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REPORTS: RABNER TO REPLACE ZAZZALI

As was widely expected, Gov. Jon Corzine will nominate state Attorney General Stuart Rabner to succeed retiring Supreme Court Chief Justice James Zazzali on Monday, according to the Star-Ledger

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The newspaper cites three officials familiar with Corzine’s plans as the sources for the story.

The Asbury Park Press has an Associated Press story that also identifies Rabner as Corzine’s choice, citing one unnamed source.

By law, Zazzali, of Rumson, must step down upon turning 70 years old. His 70th birthday is June 17.

Rabner is just 46, which could mean that Corzine’s impact on the character of the could last a generation or more.

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BEST LIQUORS CASE TO RESUME

The Red Bank Borough Council has set June 14 as the resumption date of its hearing in the Best Liquors license matter.

The hearing, a special session of the council, will begin at 5p.

Borough Attorney Tom Hall, who is prosecuting the case, tells redbankgreen he expects that the hearing will conclude that night.

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NOT-A-COYOTE KILLED NOT-A-CHIHUAHUA

That report from earlier this week of pet Chihuahua named Lola in Middletown having been run down and killed by coyotes appears to have had some errors, the Star-Ledger says today.

The dog was not a Chihuahua but a fox terrier. And going by the paw prints at the scene, the killer was probably not a coyote, but more likely another dog.

The victim was named Lola, though.

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LITTLE SILVER SPELLER TO REST A SPELL

Fourteen-year-old Little Silver resident Robert Hale, who made it to the fourth round of the 2007 Scripps National Spelling Bee before tripping up yesterday, is a bit relieved to now have that dictionary off his back, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

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“I’m looking forward to not have a burden on my shoulders,” the Markham Place School eighth-grader told the paper, which sponsored his appearance. “I’m glad it’s over. It’s been stressful these past couple of months.”

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

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Bob Colmorgen did it again, identifying last week’s shot as a boarded-up door at the former Anderson Brothers cold-storage warehouse at Monmouth Street and Bridge Avenue.

Bob, a longtime Red Bank fireman in who continues to volunteer though he now lives in Eatontown, explains that the ‘F.O.’ on the sign alerts emergency responders to the presence of a floor opening they should look out for, lest they fall through.

With his answer, Bob wraps up Year One of Where Have I Seen This? which debuted with redbankgreen on June 1, 2006. And for the seventh time in the past 11 weeks, we’ve got one of the three Colmorgen siblings in the winners circle.

They know their home turf well, those Colmorgen kids.

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A CFO THEY’D LOVE, IF ONLY HE’D LET THEM

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Usually, when a chief financial officer is in the news, you’re talking crisis.

Think Enron. Think WorldCom. Think Borough of Red Bank last August.

That’s when things kind of blew up at Borough Hall, with the disclosure that freshly-resigned CFO Terrence Whalen hadn’t exactly been running the tightest ship, in bookkeeping terms.

No fraud was ever alleged. But checks were being deposited into the wrong accounts, according to outside auditor David Kaplan. Accounts weren’t being balanced. Refunds from developers’ escrow accounts were being made in duplicate.

The fallout from the sloppiness was real, as borough taxpayers took a hit in the form of a four-cents-per-$100 of property value tax increase for 2006-2007, all of it attributable to poor recordkeeping, officials said.

There was political fallout, too. Then-Mayor Ed McKenna blamed Councilman John Curley, who was head of the council’s finance committee, for failure to keep an eye on Whalen’s operation. McKenna bounced Curley from the high-profile assignment, and in a heated exchange, Curley uttered his infamous Why don’t you just take me down to Broad Street and hang me? retort. It all became fodder for last year’s mayoral race, which Curley lost to now-Mayor Pasquale Menna.

Well, what a different story 10 months can make, as evidence by the lovefest that erupted at last night’s council meeting for new CFO Frank Mason and his five-person crew of green eyeshades.

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IN THE HOUSE: A NEW PATH FOR FRESHMEN

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI

Being a freshman is hard, says Red Bank Regional ninth-grader Jamar Berry.

Coming from the cozy confines of the Red Bank Charter School, “it took me a long while to adapt,” Berry says. “I’m doing good now, but just getting to classes on time was difficult because the building is so big.”

That sense of challenge, of course, is often not limited to the scale of one’s surroundings. Freshmen can feel lost in a much larger pool of students than they’re used to, and overwhelmed by higher academic expectations and heavier workloads.

“High school students actually make the decision how the rest of their high school career is going to go, according to research, in the ninth grade,” says RBR principal Jim Stefankiewicz, himself finishing out his first year at the school’s helm.

“It’s their first impression of high school. For those who drop out, if they don’t physically drop out by the end of ninth grade, they’ve mentally done it.”

That makes freshman year the most important in terms of retention, and it’s the reason that RBR will institute a new “freshman academy” beginning in September, Stefankiewicz says.

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SLOW DOWN THERE, BENNY

After a five-day grace period, Sea Bright police have begun ticketing motorists for exceeding new speed limits just north and south of the downtown, the Asbury Park Press reports.

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From the story:

Police today issued 10 speeding tickets during the first six hours of a enforcement campaign meant to compel drivers to follow a newly initiated summertime speed limit on the main thoroughfare here, Ocean Avenue (Route 36).

Signs with the new 35 mph speed limit were posted Thursday north and south of downtown, but the grace period ended 6 a.m. this morning when two officers were tasked with the sole assignment of catching the heavy-footed, Chief William S. Moore said.

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COYOTES ATTACK AND KILL DOG

A pet Chihuahua was chased down and killed by coyotes early this morning in Middletown, according to a report today by the Asbury Park Press.

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In the continuing drama over the wild canines, Middletown authorities said at least two canines were involved in chasing the pet, named Lola, down the street after her unsuspecting owners let her out at about 4:15a.

The township’s website carries this notice today:

On May 29th at 4:15 AM (2) coyotes attacked and killed a small-unattended dog on Highland Ave. Leonardo. The coyotes last seen running up Highland Ave. toward Atlantic Highlands. Residents are reminded not to allow or leave small children and pet’s outdoors without supervision.

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NO ‘POLITICS’ AS MARINES HEAD TO WAR

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At yesterday’s Memorial Day send-off for 87 reservists attached to the Red Bank headquarters of the 6th Motor Transport Battallion, there was little talk of recent polls showing that Americans have soured on the Iraq war.

Nor was there much discussion inside the black palisade fence at Newman Springs and Half Mile roads of the rising sect-against-sect violence, or the terrorism directed at coalition soldiers and American personnel on the ground in Iraq, or the effectiveness of the new Iraqi government in assuming control of its own country.

Those topics were set aside as “politics,” something to be avoided in general, but particularly on this day.

While two gleaming tour buses idled amid the seven-ton green trucks built to haul ammunition and food to the front lines of conflict, the talk among the men and women in sand-colored fatigues was of bringing their fellow soldiers through safely.

The talk among the families and friends seeing the Marines off was of having their own return unscathed eight or ten months hence.

“They can have him as long as they bring him back home alive,” said Maggie Walling of Tinton Falls, referring to her son Tim, a 2005 graduate of Red Bank Regional High School. She said she and her son had “stayed up all night” savoring their time together.

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THE ‘ENERGIZER BUNNY’ OF PRESERVATION

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Considering its dire implications, the news earlier this month that a Red Bank house had been had been designated one of New Jersey’s 10 most endangered historic sites was oddly encouraging to a near-octagenarian with a weatherbeaten voice and fu manchu straight out of the ’60s.

Oddly, that is, because inclusion on the list put together by Preservation New Jersey provides no guarantees that the house will be saved. It offers no legal leverage against a present or future owner who might decide to knock the house down. There’s no money in it, either.

In sum, the appellation is as toothless as a newborn.

Yet George Bowden was ecstatic. He’d known that the house, once the home of pioneering African-American newspaperman T. (Timothy) Thomas Fortune, might land on the list, but asked that that not be publicized until it was official, after which “we can blow it sky high,” he told redbankgreen with characteristic enthusiasm.

Once it was announced, Bowden started making plans to leverage the endorsement of historians across the state. He began planning outreach to community groups, leaders of African-American congregations — he’s even reached out to Oprah. Whatever it takes to get the word out.

“You can try to prevent it through the press, or local support,” he says, “but there’s no legal groundwork for preventing demolition.”

“He’s like the Energizer bunny,” says Ed Zipprich, a candidate for council this year who serves on the borough’s Historical Preservation Commission that Bowden heads.

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ON FIRM FOOTING IN THE BURBS

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI

What’s a Doc Martens lover to do when he can’t find the styles of the British brand that he wants in the United States?

Readers of a certain generation or two may recognize the name. Before they were embraced by the pierced, pale, punk-rock set as well as skinheads in the mid-’70s, Dr. Martens was the industrial shoe brand of choice for Great Britain’s postal workers and policemen. They bought the footwear with the trademark yellow stitching (done with fishing line) for its practicality and durability, not urban cachet.

In America, Docs enjoyed a heady post-punk sales surge in the early 1990s. But the company that made them didn’t have a dedicated store Stateside, leaving devotees increasing unshod when the brand retreated from fashionability.

Dean Ross was among the sole-shattered. Raised by an English-born mother, he always “loaded up on Docs for the girls” when traveling in the U.K. after he’d married and become the father of three, he says.

Then, seven years, ago, sensing a business opportunity and tired of working in the Bagel Oven store that he still co-owns on Monmouth Street in Red Bank, Ross opened the Doc Shoppe, the first dedicated Doc Martens retailer in the United States.

In Fair Haven, no less — a smokestack-free bedroom community that’s more Sinatra than Sex Pistols and light years away from London’s East End or New York’s Lower East Side, for that matter.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

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Reader David Wilson was the first to identify last week’s image: a statue at the entrance to Parker-Sickles Park in Little Silver.

Bob Colmorgen got it, also. On a hunch, enroute from the family homestead to his residence in Eatontown, Bob took a detour out Rumson Road to confirm the location.

OK, so we rotated the image off its normal axis (see below). It just looked better that way, and made us feel like we were viewing the statue while leaning back in a high-swooping swing. Must be the season.

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‘TIDYING UP’ TURNS TO TEARDOWN

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Honestly, who among us hasn’t embarked on a simple housekeeping task and somehow gotten detoured into a project involving busted sheetrock and mouthfuls of gypsum dust?

Maybe that’s what happened to Ray Rapcavage.

Last week, the president of Ray Rap Realty on Mechanic Street told redbankgreen he had no plans for the long-vacant gas station on Harding Road in Red Bank, just a block east of Broad Street.

At the time, the canopy above the pump island had been removed, the two-bay garage structure had been sheared of its skin, and a tall fence had been erected around the property. But nothing special was happening, Rapcavage said via email.

“There are no plans at this time other than to tidy the site up and keep away tresspassers,” Rapcavage said.

But over the past weekend, heavy equipment could be seen digging large trenches in the ground from which tanks had long been removed, according to borough records.

And by late Tuesday, the building had been reduced to a pile of rubble.

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PRESS: COYOTE KILLED, OTHERS ON THE RUN

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Middletown police, on the hunt for a coyote that attacked a 5-year-old boy Monday night, shot and killed one coyote before dawn today and have spotted four others, the Asbury Park Press is reporting.

From the story:

Officer Christian Clark killed the female coyote around 4:15 a.m. this morning, said Township Administrator Robert M. Czech.

Clark used his sidearm, a 40 -caliber semiautomatic gun, to kill the animal between the Naval Weapons Station Earle fence and the Henry Hudson trail, about 500 feet west of the entrance to the Navy property, said Czech.

He said authorities believe it took about four shots before the animal stopped moving.

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SUMMER REC SIGN-UPS DROP

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About 140 parents and children turned out at the Red Bank Middle School yesterday to sign up for a host of summer activities, from canoeing to soccer, at an event modeled after a trade show. The kids had a blast, throwing themselves into an unstructured soccer game outside.

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But David Prown, who organized the fourth annual event with Ann Cibbatoni, said the turnout was down 18 percent from last year. Participating organizations will meet Thursday night to discuss how to get the numbers back up next year.

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AFTER FOUR HOURS, SHARMA’S BACK ON ICE

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By Linda G. Rastelli
In a hearing characterized by polite sparring between lawyers, the Red Bank borough council sat through nearly four hours of testimony in the case against Sunny Sharma and Best Liquors without a decision Tuesday night.

No date was set for a resumption of the hearing, in which the council is sitting in judgment. Mayor Pasquale Menna said he hoped the next installment could be scheduled within 30 days.

Testimony was taken from four witnesses for the borough: a 20-year old Middletown woman who was arrested for illegally buying beer from Best Liquors last year and three police officers involved in arrests or investigations centering on the store at Leighton Avenue and Catherine Street.

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NEIGHBORS BALK AT FIELDS WORK

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By Linda G. Rastelli
Residents who live near Fair Haven Fields complained last night to the Fair Haven borough council about the likelihood of increased traffic through a quiet neighborhood resulting from work now underway at the recreation site.

Also on their list of gripes: construction noise and ugly parking-lot lighting fixtures.

“Do we need additional fields? What was the problem with parking before?” Ken Laughinghouse of Dartmouth Avenue asked. Besides, he said, the plan now being put into effect “looks like crap. It’s taking away from the character of the town.”

Kim Brown of Gentry Drive said she was worried about teenagers speeding through her neighborhood. Stuart Tartarone, also of Gentry Drive, called the fields “an accident waiting to happen.”

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REPORT: BEACHES SHIPSHAPE FOR SUMMER

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Another mild winter in coastal terms left New Jersey’s 127 miles of beaches pretty much intact this year, a co-author of the 2007 State of the Shore Report told a gathering at Sandy Hook yesterday, according to the Asbury Park Press and the Star-Ledger.

“Our beaches received a nice respite” from November until mid-February, said Jon Miller, research assistant professor at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, told the Press.

From the Ledger:

Though the report is based on scientific studies and analyses conducted by Stevens through the consortium, with little bad news to pass on these past two years, the findings also have become somewhat of a pep rally for the state.

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SECOND CHILD ATTACKED BY COYOTE

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Middletown authorities reported a second recent attack on a child by a coyote last night, according to stories in today’s Star-Ledger and Asbury Park Press.

According to the Ledger, the police fired one shot at an animal spotted nearby shortly afterward, but don’t know if it was hit.

The Press says the five-year-old child was attacked on Hopi Court while walking in the street with a sibling at about 8:30p. The Ledger says the attack occurred outside the boy’s Pomo Court home, and that the animal was scared off by the screams of the boy’s 8-year-old sister.

The unidentified victim was taken to Riverview Medical Center for treatment of bites and scratches on his face and head, and will be given preventive rabies shots, according to the Ledger.

On April 6, a 22-month-old boy who lived just one-eighth of a mile away from Monday’s attack was grabbed in his family’s yard by a coyote that attempted to drag him off into nearby woods. The animal, which was believed to be accompanied by one or two other coyotes, was also scared off by an onlooker’s screams.

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NO IMPACT ON PATIENTS, RIVERVIEW SAYS

Img_0787Hospital staff and emergency personnel outside the Blaisdell Pavilion during this morning’s fire.

Riverview Medical Center spokeswoman Donna Sellmann tells redbankgreen that this morning’s fire had no impact internally.

“At no times were patients affected,” she said. “They’re safety was not compromised.”

Several staffers and emergency responders were treated for smoke inhalation and released, she said.

Red Bank Fire Marshal Stanley Sickels was traveling this morning and not immediately available for comment on the fire.

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FIRE AT RIVERVIEW EXTINGUISHED

Img_0811_2The scene outside the Blaisdell Pavilion early this morning.

Emergency personnel and equipment swarmed Riverview Medical Center early this morning in response to a midnight fire in the hospital’s basement.

The fire was was extinguished within an hour without any apparent injuries, though individuals believed to be among the emergency responders were seen taking oxygen in an ambulance outside the hospital.

Patient care was believed to have been little affected, though fire and hospital officials were not immediately available to provide details.

An unconfirmed report indicated that the fire was started in a light fixture in the basement of the Blaisdell Pavilion, at the eastern end of the East Front Street institution.

No flames or smoke was visible from outside the hospital. Most of the fifth-floor lights of the Blaisdell wing were off throughout the response, though there were no immediate indications if that was related to the fire.

Hospital service workers David Johnson and Iris Rodriguez said they were working in the sub-basement linen operation when the alarm went off. The exited by the stairs, and found the basement level filled with a fog-like smoke, they said.

Security personnel were on the scene and directed them to leave the building, said Rodriguez.

“They were holding cloths over their faces,” said Johnson. “That’s how thick it was.”

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RUMSON FATCATS STRAIN JUDGE’S PATIENCE

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The pissing match between Wall Street millionaires Pete Dawkins and Mickey Gooch gobbled up another three hours of valuable Monmouth County court time yesterday, according to today’s Asbury Park Press.

And if the judge was amused, it was largely because of the way lawyers for the two Rumsonites “strained credulity” with their arguments, the Press reports.

Dawkins, vice chairman of a unit of Citigroup, former Heisman trophy winner (1958) and onetime U.S. Senate candidate, wants to build a 2,750-square-foot caretaker’s cottage on his Navesink River estate.

Next-door to Dawkins is Gooch, majority owner of an inscrutable Wall Street firm and author of a charmingly inane column in the weekly Two River Times, which he owns with his wife, Diane. (This week’s clunker is about the “tremendous success” of a fundaiser for the Count Basie Theatre at which the main honoree was none other than Diane Gooch.)

Gooch objects to the Dawkins plan because it would increase the size of an existing cottage by fifty percent, and would result in a “monstrosity” of a stucture (the Press’ word) a mere 205 feet from the property line dividing the two River Road fiefdoms.

The dispute, almost two years old, is now in the hands of Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Alexander Lehrer. Yesterday, according to the Press, Lehrer could barely contain his sense of the ridiculousness of some of the arguments.

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