INTRODUCING: CLASS ACT

CLASS-ACT_MIDDLETOWNToday, redbankgreen introduces a new occasional feature called Class Act.

Class Act reports news about local young people who’ve moved on to college and beyond to continue their education. We’ll be grouping them by town of residence and posting periodically. The first one is about Middletown residents who recently graduated from college, and one who’s still there, doing some esoteric research.

The feature is one of several new ones we’ll be rolling out on our all-new All Good page, which is dedicated to “news from a brighter future,” with special emphasis on the achievements and good works of kids, volunteers, charitable organizations and others who embody the spirit of a better world for all of us.

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SEA BRIGHT MAN CHARGED IN SANDY FRAUD

By JOHN T. WARD

A Sea Bright man was arrested Wednesday and charged with ripping off the Federal Emergency Management Administration by racking up hotel charges he didn’t deserve, authorities announced.

Bill Nagle, 51, of Center Street, was charged with defrauding FEMA of more than $12,000 under a Transitional Shelter Assistance program, according to a press release by Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni.

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SEA BRIGHT: FUN RUN AIDS A HURTING TOWN

Runners charging through Sea Bright, above, and gathered for an postrace party, below. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Hurricane-ravaged Sea Bright got a breath of life Saturday morning, when the scarcely occupied downtown area played host to hundreds of runners and onlookers taking part in the Keith D. Mcheffey Memorial Fun Run.

Ocean Avenue served as the track, while Woody’s Ocean Grille sponsored an expansive food and beer tent to keep the celebration going long after even the slowest runner crossed the finish line.

It was all in an effort to pick up the pieces in the rebuilding town – and to celebrate one man’s cherished but tragically short life.

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CHARITIES GET BOUNCE FROM PUB CRAWL

A cold rain didn’t throw a damper on Red Bank RiverCenter‘s first-ever Bar Bounce, held Saturday afternoon at 12 borough taverns, including Taste, above, and Jamian’s, at right. The event drew 440 participants and raised $11,589, to be divided among three charities created to help victims of Hurricane Sandy, officials said. Photographer Peter Lindner was there for redbankgreen. See more of his photos on our Flickr page. (Photos by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: BAR BOUNCE BOUNCES INTO TOWN

The Dublin House Pub is one of a dozen Red Bank stops on Saturday’s crawl for post-Sandy charities. (Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

With a cold, drab and possibly wet February weekend in the forecast, isn’t time to break out the beach wear?

It is, say the folks at Red Bank RiverCenter, organizers of Saturday’s Red Bank Bar Bounce, a pub crawl that encourages patrons to wear their favorite beach duds as part of a fundraiser for three charities helping to rebuild Hurricane Sandy-shattered Shore towns.

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SEA BRIGHT TO MUSTER SPRING BREAK MUSCLE

By DAN NATALE

Forget the wet tee-shirt contests and beer-soaked bacchanals of spring break in Florida. Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long has another offer for college students:

Come to the real Jersey Shore to get your hands dirty and your shirt soaked in your own sweat, for a good cause.

Frustrated by Congressional foot-dragging on post-Hurricane Sandy funding, and looking at the prospect of another six months before the town sees a dime of the $60 billion package lawmakers finalized this week, Long said it’s up to the town to rebuild itself. And to do so, she hopes to tap into the good will of people who are aching to help and don’t mind smacking their own thumbs on occasion with a hammer.

“We’re trying organize a volunteer effort that mirrors what happened here two months ago, when thousands of volunteers organized to clean out” storm-wracked homes and stores, Long told a packed town hall meeting Wednesday night. “We want to bring in groups of skilled volunteers that will hang Sheetrock, do subflooring, and do light carpentry.”

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SEA BRIGHT RISING, ONE GIFT CARD AT A TIME

Ilene Winters and Chris Wood reviewing requests for help from Sea Bright Rising in Wood’s office Thursday. Below, a mudline shows the height of the water that inundated homes and businesses in town during Hurricane Sandy. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Nearly 70 days after Hurricane Sandy washed the Atlantic Ocean into his Sea Bright restaurant, Woody’s Ocean Grille owner Chris Wood hunkered down with Ilene Winters in his loft office, sifting through aid requests from residents whose homes were flooded or destroyed in the storm.

The two executives of Sea Bright Rising were prioritizing applications for help with repair and replacement expenses from their neighbors as part of an effort to dole out nearly $500,000 in donations collected in the aftermath of the October 29 storm.

“We need two things from those reaching out to us: specificity and priority,” Wood said. “We don’t give out direct personal checks, cash or Visa cards, but we are more than happy to write checks to contractors, landlords or electricians for a portion –usually around 25 percent, of their bill, for example. We can’t write a check for ‘help’.”

Among the charitable organizations that arose in the wake of Sandy, the one Sea Bright residents have been able to lean on perhaps more than any other is a home-grown effort dedicated to the town’s return from the wreckage.

In terms of community outreach, involvement, and most importantly, results, it’s doing the job, its founders say. And in a period in which many Sandy-related charities are losing steam, Wood and Winters insist theirs is just getting started.

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WARNING: DON’T GIVE TO ‘DUTCHESS’ OF JAZZ

Shoppers at this weekend’s Red Bank Sidewalk Sale have reported getting hit up for donations by a woman misrepresenting herself. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Officials are warning Red Bank shoppers and merchants not to fall for a pitch from a woman who claims to be soliciting funds for a local music foundation.

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FOOD FOR… SPORTS GEAR AND FIELD LIGHTS

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Upcoming: Thursday, August 16

Red Bank Flavour, a culinary campaign driven by the borough’s restaurants and food stores, presents “A Night on the Navesink: A Flavour Summer Soiree” at the Molly Pitcher Inn on Thursday, August 16.

Held at Red Bank’s newly renovated riverfront hotel, the evening, co-sponsored by hotel owner J.P. Barry Hospitality, will offer guests culinary samplings from more than 20 borough eateries, as well as wine samplings, libations and craft beer selections from New Jersey breweries.

A portion of proceeds from “A Night on the Navesink” will benefit Lunch Break and the Red Bank Middle School Athletics Foundation.

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HELP FOR THE HUNGRY, VETS AND ATHLETES

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TUESDAY: “Family Night Out” to benefit Lunch Break
By dining at any one of 11 participating restaurants on June 12, Red Bank area residents can help take a bite out of hunger. A portion (or bite) of the proceeds from each lunch or dinner will be donated directly to Lunch Break, an organization dedicated to helping community members in need. Mention Lunch Break during the meal and receive complimentary tickets to see “JAWS” at the Count Basie Theater that night at 7 p.m.

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DONE GOOD: HELPING VETS FIND JOBS

Done3Done Good is a periodic rundown of charitable outreach efforts and fundraisers on the The Green. To submit items for consideration, please send an email with the words ‘Done Good’ in the subject line.

TODAY: “Taking Care of Our Own” Open House for Veterans
Red Bank’s Two River Theater hosts a “Taking Care of Our Own” open house Tuesday, May 22 from 5 to 9 p.m. that will focus on helping returning veterans gain employment with non-governmental entities while also serving as an forum for them to meet local business owners.

There will be a number of free resources offered to veterans along with numerous discounted services from the private sector; a great networking opportunity and fundraiser. A food-wine-gift auction is included as well with all proceeds going to Operation Homefront and Lunch Break. No admission charge for veterans, $20 donation for other attendees. For more info, call 973-449-7702.

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MENNA: GROWING NONPROFITS HURT TOWN

Mayor Pasquale Menna says the loss of taxable property to nonprofits is an unfair burden on taxpayers in regional centers like Red Bank. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

It’s become a familiar refrain of Red Bank officials: the borough is choking on nonprofits that provide services to a wide swath of Monmouth County’s citizenry but return nothing to the town’s coffers.

For all the societal good they do, a sprawling medical center, various churches and other do-good institutions occupy land that might otherwise generate tax revenue – and they increase the load carried by borough taxpayers each time they expand, says Mayor Pasquale Menna.

“Our residents have to pay for the deficiency,” he said. “That societal good is borne by those who are the least able to pay for it.”

Menna says that this year, he’ll be dialing up efforts to address what he considers a fundamental unfairness. But having gotten nowhere with earlier efforts, he’s retooled, and is now pitching a provocative idea: Make nonprofits pay when they acquire property now on the tax rolls.

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A PORTION-CONTROLLED SIDE OF ZEET

zeet-peabody-1Zeet Peabody, executive chef at the new JBJ Soul Kitchen, which features crisp design inside and a vegetable and herb garden out front. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

soul-kitchen1The star power at Wednesday’s opening of the JBJ Soul Kitchen in Red Bank belonged, of course, to the restaurant’s main sponsor, Jon Bon Jovi.

But while the the telegenic pop star may continue to volunteer his time washing dishes at the Monmouth Street pay-what-you-can eatery, patrons will be on intimate terms with Zeet Peabody, the restaurant’s executive chef.

Along with his kitchen crew and wait staff, he’s the one who’ll be there most of the time. More importantly, he’s be the one who’ll decide what goes onto the plates, and how those dishes will elevate the eatery to destination status.

After all, this is “not a soup kitchen,” Bon Jovi said at the opening. With its knife-sharp appearance, it doesn’t look like one. And the people behind it don’t want it to function as a dole for the down-and-out. The goal, they emphasized, is to make it a restaurant for all, no matter what’s in the customer’s wallet.

So amid the hubbub of the opening, redbankgreen isolated Peabody – who’s been a personal chef and consultant since closing his Bistro Zeeto in Atlantic Highlands a decade ago – for a few minutes to get his input. Here’s our quickie interview.

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WIN A BON JOVI GUITAR. GO NAKED. OR BOTH

Done3In an effort to raise awareness about detectable cancers, two Red Bank shops are organizing an evening of champagne, sweets and beautiful, bare skin.

Another organization is auctioning off a guitar donated by pop star Jon Bon Jovi to help feed and clothe those in need.

Well, one of those got your attention, right?

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SWEET RIDES, AND PAULIE WALNUTS, TOO

Foam-mattress maven Michael Fux (pronounced ‘fyooks’) pulled off his hurricane-delayed exotic car show in downtown Red Bank Saturday afternoon, showcasing 52 cars from his collection of 114 top-end Rolls Royces, Lamborghinis and Ferraris in a bid to raise money for two of his favorite charities.

Owners of another 25 or so exotics supplemented the event, which also featured actor Tony Sirico (‘Paulie Walnuts’ of ‘Sopranos’ fame) posing for photos with anyone who asked. The borough government closed off the north end of Broad Street for six hours for the event.

redbankgreen was there, and grabbed these 25 shots.

To enlarge the photo display, start it, then click the embiggen symbol in the lower right corner. To get back to redbankgreen, hit your escape key.

ROUNDING UP WOMEN TO HELP GIRLS

nicole-corre-030811Go-getter Nicole Corre pauses for a moment on Broad Street in Red Bank. (Click to enlarge)

donegoodlogoNicole Corre, an inveterate helper-outer, needs some help.

Somewhere between finishing up a master’s in public policy at Rutgers, working full-time as a labor trends researcher and training for the Georgia Marathon this weekend — the first of two she plans to run this year — the Red Banker is trying to get a charity rolling.

Hey, even Type A personalities can’t do it all themselves.

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DOIN’ GOOD, IN DOLDRUM DAYS

beatlemania1Alan LeBouef (at right, as Paul) leads the Stars of BEATLEMANIA in a fab fundraiser for the Red Bank Rotary Club, at Two River Theater.

Done2In case you haven’t noticed, it’s the January Doldrums for sure. And with most of us variously tapped out, snowed in or plowed under, the conventional wisdom holds that you  simply don’t schedule much of anything in the way of fundraiser events here in the season of slush.

That said, a handful of brave businesspeople and nonprofits are apparently ignoring the memo, offering a variety of constructive reasons to venture gingerly down the sidewalk and out of the house — and maybe just maybe do a little bit of the Done Good deed in the process.

A roundup of suggested January jaunts follows forthwith.

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GOING IN FOR THE SHOT

Dozens of celebrants ran into the Atlantic surf  for the annual polar bear plunge at the Mad Hatter in Sea Bright on New Year’s Day.

Among them: redbankgreen‘s Trish Russoniello, who grabbed her point-and-shoot and went in up to her neck. Here are some of her pix.

(To enlarge the photo display, start it, then click the embiggen symbol in the lower right corner. To get back to redbankgreen, hit your escape key.)

BON JOVI TO ROCK OUT FOR PARKER CLINIC

bon-joviMiddletown property owner Jon Bon Jovi has scheduled an “intimate,” $250-a-seat concert next month to raise money for Red Bank’s Parker Family Medical Center.

News of the benefit appeared yesterday on the website of the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, the venue that will host the January 27 show.

The venue’s website says the tickets go on sale today at 10a, but the tour page at Bon Jovi’s website says the show is sold out.

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…AND TO ALL A ‘DONE GOOD’ NIGHT

valslegrandPop Warner coaches (and Val’s Tavern owners) Chris and James Smith, left, hosted a fundraising event December 2 at their landmark Rumson pub for the benefit of Rutgers football star Eric LeGrand. Proceeds from special auction items and sales of “Believe Fund” merchandise were dedicated to the Scarlet Knights defensive tackle, who sustained a paralyzing injury during October’s Army-Rutgers game.

donegoodlogoIt’s ALL Good, as they say on TV — at least during this jingliest of seasons, in which collection cans and kettles can be found on street corners and stripmall sidewalks and in which bins and boxes for food/ clothing/ toy drives are sighted most everywhere you look.

Whether you’re dodging carolers and horse-drawn carriages on your way to some weekend errands, or making a special trip out to the Count Basie Theatre (where several high-profile benefit concerts make a joyful noise in the coming nights) or  Two River Theater (where an ongoing pet food drive continues for the run of  Charlotte’s Web), you’ve got plenty of chances to Do Good here in December — and for this month’s Done Good roundup, we’ve got a few more recommendations coming right up; only a couple of which have anything to do with Santa Claus.

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OVER A DOZEN FUN WAYS TO HELP OTHERS

fallonmanzomulheren

Hollywood’s Siobhan Fallon Hogan, TV’s Real Housewife Caroline Manzo and Broadway’s Michael Mulheren appear at local fundraisers in the coming days.

There’s a gala for the neediest of our neighbors that’s studded with familiar faces from movie screens and Broadway stages. A sneak-preview of a film from a major studio, raising funds for the arts right in our backyard. There’s even a benefit dog walk, graced by a reality TV star who’d be able to tell us a thing or three about catfights.

donegoodlogoYou don’t need to boast of any showbiz connections to have Done Good for your community — sometimes all you need to do is come on out, take in some lovely early-autumn weather or enjoy some of the best of local cuisine. Cheer on a committed competitor from the crowd, or pound some pavement for a charitable cause. Donate a used book, buy a used book — or bring back those library books, no questions asked.

In this edition of Done Good, redbankgreen pulls together more than a dozen ways that you can be part of something big in the days and nights to come. It’s an opportunity that begins this weekend and continues on through the first half of October — with benefits that will be felt locally (class trips, school sports, food banks, animal rescues, holiday traditions, clean streets) as well as globally (clean oceans).

The Done Good rundown continues, right around the corner.

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COAT GIVEAWAY SLATED FOR SATURDAY

Rbcc clothingA scene from a clothing giveaway held at the Red Bank train station last March.

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The folks at the Red Bank Community Church will be doing a clothing giveaway in the borough train station parking lot this Saturday, weather permitting.

The emphasis is on getting coats and warm clothing to people who need it, says Pastor Lenny Liebman, whose congregation meets just two blocks east on Monmouth Street.

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PBA: DON’T BE FOOLED

pba-consumer-warning-copy2Red Bank’s Police Benevolent Association, trying to raise money for its charitable efforts, is warning residents of a lookalike, or soundalike, effort.

In a sternly worded notice (at right; click to enlarge) and accompanying letter to borough residents, PBA Local 39 president Robert Campanella  tells residents that any “PBA” phone solicitations they might get aren’t coming from them.

“The Red Bank PBA does not now, and has never solicited donations via the telephone,” Campanella says in his letter.

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