Letters and Commentary

October 8, 2012
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Public Invited to Blue Mass to Honor Law Enforcement, Emergency Workers

To the Editor:

Although I am retired from active service with the Middletown Township Police Department, I am still active with the Blue Mass held at Saint Agnes Church in Atlantic Highlands each year.

On Wednesday Oct. 17, the Ninth Annual Blue Mass will be held at St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church on Center Avenue in Atlantic Highlands, starting at 7:30 p.m.

The Mass honors the service of police officers, firefighters and EMS workers from Atlantic Highlands, Highlands and Middle­town as well as the National Park Service Rangers and U.S. Coast Guard from Sandy Hook.

All from the community are invited to attend the Mass regardless of denomination.

Thank you and we hope to see you at the Mass.

Joe Capriotti


Fighting Hunger Here, Everywhere, is a Constant Battle

To the Editor:

More than 80,000 people in Monmouth County need emergency food assistance. Many people face hunger every day.

To bring attention to the local issue of hunger, the Monmouth County Hall of Records in Freehold Borough was draped in orange bunting during September.

The effort was part of Hunger Action Month, a national campaign by Feeding America, the country’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity. The organization feeds America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks, including the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders proudly supported this national effort. The county’s public awareness support comes just four months after a record-setting, month-long countywide food drive that raised nearly 11 tons of food for the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

The sad fact is that fighting hunger is a constant battle. Many people seeking food assistance now are formerly working, middle class families who lost their jobs or are underemployed. Many children wake up and go to bed hungry. Many senior citizens do not have a nutritious hot meal once a day.

You can do your part by buying an extra jar of peanut butter, box of pasta or can of soup on your next trip to the grocery store. Then be sure to donate that item directly to a food bank, your church or a local community group that is helping to provide hunger relief.

If you prefer, you can make a monetary contribution. The FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties reports that from every dollar you donate, $0.91 goes directly to programs that fight hunger in our community. And for every $25 you donate, the FoodBank can provide families with 75 meals.

You can also offer your time at a soup kitchen or food bank. A few hours a month can significantly help your charity of choice and can deepen your understanding of the need to battle this hunger epidemic.

I commend the staff of the John L. Montgomery Care Center in Freehold for their Cabinet of Hope monthly food-drive program that yields about 400 pounds of food. I also commend our county management team who recently donated hundreds of jars of peanut butter and jelly in memory of Bill Heine, one of the county’s FoodBank advocates and the county’s director of Public Information who passed away in September.

The Spirit of Shrewsbury

Thank you to everyone who has made a donation as part of Hunger Action Month – and a big thank you to anyone who makes regular donations throughout the year.

I hope that the Monmouth County’s efforts to raise awareness of hunger this September have helped the 127,000 people in Monmouth and Ocean counties affected by hunger. Please keep your level of awareness high and continue to donate food, funds or your time to a hunger-relief charity.

John P. Curley
Director, Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders


EMS Volunteers Support Background Checks

To the Editor:

Supporters of the EMS bill Gov. Christie vetoed in January have resurrected the legislation, now A-2463/S-1650, with more distortions and scare tactics meant to malign and discredit New Jersey’s tens of thousands of dedicated EMS volunteers.

Contrary to the propaganda, the New Jersey State First Aid Council does support background checks for all EMS workers, volunteer and paid. The devil is in the details, however. Who will pay for the background checks? Who will perform them? State police? Local police? Not all local police departments are equipped and/or staffed to accommodate fingerprinting and criminal history check requests.

Data sharing between incompatible information systems throughout the state is abysmal. Individuals applying to become foster parents, for example, report having to submit to repeated, redundant fingerprinting and background checks – with their associated costs each time – as they progress through the process.

Yes, background checks are a good idea, but not foolproof. Often the handful of individuals who make the news for bad behavior, be they police officers, firefighters, public employees or even EMS workers, are cited for incidents that occurred after their background checks came back clean.

During a recent meeting between numerous New Jersey EMS entities, some of the loudest proponents of the bill were embarrassed to discover their own paid ambulance agencies performed only a minimal, driver-abstract search on their prospective employees, rather than criminal history and fingerprint checks they, themselves, advocate.

The smear campaign implying volunteer EMTs are less qualified and more loosely vetted regarding their backgrounds is grossly misleading. State regulations require volunteer and paid responders to undergo the same training, certification and continuing education process.

The legislation’s supporters view this as a jobs bill, which would increase bureaucracy, red tape, unfunded mandates and costs for volunteers and municipalities, making it even more difficult for volunteers to continue serving their communities. Forcing out the volunteers and local responders would pave the way for paid, county-based EMS monopolies that would cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. The negative attacks are meant to draw attention from the fact that the greedy, paid-organization bosses want to line their pockets with public funds.

Let’s be clear: EMS volunteers support background checks for all responders, as long as volunteers are not forced to foot the bill for the background checks.

Letter: Reflecting on the 'Ridge Road Run'

Although some amendments have been made to the old EMS “redesign” bill, they don’t provide fiscal information regarding the cost of implementing mandates, and fail to address Gov. Christie’s veto items. No review has been performed on the fiscal and operational impacts to volunteerism, property taxes, municipal costs, the state budget, background checks or the licensure-versus-certification debate. Many of our issues and concerns still have not been addressed.

Barbara Aras, President
New Jersey State First Aid Council

The 83-year-old nonprofit New Jersey State First Aid Council represents more than 20,000 EMS volunteers affiliated with more than 300 first aid and rescue squads throughout the state.


Support the Shoreline Heart Walk to Help End Strokes, Heart Disease

To the Editor:

No one expects to have a stroke. It’s one of those things that you think will never happen to you.

But it can.

Two years ago, I suffered my stroke. I was 28 years old, had a 6-month-old baby and was busy living my life as a wife and mother. But on June 18, 2010, my life changed. I woke up and started my day normally – except I was having trouble maintaining my balance and seeing clearly. As the day progressed, my vision continued to deteriorate, my balance worsened and I kept dropping things. I went to the hospital and after a series of extensive tests, doctors determined that I had a blood clot which had traveled to my brain causing a stroke.

Stroke is the No. 4 leading cause of death in our country. I learned the hard way that it’s not just an ‘old person’s’ issue or that it can only happen to men or that stroke only happens to people who don’t take care of themselves. I was young and I was healthy – yet I was a victim of stroke. That’s why it’s so important that we support the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s lifesaving research that helps save lives – lives like mine.

I hope you join me on Sunday, Oct. 28, at Bradley Park in Asbury Park at the annual Shoreline Heart Walk in the fight against heart disease and stroke. It’s a day to celebrate life, take a heart-healthy walk and support the American Heart Association. Register today by visiting www.shorelineheartwalk.org or calling 609-208-0020.

Together, I know that we can end heart disease and stroke.

Catherine Zalewski
American Heart Association Survivor Ambassador 



Two River Moment

This photograph of Broad Street, Red Bank, looking toward Front Street, is believed to have been taken in about 1916. In the center of the street is a parade of students from a borough public school who are marching with a banner lobbying for something for their playground. The banner has some seesaws on it. A banner further down the street (and much harder to see) announces a war drive in May. Many of the buildings in this World War I-era photograph remain on Broad Street today.

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