T Brother’s Liquor And Wine – What You “T” Is What…

first_imgSubmitted by T Brother’s Liquor and WineBrothers Andy (left) and Mike Thielen own T Brother’s Liquor and Wine on Fifth and Plum Street in Downtown Olympia.There is no denying that we have more options when it comes to getting our spirits since June 1, 2012 when initiative 1183, privatizing the sale and distribution of liquor in Washington State, went into effect. And there is no arguing that we are paying more for the convenience with the new liquor fees. But why is it so hard to figure out exactly what we are paying at the register most of the time?We’ve all walked by the rows of alcohol on display at the grocery stores and we’ve seen the sale signs that say $9.99 for a half gallon of vodka, whiskey or the likes. But, have you taken the time to look at your receipt to see what you really paid for that $9.99 bottle of booze. If you answered yes, you know you paid $18.64 for it after the 20.5% liquor tax and the $6.60 liter tax is applied.  What if you decided on a higher end half gallon of gin? Say a list price of $49.00. After taxes and fees you will pay $65.65. Wow! If you are a savvy shopper maybe you’ve already looked at the fine print on the sticker listing the taxes and you’ve done the math. But, if you’re like a lot of people, you didn’t even notice the fine print listing the fees and taxes, nor could you make sense of any of it. You also probably bought all your other groceries and didn’t realize you paid an additional $8.65 in taxes and fees for the inexpensive bottle and over $16.00 for the high end stuff.The fact of the matter is, it’s not easy to know just how much you paid for your liquor these days, nor is it conveniently priced, most places.  “There has been a lot of frustration out there and we’ve heard it,” says Andy Thielen, co-owner of T-Brothers Liquor Lodge. “We’ve tried hard to make sure that our customers know what they are getting when they shop with us. What you see posted on the tag in our store is exactly what you pay at the register. All liquor fees are already included in the sticker price on display. If the tag says $19.99, you can bet that’s what your receipt will say. People don’t like to be deceived.” Then with a grin, Thielen says, “At T Brothers, what you T is what you get.”When asked if he thought it was a deceiving practice to hide the sales tax, Thielen said, “We tried it the big box store way for a week and our customers spoke up at the register. They asked us to list-price it on the shelf the way it will ring up at the register and we did.  So, don’t take my word for it. The voters who passed initiative 1183 don’t like being surprised at the register and have told us that it’s not right to list it any other way.”So why is the pricing so obscure? Why is it that the bigger stores don’t just list the price with the taxes and fees included? According to one patron we spoke with outside Safeway, “It is obviously not in the stores best interest to list the higher price because it would deter people from spending more money. But, it makes it hard to comparison shop when every store lists their prices differently. It would be a lot easier if the law would require every store to list their prices with the fees included.”Andy Thielen added a wine cellar after listening to many customer requests. The downtown Olympia store stocks more than 1,000 varieties of wine.Obviously, it’s our nature as consumers to shop for a deal, so it makes sense that stores would want their customers to believe they’re getting the best deal in town, if stores can bury these fees at the register, they are going to. It’s really going to come down to consumers understanding that the price they see displayed is often only a small part of the equation. Armed with this knowledge they can determine who really has the best deal in town.So buyers of liquor beware.  It’s up to you to do the math and know exactly what you are paying for your spirits, with fees included. Then you can truly comparison shop and recognize a “good deal” when you see it.“We are competitively priced at T-Brother’s,” states Thielen. “But, I talk to people all the time who don’t realize they are paying more at other stores than just the display price. Therefore they don’t realize they are rarely getting a better deal. It’s very frustrating, but we’ve made a decision to give our customers the straight skinny when it comes to the added fees.  As a local business owner, I have to look people in the eye and when I do, I want them to know that we aren’t trying to pull one over on them. We will continue to provide a much broader selection, a more knowledgeable staff, and display the price of liquor with all taxes and fees included.  We think that many consumers value this approach and appreciate that from there local liquor store.”If you want more selection and a fair price that doesn’t change at the register. You might want to purchase your groceries at the grocery store and then pop on down to Plum and Fifth in downtown Olympia to see what your local liquor store can do for you. But go ahead and leave the calculator at home, you won’t need it. The local guys have made it easy for you!T Brothers is owned and operated by lifetime Olympia residents Andy and Mike Thielen. Facebook9Tweet0Pin0last_img read more

Integrative Medicine and Seasonal Allergies

first_imgFacebook20Tweet0Pin0 Submitted by Hirsch Center for Integrative MedicineHere in the Pacific Northwest many of us are eager for the first signs of springtime. The longer days, sunshine and blossoming flowers, shrubs and trees are a welcome sight after a soggy winter. But for many people coming out of winter’s darkness means subjecting themselves to months of seasonal allergies. Come March or April each year, our clinic begins to fill with people showing sure signs of seasonal allergies: watery eyes, skin rashes, runny noses, scratchy throats and coughing. So what’s a spring blossom to do? Luckily, Integrative Medicine offers something for everyone.PreventionEliminating potential allergens from your environment can go a long way in minimizing allergic reactions. Prevention is one of the foundations of integrative medicine and is often much less expensive than other allergy therapies. Here are some ways to minimize your exposure to possible allergens.Environmental/Outdoor StrategiesAvoid airborne triggers such as, tobacco smoke, auto exhaust, pollen and synthetic fragrances and perfumes.When pollen counts are high – Avoid use of chemical pesticides and herbicides. These contaminants can trigger allergies and compromise your immune system.Indoor StrategiesConsider a HEPA filter for your home, office and car.A dehumidifier can help minimize mold in humid climates.Have your air ducts cleaned 1-2 times a year to reduce the amount of dust being recirculated throughout your home.If possible, replace carpet in your home with hard surface flooring. Carpet can harbor a number of triggers such as, dust, pet dander, chemicals and other contaminants.Leave your shoes at the door. Wearing outside shoes indoors can bring a variety of potential triggers into your home.Wash the bedding in your home regularly and use hot water.For sleeping, try pillows filled with wool. Wool not only wicks moisture making it a difficult environment for mold and mildew but it is also resistant to dust mites.Consider using allergy-proof bedding covers but avoid anything that off-gases such as PVC. There are several companies making wool toppers and covers.Toys, decorative pillows, throw rugs and other furniture can also collect dust. When possible wash or dust items outside.Use a vacuum that is equipped with a HEPA filter to reduce the chance of stirring up more dust.Use non-chemical household cleaning products to reduce potential contamination.If possible, keep pets outside. If this is not an option try to limit the space inside where they spend time, keep them off your beds or routinely clean to reduce the amount of pet dander in your home.Treatments that Address the Whole PersonVery rarely is there one simple explanation or cause for why a person suffers from allergy symptoms. Allergies are often a mix of environmental exposure, genetics and immune system function. All of our practitioners agree that if you suffer from seasonal allergies your search for better health must begin with an examination of your diet. Food can be used preventively and it can also be a cause for your seasonal suffering. If you have unidentified food sensitivities there are likely other ways they are undermining your health. Addressing these triggers can dramatically improve your overall health and well-being.Here are some ideas from our team of providers to get you started in addressing your seasonal allergies.Evan Hirsch, MDWhen possible, choose organic food to avoid pesticides.Eat a diet (or take a supplement) high in Omega-3’s (fish oils), prebiotics and probiotics (fermented foods). These are immunomodulating and anti-inflammatory.Take high dose vitamin C, IV vitamin C or herbal anti-histamines.Optimize vitamin D levels.Check for genetic causes. The DAO gene has been linked to allergies.Use a neti-pot with warm salt water and over time cold water to strengthen mucus membranes.Louise Boxill, ND, ARNPJuicing – create a fresh juice of local nettles, dark greens, dandelion leaves, beets, carrots, apple, celery, lemon. Drink 1 oz. at a time with a little olive oil. Blended in a smoothie you can also add local bee pollen.Homeopathics – Sabadilla is a universal remedy and can also be found in many blends.Anne Rhody, PA-CFreeze dried stinging nettle capsules.Xlear nasal sprayPeppermint essential oilAdrenal support supplementsLiver cleansing herbsHomeopathic pulsatilla and allium cepaHome remedy Fire Cider is great, otherwise Immune Strength essential oil from Native American Nutritionals.Rule out gluten and dairy food sensitivities and that a Candida overgrowth isn’t a root cause.David Lerner, EAMP, MTCMUse the Nasopure irrigator in combo with their buffered salt and a product called s-clear.Use a botanical formula such as, Aller-Res-Q and chew pills to enhance uptake.AcupunctureDoug Walsh, MEd, NTPDetermine if you have any food sensitivities. Seasonal allergies can sometimes be a symptom of undiagnosed food sensitivities. Talk with your provider about a food elimination diet.Stacy Hirsch, MES, ACC, CDWF-CMindfulness-based stress reduction techniques have been shown to be helpful in calming an over-stimulated immune response.Robin Aisha Landsong, LMPBotanical support can be beneficial for allergy sufferers. Understanding the attributes of the herb can help you understand how it supports the body and potentially increasing the medicinal benefit.Quercetin in Aller-Res-Q; Oak seeds are extremely hardy and are not likely to germinate if they fall on ground in a place where they cannot survive.  They will “wait it out” until a better year or location. So just like the oak seed is very tough on the outside taking quercetin helps make the outer layer of the histamine become tougher and not break open at the slightest bit of pollen.Kenda Stewart, LMPMassage can be helpful for rebalancing sympathetic and parasympathetic responses and help modulate an overactive immune response.center_img Wash hands after playing/working outdoorsChange outdoor clothes before sitting on your bed or couchKeep windows closed on windy daysLimit gardening, lawn mowing or working outsidelast_img read more

Saint Martin’s University Theatre Studies program presents “Uncle Vanya”

first_imgFacebook0Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Saint Martin’s University Vanya and his niece Sonya lead predictable lives, keeping their emotions buttoned up while maintaining a country estate and sending all the profits from their work to Vanya’s brother-in-law. But their daily routine quickly unravels with the return of the brother-in-law, a retired professor named Serebryakov, and his young, very beautiful wife, Yelena, who manages to trigger within the entire family hidden passions born of unrequited love, thwarted ambition and enduring hope.This is the plot of what many consider to be Anton Chekhov’s greatest play, “Uncle Vanya,” which will be presented by the Saint Martin’s University Theatre Arts Program in November under the direction of David Hlavsa, professor of theatre arts.Hlavsa has chosen a new translation of the play by critically acclaimed playwright Annie Baker.“Baker’s version of ‘Uncle Vanya’ really brings out the humor and the emotional depth of the play,” says Hlavsa.  “It’s reasonably true to the original, but it doesn’t make us feel like we’re watching a museum piece — the play feels quite contemporary and relevant.”Hlavsa adds that he’s wanted to do the play for years, but this is the first time he’s had a group of students who are right for the parts and up to the challenge of Chekhov.  “The actors really have to have a keen sense of comedy and irony — and they have to have the emotional range and intelligence the work demands.”Performances will run November 14 – 16 and November 19 – 22 in Kreielsheimer Hall, the performing arts building, located on the University’s Lacey campus, 5000 Abbey Way SE. Tickets at the door cost $12 for general admission and $7 for students, seniors and military personnel. November 19 is Pay-What-You-Will. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.brownpapertickets.com.Performance times are as follows:7:30pm, November 14, 152:00pm, November 167:30pm, November 19, 20, 21, 22For additional information contact David Hlavsa, Professor in the Theatre Arts program at 360-438-4345 or through email at dhlavsa@stmartin.edu.last_img read more

Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor & Convention Bureau Seeks Input as it Rebrands Thurston…

first_imgFacebook125Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor & Convention BureauOlympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor & Convention Bureau (OLTVCB) is working to capture the heart and soul of Thurston County to increase tourism to the region. The goal is to create a simple, aspirational and iconic brand message that connects visitors to area attractions, restaurants, retailers, hotels and events. Over the next six months, JayRay Ads & PR will guide Thurston County through a multi-phased process that includes research, outreach, messaging, brand identity and graphic design.What makes Thurston County unique? Share your thoughts in the OLTVCB’s online survey through April 4.“A strong, regional identity will help us stimulate economic activity that benefits local government, businesses and resident alike,” said Shauna Stewart, OLTVCB executive director. “We need a brand that is authentic, up to date and represents our future.”The first step is gathering perceptions of residents, businesses and visitors through online surveys. OLTVCB encourages anyone interested in the survey to visit it online and share feedback by April 4, 2016. Discussion groups and interviews with both internal and external audiences will follow.“Branding for the VCB is about creating a sense of place,” said Kathleen Deakins, JayRay president. “It is more than a logo. It is about leveraging what is distinct about Thurston County and committing to what we will make true for visitors every time.Photo credit: Ashley Berschauer.“It has been about 10 years since we have taken an extensive look at the perceptions of Thurston County,” Stewart said. “This is a good time to re-evaluate how the VCB communicates about the region as a visitor destination.”The research phase began in February. Brand messaging and identity work will start in May. By mid-summer 2016, OLTVCB will launch the brand publicly.“Positive travel trends combined with local product development and healthy tourism funding puts this region in an incredible position to make an impact like never before,” said Stewart.Rebranding Thurston County helps achieve the OLTVCB’s mission of strengthening the region’s economy by promoting travel to Thurston County.last_img read more

Olympia I-5 Bridge Work Reaches Halfway Mark

first_imgFacebook6Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Washington State Department of TransportationAfter a busy weekend, crews plan to return this coming weekend to Olympia where they will finish replacement of a northbound Interstate 5 bridge expansion joint.Although there were delays, the Washington State Department of Transportation thanks drivers who helped prevent major backups.Unless drivers again make plans or go early or late in the day, WSDOT expects I-5 traffic woes in Olympia will likely happen again this coming weekend. Drivers also can expect delays on southbound US 101 approaching I-5.10:00 p.m. Friday, July 28 through 5:00 a.m. Monday, July 31Northbound I-5 approaching Lacey will reduce to two lanes.What if drivers must use northbound I-5 in Olympia? Expect considerable delays with miles of stop-and-go traffic.Due to around-the-clock lane closures, drivers are urged to consider traveling through the area early before 9:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.Allow plenty of extra time to reach travel destinations.Real-time traveler information is available from the WSDOT app and by following the WSDOT regional Twitter feed.last_img read more

55th Annual Foofaraw Will Take Place September 8

first_imgFacebook32Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Thurston County Chamber of CommerceNow in its 55th year, the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce will once again partner with the Olympia Yacht Club to host local military personnel at Foofaraw, an event unmatched anywhere else in the world.After cheering military guests, participants gather near the new harbor security vessel.Always the first Friday after Labor Day, we will be shoving off from the Olympia Yacht Club main station Friday, Sept. 8.Foofaraw has gained in popularity with every passing year and is well-known throughout the United States Armed Forces. Yacht club members transport guests to Island Home, where the Yacht Club and the Chamber treat them to a full day of games and a terrific salmon barbecue lunch. Finally, local dignitaries honor the military personnel.The event averages two service members to every one civilian.For the last several years, the Port of Olympia has shown their gratitude of service to our military by arranging an unofficial send-off which includes representatives from local police, medic, and fire departments and always hanging a large American flag from one of their cranes.Boats are bid farewell by a contingent of local first-responders.One dictionary defines Foofaraw as “much ado about nothing” and, at one point in history the official “purpose” of the day, claimed that a “Foofarite [military attendee] has earned the right to say ‘Foof’ to all duties and responsibilities for one day each year.”Sponsor tickets for this year’s event are limited and available to Chamber Members only. We are collecting donations for the free military raffle that takes place throughout the day.For more information about Foofaraw or to make a donation, please call the Chamber at 360.357.3362. Thank you to our sponsor, America’s Credit Union.last_img read more

NPS Raises Sandy Hook Entrance Fee To $15

first_imgSANDY HOOK — A day at the beach at Sandy Hook just got more expensive.The National Park Service announced last week that it is raising the daily parking fee by 50 percent for Gateway National Recreation Area at Sandy Hook. According to the announcement the cost of parking at the park would go from $10 to $15.This increase is less than what the federal park service first proposed last fall when it announced a rate increase. At that time, park representatives said they planned to increase the fee from $10 daily to $20 for two consecutive days.Park officials invited the public to offer their opinions, and conceded to a request by U.S. Representative Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ), that they hold additional public input sessions and extend the time the public could submit opinions.At one of the sessions conducted at the former Fort Hancock site out at the tip of the federal park, area residents opposed the rate hike by an overwhelming margin.In a National Park Service (NPS) statement released last week Gateway National Recreation Area Superintendent Linda Canzanelli was quoted as saying, “The public spoke and Gateway listened.”Canzanelli acknowledged last September that about 95 percent of public input was in opposition to the proposal to raise the park fee to $20.Last year’s plan would have had the day fees go up, with oversized vehicles charged $40. Season passes were expected to increase to $100 from $50.The NPS will now charge $30 for oversized vehicles (those over 20 feet long), and a season parking pass for regular sized vehicles will be $75 for the season from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The season cost to oversized vehicles will climb to $150.“It is less than we were asking for,” NPS spokesman John Harlan Warren stressed. Warren also noted that the park service had abandoned its plan to extend the time daily fees would be collected, saying it would continue collecting fees only until 5 p.m., rather than 6 p.m. as proposed last year.Pallone, whose congressional district includes the park, objected to the plan last year, arguing that it would be a real blow for families with limited affordable recreational options, especially in the slowly recovering economy.“I think they were determined to raise it and all we could do is try to cut back on it,” which the public hearing and his lobbying of the NPS accomplished, Pallone said.“I’m not happy with it but I don’t know what else we can do,” he conceded.NPS representatives said the cost is still competitive with other area beaches.Warren said the park service abandoned the idea of a two-day fee because it presented logistical problems and would likely be difficult to administer. “There’s a whole layer of complexity that is there,” he said.“We basically told them that this two-day thing was a farce,” Pallone countered, explaining that park visitors would rarely have the ability to attend two consecutive days.The fees are for parking, so entering the park by foot or bicycle will continue to be free, park representatives said.This is the first increase the park has enacted since 2001 and the fourth since 1989, when the NPS established the fees.Along with Sandy Hook, the NPS is raising the parking fees for Jacob Riis Park, Queens, NY. There the cost will go from a daily charge of $5 to $10 for a regular sized vehicle.Warren said the money collected goes to cover operating costs and for upkeep and improvements to services and infrastructure. “For things for people to enjoy the park and be safe while they’re here,” he said.Sandy Hook Unit Coordinator Peter McCarthy said last year the park saw about 2.2 million visitors and collected $2.4 million for the season.last_img read more

Riverview, Bayshore Hospitals to Host ‘Your Body, Your Health, Your Way’

first_imgRED BANK – Knowledge is power. Riverview Medical Center and Bayshore Community Hospital are inviting the public to learn more about the latest developments, treatment options, and medical advances in breast health at a special breast health event.“Your Body, Your Health, Your Way,” will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17, at the Joan and Robert Rechnitz Conference and Education Center at Riverview Medical Center.The event will include an evening of education, fun, and exclusive access to the women’s health experts from Riverview Medical Center and Bayshore Community Hospital. Guests will hear from a multidisciplinary panel of Meridian Cancer Care experts, who will answer questions and discuss the latest news in women’s health, breast cancer prevention, and more.Guests will participate in a panel discussion and Q and A with Meridian’s radiologists, oncologists, genetics counselors, and surgeons, learn about nutrition, sample foods and recipes that promote breast health, and enjoy unique and exclusive opportunities such as custom bra fittings from the experts at Sweetest Sin Boutique in Red Bank. In addition, guests will have a chance to create their own pampered mammography experience.The moderator for the evening will be Dr. Mark Krasna, medical director of Meridian Cancer and panelists will include: Drs. Debra Camal, Peter Hetzler, Ian Horkheimer, Priti Patel and Bokron Won. Also participating will be Jackie DiBernardo and Jayne Murphy.The event is free but registration is required and may be completed at RiverviewMedicalCenter.com or by calling 800-560-9990.last_img read more

Creating the Shine for the High Holy Days in Rumson

first_imgBy Judy O’Gorman AlvarezRUMSON – Just as in many homes, when the holidays come around and company is expected, people spruce up the house and bring out the good silver to polish.At Congregation B’nai Israel of Rumson, a dedicated group, armed with chamois cloths, Q-tips, toothbrushes and silver polish, gather to polish the decorative ornaments that adorn the Torah for the upcoming High Holy Days, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.Members of the Congregation B’nai Israel silver-polishing committee, from left, Gloria Landy, Shirley Adler, Sybil Scheinhartz and Claire Keiteman, prepare the silver ornaments that adorn the Torah at Rumson temple.The Torah, the Scroll of the Law, is held in the temple’s ark – or aron kodesh – located along the wall facing Jerusalem. To honor the Torah, the scrolls are adorned and protected by a cloth mantle and silver breastplates and finials – called rimonim – which fit over the two rollers of the Torah’s scrolls. At B’nai Israel, two of the scrolls are adorned with a crown – or keter. In addition, the silver yad – which means hand and is a pointer – is polished.Gloria Landy has been part of the polishing team since she was president of the congregation in 1983. “The first woman president,” she says.Previously, the task fell to staff members. Since then, the group has gone through changes but a handful of members remain devoted to the twice a year ritual of polishing the silver. They assemble before the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur High Holy Days and again before Passover.The women – Landy, Claire Keiteman, Shirley Adler, Sybil Scheinhartz and Sandra Rosenbloom – have formed a cohesive group, hallmarked by camaraderie, devotion and pride.“The job has gotten easier over the years,” says Landy. Whereas the team would laboriously rub with silver polish cream, buff and then carefully wash so the polish didn’t leave black residue, trial and error – and a creative idea – has streamlined the process.Twice a year, before the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur and again at Passover, the volunteers polish the silver that decorates and protects the Torah.A few years ago, Landy decided to call staff at the Museum of Metropolitan Art in New York City. “I asked them how do they polish their silver.” If anyone would know how to take care of precious silver, she thought, they’d be the ones.Following the museum’s recommendation, the team started using Hagerty’s silver polish aerosol spray. Time spent on the arduous job was cut in half.When the Torah, with the newly polished sparkling adornments, is brought out from the ark and before the congregation, worshippers can kiss the Torah with the edge of their tallit – prayer shawl – or prayer book, called siddur.“The Torah is carried through the temple as well, for everyone to see,” says Landy. “We have the satisfaction in saying that we made them shine.”“I always tell people on the holidays: Wear your sunglasses, it’s so bright,” says Claire Keiteman.The ark’s clear glass doors allow congregants to view the Torah and its shining silver adornments, thanks to the hard work of the silver-polishing committee.“It brings a sense of satisfaction,” says Sybil Scheinhartz, in addition to being able to give back to the congregation. “The community is looking at it and it really stands out.”Rosh Hashana begins at sundown on Wednesday, Sept. 4; Yom Kippur begins at sundown on Friday, Sept. 13.For information on services at Congregation B’nai Israel, 171 Ridge Road, visit http://cbirumson.org.last_img read more

State Denies Red Bank Charter School’s Plan For Growth

first_imgBy John BurtonRED BANK – State Commissioner of Education David C. Hespe made known his decision this week, allowing for a sigh of relief for many in the community and delivering a major setback for the charter school community.Hespe on Monday issued his nervously anticipated decision, in the final analysis denying the Red Bank Charter School’s proposal to expand its enrollment and facility – a proposal that had become quite controversial and contentious in Red Bank.In his brief, one-page letter sent to the charter school’s board of trustees on Monday, Hespe offered little in way of explanation other than saying the state Department of Education (DOE) had reviewed the charter school’s request “based on a review of its academic, operational, and fiscal standing as well as an analysis of public comments, fiscal impact on sending districts, and other information in order to make a decision,” concerning the charter school’s plan. But based upon his review of the school’s request and information provided and review of the public comments, Hespe decided against the proposal.In response to Hespe’s ruling Meredith Pennotti, the charter school principal, offered a released statement: “The Red Bank Charter School is disappointed in the Department of Education’s to deny the expansion to the charter school. This is a missed opportunity to have served Red Bank and an increased number of disadvantaged students via the weighted lottery. We look forward to continuing to serve our students and families with a high-caliber education.”“It’s quite relieving,” said Jared Rumage, the district’s superintendent of schools, after being notified Hespe had denied the charter school’s proposal.Rumage had been expressing his fears about what a larger charter school would mean for the public school district, saying it would have a profound impact on the district the state traditionally underfunds. He regularly said it would be “devastating” to the public school district.“Certainly, the board of education and I are very satisfied with the decision,” Rumage said, referencing Hespe’s action.The Red Bank Charter School, 58 Oakland St., had very quietly initially sought approval from Hespe and the DOE to double the enrollment to 400 students over a three-year period and to expand its facility to an available Monmouth Street property that abuts the school’s Oakland Street location. School officials had maintained given the school’s ongoing waiting list for placement, the availability of the neighboring property and the state’s modification to the random lottery system that would give added weight to more disadvantaged students, it was an ideal time to undertake this plan. Officials said the expansion would be a benefit for the community, offering families a choice in public schools.When the charter school’s submission became public last December, concern and opposition began and grew as all waited for Hespe’s decision. Public school officials said the expansion would mean the cutting or elimination of much-needed programs and staff members for the district that has considerable challenges. It would also mean additional taxes for property owners to help meet the cost requirements of the expansion; and the expansion would exacerbate what is already a heavily segregated district, with charter school white students outnumbering the number of whites in the primary and middle schools.The local board of education has made these arguments in the past, even taking the charter school to court, alleging it worsened segregation in the public schools and had a detrimental impact on the traditional public schools. The board was unsuccessful a decade ago with both the state education officials and the Superior Court of Appeals rejecting the arguments.The public school district out of its budget supplies 90 percent of the charter school funds – currently at approximately at $1.6 million – to provide a thorough and efficient education under the state formula. The charter school also receives additional direct state aid.Amanda Vega, director of communications for the New Jersey Charter Schools Association, provided a statement that noted: “Commissioner Hespe’s letter indicates the reason for denial was based upon information received during the 60-day public comment period. The Christie Administration has stated a strong commitment to strengthening not only the charter community, but also supporting public education overall.”As time progressed, public opposition grew. The borough council offered its bipartisan, unanimous opposition to the plan. Mayor Pasquale Menna had convened a special committee to study the proposal and reported it would have “devastating” effects on taxes and the public school. (Some charter school supporters alleged the committee’s verdict was politically charged and motivated.)Red Bank RiverCenter, which manages and advocates for the borough commercial Special Improvement District, issued a statement that the threat of higher taxes to support the expansion could have a negative impact on business recruitment and by extension the entire community. State Senator Jennifer Beck (R-11) and the 11th District’s Assembly members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey, both Democrats, all voiced opposition, especially in light of the state’s continued short funding of educational aid. Just last two weeks Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-13), who acknowledged he is ideologically supportive of school choice, also raised objections to the plan.One community member who attended a meeting in Trenton with Harold Lee, the state’s director for the Office of Charter Schools, said Lee told the Red Bank group he hadn’t experienced such an outpouring of community opposition, as had been the case for the Red Bank Charter School.“I’m in shock, in shock, in shock,” said a jubilant Board of Education Member Ben Forest over the denial. “Based upon the state policies of encouraging and expanding charter school’s I’m very proud the commissioner of education did the right thing.”Menna said what he was hearing from those in the know in Trenton, the expansion was a fait accompli. But “What I think tipped the scales was basically the community coming together to speak with one voice.”Indeed, both Hespe and Gov. Chris Christie are on the record as supporting school choice. Hespe last month announced at a school choice conference in Jersey City, that the Christie Administration hoped to expand the number of charter school classroom seats to 50,000, from its current approximately 41,000, by the end of the administration’s term in 2018.The Department of Education recently approved 16 charter school expansion proposals and gave the OK for three new ones.“This is a tremendous win for the people of Red Bank,” the mayor said, “and for the public schools, which have done an incredible job making up for years of challenges and really creating a fantastic educational atmosphere for people to grow in.”“The sweetest thing in all this, as I see it,” observed Marybeth Maida, a borough resident opposed to the charter school’s proposal, “is the community rose up and the community spoke. And what a great feeling to be part of a movement that made sense and prevailed.”“It was the perfect civics lesson,” Maida noted.The charter school could reapply to the DOE again next year or even seek to appeal Hespe’s decision to the state Superior Court of Appeals, according to a DOE spokesman.This year seven of eight charter schools that sought expansion through the charter renewal were approved by the state; nine of the 18 that requested expansion through the amendment process – as was the case with Red Bank – were approved, according to the DOE. Correction, March 10The Page 1 story “State Denies Red Bank Charter School’s Plan for Growth” in the March 3 edition of The Two River Times mischaracterizes the position of Red Bank RiverCenter. According to James Scavone, RiverCenter’s executive director, the business organization was neutral on the charter school’s expansion plan; but expressed concern about what a possible tax increase to pay for it would mean for the current business community and for RiverCenter’s efforts to attract new businesses.last_img read more