BASIE: THE SHOW MUST GO ON

steve-winwood_12658297866551Schools, businesses and government offices throughout the Red Bank region are closed, and even the New York Times sheepishly informed its subscribers not to expect today’s newspaper before tomorrow.

But the Steve Winwood show at the Count Basie Theatre is still on for tonight.

Huh?

That’s right: even with forecasts of severe weather” and warnings to motorists that they stay off the road, the show is going on. Or was, as of 2:45p.

“We have a policy that when the artist shows up, unless the artist cancels it, the show must go on,” says theater spokeswoman Diana St. John.

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ACCUSATIONS FLY AT SIMS TRIAL

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The trial of alleged Montgomery Terrace shooter Anthony Sims got underway in Freehold last week, and going by the coverage in the Asbury Park Press, it sounds like a trashfest:

Who dissed whose mother.  Whose mother is a crackhead. Who boasted membership in a gang that he may not have had.

Sims, 21, of Eatontown, is accused of shooting brothers Anthony and Brandon Graves, and firing at but missing a third man, in a dispute at the Montgomery Terrace public housing complex on Red Bank’s West Side shortly before midnight on November 26, 2007. Sims’ girlfriend lived in the complex.

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IN oRBit: POSNER, TWO RIVER PART WAYS

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In a surprise announcement made just hours before the first preview of their new production Barefoot in the Park, Red Bank’s Two River Theater Company dislcosed that its dynamic artistic director, Aaron Posner, is departing the company when his contract expires at the end of the current stage season.

In a statement that you’ll read first on Red Bank oRBit, the TRTC board praises Posner for having “made huge strides in increasing the national profile of the theater,” while emphasizing that “it is equally important… to strengthen our presence in this community.” And, while it’s likely that today’s Snowmageddon sequel will force the cancellation of this evening’s preview performance at the Bridge Avenue auditorium, the board maintains that a nationwide search for Posner’s replacement will proceed apace.

While he’s a sought-after hot property as director and playwright, Posner (pictured red-handed for his smash production of Macbeth) is hardly cleaning out his desk just yet. He’s actively involved in the planning of next season’s mainstage schedule — and next month, he’ll be directing an acclaimed new adaptation of an ancient classic, called Orestes, A Tragic Romp.

We’ve got the details from Two River on this work-at-home Wednesday, along with a look back at Posner’s run in Red Bank — ONLY in  Red Bank oRBit!

AU REVOIR, BIENVENUE

frederic-vidal1Bienvenue owner Frederic Vidal is handing over the keys to the restaurant to a New York-based chef at the end of the month, when Vidal and his wife, Audrey, high-tail it to sunny Florida. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

He came, he accomplished his goal to inject Red Bank with some authentic French fare, and now he’s escaping New Jersey’s harsh winters for the land of sunshine and gated communities, Boca Raton, Fla.

Four years after taking over Le Petit France and renaming it Bienvenue, France native Frederic Vidal, along with his wife, Audrey, are turning over their tiny dining space to a New York-based chef on February 27. Just last week the couple signed a lease on a space where they’ll open a French deli and catering business.

The move, Vidal said, is largely based on the weather, but at 37 years old, he’s also looking to tackle a new project.

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TICKET BLIZZARD POSSIBLE, TOO

rb-plow1A borough plow works Monmouth Street at the height of Saturday’s blizzard. (Click to enlarge)

With a second major winter storm in three days expected to wallop the region starting tonight, Red Bank officials have amped up their enforcement of street-parking rules and snow-removal laws, they say.

More than at any time in the past two decades, the public works and police departments are coordinating their efforts to clear borough streets and parking lots of snow, officials say. And that could mean more tickets, they warn.

“We really don’t bother people about parking on the streets” when it snows, says Councilwoman Sharon Lee. “But it’s gotten to the point where it has not paid for us to be pliable.”

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YMCA TO COUNCIL: GIVE US A BREAK

ymcaAn offer to preserve the trees at right wasn’t enough to save the Y’s expansion plans, but a simple request may. (Click to enlarge)

Four days after the conclusion of a long but failed effort to win approval for a facilities expansion plan, officials of the Community YMCA last night asked the Red Bank council for a shortcut.

They want the town to designate the recreational facility as a permitted use in its zone.

Y officials, accompanied by a land-use attorney, say the request is based on a desire to fix an anomaly in the borough zoning law that allows the operation of the Atlantic Club health facility but not the Y, though both are in the professional-office zone and are located less than half a mile from one another on Maple Avenue.

The Atlantic Club designation “is an oddity, in that it’s a zone within a zone,” Y lawyer Marty McGann told redbankgreen.

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METER RATE TO DOUBLE AT CURB, NOT IN LOTS

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Following through on complaints about downtown employees hogging primo parking spaces all day, Red Bank officials last night moved to double the hourly fee for metered parking on the street.

The measure, which also increases annual charges for permits used by business owners but leaves the rate for metered parking in municipal lots unchanged, is also intended to replenish coffers hit hard when the town started giving away Saturday parking a year ago, they acknowledge.

“The other reason, frankly, is that because of the elimination of Saturdays, we do have a substantial shortfall,” said Mayor Pasquale Menna.

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IN oRBit: THROUGH ANOTHER LOOKING GLASS

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It’s “two on the aisle” over at Red Bank oRBit, where yesterday we gave you the backstory on a new production of Barefoot in the Park, going into previews tonight at Two River Theater. In today’s edition we take it down to New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch, where the professional playhouse prepares to premiere a new drama by the name of Exposure Time.

Based on events in the life of Alice in Wonderland author (and pioneer photographer) Lewis Carroll — his competition with a famed female portrait artist of the Victorian era, and his controversial relationship with the real-life version of Alice — the play by Kim Merrill promises to surf a wave of renewed interest in various denizens of the Wonderland underground, courtesy of Disney’s forthcoming 3-D thrillride Alice.

We’ve got a conversation with the playwright and a first look at how this Exposure‘s developed, right here in Red Bank oRBit!

FORMER FIRE CHIEF PLEADS GUILTY TO DWI

oceanic-rescueEmergency workers hustle Shaun Foley to an ambulance moments after rescuing him from the Navesink River on November 22.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Fair Haven’s former fire chief pleaded guilty to drunken driving Monday, putting an end to legal troubles caused by a November accident that quickly turned into a search-and-rescue effort when he fled the scene and jumped off the Oceanic Bridge.

Shaun Foley, 27, entered the plea in Rumson Municipal Court before Long Branch Municipal Judge George Cieri. Three other charges — reckless driving, failure to report and leaving the scene of an accident — were thrown out as part of the plea deal. Foley, who was also a Rumson Police dispatcher and part-time police officer, was ordered to pay about $675 in fines, undergo a state-mandated evaluation and lost his license for seven months.

“I just want to apologize to everybody,” he said in court. “I embarrassed myself, definitely, but both organizations and my family.”

He added that he was thankful that even though his crash caused a second accident on River Road, nobody was injured as a result of what he said was “just a pile of bad decisions.”

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RED BANK REMEMBERS A LOVING TEACHER

jonelle4Toni Graham, a teacher at Red Bank Middle School, comforts student Kadajyah Smith as she chokes up during a reading for Jonelle Melton, who was killed in September. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Just walking into the Red Bank Middle School auditorium Friday night, you could learn a lot about Jonelle Melton. She had a great big smile, loved butterflies, her favorite color was purple and, perhaps above all else, she touched a lot of lives.

And this you could figure out before anybody said a word.

As students, teachers, friends and family entered the middle school for a memorial to Melton, who was killed in September, they were greeted by a placard with butterflies bordering a picture of Melton — the same picture that was screened onto T-shirts that teachers and students inside the auditorium wore.

Those who didn’t wear the shirts chose to wear a purple band, Melton’s favorite color, on their left sleeve.

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ANOTHER STORM HEADED THIS WAY?

Ledger Live reporter Brian Donohue shot this pre-storm vodcast about weather-induced panic shopping last Friday at Red Bank and Middletown supermarkets. Will we see a repeat run on bread and milk this week?

Just days after Saturday’s blizzard, the Red Bank area could be facing another wintry mess beginning Tuesday night.

The National Weather Service is warning of an “explosively developing” northeaster (or as they call it, a ‘nor-easter,’ as though we all lived in a Pepperidge Farm commercial) that could bring “heavy snow” to the area through Wednesday.

Locally, it sounds as though we could be in for less pretty white fluffy stuff and more yucky mess.
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FROM THE RED BANK POLICE BLOTTER

rbpd-patchCrime reports provided by the Red Bank Police Department for the week of January 29 to February 5, 2010. This information appears here unedited.

Shoplifting incident occurring at Broad St.-Pharmacy on 1-29-10. The owner reported that subject shoplifted items from drugstore and fled. Items valued at approx. $50.00. Amy Matheny of Keansburg was arrested by Ptl. Nicholas Maletto.

Criminal Mischief occurring on 1-30-10 at Union Street. Victim reported that unknown subject(s) keyed his parked vehicle. Ptl. Michael Zadlock.

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IN oRBit: A NOT-SO-ODD COUPLE

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One’s the most successful writer of comedies in Broadway history. The other’s a serious scholar of classic literature, a retired college professor and founding father of Two River Theater Company. Together they’re teaming up for laughs this Valentine’s season, as Robert M. Rechnitz prepares to open a new production of Neil Simon‘s Barefoot in the Park at the Red Bank performing arts auditorium named for Dr. Rechnitz and his wife Joan.

Today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit the details how the professor — a man more likely to be found staging the works of Chekhov, Ibsen and Moliere — came to be “Simonized,” as he tells it, and fall in love with the 1964 comedy by the creator of The Sunshine Boys and The Odd Couple; “a delightful, compelling play that moves like lightning.”

On the eve of the first previews for the production that stars Meg Chambers Steedle and John Wernke (above), director Rechnitz talks about his personal history with this show, about Simon’s lasting legacy, and about how a good romantic comedy brings out the youthful blush in all concerned. Read all about it, right here in Red Bank oRBit!

MORNING BLIZZARD WHITES OUT THE GREEN

To enlarge the photo display, start it, then click the embiggen symbol in the lower right corner. To get back to redbankgreen, hit your escape key.

Mother Nature dropped about a foot of snow on the Red Bank area in a storm that raged early Saturday morning but appeared to have abated by midday.

The redbankgreen was out there to pixelate the event.

Here’s the National Weather Service forecast:

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BOOK SALE POSTPONED

rbpl-reception-2A young book lover takes a brownie break at last night’s Friends of the Library reception, where partygoers got first crack at books to be sold. (Click to enlarge) rbpl-reception

Today’s blizzard has led to the postponement of a planned book sale at the Red Bank Public Library.

The sale is now scheduled for next Saturday, February 13, from 10a to 4p. A concluding bag sale, at which patrons may fill up bags for $2 each, will be held the following Tuesday, February 16.
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BACK IN TIME, ON WATER HARD & SOFT

To enlarge the photo display, start it, then click the embiggen symbol in the lower right corner. To get back to redbankgreen, hit your escape key.

The reception room of the Atrium at Navesink Harbor was packed with river rats and history mavens old and young Thursday night for short program on the history of our beautiful Navesink as a playground for recreational boaters and iceboaters.

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YMCA EXPANSION PLAN FAILS

cymca-plansSketches  for the proposed Community YMCA expansion, which the zoning board rejected Thursday night. (Click to enlarge. Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Though it got more votes in favor than against, a proposal to nearly double the size of the Community YMCA facility on Maple Avenue in Red Bank isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

After months of back-and-forth over design plans and the Y’s acceding to some concerns of the borough zoning board — to the degree that every board member praised its efforts  — the plan failed to win the votes it needed to move forward.

The board voted 4-3 in favor of the plan, but because a use variance was at issue, the YMCA needed a supermajority of five or more votes, said board attorney Marc Leckstein.

Board chairwoman Lauren Nicosia had recused herself over a conflict of interest and Chris Ferrigine was absent.

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GEARING UP FOR THE BIG DUMP

rb-plowRed Bank is prepping 11 snow plows, plus loaders and back hoes, to handle this impending snow invasion this weekend. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It may not rival the pre-Christmas pounding, but if the weather forecast is correct — insert wisecrack here — Red Bank and the surrounding area will be spending some time digging out from a substantial snowfall again tonight and tomorrow.

In Red Bank yesterday, borough workers readied 11 snowplows, with additional loaders and backhoes geared up to 24 hours on the streets to clear an expected foot or so of snow, said public utilities Director Gary Watson.

The National Weather Service says seven to 13 inches will fall tonight and tomorrow.

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FAIR HAVEN TO TRY ITS HAND AT YARD SALE

trio1By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Bargain hunters can start licking their chops, because Fair Haven is heaping a town-wide yard sale onto its already-popular semiannual sidewalk sale.

The Borough Council gave the green light Monday for the Fair Haven Business Association to spearhead the event, which will coincide with the borough sidewalk sale in May.

That means the rush is on to get all the particulars worked out beforehand — making maps, promoting the sale and more than likely, talking to its neighbors in Red Bank to get tips on how that annual sale, held in September, is run.

“We’ll get an idea of what Red Bank does,” Mayor Mike Halfacre said. “But if we’re going to do it in May, we have to get on the ball.”

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SEA BRIGHT NIXES HONKIN’ BIG BRIDGE SIGNS

rt-36-bridgeHighlands and Sea Bright officials don’t favor DOT plans to install signs that hang over the Route 36 bridge, shown here in November. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It wasn’t that long ago that advocates of keeping that troublesome bridge that once linked Sea Bright to Highlands pooh-poohed the idea of constructing a new, larger once because it didn’t fit in with the landscape of the area.

Now, that the new Route 36 bridge is kind of here — the Sea Bright-to-Highlands section is complete, with the rest targeted to be done in 2011 — officials are echoing that old cry, with a plea to halt signs the state Department of Transportation intends to install, saying that they’re more useful for the Garden State Parkway or New Jersey Turnpike.

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BEACH ACCESS PLANS MAY IRK RESIDENTS

sea-bright-bus-stopThis bus stop may be moved and improved if the borough gets the OK to widen the entrance/exit to the municipal parking lot. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Sea Bright officials are working on the first phase of planned improvements to the borough’s beachfront as required by the recent lawsuit settlement that will open up more public space along the beach.

The Sea Bright Smart Growth Committee has drawn up plans to re-stripe the municipal parking lot and possibly add a couple more spaces, widen the lot exit and move the recycling center.

That last one they don’t believe will sit well with some residents.

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FOLEY TO FACE DWI CHARGES MONDAY

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By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Former Fair Haven Fire Chief Shaun Foley is scheduled to appear in Rumson Municipal court late Monday afternoon to answer charges arising from a November 22 car crash that led to his being fished out of the Navesink River a mile away.

The 27-year-old Fair Haven resident and former Rumson police dispatcher faces charges of DWI, leaving the scene of an accident, reckless driving and failure to report. Following the November incident, Foley, through his lawyer, Mitchell Ansell, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
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RED BANK REACTS TO JAZZ & BLUES FEST NEWS

jb-mix-boardHas the sun set on the festival’s run at Marine Park? (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Following our report yesterday that the Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival will decamp to to nearby Monmouth Park racetrack this June and may not return, redbankgreen hit the streets to take the pulse of the people, and asked one question:

What do you think about the festival leaving town for the racetrack this year?

Here’s what we heard:

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TAX DISCOUNT IDEA BROACHED, PUT ON HOLD

marcheseCouncilman Bob Marchese explains his idea to generate revenue through investing taxes that are paid early, while councilman Ben Lucarelli looks on. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It didn’t take long for rookie Fair Haven Councilman Bob Marchese to start chipping away at ideas he campaigned on.

He formally floated one earlier this week: give a discount on property taxes for those who pay their bills early. The borough would then invest the money paid at a higher rate than the discount given.

The idea appeared to be dead on arrival. Because of economic conditions, the council has decided to hold off on Marchese’s idea. It could be revived at some point in the future, though, officials suggested.

“It’s not the right time to do this, unfortunately,” Mayor Mike Halfacre said. “But we’re always looking for ideas and think outside the box, as they say, to save some money and in this case, make some money.”

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