WILDWOOD — On the sidewalk outside Fox Park across from Kelly's Cafe Monday morning, Maria Poalillo teared up when she spoke of Donald Trump.
"I'm so happy he's my president," said Poalillo, 64, of Totowa, Passaic County.
She had been camped there with her sister, Toni Patacco, 54, also of Totowa, since Sunday afternoon, making the pair some of the earliest arrivals for Tuesday evening's rally featuring the president and Representative Jeff Van Drew at the Wildwood Convention Center.
Just before Poalillo became choked up, cars flew by beeping their horns in recognition of their support, as the drivers pumped their fists out their windows. Poalillo and those around her howled and cheered in response.
“I can’t do this in Northern New Jersey, okay? Because they’ll smack me in the face,” she said. “Very Democratic. Nasty Democrats! Nasty! Mean."
Those supportive motorists honking their approval represent the general vibe in town since this weekend, Poalillo said.
“One finger. One guy gave us the finger," she said. "So out of 500 cars, one finger, that’s really good."
The sisters are holding their place in line with lawn chairs and making the most of the cold, long wait, all in the hopes of getting a good spot in tomorrow's rally. The Convention Center holds some 7,500 people, but Van Drew has said around 100,000 tickets have been given out.
In other words, admittance is by no means guaranteed, and the scene in town Monday showed the diehards are willing to do what it takes to see the president they have spent years supporting.
Sympathetic people in town have brought coffee, donuts and hot dogs to sustain those settled in for the long haul. But for the most part, it's the camaraderie of passersby who also love Trump that is keeping them going.
It was about 45 degrees in town as workers hustled around the Convention Center making last minute preparations. Landscapers trimmed and cut the lawn and fences were up in the parking lot ready to corral attendees snaking their way to the rally. Porta potties and vendor trucks were stationed at the ready for the crowd of thousands on the horizon.
Across from the Convention Center, the owner of the Oceanic Hotel is capitalizing on the incoming crowds, an unusual opportunity for businesses in the seaside city in the middle of winter.
They are not renting rooms, as it would cost too much to get the water on, said general manager Mike DiDomenico. But they are opening their bar and kitchen, and are selling t-shirts and other memorabilia in the lobby. Red, white and blue lights were installed outside and Trump flags flew above pro-Trump gear for sale on the sidewalk. Prep for the crowds began about a week and a half ago, said owner Paul Chiolo.
Supporters have been trickling in and trucks have sped by honking their support. After 32 years in the city, Chiolo couldn't recall an event in the offseason that brought as many people as the Trump rally.
"We didn't open officially until yesterday but it hasn't really stopped since," Chiolo said. "And even this morning — we've been here since about 6:30 (a.m.) — and as I'm watching the time go by it's more and more people ... are coming in."
The first person in line, Gaetano "Duke" Reale, of Galloway, got in line at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Him and his party have taken turns watching over the seats and warming up in the car.
"This country loves this president, okay? And we just all support him. We don't like how he's being harrassed by the media. ... We don't care if he gets impeached ten times, we're gonna pull the handle on November 3 for this man, okay? So everybody's gotta get on the Trump train, it's that simple," Reale said. "We're all here because we love America, we believe in America. We're gonna live free and we're gonna stay free. Trump 2020. That's my slogan. Live free, stay free, okay?"
Sharon DeMayo, 48, of Sicklerville, got to the sidewalk at Fox Park around 9 a.m. She and her friend, Christine Doberstein, 50, of Franklinville, brought a ton of quilts to get through the night ahead.
"It's great. Everybody's been nice. Everybody's helping each other out and keeping places in line," DeMayo said. "I'm a little worried about overnight but we're parked not that far away so we're gonna be switching, sleeping in the car, taking a nap, getting warm."
GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — The state will restrict building in flood prone areas as it works to become a a 100 percent clean energy state by 2050, in response to climate change and rising sea levels.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced the state’s new Energy Master Plan at Stockton University on Monday, and signed an executive order to change the way the state regulates energy and construction.
Clean energy will include nuclear power, according to state spokespeople who conducted a technical call for the media before the governor’s news conference.
“We must heed the warnings science is giving us,” Murphy said of Rutgers University studies finding that sea level could rise as much as 1 foot by 2030, 2 feet by 2050 and 6 feet by 2100.
Sea level rise is already “eroding the shore economy,” Murphy said, with frequent flooding and damage to beaches. Further sea level rise is inevitable up to 2050, because of carbon already in the atmosphere. But changes made in emissions of greenhouse gases could lessen sea level rise in the second half of the century, he said.
“It’s hard for future generations to create Jersey Shore memories if the Jersey Shore itself becomes no more than a memory,” Murphy said.
The New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s Tom Gilbert called the plan a “game changer — a new direction from the previous administration that puts the state on exactly the right path we need to be on ... (moving) away from fossil fuels and towards building a clean energy future.”
Ed Potosnak, executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, praised the tighter building rules.
“Gov. Phil Murphy ... is putting New Jersey at the forefront of climate action by requiring developers to consider their environmental impact before they build,” Potosnak said.
But New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said the plan still consider some types of incineration and bio-gas as clean energy.
Tittel also said it will take so long for the regulations to be finalized, many fossil fuel projects currently in the planning stages may be built before the plans regulations are done.
PACT stands for Protect Against Climate Threats, and it will include drastically cutting emissions of greenhouse gasses and other climate pollutants, and transform land use and planning policies to adapt the state to threats from sea-level rise, extreme weather and chronic flooding.
Murphy said it’s important to wean ourselves from fossil fuels, for environmental and health reasons.
He said asthma rates are much higher in cities like Newark and Atlantic City, hitting minority communities hardest.
“In Atlantic County, the African American population is only 14 percent, but (that) population represents 42% of asthma-related emergency room visits,” Murphy said. “We’ve been too slow to change our ways.”
Murphy did not talk about the cost of the plan, and took no questions after his talk.
Patty Cronheim of Rethink Energy NJ said Rutgers is working on a report on costs.
But Murphy did say he believes it will help the economy.
“We are going to make New Jersey a place that proves you can grow the economy and create good jobs and wages — with overwhelmingly union jobs,” he said, while moving to a clean energy future.
New Jersey Business and Industry Association Vice President of Government Affairs Ray Cantor said costs are an issue.
“While the ambitious goals set forth in today’s announcement are laudable, we remain very concerned by the overall cost impacts to ratepayers and businesses in the execution of this plan — particularly as there has yet to be a ratepayer impact study,” Cantor said.
“Additionally, we question the feasibility and reliability of a rushed abandonment of the use of natural gas, an energy source that heats more than 75% of New Jersey’s homes and businesses, and generates more than 50% of our electricity,” Cantor said.
There will be stakeholder meetings during the regulatory development period, state spokespeople said.
Murphy said New Jersey is the first state to embark on such a large scale energy plan and rulemaking process.
MAYS LANDING — The detention hearing for a Margate man accused of beating his father, former professional baseball player Bobby Woods, with a golf club was postponed Monday after he was kept at the jail due to his mental health.
Robert T. Woods Jr., 45, who is charged with two counts of aggravated assault, endangering an injured victim, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and possession of a weapon, was slated to appear before Judge Donna M. Taylor in Atlantic County Superior Court.
However, he was not brought to the courthouse from the county jail due to medical issues, according to court staff.
Assistant Prosecutor Deirdre Laws, who represents the state in the matter, said that she was going to request a three-day postponement, “but we have since found out the defendant wasn’t able to be brought over due to some mental status issue.”
Taylor rescheduled the hearing for 9 a.m. Thursday.
“Judge, I’m ready for the hearing today,” said Mark Roddy, Woods Jr.’s lawyer. “I’ll be ready on Thursday.”
Officials allege Woods Jr. bludgeoned his father, 70-year-old Robert Woods Sr., in the head, neck and hands before leaving him in the city home they share.
Woods Sr. was taken to the AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Campus, to be treated for a fractured skull, bruising to the back, abrasions to the head and back and lacerations to the head, neck and hands.
City police said Friday that Woods Sr. was still in critical condition.
Ellen Ocasio, of Egg Harbor Township, said Friday she was shocked by the crime. Woods Sr. is her daughter’s batting coach, and she described him as a pillar of the community.
“Everybody knows the name Bobby Woods,” Ocasio said. “He’s just very thorough and very informative and explained every step. Her first high school game ever, her first time up, she hit her first inside-the-park home run.”
She described him as positive and friendly, adding that he’s also down-to-Earth and humble.
“Anybody that would want to do that to Bobby, it’s appalling,” Ocasio said. “My dad’s the same age. It’s just crazy.”
About 12:42 p.m. Tuesday, city police went to the home the father and son share in the first block of Bayside Court, after a report of an injured man, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
After sending Woods Sr. to the hospital for treatment, police recovered a bloody golf club and a bloodied pair of pants from the home, according to the affidavit.
The 911 caller told police the pants belonged to Woods Jr., who was arrested later that day.
Pam Walcoff, of Linwood, taught physical education with Woods Sr. for a decade at Slaybaugh Elementary School in Egg Harbor Township, she said.
“Bobby was just the nicest, nicest person in the world,” she said. “Never said a negative thing about anybody. Just would do anything to help you. Just an amazingly nice guy.
“Just praying for him and hoping he’s going to have a speedy recovery,” she said.
Woods Sr. grew up in the city, played shortstop and third base for the Chicago Cubs organization before returning to the area in the mid-1970s for coaching and clinics.
The father and son filmed an instructional DVD together, “Mom Can you Teach Me How to Hit?” filmed in New York’s Central Park. He also was a gym teacher in the Egg Harbor Township school district and ran a youth baseball camp.
Woods Jr. is being held in Atlantic County jail.