Friday, May 30, 2008

Ocean County's Good Sports

Sunday morning 34 high school student-athletes will be honored during a brunch at the Quality Inn of Toms River for understanding that you can be a competitive athlete and a good sport at the same time. The Ocean County Athletic Directors Sportsmanship Awards will be given to a male and female from each of the county schools and I will once again serve as Master of Ceremonies. The breakfast is great but not the reason why I give up a Sunday morning….rather it’s because in this day and age it’s important we promote sportsmanship and it’s nice to honor those who best represent their schools on and off the field.

Receiving the sportsmanship awards on Sunday will be:

Barnegat High School- Matt Falk Claire Sands
Brick Memorial- Andrew Brodeur Demetra Dooros
Brick Township- Andrew Ball Brittany Morgan
Central Regional- James Plummer Shana Wood
Jackson Liberty- Chris Castonova Jill Anzalone
Jackson Memorial- Geoff Barletta Marissa Soprano
Lacey- R.J. Roe Tara Hennig
Lakewood- Jordan Seda Gina Componile
Manchester- Christopher Boyle Nicole Hoesch
Monsignor Donovan- Tom Carter Kelsey Foley
Pinelands Regional- Matt Benn Amanda Feldman
Point Pleasant Beach- Brian McElwee Emily Piri
Point Pleasant Borough- Joseph Bontempo Chandler Oliphant
Southern Regional- Tim Moffitt Morgan Logue
Toms River East- Joseph Shore Kaitlin Cornell
Toms River North- Paul DeMartino Amber DiGiore
Toms River South- Alex Okuniewicz John Coppinger

I look forward to saluting these young women and men who have brought honor to their schools, communities and families.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lakewood's New Dress Code

Cheers to the Lakewood Board of Education which has adopted a new dress code that goes into effect in September and will be the first of its kind for an Ocean County Public School District. Students choice in fashion will be limited to four colors….black, white, blue and khaki plus you won’t find any of the questionable attire that has become commonplace in most schools today.

The new dress code is similar to one being used in Atlantic City public schools and it sets standards on what can and cannot be worn to school.
Quoting School Board member Ada Gonzalez in today’s Asbury Park Press, “the students should be focused on their work and not on what their friends are wearing.” For that reason starting in September male students must wear khaki, blue or black Dockers-style or dress pants with solid white, black or blue shirts. Bermuda or walking shorts can also be worn at certain times of the year. Females are restricted to slacks and dresses, Capri pants, shirts, blouses and sweaters…again with color limitations and shorts are okay during the fall and spring.

Public school districts in California and other states have experimented with school uniforms, much like you would find in parochial and private schools. They have done so because in many cases school fashion has become shabby, sloppy and filled with peer-pressure when it comes to designer labels. I’ve always been in favor of school uniforms because it not only takes away some of that but lends itself to a more professional atmosphere. Students should think of school as their job and in most cases the workplace has its own set of standards so why not schools as well.

While what’s being done in Lakewood is not a school uniform it is a uniform policy and one I see as a major step in the right direction. I’m sure they’ll be plenty of complaints from students and parents but so what. Here’s hoping the School Board sticks with this and other districts follow.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Happy" Memorial Day

While this might have been more appropriate heading into Memorial Day
I would hope it falls into the category of “better late than never.” It was interesting to me that on a number of occasions I witnessed someone wishing others a “Happy Memorial Day” over the weekend. Of course the day is meant to serve as a remembrance for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. There were certainly many observations around the shore area on Monday from parades to services but for many it was probably nothing more than a three-day weekend which kicked off the summer season much as Labor Day ends it.

I don’t think it was disrespectful to wish someone a “Happy Memorial Day” weekend because of where we live…really what you were probably toasting was a happy start to summer. However we have the ability to enjoy things because so many gave their life so we can live ours in a free and democratic society. What is vitally important is we don’t take this for granted.

I’m really not sure if an email I received the other day is true or one of the many fabricated ones that have spread via the internet. But it was titled “what is a veteran” and one of the examples cited dealt with a group of retired American teachers paying a visit to France. One was being treated a bit rudely by a customs officer when he did not have his passport ready for inspection. The 89-year old man said that the last time he was in the country he didn’t have to show it and the French official said that was impossible. The American than proceeded to explain. “Well when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in ’44 to help liberate this country, I couldn’t find any Frenchmen o show my passport to.”

A “Veteran”….whether active duty, discharged, retired or reserve is someone who for some period in his life wrote a blank check made payable to “The United States of America,” for an amount of “up to and including his or her life.” We need to understand and respect that fact so thanks to each one of you who have written that check and for those who had it cashed… may be gone but are not forgotten.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Changing Vacation Habits

With all the negativity associated with the economy the last thing the Jersey Shore needed was a poor Memorial Day weekend and fortunately that was not the case. With a picture perfect weekend for the start of the summer season area businesses received a badly-needed jumpstart and one can only hope this is a sign of things to come. In many cases Memorial Day weekend is the biggest of the year as out-of-towners flock to beach towns, boardwalks and amusement areas and even the high price of gasoline did not keep them away. Lured by sunshine and their first chance to work on summer tans huge crowds packed the shore and put smiles on the faces of business owners. However what’s in store for the rest of the summer remains a question mark and even optimistic owners admit there’s a great deal of uncertainty over the future as the economy sputters and gas prices soar.

Survey results recently released indicate that not as many New Jerseyans consider their state a great place to vacation as in the past and the cost of visiting shore towns is a big reason why. More and more people are replacing the extended summer stay at the beach with day or weekend trips and it’s something that’s become obvious the last few years. Even with perfect weather beaches are often empty during the early part of the week and it’s made the 15 weekends from Memorial Day and Labor Day crunch time when it comes to income. Lose too many of those due to bad weather and the result is a bad summer….plain and simple.

For decades many of the summer visitors who chose the shore as their vacation destination were middle-income families who worked all year to be able to rent a bungalow for a couple of weeks in July or August. Those bungalows are gone, often replaced by apartments and condominiums that are simply too expensive to rent for a week or two and it’s changed the entire make-up of the summer visitor who made many of our beach towns as popular as they were in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s and 80’s. The real question is what does the future hold in store and even a crystal ball couldn’t answer that one.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Finally A Graduate

The campus at Ocean County College looks quite different today from the one I first experienced as freshman in the fall of 1973. The growth of the community college has been nothing short of amazing and aesthetically it’s a beautiful place and a very pleasant environment for learning and opportunity which is what higher education is all about. I’ll be the first to admit that when I was a student I didn’t grasp the learning part very well but OCC did afford me the opportunity to do things which would lead me to the career path I’ve chosen and for that I’ve been very grateful.

I’d like to think I’ve been an enthusiastic supporter of the college and its mission over the years and have done what I can in a small way to help spread the word of what a great asset the school has been to thousands of local residents. Several years ago I was honored when OCC chose me to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award but I’ve remarked on more than one occasion that technically I’m not an alumnus because I never earned my degree. Last night that was taken care of.

Ocean County College held its 41st Commencement Ceremony on the college mall and for most of the nearly 400 students who attended it marked the end of a two-year period in their lives. For yours truly that number is 35 years from the time I first stepped foot onto the campus until last night when I received an Honorary Associate in Arts Degree from President Dr. Jon Larson, who first approached me about the idea nearly a year ago.

It was a real thrill to receive the honorary degree from Dr. Larson and the Board of Trustees, among them Brick’s Warren Wolf who was recognized for his 50 years of education and service. Like the graduates my support staff was on hand including Mom and Dad, Mother-in-Law, Wife, Daughter and Son who of course graduated from Penn State a few days earlier and now got to watch his Dad in cap and gown walk to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance. And yes I moved my tassel from right to left because my education at Ocean County College is now complete.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fall Classes for Men at the Adult Training Center

I’ve taken my fair shots at the opposite sex over the years so turn about is fair play. I received an email from a female co-worker which was titled
“Fall Classes for Men at the Adult Training Center.” Of course at first I thought was serious but then I read the 14 class titles and descriptions:

1. How to Fill Up the Ice Cube Trays…..step-by-step with slide presentation.
2. The Toilet Paper Roll….Does it Change Itself?
3. Is It Possible To Urinate Using the Technique of Lifting the Seat and
Avoiding the Floor, Walls and Nearby Bathtub?
4. Fundamental Differences Between the Laundry Hamper and the Floor with Pictures and Explanatory Graphics.
5. Dinner Dishes….Can They Levitate and Fly Into the Kitchen Sink?
6. Loss of Identity…Losing the Remote to Your Significant Other.
7. Learning How to Find Things Starting With Looking In the Right
Places and Not Turning The House Upside Down While Screaming.
8. Health Watch. Bringing Her Flowers Is Not Harmful to Your Health.
9. Real Men Ask for Directions When Lost with Real Life Testimonials.
10. Is It Genetically Impossible To Sit Quietly While She Parallel Parks?
11. Learning to Live….Basic Differences Between Mother and Wife.
12. How to Be the Ideal Shopping Companion with Relaxation Exercises, Meditation and Breathing Techniques.
13. How To Fight Cerebral Atrophy….Remembering Birthdays,
Anniversaries and Other Important Dates and Calling When You’re
Going to Be Late.
14. The Stove/Oven…What It is and How It’s Used”

There was also a note attached. Due to the complexity and difficulty level of the classes they are limited to 8 participants maximum.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Media Glare...Or Not To Glare...

It’s funny how fans of local pro sports teams moan when an athlete rejects the opportunity to play in the New York or Philadelphia area because of the intense scrutiny they face. For some playing in a market with less media
exposure and fan expectations is actually an easy choice even if it means leaving dollars on the table. Other athletes feel they are up to the challenge
and with the help of a big contract will decide to tackle the “Big Apple” or
“City of Brotherly Love.”

You only have to look at what’s happened during this baseball season to see
that while winning is important sometimes the price just might be too high.
The Yankees, Mets and Phillies are all off to slower starts than expected for a variety of reasons including injuries, underachieving performances and some questionable personnel decisions. However with about 75% of the schedule still left all three are very much alive when it comes to division and wild card races but many fans are acting like the season is all but shot. To
add to that there has been quite a bit of negativity associated with the teams
which has made for a rather depressing spring.

Let’s start with the Yankees and their 26 World Championships. Getting to the playoffs every year since 1996 wasn’t good enough so manager Joe Torre was replaced by Joe Girardi. Word was that Torre’s spring training was like a country club so Girardi made the players work much harder….some complained and others blamed injuries and slow starts on all the hard work. Young pitchers expected to deliver have not, veteran players have looked old at times and there’s front office dissension. Across town you have a Mets team that still has not erased the memory of last season’s September collapse and the first 43 games has feature inconsistency, controversy, calls for manager Willie Randolph to be fired and a Shea Stadium atmosphere that is not exactly a home field advantage. In Philadelphia the mood has been a little better with the Flyers going late into the hockey playoffs plus the Phillies overcame a slow start last year to win a division title. However fans are getting a bit restless and slugger Ryan Howard is hearing the boo-birds for the first time and the optimism of March is being replaced with pessimism in May.

It all makes you understand a bit why life in places like St. Louis, Cincinnati
and Arizona may not be so bad after all.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Moving School Board Elections

It seems common sense is about to prevail in New Jersey which in itself is a significant step forward. The State Assembly on Monday approved a bill which would move school board elections from April to the general election date in November. The idea is to increase voter participation from the average 15% who now chose members of local school boards and also save money by getting rid of a costly spring Election Day. Not only that but what might be the most meaningful part of the Assembly measure is that people will no longer vote on their local school budgets unless their district is looking to exceed spending and taxing caps.

As it stands now when a school budget is defeated in April the district and towns look to see what can be cut and often by the time the budget is officially adopted it’s not much different from the one voters rejected. Under this new proposal as long as the budget stays within caps than there is nothing to vote on but if a district asks for voter support to exceed those limits then they’ll have to live by the will of the voters. As I’ve said before the school budget is the only expense we get to vote on and I believe many vote “no” just because they have the ability to do so. School Districts that are prudent in their spending should not have to ask for permission from an apathetic voting public that is looking to do anything to cut their tax dollar.
We don’t get to say how our money is spent in our local town, Trenton or Washington so why should the school budget be the lone scapegoat from an unhappy public.

While it’s often and unpaid and thankless job serving on a school board is an important position and by moving the election to November more of the voting public will no doubt have a say in the process. Yes there is some downside as it will make for a lot of election choices in some years and it could bring partisan politics into the educational mix but the truth is that’s always existed to some extent. The positive appears to far outweigh the negative and now it’s up to the State Senate to approve the bill which they are expected to do. Once that happens New Jersey will have taken a step in the right direction

Monday, May 19, 2008

Graduation Day

Without question the most popular picture location at Penn State University is the Nittany Lion Shrine on the west end of the University Park campus. It’s a 13-ton block of Indiana limestone that was molded into the most recognizable symbol of Penn State and has stood near the Recreation Building since 1942. We took a picture there of my son Brandon and daughter Alex in August of 2004 when we dropped him off for school and pledged to recreate it at graduation…fortunately Mother Nature cooperated.

Brandon was one of 1,086 graduates of the College of Health and Human Development to receive their degrees Saturday afternoon in the Bryce Jordan Center…this was just one of the 13 ceremonies held on campus over the weekend. We joined thousands of parents, relatives and friends in the 90-minute program with all of us waiting anxiously to hear the only name we really cared about….sort of a final proof that they really did graduate. The forecast called for thunderstorms most of the afternoon but except for a brief drizzle or two we had a pretty good day so after the commencement we were able to take pictures at the bronze statue of football Coach Joe Paterno outside Beaver Stadium and of course the Nittany Lion Shrine. We were not alone and waited for about a half-hour to recreate the picture of my son and daughter…he of course in cap and gown.

This was really a last hurrah for the graduating class of 2008 and most did not seem to want it to end. I’ve always had this impression that many young people don’t appreciate how much fun their college days were until much later but I can tell you those I talked to this weekend know these last four years were truly the times of their life. Many are not sure what tomorrow will bring as they search for that first job and even those that have jobs don’t know what to expect from the real world.

It’s called growing up and it’s the next stage of life. Welcome to it my son!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Proud Dad

This weekend is a special one to me for a couple of very different reasons.
Today my father celebrates his 80th birthday although knowing him it’s more like observing the occasion then celebrating. A man who has certainly experienced life’s “ups and downs” he is a survivor which says as much about his generation than anything else. His happiness is derived more with how his children and grandchildren are doing and his sadness is that most of his best friends have passed on and he no longer has them to share stories with. Fortunately we still have him….or should I say he has us to tell those stories too. Happy Birthday Dad.

This weekend will find us away to celebrate a major milestone in the life our son Brandon as he graduates from Penn State University. Like it or not I’m going to talk about the event itself on Monday because it is one that has great significance as it’s the end of one stage in a young person’s life and the beginning of another. My wife and I witnessed great changes in our son from the boy who graduated high school in 2004 to the young man who finished college four years later. Those changes were all positive…not that there weren’t bumps in the road because there were. However they were minor and I know there will not be two prouder parents in State College this weekend than us. Of course the scene we will witness this weekend is one that will has been or will be experienced by many of you and no doubt you’ll say and feel many of the same emotions. I toast all the parents of this year’s college graduates for a job well down.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

9th Inning Of Senior Year

Over many years I have praised, complimented and saluted hundreds if not thousands of student-athletes for their accomplishments on the field, in the classroom and in the community. This morning I pay tribute to the parents,
who are more often than not directly responsible for the success of their children. Sure there are many cases in which children and young adults succeed despite less than ideal circumstances at home but it’s more likely
that they are products of strong and supportive families.

As I watched the Ocean County Baseball Tournament semifinal game between Toms River South and Toms River North last night at FirstEnergy Park I noticed how hard it is for parents with a son playing in a high-pressure game. Actually the pressure doesn’t get to the players nearly as much as Mom and Dad who often pace back-and-forth during the course of a game. This is often magnified if their son is a senior because they know for many that years of playing sports is about to come to an end. All those trips to practice and games from the time they were just about old enough to hold a bat and throw a ball. Standing out there in the rain and cold as well as the heat and humidity. How many visits to the sports store for equipment and uniforms and countless stops at the convenience store for water and Gatorade. Family trips were often long weekends at a tournament of some kind…all the while dealing with failure and success, tears of joy and sorrow
because after all this is your child so it really hits home.

By the way South beat North 3-1 in an exciting and tense 8-inning game and when it was over players shook hands on the field while some parents did the same in the stands. The South contingent will be back at the home of the BlueClaws to face surprising Brick Memorial in the Ocean County Tournament Final on May 24th. It will be another big moment for the players as well as their families.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School

There is no faster way to spread something inaccurate than via the internet.
Sometimes the fallout from that is very serious but in this case it’s just a matter of giving Bill Gates credit where credit was not due. Making its way to my email was a blub called “The Wisdom of Bill Gates” and it’s supposedly from a speech that Gates made at a high school in which he talked about 11 things students did not and will not learn in school. While it’s entertaining and thought-provoking it’s not from a speech that Gates or any other person made. Rather it’s from books written by author/writer and talk show host Charles J. Sykes with the latest being “50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School.”
Among them in abbreviated version:

· Life is not fair. Get used to it.
· The real world won’t care as much about your self-esteem as much as your school does. It’ll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. This may come as a shock.
· Sorry, you won’t make $60,000 a year right out of high school. And you won’t be a vice-president and you may even have to wear
a uniform that doesn’t have a Gap label.
* If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss. He
doesn’t have tenure so he tends to be a bit edgier. When you
screw up; he’s not going to ask you how you feel about it.
· Television is NOT real life. Your problems will not all be solved
in 30 minutes, minus time for commercials.
· Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents
had a different word for burger-flipping…they called it opportunity.
· Before you were born your parents weren’t as boring as they are
now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning your room and
listening to you tell them how idealistic you are.
· Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents are a pain, school’s a bother
and life is depressing. Someday you’ll realize how wonderful it was to be a kid. Maybe you should start now.
· Your school may have done away with winners and losers but life
hasn’t. Despite the wishful thinking of the therapists, counselors and moon-rock peddlers, life does involve competition.
* After you graduate, you won’t be competing against rivals who were
raised to be wimps on the playground.
* Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday Thoughts

Some random notes and thoughts to start out the week:

You would not know it from today’s weather but we are less than two weeks away from Memorial Day weekend and there are signs everywhere that the summer season is just around the corner. Among them…the blinking lights are off in beach towns and Stewart’s Drive-In is open at the intersection of
Route 37 and Fischer Boulevard in Toms River. There is no better sign that summer is on its way then Stewart’s being open with waiters in their black and white uniforms serving root beer, hot dogs and more.

When he was a senior pitcher at Central Regional High School Rich Bishop helped the Golden Eagles win the Ocean County Baseball Tournament in 1973. Now 35 years later he’s the coach at Brick Memorial and the Mustangs stunned #2 ranked Jackson Memorial 6-5 Sunday to advance to Tuesday’s OCT Semifinals where Bishop will face his alma mater at FirstEnergy Park. Central beat four-time defending champion Toms River East 4-2 Sunday and will meet Brick Memorial at 4:30 tomorrow followed by the evening semifinal in which top-ranked Toms River North will face Toms River South for the third time this season. The Mariners earned their spot with a 2-0 win over Southern Sunday as Matt Mancini threw a two-hitter while on Saturday the Indians routed Barnegat 12-1 as Ryan Kapp slugged three home runs.

If you want honesty ask a third grader. I found that out Friday when I participated in the Forked River Elementary School’s 3rd annual Career Day.
After speaking to four classes of third-graders I was drained as they don’t pull any punches and very often speak their mind. As to what I found were their most popular career choices…..for the boys professional athletes and police officers while the girls chose Veterinarians, artists and dancers. Not one picked radio personality which shows they may be young….but they are not stupid.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Mother's Day

We have created days and so-called holidays for just about everyone and every profession and of course I say this during a week in which we show our appreciation for Nurses and Teachers among others. Not to take anything away from them but the day that really counts this week is Mother’s Day which is of course Sunday. Of all the days noted on the calendar as being somewhat special this is the one which is truly worthy of celebrating and acknowledging.

Think about it….when you were a young child you used to make a card in school and maybe even a special gift which you gave to Mom with a big smile on your face. Then as you got older it was time to scrape up a few bucks and buy flowers or something else….usually Dad had to help out because you didn’t have enough money. Then you got married and had both a Mother and Mother-In-Law and before long children came along which took the day to a different level.

I consider myself lucky in that I have a Mom who I’m not only close too but consider a friend every bit has much as a mother. A truly amazing woman who still walks to work five days a week, loves to talk sports as much as anything else and believe it or not has been blessed with great health in that she’s never even had a headache in her life. Not only that but nobody could have a better relationship with their Mother-In-Law like I do so having both in my life is a true daily double.

Every bit as lucky on this day are my children who have a truly fantastic mother and I know they realize it but of course when you are young you might take that for granted. My wife without question has been the backbone of our family and like in many families has two careers….one in education and one at home. Both are full-time jobs and one marvels at how she and other Moms get all the work done. But they do which is why Mother’s Day is so special and deserving of a spot on the calendar and a place in our hearts.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

FATE's New Jersey Bar Challenge

There’s no doubt that awareness of autism has increased greatly over the years and that’s both a good and bad thing. The good news is we are detecting and diagnosing signs of autism earlier which is very important and parents have more resources then ever when it comes to getting answers and help. The bad news is the high percentage of children stricken with the disorder and 1 out of every 150 children born today is on the autism spectrum.

The Foundation for Autism Training and Education or FATE is made up of parents, family members, friends, teachers and others committed to improving the lives of children with autism and their families. They have organized the 2008 New Jersey Bar Challenge in which many of the areas top bars and restaurants will be participating to raise money for children with autism while at the same time battling for bragging rights and prizes.

The competition begins May 31st and runs to July 12th with the establishments doing whatever they can to raise money. Among those who have already come on board are Caffrey’s Tavern, Mulligan’s, The Patio Bar, Hemingway’s, The Ark, Shark Fin Inn, The Idle Hour, Used to Be’s , The Broadway Grill and Connolly Station. They and hopefully others will be competing for prizes like a golf foursome to Due Process, $2000 in Visa gift cards and special seats to a Yankees or Mets game. Of course that’s secondary to raising money for children with autism.

Any bar or restaurant interested in the New Jersey Bar Challenge can get information and register at

Sounds like a great way to help out a good cause and have some fun doing it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Championship High School Sports

Now that I do a daily sports show I rarely mention local sports during this segment but I’m going to mention a few things this morning. Not getting to see as many high school baseball games as I used to I decided to attend Tuesday night’s game between Toms River East and Toms River South at Ken Frank Stadium and I’m glad I did.

The Indians eked out a 1-0 victory behind the pitching of Tyler Gebler and three of the best catches you’ll ever see in the same game. Two of them were made by Rutgers-bound outfielder Ryan Kapp, including one in which he went over the centerfield wall and used all of his 6’4 height and leaping ability to take away a home run. Kapp then made another terrific catch in the 7th and sandwiched in between was a diving catch in the gap by right fielder Joe Patterson. Those plays combined with Gebler’s four-hitter gave South just their second victory over East in their last 16 meetings. The great thing about sports is when you go to a game you never know what you’re going to see and last night I got to witness something special and it was free.

Barnegat High School earned a share of the “Class B South” championship with a 5-3 victory over Lakewood Tuesday with Brian Calabria’s two-run homer in the 5th inning the big hit. The Bengals, in just their third year of varsity baseball, share the division title with Central Regional, who under first-year coach John Scran made a complete turnaround from last season when they won just four games.

“Class A South” champion Toms River North ripped Central 12-4 yesterday as Steve Nyisztor had one of those unforgettable days an athlete dreams of.
The junior second baseman hit for the cycle (single, double, triple, homer)
and drove in six runs for the Mariners, who improved to 15-2. The shore’s #1 ranked team, North is the top seed in the Ocean County Tournament which gets underway Saturday.

For those who have not tuned in I talk sports every weekday from 3-6pm
on The Locker Room with Kevin Williams which airs on 1160 WOBM AM as well as Fox Sports 1310. Among my guests today will be record-setting softball pitcher Brittany O’Donnell of Red Bank Catholic.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Former WOBM Personality Does Good

Frank Brady’s name and voice would be familiar to many WOBM listeners from the 70’s and 80’s as his promoted his Beachcomber Salon in South Toms River by telling women they could look beautiful with his distinct Philadelphia accent. Frank has been in business for 40 years and remains very active in the community, serving as chairperson of the Ocean County Vocational School Foundation and he’s for many years made free wigs for cancer patients. However what he and his staff do for victims of domestic violence is something truly worthy of mentioning and saluting…which is what I’m doing today.

Providence House opened its doors in Toms River in 1990 and shortly after that Brady offered his services to the safe house for women and children who have been abused. His stylists and staff have performed countless numbers of free haircuts and colorings to these women who can certainly use anything to improve their self-esteem. This also includes children, especially during times like back-to-school and even proms and special occasions. Mary Pettrow of Providence House told me Brady’s long-term commitment to their organization has been nothing short of overwhelming.

The Beachcomber Salon is taking their generosity to a new level this year
by hosting a makeover party for about 40 women and children which will include food, giveaways and pictures which will be placed into decorated frames. And while Brady and his salon may have been the first to give their time and efforts others are now following and offering free services which is what he was hoping for all along.

Nice job Frank…you’ve started something really “beautiful.”

Monday, May 5, 2008

Random Notes

Random notes and items on the first Monday of May:

One of the highlights of the annual cocktail reception to support the Toms River Student Loan Fund is when a student representative from each of the three high schools is asked to talk about their education and experiences.

The trio of gentlemen who spoke Friday night were not only great ambassadors for their schools and families but three who will no doubt go on to great success. Keith Marschner of Toms River East is headed to Cornell University, Andriy Kuzmov of High School North will be attending the School of Pharmacy at Rutgers University and Patrick Park of High School South is Princeton-bound. By the way Patrick is the third of three Park’s who have done quite well at South. Two of the brothers were Valedictorians and one had to settle for being Salutatorian.

Former first assistant Ocean County Prosecutor Terry Farley and Toms River Elks Lodge #1875 were honored during the event as were the 2007 Teachers of the Year from the school district.

Jim Dowd is one of the oldest current players in the NHL and on Christmas Day he’ll celebrate his 40th birthday. However if the Philadelphia Flyers keep winning Christmas will come early for the Brick Township native and current Point Pleasant resident who is seeking his second Stanley Cup. Dowd’s Flyers will play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals beginning this week and are two steps away from capturing the Cup for the first time since 1975. Dowd helped the New Jersey Devils win their first Cup in 1995.

Today is Cinco de Mayo which many in the United States think is Mexico’s Independence Day, which is in fact September 16th. Cinco de Mayo is a regional holiday in Mexico which commemorates an initial victory of Mexican forces over French forces in 1862 and it seems the day is celebrated more in the United States where like with St. Patrick’s Day it’s become a big one for food, music and of course beverages.

Today also would have been Manny Viggiano’s 80th birthday which would have been a great reason for his family to celebrate. Unfortunately cancer took my father-in-law before this milestone birthday but today when many are toasting Cinco de Mayo they are also hoisting one for you Manny…one of the all-time greats.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Szalkowski Fund

Dave Szalkowski is an 18-year veteran of the Seaside Heights Police Department who has risen to the level of Captain and has certainly earned the respect of his fellow officers. The father of two is known as a mentor and teacher to the younger members of the department but beginning Monday they won’t have much face-to-face contact with Captain Szalkowski. That’s because he and his wife will be leaving for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where they will reside while the 44-year old awaits a double lung transplant.

Szalkowski has been stricken with scleroderma; an autoimmune disease which leads to hardening of the skin and in his case has forced him to use oxygen 24 hours a day. Organ transplant centers closer to home could not help and upon the advice of his doctors he sought out the University of Pittsburgh which has accepted him as a candidate for a lung transplant. Because he needs to be in close proximity to the hospital Szalkowski and his wife Elayne will live in an apartment in Pittsburgh and wait for the call that will give him hope…ironically only after someone else has died.

Szalkowski will continue to handle police administrative duties and schedules for as long as possible thanks to a laptop, fax machine and cell phone while in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile his 14-year old son and 11-year old daughter will remain back here so their schedules can remain as normal as possible. Berkeley Township Detective Jimmy Smit and his wife will help take care of the children because that’s what best friends do.

And to that end many of Szalkowski’s friends and co-workers will gather tomorrow night for a fundraiser at the Beachcomber Bar & Grill on the boardwalk. The event runs from 5-10pm with food and music by Frankie and the Burn with all proceeds to help with the living expenses they will incur while in Pittsburgh. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the door and if you can’t go but would like to help you can mail a check made out to
“The Szalkowski Fund” and send it to the Seaside Heights Police Department. In the ultimate role reversal it’s time for others to be around when a cop needs them!