News from Ocean & Monmouth counties and around New Jersey.

STAFFORD - Watch for closures on Route 72 in Stafford near the Parkway through mid-May. State transportation officials today disclosed that Parkway bridge construction over the highway will force daily single-lane restrictions between 8PM and 6AM, and shoulder closures between 8AM and 4PM. They'll suspend work during summer. The project continues into 2014.

BERKELEY- The Berkeley Township council returns to its full seven-member strength. Reports say James Byrnes and Kevin Askew were appointed Tuesday. Byrnes replaces departing Councilwoman Karen Davis and Askew fills the seat left by new Mayor Carmen Amato.

TRENTON  (AP) -- Beach bars, amusement parks and carnival rides in New Jersey can make some noise. Gov. Chris Christie has signed into law a bill that exempts the establishments from rules that restricted noise levels between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. The bill's sponsors say the exemption was needed to shield older boardwalk businesses from complaints from residents of new developments. The bill only applies to existing amusement parks.

FORKED RIVER - Coastal evacuations get streamlined and enhanced under a bill now enacted by Governor Chris Christie. The measure by State Senator Chris Connors and Assembly members Brian Rumpf and DiAnne Gove (R-9) requires annual public awareness campaigns, a special-needs registry and lane reversal provisions for the Garden State Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway. Both toll highways were ordered to keep lanes leading away from the coast in operation during Tropical Storm Irene, but opposite lanes were closed completely. The New Jersey State Police and Office of Emergency Management will coordinate their efforts with shore-based local and county officials.

BERKELEY TOWNSHIP - The Township Council returns to its full seven-member strength with two appointments this week. James Byrnes was tabbed Tuesday to fill the post being vacated by Councilwoman Karen Davis. She's cited health reasons in her decision to leave the Council. Kevin Askew replaces former Councilman Carmen Amato - the township's new Mayor.

TRENTON - Two state bills aimed at boosting New Jersey's horse racing sector get Governor Chris Christie's signature. One, sponsored by shore-based State Senator Jennifer Beck (R-11) creates a pilot program to permit racing wagers in bars and restaurants. The other extends the deadline to issue the state's remaining off-track wagering licenses.

ATLANTIC CITY - A 14-year-old who sat in at a Tropicana gaming table last year now costs the resort $27,500 in fines. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement dunned the casino operators &17,500 for letting the teen gamble, and another $10,000 for violating the rules of Spanish 21, a variation of blackjack.

TRENTON - The battle against the rising tide of prescription drug abuse gets reinforcement from New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa. The New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program has been in effect since last September and now has more than 4,000,000 issued prescriptions on file. It creates an ongoing database to track the sale and dispersal of high-risk drugs within New Jersey or entering the state from elsewhere. Illegal use of the confidental data by patients can result in fines. Pharmacists and practitioners also risk discipline by the state licensing board.

BARNEGAT - An elementary school in Barnegat, that's been shuttered since September due to mold, will be re-opening next week. Students at the Cecil S. Collins school will be returning to the building next Monday. Over 300 students and teachers have been attending classes in buildings throughout the district. The building was given a clean bill of health in December following a mold remediation project.

TOMS RIVER - Jury selection began yesterday in the murder trial of a man charged with gunning down a Lakewood police officer as he sat in his police cruiser last year. Ocean County Prosecutors say Jahmell Crockam shot patrolman Christopher Matlosz after the officer drove up alongside him on a Lakewood street last january.

TRENTON - Shore Assemblyman Dave Rible steps up to GOP conference leader. The Wall native replaces Assemblyman Jon Bramnick of Westfield who was elected as the new leader of the state Assembly following last week’s death of Assemblyman Alex DeCroce.

MIDDLETOWN - Law inforcement officials are investigating the death of a man who died in a single-car crash on Route 36 south in Middletown. The Toyota Camry overturned in front of the Independent Fire Company just north of Main Street at around 11 a.m. tuesday. His name is not being released pending family notification.

MANASQUAN - The two Rangers fans who were beaten in Philadelphia after this month's Winter Classic against the Flyers are getting some TLC from a Manasquan businessman. Neal Auricchio Junior and Michael Janocko will be the guests of Trinity Financial founder Peter Grandich for the February 12th Rangers game - in the private suite Grandich shares with ex-Rangers Nick Fotiu and Ron Greschner.

BURLINGTON - Parents in Burlington County can learn how to recognize and combat the threat of gang infiltration on their kids during a seminar tomorrow in mouth holly. Burlington County Sheriff's officers John Zell and Dominick Fabrizio lead the free noontime discussion in the courts facility on Rancocas Road.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The South Jersey man accused of attacking an off-duty cop and Iraq veteran after the Rangers-Flyers Winter Classic January 2 has had his bail quadrupled. A Philadelphia judge today raised Dennis Veteri's bail to $400,000. Veteri was arrested last week.

STAFFORD - Watch for closures on Route 72 near the Garden State Parkway through mid-May. New Jersey Transportation Department officials today disclosed that Parkway bridge construction over the highway will force daily single-lane restrictions from 8 PM until 6 AM, and shoulder closures between 8 AM and 4 PM. Work will be suspended during summer. The project rolls on into 2014.