RED BANK: MURPHYS IN CLASSIC FINISH

Governor Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy powering through the last steps of the race, above, and before the start, below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Undaunted by a fellow runner’s warning that Tower Hill can be a killer, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy finished among the top 25 percent of racers in the debut Red Bank Classic 5k Saturday.

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RED BANK: NO LEAD IN WATER, OFFICIAL SAYS

al larotonda 011117Alberto Larotonda brought his ruptured water line, complete with a connector made of lead, to the council meeting. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Extensive testing of Red Bank water has found no evidence of lead contamination, despite the presence of lead pipes serving some homes, a borough official said Wednesday night.

The remarks by public utilities Director Cliff Keen, made during the council’s first semimonthly meeting of 2017, came after a resident showed off  a water service line with a lead connector that was recently excavated outside his Spring Street home.

“For more than 20 years, I’ve been drinking out of a lead straw,” Alberto Larotonda told the council.

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ON THE GREEN: HOME SALE PRICES

NJ.com published data Thursday showing changes in home values, as indicated by sales, in Monmouth County over the last decade. The average sale price the county in 2015 was $478,821, compared to a statewide average of $397,279, according to the report.

Separately, the news site published a slideshow on the 17 New Jersey towns with average home sale prices above $1 million.  (Click to enlarge)

LITTLE SILVER: RBR’S 1975 VICTORY RECALLED

RBR 120875A photo from the Red Bank Register’s December 8, 1975 coverage of the championship game, and a team photo from the 1976 yearbook, below. (Click to enlarge)
rbr bucs 1975

Forty years.

It’s been that long since Red Bank Regional was a state football champion.

On Saturday night, the undefeated Buccaneers (11-0) have an opportunity to end the drought when they face the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional Bulldogs (9-2) for the NJSIAA Central Group 3 title in Piscataway.

While the Bulldogs have racked up trophies — a win Saturday would be their third consecutive state championship — the Bucs haven’t tasted football glory since 1975.

But what glory it was. As reported by the now-defunct Red Bank Register, that season’s Central Jersey Group II  title game was something of an epic battle. RBR and Hightstown “tore at each other like fighting roosters” for four quarters before the Bucs emerged with a 46-44 win — their 28th straight victory.

The game is still regarded as “one the best games ever played in the history of New Jersey playoff football,” according to a “10 Things You Need to Know” about this year’s game published earlier this week by NJ.com.

Wednesday’s Asbury Park Press ran an article in which an RBR player and two coaches reminisced about the game — with a detour to Vince Lombardi’s grave in Middletown.

Below is the Register’s coverage the day after RBR’s victory, including an article by Rich Nicoletti, perhaps better known to some redbankgreen readers as the longtime keeper of the red clay tennis courts in Red Bank’s Marine Park.

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LINCROFT: FIRST AIRING FOR EXIT 109 PLANS

exit 109 042315 1C.J. Lagan, at right, studies proposed changes for exit 109 at the township library Thursday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

exit 109 042215 1A proposed reconfiguration of Garden State Parkway exit 109 in Lincroft drew dozens of nearby residents and commuters to the Middletown Township Public Library Thursday afternoon.

According to project manager Maynard Abuan, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority plans to spend $60 million on the two-year interchange rebuild, which calls for:

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LINCROFT: $60M EXIT 109 REBUILD SLATED

exit 109 042215 5The plan calls for the elimination of the problematic jughandle at Half Mile Road that eastbound motorists now have to use to access the parkway’s northbound lanes. Below, a 2013 schematic of the planned changes. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

exit 109 plans 042215Attention Red Bank area motorists: Exit 109 of the Garden State Parkway is in line for a two-year, $60 million reconstruction,  NJ.com reports.

Work on the Lincroft interchange at Newman Springs Road won’t start until 2017, a spokesman for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority tells transportation writer Larry Higgs.

But the authority, which owns the Parkway, is giving commuters a first look at what’s to come – including a new “flyover” ramp from eastbound Newman Springs Road onto the northbound parkway lanes to replace the dreaded Half Mile Road jughandle – at an information session scheduled for Thursday in Middletown.

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RED BANK WINS ‘GREAT’ DOWNTOWN VOTE

broad st rb 061512A view along Broad Street from 2012. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The votes are in, and Red Bank is the most popular downtown in central New Jersey, according to the state chapter of the American Planning Association.

In online voting, the borough outpolled Asbury Park by just 35 votes, out of nearly 6,900 cast, with Somerville close behind in the three-way contest.

The designation is another feather in the cap for the borough, which was named the third-best small town in America by Smithsonian Magazine in 2012. It’s also something Red Bank RiverCenter can leverage in its efforts to fill store vacancies and bring in shoppers, said executive director Jim Scavone.

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RED BANK: IS THIS A ‘GREAT’ DOWNTOWN?

broad st rb 2 061512A view along Broad Street from 2012. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

HOT-TOPIC_03What’s your favorite New Jersey downtown?

The state chapter of the American Planning Association is asking the public for its input on the question, and Red Bank is among the candidates.

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SLEDGER: FAKE-FARMER LAW NEEDS TEETH

A recently enacted state law aimed at culling ‘fake farmer‘ landowners “will eventually give local tax officials the power to force out fakers,” but doesn’t go far enough, the Star-Ledger says in an editorial published Friday.

Championed by state Senator and Red Bank resident Jen Beck – who won her seat in 2007 after a battling an opponent she tagged as a fake farmer – the reform bill signed by Governor Chris Christie this month goes too easy on wealthy individuals, developers and owners of office parks who took advantage of the old law to duck some $95 million a year in local taxes, the Sledger says.

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RED BANK: YOUNG ORATORS DEBUT

Twelve-year-old Akin Gaddis, a student at the Ranney School in Tinton Falls, reads Langston Hughes‘ poem titled ‘Negro‘ at the Red Bank council meeting Wednesday night as part of a presentation on the borough chapter of New Jersey Orators, a group that teaches public speaking skills to young African-Americans.

Zuri Mondesir, 10, another member of the eight-month-old chapter, recited a poem by Shel Silverstein.

The Red Bank Orators are coached by borough Councilwoman Juanita Lewis.

RED BANK: MORE ART, LIVE AND ON THE HOOF

The locator map for Friday’s Art Walk, and one of Gabriela Rusu’s paintings (right) in a show that opens tonight. (Click to enlarge)

Coming off Sunday’s highly successful roll-out of an outdoor art exhibition, Red Bank hosts two more art events this week, starting with one tonight.

That’s the opening of Dynamic Constructions and the Body as a Pretext, a collection of some 50 paintings by Gabriela Rusu. The Romanian artist will be on hand for an opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. at 25 Bridge Avenue.

Rusu will also greet evening visitors on Thursday and again Friday, during the next edition of Red Bank ArtWalk.

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PRESS: MEDICAL MARIJUANA CASE POSTPONED

The marijuana possession case against former Fair Haven resident Eric Hafner was postponed two weeks by a Middletown judge Monday, the Asbury Park Press reports.

Hafner, 20, was the subject of a redbankgreen article in January. He claims he has a constitutional right to use marijuana to alleviate the symptoms of debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder, even though a two-year-old state law allowing medical marijuana possession and use does not include PSTD.

Hafner, who now lives in California, vows to go to jail rather than plead guilty.

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COUNCIL: AFFORDABLE UNITS MUST NOT WAIT

Property owner GS Realty wants to separate approved projects at Monmouth, West and Oakland streets into separate lots, prompting the council’s action, officials said. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

With the developer poised to seek a zoning board OK to shift property lines at the proposed Courtyards at Monmouth project, the Red Bank borough council Wednesday night approved contract language aimed at ensuring that 12 approved affordable housing units get built at the site.

After a closed-door executive session, the council voted unanimously to approve a builder’s agreement that sets a timetable for the units to be constructed, holding out certificates of occupancy as a carrot.

“We want to be sure that the affordable units get built,” said Council President Art Murphy, who presided over the meeting in the absence of Mayor Pasquale Menna.

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FAIR HAVEN MAN VOWS FIGHT OVER POT BUST

“I’m not going to stop doing what I’m doing,” says medical marijuana advocate Eric Hafner. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Among those cheering at the Statehouse when New Jersey’s law allowing medical marijuana passed in January, 2010 was Eric Hafner, an 18-year-old who found in cannabis what he did not in prescription drugs: relief from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) brought on by a “traumatic, horrifying” incident two years earlier.

Two years later, however, the law has yet to be implemented, and Hafner is a facing a charge of possessing less than 50 grams of marijuana as a result of an early-morning traffic stop in Middletown in late November.

But even though the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act as written would not have protected him from prosecution had it been put into effect, Hafner says he will not plead guilty, as is customary in hundreds of such busts that go through the municipal court each year. Instead, he says, he’s prepared to go to jail to protest what he believes are the law’s shortcomings and to assert what he says is a constitutional right.

“I’m not going to plead guilty to using my medicine,” he says.

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CBS DROPS IN ON THE OTHER SIDE OF JERSEY

roccaMo Rocca interviewed Rumson Mayor John Ekdahl back during shorts weather for an upcoming piece for CBS Sunday Morning. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

New Jersey, it seems, is always on the defensive. There’s the ‘Jersey stinks‘ stigma, and while we have the small luxuries of pork roll sandwiches and not having to pump our own gas, the Garden State can’t quite get past the perception that it’s a dump with mafia ties and is a breeding ground for ultra-tanned, fist-pumping troublemakers.

In reality, all one really has to do is stop looking at photo galleries glamorizing the bronzed figureheads and TV shows celebrating jaw-dropping indulgence and take a trip to a place without a boardwalk or parkway rest stop.

Like, say, Rumson.

CBS News did, and on an upcoming Sunday morning plans to air a piece showcasing all this affluent community has to offer: shoreline tranquility, a bustling business district, horse-and-carriage rides, speed-boating on the Navesink — you know, the typical wintertime stuff.

But the story is not that CBS made this discovery a half-year ago, nor was it interviewer Mo Rocca‘s yacht club-ish outfit, a pink Oxford and baby blue shorts.

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POLICE PAY IN SLEDGER SPOTLIGHT

hot-topic rightSunday’s Star-Ledger had an eye-opening article on police salaries in New Jersey.

Analyzing 2009 pay data from police departments throughout the state, the Sledger concluded that

the average municipal cop in New Jersey is paid 80 percent more than the average resident, and three of 10 made at least $100,000 last year. In addition, police tend to be paid the best in small towns with little crime.

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CHRISTIE: NO TO LNG & DRILLING PROJECTS

sb-christie-2-042210Governor Chris Christie at Surfrider Beach Club in Sea Bright Thursday, flanked by his daughter Brigit, former Gov. Tom Kean and DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. (Photo by Tim Larsen; click to enlarge)

There will be no oil rigs visible from New Jersey’s beaches, and no man-made islands or floating pipelines to transfer liquefied natural gas from ship to shore under his watch, Governor Chris Christie vowed Thursday.

At an oceanfront beach club in Sea Bright to mark the fortieth Earth Day, Christie said that while natural gas is a critical piece of the state’s energy future, “for as long as I am governor, this administration will oppose any application for liquefied natural gas,” according to the Asbury Park Press.

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