RED BANK: TOAST RISKS HEAT OVER CARD FEES

amy russo harrigan 102715Amy Russo Harrigan, owner of Toast in Red Bank and two other locations, is now imposing a 2.5-percent surcharge on customer bills paid with credit or debit cards, the Asbury Park Press reports.

Harrigan “knows she risks irritating customers; she has the social media posts to prove it,” writes reporter Michael Diamond. “But she said the [card processing] fees prevent her from hiring and offering raises to her staff, so she’s trying to figure out a way to share the burden without raising prices.” (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

 

RBR’S GIGLIO NAMED APP COACH OF THE YEAR

Del Dal Pra Nick GiglioRed Bank Regional head football coach Nick Giglio (right, with RBR athletic director Del Dal Pra) has been named Coach of the Year by the Asbury Park Press.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

First he was named Football Coach of the Year. Then, Coach of the Season. Most recently, Red Bank Regional High School’s football head coach Nick Giglio was honored as Coach of the Year, among all area Shore Conference high school sports teams, by the Asbury Park Press.

In a development that he called “a total surprise and a total honor,” Giglio was formally presented with the award on June 13 by Giants football legend Eli Manning, during the annual Jersey Shore Sports Banquet.

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RED BANK: MENNA WANTS OUT OF REVAL

menna 010114Mayor Pasquale Menna called the Press findings “disturbing” and “somewhat surreal.” (File photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD
HOT-TOPIC_02

The Red Bank council took steps to put the borough’s switch to a new property assessment method on hold Wednesday night, two days after an Asbury Park Press investigation found questionable dealings in the Monmouth County program.

Mayor Pasquale Menna told a small audience at borough hall that the Press article raised “troubling” questions about “unholy alliances” at the county level in the creation of the Assessment Demonstration Program.

At the same time, the program “removes a lot of protections” for taxpayers who want to challenge their assessments, Menna said.

“It’s very disturbing,” Menna said at a council hearing, adding later in an interview with redbankgreen that the tangle of relationships uncovered by the Press was “somewhat surreal.”

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RUMSON: NOT ALONE, NOT AFRAID

Fraidy_ReissPress release from Congregation B’Nai Israel

Fraidy Reiss was 19 years old when her family arranged for her to marry a man who turned out to be abusive. For the next 12 years, with no education and no job and a family that refused to help her, Reiss had nowhere to turn. Defying her husband and relatives she applied to and then graduated from Rutgers University, at age 32. With a degree in journalism, Reiss was hired as a reporter for the Asbury Park Press, eventually getting promoted to the paper’s elite investigative-reporting team and going on to have a career as a private investigator. With a job, money and confidence, Reiss was able to get divorced, win custody of her children and get a restraining order against her ex-husband.

On Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 10 am, Congregation B’Nai Israel (CBI) in Rumson is pleased to announce that Reiss will speak at a Breakfast Event sponsored by CBI Adult Education and Ezra committees, as well as Red Bank Hadassah. Reiss will not only speak about her inspiring personal journey but also about the organization she founded, Unchained At Last, the only non-profit in the United States that provides free legal and social services to help women of all religions leave arranged and forced marriages.

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LITTLE SILVER MAYOR CASTLEMAN DIES

castlemanLittle Silver Mayor Suzanne Castleman passed away Friday at 76. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Suzanne Castleman, Little Silver’s mayor and a lifelong resident of the borough, passed away at her home Friday night.

Known widely in town as “Mayor Suzie,” Castleman had been ill since the death of her husband in May, said Linda Goff, a friend of the family.

Her death came less than a week before her 77th birthday.

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MIDDLETOWN COP ALLEGES RACIAL BIAS

mtown-police-badge1By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A veteran Middletown police officer has filed a lawsuit against the department claiming racial discrimination at work and is calling for removal of the chief of police and another township officer.

The complaint, filed in state Superior Court in Freehold last month by an attorney for Patrolman Darrin Simon, an African-American originally from Trinidad, says Simon was subject to “egregious discriminatory misconduct,” and cited instances of receiving racial slurs and being called “boy” and “coon.”

Simon, who was made a full-time officer in 1997, names Police Chief Robert Oches and range master James Griffin. Simon’s attorney, Clifford Van Syoc, said Oches and Griffin are related and that Oches may have tried to cover up Griffin’s actions.

This is the second time Simon has alleged bias incidents in 2009. The first suit was not filed, township Attorney Brian Nelson told the Asbury Park Press.

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LITTLE SILVER MAYOR’S HUSBAND DIES

d-castleman1A sign outside Little Silver Borough Hall recognizes the death of Donald Castleman, husband of Mayor Suzanne Castleman. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Donald Castleman, the husband of Little Silver Mayor Suzanne Castleman, passed away at his home Tuesday, according to an obituary in the Asbury Park Press.

The cause of his death was not reported in the obituary.

At 82 years old, Castleman’s death came just two months before the couple would have celebrated their 55th anniversary.

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PARKS AND REC JOBS LOST; TOP COPS SPARED

hot-topic rightBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

In a last-minute deal Friday, one of the Middletown’s two police unions came to an agreement that will save four department jobs, while the other got an extension through the weekend to decide whether to accept a deal to preserve six positions.

Meanwhile, a handful of parks and recreation employees retired and nine others were laid off after their bargaining unit failed to strike an agreement with the township, said Mayor Tony Fiore.

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SHREWSBURY POLICE OFFICER DIES AT 58

sbury-crepeShrewsbury Borough Hall has funeral bunting displayed in various locations after the loss of veteran officer Alan Morris. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Sergeant Allan Morris, a 25-year veteran of the Shrewsbury Police Department who was transitioning into retirement, passed away suddenly Friday.

The cause is suspected to be of natural conditions, Council President and Police Commissioner Thomas Menapace said. Morris, a sergeant in the department, was 58.

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MATER DEI DEAN CHARGED IN SEXUAL ASSAULT

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Mater Dei High School‘s former dean of students was arrested by Middletown police Tuesday on sexual assault charges.

Police say William Miltner, who worked at the school for four years and was promoted to the dean’s post last year, sexually assaulted a student in 2009.

Twenty-eight-year-old Miltner, of Middletown, was charged with second-degree aggravated sexual assault and fourth-degree aggravated sexual contact.

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‘CANDIDA’ REVIEWS: A FRESH LOOK AT SHAW

cremin-diasSue Cremin, who has the title role in ‘Candida,’ with TRTC artistic director John Dias after Saturday’s opening-night show. Below, former ‘Cosby Show‘ star Geoffrey Owens, right, returned to the TRTC, where he starred in ‘Opus‘ earlier this season, and ran into former ‘Frazier‘ star David Hyde Pierce. (Click to enlarge)

hyde-pierce-geoffrey-owensEarly reviews of the Two River Theater Company‘s new production of George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Candida‘ find it a fresh take on a play that made its debut in 1898.

Star-Ledger theater critic Peter Filichia says the Red Bank production nears its conclusion with a moment of suspense, something not usually associated with the play’s author.

And Asbury Park Press reviewer Tom Chesek (who also writes for redbankgreen) says director David Staller “has revealed a play that’s actually contemporary at heart.”

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BRAVOS FOR ‘OPUS’ AT TWO RIVER THEATER

anjanette-hall Anjanette Hall, who plays the wide-eyed new member of a string quartet, at the opening-night reception at the Two River Theater on Saturday. Former ‘Cosby Show’ star Geoffrey Owens, below, plays the cellist. (Click to enlarge)

geoffrey-owens

Opus,’ a piquant drama about a fractious string quartet that’s commanding the mainstage at Red Bank’s Two River Theater Company through November 14, is getting some positive ink.

In the Star-Ledger, theater critic Peter Filicihia calls Michael Hollinger‘s play, which focuses on the effect that a shattered romantic relationship has on the quartet, “bittersweet but delicious.”

“Director Matthew Arbour has orchestrated the 90-minute show with loving care,” Filichia writes.

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M’TOWN MAN CHARGED IN EXPLOSION

mtown-explosionThe home at 56 Twin Brooks Ave., where three people were injured in an explosion Tuesday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to include information from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Middletown police.]

A Middletown man has been charged in connection with an explosion at his Twin Brooks Avenue home that injured two members of the State Police, the Asbury Park Press reports.

Frank Szmaja, 64, was charged with one count of third-degree possession of a destructive device, one count of second-degree causing or risking widespread injury or damage, plus the disorderly persons offenses of persons possessing explosives or destructive devices to notify police, maintaining a nuisance and violation of a law intended to protect public health and safety, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office said in a release.

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OUTAGE CAUSES TRAFFIC, CLOSURES, BEER

outage-trafficA Fair Haven police officer directed traffic Monday afternoon at a light at the Fair Haven-Little Silver border. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A malfunction at a Tinton Falls substation is believed to be the cause of yesterday’s countywide power outage, according to the Asbury Park Press.

Locally, power started being restored within 75 minutes of the outage, but many homes and businesses also went for hours more in the dark, forcing some closures and snarling traffic on the area’s main roads.

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M’TOWN WOMAN GETS ANIMAL ABUSE CHARGES

call-in-the-authoritiesBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A woman from the Navesink section of Middletown was charged with animal abuse today, after allegedly dragging her dog down a street with her car, according to the Asbury Park Press.

Stephanie Sciscione, of Locust Avenue, told authorities that her terrier was too dirty to put in her car, so instead dragged the dog, Marlin, by its leash and down her street yesterday afternoon, the Press reports.

She was charged with two counts of animal abuse this morning,  Monmouth County SPCA Chief Law Enforcement Officer Buddy Amato told the Press.

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GANNETT PAPERS LAY OFF 125 MORE

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In the latest of a series of staff-shrinking moves, the parent company of the Asbury Park Press has laid off 125 employees at its six New Jersey newspapers.

Virginia-based Gannett Co., the media giant whose flagship is USA Today, did not detail how many workers from each of the satellites were let go beginning late Wednesday and continuing yesterday.

There’s no word yet about the impact on Red Bank-area coverage. The Press, which in decades past had fully-staffed news bureaus in Red Bank and, later, Middletown, has a single reporter, Larry Higgs, who divides his time covering Red Bank, Fair Haven and state transportation isssues.

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