Thursday, October 30, 2008

Phillies Win

(No Hometown View on Friday, October 31)

If you are a Philadelphia sports fan under the age of 46 you got to do something last night for the first time in your life…celebrate a major sports championship by legally hoisting an alcoholic beverage. In a game that started Monday and finally ended around 10pm Wednesday the Phillies beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 to win the World Series. It’s only the second time in the history of the baseball franchise they have won the Series and it’s the first title of any kind for one of the four major sports teams that call Philly home since 1983.

As an avid Mets fan I of course have been rooting against our new arch-rivals but the championship is something badly needed for Philly faithful so good for them. Plus it’s a fitting conclusion to a lousy season with a lousy World Series that really on a few people cared about.

The good thing about the season ending last night is it does not interfere with Halloween which of course is tomorrow. That’s the day when young children and teen-agers all across the country dress up in costumes and go trick or treating in their neighborhoods. Well that’s what takes place in just about all of America outside of Toms River and some of its surrounding communities. They of course trick or treat tonight because only in Toms River does a parade take precedence over what’s being done everywhere else in the country. So if you have just moved into the area be on alert that kids will expect candy today even though Halloween is tomorrow. If you are scratching your head over this one then ask a neighbor for an explanation although they will probably have trouble explaining it as well.

By the way there is no truth to the rumor that there are plans to start a new parade in Toms River on Christmas Day and all celebrations would then be moved to Christmas Eve

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Frustration Of Route 9

Anyone who drives Route 9 with any regularity in Ocean and Monmouth counties knows that much of the roadway is a nightmare for a variety of reasons and one of them was confirmed in a report released Tuesday. When it comes to pedestrian safety Route 9 in Ocean County is the third most dangerous road in the state based on statistics over a three-year period in which 8 pedestrians were killed while Route 9 in Monmouth County was ranked 7th.

These are not the kind of numbers that you brag about and it’s a sad reality that especially in large sections of Ocean County every trip on Route 9 has the potential to be a horror. The report just out yesterday only deals with pedestrian safety which also is a problem for drivers because too many people cross the roadway in places they should not. It puts an added burden on drivers who have enough problems trying to navigate a roadway that was not meant for the volume of traffic we have today. Actually this road has been out of date for decades and despite band-aid attempts it’s not much better and probably never will be.

If you want to get a true picture of how frustrating it is to drive Route 9 then during any busy time try and make a left turn coming out of a store in which you have to cross the road first. Forget it….you can drink a cup of coffee and read the newspaper quicker. Often you get so frustrated that you are forced to turn right onto the roadway and then make a left into a parking lot of some kind before turning around and finally heading in the direction you wanted all along.

Route 9 is lousy for a lot of reasons and we don’t need any reports to tell us that….just drive it daily.

The game time weather for the resumption of Game #5 of the World Series tonight in Philadelphia will be more like football weather. The forecast calls for temperatures in the upper 30’s with 15 MPH winds making it feel below freezing. This is no way to decide the best team in baseball.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Phillies Fans Wait

The city of Philadelphia and areas around it including South Jersey were poised for a tremendous celebration last night….one they have waited decades for. The Phillies took a 3-1 series lead into Game #5 of the World Series last night and with their ace Cole Hamels on the mound and an early 2-0 lead over visiting Tampa Bay the outcome seemed all but certain. Only Mother Nature could rain on a victory parade which was already planned for Wednesday…and she did.

The rains came and the euphoria of early evening began to change as the night wore on. By the time the 6th inning started the weather was simply awful and things got worse for the rain-drenched faithful that remained in their seats when the Rays tied the game. After the final out in the top of the 6th the umpires finally halted the game and ordered the tarp put on an infield which had already started to turn into mud. There would be no champagne corks popped on this night as for the first time in World Series history a game had been suspended. It will resume tonight (maybe) at 8:29 with the Phillies batting in the bottom of the 6th. However the forecast calls for a 40% chance of showers, heavy winds and 40 degree temperatures at game time…not exactly ideal for baseball.

Considering this city and its fans have not had a major sports championship of any kind in 25 years you’ll understand why they are wondering if the sports gods are not looking to spoil a party which seemed inevitable. Phillies fans always think of the glass as half-empty and now they are wondering if there’s anything in the glass, one which they planned on filling with champagne. If and when the game does resume it will become a battle of the bullpens and while Philly’s has been superb what if the Rays are able to win Game #5 and send the series back to Florida.

You see the Phillies are not just battling another team but years of falling short and disappointing a generation of fans who badly need that ultimate moment when they can finally call themselves champions. Was last night’s rain divine intervention or did it just prolong the wait for a city, team and fans poised for a great party? Stay tuned for further developments.

Monday, October 27, 2008

How To Lose A Vote

If you are undecided on Election Day choices for everything from President to local municipal races I have a suggestion which may help your decision-making. Vote for the candidates who did not come into your home uninvited and stay far too long. I’m not talking about the old-fashioned way they and their volunteers used to campaign when they would knock on your door and leave bumper stickers, a pencil and some literature. I’m talking about the electronic phone calls which frankly have me on edge and wanting to scream.

The other day I came home and saw I had three messages and all of them were from candidates or should I say were for them. There was even a message from one of the candidates’ children telling me why I should vote for her father. Are you kidding me…I had to listen to all three before I could delete them and the worst is you can’t even respond to a live person telling them to leave you alone. At least one did leave a phone number to call if I wanted more information on his campaign and for a moment I thought about it but was afraid I would just get a staffer who would read a list of talking points off index cards.

At least when you get junk in the mail you can just throw it away, you can tune out radio and TV commercials but these long-winded phone solicitations are just that and I don’t like being solicited on the phone. So if you want my vote don’t call or maybe try me once and once only because after that you’re in trouble.

On a somewhat related note I have noticed more and more businesses displaying signs on their property making it clear who they are voting for and wondering why. I mean if you’re in business you want to attract customers and I’ve got to believe some potential ones stay away if they strongly disagree with your choice. It does not matter who you are voting for there are many people picking the other guy so what’s to gain by making your feelings public. It just can’t be good for business.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Parity Hits The Shore

Usually by this point of the high school football season you have clearly separated the contenders from the pretenders when it comes to possible championships. Welcome to 2008 where parity has hit the Shore Conference like never before and 19 of the 43 teams are still alive for the six division titles and more than half could still qualify for the state playoffs.

More then in recent years there’s a feeling that there is no great team with only Asbury Park, Red Bank Catholic and Freehold undefeated heading into week #7. However there are plenty of good stories coming out of this season including turnarounds at schools like Central, Shore, Middletown North, and Raritan who were a combined 9-31 last year and so far this fall are 14-6.

Toms River North and Middletown South started the season as the consensus top two teams at the shore but both were upset in week one. Reports of their demise though were greatly exaggerated because led by strong defenses the Mariners and Eagles have not lost since that opening weekend. On the subject of defense, Southern, Ocean and RBC have all held their opponents to an average of three points per game and while that’s very impressive then there is Point Pleasant Boro. The Panthers have scored 114 points in five games and allowed just 3 and are not undefeated. Their four victories are all by shutout but in week two they lost at Manasquan 3-0…a defeat which will probably cost them the Shore National title to the Warriors. Don’t be surprised if the two border rivals meet again in the Central Jersey Group 2 Playoffs.

This weekend’s schedule features a host of big games including Neptune at Middletown South tonight which we’ll broadcast on the Shore Sports Network. Saturday’s top matchups find Lacey visiting Colts Neck, Ocean hosting Matawan and Toms River East battling Middletown North.

In this unpredictable season you never know what each weekend will bring but one thing you can be sure of is some good stories will be told on the field.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Seasons Change

Summer officially ended more than a month ago but I really don’t go by the calendar to tell me when one season arrives and the other ends. First of all we really don’t have four equal seasons anymore but rather long summers and winters and short springs and falls. The Kevin Williams calendar says summer ends when Stewart’s Root Beer on Route 37 in Toms River closes which it has. It is now Fall or Autumn and that lasts until Thanksgiving when winter begins. The arrival of spring is debatable.

Mentally for me it starts with St. Patrick’s Day because I always feel when we get to that day
it signals better weather days are coming. Of course it’s usually followed with at least another month of weather which makes us wonder what happened to spring which really doesn’t begin until late April and is then over by Memorial Day which is the start of summer. Whether this new calendar is a result of global warming or not I will leave up to the so-called experts but I do know summer is over because Stewart’s is closed.

If that’s not enough the Water Garden and Koi Company closed my pond yesterday
which means no more hearing that soothing sound of the water running down the rocks. Don’t you kind of envy the fish that now go months without a care in the world although it’s got to be boring.

However as a post-script to all of this we could still experience “Indian Summer” although there’s confusion over this as well. Some will tell you that any prolonged stretch of 70 plus degree days after autumn arrives qualifies while others say official “Indian Summer” can’t take place until after the first frost arrives. Of course if you want to be politically-correct I guess you would have to call it “Native American Summer.”

On an unrelated matter….The AutoLenders High School Football Show will be a live broadcast tonight at Southwinds Restaurant on East Lacey Road in Forked River from 6-8pm. On location guests include coaches Vince Casale of Central and Rob Davis of Barnegat along with a couple of their players. The show airs on the Shore Sports Network, including 1160AM.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Baseball & The Chamber

The World Series finally opens tonight with the Phillies and Rays playing the first two games of the best-of-7 series at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. There will certainly be many people in the Ocean County area rooting for the Phills including those that watched some of the teams current stars play for the Lakewood BlueClaws. BlueClaw alumni include tonight’s starting pitcher Cole Hamels, slugging first baseman Ryan Howard, catcher Carlos Ruiz and relief pitcher J.A. Haap. Lou Marson, who was called up from the minors in September will serve as the Phillies bullpen catcher during the series. He was the BlueClaws catcher when they won the South Atlantic League Championship in 2006.

The Phillies are trying to win their second World Series with the only other coming in 1980. Tampa Bay, in their 11th year of existence, had its first winning season this year. I like the Rays to win in 7 games but I’ve been wrong throughout the post-season so my opinion is pretty worthless.

On the subject of baseball, the Manchester Little League is holding a fundraising Texas Hold’Em Tournament this Saturday at the Toms River Elks Lodge on Washington Street in Toms River. Participation is limited and players must be 21 years old to attend. There will be ten cash prizes, including a first prize of $3000. For information you can call Pat Barry at
(732) 904-0795 and you should call him today. That’s (732) 904-0795.

The Toms River-Ocean County Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual membership drive today and tomorrow. During tough economic times it’s easy for businesses to look to cut items like Chamber membership but now more than ever they really need an advocate for them and that’s part of what we do. I say we because as Chairman I obviously believe very strongly in the work of our organization, much of which is done behind the scenes.
The mission of the Toms River-Ocean County Chamber of Commerce is to advance and develop the commercial, professional, industrial, civic, cultural, recreational and general interest of the community while looking out for the interests of businesses.

While your business may get a phone call today about membership you don’t have to wait….call (732) 349-0220 and find out about our programs and why joining is a great investment.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Support The Scudieris’ Fund

It seems like on an almost daily basis you hear a story about someone’s misfortune and it leaves you shaking your head wondering how unfair life seems to be. Just the other day I was given a flyer about an upcoming fundraiser and asked if I could get it mentioned on the radio. When I read all the details I knew I wanted to tell you about a couple from Toms River facing a daily double of hardships.

Diane and Harold Scudieri have lived in Toms River since getting married in 1982 and have raised four children with the youngest now a senior at High School East. Diane, a past president of the Dover Township Junior Women’s Club, was diagnosed with brain cancer five years ago. After three surgeries and many rounds of chemotherapy and radiation she is now undergoing therapy at home in order to recover. During this ordeal her husband Harold has been her strength but recently he was diagnosed with lung cancer and he is now undergoing chemotherapy which has him on disability from his job with the telecommunications department of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

Friends and neighbors have gotten together and planned a fundraiser for the couple of Saturday, November 1st at Hemingway’s CafĂ© on the boulevard in Seaside Heights. The event will take place from 6-9pm and include a buffet dinner, DJ, gift auction and cash bar. Tickets are now on sale for $25 and organizers hope to raise some money to easy the stress on the Scudieri Family. For ticket information you can call Heidi Stover at (732) 270-5325.

If you would like to help out with a donation and cannot attend checks made out to “Support the Scudieris’ Fund” can be mailed to Stover at 958 Yellowbank Road in Toms River, 08753. There is nothing more precious than having friends and neighbors when you need them the most and Diane and Harold Scudieri know that for sure.

On an unrelated note my wife would like to thank those that supported “Team Booberang” in Sunday’s “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” walk in Point Pleasant Beach. A special thanks to my WOBM family for their support as the team raised more than $3500 so one day our daughters will never have to worry about this dreaded disease.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Remembering "Mr. Maze"

A little of this and a little of that on a Monday morning:

So the Phillies will open the World Series in St. Petersburg, Florida and not Boston. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Red Sox 3-1 in the 7th and deciding game of the American League Championship Series last night and will host the first two games of the World Series Wednesday and Thursday Night at Tropicana Field. Philly last won a World Series in 1980 and for Tampa Bay this of course is all new…they never had a winning season before this year.

It’s not unusual to be attending an event with a large crowd during election season and get word that a candidate is in attendance. So with over 110,000 people at Saturday’s Michigan-Penn State football game in State College, PA. it was an opportunity to get in some politicking for the Republican National ticket in the parking lot a couple of hours before kickoff. However seeing Sarah Palin’s husband Todd was not enough to get me to leave the comfort of my tailgating location.

For all the talk about how the Jets are so much better with Brett Favre at quarterback they lost to the Raiders in overtime Sunday and are just 3-3….can you say “same old Jets.”

From the “Big Picture Department.” Steven Sprague was 28-years old, married to his high school sweetheart Nikki and enjoying life as the father of a six-month old daughter Abigail. His life ended way too early on Thursday when he was working a construction project on the New Jersey Turnpike and he was hit by a car in which the driver fell asleep. The loss is a tragic one to so many….the Sprague, Madden and Hibbs families and the love for all of them was displayed Sunday when hundreds turned out at Anderson and Campbell Funeral Home in Toms River. A funeral mass will be held Wednesday at 10:30AM at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church.

Tom Maciaszek worked at WOBM from somewhere in the early 70’s
until 2006 and did just about everything. He voice was familiar on both ourFM & AM stations and he was radio’s ultimate utility man. Sadly “Mr. Maze” passed away over the weekend. Funeral arrangements are still being made and we will let you know when details are available

Friday, October 17, 2008

Big Night In Ram Country

The Southern Regional football program has been here before… a chance to win a game with championship ramifications that could put them on top of heap. It was only last November that the Rams hosted Toms River North in the final American Division game of the season with the winner to claim the title. Goldberger Memorial Field was packed with anxious and long-suffering fans wanting to celebrate that elusive outright Shore Conference division title but on that fall evening 50 weeks ago the Mariners spoiled the party 17-7. The teams would actually meet a few weeks later in the state sectional semifinals and this time it was a rout….North won 33-0 and the following week would complete a perfect season with the South Jersey Group 4 Championship.

So here we are again with one notable exception. Southern is the higher ranked team and the one chasing perfection after posting wins over Pinelands, Brick Memorial, Freehold Township and Jackson. The Mariners opened the season as the top-ranked team at the shore but stumbled in a season-opening loss at Middletown North. But they’ve rebounded from that non-conference setback and have been very impressive in wins over Manalapan, Howell and Brick Memorial.

Both teams are 3-0 in the Shore American and despite having two division games left after tonight whoever leaves the field victorious will have all but clinched a title. This is nothing new to North as they’ve got quite a few displayed on their scoreboard at Gernerd Field. However in Manahawkin the only football crown ever won in the history of the school came when they tied Wall and Asbury Park for the then Class C title in 1972. That was when Southern was a fairly small school and well before any of tonight’s players were even born.

Ram country is now big country as are players like Glenn Carson, Anthony Stroffolino, Mike Bonsky and Steve Sibona. They’ve played together for years dreaming of the opportunity which comes tonight. They will battle the likes of Mike Henry, Brian Newman, Evan Regas and Matt Sura who have tasted titles before and like the flavor.

However only one team can emerge victorious and after nudging the door last year Southern finally kicks it in tonight.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Phillies Win!

As tough as it is I must give credit to the Phillies for taking care of the Dodgers and advancing to the World Series for the first time in fifteen years. (Jimmy Rollins holds the National League Championship trophy in above photo). Obviously we have a number of Phills fans in this area and this is a big deal for them because they are accustomed to failure and disappointment and now they find themselves in the series for just the sixth time going back to
1903. The Phillies lost in 1915, 1950, 1983 and 1993 and won their only championship in 1980 but they’re now just four wins away from ending years of frustration for not just the franchise but the city. The NBA’S 76ers were the last major team to win a championship in Philadelphia and that comes out to 100 seasons of no title for the Phills, Sixers, Eagles and Flyers. Is the streak about to end or will Philly fans again have their hearts broken?

The Toms River-Ocean County Chamber of Commerce hosted the two major candidates for the 3rd District Congressional seat during a luncheon Wednesday. Democratic State Senator John Adler and Republican Medford Mayor Chris Myers spoke to chamber members and answered questions focused on the economic situation in Ocean County. Both were very impressive and agreed on many of the issues, especially those facing the business community during these rough times.

In speaking with people I have come to one conclusion about the Presidential election. Just about everyone is looking forward to November 5th, the day after Election Day.

It looks like our stretch of above-average warm days will come to an end today with the weekend looking very much like a fall weekend. Highlighting the weekend will be a much-anticipated football game Friday night between Southern and Toms River North. We will preview that game in depth tonight on the “AutoLenders High School Football Show” which airs from 6-8pm on the Shore Sports Network, including 1160 WOBM AM.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

On Sunday thousands of people across the state will be walking to raise dollars and awareness to fight breast cancer in New Jersey. “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” walks will take place in Point Pleasant Beach and five other locations in New Jersey and they are among the American Cancer Society’s biggest events of the year. These walks are a true example of communities coming together to educate, inform, celebrate and pay tribute
to those who have beaten the disease as well as those who lost brave battles.

If you participate or attend the Making Strides in Point Pleasant Beach you will be awed by the number of teams walking, often identifiable by nicknames of the back of their shirts. Most of the walkers will be wearing blue tee-shirts but the ones who will really stand out are those in pink as these are breast cancer survivors, whose battles have inspired others to join them in the fight against this horrible disease.

“Team Booberang” (yes that’s right) grows each year and Sunday about 50 will be walking under that banner. The woman in pink will be my wife Jane,
a breast cancer survivor who organizes a group of family, friends and co-workers from Manchester Township High School to walk and raise money and hope that some day there will be no such thing as breast cancer. It’s a disease that touches so many and I don’t think I realized it until after my wife went through her ordeal. Now it seems like I’ve run into hundreds who have been impacted, directly or indirectly and while progress is being made there is a long way to go.

Sunday will be an emotional day for many because there will be teams walking for loved ones lost as well as those who are now called survivors. Those tears of sadness are comforted by the fact that there are more tears of joy all the time as women get the message that early detection and prevention are the keys along with raising money for research. If you’re in Point Pleasant Beach for Making Strides on Sunday look for the pink shirts because they are what gives everyone hope.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Men & The Supernatural

As we get closer to Halloween there is a greater focus on the supernatural,
something I have no interest in and frankly don’t believe exists. My fellow men gave their thoughts on the subject in “The Average Guy” section of this month’s Men’s Health magazine and here are some stats and results:

· 50% of men believe spooks really exist.
· 33% say they’ve actually seen some kind of ghost.
· 20% think it’s possible to communicate with the dead.
· 1 in 6 say they have received advice from a spirit and
1 in 3 of those say they have acted on that advice.
* 90% of men say they’re convinced that psychics are frauds
but almost half of them become believers if their wives or
girlfriends disappear and they need help finding them.
· The average guy explains ESP as a “Lucky Hunch.”
· 80% of us men believe there are rational explanations for
all “supernatural” occurrences.
· Despite all of this 40% hesitate a second before heading down
into a dark basement.
· 10% of men say their psyches can’t handle horror movies and the
scariest supernatural flicks include The Exorcist, The Ring, The Amityville Horror and The Sixth Sense. What happened to Night
Of the Living Dead?
· 64% of men would like to haunt the planet after they die.
· 40% believe both people and objects can be cursed and 90% say
their lives took a step in the positive direction after they threw-out
a bad luck charm.
* Lastly the special power that most men would like to have is time
travel followed closely by invisibility which he would like to test
out in Scarlett Johansson’s bedroom. Typical male response.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Random Thoughts

So today is Columbus Day which for many people simple means a day off from work or school. It’s a shame the significance of the holiday is lost on many as it’s truly very special for a certain segment of the population and no I don’t mean Italian-Americans, some of whom who observe the day as a celebration of their heritage. Today is especially important to those with a poor sense of direction as it gives them hope because after all we are celebrating an explorer who was trying to find a new naval route to India but instead found the American continent.

For Rutgers to have a winning football season they would have to win their final six games which is highly unlikely. Following a loss at Cincinnati Saturday the Scarlet Knights are 1-5 and much of the progress achieved the last three seasons by Coach Greg Schiano has all but been forgotten. The big red “R” looks very small right now.

I guess some Jets fans are buying into the theory that when their team wears those old throwback uniforms (above) they win football games so why stop now. The answer is because the uniforms are hideously ugly and the wins are because the Jets might be better then the lousy teams they’ve played.

We brought a care package of stuff to my son’s Jersey City apartment yesterday and because it was such a nice day ended up taking the PATH into New York City. The economy may be suffering but tourism did not seem to be with the city jammed with visitors, many taking advantage of a three-day weekend and it was a banner day for double-decker tour busses. I’m always amazed when walking around Times Square the number of different languages you will hear spoken.

The countdown is on for Friday night’s football game between Toms River North and Southern in Manahawkin. This one has all kinds of championship implications and we will broadcast it on the Shore Sports Network.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Diversions From Wall Street

No more than ever we need diversion from the financial crisis hitting this country and the entire world which makes tomorrow more uncertain maybe than at any time in recent memory.

Sports can often give you that outlet from watching your favorite team on TV to sitting in the stands at a high school football game. Take for example today:

You have the Phillies and Dodgers playing game #2 of the National League Championship Series late in the afternoon and then tonight the ALCS between Boston and Tampa Bay gets underway. The Devils and Rangers play their hockey home openers tonight and there are 10 Shore Conference Football games to go along with dozens of soccer, field hockey and other local contests. Cheering for your favorite team or school, at home or in the bleachers will not change what’s happening on Wall Street but it might at least take your mind off of it for a couple of hours.

The best of tonight’s football games might be Brick Memorial at Toms River North and Long Branch at Ocean. The Mustangs are 3-1 under second-year head coach Walt Currie and are coming off a win over Jackson in which quarterback Brian Staub ran for over 300 yards and 4 touchdowns and passed for 138 yards and two more scores. They face a North team that has bounced back after a season-opening loss to post back-to-back wins behind a stifling defense that has allowed just 7 points in the two wins.

In Monmouth County fierce rivals Long Branch and Ocean collide in a Liberty Division matchup that will be broadcast tonight on our Shore Sports Network. It’s a key game for both as they try and stay within striking distance of division-leading Red Bank Catholic.

Five teams begin the weekend undefeated and Middletown North faces the stiffest challenge when they battle Colts Neck Saturday afternoon. Asbury Park, Southern, Freehold and RBC should all remain perfect but in a season of upsets taking things for granted can prove to be a big mistake.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Divided Loyalties

When it comes to professional sports loyalties Ocean County is often a divided territory and not just based on geography. There was a time in which Route 72 in Manahawkin was considered the dividing line…if you lived north of that you likely rooted for the New York teams while those south were Philadelphia fans. Some would offer the argument that Lacey Road in Forked River might better serve as the line to divide loyalties. Regardless Southern Ocean County was certainly likely to be more “Philly-friendly” then the more populated parts like Toms River and Brick to the north.

However maybe more than any other county in New Jersey we are a melting pot when it comes to favorite team choice. Let’s start with baseball since the National League Championship Series starts tonight in Philadelphia. The Phillies fan base has defiantly spread out since the inception of their minor league affiliate in Lakewood. As BlueClaw players like Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels became major leaguers fans continued to follow them and were certainly more likely to root for the Phills. There was a time when most of the Phillie fans in Ocean County came from towns like Barnegat and Manahawkin but I don’t necessarily think that’s the case any longer. Of course the Yankees and the Mets have larger fan bases in our area but watch what happens if the Phills win the World Series.

We’re of course in the middle of football season and like baseball have three pro teams considered local. Again geography plays a role but you will find Giants fans everywhere from Point Pleasant to Harvey Cedars. You would assume that is followed by the Jets but I’m not so sure as the Eagles might be number two. They have had success in recent years and that creates fans while the Jets have always struggled to have an identity….after all their one and only Super Bowl trip and victory came in 1969 so those under the age of 40 have never seen a championship.

Both basketball and hockey offer a unique challenge in indentifying a favorite because it’s the two major sports which have New Jersey team as part of the mix. The Devils have a solid fan base which is probably younger then those who cheer for the Rangers and the Flyers have their legions of followers. Pro basketball to me is at the bottom of the four majors in our area for different reasons. The Knicks and Sixers have been awful in recent years and the Nets are bolting for Brooklyn.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Taking The Lead In Economic Development

As chairman of the Toms River-Ocean County Chamber of Commerce I obviously believe strongly in the organization…one that represents the interests of some 800 businesses and firms comprised of more than 20,000 individuals. Much of what the chamber does is behind the scenes and before I became a member of the Board of Directors my assumption was that this was just a large networking organization. That is certainly part of what we are but since taking over as Chairman in May I’ve gotten a much clearer picture and witnessed first hand the value of membership.

More than ever the Toms River-Ocean County Chamber is taking the lead on the issue of Economic Development, one that is vital to Ocean County even if it’s been ignored for too long by some officials. We need to implement programs and changes that bring good paying jobs to this area which will ultimately result in more money floating around local businesses.
Now more than ever we need to support the local economy and keep our dollars right at home because purchases out of the area don’t help our neighbors.

While it won’t happen overnight I can tell you the chamber is working on innovative ideas and programs that will hopefully benefit all our 800 members. We might ruffle a few feathers along the way because to some the word “change” is offensive….however we need to realize that doing business that way it’s always been done is clearly not working. Don’t get in the way of progress but join in or move out of the way for those who want to succeed.

On a related note…the Chamber will hold a General Membership Luncheon next Wednesday (October 15) at the Ramada Inn of Toms River. 3rd District Congressional candidates John Adler and Chris Myers will discuss their plans if elected and answer questions as well. For information on the luncheon and the Toms River-Ocean County Chamber of Commerce you can call (732) 349-0220.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Random Notes For Tuesday

Some random notes and thoughts this morning:

It really is amazing that tonight’s Presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain is receiving far less coverage and interest than last week’s featuring the candidates for Vice President. Part of that is due to the fact that this is the second of three Presidential debates while Joe Biden and Sarah Palin had a one-and-only get together. Of course the other part is the public’s fascination, for many reasons with the Governor of Alaska. Obama and McCain will debate tonight at 9pm in a town hall format at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee with former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw serving as the moderator. You get the impression that McCain better start making his move soon in the race because all the indications lead to an Obama victory four weeks from today.

Small business owners in Ocean County who would like to learn about doing business with the military should plan on attending a workshop on Thursday, October 16th from 6-8pm at the Ocean County Library in Toms River. The workshop is designed to educate business owners on competing for contracts awarded by the federal government now that more than $450 million in new spending will come out of Navy Lakehurst, Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force base in the next several years. The workshop is free and you must RSVP to the Ocean County Department of Public Affairs at (732) 929-2000 by this Friday.

During my high school days at Central Regional John Cameron was a very well liked science teacher in addition to being the Boys Basketball coach. He always had a smile on his face and a manner which made him respected and admired by all. I always enjoyed talking with him about basketball and other stuff and would bump into him on occasion well after I graduated from school. The last time I saw Coach Cameron was at an affair for the Central Regional Athletic Hall of Fame and I remarked how he always looked the same. John passed away over the weekend at the age of 82 and leaves 9 children, 24 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He also leaves many of us with warm memories and big smiles of a very gentle man.

Monday, October 6, 2008

An Ocean County Adventure

It’s amazing the number of places that exist in Ocean County that I and you probably know nothing or little about regardless of how long we’ve lived here. Take for example the New Egypt Flea Market Village & Auction on Route 537 which has been in operation since the 1950’s and is truly a unique shopping experience. We spent a couple of hours sorting through the place Sunday with our good friends Joe and Darlene Gomulka who in previous trips have purchased items that you really won’t find anywhere else.

The place is open on Sunday and Wednesday mornings only and most of the vendors use old barracks from Fort Dix as their stores. Don’t expect to find too much new as old and used are the best words to describe what’s for sale. But if you are hunting for antiques, old furniture, tools and stuff from years gone by then this place is well worth the trip.

We even sorted through what pretty much looks like a junk yard and found an old highway sign which we bought for my son’s apartment. When you ask the owner about a price he eyes the item up and you as well and gives you a number which basically comes off the top of his head. He’s operated the place since getting out of the Navy and said he has no plans to sell…even though the property (and there’s plenty of it) is probably worth a small fortune. A little advice if you’re going to make a trip to the place….try and arrive around 8am and wear casual and old clothes especially if you are planning to sort through stuff.

On the way back we stopped at the Plumstead Grill on Route 539 for lunch which was very good. Plenty of Giants fans watching the game and a nice early afternoon crowd of all ages. Then to complete our mini journey we stopped at Emery’s Berry Farm and picked up a coconut custard pie which made for a nice dinner last night.

And yes I got him in plenty of time to watch football and baseball…all in all and nice Sunday.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ocean County Events

(No Hometown View on Friday, 10/3)

Let’s take a moment to tell you about some upcoming events that will be fun
And help others at the same time:

Southern Regional High School will hold its 1st Annual Grand Reunion on Saturday night at the Holiday Inn in Manahawkin. The evening is designed to bring together as many Southern graduates as possible with proceeds to benefit the Alumni Scholarship Fund. In addition those who have made significant contributions since leaving high school will be inducted into the Wall of Fame with the Class of 2008 headed up by NASCAR Driver Martin Truex, Jr., a 1998 Ram graduate. The other honorees are Barnegat Light Mayor Kirk Larson, Attorney Liza Kirschenbaum, Fitness business owner Mark Occhipinti, Actress Mary Birdsong, teacher Steve Aker, Attorney Anne Nachman and Plastic Surgeon Dr. Fred Duffy.
Tickets for Saturday’s event are $50 and the first 200 guests will be presented with Martin Truex Jr. merchandise gift bags. For information you can contact Heather at

Shamrock and Thistle Pipes and Drums of Ocean County will hold their 13th Annual Dinner Dance on Saturday, October 18th at the American Legion Hall on Church Road in Toms River. As the band gets ready to celebrate their 34th year together they will once again use their dinner dance as a way of helping others with this year’s event to help Michelle Dolcemascolo, a 26-year old Toms River resident who is battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and receiving treatment at Sloan-Kettering in New York. The evening will feature great food, music, dancing, raffles and much more and tickets are just $30 per person. For information you can call Tom at (732) 505-7786. Details are also available at

Last call for the 2008 Harold “Hank” Handchen Memorial Golf Tournament on Monday, October 13th at Lakewood Country Club. Sponsored by the Lions Club of Brick the event is named after the first athletic director at Brick Township High School and proceeds will benefit a scholarship fund in his name. For more on the golf outing contact Steve at (732) 833-7505.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dealing With The Financial Crisis

I’d like to intelligently discuss the financial crisis gripping this country but I don’t know enough about all the details. I have probably not spent enough time reading and digesting the facts surrounding the current state of affairs because frankly my days are filled with too many things directly staring me in the face which can’t be ignored. That probably sums up the feelings of many of you.

What I do know is no matter who I speak with, Republicans and Democrats, Men and Women, those with money and those with out, even lefties and righties…there is something they all have in common. They have all lost confidence in the alleged leadership we have and don’t really think there is anyone on the horizon who can change that.

We read, watch and listen to our so-called representatives and come away convinced of one thing and one thing only. They will do what’s best for them from trying to stay in office to making their donors happy. When a congressman or senator says he or she is following the will of their constituents what they really mean is they’re doing what needs to be done for them to be re-elected. You can’t be fooled by their rhetoric because that’s all it is and polls and surveys show that our faith and confidence in elected leaders is at an all-time low…and sinking.

From President Bush down what we have in this country now is an absence of leadership and I’m one person who does not see a change regardless of who is elected in November. Do you really think your life will change if Obama is our next President or McCain? The system set up by our forefathers has failed because times have changed and Washington has become a giant game in which we’re the ball that gets thrown around from one side to the other. Sadly when this game ends we’ll be the losers on the scoreboard and that’s about the only result I can guarantee.