News from Ocean & Monmouth counties and around New Jersey.

BEACHWOOD - Former Beachwood mayor Ron Jones is taking the borough to court. Jones tuesday filed a $400million tort claim based on comments he attributes to borough Councilman Gerry Lacrosse last November 14th. Jones claims that Lacrosse addressed a personal civil matter unrelated to his duties, causing jones distress, loss of income and loss of integrity.

HOWELL - Columns of smoke near Naval Weapons Station Earle should give you no cause for concern. Firefighters on the base are conducting controlled burns through March. Officials say they're trying to clear undergrowth that could pose risks later this year when hot, dry conditions raise the chances of forest fires. Most sites are near Route 34 in Howell and Colts Neck.

TOMS RIVER - Two Lakewood men are among four suspects rounded up in what Ocean County investigators are calling a murder-for-hire plot. Erich Williams, 54, of Newark, is charged with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Joaquin Gutierrez, 38, and Jesus Lerin-Diaz, 38, of Lakewood are charged with conspiracy along with Joseph Crotta, 55, of North Brunswick. County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford says that Lakewood and county investigators got a tip last week that Lerin-Diaz had solicited Gutierrez to scope out a potential victim in Irvington.  Detectives brought in Lerin-Diaz on February 8, then staked out the Freehold Raceway Mall two days later when he was to rendezvous with Williams. The Newark man was apprehended there, and Crotta a short time later. Guiterrez was brought in Tuesday. Lakewood, Freehold and New Jersey State Police also took part in the probe and arrests. Williams, Crotta and Lerin-Diaz are being held on $250,000 bail each. Gutierrez's bail was set at $50,000.

LONG BRANCH - A new poll finds new jersey voters don't like the idea of merging Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University into a new research university. The Rutgers-Eagleton poll finds 57 percent of voters oppose the merger plans, while 22 percent support it...the rest are unsure.

WASHINGTON D.C. - More federal funding heads to the Port Monmouth beach replenishment project. Congressman Frank Pallone announced that the project will be getting an additonal $2.9 million dollars in fiscal year 2012 that will enable the Army Corp Of Engineers to complete the work that begin in the fall.

WASHINGTON D.C. - State reps in Washington are working to prevent the closure of the NOAA Marine Fisheries Lab at Sandy Hook. After learning the president's new budget eliminates funding for the lab, Senators Frank Lautenberg, Robert Menendez and congressman frank Pallone issued a letter to the President highlighting the lab's importance and its contribution to a clean and sustainable ocean environment.

ATLANTIC CITY - An Egg Harbor woman charged with the fatal carjacking In Atlantic City's Taj Mahal is agreeing to plead guilty in return for a 30 year prison sentence. Jessica Kisby will also testify against Craig Arno, her boyfriend and co defendedant in the case. The pair were scheduled to go on trial in April for the 2010 for the murder of a North Bergen man in the casino's garage.

ATLANTIC CITY - Looks like it's neither sink or swim for another diving horse attraction in Atlantic City. The owner of the Steel Pier says he's dropping the plan to bring back the historic attraction after complaints from animal rights groups. The popular act was a mainstay of the pier from 20's all the way to the 70's.

BARNEGAT - Four Barnegat men suspected of drug dealing in the township await court hearings. Jonathan Decicco, James Ciani and Jason Somerville were charged with oxycodone possession. The pair were also charged with distribution during their arrest on the second. Less than a week later, Edward Jackson was charged with heroin and oxycodone possession after a two-month probe that led to a warrant search of his house.

ATLANTIC CITY - Roadwork at the east end of the Atlantic City Expressway may slow your ride tomorrow. Right-lane roadwork goes into place from the highway terminus north to the brigantine connector between eight-thirty a-m and two-thirty p-m. The connector tunnel stays open.

TRENTON - Shore state Senator Jim Holzapfel throws his support behind Governor Christie's proposal for tighter bail restrictions on violent criminals through a constitutional amendment. The former Ocean County Prosecutor sponsored the 1997 law that increased penalties for serious crimes committed on bail, and co-sponsored the no-early-release act requiring some offenders to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences before parole consideration.