A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Trenton Attempts to Herd Cats; Amazed When They Do What They Want

Governor Christie's effort to use wage controls to manage administrative salaries in NJ schools looks to be causing an unanticipated spate of  personnel shifts among superintendents, principals, and other school administrators. APP quizzed a number of such personnel about their job moves and few of them thought the Governor's salary caps had prompted them to take their new job. But they're school administrators, not economists. What do they know about the underlying economic motivations for their job switch?

Maybe APP (and Christie) should consult an economist and become acquainted with what's going on? Or a historian? I'm old enough to remember when Nixon made a mess of the economy with his wage and price controls forty years ago. Just about everybody was up in arms -- more angry than they were about Vietnam, if you can believe it. You should read about the mess they were in back in 1971. They were blaming unions back then, too, and they did something about it, dammit. And things got really bad.

All in all, 1971 makes controlling superintendents' salaries through wage controls today seem like -- what's the expression I'm reaching for? Oh, yeah. Herding cats.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Scouts Hold 31st Annual Pinewood Derby

The Daily Record reports on Cub Scout Pack 66 and its 31st annual Pinewood Derby last Wednesday. The mayors of Aberdeen and Matawan were on hand to set the little cars on their way down the track.

Pedestrian Strike at Cambridge Drive & Route 34 in Aberdeen

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APP reported a pedestrian strike at the corner of Cambridge Drive and Route 34 in Aberdeen. The incident, which involved a minivan, took place last Wednesday just after 10 am. The Freehold Township man was medevacked from St Benedict's parking lot. No tickets were issued.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sea Green and Under Construction?

This ugly shell of a building, located on Cliffwood Avenue between Frank's Barber Shop and the Cliffwood Elementary School, has been "under construction" for a while now. There are building supplies on the ground outside and a crude lot and block number sign out front. Does someone know if this place is ever going to be renovated? Maybe they lost funding or can't get the proper permits?

As for the color, the pictures don't do justice to the sea green paint job on the outside walls. It reminds me of tile roofed houses I saw in Bermuda. It's a bit misplaced in New Jersey, though.

Abandoned House on Cliffwood Avenue

There's an eerie abandoned house outside the fenced in property of the old Anchor Glass plant between a home at 183 Cliffwood Avenue and the NJ Transit railroad tracks. It is situated just down the road from Rose Street in Cliffwood, NJ.  The ancient house obviously predates the plant by as much as a hundred years.

The plant was built by the American Can Company in 1962. Midland Glass bought it in 1968, then Anchor Glass acquired Midland Glass in 1984 and operated the plant until 1996. The place has been a parking lot for school buses and semi-trailers until a long-planned renewal of the property can get some traction. In the meantime we have our very own haunted house, to be viewed from afar, of course.

Below is a view of the right side of the house.

Below is a Google Maps street view, which you can convert to a map and check its location. The Google address is only an approximation and surely wrong.

View Larger Map

This house looks a bit like the mansion that Joseph Rose owned, but that house was located a few blocks away on County Road at Rose Street. The Rose mansion also has a different layout, based on the photograph that appears on page 52 of Matawan and Aberdeen: Of Town and Field, by Helen Henderson. But it is of a like style and period. I don't believe Ms Henderson mentioned this house in her book, but I could have missed it. Maybe someone will enlighten us as to its story?

Monmouth County Budget in the Works; Are You Being Served?

These are extraordinary times for making ends meet. We and our governments are all having to make tough choices in this awful economy. But be mindful that the cuts we choose to make are a short term relief to the wallet but may cost us in the long term. There's never a good time to replace that old roof that isn't leaking yet or to pay for long-term care insurance, at least not until the roof is leaking or your spouse needs to enter a nursing home. The same holds true for government.  Short term cuts to social welfare can resolve the balance sheet but promote the growth of gangs, reduce public safety, and lead to the deterioration of public infrastructure and eventually our society itself.

Based on a press release and reporting in APP, Monmouth County plans to adopt its 2011 budget on 24 March. Public hearings are underway. The budget is austere, as it should be given the circumstances. Note that the freeholders will have drawn $83 million from the county's surplus to meet their budget goals over the past two years. For this they blame plummeting state and local revenues. Ratables are down $7 billion in the past year alone due to the economy. The county's portion of property taxes is necessarily creeping up; it will soon be 24 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Experts say that the glossier the cover on a corporation's annual report, the warier the investor should be. There are a lot of holes in the county's press release about the budget, and the APP article only "explains" what the county has already outlined in its public statements. I see no research and lots of gaps. Here are some of the things I noticed.

While the county freeholders claim to be such budget wizards that no services will be cut this year, a protracted municipal hiring freeze has left 90 vacancies at the county level that are now being eliminated. I wonder what services those folks provided? What services were we supposed to receive from the Health Department's forsworn $335,000 allocation? Surely a $10.8 million cut across the board on county department budget lines will mean a loss of services to the average citizen. Who are they kidding?

What about the educational services our children are meant to receive at Brookdale Community College. The county is cutting $6 million in their funding, yet neither article explains what percentage of funding that would be. The county made cuts last year, too, as did the state. What is the freeholders position on supporting Brookdale? The county's press release doesn't emphasize the $6 M cut's effect on students, staffing, facilities, and community programs. No one apparently wants to interfere with Governor Christie's little vendetta against unions and educators. Let there be no doubt that state and county cuts are making the low-cost alternative education route considerably less so. If you thought your children could do two years at Brookdale and save money before they head off to a 4-year school, that reality is passing you by.

The Newark Star Ledger reported last August that Brookdale tuition cost would rise 4.4% to $118.50 per credit hour, the highest in the state and one of the highest in the country. The school explained at the time that a 10% reduction in state aid and a 12% increase in student enrollment were the primary causes of the increase. Keep in mind that NJ community colleges were founded on the premise that the state, county, and students would each fund a third of the costs, but as of August students were footing nearly 60% of the bill with no ceiling imposed on future hikes. Brace yourself for even higher tuition costs in the fall.

The freeholders want our county library system for the first time to pay them $2.4 million annually to fund indirect costs previously paid for by the county.  Since libraries are purchasing fewer books and magazine subscriptions lately anyway, this cost shift will inevitably translate into fewer computer terminals and reduced access to expensive online databases for your middle and high school students doing research projects. And reduced staffing of teen services. Keep in mind that everyone doesn't have Internet at home, so the jobless visiting a county library to file an online application and poor school kids doing after school research will have to vie for limited resources. (To read more about indirect costs, read Recommendation #2 in A Study of Public Library Development in Texas, Himmel & Wilson, Library Consultants, 15 July 2003,  (pp 44-45/90).)

The Monmouth County Park System is tapping the Open Space Trust Fund for an "additional contribution" of $1.3 million to aid the 2011 county budget crisis. That word "additional" suggests that this was done last year as well, seemingly institutionalizing this contribution to the state against the spirit of the public's will. Whatever they spend it on, the county will effectively be expending monies that would otherwise have gone to half a dozen grants to local municipalities for parks and land preservation, such as the Freneau monies Aberdeen won in 2010. The fund's policy manual makes it pretty clear that the county is not to use these dedicated monies to pay for general  budget line items related to park administration, so presumably the county's bean counters have devised a way to tap the Open Space Fund and make this redirection of monies fit the rules.

I hope everyone will take a moment and consider the county budget process this year. Some of you might even want to attend the public hearing set for later next month. It is more than a pocketbook issue.

UPDATE: The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders have lashed out at the President of Brookdale because he dared to criticize their decision to slash his school's county funding again this year. APP put the salacious accusations on the first couple of pages of its article, only including the explanations and justifications towards the end.

The man has headed the school for twenty years and is paid a salary only slightly higher than our schools superintendent. He is a highly desirable commodity and other campuses have tried to recruit him away from BCC, so the trustees increased his perquisites to keep him in place when he planned to relocate. So now that the school is world class, the board trashes him for his excessive perqs. It's like an episode of Entertainment Tonight. What a sleazy bit of political drama. This is just another example of short sightedness on our leaders' part. We're definitely not being served.

2011 Matawan-Aberdeen School Board Election - Filing Deadline Looms

School board elections are fast approaching. New Jersey has a web page dedicated to the 2011 Annual School Board Election Timeline. This year's deadline for filing nominating petitions is noon on 8 March, which is fifty days before the school board elections, which are scheduled for 27 April.

The three board members whose 2008-2011 terms are coming to an end this year are the President of the Board, Charles Kenny (Matawan); Jan Rubino (Aberdeen), whose service on the board was suspended by the state through the end of her term; and Martin Ruprecht (Aberdeen). I've not yet heard which if any of these members will seek re-election.

The 2009-2012 class includes: Gerald Donahue (Matawan); Paul Evangelista (Aberdeen), who is filling the unexpired term of Joey Warren; and Elizabeth Loud Hayward (Aberdeen).

The 2010-2013 class includes: Anissa Esposito (Matawan); Pat Demarest (Aberdeen); and John Delaney (Aberdeen).

A review of the MARSD website didn't reveal any public notices or calendar entries related to the upcoming filing deadline or the school board election itself. The 2 May school board reorganization meeting is listed.

UPDATE: According to APP, 3 candidates will run unopposed for the 3 available seats: Charles Kenny, 5 Sarah Court (Incumbent, Matawan); Dennis R Daniels, 12 Ellen Court (Aberdeen); and Todd Larchuk, 91 Ayrmont Lane (Aberdeen).

According to Linked In, Mr Larchuk is a telecommunications software engineer who has worked  with Bell Labs and Lucent for more than 15 years. He has an interest in hypnosis and ran a hypnosis center in Red Bank in 2004. He recently returned to school and earned his MBA at Rutgers Newark.

Mr Daniels is one of two principals at Hope Academy Charter School in Asbury Park. He was featured in American Profile in 2007 as an educator who occasionally uses ventriloquism to teach. He was listed as Dean of Students at Hope Academy in 2007. He performed at Aberdeen Day in 2004 as a ventriloquist.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Huskies 8th Seed in NJSIAA CJ II Hoopster Tourney; Round 1 At Home Monday

The brackets have been published for next week's NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 2 high school boys basketball tournament. 16 teams will meet in Round 1. We're following the top bracket, where Matawan (8th seed) hosts Middlesex (9th seed) and Raritan (1st seed) hosts Johnson (16th seed). The winners will meet 2 March for Round 2 (quarterfinals).

The Independent suggests that the Huskies, coming off a painful loss in double overtime (65-63) to St Rose in the Shore Conference Tournament, are hungry to contend with the Rockets in Round 2. They argue that Matawan is a legitimate contender, having beaten Raritan once in three meetings this year. Matawan also beat 3rd seed Rumson this year.

But first the Blue Jays (10-9-0, 6-6-0) have to be defeated. (Note that they were 17-8-0 last year.) In a recent victory against Spotswood (56-45), Middlesex senior guard John Santoro and senior forward David Schenck each scored in double digits, as did sophomore forward Tom Helmsetter.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A History of the Two Matawans: A 1930s Perspective

Below are some primary pieces of the local history of the two Matawans (Borough and Township) from Matawan: 1686-1936, a book published during the Great Depression. There are plenty more stories and photographs that can be quoted, displayed, or remarked upon in future blog articles.


Central Part of Middletown Point, NJ in 1855 (Matawan: 1686-1936, pg 46)

Middletown Point was the name of the business center of what is now Matawan Borough from about 1693, when Middletown Township was established, until the US Post Office changed the name in 1865 to resolve mail delivery confusion with Middletown. (Matawan: 1686-1936, pg 55)

Matawan Borough was incorporated on 13 April 1885 under the Act of 1882. The form of government, which consisted of a president and borough commissioners, was soon challenged by the state courts and nullified, , so on 2 May 1896, the officers became a mayor and borough councilmen under the Act of 1878. (Matawan: 1686-1936, pg 55)

An obscure reference on page 3, col 1 of the 2 May 1896 edition of The Matawan Journal said that a meeting of the Borough Commissioners was being postponed from Friday to Saturday night because of a concert being held in Town Hall. "It is expected that a counsel will be present and that steps will be taken to reorganize under the Borough Law of 1878."

The front page of the 9 May 1896 edition of The Matawan Journal tells of "the final meeting of the old Board of Borough Commissioners" at Town Hall on Saturday night, presided over by Mr Van Wickle. Mr. H S Terhune, who acted as their counsel, advised that the courts had declared null and void the Act of 1882, under which Matawan had been incorporated as a borough. The legislature, he continued, had devised the Act of 1878 to reincorporate such boroughs, something he recommended be done that evening. He advised the commissioners to complete the commission's business, adjourn sine die, and then move to reorganize under the Act of 1878, which they did. Mr Longstreet made the motion, Mr Wardell seconded it, and the issue was passed unanimously. Mr Terhune read the oath and swore the former Commissioners in as Councilmen. Then former Commission President Van Wickle was promptly elected Mayor and gave a short speech. William A Rodgers was elected Clerk, James S Sickles as Overseer of the Poor, R P Van Brackle as Marshal. Mr Terhune was voted to continue as Counsel. Other positions would be named at a later date.
Gravelly Brook Bridge on Valley Drive about 1910
The Borough would grow in size, absorbing parts of Matawan Township on two occasions. On 12 May 1931, property owners along Lake Lefferts voted 46 to 29 to leave the Township. And on 23 May 1933, residents of Freneau voted 66 to 51 to join the Borough. (Source: Matawan: 1686-1936, pg 61)

Map of Matawan Boro Showing First Annexation (Matawan: 1686-1936, pg 53)

A graphic appearing opposite pg 52 titled Map of Matawan Boro Showing First Annexation, compiled by Federal Writers' Project, NJ, Irene Fuhlbruegge, State Director, shows a large area north west of Lake Lefferts and Matawan Creek as well as a small section southwest of Sutphin Avenue along the rail line as being "FIRST ANNEXATION 1931."

Map of Present Matawan Boro (Matawan: 1686-1936, pg 54)

A graphic on the next page, titled Map of Present Matawan Boro, compiled by the Federal Writers' Project (NJ), includes the  Freneau area west of Route 34 along Mill Road and west of Freehold Turnpike from Wilson Avenue to a spot just beyond Ryers Lane.


Matavan Township was established from the western portion of Raritan Township on 23 February 1857. The name was changed to Matawan Township in 1882 by legislative act. (The name was changed again to Aberdeen Township on 8 November 1977.)

Matawan: 1686-1936 paints a rather sorry picture of 1930s Matawan Township, with the exception of the beachfront area of Cliffwood Beach. Below are some observations from the book:

In the depths of the Great Depression, 43% of the residents of Matawan Township were receiving financial assistance. (Source: Matawan: 1686-1936, pg 18)

Cliffwood was "a sedate community, with houses so sparse that it is difficult to pick the center of the settlement." The area was littered with "the overgrown ruins of brickyards and claypits," including "three tall chimneys still standing as landmarks" and "old farmhouses" that "seemed to be sitting out endurance contest with the abandoned chimneys."  (Source: Matawan: 1686-1936, pg 16)

Cliffwood Beach was a "fairly busy little resort, with a boardwalk illuminated by night, a casino for dancing, tennis courts and other facilities, but no merry-go-round or roller coaster. Summer cottages [were] bunched together in the conventional beach style just behind the boardwalk, and in the woods near the shore [were] larger houses and a picnic grove."  (Source: Matawan: 1686-1936, pg 16)

Oak Shades had a bad case of urban sprawl. It provided a bedroom community on a highway between Matawan and Keyport, not only for Italians and Poles, but also for "many of the Negro workers in the ceramic industry." "Marked by the spire of St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church," the neighborhood represented "the casual growth of a housing district in an industrial area without control or restriction." (Source: Matawan: 1686-1936, pg 16)

Search and Rescue in Lochslea Heights

An elderly woman with dementia fell down a steep ravine off Beechwood Terrace near Lake Lefferts after wandering from the Lochslea Heights home where she was visiting family. Local authorities rescued the woman Saturday morning and took her to Bayshore Hospital. See APP for details.

Lochslea Heights is a Matawan development just north of Buttonwood Manor between Route 34, Middlesex Road, and Lake Lefferts.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

CBA Grad, Youngest Coach in His Division, Leads RMU to Victory vs MU Hawks

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran an article about Robert Morris University's men's basketball coach, Andy Toole, who was raised in the Red Bank area and still has family there. Toole was coming this weekend to play Monmouth University (and take his team to Rumson to visit his favorite deli). It's an interesting human interest piece you might want to read.

The Newark Star-Ledger also ran a detailed piece. They mentioned that Toole is a Christian Brothers Academy graduate and the youngest head coach in his division.

By the way, the Robert Morris men's basketball team squeaked by Monmouth's Hawks 62-60 Saturday night, according to RMU Colonials results page.

Africa in Matawan Township: 1855, 1936

Detail from Map of Middletown Point, Monmouth County, New Jersey, surveyed and published by Thomas A Hurley, 1855
Next time you're in the Matawan Aberdeen Public Library, take a close look at the old map on the wall over the computers in the reference section. The section of town east of Atlantic Avenue, roughly where the high school is currently located, was once called Africa. It was the part of town where the African Americans lived since pre-Revolutionary times.

During the Great Depression, the Franklin D Roosevelt Administration formed the Works Progress Administration to provide employment for the countless people out of work. Light town histories, like Matawan: 1686-1936, were standard fare for the Federal Writers' Project. One can only imagine the sort of discussions those writers had with local officials to prompt the following text, which followed some paragraphs about the nicer parts of town:
"The entire borough is not, of course, a verdant strip of paradise, nor is the township studded with sunken gardens and seven-bathroom mansions. No able-bodied person is on direct relief in Matawan Borough; but across Lake Matawan lies the district known many years ago as Africa, because of a Negro population that has since been largely replaced by whites. Through the center runs Atlantic Avenue, a street that would serve as a slide rule for the social worker. . . .

One of the most colorful local names, "Skintown," is sometimes given to the section of Atlantic Avenue lying between the two railroad lines. The story is that some years ago a contractor built several cheap houses and sold them at fancy prices.

Omar Khayyam
The old Africa with its colony of manumitted slaves dating to pre-Revolutionary times is gone. But there is a new Africa west of the lake. On Orchard Street is Matawan's Harlem, albeit a diminuitive one without a single cabaret, but with enough exhibition of human frailties in the more liberal tradition of Omar Khayyam to stimulate the missionary efforts of the pastor of the Second Baptist Church. The district is really nothing more than a row of little houses, backed up against the lake shore; and most of the occupants are respected citizens. But there are enough exceptions to keep tongues busy and ears open elsewhere in town."

Sources: Matawan: 1686-1936, pp 11-12, written and illustrated by workers of the Federal Writers' Project, 1936. Photo from Wikimedia appears in the Wikipedia article Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

Area Restaurant Web Links Updated

I've updated my web links to local restaurants. Many have established new sites. Surprisingly, only one place, a Red Bank tavern, was out of business.

Some enterprising young web designer(s) ought to approach the following local restaurants without web pages and explain the value of having a site.
  • Aberdeen Diner (Aberdeen)
  • Bulkhead Bar and Grill (Keyport)
  • Cornucopia (Keyport)
  • El Meson (Freehold)
  • Jakeabob's Bay (Union Beach)
  • Nemo's Asian Fusion (Keyport)
  • Siam Smiles (Aberdeen)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

St Patrick's Day in the Aberdeen, NJ Area

St Patrick's Day is nearly upon us again. Apparently you can attend all the area's St Patrick's Day parades if you are so inclined because their dates and times do not conflict.
Irish pubs in our region include Shannon Rose at St George's Crossing, Routes 1 & 35 in Woodbridge; McDonagh's on West Front Street in Keyport; Dublin House on Monmouth Street in Red Bank; and Tumulty's on George Street in New Brunswick. Check Restaurant Passion for restaurants serving Irish fare in NJ.

If you have other recommendations or know of specific events, feel free to add comments below.

Starbucks Renovated in Matawan

Renovations at Starbucks of Matawan look complete but the construction permit remains in the front window. The tables and chairs in the dining area are new, as are the counters and displays. They have new ceiling trim, lighting and wall art as well. The floor displays are gone. The wood tone throughout looks to be a matte finished walnut and glossy dark pine. you'll want to check out the new look if you haven't already.

Middletown Library Clearly Owes Its Town; MAPL, Less So

Middletown Township is bristling over having to pay more than half a million dollars in debt service annually on the buildings it owns that house the town's library, per APP, while the library collects an annual stipend based on a percentage of property taxes and develops a healthy surplus. Faced with a huge budget crisis that threatens to force two dozen municipal layoffs, including the loss of ten police officers, the Township Council has asked the library to fund the buildings' debt service or face the prospect of cost savings through the library becoming a county branch.

It seems to me that Middletown Township has a legitimate claim on that half a million dollars. Matawan and Aberdeen, on the other hand, hold no such righteous claim to the monies they've been pocketing from our library in recent years. I'd given up speaking out against the annual money grab as choreographed by local officials sitting on the library board. This past year has been a masterful exercise in perception management, leaving our new librarian in the odd position of scrimping and saving on library expenses in order to preserve a budget surplus that ironically must revert to the local municipalities at year's end.  A complex budget exercise by the board last fall established a new routine of guaranteeing a surplus to municipal coffers each year.

On the occasion of this situation in Middletown, I thought I'd bring this up one last time. I've stopped attending board meetings because there's something just not right going on there. I admire the board's public service but the utter conflict of interest is really upsetting.

Matawan Man Stabbed at Main Street Residence

Glenn Howard, of Matawan, allegedly stabbed another Borough man repeatedly about the neck, head, and upper torso with a foot-long cooking fork, according to the APP. The article says nothing about when the incident occurred.

Cooking forks seem to be the weapon of choice these days. Check out the following incidents, all in the past month. A woman in Washington State reportedly stabbed her boyfriend in the butt after a day of heated arguments, according to PT Leader. A prisoner in Australia is said to have assaulted his cellmate with a knife and fork, then urged the man bleeding on the ground to admit he'd been a bad dog, per Geelong. And a British boxer's career ended before it started, according to the Daily Echo, when a man allegedly stabbed him in the eye with a two-pronged fork and blinded him in that eye.

Friday, February 18, 2011

African Americans in the Matawan Journal - 8 May 1886 and 20 Nov 1886

The 8 May 1886 edition of The Matawan Journal (p 213/221) reports on the beginning of the May Term of the Monmouth County courts the previous Tuesday. Judge Walling was presiding over a court room with two dozen grand jurors.

The Journal described events this way:

Judge Walling made a brief charge, in which he referred to the lynching of the negro, Mingo Jack, at Eatontown, and urged the Grand Jury to inquire with great care into the matter, to vindicate the fair fame of our county for law and order.

The New York Times article of 5 May 1886 offered a small blurb, much the same as the above excerpt.

The County Board of Chosen Freeholders discussed over a thousand dollars worth of bills related to the investigation of the lynch mob at a July 1886 meeting, at first approving the payments then reversing their decision, directing the matter instead to be reviewed by their auditor, per the 17 July 1886 edition of The Matawan Journal.

The 20 Nov 1886 edition of The Matawan Journal tells of a great controversy within the county over the Supreme Court's order requiring the County Board of Chosen Freeholders to pay over a thousand dollars in expenses related to the Sheriff's search for the lynchers and other costs of processing the Mingo Jack prosecution.

The obituary for Mingo Jack's alleged victim, a woman whose situation prompted the rage that prompted the lynching, relates the local version of events at that time. It appears in the 27 May 1893 edition of The Matawan Journal:

The Victim of Mingo Jack Dead.
Red Bank Register

Angelina Herbert, daughter of Tbomas S. Herbert of Poplar, died on Monday of last week, aged thirty years. Her death recalls the only lynching that ever occurred in Monmouth oounty.

On March 6th, 1886, Miss Herbert was attacked on a lonely road near her home by Samuel Johnson, better known as Mingo Jack, a colored man of dissolute habits who lived at South Eatontown.

She was knocked down and dangerously assaulted by Johnson, who then carried her unconscious form into a clump of bushes by the roadside. When she regained her senses, Miss Herbert crawled to the house of a neighbor and told her story lo the family. Officer Liebenthal was summoned and he went immediately to Mingo Jack's house, The man was eating his supper and when the officer stated his errand he denied all knowledge of the affair.

Johnson was arrested and taken to tlhe little wooden jail along the railroad track. Later that night a mob assembled and broke into the jail. They clubbed tho man mercilessly and then hung the almost lifeless body just outside the jail door. Before the lynchers dispersed, they riddled the body with bullets.

The county authorities worked for weeks to discover who the lynchers were, but they were unsuccessful.

Miss Herbert's death was due to consumption, though it is said she never recovered from the injuries she received.

MAPL: Note that the 23 May 1885 edition of The Journal is actually over 200 pages long and appears to include all of the "missing editions" of the paper. Based on the 1885 and 1886 directories of newspaper images, the company that produced this data set seems to have lost track of the images for editions after 23 May 1885 and before 22 May 1886. I suppose those images could be separated out and linked appropriately by issuance date.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Freehold Presses for Shuttle Bus to Aberdeen-Matawan Rail Station

Freehold Borough Council is pressing for shuttle bus service between Freehold and the Aberdeen-Matawan train station, per The News Transcript. I suspect it will be a while before any buses start rolling, but such service would be better than reactivating the Hudson Trail as a rail line.

Aberdeen Students Make Dean's List at Felician

A couple of local students made the dean's list at Felician College, according to The Hub. Congrats to Nicole Lambly and Sarah Root.

Bikeway Program Receives State Grants

WalkBikeJersey has some interesting things to say about NJ DOT's Bikeway Program grants. If you're interested in hiking or biking the Hudson Trail's eastern spur from Matawan or Keyport to Sandy Hook, for example, you'll want to check out the portion of the article on the West Avenue Bikeway in Atlantic Highlands. The author has done considerable research and created a map to show many of the sites receiving grants.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Up to 16 NJ A&P, Pathmark and Superfresh Stores May Close in April

There's an update to the mid-December story about impending A&P and Pathmark store closings. Officials are still not naming the particular stores to be closed, but at least 16 NJ stores are to be affected, according to NJ.com. Our area includes A&P groceries in Cliffwood and Holmdel and a Pathmark in Hazlet.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Local Red Cross Volunteer Assists Jackson Fire Victims

No sooner had my wife gone to bed last night than she received a call from the American Red Cross activating her for disaster relief assistance in Jackson. She hopped into the Red Cross vehicle she's been assigned while she's on Rapid Response duty this week and made the half-hour trip to the scene, as did several other members of the team. She personally issued food, clothing, and other supplies to three families and made arrangements for one with small children to be put up in a hotel for the night. She got home after 5 am and took a nap before heading off to work a couple of hours later.

If you want to make a difference in your community, consider becoming an American Red Cross volunteer. Reach out to our local chapter in Tinton Falls to find out about the many ways you can help.

Check out these discussions of the fire and community response at Jackson NJ Online:

Monday, February 14, 2011

County and State Aid Cuts Bring Steep Tuition Increase at Brookdale

Monmouth County has cut its aid to Brookdale Community College by more than 20% ($6 million), according to The Asbury Park Press. And Governor Christie is reducing state aid to Brookdale by more than half a million dollars. The recently released Brookdale budget taps the school's reserves and raises tuition costs 8.2% this fall to make up the loss. Also, the school has instituted a hiring freeze and will leave 21 job vacancies unfilled.

The paper says, "It is understandable that county and state aid fluctuate from year to year depending on the relative health of the economy. But a $6 million cut is not 'fluctuation.' It's a dive off a cliff. The freeholders need to restore at least some of that money in their budget."

The overall strategy of Governor Christie and like-minded politicians is to cut aid so dramatically that the resultant bickering over budgets squeezes every penny of reserves out from frugal local and regional institutions and threatens untold wage and benefit concessions out of unfairly demonized employees. Evidence of the failure of this approach at Brookdale will come soon enough in the form of overcrowded classrooms, a poorly maintained infrastructure, plummeting student performance levels, less skilled instructors and frustrated and angry students and their parents.

UPDATE: Under all this intense scrutiny, BCC's Board of Trustees decided to dig back in their financial records and match up the benefits they've been paying Peter Burnham to the benefits they were allowed to offer him by school policy, per APP. They already knew they had a public relations problem, but they needed to see if they had other problems. So they are conducting an audit and have suspended Mr Burnham and the finance guy who'd been paying him.  The whole thing makes the Freeholders look good, like they are saving us all sorts of money, but now we have a former policeman with an education degree but no prior association with BCC running the place instead of a man with 20 years experience, as well as God knows who running the business and finance department. We'll certainly save some money and run a couple of guys' reputations through the mud, but will we continue to have a top notch community college?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Aberdeen Township's Home Page Needs a Tweak

Aberdeen Township's website was mentioned in APP's article NET WORTH: Are Towns' Websites Doing Enough to Keep Their Residents Informed? The writer seems to have discovered that the search engine on the Township's home page doesn't work, but she failed to notice that the search engine works everywhere else at the site. (A search of Criscuolo yields no results on the home page, for example, but if you go to the Agendas and Minutes page and do the same search, you will get plenty of hits.) A fix is in order, but I've had no problem finding what I need at the site.

Here's the pertinent text from the APP article.

A random review of municipal sites in the state reveals progress coupled with problems. At the official site for Aberdeen in Monmouth County, for example, you'll find archived meeting minutes but the site's search engine yields zero results. 

Check out the last page of this APP article and read about. Englishtown. Their government doesn't play around. What a nasty outfit they've got running things there.. Yikes!

Moonlight and Magnolias at South Street Theater

Liz Mahon, of Matawan, is currently playing the role of Miss Poppenguhl in the South Street Theater production of Moonlight and Magnolias in Spring Lake.

Trenton Grants $250k to Improve Red Bank's Monmouth Street

Red Bank has been awarded $250,000 under the NJ DOT's 2011 Centers of Place grant program. The money will go towards improvements to the Monmouth Street pedestrian walkway that will help people get around safely on foot in this busy district. 10 grants totaling $2.6 million were awarded for Transit Village projects in the state.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Loyola Student Reminisces About Matawan

A Matawan High School graduate attending Loyola University has posted  a very nice hometown web page about Matawan.

Report Details Pedestrian Deaths in Monmouth County, 2007 - 2009

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign (TSTC), a transportation reform safety advocacy group, has just released a report on the New York area's most dangerous roads, plus separate reports on the most dangerous roads in New Jersey and Connecticut. The conclusion of the report was that the major routes through our county -- Routes 33, 35, 36, and 9 -- were the most dangerous places for pedestrians due to deaths occurring along those routes. I think their method is flawed,however. Those routes are all rather long and go through different types of communities with different sorts of usage and terrain. A quick look at their county map reveals the Jersey Shore area of Monmouth County, with more pedestrians per square mile than most places in the state, to be particularly dangerous based on its 12 pedestrian deaths (42.9%) between 2007 and 2009. (see map, right)

The Daily Record, which reported on this study, talked to NJ DOT and discussed some solutions to pedestrian deaths being worked on at the state level. The bottom line rules, however. It's just too expensive to fix what's wrong, so be careful as you make your way on foot across our many local highways.

By the way, three of Monmouth County's 28 pedestrian deaths (10.7%) between 2007 and 2009 occurred in the Matawan-Aberdeen-Keyport area. (see map, top)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cliffwood Beach Burglaries Frustrate Investigators

A series of daytime burglaries in northwestern Cliffwood Beach continues to frustrate Aberdeen Township Police Department investigators after a brazen second-story job early Friday afternoon took advantage of the resident's temporary absence from the home, a secluded entry spot, and a handy ladder. The home was reportedly ransacked and valuables stolen. I know personally of at least four earlier break-ins. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Aberdeen Board to Meet re COAH Development on County Road in Cliffwood

The Aberdeen Township Planning Board will be discussing the final plan for affordable housing on County Road at its meeting at One Aberdeen Square on Wednesday 16 February 2011 at 7:30 pm, according to the published agenda. Below is the pertinent excerpt from the meeting agenda.

SP 10-539 (rev)/C&M County Road, LLC
376 County Road and Moore Place
Block 196.04, Lot 27
Block 228, Lots 1 and 2
(Preliminary and Final Site Plan to construct a 115 condominium townhome development in the “IH” [Inclusionary Housing Overlay Zone] within the “LI” [Light Industrial Zone], on the northwest side of County Road. The development will include 37 COAH affordable family units for rent, 18 of which are to be moderate income units, and 19 to be low income units; the remaining units will be market rate units. Recreation areas will be provided as well as on site parking.)

Previous articles on this subject can be found here, here, and here.

Matawan-Aberdeen School District Names New Superintendent

The Matawan-Aberdeen Board of Education has hired David Healy to be the district's new superintendent of schools as of 1 March, according to The Independent. Mr Healy is alternately described as one of four district directors or the assistant superintendent for operations and personnel for the Middletown Township's school district.  His responsibilities included student discipline, athletics & extra-curricular activities, facilities, and transportation.

The Atlantic Highlands Herald published a piece in October 2008 showing Mr Healy getting tough on out of towners trying to attend school in Middletown. It would be interesting to know who these supposed interlopers were just to be sure this policy wasn't an institutionalization of racism or classism under cover of a need for fiscal austerity.

Oh, this isn't Middletown keeping out strangers?
David Healy, MTSD Assistant Superintendent responsible for enforcing residency requirement policy, comments, "Middletown has a great school system in a very safe and nurturing environment. It is no wonder that residents from other towns might attempt to enroll their children in our schools under false pretenses. Our hope is to discourage this practice in order to avoid any expense for families or hardship to their children who will be redirected to their town's school when fraudulence is discovered."
The Atlantic Highlands Herald featured Mr Healy discussing improvements in violence and vandalism statistics in the Middletown school district in Dec 2009. (He doesn't miss a beat as he tells us us that self-reported use of illicit drugs in the district was down by half but actual possession incidents were up 700%. Also, observe his emphasis on how the statistics are audited , therefore reliable, and says nothing about their potential for misinterpretation or even worthlessness.)
Middletown, NJ -  Assistant Superintendent of Operations and Personnel, David M. Healy, recently presented the annual report of Violence and Vandalism to the Board of Education, which showed a remarkable 35% decline in the total number of incidents reported of Violence, Vandalism, Weapons and Substance Abuse. The all-inclusive statistic fell from 315 for the 2007-2008 school year to 204 for the 2008-2009 school year.

“This drop is all the more significant,” Mr. Healy explained, “because Middletown gives an accurate report of data as confirmed by state auditors, who have commended the way we aggressively report incidents to the state.” 

Decreases were experienced in practically every reported category, including simple assaults, harassment/intimidation/bullying, damage to property, theft, weapons possession (the latter category reflects only 3 incidents and none involving firearms). Substance abuse also showed a significant decline in the area of reported use with only 43 incidents compared to 95 the year before. One increase occurred in reported drug possession, moving from one to seven incidents from the year before.

In November 2010, drug use in the Middletown district rose by 12%, according to My Central Jersey. At the same time, more and more students surveyed testified to being drug-free. Mr Healy made no effort to reconcile this obvious inconsistency,instead he cherry-picked the data.
The district's drug use total has risen to 68 incidents in 2009-10 from 53 incidents in the 2008-09 school year, but Healy said the district's random drug and alcohol testing program and aggressive counseling programs are working to identify and treat students who are using drugs. . . .
Healy also referred to an anonymous survey given to students at the high schools in 2006 and again in 2009 that asks questions about drug use. The survey has reported a 10 percent increase in the number of students who claim they are not using drugs at both the junior and senior class levels, Healy said.
Mr Healy doesn't attempt to explain why random drug testing, instituted in 2006 and intended to deter drug use, wasn't effective. (Source: World Lingo, citing "Middletown school board OKs random drug testing: Some say plan would deter use," Asbury Park Press, October 24, 2006.)

As for the MARSD challenge before him, Mr Healy is quoted as saying, “I look forward to build on all the good works of Dr. O’Malley and bring Matawan to a place that it needs to be." Hmmm.

UPDATE: The Asbury Park Press published its me-too article about Mr Healy on Friday. APP mentioned that the acting superintendent of schools, Patrick Piegari, in this role since 5 February, is making $640/day until the end of the month.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The House That Built Me

Below is one of this year's Grammy nominees, Miranda Lambert, singing her song The House That Built Me. It's the touching story of a girl who visits the old homestead in search of a memory or two to help restore her troubled soul.

I've been doing a bit of that myself, but on Facebook. I have found and gotten reacquainted with some of my elementary school friends in recent weeks. The old school is gone, and most of us are the worse for wear, but the memories truly live on. And they are actually richer because everyone remembers part of the story.

Hazlet Waitress Shot By Her Boyfriend

The woman who was shot early Sunday morning was a waitress coming off her shift at the Red Oak Diner in Hazlet, according to My Central Jersey. She is identified as Kelly Cullari, 35, of Hazlet. Her assailant was her 33 year old boyfriend, Jermaine Foster, of Plainfield.  The paper doesn't explain why  she was shot in the parking lot nearly two hours after the diner closed for the night if she was supposedly coming off her shift. Maybe she had closing responsibilities, but over a hundred minutes seems a long time past the end of her tour.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Shooting Outside Red Oak Diner in Hazlet

A Plainfield man was arrested this afternoon after shooting a Hazlet woman outside the Red Oak Diner on Route 35 in Hazlet in the wee hours this morning while the diner was closed, according to APP.  The man was booked for attempted murder, as well as weapon and drug possession. The unidentified woman is being treated at Jersey Shore Medical in Neptune for what have been described significant injuries.

Central Jersey II Track and Field Championship Challenges Matawan Field Records

At the recent Central Jersey II track and field championships in Toms River, two Huskies field records were challenged, according to APP.
  • Manchester's Chandler Copeland put the shot 36-3, beating the previous record 35-4 set by Matawan's Erin Scurry in 2008.
  • Point Pleasant Boro's Skylar Johnson achieved a 13.0 ft pole vault, which tied the record shared with Mike McGuiness and Jonathan Bartlett, both of Matawan.

Aberdeen and Redistricting

Redistricting is being done behind the scenes in New Jersey. The deadline for a plan is one month after the 2010 Census numbers are received. Those numbers were received in New Jersey last week.

Ben Dworkin, of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics, Ryder University, discussed redistricting on News 12 New Jersey today. He said New Jersey will lose one Congressional District from the current Congressional map as a result of the 2010 Federal Census; 7 southern states (NV, UT, AZ, TX, SC, GA, and FL) plus 1 in the northwest (WA) will gain seats.

Dworkin explained how the Chief Justice of the NJ Supreme Court is empowered to name the 11th member of the state's redistricting commission to break the inevitable tie between the rival plans of the commission's 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans. The state's 40 legislative districts need to each represent roughly 220,000 population, so adjustments will have to be made. By the way, the commission is exempt from the state's Sunshine Laws, so don't expect to learn much about its progress as its work will be done behind closed doors.

Dworkin commented that 17 of the 20 NJ towns that lost the most population in the state in the past decade were in the southern part of the state. NBC New York, however, said NJ's population was shifting southward, with growth in Ocean (+12.8%), Gloucester (+13.2%), and other southern counties. Cape May County (-4.9%) was the biggest loser, while Essex County, including Newark, lost 1.2% of its population.

Nearly 1 in 5 New Jerseyans is now Hispanic, in comparison to 1 in 6 a decade ago. They'll want adequate representation in government. Non-Hispanic whites now represent less than 60% of the population, 10% less than ten yeas ago.

The 6th Congressional District, formed in 1873, is probably the most gerrymandered in the state. Over the past 50 years, its five Congressmen have each come to represent the district as a result of redistricting. The Republicans will undoubtedly seek to upset Frank Pallone's applecart by tinkering with or even eliminating the district, especially after Anna Little won in the Monmouth County portion of the district but lost in the overall. The Democrats, of course, will have other plans.

Keep in mind that Aberdeen has moved from district to district in the past and that could happen again. In 1980, Aberdeen was in the 4th Congressional District when Congressman Frank Thompson was mired in the ABSCAM federal bribery case. Chris Smith, who eventually replaced Thompson, was our Congressman for at least one term.

You can read an excellent outline of the NJ redistricting process at each level of government in a paper written nearly 3 years ago by Ernest Reock of Rutgers University

Matawan Resident Prompts Major NY Tax Fraud Case Against His Employers

Matawan resident Joseph Grande, former controller for Gristedes Supermarkets, is a whistleblower in a major tax evasion scam case in New York against Gristedes execs, per The New York Post.

Monmouth County Photog Blog

Freelance photographer Karen Kyle Ericson started her Greetings from Monmouth County blog on her fiftieth birthday last September. She posts regularly about the world around her, using her photographs and writing to share her observations. You can see a tiger cooling off in a stream at Great Adventure. The moon at night. Runners at the NJ Marathon. Or, recently, photos of snow and ice. She provides the technical specs about her pictures and sometimes explains her equipment choices and photographic approach.

Route 35 To Memorialize Battle of Chosin Reservoir, Aberdeen to Brielle

US 1st Marine Division breaks out from Chosin Reservoir. (Wikimedia)
Route 35 in Monmouth County is to be named Chosin Few Memorial Highway to honor those who fought 70 years ago at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, according to a press release by US Senator Joe Kyrillos. The bill, signed by Governor Christie, was co-sponsored by State Senator Sean Kean, Assemblyman Dave Rible, and Senator Kyrillos. NJ DOT will begin erecting appropriate signage soon.

Leatherneck magazine has a series of articles online related to the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, considered the Iwo Jima of the Korean War.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Matawan's Jared Allison Chooses UNH Wildcats

Jared Allison of the Matawan Huskies football team has been picked up by the New Hampshire Wildcats and is expected to play slot receiver, according to The Concord Monitor. APP says Allison made a non-binding commitment to UNH late on Wed 26 January. "'When I went up there, I felt like I was home,' said Allison, who said he chose the Wildcats over Eastern Illinois. He'll join a program that had 16 players from New Jersey on its roster last season, including former Toms River East star Nico Steriti."

According to WMUR 9 New Hampshire, "Jared Allison is a standout athlete from Cliffwood, N.J., where he was a four-year starter. As a junior quarterback, he led his team to a state championship, capturing the MVP award in the title game. During that junior season, Allison was named All-Shore First Team, All-New Jersey Group 2 First Team, All-State Second Team, Old Spice Red Zone Player of the Year and selected to the New Jersey Super 100 Team. Allison, as a senior captain, guided Matawan to a second straight state championship and was once again voted to the N.J. Super 100 Team, All-Shore First Team, All-N.J. Group 2 First Team and All-State Third Team. 'Jared is a dynamic athlete who will give us great depth at the slot receiver and kick return positions,' McDonnell said."

UNH is in Durham, New Hampshire, a small town near the seacoast but not too far from Boston. US News and World Report ranks this school 104th.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

All Matawan-Aberdeen Students Should Get Bus Service When Sidewalks Are Impassible

I have no idea how our kids who have to walk to school can be expected to make their way when mounds of snow block our sidewalks and ice and slush (and cars and trucks) make walking in the street treacherous. Just take a drive along Cliffwood Avenue or Matawan Avenue and scope out the mounds of snow along the roadside.

In Aberdeen, the Revised General Ordinances charge the Department of Public Works with clearing ice and snow from our streets but not from our sidewalks. And they don't require property owners to clear their sidewalks either. And many don't.

I understand that we've had an unusually large amount of snow and it may be difficult for some folks to clear their walks. But if we accept that the sidewalks may be impassible at times, then there must be another solution for the kids to get to school under those circumstances. And a lack of budgeted funds to pay for that transportation can't be a consideration.. The school district should provide bus service to the kids who live within a mile of the schools on such days.

I'm not the only one concerned with this situation. Check out this comment posted at CBS New York early Wednesday morning.


Why is it that they are telling everyone to stay home unless it is absolutely necessary but yet they expect our children to either be bused or walk in this stuff to school? I live in Monmouth County and my kids walk to school, the sidewalks are not cleared and my kids would have to walk in the street to get there. Does board of ed really think that is safe?
February 2, 2011 at 7:13 am

NJ Transit Rail Doing What It Can To Battle Ice n Snow

Nj Transit workers pre-position sand at Rahway anticipating icy commute home Wed. 9:42 out of Aberdeen was only 11 min late today, but earlier trains were another story. The ride home from the city is liable to be harrowing as temps drop later today.

Osprey Platforms in Monmouth County

Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager, discusses the need to maintain and sometimes replace osprey nesting platforms in an article on the Conserve Wildlife blog. He has a special interest in osprey nests in Monmouth County. If this doesn't seem applicable to Aberdeen residents, don't forget that we have such a platform here in Cliffwood Beach, visible from a comfortable treed spot along the Kavanaugh Trail. Nature photogs ought to be able to sit on the bench and catch some nice shots if we get a nesting pair.

A Bit of Monmouth County in Southern Mississippi

Monmouth plantation in 1972 (Wikimedia)
In 1818, John Hankinson and his wife, Frances McCrea, built the 15-acre Monmouth Plantation in Natchez, Mississippi. They named it after their home county in New Jersey. The currrent owners have an excellent history of the early years of Monmouth Plantation at their website. Read more about this southern Mississippi getaway and others in Great Escapes, Bluffs and Bayous, by Sam Smith.

Antebellum Natchez, by D Clayton James, pg 193, says that the Natchez Steamboat Company was founded in 1815 by postmaster John Hankinson and half a dozen other men.

According to Old Natchez, pg 110, John Hankinson was a man of vast wealth, related to the distinguished Schuyler family of New York.  The Hankinsons contracted yellow fever less than a week after helping a dying man on the roadside. They died within hours of each other. The plantation sold in 1826 for $10,000.

The current owners of the plantation say the couple's dramatic death is only local lore. Hankinson actually died from excessive drink prompted by his financial ruin, which included the public auction of his property in 1825. His wife outlived him by ten years. Both are buried in the Monmouth cemetery.

I found several census records for John Hankinson. He is head of household in the 1816 Mississippi Territorial Census, the 1818 Mississippi State Census, and the 1820 Federal Census for Mississippi, all in Adams County, where Natchez is located. Below are the enumerations.
  • 1816 Census - 2 white males over 21, 3 white males under 21, 2 white females over 21, 6 white females under 21, 13 total white persons, 6 total slaves, 19 total inhabitants.
  • 1818 Census - 2 white males over 21, 3 white males under 21, 1 white females over 21, 3 white females under 21, 9 total white persons, 7 total slaves.
  • 1820 Census - 2 males less than 10, 1 male 16-26, 2 males 26-45, 2 females less than 10, 1 female 10-16, 1 female 26-45, 1 foreigner not naturalized, 4 male slaves under 15, 5 male slaves 26-45, 1 female slave less than 15, 2 female slaves 26-45, 5 free whites 26 or older, 10 total whites, 12 total slaves, 22 total inhabitants
A number of genealogies suggest that John Hankinson was born 15 Jun 1783 in Freehold, son of Capt Kenneth Hankinson (24 Jan 1730/31 - 6 Oct 1807) and Eleanor Covenhoven (12 Mar 1737/38 - 19 Jul 1802). The parents are reportedly buried in Old Tennent Cemetery.

The plantation has been a National Historic Landmark since 1988.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Matawan Receives State Aid for Phase 1 of Mill Road Project

The New Jersey Department of Transportation announced its aid to 370 municipalities for 2011 road projects. The list shows that Matawan and half a dozen neighboring communities are getting up to a quarter million dollars each. Aberdeen and Old Bridge aren't getting any money this year.
  • Matawan -  $170,000 for Phase 1 of Mill Road improvements. 
  • Hazlet - $200,000 for improvements to Bethany Road. 
  • Keyport - $250,000 for improvements to Division and Osborn Streets. 
  • Marlboro - $250,000 for improvements for Vanderberg Road. 
  • Middletown - $200,000 for improvements to Monmouth Avenue.
  • Red Bank  - $200,000 for improvements to Peters Place
  • Union Beach - $200,000 for Phase 1 of Scholer Drive improvements

Cairo Ain't Punxsutawny, But All Our Lives Are Affected By Shadows

Will tomorrow morning be the dawn of a new era in Egypt? It depends. I'm hoping that Mubarak leaves his burrow and we all get an early spring. Because if he sees his shadow and hunkers down, this unrest is liable to drag on for weeks.