Month: April 2021

Defendant Charged With 2 Counts of Attempted Murder On Lakewood Police Officers To Remain Detained Pending Trial

April 30, 2021

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on April 30, 2021, the Honorable Wendel E. Daniels, P.J.Cr.P., ordered that Stanley Williams, 25, of Lakewood, shall remain detained in the Ocean County Jail pending trial on two counts of Attempted Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1), relative to an incident that occurred in Lakewood Township during the evening hours of April 17, 2021, into the early morning hours of April 18, 2021. Williams has also been charged with Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(5)(a); Possession of a Weapon, specifically a knife, for an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d; and Possession of a Weapon, specifically a BB gun, for an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a(1).

On April 17, 2021, at approximately 7:00 p.m., Lakewood Township Police Officers responded to a residence on Lisa Robyn Circle relative to an alleged disturbance. As responding Officers were attempting to make contact with Williams at the residence, he allegedly attacked the Officers with a knife, wounding both Officers about the head and face. Williams then allegedly barricaded himself in the residence. After all efforts to effectuate Williams’ peaceful surrender were exhausted, the Lakewood Township Police Department Special Response Team – with assistance from the Ocean County Regional SWAT team – made a tactical entry into the residence at approximately 2:30 a.m. on April 18, 2021. As Officers made entry into the residence, Williams allegedly discharged a BB gun in the Officers’ direction, striking one of the Officers. The Officers in question were treated for their injuries, which were determined to be non-life-threatening.

Williams was ultimately taken into custody, and has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since his arrest on April 18, 2021. The detention hearing was handled by Assistant Prosecutor Victoria Esler.

Prosecutor Billhimer commends the Lakewood Township Police Department, Lakewood Township Police Department Special Response Team, and the Ocean County Regional SWAT Team, for the outstanding professionalism and restraint they collectively exhibited in conducting this investigation and taking Williams into custody.

The press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Related MidJersey.news coverage here:

Lakewood Barricaded Man That Reportedly Attacked And Injured 2 Police Officers In Custody

UPDATE: Barricaded Man Charged With Attempted Murder On 2 Police Officers And Other Offences In 8 Hour Lakewood Standoff Last Night


Photos and video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response



Mercer County Reopens Church Street Bridge in Hamilton

April 30, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP (MERCER)– Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughesannounced that the bridge on Church Street over Doctors Creek in Hamilton Township was reopened to the motoring public this afternoon under budget.

The Mercer County Department of Transportation and Infrastructure began the rehabilitation of the bridge in March 2020. Officially known as Bridge No. 672.2 on Church Street, the structure traverses Doctors Creek in the Groveville neighborhood of Hamilton Township.

The old bridge carrying Church Street over Doctors Creek was a concrete-encased steel stringer bridge. The structure was considered structurally deficient due to poor condition of the substructure.

The reconstructed bridge consists of a reinforced concrete substructure on top of steel piles. The superstructure consists of steel stringers and a composite concrete deck with a protective deck overlay. The structure supports a 32-foot-wide cart way and two 5-foot-wide sidewalks. The reinforced concrete railings aesthetically mimic the craftsmanship of the original structure built in 1929. The cross section at the bridge consists of two 12-foot travel lanes and two 4-foot shoulders.

Marbro Inc. of Montclair was the successful low bidder at $4,921,117. The contract was awarded in February 2020 and work commenced in March 2020.


TSA Extends Mask Requirement For Individuals Through September 13, 2021

Across all transportation networks throughout the United States, including at airports, onboard commercial aircraft, on over-the-road buses, and on commuter bus and rail systems.

April 30, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC –The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is extending the face mask requirement for individuals across all transportation networks throughout the United States, including at airports, onboard commercial aircraft, on over-the-road buses, and on commuter bus and rail systems through September 13.

TSA’s initial face mask requirement went into effect on February 1 with an expiration date of May 11.

“The federal mask requirement throughout the transportation system seeks to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation,” said Darby LaJoye, the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the TSA Administrator. “Right now, about half of all adults have at least one vaccination shot and masks remain an important tool in defeating this pandemic. We will continue to work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to evaluate the need for these directives and recognize the significant level of compliance thus far.”

The CDC recently announced that fully vaccinated travelers with an FDA-authorized vaccine can travel safely within the U.S., but the CDC guidelines still require individuals to wear a face mask, socially distance, and wash their hands or use hand sanitizer. The extension of the face mask requirement is consistent with this most recent CDC guidance. TSA encourages all commuters, and airline and bus travelers, including people considering international travel, to stay up to date with any changes to these requirements by checking the TSA and CDC websites prior to taking their trip.

While this announcement extends the date of enforcement, all other aspects of the requirement remain unchanged, including exemptions and civil penalties. Exemptions to the face mask requirement for travelers under the age of 2 years old and those with certain disabilities will continue. The existing civil penalty fine structure will also remain in place which starts at $250 and rises to $1,500 for repeat offenders who violate this face mask requirement.

Travelers who have not flown since last year may notice various changes already implemented at airport screening checkpoints nationwide.

At TSA checkpoints, travelers will continue to see all security screening officers wearing face masks and gloves. Acrylic barriers remain in place at most airports while new credential authentication technology and computed tomography equipment at hundreds of checkpoints greatly reduce the need for physical contact between our officers and the traveling public.

The TSA screening officer at the travel document checker (TDC) station will request that travelers temporarily lower their face mask to verify their identity. Those who approach the TDC without a face mask will be asked to obtain one to proceed. Passengers who refuse to wear a face mask will not be permitted to enter the secure area of the airport, which includes the terminal and gate area. One hand sanitizer container up to 12 oz. per person continues to be temporarily allowed in carry-on bags while all other liquid, gels, and aerosols must meet the 3-1-1 rule

Travelers with questions regarding airport security screening procedures may send a message via Facebook or Twitter to @AskTSA for live assistance from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET on weekdays or 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET on weekends/holidays. Individuals who require screening assistance due to a disability, medical condition or other special circumstance may contact TSA Cares at least 72 hours in advance of their flight by calling (855) 787-2227.

For more information about the Security Directives and Emergency Amendment, visit tsa.gov/sd-and-ea. For additional information about TSA procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic as part of our “Stay Healthy. Stay Secure.” public awareness campaign, visit tsa.gov/coronavirus

Lakewood Overturned With Entrapment Sends 2 To Hospital

April 30, 2021

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–A two vehicle accident around 2:22 pm at the intersection of Oak Street and New Hampshire Avenue left a vehicle overturned and a patient who needed to be extricated. Lakewood First Aid Squad, Hatzolah, and Lakewood Fire Department all responded to the scene. Lakewood FD set up fire suppression while the first aid squad did the extrication. Hatzolah and Lakewood First Aid transported the two patients to Ocean Medical Center in Brick.


Photo credit: Yossi Brander,  The Lakewood Scoop

Hunting Regulation Change – Deer Urine Lure Ban

April 30, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Effective May 10, 2021, a change in state hunting regulations will ban the possession, sale and use of all natural, deer-derived hunting lures (urine and glandular secretions) in New Jersey to help safeguard the health of the state’s deer herd from the threat of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). All natural, deer-derived hunting lures must be disposed of in your household trash.

The ban has been put in place to strengthen safeguards against CWD entering New Jersey. These scents and lures are derived from captive deer where the risk of CWD is greatest. The production of deer urine is not regulated; there is no federal or state agency that can certify deer urine-based products as CWD-free, and no level of exposure is acceptable.

Synthetic lures and lures not made from any deer fluid or tissue are legal to possess, sell and use.

CWD is a progressive and always fatal neurologic disease affecting members of the Cervid family such as deer, elk, moose and reindeer, and is caused by an infectious protein called a prion. It results in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and death, and is readily spread from deer to deer. While CWD has not yet been documented in New Jersey, it poses a real and significant risk to deer herds and New Jersey’s deer hunting tradition if it arrives here.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife is doing everything in its power to prevent CWD from entering New Jersey and to protect the long-term health of our deer herd and our deer hunting heritage.

More information about Chronic Wasting Disease can be found at www.njfishandwildlife.com/cwdinfo.htm

NJEDA, in partnership with Nurture NJ and First Lady Tammy Murphy, Issues Request for Information Seeking Input on the Establishment of a Trenton-Based Center Dedicated to Maternal & Infant Health

Respondents Encouraged to Submit Ideas About New Center to Address Racial Disparities and Inequities in Care & Outcomes for Mothers and Infants

April 30, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA), in partnership with Nurture NJ and First Lady Tammy Murphy, issued a Request for Information (RFI) today seeking input to inform the establishment of a Center for Maternal and Infant Health in Trenton which will be dedicated to innovation and research, with an emphasis on addressing racial disparities and ensuring equity in care and outcomes for mothers and infants. The Center for Maternal and Infant Health is a key recommendation from First Lady Tammy Murphy’s recently released Nurture NJ Maternal and Infant Health Strategic Plan. The RFI can be found at https://www.njeda.com/bidding/#OET. Responses to the RFI are due by June 1, 2021.

The RFI, which was issued in conjunction with Governor Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy’s offices, the Nurture NJ campaign, and NJEDA’s state agency partners at the Department of Health, Department of Human Services, and Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE), is the latest in a series of steps the State of New Jersey is taking to reduce maternal and infant mortality, particularly among mothers and infants of color. 

In 2019, First Lady Murphy launched Nurture NJ, a statewide, multi-agency campaign committed to both reducing maternal and infant mortality and morbidity and ensuring equitable care among women and children of all races and ethnicities. In January 2021, the First Lady unveiled the Nurture NJ Maternal and Infant Health Strategic Plan, which aims to make New Jersey the safest and most equitable place in the nation to deliver and raise a baby through more than 70 specific, actionable recommendations. The establishment of a Center in the state capital that “focuses on innovation and research in maternal and infant health through partnerships with the state’s academic, funder, business, and faith communities” is among those recommendations.

“Our Nurture NJ Maternal and Infant Health Strategic Plan was developed in partnership with New Jersey moms and families along with hundreds of experts across our state, both in government and the private sector,” said First Lady Murphy. “We are now actively engaged in implementing the first phase of these recommendations, including the creation of this one-of-a-kind center, which will be dedicated to innovative research, clinical care, and more to eliminate the inequities at the heart of our maternal health crisis. We are determined to ensure a healthy start for every mother and her baby, and the Center for Maternal Health will play an essential role in continuing our ground-breaking and lifesaving work for decades to come.”  

New Jersey currently ranks 47th in the nation for maternal deaths and has one of the widest racial disparities for both maternal and infant mortality. A Black mother in New Jersey is seven times more likely than a white mother to die from maternity-related complications, and a Black baby is over three times more likely than a white baby to die before his or her first birthday.

“Under Governor Murphy and First Lady Murphy’s leadership, New Jersey has taken a comprehensive approach to dismantling systemic inequities that exist within our state, and that includes ensuring that women of color get the care they need during their pregnancies and in the months following childbirth,” said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “One of the most vital ways to achieve this goal is by maintaining an ongoing dialogue with knowledgeable stakeholders who can offer key insights into how the Center can catalyze innovation to tackle this critical issue. The RFI announced today does exactly that.” 

This RFI aims to build on Nurture NJ’s tremendous knowledge base and community engagement process by gathering targeted input on the development and implementation of the Trenton-based Center. Respondents are encouraged to offer input regarding the development of the Center’s mission, vision and structure; potential operating models and locations; services and program offerings; strategies and best practices to foster research, innovation, and commercialization in maternal and infant health; potential partners within Trenton and throughout the United States; and considerations for the Authority and its partner agencies in creating initiatives anchored at the Center and within the Trenton community focused on achieving equity in maternal and infant health outcomes.

“The creation of this Center will help eliminate the unacceptable racial disparities that exist in maternal and infant health while also fostering innovation and community revitalization within the state’s capital,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “This RFI will enable Governor Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy and a team across state government to draw on the expertise of individuals familiar with issues surrounding access to infant and maternal healthcare and develop an informed approach to overcoming this pervasive issue.”

The NJEDA is seeking responses from qualified entities  including, but not limited to: mothers and caregivers; members of communities most affected by disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes; healthcare providers; hospitals and hospital systems; midwives and doulas; health organizations; universities; advocacy organizations; social services providers; municipalities, government agencies and school districts; community stakeholders; policy and academic researchers; real estate developers; business leaders, employers and entrepreneurs; technical assistance providers; and foundations and philanthropic organizations that address infant and maternal health. The NJEDA is seeking responses from entities based within New Jersey as well as those located outside of the state.

“Through our work in promoting safe and inclusive learning environments, we are expanding equitable opportunities for women of color and women of child-bearing age through programs such as the Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG) and other affordability initiatives,” said New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Dr. Brian Bridges. “The Center for maternal and infant health aligns with our goal of ensuring healthy postsecondary outcomes for mothers and their infants.”

“Establishing this Center and investing in research and innovation here in our Capital City are pivotal steps forward in our Administration’s commitment to combat disparities in care for mothers and babies of color and make New Jersey a safer place to give birth,” said NJ Human Services Acting Commissioner Sarah Adelman.  “NJ Human Services looks forward to working with our partners in the First Lady’s Nurture NJ campaign to make these plans the reality, improve outcomes, and save lives.”

“Nationally and in NJ, maternal and infant mortality are among the worst disparities that Black women experience. The work done by the First Lady to lift up the disparities between our Black and white mothers in our state has been instrumental for this critical conversation needed to save lives. Opening a Center focused on this issue, right in the hub of our government, proves the importance this work has for our state as we work towards health equality for all mothers, infants and families and making New Jersey the best place in the country to raise a family,” said Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman.

“I am grateful to see us moving closer to establishing a maternal and infant health center in the city of Trenton. The accessibility of doctors is a major barrier that prevents many young women from seeking out the follow up care they need,” said Senator Shirley Turner. “Coupled with efforts to reduce racial biases within the healthcare field, bringing resources directly to underserved communities is the best thing we can do to reduce maternal mortality rates, especially among Black mothers.”

“New Jersey has the third-largest disparity between survival rates among white and Black mothers in the United States. To significantly improve maternal health outcomes for Black mothers and their children, we’re going to need people on the ground and in our communities gathering information and offering necessary services to help expecting mothers. We applaud the joint effort between First Lady Tammy Murphy and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and welcome the idea of a Trenton-based center dedicated to improving health equity for Black women,” said Assemblymembers Verlina Reynolds-Jackson and Anthony Verrelli.

“I’m excited that the state has selected the Capital City for its innovation center focusing on racial disparities related to maternal and infant health,” said Trenton Mayor W. Reed Gusciora. “Not only do Trenton mothers receive late or no prenatal care at twice the rate of the rest of the state, Trenton’s infant mortality rate in the last few years has also been as high as double the state rate, particular among Black residents. Trenton babies also have higher rates than both the state and county of low birthweights and preterm births. Our state partnerships are essential to overcoming this disparity, including this RFI that will help bring critical expertise and innovation to a place where it’s needed the most.”

“Combining public sector resources and industry expertise will position New Jersey to ensure equitable access to health care for mothers and infants throughout the state,” said Tara Colton, NJEDA’s Executive Vice President of Special Projects. “We are proud to work with our partners on such an important initiative and look forward to developing a world-class Center based with input we receive through this RFI.”

All questions concerning this RFI must be submitted in writing no later than 11:59 PM EST, on Monday, May 17, 2021 via e-mail to:  MaternalHealthRFI@njeda.com

The subject line of the e-mail should state: “QUESTIONS-2021-RFI-127”.

Answers to questions submitted will be publicly posted on the Authority’s website on or about Monday, May 24, 2021 at: https://www.njeda.com/bidding/#OET as Addendum. 

All RFI responses must be submitted in writing no later than 11:59 PM EST on Tuesday June 1, 2021, via e-mail to: MaternalHealthRFI@njeda.com

The subject line of the e-mail should state: “RFI Response-2021-RFI-127”.     

About NJEDA

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) serves as the State’s principal agency for driving economic growth. The NJEDA is committed to making New Jersey a national model for inclusive and sustainable economic development by focusing on key strategies to help build strong and dynamic communities, create good jobs for New Jersey residents, and provide pathways to a stronger and fairer economy. Through partnerships with a diverse range of stakeholders, the NJEDA creates and implements initiatives to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life in the State and strengthen New Jersey’s long-term economic competitiveness.

To learn more about NJEDA resources for businesses call NJEDA Customer Care at 609-858-6767 or visit https://www.njeda.com and follow @NewJerseyEDA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. 

About Nurture NJ 

To learn more about Nurture NJ, visit NurtureNJ.nj.gov.

Follow Nurture NJ and First Lady Tammy Murphy on Twitter (@FirstLadyNJ), Facebook (@FirstLadyNJ), and Instagram (@firstladynewjersey).


Lacey Twp. Man Charged With Strict Liability Death After Selling Victim Heroin And Cocaine

April 30, 2021

LACEY TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Toms River Township Police Chief Mitchell Little announced that on April 29, 2021, Jehmar Barrett, 34, of Lacey Township, was charged with Strict Liability Drug Induced Death in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-9a, relative to the death of a 35-year-old female in Toms River on November 24, 2020.

On November 24, 2020, Toms River Police Officers responded to a residence on Alabama Avenue for a report of an unresponsive female. Upon arrival, Officers discovered the body of the victim, who was already deceased from an apparent drug overdose.

A subsequent investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit and Toms River Police Department Detective Bureau determined that Barrett allegedly sold the victim Heroin and Cocaine on November 23, 2020. Barrett was initially charged on November 24, 2020 with Distribution of Heroin in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3); Distribution of Cocaine in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3); Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3); Possession of Heroin in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); Possession of Cocaine in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); and Eluding in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2b.

Further investigation and toxicology analysis recently received by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed the presence of Fentanyl in the victim’s system. It was determined through laboratory analysis that the controlled dangerous substance allegedly sold to the victim by Barrett – initially believed to be Heroin – was, in fact, Fentanyl, matching the Fentanyl found in the victim’s system. Based upon the toxicology analysis, the Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office opined that the Fentanyl found in the victim’s system was the cause of her death. As a consequence, Barrett was charged with Strict Liability Induced Death on April 29, 2021. This morning, Barrett surrendered himself to the Toms River Police Department. He was transported to the Ocean County Jail, where he remains lodged pending a detention hearing.

Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Little commend the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Advocacy Unit, Toms River Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Toms River Township Police Department Patrol Division, Berkeley Township Police Department, Lacey Township Police Department, Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation.

The press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Monmouth Correction Officer Facing Criminal Charges

April 30, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Monmouth County Corrections officer is facing criminal charges after shoplifting in West Long Branch, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Suzanne Simone, 53, of Ocean Township, a 22-year-veteran of the Monmouth County Correctional Institution, is charged with third degree shoplifting in connection with multiple instances where she failed to pay for items at a local home improvement store. This follows an investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office which revealed that on multiple occasions, Simone “skip scanned” items, essentially scanning multiple smaller items, and not scanning larger items or pretending to scan them and leaving the store without paying for them. In one instance, Simone was wearing her uniform while committing the theft. Of the stolen goods, the estimated value is $661. Some of the stolen goods were later recovered from her residence.

Simone is currently suspended from her position at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution.

“No one is above the law,” said Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.  “It is essential to our criminal justice system that officers maintain the public’s trust.  This officer broke the law that she was sworn to uphold, all over a measly $600. This conduct will not be tolerated and is a stain on the men and women in law enforcement who work tirelessly to serve their communities with honor.”

“Any member of law enforcement who violates their oath does a disservice to the public and their fellow officers, and will be held fully accountable,” said Sheriff Shaun Golden.

If anyone has any additional information, please contact Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Greg Hilton at 1-800-533-7443.

Anyone who feels the need to remain anonymous, but has information about a crime can submit a tip to Monmouth County Crime Stoppers by calling their confidential telephone tip-line at 1-800-671-4400; by downloading and using the free P3 Tips mobile app (available on iOS and Android – https://www.p3tips.com/1182), by calling 800-671-4400 or by going to the website at www.monmouthcountycrimestoppers.com

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the Office’s Professional Responsibilities and Bias Crime Unit.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.

The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, under the leadership of Prosecutor Gramiccioni, instituted a Corruption Tip Line designed to solicit the public’s assistance in identifying and targeting corruption, fraud and misconduct occurring in local governmental agencies.

Citizens may report concerns via the following: Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Corruption Tip Line – 855-7-UNJUST (855 786-5878); or E-mail at: corruption@mcponj.org write “Corruption/Misconduct Tip” in the subject line.


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Hamilton Township Named Tree City USA® for Fifteenth Year

April 30, 2021

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–In honor of this Arbor Day, Hamilton Township announces that it has been named a 2020 Tree City USA for the fifteenth consecutive year.

Hamilton achieved this prominent environmental designation by the Arbor Day Foundation, a million-member nonprofit conservation and education organization, by meeting the program’s four requirements:  have a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita, and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation. 

“Tree City USA communities see the impact an urban forest has in a community first hand,” said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. “The trees being planted and cared for by Hamilton are ensuring that generation to come will enjoy a better quality of life. Additionally, participation in this program brings residents together and creates a sense of civic pride, whether it’s through volunteer engagement or public education.”

Thanks to the efforts of the Hamilton Township Shade Tree Commission, the Township was able to launch a residential tree planting initiative this past September. The Township will spend over $1 million to remove dead and dying trees and plant new trees around town. The program is funded by private developers that pay into an escrow fund when trees are removed from properties under construction and, under the law, can only be used for this purpose. While the Township takes requests for new trees year round, we are ramping up our efforts to reach all Hamilton Township residents on a neighborhood by neighborhood level.

The Township plans to have the trees planted so that they will not interfere with sidewalks or utility lines.  While there is no cost to residents for the trees, the Township asks that residents jointly care for the tree in the first three years of growth.

Residents may contact the Division of Planning at (609) 890-3645 or via email at RPoppert@HamiltonNJ.com for more information on the residential tree planting program. 

“Planting new trees throughout Hamilton, at no cost to our residents, is a win-win,” said Mayor Jeff Martin.  “If ever there was a time for trees, now is that time. Healthy trees provide environmental benefits such as cleaner air and cooler temperatures for homes they help shade – helping to lower energy consumption.  Having been recognized as Tree City USA for fifteen years now, Hamilton has demonstrated a commitment to the mission that the Arbor Day Foundation sets forth– to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees.”

More information on the Tree City USA program is available at arborday.org/TreeCityUSA.


Victim Identified in Thursday Night Homicide in Trenton

April 30, 2021

5/7/2021 update: Trenton Man Arrested for Murder

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Mercer County Homicide Task Force is investigating a fatal shooting that occurred in Trenton last night, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported.

Just before 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 29, 2021, Trenton police were dispatched to the 400 block of North Clinton Avenue on a report of a motor vehicle accident. Responding officers located Ramire Harvey seated in the driver’s seat of a dark-colored Audi sedan that had crashed into two parked cars in the area of North Clinton Avenue and Poplar Street.  He was shot and unresponsive, and there were multiple bullet holes in the vehicle.  Harvey, 25, of Trenton, was transported to Capital Health Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

The car was not stolen, as was preliminarily reported at the scene.  Although not related to the shooting or crash, a female bystander who suffered a medical episode near the scene was transported to the hospital.        

The investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made.  Anyone with information is asked to call (609) 989-6406.  Information can also be emailed to mchtftips@mercercounty.org


Yesterday’s MidJersey.news story here: UPDATE: Driver Found Shot Dead In Audi Involved In Crash

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Names of 2021* homicide victims:

  1. 2/18/2021 Jabree Saunders, 26, from shooting on May 14, 2018
  2. 2/22/2021 Khalil Gibbs, 25, of West Windsor, shooting
  3. 2/25/2021 Lovelle Laramore, 60, of Trenton shooting
  4. 4/15/2021 Kaheem Carter, 22, of Trenton, shooting
  5. 4/20/2021 Shaquan McNeil, 25, of Trenton, shooting
  6. 4/24/2021 Cheryl Jones, 65, of Trenton, shooting
  7. 4/29/2021 Ramire Harvey, 25, of Trenton, shooting

*Updated to reflect the person who died in 2021 from the May 14, 2018 shooting.


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Photos and video by Brian McCarthy, OnScene News



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Arbor Day Celebrated In Robbinsville With Tree Plantings At Miry Run

April 30, 2021

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Robbinsville Township celebrated Arbor Day 2021 with tree plantings at Miry Run.

Robbinsville Administration, Recreation, EDAC, Community Development and the Department of Public Works celebrate Arbor Day with the planting of three Japanese Lilac Trees at Miry Run today. Robbinsville was named a Tree City USA Community for the 10th straight time earlier this month with close to 13,000 trees planted during that time.




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Amazon Evacuated Yesterday For Smoke Condition

April 30, 2021

CRANBURY TOWNSHIP, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–A smoke condition in the Amazon TEB6 warehouse at 22 Hightstown-Cranbury Station Road caused an evacuation of the facility yesterday April 28, 2021 around 4:06 pm . The Cranbury Fire Company, Hightstown Fire Company, East Windsor Fire Companies 1 & 2 quickly responded to the scene. After an investigation the smoke condition was determined to be coming from a strobe light fixture. The fire departments turned the issue over to the building manager. As standard procedure the building is evacuated any time there is a problem and employees assemble in their designated meeting areas for accountability. After the fire departments cleared the employees returned to work. There were no injuries or other issues reported.


Previous MidJersey.news stories on Amazon TEB6 here:

UPDATED: Multi-Alarm Fire At Amazon TEB6 In Cranbury

UPDATE: Cranbury Amazon Warehouse Fire Under Investigation


Mayor Dave Fried Announces Run For Re-election, Seeks 5th Term In Office

April 30, 2021

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Robbinsville Township Mayor Dave Fried announced this morning he will seek a 5th term in office as mayor. The announcement was posted via Facebook the entire post is below:


Mayor Dave Fried:

When the time came to decide whether or not to run for another term as your mayor after the year we just endured together, the real questions were:

How do we do better?

How can we be better?

How can I be better, both as your mayor and as a person?

What I’ve learned is those questions cannot be answered from the sidelines, at least not for me.

That is why I am once again running for mayor this November 2.

Calling the past 14 months an adventure would minimize the devastation and misery COVID-19 continues to leave in its wake, including the longer-term effects we are still unaware of. We need to underscore the miles upon miles we must still travel to end systemic racism, bigotry and violence toward all people of color, while bringing to justice each and every person who plots to harm or disrupt our democracy and one another – both at home and abroad.

Hanging up the cleats as mayor, while tempting with my children becoming independent young men and women of their own and the promise of more down time with my wife, Kathryn, was never really an option with the amount of work still left to be done.

Seeing this pandemic through and making sure our business community has the tools it needs to rebound and thrive still causes me sleepless nights. I am so very thankful for my staff, and the unwavering support of Township Council. None of what I accomplish could be possible without them.

Other major projects still on my radar is the construction of a new police station and Municipal Court. This will be a very large undertaking. We hope to make it the first joint court facility in Mercer County by partnering with a neighboring town, and I want to be here to see it through.

Saying I am excited about the potential and passive recreation possibilities at Miry Run is an understatement. The wheels have been in motion for months thanks to input we have received from residents, staff and our professionals. I also look forward to finishing Town Center South, where Freedom Village (Project Freedom) currently stands proudly as an anchor.

It has been the honor and a privilege to serve as your mayor, and I want nothing more than the opportunity to take on that challenge again if you, the residents, will have me.

Thank you for all of your support these many years. Every single time I have asked this community to step up, it has beyond my wildest expectations. This community drives the direction of our future. I am merely its temporary steward.

My staff exemplifies public service. They care about every facet of this Township, and I could not take on the challenge of running again without them at my side and giving me the energy to do more.

There are many things I could highlight, such as nine straight years of flat/reduced municipal taxes, or the best open space record in Mercer County. I could tout our public safety record, groundbreaking police training facility, our incredible diversity, investments in infrastructure, rising property values, or the approximately $350,000 we have generated in philanthropy through our “Pay it Forward” initiatives since 2015. Yet, what matters most of all is making sure you and your families are safe, happy and prosperous with opportunities to grow.

I am extremely proud of our history and that despite all of our differences, we always seem to find a way to come together for the common good. Thank you for always being there for one another. And for me.

See you at the polls on November 2, and may God Bless you all.


Lakewood, NJ Man Found Dead After Pursuit In Saratoga County, NY

April 29, 2021

SARATOGA, NY — On April 28, 2021 the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office became aware of a suspicious vehicle complaint being handled by the U.S. Park Rangers at the Saratoga Battlefield in the Town of Stillwater. The vehicle reportedly struck barriers at the park entrance and subsequently fled from the Rangers. The vehicle continued north on NY State Route 32 after which the Rangers lost sight of it.

While checking the area for the vehicle, the Stillwater Police Department located it traveling southbound on NY State Route 4. The vehicle continued to flee from police and proceeded south though the Village of Stillwater before reaching the City of Mechanicville where it passed though and continued westbound on NY State Route 67.

The vehicle ultimately reached U.S. Route 9 where it turned south and struck signs in the roundabout at Routes 9 and 67. It proceeded south on Route 9 when it crossed over to the northbound lane and struck a guardrail on the east side of the roadway near Goldfoot Road in the Town of Malta and came to a stop. The operator was found deceased inside the vehicle.

The operator of the vehicle that fled from police was identified as Robert A. Sanders (age 48) of Lakewood, NJ Mr. Sanders was operating a silver 2008 Toyota Tundra with NJ registration H50JUZ. The vehicle had a large brown tool box in the bed.

The Sherriff’s Office is requesting anyone who might have encountered Mr. Sanders recently to contact the Sherriff’s Office at (518) 885-6761

Other police agencies involve were: U.S. Park Rangers, NY State Police, Mechanicville Police Department, Stillwater Police Department, and the New York Attorney General’s Office. The NY State DOT, Saratoga County OES, Round Lake Fire and Malta EMS also responded to the scene.



UPDATE: Driver Found Shot Dead In Audi Involved In Crash

5/7/2021 update: Trenton Man Arrested for Murder

April 29, 2021 — April 30th update corrects preliminary information released by MCPO last night.

UPDATED NEWS STORY HERE: Victim Identified in Thursday Night Homicide in Trenton

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Trenton Police Department responded to a motor vehicle accident at 6:27 pm. at North Clinton and Poplar Street. According to the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office police units discovered an Audi with a male driver was found to be shot and unresponsive. A female in the vicinity was suffering from seizures. Both of them were transported to Capital Health Regional Medical Center, where the male victim was pronounced dead.

A witness told MidJersey.news that the driver appeared to be shot in neck and suffering a neck wound and CPR was given at the scene.

Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office will be releasing more details as information becomes available. As originally released by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, the Audi turned out not to be stolen and the woman suffering seizures was in the area not a passenger of the vehicle.

Check back for more updates as the story develops.


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Photos by Brian McCarthy, OnScene News

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Photos by Brian McCarthy, OnScene News

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Names of 2021* homicide victims:

  1. 2/18/2021 Jabree Saunders, 26, from shooting on May 14, 2018
  2. 2/22/2021 Khalil Gibbs, 25, of West Windsor, shooting
  3. 2/25/2021 Lovelle Laramore, 60, of Trenton shooting
  4. 4/15/2021 Kaheem Carter, 22, of Trenton, shooting
  5. 4/20/2021 Shaquan McNeil, 25, of Trenton, shooting
  6. 4/24/2021 Cheryl Jones, 65, of Trenton, shooting
  7. 4/29/2021 Ramire Harvey, 25, of Trenton, shooting

*Updated to reflect the person who died in 2021 from the May 14, 2018 shooting.


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TPD Asks for Public’s Help to Prevent Auto Theft

April 29, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Trenton Police Director Sheilah A. Coley is asking for the public’s help in preventing auto thefts, which have been on the rise lately in the Capital City.

In 2021, Trenton residents have reported 67 motor vehicles stolen, 53 of which were stolen with a key or key fob. Nearly 80 percent of the vehicle thefts in the city could have been prevented if the victims had not left their cars running while unattended. Some of these thefts happened after the victims left a key fob inside the vehicle for convenience.

While TPD has seen a decrease in auto theft in recent years, 2021 has seen a 63 percent increase so far compared to 2020.

TPD wants to remind everyone that it is illegal under state and local law to leave a motor vehicle running while unattended or with a key in the ignition. This rule does not apply to a remote start system that automatically disables the vehicle unless a key or key fob is used to start the vehicle. TPD has issued 172 summonses so far this year in the hopes that the public will understand the dangers of leaving their cars running while unattended. These stolen cars are often driven recklessly and many times are used in other crimes such as shootings or robberies.

Please do not start your car and leave it running unattended, even for a few seconds. The consequences could be disastrous. Anyone who has been a victim of a crime can call 609-989-4170.


AG Grewal Announces 14 Grants Totaling $233,000 to Expand Summer Programs for At-Risk Youth


Those in the MidJersey.news coverage area to receive grants:

  • Boys & Girls Club of Monmouth, Monmouth County ($19,650) will expand an eight-week summer program that provides activities and services, including mentoring, sports and recreation programs; access to computer knowledge; service and leadership clubs to an additional 25 students in Asbury Park, Neptune, and Long Branch.
  • Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) of Mercer County ($8,588) will expand its program to serve an additional 150 participants and provide additional recreational and educational summer camp experiences to young people. Collaborating with La’Keisha Sutton & Her Fan Favorite, LLC, the program will provide a six-week basketball clinic including skills, drills, and games, as well as discussions on healthy nutrition, education, faith, character, decision making, and leadership.
  • Community Action Services (Rise), Mercer County ($20,000) will develop a five-day Teen Youth Conference to take place at a university or virtually, as required by CDC guidelines. Rise will serve an additional 12 young people in a variety of workshops to facilitate positive behavior, to deliver information on post high school options and alternatives, and to provide information on peer voluntarism.
  • Jackson Township School District, Ocean County ($18,204) will expand its summer learning to approximately 50 additional students for 15 half-days to recover core math and literacy skills through a STEM initiative that integrates social-emotional wellness activities. The expansion funds will also be used to purchase additional LEGO Mindstorms robots needed to successfully implement the program.
  • Prevention Education, Inc. (PEI), Mercer County ($19,993) will increase the number of participants served through its Summer Initiative/Juvenile Intense Supervision (JIS) programming for first-time youthful offenders, young people on probation, and at-risk youth in Mercer County. An additional 19 new young people will participate in the summer program which will include a new program module, “Connecting with Community,” that focuses on promoting understanding and building community.
  • Trenton Circus Squad, Mercer County ($20,000) will expand its summer traveling residences to provide additional services to Trenton youth including overnight accommodations at a university, as allowed under COVID-19 guidelines, college/career exploration, and access to a life/career coach.
  • Trenton Music Makers, Mercer County ($19,907) will expand its program by engaging an additional 50 students. In addition, working with the Capital Area YMCA, Trenton Music Makers will use the grant funding to add an outdoor tented area where students can engage in their music study, and to add a hip-hop production and a choir to augment the existing conducting and percussion classes.\
  • Trenton Police Department (TPD), Mercer County ($7,446) will expand its current Summer Camp Program to an additional 15 participants and integrate a police exploration, communication, and relations component. In addition, TPD will expand its programming into schools and enhance partnerships with parent/teacher programs.


April 29, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced that the Juvenile Justice Commission (“JJC”), in conjunction with the Governor’s Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (“JJDP”) Committee, has awarded 14 grants totaling $233,000 to police departments, schools, and non-profit organizations across the State to expand summer programs for at-risk youth.

The grants provide organizations already running successful summer programs for at-risk youth with up to $20,000 in additional funding each to enhance their programs and/or increase the number of young people they serve. An additional 600 at-risk youth throughout New Jersey will be able to participate in an array of recreational, educational, and character-building activities being offered in their communities this summer as a result of these grants.

“New Jersey is committed to making a difference in the lives of at-risk youth and preventing their involvement in the youth justice system,” said Attorney General Grewal. “The JJC and JJDP Committee have worked together to expand access to programs in communities to provide youth with activities and learning experiences that foster important life skills, and help them retain vital educational progress and connections to services while school is not in session.”

Funding for the grants comes from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention’s Formula Grants Program, which supports state and local delinquency prevention and intervention efforts and juvenile justice system improvements. The funds can be used to provide job training, mental health and substance abuse treatment, community-based programs and services, reentry/aftercare services, and school programs to prevent truancy.

“At the foundation of New Jersey’s youth justice reform efforts is the understanding that youth can succeed in their communities with appropriate resources. Through these grants, the Juvenile Justice Commission, in partnership with the JJDP Committee, is enhancing a system that provides the tools and skills necessary for young people to navigate challenges, recognize their potential, and successfully prevent their involvement in the juvenile justice system,” said Jennifer LeBaron, Ph.D, Acting Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Commission. “Our partners in the community are delivering thoughtful, exciting, and valuable summer experiences for youth that not only provide benefits during the summer months, but will provide young people with skills and experiences that will have lifelong significance.”

Based on the philosophy that communities have a unique understanding of their local youth populations, the JJC administers millions of dollars in state and federal grants that encourage the development and enhancement of a continuum of community-based services for at-risk, court-involved, and delinquent youth. The JJDP Committee is responsible for setting funding priorities for the federal funds awarded through the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency prevention that support state- and local-level initiatives, community-based programs, and system reform efforts.

“The JJDP Committee is proud to provide resources to help existing successful programs expand their reach, both in terms of the number of youth who can participate, and the services and opportunities available to them,” said the Honorable F. Lee Forrester, Chairman of the JJDP Committee and a retired New Jersey Superior Court judge. “These efforts support community-based programs and system reforms that prevent or reduce delinquency and improve the lives of youth and families in New Jersey.”

In addition to meeting other requirements for funding, grant recipients have demonstrated the capacity to host summer programs virtually, if necessary, or to provide programming to account for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
 

The following programs will receive funding:

  • Boys & Girls Club of Monmouth, Monmouth County ($19,650) will expand an eight-week summer program that provides activities and services, including mentoring, sports and recreation programs; access to computer knowledge; service and leadership clubs to an additional 25 students in Asbury Park, Neptune, and Long Branch.
  • The Camp Horizon Summer Learning Program, Gloucester County ($20,000) will allow 25 additional school-aged children to participate in a summer-long program that provides enrichment and physical activities. The program, in partnership with the Bullock Garden Project, will include an outdoor education and walking classroom to deliver a curriculum focusing on gardening, birding, botany, and climate.
  • Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) of Mercer County ($8,588) will expand its program to serve an additional 150 participants and provide additional recreational and educational summer camp experiences to young people. Collaborating with La’Keisha Sutton & Her Fan Favorite, LLC, the program will provide a six-week basketball clinic including skills, drills, and games, as well as discussions on healthy nutrition, education, faith, character, decision making, and leadership.
  • The Center for Prevention & Education, Sussex County ($20,000) will increase the total number of 7th graders participating in its summer program from 40 to 50 participants. The program will also be enhanced by creating a Youth Task Force that will design, create, and deliver a local leadership conference.
  • Community Action Services (Rise), Mercer County ($20,000) will develop a five-day Teen Youth Conference to take place at a university or virtually, as required by CDC guidelines. Rise will serve an additional 12 young people in a variety of workshops to facilitate positive behavior, to deliver information on post high school options and alternatives, and to provide information on peer voluntarism.
  • The Hackensack Police Department, Bergen County ($19,501) will expand its annual Police Youth Academy (PYA) to include 35 additional participants. The program fosters a positive relationship between local youth and police. Instructors include local police officers, firefighters, and volunteers from Hackensack and the surrounding towns.
  • Jackson Township School District, Ocean County ($18,204) will expand its summer learning to approximately 50 additional students for 15 half-days to recover core math and literacy skills through a STEM initiative that integrates social-emotional wellness activities. The expansion funds will also be used to purchase additional LEGO Mindstorms robots needed to successfully implement the program.
  • The Joseph Firth Youth Center, Warren County ($7,483) will serve an additional 40 participants, with a focus on middle school youth (grades 6th-8th), and include four additional programming hours per week during the 10-week summer program. The Center collaborates with youth sports organizations to deliver the SPORT-Prevention Plus Wellness (PPW) curriculum, combining physical activity and sports with healthy-living components, including diet, sleep, and stress control. It also incorporates content on the negative impacts of alcohol and drugs.
  • New Community Corporation, Essex County ($20,000) will expand its summer program that delivers hands-on STEM experiments, photography, music appreciation, Zumba, and art and crafts to allow 25 additional young people to participate. The length of the program will also be increased from six weeks to eight weeks, and three new components will be offered including digital music recording, robotics with emphasis on computer coding, and drama.
  • Prevention Education, Inc. (PEI), Mercer County ($19,993) will increase the number of participants served through its Summer Initiative/Juvenile Intense Supervision (JIS) programming for first-time youthful offenders, young people on probation, and at-risk youth in Mercer County. An additional 19 new young people will participate in the summer program which will include a new program module, “Connecting with Community,” that focuses on promoting understanding and building community.
  • Roselle Board of Education, Union County ($12,815) will use the funds to add two guidance counselors to its summer program staff, enabling the program to serve an additional 150 participants, bringing the total served to 500. The counselors will work with students through a combination of classroom, small groups, and one-on-one activities.
  • Trenton Circus Squad, Mercer County ($20,000) will expand its summer traveling residences to provide additional services to Trenton youth including overnight accommodations at a university, as allowed under COVID-19 guidelines, college/career exploration, and access to a life/career coach.
  • Trenton Music Makers, Mercer County ($19,907) will expand its program by engaging an additional 50 students. In addition, working with the Capital Area YMCA, Trenton Music Makers will use the grant funding to add an outdoor tented area where students can engage in their music study, and to add a hip-hop production and a choir to augment the existing conducting and percussion classes.\
  • Trenton Police Department (TPD), Mercer County ($7,446) will expand its current Summer Camp Program to an additional 15 participants and integrate a police exploration, communication, and relations component. In addition, TPD will expand its programming into schools and enhance partnerships with parent/teacher programs.

***

The JJC was established in 1995 to serve as the single agency of the State government with centralized authority for planning, policy development, and provision of services in the juvenile justice system. The JJC is committed to implementing and promoting policies and practices that improve outcomes for young people involved with the juvenile justice system, their families, and their communities.

The JJC’s three primary responsibilities are providing care, custody, and rehabilitative services to youth committed to the agency by the courts, supervising and coordinating services for youth released from custody on parole, and supporting local efforts to provide prevention and early intervention services to at-risk and court-involved youth.


Dancer proposes legislation defending voter rights following Murphy’s plans to deny entry of unmasked voters

April 29, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mask up or be denied polling place access. That’s the message Gov. Phil Murphy issued at his Wednesday COVID-19 press briefing. Voters “will not be allowed in. It’s that simple,” New Jersey Globe reported him saying.
 
Assemblyman Ron Dancer took exception to the governor’s comments and announced he is planning to introduce legislation protecting the rights of all residents to vote in person.
 
“With all the talk about fair access to voting, one would think the governor would have provided a more reasoned response,” Dancer said (R-Ocean). “We are already facing a poll worker shortage. Are they now supposed to act as the masking police and turn voters away? No one should be denied the opportunity to cast their ballot in person. If the state requires face masks for voting, the state must provide face masks for voters.”
 
The assemblyman added that the governor’s own executive orders make allowances for individuals to decline to wear a face covering due to medical conditions. Those individuals are not required to provide documentation to support their claims.
 
Dancer’s legislation will require the state to supply face coverings at polling locations to ensure that no one is denied the right to vote in person. In addition, voters will not be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.



East Windsor Earth Day Recycling Poster Winners

September 29, 2021

EAST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–Mayor Janice S. Mironov recognized the elementary school winners of the East Windsor Township Earth Day Recycling Poster Contest at a recent Council meeting.  The theme of the poster is to promote any or all of the “4 R’s” of the East Windsor Township Recycling Program Logo, which are:

            RECYCLE all items that can be recycled.

            REUSE other items rather than throw them out in the trash.

            REDUCE materials into their homes that then have to be disposed of.

            REBUY buy goods that use recycled materials.

Winners from Grades K – 2 and Grades 3 – 5 all received Mayoral Certificates of Recognition and gift certificates to Barnes and Noble, donated by corporate sponsor Shiseido America.

            Mayor Mironov congratulated all of the students stating, “we are very proud of all of the students who participated in the Township Earth Day Recycling Poster Contest, and who demonstrated an interest at a very young age in encouraging recycling as an important tool for creating a greener environment.  The posters designed by the students creatively and colorfully serve to remind everyone of the importance of practicing and promoting recycling to help protect and preserve our environment.  All of the participating students did an outstanding job and are to be commended for their great interest in recycling.”

The student winners were: 

1ST PLACE WINNERS

Grade K-2 – Tavo Lopez (Ethel McKnight)

Grade 3-5 – Madeline Hayston (Perry L. Drew)

2ND PLACE WINNERS

Grade K-2 – Luke Brooks (Walter C. Black)

Grade 3-5 – Logan Pablacio (Perry L. Drew)


3RD PLACE WINNERS

Grade K-2 – Sean Kelly (Ethel McKnight)

Grade 3-5 – Andrea Ferreyra (Perry L. Drew), Julia Mahoney (Perry L. Drew) 

HONORABLE MENTION

Grade 3-5 – Sydney Benjamin (Perry L. Drew), Mukund Sairakshan Prabakaran (Perry L. Drew)  


AG Grewal Announces Charges Against Alleged “Hit Squad” Of Inmates Who Assaulted Other Inmate; Plotted Violence Against Correctional Officers

Defendants Include Alleged Leader of Latin Kings Street Gang and Eight Inmates Currently Incarcerated in State Prisons, Including New Jersey State Prison in Trenton

April 29, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced that an alleged local leader of the Latin Kings street gang and eight inmates allegedly under his command in various correctional facilities—including Northern State Prison in Newark and New Jersey State Prison in Trenton—have been charged with forming a “hit squad” within the prison system to commit assaults on behalf of the gang. They are specifically charged with engaging in conduct including a brutal attack on one inmate in New Jersey State Prison, a planned assault on another inmate in Northern State Prison that was prevented by the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC), and possession of makeshift blades called “shanks.”

The charges were filed by the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) as the result of an investigation by members of the DOC Special Investigations Division (SID) and OPIA Corruption Central Squad.

Frank Blake, aka “Lafay,” 33, of Hillside, N.J., an alleged leader of the Elizabeth, N.J., chapter of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (ALKQN) street gang, allegedly created and directed a “hit squad” in the state prison system to carry out assaults on behalf of ALKQN. Blake and inmate Alexander Chludzinski, aka “D Noble,” 27, of Phillipsburg, N.J., allegedly discussed going to the homes of DOC-SID investigators leading this investigation to commit violence against them.

It is further alleged that, at the request of inmates William Figueroa, aka “King Stitch,” 27, of Hightstown, N.J., and Andy Reyes, aka “Chango,” 25, of Somerset, N.J.—and at the direction of Blake—inmates Roberto Garcia, aka “Taz,” 25, of Carteret, N.J., and Eduardo Lago, aka “King Bay Bay,” 27, of Newark, N.J., brutally assaulted an inmate in the prison yard of New Jersey State Prison in Trenton on Sept. 28, 2020, causing the victim to suffer a traumatic brain injury.

Between December 2020 and February 2021, Blake allegedly conspired with and directed alleged ALKQN members Chludzinski, Reyes, Kevin Washington, aka “King Jafi,” 32, of Atlantic City, N.J., James Zarate, aka “King Samurai,” 33, of Randolph, N.J., and Larry Cardona, aka “King Legend,” 28, of Elizabeth, N.J., in planning an assault on an inmate at Northern State Prison in Newark. DOC-SID investigators learned of the alleged plot and placed the targeted inmate in protective custody to prevent the attempted assault.

“We allege that Blake and the Latin Kings gang members he commanded in the state prison system not only conspired to assault and seriously injure inmates, but went so far as to plot violence against members of the Department of Corrections who were investigating them,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Gang violence is always a danger in our state prisons, but we charge that these defendants and their so-called ‘hit squad’ posed a special threat to the safety and security of inmates and correctional police officers. I commend the DOC Special Investigations Division and OPIA for their outstanding work to neutralize this threat and bring these alleged gang members to justice.”

“As a result of the thorough investigation conducted by the DOC Special Investigations Division and our detectives and attorneys, eight of these nine defendants now face a charge of first-degree gang criminality carrying a sentence of up to 20 years in prison,” said OPIA Director Thomas Eicher. “This investigation is ongoing. We charge that these members of the Latin Kings sought to hold sway in prison through violence and fear as if they were out on the street, but we have stopped their alleged reign of terror. We’re committed to protecting people in custody.”

Blake—the only defendant not currently incarcerated—allegedly commanded the gang members inside the prison through phone calls as well as letters. Blake was arrested on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The eight inmates were charged yesterday. All of the defendants except Cardona are charged with first-degree gang criminality and second-degree conspiracy. In addition, Blake is charged with first-degree promoting organized street crime.

Blake, Figueroa, Reyes, Lago, and Garcia are charged with second-degree aggravated assault in the assault on the inmate at New Jersey State Prison who suffered a brain injury. Blake, Chludzinski, Washington, Reyes, Zarate, and Cardona are charged with second-degree attempted aggravated assault for allegedly planning the assault at Northern State Prison that was thwarted when DOC placed the targeted inmate in protective custody.

Blake and Chludzinski are charged with second-degree hindering apprehension or prosecution, third-degree terroristic threats, and fourth-degree obstruction for the alleged threats of violence against DOC-SID members investigating this case. Cardona, Chludzinski, Reyes, and Zarate are charged with possessing shanks, and Cardona is charged with possessing a cell phone in prison.

When Blake was arrested, investigators executed a search warrant at his home, seizing a .45-caliber pistol, a .357-caliber revolver loaded with hollow-point bullets, a 9mm pistol, an illegal large-capacity magazine, additional bullets including hollow-point rounds, numerous suspected methamphetamine pills, and two digital scales. For those items, he is charged with second-degree possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, second-degree possession of a weapon during commission of a drug offense, third-degree possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in a school zone, and fourth-degree possession of a large-capacity magazine, among other charges.

The criminal complaints against the nine defendants are posted with this press release at:

www.njoag.gov/ag-grewal-announces-charges-against-alleged-hit-squad-of-inmates-who-assaulted-other-inmate-plotted-violence-against-correctional-officers/

Deputy Attorney General Colin Keiffer is prosecuting the case for the OPIA Corruption Bureau, under the supervision of OPIA Corruption Bureau Chief Peter Lee and OPIA Deputy Director Anthony Picione. They were assisted by Deputy Attorney General Heather Hausleben and other members of the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau.

Attorney General Grewal thanked all of the investigators and detectives who conducted the investigation for the DOC Special Investigations Division and the OPIA Corruption Central Squad. For security reasons, they are not being named individually.

Attorney General Grewal also thanked the New Jersey State Police TEAMS North Unit, Division of Criminal Justice Cyber Crimes Unit, Union County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Division, and Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Intelligence Unit for their assistance in the investigation.

First-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000. The sentences for gang criminality and promoting organized street crime must be consecutive to the sentence for any underlying offense. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Possession of a weapon as a convicted felon carries a mandatory period of parole ineligibility of five years. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000, while fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. 

Defense Attorneys

For Blake: Thomas R. Ashley, Esq., Newark, N.J.

For the other defendants: undetermined.

Hamilton’s Great Dine Out Is Coming This May

April 29, 2021

HAMILTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mayor Jeff Martin is excited to announce the first ever “Hamilton’s Great Dine Out” will be held May 17-24, 2021.  This event, which will support our local eateries, is a collaboration between the Hamilton Township Department of Community & Economic Development, SHOP Hamilton, the Hamilton Partnership, and the Hamilton Township Economic Development Advisory Commission (HTEDAC), and most importantly, many of your favorite eateries. 

Hamilton Township is home to over 200 eating establishments, including bakeries, coffee shops, pizzerias, delis and restaurants offering cuisines to suit every taste.  As one of the hardest hit industries during the Coronavirus pandemic, “Hamilton’s Great Dine Out” highlights how important our local eateries are to our community.

Many of Hamilton’s restaurants are small businesses owned and operated by our fellow Hamiltonians.  They are also known for their generosity – giving back to various sectors of our community over the years and to many frontline workers during the pandemic. 

Hamilton Township restaurants are encouraged to pick their favorite signature dishes and fan-favorites to share with diners during the week-long event.  Guests will be able to enjoy Hamilton’s local eateries and support our small business community in any way they feel safe and comfortable – whether it be dining in, take out, delivery, or outdoor dining.  With great choices for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, foodies from Hamilton and the surrounding area are encouraged to have fun, try something new, and enjoy amazing meals.

“Hamilton’s restaurants have been an integral part of the fabric of our great town.  They have given back to our community over the years – donating to our sports teams, our schools, non-profits, various other organizations and events,” stated Mayor Jeff Martin.  “Now it is our turn to be there for them.  I ask those who are able, to join me in giving back by taking part in any way you prefer – dine-in, take out, or delivery from one or more of our local food establishments throughout the week.”

From May 17th through May 24th diners are encouraged to dine in or take out from one of our many restaurants and post their meals on social media with the hashtag #HamiltonDineOut.


$1,000,000 Power Ball Ticket 2nd-Tier Prize Sold In Burlington County

April 29, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–One New Jersey Lottery ticket matched five of the five white balls drawn for the Wednesday, April 28, drawing winning the $1,000,000 second-tier prize. The ticket was sold at Township News Center, 2506 Mount Holly Rd., Burlington in Burlington County.

The winning numbers for the Wednesday, April 28, drawing were: 16, 18, 35, 39, and 53. The Red Power Ball number was 21. The Multiplier number was 03. 22,815 New Jersey players took home an estimated $132,316 in prizes ranging from $4 to $300. The Powerball jackpot rolls to $129,000,000 for the next drawing to be held Saturday, May 1, at 10:59 pm.


Woodbridge Township man charged with aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, and armed robbery

April 28, 2021

WOODBRIDGE, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Director Robert Hubner of the Woodbridge Police Department announced that a Township man has been charged and arrested for the aggravated sexual assault of an adult female and armed robbery of an adult male, which occurred on April 16, 2021. 

On April 27, 2021, Razzell Austin, 21, of Avenel was arrested in the Avenel section of Woodbridge by members of the Woodbridge Police Department, the Carteret Police Department, and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. 

Austin was charged with two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, one count of third-degree aggravated criminal sexual contact, two counts of first-degree armed robbery, one count of first-degree kidnapping, one count of third-degree criminal restraint, one count of second-degree unlawful possession of a handgun, one count of second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, two counts of fourth-degree endangering, one count of fourth-degree obstruction, and one count of fourth-degree resisting arrest. 

An investigation by Officer Robert Montalvo of the Woodbridge Police Department and Detective Linda Infusino of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office determined that on April 16, 2021 in the 9 o’clock evening hour, an adult female and an adult male were approached in the area of Lee Street and Scott Place by Austin and another suspect and then held at gunpoint. The investigation further determined the female victim was sexually assaulted and the personal effects of both were taken at gunpoint. 

Austin is presently lodged at the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center where he is being held pending a pre-trial detention hearing in Superior Court.

Authorities are still searching for Austin’s co-defendant – a slim white or Hispanic male with brown hair and brown eyes who is between 5 foot 5 inches and 5 foot 9 inches tall.  This suspect is believed to have worn a gray Nike hoodie and white Nike sneakers at the time of the assault.  An image of the suspect who is at large is attached. 

The investigation is active and continuing.  Anyone with information or surveillance footage of the area is asked to contact Officer Montalvo of the Woodbridge Police Department at (732) 634-7700 or Detective Infusino of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-4340. Tips may also be submitted to www.middlesextips.com.

As is the case with all criminal defendants, the charges against Austin are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Dumpster Fire Spreads To Commercial Building, Firefighters Knock Down Flames

April 28, 2021

EWING TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Ewing Township Fire Department was dispatched to the 1st block of Princess Diana Lane near New Willow Street for a dumpster fire with exposure to a commercial building.

First arriving firefighters found a well involved dumpster fire spreading onto the side of the building and to the roof area. A full first alarm was called for and mutual aid from Trenton Fire Department was also sent to the scene. Firefighters were able knock down the flames and bring the blaze under control in about 20 minutes. Firefighters remained on scene to evacuate smoke from the commercial building and hit hot spots. No further information is available at this time.

Photos by Brian McCarthy, OnScene News


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Victim In Critical Condition From New York And Olden Avenue Shooting

April 28, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Trenton Police Department, Detective Captain Peter Weremijenko told MidJersey.news

Today around 11:30 am, Trenton Police Officers responded to the area of Olden Avenue near New York Avenue after receiving reports of shots being fired.  While officers were on location, they were notified that a victim arrived at Capital Health Regional Medical Center in a private vehicle. 

The victim was struck multiple times by gunfire and was listed in critical condition.  The investigation is being conducted by Sergeant Yolanda Ward and the Trenton Police Shooting Response Team. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the Trenton Police anonymous tip line at 609-989-DRUG (3784) or email Sgt. Ward at yward@trentonpolice.net   




Truck Carrying Two Vehicles Flips, Causes Traffic Jam On NJ Turnpike

April 28, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP (MERCER)– A pickup truck hauling a van and a sedan flipped over on the New Jersey Turnpike, causing a traffic jam, Wednesday afternoon.

It occurred around 2:40 pm. Robbinsville Township Fire Department along with Bordentown Township Fire Department responded to the Northbound outer lanes near milepost 57.2 for a reported crash with three vehicles overturned.

Fire Companies arrived on the scene and secured the three vehicles. No injuries were sustained in the incident.

New Jersey State Police had the shoulder and right lane shut down for accident investigation and cleanup. It also appears that there was a partial shutdown of the Northbound outer lanes.

No further info is available at this time.


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Governor Phil Murphy Asks For Help To Identify Vandals Who Damaged WWII Memorial So They Can Be Brought To Justice

April 28, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy told MidJersey.news this afternoon in a statement:

“Trenton’s World War II Memorial is not just stone and metal. It is just as much the blood, sweat, tears, and toil of a generation who saved our world from the darkest forces of fascism. Desecrating this memorial is dishonoring the sacrifice of thousands of New Jerseyans. We ask anyone with information as to the identity of the person or persons responsible to come forward, so those who vandalized the memorial can be held to account and brought to justice.” — Governor Phil Murphy

If you know of the vandals please contact the Trenton Police Department.

MidJersey.news after reading a Trenton Orbit Facebook post about the damage yesterday morning notified the Governor’s Office about the damage and they sent the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to assess the damage to the monument.


Yesterday’s MidJersey.news story here: DEVELOPING: Vandals Desecrate WWII Memorial In Trenton


NJ World War II Memorial Page:

The State of New Jersey has taken the initiative to honor and remember our “Greatest Generation” of citizens by creating a memorial in Trenton across from the State House at Veterans Park.

Fittingly, the theme for New Jersey’s World War II Memorial is “Victory.” The memorial honors and pays tribute to the courage and the many sacrifices of the World War II Generation. Over 560,000 New Jerseyans served in the armed forces and the state was an important center of industrial production, military training and related activities in support of the war effort.

The Memorial is accessible at all hours at 125 W. State Street, Trenton, NJ 08608


According to Wikipedia “The Fallen Soldier Battle CrossBattlefield Cross or Battle Cross is a symbolic replacement of a cross, or marker appropriate to an individual service-member’s religion, on the battlefield or at the base camp for a soldier who has been killed. It is made up of the soldier’s rifle stuck into the ground or into the soldier’s boots, with helmet on top. Dog tags are sometimes placed on the rifle, and the boots of the dead soldier can be placed next to the rifle. The purpose is to show honor and respect for the dead at the battle site. The practice started during or prior to the American Civil War, as a means of identifying the bodies on the battleground before removal. Today, it is a means of showing respect for the dead amongst the still living members of the troop. It is commonly seen in the field or base camp after a battle, especially among American troops in Afghanistan or Iraq. While it is used less today as a means of identification, it still serves as a method of mourning among the living, as attending the funeral is not always possible for soldiers still in combat.



Photos by Brian McCarthy, OnScene News

Multi-Truck Accident On NJ Turnpike

April 28, 2021

SOUTH BRUNSWICK TOWNSHIP, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Around 11:30 am multiple trucks collided in the outer lanes near mile post 75.5 south bound with reports of also damaging a NJ State Police Vehicle. Two ambulances responded to the scene. No further information is available at the time of this report.

Once official information is available the story will be updated.


Seaside Park Man Charged With Failure To Register As A Sex Offender

April 28, 2021

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on April 27, 2021, Thomas Lockhart, 61, of Seaside Park, was arrested and charged with Failure to Register as a Sex Offender in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2d(1), also known as Megan’s Law.

An investigation conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Megan’s Law Unit and Seaside Park Police Department revealed that Lockhart – a previously convicted sex offender – had been living at the Desert Palm Motel in Seaside Park, and then allegedly moved without registering or notifying the appropriate local law enforcement agencies. On April 19, 2021, a warrant was issued for Lockhart’s arrest. As a result, on April 27, 2021, Officers of the Manchester Township Police Department performed a motor vehicle stop on a vehicle being operated by Lockhart. Lockhart was taken into custody without incident, and transported to the Ocean County Jail where he remains lodged pending a detention hearing.

“Since 1994, Megan’s Law requires certain sex offenders to register with their local police departments whenever they move and/or change their residential address. Failure to comply with this obligation is a third degree crime,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated. “The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, working in conjunction with our local police departments, will be vigilant in making sure that individuals required to register under Megan’s Law are in compliance with their obligations,” Prosecutor Billhimer concluded.

Anyone in possession of information concerning this case, or others allegedly violating Megan’s Law requirements, are encouraged to contact Sergeant John Argento of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 929 2027, extension 2903. The information may be provided anonymously. For further information, please visit the State Police Sex Offender Internet Registry at http://www.njsp.org/sex-offender-registry/index.shtml.

Prosecutor Billhimer commends the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Megan’s Law Unit, Seaside Park Police Department, and Manchester Township Police Department, for their cooperative assistance in connection with this investigation.

The press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


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Governor Murphy Announces the “Your Voice, Your Shot” Video Contest

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today announced the Your Voice, Your Shot video contest which urges New Jersey residents to share why they and others are getting vaccinated. Launching today, the contest calls for compelling, creative, and captivating video. After the submission window closes, a select number of finalists will be chosen. The public will then be invited to vote on their favorites. The winning video will be used in the State of New Jersey’s COVID-19 public health campaign.

“To encourage New Jerseyans to protect themselves and their loved ones by getting vaccinated, I can’t think of better messengers than the community itself,” said Governor Murphy. “We’re fortunate so many talented, creative, and passionate individuals call our state home. So the same way we’ve made previous calls to serve in support of our state’s response to the pandemic, we’re inviting the public to get behind and in front of the camera for an important cause. Whether you’re a filmmaker, community group member, or just someone with a smartphone and a story to tell, we want to hear from you.” 

“We know how important elevating community voices is to advancing our public health goals,” said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “From the beginning, the Department of Health recognized the importance of engaging with the public to communicate critical information and keep each other safe. I am looking forward to taking this challenge to the community and amplifying their voices.” 

“Our people are New Jersey’s greatest resource,” said Beth Simone Noveck, the State’s Chief Innovation Officer. “Already there have been so many incredible examples of the public rising to meet the challenge of the moment. By providing the right tools and platforms, we can tap into the public’s passion, expertise, and know-how.” 

Contest participant’s videos must be original, consistent with NJDOH guidelines, and explain why they or others are getting or have been vaccinated. While videos may be in any language, the content must not be more than 30 seconds long and is subject to other limitations. To enter the contest, participants must share their video on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok), tag @NJGov, and include the hashtag #YourVoiceYourShotNJ. The deadline for submissions is May 11, 2021. More information, including additional contest guidelines, can be found at covid19.nj.gov/yourvoice