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Dougherty family buys Linwood Country Club

LINWOOD — Linwood Country Club, one of the last member-owned golf courses in the area, has been sold to local restaurateurs Frank and Joe Dougherty, owners of iconic Atlantic City eateries The Knife and Fork Inn, Dock’s Oyster House and Harry’s Oyster Bar.

David Gardner, president of the club’s board of directors said Wednesday that selling the club to the Doughertys is a perfect marriage. The sale of the 97-year-old golf club was finalized Nov. 24 and will close Dec. 29.

Neither Gardner nor the Doughertys would comment on a sale price.

Gardner said selling the club was a huge decision for the board and the membership but that in the end they needed to grow their membership and the best direction would be to go to a private owner. The club was put up for sale in May. While Gardner said a number of parties were interested in purchasing the club, only the Doughertys wanted to continue to have LCC retain its exclusivity as a private club.

“It was really important to us that the club retain the lifestyle and remain private and that the membership is able to continue to hold tournaments as we have always done and hold social functions,” Gardner said. “We wanted the club to remain as it is where everybody is somebody at Linwood Country Club. We all love that it is a great place to golf but also a great place to go. Now it is going to be even better with a premier restaurant. This is where people will want to come and golf and enjoy a great meal.”

The Doughertys bring with them a reputation for incredible dining, according to Gardner, and they are local.

The club has 165 full memberships and 75 social members.

“We are expecting all of our members to remain at Linwood Country Club and to attract new members,” Gardner said.

Frank Dougherty, of Margate, said the acquisition of Linwood Country Club happened rather quickly but said it is going to be a wonderful addition to the other three properties he and his brother operate.

All of the current memberships will expire March 1, 2018. Dougherty said that is the normal renewal for memberships, and the new memberships will kick in at that point, the details of which will be worked out.

He said they are interested in making improvements in the banquet room and adding a bridal suite on the second floor. Dougherty mentioned a former manager’s suite that has been used for storage for the past few years will make a perfect spot for the suite.

“This is something the brides want,” Dougherty said, adding improvements to the patio will make it accessible nine months of the year. “This will be an unbelievable venue for weddings and other events.”

The plan is to renovate during January and February and have it ready for spring.

Dougherty said he is talking with employees at the club as they determine how to move forward.

Linwood Country Club has a club liquor license, which means you have to be a member or a guest of a member to purchase alcohol at the bar. The city of Linwood does not have another license to sell, but a license sold to Robin Karman, the developer of the Cornerstone Commerce Center, has been inactive for nearly 10 years. In recent months, City Council, through Solicitor Joe Youngblood, has been working with the New Jersey Alcohol Beverage Control commission to get the license back.

“We are going to make it as smooth a transition as possible,” Dougherty said. “Although the memberships expire March 1, we hope that members stay on to see what we have planned.”

Dougherty said they have retained SOSH Architects, interior designer, Dana Bergman Falcione and builder John Merenda for the renovations.

He added the club’s restaurant will boast cuisine similar to the family’s other restaurant holdings.

The Doughertys, including Frank Dougherty’s wife, Maureen Shay, reopened Dock’s Oyster House last year after more than doubling its size and totally renovating the landmark restaurant. Frank and Joe are the fourth-generation owners of Dock’s, which was founded by their great-grandfather. This will be the first Dougherty-owned business on the mainland.

“Linwood Country Club has the potential to be the premier private golf club in the area,” said Dougherty, an avid golfer, adding the name will not change. “The club already offers a first-rate golf course with spectacular views of the Atlantic City skyline. Real opportunity for change, however, exists within the food and beverage program, which is our specialty.”

Former Atlantic City cop rebuilding life in Puerto Rico as the island continues to suffer

Although the images of homeless families and crushed houses have faded from the national spotlight, millions living in Puerto Rico are still struggling to find basic necessities such as food, water and electricity.

For Gary Grant-Daley, the struggle has led to the relocation of his family, delayed medical treatment and spending $120 on gas every week to keep his generators going.

Still, he considers himself one of the lucky ones.

Grant-Daley, 68, worked as a police officer in Atlantic City for 27 years. He stood next to the podium when the referendum allowing casino gaming in the city was signed, and he held a rope to keep people in line during the opening of Resorts Casino Hotel in 1978. As a teenager, he worked at Steeplechase Pier.

He moved to Puerto Rico on Sept. 10, 2001, following his time as a police officer and fell in love with the island because of its natural beauty and “laid-back, friendly people.”

On Sept. 21, however, Grant-Daley’s life, and the lives of everyone living in Puerto Rico, was changed forever following the catastrophic damage Hurricane Maria left in its wake.

“The doors (of the house) were slamming in and out so fast it sounded like a rapid heartbeat,” he said. “I witnessed a lot of storms living in Atlantic City, but there was nothing ever like this.”

Now, over two months after the hurricane, Grant-Daley is still without power. He and his family, which includes his wife, Maritza, stepdaughter Itzamarie and 6-year-old grandson Alejandro, left their home in Arroyo, which has no power or running water, to live in San Juan, where conditions are slightly better.

Grant-Daley and his family now have running water, but they have to keep the generators going around the clock. He would like to shut off the generator at night, but because he has to use a CPAP machine for his sleep apnea, doing that is impossible, Grant-Daley said.

Conditions around the island have slightly improved in the past two months — the local governments are cleaning up debris to prevent mosquito infestations, and cell service is spotty instead of nonexistent in some parts of the island.

But bureaucratic holdups and neglected infrastructure are slowing the whole process down.

“We’re not sitting here on our asses saying, ‘Give me this or give me that,’” Grant-Daley said. “All we’re asking for is basic necessities. The people are out here every day cleaning this up.”

Major retail chains such as Old Navy and JC Penney have remained closed or run out of items to sell because shipments have stopped and the power is spotty. Hardware stores like the Home Depot don’t have wood to sell to people to use to fix their homes.

Places farther away from San Juan are in even worse shape, Grant-Daley said. His home in Arroyo still has no electricity or running water. Makeshift soup kitchens have popped up in vacant lots.

Grant-Daley said Puerto Ricans are always there for each other, and he has been trying to help people who have lost everything.

“The people of Puerto Rico are resilient,” he said. “They are American citizens but haven’t been treated the same way as the people in Florida or Texas when they had storms.”

He said he makes sure to stop and thank the people working on the power lines and electrical grid.

Officials have been promising some residents their power could be restored within a few days, but that has now turned into two months, he said.

“The whole electrical system here was neglected for so long,” he said. “The electric poles fell like dominoes in some places.”

Some schools have reopened without electricity, but politicians are already fighting over how and when the students will report to school to make up for the time they have missed.

And on top of it all, Grant-Daley has tried to rebuild what he’s lost with an injured knee. He is in need of an MRI, but many of the facilities that offer the procedure are closed because it uses too much power.

Instead, he will have to wait several weeks to get an MRI at the local VA Hospital, which is being guarded by troops with assault rifles.

“The pain has gotten better, but I still walk with a cane as a security blanket,” he said.

Despite all that, Grant-Daley has never considered leaving and moving back to Atlantic City.

“I love Atlantic City, but I didn’t recognize it when I came back and visited five years ago,” he said. “We’re going to stay here. The root of everything is getting the power back on. The people of Puerto Rico are strong, and I have a firm belief that everything is going to work out.”

Van Drew to seek LoBiondo's Congressional seat; Guardian considering run on GOP side

State Sen. Jeff Van Drew announced Wednesday his intention to run for Congress in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District in 2018.

Van Drew, who represents all of Cape May County and parts of Atlantic and Cumberland counties in the state Legislature, will look to take over the seat retiring U.S. Rep.Frank LoBiondo will vacate next year.

LoBiondo announced earlier this month he will retire at the end of his term and not seek re-election in 2018. He has been in Congress since 1995, when he succeeded Democrat Bill Hughes.

There are no announced Republican candidates yet.

“It will be the honor of a lifetime to represent South Jersey in Congress, especially at a time when our country most needs consensus builders,” Van Drew said in a statement. “Expect to hear a lot from me during this campaign about finding common ground. It won’t be easy or always even possible, but that must never stop us from making the effort.”

Speaking in a conference call with reporters Wednesday afternoon, Van Drew expressed the need to forcefully represent South Jersey, which he said can be left behind when dealing with the state.

He also said that, if elected, he would seek spots on committees that deal with the fishing industry, farming or casinos.

“There is a (part of) New Jersey that has more opportunity, and God bless them,” Van Drew said. “We’re a little bit different (in South Jersey), so we have to show what our needs are.”

Van Drew is the third Democrat to announce a candidacy for the seat. In July, Tanzie Youngblood, a retired educator and longtime resident of Woolwich, Gloucester County, announced she would run.

“I welcome Jeff Van Drew to the race. We need to find real solutions to the issues impacting the everyday lives of the people of New Jersey’s 2nd District,” Youngblood said in a statement. “I look forward to hearing his views and debating the issues with him in the months to come.”

In June, Sean A. Thom, a Cumberland County resident who serves as a school administrator in Camden, announced he would seek the seat.

Thom expressed concern about Van Drew’s candidacy in a letter to the Democratic National Committee.

“Not because it would bring additional competition to the race — competition helps spur innovation and gives the people a real choice — but because Jeff Van Drew has shown time and time again he is not a Democrat; instead, he is a career politician who does not espouse the values of our party,” the letter reads.

It is still unclear who Republicans may nominate in the race.

Outgoing Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian has been contacted by the National Republican Congressional Committee and is considering a run, according to his chief of staff, Chris Filiciello.

“He’s exploring all of his options,” Filiciello said, adding Guardian will make a decision next month. “It’s another way to help and represent the people of Atlantic City and South Jersey.”

Former Assemblyman Vince Polistina has also been contacted and is considering a run, according to reports.

Bob Turkavage, a former FBI agent and current Brigantine resident, said he is thinking about running and has reached out to the NRCC and Atlantic County Republican Chairman Keith Davis.

Chris Brown, who was elected to the state Senate earlier this month, said he will not run for Congress.

“A representative from the National Republican Congressional Committee reached out to me shortly after the election,” Brown said in a statement. “While it’s an honor to be considered to run, I just worked very hard during the campaign telling the families of Atlantic County I want to serve them as their state senator, and I am blessed our local middle-class families put their faith in me to represent them, which is why I am focused on doing my best as their representative in the State Senate.”

Craig Matthews / Staff Photographer/  

1st District Democratic candidates Jeff Van Drew (Senate) and Bob Andrzejczak and R. Bruce Land (Assembly) met with the editorial board. Oct. 18, 2017 (Craig Matthews / Staff Photographer)

New Jersey's recent election ranked second all-time in gubernatorial campaign spending

The 2017 gubernatorial race was the second most expensive race for governor in New Jersey history.

The race, partially fueled by record spending from independent groups, saw candidates spend more than $79 million. Independent groups, such as the New Jersey Education Association, spent $24.5 million on the election, a new record in the state, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.

“The $24.5 million spent independently on the election not only sets a new record but reflects the growing dominance of these groups in national and New Jersey elections,” Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s executive director, said in a statement. “However, public disclosure rules for these committees are woefully outdated. Some of these groups deserve credit because they voluntarily disclose their contributions and expenditures. But New Jersey’s current law is so inadequate that most independent spending can be done without voters ever knowing who provided the funds.”

Brindle said ELEC is strongly urging both parties to pass legislation that closes loopholes and create a full disclosure on independent spending.

Despite the record independent spending, the final total this campaign was lower than the 2005 race between Democrat Jon Corzine and Republican Doug Forrester, which totaled $88 million spent.

That campaign, won by Corzine, was highlighted by personal spending by both candidates. Corzine spent $27.4 million of his own money. Unlike more recent campaigns in New Jersey, there was very little independent spending by special-interest groups.

Brindle said it wasn’t a surprise that independent spending soared during this election, because it was one of only two gubernatorial races in the country.

Gov.-elect Phil Murphy spent $14.5 million during the general election, more than twice as much as the other six candidates combined. The others included Republican Kim Guadagno, Green Party Candidate Seth Kaper-Dale and several independents.

Guadagno finished second in the spending race, with $5.6 million.

Several candidates also spent their own money on campaigns. Murphy, however, blew past all competitors by spending $22.5 million from his own pocket, most of which came during the pre-primary period and the primary campaign, according to ELEC. He used a different strategy in the general election, choosing to accept funds from the gubernatorial public financing program.

Even if Guadagno had been able to keep up with Murphy’s spending, the results likely would have remained the same, according to election experts.

“There were a number of factors working in Murphy’s favor. … Money was one of them,” said John Weingart, associate director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. “But we had a Republican for eight years. There is Christie fatigue. (President Donald Trump) hasn’t been good for New Jersey Republicans, and New Jersey tends to vote Democratic anyway.”

Weingart said Guadagno’s perceived strength, that being her experience in politics, ended up being a negative because she couldn’t get out from who she got the experience from, Gov. Chris Christie.

Still, while the gubernatorial race did not break New Jersey’s record for the most expensive in history, there is still a good chance that the overall spending on legislative races will shatter election records.(tncms-asset)7419404c-d4af-11e7-a268-00163ec2aa77[2](/tncms-asset)

Going into the election, reports from ELEC already suggested spending by special-interest groups had hit a new all-time high, with much of that spent in South Jersey.

The final reports on spending in the legislative races should be available within the next week.

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway  

Street Fair organizer Michael Einwechter, of Ventnor, and Amazing Ventnor volunteers Jessica Forslund, of Somers Point, and Colin Fuentes, of Ventnor.