Friday, April 30, 2010

Changing Of The Guard

About 200 people attended Thursday’s Toms River-Ocean County Chamber of Commerce 47th Annual Gala at Eagle Ridge Golf Club in Lakewood. The dinner marks a changing of the guard when it comes to the Chamber’s Officers and Board of Directors while also honoring those who make a difference in our community. For the first time the “Distinguished Citizens of the Year” were a husband/wife team and nobody could argue with the selection of Stephen and Judi Leone. He is an attorney who serves on the Ocean County College Board of Trustees and is very involved in the Toms River Business Improvement District. She is a former teacher who donates time and energy to the New Jersey Council on the Arts, Garden State Philharmonic, Ocean’s Harbor House, Open Arms and OCC Scholarship Committee as well as others. A charming couple who have contributed much and were very deserving of the honor.

The J. Phillip Citta Regional Cancer Center at Community Medical Center was saluted as the “Organization of the Year” and accepting the honor was Dr. Lawrence Coia, Senior Advisor to the center and Rosanne Citta, President of the Citta Foundation and sister of the late Phil Citta for whom the cancer center is named. The generosity of the family in providing such an outstanding facility right here in Ocean County has made life much easier for local cancer patients who can get top-notch care and treatment at Community Medical Center without having to travel outside of the area.

Last night’s gala also saw Pat Blake of Sylvan Learning Center pass the gavel as Chairman to Ken Fitzpatrick of Raymond James Financial who will be joined on the Executive Board by Rich Krug of BASF, Frank Gelormini of Community Medical Center and JoAnn Parisi of Investors Savings Bank.
Past chairmen of the chamber in attendance were Harvey York, Joe Coronato, Gary Lotano, Linda Stefanik, Bob Shea, Dominick Servodio and yours truly.

All in all and good evening enjoyed by a lot of good people trying to make our community a better place to live, work and play.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wednesday & Thursday

Thursday, April 29

The Toms River-Ocean County Chamber of Commerce will hold its 47th annual reception and dinner tonight at Eagle Ridge Golf Club. I will serve as Master of Ceremonies during an evening which will find Stephan & Judi Leone honored as “Distinguished Citizens of the Year” and the J. Phillip Citta Regional Cancer Center at Community Medical Center saluted as “Organization of the Year.” Tonight’s gala will be the last for chamber President Lucy Greene, who is retiring from the full time position in June after 38 years of service.

Toms River South has ended Toms River North’s two-year reign as Ocean County Girls Golf Champions. The Indians captured the team title in the 3rd annual event on a windy Wednesday at Eagle Ridge in Lakewood, finishing three shots ahead of North with Lacey coming in third. The key for South was having three players finish in the top ten, led by senior Carlie Himelman who placed second. Dominique Bushong finished sixth and Chelsey Schiffermiller tenth for coach Brian Wilkinson’s squad.
The individual title went to sophomore Jess Kavanagh of Point Pleasant Boro, who shot a 92…three shots better than Himelman, whose father Bruce won the Ocean County Championship playing for Lakewood in the mid 70’s. Keeping it in the family…Kavanagh’s sister Kelsi was second in the first two county championships and is now a freshman at Monmouth University where she finished 23rd in the recent Northeast Conference Championships. The top three teams and top ten individuals qualified for the Shore Conference Tournament in early June.

Couldn’t help but notice a story that drivers in New Jersey pay more for vehicle repairs due to bad roads than any other state in the nation. A study revealed we pay almost $600 a year for problems related to bad roads which is well over the national average of $335. Based on what many of our roads look like after this winter and spring I would expect that number will rise even more in the future. It’s refreshing to know we in New Jersey lead the nation in something.


Wednesday, April 28


Some random notes and thoughts:


As I’ve done just about every year for as long as I can remember I participated in yesterday’s Career/Human Relations Day at Monsignor Donovan High School. The annual event is one I always enjoy as I spoke to three classes about the importance of career choice, even though its one they don’t have to be concerned with just yet. It was refreshing to be with students (well at least some of them) who seemed interested in what I had to say and appreciated the fact that people were volunteering their time to be with them. What was a real kick was talking with another career presenter who reminded me that I spoke to his class about ten years ago and tried to convince him and others not to pursue a career in communications. Fortunately he did not listen to me as he’s doing just that and very happy.

It may be temporary but if you glance at the Major League Baseball standings this morning you will see that first place in the National League East belongs to the New York Mets. They have won 6 straight and 8 of 9 on their current home stand which ends this afternoon against the Dodgers.
Considering the dreadful start they had Mets fans have to be very happy (and we are).

Happy to hear that Tony Caravella will among those honored at Brick Township High School School’s 7th Annual Wall of Fame Induction Ceremony on May 19th. Caravella wrestled for the Green Dragons and finished 4th in the 1974 state tournament before earning All American honors at Bloomsburg University. He is best known as the architect of the great wrestling program at Brick Memorial where he guided the Mustangs to three state titles and 12 Shore Conference Tournament championships before retiring from coaching. Caravella is the Supervisor of the Social Studies at Brick Memorial and spends much of his time rooting for his beloved New York Yankees. Others being inducted during the May 19th banquet at The Crystal Point are Barbara Brightly Ebner, Milton Estelle and James Rutter. For ticket information you can contact Bill Kleissler at Brick Township High School at (732) 262-2500, ext. 2023.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

If I Ran The World...

If ever there was a time when we need some creative ideas to make the world a more perfect place it is now. So here are some changes I recently came across which could certainly benefit most, if not all of us. Oh did I mention this is really for men!

• Carpentry, plumbing and electrical courses should be mandatory
for all boys in middle school.
• There should not be any bathroom attendants.
• Movie reviewers would be forbidden to call a movie the funniest
of the year until the following year.
• All base runners would score on a ground-rule double.
• Caddies would be prohibited on the pro golf tour. No other
athlete has a butler on the field with them and players should be able to figure out on their own what clubs to use.
• Jennifer Aniston would replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.
• All gutters would self-clean.
• Every fifth year would be free of federal income taxes and all of the following would be tax deductible….TV sports packages, alcoholic
beverages, poker losses and tickets to concerts and sporting events.
• Those little ketchup and mustard packets would be twice as big and
Easier to open.
• Women would start with the climax of their stories and then go back
To fill in the details but only if we ask.
• Parent-teacher nights would come with nachos and tequila shooters.
• Singing “Happy Birthday” at the office would result in immediate termination.
• If you set out to climb some huge mountain wearing shorts, a tee short and boots but then have to be rescued by 12 men, two helicopters and a team of huskies you have to repay the cost of being an idiot.
• Parents would strive to give their children self-reliance instead of self-esteem.
• Volunteering to put sunscreen on women would finally be seen for what it is….community service in cancer prevention.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Letting The Process Play Out

Needless to say Toms River is in the news these days and as is so often the case it’s not for something good because we know good news doesn’t really sell. The story involving Superintendent Michael J. Ritacco and the Toms River Regional School District will play out over the coming days, weeks and months and nobody really knows how it will end. Most rational people will allow the process to play itself out and depend on the justice system to work. However I can’t understand those that are almost joyful over what’s taken place because regardless of the outcome this is not something positive.

In conversation with some longtime residents they fear the negative connotations this will have on the town and especially the school district, which has been recognized throughout New Jersey for it’s creative approach in getting things done and maintaining a fair tax rate. There is no doubt the district has helped draw people to the area as schools are always a large reason why people move to or from towns. The fact that Toms River was among a handful of larger districts to approve their school budget just last week proves that by and large the community supports the programs in place.

While one can’t be na├»ve to the recent developments there cannot be a rush to judgment nor should anything take place that would interfere with the education of students, who believe it or not are much more pre-occupied by what’s going on in their lives. I attended a lip sync contest at Toms River High School South Friday night and everyone was focused on the stage and the performers….on Saturday night I went to a baseball game at Toms River North and all eyes were on the field and the players. That’s the way it should be.

It’s hard to imagine right now but there will be an end of this story some day. It’s how we treat the time between now and then that will really show our true colors.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Keeping It Light

I sort of felt like today’s segment had to be something on the lighter side because we sure have been exposed to plenty of heavy stuff recently.
So I came across something I actually did more than a year ago and it dealt with all the emails we receive that contain information supposedly important and informative. It’s sometimes difficult to decide what is truth and fiction
and I’m a bit screwed up because based on recent emails:

* I no longer open a public bathroom door without using a paper towel.
* I can’t put lemon slices in my water without worrying about the
bacteria on the lemon peel.
* I can’t use the TV remote in a hotel room because I don’t know what
the last person was doing while flipping through the channels…nor
can I sit down on the bedspread because I can only imagine what has
happened since the last time it was washed.
* I can’t touch a woman’s purse for fear she has placed it on the floor of
a public bathroom.
* I no longer use Saran wrap in the microwave because it causes cancer.
* I can’t answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a
number for which I will get a phone bill with calls to Uganda,
Singapore and places I can’t pronounce.
* I no longer have any money because I gave it all to the sick girl who is
about to die in the hospital for the millionth time…is she the same one
who wants to collect get well cards as a last wish?
* However the good news is that I will be getting $15,000 from AOL
and Microsoft for taking part in their special email program…man
they must have a lot of money to do this.
* At least I don’t have to worry about my soul because I have 300,000
angels looking out for me and St. Theresa’s novena has granted me
every wish.
* However I have also learned that my prayers only get answered if I
forward an email to 7 of my friends and make a wish within five
minutes. Is someone actually keeping time because it would tick me
off if I lost out on something by a minute to two.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Average Guy

When I was a kid we always had at least one dog as a pet so when my children wanted one about 13 years ago it didn’t take too much convincing… after all some will tell out a family is not complete until
they have a pet. That experience did not go well or last long as after several weeks and several hundred dollars we found a new home for our golden retriever puppy. “Bailey” was better off and so were we because as my daughter said at the time…”we’re not dog people.”

Anyway Pets and Men are the subject of this month’s “The Average Guy” feature in Men’s Health magazine and here are some stats on man’s best friend:

• 78% of men surveyed currently own a pet while only 3% have never owned one in their lifetime.
• Of course dogs are the most popular pets and we men favor the Labrador retriever when it comes to breeds.
• The average dog costs owners about $717 a year but if you’re looking to save money on pets then go for a fish…they only cost
about $35 each year.
• Nearly 70% of men give their pets gifts on birthdays and holidays
and 19% have dressed them up for Halloween or Christmas.
• 1 in 6 men have a picture of their pet on their desk at work and 1 in 10 say they’ve been told they look like their pet.
• 20% of men have used their pet to pick up women and 78% of those who tried said it worked.
• 72% said they would risk their lives to save their pet and 58% of men would refuse an evacuation order if they could not bring their
favorite creature with them.
• 25% held a funeral for their pet and 68% buried it in the backyard.
• 7% actually made financial arrangements for their pet in their will.
• As for replacing a dead pet…the average time a man will wait is one year.

The world really is going to the dogs isn’t it?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

School Board Elections

(Tuesday's Hometown View is below Wednesday's)

Some post-election thoughts a day after the annual School Election, which in the past has been of little interest to most:

*24% of registered voters in Ocean County cast ballots Tuesday, the biggest turnout on record and quite a bit more than the 13.5% who voted last year.

*Only 11 of the 28 school districts passed their budget compared to last year when 23 spending plans were approved. Most of the 11 that did pass were smaller districts with the exceptions being Toms River Regional, Southern Regional and Stafford Township who managed to buck the trend. What really stood out was how many districts had their budgets rejected overwhelmingly which would account for the bigger turnout….those who usually don’t vote in the school election but did were voting “no.”

*As far as races for the Board of Education the one that garnered the most interest was in Brick Township where coaching legend Warren Wolf and John Talty scored convincing victories. Wolf collected 7,094 votes and Talty 6,776 to take the two spots up for election…the next closest candidate had just over 2,900 votes. Of course what’s fascinating about this election is it came on the heels of Wolf’s bitter feelings about the school board’s handling of the situation when he retired as football coach at Brick Township High School after 51 years. He wanted the job to go someone with a connection to the Green Dragons program but the Board brought in an outside, Patrick Dowling after several heated public meetings. The 82-year old Wolf subsequently ended his retirement and will be coaching at Lakewood High School this fall. However many are wondering about the fall out now that he and Talty have replaced incumbents Daniel Woska and Virginia Reinhold.

*I wonder if Governor Chris Christie is a happy man this morning considering he encouraged voters to reject budgets in most cases. I assume he’ll take the results as an endorsement of his policy but only time will tell if he’s a hero or villain.

*My 18-year old daughter voted for the first time yesterday and was really excited about taking part in the process. Voting is something we should never overlook and take for granted.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New Jersey’s Annual School Election is today with districts voting on budgets and school board positions. Normally a small percentage of voters take part in this election…over the last 25 years the average state-wide turnout was just over 14%. There seems to be more interest than usual this time around for two main reasons….the dreary financial state of affairs in New Jersey and Governor Christie’s on-going battle with the New Jersey Education Association. The Governor in my opinion is seeking to make the teachers union and school districts themselves the fall guys for everything that’s wrong instead of pointing the finger where it should be…Trenton and years of fiscal mismanagement. As one who supported Christie and some of his tough decisions aimed at reversing horrific budget problems I am extremely disappointed at his tactics in regards to education. At the head of the list are statements encouraging voters to turn down budgets in districts where teachers have not accepted wage freezes.

I am no fan of the NJEA but the Governor is way off base when it comes to this and it’s unfair to put all these districts into one category which he has.
Many have already made significant cuts in the spending plans up for election today, including administrative wage freezes, teacher and staff layoffs, dramatic cuts to established programs (including athletics) and much more. To penalize a district because their teachers union has not agreed to a wage freeze is completely unfair to everyone involved, especially students and their parents. Regardless of what Governor Christie says today is not the day to punish and take out your frustrations but rather hopefully make a well-informed decision when you cast your ballot.

The bottom line is the overwhelming majority of us believe the use of property taxes to fund education is archaic and in need of an overhaul. However school districts should not be blamed but rather our elected representatives who talk of change but fail to deliver. I feat that most budgets will be rejected today simply because of the times we live in and the fall out might be great. The only hope is parents of school-age children will flock to the polls and support their budgets because if not then they can blame themselves next year when their kids have to walk further to and from school and they’re home early because their sports program was eliminated.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Updates On Local Athletes

I start this week by updating you on some local athletes that people are always asking me about:

Toms River’s Frazier brothers are both off to slow starts playing in baseball’s “Triple A” International League which is just one step below the majors. Jeff is an outfielder with the Toledo Mud Hens and through ten games was batting .188 with a home run and two RBI’s for the Detroit Tigers affiliate. Younger brother Todd is with the Louisville Bats, playing mostly third base where he’s hitting .161 with a homer and four RBI’s. The
Cincinnati Reds top prospect is expected to get his first taste of the major leagues at some point this season. While their numbers are not impressive keep in mind we are talking about a point in the season where a few good games and you raise your batting average considerably.

A couple of former Ocean County high school football standouts have big weeks coming up for very different reasons. Brick’s Garrett Graham awaits the NFL Draft to find out where his football future is headed after an outstanding career at the University of Wisconsin. The 6’3, 245 pound former Brick Memorial Mustang is ranked anywhere from fifth to tenth among the top tight ends in the draft and most experts have him going somewhere between rounds 3-5…obviously the higher he goes the better contract he can demand. The first round of the draft is Thursday night in New York and it continues Friday & Saturday…you can be sure the Graham family will be watching closely.

The start of his career at Penn State was delayed a bit but things seem to be going very well for Glenn Carson, an All-State linebacker at Southern Regional High School in 2008. Carson has made a nice impression on the coaching staff during spring practice which culminates with the Blue & White game this Saturday. He is currently listed as 3rd team inside linebacker and there is talk that he might not red-shirt this fall, but see action on special teams. As many as 70,000 are expected for the intra-squad scrimmage this Saturday.

If you’re a Phillies fan than tomorrow night you can see starting pitcher Joe Blanton in action close to home. Blanton will make a rehab start for the Lakewood BlueClaws at FirstEnergy Park.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Karoke Fun

Tim O’Leary was home in Lavallette for Thanksgiving when he found out that the Crab’s Claw Inn was holding weekly Karaoke contests with a $1000 grand prize to the winner at the very end of the competition. The 28-year old who teaches writing and now lives in New York City hit the stage that night more than five months ago and it paid off. Last night he dazzled a packed house and wowed the judges, of which I was one to capture the top spot among the four finalists. O’Leary opened with a Josh Groban ballad which was very good but it was his rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen which separated him from the other contestants and clinched the $1000 top prize. Second place and $500 went to Sophia Dulitosh of Bay Head, Toms River’s Ricky Waller was third and Meredith Wilson from King of Prussia, PA finished fourth.

As one who can’t carry a note what impressed me the most is the fun everyone seemed to have and while the stakes and crowd were bigger I’m told it’s pretty much like that every Wednesday night. Last night’s show included a couple of group numbers and also brought back some of the weekly regulars who have their own little support groups, including last year’s champion Greg Walls who was back as a judge. Host Cindy Datoli ran the show with help from Dave of Karaoke on Fire and while last night was supposed to be the end the Crabs Claw has decided to hold weekly contests every Wednesday until the end of May. They won’t need any judges but if I’m asked I’ll be back next spring…well maybe.

Congratulations to Brick Township High School softball player Heather Figula for pitching a perfect game Tuesday as the Green Dragons routed Toms River South. Speaking of Brick, the Green Dragons baseball team
has really opened some eyes over the first two weeks of the season. Picked to finish last in Class A South, Brick is tied for the division lead after beating the shore’s top ranked team Toms River South earlier this week. The Green Dragons are 6-1 overall under coach Jason Groschel and have already matched their win total from all of last season…they host Toms River East.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Thank You Lucy!

The Toms River-Ocean County Chamber of Commerce will hold its 47th annual Reception & Dinner Gala on April 29th at Eagle Ridge Golf Club
In Lakewood. Being honored as Distinguished Citizens of the Year are Stephan and Judi Leone while the J. Phillip Citta Regional Cancer Center at Community Medical Center will be saluted as the Organization of the Year.

The evening will also mark an end to my five years as an Executive Officer on the Chamber’s Board of Directors but much more noteworthy is this gala will be the last with Lucy Greene as President and CEO. The heart and soul of the organization, she announced her full-time retirement at a recent board meeting effective in June. Lucy has given 38 years of service to making the Toms River-Ocean County Chamber of Commerce a strong advocate for the business community but even more important is the way she’s achieved this.

Through good times and bad she has worked with countless political and civic leaders in a non-confrontational and non-threatening manner…sort of a “kill them with kindness” style. However many have learned not to take her for granted because she has been a very strong leader. What’s also made her so effective is the way she has lived her life…totally dedicated to her family, her church and her community. When Lucy announced her retirement to the board she cited two reasons, the first of which was to serve The Lord in a fuller capacity. She was recently appointed by the New Jersey Conference of Churches to develop prison ministries in various churches of her denomination in the state, a volunteer position for someone who clearly knows the meaning of “volunteerism.” The second reason for retiring was so she and her husband Bob can help and spend more time with their two grandchildren.

The good news is Lucy is not leaving all together and will help with upcoming events and consult where needed and you can be sure she will be needed. So while her journey will take her in a different direction the Toms River-Ocean County Chamber of Commerce will still be a part of her life.
I am among the many that have been blessed with the opportunity to work with her but more importantly call her a friend.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fore!

Tis’ the season for golf outings as hardly a day goes by in which an organization is not holding a fundraiser at one of the area golf clubs.
Time will simply not allow us to mention them all but here’s a few coming up during the month of May:

The Ocean County College Foundation will hold their 9th annual Golf Outing on Tuesday, May 4th at Eagle Ridge Golf Club in Lakewood. Toms River attorney Michael York is the Chairperson for the event, which raised more than $45,000 last year to assist students at OCC. For information you can contact the Foundation Office at (732) 255-0492.

The Griffin Football Association will host the St. Joseph/Monsignor Donovan High School Alumni Golf Outing on Friday, May 7th at Cream Ridge Golf Course. Proceeds will fund scholarship and tuition assistance programs for students at Monsignor Donovan. Those interested in playing golf or just attending the dinner afterwards can contact Donna Gantt Milana at (732) 349-8801 x2439.

The Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore’s annual golf classic is set for Monday, May 10th at Pine Barrens in Jackson. Nina Anuario of OceanFirst Bank and George Campbell of Investors Savings Bank are co-chairs for the event which helps support Girl Scout programs in Ocean & Monmouth County.
For information you can call (800) 785-2090. I will serve as Master of Ceremonies for the awards dinner.

Brick Township PBA Local 230 presents their annual Richard J. Harper Memorial Golf Tournament on Thursday, May 20th at Woodlake County Club in Lakewood. All proceeds go directly to the Harper Memorial Scholarship Fund which is open to students pursuing a degree in criminal justice after graduating from Brick or Brick Memorial High School OR children of Brick Township Police Officers. For information you can contact Dan Waleski at (732) 262-1170.

Okay that’s just a few golf events coming up in May…if you missed any of the information you can read it later on my blog at wobm.com (wobmam.com)

Monday, April 12, 2010

An Incredible Weekend Of Sports

Just an incredible weekend of sports…locally, nationally and even internationally.

Let’s start with the Masters Golf championship which provided more breath-taking shots than I can ever remember and when it was over the sport’s most popular player collected an emotional victory. Phil Mickelson won for the third time at Augusta National and he did so with both his wife and mother on hand to greet him at the 18th hole. Amy and Mary Mickelson are both battling breast cancer and to say the tears were flowing at the end would be an understatement. Golf’s biggest event of course featured the return of Tiger Woods who at times looked helpless, especially off the tee but somehow managed to finish in a tie for fourth place. Tiger was not happy with his performance and gave no indication as to when he’ll play again but his return provided a big boost to the TV ratings.

I was going back and forth between the golf and hockey late in the afternoon as the Rangers and Flyers played an intense and exciting game on the final day of the regular season in which the loser was going to miss the playoffs. That turned out to be the Rangers, who fell in a shootout and saw their season come to an end. The Flyers meanwhile will take on the Devils in the first round of the playoffs beginning Wednesday night in New Jersey.

Kudos to Toms River’s Frank Edgar who on Saturday stunned B.J. Penn in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates to win the Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight championship. The 28-year old former wrestler at Toms River East and Clarion University and current Rutgers assistant coach was an 8-1 underdog but scored a unanimous decision victory to improve his career record to 12-1. Nicknamed “The Answer” Edgar returned home to Toms River last night. He and his wife Renee have a 15-month old son.

Another successful weekend for the Ocean County College sailing team which not only hosted but won the Middle Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association’s Team Regatta. Under the direction of Roy Wilkins, the Vikings sailing program beat out the likes of Cornell, Colgate and Princeton
at the Toms River Yacht Club.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Play Ball!

When officials first announced the birth of a minor league baseball team in Lakewood more than a decade ago I don’t think even they could imagine the success that would come to that franchise. That first press conference in November of 1999 was held in a temporary office in the Lakewood Industrial Park as owner Joe Finley introduced Geoff Brown as the team’s General Manager. A few months later they gathered again to announce that BlueClaws was chosen as the name of the team and then in the spring of 2000 ground was broken on the stadium that would become their home…a stadium that has helped them lead the South Atlantic League in attendance every year of their existence.

Tonight the Lakewood BlueClaws, Class A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies open their 10th season in Asheville, North Carolina against the Tourists. The BlueClaws are the defending South Atlantic League champions, having won their second title in the last four years last September. Unlike the major leagues though minor league baseball comes with a near 100% turnover and not only are the players new but for the eighth time in 10 years there will be a different manager. 48-year old Mark Parent is a former major league catcher whose last baseball job was as manager of a team in the Golden Baseball League in 2007. He’ll help guide a team that seems to have a lot of talent and potential and is young…including 17-year old outfielder Domingo Santana.

Local fans will get their first chance to see the 2010 edition of the BlueClaws next Friday (April 16) when they open an 8-game home stand at FirstEnergy Park. However as in the past you can follow the team on our Shore Sports Network as once again 1160 WOBM AM and Fox Sports 1310 are the official radio stations of the BlueClaws and will carry all 140 regular season games. Greg Giombarrese is back for his second season as the play-by-play voice of the team with David Foley joining him on our broadcasts.
As a footnote this week saw Geoff Brown present championship rings to our company president Bill Saurer, Program Director Steve Ardolina and yours truly during a ceremony at home plate. It’s a nice perk to being the team’s radio home but I could do without the Phillies logo on the ring.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Flying The Costly Skies

It’s funny sometimes how things you talk about come back around.
Take for example a conversation I had with a Spirit Airlines flight attendant a couple of weeks ago. I had paid $25 to check a piece of luggage which was too large to take on the plane. My complaint was that our flight was actually being held up because so many people carried on bags and there was no room to store them. She admitted that it really didn’t make sense because very often it’s a large problem because many travelers try and beat the cost of checking luggage by squeezing bags onto the plane. She even told me that some of her fellow workers had proposed to the airlines that they charge people who carry on bags instead of those who check them in advance. Well it turns out she was on to something because Spirit has announced that beginning August 1 they will become the first airline to charge passengers for carrying on bags and it won’t be cheap. If you pay in advance it will be $30 but if you wait until you get to the gate than the cost will be $45. This is for items that are stored in the overhead bins and you can only have one. Things like purses and computers which will fit under the seat will not require an extra charge. While Spirit officials insist they have lowered most of their fares they do kill you in extra costs, including $16 for booking on their web site and it was $3 for a bottle of water on my flight and you had to pay with a credit card.

While at the Toms River North-Toms River South baseball game last night I heard for the first time about an incident last week that involved Rutgers basketball coach Fred Hill Jr. Turns out it’s one that could cost him his job just a few weeks after he appeared safe for another season. Reports indicate that Hill got into a profanity-filled tirade with the Pittsburgh coaching staff during a baseball game between the schools…his father Fred Sr. is the Scarlet Knights baseball coach. The incident is being investigated and there might be grounds for Rutgers to fire Hill based on his behavior and not be obligated to pay him the $1.8 million left on his contract. Ironically the biggest factor in Hill keeping his basketball job might have been the buyout he would have received for being fired…now he could lose his job and most if not all of the money.

By the way, South improved to 4-0 with a 9-1 victory over North, who is off to an 0-3 start. Andrew McGee tossed a 4-hitter and Michael Coon doubled, homered and drove in 3 runs.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Governor Vs, The Union

Regardless of who you agree with in what’s become a battle between Governor Christie and the New Jersey Education Association the downside is that many are viewing teachers in a negative light and much of that is not deserved. As in most cases like this when you speak in generalities you often overlook a lot. Some are portraying teachers as only caring about themselves and not their students and in the overwhelming majority of cases I do not think that’s accurate. It’s ironic in that when teachers made paltry salaries the public seemed to have a higher opinion of the profession and understood that the big perk was a good benefits package. However as salaries increased, especially over the last decade or so the image of the teaching profession took a hit. Seems a bit confusing that you would think less of a job just because the salary finally came more in line with what it should have been.

As an outsider it would seem the problem rests more with the teachers union then the profession itself. I’m sorry to say but the NJEA does not come off as understanding that the financial crisis in New Jersey is real and they need to be part of the solution. The association does not seem willing to accept that change is needed and yes in some cases that change may hurt their members in the short term. However in the long run there is much to gain if they can find a way to work with a Governor whose election they opposed last fall. Christie himself needs to recognize that the current war of words with the NJEA will not result in any winners but rather just losers. He should make every attempt to listen and see if there are better options to tackle today’s issues and explore every one of them.

At the end of the day this is a major item here in New Jersey and one that will have implications for years to come. Teaching is a noble profession and as a parent my children have made many who went above and beyond when it came to doing all they could for their students from coming in early to staying late. These teachers deserve our support but at the same time they need to make sure their union does a better job of understanding the crisis we all face.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday Thoughts

Random notes and thoughts following maybe the nicest Easter Sunday ever
at the Jersey Shore:

It felt more like June than early April but after the winter we had it was a welcome sight. As you might expect many headed to the boardwalks in Seaside Heights and Point Pleasant Beach for annual “best dressed” contests
or just to take a stroll, ride the rides for the first time this season or maybe even walk the beach. It was a far cry from many Easters when winter coats, gloves and hats were needed and if you needed further proof that it was indeed summer-like than you should have seen the traffic heading north on the Garden State Parkway last night.

The Major League Baseball season started last night with another one of those wild Yankee-Red Sox games. It took 3 hours and 46 minutes and 11 pitchers to play the opener at Fenway Park with Boston rallying from an early 5-1 deficit to win it 9-7. The winning run scored thanks to a wild pitch and passed ball and it was an exciting way to start the season. The Mets & Phillies begin their seasons this afternoon with the Mets home to face Florida and the Phills in Washington where President Obama will throw out the first pitch. Speaking of the President did you check out his jump shot over the weekend when he played college basketball broadcaster Clark Kellogg in a game of HORSE? The sweet-shooting lefty was especially deadly from the corner as he rallied to knock off the former Ohio State All-American. If only he could play foreign leaders with bigger stakes.

Toms River North and Toms River South are expected to battle it out for the Class A South Girls Lacrosse title this spring but the Mariners won the first meeting between the teams convincingly on Saturday. Not only did North prevail 17-8 but they had two players score their 100th career goals in the same game. Monmouth University-bound senior Alex McMahon and junior Tatum Coffey each reached the century mark and combined for 11 goals in the game. Congratulations to both.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Welcome April

First of all no April Fool’s pranks this year…I promise.

One of the truly great football rivalries in the shore is the one between Neptune and Asbury Park. The two Monmouth County schools have been playing on Thanksgiving Day for 82 years with Neptune holding a slight advantage in the series. There’s now an interesting twist to the rivalry in that Don Sofilkanich is leaving Asbury Park to take the head coaching position at Neptune. Sofilkanich turned the Blue Bishop program around in his three years, winning three consecutive Central Jersey Group 1 Championships and piling up an impressive 33-3 record. He leaves the Blue Bishops for a Scarlet Fliers team that has been in the state playoffs the last two years and returns highly-regarded running back Charles Davis.
Sofilkanich replaces John Fiore, who might not have been re-hired but resigned before a final decision was made. Fiore was recently named the head coach at Montclair High School. There are still two schools that don’t have coaches in place for next season….Freehold Township and now Asbury Park.

It should be a magnificent Easter Sunday and once again Seaside Heights will hold its annual contest to find the best Easter outfits. There will be cash prizes in several categories and registration begins at 11am outside the information booth on the boardwalk at Webster Avenue. The contest itself will be held on the Franklin Avenue stage at 1pm and the MC’s will be Joe Giglio and Mike Krenek, co-hosts of Millennium Radio’s “Shore Sports Report.” Easter Sunday in Seaside Heights will also feature bike raffles and flowers being given away by the Mayor and Borough Council.

Couldn’t help but notice that when the Jackson Township School District introduced their budget it included a plan to charge students $25 to participate in activities and $50 to play sports. This has been done in other states for years and I am sure it will be commonplace around here before too long.