Month: September 2023

Trenton Police Department Announces Statistics for 2023 Summer Initiative Task Force

September 21, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Trenton Police Department has released statistics detailing the results of the Summer Initiative Task Force. Starting in June, the joint effort between TPD, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, Federal Law Enforcement Partners, the State Police, and Trenton’s Street Teams resulted in numerous arrests, the confiscation of drugs and weapons, and multiple summonses issued, amongst other accomplishments before completing on September 10.

Detectives and Officers utilized various deployment efforts including: targeting known violent offenders with active arrest warrants, conducting vehicle interdictions and increasing traffic enforcement, utilizing Packetalk cameras to covertly conduct surveillance throughout the city, increasing suppression patrol and Walk and Rides in the “Hot Spots” throughout various parts of the City, and addressing complaints submitted to the Director’s Office, City Hall and the Tip Line regarding the open-air use/sale of illegal narcotics, violations of city ordinances, and weapons offenses.

“I am immensely proud of the work Director Wilson has spearheaded with this Summer Initiative Task Force. This collaboration between TPD, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, the State Police, and our Street Teams has resulted in great success. Thousands of doses of harmful, illicit drugs are now off our streets. Over sixty firearms have been seized, nearly 350 arrests conducted, and over $50,000 cash has been confiscated and removed from illicit trade, among numerous other achievements. Thank you to this collaborative team for helping make our streets and communities safer for all,” said Mayor Reed Gusciora.

The chart shows the amount of drugs, guns, arrests made, and money confiscated throughout each month and the total number for the summer.

Aside from arrests and the confiscation of drugs, weapons, and money, the Task Force also focused on clearing warrants, increasing patrols and traffic enforcement, and responding to complaints and notifications of city ordinance violations and weapons offenses.

In June, the initiative led to 79 cleared warrants, 391 motor vehicle stops, 521 motor vehicle summonses issued, 42 vehicles towed, and 100 violations of City Ordinance summonses issued.

In July, these efforts led to 69 cleared warrants, 383 motor vehicle stops, 733 motor vehicle summonses issued, 54 vehicles towed, and 201 violations of City Ordinance summonses issued.

In August, 154 warrants were cleared, 468 motor vehicle stops conducted, 780 motor vehicle summonses issued, 93 vehicles towed, and 165 violations of City Ordinance summonses issued.

From September 1 – 10, there were 31 warrants cleared, 133 motor vehicle stops, 236 motor vehicle summonses, 15 vehicles towed, and 32 violations of City Ordinance summonses issued.

In total, the Initiative resulted in 333 warrants cleared, 1375 motor vehicle stops, 2270 motor vehicle summonses, 204 vehicles towed, and 498 violations.

Cumulatively, these efforts resulted in the seizure of 584 grams of crack-cocaine, 8254 decks of heroin, 61 firearms, and $53,309 in cash off city streets and out of the hands of drug and firearm traffickers. 342 arrests were conducted over the course of the summer.

“I want to thank every Officer and Detective who played a part in making the Summer Initiative successful. After a hectic start, we were able to curb the violence and make the Capital City a safer place for all residents during the Summer and will continue to do so as the year goes on,” Director Wilson said.

Prosecutor Identifies 37-Year-Old Man Shot and Killed In Trenton Saturday Night

September 20, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Mercer County Homicide Task Force and the Trenton Police Department are investigating a fatal shooting that occurred this weekend in the city, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported.

Just before midnight on Saturday, September 16, 2023, Trenton police responded to the area of Brunswick Avenue and Middle Rose Street for multiple ShotSpotter activations.  Upon arrival, officers located a male victim in a sidewalk area in the center of Middle Rose Street suffering from numerous gunshot wounds.  The victim, identified as Balil Lewis, 37, of Trenton, was transported to Capital Health Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead a few hours later.

No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.  Anyone with information is asked to contact MCHTF Detective Jacob Schor at (609) 414-1179 or OIC William Jett Jr. at (609) 331-5010.  Information can also be emailed to

Names of the 2023 Trenton Homicide Victims

  1. 1/16/2023 Donnell Williams, 29, Trenton, Shooting.
  2. 2/12/2023 Stephanie Vil, 34, of Burlington, Shooting.
  3. 2/16/2023 Khalil Glanton, 23, Trenton, Stabbing.
  4. 3/24/2023 Harold Rosario, 19, Trenton, Shooting.
  5. 3/26/2023 Nyeisha Saunders, 41, Trenton, Shooting.
  6. 4/09/2023 Jhosse Tolentino, 23, Trenton, Shooting
  7. 4/12/2023 Jared Anderson, Trenton, Shooting (died May 29)
  8. 4/14/2023 Daniel Garvin, 46, Trenton, Shooting
  9. 4/20/2023 Ralph Conquest, 43, of Lawrence, Shooting
  10. 5/14/2023 Roger Martinez-Rodriguez, 27, Trenton, Stabbing
  11. 5/14/2023 Justin Reed, 24, of Ewing, Shooting (died May 22)
  12. 5/26/2023 Sherief Treadwell, 36, Trenton, Shooting
  13. 6/09/2023 Markell Biggs, 20, Trenton, Shooting
  14. 6/11/2023 Shaquan Brown, 23, Trenton, Shooting
  15. 6/15/2023 James Junior Journigan, 36, Shooting
  16. 6/15/2023 Louis Washington, 38, Trenton, Shooting, (died June 17)
  17. 6/19/2023 Ernest Denard, 61, Stabbing
  18. 6/22/2023 Guillermo Sanchez, Shooting
  19. 7/01/2023 Precious Saunders, 32, of Trenton
  20. 8/23/2023 Taquan Foxworth, 29, of Trenton, Shooting 8/19
  21. 9/02/2023 Ronald Taylor, 40, of Trenton, Shooting
  22. 9/16/2023 Balil Lewis, 37, of Trenton, Shooting

Ewing Firefighters Extinguish House Fire

September 19, 2023

EWING, NJ (Mercer) – Fire badly damaged a home on Beacon Avenue and sent one resident to the hospital early this morning (Tuesday, Sept. 19).

It was 6:06 a.m. when Ewing Township career firefighters and volunteers from the Prospect Heights and West Trenton volunteer fire companies were dispatched. Smoke was rising into the dawning sky as firefighters responded. They arrived to find flames shooting from the windows of a room on the first floor of 116 Beacon Avenue.

Hoselines were stretched and put to work, a water supply was established from a nearby hydrant, and additional firefighters were called to the scene from Trenton, Hopewell, Pennington and Lawrence. The blaze was declared under control at 6:33 a.m.

One resident, reportedly suffering from minor injuries, was transported by a Trenton ambulance to Capital Health Regional Medical Center.

The cause of the blaze was being investigated by township fire and police officials.

This blaze occurred almost directly across the street where a man was killed in a fire at 113 Beacon Avenue on Jan. 27, 2021.

Toms River Woman Sentenced To State Prison For Vehicular Homicide

September 19, 2023

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on September 15, 2023, Ashley Beams, 32, of Toms River Township, was sentenced by the Honorable Guy P. Ryan, P.J.Cr.P., to five years New Jersey State Prison as a result of her previously entered guilty plea to Vehicular Homicide in connection with a motor vehicle crash that occurred in Toms River on February 8, 2022 – resulting in the death of James Cruz, 62, of the Parlin section of Old Bridge Township.  This sentence will be subject to the terms of the No Early Release Act, meaning that Beams will be required to serve at least 85 percent of her prison sentence before she may be considered for parole eligibility. Beams pled guilty to the charge before Judge Ryan on July 24, 2023. Additionally, on September 15, 2023, Beams pled guilty to the motor vehicle offense of Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol; as a consequence, Judge Ryan suspended Beams’ driving privileges for a term of one year.

On February 8, 2022, at approximately 10:30 p.m., Officers from the Toms River Township Police Department responded to the area of Bay Avenue for a report of a motor vehicle crash.  Responding Officers determined that James Cruz had been struck by a motor vehicle operated by Beams.  An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Toms River Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, revealed that Beams had been traveling eastbound on Bay Avenue approaching the cross street of Twin Oaks Drive.  Shortly after passing Twin Oaks Drive, Beams failed to maintain her lane of travel and entered the shoulder – striking Mr. Cruz – who at the time was retrieving a package from the trunk of his vehicle.  As a result of the collision, Mr. Cruz was pinned between the two vehicles and carried a significant distance eastbound on Bay Avenue.  Mr. Cruz was subsequently pronounced deceased at the scene.

Beams was transported to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune for treatment of injuries she sustained in the crash.  Blood samples taken from Beams at the hospital and in furtherance of the investigation revealed that her Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) at the time of the collision was substantially higher than .08.  In the State of New Jersey, an operator of a motor vehicle is presumed to be over the legal limit for purposes of alcohol consumption where the operator’s BAC is .08 or greater.  On February 16, 2022, Beams was arrested by Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit at her residence.  She was transported to the Ocean County Jail, and subsequently released as a consequence of New Jersey Bail Reform.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Robert Cassidy and Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Jamie Schron who handled the case on behalf of the State, and commends the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Advocacy Unit, Toms River Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation leading to Beams’ guilty pleas – and now her state prison sentence.

East Windsor Township Remembers 22nd Anniversary of 9/11

September 19, 2023

EAST WINDSOR TOWNSHIP.   East Windsor Township held a 9/11 ceremony including a wreath laying to remember the 22nd Anniversary of 9/11 on Monday, September 11 at the East Windsor Municipal Building grounds, at the 9/11 Memorial.  East Windsor Township held and dedicated a 9/11 Memorial 30 days after the events of 9/11 and annually has honored and remembered this day.  East Windsor annually remembers Township residents Colleen Barkow, Lorraine Bay, Debbie Bellows, Anil Bharvaney, Neil Lai, Ruth Lapin as well as Joseph Pycior, and All Other Lost September 11, 2001.

Participants in the ceremony included:  East Windsor Volunteer Fire Company No. 1;  East Windsor Volunteer Fire Company No. 2;  Boy Scout Troops 6284 and 63;  Cub Scout Pack 53;  Girl Scout Troops;  Apollo Lodge #41;  Natalie Maldonado, East Windsor Regional School District, Hightstown High School;  East Windsor Regional School District, Hightstown High School Small Ensemble;  Rabbi Jay Kornsgold, Beth El Synagogue;  Reverend Stephen E. Bryant, Sr., St. James AME Church;  Reverend James R. Egan, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church;  Police Chief Jason Hart and Police Department, and Mayor Janice S. Mironov and elected officials.

A wreath laying ceremony at the East Windsor Township 9/11 memorial on the municipal building grounds took place during the Township community remembrance program. Pictured (from left to right) are: Chief Brian Foley, East Windsor Volunteer Fire Company No. 2; Mayor Janice S. Mironov; Chief Gerald Laughlin, East Windsor Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 and United States Air Force Veteran, East Windsor Police Lieutenant Ryan Mattek.

Local Boy Scout Troops 6284, 5700 and 59, Girl Scout Troops 70913 and 72965 and Cub Scout Pack 53 presented the colors at the East Windsor Township 9/11 remembrance ceremony.

Elected officials, clergy, police officers, fire company and rescue squad volunteers, school district, veterans and scouts participated in the ceremony at the East Windsor Township 9/11 memorial to remember and honor the anniversary of September 11. The ceremony took place at the existing 9/11 Memorial located on the grounds of the East Windsor Township Municipal Building (16 Lanning Boulevard).

Getinge, Global Life Science Company, to Relocate to Innovation Park Complex in East Windsor

September 19, 2023

EAST WINDSOR TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)– Mayor Janice S. Mironov, joined by Council Members Denise Daniels, Anthony Katawick, David Russell and John Zoller, along with Frank Kozar, Getinge Vice President of Logistics Americas and Jim Murray, Ares Industrial Management Managing Director/US Development, announced that Getinge, the global medical device technology company, will occupy the entire newly constructed 167,500 square foot building in the Innovation Park complex on Princeton-Hightstown Road, in East Windsor Township. 

Getinge, founded in 1904 in Sweden, is a global medical device technology company which provides innovative equipment and systems to healthcare and life sciences industries, which improve people’s quality of life and save lives.  Getinge, using digital advances, is helping to create an improved work environment for healthcare staff with products that simplify their work, lead to increased productivity and save more lives.  Getinge assists with devices and systems in a variety of healthcare settings, including for intensive care situations, cardiovascular procedures, operating rooms and sterile processing.  The company boasts over 11,000 employees operating in 40 countries and 25,000 customers in over 130 countries.  The new Getinge East Windsor Innovation Park facility will join production centers in France, China, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Turkey, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Mayor Mironov stated,  “We are extremely excited to welcome to East Windsor globally-established life sciences company Getinge, which develops tools to improve the delivery of health care services.  Getinge, a medical device and systems technology innovator, is squarely consistent with the Township vision for this prominently located and impressively designed modern Innovation Park complex.”

Mayor Mironov continued,  “We are proud to have Getinge join other Route 571 corridor high-tech and pharmaceutical-related corporations, including Shiseido America, Aurobindo Pharma, QTS and ForDoz Pharma.  East Windsor’s strategic prime location in central New Jersey mid-way between New York and Philadelphia, excellent access to major transportation networks, availability of highly skilled labor and hands on business friendly local government environment have contributed to the Township success.”

Frank Kozar, Getinge Vice President, Logistics Americas stated,  “At Getinge, we are committed to providing medical devices that saves lives and are excited to open our new center in East Windsor.  The location and size of the facility fit our business needs and we already feel very welcomed by the Township Mayor and leadership.”  

Jim Murray, Managing Director and Head of US Development for Ares Industrial Management, stated,  “As the owner and landlord of Innovation Business Park, we are pleased to welcome Getinge to the Park with a full building lease.  Tenant Improvements are underway and we anticipate Getinge beginning occupancy by year end.  This is a great fit for the Park and the Township and we look forward to continuing to work with Mayor Mironov and the Township in bringing another first class business to the second building in the development.”

The newly constructed contemporary Innovation Park, located on an 86.97 acres formerly occupied by McGraw Hill and comprised of two buildings, is designed to attract innovative high-tech and pharmaceutical-related business.  Innovation Park incorporates modern unique architectural features and extensive outdoor public green spaces, landscaping and berming with deciduous, ornamental and evergreen trees, benches and other amenities, and a walking pathway.

Mayor Janice S. Mironov and Council Members join Getinge and Ares Industrial Management executives to announce the opening of Getinge’s new facility in Innovation Park on Princeton-Hightstown Road in East Windsor Township.  Pictured (from left to right) are:  Council Member David Russell;  Council Member Anthony Katawick;  Council Member Denise Daniels;  Mayor Janice S. Mironov;  Frank Kozar, Vice President, Logistics Americas, Getinge;  Jim Murray, Managing Director and Head of US Development, Ares Industrial Management, and Council Member John Zoller.

Mayor Janice S. Mironov and Council Members join Getinge and Ares Industrial Management executives to announce the opening of Getinge’s new facility in Innovation Park on Princeton-Hightstown Road in East Windsor Township.  Pictured (from left to right) are:  Council Member David Russell;  Council Member Anthony Katawick;  Council Member Denise Daniels;  Council Member John Zoller;  Mayor Janice S. Mironov;  Frank Kozar, Vice President, Logistics Americas, Getinge, and Jim Murray, Managing Director and Head of US Development, Ares Industrial Management.

Getinge will locate in the newly constructed modern Innovation Park complex, located on 86.97 acres formerly occupied by McGraw Hill on Princeton Hightstown Road.  Innovation Park, comprised of two buildings, is designed to attract innovative high-tech business and incorporates modern attractive architectural features and berming with deciduous, ornamental and evergreen trees, extensive outdoor landscaped public spaces, benches and a walking pathway.

Perth Amboy Redevelopment Agency Approves Agreement for the “Gateway” Project

44-acre Parcel to Include Open Space, Warehousing, and Remediated Parcels for Downtown Redevelopment

September 19, 2023

PERTH AMBOY – The Perth Amboy Redevelopment Agency (PARA) has signed an agreement with a developer to remediate and redevelop a 44-acre blighted assemblage of properties known as “Gateway.”

Under the deal with Viridian Partners of Denver, the redeveloper will invest more than $110 million to clean contaminated parcels of land between the Route 35 Victory Bridge, Smith Street and Riverside Drive. The project, once completed, is expected to generate more than 400 long-term jobs and $1 million in local tax revenue.

As part of the plan, more than nine acres of land abutting the Smith Street business corridor will be remediated and “pad ready” for the city at no cost.  Perth Amboy officials will decide how best to redevelop the land.

In addition, the developer will remediate and improve an additional nine acres of land for Perth Amboy residents’ passive recreation, including natural areas surrounding Sonnaman’s Creek, with trails leading to a gazebo on a hill to be constructed overlooking the Raritan River.

About 25 acres will be used to construct a one-story, 471,000-square-foot, Class A, state-of-the-art warehouse.  Trucks accessing the warehouse must use Riverview Drive via its intersection at Smith Street to minimize traffic in business and residential areas. In addition, berms, buffer landscaping, and other natural screens will be used to minimize the impacts of the warehouse development.

“We’re eager to take advantage of the commercial possibilities of this large swath of developable property and maximize its ideal proximity to Route 440 and other major highways,” said Perth Amboy Mayor Helmin J. Caba. “Working closely with PARA and the developer, we are moving forward with a three-pronged strategy. The developer is paying to remediate the land, create a public park, and turn nine acres of valuable land into buildable property as part of our overall downtown redevelopment initiatives.”

PARA selected Viridian Partners because of the firm’s experience in remediating contaminated complex properties in Middlesex County and converting large industrial sites into clean, tax-generating uses.

As part of its portfolio, the company launched the ePort 1 warehouse project along 102 acres of the Arthur Kill in Perth Amboy and redeveloped a 400-acre former munitions plant in Cranbury. The site now includes warehouses for Amazon and Wayfair; 150 of the 400 acres are maintained as clean conservation areas.

Michael Cahn, a principal with Viridian Partners, said about 75% of the company’s developments are concentrated from Burlington County to Union County, as the 20-year-old firm seeks environmentally distressed properties near the New Jersey Turnpike and other major highways. Its other large developments are based in Florida, California, and Pennsylvania.

“What excites us about the Gateway project is its phenomenal proximity to highways; it is a perfect fit for our model of remediating complex properties,” said Cahn, noting there is also a landfill on the site the firm will address. “We are eager to move forward with Mayor Caba and PARA, breathing new life into the entire neighborhood and directly addressing a blighted eyesore awaiting redevelopment for decades.”

The site formerly housed a roofing company that manufactured asbestos shingles, closing an estimated 23 years ago, Cahn said. Viridian Partners has been working with the city since 2014 to create the overall plan for the vast site; it requires the developer to assemble 28 parcels to comply with the redeveloper’s agreement.

PARA Executive Director Tashi Vazquez said the next step is for Viridian Partners to submit a site plan to the city’s Planning Board for review and secure approvals from Middlesex County and the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The redeveloper’s agreement calls for the developer to break ground no later than spring 2025. Cahn anticipates it will take one year to remediate the property, addressing all geotechnical issues, and a second year for vertical construction of the Class A warehouse and nine-acre open space area.

“The city has been discussing the possibilities at Gateway for years; now is the time for action,” Vazquez said. “We have terrific, visionary partners working with Mayor Caba and Viridian Partners. We all have the same aggressive objectives for this major parcel: To create a lasting redevelopment project that offers many direct benefits to Perth Amboy residents. Working together, we are making it happen.”

Head-On Crash on Route 537 Leaves One Dead and One in Serious Condition

September 17, 2023

UPPER FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–New Jersey State Police, SFC Philip Curry of the Office of Public Information told that on September 17, 2023, a crash occurred at 2:50 p.m. on County Road 537 westbound milepost 34.4 in Upper Freehold. The preliminary investigation revealed that a Jeep Laredo was traveling westbound on County Route 537 in Upper Freehold Township, Monmouth County. A Buick Enclave was traveling eastbound on County Route 537. In the area of milepost 34.4 the Jeep crossed over the center line in an attempt to overtake traffic and impacted the Buick head on. As a result of this crash the driver of the Buick, a 79-year-old female from Manalapan, NJ, sustained fatal injuries. The driver of the Jeep, John Shovelin III, 23, of Rumson, NJ, sustained serious injuries. The crash remains under investigation.

BAPS Celebrates Veterans Appreciation Day in Robbinsville, New Jersey

BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham Shines Spotlight on Heroes: Veterans’ Commemoration Event

September 17, 2023

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–On September 16, 2023, the BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham hosted a Veterans Appreciation Day ceremony with nearly 100 veterans, active-duty military, and their families in attendance. Set outdoors against the backdrop of Akshardham, U.S. Armed Forces’ veterans were honored for their dedication and commitment to the nation.

BAPS, along with members of the local community, deeply appreciated the service, courage, and commitment of the current and former members of the U.S. Military. They gathered to pay tribute to the brave men and women who have selflessly served the nation, defending the principles of freedom, liberty, and democracy. The ceremony was led by SSgt Angelina Mehta, who has proudly been serving in the US Marine Corps for 20 years and is also a dedicated BAPS volunteer.

The program commenced with a presentation of the colors by the Burlington High School JROTC (Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) and a moment of silence for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation. It was then followed by a beautiful duet of the American national anthem. 

Rooted in the spirit of service, both BAPS and our U.S. Military champion the value of giving back and selflessly serving society. Ms. Medina Wilson, Chief of Veteran Services of Mercer County, spoke on behalf of Mercer County Executive, Mr. Brian Hughes, and was honored to recognize the contributions of veterans. She shared BAPS’ excitement to commence this annual Veterans Appreciation Day at Akshardham. 

A highlight of the program included a heartfelt pinning ceremony as a token of BAPS’ appreciation for the veterans’ unwavering dedication. The presentation also recognized and acknowledged the role of families of veterans and active-duty U.S. Armed Forces. Families are the foundation of our nation’s strength and resilience that enable our armed forces to serve with purpose. 

Captain Robert E. Smyth delivered a touching speech on the qualities of veterans and how to honor all branches of our Armed Services. “It’s an honor and privilege to be here today. Veterans Appreciation Days are my favorite and happiest days. There are 21 million veterans in the US. I also want to thank those that are on active duty and in the reserves. This organization [BAPS] here wants to reach out to local veterans and help veterans and their families.” 

The program also commemorated National POW/MIA Recognition Day with profound respect and solemnity, observed on September 15, 2023. This day of remembrance honors those Americans who were prisoners of war and those who served and never returned home from the call of duty. A Missing Man table was set up in honor of those brave individuals to understand their sacrifice and pay tribute to those who are not with us today.

SSgt Angelina Mehta concluded the program by asking each participant to reflect on the powerful message of selfless service and harmony. She remarked “Akshardham stands as a testament to the incredible achievements that can be accomplished when individuals come together in unity and dedication, regardless of their background or beliefs. It is a symbol of the profound impact we can have on the world when we work towards a common purpose.” She also reflected on Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s (former spiritual leader of BAPS) life motto, ‘In the joy of others, lies our own’ and shared, “This timeless wisdom reminds us that our happiness is intertwined with the wellbeing of those around us. It calls upon us to extend our hands in service and compassion, just as our veterans have done for our nation… Let us carry this spirit forward, fostering unity and understanding in our communities and continuing to support those who have given so much to our nation.”

Photos and story provided.

About BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham

The BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham at Robbinsville, NJ, is a nexus of Hindu architecture, culture, unity, and selfless service. Bridging India’s heritage with modern America, it embodies the visionary guidance of BAPS’ spiritual leaders Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Mahant Swami Maharaj. Created by 12,500 volunteers, this masterpiece stands as an enduring symbol of love, peace, hope, and harmony, while preserving traditions across generations.

About BAPS

BAPS is a volunteer-driven spiritual organization committed to fostering individual growth through Hindu values of faith, service, and harmony. It enriches society with the devoted efforts of tens of thousands of volunteers from diverse professional and social backgrounds, contributing millions of volunteer hours annually. Under the spiritual leadership of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, BAPS nurtures Indian traditions in over 100 North American and 3,500 communities worldwide. Through these communities, it champions holistic personal growth, promotes social progress, and encourages diversity by embracing inclusivity across class, race, gender, and culture.

Fire Damages Exterior Of School of Wine In Toms River

September 17, 2023

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Toms River Police reported that just after 1:30 a.m., this morning multiple police and fire units were dispatched to Toms River Brewing on Route 37 West for an active structure fire. The fire travelled to the front of Bacchus School of Wine causing significant damage to the exterior of the building. Multiple fire companies arrived on scene and extinguished the blaze.
There were no reported injuries at the scene. The Toms River Bureau of Fire Prevention is investigating the cause of the fire. Please direct any further inquiries to them.

REV UP NJ and Alliance Center for Independence Hold Rally At NJ Statehouse

September 15, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER) The November NJ Statewide Elections are crucial for people with disabilities. Both the state senate and state assembly are up for grabs.

“There is a lot at stake and our voices need to be heard,” said Carole Tonks, executive director of the Alliance Center for Independence (ACI) ACI leads REV UP in New Jersey, which is part of a national movement that promotes the turn out of people with disabilities for elections. REV UP was started by American Association People with Disabilities (AAPD)in 2016, and the name stands for “Register, Educate, Vote, Use your Power!”

REV UP’s mission is to build the power of the disability vote. REV UP NJ and ACI hosted an event at the NJ State House to kick off their fall election activities and to celebrate the power of the disability vote. It feature speeches by voting rights advocates, resources tables, and live entertainment. NJ Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin gave the keynote address and said that democracy is strongest when everyone votes. Other speakers reinforced that theme.

“Before we go to public meetings, before we demonstrate, before we conduct sit-ins, and before we get arrested, we need to vote. The rest is meaningless unless we exercise our right to vote,” declared Norman A. Smith, co-founder of Project Freedom Inc.

REV UP NJ is dedicated to remove barriers to voting, promote accessible voting machines and polling places, educate voters about issues and candidates and protect voters’ rights to participate in elections.

Photos below by: Brian McCarthy, Onscene News

One Dead, Two Critical, Ten Displaced In 2-Alarm Fire In Trenton

September 15, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Trenton Police Department, Public Information Officer, Detective Lieutenant, Nathan Bolognini told reported that there was a 2-Alarm fire at apartment buildings 205-207 Hamilton Avenue this morning around 6:43 a.m. Ten people were displaced, one was deceased, one critical and one extremely critical that was transported to a burn unit. The fire remains under investigation at this time.

No further details are available.

Original story:

Trenton police and fire dispatchers received multiple 9-1-1 calls around 6:43 a.m. for a reported fire with entrapment at 207 Hamilton Avenue. Firefighters reported heavy fire from the 2nd floor and called for an “all-hands” sending additional units to the scene around 6:45 a.m. Two minutes later at 6:47 a.m. A Second Alarm was called and there was reported entrapment on the third floor of the apartment building. Firefighters pulled a victim out at 6:55 a.m. on the primary search of the building. At 7:02 p.m. additional police were called to help with traffic as cars were running over the fire hoses in the street. The fire was placed under control at 7:14 a.m. Additional units from the area were called into the City to cover firehouses. – Preliminary information from radio reports and times are approximate.

Police Report J&J Evacuated In Titusville; No Hazard Identified After Investigation

September 14, 2023

HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Hopewell Township Police reported that during a staff assembly today, on-site at the Titusville J&J facility, several people experienced symptoms of lightheadedness. Out of an abundance of caution, the building was evacuated.

Local EMS, fire, police, and HazMat teams arrived on-site and investigated the incident. The building
was checked for hazards by firefighters and then by the HazMat team. No hazard was identified. The
building systems were checked again and shortly after, Fire/EMS Officials cleared the building for staff to
return. Police and Fire assisted the staff as they re-occupied the building and all First Responders
cleared the scene. There was no danger to the public and the facility is currently operating normally.

Responding units included: Hopewell Township Police, Hopewell Valley Emergency Services Unit, Union
Fire Department, Trenton Fire Department/HazMat, Capital Health EMS (ALS and BLS), Ewing EMS,
Lawrence EMS.

South Carolina Man Found Guilty by Jury in the Murder of an Edison Man

September 14, 2023

Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone announced that a South Carolina man was found guilty by a Jury on September 12, 2023, for the killing of a man in the Township of Edison on December 20, 2018.
Marcus A. Wright, 27, was convicted of the murder of John Bertram, which occurred on December 20, 2018.

Mr. Bertram was shot to death while working as an employee of the Speedway Gas Station on Amboy Avenue, in Edison. On January 3, 2019, Wright was located in Beaufort, South Carolina and placed under arrest for the murder of Mr. Bertram. On September 12, 2023, Wright was found guilty of Murder in the 1st degree, Felony Murder in the 1st degree, Armed Robbery in the 1st degree, Conspiracy to Commit Armed Robbery in the 2nd degree, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon in the 2nd degree, and Possession of a Weapon For An Unlawful Purpose in the 2nd degree.

During the week-long trial that began on September 5, 2023, Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutors Lynne Seborowski and Caitlin Lavery presented evidence and testimony showing that Marcus Wright shot John Bertram during the course of committing an Armed Robbery at the Speedway Gas Station.

The investigation was led by Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office Lieutenant David Abromaitis and Lieutenant Loren Long of the Edison Police Department.

Sentencing is currently scheduled in New Brunswick, on November 1, 2023, before Superior Court Judge Andrea Carter. Wright will be facing a term of life in prison without parole.

Governor Murphy Announces Jacquelyn Suárez to Serve as Acting Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs

Governor Will Submit Suárez’s Nomination to the Senate

September 14, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today announced his intention to nominate Jacquelyn A. Suárez as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA). Suárez’s nomination follows the unexpected passing of Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver in August, who had served as DCA Commissioner since the start of the Murphy Administration.

Suárez currently serves as Director of DCA’s Division of Local Government Services (DLGS) and, effective Monday, September 18, will serve as Acting Commissioner of the department pending her confirmation by the Senate, making her the first Hispanic Commissioner to lead DCA. Suárez will lead the department in its ongoing mission to provide residents, local governments, businesses, and community development organizations with financial support, administrative guidance, and technical assistance to help improve the quality of life for New Jersey families.

“Jacquelyn has skillfully served our state for many years – lending her expertise to important legal and policy matters affecting municipalities throughout New Jersey,” said Governor Murphy. “When local governments were faced with tremendous challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, she stepped up as head of the Division of Local Government Services and provided local leaders with the support they needed during a difficult time. While Sheila Oliver can never truly be replaced, Jacquelyn will undoubtedly carry on Sheila’s legacy of passionate, dedicated leadership of this department on behalf of New Jersey’s communities.”

“I would be remiss to not extend my deepest gratitude to Kim Holmes, who has played a vital role in leading the department over the last several years and swiftly stepped up to the plate to head the department in one of our state’s darkest times,” Governor Murphy continued. “I appreciate her remarkable leadership in the month following Sheila’s passing and her firm commitment to the critical work of the Department of Community Affairs.” 

“It is a true honor to be nominated as the Department of Community Affairs’ next Commissioner. Having worked under the remarkable leadership of Lieutenant Governor Oliver, it is my pleasure to continue moving her legacy forward in serving the communities of our great state,” said incoming Acting Commissioner Suárez. “DCA plays a pivotal role in enhancing the quality of life for New Jersey residents, municipalities, and businesses – and I will remain steadfast in my commitment to honor each and every one of our communities with the utmost respect and dedication.”

Since she began leading the DLGS in January 2021, Suárez has served as an advocate for local government interests and provided them with technical and financial assistance in a number of areas – including joint services, purchasing, and management issues. She has also overseen the review and approval of all municipal, county, and fire district budgets, worked to uphold the financial integrity of local government units, and guided the conduct of local government officials.

As Director of DLGS, Suárez also served as Chair of the State’s Local Finance Board since January 2021.

Prior to serving as the Director of DLGS, Suárez provided legal advice to Governor Murphy on matters affecting his Administration as an associate counsel in the Governor’s Office. During her time in the Governor’s Office, Suárez advised on pending legislation, statutory responsibilities, litigation, the development of administrative regulations, and various proposals impacting the Governor’s public policy agenda. With a focus on issues related to the Departments of Community Affairs, Human Services, Children and Families, and the Administrative Office of the Courts, Suárez was integral to advancing the Governor’s agenda in these areas and, in particular, to spearheading many of the State’s COVID response policies such as the eviction moratorium. It was Suárez’s proven aptitude and successful track record that gave Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver the confidence to name her as the director of the DLGS.

Before joining the Governor’s Office, Suárez was a legislative liaison, making her DCA’s point person for all communication with the State Legislature, drafted bill language, spearheaded the implementation of newly signed legislation at DCA, and helped review and advise on various decisions, orders, settlements, and other matters impacting the Department. 

Suárez is a New Jersey native who earned her Juris Doctor from Rutgers School of Law in Camden and her bachelor’s degree in communications, legal institutions, economics, and government from American University in Washington D.C. She is a member of both the New Jersey and New York bar associations. She is also a member of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey.

“I’ve witnessed firsthand Jacquelyn’s dedication in her current role as Director of Local Government Services at DCA,” said Senator Nellie Pou, Senate Majority Caucus Chair. “As she steps into her new role, she not only carries the torch of our beloved Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver but also carries her vision for housing and community development in New Jersey. I look forward to continuing working with Jacquelyn in her new role as Acting Commissioner of DCA, while awaiting confirmation by the Senate.”

“Lieutenant Governor Oliver’s impact on the Department of Community Affairs will be felt for generations to come and I am glad that Governor Murphy has nominated such an incredible individual to take the helm of the Department,” said Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez, Chair of the Assembly Housing Committee. “Jacquelyn’s knowledge and experience, especially her role in assisting our local governments makes her an ideal candidate for the position and I am confident that she will continue our shared mission of ensuring housing opportunity for all. As Chair of the Housing Committee, I look forward to working and meeting with Acting Commissioner Suarez.”

“As a fellow attorney who holds a deep respect for the late Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, I am genuinely enthused to witness someone with a remarkable career, like Jacquelyn, stepping up to continue the Lt. Governor’s great legacy. I look forward to connecting with Jacquelyn and I wish her the very best in her new role,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, Assembly Majority Conference Leader.

“We want to commend Governor Murphy on the nomination of Jacquelyn Suarez as Commissioner of the DCA.  Jacquelyn is one of the best we have worked with and we are excited to continue our efforts working with her in her new role,” said Senator Vincent Polistina, Assemblywoman Claire Swift, and Assemblyman Donald Guardian, representatives of Atlantic City.

“Director Suarez is the consummate professional and an exemplary public servant. My administration is elated about her elevation to the position of Acting DCA Commissioner,” said Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh.

“I’m thrilled that Governor Murphy has appointed Jacqueline Suarez to lead DCA as Acting Commissioner.  I have enjoyed my relationship working closely with Director Suarez to strengthen the state’s ties to the Capitol City and improve the lives of Trentonians.  Jacqueline’s vast knowledge of government services and her hands on approach will be an asset for the State.  I look forward to working with her in her new role,” said Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora.

“Succeeding Sheila Oliver is no easy task, but Jacquelyn Suarez’s experience makes her the ideal choice. The League is pleased to learn of her appointment to be the Acting DCA Commissioner. We have worked with her both when she was with the Governor’s Office and as DLGS Director. We very much look forward to contuining our partnership in advancing the interests of local governments and our taxpayers,” said League of Municipalities Executive Director Michael Cerra.

Governor Phil Murphy today announced his intention to nominate Jacquelyn A. Suárez as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA). Suárez’s nomination follows the unexpected passing of Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver in August, who had served as DCA Commissioner since the start of the Murphy Administration.