Race, ride and party into 2016

TOP PICK

iPlay America rings in the New Year with a blast during the Fifth annual New Year’s Eve Bash from 7:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 31. iPlay America’s New Year’s Eve Party pass includes unlimited rides and attractions, a $10 game card, party favors, spectacular prizes and giveaways throughout the evening, a confetti cannon, light show and great music pumping through the entire park, with a live D.J., all for just $39.99. A la carte treats can be purchased at Sonny’s Boardwalk Grill, Boardwalk Bites, Rob’s Pizza, The Grind Coffee Co. and Mixx Frozen Yogurt throughout the celebration.

The New Year’s Eve Party and Prix Fixe Dinner pass is just $79.99 for adults and $54.99 for children age 12 and younger. This pass includes everything in the New Year’s Eve Party Pass plus a champagne toast for adults 21 and older. Dinner reservations begin at 7:30 p.m. and are for 90 minute seatings with staggered seatings every 15 minutes. Toddlers are free. Reservations are required to 732-577-8200.

You can watch the ball drop on one of iPlay America’s multitude of big screen monitors. iPlay America is located at 110 Schanck Road in Freehold.For more information call 732-577-8200 or visit iPlayAmerica.com/NYE2016.

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 Vito, Ph.D., a psychologist with offices in Morristown and Watchung.

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

Organization, Vito 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

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

Sustainable Jersey recognizes Howell environmental effort

By JENNIFER ORTIZ
Staff Writer

The Howell Green Team — which works to promote good stewardship of the environment — has earned the level of bronze certification from Sustainable Jersey.

Sustainable Jersey is a nonprofit entity that encourages municipal officials and residents to think about the planet and the quality of life where people live, said Brian Tannenhaus, who serves on the Howell Planning Board and on the Green Team.

The Township Council recognized the Green Team during a recent meeting.

Nicholas Huszar, an environmental geologist who serves on the Green Team and on the Howell Environmental Commission, said, “Howell met the requirements to achieve Sustainable Jersey certification. We were one of 48 towns that attained certification in 2015 and were recently honored at the Sustainable Jersey awards luncheon on Nov. 17 in Atlantic City.”

Tannenhaus added, “It is not all about making sure the plastic bottle we drink our water out of goes in the right container. It is about trying to make Howell a better place, to bring a better quality of life to Howell.” Sustainable Jersey uses a point system to award levels of certification, based on a municipality meeting certain criteria

Huszar said an updated natural resource inventory for Howell was completed and a successful prescription drug safety and disposal program was conducted.

“The town is already doing things that are green and sustainable. Our employees are already thinking about how (they) can save the town money and how can we make Howell a better place,” Tannenhaus said.

The Green Team gathered the information and filed the paperwork with Sustainable Jersey. Tannenhaus thanked municipal employees and the council for making certain everything that needed to be in place was in place.

Tannenhaus said residents are welcome to join the Green Team. He thanked current members Gerard Barron, Daniel Cardellichio, Charles Senders, Mary Ann Cernak and Nicholas Huszar for their efforts on behalf of the community.

“We just need some more people on our team to start gathering the information and start to get some programs put together. There are some points that require people to educate the town. So we need some volunteers who may want to go into the schools and teach (about the) environment,” Tannenhaus said.

Deputy Mayor Robert

Nicastro said, “Since Howell became Sustainable Jersey certified, we have been informed we are eligible to apply for grants of $20,000, $10,000 and $2,000. The Green Team and the administration will review the process and criteria and proceed from there.” Nicastro said the type of projects that would qualify for a grant include renewable energy and green building design, waste reduction, a sustainable master plan, water conservation, natural resources management, energy management and transportation issues.

Tannenhaus said the Green Team will now pursue silver certification from Sustainable Jersey.

Huszar said all of the efforts are aimed at saving money, improving energy efficiency, improving health and wellness, reducing waste, sustaining local economies and protecting natural resources.

Speaking about the residents who joined the Green Team when it was recently reconstituted by municipal officials, Nicastro said, “After working with this group of people, I can tell you they are committed and dedicated. We asked them to achieve this (Sustainable Jersey) bronze certification in a short time and obviously they were motivated and we got it done.”

Mayor Bill Gotto said, “Your group (the Green Team) is an example of some of the good things we just don’t spend enough time talking about. Every member was constantly giving value and making sure nothing was left behind. You had a goal and the mission was clear and the results are just stellar. It is an unbelievable job.”

Residents who are interested in volunteering for the Green Team may apply on the Howell website or email Huszar at nhuszar@earthsys.net.

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.

Fire districts will merge Jan. 1

JACKSON – Municipal officials have taken the final step needed to merge the operation of two fire districts in Jackson.

An ordinance memorializing the consolidation of Fire District No. 1 and Fire District No. 2 was unanimously adopted by the Township Council during its Dec. 8 meeting. With that act, the number of fire districts in Jackson will decrease from four to three.

Each fire district is served by a fire company in the district and overseen by fire commissioners who are elected by residents of the fire district.

The consolidation of fire districts 1 and 2 will become effective Jan. 1.

Municipal officials voted to dissolve Fire District No. 1 (which is served by the Whitesville Fire Company, South Hope Chapel Road) and incorporate it into Fire District 2 (which is served by the Cassville Volunteer Fire Company No. 1, one station on Toms River Road and one station on Miller Avenue).

The new entity will be known as Jackson Township Fire District No. 2 and all future equipment will receive that new name.

Jackson Fire District No. 3 (served by Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Company No. 1) and Jackson Fire District No. 4 (served by Jackson Mills Volunteer Fire Company No. 1) will remain as independent entities.

The consolidation of fire districts 1 and 2 “means more efficiency and savings for taxpayers,” Councilman Scott Martin said. “This is a means to save money for the taxpayers without compromising safety.”

Fire District No. 1 Commissioner Christopher Aldrich previously said a majority of the expected savings will be realized by the removal of redundancies in the fire districts’ professional staff. For example, the new consolidated fire district will employ one attorney, compared to the existing fire districts each employing an attorney.

Fire districts are supported through a tax that each property owner in the fire district pays. Fire District No. 1’s budget for 2015 totaled $615,902 and Fire District No. 2’s budget for 2015 totaled $1.2 million.

Officials said the consolidation of fire districts 1 and 2 will not bring about layoffs for career (paid) firefighters or require the reduction of available apparatus. The consolidated fire district will be comprised of six full-time paid personnel, 15 paid per diem personnel and more than 100 volunteer firefighters.

— Andrew Martins

Feeding 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.

Evergreens may be recycled

PLUMSTED – For the fourth consecutive year, the Plumsted Youth for Nature and the Environment (PYNE) will collect discarded pine trees and fir trees and bring them to Bradley Beach, Monmouth County, to support dune restoration efforts.

For many towns along the shore, sand dunes help to stave off beach erosion and prevent flooding.

According to PYNE, the discarded trees help to rebuild dunes because the branches bind the sand together. The trees also feed dune grasses as they decompose. However, because the trees decompose, they must be replaced every year.

PYNE Vice President Dominic Esposito said members of the group became interested in dune restoration and the recycling of Christmas trees after superstorm Sandy battered the state’s coastal areas in 2012.

Since Sandy made landfall and caused more than $71 billion in damage across 24 states, communities like Bradley Beach have been successful in using evergreen trees to help build up depleted dunes.

Undecorated pine trees and fir trees will be collected at the Plumsted maintenance building parking lot at the end of Pine Street on the following dates: Jan. 2 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Jan. 3 from 1-4 p.m.; Jan. 9 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Jan. 10 from 1-4 p.m.; Jan. 16 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and Jan. 17 from 9-11 a.m. Volunteers will help bring the donated trees to the collection area. Residents who are unable to bring a tree to the maintenance building at those times may request a curbside pickup.

For more information, send an email to pyne.vicepresident@gmail.com or to pyne.president@gmail.com.

Grocery stores expand services

By KAYLA J. MARSH
Staff Writer

 Today, grocery stores are offering more than just aisles of food to customers, as illustrated by this gingerbread cookie decorating class that was held at Whole Foods Market, Marlboro, on Dec. 17.  STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR Today, grocery stores are offering more than just aisles of food to customers, as illustrated by this gingerbread cookie decorating class that was held at Whole Foods Market, Marlboro, on Dec. 17. STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR Area grocery stores are slowly changing the way they cater to their customers by providing more services and programs to help make a regular trip to the supermarket a day filled with fun, learning and adventure.

From nutritional assistance, children’s classes and even free home delivery services, supermarkets have become hotspots of activities and resources, showing it is not just about the shopping, but about community togetherness. “I feel like we are definitely providing something more than just shopping,” said Laura Fette, marketing team leader at Whole Foods Market in Marlboro.

“I feel like the store has been a destination for events, whether kid- or adult-focused, and we are even finding people within the community, partnering with them and helping them to build their own businesses, and I think that has been what has worked really well here — finding what our community needs and really catering to it.”

 Children of all ages watch a gingerbread cookie demonstration by Dani B. Fiori at Whole Foods Market in Marlboro on Dec. 17.  STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR Children of all ages watch a gingerbread cookie demonstration by Dani B. Fiori at Whole Foods Market in Marlboro on Dec. 17. STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR According to Fette, Whole Foods in Marlboro offers some unique partnerships and classes for its clientele, such as with Heirloom Kitchen in Old Bridge for cooking classes and Macaroni Kids of Western Monmouth County, where children get to make their own pizza and macaroni necklaces.

“Finding these local experts who are really trying to build their businesses as well, and collaborating together to bring programming inside the store, people see we are beyond a shopping destination,” Fette said. “We’re offering the full scope of things.”

Fette also said the store offers a You & Me Toddler Program several times a month.

“Each Whole Foods Market is different, and I really feel like that we cater to our community … we’re becoming a part of people’s routine beyond just shopping,” she said.

Aside from classes, Michael Sinatra, public relations and public affairs director at Whole Foods Market’s Northeast Region, said the supermarket chain also offers additional services such as catering and takes pride in giving back to local communities.

“A lot of people enjoy taking advantage of our programming, such as our special ordering and catering services and our special menus,” he said.

At Whole Foods Market, customers can make shopping quick and easy by reserving and ordering meals, entrees, and party must-haves online and then picking them up at the store.

“We definitely see a higher volume of orders this time of year, but customers are aware and use this service at various times of the year,” Sinatra said.

The supermarket chain also participates in community giving days or what they refer to as “5% Days.”

“Each store is always donating food to area food banks and shelters,” Sinatra said. “Then several times a year, we hold community giving days where five percent of that day’s net sales are donated to a local area charity or educational organization.”

The Whole Foods Market in Marlboro will also join the Manalapan and Marlboro municipalities for holiday tree lighting events, providing baked goods, hot chocolate and company.

“I feel like we do a lot in the community,” Fette said. “People are coming here for things, but we’re also coming to them as well … and I think that makes a big difference too.”

Valerie Fox, media relations coordinator at Wegmans Food Markets, said providing services such as catering and a free public app is about making customers’ lives and shopping experience as simple as possible.

“Wegmans’ aim is always to help mealtimes for families be as great and easy as possible,” she said.

“Our services help save customers time … but I think the number one thing that separates us are our people and customer service representatives who provide an added convenience.”

One service Fox said Wegmans provides is a free downloadable app that makes going to the supermarket less of a hassle.

“The Wegmans app is a very useful tool,” she said. “Customers can create their shopping list right there, and it’ll sort everything by aisle, and as you add items to your list, it will automatically estimate the total so you can manage your budget.”

On the app, customers can also browse through hundreds of recipes and add ingredients to their shopping list with just one touch and can even watch easy how-to videos to make meals easier.

“We also offer three ways for customers to enjoy our catering services, and that is either by going online, ordering by phone or by coming into your local Wegmans store,” Fox said.

From simple cheese and deli platters to cocktail party menus, complete holiday dinners and even delicious dessert trays, catering experts and chefs help with cooking and planning so families can have a memorable gathering.

“Many families have told us that they just don’t have time to do all the prep work themselves, so while this is not a full catering service with people coming to your home to serve, it provides our customers a service where they can order all their party-planning needs in one place.”

At ShopRite, a growing service is the supermarket’s ShopRite From Home program, which allows customers to save time and energy by ordering their groceries from the convenience of their own residence.

“The majority of ShopRite stores offer the ShopRite From Home service, which allows customers to shop online and pick up groceries at the store or have those groceries delivered right to their doorstep,” said Karen O’Shea, spokeswoman for Wakefern Food Corp.

Whether you are a busy parent, are injured or can’t make it to the store for some other reason, the ShopRite From Home service is an effortless way to get all the groceries you need with the click of a button.

“The ShopRite Mobile App and ShopRite From Home service allow customers to place orders electronically, and those grocery orders are then shopped in store by personal, trained shoppers,” O’Shea said. “Customers can tell our shoppers how they like their produce picked or cold cuts sliced. Our shoppers will also call customers at home if we are out of a certain item.

“Service is key, and it’s the reason our ShopRite From Home service continues to grow each year.”

Heather Casey of Edison said that, with being a mom of four sons and she and her husband both working full time, ShopRite from Home allows her to order her groceries on her time and schedule the deliveries for when it is most convenient.

“With four kids and both my husband and I working full time, every second counts,” Casey said. “We started using ShopRite from Home when my youngest son was born and food shopping became an added challenge.

“It is so helpful because we can shop from our phones or computer early in the morning or late in the evening when the kids are asleep and schedule pickups [or] deliveries around our work/family schedules. I rarely see the inside of the store any more because this service is so helpful!”

The ShopRite Pharmacy App makes getting prescriptions easier for customers.

“The ShopRite Pharmacy App makes managing prescriptions simple by allowing customers to refill prescriptions and transfer prescriptions right to their local ShopRite,” O’Shea said.

Diana Fransis, retail dietitian program supervisor at Wakefern Food Corp., works closely with more than 120 registered dietitians across 130 stores, training them to work with customers and educating them on making healthier choices while food shopping, as well as carrying out these choices by preparing healthy, well-balanced meals.

“Our registered dietitians will sit down with customers in a free one-on-one consultation, talk about their needs and goals, find out what they are looking for, dive into a diet plan and will even walk around the store with customers showing them where the food that is best for them is,” Fransis said.

ShopRite’s Culinary Workshops is a hands-on cooking class program taught by professionals who share their skills and knowledge, helping customers acquire limitless meal possibilities that include delicious, healthy ingredients.

“They’re cooking full meals with appetizers, entrees, desserts, and we even have a kids cooking class that teaches them how to make a very easy meal.”

According to Fransis, part of the supermarket’s Health and Wellness program includes the Dietitian’s Selection recipe program, a collection of recipes featuring healthy ingredients and essential nutrients while limiting the amount of fats, cholesterol and sodium.

“People are becoming much more aware about healthy eating and getting proper nutrition, and there is so much that our registered dietitians and chefs offer and can help with,” Fransis said. “All our services are free.”

Arlene Putterman, manager of public and community relations at Stop & Shop’s New York Metro Division, said getting prepared for the holidays or other festive occasions is easy as customers can order party platters, desserts, cakes and other arrangements online for in-store pickup and can order flowers.

“Stop & Shop provides fully prepared holiday dinners,” she said. “All the fixings without the prep work.”

Putterman said the supermarket’s Peapod service also makes delivering groceries to your home or business easy.

“Peapod online home delivery service strives to deliver convenience and value,” she said. “Customers can order online or on Peapod’s free mobile app for grocery home delivery or car-side service at one of our many pickup locations.”

Briefs due in January on NJNG pipeline proposal

By MARK ROSMAN
Staff Writer

A proposal by New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG) to construct a natural gas pipeline through parts of Burlington, Monmouth and Ocean counties will be on the docket for the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) in 2016.

The company’s proposal has been in the news since early in 2015 when it filed a petition with the BPU to construct the Southern Reliability Link (SRL). The project would connect the natural gas system in the three counties to a new supply point with the Transcontinental Pipe Line Company (Transco) in Chesterfield, Burlington County.

During the summer, residents and elected officials had a chance to state their views about the SRL at two public hearings that were held by the BPU.

The board will eventually make a determination on the 30- mile-long natural gas pipeline that is proposed to cross a portion of southcentral New Jersey, including portions of Upper Freehold Township, Jackson and Plumsted.

In July, BPU Commissioner Dianne Solomon granted the motions to intervene of the Burlington County Board of Freeholders, Chesterfield Township and North Hanover Township. She also granted the motions to participate of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance and Plumsted Township, including the right to argue orally and to file a brief or statement, according to an order establishing a post-hearing briefing schedule Solomon filed on Dec. 10.

The order states that an evidentiary hearing was held on Dec. 7 and that NJNG proposed an expedited briefing schedule, with initial briefs to be filed on Dec. 23 and reply briefs to be filed on Jan. 6. The intervenors and the Pinelands Preservation Alliance proposed that initial briefs be filed on Jan. 15 and reply briefs be filed on Jan. 29.

Solomon wrote in the order that she concluded that the expedited briefing schedule proposed by NJNG would not provide sufficient time for the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel, BPU staff, and the intervenors and participants “to thoroughly review the extensive record that was created in this proceeding to prepare and file their positions on the petition (for the new pipeline).” Solomon directed that initial briefs are to be filed by Jan. 15 and reply briefs are to be filed by Jan. 29.

John Valeri, an attorney representing NJNG, previously said, “The SRL project is necessary to support the reliability and system integrity of the company’s natural gas transmission system. It provides a second major transmission tool to a critical part of the company’s service area … which serves Monmouth and Ocean counties and a portion of Burlington County.”

According to NJNG, the SRL is a highpressure 30-inch-diameter pipeline that would run 30 miles from Chesterfield Township in Burlington County to Manchester Township in Ocean County. The utility states the SRL would “provide supply diversity and system resiliency, supporting the safe, reliable distribution of natural gas to more than one million people.”

The SRL would connect a natural gas system that serves customers in Monmouth, Ocean and Burlington counties to a new Transco supply point in Chesterfield. The new pipeline will tie into NJNG’s transmission system in Manchester that is near the southern end of the transmission system.

As things stand today, Valeri said, the utility’s service area is served by a single pipeline that runs through Middlesex County, which he said is “well outside of the company’s franchise area.”

Since there are no intrastate pipelines in NJNG’s shore service area, Valeri testified that the company had “no other choice” but to run a secondary pipeline through an area of the state it does not serve. At a public hearing this summer, Jaclyn Rhoads, the assistant executive director of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, took issue with NJNG’s statement that it needs to bolster resilience for the company’s shore area at all.

“New Jersey Natural Gas has not demonstrated this pipeline is necessary or even desirable for maintaining or safeguarding the region’s natural gas supply,” Rhoads said.