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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    The state rankings have a new look after this past week's action.

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    Mark W. Holmes received a five-year sentence and will have to pay $35,000 in restitution

    The former mayor of a Mercer County town has been sentenced to five years in prison for stealing thousands of dollars and using the money to give himself a raise while he served as the executive director of Asbury Park Housing Authority. 

    Mark W. Holmes Sr., 56, was ordered to pay $35,000 in additional restitution and to forfeit his pension. In addition, Holmes can never again hold a public job, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office said in a statement. 

    Holmes, a former mayor and councilman in Lawrence Township, pleaded guilty to second-degree theft in January. 

    He stole more than $90,000 by using state grant money intended to help low-income residents of Asbury Park to give himself a salary increase that wasn't approved by the agency's board between 2008 and 2011.

    Former city clerk pleads guilty to stealing $50k in public funds

    Before becoming the executive director, Holmes served as the agency's deputy director.

    Prior to taking over as executive director, Holmes applied for -- and received -- a $99,897 grant from the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The money was intended to be spent on training in computers and other skills for residents who qualified for public housing in Asbury Park.

    Holmes created the APHA Community Development Corporation, where he funneled $58,000 to give himself a $50,000 salary increase without board approval, Gramiccioni said.

    The prosecutor's office statement said the investigation found that Holmes opened credit cards in the name of the APHA and the APHA Community Development Corporation and used the cards for personal expenses. He had the bills go directly to his home and accrued more than $30,000 in debt on the cards.

    Holmes, who went on more than 30 business trips across the country, also received $22,000 in per diem payments from the authority for meals while on business trips. 

    He used some of that money for spa treatments, hotel in-room movies, and strip clubs, authorities said.

    Holmes was indicted in December 2015 on 38 counts of official misconduct and other offenses. He was arrested at his Lawrence home in 2013 but was released from jail after posting $70,000 bail. 

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


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    From shot put supremacy to stardom in the 3,000, these athletes are set for big showings at Franklin Field.

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    Where are the top games this week?

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    'I feel great,' Smith said. 'Honestly, the heart attack was the best thing that ever happened to me.' The director, who has already slimmed down significantly ahead of his comedy special's debut, transitioned from an all-potato diet to the Weight Watchers plan.

    You may never have figured that the man who plays Silent Bob would also become a face of Weight Watchers, but today, it happened.

    During an appearance on NBC's "Today" on Monday, director Kevin Smith -- down 32 pounds after suffering a massive heart attack in February -- announced that he had become a Weight Watchers ambassador. 

    "So it's me, Oprah and DJ Khaled," Smith said of his new role. "I'm in pretty good company."

    Smith, who said he had used marijuana before experiencing his "widow-maker" heart attack during a break between two comedy shows in Glendale, California on Feb. 26, mused that he was a fan of "wake 'n bake" during the early-morning interview, indicating that he just may have been high for the segment. 

    "I feel great," said Smith, 47, whose father died after suffering a massive heart attack when he was 67. "Honestly, the heart attack was the best thing that ever happened to me." 

    Smith's heart attack was caused by a 100 percent blockage of his left anterior descending artery. Ever since, he's been an open book about the experience, speaking on podcasts and social media about how he didn't feel like he was having a heart attack at the time, and how he was only afraid because the doctors had to cut into his groin in order to place a stent, which required him to be naked. 

    "(The doctor) told me later on 'you're very chatty,'" Smith said in the "Today" interview. "He's like you wanted to know everything ... you were singing a song (from) 'Degrassi'. And I was singing the theme song to Degrassi because it's very hopeful."

    On Facebook after the heart attack, Smith also said the life-altering event granted a realization about his own happiness. 

    "I was filled with a sense of calm," he said in a post recounting the experience. "I've had a great life: loved by parents who raised me to become the individual I am. I've had a weird, wonderful career in all sorts of media, amazing friends, the best wife in the world and an incredible daughter who made me a Dad. But as I stared into the infinite, I realized I was relatively content."

    The director, who was in New York to see his daughter Harley Quinn Smith's latest film, "All These Small Moments" at the Tribeca Film Festival on Tuesday, was also promoting his upcoming Showtime comedy special, "Silent But Deadly."

    Harley, 18, co-stars in the film with Molly Ringwald (and "Sesame Street" star Roscoe Orman, aka Gordon, a longtime resident of Montclair).

    "As a big John Hughes kid I was like, 'How did you work with Ringwald before me?'" he said.

    As part of his post-heart attack mission to lose weight, Smith, who was born in Red Bank and grew up in Highlands, had previously been singing the praises of magician Penn Jillette's favorite mono-diet, which required an initial phase of eating nothing but boiled potatoes. Doing so caused him to drop more than 20 pounds. But Smith, who also announced he had become a vegetarian, later switched over to Weight Watchers. 

    He invited fans to follow his progress (and join up, too, of course) at a Weight Watchers website dedicated to the "Clerks" director. 

    "Let's geek out for good health," it says, inviting people to visit Smith's Facebook page

    But weight loss isn't special to the post-heart attack version of Kevin Smith. In 2015, he celebrated an 85-pound slimdown. Still, a doctor who treated him for the heart attack said that changing his habits -- like deciding to start walking and to drop sugary drinks -- likely came too late after years of bad eating and a lack of exercise. 

    "Silent But Deadly," Smith's comedy special, which was filmed just before he suffered the heart attack, airs at 9 p.m. May 11 on Showtime. 


    Amy Kuperinsky may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @AmyKup or on Facebook.


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    The biggest games on the schedule for the week of April 23.

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    Hundreds of cheerleaders compete for titles at N.J. competition.

    Approximately 30 cheer squads competed in the Beast of the East cheerleading championships in Wildwood Sunday.

    Hundreds of cheerleaders -- mostly from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York, -- competed in recreation, prep, all-star and dance divisions on a 54- by 42-foot spring floor.

    The event, hosted by Spirit Brands, was one of two cheerleading competitions held at the Wildwoods Convention Center over the weekend.

    Spirit Brands is hosting a Spring Festival competition at the Collins Arena in Lincroft on Sunday, April 29, and the North American Spirit Tournament in Atlantic City on Saturday, May 5, and Sunday, May 6.

    The convention center is home to hundreds of events throughout the year, including the "War at the Shore" youth wrestling championships, USAIGC New Jersey Regional Gymnastics Championships, the Wildwood Polar Bear Plunge, and Wildwoods International Kite Festival, among others.

    For more information on events in Wildwood, visit

    Lori M. Nichols may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @photoglori. Find on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us.

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    Malcolm Ryder, 86, of Spring Lake Heights was killed on April 19, 2018, when a vehicle attempting to merge onto Route 18 in Monmouth County struck the car he was traveling in, authorities said.

    An 86-year-old man was killed last week when a vehicle attempting to merge onto a Monmouth County highway struck the car he was traveling in, authorities said. 

    The crash happened Thursday at 2:30 p.m. in Neptune Township when a Honda Accord and Jeep Cherokee collided on Route 18, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office. 

    The Jeep, driven by a 17-year-old girl from Avon-by-the-Sea, was attempting to merge on the northbound side of the highway from Route 33, authorities said. 

    Her vehicle struck the Honda, driven by a 47-year-old Brick Township woman, as it traveled north in the right lane. The Honda's front passenger, Malcolm Ryder, of Spring Lake Heights, was injured in the collision, according to the prosecutor's office. 

    Ryder was taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center and pronounced dead at 3:22 p.m., authorities said. The Honda's driver was treated there for moderate injuries, while the teen was not injured. 

    Authorities are continuing to investigate the crash and ask that anyone with information contact the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office at 800-533-7443 or Neptune Township Police Department at 732-988-8000, ext. 765.

     Amanda Hoover can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @amandahoovernj. Find on Facebook

    Have a tip? 
    Tell us.


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    Jake Monteiro, of Oceanport, was hit by a North Jersey Coast Line train traveling from New York to Long Branch just before 2 a.m. Sunday, according to an NJ Transit Spokesperson.

    The man fatally struck by an NJ Transit train early Sunday morning was identified as a 21-year-old from Monmouth County, authorities say.

    Jake Monteiro, of Oceanport, was hit by a North Jersey Coast Line train traveling from New York to Long Branch just before 2 a.m. Sunday, according to an NJ Transit Spokesperson.

    There were 20 people on board the train when Monteiro was fatally struck near Bridgewaters Drive.

    No other injuries were reported. 

    NJ Transit said the incident is still under investigation.

    Alexis Johnson may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @alexisjreports. Find on Facebook.


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    Fewer New Jersey hospitlals earned an A for safety in the latest Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades report. Check out how your local hospital fared.

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    Who's the best of the best?

    0 0 breaks down the 28 high school events for the 2018 Penn Relays.

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    Brian Friel's 1990 play focuses on one weighty summer in the lives of five sisters sharing a small cottage in rural northwest Ireland

    Brian Friel's "Dancing at Lughnasa" at Red Bank's Two River Theater is a beautiful play performed beautifully. Under the insightful, confident direction of Jessica Stone, each member of the eight-person company find great, subtle depth in characters that the powerful Irish playwright paints as resilient against the persistent creep of melancholy. Supported by Tobin Ost's wistful, evocative set, the production summons all the "Best Play" Tony-winner's signature warmth.

    Friel's 1990 memory play focuses on one weighty summer in the lives of five sisters sharing a small cottage in rural northwest Ireland. Framed by the narration of an adult Michael (Harry Smith) reminiscing about his seventh summer, the story finds the five Mundy sisters dutifully toiling away in their daily struggle to get by and to remain united as a family. Agnes (Christa Scott-Reed) and Rose (Mandy Siegfried) knit gloves for sale, while eldest Kate (Megan Byrne) teaches in town and assumes matriarchal duties. Maggie (Mylinda Hull) cooks as Chris (Meredith Garretson) concentrates on raising Michael without the help of his flighty father Gerry (Cillian O'Sullivan) who breezes into town with a fresh batch of charm and empty promises whenever the mood suits. Adding a layer of complexity to all this is the worrisome physical and mental health of Father Jack (Michael Cumpsty), the sisters' uncle who has recently returned from a post as chaplain in colonial Africa, dismissed for reasons that seem foreboding.

    Dancing at Lughnasa Press 3.JPG'Dancing At Lughnasa,' currently playing at Two River Theatre in Red Bank. (T. Charles Erickson)

    None of these stories take prominence over the others, as our narrator Michael is most interested in relating the varied events of summer 1936 as his precocious seven-year-old mind perceived them. Older now, he can connect more dots and make more sense of those months, but his point in telling the story is capturing the somber-sweetness of his family sharing love and frustrations in difficult times with no promise of redemption.

    Michael's narrative speeches are some of Friel's most lyrical prose, here delivered with expert nuance by Smith, who succeeds admirably in his responsibility of establishing the play's mood. He is neither maudlin nor revisionist, but frank and earnest about the joys and struggles of that summer and its aftermath. Fittingly, Smith's brogue recalls the great Irish poet Paul Muldoon as he delivers Friel's lines with care and purpose.

    The rest of the cast offers excellent performances as well, particularly in their ability to show characters on journeys that are at once individual and collective, but like Smith the cast shines most by wholly embracing Friel's language. Stone's cast treat themselves less as simple characters than as complicated storytellers full of arduous histories and hopes for uncertain futures, all of which must be expressed in subtleties like intonation and gesture. Michael's memories give us a snapshot of life for the Mundy sisters, but this cast makes clear that so much more underlies their workaday existence.

    In this regard, Stone's directorial hand seems delicate and deft as she asks her performers to explore the uniqueness of their characters while constantly returning to the shared vision of Friel's Mundy sisters. That all comes out in the famous act-one dance scene, which here becomes more than a moment of fun and release. It is a chance for these women to express the depth of their selves and their love for each other in wordless, celebratory dance.

    The greatness of "Lughnasa" might in fact lie in all that Friel leaves unsaid between the sisters, but Stone and company prove themselves eager and capable of exploring every corridor of these characters' resoluteness.


    Two River Theater Company

    21 Bridge Avenue, Red Bank

    Tickets: available online ( Running through May 13.

    Patrick Maley may be reached at Find him on Twitter and Instagram @PatrickJMaley. Find on Facebook.

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    The top hitters and pitchers around the state for April 16-22.

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    Here is a look at 25 players having a big impact at the Division I level for college softball.

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    Check out the second set of conference players of the week.

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    Here is a look at 25 players having a big impact at the Division I level for college baseball this week.

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    The incident involving a Shrewsbury Borough police officer stemmed from unwarranted visits to the woman's home.

    A police officer in Shrewsbury has resigned from his job after pleading guilty to trespassing at a woman's home in January. 

    Ryan Cullinane, 27, admitted Tuesday that while off-duty he was trespassing when he was found at the home of an unidentified Shrewsbury woman, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office announced Tuesday.

    Cullinane pleaded guilty to fourth-degree trespassing, which could have landed him in jail for as much as 18 months, but the prosecutor's office said in a statement that he's expected to apply to the pre-trial intervention (PTI) program.

    As part of his plea deal, Cullinane will forfeit his weapons, as well as his firearms identification cards and is also barred from having contact with the victim and from returning to the scene of his crime.

    The day after the initial incident, the court complaint in the case said Cullinane also showed up to a restaurant where the woman was at the time. He then followed her home and "made unwanted contact and communication" with the victim.

    Cullinane was initially charged with harassment, trespassing and simple assault. 

    The prosecutor's office said the plea deal was made after consulting the victim.

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

    Find on Facebook  


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    At Dough Life, it's OK to lick the spoon.

    The temptation has always been there.

    As mom whipped up a homemade batch of cookies, you couldn't resist dipping your finger into the bowl for a taste of the dough.

    Then, when you became an adult, you'd buy a roll of pre-made raw cookie dough, take it home and dive in, never intending for any of it to make it into an oven.

    Now you can indulge your cravings in a store that specializes in serving up, well, raw cookie dough.

    Dough Life offers a range of raw cookie dough flavors served chilled in cups and in waffle cones, dipped out just like ice cream, crowned with a variety of toppings of your desire.

    Founded in upstate New York by Joseph Francabandeiro, the company expanded there and is heading south into New Jersey.

    A post shared by Dough Life (@edibledoughlife) on

    On May 5, Dough Life opens in the Freehold Raceway Mall on Route 9 in Freehold. The grand opening date is being dubbed "Cinco de My Dough," officials say.

    At the Detpford Mall on Deptford Center Road in Deptford Township, a sign outside a now-vacant store on the lower level near JC Penney says "Arriving Soon. Dough Life." No date for opening has been given for that store.

    Officials say other Dough Life locations are also planned in New Jersey, but those details are still being worked out.

    The menu, according to the Dough Life website, includes hand-dipped signature dough with mini chocolate morsels, mini M&Ms or Oreo cookies. How about dough with caramel, sea salt and dark chocolate or dough with expresso and Nutella whipped in or even peanut butter dough with graham crackers, Fluff and mini chocolate morsels?

    Seasonal offerings include pumpkin pie dough with chunks of homemade crust and red velvet dough with white chocolate morsels. And that's all in addition to daily specials and milkshakes and other drinks the stores offer.

    Prices for the dough range from $4.99 for a small to $9.99 for a large size. Owners say the dough stays fresh for two weeks.

    And what about all those worries about eating raw cookie dough? Forget about it. Dough Life uses no eggs in its dough and the flour is heat-treated to kill any microbes, owners say.

    So indulge.

    Bill Gallo Jr. may be reached at Follow Bill Gallo Jr. on Twitter @bgallojr. Find on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us.


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    Matt Doherty will go from mayor of the Monmouth County beach borough to the state's top development official in its struggling seaside gambling resort

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