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News Digest 4.19.2006

By Rick Racela

Lobster House Reopens
SCHELLINGERS LANDING – The Lobster House restaurant reopened April 11 after being closed since last September following a fire in a storage area. Dining rooms and an upstairs kitchen suffered smoke and water damage. Unemployment benefit for 250 workers expired a few weeks ago. Walls and chairs were refinished. New carpeting has been installed. A seafood market and take-out remained open while renovations took place.
Douglass in Primary
VILLAS – Glenn Douglass will challenge Lower Township Councilman Stig Blomkvest for the Republican nomination in the Third Ward in the June 6 primary election. Douglass lost a Republican Party preference vote in March and asked for a second vote, questioning absentee ballots. A second vote was not held. Douglass has resigned as a Republican committee member, fulfilling a promise not to run against another committee member, Blomkvest. Lower Township Republican Party leader and Lower Township Mayor Walter Craig said the party’s endorsement and money would be directed to Blomkvest.
Open to Debate
CAPE MAY – The Taxpayers Association of Cape May and the county League of Women Voters will host a debate for candidates for city council here, April 27 at 7 p.m. at Cape May Elementary School auditorium. Seven candidates have been invited to participate. Each candidate has been given the opportunity to respond in writing to their positions on: school taxes, parking, convention hall, condominium conversions and the city’s form of government. The debate will be limited to 90 minutes. To accommodate the debate, the elementary school’s board of education meeting will be scheduled for 6 p.m. with a work session beginning at 5 p.m.
Sole Returns
ERMA – After serving seven-and-half-months with the U.S. Marines in Iraq, Gene Sole is returning to the Lower Cape May Regional School district and his new position as assistant principal of the Richard M. Teitelman School. He was greeted by more than 300 people, Boy Scouts and bands from the high school and middle school when he disembarked from the Cape May-Lewes Ferry April 9. Sole will take a month off before assuming his duties at the school.
Church Wins Approval
BURLEIGH — The Lighthouse Church, Christian and Missionary Alliance, won approval from Middle Township Zoning Board of Adjustment on April 13 to proceed with plans for a 37,500-square-foot church at 1248 Route 9 South. Many congregation members attended the hearing for the use variance. “It was a good night,” said Pastor Rudy Sheptock, the church’s pastor since 1997. “I feel blessed to be in the community at the time we do. The zoning committee is our neighbors and friends,” Sheptock said. Church members still need to secure a CAFRA permit and obtain other local approvals.
The End Is Near
OCEAN CITY – The tide may be turning on surging sale prices for properties in such coastal towns as Ocean City, according to a survey in the Wall Street Journal April 14. Grouped with Naples, Fla., Santa Barbara, Calif., and others, the Journal said rentals are strong in Ocean City, but “single-family and condominium sales in March fell by two-thirds from a year earlier” and quoted the president of the Ocean City Board of Realtors as saying, “We all knew it was going to come to an end.”
Bruno Defects
OCEAN CITY – Gus Bruno, county Republican organization candidate who defeated incumbent State Committeeman Tony DiSimone last year, resigned the post last week in order to back Democrat Salvatore Perillo in the race for mayor here. That’s a no-no according to party rules.  County GOP Chairman David VonSavage did not return calls, but it is assumed Republican committeepeople will elect Bruno’s replacement. There are four candidates in the technically nonpartisan race. The others: Democratic Councilman Jody Alessandrine, Republican Councilman Frank McCall and Robert Miller.
CRDA $ to Parks
CREST HAVEN  – Last week the county executed an interlocal agreement with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) to receive $1 million toward a $7-million “enhancement” at the county park and zoo. A $6-million bond issue will fund the balance. Project includes an additional 500 parking spaces, a 2,400 square foot gift shop, 1,600 square foot snack bar, 300-seat amphitheater, and special events areas and zoo exhibits. The agreement said the project should be completed by October 2007 and will create 135 temporary construction jobs and five permanent jobs.
30-Second Pitches
CREST HAVEN – The county last week contracted with Comcast for 2,220 30-second tourism advertising spots on six networks in Philadelphia and suburbs from April 3-June 25 at a cost of $51,061. The networks: A&E, Family, Lifetime, TNT, the Golf Channel and the Weather Channel.
Contract Grows
STONE HARBOR – Cost of the $2.13-million reconstruction of 96th Street from the Great Channel bridge to Third Avenue climbed by $52,505 last week. The biggest change order item in the county contract with Marandino Concrete Company of Vineland was $43,752 to supply and install light poles with two fixtures.
Open Space Borrowing
CREST HAVEN – Freeholders April 11 approved a $10-million bond ordinance to okay short-term borrowing to finance open space purchases.  The one-cent open space tax brings in about $4 million a year, but the program has some $13.7 million in projects pending. The borrowing is a first.
Ok Farm Appraisals
TUCKAHOE – The county last week gave contracts to J. Paul Bainbridge of Court House and R. A. Hagel & Associates of Vineland, at $2,700 and $2,800, respectively, to conduct appraisals of the 25-acre Christine Mason farm here. Bainbridge will do an update, Hagel a new appraisal. The county is slated to purchase the development easement under its Open Space and Farmland Preservation Program.
Take It Down
NORTH WILDWOOD – Superior Court Judge Valerie Armstrong ordered John Strothers to take down a two-story addition to his North Wildwood home, after ruling it was an illegal structure on March 29. Strothers’ neighbors, John and Sally Cortese, filed the lawsuit after they had returned from Philadelphia to their summer duplex and found a new full second and third floor next door, instead of the much smaller addition they expected. Strothers had approval to build a partial second floor with a setback to minimize impact to Corteses’ views and access to light and air. Judge Armstrong reversed the city’s zoning board’s after-the-fact variance for the three-story structure and noted any financial hardship was self-created and the illegal structure should come down. Strothers has until mid-May to appeal.
Talk to Legislators
DENNISVILLE – The Dennis Township Board of Education is sponsoring another Legislative Forum at the Primary School on Hagen Road April 25 at 7 p.m.  U.S. Senators Frank Lautenberg (D) and Robert Menendez (D), U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2nd) and Gov. Jon Corzine (D) are invited to attend but none has confirmed, according to Board President John Robertson.  State legislators, Sen. Nicholas Asselta (R-1st) and Assemblymen Jeff Van Drew and Nelson Albano, both D-1st, are expected to attend, said Robertson. County school superintendents and business administrators are also invited, as well as school board members and the general public. The board held a similar meeting last October.
Prom Gowns to Go
NORTH CAPE MAY – There’s been an overwhelming response of donations and Jean Everly is ready to dress any young lady who can not afford to buy a prom gown with a complete formal outfit through the Fairy Godmother program she started this year. She doesn’t have a show room, so appointments have to be made with her at Heart to Heart flower shop here – 886-5112 – to see the selection of gowns, shoes and accessories. If you just cleaned out that closet and found a formal dress you won’t be using again, call her to add to her collection.
Tourism Awards
COURT HOUSE – The county’s Department of Tourism was recognized for excellence at last week’s Governor’s Conference in Atlantic City. One award went to Director Diane Wieland for creating a television marketing campaign by partnering with area businesses. A second award went to Southern New Jersey Vacationer, a regional marketing magazine that promotes tourism here and in Atlantic and Cumberland counties.
Church Leaving Town
SEA ISLE CITY – The Messiah Lutheran Church at 42nd Street and Landis Avenue will pilgrimage to the mainland, after 90 years in the city. With a majority of the congregation residing outside of the city, the number of parishioners has been in steady decline. Church membership is in the high 80s, but only about half attend Sunday masses. The church decided to sell it’s building and put the money towards the new church. Funds from the sale might also be used to hire a full-time pastor. The last service will be April 23, at which point the congregation will use temporary quarters until the parish’s new church is built in rural Dennis Township.  
Sand Dune Violation
SEA ISLE CITY – The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted an on-sight investigation and issued an oral violation notice March 28, after it received a resident’s complaint regarding the removal of sand dunes on 45th Street. According to city Engineer Andrew Previti, the city moved the sand in order to prevent it from flowing onto the street while a deteriorated retaining wall on the west side of the promenade was replaced. “The city has a permit to maintain beaches and dune areas and we feel that this was covered under the permit,” explained Previti. The DEP is currently evaluating the situation and will likely issue a written notice soon, according to spokesperson Elaina Makatura.
Vehicular Homicide
COURT HOUSE – Richard D. Lynch, 37 of Dennis Twp. was indicted April 11 and charged with vehicular homicide. The victim, Patricia M. Krouse, 85 of North Cape May, was struck by Lynch’s sports utility vehicle while traveling on Route 47 in the Goshen section of the township. Krouse was pronounced dead at the scene, while Lynch was transferred to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center for arm and head injuries. The indictment claims that Lynch’s reckless driving caused Krouse’s death. Additionally, Lynch was charged with endangering the welfare of a child. According to reports, he was legally responsible for two children, ages 4 and 7, and allegedly had neglected or abused them.
Dog Beater Indicted
COURT HOUSE – James P. Kelly IV, of Somers Point, was indicted April 11 on the charge that he beat a dog so badly it had to be euthanized. Brendal, the late Chihuahua-papillon mix, was discovered in a portable toilet by his Ocean City owner about a block away from her home. Brendal was put to sleep by an emergency veterinary service in Linwood when it was clear his injuries were too severe. Kelly is charged with the third-degree crime of animal cruelty and could face from three to five years if convicted at trial. Kelly, then 18, allegedly became upset with the dog while watching it, leading him to severely beat it. The Philadelphia Advocates for Animals and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wrote to Cape May County Prosecutor Robert L. Taylor to request that Kelly undergo counseling if convicted. 
Investigation Nets Two
WILDWOOD – Raymond R. Perez, 21, of Philadelphia, Pa. and Kamir Harris, 20, of this community, were charged with drug possession April 13 after an investigation into a report of drug activity at an apartment at 6600 New Jersey Avenue. The county S.W.A.T. Team allegedly discovered an undisclosed amount of cocaine, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia when the apartment was raided around 2:30 p.m. Perez and Harris were charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession with intent to distribute, possession of a hypodermic needle, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana. Both are being held on default of $35,000 cash bail at the county jail.
B.K. Robbery
RIO GRANDE – Middle Township Police arrested three subjects in connection to the Burger King Restaurant robbery on Route 47 April 12. According to police, Theodore M. Simmons, 30, and Morris W. Harden Jr., 23, both of Wildwood, were charged with robbery, theft, aggravated assault and conspiracy to commit robbery. Simmons was sent to the county jail on $25,000 bail, while Harden went to jail on $75,000 bail. Josette Hill, 21, of Court House was charged with robbery, theft, and conspiracy to commit robbery, said police. Hill was released on a summons.
Teen Thieves Charged
SEA ISLE CITY – According to police, Michael P. Gifford, 18, and a 17-year-old juvenile, both of this community, were charged with stealing cameras, phones, sunglasses, and loose change from an unlocked car on April 16, Easter Sunday. A homeowner reported the alleged theft to police when she spotted someone going through her car early in the morning. The two teens were reportedly seen sprinting from block to block, ultimately trapped between 82nd and 83rd streets. Both admitted their guilt, according to police. Gifford was sent to the county jail in lieu of $25,000 bail, while the youth was sent to the Bridgeton Youth Center. Residents should keep their vehicles locked and report all suspicious activity to the police.
Medical Reserve Corps
COURT HOUSE – The county Department of Health is seeking individuals to be part of the county Medical Reserve Corps. Health care professionals and community volunteers are encouraged to join. The Medical Reserve Corps are seeking to develop a prepared, trained workforce of volunteers to service the community in the event of a public health emergency. The state currently has Medical Reserve Corps in 21 counties. For more information call Community Health Planner Mary Pat Hastings at 463-6575.
Bridge Closing
CAPE MAY – Police closed the bridge on Route 109 to Lafayette Street before noon Tuesday after county road construction crews hit a natural gas line near the Cape May Riggins service station near Lafayette Street, according to Police Chief Diane Sorantino. Traffic was diverted to the Seashore Road bridge until the break could be capped.
The End Is Near
OCEAN CITY – The tide may be turning on surging sale prices for properties in such coastal towns as Ocean City, according to a survey in the Wall Street Journal April 14. Grouped with Naples, Fla., Santa Barbara, Calif., and others, the Journal said rentals are strong in Ocean City, but “single-family and condominium sales in March fell by two-thirds from a year earlier” and quoted the president of the Ocean City Board of Realtors as saying, “We all knew it was going to come to an end.”
Bruno Defects
OCEAN CITY – Gus Bruno, county Republican organization candidate who defeated incumbent State Committeeman Tony DiSimone last year, resigned the post last week in order to back Democrat Salvatore Perillo in the race for mayor here. That’s a no-no according to party rules.  County GOP Chairman David VonSavage did not return calls, but it is assumed Republican committeepeople will elect Bruno’s replacement. There are four candidates in the technically nonpartisan race. The others: Democratic Councilman Jody Alessandrine, Republican Councilman Frank McCall and Robert Miller.
CRDA $ to Parks
CREST HAVEN  – Last week the county executed an interlocal agreement with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) to receive $1 million toward a $7-million “enhancement” at the county park and zoo. A $6-million bond issue will fund the balance. Project includes an additional 500 parking spaces, a 2,400 square foot gift shop, 1,600 square foot snack bar, 300-seat amphitheater, and special events areas and zoo exhibits. The agreement said the project should be completed by October 2007 and will create 135 temporary construction jobs and five permanent jobs.
30-Second Pitches
CREST HAVEN – The county last week contracted with Comcast for 2,220 30-second tourism advertising spots on six networks in Philadelphia and suburbs from April 3-June 25 at a cost of $51,061. The networks: A&E, Family, Lifetime, TNT, the Golf Channel and the Weather Channel.
Contract Grows
STONE HARBOR – Cost of the $2.13-million reconstruction of 96th Street from the Great Channel bridge to Third Avenue climbed by $52,505 last week. The biggest change order item in the county contract with Marandino Concrete Company of Vineland was $43,752 to supply and install light poles with two fixtures.
Open Space Borrowing
CREST HAVEN – Freeholders April 11 approved a $10-million bond ordinance to okay short-term borrowing to finance open space purchases.  The one-cent open space tax brings in about $4 million a year, but the program has some $13.7 million in projects pending. The borrowing is a first.
Ok Farm Appraisals
TUCKAHOE – The county last week gave contracts to J. Paul Bainbridge of Court House and R. A. Hagel & Associates of Vineland, at $2,700 and $2,800, respectively, to conduct appraisals of the 25-acre Christine Mason farm here. Bainbridge will do an update, Hagel a new appraisal. The county is slated to purchase the development easement under its Open Space and Farmland Preservation Program.

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