Twenty Years Ago: Child with difficult prognosis

Carmela Casale knows she deserves this Mother's Day and every one since her son Evan Johnson was diagnosed with autism.

At the time, only about 15 in 10,000 children were diagnosed with the disease. The ratio is now one in 88 children, according to Autism Speaks, a national awareness organization.

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Back then, the diagnosis was devastating, Casale, a resident of Lower Township, remembers. But through a lot of research and work, Casale said her son is now a high school graduate and is planning to attend college - feats seemed very unlikely two decades ago.

Casale said she helps other families with autistic children and sees things she said can be counterproductive to their development.

"We need to teach children to be responsible for their behavior," she said. "They're no different than other children. They need to be taught."

Evan, now 23, was mainstreamed through the public school system in Lower Township and graduated from Lower Cape May Regional High School two years ago. He is now taking art classes and plans to enroll in college and get a degree in art or television production.

"I want to give people hope," she said. "If parents and teachers do right by their children, there will be plenty of opportunities for them."

Nineteen Months Ago: Ventnor runs out of money for beach tag checkers

Beachgoers in Ventnor got a special bonus at the tail end of the summer in 2011. The city ran through its beach tag checkers budget of about $15,000 by Aug. 17 and could not pay for the service for the rest of the summer.

The city did not check for beach tags the rest of the year.

Budget constraints and good weather that year contributed to the problem, but the city is doing more to ensure it won't happen again and ensure people are buying the tags, which raises a few hundred thousand dollars a year in revenue.

Tom Quirk, a management specialist in the Mayor's Office, said a low budget for checkers was only an issue for a few days last year and "we don't anticipate any problems this year."

The summer runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and Quirk said officials will make sure there is enough money to last through the whole season this year.

Eleven Months Ago: Galloway opens new senior center

In June 2012, seniors in Galloway Township finally had a place of their own.

After years of waiting, the township completed a $1.2 million project to renovate the former American Legion building on Carton Avenue and the White Horse Pike and turn it into an 8,000-square-foot facility.

The new building featured offices, a community room and other amenities, but it lacked a full kitchen. Seniors had to wait until the township could receive a little more money to finish the project.

But last month, the Atlantic County Board of Chosen Freeholders approved a $53,600 Community Development Block Grant for the construction of a kitchen in the senior center.

Freeholder Rich Dase said it's important for seniors in Galloway to have a nutrition site locally that could serve meals to the centers. He said currently they go to nutrition sites in Absecon or Egg Harbor City.

"This may be convenient for residents who live close to the borders of these towns, however, I think it's a shame that a municipality as large as Galloway does not have a nutrition site of its own," he said.

Contact Joel Landau:


Follow Joel Landau on Twitter @landaupressofac


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