RED BANK: LIBRARY DIRECTOR CHECKS OUT

Red Bank library staff and patrons held a sendoff party last week for the retirement of director Elizabeth McDermott, seen above speaking with public utilities director Cliff Keen.

Monmouth County Freeholder John  Curley, a former Red Bank councilman, presented McDermott with a county proclamation recognizing her for, among other accomplishments, leading the library through the most turbulent period in its 81-year history.

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RED BANK: LIBRARY DIRECTOR TO RETIRE

Elizabeth McDeromott, center, at the 2015 Red Bank Mayor’s Ball. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Elizabeth McDermott, who guided the Red Bank Public Library through perhaps the most turbulent chapter of its 81-year history, will retire at the end of June.

An ex-software industry consultant who changed careers well into adulthood, McDermott announced her retirement in the spring issue of the library’s newsletter, out this week.

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RED BANK: PRESERVATIONISTS CONCERNED

A website posting by the prospective buyer of two Red Bank buildings listed on an inventory of historic properties hints at big changes to come. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank preservationists expressed concern in recent days over the pending sale of two downtown buildings they believe have historic significance.

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RED BANK: DENMAN TO DISCUSS OLYMPICS

rbpl-090816The Red Bank Public Library hosts 1956 Olympic racewalker Elliott Denman, seen at left below with George Sheehan Jr. in 2014. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

denman sheehan 061414During the relatively brief time that Red Bank Public Library has been hosting its regular monthly series of “Author Talks,” attendees have been been given the opportunity to meet a fairly eclectic collection of scribes expounding on an equally eclectic range of topics — the subjects of books that the guest speakers have been more than happy to summarize, sign, and sell.

When the series resumes on Wednesday evening, however, it will represent a slight deviation from the norm, as the visiting writer — veteran sports journalist and former Olympian Elliott Denman — will lead an in-depth discussion of someone else’s book.

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RED BANK: INTRO TO CODING FOR TWEENS

kenny katzgrau 083113Web developer Kenny Katzgrau says even fourth-graders can begin to code after a bit of instruction. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

The idea of computer code may be daunting to many adults. But kids are quick to pick up on the logic underlying the dominant technologies of our time, says Red Bank resident and web developer Kenny Katzgrau, who will lead an Intro to Coding class for kids aged 10 to 14 years old at the borough Public Library this Thursday afternoon. 

The primary goal of the 90-minute session, says Katzgrau, is to spark interest in what can be a hobby or the basis of a lucrative career.

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RED BANK: OLD YEARBOOKS GET PIXELATED

rbhs 1956A screengrab of a “popularity poll” page in the 1956 Red Bank High School yearbook. And hey, do you recognize the graduate shown below? (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rbr gradHistory lovers and those prone to the siren song of nostalgia: prepare to fall into a rabbit hole.

The Red Bank Public Library has digitized the yearbooks of the former Red Bank High School and its successor, Red Bank Regional High, from a broad swath of the 20th century.

Forty editions of the annual known as the Round Table and, later, the Log, chronicling changes in hairstyles, fashions and media from 1922 to 1980, can now be downloaded, paged through and word-searched via the Internet, minus the musty aroma.

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RED BANK: MOCKINGBIRDS GO BY THE BOOK

rbpl bird 071414 4rbpl bird 071414 1A vigilant pair of northern mockingbirds have set up house for their chirping newborns hidden in a bush near the entrance to the Red Bank Public Library. Though library staffers cordoned off the bush with yellow tape, the adult birds – which the National Audubon Society describes as “strongly territorial” occasionally swoop down on  visitors.

“You might experience a flutter of wings on your shoulder or back as they try to protect the nest,” a note taped to the library door explains. “They have startled people, but not harmed them.”

The note includes this passage from Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird:”

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COMMUNITY YARD SALES RETURN

rbtys 050512 1Shots from the 2012 editions of the townwide yard sales in Red Bank, above, and Fair Haven, below. (Click to enlarge)

fhtys 050512 2Like blooming flowers and trees, the next two weekends promise riches for sellers and buyers alike in three communities on the greater Red Bank Green.

First up, this Saturday: the Lincroft Village Green Association holds its 10th annual Lincroft Community Yard Sale at homes throughout that corner of Middletown from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A week later comes both the seventh annual Red Bank Townwide Yard Sale, a a fundraiser for the public library, and the Fair Haven Townwide Yard Sale.

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RED BANK: TRUSTEES PAN BOROUGH BUDGET

barbara withers 032714Barbara Withers, a resident of the Atrium at Navesink senior complex, implores the board to preserve a book-delivery service for its residents. Below, board president John Grandits, left, with Mayor Pasquale Menna outside the library meeting room. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

grandits menna 032714A plan by the Menna administration to rewrite the proposed Red Bank Public Library budget and undo the recent layoff of half its staff got a cold reception from the library trustees Thursday night.

One or two of the suggested changes, such as leaving the soon-to-be-vacated job of the library director unfunded, appear to be “illegal,” trustee Brigid McCarthy told a packed meeting of library supporters.

Still, Mayor Pasquale Menna, displaying obvious frustration with what he called “drama” surrounding the borough’s recommendations, said the standoff can and will be quickly resolved, even if he has to take unilateral action.

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RED BANK: LIBRARY LAYOFFS MAY BE REVERSED

rbpl sale 2 020213The fate of jobs for three full-time librarians is still up in the air. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Red Bank officials said they are working toward a budget fix that might undo the layoff of half the staff at the borough library two weeks ago.

At Wednesday night’s borough council meeting, administrator Stanley Sickels said he and borough CFO Eugenia Poulos had developed an alternative to the library’s budget that might “maintain the full-time staff.”

Now, attention turns to the eight-member library board of trustees, which gathers Thursday night in what may be its best-attended meeting in history.

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RED BANK: BOARD DEFENDS LIBRARY LAYOFFS

rbpl board 022714 1The library board of the trustees at a meeting in February. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Responding to “misinformation” and “half-truths… stretched beyond their limits” surrounding layoffs of half the staff at the Red Bank Public Library last week, the library’s board of trustees is pushing back.

In a question-and-answer document prepared by six of eight board members and obtained by redbankgreen, the trustees say that personnel costs accounted for 95 percent of the library budget before the layoffs, which affected six of the 11 staff members.

The layoffs were part of a library “reorganization” that “eliminates our deficit, allows us to right-size the Library for the budget, and sustains the Library for the future,” the trustees say in the Q&A. “The solution implemented [at a board meeting following the layoffs] on March 13 was just one step in a much larger process that began in 2013 when it became clear that even with stringent cuts in expenditures last year, the Library was living beyond its means.”

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RED BANK: LIBRARY LAUNCHES FUND DRIVE

grandits primavera 111213audrey oldoerp 111213 3Dozens of supporters of the Red Bank Public Library – including children’s authors John Grandits and Elise Primavera, above turned out Tuesday night for a wine-and-cheeser to launch the Foundation for the Red Bank Public Library, an initiative to secure big-dollar support for the facility, which was once the home of uniform manufacturer Sigmund Eisner.

“The Eisners must have entertained a lot here,” said library board member Audrey Oldoerp, at right, “because this place was made for partying.” (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: TALKING SHORE FOOD HISTORY

schnitzspahn 1Author Karen Schnitzspahn brings her knowledge of local cuisine history to the Red bank Public Library tonight. (Photo by Rebecca Desfosse. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

It’s a Friday afternoon sometime in the late 1880s. A guy walks into a saloon in Red Bank. Which saloon isn’t important, because Red Bank is crowded with watering holes, but let’s say it’s Frank Clausey’s tavern on West Front Street.

Now, there would be a list a mile long of differences between his happy hour experience and our modern day experience of ordering up a martini at the Downtown. But two worth noting, according to Little Silver author and historian Karen Schnitzspahn: the women and the oysters.

First off, there’d be no women – “or at least no proper women,” says Schnitzspahn. Second, there’d be way more oysters on the menu, and they’d be really local.

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RED BANK: LIVING SHORELINE WINS REPRIEVE

The crumbling library bulkhead, above right, abuts that of the Corinthian Cove condos, at left. Below, resident Tom Labetti of Elm Place makes a point during the public hearing. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By SARAH KLEPNER

The tide turned abruptly on the Red Bank Eisner Memorial Library bulkhead issue Wednesday.

A $600,000 bond ordinance to pay for a new bulkhead at the site, and one at another Navesink River property, was tabled at the eleventh hour, after having appeared headed to certain approval.

The tabling followed defections by two councilmembers, Kathy Horgan and Ed Zipprich, who said they would side with environmentalists and residents who called for a “living,” or structure-free, shoreline.

“I think we need to explore the issue more,” Horgan said. “During the superstorm, any living shoreline had very little damage and self-repaired itself very quickly.” She also noted that  the Stevens Institute of Technology and the American Littoral Society had previously offered to create the natural shoreline, at no cost to the borough.

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SEA BRIGHT: LIBRARY TO BE RESTORED

Repairs to the Ocean Avenue facility were approved by borough officials Tuesday night. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

After months of public outcry, Sea Bright’s public library is back on track toward reopening – and it may get an assist from the Lincroft library, which was shuttered due to budget cuts earlier this year.

The Sea Bright borough council gave the okay to Tuesday night to repair its Ocean Avenue facility, closed since it was battered by Hurricane Sandy.

The status of the library has been up in the air since the October 29 storm, and the borough even tossed around the idea of creating a new library, housed inside a new beach pavilion building. But Councilman Read Murphy confirmed the council had “unanimously” decided to repair the beach side community’s library.

 “As the rumor goes, and as I said the other night, we are going to repair the library,” Murphy told those in attendance at a meeting of the borough council. “We’re going to out for bid on the property. We have approximately $70,000 to work with here.”

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ON THE GREEN: YARD SALE SEASON

Shots from the 2012 edition of the Red Bank Townwide Yard Sale, which was bustling despite periodic drizzles. (Click to enlarge)

Tis the season wherein one person’s junk becomes another’s bargain find, and the next two weekends on the Green promise riches for sellers and buyers alike in Lincroft and Red Bank.

First up, this Saturday: the Lincroft Village Green Association holds its ninth annual Lincroft Community Yard Sale at homes throughout that corner of Middletown from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A week later, on April 27, comes the Red Bank Townwide Yard Sale, a borough-spanning extravaganza of household goods recycling

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SEA BRIGHT: LIBRARY PLAN CRITICIZED

Borough architect Adler discussing the beach pavilion plan at Tuesday’s Sea Bright council meeting. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

A preliminary concept for a new beach pavilion in Sea Bright drew fire at its introduction during Tuesday night’s council meeting.

The plan calls for a two-story beach structure located on the former Peninsula House property, according to borough Architect Robert Adler, although the exact location within that property is still to be determined.

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RED BANK: BOOK SALE BOOSTS LIBRARY

The book sale, which attracted hundreds of shoppers Friday night and Saturday, wraps up today with a $5-a-bag promotion. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Delayed by Hurricane Sandy, the Friends of the Red Bank Public Library finally went ahead with the group’s annual used-book sale at the West Front Street facility this weekend.

According to the Friends president Beth Hanratty, the three-day event is designed to bring community awareness and support to the library as well as promote a love of books and reading in general.

“There’s been tremendous support so far today,” Hanratty said Saturday. “We have been thrilled about the turnout.”

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RED BANK LIBRARY GETS HUGE CACHE OF CDs

J.R. Ford, left, and Jim Willis roll one of several loads of CDs into the library Friday afternoon. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Several thousand CDs collected by a North Jersey man who had “heartbreakingly awesome taste” in classical music and jazz have been donated to the Red Bank Public Library just in time for a fundraiser for the financially strapped facility.

Library officials, who recently had to cut hours of operation for budgetary reasons, hope to put some, if not all, of the collection up for sale as part of the annual book sale fundraiser scheduled for February 2. In the interim, they’re looking for volunteers who know their Rachmaninoff from Rahsaan Roland Kirk to help sort the cache.

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RED BANK: CHARGING UP AT THE LIBRARY

Eriq Douglas, at left below, chats with other patrons of the Red Bank Public Library who were recharging their electronic devices Friday morning. Douglas said he’s “confused as to why downtown Red Bank is lit up and no one else is.”

The library, at 84 West Front Street, is open until 5 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. (Photos by Rebecca Desfosse.Click to enlarge)

LIBRARY TO FETE LIFE OF SIGMUND EISNER

Local-history librarian Elizabeth McDermott, below, with a custom-branded Eisner lightbulb in the second-floor New Jersey Room of the Red Bank Public Library, once the home of industrialist Sigmund Eisner. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

On April 15, 1937, the Red Bank Public Library – for decades an itinerant but growing collection of books and archival material – finally found a permanent home, relocating from a downtown storefront to a mansion at 84 West Front Street.

Three months earlier, the heirs of Sigmund Eisner – mass-manufacturer of uniforms for the Army, the Boy Scouts and other organizations  – had donated their late father’s mansion overlooking the Navesink River to the library.

The shared hope of H. Raymond, Monroe and J. Lester Eisner was that the house would provide a warm and dry place for reading, but also that it would function “as a bit of a museum, too,” says local-history librarian Elizabeth McDermott.

Next month, the library will celebrate its 75th anniversary in the house with museum-like displays that highlight Eisner and his transformative impact on Red Bank as an industrialist and philanthropist.

The event, says McDermott, “is completely about” Eisner.

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