Helping the community

 KATHY McBAIN/STAFF KATHY McBAIN/STAFF Lisa Marie Stecker of Greater Media Newspapers’ Advertising Department shows some of the food that was donated during a holiday food drive sponsored by the newspaper group from Dec. 9-21. The food was brought to the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, Neptune, for distribution throughout the region.

Team Kevin Strive gives youths a helping hand

Volunteers who share a passion for an active lifestyle regularly dedicate their time to individuals who have a medical disability.

The volunteers make up Team Kevin Strive, which was started to raise awareness and to show that people who have a medical disability can still be participants in an active lifestyle.

The nonprofit Team Kevin Strive started when Kim Hansen, of Freehold Township, entered herself and her son, Kevin, 16, in a race. Hansen said Kevin is a special needs child who is medically fragile, but loves to be active.

Hansen and her son have been racing for three years, while Team Kevin Strive is 1 year old.

“My passion is to let Kevin experience anything he can and wants to experience,” Hansen said. “It makes me really excited and happy to see him doing things he enjoys.”

She said Team Kevin Strive’s goal is to raise money that can be used to purchase wheelchairs that have been designed for racing. The equipment allows individuals who have special needs to participate in races in ways that would otherwise not be possible.

“We have racing chairs, bike chairs and even boat chairs that pull the kids in the water,” Hansen said. “Our motto is you can do anything if you just try.”

She said Team Kevin Strive provides opportunities to individuals with special needs who want the thrill of racing by providing a “pit crew” and racing chairs for races of different distances.

“This past year we have done two triathlons and numerous 5K runs,” Hansen said. “Being disabled does not mean you cannot achieve your goals. It is just amazing how unselfish everyone is in helping those in need. You want to help these kids have a really good experience.

“What is so amazing is that these volunteers come just because they want to. When they see these kids smile, they want to come back and do more with them and the kids just have a great time,” she added.

Team Kevin Strive is sponsored by Hooters restaurants. Hansen said Hooters and the Elizabeth Police Department help to raise awareness and money so that children who have special needs may have an active and fun lifestyle.

“The kids hit the finish line and there is really nothing more tear-jerking than going through that with the child you are pushing,” she said.

Individuals who would like to volunteer for Team Kevin Strive may visit the website www.teamkevinstrive.org for additional information.

Classical pianist performs at Music Hour

Alan Wasserman, sponsored by the Cecilian Music Club, recently presented his Music Hour at Freehold Music Center, Freehold Township.

The Music Hour, now celebrating its 10th anniversary, is designed to reach out to community members and enhance their knowledge and enjoyment of music, according to a press release.

Wasserman began by performing “Cee Bop,” an original jazz composition by composer arranger-teacher Phil Carr.

Wasserman then began his discussion of “The Elements of Music” and demonstrated each element at the piano.

For “Melody,” he chose “Comes a Time” by Hunter-Garcia. For a discussion of “Harmony,” he performed an improvisation on a “mantooth chord,” a voicing of a chord that lends itself to many possibilities, according to the press release.

For “Rhythm,” he played “Last Date,” by Floyd Cramer. Then he explained the term “timbre,” the quality of a musical sound, or a blending of sounds. Timbre was demonstrated with Chopin’s Preludes No. 1 and No. 3.

And for “Form,” Wasserman selected the second movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata, Opus 57, known as the Appassionata, which is a Theme and Variations.

The hour concluded with a rendition of “Hey Jude” by the Beatles.

Wasserman is a classical pianist and educator who has performed in Europe, China, Russia, and at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York City, according to the press release.

The Cecilian Music Club, founded in 1883, is an organization of teachers, performers and music lovers dedicated to the performance and study of music. For more information, or to become a member, visit www.cecilianclub.org.

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

By CHRISTINE BARCIA
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

By PETER ELACQUA
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.

Superintendent’s pact extended

By CHRISTINE BARCIA
Staff Writer

A new contract has been approved for Freehold Borough K-8 School District Superintendent of Schools Rocco Tomazic.

The superintendent’s contract was discussed during a Board of Education meeting on Dec. 14.

Members of the public were given the opportunity to comment on Tomazic’s contract, but no one from the public spoke, Business Administrator Joseph Howe said.

“The board voted unanimously to approve the contract,” he said.

Tomazic said he is appreciative of the confidence expressed by the board in extending his contract. He came to the school district in April 2013.

“There is much work left to do to place the district on firm footing with regard to resolving overcrowding and underfunding. The entire district is pushing to the ultimate objective of an improved overall educational program for our students,” the superintendent said.

Tomazic’s new contract is for the period from Jan. 1, 2016, to June 30, 2020, according to Howe.

Most of the terms and conditions of employment of school superintendents in New Jersey, such as salary caps, are promulgated by law, according to the business administrator.

“One such provision of the law is that no superintendent shall acquire tenure, so boards of education must continue to offer contracts of employment to superintendents on a periodic basis,” Howe said.

Tomazic’s salary under the new contract will be $155,000 annually, which is the same as his current contract.

For the 2014-15 school year, Tomazic received bonus pay of $7,750 for achievement of two qualitative merit goals.

Youngster shows strength in battle against cancer

By CHRISTINE BARCIA
Staff Writer

 Gracie West, a seventh-grader at the Barkalow Middle School, Freehold Township, has been battling cancer for two years and recent scans showed no evidence of the disease. In December 2014, Gracie traveled to Rome and received a blessing from Pope Francis.  CHRISTINE BARCIA/STAFF Gracie West, a seventh-grader at the Barkalow Middle School, Freehold Township, has been battling cancer for two years and recent scans showed no evidence of the disease. In December 2014, Gracie traveled to Rome and received a blessing from Pope Francis. CHRISTINE BARCIA/STAFF Gracie West literally jumped for joy with the good news her doctor recently delivered to her. Gracie, 12, of Freehold Township, has been battling cancer for two years. After she found out her latest scans showed no evidence of the disease, she was jumping on a trampoline within the hour.

“I knew I was going to hit the clear mark,” said Gracie, who is the daughter of Don and Sharon West.

Sharon West said it felt like “the world lifted off your shoulders” when she heard from the doctor that her daughter’s scans were clear.

Gracie, whose nickname is “Cookie,” as in one tough cookie, is a seventh-grader at the Barkalow Middle School, Freehold Township. Two years ago she was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma.

 COURTESY OF THE VATICAN COURTESY OF THE VATICAN Gracie’s protocol included chemotherapy and radiation at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and additional treatments at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York City.

But it was a special blessing given to her by Pope Francis in December 2014 that brought Gracie the greatest sense of healing. “I felt calm and peaceful, like everything was going to be fine after (the papal blessing),” the youngster said. Gracie’s trip to see Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome was the result of a wish granted to Gracie and her family by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Pope Francis hugged and kissed Gracie and gave her a benediction. The pope also shook hands with her brother, Joey.

“It was just the most amazing thing,” Gracie said.

The most difficult part of her battle against cancer, Gracie said, has been “not being able to do the stuff I normally do,” like swimming and playing with her French bulldog Topy, who is named after her first chemotherapy drug, Topotecan.

Gracie’s approach to life can be summed up in the mantra that guides her: you have no choice but to be strong, but you can choose to be happy and positive. Whether facing cancer or a just bad day, Gracie lives by these words.

Sharon West said the support of family members, friends and the community has been critical throughout her daughter’s fight against illness.

The West family established the Cookie’s Crumblers Foundation with a goal to not only help Gracie crumble her cancer, but also to help other children fight cancer.

A portion of the foundation’s proceeds will be contributed to research aimed at curing and eliminating childhood cancers.

The Cookie’s Crumblers 2016 Inaugural Gala of Gratitude will take place on June 4 at the Battleground County Club, Manalapan. For more information, visit Cookie- Gala2016.eventbrite.com.

Community groups supported with funds from Mayor’s Gala

By MARK ROSMAN
Staff Writer

MANALAPAN — A total of $27,500 in proceeds from the 2015 Manalapan Mayor’s Gala were presented to area organizations by members of the Township Committee during a recent meeting.

The Samaritan Center, Manalapan, which provides food assistance to individuals and families in Manalapan, Marlboro, Englishtown and Millstone Township, received a check for $10,000. The all-volunteer organization has been in operation since the 1980s.

Tony Morelli, a former mayor of Manalapan, accepted a check on behalf of the Samaritan Center during the Dec. 9 meeting of the Township Committee. He said, “there are a substantial number of people in town who qualify (for assistance) under federal standards.”

Morelli placed that number at about 17 percent of the population and said that the Samaritan Center provides meals to about 1,000 people on a monthly basis. There is no paid staff at the agency, only volunteers who work at the food pantry’s location behind the Manalapan Senior Center.

Also accepting the check on behalf of the Samaritan Center were Martha Amato, executive director, and Bill Duncan, vice president of the center’s board.

Jim and Joanne Brennan accepted a $10,000 donation on behalf of the Brennan Stands Alone Foundation. The foundation is named for their son, Brian, who lost both legs and sustained other significant injuries while serving with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan in May 2008.

Brennan has recovered from his injuries and continues to serve in the Army, according to his mother. The foundation supports the family members of wounded soldiers so they do not have to leave the side of their injured warriors.

“We are trying our best to reach as many people as possible. Manalapan really reached out to us,” Joanne Brennan said.

Other donations from the Mayor’s Gala were made to the Manalapan Community Emergency Response Team; the Manalapan Englishtown Community Alliance for the Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Abuse; the Manalapan Arts Council; the Manalapan Police Explorers; and the Manalapan Veterans Committee.

Mayor Jack McNaboe said the goal is to support these local organizations with funds that are raised privately, rather than with taxpayer dollars.

The Dec. 9 meeting marked the final Wednesday night action meeting for Committeeman Ryan Green, whose term will end on Dec. 31. Green has served on the governing body for six years.

Green thanked Manalapan’s employees, professionals and volunteers for their efforts on behalf of the community. He thanked voters and said it has been “a tremendous privilege to serve two terms.”

Green thanked his wife, Judith, for her support and said that he is looking forward to spending more time with his daughter, Rebecca, 2.

Committeewoman Susan Cohen told Green, “We did not always agree (on issues), but you gave your honest opinion,” and McNaboe said, “We have had disagreements and we have also agreed on many items. I wish you the best.”