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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    The newest edition of the Top 20 brings another shakeup.

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    A host of Top-20 matchups are among this week's can't-miss games

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    Check out a slew of good events on the softball fields of New Jersey this weekend.

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    The crash knocked down a traffic line and snapped a utility pole

    More than 11 hours after a motor vehicle crash took down a utility pole and wires in Neptune Township on Monday night, a section of Route 33 remains closed on Tuesday morning, police said. 

    The crash just before 7:30 p.m. topped a traffic light near the intersection of Route 33 and Jumping Brook Road.

    Photos shared on Twitter by Neptune Township police also show a broken utility pole lying across the driveway of the Hamilton Rescue Squad adjacent to where the crash appears to have happened.

    Jeep shears utility pole, rolls in Warren County (PHOTOS)

    Police said Tuesday morning that detours will likely be in place for several more hours. No details were available about the crash, but police no arrests were made.


    Jeff Goldman may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find on Facebook.


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    Apparently, the Westminster Chimes aren't music to everyone's ears. Watch video

    Keyport's version of London's Big Ben is a speaker on a 50-foot metal pole that sends out the sound of bells chiming every night at 6 p.m., a ritual since 2005, when officials began playing the nightly "Westminster Chimes" over the borough's stationary emergency alert system.

    "The sounding of the 6 p.m. chimes harkens back to an earlier time when local kids would know that it was time to go home for dinner when the signal was issued," Borough Administrator Stephen Gallo said in an email. "Many communities sounded their civil defense sirens at noon and 6PM. The sounding also serves as a periodic testing of the system."

    But Keyport's chimes, which echo throughout the 1.5 square mile town of about 7,200 people, are not music to everyone's ears. And Gallo said he got a call last month from the Monmouth County Department of Health's environmental coordinator saying they violated the state Noise Control Act of 1971 and that fines would be imposed if Keyport did not silence its virtual clock tower.

    Keyport complied as of last Thursday. But the borough wants to resume ringing in each evening hour, even if it means lobbying for a change in the state law.

    "If, indeed, we're doing something here in violation of the regulation, we'd like to get the regulation changed," said Gallo, who said he would ask state Senator Declan O'Scanlon (R-Monmouth) to push for the change.  

    O'Scanlon's chief of staff, Shauna Sullivan, said her office had been in touch with the borough, but that the senator was awaiting official word whether and how the noise law had been violated.

    O'Scanlon's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the noise law.

    Talk of the chimes has reverberated on social media and around town after Gallo posted a notice on the borough's Facebook page explaining why the bells haven't been ringing and promising supporters that an online petition to change the law would be posted soon. The post has attracted dozens of responses in support of the chimes.

    "I love the chimes!" read one. "Seriously people have nothing better to do these days then to find something to complain about."

    "Chime away!" read another response.

    Monmouth County Health Officer Christopher Merkel said his department had acted on a complaint about the chimes from a member of the public. But Merkel said he hoped his staff could work out an agreement allowing the chimes to continue.

    "We're looking to work with them," said Merkel, adding that no fines had been issued. "We don't want them to stop their chimes."

    Merkel said the 1971 noise law limits sounding of the emergency alert system to once per month for non-emergencies. He declined to say how an agreement might satisfy both the law and the borough's nightly tradition.

    Steve Strunsky may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @SteveStrunsky. Find on Facebook.

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    A look at some of New Jersey's top alums making a difference in college softball this season.

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    Thursday, Kurt Vile, Bishop Briggs, Phoebe Bridgers, Ted Leo and more will christen the renovated venue

    For months, music-lovers at the Jersey Shore have wondered: 

    1. What would the new Asbury Lanes venue/bowling alley, which shuttered in 2015 and has undergone extensive renovations, look like when it reopens Memorial Day Weekend?

    2. What sort of acts would be booked there, considering its rebranding from dilapidated punk dive to glossy extension of developer iStar's massive overhaul of the Asbury Park oceanfront?

    The first question was answered last month with a handful of artist renderings that show the old hipster haunt as a new, colorful music venue with bowling lanes and a 24/7 diner attached. 

    And now, we know who will be performing at Asbury Lanes for the next few months, as the venue announced Tuesday its summer concert schedule, which mixes local talent with rock and hip-hop veterans, and up-and-coming indie and pop stars. With this lineup the space revered for decades as a musical destination at the shore rejoins the conversation and is poised to compete with the similarly-sized Stone Pony and House Of Independents spaces in town going forward. 

    The biggest event on the list comes near summer's end, as New Jersey post-hardcore icons Thursday will play back-to-back nights as a continuation of the band's reunion and album tour, where it will play its two most popular LPs, "Full Collapse" and "War All The Time," on respective nights. Expect those two gigs to sell out immediately.

    Asbury Lanes 3.jpgAn artist rendering on the new-look Asbury Lanes venue and bowling alley in Asbury Park. (Courtesy of iStar)  

    Alt-pop star Bishop Briggs, renowned emcee Lupe Fiasco, southern rocker Kurt Vile, indie-folk singer Phoebe Bridgers and Jersey punk-rock vet Ted Leo should all also draw big crowds to the 726-capacity venue on Fourth Street. Asbury Lanes is now booked by Bowery Presents, the New York-based company that handles talent for Terminal 5, Brooklyn Steel and Music Hall of Williamsburg in the city. 

    Propulsive Asbury Park hard-rockers The Cold Seas will open the venue with a concert May 25. 

    All tickets go on sale Friday at noon at More shows are likely to be announced. 

    Here's the full lineup so far:

    • May 25 - The Cold Seas + Wyland
    • May 30 - Sandy Mack All Star Jam
    • June 3 - Dark City Strings + Levy & the Oaks + Thee Idea Men
    • June 8 - The Shady Street Show Band + Quincy Mumford and The Reason Why + Pepperwine
    • June 12 - Kurt Vile and the Violators
    • June 13 - Tennis
    • June 16 - Turtle Soup + Waiting On Mongo + Psychotic Submarines
    • June 19 - Bishop Briggs
    • June 29-30 - Railroad Earth
    • July 1 - Lupe Fiasco
    • July 6 - Maxi Priest
    • July 26 - Black Lips
    • July 29 - Tyler Childers
    • July 31 - Phoebe Bridgers
    • August 16 - Sparta
    • August 18 - Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
    • August 22 - Allah-Las
    • August 23-24 - Thursday
    • Bobby Olivier may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @BobbyOlivier and Facebook. Find on Facebook    

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    From gold in California to a handful of N.J.'s top times, these were N.J.'s top performers for Week 2.

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    A Brick woman with a Howell mailing address owes the Howell School District over $10,000 after she mistakenly sending her child to the wrong school

    Confusion over their address is costing a New Jersey family over $10,000.

    A woman who lives in Brick, but has a Howell mailing address, has to pay the Howell Board of Education after she mistakenly enrolled her child in the neighboring district.

    In New Jersey, mailing addresses often do not follow municipal boundaries.

    The student actually attended Howell schools for three years after being enrolled in 2014. The family was notified of the residency problem in December 2016, but the student finished the school year in Howell.

    Mom who sent kids to school in neighboring town owes $39K in tuition

    An administrative law judge ruled last year that the family should only have to reimburse the district for any day after they were made aware of the mistake, not the total time the student was enrolled in the district.

    The bill still came to $10,445.76 for 124 days after Dec. 9, 2016 that the student remained at Howell schools. The day rate was listed in the finding as $84.24.

    The child's mother, who was identified by the initials T.K., appealed the decision, but the New Jersey Commissioner of Education reviewed the petition and upheld the amount in a ruling issued last week.

    The family's address was not listed in the decision. While Brick and Howell are in two different counties, there is a small section of Brick west of the Garden State Parkway along the Howell border.

    Chris Sheldon may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @chrisrsheldon Find on Facebook.


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    Who is ranked first in the latest Top 20

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    Marc Marinoff, of Marlboro, taught science and math at Joseph R. Bolger Middle School in Keansburg.

    A former Keansburg middle school teacher and camp counselor admitted Tuesday to distributing child pornography.

    Marc Marinoff, 31, faces three years in state prison and must forfeit his job as a teacher, according to the terms of his plea agreement. He'll never be able to take another public job in his life, according to the agreement. 

    Marinoff, of Marlboro, taught science and math at Joseph R. Bolger Middle School in Keansburg, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office. He was also a camp counselor and director at the Marlboro Township Recreation Community Center, according to his LinkedIn page.

    Marinoff was arrested in March 2017 after detectives found evidence that he distributed videos of child pornography on his personal computer and devices on a file-sharing program on the internet, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said in a statement. The peer-to-peer network allows users to connect directly with other users on the internet and easily share files.  

    Marinoff, who pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography, is scheduled to be sentenced before Superior Court Judge Ellen Torregrossa-O'Connor on June 29.

    An attorney representing Marinoff, Mitchell Ansell, was not immediately available to comment on the plea. 

    Alex Napoliello may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us.


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    Which players are off to the best statistical starts?

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    Goals, assists, saves and ground balls. Who's setting the pace so far this season?

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    See which players are atop the statistical standings so far this season in girls lacrosse.

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    The bill combats a dangerous cycle known as "passing the trash," in which administrators who fear litigation remain silent as teachers under investigation for sexual misconduct move from school to school. Watch video

    A historic law giving school administrators sweeping new powers to warn other districts about teachers accused of sexual abuse was signed Wednesday by Gov. Phil Murphy.

    "Ensuring our children are safe when they go to school every day is our number one priority," Murphy said. "By requiring public, charter, nonpublic schools and contracted service providers to perform a detailed investigation of prior employment histories of applicants who are applying for jobs entailing regular contact with students, this common-sense legislation will begin to fill a serious gap in our hiring system."

    The landmark legislation becomes law four months after NJ Advance Media published an extensive investigation, highlighting a system that allows problem teachers to easily get another public school job even after accusations of sexual misconduct. Known as "passing the trash," the cycle continues because administrators, in an effort to avoid lawsuits, often have remained silent about teachers under investigation.

    Teachers accused of sexual misconduct keep getting jobs in N.J.

    The law requires schools to ask teachers' previous employers if they were under investigation for sexual misconduct at the time they resigned. Districts would be required to share complaints against former teachers unless the cases were proven false or unsubstantiated.

    Notably, the proposal would also grant districts legal immunity for sharing such information and ban separation agreements that force districts to destroy or withhold files detailing those probes. 

    First proposed in in January 2017, the bill languished in Trenton for nearly year before NJ Advance Media's investigation published in December. The bill was passed unanimously in February by both the Assembly and Senate.

    One teacher highlighted in the story was convicted of sexually assaulting six students in three different schools districts. Another teacher was recently indicted on charges he sexually abused two teenagers in the 1990s. A third teacher, who left three jobs where he was accused of misconduct over 10 years, was fired the day the story published.

    Murphy in December said the report made him "vomit" and he would consider "smart legislation" to address the problem.

    "This is a huge victory for our children, their parents, and our state," said Jay Webber (R-Morris), who authored the legislation. "Allowing former employers to share information with prospective employers about teachers who sexually assault students is plain common sense. No longer will these predators be able to continue their horrific behavior simply by changing jobs. Children will now have the protection they deserve."

    Earlier Wedneday, Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26), a co-sponsor of the bill, called on the governor to sign the bill into law. 

    "As I've said all along, the safety of our students is paramount," Pennacchio (R-26) said. "By enacting the 'Pass the Trash' law, this state is honoring its responsibility to protect innocent children from chronically-abusive teachers. I am proud that we were able to do this on a bipartisan basis with the support of the Governor. This legislation will go a long way to safeguarding students from abuse."

    The law is modeled after similar laws in a small but growing number of states, including Pennsylvania. It passed despite never gaining support from the influential New Jersey Education Association, the state's largest teachers union. 

    The NJEA did not take a position on the bill, saying it cared about the wellbeing of students but also wanted to protect due process rights for school employees. 

    Other school groups, including the New Jersey School Boards Association, supported the bill with minor revisions to help schools implement the new requirements. 

    Rush Russell, executive director of the advocacy group Prevent Child Abuse NJ, said the NJ Advance Media report changed attitudes toward the legislation "with dramatic examples that no one could hide or run from."

    "No longer will schools be able to keep offenders' behavior a secret, and allow them to get another job in another school... and abuse more children," he said. 

    Adam Clark may be reached at Follow him on twitter at @realAdamClarkFind on Facebook. 

    Jessica Remo may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @JessicaRemoNJ. Find on Facebook.

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    "Sprung from cages out on highway nine, chrome wheeled, fuel injected, and steppin' out over the line ...."

    I recently had to buy a car for my son after the camshaft failed on his previous vehicle. It needs to be said that no matter how poorly the car with the bad camshaft treated my son, he was sad to say goodbye to it because "Doug" -- as he had named it -- was his first car.


    My first car was a 1972 Chevelle. Admittedly, it had the family 307 V8 instead of the 350 or 402, but it LOOKED fast. It topped out at 97 mph, not a fraction faster.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    The affinity my son and I had for our first cars is in no way unique. Who doesn't have a soft spot in his or her heart for that "first set of wheels?"

    And, guys aren't the only ones who get soulful about their cars; gals are just as likely to have fond memories of former vehicles (as referenced by a recent insurance company commercial: "You LOVED Brad ... and then you totaled him!").

    Some guys, however, seem to take it to an extreme. A 2008 survey by the Daily Mail revealed that their first set of wheels ranked higher in young men's memories than their 18th birthday, first girlfriend and first kiss. I recognize that the Daily Mail survey was taken a decade ago, but it speaks to a love affair we have with our cars that shows no sign of waning in the 21st century.

    Chevrolet referred to its cars as being "the heartbeat of America" and Chrysler made it is simple as possible when it told us that "driving = love." Some may not be quick to admit it, but I think it's obvious that we all have an emotional attachment to our cars.

    Enjoy this collection of classic car photos from the past in New Jersey, as well as these links to previous auto-related galleries.

    Vintage photos of cars and racing in N.J.

    Vintage photos of hot wheels and cool cars in N.J.

    Vintage photos of a long history of auto racing in N.J.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

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    James Habel remains in state prison after he was convicted of claiming to be working at the Wall Township school district while actually spending time at his Florida vacation home.

    Closing statements begin in official misconduct trial of former Wall Twp. schools superintendentFormer Wall Township schools superintendent James Habel, seen here during his March 2015 corruption trial, lost an appeal of his conviction on Wednesday. (Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media for

    A former Wall Township schools superintendent will continue to spend his golden years behind bars, after an appellate panel upheld his conviction and 5-year prison sentence on charges he claimed to be working while actually spending time at his Florida vacation home, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office announced Wednesday.

    James Habel, now 61, was indicted in 2013 and two years later was convicted of official misconduct and falsifying public records following a trial in State Superior Court.

    Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni's office had charged Habel with bilking the Wall school district out of about $240,000 by fraudulently cashing in more than 100 vacation and sick days, fudging vehicle mileage, and failing to return an iPad and other electronics owned by the district following his retirement.

    Prosecutors said Habel falsely claimed to have accrued nearly 550 unused days off and that he took only four vacation days out of about 2,000 days on the job, even though he spent many of those "unused" days relaxing at a home he owned in Dunedin, Florida.

    Habel and a new lawyer appealed his conviction and sentence on several grounds; that his trial lawyer, Robert Honecker, a former assistant county prosecutor, had a conflict of interest; that the trial judge, Francis J. Vernoia, gave improper instructions to the jury; that the misconduct conviction lacked sufficient evidence; that the prosecutor committed misconduct; and that the prison term imposed by the sentencing judge, Judge Ronald L. Reisner, was excessive.

    Reisner, who is now retired himself, sentenced Habel in December 2015 to five years behind bars with no possibility of parole, barred Habel from ever again holding office in New Jersey, and revoked his state pension and retirement benefits. Habel entered the Southern State Correctional Facility on Dec. 4, 2015, and has been held there since then.

    In the panel's decision on Wednesday, Gramiccioni's office said, Appellate Division Judges Douglas Fasciale, Thomas W. Sumners, Jr., and Scott J. Moynihan rejected each of the assertions by Habel's appeals lawyer, Edward Bertucio.

    Bertucio said in an interview Wednesday that his client had not exhausted the appeals process, and would take his case to the state Supreme Court or seek post-conviction relief.

    "It is the intention of Dr. Habel to continue to fight," Bertucio said.

    Steve Strunsky may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @SteveStrunsky. Find on Facebook.

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    There were plenty of changes from the opening rankings.

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    Horizon must turn the records over to NJ Advance Media next week.


    Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey must turn over a consultant's report to NJ Advance Media that guided the company in creating OMNIA, the influential insurance plans that excluded half of the hospitals in the state from sharing in the most lucrative benefits, a state judge ruled this week.

    State Superior Court Judge Robert P. Contillo, sitting in Bergen County, rejected Horizon's request to keep the consultant report by McKinsey & Company and other related documents under seal. The report is key evidence in a lawsuit filed by three hospitals. A trial is set to begin soon.

    Horizon loses court battle with N.J. hospitals 

    NJ Advance Media, which provides content to, The Star-Ledger and other  affiliated newspapers, sued to obtain a copy of the McKinsey report, arguing OMNIA was created with the intent of shaking-up New Jersey's entire private health care marketplace.

    Horizon insures 3.8 million of New Jersey's 9 million residents, and Horizon intended to shake-up the insurance landscape by offering a new line of plans that promised discounts to people willing to use a set of hospitals and physicians. 

    Contillo agreed. Horizon must turn the records over next week, according to his Monday opinion.

    "Nothing I deal with...has a more immediate, acute public impact than these matters. This is no mere private dispute -- it is infused with broad public impact and it is of legitimate public interest," Contillo wrote. 

    "Horizon hopes to transform the way health care is delivered and paid for here in New Jersey, with a focus on quality and cost containment," Contillo's decision said.

    "The public interest is not confined to what Horizon says about how it structured OMNIA and created Tier 1 and 2, or awarded participation, but also how it hopes to achieve these goals, by incentivizing value-based, result-based health care at the alleged expense of those network partners designated as Tier 2."

    There are 238,000 OMNIA policy holders, according to information Horizon released last year. When the plans were unveiled in 2015, consumers paid about 15 percent less in premium costs than for Horizon's other product lines. Premiums rose significantly this year, which Horizon attributed to the uncertain future of the Affordable Care Act under the Trump administration.

    OMNIA policy holders also potentially save thousands of dollars more in copays and deductibles by using 39 "tier 1" hospitals and medical professionals, which have agreed to accept lower reimbursements in exchange for higher patient volume. Consumers can use "tier 2" hospitals and doctors but they will pay more to do so.

    Horizon spokesman Kevin McArdle expressed disappointment in the decision.

    "Horizon is disappointed with the Court's ruling as it permits public dissemination of information that the New Jersey Supreme Court has previously recognized as protected and that is critical to defending the interests of the policyholders we exist to serve," McArdle said.

    "The company has always been clear and transparent about why it created OMNIA -  to make high quality medical insurance more affordable to New Jersey families.  Horizon respectfully disagrees with the Court's ruling and plans to appeal this decision."

    The case stems from a lawsuit brought by a handful of hospitals angry they had been relegated to tier 2 status, arguing they are losing money and ultimately may have to downsize, merge or close. The hospitals are suing for the right to be included among the tier 1 hospitals.

    Michael Furey, the attorney for Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, Valley Hospital in Ridgewood and CentraState Medical Center in Freehold, hailed the judge's decision.

     "With Judge Contillo's decision, the public should finally have an opportunity to learn the truth behind OMNIA," Furey said. "He saw through Horizon's baseless claims of confidentiality and recognized the public's interest in acquiring an understanding of how OMNIA was formed, the selection of the Tier 1 hospitals, and the efforts of Horizon to direct its insureds to the Tier 1 hospitals and away from the Tier 2 hospitals.

     "If Horizon truly believes that healthcare is an important issue to the public, then it should stop its efforts to hide the documents that explain what happened and comply with the Court's order directing their release," Furey said.

    Susan K. Livio may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @SusanKLivio. Find Politics on Facebook.

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    Check out who leads the list. The answer might surprise you.

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