Star News Group 10/16/09

Beach to become military-friendly

Point Beach’s Casey Loundy, 17, who is a tennis player for the high school, recently approached the borough council about making Point Beach a military-friendly community. Photo by SUEANNE GOSS, STAR NEWS GROUP

POINT PLEASANT BEACH — A senior from Point Pleasant Beach High School is looking to make the borough a more military-friendly community.

Last week, Casey Loundy, 17, a resident, here, and her father, Mike Loundy, attended a Point Pleasant Beach Council meeting, where Casey was asked to describe her mission.

Casey — who is a National Honor Society member and plays three high school sports, including tennis — wrote a letter addressed to the council, which all the council members had an opportunity to read. Needless to say, Council President Ray Cervino and Councilman John Mercun were both impressed by Casey’s plan.

The council promised Casey that the governing body will draft an ordinance to make the borough a military-friendly town, and added the commitment to its consent agenda for the evening. The council voted unanimously to commit to the ordinance.

Making a town military-friendly means getting businesses in town to provide discounts to past and present members of the military. It also involves getting beaches to offer past and present members of the military discounted beach badges.

This all came about through a World War II project Casey did last year at school, where she was asked to interview someone who served, or knew someone who served, in World War II and write a report about that person.

Casey chose to write her report about her grandfather, Sidney Loundy, formerly of Seaside Heights, who served in the Army in World War II.

Sidney Loundy died before Casey was born, so she interviewed her grandmother, Adele Loundy, read a diary that belonged to her great aunt, Leatrice Loundy, and also pulled out information from her grandfather’s discharge papers.

Sidney Loundy stormed Normandy Beach in France during World War II, and was later wounded and taken prisoner during the Battle of the Bulge.

His prison camp was liberated by Gen. George S. Patton, just before the war ended in 1945.

Sidney Loundy received various medals and commendations for his service, as well as a Purple Heart for being injured during the Battle of the Bulge.

He was also one of the founding members of the Seaside Veterans of Foreign Wars [VFW] unit and American Legion Post 351, which assisted returning members of the military.

Casey said she did not know much about her grandfather before doing the report, and said it was a great way to learn about all the great things he had accomplished in his life.

It was after doing this report last school year that Casey began her quest to make towns in New Jersey military-friendly.

“I realized we should be doing something for these [military] men and women and their families today, like my grandfather did,” Casey said in her letter to the council.

In April, Casey proposed the idea of a military-friendly town to the Seaside Heights Borough Council, which elicited a positive response, as the council drafted an ordinance, to make it a military-friendly town.

“Seaside Heights decided to allow military members, both past and present, with a valid military ID, and their families, to access their beaches for free, which at the time was contrary to state law,” Casey said in her letter to the council.

The only people that were previously allowed discounted beach access were children under the age of 12, senior citizens and people with disabilities.

“The town took the bold move and allowed this, as long as military members were tracked and went to lifeguard headquarters to receive their beach badges,” Mr. Loundy said.

The Seaside Heights Council also requested that businesses in town offer some form of discount to past and present members of the military.

Casey said she visited several businesses in Seaside Heights, and, so far, has obtained discount plan offers from 70 business in town, including restaurants, parking lots, hotels and amusements, all of which would be willing to provide military discounts.

“Some businesses discussed feeding military members for free at certain times,” Casey said in her letter to the council.

Casey even created a small, military-friendly display sign that will be donated to each business that decides to offer military discounts.

“To have all these stores contributing, it’s nice to see them giving back to people who are serving for us every day, as well as their families,” Casey said.

Casey said the resulting press and radio coverage of her actions may have prompted the New Jersey State Senate to adopt legislation proposed by State Sen. Christopher Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblyman Daniel W. Van Pelt last year. The officials’ proposed legislation called for towns to be able to decide for themselves whether to provide free or reduced beach badges to active military and New
Jersey National Guard personnel. Under the proposed legislation, the military members’ spouses and children under the age of 12 would also be given the free or discounted beach badges.

The legislation was adopted this year, on June 25.

After her success in Seaside Heights, Casey sent letters detailing her mission to several other towns, including Point Pleasant Beach, Atlantic City, Ocean City, Lavallette, Mantoloking and Sea Girt.

“It got to be a big deal and caught fire pretty quickly,” Mr. Loundy said.

In order for Point Pleasant Beach to become a military-friendly town, the council must draft and pass an ordinance, similar to the one passed by Seaside Heights.

Casey said that if the council approves the ordinance, she will begin visiting businesses in Point Beach, just as she did in Seaside Heights, to get them to cooperate and provide military discounts.

“I’m happy to see that my hometown is going to follow through on this, and it’s great to see the council contribute as well,” Casey said.

Casey said she hopes to “have all the New Jersey beaches free for past and present military members and their families.”

Mr. Loundy said he is proud of his daughter and all the hard work she has done.