Top flooring choices to keep homes looking merry and bright

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Decorating for the holidays? Don’t forget the floor, says SMART Carpet and Flooring, the tri-state area’s original shop-at-home flooring leader. And to help homeowners choose flooring that performs well and looks great in high-traffic areas this holiday season, SMART Carpet and Flooring has released its short list of flooring choices that are always nice and never naughty.

First up: An endlessly forgiving resilient, or vinyl, tile flooring. Virtually impervious to wear and tear from pets, spills, dropped objects, stains, or just about anything else a houseful of friends and family can throw at it, resilient tile flooring looks vastly different — and much more beautiful — than the vinyl flooring of years past.

For an example of an attractive resilient flooring choice, SMART Carpet and Flooring points to a product like Congoleum’s DuraCeramic. Designed as a luxury alternative to ceramic tile, DuraCeramic has the appearance of a custom tile floor with the ease of vinyl. It even contains Scotchgard Protector for added peace of mind.

Homeowners who prefer the look of stone but want the warmth and durability of vinyl might prefer Armstrong Alterna or Alterna Reserve Luxury Vinyl. Nearly indistinguishable from real stone, Armstrong Alterna and Alterna Reserve feature stain-resistant surfaces and absorb sound to keep the focus on the conversation, not the clatter of the floor — even during lively holiday parties.

Next on the list: A luxury vinyl plank flooring. Luxury vinyl plank flooring looks like real hardwood but offers the same stain resistance, warmth and noise dampening as its resilient tile flooring cousin.

Finally, for homeowners who love the look and feel of carpet, SMART Carpet and Flooring recommends a highly stain-resistant carpet that’s up to the task of hosting holiday dinners, extended family, and anything else the holiday season can throw at it. Homeowners in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York will find a variety of carpet options that fit the bill in every SMART Carpet and Flooring mobile showroom.

“Homeowners typically host more family and friends during the holidays than at any other time of year,” said SMART Carpet and Flooring President Brendan Phillips. “It’s important to be ready for extra wear and tear. SMART Carpet and Flooring’s mobile showrooms stand ready to bring the perfect flooring choices to homeowners in time for the holiday entertaining season.”

To make it even easier for homeowners to spruce up their homes this month, SMART Carpet and Flooring is holding its annual December sales event. From now until Dec. 15, SMART Carpet and Flooring is offering up to 50 percent off typical store prices, plus an offer to take an additional 10 percent off every carpet they sell.

Flooring even makes a thoughtful gift. SMART Carpet and Flooring gift cards give loved ones the gift of choosing from more than 4,000 carpet, vinyl, wood, laminate, and tile flooring choices right in the comfort of their own homes, with the guidance of a flooring expert.

About SMART Carpet and Flooring

SMART Carpet and Flooring eliminates the hassle of buying new carpet and flooring by doing everything at the client’s home, where color and quality selection matter most. Because the company is a mill-direct buying service and not a store, SMART Carpet and Flooring customers can save up to 50 percent off typical store prices. SMART Carpet and Flooring includes everything from measuring and layout to quality padding, installation and financing.

President of The Francis E. Parker Memorial Home honored by Boy Scouts of America

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 Roberto Muñiz (left) receives the 2015 Distinguished Citizen Award from Event Chairman Garrick Stoldt, CFO, Saint Peter’s Healthcare System, who is from Eagle Scout Class of 1972. Roberto Muñiz (left) receives the 2015 Distinguished Citizen Award from Event Chairman Garrick Stoldt, CFO, Saint Peter’s Healthcare System, who is from Eagle Scout Class of 1972. On Nov. 5, more than 100 guests gathered at the Pines Manor in Edison for the Boy Scouts of America Annual Middlesex County Chapter dinner.

More than $80,000 was raised at the dinner through donations and journal ads recognizing the honorees of the 2015 Distinguished Citizen Award from the Boys Scouts of America Middlesex County Chapter.

Roberto Muñiz was recipient of the 2015 Distinguished Citizen Award from the Boy Scouts of America, Middlesex County Chapter. Muñiz was recognized for his support of the local community, including his 17-year tenure as president and CEO of The Francis E. Parker Memorial Home. He also serves on the board of New Brunswick Tomorrow, which is dedicated to enriching the lives of New Brunswick’s people.

The event is the Middlesex County Boy Scouts’ largest fundraiser. Proceeds will benefit many scouting programs, including the STEM initiative focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Funds raised will also support camp and individual scholarships for the at-risk youth scouting programs.

“The Boy Scouts of America provide the support, direction and inspiration that so many young people today need,” said Muñiz. “I am pleased that funds raised for this event will help provide scouting opportunities throughout New Jersey. It is vitally important to have scouting programs available in communities large and small, urban and rural, and particularly for our at-risk youth.”

NextAge M3 Realty collecting Toys for Tots

NextAge M3 Realty is a designated local drop-off site for Toys For Tots donations.

They will be accepting new and gently used toys 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays until Dec. 22.

NextAge M3 Realty has two locations: 1910 Oak Tree Road, Edison, and 1 New Road, South Brunswick.

For more information, call 732-603- 0700.

The benefits of townhome living

By Jane Mueller

The condo you once thought of as a dream come true — your own place — now feels too much like an apartment and just not enough space. Now it’s time to make a decision: a single family or townhome.

Why choose a townhome? It is an opportunity to have the space and amenities in a younger home affordably priced. It can offer limited or extensive maintenance, depending on the type of ownership. With fee simple ownership you own the land and the building; with condominium ownership only the interior walls are owned, offering more services by the association besides common area, snow and trash removal, blanket insurance and capital fund. Very often recreation facilities are also included besides the building exterior. Along with these services covered by a monthly maintenance fee, there can be a special assessment for capital improvements in the community for sidewalks, roads, roofs, siding, railings and fences, and water and sewer lines beyond normal occurrence, as well as excessive snow removal. The benefit to the owner is that these routine expenses are bought in bulk at a much-reduced fee than would be available to an individual. Although one may look at this as a loss of control, these routine expenses are necessary occurrences and not optional, in order to protect the investment and maintain the integrity of the community. The benefit is that someone else will handle the logistics.

One can expect a townhome to be younger, with more amenities than a single-family home, in the same price range, and yet provide a spacious living area and the freedom from the chores.

East Brunswick experienced a proliferation of townhome developments starting in the early ’80s and continuing well into the 2000s, and they provide a variety of styles on multiple levels, and amenities from the very basics to homes with garages and basements as well as yards. Now add to this the easy lifestyle of some country club amenities such as pool, tennis courts and club house. Sounding better? If a move is in your forecast, don’t overlook the many benefits of the ease of townhome living.

Jane Mueller is an agent with RE/MAX First Realty, 385 Route 18, East Brunswick. For more information, call her at 732-257-3500.

Where motorists spend the most time in traffic

By Jim Gorzelany
CTW Features

 With more cars and trucks on the road, commuters are paying the price with increased travel times. Here’s where to find (or avoid) the worst gridlock while driving. With more cars and trucks on the road, commuters are paying the price with increased travel times. Here’s where to find (or avoid) the worst gridlock while driving. It should come as no surprise to commuters that traffic on our nation’s highways is worse than its ever been, due largely to the increase in cars and trucks on the road spurred by a healthy economy. Unfortunately, what’s good for the nation’s financial fortunes can be bad for both car- and truck-drivers alike, and it’s shocking to see the actual impact — both personal and financial — of the country’s growing gridlock.

According to the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard compiled by traffic information and driver services provider INRIX and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, motorists wasted a collective 7 billion extra hours last year sitting in traffic — that’s 42 hours per rush-hour commuter. What’s more, all those vehicles burned more than 3 billion gallons of fuel crawling their way to and from the office.

For many motorists, that amounts to a week’s vacation time and income down drain each year, and that’s not counting the potential productivity wasted just sitting in a car. Add up the numbers and the total value of time and fuel wasted amounts to an annual $160 billion, or $960 per commuter.

Findings from the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard are based on traffic speed data collected by INRIX on 1.3 million miles of urban streets and highways, along with highway performance data provided by the Federal Highway Administration.

By comparison, INRIX reports that back in 1982, when there were fewer vehicles sharing the road, the average traffic delay per consumer was just 18 hours per year with 0.5 billion gallons of fuel burned at a total cost of $42 billion. Though extreme gridlock affected only one out of every in nine commutes in 1982, it caused delays in an average of 25 percent of automotive excursions during 2014.

What’s more, the study found that traffic is getting so onerous in big cities that drivers find they have to allow more than twice as much travel time as they would otherwise require just to account for the unforeseen effects of bad weather, collisions, and construction zones. Drivers traversing America’s most congested roads typically waste 84 hours — that’s 3.5 days a year — sitting in traffic, which is twice the national average.

And the report’s findings indicate that the nation’s clogged arteries are spreading beyond the most populated areas. Though the average travel delay per vehicle is more than double what it was in 1982, it’s gotten four times worse in cities having populations with fewer than 500,000 people. And INRIX predicts commuters will be spending more time behind the wheel in the years ahead. Assuming the nation’s economic fortunes remain strong, by 2020, the annual rush-hour delay per U.S. motorist will swell to 47 hours, with a shared nationwide delay of 8.3 billion hours at a cost of $192 billion.

According to INRIX data, Washington, D.C. is the nation’s most traffic clogged city, where commuters suffered an average of 82 hours of delay last year, with Los Angeles coming in a close second at 80 hours, followed by San Francisco at 78 hours, New York City at 74 hours, San Jose, Calif. at 67 hours, Boston at 64 hours, Seattle at 63 hours and Chicago and Houston tied at 61 hours.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way for the nation to simply build its way out of its traffic woes. “Our growing traffic problem is too massive for any one entity to handle — state and local agencies can’t do it alone,” says Tim Lomax, a report co-author and Regents Fellow at TTI. “Businesses can give their employees more flexibility in where, when and how they work, individual workers can adjust their commuting patterns, and we can have better thinking when it comes to longterm land use planning.”

© CTW Features

BUSINESS BRIEFS

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence of Middlesex County, Inc. (NCADD of Middlesex), Inc. has announced a corporate name change to The Wellness Center for Prevention.

Since 1980, NCADD/Wellspring has been providing a wide range of services that feature professional development courses for addiction counselors, prevention specialists, school faculty and school staff; educational services and support to those who need assistance confronting the disease of alcoholism and drug dependence in the form of information, guidance or referral; services focused on prevention and the wellbeing of young people in the community; and efforts designed to reduce substance use, especially among youth.

The NCADD name created confusion as to whether the organization is national or limited to Middlesex County; one of NCADD’s primary functions is prevention, which is not reflected in the name; and, the NCADD logo is not representative of the agency and what it does.

The new tagline represents the agency’s commitment to “Promoting Healthy Living through Education, Training and Advocacy,” according to Board of Trustees President Jeff Jannarone.

Wellspring Center for Prevention is located at 152 Tices Lane, East Brunswick.

For more information, call 732-254- 3344 or visit www.ncadd-middlesex.org.

Gold Medal Service, an award-winning heating, cooling, plumbing, waterproofing and electrical home service company, is adding a second office to accommodate its rapidly growing business.

The new office, which is near the company’s current location on Cotters Lane in East Brunswick, is a 10,000-square-foot building that will enable Gold Medal to separate its service and installation offerings.

Earlier this year, the company was awarded Contractor Magazine’s national Contractor of the Month Award, which recognized its superior ethics code and dedication to going above and beyond the typical call of duty.

For more information, visit goldmedalservice.com.

Parker at Monroe Long-Term Living Community recently was honored by the American With Disabilities Act (ADA) Committee of Monroe Township with the 2015 ADA Award, a distinction given to “an individual or group that has gone above and beyond regulations in providing access to the disabled.”

Parker at Monroe is a long-term living community where individuals with similar needs reside together in a small home and share services that are specific to their needs and abilities. Since opening its doors in December, the progressive-model facility has reached almost full capacity and is home to 75 residents.

For more information, call 732-902- 4200 or log on to FrancisEParker.com.

To submit Business Briefs for consideration, email nssent@gmnews.com.

REAL ESTATE BRIEFS

Susan Giacchi, broker/owner of RE/MAX Dreams of Sayreville, announces the addition of Marie (Jaworski) Miller, formerly of RE/MAX In Action. As a full-time experienced Realtor, she has a team of trusted professionals with whom she has worked with specializing in real estate law, mortgages, inspections and construction. She also formerly worked for years with a building and management company. Miller’s specialties are residential sale and rentals. She can be reached at 732-207-0880 or emailed at RealtorMarieMiller@gmail.com.

Richard Salvatore has joined CW Solutions, a national real estate services firm in East Brunswick, as a right-of-way and land research associate. “We are focused on becoming a leader in the industry, and we need the best possible talent to drive our growth,” said Stacie Curtis, the firm’s president and founder. “Richard brings extensive experience and commitment to solve any right-of-way challenges that our clients may encounter. His skills will enhance our team of qualified and knowledgeable professionals, each of whom is dedicated to saving clients time and money.” Salvatore of North Arlington, comes to CW Solutions with 20 years of experience in the right-of-way and title examination industries. To ensure the success of projects, he will be working with transmission and power companies to secure real estate approvals and right-of-way acquisitions. He holds a New Jersey Title Insurance Producers license and a paralegal/ legal assistant certificate. Curtis and business partner Robert Weible founded CW Solutions in 2002. The firm has grown from a local New Jersey land acquisition company to a nationwide corporation offering a range of services that includes right-of-way, site acquisition, title research, zoning, permitting, regulatory compliance, project management, GIS mapping and landman services. The company’s title professionals provide clients with the research documents required, ranging from ownership reports to full title searches.

Gloria Zastko, Realtors met its goals and marketshare for November. Leading the team for sales was Mark J. Schmidt, broker-associate, and Jayakrishnan (Jay) Maniyil, Realtor-associate. Schmidt let the firm in listings taken in November. He can be reached by calling 732-297-0600, ext 37, or 908-705-5110, email mark@zastko.com, or visit www.zastko.com/mark. Maniyil led the firm in sales for November. He can be reached by calling 732- 297-0600, ext. 52, or 732-501-8643, email jay@zastko.com, or visit www.zastko.com/jay.

Stop and start

Q&A with Sharon Peters

Q: I read or heard there’s a mid-size American car (the U.S. part is important to us) — not a hybrid — that has an automatic cut-off/cut-on function for when you’re at stoplights. I haven’t been able to learn what car that is. Can you help?

A: The 2014 Chevy Malibu got a lot of attention for being the first mainstream midsize sold in the U.S. with what’s termed “stop-start technology” as a standard feature. Fact is, this feature is increasingly available, sometimes standard and sometimes for extra cash.

Here’s how it works: The engine shuts off when the vehicle comes to a complete stop (as when you’re stopped at a stoplight or in a traffic jam). The car turns back on in a fraction of a second once the pressure on the brake pedal is released.

It’s regarded as a fuel-saver (though, of course, that depends on the kind of driving you do — how many stoplights you regularly hit; how much stop-and-go traffic you encounter). Chevrolet reported that its first-year Malibu provided a 14 percent gain in city fuel economy. Most manufacturers say the savings is 5 percent to 10 percent or so.

It’s available from many carmakers, including some models of Chevrolets, Chryslers, Fords, Hondas and BMWs. It’s safe to say it will be offered on an even greater proportion of the 2016 crop of vehicles that’ll be at dealerships soon. Ford, for one, said last year its stop-start technology would be on about half of its models by 2017.

Some who have purchased vehicles with the feature have loved it; others have said it has taken much getting used to (especially when parking). Worse, some hapless buyers have reported that they wound up with this feature without realizing it (poor sales people?) and believed the car was acting up or breaking down within minutes of driving away from the lot.

So, note to all soon-to-be buyers: ask whether this is on the car you’re buying, on the chance that your salesperson might not think to mention it. (The function can be switched off — at least in the vehicles that have offered so far — but you’ve got to be aware of its existence to know it’s possible to make it disappear.)

© CTW Features

What’s your question? Sharon Peters would like to hear about what’s on your mind when it comes to caring for, driving and repairing your vehicle. Email Sharon@ctwfeatures.com.

America’s ‘hottest’ cars

By Jim Gorzelany
CTW Features

 And by ‘hot’ we mean stolen. Here’s where motorists face the highest car-theft rates and how to best protect your ride no matter where you reside. And by ‘hot’ we mean stolen. Here’s where motorists face the highest car-theft rates and how to best protect your ride no matter where you reside. It seems the Golden State is indeed golden — for auto thieves. Seven out of the 10 U.S. cities suffering the most stolen cars are situated in California, according to the latest “Hot Spots” report issues by the National Insurance Crime Bureau in Des Plaines, Ill.

San Francisco leads all metro areas in the nation in per-capita car thefts, with more than 29,000 vehicles purloined during 2014. The only non-California cities on the NICB’s top-10 list were Odessa, Texas, and the Spokane and Seattle, Wash. regions (see the accompanying box for the full list).

On the plus side, the Federal Bureau of Investigation says car thefts are steadily on the decline, with a 5.7 percent reduction in motor vehicle thefts reported during 2013 and 2014; they’re down by a whopping 42.8 percent since 2003. The National Highway Safety Administration attributes the decrease to a variety of factors including the increased use of standard anti-theft devices (especially coded keys, engine immobilizers and vehicle locating systems), parts marking, increased and improved prosecution efforts by law enforcement organizations and heightened public awareness.

As before, older cars are most often valued for the sum of their parts; they’re usually driven away and quickly disassembled at so-called chop shops and sold off piecemeal to shady auto supply stores and mechanics. Meanwhile, newer and flashier stolen cars are more typically sold overseas or offered domestically with altered titles, or are simply taken for what amounts to a joyride.

The latest trend in auto theft involves models being quickly and efficiently dismantled on the spot for top-dollar components, with flashy alloy wheels being increasingly targeted by crooks. “Because it’s harder to steal an entire vehicle these days, thieves are stealing the parts,” says Terri Miller, executive director of the organization Help Eliminate Auto Thefts in Livonia, Mich. “Tires and rims are not marked (for identification) and they are very, very marketable.”

No matter where you live or what you drive, it’s important to take every precaution to protect what is one of a family’s largest expenditures. Aside from the surprisingly often ignored common sense tips like closing the windows and locking the doors, parking in a well-lit area and never leaving the keys in the ignition while the vehicle is unattended, the NICB advises motorists make their vehicles as theft-proof as possible.

This includes using an anti-theft device, which will often also warrant a discount on your car insurance. Having a simple ignition “kill switch” installed in a hidden location makes it more difficult for a crook to start a car or truck and drive it away.

It’s also a good idea to have your car or truck’s vehicle identification number etched on the windshield and major components to make them more difficult for chop shops to sell as replacement parts.

And especially if you’re driving a costly luxury sedan or sports car, go the extra mile and use a subscription based telematics system like General Motors’ OnStar or similar technology offered by other automakers. Such systems use GPS technology and can help police departments locate cars and trucks if they are stolen. Some cars can even notify their owners if they’re broken into or moved via a connected smartphone app.

© CTW Features

Hot spots’ for stolen cars

1. San Francisco- Oakland-Hayward, Calif.

2. Bakersfield, Calif.

3. Stockton-Lodi, Calif.

4. Odessa, Texas

5. Modesto, Calif.

6. Spokane-Spokane Valley, Wash.

7. Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.

8. Seattle-Tacoma- Bellevue, Wash.

9. Fresno, Calif.

10. San Jose-Sunnyvale- Santa Clara, Calif.

Note: Ranking is relative to population size. Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Big Brothers Big Sisters partners with Freehold Subaru for ‘Share the Love’ event

Purchase a new Subaru by Jan. 2 and help make a big difference in a child’s life! Freehold Subaru has chosen Big Brothers Big Sisters of Monmouth & Middlesex Counties (BBBSMMC) for a second year as their hometown charity for the Annual “Share the Love” Event. For each car that is purchased, Freehold Subaru will donate $250 to BBBSMMC or one of four other national organizations selected by the purchaser. Last year, Subaru raised an astounding $15,000 to support and expand the 1:1 mentoring programs offered by BBBSMMC.

“Freehold Subaru chose Big Brothers Big Sisters as our hometown charity because we know how important mentoring is for children to be successful in school and in life. The agency depends on the local community to help spread the word about their programs and the need for more people to step up and become role models. We are happy to provide the opportunity to spread awareness and raise funds for this worthy organization,” stated General Manager Steve Boyce.

The public is invited to join Big Brothers Big Sisters’ staff and Bigs and Littles at the dealership located at 299 South St. in Freehold on Dec. 5 between 11a.m. and 1pm.. Visitors will enjoy free lunch, giveaways, and the opportunity to learn more about the mentoring organization. “We are grateful to Freehold Subaru for their support of our agency through the “Share the Love” event for a second year. This is a great opportunity to raise needed funds and awareness about our quality 1:1 mentoring programs for children facing challenges in their lives,” commented William Salcedo, executive director of BBBSMMC.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Monmouth & Middlesex Counties is a donor-supported, volunteer agency that is currently serving more than 650 children by providing them with caring mentors. The agency is funded by the community through individual gifts, grants and special events.

For more information, visit www.bbbsmmc.org or call 732-544-2224.