RED BANK: SCHWABENBAUER TAKES OFFICE

schwabenbauer 010415Councilman Mike DuPont snaps a photo as Linda Schwabenbauer, joined by her father, Abe Schwabenbauer, awaits her swearing-in as a council member. Pasquale Menna, below, began his third four-year term as mayor. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

pasquale menna 010415 2One year after Cindy Burnham ended a four-year lock by Democrats, Linda Schwabenbauer became the second Republican on the on the Red Bank council Sunday.

In keeping with recent tradition, however, partisanship was set aside as the annual reorganization of the borough government was marked by pledges of togetherness.

Invoking the way in which college hockey players came to shed their school identities to form the United States Olympic team in 1980, Schwabenbauer said that every member of the six-member council “has a party affiliation or cause, but each of us plays for Red Bank.”

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RED BANK: JCP&L DISPUTES ‘EXPLOSION’ CLAIM

rb fire 010415 1A series of eruptions displaced a manhole cover and bricks outside Red Bank Catholic, above. Below, JCP&L workers on making repairs in the “handhole” early Monday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb explosion 010515 1Were there explosions on Broad Street in Red Bank on Sunday?

Yes, according to eyewitnesses. No, according to a JCP&L spokesman – and the sidewalks downtown are as safe as ever.

Through spokesman Ron Morano, the electrical utility on Monday disputed claims that its equipment had exploded up to four times outside the St. James Church/Red Bank Catholic High complex, as reported on redbankgreen and elsewhere.

The claim that there were no explosions surprised police Chief Darren McConnell, who said he saw two himself as he stood in the cordoned-off stretch of Broad Street shortly after 3 p.m.

“I don’t know what they’re defining as an explosion,” McConnell said. “I saw what happened, and what happened looked an awful lot like an explosion to me.”

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RED BANK: ARE SIDEWALKS SAFE?

The explosions occurred in two transformer pits outside Red Bank Catholic High and St. James Church Sunday afternoon.  (Video by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_02Red Bank officials are scheduled to meet Monday with power company representatives to determine what caused Sunday’s electrical equipment explosions on Broad Street, Mayor Pasquale Menna tells redbankgreen.

Also on the table, he said, is the question of whether JCP&L’s underground equipment, which runs the length of Broad Street downtown, is safe, he said.

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RED BANK: POWER BACK ON AFTER EXPLOSIONS

rb explosion 010515 2A JCP&L crew working outside RBC at about 4:35 Monday morning. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_02Utility workers restored electrical power to downtown Red Bank Sunday night following a series of underground transformer explosions that sent manhole covers and bricks flying at mid-afternoon.

No one was reported injured in the blasts, which occurred in two curbside service pits located about 100 feet apart outside the Red Bank Catholic High School/Saint James Church complex on Broad Street, with the first of four explosions reported at about 3:06 p.m.

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RED BANK: EXPLOSIONS ROCK BROAD STREET

rb fire 010415 2Smoke billows from one of two manholes on Broad Street Sunday afternoon. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb fire 010415 1A series of explosions in underground electrical boxes rocked Broad Street in Red Bank Sunday afternoon.

No injuries were reported as the eruptions, in front of the St. James Church/Red Bank Catholic High School complex, sent steel covers and bricks flying from two manholes shortly after 3 p.m.

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SEA BRIGHT: FIRE DESTROYS APARTMENTS

sb fire 120714 1The blaze caused significant water damage to Seabreeze Wines & Spirits on the ground floor. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

sb fire 120714 2A resident escaped safely and volunteer firefighters suffered a few cuts and scratches as fire destroyed several apartments above a Sea Bright liquor store late Sunday night.

Firefighters responded to the alarm shortly before 11 p.m. to find “full-blown fire out the windows” of the second floor, fire Chief Joe Eskridge tells redbankgreen.

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RED BANK: LAUTERWASSER TO BE FD CHIEF

rbfd chiefs 120214 1Chief-elect Joe Lauterwasser, right arrives at the First Aid building Tuesday night with his prospective first deputy, Chris Soden, left, and second deputy Pete DeFazio, center. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03If there’s one constant that defines the Red Bank Volunteer Fire Department, it’s family.

That was evident on Tuesday night, when the 143-year-old department’s annual election night celebration was dominated by names and faces that would have been familiar to attendees generations ago.

“We’re based on tradition,” said ex-chief George Lauterwasser (2002) as he awaited the arrival of the chief-elect, his 30-year-old son, Joe, at the First Aid building on Spring Street with dozens of other volunteers. “We keep it up with the kids. We’re old school.”

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RED BANK: SENIOR INDICTED FOR ARSON

HOT-TOPIC_01A 70-year-old Red Bank man was indicted for an arson spree in which he’s alleged to have started four fires in less than an hour last July, according to a document released Thursday by the Monmouth County Prosecutor.

Gabriel Ramos, of South Pearl Street, had volunteer firefighters responding to small fires at four addresses in the vicinity of the train station, police Chief Darren McConnell said shortly after the July 11 spree.

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MIDDLETOWN: ONE DEAD IN CRASH AND FIRE

[Update, November 11, 2014: Middletown police have identified the victim as Walter Burke, 43 from the Hillside section of the township.]

By JOHN T. WARD

AUTHORITIES_MTOWN2-2014One person died in a single-vehicle crash on Navesink River Road in Middletown early Sunday morning, police said.

The vehicle caught fire in the accident, which occurred at about 3:18 a.m. along the 700 block of the road, said Detective Lieutenant Stephen Dollinger, spokesman for the township police department.

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RED BANK SCORES IN GAS VALVE BATTLE

An NJNG crew packs it in after being ordered by police to stop work on a nearly completed gas regulator valve replacement on Monmouth Street in October, 2012. Below, a Monmouth Street valve that was struck by a falling tree during Hurricane Sandy. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb gas valve 103112Remember the flap over the regulator valves that New Jersey Natural Gas Company moved above-ground along storefronts over the objections of Red Bank officials and merchants two years ago?

They’re unsafe, borough officials said. They’re ugly, too, said business owners and officials at RiverCenter, the downtown promotion agency. Mayor Pasquale Menna called them “monstrous carbuncles” forced upon the town by an “arrogant” utility company.

They’re also illegal, according to a state appellate panel ruing issued Tuesday.

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RED BANK: SMOKE ALARM ‘SAVED HER LIFE’

rb fire 102214 9Joan Raymond, at right above, outside her fire-damaged home, and getting a hug from a friend on her neighbor’s heat-blistered porch, below. (Video and photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb fire 102214 8October is National Fire Protection Month, one of those designations meant to save lives that many of us find too easy to tune out.

For Joan Raymond of Red Bank, however, a small piece of fire safety equipment meant the difference between being alive and dead Wednesday morning.

“I’m a heavy sleeper,” Raymond said, hours after fire tore through Madison Avenue house. And if not for a talking smoke alarm chriping the word “fire,” Raymond said, mimicking its voice, “I wouldn’t be here.”

“That smoke alarm saved her life,” said Fire Chief Tommy Welsh. “She’s alive because of that thing, no doubt about it.”

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RED BANK: WOMAN ESCAPES HOUSE FIRE

As firefighters arrived, an electrical line lay sparking in the driveway to the left of the burning house. (Video and photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb fire 102214 2A smoke alarm awoke a Red Bank woman shortly before fire engulfed her house early Wednesday morning.

Joan Raymond, of 23 Madison Avenue, said the smoke alarm, intoning a prerecorded “fire,” went off shortly after midnight, and she went downstairs to find her front porch in flames. She exited through the back door.

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RUMSON: PREDAWN FIRE DAMAGES HOME

rumson fire 101814 2Firefighters cut through the roof of the house, below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rumson fire 101814 1A predawn fire drove a Rumson family out of their home early Saturday.

The fire, at 3 Sycamore Lane, off Ridge Road, was reported shortly after 4 a.m., and the residents had escaped safely by the time firefighters arrived, said Rumson Fire Chief Bob Halligan.

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RED BANK: WHAT SHOULD GO HERE?

40 WHITE 092314 1Restaurant? Bakery? Something else? The owners of the former Liberty Hose Company firehouse are looking for the perfect match for the vacant structure. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

40 WHITE 092314 2Everybody’s got an opinion. But does anyone have a solid, workable idea for the former Liberty Hose Company firehouse’s second act?

The owners of the 103-year building at 40 White Street in Red Bank are open to suggestions, says John Morgan, who along with his brother and father, both named Michael, bought the two-story, red brick structure from the borough earlier this year for $400,000.

“This is such a unique building that you want something that’s going to fit its persona,” Morgan told redbankgreen on a recent tour of the property. And the family is committed to “local.,” he said. “We don’t want somebody from New York to come in.”

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RED BANK: CHIMNEY FIRE DAMAGE LIMITED

rb fire 286 spring 100514Red Bank volunteer firefighters “did a fantastic job” in quickly quelling a chimney fire at 286 Spring Street reported at about 9 p.m. Sunday, said Chief Tommy Welsh. The homeowner apparently overloaded the fireplace with wood, he said. Fire damage was limited to a small area of the roof, and the firefighting effort produced minimal water damage, Welsh said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: RUMSON COP CHARGED WITH DWI

rb crash 092114 2The crash occurred at the eastern end of White Street, where the road narrows at the rear of 46 Broad Street.. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

just_inThe motorist charged with drunk driving after crashing his car into the back of a Red Bank store early Sunday morning is a Rumson police officer, redbankgreen has learned.

Sergeant Damien Brennan, 37, of Howell, was charged with DWI and careless driving after crashing his Chevy Camaro into a dumpster behind Fisher Diamonds, at the corner of White and Broad streets, shortly after midnight, Red Bank police Chief Darren McConnell confirmed.

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RED BANK: DWI CHARGE FOLLOWS CRASH

rb crash 092114rb crash 092114 1It’s been a rough week for Red Bank landlord Helwar Realty. Last Thursday, roofers accidentally started a fire between its buildings at 48 and 50 Broad Street. Then, shortly after midnight Sunday morning, a motorist traveling east on White Street crashed into the dumpster being used by the roofers, driving it into the rear of 46 Broad, which Helwar also owns.

The structure, home to Alan H. Fisher Diamonds, was not seriously damaged, according to John Drucker, an inspector from the borough building department. The driver, Daniel Brennan, 37, of Howell, was taken to a hospital on a complaint of pain. He was also charged with DWI and careless driving, said police Chief Darren McConnell. (Photo above by Brian Woodward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: ROOF FIRE VEXES CHIEF

rb fire 091814 1Firefighters closed off a portion of Broad Street to fight the blaze. One peered into a wall cavity abutting the roof, below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A hard-to-locate rb fire 091814 2fire apparently started by roofers prompted the shutdown of a stretch of Broad Street in Red Bank Thursday afternoon.

Emergency personnel responded to smoke alarms from 50 Broad, home to the A Time to Kiln pottery class shop, and an adjoining building at about 4:10 p.m., said Fire Chief Tommy Welsh.

Volunteer firefighters then spent about an hour on the roof and inside second-floor offices, where they cut into walls in search of the source of hazy smoke, he said.

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RED BANK: STREET FAIR SHINES AGAIN

Sunday was a day of sunglasses, leashes, and bibs in downtown Red Bank for the annual late-summer edition of Street Fair, a fundraiser for the volunteer fire department and the local PBA. Every nook and niche, it seemed, was taken up by hungry fairgoers. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

FAIR HAVEN: FAIR TRADITION CONTINUES

082214 fhfair33082214 fhfair11The first night of the annual Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair, which returned Friday night is about neighbors re-connecting, kids returning from summer camp to discuss the upcoming school year behind the firehouse, babies being introduced to a rite of passage, and borough residents seeing one another once again maybe for the first and only time of the year. Most of the kids will go to bed with a sugar high as they all seemed to be carrying cones of cotton candy bigger than their heads. The beer flowed pretty freely as well….same as last year.

The fair continues nightly until August 30, except for Sunday, when it is idle. And out photo coverage continues just around the “read more” corner. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

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RED BANK: INJURED MAN RESCUED FROM ATTIC

rb rescue 082014 2Rescuers removing the victim in a stokes basket through a roof hatch, as seen through a window on Ladder 91, above, and lowering him for transport to a hospital, below. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb rescue 082014 1Red Bank police and volunteer firefighters executed a tricky rescue Wednesday morning when they extricated an injured man from under the roof of the primary school.

The victim, whose identity was not immediately available, apparently fell inside the peaked attic in a section of the school while conducting an annual inspection of the alarm system, authorities on the scene said.

“It’s like a maze and trusses and rafters in there,” said one cop.

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RED BANK: BOAT RESCUERS WIN PLAUDITS

altimari 081314Patrolwoman Kristin Altimari checks out her commendation for heroism. Also honored for roles in the rescue were public works employee Josh Schmidt, in yellow, and fire Chief Tommy Welsh, center, with Councilman Ed Zipprich and Mayor Pasquale Menna. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Just four months into her career as a police officer, Red Bank Patrolwoman Kristin Altimari drew praise Wednesday for quick thinking and heroism for helping four young women adrift in a boat on the Swimming River Saturday night.

The 30-year-old former Ocean County high school teacher, who joined the police department in March, was the primary actor in a brief drama involving a quartet of swimsuited teenage girls who found themselves helpless in a one-oared rowboat in the darkness of the Swimming River.

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RED BANK: DRIFTING BOAT PROMPTS SEARCH

rb river rescue 080914 1 rb river rescue 080914 2Draped in firefighters’ coats, four teenage girls were safe in Red Bank Saturday night after losing an oar to a dinghy they’d launched from Conover Lane in Middletown and drifitng in the darkness of the Swimming River. At right, volunteer fire and rescue workers searched the phragmites behind a home on Chapin Avenue hoping to intercept the boat, which landed at River Street with the help of a Red Bank policewoman at around 10 p.m., about an hour after it was reported adrift.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)