Evelyn Marie Wenzel

Evelyn Marie Wenzel, 88, passed away peacefully on Dec. 4 at the Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care Center, Naperville, Illinois.

Evelyn was born on June 3, 1927, a daughter to the late Michael and Maria (Zachary) Maklary and a sister to the late Louis Maklary from South River.

She graduated from South River High School in 1945. She fell in love and married Albert William Wenzel on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, 1948. They lived in Milltown and had three children: Corey William, Kurt Allyn and Kristine Maryann. In 1974, they moved to Naperville, Illinois.

Evelyn’s beloved husband, Albert, died suddenly while on vacation in August 1975. Evelyn persevered to live a happy, long life, though she never remarried. She had an adventurous spirit and made it to places like California, Texas, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Italy, France and Ireland.

Evelyn was a devoted Catholic, praying for others more than praying for herself. She attended Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Milltown, and St. Raphael’s Church, Naperville, Illinois, among other places of worship. She was a kind, generous person, often helping others. She had an endearing laugh and great smile that would always make you feel good.

Evelyn leaves her loving memories to be cherished by her three grown children, 10 grandchildren and one great-grand child on the way in April 2016. She loved them all.

Per Evelyn’s wishes, no viewing or services will be held. She will be cremated per her instructions and be buried in a plot at Saints Peter and Paul Cemetery, Naperville, Illinois, next to her beloved husband, Albert, who has waited 40 years for her arrival. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Catholic Charities. Cards may be sent to Kurt Wenzel, 4246 Central Park Lane, Aurora, Illinois, 60504.


 STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR The Force was strong at the Plumsted Library in Plumsted Township, Ocean County, on Dec. 16 when a celebration of all things “Star Wars” was held in conjunction with the opening of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

Carriers should ensure deliveries

I have been hearing a lot in the news lately about missing packages from people’s front porches. The carriers who deliver the packages can solve this problem.

For example, as it is now, the delivery person sets the package on the front porch and rings the doorbell. The carrier does not wait to see if the customer is at home. Whatever happened to making sure the customer gets the shipment? There have been times when I was doing something upstairs and by the time I get downstairs the delivery person is in the truck already.

In some cases, the customer may not be at home. Is it too much effort to go next door and leave the package with someone?

In conclusion, there is a solution to this problem and if the carriers (UPS, FedEx, DHL etc.) would finish doing the job by making sure the shipment actually gets into the customer’s hands then there would not be any problems.

Whatever happened to customer service?

Michael Hart
North Brunswick

Students’ efforts for outgoing Monroe mayor take the cake

 Nicholas Ryan, left to right, Julianna Marsh and Rina Thaker presented Mayor Richard Pucci with a cake in 2007 as part of a third-grade project.  PHOTOS COURTESY OF JOSEPH HARVIE Nicholas Ryan, left to right, Julianna Marsh and Rina Thaker presented Mayor Richard Pucci with a cake in 2007 as part of a third-grade project. PHOTOS COURTESY OF JOSEPH HARVIE MONROE — One of the final official visits to Mayor Richard Pucci’s office included a delicious treat from three Monroe Township High School (MTHS) seniors.

Students Rina Thaker, Nicholas Ryan and Julianna Marsh brought Pucci a cinnamon cake they made using a recipe they created when they were in the third grade at Mill Lake School on Monmouth Road in 2007.

“We had to come up with the recipe from scratch in third grade and we came in and shared the cake with the mayor,” Rina said. “So, we thought it would be nice to make the cake again and share it with the mayor before he leaves office.”

The students were joined by their former third grade teacher, Bethanne Augsbach.

“I still remember the original cake they made eight years ago,” Augsbach said. “It took a lot of attempts to get to the final recipe. Some of the first tries were like hockey pucks and others just didn’t work at all. But that was the point of the project: to get the children to think critically.”

 Monroe Township High School students Rina Thaker, far left, Nicholas Ryan, second from left and Julianna Marsh, second from right, along with their third grade teacher Bethanne Augsbach, far right, present outgoing Mayor Richard Pucci, center, with a cake based off of one they made in 2007 as part of a third-grade project. Monroe Township High School students Rina Thaker, far left, Nicholas Ryan, second from left and Julianna Marsh, second from right, along with their third grade teacher Bethanne Augsbach, far right, present outgoing Mayor Richard Pucci, center, with a cake based off of one they made in 2007 as part of a third-grade project. Pucci was happy to spend time with the students during his final weeks in office.

“I can’t think of a more enjoyable visit as I close my tenure as mayor,” Pucci said. “We have some incredible students here in Monroe and it has been my pleasure to watch so many of them grow into fine adults.”

Jeanette Collier Appleby

Jeanette Collier Appleby died Dec. 18 at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick. She was 94.

Born in Roebling to the late William and Ida Jones Collier, she resided in South River and the Rossmoor community in Monroe Township before returning to South River.

She was a member of the Red Hat Society, the South River Seniors, the South River Lions Club Ladies Auxiliary and the Limo Ladies of Rossmoor. She enjoyed singing, traveling, reading and spending time with her family and friends.

She was a long time member of Conklin United Methodist Church, South River.

She was predeceased by her husband, C. Robert Appleby, in 1999; and by her son, C. Robert Appleby Jr., in 1991.

Surviving are her four sons, William and his wife, Linda, of South Seaside Park; David and his wife, Linda, of Sayreville; Brian and his wife, Noreen, of South River; and Kevin and his wife, Kathy, of South River; her daughter, Jeanette, and her husband, Stephen Biehl, of South River; 12 grandchildren; and eight great grandchildren.

Rezem Funeral Home, 457 Cranbury Road, East Brunswick, made the funeral arrangements. A funeral service was held at Conklin Methodist Church, 82 Main St., South River. Interment followed at Old Tennent Cemetery, Manalapan.

Visit www.rezemfh.com.

Time capsule contains treasure trove of 1965 info for students

Staff Writer

 A time capsule filled with handwritten letters in script by students in 1965 to the students in 2015, class photos, yearbooks and other mementos were unveiled at a celebration at Southwood Elementary School in Old Bridge on Dec. 1. A time capsule filled with handwritten letters in script by students in 1965 to the students in 2015, class photos, yearbooks and other mementos were unveiled at a celebration at Southwood Elementary School in Old Bridge on Dec. 1. OLD BRIDGE — The year was 1965: The war in Vietnam was escalating, Lyndon B. Johnson was the president of the United States and the British rock band “The Beatles” was all the rage.

Glenn Zellers, who was an eighth-grade student at Southwood Elementary School at the time, said what he enjoyed most about living in 1965 was McDonald’s and “Mike the submarine shop.”

“McDonald’s is a 15-cent hamburger place on Route 18 in East Brunswick,” he wrote. “Another place is Mike the submarine shop on Matawan Road in Old Bridge.”

Zellers’ letter to the class of 2015 was one of many letters found in a time capsule that was unveiled at a celebration at Southwood Elementary School on Dec. 1.

 PHOTOS BY KATHY CHANG/STAFF PHOTOS BY KATHY CHANG/STAFF Retired kindergarten teacher Relly Liebowitz said she started pushing to find the time capsule a few years ago.

Last spring, Principal Karen M. Foley said Tim Craft of the Department of Maintenance at the school took a look behind the 1965 cornerstone, which revealed a treasure trove of mementos from the school.

“The find was pretty impressive,” she said.

The items in the cornerstone included hand-written letters in script by the pupils to their 2015 counterparts. Others included class photos, yearbooks and other mementos.

“Hello. How is your flying car?” student Charles Miller wrote. “I always wondered when the world would be like the Jetsons on TV. … The houses must look very weird.”

Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry and Schools Superintendent David Cittadino joined the Southwood staff and members of the Parent Teacher Organization for the celebration.

Also participating was Melanie Minch- Klass, a 1969 graduate of Southwood, who is now supervisor of special services in the district. She read a letter from former Schools Superintendent Andrew Korshalla.

Staff members chose favorite portions of letters to read, which let students know the conditions at the time, from President John F. Kennedy being assassinated two years prior, to the war in Vietnam, to race relations that resulted in riots in Los Angeles, Mississippi and other southern states.

“There is a war going on in Vietnam now,” wrote student Kathryn David. “The United States has won some of the battles and the [guerrillas] have won some.”

One pupil asked the students of 2015 if the United States won the Vietnam War.

Other fun tidbits of the time included an early Touch Tone telephone and box television; boxer Muhammad Ali defeated Sonny Liston for the World Heavyweight Championship; and the average cost of a house was $13,600 and a gallon of gas sold for 31 cents.

Liebowitz spoke about her time at Southwood as an educator, which was at the time of the building expansion.

Principal Karen Foley said the school, after emptying the time capsule’s contents, plans to refill it with memorabilia from current Southwood pupils so it can be reopened in 2065.

Mariah Carey directs and stars with Lacey Chabert in ‘A Christmas Melody’

By Kellie Freeze,

 Lacey Chabert Lacey Chabert Mariah Carey’s music is an integral part of the holiday season, and now the Christmas chanteuse is gifting her talents to Hallmark’s most musical holiday film. The singer/actress is directing her first film, the aptly named A Christmas Melody, premiering Dec. 19 on Hallmark Channel.

The film stars Lacey Chabert as Kristin, a young fashion designer who shutters her big-city boutique and moves back to her hometown with her daughter (singing sensation Fina Strazza, of Broadway’s Matilda) in tow. The duo face a tumultuous adjustment to small-town life, further complicated by Kristin’s highschool nemesis (Carey). But the plucky family braves each challenge with the help of Kristin’s aunt — a local coffee shop owner (Kathy Najimy) — and the hunky local music teacher (Brennan Elliott).

Chabert reveals that one thing she and Carey bonded over was their mutual love of the holiday season. “I never thought anyone could love Christmas as much as I do until I met Mariah Carey,” she says. “She absolutely adores Christmas!” The pair also chatted about their love of holiday tunes, and Chabert admits that she has Carey’s holiday CDs on a near-constant loop.

Chabert also delights in the scenes she shot with her director, where Carey gets to flex her comedy chops as a mean girl. “She was excellent at those scenes,” says Chabert. “I really enjoyed those scenes with her so much, because they are really funny and of course, because it is Hallmark, you know that nothing’s too mean-spirited.” The repartee in the duo’s scenes is the film’s funniest.

The film, part of Hallmark’s “Countdown to Christmas,” has all of the family-friendly trappings we would expect from the network’s popular holiday programming block. And, of course, Carey adds her impeccable taste to the film’s visual design. “She is Miss Christmas,” laughs Chabert. “She has such a great eye for aesthetics and knowing what looks best, and what looks flattering and beautiful. She really wanted to capture the Christmas spirit and I feel like the movie did that. She really is a fantastic director.”

In addition to directing and starring in the festive flick, Carey also lends one of her most charming holiday hits to the film’s soundtrack. Carey isn’t the one singing “Oh Santa!” — but the upbeat and cheerful Christmas tune is pure perfection when sung by young phenom Strazza.

When we spoke, Chabert gushed about her young costar. “She is amazing. Fina is remarkably talented and so smart for her age. I mean … I shouldn’t even say ‘for her age.’ She is so smart in general. Just a wonderfully talented child and it was funny all that we have in common. I was actually on Broadway in Les Misérables at the same exact age. and she has been doing Broadway’s Matilda.” She adds, “I looked at her and she is just so tiny and young and it was hard to imagine myself ever being that tiny and young and handling your responsibility of performing in front of thousands of people live every night. It was just kind of cool to walk down memory lane with her.”

Chabert also shares high praise for her other castmates, saying Najimy “is a doll,” and considering Elliot — with whom she recently costarred in Hallmark’s All of My Heart — “a good friend.” The actress adds, “It is really nice to work with people who you get along with so well.”

The cast’s chemistry is palpable, their talent divine, and with Carey’s attention to directorial detail and discerning eye, this Christmas charmer may enjoy the same longevity as her other holiday classics.

Tom Hardy delivers a master class

In theaters now

Director Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential) introduces viewers to the Kray twins in his new film, Legend. The identical twin gangsters, Reggie and Ronnie, were two of the most notorious criminals in British history. Their empire rose in London’s East End during the 1960s and they dominated much of the illegal activity there. Helgeland’s film is a close examination of the twins, both portrayed by Tom Hardy.

Reggie Kray was the quiet but merciless twin — feared and revered at the same time, as many gangsters have been throughout history. He fashioned himself into a club owner, and though that wasn’t his primary source of income, it had a more legitimate ring to it. Frances Shea (Emily Browning) caught his eye and he was willing to do anything for her, though the one thing he could never seem to do was to become a truly legitimate businessman.

Ronnie Kray had been in a mental institution due to his instability. Quick to snap, Ronnie was the less rational of the two, and after his brother had him declared sane — through threats, of course — he worked with Reggie in their rise to dominance.

Despite disagreements between the two, they were brothers so devoted to each other that, to solve matters, each looked past the other’s shortcomings. While Reggie often looked out for Ronnie, Ronnie also had his own way of looking out for Reggie. Together their rise was impressive and, yes, legendary.

Brutal, yet orchestrated like a carefully crafted symphony, Legend tells us a story with visually striking images that are disconcerting but necessary — necessary to relay the otherwise indescribable violence that took place during the Krays’ rise to prominence. Helgeland, in both writing and directing the film, is deeply invested in the portrayal and walks a fine line with Legend’s violence. It’s harsh but not gratuitous.

The real star of this film is Tom Hardy, who portrays both twins; it’s a master class in acting. He transports himself from brother to brother with seeming ease, all the way down to the simple physical mannerisms of each twin. It feels as though he totally embodies each twin for who they are and what they possess. There aren’t many other actors who could be counted on to display this level of nuance in these roles.

This Legend is worth the price of admission just to see Tom Hardy; the rest is a bonus. The film is beautiful yet violent, compassionate yet abusive — all at once.

Rated: R
Stars: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning,
Taron Egerton
Director: Brian Helgeland
Grade: B

Monroe, Woodbridge receive sustainable grant funding

The Monroe Township and Woodbridge school districts were among seven public school districts and seven municipalities selected to receive Sustainable Jersey grants funded by the Gardinier Environmental Fund.

Monroe received $10,000 for “Energizing our Future.” Six online learning modules on energy sources and energy use will be created. The modules will be shared at each of the district’s eight schools by green team members. The green team will also present hands-on activities related to sustainable energy to students at each grade level. The project will culminate with a Sustainable Energy Tell a Friend Contest, which will be open to all classes in grades K-8.

Woodbridge received $30,000 for a microgrid study. Township resiliency will be increased by connecting several facilities throughout the town to establish a microgrid, which is made of small energy systems comprising distributed generation and electrical infrastructure that runs parallel to traditional grids. The grant will be used to plan and implement preliminary steps to build a microgrid, including a broad range of data collection aimed at identifying categories of facilities that may require power during a blackout.

“Investments in local energy projects will help us make progress toward the goal of a more sustainable and resilient New Jersey,” said Randall Solomon, who co-directs Sustainable Jersey with Donna Drewes. “Congratulations to the forwardthinking school districts and municipalities that developed these projects.”

“The Gardinier Environmental Fund is committed to conserving the earth’s energy resources and enhancing renewable energy measures,” said Gene Wentzel, president of the Gardinier Environmental Fund. “We are proud to stand alongside Sustainable Jersey, and to continue to fund worthy projects that support our mutual goals in New Jersey.”

To date, the Gardinier Environmental Fund has provided $365,000 to the Sustainable Jersey Small Grants program.

Monroe to name historic school after former councilman Miller

Staff Writer

MONROE — The 19th-century historic Prospect Plains Road Schoolhouse will be named after former long-time Councilman Henry L. “Hank” Miller.

The Township Council voted in favor of a resolution of the dedication at a council meeting on Dec. 9.

Miller served as a councilman for 24 years before retiring in 2013. During his tenure, he was instrumental in establishing the Monroe Township Historical Preservation Commission.

The schoolhouse along Federal Road is the only remaining one-room schoolhouse of 16 that served as the local educational facilities until 1936.

The first phase to restore the schoolhouse and barn was underway in August on the site of the Charles Dey farm.

The Dey Farmhouse, which already stands on the site, serves as a museum, packed with historic artifacts ranging from Native American arrowheads to World War II-era news clippings and 1940s television sets, all donated by local residents.

The 16 one-room school buildings were all built between 1838 and 1850, officials said. Those schools were shut down when the Barclay Brook School and the Applegarth School were built in 1936 as part of the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration.

The school under reconstruction on Federal Road then became the old municipal building on Prospect Plains Road until the current town hall opened in 1982.

It was then periodically used by the local recreation department, as well as utilized as a food pantry until it was taken down and preserved.

The project to restore the schoolhouse and the original Dey Barn is taking place on a 40-acre tract donated by Renaissance Properties, developer of nearby Southfield Estates, in 2001. Monroe received a $1 million grant from Middlesex County to undertake the historic preservation.

Mayor Richard Pucci said he spoke with Council President Gerald Tamburro about doing something special at his last official council meeting as mayor.

He said Miller’s service to the township, which also included a position as chairman of the Planning Board and an educator, made Miller special to not only his administration, but to the entire community.

“We wanted to have a remembrance picture plaque name in honor of your great achievements,” Pucci said to Miller at the meeting.

Miller said it is remarkable how Monroe Township has grown and said the township is fortunate for the many “good people” who live here.

“Ladies and gentleman, it has been an honor to serve … thank you so much for what you have given to me,” he said.

Tamburro said the official ceremony for naming the building would take place in spring 2016.