RBR JOINS RANKS OF CLASS RANK OPT-OUTS

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Students from Red Bank Regional will soon have the option of leaving their class ranking off college applications under a measure approved last night by the school’s board, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

From the story:

Red Bank Regional follows the lead of about 32 high schools in the state, which either don’t report rank on student transcripts or make it optional.

Red Bank Catholic High School and Middletown High Schools North and South offer the choice, [Superintendent Edward] Westervelt said.

“Our experience learning from Red Bank Catholic is that we’ll have four to five kids who send their rank, who are in the top 10,” he said.

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NOAA: LET DOLPHINS BE WILD DOLPHINS

Nav2largeA dolphin exhibited a feeding behavior dubbed “mouth open” in the Shrewsbury on Tuesday. (NOAA photo)

Marine scientists remain convinced that the 12 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins still in the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers six months after their arrival are neither wayward nor trapped, and in fact are healthy, unstressed and able to survive the winter in inland coastal waters.

A panel of nine experts in dolphin health, behavior and acoustics told callers in a telephone seminar Wednesday night that there was no evidence that noise from the rebuilding of the Highlands-Sea Bright Bridge was deterring the dolphins from making a run beneath it for Sandy Hook Bay.

They also sought to quell fears that a freeze of the rivers would mean an inevitable death sentence for the coastal bottlenose dolphins.

“We’re letting these dolphins be wild dolphins,” said Teri Rowles, lead veterinarian for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration‘s Fisheries Service, adding that it would not be surprising for the dolphins to stay all winter and even for a full year.

“They may become frequent residents of that area,” she said. “We are not as an agency trying to limit the habitat of the recovering coastal bottlenose dolphins.”

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HOVNANIAN POSTS NINTH LOSING QUARTER

HovHOV HQ on West Front Street, Red Bank.

A near stoppage in mortgage lending drove Hovnanian Enterprises to its ninth consecutive quarterly loss in the period ending October 31, the Red Bank-based homebuilder reported yesterday.

According to Bloomberg, the loss was more than three times the deficit that analysts had expected.

For Hovnanian and its shareholders, the upside was that the latest loss, at $450.5 million, or $5.79 a share, was smaller than the $466.6 million, or $7.42 a share, deficit of the comparable year-prior period.

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ON THE SQUAWK BOX: DOLPHINS’ FATE

Dolphins4Dolphins in the upper Shrewsbury in late June, shortly after their arrival.

Amid concern that a pod of dolphins may be imperiled by by falling temperatures in the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers, federal marine officials have scheduled a conference call “seminar” for this evening in which the public may ask questions.

During the two-hour event, scheduled for 6:30p, a panel of scientists regularly consulted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which has jurisdiction over the animals, will give short presentations on the dolphins’ behavior, condition and numbers.

According to a press release, the experts will also report on the results of an acoustic study in the Shrewsbury that was initiated in response to concerns that loud noise from construction work on the Highlands Sea Bright bridge might be keeping the dolphins from swimming past the site to Sandy Hook Bay and out to sea.

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MORNING RAIN, WARMER TEMPS EXPECTED

WindshieldFhflakesTuesday’s cold rain, seen through a windshield on Red Bank’s Tilton Avenue, turned into big wet flakes, as seen on River Road in Fair Haven. (Click to enlarge)

Yesterday’s mix of rain and snow has given way to rain again. But it should relent later today as temperatures hover in the low-to-mid 40s, according to the National Weather Service:

Today: Rain or drizzle likely before noon, then a chance for drizzle before ending. Cloudy, with a high near 46. East wind 5 to 11 mph becoming west. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

Tonight: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 32. Northwest wind between 7 and 9 mph.

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CHILLY AND RAINY FORECAST

Img_5494After a day of shirtsleeve weather Monday, it’s back to late fall-early winter temperatures today.

Red Bank stores and restaurants had their doors thrown open Monday as pedestrians enjoyed temperatures north of 60 degrees.

The brief taste of unseasonable warmth is over, though, according to the local forecast by the National Weather Service.

Today: Rain, mainly after 1pm. High near 39. North wind between 10 and 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Tonight: Rain, snow, and sleet before 10pm, then rain, possibly mixed with sleet between 10pm and 2am, then rain after 2am. Low around 34. East wind between 6 and 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Wednesday: Rain likely, mainly before noon. Cloudy, with a high near 46. North wind between 5 and 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

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FRAUD ALLEGED ON CONDOS; NOW WHAT?

UnionhousevillageThe exterior is just about finished at Union Street Village. But as indicated by the’ sample’ list of residents in the intercom, the eight condo units as well as a commercial space remain vacant.

News that three players in Red Bank’s Union Street Village have been indicted for fraud leaves Red Bank facing a key question:

Will the project, which has already sat idle for almost two years, become a long-term white elephant now that the real estate market is plunging?

Intercom

A Monmouth County Grand Jury last week indicted a Middletown building contractor, his fiancé and an Edison woman on charges of theft by deception and forgery in connection with what authorities say was a diversion of more than $2 million from the partnership that owned the site, at the corner of Union Street and Wharf Avenue.

The victims: Patricia and Neil Malloy, the longtime owners of the Olde Union House restaurant, which the condo project replaced.

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RED BANK POLICE LOG

Unedited entries from the desk log of the Red Bank Police Department for the week of December 5 through 12.

Theft occurring on 12-6-08 in the area of White Street. Victim reported that unknown person(s) stole her brown leather purse which was hanging on a concrete post. Purse was later located in parking lot by victim minus cash and gift cards which had been inside of purse. Ptl. Paul Perez.

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Criminal Mischief occurring on 12-6-08 at English Plaza Parking Lot. Victim reported that unknown person(s) had deliberately torn off the driver’s side mirror on outside of vehicle Ptl. Patrick Kennedy.

Criminal Mischief occurring on 12-7-08 at Monmouth St. Report of a window in a business being smashed out by a brick. Entry was not gained. Ptl. Michael Campanella.

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DON’T LET THIS BANK FAIL

It’s hitting the gut now.

The spreading economic crisis is leaving tens of millions of Americans facing the prospect of hunger as they contend with diminished earnings or joblessness and worse.

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According to one estimate, more than 35 million Americans lived in households that struggled to feed themselves in 2007; the toll this year is expected to be worse. Next year, worse still.

In New Jersey, an estimated 250,000 new clients are expected to seek help this year from food banks. And the need isn’t coming only from the inner cities. Now, even affluent suburbs are being affected.

But even as requests for assistance have risen, donations have been on the decline, leaving food bank shelves almost empty and hungry families waiting for something to eat.

“In all the years I’ve been doing this, there have been times we didn’t have money, but we had food,” says Kathleen DiChiara, founder of the Community Food Bank of New Jersey,” a wholesale distributor of food to more than 1,600 charities throughout the state. Now, she estimates the food banks inventory is down “at least 30 percent,” even as demand is up 25 percent.

So those who feed the hungriest of their neighbors are reaching out with a special appeal for donations of food and cash to help. An information blitz includes the above video, full-page ads featuring longtime food bank supporter Bruce Springsteen, and articles and essays appearing today in 103 hyperlocal news sites (that’s what we call redbankgreen) and blogs across New Jersey.

The message: a crisis of domestic hunger is looming.

“This is not going to go away after the holidays,” says DiChiara. “We need to have food drives that are going to stretch out throughout the year.”

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ZONING BOARD: TAKE ME TO THE RIVER

Navesink_bankstA view of the Navesink from Bank Street.

Thanks largely to a YouTube video recorded by a Bank Street resident, a condo plan approved recently by the Red Bank zoning board will have to provide clearly marked public access to the Navesink River.

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IN oRBit: 30+ YEARS ON THE EDGE OF CHAOS

Fleshtones

Hard to believe, but the Fleshtones — one of the best practitioners of “a genre that we invented ourselves,” according to frontman Peter Zaremba — have been at it for more than three decades, wreaking musical havoc on stages the world over.

It’s a sound that mashes cheesy-organ garage, punk and R&B in a tumbling frat party of hooky near-anarchy that more than occasionally overtakes the audience.

The Fleshtones bring their well-traveled act to a legendary punk pit, Long Branch’s Brighton Bar, Saturday night, topping a bill that also features the Bangs and the Brimstones.

Full details only in today’s edition of Red Bank oRBIt, daddy-o.

And tomorrow in oRBit: An old Kink in Asbury, and some new wrinkles on the Christmas template all around the Orb.

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FAIR HAVEN’S TIN CUP RATTLES BIZ OWNERS

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Concerns about an effort to drum up funds for a Fair Haven government employees’ holiday party prompted Borough Administrator Mary Howell to issue a letter telling business owners there are no repercussions for declining to contribute.

Because of “miscommunicated” information, “some business owners are under the impression that there would be negative consequences if donations were not provided,” Howell wrote to the Fair Haven Business Association last Friday. “That is simply not the case.” (Click letter above to enlarge.)

Howell writes that for the past two holiday seasons, the borough has solicited contributions for staffers …

to express appreciation for their work and dedication throughout the year. In light of the fact that the Borough cannot finance such an endeavor, we reached out to local businesses to ask for possible donations of their services as gift certificates and the like if they were so inclined.

Unfortunately this request has been miscommunicated.

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A SUNNY WEEKEND, BUT FIRST…

Rain_2What turned out to be a 15-minute cloudburst rolled south toward Red Bank late Wednesday afternoon in this view from the foot of Maple Avenue.

We’re in for a soggy day and a half or so before the sun comes out again, says the National Weather Service. Here’s the forecast:

Today: Rain. High near 47. Northeast wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between one and two inches possible.

Tonight: Rain. Low around 38. Breezy, with a southeast wind 11 to 21 mph becoming northeast. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between one and two inches possible.

Friday: Rain showers likely, mainly before 11am. Cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high near 41. North wind between 15 and 17 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

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A DOZEN SORTA-SINATRAS, IN oRBit

Noworbiting_iconSinatrastamp

He’d be 93 years young this Friday, the Chairman of the Board. Alas, Hoboken’s most famous export died a decade ago.

But a dozen singers will honor Frank Sinatra that night by interpreting many of the tunes he made famous, and will do so on a stage named in honor of one of his favorite collaborators: William ‘Count’ Basie.

Among those lending their pipes to the tribute: an Army major just back from Afghanistan, an auto mechanic who’s never performed in front of a real audience before, a father-son combo, a young aspiring actress and a well-known Jersey shore rocker.

This Ocean’s 12 lineup has been pulled together by Red Bank bandleader Joe Muccioli, who’ll front a 17-piece orchestra (and who turned down an invite to lead Frank Sinatra Jr.’s band the same night in Atlantic City).

Today’s Red Bank oRBit has all the details, plus an interview with Mooch on the whys and wherefores of today’s American jazz scene.

Who loves ya, baby? oRBit, that’s who.

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SCENES FROM THE BLACKOUT, 12.09.08

Img_536472Customers waited out the outage by candlelight at the Broadway Diner. (Click to enlarge)

Donna Natale of Sea Bright was in the Shrewsbury Car Wash when the power went out ever so briefly early Tuesday night.

It came right back on, but then went out again as Natale and her sparkling vehicle emerged into a world missing a large share of its usual blast of candlepower.

So she decided to head to downtown Red Bank to experience what she could of what turned out to be the Most-of-Monmouth-County-Blackout of 2008.

There, she found herself among the sidewalk passersby being entertained by Frank Bressi, on guitar, and Matt Keppler, on upright bass, who also came into town, thinking it a fine occasion to pitch their original tunes on Broad Street.

“This is like the Titanic,” laughed Natale. “They just keep playing.”

All over town, at Red, at the Dublin House, at the Broadway Diner, people went about their business, only now with a narrower focus: the power outage, what had caused it and, most importantly, how long it might last.

The answer, depending on location, was roughly 90 minutes. Here are some views of what went on in the interim.

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SICKELS: RESPONSE TO OUTAGE ‘EXCELLENT’

Img_534272_3Volunteer firefighters and first aid squad members stood by at the Liberty Hose firehouse on White Street during the widespread power outage Tuesday evening. (Click to enlarge)

Burglar and fire alarms went off all over town, prompting the police chief to keep one shift working past quitting time and call in additional personnel to deal with the obvious emergency.

Traffic at major intersections was moderately chaotic, until fire police arrived to direct vehicles, and workers from the public works department deployed barricades and temporary four-way stop signs at major crossroads.

Two men were briefly trapped at the second story in elevators — one at the Red Bank Middle School, the other at the Riverside Towers high-rise — before being rescued by firefighters.

The blackout of 2008 turned out to be far less than it might have been. Temperatures were moderate, in the low 50s. And at just over 90 minutes for much of Red Bank, it was nothing like the hellish five-day series of outages and brownouts that followed a transformer fire near Newman Springs Road in early July, 1999, a period in which temperatures soared close to 100 degrees.

But Tuesday night’s outage served as a good test for emergency response personnel, and the performance was “excellent,” according to Fire Marshal Stanley Sickels.

Elevatorelvis_2Custodian Elvis Ventura was all smiles as he emerged from the elevator in which he was briefly trapped at the Red Bank Middle School.

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HEAD START BACKERS ANGLE FOR BUILDING

KolberGeorge Kolber speaks; Councilman Art Murphy listens.

Throwing a possible speed bump in the path of the Boys and Girls Club of Monmouth County, the owners of the recently repurposed former PS 5 on Drs. James Parker Boulevard last night asked the Red Bank Council not to turn the borough-owned building next door into a community center.

At just 4,800 square feet, the building cannot reasonably accommodate all the programs that the Boys and Girls Club — the leading contender to run such a center — has proposed installing there, they said.

Moreover, the location, at the busy corner of Bridge Avenue, with no parking available, makes the facility untenable for that use, George Kolber and Mike Simpson said.

Instead, Kolber and Simpson want to buy the structure, which has been vacant for more than a year, and turn it into a home for an oversubscribed Head Start program now based nearby at Calvary Baptist Church Mt. Zion House of Prayer on Catherine Street.

“A community center, while well-intended, is not the best use of this property,” said Kolber, a Middletown resident.

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EXPERTS TO PLAN FOR MASS STRANDING

Dolphins120608Dolphins in the Shrewsbury River on Saturday, as seen from the Highlands side. (Photo courtesy of Robin Dowd)

The Associated Press reports that federal wildlife experts will confer this week about what to do if the remaining dolphins plying the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers strand themselves.

The meeting will include officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the federal agency with jurisdiction over the animals, and the nonprofit Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine.

Stranding center founder Bob Schoelkopf has been advocating that NOAA take action to prevent the 12 remaining Atlantic bottlenose doplhins from becoming trapped under ice in inland waters.

But NOAA scientists concluded in October that trying to drive or lure the animals out to sea was impractical and dangerous. Moreover, they said the dolphins may be able to survive icy conditions short of a solid freeze-over, which would likely kill them.

Now, though, it appears that NOAA is preparing for another type of crisis: a mass stranding. From the AP story:

“We’re pretty confident about what to do if it’s just one” that beaches itself on the riverbank or in shallows, said Teri Frady, a spokeswoman for NOAA, which has jurisdiction over the animals. “But a mass stranding requires more preparation and resources.”

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ANGRY CABBIES FIGHT CITY HALL, AND WIN

CabbiesIn a show of hands, cab drivers signal their opposition to a proposed increase in the number of taxi licenses.

A proposed ordinance that would have boosted the number of taxi licenses in Red Bank to 55, from 45, was dumped at the curb last night amid questions about how it came up in the first place.

More than a dozen hack drivers and owners turned out for the borough council’s bimonthly meeting to oppose the plan. They said it would dilute their earnings at a time when business is already falling sharply.

“We have so many cars out there, we could probably do with 10 less,” Gary Damanti, owner of the Yellow Cab company, with seven licenses, told the council.

The council unanimously agreed to kill the ordinance, which also would have boosted the annual renewal fee per license to $200, from the current $150.

But at least two members of the governing body were curious about where the idea to increase the number of licenses originated — though neither had raised no such questions when the ordinance was introduced two weeks ago. Cab owners said they only learned about the proposal after it was well on its way toward a possible quiet adoption.

“I found out about this 36 hours ago,” single-license owner Paul Kulha told redbankgreen. “This is my livelihood. Ridiculous.”

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REMAINS OF A MORTUARY

RiverviewrubbleFollowing through on plans reported on by redbankgreen in October, Riverview Medical Center has demolished the former Worden-Hoidal Funeral Home on East Front Street, opposite the hospital.

Officials at the medical center, which paid $2.3 for the site in July, said they had no immediate plans for the property.

This view is from the Globe Court parking deck.

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HYDRANT TESTING IN FAIR HAVEN

Drip

Fair Haven is advising residents at the western end of the borough that water pressure to their homes may drop this morning as Red Bank, which supplies water to those users, tests two new hydrants on Cambridge Avenue.

The testing, which may also result in discoloration of water, is scheduled to begin at 9a and completed by noon, according to an announcement by the governments of the two towns.

If discoloration does occur, users are advised to let tap water run a sufficient time to clear.

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IN oRBIT: THE FOUNTAIN OF FROG & TOAD

Noworbiting_iconJacksonheadshot

The Two River Theater Co. brings a children’s favorite, ‘A Year with Frog and Toad,’ to life starting this week for a run through the holiday-season.

A family-oriented production with an engaging scene set on Christmas Eve, the musical comes to Red Bank for a month-long run that begins Saturday night, after previews this week, and offers a merry mix of matinee and evening performances well into the new year.

Red Bank oRBit has the scoop on the production, directed by Jackson Gay, above.

Also in oRBIt, an interview with author Beth Teitell on how far to go to avoid looking more and more reptilian as you age.

The longtime contributor to the Washington Post, Huffington Post and public radio’s Marketplace this fall published ‘Drinking Problems at the Fountain of Youth,’ her humorously framed yet exhaustively researched look at the subject of aging, and the lengths that we go to deny it. Teitell will speak and sign books at David Burke Fromagerie in Rumson tomorrow night.

Read Red Bank oRBit — It’s just the tonic to keep you young, or at least feeling that way.

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BECK CHOSEN FOR LEADERSHIP THINK TANK

J_beck_on_tv_110607State Senator Jennifer Beck is about to add a new line or two to her résumé.

Twelfth-district state Senator Jennifer Beck has been awarded a fellowship by the Aspen Institute, where elected officials study the values and principles underlying democracy, the think tank announced last week.

Meantime, the Asbury Park Press has a feature story today about an Ocean County resident’s web efforts to get the Republican party to nominate the first-termer from Red Bank as its candidate for the post of lieutenant governor, a job that takes effect in little more than a year.

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