Month: November 2022

Animal Rights Groups File Lawsuit To Try And Stop NJ Bear Hunt

November 29, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Animal rights groups said in a combined press release today that a coalition of state and national animal protection groups including Animal Protection League of New Jersey, the Humane Society of the United States and Friends of Animals, launched an emergency court challenge to the black bear trophy hunt that is scheduled to begin Dec. 5. The hunt was authorized by the New Jersey Fish and Game Council earlier this month. Hunt clubs nominate six of the Council’s eleven members.

The animal groups are challenging the Council’s misuse of an emergency rulemaking loophole to bypass required procedures that guarantee the public the right to weigh in and require the Council to respond to said public comments. Despite having ample time to comply with these procedures, the Council forced through a last-minute emergency rule, leaving the public no time to respond.

The lawsuit seeks emergency relief stopping the Dec. 5 hunt. The hunt targets hundreds of bears and sets no express limitation on the number that can be killed. The Council advanced the proposal without counting the number of bears in New Jersey and without performing a scientifically sound estimate of the population. The Council then went further by claiming without evidence that the state’s bear population will expand by a preposterous 33% in just two years without a hunt. That speculation has no basis in science; black bears are extremely slow to reproduce. 

“The Council is not above the law and should not be allowed to impede public input by fabricating an ‘emergency,’” said Jennifer Best, Director of Friends of Animals Wildlife Law Program. “The only thing that will keep the public safe and black bears wild is education on simple and effective solutions, such as bear-resistant trash cans and removing bird feeders from March through November.”  

The Council claimed that emergency action was necessary due to an increase in reported bear incidents. But the number of incidents reported this year is not unusually high compared to many other years during which hunts were conducted. In fact, over 90% of bear-related complaints were reports of routine bear behavior and incidents that pose no imminent danger to the public, such as sightings of injured bears and bears seeking food from unsecured garbage cans and bird feeders. To date, the state has failed to take steps to establish the trash control programs that have successfully mitigated conflicts in Western states.

Scientific studies show only a weak correlation between the population of bears and bear attacks. Bear-human interaction is more closely connected with specific human behaviors that drive encounters.  Some states with large black bear populations have fewer conflicts than states with much smaller bear numbers, a study by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies found. California, for example, which has 35,000 bears, reported just 259 interactions.

Black bears are among the slowest reproducing land mammals in North America. Trophy hunts and high kill rates over bait can lead to irreparable population damage. Hunting bears causes additional mortalities from infanticide when father bears are killed and new males enter their territory. When the state sanctions a hunt, poaching incidents go up—there has already been a  case earlier this month when four bear cubs were killed in an apparent poaching incident in Passaic County. Public safety is also threatened by a bear hunt in New Jersey, where hunting accidents have killed more people than bears have.

“In addition to the disingenuous emergency, the New Jersey black bear hunt is illegal because the Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy is arbitrary and capricious and fails to meet the standards set out by the state Supreme Court,” stated Doris Lin, Legal Director of APLNJ, who successfully overturned the state’s bear management policy in 2007.

File photo of a black bear in a residential area in Vernon, New Jersey

14-Year-Old Male From Edmonton, Canada Charged For Toms River, NJ Swatting Incidents

November 29, 2022

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Toms River Polie reported that on Monday, November 21, 2022, police were dispatched to Intermediate East regarding a potential swatting incident/threat received by the school. Out of an abundance of caution, the area was thoroughly checked and cleared, and the threat was deemed unfounded, prior to students entering the building.

Within 45 minutes of the investigation, Detective Graham Borg and Corporal Jesse Robertazzi of our Cyber Crimes Unit successfully identified the suspect, a 14-year-old male, from Edmonton, Canada. The detectives, with the assistance of Officer Scott Fallano, were subsequently able to connect this individual to another swatting call at a residence, received the prior morning by TRPD dispatchers.

Our law enforcement partners in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada arrested and charged the 9th grader in Canada for the two swatting incidents in Toms River.

*Swatting is when someone makes a prank call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address.

Trenton, NJ, Man Now Charged With Armed Robbery In Trenton; Previously Charged With Robbing Hamilton Sub Shop The Same Day

November 28, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Trenton Police say that on Monday, November 21, 2022, at approximately 7:24 a.m., Trenton Police responded to 401 Bert Avenue, Mama Grifa Deli, on a Commercial Armed Robbery call. The suspect just robbed the store at gunpoint, relieving the establishment of their cash register and fleeing the scene. Detective B. Cook was assigned the case and took charge of the investigation. Detective Cook was able to identify the vehicle involved along with the suspect with the assistance from the Real Time Crime Center (RTCC) and the Mercer County Prosecutors Office.

On the same day, at approximately 10:17 p.m., under the direct supervision of Major Crimes Commander Detective Lieutenant B. Suschke and Major Crimes Robbery Unit Supervisor Detective Sergeant L. Nazario, Detectives C. Ortiz/S. Gonzalez and V. Gribbin/C. Bustamante, while working the Robbery Task Force detail, were able to locate the vehicle occupied with the suspect. Boston was placed under arrest and subsequently charged with Armed Robbery and weapons offenses.

Hamilton police said that on the same day Monday November 21, 2022 at approximately 8:19 a.m., Hamilton Police responded to 1305 Nottingham Way (Sub Marias Sub Shop) for a reported armed robbery. Employees reported that two black males entered the business, one of the suspects brandished a black semi-automatic handgun and demanded all the cash from the register. The suspects then fled on foot in an unknown direction.

Two suspects were later identified.

Ryan T. Boston and Marshaun T. Bamble both from the City of Trenton were placed under arrest and charged with Robbery and Waeapons Offenses.

Ryan J. Boston of Trenton, NJ

Man Charged With 5 Counts Of Arson In Manchester Township

November 26, 2022

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Manchester Township Chief of Police Robert Dolan announced that on November 23, 2022, Nicholas Depalma, 77, of Whiting, was charged with four counts of Aggravated Arson in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:17-1a (2) and one count of Aggravated Arson in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:17-1a (5), in connection with a series of fires that were set between January 1, 2022 and April 26, 2022, in Manchester Township.

An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad and the Manchester Township Police Department determined that Depalma was responsible for setting a series of five separate dumpster fires, in Manchester Township between the dates of January 1, 2022 and April 26, 2022. Four of the fires were set in proximity to structures causing damage to them and one of the fires was set near a large wooded area.

On November 23, 2022, Depalma surrendered himself to Manchester Township Police Headquarters where he was processed and released on a summons – as a consequence of bail reform, pending a future appearance in Ocean County Superior Court.

Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Dolan commends the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad and the Manchester Township Police Department, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit and Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office for their collaborative assistance in connection with this investigation leading to Depalma’s arrest.

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)(6).

Toms River Police Department Responds To Multiple Serious Calls In 12 Hour Period Thanksgiving Weekend

November 26, 2022

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Toms River Police say that on November 25, 2022 at approximately 2:55 p.m., police officers were dispatched to a residence for a reported disorderly person suffering from mental illness. Once on scene, officers spoke with the victim who stated that she had just been assaulted and the suspect was in his bedroom with a knife. After observing the suspect with the knife in his hand, officers safely removed all parties from the residence and began to speak with the suspect. Over the course of nearly two hours, Officer Kristi Stebila developed a rapport with the suspect and was able to talk him into coming out of the residence peacefully. He was charged with 3rd Degree Aggravated Assault and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, and transported to Community Medical Center for mental health treatment.

“I’d like to commend Officer Kristi Stebila for her effectiveness, compassion, and patience while speaking with the suspect, as well as officers Damon Korpon, Robert King, and Kevin Corrigan for their professionalism, and ensuring the safety of everyone in the residence. On a daily basis, mental health calls are among the most dangerous. I could not be more proud of all of my officers for their dedication to making sure at the end of the day everyone goes home safe.” ~Chief Mitch Little

At approximately 3:00 p.m., November 25, 2022, police officers received an alert from the Jackson Police Department for a vehicle wanted regarding a burglary within their jurisdiction. About forty minutes later, while on patrol, Sergeant Shan Ruiz located the vehicle and the operator, Juan Alston, twenty-seven of Toms River, on Green View Way. Officers from the Jackson Police Department responded to the scene, subsequently taking Mr. Alston into custody and transporting him back to their Department.

On November 26, 2022 at approximately 2:25 a.m., Toms River Police and EMS were dispatched to the intersection of Hooper Avenue and South Shore Drive for a reported motor vehicle accident involving an entrapment. Upon arrival, the vehicle was located in the marsh, flipped over with the occupants trapped inside. The two passengers were uninjured and manage to free themselves but the driver, Paolo Helfers-Lariva, 28 of Toms River, was trapped and submerged in the water. Multiple officers enter the water in an attempt to free the driver. With the assistance of Silverton EMS and Silverton Fire Department, the driver is eventually freed and CPR was immediately initiated. Mr. Helfers-Lariva was transported to Community Medical Center where, after extensive efforts, he was ultimately pronounced. The initial investigation revealed that the vehicle was travelling at a high rate of speed heading south on Hooper Avenue when it lost control and left the roadway and struck a pole before overturning in the marsh. Also assisting on scene was the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department CSI Unit. The accident remains under investigation by Toms River Traffic Safety Officer, Corporal Terry Warren.

On November 26, 2022 at approximately 2:40 a.m. Toms River Police units were dispatched to the intersection of Ocean View Drive and Brookside Drive for a reported motor vehicle accident. The initial investigation revealed Esmeralda Menes, 24 of Lakehurst, had crashed into a concrete wall on a residential property. She was placed under arrest and charged with driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, and failure to maintain lane. The accident is being investigated by Officer Anthony Claps.

On November 26, 2022 at approximately 3:45 p.m. Toms River Police units were dispatched to the intersection of Route 37 and Hooper Avenue for a reported motor vehicle accident. Horst Szczypinski, 78 of South Toms River, was in the left lane headed westbound on Route 37 East when he may have suffered from a medical episode, and ran off of the road up onto the center median striking multiple light stanchions, and coming to final rest in the intersection. Off Duty Seaside Park Officer Ryan Stack pulled up on the crash, and along with good samaritians, broke the vehicle window to remove Mr. Szczypinski from the vehicle and began CPR. He was then assisted by multiple TRPD officers who provided oxygen, utilized a defibrillator, and continued CPR. A pulse was regained, and Mr. Szczypinski was transported to Community Medical Center, he was alert and talking to the medics. The NJDOT responded to the scene to repair the lights. Also assisting on scene was the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department. The accident remains under investigation by Traffic Safety Officer Adam Koeppen.

The media and the public are reminded that criminal charges are accusations only. Every criminal defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.

Police Investigate Thanksgiving Day Shooting In Trenton

November 26, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–On Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 2022, Police, TEMS and Trenton Fire Department were dispatched to the are of Oakland Street and Hoffman Avenue for a shooting. It was reported that the person was taken to the Trauma Center at Captial Health Regional Medical Center by private vehicle. EMS was canceled since the patient was already transported and the Trenton Shooting Response Team responded for the investigation.

No further details are available at this time. did reach out to Trenton officials for official information about the shooting but has not recived a reply as of Saturday afternoon.

Hightstown Engine Company Dedicates Memorial For Fallen Firefighter

November 25, 2022

HIGHTSTOWN, NJ (MERCER)–Tonight, Hightstown Engine Company # 1 held a dedication for a memorial site in the front of the firehouse for Dave Lidke who passed away in the line of duty on December 23, 2013. The fire company color guard posted the colors, and the dedication was held at the site at 5:30 p.m. The memorial contains a bench, small patio positioned next to a small tree.

See post from Hightstown Engine Company # 1 below:

We’ve all experienced loss in different ways. As we continue to move forward we cannot forget the one’s we’ve loved and lost. This is the purpose of a memorial. It’s a subtle but constant reminder celebrating the heroic lives of ordinary people. When you sit and reflect on the bench that has been added to the front of the firehouse you are paying homage to those who have come before us and paved the way.

The bench and small patio are neatly positioned next to a beautiful small tree. This tree is a memorial to our dear friend Dave Lidke who sadly passed away in the line of duty on December 23rd, 2013. It too is a memorial, albeit a living one, meant to carry forward the spirit of a man for whom that tree represents.

The bench is made of stone, it’s a rock. That’s what the fire department has always been thanks to those who have come before us. The tree is full of life and growth that’s what we will continue to be within this community.

Here’s to what was and what will always be.

It would be a sincere and much appreciated gesture to have many of you with us today at 5:30pm when we dedicate this new memorial space. We want to be surrounded by the community we love to serve as we conduct this brief ceremony.

Tractor Trailer Hauling Municipal Waste Catches Fire On I-195 In Upper Freehold Township

November 25, 2022

UPPER FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Firefighters from Hope Fire Company of Allentown were dispatched to I-195 west bound near mile post 9.6 for a tractor trailer smoking at 3:57 p.m. Upon arrival firefighters found a trailer on fire that was disconnected from the tractor and the vehicle was full of municipal waste. Firefighters initially started working on the fire using a 1 3/4 hand line then once the cover over the burning materials was removed switched to deck gun operations. Millstone Township Fire Department brought an engine and a tanker to the scene for additional water and manpower.

Million Dollar Mansion Consumed By Fire In Hopewell Township, NJ

November 25, 2022

HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Hopewell Township firefighters were dispatched to 6 Madison Avenue in Hopewell Township, just outside of Pennington for a structure fire at 1:35 a.m. Upon arrival of police and firefighters the 6,300 square foot mansion was fully engulfed in fire. Firefighters used two LDH – large diameter hose lines to supply a master stream from Tower 51 and at least six handlines to knock the flames down. Several tankers were also called to the scene for precautionary measures in case more water was needed. There were cars in the driveway but it was unclear if anyone was home at the time of the fire.

According to Zillo the mansion was 6,300 square feet and had five bedrooms, and five and a half bathrooms. The “Zestimate®”: $1,463,400.00 in value. According to Hopewell Township tax records the property is Block 72 Lot 1.16, 6 Madison Ave., Owners are Dowdie George & Donna Chance with a yearly tax bill of $32,240.60 on a total Township assessed value of $1,077,200. with the November 1, 2022 payment listed as “open”

Fire Stations 51, 52, 53, 33, 22, 23 responded

Plus, tankers from Upper Markefield, Pa. (71), Griggstown (35), Montgomery (45), Neshanic (48)

There were no reported injuries and the fire is under investigation at this time. No additional details are available at this time.

Trenton Firefighters Quickly Extinguish Apartment Fire Saving Building Containing “Dubai Restaurant And Lounge”

November 25, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–City firefighters spent the final hours of Thanksgiving 2022 (Thursday, Nov. 24) battling a structure fire in the North Ward. It was 10:25 p.m. when firefighters were alerted to a reported commercial building fire on New York Avenue, between Mulberry and Anchor streets. Dispatched were Engines 6, 10, and 1, Ladder 4, Rescue 1 and the North Battalion. Engine 6 quickly arrived on the scene and reported smoke showing from the third-floor apartment located above the Dubai Restaurant and Lounge at 933 New York Avenue. The “All Hands” signal for a working fire was transmitted and additional resources – Engine 7, Ladder 1, Special Services 1 and the South Battalion – were dispatched. Fortunately, the blaze was quickly knocked down and was officially declared under control at 10:57 p.m. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

State Of New Jersey Certifies Trenton’s Municipal Budget Following Unsuccessful Council Vote

Mayor Gusciora grateful for State assistance; cancels emergency meeting

November 24, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mayor Reed Gusciora thanked officials from the NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA) for stepping in to certify Trenton’s 2022 municipal budget last night following Council’s unsuccessful vote.

Three members—Council President Kathy McBride, Councilwoman Robin Vaughn, and Councilwoman Sonya Wilkins—voted against the amended budget last night, prompting DCA Director Jacquelyn A. Suárez to send a letter to the Mercer County Board of Taxation following the meeting to certify the budget. (Link to the letter)

“I’m grateful for the State’s assistance in helping to resolve this budget impasse with our City Council,” Mayor Gusciora said. “While I understand the politics of Council leadership not providing support for the budget, they should not do that to the detriment of City residents who rely on our services. Fortunately, voters sent a very clear message that they want a Council that works for the people in the next four years, and not against them.”

The State’s action prevents the City from experiencing multimillion-dollar consequences in the absence of a budget. Prior to State action and following the failed vote, Gusciora issued an executive order instituting the amended City budget, while at the same time delivering notice to Council members of an emergency meeting on Friday which has since been cancelled.

In April, Council passed a resolution receiving Gusciora’s proposed budget with no municipal tax increase, but they missed a state-mandated deadline for passage. As of October 1, all six City Council members have been accruing fines of $25 per day for not meeting their obligation to pass a municipal budget in a timely manner, per State law.

Visit Keris Tree Farm & Christmas Shop In Allentown, NJ

November 24, 2022

UPPER FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–The Keris Tree Farm and Christmas Shop is celebrating over 33 years growing, cutting, and selling trees on a 24-acre farm just outside Allentown at 848 Route 524 also known as New Canton Stone Tavern Road. Keris Tree Farm is family owned and operated since 1977 and the first trees were harvested in 1990. The farm has choose-and-cut trees by the foot, balled trees, fresh pre-cut Canadian Balsam and Fraser Fir, wreaths, roping and seasonal greenery.

The Christmas shop is where the magic happens, a winter wonderland of artisan made crafts, decorations and holiday gifts. Maggie has hand curated merchandise from artisans to antiques for over thirty years… her eye for design and vintage holiday decor makes it such a special holiday shopping experience.

2022 Event List:

The Allentown High School Choir will be singing Christmas carols! December 4th 12:30

Backyard Brews will be set up with hot beverages and snacks for sale on 11/26-11/27, 12/3-12/4, and 12/10-12/11. @backyard_brews_


Tuesday-Friday 10-5, Saturday and Sunday 9-5, CLOSED MONDAYS

​Closed Thanksgiving Day

Facebook: Keris Tree Farm & Christmas Shop

On the porch you’ll find bundles of greenery for sale, including winterberry, holly, magnolia, branches and many types of evergreen cuttings stocked fresh.

The Christmas shop is where the magic happens! Maggie has hand curated merchandise from artisans to antiques for over thirty years… her eye for design and vintage holiday decor makes it such a special holiday shopping experience. If you’ve never entered the shop you don’t know what you’re missing! The exterior is unassuming but the inside is glowing with many treasures to find.

Choose and cut a tree, or tag a tree to cut later in the season. Visit the Christmas shop! The farm has a selection of white pine roping, Fraser Fir wreaths, Noble Fir wreaths, greenery, magnolia, winterberry and holly branches. Also live balled Christmas trees!

Photos of the Keris Farm and Christmas Tree Shop showing overall quantity of trees in different stages of growth. As the trees get older and sold room is made to plant new trees for future years.

Commercial Building Fire In The Oakhurst Section Of Ocean Township

November 23, 2022

OCEAN TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Around 3:28 p.m. on Tuesday November 22, 2022, firefighters were dispatched to 9 Cindy Lane for a commercial building fire. Responding units reported a column of smoke in the area and filled out the full first alarm. The first arriving crews found heavy fire in the roof areas extending through the roof. The fire attack was made with ladder pipe and several 1 3/4″ hose lines. The fire was quickly knocked down and contained to the fire area without spreading further throughout the building. No further details are available about the incident.

Photos and video by: Jersey Shore Fire Response

Mayor Signs Executive Order after Council Votes Down Budget on Deadline

Gusciora Administration calls emergency meeting Friday for last chance passage

November 23, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Facing a November 25 deadline and multimillion dollar consequences, Council leaders voted down the City’s budget in the final scheduled 2022 budget meeting tonight — leaving the City without a spending plan with less than six weeks left in the year.

Without a municipal budget, the City faces bond default, disqualification of future bond applications, among other ramifications.

“Council leadership is intent on hurting taxpayers on their way out the door,” Mayor Reed Gusciora said. “I’m not going to let it happen. Anything I can do to protect our citizens, I’m going to do.”

Following the failed vote, Gusciora issued an executive order instituting the amended City budget, while at the same time he asked Council to supersede his order by meeting once more this week to finalize the budget. The administration is delivering notice to Council members for an emergency meeting at 10 a.m. on Friday, November 25.

In April, Council passed a resolution receiving Gusciora’s proposed budget with no municipal tax increase, but they missed a state-mandated deadline for passage. As of October 1, all six City Council members have been accruing fines $25 per day for not meeting their obligation to pass a municipal budget in a timely manner, per State law.

“The budget is a core duty of the legislative branch and that duty has been fully abdicated in Trenton,” Gusciora said. “Even the rebuke they received at the ballot box hasn’t stopped this group from inflicting pain on taxpayers for political payback. It’s absolutely repugnant.”

The City transitioned from a fiscal year budget to a calendar year budget in 2021, so the 2022 budget proposal represented an unprecedented 30-month stretch where the City did not need to raise the municipal portion of tax rates.

Mercer County Clerk Issues Statement On November 8, 2022 General Election Issues And Results Of Prosecutor’s Office Investigation

November 23, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami Covello issued a statement on the November 8 General Election following the conclusion of Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri’s investigation into the recent Election Day scanner failure. The investigation was aimed at determining whether or not there was malicious or criminal intent to disrupt the conduct of the election. The inquiry was launched after County Clerk Covello requested that the County Prosecutor review the circumstances and report findings of the investigation to the State Attorney General, Mercer County Commissioners, County Executive and Mercer County’s other two election offices.

On Monday, November 21, the Mercer County Commissioners held a public meeting wherein Prosecutor Onofri announced his findings, stating that his Office conducted a thorough investigation and determined there was no criminal intent or vote tampering during the election. The investigation further concluded that there was a human error made in the programming of the voting machines by an employee of Dominion Voting Systems, which did not allow the machines to scan. 

Despite this setback, on Election Day, all ballots were securely transferred to the Board of Elections Office, where they were counted by a bipartisan group of commissioners on high-capacity scanners. Every ballot that was cast on Election Day was counted and the integrity of the election remained intact throughout this process. The only difference from last year was that ballots were scanned at a central location instead of on-site at the polling locations.

“I would like to thank the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office for their swift and thorough investigation into this matter,” said Sollami Covello. “I am pleased there was no intentional criminal action that created this problem. Election integrity is something I have worked hard to ensure and have taken great pride in over the past 17 years serving as Mercer County Clerk.” Sollami Covello also praised the Board of Elections Commissioners for their handling of the ballot scanning process on Election Day and beyond, which was completed on time and certified to her office within the State timeline of November 21. She also thanked the Office of the Superintendent of Elections for their work on reviewing the provisional ballots in a timely manner. The County Clerk’s certification of the general election has concluded ahead of the State deadline of November 26.

 For additional information regarding the 2022 General Election, please visit the Mercer County Clerk’s website here or call 609-989-6494 or 609-989-6495.