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ON THE WINGS OF SOBRIETY

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI

What do you do if you’re out on the town and you realize you’ve had one too many?

You know you shouldn’t get behind the wheel. You could call a cab, but your car is sitting in a parking lot and you don’t want to leave it there overnight. You could call a friend, if you’re willing to have one more ex-friend in the morning.

Four Rumson college students who call themselves “The Wingmen Driving Service” think they have the answer.

Their slogan: “We drive you and your car home.”

That none of the four is old enough to buy beer hasn’t been an obstacle to the growth of their business, they say.

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RUMSON FIREWORKS SPARK CONCERN

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI

To celebrate Independence Day, Rumson borough typically closes off part of the Oceanic Bridge to enable spectators to view Red Bank’s fireworks, opening the span periodically for boats to get through.

This year, though, the town is 100 years old and in the mood to party. So, as part of its ongoing centennial celebration, Rumson plans to hold its own, first fireworks next Tuesday night — a display that’s to be synched up with Red Bank’s KaBoom celebration.

But some sparks have already been flying over access to emergency services and concerns about gridlock between the two Navesink River bridges — the Oceanic, linking Rumson to the Locust section of Middletown, and the Cooper Bridge, to the west, which connects Middletown to Red Bank.

Officials at Riverview Medical Center informed Red Bank and Rumson officials by letter recently that they could not “guarantee transport” to the hospital with access to the Oceanic Bridge restricted.

“There are a lot more people in town,” said Donna Sellman, spokeswoman for the hospital. “If the bridge is closed or partially closed, ambulances may make it through, but our concern is also for somebody not in an ambulance. In a heart attack or stroke every minute is precious.”

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LOOSE PANTIES = BOFFO BOX

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A play about a young woman’s falling underwear helped arouse record interest in the Two River Theater in the season just ended.

Bootstrapped by ‘The Underpants,’ comedian Steve Martin’s racy farce, as well as receipts from the musical ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’,’ the Bridge Avenue theater company posted its strongest returns ever, both in both seats sold and revenue, the TRTC reported.

Attendance for the season’s plays soared 31 percent, from 23,242 in the 2006 season to 30,463 this year, said theater spokeswoman Jayme Powers.

Revenue from ticket sales, meanwhile, was $747,817 this season, a jump of almost $200,000.

“Every time we think it can’t get any better, this community surprises us by buying more tickets and supporting our work more deeply,” TRTC board president Ann Unterberg said in a prepared statement.

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MANSION SHOPPERS: YOU’LL JUST FLIP!

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Here’s an event that may appeal to bargain vultures as well as to those members of the hoi polloi aching for an up-close glimpse of how the other half lives.

In fact, it might appeal especially to someone who’s ready to start living with the other half, and doesn’t mind paying for the privilege.

A riverside mansion located at 444 Navesink River Road in Middletown will be the site of a sizable estate sale Saturday, with hundreds of pieces of funiture, jewelry and other items going on the block, says auctioneer Jeffrey Zimmerman of Time & Again Auction Gallery in Linden.

The big item, though, is the house itself. Minimum bid: $2.5 million.

Funny, the place was just sold two months ago for $2 million.

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TAKING THE ‘KARAGJOZI’ OUT OF KARA

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Rumson resident Zuhdi Karagjozi, founder of Kara Homes, has been bounced from the company as part of a reorganization plan, the Asbury Park Press reports today.

The name of the company has also been de-Kara-ed. It will now be called Maplewood Homebuilders LLC.

Stepping into the lead role at the attered homebuilder is Glen Fishman of Lakewood, who with his brother, Larry, is up to his rafters in overseeing the redevelopment of the ocean district in Asbury Park, the Press reports, citing documents filed in federal bankruptcy court.

Also involved with an ownership stake is Plainfield Specialty Holdings II, a Greenwich, Conn.-based hedge fund, the Press says.

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AT LAST, A TOWER OF POWER?

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI

After years of grousing by Fair Haven residents about a dead zone of cellphone service, and more than a year of contention over how to resolve it, the borough may at last have hit on a fix.

The borough council this week passed an ordinance this week to lease a landlocked five-acre parcel from Christ Church United Methodist on which the town hopes to build a cell tower.

The plan is likely to be seen as a relief to residents of several neighborhoods that had previously been targeted as the location for a town-owned tower, each proposal for which prompted outcries about property values, aesthetics and safety.

But the plan also creates a new pocket of disgruntlement in and near McCarter Avenue — though no residents spoke out against the plan at the council meeting Monday night.

“Some people are unhappy, and I sympathize,” Mayor Mike Halfacre said at the session, during which the council gave unanimous approval to the plan. “But it’s the best solution of the options we have left. It’s the interests of 5,000 residents over those of 200 householders.”

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COUNCIL TO CLUBS: ‘SHUT IT’

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Once a month at Teak, after the diners have finished their Asian-fusion sushi, a merengue band sets up in the front room and the place explodes with sounds from south of the border.

In fine weather, the large windows on three sides of the room are thrown open, turning the place into a throbbing lanai on Monmouth Street as salsa dancers spill out into the parking lot.

Well, it may be the dead of summer, but it’s time to button up, borough officials say.

The borough council is dialing up a campaign against nighttime noise with a proposal that would force clubs and restaurants to shut their doors and windows after 11p when they’re playing music, whether live or recorded.

“As more and more places go to big open windows — which is lovely — the noise is becoming more intolerable for the neighbors of those establishments,” says Councilwoman Grace Cangemi.

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RATS! COUNCIL PUNCTURES SLURPEE CUP!

You can almost picture the scene: the folks at the ad agency for 7-11 gathered in a midtown Manhattan conference room, hashing out ways to promote the company’s Red Bank store at a time when the biggest crowd of the year will jam the borough for the annual KaBoom fireworks show.

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“Hey,” somebody says, “let’s put a giant inflatable Slurpee cup in the parking lot!”

“Yes!” the assembled brain trust shouts in unison, before heading off to their homes in the Hamptons, safe in the knowledge that a good number of the estimated 170,000 visitors to Red Bank will have no choice but to squeeze through the junction of West Front Street and Maple Avenue — the store’s location.

And so it was that the company, through an intermediary, last night asked the Borough Council for permission to install a 20-foot-tall facsimile of the ubiquitous iced drink at the store and let it remain there for three weeks.

In most New Jersey towns, it’s probably safe to say, this sort of request would sail through the deliberative process like, well, a Slurpee through a roofer.

Not here, though, and not under this regime. A monstrous Slurpee had all the appeal of brain freeze.

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SECURITY BARD KEEPS EYES ON THE PRIZE

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By LISA M. McLAUGHLIN

…with voices shouting out how much times
have changed,
I hear echoes from the past
saying much is still the same.

From A.D. 19 of 41 by Trebor

In Robert Hardy’s Red Bank apartment, a framed poster of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the text of his “I Have a Dream” speech hang above a large fish tank that is eerily without fish. Neatly piled boxes containing copies of Hardy’s recent self-published book “Images” sit in one corner of his living room.

The book is Hardy’s third, following “A Voice in You” in 1987, and “A Soul Exposed” in 2000, all written under the the pseudonym “Trebor.”

Quite an output for someone who says that he doesn’t like to write. So why do it?

“It’s like someone is dictating to me,” Hardy says. “Whatever comes, I just put it down.”

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NOT THE USUAL GOING, GOING, GONE

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI

Amid the scraps of one retailer’s failed dream, an astonishing leap of trust took place took place on Monmouth Street Thursday, and a new business venture appears to have been born.

Two women bidding for the inventory at Margaret’s Jewelry, which was shut down by the state in April for unpaid taxes, became instant business partners, though they’d never before met.

“We didn’t even know each other’s names,” said Lorraine Shaheen, of Little Silver, who purchased all the store’s jewelry and watches in auction Lot 1 for $8,000.

The minimum bid for Lot 1 had been advertised by the Division of Taxation as $30,000, but the auctioneer, Steve Kelleher, received no bids at that price, and was forced to drop down to $5,000 before receiving an opening bid from Shaheen.

Monica de Guzman, a Lincroft resident, paid $1,500 for the rest of the store’s merchandise, including clothing, mirrors, glassware, rugs, ceramic items and artwork, plus another $500 for all the store’s furnishings, or Lots 2 and 3.

But within the details of how those second and third lots were sold lies a story of instant capitalism.

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ISLAND THEME, RIVER VIEW

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RiverCenter’s Tiki Party at the Elks Lodge Wednesday night took place under perfect weather conditions and drew the biggest-ever crowd to the annual bash, organizers said.

Though the final tally wasn’t yet available, it was also thought to have raised the most money yet for holiday-season street decorations.

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SUNNY’S DONE; COUNCIL PULLS LICENSE

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI

In a sweeping show of bipartisanship, the Red Bank Borough Council this evening voted not to renew the alcohol distribution license of Best Liquors, the packaged goods store on Leighton Avenue that last year became a hothouse of illegal activity and drew the enduring wrath of its neighbors.

The governing body voted 5-0 against the store on each of six charges that formed the basis of the license hearing. Councilman RJ Bifani, who had an unspecified potential conflict of interest, did not attend hearings in the matter.

Both store owner Sunny Sharma and his antagonists — a group of homeowners living near the intersection of Leighton Ave. and Catherine Street — were surprisingly subdued as the outcome of the case became clear.

The decision not to renew the license, which under normal circumstances would expire June 30, is the first step in what could prove to be a prolonged battle in the courts. Next, the council will draft an resolution to introduce Monday night, at its next regular meeting, calling for the permanent revocation of the store’s liquor license.

A special meeting to vote on the resolution was scheduled for 5p next Thursday. If the measure passes, it would become effective at 11:59p that night.

Store owner Sunny Sharma, however, is expected to appeal to the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission. According to his lawyer, Samuel ‘Skip’ Reale Jr., a former deputy state attorney general, the store will be permitted to continue selling alcohol during the pendency of the appeal.

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DEP: COYOTES A PACK OF SCAREDY-CANINES

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI

Coyotes are probably here to stay in New Jersey, Department of Environmental Protection officials told about 100 people at a two-hour information meeting in Middletown last night.

But the recent coyote attacks on humans are “an anomaly in the eastern United States,” said Division of Fish & Wildlife deputy commissioner for natural resources John Watson, Jr.

“It’s not feasible to remove them from Middletown,” added principal biologist Tony McBride. “But we can make them fear people again.”

Various tactics he suggested to “frighten and harass” and “enforce their natural fear of people” include blasting air horns, turning garden hoses on them, yelling and throwing rocks.

Leonardo resident Paula Wellbrock wasn’t sold. She believes her toy fox terrier was killed by a coyote in late May. (Wildlife officials aren’t so sure; they think her Lola was killed by another dog.)

“Fish and Wildlife [officials] have no experience with this, so they’re going by textbook,” she said. “The coyotes are running all over, and they’re not afraid of people. They walk right up to you.”

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A HEMISPHERE, OR TWO, ON EVERY PLATE

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI

With Asian, Italian and vegetarian (to name a few) influences, the Eurasian Eatery has long managed to defy categorization.

It’s not vegetarian, exactly, though vegetarian dishes account for 70 percent of the menu, making it a favorite among meat avoiders. Yet there’s no shortage of carnivores who patronize the Monmouth Street restaurant.

“Couples come in, and only one is vegetarian, but everyone finds something on the menu,” says Joe Kriete, who with his wife Tara, took over the restaurant one year ago.

“I’d love for it to be all vegetarian, but it wouldn’t be fair to people who come for our meat dishes,” says Joe, himself an omnivore.

As its name suggests, the Eurasian embraces both Asian and European cuisine. Joe describes the menu as “a broad mix between European and Asian cultures, and everything in between.”

Where else, for example, can you find a pairing like Neapolitan dumplings with homemade marinara sauce and a parmesan cream, wrapped in Asian rice paper? Or black bean moussaka sharing menu space with Hungarian chicken paprikash and Thai sautés?

“Italian and Thai dishes — those are a lot of fun.” says Joe.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

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Gotta love those Colmorgen boys, right?

The white-hot streak that Bob & Carl have been on in recent months is rather impressive, one must admit. It continued when they turned in the only entry that correctly identified last week’s ‘Where’ as part of the Katsin’s Drug Store facade on Shrewsbury Avenue.

Still, we’ve got to wonder: Are others out there getting these, but simply not sending in answers, perhaps feeling a bit cowed by Colmorgens? Or is everyone as simply stumped as formerly formidable Jenn Woods has been of late?

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COPS: HE PROWLED WHILE MOST SLEPT

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Red Bank Police have linked a man they arrested last week with five early-morning burglaries on the East Side.

Mauro Vasquez-Galvan, 26, of East Front Street, is being held in the Monmouth County Jail on $135,000 bail following his arrest Friday, June 15 at 4:50a for defiant trespass.

He was discovered in the rear yard of a residence on Linden Place, according to a statement issued by Lt. Stephen McCarthy. The arrest was part of an increased patrol and surveillance operation of the area initiated in response to a number of residential nighttime burglaries in the area, McCarthy said. Ptl. Robert Kennedy and Ptl. Steven Adams made the arrest.

Subsequent investigation by Sgt. Eliot Ramos led to Vasquez-Galvan being charged with the following incidents:

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WARM WELCOME AT ICE BOAT CLUBHOUSE

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Preservation Red Bank, a private-sector organization that works to allow old buildings to keep getting older, will hold its annual meeting this Sunday in one of the borough’s oldest — a place that all but creaks with character.

The group will meet at 4p at the clubhouse of the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club, next door to the Monmouth Boat Club on Union Street.

For nonmembers, a peek inside the clubhouse is a “somewhat unusual” opportunity, says past Commodore William Comella.

“It’s like going back in time to the 1880s,” adds George Bowden, a PRB officer and chairman of the Red Bank Historic Preservation Committee.

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SPLIT-LEVEL: MONASTERY OR TAX HAVEN?

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This week’s Holmdel Independent has a delicious story about the owner of split-level house in the New Monmouth section who claims his property is entitled to a tax exemption because he has turned it into a monastery.

Sixty-three-year-old Raymond Bertolette, who now calls himself “Archimandrite Ephraem Bertolette,” has been fighting the township for five years through litigation that has already gone to the Appellate Division of state Superior Court and to state tax court. Bertollete has lost at each level and is continuing to appeal.

The newest twist in the saga involves a sign in front of his David Court home (which Bertolette says is also home to two other monks who, apparently, no one has ever seen). The township recently directed him to remove the sign — which announces, “Monastery of Saint Barbara, Visitors Welcome”— or face prosecution.

From the story:

Ephraem claims that an unnamed township employee has even threatened him with jail time regarding the sign and a large metal cross, also on his front lawn.

“He asked, ‘When will you remove it?’ I said never,” Ephraem said, regarding the cross. “It’s not like it’s a pink flamingo. I can’t just take it down.”

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A SPICY, SAVORY & SPECTACULAR SELLOUT

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Faces, fashions and flavors from around the world were on display last Saturday night at the Red Bank Primary School for the annual International Night, and there wasn’t an empty seat in the house.