RUMSON: EKDAHL RETIRES AS MAYOR

 John Ekdahl, right, with former Red Bank Mayor Ed McKenna at the groundbreaking last September for an addition to the Count Basie Center for the Arts, where they serve on an advisory board.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

After 14 years at the helm of Rumson’s municipal government, John Ekdahl retired as mayor last week.

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RUMSON: MARINE SCIENCE CENTER PLANNED

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)

By JOHN T. WARD

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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RUMSON: UTILITIES TO GO BELOW RIVER

Natural gas and water supply lines are to be tunneled beneath the Shrewsbury River between Rumson Road in Rumson, above, and Sea Bright. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Residents of Rumson and Sea Bright may see an unusual construction project as early as next month, when two utility companies run new service lines connecting the towns 25 feet below the floor of the Shrewsbury River.

Municipal and utility officials said they expect minimal disruption to traffic during the monthlong project, when New Jersey Natural Gas and New Jersey-American Water plan to drill beneath the river from Sea Bright to Rumson and then pull about a quarter-mile of piping across the span.

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RED BANK: BIG MOVE FOR BASIE BOARD

basie awards 051816 2Press release from The Count Basie Theatre

Amidst its $20 million dollar expansion and improvement plan, the Count Basie Theatre has announced the merging of its Board of Trustees and Directors and the hiring of a new Vice President of Development to join the newly appointed executive leadership team.

As a recognized 501(c)(3) organization, the Count Basie Theatre once operated under the guidance of two governing boards — one overseeing theater operations, and the other the non-profit’s fundraising efforts. With a single Executive Committee under the leadership of Chairman Tom Widener and Count Basie Theatre president and CEO Adam Philipson, the work to merge the boards into one, diverse and powerful force behind the theatre’s ambitious plans for the future have come to fruition.

“This is an auspicious, exciting moment for us at the Count Basie Theatre, said Board Chairman Tom Widener. “Merging the boards creates cohesion, clarity and focus at an important time in our history.”

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RUMSON PARADE MARCHES ON IN 2016

Press release from Rumson St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee

Jack C HowleyThe Fourth Annual Rumson St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be held on Sunday, March 13, 2016, beginning at 1 pm. The day will be complete with music, bag pipe bands, floats, marching bands from area high schools, Irish Step Dancers, classic cars, veteran groups, scouting organizations, non-profit organizations, schools, novelty acts, and area business and civic groups.

Mayor John Ekdahl and members of the borough council enthusiastically welcomed the announcement of this recently established local tradition, first organized in 2013. As she has since the event’s inception, JoAnn Pileggi of Fox 29 News Philadelphia will serve as Master of Ceremonies, and named as the 2016 Grand marshal is Jack C. Howley (pictured), president of Howley Financial Group, LLC and a founding board member and supporter of the Rumson St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee.

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ON THE GREEN: MAYORS HAVE FUR IN THIS ONE

tim-grinch-band-rblightingAt stake: the dignity of at least two area mayors. (Click to enlarge)

The Battle of Ridge Road will pit maroon against purple in a high-stakes football game between Red Bank Regional and Rumson-Fair Haven Regional high schools this weekend.

But in the aftermath, the mayors of at least two towns will end up dressed dressed in electric green.

That’s because the top elected officials in Fair Haven, Rumson, Little Silver, Red Bank and Shrewsbury have a group wager on the outcome of the NJSIAA Central Group 3 championship game  between the undefeated RBR Buccaneers (11-0) and the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional Bulldogs (9-2): those from the sending towns of the losing team must dress up as the Grinch at a Holiday Express event, Little Silver Mayor Bob Neff tells redbankgreen.

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RUMSON: MAN INDICTED IN OVERDOSE DEATH

oxford rumson 2 011214.JPGRumson officials said they learned that Oxford House had created the recovery home at 61 South Ward Avenue only after a resident’s death there. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03An Avon-by-the-Sea man has been indicted for the overdose death of a resident of Rumson’s Oxford House addiction recovery facility, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni announced Monday.

Michael Renna, 26 of Sylvania Avenue,  faces two counts arising from the October 2013 death of 25-year-old Christopher L. Pesce, according to Gramiccioni.

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RUMSON: MAN CHARGED IN OXFORD O.D.

oxford rumson 2 011214.JPGThe overdose death of an Oxford House resident has resulted in charges against a man described by authorities as an acquaintance.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

An Avon-by-the-Sea man has been charged for allegedly supplying the heroin that led to the overdose death of a resident of Rumson’s Oxford House rehab facility last October, the Monmouth County Prosecutor announced Tuesday.

Michael Renna, 25, was charged with one count of first degree strict liability for a drug-induced death and one count of third-degree distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said in a prepared statement.

News about the death of 25-year-old Christopher Pesce was the first that word that nearby residents had that the recovery residence had opened two months earlier in their residential corner of Rumson, and ignited a firestorm of objections.

It also led to a pair of countervailing lawsuits by the borough and Oxford House, litigation that now appears to be close to settlement.

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RUMSON: OXFORD HOUSE FILES FEDERAL SUIT

oxford rumson 1 011214Oxford House says in a court filing that the group home at 61 South Ward Avenue is getting new residents. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Oxford House has gone on the legal offensive against Rumson.

The parent organization of the embattled group home for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts filed a federal lawsuit against the borough on Friday, alleging discrimination in violation of fair housing and Americans with Disabilities laws.

The suit claims the town and borough Administrator Tom Rogers “have interfered with operation and occupancy” of the residence in the aftermath of two drug overdoses at the house since it opened in August – one resulting of the death of a 25-year-old Holmdel man in October, and the second in December, in which a resident required emergency treatment.

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RUMSON: ALL QUIET AT OXFORD HOUSE

oxford rumson 2 011214.JPGThe manager of Oxford Houses for New Jersey says the Rumson group home is still occupied, but declines to say if there’s a proctor on site. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rumson officials failed in their attempt to get a court order forcing a group home for recovering addicts to be vacated. But they appear to have effectively gotten what they wanted:
an empty Oxford House.

Or have they?

Contrary to the impressions of town officials and some neighbors, “it’s not vacant,” according to George Kent, who manages the house, at 61 South Ward Avenue, for the nonprofit Oxford House.

If it’s not vacant, tid Oxford follow through on a purported plan to change the facility from all-male to one for women and children?

“All I can say is nothing’s changed,” Kent told redbankgreen last week. “There’s people living there.”

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DAWKINS IN AS RUMSON GRAND MARSHAL

From press materials furnished by Belfer Communications

DawkinsIn an announcement made on Monday morning, the organizers of the 2014 Rumson St. Patricks Day Parade confirmed that Brigadier General Peter M. Dawkins, USA (Ret.) will be serving as Grand Marshal for the second annual event, scheduled for the afternoon of Sunday, March 9.

It’s a new feather in the cap of the longtime Rumson resident — a Heisman Trophy winner, decorated military commander, Citigroup vice chairman, and 1988 Republican candidate for one of the Garden State’s U.S. Senate seats. It’s also a not-insignificant honor in a career that’s seen the 1959 West Point grad and Rhodes Scholar serve with distinction on college gridirons and foreign battlefields; banking industry boardrooms and the worlds of academia, public policy and philanthropy.

Dawkins will be among the luminaries in attendance — joining Rumson Mayor John Ekdahl and parade MC JoAnn Pileggi of FOX 5 and My 9 News — during a press conference luncheon slated for January 17 at  local landmark Murphy’s Tavern. The fabled watering hole and former speakeasy will also be the setting for the first of several scheduled fundraiser events, an afternoon of music, food and socializing that happens on Saturday, January 18.

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RUMSON HAILS NEW UNIFORMED LEADERS

Mayor John Ekdahl, center, calls the annual reorganization meeting to order at Bingham Hall. Below, Ekdahl swears in Scott Paterson as police chief while Paterson’s wife, Stephanie, and children look on. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The start of the new year signaled changes in command of Rumson’s emergency services Tuesday.

Scott Paterson, a 19-year veteran of the police department, was sworn in as police chief, succeeding Rick Tobias. And Jymm Fenn moved up the ladder at the fire department for a one-year term as fire chief.

The calendar change also saw the departure of the borough’s longtime recreation department head, John Hird.

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FIREWORKS PREVIEW: RUMSON

rumson-fireworks-signRumson’s fireworks will take place same time as Red Bank’s on July 3. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

While hundreds of thousands rub elbows to get a view of the Independence Day fireworks in Red Bank Sunday, just a few miles east, there’ll be a more subdued, but pyrotechnically identical, affair going on in Rumson.

For the fourth straight year, the borough will host Rumson’s Fireworks on the Navesink, a duplication of Red Bank’s Kaboom! Fireworks on the Navesink that draws between 12,000 and 14,000 visitors along the eastern banks of the Navesink River.

The borough has put out information to all businesses and residents in advance of the show, warning of parking and traffic expectations, and where to catch the action.

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CURLEY: OCEANIC DETOUR WILL HIT HARD

oceanic-bridgeThe Oceanic Bridge will be closed for months for repair work this fall. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Long-awaited repairs to the Oceanic Bridge are expected to get started this fall, but the extent of the repairs will cause the bridge, which connects Rumson and Middletown over the Navesink River, to be closed for months, sending a blow to Rumson’s business district.

“It’s going to be devastating to the businesses,” said Monmouth County Freeholder John Curley. “Literally devastating.”

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RUMSONITES BARK AT TREE TAKEDOWN

doug-spencerShade Tree Commission Chairman Doug Spencer shows residents a piece of a tree Tuesday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Fair Haven officials aren’t quite out of the woods yet when it comes to adapting to changes to the borough’s tree preservation ordinance. And now, they have a little company.

On Tuesday night, Rumson’s council suddenly found itself in the middle of a thorny debate over the efficacy of its tree preservation law after a Navesink Avenue property’s tree population was decimated last week, residents said.

Change to the ordinance and bolstered enforcement are likely, council members said.

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POND GETS OVERDUE WORK, AND A NAME

pomphrey-pond1Dozens of neighbors turned out for the dedication ceremony at Pomphrey’s Pond in Rumson, which recently got a long-awaited dredging. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It was a long, fetid and at times fractious wait, but it’s over at Pomphrey’s Pond, and on Saturday neighbors of the once-murky Rumson pond took a deep, odor-free breath and exhaled with relief.

Making good on a promise made last year to dredge the locally beloved pond, the borough government held a ceremony marking its completion. Officials also formalized the pond’s name, in dedication to a family who, as its de facto caretakers, have enabled memories of ice skating, fishing and a little bit of youthful recklessness for generations.

“This is sort of a rare event. We only do this about every 75 years or so,” Mayor John Ekdahl told family members at the ceremony. “So you’re a part of history.”

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CHEMICAL FIRE SETS OFF EXPLOSIONS

sailers-way-hoseFire hoses lie on the lawn of a Rumson home, which was the scene of an hours-long fire Friday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A chemical fire at a Rumson home Friday afternoon spurred the evacuation of two homes and kept emergency workers on the scene into Saturday morning trying to contain a cantankerous series of explosions.

“It sounded like the Fourth of July fireworks for about three hours,” said Bob Maras, who was one of dozens of volunteer responders who worked about 12 hours outside the home at 3 Sailers Way.

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RUMSON DPW GETS SOME LOVE AT WORK

mark-wellner1Privacy and mobility have not been at a premium at the public works building, but that’s going to change, says director Mark Wellner. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

There isn’t much to Rumson’s Department of Public Works building — a narrow, bland concrete stretch of garage bays with a couple of offices behind borough hall.

One of those offices belongs to director Mark Wellner, where warmth is generated by a space heater next to his desk. When he steps out, he’s in the department’s conference room, which also happens to be the kitchen — consisting of a microwave and small counter — and, during snow emergencies, a bedroom for a dozen or so on-call employees who try to catch z’s on one of a few used couches picked up curbside over the years.

“Sometimes, you’ve got a guy laying on the table with a blanket trying to get some sleep,” he said.

Attached to the conference room is a closet of a bathroom, with one toilet and a sink behind a rickety door.

“No room for the guys to even wash their hands,” Wellner said.

There’s not much in the way of comfort and privacy for the DPW guys, that’s for sure. So it must’ve been frustrating to watch last year when the borough built its pristine, $5.77 million government offices building right in front of the public works structure that went untouched in the 56 years since it was built.

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HATS THROWN INTO AND HELD FROM RACES

castlemanLittle Silver Mayor Suzanne Castleman is calling it quits. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Monday was the deadline for candidates to file for November’s elections, and in the sleepy towns of Rumson, Little Silver and Fair Haven, where Republicans dominate and election outcomes are all but foregone conclusions, the big news is who’s not running for re-election.

Here’s a rundown of who’s in and who’s out in those towns.

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RUMSON SNUFFING OUT SMOKING IN PARKS

victory-parkRumson intends to ban smoking in all of its public parks. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Smoke ’em if you got ’em. Just not in Rumson’s parks.

The council, in what it sees as a ‘duh’ move for public health, intends to ban smoking in all the borough’s public parks.

“We just felt it was a good example for the kids,” Mayor John Ekdahl said.

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RUMSON’S SPENDING DOWN, TAXES UP

rumson-councilFor the second year in a row, Rumson’s tax rate will increase. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Rumson officials told department heads earlier this year to hold the line on expenses, and they did. The council, too, reined in spending for 2011, costing a police department employee a job.

But despite a budget shrinkage of about $250,000, taxes, for the second straight year, are going up in Rumson.

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KABOOMFEST PAYS ITS DEBT TO RED BANK

kick-in-kaboomersKaBoom volunteers making their way through the crowd with donations pails at Riverside Gardens Park in 2009. That’s KaBoom chairman Charles Moran at left.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Just a couple months before the 2011 edition of Red Bank’s fireworks show is set to blast off from the Navesink, the Kaboomfest committee has paid off the balance from last year’s display and is getting ready for a somewhat revamped show for Independence Day weekend.

This time, though, officials, citing what they believe is a more sustainable fundraising model, don’t anticipate carrying a balance owed to Red Bank into 2012.

“No, we don’t,” Kaboom Chairman Charles Moran told redbankgreen. “Our budget includes being able to pay Red Bank this year.”

Bringing on major corporate sponsors like Meridian Health (owner of Riverview Medical Center) and Wells Fargo, plus charging for premium views of the show, are among the top factors in being able to clear the ledger on time, Moran said.

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RUMSON FIREWORKS STILL UP IN THE AIR

A YouTube video of the fireworks in Rumson last year. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Now that Red Bank has decided to move forward with KaBoom ’11 with a couple of changes, leadership at the other end of the Navesink can start talking about its own fireworks show.

First question: Will there be one?

More than likely, said John Ekdahl, mayor of Rumson — which puts on a scaled-down replica of the same fireworks display Red Bank has, at half the cost and a fraction of the crowd. But a final decision won’t be made until the Rumson Endowment Fund Committee, which helps fund special events in the borough, meets in the middle of February, Ekdahl said.

Before that happens, though, officials want to meet with Kaboom! committee members to untangle the lines of communication between the two boroughs, Ekdahl said.

“We want get the scoop for Kaboom! as far as what they’re up to and whether or not they’re going to have it,” Ekdahl said.

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RUMSON: NO DAWGS ALLOWED ON THE LAWN

dawgs

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

You can show school spirit all you want in Rumson. Just keep it off the lawn.

A request that had sailed through in Fair Haven didn’t make the cut in Rumson Tuesday night, when the borough council rejected a request from a couple of moms to sell lawn signs to raise money for the Rumson-Fair Haven boys lacrosse program.

The reasons, council members said: one, it’s against local ordinance, and two, if they lifted the ban, it could set a precedent for cluttered frontyards throughout town. And that, you know, is not how Rumson rolls.

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