ANYBODY MISSING A VOLKSWAGEN?

sb-potholesPotholes in Sea Bright’s municipal lot — some “that could swallow a couple Volkswagens,” in the words of Councilman Read Murphy — will finally get properly patched, borough officials said. Administrator Maryann Smeltzer said the work, including restriping of the lot, will be done “well before Memorial Day.” (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

T&M TOPS CONTRACTOR DONOR LIST

money-full-columnMiddletown-based civil engineering firm T&M Associates was the state’s biggest contributor to political campaigns among businesses that contract with local and state government in New Jersey, according to a report issued Wednesday.

The state Election Law Enforcement Commission reported that for the fifth straight year, T&M — which holds contracts with both Middletown and Red Bank — topped the list of donor/contractor firms disclosing contributions under so-called ‘pay-to-play’ laws.

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AN EYE, AND A NOSE, FOR THE BEACH

harleyAfter a romp on the Sea Bright beach and lunch, Harley, a year-old red-nosed pit bull, seemed eager to get back out on the sand Wednesday afternoon. But Harley’s owner, John Huhn of Highlands, said it was “time to go home for a nap.” (Click to enlarge)

PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHER A YALE WINNER

boehm_02Carol Boehm recently won Yale School of Music’s Distinguished Music Educators award. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The bell rings at Red Bank Primary School Monday morning and Carol Boehm immediately springs her second grade class into action, leading a cadence, “1-2-3, S-I-T on the R-U-G.”

The students, dressed in the school’s prescribed red, white and black, plop to the floor and turn their heads to Boehm, who’s pointing to a treble clef on the whiteboard.

The day’s lesson is “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and after a brief refresher identifying the notes on the board, Boehm pulls out four xylophones and breaks the kids into groups for a half-hour of repetition — which more or less means Boehm’s eyes are darting across the room, looking for mallets straying from the song’s notes of B-A-G-D, or praising a student here and there for sitting patiently while waiting for his turn.

“I like to think I challenge my students a lot,” said Boehm, who’s taught music at the primary school for nine years. She’s got something to show for her work. At this point in the school year, the second grade class can read music with no problem. And Monday, they were all playing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” with two hands.

These are small victories when framed against an entire year of lessons, but are part and parcel of Boehm’s classroom accomplishments that have been recognized on a higher level. Read More »

SEA BRIGHT: X MARKS THE WRONG SPOT

murphy-plansCouncilman Read Murphy goes over revised beachfront development plans, assuring residents that the library is not going to be razed. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The Sea Bright borough council, in a rush job to dot its i’s and cross its t’s on a major beachfront development plan, apparently forgot to look out for the x’s.

It was an “oversight,” an “honest mistake,” council members said, as they took a minor scolding from residents who thought the borough library was going to get bulldozed.

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TWEETING ASTRONAUT ORBITS INTO R-FH

astronautU.S. Army Colonel and NASA astronaut Douglas Wheelock stopped by R-FH Tuesday morning after spending six months in outer space. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

There are certain aspects of sailing through outer space that Hollywood chooses, perhaps wisely, not to include in blockbuster portrayals of life in the ether.

There’s the blistering heat, sometimes reaching temperatures upwards of 350 degrees, which can really put a damper on a six-hour space walk; the food, which Colonel Douglas Wheelock says tastes more like heated plastic; and then there’s the absence of a bathing facility, which, if you’re like Wheelock, who recently returned from a six-month voyage in space, can make the return to Earth all that much sweeter.

“When they popped open the hatch, I said, ‘you guys smell really good,'” said Wheelock, who stopped in at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School Tuesday to talk to students about his astral travels. “They said, ‘it’s called soap.'”

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BAIT SHOP SEEKS TO REEL IN APPROVAL

111-efrontThe former Harper’s Copy Center on East Front Street would become a bait and tackle shop if Red Bank zoners approve. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Looking to sink a hook into a property on the East Side of Red Bank, a Fair Haven man will go before the zoning board Thursday seeking approval to open a bait and tackle shop.

The application, for a “certficate of continuation of non-conforming use” in a zone that prohibits retailing, was submitted earlier this week by Max Berry, of Fair Haven.

Berry, who could not be reached for comment, intends to open Pride Bait and Tackle at the former site of Harper’s Copy Center, which relocated its services to Rumson earlier this year.

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BUSY WEEK FOR MIDDLETOWN COPS

mtown-cruiserRecent police activity as reported by the Middletown Police Department. These reports are unedited.

• On March 31, 2011 Detective Daniel Sullivan was contacted by Detective Jeff Miller of the Hazlet Police Department in reference to a prescription fraud investigation he had conducted. Det. Miller informed Det. Sullivan that Joan Heary, age 48, from Edgewood Road in Matawan, NJ, had presented fraudulent prescription blanks at numerous pharmacies throughout the area to include the Walgreens and Rite Aid pharmacies in Middletown.

Detective Sullivan conducted a follow up investigation which revealed Heary had presented fraudulent prescriptions for Roxicodone and Oxycontin at the two pharmacies on four different dates.

Det. Sullivan arrested and charged Heary with Forgery and Obtaining a Controlled Dangerous Substance by Fraud. She was processed and released on a summons pending a court date.

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‘ANNIE’ WHICH WAY YOU CAN, AT THE BASIE

annieAt left, Carly Nelson is ANNIE (and Oliver is Sandy) in the Phoenix Productions staging of the musical favorite. At right, Annie and her fellow orphans bedevil Lauren J. Cooke as Miss Hannigan. (Photos courtesy Phoenix Productions)

By TOM CHESEK

From church basement to charity bash, from middle school to midsummer stock, there’s probably never a weekend when somebody somewhere is NOT staging a production of Annie, the sassy musical period piece based on Harold Gray’s seemingly ageless comic strip character Little Orphan Annie.

Which begs the question: how can the sun come out”Tomorrow” when the sun never sets on the Annie empire?

While you ponder that, consider the fact that when the folks at Red Bank-based Phoenix Productions put on a show, they’re mounting it not at that aforementioned church basement, but at the landmark performing arts venue that is the Count Basie Theatre. When the Count’s resident community theater troupe revisits Annie, Daddy Warbucks, Miss Hannigan and company this weekend, they’ll be treading the same boards as have supported some of the most legendary figures in showbiz — and they’ll even put forth a cast that boasts at least one performer with something of a bone-a-fide Broadway pedigree.
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MIDDLETOWN: AVERAGE TAX TO RISE $60

taxesBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Middletown Mayor Tony Fiore promised an on-time budget. Check.

He said it’d be significantly smaller than 2010’s budget. Check.

He also promised it would be within the state’s new two-percent property tax cap. Technically a check — although the tax levy will be raised 2.99 percent over the current year’s.

“We are under the two-percent cap but there are a few exemptions,” he said. “Really, the pension costs and the snowstorms took us .99 percent over the cap, but that’s allowed.”

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WORD ON THE STREET

curb_ir

Which is ruder: this sign on White Road in Little Silver, or the gift from the well-fed pooch that apparently prompted it? (Click to enlarge. On second thought…)

RIVERVIEW NETS ANOTHER $1M FROM DONORS

RiverviewmedctrThe hospital has raised $6 million of its $15 million capital campaign from two Middletown couples. (File photo. Click to enlarge)

Little more than a week after disclosing it had received a $5 million donation toward a planned $15 million revamping of its operating rooms, Red Bank’s Riverview Medical Center announced Monday that another $1 million contribution had come in.

The donation, by George and Vita Kolber, of the Locust section of Middletown, will go toward the construction of a new 22,000-square foot “center for surgical excellence” within the exisiting footprint of the Red Bank hospital, officials said.

A $5 million donation by Kolber neighbors Bob & Joan Rechnitz, founders of the Two River Theater Company, is to be used for the same purpose.

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TAKING TO THE AIR

skateboarderA skateboarder takes advantage of Monday’s warm weather by practicing ollies at Red Bank’s Riverside Gardens Park. Tuesday will be cooler, wetter and windier, says the National Weather Service. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

LOCAL TEAMS DEFECT FROM POP WARNER

rumson-dawgsThe Rumson-Fair Haven Bulldogs in action against Manalapan. (Photo courtesy of Pim Van Hemmen Visuals. Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

When gradeschool-aged football players from Middletown, Red Bank and elsewhere suit up for the gridiron later this year, it may be hard to tell any difference on the field. The uniforms will look the same, the team names will remain and the players are, for the most part, the same that have been on the field their entire recreational careers.

But there will be one major change from decades past.

The Rumson-Fair Haven Bulldogs will be the only local team left in the 50-year-old Jersey Shore Pop Warner League, facing teams from places such as Asbury Park and Brick Township. The others will play for a league that’s supplanted Pop Warner as the leader in recreation football — one that bills itself as “the largest youth football and youth cheer organization on Earth.”

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MIDDLETOWN MAN DIES IN PARKWAY CRASH

State police have charged an Ocean County man with drunken driving after an accident that killed a Middletown man on the Garden State Parkway Saturday night, NJ.com reported Sunday.

Kevin Donnelly, 43, died in the crash, which occurred when a car driven by Eric Pereira, 20, of Jackson struck the rear of Donnelly’s minivan around 11p in the southbound local lanes near mile marker 120, the Press reports.

NJ.com, citing State Police, says Donnelly, a father of five boys and a copy editor on the sports desk at the Staten Island Advance, was pronounced dead at the scene.

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COUNTY OFFERS INSIDE DIRT ON COMPOSTING

ComposterTim Zebo of Red Bank with the composter he got as part of the Monmouth County course in 2008. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Gather up the banana peels, egg shells and coffee grinds, all you greenies and wanna-bes.

The Monmouth County Planning Board is offering local workshops at which experts will go over the ins and outs of backyard composting.

The 45-minute presentations get into the practical ways to reduce household waste and improving soil quality by tossing your waste to the worms.

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RED BANK MINOR ARRESTED FOR SEX ASSAULT

kaboom-rbpd-070310The crime reports below were provided by the Red Bank Police Department for the week of March 25 to April 1, 2011. The information appears here unedited.

Lost or Stolen Property occurring at Riverside Ave.-Restaurant on 3-25-11. Victim reported that she placed her Apple IPad 2 in a carrying case on the back of the chair. She left and inadvertently forgot to take her Ipad. However, she returned immediately thereafter and the Ipad had been taken by unknown person(s). Ptl. Michael Zadlock.

Attempted Burglary occurring on 3-28-11 at John Street. Victim reported that unknown person(s) entered parked vehicle and rummaged through contents. Nothing reported missing. Ptl. Robert Campanella.

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THE WEEK IN REARVIEW

hyde-pierce-geoffrey-owensActors David Hyde Pierce (of TV’s ‘Frazier’ fame) and Geoffrey Owens (‘The Cosby Show’) ran into one another at the March 26 opening of ‘Candida’ at the Red Bank’s Two River Theater. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Good morning, readers.

Before you dig into the day’s news, here’s a rundown of last week’s happenings on redbankgreen, an easily digestible compendium of the week that was.

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JAZZ SERIES IS MORE THAN JUST TALK

talkinjazz1Alto ace Bruce Williams is tonight’s guest, and the legendary Louis Armstrong is next week’s topic, when the Talkin’ Jazz series returns to the Count Basie’s Carlton Lounge beginning tonight.

By TOM CHESEK

April is National Jazz Appreciation Month (it’s also National Garden Month, National Poetry Month, and National Irritable Bowel Syndrome Month, but those are stories for another time) — a fact made manifest here in the Basie-birthing borough by the Navesink.

Every April for the past four years, Red Bank’s globe-trotting jazz scholar, conductor, arranger and producer Joe Muccioli has teamed with his fellow founders of the Jazz Arts Project to host a quietly swingin’ soiree by the name of Talkin’ Jazz, a weekly Monday night series of intimate gatherings that serve to illuminate the human element, the sweet science and even the silly stuff behind what the Man Called Mooch has branded “America’s classical music.”

Presented inside the Carlton Lounge (that’s the cool and comfortable VIP room on the ground floor of the Count Basie Theatre), it’s a happening that’s blessedly free of tuxedo’d pretension, free of nightclub noise — and free of charge. While you’re under no obligation to knock on the door and tell ’em “Joe sent me,” you can do so if you’re feeling frisky and fancy free. And, best of all, you can head on over there this very evening, if you’re feeling jazzily spontaneous.

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A DOGGONE GOOD MONTH

jax1“Jax” the Rescue Dog is on tour to local schools this month in a series of speaking/barking engagements for the Purr’n Pooch Foundation. (Photo by Maryann Small)

donegoodlogoThe causes range from humanitarian aid for the countless lives affected by the recent disasters in Japan — to the rescue of a single dog or cat in need of a home. The funds raised can support the good works of our area’s charitable, cultural and educational entities — and the means of “Done Good” support can be as simple as a trip to the library, store or hair salon.

When last we looked in on Small Factory Productions in the paperless pages of redbankgreen, the kid-centric animation studio in Fair Haven (located, in a bit of kartoon-land kismet, at the Acme shopping plaza) had just received an Emmy nomination for its Brooklyn-based public access TV show. This month, Chris Dudick and company have teamed with Monmouth County’s own  Purr’n Pooch Foundation in an endeavor designed to teach young children about the humane treatment of animals.

From now through April 14, Monmouth County kids ages 5 to 10 are invited to submit their “creative, original stories and/or drawings” about their favorite animal friend to the Tails of Love Contest — and on April 15th, a panel of judges will select eight contest winners, each of whom will receive the chance to create an original animated short film based on their entry. Each winner will also get a DVD copy of the film and appear as special guests during a special movie premiere event at the Purr’n Pooch Foundation’s upcoming “Paws for a Cause Day” at Pier Village in Long Branch (date to be announced).

Take it here for details on how to enter the Tails of Love contest — and read more for an April’s worth of Done Good doings.

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MENNA GASSED UP OVER REGULATOR PLAN

gas-regulatorImagine 80 more of these downtown. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Mayor Pasquale Menna can’t say enough how much he objects to a plan by New Jersey Natural Gas to replace aging equipment in town, although he’s trying his best.

“New Jersey Natural Gas decided they wanted to be modern day Vandals of Red Bank,” he said of the company’s proposed “gas pressure regulator relocation project,” which “sounds very fancy but it’s very ugly.”

The plan, to open up downtown sidewalks and remove old gas regulators, then install new ones above ground, has sent Menna into a whirling tirade against the company, saying it’s acting out of corporate greed and counteracting years of work to preserve the historic downtown.

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RIVERCENTER BUDGET: SAME OLD

rvrcntrRiverCenter got preliminary approval for its 2011 budget Wednesday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank RiverCenter presented its 2011 budget to the borough council Wednesday night, a perfunctory here-it-is and thank-you-for-coming that took all of two minutes from the governing body’s regular meeting.

“There’s nothing major we have this year,” Executive Director Nancy Adams told redbankgreen.

With the exception of a thousand or two dollars shuffled around to different line items, this year’s $512,120 budget is a replica of the independent agency’s 2010 spending plan: holiday events are still on, capital projects will go forward and the agency will again put an emphasis on marketing the borough throughout the state and beyond.

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