A weekly update of stories previously reported

Four years ago: Woman found dead at Sea Isle Polar Bear Plunge

The polar bear plunge in Sea Isle City is an annual tradition that brings tens of thousands of people to the shore during the off-season.

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But, as the event continues, there are reminders of a tragedy that occurred there four years ago.

On Feb. 15, 2009, Tracy Hottenstein, 35, a marathon runner and pharmaceutical saleswoman from Conshohocken, Pa., was found lying on her back along the muddy banks of the 42nd Place bay by a fisherman.

Cape May County Prosecutor Robert Taylor said the county’s Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death was an accident, and the office does not have an active criminal investigation on the incident.

But at last month’s plunge, the office had its command truck at the festivities to interview people visiting for the weekend who may have seen something back in 2009.

“Officers (were there) to see if we could develop additional information to fill in some of the gaps as to what happened,” he said. “We did not receive any new information as hoped.”

The incident is also a legal matter, as Hottenstein’s family is suing the emergency workers that responded, claiming they did not do enough to resuscitate her.

Their Philadelphia based attorney, Lynanne Westcott, said the case is still in the discovery phase with expert reports being prepared.

Nine months ago: Church waits to rebuild following fire

Congregants of the 104-year-old Church of the Redeemer in Longport eagerly are anticipating rebuilding the structure after it burned to the ground during last June’s derecho storm.

Plans for the project, however, have been delayed.

Tom Subranni, chairman of the church’s board of trustees, said the start of construction — originally planned for Feb. 4 — was held up because an electric line is too close to the proposed bell tower.

“We don’t have a date yet for groundbreaking because we don’t know how many feet we’ll have to move (the building),” he said.

The new church will be built as close to the original design as possible. Subranni said contracts already have been signed for other components of the new church, such as the stained glass windows.

The church’s architect has assured the congregation that construction won’t be impacted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s new flood-elevation maps, he said.

Six months ago: Northfield school still without funds for mold

The school year in Northfield started a few weeks later than originally expected because mold in the Community School building caused a delay.

In order to pay the nearly $400,000 cost of cleanup, the school district placed a freeze on supply orders, including pencils, paper, glue and other classroom items.

Superintendent Janice DeCicco Fipp said the district and others affected by mold this year — including Somers Point and Pleasantville — are in constant dialogue with the insurance companies to find out how much of the cleanup cost will be reimbursed.

“The requests for reimbursement for all involved are going through channels of review and we will hear when that is complete,” she said. “We have maintained our freeze as of September. The bulk of supplies and other items for this school year had been ordered as of July 1, so we are working with what is needed.”

Staff Writer Wallace McKelvey contributed to this report.

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