FAIR HAVEN: HALFACRE JOINS BEER DEALERS

mike halfacre 2007Former Fair Haven mayor Mike Halfacre, who left his job of three years as head of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control division to join a law firm last May, is changing jobs again. He’s just been hired as executive director of the Beer Wholesalers Association of New Jersey. He’ll continue as “of counsel” to the Newark law firm of Genova Burns, working on select matters, he tells redbankgreen. (Archive photo from 2007. Click to enlarge)

FAIR HAVEN: HALFACRE QUITS ABC

halfacre-1-01-08Mike Halfacre in 2008. (Click to enlarge)

[Update: On June 30, 2015, the Newark law firm Genova Burns announced that Halfacre was joining it as counsel, doing work on commercial real estate and business transactions, and would be “available for consultation” to the firm’s craft beer, spirits and alcohol practice.]

By JOHN T. WARD

Former Fair Haven Mayor Mike Halfacre has quit his job as head of the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, redbankgreen has confirmed.

Halfacre told redbankgreen that he will leave the agency – the unit of the Attorney General’s office that regulates liquor licenses – effective June 30 to return to the practice of law.

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RED BANK: LUCKY BREAK BILLIARDS TO REOPEN

lucky break 102113Lucky Break was closed for more than two months as the owner struggled to find a way out of red tape over BYOB rules.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Lucky Break Billiards, the Red Bank pool hall that shut itself down after becoming entangled in bureaucratic red tape over beer and wine consumption, will reopen Thursday.

Hall owner James Hertler tells redbankgreen he got the green light to reopen Wednesday from Mayor Pasquale Menna.

“The gist of it was that there was no complaint” by anyone that Hertler could challenge in court, Hertler said Menna told him. “My takeaway was that we’re good to go.”

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RED BANK: LUCKY BREAK’S SHATTERED DREAM

lucky break 102913James Hertler, below, shut down Lucky Break Billiards in September, a month after police cracked down over BYOB issues. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

james hertler 101813How’s this for an auspicious start for a business?

• In early 2011, in an effort to spice up nightlife, Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna spearheads a zoning law change to allow billiards parlors and other entertainment-based businesses to operate downtown.

• Several months later, former Mayor Ed McKenna, as lawyer on a lease for a planned billiards parlor, calls now-deceased police Chief Steve McCarthy to confirm that it could operate as a bring-your-own-beer and wine establishment. McKenna gets an OK, he tells his client, James Hertler, who was in McKenna’s office during the call.

• That October, Hertler goes before the zoning board and wins quick, unanimous approval of his plan for Lucky Break Billiards. Throughout its lengthy resolution of approval, the board notes that Lucky Break will be a BYOB that serves coffee and microwavable snacks and will allow its customers to bring in food from nearby restaurants.

• The following March, Hertler and partner Jeff Regen open Lucky Break at 14 West Front Street, in a space that had been vacant for four years.

• Lucky Break toughs it out for the next 18 months, building a repeat clientele largely based on private parties and edging toward profitability.

• Though it’s located amid a busy cluster of bars, there’s not a single incident requiring a police response at Lucky Break. “We worked hard to be a good neighbor,” said Hertler, a borough resident.

Yet without any change in the pattern described above, guess who abruptly finds himself accused of violating liquor laws – and out of business?

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JUDGE TOSSES CONVICTION IN BRAWL CASE

A state Superior Court judge has overturned the harassment conviction of one of three Sea Bright firefighters involved in a firehouse scuffle 18 months ago, redbankgreen has learned.

In an unwritten opinion, Judge Anthony Mellaci ruled from the bench in Freehold Friday that a municipal court judge had given “misplaced” credibility to the accusers of firefighter Justin Hughes, said Hughes’s attorney, Scott Servilla.

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GOP FLOATS THREE TO SUCCEED HALFACRE

Two sitting council members and a former member are the nominees to fill the empty seat of former Fair Haven Mayor Mike Halfacre, who resigned last month to take a job in the Christie Administration.

The local Republican Committee last week submitted the names of Council President Jon Peters, Councilman Ben Lucarelli and former Council President Andrew Trocchia to fill out the 2012 portion of the two years remaining on Halfacre’s term, committee chairman Rich Magovern tells redbankgreen.

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BIDDING THE MAYOR FAREWELL

It’s official, apparently, if the sign outside Fair Haven Borough Hall has the weight of officialdom. The expected resignation of Mike Halfacre as the borough’s mayor, that is, to take a job in the Christie Administration. But neither the borough administrator nor the clerk was available Wednesday morning to say if Halfacre had submitted a formal resignation, and Halfacre did not immediately respond to a request for comment. [Update, 10:35 a.m.: Borough Administrator Theresa Casagrande confirms that Halfacre submitted his resignation letter Tuesday, effective immediately.] (Click to enlarge)

PRESS: HALFACRE NOW HAS CHRISTIE NOD

The mayor, seen below in his biking gear, was a no-show Monday night and his nameplate sat on a shelf behind the council dais. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

He’s yet to resign, but the Asbury Park Press says Fair Haven’s Mayor Mike Halfacre now has been formally named to a post in the Christie Administration that will require him to step down from his elected post.

Halfacre, who apparently jumped the gun last week by announcing his new job as head of the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control on Facebook before his appointment was made official by the governor’s office, did not appear at Monday night’s meeting of the borough council.

Borough officials who appeared not to know of the latest Press report told redbankgreen on the condition of anonymity that Trenton had asked Halfacre to “lie low and not do anything mayoral” while his appointment was being finalized.

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PRESS BACKPEDALS ON NEW HALFACRE JOB

Original headline: “Fair Haven Mayor Michael Halfacre to head NJ Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control”

New one: “Fair Haven Mayor Michael Halfacre considered for Alcoholic Beverage Control post”

Uh-oh. Somebody might need a drink.

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MAYOR ‘FALLING OUT OF LOVE’ WITH PARK

The Charles Williams estate overlooking the Navesink has fallen into disrepair while borough officials await a resolution of title issues, says the mayor. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A plan for Fair Haven’s first and only waterfront park, to be created on the site of a pre-Civil War home built by an African-American, is “not dead,” says Mayor Mike Halfacre.

“But it may be on life support,” he adds.

Halfacre and the borough council are scheduled to convene behind closed doors later this month to get an update from town Attorney Sal Alfieri on legal matters that have held up the town’s acquisition of the Charles Williams estate, at the Navesink River end of DeNormandie Avenue.

Meantime, however, Halfacre admits to redbankgreen that he’s “falling out of love” with the plan.

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LOCAL POLS SPAR OVER CHRISTIE REMARK

Menna, below, calls Christie’s “going down” remark “classless.”

Was Governor Chris Christie making an allusion to oral sex when he sharply responded to protesters at a campaign rally for Mitt Romney in New Hampshire Monday? Or are his critics reading too much into his words?

On his Facebook page, Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna, a Democrat, calls Christie’s use of the term “going down” “crass and sexist.”

But at least two Republican friends of the mayor – Fair Haven Mayor Mike Halfacre and former Red Bank Councilwoman Grace Cangemi – take issue with that assessment in comments posted below Menna’s.

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MAYOR’S VOTE HALTS TREE-LAW SAW

hot-topic rightAfter almost a year and a half of on-and-off debate, an effort to trim Fair Haven’s tree-protection ordinance failed Monday night, the Asbury Park Press reports.

Mayor Mike Halfacre, who votes only in the event of a council tie, cast the decisive vote, halting  amendments pushed by Councilman Bob Marchese that would have made it easier for property owners to remove trees.

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SENTENCINGS DELAYED IN FIREHOUSE TUSSLE

One of two videos of a firehouse fight involving three Sea Bright firemen last October. The second video is below. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The lawyer for two Sea Bright volunteer firefighters convicted of assaulting a third in the town’s firehouse last year has obtained a delay in their sentencings, which had been scheduled for today.

Brothers Steven Lang, 25, and Peter Lang IV, 33, are facing banishment from the fire company, under a sentence sought by the prosecutor in the case, Mike Halfacre. But defense lawyer William Wilson won a one-month adjournment by questioning whether the town’s governing body really wants to see the Langs kicked to the curb.

Meantime, redbankgreen has obtained the two video views of the October 9, 2010 scuffle, which occurred during a wet-down celebration for a new fire truck.

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HOWELL RESIGNS AS ADMINISTRATOR

mary-howellMary Howell, foreground, and Clerk Allyson Cinquegrana at a council meeting in February (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

Fair Haven business administrator Mary Howell has resigned from her job as the borough’s top non-elected official, the Asbury Park Press reports today.

The borough council accepted Howell’s resignation, submitted last month, on Monday night after officials determined that the town needs a full-time administrator, the Press reports. Howell returned from maternity leave in January asking to go part-time, a move the council accommodated.

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SADNESS AND BITTERNESS MARK CLOSING

img_3737100809The church property, which includes adjoining buildings, will be put up for sale, officials say. (Click pix to enlarge)

Among the remains of 45 congregants lying beneath a tree in the memorial garden at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion in Fair Haven are those of Ann Dupree’s late husband. She interred them there after his death three years ago.

What to do with his ashes is one of more wrenching decisions to be made by the three dozen or so surviving parishoners of the River Road church as it nears its final mass, on October 24, before the doors are locked and the property goes on the market.

But it is just one element of a winding-down that has left congregants depressed, somewhat lost and more than a little angry, they admit.

“I was married here,” said Dupree, a senior citizen and member of the vestry who’s been attending Holy Communion for some 40 years. “I thought I’d be buried here.”

fh-holy-communion-tri1Pastor Nancy Speck reads from an 1885 entry in the church registry, left; the original church, which was demolished in 1967 because of a termite infestation; and the interior of the present church on the same site. (Click to enlarge)

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HALFACRE HALF-OK WITH STIMULUS MONEY

halfacre-bikerMayor Mike Halfacre in 2008.

With his town having  just landed a whopping $477,000 in federal stimulus money, one might think that Fair Haven mayor and congressional aspirant Mike Halfacre is in a bit of political quandary.

Halfacre, you see, rarely misses an opportunity to bash the Democrat-spearheaded spending plan.

Charles Gibson just asked: What’s in massive stimulus for you?” Halfacre posted on Twitter back in February. “My answer: Not a damn thing!”

That was a couple of weeks after he wrote a blog post in which he called on “all Republicans” to oppose the economic bailout then up for a vote on the Hill. He termed it a “pork-laden and, by most economists’ accounts, ineffective stimulus package.”

Last week, Fair Haven learned it had won approval for the full cost of replacing sidewalks on River Road from Fair Haven Road west, past the Acme supermarket.

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HALFACRE TO MAKE D.C. RUN OFFICIAL

halfacre-1-01-08Now in his third year as mayor, Mike Halfacre has set his sights on a seat in Congress.

After months of testing-the-waters fundraising, Fair Haven Mayor Mike Halfacre plans to make his run for Congresss official on Tuesday.

The conservative Republican has scheduled press conferences in his hometown and in Trenton to announce his challenge to incumbent 12th-district Democrat Rush Holt next year.

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