TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Around 10:30 p.m. the Trenton Fire Department was dispatched to Route 29 South Bound for a smoke condition in the area. While responding smoke was reported in the area of the Trenton Water Filtration Plant on Route 29 and an “All Hands Fire” was called sending additional equipment to the scene.
Firefighters arrived on scene and investigated the cause of the smoke condition. It was reported that some type of equipment caused the fire, it was unclear at this time what exactly was on fire.
The incident commander requested notification to the Fire Marshal to investigate the fire.
Firefighters remained on scene for about an hour before clearing the scene.
No further information was available. This is a breaking news report from radio traffic and on scene reporting. If official information is released the story will be updated.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis was joined by Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) Director Kevin Guthrie, City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett for a press briefing to provide updates on the Surfside Building Collapse response.
Full remarks regarding the current response from this morning’s press conference are available here. Vicegobernadora Jeanette Nuñez también pronunció comentarios en español. Los comentarios comienzan en 4:05.
There are currently more than 500 first responders and state workers on-site to support ongoing search and recovery efforts. State response efforts include:
Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM)
At the direction of FDEM Director and State Coordinating Officer Kevin Guthrie, five federal Type 1 Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Task Forces from Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey have been deployed to Surfside to ensure additional first responders are available in the event of severe weather in Florida. USAR Task Forces from Virginia, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania are on-scene. The New Jersey USAR Task Force is en route to the scene.
To date, the state has completed more than 110 resource requests for the Surfside Building Collapse, and 22 additional requests are being mobilized today.
FDEM continues to provide PPE, spare boots and other clothing items to USAR responders to ensure added protection and safety while working on-site. The Division has distributed 450 pairs of boots, 2,700 pairs of socks and 360 pairs of heavy-duty demolition gloves.
To date, FDEM personnel have assisted more than 60 individuals in registering for FEMA Individual Assistance.
In collaboration with FDEM, Royal Caribbean Group docked Royal Caribbean International’s Explorer of the Seas at PortMiami to provide free housing and support for the tireless efforts of search and rescue teams working at the Surfside Building Collapse.
The Division coordinated with FEMA and has already received $20.5 million within a week to support ongoing response efforts in Surfside.
The State Emergency Response Team is providing meteorological updates on Hurricane Elsa to responding teams in Surfside and has contingency plans in place to respond to concurrent disasters if needed.
FDEM issued Emergency Order 21-004, which waives certain requirements that pertain to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation’s affordable housing programs, to make additional housing units available for individuals impacted by the collapse.
The state has mental wellness teams and critical incident stress management resources on-site to support the mental health of USAR responders.
The State Mental Health Coordinator is on-site and working with the Florida Crisis Response Team and local organizations to centralize available mental health resources.
Citation issued for Zoning Ordinance Chapter 348, 10.5 Unauthorized Helipad Zone
July 2, 2021
TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–On June 24, 2021, and on other previous occasions, the Toms River Police Department received several anonymous complaints about a helicopter flying low within the township, and possibly landing in unauthorized areas and on private property on Dino Blvd. Officers were able to view the helicopter in question and obtain the tail number and owner information. Homeowner and pilot, Meir Gurvitz provided necessary information to officers and received a citation for Zoning Ordinance Chapter 348, 10.5 Unauthorized Helipad Zone. The FAA and DOT will be conducting an investigation into the incident and any other violations of federal and state laws.
HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)—Sometime before 2:00 p.m. the Hopewell Township Fire Department, EMS and Police responded to the old Hopewell Valley Golf & Country Club at 114 Pennington-Hopewell Road for a person struck by a train on the railroad tracks in the area. It appears that a victim was found between Titus Mill Road and Pennington-Hopewell Road.
CSX has confirmed that there was a fatality involved in the accident.
Hopewell Police 7/5/2021 Update here:
On Friday, July 2 at approximately 1:50 PM the Hopewell Township Police Department, along with the Hopewell Valley Emergency Medical Services and Hopewell Fire Department responded to the CSX railroad tracks between Titus Mill Road and Hopewell Pennington Road for a reported pedestrian struck by a train.
Upon their arrival, they located a deceased white male near the railroad tracks. The initial investigation revealed the victim’s injuries were consistent with being struck by a train. The investigation is still active at this time. The investigation is being handled by CSX Federal Railroad Police and Detective Alexis Mirra. The identity of the victim is being withheld until notifications can be made.
CSX is a rail-based freight transporter. The CSX train was travelling northbound at the time of the incident. Rail transportation was halted for several hours.
The incident remains under investigation by the Hopewell Township Police and CSX Federal Railroad Police. Additional information will be released once available.
ASBURY PARK, NJ (MONMOUTH)—Reaffirming his commitment to end New Jersey’s opioid epidemic, Governor Phil Murphy today signed a comprehensive legislative package into law to address the state’s opioid crisis through overdose prevention and recovery resilience. The six bills focus on overdose prevention by expanding low-barrier access to naloxone and bridges to medication assisted treatment; strengthens public health data; and builds resiliency among children and families impacted by the opioid crisis.
“Over the last three years, my Administration, alongside our partners in the Legislature and many passionate advocates, has worked to meaningfully combat the opioid crisis that has held our state in its grip for far too long,” said Governor Murphy. “We have worked tirelessly to erase the stigma associated with opioid use disorder and people who use drugs, close gaps in treatment, expand access and use of life-saving medicines like naloxone, and support the work of syringe exchange programs and harm reduction centers. The fight against the opioid epidemic has required a focus on harm reduction by providing safe and compassionate access points to care and by securing funding for vital programs and recovery services. By signing these bills today, we are strengthening the foundation of these critical resources and programs, keeping families together, and furthering our commitment to saving lives and ending the opioid epidemic in New Jersey.”
“The opioid epidemic is a national public health crisis that devastates families every day,” said U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone. “We know that harm reduction is critical to saving lives and getting the help individuals who suffer from opioid use disorder need to combat this epidemic. As Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I’ve helped pass legislation in Congress to address this crisis and will continue to work at the federal level to save lives. I’m proud to join Governor Murphy today as we take another step forward in expanding access to treatments and lifesaving medications in our state.”
Governor Murphy signed the following six bills into law:
S3491 (Vitale, Lagana, Vainieri Huttle/Verrelli, Benson) Revises and expands authorization for any person or entity to obtain, distribute, and administer opioid antidotes.
S3803 (Vitale, Schepisi/Conaway, Vainieri Huttle, Verrelli) Permits certain paramedics to administer buprenorphine.
A5595 (Verrelli, Benson, Holley/Gopal, Lagana) Requires Division of Consumer Affairs to publish retail price of certain opioid antidotes.
A5597 (Conaway, Jimenez, Speight/Vitale, Turner) Permits school districts to administer student health surveys after prior written notification to parents and legal guardians.
S3814 (Madden/Conaway, Mosquera, Tully) Requires DCF or court to consider placement of children with relatives or kinship guardians when making placement decision; makes changes to certain standards for initiating petitions to terminate parental rights.
A5703 (Armato, Verrelli, Conaway/Addiego, Lagana) Requires certain health insurers, Medicaid, NJ FamilyCare, SHBP, and SEHBP to cover naloxone without imposing prior authorization requirements.
“I would like to thank the Governor for signing these crucial and life-saving bills into law today,” said Senator Joseph Vitale. “Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, with opioids being the most common drug, causing approximately 70 percent of all drug overdose deaths. Many of these lives could have been saved with the use of opioid antidotes, however; there is currently only a limited amount of individuals authorized to administer these antidotes. These new laws will expand who can deliver antidotes to a larger group of individuals, which will be crucial in saving countless lives from overdose.”
“This bill keeps reunification the focus by removing barriers to relatives becoming Kinship Legal Guardians so that the child’s relationship with their birth parents can be preserved,” said Senator Fred Madden. “Kinship relationships increase the emotional well-being of a child and reduce their number of placements in foster care. This legislation will allow case precedent to better reflect new research.”
“It’s important that we have accurate data on the social, emotional and physical well-being of our students,” said Senator Shirley Turner. “This legislation will help to provide that, by ensuring we are allowing as many students as possible to participate in these valuable surveys. I am grateful to see the Governor signing this measure into law and I look forward to seeing the impact it has on our public health initiatives.”
“In 2020 alone, New Jersey had thousands of suspected opioid overdose deaths,” said Senator Joseph Lagana. “It is evident that when we increase the availability of opioid antidotes, we can equip ourselves with the resources needed to greatly diminish the amount of deaths we have each year. Additionally, having the prices of these antidotes readily available will encourage those suffering from addiction to seek out antidotes that can be life-saving in dire times. I commend the Governor for signing this bill package today and I know we will save more lives because of it.”
“Complete and utter transparency between the Division of Consumer Affairs and consumers is essential,” said Senator Vin Gopal. “Antidotes like Narcan save lives and its accessibility can be the difference between a fatal drug overdose and someone’s resuscitation. This legislation will ensure that consumers can identify which opioid antidotes they can afford and encourage them to purchase one to keep on them in case of emergency.”
“Naloxone is crucial in treating an opioid overdose in the event of an emergency,” said Senator Dawn Addiego. “When properly administered, the drug has been proven to significantly decrease the likelihood of death following an overdose, saving countless lives to date. It is imperative that we make this life-saving medication as accessibly as possible to our residents.”
“As a doctor, I know just how important it is to prepare for and respond to medical emergencies patients may encounter,” said Assemblyman Herb Conaway. “With thousands of lives lost to overdoses each year, we need a system in place to help residents struggling with substance use disorders who may be at risk for overdoses.”
“Having immediate access to an opioid antidote when helping someone experiencing an overdose can mean the difference between life and death,” said Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli. “It might be too late if a patient has to wait for treatment until they reach the hospital, which is why we must improve access to these medicines in our state.”
“Every life lost to an overdose is a tragedy that might have been avoided with the right resources and support,” said Assemblyman John Armato. “We must do everything in our power to help prevent the needless loss of life caused by drug overdoses throughout our state.”
“Due to the addictive nature of these drugs, unfortunately it is quite possible for someone who overdosed once to accidentally overdose again,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle. “We must take a holistic approach to combating overdoses by also treating opioid use disorder itself with medicines such as buprenorphine.”
“Studies have shown that children often fare better when placed with relatives rather than someone they do not know in foster care,” said Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera. “More residents with happier, stable childhoods will help reduce the number of people throughout our state who struggle with substance use disorder.”
“A safe and loving home environment helps pave the way for children to lead healthier lives,” said Assemblyman Christopher Tully. “This legislation provides solutions to one of the key factors contributing to substance use disorder by ensuring more children end up with family or friends who know them and can care for them when their parents cannot.”
“When you consider the prevalence of overdoses in our state and just how effective opioid antidotes can be in those situations, it is clear we must do everything we can to make this medication widely available,” said Assemblyman Daniel Benson. “Allowing anyone to obtain opioid antidotes and give them out or utilize them in emergency situations is one way we can help get this life-saving medicine into the hands of the many residents who need it.”
“Opioid antidotes save lives – it’s as simple as that,” said Assemblyman Jamel Holley. “There can be no confusion about pricing and accessibility when it comes to helping our community members acquire these medicines.”
“With drug use sometimes beginning as young as 12-years-old, it is vital our State gathers information on the various health issues affecting our students,” said Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez. “Knowing just how many children have already been exposed to harmful substances will help us better understand the scope of the issue and how to address it before it becomes more severe in adulthood.”
“We need to know more about the health challenges facing New Jersey students today,” said Assemblywoman Shanique Speight. “Understanding how many students are actively using harmful substances will make it easier for us to reach out and provide support to the children in our communities who need our help.”
“Governor Murphy and the Legislature are committed to saving lives by reaching those in need and removing barriers to treatment, and that includes making life-saving opioid antidotes as accessible as possible,” said New Jersey Department of Human Services Acting Commissioner Sarah Adelman. “We’ve worked to get the opioid overdose antidote naloxone into as many hands as possible, distributing 62,000 free doses to residents at more than 300 pharmacies and giving more than 70,000 free naloxone doses to police, EMS, homeless shelters, libraries, reentry organizations and county mobile outreach units. Naloxone saves lives, and these new laws will help reinforce these efforts to get it into as many hands as possible in as many ways as possible.”
“Today, New Jersey is making a strong and lasting statement with several new laws that support substance use treatment, recovery and family connections,” said New Jersey Department of Children and FamiliesCommissionerChristine Norbut Beyer. “Through our work in child welfare, we know that substance use and addiction are often underlying factors of family separation, with resulting trauma that can have long term, negative effects on everyone involved. This new law will help create placement stability for children who are removed due to a caregiver’s opioid abuse, and will ensure that the preference for kinship placements is preserved.”
“Today’s actions further demonstrate Governor Murphy’s commitment to end the opioid epidemic in New Jersey. By removing barriers to life-saving treatments like naloxone, and addressing the impact of addiction on families, these new laws will make it easier for people battling with substance abuse to receive the help they need and will ultimately save lives,” said New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride.
“New Jersey remains resolute in its commitment to ending the addiction crisis that continues to claim lives in communities across New Jersey,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “These bills bolster our efforts by expanding access to life-saving medications and giving those on the front lines additional resources to fight this epidemic.”
“Taken together, these bills provide powerful tools to address the overdose epidemic,” said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “Fundamentally rooted in science, compassion and harm reduction, these bills will help reverse the tide of the overdose epidemic, which has robbed us of too many people we love. These bills come at a crucial time, especially as we worry about an uptick in overdoses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Breaking down barriers to affordable high-quality healthcare is the hallmark of what we do at the VNACJ Community Health Center,” said Christopher R. Rinn, CEO of the VNACJ Community Health Center. “Today’s initiatives not only underscore Governor Murphy’s ongoing commitment to end the opioid epidemic but also empower those at the community level to improve access to a whole host addiction services. We are especially grateful for the support of our Medication Assistant Therapy (MAT) programs. The opioid epidemic continues to impact thousands of lives in the communities we serve. Thanks to the Governor’s and the Legislature’s leadership, we are saving lives and empowering patients onto the journey of recovery.”
“Expanding New Jersey’s naloxone standing order will make it much easier for people who use drugs to access this life-saving medication,” said Jenna Mellor, Executive Director, New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition. “When naloxone is widely available, people who are most likely to witness an overdose can act as first responders and save the life of a friend or family member. This legislation will get naloxone into as many hands as possible, which is one of the few proven ways to prevent overdose deaths. We sincerely thank Governor Murphy, Senator Vitale, and Assemblywoman Vaineri Huttle for their leadership on this issue, and look forward to finding new ways to expand harm reduction services across the Garden State.”
“The bills signed today ensure that cost, location, and stigma never stand in the way of naloxone access for people who use drugs, people who used to use drugs, and our loved ones,” said Caitlin O’Neill, Director of Harm Reduction Services and co-founder, New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition. “Having naloxone on-hand is critical to keeping one another alive, and this bill makes widespread naloxone distribution possible. I commend Governor Murphy, Senator Vitale, and Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle for responding with true leadership when people who use drugs when we told you we need widespread community naloxone access to survive, and I look forward to continuing to expand harm reduction services throughout the Garden State.”
Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone announced today that a former solar panel salesman has been arrested and charged with theft from his employer.
On April 6, 2021, Brett Cooper, 44, of Moorestown was arrested and charged with second-degree Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition.
A four-month investigation by Detective Christopher VanEerde of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office – Special Investigations Unit determined that Cooper had accepted over $75,000 in payments from solar panel customers, which then he withheld from his South Amboy-based employer, Solar Me USA. The investigation further determined Cooper deposited those payments into a business account that he opened in the name of Renewing Energy, LLC.
The investigation is active and continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective VanEerde at (732) 745-8479.
As is the case with all criminal defendants, the charges against Cooper are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
LACEY TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on July 1, 2021, Matthew Bender, age 33, of Lacey Township, was charged with Theft in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3a.
The charge is a result of an investigation conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economics Crime Squad. The investigation revealed that Bender, a volunteer with the Lanoka Harbor Emergency Medical Service (LHEMS) and current dispatcher with the Lacey Township Police Department, was responsible for maintaining the LHEMS website. Bender also had access to the LHEMS PayPal account. On February 2, 2021, LHEMS was awarded a grant from Benevity, an organization that facilitates grants on behalf of the Macy’s corporation. The investigation further revealed that the grant money was disbursed to the LHEMS PayPal account managed by Bender.
Further investigation revealed that approximately $4690.00 was transferred the LHEMS PayPal account to Bender’s personal PayPal account. The investigation also revealed numerous purchases, in small denominations, for various restaurants, pharmacies and auto stores, confirming that the grant money was not used for the benefit of the LHEMS. It was determined that Bender misappropriated these funds for personal use.
Bender was processed at the Berkeley Township Police Department and released on a summons pending a future court date.
Prosecutor Billhimer would like to acknowledge the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crime Squad, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, the Lacey Township Police Department, and the Berkeley Township Police Department for their collaborative efforts in this investigation.
The charges referenced above are merely accusations and 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. R.P.C.3.6(b)
Rep. Chris Smith’s (R-NJ) proposal for the much-needed County Road 539 (CR 539) overpass project was approved by the full House of Representatives today as part of a larger roads and infrastructure package. Included within the transportation bill was $8 million—of which Smith secured $7 million—of federal funding to build the overpass on 539, which goes through the center of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JB-MDL) in Ocean County.
The 539 project––Smith’s top priority for inclusion in the Member Designated Projects section of the bill––would provide faster and safer routes for New Jersey drivers and military personnel to navigate CR 539 and NJ Route 70 and address significant road hazards. The heavily traveled roadways serve as critical shore-point connectors to and from federal highways on the western side of New Jersey.
“This important project will greatly reduce congestion on County Road 537 and Route 70 and enhance the safety of commuters by keeping military vehicles off these major roadways, which currently serve as common routes for travel across the base,” said Smith, who has fought tirelessly for federal funds for the project since it was first identified by JB-MDL leadership.
The $7 million secured by Smith from the federal government would represent an immense portion of the funds required by Ocean County—the project’s sponsor—to build the overpass, which is expected to cost about $10 million in total.
Smith, who represents the majority of JB-MDL, said the new overpass would allow civilian traffic to ride above CR 539, while large military tactical vehicles would be able to travel more safely and efficiently below. Smith was relentless in coordinating efforts between Ocean County officials, JB-MDL leadership, and North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) officials to provide materials necessary to convince the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee of the significance of the proposal.
Smith also secured funding for seven additional projects across Monmouth, Ocean and Mercer counties and was successful in including all of his projects in the bill. A list of each project and supporting documents can be found here.
Other proposals by Smith that passed the House include:
The Mercer County Bus Purchase project to provide for the purchase of buses and bus equipment for the County’s Transportation Resources to Aid the Disadvantaged and Elderly (TRADE) program, which provides non-emergency transportation to residents of Mercer County who are elderly and those with disabilities.
The Improvement of Koleda Park in Middletown Township project to help convert a vacant lot into useful community space;
The Point Pleasant Beach Channel Drive ADA Compliance Upgrade and Surface Revitalization project to enhance safety and ADA accessibility in a five-block shopping and business district by removing and replacing curbing and sidewalks;
The Freehold Borough Parking Improvement project to increase the existing 54 parking spaces to 67 spaces, restoring the heavily used parking lot, while also providing additional green space and reducing stormwater runoff;
The Route 35 Bridge Over the North Branch of Wreck Pond replacement project which will result in a safer and more resilient byway;
The Route 33 Bridge Over the Millstone River replacement project to replace a dangerous structure with a safer and more sound thoroughfare; and
The Mercer County Roadway Safety Improvements project to help fund several necessary roadway improvements in Mercer County, including the installation of safety reflective pavement markings, reflective object markers, reflective roadway delineators, guide rail and other treatments.
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Due to rain in the forecast the Hamilton Township Independence Day Concert and Fireworks has been postponed to the rain date of Saturday July 3, 2021. See announcement below:
*due to the weather forecast, we will be using the RAIN DATE of Saturday, July 3rd*Join us Saturday, July 3rd for the 2021 Independence Day Concert and Fireworks! With great local food vendors, music from The Heartbeats, and fireworks starting at 9:30pm, it’s sure to be an event you don’t want to miss! Rain Date is Saturday, July 3rd.Thank you to our community event sponsors including PNC Bank! Looking for more information? Visit https://www.hamiltonnj.com/Fireworks
EWING TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Police say that on July 1, 2021 at 10:25 p.m. Ewing Township Police Officer Cuylotta, who was on Berwyn Avenue, reported that he heard shots being fired. Officer Culotta Immediately went to the 300 block of Berwyn Ave and learned that a 21-year-old male from Trenton, NJ sustained multiple gunshot wounds and was being transported by private vehicle to Capital Health Regional Medical Center. The shooter fled the area prior to police arrival. Police say that the victim is reported to be in stable condition.
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Muscente at 609-882-1313 x 7596 Confidential tips can also be given via text or phone call to 609-882-7530.