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‘I feel like I’m on borrowed time,’ April Kauffman said on radio before her killing

Radio host, entrepreneur and veterans advocate April Kauffman was found shot in her Linwood home May 10, 2012. On her radio show the day before she was killed, she talked about her own death and said she was proud of raising her daughter with the right values.

The day before she died in 2012, April Kauffman appeared on the King Arthur Radio Show for a veterans show she had done for the past three years and talked about her death.

“I feel like I’m on borrowed time,” Kauffman told co-host King Arthur Gropper, of Atlantic City, before giving a heartfelt tribute to her daughter, Kimberly Pack.

In light of the recent charges against Kauffman’s husband in her death, the recording of that show will be played throughout the morning Saturday on WIBG 101.3 FM and 1020 AM during Groper’s 6 a.m. to noon broadcast.

“And now, if I were to be taken out, I’m telling you going up to see our creator, I know I raised my daughter right with the right American values. You know, she’s moral, she’s a good person, a hard worker, a patriotic person, and that did not happen by a government program,” Kauffman continued, according to the transcript from that day’s show.

On Tuesday, more than five years after she was found shot to death in her Linwood home, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner announced Dr. James Kauffman, 68, and a Pagan co-conspirator, Ferdinand Augello, 61, of the Petersburg section of Upper Township, were being charged in April Kauffman’s murder-for-hire, as well as running an opioid drug ring out of Dr. Kauffman’s medical office in Egg Harbor Township.

Tyner said it was April Kauffman’s threat of divorce and of exposing Dr. Kauffman’s illegal activity that prompted him to ask Augello to find someone to murder his wife. In their case against the men, the Prosecutor’s Office names the now-deceased Francis Mulholland, of the Villas section of Lower Township, a Pagan associate, as the trigger man.

Gropper said the news of the murder charges brought back a flood of feelings.

“People speculated about what had happened for such a long time, and to get a picture of it was actually quite numbing,” Gropper said. “Tuesday felt like to me the day that April was murdered again.”

Although there were many rumors at the time, Gropper said he was surprised by Dr. Kauffman’s alleged involvement. He said Dr. Kauffman would often fill in on the radio show for his wife when she was unable to attend.

“Jim was always very low-key,” he said. “I never saw him get angry. It’s really shocking to me what transpired.”

Gropper’s Saturday broadcast will include replaying much of April’s last show from May 9, 2012, during the first hour. From 7 to 9:30 a.m. will be a mixture of regular programming, followed by an interview with former Republican gubernatorial candidate Joseph Rudy Rullo at 9:30 a.m. According to Gropper, Rullo has always believed Dr. Kauffman was responsible for April’s death.

The show will also include discussion of the murder and charges against Dr. Kauffman.

Gropper said in the 68 months since April Kauffman’s killing, he has remained diligent. On the 10th of every month, Gropper has asked his followers on social media and on the radio to call the Prosecutor’s Office and ask if officials had any information about April’s death.

Gropper said that looking back at that last show, it seemed like April knew something bad was going to happen.

“We had a great sense of humor about everything, so I didn’t really think much of it,” Gropper said.

Gropper co-hosted with April Kauffman for three years.

“I talked to her almost every day,” he said. “She was just with veterans and with everything, she was just a whirlwind.”

He said there was “so much life in her voice” and that many people would call the show to thank her for her advocacy work. Replaying the show, he said, is a good tribute to April.

Those with memories of April can call into the show at 609-398-1020.

Replacing aging housing stock key to Atlantic City growth

ATLANTIC CITY — At the corner of North New York and Adriatic avenues sits a group of eight small apartments that are more than 100 years old, more than twice the national average age for a home.

The property is emblematic of a larger issue facing the resort as it looks to rebound from years of casino closings and job losses: the age of the city housing stock.

While other towns on Absecon Island have seen their housing constantly updated through teardowns and redevelopment, Atlantic City housing has remained largely the same over the past 60 years.

“Most of the city housing stock hasn’t been updated since the post-World War II building boom,” said Bryant Simon, a Temple University professor and author of “Boardwalk of Dreams: Atlantic City and the Fate of Urban America.”

“Like many, the city trusted the private sector to take care of the situation, and it did not,” he said.

However, officials hope the opening of several high-profile projects, including the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City and the Ocean Resort Casino at the former Revel site, will create a demand — and in turn lead to a supply — for new market-rate housing in the resort.

Updating the city’s housing has become a focus, as the city looks to rebound from a decade of economic struggle. A 2016 report by the city’s Planning Department stated that creating a market rate and home ownership should be a priority and would benefit the local economy.

“Vacation/second homes, live/work lofts, casino and healthcare workforce housing, single and duplex residential on vacant lots, and owners’ and renters’ apartments above stores are recommended to diversify the housing options and costs,” the report said. “The encouragement and possible subsidy through land donations, tax abatements or low-interest construction loans or mortgages can be considered to jump start interest in the Atlantic City housing market by households that can help to balance the economy.”

When casino gaming was approved more than 40 years ago, it was touted as a way to improve the resort, however, it failed to bring additional housing, Simon said.

“The casinos created two major voids. First, they bought up property, and then no one really wants to live next to a casino. The parking lots, the noise, the lights — it’s a mess,” Simon said. “Also, there has always been a lack of planning in Atlantic City.”

The lack of high-paying jobs has also held back the development of new housing in the city, according to the report.

“A discussion of housing must acknowledge the excessive and disproportionate number of low-paying service-industry jobs that make it difficult for the housing stock to be renovated and replaced,” the report said. “A correlation also exists between educational opportunities, well-paying jobs and decent housing stock. Any effort to develop higher-paying jobs in the city, and improve education, would contribute to the demand for housing by a variety of income levels.”

The housing stock is expected to get a much-needed boost in the summer when The Beach at South Inlet opens. The project is the city’s first market-rate development in at least 25 years, Mayor Frank Gilliam said. The $81 million residential complex, which will feature 250 apartments, will help rejuvenate the city’s aging housing.

“An updated housing stock is something that every city needs,” Gilliam said. “Attracting people to the city is critical to keeping it alive.”

The opening of Hard Rock’s new property next summer at the site of the former Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort and the possible reopening of the former Revel makes the area attractive to potential residents, said Wasseem Boraie, vice president of Boraie Development LLC, the developer of the Beach at South Inlet project.

Hard Rock International and investors Jack Morris and Joe Jingoli are spending more than $500 million renovating and rebranding the property. The project is expected to generate more than 1,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs, according to the company.

“There are going to be a lot of young people who want to be here,” Boraie said. “We keep hearing about Revel reopening, you see the great investment that Hard Rock International is making in their property, now you are going to have 5,000 jobs that weren’t here when we started.”

Three major sports events coming this year to A.C.'s Boardwalk Hall

ATLANTIC CITY — The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority is into the sports market in a major way this year, with three major events to be based in Boardwalk Hall.

The Professional Bull Riders tour, Division I men’s college basketball and a Bear Grylls survival challenge will come between September and December, the CRDA announced Friday.

The events are a result of an alliance started last year between the CRDA and IMG, a global sports, events and talent-management company.

“We were really looking for some different types of events and also destination events, events that you don’t have an opportunity to see anywhere else in the region necessarily, that are going to bring people in from a larger radius,” Chris Howard, the CRDA’s executive director, said in a phone interview Friday.

Friday’s announcement comes on top of it becoming public last week that the unique auto-racing series known as Red Bull Global Rallycross will make its only stop in the eastern part of the country with Rounds 8 and 9 of the 12-round schedule coming Aug. 25 and 26 at Bader Field.

Boardwalk Hall General Manager Jim Wynkoop confirmed last month the city is one of four finalists to host the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, or MAAC, men’s and women’s basketball tournaments starting in 2020.

Big-time college basketball was last at the hall between 2007 and 2012, when the Atlantic 10 Tournament used the venue as one of its sites.

In 2010 and 2011, the hall hosted the two-day Legends Classic tournament, featuring four Division I men’s teams.

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Holiday Hoop-La College Basketball Quadruple-Header will probably feature some local teams, but also teams a person is not going to have a chance to see anywhere in the area, Howard said.

The Professional Bull Riders Tour was last held in the hall in 2003.

The PBR has increased in popularity since it was last at the hall, Howard said.

“This time around, there aren’t really any other opportunities in the region to see PBR. Last time, the routing was a little bit different. This time, there is a much bigger draw potentially because of the routing not coming through the area,” Howard said. “Everybody in the region that wants to see PBR, now they have one place to see it, and it’s in Boardwalk Hall.

The three new events and their dates are:

The 25th PBR: Unleash the Beast, Sept. 14-16 at Boardwalk Hall, 2301 Boardwalk.

Professional Bull Riders event includes two nights of showcase bull-riding competition and live music. It will be broadcast nationally through PBR’s partnership with CBS Sports.

Bear Grylls Survival Challenge, Oct. 12-14 throughout Atlantic City, with headquarters at Boardwalk Hall.

The Bear Grylls Survival Challenge is an outdoor competitive survival experience inspired by the encounters and skills of Grylls.

This event — the second in a worldwide Challenge Series — will take place throughout Atlantic City’s landmarkw, including the Boardwalk, the beach/surf and historic buildings. The event includes two days of competition and a survival trade expo.

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Holiday Hoop-La College Basketball Quadruple-Header on Dec. 15 at Boardwalk Hall.

College basketball returns to Boardwalk Hall’s arena with eight top Division I men’s teams competing on the hardwood. This will be part of the Hoop Hall’s national series of college events, which last year included stops at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut and the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Jeffries Tower residents could be displaced for weeks, housing authority says

ATLANTIC CITY — More than 300 residents displaced from a fire at Jeffries Tower last week could be looking at another several weeks until they get back home.

Housing Authority Executive Director Tom Hannon said Friday that while Calvi Electric Co. has been doing repairs to have the power restored by Tuesday, environmental testing needs to be done before they can safely let people back in the building, he said.

“No one anticipated this,” Hannon said. “When an event like this happens, in addition to getting them sheltered, we need to make sure they get meals and health care needs taken care of.”

The Charles P. Jeffries Tower Senior Apartments sustained smoke and electrical damage during the Jan. 4 blaze. The authority must make sure the building is 100 percent cleared before residents can move back in, and the environmental cleanup could take anywhere between seven and 21 days, he said.

Mayor Frank Gilliam, who was at the scene the night of the fire, said he’s grateful there are partners in the city to help make the process away from home less tedious, while it’s longer than anticipated.

“I know some of the folks are anxious to get home,” Gilliam said Friday. “But there was something significant that happened in their building. We want to make sure their safety is first.”

The fire erupted during last week’s blizzard. The Atlantic City Fire Department had firefighters carrying some of the 300 residents — many of whom were elderly and disabled — out of the 17-story building to ice, snow and sub-zero temperatures.

Fire Chief Scott Evans said Friday the cause of the fire and its origin are still under investigation.

The night of the fire, about 210 of the residents were placed at city hotels, including the Flagship Resort, Showboat Atlantic City, Harrah’s Resort and the Travelodge Atlantic City on the White Horse Pike, Hannon said. An additional 100 people are staying with family or friends.

On Friday, Hannon said the residents placed in Harrah’s were moved to the Courtyard Marriot and the Baymont Inn and Suites. There’s a list of six other hotels who said they would provide rooms if needed, he said.

The whole process is coming at a cost to the Housing Authority and its insurance, Hannon said. As of now, the rooms are covered by insurance, but the authority would have to cover additional costs as the time extends, he said.

“It’s a lot of residents. It’s a lot of rooms,” he said. “The primary concern right now is making sure we can keep them housed as much as we can.”

The American Red Cross helped provide emergency financial assistance for 222 residents in the incident, while the Housing Authority took care of the lodging and meals, said Diane Concannon, communications director for the American Red Cross New Jersey region.

Hannon said between 35 and 50 authority workers at a time are working from 7 a.m. to about 10 p.m. doing twice-daily checks and providing meals for residents. The authority is also arranging access to transportation if the clients need it for medical reasons, he said.

Ricky Williamson, who lived on the eighth floor of Jeffries Tower, is now staying at Showboat. While he said it’s more inconvenient than home, the Housing Authority employees are in touch with him daily to make sure he has food to eat, he said.

“I’m alive,” said Williamson, 44. “It’s been hard for people who are disabled who depend on people who take care of them.”