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A HINT OF PINK ABOUT TO BURST

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So, what is this ‘Paint the Town Pink‘ that’s suddenly being touted all over downtown Red Bank?

Ah, you must be new to town.

Also known as “Pink Bank,” it’s an annual weeklong series of events, now in its fourth year, that’s organized by Riverview Medical Center and Red Bank RiverCenter to promote breast cancer detection and prevention.

In the process, it’s meant to liven up the retail district and inject some fun into spring. It all kicks off Saturday.

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PARKS & REC HEAD READY TO FILL BIG SHOES

memone-kids1Red Bank Little Leaguers pose with their new parks and rec director Memone Paden Crystian. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The Memone Paden Crystian era has begun in Red Bank’s Parks & Rec Department.

The borough resident and mother of three was named Recreation Director on Monday night, four months after the Menna administration decided, without explanation, not to reappoint longtime director Bob Evans.

Memone, who serves as president of Lunch Break‘s Board of Trustees, had been an alternate member of the Recreation Committee since January. She told redbankgreen that for the last couple years she’d been trying to get onto the committee.

Some leap.

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BANK SAYS STORES WOULD DOOM PROJECT

courtyards-at-monmouthRobert Cogan, architect for the Courtyards At Monmouth proposal, gives his segment of the three-hour testimony to the zoning board Thursday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Representatives of the bank looking to build 57 residential units on a desolate corner of Monmouth Street have no doubt that if they get borough approval, their project will be a success in Red Bank.

They’ll just have to wait to find out if they can even step on the path toward approval.

After three hours of testimony from a handful of lawyers and experts representing the property’s owner, Amboy Bank, the zoning board short-circuited the group’s pitch for the evening and continued the hearing until next month.

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RBR GETS HANDS-ON WITH THE LENNON BUS

lennon-bus2RBR’s Fab Five students, who had a chance Thursday to record a song in the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Short of a class trip to Abbey Road Studios, it’s tough to compete with what Red Bank Regional students were treated to on Thursday: The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, a sleek, sky-blue recording studio on wheels that typically garners reactions similar to that of Matt Dubrow, a senior.

“I’ve been recording studios before, but never one on four wheels,” he said. “It’s awesome. It’s awesome.”

The bus, named for one of the Fab Four and outfitted with top-of-the-line instruments and recording equipment, made the stop to give a select group of students the chance to record a song and music video in the bus. All other students and staff had an opportunity to geek out over the Lennon paraphernalia and instruments on display outside.

“It’s kind of like field day, but for music,” said Kerry McNulty, RBR’s band director.

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SHAKING UP THE TEA PARTY

lindachorneyBoth sides of the issue: Singer-songwriter Linda Chorney invites the public to take part in a bit of absurdi-tea during a video shoot in Red Bank this Sunday morning.

From NovelTeas Authors Aromas & Gifts comes word that the Bridge Avenue book salon/ tea room/ gift boutique established by Kim Widener will be playing host to a tunefully tea-zing reaction to a much-discussed political movement this weekend.

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RESIDENTS SWEAT BUDGET DETAILS

rb-budget-042810Participants in last night’s Q&A on the Red Bank budget pick up info packets. (Click to enlarge)

Red Bank officials held a marathon budget walk-through before a standing-room crowd at borough hall Wednesday night, laying out the rationale for a plan that calls for a property tax increase and the possibility of furloughs for government employees.

Over the course of three and a half hours in an increasingly stuffy council chambers, they also addressed every one of 90 suggestions put before them by former GOP council candidate Kim Senkeleski, who had gathered the ideas for submission.

Given their opportunity to speak, though, audience members most wanted to talk about wringing some tax money out of the borough’s outsized population of nonprofits.

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M’TOWN SCHOOLS IN ‘INVESTIGATION’ MODE

mtown-boeTwo of the three newly-elected board of ed members, Vincent Brand, left, and Chris Aveta, at Wednesday night’s meeting. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The Middletown Board of Education could staff a detective bureau with all the investigating it’s doing and has ahead.

Investigating was the buzzword from the district Superintendent Karen Bilbao Wednesday night when pushed for details on where and how cuts would be made to the district’s $140.3 million budget, which was rejected by voters last week.

As in, will more teachers have to be laid off? She’s investigating.

Or, will there be redistricting, or school closings, as Bilbao has hinted at before?

“Closing a school or more than one school is one of the areas we said needed to be investigated,” Bilbao said.

“We are investigating a lot of things at this point.”

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BANK AIMS TO UP ITS RETURN ON MONMOUTH

courtyards-1-040710A subsidiary of Amboy Bank is seeking approval for an all-residential project at the corner of Monmouth and West streets, below. (Click to enlarge)

courtyards-2-040710On the agenda for a special meeting of the Red Bank zoning board tonight: yet another plan for a major development on the site of a former filling station on Monmouth Street.

Yep, that same place at the southeast corner of West Street that was the subject of not one but two prior approvals in the past seven years, neither of which resulted in so much as a shovel going into the ground.

Amboy Bank, which now owns the property, wants to build townhouse-style apartments there under the name Courtyards at Monmouth. So why not just dust off the approval won by Rumson’s George Coffenberg, who relinquished the project to the bank shortly after getting his approval for a project, also dubbed called Courtyards at Monmouth, in early 2008?

Because in the interim, Red Bank’s governing body changed the zoning laws and included the property in a so-called “train station overlay” zone that allows for buildings up to 50 feet tall and densities of up to 35 dwelling units per acre, up from the prior limit of 25.

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AFTER 35 YEARS, DeFAZIO PACKS IT UP

pete-defazioCaptain Pete DeFazio is leaving the Red Bank PD after 35 years.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Pete DeFazio has always been a Green Bay Packers fan, which may seem odd given that he’s a  born-and-bred Red Banker living in a state with two pro football teams.

“I like cold weather,” he says, by way of explanation. “I’ve been to Wisconsin a few times”.

He sports a Packers sticker on his office door and, since his father passed away and was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Middletown, where the late Packers head coach Vince Lombardi also rests, DeFazio jokes that his dad has the legendary coach for a neighbor.

The elder DeFazio didn’t really have a favorite team, so the son’s passion didn’t come from his father. But DeFazio’s sense of community service did. Like his dad before him, DeFazio has served on the Red Bank First Aid Squad and Relief Engine Co. since he was a young man.

He went one step further, though. When a spot opened up on the Red Bank police force in 1975, DeFazio started a career as a policeman — first as a dispatcher, then a patrolman and, eventually, captain, the highest rank within the force short of chief.

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‘JOHNNY JAZZ’ ENDS FIVE-DECADE SOLO

jj_2010_1Ralph Gatta at Riverview Medical Center yesterday, and a note to his customers, below.

Ralph Gatta, a butcher and grocer known as ‘Johnny Jazz’ to generations of Red Bank’s West Siders, has hung up his cleaver after 47 years of enveloping his customers in a cocoon of jazz sounds, imagery and anecdotes.

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The owner of Johnny’s Jazz Market posted a handwritten notice closing the Shrewsbury Avenue store on its front door nine days ago, one day before he was hospitalized with complications of throat cancer. Because of his illness, he won’t be back, he tells redbankgreen.

The closing marks the end of one of the oldest mom-and-pop groceries operating in Red Bank. Even more, though, it is the fade-out for a grubby museum of sorts curated by a jazz lover whose brother says is “from Mars” with his fanaticism.

“I can’t bend, won’t bend, don’t know how to bend,” Gatta told redbankgreen on a visit to his room at Riverview Medical Center yesterday, explaining why jazz played non-stop on his store’s stereo and jazz memorabilia hung from every available surface.

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FASHION SHOW DAZZLES DOWNTOWN

Putting their customers and friends to work, Rosa and Liam Davis of womens’ casualwear shop Bella Mystique brought downtown Red Bank its first open-air fashion show in memory Tuesday night.

The event, held in the courtyard of the Dublin House on Monmouth Street, featured several dozen amateur models — high school students, a bank teller, a toy store employee, a radiology lab worker and others — in dazzling spring and summer outfits.

redbankgreen was there, from start to finish, making full use of its all-access pass to document the show both on the runway and backstage.

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.

POLICE BLOTTER

rbpd4 windowCrime reports provided by the Red Bank Police Department for the week of April 16 to April 23, 2010. This information appears here unedited.

Theft occurring on 4-18-10 at West Front St. Victim reported that she left her pocketbook unattended on a bar and upon returns discovered several items missing from the purse. Missing was a credit card, debit card, cash, driver’s license and a student I.D. card. Ptl. Heather Publyski.

Theft occurring on 4-18-10 at West Front St. Victim reported that unknown subject(s) stole his cell phone, described as Samsung touch screen from the bar where he had placed same. Ptl. John Camarca.

Criminal Mischief reported on 4-22-10 but occurring on two separate incidents that being 4-10-10 and 4-17-10 at Broad Street – High School. Report of graffiti deployed on walls inside porta john in construction area of school. Ptl. Michael Campanella.

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RUMSON ROAD ACCIDENT

rumson-crash-042710Emergency personnel responded to a one-car accident on Rumson Road just east of Bingham Hill Circle in Rumson shortly before 2p Tuesday afternoon. No information was immediately available about the crash, in which a sedan struck a tree head-on. (Click to enlarge)

M’TOWN COPS BUST TEEN PROSTITUTION RING


View Larger MapTwo people waited as lookouts at the Knollwood Gardens apartments while a 17-year-old prostitute serviced a resident in his apartment, police allege.

Two 17-year-old girls and two alleged clients have been arrested for engaging in prostitution, Middletown police say.

Also arrested was 20-year-old Richard Burges, of Thousand Oaks Drive, who was charged with acting as the girls’ pimp.

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TAX HIKE, FURLOUGHS IN RED BANK BUDGET

stanley-sickelsBorough Administrator Stanley Sickels gave an overview of Red Bank’s budget Monday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

In an effort to shrink its budget, Red Bank won’t pick up the cost of police overtime associated with the annual KaBoom! fireworks show this year, officials said Monday night.

They’re also looking at imposing 10-day furloughs for all borough government employees except crossing guards, leaving a vacant police captain’s job open and withholding raises from non-union employees.

Still, all that won’t enable them to hold the line on taxes.

As proposed Monday night, Red Bank’s $19.2 million spending plan will carry a 2.3 cent increase per $100 of assessed property value — from 46.2 cents in 2009 to 48.5 cents this year. The 2009 budget totaled $19.5 million.

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M’TOWN MAYOR WANTS TEACHER PAY FREEZE

hot-topic rightBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

With a voter-rejected schools budget now landing in the lap of the Middletown Township Committee for recommended cuts, Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger is calling for township teachers to accept a one-year pay freeze, a move he estimates will save the district $3 million.

“That’s pretty significant,” he said. “That would go a long way with saving jobs, with very little effort.”

Scharfenberger, echoing Governor Chris Christie, put out the request on Friday, just days after the school board’s $140.3 million budget was handily defeated and three board incumbents were voted out. Scharfenberger said that was the voters showing support for such action.

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SECOND VICTIM OF DRUNK COP DIES

people-in-the-newsA woman left comatose after a former Middletown police officer crashed his car into hers while he was drunk has died, according to the Jersey Journal.

Forty-year-old Ruth Zelaya died March 24 as a result of “complications from the motor vehicle collision,” Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Michael D’Andrea told the newspaper.

Zelaya’s two-year-old son, Jose Carlos Zelaya, died several days after the January, 2007 wreck on the Pulaksi Skyway in Jersey City.

Kevin Freibott, a Middletown resident and Jersey City police officer, is serving an 11-year prison sentence following his December 2007 guilty plea to vehicular homicide, assault by auto and drunk driving.

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GREEN TEAMERS CLEAN UP

green-team1Volunteers from the United Methodist Church participated in the annual event along East Bergen Place, above, and in the East Side parking lots, below. (Click to enlarge)

green-team-2-042410Those folks you saw pulling crushed soda bottles from the weeds and picking up cigarette butts from Red Bank gutters on Saturday were volunteers.

As part of an annual cleanup effort in the downtown, congregants from the United Methodist Church on Broad Street joined with members of the borough Shade Tree Committee to collect trash and install mulch around trees.

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FEBRUARY ACCIDENT VICTIM DIES

just_in1The Staten Island woman who was struck by an SUV as she crossed Broad Street in Red Bank on foot two months ago has died.

Alla Tsiring, 44, died over the weekend at the Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune from injuries caused by the accident, according to police Captain Darren McConnell.

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BOWDON PUSHES THE BUTTON WITH ‘CARTEL’

bobbowdoncartel
Veteran broadcaster and first-time filmmaker Bob Bowdon comes to Red Bank Tuesday night for a special pre-release screening of THE CARTEL, his highly charged “blogumentary” on the state of public education in New Jersey.

By TOM CHESEK

Here in New Jersey, there’s probably no bigger “hot-button” issue than public education and its discontents (unions vs. politicians; public servant salaries; school choice, and the “T” word) — and there’s likely never been anything so poised to push that button than The Cartel.

Just days away from general release in a handful of major markets, the documentary feature by anchorman-producer (and sometime actor) Bob Bowdon comes to Red Bank tomorrow night at the tail end of a week that couldn’t have been scheduled any better by the savviest movie publicist — from last Tuesday’s historic voter rejection of municipal school budgets, to the ongoing investigation that brought the FBI to the doorstep of the region’s biggest education superstar.

Tuesday’s screening event at Clearview Red Bank Art Cinemas (an event for which the filmmaker is scheduled to be present for a Q&A with the audience) is just one whistle-stop in a weeklong homecoming preview junket that culminates with an Education Reform Rally on Thursday evening in Trenton — and kicks off this morning with an 8:40a appearance by Bowdon on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program.

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A READY-FOR-RAIN HAT

colmorgen-042210Red Bank crossing guard Carl Colmorgen, who works the corner of Broad Street at Harding Road/Reckless Place, arrived at his post last Thursday in a spring chapeau garnished with forsythia, courtesy of a neighborhood mom. (Click to enlarge)

Clearly, we’re in the ‘April showers’ phase of that old adage about showers and flowers.

The National Weather Service forecasts a high probability of rainfall today, with a diminishing chance Tuesday and Wednesday. The outlook gets briefly sunnier after that.

Here’s the forecast:

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