Package theft a concern

By JENNIFER ORTIZ and KENNY WALTER
Staff Writers

 STAFF PHOTGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR STAFF PHOTGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR 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 www.howellpolice.org 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 www.travelers.com “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.”

Delivery tips

 If you are not going to be home, have your packages delivered to work, a neighbor’s or relative’s house

 Have your package delivered to a local store for pick-up

 Track your package so you can be notified when a package arrives

 Pick up the package from the delivery company’s closest facility

 Ask the shipper to require a signature confirmation for delivery

 Give the delivery company instructions where packages can be left out of sight from the road

Rumson Garden Club spreads ‘holly day’ cheer

 Christmas Greens co-chair Liz Dusko, left to right, Rumson Garden Club President Diane Guidone and Christmas Greens co-chair Angela Benin proudly display some of the wreaths donated to local non-profits this year.  PHOTO COURTESY OF RUMSON GARDEN CLUB Christmas Greens co-chair Liz Dusko, left to right, Rumson Garden Club President Diane Guidone and Christmas Greens co-chair Angela Benin proudly display some of the wreaths donated to local non-profits this year. PHOTO COURTESY OF RUMSON GARDEN CLUB RUMSON — For more than 80 years, the Rumson Garden Club (RGC) has held its annual Christmas Green Workshop to spread holiday cheer and help local not-for-profits deck their halls.

Since its inception in 1930, the workshop’s boughs of holly, boxwood, magnolia, pine and spruce are clipped from members’ properties and brought to Bingham Hall. There, members gather to create evergreen centerpieces, embellish wreaths and stuff candy into bags to herald the start of the holiday season.

The wreaths, table pieces and candy bags are ferried to local not-for-profits. This year, the organizations included Parker Family Clinic, Love Inc., Monmouth Historical Society, John Montgomery House, History House, King James Care Center, Meridian Health Care Center, Rumson Borough Hall, Oceanic Public Library, Lunch Break, St. Marks Keansburg Center for Community Renewal and the Boys & Girls Clubs in Asbury Park and Red Bank.

“It’s my favorite RGC activity,” said Nancy Dickson, a member of 50 years, about the annual workshop held the first Saturday of every December. “It’s so worthwhile and a wonderful way for members to get together and give back to the community. It’s a great feeling to give to others.”

In addition, this year the Christmas Greens volunteers created 100 small arrangements for the meal trays for Red Bank Area Meals on Wheels clients.

“It’s a joy to create just a little holiday cheer for those who are unable to leave their homes during the season,” said coordinator Jan Glass.

“There is so much creativity, talent, camaraderie and good spirits to go around,” said Angela Bennink, who co-chairs the event with Liz Dusko. “It’s great fun to be a part of Christmas Green Workshop and know that everything you do will bring a smile to someone’s face.”

For more information, visit wwww.rumsongardenclub.org.

Former mayor brings brewery to Tinton Falls

By KENNY WALTER
Staff Writer

TINTON FALLS — Thirsty beer drinkers may soon be able to enjoy a stout, lager and other craft beer offerings in the borough.

Former mayor Michael Skudera, along with Tinton Falls resident Pete Artherholt and Red Bank resident Chris Hanigan, is set to open Jughandle Brewing Company this spring.

“Peter and Chris have made some of the best craft beer that I have ever tasted,” Skudera said. “We got similar reactions from others who have tried their beer as well, and this encouraged us to create Jughandle Brewing Company.

“We are passionate about creating quality craft beer for our customers to enjoy. We are excited to be Tinton Falls’ first craft brewery and are looking forward to opening next spring.”

The trio will operate a 3,000-square-foot brewery in the Tinton Falls Centre Plaza at 4057 Asbury Ave.

Skudera said the group considered several different locations before finally settling on Tinton Falls.

“We figured that was a good location with a lot of high traffic,” he said.

Artherholt, a former chemist with 15 years of brewing experience, said in a press release that the brewery will begin with a few offerings and will quickly expand.

“We will offer six craft beers on tap and plan on expanding to 14,” he said. “Having a strong science background will help drive consistency and quality control in the craft beers that we sell.”

Skudera said some of the initial offerings would include a stout, IPA, brown ale and hefeweizen.

“We are trying to have a wide variety to appeal to different tastes,” he said. “Not everybody has the same taste, so we are trying to have a very inclusive, very diverse menu of craft beer.”

Hanigan said the beer would include local produce.

“Our craft beers will be made using natural and high quality ingredients, and we are looking to use local products when in season,” he said.

The Tinton Falls brewery joins a growing list of breweries that have opened in recent years along the Jersey Shore. These include Beach Haus Brewery in Belmar, Belford Brewing in Middletown, Carton Brewing in Atlantic Highlands, Kane Brewing Company in Ocean Township and Little Dog Brewing in Neptune City.

“Around 2012 … they changed the law to allow breweries to be built in New Jersey,” Skudera said. “Before then it was very difficult.

“There’s been a lot of new breweries come on the scene, but still per capita we are number 48. We are getting better, but we are still nowhere near New York or Pennsylvania. There is still a lot of room for growth.”

Skudera said allowing more breweries will create more jobs, allow more commerce and generate more sales tax revenues, which benefit the local economy.

However, under state law, Skudera said Jughandle would not be permitted to serve food on site without obtaining a full liquor license at a significantly increased cost.

Under its current license, Jughandle will be able to sell beer on-site, as well as distribute beer to local bars and liquor stores.

Free tours of the brewery will also be offered.

“We’ll have free tours, people will be able to learn about the brewing process,” Skudera said.

Another component of the brewery might be a partnership with other local businesses.

“We’ve definitely talked about this, we do plan on partnering with a bunch of local organizations,” Skudera said. “We want to have products … in season, whether it is honey or whatever we are looking at.”

Skudera also said the Jughandle name is a play on the familiar traffic pattern often ridiculed in other states.

“It is kind of unique, the Jersey jughandle, but also the jug when you go to fill your growler up,” he said. “So it has a double meaning and it is a nice, unique name for a unique beer.”

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

Cancer care center rising in Middletown

By KAYLA J. MARSH
Staff Writer

Residents of Monmouth County will soon have easier access to cutting-edge cancer care, treatments and medicines when Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center opens a new 304,000-square-foot outpatient treatment facility in Middletown in December 2016.

“Construction at the site is currently underway,” said Richard Barakat, deputy physician-in-chief for MSK Regional Care Network and Cancer Alliance. “All the mechanical equipment is in place, the duct work and utilities have been installed, more lighting is being put in for patients … and now we are really focusing on the redesign of the interior space.”

MSK Monmouth will be situated on a 40-acre property at 480 Red Hill Road off Garden State Parkway exit 114.

The Red Hill Road property was home to a three-story, 285,000-square-foot office building last occupied by Lucent Technologies a decade ago.

“What we did was looked at the areas where a significant number of our patients come from,” Barakat said. “This is an area where approximately seven percent of our patients travel to the city from, and this building was available, was large, could be fitted out very well for medical purposes [and] was in a fantastic location being right off the Garden State Parkway.”

When doors open in December, 2016, patients from Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean counties and other surrounding communities with different cancers such as lymphoma, breast, lung, colon and gynecological cancers, will have access to the most advanced care under one roof.

MSK physicians and nurses will provide services ranging from chemotherapy, radiation oncology, diagnostic and interventional radiology, ambulatory surgery and endoscopy, social work, nutrition and genetics counseling and other support and survivorship services.

“The unique thing is that this is the first site we will be performing outpatient surgery,” Barakat said. “Surgical consultations can be done here, and we will have the tools and the resources to perform minor operations here.”

Barakat said the advantage of having a centrally located site like this is that patients who might have undergone major surgery at the center’s city location may need further treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy, which can make you sick and tired.

He said the central location is making it more convenient for patients and puts less of a strain on their bodies, and on family members.

“The incidence of cancer in and around Monmouth County is expected to increase by 17 percent over the next 10 years,” he said. “This is due in part to population growth and the success of screening programs at detecting new cancers, as well as to the rising median age of the population.”

Barakat said that by MSK Monmouth employing more than 800 clinical trials, new techniques and treatments could be found to combat cancers.

“At MSK we are constantly working to expand the clinical trials to increase the spectrum of studies we’ve gone through and to give us the best outcome and make novel treatments available to our patients,” he said.

The building that will house the center — which was approved by the Middletown Township Planning Board in January 2013 — is currently undergoing renovations to also accommodate more than 120,000 square feet of clinical space, according to Barakat.

Extra room will be used to also create a 50,000-square-foot data center, which will house research, health records and other digital information under one roof.

“This is about doing what’s best for the patients and seeing how to make it more convenient for them, and we look forward to bringing the care to them, making it more local and more patient-friendly,” Barakat said.

Red Bank extends parking moratorium into New Year

By MICHAEL NUNES
Staff Writer

RED BANK — Business owners applauded the extension of the borough’s parking moratorium, with some calling for an even greater extension.

“The important thing is we have to tell people that Red Bank is still open for business,” said Mayor Pasquale Menna as the Borough Council moved to extend the moratorium for another 90 days.

The moratorium, which has been in effect in the borough since 2010, will continue to excuse business owners from paying a fee for having an insufficient number of parking spaces.

According to RiverCenter Executive Director James Scavone, when a business opens in Red Bank, the borough decides how much parking it needs to provide. Businesses lacking sufficient spaces would be required to pay a fee. Under the policy, the fee is waived.

The move was applauded by Scavone, executive director of Red Bank River- Center, during public comments.

“While we very much appreciate the 90-day extension, I would just like to say that I hope you all realize the wonderful impact the moratorium has had on the downtown. I would say if there was one thing we had to single out that really helped the revitalization of Red Bank and really helped moved us forward, I would say it really has been the moratorium,” he said.

RiverCenter is a nonprofit established in 1991 to promote and recruit businesses in the borough as well as hold events.

“We are the envy of so many municipalities in New Jersey because of what we have been able to do,” Scavone continued.

Scavone also asked to council to reconsider the time frame.

“We don’t have huge developers like other municipalities have, we just have a group of property owners, so it’s things like the moratorium that really give us our advantage or our edge,” he said.

Scavone thanked Councilman Michael DuPont, who called for a one-year extension of the moratorium.

“It’s been hugely positive for the town. It’s allowed development to really come into Red Bank. … When a small business is opening, most often they are very strapped for cash, there’s very little room for fees. They are usually investing their lives into this business,” said Scavone.

“By putting a moratorium on these parking fees, which can be exorbitant, it really has allowed smaller business to develop in Red Bank,” he said, stating that fees could run as high as $100,000.

According to Scavone, after the 2008 financial crash, the moratorium helped provide relief for struggling business owners as well as bring businesses into downtown.

“Following the economic crisis, in 2011 and 2012 we really saw a resurgence in the revitalization of downtown. It’s really been policies like the moratorium that has let that happen,” he said.

Extending the policy will fall to the new council, which will see two new faces on the dais.

The new members of the council will be Michael Whelan and Mark Taylor, who replace three-term councilman DuPont and Sharon Lee, who was appointed earlier this year to fill a vacant council seat.

Contact Michael Nunes at mnunes@gmnews.com.

Nurse from Little Silver recognized by March of Dimes

LITTLE SILVER — The March of Dimes New Jersey chapter honored Little Silver resident Rebecca Norton from CentraState Healthcare System in Freehold as the 2015 March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Award in the Surgical Services category.

Through Nurse of the Year Awards, the March of Dimes recognizes nurses who demonstrate exceptional patient care, compassion, and service. Whether serving as a health care provider, educator, researcher, or chapter volunteer/advisor, these nurses have played a critical role in improving the health of New Jersey’s mothers and babies.

Norton is a registered nurse in the operating room at CentraState Healthcare System. She was part of starting a post-operative timeout program that tracks specimens, wound class, diagnosis, plus room and equipment issues; has achieved large improvements in her unit of the goal to reduce immediate use steam sterilization; and partnered with a surgeon to rewrite the hospital’s website on robotic surgery, according to a statement prepared by the March of Dimes.

She developed and is currently conducting a study comparing postoperative pain levels between patients undergoing robotic single site gallbladder removal versus traditional laparoscopic gallbladder removal.

“We could not do the work of the March of Dimes without the passion and commitment of our nurses. This is our opportunity to show them how special they truly are,” said Allie Hall, Central Division executive director for the New Jersey chapter of the March of Dimes.

New Jersey award recipients were announced at a special awards gala on Nov. 18 at the Pines Manor in Edison.

More than 196 nurses were nominated in 19 different award categories. At the event there were 115 finalists who represented 48 hospitals and healthcare facilities.

The event raised over $90,000 to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

Decline in horseshoe crabs concerns Bayshore council

By MICHAEL NUNES
Staff Writer

KEYPORT — This year has seen a sharp decrease in horseshoe crabs monitored at five area beaches, according to the Joseph Reynolds of the Bayshore Regional Watershed Council.

“We found out that the horseshoe crab population is declining, and primarily female crabs are declining,” said Reynolds, who is the co-chair of the council.

According to a report by the council, only 828 horseshoe crabs were monitored in 2015, the lowest in the group’s seven years of monitoring. Over the past seven years, the group had averaged 1,788 crabs a year.

“A lot of it has to do with the weather, we really got slammed hard with it this year, but also a big part of it is they’re taking a lot of crabs out. New York State still has horseshoe crab harvesting going on … and it’s impacting our monitoring efforts here in Raritan Bay and Sandy Hook Bay,” said Reynolds, who estimates that New York took out over 200,000 crabs this year.

According to data recorded by the council, for every female crab the council monitored, there were about 20 males. According to Reynolds, female crabs are sought after in New York as bait due to the fact they tend to be bigger than males and their eggs can also serve as bait for eels.

The council, along with volunteers, monitors the horseshoe crabs at five area beaches.

Those beaches are Plum Island at Sandy Hook Gateway National Recreation Area, Many Mind Creek in the Borough of Atlantic Highlands, Leonardo Beach in Middletown Township, Conaskonk Point in the Borough of Union Beach and Cliffwood Beach in Aberdeen Township.

The council and its volunteers count and tag the crabs twice in May and twice in June. The dates correspond with the full and new moon, which is the height of spawning for the crabs.

Horseshoe crabs are vital to the shore’s ecosystem, and the news that there are fewer females could prove harmful.

“Horseshoe crabs are important because they provide food. Their eggs are very fatty and nutritious, so they provide food for migratory shore birds that come all the way from South America. [They] stop here to feed on those fatty eggs and get enough energy to continue up to the Arctic and start the next generation of shorebirds,” he said.

“If we lose those horseshoe crab eggs, we not only lose the horseshoe crabs but we lose shorebirds, which have been doing the same thing for thousands and thousands of years,” he continued.

The blood of the horseshoe crab is also prized in medical research to test vaccines.

“Anything that gets into your body has to get tested for contamination. That used to get tested on rabbits that would die in the process. Now it’s tested on horseshoe crab blood,” said Reynolds, who added that the crabs get their blood drained and most survive the process.

Reynolds believes education can help reverse the trend.

“We need to educate people about horseshoe crabs, on both sides of the bay, because a lot of people don’t know how important these crabs are,” he said.

For Reynolds, there is a danger that the crabs could go extinct.

“Here’s a species that has been around 350 to 400 million years and they’re in danger of being lost,” he said, noting that horseshoe crabs are already in danger in the Pacific due to overdevelopment.

Contact Michael Nunes at mnunes@gmnews.com.

A Christmas Carol

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 PHOTO COURTESY OF PLAYHOUSE 22 PHOTO COURTESY OF PLAYHOUSE 22 Playhouse 22 presents its 20th annual production of Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol” 8 p.m. Fridays, 4 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, through Dec. 20 at the East Brunswick Community Arts Center, 721 Cranbury Road.

Fred Dennehy returns as Ebenezer Scrooge. The rest of the cast includes Peter Reimann as the Ghost of Jacob Marley, Jacqueline Master as the Spirit of Christmas Past, Christopher Rowland as the Spirit of Christmas Present and Samuel Moffett as Tiny Tim. The production is adapted and directed by Tony Adase.

All tickets cost $15 and are available online at Playhouse22.org, by calling the box office at 732-254-3939, or at the box office window.

A dessert reception for current and former cast and crew members is set for 6 p.m. Dec. 19 at the theater. For more information on the event, email info@playhouse22.org.

Photo

 FRANK GALIPO FRANK GALIPO Kathleen Bayer (left), T.J. Foderaro and Sammie, a four-month-old Yellow Lab, play on the beach at Victory Park in Rumson on a warm Sunday, Dec. 13.