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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    A host of unexpected results creates major changes in statewide rankings.

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    Chloe Hung's great new play, "Issei, He Say, or the Myth of the First," is playing at NJ Repertory Company through May 20

    The characters in Chloe Hung's great new play, "Issei, He Say, or the Myth of the First," are doubly beset: on one hand by a painful history they cannot change, and on another by a frightful present condition that they struggle to control. In this tense terrain, Hung proves herself an exciting new playwriting voice by finding both explosive conflict and complex warmth.

    Set in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, "Issei, He Say" focuses on two houses of Asian immigrants. The Chus--Lucy (Christina Liang), her mother (Kathleen Kwan), and father (Fenton Li)--have recently moved from China, next door to Mr. Yamamoto (Stan Egi), originally from Japan and living conspicuously alone with his garden. Jessica Parks's efficient set on the small Long Branch stage emphasizes the inescapable intimacy between the two homes, but from the start we understand that Mr. Chu wants very little to do with Mr. Yamamoto, despite the latter's overtures of neighborly friendship. It does not take long for us to learn that Mr. Chu has fled China with his family seeking refuge from the violence invading Japanese forces imposed prior to World War II, and despite the fact that Mr. Yamamoto has been in Canada since well before the war, Mr. Chu considers him implicated in the horrors that ripped apart his family and country. "Howdy neighbor" calls Mr. Yamamoto every morning, only to receive in response a grunt that is bound up with myriad layers of personal and cultural pain.

    But Hung adds more richness to this tension by offering the play as the memories of Lucy, who serves as narrator. Twelve-years-old, in a new country, and the victim of constant xenophobic bullying, Lucy takes great cheer in the warmth of Mr. Yamamoto, despite her father's chastising. As narrator, an elder Lucy makes clear that her younger self bore very little of the cultural pain of her parents; she just wanted the kind of friendly face offered by her kind neighbor. It is Mr. Yamamoto who reveals the meaning of the play's title, telling Lucy that issei is a Japanese term for first-generation immigrants like her, comforting the girl by contextualizing her struggle.

    For much of the first act, "Issei" threatens to be a one-note play about how the obstinate Chinese family refuses to see past the heritage of the Japanese man despite Lucy's admiration and Mr. Yamamoto's friendliness. Egi does fine work as the kindly neighbor, but we don't see much beyond that type.

    But after intermission, the sly work by Hung and Egi emerges: that which seemed flat in act one shows to have just been a resting powder keg awaiting the ignition that comes in act two. A variety of factors offer the necessary spark, but when tension rises to outright conflict, Hung dives deeply and eagerly into the fraught psyches of her characters. The playwright is not interested in adjudicating the conflict, but rather in wrestling with the pain that rebuffs solace in each character. The explosive act-two clash rewrites and recontextualizes everything that comes before and after it, especially for Mr. Yamamoto and Mrs. Chu. Egi reveals how difficult it was for his character to perform the constant warmth that seemed to emanate from him earlier, and Kwan shows a side of Mrs. Chu suppressed almost entirely to this point. Here and elsewhere throughout the show, director Lisa James shows a confident hand in modulating the levels of animosity and strained cordiality between the characters.

    Filtered though Lucy's lens, "Issei, He Say" takes on added depth and warmth because it is not only about how cultural baggage can render personal connection intractable, but also about a young girl struggling to reconcile that bewildering condition. In this, Hung shows herself a playwright interested in the difficulty of gazing through competing lenses, and "Issei, He Say" proves itself an evocative, challenging play.


    The NJ Repertory Company

    179 Broadway, Long Branch

    Tickets available online (, running through May 20.

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

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    One was bought in Monmouth County, the other in Passaic County Watch video

    Two jackpot winning tickets were sold for Tuesday's $574,010 Jersey Cash 5 lottery.

    One was purchased at Krauszer's on South Concourse Street in the Cliffwood Beach section of Aberdeen, the other at Estelle Supermarket on Passaic Street in Passaic, state lottery officials said Wednesday morning. 

    The holder of each winning ticket will receive $287,005 minus taxes. 

    Cash4Life lottery ticket sold at ShopRite worth $1K a week for life

    Tuesday's winning numbers were: 9, 14, 15, 23 and 28. The XTRA number was 2.  More than 600,000 tickets were bought statewide for Tuesday's drawing, officials said. 

    The odds of a $1 ticket matching all five numbers are 962,598 to 1.  

    Wednesday's jackpot resets to $75,000. It took four days without a winner to reach the amount of Tuesday's top prize.

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



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    Three companies allegedly sold life alert systems that didn't work or weren't new as promised

    Three New Jersey companies accused of using aggressive and deceptive telemarketing strategies to sell life alert systems to senior citizens have agreed to a nearly $296,000 settlement with state officials. 

    Ezra Rishty, of the Oakhurst section of Ocean Township in Monmouth County, and Larry J. Ansell, of Tinton Falls, and their businesses Life Aid Connect, Inc., Safety Alert USA and Mobile Alert, Inc. agreed to shut down the businesses and stop selling emergency alert systems in New Jersey.

    The settlement of the civil charges was announced by the state Attorney General's Office on Wednesday.

    3 NJ men charged in telemarketing scam targeting elderly

    The companies coerced people into buying systems that ran from $159 to $299 and also charged between $34.95 and $39.95 a month in monitoring fees. Often the systems either were never delivered, didn't work correctly or couldn't be activated in places in which their customers reside, the state alleged.

    A life alert system allows people to simply push a button to call for help when experiencing a medical emergency or their safety is otherwise jeopardized. 

    Among the deceptive marketing and sales practices, authorities said the two men sold refurbished systems as "100 percent brand new," charged customer credit cards even after they declined to order the product and reached "hundreds of consumers" who were on the "Do Not Call" list.

    "Con artists and scammers will not be allowed to browbeat our consumers into buying goods or services that they don't want or need or don't work as promised," acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs Kevin Jespersen said in a statement. 

    The $295,544.86 settlement breaks down as follows, according to the final consent judgment papers: 

    • $206,000 settlement
    • $8,668.86 in restitution
    • $57,980 to reimburse the state's legal fees
    • $22,783 to reimburse the state's investigative costs

    Rishty is also banned from owning or operating any companies which engage in telemarketing.

    Their attorney, H. Benjamin Sharlin, didn't immediately return a message seeking comment. 

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



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    NJ Advance Media has put together a list of the top girls lacrosse seniors. Vote for the No. 1 player at the bottom.

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    The Garden State is known to have the highest rates of autism in the nation: One in 41 of our 8-year-olds have been diagnosed, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

    Six Flags Great Adventure is giving parents of children on the autism spectrum a gift more precious than gold: a day when their youngsters can fully participate in the joys an amusement park can bring.

    The Jackson facility is planning its first Autism Day at Six Flags on Thursday, May 3.

    On that occasion, the sights and sounds at the park will be toned down to accommodate the needs of children who often grapple with sensory overload.

    Autism Spectrum Disorder, a developmental disorder an estimated one in 68 children nationwide lives with, affects a person's social communication and interaction, among other things.

    Many youngsters on the spectrum have trouble processing too many sights, sounds and tastes - a reality that turns a visit to an amusement park into a terrifying nightmare for child and parent alike.

    Great Adventure aims to be world's biggest all-solar theme park

    What can parents expect when they visit Great Adventure next Tuesday?

    For one thing, the park will be open only to families with at least one child on the autism spectrum, making for shorter lines and more accessible accommodations.

    Lighting and music levels will be muted, while designated "decompression areas" will be loaded with sensory-friendly items.

    The Gersh Academy, a Huntington, New York school for children on the autism spectrum, is sending more than 100 staff members to lend a hand to families if needed.

    Six Flags is not the first amusement park to recognize that a theme park can pose seemingly insurmountable challenges to families with autistic members.

    Legoland Florida, in Winter Haven, offers several quiet rooms where visitors can take a break from sensory stimulation. Comfort items on hand include weighted blankets, fidget toys, noise-controlling headphones and stress balls.

    A designated calming room at Dollywood, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, features oversized beanbag chairs and a darkened tepee for brief respites.

    Similar facilities are available at Edaville Family Theme Park in Carver, Massachusetts, which also hires a special-needs rep to answer calls from parents planning visits and to interact with families when they visit.

    More and more museums and movie theaters are recognizing the need to provide comfortable spaces for their autistic patrons.

    We're grateful to the folks at Six Flags for bringing these innovations to New Jersey, if only for a day.

    The Garden State is known to have the highest rates of autism in the nation: One in 41 of our 8-year-olds have been diagnosed, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

    It's laudable that Six Flags has observed a need and is responding to it.

    If the day proves successful, maybe the park's corporate owners will consider making it a regular fixture? If only ...

    Bookmark Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find Opinion on Facebook.

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    Leisure time activities can range from archery to Zumba.

    Merriam-Webster defines pastime as "something that amuses and serves to make time pass agreeably" and leisure time as "taking place during time not used for gainful employment."

    We all have our favorite things to do when we have "down time." Some people garden, some people jog, others read. In my case, down time often consists of no activity whatsoever.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    Here, we've compiled a collection of pictures of people in New Jersey enjoying time away from work, school and chores. And, whether you have a predilection for physical activity or you enjoy a sedentary lifestyle, we think you'll find a photo or two that speaks to you.

    And here are links to past galleries on games and pastimes.

    Vintage photos of fun and games in N.J.

    Vintage photos of games people played in N.J.

    Vintage photos of N.J. games and pastimes

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

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    According to its Trulia listing, the taxes on the property are $14,314.

    In this week's "Sold!" property, we feature a home in Spring Lake with 3,529 square feet of living space.

    The house sold for $1,420,000 in January. According to its Trulia listing, the taxes on the property are $14,314.

    The home features eight bedrooms and four full bathrooms. The house was assessed at $2,161,000.

    The median sale price for homes in the area is $552,500.

    Sophie Nieto-Munoz may be reached at Follow her at @snietomunoz. Find on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us.

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    There was plenty of movement after half the teams in the rankings suffered a defeat last week.

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    The buzz is just starting around the guys on this list.

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    The student is accused of making a written threat against the special education college last month.

    A 23-year-old man from Red Bank has been accused of making a violent threat against his Vermont college, according to police. 

    vermont-college-eric-smith.jpegEric Smith, 23, of Red Bank 

    Vermont State Police responded to the report of a written, violent threat March 3 targeting the Landmark College.  

    Officials searched the campus and cleared it of any viable threat, police said. Further investigation led them to arrest Eric Smith this week. He faces charges of causing false public alarm and disorderly conduct.

    Smith has been placed on interim suspension from the school as the investigation into his conduct continues, Christopher Lenois, Landmark's associate director of marketing communications, said in a statement.

    Such conduct violations can be met with suspension or expulsion, he said. 

    "We did not feel the threat was credible at the time of the incident back in early March, but contacted Vermont State Police out of an abundance of caution," Lenois said in a statement. "Nothing that has transpired during the course of the investigation has changed that initial perception." 

    The college in Putney, Vermont caters exclusively to those with diagnosed learning disabilities, such as attention disorders or autism, according to its website.

    A call to a phone number associated with Smith's relatives in New Jersey was not immediately returned Thursday. 

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

    Have a tip? 
    Tell us.

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    NJ Advance Media has put together a list of the top girls lacrosse seniors. Vote for the No. 1 player at the bottom.

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    The lane closures on a 5-mile stretch in Monmouth County start at 10 a.m. on Friday and continue through 5 a.m. Monday

    Traffic is expected to be a mess on the Garden State Parkway through part of Monmouth County starting Friday and through the weekend as two northbound local lanes will be closed for repairs.

    The lanes will be closed starting at 10 a.m. Friday at milepost 112.4 in Middletown as workers fix the bridge that carries the Parkway over Middletown-Lincroft Road, officials said.

    The traffic delays could be "severe," according to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which operates the Parkway. 

    The closure lasts until 5 a.m. Monday between exits 109 and 114.

    A back hoe being hauled on a flatbed trailer struck the bridge in November as it traveled along Middletown-Lincroft Road.

    One Parkway lane had to be closed for two days while emergency repairs were made to the bridge. Workers installed temporary steel beams until a permanent fix could be implemented. 

    Motorists can call 511 from a hands-free mobile device or download the SafeTripNJ smartphone app to check on traffic conditions over the weekend. 

    Middletown-Lincroft Road will also be closed in the area of the Parkway from 4 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday, according to Middletown police. 

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



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    An international pipeline. A scandalous photograph. Racial taunting. See which New Jersey sports scandals over the past decade have resonated the most.

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    Two players with New Jersey ties were selected Thursday night in the first round of the NFL Draft. How many others from the Garden State will be chosen this weekend?

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    Asbury Park will still let smokers light up on the boardwalk, but smoking on the beach will get you a fine

    Four more popular Jersey Shore destinations have joined the growing list of towns where it's illegal to smoke on the beach.

    Asbury Park became the latest to join the group Thursday night with a ban on cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco. The town, however, didn't go as far as some others though, as smokers can still light up on the boardwalk.

    More than a dozen other Jersey Shore towns have banned smoking on the beach. Asbury Park joins Wildwood, North Wildwood and Point Pleasant Beach with new laws outlawing smoking on the beach this summer. The Wildwoods also banned smoking on the towns' famed boardwalk.

    These are the 7 best beaches in N.J., according to U.S. News. Commence debate.

    Other towns where smoking on the beach is banned include Barnegat Light, Beach Haven, Belmar, Cape May Point, Harvey Cedars, Long Beach Township, Long Branch, Longport, Ocean Grove, Ocean City, Sea Girt, Seaside Park, Ship Bottom, Spring Lake and Surf City.

    Smoking is also not permitted on Sunset Beach in Lower Township.

    Many of those towns also don't allow smoking on the boardwalk, though some permit smoking in designated areas. 

    In 2016, then-Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill prohibiting smoking at state-run parks and beaches.

    Volunteers from Clean Ocean Action picked up more than 29,000 cigarette filters from the sand last year during its annual spring and fall beach sweeps. Discarded cigarette butts usually rank in the top 5 of the garbage collected in the sweeps.

    In Asbury Park, the new ban calls for fines, but the the amount wasn't disclosed. City officials pushed for the ban after a growing number of complaints from beach-goers. 

    "Our ultimate goal is to keep our beaches beautiful, safe and family-friendly," Asbury Park  Mayor John Moor said in a statement.  "We wanted to address the public health concerns as well help keep our beaches clean. The smoking ban will help eliminate the waste created by improperly discarded cigarettes that litter the sand and end up in our oceans, contaminating the water."

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

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    The sister used her position at a business to re-direct money to shell companies the siblings established

    Two siblings have been convicted of orchestrating a fraudulent invoice scheme that stole more than $1 million from the company where one of them worked. 

    A jury sitting in Trenton deliberated for an hour Thursday before finding Shevandra Verasawmi, 38, of Matawan, and Vishallie Verasawmi, 37, of Green Brook, guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and three counts of mail fraud, the U.S. Attorney's Office for New Jersey said in a statement.

    The trial lasted for a week.

    The siblings face up to 20 years in prison for each count when they are sentenced Aug. 7. Prosecutors also want the pair to forfeit $1,066,830 and a 2016 BMW 750Li xDrive sedan. The brother and sister attempted to steal $3.7 million, officials said.  

    Garden State Parkway local lanes closure to cause major delays all weekend

    The Verasawmis set up shell companies and then Vishallie Verasawmis used her position at the business to add the shell companies to her employer's accounts payable system, authorities said. 

    They then submitted dozens of fraudulent invoices for services they never provided and deposited the proceeds into bank accounts they controlled. The money was spent on personal expenses, including the luxury car, and credit card payments. The scam ran from April to August 2016. 

    The indictment didn't identify the New Brunswick company by name, but describes it as a "provider of medical services."

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


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    What were some of the bigger story lines to come out of high school softball fields recently.

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    Take a look at the top talent in the Class of 2020.

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    In total, 112 people have been charged since 2014 with applying for assistance under false pretenses.

    Three more New Jersey residents have been charged with trying to defraud the state and federal government out of Hurricane Sandy relief money by claiming their damaged properties were their primary residences.

    In total, 112 people have been charged since 2014 with applying for assistance under false pretenses, the state Attorney General's office said in a statement Friday. 

    The following people were charged: 

    • Diane DiCosmo, 74, of Fair Lawn
    • Barry Benevento, 72, of Matawan
    • Benevento's wife, Karen, 70

    DiCosmo received $177,439 in relief funds by saying her primary residence was in Lavallette when she actually lived in Fair Lawn at the time of the October 2012 storm, authorities said. She is charged with second-degree theft by deception. 

    The Beneventos received $127,388 in relief funds  by claiming their primary residence was in Manahawkin when the couple actually lived in Matawan, at the time of the storm, authorities said. They are each charged with second-degree theft by deception.

    In a statement, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal called the alleged thefts "egregious" and "deplorable." He said over $2 million has been recovered through the prosecution of other fraudulent claims.

    Olivia Rizzo may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @LivRizz. Find on Facebook

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