Manasquan teen celebrates birthday with food drive

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

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

For more information visit

Grocery stores expand services

Staff Writer

 Children of all ages watch a gingerbread cookie demonstration by Dani B. Fiori at Whole Foods Market in Marlboro on Dec. 17.  STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR Children of all ages watch a gingerbread cookie demonstration by Dani B. Fiori at Whole Foods Market in Marlboro on Dec. 17. STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR Area grocery stores are slowly changing the way they cater to their customers by providing more services and programs to help make a regular trip to the supermarket a day filled with fun, learning and adventure.

From nutritional assistance, children’s classes and even free home delivery services, supermarkets have become hotspots of activities and resources, showing it is not just about the shopping, but about community togetherness. “I feel like we are definitely providing something more than just shopping,” said Laura Fette, marketing team leader at Whole Foods Market in Marlboro.

“I feel like the store has been a destination for events, whether kid- or adult-focused, and we are even finding people within the community, partnering with them and helping them to build their own businesses, and I think that has been what has worked really well here — finding what our community needs and really catering to it.”

 Grocery stores are offering more than food shopping such as this gingerbread cookie decorating class held at Whole Foods Market in Marlboro on Dec. 17.  STAFF PHOTGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR Grocery stores are offering more than food shopping such as this gingerbread cookie decorating class held at Whole Foods Market in Marlboro on Dec. 17. STAFF PHOTGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR According to Fette, Whole Foods in Marlboro offers some unique partnerships and classes for its clientele, such as with Heirloom Kitchen in Old Bridge for cooking classes and Macaroni Kids of Western Monmouth County, where children get to make their own pizza and macaroni necklaces.

“Finding these local experts who are really trying to build their businesses as well, and collaborating together to bring programming inside the store, people see we are beyond a shopping destination,” Fette said. “We’re offering the full scope of things.”

Fette also said the store offers a You & Me Toddler Program several times a month.

“Each Whole Foods Market is different, and I really feel like that we cater to our community … we’re becoming a part of people’s routine beyond just shopping,” she said.

Aside from classes, Michael Sinatra, public relations and public affairs director at Whole Foods Market’s Northeast Region, said the supermarket chain also offers additional services such as catering and takes pride in giving back to local communities.

“A lot of people enjoy taking advantage of our programming, such as our special ordering and catering services and our special menus,” he said.

At Whole Foods Market, customers can make shopping quick and easy by reserving and ordering meals, entrees, and party musthaves online and then picking them up at the store.

“We definitely see a higher volume of orders this time of year, but customers are aware and use this service at various times of the year,” Sinatra said.

The supermarket chain also participates in community giving days or what they refer to as “5% Days.”

“Each store is always donating food to area food banks and shelters,” Sinatra said. “Then several times a year, we hold community giving days where five percent of that day’s net sales are donated to a local area charity or educational organization.”

The Whole Foods Market in Marlboro will also join the Manalapan and Marlboro municipalities for holiday tree lighting events, providing baked goods, hot chocolate and company.

“I feel like we do a lot in the community,” Fette said. “People are coming here for things, but we’re also coming to them as well … and I think that makes a big difference too.”

Valerie Fox, media relations coordinator at Wegmans Food Markets, said providing services such as catering and a free public app is about making customers’ lives and shopping experience as simple as possible.

“Wegmans’ aim is always to help mealtimes for families be as great and easy as possible,” she said.

“Our services help save customers time … but I think the number one thing that separates us are our people and customer service representatives who provide an added convenience.”

One service Fox said Wegmans provides is a free downloadable app that makes going to the supermarket less of a hassle.

“The Wegmans app is a very useful tool,” she said. “Customers can create their shopping list right there, and it’ll sort everything by aisle, and as you add items to your list, it will automatically estimate the total so you can manage your budget.”

On the app, customers can also browse through hundreds of recipes and add ingredients to their shopping list with just one touch and can even watch easy how-to videos to make meals easier.

“We also offer three ways for customers to enjoy our catering services, and that is either by going online, ordering by phone or by coming into your local Wegmans store,” Fox said.

From simple cheese and deli platters to cocktail party menus, complete holiday dinners and even delicious dessert trays, catering experts and chefs help with cooking and planning so families can have a memorable gathering.

“Many families have told us that they just don’t have time to do all the prep work themselves, so while this is not a full catering service with people coming to your home to serve, it provides our customers a service where they can order all their party-planning needs in one place.”

At ShopRite, a growing service is the supermarket’s ShopRite From Home program, which allows customers to save time and energy by ordering their groceries from the convenience of their own residence.

“The majority of ShopRite stores offer the ShopRite From Home service, which allows customers to shop online and pick up groceries at the store or have those groceries delivered right to their doorstep,” said Karen O’Shea, spokeswoman for Wakefern Food Corp.

Whether you are a busy parent, are injured or can’t make it to the store for some other reason, the ShopRite From Home service is an effortless way to get all the groceries you need with the click of a button.

“The ShopRite Mobile App and ShopRite From Home service allow customers to place orders electronically, and those grocery orders are then shopped in store by personal, trained shoppers,” O’Shea said. “Customers can tell our shoppers how they like their produce picked or cold cuts sliced. Our shoppers will also call customers at home if we are out of a certain item.

“Service is key, and it’s the reason our ShopRite From Home service continues to grow each year.”

Heather Casey of Edison said that, with being a mom of four sons and she and her husband both working full time, ShopRite from Home allows her to order her groceries on her time and schedule the deliveries for when it is most convenient.

“With four kids and both my husband and I working full time, every second counts,” Casey said. “We started using ShopRite from Home when my youngest son was born and food shopping became an added challenge.

“It is so helpful because we can shop from our phones or computer early in the morning or late in the evening when the kids are asleep and schedule pickups [or] deliveries around our work/family schedules. I rarely see the inside of the store any more because this service is so helpful!”

The ShopRite Pharmacy App makes getting prescriptions easier for customers.

“The ShopRite Pharmacy App makes managing prescriptions simple by allowing customers to refill prescriptions and transfer prescriptions right to their local ShopRite,” O’Shea said.

Diana Fransis, retail dietitian program supervisor at Wakefern Food Corp., works closely with more than 120 registered dietitians across 130 stores, training them to work with customers and educating them on making healthier choices while food shopping, as well as carrying out these choices by preparing healthy, well-balanced meals.

“Our registered dietitians will sit down with customers in a free one-on-one consultation, talk about their needs and goals, find out what they are looking for, dive into a diet plan and will even walk around the store with customers showing them where the food that is best for them is,” Fransis said.

ShopRite’s Culinary Workshops is a hands-on cooking class program taught by professionals who share their skills and knowledge, helping customers acquire limitless meal possibilities that include delicious, healthy ingredients.

“They’re cooking full meals with appetizers, entrees, desserts, and we even have a kids cooking class that teaches them how to make a very easy meal.”

According to Fransis, part of the supermarket’s Health and Wellness program includes the Dietitian’s Selection recipe program, a collection of recipes featuring healthy ingredients and essential nutrients while limiting the amount of fats, cholesterol and sodium.

“People are becoming much more aware about healthy eating and getting proper nutrition, and there is so much that our registered dietitians and chefs offer and can help with,” Fransis said. “All our services are free.”

Arlene Putterman, manager of public and community relations at Stop & Shop’s New York Metro Division, said getting prepared for the holidays or other festive occasions is easy as customers can order party platters, desserts, cakes and other arrangements online for in-store pickup and can order flowers.

“Stop & Shop provides fully prepared holiday dinners,” she said. “All the fixings without the prep work.”

Putterman said the supermarket’s Peapod service also makes delivering groceries to your home or business easy.

“Peapod online home delivery service strives to deliver convenience and value,” she said. “Customers can order online or on Peapod’s free mobile app for grocery home delivery or car-side service at one of our many pickup locations.”

Package theft a concern

Staff Writers

The theft of packages delivered to doorsteps is becoming a bigger problem as more and more people shop online for their Christmas gifts.

Woodbridge Police Capt. Roy Hoppock said package theft has become a growing issue, and there are very few ways to address it.

“It’s a problem. It’s a crime of opportunity is what it comes down to,” he said. “So many more people are [shopping online] and more and more packages are being left on people’s front steps, and people drive by and they see them and they grab them.”

Hoppock said Woodbridge police recently made an arrest involving package theft and charged a woman with three counts of theft by unlawful taking after three packages were taken from an apartment complex on Dec. 7 in the Fords section of Woodbridge.

“We did a follow-up and on Dec. 13 we made an arrest of a female that was staying at [a nearby hotel],” he said. “Most of the time it is difficult to make an arrest unless there is video.”

According to Hoppock, some shoppers utilize their neighbors in an effort to thwart any potential theft.

“If they have the luxury of having some neighbors that don’t work or if the person knows there is going to be a delivery in a day or two, let your neighbor know,” Hoppock said. “That seems to be the best, but not everybody has that luxury.”

Howell Police Detective Sgt. Christian Antunez said thefts of this nature occur sporadically throughout the year, but increase in frequency significantly during the holiday season. He said that as of Dec. 14, police had received at least five reports of thefts of packages since Nov. 1.

“The number is likely higher because some people do not report the thefts to police. We strongly encourage residents to report any thefts to the police department,” Antunez said.

In a public awareness announcement, Howell Police Chief Andrew Kudrick said most thefts of packages occur during the afternoon and/or early evening hours.

Victims are asked to report thefts online at or call the police. In the event the person who stole the item is caught, the merchandise could be returned, Kudrick said.

“Once the item is confirmed to have been delivered and most likely stolen, call the police immediately and file a report with as much information about the theft as possible, including the number of boxes, the items stolen, the value of items stolen, carrier, the time and date of delivery,” Antunez said.

He said the Ramtown area of Howell south of Lakewood-Allenwood Road appeared to be a target for this type of illegal activity.

“We are adding extra patrols in the area to stop and identify suspicious vehicles and persons and to increase visibility. This also includes plainclothes personnel,” Antunez said, adding that the reported thefts remain under investigation.

He said police are working diligently to investigate the crimes that have occurred and to prevent future crimes.

“We encourage residents to be vigilant and to contact the police immediately if they see suspicious vehicles or people in their neighborhood. Suspicious vehicles can include vehicles driving aimlessly, very slowly, up and down the street, apparently lost, such as driving down cul-de-sacs or dead end streets, and other similar actions.

“Suspicious people can exhibit similar behavior and also include clothing meant to conceal their identity, approaching houses and then asking about lost dogs or other fictitious stories when confronted by homeowners and other similar behavior,” Antunez said. “Unfortunately, we cannot be everywhere at once, so we ask that residents bring their delivered packages inside as soon as possible to limit their exposure to thieves. We also ask that neighbors be aware of their surroundings as much as possible to protect the community and to look out for one another.” Kudrick suggested residents might want to view a “How to Protect Yourself from Package Theft and ID Fraud” article. Tips include having packages delivered at work or choosing a specific delivery time if the retailer provides such an option. Delivery alerts and a trusted neighbor to take one’s package inside for safekeeping are also advised.

“There are undesirables always looking to take advantage of you,” Kudrick said, adding that residents should be aware of their surroundings.

Manalapan Lt. Edward Niesz said the Manalapan Police Department has tips for consumers shopping online.

“We try to get people to either use one of the shipping locations to pick up there, to have the tracking devices so they know exactly when their package is going to be arriving or set up a delivery with a friend, or what a lot of people do now is have packages delivered to their place of employment,” Niesz said.

Niesz said while the problem seems to be growing nationwide, it hasn’t been that big of an issue in Manalapan.

“There is a heightened awareness about it and in our township it hasn’t been as much of a problem,” he said. “In Manalapan we haven’t seen a great increase in it as of late, it’s been sporadic here and there.”

Niesz said while it is difficult to solve crimes involving stolen packages, a lot of homeowners are now using surveillance cameras and uploading the footage to social media to help identify the perpetrators.

Michael, the supervisor of customer service for the U.S. Postal Service in Red Bank, who wouldn’t disclose his last name, said the growing theft problem began about six years ago as online shopping increased.

He said mail carriers are taught different ways to conceal packages so they are not just left in plain site.

“If they have a screen door and the package fits, a lot of times the carriers will put it in between the doors,” Michael said. “Sometimes if they have a side door, they will do something like that, but other than that there is nothing to prevent it.”

Residents are being put on notice that packages delivered to and left outside homes are a target for thieves, particularly around the holidays.

“It is getting worse and worse,” Michael said. “After Thanksgiving is when it becomes larger.

“That’s when it becomes big but it is an all year round problem.”

In a statement from United Parcel Service (UPS), which delivers an estimated 630 million packages between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve, the company has not seen an increase in package theft in recent years.

“UPS delivers about 18 million packages every day, and our data indicate that the rate of incidents involving UPS has been relatively flat over the last few years,” the statement reads. “We have procedures in place to ensure all of our packages are properly delivered.

“We alert our drivers and seasonal driver helpers to specific incidents where law enforcement has contacted us. If a customer contacts UPS to report a stolen package, UPS would work with the original shipper through our claims process to make the consumer whole.”

Board approves theater for West End School

Staff Writer

 The NJ Repertory Company was given approval by the Long Branch Planning Board to construct a 125-seat theater at the site of the former West End School.  PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LONG BRANCH SCHOOL DISTRICT The NJ Repertory Company was given approval by the Long Branch Planning Board to construct a 125-seat theater at the site of the former West End School. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LONG BRANCH SCHOOL DISTRICT LONG BRANCH—NJ Repertory Company was given the green light last week to open a second location at the West End Elementary School.

Gabor Barabas, executive director of NJ Rep, said prior to gaining site plan approval during the Dec. 15 Planning Board meeting that a theater in West End will add to the business district.

“We’ve truly been given a remarkable opportunity, a once in a lifetime chance, to turn the West End School into the West End Performing Arts Center,” Barabas said. “West End is a remarkable neighborhood and we are very excited because of the iconic businesses.

“It is the perfect place to create a cultural renaissance for the city.”

The proposal includes a 150-seat main theatre, a 35-seat rehearsal theater and a 75- seat “black box” theater for additional performances, as well as two additional movie theaters with museum and gallery space.

NJ Rep. also has plans to hold performances on the “great lawn,” which will be a crafted lawn area where the school’s athletic fields are currently located.

The West End School is a multi-story 27,000 square foot building that will be expanded an additional 20,000 square feet to accommodate NJ Rep.

NJ Rep agreed to purchase the circa- 1920s structure on West End Avenue for $2.25 million from the Long Branch School District, which closed the long-time elementary school in 2014.

Barabas said the theater company plan on beginning to put on shows in the current building this upcoming spring and construction will be done in six phases.

Barabas explained some of the programs planned for the West End Performing Arts Center.

“What we propose is building a cultural center that will serve generations to come,” Barabas said. “We plan on presenting plays, comedies, musicals, programs for children and young adults and their families, providing classes on performing arts and developing museum space.”

According to Barabas, the center will be open during the week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with performances in evening from Thursday to Saturday and matinees on Satur- day and Sunday.

NJ Rep currently is the host to about 20,000 people a year and is based at the 70- seat Lumia Theatre at 179 Broadway.

In 2014, Barabas confirmed that the theater company was looking at secondary locations. He said the preference was always to open a second location in Long Branch.

Barabas said NJ Rep has a reputation that will lead to success in the second location.

“Although there were some difficult times at the beginning, we gradually built a successful theater,” he said. “In 18 years, we produced over 100 plays.”

NJ Rep currently produces about six shows, hosts about 25 readings of new plays in development and holds classes in playwriting for adults and children.

Barabas, who founded the theater company with his wife, SuzAnne Barabas, the company’s artistic director, said the intent has always been to expand the theater to a larger, or secondary, location on Broadway.

The theater on lower Broadway is located within the city’s Broadway Arts redevelopment zone, which previously included plans for an expansive arts district, retail space and residential areas along lower Broadway. However, due to litigation and foreclosure proceedings involving the developer, the plans have not materialized.

Flash drive supports U.S. troops

Monmouth County’s constitutional officers want to make certain that American military personnel who are serving overseas are not forgotten during the holidays.

Clerk Christine Hanlon, Sheriff Shaun Golden, Acting Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni and Surrogate Rosemarie Peters have kicked off a flash and food drive in support of troops stationed overseas, according to a press release.

Four collection sites are accepting donations now through Dec. 20. The collection sites are:

 Monmouth County Clerk’s Office, 33 Mechanic St., Freehold, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

 Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office: 2500 Kozloski Road, Freehold, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

 Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office: 132 Jerseyville Ave, Freehold, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

 Monmouth County Connection: 3544 Route 66, Neptune, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

After the collection of items has concluded, representatives of American Recreational Military Service (ARMS) and Operation Gratitude will deliver them, according to the press release.

Items that would be appreciated include flash drives, non-perishable food (particularly microwaveable food), canned goods, prepackaged dinners, ready-to-eat meals, popcorn, oatmeal, fruit snacks, cracker packs, cookie packs, trail mix, bottles of water, candy, pudding cups, granola bars, tuna pouches, chicken salad quick meals, tuna salad quick meals, raisins and beef jerky.

“Our military men and women who defend our country and sacrifice for our freedom every day deserve the utmost appreciation. As a way of saying thank you, we will be collecting flash drives, as well as nonperishable foods, to send to those brave men and women overseas,” Hanlon said.

Builder looks west, slightly, to construct 181 apartments

Staff Writer

After a run of proposals along the oceanfront, a developer has come forward with a plan for the west side of Ocean Boulevard in Long Branch.

James Monteforte, architect for Ocean Gate Apartments LLC, said the proposal to construct 181 apartment-style units on the corner of Cooper Avenue and Ocean Boulevard will coincide with much of the development along the oceanfront being proposed in recent years.

“It is a very large piece of property, and we are hoping we can kick off the west side of Ocean Boulevard and get something going on the west side of the street,” he said. “Everything has been happening on the ocean side of the street.”

Monteforte said that the 181 units would be rentals. These are all going to be owned and cared for by the developer. According to Monteforte, 373 parking spaces will be provided, about 10 more than required by city ordinances.

He said the majority of the parking would be provided with an underground structured parking deck, as well as 24 surface spaces and seven additional street parking spaces.

The Ocean Gate proposal is the first project presented to the council on the west side of Ocean Boulevard in recent months. This proposal comes after a string of beachfront condominium, single-family homes and townhouse projects have been proposed in the last year.

Ocean Gate Apartments is a subsidiary of REDEV Group, a Colts Neck-based firm that has developed more than 4,000 residential units across New Jersey including in Bound Brook and Franklin Township.

Arc celebrates 30 years of matching clients to jobs

Staff Writer

TINTON FALLS — For 30 years, the Arc of Monmouth County’s Employment Services has helped individuals with disabilities to find gainful employment.

Thea Strong, the director of employment services, said the organization recently eclipsed the anniversary in October and formally celebrated the achievement earlier this month.

She said over the course of 30 years, the 200 clients regularly served have benefited greatly.

“We assist adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities in finding and gaining employment and then maintaining employment,” Strong said. “The issue truly is finding the perfect job match for these individuals so they can be independently employed in the community.

“We have a support in place through our job coaches to help them with that.”

Strong said one of the main goals of the center is to match the job and the individual.

“It all comes down to what you would like,” Strong said.

“Would you like to work in an office, would you like to work in retail, would you like to work in food services, would you like to work in a hotel, and that is how we find the jobs that match their abilities and skills.”

Strong said the main components of the employment center are identifying job matches for clients and assisting with job training in an effort to increase the chance of success.

She said there is also a follow-up portion of the work done at the employment center.

“The main component truly is to find the perfect job match,” Strong said.

“The problems that they sometimes have because of their disabilities, could be changes in the workplace or co-workers who have some conflicts or a difference in job descriptions. That’s when we step back in.”

She also said some clients completely graduate from the program.

“The follow-up is we assess and see how independent they become,” Strong said. “Some people completely graduate from the program because they have been so well integrated and so well accepted in their jobs.

“Most of the people benefit from us being there in case there is a bump in the road.”

The Arc’s Employment Center currently operates out of the Freehold Raceway Mall, with a second location in Red Bank.

Strong said recently Meridian Health and the United Way of Monmouth County have also occupied space at the mall, and the three organizations are working collaboratively in providing services.

Strong also said the employment services center will continue to help the individuals in the program.

“These people really make an enormous impact and a lot of employers are starting to see the benefits,” she said. “We are very proud of the people who have made it such a success.”

In 1985, The Arc of Monmouth received a grant to pilot a revolutionary project that would help people with disabilities find work in the community.

The Arc of Monmouth is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, annually serving more than 1,400 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities through education, vocational training, residential services, behavioral healthcare, supported employment, recreation, individual and family supports, self-directed services and advocacy.

To learn more, please call (732) 493- 1919 or visit

Awards open to people with disabilities

VSA New Jersey (VSA/NJ), a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the creative power of people with disabilities, is accepting applications for the 2016 Arts Achievement Awards through Jan. 22.

The annual VSA/NJ Arts Achievement Awards include the Student Arts Excellence Awards, presented to students with special needs (mainstreamed, inclusion, self-contained classes or activities), 14 – 21 years old, not to exceed the 12th grade level, who show outstanding achievement in and commitment to an art form.

The Education in the Arts Awards are presented to outstanding educators and administrators for establishing high quality arts programs for students with special needs. The awards also recognize individuals who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to arts education for students with special needs.

Award recipients become candidates for the distinguished NJ Governor’s Awards in Arts Education.

For applications, contact VSA New Jersey at 703 Jersey Ave., New Brunswick, 08901; call 732-745-3885 or 732-745-3913 (TTY); or email


 Brookdale Community College’s Caitlin Conroy (45) shoots the ball over Ocean County College defender April Szymczyk during a Dec. 10 game played in the Collins Arena in Lincroft, home of the BCC women’s basketball team. The Jersey Blues won the game, 64-53.  STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR Brookdale Community College’s Caitlin Conroy (45) shoots the ball over Ocean County College defender April Szymczyk during a Dec. 10 game played in the Collins Arena in Lincroft, home of the BCC women’s basketball team. The Jersey Blues won the game, 64-53. STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR

Long Branch man charged with killing woman

LONG BRANCH — A city man has been arrested and charged with the murder of a Long Branch woman, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.

Christopher “Chato” Aparicio-Reyes, 21, was charged on Dec. 14 with one count of first-degree murder for the death of Jennifer Pizzuto.

Pizzuto, 40, was found dead on Dec. 13 in a second-floor bedroom at 140 Rockwell Ave. after Long Branch police responded to a 10:38 p.m. call reporting the discovery of the unresponsive female.

A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Long Branch Police Department led to the arrest of Aparicio-Reyes Monday after he was found inside a 6th Avenue apartment, where he was taken into custody without incident.

Aparicio-Reyes is being held in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution, Freehold Township, on $1 million bail with no option to post 10 percent, as set by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Honora O’Brien Kilgallen.

Kilgallen also ordered Aparicio-Reyes not to return to the scene of the crime, if he were to be released on bail.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Ryu Washburne, of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at 800-533-7443 or Detective Marshall Brown, of the Long Branch Police Department, at 732-222-1000.

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Matthews.

This is the second murder investigation to take place in Long Branch in 2015.

In September the deaths of four members of a Long Branch family, including two young children, were ruled a murder/suicide by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.