ON THE GREEN: TOUCH A TRUCK — OR COPTER

092014 touchtruck19The kids are in the driver’s seat once more this Saturday at the annual Touch-a-Truck fundraiser in Red Bank, while Middletown Day offers an opportunity to get hands-on with a NorthSTAR emergency helicopter (below).

middletown-day-copter“Every kid stops and watches when a police car or fire engine races by,” says Monmouth Day Care Center exec director Heidi Zaentz — and this Saturday, they’ll have an opportunity to get up-close and hands-on with various trucks, tractors, and emergency vehicles — even an emergency Medevac helicopter at a couple of big yearly events that have become major fundraising vehicles in their own right.

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MIDDLETOWN 350: WITH A BANG AND A BEATLE

mtown-day-500x375That’s one giant step for Middletown, as the Moon-bounces are inflated for a Middletown Day celebration that caps the township’s 350th birthday year. (File photo by Dustin Racioppi)

When the annual Middletown Day celebration returns to the township’s Croydon Hall facility on Leonardville Road this Saturday, September 27, it will arrive with the tried and true trappings: touch-a-truck and petting zoo; food and craft vendors; live rock music and rock-climb walls; hayrides and flea market; soccer shoot-outs and bounce-house activities for the kiddies.

What makes the 2014 edition of the local-favorite fall festival truly special is that it represents the final event in the township’s Middletown 350 observance, a year-long slate of special events that began at the 2013 edition of Middletown Day — reinforcing the fact that Monmouth County’s largest municipality can trace its birthday back as far as the entire State of New Jersey.

Adding extra excitement to the 2014 event will be a couple of extended codas to the rain-or-shine, noon to 6 pm activities. A free concert by The Beatlemania Stage Show — featuring Middletown’s own Lucien Nocelli as John — will take place between 6 and 7:30 pm on the football field of the Croydon complex, HQ of the township’s Department of Parks and Recreation. Middletown 350 is given a slam-bang sendoff with a fireworks display at 7:30 — probably the last pyrotechnics show you’ll see this season — sponsored by Ice World.

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VANDALS HIT MULTIPLE MIDDLETOWN PARKS

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAConcrete steps at Tindall Park in Middletown were among targets of vandalism the last week, police said. (Photo courtesy of Middletown police; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Joy rides on newly sodded fields. Smashed steps. Portable bathrooms knocked over.

Middletown’s park system took some destructive and costly hits this past week as targets of vandalism, police said.

They aren’t sure who’s behind the thrashings yet, but they’re offering a cash reward for anybody who can lead to an arrest and conviction.

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PARKS AND REC JOBS LOST; TOP COPS SPARED

hot-topic rightBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

In a last-minute deal Friday, one of the Middletown’s two police unions came to an agreement that will save four department jobs, while the other got an extension through the weekend to decide whether to accept a deal to preserve six positions.

Meanwhile, a handful of parks and recreation employees retired and nine others were laid off after their bargaining unit failed to strike an agreement with the township, said Mayor Tony Fiore.

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M’TOWN MEETINGS SET TO KEEP JOBS, MAYBE

hot-topic rightBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

As the budget axe looms over 26 jobs in Middletown, the township has scheduled two public meetings in anticipation of coming to agreement with unions in contract negotiations.

That doesn’t mean the meetings will be held, however.

The meetings, scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday, are not so much a sign that contract resolutions are imminent as a routine legalities in case agreements are, in fact, reached and ready to be voted upon.

“If the unions don’t come back with an agreement we’re looking for, then the meetings will be canceled,” Mayor Tony Fiore told redbankgreen.

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