JULIA PRYDE REMEMBERED

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Middletown North graduate Julia Pryde was remembered by people who knew her as a carefree individualist who loved to swim competitively and cultivated a strong interest in ecology and water quality issues, according to a story about her in today’s Asbury Park Press.

Pryde was among the 32 students and faculty members slain by a student gunman Monday morning at Virginia Tech, where she was in a graduate science program.

“She was always having a good time,” said [friend and neighbor Nicole] Malone, 20, now a student at La Salle University in Philadelphia. “She was never really upset about anything; she never had a frown on her face.”

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R-FH’S HOOPS RUN ENDS

The girls basketball team of Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High school came up short last night in its pursuit of a first-ever state championship, falling 48-37 in the semifinal round to Trenton Central.

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The Asbury Park Press has the story.

Rumson (28-5) was by no means overpowered on the boards as Trenton (31-1) held a 40-32 edge, but there were numerous instances when Trenton’s front line of Cintella and Leola Spotwood and Torrie Childs had their way once the shots went up. The three combined for 23 rebounds, 10 coming offensively.

“All those kids are quick and we knew coming in that they were athletic and we had to be able to limit their chances and we didn’t do that enough,” Rumson senior Paige Armstrong said. “We did a good job at times but there were those possessions where we just let down and they were quicker to the ball.”

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R-FH GIRLS EDGE RBC IN STATES

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The Rumson-Fair Haven girls baskeball team advanced to the semifinal round of the state championship tourney last night, putting away Red Bank Catholic, 47-41.

Today’s coverage in the Star-Ledger keys in on the foul shooting of Gabbie DePalo, who hit four from the line in the final 25 seconds, putting R-FH ahead after a 41-41 tie.

And get this, from the Ledger story:

DePalo couldn’t celebrate the monumental victory with a complete heart. She transfered from Red Bank Catholic, where she spent her last two years, over to the neighboring Rumson prior to the start of school and parted ways with her senior sister, Mia, in the process, who career came to a close thanks to her younger sibling’s heorics.

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RBC v. R-FH IN GIRLS’ HOOPS TOURNEY

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Red Bank Catholic and Rumson-Fair Haven hoopsters will square off tomorrow night in the first round of state Group 4 girls’ New Jersey State Interscholastic
Athletic Association Tournament of Champions.

RBC, ranked fourth by the Star-Ledger, won two of its three previous games against sixth-ranked R-FH this year. RBC’s record this season is 26-3; Rumson’s is 27-4.

Both the Ledger and the Asbury Park Press have stories today about how Rumson sophomore Kate Miller all but shut down the star shooter of River Dell, in Bergen County, to help Rumson win the Group 2 championship for the second year in a row yesterday. Last year’s victory was also over River Dell.

From the Press:

Kate Miller led all scorers with 16 points, and turned in another lock-down defensive performance on the opposing team’s top scoring threat. With Miller shadowing her for the better part of the afternoon, River Dell’s Alyssa May shot 2-for-9 from the field and finished with 10 points.

“We’re all so on the same page right now,” Miller said. “This is the best our offense has run, and we all know where to be on defense. These last few games have been awesome and we’re going to try to keep it going.”

The Ledger also has a nice piece of video from the game on its homepage.

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HITTING THE POCKET WELL

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Earlier this year, 39-year-old Billy K. Sims became the 50th bowler elected to the Monmouth County USBC Bowling Association Hall of Fame, a 73-year-old organization. A six-foot-five lefty who lives in the Oak Hill section of Middletown, Sims was county Bowler of the Year in 2001. He’s rolled 35 perfect games, 24 series of 800, and tallied 11-strikes-in-a-row 10 times.

We met up with Sims recently at Memory Lanes in Red Bank and watched him knock down our ten Human Bites questions without breaking a sweat.

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WARNING: COURTSIDE GLASS

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Keith Glass is a 56-year-old Red Bank-based pro basketball agent who’s got some withering views about the state of the NBA, its players, and even the role played by people who do what he does for a living.

He lays it all out in “Taking Shots: Tall Tales, Bizarre Battles and the Incredible Truth about the NBA,” published this week by HC, an imprint of HarperCollins. (Glass will be at the Barnes & Noble in Holmdel signing copies on Monday. See below for details.)

redbankgreen caught up earlier this week with Glass at his Rumson home, which he shares with his wife, former Turkish pro hoopster and sportscaster Aylin Guney Glass. We put him through the ten-question Human Bites drill.

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KA-CHING: DEMS SPENT BIG TO WIN

The Asbury Park Press has a story today on campaign spending in last year’s council and mayoral races in Red Bank showing that the Democrats — who won all three open seats — outspent the Republicans by more than four to one.

According to reporter Larry Higgs, the Dems, led by Mayor Pasquale Menna, spent $51,378, or $30.50 for every vote cast in their favor, versus $12,100, or $7.65 per vote spent by the GOP.

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FUN WORTH THE WAIT

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After four years of waiting, ice boaters, skaters and riverwalkers have been enjoying great conditions on the frozen Navesink River lately. The glory continues today, with forecasted wind-chill temperatures of -5 degrees before a warming trend moves in tomorrow, according to the National Weather Service.

ICE IS NICE, BUT LOOK OUT

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The Navesink River was bustling with ice-starved skaters, walkers and racers Saturday, raising concern that too many people may be assuming that the entire surface is solid when it isn’t.

“There’s a lot of places that are unsafe,” said racer Jim Hadley, of Neptune, during a lunch break at the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club. “Our safety guy marks all the holes he can find with orange cones, but there’s certainly places that aren’t safe” that might have been overlooked, he said.

“It’s safe for people who know what they’re doing,” says another clubber. “But we’re now getting people with baby strollers out there.”

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NAVESINK ICE: ‘CAN’T GUARANTEE IT’

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Skaters, ice boaters, ice yachters and those, (like us) who’ve simply yearned to walk on the great Navesink River: here’s the latest from the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club ice conditions iceline, as of about 5:50p Thursday.

Part of the river was walked today, and what was found is four- to five inches of ice on most of it [says an unidentified iceman]. The holes that didn’t freeze until Tueday night are maybe three inches. The surface was fairly smooth but SOFT. Again, with the high sun this late in the season, the surface was soft and the last frozen holes were maybe three inches and were soft.

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A BOOK OF LOVE

To those familiar only with the crib notes of her biography, Nadine Goldsmith may be easy to misinterpret.

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A well-off Rumsonite, she was a fixture in charity-ball circles, and after she died of breast cancer in March, 2004 at age 58, there were the obligatory ladies-who-lunch luncheons in her honor. (From a M.A.R. magazine story about one such event, in 2004: “Guests dined on a delicious lunch of traditional salad nicoise accompanied by a crisp Provençal rosé wine served on tables of pink and white gingham.”)

But Goldsmith was also an advertising executive; a wife and mother of three; and a serial volunteer at commitment-demanding institutions such as Rutgers University (her alma mater) and Planned Parenthood.

In a similar vein, it’s tempting to assume that the sketches and paintings Goldsmith produced in the last 16 years of her life were the works of a dilletante. But that expectation is belied by a new book that assembles all her art betwen its covers.

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ICE YACHTERS HOPE FOR HISTORY & ICE

Today’s Asbury Park Press reports that the home of the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club is close to winning state designation as an historic structure.

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The building is in Red Bank on the Navesink River (known as the North Shrewsbury until the early decades of the 20th century), a body of water that this week happens to be nearing sailability—a rare condition in recent years.

The ice yachters hope that the recent Arctic weather blast lasts long enough to give them their first chance to sail locally since 2003, perhaps as soon as this weekend.

The National Weather Service forecasts temperatures that, in combination with wind-chill, could give the ice boaters what they’re hoping for.

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PARKS & REC DUO BACK IN SWING

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The top two people at the Red Bank Parks & Recreation Department, whose names were curiously absent from the borough council reappointments list on Jan. 1, have gotten the seal of approval to remain in their positions.

Director Bob Evans and Assistant Director Tomora Young were reappointed by the council last week, following an oral report by Councilman John Curley on efforts to address issues raised by a recent audit of the department.

Citing personnel policies, borough officials are still rather vague about what the holdup was.

But redbankgreen has learned that the audit, completed in October, turned up some bookkeeping mismanagement issues in the department.

There was no suggestion of any type of malfeasance, Curley said.

“There were difficult problems of accounting procedures, and that’s about all I can say,” Curley told redbankgreen.

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STRETCHING FOR A FRIEND

Rita Lemole may have left her lifelong digs in Monmouth County, but her fellow instructors and other friends from the Community YMCA in Red Bank haven’t forgotten her.

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Lemole, formerly of Middletown and Atlantic Highlands, taught aerobics, spin, Pilates and more at the Y, where she inspired a number of students to also become instructors.

“She would sometimes bring home-made muffins to share with everyone after a spin class,” says instructor Mary McGrath. “Or she would bring apples in the fall for everyone to take after class. You can see what a wonderful person Rita is.”

Last summer, Lemole moved with her husband and two children to Florida. Soon afterward, she was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer, and had a double mastectomy in December.

Now she’s going through chemotherapy and faces further surgery.

On Sunday, the Y will hold a fundraiser to help Lemole and her family with medical costs. Cycling, yoga, step aerobics and more will be offered into the early afternoon, followed by a party.

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GIVING A TOP-SHELF CAT SOME SKIN

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Ralph Gatta, aka “Johnny Jazz,” did not set out to become an institution. It was never his intent to transform what had been a simple family-owned butcher shop into a working monument to what he considers America’s greatest art form.

All he wanted, really, was to be able to continue experiencing the wonders of jazz after life threw him a curveball back in 1963. With the death of his father, Johnny Gatta, Ralph’s freewheeling Saturday nights at Birdland and other clubs in New York and Newark came to a sudden halt, as he and his mother, Helen, put in 12, 13 hours a day keeping their Shrewsbury Avenue grocery going.

So onto the turntable in the back room went the LPs. And out of the speakers above the shelves of cereal and canned goods and sacks of rice came Bird, and Miles, and Coltrane. All day long. Sometimes at volumes that Helen thought unnecessarily high. But Gatta couldn’t help himself. This is a man who, at 69 years old, still becomes visibly pumped when he hears a great horn riff and sprinkles his speech with references to “top-shelf cats.”

“The bottom line is, without my mother and the music—the music —I couldn’t have done it,” says Gatta. “I just did it for myself, to tell the truth. Because if you’re going to put music in a store, it wouldn’t be real jazz.”

On Sunday, Feb. 18, Gatta will be honored by The Source, an outreach program for students at Red Bank Regional High School.

Why Johnny Jazz? Not because he’s got anything to do with The Source, exactly. But simply for doing what he’s done, which has been to help preserve an art form by infecting his customers, including generations of kids, with his sense of devotion.

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THE SEA WAS ANGRY THAT DAY, MY FRIEND

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Gone are the days when a plunge into the ocean at the start of a new year was the province of a few wingnuts bent on proving their iconoclastic chops to a conformist world.

No more. Now, it seems, everyone’s doing it.

Yes, it was unseasonably warm Monday, as it has been in recent weeks. Still, that ocean is damn cold. And there was an intermittent rain, which meant there was no guarantee that the deep chill of a dip in the briny would be offset by the warm, dry, snuggly embrace of your favorite pullover.

So how to explain that at least 560 men, women and children registered for the annual Sons of Ireland charity plunge at Donovan’s Reef on Monday?

FIVE HUNDRED SIXTY.

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COME ON IN, THE WATER’S NUMBING.

As in the past, the fourth annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge organized by the Sons of Ireland will raise money for a couple of worthy causes.

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The beneficiaries of this year’s Sea Bright dip are Clean Ocean Action and Challenged Youth Sports, a Lincroft organization that builds parks for kids with disabilities.

But let’s not overlook the very solid, selfish reasons to jump into the Atlantic Ocean on the first day of the year, beginning with the fact that it’s a little insane. If you’re not willing to do something crazy/bold on a day that’s all about fresh starts, when will you, pilgrim? And what’s a better way to prove your commitment to change than to thrust oneself into churning, steel-cold saltwater?

Plus, the experience leaves you with a hard-to-top answer to the workplace question, ‘What did you do this weekend?’

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‘NICE LITTLE BRICK WALL’ VANISHES

One of Red Bank’s architectural treasures fell to the sledgehammer this week when workmen demolished the intricate brick fence at the United Methodist Church on Broad Street.

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The removal of the wall, apparently prompted by an accelerating state of decay, took longtime Red Bankers by surprise.

“I’m thoroughly disgusted,” said George Bowden, chairman of the Red Bank Historic Preservation Commission who had written to a church elder more than a year ago urging the church to preserve the wall, without receiving a formal reply. “It’s a tearing of the historic fabric of the town of Red Bank.”

Mayor Ed McKenna, whose law office is a few doors north of the church, said he was “shocked” to see that the wall had disappeared from one day to the next.

Church officials did not respond to requests for comment by redbankgreen, which happened upon the scene as the wall was being taken down Tuesday afternoon.

By late Wednesday, every scrap of brick and mortar had been removed, leaving only the poured concrete foundation several inches below the surface of the ground.

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AMAZING GRACE

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The Rumson priest who pleaded guilty to swindling the Holy Cross Roman Catholic parish has been let out of prison after serving fewer than six months of a five-year sentence, the Asbury Park Press reports today.

Rev. Joseph W. Hughes, who owes Holy Cross more than $2 million for the pricey cars and other luxuries he bought over seven years using the church’s funds, was released Nov. 29, according to the New Jersey Department of Corrections website. The website doesn’t give Hughes’ whereabouts.

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DEER INVADES WEST SIDE BUSINESS

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Kim Sambucci was sitting at her desk at Golf Greens Fore U on Shrewsbury Avenue late last Friday afternoon when she heard “an explosion, like a car crashing into the building.”

But it wasn’t a car Sambucci saw when she looked up. It was a deer. And there it was, just 10 or 15 feet away, inside the store, scuttling around amid the broken glass from the metal-framed door it had busted through after crossing one of the busiest streets in Red Bank.

“She was huge,” says Sambucci. “She had to weigh 300 pounds.”

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GLIDING TO A TITLE

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Something surprising happened when we photographed John Soucheck showing off his championship race walking form at Red Bank Regional High School recently: every series of pictures we took caught Soucheck moving in nearly perfect sync with the motor-driven camera shutter.

The result was the appearance of Soucheck gliding across the pavement—and always with one foot on the ground.

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WARNING: SCORECARDS MAY BE AUDITED

Pity the poor Certified Public Accountant. Wonkishly dull, they say. Obsessed with arcana. Underdeveloped sense of humor.

And whatever you do, don’t mess with a CPA’s workspace, because everything is exactly where it belongs.

Yeah, well, the folks at the accounting firm Curchin Group LLC hope to take a divot out of the stereotype next week.

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Next Thursday, Sept. 21, they’ll put their green eyeshades to new use when they host what they’re calling the first annual Curchin Open, an indoor miniature golf tournament for charity.

That’s right, indoors. In their offices. With holes laid out to look like dollar signs and calculators stuck between the desks. Not to mention the best amenities of a clubhouse. Namely, food and booze.

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