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The Wildwood Leader

Published, Wednesday, August 29, 2007

New Jersey, USA

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DeMarzo questions why Burgess was paid after resigning
By MAUREEN L. CAWLEY Correspondent

WILDWOOD – It was an audit of the city budget that first uncovered that Tagaloa George Burgess stole $112,122 in municipal money while he worked as the city’s recreation director from October 1999 to July 2004, according to the county prosecutor. Now, another city audit completed last month is raising questions about the way the Burgess case was handled. On July 10, 2007, the auditing firm of Ford, Scott, Seidenburg and Kennedy completed a review of the city’s financial records, and determined that the city had been lacking in four areas, including its handling of Burgess’s “retirement benefits.” Commissioner Gary DeMarzo raised questions about the auditor’s findings at a commission meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 22. He followed up with a press release on Tuesday outlining the details. “Mr. Burgess was paid (by the city) a total of $25,498.78 - a number both calculated incorrectly and in violation of the City Ordinance.” DeMarzo says $20,000 in “Sick-Time” and an additional $5,498.78 in “Vacation-Time” less $8,053.09 in payroll taxes was paid to Burgess after his resignation and before his June 9 date in Cape May County Superior Court. Demarzo said the action taken by the city that he found “most disturbing” is that the city lent Burgess $8,053.09 “in what amounts to a ‘no interest’ personal loan” so that he was able to present the full amount (due) of $25,498.78 to Superior Court.” The payment of that amount allowed Burgess to receive a reduced sentence. “Based on the Local Ordinance 1010, and the supporting documents, it was without question, that Mr. Burgess was not entitled to any of his accrued ‘sick-time,’ ” DeMarzo wrote. According to the auditor, the payout violated city ordinance 1010, which governs the payment of retirement and vacation benefits to city workers. The audit said that the city paid out accumulated time to “an employee who resigned” and the payment included “a large portion related to unused sick time, which is not in accordance with (city) Ordinance 1010.” DeMarzo said several department heads within the city protested the actions both informally and formally. DeMarzo revealed on Wednesday that that employee was in fact, Burgess, and the payout occurred prior to DeMarzo taking office in May. “I was very disturbed by it,” he said, and he believes an investigation should take place to find out “how Mr. Burgess was provided with a large sum of money” in violation of the ordinance. DeMarzo noted that additionally the payout was unfair to “other employees that have left under more favorable circumstances (and) received nothing.” He indicated that Burgess did not retire from the city, but resigned, and had he retired, he would only have been entitled to $18,000. On Wednesday, DeMarzo said he was not satisfied with city solicitor Marcus Karavan’s response to his questions. In his release he wrote: “When brought to the attention of the City Solicitor, the only explanation was that ‘Under the Circumstance’ it was the correct course of action. Unable to substantiate the action I have presented this information to the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office as a first step in the resolution. Their outcome will dictate the direction.” Karavan maintained on Wednesday that the interpretation of the ordinance was a matter of semantics, and he said that the county prosecutor and the State Department of Community Affairs (DCA) “actually commended the city” for its handling of the Burgess case. When asked about Karavan’s comments on Monday, County Prosecutor Robert Taylor said, “Obviously, Wildwood cooperated fully.” Taylor said that the arrangement to have the money due to Burgess go directly toward restitution seemed like a good plan for the city. “I was aware of the fact that Mr. Burgess was owed money in some broad general way,” he said. ”By paying it with one hand and getting it in the other, it worked out well.” Taylor said he didn’t know anything about the loan of $8,000 specifically. The DCA did not respond to inquiries in time for our deadline. In his release on Tuesday, DeMarzo said he has been unable to find any “documentation for any organization that endorsed (the) actions taken by …Wildwood elected officials.”  He noted that the city did receive a “generic form letter that the ‘Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy’ uses to notify the aggrieved party of a particular outcome.” That letter, signed by the county prosecutor, thanks the city for its “help and cooperation” with the case. In October 2005, Burgess pleaded guilty to charges that over a five-year period, he stole city money by keeping the names of former city employees on the books and cashing checks written to their names, First Assistant Prosecutor J. David Meyer said last January. Burgess was expected to receive a four-year prison sentence and pay restitution to the city, as part of a plea agreement. And it was also expected that he would no longer be able to hold public office or to work as a public employee, Meyer said. But at that time, Meyer also said that the Prosecutor’s Office had left open the potential of his sentence being slightly less if he paid the restitution in its entirety by his June 9, 2006 court date. But Burgess would serve time in state prison, Meyer said. “Regardless of what restitution is paid at that time, sentencing will take place,” he said at the time. At his June 9 hearing Burgess was sentenced to 374 days in county jail, five years probation and was required to pay $36,623.87 in additional restitution.

More findings from the audit

WILDWOOD -- In addition to concerns about the disbursement of funds in the George Burgess case, the firm of Ford, Scott, Seidenburg and Kennedy noted additional “findings” in need of improvement in the city audit, dated July 10, 2007. Finding 1 states: “The city did not keep a timely record of (required) fixed asset activity for 2006…a deletion report could not be provided to identify the historical cost of a number of vehicles sold at the City auction…The responsible department appears not to track or record nay changes to land, building or building improvements.” The absence of this list creates “an inaccurate valuation of city assets and inadequate controls over the recording and safeguarding of assets,” according to the audit. Finding 2 states that water meter sales receipts were not deposited in a timely manner, and recommends that they be deposited within 48 hours. Finding 3 relates to the George Burgess Case (see related story). Finding 4 maintains that the city did not conform to the local ordinance regarding special events and vendor permit fees, causing “a violation of local ordinance and a reduction of related revenue.” Mayor Ernie Troiano said on Tuesday that the findings represent “very, very, very minute points of interest,” and that Commissioner DeMarzo is attempting to embarrass the former city administration and the city solicitor by raising questions about issues that have been resolved. “Do you know how many things are done in the course of the year?” Troiano said. “I’d put up the way we run our business against any other. Return to Story Index

Maureen L. Cawley can be e-mailed at or you can comment on this story by calling 624-8900,

Wildwood homeowners could see tax increase
By MAUREEN L. CAWLEY Correspondent

WILDWOOD – The tax decrease promised in the $24.1 million budget that the city introduced in April during the hotly-contested election season may be in jeopardy if high-rise developers don’t belly-up to the bar. The introductory budget promised a tax rate of 79.7 cents per $100 of assessed value -- a decrease of 1.5 cents from the 2006 budget, but it relied on $500,000 in anticipated revenue from the sale of special liquor licenses available to hotels with more than 100 sleeping rooms. The licenses are issued by the state but can be regulated locally. The city placed two such licenses up for sale in 2001, but neither sold. In August 2005, with the promise of high-rise hotels looming on the horizon, the licenses went up for sale again at a minimum bid of $250,000. One was purchased by PPI Rio Associates LLC, the developer of the future Nouveau Wave Hotel planned for the former site of the Rio Motel, at the corner of Rio Grande and Ocean avenues. It is being held by the city, while the developer waits for state approval to build the 25-story hotel, according to City Clerk Chris Wood. The other license received no bids. Commissioners tried again this year after including money from the licenses in the 2007 budget, allowing for an election season tax decrease. An amendment to a local law was passed last month to increasing the allowable number of hotel/ motel liquor licenses from two to five. At the time, Mayor Ernie Troiano said he believed the licenses would sell for the opening bid of $250,000. “I think they’ll (developers) bid on them,” he said. “They are not going to get any cheaper.” But a public auction held Aug. 15 brought no bidders to the table. Another auction has been scheduled for Sept 10 at 2:30 p.m. in City Hall to try to sell the licenses again. But the city anticipates another revenue shortfall. One hundred thousand dollars of anticipated ambulance fees never materialized, Commissioner Gary DeMarzo said on Wednesday, so the city will need to balance a $600,000 hole in the budget by bringing in money from other sources, cutting expenses or raising taxes. Now a Sept. 18 deadline is looming from the county for the city to certify its tax rate, and commissioners must approve the 2007 budget by then to include the city’s “anticipated added assessment” of new taxable property estimated to bring $300,000 to $500,000 in surplus to the budget. And he says, “A tax increase is not ruled out.” In fact, DeMarzo said, the rate decrease introduced in April could be reversed by a rate change totaling as much as 3.4 cents per $100,000 of assessed value if a full $600,000 is not received or cut from the budget – a change that will mean a 1.9-cent increase for residents. That means the owner of a $300,000 property, who anticipated paying $2,391 in local taxes for 2007 will instead pay $2,493. Troiano said that he believes the licenses might still sell. “People have said they’d be interested in them,” he said, and the asking price remains at $250,000. Troiano said he did not realize that when the budget was introduced former commissioner Kathy Breuss had included two such licenses in the 2007 budget. He said he would not have included two, but he is working with to get the licenses sold. Resident Bob Angeline told commissioners at last week’s meeting that he believes Wildwood’s tax rate keeps vacationers from buying here. He said his property taxes have climbed from $6,000 to $10,000 in just a few years. “There’s got to be a way to stop the tax increases,” he said. “Why not have a budget that is 10 percent below what we can live with, and then maybe more people would want to come here.” Angeline said he believes there is ‘fat’ in the city budget that could be cut. “I can tell you on my budget, we don’t have any fat. I am hoping to make it to the end of the year,” Mayor Ernie Troiano said. Troiano said he believes the development of high-rises in the city will add to the ratable base and decrease taxes. But Angeline said he worries that the mega-structures will increase the drain on city services and the budget, and he worries that the condo units in the building will not sell causing a greater stress on the budget. Regardless of who owns them – an individual investor or the developer - the properties will need to pay taxes, Troiano said, and that will increase city revenue. “If we could just keep the taxes down, there would be more trust here,” Angeline said. Troiano said cuts will need to be made if the liquor licenses are not sold. “We live in this town, too, and we pay taxes, too,” he said. Return to Story Index

Maureen L. Cawley can be e-mailed at or you can comment on this story by calling 624-8900, ext. 250.

North Wildwood man charged in fatal stabbing

MAYS LANDING – A North Wildwood man was formally charged Thursday in the Aug. 12 slaying of a British tourist visiting Margate. Robert Davies, 46, of New York Avenue, was arraigned in Superior Court before Judge Michael Connor Thursday morning after he turned himself in to the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office accompanied by his attorney. He was charged with aggravated manslaughter, possession of a knife for an unlawful purpose and tampering with physical evidence in connection with the fatal stabbing of Lavern P. Ritch, of Penarth, England, who died from a single stab wound to the chest. Police believe Ritch was stabbed when he attempted to intervene in a disagreement between Davies and another individual early Sunday morning, Aug. 12, on the street near Maynard’s Café on Amherst Avenue. The prosecutor alleges that Davies stabbed Ritch and fled, disposing of the knife and other physical evidence of the crime, according to a press release. Conner set bail for Davies at $35,000 cash. He is required to secure a $50,000 bond and was to be released with a GPS monitoring ankle bracelet that will permit him access to southern New Jersey and a portion of Pennsylvania, where his family is said to reside. The prosecutor said Davies is a painter. At a press conference after the arraignment, Housel was asked if the bail and GPS monitoring might be viewed as lenient given that Davies has the possibility of release should he make bail. “The fact that Davies made himself available to us speaks volumes that he is not a flight risk,” Housel said. “The purpose of bail is to assure the person makes their court appearance. We feel the bail is appropriate in this case.” He added, “It is not out of the realm of the grand jury to return with a charge of murder in this case.” He indicated there will likely be a request from Davies’ attorney for a probable-cause hearing. The prosecutor answered “No comment” when asked about previous charges filed against Davies or the circumstances surrounding the events leading up to the killing, saying that he is bound by the rules of conduct in releasing information. The New Jersey State Police Sex Offender Registry lists Davies as a Tier 2 sex offender. Housel thanked the agencies that assisted in the investigation – the Margate Police Department, the Atlantic County Prosecutors Office, North Wildwood Police Department, and the Middle Township Police Department. Return to Story Index

Suzanne Marino can be e-mailed at or you can comment on this story by calling 624-8900, ext. 250.

Open House, College Fair set for Sept. 30

MAYS LANDING—Join Atlantic Cape Community College for an Open House and the 45th annual College Fair from 1-3 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 30, at ACCC’s Mays Landing Campus, 5100 Black Horse Pike. During ACCC’s Open House, information on various college services and career and academic programs will be available. Representatives from the Academy of Culinary Arts will also provide information about that program, its alumni, career opportunities and placement. Continuing education staff will offer details on personal and professional development workshops, seminars and short-term career training. Dozens of colleges are expected to attend, including Fairleigh Dickinson University, Penn State University, Rider University, Rowan University, Rutgers University, Temple University, University of Rhode Island and Widener University. For more information on ACCC’s Open House or the College Fair, contact Linda McLeod at 343-5009, 463-4774 or 625-1111, ext. 5009, or e-mail Return to Story Index

Happy ending after tragic event for Animal Outreach

CAPE MAY--Animal Outreach animal shelter in Cape May has begun to pick up the pieces from a tragic fire this spring. In May, a trailer used to house the shelter’s 37 cats caught fire in the middle of the night and they all perished in the flames. Several years ago, however, the shelter bought a 3.5-acre parcel of land near the old site on Bayshore Road with the hopes of one day building something more substantial than a trailer. Funds were limited for the volunteer no-kill shelter, but still shelter officials said they planned to not only rebuild the facility they had lost, but to expand it. Today, a bigger and better shelter is in the works, officials said, and the goal is to provide foster care, housing and help for animals in need. “Right now we have a committee of contractors, architects and people who are experts in this area,” said the shelter’s president, Ellen Shaw. “We’re trying to nail down a design because it’s very general at this point.” With the help of a cat food company and local retailer, Animal Outreach may finally fulfill its dream of building a better shelter for animals. On Friday, Aug. 31 and Saturday, Sept. 1, Animal Outreach will receive a check for $10,000 raised by 9Lives and Acme. The funds were raised through purchases of 9Lives cat food, according to account coordinator Scott Smiley, and this shelter was chosen to receive the donation. “This is our seventh run of donations this year,” Smiley said. “What we do is usually chose different shelters throughout the country to receive these donations and we chose Cape May (Animal Outreach) when we heard of the what was really a tragic event.” Smiley said along with the donation, Animal Outreach will team up with 9Lives this weekend to hold a huge adoption event. The first of its kind, according to Shaw, the event will take place on Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Acme on Bayshore Road in North Cape May and from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Acme on Court House-Dennisville Road in Cape May Court House. On Saturday volunteers will be at the Acme in Cape May Court House 12 to 4 p.m., followed by the check presentation. Volunteers for the shelter and 9Lives will be on hand for on-site adoptions, games and prizes. Smiley said visitors can take a satellite tour of an extension of 9Lives’ mobile adoption center as well has have access to a cat quiz kiosk. “People can see what type of cat person they are and what type of cat would be best for them,” Smiley said. “There will also be an adoption center website available for people to take tours of various shelters and adoption centers that may have what they’re looking for.” Some cats may be adopted on site, but the county’s shelters require the completion of paperwork and a background check before taking any pets home. In the meantime, Shaw said because the shelter has always helped homeless cats and dogs, the new shelter will house both. “We’ve always wanted to help dogs,” she said, “we just never had the room. The trailer was just one mission, one aspect of our mission. We’ve always struggled to raise money to build a shelter here and now we can focus on building it.” Shaw said the shelter is homeless at this point, and functions as a network to help homeless animals find homes. Foster and permanent homes for pets are desperately needed, Shaw said, and the best way to get information on dogs and cats in need is to visit Return to Story Index

Lauryl DeSantis can be e-mailed at or you can comment on this story by calling 624-8900, ext. 250.

Cape Assist sets CPS schedule for fall

WILDWOOD -- This fall, Cape Assist will host several classes required for the designation of Certified Prevention Specialist. A full CPS class schedule through August 2008 is now available. All classes are held at Cape Assist’s offices at 3819 New Jersey Ave., Wildwood. Classes run from 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. and the cost for each class is $50. For more information, a complete CPS Class Schedule, or to register for a class, visit -- or call Joe Faldetta, CPS Coordinator, at 522-5960. Return to Story Index


31 charged in coke sweep

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – A drug sweep involving Lower, Middle, Cape May and North Wildwood police has led to 31 arrests in the southern portion of Cape May County, according to county Prosecutor Robert L. Taylor. The investigation charges stem from the Aug. 11 arrest of Stephen Grasch, 29, of Green Creek in Middle Township, whom police then suggested was involved in a significant drug distribution network. At the time, police searched his home on Route 47, as well as his father’s home on Washington Boulevard in North Cape May and his mother’s house in Villas. The latest arrestees face charges of conspiracy to possess cocaine, a third degree crime, for which if convicted they could be sentenced to three to five years in prison. Those charged, according to the prosecutor’s office, included: Noreen Cicero, 35, of Erma, Thomas McCullen, 25, of North Cape May, David Hawthorne, 41, North Cape May, Justin R. Fesler, 31, Cape May, Scott David Jones, 35, Cape May Court House, Cynthia L. Bohn, 41, Cape May, James A. Conti, 40, North Cape May, Justine Johnson, 37, Cape May, Casimir M. Rupinski III, 35, Erma, Matthew Walter, 33, Villas, Thomas C. Vanaman, 50, Erma, Stephanie Linhares (Husak), 42, West Cape May, Matthew Linhares, 40, West Cape May, Roy Osmundsen, 49, Dias Creek, Donald J Roth, 32, North Cape May, Stephen Groetsch 2nd, 32, North Cape May, Patricia M Whitten, 42, Villas, Christa Iames, 29, North Cape May, Michelle Stillwagon, 38, North Cape May, Mark T Stillwagon, 47, North Cape May, Dawn M Ford, 39, Villas, David Tosto, 35, North Cape May, William Weidman, 54, Cape May Court House, Jennifer McCool, 41, North Cape May, Russell Coombs Jr., 42, North Cape May, Ray Williams Jr. 34, North Cape May, Patricia Dever, 48, North Cape May, John Taylor, North Cape May, John J. Pisieczko, 35, Erma, Sean Gallagher, 43, North Cape May, and Christopher Heitman, 29, Cape May. According to Taylor, all were released on the own recognizance except Pisieczko, who was sent to county jail with bail set at $15,000. Detectives from the Narcotics Task Force of the prosecutor’s office, as well as officers from Lower, Middle, Cape May and North Wildwood Police Departments participated in the early morning arrests Aug. 22. The Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Task Force initiated the 18-month investigation into the activities of Stephen G. Grasch, 29, of Green Creek and his father, 59-year-old Albert T. Grasch, Sr. of North Cape May. The investigation was brought to a conclusion when investigators allegedly interrupted the sale of more than 4 ounces of cocaine by Stephen DiCristofaro of Medford, to Stephen Grasch on Aug. 18, according to Taylor. As a result, 40 members of the Cape May County Regional SWAT Team spread out throughout Middle and Lower Township to simultaneously execute search and arrest warrants at three locations. The residences of Stephen, Albert Sr., and Stephen’s mother, Karen Grasch were locations searched. Approximately $26,000 cash, 4 ½ ounces of cocaine estimated at a street value of $13,000, more than 600 prescription pills including Xanax, hydrocodone and anabolic steroids estimated at a street value of $3500, and four motor vehicles were among the items seized during the searches. The younger Grasch was charged as a leader of a drug distribution network, with bail set at $500,000. His father was charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, distribution of more than half an ounce, and with endangering the welfare of a child. His bail was set at $200,000. If convicted as a “kingpin,” Grasch could face life in prison, with a minimum 25 years before being eligible for parole, according to Taylor’s office. Civil forfeiture actions were filed last week by the Prosecutor’s Office in the Superior Court of New Jersey seeking the forfeiture of the 506 Washington Boulevard, North Cape May, owned by Albert and Karen Grasch as well as 900 Route 47, Green Creek, owned by Stephen Grasch. Forfeiture actions are also anticipated on the four seized vehicles. The Prosecutor’s Office will also seek forfeiture of $57,300 in cash that includes $31,300 in cash funds seized by search warrant from a safe deposit box rented in the name of Albert Grasch. Taylor said the investigation is continuing and additional arrests are pending in another phase of the investigation. Return to Story Index


Cape Assist gears up for Girl Power

WILDWOOD -- Cape Assist’s seventh annual Girl Power conference will be held on Saturday, Oct. 13 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Cape May County Technical High School, Crest Haven Complex, Exit 11 off the Garden State Parkway. All Cape May County girls between the ages of 9 and 14 are invited to attend. The conference is co-sponsored this year by Soroptimist International and the Greater Wildwood Municipal Alliance, and there is no cost to attend. The day will begin with two special guest speakers – Cape May County Clerk Rita Fulginiti and Paula Austin, District Director for Soroptimist of Cape May County. Afterward, hands-on workshops, exhibits and special activities are offered, all designed for learning while having fun. New workshops this year are Animal Careers, Tennis for Beginners, and Jeepers while some old favorites are returning such as Jam Making and Horse Sense. Special parent sessions are also being offered this year. The day will close with a complimentary lunch, and Girl Power prizes. Girl Power is a national public education campaign of the Department of Health and Human Services. It combines strong "no-use" messages about tobacco, alcohol, and drugs with an emphasis on providing opportunities for girls to build skills and self-confidence in academics, arts, sports, and other endeavors. For more information contact Kim Mounce at 729-8697. Registration forms will be available in September on the Cape Assist website and in schools. Pre-registration is recommended to assure choice of workshops. Return to Story Index


Library Briefs

It’s time for Pre-School Story Time at Court House Library CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE -- Do you know what time it is? It’s time for pre-school children to attend Story Time at the Main Branch of the Cape May County Library, 30 Mechanic St. Pre-School Story Tme is a very enjoyable session enabling the children to reap the benefits of sharing books and stories from an early age as well as establishing many friendships. Children enjoy stories, songs, coloring and more. Programs are age-appropriate and will be held on the following dates: Children walking to 2 years old on Tuesdays from 9:45-10:05 a.m. Children 2 year olds on Tuesdays from 10:30-11 a.m. Sept. 11 and 18, Oct. 2, 16, 23 and 30, Nov. 20 and 27, Dec. 4. Children 3 and 4 years old on Wednesdays from 10-11 a.m. Sept. 19 and 26, Oct. 3, 10, 24 and 31, Nov. 7 and 28 and Dec. 5. For additional information, call 463-6354. Return to Story Index

Learn a foreign language online CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE -- Cape May County Library announces the addition of the world’s leading language-learning software Rosetta Stone Online, an Internet-base database, to its online collection. Rosetta Stone Online allows you the capacity to learn a language, at your convenience, from your personal computer. A tool for learning languages, Rosetta Stone Online provides tutorials to practice reading, listening, speaking and writing skills. Rosetta Stone is available at the Cape May County’s website by clicking Online Databases. Rosetta Stone Language Learning Center is located under Language. To access Rosetta Stone Language Learning Center you must first register an account. You will be prompted for a valid Cape May County Library Card number. Users can choose to learn the following languages for self-paced, individual language instruction: French, German, Greek, Italian, Russian, Spanish (Latin America), Spanish (Spain), English (US) and English (UK). Each language offers approximately 90 hours of instruction contained in a carefully constructed sequence using the Dynamic Immersion method acclaimed for the speed, power and effectiveness of its program. Rosetta Stone Online is ideal for the traveler and includes instruction in categories such as: Times, dates, weather and numbers Currency, shopping, food and hotels Modes of transportation Practical questions and answers Social interaction For additional information call 463-6350. Return to Story Index

Library announces Bookmobile schedule CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE -- The Cape May County Library’s Bookmobile will be on the road beginning Sept. 5. The goal of the Bookmobile is to make the library more accessible to both children and adults. A regular Cape May County Library Card is all you need to use the Bookmobile. You may get a library card on the Bookmobile if you do not already have one. The “library on wheels” carries approximately 1,500 titles offering children and adult reading material along with audio books, videos and DVDs. Additional material is available, can be requested and will be offered through the Cape May County Library System. A lift is provided for the handicap. Material can be returned to any branch of the Cape May County Library. The Bookmobile provides mobile library services to the following areas of Cape May County on: Wednesday 10-10:45 a.m. at the Sun Bank, 2201 Rt. 50, Tuckahoe 11:15 a.m.-Noon at the Dennisville Post Office, Hall Ave. & Petersburg Rd. 1:45-2:15 p.m. at the Seaville Plaza, Rt. 9, Seaville 2:30-3:15 p.m. at the Wayside Village, Tuckahoe Rd. & Rt. 9, Marmora

  • Thursday 9-10:30 a.m. at the Cape Christian Academy, (September through June) 10:45-11:30 a.m. at the Cape Educational Compact High School, (September through June) Noon-12:30 p.m. at the North Wildwood Parking Lot, 2nd Ave & Old New Jersey Ave. 2:30-3:15 p.m. at the Wal-Mart Parking Lot, 3159 Rt. 9 South, Rio Grande
  • Friday 9:15-10:15 a.m. at the United States Coast Guard Base Child Development Center, Cape May 10:30-Noon at Yale Ave, Cape May Point 12:15-1 p.m. at the Cape May Point Circle (June through September) Return to Story Index

Book Clubs for Children CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE -- Book Clubs for children in third through ninth grades are available at the Main Branch of the Cape May County Library, 30 Mechanic St. Registration is required in the Children’s Room of the Library. Members are welcome to attend the following meetings: Return to Story Index

  • New Book Club – Children in Grades 3 and 4 read and discuss a book each month, do a craft, and have refreshments. Meets the third Monday of each month from 6 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 17 – Horrible Harry and the Locked Closet by Suzy Kline; Oct. 15 – Gooney Bird Green by Lois Lowry; Nov. 19 – Watch you Whiskers, Stilton by Geronimo Stilton; Dec. 17 – Cam Jansen and the Scary Snake Mystery by David Adler.
  • It’s All About the Book – Children in Grades 5 and 7 read and discuss a book each month, do a craft or put on a puppet show, and have refreshments. Meets from 6 to 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month, except for September which meets on the second Thursday on Sept. 13 – No Talking by Andrew Clements; Oct. 18 – Al Capone Does my Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko; Nov. 15 – Ida B and her Plans by Katherine Hannigan; Dec. 20 – The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo..
  • Books Rule Book Club – Children in Grades 7, 8 and 9 read and discuss a book each month, do a craft, and have refreshments. Meets the fourth Tuesday of each month from 6 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 25 – Sorcery and Cecelia or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia Wrede; Oct. 23 – Washington Irving Folklore; Nov. 22 – Book Without Words by Ava. (No Book Club on Dec. 25.) For additional information call 463-6354. Return to Story Index
Caruso, Gallagher graduate Certified Public Manager course

TRENTON – In a ceremony at the New Jersey State Museum Auditorium here, captains Robert A. Caruso and Matthew Gallagher were two of the 181 managers who successfully completed the NJ Certified Public Manager Course held this year. The 300-hour intensive course is conducted in partnership with Fairleigh Dickinson University. The course curriculum covered topics such as strategic planning, transformational leadership, organizational change, the NJ budget process, teamwork and problem solving, along with a host of other subject matter to help participants to become more effective, efficient and ethical organizational managers. The CPM Program is administrated by the New Jersey Department of Personnel’s Human Resource Development Institute and is part of a national effort to develop effective management skills through the training and education of supervisors and managers in state and local government. Captain Caruso has served on the North Wildwood Police Department since 1985 and is currently in charge of the Administration Division. Captain Gallagher has served on the North Wildwood Police Department since 1987 and is currently in charge of the Operations Division. Chief Matteucci, who previously graduated from the CPM course, remarked that with the renewed statewide emphasis on risk management and fiscal responsibility, the CPM course provides the captains with the tools they need to properly and efficiently perform their duties. Return to Story Index

Civil Air Patrol dedicates Sammons Memorial Flagpole

ERMA -- The Cape May County Squadron of the U.S. Civil Air Patrol dedicated a memorial flagpole (pictured above) on Aug. 23 in memory of their former commander, Major Mary Ellen Sammons. Major Sammons served as commander from 1998 to 2006. Her greatest joy was the CAP cadet program. She worked tirelessly to have the cadets succeed in CAP and in their personal lives. Through her leadership, she inspired her staff to such an extent that all assigned missions were performed in an exemplary manner and all staff members work together as a team. One dream she had that was left unfinished before she passed was to have an actual flag pole at the squadron where her cadets could practice and hold flag ceremonies. With hard work, dedication and donations, her dream is now a reality. "The flag pole is a loving tribute to her honor and her hopes for a brighter future," said Capt. Kevin Barstow during his opening ceremony remarks. The Cape May County Composite Squadron always welcomes new members. Boys and girls between the age of 12 to 18, as well as prospective adult members, are encouraged to visit. They meet every Thursdays at 7 p.m. on the second floor of the terminal building at the Cape May County Airport in Erma. For more information call 602-8450 The US Civil Air Patrol was formed in 1941 by citizens concerned about the defense of America's coastline during World War II. The group is an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and now has three primary missions – aerospace education, emergency services and cadet programs. The cadet program, with 23,000 members, offers training as well as college scholarship and military incentives. Return to Story Index

Oh, for the love of cheese

WEST CAPE MAY – For all those naysayers who told Stephen and Barbara White they were nuts for opening a cheese shop off the beaten path in this even-further-off-the-beaten-path borough – in December, no less, it’s time for you to congratulate them on their perseverance and fortitude. Not to mention their great taste in cheese. Stephen, a self admitted cheese-aholic, almost sounds like Wallace, of Wallace and Gromit fame, when he talks about his favorite food. Wallace, much to Gromit’s chagrin, hides cheese all over the house so that he can have a little taste whenever the urge hits him. “Even when I’m not around cheese, which I am most of my waking moments these days, I crave it. I eat cheese every day,” Stephen said. “Cheeeeeese, Gromit!” Seaside Cheese Company has survived the lean winter months, the summer opening of a competitor’s shop on Cape May’s Washington Street Mall (it has since closed its doors) and its location to the point now where Stephen and Barbara have expanded the inventory from 80 varieties of cheese to almost 130 today. “The only thing I wish I would have done differently is make the store bigger,” said Stephen. “I’m running out of room.” It’s not just the cheese that’s taking over the store. Seaside Cheese also sells homemade hummus, olives, roasted peppers, Le Bus bread, pâté, and jellies and jams. Open the door and you’re greeted by a daily sample tray of cheese, and the Whites also advertise a weekly cheese special. He’ll suggest different ways to enjoy it, recipes and what wine to pair with it. “There are some cheeses that work well when mixed in with crabmeat for a spread, others that are good for baking, and we have one that I like to suggest for putting on a grill. It won’t melt, but it’ll get soft and perfect for spreading on bread or crackers,” said Stephen. Other popular but unique offerings include an English cheese called Red Dragon, which is a Welsh cheddar made with mustard seed; Black Mountain, another English cheese made with white wine, garlic and herbs; and Trugole, made in Asiago, Italy, which you can only get in the summer and was introduced in the United States for the first time last year. And then there’s a cheddar cheese from Hook’s Cheese Company, a small farm run by Julie and Tony Hook in a small Wisconsin town. It’s a 5-year-old cheddar that has won “Best Cheese in the World” and numerous other awards. Stephen White ordered three 80-pound blocks. “And all of it was gone in three weeks,” he said. Not something you would melt on nachos. “Oh it would make a great mac and cheese, but an expensive mac and cheese,” Stephen laughed. Despite being the lone artisan cheese shop in the area, Stephen keeps his prices down to keep the regulars coming in. “We’re comparable to the Reading Terminal Market. Some of our artisan cheeses are cheaper than Acme’s. I don’t want to kill anyone with prices, we’re here to attract customers and serve them, not drive them away with high prices,” he said. Perhaps because of that philosophy, year-round and seasonal residents have responded. “I thank my regulars every day when they come in,” he said. “The local community has really been supportive of what we’re doing, and I see them so often that when I don’t see them for more than a couple weeks, I start to worry that something’s happened to them.” Seaside Cheese trays and samples can also be found at several bed and breakfast inns around Cape May, including the Bedford Inn, Manor House, and Buttonwood, and also at Cape May Day Spa. “They’ve been real good to me, and we vary things up a bit so their guests can sample some of our inventory,” Stephen said. For those who want to experiment but aren’t sure of the first step, White said he’ll provide a sample of any cheese a customer would like to try, and for those who aren’t sure where to begin, he’ll ask them some basic start-up questions. “Things like do they like sharp or mild, hard or soft, spicy or plain, and then we’ll start sampling to get an idea of what they like,” he said. “Once we get that down, then we can start sampling to see what works for them. And then, they’re hooked.” “Cheeeeeese, Gromit!” Return to Story Index

Rob Seitzinger can be e-mailed at or you can comment on this story by calling 624-8900, ext. 250. Visit his Cape Cuisine food blog online at

Recreating in the Wildwoods

North Wildwood Recreation Center Ninth and Central avenues Call 522-2955 for more information unless otherwise noted.

Beach Aerobics Outdoor aerobics class at the Lou Booth Amphitheater (Second and Ocean avenues); Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:30 a.m.; $5 fee (bring exact change).

Beach Yoga Outdoor yoga class at the Lou Booth Amphitheater (Second and Ocean avenues); Tuesday and Thursday at 8 a.m.; Saturday at 9 a.m.; $5 fee (bring exact change).

Karate Karate is held Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and is hosted by Hamer School of Karate. Call 465-5618 for more information.

Crime Watch Second Tuesday of each month at North Wildwood Recreation Center from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Enter on the 10th Street side entrance.

2007 Lou Booth Amphitheater schedule All Concerts Under the Stars will be held at the Lou Booth Amphitheater (Second and Ocean avenues) at 8 p.m. Rain or shine. Call 522-2955 for more information or visit

  • Thursday, Aug. 30 -- Jimmy Beaumont & the Skyliners Saturday, Sept. 1 -- Philly Cuzz Show & Tomardo (Voices of Sinatra, Tom Jones & Bobby Darin) Return to Story Index

Wildwood Recreation Center Events Rio Grande Avenue Call 522-5837 for more information unless otherwise noted.

Open Rec The recreation center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. Return to Story Index

Wildwood Crest Crest Pier 5800 Ocean Avenue 523-0202

Joseph Von Savage Memorial Pool summer schedule

General admission fees are $5 for adults and $4 for senior citizens and children. Individual and family seasonal and yearly memberships are also available. Call 522-0084 for more information. The following is the current schedule for swim programs and activities:

  • MONDAY 6-7:30 a.m. – Members Lap Swim 9:30-10:30 a.m. – Instructed Fitness Class 10:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – Adult Fitness 12:30-2:30 p.m. – Family Open Swim 2:45-4 p.m. – Lap Swim 7-8:15 p.m. – Family Open Swim 8:15-9:15 p.m. – Adult Swim
  • TUESDAY 6-9 a.m. – Adult Members Open Swim 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – Swim Lessons 12:30-2:30 p.m. – Family Open Swim 2:45-4 p.m. – Lap Swim 7-8:15 p.m. – Family Open Swim 8:15-9:15 p.m. – Adult Swim
  • WEDNESDAY 6-7:30 a.m. – Members Lap Swim 9:30-10:30 a.m. – Instructed Fitness Class 10:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – Adult Fitness 12:30-2:30 p.m. – Family Open Swim 2:45-4 p.m. – Lap Swim 7-8:15 p.m. – Family Open Swim 8:15-9:15 p.m. – Adult Swim
  • THURSDAY 6-9 a.m. – Adult Members Open Swim 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – Swim Lessons 12:30-2:30 p.m. – Family Open Swim 2:45-4 p.m. – Lap Swim 7-8:15 p.m. – Family Open Swim 8:15-9:15 p.m. – Adult Swim
  • FRIDAY 6-7:30 a.m. – Members Lap Swim 9:30-10:30 a.m. – Instructed Fitness Class 12:30-2:30 p.m. – Family Open Swim 2:45-4 p.m. – Lap Swim 7-8:15 p.m. – Family Open Swim 8:15-9:15 p.m. – Adult Swim
  • SATURDAY AND SUNDAY Noon-4:45 p.m. – Open Swim

Yoga on the Lake The Crest Recreation Department will offer free evening yoga classes this summer on Sunset Lake at Miami Road. Classes will be held every Tuesday and Thursday evening from 7:30 p.m. to dusk. Recreation leader Bobi Watson will direct an eclectic array of styles, calming the mind, focusing energy and enhancing the yogic journey, while simultaneously offering the opportunity to enjoy a twilight sunset on the Sunset Lake bay front, one of the few spots in Cape May County where the sun sets over water. This free-of-charge class will bring people together to learn, strengthen and integrate various yoga techniques, including Savasana (total relaxation), sometimes under the stars. Participants are encouraged to join the program for one class or for the entire summer season. Participants are asked to arrive at least five minutes before class time in order for classes to start on time. Participants should wear comfortable clothing and should also bring a mat or a blanket. Call 523-0202 or 522-0084 for further information.

Summer Concert Series The Crest Recreation Department will once again present its free summer concert series through August. Free concerts will be held on the deck at the Crest Pier Recreation Center at 5800 Ocean Ave. each Monday at 7:30 p.m. and at the Gazebo by the Sea at Rambler Road and the beach Wednesday at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted. In the event of inclement weather, concerts will be held inside the Crest Pier, 5800 Ocean Ave. Call 523-0202 for further information.

Firefighters’ Weekend Craft Show Sept. 14-15 The borough of Wildwood Crest will host its annual Firefighters’ Weekend Craft Show Friday, Sept. 14 and Saturday, Sept. 15 at the Gazebo-by-the-Beach at Rambler Road and Ocean Avenue. A variety of arts and crafts vendors will be on hand Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission is free. Parking is also free and will be available adjacent to the Gazebo area. Call 522-1669 or 523-0202 for further information.

Crest Adventure Races Sunday, Sept. 23 The borough of Wildwood Crest will host its second annual Crest Adventure Races on Sunday, Sept. 23 at 9 a.m. at beautiful Sunset Lake as a conclusion to the borough’s annual Seafarers Celebration. The Crest Adventure Races include a five-mile run, three-mile run and one-mile family fun run/walk. The five-mile and three-mile races will take competitors on a cross country-style adventure through beautiful Wildwood Crest. The runs will begin at scenic Sunset Lake and continue through some of the borough’s fine neighborhoods before the course manages its way onto the beach at the south end of Wildwood Crest. Runners will continue north, with five-mile runners following the beachfront to Cresse Avenue, where they will exit the beach and run the Wildwood Crest bike path to Rambler Road, before turning west and heading for the finish at Sunset Lake. Three-mile runners will exit the beach at Rambler Road and head for the finish at Sunset Lake. The one-mile family fun run/walk will take participants from Sunset Lake to the south end of Wildwood Crest and back. Prizes will be awarded to the top three male and female finishers, as well as the top male and female finishers in categorized age groups, for the five- and three-mile runs. Entry fee is $15 for the five- and three-mile runs and $10 for adults and $5 for children for the one-mile family fun/run walk for all entries received by Friday, Sept. 21. After Sept. 21, cost is $25 for the five- and three-mile runs and $15 for adults and $10 for children for the one-mile family fun run/walk. All pre-registered competitors will receive a long-sleeve T-shirt. Race-day registrants will receive a long-sleeve T-shirt as supplies last. Race-day registration and check in for pre-registered competitors begins at 8 a.m. Registration forms are available at the Crest Pier Recreation Center at 5800 Ocean Ave. in Wildwood Crest. Online registration can be completed at or Call 523-0202 for further information.

Monster Truck Expo Friday, Sept. 29 The borough of Wildwood Crest will host a Monster Truck Expo Friday, Sept. 28 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Crest Pier Recreation Center on Ocean Avenue between Crocus and Heather roads. This fun-filled family event will feature DJ Lou Costello, autograph sessions by the drivers, face painting, balloon art and magic by Captain Visual and food vendors. Admission is free. Monster Truck rides will be available for $4. This fun-filled family event kicks off the 10th annual Monster Mash Thunder on the Beach Weekend being held on the Wildwood Beach. Call 523-0202 for further information.

Sunset Lake Hydrofest Sept. 29-30 The borough of Wildwood Crest will host its annual Sunset Lake Hydrofest Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 29-30 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event is staged at beautiful Sunset Lake, located along New Jersey Avenue between Rambler and Miami roads. This two-day event features powerboat racing, with hydroplane and flat-bottom race boats competing at speeds of 80 to 140 miles per hour. Racing action will be held from noon to 4 p.m. each day. Craft, merchandise and food vendors will be on hand from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Admission is free, but pit passes for those seeking to get as close to the action as possible, are available for $10. Closed footwear is required in the pits. Call 886-8156 or log on to for further information.

Paper shredding for free The borough of Wildwood Crest encourages its residents not to throw away their junk mail, personal records, old receipts or other normally discarded documents, as the borough has purchased a commercial shredding machine at no expense to taxpayers. The shredding machine is located at the Crest Pier Recreation Center and is available for use by residents during the facility’s normal operating hours of 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. For more information about the borough’s shredding machine, call the Crest Pier Recreation Center at 523-0202. Return to Story Index

More on construction violations

To the Editor: I would like to ditto the construction violations that are occurring with Rising Sun Condominiums. We (Pacific Condominiums Condo Association) have the same issues, however, our builder and developer were different. The only true differences in these two properties is the address and people’s names. It is a sad situation when properties are built faulty and the contractors are able to wash their hands of it stating "we got a CO therefore, we are not responsible." We are talking about serious fire violations. If there is a code of ethics the builders and developers haven't read them not to mention that integrity is lacking. Our builder and developer have put the poorest quality garage doors on our property and two have broken in less than 18 months and the homeowners are left holding the bag in excess of $1,600 to replace the shoddy door. The contractor gives lip service far too often and doesn't follow through on what he promises. He has a carefree attitude when it comes to yearly inspections and doesn't feel as if they are necessary; as a matter of fact he stated "we are wasting our money." Entitlement issues are flowing on Youngs Avenue in Wildwood. I will say Captain Mark Gose and Sue Casey from the Fire Prevention Office have been the nicest people to deal with. They both treat taxpayers with utmost respect, unlike workers at the Construction Office on Pacific Avenue in Wildwood. I give Gose a big round of applause for taking on this huge construction nightmare and admire him for holding each and every contractor and employee accountable for dotting their i's and crossing their t's. This community will certainly soar if the construction companies/developers consider doing the right thing. Shortcuts and poor workmanship will eventually show themselves and the hassles will begin. Return to Story Index

Alesia Porter Wildwood, Scotch Plains, New Jersey


State’s on a slippery slope

To the Editor: Today we were told by the State Treasury Department that “Towns and counties will pay $1.06 billion into the pension funds, a dramatic jump from $53 million in 2002.” Not only is this tremendous increase taking place at the local level but “The state government is also currently facing a $58 billion shortfall in pension and healthcare funding for retired state workers.” It appears the solution to this massive shortfall by our Governor and the Legislature is to somehow either increase tolls substantially on our Toll Roads or lease them to private contractors. This by no means is the answer. The Governor and the Legislature have an obligation to the citizens of New Jersey and should as a first step reduce the generous pension increases they have given to employees, appointed and elected officials over the last few years. The Legislatures attempt to “refill depleted pension funds for public employees” through a massive tax increase; or to use as the Governor suggests Monetization is not the answer. Presently, the Governor under his secret monetization plan has so far added another approximately $4 million to our already burdening debt. These funds were used to study the various ideas to put the taxpayer further into long-term debt. This is just the beginning. If one would take the time to check the records on the various privatization plans one would find that the Wall Street “boys” are the real winners. Goldman Sachs & Co. made $8 million or more for its role in the $1.8 billion lease of the Chicago Skyway. Getting approval for the Governors plan won’t be easy. There are many cases of privatization gone amok. “Another objection to privatization is that corporate conglomerates end up making money off of it. That comes with any deal, but the concern is whether profit margins are at the expense of taxpayers, customer service and adequate staffing levels.” By selling off our facilities citizens will lose oversight when private companies operate the toll roads. Clarke Kahlo, director of regional advancement and education for the Hoosier Environmental Council, says he worries about the “behind closed doors” atmosphere that accompanies so many of these deals. It is time for everyone to realize that unless this “runaway train” is brought under control future taxpayers will be saddled with funding these employment benefits that far exceed the normal benefits of the “private sector” employees. In the private sector businesses or individuals have to work within their budgets or eventually they have to declare bankruptcy. Our government, on the other hand, simply digs deeper into taxpayers’ pockets when it comes up short (as presently the case), with the usual either-or-warning: either higher taxes or fewer/worse government services. It is time to shrink government at all levels. As Ronald Reagan noted, “The truth is that outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well or economically as the private sector of the economy.” The problem is that today there is no longer a reasonable, safe financial way to meet our long-term debt, it is a warning that we need to recognize the growing force of former and current employees whose increased longevity makes them the government’s commitment long after they have retired. With these excessive numbers we have met the enemy and as Pogo would say, “The enemy is us.” To add to our dilemma in the 16th annual report on the Performance of State Highway Systems (1984-2005) prepared by the Reason Foundation New Jersey’s gridlocked highways, poor pavement conditions and high repair costs put the state last in overall cost-effectiveness for the eighth consecutive year. North Dakota and South Carolina have the nation’s most cost-effective road systems. Wake up New Jerseyans; we are in a rapid slide down that slippery slope. Return to Story Index

Louis C. Ripa Ocean City




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