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News Digest 3.1 2006

By Rick Racela

Dare vs. Alvarez
COURT HOUSE – Former Avalon attorney Paul Dare, who was disbarred by the Supreme Court in April 2004, requested that Superior Court Judge Carmen Alvarez excuse herself from proceedings involving criminal charges pending against him. Dare did not challenge his disbarment based on claims he misappropriated clients’ money and after investigation was charged with misapplication of entrusted property, forgery and deceptive business practices. He has not been indicted and a deal to allow him to resolve the charges by entering the pretrial intervention program was in place with the prosecutor’s office, but Alvarez refused it. Dare asked her step-down because he once represented her in a matter and because she also knows one of his potential witnesses. She asked Dare’s attorney to provide additional information and expects to decide the application within the next month.
Home and Car Hit
DIAS CREEK – Albert B. Boyd, 55, of Court House was driving a pick-up truck south on Route 47 Feb. 21 at 1 p.m. when he struck a vehicle driven by Jessica Merrick, 22, of Court House, after attempting to pass other vehicles, according to Middle Township police. After hitting Merrick’s car, Boyd ran into a utility pole, then off road and overturned and stopped after striking a home here. Merrick was not injured and although the home was occupied at the time no one was injured. Boyd was taken to Atlantic City Medical Center Trauma for head, face and chest injuries. According to police, witnesses said that Boyd was driving erratically before the accident and that following further investigation, they expected to charge him with DWI and other motor vehicle offenses.
Hospital Task Force
TRENTON – Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew (D-1st) was successful in getting legislation out of the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee Monday to establish a task force to oversee the development of a veterans’ hospital in south Jersey. The task force would evaluate the current heath care system for veterans and make recommendations for the construction of a new facility. The panel would include two state senators and two assembly members, seven members of the public appointed by the governor, a representative for Burlington and Camden counties, two physicians, the state Adjutant General of Military and Veterans Affairs and the commissioner from the department of Health and Senior Services. The bill was co-sponsored by Assemblyman Jack Conners (D-Camden) and now awaits a decision by the assembly speaker who will decide if and when to put it on the floor for a vote.
More Port Whines
TRENTON – On Feb. 21, state Sen. Nicholas Asselta (R-1st) wrote to Gov. Jon Corzine asking him to enter the fray regarding whether an Arab, government-controlled company, Dubai Port World should be allowed to take control of ports in Newark and other major cities, as approved by the Bush administration. Corzine didn’t need much of a coaxing, since by Feb. 24 he was inviting governors of the other states, where the ports are scheduled for control by Dubai, to join a federal lawsuit to halt the deal. According to the governor’s office, this federal suit is separate from a state court action the governor has worked with the Port of Authority of New York and New Jersey to file.
Watch for Signs
AVALON – Borough council was poised to adopt a change to its parking laws to set up 15 minute parking zones on Dune Drive and 32nd Street for the most part between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily. The limit for the west side of Dune “starting 51 feet south of 21st St. and continuing in southerly direction for a distance of 12 feet (angled parking)” would be from 6 a.m. until 3 p.m. But due to public comments at the meeting Feb. 22, the ordinance was tabled for further consideration.
Builders Beware
AVALON – No more free lunch here in the borough. Well, it never was free but borough Construction Official Salvatore DeSimone convinced council that construction and zoning fees were too low and with the adoption of an ordinance revising those fees Feb. 22, it will now cost a bit more to get things built here. DeSimone told council with the state now getting fees for licensing contractors, his department needed to offset the loss of that income. But he said that even with the increases, the borough is still lower than some area communities for those fees.
Cons Need Not Apply
AVALON – After discussions in a number of work sessions and consideration of various drafts, council adopted an ordinance Feb. 22 that would require any borough employe or volunteer to submit to a criminal background check. This will also include contractors who provide summer programs for children in the borough, so it was imperative to get this on the books before spring.
No Permit, No Party
AVALON – In an effort to gain control of the annual “floatilla” that’s been occurring in the back bay area and has caused concern for residents and borough police, council introduced an ordinance requiring a permit for special events, which are defined as public activities which require access to public land or equipment or “would result in the utilization of the services of borough personnel.” Applications for permits will need to be filed 60 days in advance and the fee will be based on the nature of the event to minimize cost to taxpayers and may be waived for charitable events. If passed, the ordinance would subject anyone who conducts a special event without a permit to a fine of at least $100 but not more than $1,250 and a possible declaration of ineligibility to apply for a permit for a period of time.   
 
For the Breathless
COURT HOUSE – Short of breath? Burdette Tomlin’s Pulmonary Rehab Team has slated a two-day Pulmonary Health Fair from 9 a.m. to  noon Tuesday, March 14, in the hospital’s main lobby, and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 15 in classrooms A and B. Public also is invited to attend the  monthly Pulmonary Support Group meeting from 1 to 2 p.m. Thursday, March 16, in classroom A.  Dr. Henry Komansky, Burdette pulmonologist, will speak. More details next week.
And for the Arts
CREST HAVEN – The county was slated yesterday, too late for our deadline, to take another $200,000 from its $20-million surplus and set it aside for grants for arts and cultural programs. Another $3.8 million will go to a fund for grants to municipalities for one-time, short-term capital improvements, primarily in the area of tourism and recreation.
No Increases, But…
CREST HAVEN – During 2006 budget deliberations, freeholders eliminated the entire $348,450 request for “promotions and increases.”  But promotions and pay increases continue to take place at each meeting.  County Administrator Steve O’Connor said that’s possible because of savings  from retirements, unfilled positions, and new hires coming in at less than the persons they replaced.
Brodesser Brouhaha
COURT HOUSE – The complicated and controversial issue over who cleans up the old Brodesser landfill on Fulling Mill Road went nowhere this week as the state DEP continued to sit on results of water samples from wells around the landfill and the county indicated it will ask for more time in deciding whether to include the DEP in its suit against Thomas Brodesser and others. Deposing of witnesses in anticipation of a trial continues. Major concern: that a plume of pollution is heading toward the Rio Grande well field which supplies drinking water to the Wildwoods.
High-Rise on Hold
WILDWOOD – The zoning board decided on Monday night to reschedule the applicant, Riviera Holding LLC, until March 13 at 4 p.m. The proposed 25-story high-rise would be located at Ocean, Spencer, and Spicer avenues.
17th Street Delay
NORTH WILDWOOD – City Administrator Ray Townsend told council on Feb. 21 that two attempts to go out to bid on the reconstruction of 17th Avenue have been unsuccessful. The city has $428,125, provided by the UEZ, to fund the project and the low bid came in at $565,268. The city will now negotiate directly on a contract. Townsend said the project, which will stretch from New Jersey to Central avenues, has been scaled back and specifically referred to the decorative streetlights and landscaping. However, Townsend said the “meat” of the project wouldn’t be compromised. The city is hoping to get a contract by this week and complete the renovation before the end of summer.
Sam’s Return
WILDWOOD – Loyal patrons of Sam’s Pizza Palace will be happy to hear that they’ll be able to enjoy a slice by this summer season. The pizza shop was destroyed after a Dec. 9 nine-alarm fire that tore through the Shore Plaza Motel. According to Anthony Zuccarello, whose father-in-law Salvatore Spera owned the motel, the family plans to rebuild the pizzeria at 26th and the boardwalk in time for the upcoming summer. Zuccarello said the family is not sure about plans for the motelS.  
    
Fire Elections
VILLAS –  Voters approved fire district budgets Feb 18 here, in Erma and Town Bank. In Fire District No. 1, Villas, a $606,000 budget was approved in a 66-30 vote. A total of $416,774 will be raised by taxes. The rate is 10.1 cents or $101 for each $100,000 of assessed value. Incumbent Commissioner Camille Gipple was reelected to a three-year term. In Fire District No. 2, Town Bank, an almost $700,000 budget was approved in a 55-11 vote. The purchase of a $90,000 command vehicle was approved. The tax rate is 11.2 cents or $112 for each $100,000 of assessed value. Lewis H. Conley and Edward Garrison were elected to three-year terms. James Andrews will fill an unexpired term for one year.  In Fire District No. 3, Erma, a $580,000 budget was approved. The tax rate will drop from 12 cents to 11 cents or $110 for each $100,000 of assessed value. Gary Douglass and Kendul Kennedy were reelected to three-year terms. 
Stole the Safe
CAPE MAY –  Police are investing the theft of a safe from the Pilot House Restaurant, 142 Decatur Street, Feb. 19 sometime between the hours of 3 a.m. and 9:15 a.m. According to Police Chief Diane Sorantino, the safe was stolen from a second floor office after a window was removed and a door was forced off its hinges. In excess of $5,000 in cash was inside the safe. Sorantino said police were interviewing a list of possible suspects and the investigation is continuing. She said the theft appears to have been carried out by someone with knowledge of the safe’s location.
Assault Charged
COURT HOUSE – Herbert E. Tozer, 39, of Villas was arrested on charges of aggravated assault and leaving an injured victim Feb. 23. Middle Township police were called to Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hospital’s emergency room Feb. 17 after Louis Luker, 40, of Court House, told police he was allegedly assaulted by Tozer in a wooded area. Tozer reportedly knocked Luker unconscious. He sustained serious head and facial injuries. Police found Tozer at a residence on Route 47 in Green Creek and arrested him after he fled on foot. He is lodged in county jail under $25,000 bond. Tozer also had outstanding bench warrants from Lower Township.
Clammy Donation
NORTH CAPE MAY – Delaware River and Bay Authority is providing $134,000 to assist a project to revitalize oyster farming in Delaware Bay. The funding helps match $2 million from approved by Congress. At one point, shell fishing produced 1 million bushels per year. Diseases decimated the industry. Last year, 280,000 bushels of clams were planted in the bay by the project.
Ponderlodge Deal
VILLAS –  The state may acquire Ponderlodge Golf Course today due to a bankruptcy court deadline, a move that would derail a Lower Township-county partnership to obtain the property. The state is prepared to pay the full $8.4 million cost of the land. If that fails, Ponderlodge could fall into the hands of developers. The land would be acquired by Green Acres and turned over to either the state Department of Environmental Protection or Fish and Wildlife Division. If that happens, Lower Township would not be able to receive revenue from leasing the golf course portion to a private firm. The township could receive a payment in lieu of taxes from the state. Freeholder Director Daniel Beyel had asked the state to allow Lower Township to manage Ponderlodge. The state has promised not to evict 89-year old Ponderlodge resident Helen Fergoli from her house. She will be allowed to live out her days in her home.
Rice Won’t Run
NORTH WILDWOOD – Don’t look for First Ward Councilman Hank Rice’s name on the ballot this fall. Rice, age 72 and one of only two Democrats on city council, said on Feb. 22 that he would not run for re-election. Rice said that it is time to move on and he hopes to see some of the city’s younger residents get involved in government. Rice, a full time resident here for 16 years, was first elected to council in 2000 when he defeated Republican Anthony Visalli. He was re-elected in 2003 when he defeated Republican Councilman Bob Maschio.
CRDA Does Doo-Wop
WILDWOOD CREST – The state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, or CRDA, approved $140,000 in funds on Feb. 21 to help get a $170,000 study started on ways to save the borough’s motels from demolition. According to reports, the municipality has more than 200 buildings featuring the doo-wop style of architecture, but despite preservation attempts, an estimated 20 percent have already been demolished to make room for new condominiums. Karlis Povisils, director of research and policy for CRDA, said that study would try to save the buildings by making them more profitable. He gave examples of recommendations that included giving owners financial incentives, restructuring their debt, or enacting favorable zoning regulations. The state Department of Community Affairs also gave an additional $30,000 in funds towards the study.
Gun Violation
COURT HOUSE – Saulaman Allen, 29, of Woodbine, plead guilty to firing a gun in Woodbine on Sept. 16, 2005. Allen, who has a previous drug conviction, cannot lawfully have a gun. Allen reportedly admitted to firing the gun and then throwing it into a nearby lake. Police have not recovered the weapon. Assistant Prosecutor Christine Smith said she expects that Allen would receive a five-year prison sentence and would not be eligible for parole. Sentencing is scheduled for April 21.
Stabbing at Party
WOODBINE – State police are still searching for suspects in the stabbing of Jose Lopez, of Woodbine, during a birthday party in the early morning of Feb. 25. According to reports, a fight involving more than 100 people broke out at approximately 1 a.m. at the Woodbine American Legion hall. Police said that most of the witnesses fled upon their arrival but they found Lopez with lacerations to his arm and head. Police are continuing to investigate the incident.   
Armed Robbery
WOODBINE – A 13-year-old and two 15-year old accomplices were arrested and charged with robbery, burglary, and weapons offenses on Feb. 17, state police said. The teens, which all live in Woodbine, reportedly decided to rob two older tenants of the Woodbine Manor Apartments because they heard they kept money in their apartment. According to police, when the older victim answered his door, the teens, wearing masks, forced their way inside and demanded money. One of the suspects brandished a rifle or a shotgun and held the couple at gunpoint, police said. Reportedly $20 was taken and no one was injured. Police did not recover the weapon. The teens were held Feb. 21 at the Cumberland County Youth Correctional Facility in Bridgeton.    
Vandal Found
STONE HARBOR – The skateboard park, placed at the 81st Street Recreation Field to accommodate youthful skateboard fans, was vandalized by a juvenile, according to Councilman Brian Levinson, chair of the Public Safety Committee, at council’s Feb. 21 meeting. The youngster was found by a detective, and repairs will be made.
Deck Be Gone
STONE HARBOR – Councilwoman Anne Wannen, chair of council’s Beach and Recreation Committee, reported at the Feb. 21 meeting on the building at the 81st Street recreation field. The deck and steps leading to it were removed, she said, since youths have found it an easy way to romp on the roof. The roof will be replaced in time for summer, she said.
School’s Not Moving
STONE HARBOR – Board of Education President John Atwood put school-closing rumors to rest at borough council’s Feb. 21 meeting. “I would do this at a board meeting, but no one from the public shows up,” said Atwood. There was no truth to the rumor that the K-8 district would close and send pupils to Avalon, Atwood said. There was never any discussion about the idea, he said. “Your school is there. That’s where our children are being educated,” Atwood concluded.
Surfing Beach Stays
STONE HARBOR – In announcing the protected bathing beaches for the summer season, Councilwoman Anne Wannen noted that 110th Street beach would remain a surfing beach. That action was praised by Steve Mullen of the Surf Rider Foundation, who urged council to consult with the grassroots group when making future decisions about the sport of surfing.
Cancel Meeting
SEA ISLE CITY – The commissioners’ meeting scheduled for Feb. 25 was cancelled. Mayor Leonard Desiderio, who recently returned home from Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hospital after undergoing a heart operation Feb. 17, was unable to attend. Commissioner Angela Dalrymple was on vacation in Mexico. The next meeting will be held March 14 at 10 a.m. in the Public Safety Building.
Table Patrol Building
SEA ISLE CITY – The Planning Board did not hear the scheduled application to build a new beach-patrol headquarters at its meeting Feb. 27 meeting. The $2-million project, proposed to be built on 44th street, will be heard March 13 instead. According to planning board Attorney James Arsenault, the postponement will give the municipal engineer the necessary amount of time needed to review the project. The proposed building will include garages, meeting rooms, locker rooms, offices, and a public restroom.
Deserving Dealer?
COURT HOUSE – Fredrick Lee, 41, of Millville didn’t feel that he deserved seven years for selling a $15 bag of crack cocaine. Superior Court Judge Carmen Alvarez thought otherwise and sentenced Lee to seven years in state prison for drug distribution. He will be eligible for parole after serving three years and two months of that sentence. The sentence was mandatory based on Lee’s prior drug convictions. Lee had been arrested 35 times since 1983. He is credited with 123 days already served.  
 
Invaders Plead Guilty
COURT HOUSE – Shawn Foye, 30, of Atlantic City admitted Feb. 24 to his part in a 2005 home invasion in North Cape May. Foye explained to Superior Court Judge Carmen Alvarez that he, along with Khalil McMichaels of Camden, entered a Townbank Road home around 8:20 p.m. on Aug. 25. He claimed that accomplice Antionette Johnson of Atlantic City, who is a relative of the victim, left a door unlocked for McMichaels and himself to steal money and drugs. Foye kept the five occupants at bay with a gun, while McMichaels took money and drugs from another room. Foye pleaded guilty to first-degree armed robbery and will receive a 10-year prison sentence. He will be sentenced April 28. Antoinette Johnson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft and received a five-year prison term. McMichaels case is still pending.
   
Middle Aide Charged
COURT HOUSE – Dorrhon Lasseter, 23, of Shunpike Road, Cape May, a Middle Township High School teacher’s aide, was arrested Feb. 24 by Cape May police and charged with attempting to lure or entice a child with the purpose to commit sexual assault and or sexual contact, in the wake of a joint investigation between Middle Township police and the county Prosecutor’s Office. A report was made to authorities last month of suspicious activity between Lasseter and a 16-year-old juvenile, according to a joint release from the prosecutor and Middle Township police. The alleged incident did not occur on school ground. Lasseter was released on his own recognizance on condition he would have no contact with the victim. An arraignment will take place in Middle Township Municipal Court. If convicted of a second-degree crime, a person could be imprisoned between five and 10 years.
Reval to Start
COURT HOUSE – Del Haven homeowners should expect revaluation workers from Tyler Technologies to be in their community in the next week. The work signals the start of the municipality-wide revaluation that should be completed by the 2007 tax year. The project will be the first in 13 years, and is expected to bring real estate assessments in line with true market values. Data collectors will have photo identification and police will be aware they are in a neighborhood. While it’s not mandatory to allow them inside one’s home, skewed valuations may otherwise take place.
Anti-Drug Action
COURT HOUSE – Parents of Middle Township High School pupils were briefed Feb. 21 on the district’s intent to allow the county Sheriff’s Department’s K-9 unit to sweep halls, sniff lockers and cars in the school parking lot for illicit drugs. The date of the sweep was not announced as a deterrent to students possessing the contraband. When the sweep takes place, Middle Township’s Municipal Court Judge Peter Tourison will be present, in the event a search warrant is needed.
Car Hits Ditch
BURLEIGH – Middle Township police were summoned to a Feb. 22 one-vehicle crash on Golf Club Road near Wildwood Country Club at 11:12 a.m. On arrival, they found Siubhan Tweed, 18, of Court House in his silver 1998 Oldsmobile Cutlass straddling a drainage ditch on the north side of the road. He was unable to exit the car and complained of neck pain. Removed with aid of Court House volunteer firefighters, Tweed was transported to Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hospital. Police said his vehicle was headed south on the wet surface when he lost control and slid off the road. There were no other injuries.
Just Hang Up
COURT HOUSE – Middle Township police report a rash of telephone fraud calls. Residents told police they had received calls from persons alleging to be from government agencies that offered free grant money. The callers state they can deposit large sums into the person’s bank account if they get their checking account’s routing number. Police warn residents never to give such personal information to unknown callers. Patrolman Clint Stocker is investigating the incidents.
GI’s Hunt, Fish Free
TRENTON – All fees for hunting, trapping, and fishing licenses would be waived for active duty military personnel, under a measure co-sponsored by Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew (D-1st) and Assemblyman David Mayer (D-4th), and released by the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee Feb. 27. Military personnel living or stationed in the state would not be required to buy those licenses or for fees in state parks and forests. The measure heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for consideration.
 
Car Hits Ditch
BURLEIGH – Middle Township police were summoned to a Feb. 22 one-vehicle crash on Golf Club Road near Wildwood Country Club at 11:12 a.m. On arrival, they found Siubhan Tweed, 18, of Court House in his silver 1998 Oldsmobile Cutlass straddling a drainage ditch on the north side of the road. He was unable to exit the car and complained of neck pain. Removed with aid of Court House volunteer firefighters, Tweed was transported to Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hospital. Police said his vehicle was headed south on the wet surface when he lost control and slid off the road. There were no other injuries.
Arrest Caretaker
COURT HOUSE – Tyrone L. Payne, 32, of Wildwood was arrested Feb. 23 and charged with aggravated sexual assault following a 10-month joint investigation by Middle Township police and the county Prosecutor’s Office into an incident that occurred when Payne was a caretaker for a 15-year-old victim. The incident reportedly took place in Green Creek. Payne was lodged in county jail in lieu of $200,000 cash bail set by Superior Court Judge Albert Garafalo.

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