A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Verizon Wireless Called Me After Survey

I just got off the phone with a Verizon Wireless representative. She called because I submitted a negative survey response yesterday. The question was how likely was I to recommend Verizon Wireless to a friend. Not bloody likely was my reply, with a lengthy explanation. I reviewed many of my family's complaints on the phone with her today just to give her a flavor for our general disgust with Verizon Wirless and Verizon. And I mentioned the recent customer grumblings about Verizon Wireless billing practices regarding charges incurred for inadvertent use of the Internet. I see that that issue hasn't gone away, btw. She was pleasant but backed the company. So we basically agreed to disagree. And she wished me a Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

News Updates as of 28 December 2009

  • Marlboro defeated the Matawan Regional High School boys varsity basketball team 56-39 in Round 1 of the Husky Holiday Tournament, according to NJ.com and APP. (BTW: The school's mascot is the Husky and the school website is calling the event the Husky Holiday Tournament, so I'm not sure why both news sources are calling it the Huskie Classic.)
  • Justin Eric Farnham of Matawan received his Associates in Visual Arts from Raritan Valley Community College, according to the Somerset Reporter.
  • Rob Ratcliffe, of Matawan, is featured as a guitar-playing Giants game tailgater in a photo at NJ.com.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

New Releases to See Over the Christmas 2009 Holidays

Here is a set of previews of the newly released movies I've seen or am planning to see over the holidays at Hazlet Multiplex.

Articles on the History of First Presbyterian Church of Matawan

I've been doing a series of articles on the history of the First Presbyterian Church of Matawan on another blog. My most recent contribution is a biography of Charles H Bruce, who served as minister from 1912 to 1925. Local history buffs and genealogists might find some of the articles in this series of interest.

The church is developing a new website, btw. They're still working on it, so you should continue to use their current site for regular business, but you might just want to take a peek from time to time to see how things are progressing on the new site. I hear they've been burning the midnight oil of late.

Friday, December 25, 2009

News Updates as of 25 December 2009

  • Former Matawan Borough Council member Lillian G. Burry is to head the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders when a Republican majority takes control of the board on 7 January 2010, according to APP. She was the first woman to hold the position when selected for the 2008 term. Since the Democrats took control and replaced her as director after she'd served only one year, the Republicans are making sure she gets her second year in what is typically a two-year term of office.
  • Derek Burlew of Cliffwood Beach, a freestyle Motocross pro, will perform in the inaugural 15 city tour of Gravity Slashers, which begins in Charlotte, NC on 2 January 2010 and ends in Cleveland, OH on 6 March 2010, according to SXdirt.com.
  • The Husky Holiday Tournament will be a three-day boys varsity basketball event held at Matawan Regional High School on Sat 26 December, Mon 28 December, and Tue 29 December, beginning each day at 8 am, according to the MRHS boys varsity schedule. Manalapan, Marlboro, and Howell are invited to the tourney, according to The News Transcript. The MRHS boys varsity team is 0-3 after their loss to Raritan on 23 December. The next Huskies home game will be Tue 5 January at 6:30 pm against Shore Regional. Check out the team's roster here.
  • The Lady Huskies defeated Franklin 74-35 on 23 December, making them 2-1-0, according to NJ.com. With three games under their belts already, maybe it is time for the girls varsity page at MRHS to be updated with a roster, schedule, new photos, etc?
  • The Independent provided a nice summary of Matawan Husky Wrestling's Icebreaker Invitational held last Saturday during the blizzard. Home opener will be Mon 4 January, when MRHS hosts Marlboro.
  • After seeing Up In the Air today, the world is back in balance after reading Thomas McDermott's article Coping With Layoff by Inventing a Holiday. He suggests riding the Staten Island Ferry past Ellis Island and pretending that you've just landed in America, the land of opportunity, with only the shirt on your back and a dream. What is that dream? Not a bad way to adjust one's thinking. And certainly a better choice than Ryan made in the movie.
  • Bank of America's Matawan branch at Ravine Drive and Main Street is having some asbestos removed by Synatech as part of an interior renovation project, according to APP. The websites related to the Asbestos, Lead, and Hazardous Waste Laborers Local 78 in New York, which is so upset about BOA using non-union laborers for this project, were corrupted, so I couldn't do much research. What I could find showed the union has jurisdiction over New York City and Long Island, so I assume they are down in Matawan because BOA is headquartered in Manhattan. It isn't clear that they represent local workers here.
  • NJ Transit trains heading into the city were stacked up on their approach to Newark Penn Station for hours on Wednesday, not unlike planes trying to land at Chicago's busy O'Hare Airport. This writer had a 3 1/2 hour commute into the city that day. Presumably all lines were affected by the problem with the tunnels, not just the North Jersey Coast Line as suggested by The Independent. Conductors explained that each train entering Newark Penn had to be turned around after its passengers disembarked, which was the primary reason for us sitting for hours outside of the Newark International Airport stop.
  • Matawan residents will be paying an average of 10% more for their tap water beginning in January 2010, according to The Independent. Borough Ordinance 09-23 was presented to the Borough Council on 1 December 2009 and was brought up for a vote and passed by the Council on 15 December 2009. The details of the ordinance are not readily available as the ordinance is not posted online and The Independent article provides an utterly confusing rate calculating scheme.

  • A Rowan University mechanical engineering student from Matawan is heading to the Gambia in January 2010, according to Newswise. She and two other local students will join their teacher on his 4th Engineers Without Borders trip to Africa to finish assessing a roughly two-mile stretch of road adjacent to a swampy area that regularly floods waist high and keeps villagers from getting to town. They will also begin to train the local villagers on how to fix the road once the assessment is completed.
  • A Keyport campaign has degenerated to name calling, including accusations that one of the candidates really lives in Cliffwood Beach, according to The Independent. Oh my. Say it isn't so.

Christmas 2009

Merry Christmas to all the naughty and nice readers of Aberdeen NJ Life. I hope Santa brought you something that you really wanted this year, but also that the spirit of Christmas has left you with something that you really needed.

I have to say that we have a bit less under our family's tree this morning, but we're good with that. Sitting back from all the bustle of Christmas shopping has allowed us to see that we already enjoy many blessings, probably more than our fair share.

Trading gifts can be a joy but it also can keep us from taking stock of what we already have. Be sure to give thanks for what you have and to share your relative bounty with others.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sometimes Two Is Less Than One

Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times was Brooke Gladstone's guest for the 11 December 2009 edition of On The Media. In her piece, called "Follow For Now," Kristof tells Gladstone that researchers have discovered the plight of an individual is much more compelling to onlookers than the struggle of thousands -- or even two.

Kristof explains that he was getting frustrated that he couldn't stir his readers to action when he wrote about war, poverty, and the AIDS crisis in Africa, but they readily were taken in by media stories of individual struggle, such as that of Pale Male, a red-tailed hawk, who was fighting all odds to continue his life in the most unlikely of habitats -- Manhattan.

So Kristof did some digging into the psychology of all this and found the work of Paul Slovic, of Decision Research. Among Slovic's experiments he found that if you ask people to help a starving seven-year-old girl from Mali named Rokia, people will want to provide support. It makes them feel good, especially if they can remedy her problem. But if you describe her problem as resulting from famine in her country, their interest tends to drop. And if you add a brother Moussa with the same issue, they are even less willing to donate.

Kristof said, "You know, we all know that at some point people tend to get numbed and tune out, but one of the things that I found fascinating was the number at which we tend to tune out. It’s not a million, it’s not a thousand, it’s not even a hundred - it’s two."


If you want to learn more about what is happening in Africa, you may wish to explore the International Crisis Group website. I also recommend making an end of year donation to WNYC, which produces On The Media and other fine public radio shows. And if you have an iPod, subscribe to the podcast while you're at it.

And if you're interested in exploring human empathy for the individual but a lack of interest in mass philanthropy, Slovic has a one-hour webinar on the Communications Network you may wish to check out. Personally I think the webinar's format is rather frustrating. Slovic's voice is weak in comparison to the interviewer's, the event takes too long to get underway, and, most maddening of all, you can't stop, start, or move about the recording at all. But the topic is surprisingly fascinating, so maybe you'll endure these issues to listen to some or all of it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

MAMS Faculty/Student Basketball Game - Videos

As promised, I've uploaded six video segments to You Tube covering the MAMS Faculty/Student Basketball Game last week. Here are a few of them.

Meth Hunter

Had to sign for your Sudafed lately? Check out Kris Wheaton's Sources and Methods for an interesting post on how the police use pill purchasing data to shut down meth labs. Part 2 of the 5 part TV news series from Erie, Pennsylvania contains a discussion of the development and use of a computer program called Meth Hunter.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A 1904 History of Baptists in Keyport and Matawan

A History of Baptists in New Jersey, by T S Griffiths, published by Barr Press Publishing Company of Hightstown, NJ in 1904, is available at Internet Archive. The online text is obviously scanned and so has a number of common OCR errors.

Below, I've attempted to fix the errors in the text of the book's chapter 24, which talks about the history of Baptists in Keyport and Matawan.


Keyport is on the shore of the Raritan Bay in Monmouth county, six miles from Middletown village. At the time of the organization of the Baptist church, in 1840, it was a small village of late origin. The pastors of Middletown, Holmdel and Jacksonville had appointments there for several years before the Baptist church was formed. Thus Baptists increased until their number justified an organization of a Baptist church. Rev. J. M. Carpenter of Jacksonville, first made a regular appointment. Mr. S. Sproul, a licentiate of Middletown, a resident at Keyport was active in maintaining social devotional meetings there. Providentially, Rev. F. Ketchum, an evangelist came to Middletown. Hundreds of converts were a result of the meeting.

A proposal to found a branch at Keyport was rejected and a Baptist church of eleven constituents was organized in August 1840. On the same day, Mr. Ketchum baptized twelve converts into its fellowship. The Board of the State Convention appointed Mr. Jackson Smith, a licentiate of Middletown church its missionary at Keyport. Mr. Smith gave up the field and in February 1841, the Board was asked to appoint Mr. William V. Wilson to Keyport. They did so. Mr. Wilson was ordained in May 1841. Rev. Mr. Wilson has lived and his ministry has been exclusively in Monmouth county. New Jersey, where he has been pastor of three Baptist churches, Keyport, Navesink and Port Monmouth, closing his pastoral work January 1, 1892, of fifty-one years, being past his eightieth year and pastor of the third church to which he ministered thirty-eight years. These fifty years of pastoral labor within so narrow a circuit is an indication of the worth of the man and of his influence. Himself financially able, churches, missions and education were quietly uplifted from depths.

A meeting house was built at Keyport the first year of Mr. Wilson's pastorate. Originally, Keyport church had been constituted as the third church of Middletown. Holmdel being the second Middletown. But in 1850, the name was changed to first Baptist church of Keyport. Soon after settling at Keyport, Pastor Wilson made a regular appointment at Middletown point, (now Matawan). He also administered the Lord's Supper in school houses for the convenience of the Baptists scattered in the (now Marlboro township). In 1850, Mr. Wilson secured the erection of a very neat and commodius house of worship in Matawan. Mr. Wilson resigned in August 1853, after being pastor more than twelve years. The growth of the church had been constant and the increase was such that a larger and better church edifice was necessary and measures were taken to build it.

In June 1854, Rev. J. Q. Adams entered the pastorate. In little more than a year, he gave up his charge. Mr. Wilson was called but declined to return. After a long interval in the pastorate. Rev. F. A. Slater accepted the pastoral charge in the latter part of 1856. The resignation of Mr. Wilson delayed the plans for a new house of worship, but earnest plans were adopted at the coming of Mr. Slater and the meeting house was nearly finished when he resigned in 1862. Next December, Rev. A. P. Greaves became pastor; the new church edifice was dedicated while he was ministering to the church. His resignation took effect in 1864.

On the next June 1865, Rev. F. F. Cailhopper was called and soon after settled as pastor. His stay was but four years. A long interval occurred in the pastoral office and the church prospered as much as the conditions allowed. Rev. J. K. Manning entered the pastorate in October, 1870; held the longest pastoral charge the church enjoyed. Resigning in 1883, about thirteen years. The succession of pastors since him has been: S. K. Dexter, 1883-89; J. D. Crumley, 1890-99. Up to 1900, the church has had nine pastors, two of whom remained twelve and more years each. Several members have been licensed to preach. The church has not been disturbed with discord. Deacon Thomas Burrowes has been an efficient co-worker with the church and the pastors. Equally active in all missions in the vicinity of the church and the Association missions. One church, Matawan has been colonized from Keyport church.

Although Matawan Baptist church is closely related to Keyport Baptist church, Baptist interests there antidated the beginnings of Baptist movements at Keyport. Before 1830, Pastor Roberts of first Middletown church preached in the house of Mrs. Elizabeth Bent at Matawan. Pastors J. M. Carpenter and J. Goble of Jacksonville also preached in Matawan. Mr. Carpenter lived in Matawan two years. Rev. William V. Wilson, while pastor at Keyport preached regularly at Matawan for nearly nine years. Converts there were baptized into the membership of Keyport church. Of the thirty-two Baptists who constituted the Matawan Baptist church on October 22nd, 1850, twenty were from Keyport and a church edifice was built for them by Pastor Wilson of Keyport the same year. It would not surprise those who know Mr. Wilson if they learned that he was the largest donor for its cost.

The Matawan church chose Rev. Job Gaskill of Columbus for their pastor. Mr. Gaskill was a missionary of the Board of the State Convention at work about Matawan. Mr. Gaskill was one of the most devotedly godly men and Mrs. Gaskill one of the most active and earnest among Christian women. Both of them had ample private means and relieved the church of wholly caring for them. Mr. Gaskill was a very frail man, though he had immense courage. Only a few months sufficed to lay him aside and he was compelled to return home Additions to the church greatly strengthened it. Mr. D. F. Twiss followed as pastor. But like to his predecessor, he was very frail. Sad afflictions befell him. Death claimed his four children. Disease preyed upon his companion and hemhorrages warned him of his own early death and in October 1853, he resigned to the grief of the church and community. He died June 30th, 1857, and entered into his reward.

In June 1854, Rev. J. W. Crumb became pastor. For four years he wholly served the church. In the last year of his charge a great calamity befell the church: their church edifice was burned in February 1858. The insurance policy had expired days before and the loss was total. The loss of the pastor and the burning of their house of worship was a concurrence of disappointments, nearly fatal to the church. But a conference of neighboring pastors pledged them help in their need. Pastor Crumb closed his labors at Matawan in May, 1858. A hall was rented and a "permanent supply" obtained. Pastor Slater of Keyport assured them of an afternoon Lord's Day service till they had a pastor.

Rev. J. E. Barnes settled as pastor in November 1859, remaining two and more years. These years had ample returns. Large con- gregations waited on his ministry and his executive gifts wrought to complete a new house of worship. A graduate, Mr. R. G. Farley, came within a year and was ordained. In the next four years, their new church edifice was paid for. The hardships of short and new pastorships and of the fire, caused a decline of the membership and of the financial and spiritual strength. However, Rev. F. A. Slater entered the pastorate in October 1866. In a few years, harvests of converts and renewed vigor confirmed the choice of the pastor. Mr. Slater was pastor for twenty-three years. Resigning in September 1889, on account of increasing infirmities, suffered several years since in a railroad accident.

In January 1890, Rev. C. L. Percy became pastor and closed his charge in October 1894. Two members of the church (women) sailed in 1892, for mission work in India. Pastor H. J. Whalen settled in January 1895 and resigned in January 1899. On the next June, Rev. J. Y. Irving accepted a call to be pastor. While the church has hopeful prospects, the commercial and business future of the town does not indicate an extensive growth. If William V. Wilson is included as pastor, the church has had ten pastors. Two houses of worship have been in use. The first built in 1850 and burned in 1858; another now in use. There is not a published statement of members having been licensed to preach and yet, two female members are in India as missionaries.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Huskies Wrestling Beginning Its 2009-2010 Season

Matawan Huskies Wrestling begins its regular schedule after the New Year, but their calendar shows various events in December. An ice breaker competition set for this evening (Saturday) at 9 pm will likely have to be postponed due to heavy snow. (Note: The ice breaker took place but apparently earlier in the day, as On The Mat posted the results on Saturday before 5 pm.) Shore Conference.com has some useful information on the Huskies on its website, too.

Johnny Short, in the 130 weight class for the Huskies, is rated 5th by Dorf Feature Service among all Central Jersey high school wrestlers as the 2009-2010 season begins, according to NJ.com. (BTW, the DFS listings show High Point and Long Branch to have numerous contenders in the mix.) This blog contained links and blurbs on Short back in February and March.

Since there is hardly any information about the rating service mentioned in the NJ.com article, I'll provide a little background what I found online regarding Dorf Feature Service (DFS). This Mountainside company, once called the Metropolitan News Service, has been in existence for over 75 years. Renamed by Sid Dorfman, DFS is actually the sports office of the Newark Star Ledger. For some elaboration on DFS, see footnote 1 of Teenage Rise as Star-Ledger Sports Reporter, the recollections of Nat Bodian, at Old Newark MemoriesManta agrees that the Newark Star-Ledger does some of its business as Dorf Feature Service Inc. Their restricted access business website provides no details.

Some Interesting Distractions for a Snowy Day

I saw this amazing video of undersea volcanic eruptions on the news and thought I would share it with you.

And what are the chances of having a white Christmas where you are? Here is an interesting map with statistics for cities and towns near you.
CommunityWalk Map - What are the odds of a White Christmas?

And did you know that your bank account has more numbers starting with 1 than 2, and more starting with 2 than 3, etc? And did you know that auditors can detect fraud simply by using a formula that looks for these percentages? I was really surprised by what I heard in the Numbers podcast from NPR's Radiolab. I am a regular listener to this show, which is produced locally by WNYC. One podcast typically consists of four separate but related stories. I recommend that you check WNYC's schedule for the time of its weekly radio broadcast or subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Toys For Tots Basketball Yields Many Benefits

A successful 4th Annual Faculty/Student Basketball Game was held last night at the Matawan Aberdeen Middle School (MAMS) on Matawan Avenue in Cliffwood. Over 500 new or gently used toys were collected for the benefit of local needy children this holiday season as the cost of admission to the event. Raffles and snacks raised money for the Willow Tree Center, which provides prevention, education, and counseling to middle school students across New Jersey.

About a third of the student body showed up, many with their parents, to either play or cheer on their fellow classmates in a series of short basketball games with faculty. Cheerleaders stood along the sidelines and roared their support, taking center stage at half time with a rousing performance involving pyramids and lettered signs. Students and parents took to the floor at halftime for a benefit dash and some foul shot contests. Volunteers staffed a snack and raffle area in the cafeteria. Over a dozen teachers, many wearing their teachers association shirts, supported the event, either on the basketball court, selling concessions, or providing organization.

We should be grateful to the many teachers and administrators from MAMS, as well as teachers and substitutes from Matawan Regional High School (MRHS) and other community members, who volunteered considerable time and effort to make this event happen. And we should be proud of the many students and parents who supported the event.

Charlie Marsh, an MRHS teacher who founded the event five years ago while teaching at MAMS, told me that the kids develop rapport with their teachers after seeing them on the basketball court and working with them for a worthy cause. He commented that more and more parents come out to the faculty/student game every year because it is all students talk about for at least a week.

Last year the toys collected went to Manna House and the Matawan United Methodist Church. Be sure to check out the videos I added to go with this article.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Green Man Series Surprise Hit for Adults, Kids; Johnny Depp Gets Role for Film

Borough Overexplains Its Cozy Ties With T&M Associates

The only advantage I can see to having a local press that treats governmental press releases as the whole story is that the government sometimes reveals its hidden agenda as it attempts to fill the echoing silence resulting from an utter lack of balanced political rebuttal with hints of guilt, shame, or other political baggage. Consider it the glass half full.

Nowhere is this more evident than in tomorrow's Independent, which includes Borough Administrator Wiliiam Garofalo's lengthy justification of Matawan's choice of T&M Associates to prepare a $20,000 energy audit for the Borough. In this press release, Garofalo tries to make this significant payment to the incumbent party's largest political contributor disappear like a rabbit into a magician's hat.

The Council is apparently feeling the heat from public scrutiny of Pay to Play. So the very appearance of impropriety in this matter has caused the Borough Administrator to overexplain the position of the Council in the attached defensive song and dance release to the media. Shakespeare was right when he wrote: The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Nothing illegal is going on, of course. But Pay to Play is becoming such a stain on New Jersey society that our politicians now squirm whenever any light shines on their attempts to participate in their repulsive little financial quid pro quos with contributors. Even though it may make perfect sense for Matawan to use an engineering firm it is already familiar with, who really believes that residents won't pay more in the end due to favoritism and backroom deals? Why else pay to play? And who believes that these cozy relationships between politicians and donors won't eventually lead down an even slipperier slope?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Navy Petty Officer from Matawan Part of Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan

Came across a recent posting on the Provincial Reconstruction Team Nuristan blog today. It mentions one of our local boys in a different sort of action in Afghanistan. Go Navy!

NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Dustin Brzezniak, left, from Matawan, N.J., and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. John McGlocklin from San Antonio, Texas, with the Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team, sit with Muhammad Osman, the sub-governor of the Waygul District of eastern Afghanistan’s Nuristan province, and shura members during a meeting to discuss ongoing projects in the area, on Forward Operating Base Blessing, Nov. 18. Osman hires local Afghans to work on PRT-funded projects, and meets with the civil affairs team twice a week to request additional supplies for self-help projects. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashley Hawkins)

Check Flickr for a great picture of a soldier on patrol in the Waygul Valley and an April 2009 article from the Fort Hood Sentinel on 1st Infantry Division patrols there. 

NYC Half-Marathon and the Fresh Air Fund

You can be a Fresh Air Fund Racer or one of the many volunteers and financial sponsors supporting them as they join thousands of others participating in the first ever spring running of the NYC Half-Marathon. The Fresh Air Fund Racers are raising money to help inner city kids have fun summers. Fresh Air Fund Racers helped raise nearly $90,000 at this year's event in August, bringing the total monies collected through three years of half-marathon fundraisers to nearly $300,000.

With so much Christmas shopping left to do, you might not realize that March is just around the corner, so don't dawdle if you want to get involved. It's never too early to inquire about how you can help make this event the most successful one ever.

As an aside, the New York Road Runners (NYRR) Club says interest is already high in the 21 March running of the half-marathon, so if you plan to participate you certainly won't be out there by yourself.

If you'd like to get involved with the race in any way, please email kbrinkerhoff@freshair.org. Thank you!

As always, you can call the Fresh Air Fund at 800-367-0003 
or click here to make a donation.

Matawan Woman Killed Crossing River Road in Piscataway

MyCentralJersey.com reports that a Matawan woman, trailing behind her husband and son as they crossed River Road in Piscataway on Sunday evening, was struck by a car and killed.

Here's a view of the intersection of River Road and Rivercrest Drive, which is reportedly near the point of the pedestrian strike. You can drag the perspective around or even click on the map to explore the vicinity. Note that the family was near a pond at Bakelite Park along the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail and might have been heading to it or returning from it at the time.

View Larger Map

Understanding Preschool Expansion

The Fall 2009 issue of Common Ground includes the following article on the state-mandated expansion of preschool for low-income children in New Jersey. It will provide you with some important background information that should help you understand the Matawan Aberdeen School Board's recent decision, described in The Independent, not to renew the lease of the Bayshore Jointure Commission's Developmental Learning Center at 1 Crest Way. (As an aside, better facilities are fine but a weak reason for this Bayshore organization to move to Tinton Falls, completely outside of its service area. No doubt there is more to that particular story.)

Here is the article from Common Ground, mentioned above, writtten by Cynthia Rice and Kathleen Priestly of the Association for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ):

In January 2008, Governor Corzine signed into law a new state school funding formula that included a significant expansion of high quality, state-funded preschool for low-income children. Modeled after the nationally recognized Abbott Preschool Program, currently providing over 40,000 three- and four- year-olds living in New Jersey’s lowest income school districts access to high quality preschool, this expansion represents an opportunity for an additional 30,000 preschoolers to participate in a program that is proving to make a difference in the educational lives of young children.

A portion of the new preschoolers to benefit from the preschool expansion are low-income children classified as preschool disabled. When fully implemented in 2013-2014, school districts will be able to provide preschool disabled children with increased access to inclusive preschool settings.

Districts with a high concentration of poor families will be required to offer a preschool program to all three- and four-year-olds. Districts with fewer low-income families will be required to offer the program only to those children whose families meet income eligibility requirements.

The preschool expansion initiative will not affect eligibility for preschool disabled services. As is now the case, children with disabilities who are eligible for special education will receive services regardless of family income.

Whether preschool disabled or typicallydeveloping, all eligible children will have access to a full, six-hour day, five-day-a-week program, implemented by each school district and fully funded by the state. The program will affect preschool disabled children in two important ways:

First, it will provide them with a guarantee of additional hours of instruction above the current minimum described in state and federal law, and as dictated by the children’s IEPs. Second, because of the size of the expansion, additional classrooms will be required in order to provide program access to eligible children. This means that school districts will have new opportunities to provide integrated classrooms for preschoolers with disabilities. There are various models of inclusion that districts may find appropriate for their preschool population.

Depending on the model of inclusion, the expansion will include the quality components that have been part of the Abbott program, including a class size of no more than 15 children, a teacher with a bachelor’s degree trained to teach young children, a teacher’s aide, family workers and/or social workers to help families, and a research-based curriculum.

Every district will have a different approach to making sure there is adequate classroom space. Districts can offer their program in a variety of ways, including in-district classrooms, classrooms located in licensed child care centers, classrooms located in Head Start centers, or in a combination of these locations. This “mixed delivery system” has been very successful in the Abbott districts, where 65% of the three- and four-year-olds attend preschool in licensed child care and Head Start classrooms. Many preschool disabled children in Abbott districts attend inclusive settings in their community.

School districts are required to establish a preschool-through-third-grade Early Childhood Advisory Council to review preschool program implementation and to support transition as children move from preschool through grade three. While implementing a high quality program will have positive effects on participating children, preschool services must be planned with an eye toward future learning experiences. Coordinated programs that link preschool with the early elementary years and special education are crucial to obtaining positive outcomes for children. Districts’ early childhood advisory councils will be set-up to think globally in order to maximize program impact during the childrens’ early learning years.

What can parents do?

While the preschool expansion initiative is part of the state’s new school funding formula, the FY 2010 state budget included no money for that expansion. School districts may use some of their dollars from the federal stimulus package for preschool, but only a handful will actually do so. School districts need to
hear from parents and other people in the community that preschool expansion is critical to the educational success of students; and that the initiative provides preschoolers with disabilities increased opportunities to attend high quality,
inclusive programs.

Getting Involved
  • Learn the status of your district’s Early Childhood Advisory Council and offer to participate.
  • Ask your school district about its preschool expansion plan.
  • Tell your school board that you support preschool expansion.
  • Visit a quality, inclusive preschool classroom.
  • Spread the word! Talk to other parents about the expansion.
  • Stay informed!  

For further information, check the following websites:

News Updates as of 8 December 2009

  • Several athletes from our area competed on Sunday at Kean University's opening indoor track and field meet, which was held on Sunday in New Haven, Connecticut . Vincent "Vinny" Schifini (MRHS), of Cliffwood Beach, and Maria Moya (MRHS), of Matawan, participated in pole vault, while Joseph Badru (StJV), of Keansburg, did the high jump. The men's team finished in 4th and the women in 7th. Check the school's athletics page for details of the event and a photograph of Maria. Click here to see the full men's roster.
  • Readers of Chowhound are starting to ask about Ganga Asian Bistro, the new sushi place on Route 34 taking the spot once operated as the Pea Pod Chinese restaurant. I imagine the online discussion will make some progress by early next week. So far people are still chatting about the pretentious name of the place. No one claims to have tried the food as of this moment. Let me know if you drop in. Or join the discussion at Chowhound. It's a fine site for the latest scoop on local eateries.
  • The Times of Trenton offers high praise for Matguard, a Middletown, NJ company that makes a line of sprays and wipes that athletes can use to prevent skin diseases. Tom Bunge, an MRHS wrestler in the late 1970s, is president of the company.
  • 2 Chicks With Chocolate is a budding new ebusiness virtually located in our area. I found the CEO in a business blog called Carleadbest. She was discussing the effectiveness of offering free chocolate samples -- a wonderful concept I must say. I'm all for it. Oh, but I think she only offers them to corporate clients. The chocolates look yummy, so get out your wallets.
  • New Jersey is beefing up its effort to take drunk drivers off the road this holiday season. Over the Limit, Under Arrest began yesterday and runs through 3 January, according to a press release out of Trenton. Make sure you make arrangements for a designated driver, a taxi ride home, or a place to stay before you start any holiday drinking. How do you look in stripes?
  • Jim Lauro is retiring as Public Works Director and looking ahead to elected service on the Aberdeen Town Council beginning on 1 January 2010. The Township issued a proclamation on 4 December honoring his 42 years of public service.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

After Pearl Harbor, Youth Prepare, Parents Wait

After weeks of dreading a knock at the door, two Keyport families were overjoyed to receive letters from their sons just in time for Christmas 1941. For these parents of boys stationed in the Hawaiian Islands, it no doubt had seemed like forever since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December. Based on an account in the Matawan Journal on New Year's Day 1942, there was understandable jubilation when, on Christmas Eve, Mrs Frank S Dey of 89 Church Street received an airmail letter from her son, William Foulks, stationed at Schofield Barracks, saying he was safe. Fanton and Albertina Rogers, of Second Street, were equally excited to hear two days before Christmas from their son Raymond, stationed at Fort Kamekameha on Oahu, that he, too, was fine.

Civic spirit was high all around. Matawan High School students were learning about national defense and writing letters to soldiers. The two winners of the Matawan Christmas home decoration contest donated their $10 and $5 winnings to the Red Cross. Matawan's Outdoor Club, a young girls society, donated $2 to the Red Cross. The Federal Labor Union of Keyport was buying $1,000 in war bonds. Rollo Transit Co handed out over $5,000 in war bonds to employees in place of the usual end of year cash gifts.

Matawan's mainline churches along Main Street -- Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian -- organized a joint week of prayer. The first Sunday in January, Presbyterians were preparing to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the erection of their then-current edifice on Main Street. Reverend Berger was planning to deliver the sermon "The Eyes of the Lord Are In Every Place." The public was invited to an old-fashioned hymn-sing that evening.

Civil defense was also heightened. Morganville and Marlboro were setting up their air raid siren systems. Morse code classes were being established. Executives from New Jersey's top 500 firms were being summoned to an emergency civil defense course at Rutgers University.

The military had of course been activated. The paper announced that a local student had joined the Marines. Fort Monmouth planned to double the size of its next signals corps class to 500 students.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Pay Gets New Scrutiny in NJ; Play Still Has Free Ride

As part of its effort to quell Pay to Play in the Garden State, the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) has posted a new database on its Public Information page online that makes election contributions searchable. According to NJ.com, the database only contains donations for the 2009 primaries so far but will include contributions towards the 2009 general elections by sometime in February 2010.

Maybe we should have a look and see what's happening around here in the realm of political contributions?

T & M Associates, which operates in 19 of New Jersey's 21 counties, contributed $121,000 to local and county campaigns statewide, the largest single contributor, according to NJ.com. The database shows that for the 2009 primary, T & M Associates donated 99.9% of the funding for political campaigns in  Matawan: $5,200 to the Matawan Republicans.

CME Associates contributed all of the political campaign funding in Aberdeen: $1,500 to Tom Perry (Aberdeen Democrat) and $1,500 to David Sobel (Aberdeen Democrat).

So, two major engineering firms provided virtually all of the political funding in Matawan-Aberdeen. In comparison, Old Bridge campaigns received a total of $100 in contributions.

As for Monmouth County, all the money seems to be heading to the Dems. Of local interest, Mullaney Tires gave $500 to Monmouth County Democrats. A large number of contributions are coming from Hazlet, including IEI in Airport Plaza, which is owned by the Chairman of the Monmouth County Democrats.

ELEC is dedicated to administering “The New Jersey Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Reporting Act,” “The Gubernatorial, Legislative Disclosure Statement Act,” “Legislative and Governmental Process Activities Disclosure Act,” and various portions of the “Uniform Recall Election Law.” Its website is a great resource for pay to play information. Check out this Powerpoint presentation, for example.

Unfortunately, the database is heavy on PAY but light on PLAY. Only political contributions are logged into this database. The quid pro quo, in the form of total value of contracts acquired, is not part of this database.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Celtic Christmas at Burroughs Mansion, Sunday 6 December 2009, 1 pm

The Matawan Historical Society is sponsoring an Irish and English Christmas featuring the Celtic band Trinity at Burroughs Mansion, 94 Main Street in Matawan, on Sunday 6 December 2009 from 1 pm to 4 pm, according to a press release in The Independent. Refreshments will be served. See photos and brief bios of individual members of this Red Bank-based group, as well as the band's upcoming performances, at Trinity's MySpace site.

News Updates as of 5 December 2009

  • Salsa Latina, located in the Park Plaza Mall on Route 34 in Matawan, is featured in a review at NJ.com. The place is operated by a Matawan couple interviewed in the article. See also the hopeful discussion at Chowhound and a rather negative review at The Average Cook. I couldn't get the restaurant's website to work, but I was able to link to its dinner menu for some reason. Here's a map.
  • According to University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC)'s athletic blog, a Matawan native is one of eight candidates to ascend to the UMBC Athletic Hall of Fame in February 2010. "Deanna Vecchio, softball, (1999-2002) — A shortstop for the softball team and a catalyst at the top of the lineup from 1999-2002, Vecchio was a career .353 hitter, a four-time All-Northeast Conference First-Team selection and the 2002 Northeast Conference Player of the Year. Vecchio holds UMBC’s all-time records in runs scored (179) and stolen bases (135) and ranks among UMBC’s career leaders in nearly every statistical category, including second in hits (258), fourth in triples (9) and at-bats (731), fifth in total bases (338), sixth in walks (61), on-base percentage (.404) and games played and started (215), seventh in average (.353), 10th in doubles (29) and extra-base hits (49) and 15th in home runs (11). Her 88 hits in 2002 are the second-most ever in a single season in UMBC history, and she batted .402 that season, ranking fourth all-time. The native of Matawan, N.J., also holds UMBC’s single-season record with 68 runs scored as a senior, and she is one of three players ever to steal 40 bases in a season. Vecchio put together a 26-game hitting streak in 2002, second-longest in UMBC history. She also earned National Fastpitch Coaches Association First-Team All-Region honors as a senior." After leaving UMBC, she was a co-founder of URASTAR Softball, which helped high schools in Maryland to get students into softball camps and clinics. She worked as assistant varsity softball coach at Metuchen High School in 2005 - 2006 and as assistant softball coach at Drew University in 2007. She joined Lady Tigers Fastpitch Softball in 2008. According to The Sentinel, Vecchio is a graduate of Old Bridge High School.
  • Matawan PBA is collecting toys and food at designated locations through 20 December, according to The Independent.
  • The Matawan Aberdeen School Board puts its spin on Matawan Regional High School's test results on the 2009 High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) in The Independent. The article contains no comments, criticisms, or recommendations from independent experts or elements of the community, so be forewarned of the article's extreme bias on a complicated story. Maybe the local teacher's union representative or a Rutgers University education specialist could have provided some balance?
  • Tuesday 8 December, the organization Parents of Autistic Children (POAC) is hosting its third speaker in a series facilitated by the Matawan Aberdeen Regional School District, according to The Independent. "Managing Problem Behaviors in the Home and Community" will begin at 7 pm at the MARSD Central Office at 1 Crest Way in Aberdeen.

Matawan Huskies Take State Championship, Defeat Manasquan Warriors 28-12

Ewing was overtaken on Friday evening by an enormous crowd of excited Matawan Huskies fans, who showed up at The College of New Jersey to see their high school football team win the State Championships. Well done, team. We're so proud of you.

Here are some videos that will give you a flavor of the second half of the game.

Friday, December 4, 2009