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LATE-NIGHT BURGERS COMING TO RED BANK

Jr.’s owner Mike DeSimone put together a group of investors to buy the yellow building in the background so he could expand his West End-based hamburger business there. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

It may have one of the ugliest facades in Red Bank. But when Mike DeSimone looked at 17 West Front Street, he saw this:

• A bustling corner with an Urban Outfitters right next door.

• Four bars within a couple of hundred feet disgorging revelers who just might want a gourmet-quality burger to cap off the night.

• A nearby hospital with hundreds of employees working around the clock.

• A northern beachhead for his highly successful Jr’s West End, the Long Branch late-night restaurant he launched five years ago.

In fact, DeSimone liked the location so much that he persuaded a group of friends to buy the former home of Zuleyka’s Kitchen so his business could lease out the ground floor space.

He even plans to live upstairs.

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R-FH TOPS RBR IN RIDGE ROAD RIVALRY

Delores Martin, mother of point guard Asim Jules, cheers on Red Bank Regional in its NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II showdown against Rumson-Fair Haven Tuesday night.

Bulldog senior JJ Conklin scored a career-high 22 points as R-FH won at home, 47-39, and advanced to the second round of state playoffs at Ewing Thursday night. (Photos by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge)

MAN ARRESTED FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT

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

call-in-the-authorities• Carissa Bossert, age 23, from Woods End Road in Middletown, NJ, arrested on February 26, 2012 by Police Officer Lisa Vreeland on a Contempt of Court warrant issued by the Red Bank Municipal Court. She was released after posting $100.00 bail.

• Michael Roche, age 18, from Abby Road in Middletown, NJ, arrested on February 25, 2012 by Patrolman Stephen Keller for Obstructing the Administration of Law and Resisting Arrest. He was released pending a court date.

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BUY-IN ON NEW SEA BRIGHT BRIDGE ELUSIVE

Below, dozens of local residents turned out in Sea Bright Monday for a midday presentation of options for dealing with the “serious” condition of the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge. (Click to enlarge)

By STACIE FANELLI

Sixty years old, the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge over the Shrewsbury River is rapidly corroding, inadequate for today’s traffic loads and behind the times on accident safety. Its electrical system is the same one installed in 1952. It’s not up to snuff in terms of earthquake resistance, either.

In a word, Monmouth County engineering officials say, the bridge’s condition is “serious.”

Whether to spend an estimated $10 million to rehabilitate the bridge or some $50 million to replace it was the core question at a pair of public hearings held Monday in Sea Bright and Rumson. More than a dozen county officials and consultants were present at each to kick off a series of discussions aimed, they said, at “building consensus” on a solution.

But some residents of the two towns voiced skepticism that their concerns – which include the impacts of a new span on property values on the Rumson side and on the business district in Sea Bright – would be given much weight in the process.

“They seem to have it in mind to build a new bridge, and I just don’t want it destroying the neighborhood in the process,” said Tom Calvanico, who lives near the Rumson anchorage.

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FERNANDES FUNERAL SLATED FOR SATURDAY

Above, former Mayor Maria Fernandes, seen being interviewed by a TV news crew in 2008. Below, bunting blows in the breeze at Sea Bright’s borough hall Monday in her honor. (Click to enlarge)

Details of the funeral for the late Maria Fernandes, the former Sea Bright mayor, were announced Monday in the SeaBreeze, the borough newsletter.

Dear SeaBreeze Subscribers,

For those of you who have not heard the news, with regret, we report that Honorable Maria Fernandes passed away yesterday morning.

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TAX RATE UNCHANGED IN FAIR HAVEN

Fair Haven propery owners will see no change in the local portion of their property tax bills this year, the Asbury Park Press reports Tuesday.

For the fifth consecutive year, according to Press reporter Larry Higgs, the borough council has introduced a spending plan that either reduces or maintains the municipal slice of property levies – excluding school, Monmouth County and Open Space taxes, that is.

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TRAIN RUNOVER VICTIM IDENTIFIED

José Melgar, a 32-year-old Red Bank man, was in Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune with a fractured skull and other injuries after he was run over by a train at the borough rail station Sunday night, authorities said Monday morning.

Melgar was reported to have jumped off the platform in front of a northbound train as it was pulling into the station at 9:15 p.m., according to New Jersey Transit spokesman John Durso Jr.

“The train was entering the station, so it was going at a slow rate of speed,” Durso tells redbankgreen.

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SHOW TIME AT RBR

Scenes from the second annual Sunday Showcase at Red Bank Regional High on Sunday, in which dozens of students danced, sang, played and spoke, accompanied by Tim McLoone and the Shirleys.

The event was sponsored by the RBR Education Foundation, which provides grants to fund educational resources and programs for RBR students.

redbankgreen intern Stacie Fanelli was there and shot this video.

TRIO LOADS UP ON ANTIQUES AND FLEES

The crime reports below were provided by the Red Bank Police Department for the period of February 17 to February 24, 2012. This information is unedited.

Theft occurring between 2-17-12 and 2-18-12 at English Plaza parking lot.  Unknown subjects stole drivers side view mirror from parked vehicle.  Ptl. Matthew Ehrenreich.

Criminal Mischief occurring on 2-18-12 at  Spring St.  Victim reported that unknown person(s) broke her side view mirror on parked vehicle.  Ptl. Thomas Doremus.

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MIDDLETOWN POLICE BLOTTER

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

call-in-the-authorities• Latisha Boyd, age 21, from Boston Way Village in Asbury Park, NJ, arrested on February 21, 2012 by Police Officer Janine Kennedy for Theft by Unlawful Taking. She was released pending a court date.

• Gregory Decher, age 29, from Laurel Avenue in West Keansburg, NJ, arrested on February 21, 2012 by Sergeant Charles Terefenko on Contempt of Court warrants issued by the Union and Newark Municipal Courts. He was held on $385.00 bail.

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MAN STRUCK BY TRAIN IN RED BANK

Firefighters leaving the scene shortly after a badly injured man was extricated from beneath a northbound train at the Red Bank station around 9:40 p.m. Sunday. Details of the incident and the victim’s condition were not immediately known. (Click to enlarge)

FORMER SEA BRIGHT MAYOR DIES

Maria Fernandes in 2008. (Click to enlarge)

Former Mayor Maria Fernandes of Sea Bright has died, redbankgreen has confirmed.

She passed away at about 10 a.m. Sunday at Monmouth Medical in Long Branch, where she’d been taken by borough emergency volunteers two nights ago for difficulty breathing, according to Councilman Read Murphy, who was on the EMS call.

We’ll have more details Monday.

SPITZER CALL GIRL PLANS LINGERIE SHOP

AshleydupreWould-be Red Bank bra and bikini merchant Ashley Dupré in a file photo.

By JOHN T. WARD

Ashley Dupré, the former high-priced courtesan whose romps with Eliot Spitzer torpedoed his career as New York’s governor, plans to open a lingerie and swimwear store in Red Bank, redbankgreen has learned.

Operating under the name Femme by Ashley, Dupré has signed a lease at 15 Broad Street, a stylish storefront recently vacated by children’s boutique Lavish Kids, a source close to Dupré confirms.

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AN OCEAN OF RED IN RED BANK

It’s not just Mother Nature’s recent toying with the thermostat that’s giving us a taste of spring in February.

Every year at this time, Red Bank’s temperature rises for a few hours as hundreds of women, most of them bedecked in luscious red, gather for drinks, dancing and a good cause: ‘The Red Dress Event,’ hosted by Meridian Women’s Heart Connection.

Once again, on Thursday night, stunning designer gowns from New York’s Fashion Week were on display at Buona Sera Restaurant, where a ballroom turned into a scarlet ocean and the dance floor was jumping.

redbankgreen was there, natch.

FLUTISTS ALIGHT IN LITTLE SILVER

Surrounded by hardcover murder mysteries and ‘Glee’ DVDs, The Festive Flutes, a Monmouth County-based quintet, performed a sprightly program of Vivaldi, Handel, Gershwin and others for an audience of several dozen at the Little Silver Public Library Thursday night (Click to enlarge)

RED BANK GUN INCIDENT INVESTIGATED

Red Bank’s police chief has high praise for an officer who peaceably disarmed a man who was pointing a handgun loaded with hollow-point bullets at another man early Saturday morning.

But much about the incident remains under wraps as police continue their investigation, Chief Steve McCarthy tells redbankgreen.

Charged with aggravated assault with a handgun and other criminal violations was Andrew Makuch, 25, of 16 Hudson Avenue.

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FIRE TRUCK PRICE COULD REACH $1 MILLION

The new truck would be garaged at the Navesink Hook & Ladder Company on Mechanic Street, replacing a vehicle whose ladder failed last year. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank taxpayers are facing a cost of up to $1 million to replace an aerial ladder truck, town officials said Wednesday night.

The borough council introduced a $1.1 million bonding ordinance to pay for a new rig, which would replace a 25-year-old truck whose ladder components failed during routine maintenance last year, said Fire Marshal and Administrator Stanley Sickels.

Replacement parts are not available, and the vehicle is no longer compliant with national firefighting equipment standards, he said.

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PED/BIKE RAMP PLANNED FOR NEW BRIDGE

Monmouth County Engineer Joe Ettore traces the path of the planned walkway, which continues off the proposed new bridge (in yellow) and up a series of ramps along the the west side of the rail line to Shrewsbury Avenue. Below, an elevation rendering of the bridge.  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Monmouth County officials say they have solved the daunting sidewalk-to-nowhere conundrum they faced in designing a new bridge to connect Red Bank and Middletown at West Front Street.

The fix? Create a walk-and-bike path that will bypass the narrow rail trestle on the Red Bank side, Monmouth County Engineer Joe Ettore said Wednesday.

In what was billed as a preview of a fuller public presentation to come in the spring, Monmouth County Engineer Joe Ettore told Red Bank’s mayor and council that the revised plan for the new Hubbards Bridge also calls for a construction timetable that will detour traffic around the span for just three or four months of the projected 18-to-24-month buildout.

And when it’s all done, the borough will end up with a new parcel of green space overlooking the upper Navesink River, he said.

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PARKER HOMESTEAD GETS HISTORIC SEAL

The Parker house stands at an entrance to what is now the Sickles Market and remnants of the original working farm on Rumson Road. (Click to enlarge)

Five months after securing state Register of Historic Places status, Little Silver’s 347-year-old Parker Homestead has been added to that list’s national counterpart, the Asbury Park Press reports Thursday.

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A TASTE OF SPRING IN FEBRUARY

Lunchtime strollers in downtown Red Bank found conditions right for light jackets and shirtsleeves Wednesday. It will be even warmer Thursday and Friday, says the weatherbot. (Click to enlarge)

The fingers-crossed nearly snowless winter of 2012 offered a tantalizing taste of spring on the Green Wednesday, and there’s more to come.

The National Weather Service forecasts local highs of around 58 degrees Thursday – about the same as Wednesday – and 62 on Friday.

Thursday will be mostly sunny, but Friday’s warmth will likely accompany rain, mainly in the morning.

Here’s the extended outloook:

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RUMSON: TALK ABOUT DOWNSIZING

From this… to that? Having moved out of the 18,000-square-foot colossus above, Pete and Judy Dawkins recently purchased the home shown below. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Eight months after selling one of Rumson’s most jaw-dropping homes for $12 million, Heisman Trophy winner and financier Pete Dawkins has picked up a relatively modest house across town.

Monmouth County property records show Dawkins and his wife, Judy, closed on a house on Highland Avenue earlier this month, paying $1.3 million.

Unlike Long Point, the Dawkinses’ former Navesink River-front estate whose driveway was nearly as long as their new street, the new place has neighboring homes just a dozen feet away on either side.

As to what he Dawkinses plan to do with the house, they’re not saying.

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PAIR SAFE AFTER FIRE RIPS RUMSON HOME

A firefighter knocks down the remnants of a blaze that did heavy damage to the residence at 31 Park Avenue Tuesday night. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Two adults escaped unhurt as fire tore through the second story of the Rumson home in which they were living Tuesday night, officials said.

The blaze, reported at 8:15 p.m., caused extensive damage to the upstairs portion of the house at 31 Park Avenue. The was no immediate determination of a cause, authorities said.

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