Brick High guest speakers warn against drug dangers

By karl vilacoba
Staff Writer

By karl vilacoba
Staff Writer

BRICK — The staff and student body of Brick Township High School took time out from their schoolwork recently to listen to some poignant stories about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.

In an all-day lecture series called Join Hands Against Drugs, held Oct. 24 at the school, 17 parents, support group members and law enforcement officials shared their life experiences with experiences. Venues ranged from a large auditorium to the smaller, more personal confines of the classroom.

One common thread among the speakers was the personal ways that drug and alcohol abuse have affected their lives.

A parent’s story

When Ellen Lurig of Phillipsburg, Warren County, took the podium early in first period, several students sat leaning back comfortably, ready for a nap. By the end of her talk, the silence in the auditorium was permeated by the sniffles of weeping listeners.

Before speaking, Lurig played a videotape that began with childhood pictures of her son Rob, set to a soft piano version of "My Heart Will Go On." The audience watched as the Lurig family grew together and young Rob evolved into a handsome, athletic young man.

Suddenly the film was interrupted by footage of authorities spraying down a flaming car wreck. News clips in the video detailed the fatal car accident that took Lurig’s son at the age of 16. The car in which he was a passenger was involved in an accident in Pohatcong, Warren County, in 1998 with a man who was reportedly drunk and speeding.

Lurig recalled sitting beside Rob on their last day together, running her fingers through his hair and telling him it needed to be cut. Later, Rob decided to go to a paintball store with some friends in what normally was a 10-minute trip.

"He kissed my cheek and said, ‘Later, mom,’ and that’s the last time I saw him," Lurig said.

Later that night, two police officers came to the Lurigs’ door to inform them of the crash. Rob was being treated in the intensive care unit of a Lehigh, Pa., hospital, still breathing but burned beyond recognition.

The hospital was more silent than she expected, she said. Against her husband’s and doctors’ recommendations, Lurig demanded to see Rob.

"I wanted so badly to hug my son, but I realized I couldn’t," Lurig said. "As I got closer, I saw that the beautiful hair I had stroked my hand through earlier was burned off."

Lurig lifted the burn blanket covering her son to reveal his legs, which she said were "busted up and burned to the bone." She said she wanted to hold his hand, but both were gone. The doctors asked for permission to amputate his arms, but she refused.

The Lurig family spent the next 15 hours hoping for a miracle as Rob was dosed heavily with morphine. Early the next morning, they decided they had no alternative but to let him go.

As a result of the tragedy, Lurig has decided to dedicate her time warning high school students about the perils of drinking and driving. If any students present were not yet moved by the lecture, one last visual aid was used to drive her point home.

"Because someone was ignorant and drunk, this is what’s left of my son," Lurig said, holding the charred remnants of cloth that were Rob’s flannel shirt and jeans during the crash.

The pitcher

Osbornville Elementary School Principal Dennis Filippone spent five years dealing with students just like those in the audience during his days as vice principal of Brick Township High School. During those years, he said, he saw too many cases of talent ruined by drug use.

But it was another case, a family-related incident, that brought into focus the importance for Filippone to reach out to youths.

About 20 years ago, Filippone’s brother-in-law was a southpaw pitcher with God-given, raw talent. Following a standout career at St. John’s University, Jamaica, N.Y., he was a draft pick for the New York Yankees, Filippone said.

One night, several prospects were invited to enjoy a game at Yankee Stadium. Filippone said his brother-in-law had a couple of beers at the game, decided to drive home and was killed in an accident on the Major Deegan Expressway.

"The family’s life can never be the same," Filippone said.

The key to being successful and avoiding trouble situations is to start setting goals at an early age, he said. Whether those goals are monetary, educational or emotional, what’s important is getting into the habit of achieving them, he said.

Filippone cited a recent study of the life expectancy of American females which concluded that about 97 percent who have reached age 15 will live at least until they are about 25. Most will see their 87th birthday, he said.

"You’re going to have to live from 25-87 with the decisions you made when you were 15-25," Filippone said.

"It will kill you"

Perhaps the most disturbing trend among teen drug users is heroin abuse, according to Jerome Hamlin, director of special projects of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Freehold.

Kids are smoking, snorting and shooting up heroin, and it has resulted in two recent deaths in the area, he said. Most youths feel they are invincible, but his experiences have shown the truth to be tragically different, he said.

Hamlin said one of his toughest duties used to be identifying the dead and informing the families of their losses. One man in particular, Hamlin remembered, was an outstanding musician with an outgoing personality, and Hamlin recalled being struck by such a tragic waste of talent.

"I had to tell my wife that her brother was dead because of heroin," Hamlin said.

The pain for families in those situations never gets better, Hamlin said. Now and then, an empty seat at the dinner table or a passed birthday brings it all back.

"It will dance with you; it will mesmerize you; it will kill you," Hamlin said. "Your first time using heroin could be your last time."


Four-level expansion project under way at Brick Hospital

Correspondent

By virginia tavis


JERRY WOLKOWITZ Excavation work began on an extension to the Medical Center of Ocean County, Brick Division, last Wednesday.JERRY WOLKOWITZ Excavation work began on an extension to the Medical Center of Ocean County, Brick Division, last Wednesday.

BRICK — The Medical Center of Ocean County, known as Brick Hospital, is taking its commitment to serving the community a step further by adding on a new 100,000-square-foot wing that will cost $35 million.

The groundbreaking was in July, and the project is due to be complete in January 2004.

"The new wing will offer more progressive and flexible care for our patients," said Scott McKinnon, vice president of operations for the medical center. "We strive to have the most modern and advanced equipment, as well as make our patients more comfortable. The creation of these new facilities shows that we are constantly looking toward the future."

This new wing will be a four-level building that will house a new Shore Rehabilitation Center and an intensive care unit (ICU).

The first two floors will house the Shore Rehabilitation Center, which will be relocated from Point Pleasant. It will offer an inpatient rehabilitation unit that hospital officials say will complement the existing outpatient unit.

Therapy will be available to patients who have physical and neurological injuries to help them regain their normal functionality. Physical, occupational and speech therapists will address the needs of these patients.

Plans call for the third floor to house an ICU with 24 beds for cardiac, medical and surgical patients.

The fourth floor will be a shell space for 40 medical beds. In the basement of the new wing will be support departments, conference rooms, a medical library and storage space.

The expansion will also include a three-level parking garage with 350 spaces that is intended to ease access to the hospital and make it more convenient for patients.

The Brick medical center is part of the Meridian Health System, along with Jersey Shore Medical Center, Neptune, and Riverview Medical Center, Red Bank.


Council: Route 70 work will be done by Thanksgiving

By karl vilacoba
Staff Writer

By karl vilacoba
Staff Writer

BRICK — Township officials have paved the way toward renovating one of the town’s most congested intersections.

Improvements will be made to a left turn from Route 70 to Chambers Bridge Road, which Mayor Joseph Scarpelli called "one of the most notorious spots in our community in regard to traffic congestion." Officials estimate that the work will expand an existing left turn lane’s capacity to 24 cars from its current threshold of 12.

The lowest bid for the project was submitted by Ace Manzo, of Aberdeen. However, the company told the council that it would not be able to complete the work by the Thanksgiving target date. Councilwoman Kimberley Casten said the work’s timely completion was key in light of the annual rush of holiday shopping traffic.

The majority of the work is expected to be done at night to avoid exacerbating the traffic problem at the intersection. The work will include site-clearing, traffic control, roadway construction, drainage and restoration.

The final bid for the work was awarded to Earle Asphalt Co., Farmingdale, at a cost of $132,453. The rejected Ace Manzo bid was for $129,900.

The project will be funded in the township’s 2002 capital program, with reimbursement by the state Department of Transportation (DOT), according to the Oct. 22 Township Council resolution awarding the bid.

Fair share costs required by the DOT from the developers of commercial ratables along the corridor were pursued by Scarpelli and state Sen. Andrew Ciesla (R-10) to help make the project possible.

Although the DOT is responsible for improvements on state highways like Route 70, an agreement was reached that will allow the township to handle the improvements.

Several months ago, township officials and engineers met with Ciesla to discuss improvements needed along the Route 70 corridor in light of upcoming development projects along the road. The township retained the services of Birdsall Engineering, Belmar, to conduct a traffic study in the area.

The results of the study were discussed at a later meeting between developers and state and local officials. At that meeting, work plans were developed for the project.

In other business, the council authorized the sale of a consumption liquor license to Famous Dave’s, Cedar Bridge Ave. The sale price was $377,000, which Councilman Gregory Kavanagh called "quite a good price on the township’s behalf."

The original sale price was proposed to be $350,000, but the council decided to raise that figure to $375,000, according to Steven Cucci, council president. Famous Dave’s, the highest bidder for the license, exceeded that price by $2,000.


Band’s ska-based style is the roots of Sprout

Local group gains Stone Pony contest win, club dates with major acts

By josh davidson
Staff Writer

By josh davidson
Staff Writer


Sprout rocks the crowd on stage at Asbury Park’s Stone Pony. The band won the club’s June 15 house band search and recently finished a four-song demo CD.Sprout rocks the crowd on stage at Asbury Park’s Stone Pony. The band won the club’s June 15 house band search and recently finished a four-song demo CD.

BRICK — Though together barely a year, the local band Sprout continues to gain momentum on the music scene.

After winning the June 15 house band search at Asbury Park’s Stone Pony, the band now wants to take its music to the next level.

The house band search put numerous local bands, including Matt Witte’s New Blood Revival, the Danny White Band and Red Engine Nine, in competition to decide the winner.

Sprout recently played the Stone Pony as the opener for New Jersey-based and nationally-known Skid Row. Other acts they have opened for at the Pony include Joan Jett and Fishbone.

"We want to make it (playing) our one and only job; we want to make a living out of it," lead singer Rory Fream, 23, of Brick said.

The band finished its four-song demo Oct. 24 at Long Branch’s Shore Fire Studios and will press 1,000 copies, drummer Nick Marini, 21, of Point Pleasant said. About 200 will be saved for music industry distribution, while the rest will be sold to fans, he said.

Since winning the Stone Pony house band search, they received major label interest and have continued playing the local circuit. The band has played strictly original numbers at places like the Stone Pony, Asbury Park’s the Saint and Long Branch’s Brighton Bar, to name a few. Covers and originals were played by the band at venues such as Toms River’s Mugsy’s and the Saw Mill and Aztec Bar and Grill, both in Seaside Heights.

"Hopefully, we’ll start touring soon," Marini said. "That’s what I am looking to do, as are the other guys."

The amount of early success they have had has been surprising to the band.

"At the marquee at the Stone Pony it says, ‘Vanilla Fudge, Sprout,’ and then it says, ‘Leslie West, from Mountain,’ and that just blows my mind," bassist Chris Gunderud, 28, of Manchester, said.

Sprout looks to expand on its list of places played and is looking to break into venues like New York and Philadelphia, Marini said.

"From now on, we’re just shooting for original venues," he said.

The band played the cover circuit last summer to help buy equipment. Sprout’s rehearsal space is set up behind Marini’s house on Maxson Avenue, Point Pleasant.

The band said it continues to progress as time goes on.

"When you see people out in the audience humming, (you know) it’s getting much better," Fream said.

The band began to really find its niche this summer, learning to further interact with the audience, he said.

Word of mouth has caused the band to develop a solid following, Gunderud said. People will go to a Sprout show and tell their friends about what they saw, he said. Plus, the band has its own local following, made up of personal friends.

"All of our friends that have been coming to every one of our shows, we’re not going to forget them," Gunderud said.

When they opened for Jett, people came up to the stage front who never heard of Sprout, he said.

"My stomach was in knots," Gunderud said. However, they got a good response from the audience, band members reported.

The band had a positive reaction when opening for Fishbone as well, Fream said. They get a good feeling when they open up for a national act and are able to please a crowd that isn’t even there to see them, he said.

The group’s music is ska-based, with classic, blues, rock and jazz flavorings. They try to please themselves before anyone else when writing and want the feeling to spread through the crowd, Fream said.

"The whole thing is, we got into it to have fun, and lately it has been fun," he said. "There’s nothing like having fun and being successful. There’s nothing like being able to get a bunch of free beer and still being able to play and people still not booing you off the stage."

They agreed that it’s beneficial to establish themselves locally first before making it to mainstream radio.

Selling out their sound in favor of popularity is not an option, the band said.

"Everyone knows our sound now," Marini said. "They know what we’re about. If we come out with something that sounds like Sum 41, they’re going to be like, ‘What?’"

The band doesn’t write for a certain type of people; if something they create moves them, hopefully it will move others, Fream said.

The writing process usually comes from a member playing a musical part or riff and another member adding to it, he said. Then come the lyrics, Gunderud said.

The finished product showcases the work of four solid musicians. Guitarist Cory Genthe, 23, of Point Pleasant, provides warm-toned, bluesy licks and evenly strummed chords. Gunderud’s bass work is solid, along with Marini’s swift timing on drums in the rhythm section. Fream provides smooth, even vocals.

Fream describes their sound as incorporating many music genres.

"It might start off with a rock beat and go into a reggae beat, then blues and jazz," Fream said. "When it comes together, it’s all there. We have a tough time going to shows and gigs trying to describe it. We try to touch on blues, hip-hop, jazz, swing — we try not to leave anything out."

The band members came to music through four different paths.

Marini got his start in music through his dad, whom he remembers as playing in bands since as far back as he can remember.

"I would just fall asleep to rock ’n’ roll in my basement. I just picked it up," he said.

"(My start) was somewhat less glamorous," Fream said. "I used to be in musicals in high school. I was also in chorus and all that. I picked up the guitar three years ago. I wanted to play really badly, so I picked it up."

Fream said he has sung his whole life and always sang and listened to different styles. Chorus is where he began his vocal training, he said.

"Chorus kept it going for structure and stuff like that," he said.

Gunderud is a self-taught musician.

"What got me into music mostly was my uncle," he said. "Listening to the Stones, the Doors, the Who, pretty much classic rock, I grew up listening to that. I was just fascinated with music and I decided I wanted a guitar for my eighth-grade graduation. I just taught myself how to play and a few people told me a few chords."

Gunderud said he began playing bass in the tenth grade.

Before Sprout, Genthe and Gunderud played together in a more heavy metal-based band called Uncle Stanley. The others knew each other from living in the same area.

More information about the band is available at the group’s Web site www.thesprout.com.