Increased assessment is difficult to accept

The new Monmouth County assessment program has been signed into law in New Jersey. The concept is to appraise land on an annual basis to allow municipalities for fewer costs on appeals and more budgeting stability. On the surface, this sounds reasonable. The problem is that the execution has been tainted with increased annual costs and (alleged) nepotism.

We have lived in Freehold Township for 25 years. We own an adjacent lot that is landlocked. It is rough terrain, in a deep ravine, essentially unbuildable. This lot has no access and no utilities. The 2016 tax assessment is a 325 percent increase in value in one day.

All past assessments since 1957 have treated this lot as a low quality, low value lot, which it is.

The prospectors are on task to find those hidden gems of untapped wells of cash; a speculator panning for gold with tax maps via computer.

The assessor responded via email to my initial inquiry stating that the owners have “control” of an easement; therefore his point is that the new projected inflated value is based on improvements that do not now exist. No road frontage, no engineering, no easements, no utility access, planning, zoning or approvals are in place, nor have ever been on the table.

(This is) an appraisal based on future speculation of improvements and approvals. Our position is that the lot should stand on its own merit, as it is. If you buy a rusty unrestored 1968 Chevy Camaro for $4,000, I cannot sell it for $65,000 until it has been restored and money has been invested. Wishing don’t make it so.

It is painful to be stewards of this land, doing the right thing for nearly a quarter of a century and getting pushed out of this state with kaleidoscope eye taxes and valuation opinions, not sales comparison and fact.

The problematic Assessment Demonstration Program is a train wreck. The Monmouth County ADP is layered with extra cost, contracts and (alleged) nepotism. This needs to be reversed. The county should have rolled out a municipal consolidation pilot program for cost savings, not a new tax program. The well is dry.

Joseph and Anne Marie Ferdinando
Freehold Township

Renaming college buildings is ‘hogwash’

People are talking about the renaming of buildings at Princeton University that bear the name of Woodrow Wilson, the desire by some individuals to erase and rewrite history in order to whitewash our past.

In this instance, describing the need by these people to remove a person’s name from a building because of a perceived slight is overly dramatic and self-serving.

First, Princeton should not weaken to these demands for removing Woodrow Wilson’s name from the building(s) in question. The reason for the removal is for alleged insensitivity. What hogwash.

This man was the president of Princeton University at the turn of the last century and the president of the United States. He was president during World War I, was the chief architect for the League of Nations — the forerunner to the United Nations — and he “expanded Princeton into a full-scale university” so the university, to honor him, “created the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.”

This school is known throughout the world — should it be renamed now? As one of the students at Princeton stated, “If the criteria for naming a building for someone was that they be perfect, we shouldn’t name buildings.” He was correct in his assessment.

Should we also look to remove Wilson’s picture from the White House where it is hung in tribute to him as is done for all other presidents? When does political correctness go too far?

Times have changed and what was once accepted and tolerated may no longer be; however, it does not mean history should be cleansed so that we cannot look back at mistakes or successes and learn from the past. Nor does it mean that a person’s accomplishments should be ignored because of modern day thinking.

To all of you politically correct individuals, learn to be more tolerant of the past and mature enough to know the difference. Stop blaming others for the slights you believe are directed at you and enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness this great country provides.

Bruce Papkin
Edison

ON CAMPUS

Chandler Nichols, son of April and David Nichols of Manalapan, has been inducted for the 2015 spring semester into the Order of Omega National Greek Leadership Honor Society at Monmouth University, West Long Branch. Chandler, a 2012 graduate of Marlboro High School, is a senior majoring in business finance with a minor in informational technology at the Leon Hess Business School at Monmouth University.

Peter DiBari of Manalapan graduated with a bachelor of science in audio engineering from Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, New York. Peter was named to the dean’s list for the 2015 spring semester.

District joins national coalition

The Freehold Regional High School District is one of 22 school districts that have been accepted into the League of Innovative Schools, a national coalition of forward-thinking school districts organized by Digital Promise, an independent, bipartisan nonprofit organization authorized by Congress to accelerate innovation in education, according to the press release.

The FRHSD was selected from a competitive and national pool of applicants based on its leadership, evidence of results, innovative vision for learning, and commitment to collaboration, according to the press release.

“Being accepted into League of Innovative Schools is an honor for the district. We have worked hard to embrace the changing trends of technology to create an inventive, student-centered learning environment. Organizations like the League of Innovative Schools allow teachers and administrators to learn from a community of practice,” Superintendent of Schools Charles Sampson said.

The League of Innovative Schools, which was launched in 2011, accepts new members through an annual open application process. With the new members, the league now includes 73 school districts in 33 states, representing 3.2 million students, according to the press release.

“The league’s goal is to find leaders pioneering bold, creative and student-centric practices, connect them with each other, and amplify what they do best so others can learn,” said Sara Schapiro, director of the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools. “With these new members, we add a wealth of insights, ideas, and energy to help our members effectively support teaching and learning through technology.”

The league officially welcomed its new members at its fall 2015 meeting in Pittsburgh. The meeting hosted about 175 national school leaders and prominent education experts, entrepreneurs and officials, with the goal of addressing shared priorities and setting goals that district leaders will pursue throughout the year, according to the press release.

Robert Donald DeFalco

Robert Donald DeFalco, 53, of Point Pleasant, passed away on Nov. 30.

Born in Montclair, he lived in Cedar Grove prior to moving to Point Pleasant 19 years ago.

Robert was a graduate of Chubb Institute of Technology, Jersey City, and became a computer programmer at IMS, Eatontown.

He was a parishioner of St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, Point Pleasant Beach.

Robert was predeceased by his father, Paul DeFalco. He is survived by his mother, Barbara DeFalco (nee DeFrance) of Lakewood; his wife, Lori (nee Ialeggio); his son, Dean; and his daughter, Devin, all of Point Pleasant; his sister, Denise Soldo and her husband, James, of Brick Township. He is also survived by his beloved dogs, Dunkin and Munchkin.

Funeral arrangements were made by Van Hise and Callagan Funeral Home, 812 Arnold Ave., Point Pleasant Beach.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the family to go into a trust for Robert’s son’s education.

For more information, email Sue at sueiw@optonline.net.

Sons want their parents to show them ‘love’

ARE WE THERE YET

Lori Clinch

Christmas shopping. It simply isn’t what it used to be. Back in the day I could “wow” our four young sons with anything from Nike socks to the Batmobile and everything in between.

They were thrilled at the pile of presents on Christmas morning. They would wake up at zero dark thirty with excitement and glee and arrive at the foot of our bed with two cups of freshly prepared coffee as they begged us to get up and let the Christmas celebrating commence.

Of course, Santa would leave his gifts, along with a messy pile of half-consumed cookies, and then get on his merry way with a heartfelt, “Ho ho ho, there you go!”

They loved everything. They didn’t mind that I purchased and wrapped a Charlotte Hornets Tshirt (got that for a mere $4.99 on a doorbuster special) and they could care less that the socks they received did not have a pre-specified left and right foot.

Those were the days. I could go to discount sales and purchase in bulk. Blue light specials and closeouts were the bomb diggity. As long as the size was right, I dressed the kids in whatever I wanted to.

Having four sons, I could start with Vernon and pass the clothing down the line until it got to poor little Charlie, in tatters, with little or no concern for his reputation.

On the Christmas that I purchased Vernon a faux leather jacket and found Lawrence a sports shirt for a team I did not know he despised, I was informed by our sons that my days of purchasing their clothing without prior written authorization had come to an end.

No more random purchases, even if I did have a $10 coupon.

Then, with clothing as the only thing on the Christmas wish lists, my purchasing just wasn’t the same. No more frugal shopping or impulse buying, and I could all but forget the doorbuster specials.

For the last several years, I have been shopping with four sons who all tower over 6 feet in height. I would stand in their midst as they scoured the racks, dug through the piles and dissed each other’s taste in clothing. Yet, I would get it done in one quick night and take the bounty home.

Rather than wrapping their socks in Christmas paper and adorning it with a bow, complete with a tag that says “Mommy loves!” I gathered up four large boxes.

I inserted their carefully selected jeans, along with their woven wools and their foot-specific socks. I simply wrapped those four boxes, placed them under the tree and then I put up my feet and patted myself on the back with a self-indulging, “Well done, my good woman, well done!”

Although it was cheesy, it was easy and once again all was well.

Alas, that season of easy Christmas shopping has come to an end as well. Our beloved Vernon nixed it on Thanksgiving weekend, saying he had enough clothes to get by and sadly enough, his brothers agreed.

This year the lists are short and when I asked our four sons what they want for Christmas, the answer was a unanimous “Love.”

As Norman Rockwell as that sounds, any parent in the know will tell you that statement means they simply want money.

That would be easy enough, but one has to ask one’s self, “How do we wrap it?” Do we put it in a big box and place it under the tree? Stuff it into a foot-specific package? Perhaps we bake it into a Santa cookie and leave it on the tray?

Either way, Christmas is coming and I am grateful our family will be together.

The excitement of a Batmobile won’t be looming on our horizon, the anticipation of what Santa left won’t be hanging in the air, but all will be well. I just hope our sons have the wherewithall to have freshly prepared coffee before they wake us from our Christmas morning slumber.

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her by sending an email to loriclinch2010@gmail.com.

Country legend Dolly Parton brings her most personal song to TV

By Lori Acken,

I was a little kid growing up in a home filled with country music when Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors” became a radio hit in 1971. I already loved the story of the original coat thanks to Sunday school, and since I was a small-town girl with a loving mama, too, I fell hard for that song. I love it still.

On Thursday, Dec. 10, NBC brings the tender tune of a family’s love and resilience, exemplified by a little patchwork jacket, to television as part of a deal with the country music legend and her production partner Sam Haskell to produce films based on Parton’s most enduring hits. (Jolene begins filming in early 2016.) The film — which stars Ricky Schroder and Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles as Parton’s parents Robert Lee and Avie Lee, and sparkling 8-year-old Alyvia Alyn Lind as a young Dolly — dramatizes Parton’s true-life tale of growing up in a dirt-poor but unfailingly loving and creative home. Parton calls the movie her gift to viewers in the most faith- and familycentric time of the year.

“I’ve had so many people tell me that [the song] has touched them even though it might not have been about a coat or a piece of clothing, but a handicap or being overweight or just being different,”

Parton says. “It just touches me that my work has been able to touch people through the years like that.”

Because of that, Parton and Haskell worked closely with screenwriter Pamela K. Long to make sure the film echoed the song’s timeless message. “They teach this little ‘Coat of Many Colors’ in so many schools now and use it as an anti-bullying song, that we should celebrate the differences in each other.

“So when we started putting this show together, Sam and myself wanted to make sure that it really was about celebrating those differences. And I really wanted to pay tribute to my mom and dad and to show who the family was that I came from.”

And what a family it is — one Parton credits with her own ability to bloom where she’s planted. “Mom had a house full of kids and a love for my daddy that wouldn’t quit,” she says. “They married when Mama was 15 and Daddy was 17. My dad was such a hardworking person, and he never had the chance to go to school. So they had nothing to work with except love and faith and one another — and Mama had enough faith to move a mountain. I think I got my spirituality and my positive attitude and my faith from my mother. And I’ve got my dad’s hard work ethic.”

Understandably, Parton was careful about choosing the people who would step into their shoes. Of Nettles, she trills, “She actually did her own little audition tape and sent it in to us, and we just absolutely flipped out! I said, ‘Oh my God, that’s Mama!’ She’s spectacular! And Ricky, he looks like my brothers and my daddy’s people — his coloring, and just his body structure. He and his wife were very involved in the story. They had lost a child, too — something that we talk about in the movie (Parton’s brother Larry — “my baby,” she calls him — died at birth). I think that was very healing for them.”

As for little Lind, Dolly says it was a match made in heaven.

“We auditioned hundreds of kids and I said to Sam, ‘God’s going to send her. We’re going to get the right one!’ Then the day I saw her, I said, ‘That’s her! I see her! I see me! She’ll make me look good!’ I never was that cute, but that little thing can sing, she can act. The second our eyes met, it was like I knew that we were right!”

Holiday movie preview

In theaters now

As we race to the end of 2015, we will be greeted by a slew of big movies. Some movies will prosper, some will fail and some will get nominated for awards (both good and bad) — but all will bring their unique visions to the screen to share with us. Let’s peer through some rose-colored glasses at the month of December and what the holiday movie season holds.

In the Heart of the Sea (Dec. 11) brings to the big screen director Ron Howard’s vision of the real maritime disaster that inspired the novel Moby Dick, with Chris Hemsworth in the lead role. This looks visually stunning.

Legend (Dec. 11) shares the story of identical-twin gangsters Reggie and Ronnie Kray. They are two of the most notorious true-life criminals you’ll ever see onscreen, and who are in reality very different and unique individuals — though Tom Hardy plays both.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (Dec. 18) features our favorite chipmunks on — you guessed it — a road trip. The only true family film released during the month, it might do surprisingly well.

Sisters (Dec. 18) arrives on the same weekend as Star Wars as an alternative for those not in the core Star Wars demographic. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler star and even encourage viewers to take in both Stars Wars and this film.

The Big Short (Dec. 23) is director Adam McKay’s peek into the credit and housing bubble collapse, with Christian Bale and Steve Carell leading an amazing cast.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Dec. 18) is the ultimate holiday film. Not only is it highly anticipated by fans and critics alike, but it’s also a film that can be shared with most of the family and is poised to garner enormous box office results. Do you have your tickets yet?

Concussion (Dec. 25) will explode onto screens with a very volatile subject as the NFL regular season wraps up. Will Smith leads a talented cast that turns a spotlight on the concussion problems that have plagued football for years.

Daddy’s Home (Dec. 25) presents a funny take on parenting from two very funny men, Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. They play guys who are competing to win the favor of Wahlberg’s biological children, who are also Ferrell’s stepchildren.

Joy (Dec. 25) is poised for awards acclaim. Jennifer Lawrence stars in the latest from David O. Russell as Joy, a woman who takes an idea and turns it in to something special.

Point Break (Dec. 25) became a hit in 1991, starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze in a Kathryn Bigelow-directed effort. In this version, inspired by the original, Luke Bracey and Édgar Ramírez go toe-to-toe in the extreme sports world.

These are just some of the great titles headed to theaters in December. Others that will sneak into select theaters before a wider release include The Hateful Eight from director Quentin Tarantino and The Revenant featuring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Students’ film earns honor

By P.J. CANDIDO
Staff Writer

Students who attend the Freehold Regional High School District’s Fine and Performing Arts Academy have won $5,000 for their film “Daytime Summit.” The students were recently honored at Kings Theater, Brooklyn, N.Y.

The Fine and Performing Arts Academy is based at Howell High School and enrolls students from the district’s sending municipalities.

The national competition, which is a new component to the All-American High School Film Festival, involved nine schools from around the country. Each team was required to create a film inspired by a prompt and then film their original script over two days in New York City.

Howell High School’s prize for earning the top honor was $5,000, which will be presented to the Entertainment Technology program in the Fine and Performing Arts Academy, directed by Scott Napolitano, according to information provided by the school district.

Napolitano is the Entertainment Technology video instructor/project producer at Howell High School. He said the award reinforced his faith in the students and the entertainment program.

“This was a huge gamble for us,” he said. “We had never attempted something so ambitious and to win on our first time out among such competitive and distinguished programs is a wonderfully positive feeling.”

“Daytime Summit” focuses on two friends who are growing apart at a crucial point in their lives.

Bernie Torres, 17, of Howell, co-wrote and directed the film. She said the award made her realize what she should be doing with the rest of her life.

“It solidified my future plans and restored some confidence in myself and my abilities,” Torres said.

Zach Miller, 17, of Manalapan, co-wrote and starred in the film. He said he had the opportunity to have a positive impact on the entire process.

“I got to put some creativity into something special that people from school recognized and for us, that’s a big deal,” Miller said. “People have learned more about our program as a result.”

Max Amar, 17, of Manalapan, co-wrote the film and said the project reinforced his desire to become a professional filmmaker.

“It proved itself to be a great accomplishment for the Fine and Performing Arts Academy program and inspired me to push on with film in the future,” Amar said.

Napolitano said the students have been glowing since the award was presented to them.

“Our faculty and staff have been going out of their way to congratulate us, but more importantly, it has the younger kids asking, ‘Where do we go from here? What can we do next?’ ” he said.

The students were able to film at Washington Square Park and Grand Central Terminal, among other locations in the city.

The students were able to enjoy a screening of their work at the AMC 24 Theater on 42nd Street alongside their fellow invitational colleagues, according to information provided by the school district.

Also screening during the weekend were other films from Howell’s Entertainment Technology program, including “Forgotten: The Lost Planet” and “Dead Man’s Curve.”

“Daytime Summit,” “Forgotten,” “Dead Man’s Curve” and other Howell films may be seen at the website www.vimeo.com/howellfpacvideo.