If you’re at the south end of the Jersey Shore this month, stop by the Torche Galerie in Belmar. Many of the works on display last month in the gallery’s 2nd anniversary exhibition have been either taken down or sold. But it’s worth a stop to see the magnificent interior space—as well as to examine some of the art gems which are still hanging on the wall. The space is the creation of owner/sculptor Roddy Wildeman, who has his own workroom connected to the gallery in the back of the first floor.
Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty and Former Mayor Ken Pringle
Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty said, “Ken Pringle is like a jaded ex-girlfriend who won’t go away.”
Ken Pringle, who was mayor of the oceanfront borough for 20 years before Doherty took over in 2011, isn’t sure how many times he’s sued Doherty and the borough since he left office. “Four or five, I’m not sure.”
Both Doherty and Pringle, who served together for four years, are Democrats. Doherty was a councilman during Pringle’s last term as mayor.
At issue is the beachfront and money.
Pringle contends that Doherty and the Council are using the Beach Utility Fund to subsidize borough operations and to keep property taxes artificially low, in violation of the Public Trust Doctrine. Doherty says that while Pringle was mayor Belmar’s property taxpayers subsidized the beach and that Pringle raised taxes 14 years in a row. Doherty has not increased Belmar’s taxes since becoming mayor, keeping the borough’s spending flat at 2010 levels.
April is certainly the cruelest month, as T.S Eliot wrote. Spring keeps peeking out followed by rainy and cold days here at the Shore. So, why not cheer yourself up by jumping into the Shore Art Circuit as it emerges from its winter torpor.
New exhibitions are emerging like the daffodils in your garden. Last weekend at least two galleries held openings. One was the A.J. Dillon Gallery of Art in Atlantic Highlands with an exhibit entitled “Art in Nature,” a theme appropriate to the season, despite the chill. The other was held in Red Bank. The Art Alliance held a juried member show with two themes–“Contrasts” and “Personalities.” The curator of the show was Michael Burrus Johnson who had several paintings displayed in the showcase front windows of the gallery.
As I strolled around the small gallery gleaming with a wide variety of styles, Bathers by Miguel A. Fugeras drew me in. At first glance, the piece looked like a wood block print—a powerful rendering of statuesque tall women in black and white bathing in a river. But up close, it’s clearly a drawing, probably pen and ink. It’s an arresting piece that reinterprets the time honored, traditional theme of artists painting (dressed) women or female nudes at the seashore, ocean, or other body of water. Virtually all major artists from Botticelli to Degas have painted these scenes. But in tone and feeling, Fugeras’ drawing feels closer to Picasso’s Demoiselles of Avignon because of its angles and abstract nature .
Bathers by Miguel A. Fugeras. Drawing. The Art Alliance.
NJ Democratic State Committee Chairman John Currie, right and Vice Chair Lizette Delgado-Palanco
The New Jersey Democratic State Committee and five Belmar residents have filed suit in Monmouth County Superior Court alleging that the Republican candidates for Mayor and Council in last year’s municipal election, as well as four of their supporters, also Belmar residents, participated in a voter suppression scheme designed to disenfranchise vote by mail voters who delivered their ballots to Freehold via messenger.
The suit, filed as amended on February 3, also alleges that Monmouth County Superintendent of Elections Hedra Siskel instructed and/or advised two of the Belmar defendants, Joy and Carmine DeSanctis to alter, amend or modify their sworn affidavits challenging the mail in ballots. Siskel is not a defendant in the suit.
The Sperber family hopes to be ‘Home by Summer’ with the help of Belmar’s fundraising efforts
Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty announced yesterday that the fundraising campaign that he launched two weeks ago to assist the remaining two borough families displaced by Superstorm Sandy move back into their homes by this summer has raised $50,000 of it’s $200,000 goal.
The Keefe and Sperber families sustained significant damage to their homes and have seen the last of the state and federal grant money for Sandy relief programs run out while their home repairs continue to be ongoing and unaffordable.
“The response to this effort has been amazing. Support for these two families has flooded in from all over the country. The initial donations are enough to get contractors back working on these homes and more support is coming in every day. We are building the momentum these families need to get back home by summer.” said Mayor Doherty.
BELMAR – For more than two years, after Hurricane Sandy destroyed her family’s 14th Avenue home, Teresa Keefe, her three children and her mother have been living in a Lakewood apartment with relatives. Keefe shares a room with her 14-year-old daughter, Shayla, while her mother, Isabelle, and 9-year-old daughter, Alyssa, sleep in a dining room and… Read the rest of this entry »
Monmouth County will be losing an outstanding leader when Claire French retires this March. She has been the county clerk for many years and has always handled the position with class and dignity.
Being clerk is a difficult balancing act of getting elected in a partisan election, then having to work with other elected officials (of similar and different political parties) in partisan elections every year. French had the right temperament for this position, and she made sure her office followed her lead.
Campaign materials for and against the Belmar Bonding referendum. Photo via Thomas Burke’s facebook page
In a stunning rebuke to Mayor Matt Doherty who campaigned hard for its passage, Belmar voters today overwhelmingly rejected borrowing $7 million to rebuild two pavilions on the boardwalk.
Doherty told MMM this afternoon that he expected the turnout would be like that of any general election and that his side spent as much on this Special Election as they have in any general election. Doherty spent $10,411 in his 2010 campaign for mayor, according to his reports at the NJ Election Law Enforcement Commission.
Thomas E. Burke was a leader in the movement to force the referendum and in the campaign to defeat the measure. Burke told MMM that his side spent between $500 and $1000 and had a volunteer campaign team of about 20 people.
1,797 voters cast a ballot. 1,041, 58%, voted against the borrowing. There are 4,407 registered voters in Belmar.
Beck: Federal and State Agencies Haven’t Approved Drying Sites
Governor Chris Christie told his Town Hall gathering in Belmar yesterday afternoon that the dredging of Shark River is being held up because the municipalities along the river and Monmouth County can not agree on a destination for the dredge spoils to be dumped.
The issue has gathered increased public attention in recent months due to a massive fish kill in the river last May. 310 tons of dead fish were removed from the shoreline of the estuary that feeds into the Atlantic through the inlet between Belmar and Avon-by-the-Sea and extents 11 miles through Neptune and Wall Townships.
In answering a question from a man who identified himself as Bob from Wall, Christie said that he supports the dredging, fought for money from FEMA to pay for the dredging and would impose a solution on the county and municipalities if he had the authority to do so. He said he had been briefed on the issue three weeks ago.
Maybe the Governor remembered a briefing from a different dredging project when answering Bob’s question.
Both the Monmouth County and Neptune landfills are willing to take the dredge spoils, according to Senator Jennifer Beck. The river hasn’t been dredged, Beck said in a phone interview last night, because over the last two decades various federal and state agencies have rejected every proposed location for the dredged materials to dry before being moved to their final disposal site.
Doherty: We were in the middle in the worst natural disaster in the history of New Jersey. Taking care of people trumps accounting principles
Mayor says he will ask ShopRite to replace lost cards
Belmar Borough Administrtor Colleen Connelly posing with cash donations. Photo provided by Councilman Jim Bean
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office has found that the Borough of Belmar distributed ShopRite gift cards purchased with cash donations in the wake of Super Storm Sandy without following generally accepted accounting principles.
In a letter to Councilman Jim Bean dated July 11, Special Deputy Attorney General/Acting Assistant Prosecutor John Loughrey said, “There is, however, every indication that the cards were not properly inventoried, adequately managed or or appropriately secured at any point after they were taken into custody of the Borough of Belmar.” Loughrey’s letter to Bean can be found here.
Loughrey said there is no evidence that any one person or groups misappropriated the Shoprite gift cards.
The Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation on January 31, 2014 after Bean discovered a $9,050 discrepancy in reports of how the cards were distributed. In answering OPRA (Open Public Record Act) requests from Bean, Belmar Elementary School business administrator Loretta Hill reported that the school received $7,950 in gift cards while Borough Clerk April Claudio said that $17,000 in gift cards were given to the school.