By JOHN T. WARD
It was a night for farewells and greetings at a packed Red Bank council meeting Wednesday night.
Elected officials and residents bid goodbye to a longtime councilman and a retired couple who put in many years of preservation and beautification work.
And they welcomed a new member of the police department while cheering on on a seven-year veteran of the force on her promotion to sergeant.
• Council President Art Murphy, who resigned effective immediately last week and was not present at the meeting, was lauded from the dais for his years of service as a member of the zoning board and, for the last dozen years, elected member of the governing body.
Murphy, a lifelong resident, Marine Corps veteran and homebuilder, had served on the council since late 2003, when he was appointed to fill an unexpired term. He was elected to a full term that year. As council president, he chaired meeting of the governing body when the mayor was absent.
Mayor Pasquale Menna, who said he had been “encouraged by residents not to accept” the resignation, praised Murphy’s service as police commissioner and as a friend he could rely on.
Councilman Mike DuPont, Murphy’s running mate in the last three elections – and, until last week, the current one – praised Murphy for his devotion to the Senior Citizens’ Center, the volunteer fire department, the police department and his hometown.
“Every penny he earned here [as a council member] I know for a fact he gave away,” DuPont said.
DuPont and Councilman Ed Zipprich criticized a controversial video, published last week by redbankgreen, that showed Murphy mocking the customers of a pool hall – the 2013 failure of which, its owner claims, Murphy was “instrumental” in.
Though Murphy had planned to resign before the video emerged, “the tactics used to cause or persuade him [to resign when he did] were in less than good faith,” DuPont said. “By doing that which was done, all of Red Bank loses.”
“One of the saddest things about it is that we’re pitting neighbors against neighbors,” said Zipprich. “We need to stop doing that.”
No announcement has yet been made of who the Democrats will nominate to replace Murphy, who was up for re-election in November.
• George and Gladys Bowen, who recently relocated from their longtime Hubbard Park home to Shadow Lake in Middletown, were honored with proclamations for nearly half a century of volunteer service in the borough.
George was the founding member and chairman of the borough’s Historic Preservation Commission and worked to ensure the preservation of several historic structures, including the Century House, whose problematic relocation in May, 2003 – it got stuck overnight at Broad and Monmouth streets while enroute from East Front Street to Oakland Street, where it now serves as the Red Bank Charter School – he recalled with characteristic humor for the audience.
“I remember Stanley Sickels with a chain saw, lopping off a piece of the roof” to create needed clearance, he said.
Bowden spearheaded the creation of the Washington Street Historic District and the restoration of the Red Bank train station, and was an early champion of saving the home of early Civil Rights journalist T. Thomas Fortune‘s Home on Drs. James Parker Boulevard.
Gladys Bowden was cited for her work with Navesink Garden Club, and particularly in instituting its “Random Sightings of Beauty” award, and for her long membership on the borough’s Human Relations Advisory Committee.
If you missed redbankgreen’s 2007 interview with George, check it out here.
• On the greetings side, Patrolwoman Heather Pubylski was promoted to police sergeant. The lifelong Middletown resident and Brookdale Community College grad joined the department as a dispatcher in 2007 and was appointed as an officer the following year. Since then, she’s done stints in the patrol division, the traffic bureau and, most recently, the detective bureau. She’ll now be assigned as a shift commander in the patrol division, said Chief Darren McConnell.
Milton A. Gray IV, a lifelong borough resident and product of its public schools, was sworn as a probationary police officer. He also joined the department in in 2007 as a dispatcher, and has served as a Class 2 Special Officer with the Seaside Heights Police Department for the past two years. The a Ocean County Police Academy grad will begin his field training immediately as a member of the patrol division, McConnell said.