BACK TO THE SCENE OF THE FIRE

smolderingRed Bank firefighters returned to the site of Monday’s night’s house fire after a report of smoldering in the attic early Tuesday afternoon. The remaining embers of the South Street blaze, reported to have been started by the homeowner as he sought to remove a wasp’s nest, were quickly extinguished, fire personnel reported. (Click to enlarge)

QUAKE SHAKES AREA; NO DAMAGE FOUND

quakeEmployees of Smith Barney mill outside their Broad Street office as emergency personnel compare notes on alarm report. (Click to enlarge)

A rare earthquake, reported to have been centered on Virginia, swept the Red Bank area early Tuesday afternoon, rattling doors and nerves, but apparently causing no damage.

Red Bank fire marshal Stanley Sickels reported fire and police responded to a number of fire alarms tripped either by panicked building occupants or set off by the tremors, but found no damage or injuries.

What was initially described as a partial ceiling collapse at the Sears store on Route 35 in Middletown proved to be just a few tiles from a drop ceiling coming down, a township police spokesman said.

Phone lines were said to be jammed as shoppers, restaurant patrons and office workers swept out into Broad Street by the dozens to compare notes as it became clear that an earthquake was happening.

The event brought on an atmosphere of awe and levity.

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AFTER 54 YEARS, READIE’S READIES MOVE

fishkinTom Fishkin outside the Broad Street storefront into which he plans to move Readie’s Fine Foods next month. (Click to enlarge)

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Here’s a movin’-on-up story we don’t see many examples of here in Red Bank’s ever-churning downtown.

At an age most retail establishments would kill to attain, Monmouth Street mainstay Readie’s Fine Foods, with roots that go back 54 years, is heading uptown.

Not that the diplomatic owner, Tom Fishkin, who doubles as chairman of Red Bank RiverCenter, would put it that way.

“People have always said Broad Street is better” because of its wider sidewalks and cachet, Fishkin tells redbankgreen. “But if you’re a destination store, it doesn’t matter which street you’re on.”

Except that is, when you’re a destination deli, with no place for customers to eat the sandwiches you make.

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A FAIR SIGHT: FAIR HAVEN FIREMEN’S FAIR

fhfiremens-fair-2010The Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair kicks off its traditional week-plus run Friday night.

Touted as the biggest firemen’s fair in New Jersey, the event boasts feel-good qualities galore: brimming bowls of clam chowder, bird’s-eye views from atop a Ferris wheel, dizzying rides and a much-anticipated “super 50-50” drawing. Upwards of 10,000 visitors are expected.

The fair runs from 6 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights. It’s closed on Sunday, and wraps up Saturday, September 3.

A slideshow of photos from last year’s fair is here. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

O’HERN, AZZOLINA GET NAME HONORS

ohern-stationThe Red Bank train station and the Route 36 Highlands-Sea Bright bridge, below, have new names. (Click to enlarge)

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Two prominent pieces of public infrastructure – one, some 140 years old, the other brand-new – have officially been renamed for Red Bank-area leaders.

Governor Chris Christie has signed bills naming the century-old Red Bank rail station for the late borough mayor and state Supreme Court Justice Daniel O’Hern and dubbing a new bridge across the Shrewsbury River for the late  Joe Azzolina, the longtime state Assemblyman from Middletown.

State Senator Jennifer Beck, who pushed for both, announced the changes Monday.

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TARGETING WASPS, OWNER SETS HOUSE AFIRE

south-st-house-fireSmoke pours from the gable end of the attic at 96 South Street. Below, homeowner Peter Chan with borough Fire Marshal Stanley Sickels. (Click to enlarge)

chanA smoky fire damaged a Red Bank residence Monday night after the homeowner tried to burn an insect nest, authorities said.

The fire, at 96 South, was reported at about 9:45 p.m., and appeared to be out by about 10:20.

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MIDDLETOWN MISCREANTS REPORT

call-in-the-authoritiesRecent activity reports, unedited, as provided by the Middletown Township Police Department.

• On August 21, 2011 at approximately 5:40 pm Patrolman Brady Carr responded to the Shop Rite Store in reference to a report of a Shoplifting. Upon arrival store security advised the officer that they had observed the suspect, identified as John Osman, age 49, from Kupsch Street in Sayreville, NJ, attempt to leave the store without paying for numerous items.

Officer Carr conducted an investigation and arrested Osman for Shoplifitng. He was transported to police headquarters where he was processed and held on $2,500.00 bail with no 10% option.

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EXOTIC CAR SHOW SET FOR SATURDAY

exotic-cars2A taste of vrooms to come, as seen outside Blue Water Seafood Company last Friday night. (Click to enlarge)

michael-fux-2-0812111Foam-mattress maven Michael Fux, right, has been making the rounds in downtown Red Bank in recent days.

A car collector with tastes so lavish that Rolls Royce named a paint for him, Fux (pronounced ‘fyooks’) has been visiting merchants to drum up support for a charity event he’s bankrolling this Saturday afternoon: an exotic car show and entertainment extravaganza that will close a portion of Broad Street for five hours. [UPDATE: Event rescheduled for Saturday, September 10, because of Tropical Storm Irene]

But he’s also been trying to quash what he says is a mistaken impression: that the event is a grand opening event for two-month-old Blue Water Seafood Company, in which he’s an investor, and outside which some of his favorite toys are often lined up on Friday and Saturday nights.

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CARS VANDALIZED ON MONMOUTH STREET

rbpd-patrol-car-2The crime reports below were provided by the Red Bank Police Department for the period of August 12  to August 19, 2011. This information is unedited.

Criminal Mischief occurring on 8-13-11 at Monmouth Street. Victim reported that unknown person(s) damaged her parked vehicle by spray painting graffiti onto the vehicle. Ptl. Nicholas Maletto

Criminal Mischief occurring between 8-13-11 and 8-15-11 at Monmouth St. Victim reported that three sides of car were vandalized by spray-painting graffiti onto it by unknown person(s). Ptl. Jorge Torres

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BRIDGE AVENUE VAN FIRE DOUSED

van-fire-082111A volunteer Red Bank firefighter gives a final wet-down to the engine compartment of a van parked behind a  house at 232 Bridge Avenue Sunday morning. Information about the cause of the fire, reported at about 8:30 a.m., was not immediately available. A garage just inches away appeared undamaged. (Click to enlarge)

COPS: SHOPLIFTER HID RAZORS IN PANTS

police-blotterRecent activity reports, unedited, as provided by the Middletown Township Police Department.

• On August 19, 2011 at approximately 2:10 am Patrolman Stephen Greenwood responded to the area of Highway 35 and Cherry Tree Farm Road in reference to a report of a motor vehicle crash. Upon arrival the officer located a vehicle lying on its side after it had rolled over after striking a utility pole. Officer Greenwood assisted the driver, identified as Jennifer Healy, age 41, from Liberty Place in West Keansburg, NJ, out of the vehicle

Officer Greenwood then conducted an investigation which resulted in Healy being arrested for Driving While Intoxicated, Reckless Driving, Careless Driving and Failing to Maintain a Lane of Travel. She was transported to Riverview Hospital for treatment and was released pending a court date.

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LOVE IT: BEACH BOYS DO IT AGAIN AT BASIE

imageThe 2011 touring edition of the Beach Boys — with John Cowsill at far left, plus Bruce Johnston and Mike Love front and center — returns (minus John Stamos) to Red Bank on August 23.

By TOM CHESEK

It’s been a long time, longer than the days prior to the passing of Dennis and Carl Wilson, since the original members of The Beach Boys shared a ride – or the same side of the conference table at a lawyer’s office.

The American institution that’s fast approaching its golden anniversary in show business split into two factions around the time of the landmark Pet Sounds sessions in 1966 — the studio-bound residency of Brian Wilson and the hard-touring, crowdpleasing roadshow skippered by Mike Love. And despite intermittent attempts at reconciling for albums and tours, the dichotomy abides to this day in the more or less separate-but-equal live shows fronted by the first cousins turned frenemies.

When the 2011 touring edition of the Beach Boys rolls into the Count Basie Theatre for a late-summer’s indoor concert on Tuesday, August 23, the core of Mike Love and Bruce Johnston (the successful singer/ songwriter/ producer whose 45-year history with the band hasn’t stopped him from being “the New Guy”) returns to the scene of some well-received sets of recent years — as well as memorable nights featuring Brian and his band The Wondermints. The two senior Boys will preside over a pretty awesome cavalcade of canonical hits delivered by a crack team of craftsmen that includes veteran John Cowsill (from the bands that gave us both “867-5309 JENNY” and “The Rain, The Park and Other Things”) — although the on-again, off-again stuntcasting of TV star John Stamos as drummer/ vocalist appears not to be in the cards for the Count’s crib.

The story of the Beach Boys is a way-stranger-than-fiction saga that takes in madness, child abuse, mind control, Charles Manson, multi-generational laboratory-level drug use, untimely death and tons of litigation. The story of America, in other words; all set to a soundtrack of the most achingly gorgeous “teenage symphonies” ever devised in a crossfire of inspiration and aspiration.

redbankgreen spoke to Mike Love — polarizing figure, energizing frontman, boosterizing flagwaver for environmental causes, transcendental meditation and not-so-gentle politics — from the Boys’ tour stop outside Philadelphia; turn the record over for more.

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LOFTS PROJECT SEEKS PARKING REDUCTION

ws-lofts-081811A view of the proposed West Side Lofts, at the southeast corner of West Front Street and Bridge Avenue. Project principal Chris Cole, center below, speaks with Red Bank Antiques Center owner Guy Johnson during a break in the hearing. (Click to enlarge)

cole-johnson-081811After five dormant years, a plan for a massive mixed-use development on Red Bank’s West Side is back, slightly scaled down and headed for a possible tangle over parking.

Dubbed MW West Side Lofts, the project is slated to include 92 luxury rental apartments, street-level retail, live-and-work artists’ spaces, a parking garage and a Triumph Brewing Company restaurant – all configured in a horseshoe around Danny’s Grill & Wine Bar, at Bridge Avenue and West Front Street.

Approved by the borough zoning board in 2006, the plan was back before the board Thursday night over proposed changes that would raise the height of the five-story structure cut down the size of the pub. But it would also eliminate 51 parking spaces, raising early concerns among board members.

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OFFICIAL’S OWN TREE REMOVAL PERMIT AXED

lilleston-homeThe home of Elizabeth Lilleston, Fair Haven’s code enforcement officer. Below, her husband, Richard, looks at one of two trees that were to be removed from their Woodland Drive property. (Photos by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

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A permit issued by Fair Haven’s code enforcement officer allowing her to remove two trees from her own property has been yanked by the mayor following an outcry from neighbors.

Amid complaints of questionable ethics, and after  an inquiry by redbankgreen Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Mike Halfacre rescinded the permit that tree-law enforcer Elizabeth Lilleston issued on her Woodland Drive home, which she and her husband sold to a developer earlier this month.

“That can’t happen,” Halfacre said within minutes of hearing about the permit. “Everyone has to know it can’t happen that way.”

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SAILOR’S DELIGHT NOT IN THE FORECAST

park-bikers-081711A sailor’s-delight sunset backlit a group of kids on bikes at Red Bank’s Riverside Gardens Park Wednesday night. But a sailor’s-warning sunrise, and data-reading by the National Weather Service, foretell un-delightful thunderstorms Thursday and over the next few days. (Photo by Stacie Fanelli; click to enlarge)

BUMPER-TO-DAGMAR TRAFFIC DOWNTOWN

packardsClassic cars began purring into downtown Red Bank late Wednesday afternoon for a charity car show that’s scheduled to overtake Broad Street and other downtown streets until 10 p.m. Above, a 1956 Packard Caribbean Convertible, as seen through the rear window of a 1937 Packard Limousine. (Click to enlarge)

ROCK SCHOOL DOES A RED BANK ENCORE

school-of-rockWorkers took down the Summit Music signs and  prepped the Monmouth Street building for School of Rock signage last month. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

After a brief pause, 52 Monmouth Street is plugged back in. rcsm2_0105081

From mom-and-pop op to corporate giant, the space is once again open to young shredders, ivory ticklers and timekeepers in the Red Bank area.

School of Rock, the national titan of the music lesson and performance industry, reopened its doors on a once-thriving block of music education late last month.

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TWO HOUSES DONATED TO LUNCH BREAK

housesThe two properties adjoining Lunch Break, at right above, will be used to provide social services and clothing to the needy, if plans are approved. (Click to enlarge)

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Space is tight at Lunch Break, the Red Bank soup kitchen.

Because of soaring demand for hot meals and canned goods, the need for pantry space has soared, too. Volunteers handling administrative duties share dining tables with clients who come for the meals. Every Saturday, bundles of clothing stored in the basement of the 25-year-old facility named for co-founder Norma Todd must be carted upstairs, out through a parking lot and back into the ground-floor dining room for distribution to clients in need.  When winter approaches, executive director Gwen Love has to clear out of her cramped office so clients can get flu shots in private.

The space shortage is more than just an inconvenience. It impinges on Lunch Break’s mission, says Love: to deliver services to those in need with a measure of dignity and respect.

So the recent donation of two houses adjoining Lunch Break’s home at 121 on Drs. James Parker Boulevard, just as the organization was about to embark on a search for additional space, was something of a “miracle,” says Love.

“Every now and then, it rains down blessings,” she tells redbankgreen.

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HOT RODS RUMBLE INTO TOWN FOR A CAUSE

fcr176The late Stu Paer, below — whose Red Bank Sleep Shoppe sponsorship could be seen on many cars in competition at Wall Stadium, including his own INSOMNIA funny car — is remembered in a special Cruise Night event tonight in downtown Red Bank. (Photos by classicfunnycarboard.com)

fcr175aThey come from all over Monmouth County and parts beyond — the rat rods and tuners, the street rods and customs, the competition-class racers, the blue-ribbon show cars, and the weekend works-in-progress from countless suburban garages.

Tonight, they’ll be lining the streets of Red Bank’s business district in remembrance of a good friend, to benefit of a great cause.

Once a semi-regular Friday night occurrence, Red Bank Cruise Night returns for a special edition presented by Red Bank RiverCenter in conjunction with Friends of Stu Paer — an organization co-founded by Frank Woods, borough code enforcement officer and, as a classic car owner himself, an organizer of the annual Liberty Hose Car Show.

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A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE

nyc-skylinePuffy clouds lingered after several days of rain, but the view of Sandy Hook and the Manhattan skyline from the Route 36 bridge over the Shrewsbury River was unimpeded Tuesday afternoon.

Wednesday’s forecast by the National Weather Service calls for ample sunshine and temperatures peaking around 84, but rain may return Thursday and Friday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi. Click to enlarge)

LIQUOR STORE TAKES A LICKING

crates-crash-081611No injuries were reported, and no summonses issued, after a car drove through the front window of Crate’s Beverages on Bridge Avenue in Red Bank early Tuesday afternoon. Police said the driver told them the vehicle accelerated unexpectedly as she was parking. (Photo courtesy of Chris Lomazzo. Click to enlarge.)

TRAFFIC AN ISSUE FOR HOTEL PLAN

hampton-pl-bdPlanning board member Ed Zipprich and alternates Barbara Boas and Linda Cohen pore over plans for a hotel proposed for the Red Bank end of the Cooper Bridge. A second-story floor plan, below. (Photos by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

hampton-fl-pl-081511The fate of a large-scale hotel envisioned at the northern gateway to Red Bank could hinge on a turn signal.

Opening testimony by professionals of the Hampton Inn and Suites proposal, prompted some planning board members to balk at the idea of making the current two-opening driveway just one. Expressing concern for motorists trying to get across the “speedway” of Route 35, they pressed the developer to “make things right” at a busy and troublesome intersection.

Officials who will eventually vote on some 20 requested variances for the former filling station site also showed concern about the look of the six-story building so its roof line doesn’t resemble the the deck “of the old Queen Mary.”

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