Friday, July 29, 2011

Random Thoughts On A Summer Friday

Random thoughts and notes heading into the final weekend of July:

The drowning death this week of a 9-year old Morris County girl in a hotel pool while on vacation in Seaside Heights is a stark reminder in just a matter of minutes a tragedy like this can occur. What makes it so shocking is that girl’s mother was at the pool and did not even realize the child had sunk to the bottom.

In recent years women have made progress when it comes to careers in law enforcement and further proof of that will come Monday morning when Karin DiMichele is sworn in as the Chief of Police in Berkeley Township. The 40-year old will not only be the first female police chief in township history but the first to hold the spot of “top cop” with any police department in Ocean County. A lifelong Berkeley resident and Central Regional High School graduate, DiMichele will be one of just 5 women to hold the rank of police chief in New Jersey when she succeeds the retired John Weinlein. Her husband Thomas is a police officer in Toms River and the couple has twin 6-year old daughters.

Sunday’s running of the $1 million Resorts Casino-Hotel Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park may not have the type of anticipation of recent years but it still brings together two of the three Triple Crown winners. “Shackleford”, winner of the Preakness Stakes is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the field of 8 while Belmont Stakes winner “Ruler On Ice” is co-third choice at 4-1. Ruler On Ice is based at Monmouth Park as is stable mate “Pants On Fire”, who is also 4-1…both horses are trained by Kelly Breen of Farmingdale. Sunday’s race will be televised live during a one-hour broadcast on ABC from 5-6pm.

Toms River’s Todd Frazier made his third start with the Cincinnati Reds Thursday, going 1-3 with a double and two runs scored in a loss to the Mets. The 25-year old has played both third and first base since being called up from the minor leagues a week ago and is looking more and more comfortable at the plate with each opportunity. The big question is how long he’ll stay with the Reds as he’s up because of an injury to Scott Rolen. Bottom line is this…if Todd hits they’ll find a place for him.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Toms River East Heads West

Every once in a while I get to mention something that is just plain cool and exciting and this falls into that category:

For the second straight year Toms River High School East is heading to California to compete in the Hurley Walk the Walk National Championship, the world’s largest high school fashion competition. It will take place next Thursday in Huntington Beach at the U.S. Open of Surfing with Toms River East to battle Kellam of Virginia Beach, Grossmont of San Diego, Peterborough from Ontario, Canada and defending champion Corona del Mar of Southern California in the finals with the winner to bring home $25,000 to their school.

Toms River East qualified for the finals based on their performance during the preliminary round where competing schools created and submitted online videos that were judged by Hurley executives and voted upon online. For the last two months 20 students and 5 teachers have been creating a 5-minute runway performance complete with musical soundtrack, choreography, props and fashion design which will be featured during the event next week. In doing some research on the event I have seen a few comments describing it as “Friday Night Lights” meets “Project Runway” and some 10,000 people are expected to witness the finals. Hurley, which is a youth lifestyle brand connected with surfing, skate and music pays all major expenses including airfare, hotel accommodations and even some meals. Assistant Principal Pat Thomas, 5 teachers, including Diane Morrissey and 20 students will leave next Tuesday for a “once in a lifetime experiences” that’s actually happening for the second straight year.

For those of you in the Toms River area that get TV21, the channel will stream footage of the Walk the Walk finals live on Thursday, August 4th beginning at 7pm our time and it can also be viewed at Once the competition is over you can vote for Toms River East on that site. Here’s wishing the students all the best as what they’ve done is truly worth recognizing.

On an unrelated note the new football coach at Lakewood High School is a former Piner who has spent the last six years as an assistant. L.J. Clark succeeds Warren Wolf who retired last month after serving as Lakewood coach for one season following 51 years at Brick.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Night At The Ballpark

The success of the Lakewood BlueClaws is truly amazing and shows no signs of slowing down in their 11th season. Last night our shore group of radio stations occupied a good portion of the third base picnic area during our annual family outing. On a perfect July evening we enjoyed baseball and burgers and each other’s company and of course we were not alone. Just over 6,800 others decided to do the same thing on a Tuesday night and at this time of year as long as the weather cooperates FirstEnergy Park is usually pretty filled up. Lakewood has led the 14-team South Atlantic League in attendance in each of their first 10 years and they’re on their way to making it a perfect 11 for 11. The BlueClaws have drawn 284,239 fans through 48 dates, averaging just over 5900 per game which is about 200 fans more per game than the second-place Greensboro Grasshoppers. The BlueClaws numbers are made more impressive by the fact that the weather has not exactly been great for them this season with five rainouts and a handful of games played in extreme heat.

On the field the BlueClaws have won three South Atlantic League championships
in the last five years and that includes back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. It did not look like this team had any chance of making it a “three peat” as they got off to a slow start and have had trouble scoring runs. Lakewood finished last in the Northern Division’s first half race and probably the only way they can make the playoffs is to win the second half. With last night’s 4-3 victory over Augusta the BlueClaws moved into second place and are just two games back of Hickory so they remain very much alive in the playoff race.

Of course to most of those at last night’s game the BlueClaws are not just a baseball team but an experience and it’s what’s made the Class A affiliate of the Phillies such a great success story. From little kids throwing out opening pitches, to eyeball races and special promotions a night at FirstEnergy Park is chock full of events. While some are watching Jim Murphy at-bats others are watching their children play in the Kids Zone or waiting in line for funnel cake. And they keep coming…night after night and season after season.

The Lakewood BlueClaws are no longer new…but they are always relevant and looking for new ideas that make a night at the ballpark a truly great part of summer at the Jersey Shore.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Todd Frazier Back In The Big Leagues

(Note: There was no Hometown View on Monday, July 25)

It’s been an exciting few days for Toms River’s Todd Frazier, who was called up by the Cincinnati Reds on Friday and made his second major league start Monday night against the Mets at Great American Ballpark. The 25-year old former Toms River South and Rutgers University standout was at first base last night and went 1-4, beating out an infield single against Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Frazier
started at third base Saturday for the Reds and delivered a three-run double in a win over the Braves…just missing a grand slam. Since coming up this weekend he is 3-9 in his second major league stint of the season and with a couple of regulars suffering from injuries it looks like Frazier will get more opportunities to contribute. He has also been mentioned as a player the Reds could use in a trade for a pitcher before the July 31st deadline.

Football fans can breathe a sigh of relief now that there is labor peace and it’s back to business in the NFL. This will be a wild week or two with training camps opening and teams deciding what to do with their free agent players as well as the hundreds of others that are now available. As to which side prevailed in the long, drawn-out labor dispute…does it really matter? Not to me and most fans who are just happy that the game has returned.

Will the Holbrook Little League of Jackson be the latest from Ocean County to advance to Bristol, Connecticut and possibly even Williamsport, Pennsylvania? We will find out beginning later this week when the District 18 and Section 3 champs begin play in the New Jersey State Tournament in Monroe Township. Holbrook will play Livingston American Friday night at 8pm following a game between Paramus and Erial. The survivor in the double-elimination tournament represents New Jersey in the Mid-Atlantic Regional’s next month in Bristol.
This is the first trip ever for the Holbrook 12-year olds to the state tournament.

We have terrific neighbors and last night several of them surprised my wife Jane and me by joining us for dinner at The Crab’s Claw Inn in Lavallette. We were planning on a quiet 30th anniversary dinner before basically being hijacked and it turned out to be a very enjoyable evening with our daughter Alex waiting on us. Food and service were both great as are our neighbors.

Friday, July 22, 2011

32 Years At WOBM

A little of this and a little of that on the hottest day of the year!

I’m not exactly sure of the date but I believe tomorrow is my 32nd anniversary at WOBM. Things certainly have changed from that July day when I walked into the Bayville building as a 23-year old expecting this would be a mere pit stop on my way to fame and fortune. Obviously my crew did not do a great job because I’m still stuck on pit row but I guess the good news is my car is still running. Like anything else there have been highs and lows, positives and negatives, good times and bad. I’ve seen hundreds of people come and go…some I was glad to say good bye to and others whose departure was a sad occasion. I’ve gone through ownership changes, including one right now but my key still gets me in the building and my office each day. Most importantly, through it all I still really like what I do and maybe, just maybe I’ll be here for year #33 next July.

The Holbrook Little League All-Stars have reached the championship round of the Section 3 Tournament in Tinton Falls. The 12-year olds from Jackson beat North Howell 5-1 Thursday night behind the four-hit pitching effort of Andrew Trent.
Holbrook, who won their first District 18 title just last week move into the championship game Saturday night against the winner of tonight’s loser’s bracket final between North Howell and Woodbridge American. Should Holbrook win the sectional they would go on to the state tournament in Monroe Township.

The BlueClaws are in the midst of a nice home stand and tomorrow night they will honor fallen Lakewood police officer Christopher Matlosz and host a fundraiser in his name. The 27-year old Matlosz was killed in the line of duty in January and before tomorrow night’s 7:05 game against Augusta he will be honored during a pre-game ceremony plus BlueClaws players will wear Lakewood Police Department hats during the game. In addition $3 from every ticket sold will go to “Holding Onto Hope,” a foundation set up by Matlosz’s fiancée Kelly Walsifer. Special tee-shirts will also be sold at the game.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Excessive Snow Or Excessive Heat?

Before you step outside today I would like you to flash back to December 26, the day after Christmas. Snow began falling in our area during the late morning hours and by the afternoon we were in the midst of a blizzard that would dump as much as 30 inches in some parts. Some were stranded for days waiting for their streets to be plowed and for the better part of a week others were greatly inconvenienced by the impact of the snowstorm. At that time we promised not to complain ever again about hot weather in the summer. (A listener photo from Point Pleasant following that storm is posted above)

I remind you of this nearly 7 months later as we deal with an official heat wave that could bring us triple digit numbers over the next 48 hours or so. There will be no way to escape the heat outside and if you’re heading to the beach you need to pray for a breeze coming off the ocean. I’m sure our power supplies will be pushed, air conditioners will break, cars will overheat and patience will be tested. But no matter what you won’t have to bundle up and go outside for hours digging out your car and clearing your driveway. I for one will take the heat.

By the way there are some common sense ways to deal with the hot weather, including wearing light color and loose fitting clothing. Drink plenty of water, don’t push yourself (especially during the middle of the day) and keep the AC running. Speaking of running, even if you’re in good shape going for a 5-mile run in the afternoon hours is just plain stupid. Head out early in the morning or later at night if you must…same advice for any sports teams. Finally remember December 26th because the effects of this heat wave will disappear much quicker than it took for the snow to melt.

Couple of quick hitters:

Jay Price is the new football coach at Manasquan High School as he was hired this week to replace Pete Cahill, who gave up the position to become a Vice Principal. Price, who played for the Warriors under the late Vic Kubu, has been a longtime defensive assistant coach under both Kubu & Cahill.

A pair of former Ocean County High School football standouts now at Monmouth University have been named to Phil Steele’s Preseason All-Northeast Conference teams. Among the six Hawks selected to the squad were junior offensive lineman Mike Murphy out of Toms River East and Manchester sophomore defensive tackle Jimmy Lawson.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lunch Dilemma

I guess we all have quirks when it comes to food but I am starting to get the feeling that mine when it deals with lunch might separate me from many of my co-workers. At least a few times a week there will be discussion in the office about what to do for lunch, which we might get delivered or have someone run out to pick up. I never leave the office for lunch and often will settle for a yogurt or something small. However when the discussion centers around what to do I always respond with “you tell me where you’re going and I’ll find something.” That something though has to be cold because I simply can’t understand how anyone can eat a hot meal for lunch, especially in the summer. Things like Chinese food or soup or any kind of full meal just don’t work. As a matter of fact when it comes to soup I have a 50-degree rule…if it’s over 50 outside than soup is not coming inside. Give me a sandwich, wrap, Panini…even a salad but if it’s hot then it’s got to wait for dinner. Of course there is one exception…pizza is good 24/7.

Yesterday we got into this discussion in which I got the impression that everyone else thought I was weird because just about every food item that was brought up I rejected before I finally settled for a tuna fish sandwich. By the way part of why they all seem to think I’m wacked has to do with the fact I get up by 3am so lunch for me would be like dinner time for many. As a matter of fact some of my early-morning co-workers think nothing of eating lunch or dinner items in the AM because of their body clocks. Just does not work for me, regardless of when I get up. If you’re getting the sense this is a real “soft” topic for the day…you’re right.

Couple of totally unrelated notes:

Fresh off its District 18 championship the Holbrook Little League All-Stars scored four runs in the 6th inning and beat Nottingham 5-2 in their Section 3 Tournament opener Tuesday in Tinton Falls. Doubles by Tyler Babin and Dan Barker keyed the comeback for Holbrook, who will next play North Howell Thursday night.

Congratulations to Jim Hauenstein, who last night was named an Assistant Superintendent in the Toms River Regional School District. Hauenstein has been the principal at Toms River High School North and by all accounts has done a terrific job in the district’s largest high school. I have worked with him on several projects and he is always been very cooperative and usually the first to respond.
I’m sure he will be a great asset to Superintendent Frank Roselli in his new position.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Swimming Without A Lifeguard

It was not the ideal night for a lifeguard tournament with strong winds and rather cold water but it did not hurt the performance of the beach patrol from Surf City as they claimed the annual Seaside Park Lifeguard Tournament. Captain Mark DiLeo led his group past nine others as Surf City finished with 45 points, ten more than runner-up and host Seaside Park. Defending champion Ortley Beach had to settle for a third place finish and Island Beach came in fourth. The event was sponsored by Seaside Park Service Center, Surf Taco, B&B Department Store and the Sawmill Café. As I usually do I served as a lane judge working with the group from my home beach Seaside Park who had to be very pleased with their second-place finish. All in all a good night of competition and camaraderie by men and women who know and respect the ocean.

It was interesting to me that even while the lifeguard tournament was being held there were several after-hours swimmers nearby as hot weather has been and will result in many staying late on the beach this week. An article in today’s Asbury Park Press addresses the dilemma this presents for towns and their lifeguards as in most cases tragedies result when beaches are not protected. Especially on hot weekends it’s not unusual to see hundreds of people in the ocean before and after lifeguards leave for the day and in most cases we are talking about bathers who don’t swim well and know little about rip currents and water conditions. While signs and even announcements may tell them they are swimming at their own risk
to them it’s a small price to pay for a cool dip on a hot day. The dilemma is whether or not resort towns have an obligation to take extra measures to protect these swimmers by keeping some lifeguards on duty, especially if water conditions are rough and dangerous. Of course like most everything else it all comes down to money and budgets….that is until a drowning takes place.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Agony Of Defeat

Note: There was no Hometown View on Friday, July 15.

It was certainly not the script that was expected to be written, at least not after the dramatic way in which the United States reached the final of the Women’s World Cup in Germany. However on Sunday a very resilient group of Japanese women twice battled back from one goal deficits and then stunned the U.S. in penalty kicks to become the first Asian team to win the World Cup. Even more remarkable was that it was the first time Japan had beaten the American women in 26 tries. Much like the Saints winning the Super Bowl a couple of years ago was great for the city of New Orleans, the victory is meaningful to a country recovering from the tragedy of that earthquake and tsunami months ago.

Certainly for some of those in Point Pleasant & Manasquan the loss is even tougher to accept. That’s because the captain of the U.S. team and America’s premier “soccer mom” in 36-year old Christie Rampone, a former high school star at Point Boro and now resident of the community just north . Rampone is not done yet wearing the red, white and blue as she’ll stay with the team through next summer’s Olympics in London before retiring.

Final thought on this event and to me one of the reason’s soccer is tough for most traditional sports fans to accept in this country. How can you settle the biggest prize in the sport on penalty kicks? Can you imagine a home run derby to decide the 7th game of the World Series, or a free-throw contest in the NBA Finals. When it comes to THE final game for the biggest prize settling it on PK’s is lame.

Congratulations to the Holbrook Little League as they beat Brick 7-4 Sunday to claim the District 18 Little League Championship and will represent the district in the sectionals which start this week. Holbrook becomes the latest Ocean County team with dreams of Williamsport, Pennsylvania in late August.

Over the weekend it was announced that WOBM AM will be the radio home for Monmouth University Men’s Basketball beginning this winter. The school and Millennium Radio reached agreement on a three-year contract to broadcast all the Hawks games as part of our Shore Sports Network. First-year head coach King Rice said the radio deal will help promote not only the basketball program and athletics department but the University was well. WOBM AM is getting ready for its third season of Monmouth football so know we have the Hawks two major programs on our station. Eddy Occhipinti and our own Matt Harmon will be the voices of Hawks basketball…they also handle the football broadcasts.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

An "Honor" For The Shore

GQ magazine is out with its list of the 40 worst-dressed cities in America and included in that list is a place that’s not a city but very much close to home. Coming in at #19 is Jersey Shore which is tucked in between San Francisco and Austin, Texas. Actually the reference is to the MTV show and the fashion lifestyle that has been displayed by DJ Pauly D, Vinny, Ronnie and The Situation. Of course you don’t have to watch the show or even go to Seaside Heights to see what the magazine editors are talking about because it’s evident in a good part of New Jersey. I do love this part…”your shorts are past your ankles, which makes them well, pants. Except they got enough rhinestones on them to make them, well a tiara. Except you’re not a 4-year old girl playing princess, you’re a 24-year guy named Vito who just did 70 diamond-hand pushups in the bathroom of da club.”
Come on…you have to love this. By the way Asbury Park was #33…made the list because of the Springsteen poor fashion influence.

It was not a tremendous ratings success and there’s a pretty good chance you never watched it. However I for one will be sorry to say goodbye to “Friday Night Lights” which airs its final episode tomorrow night on NBC. It was a show based on a movie which was based on a book and really captured the grip high school football has on the state of Texas. Its characters all had flaws which was part of why the show was so good although it did tend to go a bit too far at times. Regardless it’s been a fixture in my home and I’m sorry to see Coach Eric Taylor, his family and players leave the football field for good.

Speaking of which it will be “Thursday Night Lights” tonight at Toms River High School North. That’s the site of the U.S. Army All-Shore Gridiron Classic with Ocean County taking on Monmouth County in the 34th annual summer all star football game. Lacey and Brick Memorial, who both won division titles last fall, have a combined 15 players on the Ocean County roster including recently-graduated Lions Craig Cicardo, Jake Dabal and Jared Molzon and former Mustangs like Will Wowkanyan and Mike Acquaviva. Game time is 7pm and an hour before that Toms River North will face Howell in the finals of 7-on-7 Shore Conference tournament. Tonight’s game will be broadcast on the Shore Sports Network’s 105.7FM with Matt Harmon, Ed Sarluca and I calling the action.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

10 Beach Commandments

I mentioned yesterday that it might be time for me to bring out my rules of beach etiquette and today is indeed the day. My 10 beach commandments really should be posted throughout the Jersey Shore and while much of this is common sense we know there is a genuine lack of that everywhere and the white sands are no exception. Locals and visitors alike should live by my beach commandments and feel free to quote me on these:

1. This is not Coney Island or Jones Beach in New York so seek space between yourself and those nearby. Its one thing to “love thy neighbor”…it’s another to sit right on top of them.
2. I’m an expert on the tides and plan accordingly. If you don’t bother to check
out the times of high and low tide then be advised there’s a good chance you
are getting wiped out and that is not the time for you to drag you wet blanket right on top of me.
3. The beach is certainly a family place but when your unattended children
walk over my blanket and knock down by cup of coffee can you do more than just smile?
4. That long lounge chair that looks great in your backyard really looks lame and stupid on the beach.
5. Wear the bathing suit that fits your body. This is for both men and women
as some obviously don’t have mirrors in their home or rental. There is a reason why half your body is hanging out so wear a bathing suit in which you can at least tuck it in.
6. I’ve never been able to figure out the digging thing, especially with fathers and sons. However if you want to spend hours digging holes can you at least fill them in when you leave so nobody falls in one.
7. Please place disposable diapers in a bag and then throw them in the garbage promptly.
8. Don’t argue with the lifeguards…they probably know the water conditions just a bit better than you. Plus when they do jump in and rescue you don’t lie to them and say you’re a great swimmer and you just wanted to get a better look at the shoreline from far away.
9. For some reason guys who never play football bring them to the beach and insist on tossing them around in the middle of big crowds…I think they feel it’s attractive to women. Well unless your last name is Manning try and do this in open space.
10. If these rules don’t meet with your approval then please send your next beach day at Coney Island or Jones Beach…you’ll be right at home.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Spectacular Weekend

A little of this and a little of that after a spectacular beach weekend at the Jersey Shore:

It was a simply magnificent weekend after quite a bit of rain Friday night for most of us. The ocean was quite rough on Saturday with dangerous rip tides which kept lifeguards quite busy. However things quieted down by Sunday which was as nice a beach day as we’ve had all summer with ideal water conditions as well. My daughter and I went over to our favorite spot in Seaside Park very early and within an hour of so had a group sit no more than 5 feet away from us when there was plenty of room. I bit my tongue and did not say anything but later moved…I must be getting soft in my old age. I think later this week we’ll bring back my beach rules reminder.

While you might not have World Cup fever you have to admit that the way the U.S. women beat Brazil Sunday was nothing short of miraculous. Playing shorthanded for a good part of the game they scored in the final moments of injury time on a great play to send the game to penalty kicks where the Americans prevailed 5-3. Next up is a semifinal date with France on Wednesday. The captain of the U.S. team is 36-year old Christie Rampone, a former Point Pleasant Borough and Monmouth University standout who now lives in Manasquan.

Brick and Toms River American won a pair of games in the District 18 Little League Tournament over the weekend and have put themselves in the best position to represent the Ocean County area on the road to Williamsport. In the semifinals yesterday, Brick topped Holbrook 13-5 and Toms River American beat Jackson 11-3 and the two winners will face one another tomorrow night in Berkeley. Holbrook and Jackson are still alive in the tournament and will also play tomorrow night with the loser bowing out of the tournament. The championship game is scheduled for Saturday.

Don’t you have to believe the guy who caught the Derek Jeter home run and 3,000th hit baseball Saturday is now having second thoughts? 23-year old Christian Lopez traded in the ball for season tickets for the rest of the year and some autographed items and said asking for money never entered his mind. However now that he’s probably been told the ball was worth at least $250,000 and maybe a lot more you have to wonder.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A New Name

It is no longer the Poland Spring Arena that occupies the western part of the Toms River High School North campus. No they are not doing anything to the building with the exception of some signage to indicate a name change. That’s because the Toms River Regional School District has sold the naming rights of the arena to the Pine Belt Auto Group. The five-year, $500,000 agreement will help fund technology improvements for all students in the district. Pine Belt officials expressed excitement over the partnership, saying their business values education and the community and this allows them to be involved in both. The newly-named Pine Belt Arena opened in June of 2003 and while used by Toms River North students on a daily basis is also home to sporting events, concerts, shows and more,
including the WOBM Christmas Classic basketball tournament.

Recently-retired football coach Warren Wolf will throw out the first pitch at tonight’s Lakewood BlueClaws game. Wolf, a diehard Chicago Cubs fan, announced a couple of weeks ago that he would not return for a second season as football coach at Lakewood High School. Of course he is best known for the 51 years he walked the sidelines at Brick Township High School.

Practice begins tomorrow for the U.S. Army All Shore Gridiron Classic with the 34th annual meeting between Ocean and Monmouth County football players set for this coming Thursday night at Toms River North. The Ocean County team will practice at Lacey High School while the Monmouth County All-Stars will work at Rumson Fair-Haven. The teams will work out on a daily basis through Wednesday.

Former Toms River South soccer standout Sheree Gray made her debut with the Sky Blue FC this week in Philadelphia and tomorrow night will play her first home game for the Women’s Professional Soccer League team from New Jersey. Gray, who led the South Indians to a state championship moved on to Penn State University where she graduated in 2009 after a solid career. She has played for various U.S. National teams and was training with Sky Blue before they signed her late last week. The team also includes former Toms River East and West Virginia standout Carolyn Blank. Gray and Blank will be in action tomorrow night at Yurcak Field on the campus of Rutgers University when they host magicJack SC.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

In Defense Of Seaside Heights

Having pretty much grown up in Seaside Heights I admit to always being a bit sensitive over the way the town is often portrayed although it is certainly very much different from the place I called home from the time I was in 6th grade until my mid 20’s. As is usually the case Seaside Heights only gets headlines when something bad or controversial takes place with the latest being the flurry of fights after the 4th of July fireworks that led to police chief Thomas Boyd shutting down the boardwalk. 62 people, including three juveniles were arrested in connection with those fights which brought in neighboring police departments to assist the borough’s force.

Seaside Heights is a place that certainly has had its share of problems when it comes to rowdy behavior and it’s resulted in a less than favorable perception of the resort town, especially among those of us who live in the area. While people in other parts of this state and others might tend to view it as a beach town with plenty of bars and good times, locals think of it more as a sleazy place that they avoid in the summer. In truth it’s probably a little of both. Having worked for my father on the boardwalk for many years when I was younger I certainly witnessed my share of incidents. Even then the spring and early part of summer was always a tough time with mostly teen-agers and young people filling the area. However once you got past the 4th of July the number of strollers would increase as families made their way down the boardwalk. I’m told that is still true today although clearly the makeup of visitors is not the same as it was in the 60’s, 70’s and even 80’s.

Some will want to blame all of the problems on borough officials but I’m not among them. Seaside Heights attempts to do all it can to draw families but frankly they are a victim of changing times and location. For many the one-mile long town is the closest one that offers the good times they are seeking. Unfortunately their definition of a good time often involves alcohol and when you are on a packed boardwalk that can be a bad combination. I do think the rolling out the red carpet for the TV show “Jersey Shore” has been short-sighted by some officials. It may have put a few extra bucks in some pockets but has done nothing for the town’s image although it certainly has made Seaside Heights better known around the country.

Seaside Heights still has a lot to offer with clean beaches, an entertaining boardwalk, amusement rides, a water park and an array of food that will challenge any diet. Those same features also draw those you wish would stay home.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Casey Anthony Verdict

It was like a flashback to October 3, 1995. There I was yesterday afternoon at 2:15 with five others packed into my small office all glued to CNN awaiting the verdict in the trial of Casey Anthony. I have to admit that I paid little attention to the trial in Orlando, Florida which many had followed like a daily soap opera. However as things heated-up the last few days I had more than a casual interest in the verdict as a jury of seven women and five men decided if the 25-year old Anthony killed her two-year old daughter Caylee just over three years ago.

Moments before the decision was read there were various comments made from those gathered in my office watching the proceedings from Courtroom 23. All of them had to do with the foregone conclusion that Anthony was guilty and would likely face the death penalty. Nobody seemed to feel anything but hatred for a woman who has been portrayed as someone who wanted to be able to party hard and not worry about the burdens of motherhood. The fact that she was caught in numerous lies during the trial made it seem like a slam-dunk for the prosecution.

However just before the verdict was read I did think back to nearly 16 years ago when about 30 of us packed our news room here at WOBM to watch what was going on in a Los Angeles courtroom. After just four hours of deliberations, the more than four-month murder trial of former football star O.J SIMPSON was about to end. All but one of us who were in the room that day expected that Simpson would be found guilty of murdering his ex-wife and her friend. There was really little doubt and the fact the jury needed only four hours to reach a decision seemed to be the clincher. Well we know what happened that day and to many 16 years later history has repeated itself.

It would be foolish really for any one of us to claim we know what really happened and it’s hard to be critical of the jury in Florida because they reached a unanimous verdict in a rather short time. Remember that the burden of proof rests with the prosecution and there is that “beyond a reasonable doubt” thing which is pretty powerful. Bottom line is like with OJ before it would appear the prosecution was not able to overcome that.

Of course if Casey Anthony did not murder her daughter than that would mean a child killer is still free. I guess they’ll find that person around the same time they come up with who killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Back From A Long Weekend

A little of this and a little of that after a long holiday weekend for many which featured one spectacular day, one lousy day and one pretty good day. Stealing from the song by Meat Loaf, “two out of three ain’t bad.”

The lousy day was Sunday and it might have featured some of the most intense lightning strikes and torrential rain I have ever witnessed but depending on where you live it was not a big deal. We were at a friend’s house on Dayton Avenue in Toms River for a barbeque that was obviously moved inside. However outside the water ran down the street live a river and lightning bolts made for some anxious moments. Some with homes in low levels experienced some real problems with flooded basements and other related problems.

The weather did clear yesterday although frankly the beach brought a mixed bag.
High tide late in the morning was indeed very high and the 2nd Avenue beach in Seaside Park was covered with salps which are similar to jelly fish in appearance but are not. While they don’t sting or pose any apparent threat they are pretty gross in the water and on the sand. It just wasn’t a day for swimming and it was pretty hot on the beach so by noon we bailed. Quite a contrast from Saturday when we enjoyed 7 plus hours on a glorious beach day.

The 8,000 plus fans who attended last night’s BlueClaws game at FirstEnergy Park got a bonus. During the day the BlueClaws announced that Phillies reliever Brad Lidge would make his first appearance of the season and start for Lakewood. Lidge gave up a couple of hits but pitched a scoreless first inning as he rehabs from rotator cuff problems that have sidelined him all season…he could see action for the BlueClaws later in the weekend.

Manchester, Toms River East National and Toms River National made it through pool play with perfect 4-0 records in the District 18 Little League Tournament which has now reached the quarterfinal round. Those single-elimination games will be played Friday and also include Brick, Holbrook, Jackson, Lakewood and Toms River American. The winner of the District tournament heads to the sectionals later this month on the Road to Williamsport.

Once again the Borough of Beachwood did an outstanding job in hosting the annual “Fireworks on the Toms River” extravaganza. Kudos to all for doing their part in what is a great culmination to America’s birthday.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Honors & Change

One of the shore’s storied high school football programs will have a new head coach this fall. Pete Cahill will not return for a fifth season at Manasquan after being named a Vice Principal at the high school earlier this week by the Board of Education. Cahill told me yesterday that he always figured he would return to administration and that now was the right time. He has been part of the coaching staff since 1985 except for a couple of years about a decade ago when he was a Vice Principal. He then returned to teaching and football as an assistant to Vic Kubu and then took over as head coach after Kubu lost his battle with cancer prior to the 2007 season. In Cahill’s four years the Big Blue Warriors went 34-11, won three division titles and Central Jersey Group 2 crown. There seems little doubt his replacement will come from the current coaching staff which includes offensive coordinator Rich Read and defensive assistant Jay Price.

Former Ocean County College Athletic Director John Stauff was recently inducted into the National Alliance of Two Year College Athletic Administrators Hall of Fame. Stauff was one of four inductees during the organization’s annual convention in Orlando, Florida. The former dean of health, physical education and athletics started at OCC in 1966 and stayed there until his retirement in 2001
and was among the first class of inductees into the Alumni Association’s Athletic Hall of Fame at the college. Stauff was largely responsible for the establishment of the WOBM Christmas Classic in 1984 as it was hosted by OCC before moving to the Poland Spring Arena. He and his wife Regina now live in Florida.

The Lakewood BlueClaws are holding a “Nine & Dine” Golf Outing to benefit BlueClaws Charities on Tuesday, July 19th at Woodlake Country Club in Lakewood. The day will feature a nine hole scramble golf outing, a meet and greet with BlueClaws players on the course and a post-golf reception. BlueClaws charities contributed more than $150,000 to area organizations and non-profits in 2010. For information on the outing you can call the BlueClaws at (732) 901-7000, extension 188.

I hope you enjoy a safe holiday weekend!!!!