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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    Summer update on the N.J. boys hoops recruiting front


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    New Jersey has been locked in a decidedly unpleasant weather pattern for the past month, bringing flooding rains and unrelenting humidity to the region.


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    Who is back from NJ.com's postseason selections following the 2017 season?


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    He's big. He's Al. He hits dingers. And he's from New Jersey.


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    Swimming was not allowed at eight New Jersey beaches Wednesday afternoon after the water sampled at each continued to show high levels of bacteria found in animal or human waste.


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    More hot fun in the summertime.

    This is a photo of the house I grew up in on Chimes Terrace in Vineland. Do you see that strip of sand alongside the street in front of our house?

    Chimes_Terrace.jpg 

    Obviously, we didn't have sidewalks. We also didn't have a swimming pool and my sister and I usually were limited to running through the sprinkler or shooting water pistols at each other to keep cool.

    But with regularity, it being summer, a thunderstorm would pass through.

    Thunderstorms are usually over pretty quickly; after it passed, a river of water would be running down the side of our street. That water and that sand became our special summer fun.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    We could form little canals or dam up the water and make a small lake. If it was a particularly hard rain, you could sail little sticks as if they were boats. Even if the rain wasn't quite over, it was a cooling summer rain you didn't mind and the steam rising off the asphalt added to the things you could imagine. Traffic wasn't nearly as dense as it is today, and drivers were aware of us - they weren't staring at cell phones.

    And every time there's a summer shower, even to this day, I think back to that simple summer fun.

    In this gallery of vintage photos from around New Jersey, we can see that summertime fun can be anything anyone wants it to be when the weather's fine. And here are links to other galleries you'll enjoy.

    Vintage photos of taverns and bars in N.J.

    Vintage photos of the 1970s in N.J.

    Vintage photos of a day in N.J.

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


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    The girls, 15 and 16, were last seen Wednesday night in Ocean County and Freehold Township police believe they ran away from home

    Police in Freehold Township are searching for two teens who ran away after leaving a house in Ocean County on Wednesday night.

    Kayla Destefano, 16, is described as 5-feet-2-inches tall, weighing around 139 pounds. She has brown hair, brown eyes and a scar on left arm, according to police. 

    Jocelyn Zaveckas, 15, is 5-feet-1-inch tall and weighs 148 pounds, police said. She has brown hair, brown eyes and a scar on left elbow. 

    The girls were last seen Wednesday night around 8:50 p.m. after leaving a residence on Jackson Mills Road in Jackson Township, police said. They headed south on foot toward Chandler Road in Jackson. 

    Officials ask that anyone with information about their whereabouts contact police at 732-294-2110 or 732-462-7500.

    Amanda Hoover can be reached at ahoover@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandahoovernj. Find NJ.com on Facebook

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    Seaside Heights was forced to ban swimming at all its beaches on Thursday, but officials are hoping to reopen the waters for the busy summer weekend


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    The fliers were placed in bags containing candy and tossed onto Leighton and Hudson avenues

    Ku Klux Klan fliers have been distributed outside homes on two streets in Red Bank in the past week, according to the borough's mayor.

    The recruitment fliers, which were placed in a plastic bag containing candy, have been found on Leighton Avenue and most recently on Hudson Avenue, according to Mayor Pasquale Menna. The streets are about a mile apart. 

    "It's completely distressing" Menna said by phone Thursday. "It's completely disgusting. We're a progressive community, a diverse community and that message doesn't have a seed of support in a place like Red Bank."

    The literature doesn't contain specific threats, so it's not a crime to distribute them. The person responsible can possibly be issued a summons for littering or for a moving violation in a car, though. Menna said officials believe the fliers were tossed from a vehicle. 

    One of the fliers compared fighting for the United States Army to fighting for Israel. The other challenges the accuracy of Spike Lees' newly released film, "The Black KkKlansman." The biographical drama tells the story of a police officer in Colorado who infiltrated the Klan in the early 1970s. 

    This is the second time in recent years similar fliers have been distributed in the borough. Residents also found literature on their lawns on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January 2016. Some were also tossed onto properties in neighboring Fair Haven. The person responsible was never identified or charged. 

    "I suspect this is from the outside," Menna said. "I don't see any support for it here whatsoever or even a scintilla of agreement with the message."

    Menna said the fliers were not discussed at Wednesday's council meeting. He added police patrols are on the lookout for suspicious activity. Police chief Darren McConnell couldn't immediately be reached for comment. 

    News of the fliers was first reported by RedBankGreen.com

    KKK fliers were also found in the Burlington County towns of Maple Shade, Cinnaminson and Moorestown last year and in Lyndhurst, Bergen County in 2015

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

     

     


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    Find out which teacher from your county made the cut.


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    Every beach in New Jersey, with the exception of 1, reopened Thursday afternoon after the DEP lifted a swimming ban that was in place since Wednesday due to high levels of bacteria in the water at several spots along the Jersey Shore.


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    The director of a Neptune-based camp attended by black and Hispanic children says they were subject to restrictions not imposed on white children enrolled in the county's own camp

    Campers at Ft monmouth pool.pngCampers outside Monmouth County's Fort Monmouth pool on Aug. 9

    Monmouth County recreation officials say they are ending a practice that restricted the use of a county pool and adjacent basketball court at Fort Monmouth for children in subsidized recreation programs, after a camp director said it effectively discriminated against African-American and Hispanic campers.

    The three-year-old policy had placed restrictions on the use of the pool area and the court for children in programs subsidized by the county's Recreation Assistance Program, or RAP, which was established in 1985 to assist camps and other programs whose young participants were from mostly low-income households.

    County officials released a letter sent Wednesday to the Neptune-based camp operator, Dr. Kimber Washington, offering an apology and explaining the reasoning behind the restrictions, which prevented subsidized campers from bringing their towels and other belongings into the fenced-in pool area, and from using the basketball court.

    The letter, dated Aug. 15 and signed by Monmouth County Superintendent of Recreation Patti Conroy, states that all children will be able to bring their towels into the pool area and use the basketball court, whether they are enrolled in the county's own day camp program at Fort Monmouth or an independent camp that pays the county to use the facilities. 

    "I sincerely apologize that your summer camp had an unpleasant experience," Conroy states in the letter. "An outing to the park should certainly be a fun and memorable experience and if we have fallen short in providing this for your group, then it is my job to make improvements wherever we can."

    "Once their pool time begins, children are certainly welcome to bring their towels with them as they enter the pool area," the letter continues. "Regarding the basketball court, I have instructed Fort Monmouth staff to provide this to our visiting groups."       

    Washington said she was encouraged by the letter, which was largely consistent with a phone conversation she had with Conroy. But Washington also said she will reserve final judgement until Thursday, when her two dozen K-8 campers return to Fort Monmouth for the last time this summer before heading back to school.

    "We'll see what happens," said Washington, who runs the camp for elementary school-age children out of the Little People At Work pre-school she operates in Neptune.

    Conroy's response was prompted by an Aug. 9  letter Washington had sent her, copied to the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders and to NAACP chapters in Freehold, Neptune, Red Bank, Asbury Park and Lakewood.

    "I am writing to express my concern about the discriminatory practices experienced by my students and staff at Fort Monmouth pools today," Washington's letter begins.  "I suggest you modify this situation immediately."

    Washington, a retired New Brunswick public school teacher, said she learned of the policy on Aug. 9 from a pair of county recreation employees at Fort Monmouth after her campers had gone there to swim.

    Washington said one of her counselors called her to say the group had been told by a lifeguard to leave their belongings in a gazebo outside the pool area, and that the guard had taken away a basketball that campers were playing with on the court. Washington also said the counselor told her the lifeguard had spoken harshly to the bewildered campers, and forbid them to play with certain toys in the pool.

    White children enrolled in the county's own camp based at Fort Monmouth were not subject to the restrictions, Washington said.

    Washington said she immediately went to the pool herself, where she witnessed the lifeguard, who was actually a recreation supervisor, toss a ball to a group of white campers after she had taken it from Washington's campers, a group made up entirely of black and Hispanic children. 

    Washington's camp is based out of the Little People At Work independent pre-K school that she founded in 1994. She said the camp is open to all elementary-school age children, but it draws primarily from African-American communities in Neptune and Asbury Park, and this summer's campers are all black or Hispanic.

    "I think it's racial, I think it's neighborhood," Washington said of the true reason for the restrictions.

    Washington's camp does receive RAP subsidies, but she nonetheless pays the county $5.50 per visit, per child to use the Fort Monmouth pool complex.

    Washington said the lifeguard and another recreation supervisor at the Fort Monmouth pool told her the restrictions had been imposed three years earlier on RAP groups after some had been unable to control their campers' unwieldy behavior.

    She said the supervisor, whom she knew only as "Jim," told her he was sorry her group had been lumped in with others, but he nonetheless defended the restrictions as justified.

    Washington said she found the supervisor's response unacceptable, and argued that individual camp groups should be held accountable individually for their campers' behavior.

    Washington said she was also disappointed by an inititial response from Conroy,  before she sent the Aug. 15 letter.

    "Her first response to me on the phone was that perhaps we could look lnto another pool where my campers would have a more pleasant experience," Washington said.

    But Conroy's assistant director, Andrew Spears, said that was an unfair characterization.  

    "Patti Conroy mentioned to Ms. Washington that beginning in 2019, there would be a second pool added to our field trip offerings, one at Big Brook Park in Marlboro," Spears wrote in an email. "The reason Patti thought that this would appeal to her is that we have added archery, a zip line, climbing wall, and a nature trail at Big Brook. We have none of these amenities at Fort Monmouth. Patti also explained that Fort Monmouth would still be available."

    Washington said she appreciated Conroy's apology for her group's treatment at the pool that day. But she said she was looking to prevent similar unfairness from being imposed on any group. "This isn't just about my campers," Washington said. "Its about all campers."

    Steve Strunsky may be reached at sstrunsky@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveStrunsky. Find NJ.com on Facebook


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    Two men were knocked into the water when a whale hit their boat during a fishing trip Thursday morning. Watch video

    A retired Trenton firefighter rescued two fishermen when a whale capsized their boat off Long Branch Thursday.

    Former Capt. Gary Szabo rushed into action when he heard a "mayday" over the radio while out Fluke fishing on his boat. The caller, Szabo recounted, said a boat was flipped by a whale, launching people into the water.

    "It caught my ear," he said of the unusual report.

    The former fire department diver found two men in the water, clinging to their 25-foot overturned vessel. Video of the rescue shows one man swim toward Szabo's boat and be helped aboard from a dive ladder. A second fisherman, seen sitting on his capsized craft, was also pulled to safety by Szabo.

    "We watched the whale ... and all of the sudden the boat just goes whee and it's gone," one of the just-rescued fishermen explained in the GoPro video after being helped aboard.

    Delightful dolphin pods swim with Jersey Shore paddleboarder

    The area was teeming with baitfish, apparently attracting a whale before the creature flipped the fishing boat about 50 yards from the beach, Szabo added. One man appeared to have suffered a small cut, but they were otherwise not hurt.

    "They were in good spirits," Szabo said. "They're going to be sore in the morning."

    Szabo said it was common to see whales in the area, but he could not recall a similar rescue.

    Rescue crews, including a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter and State Police, also responded to the call. A Coast Guard spokeswoman confirmed the boat was hit by a whale, but the exact kind of aquatic mammal was unclear.

    For Szabo, the instinct to rush to those in distress continued after his career serving on the Trenton Fire Department, including as a SCUBA instructor and rescue captain.

    "I retired about six years ago ... until today," he joked.

    Noah Cohen may be reached at ncohen@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @noahycFind NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    Questions on the Nov. 6 ballot will ask residents if they want three council sets elected only by residents of those wards, and whether they want primaries and a partisan general election.

    Unless the City Council takes action itself, Asbury Park residents will vote in November on whether to change to a ward-based council, after the city clerk certified that petitioners for the change had submitted enough valid signatures to place the question on the ballot.

    "They got the signatures they needed to put the question on the ballot," said Sonya Spina, a city spokeswoman.

    Currently, the council consists of five members, all elected by a city-wide vote, or "at-large," under a form of government approved by voters in 2013 following the recommendation of a local charter study commission. Two of the members are designated mayor and deputy mayor.

    But under the change being sought by a group known as the Committee for a More Fair and Equitable Asbury Park, the city would be divided into three wards, each with its own city council member elected solely by residents of that ward. Two council members, the designated mayor and deputy mayor, would continue to be elected at-large.

    Under a ward system, proponents say, council members could not ignore the interests of the largely poor, largely African-American west side in favor of the city's rapidly developing waterfront to the east, the shops and restaurants of its bustling downtown, or the restored Victorian homes and tree-lined streets of its north end.

    The west side has lagged behind other rebounding neighborhoods even as the Monmouth County resort community has become one of the trendiest destinations on the Jersey Shore, those in favor of the change have previously told NJ Advance Media.

    Should Asbury Park statue honoring founder stay up?

    Voters will also decide whether the city moves from a November non-partisan election with a runoff in the event that no candidate wins a majority to a partisan system that would include party primaries, but dispense with runoffs.

    The city council now has 10 days to act on the ward and partisan elections petition, with the option of crafting ordinances to make the change themselves. If not, the questions will be placed on the Nov. 6 ballot.

    A spokesman for the petitioners welcomed Wednesday's certification of the petitions by City Clerk Cindy Dye.

    "We're satisfied that she accepted the ballot initiatives to let the residents decide that the under-served community should have a voice," committee spokeswoman Tracy Rogers said.

    However, Rogers said a third question proposed by the group, on a residency requirement for city employees, was not certified because of city officials' conclusion that the petition did not adequately explain the issue.

    Nonetheless, Rogers said supporters of the residency requirement would work with the city council to craft an ordinance under the council's standard legislative process.

    Ward-based systems are the norm in New Jersey's larger cities, and in some smaller ones with distinct communities. A common argument against them is that they can be divisive, pitting ward council members against one another.

    Steve Strunsky may be reached at sstrunsky@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveStrunsky. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    How N.J. spends the summer.

    Wildwood Crest is one of only six beaches in New Jersey that are free for everyone.

    While it may seem like a bit of a hike to get to the water, it's definitely worth the walk for the family-friendly environment. Large groups have no trouble finding space to call their own for the day, ice cream vendors walk the beach offering cool treats and ice cold water, and there's plenty of room to play a game of catch in the sand behind the crowds.

    Wildwood Crest also has several festivals throughout the summer and early fall, including the Sand Sculpting Festival and Christmas in July festivals in July, and the Firefighters' Weekend Craft Show and Seafarers Celebration in September.

    After hitting the beach during the day, walk around town and check out the neon lights of the Doo-Wop motels or head up to Wildwood for a night out on the boardwalk.

    Wildwood Crest Beach Patrol lifeguards are on duty from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily from Memorial Day weekend through the weekend following Labor Day. Surfing is permitted at the Rambler Road and Aster Road beaches. Beach games and kite flying are permitted on the back areas of the beach.

    Handicap transport to the beach is available by calling 609-522-3825.

    Lori M. Nichols may be reached at lnichols@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Instagram @photog_lori and Twitter @photoglori. Find NJ.com on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips.


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    The 15-year-old was located by the Rutgers police but the 16-year-old is still missing

    UPDATE: Both teens found after 2-day search

    One of the two Freehold Township girls who went missing Wednesday night was found Thursday in New Brunswick. 

    kayla.jpgKayla Destefano is still missing. (Freehold Township police) 

    Jocelyn Zaveckas, 15, was located at 8 p.m. by Rutgers University police, Freehold Township police said Friday morning. Her 16-year-old friend, Kayla Destefano, is still missing, but police think she is the New Brunswick area. 

    Described by police as runaways, the two left a home on Jackson Mills Road in Jackson, Ocean County and were last seen together around 8:50 p.m. walking south along that street in the area of Chandler Road.

    Destefano is about 5-foot-2 and has brown hair, brown eyes and a scar on her left arm, according to police. 

    Anyone with information about Destefano is asked to call Freehold Township police at 732-462-7500 or 732-294-2110.

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

     


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    Storm expert from AccuWeather says don't get fooled by this very quiet Atlantic hurricane season. We still have to get through the most active months.


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    See how the new divisional realignment cycle could alter the boys soccer landscape this season.


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    More than 100 residents were displaced from their homes in a Brick 55-and-over community when almost 8 inches of rain fell on Monday. Watch video

    Gov. Phil Murphy faced a feisty and frustrated crowd of residents early Friday as he toured a 55-and-over community in Brick flooded by a deluge of rain earlier in the week, forcing evacuations and causing extensive damage.

    "We lost everything," one man told Murphy, as a crowd gathered, peppering the governor with pleas for help and questions about potential FEMA aid. "We can't even stay here."

    The residents of the Greenbriar I community, where more than 100 homes were evacuated Monday as nearly 8 inches of rain fell, have spent the week assessing damage, restoring utilities and dumping the ruined contents of their homes at the curb.

    Here's how you can help the N.J. residents devastated by flash floods

    "Here's one of my main concerns," one man said. "I'm still young, I can still try to rebuild like I did in Sandy, like I did in Maria in my homeland (Puerto Rico). But my concern is for a lot of the older folks here that are on a fixed income. They got nowhere to go, no money to rebuild. A lot of them are talking about abandoning their homes."

    "Yup," the governor said.

    "And their life savings are here," the resident continued. "We gotta do something because we're a family community. We gotta do something to hold ourselves together."

    "We're doing everything we can," Murphy said.

    One person asked Murphy if he should start to rebuild on his own or wait for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

    Murphy called it a "very good question" and asked one of his aides for an answer. The aide advised the person to start the work, but to document everything.

    When another man began detailing his situation to the governor, Murphy replied, "hope is not a strategy. We're doing everything we can -- at the county level, the state level, the federal level. Watch out for contractors who don't have their heart in the right place."

    Another person asked what to do if you can't afford to pay to repair the damage, but Murphy was interrupted by other queries from residents and didn't answer.

    The governor did a walk-through of two homes in Greenbriar I, a 55-and-older community of more than 1,900 homes just east of the Garden State Parkway.

    Earlier this week, officials, including Brick Mayor John Ducey questioned whether the recently-completed construction project along the Garden State Parkway in Brick affected flooding. Long-time residents said the neighborhood had never flooded before. 

    "I know the county engineers, the state engineers - we're all trying to find out what happened," Murphy told the residents. 

    On Tuesday, Murphy declared a state of emergency for five counties affected by flooding from multiple storms that rolled through between Saturday and Monday. The counties include Bergen, Essex, Monmouth, Ocean, and Passaic, and the declaration makes additional state resources available to help flood victims.

    Murphy toured flood damage in Little Falls on Monday.

     

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    Five people were injured after a second-story deck collapsed at West Long Branch home on Thursday, authorities said.

    Five people were injured after a second-story deck collapsed at West Long Branch home, authorities said.

    Police responded to the scene around 3 p.m. Thursday and treated those who were injured.

    Injuries included cuts and chest pains. EMS vehicles transported the injured to area hospitals, according to the West Long Branch Police.

    The incident is under investigation by a West Long Branch construction official.

    Cassidy Grom may be reached at cgrom@njadvancemedia.com Follow her at @cassidygrom. Find NJ.com on Facebook.Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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