Saturday, September 24, 2005

Gloucester Co. levees at risk

RON KARAFIN/Courier-Post
Ray Williams, Greenwich Township Council president, inspects in 2003 sandbags and a sluice gate that are part of the levee system involving the Delaware River and Repaupo Creek at the end of Floodgate Road in Gibbstown.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Courier-Post Staff

Mayor Frank Minor was 1,240 miles away from New Orleans on Tuesday, but the images of water rising in the city's streets because of a hurricane-related levee breach haunted him.

He and other local officials here envision the same thing happening in Logan and Greenwich if repairs to two deteriorating levees and sluice gates are not made soon.

The levees and flood gates protect residents of not only Logan and Greenwich, but Harrison, East Greenwich, Woolwich and as far south as Pitman and Glassboro from flooding by the Delaware River, officials said.

If the levees were breached, river waters would also affect parts of Interstate 295 and the New Jersey Turnpike, Minor said.

Minor and other officials say that the levees and flood gates are in such disrepair that any heavy rainfall -- it doesn't need to be a hurricane or nor'easter -- could cause a breach.

"My feeling is that because of the catastrophic nature of those levees breaking, it's imperative that we do something about them," said Minor, who had a conference call about the levees on Tuesday with staff at U.S. Sen Frank Lautenberg's office.

Officials have three concerns:

A deteriorating levee that runs between the Delaware River and Logan and Greenwich for the length of the townships. It's estimated to be more than 100 years old.

Trees and dense vegetation along the levee make it unstable and hides what could be major structural problems, officials said.

Flood gates that were built around 1921 along the river near the Greenwich-Logan border also need massive repairs. Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey is expected to sign a bill in the next month to release $2.25 million in state funds for the project, said spokesman Sean Darcy.

In Logan, a mile-long levee, built about 40 years ago perpendicular to the Delaware River along Floodgate Road, is prone to breaches. In early July, remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy ripped a 30-foot hole in the levee.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently inspected a portion of the main levee, the one that runs the length of the townships, and found that it didn't meet standards, said Ed Voigt, a spokesman for the Army Corps' Philadelphia office.

The Army Corps couldn't provide an estimate for repair costs, but state Sen. Stephen Sweeney, D-West Deptford, said the repairs would be about $30 million.

Before the Army Corps can work with Logan and Greenwich townships to fortify the levee, it needs to have federal money in place to pay for the project, said Voigt, the corps spokesman.

It also needs easements so that crews can work on private properties.

"The concern of course is bringing the levee to the point where it's effective again," Voigt said.

Lautenberg, D-Cliffside Park, is working with Sen. Jon Corzine, D-Hoboken, and U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, D-Haddon Heights, to find funding, said David Wald, a spokesman for Corzine.

Andrews requested $10.6 million for the flood gates and levee restoration project in a letter he sent last month to the House subcommittee on energy and water development.

In the letter, he called the project an "urgent situation" that requires immediate assistance. "Each heavy rainfall brings a threat of devastation and financial ruin to the nearby homes," Andrews wrote.

Sarah Redrow, 68, who lives a quarter-mile from the river and the flood gates, thinks whoever owns the levee should make the repairs.

Minor wouldn't comment when asked about who actually owns the levee, saying the matter would be dealt with in due course.

Redrow and her brother, Winfield Feldman, 81, applaud Logan and Greenwich elected officials for bringing the levee issue to light.

Both believe the project should also include cleaning out the Repaupo Creek and its tributaries of 40 years of debris, silt and vegetation.

But they're not too sure the project will get out of the muck and mire of federal bureaucracy.

"It's all politics . . . Each time the politicians change, they need to learn about the project all over again," Feldman said. "Before, everyone in the community took care of the levees. We didn't get no money from anyone and we just pitched in and helped. Today, everybody wants to know how much it's going to cost."

Reach Lisa Grzyboski at (856) 251-3345 or lgrzyboski@courier


Thursday, September 22, 2005

How to Rebound Right

How to Rebound Right

Brought to you by Natalie Krinsky and!

I have always been a little wary of relationship terms that find their origin in sports. Take "player" or "I scored" or even "third base" (the latter of which was massively unnerving circa the ninth grade). To me, those terms always wound up signaling bad news. The word "rebound" is no different. When I think of the word rebound, I imagine that lone basketball, ricocheting off the backboard and falling aimlessly in the air, while a group of hungry, muscle-bound men wait for it to tumble into their arms... not such great imagery for the situation I find myself in these days. That's because I recently found myself on the rebound after a two-and-a-half-year relationship. This time, I vowed to rebound right.

Only how? Is it possible to come ricocheting out of a serious relationship and land on your feet back on the singles scene? It is, given you take some basic post-breakup precautions. Here's some wisdom that's proved invaluable to me--and will hopefully help others in the same situation:

Rebound rule #1: Don't psych yourself up to find The One right away
It's understandable that you're tempted to get over the breakup heartache by jumping into a fabulous new relationship right away. But sorry, chances are, it isn't going to happen. Case in point: When my friend Lindsay ended her three-year saga with her ex, she was in bed with a new man immediately. One night, on our way to catch a movie (of course, a romantic comedy), she announced that she had "real" feelings for this guy. I was suspicious, and warned her to hold off on picking out the perfect china pattern. She told me I was cynical and informed me, "Dave is everything Anthony never could be." Perhaps this was true, but as it turns out, Dave lacked a hell of a lot of things in his own right. Another two weeks went by and her "new boyfriend" was quickly a thing of the past. The moral of the story: Think of your rebound like a relaxing bath--it's hot and feels great for awhile, but eventually you?re bound to start sweating and want to get out of the tub. So don't think it's going to last forever.

Rebound rule #2: Don't treat your love life like an episode of Wild On...
It is natural in the quest to purge your relationship palate of your ex to get a little crazy. Letting loose can even be healthy--provided you abide by a few easy guidelines. For starters, make sure that the cutie who's going to help you get over the hump isn't part of your immediate inner circle--as in, they don't work with you, they don't hang out with you on a regular basis, they're not your bowling buddy or your canasta partner. You?re looking for someone who can stream in and out of your life with ease. My friend Kate, a 27-year-old investment banker, agrees with me there. She had barely let the tears on her cheeks dry before beginning to sleep with a friend whom she knew had always had a crush on her. "At the beginning, I felt great," she told me, but barely two weeks passed before she began feeling guilty. "I ended up taking my feelings of disappointment and sadness out on him," she said, "and that definitely wasn't fair to him."

Rebound rule #3: Come clean with new partners
Just because your feelings were shredded like a top-secret WorldCom document in your last relationship doesn't mean you have the license to destroy other people's egos, too. So, make sure you fully explain your situation to potential partners. Take my friend Garrett, for example. After a particularly heart-wrenching breakup, he and a friend-of-a-friend began casually hooking up on occasion. Before things got too serious sexually, Garrett carefully explained to his date that he had been hurt pretty badly and while he enjoyed spending time with her, he wasn't ready for a new girlfriend. Turns out the woman he was seeing was also on the rebound, and she was fine keeping things casual. Granted, that will not always be the case, but Garrett did the right thing: He explained where he was in his life and what level of commitment he was comfortable with. By clearly outlining his parameters, he did not mislead his rebound relationship or unrealistically raise her expectations.

Rebound rule #4: Never use your new amour as your shrink
Grieve and vent all you want to your friends, family or a therapist--just make sure it's not to the new person in your bed. It's true that being upfront about your situation is definitely the way to go, but your new love interest does not need or want to hear about all the ways that your ex wouldn't meet you half-way or all the different things he or she did wrong. A new relationship, no matter how serious or casual, is a way to start off fresh, and it can be one of the steps to putting your old relationship behind you. Talking about your pain is a necessary step as well, but a more neutral party is definitely the best way to go.

Rebound rule #5: Don't compare today's hit to yesterday's favorite
It can be tempting, in an effort to prove how much better off you are without your ex, to consider your former love next to your rebound to see how one stacks up against the other. Not surprisingly, your rebound will come out on top--but this is hardly a fair test now, is it? Of course your new lover will seem issue-free: You barely know this person. The more time you spend together, the more flaws you'll probably find. So, don't kid yourself. Try to view your rebound for what it most likely is: an opportunity to realize that even after a breakup with someone you swore was The One, your love life does go on.

It may be too early for me to totally believe that yet, but I'm getting there.

Natalie Krinsky is the author of Chloe Does Yale--and is beginning to enjoy her newly single status, thank you very much.

The Secrets to Happy Single-hood

The Secrets to Happy Single-hood

Brought to you by Anna Harris and!

We're not breaking ground here--you've probably heard this adage from smug marrieds enough times to make your blood boil. But guess's true. "Being single gives you time to explore what makes you happy, which ultimately makes you a stronger, more well-rounded person... and a person new people want to be around," says Sasha Cagan, author of cult phenomenon quirkyalone: a manifesto for uncompromising romantics. Here's how to make it happen.

Step 1: Quiet the little voices.
Let's face it, society constantly reminds people that you need to be paired up to be happy--to be a real grown-up. Just walk by any newsstand: No less than three out of five cover lines of women's and men's magazines promote sex or relationships, notes Rachna D. Jain, Psy.D., a life and relationship coach. "They can often make it seem that everyone's involved in a really hot love affair except you," she says.

So how can you tune out the static? Check your friends--are you hanging out with enough like-minded singletons? "Being with couples can often make it worse," Jain says. "You may find yourself constantly comparing yourself to them." And when Mom (or anyone else) asks for the millionth time why haven't you settled down, be frank. Say, "I really appreciate that you want me to be happy. but your constant focus on how I'm not in a couple is not making me happy." Enough said.

Step 2: Dig up the past.
To be truly happy as a single, you need to redefine yourself as single by choice, at least for now--someone who doesn't just settle for anyone. Along your journey as a single person, you've probably had your fair share of groan-worthy relationships. Use that knowledge to your advantage and (re)discover all the ways it's better to be single and happy than stuck in a rut with a dud. Need a memory refresh? Review your relationship history on paper. For each partner, list how long you two were together, what you liked and disliked about this person, and why it ended. If you only recall the good times (it happens), enlist some truth-seekers (a.k.a. your friends). Ask them to remind you of an unworthy boyfriend or girlfriend from your past. Soon enough, you'll start to realize that it's better to be free than, say, dating a freeloader.

Step 3: Work on a relationship ...with yourself.
Being single is a great opportunity to grow as a person--to appreciate yourself and your idiosyncrasies. "Just like all the other relationships in your life -- with your family, your friends -- it takes a lot of work to maintain a relationship with yourself," explains Judy Ford, author of Single: The Art of Being Satisfied, Fulfilled and Independent. "The more you know about yourself, the more you know the type of person you want to be with."

But self-realization doesn't always come easy. You can get started with a few simple writing exercises. "Journals help you delve deeper into your feelings," Jain says. "Start writing about a hot-button topic, like the get-married pressure you're getting from Mom. By taking the time to describe why something angers you, you'll start to understand yourself and your motivations better." Positive, focused writing can have the same effect: Try listing your life goals and when you want them to happen, regardless of whether you're single or married. Finally, realize that happiness can come from places outside relationships: Creative projects, travel, your career. Need a kick-start? Jot down at least five things that make you happy every day.

Step 4: Celebrate your single-hood.
With new episodes of Sex and the City long gone, it seems that there's an empty hole to fill--the one that glamorizes the single life. "Now all that's left are shows like The Bachelor," sighs Cagan. So create your own ways to celebrate single-hood and live it up! And remember, everything has a good side; you just have to learn how to spot it--or reframe it, as Jain notes. If sleeping alone at night triggers a sense of loneliness, respin the situation in your mind to realize the benefits (you can eat ice cream in bed, sleep diagonally, snooze, snore... you name it). Finally, make a list of 100 things that you would like to do by yourself--things you could never do if you had a boyfriend or girlfriend--and start doing them. "When you're single, you can redecorate your place at any time, take off on the spur of the moment, even have the whole crossword puzzle to yourself!" Jain says.

Anna Harris is a New York-based writer and editor who's learning to love being single.

'Stop Giving Me a Hard Time About Being Single'

'Stop Giving Me a Hard Time About Being Single'

Brought to you by Karen Salmansohn and!

If you're single, chances are you've been asked the following three questions:

Why aren't you married?
Why aren't you married?
and the very, very popular:
Why aren't you married?
... give or take another 999,999,997 more such questions.

Unfortunately, I can't fix you up with any cute guys or girls to help you avoid these questions in the future. However, I can fix you up with some good snappy comebacks to fling at anyone who dares to question your single status.

So, next time somebody dares to ask you that "Why aren't you married?" question, pause, smile sagaciously (I love that word; it means "wisely"), and offer up one of the following. Or, just review them for your own personal satisfaction.

1. In the beginning, there were no elliptical trainers or low-fat/high-fiber muffins, and so people lived to only about 40-something. Maximum. Meaning, the pressure was on to get married before age 25. However, today, thanks to medical advances, we can all hope to live to 80. Easy. Meaning? Even if we marry at age 40, that's still 35, 45, even 55 years to be with a mate. Plenty of time to be married. What's the hurry?

2. Married people are not necessarily better catches simply because they were caught. I mean, have you taken a look at some of the married people out there? Seriously. Even Frankenstein got married. Obviously married people are not superior people.

3. Meanwhile, look at some of our cool single role models:

Catwoman: Single.
Buddha: Single.
The Lone Ranger: Single.
Actually, virtually all superhero types are single: Superman, Wonder Woman, Dudley Do-Right. And then there's The Ultimate Superhero: God--also single.

4. Plus, when you think about it, there's no such thing as a Stepford Single Woman.

5. Why limit myself to being dissatisfied by one relationship when I can be dissatisfied by an infinite variety?

6. It's interesting how our culture has the expression "happily married," but no expression "happily single." And those words are 100% certified by the US Census Bureau. Statistics show that although married men are reported to be happier than single men (surprise, surprise!)--single women are reported to be happier than married women (also a big surprise, surprise!). Meaning? This only furthers the irony that single women are branded as "unhappy" and "lonely" and "loser-esque"--when single women are just boldly holding out for the right situation, rather than getting married just to get married.

7. It's easy to become married. Millions of people do it every year. If you want to pressure me to become something, hey, why not pick something a little more challenging--like an astrophysicist.

8. True love is rare. That's why it's called "love" and not "really like" or "settling." And why we don't say: "I'm settling for you, honey" over candlelit dinners. True love is worth waiting for...and that's what I'm doing.

Karen Salmansohn is a life coach and the best-selling author of 27 books. Visit her at Adapted from Even God Is Single: So Stop Giving Me A Hard Time, copyright 2000 by Karen Salmansohn. Used by permission of Workman Publishing Co., Inc., New York. All rights reserved.

For more dating and relationships, visit!

NYC Voters Sue to Block Costly Runoff

NYC Voters Sue to Block Costly Runoff

By JIM FITZGERALD, Associated Press Writer
Fri Sep 16,11:58 AM ET

NEW YORK - Two Democratic lawyers sued Friday to stop the city from conducting an expensive runoff election in their party's mayoral primary, arguing that the race is uncontested because the second-place finisher agreed to drop out.

Democrats fear a runoff could nip the momentum, exposure and fund-raising that top votegetter Fernando Ferrer would get as the uncontested nominee against incumbent Republican Michael Bloomberg.

Ferrer's three rivals in the primary, including second-place finisher Rep. Anthony Weiner (news, bio, voting record), united behind Ferrer after Tuesday's election. The initial ballot count left Ferrer only about 250 votes short of the 40 percent required to avoid a runoff; but absentee ballots remained to be counted.

The city Board of Elections said Thursday that if Ferrer remains under 40 percent after the final vote count, the law requires a Sept. 27 runoff, which would cost an estimated $12 million. John Ravitz, executive director of the board, said Friday the only way to stop a runoff would be a court order or a change in state law.

Bloomberg said he doesn't want a runoff. "To waste city money that we don't have would be a travesty," he said. Opinion polls show Bloomberg's approval rating steadily climbing and a majority of New Yorkers believing he will win a second term.

The suit by Chad Marlow and Christina Daigneault and their law firm, Public Advocacy Group, claimed a runoff would violate the state Constitution and election law.

"The fact that one of the two candidates in the runoff is no longer participating in the election means, under any reasonable interpretation of the word, that the runoff is now `uncontested,'" the suit said.

Daigneault said Friday that the suit was not discussed with party officials or candidates. "We filed this as concerned citizens, as a business that pays taxes and as Democrats who pay taxes," she said.

Marlow told The New York Times that no party figures had asked his firm to sue. "We're simply progressive Democratic voters who don't want to see money wasted," he said.

But Ravitz said, "We are looking at a section of the state election law which clearly states that if no candidate receives 40 percent we have to conduct a runoff."

The firm has worked in the past for Democrats including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (news, bio, voting record).


On the Net:

City Election Board:

Baby Born to Brain-Dead Va. Woman Dies

Baby Born to Brain-Dead Va. Woman Dies

By MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press Writer
Mon Sep 12, 7:06 PM ET

McLEAN, Va. - An infant born last month to a severely brain-damaged woman died Monday after emergency surgery to repair a perforated intestine.

Susan Anne Catherine Torres, born prematurely on Aug. 2 after her mother was on life support for three months, died of heart failure at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, a family statement said.

The infant's condition had deteriorated rapidly during the weekend, according to the family. The baby's prematurity led to an intestinal disorder and an infection that overwhelmed her body, and she died just after midnight, the hospital said.

Cancer patient Susan Rollin Torres, a 26-year-old researcher at the National Institutes of Health, suffered a stroke in May after melanoma spread to her brain. She was kept alive on life support so she could deliver the child.

A spokeswoman at St. Rita's Church in Alexandria said parishioners were told of the child's death during the morning Mass.

"After the efforts of this summer to bring her into the world, this is obviously a devastating loss for the Torres and Rollin families," Justin Torres, the woman's brother-in-law, said in the e-mailed statement. "We wish to thank all the people who sustained us in prayer over the past 17 weeks. It was our fondest wish that we could have been able to share Susan's homecoming with the world."

The baby's father, Jason Torres, had made the decision after his wife lost consciousness to keep her on life support for the sake of her fetus.

The pregnancy became a race between the fetus' development and the cancer that was ravaging the woman's body. Doctors at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, where the baby was born, had said at the time that Torres' health was deteriorating and that the risk of harm to the fetus finally outweighed the benefits of extending the pregnancy.

The mother died shortly after her daughter's birth when she was taken off life support. The baby was about two months premature and weighed 1 pound, 13 ounces.

After her birth, doctors said they saw no signs that her mother's cancer had crossed the placenta, and they described her as feisty and vigorous. In late August, the family said Susan had passed the 2-pound mark and had been taken off a ventilator, though she remained in neonatal intensive care.

English-language medical literature contains at least 11 cases since 1979 of irreversibly brain-damaged women whose lives were prolonged for the benefit of the developing fetus, according to the University of Connecticut Health Center.

Jason Torres had quit his job to be by his wife's side, spending each night sleeping in a reclining chair next to her bed. The couple had one other child — 2-year-old Peter.

A Web site was set up to help raise money for the family's mounting medical bills and people from around the world had sent in more than $600,000 as of early last month. Any excess money was to be donated to cancer research and to establish a college savings plan for the two children.