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Sexual Assault Charges Against an Oakhurst Man, More Possible Cuts to the Lakewood School District Budget, and other big stories in today’s news for Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

A legislative committee is getting input on affordability and other higher education issues. A hearing today will discuss a package of 20 bills focused on higher education. One measure that students and parents may favor would freeze tuition rates for new students for 9 semesters. so they would know before they enroll how much college would cost through graduation. Another bill focused on college costs would allow NJ residents to deduct interest for college loans on their income tax forms.

Hit-and-run boaters would face the same penalties as motorists under proposed legislation approved by a NJ assembly committee. Leaving the scene of a boating accident would be a second degree crime punishable by prison time and fines. Violators also would face stiffer penalties for failing to help victims. Boating laws continue trying to catch up with motor vehicle laws, including operating a vessel while impaired. The legislation was introduced in response to a 2008 fatal hit-and-run boating accident in the Barnegat Bay. It’s now headed to the assembly floor for a vote.

An Oakhurst man faces sexual assault charges after allegedly hooking up with a 14-year old girl in his home. 22-year old Paul Ashton the second was arrested Monday by members of the US Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force after the mother of the teen filed a complaint. Ashton is in the Monmouth County jail on $500,000 bail.

The state monitor sent in to help the troubled Lakewood School District has overruled the school board and implemented an tighter budget that could mean program cuts and layoffs. The district is dealing with a $5 million dollar deficit. But despite that, the school board members had still voted to increase spending.

Joseph Veni could be removed as commissioner of the Brick Township MUA as fallout continues over explicit emails he allegedly sent from Ocean County government computers. The Freeholder Board ended a consulting contract with a company Veni owns last week.

A former NJ transit supervisor from Jackson faces up to 10 years in prison for admitting she accepted a bribe to help a Lakewood company get a snow removal contract. Donna Schiereck pleaded guilty yesterday to accepting $8,000 and a free power washing for her home.

A local woman is accused of obtaining thousands in FEMA funding after filing fraudulent applications for Sandy recovery funding. Debra Weigman of Bayville is among 8 homeowners charged with Sandy fraud since March.

An Oakhurst man faces a host of charges for a month-long car burglary spree in 3 municipalities. Matthew Murphy was taken into custody by Ocean Township police after detectives said their investigation of unlocked vehicle thefts in Ocean Township, West Long Branch, and Eatontown led right to him. He’s in the Monmouth County Jail on $5,000 bail.

Monday’s brush fire that raced through an acre of land in Ocean Township remains under investigation. Police say that several teens were seen rushing from the area on Clearview Drive just before it was reported. Police are looking for witnesses.

The brutal winter has taken a toll on the drinking water of many area households. With so much salt spread on our roadways over the past few months, much of the runoff made its way into our reservoirs. The sodium levels in drinking water are anywhere from 3 – 4 times greater than the summer average. For most customers, nothing needs to be done, and consumption is fine. But those on a sodium-restricted diet may want to speak with their personal physician.

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