KEEPING IT REAL BY KEEPING IT LOCAL

And now, an important message from the home office. Literally.

Authentically Localredbankgreen has joined with some 30 hyperlocal news sites across America in an effort to remind readers and advertisers of the community-enhancing role that independent news sites play.

Dubbed Authentically Local and including sites from Seattle to Tucson to New Haven, the group’s aim is “to remind readers and advertisers of the value that local ownership and local perspective brings to coverage,” says redbankgreen publisher John T. Ward.

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ON THE WEB, RED BANK SITE IS A PRIZE

screen-shot-2011-04-27-at-1218Red Bank’s website won a Monmouth University award for “best interactive website.” (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

If you happen to be looking for old ordinances or minutes from the planning and zoning boards, your mouse may be in for a bit of a workout.

But as far as interaction goes, Red Bank’s municipal website is tops in the Monmouth County, according to Monmouth University.

In its first New Jersey e-Government Awards, the university’s polling institute and public policy program has deemed that of the 53 municipalities in Monmouth County, Red Bank takes the honor for having the best interactive website.

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MIDDLETOWN INVENTOR EYES THE FUTURE

Andrei Provini explains one of his hundreds of inventions: headlamp spectacles. (Video by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Christmastime at the Provini household in Middletown is full of tradition, one of them being the line of questioning Liz Provini delivers to her son, Andrei.

“Every single year, we can’t find the bolts for the (tree) stand because Andrei’s got them in one of his inventions,” she said.

Tucked away in a quiet neighborhood off Navesink River Road, Liz Provini’s home is as much, if not more, a laboratory for her 19-year-old son who, since the age of five, has tinkered with everything from bolts to strainers to stumbled-upon Volkswagens to create hundreds of inventions.

“He’s very creative,” she said. “His mind is going a million miles an hour. If he doesn’t have an invention in the works, he gets very frustrated.”

Provini, his mother said, was born to create. More specifically, he was born to change the world, he said, and doesn’t see himself settling for any less.

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A CLEAN SLATE FOR redbankgreen COMMENTS

hot-topic rightToday, redbankgreen introduces a new reader-comments system.

Prompted by a rising tide of everything from petty name-calling to outright libel, nearly all of it from anonymous commenters, we’ve flushed our archive of comments posted prior to December 2, when we temporarily halted postings.

We’ve also adopted a registration system in the expectation that it will bring a greater degree of accountability to the commentary. With that, we hope, will be more civil and constructive behavior than we saw in the months leading up to the change.

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TXT TEES = :)s 4 3 TWEENS

texties11Two young girls model shirts designed by three local kids. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI texties2

Sally Carden had a serious OMG moment Thursday night.

She was sitting at NovelTeas in Red Bank, coloring and munching cookies, surrounded by dozens of kids and adults wearing T-shirts that she and her two cousins had designed and were at that moment debuting.

It struck the Monmouth Beach nine-year-old that she was officially a small business owner.

“It feels really, like, cool, because it’s a business we started,” Sally said.

The business is Texties, a line of T-shirts that feature the shorthand language and emoticons used in text messages — things like ‘BRB‘ and a 21st century take on the classic smiley face.

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TIME FOR SOME FACEBOOK TIME

COMMENT8

Maybe we’re just in a wintry mood, with the furnace burning through the heating budget way earlier in the season than expected.

Or maybe it’s lingering remnants of the frustration that led us to impose radio silence on our comments forum last week.

But none of the comments posted between last Monday and late Thursday jumped out at us as particularly noteworthy. So we’re not spotlighting any this week.

Still, there’s some news about comments. As many readers know, redbankgreen has temporarily shut down its commenting function. For those who missed the announcement, go here.

Commenting will be back, though.

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COMMENTING FUNCTION HALTED

hot-topic rightredbankgreen has temporarily stopped allowing comments on its posts.

This action was taken because we don’t have the resources to adequately moderate multiple threads of around-the-clock commentary which often become, in our view and the view of many readers, abusive.

Coinciding with the biggest growth readership burst in the four-year history of the site was a rising tide of muck.

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CABLE SATIRIST FINDS A HOME IN RED BANK

stewart-houseHouse of Stewart: TV funnyman Jon Stewart, below, paid $3.8 million for this house on the Navesink, records indicate. (Click to enlarge)

jon-stewart

Take that, Rumson! Eat our shorts, Navesink section of Middletown!

Red Bank has finally bagged a true celebrity homeowner.

Jon Stewart, the political satirist who anchors the Daily Show on Comedy Central, bought a house fronting on the Navesink River here last December, according to property records.

And while he’s no Bruce Springsteen or Bon Jovi, the purchase instantly puts the rubbery-faced Stewart at the top of the heap in terms of star power in the borough, ahead of a couple of children’s book authors and butcher Ralph ‘Johnny Jazz‘ Gatta.

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RED BANK GOES TWEET, TWEET, TWEET

preston-twitterPreston Porter is the “social media chef” for Basil T’s and Undici restaurants. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Chicago may be a toddlin‘ town, but Red Bank is tweetin.’

A new study shows that the borough has one of the highest densities of Twitter users in New Jersey, coming in ninth overall among its towns and cities. According to the independent study, conducted by the communications and publications firm Jaffe Communications, Red Bank has 17.61 users per 1,000 people.

Twitter’s 140-character message limit fits a broad spectrum of users, and you can tell by a simple search who in town is taking advantage of it — store owners, professionals, bands, students. redbankgreen, for example, touts each new article under @redbankgreenman.

“It’s become part of the everyday language,” said Tom Sullivan, a web developer who lives in Middletown and works on Broad Street. Read More »

FAIR HAVEN WEBSITE GETTING MAKEOVER

fh-website-1Fair Haven’s website will get some upgrades. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Fair Haven’s virtual borough hall is getting a little makeover.

The changes won’t necessarily jump off the screen, but the town will soon roll out a more robust, redesigned website with some new features designed to make life easier for users.

Mayor Mike Halfacre says the updated site will be easier to navigate.

“We had a lot of people who couldn’t find things on our website that we know how to find because we’re always on the website,” he said.

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RUG MAN: HE’S LEAVING, BUT ALSO STAYING

12-broad4Get the message? But while the rug store is closing, its owner is putting down roots: he bought the building.

By WID CONROY

When a request by Nazmiyal Rug Decor for an extension on its going-out-of-business sale came up at last Monday night’s Red Bank Council meeting, the answer was unequivocal: No.

There was not one second’s worth of public discussion about the request, which would have permitted Nazmiyal to continue displaying its oversized signs in the window of its Broad Street store for another 90 days. But the message was clear. “You’re leaving? Go, already.”

“They got what they’re entitled to,” Mayor Pasquale Menna told redbankgreen afterward. He said other merchants had complained about the “subliminal message” of failure being trumpeted by the bold red-and-white signs.

“Most of our retailers are doing a very difficult job in a very difficult environment,” Menna said. “They don’t need that.”

So it may seem ironic that the store’s owner, while he’s throwing in the towel on his own business, is still a true believer in the downtown’s potential.

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JAM THAT BALLOT BOX, FOLKS

img_5270112309Sixth-grader Theodore Mitchell addresses the Red Bank mayor and council as classmate and photojournalist Tyriik Murad documents the event.

Stumping for votes like seasoned pols, a handful of students from Red Bank Middle School last night screened their latest video at the borough council’s bimonthly meeting Monday night.

The musical production, entitled “e-Instruction Is The Key,” is the school’s entry in the third annual e-Instruction Interactive Classroom Makeover Competition, which draws talent from all over the world to compete for instructional technology worth $30,000.

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RBMS HAS EYES ON NO.1 PRIZE

rbms-kids1

Red Bank Middle School students Sandra Paz, Teddy Mitchell and Josh Bruce talk to the media Thursday about their involvement in “eInstruction Is The Key,” a video they made for an international competition. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The Top 10 isn’t good enough for Red Bank Middle School anymore.

Over the last couple years, students have shown the nation they’ve got loads of talent with their rock operas and rap videos that have placed in the Top 10 in education contests. Their videos have won a nice amount of cash for the school district. But this year, the students are taking their talent international, and they have their eyes on a sweet technology makeover for the first place winner.

The middle school has entered its students’ video, “e-Instruction Is The Key,” into the third annual e-Instruction Interactive Classroom Makeover Competition, which draws talent from all over the world to compete for technology upgrades worth $30,000 at the winning school. After placing as finalists the last two years, the Red Bank’s faculty and students have high hopes and expectations for 2009.

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WHERE ARE ALL THE TWENTYSOMETHINGS?

colleen-curry3That’s a question asked about Red Bank in a provocative blog post by Colleen Curry, a lifelong borough resident and newly minted Villanova alum.

On her blog, Chef? Writer? Red Head, Curry — a former redbankgreen intern — challenges the endlessly recited mantra that Red Bank is a “hip” town, at least as it applies to her cohort.

She writes that except for the bar scene, there’s little evidence of twentysomethings participating in the cultural offerings around town.

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A PASSION FOR PIGSKIN, UPDATED DAILY

Kees1Kees Van Hemmen and the kitchen desktop from which he publishes his blog. Below, a post in progress. (Click to enlarge)

This just in, sports fans: One of the newest entries into the burgeoning sports media scene is the product of an 8-year-old Fair Haven boy.

Kees2NFL Freak, which debuted earlier this month, is the brainchild of Kees (rhymes with 'case') Van Hemmen, a Sickles School third-grader whose passion for the pro game has all but overtaken his life.

When he's not watching NFL news on cable or the web, he's usually playing a football video game or boning up on gridiron history through books.

Calculating how much time he can devote each day to football once he starts playing Pop Warner next season, Kees comes up with a figure close to 20 hours, neglecting to factor in time for sleep.

"I'm obsessed with it," he tells redbankgreen.

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LEDGER LIVE STORMS SEA BRIGHT BEACH

In the latest edition of Ledger Live, vodcaster Brian Donohue turns his lens on Sea Bright, which he nominates the "worst beach in New Jersey" because of access issues.

In an off-the-news take on the announcement yesterday by the New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium of the Top Ten beaches in the state (Ocean City came in first), Donohue asked tourism officials and scientists which was the state's worst beach.

They wouldn't play along, so Donohue came up with his own pick.

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ROCK THE BOX III: RBMS VIDEO SCORES

6a00d8341c2c4e53ef0115708a8129970b-800wi

They’ve done it again.

For the third time in three tries, the students at  Red Bank Middle School have written and performed in a video that’s made it to the finals in a national or international competition.

The first time, in 2007, a hastily-made rap video, “Use Ya Tech,” landed in the final five in a contest for $15,000 classroom equipment.

They repeated the feat in 2008 with “This Year.” Both times, though, they finished out of the money.

Now, out of a field of more than 1,400 entries, an RBMS film is among the top three in contention for a prize of up to fifty grand. And to beat out the competition — two high schools — the kids need lots of viewer votes.

You know what that means, folks: time to stuff the ballot box, pronto. Voting ends on Wednesday, May 20.

To see the movie, click here; ‘2048
is entry number one. In voting, remember that a rating of “3” is the
highest you can give for “technical quality” and “creativity.”

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NOW, FROM KNAB DER, IT’S LEDGER LIVE

 

Ledger Live host Brian Donohue again uses his hometown Red Bank as the backdrop for his daily vidpost, this one featuring him seated outside Zebu Forno as he riffs, bloggerlike, on the friction between GOP gubernatorial contenders Chris Christie and Steve Lonegan.

Among the issues: did Christie mock Lonegan's vision in an ad?
Not his political vision, his literal ability to see. Lonegan is legally blind.

Frankly, though, it's a debate we couldn't focus on, because we were distracted by another vision issue: why is the streetscape in reverse?

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FROM WEB TO W. FRONT & NOW, MONMOUTH

Dana ujobagyDana Ujobagy, owner of Paw Palace, plans to relocate her shop to Monmouth Street in June.

One of downtown Red Bank’s premier addresses is going to the dogs.

Dana Ujobagy (pronounced ‘you-ja-bayj’), owner of the Paw Palace luxury dog boutique on West Front Street, plans to move her shop and a year-old dog grooming business to 16 Monmouth Street, an ample space that most recently served as home to the Asher Neiman Gallery and, for 24 years before that, Charlotte Scherer‘s Art Forms gallery.

For Monmouth Street, the move represents a potential kick in the
tail after several high-profile tenant departures, including those of Asher Neiman, Red Bank News and Fameabilia. Throughout the business district, some 40 stores were vacant in a recent count by Red Bank RiverCenter.

But for Ujobagy, the move is the latest in a rapid-fire series of expansions in which the former office worker, with no experience in either the Internet or retailing, built a nationally recognized web retailer of dog goodies, bootstrapped it into a thriving bricks-and-mortar store, and last year added a grooming component.

“I’ve always had a vision of where I wanted to take the business,” the 35-year-old Union Beach resident tells redbankgreen.

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AFTER DETOUR, C3 WINS RED BANK WEB JOB

FH website c3Fair Haven residents can sign up for alerts about emergencies as well as ordinary community events, features that will also be incorporated into Red Bank’s website, officials say.

A North Jersey web design firm won approval Monday night to build an Internet site to replace Red Bank’s official government portal.

After a request for proposals drew only two vendor responses, the borough council last night awarded the gig to C3 Citizen Communication Center of Nutley, which has created similar sites for Fair Haven and Middletown, among other municipalities.

Red Bank’s new site, which officials said could be up and running in a matter
of weeks, will replace the existing site while adding new features, says Councilwoman Kathleen Horgan, who led the vendor search.

“We don’t want to keep our old site,” she says. “That’s the whole problem.”

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BOATING OUTLOOK: SEMI-BOUYANT

Video documentarian Bill Day is back with another short, this time focusing on the impact of the recession on boaters and the vendors who depend on them in Red Bank.

Among the locals interviewed are John Matteo and Chann Irwin of Irwin Marine, which is hosting a boat show this weekend.

Day, a borough resident, also shot the video we ran back in early March about an appearance at a Middletown liquor store by John 'Cha Cha' Ciarcia, an actor from 'The Sopranos.'

You can see more of Day's work at his YouTube channel.

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