Day: March 18, 2021

Gusciora Admin and Trenton Water Works celebrate first ever water job training and apprenticeship program in the Capital City

March 18, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

20 Employees will be enrolled in the program by June 2021

TRENTON (MERCER)– Mayor W. Reed Gusciora and Trenton Water Works (TWW) Director Mark A. Lavenberg today announced a second semester of the TWW Training and Apprenticeship Program (TAP), which for the first time in the utility’s history provides current employees with the education necessary to advance their careers and pursue higher-level jobs in water treatment and distribution.

TAP is a two-year program that is available to TWW employees of all ranks and various educational backgrounds. Ten students are already enrolled in this program – six from the water-filtration plant, three from construction and maintenance, and one from engineering. Ten additional students are scheduled to begin June 2021.

Five of those students participate in an apprenticeship component that is managed by the N.J. Water Association (NJWA) with support from Mercer County Community College and the N.J. Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) Growing Apprenticeships in Non-Traditional Sectors (GAINS) program. The GAINS program promotes the expansion of apprenticeship programs that drive economic development by providing the skills and education necessary for advanced credentials and better-paying jobs. Thanks to the GAINS program, half of the apprentices’ salaries are covered by NJDOL.

Apprentices are assigned water system licensed mentors who are TWW employees. Apprentices receive 290 hours of training, including 180 for the Operator Prerequisite Course at Mercer County Community College, which is being taught onsite at TWW headquarters on 333 Cortland Street by Andrew Pappachen, a water-industry executive with 46 years of experience in water system operation and management.

The TAP curriculum includes OSHA and FEMA emergency response training. Participants will ultimately become water system operation specialists or water treatment specialists who will be eligible to take the related state exams once they complete the required work hours.

“Having a major public utility right here in the Capital City puts us in a unique position to provide quality, high-skill jobs to our residents and the training to help them get there,” said Mayor Gusciora. “I’m grateful for our partners at Mercer County Community College, the N.J. Water Association, and the N.J. Department of Labor and Workforce Development who all came together to make this elite apprenticeship program available for the Trenton residents who work at TWW.”

“TWW always has a need for certified operators, and this program ensures that Trenton residents who already work at the water utility have the opportunities and resources to grow into those roles,” said TWW Director Mark Lavenberg. “We’re proud of the work TWW does for its service area and believe there isn’t a better place to develop a long-term water career than right here at one of the largest public utilities in the country.”

“My career as a carpenter didn’t give me just a job – it gave me a career,” said Assemblyman Anthony S. Verrelli. “I know for a fact that there are people like me who are studying at undergraduate institutions as we speak but who are not making the most of the skills and talents that they have – and they are there because college is too often the only post-secondary path presented to high-school students. This is misguided. We need a strong, vibrant economy that works for everyone – not just the wealthiest and most privileged people. We will not achieve that goal if we do not present working people with good career opportunities that have few or no barriers to entry and that offer mobility. We need to connect our students to well-paying, fulfilling professions that don’t require a college degree and a lifetime of debt. Trenton Water Works is doing exactly that by giving Water Works employees the training and education necessary to advance their careers by giving them marketable, transferable skills. The Trenton Water Works Training and Apprenticeship Program is exactly kind of program we need for working people – barrier-free, on-the-job, credentialed training that can transform a job into a career.”

“The Murphy Administration is proud to have gone all-in when it comes to investing in partners like the City of Trenton and their new Water Job Training and Apprenticeship Program,” said N.J. Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “This is another example of how our Office of Apprenticeship has been working to change the way our state’s businesses and young workers think about the viable and valuable career pathway of apprenticeship.”

“Mercer County Community College is proud to be part of this initiative to provide valuable education that directly leads to gainful employment,” said Dr. Jianping Wang, MCCC President.

“The N.J. Water Association appreciates the opportunity to partner with the City of Trenton and the N.J. Department of Labor,” said NJWA Executive Director Richard P. Howlett. “Through our partnership, we are providing on-the-job learning and technical instruction that leads to the development of a highly skilled, licensed workforce. These licensed water and water operators will possess the qualifications required to provide clean, safe drinking water, and to protect New Jersey’s environment. Also, importantly, our partnership with Trenton and NJDOL will create and support good jobs and will increase the pool of licensed water and wastewater operators in New Jersey.”

Trenton Water Works is among the largest publicly owned, urban water utilities in the United States. It supplies an average of 27 million gallons of Delaware River-sourced drinking water per day to 63,000 metered customers. It services more than 200,000 people in Trenton, parts of Hamilton Township, Ewing Township, Lawrence Township and Hopewell Township in Mercer County, New Jersey. Established more than 200 years ago, TWW operates a 60-million-gallon water-filtration plant and water-distribution system that includes a 100-million-gallon reservoir. TWW’s system has 683 miles of water mains varying in size from four to 48 inches in diameter, three pump stations, and six interconnections between TWW and other water suppliers.

Photos by City of Trenton.

AG Grewal announces first-in-the-nation settlement with Ghost Gun company

March 18, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

Distributor agrees to pay $70,000 and stop shipping untraceable weapons into New Jersey

Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced a first-of-its-kind settlement with a ghost gun company that the Attorney General and New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs sued over the company’s advertising and marketing of ghost guns to New Jersey residents and delivery of an assault firearms kit to a New Jersey buyer.

The March 2019 lawsuit against James Tromblee, Jr. d/b/a U.S. Patriot Armory (U.S. Patriot Armory) also was the country’s first such lawsuit against a ghost gun distributor.

“Ghost guns” are partially assembled firearms sold with the parts needed to create a fully-operational gun, often with the instructions on how to do so. Because “ghost guns” are incomplete when sold, companies do not require purchasers to go through background checks, allowing prohibited persons—including terrorists, fugitives, and felons—to obtain firearms that they otherwise would not be able to purchase.

Completed “ghost guns” lack traceable serial numbers, making it harder for law enforcement to trace them to their owners and solve gun-related crimes.

In a final consent judgment approved by the court today, U.S. Patriot Armory has agreed to stop advertising and shipping ghost guns and untraceable parts to New Jersey consumers, and to pay $70,000 to resolve the State’s lawsuit, among other relief.

“Protecting New Jerseyans is one of my primary responsibilities as chief law enforcement officer, and to do that, we must keep untraceable firearms off our streets,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We put ghost gun vendors on notice about the consequences of violating our State’s laws over a year ago. Many responded by blocking ghost gun sales to New Jersey residents. Companies that refuse to comply with our laws voluntarily will be held accountable in court.”

Today’s settlement is the latest development in the State’s ongoing efforts to keep ghost guns out of New Jersey.

In November 2018, Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation making it illegal in New Jersey to purchase parts to manufacture or distribute information to print “ghost guns,” homemade or 3D printed firearms that are untraceable by law enforcement.

In December 2018, Attorney General Grewal sent cease-and-desist letters to ghost gun companies across the country, ordering them to stop advertising and selling their products to New Jersey buyers and promising to sue any that failed to comply. In response to the cease-and-desist letters, fifteen ghost gun companies agreed to block all New Jersey sales.

The State’s complaint against U.S. Patriot Armory alleged that the California-based distributor continued to deceptively and unconscionably advertise, offer and sell ghost gun kits to New Jersey residents without warning them that untraceable firearms are illegal in New Jersey, exposing buyers to criminal prosecution. To the contrary, U.S. Patriot Armory represented on its website, “Is it legal?: YES!” The lawsuit also alleged that on February 14, 2019, an undercover investigator for the Division of Consumer Affairs accessed the U.S. Patriot Armory website and purchased a ghost gun kit for the creation of an AR-15 assault rifle, which was delivered to an undercover New Jersey address the following month.

In addition to making a monetary payment and agreeing to stop advertising and shipping ghost guns to New Jersey buyers, U.S. Patriot Armory has agreed to include on its website’s home page and checkout page a conspicuous disclaimer making clear that it does not ship ghost guns or parts to New Jersey.

In addition to today’s ghost gun settlement, Attorney General Grewal recently resolved two lawsuits against firearms dealers over their advertisement and sale of large capacity magazines (LCMs). In September 2020, a Nevada-based firearms dealer agreed to stop advertising, offering for sale, and selling LCMs to New Jersey residents, and to pay the State $50,000, to settle the State’s civil lawsuit against the company. And in January 2021, a Florida company agreed to stop advertising, offering for sale, and selling LCMs anywhere in the United States, and to pay $135,000 in civil penalties after the company sold LCMs to an undercover investigator and delivered the prohibited ammunition to a New Jersey address.

Deputy Attorney General Jesse J. Sierant, Assistant Section Chief of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section within the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group represented the State in the matter. Investigator Aziza Salikhova of the Office of Consumer Protection within the Division of Consumer Affairs conducted the investigation.

Study: Smith is most effective Republican lawmaker on healthcare in House

March 18, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

Independent study by UVA, Vanderbilt measures legislative effectiveness in 116th Congress

A newly published, independent analysis on the legislative effectiveness of members of Congress ranks Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) as the most effective Republican lawmaker on healthcare issues in the House of Representatives. The study also shows that Rep. Smith is the second most effective House Republican lawmaker overall.

The Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL)—a nonpartisan, joint partnership between the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Vanderbilt University—said Smith “can be effective at lawmaking, even in a Democratic-controlled House.” They added that Smith has continued his streak of “exceeding expectations” in Congress compared to his colleagues, ranking in the top five for the longest streak of all members in the House.

“Effective law making requires working across the aisle in good faith—and respecting others even when there are fundamental disagreements—in order to achieve fair and sustainable solutions to problems,” said Rep. Smith. “I have always searched for areas of agreement to enact laws that make a positive difference, and I will continue to work tirelessly to help the people of New Jersey and those across the country on a wide-range of important issues.”

The CEL measures the effectiveness of congressional lawmakers by using a combination of fifteen metrics that track the number of bills sponsored by a member, the substance of the proposed policies, and how far they move through the lawmaking process.

Smith—who has the second most bills enacted into law out of the 435 members of the House according to a compilation of the data available through the  Library of Congress—has a notable reputation for working across the aisle to pass laws that protect the vulnerable, especially women, children, individuals with autism, veterans and others in need.

The study is not the first to show that Smith has a keen ability to get things done in Congress. Last year, Smith received recognitions from two other independent groups—Georgetown University’s Lugar Center and McCourt School of Public Policy and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—for his bipartisanship and leadership in working across party lines on important legislation.

When Smith received the inaugural Jefferson-Hamilton Award for Bipartisanship from the U.S Chamber of Commerce, Chamber Vice President Jack Howard said: “Many are looking to our nation’s government and elected leaders for answers during this time. We need pragmatic political leaders who have the courage to solve huge business and economic growth issues through common sense solutions built from a durable political center, not ideological corners.”

And when the Lugar Center and McCourt School ranked Smith as one of the most bipartisan members of Congress, Georgetown’s McCourt School Dean Maria Cancian said: “While hyper-partisanship continues in Congress, our latest Bipartisan Index––a nonpartisan and data-driven tool––points to a crosscurrent of cooperation among lawmakers. This offers hope, as our future depends on our ability to work together across the aisle and across differences for the common good.”

Benson announces NJDOT award of $590,000 to Hamilton Township in local freight impact fund grants

March 18, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

Program funds improvements on Thomas J. Rhodes Industrial Drive and Industrial Drive to keep trucks off residential streets.

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP (MERCER)– Assemblyman and Transportation Committee Chairman Dan Benson today announced $590,000 in Local Freight Impact Fund grants from the New Jersey Department of Transportation that will help Hamilton Township provide for the safe movement of large truck traffic away from residential areas. The grant will fund improvements to Thomas J. Rhodes Industrial Drive and Industrial Drive, two roads that are designed to divert truck traffic away from residential areas.

“The trucking and freight traffic network has been critical to New Jersey’s response to the coronavirus, moving life-saving supplies to support medical personnel and sustain the public through this crisis,” said Assemblyman Dan Benson. “However, truck traffic also poses an added risk to our communities, especially when their routes are close to residential areas. Investing in necessary improvements to heavy truck routes is key to ensuring the safety of residents and truck drivers alike. This grant also takes the burden to fund this project off the shoulders of local taxpayers who will reap the benefits of safer streets and sustained economic development.”

The Local Freight Impact Fund is a competitive program which was created as part of the Transportation Trust Fund reauthorization in October 2016. The grants awarded to Hamilton Township will fund improvements to the pavement condition in support of truck traffic on

Industrial Drive and Thomas J. Rhodes Industrial Drive, two main thoroughfares for trucks to keep them moving on appropriate roads and off of smaller, local streets.

“I am excited to announce that for the very first time Hamilton Township was awarded a Local Freight grant that will contribute to sustaining our economic growth,” said Mayor Jeff Martin. “As Hamilton continues to grow as a regional commercial hub, we are grateful for the partnership with NJDOT and Chairman Benson and thank them for working with us to improve our freight traffic infrastructure so that we can continue to support economic development while maintaining the first-rate safety of our local roadways.”

Under the program, projects fall into four categories that are eligible for funding: bridge preservation, new construction, pavement preservation, and truck safety and mobility. The grants are administered by the NJDOT Division of Local Aid and Economic Development. NJDOT staff evaluate projects using a variety of criteria including existing conditions, overall traffic volume, percentage of large truck traffic, crash frequency, and connectivity to freight nodes, among others.

Hamilton man being held at Mercer County Workhouse on multiple criminal charges following burglary

March 18, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP (MERCER)– A Hamilton man was arrested early Thursday morning following a burglary on Ward Avenue.

At around 5:30 am, Hamilton Police Officers Ryan Fratz and Paula Welsh were dispatched to the 400 block of Ward Avenue on a reported suspicious person. The reporting party advised officers that they observed a white male dressed in all black clothing in their backyard, attempting to open their car door, via their Ring Camera.

Officers Fratz and Welsh were in the area and located the man walking near the corner of Ward Avenue and Archer Court. The suspect was identified as 32-year-old Hamilton resident, Jerome H. Friedman Jr.

Further investigation revealed that Friedman Jr. was in possession of various suspected stolen merchandise including power tools and hand tools. He was arrested and transported to Hamilton Police Headquarters, where he was processed. Jerome H. Friedman Jr. is currently being held at the Mercer County Corrections Center on various criminal charges in relation to this arrest.

Anyone with information regarding this incident or Jerome H. Friedman Jr., or may have been a victim of a burglary on this date (March 18, 2021), in the immediate or surrounding area of Ward Avenue, is asked to contact Detective Thomas Clugsten of the Hamilton Township Police Division Criminal Investigations Section at 609-581-4027 or via email at The public can also leave anonymous information via the Hamilton Police Crime Tip Hotline at 609-581-4008.