RunningGirls in the limited-enrollment program for three- and four-year-olds holding hands as they run outside the Red Bank Middle School this week. Below, kids lined up for the start of playtime. (Click to enlarge)


March 12 is double-decision day for Red Bank’s schools.

That’s the borough district and others learn just how much state money is coming their way, and thus, whether they can count on taxes going up, down or sideways.

But it’s also the day that borough Superintendent Laura Morana expects to hear whether she can move ahead with plans to expand Red Bank’s full-day preschool program.

A program for 3-year-olds started in September with one class of 15 children. Because of space constraints at the primary school, the preschool class is housed in the middle school.

If aid for the program expansion is approved, there will be room for four classes of 3-year-olds – for a total of 60 students – in the fall, Morana says.

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Specials are common at the Milagro Spa, but most feature an exotic indulgence: ‘aromatic sugar scrubs,’  ‘stonecrop body wraps’ and ‘facial tea tree oil waxings,’ to name a few.

An event scheduled for Monday, March 2, is special for an entirely different reason: workers at Milagro will be donating everything they earn from 4p to 9p – tips included – to a co-worker in need.

The proceeds will go to Tracy Loessel, a Milagro nail technician and single mother of two who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 blood and bone cancer.

“Every single penny is going to her,” says Danielle DeFalco, a Milagro customer service representative who is helping to organize the event. “Five hours of time is the least we can do.”

The special event, called “Triumph for Tracy,” will also include auctions of a variety of prizes, from singing and art lessons to a bicycle and tickets to a Broadway play.

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Meter1It wasn't hard to find visitors pumping coins into meters in Red Bank's White Street lot at lunchtime last Saturday. Above, Nicole Collman of Manalapan, left, with Rebecca Route of Jamesburg.

With some fanfare, Mayor Pasquale Menna announced at last month's 'Economic Summit' that parking in downtown Red Bank would be free on Saturdays and Sundays for the rest of 2009.

Meters4Never mind that it was already free on Sundays. The move to free slottage on the busiest shopping day of the week was welcomed by merchants as a small but significant move to make the town more competitive in a tough economy.

But one month after the meter moratorium was imposed, visitors to town are still feeding the meters on Saturdays. And some of them want to know why no one told them don't have to.

"Oh, that stinks," said Mirelynne Meiser of East Brunswick, when informed she'd just unnecessarily put six quarters into a meter. "That really stinks."

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NorthingtonRev. D. Crist Northington, pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church, speaks at shooting victim Sidney Wakefield’s funeral Thursday.

A funeral service for 26-year-old Sidney Wakefield, one of two men shot to death on Red Bank’s West Side earlier this month, was by turns solemn and joyful yesterday.

“I wish we could say this is something that’s totally unexpected, but we know where we live,” Horace Jackson, of Orange, told the crowd that filled the Calvary Baptist Church on Bridge Avenue for his youngest brother’s funeral.

“But it’s not the police’s job to regulate crime in our neighborhoods — it’s ours. Sooner or later, we have to start to take better care of each other.”

Wakefield funeral copy

Horace Jackson, center, remembers his slain brother, depicted at left on a button and at right in the memorial program. (Click to enlarge)

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Money (full column)

Somehow, for the entirety of its 96-year existence, Fair Haven — a town with more than its share of Wall Street workers among its 6,000 or so residents — has managed to get by without having to go to the bond market.

Which isn’t to say it hasn’t rung up debt. In fact, even as some of his ferry-riding neighbors were singing the praises of the borough’s fiscal health a few years back, then-mayoral candidate Mike Halfacre was complaining that the cost of debt service on short-term borrowing was eating up nearly a third of the annual budget.

But after two years of what Halfacre characterizes as relentless belt-tightening, the borough is making its first trip to Wall Street next week with a $6.3 million portfolio of paper to sell.

And it’s doing so in the shiny new shoes of an AA+ rating from Standard and Poor’s, which puts the town in the elite company of only about 26 of New Jersey’s 566 municipalities.

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Pringle_and_hall_2_72307Borough Attorney Ken Pringle, left, and partner Tom Hall at a Red Bank council meeting in July, 2007.

Because of questions raised by government watchdog Steve Fitzpatrick, the Red Bank Council has taken Pringle, Quinn & Anzana, its contracted law firm, off “the long-festering” case of 51 Monmouth Street, in the words of Mayor Pasquale Menna.

In place of firm attorneys Ken Pringle and Tom Hall, the council earlier this week named attorney John Bonnello of Mann & Bonello in Long Branch to handle the work. He’ll be paid the same hourly rate the Pringle firm was getting, said Menna.

Hall has been looking into the terms of the $1 transaction in which Kids Bridge, a precursor to the Community YMCA‘s Children’s Cultural Center, bought the longtime borough hall at 51 Monmouth Street in 2000.

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Remember when you could only see a live show by Celine Dion by traveling to

Well, Red Bank has its very own “destination” act, the kind in which the fans do the touring and performers stay put. We’re talking about the Jersey Shore Rock ‘N Soul Revue, which plays nowhere other than the Count Basie Theatre.  Anyone who’s interested in seeing and hearing it shouldn’t wait for it to come around to their neck of the woods, but make the pilgrimage to that glittering Monmouth Street venue.

We all know bandleader Bobby Bandiera for his work with Bon Jovi, the Boss and
the Jukes, but his hi-concept shows with the Revue are genuine events.

Bandiera took the time to speak with Red Bank oRBit as he preps for his
latest thematic special on Saturday, a salute to “brother acts” called BANDS

It’s a show that you won’t see anywhere else but Red Bank — and a story
you’ll read nowhere else but in Red Bank oRBit.

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RoofersRoofers atop a house on Branch Avenue in Red Bank take it down to the wood yesterday under clear, crisp skies.

Looks like we’ll get just a hint of spring today.

Here’s the National Weather Service forecast for our area:

Today: Partly sunny, with a high near 50. South wind between 6 and 9 mph.

Tonight: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 38. South wind between 8 and 11 mph.

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Chez Max 2009-35

Location: Max Bernstein's home in Fair Haven.

Occasion: Bernstein's annual Fat Tuesday party, a come-what-may affair that this year featured a live band in the living room; a guest appearance by Elvis; tarot readings; an aerialist's performance in the chilly backyard; and enough gumbo to float a shrimp trawler.

That's Bernstein in the porkpie hat below; Red Bankers of long standing will recognize him as the proprietor of Inheritance Gallery on Monmouth Street, next door to the Dublin House.

redbankgreen readers may also recognize the aerialist, MelissaMarie Wilhelm, whom we featured back in December when she gave a demonstration of her work to kids in Shrewsbury.

Bernstein Tarot


(Photos courtesy of McKay Imaging)

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SharmaThe shelves of Sunny Sharma's business, once stocked with hard liquor, now carry shaving cream and snacks. Milk and eggs have replaced beer as the products featured on the door. 

Sunny Sharma says he can't catch a break.

It's not a new feeling, certainly. Over the last couple of years, as he battled his Leighton Avenue neighbors and the Red Bank Council in a failed bid to keep his liquor license, Sharma says he's grown accustomed to being treated like a pariah. 

Best DeliBut with the war lost just a month ago and all the booze packed up and shipped out, he had hoped he could quietly turn his attention to the future and start recouping some of the hundreds of thousands of dollars that went toward legal fees, not to mention the equity that went up in smoke with the loss of the license.

His plan: turn Best Liquors & Food Mart into Best Deli & Food Mart. Build up a clientele by accepting food stamps for milk, bread and other staples, and supplement revenue by firing up a grill that was used at the store long before he bought the business five years ago.

Already, though, his plan has hit a speedbump, and he smells a rat.

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So what’s a Momix Remix?

It’s a look back at more than 25 years worth of
invention from the atelier of celebrated choreographer Moses Pendleton and his Momix Dance Theater company.

A Momix performance finds human bodies exploring new and surprising ways to
move and bend, as they discover what it’s like to experience the world as an
insect, a reptile, or a baseball.

Red Bank oRBit interviewed the self-described “avant gardener” in advance of Friday’s Momix show at the Count Basie.

What does this master illusionist do to “put a little polish on the old third eye?” Does he really only perform for fish?

The answers, friends, only in oRBit

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Entries from the Red Bank Police Department blotter for the week of February 13 to February 20, 2009. This information appears here unedited.

Shoplifting occurring on 2-13-09 at Broad St. Victim reported unknown subject shoplifted two packages of a dietary supplement. Ptl. Ashon Lovick.

Theft occurring between the dates of 2-13-09 and 21-14-09 at Spring St. Victim reported that unknown person(s) stole a laptop, make HP from the chair inside his room. Ptl. Thomas Doremus.

Theft occurring on W. Front St. on 2-14-09. Victim reported that unknown subject(s) stole her purse from table. Purse was metallic silver in color and contained, cash, debit card, LG Cell Phone and I.D. Ptl. Matthew Ehrenreich.

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FHPD Borough police would continue to have at least two officers on patrol, even when the police station is unstaffed, officials said.


There would be workshifts during which there are no live bodies inside the Fair Haven Police Headquarters if the borough decides to hook up with neighboring Little Silver for emergency dispatch services.

But to keep a much-heralded small-town feeling, a trained dispatcher who is familiar with  Fair Haven’s thoroughfares would be stationed at Little Silver's police headquarters round-the-clock to direct responses to emergency calls, officials from both towns promised constituents at Monday night's Fair Haven Council meeting.

Under Little Silver's proposed three-year contract, it would provide dispatch services to its neighbor to the north for $42,000 annually. All 911 calls originating from Fair Haven would continue to go to the centralized Monmouth County Communications Center in Freehold — just as they now do, said Mayor Mike Halfacre. 

The only difference is that those calls would then be routed to Little Silver's emergency service operators, rather than Fair Haven PD.

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A Keansburg man has been charged with attempted robbery for his alleged attempt to rob a Red Bank liquor store at knifepoint in 2007.

Police blotter (small)

Capt. Steve McCarthy tells redbankgreen that borough police had been on the lookout for Nicholas Cournoyer, now 26 years old, since shortly after the June 14, 2007 robbery try at Red Bank Liquors on West Street.

In that incident, reported at 6:11p, Cournoyer is alleged to have passed a note to the store clerk demanding money and threatening to shoot him if he didn’t comply. The suspect then drew a large knife and displayed it, McCarthy says.

The store clerk retreated to the back of the store and the suspect fled without any money, he says.

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4waystopThe view north along Bridge Avenue at Chestnut Street. Soon, motorists on Bridge will have to come to a full stop, as those on Chestnut already do.

A couple of updates on traffic matters here in hububby Red Bank:

Capt. Darren McConnell, who heads the police department’s traffic safety division, tells redbankgreen the signs are up for the long-awaited four-way stop at the intersection of Bridge Avenue and Chestnut Street.

Now, borough workers are waiting for the weather to allow them to paint the appropriate markings on the asphalt and uncover the wrapped signs.

“We need a few days of a 45 to 50-degree trend,” McConnell says.

Police plan to place electronic message boards on north- and southbound Bridge alerting motorists to the coming change, he says. The signs will remain for several weeks.

Also coming soon: the state Department of Transportation is scheduled to start work March 9 on the installation of a traffic light and other improvements to the intersection of Maple Avenue (Route 35 north) at Water and White Streets.

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Noble prownCommunity center proponents Peter Noble, president of the Red Bank Board of Ed, and David Prown after Monday's borough council session, which ran for almost three hours, as suggested by the clock in the background.

After nearly three months of relative silence, borough officials reopened discussion last night on whether Red Bank should create a community center for adolescents and teens.

This time, there was more talk than in the past about the need for a swimming pool and gymnasium, two elements that officials acknowledge may be far beyond the ability of taxpayers to support.

Though the question of how to proceed dominated what turned out to be a nearly three-hour-long meeting, no decision was reached.

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It’s one of the more
popular concepts to emerge from the promotion-concocting labs of Red Bank RiverCenter: the spring Dine Downtown promotion, going on every Tuesday and Wednesday evening in March at a select group of
eateries around town.

A total of 18 restaurants will be offering special Prix Fixe menus
ranging from $15 to $30 per person — a few of them, including Mike Bitici’s
new Torcello (pictured), joining in on the offer for the first time.

It’s a Red Bank Recession Buster, as our hyperbole-spouting oRBit editor is
wont to exclaim. A full rundown of the participating dining spots — with links,
pricing info and commentary from our oRBites feature — appears today, only
in Red Bank oRBit.

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GilsonChubby’s owner Mike Gilson pleaded his case, but got little sympathy from the governing body, including Council President Art Murphy, below.


First, there was the October 2007 donnybrook outside Chubby’s Waterside Café that took cops from several towns to quell and injured one officer.

Last week, police disclosed yesterday, were three nearly simultaneous fights resulting in one teen getting knocked unconscious and another stabbed in a leg as they left the bar.

And in between, officials disclosed last night, was a yearlong stretch in which Red Bank police responded to more than 60 incidents at the bar.

So when owner Mike Gilson pleaded with the borough council last night not to ban so-called ‘college nights’ that are a staple of his business, he had a challenge on his hands.

“We’re not in the business of putting people out of business,” said borough Council President Art Murphy, who’s the governing body’s liaison to the police department. But “it’s out of control.”

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Call in the authorities
Good one from the annals of amusing crime stories courtesy of the Asbury Park Press:

SHREWSBURY — A Red Bank man walked into a department store, asked a cashier for a pen, then used it to write a holdup note, police said.

Eric Greene, 23, of West Bergen Place, fled from the Marshalls store with a bag of cash, but with help from police in two other communities, he was taken into custody about 5 1/2 hours later, authorities said.

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Chubby'sBorough officials have an ordinance on tonight’s agenda to limit so-called ‘college nights’ like the one that resulted in last week’s violence.

Three separate incidents of violence involving patrons of Chubby’s Waterside Café had Red Bank police scrambling early last Friday morning.

Capt. Steve McCarthy says while police were responding to reports of a “large fight” among patrons of the club in a nearby parking lot, altercations broke out inside and just outside the bar, which was hosting an ’18 to enter, 21 to drink’ college night.

One man was knocked unconscious and another was stabbed in the leg, both in the English Plaza parking lot opposite the West Front Street bar.

The unconscious man, an 18-year-old Middletown resident, refused treatment after coming to. The stabbing victim, 19, was treated at Riverview Medical Center and released shortly afterward.

Their assailant or assailants had fled by the time police arrived on the scene shortly after the 1:21a call, McCarthy says.

Meantime, two other fights broke out while police were on the scene, McCarthy says.

The incidents come some 16 months after a melee outside Chubby’s that required law enforcement backup from several nearby towns to quell and left one officer injured.

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IMG_629872 The spending plan funds a primary and and a middle school, and kicks in support for the Red Bank Charter School.


Though the final funding amounts are not yet in from the state, Red Bank Schools Superintendent Laura Morana says she’s hopeful she can deliver a budget that contains no tax increase.

“The goal is always not to have an increase in the tax levy,” Morana said during a monthly meeting with the local media last week. “Hopefully we will be able to reach that goal.”

Last year’s $15.82 million spending plan included a penny increase per $100 of assessed property value – about $40 more for the owner of a home assessed at the borough-average $406,627.

The tax levy has increased for each of the last four school years.

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CarpentersAntonio Godinho, an official with the Residential Carpenters Local 119 in Edison, hands out fliers in front of Clearview Cinemas on White Street Saturday objecting to what he says is the hiring of out-of-state carpenters by Clearview on a project in Hoboken.

The leafletting effort was replicated at the movie chain’s venues elsewhere in New Jersey, he said. In a statement, Beth Simpson, a spokeswoman for Clearview, which is owned by Cablevision Systems, said the general contractor for the Hoboken project “equally considers both union and non-union subcontractors.”

In the background are John Sorensen and Curtis Corral of Carpenters Local 2250 in Red Bank.

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Where do you go to track the movements of your favorite superstar poets?
Why, Red Bank oRBit, natch.

Today on our sib site for arts and entertainment info, you’ll find a
mention of Maya Angelou and her lecture appearance this Wednesday at
Brookdale Community College — an event that is, sorry to say, completely
sold out.

But there’s still time to catch Monmouth County’s own Robert Pinsky — the acclaimed former Poet Laureate of the nation — in an upcoming
appearance at Monmouth University.

You’ll also find an update on some new
projects and upcoming local appearances by Rock Wilk, the subway-haunting
street poet and multimedia musician we introduced you to last summer.

Only in oRBit, verse fans, only in oRBit

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CluckmeEmergency workers take crash victim Michael Maxted to a waiting ambulance.

A 22-year-old Red Bank man was injured late Friday afternoon when an SUV crashed through the facade of the Cluck U Chicken fast food business on Water Street.

Michael Maxted, who was inside the store when the black Chevy Suburban plowed through the entrance, was taken to Riverview Medical Center with cuts and other non-life-threatening injuries.

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