RECORD STORE OWNER STABBED & ROBBED; TWO SUSPECTS REPORTED IN CUSTODY

Img_9850After being stabbed in his store, at left, victim Charlie Williams made his way to Golf Greens Fore U, at right.

A Shrewsbury Avenue merchant was pistol-whipped and stabbed by two hooded robbers this morning.

The victim, Charlie Williams, is said to be at a local hospital being treated for stab wounds to his arms. Joe Ali, who owns a neighboring business and assisted the victim, said Williams’ injuries are not life-threatening.

The assailants are said to be in custody, though we have no details from Red Bank police yet.

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NICOLE ATKINS: RISING STAR, AT JACK’S

Na_02_rgbNicole Atkins in a rare moment of relaxation.

Yes, we know that Nicole Atkins has a full dance card as she more than lives up to her inclusion on Rolling Stone’s 10 Artists to Watch list of 2006.

A torchy 29-year-old singer-songwriter with pipes like there’s no tomorrow, she’s been working her tail off in support of her widely-praised debut LP, “Neptune City,” named for her childhood hometown.

Recorded in Sweden with her band, the Sea, and tweaked by Columbia Records head Rick Rubin, the LP was released Oct. 30. That night, Atkins blew away Dave Letterman’s audience (not to mention the host) with her performance of “The Way It Is,” and then hit the road for a short tour that included a stop earlier this month at the Stone Pony.

Somewhere along the way, she even landed an American Express commercial in which she gets to plug her act.

Now, gearing up for a show next month at New York’s Bowery Ballroom, Atkins is scheduled to play tomorrow night at Jack’s Music right here in Red Bank.

Still, with all that’s going on in her life, we have one small request of Atkins: please become more famous than Jon Bovi.

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NY POST: GOOCH ON RUDY AND RICHES

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Today’s New York Post features a Q&A with Rumsonian Mickey Gooch, who among other things is a Wall Street billionaire, head New Jersey fundraiser for GOP presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani and co-owner, with his wife Diane, of the Red Bank-based Two River Times.

In the interview, Gooch explains why so many Wall Street firms — but not his — have gotten hammered in the credit meltdown, how his boy Rudy’s doing in New Jersey, and whether he finds it “satisfying” to be a paper billionaire.

From the story:

Q: New Jersey has raised a lot of money for Rudy?

A: Rudy has raised more money in the state of New Jersey than any other candidate including the Democrats, and the only other state where he has achieved that is Texas.

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MIDDLETOWN BALKS ON REVAL

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An ebb tide of property values and glut of ‘for sale’ signs has Middletown officials thinking this might not be he best time for a revaluation, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

Township officials have hired a taxation law expert to tell them if they have a case for asking the Monmouth County Board of Taxation for a reprieve on doing a reval that uses Oct. 1 as the reference date.

From the story:

“Our concern is that if the values are so off, the number of (tax) appeals will be very high,” Middletown Deputy Mayor Pamela Brightbill said.

Citing an “ever-increasing number of “for sale’ signs,” news that properties are not selling and a rising number of foreclosures, Brightbill said there has been growing concern that the updated property values will be inflated if the market continues downward.

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STAY SOBER OR TAKE A CAB

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Revelers beware: Red Bank Police are stepping up their enforcement of drinking-and-driving laws this month.

It starts tonight, with a DWI checkpoint on Newman Springs Road. Cops will be out there from 11p to 3a.

There will also be more patrols on the lookout for the besotted all over town from now through Jan. 2, according an announcement from Lt. Darren McConnell, head of traffic safety enforcement.

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SPIRITS, UNLIMITED, AT THE TWO RIVER

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By TOM CHESEK

The spirits have been restless of late over at Two River Theater, first during October’s psych-out thrill ride “The Charlatan’s Seance,” then in the massive preparations for their upcoming Grand Guignol take on Shakespeare’s bloody and accursed “Macbeth” (going up in January, and co-directed by that devil-imp of magical mischief, Teller).

In these days between, the Two River company has been offering up the world premiere engagement of “The Ghost’s Bargain,” a spirited tale that suggests, (a) Charles Dickens had more than one Christmas Carol loaded in his iPod, and (b) if the folks at TRT have their way, Halloween and Christmas may soon be merging into a sort of extended Ghoultide observance.

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CHUBBY’S PLAN MEETS LITTLE RESISTANCE

Img_9808Architect Tony Busch Jr. discusses the proposed design for a building to replace Chubby’s, shown superimposed at left on a photo of West Front Street buildings. (Click to enlarge)

Had their business been treated as a brand-new one, the owners of the restaurant and sports bar proposed for the present site of Chubby’s Waterside Café on West Front Street might be looking at a $325,000 bill from Red Bank for insufficient parking.

As things stand, though, the final tab will probably come in closer to $30,000, Borough Engineer Rich Kosenski told redbankgreen last night.

His comment followed a generally favorable reception by the Zoning Board for a plan to demolish Chubby’s — a rock club best known these days for weekend all-ages shows — and replace it with a four-story mix of restaurant, sports bar and banquet facility topped by two rental apartments. The eatery would be run by the principals in the Bistro at Red Bank and called The Bank.

The board took no vote on the matter, though. The next hearing on the request was scheduled for Jan 17.

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HER DEATH GRIP ON THE MUG GAVE IT AWAY

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There’s a bit more detail about the allegedly drunk substitute teacher from Middletown this morning.

From an Associated Press story in today’s Star-Ledger:

School officials said fourth-grade students at Pine Brook Elementary School [in Manalapan] knew something was wrong when their substitute fell out of her chair, had trouble getting up and held her coffee mug tightly.

Students alerted the principal, who sent Mary Kaminski to the hospital Wednesday.

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ONE HUMBUGGER, HOLD THE CHEESE, PLEASE

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By TOM CHESEK

He was the first to play the title role in Spring Lake Theatre Company’s annual production of the musical “Scrooge,” and went on to don the nightcap for countless performances in Premier Theatre Company’s equally long-running revival of that well-roasted holiday chestnut.

It’s probably safe to surmise that Tinton Falls resident Michael Kroll could play the part in his sleep — not just old Ebenezer, but everyone else in the show to boot.

For the past two years, the veteran regional character actor (a member in good standing of Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore’s unofficial stock company) has done his part to “decrease the surplus population,” by presenting an economical and effective one-man version of “A Christmas Carol” for local audiences.

While it’s nothing that hasn’t been tackled before (by, among others, Lionel “Mr. Potter” Barrymore and “Star Trek” hambone Patrick Stewart), this “Christmas Kroll” is an engaging solo delivered by a performer with genuine presence and a deep affinity for the oh-so-familiar material.

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DEFINITELY NOT FUNNY. BUT STILL…

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Sometimes, there’s nothing we can add to a story, partly because we’re speechless.

This is from the Asbury Park Press this afternoon:

FREEHOLD — A Middletown woman working as a substitute teacher in a Manalapan elementary school was arested Wednesday after she was found intoxicated in a fourth grade classroom.

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CLUB OWNER BANKS ON NEW BUILDING

Img_9688Takin’ it to ‘The Bank?’ An owner of Chubby’s hopes so.

Chubby’s Waterside Cafe, a timeworn nightclub that claims the only cabaret license in Red Bank, wants to go upscale, and skyward, too.

Co-owner Michael Gilson of Little Silver hopes to demolish the West Front Street building, at Boat Club Way, and replace it with a four-story structure housing a new 351-seat restaurant and sports bar to be created by the owners of the Bistro at Red Bank on Broad Street.

Tentative name: ‘The Bank.’

With a game room for kids and a small reception hall on the second floor, plus two two-bedroom apartments with river views, the proposed 16,733-square-foot structure would have interior parking for six cars.

Gilson is scheduled to put the plan before the Zoning Board tonight.

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IN TOWN | IN DECEMBER: WEEK TWO

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In recent years, photographers Bob McKay & Elisabeth Koch-McKay have been Red Bank’s foremost curators of photographic work, cultivating art that’s bold and demure, edgy and comforting, but always transporting.

For their newest show at the McKay Imaging gallery on Monmouth Street, they’ll transport visitors to Liz’s homeland of Austria with their own shots.

In a manner of speaking, this is a show of vacation pictures. But “Home/Away From Home” offers gallerygoers an opportunity to see a bit of the old world through the eyes of both a returning native and an outsider who’d never been out of the United States before he and Liz traveled there together for the first time in 1996.

We’re curious to see both how the pictures differ and how close contact — the couple met in college 15 years ago and have been married for the past 11 — has led one’s eye to influence the other’s.

An opening reception is scheduled for Friday night from 7 to 10p.

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MENNA’S PLAN TO MAKE THE TOWN SAFER

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Mayor Pasquale Menna and Police Chief Mark Fitzgerald continue to stick to the information blackout imposed on them by by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s office last week in the wake of the shootings at the Montgomery Terrace public housing units on Tilton Avenue.

But with the caveat that he couldn’t address specifics about the case, Menna last night unveiled a series of initiatives aimed at quelling crime throughout town but particularly on the West Side.

Among the measures he outlined at last night’s bimonthly borough council meeting:

• The hiring of two additional police officers and the hiring of three new civilian police dispatchers, freeing up officers who’d been filling in on the radio desk, bringing total staffing in the department to 43 employees.

• The institution of a “park and walk” program, whereby cops will get out of their patrol cars and walk all neighborhoods in town.

• “Aggressive” enforcement by police of no-trespassing and anti-loitering policies at Montgomery Terrace and Evergreen Terrace, which together comprise about 100 units of subsidized housing.

“The issue here is not public housing. The issue is not Montgomery Terrace,” Menna said, before outlining a host of security measures he said had been or would soon be implemented at the borough Housing Authority’s two complexes and throughout town.

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TASK FORCE TO INK YOUTH CENTER PLAN

Img_8386The former Count Basie Learning Center, a site that proponents favor as the future home of a community center.

Outrage over social conditions that some citizens linked to last month’s double shootings at the Montgomery Terrace public-housing project pushed the idea of a community center back to a front burner last night.

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Mayor Pasquale Menna announced that he’d name a task force by the end of the year to shape a recommendation about where to locate a center, who would run it, and how it would be financed. He said he anticipates the committee would have seven members and complete its work in 30 to 60 days, handing the idea over to the council for action.

The suddenly revived community center idea, which Councilman John Curley last week said was in limbo since a high-profile presentation before the council two months ago, stood out among a list of measures Menna said had been or would soon be adopted to quell worries about crime throughout the town, but particularly on the West Side.

“I think there is some urgency to the idea of having some sort of center where family values can be channeled,” Menna told a nearly-full room of onlookers in the council chambers. “I think the time has come to earnestly look at what is lacking in, I guess, the reasoning process of many of our young people.”

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SB MAN SEEKS COURT INFLUENCE PROBE

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A former political opponent of soon-to-be-ex Sea Bright Mayor Jo-Ann Kalaka-Adams has asked the Monmouth County Prosecutor to investigate the role the mayor may have played in a recent borough court matter that resulted in a local noise ordinance being invalidated, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

From the story:

Andrew Mencinsky, 41, of Ocean Avenue said he called the Prosecutor’s Office on Oct. 26, the day after he attended the Borough Council’s meeting to request the probe, because he contends the mayor should not have been in court while the judge was hearing noise complaints against the local restaurant that later hosted her pre-election party.

“I was very upset about it,” Mencinsky said Tuesday. “It didn’t sound like a position the mayor should be in. Somebody has to connect the dots.”

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IS THAT INCREASE 28 IN HUMAN DOLLARS?

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Red Bank officials are hoping to boost fees for the licensing of dogs and cats.

A proposed ordinance amendment slotted for introduction at tonight’s council meeting would increase the dog license fee to $10.80 per year, from $6.80. A $1.20 charge for the required collar tag would remain unchanged.

Cat-license fees, meanwhile, would jump to $12 for each neutered cat (from $8) and $15 per unneutered feline (from $11).

Here’s he proposed change: Download 2007-42.pdf

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SUPER EXPECTS BOOST UNDER NEW PLAN

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By TIM HATHAWAY

The extra $368,000 in state funding that Red Bank schools received last year may have been a windfall, but schools Superintendent Laura Morana says there should be even more in the kitty this year.

According to Morana, the state will put more funding towards full-time preschool for three to four-years-olds, at-risk youth and limited English proficiency (LEP) students under the widely anticipated new school funding formula. The Corzine administration is expected to announce the specifics of the plan as early as next week.

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FEDS DOUBLE ILLEGAL ALIEN ARRESTS IN NJ

Federal immigration-law enforcers nearly doubled the number of arrests of illegal aliens in New Jersey during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, today’s Star-Ledger reports.

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A total of 2,079 illegal aliens were taken into custody by four teams of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials assigned to the state, the Ledger reports.

Those swept up were wanted on warrants or deportation orders, or because they happened to be in places that the feds were raiding, the Ledger reports.

In fiscal 2006, 1,094 people were arrested in the state, the Ledger says. Of the 2,079 arrested last year, officials reported that 270 had criminal histories and 1,220 have already been deported.

From the article:

The increase reflected a nationwide trend that has seen deportations skyrocket. Nationwide, 30,408 people were arrested in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, up from 15,462 the previous year.

It is the first time in the controversial five-year effort to cut down on the number of fugitive aliens living in the country that the number has decreased, ICE officials said.

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PLANNING BOARD TO BUONA SERA: MANGIA

Buona_seraBuona Sera’s plan to expand into the space now used by Fins and Feathers was approved by the Planning Board earlier this week.

It doesn’t have a single parking space to offer its customers, but Buona Sera Ristorante has gotten a greenlight from borough planners for an expansion that will boost its capacity by 148 seats.

In lieu of parking, the restaurant at the corner of Maple Avenue and Monmouth Street will be required to make a one-time $70,000 contribution to the borough parking fund, said Planning and Zoning Director Donna Smith Barr.

The Planning Board gave unanimous approval to the restaurant’s expansion Monday, despite reservations by the Visual Improvement Committee of Red Bank RiverCenter, the downtown promotional entity.

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CORZINE PRESCHOOL PLAN JOLTS SUPERS

Gov. Jon Corzine wants to dramatically expand preschool programs statewide, today’s Star-Ledger reports.

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The plan, the Ledger says, includes a proposal to require — and ultimately pay for — full-day preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds in at least 100 low- and middle-income districts not currently providing it. The idea is expected to be unveiled in detail next week, when Corzine also spells out his new state funding plan for schools.

But even as school administrators embrace the idea of getting kids into schools as early as age 3, some say they can’t handle what Corzine’s proposing.

“We see the difference, a significant difference,” said Red Bank Superintendent Laura Morana, who currently runs a full-day program for 4-year-olds. “But my first reaction is, ‘Oh my gosh, full-day for 3-year-olds, too?’ … I don’t have the space for half-day, let alone full-day.”

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ORDER IN THE COURT

Img_9722Red Bank Police Chief Mark Fitzgerald checks out a new metal detector at Borough Hall Tuesday.

The $3,500 device will be used to scan visitors to Municipal Court, but not attendees to other borough functions such as council and planning board meetings.

Its use will also free up one of three police officers now assigned to do wand inspections; Fitzgerald said the officer would be assigned to patrol duty.

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COPS NAB TRIO FOR AREA BREAK-IN SPREE

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI

Three Red Bank residents have been arrested and charged for their alleged roles in a rash of burglaries of cars in Fair Haven, Rumson, Red Bank and Little Silver, according to Fair Haven Police Chief Darryl Breckenridge, Sr.

The suspects are Phillip A. Lewent, 18, Catalin David Larotonda, 20, and an unidentified male 17-year-old, said Fair Haven Det. Sherri Lambert, who questioned them Tuesday afternoon.

They were arrested Saturday by Ptl. Steve Solari of Little Silver Police Department for car burglaries committed in Little Silver, Lambert said.

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RECOUNT MAKES IT OFFICIAL: FERNANDES

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI

On month after the polls closed, Maria Fernandes is still Sea Bright’s mayor-elect.

A recount of the results this morning yielded no change in outcome, an official at the Monmouth County Clerk’s office tells redbankgreen.

The final tally was 276 for Fernandes to 273 for incumbent Mayor Jo-Ann Kalaka-Adams, according to Leah Falk, chair of the county board of elections. Each candidate picked up two votes in the hand-recount, Falk said.

“I’m glad it’s over,” Fernandes said. “I didn’t expect the count to change, but you never know. Now we can move forward and conduct the business of government. We have a lot of work to do.”

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SURVIVOR ROUSES R-FH ‘CANCERCRUSHER’

Amanda_mckean2Amanda McKean outside Zebu Forno in Red Bank.

Amanda McKean spent two years as a toddler fighting leukemia. Thirteen years later, she’s a high school junior organizing an event at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional to for pediatric cancer awareness.

Tomorrow night, local restaurateur Tim McLoone, whose 10-year-old son is battling cancer, will perform with his band, Holiday Express, and singer-songwriter Laura Higgins, at McKean’s event, called “cancercrushernight.”

Goodies such as concert tickets and restaurant and spa certificates will be auctioned, with the money going to Monmouth Medical Center’s Valerie Center and “I’m Too Young For This!” (aka i[2]y), an advocacy group founded by Brooklynite Matthew Zachary.

The perennially-optimistic McKean chatted with redbankgreen about her cancer, her ambitions, the meaning of her life, and what it’s like being a “poster child for pediatric cancer.”

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