Asbury Park, February 17, 2024 – New Jersey’s Premier Independent Film Festival is celebrating its 22ndAnniversary March 21 – 24.  The internationally recognized Garden State Film Festival (GSFF) celebrates the independent film genre by bringing a carefully curated and enriching selection of original works from locally produced filmmakers as well as from around the world.   “The upcoming 2024 Festival returns to experience 200 films from over 14 countries over four days in 8 venues hosting parties, professional panels, events, special honors and more,” says Lauren Concar Sheehy, the festival’s Executive Director.

The Garden State Film Festival offers several categories for films and filmmakers of all kinds.  Among the selection include feature length and short films, documentaries, comedies, children’s, thrillers, pilots, student films and “Home-Grown” films shot in NJ. The Garden State Film Festival is pleased to announce that the film Big Rusty directed by Mount Laurel resident, Ethan Davis, will screen at this year’s festival.  We hope you come out to cheer on our hometown heroes who have put so much time and talent into these productions.  

“We are extremely proud to present Big Rusty as a part of our 22nd Annual Film Festival, and to share this work with our global audience,” says Lauren Concar Sheehy, the festival’s Executive Director.

Big Rusty will screen on Saturday, March 23, 2024 at 9:15am at Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel, Kingsley Room in Asbury Park.

The film’s subject is: Two friends visit an abandoned building and find out they’re not alone.

You may contact the filmmaker by emailing them at

The entire GSFF program of this year’s selections will be presented in multiple venues in the Asbury Park area, with special events and screenings each night. A full day of screenings will also be presented at The Cranford Theater in Cranford, NJ on Saturday, March 23 starting at noon with the last screening ending at 10:15pm.  The film schedule indicates which films have subtitles available for universal-access for the hearing impaired. 

Founder Diane Raver said, “The GSFF is action-packed and there is something for everyone!  Come one, come all, it only happens once a year and we don’t want you to miss it.”  

Asbury Park highlights include the famous red-carpet Gala on Friday, March 22nd at the Asbury Lanes.  This event includes a cash bar cocktail reception and light fare with industry professionals, red carpet photos and a film screening starring Matthew Modine, John Cleese, Fiona Glascott, Derek Jacobi, Stuart Townsend in the feature drama The Martini Shot -a filmmaking reference to the last shot of a film shoot.  Tickets to this event are limited and are available on the website

Saturday and Sunday offer a schedule packed with films for every viewer, plus industry related workshops.  All events are open to the public.

The Garden State Film Festival offers a variety of ticket packages starting at $18.  For tickets and more information about this film and other programs, please visit

Burlington County and Burlington County Bridge Commission Continue to Offset Carbon Footprint with Second Annual Tree Planting Initiative

Palmyra, New Jersey – Demonstrating the ongoing commitment to sustainability and reducing Burlington County’s carbon footprint, the Burlington County Bridge Commission celebrated the successful completion of its second annual Tree Planting Initiative.

During the past two years, the Burlington County Bridge Commission has planted over 200 trees throughout Burlington County. These trees play an essential role in supporting local wildlife and the natural environment, preventing erosion, and regulating temperature and moisture.

“Burlington County is proud to be one of New Jersey’s greenest counties and this initiative to add hundreds more trees to our communities will further improve our county’s natural beauty and environment,” said Burlington County Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson, the liaison to the Bridge Commission and Department of Economic Development. “The Bridge Commission and its leadership deserve praise for their forward-thinking actions to create a clean, sustainable future for Burlington County’s residents, businesses and towns.”

“The Commission is committed to being a good environmental steward,” added Burlington County Bridge Commission Chairman Matt Riggins. “We are proud to partner with our municipalities to plant trees and make our communities more sustainable places.”

This fall, the Commission partnered with JMA Landscaping/Popes Garden to plant 100 trees in nine Burlington County municipalities: Bordentown City, Delanco, Florence, Hainesport, Medford, Mount Laurel, Riverton, Westampton, and Willingboro.

In 2022, the Commission partnered with Laurel Oak Garden Center to plant 100 trees in Evesham, Maple Shade, Moorestown, and Southampton. The Commission also continues to plant trees at their administration buildings in Palmyra and Burlington.

The trees are each approximately 5-feet tall and include a variety of different species, including crape myrtles, dogwoods, eastern red cedars, heritage birches, red oaks, river birches and sugar maples.

State Senator Troy Singleton applauded the Bridge Commission initiative, saying it benefits the county’s environment and residents’ quality of life.

“Trees are vitally important to our air quality, our water systems and our overall environment. They also provide a picturesque background that makes our communities more attractive and welcoming,” said Senator Singleton. “This initiative exemplifies the smart, innovative government we have in Burlington County. I thank the Bridge Commission’s leadership and staff for performing this outstanding service for our current and future residents.”

The Tree Planting Initiative is just one of the ways the Commission is working to reduce its environmental impact. The Commission also uses energy-efficient lighting and a fleet of hybrid vehicles.

The Bridge Commission also partners with the Burlington County Parks System to jointly manage the Palmyra Cove Nature Center, a 250-acre preserve along the Delaware River. The site was formerly a dumping ground for dredge spoils, but it is now hailed as an “urban oasis” because of its varied habitat and wildlife.

In 2021, the Bridge Commission opened a community garden at the park.  Residents from across the county help care for and maintain the garden and harvest some of the fresh vegetables and herbs grown there.

“We are always looking for new ways to reduce our environmental impact,” Chairman Riggins said. “We believe that it is important to be good stewards of the environment, and we are committed to doing our part to protect it.”

The Commission encourages municipalities across the county to apply to become a partner in the tree program again when it opens next spring.


Photo: During the past two years, the Burlington County Bridge Commission has planted over 200 trees throughout Burlington County as part of an initiative to promote sustainability and carbon reduction.


Burlington County Bridge Commission Department of Economic Development hosts first Business to Business Social

Palmyra, New Jersey – November 3, 2023 – On Thursday, October 12th, the Burlington County Bridge Commission’s Department of Economic Development hosted its first ever free business to business social at Ark Road Brewery in Lumberton.

Designed as an opportunity for both new and established businesses to come together to share ideas, network, and make connections, the social attracted close to eighty registrations and was attended by business members from across the county. Representatives from the Burlington County Chamber of Commerce, Rowan College at Burlington County, the New Jersey Business Action Center, the Workforce Development Board of Burlington County, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, and Public Service Enterprise Group were in attendance, as well as local and county government leaders.

“Networking is the key to unlocking new opportunities and possibilities,” said Economic Development Director Rob Wells. “When we connect with others, we learn from their experiences, share our own ideas, and build relationships that can lead to great things.”

The Burlington County Bridge Commission’s Department of Economic Development is committed to supporting business owners in the county and encouraging cross-partner collaboration and innovation across every sector of the economy. The department looks forward to hosting more free events like this in the future.

The small business social was a resounding success, with attendees praising the event for its relaxed and informal atmosphere, which made it easy to strike up conversations and meet new people. Many businesses reported making valuable connections that they hope will lead to future partnerships and collaborations.

“Networking is essential for businesses of all sizes, and this event provided a valuable opportunity for businesses to connect with each other and with resources that can help them grow and succeed. I look forward to seeing more events like this in the future.” – Chairman Riggins, Burlington County Bridge Commission.

The department is already planning its next small business social, which is expected to be held in early 2024. In the meantime, business owners are encouraged to stay connected with the department by visiting its website or following it on social media.



Burlington County Bridge Commission Helps Small Businesses Thrive with Year-Long Programming

Palmyra, New Jersey The Burlington County Bridge Commission’s Department of Economic Development is celebrating a successful year of virtual and in-person programming designed to help small businesses thrive.

Throughout 2023, the Department of Economic Development, partnered with organizations like NJBAC, Burlington County Library System, UCEDC, TD Bank, and the Small Business Development Center to hosted seven seminars on topics essential to small business success, including:

  • Procuring business financing
  • Writing a business plan
  • Running a profitable company
  • Assessing a business’s financial needs
  • Conducting a market analysis
  • Accessing capital
  • Preparing tax reports

Participants were able to attend these seminars at various public spaces, like libraries and community centers across the county, and several were also offered in a virtual format.

Survey respondents praised the seminars, saying that they were “incredibly helpful” and a “great environment” for learning. Others said that the presenters were “enthusiastic and knowledgeable.”

The department also played a key role in promoting small business growth and development in Burlington County by hosting several networking events and workshops and working closely with other government agencies and economic development organizations to create a supportive environment for small businesses.

“I am incredibly proud of the work that the Burlington County Bridge Commission’s Department of Economic Development has done to support small businesses throughout the past year. Our year-long programming has helped countless business owners learn new skills, access capital, and grow their businesses. We are committed to continuing to provide these valuable resources to our small businesses in the years to come.” Matt Riggins, Chairman, Burlington County Bridge Commission

BCBC Economic Development looks forward to hosting more of these events in 2024 and encourages all business owners and entrepreneurs to register for these free events today. To learn more about upcoming events, please visit the department’s website at


Burlington County School Supply Drive

The Burlington County Bridge Commission employees donated more than a thousand items to support the School Supply Drive for children in need in Burlington County.  The event was organized by Burlington County Commissioners and State Senators Dawn Marie Addiego and Troy Singleton in order to make sure every county child is prepared for the new school year.  Burlington County Bridge Commission Chairman, Matt Riggins, coordinated the delivery of backpacks, binders, crayons, pens, pencils, notebooks, highlighters, and other supplies to the drop-off point, recognizing the generosity of all the employees of the bridge.