Monday, March 31, 2008

Upcoming close-ups in The Courier

I am currently arranging for two interviews, one with 12th District Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon, who has sponbsored A-2585, the bill that would, if adopted, prevent legislators from entering into contrcts with public entities in their districts; and with Jim Grenafege, the Middletown Democratic candidate for Township Committee this year.

Look for upcoming interviews with both.

My take: Lonegan is off base about housing issue

Conservative pundit Steve Lonegan is a bright columnist with something to say. I disagree, however, with his take on affordable housing and Middletown. The township is quickly becoming a gated community, and has the worst record in the state for sending out RCAs. The worst of anything isn't very good at all.

To see Lonegan's column, click on the headline and go to the Politicker.

Walsh, Grenafege nominated by MT Dems to run in Nov.

Caption: Middletown Board of Education member Patricia A. Walsh has been selected, along with township resident Jim Grenafege, by the Middletown Democratic Executive Committee to run for two open seats on the Township Committee in November.


For Immediate Publication

March 31, 2008

POC: Joe Caliendo
Chairman, Middletown Democrats
8 Daniel Drive, Middletown, NJ 07748


MIDDLETOWN TOWNSHIP (MONMOUTH COUNTY, NJ) — The Middletown Democratic Executive Committee has selected township residents Patricia A. Walsh and James Grenafege for the party’s nomination for Township Committee this year.

The executive committee made its choice on Thursday, March 27 at the American Legion, in Leonardo.

“I am so please to be able to represent my party this year in the race for Township Committee during the General Election,” Walsh said. “But I am far more eager to represent my friends and neighbors on the Middletown Committee for the next three years following the election.”

Walsh is currently a member of the school board, and has served on that body for the past 12 years. This service has garnered her as the most veteran elected official in Middletown currently. “It has always been my opinion that an elected official should not serve on two bodies. Consequently, I will resign from the school board should I be elected in November by Middletown’s electorate.”

Grenafege said, “I am very pleased and proud to be selected by the Democratic Party in Middletown to represent them in the General Election. I look forward to the process and will be working to victory in November.”

Walsh is a long-time resident of the township. Walsh’s professional experience is in printing and publishing. Meanwhile, Grenafege is a professional consultant.

Walsh earned her bachelor’s degree at Carnegie-Mellon University, in Pa., and Grenafege earned his master’s degree at Montclair State University, in Montclair.

“Mrs. Walsh and Mr. Grenafege are both dedicated to our community in Middletown. They are true public servants and have the interests of the town at heart,” Middletown Democratic Chairman Joseph Caliendo said. “I know these two will make sure that things start getting run above board in this township. It’s the right time and these are the right people for Middletown.”

According to Caliendo, he said the Middletown Democratic Party would not field a candidate that would endorse, seek or advocate an increase in the Municipal Operating Budget. “It’s time for Middletown to see some tax relief, and the Democratic Party is the body that is going to do that after November when there is a Democratic majority on the Middletown governing body again,” Caliendo said.

Obama has lead on Clinton: Gallup

According to the APP, a Gallup poll has Sen. Obama with an edge on Sen. Clinton, by 10 percent. Reportedly, both trail GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain in a General Election match-up.

From a Democratic point of view, it's probably time to call the ball on this thing and put the Primary to bed, before there's not much of a General Election to have.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

What is Convergence Theory? Why is it important in news?

There are various interpretations of convergence theory in newspapers, and change travels at various rates. However, there are some accepted facts, which include: 1. Printed newspapers are not forever; and 2. The Internet is going to be the chief facilitator and conduit of news in the future (arguments range about how far into the future).

Convergence is about synergy, such as the synergy between printed editions and Web sites, or the features of the sites (e.g. blogs and digital video) with the Web site itseld. It takes a team of journalists and Web news people that understand the totality of this undertaking to effectively bring any operation into compliance with convergence theory.

Having pod casting, blogs or digital video alone does not constitute a strong Online operation. There has to be continuity between the various operations, in such a way that the news organization represented (insert name) is present in a constant manner.

Today, blogs are scattered throughout the Web, and there seems to be a blog for every day of the week. When a news operation is doing blogging well, then the blogs will feed traffic to the main site in a predictable way, because its format will be regulated after experimentation.

In its way, YouTube has also opened the door on the digital market wide open, in a random method that has piqued interest without formulating an effective model for news. But how does digital video get used in the most productive way? And what format will that be in?

So who does convergence well? Very few organizations. But it is through the use of multiple media (print, Online, Online video, Online audio) that a distinct, cogent new media will finally take its place – digital media. Not just the hardware and software of digital media, but digital media where the newspeople involved actually know what they are doing with it.

Right now, organizations like large dailies and some Online news sites are starting to understand the scope of what is editorially needed, but sometimes fail to understand that the printed medium is just another medium. Print is also the least durable, least circulated of any of the media that a newspaper with a Web site and various Web products has.

Understanding what works and what direction to travel in is something that occurs after the Online resources are in place. Convergence is not constituted simply by having Online assets, in my opinion.

If I have two cars sitting in the driveway, and one of the two people in a residence doesn't know how to drive, I may have two cars but the reality is that this statement hasn't found its way into reality yet. There is a car left unused in a driveway. So why have it in the first place?

Using these tools now in the future, in an effective way that will bring predictable results, is the mission of newspapers into the today and tomorrow. The Online tools being introduced these days are just beginning to render results that are predictable, and it is only in creating predictable conditions and obtaining predictable results that business and commerce, in any industry, can be transacted.

Melli treats Bush's Freehold visit

Blue Jersey's Juan Melli tlks about President Bush's latest trip to the Garden State. Click on the headline and go there.

Caption: Ristorante Arno has nothing to do with either George Bush or Juan Melli. It's a really great Old World kind of restaurant in Mid-Town, about a block from the Nederlander Theatre. It was great. A bit pricey, but deservedly so. Just thought I'd throw that in there.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Rent scores with audiences as it ebbs toward closing

Jonathan Larson's production of Rent is a victory, and Tamyra Gray's portrayal of "Mimi" is one to catch.

The production is set to conclude on Sept. 7, and that gives an untold number of audiences a chance to see this rendition of Rent before it goes away.

Declan Bennett plays the role of "Roger Davis" opposite Gray, but it's Gray's "Mimi" that steals the show, courtesy of the routines of Owen Johnson II. Specifically, Gray shines in "Light My Candle" and "Out Tonight."

Of course, Justin Johnson's "Angel Schunard" was also a show stopper, especially in "Today 4U."

The show moves around "Mark Cohen," portrayed by Adam Kantor, and "Roger Davis." The two live in an apartment owned by their former roommate, "Benjamin Coffin," portrayed by Rodney Hicks. "Coffin" is trying to appropriate the lot next door to the apartment building because he wants to build a high-tech studio. He actually plans to clear out the homeless, including "Mark" and "Roger," as well as everyone else calling the apartment building home.

The show doesn't have a weak moment, and is one of the great American musicals. The cast was energetic and the music, conducted by David Truskinoff (who also performs on keyboards) was superb.

A convenient aspect of the Nederlander Theatre is that there is a parking garage right next door, which is never to be under-rated in dealing with trips to the city.

For more information about Rent, click on the headline.

Rent will be extended until September this year

I'm going to see Rent at the Nederlander Theatre, located at 200 W. 41st Street in Manhattan. This is my first time seeing Rent on Broadway, and no doubt my last since the show is closing on Sept. 7th this year.

There are a few great musicals that come along every now and again, and this is one of them. There is a difference between seeing a movie, reading a book, and going to Broadway.

The American tradition of theater really begins along Broadway and deserves support. For information about Rent, go to the show's Web site by clicking on the headline.

Friday, March 28, 2008

O'Scanlon tries to take a bite out of corruption

Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon, R-12th District, has crafted a bill that would, if adopted by the Legislature, eliminate potential conflicts of interest for state lawmakers. The measure would prevent legislators from entering into contracts with public entities in their district.

According to a March 27 press release, it reports that O'Scanlon introduced the legislation already.

"While having people with experience in running their own businesses is an asset to the Legislature, we must make sure that these officials are not using their legislative positions for personal gain and are not allowing the operation of their business to conflict with their legislative duties," O'Scanlon said.

O'Scanlon's bill, A-2585, supplements New Jersey's conflict of itnerest law to prohibit members of the Legislature from entering into contracts to provide goods or services to, or perform any employment for, any municipal, county or state public entity located within their legislative districts.

The prohibition would apply to any corporation or partnership controlled by the legislator, and also any business in which the memberowns or controls more than one percent of stock.

O'Scanlon said, "As someone who operates his own business, I understand the importance of avoidinig these potential conflicts and have voluntarily imposed this standard on my own business activities. This bill would ensure that this standard is mandatory for all legislators.

For additional information, contact O'Scalon at (732) 933-1591

My Opinion: Great job, Assemblyman O'Scanlon! This is exactly the kind of legislation that New Jersey needs. This is the kind of law that would help stem corruption in New Jersey, which virtually assures it won't go anywhere. Nevertheless, Assemblyman O'Scanlon trying should mean a great deal to those he represents.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spitzer: What is there to say?

The NY Post has a story that digs the hole even deeper for former "Love Gov" Eliot Spitzer. What was in his mind? I will bet it had nothing to do with providing real tax relief and governmental reform to the electorate in The Empire State.

It's a new allegation about the same old problem for Mr. Spitzer. The ones to have sympathy for are Mrs. Spitzer and the Spitzer children. This wasn't fair for them. As for him, well...disappointment doesn't begin to say it. He did manage to live up (or more apty down) to the worst notions of what can happen with politicians.

Click on the headline and go to the NY Post story.

H&R Block salvages the 'Tax Slaughter of '08'

I just endured the annual pillaging at the hands of the Federal and State governments, respectively. Painful? Yes. It hurt. Perhaps dentistry without sedation might have been worse, but not by a lot.

The IRS gets the butt of the jokes and the scolding by taxpayers, but aren't they just collecting the money that is exacted from taxpayers by the no-accounts that are dignified by the term "elected office holders"?

Here it is, fresh from the slaughter of my 1040: This country, this state, this county and these municipalities are drunk on tax money poured into the never-ending abyss that is the public trough.

Far from adhering to the always promised campaign vow of "least government is best government," elected office holders use that phrase as a punchline to the joke that government fiscal responsibility has become.

I am fed up with every country's problems somehow being translated into the fiscal responsibility of Americans; or how the idiot relatives of elected officials and politicos are somehow essential to the operation of government; or how top-of-the-line SUVs are so necessary over simple sedans for public officials; and the salaries...the salaries!

The bright spot in today did happen, thanks to the skill of a great H&R Block senior tax advisor, Howard E. Stelzner, who did an absolutely incredible and patient job on my taxes at the H&R Block, Barclay Square, 3338 Route 9, in Freehold. He applied badly needed expertise to what can be a daunting annual pain in the (neck).

Mr. Stelzner, a retired eye doctor, also works out of the H&R Block office at 1165 Highway 35, in Middletown. He had a great manner, offered insight and a lot of knowledge and did an outstanding job. Without doubt, this is a great stop. If anyone is interested in tax preparation at this point, he can be reached at (732) 671-9314. And no, the guy isn't a client and neither is H&R Block. It was just a job well done.

Click on the headline to go to H&R Block's Web site.

Politicker has good convention story

Max Pizarro from the Politicker was at the GOP convention last night and has turned in a story about it on that site.

In the story, he said, "Burry was blunt in describing where the campaign's focus would be over the coming months. 'We're really running against (Gov. Jon) Corzine,' she said."

With respect to Freeholder Director Burry, I do not believe the GOP candidates are just running against the governor. There is a pattern of superfluous patronage and partisanship that is unacceptable (e.g. Malcolm Carton and John Tobia, among others) in Monmouth County, operating within the Monmouth County Republican Party and many of its candidates and office holders.

This patronage is costing this county money in high hourly rates and talent, in that unqualified and over-priced partisan appointments are the way things still happen in the county seat. What arm of the GOP someone operates within, and who is related to what GOP officer, is sometimes THE key factor in any county employment.

Yes, financially, this board did the right thing this year with the tax rate by not raising taxes -- now let's talk about cutting them. But a fundamental change to the approach of this government is necessary for Republicans to be the best choice for service on this board this year.

If anyone is able to say, 'That was then and this is now,' the idea that these kinds of appointments to office (or selection of firms) will continue to go on would be unacceptable to many, myself included. Personally, I am very interested to hear about how this isn't going to go on anymore, even if errors of the past cannot be dealt with (e.g. the money already wasted on partisan professionals).

Republican office holders may want to be nice, but they should do it with their own money and not the taxpayers'. I am sure there will be a position about this: I know I'll be asking the questions. I can only hope they are answered.

Click on the headline to go to The Politicker.

Believe it or not: Economic projections for '08 worse than '07

The AP has some not great news about economic projects for 2008. Long story short: It's more of the same with maybe a little worse sprinkled in. Here's a thought: Let's start worry about the U.S. economy and not try to underwrite the worlds' economy. I've never been a fan of the U.S. writing checks to other countries 'just cause.' Click on the headlines and go there.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Curley wins GOP place on freeholder ballot!

It has been reported by a very credible source that Red Bank Councilman John Curley has won the Republican nomination for Monmouth County freeholder.

Councilman Curley will join Freeholder Director Lillian Burry on the ballot against Democrats Glenn Mason and Amy Mallet.
Congratulations to Councilman Curley.

Best wishes should also be extended to Holmdel Mayor Serena DiMaso.
For the record, I thought it would not happen; could not happen. And, I was dead wrong.

The idea of thrift has left public buildings

OPINION: There is a great deal of noise happening in town halls and county seats around New Jersey, since so much municipal aid has been shaved from the budgets of governing bodies. Programs are being cut left and right, and there is confusion about the future.

Yet, why should there be? The bill is simply coming due.

Luxurious government was never the intention of those who established this country, and yet that is what it has become in this state and many others. If the Continental Congress operated in the way that our legislative, county and municipal bodies do so today, there could never have been a United States.

Immediately upon deciding about independence, modern-day lawmakers would then have attended to their most pressing concerns: Developing the real-estate potential of major corridors (and finding creative ways to get a cut of it); immediately establishing offices whereby their relatives and supporters could obtain patronage positions; and then lobby private companies for paid appointments on various boards.

Administration officials appointed would immediately require new buggys and horses for their personal use, and new town halls and buildings, a cultural center for every town would need to be erected and many government-funded festivals would be thrown.

The military would be neglected in pay, if not equipment. Infrastructure would go unnoticed if it did not directly benefit friendly developers and pet politicians. In short, there would be no United States. America would be a colony and our revolution would have been a bad joke to the English.

How that relates to today is that government needs to remember itself -- it's core mission, and why it is here.

Institutions like the Adult School, in Union Beach, are closing. But, the patronage jobs of so many politicians and their friends and families, in this county, state and in every town, still go on unabated. The message could not have been spoken clear enough by the voters: Tax relief!

Government needs to becoming smaller, and have less by way of luxuries. They need to count staples and paper clips. They need to deal with pay reductions and not pay raises. Elected offices in and of themselves should be without pay. Only someone who has been successful in their own financial life has any business whatsoever aspiring to public office.

Some critics have told me this will not bring the class of people needed to run government, and yet I disagree. Right now with all of these perks and benefits, our lawmakers are often unaccomplished partisan hacks who are in government to make a fast buck peddling influence.

There are exception, great exceptions on both sides of the aisle. I could spend all day saying the names of the great office holders it has been my pleasure to know, though it would take several days for me to name every spendthrift no-account I have seen take an oath of office.

If government is making do with less, that is not bad overall. What is bad is that the things that need cutting -- all of the fluff -- seem to be the priority in this state, in this county and in these towns.

Government needs to know that the party (political or otherwise) being thrown on tax money is over. So it's time for them to gather their coats and ties and get back to work as if it were a job again.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008



The coalition of state and national organizations working to preserve the former
Bell Labs site in Holmdel, NJ will announce a major initiative to help advance efforts
regarding the preservation and sympathetic and sustainable reuse of the internationally
significant landmark.

The coalition, consisting of the NJ Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA-NJ), Preservation New Jersey, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Recent Past Preservation Network, The Cultural Landscape Foundation, New Jersey Conservation Foundation and DOCOMOMO-US (the acronym stands for the “documentation and conservation” of the “modern movement”) and DOCOMOMONY/NJ Tristate will make its announcement on Wednesday, March 26, 2008 at 10:00 a.m. on the public open space at the intersection of Crawford’s Corner Rd. and Seven Oaks Dr., Holmdel, NJ, a site directly opposite the entrance to the Holmdel Bell Labs property.

The Eero Saarinen-designed building and Sasaski-designed landscape at the Bell Labs site have been deemed eligible for inclusion in the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. Shuttered by current owner Alcatel-Lucent in July 2007 and listed for sale, the site now requires innovative design proposals for significant renovation and restoration if this landmark in the history of planning, architecture, landscape architecture and technology is to find the new commercial uses that will allow for its preservation.

Scheduled to participate in the announcement on March 26 will be Clinton J. Andrews, Director, Urban Planning and Policy Development Program, Edward J.Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University; Seth Leeb, AIA, President, AIA-NJ; Michael Calafati, AIA, Chair of AIA-NJ’s Historic Resources Committee; Ron Emrich, Executive Director, Preservation New Jersey; Theodore H.M. Prudon, PhD, FAIA, founding president, DOCOMOMO-US; and architect Jay Wentz, Holmdel resident.

Directions and parking information will be available on the Preservation NJ
website on Tues., March 25, 2008 or by calling 609-392-6409. For more information, click on the headline.

What's the difference between Republicans and Democrats?

I found a really good link discussing the psychology of political party affiliation that may be interesting to those involved in that game. Is there a fundamental difference in the kinds of people who become Democrats and Republicans? Maybe.

Click on the headline for more information.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Earle to join county’s gypsy moth spray program

March 24, 2008

Areas along Routes 34, 18 targeted for aerial combat

FREEHOLD – Naval Weapons Station Earle (NWS Earle) and Monmouth County have joined forces to combat the destructive gypsy moth caterpillars.

Capt. Gary Maynard, USN, NWS Earle’s commanding officer, and Monmouth County Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry have announced a partnership agreement today incorporating 607 acres of the weapons station into the county-wide aerial gypsy moth spraying program for 2008. The agreement enhances NWS Earle’s already-aggressive ground spraying program to control these pests and compliments the county-wide plan to eradicate them.

The agreement stems from a recent meeting regarding the county’s desire to conduct aerial spraying of select areas of the station. The areas to be treated are along both sides of the Route 34 corridor, bisecting the federal installation, and along its northern fence line bordering Route 18. The treatment will extend 500 feet into the station.

Tentative county plans are to treat these areas in late May when the caterpillars are active.

Capt. Maynard says, “This project is the latest of many partnerships we have with our neighboring communities. I’m sure the Navy’s participation will assist Monmouth County in attaining its gypsy moth control and eradication goals.”

“We are very pleased to welcome Naval Weapons Station Earle into the county’s aerial gypsy moth spray program,” Freeholder Burry said. “The weapons station is located entirely in Monmouth County and, therefore, is makes perfect sense to include in our aerial spray program those areas that are hardest hit to help limit the defoliation that is occurring there.”

NWS Earle has been partnered with Monmouth County’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program since 1999, the Mosquito Control Commission since 2001 and has many long-standing mutual aid agreements for emergency services with county towns. As part of the new partnership agreement, NWS Earle will spend $20,000 on the treatment to be applied to Navy property this year.

Monmouth County uses Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a bacterium, in its spraying program. The county and Navy hope to use Bt to create bands that disrupt the migration of gypsy moths through Monmouth County. Annual surveys of gypsy moth egg masses indicate a migration through the county on a roughly southwest to northeast path. NWS Earle’s area of highest egg mass concentrations is located west of Route 34.

U.S. Navy and county officials are optimistic that the station’s ground spraying treatment, augmented with the county’s aerial spraying, can restore some of the defoliation seen at NWS Earle.

Gypsy moth infestation is cyclical. Monmouth County resumed aerial spraying of Bt in 2006. This year, a total of 7,815 acres of Monmouth County woodlands will be sprayed. The state will spray 2,766 acres, and the county will spray 5,049 acres, including NWS Earle.

Spraying is expected to begin in May, when the caterpillars become active, and will last two to three weeks. Additional information on gypsy moths and the county’s aerial spray program can be found at

New Yorker prints fine obituary for newspaper journalism

The New Yorker's Eric Alterman has penned a fine obituary for the print world this week.

It is no secret that the Web is fast becoming a lifeboat for long-established newspapers, as they transition to other mediums. Will there ever be a time when print is truly dead? I think there may be, but not just yet.

Mr. Alterman's article echoes the same rumblings that have been making their way around the newspaper industry for some years. He has written about this phenomenon in lay terms that are nonetheless the talk of newspaper people more and more frequently.

Several years ago, it was said by some that "ya can't make money on the Internet." Of course before that, there was the sound of "ya can't put a newspaper Online." Now, it seems that if newspapers aren't Online there ought to be a brief ceremony arranged, with someone to preside over the burial.

Congrats to Mr. Alterman for a fine article. Click on the headline to go there.

Adult School in Union Beach is likely to close

The Adult School in Union Beach has been a county wide asset for more than three decades. It's likely the school is going to be a casualty budget this year, despite its record of providing a very valuable service to the larger community in Monmouth. Courier Correspondent Melissa Gaffney wrote a strong story about this. Click on the headline and go there.

McCain, Obama are looking like they'll square off in Nov.

The NY Post posted new polls about the Presidential Race at its site. According to the surveys, both Sen. John McCain, in the Republican Party, and Sen. Barack Obama, in the Democratic Party, are looking like they are going to be the candidates.

The news about Sen. McCain really isn't news. Meanwhile, the race between Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Obama goes back and forth so much it's like watching a tennis game. Click on the headline to go to the NY Post.

PNC Bank Arts Center plan is common sense enough

There was a recent session about the PNC Bank Arts Center's new drinking rules, which basically say there is no drinking at the center anymore.

There were a lot of arrests at the venue in the past, and some people landed in the hospital because of drinking and associated other problems. Of course, events like Ozzfest and various other shows are going to be impacted.

Personally, I find it hard to believe that the center is going to be as popular as it once was for getting booked by many shows like this. This is not a good thing in some ways, because the purpose of the venue is to be used. But, in other ways, this has to be considered a good thing as there are not going to be such widespread incidents of mayhem in the future. 'Good business' is not constituted by a bunch of drunks.

The whole 'mayhem' issue is likely to go away.

I think public meetings about this are somewhat unnecessary, though, since it's not likely the center will be a big stop anymore for the kind of shows where there is likely to be trouble (given the new rules). The shows will go where drinking isn't going to be a problem. I think it's safe to say the marketplace will make its own correction in the wake of the alcohol restrictions.

Click on the headline to go to Randy Bergmann's blog for a post about the center's drinking policy.

N.J. consumer confidence -- not so good

The Star-Ledger's Susan Todd wrote a good story about New Jerseyans' failing commuter confidence.

These economic times are trying on residents throughout the Garden State and this country. There is a dispute whereby some economists swear by the fact that the country is not in a recession, while many economists do believe it's a recession.

Click on the headline and go to the story on

Easter celebrated in Holmdel

The APP has a good story about Easter at Holmdel Community United Christ Church. The Main Street event was reportedly well attended. Click on the headline to see the story by APP staff writers Sametta M. Thompson, Terry Gauthier Muessig and Joshua Riley.

More than 100 earn citizenship thru ultimate sacrifice

There is a good AP story about how more than 100 American service members won their citizenship after dying in action. God bless to these people and their families. Click into the headline and go there.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

And the Middletown budget battle goes on...

The APP's Kevin Penton has a piece Online today about the budget battle in Middletown. Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger has several quotes that do not really address cutting the budget so much as criticizing people are trying to. In essence, the mayor's proposed budget for this year represents about a 10 percent increase to taxpayers if cuts cannot be found. Yet, the mayor responsible for this budget seems more intent on attacking political parties and talking about what cannot be done as opposed to what should be for residents.

Chiefly, questions about the budget seem to solicit comments from the mayor that are derisive about Committeeman Patrick Short's efforts to trim the spending plan, or else he defaults back into the "it's Trenton's fault" line. At some point, politics have o be set aside for something productive (Short is a Dem, and Scharfenberger a Republican).

There is some comment from the mayor about how Mr. Short should not have publicly questioned a department head, and that is ridiculous. Elected officials are supposed to be an advocate for the taxpayers; the electorate should know what is being done with their money. If elected officials (aka 'advocates for the people') have a question then so be it.

It's a fine story by Mr. Penton. Click on the headline and go to the APP.

Rutgers women down Robert Morris

The Scarlet Knights Women's Team posted a great win against Robert Morris. Congrats to Head Coach Vivian Stringer & Co. for an impressive win.

Between Ms. Stringer and Scarlet Knights Football Head Coach Greg Schiano, they have managed to bring a lot of hope and inspiration to the Garden State. Thanks for that. It is needed.

And to the Rutgers Women's Basketball Team, big win and congrats!

Click on the headline to go to the story.

Imus remark still resonates

Radio personality Don Imus was recently named as king of the politically incorrect for his characterization of the Rutgers Women's Basketball Team. The remark cost the long-time radio fixture his on-air job at the time but the controversy is bound to be remembered for some time.

For more information, click on the headline and go to the Reuters story.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Merced is a truly dedicated instructor, law enforcer

It is my privilege to know John Merced, an Aberdeen resident who teaches karate and womens' self-defense. I met him at Amato's Karate and Weapons Academy, in West Keansburg. I know him to be a patient instructor, who is a real pro at it, and he has real concern for students.

John is a detective sergeant in North Jersey. He started womens' self-defense classes several years ago, and his commitment to this is phenomenal. The Independent did a great story about it, which I recommend to anyone considering taking karate (he teaches co-ed classes at Amato's too) or for women interested in self-defense.

Click into the headline to go to The Independent.

Re-enacting Good Friday in Lakewood

The APP has a great piece about re-enacting Good Friday in it today at the St. Anthony Claret Church, in Lakewood.

Click on the headline and go there.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Public Works outfitting old vehicles with new safety equipment

March 20, 2008

Refurbishing county trucks saves lives and money

FREEHOLD – The Monmouth County Department of Public Works & Engineering has saved the county an estimated $135,000 last year by refurbishing three older dump trucks and outfitting each one with safety equipment that protects roadside workers and motorists alike.

Motorists approaching a road-side work zone will see what is called an impact attenuator attached to the rear of a refurbished county truck, said John W. Tobia, Director of the Department of Public Works & Engineering. The device, also called a crash cushion, absorbs an errant vehicle’s kinetic energy or directs the vehicle away from the work zone. The trucks will be parked at the work zones, protecting workers from such a crash.

“I have seen where a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed will hit the impact attenuator,” Tobia said of his previous experience with such devices. “The driver walked away unharmed and the truck itself did not move forward, preventing injuries to Highway workers.

“By refurbishing the older county dump trucks, we have found a more economical way to provide the same level of safety at county work sites for half the cost,” said Freeholder William C. Barham, liaison to the Public Works & Engineering department.

All work to retrofit the trucks is being done in-house by personnel from the truck and body shops, Tobia said. This year, the Department will outfit four additional older dump trucks with impact attenuators, and the goal is to eventually have 12 vehicles outfitted with these safety devices, he added.

“I commend Department employees for their innovative approach to saving lives as well as county tax dollars,” Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry said. “This is especially important when you consider the fact that county taxes are not increasing this year. A job well done.”

A new impact attenuator truck costs approximately $90,000, Tobia said, but the cost of refurbishing and retrofitting an old truck with a new impact attenuator is less than half. The county operates more than 100 heavy duty trucks and typically replaces some units each year, Tobia said.

“We are providing this level of roadside safety for about half the cost,” he added.

Daily News: Obama addresses issue of race

Sen. Barack Obama is addressing his speech about race a few days ago, specifically some of his references to "typical white people." Personally, I thought the speech was a great one. The issues of race in this country are not as easy as saying that there are no problems.

Divisions of race still deeply separate Americans in many communities, especially in the suburbs. Cities are places where diversity is an everyday fact of life.

Sen. Obama's speech was a good one to spark conversation about race, because he was looking at things honestly. Hopefully, he won't back up from any comments. Being politically correct is not as important as saying something of meaning and truth. It's as good a time as any to starting talking about race in a productive way nationally. It's been time for such an issue.

Click on the headline and go to the Daily News story.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

LiveScience has great coyote article

LiveScience has a strong piece about coyotes, which deals with red foxes. Click on the headline to go there.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sen. Menendez statement on the eve of the 5th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq

March 18, 2008

Olga Alvarez 973-645-3030

WASHINGTON – On the eve of the fifth anniversary of the American-led invasion of Iraq, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who visited Iraq earlier this year, released the following statement: “On this day, we think first and foremost of our men and women in uniform, and their families, who have had to bear an enormous burden for a gigantic mistake. 29,395 soldiers have come home wounded.

3,990 have paid the ultimate price. Today our country honors their sacrifices, and holds them in our thoughts and prayers. The troops are a credit to their country.
“However, the Bush Administration took us into the war on the wings of a lie. With each passing year, we’ve heard the same false promises of victory, the same squabbles among Iraqi politicians, and the same excuses from the Bush Administration as to why they can’t admit their mistakes and bring our troops home. The only developments have been new suicide bombings, new American casualties, and new billion-dollar bills to pay.

“After five years of war, Iraq has become one of the most unstable nations in the world. Even after the so-called surge, violence is still a part of everyday life. Iraqi politicians are reluctant to work together so long as they can blame America for their problems and remain dependent on us for solutions. Our armed forces are stretched to their limit and their ability to respond to a crisis elsewhere around the world has been severely damaged. “Meanwhile, Osama Bin Laden is still at large, and Al Qaeda is regrouping. “The War has made us no safer here at home, but it has certainly made us poorer. According to some estimates, the total economic costs will soon reach $3 trillion. As thousands of Americans lose their jobs, as millions of Americans face foreclosure, as college tuition bills and health care costs pile up for families, continuing a war that is costing us $10 billion per month is an economic calamity.

“For five years now, President Bush and his Republican allies have parroted the line that, ‘We’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here.’ But now, as our economy appears headed for crisis, we know that what they really meant was, ‘We’re spending our money over there so we don’t have it to spend here.’ “We cannot continue to throw American lives and American money at a situation that neither will resolve. There are no good solutions to the conflict in Iraq, only better and worse options for the United States. The best option is to bring our troops home as quickly and safely as possible.

Sadly, if the President and his Republican allies in Congress continue to block Democratic efforts to transition out of
Iraq, it seems that only the upcoming election gives our nation any hope of believing that this sixth year of war is the last one we will be forced to endure.”

Atlantic Artisans hosts "Live Art"

Atlantic Highlands – Calling all Art Lovers!! Saturday, April 5th will be the date to remember. Atlantic Artisans in Atlantic Highlands, NJ will be hosting “Live Art." A night to be fully entertained and educated on what it takes to create a piece of art in all different mediums. Stop by between 4pm-8pm and watch the artists at work and get the chance to interact with them and learn about their art.

Art comes in all styles so this event will be a night of surprises, from a unique biking performance in the window, a flame worker that will heat it up, and your head will spin when you see Kat spinning her own wool. Jim will be chipping away at his sculpture, legally blind artists will demonstrate how they paint a beautiful piece and the fun you will have when you watch the girls paint with brooms.

Atlantic Artisans is a proud supporter of the American Artists. The gallery is filled with art created by local and American artisans in all styles, all mediums and not just wall art. All this will be displayed at the event so, stop by Saturday, April 5th from 4-8pm at 68 First Ave, Atlantic Highlands, NJ or visit us on the web at

“Live Artists” are Kat Crippen, Spring Lake Heights, Jim Fitzmaurice, Rumson, Lauren Fuery, Old Bridge, Tim Kelly, NYC, Yvonne Yaar, Toms River, Richard Young, Atlantic Highlands, and Charle Blood, Liz Gembarski, and Agnes O’Keefe, Leonardo.

Click on the headline to go to Atlantic Artisans.

Caption: Nance Ciasca is the owner of Atlantic Artisans.

Judge seals McGreevey case...finally!

In what can only be considered as a monumental favor for Garden State residents, the judge in the McGreevey trial has finally stopped the public bleeding in the divorce case between the two, by sealing the proceedings. This has been a long-overdue courtesy for New Jersey residents.

Click on the headline and go to the story.

Bowser barks for state aid for E. Orange

East Orange Mayor Robert Bowser is saber rattling about the budget and the aid that is denied to cities and towns. There has to be a point of 'give.' In every city, town, county and part of the state, the idea of government operating at a level where it just does what government is supposed to, without frills and patronage jobs, will inevitably help correct the tax load.

These mayors who are barking about their aid being cut should revisit the relatives of politicians they have on the payroll, and just how much they are paying out on contracts to supporters, before they start their argument.

The APP has the story. Click on the headline to go there.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama delivers historic speech about race

Sen. Barach Obama, by all accounts, gave a very stirring speech about racial issues in the U.S. Click on the headline and go to the AP story about it.

Something you can count on: Bad conduct by politicians

As witnessed by the ongoing former Gov. Jim McGreevey family drama, the Spitzer sex scandal in New York and the subsequent Gov. David Paterson sex scandal (Spitzer’s successor), the state of area politics is in poor shape.

I could list some other recent political scandals, but why bother? The scandals are all the same: Long-time politician gets bagged for doing something he said he wasn’t doing, has epiphany, and either blames people for getting caught or says he had some deep-seated problem.

In New Jersey, voters have become accustomed to every kind of filth and villainy by elected officials. Most Garden State politicians are good for big speeches, nice hair, capped teeth and ‘fightin’ for reform.’ I think everyone has caught on to the reality of the whole thing by now, though.

In New York, it’s probably the same thing.

What amazes me about both New Jersey and our neighbor on the other side of the Lincoln Tunnel is the kind of people that the electorate has put in our charge of our respective states.

On every Campaign Trail last year, this year and next year, the voters hear about what sparkling characters candidates have. Much will be made of the ‘air of dignity’ about the honored national, state, county and even municipal candidates.

Everyone says campaigns should be “about the issues.” But seldom are campaigns only about the issues.

Voters want to vote for people they like, or that remind them of themselves. There is a ton of psychology surrounding why people vote for various candidates. It’s an illusion, though.

Behind the big smiles, ‘heartfelt values,’ friendly photo opportunities, ardent supporters and colorful campaign signs there are just people. The candidates, office holders and appointees are just people, who are as fallible as the rest of us. Maybe the only difference between candidates and the electorate are candidates’ ability to posture and, in many cases, lie outright about character and agendas.

Don’t get me wrong, I have known some great elected and appointed people in my time, on both sides of the aisle at all levels of government. Similarly, I have known some of the worst examples of humankind in the same places.

In 10 years at this paper, and 3 other years writing news for various papers throughout this state, I could probably count on both hands actually decent people I have known in the Legislature. There are and were a few good ones at the county level, and there are and were many good people on the municipal level.

Yet, all in all, in my experience the bad dramatically outweighs the good. I have come to believe that there is something broken in the character of most politicians, simply by virtue of their need for adoration by many people and the want of power to legislate others. What kind of person aspires to that? In a few there might be the want for community service, but for most of them it is just the want of power and position and that is all.

I have seen a male politician cry in front of a governing body on behalf of support for a women’s rights issue, and I’ve seen the same guy picked up by the police for stalking women countywide the next day. During my news career, I have seen nearly every form of low thing done behind the scenes (Democrats and Republicans alike) to gain political advantage.

What I have reasoned in that time is that the hype surrounding campaigns amounts to cheap parlor tricks. Indeed, what voters should hope to expect is not morality, or even good character from anyone on the ballot. But maybe – just maybe – it’s not too much to expect competent governance free of sensation and with an eye toward fiscal sense. Then again, maybe that’s too much to expect.

I’ve often been failed by optimism, but never by my pessimism for politicians of any kind.

The NY governor having an affair story is becoming old

According to the NY Daily News, Gov. David Paterson admits having an extramarital affair. The new governor's honeymoon sure was short. Gov. Paterson is being honest, and at least he's getting it all out there before someone else gets it out there for him. Still, I think it would be a stretch to characterize this as 'Camelot revisited.'

During the early 1970s, a lot of people were cross with former sports commentator Howard Cosell after he penned a book that proclaimed loudly his opinion that athletes were not role models just because they were athletes.

In this day and age, a book unneeded, I have been failed by many things -- but never by my cynicism with politics or politicians. At the end of the day, unflinching belief in the sterling character of any elected person is an unrealistic reach. If all an elected does is not raise taxes and persecute businesses with unnecessary fees, maybe that's got to be enough. Click on the headline and go to the Daily News story about Gov. Paterson.

Fed tries to bolster economy -- good luck has a story about the Fed trying to help the economy from "going into recession." I think it's a little optimistic to talk about recession as a possibility of the future. Personally, I think the bell's already rung on that one. Click on the headline and go to

3 out of 4 Americans says it's a recession

Most Americans think the U.S. is in a recession. Maybe that's not a coincidence -- since we are. Click on the headline and go to the Reuters story.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Journalism has been changed by the Web: AP

According to the AP, the Web is having an impact on journalism -- but not in the ways previously thought. Click on the headline and go to the story.

Found great site to do community research is a good site to research communities and community-related information. Click on the headline and check it out.

Caption: The photo has nothing to do with Epodunk.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Boston Globe's covers Spitzer controversy

The Boston Globe's did a good story about the Spitzer controversy. Thanks to the folks over there for including some Inside Clamdigger comments in the story. has a great site and is doing something special over in Beantown.

Click on the headline to go to the Spitzer story at

Will the McGreevey car wreck ever stop burning?

An ex-aide of former Gov. James McGreevey is making allegations he had encounters with both the former governor and the former governor's ex-wife before McGreevey was governor.

The allegations were made in The Star-Ledger, and are up on

I don't think anyone in this state looks back fondly on the McGreevey years. Yet, the debacle that is McGreevey's former and current public life doesn't stop happening. If there is a way for something to be low then it is regularly found in the confines of the ongoing McGreevey storyline.

Who's right? Who's wrong? Better yet -- who cares?

I think not enough oversight has been given McGreevey insofar as what rules were broken by his conduct in office. To some extent has he been given a 'bye'?

Regardless, I am convinced that his ongoing "reality show" style celebrity in the Garden State only serves to reinforce the idea, more for the right than the wrong, that New Jersey is the home of ugly politics and sick scandals.

Click on the headline to go to the story.

Caption: The statue honoring Capt. John Smith at the Jamestown Colony, in Virginia. Notably, Capt. Smith has not been associated with the McGreevey scandal at this time.

David Paterson becomes NY state governor

Congratulations to David Paterson, the former lieutenant governor who will soon be the new governor of New York. He got thrown this job because of the bad conduct of his predecessor, Mr. Spitzer. Nevertheless, some of the best things in government started out like that. Whatever happens, according to what has been printed about Gov. Paterson thus far, there is likely to be a lot less drama surrounding the Paterson administration.

Click on the headline for the NY Daily News story.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Jamestown President Dies At 48 Years Old

According to a report by, Jamestown Associates President Tom Blakely died. Jamestown is a popular stop for GOP candidates throughout the Garden State. Mr. Blakely, 48, reportedly died after a 5K run.

Click on the headline to go to

Seaside Heights hosts annual St. Patrick's Day Parade

The borough of Seaside Heights was the scene of a very big St. Patrick's Day Parade. A large and energetic crowd came out to support what was too many groups on parade to county. A great time was had by all. Click on the headline to go to Sunday's APP article.

Untold Secret of Matawan Administrator

Fred Carr is well known around the Bayshore, as the administrator for the borough of Matawan. What is less known is that when he is away from balancing the ledger books and overseeing municipal government in town, Fred is a bagpiper.

The Shamrock and Thistle Pipers were a great part of the Seaside Heights St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday. The group was one of a few piper groups there, but was the largest for sure. Fred and the rest of the guys had a great event. For more information on the group, click on the headline to go to their Web site.

Chapter takes part in Seaside Heights St. Pat's Parade

The North Jersey Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association took part in Saturday's St. Patrick's Day Parade event in Seaside Heights. The color guard was under the direction of retired SGM. Pete DeVries.

The North Jersey Chapter is the largest of the association chapter's in the state, with more than 350 members. For more information about the association, click on the headline to go to its main homepage.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Opinion: The NY Post shouldn't have printed photos

The NY Post has printed very graphic photos of the Manhattan hooker that was involved in the Eliot Spitzer scandal. Just my opinion -- really tasteless. What next? She gets a talk show and a clothing line? What Gov. Spitzer did was wrong, and illegal. So was what she did.

Obama criticizes pastor for 9/11 remarks

Sen. Barack Obama has criticized remarks made by his pastor at the Chicago congregation he belongs to.

The remarks by the pastor involved were unnecessarily inflammatory for the circumstance, in my opinion. Yet, I also believe that Sen. Obama could have weighed in on this a little earlier.

Click on the headline and go to the AP story.

St. Patrick's Day Parade Right Around Corner For Keansburg

The Bayshore's Beached Seal

An injured seal washed up onto a Port Monmouth beach early Thursday morning. Park rangers and animal experts came out to check on the seal. For the full story, check out Courier staffer Alyssa Passeggio's blog by clicking the headline.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Airborne School Web Site

There's a great site for the U.S. Army Airborne School Homepage. Click on the headline and go there.

Click on the headline and go there.

A political obituary for Eliot Spitzer

I was just discussing the Spitzer scandal and the Manhattan prostitute, who is originally from Belmar, with someone who is involved in county politics. This is a seedy story, there's no doubt about it. It made the front-page of the APP, the Ledger, etc. It's news.

But let's face it, politicians are always going to have their scandals. As much as the most 'dignified' icons in the political jungle might want to believe otherwise, there is nothing preordained, anointed or otherwise supernatural about their respective leadership traits. Politicians are just people, who are as flawed and screwed up as anyone else.

Does it take some extraordinary ability to be a politician? Well, it takes some stage presence and ability to be presentable and communicate to some degree. They should be lucid, for sure.

But, taking for granted sparkling character? That is a reach. I can trust that politicians will portray they have sparkling character, and lie straight into anyone's face without a skipped step that it is true. They may even pledge great oathes and swear on the tomb of some long dead politician (who just never got caught at their bad character).

There are some great politicians out there, which I could count on two hands. And then there are most of them.

The deal here is that a former denizen of Monmouth County's malls is involved in this scandal as a prostitute, but that is less important than the fact that a hypocritical, alleged 'crime buster' who made his career preaching law and order but got caught otherwise is out of the game.

There's no lasting importance to Eliot Spitzer being caught in this scandal, or even him stepping down. I expect it will take all of 20 minutes for America to forget about him, as he settles into obscurity somewhere. If he's remembered at all, he will "the Love Gov," as he's been dubbed by the New York media. And as for the momentary celebrity of Gov. Spitzer's unconventional employee, her 15 minutes is probably on the clock.

Instead of being shocked, I think it's more a matter of waiting to see who is next. And there will be a next. There's always a 'next' with politicians. Does that sentiment say anything about politics and government? Maybe.

It's a hard game. There are some people at all levels that can handle it, but most cannot. In general, a few people in politics want to serve the people. But most just want to get stuff for themselves. The theater that goes on makes it hard to tell the difference between them for the audience, otherwise known as the electorate.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Spitzer resigns in wake of scandal

NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer has resigned his post. It was the right decision. Click on the headline to go to the AP story.

Proposed Middletown tax increase -- it's just nuts

According to the APP, the Middletown Township Committee is considering raising taxes 10.2 percent this year. The spending plan is about $63 million, and the amount to be raised through taxation is $38,871,437, up from $34,956,593. The tax rate itself would be 77.94 cents per $100 of assessed value. Each cent represents $498,727.

Also according to the APP, the committee majority is actively considering postponing the hiring of six police officers.

Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger railed against "the state" again because state funding was cut by $634,511, to $7.8 million. The mayor said it was unfair of the state to require Middletown to take on added expenditures such as pension contributions and the public library allocation.

Interim Township Administrator Frederick Jahn characterized cuts the administration has already made to thew spending plan as "...kind of ruthless..."

In my opinion, such assertions by Mayor Scharfenberger are invalid. The library was expanded in some part with tax money -- it shouldn't have been. This committee majority built a more than $8 million vanity project just a few years ago with the Middletown Cultural Arts Center. This committee has just got done giving its clerk and enormous pay increase (Why? No idea). This committee majority does not micromanage expenditures on the deluxe television sets and other durable goods that are purchased; there has been no eye to savings. And litigation...ah, litigation.

This committee majority has a history of picking unnecessary, lengthy and expensive court fights with the PBA in the township -- and usually losing. Trying to get a grasp of how much this committee majority is spending on litigation is very hard, given the fact that in the past legal expenses have been hidden in line items that are totally unrelated to litigation expenses.

Years ago, someone made the jovial remark that Middletown would bond for lunch if it could. This came up in a conversation regarding the township's more than $80 million in bond debt.

Frankly, I do not believe this committee majority is competent where it involves fiscal oversight of the township. Cultural centers, high-priced clerks, and not even libraries are more important than even one police officer, let alone six.

The basic mission of government is not to operate cultural centers, create opulent libraries, turn partisan lawyers and contractors into wealthy people off vanity projects on municipal projects, or expand into areas non-essential to the governance of a community. But, the government does have a basic duty to safeguard citizens, hence police officers are needed. There is a lot of excess going on in Middletown's government, and partisan people are having a field day at taxpayers expense.

I have said it before, and will say it again, anyone raising taxes at all in this environment should not hold office. Yet, a 10 percent increase -- that is insane. There's way too much fluff and posturing on this committee, and not nearly enough 'getting it done' where it involves fiscal management. As for the 'blame it on Trenton' line -- that's Politicalese for 'the dog ate my homework,' and it's ridiculous. Government should be about money and basic services, and not frills.

Click on the headline to go to a great story about this by the APP's Kevin Penton.

Caption: Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger and Deputy Mayor Pam Brightbill at last year's Memorial Day Parade in Middletown.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


The community is invited to a Support the Troops Pancake Breakfast to be held on Sunday, April 13 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the VFW Post 2179, Port Monmouth section of Middletown NJ.

The event sponsored by the VFW Post 2179 and the Middletown Township Lions Club will benefit the New Jersey National Guard State Family Readiness Council. (NGSFRC).

With more than 3,000 New Jersey National Guard members being deployed in the Global War on Terrorism this year, the New Jersey National Guard State Family Readiness Council stands ready to provide financial assistance to the families of deployed Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen. The council works in conjunction with Family Assistance Centers located at National Guard facilities across the state to help the ‘Home Front Heroes’ during deployments.

Our mission is to work in conjunction with the Lawrence Township Lions Club and the American Legion Post 414, to perpetuate more financial assistance to the NGSFRC. They will be holding their breakfast at the Lawrenceville National Guard Armory in Lawrenceville NJ at the same time and date.

The headquarters for the New Jersey Army National Guard’s 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) that deploys in June 2008 is in Lawrenceville NJ. The deployment of this Brigade will be the largest mobilization of Garden State Citizen-Soldiers since World War II. Therefore, it is important for our Middletown Twp Lions Club to reach out to our centrally located communities to help in this endeavor.

The cost for the Support the Troops Pancake Breakfast is $10 for adults and $5 for children under 10. (Under Five FREE)

Businesses and organizations are encouraged to donate items for the breakfast or to donate monetarily to the event. A banner will be hung with names of all who donate.

For more information on how to show your support to our local troops or for advance tickets call LTC (Ret) Jim Guerrieri at 908-902-0371 or Mr. Bill Travis, Past Commander, VFW Post 2179 at 732-787-0999.

'Simply Sable' launched by Gaffney

Courier correspondent Melissa Gaffney has launched a new blog, titled "Simply Sable." Melissa started things off by writing a piece about Eliot Spitzer that was funny, incisive and had a lot of truth in it. Click on the headline to go there.

In honor of the launch, I had to post a photo with absolutely no relevance whatsoever to the subject matter. But it is the St. Patrick's Day 'season.'

Masons honor lodge's educator of the year

Caption: Joseph Pezzano, worshipful master of Caesarea Lodge No. 64, in Keyport.

KEYPORT (MONMOUTH COUNTY, NJ) -- Caesarea Lodge No. 64, Free and Accepted Masons, will recognize its educator of the year on Monday, March 17 at its lodge during a special ceremony.

According to lodge Worshipful Master Joseph Pezzano, this year's award will go to Hazlet High School special education teacher Mary Beth Stansfield.

Pezzano said Stansfield will receive $100 and a copy of author Frank McCourt's memoir "Teacher Man." Pezzano noted that Stansfield will also be considered for the Masons' district award, along with other winners of the Masons' lodge-level awardees.

"There is not enough that anyone or any organization can do to thank teachers enough for their extraordinary efforts every day in classrooms throughout this state and country," Pezzano said. He has been Caesarea Lodge's top official since Dec. 8, when he was sworn into office as worshipful master.