• Lt. Frank CulmoneLONGPORT – At its Feb. 25 regular meeting, the Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed to support Mayor Nicholas Russo’s recommendation of Lt. Frank Culmone as the next chief of police.

    Culmone will replace Police Chief Vincent Pacentrilli, who will retire April 1 after 29 years on the police force.

    Russo said Culmone has the two most important traits for a police officer – morals and ethics.

  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tuesday, Feb. 24 cancelled its bid solicitation to build sand dunes on the beaches of Margate and Longport.

    “Today, we notified the bidders that we are cancelling the solicitation,” said Steve Rochette, public affairs officer of the Army Corps Philadelphia District.

    The Army Corps had received two extensions to finalize the contract from two bidders vying for the job. The latest deadline to award the contract was Wednesday, Feb. 25.

  • MARGATE – A building boom in Margate should all but eliminate an increase in taxes this year, Chief Financial Officer Lisa McLaughlin reported at the Board of Commissioners work session on Feb. 5.

    It’s still under review, but a draft budget is complete and “I anticipate getting very close to a zero increase,” McLaughlin said.

    In her unaudited finance update, McLaughlin noted that the city increased ratables by more than $14 million, which brings the net taxable value of real estate in the city to $3,560,607,377.

  • VENTNOR – Ventnor Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association President Joe Iannuzzelli, backed by a dozen firefighters, attended the Board of Commissioners work session Wednesday, Feb. 11 at the Ventnor Educational Community Complex to ask whether a rumor he heard that the Ventnor and Atlantic City fire departments would merge is true.

    Mayor Michael Bagnell responded to his questions by saying that he is “just doing research” into the feasibility of merging the two departments.

  • Donna M. Peterson of Ventnor is the city’s new emergency management coordinator.VENTNOR – Since she was appointed Dec. 1 to lead the Office of Emergency Management, Donna M. Peterson has checked several items off her to-do list.She prioritized emergency responders as foremost for adequately protecting the city during the next big emergency event, improved technology and communication for first responding agencies and is working to finalize FEMA reimbursements from the last eight declared storms.

    “We’ve been very busy in a lot of different areas. I am trying to catch up on things, not just for myself, but for Ventnor City,” she said during an interview Friday, Feb. 6 at her office in City Hall.

  • MARGATE – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has obtained a second extension of the deadline to award a contract to build sand dunes in Margate and Longport.

    According to Edward C. Voight, chief of Public and Legislative Affairs for the Philadelphia office of the Army Corps of Engineers, the bidders have agreed to extend their bid offerings for one month. The new deadline is Feb. 25.

    Additionally, The Downbeach Current has learned that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has not filed eminent domain proceedings in state court to obtain the easements needed to build sand dunes in Margate.

Anne Leeds remembered at funeral Mass

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Hundreds wait in line to pay their respects to the family of Anne Leeds. Hundreds wait in line to pay their respects to the family of Anne Leeds. LONPORT – Hundreds of people turned out amid cloudy skies Thursday, June 5 to say goodbye to Anne Leeds, who was tragically killed in a plane crash that took the lives of all seven on board May 31 including her summertime neighbor, billionaire philanthropist Lewis Katz.

The line stretched around the block as people waited to pay their respects to the Leeds family. Before the Mass began, her husband, Longport Commissioner James Leeds Sr. stepped out of the church to greet those still waiting in line.

Anne T. Leeds Anne T. Leeds Leeds, 74, is the grandmother of nine and mother of four adult children, who paid her the highest tribute in their eulogies at a funeral Mass at Holy Trinity Parish, Church of the Epiphany in Longport.

The retired nursery school teacher grew up in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia and eventually married her lifeguard sweetheart.

She was devoted to children and joined Katz and two other friends at the last minute Saturday afternoon on a plane ride to Bedford, Mass., to attend an educational fundraiser at the home of historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Their return trip to Atlantic City International Airport never left the ground. Katz’s Gulfstream IV corporate jet crashed into a communication tower and landed in an embankment.

The explosion that followed took the lives of all seven souls on board, including Katz; Leeds; Marcella M. Dalsey, 59, of Haddonfield, president of the KATZ Academy Charter School; Susan Asbell, 68, of Cherry Hill and Margate. The three crew members killed in the crash were Pilot James McDowell of Georgetown, Delaware; flight attendant Teresa Benhoff, 48, of Easton, Maryland; and Co-pilot Bauke "Mike" de Vries, 45, of Marlton.

Each of her children said their mother epitomized the meaning of “love.”

Her son Jim read a prayer Anne Leeds wrote asking for blessings for the children she taught.

“Help us to be positive and responsible role models, sensitive to their particular needs for love, understanding and comfort in this often insensitive world,” Jim Leeds Jr. read.

Her daughter, Patellen Coor, encouraged those present to take something of her mother away from the church so that she lives on.

“There’s a lot to choose from: her humble faith, her great love for Christ, her giving spirit, her welcoming nature, infectious smile or her great sense of humor, her gratitude for all she had or her lifelong philosophy of ‘enough is a feast,’ her love of simplicity, her respect and deep devotion for children, her love for the written word, her unique ability to never say a bad word about another person or her unwavering love of her family. If you ever come across a piece of sea glass on the beach, you’ll know it’s a gift from her,” Coor said.

Ryan, 34, the youngest of the Leeds children, said he had a special bond with his mother and they had their favorite songs, which he said epitomized what was so special about her. One was “What a Wonderful World,” performed by Louis Armstrong.

“This song truly was my mom, because she was so happy and so humble. All around her, what she saw was God’s beauty in the faces of family and strangers,” he said. “To my mom, love was all that there was. She didn’t need a special occasion to love, she loved every day. Love was everything and my mom loved you all.”

Son Ted said he had the “best mother in the world,” who was always there for him and his siblings.

“When you think about how much love my mother gave in her life, whether to her kids, grandkids or someone walking down 36th (Avenue) with a peek from behind her book and a smile, that’s a love that she got back over her life. That’s something to think about as you go through your life. When it’s your time, when you’re lying in there, what’s going to be going through everyone’s mind who comes to see you? If you live your life with love, people are going to love you,” he said.

Ted Leeds said his mother was a “simple person. She didn’t need a lot to make her happy. She needed the love of her children, a good book, her daily walks on the beach. And, she loved to laugh…and Dad,” he said.

She also received high praise from her pastor.

“Anne was the cornerstone of Holy Trinity Parish,” who helped build the parish and revived Longport’s Blessing of the Sea tradition, Rev. Joseph R. Ferrara said.

Although her death was a tragedy, she was lifted up to perfection, and was a blessing to the parish, he said.

“Anne was the light, she was an angel of the Lord, she is a woman of faith,” Rev. Farrara said. “She was an expression of God.”

A private burial will be held at a later time.


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