Wednesday, September 27, 2023

News Digest 3.22.2006

By Rick Racela

Personal Tax Benefit
COURT HOUSE – A former clerk in the Avalon tax collector’s office pled guilty last week to a third degree theft crime for misappropriating funds paid to the borough tax office. Jennifer A. Cannon, 37, of Dennis Township admitted she took the money when two residents paid quarterly tax bills last fall. She is expected to receive probation and will be required to pay back the $1,573 as restitution, according to the prosecutor handling the case. She will be sentenced May 12. The borough has given the residents full credit for their tax payments.
Colin Pleads Guilty
COURT HOUSE – Jack Lee Colin Jr., who was arrested in December 2004 after weapons were found at his Eldora home, plead guilty to weapons and child pornography charges March 17. The search of the home was instigated by officials in Pennsylvania who reportedly suspect Colin’s involvement in two homicides there. He has not been charged in those homicides and the plea only resolves the New Jersey charges. Colin faces a seven-year sentence for weapon charges, during half of which he’ll be ineligible for parole, and 18 months for keeping child pornography on his computer. Colin was found guilty by reason of insanity in the death of his parents in 1972.
Still Unbeaten
ATLANTIC CITY – Wildwood teacher and light-heavyweight boxer Chuck Mussachio fought his toughest fight March 18 here at Boardwalk Hall but came away with a win and a 6-0 record. He fought Andre Hemphill, of Philadelphia. This was the first time the 26-year-old Mussachio, whose trainer is his dad, Al Mussachio, fought in the Hall, although he has had other bouts here. The fight went to the final bell and he won by decision but it was close since one judge called it a draw.
Georgia on His Mind?
ERMA – Lower Township police assisted in the apprehension a fugitive who was identified March 15 while they were conducting a narcotics investigation. Jeremy Emanuel Grant, 18, is wanted in Georgia for charges stemming from a home invasion where he allegedly discharged a sawed off shotgun during the commission of a robbery. Once he was identified as a suspect on the warrant, police from here and those from Middle Township and the City of Cape May conducted an aggressive search and located Grant. The county sheriff’s warrant unit was also involved in the arrest. Grant is being held in the county jail on $200,000 cash bail, awaiting extradition to Georgia.
Nine Years of Time
COURT HOUSE – Pleading to a charge of aggravated assault, 22-year-old Lionel Gerald was sentenced to nine years in prison for the shooting of Emanuel Wilson in the leg near an Ocean City Wawa last March. Wilson, who was 34 at the time, was with another man when Gerald got out of a cab and fired at Wilson. Gerald left the area in the cab after the shooting and the gun was never found. Although he avoided a charge of attempted murder by entering a plea, Gerald and his mother, Joann Jones, who told the court about how he had been beaten and harassed by others, could not convince the judge to impose a lighter sentence.
Land Deal at Bay
SEA ISLE CITY – Despite the passage of special legislation last December to settle a title dispute between the state and nine 47th Place property owners here, the matter still remains unresolved. Last May the DEP’s Bureau of Tidelands Management notified owners that the state owned their land. The law was passed to allow the state to take other land owned by the city in exchange for the 47th Place tracts but according to Mayor Leonard Desiderio, three title companies are holding up the final resolution of this matter. Until it is settled, the owners cannot renovate or sell their lots. The city had sold the land in dispute to the state in 1942 for $1 for dredging and then turned around and sold it to a developer 23 years later, without ever getting title back from the state. It took the state a while to notice.
Benched for Good
COURT HOUSE – As of April 1, students attending the county Technical High School will no longer be able to play for Middle Township High School sports teams unless they are already on a team. According to Middle school officials this decision was made in the light of the fact that enrollment is expected to increase at the technical school and the desire to open more slots on team’s for those attending Middle. Students who share time between both schools will still be allowed to play on football, lacrosse, wrestling and tennis teams, which are not offered at the technical school, but full-time technical students will not.
OK Fishing Loan
ERMA – Freeholders March 14 approved  a $150,000 loan to MIJEPA of Racetrack Road, here, under the 22-year-old Commercial Fishing Revolving Loan Program.  The firm, whose principals are Michael Loper, Jeremy Krieg and Patrick Killen, will purchase a new engine for the fishing  vessel Equalizer. Term is seven years at 5 percent interest. The program was established to create and retain jobs for low and moderate-income persons.
More Is Less
CREST HAVEN – In apparent recognition of the county’s aging population, the county Communications Office last week distributed its 2006 county directory in a welcome larger type face and larger size overall than the last two years. Also larger: photos of the freeholders. Still tiny: photos of the constitutional officers who have suggested they get no respect from the freeholders. Public can get copies of the pocket-sized, 88-page directory at county libraries, the chamber of commerce, the main desk in the lobby of the county administration building here, or via the county Web site
New MUA Buyer
SWAINTON – The county MUA has promoted principal purchasing agent Sherry Woodrow of North Wildwood to purchasing agent, replacing William C. Deaver who retires March 31 after 21 years in that position with the agency. Deaver was honored by commissioners March 15 for his “exemplary efforts and dedication.”  Woodrow has been with the MUA for 19 years.
Recycling Rebates
SWAINTON – It’s for sure; they just don’t know how much yet.  County Solid Waste Manager John Baron told commissioners there will be a rebate to the municipalities in a couple months because revenue from sale of recyclables exceeded expenses and fees in 2005. This will be the second consecutive year for the rebate, the fifth time in 17 years. The rebate is due to higher prices for recyclables, not higher recycling rates.  The rebates disappear into municipal budgets, never to be seen again.
New Voter Concern
SWAINTON – County Administrator Steve O’Connor told county Chamber of Commerce directors at their luncheon meeting  at the Sand Barrens Golf Club here March 16 that overdevelopment has caught up with taxes as the issue of most concern to county residents.  Citing “political polls,” O’Connor said taxes always used to be the top issue, but a recent poll showed them about equal in the mid-30 percent. And in Ocean City, he said, overdevelopment has passed taxes by almost 5 percent.  “That’s significant,” he said.
Adopt County Budget
CREST HAVEN – Freeholders March 14 unanimously adopted their $128-million budget, up $4 million since introduced because $4 million was taken from surplus for a new Municipal Public Improvements grant program ($3.8 million) and an arts and culture grant program ($200,000).  Surplus of $16 million remains.  County equalized tax rate was cut 3.48 cents to 17.13 cents, a record low that amounts to  $171.30 for every $100,000 of assessed value, or $1,713 for a million-dollar property.
Spout Off Choices
RIO GRANDE – In case confusion is limiting some Herald readers from submitting their views via Spout Off, there is a separate form on the Herald Web site: for anonymous “print-only” submissions. To join the forum online, participants must register with a user name, password and e-mail address.
Lauds LoBiondo
CREST HAVEN – “Something  has to be done about  illegal immigration; people are damned tired of  our porous borders,” Freeholder Gerald M. Thornton said March 14 as the board passed a resolution supporting a House of Representatives bill requiring Homeland Security to prepare a “national defense critical infrastructure list.” It resulted from the Dubai Ports World controversy and Thornton, calling himself a veteran of 30 years in politics, lauded U.S. Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo (R-2nd), cosponsor of the bill, because “it’s not easy to stand up and oppose your own President.”
DRBA Nomination
CAPE MAY – Gov. Jon Corzine has submitted the name of this city’s Deputy Mayor Niels Favre to the State Senate for reappointment as a commissioner of the Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA). He was nominated by Gov. James. E. McGreevey in 2004 to fill the seat of Commissioner Charles E. Pessagno of Cape May who resigned. The DRBA commission has six members, three from this state and three from Delaware, appointed for five-year terms. This county has two members on the DRBA. The term of the other commissioner, Maureen Koebig of Court House, expires July 1, 2006. Favre is running for reelection in Cape May for a fourth term.
Sales Tax Hike
TRENTON – Gov. Jon Corzine is proposing a hike in the state sales tax from 6 to 7 percent as part of his 2006 budget. That increase is expected to bring the state an additional $1 billion. Sales tax could be expanded to include tanning salons, landscaping services, tattoo parlors, self-storage centers and massages. This would be the first hike in sales tax since 1990. Corzine inherited an almost $4 billion budget shortfall. He is also proposing a 35-cent tax increase on cigarettes, 5 cents on beer, and 10 cents on liquor and wine.
Two Dems Picked
VILLAS – The county Democratic Party has picked two candidates for the Lower Township November election, incumbent Second Ward councilman Wayne Mazurek and Harvey Roach, who will challenge Republican Stig Blomkvest for the Third Ward seat. Roach served on township commission from 1995 to 1998 and will retire from the Wildwood Police Department April 1. The Democrats have not chosen a candidate for Ward One to challenge Republican Tom Conrad. Current First Ward councilman Michael Beck is not seeking reelection.
Talking, Spilling VX
LEESBURG – Residents of Maurice River Township listened to representatives of the U.S. Army and DuPont March 16 tout the safety of dumping millions of gallons of treated VX nerve agent in the Delaware River. The dumping location in Deepwater is 30 miles upstream from oyster beds. A DuPont spokesman said the VX waste product can be treated and transported safely. The federal Environmental Protection Agency dropped its opposition to the plan to transporting the treated VX from Newport, Ind, in trucks to New Jersey. Maurice River Mayor Ron Riggins said not one resident at the meeting had a positive comment about the plan. Meanwhile, 300 gallons of VX wastewater was spilled at the Newport processing facility March 14. No injuries were reported. This was the fourth spill in a year.
Suspicious Deal
ERMA – After observing a suspected drug deal, Lower Township police arrested George A. Piccioni, 29, of Villas. Operating on an anonymous tip, police staked out the Pantry One convenience story at Sally Marshal Crossing. Piccioni was reportedly found to be in possession of suspected heroin, crack cocaine, drug paraphernalia and marijuana plus two sets of brass knuckles. He is being held on drug charges under $25,0000 bail in the county jail.
Voices of the Herald
RIO GRANDE – On this week’s Herald Podcast, available on the Herald Web site at, Editor Joe Zelnik and Assistant Managing Editor Al Campbell discuss the biggest new stories in Cape May County during the first three months of the year. Also, a segment on keeping the ocean waters clean from Cape May Point to Long Island. 
School Tax Up
WILDWOOD CREST – The school tax rate is expected to increase to a half-cent, under the district’s 2006-2007 $5.97 million spending plan. The new tax rate of 37.2 cents would equate to $372.30 for every $100,000 of assessed property value. According to the district, the proposed budget is funded by $5 million in local purpose taxes. Superintendent Dennis Anderson said that the numbers have not been finalized because the district is still waiting to learn how much state said it would receive. A public hearing is set for March 28 at 7 p.m. at the Crest Memorial School. 
Prison Sentence
COURT HOUSE – Superior Court Judge Raymond Batten called Wildwood Crest resident Andrew L. Edwards one of the largest local drug dealers that he had encountered and sentenced him on March 16 to 17 years in prison for selling cocaine in this county. Edwards, 45, was arrested on April 29 following an investigation of hand-to-hand drug sales and substantial amounts of cocaine.
Wildwood Robbery
WILDWOOD – Max McGrath, 27, of North Wildwood, was arrested March 15 after police identified him as being involved in a Feb. 23 robbery. According to reports, McGrath, a heavy-equipment operator, was involved in an incident in which a man was robbed at gunpoint in the 3200 block of New Jersey Avenue in Wildwood. McGrath was charged with first-degree robbery, possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, and held in the county jail on $100,000 bail.
Alleged DWI
GOSHEN – Catherine Powers’ pickup truck stuck a telephone pole and a stop sign at 4:37 p.m. on March 14, in a crash that shut down Goshen Road for more than five hours until downed power lines could be secured, said police. Powers, of Goshen, reportedly received only minor injuries the accident and was taken to Burdette Tomin Memorial Hospital. She was charged with driving while intoxicated and other traffic offenses. The crash is under investigation by Officer Jen Moore.
Drug Raid
WILDWOOD – An early morning raid on March 15 at a Lake Road apartment netted three drug related arrests. The SWAT team and uniformed patrol division, entered the apartment at 1 a.m. with a search warrant, found three people, and seized marijuana with a total street value of between $1,500 and $2,000 and cocaine with an estimated $600 to $700, according to reports. Police arrested Morrell Hoyle, 31, before he allegedly attempted to flush some of the drugs down a toilet. Hoyle, who lived in the apartment and had been out on bail at the time of this arrest, was charged with possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana, and other drug related offenses. He was lodged in the county jail on $100,000 bail. Police also arrested Denise Freeman, 46, who also lived in the apartment, and Senta Ava Kellar, 29, of North Wildwood.
COURT HOUSE – Theodore Marchina, 28, of Lower Township, pleaded guilty on March 16 to hitting Ericka Mungen with his pickup truck and then leaving the scene of the accident. The hit-and-run reportedly occurred on Sept. 19 as Marchina was on his was to work. Mungen, who was 22 and just had completed a term of service with the U.S. Navy, was walking on Hand Avenue with her brother on the way to a bus stop. Marchina, under the terms of his plea agreement, will be sentenced to three years in prison, a sentence which Mungen’s parents called pitiful.
Death Row Survivor
LINWOOD – Kirk Bloodsworth, the first death row inmate in America to be exonerated by DNA testing, is scheduled to speak at the next Coalition for Peace and Justice meeting on March 29 at 7 p.m. at the Linwood Library, 310 Davis Avenue. Bloodsworth was convicted and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a nine-year old girl, a crime he did not commit. He proved his innocence through DNA technology after nearly nine years in a Maryland prison.
Nab Alleged Robber
RIO GRANDE – A man entered Cape Savings Bank on Route 9 yesterday shortly after opening and demanded money. Given an undisclosed amount, the man then crossed the parking lot and entered the Sav-A-Lot food store where Middle Township police apprehended him. He reportedly told police he was destitute and had nowhere to go.
Complex Changes Name
RIO GRANDE – Construction is about to begin at this community’s municipal recreation complex, formerly known as Fort Apache Recreation Center. The 80-plus acre tract was formally renamed Monday at a township committee meeting as the Robert “Ockie” Wisting Fort Apache Recreation Complex. Wisting, a 51-year Rio Grande volunteer firefighter and former chief, died in February, and was buried with honors. During his career, he made over 3,600 emergency calls. Mayor F. Nathan Doughty presented a resolution to his widow, Doris. The complex will contain active and passive recreational amenities. Its initial phase will include five acres near the main entrance with several playing fields, accessible from Fulling Mill Road.
Townships Gets Grants
COURT HOUSE – Middle Township received a $252,500 Small Cities Community Development Block Grant March 17 from the state Department of Community Affairs. It plans to use the funds to assist Whitesboro homeowners with sanitary sewer connection fees and to cap existing on-site septic systems. Lower Township received $200,000 in a similar grant that it intends to use to fix 10 low and middle income single family homes in North Cape May. Those repairs will include heating system upgrades and correcting code violations.

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