NEW CASTLE —
A list of 45 recipients of New Castle basketball championship rings shows only 17 are student team members.
The other 28 rings went to adults who, according to school administrators, have some affiliation with the basketball program or are administrators or both.
The rings were bought in honor of the New Castle High’s boys basketball team’s recent achievement of capturing its first district WPIAL title since 1999 with a 26-0 record.
Controversy about the purchase of the rings erupted at last week’s school board meeting when board member Dr. Marilyn Berkely questioned why so many rings were bought at a cost of $8,504.55, and whether they were purchased with tax money.
The rings, which reportedly are silver, cost $188.99 apiece.
Berkely and board members Barb Razzano and David DiGiammarino all cast “no” votes against paying the bill.
Board member Anna Pascarella took exception to the number of rings issued and suggested that in the future that number be decided and reviewed by the board’s athletic committee.
Superintendent George Gabriel said at the board meeting that the ring purchases were “an administrative decision.”
A check for $8,504.55, was made out to Josten’s in Chicago and was co-signed by board president J. Allan Joseph and district treasurer Jack Camerot. The check was dated June 28, almost two weeks before the board was presented the list of district expenditures for a vote.
The three voting no singled out that expenditure, but it was approved by a majority of the board.
Ralph Blundo, who is the boys basketball coach, and athletic director Sam Flora received rings that were paid for by the umbrella fund, and they personally paid for four other rings for other people.
Blundo bought a ring for his father, Ralph Blundo Sr. Flora paid for rings for Chipper Cotelesse, who operates the scoreboard, Mark Kirkwood, a junior varsity player and scorekeeper, and Bob Pia, the public address announcer, according to information provided by the district business office.
District business manager Joe Ambrosini explained that the district’s umbrella fund contains money generated from the schools’ vending machines. It also has money that parents pay for drug testing, he said, and is used for that purpose.
School district provides list of ring recipients
The New Castle Area School District administration has provided a list of the people who received basketball championship team rings.
Superintendent George Gabriel provided the basketball-related titles for some of the adult recipients.
He noted that four rings were paid for privately and not by the fund. Those are indicated below.
The recipients are:
17 high school and junior varsity players:
Drew Allen, Stew Allen, Shawn Anderson, Domenic Caimona, Jermaine Cuffie, Brandon Domenick, Corey Eggleston, Tyler Fitzpatrick, Tyrell Hawkins, Malik Hooker, Paul Jones, Mike Mazzanti, Freddie Mozzocio, Anthony Richards, Antonio Rudolph, Jesse Salzano and Levar Ware.
Adults and their positions:
•Joe Anderson, George Washington Intermediate School principal and director of basketball operations.
•Michael Blundo, statistician
•Ralph Blundo, coach
•Ralph Blundo Sr., father of coach (paid for by Ralph Blundo)
•David Bordonaro, team manager
•Pat Cain, eighth-grade head basketball coach
•Marc Caminiti, videographer
•Chipper Cotelesse, scoreboard operator (paid for by Sam Flora)
•Mark DeMonaco, assistant coach
•David Domenick, ticket manager
•Jason Doneluck, assistant coach
•Jordan Essa, seventh-grade volunteer coach
•Sam Flora, athletic director
•George Gabriel, superintendent
•Billy Humphrey, assistant coach
•Larry Kelly, ninth-grade head coach
•Matt Kennedy, varsity manager
•Mark Kirkwood, son of the board president, scorekeeper for individual points and fouls (paid for by Sam Flora)
•Ralph Litrenta, scouting director
•Rich Litrenta, principal
•Jesse Moss, seventh-grade coach, varsity statistician
•Bob Natale, seventh-grade coach, statistician
•Chris Panella, strength and conditioning coach
•Bob Pia, public address announcer (paid for by Sam Flora)
•Randy Raeburn, trainer
•Dave Richards, assistant coach
•Greg Rosatelli, ninth-grade volunteer coach
•Anthony Thomas, scorekeeper.