We wish Cape May’s new Chief of Police Rob Sheehan a long and successful tenure in his office at City Hall— and not just because it’s a really good idea to stay on good terms with the men in uniform. Chief Sheehan has always come across as a genuine, down-to-earth guy with his heart, and his head, in the right place. and I happen to think both of these are important in a town like Cape May.
Yes, of course, we should all follow the letter of the law but good sense and proper discretion have sometimes been overlooked in Cape May and it hasn’t always been the fault of the CMPD. I remember one of the most embarrassing things that has happened to this town in recent years — that shocking idea, a few years ago, of pulling over and ticketing drivers who weren’t wearing seatbelts as they headed into town on Lafayette Street over Memorial Day weekend! This was part of a safety campaign mandated by then Governor John Corzine — for “safety campaign” you might also want to read “fundraising campaign”. We SHOULD all wear seatbelts but people coming to relax and spend money in this town should not have been targeted in such a manner — it was like shooting fish in a barrel.
At the time Mayor Jerry Inderwies was horrified such an action had taken place without council’s knowledge. Turned out it was the idea of then City Manager Lou Corea who tried to say that the state had forced such an action — but the state never told individual municipalites WHEN to target drivers. Memorial Day weekend was apparently Corea’s idea.
Then there was another shooting-fish-in-a-barrel policy of ticketing drivers who parked on Park Boulevard while attending festivals in Wilbraham Park. Again, people should not have been parking there, but the signage was far from adequate. In recent years, this has been sorted out.
My point is… the police need to remember that their department, and this town, would be in a pretty bad way if it were not for the millions of dollars of tourist money that comes into city coffers. I get the strong impression that Chief Sheehan is well aware of this and will run a department that shows common sense, and compassion, when they’re called for.
~We called Lucas Manteca who, along with wife Deanna Ebner, owns The Red Store in Cape May Point, early on Monday morning. He was likely very tired since Monday is the day after Sunday, when The Red Store’s much buzzed-about Brunch Club, for which Lucas is up and prepping by 3am, takes place. But the Argentinian-born chef was happy to talk with us while on his way to check the waves for surfability — a passion for Lucas behind only food and family in his list of priorities.
The topic of our conversation? A 10-acre stretch of land off New England Road which Lucas and two partners — land owner Tom Rossi and farmer Jaime Alvarez — will transform into a sustainable, community farm called Fincas del Mar, or Farms of the Sea.
It’s an idea that’s been in the works since Lucas’ days of working at the acclaimed Blue Hill at Stone Barn in upstate New York, which sources ingredients from its own land. “It exploded my mind,” Lucas says, in his ever-endearing, English-as-a-second-language way.
~His was the first stool on the left when you sat down at Dellas’ 5 and 10 soda fountain. He could be found there every morning having his coffee, talking politics. Young adults remember him as the Little League umpire who would not hesitate to call it a strike, even if you were his niece. Folks remember him as someone who would not hesitate to tell you exactly what he thought, even if you were his brother or his friend. Above all else, he was a man known for uncompromising integrity. His name is Allen Major and he will be sorely missed.
~Fans of the Merion Inn (and there are many) will have noticed that the restaurant hasn’t opened this year and isn’t able to take reservations. This is, sad to say, down to a financial dispute between the owner Vicki Watson and the contractor who began repair work on the building after a fire in December 2010. The Merion and the contractor have been in litigation for the last two years but Vicki is hopeful that “some good things are in the works so keep your fingers crossed.” I second that emotion — the Merion is more than a restaurant, it’s an institution, and a beloved one at that. I also want to do a shout-out on Vicki’s behalf for help with the Third Annual George Mesterhazy Tribute Concert, which will be held on June 8 at Convention Hall. The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities will once again provide core funding for the concert but another $7,000 is required in order to make the concert happen. Vicki is looking for local businesses and individuals to become George’s Angels by making a donation. To help, visit the Merion’s website at www.merioninn.com — and look for the DONATE NOW button. Or visit the MAC website, www.capemaymac.org and go to Music Festival page and George Mesterhazy Tribute Concert. Thanks for listening.
~The new size of Exit Zero continues to provoke spirited debate. I have received quite a few more positive comments than negative ones but I do, naturally, take the views of readers and advertisers very seriously. But listen, we are committed to this new size for the whole of 2014 and at the end of that time we will see how we all feel. Just the other day, one lady in her 70s visited the shop and said, “I love the new size! It’s to easy to turn the pages.” And yet, last week, a good friend of Exit Zero (a lady in her 60s, for what it’s worth) said she found it hard work turning the larger pages. So you can see how opinions differ quite sharply. Me? I love the bigger photographs — they deliver so much more impact — and I really love the little popup bubbles that accompany our photographic coverage, and they wouldn’t have been possible with the previous size. In the meantime, enjoy the paper but DO let me know your thoughts — write to me at email@example.com, and I might just print them.
~Speaking of things new and exciting — I hope you’re enjoying the new comic strip below, by Rosemary Dery. She and I have some fun ideas on how we’re going to turn Bird (that’s his name) into a local legend. So watch this space, and our Facebook page
Rambling contributors: Diane Stopyra and Susan Tischler
BIRD IS THE WORD, by Rosemary Dery