Search Results for: john grandits

RED BANK: A NEIGHBOR’S 9/11 STORY

John Grandits’ account of his neighbor’s escape from the World Trade Center is for sale at River Road Books for $1, with proceeds going to volunteer fire and first aid. Below, Drew Irving. (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Red Bank resident and children’s author John Grandits could see his neighbor Louise Irving in an agitated state on her back porch, her sister’s arms wrapped around her.

Then he learned what was happening in New York City, and immediately remembered: Louise’s husband, Drew, worked at the World Trade Center.

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RED BANK: LIBRARY AVERTS PREDICTED CRISIS

rbpl 1 102113Dire forecasts made by library board members who resigned a year ago have not panned out, officials say. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[Article updated with post-publication comment below]

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Nearly one year after a mass resignation by trusteees over budget issues that they said imperiled its future, the Red Bank Public Library hasn’t collapsed into the river it overlooks.

Nor has it been swamped by red ink. In fact, the institution is doing quite well, says its new director, Elizabeth McDermott, who recently accepted the job on a permanent basis – after first rejecting it – largely because of the turnaround she helped guide.

“The building didn’t fall down,” McDermott told redbankgreen earlier this month, following a meeting at which the board approved a new $1 million budget. “In fact, we’re growing.”

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RED BANK: NEW TRUSTEES GET THEIR FEET WET

rbpl trustees 050114 Mayor Pasquale Menna, right, swears in new library board members in the Eisner Room. Sara Hansen, center below, with Elizabeth McDermott and Steve Hecht, was chosen board president. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

sara hansen 050114Members of the Red Bank Public Library’s newly reconstituted board of trustees board got a real-life introduction to the challenges they’ll face Wednesday night.

On a tour of the library during a downpour one day before they were  sworn into their posts, trustees witnessed rainwater coming through the ceiling and flooding the basement.

“I wanted board members to see the building,” acting library director Elizabeth McDermott told redbankgreen. What they saw was the hasty deployment of trash cans to catch water dripping from above and “a couple of inches” of water inundating the basement of the former Eisner mansion portion of the srtucture, thanks to faulty drainage from an exterior stairwell.

“It was up to here” in the stairwell, said new trustee Beth Hanratty, indicating a point just below her knee.

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RED BANK: NEW LIBRARY TRUSTEES NAMED

rbpl 1 032714Beth Hanratty, below, was named chairperson of the reconstituted board. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[Correction: Mayor Menna tells redbankgreen that while Beth Hanratty was appointed to fill the unexpired term of board President John Grandits, she was not appointed board president, as reported below. The newly constituted board is expected to elect new officers at its May 1 meeting. redbankgreen regrets the error.]

By JOHN T. WARD

beth hanratty 040714How’s this for a job offer? The work is unpaid. It requires running an institution that at the moment has just lost its director, faces a purported-though-disputed funding shortfall and has possibly too many full-time employees – including two whose jobs recently became a political hot potato.

Oh, and most of the people who last held the position submitted a joint “take-this-job-and-shove-it” resignation letter just last Saturday.

But just four days after that mass exodus by members of the Red Bank Public Library Board of Trustees, Mayor Pasquale Menna appointed four replacements to the board Wednesday evening. Read More »

RED BANK: LIBRARY TRUSTEES QUIT EN MASSE

rbpl trustees 3 032714 Of the six board members seen in this photo from a March 27 trustees meeting, only April Klimley, in red at left, remains on the board. Two others who also resigned are not shown. Below, the sign outside the library welcomed back two employees whose rehirings prompted the resignations. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rbpl 041314Overridden last week by the borough council over a controversial budget, six of the eight members of the Red Bank Public Library board of trustees resigned in protest Saturday.

Angered over what they said were factual misrepresentations and position reversals by the Menna Administration that undid a year of “difficult” financial planning, the trustees said in a letter that it “has become apparent that we cannot operate as an effective and independent board as stipulated by the NJ State Library statutes.”

The mass exodus, coupled with the planned departure of library Director Virginia Papandrea later this month and another trustee’s resignation last Thursday, raises questions about short-term leadership at the 76-year-old institution. Moreover, departing board members said the library continues to face a fiscal crisis, contrary to administration claims.

“The numbers still don’t add up,” said trustees President John Grandits. “I don’t see how you’re going to be open in November or December. I don’t get it.”

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RED BANK: TRUSTEES PAN BOROUGH BUDGET

barbara withers 032714Barbara Withers, a resident of the Atrium at Navesink senior complex, implores the board to preserve a book-delivery service for its residents. Below, board president John Grandits, left, with Mayor Pasquale Menna outside the library meeting room. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

grandits menna 032714A plan by the Menna administration to rewrite the proposed Red Bank Public Library budget and undo the recent layoff of half its staff got a cold reception from the library trustees Thursday night.

One or two of the suggested changes, such as leaving the soon-to-be-vacated job of the library director unfunded, appear to be “illegal,” trustee Brigid McCarthy told a packed meeting of library supporters.

Still, Mayor Pasquale Menna, displaying obvious frustration with what he called “drama” surrounding the borough’s recommendations, said the standoff can and will be quickly resolved, even if he has to take unilateral action.

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RED BANK: LIBRARY LAYOFFS MAY BE REVERSED

rbpl sale 2 020213The fate of jobs for three full-time librarians is still up in the air. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Red Bank officials said they are working toward a budget fix that might undo the layoff of half the staff at the borough library two weeks ago.

At Wednesday night’s borough council meeting, administrator Stanley Sickels said he and borough CFO Eugenia Poulos had developed an alternative to the library’s budget that might “maintain the full-time staff.”

Now, attention turns to the eight-member library board of trustees, which gathers Thursday night in what may be its best-attended meeting in history.

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RED BANK: LIBRARY PUTS STAFF ON NOTICE

rbpl board 022714 2A meeting of the Red Bank library board in the former living room of the Eisner family last month. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rbpl 2 102113The Red Bank Public Library has put its entire staff on notice of possible layoffs in the face of a looming budget shortfall.

Library director Virginia Papandrea confirmed to redbankgreen Tuesday morning that all 10 staffers, including three part-timers, were advised by letter dated Friday that they could be laid off unless the facility can fill an operating budget shortfall estimated at $131,000.

The move comes as the library faces a whopping payout of more than $70,000 in unused sick time to a retiring employee and a drop in the sum that the borough is obligated under state statute to pay into the facility from property tax collections.

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RED BANK: LIBRARY LAUNCHES FUND DRIVE

grandits primavera 111213audrey oldoerp 111213 3Dozens of supporters of the Red Bank Public Library – including children’s authors John Grandits and Elise Primavera, above turned out Tuesday night for a wine-and-cheeser to launch the Foundation for the Red Bank Public Library, an initiative to secure big-dollar support for the facility, which was once the home of uniform manufacturer Sigmund Eisner.

“The Eisners must have entertained a lot here,” said library board member Audrey Oldoerp, at right, “because this place was made for partying.” (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: LIVING SHORELINE WINS REPRIEVE

The crumbling library bulkhead, above right, abuts that of the Corinthian Cove condos, at left. Below, resident Tom Labetti of Elm Place makes a point during the public hearing. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

The tide turned abruptly on the Red Bank Eisner Memorial Library bulkhead issue Wednesday.

A $600,000 bond ordinance to pay for a new bulkhead at the site, and one at another Navesink River property, was tabled at the eleventh hour, after having appeared headed to certain approval.

The tabling followed defections by two councilmembers, Kathy Horgan and Ed Zipprich, who said they would side with environmentalists and residents who called for a “living,” or structure-free, shoreline.

“I think we need to explore the issue more,” Horgan said. “During the superstorm, any living shoreline had very little damage and self-repaired itself very quickly.” She also noted that  the Stevens Institute of Technology and the American Littoral Society had previously offered to create the natural shoreline, at no cost to the borough.

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RED BANK AUTHOR DEBUTS NEW RULEBOOK

j-granditsJohn Grandits and his new children’s book, which hits shelves next month. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

John Grandits, the accomplished children’s author and member of the Red Bank library board, is in an especially cheery mood these days.

That’s saying a lot for the ruddy and avuncular 61-year-old, who’s often fueled up on equal amounts of No Joe’s coffee and zest for speaking with schoolkids all over the country.

Earning a star in the Kirkus Book Review and an order for a second edition of your book, which hasn’t even hit bookstore shelves yet, can do that.

“I’m bullish on John Grandits this week,” he said.

After 10 years working on his second children’s book (he’s also published two children’s poetry books), Grandits is ready to hit the self-promotion circuit in advance of the July 4 release of Ten Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break If You Want To Survive The School Bus.

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FRESH FACE AT LIBRARY: CHILDREN’S AUTHOR

john-grandits1Children’s author and poet John Grandits, shown here with a couple of his books, is the newest member on the Red Bank Library Board. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Not long ago, John Grandits was talking to a friend about serving on one of Red Bank’s many boards or commissions. One of the possibilities was the planning board, though Grandits doesn’t have your typical background for the job.

Nor does he have the energy, he realized.

“It would bore me to death,” he told redbankgreen.

Then an opportunity that fit his skill set presented itself at the end of the year when the library board announced an opening. Grandits, a cheery author with a strong resemblance to Santa Claus, minus the paunch, grabbed at the chance to fulfill a longtime goal of his.

“I always thought for years and years and years if I had the time I’d like to be on the library board,” said Grandits, who is 60 years old. “Now I have the time.”

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RED BANK: BOARD DEFENDS LIBRARY LAYOFFS

rbpl board 022714 1The library board of the trustees at a meeting in February. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Responding to “misinformation” and “half-truths… stretched beyond their limits” surrounding layoffs of half the staff at the Red Bank Public Library last week, the library’s board of trustees is pushing back.

In a question-and-answer document prepared by six of eight board members and obtained by redbankgreen, the trustees say that personnel costs accounted for 95 percent of the library budget before the layoffs, which affected six of the 11 staff members.

The layoffs were part of a library “reorganization” that “eliminates our deficit, allows us to right-size the Library for the budget, and sustains the Library for the future,” the trustees say in the Q&A. “The solution implemented [at a board meeting following the layoffs] on March 13 was just one step in a much larger process that began in 2013 when it became clear that even with stringent cuts in expenditures last year, the Library was living beyond its means.”

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