A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

News Updates as of 31 October 2009

  • I returned from vacation to find my yard buried in fallen leaves. The giant oaks in our yard are nearly bare. My neighbor John said heavy rains brought down the leaves this week. He's reluctant to check his gutters because he'll just have to get out his ladder and gloves and get to work. Both of us will be pulling out our rakes this weekend. The leaf pickup schedule for November is embedded in the Township calendar. This week's leaf collection focuses on Cliffwood Beach, Heather Glen, Santa Fe, and Strathmore Sections A, D, F, N, and O.
  • The Aberdeen Township Planning Board, which includes most of the Democratic candidates for Council, has invoked belated intentions to review the need for redevelopment of an industrial site at the train station, based on an article in this week's Independent. There are so many caveats to this underwhelming gesture that I wonder, beyond the upcoming election, why it merited a news release and press coverage. Redevelopment is years away if toxic waste must be removed, so nothing is happening soon, if at all. The township manager's statement - We want to have the site cleaned up for the purpose of the public - is beyond interpretation. Actually, this news piece is only the latest example of why we need a more vigorous local media instead of overly obliging local papers that simply publish what they are told.
  • In a recent article for the Maplewood blog at the NY Times website, Alison Greene talks about her travails at beginning an exercise program at the YMCA in Summit. She tried in vain at several malls to locate a swim cap out of season. Exasperated, she asked the clerk at EMS in Somerville plaza for help. Our chamber of commerce would be pleased with his response. The helpful young man told me that I could go to a specialty store in Mahwah, Manalapan, Matawan or one of those other non-Essex county “M” towns where I was not about to venture for a cheap piece of latex.
  • The kids started their Halloween visits at 1 pm today. There was a rush until about 3 pm or so and it's been quiet since then. I think I spent $40 on candy. The Township curfew begins at 8:30 pm.
  • APP published an article this week about the Matawan candidates for two borough council seats. Incumbent Bud Mullaney, a local business owner, and Richard Paolini, a bank executive and attorney, are the Democrats running against Republicans Andrew Lopez, Jr, a retired insurance agent, and Tony Angelini, a social worker. 
    • Like APP's article about the Aberdeen candidates, this unsourced composite piece evidently consists of the results of requests of the candidates for information. It's unclear whether the article contains any original research or information derived from personal interviews. While something of a public service, this sort of article provides little insight into the candidates and is highly biased in favor of the candidates' spin on reality. 
    • The article suggests that all the candidates are going to cut your taxes and spend tax receipts very carefully. It would be nice to know what they plan to do with downtown and the train station, whether they support the library and local business. 
    • I would be interested to see who supports the nonsense that came up earlier this year besmirching local business owners like Mr Mullaney who do business with the Borough and serve on the Council. Seems to me that adequate ethics standards and public participation in the political process will keep most council members on the straight and narrow and bring violators to the fore. Responsible business leaders bring a valuable perspective to local government.
    • Matawan Advocate challenges the Borough Council's decision to shorten town hall's hours when a major condominium project was just beginning. He also urges renewed use of a CPA firm instead of the Borough auditor to avoid insider abuse and waste.
  • Violence and vandalism are down markedly at Matawan Regional High School, per the Independent. If you pay school taxes here you have a vested interest in this issue. You'll want to read this detailed article, which is substantially an annual progress report to the community from the superintendent and high school principal.
  • In football, MRHS Huskies defeated Long Branch 17-16 earlier today, according to Gridiron New Jersey. The Independent gave a rundown on the Central Jersey postseason contest earlier this week.
  • NJSIAA has scheduled its tournament play. APP has a lengthy article about the contests, which begin in two weeks.
    • Girls: 13th seeded MRHS Huskies are paired with 4th seeded Summit in Central Jersey Group 2 girls soccer, per Philly.com. See also the NJ state tournament preview at NJ.com's girls soccer blog.
    • Boys: 16th seeded MRHS Huskies squeezed into tournament play paired with top seeded Raritan in Central Jersey Group 2 boys soccer, per Philly.com.
  • If you're a new resident in Aberdeen, you'll want to familiarize yourself with the Township's parking rules related to snow removal. You'll also want to check out Advice for Property Owners and sign up for Aberdeen Web News.
  • Pacific Health Laboratories, Inc, a local sports nutrition company, experienced 9% growth in revenues in the third quarter 2009, according to a company press release published by Reuters. It lost a penny a share because it is carrying restructuring costs from last year. The business's growth offers promise that the company will turn a healthy profit when those expenses end and the economic climate improves.
  • Did anyone see Independent candidate for lieutenant governor Frank Esposito yesterday at Aberdeen-Matawan train station during the evening rush? A campaign stop was scheduled. Impressions?
  • Bass fishing at Cliffwood Beach discussed at SILive.com. Chris from Crabby’s Bait and Tackle, Keyport, says striped bass fishing improved with fish to 22-pounds landed at Sandy Hook Channel on eels. Eels also produced bass to 24-pounds around the Hook and at Flynn’s Knoll. Birds were seen working peanut bunker and sand eel bait from Keyport to Sandy Hook with a mix of bass and blues schooled underneath. Beach anglers have also done well landing bass to 19 pounds at Cliffwood Beach and Union Beach which also produced a 47-pound drum. Bottom fishing served up red-hot catches of blackfish, sea bass and porgies on area rock piles and at the Sandy Hook Reef.
  • Matawan's Tom Biro is leaving MTV to manage the new Seattle office of a public relations firm, per APP. PRWeek, which hosts a by-subscription-only blog by Biro, has a more detailed rundown on Biro's move to the west coast.
  • I just discovered an ad for a Matawan First Aid Squad flea market fundraiser that was held today. Next time advertise in advance or write me directly as 5:30am on the day of the event is a bit late for me to promote your event.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Vacation in the Berkshires

My wife and I left Aberdeen on Friday morning and spent the week in western Massachusetts. We met in Northampton to visit our daughter at Smith College, which was having its annual Family Weekend. My wife's parents met us in Northampton and joined us on our vacation. We stayed at the Hotel Northampton, ate dinner at Mama Iguana's and had breakfast at Sylvester's. It was raining for most of our visit, so we spent much of our time at the Campus Center and Haven/Wesley.  We had a wonderful walk through Smith's botanical garden and toured the 2nd Annual International Photo Exhibit.

We left Saturday afternoon for Hancock, where we stayed at Wyndham Bentley Brook resort. It's mainly a ski resort, but there was no snow while we were there. It has an indoor-outdoor pool and plenty of lounges for relaxing by the fireplace. Our room had a full kitchen, dining area, and living room. My wife and I had a king-sized bed, jacuzzi, and private bath, while the in-laws had two queen-sized beds. Each room had its own tv. We got ourselves unpacked and went over to John Harvard's Brew House for a late lunch of burgers and fries. We watched the American League Championship Series later that evening between the Yankees and the Angels.

On Sunday we had breakfast at Bob's Country Kitchen in nearby Lanesborough. Seating was tight but prices were great. The place was obviously popular with both locals and visitors alike. We ventured into downtown Pittsfield, but it was Sunday and most of the shops were closed. We found a grocery store and picked up food for meals to be prepared at the resort. We had pork chops and potatoes for dinner. I ventured out to find dessert just south of Stephentown in nearby New York State. We watched the last game of the ALCS. Go, Yankees!

We got a late start on the day on Monday and missed the operating hours of the Hancock Shaker Village. The tour is extensive, so you'll want to allow half a day or so to see the whole place. We dropped into Chapters Book Store in downtown Pittsfield and picked up a few books, then dropped in at Walmart for some staples for making meals in our room back at the resort. We had dinner salads at Bennigan's in Lanesborough, then returned to the resort.

A note: Downtown Pittsfield is heavily featured on the local tourism maps, but as of this writing many of its shops and attractions are closed due to the horrible economic climate. With 40% of the local economy  made up of non-profits, the tax ratables must be dreadfully low. I recommend calling ahead to make sure any particular restaurant or hotel is still open and that museum hours remain the same as in your brochures. Cut backs and closings are everywhere.

We ventured out to Bennington, Vermont on Tuesday. We toured the Bennington Museum, which houses a fine collection of art by Grandma Moses, as well as various artifacts of history and culture from the region. I particularly enjoyed a painting called Preaching in Old First Church by William Tefft Schwartz (1939), which depicts Lemuel Haynes, an influential African-American minister, preaching to the First Congregational Church of Bennington in the early 19th century.

We stopped at the Old First Church's graveyard, which is adjacent to the museum, and saw Robert Frost's grave. We had a fine lunch at Izabella's Eatery in downtown Bennington.

Wednesday was a lazy, rainy day. We found a local Friendly's and spent a leisurely time wandering the shelves of a Barnes and Noble. Our daughter came up from Northampton to overnight with us at the Wyndham resort. We returned to John Harvard's Brew House for dinner. My daughter and I tried their beer sampler. We caught part of Game One of the World Series at the bar and finished up the game back at our room at the resort.

We returned to Country Bob's for breakfast and conversation on Thursday morning. Our daughter headed back to Smith and we left for Stockbridge to visit the Norman Rockwell Museum. We spent several hours there with many of his original works and learned ever so much. I highly recommend stopping in for a few hours. A docent gave us a fifteen minute survey of Rockwell's story and art and answered many of our questions. There was a looping video that told his biography. Galleries showed his paintings upstairs and a whole gallery downstairs showed off his 300+ Saturday Evening Post covers. Rockwell's Four Freedoms rightfully had their own dedicated gallery. I especially liked his painting of a dejected boxer slumped in his corner of the ring and his outraged golddigger girlfriend standing at ringside shouting for him to get up to fight and win the evening's purse (or else). I've included a copy of his painting of an elderly lady saying grace over a diner meal in New York City. On the way back to the resort we stopped briefly in downtown Stockbridge then headed down Route 7 to Pittsfield, where we stopped at the Crown Plaza Berkshires Hotel and ate a wonderful yet surprisingly affordable lunch at its One West restaurant.

There is a very nice book on the area called Along Route 7, A Western New England Journey, by Stephen G. Donaldson. We perused the book at Barnes and Noble and found many highly representative photographs of the area. It would make a wonderful coffee table book. You can buy it used online at B&N for under $30, btw.

It will be nice to get back home in our own bed, but we've had a great visit to the north. I guess I'm almost ready to face the commute again when it rears its ugly head on Monday morning.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

News Updates as of 28 October 2009

  • A Matawan man was arrested for a burglary in Manalapan, according to GM News.
  • Chowhound readers offer their choices of local places to eat.
  • B Green Innovations is expanding its sales of Vibe Away into western markets.
  • Scanning the Scene looks at regional high school football. Look for Matawan in Central Jersey Group 2. 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Particularly Low? Or Just What You'd Expect?

By some remarkable coincidence, the Monmouth County Health Department has been invited by Aberdeen Township to give a brief presentation on the H1N1 virus at the high school on the very evening that the Republicans are hosting their Meet the Candidates gathering at the public library. And the Township's press release announcing this conflicting event was distributed less than 24 hours after the Republicans sent out their press release inviting citizens to their coffee and discussion event at the library.

Funny there are no press releases from the health department indicating any sort of initiative to deliver local community briefings. Not that more information wouldn't be helpful, but the county health department website has more than adequate information available to the public, as does Flu.gov.

Incumbency is a definite advantage in any election, but the Democrats seem to be stooping particularly low here, abusing their position. No debates and now no Meet the Candidates? Maybe you don't see it? Are your expectations of politicians so low that this doesn't seem to be egregious behavior?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Spotlight Players to Present Pajama Game in mid-November

Spotlight Players will be presenting The Pajama Game at the First Presbyterian Church of Matawan, Route 34 at Franklin Street, on the two weekends leading up to Thanksgiving (14-15 Nov and 20-21-22 Nov). There will be 3 pm showings on each date, plus an 8 pm showing on Fri and Sat nites. For reservations and information call 732-583-7874. Popular songs from the 1957 movie can be viewed below.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Aberdeen Police to Get Hi-Tech Imaging Device

City Connections reports that the Aberdeen Police have received a grant from the Department of Homeland Security to buy a thermal imaging camera that will help officers with situational awareness by augmenting the visibility of suspects at night through the detection of their heat signatures. Check out this model.

Aberdeen Republicans Schedule Meet and Greet

According to a press release I just received, the Aberdeen Republicans will be hosting a "Meet the Candidates Night" at the Matawan-Aberdeen Library on Wednesday 28 October from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Mayoral candidate Tom Aljian and Council candidates Anthony Garaguso, Sheilah Balavram, and Michael Vail will be on hand to take questions and participate in an open discussion. With hopes fading for a debate with the Democratic ticket, the Republicans are making themselves available in one more public forum to make sure residents have a chance to hear and discuss the issues. Mr Aljian said, "I hope this will be an opportunity for our candidates to hear from the residents and for the residents to learn about the vision we have for the future of Aberdeen." Coffee and refreshments will be served.

Flu Shots in Aberdeen

If you still haven't gotten your seasonal flu shot yet, time may be running out. Resources are being redirected to the production of swine flu serum. Maxim Health Systems offers a website for finding a local spot to get your flu shot. They suggest visiting ShopRite on Lloyd Road this evening between 4 pm and 8pm. We called and confirmed that seasonal flu shots are being given at ShopRite this afternoon/evening for $30. CVS on Morristown Road near GSP Exit 120 will have a H1N1 seasonal flu shot clinic this Saturday.

No one in the area seems to have swine flu shots because production is only starting to trickle in. By later this week things should be hopping. 

For further information and other flu shot locators, try the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services website.

News Updates as of 20 October 2009

  • The Vice President of Lynwood Insurance Associates on Cambridge Drive in Matawan recently wed, per SILive.
  • Newlyweds from the Middletown-Lincroft area held their reception at The Addison Park in Aberdeen and plan to live in Matawan, per SILive.
  • APP reported that fire damaged a Matawan home on Monday at 322 Main Street, which is south of the Route 34 light. Cat World focused on the loss of a pet cat, the only one to perish in the fire.

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Hazards of Night Life

We had a rather dangerous ride home from Court Jester last evening. On Atlantic near CVS, a deer crossed our path. And on Route 35 North around Keyport, after the merge at Town and Country, we saw the red and blue lights of a police car approaching on the other side of the highway from down towards A&P. As we got closer to the bridge past Knights of Columbus and before Wendy's, the police officer started shining his/her mounted search light right into our eyes. As we tried to figure out what the cop was doing, we were suddenly passed on the left by a car on OUR SIDE OF THE HIGHWAY. Apparently the cop had been trying to alert us to dangerous oncoming traffic, which was admirable, but we might have had a better chance of spotting the vehicle if we hadn't been so distracted by his/her actions.

Actually, the hazards began with getting our bill at Court Jester. We were there for the Monday evening wings and tacos special, but we wanted side salads. We were charged over seven dollars for a caesar side salad, three dollars more than a regular side salad.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Chat with Aberdeen Republican Candidates

Republican mayoral candidate Tom Aljian was kind enough to make himself available to me this evening for questions and discussion at Starbucks on Main Street. Mike Vail, candidate for Councilman, joined us. As a local resident, taxpayer, and voter, I brought up issues of concern to me. I listened not only for their particular views but to gauge how the candidates carried themselves. I took the opportunity to have them clarify issues I wasn't very familiar with. We had an excellent exchange lasting over an hour.

The gathering was totally on the record and I intend to report the highlights. I imagine that much of what I learned will fall into the category of background, as I have more than a thing or two to learn about what's going on in Aberdeen before I can speak authoritatively on things. I try to avail myself of the wisdom of a range of sources, and that includes Council and BOE candidates. Hopefully I'll be better informed as a result and can help my readership to be well informed also. I relate some of what we discussed below.

Many of my published questions to the Republicans dealt with development -- Anchor Glass, the train station, the Cliffwood Avenue and Route 35 intersection, and COAH housing on County Road. We touched on development in the following ways:
  • The candidates said they can see no evidence that the current Council has a comprehensive plan for development. Mr Aljian said he would host half a dozen public meetings seeking immediate input from the community on what needs to be included in a township plan. All sides would have a chance to read and discuss it, then there would be periodic public gatherings for feedback and re-evaluation. 
  • Mr Vail pointed out how Old Bridge and Keyport have begun developing their waterfronts, while Aberdeen Township continues to only promise development. Mr Vail suggested that residents ought not have to tolerate irregular beach cleanings and beach access through a large, ugly guard rail. (At least we have a volleyball court.)
  • Mr Aljian suggested that Aberdeen could be more innovative in meeting its COAH obligations by seeking Federal incentives like the Tax Credit Assistance Program (TCAP) to build affordable housing. Aberdeen should look into Lower Township, which is developing 90 units at Cape May Senior Housing with TCAP funding.
One of the other issues I asked about in my published questions was seeking economies through regionalization and the merging of our Township with Matawan Borough. Mr Aljian said he would jump at opportunities to economize through cooperation with other towns and consolidation of functions. He pointed out the obvious inefficiency of paying to operate part time courts in both municipalities. Mr Aljian remarked as well on Aberdeen and Matawan paying the same man to provide building inspections. Mr Vail saw no benefits coming from the recent imposition of a 4-day week for township employees except as a perquisite for employees.

I asked Mr Aljian to explain what the big deal was with state pension payments and our local budget. I was unfamiliar with the story of how Governor Corzine had agreed to permit local towns to defer their payments to the state pension system in order to avoid increases in property taxes in the short term. Mr Aljian explained that this one time benefit to our budget this year will not only result in annual budget payments in the future to cover the 2009 debt, but next year there will be no deferral. So Aberdeen residents, who faced a tax increase this year despite the deferral of pension payments and the infusion of library fund monies, will have to pay the full 2010 pension payment plus a share of the 2009 pension payment, all without the benefit of this year's one-time offsets. And we know what that means for next year's property taxes. . .

Mr Aljian hopes to see Republican inroads into the Council, if only to keep the Dems from continuing their complete control of information. He would welcome a debate before the November elections and hopes people will encourage the organization of such an event.

Mr Aljian was well spoken, confident, and knowledgeable of the issues. He's been talking politics throughout the township for many weeks, with only a couple of weekends off -- one when he was sick -- so he is mentally sharp as a result. Maybe I just enjoy politics too much, but I must say he is pleasant to chat with over coffee. He obviously enjoys discussing his community and what he would do if given the chance to lead the Council.

This was my second conversation with Mr Vail, whom I first met at Aberdeen Day. At that event, I found him pleasant and excited to be campaigning. He contributed astute observations to this evening's conversation, especially on issues related to Cliffwood and Cliffwood Beach, but he appropriately deferred to the mayoral candidate on most questions.

I thoroughly enjoyed my chat with these two candidates. I would welcome an email from the Democrats if they would like to arrange for a similar on-the-record discussion. I'd say, 'Have your people contact my people', but I am 'my people'.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Independent Arrangement

What is the context of the Q & A of the Aberdeen Township Council candidates as presented in yesterday's Independent? It's nice to have a few answers to my questions, I guess, but what were the circumstances that gave us this Q & A? There is no explanation of the format. Who asked the questions? Who answered the questions? Were all the candidates in the same room? Did all the candidates participate in person or was this done by email or phone? We don't even know when this took place. What were the ground rules, if any? Did anyone provide written responses to written questions? This looks more like an arrangement than a debate. Truly the Independent needs to do the basics of journalism if they are to serve the community appropriately.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Brookdale Community College Men's Soccer - Ranked 5th Nationally!

Robert Daily, a graduate of Matawan Regional High School, is the goal keeper for the nationally ranked BCC men's soccer team, which is fifth among community colleges nationwide, according to the News Transcript. Daily and his fellow keeper have allowed only a dozen goals in 15 matches this year. Check the article for further details and upcoming games.

Clean Ocean Action - Beach Sweeps - 24 October

Come out to Clean Ocean Action Beach Sweeps on Saturday 24 October 2009 from 9 am to 12:30 pm at the Fisherman's parking lot at Cliffwood Beach in Aberdeen. Join over 70,000 volunteers up and down the Jersey Shore who are stepping up to clean up the environment.

NJT and Customer Focus

What good does it do for a westbound train to enter Penn Station Newark in the evening rush with an illuminated sign that says simply NJ TRANSIT? (It is already painted boldly on the side of each train car.) Or, worse yet, NEW YORK? (It just came from NY and someone forgot to flip a switch.)

I saw this train (pictured above) as I approached Newark from Harrison on the PATH train. I couldn't tell if it was my LONG BRANCH or MATAWAN train or a NORTHEAST CORRIDOR train. Because the signage was not properly set, I had to look for a computer monitor with the information I needed. Being a perfect storm, the monitor was showing an ad so I couldn't get information. Needless to say there was no conductor in the vicinity.

Come on, NJT. This happens too frequently. It's sloppy. And it shows no customer focus.

Speaking of PATH trains, why after all these years haven't NJT and the Port Authority worked out a collaborative arrangement during the evening rush to announce the tracks for outgoing NJT trains on PATH trains as they enter Newark, New York, and Hoboken? For example, you could make an announcement as to track numbers, departure times, and destinations, and then give commuters arriving at Newark a full 3 minutes to make their way down to the tracks to meet their trains. This would ease the tension and anger many commuters feel as they watch their connections disappear or fight the crowds to reach a train before the doors slam shut in their face.

You have it in your power to lower tens of thousands of people's blood pressures by coordinating our train connections in the evening. Remember: customer focus.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Aberdeen Dems Have Renewed Fiscal Sensitivity, But No Plan, No Compassion

The latest brochure from the Aberdeen Democrats -- PREPARED TO LEAD, READY TO SERVE -- offers the foursome's plan to move the township forward once they are elected. In essence, they plan to:
  1. Spend carefully.
  2. Be accountable for spending carefully.
  3. Spend more of Trenton's money.
  4. Be accountable for spending Trenton's money carefully.
  5. Improve local quality of life by spending Trenton's money instead of ours.
  6. Fix some local roads using Trenton's money.
What more could we ask for? Inside the brochure, the candidates offer the personal touch and show their community roots. Here's a summary of the warm feelings they have for you and the community at large. 
  • Jim Lauro thinks you should be able to afford to live around here. "I'll fight to ensure our families can always afford to call our community home."
  • Greg Cannon plans to be circumspect in his spending decisions on the Council.
  • Fred Tagliarini thinks the community's quality of life is so important that he cannot come up with words to describe it. And he plans to protect whatever it is at all costs, albeit as cheaply as possible. He obviously doesn't want to see us all have to move away because we can't afford to live here anymore.
  • Margaret Montone will protect your tax dollars as best she can. She has a plan to squeeze blood out of the township's turnip. I guess she'll be in charge of making sure Fred doesn't spend too much on quality of life and Jim has to watch our neighbors move out of town to find less expensive places to live.
The Dems have warm, fuzzy graphics and lots of signage, but be aware that they're not saying much about what they plan to do. And what they are saying is wrought with guilt for raising our taxes.

Speaking of taxes, I just got a full page letter from the Township Manager, Joseph Criscuolo, accompanying my new tax bill. Did you get one of those, too? I understood when he said it was a year of considerable economic challenges and that municipalities and businesses across the state have been severely impacted. I recognize that we've had budget shortfalls and I have no doubt that a tax increase was necessary. But Joe missed the point. The taxpayers didn't need his explanations. The Council needed to explain why so many residents have had to lose their homes. The Dems haven't found a way to preserve quality of life -- homeownership --, so why should they get our vote?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monmouth County Pumpkin Picking's In Full Swing - October 2009

It's definitely pumpkin picking time! We went to Holmdel Park on Holmdel Road and didn't think much about traffic. But on the way back, we wanted to visit the Matawan Walgreen's, so we took Route 34 northbound.

I was thinking I'd made a mistake when I saw how busy Casola Farms was. We were in a line of a dozen or so cars. Things snarled up at the Aberdeen border and we sat in stop and go traffic all the way to the Lloyd Road light. (Why do people with SUVs feel they have the right to go down the shoulder of the road? Sorry, but it is always SUVs. And often NY tags...)

Actually I didn't realize how much of the township is situated south of Lloyd Road. There are apartment developments, condominium communities, and several daycare centers. I haven't been to Luigi's Pizza in a while. Gotta go again. And there is an internet company called Skyweb and some associated web firms.

Visit Holmdel Park in October - Beautiful Views

While you're at Holmdel Park, be sure to walk around the lake and see the Arboretum.


Make A Visit to Longstreet Farm in October 2009


Enter this 1897-style New Jersey farm through the interpretive center.

 There are plenty of staff and volunteers in traditional attire to answer your questions.

Read about the Longstreets.

The Boy Scouts stacked these corn husks last week.

Families can have fun while they learn about late 19th century agribusiness.

There are plenty of authentic period farm animals for you to see. The kids will enjoy them and so will you.

The Longstreets' farm house is open for tours.

Come have fun.

Acorns Aplenty in Cliffwood Beach

The large oak trees in my yard in Cliffwood Beach have been bombarding us with acorns for the past few weeks. They whack the roof of the house, the cars parked out on the street, and, once in a while, yours truly on the head.

People are seeing a lot of acorns this year up in Stamford, Connecticut, according to the Stamford Advocate.  An expert at the agricultural station in Stamford, dismissing the idea that it means anything about what's in store for us this winter, says the trees have a four to seven year cycle that produces periodic bounties of fruit. Probably due to the spring rains this year, he says. On The Snow.com says the people who watch the volume of acorns probably do about as well at predicting heavy snows as the professional meteorologists.

All I know is that once the acorns stop falling, the leaves will be falling. Then it will be out with the rakes and leaf blowers.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

News Updates as of 10 October 2009

  • A Matawan man was among 55 NJ Pagans Motorcycle Club members indicted in West Virginia on Federal charges, according to NJ.com. Eight were from NJ. They are facing charges up to 20 years in jail and $1 million in fines. Check out the Reuters and West Virginia MetroNews stories.
  • Monmouth County recognized the work done on the Bayshore Trail in Atlantic Highlands, according to The Independent. The Bayshore Trail joins the Henry Hudson Trail, allowing more than 10 miles of contiguous hiking and biking between Aberdeen and points east.
  • If you're poor and live in Monmouth County, you'll want to think ahead about your emergency home repair needs if you expect county assistance in your time of need. Get in all your paperwork and win a lottery and you can be one of 70 lucky winners who'll get an interest-free county loan to help pay for emergency repairs that you've been thinking about for years but just couldn't afford. Maybe you're thinking about having a devastating roof leak or an annoying plumbing break this winter? Now you can. The county may have just the assistance program to meet your needs. The Examiner tells you how to get ahead of the curve on this county program.
  • The Township is offering flu shots at town hall for $20 on 15 October 2009 from 1 pm to 2:30 pm.
  • The Township will host a Halloween costume contest and magic show for kids up to ten years old at the Lloyd Road School on Thursday 22 October 2009 at 7 pm.
  • The Township will host the 25th Annual Jolly Mouse Craft Show on 7 November 2009 at the Lloyd Road School  from 10 am to 4 pm. Organizers are selling space for vendors.
  • Keyport's Environmental Commission is hosting a beach and park cleanup day on the morning of 24 October 2009.
  • Keyport will be hosting a Halloween Parade on 25 October 2009 for kids 12 and under. See the official poster.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

News Updates as of 6 October 2009

  • Matawan is apparently famous for the design of its local Texaco gas station, according to On the Road with Jeff Bressler.
  • RCM Group is seeking an extension of its deadline to build 132 rental units on County Road and condos on Route 34, according to APP. Oddly, the article doesn't say whether the extension was granted. RCM's lawyers say their client is in a mediation process with Aberdeen on the latter's COAH program and that the process should be resolved in October. They are asking for a three-month extension to 31 December. The plan is a dead letter if it continues to propose construction of all COAH rentals in Cliffwood.
  • Parents of Special People, Inc is sponsoring a speaker series this fall, per APP. Melinda Jennis, president of Pathways for Exceptional Children, will speak on Wed 7 October at the Cambridge Park School at One Crest Way.
  • Charles F. Vuotto Jr., of Tonneman, Vuotto & Enis in Matawan, is cited as an expert on family law in an article about divorce during hard times at NJ.com. He chairs the family law section for the State Bar Association.
  • Matawan Huskies' MacArthur Underwood and Jared Allison are highlighted once again as weekend football heroes by the local media. NJ.com provides their impressive stats. Scanning the Scene provides a fuller account. The big game of week 3 was the blowout victory by Matawan over Raritan(30-7). In a game most people thought would be a close, the Huskies led from start to finish and proved that they are the real deal in 2009. Holding Raritan ace RB Jessie Raymond to 75 yards and Notre Dame bound Bennett Jackson to 5 catches for 57 yards, the Huskies used their outstanding QB Jared Allison( 1TD run & 1TD pass) and McArthur Underwood(82 run for TD) as big play weapons in a statement type game of the early season. Matawan now gets to revenge a 2008 loss to RBC, which still bothers Matawan. Look for them to take care of business this Friday at RBC.
  • Matawan Advisor provides an introduction to the Matawan Dems running for borough council.
  • Matawan Rotary Club is active in the community, per Independent. They provided backpacks and dictionaries for needy kids in the Matawan Aberdeen Regional School District (MARSD). Thanks to Target, Kohl's, and Staples for the donated backpacks and Columbia, Provident, and Sovereign  banks for the school supplies.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Aberdeen Democrats for Township Council

The Democrats have put forward Fred Tagliarini for Mayor and Jim Lauro, Margaret Montone, and Greg Cannon for election to Township Council this November. I don't see a website for the campaign and the literature they are circulating says nothing about what they plan to do if they are elected. So I'll have to wing it.

The Dems have to run on their predecessors' record, all the more so because a new slate had to be developed with the abrupt departure of Mayor Sobel and company. I have some questions, which they are welcome to answer in this forum:

  1. Why is the current Democratic administration going forward with a tax sale with a whopping six pages of residents that represents the removal of over 300 families from their homes and other properties this fall? It seems inhumane. What were the options? I guess there are no guardian angels in Pottersville after all.
  2. Is it a mistake for Cliffwood and Cliffwood Beach residents to feel ignored by the current Democratic council? The only "development" the Council has attempted is to put over 300 units of low income housing on County Road to meet a state COAH mandate. Those efforts brought out angry citizens in the spring, but I see that a recent zoning board meeting discussed those plans again. What are your plans for Cliffwood and Cliffwood Beach if you are elected?
  3. What would you do to develop the old Anchor Glass plant on Cliffwood Avenue? Why do you feel your plans would succeed when the current administration has been stalled in its efforts?
  4. Likewise, what are your plans for developing the train station area and how would you do things differently from the current administration?
  5. Would Jim Lauro do something he hasn't done for over 30 years as mass transit coordinator and find parking spaces at the train station for Aberdeen residents? The waiting list is a joke and supposed transit rules saying that parking must be made available to non-residents are no excuse for abandoning local residents in this matter. Maybe the fee is too low as there are plenty of empty spots in the lot in the morning? There must be other options.
  6. Do you think the mechanisms in place are sufficient to keep decision making out in the open when one party holds power in the Council? What would you do differently from the current administration to make sure the public knows more about what is going on in the Council?
  7. What do you think of the Keyport and Red Bank models for community promotion? What changes would you make to promote Aberdeen more aggressively and effectively? How effective do you think Aberdeen Day is in promoting local businesses?
  8. What is your position on funding the Matawan Aberdeen Public Library? Would you continue to extract its building funds to reduce local taxes or would you instead support its building plans as part of a greater Matawan-Aberdeen renewal program?

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food - At Samaha's, It's Mr Pumpkin

The US Department of Agriculture has launched a new program called Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food, to encourage people to buy locally grown food. Samaha's on Lloyd Road in Aberdeen is a great place to start.

Aberdeen is a great destination when you're coming down to Monmouth County to shop for pumpkins and buy fresh produce. You'll want to bring your small children to meet Mr Pumpkin, a favorite pastime during the Halloween season. Your children will sit on hay bales and watch a simple production with Mr Pumpkin and friends on a stage called Mr Pumpkin's House. There is also a hayride that takes adults and kids alike on a short trip through the nearby fields.

You'll want to have a look at the fruits and vegetables in the store. You'll find a great assortment of Jersey tomatoes, Samaha's renowned corn on the cob, and a number of varieties of apples.

You'll also find asparagus, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, carrots, and potatoes, even pickles. And so much more.

Samaha's also has mums and other seasonal plants for your yard. I plan to pick some up this week. They also have corn stalks for decorating your yard for the season.

Get to know your local farmer. Visit your local fruit and vegetable stand before the season ends.