Day: December 18, 2020

Christmas Parade, Hospital Appreciation At UPenn Princeton Medical Center

December 18, 2020

Team coverage by: Dennis Symons, Tyler Eckel, and Brian McCarthy

PLAINSBORO, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Firefighters, EMS, and police with over 50 pieces of apparatus took part in a hospital worker appreciation event tonight at UPenn Princeton Medical Center. Hosted by Plainsboro Fire Department and Police, many agencies came through to show their support for hospital workers.

Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, and even the Grinch showed up to show their support riding in the fire department’s ladder towers and were able to see hospital employees though the windows of the hospital.

This is a partial list of those participated:

Plainsboro Fire, Plainsboro EMS, Plainsboro Police Department, West Windsor Police Department, Princeton University Pubic Safety, Kingston Fire Company, Monmouth Junction Fire Comapny, Kendal Park Fire Comapny, Hightstown Fire Department, Little Rocky Hill Fire Company, Griggstown Fire Company, Middlesex County Hazmat, Princeton Plasma Physics Lab Fire Department, South River Fire Department, Monroe Fire Company – 51, Lawrenceville Fire Company -23, North Brunswick Fire Company #1, North Brunswick Fire Comnpany #2, North Brunswick Fire Company #3, New Jersey State Forest Fire Service, NJSP Aviation Unit, East Windsor Rescue Squad, Princeton Rescue Squad, Mercer County Fire Coordinator, Hopewell Fire Department – 52

Above photos by: Tyler Eckel

Governor Murphy and NJ TRANSIT Celebrate Major Milestone with PTC Certification

December 18, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today, alongside NJ TRANSIT Board Chair and Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, NJ TRANSIT President & CEO Kevin Corbett, Amtrak President Stephen Gardner, Federal Railroad Administrator Ron Batory, and Parsons Corporation’s Terry Fetters, announced that NJ TRANSIT’s Positive Train Control (PTC) system has been certified by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) as meeting the December 31, 2020 deadline for implementation. This major accomplishment comes after nearly three years of around the clock work, first to meet the interim milestone for equipment and infrastructure installation at the end of 2018, and then to achieve this certification for full implementation. When Governor Murphy took office in January of 2018, the project was at just 12% completion toward the 2018 interim goal for equipment and infrastructure installation.

“After nearly a decade of neglect and disinvestment under the previous administration, I’m thrilled that NJ TRANSIT’s PTC system will today receive certification from the Federal Railroad Administration,” said Governor Murphy. “Our commitment to meeting this deadline and ensuring the safety of every rider along NJ TRANSIT’s rail network is simply an extension of our overall commitment to delivering the world-class transportation experience that NJ TRANSIT customers deserve. As our post-COVID future takes shape in the months ahead, hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans will again turn to our rail system for their commutes and NJ TRANSIT will be ready to get them to their destinations more safely than ever.”

“The Federal Railroad Administration’s certification of NJ TRANSIT’s Positive Train Control system improves safety for our customers by using technology to reduce the risk of human error,” said Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “It took an amazing effort by our dedicated staff to complete this system on time, and I want to thank everyone who worked so diligently to get this done.”

“We could not have been successful without the hard work and dedication of the NJ TRANSIT employees assigned to this project, which was arguably one of the most complex in the country,” said NJ TRANSIT President & CEO Kevin Corbett. “Similar to the December 2018 interim milestone, we did what many thought was impossible. In addition to our employees, I want to thank our contractors (Parsons and Alstom), FRA Administrator Ron Batory and his team for their leadership and support, our partners at Amtrak, MTA, SEPTA and the many freight railroads – all of whom were critical to our success. Most importantly, I want to thank our customers for their continued patience and understanding over the last two years while we worked tirelessly to complete PTC and deliver a safer commute.”

“We’re delighted that NJ TRANSIT has been able to complete their installation of PTC and thank them for the focus and collaboration under Governor Murphy’s and CEO Kevin Corbett’s leadership over the past few years,” said Amtrak Board Chair Tony Coscia. “It’s clear that NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak share the same commitment to safety, customer service and growth and this stands as another example of how our partnership is delivering value for the public, even in these difficult times.”

“As FRA Administrator, one of my greatest privileges has been to oversee—and stand alongside—NJ TRANSIT as it fully implemented FRA-certified and interoperable PTC systems on its network,” said Ronald Batory, Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration. “I salute and commend the perseverance and commitment at all levels of NJ TRANSIT’s team to meeting this important deadline.”

“Achieving this critical milestone was made possible by the combined collaboration, innovation, and determination of NJ TRANSIT, Federal Railroad Administration, Parsons and Alstom,” said Chuck Harrington, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Parsons. “The team worked tirelessly through a global pandemic to ensure the safety of New Jersey’s rail network.”

“This is good news for riders and a significant milestone for NJ TRANSIT in delivering a safe and reliable system for its customers,” said U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, the ranking member of the Senate’s transit subcommittee. “Positive Train Control is a proven life-saving technology that can automatically slow down a train when its operator cannot or becomes incapacitated for any reason. Full implementation of PTC makes our rails safer and prevents tragedy.  After years of delay under the previous administration, Governor Murphy and the leadership at NJ TRANSIT deserve credit for making smart investments and prioritizing the completion of PTC installation in time to meet the federal deadline.”

“The full implementation of this life-saving technology is welcome news for the hundreds of thousands of New Jersey rail passengers who rely on safe and reliable service,” said U.S. Senator Cory Booker. “I applaud Governor Murphy and the team at NJ TRANSIT on this significant milestone and for their commitment to passenger safety

“This has been a brutal year for New Jerseyans and for our lifeblood transit lines. So it’s welcome news that New Jersey Transit will meet the federal PTC mandate I have championed to ensure the safety of our commuters,” said Congressman Bill Pascrell, who helped secure federal aid for NJT to install PTC. “Just in our region over the past several years, the Hoboken Terminal crash, the tragedy on Amtrak outside Philly, and the Metro-North derailment in Spuyten Duyvil show us the need for PTC because it can save lives. I thank  Governor Murphy and our transportation leaders for helping us meet this mandate during the pandemic. When we get our system back to full strength commuters will feel more secure in the safety of our system.”

“New Jersey Transit is one of the nation’s busiest commuter rail systems, which is why the addition of Positive Train Control (PTC) technology is so important,” said Congressman Albio Sires. “This technology, which is an automatic speed control system that has been around for decades, is instrumental to preventing tragedies. I am glad New Jersey Transit is on track to meet its mandated deadline and that the implementation of these common-sense rail safety standards are nearing completion.”

“New Jersey Transit has completed positive train control upgrades required by the Federal Railroad Administration,” said Senator Patrick Diegnan, Chair of the New Jersey State Senate Transportation Committee. “The completion of these integral upgrades will raise the level of rail safety for our riders and transit employees. These upgrades will prevent potential tragedies from occurring on our tracks.”

“Positive Train Control is a critical component of ongoing efforts to improve public transit, as this technology helps reduce train collisions, derailments and other accidents that might otherwise be caused by human error. Under Governor Murphy, NJ TRANSIT inherited a PTC program that was greatly behind and in danger of large fines come next year,” said Assemblyman Daniel Benson, Chairman of the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee. “Passenger and employee safety must and always will be the number one priority on New Jersey trains. I am pleased NJ TRANSIT has received certification from the Federal Railroad Administration for its implementation of this important technology. Congratulations to Governor Murphy, NJ TRANSIT CEO Kevin Corbett and NJ TRANSIT Board Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti on meeting this important milestone.”

“To have gone from the worst percentage in the nation to full compliance in less than three years while still running the railroad is a great achievement and harbinger for continued improvements to service,” said Assemblyman John McKeon. 

PTC is technology to enhance rail safety by monitoring and controlling train movements. Using Global Positioning System technology, Wi-Fi and high band radio transmission, PTC is capable of automatically controlling train speeds and movements, thereby reducing the risk of accidents due to human error.

In 2008, Congress passed and the President signed the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which requires the implementation of a PTC system on all non-exempt commuter railroads, including NJ TRANSIT. In 2015, Congress extended the deadline for full implementation to December 31, 2018, but also allowed FRA to approve any railroad’s request for an alternative schedule, with a final deadline of December 31, 2020, if the railroad demonstrated it met certain statutory criteria by that 2018 interim deadline.  PTC is intended to prevent:

  1. Train-to-train collisions;
  2. Derailments caused by excessive speed;
  3. Unauthorized train movements in work zones; and
  4. Movement of trains through switches left in the wrong position.

As a new technology, PTC required design, development, prototype testing, retrofitting locomotives and cab cars, installation of 326 miles of wayside equipment including radios, transponders and poles, as well as initiating PTC testing and employee training. PTC systems feature computer-based communications and information technology designed to improve railroad safety. PTC will complement NJ TRANSIT’s existing cab signaling system and Automatic Train Control (ATC) technology.

NJ Transit’s PTC system consists of three main elements:

  1. Radio transponders and other equipment onboard locomotives or cab control cars;
  2. Antennas, transponders and other equipment along the railroad right-of-way (ROW); and
  3. Computer servers and systems for the Rail Operations Center (ROC).

NJ TRANSIT’s rail system includes 12 commuter rail lines, most operating on tracks shared with other freight and passenger railroads. On the heavily travelled Northeast Corridor (NEC), which is owned by Amtrak, a different PTC system is in use. Although functionally similar, the various PTC systems need to communicate with one another. The coordination required to ensure interoperability with NJ TRANSIT’s five tenant railroads, including the two largest (Conrail and Norfolk Southern), added significant layers of complexity of the project.

Copies of the PTC certification letters can be found at the following links:

Letter 1

Letter 2

Letter 3

Neighborhood Reports Lead to Drug Bust on Cleveland Avenue

December 18, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Police Director Sheilah A. Coley today announced that on Tuesday Dec. 15, 2020, Trenton police detectives who were responding to neighborhood complaints of illegal activity on Cleveland Ave were able to arrest two men and seize dozens of doses of dangerous narcotics.

Davon Reynolds, 39, of Morrisville, P.A., was charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), CDS Possession within a 1,000 feet of school property, possession with intent to distribute, and possession of marijuana under 50 grams. Shawn K McRae, 47, of Trenton, was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to distribute, possession with intent to distribute within 1000 feet of a school, and possession of controlled substance paraphernalia.

The Trenton Police Department had been receiving multiple complaints about illegal activity in and around a house on 482 Cleveland Ave. Based on their surveillance of the property, detectives obtained a search warrant for the house.

On Dec. 15, 2020 shortly after 5:00 p.m., Trenton police detectives assigned to the Violent Crimes Rapid Response Unit and the Street Crimes Unit executed the search warrant. When the detectives entered the house, they discovered and seized 10 grams of crack cocaine and 73 decks of heroin.

“Many of our successful busts come from complaints given directly by Trenton residents who have zero tolerance for this kind of activity near their homes,” said Director Coley. “We encourage every Trentonian who has a similar problem in their neighborhood to contact the TPD.”

These charges and allegations are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. This is an ongoing investigation.

The operation was supervised by Detective Lieutenant Darren Zappley.

AG Grewal Files Lawsuit to Stop Misleading Fundraising and Other Misconduct at Service Animal Charity

Complaint Alleges Merlin’s Kids Raised Millions of Dollars Unlawfully and Made Suspicious Payments Unrelated to Its Charitable Purpose

View Complaint

December 18, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced a lawsuit against Merlin’s Kids, Inc., a charity focused on training and placing rescue dogs as service animals; United K9 Professional Inc., a related for-profit company; and the Bergen County woman who founded and runs both entities.

Filed today in Bergen County Superior Court by Attorney General Grewal and Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs (Division), Paul R. Rodríguez, the complaint alleges that Janice Wolfe of Wyckoff and Merlin’s Kids unlawfully raised millions of dollars since 2008 without registering Merlin’s Kids as a charitable organization. Their fundraising also included false and misleading claims about the services that Merlin’s Kids provides, according to the complaint.

“We want New Jersey residents to be able to give generously to charity without having to worry about whether they are being duped and whether their donations will be well spent,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Unfortunately, as this case demonstrates, not every charity delivers what it promises. We enforce our charitable fundraising laws so that our residents can donate with confidence.”

Among the defendants’ allegedly false and misleading statements were claims that dogs trained through their “disease detection” program annually screened thousands of people for cancer, that the disease detection program included analysis of blood samples, and that Merlin’s Kids maintained a partnership with a cancer charity after the relationship had been terminated.

The complaint also alleges that the defendants charged consumers for dog training services and certification programs but then failed to fulfill their commitments, and that Wolfe improperly instructed consumers that their payments would be fully tax deductible if they paid through Merlin’s Kids, regardless of whether Merlin’s Kids or United K9 was to provide the services.

In addition, the complaint asserts that Wolfe failed to properly monitor, segregate, and account for Merlin’s Kids’ funds, large sums of which were spent on transactions with no apparent charitable purpose. The complaint describes tens of thousands of dollars of purchases for hair styling, skincare products, and artwork, a $10,000 purchase from a Lexus dealer, and numerous large cash withdrawals and transfers to Wolfe, among other suspicious payments that Wolfe was unable or unwilling to explain to the Division.

“Charitable funds do not belong to those who run organizations, but to the causes they serve. Officers and employees of a charity have a legal responsibility to ensure the assets they are entrusted with are put to use in accordance with their mission and the promises they make to their donors.” said Paul R. Rodríguez, Director of the Division. “The pattern of conduct alleged in this complaint is quite egregious, including misrepresenting what the charity does and how it uses funds, taking money and failing to provide promised services, and being unable to account for the use of hundreds of thousands of dollars of charitable funds. By taking action to preserve the integrity of New Jersey’s charitable sector, we hope to give donors confidence as they approach their own year-end giving.”

Today’s complaint alleges violations of Charitable Registration & Investigation Act, the charities regulations, the New Jersey Nonprofit Corporation Act, and the Consumer Fraud Act.

Among other relief, the complaint seeks the return of money unlawfully obtained from members of the public, civil penalties, attorneys’ fees and costs, and an order stopping the defendants’ unlawful practices. The State is also asking the court to dissolve Merlin’s Kids, shut down its website, appoint a receiver, and permanently bar Wolfe from registering or operating any charity in New Jersey.

Deputy Attorneys General Stephanie Asous and Isabella Pitt of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section within the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group are representing the State in the matter. Investigator Brian M. Penn of the Office of Consumer Protection within the Division of Consumer Affairs conducted the investigation.

Consumers can seek information about a charity from the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. Visit the Division’s Charities Registration page or use the Division’s free “New Jersey Charity Search” smartphone app. Consumers are encouraged to report suspicious solicitations to their local police and to the Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or calling 1-800-242-5846 to receive a complaint form by mail.

New Chief Announced For Monmouth County SPCA

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A former Eatontown police chief has been named as the new Chief of the Monmouth County SPCA, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Michael D. Goldfarb has been named the Monmouth County SPCA’s new Chief of Law Enforcement, responsible for overseeing the enforcement of animal cruelty cases in the county.

Goldfarb, replaces Ross Licitra, who has been Chief since May of 2015. Licitra is stepping down from this position after winning the open Freeholder seat in November’s election.

“We want to congratulate Chief Michael Goldfarb on the new role. Michael’s enthusiasm for animal welfare, coupled with his extensive law enforcement background and deep roots in Monmouth County, makes him an excellent fit and creates a smooth transition to the role of Chief of the SPCA. We would like to thank Ross Licitra for his unwavering dedication to the position for the past five plus years,” Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni stated.

“Working side by side with Michael, protecting and advocating for the humane treatment of all animals in Monmouth County has been an honor. As I continue in my role as the Executive Director of the Monmouth County SPCA, Michael and I will continue this mission always remembering the importance of animal welfare” Monmouth County SPCA Executive Director Ross Licitra stated.

Goldfarb’s law enforcement career began in 1992 as a Patrolman for Eatontown. He later moved up through the ranks and eventually was promoted to Chief of Police in 2007. Goldfarb remained as Chief for ten years, until retiring in 2018, after twenty-five years of service to the community. In August 2018, Michael joined the Monmouth County SPCA Prosecutor’s Office Law Enforcement Division as a Humane Law Enforcement Officer. In March of 2019, Goldfarb was promoted to Lieutenant of Human Law Enforcement.

A lifelong resident of Middletown, Goldfarb still resides there with his wife and family.

Also promoted today was Michael Magliozzo, a 25-year law enforcement veteran who retired from this Office earlier this year as a Detective Sergeant. Magliozzo was promoted to lieutenant work alongside Chief Goldfarb.

Industrial Accident In Trenton

December 18, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Around 3:30 pm, Trenton EMS, Captial Health Paramedics and Trenton Fire Department responded to the 1st block of Woolverton Street for an industrial accident. Radio reports indicate that a man was caught in a machine and lost left arm from shoulder down. TEMS, paramedics and Trenton firefighters quickly removed the man from the building and into the waiting ambulance. Within minutes the man was rushed to the Trauma Center at Capital Health Regional Medical Center, a “trauma alert” was called. No further information about the accident was available.

Robbinsville: Do you want to cut the cord with your current internet service provider? Take the survey

December 18, 2020

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–With numerous complaints about Optimum Internet service Robbinsville Township is seeking to possibly contract with another alternative provider for Internet service. Robbinsville is asking residents to take an survey to see if there would be interest in the alternative provider.

Alternative Internet Survey link here:

As a resident of Robbinsville, if the Township had the ability to contract with a reputable outside vendor to deliver secure, 150Mbps internet service, which included in-home WiFi, to sections of town currently impacted by inadequate internet would you sign up for such a service?
The cost would be approximately $50 per-month, per-home all-in with no extra taxes or modem/router rental fees. (Note: The provider would only supply internet service, not cable TV). 

1.Would you switch from your current internet service provider to a new provider that delivered a secure, 150Mbps internet service, which included in-home WiFi, for approximately $50 per-month if you had that option?

From Mayor Dave Fried:

Tonight, I briefed Township Council about the possibility of bringing in another internet service provider to compete with Optimum/Altice since that is where the vast majority of complaints to my office originate. We’ve heard you loud and clear … and we want to help! This would be a private public partnership and it is outside the box thinking, so we want to move carefully. I don’t take this move lightly. but I feel we have exhausted all of our options. Assuming we get favorable feedback we will be rolling out more information about the company and what they can provide and when they can provide it. This company has an outstanding reputation for providing secure, 150Mbps in-home internet via Wi-Fi and outstanding customer service to its customers. It would cost approximately $50 per month, per household and it would be for internet only (no cable TV, but you would be able to stream on your Smart TV). We have been assured there are no hidden fees or taxes, and you would not have to pay extra to rent your modem/router. We will be putting out a survey sometime tomorrow gauging your interest in this idea in a Newsfeed poll, the Township Facebook page and on the website at We would very much appreciate your feedback!