The column that asks why there is not a loud outcry after a man gets shot to death on the street leading to the historic Johnson Reeves playground that was rejuvenated by combined Revive South Jersey, volunteers and sponsors, and what is going on on East Avenue and its spurs like Cedar Street, where a young man was gunned down a couple of years ago?
By Jack Hummel
Radio: 92.1 FM WVLT Saturdays noon to 2 p.m.
U.S. Army: RA13815980
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How bad does it hurt the image of Bridgeton’s downtown when a man gets shot to death four or five blocks away on a street in a section called Milltown, where all the workers used to live during the city’s industrial heyday?
We know this.
A few years ago, a group of men met in a backyard on East Avenue, and they all stood in a circle, because they didn’t want anybody standing behind them, a sure bet of different organizations meeting.
The person who saw that was new to the neighborhood and immediately moved out.
Now, what is the story with East Avenue and the rest of Milltown? We know the police department knows because they have informants. We do not. But we know residents who at the very least want to know what is going down.
Otherwise, how can we fight it?
As for taking care of our own …
“Longtime Schalick assistant football coach Mike Hars is in the battle of his life.
“Coach Hars suffered a heart attack Feb. 12 and has been operated on twice. The Schalick community has rallied to support their beloved coach and history teacher in the form of a GoFundMe page. It can be accessed through the following link (which is good through this Friday):
“Mike Hars is tough as nails. I love the story about how, at practice one day, he lined up against a fully equipped lineman to demonstrate proper blocking technique. Harsy launched into the lineman, repeatedly, at full speed. By the time he was done, blood was streaming down Harsy’s face.
“Back when I started covering Schalick football for The Daily Journal in 1990, the Cougars were playing a game in Bristol, Pa. Back then, we did predictions for all of the local team’s games. I’d listed Schalick as a 28-point underdog, and of course they proceeded to dismantle Bristol.
“Near the end of the game, many of the Cougars were shouting at me angrily for my prediction and pointing at the scoreboard. Only one guy on the Schalick sideline had a smile on his face.
“Hey Kegs,” Hars said to me. “What do you think, not too bad, eh?”
“It is people like Mike Hars who made me fall in love with the Centerton community and its school district. He personifies the family atmosphere that we all feel here, and the tireless hours he has invested in our children has transformed them into quality athletes, top-notch students and better people.
“Our prayers go out to Mike, his wife Sue and daughters Kerry and Alyssa. Get well soon, Harsy.”
— Erik Cagle
He was there the year we covered Schalick football when they had the halftime dancer who went on to be Miss Cumberland County.
It was the only time a hot dog tasted good on Thanksgiving morning.
Mike Hars was full of youth and vinegar.
Keep us updated, Kegs.
On the new photo on our column …
“Might this be “circa early 1970s?” Perhaps heading out the door to cover another Bridgeton High football game from the sidelines.”
— Pete Manetas Jr.,
from the family that was king of the gladiolas
We’ll be honest with you, Pete, it was not taken last year.
It was the year before.
Pete had a cup of coffee with the Evening News on his way to being sports information director to we don’t remember how many colleges.
He wrote a column called “Games People Play,” but we don’t remember if his photo appeared with it.
We don’t doubt that he’s every bit as good looking now as he was then. Healthy eaters don’t fall off photogenic cliffs.
Remember Mike Pierce’s card shows all over Cumberland County? Still doing them?
“No, as Ebay killed the card shows. Now hosting trivia (posting trivia questions on here occasionally and I DJ. Always keeping busy.
“Thanks for asking about me!”
— Mike Pierce
Happy birthday, Deanna Speranza Murphy and kudos to your cancer-fighting posse, led by husband John and the Speranza brothers.
DEANNA SPERANZA MURPHY
“Bev Greco and CCSPCA is reaching out looking for an OUTSIDE home for a fluffy white cat that was found injured. The person who found it turned it in to CCSPCA because it would not stay inside. However, it is very friendly.
“They estimate the cat to be approximately a year old. The cat has been labeled unadoptable due to its reluctance to stay inside and they’ve reached out to us hoping someone can care for it as an outside cat.
“If this can be you, please call 856-691-1500 and mention that you were referred by Ric from Animal Friends Foundation. There will be no charge.”
— Ric Kuhns,
Animal Friends Foundation
Shep trips on the Camel, felled by the Lucky Strike in Marlboro …
“OK, I have tried to quit smoking and did good until last Sunday.
“Broke something old, fired up three and went to patch.
“First night, not too bad, but with the VA meds, it doesn’t make it. By midnight, I was ready to blow my brains out. I took it off and have been fine — just can’t wear it at night.
“Have enough problems trying to sleep, but I will beat this (bleep).”
You want to read somebody who will never be jaded?
“Congratulations to Scotti Walker, one of our team leaders. She has been selected to the Cape Atlantic League, American Conference Second Team All Stars as a sophomore and first-year player.
“Are you ready for more great news? Mikayla Thompson-Young and Okzana Gault both received Honorable Mention in the voting for second team. If they would have had a third term, they would have made it.
“Three all-star teammates on one team!
“This was the first year together as a team and we are going to continue to grow as a team. Summer League is our next challenge.
“South Jersey, you better be ready for Bridgrton High Lady Bulldogs. The Bulldog pride is back.”
— Coach George Linen,
sergeant, JROTC Program
Bridgeton High School
Get in touch with Mike Flynn, AAU girls basketball guru and head of the Philadelphia Belles and get your team in the best traveling basketball league ever assembled.
Or get your best players on a team.
A little history.
July 27, 2009.
Presence and clout: Over the course of nearly four decades on the girls basketball scene, Mike Flynn has acquired plenty of both.
Flynn is in his 35th year of running the Nike-backed Philadelphia Belles travel team, which boasts 15 national championships, including four in the 17-and-under division, and more than 80 district titles.
The former newspaperman, 56, also holds a seat on the McDonald’s All-American selection committee. His players never have to worry about being overlooked by the nation’s top college coaches. He served as USA Today‘s first girls basketball editor beginning in 1984.
“He’s an icon in the game,” said Boo Williams, whose self-named 17U AAU team and summer tournament are among the top ranked in the country. “Everyone knows what he’s done in the past, and he’s always been ahead of his time.”
How did a guy who got into sports as a statistician at the local Philly Bulletin become a nationally known power broker of girls hoops?
“I started from the ground up,” Flynn said. “I understand every level of this game.”
His involvement in youth basketball dates to the early 1970s. He got started as a club coach long before travel teams became key vehicles for college recruiting. He was so far ahead of his time that girls in cities such as New York, which didn’t have a single girls club, had little choice but to gravitate to Philly.
“People won’t like to hear it,” said Flynn, “but I started (AAU) girls basketball in New York City.”
The next year, then-CK coach Vinny Cannizzaro had two of his players, Nakia Hill and Darlene Saar, play for the Belles. After a summer of making the commute, Cannizzaro founded the Liberty Belles — which Flynn named — in Queens.
In recent years, Flynn has removed himself from coaching the Belles’ 17-and-under team, turning his attention to directing all of his programs.
At times, Flynn’s tell-it-like-it-is style has may rub other coaches the wrong way, but Brian Creech, who coaches the Belles’ 17U squad, says they have to respect him.
“Mike Flynn is an individual where there’s no middle ground – either you love him or you hate him,” Creech said. “And the good thing about that is, Mike has no problem telling you exactly where he stands on issues and he’s not politically correct.”
— Mike Lelinwalla
“Can I tell you what really makes a pastor love his job, besides preaching and seeing someone surrender to Christ as their savior and Lord.
“Over the last year, the Lord has been challenging me to reach the youngsters, primarily the young boys who each afternoon and evening play ball in front of our church, in the middle of 5th street, a half-block off Rte. 49.
“We witnessed far too many close calls, cars speeding through, almost hitting our kids. For a couple of months I invited them to play on the front lawn. It was fun until the yard turned to mud.
“So I thought if we could get a basketball hoop, pole and all, we could set it up in our lot and the kids would be safe. Well, I shared my vision with the church and today, one of our leaders walks into my office bouncing a basketball, tells me the pole, hoop and net was here, along with 2 new balls.
“Wow, Aloha Smith Oatman, you rock! Thank you so much for joining the vision.
This is why I love my job, good times, bad times. God will honor you for your faith!
“Thank you, Aloha, for dreaming with us!
— Pastor Charles Wilkins,
Millville Bethel AME Church
Pastor, get the 13-17s involved in Millville PAL!
YOU CAN BOOK IT: We need more information on fatal crime in Bridgeton.