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PUBLIC DEFENDER FACES DISBARMENT

just_in1By JOHN T. WARD

On a typical Thursday in Red Bank’s municipal court, Public Defender Kevin Wigenton may juggle dozens of cases, crafting pleas on behalf of clients he’s met just moments before.

But his toughest case ever may be one he had almost a decade to prepare for, and in which he’s the defendant.

On Wednesday afternoon, Wigenton went before the state Supreme Court to ask that he not be disbarred for shoddy bookkeeping discovered in his solo practice in 2002.

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AN INDIE CHRISTMAS, FOR JUST ONE NIGHT

nothing4xmasCast members of NOTHING FOR CHRISTMAS, director Sean Guess’s indie feature film that returns to Clearview Cinemas on White Street for two showings Thursday.

Stroll past Red Bank’s Clearview Cinemas, and you’d take the slickly designed, professional-looking poster for any of the many Oscar hopefuls, festival favorites and international delights that regularly play the art house.

Take a closer look, though, and you might notice that Nothing for Christmas is an offering that’s unique to the local multiplex landscape — an uber-indie, locally shot feature film that’s written, produced, directed and edited by Shore area auteur Sean Guess.

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SAVOUR THE HOLIDAY FLAVOUR

sonnykennmcoconnorJersey Shore guitar master Sonny Kenn provides the sonic spice as the Red Bank Flavour culinary campaign kicks off with a special holiday season smorgasbord benefit Thursday night at the Oyster Point.

The culinary consortium that is Red Bank Flavour marks its first holiday-season interlude with a happening that could be the start of a new December tradition on the picturesque banks of the Navesink, when the river-view ballroom of the Oyster Point Hotel hosts a special Holiday Flavour event Thursday evening.

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RED BANK PUTS PARKING DECK IN GEAR

white-st-lot-102011The White Street lot is an “underutilized” asset and needs a garage, says Mayor Pasquale Menna. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot-topic rightA year after reopening of one of Red Bank’s most controversial questions – whether to build a parking garage in the heart of downtown – Mayor Pasquale Menna is planning to throw things into gear next year.

Menna tells redbankgreen that he plans to appoint up to three professionals with expertise in redevelopment – a lawyer, a planner and an architect – to give town officials guidance on the ins and outs of getting a parking deck built on the site of the White Street municipal lot.

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ARTISTS EMERGED, AND IN PERSON

sangitaphadkeThe almost edible work of pastel specialist Sangita Phadke is represented in an ARTISTS EMERGED retrospective at Lincroft’s Monmouth Museum, where a special Art Talk event takes place this evening.

For the past five years, the New Jersey Emerging Artists Series has been one of the most eagerly anticipated programs at the Monmouth Museum — and a leg up for the Middletown-based museum (on the Lincroft campus of Brookdale College) into the realm of the area’s more cutting-edge galleries and public facilities.

Tonight, several of the 20 featured artists in the group show of alumni from the series — including Colts Neck’s Sangita Phadke, who makes lusciously edible pastel still life paintings — will display and discuss their recent works in paint, sculpture, photography, computer graphics and more.

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SNAPPED POLE SHUTS RUMSON STREET

20111129-040421.jpgPolice shut down Bingham Avenue between Ridge and Rumson roads in Rumson shortly after 3:30 p.m. Tuesday when a utility pole at Bingham Hill Circle snapped, dipping its wires. (Click to enlarge)

TODAY’S LESSON: CHICKENS & STOP SIGNS

fh-council-1-112811Seventh-grader Rebecca Unsinn weighs in on stop signs, above, and resident Dorothy Nowack, below, makes a pitch for keeping chickens in her yard. (Click to enlarge)

fh-council-2Students at Fair Haven’s Knollwood School got a peek inside the machinery of local government Monday.

That meant an agenda loaded with routine business, including a measure permitting the installation of new stop signs; a request by a Hance Road resident to keep three chicken hens – but no roosters – in her back yard as egg-yielding pets; a proposal to honor Ed Pitts, the late head of the town’s environmental commission, by naming the Battin Road boat launch for him; and the payment of $84,320 in bills.

But the sixth-through-eighth-grade students at the grades 4-8 school had their own agendas, and peppered the governing body with questions right up to the 3 p.m. bell.

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LIBRARY HEAD ADDS NEW CHAPTER TO TALE

mary-faith-chmiel-3Eight-year-old Andrea John introduces herself to Mary Faith Chmiel at a meet-the-director event held at the library earlier this month. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD mary-faith-chmiel-2

Book-loving Red Bankers of a certain vintage may experience a bit of deja vu when visiting the public library these days: it seems the institution’s new director looks a lot like the woman who owned a long-departed downtown used bookstore, Twice Sold Tales.

That’s because, of course, the two women are one and the same: Mary Faith Chmiel.

Chmiel, 57, of Tinton Falls, returned to town after a dozen years absence, this time taking up working residence among the racks on West Front Street, her bookstore having given way to a Starbucks early in the days of the first Internet browser. She was hired as the library’s new director in October, replacing Deborah Griffin-Sadel, who departed under unexplained circumstances in January.

redbankgreen pulled Chmiel aside for a quickie interview during a meet-the-director event hosted by the Friends of the Red Bank Public Library earlier this month.

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KEEPING THE COPS BUSY IN MIDDLETOWN

Recent activity reports, unedited, as provided by the Middletown Township Police Department.

call-in-the-authorities• Rick Chapman, age 45, from Monmouth Avenue in Leonardo, NJ, arrested on November 21, 2011 by Detective Daniel Sullivan for Burglary and Theft. He was released after posting $2,500.00 with a 10% option set by Judge Richard Thompson.

• Jesse Ballard, age 20, from Birchwood Lane in Middletown, NJ, arrested on November 21, 2011 by Patrolman Greg Buhowski on a Contempt of Court warrant issued by the Red Bank Municipal Court. He was released after posting $47.00 bail.

• Jenine Rounds, age 30, from Pacific Avenue in Middletown, NJ, arrested on November 21, 2011 by Patrolman Greg Buhowski on a Contempt of Court warrant issued by the Keansburg Municipal Court. She was released after posting $90.00 bail.

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SEASON OPENER

It’s a full-on sight-and-sound spectacular: the annual night-after-Thanksgiving Santa Claus train ride into Red Bank followed by the parade to Broad Street, the downtown light-up and the Holiday Express concert.

For the 18th consecutive year, it was all once again best experienced perched on dad’s shoulders while wearing a funny hat.

redbankgreen photographer Peter Lindner was there. Were you?

HOLIDAY EXPRESS TO USHER IN THE SEASON

holiday-express-2010-2Scenes from the 2010 Holiday Express concert. (Click to enlarge)

holiday-express-2010-1The newborn 2011 holiday season moves outdoors with a bang of a snare drum and a blast of white light on Broad Street in Red Bank Friday night.

That’s right, it’s time for the 18th annual Holiday Express concert, complete with a bustling Santa parade, a sudden toss of sparkle into the roadside trees and familiar, feel-good seasonal tunes by Tim McLoone and his stage-sprawling band of musicmakers.

And it all kicks off a season of Gingerbread Walks, Horse & Carriage Rides, Holiday Harmonies on the streets and more, including a new, movable feast sponsored by the town’s restaurants called Holiday Flavour.

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NAVESINK RUN: “IT’S A HILL. GET OVER IT.”

navesink-challenge-courseThe 15k out-and-back course. The 5k turns around just east of Club Way. (Click to enlarge)

A pair of events to benefit the Middletown Youth Athletic Association sends runners and walkers over one of the most scenic, and hilliest, routes in the Red Bank area Sunday morning.

The 11th annual Navesink Challenge, consisting of a 15k-run and a 5k walk-or-run, kick off at Bodman Park in the Navesink section of Middetown at 10 a.m..

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ANOTHER ‘DEAD ON’ ARRIVAL IN RED BANK

brianstrattonberkleeMulti-instrumentalist, session ace and educator Marc Muller (right) leads the latest edition of the DEAD ON LIVE project back to the Count Basie Friday night. (Photo by Brian Stratton)

Call it a lifestyle choice, a fad or a fashion. Reject it as something immoral and unnatural. But someone close to you — your niece or nephew, your letter carrier, the church elder, that soulmate you thought you knew so well — is a Deadhead, or something very much like it.

Unlike the Grateful Dead themselves — who just kind of improvised their way into one of the most enviable careers ever constructed of happy/sad accidents — the fans, whether musicians themselves or laymen, are a detail-intensive bunch for sure. Contrary to the get-a-bath stereotype, they’re the folks who make the trains run on time; the entrepreneurs and visionaries, the doctors and district managers, and almost certainly the IT techs who make sense of that often inscrutable machinery we’re all plugged into these days.

Here on and around the greater Red Bank green, we’ve got access to any number of Grateful Dead tributes and tributaries working the regional circuit — from projects like the borough-based Dead Bank and Mark Diomede’s venerable Juggling Suns, to Splintered Sunlight and Dark Star Orchestra, the well-traveled ensemble that dedicates each of its gigs to a specific recreation of a particular set from the Dead’s historical soundboard canon.

But if there exists an even more elevated plane of obsession, it’s the exclusive purview of Marc Muller — master multi-instrumentalist, sought-after session ace, adjunct professor at Monmouth University and the man whose Rock the Basie band-camp program has become a firmly rooted feature of the Count Basie Theatre schedule.

On Black Friday — a night when everyone from Santa to the Grinch is expected to be present and accounted for on the streets, stages and station stops of Red Bank — the 10-year veteran of Shania Twain‘s band returns to the Basie boards (in the company of special guest Nicole Atkins) with the latest edition of a project about which he says, “I don’t know if ANYONE has done this to the extent that I have.”

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RED BANK POLICE BLOTTER

call-in-the-authoritiesThe crime reports below were provided by the Red Bank Police Department for the period of November 11 to November 23, 2011. This information is unedited.

Criminal Mischief occurring between 11-11-11 and 11-12-11 at  Broad Street. Victim reported that unknown person(s) threw cooking oil all over the front door and porch of business.  Ptl. Dawn Shields.

Criminal Mischief occurring between 11-13-11 and 11-14-11 at Count Basie Field, Mohawk Lane. Unknown person(s) kicked in garage door and damaged same.  No entry gained.  Ptl. Nicholas Maletto.

Criminal Mischief occurring on 11-14-11 at Spring St. apartment.  Manager reported that unknown person(s) tried to gain entry into vacant apartment by damaging rear door to residence.  Ptl. George Travostino.

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RED BANK BONDS SHRUG OFF MOODY’S MOOD

money-half-columnWall Street debt-rating agency Moody’s may take a negative view of Red Bank’s fiscal situation, but investors don’t, town officials said Tuesday night.

Councilman Mike DuPont, who heads the borough’s finance committee, said investors had snapped up $5.4 million worth of bonds offered in a recent refinancing. The followed Moody’s report at the end of October, which said that its Aa3 rating on $25.2 million worth of general-obligation bonds could be downgraded if “recent fiscal strain” continues.

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POLICE ADD THREE, PROMOTE THREE OTHERS

rb_police-promos_112211Getting promotions were, from top left, Wendy Samis, Juan Sardo and Robert Clayton. Newly hired were, from left, Jhonatan Quispe, Stanley Balmer and Garrett Falco Jr. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Three new police officers joined the ranks of Red Bank blue Tuesday night at a packed-house council meeting that also saw three veterans of the force elevated to new positions.

The new hires were touted by elected officials as an exceptional bargain for the town: unlike many of their predecessors, all three already have worked as officers in other jurisdictions. Which means they also “have already been through the police academy training, which saves the borough quite a bit of money,” said Councilman Art Murphy, who doubles as police commissioner.

The trio were culled from an applicant pool of 500 that was swollen with experienced cops who’ve been laid off because of budget issues, Chief Steve McCarthy tells redbankgreen.

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QUIETLY, A MEGAYACHT DOCKS IN SEA BRIGHT

islander-112211The Islander tied up at the end of Church Street in Sea Bright. (Click to enlarge)

islander-2It’s a megayacht so lavish that it not only has its own website, but the website has tabs marked “main saloon” and “sky lounge.”

It’s so large that a motorist turning down Church Street in Sea Bright Tuesday morning thought an apartment building had been erected at the end of the block in his absence.

Welcome to the Islander, 196 feet of floating, sumptuous luxury, now docked next to a muddy steel fabrication yard in Sea Bright.

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BALDWIN & PAL: UNPLUGGED AND ELECTRIC

dias-baldwin-and-cumpsty-photo-by-mike-mclaughlin2Alec Baldwin and Michael Cumpsty (right) join Two River Theater artistic director John Dias (left) for an “unscripted and unrehearsed” UNPLUGGED fundraiser at the Bridge Avenue artspace Monday night.

By TOM CHESEK

According to Alec Baldwin, there’s a certain comfort to be found in the eight-shows-a-week Broadway grind, in that “at 8pm I know exactly where I’ll be, who I’ll be with, and what I’ll say.”

As for an admittedly “confessional” Michael Cumpsty, the British-born actor allowed that “I feel more myself when I’m playing someone else.”

The two stage veterans were in a casually confessional mood on Monday night — with several hundred eavesdroppers listening in on the unscripted and unrehearsed conversation — as Two River Theater hosted a full house for an intimate evening of scenes and stories presented under the name Baldwin. Cumpsty. Unplugged.

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MORE RED BANK COPS SOUGHT ON CRIME RISE

rbpd6 doorChief Steve McCarthy is expected to request authorization to hire three officers to combat rising crime rates. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

mccarthy-chief-steve-2Red Bank’s top cop is hoping to do some force rebuilding following the recent release of data showing a spike in crime in 2010 – and unreleased figures showing that it’s gotten worse this year.

Chief Steve McCarthy has asked the borough council to OK the hiring of three patrol officers in an effort to get the number of uniformed officers back to 40, the number it began the year with.

The request, coming as officials brace for what is expected to be the tightest municipal budget in years, follows the release of the State Police annual Uniform Crime Reports data earlier this month showing that both violent and nonviolent crime in town shot up in 2010.

And if the trends of the first ten months of 2011 hold, “we’re looking at another 8- to 10-percent increase” for 2011, McCarthy tells redbankgreen.

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HOTEL FOES FOCUS ON RIVER VIEWS

gasiorowski-3Lawyer Ron Gasiorowski grills Roy DeBoer, a planner for the developer of the proposed Hampton Inn. Below, a sketch shows the east side of the hotel. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

hampton-elevOpponents of a proposed proposed 72-room hotel in Red Bank seized on a claim Monday night that the seven-story structure would offer improved, albeit “filtered” views of the Navesink River for passersby.

They also began whittling away at arguments made in favor of a dozen variances or waivers needed for the Hampton Inn to be built on the site of a disused gas station on Route 35, at the foot of Cooper’s Bridge.

The  challenges highlighted what foes consider numerous shortcomings of the plan, which is beset by questions about size, traffic, parking and environmental contamination issues – not to mention a pending lawsuit over whether the borough planning board ought to be considering the proposal.

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MAN HELD ON WEAPONS CHARGES

Recent activity reports, unedited, as provided by the Middletown Township Police Department.

call-in-the-authorities• Jose Rosario, age 42, from Richard Ave in West Caldwell, NJ, arrested on November 15, 2011 by Patrolman Anthony Dellatacoma on a Contempt of Court warrant issued by the Middletown Municipal Court. He was held on $1,000.00 bail.

• Theresa Oswin, age 47, from Henry Place in Middletown, NJ, arrested on November 15, 2011 by Patrolman Anthony Dellatacoma on a Contempt of Court warrant issued by the Middletown Municipal Court. She was released after posting $100.00 bail.

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