RED BANK: READY TO ROCKIT AT THE BASIE

Musicians with the Red Bank-based Rockit program for aspiring rock-n-rollers ages 8 to 18 rehearsed Tuesday for their biannual show at the Count Basie Theatre this Saturday.

Featuring vocalists Emily Ainbinder, 13, and Christine Meisenhelter, 16, the Basie-affiliated program plans to deliver a set of ‘Songs from the City’ – from Detroit (Motown), to Seattle (Pearl Jam) and London (as with Led Zeppelin’s ‘Bron-Y-Aur Stomp,’ above).

Rockit will also be opening for Eric Burdon, formerly of the Animals, at the Basie on August 28. (Video by Sarah Klepner.)

RED BANK: SPEED BUMP FOR WALGREEN’S?

Walgreen’s proposes to build a 14,200-square-foot pharmacy with a drive-thru window on the former site of the Rassas auto dealership. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

With hearings on a proposed Walgreen’s pharmacy at the southernmost entry to town scheduled to begin next month, Red Bank’s governing body is moving swiftly to limit drive-thru businesses in town.

The move is not part of an effort to alter or kill the Walgreen’s plan, say both Mayor Pasquale Menna and borough Attorney Dan O’Hern, who serves as a councilman in Little Silver, just yards away from the site. Rather, a proposed change to the zoning law, Menna said, is all about “quality of life.”

Town officials last week introduced an amendment to the borough zoning law that would require any property with a drive-thru be at least 100 feet from a residential zone.

The proposed Walgreen’s, which would be built in a highway business zone at the former Rassas auto dealership lot on Broad Street between Garfield and Rumson places, abuts a residential zone.

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LAWYER ADMITS STEALING HOUSE AND MORE

A former Red Bank-based lawyer faces up to 12 years in prison following his admission Tuesday that he stole a house in Locust from the estate of his late landlord and ripped off clients to the tune of more than half a million dollars.

In a prepared statement, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said the disbarred 39-year-old lawyer, Alex Iler of Atlantic Highlands, pleaded guilty to stealing real property from the estate of a deceased woman and embezzling money from other clients.

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RED BANK: STICKING HIS NECK OUT FOR LAFFS

‘Jeffrey the Giraffe’ greets passersby on Chestnut Street in Red Bank Monday evening, above, and on a recent Sunday, below. His creator, Sergio Navarro, said that Jeffrey – a clothes horse, and no stuffed shirt about it, either is there to simply to amuse. And people do laugh when they see him, said Hector Ceben, who also lives at that address. “It makes me happy,” he said. (Photo by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

IN THE NEWS: SEA GULL’S NEST, TRAFFIC CAMS

Video from an intersection in Roselle Park, one of six locations cited by Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon as shortchanging motorists on yellow light time, resulting in more tickets tied to camera systems. (Click to enlarge)

Topics of interest covered in local and regional media today…

Tuesday’s New York Times has a feature article on the fate of the Sea Gull’s Nest on Sandy Hook. The restaurant hasn’t reopened since Hurricane Sandy.

From the story:

For a quarter-century, the ritual never changed.

As the sun began to set over Sandy Hook Bay each summer evening, a man with a white beard grabbed a microphone at a seaside restaurant and began talking about pride and sacrifice, patriotism and service. He invoked the nation’s war dead, welcomed visitors from other countries, asked everyone to stand up, take off their hats, hold hands with the strangers at the next table, and give thanks.

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ALL IN A FURRY, SCALY, SMELLY DAY’S WORK

Animal control officer Henry Perez holds the brown bat he caught in the Red Bank home of redbankgreen owners John Ward and Trish Russoniello Monday morning. The bat went off to a lab for rabies testing, and – following Centers for Disease Control guidelines on people exposed to bats in enclosed places while sleeping – Ward and Russoniello went for rabies vaccinations.

Meanwhile, it was day that also had Perez capturing a dying skunk in Shrewsbury and picking up a large, rotting dead fish in Fair Haven. “I’ve been Febrezing myself all day,” he said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: PLAY SERIES UNITES COMMUNITIES

Red Bank Regional student Patricia Martinez, second from right above,with her family at the Two River Theater Sunday. Below, Chilean women talk about the evening’s reading. (Photo by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

The Latino immigrant experience came to life on stage at the Two River Theater in Red Bank this weekend at the third annual Crossing Borders festival, a free series of Latino-authored play readings and discussions., featuring discussions between audience and actors and director afterward.

Sunday’s play, ‘Ropes,’ which was read in Spanish with an English translation available, was about a reunion between three brothers and their father who had left the family to become a renowned tightrope walker.

“We all loved it,” said Patricia Martinez, a junior at Red Bank Regional High School who has attended the theater’s Summer Theater Camp for the past three years. “The actors were awesome, in and out of character – they were cheerful, funny, and intriguing.”

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RED BANK: FACADE MONEY NOW AVAILABLE

Red Bank businesses with store and office-fronts in need of sprucing up may be eligible for façade-improvement grants of up to $1,850 under a program that Mayor Pasquale Menna is set to detail Wednesday afternoon.

Here’s an announcement from borough hall issued Monday afternoon:

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RED BANK: NEW BRIDGE PARTS STOLEN

call-in-the-authoritiesThe crime reports below were provided by the Red Bank Police Department for the period of August 08 to August 15, 2013. This information is unedited.

Theft occurring on 8-10-13 while at East Front St. restaurant. Victim reported that unknown person(s) took her Apple I Phone. Sgt. Robert Gannon.

Theft occurring between 8-7-13 and 8-10-13 on West Bergen Place residence.  Victim reported that while moving out of his room unknown person(s) stole a 32-inch Vizio T.V., X box 360 and two video games. Ptl. David Hicks.

Criminal Mischief occurring on 8-12-13 at Broad St.  Report of unknown person(s) deploying graffiti onto side of business. Ptl. Dawn Shields.

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RED BANK: STEPPING UP TO THE PLATE

Lunch Break executive director Gwen Love and the winners of an eight-team softball tournament held Sunday at Count Basie Fields to raise funds for the Red Bank community service organization congratulate a girl who raised an additional $37 selling lemonade. At right, Sherda Jetwani and tournament organizer Rick Brandt admire the winner’s trophy. (Photo by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

SHREWSBURY: MUGGING REPORTED

A Red Bank man was taken for cash and a cellphone in a daylight scam attempt that turned into a strong-arm robbery in Shrewsbury Friday morning, police said.

The unidentified victim appeared to have been the target of a ‘pigeon drop‘ scam, in which a con man pretends to have found a large sum of money, said Detective Sergeant Bobby Turner.

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RED BANK: MEDIUM HOT THAI JUST LIKE MOM’S

muang thai 081613A planned expansion of Muang Thai into an adjoining flower shop will provide direct access to the outdoor seating area, below, that now requires a walk around the corner. (Photo below courtesy of Muang Thai. Click to enlarge)

By ROBERT KERN

Muang Thai 4The mark of a Thai cuisine master goes beyond knowing which ingredients to use. Herbs and spices like lemongrass, ginger, chilies and lime leaves – also known as kaffir – need to be handled and selected so they deliver the most flavor.

“Make sure the lime leaves are mature,” said Chanarong ‘Jack’ Pongnoo, owner and chef at Red Bank’s Muang Thai restaurant. “The older leaves have much more flavor.”

Expertise like that is not gotten from books or watching cooking shows, but from long years learning and mastering techniques. Like so many other master chefs, Pongnoo attended the traditional school: his mother’s stove.

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RUMSON-FAIR HAVEN BANK TO BE ACQUIRED

The bank’s five branches, including the one on Broad Street in Shrewsbury, above, will be rebranded as 1st Constitution. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Little more than a year after an internal power struggle, five-branch banking indie Rumson-Fair Haven Bank & Trust has agreed to be acquired by a Middlesex County lender, the two companies announced Friday.

The buyer is 1st Constitution Bancorp, a Nasdaq-traded entity that will pay RFHBT shareholders $7.50 per share, or 0.7772 of a share of 1st Constitution common stock, in a deal valued at $24.3 million, the two company’s said in a press release.

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FAIR HAVEN: GRANNY-GEARING, DUTCH STYLE

Jeanne-Marie Van Hemmen of Fair Haven rides home  from her law office on Bodman Place in Red Bank Thursday. She rides a Dutch bike called an ‘omafiets‘, which she said translates to ‘grandma bike.’

“Commuting in Red Bank is excellent because it’s not hilly,” she says. “It’s totally doable. More people should do it.” (Photos by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

SEA BRIGHT: BREAKFAST AND LUNCH, TO GO

Former Sea Bright restaurateur Joanne Garelli leads a food truck in a cross-country reality TV race that plays out this season on the Food Network, starting Sunday.  (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Wednesday’s Star-Ledger has a feature story about Joanne Garelli, the former co-owner of a Sea Bright luncheonette who’s turned the misfortune of Hurricane Sandy into opportunity.

Having lost Steve’s Breakfast & Lunch to the October 29, 2012 storm, Garelli recently headed up a three-person food truck that made its way across the United States as part of “The Great Food Truck Race,” a reality television series that starts its third season on the Food Network this Sunday night.

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RED BANK: OLD-TIMERS RETURN FOR PARTY

The third annual Red Bank Community Block Party attracted over 500 present and former  residents to Drs. James Parker Boulevard  Saturday. Music, handicrafts, food, children’s rides and information booths greeted the all-ages crowd.

“I think we were actually closer to a thousand,” said party committee president Eddie Russell. Attendees came from Virginia, the Carolinas, Maryland and as far away as California, as well as nearby towns. (Photos by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

SENATE PRIMARY A YAWNER ON THE GREEN

Marjorie and Howard Fox after voting in Little Silver, above. Barbara Crowton, below, voted at the United Methodist Church in Red Bank. (Photo by Sarah Klepner. Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

As Newark Mayor Cory Booker coasted to victory in Tuesday’s special primary voting for the open United States Senate seat from New Jersey, widespread electoral lethargy surrounding the occasion was also evident on the Green Tuesday.

A visit to four polling sites – three in Red Bank and one in Little Silver – over the course of two hours after the heavy rain stopped found fewer than 10 voters in all. Most were glad to share thoughts about Governor Chris Christie’s decision to hold an October election to replace late Senator Frank Lautenberg apart from the November general election, at a cost of $24 million.

Several, all from the 40 and under set, said they were unaware that Tuesday’s primary was specially scheduled.

At the Woman’s Club of Little Silver, Howard Fox and his daughter Marjorie Fox both had strong objections to the special election.

“It was gratuitous to do it this way, ” said Howard.

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MIDDLETOWN: CONTEMPTIBLY LONG BLOTTER

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

call-in-the-authorities James Koenig, age 56, from Brainard Avenue in Port Monmouth, NJ, arrested on July 28, 2013 by Patrolman Stephen Greenwood on a Non-Support warrant issued by the Monmouth County Superior Court. He was held on $13,603.00 bail.

Phil Craddock, age 21, from West Sylvania Avenue in Neptune, NJ, arrested on July 28, 2013 by Patrolman Anthony Dellatacoma on a Contempt of Court warrant issued by the Middletown Municipal Court. He was released after posting $1,500.00 bail.

Evan Rosencranz, age 19, from David Drive in Old Bridge, NJ, arrested on July 27, 2013 by Patrolman Donald Coates for Possession of under 50 Grams of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. He was released pending a court date.

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FAIR HAVEN: SMOKE ‘EM IF YOU GOT ‘EM

Smoking would be banned in parks and other green spaces. (Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

Between granting an exception to the tree preservation ordinance and a discussion about putting a sign in front of borough hall, Fair Haven’s borough council continued to debate the merits of a smoking ban in borough parks Monday night.

As currently drafted, a proposed ordinance would prohibit smoking on all non-impervious surfaces in borough green spaces such as Fair Haven Fields and Natural Area. Smoking would be allowed on adjacent hard surfaces, such as parking lots and sidewalks.

In a friendly but pointed back-and-forth, dividing lines that had emerged during earlier talks remained.

“I think it’s a severe overstepping,” said councilman Rowland Wilhelm. “Is it even constitutional?”

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LITTLE SILVER: BASEMENT FIRE INJURES ONE


The fire, at a vacant building formerly used by a landscaping company, broke out in the basement, officials said. (Click to enlarge)

A volunteer Little Silver firefighter suffered a minor injury while combating a smoky basement fire on Conover Place Monday afternoon, the Asbury Park Press reports.

The unidentified firefighter, one of more than 50 from four towns who responded to the 4:30 p.m. alarm, was treated on the scene for a leg injury, Fire Chief Andrew Smith told the Press.

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RED BANK: MARKET, HOMES EYED AT FIVE-WAY

Developer Ray Rapcavage envisions a greengrocer flanked by condos and townhomes at Red Bank’s five corners. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

One of Red Bank’s long-forsaken properties may be in for a major overhaul.

Owner and developer Ray Rapcavage plans to convert nearly a whole block at the five corners confluence of Harding Road and Branch and Hudson avenues into a three-building complex anchored by an old-fashioned fruit and vegetable market and 20 residences.

If approved and built, the project would transform the acre-sized site of four existing homes and a former gasoline station into a vibrant, eastward expansion of the downtown business district, said Rapcavage, who gave redbankgreen a sneak peek at his plans Monday.

“When you come into that intersection, you’re going to see a lot of green,” he said of produce displays he has plans along a the Harding Road facade of the market.

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ARTIEPALOOZA ROCKS THE RIVER

Partygoers gathered on dozens of vessels to remember a friend at Saturday’s floating bash on the Navesink dubbed ‘Artiepalooza.’ (Photos by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge)

By NICK MALFITANO

One could hear the unmistakable sound up and down the Navesink River Saturday afternoon; American rock n’ roll. Sun peeked through the clouds as dozens of partygoers gathered in Blossom Cove on the river’s Middletown side to enjoy food, drink and live music at a floating party.

It could only be Artiepalooza.

The boat bash served as both a fundraiser – for David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation, an organization that provides financial assistance to those affected by cancer – and a tribute to the memory of 51-year-old Arthur “Artie” Natsis of Middletown. The event, known as “Baaaquapalooza” during its first two incarnations last summer, was renamed in Natsis’ honor after he died from cancer in April.

“Everyone’s having a great time,” said Natsis’ widow, Feli Donato-Natsis, whose first name is pronounced ‘Filly.’ “I counted about 35 boats here. Some knew about the party, and others came from word of mouth. All our friends rented the only two pontoon boats in the area to be here.”

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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 August 1 to August 8, 2013. This information is unedited.

Criminal Mischief occurring between 8-2-13 and 8-3-13 at Broad St. Victim reported that unknown person(s) deployed graffiti on doorway of business. Ptl. John Camarca.

Criminal Mischief two incident occurring between 8-2-13 and 8-3-13 at two locations on West Front St. businesses. Unknown person(s) deployed graffiti on to the buildings. Ptl. John Camarca

Criminal Mischief occurring between 8-5-13 and 8-6-13 at Chapin Ave. Victim reported that unknown person(s) slashed two tires on parked vehicle. Ptl. Pubylski.

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SEA BRIGHT: FOCUS ON STALLED BUSINESSES

A volunteer group wants to help owners of vacant stores spruce up their properties.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

A group of Sea Bright residents is asking the borough to reach out to businesses that have stalled in the post-Sandy recovery process.

With a campaign for sand replenishment, a fundraiser to replace lost beach equipment, an open-house on recovery construction and more efforts already under its belt, Seabrighters Embracing Action – a community group that formed in February to help the town and each other recover from Hurricane Sandy – is now turning its attention to matters of appearance.

“We’re asking the town to enforce the codes when it comes to businesses that aren’t cleaning up,” SEA founder Heather Bedenko said Tuesday night after the bimonthly borough council meeting. Closed businesses “are like black eyes on the town. We have businesses opening up between two half-demolished places,” she said.

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WEEKEND: WORMS, TRUCKS ‘N SMASHED FRUIT

The orchestra seats have been covered in plastic at the Count Basie for tonight’s appearance by fruit-smashing comedian Gallagher. Still: pity the housekeeping crew. Troubador Pat Guadagno, below, is at Jamian’s Saturday. (Click to enlarge)

Friday, August 8:

SHREWSBURY: Take a ride over to the Monmouth County Eastern Branch Library as big rigs from Shrewsbury Public Works line up for touch-a-truck. Big Truck Day is both kid and adult friendly, and begins at 11 a.m. 1001 Route 35 North.

SHREWSBURY: The Master Gardeners of Monmouth County demonstrate vermicompost, using worms to make nutrient-rich soil at the Monmouth County Library Eastern Branch. The compost demonstration begins at 11 a.m. 1001 Route 35 North.

MIDDLETOWN: The Manga Club gets a special visit from voice actress Michele Knotz – voice of May in Pokémon as well as video games, audio books and more – at the Middletown Main Library. J*Con: A Manga Club Special Event, features food, games, anime, manga, prizes, cosplay, as well as a Q&A with the manga star. Register in advance online, the event begins at 12:30 p.m. 55 New Monmouth Road.

RED BANK: Dig Into Reading at the craft party hosted at Red Bank Public Library, where kids can create rock paintings and animal fossils. The party lasts from 3 to 4 p.m. 84 West Front Street.

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