ANOTHER TRY AT TRIAL OF THE CENTURY

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After six months of delays, the Borough of Red Bank’s administrative law case against Best Liquors will finally happen next Tuesday.

That’s the plan, at least.

At stake for Best Liquors owner Sunny Sharma is his ability to sell beer, wine and liquor at the corner of Leighton Avenue and Catherine Street.

For his residential neighbors, what’s at stake is their ability to get a good night’s sleep and to wake up knowing that tiny airline-style liquor bottles haven’t rained down on their lawns and sidewalks.

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NEW WATER MAINS TO THE RESCUE

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A solution to water pressure problems afflicting homes and businesses on the eastern edge of Red Bank and a portion of western Fair Haven is now in the pipeline.

The Red Bank borough council introduced a bonding ordinance Wednesday night that calls for the issuance of $1.14 million in debt to pay for new water mains and other system improvements.

Under arrangements that are nearly a century old, Red Bank supplies water to 170 properties in Fair Haven through mains that in some cases are four inches in diameter, half the size they should be by modern standards. They also feed into six-inch pipes, which dramatically lowers the pressure as it passes into that portion of the distribution system.

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MERCHANTS AND MAYOR TEE UP LOITERERS

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Mayor Pasquale Menna lashed out last night at “little juveniles” from out of town whom he blames for recently grafitti-bombing the public library and loitering in front of stores near West Front Street and Maple Avenue.

His remarks came amid a series of complaints by merchants at last night’s borough council meeting that packs of young people are hanging out in front of stores and damaging property, particularly at the City Centre Plaza shopping center, the 7-11 and the parking lot next to the Commerce Bank.

“These are not our kids,” Menna said. “These are the rich kids from other towns.”

Not so, said Mark Harry, whose wife runs a hair salon at City Centre, where he said employees have been harassed by loiterers, including at least one incident in which a young adult sought to exchange sex for cash.

“Some of those kids wear Red Bank Regional jackets,” Harry said. “Don’t tell me it’s not Red Bank.”

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LIBRARY REOPENING? TWO DOORS DOWN

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Last time we checked, the overdue Red Bank Public Library renovations were expected to be completed this month or next, following weather-related delays over the winter.

Last night, the borough council approved the opening of a temporary storefront two doors away, at the corner of West Front Street and Maple Avenue, where library patrons will be able to pick up books they’ve arranged to borrow and ask research questions.

The space is being donated by Hovnanian Enterprises and is expected to be up and running “certainly by a week from tonight,” Mayor Pasquale Menna said.

No mention was made during the council’s session of when the library itself would reopen. It turns out the expectation is now that will occur in July.

And the reason for the delay? It’s what happens when you renovate old buildings, Menna and Council President Sharon Lee said after the meeting.

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ELECTRIC CARS UNPLUGGED, FOR NOW

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Those two new electric cars we told you about last week, the ones Red Bank planned to buy to replace the three-wheeled Cushmans used by parking enforcement?

It turns out they can’t meet the state requirement that they be able to go at least 20 miles per hour.

The cars, which are essentially golf carts, do more like 17, though they can be tweaked to go just above 19 mph, says Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels.

Last night, at Sickels’ urging, the borough council rescinded the resolution authorizing the purchase from golf-cart seller Vic Gerard Golf Cars of two vehicles for $13,750 each.

The request for bids will be tightened up and reopened, borough officials said.

“We’d be breaking the state law by driving them around on borough streets,” said borough attorney Tom Hall.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

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We have a winner, and her last name does not begin with Colmorgen.

Michele Lombard was the first of two Red Bankers to correctly identify last week’s painted smile as the emblem from, well, The Perfect Smile dental practice on Broad Street. Fran Waldman also got it.

Lombard, a former New Yorker who’s been here for the past five years, breaks the chain of five consecutive winning entries from the Colmorgen clan: siblings Bob, Carl and Kathy Lou.

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FORTUNE HOUSE’S GOOD FORTUNE, FOR NOW

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The T. Thomas Fortune House, home to one of America’s first African-American newspaper publishers — and coiner of the term ‘African-American’ — is among New Jersey’s 10 most endangered historic locales, a statewide conservation group said yesterday.

The inclusion of the house by Preservation New Jersey is the latest in a series of designations granted to the structure at 94 Drs. James Parker Boulevard. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and to a comparable New Jersey list three years later.

Still, like the designations that came before it, the latest one conveys no special status should the current or a future owner of the property decide to tear it down. And that possibility has Red Bank history buffs on edge because the house is up for sale by its longtime owners, the Vaccarelli family.

“It doesn’t give us any leverage to stop a demolition,” says George Bowden, chairman of the borough’s Historic Preservation Committee. “But the concern is there. This is one we don’t want to go down the tubes.”

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THIEF WAS VICTIM’S DAUGHTER, COPS SAY

Bail was set at $85,000 yesterday for a 46-year-old Rumson woman arrested on charges of using her 85-year-old mother’s identity to falsely obtain credit cards and loans totaling $110,000, the Asbury Park Press reports.

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Mary E. Kohler faces charges of second-degree theft by deception, third-degree forgery and third-degree identity theft. Among the allegations: that she financed a 2007 Mercedes convertible worth more than $55,000 using her mother’s identity.

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GAS STATION MAKEOVER

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The old canopy’s gone. So is the pump island. The asphalt’s been torn up. The building’s painted metal skin has been peeled off. And a tall fence now surrounds the property. (We got our photo by holding our camera overhead.)

But the structure remains.

What’s going on at the long-dormant gasoline station on Harding Road, a block east of Broad Street?

Not much, says Ray Rapcavage, of Ray Rap Realty on Mechanic Street.

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

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COP: JUDGE’S RULING ‘DISGUSTING’

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Today’s Asbury Park Press has more details about the ruling by Red Bank Municipal Court Judge William Himelman in a case in which a Wall Township police captain was found not guilty yesterday of drunken driving.

The case had been moved to Red Bank from Wall to avoid appearances of conflict of interest.

Himelman found Capt. Bernard Sullivan not guilty despite testimony from the arresting officer, Patrolman Todd Verrecchia, that Sullivan had run a red light, nearly hit another car, was driving on the wrong side of the road and gave a Breathalyzer test that showed his blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit.

Afterward, breaking a gag order imposed on him by his superiors, Verrecchia said the verdict was “the most disgusting and disturbing possible outcome” for the case, according to the Press.

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LATEST IN THE GOOSE WAR: CUTOUT DOGS

Geese_2Canada geese had the run of the fields at Sickles Park in Little Silver in early March.

Columnist Mark Di Ionno of the Star Ledger has a piece today about the use of plywood dog cutouts to keep Canada geese off golf courses and playing fields.

He quotes the groundskeepers of a couple of golf courses who say the silhouette sentries are the most effective method they’ve yet found to scare off the fowl. Among the converts is Matt Dobbie, the course superintendent at Bamm Hollow Country Club in Lincroft.

“You could tell by the droppings that the geese stayed away,” he said. “Wherever there were dogs, we’d see almost none.”

And so the dogs are multiplying, kind of like their nemesis geese. At first, just a couple. Then a couple of dozen. Now hundreds.

Yes, but haven’t we heard this about a dozen times before — that someone has hit on a can’t miss method to keep the geese at bay? Doesn’t it seem that the geese always get wise to our tricks?

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RED BANK JUDGE CLEARS WALL COP

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In a case that was moved to Red Bank Municipal Court to avoid the appearance of partiality, a Wall Township police captain was cleared of a drunken driving charge despite evidence that a Breathalyzer test showed him at twice the legal limit of intoxication.

According to the Asbury Park Press, Judge William Himelman found that the attorney for Capt. Bernard Sullivan had raised enough reasonable doubts to warrant a not-guilty verdict.

From the story:

“This is the first time in five years I have found someone not guilty in a drunk driving case,” Himelman said.

An Associated Press story says Municipal Prosecutor James N. Butler was “incredulous” at the verdict.

From the story:

“I just don’t understand it,” he said Monday afternoon. “Once we get a .19 [blood-alcohol level], how do you just say he’s not guilty? That’s saying you don’t believe the (arresting) police officer.”

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SPARKY, COME HOME!

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Say goodbye to those Cushmans.

Last month, the Red Bank Borough Council authorized the purchase of two Club Car Carryall 2 electric vehicles from golf-cart seller Vic Gerard Golf Cars. They’ll replace a pair of gas-powered Cushman three-wheelers used by Parking Utility enforcers. Price: $13,750 each.

The purchase is part of an effort by elected officials — including last year’s mayoralty rivals Pasquale Menna (who won) and John Curley (who didn’t, but remains on the council) — to begin paring the borough fleet of gas guzzlers and replacing them with energy-efficient vehicles.

While small-scale, it’s a move that reflects what appears to be a big change in the public’s thinking about the environment. In fact, we may be living in history’s ‘greenest’ moment since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.

So here’s a question or two inspired in part by the borough’s purchase: would electric cars make sense on the consumer side as well? Is it too soon to dream of the day that our compact, 1.8-square-mile burg might buzz with quiet, compact, no-emissions cars that their owners plug in at night to recharge?

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RUGGERS PLAY HARD, PARTY HARDER

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Late in the first half of Monmouth Rugby Football Club’s April 28 match against Bayonne at Thompson Park, a Monmouth player slowly righted himself from the turf after taking a hard tackle.

It was a while before he was unsteadily back on his feet. By the time he was, the action in the game had moved nearly to the opposite corner of the pitch. But this guy was going nowhere. Limping along the sideline, he signaled to Monmouth Coach Brian Muller that he needed to come out.

Muller, though, told the player he had no one to sub for him, and turned his attention back to the ongoing action. The player stayed in and shook off his injuries enough to carry on.

Just another day on the pitch in one of the world’s more primitive team sports, a game of tissue-scraping, bone-bruising beauty. And afterward, the ‘lads’ from both squads (you hear the word ‘lads’ a lot at a rugby match, often shouted with an Irish or English accent) went off for a therapeutic pint or two.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

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We had just one response to last week’s picture, and damn if it wasn’t yet another correct one from Carl Colmorgen.

That’s five Colmorgens in a row, for those keeping count.

How is it that a guy can return to Red Bank after living for more than three decades in Florida and seemingly know this place like the back of his hand?

Carl, a school crossing guard who refers to this feature as “Where Am I,” explains in an email how he sussed this one out, at least:

In studying the Where Am I, I was looking down my sister said looking
up. On my way to Broad and Harding, I go down to Marine Park while waiting
to get out of Wharf Ave. what to my wandering eyes should appear but the
GLOBE HOTEL, and I just had to send this in.

The famed Globe Hotel on East Front Street.

Carl Colmorgen

PS:

Not typing in all upper case.

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‘POWERFUL’ DOC CONTINUES SERIES

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The Freedom Film Society screened ‘Deliver Us From Evil‘ for a couple of dozen moviegoers last night as part of a once-a-month series at the Clearview Cinemas on White Street.

The film, an Oscar-nominated documentary by CNN producer Amy Berg, is an up-close look at Fr. Oliver O’Grady, a narcissistic Roman Catholic priest who is believed to have sexually abused hundreds of California children over two decades, and the efforts that church officials took to conceal his crimes.

Yeah, not exactly a popcorn flick.

“We’re interested in powerful, controversial films,” says FFS Chairman Richard Alter. “This one was a difficult choice. But for all the priests who are abusing, thank god there are movies like this.”

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FIRE QUELLED ON WESTSIDE

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Red Bank volunteer firefighters quickly brought a house fire at 31 West Westside Avenue under control shortly after noon today.

There were no injuries. The cause of the blaze is under investigation, says Fire Chief Patrick McSorley.

The house is at the corner of Clinton Place.

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FOREVER YOUNG IN THE SCARLET HALL

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For Tomora Young, assistant director of the Red Bank Parks & Recreation department, the remarkable run of the Rutgers women’s basketball team in the season that wrapped up six weeks ago had a powerful personal dimension to it.

Not only is she a former Scarlet Knights starter; she’d arrived on the New Brunswick hardwood in 1995, at the same time as Coach Vivian Stringer. A 5-foot-10 guard, Young helped the Scarlet Knights earn back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths, including a trip to the Sweet Sixteen in 1998 and the Elite Eight in 1999.

The team’s achievements in those years, Young believes, helped lay the groundwork for its greatest-yet success: this year’s trip to the NCAA championship game, which the Lady Knights lost, 59-46, to Tennessee.

It was against that backdrop that Young collected the latest of many honors bestowed on her for her achievements as a student athlete. On April 29, at a dinner to recognize this year’s team and its first-ever Big East championship, she was inducted into the Rutgers Basketball Hall of Fame.

“It’s an honor for this to happen this year, with all the hard work this team put in,” Young told redbankgreen when we ran into her last week Friday at the Red Bank Middle School career day.

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O’HERN REVIEW CLEARS CORZINE-KATZ

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A two-man state ethics panel headed by former Red Bank Mayor and Associate Supreme Court Justice Daniel O’Hern has ruled that Gov. Jon Corzine’s relationship with ex-girlfriend and labor leader Carla Katz should not have barred him from participating in contract negotiations with the one of the state’s largest public unions earlier this year, the Star-Ledger reports.

In its 37-page report, though, the panel warns that relationships such as Corzine’s and Katz’s “can easily lead to the appearance of conflicting interests” when the principals become involved in matters having to do with the governor’s official duties, the Ledger reports.

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S-L: FUN ‘UNDERPANTS’ NEED CLEANING

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Theater critic Peter Filichia of the Star-Ledger is more tickled by the Two River Theater Co.’s production of ‘The Underpants‘ than he is by some of the choices made by Steve Martin, who adapted the play from ‘Die Hosen,’ a 1910 German work by Carl Sternheim.

Some of Martin’s gaglines don’t hit the mark, Filichia says.

From the review:

No question that he’s cheapened the play by adding references to flatulence, urination, constipation and diarrhea. Some say the greatest sex organ is between the ears. If so, Martin didn’t always use his. What had been a souffle of a play is now a little heavier.

Still, Filichia praises the production as “fun-filled” (while mistakenly referring to the play’s director, Jackson Gay, as “he.”)

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STRAW POLL CRUSHES BRICK WALKWAYS

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An eleventh-hour move by the owners of a handful of properties in the historic downtown district of Fair Haven to opt out of the sidewalk reconstruction project that begins this week failed last night.

Led by attorneys Brooks Van Arx, whose own office is in the district, and Roger Foss, the property owners asked the council for an exemption from a plan to replace all the walkways in the district with a stamped concrete material starting tomorrow. The aim, the lawyers said, was to preserve existing brick sidewalks at no cost to tbe borough.

“We believe it adds an historical flavor,” Von Arx said of the brick along River Road in the vicinity of DeNormandie Place. “It makes a beautiful, beautiful corner for that historic section of Fair Haven, and we think it’s worth preserving.”

But after borough engineer Rich Moralle (that’s him at the easel in the photo) raised issues of cost, timing, contract law and aesthetics, Mayor Mike Halfacre — who opposed the last-minute changes — called for a straw poll of the council that appeared to kill the alterations.

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WALRATH: ‘MY HEAD’S NOT IN IT’

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For the second time in seven years, Fair Haven Councilman Chris Walrath is stepping down, again citing work and family obligations as distractions from his public duty.

“This will be my last council meeting,” Walrath announced at the end of a two-hour council session last night, eliciting gasps from the audience. “My head is not in it right now,” he said.

He apologized for not finishing out his term, which runs through 2008.

Mayor Mike Halfacre said he’d been aware of Walrath’s thinking and had been trying to talk him out of resigining for three months. He praised Walrath’s service.

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