RED BANK: STEEPLE STABLE, WEDDING’S ON

tower hill 110713Quick work by contractors and inspectors led to the reopening of the church Friday morning. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The landmark First Presbyterian Church at Tower Hill in Red Bank was back to doing the Lord’s work Friday morning following a 10-day shutdown triggered by a dicey steeple.

That means Sunday services will be held, dozens of students will return to their school and – most pressing – a wedding will go off as planned Friday evening.

The bride-and-groom-to-be, whose names were not disclosed, held a rehearsal Thursday night at their fallback sanctuary, the United Methodist Church on Broad Street, “but tonight they’ll be having their wedding here,” Tower Hill spokeswoman Karen Gyimesi tells redbankgreen.

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RED BANK: STEEPLE CRACK SHUTS CHURCH

tower hill 1 103013The 61-year-old steeple, which rises to 128 feet from the ground, has a failing timber inside, a church official says.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

tower hill 2 103013A cracked timber in the steeple has forced the temporary closure of the landmark First Presbyterian Church at Tower Hill in Red Bank.

Borough officials ordered the church and an adjoining school closed Tuesday morning after structural engineers could not rule out a catastrophic collapse of the 70-foot tall steeple, said construction official Stanley Sickels.

“In these situations, you either get to see it before it collapses or after,” he said. “There’s no way of knowing” what might trigger a failure.

The discovery prompted the shutdown of the Tower Hill School, as well as the relocation of Sunday services and community group meetings that serve hundreds of congregants and visitors each week, church property manager Rob Wallman tells redbankgreen. It could also derail a wedding planned for next week.

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ORGANIST ADMITS TO CHILD-SEX CHARGE

hot-topic rightA Red Bank man who worked as an organist for a Shrewsbury church faces up to five years in jail for his admission that he sexually assaulted a minor, according to a spokesman for the Monmouth County Prosecutor.

Kenneth Clayton, 66, pleaded guilty to third-degree child endangerment May 31 in state Superior Court in Freehold. The plea came to light after an inquiry Monday by redbankgreen.

According to assistant prosecutor Christopher Gambiccioni, Clayton admitted that he touched a seven-year-old boy’s penis while the child was asleep in Red Bank last September 9.

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ORGANIST CHARGED IN CHILD SEX ASSAULT

just_in1The organist at the Presbyterian Church at Shrewsbury is facing charges arising from an alleged sexual assault of a child, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s office.

Kenneth Clayton, 65, of Red Bank, who also serves as the church’s choir director, was arrested September 17 by Red Bank police and charged with second-degree sexual assault and second-degree endangering the welfare of a minor. A Superior Court judge set bail at $100,000, according to first assistant prosecutor Peter Warshaw.

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