RED BANK: FORTUNE CULTURAL CENTER OPENS

red bank fortune house Dozens of supporters gathered on the front lawn for the opening of the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center. Below, a view of the ceremony from inside the restored house. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

red bank fortune houseMore than a century after the departure of its most famous resident, the T. Thomas Fortune House in Red Bank reopened Thursday as a cultural center dedicated to his mission of advancing civil and human rights.

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RED BANK: PARKING, NEWS RACKS AND MORE

red bank news racksNews boxes outside the Post Office on Broad Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank’s borough council is expected to introduce an ordinance Wednesday requiring alternate-side parking throughout town.

Also on the agenda: a law to regulate news racks, and honors for an educator who is retiring.

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RED BANK: FORTUNE ‘MIRACLE’ COMPLETED

red bank nj t. thomas fortune cultural centerThe restored T. Thomas Fortune House on Drs. James Parker Boulevard plans to formally open as a cultural center in May. Below, restoration supervisor Spencer Foxworth and foundation member Robin Blair examine a chandelier to be installed. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

red bank nj t. thomas fortune cultural center

An against-the-odds, decade-long effort to save a Red Bank house that was once the home of a pioneering civil rights journalist has reached its improbable conclusion, people involved in the effort say.

This weekend, local history lovers will get their first-ever chance to tour the T. Thomas Fortune House, a National Historic Register structure that not long ago was about to be razed.

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RED BANK: CHIEF ADDRESSES USE OF FORCE

red bank nj policeRed Bank’s police chief hasn’t seen a single case of unwarranted force during an arrest in five years, he tells redbankgreen. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njRed Bank’s police chief says he reviews every report of force used by members of his department during arrests, and hasn’t found any in the past five years that appear improper.

Chief Darren McConnell’s observation followed the release by NJ Advance Media last week of data on every arrest in which police used force in New Jersey over four years.

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SHREWSBURY: PANTER CLAIMS WIN v. O’REILLY

By JOHN T. WARD

shrewsbury, nj, mike panter, michael panterA Shrewsbury man claimed victory Tuesday in a yearlong legal standoff with former Fox News star Bill O’Reilly.

Former New Jersey Assemblyman Mike Panter, right, said O’Reilly dropped a $5 million defamation suit he’d filed over a Facebook post in which Panter recounted an ex-girlfriend’s allegations of sexual harassment by the combative TV host.

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RED BANK: POKU CLAIMS RACIAL PREJUDICE

An undated drone shot shows the collection of vehicles and trash in Poku’s backyard. (Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

The owner of a Red Bank residential property packed with rusting vehicles and other junk told a TV news program on Tuesday that he’s a victim of racial prejudice.

William Poku, whose property was the subject of a report by redbankgreen earlier in the day, also denied that he’s hoarding junk.

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RED BANK: LIBRARY DIRECTOR CHECKS OUT

Red Bank library staff and patrons held a sendoff party last week for the retirement of director Elizabeth McDermott, seen above speaking with public utilities director Cliff Keen.

Monmouth County Freeholder John  Curley, a former Red Bank councilman, presented McDermott with a county proclamation recognizing her for, among other accomplishments, leading the library through the most turbulent period in its 81-year history.

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RED BANK: BASIE NOW ‘CENTER FOR THE ARTS’

The rollout of the new name will begin immediately, theater officials said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Marking the start of a new chapter — and the end of that whole ‘theater or theatre?’ conundrum — Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre has been rebranded the Count Basie Center for the Arts, officials said Monday.

The name reflects the 92-year-old venue’s present and future as a “campus,” where performance art is learned, developed and staged, said Basie chief executive officer Adam Philipson. Read More »

RED BANK: LIBRARY DIRECTOR TO RETIRE

Elizabeth McDeromott, center, at the 2015 Red Bank Mayor’s Ball. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Elizabeth McDermott, who guided the Red Bank Public Library through perhaps the most turbulent chapter of its 81-year history, will retire at the end of June.

An ex-software industry consultant who changed careers well into adulthood, McDermott announced her retirement in the spring issue of the library’s newsletter, out this week.

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from redbankgreen! (Photos by John T. Ward. GIF by Trish Russoniello.)

RED BANK: NEW HISTORY IN FORTUNE HOUSE

Restoration work on the T. Thomas Fortune house is underway in conjunction with the construction of 31 apartments behind it, where an elevator tower is visible. Below, builder Roger Mumford shows off an original decorative corbel removed from just below the roof line of the house, and, in his left hand, a replica made from mahogany. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

After a decade-long effort to save it from the wrecking ball, Red Bank’s T. Thomas Fortune house is in the midst of a restoration that has served up some additional history.

Part of the Second Empire-style mansion on Drs. James Parker Boulevard may be much older than previously believed, says developer Roger Mumford, who is racing to conserve what he can of the structure even as it crumbles before his eyes.

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SHREWSBURY: BILL O’REILLY SUES PANTER

Bill O’Reilly has filed a lawsuit against former New Jersey Assembly member Michael Panter, who claimed in a Facebook post earlier this week that the former Fox New star sexually harassed Panter’s ex-girlfriend, according to Bloomberg News.

Panter, of Shrewsbury, told redbankgreen by email early Saturday that he had not read the Bloomberg report, and referred to a statement posted Friday on his Facebook page, in which he said he was “speaking the truth,” and expects his account to be “fully corroborated.”

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PUBLISHER’S APOLOGY

Dear redbankgreen reader:

In haste and without consideration about how it would affect those named, I posted a news article on Sunday that contained information I should have known would cause great pain across the community I cover, and in particular, to a family already suffering an unspeakable shock.

I apologize.

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RBR TEACHER NOTED FOR LITERARY BLOG

Gretna Wilkinson. (Click to enlarge)

Press release from Red Bank Regional High

Gretna Wilkinson, Red Bank Regional’s (RBR) acclaimed creative writing  teacher, was recently notified that her website and literary blog, the Raven’s Perch, was selected as one of the top 100 literary blogs on the web by Feedspot.com, a website aggregator.

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RED BANK: POSTMASTER’S POSTS DRAW FIRE

An status update on the Facebook page of postmaster Michael Angelo Ciano, below, showed an assault rifle with the comment, “Anti-muslim vaccinations.” (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank’s postmaster has attracted the attention of human rights activists over what they call “vile” Facebook posts promoting racism, misogyny and apparent endorsements of violence against liberals and other groups, redbankgreen has learned.

A United States Postal Service spokesman confirmed that the agency is looking into complaints about photos and comments posted by postmaster Michael Angelo Ciano on his personal page.

“Imagine the work environment in that post office for any employees that are other than white men,” one woman wrote.

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LITTLE SILVER: STUDENT FILM A PRIZEWINNER

‘Parallax Dreams,’ directed by and starring Red Bank Regional’s John Tuohy, seen below at the awards ceremony.

An enigmatic short film by a Red Bank Regional sophomore, shot in and around Red Bank, was a double prize winner at a student film festival last month.

John Tuohy, a 16-year-old rising junior from Little Silver took the top prize in the Big Dreams and Silver Screens Festival held in Rahway on June 3.

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RED BANK: LIBRARY MARKS PAST, EYES FUTURE

The heirs of manufacturer Sigmund Eisner donated his West Front Street mansion to the library, which opened there on April 15, 1937. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Continuing its comeback from a period of drastic retrenchment, the Red Bank Public Library plans a celebration of the borough’s past Saturday with the reopening of the Local History Room, which was put off-limits due to staff cuts three years ago.

The second-floor room’s return to part-time action is one piece of a daylong schedule of events to mark the institution’s 80th year in its home overlooking our beautiful Navesink River.

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LITTLE SILVER: A REAL FORUM ON FAKE NEWS

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

“(Is it) hoax, conspiracy, propaganda, or just a moneymaker for Macedonian teenagers?” asked Joseph Amditis (pictured), as he addressed some 250 students at  Red Bank Regional High School recently.

“The definition of fake news has been debated since the election. But that debate has mostly referred to one thing: the spread of inaccurate, misleading, otherwise invented articles passed on as real news.”

Amditis, the associate director for the Montclair State Center for Cooperative Media (affiliated with Montclair University), was invited by the Student Public Policy Group at RBR (partnering with the Network for Responsible Public Policy) to speak at the school, for an audience that included many of the students in the AP English and Journalism classes. During his presentation, Amditis gave the students some examples of fake news — that is, articles that are completely fabricated for the purpose of profit or political persuasion.

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