The Courier-News from Bridgewater, New Jersey on September 6, 1996 · Page 13
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The Courier-News from Bridgewater, New Jersey · Page 13

Bridgewater, New Jersey
Issue Date:
Friday, September 6, 1996
Page 13
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TheGoufier-News SOMERSET 221 II1SIDI g?M mm La r"' ' r""i rr ft .' j , r . if . i it: . v THE LONG HAUL What if you could squeeze 20 percent more life out of stuff around the house? Preventive maintenance is the key to making your things last. Lifestyle, B-5 LEGAL CHIEFS Tower critics say meeting is illegal Opponents of a 460-foot tower in Bridgewater wrote to Somerset County officials Thursday to challenge the legality of a meeting to be held next week on the proposal. Attorney Joseph Murray, who represents the Tri-Township Committee for a Beautiful Ridge, claims that a special work session to be held by the freeholders would violate statute statutes and the public's constititional rights. "They're actually receiving testimony after the public hearings and they cannot use that testimony," Murray said. Murray added that barring the public from asking questions at Thursday's 7 p.m. meeting is a violation of due process under the 5th and 14th amendments of the Constitution. Valerie Kellogg Hillsborough sewer plan on DEP agenda 1 HILLSBOROUGH - State officials on Monday will discuss a proposed sewer extension to 756 acres on Mill Lane that would serve as many as 3,000 new homes. The meeting with Department of Environmental Protection officials is sponsored by a citizen group called the Friends of Hillsborough and New Jersey Future, an environmental group. Both organizations oppose construction on the Mill Lane site. U.S. Home Corp. of Houston last week withdrew an application for a 3,000-home senior citizen complex on that site. The site is still zoned for that many homes and the Planning Board has approved a concept plan for the project. The Department of Environmental Protection is now considering plans to extend sewers to ; the site. ,. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at Clover Hill Church on Amwell Road. Prashant Gopal Drive for children's museum set to start . Somerset County residents will hold a kickoff meeting this month on a grassroots effort to build a non-profit children's museum. Plans for the proposal will be presented at 2 p.m. on Sept. 21 at the Somerset County Library on ! North Bridge Street and Vogt Drive in Bridgewater. ; The Children's Museum of Somerset County, which the project ihas been dubbed, would be geared toward children ages 2 to 12. . Call (908) 725-7035 for more information. Valerie Kellogg Library branch to open on Sundays The Somerset CountyBridge-water Library will open on Sunday for the first time in the library's history. The library, on North Bridge Street, will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. The Sunday hours will be in effect from September to May. All sections of the library, including video, circulation, adult reference and the children's department, will be fully staffed, but there will be no phone service on Sundays. Jennifer Bauman TAT!?? For questions or comments, you can e-mail us at or can reach Metro Editor Joe McDonald at (908) 707-3123 r ... ig- I D Testimony by Richard Thornburg lends credence to earlier assertion in the Isaac Wright case. By VALERIE KELLOGG Courier-News Staff Writer Somerset County's former chief of detectives testified Thursday that he overlooked questions on the legality of a 1989 search which led to Isaac Wright's conviction as a drug kingpin. Richard Thornburg's admission backs up testimony earlier this week by a former county narcotics officer, who said he omitted a key piece of evidence in a police report on the search. James Dugan testified Wednesday in Superior Court in Somerville that more than 3 pounds of cocaine had been found before the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office had obtained a search warrant but that Treasure of 1622 to stop on Route 31 By MICHAEL DAIGLE Courier-News Hunterdon Editor RARITAN TOWNSHIP - Part of a $500 million treasure whose loss at sea in 1622 is said to have begun the decline of the Spanish empire will be on display at a local jewelry store later this month. The "Treasure of the Atocha" will make its only New Jersey stop on a 40-city tour at Abe Sherman Fine Jewelers on Route 31. Sherman said Thursday he is the only person displaying the treasure who was also part of a dive team that recovered some of the booty. In 1622, the Spanish galleon Nues-tra Senora de Atocha, was part of a 28-ship armada laden with gold, silver, jewels, spices and other plunder from the New World that had set sail from Havana, Cuba. The ships were overtaken by a hurricane and sank. According to the 2,000-page ship manifest, the Atocha was carrying 47 tons of gold and silver in the form of 1,000 silver bars, 161 gold bars or discs, about 255,000 silver coins and personal gold chains and other items. It also carried emeralds and diamonds when it sank. The treasure was discovered off the Florida Keys by Mel Fisher after a 16-year search across 120,000 linear miles of ocean. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1982 determined that Fisher had full ownership of the treasure. The part of the treasure that is on tour is worth $40 million, a release said. Articles in the collection will be on sale from $35 to $5 million. Sherman said since his dive, he has been reading as much history of the time as he can find. He learned that the Atocha went down only about 35 miles from Key West, and in the shallow water, a good portion of the upper ship remained above water. But a second hurricane broke up Ex-Hillsborough mayor faces arraignment today By PRASHANT GOPAL Courier-News Staff Writer HILLSBOROUGH - Back in 1984, Joe Sullivan was a successful banker and a mayor known for his wit and eternal optimism. Everything seemed to be going right. The Democratic mayor presided over a Township Committee that was controlled by his own party, during a rare break in Republican rule. And four years later, he helped found the Suburban National Bank in town. Somerset County Freeholder Director Peter Biondi's bark is as funny as his bite. Biondi fielded questions Tuesday on the status of a resolution that would support proposed state legislation allowing counties with an open space tax to use the revenues for recreation and maintenance of land acquisitions funded through the tax. County staff prepared the resolution, but a discussion on the item has been stalled. Ruth Berven of Franklin wanted to know why. Berven is opposed to the legislation, feeling that changing the regulations would compromise the intent of the tax. "Have we dropped that?" she Biondi d he failed to include that information in the report. Wright is representing himself at a hearing to determine if he is entitled to a new trial on multiple drug charges. Wright's conviction under New Jersey's drug kingpin law then the first in Somerset County was overturned earlier this year. Thornburg, one of 20 witnesses in the case, testified Thursday that his officers told him that cocaine had been found following Wright's arrest. The drugs were confiscated as evidence from the Passaic home of Roberto Alexander, who was arrested the same day. Wright attempted to make Thornburg admit that the officers, without a search warrant, improperly obtained the drugs as the house was being secured to prevent evidence from being destroyed and suspects from fleeing. 0 Q (f M , M r it 1 d) i$ Y ) CM A lu... mm ti n -irii iri 'fan r I if In In i i i i i i m rn Courier-News photo Pieces of the 'Treasure of the Atocha' will be on display at Abe Sherman Fine Jewelers in Raritan Township. The treasure sank with a Spanish galleon during a hurricane. the ship and "surfboarded" the upper decks and masts across the ocean, spilling gold, jewels, cannons, anchors and other material as it went. On his dive, Sherman said, he saw the ship's anchor. It was about 6 feet long and 6 feet wide, and lying on a coral bed. He said his first thought was that he was one of the first people to see the anchor in nearly 400 years. The last people to do so, he speculated, were clinging for their lives to a ship's mast as they watched their companion ships sink below the waves of a roiling sea. Within 15 months, bank officials reported that profits and assets had soared. But, in the early 1990s, Sullivan's fortunes began to fall. He will be arraigned today in federal court on charges that he and the late Michael Cinelli, a bank president, arranged loans for businesses in which they had financial interests. Sullivan was arrested on Aug. 29 at a motel in East Brunswick, where he was staying with his wife. He told a federal court judge that he is in debt for $3 million. Friends even his closest say ocas ouestion on SOMERSET NOTEBOOK asked. Biondi explained that the freeholders have been on vacation and have been unable to discuss the resolution, which had originally been tabled to allow the board to take a closer took. "You're kind of like that sign up in Maine I saw once that said 'veterinarian-slash-taxidermist,'" Biondi said. "It's like the way you get your dog back. You can't have it both ways." Biondi, over laughter, said, "First Superior Court Judge Leonard Arnold pressed Thornburg further. "The cocaine had been found while securing the premises, right?" Arnold asked. "Yes, that's correct," Thornburg said. "They told me they were getting a search warrant," Thornburg added, saying the officers told him a controlled dangerous substance had been found. "Are you telling me that when you received this information you didn't recognize the significance that ... the evidence might have ... to be suppressed?" Arnold asked later. "Yes, I am well aware of that," Thornburg said. "But you directed none of the officers who reported to you to make that fact known in their reports?" Arnold said. Thornburg, asked the question again, said, "I didn't tell anyone to do See WRIGHT on Page B-3 If you go The treasure of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha will be on display at Abe Sherman Fine Jewelry at the Flemington Department Store on Route 31 , Raritan Township from 1 1 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Sept. 26 and 27; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sept. 28 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 29. For information, call (908) 782-1400. they lost track of Sullivan soon after his resignation from the bank in 1990. About the only person who reports seeing him since then is Flagtown Postmaster Ron Frey. Sullivan regularly checked his Flagtown post office box and made a visit as recently as two weeks ago, Frey said. "The question has always been, 'Have you seen Joe?' " said Stephanie Feist, who was the Democratic deputy mayor under Sullivan in 1984. Sullivan reappeared in newspaper headlines after his arrest eight days ago. He was indicted on six counts of you're saying we move too fast and you don't like when we don't." Valerie Kellogg IN A COW'S EYE! What s the difference between lunch and a science experiment? For some Bridgewater-Raritan school officials, it's negotiable. The Board of Education began a discussion Tuesday night about proposals for hooking up the district's teachers and students to the Internet. Board member and Internet devotee Alan Ehrlich, extolling the virtues of the information superhighway, told his colleagues about a laboratory simulation he had performed earlier that day, via Internet. "I dissected a cow's eye," Erhlich I i i" ; 'i rl . j r"rT: .o; . -.; ; ... . Courier-News photo by Ed Pagliarlni Representing himself, Isaac Wright questions former Somerset County Chief of Detectives Richard Thornburg on Thursday. onstruction back on track at new school By DENISE VALENTI Courier-News Staff Writer BRANCHBURG Construction resumed Thursday at the new Whiton Road School, more than a week after a protesting union brought work to a halt. Despite the delays caused by the work stoppage and rain earlier this year, the school's construction management firm is confident that the school will open on schedule in the fall of 1997. Members of Local 11 of the International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Ironworkers have been picketing the site since Aug. 27 because nonunion workers were helping erect the school's steel frame. A separate entrance was created at the site for the nonunion workers, who are employed by Mastercraft Iron of Neptune and A.C. Construction of New Jersey, a subcontractor for Mastercraft Iron. Workers for Epic of Piscataway, the general contractor for the project, and P.J. Smith Electric of Vernon who are members of other unions refused to cross the Ironworkers picket lines and stopped working for five days. The Ironworkers union members were finally asked by police Wednesday to picket only the nonunion gate. Epic and P.J. Smith were also threatened with termination if they didn't get workers back on the job. The companies have strict timelines that must be met according to their contracts with the school district. David Tillou, vice president of the school's construction management firm, Vincentsen Consulting Inc. of Westfield, said he called the companies and "explained the facts of life" when it comes to their deadlines. "I've opened $200 million worth of schools in the past 10 years on time," bank fraud. She remembered Sullivan's optimism even on election night in 1984, when President Reagan's name on the ballot spelled defeat for Democratic candidates at all levels. Feist's seat was up. The results from all but one district showed the inevitable. But as they waited for results from the final district, Sullivan gripped her elbow so tightly, it bruised, she said. "He said, it's not over kid, it's not ever yet,' " Feist said. "It was over. I think everyone in the room knew it open space tax said. "It was really tremendous." That brought peals of laughter from the other side of the board room and an explanation. "Oh," said board member Pam Stoudt after a quick consultation with those sitting near her. "I thought you said you dissected a calzone." Jennifer Bauman MATCHMAKERS Hoping to create more opportunities for local low-income home buyers and renters to put a roof over their heads, Franklin Township officials tentatively agreed Tuesday to sign a contract with the Somerset County Coalition on Affordable Housing. The coalition, based in Bound Brook, is a nonprofit organization Branchburg schools to open Monday BRANCHBURG Cleanup continues at the township's three schools in preparation for Monday's opening. Schools were supposed to open Wednesday but were delayed after summer construction and cleanup took longer than expected. The halls of Old York School, filled with dirt and debris just days ago, were nearly clear Thursday. Most boxes, cleaning supplies and construction equipment had been removed. Workers from the Department of Public Works began paving the parking lot Thursday at Old York. That work was scheduled to be done before Labor Day but was delayed by other summer projects at the school. The township is paving the parking lot as part of a shared services agreement with the Board of Education. Denise Valenti said David Tillou, vice president of Vincentsen Consulting Inc. "I'll open this one on time." Some parents say they want to see the district put a contingency plan in place in case something else slows construction. 1 "They have to make plans," said Parent Teacher Organization President Robyn Morigerato. "What are we going to do if that school does not open in September? To the best of my knowledge they do not have a contingency plan." was over. But it wasn't just friends who respected Sullivan. Republican Somerset County Freeholder Director Peter Biondi, a political adversary, said Sullivan always had "Hillsborough's best interests at heart." Biondi stopped talking to Sullivan in 1984 after the Democrat called him a "liar" during a heated political campaign. "I don't think anyone, no matter which political side of the aisle, I don't think anyone gets great joy to see his hardship," Biondi said. that matches low-income families with affordable housing as designated by the Mount Laurel II court decision. Under the landmark ruling, each municipality must set aside a certain number of affordable housing units. In Franklin's case, that number is about 750, Township Manager John C. Lovell said. A state agent matches homes and families. Franklin's contract with the coalition, expected to last initially through December 1997, may open up more opportunities for local families Lovell said. ' The coalition has similar contracts with Branchburg, Hillsborough and Metuchen, said Sherry Sylvester, executive director of the coalition.' Paul H.B. Shin

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