Red Bank board opposes charter school expansion

By MICHAEL NUNES
Staff Writer

With the Red Bank Charter School (RBCS) seeking to double its enrollment, the Red Bank School District has petitioned the state to refuse the expansion.

“I would like to express my own personal opposition to the expansion. The expansion proposal would certainly lead to a significant tax increase as well as a multitude of budget cuts that would be devastating,” said Superintendent of Schools Jared Rumage at the Dec. 15 Board of Education meeting.

On Dec. 17, parents organized a presentation about the effect the charter school would have on the district.

According to Rumage, who spoke at the presentation, there were roughly 450 people in attendance at the Red Bank Middle School auditorium.

“I am not opposed to the Red Bank Charter School. … The size they are is fine, it doesn’t need an expansion,” said Wayne Wolley who along with several other parents organized the event.

Red Bank Charter School, which currently has an enrollment of around 200 students, has requested the Department of Education to allow it to expand to 400 students on Dec. 1.

If approved, the charter school, which consists of grade levels K-8, would increase from one to two classes at each grade level. The plan for expansion would be completed in the 2018-19 school year, according to a press release sent from the school.

According to Wolley, the expansion would have “drastic” effects on how the district operates.

“I believe it’s going to raise property taxes. It will force the district to cut teaching positions at the primary and middle school along with sports, music and extracurricular activities,” said Wolley, who says that adding students at RBCS would take more money out of the district.

According to David Block, RBCS business administrator, the school received $1.8 million in funding from the district along with another $1.2 million directly from the state. For Wolley, who has daughters attending district schools, the last thing he wants is for more money to be taken out of the district.

“I wouldn’t send my daughters to the schools in Red Bank if I didn’t think they were good schools. I don’t want the schools to be under-funded,” he said.

Rumage appreciates the support that he received from parents who attended the event:

“I was overwhelmed and very appreciative of the support. I think it says a lot about the great things we are doing here in the district,” said Rumage, also stating that a petition to halt the expansion had around 500 signatures by the end of the night to be sent to state education Commissioner David Hespe.

“The Board of Education and I are resolute in our opposition, we do not think [the expansion] is in the best interest of the children in the district,” said Rumage.

At the district board meeting, members passed a resolution stating their opposition to the RBCS expansion. The resolution passed unanimously. Board President Ben Forest and Janet Jones where absent from the meeting.

According to RBCS principal Meredith Pennotti, increased enrollment at the charter school would be a boon for Red Bank children.

“Red Bank Charter School growth is in fact a shared public priority, and choice in education is a family preference in Red Bank. The RBCS wait list average is 112 candidates over three years. As an academically highperforming Tier 1 school, RBCS could influence a substantial shift to greater achievement for a significant number of children in the town of Red Bank,” Pennotti said in a press release.

“We would like to see parents who want to choose the charter school have the opportunity. … The only reason we exist is because people choose this school,” she said in an interview.

“Our school is capped at such a low number, what drives our expansion is demand,” she continued.

For Pennotti, she is not surprised by the reaction of both the district and parents.

“We anticipated some discord. … Whenever you challenge the status quo, you get some reaction,” she said, also stating that she predicts hardships for both the district as well as the charter school.

“It won’t be without hardship, for all of us.”

Red Bank Charter School was founded in 1998.

The district board of education governs two schools in the district, Red Bank Primary and Red Bank Middle School. During the 2014-15 school year, 1,224 students attended district schools.

Contact Michael Nunes at mnunes@gmnews.com.

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.

Environmental panel to have say in park design

By MICHAEL NUNES
Staff Writer

The designs for Bellhaven, a park planned for the west side of the borough, have been put in the hands of the Red Bank Environmental Commission (EC).

In keeping with the educational and environmental focus of the park, which is located at the foot of Locust Avenue along the Swimming River, Councilwoman and Parks and Recreation Committee liaison Linda Schwabenbauer said the borough’s Parks and Recreation Committee would help design plans.

“The goal this time around is to start here,” said Schwabenbauer at the Dec. 8 EC meeting.

Members of the Red Bank Environmental Commission were relieved that they would have a say in the design plans for the park.

“We’ve seen so far what T&M [the borough’s engineering firm] has given to us as far as what a proposal would be, and it’s never been anything that has jibed with what we thought would work,” said Frank Corrado, a member of the EC, who added that within the commission there are members who have design experience.

“I think now, a main component here is, which we want to be a part of, is the general design and direction of where to go. It’s no longer going to be ‘What is T&M going to give us?’ It’s, ‘This is an environmentally sensitive area, here’s something that is a pre-approved plan by the Environmental Commission’,” said Corrado, who expressed relief that the commission would have a say in the project.

Schwabenbauer responded to Corrado’s comments.

“I think that, if the EC had been involved at the outset last time around, we could have avoided so much of this debacle,” Schwabenbauer said, referring to criticism over a proposed water feature in the original proposal.

Bellhaven was to be funded through a $250,000 matching grant from Monmouth County. The original plans in the grant proposal called for playground equipment and a water feature. According to Schwabenbauer, at a meeting among representatives from the DEP, the borough’s engineering firm, and a representative from the EC, the group had a “brain wave” to take the $150,000 that had originally been slated for the construction of the water feature and do something “radically different.”

“The thing is, we had this brain wave, too late, to take advantage of the existing grant, and they won’t give us an extension,” said Schwabenbauer.

Due to new plans for the park being different from those in the original grant proposal, Schwabenbauer said she would write a letter to the grant commission to rescind the proposal.

“We are voluntarily allowing the grant to lapse because we have decided that a significant change to the plans would be more appropriate given the wants and needs of the community,” she said.

The chances of the borough being considered for the grant again after they let it lapse, would not be bad, Schwabenbauer said.

“When I explained to him, that we had this compelling reason and what we wanted to do was to integrate the environment and provide an access point into a nature preserve to allow children and adults of the community to really go in and experience it without disturbing it, it’s really a unique opportunity. … The guy I spoke with at the Monmouth Open Space Grant Committee understood that, and he said if you can sell it with that much passion, the odds are really good,” she said.

According to Schwabenbauer, the deadline for the grant is September 2016.

Contact Michael Nunes at mnunes@gmnews.com.

Clients have found caring touch for 30 years

By JENNIFER ORTIZ
Staff Writer

 Lucy Melillo is the second-generation owner of Wig Illusions, Manalapan, which offers products to individuals who are battling diseases that result in hair loss.  JENNIFER ORTIZ/STAFF Lucy Melillo is the second-generation owner of Wig Illusions, Manalapan, which offers products to individuals who are battling diseases that result in hair loss. JENNIFER ORTIZ/STAFF A second-generation family business is marking 30 years of service to individuals who are battling diseases that result in hair loss.

Wig Illusions, in the Summerton Plaza, Route 9, Manalapan, was founded by Elizabeth (Betty) Melillo, who lived in Manalapan for more than 40 years. Melillo died in October 2014.

The business is now owned by Betty’s daughter-in-law, Lucy Melillo, who has owned Wig Illusions since 2006 after working for her mother-in-law for seven years.

As she marks the business’s 30 years of operation, Lucy Melillo recalled how Betty, who was a wig stylist her entire life, founded Wig Illusions in space at Kilmer Plaza, Marlboro.

“It was a chair, a shower curtain and everything was ordered by mail,” Melillo said. “She needed a little help washing and setting wigs. … So when I was home with (my) babies, I would do that work for her.

“As soon as my youngest child went into preschool, I started coming in and learning the business. I worked an apprenticeship with her for many years … that’s how I learned,” Melillo said.

In 2006, Betty decided to retire from the business she had founded 21 years earlier.

“She gave me the option of buying the business. I was very scared because I didn’t know the business aspects,” Melillo said, adding that she had lost her sister and mother to cancer in 2005.

“It was super tough for me. … Did I want to stay in the cancer field? Because I suffered for a year with my sister and as soon as my sister passed away my mom got diagnosed and passed away five months later. I was so saddened, but I decided the women here, the rewards I get from my job, are (worth it),” Melillo said.

With support from her husband, Gerald, she took a leap of faith and became the owner of Wig Illusions.

“I decided to start working by appointment to see how that would work out. Walkins are welcome, but this isn’t a place people are going to walk into unless it’s someone looking for extensions and things like that,” Melillo said.

Melillo said when Wig Illusions opened, it did not primarily cater to people who were losing their hair during a battle with cancer and other illnesses.

“Because of illnesses that make your hair come out, we saw it was very important that we move to a private location to give people personalized and private rooms,” Melillo said.

She said her relationships with her clients are very meaningful and helped her make the decision to become the owner of Wig Illusions. “I’ve cried, I’ve laughed, I’ve hugged, I’ve gone to people’s houses. Some of these women are fighting for their lives,” she said.

Client Marie Pellicone said it is that compassion that has made Wig Illusions a success.

“Lucy takes care of all of her clients … She takes the time and she has the understanding for people’s needs. … Whether it is medical or just a beauty aspect, people come from all over to be with her because she’s that good at what she does, and it’s the human feeling that comes across from her that makes the difference,” Pellicone said. The process starts with an appointment and a free consultation. Melillo’s advice to individuals coming in for a wig for fashion reasons is to cut out pictures of the look they would like to achieve. Her advice to people facing the prospect of hair loss is not to wait.

“A lot of times, for my chemo people, doctors will say, ‘you’re only going to thin, you’ll be OK,’ and they come in here crying because their hair is coming out.

“For anybody who is going to go through chemotherapy, I recommend that before they start treatment, they make an appointment; that is very important. Sooner is better than later. If they come to me (before treatment), they will have everything prepared,” Melillo said.

Items available at Wig Illusions include head coverings, hats, scarves, sleep caps, turbans, wig spray and more. All wig services are offered on premises.

Melillo said her clients are her top priority.

“I think about what happened to me before I took over the business, with caring for my sister and caring for my mother. When people walk in, I know exactly what they are thinking, what they are feeling, their emotions, because I have been through it,” she said. “If I can make you look good and you can feel good, I’ve done my job.”

Wig Illusions may be reached at 732- 431-9629.

Red Bank picks new parks & rec director

By MICHAEL NUNES
Staff Writer

RED BANK – After several months, the Red Bank Parks and Recreation Department has a director.

At the borough council meeting that was held on Dec. 2, members unanimously voted to instate Charlie Hoffmann as director of the borough’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Hoffman looks forward to bringing in activities that not only focus on children, but adult themed recreation.

“I come from a school of diversified recreation where you add life enrichment type programs and are also in a state of perpetual improvement,” said Hoffmann.

“We’re looking to add some programs that aren’t always geared towards children, someone that’s your age, my age or folks who are older, so not everything is geared towards to the youth serving

For Hoffmann, moving to the borough was something he has had in mind for a while.

“Being next door in Fair Haven, I always had my eye on Red Bank. It’s an easy town to like and I felt like I got a great report with the leadership when I was interviewing,” he said.

Hoffman received support from council members who spoke to his qualifications for the position.

“One of the wonderful things that really impressed us about Charlie was the creativity. The stories he was able to tell…who does fashion camp for Kindergarteners,” joked Councilwoman and Parks and recreation liaison Linda Schwabenbauer.

Councilman Edward Zipprich also spoke that he was pleased to have Hoffmann as director.

“Charlie is a very enthusiastic interviewer and has a great enthusiasm for parks and rec. We are very happy to have him,” said Zipprich, who interviewed Hoffman along with Schwabenbauer and Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels.

Hoffman, a graduate of Costal Carolina University, says that working in recreation has been a life long goal of his.

“This is what I’m meant to do. What I’ve wanted to do since I was 11 years old was work in recreation and it’s a town that I have been in love with for years,” said Hoffman.

The last Parks and Recreation Director was Memone Crystian, who left the position in May. Since then, Tamila Bumback had served in the role as acting director of Parks and Recreation. Bumback has left the borough and is presently working in Rumson.

Contact Michael Nunes at mnunes@gmnews.com.