ASHLEY DUPRÉ SETS UP SHOP AND MOVES ON

Ashley DuPré embarked on a new life Monday with the opening of Femme by Ashley, her Red Bank swimwear and lingerie boutique, below. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Can a Jersey Girl whose work as a 22-year-old prostitute helped derail a political career in spectacular fashion return home and remake herself as a small-town retailer?

Four years after her high-priced hotel romps with Eliot Spitzer dynamited his tenure as governor of New York and made her infamous, Ashley Dupré says she turned a page Monday with the opening of Femme by Ashley, a lingerie and swimwear boutique on the choicest block in downtown Red Bank.

The shop, Dupré told redbankgreen in an exclusive interview, “is almost like the beginning of the rest of my life.

“I made a bunch of mistakes when I was younger, and I feel like, for the first time in my life, I’m growing into an adult, and I’m really excited about that,” she said.

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BATTER UP! BUT WHERE ARE THE GIRLS?

Lucas Sileno, 8, played catch with his dad, Phil, below, as Red Bank fifth- and sixth-graders faced off in an opening-day game Saturday. (Photos by Danielle Tepper. Click to enlarge)

By DANIELLE TEPPER

Red Bank’s Parks and Recreation department held its second annual baseball/softball day at Count Basie Fields Saturday to promote the town’s sports programs and to entice kids to sign up.

After several years of rebuilding, the department was able to field a seventh- and eighth-grade boys team for the first time in decade, parks & rec director Memone Crystian tells redbankgreen.

“Our objective is to get Red Bank kids playing through to the high school level,” she said, to the background sounds of hardballs landing in leather mitts. “To do that, we need to get them interested, which is why we’re having a day like today.”

Next challenge: getting girls out on the diamond.

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FOUNDATION ENVISIONS LINK TO RBPS POND


A satellite view of the pond at the Red Bank Primary School, courtesy of Google Maps. Below, Andrew Winning, 10, demonstrates a human sun clock on the school grounds. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Kathie Panepinto was leading a tour of the Red Bank Primary School property and lamenting the heavy growth that hides an adjoining pond Monday when groundhog that had been sunning itself in the grass scooted across her path and into the brush.

“Oh, look at that,” she said said excitedly, noting that up-close sightings of deer and other wildlife are common at the school, which sits on landfill in a former wetlands abutting the Swimming River.

It was the kind of moment that for decades has inspired talk of the school’s potential as natural sciences learning center. And it underscored the value of ongoing efforts by Panepinto and other volunteers in their most ambitious effort to date: creating a permanent physical link between the school and the inaccessible pond.

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WEDDING WALK KICKS UP FOOT TRAFFIC

Models showed off bridal gowns at Sassy Chic Boutique, above, while a passerby did a doubletake at the sight of human mannequin Stephanie Rogers at Barbizon Models during the fourth Wedding Walk in Red Bank Saturday.

Nancy Adams, executive director of event sponsor Red Bank RiverCenter, said the walk attracted about 30 percent more registrants than the March, 2011 edition, with some 600 shoppers thronging the streets in search of dresses, hair styling, DJs, photographers and more wedding-related goods and services. (Click to enlarge)

WEDDING WALKERS TO STROLL RED BANK

Matt DePonti of Powerhouse Signworks gets the word about Wedding Walk out above Broad Street last week. (Click to enlarge)

Here come the brides-to-be again, as Red Bank merchants reprise an idea that’s turned into one of the more popular recurring draws of shoppers and diners.

As with the first three editions of this shopping extravaganza, merchants of everything from formalwear to framing, from rehearsal-dinner restaurant meals to riverfront hotel suites will open their doors on Saturday to an expected swarm of soon-to-be-marrieds hoping to nail down details of their big day.

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FAIR HAVEN: DWI CHARGED AFTER ACCIDENT

Recent activity reports, unedited, as provided by the Fair Haven Police Department.

call-in-the-authorities2/4/12

Lt. McGovern and Cpl. Waltz took a report of Criminal Mischief from a Grange Ave. resident reporting that screens to her home were damaged.

2/6/12

Thomas Mannion, 22 of Fair Haven, was arrested on 2/6/12 by Ptl. Patton and charged with DWI subsequent to a motor vehicle accident. Mr. Mannion was released with a pending court date.

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LITTLE SILVER FIRE VICTIMS SEEK MEMENTOS

ls-fire-2-121011The Loftus home, on Carriage Lane, during last Saturday’s fire. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Their lives were spared, and for that they are grateful. Their home, a 120-year-old exemplar of Victorian architecture, was destroyed, but insurance will provide for another home.

The loss that’s hardest to accept, Donna and Joe Loftus say, is that of the photo and video evidence of their four children’s lives. All of it went up in smoke when their Little Silver home burned to the ground last Saturday.

In a letter to community members, district schools Superintendent Carolyn Kossack writes:

The greatest loss experienced by the Loftus family is not one on which they can place monetary value. Rather, it is the emotional loss of their mementos. Mr. and Mrs. Loftus lost all of their pictures and videos of their four children, Brendan, 5th grade, Meg, a junior at RBR, and their two college students Patrick and Elizabeth. They lost all of the children’s school records and special projects and cards that parents keep forever.

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RED BANK ‘SPRAYGROUND’ PLAN UNDER FIRE

bellhavenA proposal for a water-shooting playground at Red Bank’s little-used Bellhaven Nature Area has raised hackles among environmentalists. (Click to enlarge)

swimming-riverBy JOHN T. WARD

Wednesday night’s meeting of the Red Bank Council could be a water-balloon fight of sorts.

Members of the Environmental Commission, an advisory group, say they were alarmed to learn recently that the borough Parks & Rec department is considering Bellhaven Nature Area, a wetland preserve created just eight years ago, as a possible location for a ‘sprayground,’ a play area that enables kids to get deliriously soaked by nozzles built into fixed apparatus.

Lou DiMento – the lone remaining commission member who was involved in the original preservation effort –  and others say they were shocked to learn that the town might pursue a $250,000 Monmouth County Open Spaces grant, which it would have to match, in order to build the sprayground.

“That stunned us,” especially after the borough government told the commission that it couldn’t come up with a few hundred dollars for a sign to designate the nature area, nestled against the Swimming River at the western end of Locust Avenue, DiMento said.

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TWO HOUSES DONATED TO LUNCH BREAK

housesThe two properties adjoining Lunch Break, at right above, will be used to provide social services and clothing to the needy, if plans are approved. (Click to enlarge)

clothing

Space is tight at Lunch Break, the Red Bank soup kitchen.

Because of soaring demand for hot meals and canned goods, the need for pantry space has soared, too. Volunteers handling administrative duties share dining tables with clients who come for the meals. Every Saturday, bundles of clothing stored in the basement of the 25-year-old facility named for co-founder Norma Todd must be carted upstairs, out through a parking lot and back into the ground-floor dining room for distribution to clients in need.  When winter approaches, executive director Gwen Love has to clear out of her cramped office so clients can get flu shots in private.

The space shortage is more than just an inconvenience. It impinges on Lunch Break’s mission, says Love: to deliver services to those in need with a measure of dignity and respect.

So the recent donation of two houses adjoining Lunch Break’s home at 121 on Drs. James Parker Boulevard, just as the organization was about to embark on a search for additional space, was something of a “miracle,” says Love.

“Every now and then, it rains down blessings,” she tells redbankgreen.

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GETTING THE OLD CROWD TOGETHER AGAIN

For the second year in a row, former Red Bank residents, newcomers and old-timers gathered for a “family reunion” block party on Drs. James Parker Boulevard Saturday. Photographer Stacie Fanelli was there for redbankgreen.

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MIDDLETOWN TEENS PAY IT FORWARD

bffCousins Mike Ruane and Erika Rech are gearing up for a round of heavy fundraising for Breast Friends Forever, the non-profit they created as high school freshmen. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

donegoodlogoOctober, 2006 was the start of a rough stretch for the families of Mike Ruane and Erika Rech of Middletown.

Rech’s mother was diagnosed with stage-three breast cancer. Six months later, two more women in the family were diagnosed with the disease.

“We were surrounded by chemo and radiation,” Rech said.

In response, the two raised $1,000 in a local Relay For Life fundraiser, but wanted to do more. So they did some research and a lot of legwork and, by 2007, were founders of a non-profit, Breast Friends Forever.

Perhaps even harder to fathom than the odds of three family members being diagnosed with breast cancer in such a short timeframe: Rech and Ruane were both only 15 years old when they founded the non-profit.

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FROM SURROGACY ‘EXPERIENCE,’ TWO BIRTHS

chloeThe arrival of Blair Sullivan Cuje’s daughter Chloe, who was carried to term by another woman, gave rise to a new Red Bank business. (Click to enlarge)

Because of longstanding health issues, the advice doctors gave Blair Sullivan Cuje four years ago after the birth of her first daughter, Sophie, was firm: don’t try having another child.

Neither, Cuje (pronounced ‘koo-jay’) nor her husband, George, had a fertility issue: the problem lay in the childbearing process itself, which caused her serious medical complications. Still, the Little Silver couple wanted a larger family.

After considering their options, including adoption, the Cujes took the surrogacy route, in which another woman carried their fertilized egg to term. The process resulted in the birth of their second daughter a year and a half ago, when, by prior arrangement, a maternity nurse in a Wisconsin hospital handed the newborn Chloe directly to Cuje, not the surrogate mother.

And in that emotionally weighty moment, it might be said, was also born the idea for a new business, one that caters not only to couples like the Cujes, but to women like Tina Dettlaff, the Milwaukee woman who bore Chloe.

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