IN RED BANK, AN INSTANT FAMILY ADDITION

clappsJeff and Donna Clapp with their adopted son, Cristopher, outside their home on Rector Place. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Jeff and Donna Clapp decided long ago they would never have children. The couple, who’ve been married 17 years, were busy with their careers, loved traveling and enjoyed life alone in their first-floor apartment in Red Bank.

But that all changed last year, when the Clapps fell hard for a long-haired boy who Donna Clapp says shares “spiritual DNA” with them.

Before they knew it, the couple were signing paperwork to officially adopt a son — a 17-year-old on the edge of legal independence, making for a story that summons a Hollywood script a la The Blind Side.

Today, there would a be a hole in this unexpected family if that boy weren’t around telling jokes or playing video games in his bedroom.

“I can’t imagine what things would be without him,” Jeff Clapp, 42, said.

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STATE AID BOOST COMES WITH QUESTIONS

c-christieGovernor Chris Christie at a Middletown town hall meeting in January. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Governor Chris Christie’s announcement Wednesday of how he’s apportioning $850 million in aid to school districts was welcome news to superintendents, who last year took axes and scalpels to their budgets when Christie froze funding.

But while any additional funds are welcome, local school leaders say they’re still in the dark over one big question: how are they going to be able to use it?

“We’re still, right now, sort of waiting for additional guidance from the Department of Education how they would like us to proceed with additional funding,” said Jim Stefankiewicz, superintendent of Red Bank Regional High School in Little Silver. His school got a whopping 147-percent boost in state aid. “Information from the governor’s office said that they would really like it to be earmaked more for property tax relief, which we are very open to and considering.”

But until official word comes down what the money can be used for, Stefankiewicz, like other leaders, is in a holding pattern.

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REMEMBERING THE REMBRANDT OF RED BANK

avatibroadstThe late James Avati, pictured above right at his Broad Street studio in the early 1990s, employed friends, family members and Red Bank neighbors as models for his sought-after paperback covers. Avati returned to the Little Silver milieu of his early years, in the 1999 photo below. (Avati photos by Piet Schreuders; click the one below to enlarge)

avatililsilvBy TOM CHESEK

He was the King of the Paperback Book Cover Artists — the Rembrandt of the Paperbacks, according to some. An innovator who set the pace during what’s widely considered a golden age of American illustration — and he did it all from his walk-up studio above Broad Street in Red Bank.

During the years dating from the end of the Second World War to the era of the WIN Button, the late James Avati created hundreds of vivid, powerful cover paintings for novels by Faulkner, Dreiser, O’Hara and many other leading literary lions of the day — as well as for upstarts like J. D. Salinger and Mickey Spillane, whose hardboiled epics were reportedly no favorites of the artist.

Famous for reading every word of every book he was hired to do, Avati was commissioned for dozens of high-profile titles from New American Library and other top publishing houses, and found his smoldering, moody style quickly imitated by his peers. It would have been easy for him to work exclusively with the best available models, but what truly set Avati’s work apart — what gave it that edge of authenticity and heart — was his preference for “real people” subjects; many of them drawn from his circle of friends, relatives and neighbors in and around Red Bank.

Beginning this Friday evening, July 15, those faces that once called out to readers from drugstore bookracks and bus station spinners will be on full-size display, as the Monmouth Museum on the Lincroft campus of Brookdale College hosts an opening reception for The Painting World of James Avati. A sampling from the world’s largest collection of the artist’s sought-after work, it’s a priceless portrait of American realism in words and pictures; a painted diorama of a bygone Red Bank, and a fascinating glimpse into the creative process of a man whose signature work has been described as “the darker side of Norman Rockwell.”

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COPS SHUT DOWN MIDDLETOWN BAR

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

mtown-police-carMiddletown police shut down a bar/liquor store last weekend after an inspection showed none of the employees had state-issued cards to serve alcohol.

The inspection also yielded the arrest of two employees, one of which received additional drug charges when he was found to have cocaine in his possession, Detective Lieutenant Steve Dollinger said.

That crime report and others from the department appear unedited below.

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MASON OUT, LOVERSIDGE & VALET IN

frank-mason1Frank Mason, soon to be Red Bank’s former CFO, at his final council meeting Wednesday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank council members unloaded their attaboys on Frank Mason Wednesday, bidding a formal farewell to the borough’s outgoing finance chief, whose last day on the job is next Friday.

Mason, who’s taking the same position in Montclair, will be replaced, on an interim basis, by Bruce Loversidge, who held the position for more than 30 years before he retired.

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SWEATING IT OUT AT RIVERSIDE

outdoorfit4

outdoorfit2

Outdoor Fit, a free, all-ages workout program, returned to Red Bank’s Riverside Gardens Park for its second year earlier this month.

redbankgreen photo intern Stacie Fanelli was there Wednesday night to catch the  action.

(More photos after the jump. Click pix to enlarge)

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CALENDAR CONFLICT SPURS EVENTS REVIEW

boynton-councilFreddie Boynton and members of the Celestial Lodge had a beef to air about a block party. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It hadn’t happened in Council President Art Murphy’s seven years sitting on the Special Events Committee, and Mayor Pasquale Menna said he’s never seen it in his two decades in Red Bank government.

But a clogged calendar and miscommunication between two West Side groups is pushing the council to tighten up its processes to grant special event requests.

It came to a head Wednesday night, when members of the two groups locked horns over rights for coveted street space next month, and prompted the council, hat in hand, to ask each for a little help.

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COPS CHASE DOWN WEST SIDE ROBBER

just_in1By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A man was chased down and arrested in Red Bank Wednesday afternoon after snatching a necklace from a woman’s neck, police said.

Kevin McNair, a 40-year-old with addresses in Red Bank and Shrewsbury Township, pushed an officer when he was confronted at the train station, but was caught nearby on Bridge Avenue, Captain Darren McConnell said.

McNair was charged with robbery, aggravated assault on a police officer and resisting arrest.

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ROAD CLOSED FOR THE DAY

harding-road-pavePaving work on Harding Road is closing off traffic between Harrison and Prospect avenues in the corner area where Red Bank, Fair Haven and Little Silver town lines meet. Only local traffic is allowed access to those roads. The work is expected to last all day. Read a news release on the project here, from Monmouth County. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

LOFTS PLAN RETURNS, TRIMMED A SMIDGEN

antiquesThe proposed West Side Lofts development, at the corner of West Front Street and Bridge Avenue, is again moving forward. Below, architectural drawings. (Photos by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

west-side-lofts-sketchDevelopers are blowing the dust off an ambitious plan that would bring retail, residential units and a popular brewery to the Red Bank’s antiques district.

Known as West Side Lofts, the multi-use project has been downsized a bit and resubmitted to the borough’s planning and zoning office for approval.

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BIKERS GET SAFETY MARKERS IN RED BANK

chestnut-sharrow-071211Borough workers painted the first of a series of “sharrows” on the new pavement on Chestnut Street Tuesday morning. (Photo by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge)

A push to make Red Bank’s streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians moved from the conceptual to the actual as workers installed markings on Chestnut Street Tuesday morning.

Eight so-called “sharrows,” depicting a bicycle beneath two directional arrows, were painted onto the freshly paved street, where eight street signs were also to be installed.

The dual-approach signage “just reminds motorists that they’re sharing the road with bikes,” said Jenny Rossano, of Safe Routes Red Bank, an advocacy group that lobbied for the markings. “It’s not a separate bike lane.” Read More »

OH DEER, THEY’RE EVERYWHERE…

dsc_4059A deer crosses a street in Shrewsbury at dusk last year. Fair Haven officials say they’re watching Shrewsbury’s effort to curtail its deer population. (Photo by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Last year they were eating tree seedlings out of Stephen Knowlton’s yard on Church Street in Fair Haven. This year he’s having a hard time keeping a patch of lilies.

Elizabeth Lilleston, Fair Haven’s code enforcement officer and a resident of Woodland Drive, says she sees them daily roaming the street.

And Mayor Mike Halfacre, who also lives on Church, snapped a picture on his cell phone last week of one chomping on his neighbor’s grass.

If Fair Haven’s deer population isn’t controlled, Knowlton warned, “they’re going to be sleeping on our front lawns.”

Like towns across New Jersey, the borough is now facing a tricky problem: an apparent rise in deer wandering into the residential areas of town, and few options to thin the herds.

“I don’t know what we can do short of a hunt,” Halfacre said.

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MARSHAL: CABLE BURNED UNNOTICED

metro-fireA Red Bank firefighter dumps wet remnants from the apartment at the Metropolitan where a fire broke out Tuesday evening. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

An electrical fire was burning for at least 45 minutes before it was discovered at the Metropolitan apartments in Red Bank Tuesday evening, Fire Marshal Stanley Sickels said.

The fire, reported just before 7 p.m. Tuesday, started in a feeder cable to the second-story apartment’s electrical control panel, he said.

Because it broke out in the ceiling, no one was aware of the fire until it was too late.

“It definitely had been going for a while,” Sickels said.

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TWO COPS ESCAPE FIRE AT METROPOLITAN

metropolitan-fire-3The fire appeared to be confined to a space above the bedroom ceiling of a second-floor unit. Below, Patrolman Bob Campanella, who was inside when the ceiling fell, talks to unit owner Todd Tretsky and his fiance, Michele Williams. (Click to enlarge)

metropolitan-fire-1Two Red Bank police officers narrowly dodged serious injury when a ceiling collapsed in a fire at the luxury Metropolitan apartments on Wallace Street Tuesday evening.

The cops were responding to a report of smoke in a second-floor corner unit when the ceiling collapsed, showering the room with burning debris and hot water, one of them told redbankgreen.

“Two feet to the right, that would have been us,” said Patrolman Bob Campanella, who was with Patrolman George Travostino. “The burns would have been bad.”

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VALET UP FOR A VOTE IN RED BANK

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

park_it_021There soon could be fewer cars circling downtown Red Bank in search of parking spots if the borough council gives the green light to a proposal by Red Bank RiverCenter Wednesday night.

The business promotion agency, in an effort to pull in more visitors, hopes to try valet parking on a trial basis.

“It’ll benefit anybody whose customer doesn’t want to drive around or park themselves,” RiverCenter Executive Director Nancy Adams said.

Motorists who covet the six spaces on Broad Street that will be dedicated to the valet service might have a different take, however.

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TV CHEF VISITS RED BANK BUTCHER

stew-gordonTV’s restaurant hellion Gordon Ramsay showed his softer side when he stopped at Stew Goldstein’s Monmouth Meats in Red Bank Monday to buy steak for his cable show Kitchen Nightmares. Goldstein tells redbankgreen the show’s crew spent about a half hour taping for an episode about a restaurant makeover in Eatontown that will air in the fall. Ramsay was “a real gentleman – he invited me to the opening dinner today,” says Goldstein. “I’ll be eating my own ribeyes.”

FAIR HAVEN TREE LAW PUT IN THE SHADE

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

bob-marcheseIn Fair Haven’s great tree debate, the borough council has gone back and forth for months, trying to find middle ground on revisions that would satisfy advocates of both property rights and environmental concerns.

Now, the shade tree commission has weighed with a set of proposed revisions to the ordinance. The planning board has chimed in, too, recommending the  law be uprooted altogether and re-seeded with a fresh perspective.

Where does a governing body go from here? Back to the negotiating table, apparently.

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LITTLE SILVER DOC’S OFFICE BURGLARIZED

just_in1By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Little Silver police are investigating a burglary over the weekend at a Little Silver doctor’s office, police said.

Between Saturday night and Monday morning, the office, at 31 Seven Bridges Road, was broken into, said Lieutenant Joseph Mazza. An undetermined amount of cash and electronics were stolen.

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ANOTHER RED BANK TAKES IT ON THE CHIN

hot-topic rightWe’ve long been aware that there are other Red Banks in America. There’s one in Indiana, another in South Carolina, and even another in New Jersey, in Gloucester County.

But now, it’s come to our attention that our very own Red Bank, Monmouth County, New Jersey, isn’t alone among its name-sharers to struggle with a reputation as “Dead Bank.”

Turns out the City of Red Bank, Tennessee, a “small community surrounded by Chattanooga” whose population total of 12,000 mirrors our own, also gets the business for not having enough business.

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FIRE COMPANY CAR SHOW SHINES AGAIN

The ninth annual Bob ‘Doc’ Holiday Classic Car Show, organized by Red Bank’s Liberty Hose Company, motored into the White Street municipal parking lot under a sparkling blue summer sky Sunday.

The event, which raises funds for the volunteer company’s operations, drew a record 350 cars and motorcycles despite competition from two large car shows elsewhere in the Shore region.

To enlarge the photo display, start it and click the embiggen symbol in the lower right corner. To return to redbankgreen, click the escape key.

BLOTTER: INSPECTION STICKER REMOVED

rbpd-patrol-webThe crime reports below were provided by the Red Bank Police Department for the period of July 1 to July 8, 2011. This information is unedited.

Theft occurring on 7-1-11 at West Bergen Place-vacant residence. Report of unknown person(s) stealing a washing machine and several radiators from within the house. Lt. Daniel Bannon.

Theft occurring on 7-1-11 at Wallace St.-Restaurant. Report from owner that unknown male and female left restaurant without paying bill for dinner. Ptl. George Travostino.

Theft occurring between 7-1-11 and 7-2-11 at Maple Ave. Victim reported that unknown person(s) removed two concrete planters from rear patio. Ptl. Thomas Doremus.

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TOWER SPARED APPARENT LIGHTNING STRIKE

alarm-070811A flash, a boom and an an automated alarm had Red Bank volunteer firefighters scrambling to the historic town hall at 51 Monmouth Street Friday afternoon on reports that the clock tower had been struck by lightning. Fire Chief John Mego, however, said a witness at the Broadway Diner next door saw the lightning hit to the rear of the building, and no evidence of a strike was found. The Relief Fire Company headquarters is attached to the structure, which is owned by the Community YMCA. (Click to enlarge)

RED BANK VANDALS CAUGHT ON VIDEO

picture1Still images of two vandals were release by Red Bank police Friday. (Image courtesy of Red Bank police; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

graffitiRecognize either of these guys marking up the wall behind A.H. Fisher Diamonds in Red Bank? Or perhaps their handiwork, at right?

If so, and grafitti rankles you, dial up the cops.

The department is on the lookout for two young men they say vandalized the jewelry shop and nearby salon Chelsea Morning early Thursday, and may have been involved in another graffiti act.

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MOTORISTS SWEATING DETOUR IN STRIDE

ls-trafficTraffic at Rumson Road and Branch Avenue in Little Silver was stop and go Friday morning. Below, a detour map from New Jersey Transit. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

ls-detour-mapIt’s the first full day of Little Silver’s traffic shuffle, as work on the New Jersey Transit crossing at the borough train station begins an estimated two-week blockage of a main artery through town and into Shrewsbury.

Amid the vexing backups on area roads in sweltering heat, commuter tempers seem to be cool for now.

“It wasn’t as bad as I thought, which is surprising,” said Elena Acuna, who commutes by rail to New York City three times a week. “We’ll see. It’s just kind of annoying.”

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