A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

GOP Splits Three Ways on Freeholder Candidate; Tea Party Favorite Wins By Two Votes

The Monmouth County Republicans split 25-23-22 on their choice of candidate to run for Chosen Freeholder with incumbent Lillian Burry this November, according to APP. The Bayshore Tea Party favorite Gary Rich narrowly edged out two other GOP candidates; the tight race suggests sharp divisions within the Party. The Republicans are no doubt in turmoil as their adopted stepchildren pass out poison pills to their more moderate colleagues. Meanwhile, the federal government teeters on the edge of continuing devolution.

The Dems are scheduled to pick their candidates on Saturday.

Autism Awareness Gets Bumped Up at MAMS

Matawan Aberdeen Middle School (MAMS) plans a hair raising time on Friday in support of autism awareness. For a small donation, teachers, administrators, and students can wear their hair in a faux-hawk or bumpit. I'm hearing the event has spread around the district like a virus. I wish the program coordinators good luck in their promotion!

Monmouth County Freeholders Held Blameless

The Asbury Park Press has been creating a force field of blamelessness around the Monmouth County Freeholders, who should stop pointing fingers and start sharing the responsibility for recent fiduciary and budgetary missteps in the county. Lessons learned should include better fiscal oversight by Freehold and less shock and bluster when they goof up.

In a recent article, APP says that Ocean County College's board of trustees is being proactive in requesting quarterly financial reports in order to avoid what happened to their Brookdale colleagues. Since a few members of the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders served with members of Brookdale's board on a panel that reviewed Brookdale's annual budget and presidential compensation package, the Brookdale president's arrangement should have come as no surprise. Why pray tell are the freeholders up in arms about the president's compensation? They reportedly held annual meetings to review Brookdale's finances but did little actual oversight. A ten-minute chat with the President over tea is what I hear. Maybe our freeholders should take more responsibility for minding the store at our public colleges and stop flailing about?

APP raged in an article the other day about prison worker overtime expenses but made only a small mention of the freeholders' authorization of prison employee layoffs, which even APP says caused the overtime situation in the first place. When you have mandatory shifts to cover in the prisons and no one to work them, you have to pay people overtime.

Be mindful of APP's subtle agenda next time you sit down to the paper. Ask yourself what they're emphasizing and what they've left out or shoved to the end of the article. Take your Taxes Are Too High chip off your shoulder and read about what the idiot politicians are doing in Trenton and Freehold with a set of fresh eyes.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cartwarming Cliffwood Corner

There's never a lack of A&P shopping carts in the Cliffwood neighborhood. Yesterday there was one standing sentinel across the street from the store at the corner of Route 35 North and Cliffwood Avenue on that vacant lot where Burlew's Pizzeria used to stand.

So, what do you supposed happened? How did that cart get abandoned at a bus stop? It's intriguing, really. Maybe someone caught the bus and took their groceries to Perth Amboy? Of course they wouldn't need the cart anymore. So there it stands.  Or maybe someone was returning it to A&P and they were abducted by aliens? Don't be ridiculous.

I guess a shopping cart doesn't signal anything worse at that corner than the vacant lots and the abandoned Moore's Bar tell passers-by. The red "Thank you!" scrawled on the bar in red paint is especially decorative and heartwarming.

Hopefully this is one of the intersections to be upgraded by the state in FY 2012.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Route 35 Between Keyport and Laurence Harbor to Get Much Needed Facelift

NJ DOT issued a news release on Thursday announcing its FY 2012 budget for capital improvements to transportation infrastructure. Be sure to note that one-third of the transportation funding is federal. If you look through the state's Monmouth County projects, you will find two notable local projects:
  • Project 177A - Route 35, Greenwood Drive to Prospect Avenue involves roadway rehabilitation, widening, drainage, safety improvements, improvements to four intersections along Route 35 between Laurence Harbor and Keyport, as well as the replacement of a culvert. ($19,647,000)
  • Project NS9811 - County Route 6 Bridge (MA-14) involves the replacement of the existing Amboy Avenue bridge over Matawan Creek between Aberdeen and Keyport. The existing bridge is structurally deficient due to ongoing deterioration of the protective coating on the majority of its structural steel components. It is also deemed functionally obsolete. ($2,000,000)

Read about it in APP.

History: Millicent Macaroff Heuser (1885-1965) of Matawan

Millicent Macaroff Heuser was the first president of the Matawan Junior Women's Club, according to the 19 August 1965 edition of the Red Bank Daily Register (see pg 18, col 8).

Her parents, Nicholas (Nichols) and Nancy (Anastasa) Macaroff (Macarowf), were Lithuanian Jews living under Russian rule when they married in 1906. One record suggests that Nicholas came to the United States soon after their marriage, while Nancy came the next year, after Millicent was born. Another says they all emigrated in 1907 after Millicent was born. It's important to note that about 20% of the population of what is now Lithuania fled between the famine of 1868 and the beginning of World War I in 1914, many to the United States.

The family settled in New Haven, Connecticut and were all soon naturalized as Americans. Nicholas found work as a draftsman for an engineering company and had a couple more daughters.

Nicholas A Macaroff, born 6 May 1883 in Uzova, Russia, was living at 307 Concord Street in New Haven, Connecticut when he became a naturalized US citizen on 18 September 1913 (Certificate # 340198). Currently, Uzova is a village in the Malaryta region of southwestern Belarus, but in the 19th century it belonged to Russia. Catherine the Great absorbed the territory after the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth collapsed about 1795 and it remained Russian until the formation of the Soviet Union.

In the 1910 and 1920 Federal Censuses, Millicent's father was a draughtsman working for an engineering company, first in New Haven, and then in Queens, New York. He was a civil engineer in Matawan in the 1930 Federal Census.

The name Millicent was likely an Americanized version of Lyudmila. It carries Russian nicknames equivalent to Lucy and Millie in English.

Millicent appeared as Milla Macarowf, age 3 born in Russia, in the 1910 Federal Census. She was living with her parents, Nichols Macarowf, age 28, and Anastasa Macarowf, age 25, and a younger sister Lidia aged 1 year 1 month and born in Connecticut. The eldest three all spoke Lithuanian and were from Russia.

Millicent appeared as Millie in the 1920 Federal Census living in Springfield, Queens, New York. She was a 12 year old girl said to have been born in New York to Russian parents. Millicent was living with sisters Lydia and Florence, ages 10 and 9, respectively. Both, like Millicent, were said to have been born in New York.  It's apparent that none of the girls were actually born in New York State, despite this official document saying so.

Millicent appeared as Millison in the 1930 Federal Census. This was probably the enumerator's attempt to render Millicent. The census taker in Matawan had all sorts of difficulties with names, based on my initial review of actual images of the census documents. Millicent was 22 years old and born in Russia. She had a sister Florence age 19 born in Connecticut. Lydia was no longer at home.

Millie and her sister Florence played guard on the Matawan High School girls basketball team, according to the 26 December 1924 edition of the Matawan Journal.

The Junior Women's Club selected its president, Millicent Macaroff, to represent the club in Atlantic City for the spring gathering of New Jersey junior women's clubs, according to the 20 March 1925 edition of The Matawan Journal. The club also voted to hold its next meeting at the natatorium in Asbury Park. In other words, they were heading to an indoor pool.

Millie was among four students who graduated Matawan High School in the Classical Course on 23 June 1925, according to that Friday's Matawan Journal. Ralph Heuser was one of five, including Karl Heuser, to graduate in the Scientific Course. Millie was accepted at the Savage School of Physical Training (an unfortunate name), according to the 18 September 1925 edition of the same paper.

The 19 June 1925 edition of The Matawan Journal reported that Miss Millicent Macaroff and Ralph Heuser were among the 35 members of the Matawan High School Debating Club to attend their annual banquet at Ocean Grove the previous week.

Millicent's mother attended the Home Economics Exposition in Long Branch with Mrs Richard Heuser, according to the 31 July 1925 edition of the Matawan Journal.

The 17 October 1930 edition of The Matawan Journal notes that Miss Milly Macaroff and Ralph Heuser were among those who attended the Brown-Princeton game that week.

Millicent delivered a 5 lb baby boy at Perth Amboy Hospital on 10 July 1935, according to The Matawan Journal of 12 July. The article identifies her as the former Millicent Macaroff of Cliffwood and her husband as Ralph S Heuser, a partner in the law firm Heuser and Heuser. Millicent and Ralph lived in Matawan at the time.

The 15 May 1947 edition of The Matawan Journal reported that Millicent's father, who lived at Ravine Drive and Aberdeen Road, had required a visit from the first aid squad, which gave him oxygen. He died seven years later on 29 November 1954, according to the 23 December 1954 edition of The Matawan Journal, pg 2. Her mother survived him.  The Ravine Drive & Aberdeen Road intersection was referred to in several pieces of official business in The Journal (1930s and 1940s) as the Macaroff Corner.

There was a party for Millicent at the Don Quixote Inn on Route 34 on 6 January 1965 in honor of her 80th birthday, according to the 14 January 1965 edition of The Matawan Journal, pg 5.

Millicent's obituary appeared on the front page of the 5 August 1965 edition of The Matawan Journal:

Mrs. Ralph S. Heuser Sr. Dies At Home In Matawan

Mrs. Millicent (Macaroff) Heuser, wife of Ralph S. Heuser Sr., 322 Main St., Matawan, died at her home on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 1965, after a short illness.

Mrs. Heuser had lived in the Matawan area most of her life. She was the daughter of the late Nicholas Macaroff and Mrs. Nancy Macaroff, Matawan. Mrs. Heuser was the first president and a charter member of the Matawan Junior Woman's Club. She also was a former member of the Matawan Public Health Association.

Surviving in addition to her mother and her husband, are a son, Ralph S. Heuser, Jr., magistrate of Matawan Borough; a daughter, Miss Millicent Heuser, at home; three grandchildren and two sisters, Mrs. Fred Allen Jr., Matawan, and Mrs. Ronald Provost, Teaneck.

Funeral services will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Bedle Funeral Home, Matawan. Interment will be in Old Tennent Cemetery, Tennent.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Another Friday @ Espresso Joe's

Casey Heinzmann was one of three performers on Friday's coffee house billing at Espresso Joe's on West Front Street in Keyport. Cat Cosentino and others perform there Saturday at 7 pm.

For more information on shows at Espresso Joe's, check their calendar of events at Reverb Nation.

Defino Paves the Way in Ocean County

Defino Contracting of Industrial Drive in Cliffwood Beach is pictured doing some state-funded sidewalk renovations along Route 9 in Ocean County in Barnegat-Ocean Acres Patch.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

News Update as of 24 March 2011

An eight-year-old from a Sayreville elementary school took the wrong bus home last Friday and ended up stranded and alone in the Wehrle Bus company parking lot in Cliffwood, according to NBC New York. The kid cried then started walking home across the Garden State Parkway, where he was discovered and returned to his mother at Eisenhower Elementary.

Lori Singer in Footloose.
Lea Ostner of Matawan will reprise Lori Singer's role in St John Vianney's spring musical Footloose, per Holmdel Patch.

Matawan plans 325th anniversary celebration this summer, per The Independent.

Plainfield resident arrested in Clark on outstanding warrants from Matawan and elsewhere, per Clark-Garwood Patch. 

The owners of Little Hidden Farm in Holmdel ask that drivers, runners, and cyclists heading for Holmdel Park follow some simple rules when they have to pass a horse and rider on Longstreet Road. A rider from Matawan and his horse are the subject of an insanely short video clip in this Holmdel Patch article.

NJ Salt Water Fisherman includes a picture of a man's grandson holding the striper he caught on Sunday at Cliffwood Beach.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

News Updates as of 23 March 2011

A Matawan man is charged with abandoning his Shih Tzu, which he reportedly tied to a tree in the Quik Chek parking lot on Main Street and left, according to APP.

Jared Allison, of Matawan Regional High School, has been chosen to play in the North-South All-Star Football Game on 27 June 2011 at Kean University in Union, per the Newark Star-Ledger.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Short Stroll Through Matawan on the Hudson Trail

We took a walk today on the Henry Hudson Trail between Church Street and Route 79 in Matawan. We parked in the old Broad Street School parking lot off Church Street. We had the trail pretty much to ourselves. A young man was out with his son, who was making his way on a two-wheeler with training wheels. And a group of cyclists passed us.

The trail gives one a unique perspective on Matawan. You'll find yourself nearly a football field away from Broad Street with a different view of CVS, Walgreens, Mullaney's Tires, and Stewart's. You'll get a glimpse of Gravelly Brook and be surprised at how close the park is to Chicken Holiday on foot.

The Hudson Trail remains incomplete through our area. You can go north and east on the trail from Oak Shades near the corner of Lloyd Road, Gerard, and Clark. Or you can head south from Church Street in a different points in town. The section in between is overgrown, yet to be developed. Hopefully the county will complete the trail once the southern sections are finished.
I encourage you to take a stroll one day this spring and explore the Hudson Trail.
Entrance to Hudson Trail on Church Street near Broad Street in Matawan
The Hudson Trail has been cleared and paved a few blocks north of the Church Street entrance. That part of the trail parallels Orchard Street.
Another view of an old factory building along Church Street at the Hudson Trail.
Aberdeen Township has a redevelopment property across the street from the old factory on Church Street. The Hudson Trail passes by this large fenced in vacant lot on one side and the former Broad Street School property on the other.
The Hudson Trail follows an old rail line between Matawan and Freehold.
The Hudson Trail crosses Route 34 near Broad Street.
A view of Route 34 North from the Hudson Trail overpass.
The view of Route 34 South from the Hudson Trail overpass.
Gravelly Brook crosses under Route 34 within sight of the Hudson Trail.
Detail of Gravelly Brook south of Route 34.
Gravelly Brook just north of Route 34 near the Hudson Trail overpass.
Another view of Gravelly Brook north of Route 34.
Heavy brush covers the area between the Hudson Trail and the treeline that marks the Gravelly Brook ravine south of Route 34.
Gravelly Brook Park can be seen through the woods.
The Hudson Trail passes near where Broad Street meets Route 79.
A cycling club passed us along our way.

Old Tech Gives Sheriff's Office Pause

I recently wrote a blog article about the proposed county budget's likely negative effect on 9-1-1 services, a large percentage of which are handled through the Monmouth County Communications Center. APP recently reported a brief interruption in power that caused 9-1-1 services to be redirected to local police departments. A spokeswoman said the Center was built in 1982 and its old infrastructure caused the outage. Hopefully the sheriff intends to spend what's necessary to upgrade the facility so this doesn't continue to happen. My confidence in Sheriff Golden's interest in upgrading technology is low given that the Sheriff's Office website continues as www.sheriffguadagno.com nearly three months after Sheriff Guadagno left the post.

Matawan Woman Joins CPA Firm in Edison

Yvonne Trella of Matawan has been named Managing Director at Mironov, Sloan, and Parziale, LLC of Edison, per APP.

Stripers at Cliffwood Beach

Stripers are starting to hit back bay spots like Cliffwood Beach and Keyport, per APP.

History: Racial Conflict at Matawan Regional HS - Late Sept 1970

The front page of The Matawan Journal's 1 October 1970 edition contains reporting of racial tensions at the high school that eventually flared into riots and marauding youths. Some interesting materials for the African-Americans in The Matawan Journal series.

The reporting suggests at one point that the violence could have been caused by outsiders, possibly students or adults from rival schools stirring the pot before some important football games. At other times there are mentions that the violence was actually planned ahead of time or an unfortunate result of overcrowding at the high school. However it started, once there was violence, fear took over and rumors started to fly, turning things in the community even uglier.  The Journal reported many of the rumors without comment, which might not have been the best approach. Police and school officials seemed to take a reasonable approach once they caught up with events, but the news coverage suggests that neither had their ears to the ground on this.

There is a stark difference between that school district and its current iteration. We should be thankful that our kids get along and strive to do so ourselves.

On a technical note, the online scanned images for this paper are abysmal, so I retrieved the original newspaper from the library archives, photocopied the articles, and transcribed them below for the record.

Five Days Student Turmoil

Racial conflicts flared anew at Matawan Regional High School during the past week following an outbreak at a dance on Friday night. Monday and Tuesday were tense days and nights for police, school, municipal authorities and parents, but rain last night cooled things somewhat and all are hopeful that tensions will ease when school resumes Monday after being closed today and tomorrow for the Jewish holiday.

Non-students as well as students suffered in the resulting violence. Harold F Dolan, a former president of the Matawan Regional Board of Education, who sought to disperse a group of youths who entered his property on Atlantic Avenue at the height of the disturbances Friday night received a cut on the arm before he drove the youths off.

This same group of 30 young Negroes were reported by another Atlantic Avenue householder to have smashed a $350 picture window of his home and a woman reported her car was stoned and a window broken as she sought to turn into the driveway of her home. The offenders were reported as fleeing into the woods to avoid detection, but it was the opinion of school authorities they were some of the out-of-towners who had invaded the pep rally and dance the night before the first football game.

The ostensible cause of the disturbance was a quarrel between a white and Negro girl over a pair of shoes. But there were those who spurned this simple explanation of the incitement to the trouble. Stanley Pianko, deputy mayor of Matawan Township, confirmed last night he had spoken with township police about rumors that there would be trouble Friday. Mayor Hans Froehlich, after the outburst, was critical of the judgment of the school authorities to permit the dance to go on in view of advance indications that all was not well among the student body.

Last night Mr Pianko took strong exception to a daily newspaper report quoting John J Bradley, president of the Board of Education, purporting to censure Mr Pianko for not warning school authorities if he knew there was going to be trouble. "I don't buy that," was Mr Pianko's comment.

Township Police Chief Ralph E Wallace indicated his department was taken by surprise by the fact the affair was not restricted to Matawan students in that only two police officers, Sgt Theodore Lefkowich and Patrolman Rocco Polizzato, were assigned to be on hand.

"Anybody who had a buck could get in," the chief commented with respect to the reported attendance of outsiders from Red Bank and Freehold.

Sgt Ralph Medolla, on patrol with Patrolman William Andrews that night, reported receiving a walkie-talkie radio report from Sgt Lefkowich at 10 pm that rumors of trouble brewing had reached the officers on the scene. A call to go to the school cafeteria at 10:15 pm resulted in Sgt Medolla and Patrolman Andrews finding the doors to it chained, and they had to squeeze in through a window.

Two Girls in A Fight

Sgt Medolla did find the white and Negro girl embroiled, the white girl charging her shoes had been stolen. When the Negro girl denied knowledge of to whom the shoes belonged, the shoes were yielded to the white girl. This seemed to be all the provocation the adherents of the girls battling over the shoes needed as right away hostilities broke out and swept to every area of the dance floor.  Sgt Medolla reported seeing Patrolman Andrews surrounded by about 100 youths, mostly Negroes, then 15 black students "jumping him" with the officer trying to subdue the one leading the attack. The officer floored another who interfered, letting the main offender get away. The second one to attack the officer was taken into custody for resisting arrest.

Sight of a white youth cornered on a table top by 50 blacks led to a call by Sgt Lefkowich to borough police for aid. It came quickly so that an announcement by Sgt Medolla at 10:40 pm that the dance was over could reach a quelled group of combatants.

Then came the problem of five police trying to disperse a crowd of nearly 500 out on the school lawn cursing and threatening. More borough police re-enforcements dissuaded at Atlantic Avenue and Little Street those who sought to turn towards the borough. Those who continued down Atlantic Avenue were the ones to become involved in the incidents there.

First aid ambulances joined police at the high school grounds. One white youth was taken to Riverview Hospital from a blow with a timber. A girl beaten at Third Street needed medical attention. Riverview Hospital reported treating a third Matawan student for hurts that night.

John Bolger, Spring Lake, a teacher at Lloyd Road School, visiting friends in Matawan Friday night, told police that as he came out to get in his car he was set upon by six Negro youths near the high school for no discernible reason other than that he must have been confused in the darkness for a white high school student.

One Negro youth told of being threatened by whites with a gun. The whites in a car got away, but the license was picked up by observers. But when the car was stopped in the borough, no weapons were found. However, the Negroes were insistent in their report of being threatened.

Police reported two Negro boys assisting a badly beaten white boy into the shelter of the school building to await first aid attention.

Three nights later, Monday, guns were reality.

But, in the interim, the Matawan-Middletown football game was played and blacks and whites on the Matawan squad gave no evidence on the playing field that there had ever been any disruption in the Matawan camp the night before. But there was a notable lack of black rooters in the Matawan stands.

Many Fear The Worst

Then came that Monday. On Sunday, the day before a moving van or two in Strathmore, then, at 10:30 pm, a call from a mother in tones of agonized fear that she would not be sending her daughter to high school the next day because she was believing a rumor that there would be new trouble.

Monday morning, more concerned reports came in. Councilwoman Patricia Wills cautioned of white boys armed heavily gathering at a popular hamburger spot. A store manager called in that there could be confrontations of whites and blacks in the parking lots of Acme, A&P, and Shop Rite that night.

A call came in the late morning about gunfire reported from the area of the high school. A call was received from a woman about a threat that the Cliffwood Beach area would be fire-bombed that night. Then there was a rumor Negro youth would throw Molotov cocktails into Strathmore homes that night in revenge for damage supposedly done to Negroes' homes in Cliffwood.

At 11 am there was a warning that a bomb was to be planted. A report was received that a bomb had been planted in the school. The school was emptied. In lunch hour, there was more trouble, whites and Negroes in separate knots, calling names and some fisticuffs.

White Caravan Of "War"

Later in the day, the area of the school at time to go home was swarming with police, patrol cars, ambulances. Three Negroes were taken in custody for loitering on the school grounds.

Then, the nightfall - the recollection of fears of the store managers that there would be mass fighting in the large parking areas of the chain stores. Tempers were heightened by word a 16-year white student, a junior at the high school was severely beaten about the face by Negroes. Verification of the rumors about the chain stores being sites of battle that night as police rounded up Negroes advancing at Cliffwood Avenue and Route 35 on the A&P lot with sticks and tire chains. Then a caravan of whites, 10 cars, 53 youths in all - a hammer thrown into the windshield of one car, a girl cut about the face.

Borough police with carbines and tin "war" hats intercepted the caravan, hustling them back to the council room at borough hall - the 53 held behind closed doors while the "riot" act was read them, some booked but not held.

Tuesday - dawned a chilly cooling-off day. Police were in the school, in the school area.

Tuesday night, a poorly kept secret, the rumble center to be at the Cat N' Fiddle. But Matawan Township and Madison Township police were there first, the roads of access blocked off in Cliffwood Beach, no rumble, the combatants could not make it. Three adults and a juvenile were taken into custody by Matawan Borough police for defiance of an officer's orders and having the makings of weapons.

Yesterday ... a new report in fear that homes in Cliffwood Beach were to be firebombed last night.. but last night it rained and nobody was out.

Mayor Irked At Cost of Unrest

Mayor Victor Armellino, Matawan Borough, expressed annoyance last night at the handling of the student disorders situation by the Regional Board of Education. He said he was aware all the added costs of it came out of the same taxpayers' pocket, be it school or municipal, but he felt that the extra expenses should come out of the school board's and not the municipal budgets.

Yesterday attempts were made to cool down the situation. A "rap" session between a panel of five from each the whites and Negroes was held. Dr John F McKenna, superintendent, said this morning he was somewhat disappointed in the resulst, that the session started off well enough but, as it ended, and in the student attitudes afterward, he felt "the progress we had hoped for" had not been made. Dialogue did continue, he observed.

The superintendent was inclined to blame much of the trouble on the over-crowded condition of the high school. He said that the pushing against one another in crowded hallways during passing to classes resulted, as he saw it, in irritations and provocative incidents, pupils accusing one another of offenses never deliberate or intended.

Upperclassmen Talks

The dialogue yesterday was between junion and senior students. Dr McKenna felt that with a lapse of four days of school being closed (today and tomorrow for the Jewish holy days) there would be a cooling off period that would provide a better atmosphere for approaches between ninth and tenth grade pupils on Monday. Dr McKenna blamed the spreading of rumors and the building up of minor things into inflammatory major reports as they were exaggerated from mouth to mouth for a lot of the trouble.

Last night the Rev Paul L Jackson, First Baptist Church, acting for the Matawan ministerium, addressed a large gathering of whites on the situation while Det Sgt Stanley Parrish, Matawan Township Police, was doing the same with a group of black students. A hopeful note came out of these gatherings.

Lt Det John McGinty said this morning there are only four juvenile complaints on file in the township and no charges against those 18 or over as a result of the week's disturbances.

While a junior varsity football game was called off Monday and a cross-country meet was moved out of town, school officials saw no occasion to do anything about the varsity football game to be held at Long Branch Saturday.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Aberdeen Cares to Help Elderly, Infirm

The Daily Record published a story Friday morning about Aberdeen Cares, a new community service program sponsored by the Township to help elderly and infirm residents with chores like mowing lawns, cleaning gutters, and food shopping. The Township's press release says the idea came to the Council after the Mayor asked for residents to help their neighbors with snow shoveling this winter.

There's plenty of need for such volunteer work in our community. The First Presbyterian Church of Matawan has been helping the needy in the region with painting, yard jobs, etc, for what will be nine years this June with its Mission Matawan program, but it is only one week a year and the need is great. It's wonderful that the Township is getting involved.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

NPR May Soon Mean No Public Radio

The House of Representatives voted today 228-192 in favor of cutting Federal funding to National Public Radio (NPR). The bill also blocks the use of Federal funds by local radio stations to purchase any content -- left, right, or center.  The bill especially hurts small broadcasters, according to the LA Times. Once again we end up with a few shekels in our pockets, if that, at considerable cost to our quality of life. And there is no resolution to the problems we face. It's ridiculous.

Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts - PIFA 2011

The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) runs 7 April through 1 May 2011. The town looks to be going all out to attract visitors to an assortment of performances, galleries, etc. You can sign up at the website to get emails about upcoming events.

9th Annual Garden State Film Festival

The 9th Annual Garden State Film Festival will be held in Asbury Park from 31 March to 3 April 2011.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Gipper Favored Collective Bargaining

"Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost."

Matawan Woman Arrested at Kohl's for Shoplifting

A Matawan woman was arrested for shoplifting a week ago Sunday at Kohl's in Holmdel, according to Patch.

Oh My County

Monmouth County is challenging Fourth Graders to create "My County" posters that reveal what they think of their county. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place awards will be chosen from submissions. Good luck to Lloyd Road students!

If I was making a poster, I would draw a quick picture of members of the Board of School Estimate reviewing the budget of Brookdale Community College. I understand that takes them about fifteen minutes, so maybe a still life isn't an option.

History: Matawan School Board Elections, 16 Mar 1911

The front page of the 16 March 1911 edition of The Matawan Journal had an article about the Matawan Township school board vote coming up on 21 March at 8 o'clock. The school budget was a whopping $3,975. Herbert Burlew, L H Stemler, and C W Hulsart were reportedly amenable to run for another term on the board.

Women were to be allowed to vote for the budget appropriation but not for the board members.


The 1910 Federal Census for New Jersey shows a farmer in Matawan Township named Louis Stemler, age 45, born in New Jersey to German parents. He and his wife Mary (46) had been married 20 years earlier and had no children. His brother Christian was living with them, as were 3 foreign workers (1 German, 2 Poles). They lived on Old Bridge Road.

Herbert Burlew, age 43, lived on Freehold Road in the Township. He lived with his wife Louise, age 34 and sons Conover (16), Fred (15), and Fountain (13). Herbert and Louise had been married 18 years and had lost a child. Herbert was a farmer.

Charles Hulsart, age 57, and his wife Mildred (50) lived on Holmdel Mill Road with 18 year old twin daughters Mildred and Marjory. The couple had been married 33 years. Only 3 of their 6 children were still alive at the time. Mildred was from New York. Charles was a farmer.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Beannacht to Play at Espresso Joe's in Keyport

Beannacht at JAMA on Saturday night. (Photo: Steve Stanger)
Espresso Joe's on West Front Street in Keyport is celebrating St Paddy's Day on Friday evening. Three acts will perform starting at 7 pm, including Beannacht, named the best new act at the 2nd Annual Jersey Acoustic Music (JAM) Awards last Saturday night. Dan Toye and Vinny Kyne/Mary Shannon will also appear. There's never a cover charge at Espresso Joe's.

Sunday Afternoon at Longstreet Farm

We spent a sunny but breezy Sunday afternoon at Longstreet Farm. This historically accurate and fully operational 1890s-era farm is located near Route 34 in Holmdel Park in Holmdel, NJ.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Young Cliffwood Beach Fan Gets NJ Devils Autographs

A photograph of Connor Brown, a young NJ Devils fan from Cliffwood Beach appears in Wednesday's Register. He was waiting in line to get autographs of Devils stars -- past and present -- who appeared 3 March at a celebration of the 40th anniversary of Ford's Jewelers.

MAMS Team Places at DOE NJ Regional Science Bowl

Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School (MAMS) participated once again in the US Department of Enegry (DOE) New Jersey Regional Science Bowl competition at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). This year's team, advised by Sean Cronin, included Ananya Joshi (8th grade), Mario Liu (8th grade), Athul Nair (8th grade), Rafal Stapinski (8th grade), and Tyler Marolda (6th grade).

Glenfield Middle School from Montclair won high honors and will move up to the National Science Bowl in May. MAMS came in a respectable third place.

You can read about the year's regional event in considerably more detail in this Department of Energy news release. Background on the 2011 National Science Bowl process can be found here.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Matawan-Aberdeen School Board Approves 2011-2012 District Calendar

The 2011-2012 MARSD calendar has been approved and is now available online.

Here's a few of the major items:
  • Students start school next year on the Tuesday after Labor Day (6 September). 
  • Winter break begins with a half day on 23 December 2011 and runs through New Year's Day. 
  • Spring break begins with a halfday on 5 April and runs through 15 April 2012. 
  • The last day of school is a half day scheduled for 20 June 2012.
If you want to receive notices from MARSD, simply click REGISTER in the top right corner of the District's website and follow their instructions. (Be sure the box is checked to receive mail from the district.)

Patch Coming to Matawan-Aberdeen

Patch is a growing media phenomenon on the web. Their local hubs are providing news that the big papers simply can't. And we're due to get our own reporter soon. They've already set up a website. They offer a way for prospective readers to sign up to be notified when the site gets underway. I just signed up.Check the other locations -- they're now in Middletown, Holmdel and down the shore.

Matawan Reg HS 2011 Spring Musical - The Wedding Singer

Source: Wikimedia
Matawan Regional High School's spring musical will be The Wedding Singer. Shows are scheduled for 31 March through 3 April 2011. Tickets will be $10. (Someone at the school should address the information page, which doesn't carry performance dates or times.)

Here's a classic section of the movie on which the show is based. This scene features a very young Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, and a plane full of cupids.  (Sorry, but I have to issue a chick flick alert.)

2011 Spring Forward

Don't forget to set your clocks and watches ahead tonight. (If my microwave has a microchip, why doesn't it reset itself?)

Golden Budget May Undercut Sheriff's 9-1-1 Empire

The Monmouth County Sheriff's Department plans to postpone the hiring of ten 9-1-1 dispatchers and a systems analyst for its Communications Center in order to trim their portion of the county budget, based on statements provided by a spokesman for Sheriff Shaun Golden on 8 March and published the next day in APP.

Consider the growing obligations of the Center and ask yourself why the sheriff was once seeking 11 new staffers and now suddenly can afford to forgo them. The Center thought they needed more staff to handle emergency calls, and now they don't? Looks like they still do. The Center handles 9-1-1 calls for 44 out of 53 (83%) of our county's municipalities, as well as dispatches for 9 police departments, 32 fire departments, and 24 first aid squads, according to an Oct 2010 news release.  Plus the sheriff recently took control of the county's Office of Emergency Management (OEM), which he himself says relies heavily on 9-1-1 reports to coordinate regional disasters, according to a Feb 2011 news release.

The sheriff says that revenue from shared service agreements with local municipalities, such as centralized 9-1-1 services,  increased this past year and he plans to seek even more deals this year to raise still more revenue, according to APP. This may be good for the county budget, but it will lead to an ever increasing workload on the Center's static number of personnel.  And what of municipalities that are putting their trust in the county 9-1-1 system? Places like Freehold and Fair Haven have cut municipal costs by paying the county to answer the phone when an emergency arises. Will the Center effectively handle their calls without adequate staffing?

These are only the latest negative changes to New Jersey's quality of life to trickle down to us from Governor Christie's cuts in state aid.

New Brookdale President Introduces Himself

Dr William Toms
Dr William Toms, the new President of Brookdale Community College, posted an introductory message on the school's website. He has replaced Peter Burnham, who at 66 years of age decided to retire rather than struggle to operate the school while under fire from county officials and prosecutors.

2011 Princeton Poetry Festival

The 2011 Princeton Poetry Festival will be held Friday 29 April and Saturday 30 April 2011. Keep in mind that our local Revolutionary War poet laureate Philip Freneau, for whom the Freneau area of town is named and who is buried here, was a member of Princeton University's Class of 1771.

2 Local Construction Contractors Arrested

A couple of contractors from the Old Bridge section of Cliffwood Beach have been arrested and charged with making false contract payment claims while doing business with the Westfield and Scotch Plains-Fanwood school districts, according to the NJ Attorney General's Office.

School District Engineer and Three Contractors Charged with Bid Rigging, Inflating School Contracts and Illegal Kickbacks
Westfield School District Business Administrator charged with taking bribes from contractor

TRENTON – Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced that an engineer who oversaw construction projects for three school districts was charged today with taking thousands of dollars in kickbacks on contracts he recommended that allegedly involved rigged bids and fraudulently inflated costs. The business administrator for the Westfield School District and three contractors were also charged today.

According to Director Taylor, Kenneth Disko, 47, of Mountainside, allegedly orchestrated a series of bid-rigging and kickback schemes from 2001 to 2010 as the contracted engineer or engineer/architect on record for the Westfield, Tinton Falls and Scotch Plains-Fanwood school districts. He was charged with second-degree making false contract payment claims.

It is alleged that Disko knowingly prepared fraudulent quotes and estimates in connection with school district contracts, and directed contractors to inflate quotes and estimates. He allegedly submitted those quotes and estimates to the three school districts and recommended approval of the fraudulently bid contracts in exchange for more than $80,000 in kickbacks from contractors. The investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau is continuing.

Three contractors were charged with making false contract payment claims (2nd degree):

* John Sangiuliano, 56, of Scotch Plains, co-owner of Metropolitan Metal Window Company;
* Martin W. Starr, 44, of Cliffwood Beach, owner of Starr Contracting; and
* Stephen M. Gallagher, 50, of Cliffwood Beach, owner of East Commercial Construction and Tara Construction.

In addition, Westfield School District Business Administrator and Board Secretary Robert A. Berman, 55, of South Plainfield, was charged with second-degree bribery for allegedly accepting over $13,000 worth of window glass and doors installed at his home by Metropolitan from 2004 to 2008, in return for making written recommendations that the Westfield Board of Education appoint Metropolitan as the district’s “contractor of record.”

“We allege that this engineer corrupted the contracting process in three school districts where he worked, taking more than $80,000 in kickbacks from contractors who overcharged the districts for school repairs and renovations,” said Attorney General Dow. “These defendants allegedly cheated the taxpayers who fund these districts, as well as the students who might have benefited from the thousands of dollars that were misappropriated.”

“We charge that the business administrator for the Westfield School District accepted expensive home repairs, free of charge, from a company that he repeatedly recommended for a lucrative appointment as the district’s contractor of record,” said Director Taylor. “We will not tolerate this type of illegal, self-serving conduct by public officials.”

The investigation was conducted and coordinated for the Division of Criminal Justice by Sgt. Lisa Shea, Detective Michael Behar and Deputy Attorney General Vincent J. Militello.

It is alleged that, in bidding on contracts for the Westfield and Tinton Falls school districts, Sangiuliano, at Disko’s direction, knowingly prepared fraudulent quotes bearing the names of other legitimate contractors, making the quotes higher than his own. He submitted the quotes to Disko, who recommended that the contracts be awarded to Sangiuliano’s company, Metropolitan. It is also alleged that, at the direction of Disko, Sangiuliano knowingly inflated Metropolitan’s quotes and the cost of repairs for the contracts. In exchange for the inflated contracts, Sangiuliano allegedly gave kickbacks to Disko in excess of $36,000 in 2009 and 2010. It is alleged that Disko also received more than $44,000 in kickbacks from a prior owner of Metropolitan who is now deceased for contracts awarded to Metropolitan from 2001 to 2004.

In bidding one contract in the Westfield schools, Disko allegedly told Sangiuliano he would include the replacement of seven windows in the scope of work for the bidding specifications, even though those seven windows had been recently replaced by Sangiuliano. This allegedly enabled Sangiuliano to bid lower than other contractors, knowing he would not have to replace the windows. Sangiuliano was awarded the job. He allegedly also kept an additional $18,000 in “bid allowances” for unforeseen work that was approved by Disko as the architect/engineer of record. Sangiuliano, in fact, did not perform any unforeseen or additional work on the project.

It is further alleged that between 2004 and 2008, Sangiuliano installed free window glass and doors, valued at over $13,000, in Berman’s home in exchange for Berman’s recommendation of Metropolitan as contractor of record for the Westfield School District. The contractor of record is contracted on an ongoing basis to handle school repairs and construction projects that arise.

The charge against Starr involves contracts worth approximately $39,530 that were awarded to Starr Contracting by the Westfield and Scotch Plains-Fanwood districts. In 2009 and 2010, Starr allegedly prepared fictitious quotes from legitimate contractors without their permission and submitted them to Disko in order to appear to be the lowest bidder for the contracts.

It is alleged that Gallagher helped Starr to obtain those contracts in the Westfield and Scotch Plains-Fanwood districts by preparing fraudulent and fictitious quotes and estimates for his own companies and submitting them to Disko as higher bids than those submitted by Starr. Also, in connection with other contracts that were awarded to Gallagher’s companies in the Westfield and Scotch Plains-Fanwood districts, Gallagher allegedly inflated quotes and the cost of work performed. In return for the inflated contracts, Gallagher allegedly gave cash kickbacks to Disko.

Starr and Gallagher were arrested this morning on complaint-warrants by detectives from the Division of Criminal Justice. They were lodged in the Union County Jail with bail set for each at $50,000. Disko, Sangiuliano and Berman were charged by complaint-summonses. Second-degree charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of $150,000. The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The charges will be presented to a state grand jury for potential indictment.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Red Cross Seeks Donations After Tough Winter

The Jersey Coast Chapter of the Red Cross is seeking donations after a very tough winter. The News Transcript reports that the chapter needs funds to replenish its resources after setting up numerous disaster shelters because of heavy snow and power outages. Plus, all that snow made collections difficult for the chapter's bloodmobiles, so blood supplies are running low. Do what you can. Please support the American Red Cross.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Striped Bass Season Begins at Cliffwood Beach

It is striped bass season at Cliffwood Beach, according to Shore11. Winter flounder season begins on 23 March.

Temple Shalom Organizing COA Beach Sweep in May

Temple Shalom in Aberdeen will be hosting a Clean Ocean Action (COA) Beach Sweep on Sunday 22 May 2011. Participants will meet at Temple Shalom at 9:30 am for a breakfast  presentation by COA's Pollution Prevention Coordinator Tavia Danch on keeping the health of the shore. At 10:30 am, the group will caravan over to Cliffwood Beach, the target of the day's shore cleanup activities. Volunteers are encouraged to submit an interest form so organizers can get an idea of how many people to expect.  If you go directly to the cleanup event, seek out a beach captain for your assignment.

Tips for a Successful Sweep
  • Attend rain or shine
  • Bring and wear gloves
  • Dress for the weather
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Wear closed, hard-soled shoes
  • Stay away from large drums
  • Be careful of sharp objects
  • Stay out of dunes
  • Respect wildlife
  • Do not lift anything too heavy

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Another Ding for Academic Statistics As A Measure of Success

Brookdale Community College (BCC) gets a bad rap in the realm of graduation statistics and I think it is unfair. The school issued 9.6% (1,718) of all associates degrees awarded by community colleges in the state of New Jersey last year (17,984), second only to Bergen County CC (1,867).  That percentage is roughly a percentage equivalent to BCC's enrollment figures, indicating a fair balance between those coming in and those leaving. Enrollment of first-time freshmen at BCC in Fall 2009 (4,103) was 9.3% of all such enrollments among NJ community colleges (45,112). What's not to like?

The Graduation Rate Survey (GRS) requires that a student complete his/her program within three years of entering school or the student's receipt of a diploma will not be counted. In other words, a student is a failure if he/she does not complete the program in the time they've allotted. If a student goes part time or his/her education is interrupted for some reason, the student's eventual achievement of graduation is ignored. It simply does not count in the school's overall performance statistics. In my opinion, the GRS grossly underrepresents graduations under special circumstances, and what is community college in New Jersey if not special circumstances?

Let's look at the statistics from a few years to get an idea of what I mean:
  • In 2006, 2,782 students entered BCC but only 600 of that cohort graduated in the required 3 years, a 21.6% graduation rate. But 1,588 students graduated in 2009, a mixture of those 600 plus some stragglers from previous years.
  • In 2005, 2,667 students entered BCC but only 536 of that cohort graduated in the required 3 years, a 20.1% graduation rate. But 1,768 students graduated in 2008, a mixture of those 536 plus some stragglers from previous years.
  • In 2004, 2,522 students entered BCC but only 424 of that cohort graduated in the required 3 years, a 16.8% graduation rate. But 1,632 students graduated in 2007, a mixture of those 424 plus some stragglers from previous years.

You can easily see that around 80% of students are not meeting the GRS requirement of completing their educations in 36 months. But if you take the total admissions for 2004-2006 (7,971) and consider graduations that occurred in 2007-2009 (4,988), you come to a whopping 62% graduation rate. Admittedly it requires a bit of fuzzy logic, because the students who started three years earlier weren't always the ones who finished that year, but it is obvious that quite a few of these students are finishing or the total annual awards wouldn't be so high..

Maybe the gross figure is the one Trenton should be looking at for this fine school? I think they've been looking at the wrong figures to measure the success of community colleges, if numbers could ever tell the tale.

As for enrollment of noncredit students at BCC, such students (15,551) were 8.5% of all such enrollments last year at NJ community colleges (182,000), putting BCC in 4th place after the more heavily populated counties of Essex (15.2%), Union (9.8%) and Bergen (9.2%). BCC has a heavy load of noncredit students and serves them well.

Lots of adults are going back to school for various reasons -- some take cooking classes, auto mechanics, or computer sciences, but others are handling meatier subjects like calculus, middle east history, or environmental studies. These students are back to beef up their resumes or to make a better beef consume. All seek to improve themselves. And BCC offers that to them, year in and year out.

PacificHealth Laboratories Expects Profitable 2nd Quarter

PacificHealth Laboratories, Inc, an Aberdeen-based sports nutrition company, has streamlined its business after a rough ride through a bad economy, according to Marketwire. Their revenues last year were down 10% to $7.2 million, but their losses were cut more than half to - $0.05 per share. An advertising campaign already underway is expected to bring them back into the black in the second quarter.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Jon Stewart and the Targeting of Teachers

Thursday evening's Daily Show included an amazing piece on the recent attacks on teachers. Jon Stewart's commentary was even discussed in The Washington Post. I've included the video below. I highly recommend it. He also interviewed Diane Ravitch on her new book The Death and Life of the Great American School System.

Matawan Driver Charged With DUI in Warren

A Matawan man was arrested in Warren over a week ago for driving under the influence in a school zone and numerous other charges, according to NJ.com. He reportedly had an open container in the car when he had a fender bender near Central Elementary School at 8:46 am.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Piegari Sees Local Tax Relief Resulting from Governor's Token Increase in School Aid

Trenton is promising to restore 20% of the state aid we lost last year, leaving our school district only $2 million short of the annual state aid level we were receiving two years ago and earlier. Acting MARSD School Superintendent Patrick Piegari foresees the preservation of programs as well as considerable tax relief to local residents as a result of this -$4.5 million benevolence we'll have enjoyed over the past two years from Governor Christie.

What utter nonsense.

I'm not sure what to think of The Independent's coverage of this. Their article's highly ambiguous perspective protects their equities in a county where many residents subscribe to libertarianism. "School Districts React" isn't exactly a bold statement. I was pleased to see Holmdel's dubious response to the unexpected aid, but then Piegari's comments come along to suggest that happy days are here again. Maybe I'm missing the subtleties?

Matawan Regional School District Soon To Be 50

The above picture, which appeared on the front page of the 22 June 1961 edition of The Matawan Journal, documents the final meeting of the Matawan Township Consolidated School District on 20 June 1961.
The Matawan Regional School District began operations 50 years ago on 1 July 1961. It replaced the Matawan Township Consolidated District, which was formed in 1895, a year before the Borough was established. A referendum to amend the district's constitution to more fairly represent the two municipalities in a regional entity was held in the Matawans on 1 June 1961. It passed overwhelmingly in both communities.

Since representation was now to be based on population, the new Board would consist of 5 members from the Township and 4 members from the Borough. To be properly balanced, 3 Borough residents' terms had to be cut short and 3 Township members added.  The Monmouth County Superintendent of Schools handled the arrangements, including the naming of new members. He also set an organizational meeting for 26 June.

3 Borough members were to leave the Board:
  1. Thomas J Siddons (3 years remaining)
  2. John P Kane (2 years remaining)
  3. Floyd R Brown (1 year remaining)
4 Borough members and 2 Township members were to be retained:
  1. Harold J Dolan
  2. Roy S Matthews
  3. Daniel J Heaney
  4. John J Bradley
  5. Alfred Manville
  6. Mrs Esther Rinear
3 Township members were to be added:
  1. The Reverend Francis Osterstock was Pastor of the Bayview Presbyterian Church. He had graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1955 and been Bayview's pastor since that time. He was past president of the Keyport-Matawan Area Council of Churches and a member of the Matawan Library Board.
  2. Joseph Stenger, of Route 34, was President of the Township Planning Board and vice chairman of the industrial commission. He was 31, married, with two children. He worked as a bank cashier and had been a Township resident for 21 years.
  3. Adam H Gurnicz, of 418 Prospect Avenue, Cliffwood Beach, was a World War II veteran, having served in the US Army Air Corps. He was married with 3 children and worked as a draftsman in Perth Amboy. He had been a Township resident for 10 years.
 Please note that Matawan Regional High School's Class of 1961, the last to graduate under the consolidated structure, plans to hold its 50th reunion at The Buttonwood Manor on Route 34 on 14 May 2011, per APP.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    Tire Breaches Windshield, Kills Old Bridge Driver

    Russell Seratelli, 47, was killed on Sunday evening near Exit 138 on the Garden State Parkway when a tire and rim came free from a car heading north, crossed the median, and crashed through his windshield. His daughter, a passenger, was unhurt. See details in NJ.com. His son, a minor league infielder, left training camp and is heading home, according to MLB.

    Mr Seratelli had been a resident of Old Bridge for the past16 years, according to his obituary. He was a Vice President at LCI Graphics Inc of Bloomfield.

    Note: The above text is revised. An earlier version, based on Newark Star-Ledger reporting, erroneously stated that Mr Seratelli was a resident of Matawan. Sorry for the confusion.