NEW MAYOR JUST CLOSING OUT ‘SUZY’S TERM’

bob-neff-liz-halpin-091011Liz Castleman-Halpin, the late mayor’s daughter, with her own daughter, Noelle, looking on, expressed appreciation to Mayor Bob Neff at Felicia’s Kitchen last Saturday. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Bob Neff does not burn with political desire, which seems about right, temperature-wise, for the quiet little Mayberry burg of Little Silver.

A lawyer specializing in insurance defense, he’d been toiling away on the side for more than a decade in the all-but-invisible, and volunteer, state Tidelands Resources Council, which administers riparian leases and sales, when he was asked five years ago to run as a Republican for borough council in his longtime hometown of 6,000 residents.

He did. He was unopposed, and of course, won. Then he ran again, a year ago, and no one challenged him, again.

Now, though, he’s the mayor, having been sworn in earlier this month to complete the term of Suzanne Castleman, who died in July. And he’s running for a full term as mayor, with an opponent – independent Council President Dan Levine.

But Neff, a gee-shucks kind of guy who had to resign his council seat in order to serve as mayor, said if he loses the November race, well, that’s fine, too.

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LITTLE SILVER MAYOR CASTLEMAN DIES

castlemanLittle Silver Mayor Suzanne Castleman passed away Friday at 76. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Suzanne Castleman, Little Silver’s mayor and a lifelong resident of the borough, passed away at her home Friday night.

Known widely in town as “Mayor Suzie,” Castleman had been ill since the death of her husband in May, said Linda Goff, a friend of the family.

Her death came less than a week before her 77th birthday.

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LITTLE SILVER MAYOR’S HUSBAND DIES

d-castleman1A sign outside Little Silver Borough Hall recognizes the death of Donald Castleman, husband of Mayor Suzanne Castleman. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Donald Castleman, the husband of Little Silver Mayor Suzanne Castleman, passed away at his home Tuesday, according to an obituary in the Asbury Park Press.

The cause of his death was not reported in the obituary.

At 82 years old, Castleman’s death came just two months before the couple would have celebrated their 55th anniversary.

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HATS THROWN INTO AND HELD FROM RACES

castlemanLittle Silver Mayor Suzanne Castleman is calling it quits. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Monday was the deadline for candidates to file for November’s elections, and in the sleepy towns of Rumson, Little Silver and Fair Haven, where Republicans dominate and election outcomes are all but foregone conclusions, the big news is who’s not running for re-election.

Here’s a rundown of who’s in and who’s out in those towns.

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LITTLE SILVER TAXES ON THE RISE

little-silver-boro-hallLittle Silver’s tax rate is going up. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A year after declining, taxes are about to rise in Little Silver.

The borough council introduced its 2011 budget Monday, a $10.1 million spending plan that will boost the tax rate 2.6 percent, or 1.3 cents per $100 of assessed property value. At 51.1 cents, that equates to a $65 annual increase for a home assessed at the town average $500,000, said Chief Financial Officer Laura Geraghty.

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LITTLE SILVER HOUSE PLAN UP FOR REVIEW

parker-homesteadA plan to open the Parker Homestead as a museum is scheduled for presentation Thursday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The decade or so of renovating at the Parker Homestead is nothing when measured against how long it’s been there — about 340 years. But virtual dormancy has kept it from living up to its potential as one of Little Silver’s most accessible windows on the past.

Not for much longer.

On Thursday, consultants and historians are scheduled to give a presentation on the work that’s been done on the borough’s oldest home, and how future work will bring the homestead into a new age as a museum and educational center.

The public is invited to not only hear what’s happened at the property, but also give input.

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AILING LITTLE SILVER EXEC WON’T RETURN

helen-gormleyDeputy Clerk Helen Gormley, along with other staff in Little Silver, will pick up the duties of administrator Michael Biehl. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

As far as the payroll is concerned, Michael Biehl is still Little Silver’s borough administrator and clerk. But Biehl, who is recovering from what Mayor Suzanne Castleman called a “very serious surgery,” won’t be returning to borough hall.

“He will actually still be the administrator, but he has finished his active employment with the borough,” said borough Attorney John Bennett.

After 22 years, Biehl has stepped down from his everyday duties and is on terminal leave until December 31, meaning co-workers will have to fill his many duties by committee in 2011.

And that’s the way the council wants it.

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