RUMSON: MAN INDICTED IN OVERDOSE DEATH

oxford rumson 2 011214.JPGRumson officials said they learned that Oxford House had created the recovery home at 61 South Ward Avenue only after a resident’s death there. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03An Avon-by-the-Sea man has been indicted for the overdose death of a resident of Rumson’s Oxford House addiction recovery facility, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni announced Monday.

Michael Renna, 26 of Sylvania Avenue,  faces two counts arising from the October 2013 death of 25-year-old Christopher L. Pesce, according to Gramiccioni.

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RUMSON: MAN CHARGED IN OXFORD O.D.

oxford rumson 2 011214.JPGThe overdose death of an Oxford House resident has resulted in charges against a man described by authorities as an acquaintance.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

An Avon-by-the-Sea man has been charged for allegedly supplying the heroin that led to the overdose death of a resident of Rumson’s Oxford House rehab facility last October, the Monmouth County Prosecutor announced Tuesday.

Michael Renna, 25, was charged with one count of first degree strict liability for a drug-induced death and one count of third-degree distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said in a prepared statement.

News about the death of 25-year-old Christopher Pesce was the first that word that nearby residents had that the recovery residence had opened two months earlier in their residential corner of Rumson, and ignited a firestorm of objections.

It also led to a pair of countervailing lawsuits by the borough and Oxford House, litigation that now appears to be close to settlement.

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RUMSON: OXFORD HOUSE FILES FEDERAL SUIT

oxford rumson 1 011214Oxford House says in a court filing that the group home at 61 South Ward Avenue is getting new residents. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Oxford House has gone on the legal offensive against Rumson.

The parent organization of the embattled group home for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts filed a federal lawsuit against the borough on Friday, alleging discrimination in violation of fair housing and Americans with Disabilities laws.

The suit claims the town and borough Administrator Tom Rogers “have interfered with operation and occupancy” of the residence in the aftermath of two drug overdoses at the house since it opened in August – one resulting of the death of a 25-year-old Holmdel man in October, and the second in December, in which a resident required emergency treatment.

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RUMSON: ALL QUIET AT OXFORD HOUSE

oxford rumson 2 011214.JPGThe manager of Oxford Houses for New Jersey says the Rumson group home is still occupied, but declines to say if there’s a proctor on site. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rumson officials failed in their attempt to get a court order forcing a group home for recovering addicts to be vacated. But they appear to have effectively gotten what they wanted:
an empty Oxford House.

Or have they?

Contrary to the impressions of town officials and some neighbors, “it’s not vacant,” according to George Kent, who manages the house, at 61 South Ward Avenue, for the nonprofit Oxford House.

If it’s not vacant, tid Oxford follow through on a purported plan to change the facility from all-male to one for women and children?

“All I can say is nothing’s changed,” Kent told redbankgreen last week. “There’s people living there.”

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RUMSON: OXFORD WAS TO GO FEMALE

61 so ward rumson 101413The house at 61 South Ward Avenue has been occupied by Oxford House since August. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Officials overseeing Rumson’s Oxford House were planning to turn the four-month-old addiction recovery facility for men into one serving addicted women and their children by the end of the year, redbankgreen has learned.

What will become of that plan is unclear, however, in the aftermath of a purported second drug overdose at the house in nine weeks and the filing of a borough lawsuit that slams Oxford House as a failure on its own terms and a danger to the neighborhood.

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RUMSON: APPARENT OD SPARKS LEGAL ACTION

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_02Rumson officials have launched an effort to evict the residents of an addiction-recovery house following what Mayor John Ekdahl called an apparent drug overdose there early Tuesday morning.

Ekdahl said the town filed suit in Superior Court in Freehold Tuesday afternoon asking for an order that Oxford House residents, at 61 South Ward Avenue, clear out immediately, and that Oxford be barred from using it as a home for drug addicts and alcoholics.

The action follows the overdose death of an Oxford House resident on October 13 and a medical emergency involving another resident shortly before dawn on Tuesday.

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RUMSON: OXFORD HOUSE REACHES OUT

61 so ward rumson 101413“Not the best mix” of residents formed the initial population at the Oxford House when it opened in Rumson in August, a facility official told neighbors Tuesday night. One of the residents died of a drug overdose. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_02The addiction-recovery residence that popped up unannounced in a quiet Rumson neighborhood this summer “did not get off to a good start,” an official with the organization that sponsors the facility told residents Tuesday night.

“We haven’t been good neighbors,” said George Kent, a regional manager with Oxford House, “and I take full responsibility for that.”

Standing at a lectern in the nave of St. George’s by the River Episcopal Church just a block from the Oxford House on South Ward Avenue, Kent fielded sometimes hostile questions from about 40 residents of the West Park neighborhood, hoping to establish a dialogue in the aftermath of a drug overdose death at the house.

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RUMSON: LATE WRITE-IN PUSH FALLS SHORT

Election_2013_Plain

By JOHN T. WARD

An eleventh-hour write-in campaign for Rumson council ended with a pair of soccer dads missing their goal but feeling they’d scored some points Tuesday.

Tim McCooey and Tom Ridgway, running under the banner of Rumson Family since launching their campaign less than two weeks ago, polled a combined 1,445 votes, compared to incumbent Republican Joe Hemphill, with 1,176, and zoning board member Laura Atwell, also a Republican, with 1,143, according to unofficial tallies posted by the Monmouth County Clerk’s office.

Inspired in part by what they saw as an insufficient response by the current administration to the sudden appearance in town of Oxford House, a drug-and-alcohol recovery home that was the scene of a drug fatality on October 13, McCooey and Ridgway hastily built a campaign that they said would live on, win or lose.

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RUMSON: WRITE-IN DRIVE HEATS UP ELECTION

rumson writein 110313A write-in campaign for two candidates billing themselves as the Rumson Family ticket emerged in the wake of the Oxford House controversy last month. Below, Tim McCooey at the October 22 borough council meeting, the night before he became a candidate. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

tim mccooey 102213If the trend over the past century holds on Election Day, Rumson will seat an all-Republican borough council in January.

Ah, but which Republicans?

In a development that may add drama to Rumson’s usual election-night snoozer, two political newcomers have mounted an eleventh-hour write-in campaign, hoping to harness what they say is frustration with their party’s incumbents.

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RUMSON: OXFORD REHAB HOUSE SPARKS IRE

rumson council 102213An overflow crowd jammed Rumson’s council chambers to air concerns about an addiction recovery house in town. Below, Barbara Russell returns to her seat after speaking with borough Attorney Marty Barger. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

barger russell 102213Rumson residents packed a borough meeting Tuesday night to demand action regarding Oxford House, an addiction-recovery residence where a tenant died of a suspected drug overdose 10 days ago.

Seated on the floor and standing in the hallway outside the bimonthly meeting of the town’s governing body, neighbors teed up Oxford House for setting up a residence at 61 South Ward Avenue without notice and for a self-governance model they say isn’t working.

“They’re sitting on the porch and they are drinking,” in violation of Oxford’s own bylaws governing locally chartered houses, Washington Avenue resident Barbara Russell said of the house’s nine residents.

Having recently completed alcohol and drug treatment programs and then allowed to live together without supervision, Oxford’s young clients are naturally “going to come out and have a party,” said Russell, who described herself as a recovering alcoholic for 26 years.

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RUMSON: REHAB HOUSE FOCUS OF COMPLAINTS

61 so ward rumson 101413The Rumson house where a man was found dead of a suspected drug overdose Sunday quietly became an addiction recovery residence in August, neighbors say. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Nestled in a quiet Rumson neighborhood still recovering from floodwaters that tore through a year ago, the grey house at the corner of South Ward and Washington avenues stands out, towering over its neighbors.

It also stands out as the subject of complaints to the police.

“They party all the time,” a neighbor who asked not to be identified said of the home’s occupants. “They are up all night. Partying on the front porch. Running through the neighborhood.”

Sunday evening, though, the police were at the house for another reason: looking into the death of one of its residents from a purported drug overdose.

To the surprise of many in this affluent community, the house turns be a drug- and alcohol-rehab residence.

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