Friday, July 29, 2016

Surf City’s beach replenishment ‘looks great’

Beach replenishment in Surf City is complete. The North Beach-northern Surf City portion of the project work, performed by Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co., started about two weeks ago.
“It looks great,” said Councilman Peter Hartney. He reported the work was finished Monday night.
Photo via Surf City Police
Surf City's 21st through 25th street
beaches are now open to the public.
Surf City’s beaches were partially replenished during the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state Department of Environmental Protection’s original project in 2006. The blocks between 12th and 22nd streets were also repaired after the nor’easter in 2009. After Superstorm Sandy, the whole portion was restored. The borough had been waiting for the remaining northern area to be completed after replenishment in neighboring North Beach.
Following the completion of replenishment in Surf City, local officials will now continue advocating for USACE to make repairs to the dunes that were damaged during Winter Storm Jonas in January. While Jonas repair work in the borough and other sections of Long Beach Island following the completion of the overall replenishment project has been approved by USACE, appropriations from Congress for the project are currently in the pipeline.
“So that’s a whole other process. It never ends,” Hartney stated.
The town recently had to fund repairs to the beach entrances between 20th and 13th streets, which were inaccessible due to the severe storm destruction. Hartney took a tour of the beach with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s public works director in June in hopes of getting reimbursement for the repairs. The town is still waiting to find out if it will be able to recoup those costs through FEMA’s Public Assistance grant program offered to state and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations that needed emergency work due to Jonas.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Celebrating 40 years, Thundering Surf Waterpark readies to expand again

Photo by Ryan Morrill
Swimmers get drenched by a giant
bucket in the Kiddie Play Structure.
When husband and wife Chris and Julie Mesanko opened Thundering Surf Waterpark on Long Beach Island in 1977, there were no real plans to grow the Beach Haven business outside its four slides, which were all made of concrete. But 40 summers later, New Jersey’s first-ever waterpark is still in existence, and it’s continuing to expand.
“The year we started I just thought it was the coolest thing to be in the amusement business, and, honestly, it gave me an opportunity to go surfing because I could open for 100 days, make my money, pack it up, and then I could go to Hawaii and surf for the next 200 days,” said Chris Mesanko, who was inducted into the World Waterpark Association Hall of Fame this past October. “I never thought anything beyond the water slide. There wasn’t anything to think of, honestly. It grew.”
Construction will begin this fall on a new, giant racer speed slide.
“It’s head-first. It’s really cool,” Mesanko said.
An activity area with a pool and cabanas for adults to sit and cool off is also being constructed.
“If you’re an adult and your kids are on a water slide, you don’t want to just sit there. Now I’m going to give them a place to go,” said Mesanko, who has pioneered many of the industry’s standard attractions of today.
The park’s 36-hole, multilevel, adventure miniature golf course, which is 28 years old, will also be revamped. Mesanko had originally seen the design at the International Association of Amusement Parks’ annual show in Orlando, Fla. The adventure golf course at Thundering Surf was the first in New Jersey and one of the first in the world.
“The waterpark industry has grown incrementally with somebody coming up with a bright idea and then everybody in the world quickly does it because you need variety,” said Mesanko, adding that he always meets with the original architect of each of his park’s additions.
Next summer, Thundering Surf’s park passes will include three-hour or all-day options, rather than the current two- or three-hour options.
Photo by Ryan Morrill
A young boy enjoys a slippery ride down
one of the park's winding water slides.
“I want to give people more time here,” Mesanko stated, noting prices may increase slightly.
“We’ve held the same price since (Superstorm) Sandy because we wanted to do the right thing and not jack it up based on everybody’s misery, because everybody’s suffering a little bit,” he remarked.
Mesanko has been honored by the WWA for his imaginative, revolutionary technology and concentration on innovation as well as for bringing many firsts to the industry, including play structures and the Lazy Crazy River featuring interactives in and out of the river.
Fresh out of college at 22 years old, Mesanko first saw the now-defunct Water Boggan water slide in Myrtle Beach, S.C., while traveling along the East Coast as a representative of Lightning Bolt Surf Co., originally started by world-famous surfer Gerry Lopez.
“I saw it and I thought, ‘Wow, that thing is amazing,’” Mesanko remembered. “It was at the end of the summer, and it was just packed. There was a line around the block.”
Photo by Ryan Morrill
Kids wait for their turn on the Flow Rider.
The following year, Mesanko saw two water slides in Myrtle Beach as well as one in Wrightsville Beach, N.C., and another in Virginia Beach. It was then, he said, he knew this was something he needed to bring to his home state.
“I immediately say, after seeing the fourth one, ‘Oh my God, this is going to be a trend. This is what I got to do,’” Mesanko recalled. “It was a crazy, crazy, crazy success. Right from the second I opened the door it was crazy.
“Those other four slides that came before me, they’re out of business now. That makes me the oldest guy in the business, continuously, in the world,” he added. “To be around for 40 years is special. I’m proud of it because there’s not many businesses that last 40 years.”
Julie Mesanko, who decided not to pursue a career as a health and physical education teacher to instead focus on the seasonal waterpark business, said she “can’t believe it’s been that many years.”
“It’s allowed us to travel, if we could, whereas if I was a teacher, I really couldn’t do that,” she said. “I’m involved every summer pretty much 100 percent. It’s been quite an adventure watching it grow. It’s pretty exciting that it’s been that long. Time flies.”
The same year they opened Thundering Surf, the Mesankos opened Rainbow Rapids Waterpark, which also included four concrete flume slides, in Chris’s hometown of Seaside Heights. But while the Seaside Heights waterpark closed in 1990, Thundering Surf kept growing.
By that time, Thundering Surf’s concrete slides had just been torn down and rebuilt at the back of the property out of fiberglass, which became available in the late ’80s. The park’s mini golf course, along with an ice cream shop that later included other food, was built in the slides’ former place.
“It was a clean demolition of the property,” Chris Mesanko said, noting the fiberglass slides were a priority since people often hurt themselves on the concrete. At that time, there were no regulations since it was a brand-new ride, he noted, adding that, thankfully, no one ever sued the park.
“Every day maybe 10 people (got hurt on the concrete slides). It was crazy; it was so dangerous,” said Mesanko. “Nobody ever saw a water slide in New Jersey. Nobody looked at my drawings. I just built it. People would bang their eyes on the concrete, and they’d get stitches. They’d bang their teeth and break them out. (The water slides were) painted, so it would chip and go under their toenails. Everybody had scraped elbows. It was a mess.”
During the following years the park continued to expand. Two slides were added as well as a kiddie play structure, which was redone this past winter. The children’s area includes nine slides with interactive water play activities and three giant tipping buckets. The structure arrived in March from Guadalajara, Mexico, and installation took place until the season opened on June 18.
Batting cages – which were quickly taken out because Mesanko “wanted it to be a waterpark” – as well as a toddler area, Lazy Crazy River and a Flow House were also built. The $1.5 million Flow House attraction was designed a few years ago by Dan Sprague of Stafford Township, the park’s overall manager.
“In this business you have to change and keep adding. You have to grow,” said Mesanko.
The Mesankos, who have been together for 50 years, plan to continue running the park with their two kids, Brooke, 36, and Devin, 33, who are general managers there, though Chris Mesanko noted his son plans to pursue a career as a doctor. Both Brooke and Devin have worked at the park since they were 14 years old.
“They were born into it,” Mesanko stated. “They were playing at the water slide as babies. It was a natural kind of thing. We sell fun; that’s what we’re selling. It’s pretty hard not to like the fun.
“I’m 64 and I’m just as enthusiastic as the first day, and I love the business,” he added. “I have no thoughts of retiring. I’ll be here as long as I’m having fun and am able to, as is my wife. It’s not work when you enjoy what you’re doing. I could see myself doing it for at least 15 more years, God willing.”
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Former Cafe Aletta owners open 414 Seafood and Chop House, continue serving Italian fare at Market

LBI diners looking to indulge in a nice, big, crusty steak have to look no further than 414 Seafood and Chop House in Surf City. The new restaurant, which has taken over the site of the former Cafe Aletta Italian eatery on Long Beach Boulevard, uses a high-intense broiler that cooks at about 950 degrees, caramelizing the steaks from the top down. Most of the steaks and chops are served bone-in, from the 28-ounce ribeye to the twin 8-ounce T-bone lamb chops.
Photo via Google
414 is one of the only restaurants in
Surf City that offers outdoor seating.
“I don’t think there’s any other place on the Island to go get a nice, beautiful steak,” said Ricky Brennen, who co-owns the restaurant with local chef Greg Mann. “We thought the Island could use a great, little chophouse with fresh seafood.”
Other steaks and chops offered at 414 include an 18-ounce New York strip steak, double-cut pork chop with garlic herb butter, 12-ounce filet mignon at $48, and steak-frites with a 10-ounce flat iron and parmesan pomme frites.
The seafood menu ranges from coriander-crusted tuna with sautéed spinach, tobacco onions and lemongrass ginger demi glaze to Barnegat Light day boat scallops with summer vegetables, sweet potato hay and beet chive vinaigrette as well as grilled swordfish with spinach, roasted tomato, kalamata olives, feta and preserved lemon, and Jail Island salmon with braised fennel and fresh dill cream sauce. Jumbo shrimp, baked clam, lump crab cake at $21, oysters, New England clam chowder and mussels are also available as appetizers.
“If you want seafood, I think we have some of the best seafood to offer,” Brennen said.
Though many of the area’s foodies enjoyed the Italian fare at Cafe Aletta, Brennen and Mann, who owned and operated the restaurant for eight years before closing it after last season, said they wanted to revamp the menu and try something different.
“You can go to several places and get good Italian,” Brennen stated. “It seems like every year there’s less and less commercial property down here, so if it’s flooded with Italian food, we just felt that, in our eyes, a chophouse would be on the money here.”
Customers will be happy to know that a few of Cafe Aletta’s popular dishes have been kept on the menu, including the bone-in chicken parmesan and bone-in veal parmesan as well as the eggplant and fresh mozzarella salad with beefsteak tomato, arugula, basil and balsamic glaze.
Photo via Market
The owners also operate Market, a casual,
Italian bistro down the street from 414.
Patrons craving more of the former cafe’s Italian specialties can head over to Market, Brennen and Mann’s other restaurant located just a block away from 414. Market opened last summer offering breakfast, produce and fresh juicing. But this year the owners brought in a brick-oven for casual dining such as pizzas and paninis, to revamp the eatery into a beachside Italian bistro.
“The Market was more of a market, but we realized we’re not really grocers,” said Brennen. “We like food, so this year we changed Market’s identity a bit.”
People can stop by wearing a T-shirt and flip-flops, grab a seat at the high-top, communal tables and chow down on a hot sandwich, pasta, shellfish or various homemade salads for lunch or dinner.
“By moving the food down here, we didn’t lose it,” stated Brennen. “People still like it. They get upset when they pull up and Cafe Aletta’s not there anymore, and then you tell them that it’s here and they come in and buy the pre-made sauces and meatballs that we make homemade that were at Cafe Aletta. So it’s still living. People think that it’s gone, but the talent’s still here.”
“It’s family-friendly,” he added. “Go with your kids, grab a pizza and pastas, slurp down some clams. It’s casual, grab-and-go, or you can eat-in, chill out.”
Local delivery is also available as well as customized catering for customers who want help planning a lunch or dinner.
“The glory of it is Greg can make anything,” said Brennen, noting “anything anyone wants” can be provided with proper notice.
Mann, who runs the kitchen at both eateries, also owns and operates Yellow Fin restaurant in town. He started learning the chef business in New York City restaurants owned by Robert DeNiro and then worked at many other types of eateries, including Italian, French and Asian food restaurants.
“I like Italian products,” said Mann, who uses caputo flour imported from Italy, which he considers the finest in the world. “I like making pizzas; I enjoy it. It’s fun because you get to see them cook right in here. I’ve been at Yellow Fin for 20 years, so it’s been a long time since I’ve worked anywhere else.”
The goal is to serve quality food and build a successful brand, Brennen said, noting he’d like to set up a mainstay restaurant up north with a full staff on hand year ’round so it’s easier to function during summers at the shore.
“Our passion is food. We like it, we like the business,” stated Brennen. “You don’t come down here just to stay for one year. It’s a lot of money, a lot of time invested. It’s a lot of sacrifice away from your family. So you come down here, and you try to bang out the season and make it last as long as you can. Mother Nature controls that. It wasn’t a very good June, weather-wise. It felt like it was winter in June. So we hope for a good September. September and October can be great months.”
414 is open seven days a week from 5 to 10 p.m. Market is open every day from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. For more information, visit and, or call 609-467-7436 or 609-494-3400.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Multi-agency rescue drill in Beach Haven helps responders better prepare for beach incidents

Beach Haven emergency personnel joined forces last week for a multi-agency drill to familiarize members of the local police department, fire company and first aid squad with the procedures of responding to a beach incident. The rescue drill, which was the first of its kind in town, took place early in the evening at the Centre Street beach Wednesday, July 20.
Photo via Beach Haven Beach Patrol
Borough emergency personnel perform a mock
sand collapse rescue on the Centre Street beach.
The police department, which is in charge of patrolling the beaches at night after the lifeguards have left for the day, has six class one officers who have been cross-trained by the beach patrol in water safety and rescue.
“The drill was to refresh the skills that our class ones have been taught during their training,” said Sgt. Tom Medel, noting that the officers fortunately haven’t had to make any such rescues. “It goes without saying that if there should be a water emergency, they would be the first ones on scene to access the situation, go in the water and to effect the rescue.”
Although beach patrol most likely would not respond to a rescue after-hours, the fire company’s water rescue team would, he added.
“It is important for agencies to be able to practice together so that when the real thing happens it takes the guesswork out of what should happen next and puts more focus on the emergency at hand,” stated Medel, who helped organize the drill.
During the three-hour instruction, members of the fire company and first aid squad had to leave to respond to calls, though they returned afterward to continue with the training.
Beach Patrol Chief Mike Lawrence shared information on how to rescue an individual from a sand collapse, which he thought was pertinent considering the unfortunate happenings that have occurred in other places, said Medel, noting it’s “a matter of time” before such an incident takes place in town. All three agencies performed hands-on training at the beach, including how to safely dig out a victim.
Other firsthand training included spinal immobilization for neck and back injuries since recent beach replenishment has created an amplified risk of such injuries due to a change in wave breaks. Beach patrol personnel educated police on in-water cervical-spine stabilization and how to bring a victim to safety.
“The lifeguards demonstrated the skills to the police on each other, and then they played live victims for the officers to practice on,” said Medel.
Procedures and best practices were also taught in case officers have to make a water rescue. Medel explained that one officer would handle communication and observation while another officer would go into the water to stabilize the victim, keeping him or her afloat until the fire company showed up, launched its Jet Ski and retrieved the victim.
“Once again the lifeguards acting as the victims entered the water to be rescued,” said Medel. “The officers swam out to them, stabilized the victims, and the fire company Jet Ski operated by Deputy Chief (Ted) Johnson and rescue swimmer Capt. Matt MacCrea scooped the victims out of the water and transported them back to safety.”
Medel said the emergency personnel trained “very well” collectively and were enthusiastic about learning from one another. The agencies have decided to continue practicing these types of drills.
“This being the first of this type of drill, it went exceptionally well,” he concluded.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Smoking banned at Long Beach Island beaches, parks

Gov. Chris Christie recently agreed to extend the provisions of the “New Jersey Smoke Free Air Act,” adopted in 2005 to ban smoking at indoor public places and workplaces, to also prohibit smoking at state-owned parks and beaches. He did not, however, agree to extend the law to include parks and beaches within the jurisdiction of local governments.
Photo via Brigantine Now
Lighting up on LBI's beaches may result
in fines and a required court appearance.
New Jersey has 39 state parks and forests, including Barnegat Lighthouse State Park in Barnegat Light and Island Beach State Park, across the bay from the Barnegat Lighthouse.
While Christie said he “abhors” smoking, he believes banning the act at county- and community-run parks and beaches should be decided upon at the local level “in their own ways,” the governor stated in his conditional veto message.
Christie’s agreement, though, is a marked compromise. Two years ago he entirely vetoed a similar bill. At that time, the governor noted that a dozen of the state’s counties and more than 200 of the state’s 565 municipalities had banned smoking at their parks and beaches. Since then, nearly 100 more towns have adopted related laws.
Surf City Councilman Peter Hartney said the borough supports Christie’s conditional veto since the bill would have implemented additional costs to the town, from requiring signs at all park and beach entrances to delineating 15 percent of the beach as a smoking area as well as facing fines if the provisions of the law were not enforced.
“In terms of a bill, it doesn’t have an internal logic to it. There’s lots of problems with it,” Hartney stated.
Smoking is prohibited in Surf City at the bay bathing beach as well as at the children’s playground at South First Street and Barnegat Avenue. The no-smoking ordinance was adopted by the town council in 2012. Fines for infractions average $100 with a required court appearance, including a $33 court fee.
Long Beach Island’s other five municipalities also have smoking bans at their parks and/or beaches.
Beach Haven adopted an ordinance in May to ban smoking on all borough beaches, including within 15 feet of the beach access pathways, as well as in any recreational or park area or borough-owned property. First offense violations include a fine of up to $50 or no more than two days of community service; a second offense is punishable by a fine of not more than $100 or community service of not less than five days; and a third offense within the same calendar year includes a fine of not less than $200 or community service of not less than 10 days, or any combination of fine and community service as determined by the municipal court judge.
Smoking is prohibited on any beach or resort area in Barnegat Light during the summer, from May 1 through Sept. 30 of each year. The ban was implemented last summer after the town received complaints from the public regarding secondhand smoke and cigarette butt litter. Violators issued a police summons are required to make a court appearance, where the judge would set the fine.
Smoking on any of Long Beach Township’s beaches, as well as at Bayview Park in Brant Beach, is prohibited from May 20 to Oct. 1 of every year, though smoking within the park’s playground area is barred at all times. Anyone in violation of the smoking ban, adopted in 2014, is liable to receive a fine of up to $1,000.
In Harvey Cedars, smoking is prohibited on all beaches between the swimming flags during hours when lifeguards are on duty. Smoking is banned year ’round at Sunset Park, excluding designated parking areas. Anyone caught lighting up in these prohibited areas may receive a minimum fine of $50.
Smoking is banned on all of Ship Bottom’s beaches between the surfside flags during on-duty lifeguard hours. Smoking is banned at all times at the playground areas of Waterfront Park, located at 10th Street and Shore Avenue, and the bay bathing beach between 15th and 16th streets. Any infractions may result in a fine of up to $100.
Both Harvey Cedars’ and Ship Bottom’s no-smoking laws went into effect in 2013.
If the bill had been approved as introduced, the Democratic-controlled state Legislature would have banned cigarette, cigar, pipe and electronic device smoking in any state park or forest, county or municipal park, or state or municipal beach. Anyone caught breaking the law would be required to pay a fine of not less than $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.
To implement the ban as amended by Christie, both houses of the Legislature would have to consent to the changes and vote on a revised version of the bill.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Ocean County Animal Facilities plan to participate in next year’s ‘Clear the Shelters’ event after successful first experience

A total of 46 pets were adopted from the Ocean County Animal Facilities during the nationwide “Clear the Shelters” event held July 23. Twenty-three animals were adopted from each of the shelters, including 18 cats and five dogs from the Southern Ocean County Animal Facility in Manahawkin as well as 20 cats and three dogs from the Northern Ocean County Animal Facility in Jackson.
Photo via Patch
During the nationwide event, 23 animals
were adopted from the Manahawkin shelter.
With help from promotional advertising, an additional 80 pets were adopted from those shelters during the three weeks leading up to the event, according to Brian Lippai, shelter manager.
This was the first year the county’s animal facilities joined the national, one-day adoption event, which aims to unite homeless animals with loving new families by waiving adoption fees. A few of the people who came to adopt an animal at the Manahawkin shelter had waited for the event for this purpose, said Dorothy Reynolds, president of The Friends of the Southern Ocean County Animal Shelter, which helped promote the event at the local shelter along with Shelter Saviors and Rescued Friends.
“There are a lot of expenses to getting a pet by the time you get all the necessary supplies, the dishes and leashes or bowls and cat litter. So this way they could put that money towards the other needs,” Reynolds stated, noting many people generously donated funds and also dropped off much-needed blankets and towels. Wet and dry cat and dog food is always needed and can be dropped off anytime, she added.
During the event, Friends volunteers offered free giveaways and provided water since it was a hot day while members of Shelter Saviors helped adopters get acquainted with the available animals.
“Many people that didn’t find their new best friend said they will be back in the coming weeks and will tell all their friends about our wonderful facility and awesome pets,” said Lippai, who noted the county will be participating in next year’s event since it “greatly reduced the number of pets” in the facilities and was “incredibly valuable” in promoting both of the shelters.
“Since the event we are already getting close to full capacity again,” he said.
Reynolds noted that more people should be getting their pets from shelters and not from a pet shop or breeder.
“People don’t realize that every time they purchase a pet from a pet shop or breeder it means that a pet in the shelter did not get a home,” she stated. “So it was good to see shelters promoted, and it seemed like it did very well across the country. Many animals found a home that day that might still be sitting in a shelter otherwise.”
This year’s participating facilities included nearly 700 shelters across the country. Pet adoptions totaled 47,210 for a combined total of 66,895 pet adoptions in 2015 and 2016. Approximately 20,000 pets found new homes during last year’s inaugural event, which included nearly 400 animal shelters in the U.S.
Those who came in to adopt at the Manahawkin shelter seemed “like very responsible and enthusiastic pet owners, which was nice to see,” said Reynolds. “The people that came in were people that really wanted a pet and were looking forward to it. When they brought their pet out, they’d say, ‘Oh, isn’t he or she cute? We can’t wait to get them home.’”
She noted that many of the area’s pet shops also did well that day since most of the adopters bought their new pets toys and supplies.
“I thought it was a very successful event because so many (pets) found homes,” said Reynolds. “The mixture of 18 cats and kittens was a lot to be adopted in one day. Some of the dogs that had been placed in homes had been at the shelter quite a while, so it was very nice to see them going off to a new home.”
Lippai said the shelter is always in need of “dedicated, experienced” dog walkers since some just join on a seasonal basis or have only a limited time to offer their services. Walkers must be at least 21 years old and able to handle big dogs. An orientation program at the Manahawkin shelter is provided by shelter staff and Friends volunteers “so they’re well-trained,” said Reynolds.
“The highlight of every dog’s day in the shelter is getting out for a nice walk,” she said. “If people would just give a couple of hours a month, it would be great. It’s whenever people have the time because the dogs need to go out every day.”
Reynolds also noted that the shelter desperately needs cat fosters, especially baby-bottle feeders.
“They get so many (cats) in, and the shelter gets crowded,” she stated. (The cats) “need to get out into homes where they can have some individual attention, particularly bottle-baby kittens. When kittens are found that are really young, they have to go out to a bottle-baby feeder the day that they’re found because obviously they need to be fed right away.”
For more information about the Manahawkin shelter, call 609-978-0127.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Firefighters suffer from heat exhaustion at Surf City structure fire

Two firefighters from the High Point Volunteer Fire Co. in Harvey Cedars had to be treated for heat exhaustion after responding to a structure fire in Surf City Thursday, July 21. One of the firefighters was transported to Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin for further evaluation. He was released later that evening.
Photo via Surf City Volunteer Fire Co.
Firefighters cut a hole in the roof to make
conditions safer for the firefighters indoors.
Due to the hot weather conditions that day, Surf City Fire Chief Michael Wolfschmidt requested extra manpower and ambulances to the scene. Wolfschmidt was the first to arrive at the residence at North 16th Street and Central Avenue, just after 2:30 p.m., where he witnessed smoke seeping out of the roof of the attached garage.
“When it’s hot outside, we need to constantly rotate our firefighters to provide adequate rehabilitation and hydration,” he stated. “Wearing full firefighting gear and going into a burning building is like being a baked potato in an oven, plus add on 90-plus degree outside temperature and humidity. Firefighters operate in extreme conditions, and it’s my duty as the chief to make sure everyone is safe. So I made sure we had enough help to keep our firefighters as safe as possible.”
Surf City and Ship Bottom firefighters contained the fire to the garage’s attic and kept it from progressing into the house by stationing a hose line in the attic between the fire and interior wall of the attached home, Wolfschmidt explained, noting access to the fire was challenging because of the the plywood construction of the attic floor and an abundance of flammable storage in the attic. Firefighters from High Point and Stafford Township departments then cut a hole in the attic’s roof to air out the extreme inside heat and smoke, which helped make conditions safer for the firefighters indoors.
“All of the crews did an outstanding job, especially given the hot weather conditions,” said Wolfschmidt, adding that one of Surf City’s firefighters, who did not have his pager with him, arrived on scene after he heard the siren, “once again proving the need for our newly replaced fire siren.”
The fire was contained within an hour, and crews stayed on scene to implement overhaul and to check for fire extension. All units had left the scene by 5 p.m.
Wolfschmidt gave a special thank-you to the Ship Bottom Fire Co. Auxiliary and the citizens who stopped by to provide crews with bottles of drinking water.
Beach Haven, Barnegat Light and Forked River fire companies as well as Surf City EMS and Barnegat Light and Beach Haven first aid squads also responded to the scene. Fire companies from Barnegat and Eagleswood townships each sent apparatus to the Surf City and Ship Bottom firehouses in case of other calls.
“I am very proud to say that all agencies worked together extremely well, and they did an outstanding job in successfully saving the home,” Wolfschmidt said.
Michael Marks, deputy fire marshal at the Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, who led the investigation on the source and cause of the fire, deemed it accidental.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Garden Club of LBI raising awareness for monarch butterflies

Photo via LBI Garden Club
Garden Club member Julie Alloway plants
milkweed at the Surf City breeding station.
To help revive the monarch butterfly population that has declined significantly in recent years, the Garden Club of Long Beach Island’s Birds and Wildlife committee, led by Judie Alloway, has installed monarch breeding stations up and down the Island. Two sites are operational so far, including one outside ScoJo’s Restaurant in Surf City and another at the Beach Haven Public Library.
A main contributor to the rapid decline of monarchs, which are the only butterflies known to make a two-way migration just as birds do, is the loss of milkweed due to over-development as well as the widespread use of herbicides. Milkweed leaves are the monarch caterpillars’ sole food source.
The garden club’s new breeding stations are equipped with two types of milkweed that are best suited for the local area: Aslepias incarnate, a pale pink-to-purple variety, and Asclepias tuberosa, which are bright orange.
Monarch butterflies, which cannot survive the cold winters in the north, make an astonishing 3,000-mile migration from the U.S. and Canada to Mexico each year. Although the number of monarchs returning to Mexico this past winter was 3½ times greater than the previous year, “we cannot become complacent,” said Teresa Hagen, a member of the garden club.
“Monarch populations are measured in acres, and while last winter’s population covered 10 acres and was a measurable improvement, it is still lower than the 44 acres covered in 1995,” she stated, adding that in those 20 years, between 1995 and 2015, the number of monarchs in the eastern U.S. decreased by more than 90 percent.
The monarch migration, which many people believe is one of the most magnificent natural wonders of the world, is in danger of vanishing.
“There is something we can do, and this spring the garden club did it,” Hagen said.
Educational information to inform the public about the importance of planting milkweed, which types are best for LBI and what to look for once the monarch has laid her eggs has been provided by the garden club and can be found at ScoJo’s and the library.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Surf City’s fire siren sounds again

Photo by Ryan Morrill
The new siren is bolted into place at the station.
The Surf City Volunteer Fire Co. and EMS siren is back in action after being out of commission for about five months. The new siren, which was donated by the Marmora Volunteer Fire Co. in Upper Township, was installed last Thursday with assistance from the Beach Haven and High Point volunteer fire companies and a crew from Alan’s Electric in Manahawkin as well as several Surf City firefighters.
“It was quite a process,” said Michael Wolfschmidt, Surf City fire chief.
The group worked off the platform of Beach Haven’s tower truck to cut off the base of the old siren, which was “extremely rusted,” he stated. High Point’s ladder truck was then used to lift the old siren to the ground and raise the new one, which was bolted into place and rewired.
Wolfschmidt gave “a big thank you” to Adam and Amos of Alan’s Electric, who “did an outstanding job.”
The siren, made by Federal Signal, which is the same model as Surf City’s former siren, was refurbished by Wolfschmidt’s brother, Andy, who is also a member of the local department. It has been painted a customary red color since red demonstrates “courage and valor” in the fire service, the chief said.
“I am very proud and happy to have the siren back,” Wolfschmidt stated. “It is truly a time-tested method of alerting our volunteers, especially in our unique coastal community. It was a time-consuming project, which involved a lot of hard work from many people. But we did it together with great teamwork. It’s been a busy year so far with many projects to improve the fire company, and I am very proud and thankful for everyone’s hard work and dedication to our organization.”
Public donations for the siren, received after Wolfschmidt made a Facebook post in May about its unexpected demise due to damage from the area’s salt air environment, will be used to offset the cost of hiring an electrician. Wolfschmidt said he didn’t know how much that will cost since he hadn’t yet received the bill. Any money left over will go toward professionally maintaining the siren each year to prolong its use.
Photo by Ryan Morrill
Crews cut off the base of the old siren.
A Surf City resident initially donated $2,500 to help start a siren fund since purchasing a brand-new siren would have cost the department $15,000.
Paul Hoster, president of the Marmora Fire Co., who’s been an active firefighter with the department for 31 years, reached out to Wolfschmidt after reading his post, which was shared by a Washington Township firefighter through the SJFiretalk Facebook page.
“I read Facebook a lot,” Hoster said. “It’s quite a useful medium. We have 2,000 members in SJFiretalk, so there’s a lot of potential people that can find things out and put up for the other people to see.”
The Marmora Fire Co., which serves Beesleys Point, Marmora and a portion of Palermo as well as an 8-mile stretch of the Garden State Parkway, took its three sirens out of service a couple of years ago when they became a maintenance issue.
“We were constantly fixing them,” said Hoster.
“Plus the people always grumbled about them,” he added, noting the members tried not to use the sirens after 10 p.m. “The noon whistle everybody was used to, but it just got to a point with the maintenance on them and so forth that we decided not to bother with them.”
The Marmora Fire Co., which usually has at least 50 active members, uses an Active911 app that shows members where the call is on a map using GPS, “which is a nice feature,” said Hoster. The app also shows how many members are responding so that the chief can have a head count and make decisions on whether he needs additional manpower, he explained.
“We don’t use them (sirens). In our area, our pagers and our cell phones all seem to work pretty well for us,” Hoster said, noting the company used to utilize Plectron scanners, which are basically one-channel receivers that were plugged into a wall at each of the members’ homes. “We just had them sitting there, but we knew the sirens worked when we took them down, so we offered them to Surf City. The company voted unanimously to give it to them. We donated everything we had for it.”
In an effort to be courteous to those who live near the Surf City fire station, Wolfschmidt has decided to decrease the number of cycles when members are notified of a fire call from five to three. However, he said the department is still trying to figure out how to make the electronic adjustment since the individual who set up the original system passed away last year.
“We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding while we learn how to make that change,” said Wolfschmidt.
The Surf City department normally activates the siren, which was last replaced in 2004,­­­­­­ for all fire and rescue calls, though it is not used for emergency medical calls. The siren is vital to the department for assembling firefighters to the station for urgent situations, Wolfschmidt said. Although the fire company also uses electronic paging equipment and a smartphone app to notify members of calls, the gear is not always dependable, he added.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

30th annual mini golf tournament in Surf City is a swinging-good time

Photo via Island Golf
Island Golf is one of the oldest mini golf
courses on Long Beach Island.
Numerous players brought their A-games to the Island Golf Course in Surf City during the borough taxpayer association’s annual Miniature Golf Tournament, on Wednesday, July 13. This is the 30th year the association has hosted the event. Seventy-four scores were submitted to 18 association volunteers, who kept tally during the tournament.
John Ligouri took first place in the 8 and under age group, by posting a 2-under-par 40.
“That is a significant achievement for the youngster,” said Pete Williams, president of the Surf City Taxpayers Association.
Next year’s players should watch out for Julian Thomas when he competes in the senior division next year, said Williams. A Delaware native, Thomas won first and third place in the ages 9 to 15 division by shooting a score of 33.
A three-way tie culminated among Ken Cadmus, Beau Guarino and Ben Skimmons in the ages 16 and over division. They all finished at the top of the leader board with a score of 35 at the end of their rounds. The shootout was won on the second play-off hole when Cadmus ended the match with a hole-in-one.
“The over 16 age group is open to anyone 16 years old and older. We had a woman who competed this year who was over 80,” Williams noted.
The association thanked Surf City Five and 10 for its “generous donation” of prize money as well as the staff at Island Golf for their “outstanding hospitality.”
Another tournament will take place on Aug. 10, at 10 a.m.
A Sand Sculpture Contest, the association’s most popular event, is set for Aug. 3 at the 14th Street beach in Surf City. The event, co-sponsored by Ron Jon Surf Shop, will begin at 10 a.m. Judging will take place from 1 to 2 p.m. All borough ordinances, including beach badge requirements, will be enforced.
For more information, visit
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Surf City exceeds $450,000 in beach revenue earlier than last year

Photo via The SandPaper
The current population of beach-goers is 47,000.
As of July 8, Surf City had accumulated $451,721 in beach revenue, which means the town reached its target 10 days ahead of last year. Revenue from the beaches was projected in the budget at the beginning of the year at $450,000. As of July 12, the total revenue was $462,680, which is $13,974 ahead of 2015. So far, the town has exceeded its anticipated revenue by $12,680. A total of 21,777 badges has been sold this year, which is already 609 more than last year.
“This is all good because we’ve had additional expenses we’ve had to cover on the beach this year to make the beaches accessible after (Winter Storm) Jonas,” Councilman Peter Hartney stated at the borough council’s monthly meeting on Wednesday, July 13.
The town is still waiting to hear back from the Federal Emergency Management Agency about recouping some of those costs.
The borough has received calls from people asking for extensions to the beach entrances at the north end of town, which Mayor Francis Hodgson said the borough will not be implementing since beach replenishment in that area should begin in about two weeks.
“We would be throwing good money away,” Hartney said. “It hasn’t changed from previous years; there was never any hard-pack at those entrances at the north end. For us to put hard-pack down now for two weeks and the (U.S.) Army Corps (of Engineers) to come bury it, that’s not a good idea.”
Surf City has been voted one of the best beaches in Ocean County as part of New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium’s 2016 New Jersey’s Favorite Beach Poll. Hartney thanked public works Superintendent Tom Hudson and his crew as well as the beach patrol for keeping the beaches clean and safe “so people want to come back.”
According to a Surf City Beach Patrol report, the population of beach-goers in town is at 47,000. So far, the lifeguards have made 59 saves due to recent rip currents.
“This is extremely high,” said Councilman James Russell, who noted he would normally expect two or three saves this time of year.
There have also been three first aid responses on the beach.
Due to ongoing concerns from multiple municipalities in the state regarding the need to resolve “nuisance flooding” that has become more frequent and with higher levels of water since Superstorm Sandy, the Army Corps has agreed to take the issue into consideration during an upcoming three-year study, said Councilwoman Jackie Siciliano, who attended a meeting last month with USACE and representatives from other municipalities to discuss ways to improve the communities for category four storms.
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection engineers are expected to survey Surf City to find “some workable solution” regarding the area’s consistent back-bay flooding, though Siciliano noted FEMA is dealing with a money-flow issue.
“We’re in the middle of the pack, so it means that we’re not at the tail end of any dredging projects, but we’re still a year to a year-and-a-half away before seeing that happen,” she said, noting all of the state’s dredging projects have also been affected by the state Department of Transportation’s work stoppage.
In other meeting news, police responded last month to an unresponsive male whom officers revived with the administration of Narcan.
“It’s a sad commentary on where we are these days, but fortunately we have something in the police car to save people,” said Councilman William Hodgson. “Hopefully they’ll save themselves eventually.”
Repairs to cracks on the tennis courts have been completed. Russell said he hopes the people who advocated for the repairs are using the courts.
“I go by them every day, and very seldom do I see anybody down there,” he noted.

— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.