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Bench Strike


									PAGE C2           THE PRESS, ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.                                        OBITUARIES/REGION                                                                       MONDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2004

                                  for them all to fit.                it yet. And the official interest      Mayor Lorenzo Langford
Bench                                Carol Longo, the coordinator
                                  of Ocean City’s program, says
                                                                      in it is the same as in the other
                                                                      towns that have sold dedicated
                                                                                                          said he’s happy to see new
                                                                                                          benches go out on the
(Continued from Page C1)          the Boardwalk has more than         benches: The fee a buyer pays       Boardwalk without the city
                                  300 benches with plaques on         to put a plaque on gives the city   having to foot the bill. “But I
has started taking orders for     them, and she had to stop tak-      a brand-new bench on its            don’t know that the benches we
personalized benches. And         ing orders at least two years       Boardwalk, at no cost to tax-       have are all that bad,” he
after she sent a check for        ago. Before that, she added, the    payers.                             added.
$1,000, the family could all go   city had a waiting list at least       Bitzer said that even at            Ventnor was out to replace
out to a bench across the         300 names long — and the            $1,000 apiece, his agency cov-      its aging benches a few years
Boardwalk from Fralinger’s and    interest was as hot when the        ers only its own costs in putting   ago when the city accepted a
see this dedication to Joe and    benches cost $650 apiece as it      out the new benches. The ones       suggestion to offer personal-
Florence League:                  was when they started at $400.      the city uses have wrought-         ized ones at $500 each, and
  “Here is where it all began.”      “The demand for dedicated        iron frames and cost about          now the mayor’s office says the
  The Leagues’ bench is still     benches on the Boardwalk is         $700 apiece unassembled, and        town has more than 200 new
one of just a handful on          just unbelievable,” she said.       by the time workers put them        benches on its Boardwalk,
Atlantic City’s Boardwalk, but       Jon Bitzer, the landscaping      together and the SID gets the 4-    pavilions and fishing pier. The
in other local towns that have    manager for the Atlantic City       by-12-inch plaques engraved,        town could also have hundreds                                                        Staff photo by Scott E. Stetzer
similar programs, the main        SID, believes the idea has start-   “The thousand dollars is a          more, too, but safety officials      Joe and Florence League pass by the Atlantic City bench
problem has been that too         ed slowly in the city because       wash,” he said. “There’s no         worried about an unbroken            dedicated to them during their regular bike rides.
many people wanted benches        most people don’t know about        profit in it at all.”               line of benches along one rail-
                                                                                                          ing making the Boardwalk too         bench, Sidney said, “We were         special bench at that special
                                                                                                          narrow, especially on crowded        just talking about that — we’d       spot in his family’s history.
                                                                                                          summer weekends.                     like to know about her.”               “(An old friend) sent me a
                                                                                                             In Atlantic City, the SID says       Most Boardwalk benches do         card and said, ‘Joe, I sat on your
                                                                                                          the city now has about 280           turn out to be memorials,            bench,’” he adds. “Then she
                                                                                                          benches on its 4-plus-mile-          designed to keep alive the           said, ‘I didn’t know you had a
                                                                                                          long Boardwalk, and the              names and memories of peo-           bench! Everyone else who has a
                                                                                                          agency will cap the number of        ple who have died. But Joe and       bench is dead.’”
                                                                                                          new, personalized ones at 200,       Florence League say they’ve            Of course, nothing says that
                                                                                                          according to its Web site.           learned the joy of seeing their      every Boardwalk bench has to
                                                                                                             Three of Atlantic City’s first    bench.                               be a memorial. But several
                                                                                                          plaque-bearing benches are in           The Leagues, who live now in      towns’ experience says that
                                                                                                          the last block of the Boardwalk      Egg Harbor Township, ride past       every available bench will sell
                                                                                                          before the city reaches Ventnor,     the spot three days a week,          out to somebody who has
                                                                                                          and two of them are memorials        winter and summer, on their          somebody to remember.
                                                                                                          to city natives John O’Neill and     regular 20-mile rides from the         (For      information         on
                                                                                                          Victor Saracini, who were killed     tip of Longport to Absecon           Boardwalk benches in Atlantic
                                                                                                          in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist     Inlet in Atlantic City and back      City,     call    the      Special
                                                                                                          attacks. But Debbie and Sidney       again.                               Improvement District at (609)
                                                                                                          Nieburg of Lansdale, Pa., and           “What a wonderful, wonder-        348-8338.)
                                                                                                          Margate picked a third bench,        ful gift. … And I do go over
                                                                                                          dedicated to the memory of           sometimes and park my butt
                                                                                                          Ruthann K. Saul, as their spot       on it, if nobody’s sitting on it,”
                                                                                                          to sit on a beautiful afternoon      75-year-old Joe League says
                                                                                                          last week.                           with a laugh. But what he likes
                                                                                                             They didn’t know Saul, but        even better is hearing from
                                                                                                          since they discovered her            people he knows who find his

                                                                                                          (Continued from Page C1)

                                                                                                             With all the determination of
                                                                                                          a striking Local 54 member, 18-
                                                                                                          year-old Shivali Gandotra
                                                                                                          proudly carried a “Unite!” sign
                                                                                                          and explained why she was on
                                                                                                          the Boardwalk on Sunday after-
                                                                                                             “To support her,” Gandotra
                                                                                                          said of her mother, Shushma, a
                                                                                                          Tropicana employee. Gandotra
                                                                                                          said she supported her moth-
                                                                                                          er’s cause, but added that as the
                                                                                                          strike drags into a second week,
                                                                                                          getting by is getting harder.
                                                                                                             “If (the strike) goes on long,
                                                                                                          we can’t live,” Gandotra said.
                                                                                                             Several of the union mem-
                                                                                                          bers interviewed Sunday did
                                                                                                          not speak English. Strike cap-
                                                                                                          tain Mirna Preciado translated.
                                                                                                             Yasmin Galarza, a room
                                                                                                          attendant at Tropicana for the
                                                                                                          past six years, brought her five
                                                                                                          children, Ashley, Yaraisma,
                                                                                                          Raymond,         Jakeline     and
                                                                                                          Suleyka, to show them what
                                                                                                          she is fighting for, she said
                                     PostScript Picture                                                   through Preciado.
                                     CObits-OBIT1.EPS                                                        “A good contract,” said
                                                                                                          Galarza, 31.
                                                                                                             Emili Gutierre brought her
                                                                                                          two children, Emicelis, 9, and
                                                                                                          Celimar, 18 months, to the
                                                                                                             Through Preciado, Gutierre
                                                                                                          said she explained the reason
                                                                                                          for the strike to her daughter
                                                                                                             “I told her that … I’m doing it
                                                                                                          for her, for a better future …
                                                                                                          and for bread for every day,”
                                                                                                          Gutierre said.
                                                                                                             Local 54 has been without a
                                                                                                          contract since Sept. 15 and
                                                                                                          opted to strike seven of 12 casi-
                                                                                                          no properties after a union-
                                                                                                          imposed deadline expired
                                                                                                          Oct. 1.
                                                                                                             On Friday, the seven struck
                                                                                                          casinos announced they had
                                                                                                          formed a unified group to
                                                                                                          negotiate with Local 54. No
                                                                                                          talks with the group have been
                                                                                                             Susan Lotzen, a spokes-
                                                                                                          woman for Harrah’s and
                                                                                                          Showboat, said no new
                                                                                                          progress has been made in
                                                                                                          negotiations. Messages left
                                                                                                          with a spokeswoman for
                                                                                                          Tropicana and a spokesman for
                                                                                                          Bally’s and Caesars were not
                                                                                                          returned Sunday afternoon.
                                                                                                             Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa
                                                                                                          signed a contract last year, and
                                                                                                          Sands Atlantic City took a “me-
                                                                                                          too” option that let it sign the
                                                                                                          first approved contract.
                                                                                                             Trump Hotels & Casino
                                                                                                          Resorts, which operates the
                                                                                                          three Trump-named casinos,
                                                                                                          signed a three-year deal hours
                                                                                                          before the strike deadline.

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