M’TOWN SOLAR PROJECTED TO SAVE MILLIONS

By DUSTIN RACIOPPIhot-topic right

Middletown has wrapped up a months-long town-wide study pinpointing locations ideal for solar panels, and may soon bring on a contractor to start the process of getting off the grid.

If it does, the town could save taxpayers $6.6 million over the next 15 years — and perhaps double that, if the town board of education gets on board, officials said.

Read More »

M’TOWN LIBRARY DEBATE GETS PERSONAL

gabrielan-settembrinoKevin Settembrino, left, and Randall Gabrielan, far right, got into a tiff within the open minutes of Wednesday night’s library board meeting. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The line of cars backing up in both directions on New Monmouth Road Wednesday night was the first sign that the Middletown library board meeting starting in a few minutes was going to be a departure from the humdrum of the trustees’ typical monthly session.

“Good evening, everybody, and welcome to the combat zone,” board president Randall Gabrielan quipped at the opening, and he wasn’t far off.  Before it was over, one citizen had invoked invoked the name of the world’s foremost terrorist in challenging an elected official’s suitability to even sit on the board, and Garbrielan himself had been accused of lying.

But after more than three hours of heated debate, finger-pointing, name-calling and innuendo, the issue of whether the library board would grant a request by the township committee for $898,000 of the library’s $1.2 million surplus to help balance the town budget moved toward a possible resolution.

Read More »

M’TOWN LIBRARY CENTER OF BUDGET BATTLE

hot-topic rightBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A plan by  Middletown’s governing body to raid the public library’s $1.2 million surplus in a bid to save police jobs  has set off an  imbroglio in which officials are taking hard-line stances on each side.

With the township committee well into its 2011-’12 budget process, the hunt for savings and more revenue is on, and officials have zeroed in on the library for much-needed dollars to save jobs, says Mayor Tony Fiore.

That has pitted elected officials against the library’s manager and some patrons.

On Wednesday night, the two sides will try to hash it out in a public meeting at the library.

Read More »

FIORE IN AS NEW MIDDLETOWN MAYOR

Newly-elected Mayor Anthony Fiore delivers his first address at Middletown’s reorganization meeting Sunday.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Middletown’s mayoral hot seat now belongs to Anthony Fiore, who suggests that he’s ready to be unpopular.

Fiore, a Republican now in the third year of his first elected term to the township committee, succeeds two-time mayor Gerry Scharfenberger, who was sworn in as a committeeman at Sunday’s annual reorganization meeting.

In a steamy, overflowing meeting room, and bookended on the dais by his predecessor, Scharfenberger, and newcomer Kevin Settembrino, Fiore admitted that 2011 isn’t going to be easy.

Read More »

MIDDLETOWN: FULLY REPUBLICAN AGAIN

mtown-elexAt Democratic headquarters tonight, the mood went from hopeful to somber as the Republicans won the township committee election. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The Middletown Township Committee will be all-Republican come January 1, as incumbent mayor Gerard Scharfenberger and running mate Kevin Settembrino beat out Sean Byrnes, who was the committee’s only Democrat, and his running mate, Mary Mahoney, in Tuesday’s election.

By 9p, Scharfenberger was confident he and Settembrino had a safe enough lead to declare victory. That was about the same time Byrnes, who had gathered with fellow Dems at the American Legion post in Leonardo, said “it’s over.”

“Naturally I’m very pleased. I thought we ran a really strong campaign,” Scharfenberger said. “We worked very hard and we were rewarded for it.”

Read More »