sb st bernard 1 032614Americorps volunteers painting the framework of Desiree Pierce’s home Wednesday to encapsulate any lingering mold. Below, Pierce and daughter, Gigi Burke, have been displaced from their home since Hurricane Sandy. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


sb gigi desiree 032614People who’ve never been through something like Hurricane Sandy don’t understand, says Gigi Burke.

“They don’t understand losing everything,” the 23-year-old Sea Bright resident said. “And then, they don’t understand the process and steps it takes to get back into your home.”

In the 500-plus days since Burke, her two siblings and their mother lost use of their New Street home to the surging Shrewsbury River and Atlantic Ocean, she’s heard “the question” from people who’ve temporarily put her up more than once.

“It was basically, ‘when are you leaving?’ but in a nice way,” she said Wednesday, amid of a flurry of rebuilding activity finally getting underway at her home.

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jay campbell 032014Jay Campbell, center, chats with MONOC paramedics Mike Welsh, left, and Marcelo Aguirre during his visit to the Fair Haven First Aid Squad Thursday night. Below, Campbell poses with his family and the emergency responders who teamed up to save him from cardiac arrest earlier this year.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


jay campbell 032014 2The bug had been making its way through the Campbell residence in Fair Haven when Jay Campbell told his wife he wasn’t feeling well and was heading to bed early that Sunday evening in January.

So a short time later, when Leslie Campbell heard a gurgling sound, she raced to grab the pail she’d used to get her son through the illness. But the instant she reached the bedroom and saw her husband lying with his mouth agape and his eyes rolled upward, she knew something far more terrible than the flu had gotten hold of him.

Minutes later, 59-year-old Jay Campbell was, by the metrics of medicine, dead. But two young cops – responding to an “open-line” call in which the 911 dispatcher could only hear the sound of a woman shouting the name ‘Jay’ – began what became a rapid-response team effort to bring him back to life.

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rb fire 031614Volunteer firefighters on the scene of a yard fire at 62 Washington Street in Red Bank Sunday night. Fire Chief Tommy Welsh tells redbankgreen the fire, reported at around 7:30 p.m., burned a wooden fence, apparently after a discarded cigarette ignited some leaves on the ground. The fire was quickly knocked down, with no damage to the house, Welsh said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


gretchen rellGretchen Rell in a 2011 photo on her Facebook page. She described the bird she’s holding as a survivor of a pigeon shoot. (Click to enlarge)

HOT-TOPIC_03A volunteer animal rescuer is expected to face animal cruelty charges after authorities found numerous dead birds in a Little Silver home she shared with her parents, reports.

Gretchen Rell, 54, a Mitchell Place resident who also has a home in Ocean Township, will be charged with failure to provide proper care to animals, Monmouth County SPCA Chief Law Enforcement Officer Victor “Buddy” Amato told

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sb elevations 4 060513Sea Bright homes being elevated last June. Officials estimate 80 percent of the town’s homes are still vacant. Below, Chris Wood, flanked by Pete Forlenza and Zack Rosenburg, addresses a gathering in Rumson Tuesday night. (Click to enlarge)


sb rising 022514Sixteen months after the churning Atlantic Ocean and the Shrewsbury River met on Sea Bright’s streets in the fury of a hurricane, the borough is still something of a ghost town, said Chris Wood.

Yes, the business district has seen a welcome comeback. “But 80 percent of the homes on the side streets of Sea Bright are still vacant,” said Wood, a co-founder of Sea Bright Rising, a nonprofit that has raised and distributed close to $1.3 million in donated funds to some 300 families and 17 businesses in town since Hurricane Sandy hit.

Now, though, Sea Bright Rising is partnering with another nonprofit born in the aftermath of a hurricane, with the goal of rebuilding as many as 100 homes in Sea Bright, Rumson and Highlands – at no charge to those homeowners.

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mtown fire map 021714Two residential fires less than 24 hours apart kept Middletown volunteer firefighters busy over the weekend. (Click to enlarge)

A pair of house fires in Middletown and a hit-and-run accident of a pedestrian in Sea Bright occurred over the weekend, according to news reports.

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For the past two decades, taxpayers seeking help with their income tax returns have found help at the Monmouth County Library. Beginning Tuesday, February 4, volunteers from the AARP Tax Aide program will offer free tax preparation assistance at all County Library branches, including the Eastern Branch on Broad Street (Route 35) in Shrewsbury.

This service, which is also offered at the County Library locations in Manalapan and Wall, is available for low-and middle-income taxpayers with simple returns, through the tax filing deadline date of April 15.

Hours for tax prep assistance services in the months of February and April are Mondays 9:30 am to 7:30 pm, Tuesdays 9:30 am to 1 pm; Wednesdays 1 pm to 7:30 pm; Thursdays 9:30 am to 1 pm; Fridays 9:30 am to  pm; Saturdays 9:30 am to 3:30 pm, and Sundays 1 pm to 3:30 pm.

Hours in March are Mondays 9:30 am to 7:30 pm, Wednesdays 1 pm to 7:30 pm; Thursdays 9:30 am to 5 pm; Saturdays 9:30 am to 3:30 pm, and Sundays 1 pm to 3:30 pm.


Press release from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School

RFH womenSpreading awareness of issues affecting women around the globe and making a difference in their lives is the mission of Global Women Empowerment, a new club at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School.

Three women in developing countries have already benefitted from activities organized by the club, which was founded by RFH juniors Hope Haywood and Alexandra Siwulec, along with Advisor and RFH Social Studies teacher Christie Ferraris.

Their kickoff fundraiser, a screening of the film Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity, raised $149. The funds were loaned to two female entrepreneurs in developing countries through KIVA, a non-profit organization with a mission to connect individuals through lending in order to alleviate poverty.

Recently the club raised $1,054 by selling bracelets with the message “Education is Empowerment.” These funds were used to allow Daisy, a teenager living in Uganda, to attend high school for one year.

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Class 100-TylerEvan D. Tyler of the Shrewsbury Hose Company (third from left) was the recipient of the Class 100 Ronald Fitzpatrick Award, at the Monmouth County Fire Academy’s graduation ceremony on January 14. Congratulating him are County Freeholders John P. Curley, Lillian G. Burry, and Serena DiMaso.

Press release from Monmouth County Fire Academy

Evan D. Tyler of the Shrewsbury Hose Company was the recipient of an annual award, as the Monmouth County Fire Academy graduated 42 firefighters from the Firefighter I program last week. Graduates were divided into two classes, with Class 100 graduating on January 14 and Class 101 graduating on January 15. Both ceremonies were held at the Fire Academy on Route 33 in Freehold.

Tyler was one of two graduates to earn the Ronald Fitzpatrick Award, given to one member of each graduating class, and named in honor of a Fire Academy instructor who died in 2003. Timothy J. Smigelsky of Howell’s Ramtown Fire Company was the award recipient for Class 101.

Monmouth County Fire Marshal Henry Stryker III congratulated the graduates and urged them to continue their training with advanced courses offered at the Fire Academy.

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20140114_154000What happened to the snow? Must be the work of Snow Angels — such as Knollwood seventh-grader Emma DeSantis, who recently assisted Nancy Drake with snow removal as part of Fair Haven’s “Be A Good Neighbor” program.

Press release from Fair Haven School District

Traditional snow angels are created when exuberant youths jump into freshly fallen snow and leave behind the image of a heavenly creature.

Snow angels of a different kind abound in Fair Haven, and these real-life angels are also found after a snowfall. The snow angels of Fair Haven, however, are students wielding shovels.

Over 70 students at Knollwood School in Fair Haven are currently enrolled in the Be A Good Neighbor (BAGN) Program, which was initiated eight years ago by then-Mayor Joe Szostak to assist senior citizens with snow removal.

Thanks to community volunteers who currently administer the program, and the help of students in sixth through eighth grade, the sight of falling snow no longer creates anxiety on the part of local participating seniors. The program also eases worry for the seniors’ grown children, who often live too far away to assist them after a snowfall.

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Christine Zilinski of Salon Concrete styles the hair of Maritza Soler of Port Monmouth, in a file photo from 2012.

From press materials furnished by J Jems Communications

When the Jersey Shore was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, Salon Concrete owner Christine Zilinski stepped up to create a grass-roots relief effort — one that, as it turned out, showed its roots far beyond the greater Green.

As reported here on redbankgreen, the “Scissors for Sandy” endeavor drew together the tonsorial talents of dozens of hair styling professionals — all of them contacts of Zilinski’s, through her nationwide work as an in-demand trainer in styling trends and techniques — for a fundraising event that led to the creation of the “Concrete Cares” campaign.

Now she is harnessing the power of the beauty industry once again, for a community much farther from home — Taclocan, Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan created massive destruction there, affecting 11 million people and wiping out 1.1 million homes.

In response, Zilinski and the Salon Concrete team created “Hairdressers for Haiyan,” a special event dedicated to raising funds to send a team of people to Taclocan.  The event will be held at the Broad Street salon on Sunday, January 19 between the hours of 10 am to 7 pm. Guests will be asked to donate $50 for a haircut and style — and one hundred percent of the proceeds will go directly to the nonprofit Hometown Heroes, to defray the cost of a six-person team traveling to Tacloban to aid in the recovery efforts.

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scout pic 592For his Eagle Scout project, RBR senior and Shrewsbury resident Matthew Kowalski designed and supervised the construction of this storage shed for the Shrewsbury Community Garden.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

The Shrewsbury Community Garden was established a year ago by dedicated volunteers to beautify their community. The gardeners would bring all their own equipment tools to work the gardens; some would get lost or rust outside.  Now, thanks to a volunteer project coordinated and supervised by Red Bank Regional student Matthew Kowalski for his Eagle Scout Rank, the volunteers have a new shed to house their equipment.

Matt planned the project for nine months, meeting with the Garden Committee for their input on the design and materials.  After school, Matt and his fellow Troop 50 volunteer scouts and adult leaders constructed the shed in one month’s time. He also relied on his scout advisor and an assistant scoutmaster with construction experience for guidance.


Mayor Bob Neff delivers his state-of-the-borough remarks in verse, above. Below, Pete Giblin is sworn as fire chief as his wife, Liz, who heads the EMS, holds the Bible. (Photo and video by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge photo.)


LSFD 010614 2It’s unlikely to make it into the Norton Anthology of Poetry, unless there’s a municipal edition.

But Little Silver Mayor Bob Neff’s versified annual reflection on the year just ended manages to inject a touch of cornball mirth and meter into the town’s government reorganization ceremony, as it did Monday night.

Another homey touch: for the first time in the borough’s history, the volunteer fire department and first aid squads are headed, simultaneously, by a husband and wife.

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rumson fire 122513 2A firefighter battling the blaze next to the chimney on Christmas Day. (Photos from Sea Bright Fire Rescue Facebook page. Click to enlarge)

Rumson fire 122513 1Fire damaged a Rumson home and sent two volunteer firefighters to the hospital Christmas Day.

Rumson fire Chief Jymm Fenn tells redbankgreen that the fire, at 7 Briarwood Drive, caused by faulty wiring, results in significant damage to the two-story structure.

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LunchbreakRed Bank Regional students delivered dozens of home-made cookies to Lunch Break to sweeten their holiday meals. Pictured (left to right) are: RBR culinary club students Paolo Repetto, Union Beach; Brady Kirman, Sydney Kutzin, Little Silver; and Derrick Bradley, Shrewsbury. Joining them for the photo are Lunchbreak chef Tyrone Burr, volunteer Kina Mwanza and RBR Culinary teacher and Chef Pete Roskowinski.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

Last year, the Red Bank Regional School Community as most of the shore area, was totally immersed in helping its own members have a bit of a happy holiday season while they weathered the destructive consequences of Superstorm Sandy. This year, the generosity for their struggling neighbors continues with an outreach to many other charities.

RBR continues to help its own by reprising the Holiday Giving Tree, which was originally established last year to benefit RBR’s families most affected by Sandy.  This year it helps all RBR families that could most benefit from the community’s generosity for the holidays. Patrons pick a hand-made ornament on the tree which designates a gift card that families have indicated they could most use.  The tree was a collaborative effort by the RBR Guidance Department, Media Center, The Source and Administration.

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Truck committee chairman Mike Welsh backs the new truck into its home on Mechanic Street Thursday. (Video by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


HOT-TOPIC_01Red Bank’s new million-dollar firetruck has arrived.

Borough residents are beginning to see the truck on training runs as volunteer firefighters take it out to get familiar with its high-tech gadgetry and assure themselves that it can navigate all the town’s streets.

“It’s awesome. very maneuverable,” said firefighter Mike Welsh, who headed the committee that selected the truck’s features. He’d just returned from a spin that included narrow, curving Caro Court and Hubbard Park, “and it handled them no problem,” he said.

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jbj-soul-kitchen-101911-500x375Jon Bon Jovi’s JBJ Soul Kitchen is the site of a local initiative in the YMCA New Jersey Youth and Government Day of Service program, on Saturday, December 14.

From press materials furnished by YMCA New Jersey

For years, the YMCA New Jersey Youth and Government program has existed as a vehicle for promoting teen leadership and civil responsibility, through such experiences as mock legislative and court sessions, as well as exercises in which teens role-play as members of the press or lobby firms.

Last year, the program directors started a new initiative known as the Youth and Government Day of Service, in which volunteer “delegates” visit and assist local soup kitchen and food bank operations throughout the Garden State. As 2013 enters its final weeks, the Y teens make their first trip to Red Bank — with the Day of Service site designated as JBJ Soul Kitchen.

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tommy welsh 120313Tommy Welsh arrives at the Westside Hose Company following his election as Red Bank fire chief last week. Below, the borough-owned Liberty Hose firehouse is in the process of being vacated because it needs upgrades the town cannot afford. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


liberty hose 120513 2A new, million-dollar ladder truck, firehouse consolidation and pervasive manpowwer issues are on the table as Red Bank’s next fire chief takes the helm on January 1.

For chief-elect Tommy Welsh, it’s the second time around as head of of the all-volunteer department, having served as chief in 1996. This time, however, the department is on the apron to some of its biggest changes in a generation.

“We’re in the middle of some history here,” he told redbankgreen at a party to celebrate his election last week.

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rb snow 121013 1Main roads on the Green were clear at midday Tuesday, as seen here looking east along Harding Road from Tower Hill in Red Bank.

Forecasters, meanwhile, seemed in a scramble for clarity on how bad the storm would be. The National Weather Service has upped its estimated accumulation total to 2 to 4 inches – from 1 to 3 inches earlier today. The Weather Underground, meanwhile, has gone in the other direction, changing its forecast to 1 to 3 inches, from 3 to 5 earlier in the day. The Weather Channel has backed down to 1 to 3, from 2 to 4, and Facebook fave Bob ‘Weatherman’ Burger has eased back to 2 to 4 inches in our region, from 3 to 6. All agree it should be over by Tuesday evening, when temps are expected to drop into the 20s. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


NSHSS Induction with Claus NobelRBR junior and VPA student Morgan Brunson, Tinton Falls, was recently inducted into the prestigious National Society of High School Scholars. She is pictured above with the organization’s founder and Chairman, Claus Nobel.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

Red Bank Regional (RBR) Visual & Performing Arts’ (VPA) major Morgan Brunson of Tinton Falls is a young Renaissance woman.  She sings, dances, plays the flute, paints and takes challenging academic courses while maintaining honor roll.

No doubt these gifts, her extracurricular activities and community service earned her a rare invitation to join an elite group of students known as the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS).  She was recently inducted into the organization by its founder and Chairman, Claus Nobel, who sought to continue his famous family’s legacy of recognizing and rewarding outstanding achievement and inspiring the world’s youth.

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squad9The all-volunteer Fair Haven First Aid squad, members of which are pictured here performing an emergency procedure drill, has put out the call for men and women to join the ranks of the community first responders.

According to an alert circulated recently by the Fair Haven First Aid Squad, Getting an ambulance crew together during weekdays especially has gotten tough. Several of our members have retired and moved away; others have taken jobs outside of town.

The all-volunteer organization, a satellite unit of the Fair Haven Fire Company, is in particular need of “daytime members” — and it’s looking for men and women, 18 years of age or older, to join a crew that “respond(s) to roughly 500 calls each year, as well as supporting community events like Fair Haven Day and Harvest Fest.”

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The YMCA New Jersey Youth and Government Program will be sponsoring statewide service opportunities for high school students on December 14, 2013. Participants will be given the chance to volunteer their time and resources to soup kitchens, food banks, and hospitals across the state of New Jersey. This “Day of Service” will aim to empower youth and enable them to make a difference in their communities by aiding others.

This will be the youth leadership program’s third “Day of Service,” coordinated by the student leaders of the program. Previous participants have been from towns, high schools and YMCAs throughout the state. Collectively, over 200 teenagers have participated in the two prior “Days of Service.” Their contributions to their communities through this avenue has promoted and assisted over 15 separate soup kitchens and food banks.

To register or learn more about the opportunity, the interested public can email Program Director Michael Gallagher at, and keep themselves updated on the program’s Facebook page:


meg porter 2 111113Megan Porter at her Shrewsbury home earlier this month. Her husband, Cole, below, on the morning of his fatal accident. (Click to enlarge)


cole porter 091513He was going to win this one, his widow says.

Six years into a personal gut job, Cole Porter had transformed himself from a heavy-smoking, overweight electrician and handyman into… well, as his wife, Megan, put it, in a comically theatrical voice, “Cole Porter, you are ironman!

Ironman as in triathlete: swimmer, biker, runner. He’d gone all-in, and with such infectious energy that she followed his lead, as their two young daughters later did, too. It was something they all did together now. Even Faye, at age 10, had already completed an adult sprint tri.

At age 38, though, Porter had decided he would focus on cycling for the coming year. And onlookers that sunny September morning in Fair Haven should not have been fooled by all his laughing and chatting at the starting line – so much in fact that a race official asked him, please, sir, can we have your attention? That was just Porter being his irrepressible self. Inside, he carried a determination to win.

And, as if right on script, as the pack of whirring racers completed the first lap of the first race, Porter was in the lead when he spotted his three “girls” standing on the sidewalk.

Megan raised her camera and snapped a photo as he approached. He was smiling that smile that had captivated her from the day they met.

Seconds later, there was a crash.

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Sky SSOA Award 007From press materials furnished by Rumson-Fair Haven Regional HS

The Shore Soccer Officials Association announced that Rumson-Fair Haven Regional HS senior Schuyler DeBree (pictured) has been selected as the 2013 recipient of the John Cobb Girls Senior Excellence Award.

Presented each year since 1993 to one female and one male soccer player from Monmouth County, the awards are based on nominations from the honorees’ coaches, and are bestowed upon students who are “proven to embody the finest qualities of a scholar/athlete including demonstrated sportsmanship, playing ability, and scholastic achievement.”

Schuyler received the award plaque at a ceremony held on Thursday, November 14 at Hemingway’s Cafe in Seaside Heights.

RFH Girls Soccer Coach and Physical Education Instructor Mary Beth Coleman, who nominated Schuyler for the award, lauded her leadership qualities and commitment to community service.

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It was nippy outside Sunday evening, but at Red Bank’s Red lounge, it was a place to Go Naked. Dozens came out to the third annual Go Naked and Check Yourself fundraiser and (ahem) educational event held to raise awareness about skin cancer, breast cancer, testicular cancer and other detectable ailments. Once again, Red Bank’s Sugarush cupcakes and Sweetest Sin lingerie shops put the bounce in the event, which had previously raised more than $20,000 for health-related charities. (Photos by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge)