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Monmouth County News Briefs, Jan. 4

A Union County man has admitted his role in a conspiracy that targeted Asian and Asian-American homeowners for residential burglaries, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.

Randi Barr, 41, of Union Township, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Evelyn Padin in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property, according to a press release from Sellinger’s office.

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court, from Dec. 2, 2016 to March 20, 2019, Barr and others participated in a conspiracy to burglarize the residences of certain Asian small business owners living in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware of large sums of money, jewelry and other items, and to transport the stolen goods in interstate commerce, including to Barr’s residences in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Sellinger credited FBI Newark’s Transnational Organized Crime Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy, in Newark, with the investigation leading to Barr’s guilty plea. The U.S. Attorney also thanked the  Eatontown, Hazlet, Howell, Jackson, Marlboro, Middletown and Tinton Falls police departments for their assistance.

The charge of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the amount of money involved in the offense, whichever is greater. Sentencing for Barr is scheduled for April 25, according to the press release.

 

Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) reported he has secured $51.37 million for 15 projects in Middlesex and Monmouth counties in a federal spending bill for Fiscal Year 2023.

The projects will help rebuild and repair infrastructure, support public health and educational facilities, invest in scientific research and improve coastal resilience. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill soon, according to a press release from Pallone’s office.

“These projects are a major achievement for my Congressional district and will help rebuild critical infrastructure, promote public health and bolster educational funding in Middlesex and Monmouth counties,” Pallone said.

“These investments will also help create jobs with better pay, make us safer, strengthen our communities and address the climate crisis. I am proud we were able to get these projects across the finish line and look forward to seeing President Biden sign the underlying legislation into law.”

The 15 projects include:

• $500,000 for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Monmouth County to support school-age children who have experienced trauma and abuse in their homes;

• $640,000 to educate entrepreneurs from underserved communities in central New Jersey at Monmouth University;

• $2.5 million for coastal resiliency projects in the communities around Naval Weapons Station Earle;

• $26 million to dredge both the entrance of the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers at Sandy Hook as well as the Navesink River to Red Bank and the Shrewsbury River as far as the Branchport Avenue Bridge in Long Branch – a total of 14 miles.

 

The New Jersey Department of Education announced it has approved $29.65 million in funding to help 42 school districts that are experiencing a reduction in state aid or are otherwise facing a budgetary imbalance.

Funding for the Stabilization Aid was made available through a $30 million line item in Gov. Phil Murphy’s Fiscal Year 2023 state budget, according to a press release.

In Monmouth County, the Eatontown School District will receive $282,180 in stabilization aid, the Freehold Regional High School District will receive $786,600 in stabilization aid, the Manalapan-Englishtown Regional School District will receive $636,4000 in stabilization aid, the Marlboro School District will receive $2.14 million in stabilization aid, the Middletown School District will receive $1.97 million in stabilization aid and the Monmouth Regional High School District will receive $610,000 in stabilization aid, according to the press release.

“The department always strives to work closely with districts to ensure schools receive the funding necessary for the needs of their students,” said Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, acting commissioner of education. “This Stabilization Aid is an example of that partnership with school districts and I applaud Gov. Murphy for providing this additional layer of immediate support.”

The department prioritized applications based on equipment, supplies, technology and furniture; purchase of school buses and other transportation costs; textbooks, if not requested and funded in Fiscal 2022 Stabilization Aid; and one-time security costs. The department also included two additional priority categories, according to the press release.

This is the second year Murphy’s annual budget has included Stabilization Aid, which is designed to support districts that saw a reduction in state aid due to the passage of a 2018 bill. That bill established a seven-year phase-in to full funding of school districts to eliminate years of state aid inequities that overfunded some school districts while failing to keep pace with the fiscal needs of other growing districts, according to the press release.

School districts that applied for the Fiscal Year 2023 Stabilization Aid were required to demonstrate how they plan to fund operations in future years when supplemental state aid is not available. Districts that received Stabilization Aid funding in Fiscal Year 2022 were also required to describe how they implemented their Fiscal Year 2022 stabilization plan and how they will navigate the remainder of the phase-in of the law without the need for additional funding, according to the press release.

 

Brookdale Community College, ARC of Monmouth County and Voyagers’ Community School have announced a free, pre-vocational program that offers adult students, ages 18 to 24, who have intellectual disabilities a classroom learning experience in life, consumer and employment skills, self-advocacy, healthy habits, financial literacy and the innovative use of technology.

This grant award was funded through the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education through the County College-based Center for Adult Transition Program, according to a press release.

The Achievement Zone Plus (TAZ) will begin in late January and will prepare students to pursue their goals, clarify their plans and take the next step as adults. Program offerings will focus on career readiness and job coaching through mini-lessons and group projects targeting various job skills. Each student will consider the milestones to fruitful employment, according to the press release.

Meeting at Brookdale Community College, participants will join in activities and experiences that strengthen and increase soft and career skills; self- and career-awareness; understanding of practical steps in preparing for employment; and vocational awareness and readiness.

Participants will acquire specific employment and job-specific skills. Those interested as a potential participant or as a professional representing a potential participant in the TAZ Plus program may complete an inquiry form or email nkane@brookdalecc.edu.

 

Adult use of marijuana is now legal in New Jersey and employers are required to address this issue from a workplace perspective. New Jersey business leaders who are interested in maintaining a safe, healthy and drug-free workplace are invited to participate in the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey’s (PDFNJ) free webinar, “The Challenges of Addressing Marijuana and Measuring Impairment in the New Jersey Workplace,” at 11 a.m. Feb. 9.

The webinar, hosted by PDFNJ’s workplace prevention program, Drugs Don’t Work in NJ, will examine the legal and legislative developments regarding the use of marijuana in New Jersey, measuring impairment, drug testing and how to revise drug-free workplace policy and procedures, according to a press release.

Representatives from small, mid-sized and large businesses, human resource managers, compliance and safety experts, government and union representatives, and not-for-profit executives are invited to attend. Register at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/4316644734621/WN_09LU9fKKTXuAyv4XmeutUA

For additional information, contact Bill Lillis at 862-253-6808.

 

The Monmouth County Board of County Commissioners has announced the inaugural Monmouth County Travel Guide Cover Photo Contest, which is open now through Feb. 1.

“The winning photo of the Monmouth County Travel Guide Cover Photo Contest will be featured on the cover of the guide that is requested worldwide. Additionally, it will be showcased in future marketing efforts with the photographer’s spotlight placed in the official travel guide. The runners-up will have their photos published in the guide,” Commissioner Director Thomas A. Arnone said. “We can’t wait to see all of the amazing photos of our county.”

For the contest, photo orientation preference is vertical; if horizontal, the image must be at least 3,000 pixels tall; photo should not exceed 10 MB; photo must be submitted in JPG format; photo must not have any watermarks.

“We invite everyone to grab a camera and capture a photo that shows how Monmouth County is one of the best tourism destinations in the world,” Arnone said. “Everyone who would like to help select the winning photo, make sure to visit the Monmouth County Tourism social media pages on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to vote for your favorite.”

Individuals submitting a photo must be 18 years of age or older and those under 18 will need parental consent; multiple entries are encouraged; photos must be submitted via the website submission form and include all required contact information; photos must be taken in Monmouth County; Monmouth County Tourism will select the finalists; the runners-up will receive placement in the travel guide with photo credit; the contest will be open until Feb. 1. To learn more, go to tourism.visitmonmouth.com or contact tourism@visitmonmouth.com.

 

The latest newsletter of Legal Services of New Jersey (LSNJ) centers on available assistance for health insurance coverage for children and help for food stamp recipients.

The bilingual publication, “Looking Out For Your Legal Rights,” may be viewed online at www.lsnjlaw.org, according to a press release.

The newsletter offers pieces on additional subjects, including protection against water and utility shut-offs.

Beginning in January and depending upon a family’s income, the state will provide health insurance coverage for all residents under the age of 19, including immigrants.

Starting in January, adults with children in their care are advised to go online at www.njfamilycare.org and click the red star on the home page to begin the application process. Information also is available by calling the LSNJ free legal hotline at 1-888-576-5519.

The children’s program covers a wide range of child health issues, including medical visits, dental exams and vaccinations, among others.

Another article in the newsletter deals with the Low-Income Home Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP), which will pay some or all of a resident’s water and sewer bill arrears – up to $2,500 each for sewer and water bills. Applicants may contact LIHWAP by calling 800-510-3102.

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