Volunteer says advances have been made

The holidays are upon us and it is the time of giving. The giving of gifts, the giving of time, the giving of goodwill, and most importantly, the giving of thanks.

As a volunteer, I want to thank every person who has supported the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Perhaps it is a donation, attending a Heart Walk, championing a healthy change or supporting your child in a Jump Rope for Heart program. No matter how you have shown support, I want you to know that you have made a difference.

Born with a congenital heart defect, I made history at the age of 2 when I became the youngest recipient of a pacemaker. Since then, I have needed several pacemaker replacements.

To date, I have undergone 104 surgeries, multiple transfusions and too many tests to count, but I am still here because of all the work that has gone into the battle against cardiovascular disease. We have seen advancements in the treatment of heart disease and strokes because of research. We have seen workplaces make a shift toward workplace wellness.

We have witnessed children saving lives because they have learned CPR. We have heard the push of making the healthy choice the easy choice for all Americans. And for me, I have been able to live a happy life.

Thank you for the support you have given and will continue to give as we move toward a day where heart disease and stroke are no more.

If you are interested in supporting the American Heart Association, consider volunteering, participating at an event, or making a donation at www.heart.org/donate

Augustine Concepcion
American Heart Association/
American Stroke Association volunteer
Ocean Grove

Renaming buildings at Princeton is ‘hogwash’

People are talking about the renaming of buildings at Princeton University that bear the name of Woodrow Wilson, the desire by some individuals to erase and rewrite history in order to whitewash our past.

In this instance, describing the need by these people to remove a person’s name from a building because of a perceived slight is overly dramatic and self-serving.

First, Princeton should not weaken to these demands for removing Woodrow Wilson’s name from the building(s) in question. The reason for the removal is for alleged insensitivity. What hogwash. This man was the president of Princeton University at the turn of the last century and the president of the United States. He was president during World War I, was the chief architect for the League of Nations – the forerunner to the United Nations – and he “expanded Princeton into a full scale university” so the university, to honor him, “created the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.”

This school is known throughout the world – should it be renamed now? As one of the students at Princeton stated, “If the criteria for naming a building for someone was that they’d be perfect, we shouldn’t name buildings.” He was correct in his assessment.

Should we also look to remove his picture from the White House where it is hung in tribute to him as is done for all other presidents? When does political correctness go too far? Times have changed and what was once accepted and tolerated may no longer be; however, it doesn’t mean that history should be cleansed so that we can’t look back at mistakes or successes and learn from the past. Nor does it mean that a person’s accomplishments should be ignored because of modern day thinking.

To all of you politically correct individuals, learn to be more tolerant of the past and mature enough to know the difference. Stop blaming others for the slights that you believe are directed at you and enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that this great country provides.

Bruce Papkin
Edison

District seeks answers on the lack of state aid

By MICHAEL NUNES
Staff Writer

RED BANK – Members of the Red Bank Board of Education sounded off on the short fall in state aid the district receives.

“I think this board has to adopt a more activist policy in the future on these topics,” said Board of Education President Ben Forest about the shortfall in state aid that the district receives.

“I’m not going to vote to cut music or sports or any of the fundamental aspects of education. I am sworn to provide a thorough and efficient education and I feel compelled to vote accordingly.”

At the Nov 17 district meeting, members discussed the dwindling amount of state aid the district receives and how best to address the problem.

For the 2015-16 school year, the district received $2,996,370 in state aid, the same amount as the previous year and $200,000 less than the 2013-14 school year. According to District Business Administrator Debra Pappagallo, half of the state aid is provided to the charter school by state mandate.

Pappagallo said the district is due another $500,000 in state aid based on student population and demographics.

During the 2014-2015 school year, the district had 1,224 enrolled students, according to information from the New Jersey Department of Education. During that same time period, the Red Bank Charter School had 193 students enrolled.

The discussion began with board member Michael Ballard, who asserted that the charter school receives a disproportionate amount of state funding compared to the district.

Board member Ann Roseman responded that the under funding of the district is not the fault of the charter school but of the state.

“Without begging the legislators to do something different, we don’t have a lot of options. They just come and they give us a number and they say we have to transfer this to the charter school. It’s not like it’s a negotiable item,” said Roseman.

“It’s a total puzzle to me why we are always in this position.”

Superintendent of Schools Jared Rumage agreed that the district should not blame the charter school for the funding issues, adding the district must focus on the best uses of the state aid available.

“Regardless of the unfair funding formula or the challenges in having a charter school in this small town, I believe we need to fix things from the inside out and I think it’s important for everybody to know that we’re responsible for what we do and what we have here currently.

“I think there has been tremendous progress that has been made in terms of our efficiency over the past 15 months and I think we are headed in the right direction in terms of what we currently have,” said Rumage.

Forest agreed, calling for cooperation among the schools.

“I think we should all try to work as partners in the educational community. I think if we take an approach of attacking the charter school this might not help us. Most of the people there are concerned with education too and I think they would rather see us be properly funded,” said Forest.

“I’m pretty sure that most of the charter school parents that I know would be in favor of us being properly funded if for no other reason than providing better services for the kids and we won’t be raising taxes that much if at all.

“What ever strategy we adopt I think we should work away from have a confrontational [relationship] with the charter school and move forward on things we can agree on,” said Forest.

“I think we should get more activist. Yes, we may lose, but we really have to try to hold our [legislators] responsible who run the state.”

Contact Michael Nunes at mnunes@gmnews.com.

Country legend Dolly Parton brings her most personal song to TV

By Lori Acken,

I was a little kid growing up in a home filled with country music when Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors” became a radio hit in 1971. I already loved the story of the original coat thanks to Sunday school, and since I was a small-town girl with a loving mama, too, I fell hard for that song. I love it still.

On Thursday, Dec. 10, NBC brings the tender tune of a family’s love and resilience, exemplified by a little patchwork jacket, to television as part of a deal with the country music legend and her production partner Sam Haskell to produce films based on Parton’s most enduring hits. (Jolene begins filming in early 2016.) The film — which stars Ricky Schroder and Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles as Parton’s parents Robert Lee and Avie Lee, and sparkling 8-year-old Alyvia Alyn Lind as a young Dolly — dramatizes Parton’s true-life tale of growing up in a dirt-poor but unfailingly loving and creative home. Parton calls the movie her gift to viewers in the most faith- and familycentric time of the year.

“I’ve had so many people tell me that [the song] has touched them even though it might not have been about a coat or a piece of clothing, but a handicap or being overweight or just being different,”

Parton says. “It just touches me that my work has been able to touch people through the years like that.”

Because of that, Parton and Haskell worked closely with screenwriter Pamela K. Long to make sure the film echoed the song’s timeless message. “They teach this little ‘Coat of Many Colors’ in so many schools now and use it as an anti-bullying song, that we should celebrate the differences in each other.

“So when we started putting this show together, Sam and myself wanted to make sure that it really was about celebrating those differences. And I really wanted to pay tribute to my mom and dad and to show who the family was that I came from.”

And what a family it is — one Parton credits with her own ability to bloom where she’s planted. “Mom had a house full of kids and a love for my daddy that wouldn’t quit,” she says. “They married when Mama was 15 and Daddy was 17. My dad was such a hardworking person, and he never had the chance to go to school. So they had nothing to work with except love and faith and one another — and Mama had enough faith to move a mountain. I think I got my spirituality and my positive attitude and my faith from my mother. And I’ve got my dad’s hard work ethic.”

Understandably, Parton was careful about choosing the people who would step into their shoes. Of Nettles, she trills, “She actually did her own little audition tape and sent it in to us, and we just absolutely flipped out! I said, ‘Oh my God, that’s Mama!’ She’s spectacular! And Ricky, he looks like my brothers and my daddy’s people — his coloring, and just his body structure. He and his wife were very involved in the story. They had lost a child, too — something that we talk about in the movie (Parton’s brother Larry — “my baby,” she calls him — died at birth). I think that was very healing for them.”

As for little Lind, Dolly says it was a match made in heaven.

“We auditioned hundreds of kids and I said to Sam, ‘God’s going to send her. We’re going to get the right one!’ Then the day I saw her, I said, ‘That’s her! I see her! I see me! She’ll make me look good!’ I never was that cute, but that little thing can sing, she can act. The second our eyes met, it was like I knew that we were right!”

Holiday movie preview

In theaters now

As we race to the end of 2015, we will be greeted by a slew of big movies. Some movies will prosper, some will fail and some will get nominated for awards (both good and bad) — but all will bring their unique visions to the screen to share with us. Let’s peer through some rose-colored glasses at the month of December and what the holiday movie season holds.

In the Heart of the Sea (Dec. 11) brings to the big screen director Ron Howard’s vision of the real maritime disaster that inspired the novel Moby Dick, with Chris Hemsworth in the lead role. This looks visually stunning.

Legend (Dec. 11) shares the story of identical-twin gangsters Reggie and Ronnie Kray. They are two of the most notorious true-life criminals you’ll ever see onscreen, and who are in reality very different and unique individuals — though Tom Hardy plays both.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (Dec. 18) features our favorite chipmunks on — you guessed it — a road trip. The only true family film released during the month, it might do surprisingly well.

Sisters (Dec. 18) arrives on the same weekend as Star Wars as an alternative for those not in the core Star Wars demographic. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler star and even encourage viewers to take in both Stars Wars and this film.

The Big Short (Dec. 23) is director Adam McKay’s peek into the credit and housing bubble collapse, with Christian Bale and Steve Carell leading an amazing cast.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Dec. 18) is the ultimate holiday film. Not only is it highly anticipated by fans and critics alike, but it’s also a film that can be shared with most of the family and is poised to garner enormous box office results. Do you have your tickets yet?

Concussion (Dec. 25) will explode onto screens with a very volatile subject as the NFL regular season wraps up. Will Smith leads a talented cast that turns a spotlight on the concussion problems that have plagued football for years.

Daddy’s Home (Dec. 25) presents a funny take on parenting from two very funny men, Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. They play guys who are competing to win the favor of Wahlberg’s biological children, who are also Ferrell’s stepchildren.

Joy (Dec. 25) is poised for awards acclaim. Jennifer Lawrence stars in the latest from David O. Russell as Joy, a woman who takes an idea and turns it in to something special.

Point Break (Dec. 25) became a hit in 1991, starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze in a Kathryn Bigelow-directed effort. In this version, inspired by the original, Luke Bracey and Édgar Ramírez go toe-to-toe in the extreme sports world.

These are just some of the great titles headed to theaters in December. Others that will sneak into select theaters before a wider release include The Hateful Eight from director Quentin Tarantino and The Revenant featuring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Ava Gardner

By David Cohea
ReMIND magazine

 Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner Ava Gardner was one of Hollywood’s most beautiful actresses during the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, starring in such films as The Killers, Show Boat, Mogambo (for which she was nominated for an Academy Award), On the Beach and Night of the Iguana.

A small-town girl from North Carolina, Gardner got her break in 1941 at age 18 while visiting her sister in New York. Her sister’s husband was a photographer and offered to take her portrait, and she consented. He liked the results so much that he displayed the picture in the front window of his studio.

This led to a screen test at the MGM office in New York, and while the talent scout thought she was a looker, he didn’t bother to record her voice due to her thick Southern accent. It wasn’t until he saw the results in the screening room that he saw how much the camera loved the young woman. After sending the test on to Hollywood, he received a telegram back from MGM head Louis B. Mayer that read: “She can’t sing, she can’t act, she can’t talk, she’s terrific!”

 Ava Gardner in 1951’s “Show Boat” Ava Gardner in 1951’s “Show Boat” Gardner was linked up with a vocal coach to lose her native Carolina drawl and soon began making bit appearances in various films, finally scoring a big role in producer Mark Hellinger’s noir film The Killers.

It wasn’t long thereafter that Ava Gardner was declared a star.

Offscreen, Gardner’s romances were even more stellar. After arriving in Los Angeles, she soon married fellow MGM contract player Mickey Rooney, but divorced a year later. After that she was married — also for a year — to big band leader Artie Shaw. She kept up a long friendship with Howard Hughes, though she said they were never romantically linked.

But the big romantic fireworks came with Gardner’s six-year marriage to Frank Sinatra. Sinatra had left his wife Nancy for Ava, and their subsequent marriage was savaged in the gossip columns, with Gardner characterized as a marriage-destroying femme fatale. But however tumultuous the relationship, both Gardner and Sinatra declared each other the love of their lives. (Sinatra once said it was Ava who taught him how to sing a torch song.)

Gardner had smaller roles in film and TV into the ’70s and ’80s, with appearances in disaster films like Earthquake and the primetime soap opera Knots Landing. She died of pneumonia at age 67. She was buried in Sunset Memorial Park in Smithfield, N.C., next to her siblings and their parents. A floral arrangement from Sinatra at her graveside simply read: “With my love, Francis.”

Gardner is listed as the No. 25 Female Screen Legend by the American Film Institute. Not bad for the little girl from North Carolina with the big Southern drawl and megawatt smile.

Did you know …

 Wes Chatham in “The Expanse”  RAFY/SYFY Wes Chatham in “The Expanse” RAFY/SYFY The highly anticipated 10-hour Syfy series “The Expanse” will premiere on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 14 and 15, at 10 p.m.

This highly ambitious series is set 200 years in the future and follows the case of a missing young woman who brings a hardened detective (played by Thomas Jane) and a rogue ship’s captain (played by Steven Strait) together in a race across the solar system that will expose the greatest conspiracy in human history. Wes Chatham and Shohreh Aghdashloo also star, rounding out a very strong cast.

Hallmark Channel will premiere its movie “On the Twelfth Day of Christmas,” starring Brooke Nevin and Robin Dunne, on Saturday, Dec. 12 at 8 p.m. Mitch O’Grady was the Christmas romance that never was for Maggie Chalke. After he helped her have Christmas when Maggie was certain she was going to miss it, Mitch disappeared.

When Mitch returns ten years later as the local DJ, Maggie returns the favor by helping him learn to love Christmas again by sending him twelve Secret Santa gifts of things she knows he loves to do at Christmas.

NBC will air a special episode of “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” on Thursday, Dec. 17 at 10 p.m. Grylls and President Obama relish the great outdoors in an intimate and freewheeling discussion deep in the Alaskan wilderness. In this unprecedented telecast, famed survivalist Grylls and the President sojourn across the beautiful Alaskan countryside with the commander-in-chief revealing off-the-script stories.

In their intimate conversation, President Obama chats about what it means to be a father who happens to be President, his relationship with his wife and children and, like all parents, balancing time between work and home. No subject is off limits in this one-on-one interview.

Tinton Falls teachers continue to press for new contract

By KENNY WALTER
Staff Writer

TINTON FALLS — After months of public debate, borough teachers are hoping to reach an agreement on a new contract prior to 2016.

Cherrie Ronan, president of the Tinton Falls Education Association, said during the Nov. 16 board of education meeting that she’d like the two sides to come to an agreement within the next month.

“It is our sincere desire to settle this contract before the holidays, it will bring much needed peace of mind to our members and enable all of us to start the new year with a new contract,” Ronan said.

However, according to board President Peter Karavites, the two sides still have not come to an agreement and have not yet found a middle ground.

“We are in fact-finding right now, that’s when a third party takes facts from both sides and makes a decision,” he said. “We have offered binding arbitration, whatever the neutral fact finder comes out with we will agree to.”

Union members and the board have been mired in a months-long public battle that has included the teachers opting to take Election Day on Nov. 3 as a holiday, forcing the district to cancel school and parent/teacher conferences.

Negotiations between the district and the union are currently in mediation after an impasse was declared in 2013, shortly after the previous contract lapsed. At the heart of the argument between the two sides is how salary increases should be given to teachers based on their experience.

“As you are aware, members are working under the terms of a contract that expired three years ago,” Ronan said. “During this time, there have been a number of things that have affected people sitting here.

“Our health benefit contributions continue to increase and staff is making less money every year than we are worth. We continue to trail educators in comparable districts with similar years of experience by thousands of dollars.”

Denise Fogliano, a fifth grade teacher at Swimming River School, said the main problem with the current situation is it will take teachers 25 years to reach the top of a 14-step salary guide.

Karavites said under the current system, teachers in the middle of the salary guide receive the largest increases, while teachers with more and less experience receive smaller annual raises.

However, he said the board’s proposal would split the raises virtually equally among all teachers with every teacher receiving about $6,000 in raises over a four-year span.

Kevin Jacoves, a borough resident and Middletown teacher, said the district doesn’t compare to his district when looking at the salary guide.

“If that is the truth, you are undervaluing your employees,” he said. “If I were a teacher in Tinton Falls, I would leave. You want to bring in and retain the best and you have to pay for that.”

Another parent suggested that the board could have used the funds being utilized for the switch to full-day kindergarten for a salary increase for teachers.

Karavites said the board is currently under the constraints of a 2 percent tax levy cap, making a deal with the teachers more difficult.

“We are not allowed to raise our budget as much as the taxpayers would like,” Karavites said. “We are at the 2 percent cap, the public no longer votes.

“We are not allowed to usurp the cap and take it to a vote.”

According to Karavites, a referendum is also not an option.

“We don’t have credit cards, we are not allowed to borrow money,” he said. “We can do referendums, those referendums are usually only for school buildings and things like that. They are never used for salaries.”

Karavites also warned that if the board gives in to the teachers, activities or sports may need to be cut, adding that late busing and increased class sizes have already been casualties of the district’s financial situation.

Karavites said the board should not be characterized as being against the teachers.

“When you think about giving teachers more, and we feel we gave them a very fair offer above cap at 2.45 [increase] for five years, remember that other places may have to get cut,” he said. “We only have ‘x’ amount of dollars to spend.”

The Tinton Falls School District operates three schools: Mahala F. Atchison School, Swimming River River School and Tinton Falls Middle School and educates 1.553 students.