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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    The places, large and small, we went to hear great music.

    I was on my way to Peddler's Village this past summer and passed the New Hope Winery on Route 202 ... and had a teenage flashback.

    The roadside sign listed all the bands that were appearing that week. A different one each night.

    FountainCasinoroute35northaberdeennj.jpgYou couldn't say "there's nothing to do" when signs like this were everywhere in New Jersey. 

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    Whoa.

    There certainly are places you can go nowadays to see live music. There are venues where bands that have achieved success perform along with groups and individuals trying to get their start. But there was a time when signs like the one I saw in Pennsylvania were everywhere.

    It was truly a golden age for music in New Jersey. Most are familiar with the stories of the beginnings of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, but for every Bruce there were 200 bands playing just as hard and dreaming just as big.

    And we had the opportunity to see them pretty much for free - many of these clubs didn't even have a cover charge. It was a special time for rock and roll in the Garden State.

    Vintage photos of clubs and bands in N.J.

    Vintage photos of clubs and music venues in N.J.

    Vintage photos: Music with a N.J. connection

    If you didn't see your favorite music place in this gallery, you'll likely find it by clicking the links above.

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


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    The list includes three members of the 300-win club and a group with more than 8,500 wins and 1,200 years of coaching experience.


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    There are five new teams in the boys soccer Top 20 this week.


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    David Burke has taken Sea Bright by storm with his newest venture, the Drifthouse.


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    Check out which colleges have the biggest Jersey connections


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    According to its Trulia listing, the taxes on the property in 2017 were $33,473.02.

    In this week's "Sold!" property, we feature a home on 3.8 acres in Colts Neck with 7,710 square feet of living space.

    The house sold for $2,275,000 in Colts Neck. According to its Trulia listing, the taxes on the property in 2017 were $33,473.02.

    The home features 5 bedrooms and 7 full bathrooms. The house was assessed in 2017 at $1,475,100.

    The median sale price for homes in the area is $1,922,500.

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

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

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    An appeals court found there was nothing to support the judge's reason for keeping him behind bars

    A Long Branch man accused of leaving a dog to drown in Sandy Hook Bay this summer was ordered jailed on faulty pretenses, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday.

    The decision overturning Aaron Davis' pre-trial detention remained sealed as of Thursday, but its order overturning a Superior Court judge's ruling indicates the appellate court disagreed with his reasoning.

    Davis, 36, had been held in the Monmouth County jail since August, when he surrendered to the Highlands Police Department.

    Davis faces a fourth-degree charge of animal cruelty for allegedly leaving a 10-month-old pit bull -- since named "River" -- locked in a cage in tidewaters off Veterans Memorial Park in Highlands.

    Superior Court Judge James McGann had cited the genesis of the attempted drowning in a domestic violence incident involving Davis' girlfriend, and the judge's concern Davis posed a threat to her and her children, in ordering Davis remain jailed pending trial, according to court papers.

    New Jersey's criminal justice reforms, which took effect in 2017, all but eliminated cash bail, but left prosecutors with the option to seek continued detention of certain defendants pending trial.

    State law now requires a judge to be satisfied that there are no conditions that will guarantee the defendant's appearance in court and the safety of the public, or prevent them from obstructing "the criminal justice process," before imposing pre-trial detention.

    Davis' attorney, Adamo Ferreira, told NJ Advance Media at the time that Davis' community ties should have factored "more heavily" into the judge's decision, arguing his client was charged only with a fourth-degree offense and did not present a flight risk.

    The appeals court appears to have agreed at least in part.

    While calling the judge's concerns "understandable," Appellate Division Presiding Judge Carmen Alvarez noted Davis' only prior criminal record was a disputed case of simple assault -- a disorderly persons offense rather than a felony indictable charge -- from 2006.

    Nothing in the record supported McGann's concerns of a risk to Davis' girlfriend or her children, "or the concern that he would attempt to obstruct his prosecution," Alvarez wrote. 

    The court ordered McGann to reevaluate the case and impose "appropriate conditions of release."

    Monmouth County jail records show Davis was no longer in custody as of Thursday afternoon.

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at tmoriarty@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriartyFind NJ.com on Facebook

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    Fall is here, but leaves still cling to limbs. So too does our crack with its latest bold predictions


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    From quaint Jersey Shore cottages to a room in a farmhouse, these are the Airbnbs people most want to rent in New Jersey.


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    Who still has an unbeaten streak alive in the state? NJ Advance Media takes a look.


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    The new president of American Youth Football's Jersey Shore Conference is telling parents and coaches to grow up.

    Screenshot.jpgThis still from a videotape shows coaches of the Fords Bearcats team 10U team on the field after a player was ejected from a heated game on Sept. 16.
     

    The incoming president of a Monmouth and Ocean County youth football conference that oversees thousands of players, hundreds of coaches and countless parents issued a stern warning that he will not tolerate the kind of name calling and harassment alleged to have occurred in separate on- and off-the-field incidents over the past three weeks.

    "I have ZERO TOLERANCE for name calling that includes racial slurs, ethnic slurs, religious slurs and/or the use of profanity and behavior by those who are supposed to be adults and examples for the youth participants," wrote Dean Pinto, the new president of American Youth Football's Jersey Shore Conference, in an email to coaches and officials this week.

    "The players are told they cannot do it on the field by the game officials, and thus the adults should be held 'extra accountable' by our league reps, presidents and your board members," wrote Pinto, a law enforcement official who had been the conference's first vice president. "If they are incapable, then the league will step in where practicable and take necessary action. While I certainly cannot parent every child, I can demand that every parent not act like a child!" 

    The former president, Lou Montanaro, who resigned Sunday, did not respond to requests for comment. But Pinto said the recent incidents had nothing to do with Montanaro's decision.

    For example, Pinto told NJ Advance Media that Montanaro informed him of his resignation on Sept. 16, before the second alleged incident occurred. That incident stemmed from an unusually heated game between teams from Manalapan and Fords. After the game, Fords supporters complained that their counterparts from Manalapan used the N-word.

    Father: Issue should've been 'handled as adults'

    Regarding the first incident, Pinto said that despite controversy and media attention surrounding a profanity-laced voicemail message left by one of the league's former coaches, ex-New Jersey high school standout and NFL player Charlie Rogers, the incident did not contribute to Montanaro's decision to step down.

    For instance, Pinto said, the hearing process went smoothly, and Montanaro's decision to suspend Rogers was not challenged.

    What did contribute to Montanaro's decision to step down, Pinto said, was an increasingly demanding workload from holding two AYF positions simultaneously.

    In addition to acting as the Jersey Shore president, Pinto said Montanaro had also been heading the AYF's entire Big East Region, a position he will retain.

    "It just got to be be where the workload was too much," Pinto said, adding that running a youth sports program was "a thankless job," with parents that are increasingly vocal and coaches that are under ever-higher pressure to please them.

    "For every thank you you get," he said. "You're going to get 150 complaints."

    In the more recent incident, a game on Sept. 16 between rival teams of 10-year-olds from Manalapan and Fords, word spread social media that supporters of the mostly white Manalapan Braves had used the N-word against players on the mostly black Fords Bearcats.

    The president of the local Fords American Youth Football association, Corrinne Smith, told NJ Advance Media that during the Sunday afternoon game at Fords' Pinter Field, she watched as two Bearcats players came off the field in tears.

    Smith said she then heard one of the players tell his mom that the mother of a Braves player on the opposite side of the field had hollered a string of insults at him, disparaging his weight, his skin color and his character, though the woman did not use the N-word at that point.

    "These kids ran off the field crying," Smith said of the two players.

    It was later in the game, Smith said, that a Fords volunteer approached her to say he had heard the same Manalapan parent use the N-word in reference to the behavior of the Fords team while she spoke to another adult in a smoking area outside a gate leading to the field area.

    Smith said she told the president of Manalapan's local association, Dan Grzejka, what had happened, and that Grzejka assured her he would look into it.

    Grzejka told NJ Advance Media that said he himself had not heard the N-word used, and that he found nothing to substantiate the allegation when reviewing the game tape and interviews with several people who were present, including two black Manalapan coaches and the mother of one of Manalapan's two black players.

    The woman was never positively identified and questioned about the allegation, however, and Pinto said no action was taken.

    "Nobody every heard it," Pinto said.

    On Friday, Smith said she considered the incident moot. 

    "We are just trying to move forward," she said.

    In the earlier incident involving Rogers, the stepfather of an 11-year-old player from an East Brunswick team with an upcoming game against Matawan released a profanity-laced voice mail message left by Rogers on Aug. 25, promising to blitz the boy until he was forced out of the game.

    The stepfather was a former official of the Matawan AYF association who had pulled the boy out of that program and placed him in East Brunswick's program.

    NJ Advance Media obtained a copy of the voicemail allegedly left by Rogers, which can be heard below.

    Rogers was fired from an assistant coaching job at St. John Vianny High School in Holmdel soon after the incident became public. Then, following a hearing earlier this month, Rogers received an indefinite suspension from American Youth Football coaching ordered by Montanaro.

    Presiding over the Rogers matter was among Montanaro's final official duties as the Jersey Shore Conference president, which he led for 26 years.

    Rogers later said he was angered by the stepfather, Chris Schuster, for failing to tell him, or Matawan AYF board members, he was pulling his son from the program because of a lack of playing time. And Rogers said he only left the message after Schuster had hung up on him amidst a heated phone conversation just before then, assertions Schuster denied.

    In the Fords matter, tensions rose even before the start of the game, which ended with a 20-6 win by the 4-0 Bearcats, and dropped Manalapan to 2-2, according to Pinto and Grzejka. Things began simmering with a pregame controversy involving a physically-imposing Fords player whose eligibility was questioned by Manalapan officials, though he was eventually allowed to play.

    During the game, following what Grzejka said was questionable officiating, a heated exchange broke out between the referees and Fords coaches who can be seen on a videotape of the game rushing onto the field following the ejection of one of their players.

    Apart from the N-word accusation against Manalapan, charges of name-calling were also leveled at Fords, with the mother of a black player for Manalapan accusing opponents of taunting her son with a slur, according to Grzejka and the boy's mother, who asked that her son's identity not be revealed.

    Referring to all of Sunday's alleged name-calling, Grzejka said he was, "saddened that any child would have to experience an experience like this."

    NOTE: This story was updated to reflect comments by the president of the Fords American Youth Football association, Corrinne Smith.

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

     

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    Spring Lake Heights Borough Councilman Robert Merriken vowed to contest charges stemming from an arrest in Brielle. Watch video

    Spring Lake Heights Borough Councilman Robert Merriken said Friday he felt vindicated by the dismissal of drug paraphernalia charges in Neptune, and he vowed to contest similar charges still pending against him following a separate arrest in Brielle.

    "I don't do drugs, I never have, never will, and none of that stuff was true," Merriken told NJ Advance Media in an interview Friday. Asked whether he felt vindicated by the dismissal, Merriken said, "Of course. I wasn't guilty."

    A charge of possession of drug paraphernalia was dismissed against Merriken in Neptune Township Municipal Court on Thursday, said Tina Mitchell, the deputy court administrator.

    The municipal prosecutor, James Butler, said Friday that he decided to drop the charge despite Merriken's having consented to a search because Neptune City Police officers lacked sufficient cause to search his SUV, other than a 'hunch" that there might be something illegal inside when they pulled him over on April 4 for failing to signal a turn.

    "There was no odor of marijuana, there was nothing," Butler said.

    Municipal Court Judge Robin T. Wernick accepted Butler's assertion and dismissed the paraphernalia charge against Merriken.

    Butler said it was Merriken's lawyer, Charles Shaw, a former Neptune prosecutor, who had raised the probable cause issue, though Butler said he came to his own conclusion after reviewing the law and the facts of the case.

    "My job as the municipal prosecutor is to do what is right," Butler said.

    Shaw did not respond to requests for comment.

    The dismissal was previously reported by the Asbury Park Press.

    The April arrest brought on more than legal trouble for Merriken, whose personal life was wracked at the time by his late wife's battle with cancer. Fellow Republicans on the Spring Lake Heights Borough Council voted 4-1 in May to censure Merriken and call on him to step down in order to "repair the damage done to our community and restore faith in the leadership of Spring Lake Heights."

    Merriken also failed to win the Republican party's nomination for his council seat in the June GOP primary, and his term will expire Dec. 31.

    Council President Chris Campion and council members Rich Diver, Joe Tompey and Jim Shuler voted in favor of the resolution, while Sara King voted no. Following Merriken's August arrest, Campion reiterated the demand that he resign, calling him, "an embarrassment to himself and the Borough of Spring Lake Heights.

    While Merriken has missed several council meetings this spring and summer, he nonetheless has refused to step down.

    During the search in Neptune, police said they found a syringe containing unspecified drug residue, and arrested Merriken and a passenger, Cherice Hernandez, 39, who later pleaded guilty to drug paraphernalia charges. On a police dashboard videotape of the stop, Merriken and Hernandez can be heard off-screen debating which of them had left the syringe in the SUV.

    Neptune Police Chief James Hunt did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

    Merriken did not contest that he made an illegal turn, and he pleaded guilty to a moving violation Thursday and paid a fine, Butler said.

    The still-pending charges against Merriken stemming from his Aug. 8 arrest in Brielle include possession of a controlled dangerous substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. That case is in Superior Court in Monmouth County, where a hearing is scheduled for Oct. 11.

    Merriken said he was pulled over by borough police for having a lapsed inspection sticker on his vehicle. A press release by the Brielle Police Department did not specify what type of drug was found in the vehicle 

    Merriken said officers did find a syringe, but that it was empty and unused, and had been left over from his treatment related to his wife's bout with cancer earlier this year. His wife, former Spring Lake Heights Emergency Management Coordinator Rita Murphy, died on May 24.

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

     

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    Top-ranked public school in the NJ.com Top 20 got shocked at home.


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    The first Manasquan Intercoastal Tug between the boroughs of Manasquan and Point Pleasant Beach is scheduled for Oct. 20


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    School kids and senior living residents come together. Watch video

    The oldest was 96 and the youngest was 2. 

    At YingHua International School in Kingston Friday, students joined residents of six different Brandywine Living facilities to form a human peace symbol marking the United Nations' International Day of Peace.

    The effort was the brainchild of Brandywine's Stephanie Gaber, whose job title is escapades producer.

    "We've done an Arbor Day program with this school before and it turned out really well and this program just strengthened our relationship even better," Gaber said.

    The residents were bused in from six different Brandywine locations, including facilities in Ocean, Monmouth and Somerset counties.

    Expo preview

    After the peace symbol, the students and residents renewed their friendships, exchanging greetings and hugs and posed for pictures. Some of the students presented their older friends with artwork.

    Franklin Park Fire District 2 supplied a ladder truck for an aerial view and the Kingston Fire Department closed the road for everyone's safety during the event.

    Michael Mancuso may be reached at mmancuso@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @michaelmancuso


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    These towns, many in Ocean, Monmouth, Bergen and Cape May counties, have the lowest equalized tax rates in New Jersey.


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    The event comes days after NJ Advance Media's report of 47 dogs dying during or shortly after groomings at PetSmart, and families struggling to understand why.

    The nation's leading pet retailer is allowing customers to tour its grooming salons Sunday as part of a package of changes it's making to reassure customers that its dog groomings are safe.

    PetSmart announced the open houses in February amid an NJ Advance Media investigation that documented dozens of cases of dogs dying during or shortly after groomings.

    The investigation, published Thursday, found the company has offered owners payments, sometimes for as little as few hundred dollars, in exchange for non-disclosure agreements. It also detailed allegations of inadequate groomer training and intense pressure to grow profits.

    Read the full investigation, "Groomed, then Gone"

    PetSmart -- which operates more than 1,600 stores in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico -- fiercely defends its safety record and has not admitted wrongdoing in any of the cases.

    "As a company of pet lovers who are dedicated to the health and happiness of all pets, we empathize with these grieving families," it said in a statement Thursday. "Nevertheless, we are not aware of any evidence suggesting that PetSmart services caused the deaths of these pets."

    During the course of the investigation, the company announced it would improve dog screenings before groomings, install cameras in grooming areas and review its training procedures.

    PetSmart also announced the tours, which it said would allow "pet parents to meet their local groomers, discuss their pet's specific needs, tour their local salon and have all their questions answer." The tours will run from 10 a.m. to noon in all of its stores.  

    "We maintain the highest standards in the industry, but by no means are we perfect," the company said in its statement. "That's why we're always exploring enhancements to those standards."

    Prompted by the December death of Scruffles, an English bulldog groomed at a PetSmart in Flemington, tens of thousands of people have taken to social media, and customers have shared stories of injuries or deaths.

    The movement provided the impetus for the NJ Advance Media investigation, which documented 47 cases across 14 states since 2008 in which families claim they took their dog for a grooming only to have it die during or shortly afterwards.

    That number, however, is hardly a definitive accounting of deaths.

    No state currently requires all individual groomers to be licensed, so there's no enforced standard training, a lack of transparency of safety records and little public accounting when things go wrong. As a result, there's no way to know how many dogs die after any grooming.

    Read the full investigation, "Groomed, then Gone"

    When deaths do occur, it's rarely clear what happened.

    Some pets could have unknown medical conditions that put them at risk, or they could die of natural causes, old age or other reasons out of the groomer's control. Though PetSmart did not address specific cases in its statement, it said it considered those issues to be important factors in many of the deaths identified in NJ Advance Media's investigation.

    Even when a necropsy -- the animal equivalent of a human autopsy -- is conducted, it is often inconclusive and speculative. Cases are hard to prove and, since pets are usually legally considered property, there's little financial incentive for owners or lawyers.

    When cases do go to court, they often settle and result in confidentiality agreements. In several instances, the company has offered out-of-court payments to pet owners -- especially those who have been outspoken on social media -- in return for signing non-disclosure agreements.

    According to a copy of a three-page PetSmart non-disclosure agreement obtained by NJ Advance Media, signatories are forbidden from revealing anything about an incident, the payment received or even the existence of the agreement.

    In addition, the agreement also says those who sign are prohibited from discussing their experiences on social media.

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

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

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    The median N.J. teacher salary in the top district is more than $100,000.


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    Dogs and cats all over New Jersey await adoption.

    Canines and their owners are invited to Roosevelt Park in Edison on Oct. 7 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the fourth annual DogFest New Jersey benefiting Canine Companions for Independence.

    dogfest.jpgDogFest New Jersey takes place on Oct. 7 at Roosevelt Park in Edison. 

    DogsFest will include speakers, dog demonstrations, music, food and more. The annual event raises funds for Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit provider of trained assistance dogs with six regional training centers across the country.

    Established in 1975, Canine Companions provides "highly trained assistance dogs to children and adults with disabilities and is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs, and quality and longevity of the matches it makes between dogs and people." There is no charge for the dog, its training and on-going follow-up services. For more information, visit cci.org or call 1-800-572-2275.

    Individuals who raise at least $250 will receive a special DogFest gift. Information on DogFest New Jersey and fundraising for Canine Companions is available by going to support.cci.org/site/TR?fr_id=1610&pg=entry.

    Roosevelt Park is located on Roosevelt Drive.

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


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    Another Top 5 teams falls. One team drops out of the rankings. Another makes its debut.


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