Monday, October 2, 2023

News Digests – 6-28-2006

By Rick Racela

Swimmers Rescued
OCEAN CITY – Ocean City police officers pulled two unidentified men from the surf June 25 about 7:30 p.m. Called to the Eighth Street beach here along with firefighters, police saw the two men in the water and in distress. Using floatation devices and a tether rope, three officers went into the water and managed to pull the men to safety. The swimmers had scrapes and cuts on their legs and stomachs from being forced against a drainage pipe by the rough surf and a rip current. They were evaluated at the scene and did not need medical treatment.
Later Guards Earlier
OCEAN CITY – City council approved extended lifeguard hours at the Eighth, Ninth and 12th street beaches starting last weekend. In the past, July 4 was the normal start for the extended hours on Friday and Saturdays, which keep guards on the beach until 7 p.m. Officials said the drowning of a seven-year-old on June 18 and another rescue of a distressed swimmer June 20 did not prompt the change. Both occurred after lifeguards had left for the day. The after-hours program also extends beyond Labor Day and reportedly will cost the city between $15,000 and $20,000.
Reneges Kingpin Plea
COURT HOUSE – Almost six years after receiving a 30-year prison sentence following the entry of a guilty plea to being a drug kingpin, Harold Watkins, 44, of Middle Township, successfully convinced the court to reverse his plea. On an application for post-conviction relief before Superior Court Jude Carmen Alvarez last week, she agreed with Watkins’ claim that he never admitted to being a drug kingpin, as defined by state law, despite acknowledging that he sold narcotics and gave money to others to purchase drugs out of state to sell here. Watkins has been remanded to county jail to await trial, where he could face a life sentence instead of being eligible for parole after 15 years under his 30-year sentence. The prosecutor’s office will reportedly appeal the court’s decision.
Fight Ends in Cuffs
WILDWOOD – City police broke up an altercation at Schellenger Avenue and the Boardwalk June 23 just before 5 p.m. After taking Charles Junior Butler, 32, and Jonathan Thomas Bradley, 20, both of Philadelphia, the combatants, into custody for alleged possession of distribution qualities of controlled dangerous substances, police said they determined that Butler was wanted on an arrest warrant for a recent homicide in Philadelphia. Police there and the FBI were notified of Butler’s whereabouts and he was charged with being a fugitive from justice and $500,000 bail was set by superior court. He was also charged with a number of drug offenses and obstruction of justice and the city municipal court imposed bail at $15,000. Bradley was also charged with a number of drug offenses and bail was set at $25,000 by municipal court. Both men are lodged in county jail.
Moving Forward
NORTH WILDWOOD – The city approved the Seaport Pier redevelopment plan, in a 6-1 vote on June 20, and took another step in breathing new life into the pier, which sits on the east side of the boardwalk at 22nd and 23rd avenues. It may not look like much now, but the city hopes that the dilapidated structure will one day become home to an aquarium, spa, or maybe an upscale restaurant with second floor office buildings that overlook the beach. Professional municipal planner Stewart Wiser, along with the firm of Remington, Vernick & Walberg Engineers told council that he expects responses back from developers by Aug. 4 and that the city could designate a redeveloper as early as Sept. 1. “Very optimistically speaking, we could have something in place for next summer,” Wiser said.
Complaint Dismissed
WILDWOOD – Superior Court Judge Darryl F. Todd Sr. dismissed a complaint by Wildwood Police Officer David Romeo against Joshua Baker for assault and battery on June 15. The judge did not dismiss the entire case, only part of the lawsuit, and noted that the discovery period runs until Aug. 4. The case stems from a Sept. 21, 2002 incident in which Romeo and other officers tried to break up a crowd at the intersection of Spencer and Atlantic avenues during a Boardwalk Classic Car Show. Romeo filed a lawsuit against brothers John Hruska and Baker, both of Middle Township. The brothers countersued and cited a home video of the incident as proof they did not injure Romeo.
Exiting JCOW?
WILDWOOD CREST – Will the borough pull out of the embattled Joint Construction Office of the Wildwoods? Borough Administrator Kevin Yecco said Monday he was unable to comment on the borough’s continued participation. But he conceded the matter was scheduled to be discussed by commissioners in closed session at 7 tonight. Look for an update Thursday on the Herald’s Web site.
Is it Ethical?
NORTH WILDWOOD – The Ethics Committee could not vote June 26 on a complaint filed by Independent candidate and founder of the group Families Opposing Waterpark Liquor, or FOWL, Kathy Martin, because not enough voting members were available. Martin alleges in her complaint that Council President Patrick Rosenello was conflicted and should not have voted on an ordinance that permitted the sale of alcoholic beverages in a water park. Committee members Scott Jett and Gene Laffey excused themselves from voting due to conflicts of interests and Bernice Sullivan was absent due to illness. Chairperson Ruby Hall directed the board solicitor to inform council that two alternate members need to be appointed to temporarily replace Jett and Laffey.
Suit Dropped
NORTH WILDWOOD – The lawsuit challenging the city’s recent revaluation has been dropped as of this Monday, the same day Judge Joseph C. Small was set to hear a number of motions filed by the city and others asking that the lawsuit be dismissed. Alexander and Margaret Schernecke, on behalf of the Wildwood Taxpayers Association, had filed suit in state tax court in April that claimed the reval resulted in overvalued and inconsistent valuation throughout the city. The suit named the city along with Tyler Technologies/CLT Division, the company the performed the reval, as well as the county tax board and the city’s tax assessor.
Jump In
CREST HAVEN – County Health Department tests of 67 ocean and bay recreational sites June 19-21 found all below the state set limit for enterococcus bacteria of 104 per 100-millileter sample. High readings were found at three environmental locations where recreation activities are not recommended. In Middle Township, a reading of 150 was found at the entrance to Stone Harbor Marina. In West Wildwood at Neptune and Poplar avenues, a sample read 350. In Cape May, at the Delaware Avenue outfall pipe, a reading of 220 was collected. For updated reports, call the hotline, 465-2422.
Train’s Coming
COLD SPRING – You may have noticed a lack of Cape May Seashore Lines trains so far this summer. Normal service from Cape May to Court House will resume this weekend. New Jersey Transit has been repairing the electrical system on the Cape May Canal Railroad Bridge, which halted trains to Cape May. Much of Cape May Seashore Lines equipment, formerly stored in Rio Grande, is now in Tuckahoe, according to Tony Macrie, railroad president. Saturday service from Tuckahoe to Richland in Atlantic County will resume in mid July, he said. The railroad will operate three roundtrips daily, seven days a week from Cape May to Court House.
AC Investment
CAPE MAY – Developer Curtis Bashaw, an owner of Congress Hall Hotel and Sandpiper Condominiums here is reportedly part of an investment group buying 11 acres of property in Atlantic City, located at the foot of Route 40, from the Hilton Casino Resort. Also in the investment group is Wallace R. Barr, former CEO and president of Caesars Entertainment. Price tag for the land is about $88 million. The demolished Dunes Hotel once stood on the spot.
Speed Limit
CAPE MAY – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fishery Service is calling for large boats to limit their speed to 10 knots or less where North Atlantic right whales are located, from Nov. 1 to April 30 along the New Jersey coast. The speed limit would apply to boats 65 feet or larger including the Cape May- Lewes Ferry and a number of fishing and sightseeing vessels. Boats kill one or two right whales annually.
Arson Charge
WILDWOOD – Police arrested Tracy Thorn, 45, of this city, on charges of aggravated arson and possession of cocaine June 25. Firefighters responded to a structure fire about 10 p.m. at 132 East Davis reportedly finding a couch on fire in front of the building and fresh damage to the front porch. The structure is a multifamily rooming house. According to police, eyewitnesses led police to arrest the suspect. Following a search of Thorn’s residence, contraband was allegedly recovered along with possible evidence relevant to the investigation. Thorn was lodged in county jail under $100,000 bail.
Gun Arrest
RIO GRANDE – Three men were arrested June 21 after midnight at Grande Woods Mobile Home Park following a reported disturbance involving a gun. Three subjects, reportedly in possession of a gun containing hollow point bullets, were stopped by a police as they were attempting to leave the mobile home park. Two occupants were reportedly in possession of marijuana. Ryan Fryer, 18, and Phillip Clark, 22, both of Norristown, Pa were charged with possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose with hollow point bullets and possession of under 50 grams of marijuana. Eric Burruss Jr., 22, also of Norristown, was charged with possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes and hollow point bullets.
Suspect Caught
WILDWOOD – Police arrested Joseph Anthony Ambrosia, 39, of Scranton, Pa, suspected of robbing Cape Savings Bank on New Jersey Avenue, June 22 about 11:30 a.m. On June 23, Wildwood Patrolman Elias Aboud observed a man walking on East Wildwood Avenue that fit the description of a man who robbed the bank the previous day. Ambrosia is also suspected to have committed a robbery at the CVS Pharmacy in Wildwood on June 21. He was reportedly carrying money believed to have been from the robbery and is jailed under $250,000 bail. Ambrosia was described as a construction worker staying in a local motel.
Memorial 55
COURT HOUSE – Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew (D-1st) and Sen. Nicholas Asselta (R-1st) sponsored legislation to rename Route 55 as Veterans Memorial Highway. Van Drew noted many use the road to travel to the shore on Memorial Day. The Assembly and Senate gave the proposal a unanimous positive vote. The measure appropriates $2,500 to install signs along the highway. The bill goes to the Governor Jon Corzine.
No Swimming
CAPE MAY POINT – Commissioner Joe Nietubicz announced at a June 8 meeting Coral and Whilldin Avenue beaches will not be open for swimming this summer due to proximity of underwater reefs to the shoreline. Commission passed a resolution specifying Lehigh, St. Peters, Pearl and Stites/Brainard beaches for bathing. Lighthouse, Whilldin, Coral, Cape and Alexander are closed to bathing, but may be used for surf fishing from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A lane will be designated next to the Alexander Jetty for kayak launching. Fishing will be permitted on the Whilldin/Coral Jetty and Alexander Jetty from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nietubicz said Whilldin beach is improving with the shoreline about 50 feet from the reef. Last year, the reef was 35 feet from the shoreline, he said.
Meeting Switched
SEA ISLE CITY – The board of commissioners rescheduled its next meeting for July 25 at 10 a.m. in Townsend’s Inlet Civic Center. The meeting was originally scheduled for July 18, but the date conflicted with commissioners’ schedules. The board also approved a state aid application for roadwork to be done on Pleasure Avenue, from 79th to 85th streets, yesterday at a special meeting.
Club Fight
AVALON – Mathew Selgrath, 30, of Chalfont, Pa. was charged with aggravated assault, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, possession of marijuana under 50 grams, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Selgrath was allegedly hostile towards patrons and staff at the Princeton Bar around closing time on June 18. Avalon Bicycle Patrol Officer William McDevitt was punched in the face and the head while attempting to intervene. Selgrath allegedly attacked McDevitt, trying to choke him before the officer took him to the ground. Bicycle Officer Tim Beal and Patrolman John Roscoe assisted McDevitt in securing Selgrath in a patrol car amid chants of “USA-USA-USA!” Selgrath was remanded to county jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Cyclist Killed
ERMA – Motorcyclist William Markley, 42, of Erma was killed atop the George Redding Bridge by an alleged drunk driver June 25 at around 3:16 a.m. Markley had stopped to help fellow cyclist Mark Kane, 53, of Court House when he was hit from behind by a car. Kane had stopped at the top of the bridge after apparently hitting a guardrail. Police said that Allison Kerr, 25, of Court House was accelerating up the bridge, leaving Wildwood, when she hit Markley. She was charged with driving while intoxicated and death by auto. Kerr was held on $25,000 bail. Kane and another cyclist, Joseph Hackett, 25, of Court House were taken to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center. Both were listed in stable condition.
Nude Act
HIGBEE BEACH – A Massachusetts couple visited the Delaware Bay beach June 16 when they were accosted by a white male around 2:45 p.m. The man engaged the couple in conversation before sitting down a few feet away. After a short period of time, the man from Massachusetts looked over and saw the man with his genitals out, performing a lewd act. Upon being confronted by the man from Massachusetts, the suspect fled. A police search failed to locate the suspect. He was described as being in his 50s, with a balding hairline and a buzz cut, a round shaped head and face with round eyeglasses. He was wearing a blue tank top, light blue pair of shorts and a pair of sandals. Anyone with information regarding the incident should contact Lower Township Police Department Tip Line at (609) 886-1619 ext. 156 or county Crime Stoppers at (609) 465-2800.
PNC Holdup
MARMORA – The PNC Bank on Roosevelt Boulevard was robbed Monday. State Police from the Woodbine barracks were alerted around 11:25 a.m. The perpetrator wielded a gun and wanted money, according to police. Employes complied with his demand, and the man fled out the back door. No one was injured. Police said the subject is in his late 40s or early 50s, stocky, Caucasian, six feet tall. He wore dark sunglasses and a dark jacket. Police were unsuccessful in trying to use a tracking dog to find the perpetrator. The bank was closed on Monday. It was the fourth bank robbery in the county this year.
Arrest Four
OCAN VIEW – State Police from the Woodbine barracks recovered 46 grams of marijuana at Outdoor World seasonal campground June 20 when they caught four people allegedly trying to sell the drug. The manager of the campground had called police after some of visitors complained about people smoking marijuana in the open. Police charged Kyle Burton, 18, of Reading, Pa., Zonte Williams, 18, of Millville, Cameron Meritt, 18, of Reading, Pa.; and Adrian Rodriguez, 21, of Dennis Township.
Severe Crash
GOSHEN – Police, fire, and rescue units, responded to multiple reports of an overturned vehicle on Route 47 Monday around 1:14 p.m. The driver, Rafael Ackley, 43, of Erma had apparently crawled out of the vehicle. He appeared to have suffered only minor injuries, according to police. Ackley had been driving on Route 47, lost control of his vehicle, which veered off the road and struck a utility pole. The pole snapped and the vehicle rolled over several times before coming to a stop. Power outages were reported in the area. Ackley was charged with DWI, failure to maintain lane, careless driving and use of a cell phone while driving. He was released pending an appearance in court.
Summer Changes
COURT HOUSE – NJ Transit changed its schedule for the summer on June 24. Bus 552 from Cape May to Atlantic City will have an additional midday service daily between Wildwood, Court House and Crest Haven. Adjustments are part of a system-wide timetable change. Timetables are available aboard buses, at customer service offices, online at or at 1-800-772-2222.
Permit to Sell?
OCEAN CITY – Homeowners who want to sell their homes might have to go through inspections first. Inspections, which would be conducted by Community Development, would be done to insure that homeowners haven’t altered their establishments in anyway that would conflict with zoning laws. Those found in violation can revert the structure to what it was supposed to be, or they can try to get a zoning variance. The proposed code-compliance permit was introduced by city council over a week ago. A public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. June 29 at City Hall.
Early 4th Deadlines
RIO GRANDE – Herald offices will be closed Saturday and Sunday, July 1 and 2, and Tuesday, July 4. That means early deadlines for the issue of July 5, as follows: Legal advertising and hot properties listings, 3 p.m. today, display advertising and news, 5 p. m. today; classifieds, 10 a.m. Friday. Drive safe.
One Supplies Bidder
SWAINTON – With a bid from Office Depot disqualified for being “incomplete,” county MUA commissioners June 21 awarded the contract for office supplies and furniture to the only other bidder, Court House Office Supplies, 10 Dyars Mill Road, Court House. The bid offered discounts ranging from 10 to 45 percent on various items in the 2006 United Office Products Catalog.
Tis the Season
CREST HAVEN – This is the time of year when the county hires all sorts of seasonal employes, “seasonal” meaning needed to handle crowds of tourists. Among the job classifications and pay: Toll bridge operators, Health Department trainees, and county park workers including animal keepers will be making $9 an hour. Pay at the Mosquito Control Department will range from $8 an hour for a lab technician to $10 for “exterminators” to $12.25 for a microbiology technician.
RIO GRANDE – A news digest in this newspaper last week reported a sick child was soliciting business cards to get in the Guinness Book of World Records. The Make-a-Wish Foundation reports it’s a scam.
Await Air Tests
CREST HAVEN – Three Technical School District teachers and school nurse Lynda Zipparo asked the board of education at its June 20 meeting about results of air tests in the 300 building. Superintendent William Desmond said that testing was done June 19, and that results are expected soon. If those results show “problematic areas,” the district will take remedial action to correct the situation, he added. Zipparo said there were also concerns about a “cancer cluster” in the 100 building. Desmond said the district contacted the “public health” agency regarding that building.
Tech Awards Contract
CREST HAVEN – Five contracts totaling $11.4 million to construct new classrooms at the county Technical High School were awarded by the board of education June 20. The largest, $6.8 million, was to general contractor Arthur J. Ogren. Other contracts were: $1.2 million, G.M. White Electrical; $2.15 million for mechanical and $820,000 for plumbing to Falasca Mechanical; $450,360, J.V. Palmonari, Inc., steel. The board rejected low bid of Surety Mechanical on June 8 because of failure to supply a state business registration certificate at time of bid, as required.
Security for Desmond
CREST HAVEN – Technical School Superintendent William Desmond must be doing things to the board of education’s liking. On June 20, after a closed session to discuss his annual evaluation, the board reconvened in public and, on motion by Albert Monillas, county school superintendent and assistant commissioner of education, seconded by Arthur Cornell, the board extended Desmond’s present contract to June 30, 2012. Desmond’s present salary is $142,800. The contract calls for minimum raises of 4 percent per year.
It’s Personnel
CREST HAVEN – The Technical School Board of Education will hold a special meeting June 29 at 11 a.m. in the Broadley Board of Education Building, 188 Crest Haven Road to discuss personnel and contract negotiations. Because of that, it is expected that the board will go into executive session. Action may be taken, according to Paula J. Smith, board administrator and secretary.
Fire Damages Trailer
RIO GRANDE – Motorists spotted fire and smoke in a trailer at No. 2 Rio Grande Trailer Park on Route 47 June 20 at 5:34 a.m. Glen Cressman of Pennsylvania owned the vacant trailer. When Rio Grande Chief James Belles arrived, the front of the trailer was engulfed in flames. Nearby trailers were evacuated as a precaution by Middle Township Police. A preliminary investigation by the county Fire Marshal’s office and Middle Township detectives revealed the origin to be accidental in nature. No injuries were reported. Volunteers from Green Creek assisted Rio Grande firefighters in quelling the blaze. Investigating were Patrol Officer Jennifer Moore and Detective Don Nelson.
Banks Trims Staff
VINELAND – Sun Bancorp Inc., with six branches in Cape May County, announced layoffs of about 8 percent of its over 800-member staff effective Monday. The regional bank, based here, has branches in New Castle County, Del. and in Philadelphia as well as throughout the Garden State. President and Chief Executive Thomas A. Bracken said the company expects to save approximately $3.5 million from the staff reduction and anticipates a one-time severance-related charge of about $400,000. The bank’s stock was up slightly yesterday to $16.76 a share.
Didn’t Recall Crash
COURT HOUSE – Philadelphian Joseph Adair pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide before Superior Court Judge Carmen Alvarez on June 22. He told the court he had no recollection of a crash that claimed the lives of his 17-year-old son and 32-year-old sister when he was driving with a blood alcohol level of .11, which exceeded the legal limit of .08 on Aug. 3, 2005. The crash took place on Route 347 between 5:30 and 6 p.m. that day, when Adair fell asleep at the wheel and hit a utility pole. Jason and Lisa Adair were pronounced dead at the scene.
Alleged Arson Threat
WILDWOOD CREST – Police responded to a report of an unwanted person at a residence on Buttercup Road here June 25 around 9:50 p.m. Tracy Thorn, 45, of Wildwood had allegedly refused to leave the victim’s property and reportedly committed property damage to the victim’s vehicle when she left. The accused allegedly made terroristic threats as well, stating that she would commit arson to the victim’s property in Wildwood, which police said, she reportedly did. Thorn was arrested and held on $20,000 cash bail at the county jail.
Baton Passes
COURT HOUSE – Middle Township Planning Board Chairman Michael Spagnolo has retired after 20 years on the board, 15 as chairman. At the board’s June 20 meeting Anthony Anzelone of Court House, a 14-year board veteran, was selected to replace Spagnolo. Anzelone is proprietor of Anzelone Electric Co. and is a member of the Middle Township Board of Education and Court House Volunteer Fire Co. No. 1. Earlier this year, Spagnolo, a dentist, was honored as the township’s volunteer of the year.

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