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NOAA WON’T NUDGE DOLPHINS FOR NOW

Img_1478NOAA’s ark, er, motorboat as seen from Sea Bright on Sunday morning.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says today that it is still monitoring the pod of bottlenose dolphins that’s been in the Shrewsbury River for more than two weeks, but no measures to shepherd the mammals out of the river into Sandy Hook Bay will be undertaken “at this time.”

From a press release issued today by NOAA, an arm of the federal Commerce Department:

NOAA has no definitive plans to move or attempt to herd the dolphins at this time, although it is preparing to do so if it becomes necessary. “It’s a last resort,” said Teri Rowles, director of NOAA’s National Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program. Such a process is complicated, usually has mixed success, and is highly stressful for the animals sometimes resulting in death.

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DOLPHINS A SEA BRIGHT SENSATION

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From boats, land, docks and bridges, everybody wants to get a gander at the dolphins, it seems.

“We were just saying that mothers are probably telling their kids, ‘no dolphins if you don’t finish your dinner,'” one woman quipped as she awaited the return of the mammals to the vicinity of McLoone’s Rum Runner in Sea Bright last night.

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BASIE GUT JOB BEGINS ON HIGH NOTE

Img_2293Eight-year-old Maddy Ward writes her name on the wall of the theater this morning as a four-month renovation got underway.

The scaffolding was up and an access hole had already been cut in the lobby wall as the Count Basie Theatre kicked off a fast-paced interior renovation this morning.

Following the Fab Faux Beatles tribute concert Saturday night and party on the stage for theater staffers yesterday, Basie officials held an informal kickoff ceremony this morning at which visitors were encouraged to write messages on the plaster walls.

They also noted that today is the final day of the theater’s fiscal year, which closes out a seven-year string of rising attendance and surpluses where once was lots of red ink.

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DOLPHINS IN NO HURRY TO LEAVE

Dolphins_bridge2DolphinleapWith a clear shot at the Highlands-Sea Bright Bridge — the gateway to Sandy Hook Bay — the dolphins instead chose to extend their stay in the Shrewsbury River late Sunday afternoon.

Two weeks later, they’re still here.

The pod — or pods, depending on who’s talking — of an estimated 15 to 20 dolphins that showed up in the Shrewsbury River on Father’s Day continued shuttling back and forth between two bridges through the weekend.

All the while, they feasted on the ample supply of Atlantic menhaden in the waterway, according to a marine mammal specialist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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NJTRANSIT: TRAINS ON TIME

Following up on last night’s alert, New Jersey Transit has this to say about the the North Jersey Coast Line this morning:

NJCL service to operate as normal today. Last evenings storm damage has been repaired and normal service has been restored.

STORM TRIGGERS ALARM FRENZY, RAIL ILLS

Img_1582A summer storm that barreled through the area set off a handful of security alarms in Red Bank Sunday afternoon and had some volunteer firefighters running from one scene to another in the downpour.

According to Fire Chief Noel Blackwood, all the alarms turned out to be false, as did a report of a lightning strike and fire at 21 East Front Street, seen above.

Rail commuters take note: at 7:08p Sunday, New Jersey Transit issued this alert:

Storm damage on NJCL may affect rail service Monday AM. Please check www.njtransit.com for latest info before starting your trip.

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WATERCRAFT SHADOW THEIR EVERY MOVE

Dolphins5A sailboat under power gets close to the dolphins between Sea Bright and Highlands late Friday afternoon.

Trailed and often surrounded by big boats, small boats and personal watercraft, a pod of dolphins moved back and forth in the upper Shrewsbury River late Friday afternoon.

When the dolphins neared the gateway to Sandy Hook Bay and the sea — the Highlands-Sea Bright bridge — they reversed direction, and several of the vessels did so too, only to be joined by more jet skiers and small boats.

A State Police marine patrol boat that had been in the river about 90 minutes earlier wasn’t visible.

Meanwhile, on land, some people expressed anger about the boaters and what they considered harassment of the dolphins. “I can’t believe how incredibly selfish they’re being,” said a woman waiting in the parking lot at McLoone’s Rum Runner restaurant, a favorite gathering spot for dolphin watchers.

Kerry Gowan, Sea Bright’s animal control officer, said she’d seen three people jumping off a boat into the river where the dolphins were swimming Thursday evening, and when she called to them to stop, “they flipped me off.” So she called the State Police.

“We’re now taking registration numbers” off boats, she said. Fines for harassing the dolphins start at $2,000 and can include an immediate seizure of a vessel, she said.

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PRESS: DOLPHINS BEING ESCORTED NORTH

Dolphins2Dolphins in the Shrewsbury River near the confluence of the Navesink yesterday.

The Asbury Park Press reports that the dolphin pod in the Shrewsbury River is heading north.

The U.S. Coast Guard and state Marine Police [are] giving them an escort and keeping recreational boaters away from the dolphins as they head north toward the bay.

Officials hopeful they will reach the bay today.

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CUE GHOST LIGHT: BASIE TO GO DARK

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By TOM CHESEK

Well, that was certainly the summer that was: the season of beach badges, clam shooters and Met meltdowns is barely a week old, but over at the Count Basie Theatre it’s a time to shut off the lights.

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Or all but one light, that is. The Basie adheres to the grand theatrical tradition of leaving on a ‘ghost light’ — a lone, bare bulb set in the center of the stage to ward off ghosts. And despite the disruption of the next four months, the tradition will continue, a Basie spokeswoman tells redbankgreen.

The landmark Red Bank auditorium isn’t going anywhere, of course — simply having a little work done, a procedure to stay taut and competitive with other newer, spiffier entertainment venues on the regional circuit.

But even though the boards of the legendary stage may lack for famous names over the next four months, the circa-1926 house will be one of the busiest places in town, as an army of artisans and tradespeople endeavor to bring the former Carlton Theatre up to its full potential, both in terms of decor and tech capabilities.

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BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR. COUNT

FabfauxThe Fab Faux put a faux finish on the Count Basie’s season of shows at Saturday’s sold-out fundraiser.

By TOM CHESEK

Heading into a four-month, multimillion-dollar refurbishing, the Count Basie Theatre pulls the plug on summer shows this weekend with a pair of classic-rock events.

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Veterans of the early 1970s soft wars, America overcame the mellow-harshing departure of key co-founder Dan Peek to forge a long-rolling career that’s remained harmonious where other honey-voiced contemporaries have yelled themselves hoarse. “Horse with No Name,” “Ventura Highway” and “Tin Man” are among its portfolio of supper-club standards.

With an attention-grabbing double-album in tow, the core twosome of Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell appear aided and abetted by such indie-cred rockers as James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins) and Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne). America performs tonight at 8p, with tix still available as of this posting.

All seats have been snapped up, though, for Saturday’s curtain closer, a benefit for the theatre’s general operating efforts, starring those most wondrous of WannaBeatles, The Fab Faux.

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BOATERS STILL CROWDING DOLPHINS

Dolphin_boatSome boats are zooming past the dolphins in the Shrewsbury River; this one idled near the pod this afternoon.

Boaters continue to navigate the Shrewsbury River without regard to the presence of a pod of stray dolphins in the waterway, people who’ve been observing the mammals say.

“You get these knuckleheads zooming through here,” says Sea Bright resident Andrew Mencinsky, whose home backs up on the river.

During a mid-afternoon visit today, redbankgreen saw three boats pass the pod about a quarter-mile north of McLoone’s Rum Runner restaurant. One idled to a near-stop on the Sea Bright side of the channel, but two others ran right through the area where the dolphins had been just seconds earlier. One was moving at a moderate speed, and another at high speed.

No law enforcement vessels were present at the time.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

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Last week’s ‘Where‘ was too dam easy for six readers.

They recognized it right away as the Shadow Lake spillway on Hubbard Avenue in the River Plaza section of Middletown.

If you don’t know it, the structure has the words ‘Shadow Lake’ embedded in it in tile.

Sue Noone, Pete DeFazio, Jenn Woods and the Colmorgens all knew it. Walter Cuje did, too; he tells us it’s the first place he ever caught a fish, 43 years ago. Michael McMahon says he used to take visitors out to see it.

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MORE CHARGES FOR WILKINS CASE SUSPECT

A north Jersey man already facing arson and insurance fraud charges with former Red Bank Middle School Principal Terrence Wilkins now faces additional allegations, the Star-Ledger reports.

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According to a new indictment by an Essex County grand jury, Kenyatta O’Bryant of North Plainfield, a 36-year-old counselor at Vailsburg Middle School, is now accused of arranging for his 2002 BMW 525i to be set on fire on April 13, 2006 in Weequahic Park in Newark.

The alleged torching of the car occurred six days before Newark police found the burning remains of a 2004 Acura TL leased by Wilkins. O’Bryant and Wilkins were indicted in April, with authorities alleging that Wilkins was trying to avoid $9,000 in mileage overages on the lease.

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ASTIN FAMILY VALUES IN HOLMDEL

Astin3_3John Astin, haunted by his famously macabre characterizations Gomez Addams and Edgar Allan Poe. The actor visits the area this week for a pair of special appearances. (Recent photo by David Colwell)

By TOM CHESEK

Who wouldn’t want to be Gomez Addams? Always looking your best, never bored, never having to work. Living a life centered around romance and hobbies in a houseful of strange creatures, explosives and drawers full of cash.

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As personified by John Astin in the classic 1960s sitcom The Addams Family, Gomez was a virile lover of both life and death — unflappable, full of savoir faire (Tish! You spoke French!), and a far different character than the sketchy, nameless little figure who appeared in the panel cartoons by Charles Addams. His performance was in fact the template for all Addams projects to follow — and it takes its rightful place in the canon of crazies from the never-duplicated universe of 1960s TV. It’s ight up there with Barney Fife, Granny Clampett, Batman, Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock.

With the old black-and-white episodes forever in reruns, Astin has lived the blessed/cursed existence of the actor who’s eternally pegged to a single gig, prosecuting a career that’s swung wildly from serious theater to such camp/cult touchstones as the Killer Tomatoes movies and his recurring role as Harry Anderson’s dotty dad on Night Court. There was also a 12-year marriage to fellow ’60s sitcom icon Patty Duke (Sean Astin of Lord of the Rings is his adopted son) and, beginning in the ’90s, a new career as a respected member of academia.

As director for the program in theatre arts and studies at Johns Hopkins University, Astin is largely responsible for a resurgence in the school’s performing arts. He’s further distinguished himself as a lecturer on literature, with a particular specialty in the life and works of one Edgar Allan Poe. He’s written a highly regarded essay on Poe’s little-known (but positively mindblowing) piece Eureka, and he’s toured the continent as the master of the macabre himself, with the one-man show Once Upon a Midnight — a presentation he’s brought to Monmouth University and to Holmdel in recent years.

Astin returns to the Holmdel Theatre Company‘s charming, comfortable and criminally underutilized Duncan Smith Playhouse — just minutes from Red Bank on Crawfords Corner Road, adjacent to Holmdel High School — for two very special personal appearances this weekend. Entitled An Evening with John Astin, it’s a program of “readings, storytelling, anecdotes and reflections on acting” that’s been custom-designed specifically for this occasion: as a benefit for the Holmdel troupe and its education and community programs.

The oRBit desk at redbankgreen caught up with the dynamic 78-year-old a few nights back for a lengthy discussion that touched upon topics ranging from presidential politics and the Stanislavsky Method to the art of slapstick and the proper way to jump off a horse.

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SUMMER SQUALL

Sea_bright_stormMoisture-laden clouds roll in over Sea Bright in this view from the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge Tuesday afternoon.

Isolated showers and thunderstorms are expected to continue into this evening.

Wednesday’s forecast, according to the National Weather Service: Sunny, with a high near 82.

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AFTER THIS, NO MORE FERRARI FETISH

Yes, Thorsten Veblen is surely rolling in his grave. But you know what? He’s been spinning for years. One more taste of the Hamilton Jewelers-sponsored fleet of Ferraris event in downtown Red Bank on Sunday isn’t going to significantly boost his RPMs.

Alright, we’re rationalizing. Still, the above video will be of interest to some, as evidenced by he turnout at the event it depicts. That’s good enough reason to post it.

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DOLPHIN ‘EXTRICATION’ PLANNED

Img_0888When the dolphins are out, “It’s just boats, boats, boats parked out there,” says Ruben Nagy of McLoone’s Rum Runner.

Amid rising concern about their safety, a pod of dolphins will be led out of the Shrewsbury River toward open water before the Independence Day holiday if they don’t leave on their own, redbankgreen has learned.

Bob Schoelkopf, director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, says federal and state marine agencies yesterday came up with a plan to “extricate” the dozen or more bottlenose dolphins out of concern that a flotilla of recreational vessels arriving for the holiday would seriously endanger them.

“Unfortunately, there’s a narrow window of opportunity,” Schoelkopf says. “We’re expecting 20,000 or so boats on the water [in the vicinity], so that’s a problem.”

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RIVERFRONT IDEA TO GET DEP SCRUTINY

Img_9323Volunteers working to clear the lot of debris at low tide earlier this month.

Hoping to head off bureaucratic problems later on, Red Bank officials have tabled a measure to preserve a borough owned lot fronting on the Navesink River at the foot of Maple Avenue.

Instead of acting on the proposal immediately, they’re hoping to get the state Department of Environmental Protection to greenlight the project, which would bar development of the property except as a facility from which to launch small watercraft such as kayaks and canoes.

“We thought it best to first set up a meeting with the DEP to see what they would allow” before voting on a resolution, proposed by boaters and environmentalists, that would designate the waterfront lot as open space, borough attorney Tom Hall said at last night’s council meeting.

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BIKERS FACING DOUBTS, AND MOUNTAINS

Img_1015Elmer Jackson, left, and his son, Jeff, on their arrival in Utah. (Photos by Tim Hathaway)Img_0978

Last week saw some ups and downs for Red Bank’s intrepid cross-country bikers, Elmer and Jeff Jackson.

Both father and son had some serious battles with uncertainty. But Jeff’s were more manifest: while Elmer was notching one day’s ride after another, Jeff spent almost as much time in the car with sagman/blogmeister Tim Hathaway as he did in the saddle.

At his doctor’s suggestion, Jeff had stopped taking a medication that made him sweat, and thus more prone to heat exhaustion. But coming off it left him lethargic.

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PICTURE RED BANK MINUS DORN’S PHOTOS

Img_0852The sign bears an icon resembling the Dorn’s Photo logo.

The business is gone now, and with it, the giant sign in the shape of an old-time bellowed camera. Condos are going up where Daniel Dorn Sr.’s camera and film shop used to be, on Wallace Street.

But the life and work of the lensman, whose movies and photographs documented life in Red Bank from the early 20th century, has been commemorated with a ceremonial renaming of the street to ‘Dorn Way.’

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DOLPHINS DRAW A CROWD

Dolphins1_irThe view Saturday as the dolphin pod frolicked near McLoone’s. (Photos by Colleen Curry)

By COLLEEN CURRY

Beachgoers were not the only ones invading the Jersey Shore this weekend, as a pod of bottlenose dolphins was seen swimming and jumping up and down the Shrewsbury and Navesink Rivers.

But authorities are concerned that gawkers in watercraft may get too close to the pod of deep-sea mammals.

“The juveniles in the pod have never before seen land, and the boats and jet-skis are very threatening to them,” Bob Schoelkopf of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine tells redbankgreen.

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CARVING OUT A PIECE OF THE LOST PAST

Img_0783Img_0745Rik van Hemmen, above, rough-hews a tulip tree log with a chain saw while Boris Kofman, left, begins shaping one end of what will become a canoe.

A giant tulip tree log that’s been lying on the ground outside the Red Bank Primary School for more than a year has begun its transformation into what local boating enthusiasts and historians hope will become a dugout canoe.

Rik van Hemmen of the Navesink Maritime Heritage Association is leading an effort to build the vessel the way Native Americans are believed to have made theirs in the days of pre-colonial America: by using controlled burning to create a lightweight but sturdy shell.

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