A weekly update of stories previously reported.

One year ago: Voters approve $6 million referendum for Oakcrest, Absegami

Capital projects for the Greater Egg Harbor Regional School District have become busier since Cedar Creek High School opened in 2010 to complement Oakcrest and Absegami high schools.

“By 33.3 percent,” jokes Superintendent Steven Ciccariello.

The district now has three buildings and an obligation to provide a safe and accommodating structure for its roughly 3,700 students as well as its employees.

Though the Cedar Creek building is new, the district continuously monitors all three buildings to ensure there are no problems.

In December 2011 voters approved a $6 million referendum for a partial roof and HVAC system replacement at Absegami and full roof replacement at Oakcrest. Both schools also got new fire alarm systems.

The district also received an $8.1 million grant from the New Jersey Schools Development Authority for the project. The work began in the summer and is now in the finishing stages, officials said.

Oakcrest opened in 1960 and Absegami in 1982. The schools have had various upgrades in recent years, including new bleachers, boilers, science labs, windows and doors.

Ciccariello said they will continue to work on all three facilities and secure grants to offset cost to the taxpayers.

“We have responsibilities for all three facilities. We are constantly looking on a daily basis of what needs to be done,” he said. “Is everything equal? No. Sometimes you have a need (at one school) that doesn’t exist at others. We get what needs to be done in the most cost efficient manner we can. It’s not a major problem.”

Seventeen months ago: Egg Harbor Township Walmart sued by grocery chain

When Egg Harbor Township approved a new 188,000-square-foot Walmart SuperCenter at Fire Road and the Black Horse Pike in April 2011 it was the end of a long planning battle that included six months of meetings and five public hearings.

The controversy then moved to court.

On July 26, 2011, Village Supermarkets Inc. filed a lawsuit alleging the township’s Planning Board committed multiple procedural errors, failed to reference factual findings in its approval and was unduly biased in its decision. The Springfield, Union County-based company owns 27 ShopRite grocery stores in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including the one in the English Creek Shopping Center four miles west of the proposed Walmart, and the one in Somers Point

Egg Harbor Township Mayor James “Sonny” McCullough said the trial was under way. The case is being heard sporadically, including on Dec. 11, and there are more trial dates scheduled for January, he said.

Ten months ago: State attorney general bans use of synthetic marijuana.

On Feb. 29 New Jersey became the fourth state to ban synthetic marijuana products, and now the New Jersey Legislature is acting to codify the ban,

The state Senate unanimously passed a bill in October making the substance illegal. The Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee released the bill for a vote Dec. 13.

Jennifer Sciortino, spokeswoman for Assembly Democrats, said there has been no vote scheduled for the bill before the entire Assembly and the earliest one could be taken is Jan. 28. If the Assembly passes the bill, it would need approval from Gov. Chris Christie.

The Attorney General’s Office said in September reports of use of the drug were down by one-third. Making, selling or even possessing the drugs are now third-degree crimes, punishable by three to five years in prison and as much as $25,000 in fines.

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