As a veteran, Joe Astick finds it frustrating that many fellow veterans, particularly younger veterans who are finishing recent tours of duty, cannot find employment.

Instead of complaining, the 63-year-old Brigantine resident decided to be proactive, starting his own company, Astick Building Consultants, that will help train veterans in various trades, particularly building modular homes, while putting them to work simultaneously.

In conjunction with Bridgeton's Building Solutions, Astick's goal is to begin hiring seven to 10 veterans within the next 30 days. His ultimate goal is to hire as many as 100 veterans.

"I can teach them electric, carpentry, plumbing, masonry, … all of the building trades, while paying them a good wage while they are learning," said Astick, who has 43 years of experience in the modular-home business. "About 1,500 modular homes came into the state of New Jersey last year from other states. We want to build them here and let the veterans build them."

Astick, whose office is on Delilah Road in Egg Harbor Township, is working on solidifying his company's nonprofit status, which would allow him to accept donations and government grants. A group of volunteers is assisting Astick in getting his company running efficiently, and Astick has talked to numerous veterans groups to start spreading the word.

"I had a heart attack a year ago, and during that time I found out there are 5,000 homeless veterans in New Jersey, and that's just crazy," Astick said. "So that motivated me to do something. You have to set priorities in life. I am a veteran, and I want to give something back to my fellow veterans. With this economy, there are no jobs, not even for the guys and girls who put their lives on the line, and I want to do a little something about it."

Short stories

•The third annual "Hurley in the Morning" Golf Open recently donated its proceeds to four local charities. The John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers, Atlantic County Toys for Kids, Atlantic County Women's Center and UNICO Scholarship Foundation each received $11,000 checks from the Golf Open, named after the longtime radio show on WIBG-AM 1020 hosted by Egg Harbor Township's Harry Hurley.

•So much has changed in the past century. Just ask Surf City's Virginia Whartman, who celebrated her 100th birthday June 21 with a circus-themed party in her yard. About 60 guests attended. Whartman, a graduate of Syracuse University, ran the Allentown Symphony for many years as a resident of Allentown, Pa. She settled in her Surf City summer home many years ago, neighbor Shirley Carson said. "Ginny's quite a person," Carson said. "She's quite a character."

•Longport's George Siganos will dedicate a motorcycle to the Northfield Police Department at 5 p.m. Thursday. Siganos owns Northfield's The Plaza at Center Point and Siganos Management Inc. He will present the 2010 Harley Davidson Road King Police Special as a token of gratitude for the Police Department's work in the community. A reception will take place during the dedication at The Plaza at Center Point, 1205 Tilton Road, Northfield.

Short stories compiled by Emily Brill.

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The surfing life

A local documentary shows what it's like to be a southern New Jersey surfer in Wednesday's Everyone Has a Story.

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