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MIDDLETOWN: A RETRO CHINESE NEW YEAR

020216houseofchong6Shrimp lo mein, left, and shrimp in garlic sauce at House of  Chong. Edward Chong, below.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

020216houseofchong1Chinese new year begins Monday, and diners with a yen for a little time travel along with well-made Asian cuisine might set their GPS for House of Chong in Middletown.

The restaurant, located in the Union Square Mall, has been serving Cantonese and Szechuan-style Chinese delicacies since 1976, owner Edward Chong tells us. His parents first opened House of Chong in Brick in 1969, and though that restaurant is now closed, the Middletown eatery remains a family affair — and something of throwback.

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RED BANK: DISTRICT KEEPS PRESSURE ON PLAN

jared rumage 082814Red Bank Superintendent Jared Rumage, above, said PARCC test results show that students gain skills as they progress through the middle school. Below, charter school Principal Meredith Pennotti at the forum her school hosted Tuesday. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

meredith pennotti 020216Twists in the proposed Red Bank Charter School expansion saga in recent days have prompted the borough school district to dial up its attack on the plan.

District Superintendent Jared Rumage said a change in the timeline of the plan’s proposed rollout “amplifies [the] disconnect” between the charter school and the community.

In addition, academic test data released this week shows that district eighth-graders are not only competitive with those at the charter school, but outscored them, he said.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SMOOTHIE IN A BOWL

020316freshica4The Acai PB&J bowl from Freshica’s Juice Bar, owned by Jessica Dalmedo, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

020316freshica3It might seem counter-intuitive to put a juice bar in the same building as a luncheonette known for its porkroll, egg, and cheese sandwiches, but Jessica Dalmedo, owner of Freshica’s Juice Bar says it works.

Sharing space with Fairwinds Deli on River Road in Fair Haven for almost four years, Freshica’s counter takes up a portion of the dining area. At lunchtime, you’re likely to see a construction worker downing a sub as you are a gray-flannel suit or someone coming from the gym. Less expected: the number of children from the preschool next door taking sippy-cup-sized swigs of kale- and spinach-infused juices.

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ON THE GREEN: A WET, SLUSHY BLANKET

rb snow 020516 2rb snow 020516 4A soggy blanket of snow on the Greater Red Bank Green made for a pretty scene at the Red Bank train station, above, and some slushy stepping on Chestnut Street Friday morning, right. It also triggered a snow day for many area students, including those at the Red Bank district and charter schools.

The National Weather Service forecasts the snowfall will taper off around 10 a.m., leaving two-to-four inches, as temperatures settle into the mid-30s.  (Photos by Trish Russoniello. Click to enlarge)

MIDDLETOWN: SOMETHING’S NOT NORMYLE

Bill Normyle Anna Cibrian Bad SeedThe creepy janitor (Bill Normyle) has a proposition for sweet and innocent Rhoda (Anna Cibrian) as the Monmouth Players present the 1950’s suspenser ‘The Bad Seed,’ starting Saturday at Navesink Arts.

Following a December detour into holiday-themed comedy, the Monmouth Players resume their 2015-’16 “Season of Suspense” in signature style this Saturday with the first of eight performances of a drama that thrilled Broadway audiences more than 60 years ago — right around the time that the players were beginning their incredible run as the area’s longest continuously operating theatrical troupe.

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ON THE GREEN: KEEP THOSE SHOVELS HANDY

blizzard 012416 8snowforecast 020416 copyTwo weeks after a blizzard dropped two feet of snow on the Greater Red Bank Green, the powder is likely to return Friday.

The National Weather Service has issued an advisory that warns over rain turning to snow around 1 a.m. and continuing until about noontime, with accumulations of up to four inches forecast in our area. Meantime, impacts on rush hour commutes are expected.  (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: HE’S LIVE, JIM!

Shatners_World-770-525x306Pop-cultural icon comes to the stage of the Count Basie Theatre this Friday night. 

Unlike the planet-dominating Skynet of the Terminator movies, it’s unclear as to exactly when William Shatner became self-aware. But from the moment it happened, this world has not been the same. And for about 90 minutes Friday night, the Red Bank area audience will be offered an opportunity to plug into the old-soul consciousness and galaxy-spanning ego that lords over Shatner’s World.

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RFH GRID STARS CHOOSE COLLEGES

Three members of the state champion Rumson-Fair Haven Regional football team made their college commitments official at a signing-day event in Rumson Wednesday. Shore Sports Zone was there to speak with the players.

RBR TRIO SIGNS FOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL

After a coaching change at Syracuse University, Red Bank Regional standout receiver Sadiq Palmer reassessed his offers to play college football. He was one of three members of the Buc team that had its best season in a generation to sign for college play on Wednesday. Shore Sports Zone was there to talk to the scholar-athletes about their futures.

RED BANK: A LITTLE BOOK-LABELING PARTY

leighton lib 110915 2leighton lib 110915 1Kate Triggiano, who had a custom-built “little library” built and installed outside her Red Bank home for neighborhood kids last October, plans a book labeling party Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m.

The aim of the event, to be held at Kitch Organic restaurant at 75 Leighton Avenue, is to apply labels to dozens of books donated to the library’s wish list on Amazon, Triggiano said. Participants are asked to bring scissors; kids are welcome if  they’re old enough to help.

Why label? “Because we respect the kids and trust them,” said Triggiano. “Because they cost nice people money. And because we don’t want someone taking them and selling them.”

Dubbed the Little Library on Leighton, the mahogany receptacle, built by custom woodworker David Halbout of Middletown, is in front of Triggiano’s home at 22 Leighton, and features children’s and young-adult literature.  (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: A LAST CALL FOR ‘REASON’

Lives of Reason TRTC 1-16 063 Lives of Reason, by Robert Rechnitz and Kenneth Stunkel, directed by Jonathan Fox at Two River Theatre Company 1/7/16 Costume Design: Karen Perry Lighting Design: Gina Scherr Set Design: Charlie Corcoran © T Charles Erickson Photography tcepix@comcast.net

Ilona (Mairin Lee) is the center of attention, as the Two River Theater original LIVES OF REASON (above) enters its final round of performances…while Monmouth U’s Frank P. Fury (below) inaugurates a new series of Conversation + Play events at Two River. (Top photo by T. Charles Erickson)

FuryAlthough its authors — longtime Monmouth University English professor Robert Rechnitz, and veteran Dean/ History prof Kenneth Stunkel — have waved away any direct connection to their former place of employment or co-workers, the unmistakable flavor of a life spent in academia permeates Lives of Reason, the original ensemble drama that represents the maiden collaboration for its two octogenarian playwrights.

Even as Lives enters into the final eight performances (today through Sunday, February 7) of its limited engagement at Two River Theater, the venue re-establishes that Monmouth U connection with the help of the organization known as The Navesink, whose TEDxNavesink events used the Bridge Avenue arts center for its sold-out 2014 session (and who since relocated to, you guessed it, the Monmouth campus). Thursday, February 4 marks the first in a three-part series of Conversation + Play “salons” that pair an 8 pm performance of Two River’s current mainstage production with a special pre-show lecture — in this case the young MU faculty member and literature specialist Frank P. Fury, Ph.D.

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FAIR HAVEN: POLICE REPORTS

Crime and arrest reports, unedited, as provided by the Fair Haven Police Department for the month of January, 2016.

AUTHORITIES_FH-2016-v3Fair Haven Police Blotter January 2016

• 1/1/16- Patrol was dispatched to a Hance Road address for reported property damage. Ptl. William Lagrotteria took the report.

• 1/1/16- Patrol was dispatched to a Fair Haven business for vehicle damage by valet staff. Ptl. Eric Patton took the report.

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LITTLE SILVER: COP’S CONVICTION UPHELD

By JOHN T. WARD

steven solariA former Little Silver police officer now serving time for an attack on a handcuffed man in the borough police station did not get an unfair sentence, a New Jersey appeals court panel ruled Tuesday.

Steven Solari , 42, right, was sentenced to five years in prison in 2014  and ordered to forfeit his $91,000-a-year job and any future prospect for public employment after his conviction on four counts of official misconduct, simple assault and witness tampering.

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