Local Class War
ONLY one thing seems certain in the battle between Cape May and Lower Township over the cost of educating children at Lower Cape May Regional High School… it’s going to rumble on for a long time.
After Cape May City Council asked the county executive superintendent of schools for an investigation of the advisability of the city withdrawing from the Lower Cape May Regional School District, Lower Township responded with a resolution July 15, declaring its intention to “vigorously oppose and resist all attempts to change the composition of, or to dissolve the Lower Cape May Regional School District.”
A day later, during a Cape May City Council meeting, councilman Jack Wichterman called Lower Township’s resolution “very ambiguous.”
“If I was over there I’d pass a very ambiguous resolution also because they don’t have a leg to stand on,” he said.
Wichterman complained that when the school district was formed by a vote in 1956, the funding was based on the number of students that attended the school, not on the equalized values of property in the municipality. The formula was changed by the state in 1975 to one of equalized property value without input from municipalities.
A meeting with the executive county superintendent which included Lower Township officials was scheduled for July 22 to discuss a 92-page feasibility study of withdraw or a change in the funding formula paid for by Cape May. Wichterman said the county executive superintendent has 60 days to render an answer.
During public comment, Cape May resident Jo Tolley, a retired Presbyterian pastor and former Cape May Board of Education member, read into the record a letter to editor she wrote to the Press of Atlantic City. She noted that Cape May County was the second poorest county in the state.
Tolley said she was appalled the city hired an attorney for the purpose of reducing the city’s share of support to the Lower Cape May Regional School District.
“The increased tax burden would fall on the backs of the poor communities,” she said. “In the City of Cape May we have priced ourselves out of being a family community into a dwindling number of year-round residents and an increasing number of second home mansions.”
Tolley said education should be a top priority.
The Joy Of Flying
It was one of those storybook summer nights — a breezy porch the color of sea foam, wooden rocking chairs, ice clinking against cocktail glasses, the distant sound of tourists languidly flip-flopping to dinner in rubber sandals, a full moon, the occasional lightning bug, and just because there’s no such thing as a picture perfect evening, the occassional mosquito.
“I didn’t always want to be a pilot,” said Ken Rowan, owner of this sea foam porch on Congress Street and an international captain for Delta Airlines. “I probably wanted to play sports.”
“Baseball,” chimed in Viviane, Ken’s wife of 29 years (and three months), interior designer, and the woman behind the shop called White on Ocean Street. She sipped a freshly squeezed watermelon martini on the next rocker over.
“I wasn’t good enough to go all the way,” said Ken, “but I played every position — first base, outfield, pitcher.”
In fact, it wasn’t until his junior year of college, he was a communications major at Rutgers University, where he met Viv, that Ken even set foot on an airplane. And it wasn’t until he graduated in 1980 at the age of 22, at the nudging of a US Navy recruiter, that he entertained the thought of becoming a pilot.
“I went to Aviation Officer Candidate school in Pensacola, Florida,” he said, one of his two cats hopping onto his lap. “Remember the movie An Officer and a Gentleman? That was pretty much it, but a lot less glamorous.”
Ken spent the next just-under-seven-years in the service, where he flew the P3 aircraft, a four-engine turbo prop tasked with hunting for enemy submarines in the Pacific during the Cold War. “I remember having to land once with one engine down during a heavy snowstorm in Anchorage, Alaska,” he said. “That was a pretty exciting flight.”
Now, Ken flies a 767-400 wide-body around the globe —his schedule next month will take him to Madrid, Milan, Venice and Nice. “We usually get to spend 24 hours in each place,” he said. “There are days I’ve woken up at home and thought I was in a hotel room, without any idea where the door to the bathroom was, but it doesn’t happen often. The key to being an international pilot is being a great sleeper.”
That, and having an insatiable desire for the beauty of this planet — Ken lights up when he talks about the thrill of flying for hours over the Amazon forest, or viewing the countryside of Spain from a peak in the Montserrat mountain range near Barcelona with his co-pilots and a bottle of wine, just 12 hours after departing New York City.
But it is, perhaps, Ken’s respect for the aircraft itself that makes him most well-suited for the job. “I’ve been doing this for 33 years,” he told us, “and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched an airline take off and thought, ‘That’s amazing, that something that big — something that weighs 200-plus tons — is airborne.’ And that’s the simplest part, just getting it off the ground. It’s fantastic what I get to experience. If I’ve been flying for 10 hours, I will land within one minute of what they predicted the flight time would be.”
Admittedly, though, the job is not as sexy as it used to be. “It’s lost some of its mystique,” he says. “Pilots used to be king.”
But don’t tell that to Ken’s oldest son, Jordan, a 23-year-old manager of the Blue Pig Tavern who’d just made his way on to the porch. “It was awesome having a pilot as a dad growing up,” he told us. “I mean, short of having a father whose an astronaut, what cooler job is there?” It’s Viviane who cheekily reminds everyone that piloting a plane isn’t much different than being a bus driver. “Thanks for keeping me grounded, Viv,” Ken says.
It’s a picture of this group — Viviane, Jordan, and the couple’s other son, Brandon, 20, a music producer who’s spending his summer waiting tables at the Blue Pig — that Ken keeps under his uniform’s hat during each take-off. “I’ll often have frightened flyers who come to me wanting to know if it’s really safe,” Ken said. “I tell them, ‘Look, you see this picture? That’s my family, and I am going home to my family.”
To his family, and to his breezy sea foam porch in Cape May. Because no matter how many places Ken must go, it’s this little piece of the planet that is home. “When I come over the bridge,” he said, “I leave the weight of the world behind me. There’s the rest of the world, and then there’s Cape May. We talk about it all the time, and we feel it every time we land here.”