WHITE STREET TREES REPLACED

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A contractor hired by Red Bank planted 15 new trees along White Street Sunday morning, fulfilling a promise by borough Arborist Mike Olimpi to replace nine mature Bradford pear trees that were cut down April 23.

Ten Harvest Gold crabapples had been planned, but the borough managed to get 14, so five new holes were made in the concrete to accomodate them, Olimpi said.

In addition, a London Plane, or sycamore, purchased by Red Bank RiverCenter was planted in front of Hair & Co. just to the east of the parking lot.

Instead of the seven-foot crabapple trees originally expected, the new ones are around 10 feet tall, Olimpi said. They’ll top off at about 20 feet, a safe height even with utility wires overhead.

The Bradfords were removed as a hazard to pedestrians and an overhead alarm wire to the Liberty Hose firehouse. Mature Bradfords have a genetic characteristic that causes their branches to easily break off.

Alluding to comments posted on redbankgreen in which readers expressed concern that the sidewalk and parking lot would now become hazardous field of fallen crabapples, Olimpi reiterated that the fruit of the Harvest Gold does not drop off the tree when it ripens.

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PRIMED PUMPER

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Now-Second Deputy Fire Chief Joe Forgione had just put the license plates on the Liberty Hose Co.’s new pumper last November 7 when, “next thing we knew, the fire call comes in,” he said.

The alarm was for a blaze that heavily damaged a house on South Pearl Street. “Everything worked well, so it’s been tested,” Forgione said of the vehicle.

Today, the 2,000-gallons-per-minute pumper is being formally inaugurated at the borough-owned firehouse on White Street.

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LAST-MINUTE BRICK THROWN INTO PLAN

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI
When you’re redoing a downtown, as rookie Fair Haven Mayor Mike Halfacre is discovering, you can’t please everyone.

Exhibit A: the borough’s streetscape plan, which calls for the sidewalks from Memorial Park to Oak Place to be redone in white concrete stamped with a herringbone pattern, and for the installation of faux Victorian light fixtures. River Road in the vicinity of Fair Haven Road will be repaved.

Everyone agrees the sidewalks need replacing “They’re in terrible condition,” says Halfacre, “like downtown Beirut in some places.”

But now, at the eleventh hour, some business owners are pushing for brick instead of concrete. On Monday night, hours after construction on the job is scheduled to start, they plan to ask the Borough Council to allow them to opt out of the concrete solution, at their own expense.

It could be a tough sell. If construction is delayed by plan changes, finishing the work for Memorial Day weekend as other merchants insist may not be possible. Retailers are still smarting over the 2005 reconstruction of the bridge over Fourth Creek, just a few hundred feet west of the intersection, which all but shut off downtown traffic for months.

“The business owners are very sensitive about traffic flow,” says Halfacre. “They’re afraid [if construction impedes access again] their customers won’t come back this time.”

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FILM: WHAT THE CHURCH KNEW

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The Freedom Film Society, the organization that serves up the Red Bank International Film Fesitval each fall, will screen “Deliver Us From Evil” next Wednesday night at the Clearview Cinemas on White Street.

Directed by Amy Berg, “Deliver Us From Evil” is a documentary that explores the trail of emotional devastation left in the wake of Father Oliver O’Grady, the most notorious pedophile in the history of the modern Catholic Church.

With footage of both the mass predator — who confesses to his crimes without remorse or self-reflection — and his victims, the movie explores the question of what senior officials of the church knew of O’Grady’s pedophilia and the efforts they took to keep it under wraps.

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SHIPPING OUT: FOOD DONATIONS SOUGHT

According to a news release from RiverCenter, 75 Marines from 6th Motor Transport Battalion, based in Lincroft at Half Mile and Newman Springs Road are shipping out to Iraq on May 28 — Memorial Day.

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American Recreational Military Services (A.R.M.S), a nonprofit that provides family support services to armories in the tri-state region, has asked RiverCenter to help plan a send-off breakfast for the soldiers and their families. But no budget exists for this type of event, so it can only happen through donations. A.R.M.S. is seeking breakfast food donations or monetary donations to put toward purchasing food for this event.

The event will be from 5a until 7a and some 350 to 400 people are expected to attend. Below is a list of the items needed.

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IN THE END, IT’S GOOD TO BE KING

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In “The Underpants,” Steve Martin’s adaptation of a 97-year-old German comedy that began previews last night at the Two River Theater, the character of the king is a looming but largely unseen presence.

The story concerns a woman who, in an effort to get a glimpse of the king passing by in a parade, experiences a brief undergarment malfunction in public, an event that — ahem — gives rise to multiple attempts at seduction.

It also mortifies the woman’s husband, Theo, a bureaucrat who worries that the king himself saw what others so indelibly saw. But though his portrait hangs on the stage throughout the play, the king doesn’t appear in person until near the end.

Red Bank’s own Joe Russo, a 61-year-old teacher in the performing arts program at Red Bank Regional, plays the king. redbankgreen was fortunate to get an audience with His Highness earlier this week as the company prepared for its monthlong run.

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RBR ADOPTS TEXT MESSAGE ALERTS

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Prompted by the shootings last month at Virginia Tech that left 33 people dead, Red Bank Regional High School has become the second school district in New Jersey to implement an email and text message alert system, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

The system will employ cellphone text messaging and email to alert parents and students about developments as innocuous as weather-related closings and as serious as security-related lockdowns.

From the story:

Superintendent Edward Westervelt said letters will be sent to parents later this week about the instant notification system and how to sign up. The school security and safety committee took steps to implement the system after the Virginia Tech shootings, he said.

“It came out of that terrible incident at Virginia Tech. We think it will be very helpful,” Westervelt said. “You never know when an emergency or some safety issue will come up when students are on their way to school or on a field trip.”

The text message system also is a way to get information to students in the midst of a lockdown, which they have practiced during the year, he said.

“We’ve practiced them where students are brought into a classroom and the doors are locked and the windows covered, everyone wants to know what’s going on,” Westervelt said. “We could communicate with students . . . without using the school PA, which we might not want to do with an intruder in the building.”

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CORZINE LITE DRAWS OVERFLOW CROWD

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What might have been a session with Gov. Jon Corzine turned out, because of his recent accident, to be an event with somewhat lesser star “wattage.”

But a town hall meeting led in Corzine’s absence by state Treasurer Bradley Abelow still drew an overflow crowd to Red Bank Borough Hall last night, according to stories in today’s Star-Ledger and Asbury Park Press.

From the Ledger:

How many Cabinet members does it take to fill in for Gov. Jon Corzine?

At least six, judging by last night’s town hall meeting in Red Bank, where state Treasurer Brad ley Abelow and Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Susan Bass Levin led a team of Corzine administration officials in fielding an hour of questions from a standing-room-only crowd of 150 area residents.

The council chamber, in which the meeting was held, seats 60, and those who couldn’t find standing room along the walls were forced to listen from the hallway.

Among the Cabinet members and other officials present was Red Bank resident and state Commerce Commissioner Virginia Bauer.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

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Folks, we have our first ‘Where‘ grand slam, with the fourth Colmorgen family member in a row taking a victory trot around the bases.

Carl Colmorgen of Oakland Street was the first reader to identify last week’s image, which showed a faded (to put it mildly) street sign. The location is Harrison Avenue near Eastside Park. See photo below for reference.

The only other person to nail it was Fran Waldman, a ‘Where’ fan who lives nearby on Mechanic Street.

With his second win in three weeks, Carl rounds out a family four-in-a-row that began with his brother Bob and continued last week with his sister, Kathy Lou.

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STUDENT FLEES MAN TRYING TO ENTER CAR

Red Bank police are investigating a report of an unidentified man trying to enter a car driven by a Red Bank Catholic senior while she was stopped downtown at a red light on Tuesday afternoon.

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The 18-year-old driver, who was alone, drove through the red light to get away after the man tried opening a locked door to her car, said Lt. Stephen McCarthy of the detective division. She reported the incident to police when she reached her Middletown home.

The incident occurred shortly before the 4:25p report, at the intersection of Broad and Monmouth streets, according to McCarthy.

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SMUT AIRED DURING CHILDREN’S PROGRAM

The Associated Press, via the Asbury Park Press, reports that graphic pornography was aired on cable television in Middletown Tuesday morning instead of a children’s cartoon called “Handy Manny.”

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A spokesman for Comcast confirmed that the smut appeared on the Disney Channel at around 9:30a, when the kids’ show normally runs, the AP reports.

The story says customer Paul Dunleavy was stunned to find his 5-year-old son watching porn instead of a cartoon about a bilingual Latino handyman, Manny Garcia, and his talking tools.

“It was two people doing their thing, it was full-on and it was disgusting,” the
Middletown father of three told The New York Daily News for today’s newspapers.

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READ ALL ABOUT IT: SAME OLD NEWSSTAND

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI
Everywhere you look on Monmouth Street, it seems, change is underway. Businesses coming and going. Major alterations. The vendor churn can sometimes seem as bustling as the foot traffic.

Red Bank News, the newsstand that’s been a fixture on Monmouth Street for decades, changed hands recently. But even in the midst of store makeovers galore, new owner Michael Bonney won’t be altering much.

A 38-year-old Asbury Park resident and daily reader of three newspapers (the Daily News, the Post and the Asbury Park Press), Bonney has added packaged pastries and coffee to the store’s offerings.

That’s about it. Otherwise, the store’s mainstays are still newspapers, magazines, lottery tickets, tobacco, and candy — the types of small pleasures that have kept it going for 50 years (by one estimate) or 70 (by another).

However long it’s been in business, “the place just needs a little TLC,” Bonney says, pointing out the new coat of green paint and the newly-created corridor where he’s removed a large rack. When a customer remarks that she preferred the old layout, the former No Ordinary Joe’s manager is diplomatic.

“You can’t please everyone,” Bonney says.

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TINTON FALLS HOLDS LINE ON TAXES

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Overriding the preference of the borough’s finance chief, the Tinton Falls Borough Council last night shot down a budget proposed by Mayor Peter Maclearie in favor of one with no increase in the property tax rate, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

Maclearie’s plan would have boosted the rate by 1.8 cents per $100 of property valuation. Instead, the council opted to use $300,000 of surplus to offset the increase, the Press reports.

The unanimous action came just a week before an election in which three of the council’s five seats are up for grabs.

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ARMED MAN SURRENDERS AFTER STANDOFF

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A three-hour standoff between Middletown police and a shotgun-holding man in a pickup truck ended peacefully last night, the Asbury Park Press reports today.

The tense episode, which triggered police backups from Holmdel and Belmar, centered on a vehicle parked in the driveway of a Danemar Drive home, in the northern Fairview section, where the apparently despondent man resided. His name does not appear in the Press account, nor does the exact address of the house. The Star-Ledger says the police did not release his name.

The Ledger also reports that one shot was fired early on in the standoff; the Press account online has no mention of this.

From the Press:

[Next-door neighbor Cathy] Lynch said she was inside her home when she noticed that her neighbor’s truck had been sitting in the driveway for some time with the ignition on. She thought he was having a medical issue, so she went outside to offer help.

But when she approached his vehicle, she saw a gun sitting on his lap.

“I wasn’t even thinking about the gun, I just kept saying “Don’t do it. Don’t do it,’ ” she recalled Tuesday around 9 p.m. while standing on the corner of Danemar Drive and Chapel Hill Road. She was waiting to go back to her home, which she had left unlocked with a steak on the grill. “I told him to shut the car off and get out. But he just told me to go back in the house.”

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BARK TURNS TO BITE IN FAIR HAVEN

A move to restrict the ability of homeowners and builders to take down trees on their properties is back in Fair Haven, uprooting some tensions that had been buried in recent months.

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Larry Higgs has a story in today’s Asbury Park Press that samples local opinion on a proposed ordinance, up for discussion by the Borough Council at its May 7 meeting, that would require permits for the removal of some trees.

Higgs writes:

Depending on what side you’re on, the debate comes down to tree preservation or property owners’ rights.

Many of the residents quoted appear to want some sort of compromise that would prevent clear-cutting but allow limited tree removal without the need for a borough permit. But there are strong opinions from both property-rightists and nature preservationists.

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FAME AWAITS THEM

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Former Red Bank Mayor and state Superior Court Judge Benedict R. Nicosia leads a roster of nine graduates of Red Bank High School (or its successor, Red Bank Regional) into the RBR Education Foundation’s Hall of Fame Friday night.

Slated for induction along with Nicosia is a diverse group: a lingerie manufacturer; a fundraiser; a high school science teacher; a past commander of Fort Monmouth; a designer of race-car engines; an active police captain; a military technology specialist; a former RBR teacher of performing arts; and a fire department volunteer.

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AGREED: NEW TOWN HALL SUCKS

The six candidates vying for three council seats in next week’s election in Tinton Falls assembled last night for what turned out to be a “congenial” debate, according to today’s Asbury Park Press.

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Among the points of agreement: the new borough hall is… something less than desired. One candidate called it a “disgusting embarassment,” though it’s not clear if he was talking about the building itself or the fact that it is overdue and over-budget or both.

“Candidates from both slates pledged to ensure that taxpayer money would never be spent in that manner again,” the Press reports.

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VON DUTCH GETS INK

Today’s Asbury Park Press has a feature about Victor Conti and his Von Dutch freaky motorcycles shop on West Front Street.

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The year-old business sells custom bikes — excuse us, kustom bikes — that look like something out of a comic book illustrator’s fever dream, with bulbous “soft tail” rear wheels, mile-long extension forks and an unmistakable air of menace to them. They’re true road art.

Not that you’d know it from the Press story, which foregoes any attempt at description in favor of a workmanlike overview of 57-year-old Conti’s longtime love of motorcycles (dating back to the time he was a 12-year-old in Florence, Italy) to the clothing on offer in the store.

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CAN STATE TREASURER PACK OUR HOUSE?

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New Jersey Treasurer Bradley Abelow is scheduled to lead a forum at Red Bank Borough Hall Wednesday night in which he’ll discuss the impact of the proposed $33.3 billion state budget for fiscal ’08 on municipalities.

In announcing the event a week ago at a council meeting, Mayor Pasquale Menna characterized the session as a “town forum.” He said the office of Acting Gov. Dick Codey had asked that Red Bank host the event.

Little old Red Bank? Councilman John Curley wondered if the council chambers, which seats 60, would be large enough to accomodate members of the public interested in attending.

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