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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management has a helpnjnow.org website to take donations and coordinate volunteer efforts Watch video

    Flash floods from multiple storms damaged hundreds homes and numerous businesses over the last week in New Jersey. Some have still yet to return home, while others continue to assess the damage.

    As residents pick up the pieces, there are several ways to lend a hand, particularly with the threat of more heavy rain in the weekend forecast.

    Gov. Murphy declared a state of emergency in Bergen, Essex, Monmouth, Ocean, and Passaic counties. Some of the towns seeing the worst of the storm are Brick, Howell, Little Falls and Woodland Park. 

    The state Office of Emergency Management has a helpnjnow.org website to take donations and coordinate volunteer efforts.

    "There is no doubt that parts of our state have received nothing less than historic amounts of rain, and some communities received an entire month's worth in just a few hours," Murphy said in a statement earlier this week. 

    The American Red Cross for the New Jersey region has been sending volunteers to Little Falls and Brick, and even opened an overnight shelter for displaced residents in the Ocean County area, where more than 100 homes were evacuated and 200 home sustained damage. 

    Those who wish to volunteer with the Red Cross or donate to the organization may find more information on the local site here

    The Little Falls Athletic Club is raising money to purchase gift cards to Target and Home Depot for residents affected by flooding. Tumble Zone, a gymnastics center in the town, is also seeking money to help victims. 

    Little Falls Girl Scouts are also collecting gift cards to Home Depot, Target and grocery stores at the Little Falls Recreation Center on Paterson Avenue. 

    An in-home animal rescue in Howell, which neighbors Brick and sustained damage to homes and roads, is seeking $10,000 to help rebuild, and said it cannot foster animals in the meantime. 

    In Brick, a fund to help residents displaced from the 55 and up community Greenbriar 1 is seeking $100,000. More than 100 homes there were evacuated, shocking residents who said the neighborhood has never flooded before. 

    The Brick Memorial High School Key Club has been working to move furniture and appliances out of damaged homes. Follow them on Twitter for updates on their work. 

    The U.S. Coast Guard also provided help to Brick residents as they tossed ruined carpets and furniture from their homes.

    Murphy was in Brick on Friday morning, meeting with residents and discussing options for aid. He visited Little Falls on Monday

    Towns are still tallying up their damages, and seeing if they meet the threshold for assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

    Officials encourage anyone affected by the storms to keep record of what they're throwing out and report damages

    Several individuals and families have started GoFundMe campaigns for themselves as well.  

    If you know of other local donation drives and collection points to help flood victims, please share them to the comments.

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

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    The Office of Emergency Management is working with FEMA to determine if federal aid will be available for victims of recent storms Watch video

    The question came up more than once as Gov. Phil Murphy stood amid a tense group of residents forced from their homes by flash floods earlier this week.

    "Is FEMA going to help us?"

    Murphy didn't have much of an answer for the residents of the Greenbriar community in Brick on Friday as pleaded for aid and assistance. No one in the 55-and-up community had flood insurance, since the Ocean County town is not considered a flood zone. 

    For now, Murphy's staff advised residents to document every expense and track every repair.

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

    The Office of Emergency Management is working with FEMA to determine if the level of damage in Brick, Howell, Little Falls, Woodland Park and other towns reaches the threshold to receive federal help, OEM spokeswoman Laura Connolly said.

    The process is complicated, FEMA spokesman Don Caetano said. There is no official number threshold.

    There's a formula used to determine if the feds should step in. The factors include the number of victims and destroyed homes, if the houses have been damaged in the past, and accounting for flood and homeowners insurance, among some aspects, Caetano said.  

    In order for FEMA to help, Murphy needs to request federal assistance, which is granted or denied by the president, Caetano said. No request has officially been put in as of Friday morning, he said. 

    "Every incident is different, so we can't say what's going to happen," he said. 

    Until FEMA is called to assist in an official federal capacity, state emergency management is working with local authorities and partnering with FEMA on the local level to assess the damage and determine how likely assistance is, Connolly said.

    "No one has a timeline right now," Connolly said. "Once the damage assessments are complete, depending on what the threshold is, we'll continue to work with FEMA. But we're still going through the process."

    But those answers have left residents asking more questions: How do they start to rebuild, with a fixed income, and where can they get help?

    "Our insurance companies are shooting us down," one resident shouted at the governor. "Where do we go from here?"

    Murphy urged residents to begin rebuilding and document everything they lost. Those affected by the flooding can also call 211, where they will be connected with volunteers and resources will be made available.

    Those interested in donating or volunteering can register through helpnjnow.org, which the state Office of Emergency Management opens during emergency situations. 

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

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    Following a week a large number of the state's beaches were closed to swimming because of bacteria, beachgoers can now feel free to swim, surf and frolic at all of them.


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    The second of two missing Freehold teenagers was found Friday after a 2-day search by police.

    The second of two missing Freehold teenagers was found Friday after a two day search by police.

    Kayla Destefano, 16, was located by New Brunswick Police Department around 6 p.m., the Freehold Police announced Friday night.

    Her friend, Jocelyn Zaveckas, 15, was located at 8 p.m. Thursday by Rutgers University police. Shortly after finding Zaveckas, police said Friday morning that they believed Destefano was somewhere in the area of New Brunswick.

    The girls were described by police as runaways after they left a home on Jackson Mills Road in Jackson Wednesday night.

    Chris Sheldon may be reached at csheldon@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrisrsheldon Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    British murder of Hannah Caldwell, an almost forgotten story of Revolution

    You can burn down the house, but you can't get rid of the ghosts.

    That seems to be the story at the Caldwell Parsonage in Union Township.

    The question is, whose ghost is it?

    Could it be Hannah Caldwell, presumably shot by a British soldier during the Battle of Connecticut Farms on June 7, 1780?

    Or is it her husband, James Caldwell, the Presbyterian minister considered a dangerous "rabble-rouser" by the British during the American Revolution who was murdered 18 months later?

    This is a story with several ghosts. Those that haunt the Union historic site, and the Ghost of New Jersey History, that nagging ethereal presence the state has long-ignored at the expense of local pride and heritage tourism dollars.

    The Caldwell Parsonage, at 909 Caldwell Ave., is struggling, another victim of New Jersey's neglect of our fascinating history.  

    Like many local historic places, the Caldwell Parsonage gets no state aid, except for grants from the Historic Trust that amount to "a couple of thousand (dollars) a year," said David Arminio, president of the Union Township Historical Society. Their biggest source of income is a rented apartment attached to the back of the main house.

    The large Colonial home is surrounded by modest post-World War II homes built in the early days of suburban sprawl. There is a road sign and a bronze plaque on a boulder telling the story. But visitors are so infrequent the historic society only opens by appointment, except for two Sundays a month in January and February.

    "We never say no," Arminio said. "We open the (parsonage) museum any time somebody wants to come."

    But another good source of income are ghost hunts. Armino said each one puts a few hundred dollars in the museum's accounts.

    John Ruggerio of New Jersey Paranormal has investigated ghosts in the parsonage about 10 times. For the past five years the public has been invited as a fundraiser for the museum. The next one is Oct. 20. 

    "I'm always drawn to the story behind a building," he said. "The story is what drew me (to the Caldwell Parsonage). But we only go to places where we have evidence of paranormal activity. We have to be convinced people have heard noise, or footsteps, or have seen shadows. Otherwise, we would lose credibility."

    PhotoPortrait of James Caldwell, the 'Fighting Parson' 

    Caldwell, North Caldwell and West Caldwell all carry the name of the "Fighting Parson," a Presbyterian minister so hated by the British they burned down two of his churches. The high school in West Caldwell and an elementary school in Springfield are named after him. Hannah Caldwell's name is on an elementary school in Union.

    The Caldwell name is part of New Jersey lexicon, and the story of the Caldwells is one of the most compelling of the Revolution, in terms of the human cost of war. Yet the parsonage is manned and maintained by the small Union Township Historical Society, with very little state aid, and now only open by appointment. (The phone number is 908-687-7977.)

    "I tell everybody the story of James and Hannah Caldwell would make a fantastic movie," Arminio said. "They made 'The Patriot' with Mel Gibson. Well, James Caldwell was more than a patriot, he was an American hero. He and his wife gave their lives for the cause."

    James Caldwell was born in Virginia to parents of Scots-Irish descent, which might explain why he hated the British. Most Presbyterians did, and in the Caldwell Parsonage today are informational posters which explain that overlooked religious aspect of the war.

    "Presbyterian Churches were centers of revolutionary activity," said Barbara La Mort, of the historical society.

    Caldwell graduated from the College of New Jersey, before it became Princeton, and took over the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethtown.

    "Just the people he recruited to fight was a huge factor in the war," said Arminio.

    The 100 Revolutionary War soldiers from the church included Jonathan Dayton, the youngest person to sign the U.S. Constitution, newspaper publisher Shepard Kollock and Stephen Crane, a member of the Continental Congress and the great-great-grandfather of the "Red Badge of Courage" author. Crane was 71 when he was bayoneted by a British soldier.

    Several members of the Ogden family, the founders of Elizabethtown, fought in the war, including Aaron Ogden, who became governor of New Jersey in 1812, and Moses Ogden, who died in the Battle of Connecticut Farms (now Union) at age 20.

    In January of 1780, the British burned down the Elizabeth church and Caldwell's home. Caldwell moved his family four miles west to Connecticut Farms, then joined the army at Jockey Hollow.

    photoPortrait of Hannah Caldwell, killed by a British soldier 

    His wife was there during a British attack five months later and was shot while in a room with her two youngest children and her live-in nanny. The Union County seal depicts the shooting but places her outside the house. After removing her body, they burned it down. The current parsonage was built in 1782.   

    Hannah Caldwell's death and her husband's murder 18 months later by an American sentry, in what appeared to be a British plot, left their nine children orphaned.

    End of story. Enter the ghosts, those wisps of cold air, those thumps in the night, and those guttural moans that raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

    The New Jersey Paranormal team comes with about $10,000 worth of equipment: hypersensitive infrared cameras and digital recorders to pick up sights and sounds not apparent to the naked eye or ear.

    "We have cameras and microphones in every room," Ruggerio said.

    And they have picked up ghostly sounds and movements.

    "We've heard a female voice, which we believe is Hannah," he said. "We've asked specific questions, like, 'Hannah, are you still here?' And she answered, 'Yes.'

    "The cameras have picked up shadowy figures or balls of light," he said. "Spirits are energy, and they give off images."

    Ruggerio got into the ghost business because he is a history buff and his team goes to historic buildings all over the state. Last stop was the Burlington jail.

    The ghosts, Ruggerio said, draw people, who in turn, learn local history.

    "In a perfect world, the history should be enough to draw people," he said. "But you'd be surprised how many people come and say, 'I never knew this was here.' Hopefully, they'll come back again after we're gone." 

    Mark Di Ionno may be reached at mdiionno@njadvancemedia.comFollow him on Twitter @MarkDiIonno. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    The two properties are next to Pier Village in Long Branch.

    Kushner Companies, a real estate company formerly led by President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, continued its buying spree in Long Branch when they purchased two properties earlier this week adjacent to Pier Village, a beachfront mixed-use community that they also own.

    Kushner Cos. bought the properties, which are both single-family homes, for a total of $4.15 million, the Kislak Company, the firm that brokered the off-market sale, announced Thursday.

    The first property, an oceanfront home with a guest house on nearly one-third of an acre, is at 176 Ocean Ave. and sold for $2.7 million. The second property is  at 34 Morris Ave. and sold for $1.45 million, according to a Kislak news release.

    Jason Pucci, the COO of Kislak Company, said in the release that they have done more than 70 deals with Kushner Cos. over the past 30 years, and this most recent deal Kislak assisted with is a "natural fit for Kushner" because the properties are adjacent to Pier Village.

    Long-Branch,-NJ---170,-176-Ocean,-34-Morris-v2.jpg(Courtesy of the Kislak Company)m 

    Kushner Cos. did not immediately respond when asked to comment on the purchases and how they would affect development in Pier Village. 

    In conjunction with Extell Development, Kushner Cos. is developing a $283 million final addition to Pier Village.

    According to the Asbury Park Press, Kushner Cos. is building a six-floor luxury hotel and Extell Development is building the The Lofts at Pier Village, a 245-unit luxury condominium complex for the third phase of the village. A 1,500-square-foot penthouse in the condo building recently sold for $2.75 million, according to Jersey Digs.

    The rest of the beachfront village is made up of apartments, hotels, restaurants and retail stores.

    After once being a major player in the New Jersey real estate market, Kushner Cos. seemingly pulled out of the state a decade ago to focus on New York before a recent uptick in investments again throughout the Garden State.

    In May, the company continued its acquisition spree in Long Branch, buying the Bungalow Hotel, a 24-room boutique hotel designed by HGTV's Cortney and Robert Novogratz, for an undisclosed price.

    According to previous reporting by NJ Advance Media, other Kushner Cos. acquisitions recently include Prospect Place, a 360-unit multi-family rental property in Hackensack -- its fourth New Jersey apartment acquisition since 2012.

    Two of the others are Quail Ridge, a 1,032-unit complex in Plainsboro, and Chatham Hill, a 308-unit garden apartment complex in Chatham Township they purchased in 2015 for $123 million.

    Joe Atmonavage may be reached at jatmonavage@njadvancemedia.comFind NJ.com on Facebook. 


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    Here's a look at police dashboard camera videos in light of the latest state Supreme Court ruling on Monday.


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    This month they rolled out six special wheelchairs that allow people to easily trek over the sand then float in the ocean. Watch video

    Scott Chesney's family traveled down the Jersey Shore for three weeks every summer. One day, however, the 15-year-old woke up and couldn't move. A sudden spinal stroke meant Chesney had to use a wheelchair -- and could no longer swim in the Atlantic.

    Advocates and Asbury Park are looking to change the beach-going experience for Chesney and other people with mobility disabilities. This month they donated six special wheelchairs that allow people to easily trek over the sand then float in the ocean.

    The chairs are just the beginning of a larger initiative to make the town and shore accessible to everyone, including the 5.6 million Americans that are paralyzed to some degree, according to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

    Chesney tried the chair - which has large, yellow wheels and flotation devices - earlier this month.

    "It was the easiest transition to the beach, to the ocean that I have had in 33 years," he said.

    Chesney has gone into the ocean since his stroke, but until now, it always required a lot of help from his friends on his adaptive surfing team.

    Penelope Gnesin can empathize. The 57-year-old Long Branch native takes a photo of the sunrise every morning but she can never get off the boardwalk and onto the beach; her wheelchair would get stuck in the sand. Now that Access Decks -- long mats that don't sink into the sand -- are at several Asbury Park beach entrances, Gnesin, who has multiple sclerosis, no longer has to stay on the boardwalk.

    The Reeve Foundation placed extended mats at the First, Second, Third, Fifth and Sunset Avenue beach entrances, with the floating chairs available at Second and Third, according to the Foundation and Joe Bongiovanni, City of Asbury Park beach safety supervisor.

    Eric LeGrand, an accessibility advocate and former Rutgers football player, thinks this is just the beginning for the town. People with disabilities have immense purchasing power that often goes untapped because restaurant restrooms are too small or stores don't have elevators, he said. More accessible venues mean more economic growth for the up-and-coming town, advocates said.

    The Reeve Foundation mimicked its floating chair initiative after a 2014 Miami Beach project and hopes to make Asbury Park a pilot location that can be duplicated on shore towns across the nation, Anna Chamberlain, marketing and communications supervisor, said.

    The floating chairs can be reserved online  or at Asbury Park ticket booths, Bongiovanni said. Five beach-only wheelchairs are also available.

    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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    Fairness to litigants - not ripping people off with fees and court surcharges and license suspensions - should be the aim of municipal courts. Watch video

    If you've ever spent a few hours in a municipal court emptying your wallet for a trivial violation - maybe a $60 fine for not having a yard sale permit, or $120 for not renewing Fido's license, or $180 for failing to keep your lawn cut, topped off by a $120 fee that nobody can describe or justify - you know it's time to butcher this cash cow.

    If that sounded like hyperbole, be assured that our highest court and our Legislature say otherwise: The municipal court system, which is the last place anyone ever seems to find any justice, is overdue for a makeover.

    It will come in the form of sweeping legislation that will be introduced later this month, most of it fashioned after a meticulous report from a state Supreme Court panel formed by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner that depicts local courts as the civic ATM, which cops and judges use to plug municipal budgets and plunder the poor.

    The committee was asked to reform a broken and corrupt system, and among its 50-plus suggestions were six tasks for the Legislature. One of the bill's authors believes he can check each box, with emphasis on eliminating the profit motive that often perverts the administration of justice.

    "If we want to begin to restore people's justifiably shaken faith in their elected officials," said Sen. Declan O'Scanlon, R-Monmouth, "it's time we act to prevent government from victimizing the people we're all here to serve."

    Cities and towns have always used the courts to generate revenue. New Jersey's 524 municipal courts handle roughly six million cases a year - most of them traffic ordinance violations, small claims cases, and domestic cases - and take in more than $400 million. They keep more than one half, and share the rest with the county and the state.

    That means there is an unquenchable profit motive, and it often borders on cruelty. The system disproportionately punishes the poor with an endless cycle of surcharges, which the local judge is often happy to impose, because he is beholden to the town officials who appointed him. For example, as the report pointed out, the $130 fine for failing to inspect a car can mushroom to $1,500 before long.

    So O'Scanlon's bill will mandate that towns use an "independent" process to assess qualifications for the appointment of municipal judges, rather than leaving it up to town officials. The current system leads to hires such as former Monmouth County judge Richard B. Thompson, who converted 5,000 motor vehicle fines to contempt of court fines without any legal basis.

    That ticket-fixing scheme pleased his overseers: Towns split the revenue from motor vehicle fines with the county, but fines from ordinance violations (such as contempt of court) go exclusively to the municipality, so revenue spiked by $500,000 in the nine towns that occupied Thompson's fiefdom.

    This judge is tired of towns using courts like ATMs | Editorial

    So part of O'Scanlon's bill is to take the money away from municipalities and "collectivize" all fines at the county level, then redistribute them to the towns. "That not only removes the profit incentive from cops and judges, it promotes court consolidation," he said, citing another panel priority.

    He also seeks to extend judicial terms to five years, find alternatives to license suspensions, and cap fines.

    A potential snag is that such a bill could make his colleagues cranky: The Asbury Park Press counted nine members of the Legislature who earn wages through the municipal court system, and some are ranking members of the judiciary committees. More pushback will come from the League of Municipalities, which believes local officials should retain the right to make judicial appointments.

    But the need for reform is irrefutable. As Rabner put it last month, the municipal court is the face of the Judiciary, and it "must adhere to the Judiciary's high standards of integrity." That cannot happen as long as cops and judges consider fundraising a greater priority than the administration of justice.

    Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook.

     

     


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    Consider adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue.

    Petfinder, the for-profit internet company that operates the largest online pet adoption website serving all of North America, put this list together of common adoption myths in the hope that more people will adopt dogs and cats from shelters and rescues.

    "I don't know what I'm getting."

    There is likely more information available on adoptable animals than pets for purchase in pet stores. Many of the pets from rescue groups are in foster care, living with their fosterer 24/7; information on their personality and habits is typically vast. Even shelters have a very good idea about how the dogs and cats in their care behave with people and other animals.

    "I can't find what I want at a shelter."

    Not only are their breed-specific rescue groups, but some rescues and shelters maintain waiting lists for specific breeds. There are even means on Petfinder.com to be notified when certain breeds are posted for adoption.

    "I can get a pet for free from a friend or acquaintance; why pay an adoption fee?"

    The 'free pet' from a source other than a shelter or rescue group isn't necessarily free. Adoption fees usually cover a number of services and treatments including spay/neuter and veterinary checkups. Covering these costs on your own would call for spending the following estimated amounts:

    * Spay/neuter: $150-$300

    * Distemper vaccination: $20-$30, twice

    * Rabies vaccination: $15-$25

    * Heartworm test: $15-$35

    * Flea/tick treatment: $50-$200

    * Microchip: $25-$50

    "Pets are in shelters because they don't make good pets."

    Here are the main reasons animals end up in shelters or with rescue groups:

    * Owners have to move, pets not allowed

    * Allergies

    * Owner having personal problems

    * Too many, no room for littermates

    * Owner can no longer afford a pet

    * Owner's health does not allow for pet care

    While no one can say that every pet adopted from a shelter or rescue will work out perfectly, it's important to remember that misinformation about these homeless animals often keeps them from finding loving homes.

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


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    He was hit near Sunset Avenue around 2:20 a.m.

    A man was struck and killed by a New Jersey Transit train in Asbury Park early Monday, officials said. 

    The man was hit near Sunset Avenue crossing around 2:20 a.m., according to a New Jersey Transit spokesman.

    There were no passengers on board as the train was being moved from Bay Head to Long Branch along the North Jersey Coast Line to get in position for the morning rush.

    The identity of the person was not available.

    Train service is running on or close to schedule on Monday morning. 

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

     

     


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    The 30 strikers to watch entering the 2018 season.


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    At the end of March, he became the first patient to receive a surgery aimed at correcting the impairment after its recent approval by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

    After years of struggling with vision impairment, things are looking up for former Bayonne resident Jack Hogan, who is seeing clearly thanks to a first-of-its-kind surgery.

    Jack's parents, Shawn and Jeanette Hogan, noticed when he was just 2 years old that he had trouble seeing. He would often fall down stairs, bump into walls, and could not see in the dark. Jack was diagnosed with retinis pigmentosa, a condition which impairs the vision of 1 in 4,000 people in the United States, typically leading to blindness.

    Jack, now 14, is one of the first people now beating the odds. At the end of March, he became the first patient to receive a surgery aimed at correcting the impairment after its recent approval by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

    The Hogan family, which now lives in Fair Haven, learned of the surgery in 2010 from Jack's doctor at the time, Eric Pierce, whom they met at a board dinner for the Foundation Fighting Blindness.

    At the time, the surgery was in a clinical trial period. Pierce offered the Hogan family an opportunity to participate in the trials, but the family chose to wait, concerned that Jack was too young at the time.

    Eight years later, the FDA approved the surgery after it was successfully tested on more than 40 people, according to Dr. Jason Comander, the surgeon who performed Jack's surgery. In March of this year, Jack became the first person to undergo the surgery following its approval.

    According to Jack's parents, the surgery has so far been a success.

    "After the first surgery, he just said it was brighter," said Jeanette Hogan. "But shortly after the second surgery, he went back to school from spring break and said he was able to see the white board. He'd never been able to see the whiteboard before in his life."

    The surgeries, performed at Massachusetts Eye and Ear in Boston, took place on March 20 and 29, each eye done on separate days.

    A video published by the hospital explains the process in detail:

    During the surgery Comander removed excess gel and membranes under the whites of Jack's eyes. He then inserted three small drops of medicine called Luxturna under Jack's retina.

    Almost immediately after the second surgery Jack started noticing that his vision had improved and months later he's still able to see clearly. According to Jeanette Hogan, Jack's peripheral vision has improved and he is now able to see at night.

    "We live close to the beach and when it used to get dark he'd go inside the cabana and play a video game or something. But now he can swim at night or play wiffle ball on the beach or play with his friends," said Jeanette. "That's all we wanted was for him to have a normal childhood."

    While the short term results have been positive, the Hogan family and their doctors remain unsure if the surgery will end up being a long-term cure for the condition.

    However a recent check-up at the hospital gave the family confirmation that Jack's vision is still at the level it should be, and the family will continue the routine check-ups, the next one scheduled for October.

    "We take care of all of these patients with inherited retinal diseases and often we don't have enough to offer them," said Comander. "So to see one of my patients getting better is very special."


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    The new office brings permanent DEA officers to Monmouth and Ocean counties.

    The Drug Enforcement Administration's New Jersey Division cemented its presence at the Jersey Shore Monday with the creation of an official office in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

    "The creation of this new office means the permanent assignment of DEA special agents and task force officers," DEA Special Agent in Charge Valerie Nickerson said in a statement announcing the partnership.

    "The office will aim to disrupt the trafficking of narcotics throughout Monmouth and Ocean counties. It will also allow for the increased use of federal resources to combat the current heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkiller epidemic that has taken a toll on the area resulting in an unprecedented number of drug overdose fatalities, Nickerson said.

    Monmouth and Ocean counties has been one of the hardest hit areas of the Garden State when it comes to substance abuse and drug-overdose deaths.

    In 2017, Monmouth County had 151 overdose deaths, a drop from 164 in 2016. Ocean County had 174 drug-related deaths in 2017, a significant dip from the 216 the previous year.

    "When people ask me what's really causing our citizen here in Monmouth to die," Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said at a recent press conference, "it's opioid-related abuse."

    Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said he's "thrilled" with the official partnership.

    "I can't tell you how much we appreciate it," he said in a phone interview on Monday. "What a significant difference it makes."

    Coronato said the relationship with the DEA played a major role in a massive drug bust in March that led to 28 arrests, the seizure of more than 90,000 doses of heroin and 191 pounds of cocaine.

    "That was just the beginning to a tremendous partnership," he said.

    The statement from the DEA credits not only Coronato and Gramiccioni, but also Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-3rd Dist., and Chauncey Parker, the executive director of the NY/NJ High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program.

    The official office will not only bring more manpower to the Shore area but also more federal funding, Coronato said.

    "This gives us access to more tools, so to speak, to really do our jobs," he said. "It's significant." 

    Alex Napoliello may be reached at anapoliello@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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    A Middlesex County dentist was arrested Monday on criminal sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child charges

    A Middlesex County dentist was arrested Monday on charges accusing him of improperly touching three of his female employees, including one who was a minor teen at the time, authorities said. 

    Richard Goldberg, of Marlboro's Morganville neighborhood, was charged with three counts of criminal sexual contact and endangering the welfare of the child, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey announced. 

    Goldberg22x.jpgDr. Richard Goldberg, police photo 

    An investigation by the Monroe Police Department - where he practices - found the 47-year-old dentist improperly touched three female employees, including one who was 17 at the time, at his office on Spotswood Englishtown Road, the prosecutor's office said.

    The sexual misconduct allegedly occurred at his office from July 2016 through this month, officials said. 

    NJ Advance Media was unable to reach Goldberg at his office Monday evening.

    According to his practice's website, Goldberg, who offers a full range of dentistry, from pediatrics to implant work and oral surgery, attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine.

    He did his residency at at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, and was an associate dentist in Brick, South Amboy and Howell before opening his own practice.

    He's scheduled to have his first court appearance in Superior Court in New Brunswick on Sept. 13. 

    The investigation is ongoing, and authorities ask anyone with information to contact Monroe Detective Brian Dziomba at 732-721-0222 ext. 147 or prosecutor's Detective Edmund Morris at 732-745-4194. 

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

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    Brian Holland worked at The Atlantic Club before working at The Asbury hotel

    The person fatally struck by a train in Asbury Park early Monday was Brian Holland, an executive at the city's newest hotel, The Asbury.

    brian-asbury.jpgBrian Holland

    Holland, 37, who lived Asbury Park, was hit near the Sunset Avenue crossing around 2:20 a.m., according to a New Jersey Transit spokesperson.

    The spokesperson said the incident is still under investigation and did not have any further information on it Monday night.

    Holland was the regional director of employee experience at The Asbury, which opened in 2016.

    The Asbury Hotel mourned Holland on it Facebook page Monday evening, saying he will "forever be in our hearts."

    "Brian Holland has been an integral part of our team since prior to the hotel opening and all of our thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time," the post stated. 

    Before working at The Asbury, his obituary said, Holland worked for 15 years at The Atlantic Club, a sprawling fitness club in Wall Township. He was also involved in numerous charitable and community organizations in the area.

    In addition to several family members, Holland is survived by, "innumerable friends in the AP (Asbury Park) Community, who he considered his second family."

    Chris Sheldon may be reached at csheldon@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrisrsheldon Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    As Gov. Murphy mulls a statewide fees for single-use bags, these communities have decided to take matters into their own hands.


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    Looking for a safety school? Want to know your chances of getting into Princeton? Find out how hard it is to get into these New Jersey colleges.


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    Check out the games to keep an eye on at the tail end of the summer.


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    The 34-year-old was driving north on Route 73 when he collided with another vehicle

    Mount Laurel police have identified the person killed in a crash early Sunday as a 34-year-old Monmouth County resident.

    Christopher Pappas, of Howell, died after striking a utility pole along Route 73, authorities said. 

    23-year-old pedestrian struck and killed on Rt. 9 identified

    Pappas' car overturned several times after he collided with a vehicle also headed north on Route 73. He then slammed into the pole, police said.

    Pappas was pronounced dead at the scene. 

    The crash occurred just before midnight Saturday between Church Road and Atrium Way.

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

     

     


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