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News Digest 2/8/2006

By Rick Racela

DENNIS REVALS (cont.)
She expected notices with new assessed values to be mailed to property owners today and advises them to review the statements and make an appointment, within 10 days of the date of the notice, with Cole Layer Trumble if they do not agree with the value. “No reviews will be done on a walk-in basis,” said Sutton. She cautioned that tax figures in the notices are based on the 2005 budget and will likely change when the township adopts its budget for this year.
Parent’s Forum
NORTH WILDWOOD – Parents, when is the last time you talked with your teen? Wildwood Catholic High School will sponsor a public forum to talk about teen safety and well being tonight at the high school at 7 p.m. Topics include drug and alcohol use, Internet and chat room dangers, hazing and bullying, depression, suicide, and tragic loss. County Prosecutor Bob Taylor, county detectives, and members of Cape Assist and Cape Counseling will be on hand for the discussion and to answer questions. For more information call 884-0096.   
Lock Your Doors
SEA ISLE CITY – Police arrested and charged two 14-year old juveniles with burglary and theft on Jan. 31. The youths, both from Brigantine, were reportedly linked to a rash of car burglaries that occurred in the city in the beginning of December. According to police, the juveniles were in town visiting friends when 15 cars, all of which had unlocked doors, were burglarized. Mostly loose change was taken from the vehicles, police reported. Police Chief William Kennedy reminded residents to lock their car doors and report any suspicious activity to the police. 
Laundry Room Fire
SEAVILLE – A blaze at a home on West Katherine Avenue on Feb. 2 was apparently caused by a clothes dryer, according to state police. Upper Township firefighters responded to the home, after a delivery driver reported seeing smoke, and contained the blaze to the laundry room. No one was home at the time and no injuries were reported.
Porch Blaze
STRATHMERE – A fire that broke out on the rear porch of a home on the 2000 block of Commonwealth Avenue on Feb. 2 is still being investigated. Firefighters responded to an unoccupied home at approximately 2 p.m. and doused the porch blaze, according to reports. The cause of the fire is undetermined and the county Fire Marshal’s Office is sill investigating.
Parents Informed
CREST HAVEN – The Special Services School District last week mailed parents of some 69 children in its Early Intervention Program that it will discontinue the service June 22.  Superintendent Barbara J. Makosky wrote that that did not mean the program was “eliminated” rather, the state Department of Health and Senior Services “will contract with another agency…” She said parents would be kept informed of “the process involved in transitioning the program…”
Back to Square One
SWAINTON – The county MUA will take another shot at expanding its program of producing electricity from methane gas at its landfill. The Woodbine Developmental Center is buying all it can use, so the MUA hopes to produce electricity for its own use at the landfill.  The lowest bid in November for what was estimated to be a $650,000 project was $3 million.  Commissioners agreed on Feb.1 to ask the state DEP for a one-year extension on a potential grant of 30 percent of the cost after Solid Waste Manager John Baron said he had “gone back to square one” and was encouraged by the response of potential bidders.
MUA Reorganizes
SWAINTON – County MUA commissioners Feb. 1 reelected George Betts chairman, John Pantalone, vice chairman, William G. Burns Jr., treasurer, and Patricia A. Callinan corporate secretary. Theresa A. Gallagher was reappointed as recording secretary and Barbara R. Riggins alternate.
Swamped at Aging
CREST HAVEN – The county Department on Aging has had 8,100 inquiries about the new Medicare drug prescription plan, Freeholder Gerald M. Thornton told the Human Services Advisory Council Feb. 1. The county will attempt to put volunteers in each senior center to help people register on-line, he said, but with “one reservation: the people have to make informed choices themselves.” One problem, he said: “People are looking at it as an entitlement, but it’s an insurance program.”
Stolen Ride Home
COURT HOUSE – Nicholas Viggiano, 25, of Malaga in Gloucester County allegedly stole a car left running at the Swainton Wawa Feb. 3. Viggiano claimed that he was working on a trash truck when a co-worker left him behind. Far from home, he walked along Avalon Boulevard until he spotted the van in the Wawa parking lot. Superior Court Judge Raymond Batten said Viggiano had been arrested 36 times in the last nine and a half years. He pleaded guilty to fourth-degree unlawful taking of a means of conveyance. He was sentenced to 365 days in prison with credit for having already served 45 days.    
Dog Beating
OCEAN CITY – Police allege that James P. Kelly IV, 18, of Somers Point beat and severely injured a dog before leaving it in a portable toilet at a construction site Feb. 3. The Chihuahua-papillon mix named Brendal was taken to an emergency veterinary service in Linwood, but had to be put to sleep due to severe injuries. Kelly, who allegedly had a relationship with the dog’s owners, was charged with animal cruelty Feb. 5. He could face a fine of as much as $15,000, community service for as many as 30 days, and a custodial sentence of between three and five years. Kelly posted the $1,000 bail and was released.
Truck, Rig Collide
MARMORA – A truck driven by Melody L. Rudolph, of this community, collided with a tractor trailer driven by Kyle E. Cox of Thomas Trucking, Inc. on Stagecoach Road Feb. 1. Rudolph was allegedly attempting to pass Cox on the left, while he was attempting to turn left into Action Supply. Rudolph collided with the big rig and then a utility pole. She was taken, along with a juvenile, by ambulance to Shore Memorial Hospital. They were treated and released. The accident is currently under investigation by State Police.
Teen Charged
ERMA – A 17-year-old male was arrested at 10:30 p.m. Jan. 30 for allegedly burglarizing cars on Sunset Drive and Warren Lane. Lower Township Patrolman Donald Vanaman and Patrolman Dallas Bohn found that there was forced entry into a few of the parked cars. A cell phone was one of the stolen items. The officers questioned the suspect, who denied having the cell phone. They then went to the suspect’s friend’s house, where he said he was going, and asked the residents if they had received any calls from the juvenile. A call was received and police traced it to the stolen cell phone. The suspect attempted to flee, but was captured and charged with two counts of burglary and one count of theft. He was released to his mother.
     
Slow Going
CAPE MAY – You can come to this city but it’s hard to leave. Drainage improvements on Washington Street have stopped traffic from exiting the city this week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Work is expected to be completed tomorrow, if not delayed by rainy weather. Drivers must exit the city through West Cape May on Broadway or Elmira Street in the meantime. 
Two In, One Out
CAPE MAY – While the official date to file to run in the May city council election is March 16, two current councilman here have indicated they will seek reelection: William G. Gaffney and Deputy Mayor Niels Favre. Councilman David Brown said he would not seek reelection. Three seats are open, all four-year terms. Former Councilman Harry Stotz told the Herald early in the year he was running for election after a loss in 2002.
Lower Election
VILLAS – Candidates for Lower Township Council have until April 10 to file petition to run in the Nov. 7 election, proceeded by a June 6 primary but Councilman Michael Beck, of the 1st Ward, said he will not seek reelection after serving two, four-year terms. Council’s only Democrat, Wayne Mazurek, said he would seek a second term. Additional Democratic candidates are expected to run. Third Ward Councilman Stig Blomkvest, a Republican, said he would seek reelection. On March 8, Lower Township Regular Republican Organization will hold its candidate night with 56 members choosing three candidates.
 
Coachman Condos?
VILLAS – An investment group headed by Curtis and Keith Bashaw are expected to purchase the Coachman Motor Inn on Beach Avenue with a closing date set for April. Following the death of Julius Hober last year, the family has agreed to sell the hotel. The Coachman is expected to remain open as a hotel this summer. Bashaw and partners converted the Sandpiper and Driftwood motels into condominiums.
Sentence Holds
VILLAS – William J. Tittor, 65, of Lower Township, convicted in 1999 for sexually assaulting two girls in his care, ages six and seven, was resentenced  Feb. 2 to 38-years in prison. He was originally sentenced to 110 years but that was reduced when an appeals court found the victims’ testimony not matching some charges. Tittor’s sentence was reduced to a 38-year term. On. Feb. 2, Superior Court Judge Carmen Alvarez upheld the 38-year sentence based on the possibility of a repeat offense.
Restaurant Burglary
COURT HOUSE – Robert K. Bartz, 57, formerly of Erma, was sentenced to four years of prison Feb. 3 for breaking into the Harbor View Restaurant on Ocean Drive and stealing approximately $2,800. He was working as a cook at the restaurant at the time of the crime. According to police, Bartz threw a flowerpot through a glass door to enter the restaurant, injuring himself in the process. Police reportedly found the stolen money at his residence. Bartz had five prior convictions for theft, robbery, and theft, according to Judge Raymond Batten.  
Parking Lot Robbery
COURT HOUSE – Norman Severa, 37, of Philadelphia, pleaded guilty to third degree theft from a person Feb. 2 for his role in the robbery of a parking lot attendant in Wildwood July 18. The attendant was lured by a girl to a far corner of the parking lot where he was met with a knife-wielding man demanding money, according to police. Severa admitted serving as a lookout while the crime was committed. Stephen Hogg was sentenced to a 10-year prison term for his role in the robbery. A juvenile has also been sentenced.
Scrap Cell Tower
COURT HOUSE – Middle Township Committee, on Monday, formally rejected a bid for a communication tower in its public works yard, 400 W. Mechanic St. The tower, which was to have brought the township $18,000 annually from rent by cell-phone provider Nextel, was chopped since the firm wanted to have other cell phone providers on that tower. That would have left the municipality without a voice. Residents of the area had protested the tower, fearing its radiation might harm them and others in the area. The tower was also to have been used by the township for public works and for school buses.
Booked With Pocketbook
RIO GRANDE – Teresita Leet, 18, of North Cape May was arrested by Middle Township police Feb. 3 as she left ShopRite supermarket with an allegedly stolen pocketbook. It was the second time police were called for the same type incident. The first incident took place on Jan. 31 in the same store when a victim’s purse was allegedly stolen from a cart while she was shopping. That incident was recorded on store surveillance cameras. Charged with two counts of theft and fraudulent use of a credit card, Leet was released on summons and is scheduled in municipal court on Feb. 27 at 1 p.m. Detective Don Nelson and Patrolman Walter Krych investigated.
Gone Flushing
VILLAS – When Robert Baggett, 21, of the 1700 block Starr Avenue answered the door at his home Feb. 3; he faced members of the county Sheriff’s Fugitive Task Force and Lower Township police. He fled to another room then refused to open the door for officers. Resolute in their mission, officers forced open the door. They found Baggett allegedly trying to flush illicit drugs, which police allege was crack cocaine, down the toilet. After he signed consent to search the premises, officers reportedly recovered marijuana, small plastic bags, and a foil pipe for smoking controlled dangerous substance. Remanded to county jail, Baggett was charged with CDS possession, with cash bail set at $25,000.
Ho, Ho, Oh No!
WILDWOOD CREST – As Mahmoud Neim, a.k.a. Billy Neim and Mo Neim, reposed in a county jail cell Jan. 28, borough police, armed with a search warrant, sifted through Neim’s personal property and vehicle. Their search revealed various documents that belonged to victims in several states. They included victims’ dates of birth, Social Security numbers, allegedly stolen credit card information and personal data. He was later charged with two counts of possession of stolen documents, three counts of theft for possession of stolen documents and a count of theft for failure to make required property disposition. Neim’s troubles began when he alleged he was the victim on a Christmas Day armed robbery. He is being held on $2,500 bail.
Permit Retrial
COURT HOUSE – Officials at Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hospital were mum about a former employe’s disability case that may be retried by virtue of a decision by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Arnie Armstrong of Delmont, sued the hospital in 2000 and alleged the facility had not properly made allowance for his disability, which included neck and back pain. He had been a shipping and receiving clerk until the late 1990s, when he was assigned as a linen clerk, which necessitated him to life bundles of up to 30 pounds. No jury heard his case, because a district court, in error, made him prove something that was unnecessary. A new trial will be held to hear the disability matter
Table Decision
SEA ISLE CITY – The zoning board decided to table Mark Delaney’s application to construct an addition to one of two single-family homes located on the same property. Neighbor Francis McDonald objected to the addition claiming that it would create a wall that would block the view out of his backyard. Neighbor Steve Kozlawski said he was not for or against the addition. He raised a concern that removing the outdoor shower may still not provide enough room for the addition. The application will be tabled until the next zoning meeting March 6. 
Switch to Lukoil
OCEAN VIEW – Parkway gas stations will be changed from Mobil stations to Lukoil stations around Feb. 14. Lukoil is the biggest oil company in Russia and owns around 800 Mobil stations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The name change means that Lukoil can buy its gas from a different distributor, which could mean cheaper prices.
Murder Suspect
NORTH WILDWOOD – Anthony Mark Bianchi, 43, a local motel co-owner indicted on charges of traveling overseas to have sex with young boys is now being accused of murder of a 10 year-old boy in January 2004. Federal agents arrested Bianchi Jan. 11 at his home in North Wildwood. Federal officials claim that he plotted to travel to Cuba, the Republic of Moldova and Romania to have sex with boys below age 16 between December 2003 and October 2005. Now, the Romanian government wants a DNA sample from Bianchi in relation to an unsolved murder of a 10 year-old boy in Jan. 2004. Bianchi is currently being held at a federal detention center in Philadelphia until a judge in the case decides his bail.

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