Category: State of NJ

Rep. Smith’s Bill To Combat Anti-Semitism Becomes Law

January 14, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC — Building on an amendment he wrote in 2004 to create a Special Envoy to combat anti-Semitism, this week Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) successfully pushed enactment of his Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act that expands the authority of the office and elevates the Envoy to that of Ambassador-at-Large, granting the position added clout to fight the rise in worldwide anti-Semitism.

     “My new law will raise the Special Envoy to the rank of Ambassador-at-large, a high-level position that will allow the Special Envoy to report directly to the Secretary of State,” Rep. Smith said. “The official rank of Ambassador comes with greater seniority and diplomatic access not only here in Washington, but equally important, overseas in dealing with foreign governments. In short, it gives the Special Envoy the clout required do the job more effectively.

    “Anti-Semitism is on the rise in many countries around the globe over the past 10 years. We’ve seen members of the Jewish community harassed, intimidated, assaulted and even killed. We’ve seen sacred places like synagogues and graves desecrated. We’ve heard the use of anti-Semitic slurs and threats, and the open targeting of the State of Israel with what the great Soviet refusenik and former religious prisoner Natan Sharansky told me are the ‘three Ds’– demonization, double-standards and de-legitimization of Israel.

   “With the rise of on-line anti-Semitism, hate abroad knows no borders and poisons our communities here at home. We need to integrate our efforts both in the United States and abroad to stop the hate and keep our communities safe,” said Smith, a founding member of both the House Anti-Semitism Caucus and the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism, which is comprised of legislative-branch members from Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

   The Special Envoy ‘s mission is to combat discrimination and hatred toward Jews, and develop and implement foreign policy to fight anti-Semitism. Under Smith’s new law: the Special Envoy position would also:

  • be the primary advisor to the U.S. government in monitoring and combating anti-Semitism;
  • not be saddled with duties irrelevant to combating and anti-Semitism, nor “double-hatted” with other positions or responsibilities that distract from the central focus of anti-Semitism.

     Smith was especially grateful to one of his bill’s the 87 co-sponsors, Congressman Brad Schneider (D-IL), for working to pass the bipartisan bill, as well as Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jackie Rosen (D-NV) and Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), along with their staffs, for their hard work in securing passage on the Senate side, and numerous Jewish groups who fought hard for this legislation.

   Rabbi Aaron Kotler, President and CEO of Beth Medrash Govoha, said, “Congressman Smith has been a world leader in the effort to combat anti-Semitism, keeping the spotlight on the scourge of global hate. In our troubled times, we need his leadership more than ever. Smith led the 2004 Congressional effort to create a U.S. Special Envoy to Combat Anti-Semitism.  Now he has strengthened the position of Special Envoy by legislation that accords the Envoy ambassadorial rank. Good people of all faiths owe him a debt of thanks for helping keep racism at bay and for protecting civilized society.”

   Nathan Diament, Executive Director for the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center,said, “The Jewish community is very grateful for Rep. Chris Smith’s leadership in getting this legislation enacted. Sadly, we have seen a surge of anti-Semitic incidents around the world in recent years. With the passage of this legislation, Congress is providing powerful new tools to the State Department to lead impactful international efforts to combat what has been aptly called ‘the world’s oldest form of hatred’ and roll back the tide of anti-Jewish hate.”

   Chaplain Yaakov Wenger, of the National Chaplains Association, stated, “The National Chaplains Association applauds President Donald J. Trump for approving Congressman Chris Smith’s important bill which will help battle the scourge of anti-Semitism worldwide. Cong. Smith has been a staunch fighter of global hate and bigotry for decades, and true advocate for human rights. The president’s signing of the bill is a welcome step in battling divisiveness and hate.”

   Rabbi Avi Schnall, director of the New Jersey office of Agudath Israel, said, “We are very grateful for Congressman Smith’s persistence with seeing and ensuring this that bill became law,” At a time when anti-Semitism is on an alarming increase, now more than ever we need the Special Envoy to have the stature to be able to combat and do whatever we can to fight anti-Semitism.

   Lakewood community leaders Eli Tabak and Eli Liberman, who spearheaded Special Envoy Elan Carr’s historic visit to Lakewood in 2019, said, “Congressman Smith’s success in elevating the position of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism to that of Ambassador is but the latest in a long and distinguished history of his efforts to lead the global fight against hate. We greatly appreciate his focus on rooting out anti-Semitism, and the need to address it publicly and forcefully. Seeing Congressman Smith take this initiative, especially during such tumultuous times is so important to all people of good will. We are grateful for his leadership and proud that this champion of human rights represents Lakewood.”

  On two separate occasions, the House voted overwhelmingly to approve Smith’s new law to elevate the U.S. Envoy to Ambassador-at-Large, once in September 2018 and the second time in January 2019.  Each time, the Senate stalled the bill despite widespread support from numerous organizations, including the Agudath Israel, Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith International, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the American Jewish Committee, Hadassah, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and the Jewish Federations of North America the Orthodox Union.

  The Senate finally approved the bill on December 16, 2020 and it was signed by the President this week.

AG Grewal, DEP Announce Lawsuit Against U.S. Government over Drinking Water Contamination from Military Bases’ Use of Firefighting Foam

January 14, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe announced today that the State is suing the federal government over its contamination of groundwater and drinking water resources on and around U.S. military bases and other federal facilities in New Jersey through long-term use of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), a fire-suppressing substance that contains toxic chemicals proven harmful to human health.

The State’s two-count complaint centers on excessive levels of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) emanating from the federal facilities. PFAS substances – also called “forever chemicals”– are manmade substances desired for their ability to repel water, oil and fire, and were commonly used to make products like Teflon and Scotchgard. Highly resistant to environmental degradation and known to accumulate in the human body, PFAS are associated with serious adverse health effects such as cancer. The chemicals are also known to negatively impact the immune system and decrease vaccine response.

Specifically, today’s complaint alleges that the routine use of AFFF at U.S. military and other facilities throughout New Jersey over time caused the contamination of public and private drinking water sources that provide drinking water to those facilities, as well as to communities located near the military installations, where both military and civilians families live.

“During Commissioner McCabe’s tenure, New Jersey has become a national leader in responding to the scientific evidence of PFAS chemicals’ impacts on human health,” said Attorney General Grewal. “With today’s lawsuit, we are inviting the federal government to finally take the risks posed by PFAS chemicals as seriously as New Jersey does, and to take appropriate steps to protect the health of military and civilian families who live near our military bases.”

“Federally owned facilities in New Jersey that polluted the environment through the use of aqueous film-forming foams must do the right thing by properly investigating and remediating PFAS-contaminated water supplies,” said Commissioner McCabe. “Governor Murphy and I are proud of New Jersey’s accomplishments in leading the nation by taking strong health- and science-based actions to protect the health of our residents from PFAS chemicals. Through this legal action, we are demanding that the federal government follow New Jersey’s lead.”

Affected U.S. military facilities listed in the complaint include Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL), a tri-service, joint-installation military complex made up of McGuire Air Force Base, the Naval Air Engineering Station-Lakehurst, and Fort Dix Army Base. More than 45,000 active duty, guard, reserve, family members and civilian personnel live and work on and around JBMDL. The combined population of municipalities surrounding JBMDL is approximately 600,000 people. Also listed in the complaint are the Naval Weapons Station Earle in Monmouth County, and the former Naval Air Warfare Center in Trenton.

Among other demands made in today’s lawsuit, the State asserts that the United States should be required to address  contamination of drinking water supplies when present above New Jersey’s own safe drinking water standards for PFOS and PFOA – a maximum contaminant level of 13 parts-per-trillion for PFOS, and 14 parts-per-trillion (ppt) for PFOA – instead of using the significantly higher federal standard of 70 ppt. Limited sampling of drinking water supplies in the area around JBDML has identified, so far, three private drinking water wells with combined levels of PFOS and PFOA well in excess of even the federal limit – ranging from 152 ppt to 1,688 ppt.

The excessive PFAS levels can be traced to the use of AFFF products at federal facilities. AFFF products are mixed with water to form a foam solution, which is then used to extinguish fuel and other flammable liquid fires. Spraying a fire with AFFF creates a film that coats the fire, blocking its oxygen supply and preventing re-ignition. 

According to the State’s complaint, the U.S. government is one of the nation’s largest users of AFFF, with its usage dating back to the 1970s, when it was employed for firefighter training activities and to extinguish fuel-based fires at federal government facilities.

AFFF is discharged directly on the ground and/or tarmac during emergencies, as well as during training exercises, and ultimately reverts from foam to a liquid solution. In liquid form, AFFF travels to surrounding groundwater, causing contamination onsite and also migrating offsite to contaminate nearby wells.

Today’s complaint notes that, in addition to AFFF’s routine use in suppressing fires at U.S. military bases, additional, inadvertent discharges of AFFF have occurred – and additional releases of PFOS and PFOA have taken place – at U.S. military facilities through the testing of equipment, equipment malfunctions and “other incidental releases.”

Among other things, today’s lawsuit seeks to recover costs to the State associated with DEP’s investigation of the PFAS contamination caused by U.S. military installations, as well as expenditures made by the State or to be made by the State to remediate the contamination.

The complaint also seeks a court order requiring the federal government to remediate the affected areas to levels that comply with State safe drinking water and water quality standards for PFOS and PFOA, conduct medical monitoring of residents whose drinking water supplies have been contaminated in excess of those levels, and provide alternative water supplies to New Jersey residents whose drinking water has been contaminated. The complaint is being filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, which is handling litigation from around the country relating to AFFF, but the case may ultimately be decided in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Deputy Attorney General Gwen Farley, of the Environmental Enforcement and Environmental Justice Section in the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group, handled this matter on behalf of the State.


NJ Sharing Network Foundation Announces New Board Officers to Advance Life-Saving Mission

January 14, 2021

The NJ Sharing Network Foundation  Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the election of its 2021-2022 Board Officers to lead its strategic efforts to increase the number of lives saved through innovative research, family support, public awareness and education about the life-saving benefits of organ and tissue donation and transplantation. Effective January 1, 2021, the new officers include:


Chair – Christopher J. Bautista of Spring Lake Heights, NJ

Christopher J. Bautista first became involved with NJ Sharing Network in 2016, shortly after his son Luke passed away at age 15 and donated his heart, both kidneys, liver and pancreas to save the lives of five people. This past year, Bautista served as Chair of NJ Sharing Network’s 5K Celebration of Lifein Long Branch. He used his advanced web development and event management skills to spearhead an online program that inspired thousands of viewers from 18 different countries, 38 states, and all across New Jersey, making it one of our state’s largest online community events during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bautista and his family also created Team Luke, a 5K team that has raised nearly $300,000 since 2016 to support the NJ Sharing Network Foundation.

Bautista is the Director of Digital Services at altered image in Matawan, NJ. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY, where he was the first basketball manager/player in NCAA Division 1 history.


Vice Chair – Jane A. Buckiewicz of Point Pleasant, NJ

Jane A. Buckiewicz has served as a member of the NJ Sharing Network Foundation Board since 2018 and currently serves as Chair of the Annual Golf Classic & Tennis Tournament to honor the memory of her son Dan, who passed away in 2009 and saved the lives of three people through organ donation and enhanced the lives of 70 more through tissue donation. Thanks to Buckiewicz’s leadership, this year’s event raised more than $150,000. Buckiewicz and her family also honor Dan with a team at the 5K Celebration of Life. Team Buck has participated every year since the inception of the event in 2011, raising more than $115,000.

Buckiewicz is retired after serving as Vice President of Finance and Human Resources at Blue Buffalo Co., Ltd. in Wilton, CT. She earned an MBA from Pace University and a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University.


Vice Chair – Ron Oswick of Freehold

Ron Oswick recently commemorated the 25th anniversary of his wife Tanya’s life-saving heart transplant by speaking at the 22nd Annual Golf Classic & Tennis Tournament. Oswick has been a member of the NJ Sharing Network Foundation Board since 2018. The Oswick’s also celebrate Tanya’s gift of life with a team at the 5K Celebration of Life. Their team, Second Chance, has participated since the inception of the event in 2011, and they have raised more than $65,000.

Oswick is a Senior Operations Analyst at Seix Investment Advisors in Park Ridge, NJ. He earned his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration and Management at Loyola College in Maryland.


Treasurer – Bhavna Tailor of Clifton, NJ,

Bhavna Tailor has served on the NJ Sharing Network Foundation Board since 2015 and is a tireless advocate for organ and tissue donation. With 25 years of experience in education, Tailor is Vice President of Operations at Eastwick College & HoHoKus Schools directly assisting the president, overseeing marketing and technology, and managing the day-to-day operations to ensure the campus runs smoothly. Tailor plays a key role in leading Eastwick College’s student and community education programs that work throughout the year to raise awareness about organ and tissue donation.

Tailor serves on the Board of Trustees for Eastwick College and the Essex and Newark Workforce Investment Board. She is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Career Education Colleges and Universities (CECU). She began her career in Nutley at the HoHoKus School of Rets Institute as a Financial Aid Officer, serving as Career Services Advisor, Corporate Director of IT and School Director.


Secretary – Elizabeth Stamler of Scotch Plains, NJ

Elizabeth Stamler is a lifelong resident of Scotch Plains, NJ, where she serves as an elected member of the Township Council and as Deputy Mayor for 2021. Stamler has been touched by organ and tissue donation in more ways than one. Her brother, aunt and father, the late Union County Prosecutor John H. Stamler, each received a life-saving heart transplant. Her other brother later passed away and gave the gift of life as a tissue donor, enhancing the lives of over 30 people. Stamler is a longtime volunteer at NJ Sharing Network and has served on the NJ Sharing Network Foundation Board of Trustees for four years.

Stamler is employed as a Procurement Specialist with Union County Emergency Services. She holds a master’s degree in Accounting from New Jersey City University and a certificate in Public Administration from Kean University. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminology from The College of New Jersey.

The NJ Sharing Network Foundation Board of Trustees is comprised of a diverse group of individuals from both public and private sectors, many of whom have been touched by donation, including donor families and transplant recipients.

“Chris, Jane, Ron, Bhavna and Elizabeth are all dedicated volunteers and advocates who hold a true passion for organ and tissue donation,” said Elisse E. Glennon, Executive Director, NJ Sharing Network Foundation. “They are respected leaders who bring a wealth of diverse experience, talent and expertise in their fields to further our mission to save and enhance lives.”

About the NJ Sharing Network Foundation

The NJ Sharing Network Foundation is committed to help increase the number of lives saved through innovative research, family support, public awareness and education about the life-saving benefits of organ and tissue donation and transplantation.

About NJ Sharing Network

NJ Sharing Network is the federally designated non-profit organization responsible for recovering organs and tissue for the nearly 4,000 New Jersey residents currently waiting for a life-saving transplant. With headquarters in New Providence, NJ, the organization is part of the national recovery system, serving the 110,000 people on the national waiting list. NJ Sharing Network was selected by NJBiz as one of the state’s “Best Places to Work” for the third consecutive year. To learn more, get involved and register as an organ and tissue donor, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org


Governor Murphy Announces All New Jersey Residents Ages 65 and Older Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine Beginning on January 14

Individuals Ages 16-64 with Certain Medical Conditions Also Eligible Beginning January 14

January 13, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today announced two additional categories of New Jersey residents eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Beginning Thursday, January 14, all New Jersey residents ages 65 and older, and individuals ages 16-64 with certain medical conditions, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that increase the risk of severe illness from the virus, are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination. Those conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, Down Syndrome, heart conditions, obesity and severe obesity, sickle cell disease, smoking, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Individuals who are pregnant and those in an immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant are also eligible but should follow CDC guidance and first discuss vaccination with their medical provider before receiving the vaccine. In addition to paid and unpaid healthcare workers in Phase 1A, these two groups mark the expansion of eligible residents in Phase 1B, which recently opened to include sworn law enforcement and fire professionals. 

“Over the last several months, our Administration has built the infrastructure and laid the groundwork to support New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccination demand,” said Governor Murphy. “Based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we are ready to begin ramping up our vaccination efforts exponentially and are confident in our ability to provide every willing New Jersey resident with a vaccine when it is available and they are eligible.”

“Expanding access to vaccine to individuals in these categories is critical as we know they are at greater risk for severe COVID-19 illness and death,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “Eighty percent of COVID-19 deaths in New Jersey have been among those 65 and older and overall 67 percent of deaths had one or more underlying conditions reported.”

For more information about statewide vaccination site locations and to preregister for a vaccination visit https://covid19.nj.gov/vaccine

For more information on CDC criteria for eligibility, please click here.



Garden State Equality Proudly Supports Governor Murphy’s Historic Appointment of Nation’s First Openly Gay Commissioner of Department of Environmental Protection

Appointment of Shawn LaTourette to Acting Commissioner of the NJDEP in Governor Murphy’s Cabinet is welcomed at a time when New Jersey has no LGBTQ legislators

January 13, 2021

ASBURY PARK, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Today Governor Phil Murphy made a historic announcement with the selection of Shawn LaTourette to serve as the Acting Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. LaTourette, who presently holds the number two position in the NJDEP, is believed to be the only openly LGBTQ person to lead a state or federal environmental protection agency in the nation.

“At a time when the New Jersey legislature is empty from any representation for the LGBTQ community, this appointment is welcomed and appreciated.  It speaks to Governor Murphy’s commitment to diverse inclusion in our government,” said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality. “Highly qualified LGBTQ people like Shawn are ready to step up and serve in leadership positions in the Garden State. With LaTourette positioned to now become Commissioner, he would become the second openly LGBTQ person included in Murphy’s cabinet.”

“Shawn LaTourette’s years of work at the NJDEP spearheading clean air and water initiatives as well as environmental justice and clean energy have established his as a ‘perfect fit’ in this position,” said long-time Garden State Equality executive board member Thomas Prol, an environmental attorney at Sills Cummis & Gross law firm and former state bar president.  Prol continued, “He is highly respected in the legal community, and his dedication to visionary environmental stewardship is impressive and why NJDEP is again viewed as one of the vibrant and impactful environmental agencies in the nation.”

About Garden State Equality
Established in 2004, Garden State Equality (GSE) is the largest LGBTQ advocacy organization in New Jersey and one of the most successful statewide civil rights organizations for the LGBTQ community in the nation. Our services include education, advocacy, policy work, and training informed by racial, economic, and disability justice advancement.


Governor Murphy Announces Shawn LaTourette as Acting Commissioner of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Governor Phil Murphy today announced that Shawn LaTourette will serve as Acting Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) beginning on January 16. LaTourette, currently the Department’s Deputy Commissioner, takes the helm from Catherine R. McCabe, who will retire from public service on January 15 having spent more than 40 years protecting the environment, including three years as DEP Commissioner. LaTourette will serve as Acting Commissioner until a permanent replacement for McCabe is identified.

With twenty years of environmental experience, LaTourette began his career partnering with the Erin Brockovich law firm to organize and defend New Jersey communities whose drinking water was contaminated by petrochemicals. Born and raised in New Jersey, LaTourette graduated magna cum laude from Rutgers University and earned his law degree summa cum laude from Rutgers Law School, where he was the class salutatorian and the recipient of multiple environmental and governance awards, and published scholarship on environmental law, natural resource damage, and climate issues. Before entering public service, LaTourette specialized in protecting the rights of victims of toxic injuries while also advising infrastructure, transportation, energy, and other industries on compliance with state and federal environmental laws and policies. Prior to joining the Murphy Administration, he was most recently a Director of the Environmental Law Department at Gibbons PC, where he focused on brownfields redevelopment projects and litigated environmental cases in state and federal court. 

LaTourette first joined DEP as chief legal and regulatory policy advisor to Commissioner McCabe in 2018, becoming DEP’s Chief of Staff in 2019 and, in 2020, the Deputy Commissioner responsible for running the operations of DEP while notably leading efforts to craft the reforms necessary to advance the Administration’s climate change and environmental justice priorities. 

A devoted advocate for equality of all people, LaTourette was elected to serve as Chair of the LGBTQ Rights Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association, completing his term in 2020, and will be the first openly gay Commissioner of Environmental Protection in the nation. A Middlesex County native, he resides in Highland Park with his partner and twin daughters.


Governor Murphy Delivers State of the State Address Via Social Media

January 12, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today aired his third State of the State Address from Trenton. Governor Murphy highlighted accomplishments from his first three years in office and reaffirmed his commitment to leading New Jersey through the COVID-19 public health crisis and improving the lives of New Jersey’s families. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the address was pre-recorded without an audience at the Patriots Theater at the Trenton War Memorial and streamed on the Governor’s official social media channels.

“Although wounded deeply, we enter 2021 tougher than ever, wiser than before, and ready to move forward together,” said Governor Murphy. “Despite the ongoing pandemic, our mission of making New Jersey a stronger and fairer state for every family has not changed. We’re proving that the best way to beat COVID-19 is by leaning in to smart investments with a forward-looking, principled vision for the future. Our priorities for the year ahead focus on the public health challenges at hand, while charting a path forward to build a stronger, fairer, and more resilient economy that works for every New Jersey family.”

In his address, the Governor highlighted some of the accomplishments from his first three years in office, including:

  • Establishing an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour, giving more than one million families a stronger foothold in the middle class, and allowing those who aspire to enter the middle class the means to do so;
  • Ensuring tax fairness through a millionaire’s tax, easing the property tax burden on middle-class families and seniors, and doing more to help fund our public schools;
  • Passing earned sick leave and expanding paid family and medical leave;
  • Making high quality education more available and affordable to all with continued investments in pre-K and tuition-free community college;
  • Moving toward full funding of our schools by restoring more than $750 million in direct classroom funding since 2018;
  • Enacting sweeping and fundamental reforms to New Jersey’s incentives program that will fuel job-creating small businesses and innovative startups;
  • Restoring safety, service, and reliability to NJ TRANSIT by completing the federally mandated Positive Train Control technology and the hiring of engineers, conductors, and bus operators;
  • Cementing New Jersey as the nation’s offshore wind-energy leader with the creation of the New Jersey Wind Port and new manufacturing facility at the Paulsboro Marine Terminal, both of which will bring thousands of good-paying union jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in new investments; and,
  • Reducing health care costs and eliminating surprise medical bills through our state-run health care exchange and the creation of the Office of Health Care Affordability and Transparency.

Governor Murphy also emphasized the following priorities for the coming year as part of his State of the State address:

  • Continuing our statewide COVID-19 vaccination program and vaccinating every willing New Jersey adult resident;
  • Supporting small businesses and innovative startups to promote good-paying, future focused jobs to build New Jersey’s economy;
  • Solidifying New Jersey’s bridge and tunnel infrastructure along the Northeast Corridor through improvement projects at the Portal North Bridge and working with President-elect Biden to fund the Gateway Program and build new tunnels under the Hudson River;
  • Building our clean energy economy by bringing together stakeholders to assess New Jersey’s needs and develop a robust and equitable green jobs workforce development strategy;
  • Codifying a woman’s full reproductive rights into state law;
  • Transforming our justice system to eliminate the root causes of systemic racism and make New Jersey’s criminal justice system more transparent and fair;
  • Expanding access to democracy by enacting early, in-person voting;
  • Ensuring our students have the academic, digital, and social-emotional support needed as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Easing the burden of working parents by building out a robust and affordable child care support system;
  • Improving our overall healthcare system to make it more transparent, more accessible, and more affordable;
  • Instituting comprehensive ethics reforms to ensure transparency and accountability across government; and,
  • Expanding opportunities for safe and affordable housing by providing assistance to New Jersey’s renters and homebuyers, and giving renters impacted by the pandemic up to 30 months to make up for back rent.


NJ Parole Board Appoints Hamilton Resident David Wolfsgruber To Executive Director

David Wolfsgruber of Hamilton to lead agency that serves important reentry mission throughout the State of NJ

January 11, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The New Jersey State Parole Board announced today the promotion of David Wolfsgruber, who will lead the agency’s day-to-day operations as Executive Director. In this role, Mr. Wolfsgruber will oversee and manage a critical state agency with a total of just over 600 sworn law enforcement and civilian staff who are charged with processing and supervising more than 16,000 offenders currently under state parole supervision.

New Jersey State Parole Board Chairman Samuel J. Plumeri, Jr. said, “David is a true leader in every sense of the word and his strong knowledge of criminal justice will undoubtedly be an asset to the State Parole Board. As a dedicated public servant, David has seen many changes within the complex world of parole which makes him the obvious choice to lead this agency as we continue to meet our two-fold mission of ensuring public safety while reducing the state’s overall recidivism rate through our supervision efforts.”

“I am very fortunate to have spent my entire professional career at the State Parole Board and am eager to help lead this agency during a time where New Jersey’s criminal justice system is undergoing transformative changes,” said Mr. Wolfsgruber. “The determined commitment of dedicated agency employees who consistently work to advance public safety measures and successful community reintegration is both inspiring and impressive.”

Prior to his new position, Mr. Wolfsgruber held the position of Assistant Director of the Community Programs Division. In that role he oversaw the development and administration of statewide community programming for parolees at 18 individual contracted residential and community resource center program locations.

Mr. Wolfsgruber oversaw the significant expansion of licensed substance abuse and co-occurring mental health outpatient and residential substance abuse treatment services for parolees within the Mutual Agreement Program, in partnership with the Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Community programming, which plays a significant role in the reentry process, assists individuals in their community reintegration process.

Mr. Wolfsgruber also held several diverse positions within the State Parole Board including coordinator of specialized programs and chief of the Parole Revocation Hearing Unit. Additionally, he is a certified public manager, a title that he received following the successful completion of the comprehensive State Certified Public Manager Program. A graduate of Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey), Mr. Wolfsgruber is a lifelong New Jersey resident. He resides in Hamilton Square with his wife and two children.

The New Jersey State Parole Board is committed to promoting public safety, utilizing effective methods to aid supervised offenders in reentering society, and in reducing the state’s recidivism of offenders while addressing the needs of crime victims. As required by law, appointed parole board members and staff conduct approximately 13,500 hearings per year, solicit input from victims, and decide upon parole matters. Approximately 400 sworn parole officers supervise more than 16,000 offenders and act as New Jersey’s primary law enforcement agency responsible for sex offender supervision. Additionally, state parole officers are also active partners with a variety of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and task forces. The agency’s Community Programs Division partners with government, non-profit, and private agencies to connect former inmates with vocational, mental health, addiction services, and related services.


Governor Murphy Directs U.S. and New Jersey Flags to Fly at Half-Staff in Honor of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick

January 9, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today ordered that the U.S. and New Jersey flags be flown at half-staff at all state buildings and facilities on Monday, January 11, 2021, in honor of United States Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, a former resident of South River, who died following injuries sustained while defending the Capitol during the violent insurrection on January 6th. 

In a statement, Governor Murphy said: 

“United States Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick embodied the selfless spirit of his native state. Officer Sicknick was a product of South River and a graduate of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools. 

“Before joining the Capitol Police, he was Staff Sergeant Sicknick with the New Jersey Air National Guard. He was a Fire Team Member and Leader with the 108th Security Force Squadron, 108th Wing, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, and his six years of service included overseas deployments in support of Operation Southern Watch and Operation Enduring Freedom. 

“Tammy and I send our deepest condolences to Officer Sicknick’s family and friends, as well as to his United States Capitol Police colleagues and the Guardsmen and Guardswomen he served alongside. We thank him for his service to our nation. 

“Officer Sicknick gave his life protecting the United States Capitol, and by extension, our very democracy, from violent insurrection. His needless murder at the hands of a mob bent on overthrowing the Constitution he had dedicated his life to upholding is shocking. It is my fervent hope that the rioters whose actions directly contributed to his death are quickly identified and brought to justice.” 

Copy of Executive Order #212

Statement by US Rep Chris Smith on death of USCP Officer Brian Sicknick

January 8, 2020

On the murder of Officer Brian D. Sicknick by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ)

“Words are inadequate to convey my sadness, shock and anger over the murder of Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick who courageously fought the violent mob that stormed the Capitol building on Wednesday.

As a member of the New Jersey National Guard, Mr. Sicknick safely deployed during Operation Southern Watch in 1999 and Enduring Freedom in 2003 only to be killed in the line of duty defending Members of Congress and staff and the Capitol building during a joint session of Congress. 

He died a hero and deserves our eternal gratitude for his sacrifice.

My wife Marie and I—and my family and staff—offer our deepest condolences to and prayers for his family, friends and colleagues.

Like others bravely serving in law enforcement, the Capitol Police face significant risks and hardship, including death, every day and absolutely deserve our unwavering support. The perpetrator(s) of this heinous crime must be swiftly brought to justice.”

Governor Murphy Marks Start of COVID-19 Vaccination Effort for Sworn Law Enforcement and Fire Professionals

Morris County Regional Vaccination Center Now Open to Frontline Health Care Workers, Police and Fire First Responders

January 8, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)/ROCKAWAY, NJ (MORRIS)–Ernest Doggett, III., Trenton Firefighter, who also is also an EMT, and rides Engine 6 as the Interim Captain, received his COVID-19 vaccine today in Morris County. Governor Phil Murphy was in attendance to observe police and firefighters receiving their vaccinations.

Governor Phil Murphy, joined by New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, Superintendent of the State Police Colonel Patrick Callahan, Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill, Morris County Commissioner Director Stephen Shaw, and labor officials, visited the Morris County Regional Vaccination Center today to highlight the beginning of New Jersey’s vaccination effort for sworn law enforcement and fire professionals.

All sworn law enforcement and fire professionals in New Jersey are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, which is estimated to include about 55,000 individuals. These first responders are the first individuals in Phase 1B to become eligible for vaccination. EMS professionals, also considered first responders, are already eligible for the vaccine under Phase 1A as health care workers.

“Throughout this pandemic, our first responders have continued to save lives and protect our communities, and I am proud today that we are able to provide them with this added level of protection as they continue to do their jobs,” Governor Murphy said. “When we’re ready to move forward, this site will serve as one of six megasites for the general public to receive their vaccinations. With hundreds of thousands of preregistrations already received, we know there will be a strong demand when that day arrives.”

“We’re all used to charging head-on into potentially dangerous situations, but COVID-19 has added a whole new layer of uncertainty and change for all of us,” said John Alderton, a career firefighter and EMT with the Morris Township Fire Department. “This vaccine is the first step of us moving in the right direction.  Thank you Governor Murphy for bringing this vaccine to not only first responders, but hopefully in the near future, to every New Jersey resident.”

“These megasites will be able to handle a large volume of individuals as we continue to move through eligible phases of vaccination toward the general public,” Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said. “The sites are part of a growing network of community-based sites that will help ensure fair and equitable access and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines.”

“I’m grateful that Governor Murphy, Commissioner Persichilli, and the Department of Health have opened these mega-sites, and have made vaccinations for COVID-19 available for police and fire professionals across the state,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “Our first responders have demonstrated extraordinary heroism, dedication, and resilience in answering the call to serve during this pandemic, and routinely put themselves in harm’s way. I strongly encourage all law enforcement who live or work in the state to get vaccinated and help stop the spread of this virus.”

“We memorialized a lot of New Jerseyans over the past several months,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Superintendent of the State Police. “This vaccine will save lives. The fact that this megasite and sites like it around New Jersey are up and running is a testament to this collective team effort.”

“This vaccine megasite in Morris County marks a monumental step for New Jersey residents, particularly our healthcare providers and first responders who have gone above and beyond during the pandemic,” said Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill. “The collaboration across state, county, local levels alongside the incredible team at Atlantic Health puts all of us on the path to greater safety and well-being. I fought for vaccine distribution funding in the latest coronavirus package and I’ll continue to fight to get the resources necessary from the federal government.”

“This is a tremendous logistical undertaking by Morris County in partnership with Atlantic Health System and the State of New Jersey,” Stephen H. Shaw, Director of the Morris County Board of Commissioners said. “Our Offices of Public Health and Emergency Management worked tirelessly through the holiday season with Atlantic Health to identify and transform an empty retail space into a large scale, safe, secure regional vaccination facility. Morris County remains steadfast in its commitment to allocate the resources necessary to protect the public health. We anticipate being able to inoculate as many as 2,400 individuals daily at this facility. Our thanks go out to Atlantic Health for its contributions of staff and assets, Governor Murphy for his support, everyone in our Offices of Public Health and Emergency Management, the National Guard, our Sheriff and all the healthcare workers who have made this possible.”

“The arrival of safe and effective vaccines represents a landmark moment in our fight against COVID-19, making this center a place of hope and healing for our entire region,” said Brian Gragnolati, President and CEO, Atlantic Health System. “On behalf of patients and caregivers across New Jersey, I want to thank Governor Murphy and Morris County leaders for their tremendous support and partnership.  Together, we are taking the next big step forward in protecting our friends, neighbors and communities.  I encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunity to receive their vaccinations as soon as they are eligible.”

“We are happy to see that Governor Murphy is moving forward quickly to make Covid-19 vaccines available to law enforcement and firefighters,” said Bob Fox, President of the New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police. “His immediate response is greatly appreciated by law enforcement.”

“PFANJ fire fighters & EMT’s serve as the first link in the COVID-19 response,” said Steve McConlogue, President, Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey. “These environments are unstructured, unprotected and place our members near COVID-19 patients, causing increased exposure for the responder. Many COVID- 19 patients are treated by a fire fighter or EMT before they are transported to a hospital for further care. Additionally, fire fighters and EMTs often respond to emergencies unrelated to whether a caller has COVID-19 only to later learn that they were exposed to the virus. We are encouraged to see the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine made available to all firefighters in New Jersey, we have been on the frontlines battling this virus since March.  A COVID-19 vaccine is one of the best ways to protect fire and EMS personnel from this pandemic. Along with ensuring that the proper PPE is available, priority access to a vaccine allows emergency responders to have another tool to protect themselves and the community as a whole. Scientific reports have indicated that fire fighters, paramedics and EMTs are proportionately far more likely to contract COVID-19 than the general public due to their on-the-job exposures. We thank Governor Murphy and his team for answering the call on behalf of firefighters.  The International Association of Fire Fighters have worked tirelessly with federal, state and local officials to protect their members, and make fire fighters, paramedics & EMTs a top priority level for COVID-19 vaccines.”

“Our members battled through this pandemic since last March and we have shared in the struggle and pain with the residents we protect,” said Wayne Wolk, Executive Vice President, New Jersey Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association. “We are grateful to have worked with Governor Murphy and his administration to be sure NJ first responders had the tools to safely provide the front line protection day in and day out.  Being moved up in the queue to receive the COVID-19 vaccination is another testament to that support.”

“I would like to thank the Governor and the Health Departments decision to listen to our pleas and move our states brave law enforcement and firefighters up on the vaccine list,” said Pat Colligan, President of the New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association. “Our law enforcement officers, whether they were working on a cell block or responding to calls for service were truly “first responders” from the very beginning of this pandemic and continue to be the first on the scene on virtually every call for service. We are looking forward to putting this pandemic in the rear view mirror and we are sure this will help expedite that.” 

“We are very proud to announce that due to the support of Governor Murphy, along with the clinical guidance of New Jersey’s top medical professionals, we have completed one of our first mega sites located in Morris County for administering vaccines to New Jersey’s citizens,” said Pete J. Stilianessis, President, State Troopers NCO Association. “We’re very proud to have played our part in this very important milestone to recovery for New Jersey and the citizens that we have served throughout this pandemic. We are appreciative to have one of our NCO’s take the lead on being the first Trooper to receive this life changing breakthrough vaccine. We look forward to working with our Governor and other branches in government for further successes until we can finally return to normalcy.”

“The State Troopers Fraternal Association applauds Governor Murphy and his entire team for their aggressive, swift, and committed response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Wayne Blanchard, President, State Troopers Fraternal Association. “Since March, Governor Murphy has had to make many difficult decisions in order to keep the best possible containment of the COVID-19 virus. The arrival of the vaccines has given us new hope in curbing the COVID-19 pandemic and the Governor and his administration have been on the front lines and have been efficiently distributing the vaccines since their arrival. Today marks a special place in the history in the fight against COVID-19 as Governor Murphy has recognized the significant challenges and risks the STFA members face daily in the performance of their duties during the pandemic. To date, over 150 STFA members have contracted the COVID-19 virus and the safety of the citizens of the State of New Jersey depends on their health. We are truly grateful to Governor Murphy for streamlining the vaccination process for our men and women who must respond when called upon even during the perils of the pandemic. In addition, we laud the Governor and his team for the coordination of many vaccination sites but in particular sites such as the Morris County Mega Vaccination site, which has tremendous capabilities for safe, orderly, and large-scale vaccinations.”




Loss of United States Capital Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick, NJ Native

January 8, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy released a statement this morning about the death of the United States Capital Police Officer who is a NJ native from South River. Officer Brian D. Sicknick was responding to the riots on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol and was injured while physically engaging with protesters. He returned to his division office and collapsed. He was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

Sicknick was a graduate from Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools. He was also a Staff Sergeant with the NJ Air National Guard where he was a fire team member at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, and served in Operation Southern Watch and Operation Enduring Freedom.



Statement from Governor Phil Murphy:

“United States Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick embodied the selfless spirit of his native state. 

Officer Sicknick was a product of South River and a graduate of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools. Before joining the Capitol Police, he was Staff Sergeant Sicknick with the New Jersey Air National Guard. He was a Fire Team Member and Leader with the 108th Security Force Squadron, 108th Wing, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, and his six years of service included overseas deployments in support of Operation Southern Watch and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Tammy and I send our deepest condolences to Officer Sicknick’s family and friends, as well as to his United States Capitol Police colleagues and the Guardsmen and Guardswomen he served alongside. We thank him for his service to our nation.

Officer Sicknick gave his life protecting the United States Capitol, and by extension, our very democracy, from violent insurrection. His needless murder at the hands of a mob bent on overthrowing the Constitution he had dedicated his life to upholding is shocking. It is my fervent hope that the rioters whose actions directly contributed to his death are quickly identified and brought to justice.”


Loss of USCP Officer Brian D. Sicknick

January 7, 2021 Official United States Capital Police Press Release:

At approximately 9:30 p.m. this evening (January 7, 2021), United States Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick passed away due to injuries sustained while on-duty. 

Officer Sicknick was responding to the riots on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol and was injured while physically engaging with protesters.  He returned to his division office and collapsed.  He was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.  The death of Officer Sicknick will be investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department’s Homicide Branch, the USCP, and our federal partners. 

Officer Sicknick joined the USCP in July 2008, and most recently served in the Department’s First Responder’s Unit. 

The entire USCP Department expresses its deepest sympathies to Officer Sicknick’s family and friends on their loss, and mourns the loss of a friend and colleague. 

We ask that Officer Sicknick’s family, and other USCP officers’ and their families’ privacy be respected during this time.

Governor Signs Dancer Legislation Allowing Employees To Live On Horse Farms

January 7, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Home is where the horse is— at least that’s the case in New Jersey after Gov. Phil Murphy signed Assemblyman Ron Dancer’s bill permitting full-time, year-round farm employees to reside on premises where horses are boarded. 

“Groomers, trainers and other full-time farm employees often need extended access to the horses they care for,” said Dancer (R-Ocean). “Permitting them to live on the premises will allow them to fully perform their duties and take better care of these animals.”

The legislation (A2768/S1245) amends the Right to Farm Act to allow housing for equine-related farm employees as long as it is in a separate area or level from the horses, has its own ventilation system and meets all uniform construction code standards, including fire ratings. The Right to Farm Act protects responsible commercial farms from public and private nuisance actions and unduly restrictive municipal regulations.  

“Taking care of a horse is one of the most demanding and worthwhile jobs one could do,” said Dancer. “The horse industry is important to New Jersey’s economy, providing over 13,000 jobs, as well as to our environment with more than 7,200 horse farms providing 176,000 acres of green pasture land and open space.” 

New Jersey has more horses per capita than any other state in the nation. Horses are so important to the state’s economy, history and culture that they are designated the state animal. 


Murphy Administration Reminds New Jerseyans of Coverage Benefits for COVID-19 Vaccine

January 7, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–As New Jersey continues to scale up its statewide vaccination program, the Murphy Administration today reminded New Jerseyans that the COVID-19 vaccine will be available without cost sharing barriers. Pursuant to the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider Agreement, all providers must vaccinate individuals regardless of whether they have health insurance coverage or what type of coverage they have, and are prohibited from balance billing or otherwise charging vaccine recipients.

“As we continue to roll out our robust statewide vaccination program, we want to make it clear to New Jerseyans that no one will have to pay for the vaccine itself, regardless of whether or not they have health insurance coverage,” said Governor Murphy. “We strongly encourage everyone to join hundreds of thousands of their fellow New Jerseyans in preregistering to receive the vaccine and taking another step toward ending this pandemic.”

“As residents begin to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, they should know that the vaccination will be provided with no out-of-pocket costs,” said Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride. “We issued guidance reminding insurance companies of this requirement as the state works to protect the health and safety of our residents in response to the global pandemic.”

“The Department of Health is thankful to the many providers who have signed agreements with the State to administer vaccines in communities throughout New Jersey,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “This has been a complex process of linking all types of providers to deliver vaccines to New Jersey residents without cost to those residents. The goal of vaccinating 70% of the adult population in New Jersey is going to be met through these partnerships and through the thousands of New Jersey residents who recognize that vaccines matter.”

“NJ FamilyCare recipients can get the COVID vaccine at no cost and at any vaccination site,” said Human Services Deputy Commissioner Sarah Adelman. “That means zero co-pays for the vaccine and its administration, no matter the provider, so we urge everyone to sign up and get the vaccine when they are eligible.  We are all eager to end this pandemic and save lives. For NJ FamilyCare recipients, you can protect yourself at no cost.”

“As vaccines become available to more residents, all New Jerseyans should know that they will be able to access the COVID-19 vaccine from participating providers and that insurance coverage or cost sharing should not be barriers,” said Shabnam Salih, Director of the Office of Health Care Affordability and Transparency. “I encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity for the well-being of themselves, their families and their communities and to help prevent the further loss of human life.” 

Coverage Information

  • If you are covered by a private health plan (whether obtained directly through the individual market or through your employer): All group and individual comprehensive health insurance plans must provide coverage for COVID-19 immunization and its administration. During the federal public health emergency, these plans must provide this coverage without cost sharing, regardless of whether the provider is in or out of network. For more information, please contact your insurance provider or visit  https://www.nj.gov/dobi/bulletins/blt21_01.pdf.
  • If you are covered by Medicare Part B: The vaccine and the administration of that vaccine will be covered without coinsurance or deductible.
  • If you are covered by a Medicare Advantage Plan: Beneficiary copayment, coinsurance and deductible are waived for COVID-19 vaccine and its administration for calendar years 2020 and 2021.
  • If you are covered by SHBP or SEHBP: The vaccine and the administration of that vaccine will be covered without coinsurance or deductible for in or out of network providers.
  • If you are covered by NJ FamilyCare (Medicaid or CHIP): The vaccine and the administration of that vaccine will be covered without copays for in or out of network providers.
  • If you are uninsured: health care providers that participate in the Center for Disease Control (CDC) COVID-19 Vaccination Program must agree to administer a COVID-19 immunization regardless of an individual’s ability to pay or health insurance coverage status, and may not seek reimbursement from the immunization recipientFor information on sites that are providing the vaccine, please visit: https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/healthcare-worker-covid-19-vaccine-locations. This site will be updated as more locations are added.

For more information, please visit: https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/vaccine

Governor Murphy Signs Historic Economic Recovery Legislation

Bill Will Provide Aid to Small Businesses and Usher in New Era of Economic Development

January 7, 2021

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today signed into law the landmark New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020, which will provide economic support for small businesses, while propelling New Jersey’s economic recovery and growth for much of the next decade.


“These programs are the product of nearly three years of hard work, during which we received input from hundreds of voices on how best to structure our state’s recovery and growth,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “I am immensely proud of the result, which will not only provide much needed relief for our small businesses, but will also fundamentally change economic development in our state while creating thousands of high-paying job for our residents.”

The legislation includes a host of new initiatives including the Main Street Recovery Finance Program, which will provide a direct $50 million appropriation for grants, loans, loan guarantees, and technical assistance to small and micro businesses. 



This bill will also bolster the state’s startup and entrepreneur economy through implementation of the Innovation Evergreen Fund, a first-of-its-kind program that will combine state funds with private capital to support innovative new businesses.

The new legislation also includes several cutting-edge programs designed to promote growth in New Jersey’s urban centers, including the Brownfields Redevelopment Incentive designed to facilitate the redevelopment of environmentally contaminated properties; the Historic Property Tax Credit, which will incentivize the restoration of historic buildings, many of which are located in New Jersey’s oldest and most distressed neighborhoods; and the Community-Anchored Development Program, which will incentivize the construction of innovative new developments by partnering with universities, hospitals, arts, and cultural organizations and give the state an equity stake in the development. 



“This incentives package will not only help strengthen our economy, but it will help address some of the longstanding inequities faced by the most distressed communities in our state,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. “These renewed incentives are specifically directed toward reviving our local economies and helping main streets thrive throughout this crisis and beyond. I want to commend Governor Murphy and the legislature for their leadership in passing this bill which will put our state on a renewed path to prosperity.” 


“The New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020 presents a strong recovery and reform package that will position New Jersey to build a stronger and fairer economy that invests in innovation, in our communities, and in our small businesses the right way, with the protections and oversight taxpayers deserve,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Tax incentives and other investment tools are critical to economic development, and when used correctly they can drive transformative change that uplifts communities and creates new opportunities for everyone.”



“Renewal of New Jersey’s tax incentive program was essential to ensuring our state’s competitiveness in attracting and retaining jobs and businesses in our global economy,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “I am pleased that the compromise we reached includes a sufficiently high cap on total incentives to enable New Jersey to compete for mega-projects, and that it ensures that all regions and sectors of our state will benefit from the various programs. I would like to thank Senators M. Teresa Ruiz and Paul Sarlo, former Senator Ray Lesniak, who served as our special counsel, and of course, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Governor Phil Murphy for working together to bring this legislation to fruition.” 



“This is comprehensive legislation which will grow new industries and foster innovation around the state. It will create greater investment in our communities by providing further incentives to locate in distressed municipalities, build affordable housing and redevelop brownfields,” said Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, the prime sponsor. “This law will help increase access to employment in high-growth industries, drive sustainable economic development and most importantly help our state to recover from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This effort is balanced in its approach, it will ensure responsible investment, greater oversight and tangible community benefits.”

“This legislation provides the tax incentives we will need to spur business and job growth as we come out of a pandemic crisis that has devastated broad sectors of our economy,” said Senator Paul Sarlo. “Most importantly, it will provide tax incentives to attract the jobs we want – jobs that pay high salaries in cutting edge industries that will transform communities, partner with our higher education sector on R&D, provide valuable job training and be good corporate citizens.”



“This new law builds a new economic recovery and incentive program that will bolster businesses from Main Street small business to attracting new and larger job-creating corporations to make New Jersey home,” said Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. “This legislation also creates programs that address the problem of food deserts giving families fighting hunger greater access to healthy food options in the future as well as others similarly aimed toward historically underserved communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Reauthorization of a large scale job incentive package has been a long time coming in this state. This is a plan that will lead New Jersey to a stronger economic future.”

“We worked to develop a comprehensive piece of legislation that will put New Jersey on a path to economic recovery post-COVID-19 and beyond,” said Assembly Budget Chair Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin. “It includes a wide range of critical business and redevelopment incentives, which will spur growth in many areas that have been longstanding concerns for the state. New Jersey has been without an incentive program for over a year and a half, and this measure will make our businesses competitive with those in other states again. When combined with incentives to invest in technological innovation, developing brownfields, and eliminating food deserts, among others, we can help those struggling and drive the entire state forward.”

The legislation also includes a groundbreaking Food Desert Relief program designed to ensure that all communities have access to fresh, healthy food. Incentives would offset the cost of development of a fresh-food grocery store in an area designated as a food desert, while also strengthening existing community assets like bodegas, corner stores, and mid-sized retailers by equipping them with the necessary equipment and infrastructure to provide healthier food options.

The legislation reforms the state’s two main tax incentive programs, placing caps on the amount of incentives awarded each year, as well as over the life of the programs. The programs, which incorporate many of the recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force on EDA’s Tax Incentives, greatly enhance compliance restrictions to ensure that money is being well spent and jobs are being created, including the creation of an inspector general post to investigate claims of abuses within the programs.

The New Jersey Emerge program is a job creation tax credit focused on bringing new middle-class and well-paying jobs to our communities, with base and bonus structure for targeted industries and geographies.

The New Jersey Aspire program is a gap financing program to support commercial, industrial, mixed-use, and residential real estate development projects, with an emphasis on higher need communities.

Separate from the Emerge and Aspire program cap is a set-aside for large, transformative projects. There can be a maximum of ten such projects over the life of the incentives program.

This legislation will provide additional protections for organized labor, a longstanding promise of the governor’s, as well as community benefit agreements, which are designed to ensure an award recipient will engage and stay engaged with local government. For the first time, New Jersey’s economic development programs will include prevailing wage for building service work and labor harmony provisions, which will protect building trades and building service workers from unfair practices.

This sweeping legislation revamps several existing programs, including the successful Film and Television Tax Credit, which was expanded and enhanced to attract large studio construction to New Jersey, and the Offshore Wind Manufacturing credit, which now encompasses the entire state and will allow more businesses to qualify.

Several existing NJEDA programs have been folded into the legislation as well, including the Angel Investor Tax Credit, the Net Operating Loss Credit, and the New Jersey Ignite Program.

For a list of over 100 New Jersey leaders – spanning government, the private sector, and organized labor – who urged passage of the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020, please click here.


Hamilton Township Woman Indicted With Stealing $268,000 By Fraudulently Collecting Survivor Benefits From Deceased Husband’s Pension After She Remarried

January 7, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a woman was indicted for allegedly stealing more than $268,000 by fraudulently collecting survivor benefits from her deceased husband’s pension for nearly 10 years after she remarried and allegedly knew she was disqualified for such benefits.

Sandra VonScheven, 44, of Hamilton, Mercer County, N.J., was indicted yesterday by a state grand jury on a charge of second-degree theft by unlawful taking.  The indictment is the result of an investigation by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) and the Pension and Fraud Abuse Unit of the New Jersey Department of the Treasury’s Division of Pension and Benefits.

In November 2001, VonScheven began collecting survivor spousal benefits from the pension of her deceased husband, who was a retired municipal police officer in New Jersey.  Surviving spouses are entitled to widow or widower’s benefits under the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System.  Survivor benefits continue for life or until the surviving spouse remarries.

In November 2019, the Division of Pensions and Benefits notified OPIA that VonScheven had continued to receive survivor spousal benefits from her late husband’s pension despite the fact that she remarried on Jan. 15, 2010.  It is alleged that VonScheven knew that her survivor benefits ceased when she remarried and nevertheless continued to receive the benefits every month until November 2019.  In total, she received more than $268,000 in benefits to which she was not entitled. 

Deputy Attorneys General John Nicodemo and Adam Gerken presented the case virtually to the state grand jury for the OPIA Corruption Bureau.  Detective Sonya Carney was lead detective for OPIA, and Deputy Attorney General Mallory Shanahan also assisted.  Attorney General Grewal thanked the Pension and Fraud Abuse Unit of the Department of the Treasury’s Division of Pension and Benefits for its investigation and referral.

Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000.  The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Peter E. Warshaw in Mercer County, where VonScheven will be ordered to appear in court at a later date for arraignment.

Defense Attorney: Undetermined


Remarks by Governor Murphy on Yesterday’s Violent Insurrection in Washington, D.C.

January 7, 2021

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)– “The fact that we all woke up this morning to the reality of President-elect Joe Biden’s election formalized by the United States Congress is proof that our democracy is stronger than an unhinged mob.

The scene that unfolded yesterday in the Capitol Building will go down as one of the darkest days in our nation’s history. Every insurrectionist who tried to overthrow the free and fair election of President-elect Biden should be identified, arrested, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for desecrating the cradle of American democracy. They should be given no quarter. They are not patriots. They are the antithesis of what it means to be an American. 

This was not a protest. It was an act of domestic terrorism spurred on by the president himself and his minions. 

The president’s refusal to accept the reality that he lost an election created this. His years of lies and willful misinformation created this. His belief that the laws don’t apply to him created this. His spewing of unfounded conspiracy theories created this. His unwillingness to understand even the basic precepts of the Constitution created this.

I am relieved that the members of Congress were all safe and were able to complete their Constitutionally mandated task of counting and formalizing Joe Biden’s election as our 46th President. In two weeks, with his inauguration, the renewal of America will begin in earnest.

I have deployed 500 members of the New Jersey National Guard to Washington, DC, to assist in the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another. I trust they will represent the highest values of our state and our republic. I wish them well. And I thank Interim Adjutant General Colonel Dr. Lisa Hou and State Police Superintendent Colonel Pat Callahan for their leadership.

Make no mistake, yesterday was no accident. 

It was the result of four years of gaslighting and concerted attempts from within to weaken our democracy. But our democracy proved more resilient than the deranged conspiracy theories.  

And for that, I say, God bless America.”



Governor Murphy Announces Deployment of 500 National Guard Troops to Washington, D.C.

“Upon the request of the United States National Guard Bureau, I am authorizing the deployment of 500 members of the New Jersey National Guard to Washington, D.C. to protect our democracy and facilitate the peaceful transition of power. Our republic is built on the principles of democracy, peace, and the right of the American people to freely choose their leaders. The brave men and women of our National Guard will be deployed in order to preserve these sacred principles. May God Bless America and our brave men and women in uniform.”

Governor Murphy Signs the “Dominick Marino PFRS Enhanced Benefits for Surviving Spouses Act”

January 7, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Today, Governor Phil Murphy signed S487, also known as the “Dominick Marino PFRS Enhanced Benefits for Surviving Spouses Act”. The legislation is named after Dominick Marino, a former professional firefighter and past President of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey (PFANJ), who passed away earlier last year. The new law will provide financial security for a member’s surviving spouse by ensuring that the accidental death benefit provided by the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System cannot be below $50,000 annually.

“A fierce advocate who put his heart and soul into everything he did for his PFANJ brothers and sisters, Dominick was a dear friend to me and to so many of us,” said Governor Murphy. “It is my great honor to sign this bill to cement Dominick’s legacy and help ensure that our first responders’ loved ones who are left behind are taken care of.”

“The health and well-being of his firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, as well as their families, were very important to our father. He continued to work hard and fight for them every day,” said the Marino Family. “This bill is just one example of his hard work and dedication to them, and we are honored to have this bill named after him.”  

“Senate Bill 487, named after Past-President Dominick Marino exemplifies ‘Donnie’ and all that he represented as President of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey (PFANJ) before his untimely death in April 2020,” said Steve McConlogue, President of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey. “He was the driving force behind this bill and felt passionately about ensuring that the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice are taken care of regardless of years of service. As firefighters, we show up each and every day knowing the danger and risks involved and, just as we believe in the importance of protecting and serving the members of our communities, we believe in taking care of each other. This bill helps to ensure we are doing just that. Thank you to the members of the PFANJ who have worked tirelessly to help move this bill across the finish line and to the members of the General Assembly and Senate for passing this bill unanimously. Thank you Governor Murphy for signing this bill into law.”

“Members of the public safety community put their lives on the line every day to protect and save the lives of every person in New Jersey,” said Senator Brian Stack. “So, it is absolutely a tragedy when they die in the line of duty, and even worse when they leave behind a surviving spouse. This is why Senator Sacco and I worked to enhance the accidental death benefit of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System. Collectively, we have to look out for these families when they lose loved ones.”

“As a mayor, it breaks my heart when I read about the accidental death of a police officer or firefighter,” said Senator Nicholas Sacco. “And if I find out they left behind a surviving family; my first instinct is to do whatever I can to help regardless of where in the state they may be. Enhancing the accidental death benefit in their pension to provide a minimum amount will prevent them from having financial issues due to the loss of their spouse.”

“Too many of our first responders, unfortunately, give their lives to keep their communities safe. We will never be able to fully give back to those brave heroes, but the very least we can do is make sure their families are cared for,” said Assemblymembers Angelica Jimenez, Pedro Mejia, and Carol Murphy in a joint statement. “Expanding the accidental death pension will benefit many families of fallen police officers and firefighters. It’s another way we can continue to express our utmost respect and gratitude for their loved one’s service.”

MidJersey.news file:

File video: Dominick Marino testifies at the NJ Statehouse on June 16, 2011


Police And Firefighters Now Eligible To Get COVID-19 Vaccinations Per Governor Murphy

January 6, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Murphy announced today that Police and Firefighters are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting Tomorrow, Thursday January 7, 2021. Some police and firefighters have already received the vaccination due to holding multiple roles such as a EMT or other health care provider. This will allow all police and firefighters to receive the vaccination starting tomorrow.


Statement from the NJ FMBA via Facebook:

FMBA: I am extremely pleased to announce, through the hard work of the NJ FMBA and the NJ Division of Fire Safety, under the direction of NJ State Fire Marshal Rich Mikutsky, Governor Phil Murphy has moved all active first responders into the first round of vaccinations. Starting tomorrow, firefighters and police officers will be moved into the same category as EMTs and health care providers for COVID-19 vaccinations. If you have any questions, please call the NJ FMBA office at 732-499-9250. We will also be discussing this topic in greater detail at the January virtual state meeting to be held on Wednesday, January 13th, at 0930hrs. Although this decision is up to each individual, I am pleased to announce many of our members have received the vaccine already. While it is unclear if dispatchers are included in this order, the NJ FMBA is working diligently with the NJ Department of Health to identify which category dispatchers should fall into. – Eddie


The State of NJ is reporting there have been 137,829 vaccinations statewide.

135,606 individuals have received their first dose 2,149 individuals have received their second dose.



NJWeedman Opens First Citizen Dispensary Sells Marijuana In Trenton

January 1, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Ed Forchion, NJ Weedman has opened up the first citizen dispensary and is now selling marijuana at the NJWeedman’s Joint. According to Forchion he sold the first “legal” weed in NJ at 12:01 am this morning. There was a party with a band and a Champaign toast at midnight celebrating what he said was the first legal sale in NJ.

NJ Weedman, Ed Forchion said, “New Jersey Public Question 1, the Marijuana Legalization Amendment, was on the ballot in New Jersey as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on November 3, 2020. Public Question 1 was approved. A “yes” vote supported this constitutional amendment to legalize the possession and use of marijuana for persons age 21 and older and legalize the cultivation, processing, and sale of retail marijuana.”

Forchion told MidJersey.news that current State Government’s legislation is designed for big business and cuts out the small guys. He stated that the people voted for legal marijuana and not for big business. Marijuana should be for everyone that wants it.

Currently the Public Question passed during the General Election allowing legal marijuana in NJ starting January 1, 2021. The legislature and Governor have not worked out all details on a legal marijuana bill and the bill has been delayed. Some say it would create problems if sales are challenged in court of law until a marijuana law is passed.

See related MidJersey.news story here: New Jersey’s Cannabis Law May be Different Than You Thought, NJ Weedman Files Suit





Governor Murphy, Commissioner Persichilli Mark Start of COVID-19 Vaccination Effort for Residents and Staff of Long-Term Facilities

291 LTC Facilities Currently Scheduled for Vaccinations — Covering Over 83,000 New Jerseyans 

OLD BRIDGE, NJ (MIDDLESEX)—Governor Phil Murphy, joined by New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli and CVS Health Regional Director Kat Kingston, today visited Roosevelt Care Center in Old Bridge to mark the launch of New Jersey’s vaccination effort of residents and staff of long-term care facilities. The vaccinations are being administered pursuant to the Federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), CVS, and Walgreens to facilitate on-site COVID-19 vaccination services. Through the Federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, New Jersey already has 291 long-term care facilities scheduled and over 83,000 residents and staff slated to receive vaccinations through the beginning of February 2021, with more sites to be added in the coming weeks.

“Long-term care facilities across New Jersey and the entire nation have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Governor Murphy. “Over the past nine months, we have paid an incredible cost, but today is another positive step forward in our fight against this virus. New Jersey’s comprehensive and inclusive vaccination plan prioritizes individuals living in high-risk, congregate settings, such as nursing homes, Veterans Homes, and assisted living residences. We are incredibly grateful to CVS and Walgreens for their work with the Federal Pharmacy Partnership program to ensure that we have the resources to vaccinate and protect our most vulnerable populations.”

“Throughout this pandemic, the residents and staff of our long-term care facilities have been among the most severely impacted,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “With the start of this large-scale vaccination effort today, we are continuing to strengthen protections for our most vulnerable populations, along with the staff who have been truly courageous in caring for them.”

“Today’s rollout is the culmination of months of internal planning and demonstrates how the private sector can use its expertise to help solve some of our most critical challenges,” said Larry J. Merlo, President and Chief Executive Officer, CVS Health. “I’m grateful for the herculean efforts of everyone involved, including our health care professionals who will be deployed throughout the country to bring peace of mind to long-term care facility residents, staff, and their loved ones.”

“Walgreens is very proud to be a part of this historic milestone to begin administering Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to our most vulnerable populations in New Jersey and across the country,” said John Standley, President, Walgreens. “With more than a decade of experience administering various vaccines, we have the deep expertise to support this unprecedented effort to allow our nation to emerge from this pandemic.”

“Today marks an incredibly important day as we work together to protect the health and safety of our most vulnerable residents and frontline workers at New Jersey’s long-term care facilities,” said Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. “I applaud Governor Murphy for helping facilitate this federal Pharmacy Partnership with CVS and Walgreens. These vaccination protocols will help ensure we come through this unprecedented public health emergency together and return to living our lives with our families and friends.”

“Our long-term care facilities have suffered unimaginable heartbreak and loss due to COVID-19. I am hopeful that the start of vaccinations for our most vulnerable seniors will also mark the beginning of the end of the public health emergency,” said Senator Sam Thompson. “The long, torturous pandemic has claimed lives, taken jobs, and interrupted daily life in New Jersey, but today we have cause for optimism as we prepare to close the door on 2020.”

“This marks the beginning of a new, important phase of our battle against the coronavirus pandemic,” said Senator Joe Vitale. “The distribution of the vaccine is reason for hope and optimism, but the health crisis is far from over. The threat is still very real, especially for the residents and front-line workers in long-term care facilities who are so vulnerable. We have  to make the best use of vaccines as the supply becomes available and we have to continue all the other safety measures as we go through this stage of the Covid crisis.”

  “It is an understatement to say that this has been an incredibly challenging year for all of us in healthcare, on many levels,” said Esther Moodey, Staff Nurse and the first LTC staff recipient of the COVID-19 vaccine in New Jersey. “I am thankful for the COVID-19 vaccine and honored to be the first staff member at our facility receive it, in solidarity with my colleagues in other long term care facilities around New Jersey. The vaccine brings hope and optimism about the future and promise of a return to ‘normal.’”






“Christmas Star” Great Conjunction Of Saturn and Jupiter

December 22, 2020

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)– For the first time in 800 years, planets Saturn and Jupiter aligned. It may appear as one star observed from Earth with the naked eye, hence the conjunction nicknamed the “Christmas Star.” During the month of December, the two planets appeared to move closer together, and on Monday night, they were closest. Unfortunately, clouds over most of New Jersey kept most from seeking the spectacle. Tonight, there was a short break in the clouds long enough to get a photograph of the conjunction.

If you did not see the two planets, you will still have an opportunity over the next few days to see the rare conjunction, but it will appear that the planets are moving further apart each night.

To see the planets, look in the Southwest sky just after dusk and you will see two bright objects that may appear as one with the naked eye. If you use binoculars or a telescope, you can see the two planets apart. As the week progresses, however, Jupiter and Saturn will move further apart once again. To make things easier, use an application like Star Walk 2 or Google Sky Map to find and identify the planets.


Coronavirus Hits The Lottery!…NJ Lottery To Close Building Due To COVID-19

Update: NJ Lottery Headquarters Reopens Following COVID-19 Case

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The New Jersey Lottery headquarters building is temporarily closed effective immediately for cleaning due to a positive case of Covid-19. Operations will continue at the Lottery’s Business Continuity Site, which is designated as a back-up facility to ensure continuity of critical business functions in the event that Lottery Headquarters is ever closed or inaccessible for any reason.

Lottery staff will conduct tonight’s evening drawings at the Business Continuity Site, a secure environment. As always, the drawings will be monitored by an independent auditor. Tomorrow’s drawings may also be impacted.

The general public should be aware that:

  • The Lottery office will be closed to the public until at least Monday, December 28.
  • The office closure will also necessitate the cancellation of any winner claims appointments. Appointments will be rescheduled after the office reopens.
  • The drawings will be held at the Business Continuity Site.
  • The drawings will still be conducted using mechanical ball machines and in accordance with standard lottery procedures.
  • Drawings for games broadcast from the Business Continuity Site will not be broadcast or livestreamed. Those games include Pick-3, Pick-4, Jersey Cash 5, and CASH4LIFE.
  • The drawing results will be posted to the website, mobile app and emailed to the VIP Club members as per standard operating procedure.
  • The drawings will be videotaped for security purposes only.

The media and public are being apprised of the closure with this release and through our social media and other public-facing communication channels.

The Business Continuity Site is housed at a secure location away from Lottery Headquarters. A team of employees was designated as essential to operations and assigned functions at the Business Continuity Site. The Business Continuity Site facility houses key staff from all Lottery departments including the: Executive team, Administration and Compliance, Communications and Public Relations, Drawing, Finance, Operations, Security and Technology.


AG Grewal Overhauls Statewide Police Use of Force Policies

Sweeping New Rules Place Strict Limits on Use of Force, Establish New Framework for Civilian Interactions; Will Apply to All 38,000 Officers in New Jersey

December 21, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced a comprehensive package of policies designed to limit the use of force by New Jersey’s 38,000 state, county, and local law enforcement officers. The sweeping changes include the first revision to the Attorney General’s “Use of Force Policy” in two decades and reaffirm New Jersey’s status as a national leader in progressive policing reform.

Today’s policies, issued pursuant to the Attorney General’s statutory authority as the state’s chief law enforcement officer, reflect a new statewide framework for police interactions with civilians— the first of its kind in the United States and one which calls upon law enforcement to protect the life, liberty and dignity of residents in every interaction. At the heart of the new framework is the revised Use of Force Policy, which among other things:

  • Prohibits all forms of physical force against a civilian, except as a last resort and only after the officer attempts to de-escalate the situation and provides the civilian with an opportunity to comply with the officer’s instructions;
  • Prohibits all forms of deadly force against a civilian – including chokeholds and strikes to the head or neck – except as an absolute last resort when the officer reasonably believes that such action is immediately necessary to protect the officer or another person from imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury;
  • Prohibits officers from firing weapons at a moving vehicle or engaging in a high-speed car chase, except under narrowly limited circumstances;
  • Provides new guidance on the use of less-lethal force as an alternative to deadly force and as a tool for de-escalation;
  • Establishes an affirmative “duty to intervene” that requires all officers – regardless of rank, title, or seniority – to intercede if they observe another officer engage in illegal or excessive force against a civilian; and
  • Establishes an affirmative “duty to provide medical assistance” that requires officers to request – and, where appropriate, personally provide – medical assistance after any use of force against a civilian.

In addition, today’s announcement includes several significant policies designed to ensure compliance with the revised Use of Force Policy and help New Jersey’s law enforcement officers incorporate its principles into their daily work. These policies issued today by Attorney General Grewal provide that:

  • All 38,000 state, county, and local law enforcement officers in New Jersey must complete an immersive, two-day training program on de-escalation and other tactics for limiting the use of force. This unique training program will incorporate two proven and respected training programs: ICAT—Integrated Communication and Tactics training developed by the Police Executive Research Forum, and ABLE—Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement developed by Georgetown University and others. All officers must complete the training no later than December 31, 2021;
  • Within 24 hours of using any physical force against a civilian, the law enforcement officer must report detailed information about the incident to the statewide Use of Force Portal, a new electronic reporting system implemented with Benchmark Analytics, part of the University of Chicago’s Center for Data Science and Public Policy. A version of the portal will be accessible for public review in the first quarter of 2021;
  • Supervisory officers, including police chiefs, are now required to review all uses of force by their subordinate officers, both to determine whether a particular use of force was proper and to identify systemic issues that may require retraining or other remedial measures; and
  • Every New Jersey law enforcement agency – including the New Jersey State Police, the 21 County Sheriff’s Offices, and more than 500 local police departments – must conduct an annual analysis of use-of-force incidents to identify trends, including any racial disparities, and submit the analysis to the County Prosecutor for review.

The revised Use of Force Policy marks the culmination of a project that Attorney General Grewal announced in June 2020. Its development included dozens of community listening sessions across the state, including at least one in each county, and a review of over a thousand public comments. The Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity & Accountability (OPIA) oversaw the drafting process, in close consultation with law enforcement leaders, civil rights and religious organizations, and community stakeholders, many of whom provided statements of support for the final policy documents. (Statements of public support appear at the end of this release.)

“Today is another major step toward addressing the gap in trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve — drawing on the best practices of police departments across the nation and the urgent priorities of reform advocates to implement a uniform use of force policy for every officer in New Jersey,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “I commend Attorney General Grewal for his leadership during this transformational moment by delivering this first of its kind policy to ensure law enforcement is held to the highest professional standards, particularly for Black and Brown communities who have suffered far too many incidents of improper and excessive force. Through this comprehensive policy, we are again putting New Jersey at the forefront of the national movement for justice.”

“We are committed to making New Jersey a national leader in policing reform, and today’s actions deliver on that promise,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We are building on the important work already underway in the state’s best police departments and establishing a new standard of excellence across the Garden State. But today’s changes are about more than just reducing unnecessary use of force by law enforcement. We are also restoring the public’s trust in the work we do—which, in the long run, makes law enforcement more effective and everyone safer.”

“After hosting dozens of listening sessions and reviewing hundreds of public comments, we revised the Use of Force Policy to reflect the needs and concerns of the people we serve,” said OPIA Director Thomas Eicher. “But it’s not enough to simply issue a progressive new policy. We are committed to re-training every officer in the state and ensuring that they incorporate this model into their work.”

“The preeminent duty of a law enforcement officer is the preservation of life above all else, and that core principle is the foundation of this new policy. This initiative employs training that promotes mutual respect between police officers and the public, requires the use of deadly force only as a last resort, and was designed to hold New Jersey law enforcement to the highest professional standards in all aspects of policing,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Programs like the Excellence in Policing Initiative, which builds trust between the police and the community through partnership, accountability and transparency, are why New Jersey continues to have the most innovative and professional law enforcement community in the nation.”

Additional New Initiatives

Attorney General Grewal also took several other steps today to improve public and law enforcement safety. To help police better handle situations involving individuals in mental health crisis, he issued a statewide directive establishing a framework for county prosecutors to convene (or in some cases continue) working groups to address police interactions with special needs populations and those living with mental or behavioral health issues.  The County Working Groups will review policies, programs and protocols to maximize the effectiveness of each county’s response to those with disabilities or those in mental health crisis.

In addition, Attorney General Grewal imposed several restrictions on the use of police dogs, prohibiting their use against crowds or protesters, or against those who are resisting arrest but do not pose a threat to another person. Attorney General Grewal directed OPIA to work with law enforcement and other stakeholders to study whether any additional restrictions should be placed on the use of police dogs, and make recommendations no later than March 31, 2021.

Attorney General Grewal also announced today that the Attorney General’s Office will be hiring a first-ever Chief Data Officer to oversee the compilation, interpretation, and use of the extensive law enforcement data that is collected by the Department of Law & Public Safety. The Chief Data Officer will ensure that the state makes the best use of the various law enforcement data streams it collects to inform and assess its ongoing policing reform efforts and to ensure public transparency.

Strengthening Community Trust

Today’s actions mark the latest phase of Attorney General Grewal’s “Excellence in Policing” initiative, which he launched in December 2019 to promote the professionalism, accountability, and transparency that have always marked New Jersey’s best law enforcement agencies. As part of this effort, Attorney General Grewal has invoked his authority under the Criminal Justice Act of 1970 to issue “law enforcement directives” that are binding on all state, county, and local law enforcement officers and prosecutors in New Jersey.

The revised Use of Force Policy – formally implemented via Law Enforcement Directive No. 2020-13 – follows a number of other significant policies designed to make New Jersey a national leader in policing reform:

Accountability

  • Improving oversight of, and greater transparency regarding, police department’s internal disciplinary units. (AG Directives 2020-72020-6, and 2020-5.)
  • Requiring independent investigations of officer-involved shootings and other serious use-of-force incidents. (AG Directive 2019-4.)
  • Developing a statewide police licensing program. (June 2020 Action.)

Professionalism

  • Mandating implicit bias training for all prosecutors, state and county detectives, and New Jersey State Troopers. (June 2018 Action.)
  • Establishing a first-in-the-nation statewide “officer resiliency” program to help officers better cope with psychological stressors. (AG Directive 2019-1.)
  • Development of “early warning systems” to identity and counsel at-risk officers before their behavior escalates. (AG Directive 2018-3.)
  • Improving interactions between law enforcement and historically marginalized communities, including LGBTQ+ individuals (AG Directive 2019-3), immigrants (2018-6), sexual assault victims (2018-5), and at-risk juveniles (2020-12).

Transparency

  • Mandating the prompt release of body-worn camera footage following serious use-of-force incidents. (AG Directives 2019-4 and 2018-1.)
  • Ensuring the prompt disclosure of exculpatory and impeachment evidence. (AG Directive 2019-6.)
  • Launching a statewide conviction review unit. (April 2019 Action.)
  • Hosting quarterly community listening sessions in all 21 New Jersey counties. (April 2018 Action.)

Statements of Support for Revised Use of Force Policy

Louis Bordi, President, New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police (NJSACOP); Chief of Police, Voorhees Police Department:

“New Jersey’s Police Chiefs are proud to work alongside our law enforcement colleagues and the Attorney General in the ongoing work of moving policing forward and keeping our state at the forefront of continuous improvement.”

Rev. Dr. Charles F. Boyer, Founder, Salvation and Social Justice:

“Salvation and Social Justice is pleased that the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office is moving in the right direction with this Use of Force Policy revision. The revision better articulates the standards of force with new provisions regarding imminent danger, the use of Tasers, and officer pursuits of civilians. These policy improvements create a greater level of transparency and increase officer accountability.

“Our mission is to foster a community where people are not marginalized and policed on account of their race, gender, or socioeconomic status. This is the moral duty of New Jersey’s criminal justice system. We look forward to continuing this Use of Force Policy dialogue with the Attorney General’s Office, community partners, and constituents. There is still much work to be done; we are focused on making further progress in terms of police accountability, use of force standards, improved officer training, and elimination of asphyxiation techniques. This continued collaboration will promote justice and equity across the State of New Jersey.”

Zulma Cabrera, President, Hispanic American Law Enforcement Association:

“I provided my support to the Attorney General’s Office Use of Force Policy working group. It has been an amazing experience to be able to come together with all the agencies involved to complete a policy that will address and ensure everyone’s safety. The working group has committed many hours to this important effort in order to provide the public and all law enforcement departments with the tools to assure all situations are handled safely and properly. I commend the Attorney General’s Office for allowing us the opportunity to be a part of this process.”

Patrick Colligan, President, New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association:

“The revised Use of Force policy is another important tool in enhancing the professionalism and integrity of New Jersey’s law enforcement profession. This policy makes key changes that will protect our officers on the job while ensuring the public that New Jersey police remain the best trained in the nation. This policy developed after weeks of collaborative discussions amongst the State PBA and other stakeholders and we are grateful to the Attorney General’s Office for incorporating our suggestions.”

James M. Gannon, President, Sheriff’s Association of New Jersey; Morris County Sheriff:

“New Jersey law enforcement has a long history of working to better serve the citizenry by regularly improving operations and procedures. My colleagues in the Sheriff’s Association of New Jersey (SANJ) and our partners in the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police (NJSACOP) continue to impress me with their eagerness to find better ways to do a difficult job. That is why it was our honor to participate in the review of the Use of Force Guidelines with the Office of the Attorney General and to explore again how we may best serve the public.

“In the words of leadership expert Jim Collins, ‘Good is the Enemy of Great.’ There is always room for improvement. However, my counterpart in NJSACOP, Chief Lou Bordi and I agreed from the start that no group of law enforcement professionals is more vigilant about performing their sworn duties in the best way possible than the men and women in uniform serving the citizens of New Jersey. While outside scrutiny of any culture of service is always necessary, this review only left Lou and I even more impressed with our fellow officers because, once again, they have admirably demonstrated a willingness to accept greater discipline, despite these uncertain and difficult times, for their very difficult vocation.

“Law Enforcement is a dangerous profession. According to the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial, line of duty deaths are already up 56 percent this year— 198 officers killed so far in 2020 compared to 127 for all of last year. My fervent hope is that the great people of the State of New Jersey once again begin to consciously and openly express their appreciation for the job these guardians perform on a daily basis. The Officers need and deserve your support, and your respect!

“Please visit www.njsheriff.org and www.njsacop.org and you will see the thread of professionalism and accountability throughout our organizations. It is central to both Chief Bordi’s, and my own, stated missions!”

  Commissioner Carole Johnson, New Jersey Department of Human Services:

“By prioritizing the importance of law enforcement de-escalation techniques, increasing the emphasis on listening and explaining, and expanding law enforcement knowledge about mental health and disabilities, the Attorney General is taking actions that will better protect individuals in New Jersey with mental health conditions and disabilities, who are often particularly vulnerable in law enforcement interactions. We look forward to working collaboratively with law enforcement, community leaders, individuals with lived experience and their families and guardians, to create a safer and more just New Jersey for all.”

    Christy Lopez, Professor from Practice and Faculty Co-Director, Innovative Policing Program, Georgetown University Law Center:

“There has been a lot of talk about police reform over the last six months. With Attorney General Grewal’s  comprehensive, statewide changes to police use of force, New Jersey provides a roadmap for turning words into actions that can prevent policing harm and transform police culture. Importantly, the changes today go far beyond simply revising policy. New Jersey is increasing data collection and reporting and ensuring that officers will be trained in how to avoid unnecessary force and how to intervene to prevent other officers from committing misconduct. Georgetown Law’s Innovative Policing Program is happy to support this work through its ABLE Project active bystandership training.” 

Jiles H. Ship, President, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) New Jersey; Past National President, NOBLE

“The public outrage after the senseless killing of George Floyd fueled the national demand for review of excessive force policies in law enforcement. We acknowledge the importance of this first step and NOBLE NJ looks forward to continuing our work with the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General to develop a comprehensive policy that will ensure the safety of all New Jerseyans and law enforcement officers.”

Amol Sinha, Executive Director, ACLU-NJ:

“The Attorney General’s use-of-force directive incorporates measures that have extraordinary potential to protect people’s rights and safety, and it creates important accountability requirements for law enforcement— with the understanding that even the strongest use-of-force policies are only as effective as their implementation and enforcement.

“At the core of the directive is an emphasis that law enforcement’s role is to treat all people they encounter with respect and dignity, value the sanctity of life, and work to deescalate difficult situations. This framework, if implemented effectively, could serve to avoid tragic outcomes and protect fundamental rights, particularly in Black and brown communities which often are the subject of over-policing. We look forward to working with the Office of the Attorney General, stakeholders, and advocates to inform further reforms and to help New Jersey’s law enforcement agencies fulfill the directive, both in letter and spirit.”

Richard T. Smith, President, NAACP New Jersey State Conference:

“Establishing a rigorous statewide policy focused on reducing use of force is an important step forward to achieving police accountability. We support the guiding principle that officers must make every effort to preserve and protect human life and the safety of all persons and never deploy force in a discriminatory manner.  We appreciate being included in discussions during the revision process and look forward to future engagement as the new policy with accompanying training rolls out. While we recognize that more work must be done to improve police-community trust, we applaud Attorney General Grewal’s leadership and commitment.”   

Esther Suarez, President, County Prosecutors Association of New Jersey; Hudson County Prosecutor:

“This first-of-its-kind policy rightly emphasizes expanding the use of de-escalation as the primary tool for officers and that use of force should always be a last resort and only deployed once clear verbal warning and an opportunity to comply have been made. Among the many important measures announced today, we find the specific attention to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis and offering training and tools to officers incredibly important. Additionally, creating a first-in-the-nation public portal that documents every use of force by law enforcement is a transformative and important step toward transparency and trust building between law enforcement and the public.”

Joseph D. Wysocki, Police Chief, Camden County Police Department:

“The Camden County Police Department seeks to establish policy and practices that are progressive in nature and representative of a contemporary policing culture. We fully support the implementation of the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General Use of Force Policy, which promotes and codifies modern-day law enforcement ethos and ideals, anchored in the sanctity of human life.”  


USE OF FORCE POLICY 

Related Content

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What will New Jersey’s multi-day law enforcement training entail?

What is the Use of Force Portal?

What information does law enforcement enter into the Use of Force Portal?

What comments did we receive from the public?

Who partnered in this initiative?



Governor Murphy and NJ TRANSIT Celebrate Major Milestone with PTC Certification

December 18, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today, alongside NJ TRANSIT Board Chair and Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, NJ TRANSIT President & CEO Kevin Corbett, Amtrak President Stephen Gardner, Federal Railroad Administrator Ron Batory, and Parsons Corporation’s Terry Fetters, announced that NJ TRANSIT’s Positive Train Control (PTC) system has been certified by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) as meeting the December 31, 2020 deadline for implementation. This major accomplishment comes after nearly three years of around the clock work, first to meet the interim milestone for equipment and infrastructure installation at the end of 2018, and then to achieve this certification for full implementation. When Governor Murphy took office in January of 2018, the project was at just 12% completion toward the 2018 interim goal for equipment and infrastructure installation.

“After nearly a decade of neglect and disinvestment under the previous administration, I’m thrilled that NJ TRANSIT’s PTC system will today receive certification from the Federal Railroad Administration,” said Governor Murphy. “Our commitment to meeting this deadline and ensuring the safety of every rider along NJ TRANSIT’s rail network is simply an extension of our overall commitment to delivering the world-class transportation experience that NJ TRANSIT customers deserve. As our post-COVID future takes shape in the months ahead, hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans will again turn to our rail system for their commutes and NJ TRANSIT will be ready to get them to their destinations more safely than ever.”

“The Federal Railroad Administration’s certification of NJ TRANSIT’s Positive Train Control system improves safety for our customers by using technology to reduce the risk of human error,” said Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “It took an amazing effort by our dedicated staff to complete this system on time, and I want to thank everyone who worked so diligently to get this done.”

“We could not have been successful without the hard work and dedication of the NJ TRANSIT employees assigned to this project, which was arguably one of the most complex in the country,” said NJ TRANSIT President & CEO Kevin Corbett. “Similar to the December 2018 interim milestone, we did what many thought was impossible. In addition to our employees, I want to thank our contractors (Parsons and Alstom), FRA Administrator Ron Batory and his team for their leadership and support, our partners at Amtrak, MTA, SEPTA and the many freight railroads – all of whom were critical to our success. Most importantly, I want to thank our customers for their continued patience and understanding over the last two years while we worked tirelessly to complete PTC and deliver a safer commute.”

“We’re delighted that NJ TRANSIT has been able to complete their installation of PTC and thank them for the focus and collaboration under Governor Murphy’s and CEO Kevin Corbett’s leadership over the past few years,” said Amtrak Board Chair Tony Coscia. “It’s clear that NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak share the same commitment to safety, customer service and growth and this stands as another example of how our partnership is delivering value for the public, even in these difficult times.”

“As FRA Administrator, one of my greatest privileges has been to oversee—and stand alongside—NJ TRANSIT as it fully implemented FRA-certified and interoperable PTC systems on its network,” said Ronald Batory, Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration. “I salute and commend the perseverance and commitment at all levels of NJ TRANSIT’s team to meeting this important deadline.”

“Achieving this critical milestone was made possible by the combined collaboration, innovation, and determination of NJ TRANSIT, Federal Railroad Administration, Parsons and Alstom,” said Chuck Harrington, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Parsons. “The team worked tirelessly through a global pandemic to ensure the safety of New Jersey’s rail network.”

“This is good news for riders and a significant milestone for NJ TRANSIT in delivering a safe and reliable system for its customers,” said U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, the ranking member of the Senate’s transit subcommittee. “Positive Train Control is a proven life-saving technology that can automatically slow down a train when its operator cannot or becomes incapacitated for any reason. Full implementation of PTC makes our rails safer and prevents tragedy.  After years of delay under the previous administration, Governor Murphy and the leadership at NJ TRANSIT deserve credit for making smart investments and prioritizing the completion of PTC installation in time to meet the federal deadline.”

“The full implementation of this life-saving technology is welcome news for the hundreds of thousands of New Jersey rail passengers who rely on safe and reliable service,” said U.S. Senator Cory Booker. “I applaud Governor Murphy and the team at NJ TRANSIT on this significant milestone and for their commitment to passenger safety

“This has been a brutal year for New Jerseyans and for our lifeblood transit lines. So it’s welcome news that New Jersey Transit will meet the federal PTC mandate I have championed to ensure the safety of our commuters,” said Congressman Bill Pascrell, who helped secure federal aid for NJT to install PTC. “Just in our region over the past several years, the Hoboken Terminal crash, the tragedy on Amtrak outside Philly, and the Metro-North derailment in Spuyten Duyvil show us the need for PTC because it can save lives. I thank  Governor Murphy and our transportation leaders for helping us meet this mandate during the pandemic. When we get our system back to full strength commuters will feel more secure in the safety of our system.”

“New Jersey Transit is one of the nation’s busiest commuter rail systems, which is why the addition of Positive Train Control (PTC) technology is so important,” said Congressman Albio Sires. “This technology, which is an automatic speed control system that has been around for decades, is instrumental to preventing tragedies. I am glad New Jersey Transit is on track to meet its mandated deadline and that the implementation of these common-sense rail safety standards are nearing completion.”

“New Jersey Transit has completed positive train control upgrades required by the Federal Railroad Administration,” said Senator Patrick Diegnan, Chair of the New Jersey State Senate Transportation Committee. “The completion of these integral upgrades will raise the level of rail safety for our riders and transit employees. These upgrades will prevent potential tragedies from occurring on our tracks.”

“Positive Train Control is a critical component of ongoing efforts to improve public transit, as this technology helps reduce train collisions, derailments and other accidents that might otherwise be caused by human error. Under Governor Murphy, NJ TRANSIT inherited a PTC program that was greatly behind and in danger of large fines come next year,” said Assemblyman Daniel Benson, Chairman of the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee. “Passenger and employee safety must and always will be the number one priority on New Jersey trains. I am pleased NJ TRANSIT has received certification from the Federal Railroad Administration for its implementation of this important technology. Congratulations to Governor Murphy, NJ TRANSIT CEO Kevin Corbett and NJ TRANSIT Board Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti on meeting this important milestone.”

“To have gone from the worst percentage in the nation to full compliance in less than three years while still running the railroad is a great achievement and harbinger for continued improvements to service,” said Assemblyman John McKeon. 

PTC is technology to enhance rail safety by monitoring and controlling train movements. Using Global Positioning System technology, Wi-Fi and high band radio transmission, PTC is capable of automatically controlling train speeds and movements, thereby reducing the risk of accidents due to human error.

In 2008, Congress passed and the President signed the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which requires the implementation of a PTC system on all non-exempt commuter railroads, including NJ TRANSIT. In 2015, Congress extended the deadline for full implementation to December 31, 2018, but also allowed FRA to approve any railroad’s request for an alternative schedule, with a final deadline of December 31, 2020, if the railroad demonstrated it met certain statutory criteria by that 2018 interim deadline.  PTC is intended to prevent:

  1. Train-to-train collisions;
  2. Derailments caused by excessive speed;
  3. Unauthorized train movements in work zones; and
  4. Movement of trains through switches left in the wrong position.

As a new technology, PTC required design, development, prototype testing, retrofitting locomotives and cab cars, installation of 326 miles of wayside equipment including radios, transponders and poles, as well as initiating PTC testing and employee training. PTC systems feature computer-based communications and information technology designed to improve railroad safety. PTC will complement NJ TRANSIT’s existing cab signaling system and Automatic Train Control (ATC) technology.

NJ Transit’s PTC system consists of three main elements:

  1. Radio transponders and other equipment onboard locomotives or cab control cars;
  2. Antennas, transponders and other equipment along the railroad right-of-way (ROW); and
  3. Computer servers and systems for the Rail Operations Center (ROC).

NJ TRANSIT’s rail system includes 12 commuter rail lines, most operating on tracks shared with other freight and passenger railroads. On the heavily travelled Northeast Corridor (NEC), which is owned by Amtrak, a different PTC system is in use. Although functionally similar, the various PTC systems need to communicate with one another. The coordination required to ensure interoperability with NJ TRANSIT’s five tenant railroads, including the two largest (Conrail and Norfolk Southern), added significant layers of complexity of the project.

Copies of the PTC certification letters can be found at the following links:

Letter 1

Letter 2

Letter 3


AG Grewal Files Lawsuit to Stop Misleading Fundraising and Other Misconduct at Service Animal Charity

Complaint Alleges Merlin’s Kids Raised Millions of Dollars Unlawfully and Made Suspicious Payments Unrelated to Its Charitable Purpose

View Complaint

December 18, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced a lawsuit against Merlin’s Kids, Inc., a charity focused on training and placing rescue dogs as service animals; United K9 Professional Inc., a related for-profit company; and the Bergen County woman who founded and runs both entities.

Filed today in Bergen County Superior Court by Attorney General Grewal and Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs (Division), Paul R. Rodríguez, the complaint alleges that Janice Wolfe of Wyckoff and Merlin’s Kids unlawfully raised millions of dollars since 2008 without registering Merlin’s Kids as a charitable organization. Their fundraising also included false and misleading claims about the services that Merlin’s Kids provides, according to the complaint.

“We want New Jersey residents to be able to give generously to charity without having to worry about whether they are being duped and whether their donations will be well spent,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Unfortunately, as this case demonstrates, not every charity delivers what it promises. We enforce our charitable fundraising laws so that our residents can donate with confidence.”

Among the defendants’ allegedly false and misleading statements were claims that dogs trained through their “disease detection” program annually screened thousands of people for cancer, that the disease detection program included analysis of blood samples, and that Merlin’s Kids maintained a partnership with a cancer charity after the relationship had been terminated.

The complaint also alleges that the defendants charged consumers for dog training services and certification programs but then failed to fulfill their commitments, and that Wolfe improperly instructed consumers that their payments would be fully tax deductible if they paid through Merlin’s Kids, regardless of whether Merlin’s Kids or United K9 was to provide the services.

In addition, the complaint asserts that Wolfe failed to properly monitor, segregate, and account for Merlin’s Kids’ funds, large sums of which were spent on transactions with no apparent charitable purpose. The complaint describes tens of thousands of dollars of purchases for hair styling, skincare products, and artwork, a $10,000 purchase from a Lexus dealer, and numerous large cash withdrawals and transfers to Wolfe, among other suspicious payments that Wolfe was unable or unwilling to explain to the Division.

“Charitable funds do not belong to those who run organizations, but to the causes they serve. Officers and employees of a charity have a legal responsibility to ensure the assets they are entrusted with are put to use in accordance with their mission and the promises they make to their donors.” said Paul R. Rodríguez, Director of the Division. “The pattern of conduct alleged in this complaint is quite egregious, including misrepresenting what the charity does and how it uses funds, taking money and failing to provide promised services, and being unable to account for the use of hundreds of thousands of dollars of charitable funds. By taking action to preserve the integrity of New Jersey’s charitable sector, we hope to give donors confidence as they approach their own year-end giving.”

Today’s complaint alleges violations of Charitable Registration & Investigation Act, the charities regulations, the New Jersey Nonprofit Corporation Act, and the Consumer Fraud Act.

Among other relief, the complaint seeks the return of money unlawfully obtained from members of the public, civil penalties, attorneys’ fees and costs, and an order stopping the defendants’ unlawful practices. The State is also asking the court to dissolve Merlin’s Kids, shut down its website, appoint a receiver, and permanently bar Wolfe from registering or operating any charity in New Jersey.

Deputy Attorneys General Stephanie Asous and Isabella Pitt of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section within the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group are representing the State in the matter. Investigator Brian M. Penn of the Office of Consumer Protection within the Division of Consumer Affairs conducted the investigation.

Consumers can seek information about a charity from the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. Visit the Division’s Charities Registration page or use the Division’s free “New Jersey Charity Search” smartphone app. Consumers are encouraged to report suspicious solicitations to their local police and to the Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or calling 1-800-242-5846 to receive a complaint form by mail.

How Much Snowfall Did We Get?

December 17, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The National Weather Service Philadelphia Mt. Holly official snowfall reports for the area at 2:32 pm. Trace amounts were reported near the shore to 9.5 in Plainsboro in our coverage area.

...MERCER COUNTY...
2 W HOPEWELL                 7.5 IN    1121 AM 12/17   PUBLIC               
PRINCETON                    7.3 IN    1030 AM 12/17   PUBLIC               
1 NW WINDSOR                 6.1 IN    0700 AM 12/17   CO-OP OBSERVER       
ROBBINSVILLE TWP.            6.0 IN    1119 AM 12/17   PUBLIC               
EWING                        6.0 IN    1100 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
PRINCETON                    5.8 IN    0715 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
PENNINGTON                   5.5 IN    0900 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
1 WSW EWING                  5.0 IN    0744 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
3 SSE HAMILTON TWP           4.8 IN    1200 PM 12/17   TRAINED SPOTTER      
1 WSW EWING                  4.5 IN    0709 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
2 SSE HAMILTON TWP           4.0 IN    0956 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
HAMILTON TWP                 4.0 IN    1138 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
WEST WINDSOR TWP.            2.5 IN    0630 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
2 ENE HAMILTON TWP           2.0 IN    0630 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
1 SW ROBBINSVILLE TWP.       2.0 IN    0600 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
...MONMOUTH COUNTY...
1 SW FREEHOLD                7.7 IN    1230 PM 12/17   TRAINED SPOTTER      
COLTS NECK                   7.5 IN    1153 AM 12/17   TRAINED SPOTTER      
MANALAPAN TWP                7.3 IN    0830 AM 12/17   TRAINED SPOTTER      
HAZLET                       7.0 IN    0635 AM 12/17   PUBLIC               
KEYPORT                      6.5 IN    1157 AM 12/17   TRAINED SPOTTER      
2 ENE PERRINEVILLE           6.3 IN    0300 AM 12/17   TRAINED SPOTTER      
FREEHOLD TWP                 6.2 IN    1015 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
HOWELL                       6.1 IN    0830 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
HOWELL                       6.0 IN    0650 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
1 S HOWELL                   6.0 IN    0605 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
RUMSON                       5.5 IN    0830 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
1 N EATONTOWN                5.2 IN    0130 PM 12/17   TRAINED SPOTTER      
MIDDLETOWN TWP               5.0 IN    1233 PM 12/17   TRAINED SPOTTER      
1 N EATONTOWN                4.5 IN    0910 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
LEONARDO                     4.0 IN    0945 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
MIDDLETOWN                   4.0 IN    0824 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
FREEHOLD                     4.0 IN    0615 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
TINTON FALLS                 3.5 IN    0847 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
1 SW LONG BRANCH             2.3 IN    0700 AM 12/17   CO-OP OBSERVER       
WALL TWP                     1.8 IN    0529 PM 12/16   BROADCAST MEDIA      
CLIFFWOOD BEACH              1.8 IN    0600 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS           1.2 IN    0548 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
OAKHURST                     0.8 IN    0650 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
...OCEAN COUNTY...
JACKSON                      7.0 IN    0900 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
LAKEWOOD                     5.5 IN    0920 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
MANCHESTER TWP               4.1 IN    0705 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
1 NE TOMS RIVER              3.0 IN    0830 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
JACKSON                      2.4 IN    0429 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
WHITING                      0.7 IN    0715 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
2 SSW MANTOLOKING            0.5 IN    0600 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
FORKED RIVER                  T IN     1234 PM 12/17   TRAINED SPOTTER      
...BURLINGTON COUNTY...
CHESTERFIELD                 6.5 IN    0800 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
1 E WESTAMPTON TWP           6.2 IN    0836 AM 12/17   OFFICIAL NWS OBS     
RIVERTON                     6.0 IN    0630 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
EVESHAM TWP                  6.0 IN    0600 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
WESTAMPTON TWP               5.9 IN    1213 PM 12/17   TRAINED SPOTTER      
BROWNS MILLS                 5.5 IN    0544 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
MOUNT LAUREL                 5.4 IN    1221 AM 12/17   COCORAHS             
CINNAMINSON                  5.4 IN    0804 AM 12/17   TRAINED SPOTTER      
BORDENTOWN                   5.3 IN    1019 AM 12/17   PUBLIC               
MEDFORD                      5.0 IN    0730 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
MOORESTOWN                   5.0 IN    0820 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
1 WNW BURLINGTON             4.9 IN    0600 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
2 E COLUMBUS                 4.8 IN    0600 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
LUMBERTON                    4.7 IN    0718 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
FLORENCE                     4.7 IN    1123 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
1 NE BURLINGTON TWP          4.5 IN    0645 PM 12/16   NWS EMPLOYEE         
BURLINGTON TWP               4.5 IN    0650 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
HAINESPORT                   4.5 IN    0700 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
DELRAN                       4.0 IN    0517 AM 12/17   PUBLIC               
DELANCO                      4.0 IN    0550 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
SOUTHAMPTON TWP              4.0 IN    0627 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
BURLINGTON                   4.0 IN    0500 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
MARLTON                      4.0 IN    0500 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
2 SW MEDFORD                 4.0 IN    0445 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
2 E COLUMBUS                 3.7 IN    0528 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
ROEBLING                     3.5 IN    0530 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
2 E DELRAN                   3.0 IN    0600 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
1 SSE FORT DIX               3.0 IN    0529 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
SHAMONG                      3.0 IN    0444 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
HAINESPORT                   3.0 IN    0435 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
FLORENCE                     2.9 IN    0645 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
WESTAMPTON TWP               2.4 IN    0430 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER   
...MIDDLESEX COUNTY...
PLAINSBORO TOWNSHIP          9.5 IN    1044 AM 12/17   NWS EMPLOYEE         
EAST BRUNSWICK               8.5 IN    1220 PM 12/17   TRAINED SPOTTER      
1 WSW ISELIN                 8.0 IN    1030 AM 12/17   TRAINED SPOTTER      
1 W CARTERET                 8.0 IN    1013 AM 12/17   TRAINED SPOTTER      
SOUTH BRUNSWICK              7.5 IN    0900 AM 12/17   TRAINED SPOTTER      
CARTERET                     7.5 IN    1245 AM 12/17   TRAINED SPOTTER      
1 WSW ROSSMOOR               7.0 IN    1120 AM 12/17   PUBLIC               
PORT READING                 7.0 IN    0955 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
OLD BRIDGE                   6.5 IN    1020 AM 12/17   PUBLIC               
METUCHEN                     6.5 IN    0745 AM 12/17   PUBLIC               
1 NNE MILLTOWN               6.3 IN    0700 AM 12/17   CO-OP OBSERVER       
SOUTH PLAINFIELD             6.0 IN    1223 PM 12/17   AMATEUR RADIO        
WOODBRIDGE                   6.0 IN    0946 AM 12/17   PUBLIC               
EDISON                       6.0 IN    0855 AM 12/17   PUBLIC               
1 NNE PARLIN                 5.0 IN    1015 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
NORTH BRUNSWICK              5.0 IN    0830 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
SOUTH BRUNSWICK              4.0 IN    0720 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER      
METUCHEN                     3.9 IN    0720 PM 12/16   PUBLIC               
AVENEL                       3.5 IN    0920 PM 12/16   AMATEUR RADIO        
HIGHLAND PARK                2.8 IN    0920 PM 12/16   AMATEUR RADIO        
1 NNE NEW BRUNSWICK          1.6 IN    0600 PM 12/16   TRAINED SPOTTER  


Nor’easter Hits Area, Do Not Travel Tonight If Possible

December 16, 2020

A Nor’easter storm is pounding the area with snow, sleet, hail and mixed with rain at times. Numerous accidents and cars off roadways have been reported in the area in the slippery conditions. Police departments are asking residents not to travel if possible due to the conditions.

Robbinsville Township: There will be a delayed opening of Township Offices until 10:30 am. Robbinsville garbage collection that was normally scheduled for Thursday December 17 will now be picked up on Saturday December 19.




NWS Snow totals as of 9:55 pm:

...Mercer County...
 Princeton                    6.4 in    0900 PM 12/16   Public               
 Pennington                   5.5 in    0900 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 1 WSW Ewing                  5.0 in    0744 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 Ewing                        4.2 in    0655 PM 12/16   Public               
 Hamilton Twp                 3.0 in    0600 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 West Windsor Twp.            2.5 in    0630 PM 12/16   Public               
 2 ENE Hamilton Twp           2.0 in    0630 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 1 SW Robbinsville Twp.       2.0 in    0600 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 
 ...Middlesex County...
 Edison                       5.5 in    0740 PM 12/16   Public               
 North Brunswick              5.0 in    0830 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 Old Bridge                   5.0 in    0815 PM 12/16   Public               
 Metuchen                     4.6 in    0840 PM 12/16   Public               
 Parlin                       4.5 in    0800 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 1 SSW Plainsboro Township    4.2 in    0659 PM 12/16   NWS Employee         
 Perth Amboy                  4.0 in    0800 PM 12/16   Public               
 South Brunswick              4.0 in    0720 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 East Brunswick               2.5 in    0600 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 South Plainfield             2.5 in    0600 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 1 NNE New Brunswick          1.6 in    0600 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 Woodbridge                   1.5 in    0600 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 Carteret                     1.3 in    0600 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 
 ...Monmouth County...
 Holmdel                      7.0 in    0900 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 Howell                       6.1 in    0830 PM 12/16   Public               
 1 S Howell                   6.0 in    0605 PM 12/16   Public               
 Manalapan Twp                5.8 in    0838 PM 12/16   Public               
 Rumson                       5.5 in    0830 PM 12/16   Public               
 1 N Eatontown                4.5 in    0910 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 Freehold Twp                 4.5 in    0715 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 Freehold                     4.0 in    0615 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 Middletown                   4.0 in    0824 PM 12/16   Public               
 Tinton Falls                 3.5 in    0847 PM 12/16   Public               
 Leonardo                     2.1 in    0920 PM 12/16   Public               
 Cliffwood Beach              1.8 in    0600 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 Wall Twp                     1.8 in    0529 PM 12/16   Broadcast Media      
 Atlantic Highlands           1.2 in    0548 PM 12/16   Public               
 Oakhurst                     0.8 in    0650 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter     
...Ocean County...
 Jackson                      7.0 in    0900 PM 12/16   Public               
 Manchester Twp               4.1 in    0705 PM 12/16   Public               
 Lakewood                     4.0 in    0610 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 1 NE Toms River              3.0 in    0830 PM 12/16   Public               
 Whiting                      0.7 in    0715 PM 12/16   Public               
 Brick                        0.5 in    0600 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
...Burlington County...
 Chesterfield                 6.5 in    0800 PM 12/16   Public               
 Evesham Twp                  6.0 in    0600 PM 12/16   Public               
 Riverton                     6.0 in    0630 PM 12/16   Public               
 Bordentown Twp               5.7 in    0730 PM 12/16   Public               
 Browns Mills                 5.5 in    0544 PM 12/16   Public               
 Mount Laurel                 5.1 in    0530 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 Medford                      5.0 in    0730 PM 12/16   Public               
 Moorestown                   5.0 in    0820 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 1 WNW Burlington             4.9 in    0600 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 2 E Columbus                 4.8 in    0600 PM 12/16   Public               
 Lumberton                    4.7 in    0718 PM 12/16   Public               
 Burlington Twp               4.5 in    0650 PM 12/16   Public               
 1 NE Burlington Twp          4.5 in    0645 PM 12/16   NWS Employee         
 Hainesport                   4.5 in    0700 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 Bordentown                   4.4 in    0730 PM 12/16   Public               
 1 ENE Westampton Twp         4.1 in    0530 PM 12/16   Official NWS Obs     
 Burlington                   4.0 in    0500 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 Delanco                      4.0 in    0550 PM 12/16   Public               
 Marlton                      4.0 in    0500 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 2 SW Medford                 4.0 in    0445 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 Southampton Twp              4.0 in    0627 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 Roebling                     3.5 in    0530 PM 12/16   Public               
 2 E Delran                   3.0 in    0600 PM 12/16   Public               
 1 SE Fort Dix                3.0 in    0529 PM 12/16   Public               
 Shamong                      3.0 in    0444 PM 12/16   Public               
 Florence                     2.9 in    0645 PM 12/16   Trained Spotter      
 Delran                       2.8 in    0447 PM 12/16   Public               
 Pemberton                    0.5 in    0215 PM 12/16   Public             


Governor Phil Murphy Declares “STATE OF EMERGENCY” Ahead Of Winter Storm

December 16, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy has declared a State of Emergency beginning at 2:00 pm today for the upcoming winter storm. NJ State Offices will close beginning at 1:00 pm. The Governor urges all New Jersyans to stay off the roads, stay at home and stay safe.

The National Weather Service Philadelphia, Mount Holly expects a sharp gradient in our area from less than one inch south to 12-18″ in the north section of our coverage area.

For your weather information it is suggested to use official sources such as the National Weather Service for your information. The graphs below are from the 6:00 am weather briefing the next briefing will be at 6:00 pm.

NWS Forecast Office Philadelphia/Mt Holly









COVID-19 Vaccinations for Health Care Personnel to Begin in Hospitals Across New Jersey

Governor Murphy Marks Historic Beginning of New Jersey’s COVID-19 Vaccination Effort at University Hospital’s Vaccine Clinic at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School

December 15, 2020

NEWARK, NJ –Governor Phil Murphy, joined by Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, University Hospital President and CEO Dr. Shereef Elnahal, and Rutgers New Jersey Medical School Dean Dr. Robert Johnson, today visited University Hospital’s Vaccine Clinic at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School to mark the historic beginning of New Jersey’s vaccination effort and witness the administration of the first COVID-19 vaccinations to the state’s frontline health care workers.

“This is a day that we have been waiting nearly a year for, and while we know this isn’t the end, we are witnessing, at the least, a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel,” said Governor Murphy. “Without question, we are still in for several hard months and we are going to face stiff headwinds from this second wave, but now our heroic frontline health care workers can begin to take care of their fellow New Jerseyans with a higher degree of confidence in their own protection.” 

“Availability of a COVID-19 vaccine within the same year as the epidemic began is a huge scientific achievement, which can help us contain this virus and save lives,” said New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.  “We are thankful for our hospitals—who serve communities around the state—for volunteering to provide equitable and efficient access to vaccines to our valued healthcare workforce.”

“My experience during the COVID-19 pandemic has been that of so many of my healthcare peers, and during the first wave, we faced an unprecedented volume of critically ill patients from all walks of life and adult populations,” said Maritza Beniquez, Resident Nurse, Emergency Department, University Hospital and the first COVID-19 vaccine recipient in New Jersey.  “As a woman of color, I stand in solidarity with my community and know that we are three times more likely to suffer the catastrophic effects of this disease.  Although I am living proof that PPE functions and has kept me safe while at work, I’m honored to be the first person in New Jersey to receive this vaccine, which will limit the possibility of me contracting this disease and unknowingly transmitting it to others.”

The federal government has allocated 76,050 first doses to New Jersey for the first tranche of the Pfizer-BioNTech (ultra-cold chain) vaccine, which began arriving at acute care hospitals Monday morning. New Jersey will roll out COVID-19 vaccines step-by-step to serve all adults who live, work, or are being educated in the state. Phasing will ensure that limited vaccines are distributed in a fair and equitable manner. Phase 1A of the plan, which captures approximately 650,000 people, includes healthcare workers who are paid and unpaid persons serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials. Acute care hospital workers at highest risk of exposure to COVID-19 will be the first to receive the vaccine.

The Department of Health issued guidance to the all acute care hospitals last week to help prepare for vaccine deployment.

Six acute care hospitals across the state— AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, Cooper University Hospital, Hackensack University Medical Center, Morristown Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and University Hospital— are receiving doses this week of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. By the end of the week, vaccines should be available at an additional 47 acute care hospitals that can manage the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which requires ultra-cold chain storage.  While acute care hospitals will be the only points of dispensing during the first week of vaccine availability, the network will expand to additional sites like Federally Qualified Health Centers, local health departments, county sites, urgent care clinics, and pharmacies in December, pending vaccine availability.  

“University Hospital has had a central role in battling the COVID-19 virus both in Newark and throughout the Garden State. With an effective vaccine now available, the hospital will continue its leadership in this pandemic, by first vaccinating our frontline healthcare heroes through Operation Warp Speed,” said Shereef Elnahal, MD, MBA, President and CEO of University Hospital. “We know that our health care workers’ adoption of this vaccine will be key to convince community members to vaccinate later. Our health care heroes have been, and continue to be, trusted voices for health care in our community, and we hope that they will carry the message that these vaccines are safe and effective. Widespread vaccination is the most effective step to helping life return to a new normal, and we applaud those members of our workforce for being the first to roll up their sleeves.”

“Throughout the pandemic, our team has continued to focus on keeping our patients, staff and community safe,” said Lori Herndon, RN, BSN, MBA, president and CEO, AtlantiCare. “Getting vaccinated is an important step in ending the far-reaching impacts of COVID-19 we’ve experienced. As leaders within our healthcare community, our team is proud to begin administering and receiving the vaccine. I am grateful for their unwavering dedication and commitment, for the collaboration with our colleagues and partners across the state, and for all those who entrust us with their care.”

“For the last 10 months, our team at Atlantic Health System has joined patients, caregivers and communities across the globe in rallying to overcome this virus.  Now that we find ourselves on the verge of delivering a safe and effective vaccine, we see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Brian Gragnolati, President & CEO, Atlantic Health System. “Yet, until there is a large enough supply of vaccine to protect everyone, we must continue to follow the guidance we know works: frequent hand washing, masking and responsible social distancing.”

“Despite the challenge of fighting an historic deadly pandemic, we should all take a moment to be grateful that we are living at a time when we can avail ourselves of tremendous health care from remarkable medical professionals and a breakthrough vaccine from dedicated researchers to potentially put an end to COVID-19 in record time,” said Kevin O’Dowd, Co-CEO of Cooper University Health Care.

“We celebrate this astonishing achievement of developing a safe and effective vaccine in record time,” said Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. “We are excited to be part of history as we start the process of vaccinating the people of New Jersey. It’s imperative that we remain vigilant in our fight against this global enemy and on behalf of families, our communities and our healthcare heroes.”

“Throughout the pandemic, New Jersey’s health care providers together continue to help patients fight for their lives. At RWJBarnabas Health, our frontline workers have selflessly and tirelessly been caring for the communities we serve,” said Barry H. Ostrowsky, President and Chief Executive Officer of RWJBarnabas Health. “We’re profoundly grateful to be able to offer our healthcare heroes this vaccine, which will keep them safe and protect their families and their patients.”

Phase 1A will also include long-term care residents, who are adults who live in facilities that provide a range of services, including medical and personal care, to persons who are unable to live independently. Long-term care facilities will be served on-site through a pharmacy partnership supported by the CDC.

In advance of administration of the first doses in New Jersey, the New Jersey Department of Health’s COVID-19 Professional Advisory Committee (PAC) reviewed the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s usage guidance for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. The PAC includes New Jersey-specific experts representing both geographic and professional diversity. The current membership includes state officials, epidemiology and immunization experts, public health professionals, health systems and health practitioners, local health champions, infectious and chronic disease providers, ethics and legal experts, equity and inclusion leaders, academics, and health quality advisors.








Additional Press Pool Coverage:

Press Pool Story by: Ashley Balcerzak, Staff Writer, The Record

Maritza Beniquez, a resident nurse at the University Hospital emergency department, answered a series of questions from ambulatory care tech Sady Ferguson as pharmacists readied the coronavirus vaccine: Does she have allergies? Did she have a fever in the last 48 hours? Is she pregnant or planning on getting pregnant? 

Did she have recent exposure to COVID-19? 

“Every day in the emergency room,” Beniquez answered. 

Beniquezsmiled as Ferguson injected the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into her right arm at 8:10 a.m. on Tuesday, making her the first New Jerseyan to receive the coronavirus vaccine outside of clinical trials. 

Beniquez received her first dose of the two-dose vaccine on her 56th birthday at University Hospital’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark. 

“This is the best birthday present ever!” Beniquez said, as people clapped and cheered. “I can see that light at the end of the tunnel. This is it. It’s a great way to celebrate my birthday.”

Beniquez remained in her blue leather chair for fifteen minutes, until hospital staff told her she was free to go. She said she examined her arm after because she didn’t feel the shot.

Gov. Phil Murphy, First Lady Tammy Murphy, University Hospital President and CEO Shereef Elnahal, State health Commissioner Judy Persichilli and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. walked around the clinic — which has the capacity to vaccinate 600 people a day — for about a half hour and watched the first five New Jersey healthcare workers be vaccinated. Sun streamed in from the glass windows, illuminating the row of blue chairs divided by mint medical screens. A small medical refrigerator stocked with thawed vaccines stood next to three computer screens at the end of the room.

Four other healthcare workers received vaccinations during Murphy’s visit: Robert Johnson, dean of the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Justin Sambol, senior associate dean for clinical affairs at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Yvelisse Covington, medical office assistant in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic at University Hospital; and Charles Farmer, an emergency room doctor at New Jersey Medical School. 

On Tuesday, about 80 healthcare workers total will be inoculated at the University Hospital clinic. The clinic will be open from 8:30 to 7:00 p.m. each day, depending on supplies, according to Andre Emont, director of pharmaceutical services at University Hospital. The hospital received just under 3,000 doses in its first shipment.


Murphy USA To Acquire QuickChek Corporation for $645 Million

December 14, 2020

EL DORADO, Ark. and WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J., Dec. 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Murphy USA announced an agreement to acquire QuickChek Corporation (“QuickChek”) in an all-cash transaction for $645 million. The purchase price includes expected tax benefits valued at $20 million for a net after-tax purchase price of $625 million. The transaction will be financed with a combination of cash on hand, existing credit facilities and new debt, and Murphy USA has obtained committed financing from the Royal Bank of Canada.

QuickChek represents a truly distinctive business in a class shared by only a few comparable industry peers. Founded in 1967 as an extension of Durling Farms, a door-to-door milk and fresh dairy products delivery service that originally opened in 1888, it is a family-owned chain of 157 stores located in central and northern New Jersey and the New York metro area. It operates a best-in-class food and beverage (“F&B”) model with a strong regional brand and engaged customer following, offering quick-serve restaurant style food alongside convenience items; a high-volume fuel offer is included at 89 of its newest stores. Its industry leading economics are evidenced by robust per-store per-year merchandise sales of $3.5 million, combined merchandise margins of 38% with F&B representing over 50% of the mix, and per-store per-year fuel gallons of 3.8 million. Additionally, QuickChek has a proven history of same-store-sales growth and a rich real estate pipeline to sustain unit growth within its existing footprint.

The acquisition is consistent with Murphy USA’s updated capital allocation strategy as announced in October. It represents a continued commitment to deliver exceptional and sustained value to long-term shareholders and will complement other ongoing value creation mechanisms, including ongoing productivity improvement initiatives, organic growth, share repurchase and a dividend.

“In October we outlined an updated capital allocation strategy and committed to improving our food and beverage offer at existing and future sites,” said Murphy USA President and CEO Andrew Clyde. “This transaction greatly accelerates those efforts and benefits, and is expected to provide reverse synergies across our network, while enhancing future returns on new stores. The transaction is also expected to create direct synergies that leverage our enterprise scale and our distinctive capabilities in fuel, tobacco and loyalty. We are excited to join forces with an exceptional and highly engaged team at QuickChek who share Murphy USA’s passion for delivering excellence every day to all our stakeholders.”

“QuickChek and Murphy USA both reflect a family heritage and a strong people culture,” said QuickChek CEO and Chairman Dean Durling. “I am thrilled by Murphy USA’s commitment to honor our legacy and preserve our brand while learning from our business model. I am proud of what we have accomplished in making QuickChek what it is today and I am excited about the opportunities for continued growth and success in the next chapter in QuickChek’s journey. I know QuickChek’s dedicated employees and valued customers remain in good hands.”

The above considerations result in highly attractive deal economics. The net investment of $625 million represents a multiple of 13.2 times QuickChek’s estimated LTM October 2020 Adjusted EBITDA of $47 million. Annual run rate synergies of $28 million are expected to be achieved by the third year. When taking into account expected run-rate synergies and tax benefits, the acquisition reflects a multiple of 8.3 times estimated LTM Adjusted EBITDA. The acquisition is projected to be accretive to earnings in 2022, the first full year of combined operations.

The transaction is expected to close during the first quarter of 2021, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approval. RBC Capital Markets, LLC acted as exclusive financial advisor and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP acted as legal advisor to Murphy USA. BofA Securities, Inc. acted as exclusive financial advisor and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP acted as legal advisor to QuickChek.

Webcast Information
Murphy USA will host a conference call to discuss the transaction at 8:00 a.m. CT on Monday, December 14, 2020. Interested parties may participate by dialing 1-833-968-2218 and referencing conference ID number 8192285. The call can also be accessed via webcast through the Investor Relations section of Murphy USA’s website at http://ir.corporate.murphyusa.com. The webcast will be available for replay one hour after the conference concludes and a transcript will be made available shortly thereafter.

About Murphy USA
Murphy USA (NYSE:MUSA) is a leading retailer of gasoline and convenience merchandise with nearly 1,500 sites located primarily in the Southwest, Southeast and Midwest United States. The company and its team of nearly 10,000 employees serve an estimated 1.7 million customers each day through its network of retail gasoline stations in 25 states. The majority of Murphy USA’s sites are located in close proximity to Walmart stores. The company also markets gasoline and other products at standalone stores under the Murphy Express brand. Murphy USA ranks 262 among Fortune 500 companies.

About QuickChek
Continuing to redefine “fresh convenience,” QuickChek is a market leader in food service providing local one-stop shopping where consumers can enjoy delicious made-to-order subs and sandwiches, guaranteed fresh brewed coffee, healthy snacks and salads, hot breakfast and more. Looking to make a difference in people’s everyday lives, QuickChek enables consumers to choose their convenience: you can place a mobile order through the QuickChek Rewards app where you’ll earn rewards for future savings; have your order ready through Curbside Pickup; utilize in-store self-checkout counters to get you on your way safe and fast; or have your order delivered through DoorDash and Grub Hub. Based in Whitehouse Station, NJ, the family-owned company operates 157 fresh convenience market stores including 89 locations with fuel throughout New Jersey, New York’s Hudson Valley and Long Island.

Certain statements in this news release contain or may suggest “forward-looking” information (as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995) that involve risk and uncertainties, including, but not limited to anticipated store openings, fuel margins, merchandise margins, sales of RINs and trends in our operations. Such statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of the company’s management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. Actual future results may differ materially from historical results or current expectations depending upon factors including, but not limited to: our ability to consummate our acquisition of QuickChek on the stated terms or at all; our ability to realize projected synergies from the acquisition of QuickChek and successfully expand our food and beverage offerings; our ability to finance the acquisition of QuickChek on acceptable terms; our ability to continue to maintain a good business relationship with Walmart; successful execution of our growth strategy, including our ability to realize the anticipated benefits from such growth initiatives, and the timely completion of construction associated with our newly planned stores which may be impacted by the financial health of third parties; our ability to effectively manage our inventory, disruptions in our supply chain and our ability to control costs; the impact of severe weather events, such as hurricanes, floods and earthquakes; the impact of a global health pandemic, such as COVID-19 including the impact on our fuel volumes if the gradual recoveries experienced in Q2 2020 stall or reverse as a result of any resurgence in COVID-19 infection rates and government reaction in response thereof; the impact of any systems failures, cybersecurity and/or security breaches, including any security breach that results in theft, transfer or unauthorized disclosure of customer, employee or company information or our compliance with information security and privacy laws and regulations in the event of such an incident; successful execution of our information technology strategy; future tobacco or e-cigarette legislation and any other efforts that make purchasing tobacco products more costly or difficult could hurt our revenues and impact gross margins; changes to the company’s capital allocation, including the timing, declaration, amount and payment of any future dividends or levels of the company’s share repurchases, or management of operating cash; the market price of the Company’s stock prevailing from time to time, the nature of other investment opportunities presented to the Company from time to time, the Company’s cash flows from operations, and general economic conditions; compliance with debt covenants; availability and cost of credit; and changes in interest rates. Our SEC reports, including our most recent annual Report on Form 10-K and quarterly report on Form 10-Q, contain other information on these and other factors that could affect our financial results and cause actual results to differ materially from any forward-looking information we may provide. The company undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events, new information or future circumstances.

Supplemental Disclosure Regarding Non-GAAP Financial Information

The reconciliation of estimated LTM October 2020 Adjusted EBITDA to estimated GAAP net income for QuickChek is as follows:

(Millions of dollars)LTM Oct 2020
Estimated net income$8
  
Income tax expense$3
Interest expense$5
Depreciation and amortization$29
Other$2
  
Estimated Adjusted EBITDA$47

Consistent with Murphy USA’s historical presentation of non-GAAP metrics, Adjusted EBITDA for QuickChek is provided as it is a key metric used in the Company’s operational and financial decision-making. The Company believes that some investors may find it a useful indicator of ongoing operating performance and ability to generate cash flows from operations. Non-GAAP measures are not a substitute for GAAP disclosures and Adjusted EBITDA may be prepared differently by us than by other companies using similarly titled non-GAAP metrics. The above amounts are estimated based on preliminary data for QuickChek’s fiscal year ended October 30, 2020 and are subject to change based on the finalization of the financial statements for such fiscal year.