Master gardener class to begin

The Monmouth County Master Gardener Program is the way for an individual to become a certified expert in all things related to home gardening. The deadline to apply for the 2016 program is Jan. 4.

“As a Master Gardener trainee you can get in-depth, hands-on training in horticulture from the best in the field – Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service professional staff and their associates at Brookdale Community College and the Monmouth County Park System,” Freeholder Lillian G. Burry said. “The program includes plant biology, propagation, soil science and pest control.”

After completing classroom and handson training, a Master Gardener graduate can share their knowledge by conducting garden lectures, demonstrations, school and community gardening projects, telephone diagnostic service for callers and research, according to a press release.

To enroll in the Master Gardener program, an individual must live in Monmouth County, be available to attend 10 weeks of classes and make a commitment to provide gardening information and services to the community.

Classroom sessions will be held from February through May on Tuesday and Thursday mornings beginning Feb. 18.

At the conclusion of the classes, all Master Gardener trainees give 60 hours of volunteer time in horticultural projects and answer calls on the county’s “horticulture helpline.”

Those who complete the training become certified Master Gardeners, according to the press release.

The can be downloaded from application www.visitmonmouth.com. Be sure to click on the Department link to the

Rutgers Cooperative .

Extension Service

Applicants may also obtain a copy at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service office at 4000 Kozloski Road, Freehold Township, or call 732-431-7260 to request an application be mailed. There is a $250 fee to cover material and program costs.

College’s radio station earns top award

LINCROFT — For the fifteenth year in a row, Brookdale Public Radio 90.5 The Night has been recognized for its continued support of live, local music.

On Dec. 17, the member-supported radio station was named “Top Radio Station in Support of Live Music” during the annual Asbury Music Awards at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park.

“We are delighted to win this award again,” said station manager Tom Brennan in a press release.

“Our service to the local community is something we are proud of, and our support of local music is a huge part of that,” he said.

Over the past four decades, The Night has earned a reputation for backing the efforts of local artists, giving unsigned musicians a platform to be heard and helping them reach new audiences beyond Monmouth

County, according to Brennan.

The station’s free “Songwriters on the Beach” concert series, which pairs local musicians with national acts each summer at the boardwalk in Belmar, was also nominated for the Asbury Park Music Awards’ “Best Thing to Happen in 2014/15.”

To learn more about Brookdale Public Radio, call 732-224-2492 or visit www.90.5thenight.org.

Youngster shows strength in battle against cancer

By CHRISTINE BARCIA
Staff Writer

 Gracie West, a seventh-grader at the Barkalow Middle School, Freehold Township, has been battling cancer for two years and recent scans showed no evidence of the disease. In December 2014, Gracie traveled to Rome and received a blessing from Pope Francis.  CHRISTINE BARCIA/STAFF Gracie West, a seventh-grader at the Barkalow Middle School, Freehold Township, has been battling cancer for two years and recent scans showed no evidence of the disease. In December 2014, Gracie traveled to Rome and received a blessing from Pope Francis. CHRISTINE BARCIA/STAFF Gracie West literally jumped for joy with the good news her doctor recently delivered to her. Gracie, 12, of Freehold Township, has been battling cancer for two years. After she found out her latest scans showed no evidence of the disease, she was jumping on a trampoline within the hour.

“I knew I was going to hit the clear mark,” said Gracie, who is the daughter of Don and Sharon West.

Sharon West said it felt like “the world lifted off your shoulders” when she heard from the doctor that her daughter’s scans were clear.

Gracie, whose nickname is “Cookie,” as in one tough cookie, is a seventh-grader at the Barkalow Middle School, Freehold Township. Two years ago she was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma.

 COURTESY OF THE VATICAN COURTESY OF THE VATICAN Gracie’s protocol included chemotherapy and radiation at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and additional treatments at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York City.

But it was a special blessing given to her by Pope Francis in December 2014 that brought Gracie the greatest sense of healing. “I felt calm and peaceful, like everything was going to be fine after (the papal blessing),” the youngster said. Gracie’s trip to see Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome was the result of a wish granted to Gracie and her family by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Pope Francis hugged and kissed Gracie and gave her a benediction. The pope also shook hands with her brother, Joey.

“It was just the most amazing thing,” Gracie said.

The most difficult part of her battle against cancer, Gracie said, has been “not being able to do the stuff I normally do,” like swimming and playing with her French bulldog Topy, who is named after her first chemotherapy drug, Topotecan.

Gracie’s approach to life can be summed up in the mantra that guides her: you have no choice but to be strong, but you can choose to be happy and positive. Whether facing cancer or a just bad day, Gracie lives by these words.

Sharon West said the support of family members, friends and the community has been critical throughout her daughter’s fight against illness.

The West family established the Cookie’s Crumblers Foundation with a goal to not only help Gracie crumble her cancer, but also to help other children fight cancer.

A portion of the foundation’s proceeds will be contributed to research aimed at curing and eliminating childhood cancers.

The Cookie’s Crumblers 2016 Inaugural Gala of Gratitude will take place on June 4 at the Battleground County Club, Manalapan. For more information, visit Cookie- Gala2016.eventbrite.com

Photo


 The Force was strong at the Plumsted Library in Plumsted Township, Ocean County, on Dec. 16 when a celebration of all things “Star Wars” was held in conjunction with the opening of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”  STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR The Force was strong at the Plumsted Library in Plumsted Township, Ocean County, on Dec. 16 when a celebration of all things “Star Wars” was held in conjunction with the opening of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR

Youths may enter poster contest

New Jersey’s soil conservation districts are now accepting entries in a poster contest designed to raise awareness of natural resources and related issues among young people. The theme for this year’s poster is “We All Need Trees,” according to a press release.

Students may compete in the following categories: Grades 2-3, Grades 4-6, Grades 7-9 and Grades 10-12. The winner in each category will receive $200. The secondplace finisher in each category will receive $100 and the third-place finisher in each category will receive $50.

The winners will be entered in the National Association of Conservation Districts poster contest.

The competition is sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, New Jersey Association of Conservation Districts and the state’s 15 soil conservation districts, which work to conserve and manage soil and water resources in the state, according to the press release.

To find the local soil conservation district, go to www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/anr/ nrc/conservdistricts.html. All entries must be submitted through the local district.

For more information and the entry form, visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/ anr/pdf/conservationpostercontest.pdf

Long Branch to renovate police officer memorial

By KENNY WALTER
Staff Writer

A memorial commemorating Long Branch Police Officers fallen on duty is expected to get a makeover.

Jason Roebuck, Long Branch director of Public Safety, said during the Dec. 22 City Council’s workshop meeting, an outside group has proposed restoning and incorporating granite in the memorial that is currently sitting outside of city hall memorializing the three former officers who died on duty.

“I was approached back in the summer by someone who is interested in redoing the memorial that we have outside,” he said. “He owns a landscaping supply business and was originally from Long Branch.

“The great thing about this, is the people who he works with, they do a few of these each year.”

Roebuck said the proposal is by Joe Ciambrone, owner of Freehold-based V&F Landscape Supply and a former Long Branch resident. “He initiated when he saw what we had here and he’s been around here his whole life and he’s very excited,” Roebuck said.

According to Roebuck, the proposal also includes relocating the memorial from the west side of City Hall to the east side of the building.

“We got together a few times and we decided that the spot that we have now wasn’t really going to work and decided to look for a new spot for it,” he said.

Roebuck also said part of the project may have to be funded by an outside group.

“The only thing that he wanted to add that would not be paid for is a bronze sculpture,” he said. “I talked to the PBA [Policemen’s Benevolent Association Local #10] and they are willing to raise the money to do that.

“It probably wouldn’t go up at the same time, we would probably do the rest of it first and they said they can get started pretty soon. We will raise the money probably in the next year to get the bronze.”

New year offers opportunity to organize

By CHRISTINE BARCIA
Staff Writer

Mise en place is a French culinary term that means “putting in place.” For chefs, having ingredients prepared and arranged before the cooking process begins allows for greater organization and efficiency in executing a recipe. Applying that concept in everyday life can bring that same organization to almost any task.

“The ability to be organized has become increasingly more important because living in contemporary America, life has become very complex and multifaceted. We live in an age of specialization which creates more options and more decisions,” said Michael Osit, Ed.D., a psychologist, author and speaker from Warren.

Osit offers an example. Forty years ago, he said, one would go to the grocery store to buy orange juice and it was available fresh or frozen and came in either a frozen can or a glass bottle.

“I recently went to the local market and found 27 varieties of orange juice — pulp, no pulp, some pulp, concentrate, vitamin D, and it now comes in cartons, juice boxes, pouches, bottles, etc.,” Osit said. Such mundane decisions can overwhelm individuals and lead to an inability to focus, and in turn, to stay organized.

“To become organized takes a good deal of emotional control and focus,” said Michael Vito, Ph.D., a psychologist with offices in Morristown and Watchung.

To get (and stay) organized, individuals must be “convinced of the value of organization,” Vito said.

Organization, Vito said, leads to better mental health by creating a “less stressful and better functioning” state of mind.

“Organized individuals run their life instead of their life running them. They are in control, which optimizes positive outcomes and minimizes stress and crisis occurring in their life,” Osit said.

According to National Association of Professional Organizers Member Director, Lori Vande Krol, good organizational systems reduce stress and allow people to focus time and energy on what matters most.

“With the speed and volume of information and clutter in our lives today, it has become even more important to have the right systems in place to manage it all,” Vande Krol said.

Organized people, Osit said, can greatly reduce anxiety when life is relatively predictable and surprises are at a minimum.

“Organized people frequently have a plan B, so they do not feel trapped or victimized in specific situations,” Osit said.

The first step to getting organized, whether at home or at work, involves a commitment to putting in the work upfront.

“Employ a ‘work now, play later’ philosophy,” Osit said.

In other words, “become a list maker and prioritize items,” Osit said.

Other suggestions that Osit offers include the following: immediately enter appointments into either a mobile phone or calendar; promptly list items on a to-do list; leave buffer time for appointments and deadlines to account for unexpected events such as traffic or illness; and develop routines for daily tasks so they are automatically completed.

Although technology is often designed to help with getting organized, the opposite effect often occurs.

“Technological devices can be critical tools to help a person be organized in their life if used appropriately (calendar, reminders, to-do lists, alerts, etc.), but they are also a significant distraction from the task at hand, which can cause inefficiency,” Osit said.

The Internet, tablets and mobile phones, Osit said, have created a “tremendous distraction from the present moment.

“Even when people are not sending or receiving messages, a piece of their attention is on the device that could buzz or vibrate at any moment.” Osit said.

Simple advice, like make a plan and stick to it, can facilitate greater organization.

“Put the keys in the key spot and the junk in the junk spot,” Zito said.

In the last decade, the organization industry has experienced growth, as evidenced by the increase in membership in the National Association of Professional Organizers. In 2005, there were 2,945 members, and today there are nearly 4,000 members, about a 30 percent increase, Vande Krol said.

“Interestingly, I am seeing a revitalized interest in living a simpler lifestyle by downsizing space, possessions and activities,” Vande Krol said.

Heather Pierce, owner of House in Order, a professional organization company serving central New Jersey, said the most common request she receives is for help in organizing paperwork.

“Many people hold on to much more paper than they need to because they don’t know what to keep and what to get rid of,” Pierce said.

People often become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of paper that enters their home whether it’s via mail, their child’s backpack or shopping receipts, Pierce said.

“They do nothing to clear the paper clutter. The result is often cluttered kitchen counters, drawers or cabinets, overstuffed filing cabinets, bags and boxes of papers that get moved from place to place, but never sorted and dealt with,” Pierce said.

Pam of Toms River, a client of Pierce, said her “breaking point” with clutter came after she retired and was at home amidst years of accumulated items.

“I started feeling overwhelmed with my possessions,” Pam said.

With Pierce’s service, Pam was able to organize papers that had piled up for years.

“Now I follow a path that there is a place for everything. I’ve been able to break old habits,” Pam said.

When Pierce meets with clients, she discusses any fears or anxieties they may have about the reorganization process.

“Every client is different, so my plan for each client may be different — what works for one person does not work for all. It is important to set clear expectations as far as the desired outcome, projected time needed to complete an organization project, costs of completing a project and the roles each of us will play in the overall completion of the organization project, Pierce said.

It takes a great deal of courage for many people to reach out to a professional organizer for help, Pierce said.

“Many people feel shame, anxiety and embarrassment about the disorganization of their home or office,” according to Pierce.

By conquering the clutter, she said, clients are able to focus on the things that matter most to them.

“Generally, you first want to determine your vision. In other words, how would your ideal space or day look and feel?” Vande Krol said.

Seeing a revitalized interest in living a simpler lifestyle, Vande Krol said, has led to individuals downsizing space, possessions and activities.

Organization Strategies

Get Organized at Home

Some basic tips for better organization at home, according to www.webmd.com, include: find a place for every item; keep clutter out of the house; shop for containers after de-cluttering is complete; get rid of duplicates; de-clutter nostalgia, such as children’s artwork, by taking a picture of a child holding art work or crafts.

Get rid of old clothes using the 80:20 rule: we wear 20 percent of the clothes we own 80 percent of the time; look for simple solutions, like a key hook by the front door; and schedule de-cluttering for areas that need it daily, weekly and monthly.

Get Organized at Work

A focus on time, space and mindset is the key to organization at work, according to www.entrepreneur.com.

Concerning time, the website recommends that individuals start the day with structured time by sorting through email and responding to quick responses and referrals right away, deleting unimportant information and scheduling more essential tasks.

Space, which refers to physical and virtual space, is critical to productivity, the website stated.

The absence of office interruptions can improve concentration when writing or researching a topic, and this might be a task better completed away from the office, according to the website.

Switching off pop-up notifications on mobile devices and on computers, in addition to limiting the number of times email is checked, can result in greater organization of virtual space.

Finally, there is an individual’s mindset. To reduce the feeling of overload and the procrastination associated with taking on overwhelming jobs, divide large tasks into small chunks to better focus, according to the website.

Get Organized at School

It’s as easy as ABC to keep school-related tasks in order, according to www.scholastic.com.

First: “A” place for everything — keep a ready-to-use homework kit filled with school supplies. Next, “be” focused — studying needs to come first when scheduling time and planning activities. Finally, “calendars” posted in a central place at home can help students prioritize tasks, such as test dates and report due dates.

Children should keep a small, personal to-do list in order to get a better understanding of time management, according to the website.

Contact Information

Fo info, visit the National Association of Professional Organizers at www.napo.net.

Photos




 Greater Media Newspapers held a holiday food drive in the Manalapan office from Dec. 9-21. Donations were brought to the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties in Neptune.  PHOTOS BY KATHY McBAIN/STAFF Greater Media Newspapers held a holiday food drive in the Manalapan office from Dec. 9-21. Donations were brought to the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties in Neptune. PHOTOS BY KATHY McBAIN/STAFF

Long Branch beachfront proposal will be revised

Developers of a 47-unit condominium complex in Long Branch presented plans to slightly modify the development, which was approved last year.

James Monteforte, the architect representing FEM Real Estate, said during the City Council’s Dec. 22 workshop meeting, the developer will reconfigure the outdoor balconies in an effort to expand the size of the units, which were designed to range between 1,600 and 2,400 square feet.

However, Monteforte said the design of the project would basically remain the same.

“Basically what happened was we tried to increase the size of the units a little bit by taking some of the exterior balcony space and swinging the geometry around,” he said. “We tried very hard to maintain the South Beach style that I had working. It is all concrete and glass.”

Another change to the design includes the elimination of a clubhouse on the second floor.

Mimi Feliciano, CEO of FEM Real Estate, which is located in Montvale, first presented plans for the project in the Beachfront South redevelopment zone in 2013 and gained approval from the Long Branch Planning Board in 2014.

Because of a previous redevelopment agreement, Feliciano already secured approvals to construct 11 townhouse units on the property, but was able to acquire more properties to expand the project located on the corner of Ocean Boulevard and North Bath Avenue.

The project did not require any variances, which the city does not grant for projects in its six-redevelopment zones.

The design includes a connected first floor that splits into two eight-story towers, with an opening in between.

Amenities include underground parking, a pool, gym/activity area and private terraces for some of the units.

There will also be unoccupied units that can be reserved for guests of tenants.

The city has previously attempted to attract developers to build large swaths of property in redevelopment zones, often using the threat of eminent domain.

In recent years, several developers, including Feliciano, have presented plans to develop single tracts or smaller assemblages.

Manasquan teen celebrates birthday with food drive

By KENNY WALTER
Staff Writer

MANASQUAN — When Xander Bossone wanted to celebrate his 11th birthday in 2010 he wanted to do something different and help others, so he decided to organize a food drive.

Now for his 16th birthday Xander, a sophomore at Manasquan High School, collected more than 2,000 pounds of food to benefit the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties and Move For Hunger during the sixth annual fill a truck food drive held in the parking lot of the Acme Manasquan on Dec. 13.

Donna Bossone said her son originally planned on having a party for his Dec. 22 birthday but asked his friends to bring a donation in lieu of a birthday present.

“He started when he was 11, and he just completed his sixth year this year,” she said. “He said he wanted to do something for his birthday different and he was actually going to have a pizza party and collect cans and ask everyone to bring canned food.”

According to Bossone, a lot of work goes into the weeks leading up to the annual food drive.

“It is word of mouth but we do a lot of logistical work as well, we have a printer in town that donates upwards of 3,000 flyers, we stuff mailboxes and hang posters in all the local businesses in town,” she said. “We go to all the local schools and hand out flyers there.

“That whole two weeks prior we get all of that done so people definitely come out for it.”

For the 2015 drive Xander collected 2,143 pounds of food to bring the total to 24,427 pounds over the course of six years.

Along with the food, Xander also accepts cash donations and raised $850 in 2015 for the food bank.

Bossone said the 2015 drive was the lowest output yet, largely due to unseasonably warm weather.

“This was the lowest year, we thought with the nice weather it would bring everybody out, and it was completely the opposite,” Bossone said. “It was very slow this year.

“We’ve worked in snow and rain and 15 degree weather and had tons of people come out, and this year with nice weather everybody was out with their families and no one grocery shopped.”

She said Xander’s goal for this year was 25,000 pounds of food, which he fell about 600 pounds shy of.

“He was just a little bit shy but it’s okay; he’s ready for next year,” Bossone said.

While Xander organizes the drive on his own, he does have help from friends and other volunteers.

“He has the same set of friends who come, and we also have kids who do Key Club and Honors Society who need hours and come and volunteer,” Bossone said. “But it is primarily the same six to eight friends who come every year.”

Move For Hunger is a nonprofit organization that mobilizes the relocation industry to fight hunger and reduce food waste, working with companies across North America to collect unwanted, unopened food from people who are relocating and deliver it to local food banks.

To date, their network of relocation professionals has delivered over 5 million pounds of food to local food banks across North America. For more information or to find out how you can help support Move For Hunger, visit www.MoveForHunger.org.

Today, the FoodBank distributes more than 10 million meals annually through a network of over 300 feeding programs.

For more information visit http://www.foodbankmoc.org/.