Honoring America in the NFL

 PHOTO COURTESY OF MANALAPAN POLICE DEPARTMENT PHOTO COURTESY OF MANALAPAN POLICE DEPARTMENT The Manalapan Police Department Honor Guard presented the state and national colors prior the Dec. 13 NFL football game between the New York Jets and the Tennessee Titans at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford. The honor guard members have opened three NFL games in the past two seasons — two for the Jets and one for the New York Giants. Pictured, left to right, are Sgt Rich Gallo, Lt. Kevin Dobbin, Patrolman Phil Accatatta, Patrolman Matt Meyler and Sgt Robert Herring. Police Chief Chris Marsala expressed his pride in having the members of the honor guard representing the residents of Manalapan, the Township Committee and the police department.

Two more suspects charged in 2011 murder, home invasions

A female resident of Manalapan and a male resident of Neptune have been charged for their respective roles in three 2011 home invasion robberies, including one home invasion that led to the murder of a Freehold Township resident, Monmouth County Acting Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced.

Ranu Sinha, 36, of Manalapan, and Ellis W. Goodson, 38, of Neptune, are each charged with three counts of first degree robbery, one count of first degree felony murder, two counts of second degree unlawful possession of a weapon, two counts of third degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and one count of fourth degree possession of an imitation firearm, according to a press release.

Sinha and Goodson were charged on Dec. 23 and in an initial appearance before state Superior Court Judge Joseph Oxley they were formally served with the criminal charges and entered pleas of not guilty to those charges, according to the prosecutor’s office.

A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Freehold Township, Howell and Neptune Township police departments led to the arrests of Sinha and Goodson. The Manalapan Police Department assisted in the arrests of Sinha and Goodson last week.

Sinha and Goodson are charged as accomplices to Jeffrey Mayhue, 52, and Richard Busby, 58, both of Newark, in connection with three home invasion robberies at residences in Howell, Freehold Township and Neptune Township.

Michael Conway was murdered at his Jackson Mills Road residence in Freehold Township during the course of the home invasion spree that took place between May 14, 2011 and Sept. 8, 2011. During the first home invasion robbery that occurred at a residence on Brickyard Road, Howell, Mayhue allegedly entered the residence with a handgun, bound the occupants and stole a large sum of money. Sinha and Goodson are being charged as accomplices to those crimes, according to Gramiccioni.

The second event occurred on July 31, 2011, when Sinha, Goodson, Mayhue and Busby allegedly committed the home invasion robbery and murder of Conway. Mayhue and Busby were armed with a handgun and looking for money when they entered Conway’s home and discovered it was occupied by their would-be victim and his girlfriend during the early morning hours of July 31, 2011.

Mayhue and Busby allegedly killed Conway, set fire to the house and fled the scene. Conway’s girlfriend was able to escape from the burning house through a window, ran to a neighbor’s house and asked the neighbor to call 911, according to the press release.

In connection with this offense, Mayhue and Busby were indicted by a grand jury in November 2012, charging the pair with one count each of murder, felony murder, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, aggravated arson, unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and certain persons not to have weapons. Sinha and Goodson will now join Mayhue and Busby for their alleged roles in the robbery and Conway’s murder, according to Gramiccioni.

The third robbery occurred on Sept. 8, 2011, when Mayhue forcibly entered a residence on Drummond Avenue in Neptune Township brandishing what appeared to be a handgun. The robbery was thwarted by individuals in the home who held Mayhue until police arrived on scene.

In connection with that incident, Mayhue was indicted on charges of armed robbery and possession of an imitation firearm. Sinha and Goodson will now join Mayhue for their alleged roles in the Sept. 8, 2011 robbery.

The next step in the case against Sinha and Goodson will be the presentation of evidence to a grand jury in order to seek indictments against them, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Sinha and Goodson are both being held in the Monmouth County jail, Freehold Township, on $1.5 million cash only bail, as set by state Superior Court Judge Honora O’Brien Kilgallen.

Mayhue and Busby are also being held at the county jail as they await further developments in the case against them, according to the prosecutor’s office.

New year offers opportunity to organize

Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Organization Strategies

Get Organized at Home

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

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

Get Organized at Work

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get Organized at School

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

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

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

Contact Information

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

Manalapan zoners OK assisted living facility

Staff Writer

The Manalapan Zoning Board of Adjustment has approved the construction of a 97-unit assisted living facility on Gordons Corner Road.

In a 7-0 vote, board members granted a use variance for an application filed by Meridian Living at Manalapan, LLC. Attorney Gerald Sonnenblick represented the applicant.

The use variance was required because an assisted living facility is not a permitted use in the commercial zone.

According to testimony presented in the case, the assisted living facility will be built on a seven-acre site at 289 Gordons Corner Road, between Dunkin Donuts at 285 Gordons Corner Road, and a KinderCare school at 293 Gordons Corner Road. There are single-family homes to the south of the assisted living facility’s parcel. The new building will share a driveway with KinderCare, according to the resolution approved by the zoning board Dec. 17.

The 97-unit assisted living facility will contain 55 studio units, 40 one-bedroom units and two two-bedroom family units. The zoning board will permit the assisted living facility to be 53 feet tall in a zone that does not permit a building to be taller than 50 feet.

An earlier application that proposed an office park on the property was withdrawn due to local opposition, according to the resolution. staff member or by ambulance. The applicant anticipates about three ambulance trips per week and said ambulances will not use a siren when entering the site, according to the resolution.

Aber said a shift of 20 nursing staff members will run from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Administrative staff shifts of 10 members will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The dietary department staffing is 10 members and their shifts run from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. or from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. A 15-member shift runs from 3-10 p.m., with the post-11 p.m. shift being staffed by five to seven employees.

Visiting hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., however, visitors will also be permitted during off hours.

Traffic Engineer John Rea, representing the applicant, said that only a few residents of the assisted living facility will have a vehicle. Staff members and visitors may experience a minimal delay entering from or exiting to Gordons Corner Road, he said.

Board members agreed with Rea’s findings that the proposed facility would have a limited impact on trip generation and would not have any significant impacts on traffic or safety.

Architect Barry Brommer, representing the applicant, said plans call for a four-story building with 100,000 square feet of patient related spaces. The 97 living units will have a maximum of 120 beds. There will be a 1,250-square-foot maintenance garage and a 2,100-square-foot covered front porch.

The driveway will lead to a covered drop-off area at the front of the building. The site will contain areas for outdoor activities and a walking path.

The property is wooded with trees between 40 and 80 feet tall and the applicant will have to preserve some trees as a visual and physical buffer and will add additional evergreen trees as depicted on a landscaping plan, according to the resolution.

Two residents expressed concern about the building being visible from their property and one resident requested a fence along his property line, which Meridian’s representatives agreed to provide.

Children turn new page with help from Bridge of Books Foundation

Staff Writer

As hundreds of children begin new lives with their “forever families” following National Adoption Day events, they will also be able to begin their own personal “little libraries” because of the efforts of the nonprofit Bridge of Books Foundation.

The Bridge of Books Foundation, in partnership with the New Jersey Division of Children and Family Services, has provided 800 children who were adopted out of foster care in the state’s 21 counties, with colorful tote bags full of new, age-appropriate books to begin their own family library.

“It’s an investment in all our futures,” said Abigail Daly, founder and executive director of the Bridge of Books Foundation. “Every child deserves books in their home. Books have the power to change lives – providing an understanding of the world, en- couraging imagination and promoting dreams.”

The Bridge of Books Foundation was founded in 2003 and provides an ongoing source of books to underprivileged and atrisk children throughout the state.

Daly said this is the first year the nonprofit has formally participated in National Adoption Day events and she said it has been a great way to support literacy skills and encourage a love of reading to those less fortunate.

“We are always looking for new ways to get books to kids who need them and the bags of books concept has been on our minds for quite a while,” she said.

“After superstorm Sandy … what we noticed was the FEMA centers had kids who were not back in school, who were coming with their parents and just sitting there for hours while their parents were filling out forms and applications. “So we put together bags of preschool books and distributed probably 300 [bags] through the FEMA centers and we have been seeing how we could expand that program to reach even more children ever since,” she added.

Daly said participating in National Adoption Day, which is an effort to raise awareness for the more than 100,000 children currently in foster care waiting to find permanent, loving homes, allowed the nonprofit to have a greater impact on more children and their new siblings.

“This was kind of our first project under what we are calling our My Little Library Program,” she said. “This was our first partnership with the Division of Children and Family Services and we distributed just over 800 bags to children being adopted out of foster care across the state.”

According to Daly, in addition to providing books for the children who were adopted, bins of books were also sent to each vicinage where the adoptions were occurring for the siblings to choose from so as not to feel left out.

“Our mission is to raise the discussion on a more daily level and on a more community wide basis about the real gap that exists in access to books among children,” Daly said. “The way we do that is by distributing books anywhere we can find kids who are underserved and need access to books.

“Working with the Division of Children and Family Services, we did a big statewide distribution … [and] for us it is one more way to really raise awareness about this gap in access and a way to reinforce the fact that we can solve this problem by working together as a community,” she said.

So far in 2015, more than 100,000 books have been donated to children across the state.

“In the last four weeks we have had teachers in Camden, southern New Jersey, Newark and Freehold literally tell us they all have students who do not have books in their homes and they are so thankful to get books from us because then their kids can practice the skills they are learning,” Daly said.

“It’s a neat project and we are looking forward to doing it again next year and figuring out where our next partnership will be to distribute even more of these bags with books for children,” she said.

As part of the My Little Library Program, the foundation worked with the Rider University School of Education to create a Parent Guide To Reading, which was enclosed in each child’s tote bag.

The pamphlet is a guide that encourages parents to make a commitment to read with their child every day.

“Oftentimes the reality is that a lot of these children come from homes where the parents are just worried about keeping a roof over their head, food on the table and keeping their jobs,” Daly said.

“I really feel that the development of literacy skills occurs in the home as well as the school so what we did was … partner with Rider to create a very simple menu to hopefully give the parents some guidance on how to use these books and how to use them to engage with their kids.

“If kids see their parents are enjoying reading, they will develop a love of books themselves [and I think] it is all about giving kids and their parents the tools they need to create a family of lifelong learners,” she said.

For more information visit the website www.bridgeofbooksfoundation.org.

Clients have found caring touch for 30 years

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.

Working poor provided with breakfast, lunch during winter

FREEHOLD — The 12th year of the sanctuary program, which provides breakfast and lunch for the homeless, working poor and families during the winter months, began on Dec. 19 with breakfast and lunch being served at the First United Methodist Church, 91 W. Main St.

Every Saturday through March 12, the program will offer breakfast and lunch from 7 a.m. to noon. Breakfast will be offered every Friday at the Methodist Church beginning Jan. 8 and ending on March 11, from 7-10 a.m.

“We offer a warm meal and a respite from the cold for our working poor neighbors during the winter months when work is scarce,” said Ann Bagchi, co-coordinator of the program. “The program serves between 150 and 200 meals a week for those who find themselves a few meals short of a full stomach.”

The sanctuary program relies on donations from local residents and businesses, said Bagchi, who noted that all persons involved are volunteers. Monetary donations and gift cards to local supermarkets to purchase ingredients are especially welcome, she said.

Sandra Whitehill, coordinator of volunteers for the program, said the program relies on the kind hearts of volunteers in the community to step forward to make a difference in the lives of those who need a helping hand.

“We have a loyal core of good souls who have served for many years, but it is heartwarming to see people hearing about the program for the first time and being ready, willing and able to help. Service to others enriches our community and changes those who serve,” Whitehill said.

The sanctuary program was founded in 2003 by the Latino Coalition and the New Beginnings Agape Christian Center, Freehold. It has since blossomed into a collaborative effort that includes participation by the First United Methodist Church, the First Presbyterian Church and the Reformed Church, all of Freehold, according to a press release.

Financial sponsors include the Latino Coalition, the I Beseech Thee Community Development Corporation, the Graeme Preston Foundation for Life and the Reformed Church. Food donations are provided by Battleview Orchards, Bagel World and Dunkin Donuts.

In addition to meals, the sanctuary program provides visitors with blood pressure screenings and HIV/AIDS testing, and a variety of speakers who provide community information about a wide range of topics.

Contributions to the sanctuary program may be sent to the Rev. Ricky Pierce, executive director of the I Beseech Thee Community Development Corporation, 133 Throckmorton St., Freehold, NJ 07728. To volunteer, call Sandra Whitehill at 732-863- 7395.

Trenton woman charged in Manalapan burglary

MANALAPAN — A resident of Trenton was charged with burglary after a police officer found her in a home in Manalapan.

Manalapan police said that at 9:45 p.m. Nov. 3, Patrolman Bart Mattaliano responded to a Crystal Court residence for a report of a burglary in progress. A 21-year-old resident told the officer he arrived home and found a woman in his family’s home.

Officers arrested Mary Carter, 27, of Trenton, and charged her with burglary, criminal trespass and possession of a stolen motor vehicle. Carter was transported to police headquarters, processed and placed in the Monmouth County jail, Freehold Township, in lieu of $15,000 bail.

In other incidents reported by police:

 On Nov. 2 at 3:34 a.m., Patrolman Joseph DeFilippis responded to Beagle Drive for a report of a motor vehicle theft. A resident told the officer that unknown individuals removed his 2014 black, four-door Chevrolet Suburban from his driveway. The keys were not inside the car and it was locked. The vehicle contained personal belongings and the total value of the loss is $38,909. The incident occurred on Nov. 2 between 2:55-3:34 a.m.

 On Nov. 4 at 6:31 p.m., Patrolman Jared Coupland responded to Stratford Drive in reference to a report of vandalism. A resident told the officer unknown individuals used a tool to slash and flatten the passenger side tires of her vehicle while it was parked in the driveway. The incident took place between 4 p.m. Nov. 3 and 6:30 p.m. Nov. 4.

 On Nov. 7 at 12:15 a.m., Manalapan Police Chief Christopher Marsala conducted a motor vehicle stop on a 2011 Toyota Camry at Tennent Avenue and Main Street in Englishtown.

Police said that before Marsala stopped the vehicle he observed it being driven in an erratic manner on Route 522 in Manalapan, nearly impacting a utility pole on the opposite side of the road.

The driver was identified as Timothy Choi, 26, of Monroe Township. Patrolman Dennis O’Brien responded to the motor vehicle stop and conducted field sobriety tests on Choi, who was subsequently charged with driving while intoxicated, reckless driving and failure to observe traffic lanes.

 On Nov. 8 at 2:46 p.m., a 62-year-old woman from Weehawken reported that unknown individuals removed two fur coats from her booth at the Englishtown Auction Sales, Wilson Avenue. The items were described as a beige fur vest valued at $400 and a brown leather coat with opossum fur valued at $200.

New K-9 officer helps to locate child

MANALAPAN — The township’s newest police officer has successfully completed his first case.

Police said that at 5:20 p.m. Dec. 17, Patrolman Adam Sosnowski and his new partner, K-9 officer Grim, responded to 520 Route 9 North, Manalapan, for a report of a missing juvenile.

The juvenile’s mother told Sosnowski that after a verbal argument with her 15-year-old son, she left him in her vehicle while she entered a store. When she returned to her vehicle, her son was gone.

Police said Sosnowski used Grim to track and eventually locate the juvenile, who was uninjured and reunited with his parents.

Deputy Police Chief Michael Fountain said this marked the first time Grim was used by the department for tracking duty since he and Sosnowski graduated from a K-9 handler’s training academy on Dec. 11.

Sosnowski and Grim will be going to advanced narcotics detection training in early 2016 to further enhance their capabilities and to improve the quality of life for residents and visitors in Manalapan, according to Fountain.

Howell zoners OK grading changes at project site

Staff Writer

HOWELL — The Zoning Board of Adjustment has granted preliminary and final major subdivision approval to a previously approved 20-lot subdivision for which the applicant sought a density variance as the result of a zone change at Asbury Avenue and Cloverhill Lane.

The application was heard by the zoning board on Nov. 16.

Attorney Salvatore Alfieri, representing Gross and Gross Associates, said the application was one of the most unique he has handled in 30-plus years of land use work. He said the Gross family has owned the 41-acre property for decades and received approval in 2000 for 20 lots (17 homes) and then the economy crashed.

“The approvals have been extended … and we were about ready to perfect the subdivision as approved. The engineer who got the approval originally was changed and Michael Geller became the new engineer and finished the perfection of the approval,” Alfieri told the board.

“During that time with the new engineer, with new eyes on the project, it was clear that the way (the development) was designed had significant expense to the township forever in the maintenance of the retaining walls and significant grading.

“There were a lot of design issues that can easily be fixed just by tweaking the plans. We met with the Planning Board’s professionals, we had a Technical Review Committee meeting and explained the process and it was favorably received, we believe, but it was determined that because the zone changed we could not just amend our previous approval. We had to come back to this (zoning) board … It went from a 1-acre zone to a 2-acre zone,” Alfieri said.

He said the lots are not changing and the road configuration is not changing.

“All we are doing is changing the grading in a way that will make the project much more attractive to everyone, including the township,” Alfieri said.

Geller said, “The proposed amendment to the plan is the same number of lots, the same street configuration as originally approved and the same street design standards … There will be elimination in total of the extensive amount of retaining walls. … All of the grading has been redesigned so as to eliminate those retaining walls. We feel that is a benefit to the township.

“ … We redesigned the storm water management system such that it is a more efficient design then originally done by the prior engineer … So that is also a benefit for the township in … not having (retaining) walls and basins to maintain. Storm water outfalls that were previously approved are retained exactly as they were in the current development,” Geller said.

He said various sections of the development site will be supported by separate storm water management basins. Geller said the homes will be served by wells and septic systems. The homes will be custom built with the number of bedrooms and square footage to be determined on an individual basis, he said.

Approval and variances for the revised plan was granted in a unanimous vote by Vice Chairman Daniel Cardellichio and board members Nino Borrelli, Evelyn O’Donnell, Thomas Posch, Ronald Campos and Michael Sanclimenti.