Authors Posts by Donald Wittkowski

Donald Wittkowski

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Ocean City Block Party Draws 25,000 People

When it comes down to her choosing between Ocean City, New Jersey, and Ocean City, Maryland, Baltimore resident Patricia Haley has some strong opinions that might surprise the people in her home state. “I make sure my clothes say Ocean City, New Jersey, instead of Ocean City, Maryland,” she said, referring to the words embossed on her garments. Haley, who grew up in Wildwood before becoming a Baltimore transplant, continues to have an allegiance to the Jersey Shore, not Maryland’s Eastern Shore. On Saturday, she was among an estimated 25,000 people who crammed Asbury Avenue for Ocean City’s annual spring block party, an event that gives the town a jump-start for the peak summer tourism season...

Atilis Gym Shows Its Muscle With Ambitious Expansion Plans

This is a place that proudly proclaims itself as an old-school gym. Owner Chris Lambert says there is nothing pretentious or fancy about the surroundings at his five Atilis Gym locations in Cape May and Atlantic counties. Just a lot of weights and fitness equipment. And sweaty people. He also stressed there is no huge corporate owner using high-pressure sales tactics to nudge clients into a more expensive membership level. “For the big corporations, it’s all about the dollar. It’s not about the people. But here, we don’t try to sell you stuff. We’re not trying to make you upgrade your membership,” he said. When you walk in the door, don’t be surprised if Lambert is there to greet you at the front desk. You can’t miss him...

OC Waterpark Looks to Make a Big Splash This Summer

Climbing the stairs to the top of the Serpentine Body Slide at OC Waterpark is like going on a mountaineering trip. Up, up, up you go, until you finally find yourself a full eight stories above the Ocean City skyline. Panoramic views of the ocean and beaches unfold for miles and miles from this high up. In the distance, you can see the water tower in Somers Point. Even farther away, you can spot the soaring smokestack at the B.L. England electric plant in Upper Township...

Friends, Family Members Recall Cancer Warrior Who Was “Fearless”

They remembered her radiant smile, her adventurous personality and the way everyone’s eyes seemed to focus on her when she entered the room. Christie Hess certainly had a mesmerizing quality, but perhaps most notable was her inner strength that allowed her to battle cancer with dignity and courage up until the very end, her friends and family recalled. “She had moxie. She was fearless,” said Megan Balinge, 36, of Vineland, who remained one of Christie’s closest friends after they graduated together from Ocean City High School in 1998...

Ocean City Council Adopts 2017 Operating Budget With Slight Tax Increase

City Council on Thursday night approved a $76.9 million municipal budget that includes funding for an unprecedented amount of construction projects spread throughout the city to help modernize an aging infrastructure system. The 2017 spending plan raises the local tax rate by nearly 3 cents, adding an extra $143 in local taxes per year to a home assessed at $500,000. The figure does not include county and school taxes, which are assessed separately. Frank Donato, the city’s finance director, said higher taxes will help finance $33 million worth of new construction projects this year in Mayor Jay Gillian’s proposed capital plan...

Ocean City School Board Hears Mother’s Emotional Plea to Fight Drugs

Ever since her 22-year-old son, Tyler, died of a heroin overdose in March, Ocean City resident Sally Onesty has been helping other drug abusers to get into treatment programs. One of them is Dylan Craver, a former Ocean City High School star athlete who said he began taking the powerful painkillers OxyContin and Percocet when he was just 16 years old and later became hooked on heroin. Standing side-by-side, Onesty and Craver made an impassioned public appeal to the Ocean City Board of Education on Wednesday night to focus attention on what they say is the community’s growing drug crisis...

Ocean City High School’s Girls Swimming and Basketball Teams Receive Honors

Members of two Ocean City High School teams that captured South Jersey championships this season were honored Wednesday night by the Board of Education. The Red Raiders girls basketball team won a school-record 30 games while advancing all the way to the state title game, dropping a nail biter to Pascack Valley...

Boardwalk Reconstruction Contract, Municipal Budget Top Council’s Agenda

City Council is expected Thursday to award a nearly $3 million contract for the final phase of a multiyear reconstruction of the heart of Ocean City’s tourist-friendly Boardwalk. In another key vote at its 7 p.m. meeting, Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing and give final approval to the city’s proposed $79.7 million operating budget for 2017. Overall, the spending plan is up about 5 percent compared to last year, largely due to an increase in debt payments for new construction projects and higher health insurance costs, according to Frank Donato, the city’s chief financial officer...

Made in America: Artists and Craftsmen Show Off Their Handiwork

As little girls growing up in Delaware, sisters Cheryl Eashum and Sue Lemmons would scour the beaches for shells, sea glass and old wood washed up by the surf. Their shell-hunting days along the Delaware Bay continued into their adulthood, a habit that eventually led to Lemmons’ garage filling up with all of their beachcombing keepsakes. Tired of the clutter gathering in the garage, Lemmons’ husband gave them an ultimatum: “Do something with it or get rid of it,” Eashum recalled, laughing...

Friends, Family Members Pay Tribute to Ocean City Woman Dying of...

The dozens of photos piled on a table at Jeniffer Battersby’s Upper Township house show Christie Hess in ways that her friends and family members will always remember her – as a smiling, adventurous and vivacious woman who loved life and was ready to conquer any challenge. “She was never scared of anything. She once said that life is like a book and she wanted her chapters filled with amazing stories,” recalled Kelly Hess, Christie’s younger sister and a resident of Ocean City...