HAMILTON TWP (MERCER): A single car crashed into a tree shortly after 10:00 Tuesday night at the corner of Arena Drive and Gropp Avenue. The tree was snapped in half and scattered across the roadway and a nearby resident’s lawn. A utility pole was also damaged in the crash.
Hamilton Fire Department responded to the scene as a precaution to secure any hazards that may have been present.
No one was injured in the crash.
The tree was removed from the roadway and is pending pickup by the Township.
Federal dollars flow from legislation he supported
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) applauded this week’s announcement that the federal government is sending $216,000,000 to New Jersey to reimburse the state for vaccination efforts against COVID-19.
“I greatly welcome this important federal reimbursement to assist New Jersey’s six mega sites in the distribution of vaccines,” said Congressman Smith.
“People across New Jersey are eager to move ahead and receive the vaccine,” Smith continued. “We must not let up, but instead redouble our efforts to ensure that the infrastructure is in place so that vaccines can be distributed as they are available—including 24 hours a day if necessary. I will do everything I can to ensure the federal government remains a robust partner in our state’s efforts to get this vaccine to the people who need it, as fast as possible,” he added.
Smith said the funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will help pay for medical supplies, containers for medical waste, transportation and proper storage of the vaccines, medical and support staff, and PPE among other onsite infection control and disinfection measures in accordance with CDC guidance.
This award represents roughly half of the amount FEMA is planning to reimburse to the State of New Jersey for running the mega sites through April 30.
The State of New Jersey is distributing and administering COVID-19 vaccines to New Jersey residents primarily through the NJ Department of Health including at six mega sites across the state. The sites are in addition to dozens of other access points, such as hospitals, pharmacies and community-based vaccination sites run by multiple counties with state oversight.
The federal grant comes from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s FEMA disaster relief fund, which received $45 billion from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act of 2020—legislation that Smith strongly supported.
TRENTON (MERCER): A Burlington County, New Jersey, man today admitted attempting to interfere with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder when he attempted to set fire to a police vehicle during a riot in the City of Trenton, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.
Killian F. Melecio, 20, of Columbus, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti to an information charging him with one count of attempting to obstruct, impede, or interfere with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder affecting commerce.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On May 31, 2020, large-scale protests were held throughout the United States, including in Trenton, in response to the death of George Floyd. Although the May 31st protest in Trenton was peaceful earlier in the day, violence erupted later. A group of individuals proceeded down East State Street in downtown Trenton and began to riot, smashing store fronts, looting stores, and attacking multiple marked Trenton Police Department vehicles parked on the 100 Block of East State Street.
A City of Trenton street camera and other video footage taken by an individual present on the street captured Kadeem Dockery light an explosive device and throw it through the open front driver’s side window of a Trenton Police Department vehicle. Dockery then removed his shirt and handed it to Melecio, who then attempted to stuff the shirt in the gas tank of the police vehicle and ignite it. Melecio was then assisted by Justin Spry in attempting to set fire to the police vehicle. Law enforcement officers on scene arrested Spry, but Melecio and Dockery fled. Law enforcement later identified Melecio and Dockery through analysis of street camera and other video footage. They were arrested on Aug. 5, 2020.
The charge of attempting to interfere with law enforcement officers during a civil order carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Scheduling is scheduled for May 26, 2021.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI and task force officers of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Newark, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr., with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. She also thanked officers of the Trenton Police Department, under the direction of Police Director Sheilah Coley; troopers of the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan; and officers of the New Jersey Department of Corrections, under the direction of Commissioner Marcus O. Hicks, for their assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexander E. Ramey and Michelle S. Gasparian of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.
The charges and allegations remaining against Kadeem Dockery and Justin Spry are merely accusations, and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Around noon a vehicle lost control on Route 130 south bound near the Robbinsville Fire Department and overturned on the right shoulder of the highway trapping a male driver inside.
The Robbinsville Fire Department and Police Department immediately called in the overturned vehicle and responded to the scene across the street from the firehouse. Robbinsville Police shut down the south bound lanes of Route 130 while Robbinsville firefighters extricated the man from the vehicle.
An ambulance from Allentown First Aid-Capital Health responded to the scene and reportedly transported the man to RWJ at Hamilton Hospital.
Robbinsville Township Police are investigating the crash. No further information is available at this time.
ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–After careful consideration and with much regret, the Robbinsville St. Patrick’s Day Parade, scheduled for March 20, 2021, has been cancelled due to the ongoing global pandemic. In the interest of safety of everyone involved, including attendees and marchers, Robbinsville Township and the Robbinsville Irish Heritage Association (RIHA) decided the event could not be held safely at this time. We are looking forward to the day when we can all gather together again for the events many of us hold so dear. Anyone wishing to purchase 50/50 raffle tickets to support future parade events are encouraged to contact Dave Doran at firstname.lastname@example.org before Saturday’s drawing at the Senior Center.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–With the goal of encouraging greater coordination and cooperation between government entities and private landowners, the Assembly Agriculture Committee released Assemblyman Ron Dancer’s bill creating a Pinelands Forest Stewardship Working Group.
“Responsible forest stewardship protects natural resources and contributes to healthy and resilient landscapes while considering the economic benefits for future generations,” explained Dancer (R-Ocean). “New Jersey’s vast pinelands include both public and private lands. Better coordination between all parties will greatly enhance our ability to effectively manage and preserve this valuable natural asset.”
New Jersey’s pinelands cover 1.1 million acres and encompass portions of seven counties. There are parks, dense forests, wildlife refuges and military bases on the public portion, and 56 communities and nearly a half million residents on private pinelands land.
“The pinelands are much more than trees – we have miles of blueberry fields and cranberry bogs that help support jobs in rural communities, and picturesque parks and waterways that serve as prime recreational destinations for families,” said Dancer. “Sound stewardship practices sustain local economies, help people recover from fires, and maintain the beauty of the pinelands.”
Dancer’s bill (A4846) would establish a working group in the Department of Environmental Protection that consists of 14 members representing government entities, nonprofits, private landowners and foresters. A year after organizing, the group would submit a report to the governor and Legislature with its findings and recommendations on how to improve and enhance coordination to promote greater forest stewardship in the pinelands.
Dancer has been a leading voice on forest stewardship, having ushered through the Legislature the 2018 “Prescribed Burn Act” (P.L.2018, c.107) to authorize and promote the use of prescribed burning to protect people and wildlife from out-of-control forest fires.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced yesterday that the Division on Civil Rights (DCR) has issued a Finding of Probable Cause against national retailer America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, Inc. for allegedly subjecting a former employee to discrimination based on her pregnancy and for failing to provide her with a suitable place to express breast milk.
A Finding of Probable Cause means that DCR has concluded its preliminary investigation of a civil rights complaint and determined there is sufficient evidence to support a claim that a state anti-discrimination law has been violated.
America’s Best is a discount provider of eye examinations, eyeglasses and contact lenses with 700 stores nationally, including 15 branch locations in New Jersey.
Jalaia Hill, a former employee at an America’s Best store in Burlington, filed a complaint with DCR alleging unlawful pregnancy-based discrimination by the company after returning from maternity leave to learn her hours had been cut from full-time to part-time. The reduction to part-time status also eliminated her from eligibility for employer-provided healthcare coverage.
Hill also alleged that America’s Best failed to reasonably accommodate her request for a place to express breast milk. Specifically, Hill told DCR, she was forced to use an oft-accessed utility room that did not have a lock on the door and that was filled with boxes of supplies. She alleged that while expressing milk she was forced to lean up against the unlocked door in an attempt to ensure privacy, yet she would still be periodically interrupted by workers who walked in to obtain supplies. She also alleged that she was frequently ordered by her manager to “hurry up and finish” because there were customers waiting.
“New Jersey is committed to protecting the equal rights of pregnant employees and breastfeeding employees,” said Attorney General Grewal. “New Jersey law goes farther than federal law when it comes to protecting pregnant and breastfeeding employees and employers must ensure they know what state law, as opposed to federal law, requires.”
“Employers cannot punish employees for having children or taking parental leave, and being forced to express breastmilk in a room without a lock on the door, with colleagues walking in and out, while being reprimanded to ‘hurry up and finish,’ would be a clear violation of the LAD,” said DCR Director Rachel Wainer Apter.
Hill began her employment with America’s Best as a full-time sales associate in May 2018, earning an hourly wage plus sales commissions. Because she worked more than 30 hours per week she was considered full-time, and received healthcare benefits for herself and her children.
Hill took maternity leave beginning on November 19, 2018 and returned to work on March 4, 2019.
In her complaint, Hill alleged that in February 2019 – only days before she was scheduled to return to her full-time sales associate position – she had a telephone conversation with her manager in which he informed her that only part-time hours were available because another employee had taken over her hours while she was out on leave.
According to Hill, she was never restored to full-time hours, despite also informing the company’s district manager of her situation, and despite an alleged promise from that same district manager to arrange additional work hours for Hill at the Audubon store to qualify Hill as a full-time employee.
Three of Hill’s Burlington store co-workers corroborated Hill’s assertion that she was a full-time employee before she went on maternity leave, but that her hours were reduced upon her return. (Time sheets obtained by DCR showed that Hill worked an average of 34 hours per week prior to her maternity leave, but worked an average of only 28 hours a week after returning.)
As to the failure to provide her an adequate place to express breastmilk, DCR’s investigation showed that America’s Best eventually installed a lock on the utility room door where Hill was forced to express milk on May 29, 2019 – nearly three months after Hill’s return to work from pregnancy leave.
In its response to Hill’s complaint, America’s Best denied having discriminated against Hill.
The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights enforces the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and the New Jersey Family Leave Act, and works to prevent, eliminate, and remedy discrimination and bias-based harassment in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation throughout New Jersey. To view a fact sheet on pregnancy and breastfeeding discrimination, go to https://www.nj.gov/oag/dcr/downloads/fact_BRST.pdf. To find out more information, go to http://www.njcivilrights.gov.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Yesterday, Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 216 to permit both electronic and in-person collection of signatures and submission of petitions for the upcoming June Primary Election and elections scheduled to occur before then. The Governor noted that all campaigns should adhere to proper COVID-19 health and safety guidance.“During the pandemic, we will continue to hold elections to ensure that New Jersey voters are able to have their voice heard in a safe manner,” said Governor Murphy. “Today’s executive order will allow voters to fully participate in the electoral process and let qualified candidates meet nomination requirements for these elections.”