A BIT LATE, FAIR HAVEN GIRL TESTS TREE LAW

zoe-gallagherZoe Gallagher, 12, in front of the Poplar Avenue property where trees are being cut down to make room for two houses. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

By last Wednesday, Zoe Gallagher figured it might be too late. By 7:30a Saturday, she was sure.

That’s when she was awakened by sound of trucks and chainsaws. Looking out her window, the 12-year-old knew that there was no chance she’d be able to save the dozen trees that were about to be cut down across the street.

Zoe, who is the president of the environmental club at Knollwood School, was a step behind in her fight for the doomed trees on Poplar Avenue. She hadn’t learned of their impending demise until Wednesday, the day after the home builder, Spencer Foxworth, won an appeal to cut down the trees in order to make room for two new homes on the property. He had previously been denied permission by Elizabeth Lilleston, chairwoman of the shade tree commission and Fair Haven’s code enforcement officer.

“So what’s the point of having a tree ordinance?” Zoe asked, as she watched workers load trucks with tree limbs and brush. “It’s like there isn’t any. You just waste a day presenting the case because you’re going to get it anyway.”

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SUMMER ARRIVES ON A TIDE OF SMILES

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Ahhh, hot and sparkling at the Jersey Shore: This is the payoff, isn’t it, for all those blasted snowstorms we endured over the winter?

For those who were otherwise engaged, the summer solstice occurred at 7:28a Monday, marking the start of a season that, for those of an outdoorsish bent, is as important to one’s mental health as it is to the regional economy.

To mark the day, redbankgreen‘s Dustin Racioppi and Trish Russoniello roamed the Green, cameras in hand, and captured some juicy slices of life, from people at play to a high school graduation to some of the many ways folks find to stay cool between Red Bank and Sea Bright.

Enjoy the pix, folks. And here’s to a terrific summer.

RED BANK WOMAN FILLS SHOES OF EYE DOC

erin-curtisErin Moss Curtis with one of her trusty tools, a phoropter. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A few years ago, Erin Moss Curtis walked in to her childhood eye doctor’s office for a routine exam and walked out with better vision of what to do with her life.

Curtis, a Red Bank native, had been teaching biology at Brookdale Community College, but felt the job was just a way station while she figured out what she really wanted to do. She was in a bit of an existential rut, but a therapeutic talk with her doctor, Donald Johnston, pulled her out of it that very day, she said.

“Doctor Johnston said to me, ‘what are you doing here? You should be an optometrist,'” she said. “He was right. It was exactly what I was looking for.”

Johnston made her an offer: “He said, ‘Erin, you’ll always have a job here with me,'” Curtis told redbankgreen.

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SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SANCHEZ AT TWO RIVER

lifeinmiddlebOne class act: Adam Canterbury (Red Bank Middle School), Spencer Mullen (Thompson Middle School) and Sophia Jackman (Ranney School) are among the local students featured in the original musical LIFE IN THE MIDDLE, going up this weekend at Two River Theater. (Rehearsal photos by Janine Kamouh)

By TOM CHESEK

With the official arrival of summer and the much-anticipated winding down of the school year, thousands of area middle schoolers are fully willing and ready to slam shut the yearbook on the 2009-2010 session.

For a select group of local students, however, the middle school experience — complete with shifting alliances, weirdly morphing bodies and classroom politics — is ready to go another round. Beginning with an invitation-only dress rehearsal on Thursday and continuing with four performances through Sunday, a cast of 22 young actors and musicians will be taking the Two River Theater stage in Life in the Middle, an original rock musical that “looks at what it’s really like to be right in the middle,” courtesy of dialogue taken directly from middle schoolers.

With every one of the performers boasting his or her own home-grown fan club, it’s no wonder that the entire (expanded) schedule of shows sold out in a flash. But if director and co-author KJ Sanchez has her druthers, everyone in America will get a chance to catch this oral history-based project in the months and years to come.

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BLOTTER: WEST SIDE MUGGINGS REPORTED

authorities2aThe crime reports appearing here were provided by the Red Bank Police Department for the week of June 11 to June 18, 2010. This information appears here unedited.

Shoplifting occurring on 6-11-10 at W. Front Street-Antiques. Employee observed a male subject force open a glass case and steal pieces of expensive antique jewelry. When confronted the unidentified subject fled the store. Stolen from case were gold chains, rings, one with diamond other with amethyst, pendant with diamonds, ladies gold Omega watch with diamonds and earrings. Ptl. Michael Campanella. Ptl. John Camarca.

Criminal Mischief occurring on 6-13-10 at West Front St. parking lot. Victim reported that unknown subject(s) scratched his parked vehicle several items on the passenger side door and corner panels. Ptl. David Hicks.

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ANOTHER CLASSIC GOES INTO THE BOOKS

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Under a sparkling blue sky, the 17th annual running of the George Sheehan Classic attracted thousands of runners, walkers and spectators Saturday morning.

Some 1,550 runners completed the five-mile course that ran through Little Silver and Fair Haven before ending where they began, in downtown Red Bank.

James Gathoga of Newark finished first, with a time of 24:44:31, and Noel Brock of Toms River was first among women for the fourth year in a row, at 28:35:59.

Complete results are here.

SHEEHAN: 4,000 FEET POUNDING 26,400 FEET

sheehan-2009Runners charge the finish line during the 2009 edition of the five-miler. (Click to enlarge)

geosheehancoursemap1Event: The Sheehan Classic five-mile race, one of the nation’s top 100 races, according to Runner’s World Magazine, which starts on Broad Street in Red Bank and goes through Little Silver and Fair Haven before ending back where it started.

Participants: Some 2,000 runners, as well as participants in a two-mile health walk, a five-mile wheelchair race and kids running distances of 50 yards to a half-mile.

Conditions: sunny, with temperatures heading toward 80 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

The Other Race: Seeing how fast the organizers can break it down to allow traffic to resume its flow through downtown Red Bank.

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HOFFMAN’S PUTS THE “OHHHS” IN OREO

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[Editor’s note: this article has been updated to correct a number of mixed-up last names in the original version. redbankgreen apologizes for the errors.]

Cool Inside, a redbankgreen summer series featuring chilled and frozen delectable edibles, gets crunchy this week with a visit to Little Silver for a decadently tasty dessert.

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LEADING SCHOOL OF THOUGHT: IT’S SUMMER!

field-day2Charter school students play a game with water balloons during Thursday’s end-of-year field day. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

For kids, it’s the best time of the school year: the end. And right about now, they can taste it.

Literally so, for some students at the Red Bank Charter School. Yesterday, they invaded the grassy field of Riverside Gardens Park for their annual field day, which includes a free-for-all for kids to blast tone another and their teachers with  water balloons.

Red Bank Middle School students, meanwhile, still have another few days until they can hit the beach with any regularity. But the school’s 6th graders spent Thursday priming for the dog days with their counterparts from Monmouth Beach.

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METER RUNNING OUT ON CAB LICENSE RULES?

taxi1Red Bank brass is looking to level the playing field for local cab companies. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Peter Muller started up a taxi business, P&M Taxi, four months ago on West Front Street, but he’s been caught in a jam ever since.

He wanted to obtain licenses for two taxis from Red Bank, but only got one because there were no more available, he was told.

Muller said the larger cab companies have control over the licenses, and subsequently, the business. He believes there should  be more licenses given in town, or stricter controls on companies that pocket the ones not in use.

“I’m just trying to make a living,” said Muller, who is 68 and retired, but can’t make it on Social Security. “Just give me two. I’ll be happy with that.”

There’s a hording problem in Red Bank’s taxi world, some cabbies say, and local officials are again looking at ways to create more competition and make it much harder to pocket coveted hackie credentials.

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A SWINGIN’ IDEA FOR DADDY-O’S DAY

gattagildagambone

Ralph “Johnny Jazz” Gatta (pictured at left with Gilda Rogers of Frank Talk) is the subject of a special salute, and the Gambone Project provides the grooves, as the second annual Jazzy Father’s Day Brunch expands into the Two River Theater this Sunday.

By TOM CHESEK

Since opening the doors of her Frank Talk Art Bistro and Bookstore on Shrewsbury Avenue in autumn of 2008,  author and educator Gilda Rogers has kept her intimately scaled “cultural oasis” humming with activity — hosting everything from book signings, live music, film and theater, to yoga classes, hair makeover sessions, public forums with politicians and a high-profile appearance by Amiri Baraka last December.

When it comes to naming a single “signature event,” however, the Red Bank Regional faculty member doesn’t hesitate to cite A Jazzy Father’s Day Brunch at Frank Talk. Now in its second year, the party scheduled for this Sunday has quickly grown into a celebration of local lore and life that ought to be of interest to lovers of great sounds, fine food, dear old Dad and good old Red Bank, in no particular order.

Here in 2010, the brunch has expanded — not unlike Pop’s waistline — into the spacious new host venue of the Two River Theater. And, along with the home-cooked delights and homegrown sounds that have come to define the day, Sunday’s event will honor the “living legacy” of a notable neighbor who served as the inspiration for the Father’s Day affair — hipster historian and longtime West Side merchant Ralph “Johnny Jazz” Gatta.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

where2_061710

Hey, it’s almost the last day of the week. School’s almost out. Summer’s almost here. Time to get on your walking shoes.

Now, if you could just remember Where you were heading when you passed by this chipper fellow. If you do, drop us an email, please, with the words Where Have I Seen This in the subject line.

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McKENNA RETURNS TO RIVERCENTER

ed-mckennaFormer Mayor Ed Mckenna at his Broad Street law office Wednesday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Amid a tough times for retail and changes to how it does business, Red Bank RiverCenter has enlisted one of its founding fathers to help fulfill its mission.

Political magnate and former mayor Ed McKenna was named to the independent agency’s board earlier this month.

It was a sensible move, as the agency is focusing more heavily this year on attracting shoppers and businesses to move into town, all while trying to help established merchants succeed in this sludgy economy, said Nancy Adams, Rivercenter’s executive director.

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PICKUP TRUCK OVERTURNS ON EAST SIDE

hot-topic rightFor the second time in three days, a vehicle overturned in an accident in Red Bank Tuesday.

Here’s a description of what happened in the most recent accident, courtesy of police Captain Darren McConnell:

On Tuesday, June 15 at approximately 5:24 pm a vehicle driven by Lois Prince, 65 years old, of Medford, NJ collided with a vehicle being driven by Jeanne Schaffer, 50 years old, of Howell.

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NO SATURDAY ENFORCEMENT YET FOR METERS

meter-decal2-060310A parking authority employee applies new yellow stickers to meters on Broad Street earlier this month. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

meter-decal-060310Two weeks after the end of free Saturday parking in downtown Red Bank, not a single ticket has been written for overtime violations on Saturdays, redbankgreen has learned.

And it has nothing to do with full compliance from the meter feeders.

The borough, it turns out, hasn’t been enforcing the Saturday parking charge, and won’t start until next month, even though the rationale for the change was to boost revenue for the cash-strapped town.

“We’re going to start enforcing the weekend after the fireworks,” Assistant Borough Administrator Gary Watson said.

When asked why, he said, “I don’t know any rhyme or reason.”

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FAIR HAVEN HOUSING PLAN DRAWS BACKLASH

senior-housing1Developer Kevin Hughes, right, watches Fair Haven’s council meeting as neighbors voiced complaints over his proposal to add age-restricted housing in town. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It’s facing kind of a conundrum, says Mayor Mike Halfacre, of the Fair Haven council’s role in weighing an informal proposal for age-restricted housing in the borough.

On the one hand, the council has been asked to create an overlay district to allow higher densities in a neighborhood just off River Road, a move that might in turn fill a longtime need in town for more housing for the borough’s senior population.

But doing so carries the potential of leaving a bad taste in the mouths of neighbors.

Even though the proposal from builder Kevin Hughes is in what Halfacre called “step A, minus one,” some neighbors are already hoping to derail it. At a Tuesday morning meeting specifically relocated to the borough’s youth and senior center in order to accommodate the older population, area residents obliged with a solid half-hour of bristling to the council.

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POUNDING OUT THE PUNCHLINES

rabbit-ears

Paula Poundstone brings her trademark asexual look and her highly interactive “autobiographical” act to the stage of the Count Basie Theatre Saturday night.

By TOM CHESEK

When Paula Poundstone returns to Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre Saturday night, she’ll bring a road-tested and audience-friendly act that bears the accumulated wisdom of some 30 years of showbiz highs and lows — ranging from coveted honors (the Emmy, the American Comedy Award, and a pair of Cable ACEs) and successful runs in such neglected niches as public radio and game show panels; to at least one of the fastest-cancelled series in TV history.

Then there was that interlude during which she made national news in 2001 — a period marked by a DWI arrest, charges of child endangerment and lewdness, the (temporary) removal of her adopted kids, and her (permanent) removal from the foster parent system. It’s a topic that she’s hardly swept under the rug, whether addressing it in her memoir There’s Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say, or in a stage act that she characterizes as having “evolved into something extremely autobiographical.”

The 50-year-old comic will be meeting and greeting her audience in the Basie lobby following her 8p show. Until then, nine questions for Paula Poundstone, coming right up.

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GOOCH DROPS CHALLENGE

Diane Gooch has abandoned her quest for a recount in her GOP primary race against Highlands Mayor Anna Little, the Gooch campaign said in an announcement this afternoon.

just_in1The Rumson millionaire and vice chair of the Monmouth County Republican Party says she supports Little, with whom she shares the goals of smaller government and lower taxes.

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KABOOM: NO, WE’RE NOT GIVING IT AWAY

kaboometer-061410With less than three weeks to go, Kaboom has quite a financial gap to fill, as indicated by this sign at Riverside Gardens Park on Monday. (Click to enlarge)

KaBoom Fireworks on the Navesink, faced with a steep fundraising challenge this year because of the elimination of a Red Bank government subsidy, gave away $5,000 Monday.

It’s not what you think, though, organizers insist. Rather than coming out of the coffers of the nonprofit organization that hosts the annual fireworks show, the prize money for an essay contest in which schoolchildren competed was put up by a donor, Investors Savings Bank, says KaBoom chairman Peter Reinhart.

Moreover, he said, the “Tough Times Can’t Take Away Our Sparkle & Shine” contest, co-sponsored by the United Way of Monmouth County, took shape before Red Bank pulled the plug on free police protection and street cleanup following the annual event, forcing organizers to find some $60,000 they hadn’t had to raise in the past.

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DWI CHARGED IN EARLY MORNING WRECK

accident-061510The lone passenger had to be extricated after the car smashed into a tree on Broad Street. (Click to enlarge; photos courtesy of Peter Lindner)

accident2-061510

A Hazlet man was arrested for drunken driving and his Red Bank passenger wound up in the hospital following an early morning car crash on Broad Street, police say.

Brian Cunningham, 38, was arrested after the 12:45a accident, in which his southbound 2008 BMW sedan slammed into a tree just south of the Reckless Place/Harding Road crossing, says Captain Darren McConnell.

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FOOD FEST GETS DIBS OVER JAZZ & BLUES FEST

img_63997272A food vendor hawks his wares at the 2009 edition of the Jazz & Blues Fest. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

After a long absence, Riverfest will return to Red Bank’s Marine Park in 2011.

But securing the date required backers to first elbow aside Riverfest’s successor: the ersatz Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival.

On a night when the Red Bank Council was courted like the prettiest girl in class, the food-heavy fest won a sudden competition to take over the waterfront park the coveted first weekend in June.

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GETTING SCHOOLED ON CYBERBULLYING

cyberbully1Kevin Clark, who runs Monmouth County’s computer crimes unit, gave a presentation on computer safety at Frank Talk on Saturday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The message Kevin Clark wants to deliver can’t be spread fast enough.

“Think before you click,” says Clark, director of the Monmouth County prosecutor’s computer crimes unit.

On the ‘duh’ scale, Clark’s maxim may be high up there. But when you get into the online world, the advice is still news to a lot of people, especially children and teenagers, he said.

That’s why Clark used the phrase several times throughout his presentation about cyberbullying and Internet safety to a small group of Red Bank dignitaries (and one curious teacher) on Saturday, with the goal of raising awareness to a new-ish brand of schoolyard teasing that has risen to new, dangerous heights in recent years.

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SECOND ARREST IN VICIOUS STREET ATTACK

hot-topic rightA second alleged assailant in an a vicious attack on a pedestrian in the early morning hours of May 2 has been arrested, Red Bank police say.

The arrest of a 15-year-old male, who was not identified because of his age, follows charges late last week against 19-year-old Jamiel Rock, who was busted with his mother, 52-year-old Loray Rock, on drug charges after a predawn raid on their Leighton Avenue residence last Friday.

In the raid, police found evidence linking him to the May 2 assault, they said.

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