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MONMOUTH STREET’S EARLY START ON ’08

Img_1097Charlotte Scherer, left, and Ambra Talarico prepare to load a painting from Art Forms into a car.

It was late on a chilly, gray, drizzly Sunday afternoon, a quiet time on the eve of New Year’s Eve.

But three Monmouth Street stores were buzzing, as their owners sought to get a jump on big changes for 2008.

Charlotte Scherer was moving out, shutting down her Art Forms gallery after 24 years in town. redbankgreen scoop: Another gallery is taking over the space. The Asher Nieman Gallery, owned by Scherer’s soon-to-be stepaughter, Emily Asher Nieman, is slated to open Feb. 1, Scherer tells us.

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MENNA CUTTING FOUR FROM PENSION ROLLS

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All the same professionals hired by Red Bank last year will likely be reappointed when the borough government reorganizes tomorrow, says Mayor Pasquale Menna.

But four of them currently participating in the state Public Employee Retirement System through the borough will no longer be covered, Menna tells redbankgreen.

The four are municipal prosecutor James Butler; Public Defender Kevin Wigenton; Planning Board attorney Michael Leckstein; and Zoning Board attorney Kevin Kennedy.

“They will no longer be employees,” Menna says.

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SLEDGER CRITIC: ‘NEPTUNE CITY’ IN TOP 10

Atkins_121107Nicole Atkins and the Sea at Jack’s Music earlier this month.

Among rising global acts such as Arcade Fire and Amy Winehouse, Neptune singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins finds her major-label debut LP “Neptune City” in the top 10 of the year as chosen by pop music critic Jay Lustig of the Star-Ledger.

Not making the list: old warhorse and stay-at-home dad Bruce Springsteen, whose record “Magic” was only good enough for an honorable mention. Which is saying something, given the way the Sledger drools over his every move.

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SEA BRIGHT LANDS SKATEPARK DOUGH

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Sea Bright’s proposed oceanfront skatepark caught some air earlier this month, when Monmouth County came through with a $153,000 open space grant.

Now, says Mayor-elect Maria Fernandes, comes the trick of raising the remaining $214,000 in estimated costs and clearing whatever obstacles the state Department of Environmental Protection might throw up as part of its coastal permitting process.

The borough was one of 11 towns awarded a total $2 million in the latest annual round of Monmouth County Open Space grants. Nine more towns had proposals rejected, including Fair Haven, which sought $250,000 for the cost of new ballfields, lighting and other improvements at Fair Haven Fields.

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BURGLARY SUSPECT ARRESTED, OUT ON BAIL

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A suspect whose escape in the Dec. 10 burglary of a Catherine Street home was said to be witnessed by neighbors has been arrested, according to police Capt. Steve McCarthy, head of the detective bureau.

Milo Rainey, 28, who police said lives in both Red Bank and Keansburg, was arrested by Red Bank Ptl. Juan Sardo on Dec. 20 and charged with burglary, theft and criminal mischief.

Municipal Court Judge William Himelman set bail at $55,000, and Rainey was released on bond the same day, McCarthy said.

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COMING SOON: OPERATION GOLDFISH

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The place is something of a mess, frankly. Puddles. Dust. Display cases out of place.

But that’s what you get when you dismantle a business that’s home to tons of bagged pet food, dozens of rabbits and other mammals and hundreds of pretty little fish.

And do it while still catering to customers, at a busy time of the year.

Soon though, with luck, the disruption will all be a memory. Fins and Feathers owner Helen Davis is determined, come hell or unfiltered water, to move her entire store in one or two breathless days this weekend and start settling into a new space at 134 Monmouth Street.

It’s a big job. So big that longtime customers and friends are asking what they can do to help.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

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Sometimes, Mrs. redbankgreenman stumps redbankgreenman with the photos she brings back from her ‘Where’ scouting expeditions. That was the case with last week’s entry.

Cathi Swett, though, knew it right off.

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STILL FIGHTING FIRES AFTER 57 YEARS

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Frank Sole has been a member of the Red Bank Independent Engine Company 93 for 57 years, and still responds to up to three-quarters of the alarms each year from his home in the River Plaza section of Middletown.

Today’s Asbury Park Press has a nice piece about Sole.

Each time Sole hears the fire horn blare or his pager emits a beep alerting him to a possible fire, he’s out the door and on the go.

“I try to make every call, if I can,” said Sole, 79, who recently received the Red Bank Firefighter of the Year award during a special ceremony at the Shadowbrook Inn in Shrewsbury.

And:

Except for a stint in the U.S. Army when he served in Korea (1950-1952) during the war, Sole has been a mainstay at Company 93.

Sole knew from the time he was a boy that he wanted to be a firefighter. His aunt would take him to visit some of the firehouses in Brooklyn, N.Y. If he was lucky enough, he got to slide down the fire pole.

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HOVNANIAN: NOT YET THAT SUNK

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Today’s Star-Ledger takes a look at the “dismal” year that Red Bank-based Hovnanian Enterprises has had. And the coming year doesn’t look at lot brighter.

But to make that point, the page-one story kicks off with an an anecdote that appears to confuse, or perhaps conflate, members of the Hovnanian family:

The Hovnanians have been building homes in New Jersey for almost a half-century, but the measure of their success was never more indelibly stamped than in a 1992 mishap, when the family’s 123-foot yacht sank off Cape May.

Outfitted with teak paneling, gold-plated fixtures and other luxuries, the $10 million sport-fishing boat seemed more worthy of an oil sheik than crafters of humble condos.

In the years since, Hovnanian Enterprises has grown into the nation’s sixth-largest homebuilder, snapping up smaller businesses and expanding into a total of 19 states. Riding the great housing boom of the past decade, the company built developments as fast as it could, with homebuyers queuing up overnight to sign sales contracts like groupies camping out for Hannah Montana tickets.

The credit crunch and a glut of unsold homes has put an end to those glory days, however. And this time, it’s the Red Bank company itself that’s taking on water.

But the yacht belonged to Hirair Hovnanian, a brother of the man who founded and controlled Hovnanian Enterprises.

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HOLIDAY INSTANT MESSAGE

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TOWN NEWS, WITH A BIT OF CHEESE

Samantha_lee_2_1207Samantha ‘Sam’ Lee at Fair Haven borough hall

By LINDA G. RASTELLI

Samantha ‘Sam’ Lee knows from customer service. She’s tended the fresh farmhouse cheeses at London luxury purveyor Harrods and assembled gift baskets at Sickles Market.

But if Fair Haven residents have recently noticed that their town newsletter is brimming with helpful information and the borough website makes other towns’ sites look like fossils from a predigital age, they may not be aware that it’s Lee who’s behind this transformation.

Lee combines her understanding of customer service and her analytical problem-solving skills — no doubt honed by her two law degrees (one is undergraduate, she patiently explains for those unfamiliar with the British university system) — to municipal government, a place not exactly famous for innovation.

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GIFTING AGAINST THE CLOCK

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It’s crunch time, fellow proscrastinators.

But if the thought of Christmas shopping this weekend leaves you looking a little like Tootsie and Twinkle here, don’t despair. A quick spin through downtown Red Bank is all it takes to start you checking names off your holiday gift lists.

redbankgreen was able to assemble this assortment of affordable gifts in less than hour; the last suggestion below didn’t even require us to step away from our keyboard. All it takes is a little hustle, an open mind, and a little bit of green.

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RUMSON DOC FACES POSSIBLE DISCIPLINE

A Rumson physician who was indicted in October on federal drug charges is facing a possible loss of his medical license, the Asbury Park Press reports today.

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The New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners took up the administrative case of Dr. Philip Eatough in Newark yesterday and adjourned without announcing a decision, the Press says.

Separately, Eatough faces criminal charges of possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute and related counts following a six-year investigation into a pain management practice he ran in Keansburg.

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PERSEPOLIS: THE WORLD IN BLACK & WHITE

Persepolis1

“Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novel:” the phrase itself is loaded with the suggestion of graphite.

So it’s fitting that “Persepolis” the new film version of Satrapi’s bestselling story, is also almost entirely in black & white, exploring as it does the absolutes of regimes, both political and religious.

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DELAY FRUSTRATES ANSORGE JUDGE

Re Bank Municipal Court Judge William Himelman expressed frustration this morning over delays concerning evidence in the DWI case of local publisher Claudia Ansorge.

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“It’s now too long” since a Monmouth County Grand Jury decided not to indict Ansorge last April in the 2006 death of pedestrian Robert Lisowsky and kicked the matter back to the borough court for adjudication of a drunk-driving charge, Himelman said. “I want this case to get tried.”

At issue is printed documentation of a State Police analysis of a blood sample given by Ansorge following her arrest. Borough Prosecutor James Butler told the judge he has asked the State Police to put a rush on the request, but that it could take another 30 days.

Himelman gave Butler 45 days to obtain and turn over the documents to the defense. If it doesn’t happen, Himelman said, he may disallow the analysis as evidence.

“If it’s not received in 45, I’d seriously consider not allowing the reading” in as trial evidence, Himelman said.

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