Day: January 13, 2021

Mayor Fried Swears In New Councilwoman Deborah Blakely

January 13, 2021

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Mayor Dave Fried presided over the swearing-in of new Township Councilwoman Deborah Blakely today inside the Municipal Public Meeting Room. Mrs. Blakely, accompanied on the dais by daughters Maggie and Brielle, was selected by Council on January 7 to fill the unexpired seat of Dan Schuberth. Her first meeting as a member of the governing body will be January 28.

Police investigating “explosive device detonation” at Hamilton auto body shop

January 13, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP (MERCER): On January 11, 2021, at approximately 9:00 PM, Hamilton Police were detailed to 336 Rt. 130 (Absolute Auto Solutions), on an explosive device that detonated in the parking lot. Responding officers located two vehicles damaged in the lot towards the entrance of the business. Officers determined that a large explosive device, possibly a fireworks type device, detonated on the ground between two vehicles for sale. Both vehicles sustained damage from the detonation.

Police also received a few reports of a “loud bang” in the area.

Hamilton Police Detectives are asking for help from the public, with any information relating to a suspect(s) involved in this incident. Anyone with information may contact Detective Patrick Quick of the Criminal Investigations Section at (609) 581-4111 or via email at, or the Hamilton Police Crime Tip Hotline at (609) 581-4008.

BREAKING: 2nd Alarm In Trenton

January 13, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Sometime before 10:30 am the Trenton Fire Department received a call for a house fire at 824 South Clinton Avenue. First units responding reported a “column of smoke in the air” and upon arrival found heavy fire conditions. Shortly after a 2nd alarm was called calling more city units to the scene and additional firefighters from Hamilton Township Fire Department to the scene. Also multiple cover companies were also dispatched to the City to handle other calls during the firefight.

Firefighters and investigators are still on scene at the time of this report.

Trenton Police Department, Public Information Officer, Captain Peter Weremijenko, told this afternoon: The fire was in a vacant building and there is no indication that there are any victims. A dog was called to the scene to help locate evidence during the investigation.

Further details and video to follow.

Governor Murphy Announces All New Jersey Residents Ages 65 and Older Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine Beginning on January 14

Individuals Ages 16-64 with Certain Medical Conditions Also Eligible Beginning January 14

January 13, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today announced two additional categories of New Jersey residents eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Beginning Thursday, January 14, all New Jersey residents ages 65 and older, and individuals ages 16-64 with certain medical conditions, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that increase the risk of severe illness from the virus, are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination. Those conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, Down Syndrome, heart conditions, obesity and severe obesity, sickle cell disease, smoking, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Individuals who are pregnant and those in an immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant are also eligible but should follow CDC guidance and first discuss vaccination with their medical provider before receiving the vaccine. In addition to paid and unpaid healthcare workers in Phase 1A, these two groups mark the expansion of eligible residents in Phase 1B, which recently opened to include sworn law enforcement and fire professionals. 

“Over the last several months, our Administration has built the infrastructure and laid the groundwork to support New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccination demand,” said Governor Murphy. “Based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we are ready to begin ramping up our vaccination efforts exponentially and are confident in our ability to provide every willing New Jersey resident with a vaccine when it is available and they are eligible.”

“Expanding access to vaccine to individuals in these categories is critical as we know they are at greater risk for severe COVID-19 illness and death,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “Eighty percent of COVID-19 deaths in New Jersey have been among those 65 and older and overall 67 percent of deaths had one or more underlying conditions reported.”

For more information about statewide vaccination site locations and to preregister for a vaccination visit

For more information on CDC criteria for eligibility, please click here.

Garden State Equality Proudly Supports Governor Murphy’s Historic Appointment of Nation’s First Openly Gay Commissioner of Department of Environmental Protection

Appointment of Shawn LaTourette to Acting Commissioner of the NJDEP in Governor Murphy’s Cabinet is welcomed at a time when New Jersey has no LGBTQ legislators

January 13, 2021

ASBURY PARK, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Today Governor Phil Murphy made a historic announcement with the selection of Shawn LaTourette to serve as the Acting Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. LaTourette, who presently holds the number two position in the NJDEP, is believed to be the only openly LGBTQ person to lead a state or federal environmental protection agency in the nation.

“At a time when the New Jersey legislature is empty from any representation for the LGBTQ community, this appointment is welcomed and appreciated.  It speaks to Governor Murphy’s commitment to diverse inclusion in our government,” said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality. “Highly qualified LGBTQ people like Shawn are ready to step up and serve in leadership positions in the Garden State. With LaTourette positioned to now become Commissioner, he would become the second openly LGBTQ person included in Murphy’s cabinet.”

“Shawn LaTourette’s years of work at the NJDEP spearheading clean air and water initiatives as well as environmental justice and clean energy have established his as a ‘perfect fit’ in this position,” said long-time Garden State Equality executive board member Thomas Prol, an environmental attorney at Sills Cummis & Gross law firm and former state bar president.  Prol continued, “He is highly respected in the legal community, and his dedication to visionary environmental stewardship is impressive and why NJDEP is again viewed as one of the vibrant and impactful environmental agencies in the nation.”

About Garden State Equality
Established in 2004, Garden State Equality (GSE) is the largest LGBTQ advocacy organization in New Jersey and one of the most successful statewide civil rights organizations for the LGBTQ community in the nation. Our services include education, advocacy, policy work, and training informed by racial, economic, and disability justice advancement.

Governor Murphy Announces Shawn LaTourette as Acting Commissioner of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Governor Phil Murphy today announced that Shawn LaTourette will serve as Acting Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) beginning on January 16. LaTourette, currently the Department’s Deputy Commissioner, takes the helm from Catherine R. McCabe, who will retire from public service on January 15 having spent more than 40 years protecting the environment, including three years as DEP Commissioner. LaTourette will serve as Acting Commissioner until a permanent replacement for McCabe is identified.

With twenty years of environmental experience, LaTourette began his career partnering with the Erin Brockovich law firm to organize and defend New Jersey communities whose drinking water was contaminated by petrochemicals. Born and raised in New Jersey, LaTourette graduated magna cum laude from Rutgers University and earned his law degree summa cum laude from Rutgers Law School, where he was the class salutatorian and the recipient of multiple environmental and governance awards, and published scholarship on environmental law, natural resource damage, and climate issues. Before entering public service, LaTourette specialized in protecting the rights of victims of toxic injuries while also advising infrastructure, transportation, energy, and other industries on compliance with state and federal environmental laws and policies. Prior to joining the Murphy Administration, he was most recently a Director of the Environmental Law Department at Gibbons PC, where he focused on brownfields redevelopment projects and litigated environmental cases in state and federal court. 

LaTourette first joined DEP as chief legal and regulatory policy advisor to Commissioner McCabe in 2018, becoming DEP’s Chief of Staff in 2019 and, in 2020, the Deputy Commissioner responsible for running the operations of DEP while notably leading efforts to craft the reforms necessary to advance the Administration’s climate change and environmental justice priorities. 

A devoted advocate for equality of all people, LaTourette was elected to serve as Chair of the LGBTQ Rights Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association, completing his term in 2020, and will be the first openly gay Commissioner of Environmental Protection in the nation. A Middlesex County native, he resides in Highland Park with his partner and twin daughters.

Hamilton Man Charged With Three Counts Of Robbery

January 13, 2021

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–On January 13, 2021 at approximately 3:45 AM, Officers P Piromalli and A Lucidi were in the area of South Broad Street and West Park Avenue conducting passing attention due to two previous robberies at the 7-11 located at 2200 South Broad Street.  The previous robberies were reported on January 8, 2021 at 4:18 AM and January 12, 2021 at 5:12 AM where a male approached the employee at the counter and indicated he had a weapon in his jacket pocket.  He would tell the employee to go into the office and then go around the counter and take money out of the register.  The Officers saw a male approach the store that matched the description of the suspect in the previous robberies.  The male entered the store and walked towards the counter.  The Officers saw the male then go behind the counter.  They entered the parking lot, exited their vehicles and approached the store.  As the male exited the store the Officers were able to place him under arrest.  Officers located a black plastic tube in his jacket pocket and $105.00 dollars in assorted US currency that was taken from the register.

The male was identified as Frank Stephens, 42, of Hamilton.  He was charged with three counts of Robbery.

Anyone with any information regarding this incident is asked to contact Detective Pat Quick of the Hamilton Police Division’s Criminal Investigations Section at 609-581-4111 or the Hamilton Police Crime Tip Hotline at 609-581-4008.

Despite having been charged, every defendant is presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.