Pine Belt Automotive to Aid Toms RIver School System. No Longer Named the Ritacco Center

Naming agreement will help school district upgrade educational technology

After a tumultuous year for the Toms River School District with events surrounding the investigation and arrest of former Superintendent Michael Ritacco, things are starting to turn around for the district plagued by the fallout from the alleged circumstances of Ritacco’s tenure.    Two weeks ago, the district announced at the monthly school board meeting the naming rights for the Arena that had beared Ritacco’s name, prior to its removal in October of 2010, were sold to regional automotive leaders, Pine Belt.    Today, the district announced the new name of the center will be the Pine Belt Center, replacing the existing contract with Poland Springs.

Pine Belt Auto Group has agreed to pay $100,000.00 per year for the next five years.  Superintendent of Schools Frank Roselli states, “The district is very excited to enter a partnership  for the arena with a business  group who has a proven record of supporting  students, families, and the community for many years.  Pine Belt Auto Group’s purchase of the naming rights will allow us to provide updated technology to our 17,300 students from K-12 on a continuing basis.”

Vice President Rob Sickel of Pine Belt in Lakewood details, “The Pine Belt Auto Group understands that the future of our community is in the schools.  The children that attend Toms River Regional will grow to be the future leaders, business owners, and parents of the Toms River community. We are proud to be the supporters of technology that will allow our students access to new equipment and be able to keep up with technology that is ever changing.”    After initially reporting that no bids were received in a prior RFP, the Pine Belt deal will continue to provide the school district with a source of revenue from the agreement for the next 5 years.

Mike Trebino of Pine Belt in Toms River states, “I have four daughters that have grown up in the digital world.  We at the Pine Belt Auto Group understand how quickly technology changes and the importance of students having the tools and connectivity to access the newest information, software, and computers.  Pine Belt Auto Group values education and the community.  This partnership is a perfect mix of both”.

Frank Roselli continues, “School funding is always a balance of what the student s need and what the taxpayers can afford.  Alternate school funding allows us to keep the tax rate and the  per pupil costs one of the lowest in the K-12 3500+ students category.  We are looking forward to a successful partnership whose main goal is proving technology resources for students.”   The newly-named Pine Belt Arena opened in June of 2003 and has since hosted hundreds of concerts, basketball and wresting championship games, veteran events, student assemblies, intermediate and high school graduations and many different community events. Gym classes are held in the arena during the school year.

Some big names have graced the stage of the arena through the years including The Beach Boys, Kelly Clarkson, Kenny Rogers and The Moody Blues.   The arena is the annual host to the NJSIAA high school basketball and wrestling regional championship matches each spring as well as the popular WOBM season opening basketball tournaments.  It has become the Jersey Shore’s premier high school indoor sports venue since its opening in 2003.

With the past now firmly behind the Ritacco Center and the uncertainty of the sponsorship of the center no longer a concern, District officials are looking forward to the many future opportunities the arena and the new agreement will bring. “We are excited for the opportunities this gives to kids.” said Tammi Millar, the District’s Communications Coordinator.


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