BELMAR, NJ — Michael Campbell plans to retire as superintendent of Belmar’s Department of Public Works, following claims last week that he was seen verbally harassing a 22-year-old employee with special needs.
Borough Business Administrator Edward Kirschenbaum on September 28 confirmed Campbell’s intent to retire, although a timeframe was not disclosed.
Campbell's decision came after an unidentified person posted a comment on the “Common Sense for Belmar” blog on September 24 claiming to have witnessed Campbell “screaming and cursing” at a Public Works employee outside the municipal building the previous day. Other borough workers witnessed the incident as well, according to the post.
The comment drew an overwhelming response from the community after being posted on social media, where the employee was identified and confirmed as Colton Hines, who has autism. A Public Works employee for seven years, he has worked in a full-time capacity with its parks and playgrounds division for the past three years.
While Kirschenbaum did not further comment on the personnel matter, he said the incident was under investigation at the time Campbell, a 13-year borough employee, informed the borough of his decision to retire from the $130,000 annual post he has held for the past nine years. Despite speculation that Hines had been fired from his post, Kirschenbaum said that was not the case.
Colton Hines is the son of Fran Hines, who retired in 2016 as an assistant superintendent of Belmar Public Works and now serves as autism outreach coordinator for the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office.
In response to the incident, Jeannie Hines, Colton's mother, said the family is humbled by the amount of support they have received from the community. “Our main concern right now is to take care of our son and to keep him safe,” she said, adding they are consulting with an attorney.
The Hines family founded the Colton and Friends-A Foundation for Autism, which is known nationally for its annual Autism Beach Bash, typically held in September along the Belmar oceanfront The free event draws thousands for a “judgment free” day on the beach, and where surfers from both coasts come to surf with children with special needs.
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