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Southern Exposure

by Editorial Staff--South Jersey Magazine

15 Minutes: Sal Paolantonio

Long before he became an ESPN correspondent covering the National Football League for SportsCenter, Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown, Sal Paolantonio was a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, where he covered, in turn, politics and football. As to what the two beats have in common, the Moorestown resident says: “Drama. Disappointment. Glory.” Paolantonio should know, having penned the bestseller How Football Explains America. He’s won medals for his service in the Navy, profiled everyone from Frank Rizzo to Terrell Owens, and rubbed elbows with the likes of Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge. So, we took advantage of Paolantonio’s free time during the recent NFL lockout, to get a jump on football season and ask him how he was spending his time away from the sidelines.

How I spent my spare time during the lockout … I play tennis at Green Valley Tennis Club in Westmont, take long bike rides and go the movies.

I never leave home without … A backpack with everything I need to carry out any far flung ESPN assignment at any time.

My personal sports hero is … Joe Montana. He was cool and he delivered.

My all-time favorite sports moment was … Interviewing Pete Sampras live on SportsCenter in Wimbledon on July 4, 2000, after he set the new record for Grand Slam victories.

The probable star of my biopic is … Ray Liotta

My guilty pleasure is … Rita’s Water Ice.

My favorite meal is … Chicken Marsala with lump crab meat at Giumarello’s.

My favorite thing about South Jersey is … The sense of family.

The secret to my success is … Shalom in the home.

My little-known talent is … Gardening.

My preferred Shore spot is … The beach in Avalon. The biggest risk I ever took … After graduate school, joining the U.S. Navy.

My lingering military habit is … Proper prior preparation prevents poor performance.

My proudest moment was … Watching my three daughters graduate college.

I’d rather be … Sailing off the coast of San Diego.

When I get up in the morning I look forward to … Seeing my wife, Lynn, smile.

Best advice I ever got … “It’s not enough to aim at the target. You must hit it.”

I hope to be remembered for … Serving my country, supporting my family, making a little history.

Go Figure

$1.7 million: Funding the U.S.S. New Jersey lost in line-item vetos by Gov. Chris Christie. Democrats had attempted to earmark part of the New Jersey Council on the Arts’ budget for the battleship as they had in years past.

$2.7 million: Amount the ship brings in with tickets, events and gift shop sales.

$4.5 million: The ship’s yearly operating budget, including $600,000 for insurance and $700,000 for energy costs.

Names New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney called Gov. Chris Christie following the governor’s budget cuts.

43%: Portion of people who have seen MTV’s Jersey Shore who have a favorable opinion of the state, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson PublicMind poll.

41%: People who have not seen the show who feel the same way.

$60,000:The cost of Cherry Hill’s new 9/11 Memorial, set to be dedicated by the 10th anniversary of the attacks, at the central fire station. The centerpiece is an I-beam from the World Trade Center.

Home Grown

Pet Projects
Think of yourself as a true animal lover? You don’t have to spend your days cooking homemade organic dog food to prove it. A more elegant solution? A handcrafted pet portrait by Delran artist Linda Townshend. The illustrator and painter (who counts Arizona Iced Tea packaging among her non-canine commissions) has been painting animal portraits for about seven years. And when she takes on a pet painting, she approaches it very, very seriously.
“I like to meet and interview the pet and the owner, because all of that goes into the painting,” she says. “When you meet a pet, I think you can pick up almost immediately on their character, their personality and their disposition. I see whether they’re quiet or perky or curious.”
The paintings start at around $1,200 and Townshend has had clients from as far away as Florida commission the works. She provides a series of studies to clients, so they’ll have an idea of what to expect when she’s done.
Townshend, who herself currently has “a cat and a grand-dog,” says being a pet person gives her an edge in portraying a given animal on canvas. “Even though my work is very detailed, I really try to capture that particular essence of the pet,” she says.
“After all, that’s really the reason why people get a portrait done of their pet.”

Fresh ink
Dying to own a piece of Jersey transit history??The Independence Seaport Museum asked Sewell woodworker John Greco to craft a run of 125 pens from wood salvaged from old docks under the Walt Whitman Bridge. These limited-edition chunks of history come with gold or rhodium detail and cost $90 to $120 at the gift shop.

Staged Acting Out
When South Jersey native Eric Balchunas moved back to Mount Laurel from New York City several years ago, he was hit with what he describes as “a little bit of reverse culture shock.”
“Wawa on every corner, the Eagles fans, these things hit you pretty hard when you move into the area,” Balchunas says.
Jokes with friends about South Jersey stereotypes turned into comedy sketches, short films and other random acts of humor, all centered on this region. The result was Wawapalooza. The show, which Balchunas calls a 60-minute “sampler platter of comedy” debuted at the Philly Fringe in 2007—and now it’s in its fifth incarnation.
“The first year, one of the reviews said, ‘mildly entertaining.’ So, I’ve worked really hard to erase the ‘mildly,’” says Balchunas, who daylights as a data analyst for a financial media company. There are about 13 segments in each show:?“There are sketches about Eagles fans, or we have one about the way Phillies fans have Tourette syndrome and get up and start randomly yelling at the umpire. Then, we sometimes aim our comedy at the hipster community,” Balchunas says. In other words, he hopes there’s something for everyone.
One sketch that’s still just a pipe dream though: a video tour of the interior of the Wawa headquarters. Maybe next year.
Wawapalooza 5: Under Destruction: Sept. 2-17 at Society Hill Playhouse, 507 S. 8th St., Philadelphia,
Cinnaminson’s Augustus Milligan plays an eagles fan making a deal with the devil, (Marlton’s Tony Mahon), in wawapalooza

Top Shelf

Summer Reading
Most of us feel lucky if we’re good at just one thing. Cherry Hill native Eric Dezenhall, among the leading damage control experts inside the Beltway, also happens to have a remarkable career as an author of both fiction and nonfiction tomes. Out this summer is his latest opus, The Devil Himself (Thomas Dunne, $26), a piece of World War II historical fiction that has the U.S. Navy and a Jewish mob boss, Meyer Lansky, as unlikely bedfellows banded together to secure the country’s Atlantic coastline against a Nazi invasion. The book delves into imagined conversations between a modern-day Lansky (retired to Miami) and the grandson of an A.C. mafia boss.

Street Level
Dispatches From our Backyard

Just ahead of Independence Day, an apartment complex (illegally) ordered tenants to take down their American flags.

Two local men attempting to stage photos of a phony arrest locked themselves in a constable’s van in Pennsylvania. Upon their rescue, they were actually arrested—for public drunkenness and criminal mischief.

A local tax assessor was indicted for stealing nearly $150,000 from a trust fund for his 2-year-old daughter—to buy necessities including dinners out and cigars.

Cherry Hill
A septuagenarian pharmacist starred in his own version of Breaking Bad, allegedly taking in more than $1.2 million through the distribution of controlled substances.

The Gloucester County Animal Shelter offered a buy-one-get-one-free special on kittens.


Modern Family
When Voorhees resident Noelle Charbonneau spotted Kirill’s photograph, she felt an instant connection.
Never mind that the 10-year-old boy lives halfway around the world, in a Ukrainian orphanage, or that his English is a work in progress. Charbonneau knew that she wanted to host Kirill for the summer through a Georgia-based program called New Horizons for Children, which brings Eastern European orphans ages 7 to 15 to stay with American host families during the summer or around the holiday season.
“It’s just life-changing for everyone involved,” Charbonneau says. “I think it’s really an eye opener for my daughter as much as for my husband and myself.”
Charbonneau and her husband, Stephane, paid $2,400 for visas and travel expenses for the five-week stay for Kirill, whom they learned had been abused and neglected before being put into the orphanage at a young age. So far, she says, it’s been a summer of firsts for him: first dip in a swimming pool, first day at the beach, first trip to the Big Apple, first time riding a bike. “There are so many things that it’s really unbelievable to watch, and it’s so lovable,” Charbonneau says.
There is a language barrier—not to mention cultural differences. Even explaining the concept of swim trunks was tricky, as Kirill only had one set of clothing per week at the orphanage, and so was afraid to get his new swimsuit wet in the pool. (Fortunately, the family was able to explain the swimsuit to him before he jumped into the pool nude.)
Charbonneau isn’t certain whether her family will be able to adopt Kirill—though, she admits, “this is such a great way to introduce this [notion of adoption] to my husband and kind of lure him in a little bit.” At the least, she wants to give Kirill reason to hope, and to introduce him to others who might also be inspired to help him.
She says not many local families participate in such programs. But since meeting Kirill, Charbonneau’s neighbors now plan to host a child over the holidays as well.
“When children get hosted, it’s life changing for them because they realize there’s life outside of this orphanage. There’s a world out there,” Charbonneau says.
Find out more information at, or email Charbonneau at

How To … Keep your garden gorgeous through fall
So you missed the boat on planting fall bulbs. You couldn’t be bothered when it came to spring’s first pansies. And, as for tomatoes, you’ve resigned yourself to buying them at the farmers’ market. Well, it’s not too late to reform your ways. For advice, we turned to the experts: Ed Swietanski of Gill’s Landscaping in Mullica Hill; Ray Schultz of Eric’s Nursery and Landscape in Mount Laurel; and Mindi Schreffler of Springdale Farms in Cherry Hill. Here’s their advice:

Plant fall flowers. Who says September is too late to begin planting??Decorative cabbage and kale, as well as hardy pansies, thrive during in the fall. Pansies, says Schultz, are “capable of surviving strong winters, and they’ll come back in the spring, unlike the cabbage and kale flowers.” Other perennials strong enough to withstand the autumn chill are mums, daisies and coneflowers.

Consider autumn crops. Late August, says Schreffler, is the perfect time to put in spinach, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, brussels sprouts and radishes. Root vegetables prefer a sandy soil, so you may need to mix sand, sphagnum peat moss or chopped leaves into soil before planting, to improve drainage.

Winterize. When nighttime temperatures drop into the 40s, it’s time to pull up summer flowers and bring any tropical plants indoors. Ferns are also great plants to bring indoors, says Schreffler. She adds that, when you do bring in potted plants from the outside, be sure to treat them with insecticide so they don’t bring outdoor pests into the house.

Continue to water and fertilize. “It’s not about watering every day, but for how long you water. On hot days you should be watering for 40 to 45 minutes; during the fall you can water less,” Schultz says. He also recommends fertilizing your lawn in September and again in November, to feed your grass ahead of the winter chill.

Prune. Remove dead wood from shrubs to keep pests from burrowing in. As well, protect them from winter burn with a coating, Swietanski suggests. Products like Wilt-Pruf “will help keep your plants healthy by giving them a coating that will both keep the plant from drying out, as well as helping smother any overwintering insects,” he says.

Plan for spring. Want to see daffodils and tulips pop up after the thaw?? September is the time to plant bulbs for next year. Swietanski suggests mixing soil with bone meal and bulb fertilizer for a gorgeous spring garden.


Military Issue
When Jim Ewen’s son-in-law, Tim Missel, was deployed to Iraq, Jim and his wife Joette decided to keep themselves busy by preparing care packages for him. But when Medford’s Ewen experimented with a beef jerky recipe to send over, Missel’s fellow Marines wrote letters begging for more.
So, Jim’s Jarhead Jerky was born. Soon, Ewen was overwhelmed with requests—so many that he had to move his operations to a friend’s pizza restaurant, where he used the oven to dry beef at night, eventually donating more than 2,500 pounds of meat to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last year and a half.
Ewen’s son-in-law came home in February of 2010. But Ewen kept making jerky. Now, Ewen has taken his venture commercial. “My intentions would be not only to have it available to the military, but to everyone,” he says. He has partnered with Rastelli for the commercial manufacturing process.
Already, the jerky is available at Traino’s in Marlton, The Medford Bagel Shop, Italian Village in Maple Shade and other locations. And, this month, the Ewens are meeting with all five branches of the U.S. military, with the goal of getting the salty snack into every military base commissary.
In the meantime, though, Ewen still keeps busy making jerky at home to donate to the troops. “I make it every single day,” he says fondly. “Whether it’s 4 in the morning or 10 at night, there’s a process going on in my kitchen. I’m making the marinade, I’m drying the beef, I’m packaging the beef, I’m labeling the product.”
Ewen also plans to donate a portion of the profits to military support groups—meaning there will be plenty of beef to go around.


About Face
As a cosmetologist, Gail Van has been helping patients feel more beautiful for 28 years. But when a friend was coping with the side effects of chemotherapy, Van realized just how important that service really is—especially for those battling cancer. So, Van promised her friend she’d open a spa for cancer patients—and now she has, within the five-month-old True Salon Spa and Boutique (19 Cross Keys Road, West Berlin, 856-767-8783).
The private spa, dubbed True Boutique, offers wigs, scarves, hats, makeup, prosthetics, bathing suits and lingerie, all specially made for chemotherapy patients. “They feel better about themselves, and it helps them get better. I want to make them feel good to give them their strength back to go through this journey,” Van explains. Van also provides 100 percent human hair eyebrows and styling tips for hair and makeup to help women feel themselves.

Names to Know
Local people making a difference in South Jersey and beyond

Cherry Hill High School West graduate and University of Pennsylvania junior Vince Voiro was recently selected by the San Diego Padres in the Major League Baseball first–year player draft. Voiro, a starting pitcher for his college team, hasn’t made a commitment yet, but is likely to sign with one of the Padres’ minor-league affiliates.

Marlton native Maura Gillespie turned an internship, and a lifelong passion for politics, into a full-time job in Washington, D.C., working with House Speaker John Boehner. The Cherokee High School alumna, and recent cum laude graduate of Loyola University of Maryland, is an assistant to the Republican congressman.

Washington Township resident Scott Miller donated $1,000 to Washington Township High School students and staff to assist the school’s Changing Our World project, a youth group supporting the creative arts. Miller originally won the money as a prize, but decided to pass it on to a good cause after seeing the group in action at a fund-raising hoagie sale.

Dr. Maureen Reusche was appointed Cherry Hill school district’s interim superintendent this summer, making her the leader of South Jersey’s largest suburban school district. Reusche, the first woman to command her new post, has served as assistant superintendent since 2007 and was instrumental in revamping curricula across all of the district’s 19 schools.

Barbara A. Casey, a Medford native, has dedicated countless hours of her time to encouraging, guiding and influencing girls in the community, through her volunteer efforts as a board of directors member for the Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey. Casey was recently presented with a volunteer award at a recognition brunch hosted by the Girl Scouts, as thanks for her hard work.

Sewell mom Peggy Bradford is encouraging people from across South Jersey to walk their way to greater wellbeing. Bradford, inspired by her own 75-pound weight loss, wanted to share her successful diet and exercise plan, so she started a Facebook group called Steps to Good Health. The group’s roughly 2,000 members meet weight loss goals through step challenges, healthy recipe swaps and organized local walks.

Shawnee High School student Colby Miller has been picked to be a part of the National Rifle Association’s Youth Education Summit. The Medford resident will travel to Washington, D.C., for a week to meet with lobbyists and other group members.

Kennedy University Hospital’s Dr. Eric Grossman recently performed South Jersey’s first robotic-assisted gynecologic single-incision laparoscopic surgery, using the da Vinci S HD surgical system. The OB/GYN used the 3-D technology to remove a large mass from a patient’s ovary. This surgery reduces pain, recovery time and scarring.

Do you know a local person who is doing great things and should be on our radar? Let us know by e-mailing

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 5 (August, 2011).
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