History of Iceboating Inside
February 4th ~ February 10th, 2011
TRUTH. HERITAGE. ENVIRONMENT.
BEACHWOOD • ISLAND HEIGHTS • OCEAN GATE • PINE BEACH • SOUTH TOMS RIVER
Boro Lays Off Asst. Clerk By Philipp Schmidt PINE BEACH – Kicking off what many governing body members here fear is only the beginning effect of Governor Chris Christie’s two-percent property tax cap, the borough council voted to eliminate the assistant clerk typist position in an effort to cut costs for the 2011 budget following a lengthy meeting last week. Maria Golda, who held the position for nine years, was critical of the governing body for not first implementing furloughs across all borough departments as a means of saving money. “By taking the position from the clerk’s office, what happens in six months when you get more complaints than anything else?” she asked, stating that the workload for the remaining staff, which includes one full-time and one-part time position, would be too great. Council President Lawrence Cuneo admitted that the duties would not vanish with the eliminated position. “We’ll deal with that when the time comes,” replied Mayor Christopher Boyle, who said the decision to eliminate her position did not come easily. “It was not a decision any of us wanted to make, and it’s really horrifying to have to affect people’s lives in this manner, but we’re elected to work in the best interest of this municipality and this is basically a position the state forced us into.” The meeting, with saw many periods of silence cont. on page 12
The Secret World of Iceboating
For the first time in almost half a decade, conditions were right for iceboating on the Toms River earlier this month.
By Erik Weber ON THE TOMS RIVER – Earlier this month, residents among our riverside communities out along the waterfront on a particular few days during a particular few hours were treated with a sight rare
enough to stop traffic and gather crowds to mumble and gawk: iceboats had invaded the Toms River. On Saturday and Sunday, January 15th & 16th, conditions were just right for 20 to
Officer Langan Makes Detective
ERIK J. WEBER, the Riverside Signal Beachwood Police Chief William Cairns congratulates newly-minted Detective Sean Langan at the January 19th council meeting.
30 of these skeletal crafts to slice and soar below full sails and deep blue skies at speeds sometimes faster than 55 mph, the limit currently held down on the nearby stretch of the Garden State Parkway. By James Blackburn BEACHWOOD – Earlier this month, the Borough of Beachwood lost a patrolman and gained a detective when Officer Sean Langan, a nineyear member of the borough police department, was promoted to the new role. Surrounded by family, friends and fellow officers, Mr. Langan received his promotion and was honored by Chief William Cairns during the January 19th council meeting. “It’s a great honor,” said the chief, who praised the newly-minted detective as being a “phenomenal” member of his police force. “His work
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PHILIPP SCHMIDT, the Riverside Signal
Keeping to the frozen mass located roughly between the western edge of Island Heights and Money Island on the north shore, and Station Avenue Beach and the cont. on page 13
ethic is second to none, which was the deciding factor.” Explaining the promotion process, he noted that “it’s not where we just grab the senior officers and give them their promotions.” Chief Cairns said that letters are requested from every interested officer, and interviews are conducted. “It really is a pleasure and an honor to give this promotion to Sean,” he continued. “Sean is, by the way, going to be our evening detective.” After receiving his detective’s badge, Mr. Langan thanked those present for attending.
The RIVERSIDE SIGNAL
Feb. 4 - Feb. 10, 2011
SOUTH TOMS RIVER Champagne on Haiti: Devastation and Life
By Erik Weber
SOUTH TOMS RIVER – It has been less than a month since this borough’s mayor, Joseph M. Champagne, took office as the first voter-elected black mayor of Ocean County, and a little over a year since a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck his native country of Haiti, claiming the life of his sister, a 19-year-old student preparing for life. Marking this first anniversary amidst celebrations over his political accomplishment, Mayor Champagne sat down with the Signal in his new office at 144 Mill Street, here, to reflect upon his life, his journey to America, the devastation that now plagues his homeland and the unifying bond he sees between the two nations. You are a native of Haiti. What brought you to America, and how did you see yourself looking back upon your home country? I came in this country indefinitely when I was only 19. I used to come before as a youngster, every summer, vacations since I was 13, and at 19 years old, there was at that time [the] overthrowing of [Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a Haitian politician who served as Haiti’s first democratically elected president until a military coup in September 1991 took over the government and began a three-year rampage of torture, murders and rape that rocked the country and its people]. Aristide was exiled, there was a lot of political turmoil and unrest and
violence that I witnessed firsthand, and because of that, we were forced to leave Haiti not because of poverty where we were concerned because, thank God, we were not rich but we could enjoy our lives there. Haiti to some extent is a paradise to those who do have the means and the substance, but we were forced to leave for
our own security, to come to the United States indefinitely. My presence in the United States perhaps was different from a lot of people in the sense that I had a sense of mission. My mission was to amass as much knowledge as possible, to acquire as much knowledge and wisdom and understanding as possible to benefit
ERIK J. WEBER, the Riverside Signal South Toms River Mayor Joseph M. Champagne reveals the new borough seal earlier this month.
myself, my family, my community and certainly humanity at large because of what I saw in Haiti: poverty and the misuse of power. I wanted to become the antithesis of that, how to use the government for the benefit of people as opposed to the detriment of people, and so I always find myself in leadership positions, even at an early age when I came in high school. I ended up being the salutatorian [Mr. Champagne graduated in 1993]. Really, I was the valedictorian, but they knocked me down because I had only been in the high school for two years and I was supposed to be there for four years. Where did you live when you first came here? I lived in Brooklyn. Because of my grades, I was able to receive a full academic scholarship to study at Columbia University, and right there I created a new organization for the students to address the dropout rate on that campus [Mr. Champagne graduated in 1998]. From that point I went to Vermont Law School, and there I created a human rights organization [the Student Leadership Collective for Human Rights], which eventually became an umbrella organization over all the other student organizations. These student leaders would participate in our yearly summit to give a state of the union address and what’s happening in their respective community, be it Jewish, be it cont. on page 16
South Toms River Community Calendar Recreation Commission Meeting
The South Toms River Recreation Committee will hold its next meeting on Thursday, February 3rd at 7 pm in the Recreation Center on Drake Lane. ~
The South Toms River Recreation Commission will host a Storyteller’s Workshop on Saturday, February 5th at 7 pm in the Recreation Center on Drake Lane. Children up to 10 years old and their parents are welcome to come and listen to an interactive, narrative story. Cost is $3, children may wear their pajamas and snacks will be available. ~
Municipal Alliance Meeting
The South Toms River Municipal Alliance will hold its next meeting on Wednesday, February 9th at 7 pm in borough hall on Mill Street. ~
Council Caucus Meeting
The South Toms River Borough Council will hold its next caucus meeting on Monday, February 14th at 7 pm in borough hall on Mill Street. ~
Land Use Board Meeting
The South Toms River Land Use Board will hold its next meeting on Tuesday, February 15th at 7 pm in borough hall on Mill Street. ~ Do you have a South Toms River community meeting, sports game, fundraiser or event you’d like to see here? Write us at P.O Box 93, Beachwood, N.J. 08722, e-mail RiversideSignal@gmail.com or call 732-664-1043 and get it listed!
The RIVERSIDE SIGNAL
Feb. 4 - Feb. 10, 2011
SOUTH TOMS RIVER Seasons of the Gatherer Institute, Part I Recently, a friend forwarded me an article in a local online column that asked the question, “What happened to the Gatherers?” I don’t think anyone is more qualified to answer that than I am. The Gatherer Institute was founded in 2000 and became a nonprofit organization in 2001. Its purpose was to “take human beings, born in captivity, reeducate them and re-release them into the wild.” I founded the group with the idea of teaching children the importance of the wilderness, not as something static that could be admired or protected from afar, but as a classroom, a place of sustenance, a place of healing. We relied on ancient skills that I had learned through Tom Brown’s Tracker School, and from the wisdom of a tribe called the mnepko, which roughly translates as “Gatherers”, whose language I speak and embrace. With the motto, “Mediocrity is the Enemy”, we embarked upon a nine-year journey in three three-year phases. This wasn’t planned; it simply happened that way. I stumbled across the “88
Acres” woodlands located in South Toms River along Jakes Branch adjacent to Beachwood in 1998 when my godson came to visit me feeling under so much pressure and that life was just too hard. We decided to camp, an activity we both enjoyed. Wandering into 88 Acres from the Beachwood side (a misconception by most local residents is that the woods are split evenly between Beachwood and South Toms River due to the homes that have been built right up alongside it – in fact, it’s almost all part of South Toms River) we searched for a place to camp and came to an old bridgehead. Spray painted on the top post were the words, “After all this time, the woods still soften the wounded heart.” We took it as a sign, and that night we camped out there. A year later, we heard that the land was going to be developed. Since that first night, my children and I had explored the woods and played in them, and my children could not bear to have them torn down. They sprang into action, initiating
a campaign of signature gathering that resulted in saving the woods from development. About a third of the residents of South Toms River signed the petition. Deciding to organize a way to utilize this newly saved forest, our first project was a summer camp to teach survival to local children. We enlisted the aid of a teacher who would live in the woods during the summer, build a shelter, and teach the course. That
nization, one is immediately assaulted by tasks that have nothing to do with the mission of said organization - the paperwork, the bookkeeping, the permission seeking, and all that administration. I was simply not up to the task of CEO, but I plodded on and by summer we gained the invaluable help of South Toms River Municipal Coordinator Linda Reitz. She guided me through the paperwork with such confidence, despite
Frank Domenico Cipriani
STR Community Club Baseball Signups SOUTH TOMS RIVER – South Toms River Community Club baseball is coming back, and this year is expected to be “brighter” than ever, with the recent addition of new field lights that will allow night games for the first time. Open to boys and girls ages 4 through 15 of all municipalities, registration will be held from 9 am to 1 pm at the South Toms River Recreation Center, located on Drake Lane, here, on February 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th. Online registration is also available at the STRCC website, www.strccbaseball.org, which has a tutorial video to walk interested parents through the process.
Price of registration is $55 per child for t-ball, and $75 for the first child, $65 for the second child, and $60 for the third child for baseball. Birth certificates must be presented at time of registration. A $50 work bond check per child must be presented to cover league work requirements at the time of registration. South Toms River’s fields now offer longer base paths of 40 feet to the pitcher’s mound and 60 foot running paths for the minors, and 50 feet to the pitcher’s mound and 70 foot running paths for the majors. For more information, please contact Edward Murray at 732-505-9456.
Photo Courtesy the GATHERER INSTITUTE The hut sits quietly in the woods of South Toms River in the early part of the last decade.
spring, with the help of many people - most notably Barbara Englehardt and Bill Gleason, without whom the organization would never have existed - we began the program with a prayer for safety (we would be using knives, eating off the land, and working with fire). We had some unusual rules for the children, and made many mistakes, but that first camp, dedicated to the memory of Bill’s daughter, was a wonderful experience. When starting an orga-
my dropping the ball time and time again, that we were able to get a grant for the program that made good on our guarantee that we would never turn away a child for inability to pay. We also felt that instruction for the kids wasn’t enough. We wanted to make the woods a place for learning and healing for adults as well, and so we started a program in counseling and directed meditation for adults that ran at evening hours in the woods. Parents could bring children,
who were babysat around a separate fire, where stories were told and soup was served. The food served related to the story, and we had a very specific way to eat. Children would serve the adults, someone would say grace, and then the oldest would take the first bite before everyone could eat. The directed meditation group was small and warm. My sister Maria, a therapist in New York City, volunteered her time to come out and help guide the project. The First Hut The storytelling became so popular that it needed its own separate night. Councilwoman Carla Kearney was our first storyteller, and the whole night was amazing. She even made the food for the occasion. As part of our expansion of the storytelling program, right before that first night, we had some Mormon missionaries dig us the foundation for a hut. They came on their bicycles, with their ties and patent leather shoes and dug us a hole, an amphitheater, for these storytelling sessions, in under two hours. As they hopped on their bicycles and rode away, one of the kids present expressed her astonishment, saying, “Man, those Muslims can work!” From then on, the place was called The Hole the Muslims Dug. At the beginning of our project, the woods were full of trouble, and many people didn’t want us there. We got to cont. on page 5
The RIVERSIDE SIGNAL
Feb. 4 - Feb. 10, 2011
BEACHWOOD Art & Artists in Ocean County with Jean LeBaron This month’s column highlights a Beachwood husband/ wife team of artists, Katie and Hal Stacy, who have been married 54 years. Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting them in their home and studio, and we had a great time discussing their art and lives. Their story starts in 1955. Hal, just out of the army, started college at Montclair State University that September. Before long, it became known that he worked on his high school’s yearbooks, and Hal was told to speak to the art director of that school’s yearbook committee. He did, and destiny stepped in. Katie was that art director, and the two quickly collaborated on more than just the yearbook layout, marrying the following April and starting their family five years later. Hal went on to attend Rutgers University, and both Hal and Katie hold Bachelor of Arts degrees. After college, Hal began teaching art at the elementary school level of the Toms River Regional School System, eventually moving to the intermediate school level. When Toms River High School East opened its doors in 1979, Hal became the head of its art department. Through the successive transitions up in the grades, Hal said he wound up
teaching one student for all 12 years of her education in the district, and had many other students multiple times as well. The walls of their home are filled with wonderful examples of the art his students created, and he fondly recalls each student and the story behind each work of art. Thinking back, Hal estimated that he taught about 10,000 students. Hal continued his own art journey, and he considers himself a draughtsman (an artist who produces fine art drawings), an illustrator and a cartoonist. While he has worked as a political cartoonist, his joy lies in drawing the human figure, and he specializes in nudes. Of drawing, Hal said, “If you look at an object, you can see that it has shape, form, color and texture. But line does not exist, which means we have invented it.” Explaining further, he says that line, invented by early man, was a precursor to writing, and has no existence in nature. Master artists’ drawings, like those of Rembrandt, contain no lines but have areas of form, shape and value to define the drawing. Katie is an accomplished artist in several different genres, listing her preferred materials as clay, oils, en-
Beachwood Community Calendar
Jean LeBaron, the Riverside Signal The extreme weather turned the northern end of Larboard Street at Windy Cove into a perfect slope for these area snowboarders.
caustics (pigmented beeswax painting), and printmaking. She has a wonderful studio that is filled with the tools of a ceramicist: different types of clays, glazes, potter’s wheels, and shelves of supplies. The room is large and is a working studio. “Every morning, I still want to go into the studio to work,” she said. This enthusiasm is evident in her work, which is prolific, and her energy, which is unbounded. Katie’s expertise in all manner of ceramics is evident in the vast array of techniques she employs, creating teapots, cups, bowls, plates, wall hangings, fountains, sculptures, and jewelry. She uses a mix of specialty clays for her jewelry pieces, which are miniature works of art that are then turned into pendants. For the form, she uses a “paper clay”
– a clay infused with fine particles of paper which, when fired, burn away, leaving the clay very strong and extremely lightweight. After firing this in the kiln, next comes the glazing, which gives color and sheen to the piece, and then a second firing. The last step is the application of PMC, or Precious Metal Clay, which has sterling silver in it. When fired
JEAN LeBARON, the Riverside Signal Pottery Workshop
for the third and final time, the silver is left behind, giving the piece a sterling silver accent. All of this is very time consuming and expensive, but she offers these special pieces at consumer friendly prices, and most of her jewelry sells from the studio, never lasting long enough to be exhibited. Both Katie and Hal are very active in various art groups and associations, and both exhibit their work throughout the year in various venues. Some of Katie’s work has been posted on her Facebook page, which can be seen by typing the web address http://www. facebook.com/home.php?#!/ profile.php?id=1343544869 I spent a wonderful afternoon at the Stacy’s – they are gracious hosts, and the tea I drank from Katie’s finely crafted teacup was the best I’ve had in a while. I hope you enjoyed this visit as much as I did!
The Beachwood Recreation Commission will sponsor a Zumba class on Friday, February 4th at 7 pm in the Community Center on BeachwoodCompass Avenue. Cost is $5 at the door. For more information, call Steve Komsa at 732-232-7983. ~
Snow Emergency Reminder
Beachwood Police Chief William Cairns wants to remind residents that all vehicles must be removed from borough streets during snowstorm events to allow for plowing and unhindered emergency services access. Failure to do so will result in vehicles being ticketed and towed at the owner’s expense under borough ordinance 7-3.7. ~
Land Use Board Meeting
The Beachwood Land Use Board will hold its next meeting on Monday, February 7th at 7 pm in borough hall on Pinewald Road. ~
Shade Tree Commission Meeting
The Beachwood Shade Tree Commission will be holding its next meeting on Thursday, February 10th at 7 pm in the Beachwood Community Center on Compass Avenue. ~ Do you have a Beachwood community meeting, sports game, fundraiser or event you’d like to see here? Write us at P.O Box 93, Beachwood, N.J. 08722, e-mail RiversideSignal@gmail.com or call 732-664-1043 and get it listed!
The RIVERSIDE SIGNAL
Feb. 4 - Feb. 10, 2011
BEACHWOOD Chief Allen to Boro: Help Clear Hydrants
Beachwood Community Calendar
Join Boy Scouts
Troop 114, Ages 11 through 17. If you enjoy learning life skills, camping, adventure and helping to improve your community, call Barry Wieck 732-341-6565. ~
The Beachwood Borough Municipal Offices will be closed on Friday, February 11th in observance of President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. ~
Municipal Alliance Dance
The Beachwood Municipal Alliance will hold its next dance on Friday, February 11th from 7:30 pm to 10 pm in the Beachwood Community Center on Compass Avenue. Open to 5th, 6th and 7th graders, space is limited, bracelets available for purchase beginning at 6:30 pm. Parents must pick up at end of dance at 10 pm. For more info, call 732-286-6000. ~
The Beachwood Borough Council will hold its next meeting on Wednesday, February 16th at 7 pm in borough hall on Pinewald Road. ~
Cat & Dog License Late Fees
Anyone who has not licensed their cat or dog will now be required to pay a late fee of $10 per license. ~ Do you have a Beachwood community meeting, sports game, fundraiser or event you’d like to see here? Write us at P.O Box 93, Beachwood, N.J. 08722, e-mail RiversideSignal@gmail.com or call 732-664-1043 and get it listed!
By Philipp Schmidt BEACHWOOD – Beachwood Volunteer Fire Company Chief Dennis Allen requested that borough residents help the fire company by taking the time to clear nearby fire hydrants of snow accumulation. He said that not having a hydrant exposed was dangerous as it is difficult to find and digging it out at the scene of an emergency would use up
crucial time better spend responding to the actual emergency present, such as a house fire. The fire company can be reached at 732-349-0014. Anyone interested in becoming a member may call that number or e-mail bchwdfd16@aol. com. The company website can be found online at www. bvfd16.com.
Seasons of the Gatherer Institute, continued from page 3 know the names of the young entrepreneurs who used the woods to sell, well, you can guess what. I am terrible at names, so learning them was a pretty big deal. These kids were not bad, simply in a bad situation, and we thought that maybe if their energies could be put to good ends, that they could someday become legitimate businessmen. With all
Steve Marshall, every element of our dinner was grown and cooked in the borough in a manner that would have been the typical Sunday meal of the 1840s. Another day around that time, while we were preparing the hut for the storytelling, my friend Tina Post came running into the woods to tell me that my car was on fire. Some-
Photo Courtesy the GATHERER INSTITUTE A jam session is held as part of the Gatherer Institute’s summer curriculum.
that was going on, we needed to create some permanent base of operations. We decided to build a shelter. Kamess Haki, to whom I was introduced via the South Toms River Municipal Alliance, came out to the site and we talked about future programs in the woods. He eventually went on to teach an African Martial Arts program in what we still call the “Dojo area” of the woods, and he, Bill Gleason, and many others helped put up our first hut and create a buried stash of tools to use at subsequent camps. That August, we announced the next storytelling: a Mormon elder would come to the woods to tell the story about how the founder of the Mormons, Joseph Smith, used to preach in what would become South Toms River. That night, thanks to Councilman
one had torched it. Later, as the new school year was about to begin, we decided we wanted a place to tell our stories into the fall and to use the woods the way the Community Club used the playing fields: as a place of recreation. As a result, we reintroduced the South Toms River tradition of the townwide manhunt game, which ran for the following three years. Our next event would be a big one: A back-to-school prayer dinner. We’d asked Rev. Oscar Cradle, our councilman and a member of Wells Chapel AME Church, to say the prayers on the day the children went back to school: September 4, 2001. We also invited a local priest, imam and rabbi, but only Rev. Cradle and Carla Kearny could make it. See, one of the princi-
ples of the Gatherer Institute was that we would welcome all faiths to our gatherings. And all faiths came. We have had grace before meals offered by ministers, rabbis, wiccans, Mormons, Native Americans, and kids with no particular church affiliation. No one was afraid of prayer in the Gatherer Institute, and that was important to what happened next. It rained. In fact, the skies opened up. That day, Rev. Cradle presented me with a card and an envelope from the Wells Chapel AME Church with kind words about my car being set on fire and money from those wonderful people to help me fix the car, or find another beat up one. I took the soggy envelope and thanked Reverend Cradle. This wasn’t the last time the people of Wells Chapel showed us their wonderful generosity and loving spirit. As a result of the rain, we cancelled the prayer session and made a new sign: Prayer
for the schoolchildren rescheduled for the hut in the woods, September 11th, 2001. Well, we all know what happened that day. Many prayer services were held that night, but to my knowledge, ours was the only one that had been preplanned for that date. We held hands. The children were frightened. They wanted to know what was going to happen. As we prayed, talked and ate, I remember one boy from the Center Homes district of the borough commenting that he had never eaten a stew that hadn’t come out of a can. He and his sister tasted their first parsnips. I promised the children there that no matter what happened, if things got bad, we would always have stew in the woods on Tuesday nights. Some nights we would come out for a manhunt game or a storytelling, or bring out a stew pot, and no one would show up. Sometimes we had thirty or more people. It was cont. on page 11
The RIVERSIDE SIGNAL
Feb. 4 - Feb. 10, 2011
ISLAND HEIGHTS Iceboating on the Toms River: A Wintertime Playground
By Erik Weber ON THE TOMS RIVER – Watching the weather. Checking and rechecking the shores. Calling friends to ask what they’ve heard, what they’ve seen. With the exception of the common tides report, avid iceboaters follow similar habits of their surfing cousins, except that when the call comes or a gathering of their fellow sportsmen is seen already out on the water, it’s goggles and gloves, helmet and heavy coat that they adorn, not board shorts, wetsuits, and a tan. Such was the case earlier this month when the call raced across the state – the Toms River, for the first time in years, was ready to go. Before long, caravans of vehicles made their way from the north, south and west to join their local counterparts, carrying odd-looking wooden or synthetic beings on top of
roofs, out back windows, and tied down to trailers. Anticipation for the rush of the wind above and thunder of the
Beginning on the morning of Saturday, January 15th and running through all of the next day, bands of iceboaters
PHILIPP SCHMIDT, the Riverside Signal Three DN-class iceboats sail the Toms River toward Pine Beach earlier this month.
blades below coursed through the veins of these dedicated enthusiasts, so much so that any concept of prior duties or obligations evaporated on first sight of the ice.
assembled and lined up their “hardwater” craft on the cove between the Toms River Yacht Club and the western edge of Island Heights while a handful of Pine Beach and Beach-
wood natives rigged their own ice vessels at Station Avenue Beach in Pine Beach. Island Heights resident Bill Murphey and Bayville resident Ted Wiedeke were two such sportsmen on the north shore, each stating that the tradition had been passed down to them from their grandfather and father, respectively. “It’s an amazing rush,” said Mr. Murphey. “Iceboats used to be the fastest thing on the planet because you can’t get a railroad to go over 90 [mph] and they didn’t have cars.” “The big key is finding ice with no snow on it - the snow makes the surface too slow and then the boats want to tip over rather than going fast, and the whole reason they go so fast is because there’s no friction,” Mr. Wiedeke stated, further commenting on the quality of the ice of the day, cont. on page 8
Birdsall Bills Questioned, Left Unpaid
By Erik Weber ISLAND HEIGHTS – The next chapter of the ongoing rocky relationship between the governing body, here, and borough engineering firm Birdsall Engineering, Inc. was written during the January 18th borough council meeting when the majority of council members voted to leave $25,540.77 in payment vouchers unpaid. Those voting in favor of the measure cited numerous concerns and questions as to the validity of project tasks associated with the vouchers.
Councilman Brian Taboada began by criticizing a $107 bill associated with an inspection to the emergency replacement of the Summit Avenue groin, stating that the principal project manager, Elissa Commins, told him directly that she had never actually walked out to assess the groin because “she was wearing a skirt.” As a result, “we paid for 42 feet to be replaced when there’s only 27 feet of groin that needed to be replaced,” he said. “So I can’t see why we
should be paying $107 for a final inspection when she didn’t even walk out on it.” The councilman next questioned a $14,393.73 bill associated with the replacement of the elevated water tank on Van Sant Avenue. “The bid package was completed several months ago, supposedly, so I don’t understand why we’re being charged for this bill,” he said. “The same can be said for the water treatment plan design and permits for that – again, the bid package was complete, so
why are we being charged for this?” Mayor Jim Biggs said that various aspects in the bid packages had to be brought up to “current specifications” in order to comply with the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust (NJEIT) and the bidding process. “As state regulations change and change by mandate of the awarding institutions, NJEIT being one of them, there will be changes,” he said. “Anyone who wants to believe that the state gov-
Island Heights Community Calendar
The Island Heights Borough Council will hold its next regular meeting on Tuesday, February 8th at 7 pm in borough hall in the Wanamaker Complex on East End and Van Sant avenues. ~ Do you have an Island Heights community meeting, sports game, fundraiser or event you’d like to see here? Write us at P.O Box 93, Beachwood, N.J. 08722, e-mail RiversideSignal@ gmail.com or call 732-664-1043 and get it listed! ernment is cast in concrete is missing the front page of the newspaper or missing some touch with reality because this state is constantly changing the rules.” Mr. Taboada said he didn’t understand why the borough would need to pay added costs on a completed bid package if the engineering firm did not comply with NJEIT regulations properly, or anticipate cont. on page 13
Antiques, Etc. with Patricia H. Burke The New Year’s Antiques Show held at the Birchwood Manor in Whippany, Morris County on January 7th, 8th and 9th is promoted as New Jersey’s oldest antique show, however, it should be advertised more accurately as an antique and jewelry show, as its proximity to the affluent towns of Short Hills, Summit, Chatham and New York City’s Manhattan Borough draws many fine jewelry dealers and customers. While the jewelry was not particularly antique – coming mostly from the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s – the booths were always busy with patrons buying, some possibly for early Valentine’s Day gifts or investing in gold as an investment.
Debi Turi of Roseland, Essex County, New Jersey had a booth filled with general antiques, including paintings, porcelain and silver. When asked if people were buying silver for investment, she said, “I have mixed feelings about that. There’s a whole lot of plain silver out there that, I hate to say it, a dealer would sell for scrap.” When asked if the economy has affected business, she replied, “We’re the first to go and the last to come back. We’re not a neces-
sity.” Washington, D.C. and Bethesda, Maryland based Gardner Burke Antiques was selling Moser glassware, Limoges, and Belleek porcelain. The two sisters running the booth said, “We’ve been coming here for a number of years, and you can definitely tell that people are more careful of their purchasing decisions,” adding, “Porcelain appreciates, so it is a
Patricia H. Burke
cont. on page 12
The RIVERSIDE SIGNAL
Feb. 4 - Feb. 10, 2011
ISLAND HEIGHTS An Ice-Boat Adventure Recently, our local riverfront was transformed into a winter wonderland more commonly seen in the north, with iceboaters arriving from across the state to set up and race their sleek vessels on a rare, thickened crust of ice between the Toms River Yacht Club and the Pine Beach shoreline. While researching the history of this seasonal nautical tradition, we stumbled across an account by a mid-nineteenth century writer who first encountered it in the era when it was just gaining popularity. That story, reprinted below, was published in 1861 by Chambers’s Journal, a popular London-based magazine containing articles on subjects such as history, religion, language and science. Though not explicitly stated, information on this publication points to Robert Chambers, brother to publisher William, as having written the account, which portrays a journey out onto the lower portion of Lake Huron that almost ended the life of the writer and his travel companion. And so here we present to you An Ice-Boat Adventure. Enjoy.
My various wanderings over the globe had introduced me not only to every landconveyance extant, from the howdah to the bullock-wagon, but to every species of boat in which mankind endeavours to rule the waves. I had handled a rope in a surf-boat among the breakers, and feathered an oar in a whale-boat pursuing a whale; to say nothing of having ventured my precious person in every craft in the sisterhood from a manof-war’s boat to a catamaran. But an ice-boat was an utter stranger to me, and to obtain an introduction to it, I would have travelled far further than from Toronto to the lower end of Lake Huron, where the partner of my outward voyage, the son of a settler residing there, had promised me that pleasure. In compliance with Edward Mostyn’s desire, I arrived at the Sumachs in the beginning of December. But the ice was not yet strong enough for the proposed expedition, and the interval was filled up with
every amusement which the warmest hospitality could devise. Such rambles as we had among the gray old woods in quest of game, when, if we failed of the hoped-for deer and moose, we shot abundance of partridges and hares! Such glorious skating along the borders of the lake, and merry sleighing-parties over roads, billowy as the Atlantic itself, but without its accompanying sea-room, for we often fell foul of frozen headlands, or suffered wreck upon snowy Goodwins, whence we had to extricate ourselves amid the rapturous mirth of our companions! Then we wound up the evening with songs and tales around the huge woodfire, or, if we could capture guests from neighbouring farms, a backwoods ball on the puncheon floor. It was the morning after one of these festivities that the ice was declared in fitting order; and as a favouring breeze was blowing along the shore, no time was lost in unlocking the shed where the ice-boats had been
Further Reading ~ Iceboating For those interested in reading more about iceboating, we’ve listed a number of documents, articles and websites available to read online: Available via Google Books search: Non-Fiction Pre-DN Class 1937 The Modern Ice-Yacht, Outing Magazine, Volume 7, p. 536 – 541, October 1885
How to Make an Ice-Boat, Boys’ Life Magazine, p. 19, 44, 50, 51 November 1916 A Swift Ice Boat, Practical Things with Simple Tools, p. 101 – 103, 1916 Ice-Boats and Scooters, Spalding’s Athletic Library, p. 41 – 53, 1917 Non-Fiction Post-DN Class 1937
How to Make an Ice-Boat, Boy’s Book of Sports, p 309 – 313, 1886
Faster than the Wind, by Thomas P. Lake, Popular Mechanics, p. 280-284, February 1939
Ice-Yachting Up to Date, by H. Percy Ashley, Outing Magazine, Volume 31, p. 384 – 391, January 1898
Your Iceboat “Scoot”, Part I, by Doug Rolfe, Popular Science, cover plus p. 190-197, October 1949
Modern Ice Yachts, H. Percy Ashley, Outing Magazine, Volume 31, p. 453 – 459, February 1898
Your Iceboat “Scoot”, Part II, by Doug Rolfe, Popular Science, p. 210-213, November 1949
A Voyage on an Ice-Boat, Uncle Dudley’s Odd Hours, p 206 – 208, 1904
Faster than the Wind, by Raymond A. Ruge, Boys’ Life Magazine, cover plus p. 27 – 29, January 1967
How to Build an Ice-Boat, Popular Science Monthly, Volume 88, p 141 – 142, January – June, 1916
Fiction When a Fox Outwitted Wolves, Boys’ Life Magazine, p.10 – 11, December 1917 Cured by Christmas, Boys’ Life Magazine, p. 12, 79, 8486, December 1925 Though there are no widely available books on the history and sport of iceboating, one fictional novel that may be of interest is The Hardy Boys – The Mystery of Cabin Island, by Franklin W. Dixon, which involves iceboating in its plot and can be borrowed from the Ocean County Library system or purchased through most online book retailers. Websites North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club, www.nsibyc. com Long Branch Ice Boat and Yacht Club, www.lbibyc.org Hudson River Ice Yacht Club, www.hriyc.org International DN Ice Yacht Racing Association, ice.idniyra.org
hidden, and bringing them forth to view. Strange-looking craft they were, though doubtless suited to the frozen element they were designed to traverse, with their double keels, like enormous pairs of skates, and quaintly fashioned hulls, one displaying the outlines of a huge fiery dragon, with erect crest, curling tail, and outspread wings, rigged to act as sails; the other representing the deep curving shell of a gigantic nautilus. Above it rose a tall lateen sail, from which fluttered a deep blue streamer; while the dragon shewed a tongue long and fiery enough to have frightened St. George
himself. As might have been anticipated from the wellknown leanings of unregenerate humanity, the old Dragon proved at once the favourite, and odds in the forthcoming race were freely bet upon him. Indeed so little regard was had for the Nautilus, that it was needful to decider her crew by lot. Somewhat to our disappointment, this fell upon Edward Mostyn and myself; while two smart young settlers, with their militia buttons decorating their beaver overcoats, and bright gold bands gleaming on their otter-skin caps, triumphantly mounted the Dragon. Then, amid a hurricont. on page 9
The RIVERSIDE SIGNAL
Feb. 4 - Feb. 10, 2011
Iceboating on the Toms River cont’d from page 6 which while thick enough held a somewhat slushy surface layer. “It’s not great but it’s the first ice we’ve had in two years, so that ice is much better than no ice.” While speaking with the Riverside Signal, Mr. Wiedeke assembled his Detroit News, or DN, class iceboat, which has been reported to be the most popular model in the world. Its origins lie in a design contest held by that newspaper in the mid-1930s that produced a craft small and affordable enough yet fast enough to be built and raced by citizens then living under the dark cloud of the Great Depression. A number of successive models and classes have come out in years since the birth of the “DN”, such as the Arrow, the Renegade and the Nite, but none have attained the widespread popularity of the newspaper-backed model, as witnessed firsthand by its prevalence on the Toms River that weekend. Mr. Murphey noted that many of the hardwater sailors command softwater craft in the warmer months. “Most of these guys, Ted and I, sail boats all summer,” he said, jokingly adding that if it wasn’t 70 degrees and sunny or 20 degrees and a frozen river, “you’re wasting my time.” “It’s like a treat – if you could have chocolate cake every day, would you really care?” the Island Heights resident continued. “Every couple years or once a year for about a month, you get your iceboating and just the speed is such a rush that it’s just something special if you get the time to do it.” It didn’t matter if the river froze during a workday instead of on a weekend, he noted. “I’ll work on a Saturday when it’s melted in February,” said Mr. Murphey. Asked how interested noniceboat sailors could join the sport, he said to “ just come on down and get a ride.” “Just come down and see someone who’s got a two-seater, and just get the feel for it,” Mr. Murphy stated. “The easiest thing is to get into [softwater] boat sailing first to get the process down, then from there this is like boat sailing but 10 times faster, literally.” Lifelong Beachwood resident and softwater sailor Al Tutko reported that he got his DN model iceboat from his uncle, who built it about 40 years earlier. “During the winter months,
I can’t be sailing with my regular boats, so I’ll be iceboating out here and having fun,” he said, recalling that the last time the Toms River froze sufficiently for the sport was in the middle of the last decade. “It was like a sheet of glass – [today] it’s a little soft, but the wind is really great and we’re hitting some really high speeds, and it looks like everybody and their brother all came out of the woodwork.” Mr. Tutko guessed that his boat was topping out at around 40 mph that day. In smoother conditions, Detroit News model iceboats are known to reach speeds between 60 and 70 mph. Pine Beach residents and friends Russell W. Whitman, Jr. and Gene Jardel assembled another DN model iceboat while recalling deep freeze winters of their youth. “We used to bring our cars out here when we were kids,” said Mr. Whitman. “We all had woods buggies, which were like old Fords that we’d drive on the firetrails in the woods, and when it would freeze up we’d come right here at the end of Tudor Avenue and drive the cars right onto the ice and go race around, slide around.” “It was great fun,” he added. Mr. Jardel said that at one time, his brother went through the ice in a car near Station Avenue Beach. Mr. Whitman, who is also an avid softwater sailor and windsurfer, stated his favorite aspect of iceboating to be their ability to easily turn downwind, or jibe. “In sailboats, jibing can be a pretty violent thing,” he said, noting that the technique was also challenging while windsurfing. “On this thing, because it goes so fast in relation to the speed of the wind, it jibes like butter and it’s just the most amazing feeling.” The two borough residents noted that while a deep freeze in the late 1970s and another in 1984 created ice thick enough to allow multiple days of iceboating, conditions in recent years have scarcely permitted the sport on the Toms River. “It’s hard to get two years in a row,” said Mr. Jardel. Back on the north shore, Paul Sobon, a Bloomfield resident and relative newcomer to sport, was busy assembling his hand-crafted DN model iceboat while beaming at the present conditions.
“I’ve been doing it about a year, wanted to do it my whole life, it’s a bucket list item, so I finally put it all together,” he said. “Most of the guys here built their own boats.” The North Jersey resident, who sails softwater craft on locations as varied as the Barnegat Bay, Long Island Sound and the Hudson River in warmer months, said his favorite part about iceboating was the anticipation. “When you’re actually doing it, then it kinda settles
if you get in trouble you can hopefully get out of your situation.” The veteran iceboater also said that safety lines and sailing in a buddy system with people you know were important as well. “The technology is quite fascinating – guys know exactly how much the mast should bend, how much the planks should bend to different sailors’ weight and conditions and so forth, the different runners, the different types of
friend’s model. He noted that while he sails e-scows in the warmer months, the definite attraction of iceboating for him was “the speed, without a doubt.” Two of his personal craft were present on the river that weekend, one a 1936 model built by Robert Wilcox of Long Branch that he restored a decade ago, and another a turn of the 20th century “stern steerer.” Peeter Must, a 27-year-old Toms River resident, Olympic
down, but it’s actually thinking about it beforehand and reliving it afterwards,” he said. Holmdel resident and North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club member Tony Mancini, who stated that he got his start on the ice from his father, said that he travels across North America every winter and to Europe every other year for international competitions and world championships, but stressed the importance of safety on the ice. “We have safety equipment to basically be prepared to save your own butt out there,” he said. “I have ice picks that
steel,” he said. “It’s also how to rig your boat that’s somewhat challenging – you could have all the right equipment but you still have to be able to put it all together and decide which equipment to use on a given day.” Delving back into iceboating’s history further than all of the other enthusiasts seen that weekend, Toms River’s Will Demand said he began purchasing early 20th century iceboats, commonly referred to as ice yachts due to their larger “backbone” sizes and sail areas, about 20 years ago after testing the sport out on a
sailing hopeful and friend to Mr. Demand, said that while it was only about his fifth time on the ice, he helped assemble the large ice crafts and also took them out on the river. “It’s just fun – I like speed,” he said, noting that he has sailed “all my life.” Mr. Must personally sailed Mr. Demand’s 1936 model iceboat back and forth on the river as this reporter sat in the front cockpit. Full videos of the experience can be seen on the Riverside Signal website.
The RIVERSIDE SIGNAL
Feb. 4 - Feb. 10, 2011
An Ice-Boat Adventure, cont’d from page 7 cane of cheers, we hoisted our sails, and started on our novel voyage. But I was by no means prepared for the speed our icecrafts shortly attained. Swiftly almost as shadows we sped over the sparkling ice-fields; and noiselessly as the spirits of antediluvian fish and reptile revisiting their former haunts, we glided past bay and headland, past tumbling cascade, congealed into waves of glittering crystal, and tall leafless
As we drew from shore, the wind freshened, and we began to forge ahead of our rival. Despite their utmost efforts, each moment increased our superiority, until, ere long, amid triumphant shouts, that rolled over the lake and through the silent woods beyond, we ran them fairly out of sight. For an hour, we continued to sweep along, enjoying our victory and our voyage over that crystal sea, with the bright sun shining down
by the swiftness of our boat, which sped along like the wearer of seven-league skates. Undoubtedly, she proved to make considerable leeway, but it was nothing more than an extra turn or two would remedy. While we thus tacked about, the sun set, and the short day ended, ushering in one of the darkest nights I ever saw close above the snow. Black clouds, like evil spirits, came creeping over the sky, hiding the brilliancy of the stars, and cast-
forests, whose ice-clad branches gleamed in the sunlight like arabesques of silver; past icicle-hung cave and waving pine-crest – the only shadow on that broad landscape of brilliant white. It was a strange sensation, this fleet, almost motionless travel; and side by side we sped along, each admiring the other’s bird-like grace; while huge American eagles, and large white northern owls, looked down astonished from their eyries on the heights; and soft-eyed deer rose from their brushwood couches to gaze in wonder at the strange passers-by.
upon us from the clear blue sky, and flashing in a thousand prismatic hues on the winter garniture of the wild and beautiful scenery around us. But at the end of that time, the sun beginning to dip behind the pine-trees, reminded us of the necessity of returning. Having come before the wind, we must, of course, tack back against it, an infinitely less agreeable process. But as there was no alternative, we trimmed our lofty sail, and putting our rudder hard aport, commenced the first of our zigzag maneuvers. Again, we were pleasantly surprised
ing a ghastly shadow over the snow-clad landscape, while long gusts of sobbing wind swept fitfully past us. Then, as the hours went by, the wind increased, until a furious storm howled over the frozen wilderness, breaking like reeds the ancient trees upon the shore, and sending their fragments, mingled with thick drifts of snow, far out upon the lake; while in the distance we could hear the thinner ice crack and moan, as if it too were about to yield to the violence of the tempest. Meanwhile, through the raging storm, like some wild-
horse of the prairie, careered our ice-boat, hurring on through the darkness to probably destruction. At the commencement of the gale, we had lowered her canvas, but she still presented sufficient body to the wind to dash away in that storm with scarce abated speed, while by some accident or mismanagement of ours, she refused any longer to obey her helm. The night, too, was intensely cold; the bitter wind, fresh from the polar ice-fields, dashed against our faces like tiny icicles, while its fierce gusts swept through our thick garments as though they had been gossamer. Even the buffalo robes in which we had wrapped ourselves were unable to prevent our limbs stiffening, and our blood thickening in our veins; and when we tried to address some words of hope or consolation to each other, our teeth chattered so that we could not be comprehended. Faster and faster, meanwhile, our ice-skiff flew before the gale, sometimes appearing by its movements to leap wide chasms – for in the thick darkness we could not see before us – at others, rising and falling on what seemed the waves of a frozen sea; yet still speeding as if demon-driven, until each moment we expected it would be dashed to pieces against some rock rising above the water, or else engulfed in the open centre of the lake. And yet we could do nothing to aid ourselves. To have left our boat in that fierce tempest, would have been certain, almost immediate death; and though with each rood we sped along, we seemed to become more helpless and more wretched, we retained our places, and silently awaited the coming of that power which would change us into stone. Our thoughts flew back to happy homes, the bright firesides, to beloved forms and loving voices, between whom and us loomed the dark shadow of a miserable death. Suddenly, it seemed to fall upon us, and all was blank. Cold and exhaustion had done their work, and we sank down together at the bottom of the boat in a deep torpid sleep, that was like to have no waking; while our boat still bore us on, with the same arrowy speed, guided by an unerring Hand past countless dangers. When I again awoke, all was still and silent, and a
soft silvery light was shining down upon me through some semi-transparent substance: it was snow, which by falling thickly upon us, and keeping us warm, had most probably saved our lives. My first movement roused my companion, and we greeted each other as they would who, though side by side, had never thought to speak again. The storm of the night had been succeeded by a complete calm, and around us lay a vast, dreary wilderness of untrodden snow, in which the runners of our boat were deeply embedded. Opposite the sun, faint and blue in the distance, stretched the northern shore, along which, far to the eastward, lay the Sumachs. The great question now was, how we should get back to it. Even if we would have trusted ourselves again in the Nautilus, she was fixed in the snow, and must be abandoned; so, though we were both weak and faint from exposure and want of food, there was nothing left us but to undertake the journey on foot, and without a moment’s delay, we commenced it. The newly fallen snow lay soft as down upon the ice, and as we had no snow-shoes to support us on its surface, we sank at every step, sometimes wading to our knees among its clogging masses, at others struggling through heavy snow-drifts, which almost overwhelmed us; while the sun flashed and glowed among its glittering particles with blinding brilliancy. With each passing hour, our weariness and exhaustion increased, until, when night at length came, and the shore was reached, we had scarce power to enjoy the fire Mostyn built above the snow, or eat the hare he killed and cooked. All we seemed able to appreciate, was the luxury of lying on a pile of brushwood beneath a tree. Three more such toilsome days we travelled against the sun, skirting the lake-shore, until on the fourth day, when we were utterly travel-spent, eye-sore, and ready to yield to our fate, the smoke curling above the Sumachs blessed our eyes. How we rejoiced over that home-coming, and how far more its inhabitants rejoiced over us! To them we were as beings restored from the dead, for the unsuccessful return of the various parties who had gone out in quest of us had destroyed every home. More fortunate than ourselves, cont. on page 11
The RIVERSIDE SIGNAL
Feb. 4 - Feb. 10, 2011
OCEAN GATE Felton Receives Bronze Star; Is Honored by Borough Vets
By Erik Weber OCEAN GATE – On a cold night last week, Adrian Hall, here, was warm with the smiling faces and welcoming glow of about fifty borough residents as U.S. Army Master Sergeant Gary Felton was gladly received back into the folds of his hometown community after spending a year of service in Iraq. In recognition for his service as a member of the Army Reserve participating in the U.S. military’s Iraqi Training and Advisory Mission (ITAM) role in Operation New Dawn, Mr. Felton was awarded the Bronze Star. Speaking about his service, Mr. Felton said that “combat operations have stopped and we’re [now] nation building, trying to make them capable of providing security and also doing day to day life functions that right now they’re having extreme difficulty doing.” As a member of the ITAM police on borders and ports of entry, Mr. Felton often traveled to remote areas of the country to work on border patrol and customs office duties. “What the U.S. is trying to do is make their military strictly enforcing the borders and having the police being the people that the civilians can come to, but right now it’s difficult, a lot of corruption, [and] the population doesn’t trust anybody,” he said. “We’re trying to change that.” Part of his duties involved handling five contracts that involved security metal detec-
tors and explosive scanners small enough for individual people and large enough to scan tractor trailers and trains that are being paid for with U.S. taxpayer money. The purpose of these scanners, Mr. Felton said, was to cut down on the corruption
“The road we ended up going down was, I had to deal with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the nuclear proliferation laboratories, things of that sort, to find a way to get that radioactive source approved and legal to give to the government of Iraq,” the mas-
PHILIPP SCHMIDT, the Riverside Signal M/Sgt. Gary Felton received a number of mementos and honors during a welcome home ceremony last week.
involved with border customs. “The problem we ran into was that [one of the large equipment scanners] has a radioactive source on it, [and] Iraq is on the embargo list for any type of radioactive material,” he said, adding that he had “stumbled” across this radioactive source while working on that project, which posed a problem as it placed the $27 million dollar contract on hold. “Every option we looked at, it was going to cost the taxpayers a boatload of money.”
ter sergeant continued. “The thing that was interesting that I found out while I was doing this, was that when the war kicked off, some of our high priority objectives [was] taking radioactive sources from the hospitals so they couldn’t build dirty bombs or anything like that.” “To turn around and give [that source] back to them was a big pain in the butt,” he added. Welcoming Mr. Felton home and reflecting upon his
Bronze Star made Larry Kelly, the Veterans of Foreign Wars District 12 commander and president of the Ocean Gate Veteran’s Association, and Harold Galloway, the Junior Vice Commander of VFW Post 9503 and recording secretary of the Ocean Gate Veteran’s Association, beam with pride. Mr. Kelly and Mr. Galloway presented the returning veteran with a framed representation of that bronze star and a certificate of appreciation from the Ocean Gate Veterans’ Association and VFW Post 9503. “We so greatly appreciate your efforts and your honor and your service to this country and to everybody here,” said Mr. Galloway. “I hope that you have many years of continued service.” Mr. Felton said he was very thankful and overwhelmed by the reception, which filled the hall, and thanked all the organizations and individuals who had sent him and the other troops some of the comforts of home while in Iraq. “It goes a very, very long way, [and] it starts from Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and individuals from schools that I don’t know sending stuff to me, Blue Star Mothers, all that coming in,” he said, adding that he tried to pass on much of it to troops stationed at the remote borders where he would travel, as they did not have much access to amenities. “I see our soldiers living in tents, and I see our soldiers that have nothing. We’ve been in this location for seven years and I tried to hook them up. They live in a tent for a year, the internet is to go to a [Morale, Welfare and Recreation] tent and get in line and wait. If you want to watch TV, you have to go in the mess hall after dinner. The mess hall is open 24 hours, but that’s where you watch TV.” Mr. Felton said he sometimes felt awkward as the troops stationed there went out of their way for him. “I felt kinda funny in the aspect of, I should be doing things for you, because I’m going to be going back to Baghdad, I’m going to have electricity, I’m going to have a shower that I take every day,” he said. “That’s how our service members are living, and the amazing part is they don’t
complain.” Mr. Kelly thanked Woody Vassallo, an associate member of the borough veterans’ association, who had purchased a 4 inch by 8 inch paver in Mr. Felton’s honor for the borough veterans’ park area on Ocean Gate Drive, adding that remaining members upgraded it to a full 8 inch by 8 inch paver.
PHILIPP SCHMIDT, the Riverside Signal This 8”x8” will be set in Ocean Gate Veterans’ Park.
The Ocean Gate Civic Association was also thanked for providing a cake for the event. Following the ceremony, Mr. Felton presented a slideshow of over 50 photographs showing his day to day life in Iraq, peppered with stories and anecdotes that highlighted the various borders he patrolled, living quarters at numerous bases, security measures in place to protect the U.S. military, Iraqi translators that worked with his team, aircraft he utilized to travel to the various bases and more. Describing the typical Iraqi border neighborhoods, he said “there’s just dirt, there’s cars all over, there’s wires – you’d have to see it to believe it. Anyone that really complains about this country, all they have to do is go there for a day, and they’re going to come running back here. Debris on roofs, they throw it out windows. There is no garbage collection, but, you know, I don’t know, I figured that even if you can’t get rid of it, you could at least pile it up, you could do something with it, just don’t throw it out your window. Little towns and villages are always cluttered. Houses are on top of each other. There is no city water and sewer or any of that, so someone’s got to pump the water to the roof [from a water tank] to give them a little bit of pressure, to get it where they want inside the house.” On the borders themselves, Mr. Felton said “filthy cont. on next page
The RIVERSIDE SIGNAL
Feb. 4 - Feb. 10, 2011
OCEAN GATE Felton Receives Bronze Star; Is Honored by Borough Vets, continued from page 10
Ocean Gate Community Calendar
Boro Yoga Class
Yoga classes are offered on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 8:30 am to 9:30 am and 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm, in Adrian Hall on East Cape May Avenue. Cost is $7 per person per class; series pricing is available. For more information, call 609-276-3966 or e-mail sharynkerins@ comcast.net
to the roof [from a water tank] to give them a little bit of pressure, to get it where they want inside the house.” On the borders themselves, Mr. Felton said “filthy dirty, no organization, nobody working, just – I mean, it was horrible. There were wild dogs running around everywhere. They don’t bite you, they stay away from you, but there would literally be 50 dogs on this thing. I visited one place where they had snaked. Four Iraqis had been bitten by snakes and died. I was like, ‘Well great, do we have anti-venom?’ And the guy was like ‘Yeah, we have
two doses.’ And I look around, and there’s fourteen of us. I’m looking at the math going, this doesn’t work.” On the Iranian border, however, things were much different. “Clean, orderly. They actually have [their side] airconditioned for their people. The Iraq side basically doesn’t have electricity – they get their electricity from Iran, [and] Iran turns it on and off whenever they choose,” he said. “A thing that happened with us from our higher command is, ‘You have to stop this Iranian’ – what we call ‘soft influence’ – ‘on the Iraqis,’ and our re-
Photo Courtesy M/SGT. GARY FELTON “Myself with Major Jonathan Kusy (US Air Force) and Iraqi General Muhammad Khalid who is in charge of security at the Al Daura Oil Refinery in Baghdad, Iraq. The US taxpayers are providing x-raying scanning equipment to search oil tankers as well as railroad oil tankers in an effort to protect Iraq’s vital resource.
Free Karate Classes
Free karate classes are offered every Friday from 6 pm to 7 pm in Adrian Hall on East Cape May Avenue to all borough residents. ~
The Ocean Gate Borough Council will hold its next meeting on Wednesday, February 9th at 7 pm in borough hall on Ocean Gate Avenue. ~
The Ocean Gate Democratic Club will sponsor a Sweetheart Pancake Breakfast on Sunday, February 13th from 8 am to noon in Adrian Hall, located on East Cape May Avenue. For more information, please call 732245-3172 or 732-779-6863. ~ Do you have an Ocean Gate community meeting, sports game, fundraiser or event you’d like to see here? Write us at P.O Box 93, Beachwood, N.J. 08722, e-mail RiversideSignal@gmail.com or call 732664-1043 and get it listed!
Photo Courtesy M/SGT. GARY FELTON “Myself and LTC Francis Dorish (US Air Force) stand in front of an US Army Styker vehicle at Forward Operating Base Cobra in Muntheria, Iraq.”
ply back was, ‘What could we do? They have no electricity. Whatever they get from Iran, it’s much better than nothing, so until the Iraqis can run power out there, they’re going to take that Iranian power all day, and that’s what they do.’” “One thing that I found when we were there, a lot of the Iranians come up to us and they thank us,” Mr. Felton continued, describing a scene in which one particular Iranian approached him at the border and spoke English, thanking him. “He said, ‘Thank you, thank you for everything you’re doing!’ and then all the
Iranians came up behind him, and they don’t speak English but they were thanking us. I guess our message is getting across, obviously they know something because the Iraqis are worried about coming up to American soldiers, so for the Iranians to do it, they must really think highly of us or what we’re trying to do, put it that way.” The master sergeant also showed a sign placed in the middle of the desert by American soldiers kidding around that read, “Beach Closed.” “I thought that was pretty good,” he said, laughing.
damage or any indication that the perpetrator had entered the residence at all. Patrolman Vincent LaRocca is the investigating officer,
and area residents were notified. Anyone with any further information can call the borough police at 732-269-3166, ext. 24.
OGPD Report Breaking and Entering By Philipp Schmidt
OCEAN GATE – Detective Barry Wohl of the Ocean Gate Police Department reported that a break-in occurred sometime between January 24th and 25th at an unidentified residence on East Long Branch Avenue, here. “Someone had forced the
door open by using some type of prying instrument between the door and molding,” he said. “The door was damaged but there were no items taken – right now the apartment is unoccupied.” The detective added that there was no sign of interior
An Ice-Boat Adventure,
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continued from page 5
the Dragon and her crew had returned in safety, and there was nothing to cloud the general joy. But ever since then, I have carefully eschewed the acquaintance of all maritime novelties, and not for all the gold in California would I undertake another expedition in an ice-boat.
hit or miss, even with the women’s program. Then, in late September, someone burned our first hut to the ground.
The RIVERSIDE SIGNAL
Feb. 4 - Feb. 10, 2011
PINE BEACH Chief Sgro Reports Borough Activity for December The following report was submitted by Pine Beach Police Chief John M. Sgro and covers a summary of borough police activity for the month of December. - For the month of December 2010, the police department responded to 171 calls for service. - On December 7th, officers from our department conducted a DMV random checkpoint. Our officers assist the state DMV in randomly selecting vehicles for safety inspections. Some operators are issued summonses for blatant safety violations and many of the vehicles are put through a roadside inspection process and if they pass are issued a valid inspection sticker. With the elimination of the safety
portion of inspection at the regular inspection station, these checks have become critical in identifying unsafe vehicles that are traveling our roads. - On December 13th through 16th, Sgt. Keith Brown attended internal affairs training given by the New Jersey State Division of Criminal Justice. Every department is mandated to have a trained officer to conduct internal investigations arising from complaints against officers. - As you are all well aware, on December 26th we endured a storm of epic proportion which dumped about 28 inches of snow on us. This, coupled with gale force winds, made for quite a dangerous situation. Our public works
department did the best they could to stay ahead of the snow. I am happy to report we were fortunate in not having any serious emergency calls during the storm. Our department is equipped with a fourwheel drive vehicle with which we were able to negotiate most of our streets, allowing us to respond to emergencies. The hardest hit areas of course were along the waterfront and that immediate area. We had to abandon two public works vehicles in the area that became stuck due to drifting snow and they remained there late into the next day when winds finally died down and allowed us to get ahead of the drifts. We also had an unfortunate incident in which a Quality Medical Ambulance
became stuck and had to be abandoned for almost 10 hours. Fortunately, the ambulance did not have a patient and had been responding to a carbon monoxide alarm. I apologize to Quality Medical for the delay in getting their ambulance freed and can assure them that we have assessed the situation and we hope that some changes we are making with equipment and response will prevent this from ever happening again. - With the fallen snow remaining, I would like to remind everyone to please use extra caution when driving, especially at night when the day’s snow melt usually refreezes on the roadways making them extremely dangerous.
Borough Eliminates Asst. Clerk Position, continued from front from council members sifting through grim budget numbers in an effort to find an alternate way of salvaging the approximately $30,000 they would initially gain from the elimination of Ms. Golda’s position, was punctuated by various ideas to boost the budget numbers overall. Mr. Cuneo said that though there had been a few “oneshot” boosts in the borough revenue from such things as the sale of a liquor license, there are currently no foreseeable revenue streams they could count on drawing from. “We need something like a cell tower lease again – something we can count on for the next five, six, seven years,” stated Chief Financial Officer Mary Jane Steib. “We don’t have an ideal location for that,” said Councilman Robert Budesa, referring to the water sphere that stands on Pennsylvania Avenue in the public works yard. “They haven’t beaten a
path to our door,” noted Mayor Boyle, referring to the surrounding municipalities who have been approached on numerous occasions to add cell tower equipment to their municipal water towers as a source of revenue. “What about the waterfront?” asked Councilman Andrew Keczkemethy. “We could lease it out to a private company for annual income, like an outside privately-owned marina.” “Ocean Gate went to private trash pickup,” he continued, adding that shared service agreements could be looked into. “We haven’t talked about any of that.” “We looked at shared services, yes,” replied Mr. Cuneo, and referred to the approximately 30 shared services contracts that the borough holds with various other entities. “We looked at the police department, but it made no sense as it would cost taxpayers more, so there’s no sense
in saying, ‘Do shared services,’ just because it’s the catchphrase of the day if it’s going to cost you more.” Councilman Ritty Polhemus stated that even by eliminating the assistant clerk typist position, the borough would still be “$60,000 in the hole, and revenue streams are sporadic, at best.” Mr. Cuneo said that even with the elimination of the position, the possibility of furloughs and further cuts was not far off. “This was something we never envisioned we would have to do, and it’s something we never wanted to do,” he said. “The financial and political climate changed.” “Because we don’t do anything to excess, we’ve been able to [avoid cuts] for a year now and it’s come back to bite us,” said Councilman Matthew Abatemarco. “We did everything fiscally responsible this town was supposed to do, and now we’re getting penalized.”
Antiques, Etc., continued from page 6
good place to put your money. It only gets older every year.” They also noted that there was no impulse buying in this year of a down economy and tightened budgets. A Godey’s Lady’s Book, dated January-December, 1859 and containing 12 handcolored fashion plates plus the first paper dolls ever published in an American periodical was found with Layton, Sussex County, New Jersey’s Colophon Books, priced at
$275. Also offered was a leaf from a Medieval choir book, probably from Florence, nicely framed and priced at $325. Overall, there were many New Jersey books in general, and individual county books in particular, as well as an assortment of early brass microscopes and other scientific items from the dealer, John Tyler. Complimenting these antiques were a number of antiquarian science books. “[This show has] held up
reasonably well under the circumstances,” said Mr. Tyler, is a retired teacher who has been doing the show for about twenty years. “In an age of the internet and electronics, books sell because they are tactile and kinesthetic.” Marcia Chaloux, who owns Cherished Treasures in Connecticut, was on hand selling costume and vintage jewelry, and doing very well. Her jewelry is “lower price” and “easy to buy.”
Ms. Golda stated that even by eliminating her position, the savings to the borough would be minimal as they would still need to cover her unemployment costs and pay her for her accumulated sick and vacation days. She added that some unnamed borough employees “come to collect their paycheck but you never see them fulfill their duties.” Ms. Golda declined to identify those borough employees publicly. “I’m not happy with what we voted on tonight – none of us are,” said Mr. Budesa. “None of us are happy with what is occurring and the only thing I can saw from what I see is that this is only the beginning of other issues we’re going to have to address in a very fundamental way, and I just hope we can resolve things.” In addition to eliminating the assistant clerk typist position, the borough council passed a motion to reduce the “Rings are always popular, [and] cameos are always hot,” she reported, adding that she sells many clip earrings and carries 1,200 pair as women typically find it difficult to locate them anymore. Beautiful and somewhat rare Staffordshire pieces were being offered by a dealer from Michigan who was headed to a show in Palm Beach, Florida. I looked at a small covered dish modeled as three chicks in a basket. The asking price was
Pine Beach Community Calendar Land Use Board Meeting
The Pine Beach Borough Land Use Board will hold its next meeting on Thursday, February 3rd at 7:30 pm in borough hall on Pennsylvania Avenue. ~
The Pine Beach Borough Council will hold its next work session meeting on Monday, February 7th at 7:30 pm in borough hall on Pennsylvania Avenue. ~
Join Boy Scouts
Troop 114, Ages 11 through 17. If you enjoy learning life skills, camping, adventure and helping to improve your community, call Barry Wieck 732-3416565. ~
The Pine Beach Borough Council will hold its next regular meeting on Wednesday, February 9th at 7:30 pm in borough hall.
borough hall operating hours to 9 am to 2 pm, Monday through Friday. Th next meeting of the borough council will be a work session on Monday, February 7th at 7:30 pm in borough hall on Pennsylvania Avenue.
$2,500, and without my asking she said she could offer it to me for $1,800. In my opinion, that was still overpriced, but maybe it would sell in Palm Beach. Looking ahead, the Morristown Armory Antiques Show will be held February 26th and 27th on Western Avenue in Morristown, Morris County, New Jersey and will feature over 100 exhibitors. Admission is $8.00.
The RIVERSIDE SIGNAL
Feb. 4 - Feb. 10, 2011
Secret World of Iceboats, from front old Admiral Farragut Academy docks on the south, iceboat enthusiasts from at least around the state converged to bring the river to life with a tradition whose roots can be traced to early 17th century depictions of Dutch countrymen traveling above frozen “hardwater” canals in “softwater” craft modified for wintertime transport and leisure. From these early European beginnings, modern-day American iceboaters can claim a lineage, starting with the settlement of New Amsterdam on a seasonally frozen river named after its first European explorer, the Hudson. It appears the practice was picked up sporadically between the two continents through 1768, when the first known plans for an iceboat were published in Swedish shipbuilder and naval architect Fredrik Henrik af Chapman’s Architectura Navalis Mercatoria. Twenty-two years later, in 1790, the world saw its first known vessel built solely for hardwater sailing in Poughkeepsie-on-the-Hudson by Oliver A. Booth. Compared with today’s sleek and Spartan models that can, under good conditions, travel at speeds exceeding 100 mph, Mr. Booth’s design was described by early iceboat chronicler and designer H. Percy Ashley as being a crude wooden box and sail with blades, or runners, nailed to the side. Experimentation continued by iceboat hobbyists through the first half of the 19th century with little variation to this boxy hull design until the 1850s, when the first skeletal craft, featuring today’s common triangular body and three runners, was built by Red Bank enthusiasts for use on the adjacent North Shrewsbury River. For the first time, the potential for top speed and maneuverability through improved design was realized, and interest in the iceboat as a racing sport grew. In close succession, progress arrived as the first ice “yacht” racing club was organized in Poughkeepsie in 1861, the same year that Chambers’s Journal printed a dynamic account of an iceboat excursion on Lake Huron that nearly ended in death for the curious author and his companion [Editor’s note – this account has been reprinted in full for our readers on page X]. February 1866 saw an iceboat
expedition take place on the Hudson from Poughkeepsie to Albany and back, a distance of roughly 65 miles one way, with the New York Times noting in its report of the event that “iceboats have of late years become numerous, there being over one hundred of them on the Hudson River at the present time.” In 1869, John A. Roosevelt, uncle to the future Great Depression and World War II-era president, commissioned the Icicle, which was eventually constructed to have a “backbone” length of 68 feet 11 inches and 1,070 square feet of sail, the largest ice craft ever assembled. Following a tradition started by other ice “yachts” of the previous decade, it regularly raced the trains that traveled along the Hudson and in 1871 beat one of the fastest in the country, the Chicago Express, as it traveled between Poughkeepsie and Ossining, NY. Practice of the sport and improvement of its design further continued in the realm of these wealthy “ice yacht” owners from the Hudson and back down to the North Shrewsbury River through 1880, when the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club was formed, operating to this day. Following a rift among members of the Poughkeepsie Ice Yacht Club in 1885, the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club was established and ever since the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club has fueled a rivalry with the successor club, self-proclaiming it to be “the longest standing active iceboat club in the world that has its own club house.” In the ensuing decades, the sport grew even as the size of the crafts shrank, and the naming convention of “ice yacht” slowly melted back down to the earlier “iceboat” in the era of Popular Mechanics, Boys’ Life Magazine and the accompanying home-built instructions. These culminated in a 1937 design contest sponsored by the Detroit News that saw the creation of the most widely used and popular model of iceboat, originally called the “Blue Streak 60” but now known simply as the DN. From hand-carved wood to molded synthetics, the popularity of the sport of iceboating shows little sign of ebbing, and rumors abound that it will be tested out as an Olympic sport within the decade.
Shortly after that weekend, temperatures rose and chased away the ice and its gliding sailcraft from the river, and despite the constant barrage of winter storm events, temperatures have refused to linger deep enough below the freezing mark for their return. With many of the iceboaters that weekend reporting it had been a number of years since they last had the opportunity to practice their sport on our local body of water, it is unknown how much longer area residents will have to wait to again see sails raised to the winter skies. One thing remains certain, however – anyone who caught sight of them on those particular days, during those particular hours won’t soon forget it.
Birdsall, continued from page 6 new ones put in place during the life of the project. “I do a fair amount of permitting with the state and submittal to the state and I can tell you right now that the rules are typically six months to a year in advance up on the website, so you know when those rules go into effect as well as what is required,” he replied. “I will admit that sometimes you get stuck when the new rules come out, however, that’s pretty substantial - $14,000 – I’ve personally never gotten burnt for that much.” Mr. Taboada also brought up the perpetual issues at the borough police station, which has moisture, mold and flooding problems as a result of possibly being constructed atop an old stream bed. “Several months ago, due to poor engineering, they went over there and inspected and supposedly did what?” he asked. “We don’t know anything; however, we do know that it flooded again yesterday.” The governing body then voted in the majority to approve all bills in the certified bills list except those totaling $25,540.77 from Birdsall Engineering, Inc., with Councilmen John Bendel and Joe Rogalski casting dissenting votes. Mayor Biggs also voted to approve the Birdsall Engineering, Inc. bills, but his vote was not applied to break a tie vote as the council was split
4-2. “This is the second time we have not agreed to pay a bill for work that they claim was done, and I suspect that after all is said and done they will have a satisfactory explanation,” said Mr. Bendel. “We’re poisoning the relationship with these people and honestly if it keeps happening, we can’t keep dealing with these people this way – it’s unfair to them and it’s unfair to us and at some point someone has to either say, ‘Well, we have to get a new engineer,’ or we have to do something about it.” “I can’t imagine them wanting to go forward with us if this is the kind of treatment they’re going to get,” he added. “I think we ought to have some very serious discussions about the engineer and who’s going to do it because we can’t go on like this – we just can’t do it.” “I agree with [Mr. Bendel] that it’s important for the borough and the engineer to have a healthy relationship,” replied Mr. Taboada. “I also feel it’s important for the borough, who is paying the engineering bills, to get what they are paying for, and in light of the fact that we are spending, on our engineering bills, historic proportions, it’s important for us to make sure that we are getting the work that we are paying for.” “Should the mayor find or see fit to terminate this relationship, I am more than willing to sit and volunteer my time in seeking out another engineering firm,” he added.
“I voted against the engineering because I’m a professional and I know how easy it is to overbill somebody, and municipalities are huge targets of engineering firms in this county,” said Councilman Gregory S. Heizler, who operates a law office on Water Street in Toms River. “They throw huge parties at the [New Jersey] League of Municipalities – I think I used the phrase, ‘shrimp the size of Volkswagons.’” “They do that for a reason – because they make a lot of money, and they make a lot of money because they overbill their municipalities because they don’t anticipate anyone is looking at their bills and I commend Brian and I wish I had half the ability and skill set to be able to review and audit these bills the way he does,” he continued. “I put a lot of faith into it because I think he’s sincere, I don’t think he’s trying to run the engineer out of town – they’re not doing us a favor, we’re paying them a large amount of money and if our relationship has soured, so be it, but they’ve gotten pretty fat over the years with a lot of municipalities in this state having kissy-kissy relationships.” Representatives of Birdsall Engineering, Inc. did not respond to messages left at press time. The next meeting of the borough council will be on Tuesday, February 8th, at borough hall in the Wanamaker Complex on East End and Van Sant avenues.
The RIVERSIDE SIGNAL
Business / Service Directory
Feb. 4 - Feb. 10, 2011
Thank You Boro Volunteers Editor, the Riverside Signal: On January 20, 1961 President John F. Kennedy exhorted his fellow Americans to “Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country”. In commemoration of that speech, the editor of this periodical has asked me to write a short letter as to what I would like to see the residents of Pine Beach do for our town. President Kennedy went on to create the Peace Corps and to encourage and inspire a generation of young men and woman to help our less fortunate neighbors throughout the world, but we live in different times. Fifty years ago, a vibrant citizenry toiled to make their country the envy of the world: the men and women then described by the President as “tempered by war” and now known as The Greatest Generation. Sadly their ranks grow thinner by the day, and every day many of their children and grandchildren struggle against economic forces beyond their control. Thankfully, despite the struggles we face in these troubled times, many of my friends and neighbors do not shy from public service. I have worked alongside them on volunteer projects such as bulkhead and dock repairs, dune grass planting, and beautification as well as on the Borough Council, Land Use Board, and Environmental Commission. I encourage and give thanks to those who choose to make a difference but do not presume to dictate the param-
The RIVERSIDE SIGNAL
Feb. 4 - Feb. 10, 2011
Letters & Classifieds
eters of their service. That is a decision that must come from within each individual. They and I know how very personally rewarding that service can be. CHRISTOPHER J. BOYLE Mayor, Borough of Pine Beach ~ Volunteer Today! Editor, the Riverside Signal: Fellow Residents: In Jan. 1961 President John F. Kennedy gave the famous “ Ask Not” speech , 50 years later the challange is the same. We need to bring back the involvement of that time when communities were families. You will find volunteer efforts not only to be rewarding, but the learning experiences will help you grow in both your professional and personal life. BARRY WIECK Councilman, Borough of Pine Beach
Signal Echo: Murante on Stranded Ambulance
Earlier this month, the Riverside Signal received a call from Sal Murante, the operations manager for Bayvillebased Quality Medical Transport, who wished to thank the Pine Beach borough resident who brought his medical responders soup while they were stuck on Riverside Drive on December 27th from the late morning until evening. Mr. Murante also wanted to dispute part of the “Blizzard” story as written for the Signal’s December 31st issue, in which it was recounted that a Quality Medical Transport ambulance became stuck on a snow bank while answering a call for service in the borough that was later rescinded. He said that some of the statements made by Pine Beach Mayor Christopher Boyle and Pine Beach Police Chief John
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M. Sgro were inaccurate as to the nature of how the ambulance was stuck on Riverside Drive. He also criticized the borough for what he saw as a “spiteful” action of leaving his employees stranded for much of the day, and was displeased that it cost his company $300 to have the ambulance plowed out later that night. In response, Chief Sgro stated that “our police officer did not leave the Quality crew stranded. They were advised that they could abandon the ambulance and walk up one block from river where we could get our police vehicle to pick them up and transport them to their base.” Mayor Boyle said that “there was no malice involved
in our being unable to free his ambulance. He is absolutely correct when he states that we were unequipped to perform a rescue mission for his vehicle,” and cited the extreme nature of the storm, but added that he felt the ambulance driver’s account of the events that took place may not have been an accurate depiction of what occurred. Anyone wishing to dispute a story found in the Riverside Signal or to speak out about a subject are encouraged to write a letter to the editor by e-mailing RiversideSignal@ gmail.com or writing Riverside Signal, c/o Letters, P.O. Box 93, Beachwood, N.J. 08722. Our letters policy can be found on this page.
The RIVERSIDE SIGNAL
Feb. 4 - Feb. 10, 2011
Champagne on Haiti, continued... black, Hispanic or what have you. It ended up becoming this huge organization I created in 2002, and now we’re in 2011 and it’s still going. I am invited to speak at Vermont Law School to speak to the students in February through the organization [Mr. Champagne graduated in 2002]. So I always find myself in leadership positions, not that I’m seeking it but it eventually translates itself into that because I always find myself interacting with people, being concerned about what they are going through, and finding ways to find a solution for that. I know the motivating factor is my experience in Haiti to see how I can be the antithesis of what I saw, how those leaders have used their power, or misused their power, and eventually misused those people that they were supposed to govern. What year did you come to South Toms River and what attracted you to it? I first came to Toms River in 2002. I got a clerkship to clerk for Judge [Wendel E.] Daniels, and I didn’t have any family members here. I drove past it. I intended only to spend a year and then go back to Washington, D.C., but I ended up staying because, A, I got a job, and B, I found my wife. I went to Haiti and met with my wife-to-be, brought her to Toms River where I was living at the time, we ended up having a child and from that point we moved to South Toms River in 2006. Mr. Champagne ran and won a seat on the borough council in 2008. Early last year, just prior to beginning his campaign for the mayoral spot, the earthquake struck the Haitian capital of Portau-Prince and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, including Mr. Champagne’s sister, Karine. The earthquake took everybody by surprise. January 12, 2010. It was a Tuesday if my memory serves me well, and it was about 4:53 in the afternoon. I was, at that time – I was thinking about my little sister because I’m pretty much the one who was overseeing her needs. She’s my stepsister, but nevertheless, my sister, and so that day, when I heard about the earthquake, I immediately tried to contact her, and I did my very
best to reach out to everybody else who knows her and knows her whereabouts, and nobody could give me an answer. The next day, I looked at my phone and I saw a missed call, and it had her name on it, but because I was so hopeful that everything was fine with her, I thought that it was a call from her after the fact, but in actuality was the day of the earthquake, that morning, that she tried to reach out to me. I did not have the chance to speak to her that morning, which I will forever regret, but I spoke to her the Saturday before the earthquake, and that was the last conversation we had. Certainly, there was more than one person who passed. We later learned that there were an astronomical number of people, a record number of people who died in that one millisecond. The number that first came out was that 300,000 human souls had passed. The government later decreased it to 220,000, but still it’s a lot of loss in one particular earthquake. I always say that earthquakes do not necessarily kill people in that magnitude. It is the housing: the way they have been built and the lack of code enforcement, coupled with ill-guided economic policies that have forced the people to leave their land, their agri-business, and to swarm and saturate Port-auPrince to work in factories and sweatshops. After a number of years [of this], you have a staggering number of people in a city that was built for 100,000 people now housing 2 million. That’s the earthquake. Was it the rapid industrialization of this country that led to such issues? Precisely, that’s precisely what it was, and there was an exorbitant amount of importing of staple foods that we produce and that we used to export ourselves. Those items that would come in, for instance rice, when they would come to us in Haiti, the price would be debased compared to the local market price. Obviously, if you have a bag of rice that costs about $5 from the town, local rice, and then you have another that is important, and costs about $2, the natural instinct of any person is to buy the cheapest possible food, especially if the other person is poor and lives on, for instance, a $2 per day income. After a period of time, there was no demand on
the local rice, and with the influx of those factories, those sweatshops, these contributed to the massive coming of migration of Haitians from the outskirts of the country and into Port-au-Prince, creating that scenario where we have close to about 220,000 people die in one spot. [These economic policies] were put in place in the last 30 years, a couple of years before Baby Doc was ousted [Jean-Claude Duvalier, or “Baby Doc” succeeded his father as president of Haiti from 1971 until a popular uprising overthrew his government in 1986]. It did not originate in Haiti, but of course the leaders from Haiti capitulated and went along with the plan. That’s why the ultimate blame would have to be placed on them to some extent, because they agreed to implement those policies. With the first anniversary of the earthquake just passed, how do you feel today and how has this affected your interest in helping Haiti rebuild? First, in order to answer that question, I have to preface it with this statement. We have had a lot of support from the United States, people from New Jersey and even our own town who have contributed or made donations, and I am very grateful to see this outpouring of support from our town, from people within the United States and from the world, but my problem is that those hard-earned monies of these good-hearted people have not really been put in good use so far. There has been a lot of red tape in terms of releasing the money for their intended use. I feel the good thing that has come out of this is the fact that the world is being made a witness to the level of poverty that has plagued Haiti, and the emergent need that exists in this county. This is a country that used to be the richest colony, the richest nation, really, in the Western Hemisphere, for a long time. It has moved from being the richest to now being the poorest, and it did not happen in a vacuum. Something, a set of events led to that point, and I’m just thankful that now the world can see [it], and I’m hoping that after seeing that, knowing how much money they have contributed, that they will put pressure on those institutions that have received
so much money from well-intended, good-hearted people. That this money, especially in this economy, is being held up in some bank accumulating interest. The justification I’ve heard for not releasing the monies is that there is, quote/unquote, corruption. Well, I would like to know when there will ever not be any case of corruption at all. That means they will never release the money at all. Have you been back to Haiti since the earthquake? Yes, I have. I went there in August with a team to do a feasibility study to see what can be done, to assess the damage and to find out if there was any progress since the earthquake. Eight months later, we noticed that there was practically none, there was still rubble on the street. Only two percent of the rubble was removed, and there were people still under it. We visited the epicenter where the earthquake hit. We actually went to Cape Haitien, which is one of the provinces of Haiti, pretty much to have a full assessment of the damage and what are the needs, and we looked at some properties where we could have prefabricated housing. Of course, the problem is not the ideas, there are a lot of ideas, but it’s the funds to implement those ideas that have stopped us at all tracks. Where do you see the country in five years? Without proper leadership, there will not be any progress, but if we have the right leadership, we will have the right pressure from the international community – not necessarily from the governments, but from the outcry of the people that is supposed to control the governments. Then, I strongly believe that Haiti will be a better Haiti because the future of Haiti is tied with the future of the other third world nations because Haiti is considered the poorest, and if we’re able to change this country around, economically, politically and otherwise, that means it is possible that we can change the condition of other nations that are similarly situated as Haiti, but not necessarily as worse as Haiti. Where do you see your involvement in this in five years? I have always been involved in Haiti in some fashion or an-
other, not just because that’s where I’m from, but because of what I know of the history of this nation. Of all the nations you hear about on this planet, Haiti was the first and only nation that helped the United States fight against the British [Haiti, then a colony of France, had about 750 freemen fight alongside colonial troops in the Siege of Savannah on October 9, 1779. The 14-year old Haitian drummer boy of that battle, Henry Christophe, went on to become an important catalyst in his home country’s fight for independence 25 years later, and was crowned the first king of Haiti as a result]. In the Western Hemisphere, for a long time, there were only two independent nations, the United States and Haiti. Understand the importance of this historical fact. We are not just another nation. We are America’s first ally. I don’t like to put it this way, but this is what it is. Of all nations, of all people, we should have been in a better state than any other place. So, where do I see myself? To make that part of this history known to the world, particularly in the United States, and to bring dignity back into that quote/unquote poor nation, which is really rich historically. And to lend my support, be it politically, or socially, in making this country better known not by its poverty in terms of resources, but by its richness in terms of its culture, and its contribution to not just the United States, but to Latin America. It was the Haitians who sided with Simon Bolivar [a leader of the 19th century Latin America independence movement] and who gave him ammunitions and money so he could free up Latin America. Because of that, most Latin American flags pattern their flags after Haiti’s, with red and blue in the horizontal. And so, there have been a lot of contributions, and I as one who came from that country and am still American at the same time see my mission as being to restrengthen that bond that existed between the United States and Haiti, that way Haiti can become stronger and return to its glorious state that it was before.
Volume 1, Issue 4