and home computer or smartphone to take an e-tour of the sites. Through an online Story Map

Tour, each tour site is presented as a “story point” on an interactive map. Interested tour-takers may visit several points on the story map to learn about a tour route. Clicking-on an individual story point will reveal more about a story point.

The sites on the tour are generally operated independently. In addition to the waived fees, the hours of operation are all the same for the two days. Hours for most sites are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 6 and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 7. Tour visitors can see the places in any order and pick up the tour book and map at their first stop.

Three tour sites are new: the Crawford House (c. early 1800s) in Tinton Falls, the Spring Lake Historical Society Museum in Spring Lake and the Stephen Crane House (c. 1878) in Asbury Park.

Highlights of the tour include Victorian homes, churches, lighthouses, museums, agriculture, industry, education and science. Each site contributes to the importance of preservation and history throughout Monmouth County. The tours also represent several historic themes:

Shore: While the tour includes sites on the north, (Twin Lights and Seabrook Wilson House), central (Ocean Grove) and southern shores, (National Guard Militia Museum) the drive along the shore is one of the best ways to feel and appreciate Monmouth County’s relationship to the Atlantic Ocean.

Faith: Architectural gems of each of the last three centuries, 18th century Christ Church in Shrewsbury, 19th century All Saints Memorial in Middletown and 20th century St. Catharine’s in Spring Lake. In addition, Old Tennent Church in Manalapan is closely tied to the Battle of Monmouth and the Friends Meeting House in Shrewsbury represents one of the oldest worship traditions in Monmouth County.

The Revolutionary War: The Revolution is visited here, not only the major sites in the Monmouth Battlefield area, but in lesser known places such as the Burrowes Mansion in Matawan, Marlpit Hall and the Murray Farm, both in Middletown.

Military: There is the National Historic Landmark Monmouth Battlefield in Manalapan and one of the more fascinating, but lesser known museums, the New Jersey National Guard Militia Museum in Sea Girt with museum exhibits and fighter aircraft and tanks.

The County supports the preservation movement annually by awarding grants to historic sites.  Many of the tour locations have received monies in the past.

The annual Weekend in Old Monmouth tour is coordinated by the Monmouth County Historical Commission (Historical Commission). The Historical Commission is dedicated to the preservation of the County’s rich historic heritage. As advocates for the preservation of historic properties, sites and projects, the Commission encourages citizens to be involved as well.
Link area sites on the tour include:

Clean-Up Day in Eatontown

By Coleen Burnett
Eatontown residents once again rolled up their sleeves and got their hands dirty on April 23.
That was the date of the town’s Clean-Up Day, an annual event

Candace Faust, Donna Baginsky, Councilman Al Baginsky, and Cleanup Co-Chairs Joel and Barbara Stark.

where denizens meet up, get their hands on equipment such as  garbage bags, gloves, shovels, rakes and long-handled grabbers, and are sent out to make the borough a little bit cleaner.

There were about 75 people registered for the four-hour event.  Groups were seen all over town, from the Eatontown Museum on Broad Street (where they cleared brush in the Museum’s backyard) to Locust Cemetery on South Street (where the Mingo Jack Society picked up garbage, a tree limb, and other debris).

Mayor Dennis Connelly signing up to do his part

When the work was done, everyone was invited for pizza and soda at the borough’s senior center.

 

 

 

New officer, promotion in WLB

By Neil Schulman
West Long Branch — The West Long Branch Police Department welcomed a new patrol officer and promoted another at the April 19 Borough Council meeting.

Brian Burton, who was promoted to sergeant is shown with his family.

Timothy Hanrahan is sworn in as West Long Branch’s newest officer.

Chief Paul Haberman introduced Timothy Hanrahan, who was sworn in as the borough’s newest patrolman, and Brian Burton, who was promoted to sergeant.

Hanrahan, originally from Staten Island before moving to Tinton Falls, graduated Monmouth Regional High School before earning his bachelor’s degree in North Carolina.

He served as a special officer in Point Pleasant before joining the Evesham Police Department.

He has been involved in many community youth activities.
Haberman said Hanrahan is happy to be serving here.

“Growing up in Monmouth County, he appreciates what the community has to offer,” the chief said.

Burton began his police career in 2005 working part time in Belmar, before becoming a full time patrolman in Oceanport, then joining the West Long Branch Police Department in 2007.

He has served the department in many capacities, most recently in the detective bureau.

Burton, past president of the local PBA, has a master’s degree from Farleigh Dickinson University and is pursuing his doctorate.

He has received numerous awards and commendations while working for West Long Branch, including Meritorious Service Awards, the NJ DWI Top Gun Award, and has been recognized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Marathon on Sunday brings crowds, road closings

By Neil Schulman
The New Jersey Marathon and Half Marathon arrive this weekend, bringing thousands of runners, sizeable crowds to cheer them on, and some traffic issues.

On Sunday, roads around the area in Oceanport, Monmouth Beach and Long Branch, as well as Deal, Asbury Park and Ocean Grove, will be closed temporarily as the runners pass.

Police are advising residents to plan accordingly.

The races, presented by Novo Nordisk, are actually part of a three-day weekend of activities, beginning with a Health and Fitness Expo at Monmouth Park Racetrack on Fri., April 28, from 1-7 p.m. It will continue on Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Saturday brings some family activities to the Long Branch oceanfront, along the Promenade and Great Lawn. The  RWJBarnabas Health Family Festival begins at 8 a.m., and a series of kids fun races for various ages will be held all morning.

But the main events will be on Sunday, when the New Jersey Marathon, Half Marathon and Relay races begin from Monmouth Park at 7:30 a.m. Last year 11,000 runners took part.

The marathon will begin in Oceanport, and head through Monmouth Beach, then Long Branch, Deal, Asbury Park and Ocean Grove, before looping around and finishing on the Long Branch Promenade.

Road closures in Oceanport will begin at 7 a.m.

In Oceanport, police have announced that they expect all roadways closed for runners to reopen by 9:30 a.m. as the races move west to east starting at Oceanport Ave. and Crescent Place, though some will open much earlier.
Cars cannot be on the roads when they’re closed, and any vehicles that are on the road the morning before the race starts will be towed. Residents who know they will need to get somewhere during this time are asked to park on a nearby street. Police say Oceanport residents who reside from Myrtle Avenue and points west can travel out of town via Bridgewater’s Drive to Oceanport Ave/Main St. Residents who reside east of Branchport Ave and south of Monmouth Blvd., can travel out of Oceanport via the Branchport Creek Bridge into Long Branch.

Those who must get out for emergency reasons are asked to contact the police department.

Local road closings
Sections of the following roads will be temporarily closed as  runners pass by:
Oceanport
Oceanport Ave.
Crescent Place.
Eatontown Blvd.
Wolfhill Ave.
Pemberton Ave.
Oceanport Ave.
Port au Peck
Myrtle Ave.
Monmouth Blvd.
Port au Peck
Pocano Ave.
Comanche Dr.

All roads are expected to reopen by 9:30 a.m. Oceanport Ave. from the Main Gate of the Racetrack to Port au Peck Ave. will remain closed until 5 p.m.

Monmouth Beach
Patten Ave.
Wesley St.
Tocci Ave.
Griffin St.
Riverdale Ave.
All roads are expected to reopen by 10 a.m.
Long Branch
The race will be on parts of the following roads:
Monmouth Blvd.
Patten Ave.
Columbia Ave.
Church St.
Atlantic Ave.
MacArthur Ave.
Avenel Ave.
Long Branch Ave.
S. Broadway
Broadway
Third Ave.
Westwood Ave.
Franklin Ave.
Second Ave.
West End Ave.
Ocean Blvd.
Ocean Ave.*

Roads marked with a *, near the finish line, are expected to be closed until 2:30 p.m. Other roads are expected to reopen by 11 a.m., with some clearing as early as 9:45.

Spectators welcome

While people are encouraged to cheer the runners on all along the course, there are several Long Branch spots the race organizers recommend.
Those include the finish area on the Long Branch promenade; the end of Broadway; Pier Village (which is shortly before the conclusion of both the Marathon and Half Marathon); and the corner of Ocean and Brighton Aves. in West End.

Due to security concerns, those watching from the start and finish areas are not allowed backpacks, purses, diaper bags, etc.

Spectators are encouraged to cheer runners on, though experts say that if you are near the finish line it is considered bad form to yell “almost there!”
Maps and more information can be found at www.thenewjerseymarathon.com.

More than 5,000 shoppers at ‘Made in Monmouth’

West Long Branch — The sixth annual Made In Monmouth expo was a colossal success for 260 vendors who displayed and sold their locally-made products to thousands of shoppers at the OceanFirst Bank Center at Monmouth University on Saturday, April 8.

At the Made in Monmouth event were Freeholder Serena DiMaso, Deputy Director John P. Curley, Director Lillian G. Burry and Monmouth University President Grey J. Dimenna.

“An enormous thank you to the more than 5,000 shoppers who sampled and purchased quality goods and products from Monmouth County vendors and business,” said Freeholder Thomas A. Arnone, liaison to the County’s Division of Economic Development. “Made in Monmouth continues to grow in vendors offerings and shopping participation. The number of merchants has increased because we continue to use all the floor space available to give vendors a chance to participate. Everyone enjoyed the day whether they were buying or selling.”

Products showcased at the expo included jewelry, furniture, flowers, wine, natural foods, books, handmade glass, cosmetics, flags, chocolates, tea, woodwork and much more.

“This event is a chance to promote our local economy which gives businesses the incentive to keep expanding and creating jobs,” explained Arnone.

“’Made in Monmouth’ is a perfect setting that builds awareness of the excellent products offered by companies in our County.”

“If you are interested in shopping locally, be sure to download the MIM directory,” said Arnone. “All of the vendors are listed along with product descriptions, photos and contact information.”

The link to the directory is co.monmouth.nj.us/page.aspx?ID=3979.

Made in Monmouth is organized by the Grow Monmouth team within the County’s Division of Economic Development. Grow Monmouth officials meet regularly with business, civic and government leaders to provide state-of-the-art information services. It has become a major public-private project to create and preserve jobs in Monmouth County.