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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    Awards, honors and more to recap the 2017 boys soccer season.

    BOYS SOCCER SEASON IN REVIEW, 2017

    Jose Escandon of Kearny is the NJ.com Player of the Year

    Delbarton is the NJ.com Team of the Year

    Duncan Swanwick of Morris Catholic is the NJ.com Coach of the Year

    ALL-STATE TEAMS

    First, second, third team all-state

    All-Group 4

    All-Group 3

    All-Group 2

    All-Group 1

    All-Non-Public

    FINAL RANKINGS

    The NJ.com final Top 50

    Final group and conference rankings

    CONFERENCE REVIEWS

    Sebastian Varela of Ramapo is the Big North Conference Player of the Year

    John Strohlein of Delran is the Burlington County Scholastic League Player of the Year

    • Shadrach Asadu of Atlantic City is the Cape-Atlantic League Player of the Year

    Jack Dugan of Haddonfield is the Colonial Conference Player of the Year

    Andrew Beamer of Princeton is the Colonial Valley Conference Player of the Year

    Matt Hoyt of Monroe is the Greater Middlesex Conference Player of the Year

    Jose Escandon of Kearny is the Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic League Player of the Year

    Omar Sowe of Harrison is the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference Player of the Year

    Tommy Scalici of Morris Knolls is the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference Player of the Year

    Matthew Pattison of Bishop Eustace is the Olympic Conference Player of the Year

    Anthony Arena of Holmdel is the Shore Conference Player of the Year

    Owen Wolfson of Pingry in the Skyland Conference Player of the Year

    Maurice Williams of West Orange is the Super Essex Conference Player of the Year

    Sinan Tuzcu of Glassboro is the Tri-County Conference Player of the Year

    Mark Walter of Westfield is the Union County Conference Player of the Year

    Brian Deakyne may be reached at bdeakyne@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @BrianDeakyneRichard Greco may be reached at rgreco@njadvancemedia.com.  Follow him on Twitter @RichardGrecoHS . Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    The family looks at homes in Belmar, Sea Girt and Spring Lake in hopes of finding a vacation home.

    Terri Schneider doesn't even watch reality television.

    But as she and her husband, George, began hunting the Jersey Shore for a vacation home this summer, a local realtor approached the Morristown couple with an opportunity to appear in A&E Network's newest real estate reality series, "Vacation Rental Potential." 

    "(We were) totally hesitant," Terri said in a recent phone interview about participating in the show that highlights people looking to buy a vacation home that will allow owners to profit, or at least pay the mortgage by renting the home to travelers.

    However, once the couple interviewed with producers of the show, they realized it was an opportunity that presented perks that would not exist during the ordinary home search.

    Appearing on the show, which A&E is producing in conjunction with HomeAway, a vacation rental marketplace, and Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, will provide their new home national exposure when it airs. The home highlighted on HomeAway's website and the chance to work with Holly Baker, the host of the show and a vacation rental home and renovation expert.

    The series premiere, featuring the Schneiders, who check out homes in BelmarSea Girt and Spring Lake during the episode, will air on A&E on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 11 a.m.

    The premise of the show is that Baker will help the buyers weigh price, location and design preferences to "select the property of their dreams," according to a press release. Once a property is chosen, with the advice of seasoned HomeAway vacation rental owners and managers, they will collaborate to devise and execute a plan to attract renters.

    "Vacation rentals are the fastest growing category in the entire travel industry," Kristen Nolte, HomeAway senior vice president of brand and integrated marketing, said in the release. "More and more people each year love staying in these incredible homes, and the show demonstrates how the dream of owning a vacation home is possible by making money renting to travelers."

    Terri and George Schneider and Host Holly Baker.jpgTerri (left) and George (right) Schneider pictured with host Holly Baker while shooting the premier episode of A&E's new series, "Vacation Rental Potential." (Courtesy photo)
     

    With Terri working as an event planner and George being a sales manager for the PGA Tour, all while raising four boys ages 18, 16, 15 and 12, the Schneiders are somewhat busy. The advice and help they received from the show is exactly what they needed, Terri said.

    The Schneiders, who previously lived in Monmouth County before moving to Morristown six years ago, did buy a home they checked out on the show and people are already contacting them to rent it, even before the episode airs. She cannot disclose the home they ended up buying, but she said the home fits two of their priorites: close to the beach and ideal for entertaining guests.

    While Terri is open about the fact that she doesn't watch reality television, she, and the rest of the family, will make an exception this Saturday.

    "I'm excited too see how the whole thing came together. The kids are in it too," she said. "This is something we will have forever. It was a great experience. A memory we will always have."

    Joe Atmonavage may be reached at jatmonavage@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @jatmonavageNJFind NJ.com on Facebook


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    Congratulations to these 65 recipients.

    The 2017 New Jersey high school football Mini Max Award recipients were announced Wednesday by Maxwell Football Club president Mark Dianno.

    According to club’s press release, players were nominated by their coaches throughout the season and were evaluated based on football performance, academics and community service.

    The recipients will be honored at a dinner held Jan. 28 at St. David the King located in Princeton Junction. The dinner is open to the public and tickets are available on the club’s website www.maxwellfootballclub.org.

    At the dinner, the Maxwell Football Club will also name one Mini Max winner the New Jersey Player of the Year.

    The winner -- along with the Players of the Year from Pennsylvania and Delaware -- will be the candidates for the Jim Henry Award, which is given to the region’s Outstanding Player. The winner of the Jim Henry Award will be announced as part of the Maxwell Football Club’s National Awards Gala on March 19 at the Tropicana in Atlantic City.

    Below are the 65 Mini Max award winners listed in alphabetical order by school.

    Marcus Manning, Bayonne
    Joseph Emerson, Becton
    Charles Schuller, Bernards
    Andrew Klitchko, Bishop Eustace
    Joseph Pentz, Bloomfield
    Justin Bryant, Bridgewater-Raritan
    Jimmy Browne, Burlington City
    Elias Tadros, Butler
    James Miller, Caldwell
    Joseph McCarthy, Cedar Grove
    Will Anderson, Delbarton
    Vinny DePalma, DePaul
    Noah Castar, Ewing
    Mark Pacini, Florence
    Dan Allegro, Franklin
    William Ciemmy, Haddonfield
    Chad Musilli, High Point
    Serge Felizor, Hightstown
    Charles Amankwaa, Hillsborough
    Christian Branch-Young, Hillside
    Josh Zamot, Holy Spirit
    Matt Lynch, Immaculata
    Jasiah Provillon, Irvington
    Joseph Turek, Johnson
    Joel Scerbo, Kingsway
    Coleton Klaus, Lacey
    Joshua Lezin, Lakewood
    Sean Mclaughlin, Lawrence
    Matt Lajoie, Lenape
    Troy Dupont, Lenape Valley
    Daniel Weiss, Livingston
    Kaymar Mimes, Long Branch
    Javis Hanks, Shabazz
    Luke Corcione, Manalapan
    Ryan Rodriguez, Matawan
    Jermer Downing, Millville
    Tarrin Earle, Montclair
    Grant Papa, Montgomery
    Mitchell Lisa, Moorestown
    Kyle Frimel, New Egypt
    Zachary Thomas, Old Bridge
    Henry Pearson, Paramus Catholic
    John Donegan, Paul VI
    Nicholas Josselyn, Phillipsburg
    David Kohler, Pinelands
    James Fara, Point Pleasant Borough
    Zach Bair, Red Bank Catholic
    Peter Lucas, Rumson-Fair Haven
    Zaire Jones, Salem
    Cooper Heisey, Scotch Plains-Fanwood
    Cameron Carti, Seton Hall Prep
    Ryan Kovacs, Somerville
    Felix Quinones, South Brunswick
    Andrew Silver, St. Augustine
    Shayne Simon, St. Peter’s Prep
    Devin Leary, Timber Creek
    Jose Taveras, Union City
    CJ Lavery, Verona
    Colin Tong, Voorhees
    Robert Kuna, Wallington
    Peter Orio, West Deptford
    Max Bruno, West Windsor-Plainsboro South
    Nate Lopez, Wildwood
    Nick Adinolfi, Williamstown
    Albert Nah, Willingboro

    Pat Lanni may be reached at planni@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @PatLanniHS. Like NJ.com High School Sports on Facebook.


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    The discovery of new baby oysters in Raritan Bay is an encouraging sign for groups touting the benefits of oyster reefs.

    There are baby oysters in the Raritan Bay, and that's reason to celebrate.

    Why? A single oyster can filter 50 gallons of water per day, so a growing population is good news for the 108-square-mile bay and its chronically polluted waters, which span from Monmouth and Middlesex Counties across the state line into New York, near Staten Island.

    Plus the reefs on which these mollusks live are also known to be effective at reducing storm surge before it reaches shore, acting as barriers to soften the blow of big storms like Superstorm Sandy. No oyster reefs existed in the Raritan during the 2012 storm where unimpeded storm surge forced rooftop rescues in Sayreville and elsewhere along the bayfront. 

    Beyond all of that, oyster reefs create habitats for fish and other sea-life -- in this case that means popular sport fish species like striped bass and bluefish, as well blue crabs and other shellfish at the bottom of the bay.

    When Henry Hudson explored the region in 1609, oyster reefs were so abundant he reportedly had to navigate his ship around them. And before the 20th Century, the mollusks supported a commercial fishery in Raritan Bay. In the 1900s, however, the oyster population sharply declined due to overfishing.

    Seafood at gunpoint: Why one N.J. group raises oysters on a naval base

    The Matawan-based environmental group NY/NJ Baykeeper has maintained two experimental oyster reefs at Naval Weapons State Earle in Leonardo since 2011. The group adds oysters to the reefs each year in attempts to discern whether the species can again thrive in the bay, and this is the first time they've actually found evidence that the oysters have been reproducing naturally. 

    The discovery marked a huge win for the bay and the group's ongoing efforts to grow healthy oyster reefs there.

    "It shows that they are growing," said Meredith Comi, the restoration program director for NY/NJ Baykeeper. "We knew that they were growing, but it shows that they are now healthy enough to reproduce."

    Comi said that the reefs have created a new habitat in a bay that was otherwise mudflats.

    "There's not a whole lot of habitat for fish and other organisms," Comi said. "It's barren out there."

    And with the state's growing focus on coastal resilience since Superstorm Sandy, Comi said that the reefs offer another form of protection.

    "When another Superstorm Sandy comes through, it won't stop the surge but it will certainly slow it down," Comi said.

    The two reefs at the naval station are the only oyster reefs on the New Jersey side of Raritan Bay, according to Comi. Additional work has been done with oyster reefs around Staten Island.

    Experimental oyster reefs are generally banned in New Jersey over worries that oysters raised in contaminated waters will accidentally end up in the food supply. The NY/NJ Baykeeper experiments are allowed because the Navy has agreed to provide the necessary enforcement to stop any accidents.

    Legislation signed by Governor Chris Christie last year ordered the state Department of Environmental Protection to review the experimental oyster reef ban.

    DEP spokesman Larry Hajna said the department is currently holding stakeholder meetings on the issue. Comi said she doesn't believe any action will be taken until the Murphy administration takes over.

    Michael Sol Warren may be reached at mwarren@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MSolDub. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Mary Beth Chambers was in violation of the NJSIAA's 365-day rule, St. Rose announced.

    Before even coaching a game, Mary Beth Chambers is out as the St. Rose girls basketball coach.

    The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association ruled Dec. 1 that Chambers was in violation of its 365-day rule – mandating that coaches have no contact with players outside of the scholastic season – and that she would be ineligible to coach this season. St. Rose isn't happy.

    Chambers was hired in June and is a coach at the Jersey Shore Elite Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) program, according to her twitter account. She was preparing to run a St. Rose program that has been among the state's best in recent years, finishing No. 5 in last season's final ranking and having won the prestigious Shore Conference Tournament. 

    In a letter sent home Wednesday to players and parents – and obtained by NJ Advance Media – St. Rose president Sr. Kathleen Nace announced the decision. The letter said that in October, St. Rose self-reported the violation to the NJSIAA and submitted, as advised by the association, its own corrective action plan. That plan did not include terminating Chambers.

    In the letter, Nace also said that on Oct. 30, it received a response from the NJSIAA accepting its corrective action plan, with the inclusion of two additional measures that the letter did not disclose but that also didn't include terminating Chambers.

    But on Dec. 1, St. Rose received another letter from the NJSIAA mandating the termination of Chambers as coach.

    In a telephone interview with NJ Advance Media Thursday, Nace contended that the NJSIAA may have felt outside pressure to alter its October decision, which Nace had interpreted as the final word.

    "What I gather is that other schools in the area had complained to the NJSIAA because in their hiring processes in the past, they had issues with the 365-day rule and they were wondering why St. Rose hadn't," Nace said.

    St. Rose initially reported the violation after an October meeting at the NJSIAA about the rule. It followed the direction of the association by including the corrective action plan.

    That plan was accepted by the NJSIAA, "in its entirety," Nace said, with the Oct. 30 letter. The Dec. 1 follow-up letter requiring Chambers' termination was a shocker. On advice of counsel, Nace declined to disclose the Oct. 30 letter at this time.

    "This happened 14 days before the season was supposed to start," Nace said. "Even if this happened in October, I think we'd be fighting it. But we'd certainly have more time to explore our options, and time is what is important here. It's such a disadvantage to the girls and to the team to go through this now."

    According to the NJSIAA constitution, coaches may have no contact with high school student-athletes during the out-of-season period, which would include the spring and fall for basketball:

    There is a period of one (1) year at the beginning of the appointing/hiring of a coach, paid/unpaid, volunteer or assistant or head coach, or at the end of the one year assignment where the coach is ineligible to be hired if that person has had contact with Student‐Athletes during the out‐of‐season time period. A coach must go an entire 365 days without any contact with team status Student‐ Athletes before they could be hired or re‐hired so as not to violate the out‐of‐season time period.

    Calls to the NJSIAA were not returned Thursday.

    Chambers, a St. Rose graduate, was hired in late June to after Joe Whalen resigned following a successful five-year run that included a Shore Conference Tournament title last February.

    "Mary Beth is a St. Rose graduate from 1979, her daughter is an alum," Nace said. "They both won state championships during their time here. She gets it. She's a parent. She wants to do what's best for the girls and what's in the best interest of the program. She has said from the beginning, whatever it takes, she'll do it."

    Assistant coach Janine Roth has been named the interim head coach, the letter said.

    Brian Deakyne may be reached at bdeakyne@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @BrianDeakyne. Like NJ.com High School Sports on Facebook.


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    The fisherman was attempted to retrieve equipment when he was overcome by the waves, police said.

    Police have released the identity of the 69-year-old fisherman who drowned in the surf at Gunnison Beach on Sandy Hook Wednesday morning. 

    Ronald Moore, of Union, was found in waist-deep water by federal park rangers who performed CPR on him, Middletown Police Lt. Paul Bailey said in a news release. 

    Moore was taken to Monmouth Medical Center in West Long Branch but medical professionals were unable to resuscitate him. 

    A witness told investigators Moore had gone into rough surf to retrieve equipment around 8 a.m. when he was overcome by the waves. His death was ruled accidental.

    Moore's identity was released on Thursday afternoon after investigators were able to notify his family, Bailey said.

    Anyone with more information on this incident can call the Middletown Police Detective Bureau at (732) 615-2120.

    Justin Zaremba may be reached at jzaremba@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinZarembaNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have information about this story or something else we should be covering? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    Snow forecast gets updated as computer models favor storm moving closer to the Atlantic coast.

    A storm system is now expected to move closer to the Atlantic coast than was initially anticipated, upping the probability that most areas of New Jersey will see their first snow accumulations of the season this weekend.

    In a revised forecast issued Thursday afternoon, the National Weather Service forecast office in Mount Holly now calls for up to 4 inches of snow in far southern New Jersey, 3 inches in parts of Monmouth and Ocean counties and 2 inches or less from Middlesex County up through northern New Jersey.

    "Light snow is expected to accumulate up to a few inches late Friday night through Saturday," the weather service said in a hazardous weather outlook issued at about 3:50 p.m. Thursday.

    In a forecast discussion, the weather service said a coastal storm system that had been expected to remain far offshore Friday night into Saturday afternoon "is showing better organization today and also a track closer to the coast."

    During the past few days, computer forecast models have flip-flopped as to whether the storm would track close to the Jersey coast and bring several inches of snow or track further east and deliver only a dusting of snow -- or nothing at all. As of Thursday afternoon, all of the models now favor some accumulating snow across southern and central New Jersey as well as in parts of Delaware and Maryland, the weather service said. 

    UPDATE: The National Weather Service's New York office is now calling for as much as 3 to 6 inches of snow across eastern Long Island and 2 to 4 inches of snow across New York City, northeastern New Jersey and western Long Island on Saturday.

    If snow does fall and accumulate, it will be the first measurable snow of the season for every region of New Jersey, except for the northern section of Sussex County. Measurable snow is considered to be 0.1 inches or more. Anything less than that is considered a trace.  

    Most regions of New Jersey normally get their first taste of snow on Dec. 7 or later, according to statistics from the National Weather Service and New Jersey State Climatologist David Robinson, based at Rutgers University.

    A few places, like the northern hilly areas of Sussex County, usually see their first measurable snow -- 0.1 inches or more -- by Dec. 2. And some, like the West Milford area of Passaic County, get their first real taste of snow by Dec. 3.

    People down in Atlantic City and Cape May usually have to wait until the third or fourth week of December to brush snow off their cars. In Atlantic City, the average date of the first snowfall is Dec. 19, and in Cape May it's Dec. 26.

    Here are a few key points about the upcoming weekend snow event:

    snow-forecast-key-points-nws.jpg 

    Here is the National Weather Service's snow forecast for New York City, northeastern sections of New Jersey and Long Island, as of Thursday night. In a post on Twitter Thursday night, the weather service's regional office in Upton, N.Y., noted: "There is still a good deal of uncertainty with the snowfall amounts, so stay tuned for updates!"

    The Upton office oversees New York City, Long Island, parts of Connecticut, the lower Hudson Valley of New York and five counties in northeastern New Jersey: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Passaic and Union.

    snow-forecast-nyc-dec7-2017.jpgThe latest snow forecast for New York City, Long Island and northeastern New Jersey, as of Thursday night. (National Weather Service) 

    Len Melisurgo may be reached at LMelisurgo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @LensReality or like him on Facebook. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    A three-person protest committee will be assembled by the NJSIAA.

    The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association said Friday that a three-person protest committee will determine the fate of St. Rose girls basketball coach Mary Beth Chambers.

    In October, St. Rose self-reported that Chambers, who was hired in June, may have violated the 365-day rule and, at the request of the association, submitted a corrective action plan that did not include the firing of Chambers. The plan was accepted by the NJSIAA in Oct. 30 "in its entirety" with the inclusion of two undisclosed measures, St. Rose president Sr. Kathleen Nace said.

    To its surprise, St. Rose received a second letter on Dec. 1 stating that Chambers would need to removed as head coach because of her violation of the 365-day rule, Nace said.

    "At the request of St. Rose High School, the NJSIAA will convene its three-person protest committee to consider a self-reported question on the eligibility of a girls basketball coach," NJSIAA spokesman Mike Cherenson said. "The committee will hear the matter within the next several days. In the interim, the coach in question is prohibited from coaching."

    In a letter sent home to players and parents and obtained by NJ Advance Media, St. Rose defended Chambers and said that it intends for her to be the varsity coach this season.

    In a telephone interview with NJ Advance Media Thursday, St. Rose president Sr. Kathleen Nace said that outside pressure may have forced the NJSIAA to change course on its ruling.

    The St. Rose girls basketball season begins on Dec. 15 with an away game against Keyport. Assistant coach Janine Roth will be the interim head coach until a resolution is made.

    Brian Deakyne may be reached at bdeakyne@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @BrianDeakyne. Like NJ.com High School Sports on Facebook.


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    The suspect was trying to scam a Best Buy by using a fake New Jersey driver's license to apply for a credit card

    A Philadelphia man who fled Bucks County, Pa. police leading to a crash that injured a responding officer was sentenced to three to eight years behind bars this week, the Bucks County District Attorney's Office announced.

    wayne_whitley2.pngWayne Whitley

    Wayne Whitley, 40, was trying to scam a Best Buy in July by using a New Jersey driver's license to apply for a credit card at the electronics store on Commerce Boulevard in Falls Township.

    An employee who doubted the license called police and Whitley ran, and later fled the store parking lot in a black Jeep, the office said.

    Falls Police Officer Stephanie Metterle arrived and spotted the Jeep in the parking lot and chased after it. At North Oxford Valley Road and Commerce Boulevard, her police vehicle was involved in a three-vehicle crash, injuring her and one of the other drivers.

    Whitley's Jeep escaped, but he eventually set free two teenage girls who were inside. He was arrested as a fugitive in August.

    On Monday, he pleaded guilty forgery, access device fraud and fleeing a police officer, all felonies, as well as lesser crimes of corruption of minors and recklessly endangering another person, the office said. (One of the girls was a 15-year-old from Millstone, N.J. who'd been reported missing.)

    Metterle was taken to a hospital in serious condition from the crash and is still recovering from her injuries, Assistant District Attorney Jovin Jose said in the announcement.

    Whitley's attorney, Sharif Abaza, has filed a motion asking the judge to reconsider the sentence, the office said.

    Kevin Shea may be reached at kshea@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter@kevintshea. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    Menachim Chinn pleaded guilty to 2 counts of child endangerment in July

    A former teacher who admitted to inappropriately touching two of his students was sentenced to prison Friday, but he won't see the inside of a jail cell - he received a suspended sentence.

    Menachim Chinn 40, of East Windsor, sat unmoving facing forward as his victims, now young men, recounted how their childhood had been lost due to the actions of the man who was supposed to be their teacher. 

    Menachem Chinn copy.jpgMenachim Chinn 

    One victim told the court that the abuse started in 2005 when he was in sixth grade. He was made to sit under Chinn's desk during class and massaged his feet and genitals. The abuse then escalated over time and occurred at the school, Chinn's home and the victim's home, he said.

    Both victims said they had been betrayed by Chinn, saying he had robbed them of their childhood, and they were still recovering from the abuse they suffered.

    Chinn, who was also a youth minister, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree child endangerment in July. He admitted to inappropriately touching one victim at his home in 2012, and to inappropriate contact with another boy at the Shalom Torah Academy, where he was a teacher. 

    He was sentenced in accordance with a plea agreement with the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office. He will serve a suspended five-year term and has to register as a sex offender under Megan's Law, as well as parole supervision for life.

    Chinn declined to comment to the court when given the opportunity to speak. 

    "This defendant was supposed to be a rabbi, a teacher and a mentor. What's very clear here in he only served himself," Mercer County Superior Court Judge Peter Warshaw said.

    "My conclusion is that he still doesn't care, he doesn't care he's destroyed lives and moved on," the judge said.

    Warshaw addressed the young men victims in court, saying they were remarkable and told them they had the ability to achieve great things, and to serve their community. 

    Olivia Rizzo may be reached at orizzo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @LivRizz. Find NJ.com on Facebook


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    Experts are predicting that the combination of a strong breeding season and the availability of prey may prompt the snowy owl to make their way to the Garden State and other points - a southward movement that takes place roughly every four years. Watch video

    Birders call it the opportunity of a lifetime: the sight of a snowy owl soaring against an open sky.

    Or as David La Puma puts it, "These birds are like little gifts from nature."

    La Puma, director of New Jersey's Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory, says anyone fortunate enough to spot one of these beauties is likely to get goosebumps.

    This may be your lucky year.

    Experts are predicting that the combination of a strong breeding season and the availability of prey may prompt the native Arctic dwellers to make their way to the Garden State and other points - a southward movement that takes place roughly every four years.

    New Jersey, say hello to "Island Beach," a snowy owl sighted at the Jersey Shore state park for which it is nicknamed.

    Researchers with Project SNOWstorm, a national volunteer research and conservation organization, staked out the park last week after reports of the sighting circulated.

    Who knew? Snowy owl explosion possible in N.J. this year

    Their goal was to capture and band one of the prized species, then release it back into the wild carrying a transmitter so experts can track its journeys.

    According to Audubon, snowy owls nest across the Arctic tundra of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Scandinavia and Russia. One survey estimates their population at 300,000 or so, a number that varies year by year depending on food supply and other factors.

    When they venture further south, they tend to seek out areas that look like their native territory, such as prairies, open fields, beaches and the edges of lakes.

    While experts say most of the Arctic region is likely to remain open and treeless, many worry that continued reduction in the sea ice due to climate change might affect the birds' wintering habitat.

    The owls may be more likely to head south in the fall, landing up in areas where they are not well-adapted for survival.

    Tracking these movements is one way to help ensure the continuation of the species. Another is to convince well-meaning amateur bird enthusiasts that sneaking closer for observation may result in better photos, but is not in the best interest of the birds.

    "What is an exciting encounter for one person can be compounded by many people over time, leading to harassment of the bird and eventually putting the bird in dangerous situations," says La Puma.

    The frightened bird may flee into New Jersey traffic, he cautions, or be attacked by other raptors such as eagles or peregrine falcons.

    If you're fortunate enough to catch sight of one of these beauties in the next few weeks before they head on, by all means whip out your cell phone camera and capture the moment - from a distance.

    Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook.


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    Curley focus of complaints for alleged profane outbursts

    Most of the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders voted Friday to pass a resolution that describes in unsparing and explicit detail the alleged inappropriate conduct of another board member, John Curley, who has been accused of sexual harassment.

    The board voted by a margin of 4 to 0 to censure Curley, who did not attend the meeting, a board spokeswoman said by email.

    Freeholder faces censure vote 

    Curley, who has served on the board since 2011, has been accused of a laundry list of questionable conduct as spelled out in Friday's resolution, including referring to an elected official as "a fat motherf***er" during a media interview, sexually charged comments he made about women during a phone conversation, the use of gay epithets including "queer," and then lying about at least some of the conduct to investigators.

    The resolution comes after the outspoken Curley, who has won praise from Democrats for his willingness to criticize his fellow Republicans,  filed a lawsuit claiming that he has become a "target" and the victim of false claims.

    Friday's resolution censuring Curley also mentions the lawsuit but in dismissive terms, noting that Curley claims civil rights violations in the harassment investigation of him "despite having been represented by legal counsel throughout the investigation process."

    The investigation into Curley was launched in June 2017, when he allegedly made an inappropriate remark at a parade. 

    The report describing Curley's alleged harassing behavior was sent to freeholders on Nov. 26. Two days later, a special meeting was set to be held to vote on a resolution to censor Curley and to reinforce the county's policy on "prohibiting workplace discrimination and harassment."

    Curley, who was barred from entering county buildings in Freehold, sought a temporary restraining order to block the meeting from happening. The meeting was canceled but was rescheduled for Friday after court records show Curley withdrew his motion for temporary restraints.

    The resolution Friday also notes Curley's attempt to quash the censure vote through the restraining order.

    Paul Milo may be reached at pmilo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter@PaulMilo2. Find NJ.com on Facebook.  

     

     

     


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    Visit the home of maybe the state's best cheesecake in our latest N.J.'s best bakery showdown trip report.


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    The bar scene in Asbury Park was filled with residents dressed as Santa and other Christmas characters on Saturday, December 9 for the annual SantaCon. Watch video

    Saturday may have marked the first significant snowfall of the season in New Jersey, but it didn't deter the 500 or so bar goers from making a trip to SantaCon in Asbury Park.

    For Christine Graves and her sisters, Lisa and Allison, who made their costumes, it made their day even better.

    "This is our third time coming out here. We looked on Pinterest because we knew we had to have a special costume," Christine Graves said. "I've never seen it so packed. I hope it keeps growing every year."

    alichrlisaFrom left to right Allison, Christine and Lisa dress up as Christmas characters to enjoy SantaCon in Asbury Park on Saturday, Dec. 9.   

    Residents from Asbury Park and surrounding areas swarmed bars along Cookman Avenue.

    "We love going to things like this during the season. It really gets you in the Christmas mood," said Nicole DeGeorge, 29, of Ocean Township.

    Dressed in Santa costumes along with reindeer and other Christmas characters, party goers enjoyed drink specials at the event. Along with the bar fun and arcade games, people were also able to donate to the Jersey Shore Rescue, which helps those in need of food shelter and other services in the area. 

    In addition to Asbury Park, SantaCon was also enjoyed in Hoboken and New York City. According to the group's website, SantaCon social events occur in over 395 cities in  52 countries across the world.

    Though SantaCon is centered around the bar scene, drinking was not allowed on NJ Transit.

    Asbury Park's event was free, but drink specials required a $12 ticket. 

    chadhadsfChad Hancock put lights in his beard to celebrate the holiday season at SantaCon in Asbury Park. 

    "I just moved here not too long ago, so it's just great to meet people and to enjoy the season," said Chad Hancock, 28,  of Ocean Township who moved to the area recently from Utah. 

    Hancock decorated his beard with lights. The decorations did not heat his beard, Hancock said, but made it itchy.

    That type of creativity and fun is exactly what site manager Damon Trifeletti wanted for those who came out to the event.

    "As long as people have smiles on there faces I'm happy. That's my job," Trifeletti said at the event. 

    Taylor Tiamoyo Harris may be reached at tharris@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @ladytiamoyo.

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    The state's first substantial snowstorm of the season is in the books. Most parts of New Jersey got anywhere from 2 to 6 inches of snow. See how much fell in your area.

    The state's first substantial snowstorm of the season is in the books. Most parts of New Jersey got anywhere from 2 to 6 inches of snow. 

    How much fell in your region? These are the unofficial final snowfall totals reported by the National Weather Service. They are collected from highway departments, observers, Skywarn spotters and social media. 

    The most snowfall was measured in Branchburg and Woodbridge, with 6.5 inches in each location. 

    "What was really the most noteworthy aspect of the storm, was the snow set up in several localized bands. There were some spots that saw very little and some that ended up under the heavier snow bands. That's why the totals were able to get up to the 5 and 6 range in certain areas," said Mitchell Gaines, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly.

    Atlantic County

    Mays Landing: 4.0
    Estell Manor: 3.8
    Folsom: 3.3
    Smithville: 3.0
    Atlantic City: 3.0
    Port Republic: 2.4  
    Egg Harbor: 1.8

    Bergen County

    Fort Lee: 5.5
    Ridgewood: 4.7
    Franklin Lakes: 4.7 
    River Vale: 4.5 
    Allendale: 4.0  

    Burlington County

    Mount Holly: 4.8 
    Mount Laurel: 5.2 
    Hainesport: 4.5
    Cooperstown: 4.2 
    Medford Lakes: 4.0  
    Burlington: 4.0
    Lumberton: 4.0 
    Maple Shade: 3.8
    Moorestown: 4.0
    Marlton: 3.8
    Pemberton: 3.8 
    Red Lion: 3.5   
    Southampton: 3.5
    Cinnaminson: 2.5                 

    Camden County

    Haddon: 5.1
    Lindenwold: 4.8
    Bellmawr: 3.7  
    Mount Ephraim: 3.0
    Winslow: 2.0

    Cape May County

    Cape May: 5.0
    West Cape May: 5.0 
    Goshen: 3.2 
    NW Cape May: 2.6 
    Sea Isle City: 2.0 
    Wildwood Crest: 1.5

    Cumberland County 

    Vineland: 3.0

    Essex County

    Cedar Grove: 5.1
    Roseland: 4.9
    West Orange: 4.5
    Newark: 4.3 
    Fairfield: 4.1 
    Livingston: 4.0

    Gloucester County

    East Greenwich: 4.5 
    Elmer: 3.5 
    Turnersville: 3.1 
    Monroe: 2.8

    Hudson County

    Harrison: 5.0 
    Kearny: 4.2 

    Hunterdon County 

    Ringoes: 5.5 
    Hampton: 5.2
    Cloverhill: 5.1
    Wertsville: 4.9
    Lebanon: 4.3
    Whitehouse Station: 4.0
    West Cloverhill: 3.8
    Sergeantsville: 3.3  
    Flemington: 3.3
    Frenchtown: 3.3 
    E Flemington: 3.2
    High Bridge: 3.0
    Annandale: 3.0

    Mercer County

    Washington Crossing: 5.4
    Bear Tavern: 5.3
    Hopewell: 5.3
    Ewing: 5.0
    Pennington: 4.5
    Hopewell: 4.5
    Lawrence: 4.5
    Princeton: 4.2
    Hightstown: 3.9

    Middlesex County

    Woodbridge: 6.5  
    Cranbury: 6.2
    Cheesequake: 5.5
    New Brunswick: 5.4
    South Edison: 5.2
    South Brunswick: 5.0
    Old Bridge: 5.0
    Rahway: 5.0
    South Plainfield: 4.5
    East Brunswick: 3.8
    South Brunswick: 3.0   

    Monmouth County

    Keyport: 4.8
    Freehold: 4.2
    Colts Neck: 4.0
    Shrewsbury: 3.9
    Hazlet: 3.5
    Lakehurst: 3.3

    Morris County

    Marcella: 4.5
    Mount Arlington: 4.5
    Rockawa: 4.3
    Youngstown: 4.3
    Hanover: 4.3
    Green Pond: 4.2
    Parsippany: 4.1
    Stanhope: 4.0
    Rockaway: 3.8
    Denville: 3.6 
    Schooleys Mountain: 3.5
    Washington: 2.8  

    Ocean County

    Oak Ridge: 5.5
    Toms River: 4.2
    Lakehurst: 3.5 
    N Brick: 3.3
    Berkeley Twp.: 3.1
    Forked River: 3.0
    Waretown: 3.0
    Tuckerton: 2.8
    Bayville: 2.1
    ESE Lakehurst: 1.7
    E Lacey:1.6 

    Passaic County

    West Milford: 5.3
    Wayne: 4.7
    Bloomingdale: 3.1 

    Salem County

    Monroeville: 4.0
    Woodstown: 2.8  

    Somerset County

    Branchburg: 6.5
    Basking Ridge: 5.5
    ENE Franklin: 5.4
    Martinsville: 5.0
    NNW Franklin: 5.0
    Hillsborough: 4.9
    Pluckemin: 4.5
    Bernards: 4.5
    Somerville: 4.1

    Sussex County

    Montague: 5.0
    Wantage: 4.8
    Highland Lakes: 4.7
    Sussex: 4.5
    SW Wantage: 4.5 

    Union County

    Plainfield: 5.5  

    Warren County

    Blairstown: 5.6
    Oxford: 4.3
    Alpha: 4.1
    Stewartsville: 4.0
    Riegelsville: 3.7
    Hackettstown: 3.5
    Bridge: 2.2

    Alex Napoliello may be reached at anapoliello@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Authorities said they were conducting an accident investigation at the scene.

    Howell police said a northbound section of Route 9 in the township was closed for an accident investigation Sunday night after a pedestrian was fatally struck between the Lakewood border and Alexander Avenue.

    In statements posted to social media late Sunday evening, police asked drivers to find an alternate route during the closure but did not immediately provide further details about the crash.

    In a separate incident, a crash earlier this month on another stretch of Route 9 in the township claimed the life of a 53-year-old pedestrian, whose death resulted in charges against the 21-year-old driver.

    Juanean Perez, of Jackson, was initially charged on suspicion of driving under the influence in the Dec. 2 death of Juan Santiago Lopez, of Freehold Borough, but authorities have said other charges are pending.

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at tmoriarty@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriarty. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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    Dogs and cats throughout New Jersey need permanent homes.

    We all love eating holiday foods, but things can go seriously wrong if we feed our dogs the same kinds of sweet and fatty goodies we give ourselves. Many of our-best-loved holiday dishes can be harmful or even toxic to dogs.

    BluePearl Veterinary Partners has provided a list of five dog-healthy alternatives to classic holiday dishes. Just remember, these special foods should be given in moderation.

    "Your dog will love the treats mentioned in this article, but remember that treats should amount to no more than 10 percent of your dog's overall calorie intake for the day," said Dr. SusanWynn of BluePearl, who is a board-certified veterinary nutritionist. "The rest of their food should be their usual complete and balanced diet."

    Turkey legs vs. cooked pieces of turkey breast

    It may be tempting to serve a turkey leg to your furry friend, but bones can actually be extremely harmful to your dog. Instead, cut a few small pieces of turkey breast, ideally without skin or heavy seasonings.

    Pumpkin pie vs. fresh pumpkin

    Creamy, rich pumpkin pie is a classic holiday dessert, but the high sugar and fat content makes it a bad choice for pets. However, plain pumpkin (fresh, roasted or pureed) is healthy for dog digestion. You can also freeze 100% unsweetened pumpkin puree in an ice cube tray for a bite-size snack.

    Candies and desserts vs. fresh apple slices

    One of the biggest holiday dangers for pets is sweets. Chocolate and xylitol, an ingredient in many sugar-free candies and desserts, are both highly toxic to dogs. The best sweet alternative is fresh apple, nutritious and low-calorie. You can substitute other fruits such as pear, banana and melon - just be sure to avoid feeding grapes, fruit seeds or pits and rhubarb.

    Sweet potato casserole vs. fresh sweet potato

    Nothing smells better than a baked sweet potato casserole, but the fat and sugar from the marshmallows and other ingredients can make your dog sick. Set aside some plain, cooked sweet potato pieces (or puree) for your dog.

    Green bean casserole vs. plain green beans

    Green bean casserole is another holiday classic that may tempt humans and dogs alike. But it's filled with ingredients that are bad for dogs, including onions, garlic and mushrooms. As an alternative, offer your dog some raw green beans as a crunchy snack.

    Remember, if you have questions about certain ingredients or introducing new foods to your dog, talk to your primary veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist.

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    Each of these municipalities has fewer than 1,600 residents, but police forces ranging from 3 to 29 members


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    Which teams have what it takes to win a state title this season?


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    He was hit as he crossed the highway near Alexander Avenue

    A 51-year-old Lakewood man has been identified as the pedestrian struck and killed by a car along Route 9 in Howell on Sunday evening, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's office said.

    Isidro Martinez-Mendez was hit by a sedan driven by a 22-year-old Jackson woman as he crossed in the northbound lanes a quarter-mile south of Alexander Avenue. 

    Martinez-Mendez was pronounced dead at the scene at 7:56 p.m., shortly after the crash, officials said

    The driver, who had a 10-year-old passenger in the car, has not been charged. The crash remains under investigation.

    It was the second fatal crash involving a pedestrian on Route 9 in Howell in a little more than a week.

    In the other crash, a 21-year-old Jackson woman was charged with drunken driving after striking and killing a 53-year-old Freehold man on Dec. 2. That took place near the intersection of Route 9 and New Friendship Road, about two miles north of Sunday's incident.

    Anyone with information about Sunday's crash is asked to call Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office Detective Eric Kerecman at 800-533-7443 or Howell officer Matthew Cherney at 732-938-4575.

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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