I have to admit to being shocked in a good way that voters approved the Toms River Regional Schools $147 million referendum for renovations and improvements at all 18 schools in the district.

What’s even more stunning to me is that it passed rather easily with 58 per cent of the near 13,000 votes cast in favor of the project which will raise taxes in Toms River, Pine Beach, Beachwood and South Toms River.

In general over-taxed voters in this state often reject school referendums and that’s been especially true in recent years but with strong support from teachers, parents and others this one passed by more than 2,100 votes.  As is often the case with any election not held in November the turnout was rather low with only 17 per cent of registered voters in the four municipalities casting ballots.

Tuesday was also a good day for a pair of former New York Yankee pitchers who are on their way to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  There was never a doubt that Mariano Rivera would be elected in his first year on the ballot and it seems fitting that the greatest closer in baseball history would become the first unanimous choice as Rivera was named on all 425 ballots.

He will be joined in Cooperstown by former teammate Mike Mussina who spent 8 of his 18 big-league seasons in the Bronx.  Also elected in his first year of eligibility was the late Phillies and Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay and in his last year on the ballot Mariners DH Edgar Martinez.

In baseball news of a different kind Yankee fans won’t see and hear Al Leiter in the YES Network broadcast booth this season.  After 12 years as an analyst on Yankee broadcasts the former major league pitcher has chosen not to return so he can spend more time with his son Jack who is a standout pitcher at Delbarton.

Like when he father was a senior at Central Regional, Jack has committed to a college (Vanderbilt) but those plans might change as he’s expected to be a high pick in the June MLB draft.

Al is expected to remain with the MLB Network this season.

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