RED BANK: WEST SIDERS MARCH IN PROTEST

rb march 102514 4rb march 102514 2About three dozen protesters marched through Red Bank Saturday morning to object to rising property taxes, a proposed spray park at Bellhaven Nature Area, borough hiring practices and what they termed police “aggressiveness.”

Organizer Freddie Boynton said the event, spotlighting concerns of West Siders, was not meant to be partisan, though it called for “new leadership” at borough hall.  “There’s a lot of frustration on this side of town,” said Boynton, a retired DPW employee. “We’re not being treated like the rest of the town is.”  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: LIBRARY ADDS SATURDAY HOURS

rbpl stairs 051514The stairs to the library’s children’s room, where Saturday programming returns on October 18 with a Halloween Craft Party. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03As expected, the trustees of the Red Bank Public Library voted to resume part-day Saturday operations Thursday night.

The West Front Street facility will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and “all services, from borrowing books and movies to using the public computers and Wi-Fi, reading newspapers and magazines, and attending special events and programs, will be available to children and adults,” according to a press release issued Friday.

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RED BANK: LIBRARY MAY RESTORE SATURDAYS

rb library 092214The resumption of Saturday service is expected to occur as early as this weekend, officials said. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Moving to reverse one of the more controversial actions of its predecessors, members of the recently reconstituted board of the Red Bank Public Library are expected to clear the way for a resumption of Saturday operations this week.

A special meeting of the board has been scheduled for Thursday evening, solely for the purpose of voting on the proposal. That would allow the facility to be open as soon as this Saturday, acting director Elizabeth McDermott tells redbankgreen.

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RED BANK: LUNCH BREAK GETS $1 MILLION

lunch break 092914The donation will ensure completion of a major expansion of the soup kitchen now underway, officials said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

just_in1Red Bank’s Lunch Break soup kitchen has landed a $1 million donation from a philanthropist who asked not to be publicly identified, the organization announced Monday.

The donation, already in the bank, pushed Lunch Break to 80 percent of its $5 million capital campaign to pay for a sizable expansion of its facility on Drs. James Parker Boulevard.

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RUMSON: A DAY TRIMMED IN BLUE

rumson paint 080814 2 rumson paint 080814 3Residents of the Green awoke to cool temperatures in the low 60s Thursday morning, which reminded redbankgreen of these photos from a week ago, taken on West River Road and in Rumson, where Bruce Murray and Ivan Figueroa were giving Diane Turton Realty’s home a crisp new coat of paint. Look for abundant sunshine on Thursday and a high of 79 Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

 

RED BANK’S 2014 TEACHERS OF THE YEAR

clark kanuga 072314kathleen boylan 072314And the winners, chosen by their respective schools, are…

Julius Clark, above left, a math teacher, basketball coach and – he hopes – a future principal of the Red Bank Middle School, where he’s worked for 10 years.

Krishna Kanuga, above right, a native of India who became hooked on teaching while getting his master’s degree in science at Rutgers, and has now teaches physics at Red Bank Regional (which of course is actually in Little Silver), where he’s worked for 13 years.

Kathleen Boylan, right, of the Red Bank Charter School, who began her teaching career in the Little Silver district before she and her husband – former Stokaboka owner Mike Boylan – had twin boys. She’s been at RBCS since 2011, where she teaches math to grades six through eight.

They were honored at Wednesday night’s meeting of the Red Bank mayor and council. Let’s hear it for the teachers, folks… (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

FAIR HAVEN: TEACHERS SETTLE CONTRACT

nelson ribon 042814 3 Superintendent Nelson Ribon fielded pointed questions from parents about the teachers’ contract and other issues at two packed meetings in April. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

After two years without a contract, Fair Haven school teachers have approved a new collective bargaining agreement, the Asbury Park Press reports.

The unresolved contract was among several flash points when parents grilled Superintendent Nelson Ribon and the school board over the possible elimination of two full-time kindergarten teaching jobs in April.

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RED BANK: LIBRARY TO ADD HOURS

rbpl 1 032714The library’s trustees, below, agreed to add seven hours to the weekly schedule. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rbpl 051514When will the Red Bank Public Library restore Saturday service? That’s the question acting library director Elizabeth McDermott says patrons ask most these days.

Answer: by the end of 2014. With luck.

In the meantime, the library’s newly reconstituted board of trustees board, at a meeting Thursday night, added seven hours to a weekly operating schedule that had been pared to 20 in recent months.

“It’s a start,” said board member Stephen Hecht.

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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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FAIR HAVEN: RESIDENTS RALLY FOR TEACHERS

fh boe  043014 1 Students held signs with the names of teachers whose jobs they hoped to save. Board member Katy Frissora, below, fielded a question from a parent. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

katy frissora 043014Some 300 Fair Haven parents and students packed a gymnasium to protest a plan not to renew the contracts of seven non-tenured teachers Wednesday night.

“It breaks my heart to leave my school like this in two months,” eighth-grader Ellie Gibney told the borough school board, just 48 hours after a smaller crowd upbraided school Superintendent Nelson Ribon over the plan.

Board members, however, defended the decision as the outcome of an evaluation process that included elements they could not discuss publicly under laws governing personnel matters.

“We need people to stop with the vitriol and the Facebook nastiness – at me in particular,” said Katy Frissora, who’s been on the board for eight years.

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FAIR HAVEN MAN TO HEAD RED BANK SCHOOLS

rbps 022813Jared Rumage, below, was named to head the two-school district, including the primary school, above. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter a seven-month search, Red Bank has found a new schools superintendent, and he lives one town over.

Jared Rumage, 42, of Fair Haven, was named to head the two-school district at a meeting of the board of education Tuesday night. He replaces Laura Morana, who retired in September after seven years at the helm.

Rumage, the principal at the Iselin Middle School in Woodbridge Township, will face some heavy lifting when he starts work on July 1. Amid rapidly rising enrollment in a district in which some 90 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches, the board of education this week approved a budget that will sock borough taxpayers with a 10-percent tax increase, or an average $231 more per household this year.

“This is the situation he’s walking into,” board President Ben Forest tells redbankgreen. “The number one challenge is going to be resources, how to do a lot with a little.”

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FAIR HAVEN: WOMEN AT (AND OUT OF) WORK

DrMaryGattaAuthor Dr. Mary Gatta visits River Road Books on Thursday evening, for a discussion of the challenges faced by unemployed women in the current workforce system.   

As a senior scholar at Washington, DC-based Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW), and an adjunct professor at Rutgers University, Dr. Mary Gatta has been a go-to authority for some time on the challenges that women in the workforce face, in an age of downsizing, outsourcing, furloughing, income disparities and a Great Recession that doesn’t know when to quit. But it wasn’t until the academic went “undercover” as a client of a NJ One Stop Career Center, that she gained the first-hand perspective informing each page of All I Want Is a Job!: Unemployed Women Navigating the Public Workforce System, her new book from Stanford University Press.

On Thursday, May 1, the author visits River Road Books for a discussion and signing session centered around the book, a report that chronicles the struggle to navigate the often frustrating complexities of the public workforce system — and the ongoing struggle to survive — through interviews with unemployed women of all ages and backgrounds, along with the “street-level bureaucrats” who service them.

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FAIR HAVEN: SCHOOLS HEAD UNDER FIRE

fh schools 2 042814Superintendent Nelson Ribon, center above, fielded pointed questions from parents, including one, below, who compared him to a CEO who had lost the respect of his employees. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

fh schools 1 042814Fair Haven school Superintendent Nelson Ribon found himself in the crosshairs of about 100 mothers and a handful of students Monday night.

Joined by about a dozen men, the women and kids challenged Ribon and the school board over the possible elimination of two full-time kindergarten teaching jobs, a plan to expand the half-time kindergarten program next September, and pending decisions on the jobs of more than two dozen teachers.

“Teachers are afraid to talk,” a woman who has four children in the district schools told Ribon during a two-hour Q&A at Knollwood School. “They’re fearful for their jobs, and that’s not what Fair Haven is about.”

“We’re asking you to reconsider” a plan to replace the two kindergarten full-timers with four part-timers, said another, echoing a sentiment voiced several times.

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BUILDING THE RANKS OF FEMALE ENGINEERS

jacki flor 041814Jacki Flor on the site of the Sea Bright municipal parking lot reconstruction, which she’s overseeing, and Christine Ballard, giving a presentation in Red Bank below, say their interest in solving mechanical problems was nurtured when they were girls. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

c ballard 52609Of the 565 towns and cities in New Jersey, only 19 have female municipal engineers. And two of them serve towns on the Green: Christine Ballard in Red Bank, and Jaclyn Flor, in Sea Bright.

Municipal engineers are the brains behind public infrastructure, designing everything from crosswalks to sewer lift stations. They pursue grants to pay for ballfields and bulkheads. And they serve as emissaries, navigating the often choppy waters between zoning board applicants, contractors, elected officials and taxpayers.

In that realm, a woman’s point of view and way of communicating can often be helpful, Ballard said.

“There have been a lot of men doing this for a long time, and I’m sure they did it well,” she told redbankgreen. But “there’s been a wonderful transition to women in government,” and it turns out that other women are “sometimes better at translating projects, and why we need to spend a million dollars to fix the water plant,” to diverse constituencies, she said.

In fact, the broader field of engineering could use many more women, which is why the American Association of University Women and the Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore are putting on an event at Brookdale Community College on Saturday to encourage girls to consider careers as engineers.

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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: COUNCIL REHIRES LIBRARY PAIR

rb council 2 040914Librarians Sira Williams, left, and Elizabeth McDermott embrace after being reinstated to their jobs Wednesday night. Below, trustees Denelle Johnson, left, and Brigid McCarthy with Administrator Stanley Sickels after the meeting. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb council 1 040914Pulling rank on its own appointees Wednesday night, the Menna Administration rehired two of the three full-timers laid off from the public library amid warnings of a financial crisis last month.

During a tense council meeting at which officials characterized the library’s trustees as “intransigent” and “hostile” to administration guidance, borough Administrator Stanley Sickels also presented the outlines of a library budget that he said would yield surpluses this year and next, and enable the facility to restore some hours of operation, which were cut last month.

That’s in sharp contrast to the spending plan crafted by the eight-member library board, which anticipated a shortfall of $131,000 this year and dire consequences next year if the full-time staffing was not reduced.

Two clearly frosted trustees continued to insist that the administration was fixing purported errors that did not exist in the board’s budget and had failed to communicate with the board in recent weeks.

“I don’t understand the adversarial position,” library trustee Brigid McCarthy told the council during a public comment session after the vote. “This problem is much bigger than two jobs. Rehiring these two people will only kick the can down the road.”

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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: ONE LAST SURGE IN NATIVE BLUE?

rbpd clay vescio 032614
Newly elevated Captain Mike Clay, left, and Lieutenant Errico Vescio chat before being sworn to their new ranks Wednesday night. Below, Michael Frazee reciting the oath of lieutenant. Clay’s been on the squad since 1986; Vescio joined in 1999, and Frazee in 1996. Both Vescio and Frazee are Red Bank natives. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

michael frazee 032614Red Bank’s police department completed a “once-in-a-lifetime” makeover Wednesday night with a host of promotions and a pair of new hires.

A new captain – former Lieutenant Mike Clay – four new lieutenants and six new sergeants were sworn to their ranks at a packed borough council meeting. Chief Darren McConnell, who’s held his post for just three months, said the promotions were aimed at putting the future leadership of the department in place.

But the mass elevation also may signal the beginning of the end of a long tradition in American policing: homegrown cops.

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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: 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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RED BANK: DUPONT TO MAN TOLLBOOTH

dupont“I’ll take your offer. You tell me the time and place,” DuPont told a rep for the tolltakers’ union, which is fighting a move to privatize collections. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Red Bank commuters may encounter a familiar face as they slow to pay a toll on the New Jersey Turnpike one day soon.

Borough Councilman Mike DuPont could be in the tollbooth, making change.

The Asbury Park Press reports that DuPont, a lawyer who wears a third hat as a New Jersey Turnpike Authority commissioner, has accepted a challenge by the tolltaker’s union to walk – or stand still – a mile in their shoes.

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RED BANK’S LAST CONSTABLE DIES AT 99

people-in-the-newsSaul Diamond, the last person to hold the position of Red Bank constable, died Sunday at his home at Riverview Towers, on Riverside Avenue.

He was 99 years old.

Diamond’s obituary in the Asbury Park Press says he served as borough constable from 1969 to 2000, when the post was abolished and its duties transferred to the Monmouth County Sheriff’s office.

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BCC PROGRAM TRAINS 50+ ADULTS FOR JOBS

Press release from Brookdale Community College

Brookdale Community College announced that it is the recipient of a $15,000 two-year grant from The Plus 50 Encore Completion Program, to assist adults age 50 and older complete a degree or certificate programs in healthcare and social services.

The program is sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), and is part of a national initiative to train 10,000 baby boomers for new jobs in high-growth, high-demand occupations.

As part of the grant, Brookdale will establish an Encore Center for the Adult Learner on its Lincroft campus. The center will bring together current offerings for adult students and streamline the process for returning adults through one single point of contact. Included in the center will be such services as a Career Interest Inventory and Skills Assessment, and online workshops on topics that include using social media for the job search, resume writing and interview skills.   The Center will coordinate existing services and offer an adult-friendly environment of support and assistance.

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