Day: May 2, 2023

Fire Destroys Mobile Home In South Brunswick

May 2, 2023

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–South Brunswick Police received a 9-1-1 call on Monday night May 1, 2023, at 6:03 p.m., reporting a fire in a home on Maine Street in the Monmouth Mobile Home Park off Route 1. When officers and firefighters arrived, there was heavy smoke and visible fire at the rear of the home. The two residents who lived there had already gotten out of the home. Nearby homes were quickly evacuated.
The Kendall Park, Monmouth Junction, and Kingston Fire Departments battled the blaze. Kendall Park Fire Chief Chris Perez said, “It took 35 firefighters approximately 30 minutes to bring the blaze under control.” He added, “Firefighters did an excellent job of preventing the fire from spreading to any of the nearby homes.”
The Kendall Park First Aid Squad responded, but there were no injuries. One of the homeowner’s cats perished in the fire. The home was destroyed in the fire and the two residents were provided shelter by the American Red Cross.
South Brunswick Deputy Fire Marshal Murnieks determined the fire was not suspicious

Mayor Reed Gusciora and Trenton City Council Release 100-Day Report

The Report Outlines the City’s Many Achievements in These First 100 Days

May 2, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Today, the City of Trenton released a 44-page joint 100-day report where Mayor W. Reed Gusciora and the Trenton City Council outlined substantive ways that the Capital City has moved forward on a variety of policy fronts. In their first 100 days in office, the Trenton City Council and Mayor W. Reed Gusciora passed 170 resolutions and 9 ordinances; a handful of initiatives achieved within the first 100 days are listed in this press release.

Mayor W. Reed Gusciora affirmed, “It is incredible what we can achieve when we work together: Our first 100 days are a testament to the fact that compromise and collaboration can bridge our shared goals and improve the quality of life for all Trentonians. I would like to thank the Trenton City Council for their collegiality and I look forward to building a brighter future for the Capital City together.” Trenton City Council President Teska Frisby added, “I share Mayor Gusciora’s pride in our joint achievements in these 100 days. I am also particularly excited that this joint report is available to the public. It is the goal of the council not just to work in tandem with our Mayor, but to do so in full transparency to the public.”

The City of Trenton’s Department of Housing and Economic Development published an RFP for the redevelopment of Roebling Block II, a vacant space the size of seven-football fields with historic significance and which has sat idle for decades, and received multiple proposals for Council’s consideration. At the same time, the Department of Public Works filled over 1,673 potholes and cleaned 23 alleyways and released the upcoming season’s road paving list, which includes paving for more roadways than in the past four years. 

The City’s Department of Health and Human Services received millions of dollars in grant funding to acquire new vehicles for senior centers and for improvements to the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems at the senior centers. The City began renovating the West Ward Recreation Center, re-launched the First Time Home Buyer Program, and completed 19 emergency renovations under the Trenton Urgent Rehabilitation Program. Additionally, the City’s Department of Health and Human Services received over $5 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the Trenton/Mercer Continuum of Care (CoC) program, which will support the city’s efforts to reduce the homeless population in Trenton through the provision of essential social services to this vulnerable population.

The Trenton Water Works (TWW) appropriated $26 million to fund two years of the Lead Service Line Replacement Program to remove thousands of lead services from private homes and TWW-system infrastructure; additionally, TWW  invested $20.3 million to clean and line water mains in the distribution to reduce the growth of Legionella bacteria. This Administration and Council are already making the critical investments to the water system that will allow Trenton to prosper for many years to come. 

The City of Trenton’s Department of Recreation, Resources & Culture received millions of dollars in state and federal funding needed to begin work on the Taylor Street Soccer Complex, a soon-to-be announced recreational site which will expand recreational and community building activities in the Capital City. 

The Trenton Police Department (TPD) provided Integrating Communications, Assessment, and Tactics (ICAT) and Active Bystander for Law Enforcement Project (ABLE) training to all police officers, which provides our law enforcement officers with comprehensive de-escalation training and skills needed to intervene in a scenario where they witness an unlawful use of force; at the same time, TPD achieved a 60% reduction in victims struck in gunfire in the first quarter of the year and reduced total shooting incidents by 42% in the first quarter of the year. The Overdose Response Team provided support to 250 Trenton residents struggling with drug abuse and the Trenton Community Street Teams have continued to supplement law enforcement’s efforts to keep the streets safe. The Trenton Fire Department have leveraged hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support critical supplies for our Trenton firefighters; TFD achieved a 27% reduction in service calls, a 18.6% reduction in hazardous conditions calls, and a 14.2% reduction in false alarm calls through fire safety programs. 

The City of Trenton submitted a transitional aid application for $35 million in state aid and achieved $4 million in estimated savings by switching to Meritain Health and moving off the State Health Benefits Plan without a loss of coverage for employees amid the scheduled State Health Benefits Plan’s (SHBP) premium were increasing by over 20% hike; other cities and municipalities looked to Trenton’s leadership and foresight in this cost-savings intervention. 

Trenton City Council Vice President Crystal Feliciano affirmed, “I am very pleased with the progress my Council colleagues and I have made so far, we have held to our word to operate in the best interest of the city, and are doing the work to make positive progress happen along with Mayor Gusciora and his administration.  I am excited about the developments to come and in being a part of the positive shift forward for our city and our residents.”

The 100-Day Report can be accessed through the link below. 

100-Day Report

Mayor Reed Gusciora (center-left) and members of The Trenton City Council (from left-to-right: At-Large Councilwoman Jasi Mikae Edwards, South Ward Councilwoman Jenna Figueroa Kettenburg, Council Vice-President Crystal Feliciano, Council President Teska Frisby, North Ward Councilwoman Jen Williams, At-Large Councilwoman Yazminelly Gonzalez, and East Ward Councilman Joe Harrison

East Windsor Township Launching Child Passenger Car Seat Safety Initiative

May 2, 2023

EAST WINDSOR TOWNSHIP. NJ (MERCER)– Mayor Janice S. Mironov announced that East Windsor Township is launching a Child Passenger Car Seat Safety initiative to run from June through September, underwritten by a $7,500 New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety grant.  This pro-active initiative, offered for Township residents will be held at the East Windsor Police/Court building located at 80 One Mile Road on Wednesday, May 10, Thursday, June 8, Monday, July 10, Tuesday, and Friday, September 22 from 3 P.M. to 7 P.M. and at the Township National Night Out event at the East Windsor PAL Complex (30 Airport Road) on Tuesday, August 1 from 6 P.M. to 9 P.M.

The Township program is designed to outreach and educate motorists about properly securing children passengers in child seats as required by State law.  Pursuant to this program, residents, at no cost, can have their child car seats inspected for proper fit and installation in their vehicles and receive educational materials regarding use of child car seats and current child restraint laws.  A complete inspection of a child passenger car seat takes less than 10 minutes and is conducted by a nationally certified child passenger safety seat technicians, no appointment is necessary

According to Mayor Mironov, “Statistics assembled from several organizations including the American Automobile Association and the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety underscore that having a properly installed child passenger car seat is extremely important to ensure the safety of our young children in motor vehicles.  It is noteworthy that motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for young children and that four out of five child car seats are incorrectly installed.  The proper use of child car seats is one of the simplest and most effective means to protect young children passengers.”  Mayor Mironov added, “This pro-active initiative is to focus publicly on the high value of using child car seats and most critically using them properly.  East Windsor’s grant-funded program will allow residents, at no cost, to have their child car seats inspected by a professionally certified technician to ensure they are properly installed, and receive educational literature offering tips on child safety in vehicles.  All East Windsor residents with child passenger car seats are strongly encouraged to attend one of these free events.”             Motor vehicles crashes are the leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths among children ages 14 and under in the United States.  Properly installed child safety seats, can prevent injuries and save lives.  Young children restrained in child seats have an 80 percent lower risk of fatal injury than those who are unrestrained.  Child safety seats have been shown to reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants less than one year old and by 45 percent in toddlers ages one through four years.  National studies have determined that most child safety seats are improperly installed or misused, thus negatively impacting the safety value of these devices.          

AG Platkin Announces Campaign Manager Faces Election Fraud Charges in Connection with False Voter Certifications Supporting Gubernatorial Candidate in 2021

May 2, 2023

TRENTON — Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin today announced that a campaign manager for a would-be candidate in the 2021 governor’s race is facing election fraud charges after allegedly filing nearly 2,000 bogus petitions in an attempt to get his candidate on the ballot for the Democratic primary.

James Devine, 61, of Lambertville, was charged by summons with one count of third-degree offenses concerning nomination certificates or petitions, one count of third-degree tampering with public records or information and one count of fourth-degree falsifying or tampering with records.

“At a moment in our history when American democracy is facing some of its most formidable challenges from false claims about elections and questions about election integrity, my office will not tolerate any sort of fraud that attempts to deceptively and unfairly benefit a candidate or undermine free and fair elections in New Jersey,” said Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin.

“The voters need to have faith that when they go to the polls, the candidates listed on the ballot have gotten there legitimately and that they aren’t being scammed,” said Office of Public Integrity and Accountability Executive Director Thomas Eicher. “Fraudulent acts like this erode faith in our government and the rule of law, and there must be consequences.”

The crimes were allegedly committed on or about April 5, 2021 in a bid to get New Jersey gubernatorial hopeful Lisa McCormick on the ballot for the June 8, 2021 Democratic primary election.

The investigation found Devine emailed the Secretary of State’s Division of Elections roughly 1,948 fraudulent voter certifications in support of a petition for Governor of the State of New Jersey, in an attempt to nominate McCormick for the primary.

The New Jersey Democratic State Committee on April 9, 2021 filed a written challenge to that effort, listing numerous issues with the voter certifications. According to that challenge, at least one voter was dead; every single voter certification used the same fonts and signature style — with not a single voter using an electronic signature that differed from the typed name; one purported voter included a number in his name; and in nearly every instance the same number of extra spaces appeared between the city name and “NJ” in the address line, which the Division of Elections found suspicious and seemed to indicate a computer program had filled out the forms in an identical manner.

Following a hearing, Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey N. Rabin issued a decision on April 13, 2021 removing McCormick from the ballot, citing those irregularities.

Detectives from OPIA subsequently launched an investigation, conducting interviews with multiple individuals whose names appeared on the petitions submitted by Devine, but who said they did not submit a petition or authorize one in support of McCormick’s nomination.

Devine then admitted multiple times to detectives that he uploaded erroneous voter information onto petition forms that were submitted to the Division of Elections on behalf of McCormick’s campaign.

Third-degree crimes can carry a prison sentence of three to five years and a $15,000 fine. Fourth-degree offenses could lead to up to 18 months in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The case is being prosecuted by deputy attorneys general Andrew Wellbrock and Max Lesser, under the supervision of OPIA Corruption Bureau Deputy Chief Heather Hausleben, Chief Peter Lee, OPIA Deputy Director Anthony Picione and OPIA Executive Director Tom Eicher.

Defense attorney: Melissa Karabulut, Esq.

Governor Murphy Highlights Proposed $10 Million For Firefighter Grant Program

Continues Support of Local and Regional Firefighter Departments Across New Jersey

May 2, 2023

PARAMUS – Governor Phil Murphy today visited Paramus Fire Company 3 to highlight his proposed addition of $10 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding for Fiscal Year 2024 to support the continuation of the Firefighter Grant Program, which first launched in May 2022. The ARP Firefighter Grant Program provides funding to local and regional fire departments across New Jersey to ensure firefighters have proper protective, cleaning, and sanitization equipment.

“The firefighters of our state provide an essential service and they deserve to do so with the best equipment the market has to offer. That is why I was pleased to announce an additional $10 million dollars towards the American Rescue Plan Firefighter Grant Program in my proposed budget,” said Governor Murphy. “Our first responders risk their lives daily to make sure our communities are safe and healthy, and this Administration will continue to prioritize their needs to keep them safe while they do their jobs.”

During last year’s round of funding, the Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) Division of Local Government Services (DLGS) awarded a total of 293 fire departments up to $56,000 to cover the costs of much needed equipment, including:

protective clothing (turnout clothing ensembles, pants, garments, helmets, hoods, gloves, footwear, etc.); cleaning and advanced cleaning equipment; oxygen equipment; personal protective equipment (PPE); and other fire/virus protection equipment as determined to be appropriate by DLGS.

Grant awards were prioritized towards volunteer fire departments, like Paramus Fire Company 3, as well as departments in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

If included in the final budget approved by the Legislature, the grant program would once again be administered by the Department of Community Affairs.

“The Firefighter Grant Program is meeting a huge need for fire departments across the state, which is why Governor Murphy and I are continuing this important program,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. “We see that sometimes fire departments can’t replace equipment such as self-contained breathing apparatus facemasks, respirators, protective hoods, and turnout gear like helmets, jackets, boots, and gloves when they should because they don’t have the funding necessary. This program is making a measurable difference in getting our firefighters the resources they need to do their jobs safely and effectively in emergency situations.”

“When it comes to protecting all of our first responders, whether that’s firefighters, law enforcement, or EMTs, we know that we have to invest to protect. That’s why we are here today, standing together. We need to reinvest in our American Rescue Plan Firefighter Grant Program for Jersey — for our local fire departments to purchase the gear and equipment they need,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer. “These are dollars that don’t have to come out of town budgets. These are our tax dollars that are actually coming back from the federal government to help our families and communities here in Jersey – and not going to the Moocher States.”

“I am thrilled to see Governor Phil Murphy allocate $10 million in American Rescue Plan funding to ensure our first responders have the support they deserve,” said Congressman Bill Pascrell. “As a longtime advocate for New Jersey’s fire services, I know firsthand the critical role our brave firefighters play in protecting our communities. This investment not only safeguards the wellbeing of our residents, but also demonstrates Democrats’ unwavering commitment to the heroes who put their lives on the line every day.”
“Our local firefighters and first responders work around the clock to keep our communities safe, and answer the call when the alarm sounds,” said Senator Joseph Lagana. “These resources will help make sure needed equipment and tools are up to standard, that protective gear is up to date, and that emergency vehicles are maintained and in good working order. The continuation of this grant will safeguard first responders, and allow them to properly and professionally do their jobs on a moment’s notice.”

“The health and well-being of New Jersey’s firefighters remains a top priority. These men and women risk their lives to protect our communities, and we must ensure they have all of the equipment necessary to stay safe in the line of duty,” said Assemblymembers Lisa Swain and Chris Tully. “Through the continuation of the American Rescue Plan Firefighter Grant Program, we will uplift local and regional fire houses, putting critical resources within reach to support our bravest citizens. This important investment will help keep our families, neighbors and first responders safe.”

“As a two-time fire chief with over 47 years of experience in the fire service, I understand how critically important it is for first responders to have the resources and tools necessary to perform on a moment’s notice and at the highest level,” said Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco. “I applaud Governor Murphy and his administration’s commitment to the fire response community through new the American Rescue Plan Firefighter Grant Program, which will provide essential funding to our local and regional departments across New Jersey.”

“I thank Governor Murphy for visiting our station today to highlight his continued support of our state’s first responders,” said Vincent Torre, Assistant Chief and Volunteer Firefighter.

“As we gather here today to support this much needed grant, our very own legislative chairman Bobby Allen Paterson FMBA local 2 is undergoing a 10 hour surgery as he continues his battle against Cancer.  This disease is a real concern for Firefighters across our Country and on behalf of our over 6000 members I say thank you to our Governor for standing shoulder to shoulder with us as battle against cancer,” said Edwin Donnelly, President NJ FMBA.

“The Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey are honored to stand with the governor to announce the reauthorization of the 10 million dollar Firefighter grant.  PFANJ firefighters across this state run into harms way everyday, this funding allows departments to purchase the equipment we need to effectively do our jobs,” said Steve McConlogue. President Professional Firefighters Association of
New Jersey, IAFF, AFL-CIO.

“The NJ State Firefighters Association applauds Governor Murphy for his continued commitment to the health and safety of our volunteer and career firefighters through his Adminstration’s Amercian Rescue Plan Firefighter Grant Program,” said NJ State Firefighter’s Association President Robert Ordway.  “As first responders, our 54,000 members are committed to protecting New Jersey’s residents and property when called upon.   We stand proudly with the Governor and his team as he protects the health and safety of our firefighters through his proposed investment of an additonal $10 million to ensure fire departments are able to procure essential protective and sanitization equipment.”

Governor Murphy announces an additional $10 million in his Fiscal Year 2024 budget proposal to support the Firefighter Grant Program on Tuesday, May 2, 2023 in Paramus. Govenor’s Office Photos

Manchester, NJ, Man Charged With Narcotics Distribution

May 2, 2023

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer has announced that Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force collaborated with the Manchester Township Police Department, Manchester Township Police Department Narcotics Enforcement Team, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit, to conduct an investigation into the distribution of cocaine in Ocean County.  This cooperative, multi-agency investigation identified a residence in Manchester Township as being utilized by Ricardo Cruickshank, 29, of Manchester Township, to store and distribute cocaine. 

Detectives from the aforementioned law enforcement agencies initiated surveillance on the subject residence in Manchester.  On March 30, 2023, Detectives observed Cruickshank exit the residence and walk towards a BMW sedan.  During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the BMW was being utilized by Cruickshank to store quantities of cocaine.  Cruickshank was detained while Detectives executed a court-authorized search warrant on the vehicle.  As a result, Detectives seized approximately 90 grams of cocaine.  Cruickshank was thereafter placed under arrest.

Ocean County Regional SWAT thereafter executed a court-authorized search warrant on the subject residence.  As a result, Detectives seized a large quantity of marijuana and approximately $1,290 in United States currency.

Ricardo Cruickshank was charged with Possession of More than One-Half Ounce but Less than Five Ounces of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute, Possession of More than One Ounce of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute, Possession of Cocaine, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.  Cruickshank was served with the charges via summons pending an upcoming first appearance in Ocean County Superior Court.

Prosecutor Billhimer commends the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Asset Forfeiture Unit, Manchester Township Police Department, Manchester Township Police Department Narcotics Enforcement Team, Manchester Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Ocean County Regional SWAT, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit, for their combined and collective efforts in connection with 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)(6).

Sharon School Student Philanthropists Gives Back To 13 Local Nonprofit Organizations

May 2, 2023

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)On April 28, the Sharon School Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Sharon School Student Council along with Sharon Elementary School hosted their fifth-annual “Sharon Shines” event, a day of service-learning in which the entire school supported several nonprofits in our local community. 

Across the 54 PreK – 4th grade classrooms, excitement and engagement were felt by the 1,000 student participants, 79 parent volunteers, and members of the Robbinsville Town Council and Board of Education. All students learned about 13 local nonprofits in the community through an engaging video and lesson plan.

During the interactive piece of the lesson, Pre-K, Kindergarten, and First Grade constructed 359 snack bags to be delivered to the local organizations.  Second Grade wrapped 2,150 utensils in napkins.  The Third and Fourth Grades created 217 activity bags and 209 cards.

Danielle Liegl, Sharon PTA’s President, explained: “Sharon Shines is an incredible program that introduces the students of Sharon Elementary to philanthropy.  Not only does it aim to educate the students, but it also provides hands-on experience.  This shows that no matter the age, one person can make a difference.” 

This year’s event benefitted the Robbinsville Senior Center, Robbinsville Meals on Wheels, Rose Hill Assisted Living, Project Freedom Inc., HomeFront, ONE Project, Be Kind, Shine and Inspire, Inc., Mercer Street Friends Preschool, Better Beginnings Child Development Center, NJ Rise, JFCS of Greater Mercer County and the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen.

Celeste Albert, the Sharon Shines Coordinator, expressed appreciation to the Sharon School community for donating more than 6,000 items included in the snack and activity bags. A special thanks to the Sharon Elementary Faculty, Sharon School Student Council, Sharon Shines Committee, Parent Volunteers and Master Peter’s Ama and Bright Vision for being donation drop-off locations.  

Dr. Nicole Bootier, Sharon School Principal, said: “Sharon Shines is a great opportunity for our students to learn about local nonprofit organizations right here in our community.  We are grateful for our partnership with our PTA and students and staff enjoyed participating in such an authentic learning experience.” 

A group of mixed grade levels showing their artwork for the community

Students assembled utensil packets.

Students detail the work they did through the Sharon Shines event.

Artwork made for local community partners.