A weekly update of stories previously reported

Four months ago: Juveniles escape from detention facility

New Year’s Eve was a little more hectic in Egg Harbor City when five juveniles escaped custody from the Juvenile Justice Commission.

Police said that on Dec. 31, five boys from Camden escaped while heading back to the commission’s Southern Residential Community Home in Egg Harbor City. The home is independent from the Harborfields Juvenile Detention Center, which is secured by guards.

The boys were being transported from a Juvenile Justice Commission regional school when they escaped. They did not escape from inside the building.

Four were caught that night in the city, but one eluded capture. That fifth juvenile was returned to custody Jan. 19, said Sharon Lauchairem, public information officer for the commission.

He was transported to the Camden County Detention Center, she said. A juvenile court judge will determine what further action will take place.

Seventeen months ago: Lower Township mayor seeks solution to Public Safety Building costs

Lower Township bought its spacious Public Safety Building at the Cape May Airport in 1995 for a cost to the township of $100,000. But renovations and repairs to the World War II-era building have cost the municipality millions since.

In November 2011, Mayor Mike Beck asked the Township Council to consider alternatives, including a new facility. The council formed a seven-member committee, and Beck said he expects the council to begin serious discussions on the options soon.

Beck said he is in favor of building a new facility next to the Municipal Building on Bayshore Road to host the Police Department. That way the police would be closer to the most populated part of town instead of the airport.

The township hired its first-ever engineer, George Curvan, in February, and he will look at the plans.

“The cost of (building a new structure) in the long run will be less than fixing up what we have there,” he said.

Sixteen months ago: Vietnamese Buddhist monk attempts to build temple in area

In December 2011, the Rev. T. Hich Hang Dat — a native of Vietnam — moved to the area with hopes of building a new facility for the region’s growing Asian population to practice their religion.

Atlantic County’s Asian population increased by 63 percent to 19,721 residents between the 2000 and 2010 census.

Dat practices Mahayana Buddhism, which is practiced in several Asian countries, including China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam. Mahayana Buddhism, which started in India and is also known as “the Great Vehicle,” teaches that compassion is the key to enlightenment, and people must spread the message as well.

Dat started by hosting small services at a family’s home in Egg Harbor Township, and the local organization is trying to raise money for a permanent facility. They purchased 4.8 acres and renovated a small house on Reega Avenue to host visiting monks and nuns. Some small services are held for residents, but nothing full-scale as of yet.

The organization is now working on designing a permanent center at the Reega Avenue site, he said.

“We’re still in the process of finding something permanent. We need a lot of financial support from the community,” he said. “Certainly, our Buddhist people around Atlantic County are very excited about our new religious center.”

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