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The Summer of 2013 – A Season to Remember

By JOE SAPIA For the Shore, it was a summer season to remember. The Summer of 2013 – post-Superstorm Sandy which flooded houses and businesses, ripped up boardwalks and set off a massive recovery effort. An effort that extended into the traditional summer season of Memorial Day to Labor Day. “I think we did all right, considering,” said Thomas A. Arnone, director of the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders and a Neptune City resident. “A lot of things came into play.” Of course, there was the recovery from October’s Supertorm Sandy. But Arnone also mentioned the longer school year, because…

A Gnome Now Gone from Home

  By JOSEPH SAPIA Gerome is a gnome, Now, he is gone from his home, From a trove, In Ocean Grove, At 116 Avenue Cookman, At the home of the family Mileham, Taken from his wicker chair, No clues left behind, nary a hair, He liked to hang out there, With his friend, Cate, a rainbow-colored caterpillar, “Please,” Cate said, “bring back my gnome: purple hat, yellow pants, long white beard, “Put him back ‘neath the tree and no scolding there’ll be, shouts of joy on the street will be heard,” Bring him back soon, So, poems such this no…

Ocean High Graduate is an Ironman, First-Timer

  By JOSEPH SAPIA Joe Villapiano liked the idea of being called an iron man. So, the 1999 graduate of Ocean Township High School, where he lettered in football, basketball and baseball, entered the Ironman Lake Placid. Held July 28 in New York’s Adirondacks region, it involved a 2.4-mile swim, 112 miles bicycling and a marathon run of 26.2 miles, held July 28. “If I was going to do one, I would do the big one,” said Villapiano, 32, who now lives in Boston and is an assistant football coach at Harvard University. “I just love the title, Iron Man.…

Former City Resident Known as Dr. Angel in Foreign Countries

  By JOSEPH SAPIA Since leaving Asbury Park years ago, Dr. Joseph Agris has led an accomplished life: successful domestic plastic surgeon and “Dr. Angel” to many in foreign countries as a humanitarian. Agris, 72, has been a plastic surgeon for 40 years. About 30 years ago, Agris, who has lived in the Houston area since the mid-1970s, began doing humanitarian work. A “combination of things” led to this, including getting connected to Houston television personality Marvin Zindler. Zindler, who promoted charity work, and Agris, “over the years, we kind of hit it off,” the doctor said. About 30 years…

City AIDS Survivor Featured in Documentary

  By JOSEPH SAPIA In 1986, Asbury Park’s Scott Smith was diagnosed with AIDS. Twenty-seven years later, he is going strong. “I don’t want to give up that Social Security check,” he joked. Seriously, Smith, 56, attributes his longevity with the immune system disease to having good medical care, living a healthy lifestyle and having a “good personal relationship with God.” Those in the health-care field say the vibrant Smith is a survivor, said Katie Rotondi, who is putting together a documentary film on Smith and six other over-50 AIDS victims. “It’s predominantly people who are aging with AIDS,” said…

Hope Academy Charter School Receives $16,000 in Grants

  By JOSEPH SAPIA ASBURY PARK – Over the last several weeks, Asbury Park’s Hope Academy Charter School has received $16,000 in grants. A $10,000 grant from the Rumson-based Mary Owen Borden Foundation will be used to buy a new server for the Grand Avenue school’s computer system. “Getting funding for equipment” — versus curriculum — “is very challenging,” said Denise Rodriguez, the school’s grants administrator. The Borden Foundation’s grant was the school’s third from the foundation in the last few years. The TD Bank Charitable Foundation provided $5,000 for implementing a new social studies curriculum for 6th to 8th…

Waiting for Obama

  By JOSEPH SAPIA ASBURY PARK – Elizabeth Burns stood on Asbury Park’s Fifth Avenue, between the railroad tracks and Main Street, an umbrella protecting her from Tuesday’s drizzle. But that was OK. “It’s not often you get the president coming,” said Burns, 56, a city resident. “This is a good thing.” A good thing President Barack Obama was visiting the boardwalk area with Gov. Chris Christie, showing the Shore is open for business for the summer season. But some criticized the visit for various reasons: a waste of public money, an inconvenience to people stuck in the secure area…

Clearwater Festival on the Move Again

  By JOE SAPIA LONG BRANCH – With this year’s 38th annual New Jersey Friends of Clearwater Environmental Festival, there will be two big changes — location and date. After the last dozen or so years in Asbury Park, the festival — combining environmentalism, food and entertainment — is moving to Long Branch’s Great Lawn, on the oceanfront. Instead of being held on the third weekend in August, it will be held Sun., Sept. 15. Moving to Long Branch is “essentially economics,” said Ed Dlugosz, Friends’s president. The fest moved from Sandy Hook, where it was always held, to Asbury…

River Row to Raise Awareness for Congenital Heart Disease

  By JOE SAPIA NEPTUNE TOWNSHIP – In 2004, Jason Petillo Jr. of Neptune died at birth of congenital heart disease. “This is something close to my heart,” said his father, Jason Sr. So, Petillo Sr. organized the upcoming Shark River Row for Congenital Heart Disease Awareness. It is scheduled for June 7 at 6 p.m. at the Shark River Hills Marina, South Riverside Drive, Neptune. The inaugural event is to have two courses: – A five-mile course for surf-skis and rowboats of all styles. – A four-mile course for kayaks, canoes and paddleboards. The idea of the event is…

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