RED BANK: MURPHYS IN CLASSIC FINISH

Governor Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy powering through the last steps of the race, above, and before the start, below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Undaunted by a fellow runner’s warning that Tower Hill can be a killer, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy finished among the top 25 percent of racers in the debut Red Bank Classic 5k Saturday.

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RED BANK: UNITY RALLY DRAWS A MURPHY

Tammy Murphy reacts as her husband, Governor-elect Phil Murphy, calls her while she’s delivering a speech at Saturday’s Unity Rally in Red Bank. The event drew a full house to Pilgrim Baptist Church, below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Ignoring biting cold, dozens of Red Bank-area residents participated in a “unity” march and rally Saturday in honor of two civil rights champions: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and journalist T. Thomas Fortune.

Anchored at Pilgrim Baptist Church, the event featured a cameo appearance by the spouse of Governor-elect Phil Murphy as part of a whirlwind, pre-inaugural tour of New Jersey.

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RED BANK: MURPHY TOUTS ‘SENSE’ ON GUNS

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy, with Brett Sabo of Moms Demand Action at right, in Riverside Gardens Park Friday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

At a no-surprises event held in Red Bank, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Murphy picked up an endorsement from a group pushing for “common sense gun laws” Friday.

Addressing a clutch of supporters and at least two local GOP officials in Riverside Gardens Park, Murphy pledged to reject an “us versus them” approach to dealing with gun-rights advocates while pressing for ways to reduce firearms violence in New Jersey.

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RED BANK: MURPHY ROLLS, AND SWEENEY SITS

phil murphy 051616 3Phil Murphy in a campaign photo, apparently taken at Edie’s Luncheonette in Little Silver. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Middletown resident Phil Murphy moved closer to his goal Thursday when a key prospective primary contender decided to sit out the race.

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney said he would not vie for the governorship as Murphy racked up dozens of endorsements from elected officials statewide Thursday, including Red Bank Democrats.

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RED BANK: BECK SITS OUT TRUMPFEST

jen beck 052715State Senator Jen Beck, seen here with local Republicans in 2015, passed on this week’s Republican National Convention. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Election_2016_PlainFour months after saying Governor Chris Christie should choose between Donald Trump and New Jersey, Republican State Senator Jen Beck of Red Bank is sitting out her party’s national convention this week.

While Christie is in Cleveland carrying water for the prospective GOP nominee, Beck was back home, telling Paul Brubaker of the Backgrounder podcast that she feels “conflicted” about Trump’s ascendance.

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MIDDLETOWN: EX-FINANCIER EYES TRENTON

phil murphy 051616 3Phil Murphy in a campaign photo, apparently taken at Edie’s Luncheonette in Little Silver. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Middletown resident and former Democratic national finance chairman Phil Murphy has declared his run for New Jersey’s governorship, even though voters won’t cast their ballots for another 18 months.

Murphy declared his expected candidacy in a video released Monday on YouTube.

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RED BANK: BECK TO CHRISTIE: NJ OR TRUMP

jen beck 012216 3State Senator Jen Beck says the governorship “is more than a full-time job.” Below, Christie in Sea Bright in 2013. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

SB christie 6 082813State Senator Jen Beck of Red Bank says it’s time for Governor Chris Christie to choose between Donald Trump and New Jersey.

Adding to the chorus of criticism over Christie’s recent endorsement of Trump, Beck said Christie “cannot continue serving as our governor” if he’s going to be on the campaign trail with him, according to a report by app.com Wednesday afternoon.

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SEA BRIGHT: GUADAGNO HURT IN BIKE CRASH

kim guadagno 061714 1Guadagno at the Dublin House in Red Bank in June. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno was hospitalized after a biking accident in Sea Bright Thursday morning, according to multiple reports.

Guadagno, who lives in the adjoining town of Monmouth Beach, was expected to spend the night at Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune with a broken wrist and elbow, nj.com reported.

A spokesman said Guadagno “stopped suddenly to avoid a vehicle and fell from her bike” while riding early in the morning.

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SEA BRIGHT: LONG MUM ON CHRISTIE

sb christie long 082813 3Mayor Dina Long with Governor Chris Christie in Sea Bright last August 28. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

In the midst of the Bridgegate scandal surrounding Governor Chris Christie over alleged paybacks to Democratic New Jersey mayors who refused to endorse his re-election last year, inquiring minds want to know:

What about Dina Long?

The mayor of Sea Bright endorsed Christie’s re-election early in the cycle last February, calling him a “hero,” and shocked fellow Democratic officials.

Given that the mayors of Fort Lee, Jersey City and Hoboken now say they were pressed for endorsements by the Republican incumbent, and endured some retaliation for not doing so, some natural questions come to mind:

Who first brought up the idea of Long endorsing Christie? Did she feel there was quid pro quo situation being foisted on her? Does she stand by her endorsement?

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SEA BRIGHT: CHRISTIE WINS DEM’S BACKING

Governor Chris Christie poses with Boondocks Fishery owner Kelly Ryan wearing lobster-claw headgear given out at the Red Bank restaurant. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Governor Chris Christie returned to Sea Bright Thursday to pick up an early re-election endorsement from Mayor Dina Long, who crossed party lines and called him a “hero to Sea Bright and all across the Jersey shore.”

Long  – a Democrat who once volunteered worked as a paid campaign staffer for governors Jim Florio and Jim McGreevey, presidential candidate Bill Bradley and then-Senator Jon Corzine – said her backing of the Republican incumbent had “nothing to do with” the qualifications, or gender, of presumptive Democratic gubernatorial candidate state Senator Barbara Buono.

“It’s about humanity,” she said.

Christie eagerly accepted the endorsement, calling it, “a powerful symbol of people crossing party lines and working together to get things fixed.”

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SEA BRIGHT: COUNCIL WAIVES PERMIT FEES

Members of the borough council at Tuesday night’s meeting. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Amid complaints by residents about unresolved insurance claims and other rebuilding delays, the Sea Bright borough council rolled out several measures aimed at getting them back into their homes with less hassle and cost Tuesday night.

Among the moves: a moratorium on construction permit fees for all work related to Hurricane Sandy-related rebuilding and repairs.

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SEA BRIGHT: EATING, REFLECTING AND RISING

Chris Wood, as seen in a video, above, and Mayor Dina Long, below, at Saturday night’s event, which raised $130,000 for Sea Bright Rising. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

A hotel in Long Branch was transformed into a showcase of the area’s best culinary talents Saturday night, courtesy of the charity organization Sea Bright Rising and the generosity of local vendors and restaurant owners.

Complete with a live band, charity auction and a video showcasing the relief effort, the sold-out gala, dubbed “The Big Beach Bash,” raised almost $130,000 for Sea Bright’s recovery from Hurricane Sandy, according to the charity group’s Facebook page.

But the real story of the event was perhaps best told by the restaurateurs and merchants whose tables lined the walls of the ballroom of the Ocean Place Resort and Spa. Many were Sea Bright business owners trying to help rebuild their broken beach community joined by owners from neighboring towns looking to lend a hand to friends in need.

Over the lively the noise and, redbankgreen spoke with some of these participating businesses, and here’s what they had to say:

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SEA BRIGHT: CHRISTIE TOUTS FOCUS ON BIZ

Joined by Mayor Dina Long and business owners, Governor Chris Christie unveiled a new cabinet-level office to focus on post-storm rebuilding efforts. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Governor Chris Christie came to Sea Bright Friday afternoon, making his second visit to the storm-ravaged community since Hurricane Sandy struck. But while his first visit was a gesture of support to the beachside borough, this trip was all business.

At a news conference in the borough firehouse, Christie stood in front of a signs from local businesses including Bain’s Hardware, Woody’s Oceanfront Grille and Sea Bright Pizza to announce and lay out plans to help businesses that were affected by the hurricane. These include, he said, the creation of a new cabinet-level position – the Office of Recovery and Rebuilding – and the formation of a business impact assessment group, designed to aid businesses on a personal level.

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SEA BRIGHT: BAIN’S IS BACK IN THE PAINT

Frank Bain working the phone and the computer in the freshly restored paint section of his hardware store. (Photos by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

The rebuilding process in Sea Bright took a big step forward this week when Ocean Avenue mainstay Bain’s Hardware reopened its doors to the public for the first time since Hurricane Sandy hit.

“We opened at noon on 12/12/12 – why go to some concert when you could come down here, right?” owner Frank Bain told redbankgreen Thursday in his newly renovated shop.

Less than seven weeks ago, Bain’s store and every piece of inventory inside of it was destroyed. Now, the half of the store that is currently open looks as though it was never touched by the storm.

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SECOND ‘MOUNTAIN’ PILES UP MEMORIES

A passerby eyes debris in the Anchorage Beach parking lot, above, while a mountain of it dominates the former Peninsula House lot, below. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Mount Sandy, meet Mount Refuse.

Though smaller in stature, the mountain of debris occupying in Sea Bright’s old Peninsula House parking lot on Ocean Avenue is just as scene-stealing and ominous as its sand counterpart, located just a stone’s throw away. This ever-growing pile, however, won’t have onlookers climbing it or posing for closeups anytime soon.

The refuse is the accumulated result of curbside trash pickups in this Hurricane Sandy-smashed town, where residents and business owners are early on in a restoration effort.

It stands, however briefly, as a jarring, visceral reminder of the storm’s reach over porches, through doors and windows, and into rooms and closets.

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SEA BRIGHT: AMID TEARS, GUARD ROLLS OUT

Sea Bright’s tent city was largely dismantled by Friday afternoon. Below, Governor Chris Christie speaking with National Guardsmen at the site on November 9. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

After six weeks of assisting displaced residents and first responders with everything from hot meals to extra clothes, Sea Bright’s tent city – created by the US National Guard – is leaving town.

Following a final community meal on Thursday,  National Guardsmen made their move out of the municipal parking lot around 10:30 a.m. Friday, according to Onofrio Moscato, head chef at neighboring restaurant, Woody’s Ocean Grille, Emotions were running high for the Guard as well as volunteers and residents, he said.

“The National Guard was escorted out by the Sea Bright firemen,” Moscato told redbankgreen. “They were hanging out of the windows and waving. It was a special send-off for them. Before they left, they all stood in line and made a final salute, kind of a sign that their mission here was over.”

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HOT DOG CART AND CHIC EATERY BACK IN BIZ

Hot dog seller Frances Rooney poses for a photo with admirers, including Councilwoman Peggy Bills, at right above. Below, Pat Trama in his restored restaurant. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

One of Sea Bright’s oldest food businesses reopened this week, and one of its newest was scheduled to do so Friday night, two signs that the storm-battered town is cooking up a recovery.

Frances Rooney, affectionately known as “Grandma Hot Dog,”  fired up the gas on her cart this week and was soon attracting lines of hungry and loyal customers.

“My son was the one who really encouraged me to come back out here and start serving people again – sooner rather than later,” she told redbankgreen, “He thought it would be a comforting sight for everyone to see me back in business, up on my feet.”

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RUMSON TEEN’S STORM VIDEO DRAWS TRAIN

A 33-minute video about Hurricane Sandy by a Rumson-Fair Haven Regional student caught the attention of the rock band Train, which will play an acoustic show in Sea Bright as a result, NJ.com reported Wednesday.

Sixteen-year-old Charlotte Nagy videotaped conditions in Sea Bright and Rumson before, during and after the October 29 storm, and folded the band’s music into her production. Now, the San Francisco-based band is planning to play a private show for residents, first responders and their families next week, with the performance to be aired on on VH1 Christmas Day, the website of the Star-Ledger reports.

The effort will spotlight the efforts of Sea Bright Rising, a nonprofit devoted to the general recovery of the town of Sea Bright and care for its residents in the interim.

From the story:

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SEA BRIGHT: BAIN’S PAINTS ITS OWN FUTURE

Frank Bain outside his Ocean Avenue hardware store, where all the inventory was destroyed in Hurricane Sandy. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

“This isn’t a competition,” said a stone-faced Frank Bain, when asked if his would be the first business to reopen in Sea Bright after Hurricane Sandy.

But checking in on recent activity at Bain’s Hardware, a visitor might conclude that not only was Bain in a race, but one that his life depended on winning.

One late afternoon last week, the Ocean Avenue storefront was a swarm of dust-encrusted laborers, some installing new subflooring even as others continued with interior demolition work. At one point, an impromptu crew, Bain included, picked up and hustled the pieces of a shattered street lamp from the sidewalk out front to the side of the building.

Make no mistake about it: Bain is in a major hurry. With no flood insurance and every item in his 65,000-SKU shop destroyed, his economic life hangs in the balance, he’s the first to admit. “Getting that register ringing again is paramount,” he told redbankgreen.

But he’s driven just as much, he said, by the importance of his store to other businesses and homeowners who themselves are faced with rebuilding challenges. “We are out here working so that we can get back on our feet and help this town as soon as humanly possible,” he said.

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SEA BRIGHT: ON TOP OF MOUNT SANDY

Rachel Pedersen and Carolyn Rigby on the Sea Bright sandpile, which attracts dog-walkers and other sightseers. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The beach clubs and bars may be temporarily gone, but Sea Bright appears to have a new, if temporary attraction: ‘Mount Sandy.’

Rising perhaps 40 feet above the ocean beach on which it was built, a giant pile of sand reclaimed from the storm-tossed borough’s streets has been luring sightseers willing to climb its soft face, rewarding them with a bird’s-eye view of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation.

Just yards away, in fact, is a another mountain rising, this one made of discarded appliances, furniture and building materials.

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