RED BANK: FEDS TAKE ON ‘SEGREGATION’ CASE

The Red Bank Charter School, on Oakland Street, hotly disputes allegations that the borough schools are “segregated” as a result of its enrollment practices. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03As requested three months ago by two advocacy groups, the federal Justice Education Department is investigating allegations of segregation leveled at the Red Bank Charter School, correspondence obtained by redbankgreen on Tuesday showed.

The decision by the department’s Office of Civil Rights to open an investigation “in no way implies that the OCR has made a determination with regard to its merit,” a government letter to the complainants said.

But the revelation set off a fresh round of sniping in a bitter battle over the charter school’s existence.

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RED BANK: TURF HOLDING UP, SAYS SICKELS

rb-basie-turf-120516-5Rubber-crumb exposure at midfield and the sidelines, below, of the football field at Count Basie Fields is not indicative of the type of turf failure reported elsewhere, says the borough administrator. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb-basie-turf-120516-6Failing artificial-turf playing fields made by an industry-leading manufacturer are not an issue in Red Bank, according to borough Administrator Stanley Sickels.

three-day investigative exposé by NJ.com earlier this week reported that hundreds of turf fields across the United States were beginning to deteriorate long before the eight-to-ten-year life expectancy touted by the Canadian manufacturer, FieldTurf. The company knew about the failures but hid them as it continued to sell the fields, at prices often exceeding $500,000, the report alleged.

But the fields installed by the company at Count Basie Fields here are holding up well, Sickels told redbankgreen.

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RED BANK: FOURTH MAN CHARGED IN SLAYING

jonelle melton 111915 1Photos of slain Red Bank teacher Jonelle Melton, as displayed at a prosecutor’s press conference in November. Below, a state Department of Corrections photo of suspect Jerry J. Spraulding. (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

spraulding

A fourth suspect in the 2009 killing of a Red Bank Middle School teacher has been charged, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said Friday.

Like the the three men charged in November, the latest suspect, Jerry J. Spraulding, 38, of Keansburg, was already in custody, Gramiccioni said in a prepared statement.

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RED BANK: TRIO CHARGED IN MELTON MURDER

MCPO 111915 3Middle School Principal Maria Iozzi, left, and teachers Wendy Turnock and Mary Wynan speak with former Superintendent Laura Morana, back to camera, following the prosecutor’s announcement Thursday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_02Three Asbury Park men have been indicted in the “heinous” murder of Jonelle Melton, a Red Bank Middle School teacher they killed after breaking into her Neptune apartment six years ago, Acting Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said Thursday.

The three, who were already in custody on unrelated charges when they were indicted Wednesday, are alleged to have broken into Melton’s apartment by mistake after planning to burglarize another one in the Brighton Arms apartment complex, Gramiccioni said at a press conference in Freehold Thursday morning.

The news brought relief to school administrators and teachers who knew Melton.

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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: BLITHEWALD RAZED

76 buena vista 081815rumson fire 042015 2Five months after a devastating fire, the Rumson mansion known as Blithewald was demolished Monday.

The 132-year-old home, on Buena Vista Avenue, was undergoing extensive redecoration for use as a designer showcase for the monthlong VNA Stately Homes by the Sea when it burned down in April. Investigators ruled the cause of the blaze accidental. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: PROSECUTOR ‘CLOSING IN’ ON KILLER

jonelle3

A poster displayed at the middle school during a February, 2010 memorial event for murdered teacher Jonelle Melton.  (Photo by Dustin Racioppi. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

just_in1The Monmouth County Prosecutor says his office is “closing in on” the killer of Jonelle Melton, a Red Bank Middle School teacher murdered in her Neptune apartment almost six years ago.

In an unusual move, Acting Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said in a statement released Monday afternoon that his office has “recently developed new leads that make us confident that those responsible for this senseless crime will be brought to justice,” and appealed to the public for help.

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RUMSON: FIRE RULED AN ACCIDENT

rumson fire 042015 3Monday’s fire at the Rumson mansion known as Blithewald appears to have been accidental, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s office.

Spokesman Charlie Webster told redbankgreen on Thursday that investigators believe the fire began in a wall between a guest room and an en-suite bathroom on the second floor. But they were unable to determine if a live electrical circuit or equipment was the cause, he said.

At the time of the fire, Blithewald, on Buena Vista Avenue, was undergoing extensive redecoration for use as a designer showcase for the monthlong VNA Stately Homes by the Sea fundraiser fundraiser, which was to have begun Saturday but has now been cancelled. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

FAIR HAVEN: TEACHER REINSTATED

fh boe 022515At a packed meeting, above, the board of ed voted to reinstate teacher Basil Henning, below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

basil henning 2014Fair Haven’s school board reinstated a sixth-grade Spanish teacher Wednesday night, 10 days after he was placed on administrative leave over crass satirical web videos in which he appeared.

Following a recommendation by Superintendent Nelson Ribon, the board ended the administrative leave of Basil Henning, a tenured teacher whose paid removal, announced in an unusual Sunday night email to parents, was prompted by at least one parent’s complaints.

Henning is free to return to work Thursday morning, though an investigation continues, Ribon told redbankgreen following the meeting, at the Knollwood School.

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SNIFFING OUT A SUSPECT IN CRUELTY CASE

Boss, a pit bull who was abandoned in Red Bank in April, was last believed to be available for adoption at the Humane Society. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Perez_van3Henry Perez is not one to boast. Media shy, he’s cautious to a fault about getting clearance from his superiors before talking to a reporter, and wouldn’t let redbankgreen take a fresh photo of him to replace the one at right, from 2008.

But he’s no wallflower either, and the Red Bank animal control officer, who also carries a badge as a volunteer enforcer for the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, contacted us recently because he wants to get the word out:

If you’re thinking of abandoning a dog or other pet, think twice about using Red Bank as your dumping ground. Because if you do, he may hunt you down.

Don’t believe it? Read on.

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