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News Digest 3.8.2006

By Rick Racela

 
Buesing Candidate
COURT HOUSE – Middle Township Regular Republican Organization Monday endorsed Matthew Buesing, 24, of here, as the party’s township committee candidate to oppose Democrat Steve Barry for the seat being vacated by Committeeman Charles Leusner, who chose not to seek reelection. Buesing, who is on the local school board,  said he looked “forward to a lively debate on the challenging issues that face” the community. He mentioned expansion of township committee from three to five members, promoting families and services to children and seniors, better municipal planning, and improving public safety. Eric Springer, Middle Township High School teacher, indicated interest in the race, but withdrew and endorsed Buesing, according to Robert “Budd” Springer, assistant GOP leader.
Cottage Complaint
SEA ISLE CITY – Neighbor Lazzoro Santella opposed Edward J. Harrold and Wendy R. Zuckowsky’s application to demolish and rebuild their single-family residence on 88th street at the March 6 Zoning Board meeting. Santella owns a little cottage between Harrold’s and Zuckowsky’s property and a duplex. “I’m representing that little guy in the back,” he explained. Santella was concerned about the air conditioner system that would be “loud and disruptive,” a proposed shed that could contain flammables, and the possibility of a fence that would be erected in front of his bedroom. Harrold and Zuchowsky assured Santella that the shed would house bikes and no gasoline, the air conditioner would be moved to the other side of the house, and that they have no plans for a fence. The application was unanimously approved by the board and will be memorialized at next month’s meeting.  
 
Crash Claims Life
BURLEIGH – On Feb. 28, Middle Township police responded to an 11:55 p.m. report of a one-vehicle accident on Shunpike Road, just south of Oyster Road. On arrival, police found a Nissan Maxima, operated by James Didio, 50, of Court House blocking the southbound lane. Didio was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics. Police investigators found Didio apparently crossed the Oyster Road intersection, and lost control. The car reportedly struck a tree, and was catapulted back onto the roadway. There were no witnesses.
 
Set Special Meeting
COURT HOUSE – Middle Township Zoning Board of Adjustment will hold a special meeting March 28 at 6:30 p.m. at 33 Mechanic St. to act on an application by Russell Swan for property at 7 Bay Avenue. The application involves use and hardship variances and site plan.
Will It Fly?
COURT HOUSE – Former Middle Township Mayor Michael Voll, a Democrat, made public his recommendation of a Mayor-Council form of government, should voters approve a change in township committee size. That’s an idea Republicans have had and hope to collect over 500 signatures on a petition to place as a referendum on the November ballot. Under Voll’s plan, the 18 voting districts would be divided by six, with a council representing three districts, and a seventh council person at large. All would hold four-year terms, he said, and the mayor would also run for four years. He believes it would give the diverse population better representation than the present three-member committee established in 1798. He’d also pay council $5,000 each with no health benefits, while the mayor would get $15,000. Mayor F. Nathan Doughty sees no reason to increase committee’s size.
Cameras On, Finally
COURT HOUSE – The long-awaited surveillance cameras were finally placed into service at Middle Township High School. Part of the $36,000 cost was covered by a $15,000 federal COPS Secure Our Schools grant. The remainder was shared by township and school district.
Tough Time to Be Poor
CREST HAVEN – “Tough times are coming,” warned Freeholder Gerald M. Thornton March 1. He wasn’t predicting grass growing in the streets, but the results from federal budget cuts for social service programs, plus the likelihood the state may do the same. Thornton, county liaison to social services, told the Human Services Advisory  Council that service providers would have to “look for efficiencies.”
EIP Moving
CREST HAVEN – Whoever supplies the Early Intervention Program, discontinued by the county Special Services School District, it won’t be ARC of Cape May County or anyone based in this county. Instead of a general request for proposals, as urged by Special Services School District Superintendent Barbara J. Makowski, the state Department of Health and Senior Services is recruiting from some 22 agencies enrolled with the Southern New Jersey Regional Early Intervention Collaborative, which has no Cape May County members. Executive Director Jennifer Busby told the Herald eight have expressed interest. Services are provided in their homes to children with disabilities and cost of travel time from Special Services here was one of the reasons it dropped the program.
County Budget Delay
CREST HAVEN – Freeholders postponed adopting their 2006 budget until 7 p.m. March 14 in order to amend it to add $3.8 million to establish a  Municipal Capital Improvement Program and $200,000 to fund arts and cultural organizations. Details on both programs are still being developed. Those expenditures, which come out of surplus, raise the budget to $128 million, compared to last year’s $117 million, a 9 percent increase. The tax rate is cut 3.48 cents to 17.13 cents. The surplus is reduced to $16 million.
Satisfying Ruth
CREST HAVEN – Nothing was going to satisfy South Dennis environmentalist Ruth Fisher at the county’s Feb. 28 budget hearing. First she asked freeholders why they were “so adamant” in their opposition to increasing the Prosecutor’s budget. Then, she said it should get no more money until it solved the1990 Susan Negersmith murder. Later she criticized what she thought was an appropriation for a new Department of Mosquito Control helicopter. Told that had been eliminated, she commented that the department was operating with “two antiquated helicopters.”
Listen to the Herald
RIO GRANDE – Beginning today, the Herald Web site (www.capemaycountyherald.com) features a weekly 10-minute audio show called the Herald Podcast. Look for a box on the Herald’s main page and click to listen on your computer or download it to an iPOD or mp3 player and take it with you while walking the dog or riding the bus. Guests on the first Herald Podcast are: Richard Perniciaro of Atlantic Cape Community College, who offers insights on motels being replaced by multitudes of condos in the county, and Cape May Deputy Mayor Niels Favre who announces a national award that city’s beaches have won. A Podcast is similar to a radio program that you can listen to anytime on your computer. 
Discrimination Suit
WEST CAPE MAY  –  The borough has settled a discrimination suit with former employe David Stoddard for $28,000. He was fired in 2004. Stoddard also sued former Mayor Robert Jackson and former Public Works Supervisor Claude Wise. Stoddard alleged Jackson made discriminatory and humiliating comments in front of another borough employe. Wise allegedly committed discriminatory acts against Stoddard, who suffered disabilities from a 1978 car accident. The settlement was covered by the Joint Insurance Fund.
Kennedy Runs Again
SEA ISLE CITY – Police Chief William Kennedy is once again running for a seat on the city’s board of education. He is one of five candidates vying for three available three-year seats. A one-year seat is also opened. Kennedy sued the school board twice, while a member, but was forced to resign after Department of Education Commissioner William Librera ruled that he couldn’t serve on the same board that he was suing. 
Police Chase
COURT HOUSE – Robert W. Raff, 28, admitted March 2 to leading police on a long car chase through Del Haven and Rio Grande on Dec. 30 of last year. The chase took place in the morning, while other vehicles were on the road, according to Raff. He admitted to selling cocaine to an undercover officer July 29, and to having cocaine in his vehicle Oct. 14, both in Rio Grande. Raff will be sentenced to seven years in state prison as well as four concurrent four-year prison terms for drug possession and distribution. He will be sentenced May 12.
Charges Dismissed
COURT HOUSE – A fingerprint proved Wen Ke Chen’s innocence in connection with a home invasion in North Cape May Aug. 29. Chen, of New York City, was originally arrested after being identified in a police photo. He was charged with breaking into a home on Roseann Avenue along with a 17-year-old juvenile. Both were allegedly armed with knives. He was cleared March 2 after new evidence found that a fingerprint on the duct tape used to bind the victims was not his print.
GOP Chair Sues
WEST CAPE MAY – County Republican Chairman David Von Savage is suing the borough to prevent a sewer extension to many lots next to his home on Sunset Boulevard. The sewer line could allow for development next to his home. The suit names the Borough of West Cape May and adjacent neighbors Edward and Barbara Belski. It claims that the borough’s decision to allow a sewer-extension permit adversely affects the plaintiffs. The suit also claims that a sewer application from Edward Belski was “approved” and “denied” and that an approval might violate the state’s Coastal Area Facility Review Act.
Charge Sex Assault
GREEN CREEK – Tyrone L. Payne, 32, was charged with aggravated sexual assault against a 15-year-old Feb. 28. Payne had reportedly served as the girl’s caretaker, but the two were unrelated, according to Middle Township Police Capt. Scott Webster. The 10-month investigation used DNA testing. Payne is confined to the county jail on $200,000 cash bail.     
    
Another Chance
NORTH WILDWOOD – If you’re still unhappy with your assessment, residents of this city will have another chance to speak with Tyler Technologies/CLT, the company that conducted the revaluations, said Mayor Bill Henfey. Letters to taxpayers, dated March 3, state that they should contact Tyler/CLT no later than 10 days from the date of the letter for assistance in completing paperwork for filing an appeal. Individuals will be responsible for actual filing and any fees. The additional hearings are set for March 7 – 24 at the North Wildwood Recreation Center, Ninth and Central avenues.
St. Patrick’s Parade
NORTH WILDWOOD – St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are slated to begin a little earlier this year. The city’s annual parade will take place on March 11 after a noontime ceremony outside City Hall.
Store Clerk Maced
VILLAS – A 16-year-old was charged with aggravated assault after allegedly spraying a store clerk in the face and neck with mace. The juvenile, who appeared to be intoxicated, was “hanging out” in the American Deli on Bayshore Road on Feb. 28 at approximately 7:30 p.m., said police. The clerk, 29-year old Ryan Devine, reportedly asked the juvenile to leave because he was not going to buy anything. According to police, the 16-year-old allegedly attacked Devine with mace when he walked outside the store to throw out the trash. The juvenile was charged with aggravated assault, possession of a weapon, and supplying false information to a police officer. He was lodged in the juvenile detention center in Bridgeton.
Promotions Listed
CAPE MAY – Officer John Bobik and Officer Shawn Austin, two veteran officers, were sworn in as sergeants Feb. 28. Sgt. Bobik, who began his career with the Cape May Police Department in 1992, is assigned to the Patrol Division and assumes responsibility for Squad 2. Sgt. Austin began his career with the department as a seasonal officer in 1990. He was permanently hired in 1994 and has been assigned to the Detective Division for several years now. As a detective sergeant, his responsibilities will expand to include supervision of the Investigative Bureau as well as the Juvenile and Community Policing Units.   
Out of Gas
VILLAS – A chase, with top speeds of 55 miles per hour, ended in the arrest of a local man, after his car ran out of gas during a police pursuit. William J. Lloyd, 46, of West Greenwood Avenue, was suspected of driving intoxicated when his truck was reported moving erratically by Cpl. Ed Dougherty at 4 a.m. on Feb. 28 on Breakwater Road. When Dougherty turned on his emergency lights and siren, Lloyd took off on a 20-minute chase through Villas, according to reports. Police said that when Lloyd’s truck ran out of gas on Greenwood Avenue, he fled on foot and jumped in a boat that was in storage in a neighborhood yard. Patrolman Shaun Whittington was reportedly struck in the mouth when trying to remove Lloyd from the boat. Lloyd was charged with eluding police and aggravated assault on a police officer and may also be charged with driving under the influence and several motor vehicle violations. He was lodged in the county jail in lieu of $25,000 bail. Lloyd also faces outstanding warrants from Wildwood for burglary, theft, and eluding police and bail for those charges was also set at $25,000. 
 
Drug Raid
WILDWOOD – A raid of an apartment on West Maple Avenue on March 5 led to the arrest of William Charles McNeal, 44, and Nicholas Martin Calogero, 45, two Wildwood residents. According to reports, police searched the apartment at 3:20 p.m. and found about 60 bags of suspected cocaine and about 50 bags of suspected heroin along with other drug paraphernalia. McNeal, an unemployed resident of Roberts Avenue, and Calogero, an unemployed resident of West Maple Avenue, were both charged with possession of heroin, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, possession of cocaine, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school zone and 500 feet of a public place and possession of drug paraphernalia. McNeal was lodged in the county jail in lieu of $50,000 bail. Calogero was released on his own recognizance. 
Peace Vigils
RIO GRANDE – The Coalition for Peace and Justice will be holding peace vigils on March 18 from noon to 1 p.m. at the corner of Ninth Street and West Avenue in Ocean City. Also on March 18, another vigil will be held from 3-4 p.m. in Rio Grande at Routes 9 and 47 intersection. 
 
Mock Trial Update
NEW BRUNSWICK – Bad weather March 2 kept Middle Township High School and other regional winners from competing in the semi-final round in the state mock trial competition here. March 20 was already designated as the date for the final state round. According to the State Bar Foundation that runs the program with the state Bar Association, all the semi-finals will also take place that day in the morning with the state finals between the two team left standing in the afternoon.
Charged with DWI
ERMA – Following an investigation into a single car accident here on Weeks Landing Road Feb. 27, police have now charged the driver, Steve Wilson, 45, of here, with driving while intoxicated. Wilson rolled over the vehicle he was driving around 4 p.m. and had to be extradited from it by firefighters from Erma and Villas. He was taken to the hospital and released after being treated.
Trial Moves On
COURT HOUSE – Jury selection went forward Monday in the trial of Burleigh resident Timothy Kakembo for aggravated sexual assault. The charge stems from an incident in the summer of 2004 when the defendant was 39 and involved with a young female who is now 10. Kakembo pled guilty last June but then rescinded his plea, despite prosecutor objections. He is subject to conviction for this first-degree offense that carries a possible prison sentence of 10-20 years. He is also charged with the second-degree crime of endangering the welfare of a child that could put him in jail for five to 10 years.
One Year Less
COURT HOUSE – A ruling by the state Supreme Court abolishing presumptive prison terms required Superior Court Judge Raymond Batten to reconsider the 32-year sentence of Dorothy F. Haines, 27. This Ocean City woman pled guilty in 2003 to aggravated manslaughter in the death of her girlfriend Suzanne Stiehl in December 2002. Following the killing of Stiehl, who was then 39, Haines, to avoid apprehension, dismembered the body and hid parts of it in Atlantic City, Deptford Township and near Route 9 in Pleasantville. Batten did not change the 27-year sentence he had imposed on the manslaughter charge but did reduce the sentence for hindering apprehension from five to four years.
JCOW Update
WILDWOOD – Of the 79 island properties facing violations due to the buildings being “misdesignated,” one property has come to an agreement with architects, builders, condominium owners, and the Joint Construction Office of the Wildwoods, according to attorney Glenn Callahan, who represents JCOW.
“We’re hoping to use that model for other properties facing the similar situation,” said Callahan, who could not go into specifics citing attorney client privilege.
Callahan said that a meeting between members of the condo associations, builders, architects, and JCOW officials is being planned for March 25 at 10 a.m. the location is tentatively set at the Wildwood High School.
Letters will be sent to parties involved with detailed information as to the place and the time, he said.
The goal, according to Callahan, will be to agree on a process on how to go about “fixing the problem.”
The problem, stemmed from a letter from JCOW construction official Mario Zaccaria sent in February. The notice stated, “during a recent sampling of properties in the Wildwoods the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs concluded that a number of properties, such as yours, had been misdesignated in the permitting process.”
The letter explains that the developer or designer treated the buildings like it was designated R-3.
“In fact, upon review, it appears that the proper designation would be R-2.”
R-2 properties are required to meet certain standards regarding firewall separation, fire-suppression systems, and means of exit for occupants given the number of units.
The letter states that the building must be brought up to code by March 27 or condo owners would face a fine of up to $2,000 per week per violation.
In the meantime, some 500-condominium owners, were able to get a reprieve. The fines were suspended until further notice and condo owners do not have to meet any deadlines in order to appeal the notices.
“We’re looking for a fair and equitable solution,” said Callahan. “The ultimate intent is to avoid having the condo association pay for it.”
Contact Huggins at: (609) 886-8600 ext. 25 or lhuggins@cmcherald.com
 

Spout Off

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