‘3-D’ Event Discourages ‘Drinking, Drugging and Driving’; Call for Kids to Compete in STEAM Tank Challenge; More Mill Creek Woes

Feb 22, 2017

Stafford Township Mayor John Spodofora has proclaimed the town’s support for the anti-DUI message of the Ocean County Health Department’s Intoxicated Driver Resource Center’s annual “3-D” event (Drinking, Drugging and Driving) at Ocean County Mall on Friday, Feb. 24, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The mayor shared a statistic comparing opioid abuse to war losses. The annual death toll from drug overdose in the United States (which has spiked sharply in the last several years, reaching 52,000 in 2015) now rivals the total number of combat deaths in the Vietnam War (58,000).

“Scary numbers,” Spodofora said. “It is a war. We are at war with drugs.” He urged the public to notify police whenever any suspected drug-related activity is observed.

The health department’s effort “brings a heightened awareness to the critical issue of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs,” according to Ocean County Freeholder Deputy Director Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Health Department. “The 3-D program offers information on addiction, recognizing an addiction problem, prevention options, education and consequences.”

The event features a commemoration ceremony at 1 p.m.; simulated DUI stops and Fatal Vision Goggle demonstrations at 10:30, 12:30 and 2:30; regulatory issues concerning DUI in New Jersey; and safety information from the New Jersey Highway and Traffic Safety Administration.

“3-D is a unique, ‘one-stop shopping’ opportunity with attendees that include state and county officials, alcohol and drug abuse treatment providers and members of the law enforcement and education community,” OCHD Public Health Coordinator Daniel Regenye said.

Congressman Thomas MacArthur, co-chairman of the Bi-Partisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic, will headline a roster of guest speakers that includes Regenye, Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato and IDRC Director Peter Curatolo.

For more information, call Curatolo at 732-341-9700, extension 7685, or visit ochd.org, follow the Health Department on Twitter @OCpublichealth or on Facebook.

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Councilwoman Sharon McKenna shared an announcement from Rep. McArthur’s office about a contest open to K-12 schools. The New Jersey School Boards Association and the U.S. Army have created and sponsored the STEAM Tank Challenge, modeled after the television show “Shark Tank,” wherein student teams create and present innovative projects and inventions before a judging panel of inventors, entrepreneurs and business leaders. Applications are being accepted through March 17. Visit njsba.org for more info or email steamtank@njsba.org.

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During the public comment portion of the meeting, Bob McManus from Phyllis Lane addressed the council in light of last month’s announcement that all plans for a community center on Mill Creek will be postponed pending a needs assessment as the newly opened Bay Avenue Community Center gets up and running.

McManus bought his Beach Haven West home, he explained, for certain “extra pleasures” (local pool, deli) that are no longer there and has had certain expectations that have not been met. He accused officials of “misleading residents,” which he said “is not responsible government.”

His comments covered a pool that once existed (but was replaced with six houses, a decision made by Beach Haven West developer Shapiro), a deli that has closed down, lagoons he believed to have a flow of fresh water (they’re saltwater, and the town has been working on finding a dredging solution for years, Spodofora said) and two community centers to be built post-Sandy with FEMA funds, not tax dollars. He suggested, why not save on design costs and just take the old plans for the original Mill Creek Community Center, bring them up to current code and rebuild it exactly as it was? Plus, he added, wasn’t actor Alec Baldwin’s $250,000 donation earmarked for Mill Creek?

Exasperated with having to repeat himself, Spodofora explained: In discussions about a community center, “community” means the 47-square-mile township, not just one neighborhood or section. There are no borders Beach Haven West, Cedar Run, Mayetta, Warren Grove.

“There was never any claim that both community centers would be built with FEMA funding,” the mayor said. The assertion has always been the town would get federal money to build one community center. The decision was to build that one center where it would be the most accessible, versatile and safe. A second center, if one were to be built, would come from tax dollars.

As for the Baldwin donation, “We’ve repeated this at least a dozen times,” Spodofora said. That quarter-million-dollar gift was to be applied to the construction of a new community center wherever the town saw fit to put one. No one ever said it was strictly to be used for a community center on Mill Creek Road. In his interview with The SandPaper six weeks after the storm, Baldwin said his donation was to rebuild Mill Creek Community Center, meaning to replace the building that was lost, wherever that might be.

“This council does not take lightly the expenditure of $1.5 (million) to $2 million,” Spodofora said, referring to the cost estimates for a secondary facility on Mill Creek. The needs assessment should shed light on the most economical course of action to take. When the opportunity arose to buy and renovate the Pine Street building, that became a much more cost-effective alternative to putting up a pavilion on Mill Creek.

Cedar Bonnet Island resident (and town historian) Tim Hart congratulated the council on how it has handled Sandy recovery in general and said he “thought it was a really clever idea to put the community center in that (Bay Avenue) location.”

— Victoria Ford

victoria@thesandpaper.net

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