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FORECAST: ARTY IN APRIL

rbrartWorks by Shrewsbury artists Chelsea Moore (THE BIKE RIDE. left), Hong Yang (WORDS OF WISDOM, right) and other Red Bank Regional students are on display at the Guild of Creative Art beginning Friday.

So we’ve just about made it out the lamb-y end of March, and as the greater Red Bank Green awaits that new grass on the field, we step gingerly over the remnants from the last of the St. Pat’s Pub Crawls on a cultural constitutional that can only be called the April Art Walk.

Starting with… Friday, April the no-fooling First, which marks the first phase of an annual tradition at the Shrewsbury-based Guild of Creative Art — a two-part exhibit that spotlights the work of the most talented young artists from two of our local high schools in a professional-quality gallery setting. Beginning with a reception from 6 to 8p, and continuing through April 13 at the art collective’s Broad Street headquarters, the Guild showcases seniors from the Red Bank Regional High School Visual and Performing Art Academy’s Commercial Art Program, under the supervision of RBR Commercial Art teacher Claudia O’Connor. Featured are drawings, paintings and pastels by Kelly Conley, Kelly McWatters, Chelsea Moore, Andrea Squassi and Hong Yang (all of Shrewsbury), as well as  Jessica Cresanti-Daknis (Oceanport) and Anthony Lee (Neptune City). Then on April 15, it’s an opening reception for an exhibit of artworks by students from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional HS, a display that continues at the Guild through April 27.

There’s much more where that came from, of course, and it’s on view with just a step past the virtual velvet rope.

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INFURIATED BUILDER BLASTS RED TAPE

r-mumfordRoger Mumford says he won’t proceed with his West Side development project until he gets more cooperation from the town. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Roger Mumford is pissed.

Infuriated, in fact, by what he calls the “non-stop torture” of dealing with Red Bank red tape.

And he says he’s not going to move forward on his self-funded Lincoln Square project on Bridge Avenue and Drs. James Parker Boulevard until he gets more cooperation.

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FAIR HAVEN: GO SLOW ON SIGNS & PLANTERS

ped-signThe Fair Haven council wants fewer ped x-ing signs on River Road. Complaints have also been made about the number of planters and trash cans along sidewalks, below. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

plantersOn River Road heading through Fair Haven heading toward Rumson, the signs are hard to miss: large, yellow warnings of pedestrian crossings, many bunched together.

The neon-bright clusters, while clearly there for safety purposes, might be a little much. Borough leadership certainly thinks so.

“There are just so many of them, I think you could make the argument that they lose their effectiveness,” Administrator Theresa Casagrande said. “Not only is there a sign, there’s a sign saying there’s a sign coming up.”

Mayor Mike Halfacre said the signs have been there for years, but complaints have been coming in to borough hall for just as long, and the council wants Monmouth County, which is responsible for River Road, to consider reducing the number. There are at least six on each side of the road through the business district, and another four or so just before the Rumson border.

“It’s reached a point where we need to do something about it,” he said.

You might say the council needs to do something about another clutter problem in town, not far from those big, honking signs.

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FAIR HAVEN BREAK-IN SPREE HITS 30 CARS

just_in1By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Thirty vehicles were broken into on the west side of Fair Haven Monday morning, police said.

Loose change, personal credentials, jewelry and credit cards were taken in the thefts, which occurred in the morning and throughout Monday, Detective Jesse Dykstra said.

All of the vehicles were unlocked, he said.

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FERNANDES: ONE AND DONE AS MAYOR

m-fernandesMaria Fernandes says she won’t seek another term as mayor. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Backing off an assertion at the beginning of the year that she’ll be back for a mayoral race, Sea Bright Mayor Maria Fernandes said Wednesday she will not seek a second term.

“I served the council and the town very well,” Fernandes, 58, said. “I put in a number of years in this town and my accomplishments were good. It’s time for me to go.”

Fernandes, a Democrat who’s recovering from a partial leg amputation, did not give any specific reason for her decision, other than wanting to focus more on her personal life.

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‘CANDIDA’ REVIEWS: A FRESH LOOK AT SHAW

cremin-diasSue Cremin, who has the title role in ‘Candida,’ with TRTC artistic director John Dias after Saturday’s opening-night show. Below, former ‘Cosby Show‘ star Geoffrey Owens, right, returned to the TRTC, where he starred in ‘Opus‘ earlier this season, and ran into former ‘Frazier‘ star David Hyde Pierce. (Click to enlarge)

hyde-pierce-geoffrey-owensEarly reviews of the Two River Theater Company‘s new production of George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Candida‘ find it a fresh take on a play that made its debut in 1898.

Star-Ledger theater critic Peter Filichia says the Red Bank production nears its conclusion with a moment of suspense, something not usually associated with the play’s author.

And Asbury Park Press reviewer Tom Chesek (who also writes for redbankgreen) says director David Staller “has revealed a play that’s actually contemporary at heart.”

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MYSTERY ROBOCALLS SLAM M’TOWN SPENDING

hot-topic rightBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Just a few days before Middletown is set to introduce its budget, the phone lines are buzzing.

Who’s calling? That’s the mystery.

The callers identify themselves members of the Concerned Citizens of Middletown and slam the township committee for “excessive spending” and “engaging in an elaborate shell game” with tax dollars.

The robocalls have residents and township officials questioning the source — and legitimacy — of the messages. At least two rounds of calls have been reported.

“It appears to be just another desperate attempt by the Middletown Democrats to spread misinformation to the taxpayers,” Mayor Tony Fiore said.

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FAIR HAVEN TAX UP, RUMSON’S DOWN AT R-FH

r-fhThe high school’s budget will raise taxes in Fair Haven, but lower taxes in Rumson. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Rumson-Fair Haven Superintendent Pete Righi says he hasn’t seen a tax increase this small in about 15 years, and as a result, one of the two sending towns to the high school will see a drop in taxes.

The other will see an increase.

The school’s $16.3 million budget for 2011-’12, of which $15.1 million will be raised through local taxes, calls for an increase of $10.92 per every $100,000 of assessed property value in Fair Haven; in Rumson, the budget, if approved, would mean a drop of $1.41 per every $100,000, Business Administrator Frank Gripp said.

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SHREWSBURY: SLIGHT LIMP BUT IN OK SHAPE

donald-burdenShrewsbury Mayor Donald Burden in his office at borough hall. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The theme for Donald Burden the last two years has been ‘falling.’

In 2009, just two months before he was set to retire after 47 years at McGraw-Hill, Burden was cleaning his gutters when he took a fall from the roof, leading to four surgeries on his legs and a slight gimp.

Then, last year, Burden, who was Shrewsbury’s council president, was approached by then-Mayor Terel Cooperhouse, who said he wasn’t running for re-election and asked Burden if he’d like to take the spot on the ticket.

It wasn’t something he expected or envisioned when he moved to town in 1976.

“I just fell into it,” said Burden, a Republican who was elected mayor in an uncontested race in November.

With three months under his belt, Burden can readily declare his borough — and his legs, to a certain degree — in good shape for the future.

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FAIR HAVEN BOE BARELY GETS WITHIN CAP

taxesBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

With the help of partially restored state aid, Fair Haven’s Board of Education is bringing its budget just within the two-percent cap for the 2011-’12 school year.

The $12.2 million plan — $11.8 million of it to be raised through local taxes — includes $184,807 in state aid, a $90,000 boost from the current school year’s aid, which was slashed significantly.

“We definitely had a lot of cuts on the table, so it was a very happy day when we found out we’d get some state aid back,” Superintendent Kathi Cronin said Monday night, when presenting an overview of the budget to the borough council.

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IF IT SITS LIKE A DUCK…

duckJoining the Fair Haven Borough Council Monday night was this wooden duck found in a storage closet at borough hall by Mayor Mike Halfacre. “I thought it was serendipitous,” he said, considering the recent attention on the borough over 12-year-old Nicole Stover’s request to keep six ducks as pets. But there was a minor controversy over the table piece. “I think it’s a goose, actually,” Council President Jon Peters said. The council is expected to decide the fate of Nicole’s ducks at its April 11 meeting. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

MIDDLETOWN COP ARRESTS BELT-SWINGER

authorities2bBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Yet another busy week for Middletown police, the department reports, with seven arrests the last five days.

In today’s weekly roundup from Detective Lieutenant Steve Dollinger, there’s a man wielding a belt with a combination lock tied to the end, a report of a car v. barrier on the Garden State Parkway and a couple of arrests on warrants.

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THEATER FOUNDERS GIVE RIVERVIEW $5M

rechnitzes-032611Bob Rechnitz, right, with wife Joan and Two River Theater board member Paul Kaylor at Saturday night’s opening of ‘Candida.’ (Click to enlarge)

donegoodlogo rightA planned $15 million revamping of the operating rooms at Red Bank’s Riverview Medical Center has gotten a big boost from a Middletown couple.

Joan and Bob Rechnitz, founders of the nonprofit Two River Theater Company, have donated $5 million to the effort, the hospital announced Monday morning.

Riverview officials called it one of the largest single gifts in the hospital’s history, and said a portion of the funds would be used to construct a conference and educational center designed to attract “superior surgeons with niche specialties” to lectures and symposiums.

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SUIT CALLS 51 MONMOUTH DEAL ‘ILLEGAL’

51-monmouthTwo property owners want the former borough hall returned to Red Bank as a public asset. (Click to enlarge)

As anticipated by Mayor Pasquale Menna, a lawsuit has been filed challenging Red Bank’s settlement of litigation earlier this year over the former borough hall and police station at 51 Monmouth Street.

The suit, filed by Maple Cove activist Cindy Burnham of Fair Haven and lawyer Bill Meyer of Tinton Falls, claims that both the original sale of the building to a nonprofit children’s organization in 2000 and the settlement of litigation over that deal earlier this year were “illegal and improper.”

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MIZZI, CANGEMI TEAM UP TO BUST DEMS’ BLOC

mizzicangemi

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The last time redbankgreen talked to Joe Mizzi, on election night last November, he’d just acknowledged his loss in the race for a seat on the Red Bank borough council and said he was going to begin work on his next campaign.

“My last quote was, ‘I’m not going anywhere,'” said Mizzi, a 35-year-old financial analyst and adjunct professor of economics at Brookdale Community College. “And I meant it.”

On Friday, Mizzi, a Republican, announced he’s making a second run to break the Democratic lock on all six council seats, and this time he’s enlisted a familiar name to run with him: former Councilwoman Grace Cangemi.

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QUIET WEEK ON THE STREETS OF RED BANK

rbpd-patrolcarThe crime reports below were provided by the Red Bank Police Department for the week of March 18 to March 25, 2011. The information appears here unedited.

Theft occurring on 3-20-11 at Riverview Plaza. Victim reported that a Blackberry cell phone was stolen from room. Ptl. Dawn Shields.

Theft reported on 3-23-11 at Spring St. residence. Victim reported that unknown person(s) stole checks from her residence. Ptl. Jorge Torres.

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SEARCH FOR HEADLINE A TOTAL BUST

napoleon-bustStrapped in for safety, a bust of Napoleon Bonaparte has been a passenger in Nick Tracy’s car in recent days as the 21-year-old Toms River man and the French emperor prepare to move in together in an apartment in Red Bank. (Click to enlarge)

ANOTHER RBMS VIDEO, ANOTHER PRIZE

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The students at Red Bank Middle School — aka the video factory — are adding another award-winner to their bounty.

For the second year in a row, the school’s students pulled in a $3,000 grant for winning first prize in the national National Pest World‘s public service announcement contest.

“That means a lot to them,” says Holcombe Hurd, a teacher who helped oversee the video production. “That makes them feel part of a real successful community.”

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LITTLE ELBOW ROOM AS YMCA GETS MAKEOVER

kristen-sidunKristen Sidun of Little Silver says she doesn’t mind the temporarily cramped conditions. Below, a schematic of the interior changes underway. (Click to enlarge)

cymca-floor-plans-0311They’re sweating it out cheek-by-jowl at the Community YMCA in Red Bank these days.

A major interior renovation project that began earlier this month forced the temporary displacement of dozens of workout machines to unfamiliar places in the 40-year-old Maple Avenue facility. Stationary bikes are now crammed into two corners of a walking-and-running track, while Cybex resistance machines, their digital displays dark, share space with an already crowded free-weights room in the basement. Large portions of the main level and second floor are off-limits construction zones.

The disruptions are expected to be short-lived, as contractor Charles Hembling & Sons of Shrewsbury works two shifts, eyeing a completion goal of late May.

But in the interim, with the Y’s 8,000 members continuing to use the facility, it’s a little like changing the oil on a moving car, says Y president and CEO Lisa Christian.

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TACO TIME IN RED BANK

surf-taco-openCynda Raffensperger, forefront, and Emilie Hansen, take in the view of Broad Street while catching lunch at Surf Taco, which opened Thursday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

With no advertising, and not even a storefront sign, Surf Taco opened for business in downtown Red Bank Thursday, and the place was immediately humming.

“It’s been a good turnout, and it’s all kind of word-of-mouth,” chain owner and founder Rob Nagel said.

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TROTTING OUT THE T-BIRDS AGAIN

turkeys1redbankgreen spotted four more wild turkeys at about 10a Thursday morning, this time outside the Church of the Nativity in Fair Haven.

Since our last update on this topic, we’ve heard additional reports of wild turkey sightings, with the birds usually in a rafter of four or five, from Lincroft, Little Silver and Fair Haven. We’re still wondering what explains the sudden prevalence of plumage. Got any ideas? Or pics? Drop a line here. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

PARK IT: SIDEWALK PARKER GETS A BREAK

catherine-0322112A motorist parked a car atop the sidewalk on Leighton Avenue near Catherine Street in Red Bank late Tuesday morning and then vanished for hours, a reader tells redbankgreen.

The reader, who supplied the photo and asked not to be identified, says he notified the borough’s parking enforcement department, which sent a couple of officers around.

But the they left without issuing a ticket.

redbankgreen put in a call to parking utility director Gary Watson for an explanation.

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CHURCH, CAR WASH & DELI SWITCH ON SOLAR

butchs-solarThe roof at Butch’s Lube ‘N Wash. (Photo courtesy of Garden State Solar; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It wasn’t long after Paul Stout snapped on the lights at his Rumson business for the first time using solar power that he realized he’d made the right move installing the 48 panels on his roof.

“The first day it was turned on, I saw savings,” said the owner of Butler’s Deli. “It’s immediate.”

Three years, thousands of dollars and 55,000 pounds of unused carbon later, Stout scoffs at the notion that installing solar panels is too expensive or labor intensive.

“It’s the greatest thing in the world,” he said, watching his electric meter dial backwards as the system fed electricity back into the power grid one recent sunny afternoon. “I’m happy with it.”

Stout may have racked up years of savings in the pocket and reduced his carbon input drastically, but others in the area are just discovering the advantages solar energy can bring.

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