Powerpop powerhouse the Wag comes in from the great outdoors with a free Wednesday evening concert at the township library. 

They’ve proven themselves to be hardy perennials on the year-round local music scene, but for fans of  the Wag, there’s no denying that the season of outdoor concerts and sun-kissed festivals is the natural habitat for the Middletown-based band that can often be found free-ranging it in settings from the Fair Haven Municipal Dock and Little Silver Gazebo to the sidewalks and storefronts of downtown Red Bank and the great lawn at Lincroft’s Brookdale Community College.

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jukeJointJonny2Above: Juke Joint Jonny brings the real-deal folk blues to a season-ending Steamy Night at the Woman’s Club…while below, the real live author Dave Cicirelli brings his FAKEBOOK saga home to the M’town Library.  (click to enlarge)

Friday, November 29:

RED BANK: Black Friday is many things to many folks — but here in the area’s capital of Christmas and holiday hootenannies, it’s all about the Friday Night Lights, as the wondrous Wall of Sound that is Holiday Express flips the switch on a new season of events, activities and jinglebell commerce in downtown Red Bank. The annual free outdoor concert commences at 7 pm at Broad and Canal streets; take it here for our feature story with the details on tonight’s festivities (including the return run of the Santa Express train).DaveCicirelli-500x323

RED BANK: If the Town Lighting crowds aren’t your scene, habitual stay-at-homes can be both housebound and social — during the final installment of 2013 for Reckless Steamy Nights, the monthly series of intimate house party concerts presented by the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation inside the Woman’s Club of Red Bank (a.k.a. the old Anthony Reckless estate, Broad Street between Reckless and Leroy Place). Tonight between the hours of 8:30 and 11 pm, the JSJBF sends you out into the bracing chill of the holiday season, with warm fuzzy feelings kindled by Juke Joint Jonny, the Newark-native specialist in acoustic folk blues whose whiskey-stinging/ whiskey-smooth style can make an inviting roadhouse out of the most stately old manor. It’s a special “Dennis’ 60th Birthday Party,” and it’s BYOB, with a $10 donation requested at the door (proceeds benefit the JSJBF scholarship programs); call (732)933-1984 for more info.

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middletown-town-hallBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Now that the Middletown township committee’s gotten the cooperation it asked from the library board, in the way of a half-million dollar transfer to the budget, the pressure now rests on negotiations with six unions to come to an agreement that officials hope will save jobs.

In any case, the committee, unlike last year, will have its budget ready in a timely manner.

Also unlike last year, it won’t be going to Trenton for approval to exceed the tax cap, Mayor Tony Fiore said Monday.

“The budget will comply with the two-percent property tax cap,” he said, offering April 4 as the official date for the budget’s introduction.

Among the last hurdles to be cleared, he said, are concessions from unions.

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mtownThe library approved transferring nearly $500,000 to the township committee Wednesday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)


In order to help the township balance its budget and avoid further layoffs, the Middletown Library Board of Trustees swallowed a “bitter pill” Wednesday night and agreed to release nearly $500,000 in surplus funds over to the municipal budget.

The resolution, by a vote of 5 to 2, also includes stipulations that the library will be part of the township’s alternative energy initiative, will get its much-needed parking lot expansion and won’t be considered for transfer to the county library system — an option that was never possible anyway, said board president Randall Gabrielan, who voted against the agreement that stemmed from weeks’ worth of negotiations, which he called “dictatoral.”

“I’m sad to say the result of the negotiations was extremely disappointing,” he said.

Yet, after more discussion among the board, and some tweaking to the agreement, Gabrielan, who earlier made a failed proposal to transfer just $250,000 to the town, was joined by only one other board member, vice president Greg Milne, in opposition to transferring $499,974 from the library’s $1.2 million surplus to the township.

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mtown-libLibrary officials will meet with the town today to try and hammer out an agreement to help balance Middletown’s budget. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)


Officials from both sides of Middletown’s Great Library Debate will get going on discussions today aimed at possibly allowing the township to balance its budget with a chunk of the library’s $1.2 million surplus.

Elected officials and library representatives, in somewhat clenched-teeth fashion, said Tuesday night they hope to come to an amicable solution to an impasse that last week descended into personal attacks.

Just a week removed from a painstaking public meeting at the library last week, where lines were drawn between the two entities with accusations and factual disputes, the topic was still bubbling Tuesday night, as residents took their turns at a township committee meeting to get their comments on the record and ask more questions about the committee’s request for the library board to hand over nearly $900,000 of its surplus to avert another wave of layoffs.

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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)


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.

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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.

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mtown-cruiserThe axe may fall if the PBA doesn’t make significant concessions, the township committee said. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)


Faced with the state’s new two-percent property tax cap and a drastic revenue shortfall, Middletown’s township committee has drafted what Mayor Tony Fiore calls a “doomsday scenario,” which includes laying off 10 police officers and effectively dismantling the town’s recreation department.

“It’s not news we like to share,” Fiore said of the plan, filed with the state Civil Service Commission on Friday, which anticipates the elimination of some 26 jobs.

Layoffs could take effect as soon as April, Fiore said, if the committee doesn’t get significant concessions from the library board and the handful of unions that represent township employees.

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