43° Overcast

RED BANK: HEAPS OF AUTHENTICITY

060414 trattoria3The Mediterranean Platter, a dependable classic on the Front Street Trattoria menu. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

042115 trattorianWhat key elements are crucial to keeping a restaurant current for 30 years? If we’re referring to the Front Street Trattoria in Red Bank, it would have to be the consistently prepared fresh ingredients.

With an exposed brick wall on one side and floor-to-ceiling windows framing an ever moving backdrop of foot-traffic outside, the often busy main dining room is unpretentious and cozy. An open kitchen area lines another wall, giving the diner plenty to peer at.  Alternatively, there is another more private dining room and a wide open back patio for seating. But the decor isn’t why this restaurant is packed with regulars on any given evening: it’s the food.

Read More »

RED BANK: ‘BLUES’ ONE MORE TIME, AT TRTC

BLUES_Press_4Charles Weldon (left) counsels Brandon J. Dirden in YOUR BLUES AIN’T SWEET LIKE MINE, entering the final weekend of its world premiere run at Two River Theater. (Photos by Michal Daniel)

By TOM CHESEK

“I’m through with the interracial dating thing,” says the black homeless advocate Zeke (Brandon J. Dirden) to the white well-to-do writer Judith (Merritt Janson), in Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine. “OJ stupid-ass messed it up for the rest of us.”

Confrontational by nature (but not so consumed with anger that he can’t win an audience over with some pithy observations and well-placed laugh lines); at odds with American social attitudes (but not so beaten down by the system that he can’t sport a peacock-proud wardrobe), Zeke is an intriguingly inscrutable original — a fact not lost on Judith, whose interest in the educated former professional extends beyond a simple donation of clothing to the local shelter.

Their uneasy transaction sounds the keynote for Blues, the play written and directed by Tony-winning actor Ruben Santiago-Hudson that wraps up its world premiere run this week at Red Bank’s Two River Theater.

Read More »

RED BANK: LUNCH BREAK ROCKS FOODSTOCK

Press release from Lunch Break Inc.

foodstock_flyer_2015On Saturday, May 16, the Red Bank-based nonprofit Lunch Break will hold the 2015 edition of Foodstock, a community food drive. The event will take place at Red Bank Middle School (101 Harding Road) from 10:30 am until 3:00 pm. The collection goal for this year is 100,000 pounds.

The 2015 Foodstock will include refreshments, live entertainment and children’s activities, with all members of the community encouraged to bring your family and friends, enjoy good music and good food, and be a part of a good cause — an organization that acts as the first line of defense for thousands of vulnerable residents of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, and serves more and more people each year.

Read More »

RED BANK: COPS PUSH PEDESTRIAN SAFETY

rbpd 042915 3rb pedestrian 042915 2Red Bank police were out on Broad Street Wednesday afternoon for a brief pedestrian safety enforcement push. The effort resulted in five summonses issued to motorists and 13 warnings, some to drivers and some to pedestrians, said Chief Darren McConnell.

But the enforcement might easily have gone on for hours, judging by activity seen by redbankgreen. See below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Read More »

RFH GIRLS CRUISE PAST RBC, 14-2

Jillian Swikart scored five goals to pace the Rumson-Fair Haven Lady Bulldogs to a dominating effort at home over Red Bank Catholic in lacrosse Wednesday.  Brittany Bruno added three goals as RFH raced out to a 6-0 halftime lead and improved to 12-1 on the season. Video highlights courtesy of Shore Sports Zone.

SHREWSBURY: CYMCA PRESIDENT HONORED

rhonda andewrsonPress release from The Community YMCA

Rhonda Anderson, President and CEO of The Community YMCA, has been honored with the Professional Achievement Award by the Central Jersey Club of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc.

The award was presented on April 25, during the club’s 51st Annual Founders’ Day Luncheon at the Sheraton in Eatontown.

Read More »

NAVESINK: PLAYERS WRAP UP A ‘PRESENT’

MonPlayersEric McDonough (center) and his fellow Monmouth Players serve up Noel Coward’s PRESENT LAUGHTER at the Navesink Arts Center.

Way back in 1953, a fledgling theatrical troupe by the name of Monmouth Players chose as its first fully staged production Blithe Spirit, a comedy from the quill of actor-director-producer-playwright-songwriter Noel Coward. Here at the close of its frankly astonishing 62nd consecutive season of entertainments — a track record unequalled by any other community stage company in the area — the Middletown-based Players have revisited the work of that master multitasker with a production of Coward’s Present Laughter that wraps up the 2014-2015 season in an elegant (and mischievously ticking) package.

Read More »

OCEANIC BRIDGE: FULL CLOSURE FOR REPAIRS

oceanic bridge 060614 The 75-year-old span will be closed to all but marine traffic for three weeks starting May 26. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

just_in1Previously unseen deterioration on the Oceanic Bridge between Rumson and Middletown will require a full shutdown of the span for three weeks following Memorial Day, Monmouth County reported Wednesday.

Read More »

RED BANK: AFTER 26 YEARS, BARR ZONES OUT

donna smith barr 042815 2Zoning officer Donna Smith Barr leaves the job this week after 26 years. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

people-in-the-newsThe cliches compete: it’s tempting to say Donna Smith Barr has had a front-row seat on Red Bank’s two-decade-long bounceback from “Dead Bank” to today’s bustling burg. But it’s probably more accurate to say she’s been the gatekeeper.

Whether you wanted to put a deck on your house or turn a downtown store into a restaurant, Barr’s office has been the first stop at borough hall. And if she spoke or wrote the word “variance” in response, it probably wasn’t your last, as it would mean the time and expense of making one’s case before the zoning or planning board.

“I’m glad I don’t have to tell people they need variances anymore,” Barr told redbankgreen Tuesday. A single instance is one thing, “but when you do it for 26 years, that’s enough.”

Read More »

RED BANK: SCHOOL TAX UP NEARLY 7 PERCENT

suzanne viscomi 042815Suzanne Viscomi, of the board’s finance committee, speaking at Tuesday night’s meeting. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The typical Red Bank homeowner will pay $100 more this year to support the borough school district, following the board of education’s adoption of the 2015-’16 budget Tuesday night.

The $24.85-million spending plan, which one board member opposed, calls for a 6.95-percent local tax increase.

Read More »

RBR SENIOR SHARES PRINCETON AWARD

Copyright 2015 Natasha Esguerra Photography | www.natashaesguerra.comRed Bank Regional senior Morgan Brunson (holding certificate) was among the New Jersey high school students honored by Princeton University, at the 2015 Princeton Prize in Race Relations ceremony on April 15. (Photo by Natasha Esguerra)

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

Each year, Princeton University recognizes New Jersey high school students whose efforts have had a significant, positive effect on race relations in their schools or communities — and at the 2015 Princeton Prize In Race Relations Ceremony and Reception, a Red Bank Regional High School senior was among the Central/Southern NJ Region students so honored.

At the April 15 ceremony on the porch of Princeton’s John Maclean House, Red Bank resident Morgan Brunson earned a certificate of achievement for organizing, hosting and performing in a black history month dance assembly. In addition to her commendation, Morgan was also asked to attend the national Princeton Prize Symposium in Race Relations, held at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Sociology on April 25th.

Read More »

LINCROFT: BCC TO HONOR PROWN

david prown 042615Red Bank’s David Prown will receive an honorary degree from Brookdale Community College for his contributions to the local community during BCC’s commencement ceremony. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Based on a press release from Brookdale Community College.

Two Monmouth County activists, two distinguished alumni and more than 2,000 local students will be honored during the 45th annual commencement ceremony at Brookdale Community College, scheduled for May 10 15 on the Lincroft campus.

Commencement speakers David Prown and David Goldman will receive honorary degrees from the college for their contributions to the Monmouth County community.

Read More »

RUMSON: BLITHEWALD GARDEN IN PHOTOS

rumson blithewald 1 rumson blithewald 3The April 20 fire at the Rumson mansion known as Blithewald, which was undergoing extensive redecoration for use as a designer showcase in the monthlong VNA Stately Homes by the Sea fundraiser, occurred the same morning that landscapers had put the finishing touches on a yard design called the Secret Garden.

Red Bank-based Siciliano Landscape, which oversaw the project with a landscaper from Marlboro, has posted a gallery of before-and-after photos of the garden, along with a link for those wishing to donate to the VNA. The now-canceled home tour was to be the nonprofit organization’s largest fundraising event of the year. (Photos courtesy of Siciliano Landscape. Click to enlarge)

RFH ACHIEVERS HONORED BY BOARD OF ED

rfhRumson-Fair Haven junior Hannah Stamer (center) was among the RFH students recognized for academic and athletic achievements at an April 14 meeting of the RFH Board of Education.

Press release from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School

At a scheduled meeting on April 14, several individual students and athletic teams from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School were recognized by the Board of Education for academic and athletic achievements.

“It is becoming increasingly commonplace for us to begin our meetings here in the auditorium to accommodate all of the students who are accomplishing amazing things,” RFH Superintendent Peter Righi told the assembled students, parents, coaches, and club advisors. “The certificates awarded tonight are not just another piece of paper – they have a much deeper meaning as the ‘end game’ result of a lot of hard work.”

Read More »

RUMSON: KRF HITS $1 MILLION MILESTONE

KRFEventCommitteeDSC_3675Press release from Salt Creek Grille Rumson; photo by Amy Pinard

The recent Wine and Martini Tasting fundraiser at Rumson’s Salt Creek Grille raised nearly $115,000 for pediatric brain cancer research, on behalf of this year’s designated beneficiary, The Kortney Rose Foundation (KRF). Generous support at the sold-out event helped the Oceanport-based foundation hit the million-dollar mark in cumulative donations to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

To date, over $845,000 has been raised by Salt Creek Grille’s Wine and Martini Tastings, an annual event for which a different locally based charity is specified each year. One hundred percent of the proceeds have gone directly to the organizations, thanks to donations of goods and services made by Salt Creek Grille and its purveyors (including Sickles Market, Lusty Lobster and The Bobby Boyd Trio).

Read More »

RED BANK: JIRKS AND SERAPHS UNITE

kirkJirks bandleader Brian Kirk plays springtime Santa with a benefit concert for Middletown’s Mater Dei Prep high school, Thursday night at the Count Basie.

STSemailIn an interview that appeared previously here on redbankgreen, businessman and bandleader Brian Kirk discussed what it takes to put on a big benefit concert — musing to the effect that “maybe I get whatever organizational skills I have from my mother, who used to work as a volunteer at St. Mary’s Thrift Shop in New Monmouth — they ran a tight ship over there!”

A party-starting pro with an ear for a crowdpleasing tune and an eye for a serious cause, the man who produces the annual “Santa for…” shows at the Count Basie Theatre (and who brought us years of Dunesday beach-concert benefits in Sea Bright) returns to the Red Bank stage on Thursday — this time rallying to the aid of Mater Dei Prep, the Middletown-based Catholic high school (and companion institution to both his elementary-school alma mater and that legendary thrift shop).

Read More »

MIDDLETOWN: RESCUING THE ‘LOST DOGS’

Spirit of the SatoProject Animal Worldwide partners with Middletown Township Library for a free Wednesday evening screening of the documentary SPIRIT OF THE SATO: The Journey of Puerto Rico’s Lost Dogs. 

From the city streets of San Juan to the most remote beaches, they’re among the most “invisible” of the homeless population. An estimated quarter of a million Sato (local slang for mixed-breed or “mutt”) dogs roam Puerto Rico, often abandoned by their owners and left to fend for themselves in a US territory where spaying and neutering animals is not common practice.

With the 2013 documentary Spirit Of The Sato, filmmaker Ellen La Torre took a quantum leap toward raising awareness of the plight of the Satos — drawing the participation of experts that include original “dog whisperer” Cesar Millan, and focusing on the efforts of Project Animal Worldwide, the Eatontown-based nonprofit organization presided over by La Torre. Partnering with dog-friendly Shore area businesses like Asbury Park’s Wonder Bar and entities like the Monmouth County SPCA, the people from PAW have run “Sato Reunion” missions to Puerto Rico; matching dogs with adopting homes throughout New Jersey and the region — and on Wednesday, April 29, the feature subtitled The Journey of Puerto Rico’s Lost Dogs receives a free screening at Middletown Township Public Library.

Read More »

RED BANK: TWO SAVED AFTER BOAT FLIPS

rb h20 rescue 042715 1The sailboat, seen above, righted itself after its two occupants were rescued, a witness said. Below, one of the two people rescued gets some medical attention. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb h20 rescue 042715 2Two boaters were pulled from the chilly Navesink River when their sailboat capsized in brisk winds off Red Bank Monday morning.

The pair were pulled to safety by kayakers, police said.

Read More »

RED BANK: JAYWALKING PEDESTRIAN STRUCK

AUTHORITIES_RB3A Florida man was struck by a vehicle when he stepped out into traffic from between two parked cars in downtown Red Bank Saturday, police Chief Darren McConnell tells redbankgreen.

Benjamin Slepian, 41, of Royal Palm Beach, cracked the windshield of a vehicle driven by Georgeanne Mallett, 67, of Saint Simon’s Island, George, at about noon, McConnell said.

Read More »

SEA BRIGHT: AIRING OUT KITES ON THE BEACH

kite-72934kite-72877Crisp blue skies, ocean breezes and beach sand made an ideal setting for the Sea Bright Festival on Saturday. The event, the first of its kind, was one of several aimed at demonstrating that the borough is “more than just a summer destination,” in the words of the organizing Sustainable Sea Bright Committee.

Check out all of redbankgreen‘s photos, below.  (Photos by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge)

Read More »

SPECIAL HAPPENINGS AT FAIR HAVEN SCHOOLS

LesterAuthor Lester Laminack conducted workshops for young writers, and addressed parents and teachers on the topic of the writing process, during his recent visit to the Fair Haven School District.

Press releases from Fair Haven School District

An appearance by a talented special guest speaker — and some events that featured the talents of Fair Haven students — were among the highlights of the late winter and early spring at Viola L. Sickles and Knollwood Schools in Fair Haven.

On February 26, the  rousing musical No Strings Attached was presented by the 6th, 7th and 8th grade Performing Arts Troupe at Knollwood School. Inspired by the familiar tale of Pinocchio, the show tells the story of Carl, a young boy seeking to dodge all responsibility. He makes a deal to trade work for fun — and unwittingly ends up transforming into a puppet member of the Magical Mystery Marionettes. Carl learns that “no strings attached” is not all he had hoped for — but with the help of his loyal friends, he recovers his human powers in time to help save his beloved father from the mouth of a whale.

Directed by Social Studies teacher Alison Dooley and Literacy teacher Gabrielle Illiano, the production featured Lisa Sandoli as Carl/Pinocchio, and Jacob Gerbman as Gepetto. The 25-member cast also included Lucas Tucker as Cricket, Grace Gallagher as Blues Fairy, Isabella Mitterando as Professor, Giovanna Darcy as Madame Azure, Anna Phillips as Marionette/Dipstick, Nora Doonan as Marionette/Fox, Fiona Lenahan as Cat, Mikey Bogardus as the Driver, Lauryn Jones as Tina Tuna/Peg, and Blodwen Bindas as Mary Annette.

Read More »

RED BANK: MCC ANNOUNCES SCHOLARSHIPS

For more than 50 years, the Red Bank-based Monmouth Civic Chorus has brought a selection of the world’s finest choral music classics to area audiences, at venues that include the Count Basie Theatre and Tower Hill Church. Recently the Red Bank-based arts organization announced the awarding of a total of $,3000 to the winners of its 2015 scholarships for vocally talented New Jersey high school seniors.

First Place went to Nicole Toms, Point Pleasant Borough, who was awarded $2,000. Second Place was shared by Mary Roberts of Milford and Selena Siri of Parlin, who were each awarded $500. This year’s scholarship judges were Monmouth Civic Chorus Artistic Director Dr. Ryan Brandau; Director Emeritus William R. Shoppell, Jr.; Marina Alexander, Musical Director of the Arcadian Chorale; and Reid Masters, Artistic Director of the New Jersey Chamber Singers. The accompanists were Neil F. Brown, Director of Music Ministries, First Presbyterian Church at Red Bank; and Allan Robinson, Organist and Choirmaster at Trinity Episcopal Church, Red Bank.

Since 1970, the Monmouth Civic Chorus has awarded more than $55,000 in scholarships to New Jersey high school seniors of outstanding vocal promise. To learn more or to donate to the scholarship fund, visit the MCC website — and read on for news about this year’s upcoming fundraiser gala event for the annual scholarships.

Read More »

RED BANK: SOAKING IN THE FLAVOUR

rbiff 042515 20042615 rbflavourfest11Thousands of strolling-and-eating springtime revelers flooded the White Street parking lot for the annual Red Bank International Flavour Festival on a cool, partly sunny afternoon Sunday.

As usual, redbankgreen was there to capture dozens of sweet and savory moments. Are you in one of our photos? Check out the full array below.  (Photos by Susan Ericson, Trish Russoniello and John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Read More »

LINCROFT: A SUPERSIZED SCIENCE MONDAY

Kenneth_Lacovara_at_dig_site_of_DreadnoughtusFamed paleontologist Dr. Kenneth Lacovara — pictured with the bones of Dreadnoughtus schrani, the titanic dinosaur he discovered in Argentina in 2005 — comes to Brookdale Community  College for a Science Mondays presentation on Dinosaurs in NJ…Still.

They called it Dreadnoughtus schrani — the most massive creature ever known to walk the earth; a titanosaur of the Upper Cretaceous period whose fossilized bones were discovered and excavated between 2005 and 2009 (and made public to great acclaim in 2014) by a team under the direction of Drexel University professor Kenneth Lacovara.

While the big-dig discovery in Argentina (and the subsequent determination that this huge specimen had not even reached its full-grown size) made Dr. Lacovara and his colleagues legitimate science superstars, the Jersey-native paleontologist and geologist is quick to point out that there are many more discoveries to be made; much to be learned — and, when he visits the Lincroft campus of Brookdale Community College this Monday evening, April 27, he’ll be making the point that there are Dinosaurs in NJ…Still.

Read More »

‘BRAND NEW KEY’ SINGER GETS RBR HALL PASS

042415 RBR Melanie5042415 RBR Melanie2Melanie Safka Shekeryk, better known to radio listeners of a certain age as the Woodstock-era singer ‘Melanie,’ visited Red Bank Regional for induction into the school’s Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame Friday morning. Melanie – seen at center in the photo above and at right with school newspaper staffers Cecilia Gunderson and Amy Cavallo – graduated from the pre-RBR Red Bank High School in 1964.

A self-proclaimed square-peg teenager who has previously described her time at RBHS as “miserable,” the singer found herself surrounded by fan-dads and other admirers as she ate a breakfast prepared by RBR’s culinary arts students. “It’s wonderful what schools have now for kids,” she said.   (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)