SEA BRIGHT: DONOVAN’S REBUILD BEGINS

donovan's 052616donovan's 071015 3Obliterated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and revived last summer as an open-air bar (seen at right), Sea Bright’s Donovan’s Reef is finally on track to having a permanent home again, NJ.com reports. The oceanfront watering hole is two weeks into a construction project that’s estimated to take about 10 months, the news site reports.

“I’m looking forward to the return of a Donovan’s that, like the rest of the new Seas Bright, is built to last,” Mayor Dina Long told NJ.com. “Donovan’s is an integral piece of the Sea Bright fabric. Without Donovan’s in Sea Bright, it feels like something’s missing.” (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

 

RED BANK: COUPLE CHARGED IN SANDY FRAUD

Susan-Avellini 042016 James-Avellini 042016A Red Bank couple was charged with criminal fraud in connection with federal relief funds for victims of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the New Jersey Attorney General’s office announced Wednesday.

James Avellini, 67, and Susan Horty-Avellini, 65, seen at right, were among seven defendants charged with filing fraudulent applications for relief monies, the state alleged.

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SEA BRIGHT: DONOVAN’S TIKI BAR REOPENS

donovan's 071015 3With new access ramps over the sea wall, the restored tiki bar at Donovan’s was back in business Friday afternoon, as co-owner Chris Bowler announced via the signboard, below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

donovan's 071015 1Thirty-two months after it was knocked cold by Hurricane Sandy, a Sea Bright watering hole stirred back to life in limited form Friday afternoon.

Employees of Donovan’s Reef, which had been a magnet to Wall Street millionaires and Side Street store clerks alike, threw open a fenced gate to its beachfront tiki bar shortly before 3 p.m., marking the end of a long, frustrating struggle, its owners said.

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RED BANK: WILLIAMS’ STORY NOT IMPROBABLE

brian williams 121612NBC News anchor Brian Williams onstage at the Count Basie Theatre in December, 2012. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Was news anchor Brian Williams robbed at gunpoint while selling Christmas trees in Red Bank in the late 1970s, as he has repeatedly claimed – including once before a packed house at the Count Basie Theatre?

That question, and some speculation by local old-timers, threw fuel on an already-raging firestorm about the truthfulness of the NBC News helmsman and former Middletown resident, who was later suspended by the network earlier this month for misrepresenting facts about an incident in Iraq.

Brian Donohue, an nj.com writer and commentator, did some legwork on the Red Bank piece of the story. And while he and his colleagues failed to unearth any specific evidence supporting Williams’ claim, he found plenty to refute the rose-colored reminiscences of locals who said it could not have happened because stuff like that just didn’t happen in Red Bank in the 1970s.

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STEWART RIPS MEDIA’S WILLIAMS REAX

On Monday night’s edition of the Daily Show, Red Banker Jon Stewart weighed in on the controversy over NBC News anchor Brian Williams, whose embellished account of an incident early in the Iraq war has drawn widespread media scrutiny. Stewart did not comment directly on a claim by Williams, a former Middletown resident, of having once been robbed at gunpoint in Red Bank, which he made to Stewart himself onstage at a Count Basie Theatre fundraiser in December, 2012. (Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: WILLIAMS’ MUGGING STORY A LIE?

williams stewart 2 121612NBC News anchor Brian Williams, left, onstage with comedian Jon Stewart at the Count Basie Theatre in December, 2012. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Was news anchor Brian Williams robbed at gunpoint while selling Christmas trees in Red Bank in the late 1970s?

The big-money network newsman, who’s in hot water for claiming he was in a helicopter that was hit by enemy fire in Iraq a dozen years ago, claims that he was mugged one night at what’s now known as Veterans Park, at the junction of West Front Street and Riverside Avenue.

But some area residents think the story is bunk, according to a report by the New York Post Saturday.

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SEA BRIGHT: EX-MAYOR MAY GET FIRE STATION

sb fire house 040114 2Two fire trucks have been relocated out of town and another sits beneath a tent since the firehouse, in the background, was condemned. Former Mayor Jo-Ann Kalaka-Adams, below. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

jo-ann-kalaka-adamsLast we heard from former Sea Bright Mayor Jo-Ann Kalaka Adams, she had just failed to relcaim her old job after an election race that turned in part on property taxes she owed the town.

Fast-forward to now. Kalaka-Adams may start collecting $4,500 a month in rent from the borough for a vacant lot, even though she owes the town $40,000 in overdue property taxes, according to the Asbury Park Press.

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SEA BRIGHT: MCLOONE’S OK’D TO REBUILD

sb mcloone's 110512McLoone’s Rum Runner in Sea Bright, destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, will be rebuilt at its Ocean Avenue location abutting the Shrewsbury River and reopen before summer 2015, according to a report by Word On the Shore. Under plans approved by the planning board last week, the new version of the restaurant will be elevated 10 feet, according to the report. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RUMSON: MAN ADMITS POST-SANDY FRAUD

frank leweryA New York man admitted in court Monday that he defrauded Rumson homeowners of money intended to cover repairs to their home damaged by Hurricane Sandy, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s office said.

Frank Lewery, 52, of the Tottenville section of Staten Island, pleaded guilty in Superior Court in Freehold to one count of third degree theft and one count of failing to register with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.

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SEA BRIGHT CELEBRATES COMMUNITY

Dozens of Sea Bright residents gathered for a potluck supper at the firehouse to mark the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy Tuesday night. After sunset, with an onshore breeze whipping the flames like like a flag, they gathered around a beach bonfire next to the ocean that had risen to swamp their town. When Governor Chris Christie arrived, they encircled him, posing with him and getting his autograph. And all night long, they took turns writing messages on a ‘Canvas of Hope.’  (Photos by John T. Ward.)

SEA BRIGHT: ANJELICA’S REOPENS

anJelica's 101113Workers putting finishing touches on the restaurant’s interior last week. Owner Ray Lena, below. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

ray lena 101113Nearly a year after it was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, another of Sea Bright’s stalwart businesses is set to reopen Wednesday night.

“Did I think it would be a year?” said Anjelica‘s owner Ray Lena, while overseeing the installation of a rustic shelf and dealing with a stream of contractors and vendors. “Sometimes, I thought it would be never.”

It was a year of waiting, dealing with the bureaucracies of FEMA and insurance, and four or five months of construction, said Lena, a former sportswriter who opened the restaurant, named for his daughter, 17 years ago.

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SEA BRIGHT TO TAKE IT BACK TO THE BEACH

sb mount sandy 3 112112‘Mount Sandy’ and the small mountain of storm debris are gone from the beach, where Sea Brighters will gather on October 29. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

How does one mark the anniversary of a once-in-a-lifetime storm that destroyed one’s home or business?

In Sea Bright, residents and merchants will note the year-ago devastation of Hurricane Sandy on October 29 with a quiet potluck dinner and a bonfire on the beach to demonstrate their own resilience and determination to recover, recreation director Kathy Morris tells redbankgreen.

“It’s going to be very low-key,” Morris said, “just a place for us to meet, greet and chat.”

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SEA BRIGHT: ANOTHER RESTAURANT REOPENS

Yumi restaurant on Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright is now back in business, adding to the growing list of stores coming back on line in the hurricane-battered borough. The eatery features sushi and “neo-Asian” cuisine. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

SEA BRIGHT: A PARTIAL START TO SUMMER

Contractors swarming Chapel Beach Club in Sea Bright on Thursday. Below, a lifeguard boat at the ready at Surfider Beach Club. (Photos by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Seven months after Hurricane Sandy slammed ashore, Sea Bright enters the summer of 2013 far from fully recovered, with many buildings and storefronts still boarded up or demolished.

But there is ample evidence of rebuilding, and hope in the air, as the weather warms and more and more people begin to show up at the shore community.

“For all our losses, we managed to keep our customers,” said Frank Bain, owner of Bain’s Hardware, one of the first businesses on Ocean Avenue to reopen after the hurricane. “Business has been steady since we opened our doors. It’s safe to say the shop is back to normal. We’re here, and we’re ready for the upcoming season.”

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SEA BRIGHT: PARTY OUT BACK

The Mad Hatter in better days, above. The owners plan to revive the tiki bar out back next week. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

The people who run the Mad Hatter – a sports bar/restaurant that’s practically synonymous with downtown Sea Bright – knew they had to do something to get open.

With the borough’s first post-Sandy summer quickly approaching and their oceanside establishment still unusable, they knew that they couldn’t risk going an entire season without opening their doors for loyal locals and Shore visitors.

So they decided to improvise. Twice.

Now, after a stalled attempt to reopen under a tent on the municipal parking lot, owner Scott Kelly and his brother Michael have a plan they say will allow the Mad Hatter to come back in time for Memorial Day.

“What we’ve done is effectively turned the back of the building into the front, in a way,” Michael Kelly, the manager, told redbankgreen,

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FAIR TO LIGHT UP SEA BRIGHT AGAIN

Undaunted by the damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy, the Sea Bright Firemen’s Fair returns this week. (Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

For residents of Sea Bright – many of whom remain displaced post-Hurricane Sandy – the sight of the flashing lights of a Ferris wheel shining through the air of their recovering community will mean more than just music, games and funnel cake when the Firemen’s Fair comes to town later this week.

 This year, it will be another sign that things are slowly returning to normal in the small beachside borough.

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SEA BRIGHT: MAD HATTER TO REOPEN MAY 23

The Mad Hatter has given up on a proposal to operate out of a tent and plans to reopen a portion of its storm-damaged building. Below, beer bottles seen through the restaurant window last month.  (Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Dropping a controversial proposal to operate out of a large tent for the summer, Sea Bright’s Mad Hatter plans to reopen this month in its original, storm-whacked location, according to an announcement Wednesday afternoon.

In a Facebook post, owners Scott and Amy Kelly said the popular sports bar is scheduled to reopen May 23, operating out of the Ocean Avenue structure’s back room and tiki bar, supplemented for the summer by a mobile kitchen.

The earlier proposal, made to borough officials just last month, called for a 400-person tent to be erected at the edge of the municipal parking two blocks away, and faced an array of red tape involving state and local agencies. Some other downtown merchants opposed the plan, which they said would eat up too much public parking.

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SEA BRIGHT: STORM-TOSSED TREASURES

Frank Torock scanning the beach in Sea Bright for hidden metal last month. (Photos by Dan Natale. Click to enlarge)

By DAN NATALE

The beaches of Sea Bright have been given a makeover in more ways than one since Hurricane Sandy. The shift in landscape has attracted a fresh raft of hobbyists.

They’re hard to miss: walking slowly, heads down, sweeping metal detectors over the sand in the hopes of finding some storm-churned treasure.

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SEA BRIGHT: HARRY’S CLAWS ITS WAY BACK

Lou Jacoubs in the restaurant’s dining room Tuesday. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Another Sea Bright staple gets back in action when Harry’s Lobster House reopens Wednesday night, the first restaurant in the downtown district to do so since Hurricane Sandy.

Owner Lou Jacoubs took redbankgreen inside his newly restored and renovated restaurant, located in the heart the Ocean Avenue strip, for a sneak peek at what loyal customers and curious newcomers can expect from the “new and improved” Harry’s.

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JON STEWART AND BRIAN WILLIAMS SLING IT

News anchor Brian Williams, left, and comedian Jon Stewart traded barbs on the stage of the Count Basie Theatre in a fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy relief. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Long on sarcasm, feigned eye-rolling and Jersey love, the hosts of the nation’s top-rated television shows in their respective categories traded zingers in a conversation about the media, politics and growing up in the Garden State before a packed Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank Sunday night.

In a sparring mood that might have been a continuation of their pre-show dinner at the nearby Broadway Diner, The Daily Show host Jon Stewart and NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams traded insights into their jobs and flashing wit for two hours and 20 minutes, including a Q&A session with the audience.

“Thank you for dropping the F bomb 41 seconds into this,” Williams said to Stewart, who sniped that Williams’ job entailed his being removed from a “vegetable crisper” just in time for each night’s news broadcast.

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