Letters and Commentary

April 12, 2013
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Help For Sandy’s Emotional Impact Is Available

To the Editor:

It’s hard to believe how quickly time has gone by since Super Storm Sandy devastated many of our New Jersey communities, damaging homes and businesses and wreaking widespread havoc on the lives of Garden State families in its path. In the wake of Sandy’s destruction, we also saw the character of our New Jersey communities. Our people stood up in remarkable ways to help each other, to stabilize our state, and to take care of each other – because it’s what New Jerseyans do.

The extensive physical damage from the rare super storm was immediately evident, with storm-beaten homes, buildings and scattered debris featured extensively in national and international media. Less evident, but no less important and significant, was the emotional impact and distress that such a traumatic event can create.

So we’ve been standing up to help our families, friends, neighbors and colleagues as they deal with the significant emotional toll resulting from the storm.

During the super storm and its initial aftermath, crisis counselors certified by the Disaster and Terrorism Branch (DTB) of the Department of Human Services’ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services rushed to shelters and hard-hit communities to provide immediate emotional support for thousands of our neighbors who evacuated from or lost their homes.

Under the New Jersey Hope and Healing program – a joint effort of DTB and the Mental Health Association of New Jersey – crisis counselors continue to help survivors develop coping skills and tools to build their resilience. Every day, crisis teams canvas affected communities and are dispatched to serve people who are struggling to resume their daily routines and lives. To date, nearly 100,000 residents have received these free counseling services by fellow New Jerseyans who’ve had extensive training.

For more information about New Jersey Hope and Healing, call 1-888-294-HELP (4357), TTY: 1-888-294-4356 from 8 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.

I hope residents take full advantage of resources like New Jersey Hope and Healing to support their emotional health as we continue to rebuild and recover from Sandy.

Jennifer Velez
New Jersey Department of Human Services

Dance Studio Helps Monmouth Beach School Recover

To the Editor:

I was saddened to hear that Monmouth Elementary Beach School, where I fondly remember attending school as a child, had more than 3 feet of water in its classrooms as a result of Super Storm Sandy. Sandy’s floodwaters devastated the building, books, supplies and, more importantly, the hearts of its children. My family and Kick Dance Studios’ students wanted to help the school with a fundraiser that raised funds for essential school supplies, but also lifted its families and faculty’s spirits with music and dance.

Letter: Middletown's Ideal Beach Supports Beach Sweeps

So, Kick Dance Studios hosted “Kick for a Cause” for two sold-out performances on Sunday, March 10, at the Two River Theater in Red Bank. A donation of $10,000 from the event’s ticket sales was donated to the Monmouth Beach Elemen­tary School PTO to purchase books, supplies and school equipment damaged in Super Storm Sandy.

More than 150 boys and girls, ages 5-17, from the Kick Dance Studios showcased their talented moves during a variety of ballet, tap, hip-hop, contemporary and Broadway-style dance performances. The show-stopping action was followed by a special showing of big screen cartoons created by the young producers of the Emmy-Winning Small Factory Productions Studio of Fair Haven.

Throughout the day, Monmouth Beach Elementary School students sold concessions to raise additional funds for the school restoration.

Approximately 310 children from Monmouth Beach Elementary School remain displaced by Super Storm Sandy and attend classes at host schools.

Vanessa Berry
Owner, Kick Dance Studios
Fair Haven and Rumson


Thank You for Making 2012 a Great Year for Conservation Foundation

To the Editor:

For the past 36 years, the Monmouth Conservation Foundation (MCF) has done outstanding work in preserving open space and farmland in Monmouth County, one of the most densely populated counties in New Jersey. As successful as MCF has been in the past, 2012 was an especially impactful year. Partnering with public and private agencies, MCF preserved over 2,000 acres.

MCF’s first 2012 preservation closing was the 22-acre Hauser Farm, Aberdeen. Located within the headwaters of the Matawan Creek, a tributary to the Raritan Bay, this farm exists in its natural state consisting of wetlands and uplands, rich with wildlife. Owned and managed by Aberdeen Township, the property now becomes a passive recreational park with hiking trails, picnic and bird-watching areas. MCF partnered with the Trust for Public Land, Monmouth County, the NJDEP Green Acres, the New York/New Jersey Baykeeper and the NJ Department of Natural Resources to acquire this land.

In August, MCF assisted in bringing to fruition Monmouth County’s largest joint preservation project, a $28 million transaction taking six years to complete. Flemer Entities, located predominately in Upper Freehold Township, ran an impressive 1,900-acre nursery under the name “Princeton Nurseries.” The huge tract was one of the nation’s largest commercial nurseries. The state holds the development rights to 847 acres of the property, ensuring that future generations will continue farming this land forever. Over 1,000 acres will be preserved as open space and wildlife areas. Five hundred acres connect existing Monmouth and Mercer County Park Systems lands and greenways along the Crosswicks Creek. These additions will eventually provide trails for hiking, horseback riding and bicycle riding. The remaining acreage will become a state wildlife management area. This remarkable project would not have been possible without the commitment of the Flemer family, NJDEP Green Acres, the Monmouth County Park System, the State Agriculture Development Committee, the Monmouth County Agriculture Development Board, Upper Freehold Township and Burlington and Mercer Counties, all uniting with a collective commitment.

The Spirit of Shrewsbury

The following month saw the preservation of the Gimbel Farm, Middletown. MCF joined State Agriculture Development Com­mittee and the Monmouth County Agri­cultural Development Board for this project, consisting of a 35-acre agricultural easement as well as a 6-acre conservation easement donated by the Gimbel family. Not only is the Gimbel tract valuable to the farm community, but it also falls within the MCF’s Navesink Highlands Greenway project area. This stretches from the shores of Atlantic Highlands to the inlets of the Navesink River and the farm landscapes of the Chapel Hill section of Middletown Township.

In October, MCF assisted with the acquisition of the 7.5-acre historic Baird Farm­stead, Millstone. The house and grounds, dating back to 1836, are now permanently preserved and utilized as a cultural resource and activity center. The historic farmstead, now owned by Millstone Township, will showcase historic items formerly displayed at the Rutgers Museum of Agriculture. Project partners include Millstone Township and Monmouth County.

MCF finished the year by assisting Monmouth County with the purchase of the Sacco Farm, a 55-acre tract in Upper Freehold. The parcel is surrounded by the Crosswicks Creek Greenway and becomes a wonderful addition to the Monmouth County Park System.

These notable accomplishments encompassed a variety of different land preservation methods and partners. Each piece of land preserved helps protect the quality of life for present and future generations, significantly shaping the future of our beautiful county. These achievements, which would not have occurred without your support, set a challenging precedent which we plan to surpass.

Thank you for helping Monmouth Con­servation Foundation make land preservation an actuality and for enabling MCF to preserve the open space throughout Monmouth County we all treasure.

Bill Kastning
Executive Director
Monmouth Conservation Foundation



Two River Moment


Go Red Bank Catholic! These six lovely young women are members of the RBC cheerleading squad of 1949. We don’t have their names but we’re sure someone recognizes them,

perhaps even a grandchild.

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