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A concept drawing of the proposed Monmouth Marine and Environmental Field Station, which would be built atop the existing sanitary sewer pump station in the background. The red star on the satellite photo below indicates the location. (Photo by John T. Ward, map by Google Maps. Click to enlarge)


A sewage pump station on the Navesink River in Rumson would serve as the foundation, literally, for an ambitious new marine science center announced in Rumson Tuesday.

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Karen SandyAs an Ocean County-based resident of the Jersey Shore, Karen Sandy (pictured) had a front row seat to the devastation and displacement wrought by a certain Superstorm with whom she reluctantly shared a name. As an animal lover, the longtime community volunteer also knew that the epic natural disaster impacted the lives of wild creatures and domesticated pets, every bit as much as it did the people of the tri-state region.

It was a visit to Popcorn Park Zoo Animal Rescue and Sanctuary, the Forked River facility operated by Associated Humane Societies of New Jersey, that inspired Karen Sandy to create Zach to the Rescue, a story for young readers that touches upon themes of life-changing loss, readjustments, and the healing power of new friendships. Just released earlier this month as the author’s first published work, the book receives its first Monmouth County showcase event this Sunday, July 31, at one of the most animal-friendly venues on the greater Red Bank green: the Paws for a Cause annex of Frame to Please.

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The trailer for “65 Percent,” a documentary by Mike and Jon Altino of Middletown, screens at the Red Bank Middle School at 1 p.m.

indie street logo 2Saturday-morning cartoons, a locally made documentary and shorts-in-a-bunch enliven Saturday’s schedule of the Indie Street Film Festival, which got underway in Red Bank Wednesday night and continues through Sunday afternoon.

Click the “read more” for the full schedule and a sampling of delightful and outrageous movie trailers. Read More »


isff 070616 1Sand artist Joe Mangrum creating a temporary painting at the festival opening-night cocktail party on the Count Basie patio Wednesday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

indie street logo 2

Screenings at four Red Bank venues fill Friday’s schedule of the Indie Street Film Festival, which got underway Wednesday night and continues through Sunday afternoon.

Click the “read more” for the full schedule and a sampling of delightful and outrageous movie trailers.

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A documentary about people who eat white dirt adds some grit to the first full day of the Indie Street Film Festival. 

indie street logo 2Scandalously long, beautiful legs. A guy with a compulsion for commandeering buses and trains. Geophagy, or dirt-eating.

These and other delightfully strange and wondrous topics fill the schedule of Red Bank’s Indie Street Film Festival as it enters its first full day of screenings and other events Thursday.

Click the “read more” for the full sked and a whole dirtload of delightful and outrageous movie trailers.

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The festival flickers to life with “Morris from America” on the big screen at the Count Basie Theatre. Here’s the trailer.

indie street logo 2Day One of the first-ever Indie Street Film Festival gets underway in Red Bank Wednesday, kicking off five days of heaven for movie lovers.

The opening day schedule is light, with one just one film lighting up the giant silver screen of the Count Basie Theatre and two parties. But the festival shifts into high gear Thursday with daylong screenings and other events at five venues, and keeps up the pace through Saturday before winding down Sunday.

Check in with redbankgreen throughout the week for festival coverage and next-day schedules with tons of trailers to help you decide which darkened room to bring your popcorn to. Meantime, here’s the first-day lineup:

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rb indie film mural 070416A mural on Monmouth Street near Maple Avenue touts the five-day Indie Street Film Festival, which flickers to life Wednesday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

indie street logo 2For the first time since 2007, Red Bank will swarm with screening maniacs this week as independent films, filmmakers and cinephiles invade the downtown — and one or two nearby outposts.

Encompassing nearly 100 feature-length and short films, four screening venues and a handful of bars and restaurants, the five-day Indie Street Film Festival kicks off Wednesday, promising to liven up a post-Independence Day interval when the borough traditionally slips into an early doldrums.

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donovan's 052616donovan's 071015 3Obliterated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and revived last summer as an open-air bar (seen at right), Sea Bright’s Donovan’s Reef is finally on track to having a permanent home again, NJ.com reports. The oceanfront watering hole is two weeks into a construction project that’s estimated to take about 10 months, the news site reports.

“I’m looking forward to the return of a Donovan’s that, like the rest of the new Seas Bright, is built to last,” Mayor Dina Long told NJ.com. “Donovan’s is an integral piece of the Sea Bright fabric. Without Donovan’s in Sea Bright, it feels like something’s missing.” (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)



The Oyster Point Hotel 3Press release from Habitat for Humanity in Monmouth County

On the evening of Monday, May 16, The Oyster Point Hotel will be the host venue as Habitat for Humanity in Monmouth County hosts its inaugural food and wine tasting event, A Taste for Homes. Scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m., the event celebrates the impact and difference that volunteers and companies can make to providing people in the community with a decent place to live.

Over two dozen local vendors and restaurants are slated to participate in the tasting event, with all proceeds going to support the organization’s efforts this year throughout their service territory that covers 83 percent of Monmouth County.

During the event the nonprofit organization will pay tribute to a set of individual and corporate honorees, in addition to celebrating “the many women volunteers that have what it takes to pound nails, frame walls, raise a roof and create HOPE!”

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Susan-Avellini 042016 James-Avellini 042016A Red Bank couple was charged with criminal fraud in connection with federal relief funds for victims of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the New Jersey Attorney General’s office announced Wednesday.

James Avellini, 67, and Susan Horty-Avellini, 65, seen at right, were among seven defendants charged with filing fraudulent applications for relief monies, the state alleged.

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Press release from Investors Savings Bank

donegoodlogoInvestors Bank Foundation recently awarded a two year grant in the amount $15,000 to the Mental Health Association of Monmouth County (MHA) in support of its Red Bank Resource Network (RBRN) and Sandy Wellness Program. This funding will help MHA continue to provide local residents and Hurricane Sandy impacted families and individuals with free mental health counseling and expert information plus referral services.

“We are honored to have Investors Bank Foundation as a corporate community partner and truly grateful to have received such a generous grant that will help us with sustainability through 2017,” said MHA Executive Director, Wendy DePedro in a statement. “Thanks to Investors Bank Foundation, the Red Bank community and Monmouth County residents will continue to receive the vital programs and services that are provided daily at the RBRN/Sandy Wellness Program location.”

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Press release from Mental Health Association of Monmouth County

Families and individuals whose lives were impacted by Hurricane Sandy will be provided with free mental health and expert information and referral services through July 2016, thanks to a generous grant awarded to the Mental Health Association of Monmouth County.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently awarded a grant in the amount $199,821 to sustain and expand mental health and social services in Monmouth County, related to the ongoing effects of the October 2012 “superstorm.” The MHA will continue to provide those services locally at the Red Bank Resource Network, now located at 103 Drs. James Parker Boulevard in Red Bank.

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donovan's 071015 3With new access ramps over the sea wall, the restored tiki bar at Donovan’s was back in business Friday afternoon, as co-owner Chris Bowler announced via the signboard, below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


donovan's 071015 1Thirty-two months after it was knocked cold by Hurricane Sandy, a Sea Bright watering hole stirred back to life in limited form Friday afternoon.

Employees of Donovan’s Reef, which had been a magnet to Wall Street millionaires and Side Street store clerks alike, threw open a fenced gate to its beachfront tiki bar shortly before 3 p.m., marking the end of a long, frustrating struggle, its owners said.

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1006 ocean 040515Ilene Winters, below, plans to open her new fitness studio in a former auto repair shop next door to a Dunkin’ Donuts this month. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


ilene winters 040715 2Ilene Winters spent about 20 years on Wall Street, and another decade involved in nonprofit work helping cancer patients and victims of Hurricane Sandy. Now, she says, it’s time to put another passion into play: physical fitness.

This month, Winters expects to open OAR Fitness & Endurance, a training studio, in a former auto repair shop in Sea Bright.

But her leap of faith requires her to tune out some potential downsides. Among them: the Shrewsbury River, just inches away from the building, and what it can do when the weather turns ugly.

“I’m just trying not to think about it,”  she tells redbankgreen. Read More »


habitatPress release from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School

The Habitat for Humanity Club at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School has been officially named an affiliate campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity International. RFH, one of only two official campus chapters in Monmouth County, was recently awarded a disaster services grant totaling $11,100 from Habitat for Humanity International and State Farm Insurance.

The RFH Habitat for Humanity Club, with over 110 student members participating in builds, clean-up projects and fundraising, provided a boost to the campaign by applying for and receiving the grant. The money will be presented to Habitat for Humanity/The “House That Youth Built” by a representative from State Farm, which has been a supporter of Habitat for Humanity since 1994, and will be used by the Club for the “House That Youth Built,” a youth-based service project for the Henn Family of Middletown Township.

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TimDillinghamAmerican Littoral Society exec director Tim Dillingham (pictured here with piping plover pal) is the special guest speaker, during a public-invited event hosted by the Brookdale Community College Environmental Club on Monday evening.

If Dr. Seuss’s character The Lorax speaks for the trees, then in Tim Dillingham the native species of our coastal waterways have an articulate advocate who’s proud to “represent the fish.”

As Executive Director of the American Littoral Society since 2003, Dillingham has been a vocal and visible steward for the mission of the environmental organization first founded in that pre-Earth Day era of 1961 — whether donning suit and tie as a gubernatorial appointee to high-level advisory councils and panels, or wading into the region’s waters to conserve the ecological connections between horseshoe crabs and migratory shorebirds. On Monday evening, January 26, the director ventures inland for a visit to the Lincroft campus of Brookdale Community College, where he’ll assess the health of New Jersey’s ocean environment — and the always-uneasy relationship between inhabited coastlines and uninhibited seas — in a free, public-invited meeting.

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Press release from Brookdale Community College

Tim Dillingham, Executive Director of the American Littoral Society, will discuss the health of New Jersey ocean environment and the uneasy relationship between inhabited coastlines and uninhibited seas on January 26 at Brookdale Community College.

The 6 pm meeting, open to the public, includes members of the BCC Environmental Club and the Jersey Shore (Monmouth) Sierra Group.

Specifically, Mr. Dillingham will focus on the need to restore and protect coastal habitat after Hurricane Sandy, and he will explore several defensive strategies for predicted sea level rise in the future.

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Pastor RowePress release from The Community YMCA

Pastor Jacquelyn Rowe of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Red Bank will be the keynote speaker at the 26th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Breakfast hosted by The Community YMCA and The YMCA of Western Monmouth County.

The annual YMCA event, which honors the legacy of the civil rights leader, will take place Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, 8 to 10 am, at Branches, 123 Monmouth Road, West Long Branch.

This year, the service project for the breakfast will support Project Homeless Connect of Monmouth County, a charity that works to provide various health and human services for homeless residents, or those who are on in danger of becoming homeless. Donations of gloves, mittens and scarves will be collected at the breakfast.

The memorial event will include musical selections and the winner of an essay contest among YMCA high school participants.

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Christ ChurchPress release from Christ Episcopal Church

The historic Christ Episcopal Church in Shrewsbury has been awarded two Sandy Disaster Relief Grants. These grants are to fund the preservation, stabilization, rehabilitation, and repair of historic properties damaged by the storm. The full list of 37 such awards was announced recently by the Christie administration.

For Christ Church, one grant is for the church building and surrounding graveyard while the other is for the Rectory. Christ Church was founded in 1702 and the church building was erected in 1769. The oldest gravestone in the graveyard is 1719. The church building, situated at the corner of Broad and Sycamore in Shrewsbury, is on the Federal and State Registers of Historic Places. Built in 1824, the Rectory is on Sycamore Avenue about one quarter mile from the church, and is in the Four Corners Historic district. The Rectory was built in 1824.

The award figure for the church is $150,650; the Rectory amount is $122,930. These awards will enable the parish to repair these structures, and to ensure their greater resilience against future such storms. The applications for the grant were greatly aided by Margaret Westfield of Westfield Associates.

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sb elevation 5 060513Sea Bright homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy being elevated in 2013. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Press release from Red Bank Humanists

On October 12, nearly two years since Superstorm Sandy wrought unprecedented devastation to the tri-state region, the Red Bank Humanists are sponsoring a panel discussion entitled “Sandy Spotlight: Where Do We Go from Here?” The event, which will take place between 10:30 am and noon at Red Bank Charter School, is open to the public, and admission is free.

“Two years after Sandy, people are still displaced and suffering,” noted Trudy Lagan, organizer of the event and Vice President of the Board of Directors of the RBH. “We hope the discussion will spur more support for those who need it, as well as give a deeper understanding of the tough questions that arise when evaluating how to avoid or mitigate another disaster like Sandy in the future.”

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The collision between coastal development and severe weather in New Jersey and elsewhere is the subject of the documentary “Shored Up,” screening for free this Saturday at Holy Cross School.

As filmmaker Ben Kalina tells it, “I made Shored Up to explore what it means to live beside the beauty of the ocean — where, as we saw with Hurricane Sandy, we are always just one storm away from catastrophe.”

Filmed in late 2012 and 2013 on locations along the Jersey Shore and the North Carolina coast, the documentary feature hits close to home — and with a Category 5 wallop — for local residents who experienced firsthand the unprecedented and still-lingering effects of the superstorm that marks its second anniversary next month.

This Saturday evening, September 20, Holy Cross School in Rumson hosts a free screening of the film, a public-welcome event that includes a discussion with the director and panel of local coastal and environmental scientists.

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Shored UpThe documentary film SHORED UP, which examines the collision between coastal development and severe weather in New Jersey and North Carolina, will be shown September 20 at a special screening in Rumson.

Press release from New Jersey Future

On the evening of Saturday, September 20, New Jersey Future — a nonprofit organization which is working with Sea Bright and Highlands on long-term recovery planning in the wake of Hurricane Sandy — will sponsor a free public screening of the documentary feature Shored Up in Rumson.

Doors open at 6:30 pm for the screening, scheduled for 7 pm at Holy Cross School, 40 Rumson Road. At the conclusion of the film there will be a panel discussion and question-and-answer session, featuring the film’s director Ben Kalina, as well as several local coastal and environmental scientists.

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jacquie-lee-nbc-630x359 copyTHE VOICE singing sensation Jacquie Lee joins the Rock and Roll Chorus for a special Saturday night concert at Brookdale’s Collins Arena, dedicated to ongoing post-Sandy relief efforts in Union Beach.

She made a nationwide splash last year on The Voice, when the 16-year old was hand-picked by Christina Aguilera to join her team on the NBC competition series. Before Jacquie Lee was through, she’d surged past all but one of her fellow contestants (Tessanne Chin) — and made fast Twitter fans of eminently droppable names like Jennifer Hudson and Lady Gaga.

Drop Jacquie Lee’s name around the Count Basie Theatre, and you’ll hear congratulations, exultations — but little in the way of surprise, since the graduate of the Basie-based Rockit! program already had all observers convinced that hers was a rare and rocketing talent. Having gone on to release a Top 20 iTunes single (“Broken Ones”) and taken to the touring circuit with Chin and some of their fellow Voice finalists, the Colts Neck teen returns to the greater Green this Saturday, August 23, as headliner of a special benefit concert event at Brookdale Community College.

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christine diiorio 070114Christina Di Iorio outside her Ocean Avenue bar and restaurant, which reopens Wednesday afternoon. Below, her husband, Steven Graniero. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


steven graniero 070114To be honest, Christina Di Iorio says, she got to the point where she didn’t want to reopen Dive, the Sea Bright restaurant and bar that she and then-fiancé Steven Graniero saw nearly wiped out by Hurricane Sandy.

Their insurance company hadn’t lived up to its obligations, she said. A vendor was suing them, and they weren’t able to get any traction with the government or private lenders to restart the Ocean Avenue business. And then there’s the hard reality of two bodies of water – the Atlantic Ocean and the Shrewsbury River – just yards away, all too ready to combine forces to once again smash the town as they did on October 29, 2012.

And yet there Di Iorio was on Tuesday, putting the final touches on a completely revamped Dive for a low-key opening at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

“I agree with you: I think we’re nuts,” she told redbankgreen. “But our clients, our families, our fan base – they all embraced us. I’m doing it for them.”

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sb donovan's 040214The site of Donovan’s Reef in April. (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


An ambitious plan to reopen a prominent Sea Bright bar by July 4 won’t meet its goal, the Star-Ledger’s website reports.

Bob Phillips, an owner of Donovan’s Reef, tells nj.com that the effort has been frustrated by his inability to obtain a loan from the federal government.

Still, the business, destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in October, 2012, will reopen in scaled-down form this summer, with completion of a permanent new structure as early as November, Phillips tells the news organization.

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