A newly completed audit shows that the Ocean City Housing Authority has engineered a turnabout. By Donald WittkowskiThe financially troubled Ocean City Housing Authority, still trying to recover from an embezzlement scandal involving its former chief executive, has been dealt even more blows following the death of one of its board members and resignation of another.The loss of those two commissioners was magnified Tuesday when the authority was forced to cancel its monthly board meeting because it lacked a quorum. Bob Barr, a city councilman who serves as the authority’s chairman, said the board likely will have to wait until October to meet again.“Everything is on hold right now,” he said.The death of Commissioner Ed Speitel on Sept. 11 and resignation of Commissioner Portia Thompson leaves three vacancies on the seven-member board. Barr said Thompson submitted her resignation to Mayor Jay Gillian last week, but he did not know the reason why she stepped down.Barr hopes to sit down with Gillian this week to discuss the vacancies. The mayor and City Council are responsible for making most of the appointments to the authority’s board, Barr said.There is a third vacancy on the board because Gov. Chris Christie has not yet appointed his representative to the housing authority. That seat has been open for more than a year, Barr said. It is not yet clear when the governor will make the appointment, although there are indications that it may happen just before Christie’s term in office expires in January.“We have been told by various sources that he will not fill the vacancy until the end of his term,” Barr said.Barr noted that the housing authority is not being singled out by Christie. Overall, there are 425 similar vacancies on government boards and authorities throughout the state, according to Barr.The Ocean City Housing Authority uses federal funds to provide affordable housing for low-income senior citizens, families and the disabled at its Pecks Beach Village and Bay View Manor facilities.Under the board’s supervision, the authority has been implementing a series of management and financial reforms following the firing last May of former Executive Director Alesia Watson, who pleaded guilty to embezzling federal funds from the agency. Watson avoided jail when she was sentenced to three years of probation on Sept. 7.During her guilty plea on May 8, Watson admitted misusing two housing authority credit cards to buy 69 MasterCard gift cards between December 2013 and March 2015. The gift cards were used for personal expenses and were also shared by Watson with friends and family members, authorities said.Watson used U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds administered by the authority to pay off the credit card bills associated with her purchase of the gift cards, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Authorities estimated between $6,500 and $15,000 was lost in the embezzlement scheme.Chairman Bob Barr and new Executive Director Jacqueline Jones are undertaking reforms to overhaul the housing authority’s management and finances.As the authority looks to rebuild itself in the post-Watson era, the death of Speitel, in particular, is a “tremendous loss” because of the vast knowledge he had about public housing, Barr said.“Without him to help us, I’ve got to believe we’ll be in serious trouble,” Barr said.Speitel, 61, served as the chairman of the housing authority’s finance and redevelopment committees and also worked closely with federal officials at HUD. Speitel, who owned an engineering company, helped to build projects for other housing authorities in New Jersey, giving him even more insight into the world of public housing, Barr stated.“I’m going to miss him a lot, not only as a nice person and great human being, but also as such a wealth of knowledge,” Barr said.Compounding its troubles, the authority has also been struggling with its finances. Jacqueline Jones, the new executive director who took over after Watson’s removal, reported last month that the agency is running at a $100,000 loss. The deficit was caused by delays in getting the federal budget approved.Jones told the board members during the August meeting that the authority will be “very, very low on cash” through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.The authority’s finances have been strained by a late $117,000 payment from HUD. Normally, the money would have arrived from HUD months ago, but has been held up by delays with the federal budget’s approval in Washington, Jones explained.The HUD funding can be used for both the housing authority’s capital and operating expenses. The money is not expected to come to the authority until the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1.Until then, the authority will tighten its belt and hold off on any extra capital projects, although it will keep up with basic maintenance repairs, Jones said.
With Garth on the bench with foul trouble for much of the first half, Nzeakor picked up the slack, scoring 11 points to go along with eight boards to pace the Cardinals’ offense. Jackson Stent hit two free throws to push the Huskies (12-18) within 80-79 but Garth hit a free throw with a second left to secure the win. The loss proved tough for HBU, which trailed by 13 with 7:24 remaining before making a spirited run that saw them take a 77-76 lead on Jalon Gates’ free throw with 1:01 left. The Cardinals also struggled from beyond the arc, missing all seven of their 3-point attempts in the first half. Lamar hit just four of their 15 long range shots, a far cry from the 17 they hit against the Huskies in their 110-75 victory on February 27. With the victory, the Cardinals, who have now won nine-straight games, recorded their first 20-win season since 2011-12, also extending a stretch that has seen them score at least 75 points in 11 of their last 12. Nzeakor did the rest, hitting a short jumper and the ensuing free throw to give the Cardinals an 80-77 lead. The Second-Team All-Southland Conference post finished the night with 25 points and 13 rebounds as he helped pick up the slack on an off night from first-team all-conference guard Nick Garth. Statistically, Lamar held a decisive edge for most of the first half, especially on the glass. The Cardinals outrebounded the Huskies by a 27-13 margin, including a 7-1 margin on the offensive end, but the Cards’ error-prone ways — combined with the quick hands of Bonds — resulted in Lamar committing eight turnovers that turned into 10 points for HBU.MBB: “Run to the board!”@Lamarmbb places its name in the 2nd round, advancing to play UNO Thursday. #WeAreLU #SouthlandStrong @LamarUniversity @LamarAthletics pic.twitter.com/9BDoncE5ei— #SouthlandStrong (@SouthlandSports) March 14, 2019 “Coach (Tic Price) trusted me with the ball,” said Hunter, who finished with 18 points and four assists. “He told me to make the play to go win us the game. When I came off the screen, I saw Josh’s man come up, so I redirected the screen. When I drove, his man came up, so I dished it to him.” Added Cottrell, “I think Lamar may be our most balanced team in our league.” Neither team held more than a five-point lead in a first half that saw the Cardinals cling to a 33-32 lead at intermission. Box Score | Photo GalleryKATY, TX – With overtime looming, Lamar guard Jordan Hunter delivered perhaps his most important pass of the season, giving the Cardinals at least one more night at Merrell Center. Hunter found a wide-open Josh Nzeakor for the go-ahead basket with 3.3 seconds left that pushed No. 5 Lamar past No. 8 Houston Baptist 81-79 in the opening game of the Southland Conference’s Basketball Tournament on Wednesday evening. The victory earned the Cardinals (20-12) a Thursday afternoon date against No. 4 New Orleans at 5 p.m. CT.MBB: Here’s the game-winner for @LamarMBB. Nzeakor with the hoop and the harm.Cardinals advance to play @PrivateersMBB Thursday. 5 pm start inside @MerrellCenter.#WeAreLU #SouthlandStrong #ChampWeek pic.twitter.com/XUrBMIzy99— #SouthlandStrong (@SouthlandSports) March 14, 2019 “We picked up on our scouting that he liked to go right, so we started playing his right hand and tried to force him to go to his left,” said Price of DuBose, who had just 13 points in his last two meetings against Lamar after scoring 33 in an 88-82 overtime win over the Cardinals on January 2. “Our guys really fought hard,” said HBU coach Ron Cottrell. “The other side of the coin was that we weren’t able to create tempo, and that’s a credit to them.” Like Lamar, HBU had its leading scorer on the bench for much of the opening 20 minutes as Ian DuBose picked up two quick fouls and was scoreless in the eight minutes he was on the court. The sophomore guard was held without a field goal and had just five points on the evening.
One hundred years ago, before the influx of Greek migrants touched down at Princess Pier in Melbourne, thousands of Australian families gathered to farewell their male family members making the trip up north to help the Allied forces. Thousands of Australian men would have said their last goodbyes at the pier before they settled at the base in Lemnos, Greece, before the tragic voyage to Gallipoli. Princess Pier was where the first Australian contingent of troops set off to the Great War, and it was where hundreds gathered 100 years later to mark the moment and remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. At an Anzac Centenary commemorative ceremony at the pier on Sunday, Greek Australians joined the crowd to pay their own respects and share the Greek connection to a huge part of Australian history. The Lemnian connection was represented in a stall set up by the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee (LGCC), where passersby were able to see photos of nurses and other personnel on the island and get a small history lesson on the lesser-known Greek connection.Christina Despoteris, executive member of the LGCC, says the stall was packed with people keen to find out more about Greece’s connection.“There were lots of people – lots of interest,” Ms Despoteris tells Neos Kosmos. “We had pictures of nurses on the island, we had pictures of the hospital there, pictures of soldiers, and they came and had a look at those.” For Ms Despoteris, the day marked the start of the commemorative period, that will span four years just as the war did. For many who saw their loved ones off at Princess Pier in 1914, they were blissfully unaware of how long the war would span and how bloody it would eventually become.The island of Lemnos still holds a special place in Australian history. More than 100 Australian soldiers are buried there, while some of the first Greek migrants to travel to Australia were in fact Lemnians.“Lemnos is slowly becoming acknowledged as part of the history of Gallipoli. Our role is to encourage and to make sure that more and more people know of it,” Ms Despoteris says.Each of the 17 ships of the first convoy farewelled at Princess Pier had its own stall at the event, giving crowds the chance to learn of the soldiers who were on board and their fate. For the LGCC, the event was a chance to fundraise and garner interest in the forthcoming statue, to be erected midnext year. The group sold out of their fundraising badges, raising more than $600 for the statue.Commissioned by sculptor Peter Corlette, the bronze statue depicts two figures, one a nurse standing tall, looking after a seated soldier.The statue will be erected at Albert Park, linking it to the nearby Princess Pier legacy. The committee is also organising a photographic exhibition, displaying a myriad of photos from the island during the war, with the hopes it will tour the country during the centenary commemorations. For more information, and to donate to the statue, visit lemnosgallipolicc.blogspot.com.au Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram
Tigres UANL manager is set to guide his team to today’s CONCACAF Champions League final, but as of right now there’s no incentive to win it.Tigres UANL and Rayados Monterrey will face off in tonight’s first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Final.Normally the winning team would not only get bragging rights in the zone, but they would also get prize money, and the chance to play in the FIFA Club World Cup.But it seems like the 2018 edition of the tournament in the United Arab Emirates is the last one in the current format, with a new edition and structure expected to start in 2021.“We wanted to get to the final, we wanted to get again to the final to have once again the opportunity to play this tournament [the FIFA Club World Cup],” Tigres manager Ricardo Ferretti said during a press conference attended by a Ronaldo.com reporter.“Right now there’s no tournament, well, there’s no host. We will see if they organize it, I hope they do, I wouldn’t want to win [the CONCACAF Champions League] only to be told there’s no tournament.”“If there’s no tournament then why the f*** are we playing for?” he said laughing.“I hope they find a host, and first, we have to play the final; Monterrey and we have the wish of winning this game.”Tigres and Rayados will play tonight in the first leg of the Final, with the second leg to be played next week.“Here the word ‘obligation’ isn’t the right one. I think ‘ambition’ is the word,” Ferretti said with a smile.“We have the ambition to achieve something and get us out of this unfortunate situation, and they also do with not having been able to achieve anything in their new stadium. Which of the two? Wednesday we’ll see who achieves the final objective.”🗣 ¡Hoy es el día! ⚽️👊🏻 Llegó el momento que tanto soñamos y para el cual nos hemos preparado equipo y afición para dar el primer paso. ¡Esta noche hagamos del Universitario un verdadero ‘Volcán’ de pasión!🌋 ¡Vamos, Tigres! 🇺🇦💪🏻#UnidosYAlentando 🙌🏼#TigresPorLaConca 🐯 pic.twitter.com/t8AezwHkyt— Club Tigres Oficial (@TigresOficial) April 23, 2019