Thursday, February 28, 2013

Country Kettle Fudge and Chowda open in Bay Village, LBI

A couple of Bay Village’s best-loved shops opened for production during Presidents Day weekend, for the first time since Superstorm Sandy flooded the waterfront villa on Long Beach Island. Country Kettle Fudge and Country Kettle Chowda, owned and operated by the family of John Maschal, who designed and built the marketplace in downtown Beach Haven in 1965, are the first two of the area’s nearly 20 different shops to re-open since the storm. Both suffered damage from 4½ feet of floodwater.

Photo by Jack Reynolds
Country Kettle Fudge, located in the Bay
Village section of Beach Haven on LBI,
re-opened for business in February, after
suffering damage from Superstorm Sandy.
But “business is as usual,” said son John Bell Maschal, manager of the two shops and a co-owner of Bay Village.
Country Kettle Fudge and Country Kettle Chowda, open only on weekends for now, have been busy serving up sweet treats and hot soup to customers, old and new. Many local homeowners who traveled to the area to check on their houses and partake in the local events that were held in observance of the holiday, stopped in for a quick bite. A turkey dinner hosted every year by the Beach Haven Volunteer Fire Company and the re-opening of the arcade at Fantasy Island helped draw patrons to the shops.
“It was a very busy weekend, and people were very excited we were open,” said Maschal.
A few plaques made by Maschal’s wife, Missy, have been hung on the walls to indicate how high the floodwater rose in the buildings. The signs have received a lot of attention from the public.
“Everyone wanted to know where the waterline was at. There are still a lot of places that we haven’t scrubbed it off yet,” Maschal said.
After the storm hit, the shops’ holiday orders were processed at Country Kettle Fudge’s shop in Surf City, which is not usually open for business during the off-season. Fortunately, the store did not see any damage from Sandy and was able to help keep business afloat.
Photo by Jack Reynolds
Country Kettle Chowda on LBI
re-opened just 24 hours before
the President's Day Weekend
festivities began.
Country Kettle Fudge in Beach Haven received the all clear from the health department seven days before opening. Country Kettle Chowda passed the health inspection on Friday, Feb. 15, just one day before the Presidents Day festivities commenced.
“It was nip-and-tuck there. We were cutting up things while the health department was walking through,” Maschal said with a laugh. “It was a tough week,” he emphasized.
Maschal and the rest of his family also helped Bay Village’s other tenants make repairs to their stores. Indian Summer and Song of the Sea should open next, Maschal claimed. Breezin’ Up is also on its way. Two vacant shops are being considered for rent.
“We got all the (electrical) outlets changed and Sheetrock repaired, and now the tenants are taking over and starting to paint,” he said.
Although Maschal said he could not predict what this summer’s business would look like, he said Bay Village has received tons of support via email and Facebook.
“The best way to help us is to patronize us,” he said.
Country Kettle Fudge and Country Kettle Chowda will include Friday and Monday hours in mid-March. The shops will open daily in May.

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

LBI Garden Club receives state grant for damages brought on by Superstorm Sandy

The Garden Club of Long Beach Island has been awarded a community gardens grant for the restoration of gardens damaged by Superstorm Sandy from the Garden Club of New Jersey Inc. via the N.J. Department of Agriculture. The $1,000 donation will go toward the restoration of the Edith Duff Gwinn Garden, featured on the premises of the Barnegat Light Museum, and the Beach Haven Public Library garden. The club’s members help maintain both of the local Edens throughout the year.
Photo by Ryan Morrill
The Edith Duff Gwinn Garden, located in
Barnegat Light on LBI, will be restored from
damages brought by Superstorm Sandy.

The gardens, which are open to the public and available for viewing throughout the year, were spared from any major damage. However, some of the club’s members expressed concern for the long-term condition of the flora.

“A lot of the flowerbeds (in the Edith Duff Gwinn Garden) had debris in them, and some of the trees got knocked down,” said Beverly Reitinger, president of the club. “We don’t know about the perennials yet because they haven’t come up yet, but a lot of the flowers have been damaged. We really don’t know what’s going to happen with all the plants coming back because of all the saltwater damage. That’s why I applied for the grant,” she added.

A few of the knocked-down cedar trees are leaning against electrical wires. Reitinger said the club would probably have to hire professionals to have them properly removed.

“A big one fell on an electrical line, and then three or four smaller ones fell against that tree, and that big tree is holding them all up,” explained Betty Frey, co-chairwoman of the club. “We had lots of needles and tips of evergreens strewn about, too. The rushing water ripped a lot of plants right out.”

Displaced from their monthly meeting space at the Terrace United Methodist Church in Beach Haven Terrace, which suffered damage from Superstorm Sandy, the garden club’s members have been welcomed at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church in Beach Haven. They were also invited to host their December holiday party at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences in Loveladies.

The group expects to be back at its usual meeting place by April. Reitinger said all of the club’s belongings stored at the church made it through the storm.

“Several of our ladies are in hotels because their homes have been ruined and they’re rebuilding, but we’re still meeting once a month, and everybody’s helping everybody,” said Reitinger. “The people around here are very generous. Everybody down here has been so kind to all the organizations.”

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Upcoming annual 'Celebrate Irish Arts' festival on LBI

The fourth annual “Celebrate Irish Arts” festival, presented by members of Amergael and the Long Beach Island branch of the Ocean County Library, will be held at the Maris Stella Retreat and Conference Center in Harvey Cedars, on Saturday, March 2 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. This year’s theme focuses on the traditional Irish culture, as well as the many different interpretations of the devastating effects of Superstorm Sandy on the local area. Guest artists will include members of the Pine Shores Art Association and Southern Regional High School’s advanced-level art students.

Photo via Amergael
The 'Celebrate Irish Arts' Festival on
LBI explores the Irish culture with
talented artists, including talented
bagpipers and Celtic harpists.
“We do it as an outreach to bring authentic Irish arts to the local community,” said Amergael President Bernadette Callanan, who emigrated from Galway, Ireland to New York City when she was just 7 years old. “We like to do it in the beginning of March because it sort of sets the tone for St. Patrick’s Day, which is March 17.
“Everybody celebrates St. Patrick’s Day differently. In Ireland, it’s a holy day, as well as a celebration of the Irish heritage. In the United States, it’s considered a celebration of your Irish heritage and Irish culture. As you get closer to St. Patrick’s Day, there’s more parades that people want to go to. So this way, you start out the month of March with a great ‘Celebrate Irish Arts’ day,” she explained.
Festival-goers may explore a wide range of Irish music, dance and literary works, which will be offered inside the conference center. Participants will also be invited to peruse the art exhibit in the nearby bayside chapel, which will include a plethora of themed artwork in many different mediums from acrylic and watercolor paintings to photography.
The art exhibit will also be available for viewing during normal hours of operation at the Long Beach Island branch of the Ocean County Library, located in Surf City, from Monday, March 4 to Sunday, March 24.
In collaboration with the Friends of the Island Library, Amergael will be hosting a presentation on Ireland’s national composer, Tourlough O’Carolan, led by Ship Bottom residents Jim Curley and Celtic harpist Rosemary Sprouls. The event will take place at the Long Beach Island library branch on Wednesday, March 13 at 10 a.m.
Amergael will also partner with the Beach Haven Public Library on Thursday, March 14 for a special “Tears From a Stone” presentation, led by Jim Curley, which will explore the story of the Irish who were lost on the Titanic.
Admission to the programs is free. Monetary donations, which support Amergael’s charitable contributions to local food pantries and student scholarships, are welcome.

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

2013 Relay for Life of Manahawkin won't stay overnight

Nearly 70 people showed up for the Southern Ocean American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life kickoff party on Wednesday, Feb. 13 – the perfect date for the group’s 13th annual theme: Lucky 13.

Committee members, dressed in superstition-themed costumes, including a black cat, presented a light-hearted skit at the beginning of the event, which took place at the Holiday Inn, located on Route 72 in Manahawkin. Elisheva Chamblin, the group’s co-chairwoman and a 20-year breast cancer survivor, wore her pajamas inside-out while she read a poem she had written specifically for the performance.
About 20 teams, consisting of both first-year and former participants, signed up that night to take part in the Relay for Life, which generally takes place every year overnight at the Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin. This year’s relay will take place on Friday, May 31, from 3 p.m. to midnight only.
“This year, because of budget problems, we’re not going to do it overnight. So we tried to accommodate things,” said Chamblin. “We’re not going to have tents. Instead of decorating them and getting spirit points, we’re going to ask every team to make a banner with their theme. All the survivors will judge the best banner,” she explained.
This year’s survivor dinner will take place at 5 p.m. The opening ceremony will begin at 7 p.m., and the luminaria observance will take place at 9 p.m. The closing “fight back” ceremony will commence at 11 p.m.
Participants are asked to RSVP for the affair with the American Cancer Society at, where information also is available.
Team captain meetings will be held prior to the event in the library of SRHS at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays, March 19, April 16 and May 14.

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

NJ's 9th district delegation wants increased NFIP subsidies

Upset with and appalled by the federal government’s slow response to Superstorm Sandy and the inconsistency of national assistance provided to its victims in comparison with Hurricane Katrina, state Sen. Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove (R-9th) are urging Congress and President Barack Obama to increase subsidies for premiums paid for flood insurance via the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program.

Photo via Google
NJ's 9th district delegation is urging the federal
government to increase subsidies for premiums
paid for flood insurance through FEMA's NFIP.
Through the introduction of a legislative concurrent resolution (ACR-181), Connors, Rumpf and Gove have asked that the federal government present suitable aid to Sandy’s victims who have been negatively impacted by FEMA’s flood map policies.
“It is extremely disappointing that, just as residents are finally feeling some sense of normality in their lives, they now find themselves being subjected to harsh FEMA regulations that could ultimately prove so costly that many homeowners will no longer be able to afford to live in their homes,” the statement said.
“Setting aside for a moment that the federal government waited months to provide an aid package to our area, when action was taken only 10 days following Katrina, residents attempting to rebuild following Super Storm Sandy must do so under different standards that are more complicated and expensive compared to those in place with previous similar disasters,” it continued.
The resolution points at the government-mandated Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. Riddled with more-stringent enactments, it extended the NFIP through 2017.
The letter also reminded its audience that the state’s taxpayer dollars have been used to provide aid to other areas in the country that have been afflicted by natural disasters such as hurricanes, flooding and tornadoes. It reinforced the severity of Superstorm Sandy, which has been referred to as “an event that only occurs once in a one hundred year span.”
“Consistent with core American values, New Jersey has always been there as a generous and caring neighbor when other parts of our country were in need following devastating events,” the letter noted. “Now, in the rare circumstance when New Jersey needs assistance, the federal government wants to operate under a different set of rules that have the detrimental effect of substantially increasing the cost of living for state residents struggling to rebuild seeing their communities and homes devastated by an unprecedented Super Storm.”
The correspondence continued to press for homeowners’ premiums to be based on the regulations that were in place when their homes were first built.

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

LBI entrepreneur awards Viavo skincare to 2013 Oscar nominees

Brant Beach resident and Viavo skincare owner Stacey Maggio is to fly out to Beverly Hills, Calif., this week to get ready to present her avocado oil body and bath product line to the 2013 Oscar nominees. She will be giving away a full-size, lavender rose-scented body lotion, made with avocado oil from Southern California, which retails for $20, to each of the 91 awards nominees at the 2013 Academy Awards gift lounge on Friday, Feb. 22 and Saturday, Feb. 23. The special event will ensue just two days before the 85th Academy Awards ceremony takes place at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills.

Photo by Jack Reynolds
Viavo skincare owner Stacey Maggio prepares
her products for shipment to California where
she will offer samples to Oscar nominees.
Maggio was invited to the chic affair after GBK Productions, a Los Angeles- and New York-based marketing and special events company, spotted her at the 2012 Daytime Entertainment Emmy Awards – her first major break since she started her business in 2006. As part of the deal, she is assigned to a photographer who will be at the event to capture photographs of the celebrities holding her lotion product. She is hoping to receive a celebrity endorsement she can share on her website and social media outlets, including Facebook and Twitter.
“Right before the event begins, we’ll be given a cheat sheet so we know what celebrities are coming in at what time,” said Maggio. “Product endorsements happen all the time because the celebrities know what these types of events are for. Since men are not traditionally my customer, I would like to get somebody like Bradley Cooper or Ben Affleck,” she added.
Maggio said she is all set to go for the big event. Her products and 7-foot traditional popup banner, made by Typestries Sign & Digital in Manahawkin, printed with the Viavo name and a special QR reader for event-goers to easily connect with her website, were shipped to California last week. She is also prepared with business cards that offer recipients 50 percent off their next shopping order, a coupon known as a “bounce-back” to her website.
“Now I’m really set up to do all the big events. I have the right tools, where before I just had my business cards,” said Maggio. “Now I have a Paypal swiper; I can take cards on the fly if someone wants to buy it on my iPad. I’m really excited about that. I have some elements that make me seem like more of a traveling solopreneur instead of like an arts-and-crafts kind of person, which is how you start. Everybody starts at the flea market,” she added.
If Maggio receives a big enough response from attending the Oscars, she said she would consider taking her products to New York Fashion Week in December.
A 22-ounce, mint-scented Viavo sugar scrub made with organic ingredients, which retails for $40, will also be included in GBK’s Oscars Pinterest contest, led by hair guru Jose Eber. Pinners who repin an image featuring everything included in the Oscars grab bag with the hashtag #GBKOscarsGiftLounge will be entered to win one of the fancy gift bags. The contest will start Sunday, Feb. 24 and end Friday, March 1.
Maggio is also hosting her own special Facebook contest, which allows people to guess the winners of selected Oscars categories. Those who guess correctly will be given something only those who attend the awards ceremony could obtain. To participate in the challenge, visit
Photo by Jack Reynolds
A display of Maggio's appearance at the 2012
Daytime Entertainment Emmy Awards hangs
proudly in her living room wall. My article, on
the right, made the board!
The local entrepreneur was also invited to showcase her product at the 70th Golden Globe Awards in January. However, she had decided to skip the event because it was so soon after the onslaught of Superstorm Sandy. During that time she had wanted to be a part of the community’s recovery and also be there for her parents, whose home in Harvey Cedars sustained 4 feet of floodwater damage.
“Water seeped into their garage, where I keep all my product inventory,” Maggio recalled. “Luckily, they had very minimal damage. My product was okay; it was just soggy boxes.”
Although Maggio said, “I basically spent my advertising budget for the year on these events right now,” she did mention other exciting future events. Unable to discuss those dealings, she said people will just have to stay tuned in.

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Wholesale flooring warehouse opens to public near LBI

In the midst of recovery from Superstorm Sandy, a new carpeting and flooring warehouse has sprung to life in the Village Harbour Plaza, located on Route 72 in the Beach Haven West section of Stafford Township. All Floors Flooring Outlet and Supplies opened for business last week, but its establishment has been “in the works” for quite some time.

Co-owners Greg Mile and Dominick Nardo operate American Flooring, which deals with contractors, a few miles down the road on Bay Avenue in Manahawkin. The two decided to expand their busy services in the flooring industry by opening another store that is available to the public.
Photo by Jack Reynolds
In the midst of recovery from Superstorm Sandy,
All Floors Flooring Outlet and Supplies 
near LBI
 opened up to the public. 
Now, anyone can purchase carpeting and flooring at the wholesale price, a discount that is usually offered only to contractors. The store’s prices are typically 25 percent less than what major retailers charge, Mile noted.
“We service all the builders, architects (and) real estate agents all the way from Monmouth County down to Cape May,” said Mile. “So we just decided to open up a place where they could send their customers, and the people could actually buy the stock right off the floor. We let people come in and buy like builders buy, so we buy everything in truckloads. As a consumer, they’re getting the same purchase power as a local builder who I do 200 houses a year with. That’s what makes it such a good deal for everybody,” he added.
All Floors specializes in wide-plank wood flooring and carries some of the biggest names in the business, including US Floors, Bruce, Mullican and Mirage hardwood flooring; Quick-step, Formica and Mannington laminates; and Mohawk and Shaw carpeting. A range of superior, quality tiles is imported from Italy and Spain, as well as through local Daltile distributors that offer ceramic, porcelain, glass and stone tiles.
“Everything we buy is proven, first-quality flooring, as opposed to home centers and Internet liquidators and chain stores,” Mile emphasized.
Supplies for installation are also available at the location’s 10,000-square-foot warehouse.
All of the store’s products can be purchased with the help of on-staff industry experts.
“The key is, we have very knowledgeable salespeople here,” Mile mentioned. “Other than our junior sales people, who are in training, everybody that works here has been in the business for an excess of 10 years. There’s always a supervisor or senior flooring salesperson on staff.”
For additional information about All Floors Flooring Outlet and Supplies, call 609-549-3146.

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Chamber officials say Sandy has not dampened LBI's spirit

The Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce building, located in Ship Bottom on Long Beach Island, may have suffered from water damage during Superstorm Sandy, but the staff’s positive outlook on local tourism during the upcoming seasons has not been dampened. Chamber officials recognize that the summertime might materialize differently and that they will have to manage expectations, but they are not anticipating anything less than a triumphant year.

Photo by Jack Reynolds
Southern Ocean County Chamber officials
Kelly Randazzo and Lori Pepenella are
optimistic about LBI's 2013 tourism season.
“I think that people are going to be pleasantly surprised, and it’ll be a successful season,” said Kelly Randazzo, the chamber’s membership and events coordinator. “When something like this happens, the community does tend to pull together. People want to be part of the solution, and I don’t think you can keep people from the beach,” she added with a chuckle.
Randazzo also said business connections have actually increased since the storm.
In the midst of the area’s popular Chocolate Week, complete with sweet indulgences, real estate open houses, special dinners and the grand re-opening of the Fantasy Island arcade, the chamber is already gearing up for the Wedding Road Show, set for Sunday, April 21. The self-guided tour is designed to showcase the unique wedding experience that exists on LBI. Registration for the event usually includes brides from as far away as North Carolina. This year even includes a bride all the way from Washington state.
“You get inspired when you hear how much this area means to people, and that kind of carries you because you know it’s very important,” said Lori Pepenella, director of the chamber’s destination marketing organization. “It’s a part of people’s hearts, and you want to make sure that all these things are accessible to them and that they have a good point of contact that’s going to be able to give them the right resources to help them plan their stay or contact the business that they need to get in touch with. That’s what we’re basically here to do, and help the businesses, too,” she added.
The staff is also excited to present its traditional beach opening and wine festival in May during Memorial Day weekend, which will expand this year to incorporate the second annual “Cruisin’ For a Cure” event, a motorcycle and classic car run that benefits David’s Dream and Believe Cancer Foundation. The official summer kickoff celebration, dubbed Soar, Pour and Roar, will offer an abundance of fun activities throughout the weekend, including live entertainment by Ted Hammock and Jason Booth, as well as from Sprinkles the Clown, perfect for amusing the kids, and a buffet lunch.
“It brings people down and familiarizes them with the area before the heavy crowds start coming, so they can kind of acclimate themselves to some new places and hopefully keep coming back all year,” said Pepenella.
Pepenella met with New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and the head of the state’s Small Business Administration on Monday, Feb. 11, to discuss the Show Your Love for the Jersey Shore campaign, which she called a “precursor to their multimillion-dollar spring promotion, set to launch in March. She said the chamber would certainly continue to partner with the rest of the shore communities to help spread the word about the area’s readiness for the summertime.
Photo by Jack Reynolds
Information on many of this year's events
on LBI can be found at the Southern Ocean
County Chamber of Commerce building in
Ship Bottom.
A “We are Southern Ocean County Consumer and Family Expo” will take place at the St. Mary’s Parish Center in Manahawkin on Saturday, Feb. 23, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
June will continue to consist of “Art and Leisure” activities, including the Lighthouse International Film Festival and Viking Village’s Jazzy Scallop and Seafood Festival.
The chamber will also celebrate its 25th Chowderfest Weekend. This year’s theme will focus on next year’s Super Bowl, which is set to take place in New Jersey.
“As far as the excitement and the passion that we have here, that’s certainly not going to change,” said Pepenella. “We’re excited now, and it’s just going to get better,” she added with a smile.
For more information about the chamber’s many events, visit, or call 609-494-7211.

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Fantasy Island re-opens arcade on LBI, post-Sandy

Fantasy Island, located on Long Beach Island in downtown Beach Haven, will welcome its customers back to the family casino arcade at its “Grand Re-opening” during Presidents Day weekend. The arcade will open, weather permitting, at noon on Saturday, Feb. 16, and Sunday, Feb. 17, as well as at 10 a.m. on Monday, Feb 18. Closing times will vary.
Photo via Google
Fantasy Island's giant wheel was rumored to
have been swept into the ocean during Hurricane
Sandy. However, the Ferris wheel is reported to
be standing strong.

“This is an exciting time because this is where children go in the summer and during the winter,” said Diane Frey, marketing director at Fantasy Island. “This is where they’re used to going on the weekends and during school breaks, and we’ve been trying really hard to get it open for them.”
The family-friendly game room, which usually stays open for business year ’round, sustained 6 to 10 inches of floodwater from Superstorm Sandy. The staff has been working “around the clock” for the past three months to repair the damages to the walls and carpeting.
“We’ve been working nonstop, six to seven days at times,” Frey emphasized.
All of the arcade games are currently undergoing maintenance checks to make sure they are functioning properly. The staff assured they would be ready for use next weekend.
“We didn’t want to keep anything that may harm people,” said Frey. “We don’t want mold in the air, so everything has been bio-washed and cleaned and ripped out.”
Prizes, fun and games, and possibly a few special guests are planned to make the grand re-opening extra special for the organization’s loyal clientele. The staff has received many inquiries via phone and Facebook from patrons who wanted to support Fantasy Island’s recovery process. The number of people who reached out and offered to help clear out debris or bring food was overwhelming, said Frey.
“The (grand re-opening) is an enormous thank-you to the first responders that made it possible for us to be at this point, but most of all to the children that visit this park,” she noted. “The way that these children are so excited about going to this arcade, it’s what they consider part of their childhood memories growing up on this Island during the wintertime. We miss them; we’re anxious to see them,” she added with a happy chuckle.
Fantasy Island’s outside park will open as scheduled, beginning Saturday, May 18. The park will be open on weekends throughout the month. Rides will resume daily activity in June. So far, no issues with the rides have been reported.
“There are no damages to the rides that we’re aware of. We’re making sure at this point that we’re taking all of the motors apart (and) that everything is as it should be,” said Frey.
The giant wheel, which was rumored to have been washed away into the ocean during the storm, was tested last week. No problems were noted.
“The Ferris wheel is running beautifully. It’s standing strong,” said Frey.
For more information, visit or call 609-492-4000.

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Public adjusters claim spotlight during Sandy recovery

Many shore town residents and business owners have recently learned the hard way that dealing with insurance companies can be quite a hassle, especially after a major natural disaster such as Superstorm Sandy.

According to Andy Anderson, an insurance agent and co-principal at Anderson Insurance Agency, located in Manahawkin and Haven Beach, nearly 85 percent of the area’s homeowners’ insurance claims have been settled. However, only about 30 percent of the area’s flood claims have been paid out. Although he expects the rest of the area’s flood claims to be settled within the next three to five weeks, he said residents are still understandably frustrated.
Photo by Ryan Morrill
"I live on Long Beach Island; my family
comes here," said James Wagner, a licensed
public adjuster and owner of Alliance 
Adjustment Group. "I'm very much concerned
about the welfare of the Island."
When the storm first hit the area more than three months ago, Anderson said, insurance companies were so overwhelmed by claims that they simply did not have enough in-house insurance adjusters to take on the additional labor. Independent adjusters contracted by insurance companies to take on some of the extra work were few and far between, as well.
“Unfortunately, the number of adjusters that are certified in relation to the number of (recent) claims is quite small,” said Anderson. “We believe that there were only about 3,000 to 3,500 (certified) adjusters available to take care of all of the flood claims.”
Immediately after the storm, the state issued emergency licenses to public adjusters who are not currently licensed in New Jersey. James Wagner, a New Jersey-licensed public adjuster and owner of Alliance Adjustment Group, headquartered in Doylestown, Pa., with a satellite office in Ship Bottom, said the Island was inundated with public adjustment companies from out of the area, as far away as Florida.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of risk involved with dealing with unlicensed, out-of-state adjusters whom you do not know,” Wagner expressed.
Many of the on-call adjusters needed a place to stay, which was another major issue since housing itself was scarce. Residents in need of repairs often waited four to six weeks before they were able to meet with any type of adjuster. Some are still waiting.
Those in need of assistance in navigating their insurance claims have found extra help from local, licensed public adjusters. Their expertise has been highly recognized ever since the rigmarole of picking up the pieces after Sandy became too taxing a burden for some to endure.
Jennifer Calandra, owner of Sweet Scoops Ice Cream Shoppe in Beach Haven Crest, hired Wagner as a  public adjuster to help her and her family manage the damages suffered to the infrastructure, where they also share their home.
“Trying to sort out three different insurance claims is like trying to do electrical work in your house if you’re not an electrician. We’ve paid our insurance for 25 years and have never had to file a claim. I don’t know anything about insurance,” said Calandra. “So many people are struggling with insurance companies right now. Once I gave Jim (Wagner) my insurance policies, I haven’t had to do a thing. He took it over from there, and honestly, it’s been going pretty well,” she added.
Calandra, who is also a real estate agent at BayShore Agency, said she is glad she chose a local public adjuster opposed to the many out-of-state adjusters who offered their business cards while she and her husband were working on their residence.
“I’m happy to say what a great job Alliance Adjustment is doing – one, because I’m a local; two, I’m a business owner; and three, I’m a Realtor on the Island. If Jim wasn’t doing a good job, I wouldn’t put my name behind his company,” Calandra noted. “If someone hasn’t had an adjuster and this is getting far above their head, I think they should reach out to Jim or some public adjuster to help them because they have a lot of answers that we just don’t know.”
Though Anderson said, “You shouldn’t need a public adjuster to get a fair settlement out of an insurance company,” he agreed they do relieve some stress.
Public adjusters are employed by insurance policyholders to help them appraise damages and negotiate their claims, thereby reducing the amount of hours and stress that often accompanies such a task.
“Simply put, my job is to attempt to get the maximum settlement possible for my clients so they can get their repairs completed in a timely manner.” said Stephen Fayer, a New Jersey-licensed public adjuster from Loss Adjustment Inc., located in Chalfont, Pa. “That’s the bottom line.”
Photo courtesy of Stephen Fayer
New Jersey-licensed public adjuster Stephen
Fayer said his role takes the personal bit
out of dealing with insurance companies.
“We are an advocate for the insured, and we fight on their behalf to ensure that they are paid everything that they are entitled to under the policy, and that quite often is significantly more than they are being offered by the insurance company,” added Wagner.
Wagner said he has been averaging 100 calls a week from LBI and surrounding community residents who are looking for help dealing with Sandy-related  insurance claims. The calls have increased as some people have begun to encounter standstills with their respective insurance companies, he added.
As a resident of Haven Beach and an owner of a family-run business in Ship Bottom that suffered from 4 feet of floodwater damage from the storm, Wagner said he personally knows what kind of devastation Sandy’s victims have undergone.
“I never thought I’d have to drive over sand dunes normally to handle claims, but we’ve done that quite a bit during this storm event,” he said with a laugh, while leaning on the hood of his gigantic Hummer.
As experts in the insurance industry, Wagner said, licensed public adjusters know what kind of state-specific entitlements policyholders are warranted, such as continuous painting and matching materials.
Public adjusters help take the heartache out of the insurance claims process by meeting with the policyholders’ insurance agents to determine the cause of damages, which Wagner referred to as “the tricky part.” Oftentimes, the insurance adjusters disagree on the source of damages, such as cracks in drywall, and what party is responsible for them, he stated.
“We’re not going to have an agreement at all most of the time, so we have to keep pushing back,” said Fayer.
Hiring experts such as engineers, contractors, industrial hygienists and other specialists to assess the damages and support the claims can also be handled by a  public adjuster.
“When they use us, it takes the personal bit out of it because I’m dealing with the other side as a negotiator, and I don’t have any emotional ties involved in the claim itself,” said Fayer. “A lot of the owners take it personal (and) get in arguments with these guys. I don’t do that,” he added.
“The adjuster that comes out for the insurance company, his interest is in the insurance company,” Wagner emphasized. “Insurance companies are in business to make a profit. That’s the reality; that’s what all businesses are in business for. So when they’re looking at the damage, while their client is the homeowner, that guy or girl is working for the insurance company. They’re driving the insurance company car, and talking on the insurance company phone, and they have the insurance company 401K. They’re clearly going to be protecting the interest of the carrier. I’m not saying that in a bad way. That’s just their obligation,” he explained.
Many public adjusters are paid on contingency, which means their clients are not required to pay them unless the homeowner receive funds from their insurance companies. Fees vary, but usually range between 5 percent and 15 percent.
Public adjusters cannot provide any compensation for repairs that are not covered under the clients’ policy. Managing client expectations, therefore, can be difficult, said Wagner.
Individuals who no longer have a mortgage on their home or business and have dropped their flood insurance policies, yet suffered from a significant amount of flood damage during the storm, are not entitled to any of the benefits of flood insurance policies. In such a case, public adjusters can only recommend other types of relief through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other financial aid programs.
Photo courtesy of Andy Anderson
Andy Anderson works, an insurance agent
and co-principal at AIA, said working with
public adjusters can help relieve some stress.
In some cases, people who do not think they have insurance actually do, as mortgage companies often force insurance policies on owners, sometimes unknown to the owners, and charge the fee through the mortgage payment. Public adjusters can help clients decipher whether or not that is the case.
Public adjusters can also help clients obtain an attorney in cases where a lawsuit against the insurance company is recommended.
“When an insured is told by their insurance company that they’re either not entitled to anything – and that happens a lot – or if they receive a very low payment, and they hire us, and we’re able to get them money sufficient enough to do their repairs, that’s a good feeling. That makes us happy; it makes the client happy. That’s what it’s all about,” said Wagner.

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Restore Our Shore awards LBI environmental group $1,500

Alliance for a Living Ocean recently received a $1,500 grant from Restore Our Shore, a volunteer-led organization dedicated to helping charitable groups “restore, rebuild and recover” from Superstorm Sandy, to aid the nonprofit organization’s post-Sandy cleanup events on Long Beach Island and in surrounding communities. The environmental cleanings have been ongoing since the end of November. The grant will go toward funding the events’ necessary supplies such as bags, gloves and other equipment.

Photo by Jack Reynolds
ALO members and volunteers have been
meeting at Bayview Park in Brant Beach
to continue their environmental cleanups.
Chris Huch, ALO’s executive director, said the local organization is “incredibly thankful for Restore Our Shore providing us with this wonderful grant opportunity,” which will help the group continue its mission during the area’s recovery process.
“Any donations or grants that come our way are incredibly beneficial to making sure that we can continue our work,” he noted.
ALO’s environmental cleanups are currently being held every other Saturday. They will continue well into the spring season and possibly during the summer months, as the organization expects debris from tide changes, currents, ice floes and small-scale storms to continue appearing on the Island and nearby marshlands.
“When you think about the way things really need to look and what level of trash is acceptable on our beaches and in our environment, we think that no level of trash is really acceptable, and all of it should be cleaned up. So we’ll be out there making sure that takes place,” said Huch.
This past weekend, ALO’s volunteers found an “impressive” amount of debris in some of the areas that had not yet been cleaned, such as at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences and its surrounding marshes in Loveladies, as well at the Newell Avenue marsh, located on the south side of Beach Haven West. Even with a substantial number of volunteers, the group was unable to finish cleaning the areas, as there is “so much work that needs to be done still,” said Huch.
As the spring season crops up, Melissa Klepacki, founder of Restore Our Shore, said the newly conceived organization would begin to focus on giving its donor-received funds to nonprofits dedicated to the area’s current environmental concerns. Cleaning up beaches, marshlands and other areas where animal species usually return to nest is one major priority.
“The ecological impact of having animals not returning over time is pretty severe. I think people forget about those kinds of impacts that the hurricane has,” Klepacki noted.
Restore Our Shore is comprised of 11 team members, including Bill Schofield, former president and CEO of the United Way in Bucks County, Pa., where he helped provide relief to the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina. The organization’s members are committed to the area’s recovery process and are using their expertise in social media, public relations, community outreach, art and technology, as well as accounting and charitable giving, to aid coastal communities with their rebuilding efforts. Alongside the Joshua Harr Shane Foundation, the Princeton-based organization has helped raise more than $45,000. The group hopes to raise $150,000 by Memorial Day.
Photo via Restore Our Shore
The Princeton-based start up, generated out of 

a statewide need following Superstorm Sandy, 
hopes to raise $150,000 by Memorial Day.
Charitable organizations seeking grants to help facilitate their missions during the recovery process are encouraged to apply for funds via Applications are reviewed every other week, and grants are awarded on a bi-monthly basis. Many community-wide events have helped raise funds for the group’s efforts.
“We’re not interested in giving someone $5,000 to put into their general fund. We’re really looking for specific ways that we can help that gives our donors something to be proud of, because most of our donors are at the $5, $10, $20, $25 level. They really want to know where their money is going,” Klepacki mentioned. “We’re able to accurately report exactly what it’s being used for, and (we’re) hoping to go back to these same donors and say, ‘Look at these great things we did with your $10. Would you consider giving another $10?’”
Restore the Shore is awarding grants between $1,000 and $5,000. The organization’s largest donation thus far was $4,300, which was given to the Antrim Elementary School in Point Pleasant Beach, to help with its playground floor restoration project. Klepacki said grants are being awarded judiciously, based on the amount of money they receive from donors, as well as the recipients’ specific needs. Donations have been given to many local charities in need, including schools, food pantries, shelters, first aid squads and churches.
Restore Our Shore’s donation to ALO was the first in Southern Ocean County, though Klepacki said she expects to receive more applications from charitable organizations in the southern part of the county.
Huch anticipates the grant will help move ALO’s cleanups along much more quickly, thus making the organization’s recovery at its Ship Bottom location, which suffered from 3½ feet of floodwater and severe mold damage, more timely.
Although the state has plans to remove larger debris such as remote pieces of lumber and decking that require more manpower to move, as well as some sand dredging in the bay waters that is needed to ensure the areas are deep enough for swimming and seining, ALO anticipates it will not be able to hold some of its earliest programs in the summer at Bayview Park in Brant Beach and the bay beach in Ship Bottom, which will affect the impact of donations the group relies on.
“It’s going to be up to a lot of community members to really step up and really make an impact in a lot of these areas if we want to be ready by the summer,” said Huch.

This article was published in The SandPaper.