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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    The competition featured 50 beach patrol teams from New York to Virginia. Watch video

    Ocean City's Bryan Theiss huddled his team up after the first event knowing that a pending thunderstorm would cut the 2018 Red Bull Surf and Rescue competition short. 

    He told them to focus on the second and final round, the Paddleboard Relay.

    The advice worked as Frank Brady was the first to emerge from the choppy ocean, and out ran Wildwood Crest's Kevin Kelly to the finish to secure the championship. 

    "We dialed it back in and we just threw down on that paddle," said Theiss, standing in a slight drizzle minutes after the team received their trophies.

    Beach patrol teams, from New York to Virginia, were supposed to compete in a new four round elimination format, but a strong line of thunderstorms cut the competition by two rounds. 

    Prior to the start of the event, the teams where notified that the fourth and final round would be eliminated because of the incoming storms. But after the first round, the Surf Swim Relay, it was announced that the second round event, the Paddleboard Relay, would decide the champion. 

    The 50 four-person teams had to battle strong winds and heavy surf which did not bother the Ocean City Beach Patrol team of Bryan Theiss, Maggie Wallace, Brian McGroarty, and Frank Brady. 

    "For our team the rougher it is the better for us," said Theiss, claiming that the team consists of athletes not pure pool swimmers and runners. 

    "We kind of like train in these conditions because we work the beach everyday," said Wallace. "We've seen it before, we know how to navigate it."

    "It's really a piece of cake." 

    The Wildwood Crest Beach Patrol team of Brett Pederson, Jon Burke, Adrienne Bilello, and Kevin Kelly finished second, while Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol #1 consisting of Ryan Corcoran, Jenna Parker, Jarrod Shoemaker, and Randy Townsend finished in third.  

    New Jersey teams have dominated the Red Bull Surf and Rescue winning every year since the competition began. Longport Beach Patrol won the last two years. 

    Tim Hawk may be reached at Follow him on Instagram @photog_hawk and Twitter @photogthawk. Find on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us.

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    The DEP closed four Monmouth County beaches Wednesday as a precaution to let flood waters drain from a pond into the ocean

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    Two buses of girls were headed to a bowling alley

    Several children on a camp trip suffered minor injuries when one bus rear-ended another in Holmdel on Wednesday morning.

    The school buses were traveling north on Route 34 when the collision took place near the intersection of Route 520, Holmdel police told All of the injuries were minor, the report said. 

    Both buses were carrying girls from Camp Bnot Jersey Girls & Little Guys on a trip to a local bowling alley, a camp official who gave his name only as Joey said during a brief phone call with NJ Advance Media.

    Ask Alexa what's happening around New Jersey

    He declined to provide the ages of the girls and denied that anyone was hurt.

    "Everybody's OK," he said. 

    A woman who answered the phone at the bus company, Seman-Tov, said no one would be available to comment until 5 p.m. 

    Holmdel police couldn't immediately be reached for comment by NJ Advance Media. 

    Lakweood-based Camp Bnot Jersey Girls & Little Guys is a full day summer camp program for 3-year-old through 9th grade girls and boys between 3 and 5, according to its website

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


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    FanDuel Group says it will launch online sports betting and an internet casino in New Jersey, hopefully in time for the start of football season.

    FanDuel Group says it will launch online sports betting and an internet casino in New Jersey, hopefully in time for the start of football season.

    FanDuel, which is mostly owned by Ireland-based Paddy Power Betfair, will provide online sports betting with the license of the Meadowlands Racetrack, and internet gambling through its licensing affiliation with Atlantic City's Golden Nugget casino.

    GAN and IGT will provide the technology platform for both.

    "Online sports betting 'go-live' preparations for FanDuel are well advanced and we remain confident in launching integrated sports betting alongside our existing internet casino later this year," said Dermot Smurfit, GAN's CEO.

    They are among many companies racing to get in on both of New Jersey's growing gambling markets.

    Sports betting in New Jersey began last month, generating $16.4 million in bets during its first two weeks.

    Ask Alexa what's happening around New Jersey

    Internet gambling has grown steadily in New Jersey since its November 2013 launch and provides about 10 percent of the Atlantic City casinos' revenue.

    So far, two casinos, the Borgata and the Ocean Resort, and two racetracks, the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park, offer sports betting.

    Ocean Resort's internet gambling site had its first full day of operation on Tuesday, becoming New Jersey's 27th licensed internet gambling site.

    But many others have applied for permission to offer sports betting as well, and all of them hoping to be up and running by the time the first NFL game kicks off in the first week of September.

    The Golden Nugget and Resorts have applied for in-person and mobile sports betting. Hard Rock is awaiting approval of its application, and the three casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment have applied for in-person betting, mobile betting or both. In-person betting would be held at Harrah's and Bally's (which also would service the adjacent Caesars casino), and the company would offer mobile sports betting aligned with all three of its Atlantic City casinos.

    Officials at the Tropicana did not immediately respond to a request for comment on their sports betting plans. The casino and its parent company are in the process of being sold to Eldorado Resorts.

    There are 14 potential sports betting licensees: the nine Atlantic City casinos, the three functioning racetracks (Monmouth Park in Oceanport, the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, and Freehold Raceway in Freehold), and two former track sites (Atlantic City Race Course in Mays Landing and the former Garden State Park site in Cherry Hill).

    Officials at Freehold's parent company did not respond to a request for comment.

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    The campaign by activists to bring a "Baby Trump" to N.J. has ballooned into a national tour with a fleet of blimps

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    The Bikini Boys, the group that lampooned Christie's infamous day at the beach during a government shutdown, took home the "Best on the Beach" award at the 2018 New Jersey Sand Castle competition. Watch video

    They might be fully grown men playing in the sand, but they sure are good at it.

    The Bikini Boys, a group of men from Seaside Heights who were the masterminds behind the sand sculpture that lampooned Gov. Chris Christie's infamous day at the beach during the state government shutdown last year and which also won last year's 31st Annual New Jersey Sandcastle Contest in Belmar with their Etch-a-Dragon sculpture, took home the "Best on the Beach" award again at the 2018 New Jersey Sand Castle competition.

    An estimated 10,000 onlookers stopped to stare in awe at the giant turtles, friendly salamanders, and seaweed-haired mermaids that contestants created with sand, shovels, water, food coloring and a whole lot of imagination.

    An estimated 10,000 onlookers stopped to stare in awe at the giant turtles, friendly salamanders, and seaweed-haired mermaids that contestants created with sand, shovels, water, food coloring and a whole lot of imagination.

    But the crowd favorite was the sculpture made by Larry Watkins, Dave Bobal, Tom Oldewurtel, or the Bikini Boys. The lighthearted crew arrived around 8 a.m. to start molding Fred, Barney and a dinosaur from the cartoon show The Flinstones. They said they printed out photos of the characters before coming to the shore to help them plan, but as with any type of art, sand sculpting takes a little improvisation.

    One of the Bikini Boys sprayed water mixed with food coloring on the dinosaur to add some last-minute flare before judges came around to make their decisions. An event organizer, John Panossian, said that judges were looking for originality, accessories, and creativity.

    The Bikni Boys and their purple dinosaur must have excelled in each of those categories because less than an hour later their sculpture was dubbed "Best on the Beach," and corporate sponsor D'Jais restaurant gave them a $100 gift card.

    A few steps from the Flinstones, Randall from the movie Monster's Inc. laid grimacing in the harder sand near the ocean waves. Randall's creator, Jessica Bassett of Wall, said she has competed in the sandcastle competition with her family for 10 years -- and she has the expertise to prove it.

    The Bassett family always starts by sketching an outline in the sand, she said, then they dig to access the harder sand found closer to the ocean or underneath the top layer that is better for packing.


    "Start from the top and work your way down so the detail is in the face," Bassett said. "You don't want to get too crazy."

    Around 1 p.m. the competitors put down their shovels for the last time and gathered around the white event tent to see who would take home the 15-plus trophies and gift baskets overflowing with boogie boards, hula hoops and other beach-themed goodies.

    According to Panossian, the following individuals and groups placed in the Belmar competition:

    Camps and Rec.

    1st: Marlboro Rec - The Turtle Team

    2nd: The Brookside School - Butterfly

    3rd: The Brookside School - Unicorn from Despicable Me

    7 & Under

    1st: Gianni - Mount St. Belmar

    2nd: Luam McNulty - The Bat Castle

    3rd: Kia Raicer - Dinosaurs

    8-11yrs old

    1st: Bryan Rimer - Lazy Day Volcano

    2nd: Sisters Forever (Corde) - Cute Kitty

    3rd: Kaiser & Conner - S.S. Belmar

    12-15yrs old

    1st: Bobby & Emily - The Ship

    2nd: Anthony Barisciano - Fire Dept. Living Room

    3rd: Ocean Elite - Punch Buggy No Punh Back

    16 & over

    1st: Theresa Tarabocchia - Cinderella's Carriage

    2nd: Brendon Schaffer - Great Sand Dragon

    3rd: James Parisi - Harrison the Hippo


    1st: Holiday - Peanut the Elephant

    2nd: Andorra Tola- Jurassic Beach

    3rd: Andrew - Pioe Dreams

    Best Traditional Castle

    Milania Perry - Mermaid Special

    Overall Winner

    The Bikini Boys - Yaba Dana Do

    Cassidy Grom may be reached at Follow her at @cassidygrom. Find on Facebook.

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    Gov. Phil Murphy released a statement a day after a pair of published reports described bleak living and working conditions at the professional women's soccer team he owns.

    A day after a pair of published reports described bleak living and working conditions at the New Jersey professional women's soccer team he owns, Gov. Phil Murphy released a statement Wednesday night saying the players "deserve better" and that he's requiring management to "improve" the situation.

    "I don't find the status quo tolerable -- and these players deserve better," Murphy said of his team, Sky Blue FC, in his first public comments since the reports. 

    "They deserve to operate in a professional and supportive environment so they can do what they do best -- play the game, inspire fans, and build community through the power of the world's most popular sport," he added.

    Two soccer news websites -- The Equalizer and Once A Metro -- published reports Tuesday in which former players and others affiliated with Sky Blue say players have been set up to live in shack-like homes, play in facilities without showers, and practice in dirty clothes because of a lack of laundry service, among other complaints. 

    Murphy is the majority owner of the team, which is based in Tinton Falls and plays its home games at Yurcak Field at Rutgers University in Piscataway. 

    Life on soccer club owned by Gov. Murphy is allegedly sad and bleak

    The governor is the majority owner, though he says he does not manage the day-to-day operations of the club. 

    A former player who asked to remain anonymous confirmed the conditions to NJ Advance Media on Wednesday.

    "Phil Murphy will claim that he's the governor and that's what he's focused on, but he's the owner," the ex-player said in an interview. "This is simple stuff. Be more involved or sell it to somebody that wants to do something with it."

    Murphy, a die-hard soccer fan and former Goldman Sachs banking executive, said in his statement Wednesday that he and his wife, First Lady Tammy Murphy, invested in the team years ago because it "bothered us to our core that little girls who played soccer in the U.S., unlike other countries, did not have a professional league to aspire to as they grew up and developed a love for the game."

    Murphy said they wanted to "promote the advancement of women's soccer and harness its potential to inspire fans, especially young girls, to reach for the stars."

    "The past decade has been challenging, to say the least," he continued. "The team has not been remotely financially successful and the league has struggled to stay afloat. But our commitment to women's soccer has not wavered and our sole motivation -- ensuring women had an opportunity to play professionally in the U.S. -- remains to this day. Sky Blue FC is now the longest-running professional women's soccer team in the United States."

    Murphy added that "like male athletes, women athletes deserve a first-rate experience, both in the workplace and off the field."

    "It is clear that the players on Sky Blue FC have not consistently received such treatment," he continued. "That is simply not acceptable."

    Thus, Murphy said, he and fellow owner Steve Temares -- the CEO of Bed, Bath & Beyond -- have "required accountability from team management to improve working conditions for players."

    "Although our staff is dedicated and hardworking and some progress has already been made, more work remains to be done," Murphy added.

    A spokesman for Murphy -- who became New Jersey's governor in January -- initially declined comment Tuesday and deferred to Sky Blue.

    "We take any concerns from our players seriously and are actively engaged in discussions with players and team leadership to ensure their voices are heard and their concerns are addressed," team spokesman Mary Smoot said Tuesday.

    A source with the club told NJ Advance Media that many of the housing complaints from the players were from previous years and that the situation has improved. 

    The source also said housing is difficult in New Jersey, where the cost of living is among the highest of any state in the nation.

    Tax returns show Murphy has lost about $5 million on the team over the years, including about $523,000 in 2016.

    NJ Advance Media staff writer Steve Politi contributed to this report.

    Brent Johnson may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @johnsb01. Find Politics on Facebook.

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    A phrase as 'New Jersey' as 'What exit?"

    If you've ever wondered about the etymology of the phrase 'down the shore,' weighs in with an answer:

    "In New Jersey, you invariably go "down the shore." Baltimore natives, meanwhile, say they're going "down the ocean" -- but in Baltimorese (make that Bawlmerese), the phrase sounds more like "downy eaushin." The down of "down the shore" and "down the ocean" doesn't necessarily imply a southward journey. As in many dialects along the Eastern Seaboard, 'down' can be used as a preposition indicating movement from the inland toward the shoreline."

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    Here's a gallery of folks who participated in movement from the inland toward the shoreline in New Jersey, as well as these links to other galleries you may enjoy.

    Vintage photos of N.J. folks going 'Down the Shore'

    Vintage photos of going down the Shore in N.J.

    Vintage photos of the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer in N.J.

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

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    The road will be closed between Tennent Road and Route 520 in Marlboro

    A 3.5 mile stretch of Route 79 in Marlboro will be closed on Thursday after a construction crew struck a high pressure gas line, authorities said. 

    Update: The northbound lanes were reopened around 10 a.m. The southbound remains detoured.

    The road will be shut between Tennent Road and Route 520 (Newman Springs Road) for most of Thursday, Marlboro police said in a statement. 

    The crew was doing road work when they hit the line in the area of Church Lane around 11 p.m. No one was hurt, but one home had to be evacuated, according to Capt. Fred Reck.

    Motorists are asked to avoid the area and plan an alternate route. 

    New Jersey Natural Gas is on the scene to assess what repairs are needed, police said. 

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



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    One of the main finding from the Center on Juvenile Criminal Justice is that juvenile curfew laws overwhelmingly targets African-American and Latino youth

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    The two third-prize tickets were sold at stores in Monmouth and Hudson counties

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    The man intended on delivering the guns to Asbury Park, authorities say

    A 31-year-old Keansburg man who boarded a train with a garbage bag filled with two large rifles and ammunition in 2016 was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison.

    On Aug. 17, 2017, Kevin Carter boarded an NJ Transit train in Hazlet with the intentions of transporting the guns and 14 hollow point bullets to Asbury Park, according to the criminal complaint. 

    Two train conductors saw what was in the bag and contacted police. The officers got on the Elberon station in Long Branch and arrested Carter after he tried to pull the emergency stop lever and flee the train.

    He was charged with various weapons offenses and found guilty following a two-week trial in January. Carter represented himself in court.

    He must serve at least five years before he is eligible for parole. 

    Carter has a prior criminal record. 

    He spent 78 days in jail after pleading guilty to receiving stolen property in 2013.

    And in 2014, Carter was sentenced to three years in prison for possession of a controlled dangerous substance. 

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

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    Put the shark fears behind you. Watch video

    Don't let two recent shark attacks off of Long Island cast a shadow on your next trip to the Jersey Shore. Shark attacks are exceedingly rare, both in New Jersey and around the world.

    "[People] should never be worried about sharks anywhere, it's such random events," said Marie Levine, the executive director of the Princeton-based Shark Research Institute.

    No shark attack has occurred in New Jersey since November 2013, according to records kept by Levine's organization, when bodyboard surfer Quinn Gates had a chance encounter in Bay Head.

    A shark is believed to have taken a bite out of Gates's swim fin after mistaking it for a seal or fish. Gates was unharmed in the incident.

    Only six shark attacks have occurred in New Jersey since 1975, and all of those were non-fatal, according to the Shark Institute. The last fatal shark attack in New Jersey was in August 1926. Charles Burke was swimming in Seaside.

    In 2017, just 88 unprovoked shark attacks occurred worldwide according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.

    Sharks of N.J.: How many species pass through Jersey waters?

    Those low shark attack numbers stand in contrast to the high number of sharks in New Jersey waters. As many as 30 species of sharks are identified in the ocean off  the Garden State each year, some close to the shoreline and others far out to sea.

    Ask Alexa

    Of those species, Levine said that people visiting the Shore are most likely to encounter sandbar sharks. These sharks pose little threat to humans, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.

    People pose a far larger threat to sharks than vice versa.

    Levine said it is estimated that between tens of millions of sharks are killed by people each year, typically as a result of fishing.

    Staff writer S.P. Sullivan contributed to this report.

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


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    Several beaches in Monmouth County were closed Thursday after floating garbage washed ashore, according to the DEP.

    UPDATE: Beaches in Allenhurst and Loch Arbour were cleared for swimming at 7:30 p.m.

    Swimming at numerous beaches in Monmouth County was banned Thursday after floating garbage washed ashore, according to the DEP.

    DEP Spokesman Larry Hajna said the decision was made to close beaches from Long Branch to Loch Arbour after the trash, which was a mixture of materials that get washed or flushed into sewer lines, washed up late Thursday afternoon.

    "It can be anything that can wash off the streets or things that get flushed down the toilet," Hajna said.

    Hajna said the debris, classified as "floatables" by the DEP, included diabetic needles, tampon applicators, paper and bottles.

    He said that although the source of the garbage has not been confirmed, it may be combined sewer discharge from the New York Harbor area following Tuesday's heavy rain.

    "Currents in the recent days have been shifting south down into Monmouth County area," he said.

    He said crews were working to clean the beaches, but that he did not have a timetable for when they will be reopened.

    The following 13 beaches monitored by the DEP were closed Thursday:

    Allenhurst: Cedar Avenue

    Deal: Phillips Avenue, Hathaway Avenue, Deal Casino

    Loch Arbour: Village Beach Club

    Long Branch: Atlantic Avenue, Elberon Beach Club, North Bath Avenue, South Bath Avenue, Joline Avenue, Laird Avenue, Ocean Beach Club and Imperial House (condominium complex beach)

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

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    How N.J. spends the summer.

    With towels draped over their shoulders and smiles on their faces, children exited several yellow school buses in front of the Ocean Beach Area 1 Pavilion at Island Beach State Park on a recent Wednesday afternoon.

    These busloads of kids eagerly walked over the access ramps, ready to join an already crowded beach of families relaxing on the white sand, while the clear waters cooled off a slight ocean breeze. 

    Just south of Ocean Beach Areas 1 and 2, four-wheel-drive vehicles parked side by side, as fisherman sat by their poles waiting for a catch that might not come on this particular day. Some brought their four-legged friends, noses in the air taking in all the sniffs. 

    This is "the way life should be," if you ask most anyone who has spent time on this 10-mile stretch of barrier island in Ocean County.

    The park also offers other activities such as kayaking, nature programs, surfing clinics and bird watching. 

    An annual park pass for New Jersey residents is $50. It's $75 for non-Jersey residents. Passes are valid for entrance to all New Jersey state parks. 

    For the day trippers, the vehicle entrance fee during the summer season for New Jersey residents on weekdays is $6. For weekends and holidays, it's $10. Non-Jersey residents pay $12 and $20.  

    Tim Hawk may be reached at Follow him on Instagram @photog_hawk and Twitter @photogthawk. Find on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us.

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    The soon-to-be law will charge violators a $250 fine for the first offense, $500 for the second offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.

    Having your butt on the beach could soon cost you $250 in New Jersey -- and that's only for the first offense.

    Gov. Phil Murphy will sign a bill  Friday that will ban smoking at all public Garden State beaches and parks, according to the governor's office.

    The soon-to-be law will charge violators a $250 fine for the first offense, $500 for the second offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.

    New Jersey already has a smoking ban on the few of the coast's state beaches and within state-owned parks under a bill signed by former Gov. Chris Christie. Similarly, about a half-dozen towns along the state's shore have enacted similar bans.

    Will New Jersey tax your tap water?

    The new law (S2534), however, will put an end to cigarette smoking up and down the Jersey Shore.

    At least, that's the objective.

    Clean Ocean Action, which collects litter along the Atlantic coast, reported finding 29,000 cigarette butts in 2017, 1,155 lighters and 1,870 cigarette packages.

    "Cigarettes are a major source of litter and pollution, while also being a threat to public safety," Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said in a statement last month when the bill made its way through the Legislature.

    "A complete ban will not only benefit public health but our environment. We are spending all this money rebuilding our beaches and now we should not turn them into ashtrays," Tittel said.

    Murphy is slated to sign the legislation in Long Branch Friday.

    NJ Advance Media staff writer Samantha Marcus contributed to this report.

    Matt Arco may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewArco or Facebook.

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    Why a breakdown in communication between county and federal investigators caused an arson investigation to close prematurely.

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    A 36-year-old Long Branch man was arrested following searches at two city residences, authorities announced.

    Authorities seized 1.1 pounds of cocaine, $32,000 in cash and a handgun after searching two residences in Long Branch, officials said. 

    Giddel Gonzalez Estrada, 36, was arrested Wednesday and charged with dealing drugs following the searches on Broadway and Morris Avenue, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said in a statement. 

    Authorities also seized three cars, a small amount of marijuana and materials used to package and sell drugs, Gramiccioni said. The cocaine seized has a street value of around $50,000. 

    The arrest was the result of an investigation that began earlier this year, Gramiccioni said. 

    Estrada faces up to 20 years in state prison. 

    Gramiccioni urged anyone with information about this investigation to contact Detective Fil Lao of the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office at 1-800-533-7443.

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


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    13 beaches had to be closed Thursday and the DEP says more floating garbage has been spotted off the Jersey Shore

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    Smoking on N.J.'s beaches could cost you.

    Get your puffs on New Jersey's beaches in while you still can because starting next year, lighting a cigarette along the Jersey Shore will cost you.

    Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation Friday that bans smoking on the Garden State's public beaches and in state-owned parks.

    The law (S2534) takes effect in January and violators will be fined $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.

    "Today New Jersey is taking action to get the butts off the beach," Murphy said at the bill-signing ceremony on the boardwalk in Long Branch. "This was a long time coming."

    Get your (cigarette) butt the hell off the beach!

    State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, who sponsored the legislation, lauded the Democratic governor for signing the bill after his predecessor, Republican Gov. Chris Christie, opposed the measure.

    "This beach is not an ashtray," Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said. "This is one of the greatest resources New Jersey has."

    "Our beaches are only going to get better for what we're doing today," he added.

    Clean Ocean Action, which collects litter along the Atlantic coast, reported finding 29,000 cigarette butts in 2017, 1,155 lighters and 1,870 cigarette packages.

    The bill gives town the discretion how to enforce the ban. It also always a town to set aside 15 percent of its beach as a smoking area.

    Matt Arco may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewArco or Facebook.

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