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Central Jersey News from the Times of Trenton

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    Which is the matchup you should be sure to be in your seats for? Check out our list.


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    A Lawrence man was charged in the death of a patron inside the Applebee's restaurant in Lawrence last November.

    The man accused of killing a patron inside the Applebee's restaurant in Lawrence last Nov. has been indicted on first-degree murder and second-degree weapons charges, the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office announced. 

     Noel Powell III, 27, of Lawrence allegedly walked into the restaurant and walked up to the bar where 23-year-old Devin Smith was sitting, and shot him in the head just before 12:30 a.m. on Nov. 14. Then, he fled the scene.

    decades-old dispute involving Powell and Smith, and their families, led to the execution, according to two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the case.

    At his detention hearing last year, Powell's attorney Robin Kay Lord argued it was impossible to tell if the clothing worn by the man seen on Applebee's security footage is an exact match to what her client was wearing a day before at Lawrence municipal court. 

    Assistant Prosecutor Michael Nardelli presented the case to a grand jury, which decided to indict Powell on the charges.

    Powell has no previous criminal record and is currently being held at the Mercer County Corrections Center pending trial.

    Olivia Rizzo may be reached at orizzo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @LivRizz. Find NJ.com on Facebook


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    More and more players are reaching milestones, while county tourneys take center stage


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    Who is the top second-year player in the state? Cast your vote today.

    Boulden, Giana - Murphy.png 

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    Knowing why people hate and why they use such hateful words and the harm they cause can help change attitudes.

    The six-letter N-word packs an enormous amount of racial dynamite and no one probably knows that better than Lawrence Rosen, an anthropology professor emeritus at Princeton University.

    For several years, Rosen has been teaching a course titled "Cultural Freedoms: Hate Speech, Blasphemy, and Pornography." As the title implies, it covers a lot of negative stereotypes and Rosen uses the N-word to stimulate discourse on free speech.

    However, during a Feb. 6 class, several students took exception to Rosen using the N-word and demanded that he apologize, according to Princeton's University Press Club.

    It even prompted an argument between Rosen and at least one of the students, the Daily Princetonian reported.

    Two students then filed a complaint against the professor.

    The end result was that Rosen decided to cancel the course.

    Princeton U. renames buildings to honor black Nobel laureates

    Carolyn Rouse, chair of the university's anthropology department, said Rosen decided that the uproar made it impossible for him to continue teaching the course.

    In a letter to the Daily Princetonian, Rouse, who is black, defended Rosen, who is white, saying her colleague's use of the racial slur was meant to illustrate the impact the word has.

    The complaint seems to have centered on a question Rosen put to his students: "Which is more provocative: A white man walks up to a black man and punches him in the nose, or a white man walks up to a black man and calls him a n-----?"

    "Rosen has used the same example year after year," Rouse wrote. "This is the first year he got the response he did from the students."

    This is certainly indicative of how strained racial tensions have become.

    As Rouse pointed out in her letter: "This is diagnostic of the level of overt anti-black racism in the country today. Anti-American and anti-Semitic examples did not upset the students, but an example of racism did. This did not happen when (Barack) Obama was president, when the example seemed less real and seemed to have less power."

    Rouse said she felt bad for the students who took offense to Rosen's use of the N-word.

    There is no doubt that the word is extremely demeaning and it is understandable that someone might take offense to hearing the word spoken, even in an academic context.

    But it is apparent that Rosen was using the word to stimulate discussion on hate speech. It's a delicate subject, but one that deserves to be addressed and understood, particularly in a university setting.

    Knowing why people hate and why they use such hateful words and the harm they cause can help change attitudes.

    Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook.

     

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    It took years for the Trenton Battle Monument to progress from concept to reality - more than 100 of them, as it turned out.

    The Trenton Battle Monument is a project in search of a sponsor.

    The soaring memorial to the battle widely credited with helping turn the tide in the American Revolution is closed to visitors, and has been for too long.

    For one thing, the existing elevator, the only way to reach the top of the 148-foot granite column, is more than a century old - and neither safe nor operational.

    For another, the monument's cave-like interior is musty and littered with debris, while the foyer lacks the kind of jazzy exhibits that would draw tourists and locals.

    Oh, and there's the restroom issue. As in, there is no restroom.

    Century-old elevator keeps monument closed for years

    What a sad reality for a structure commemorating Trenton's outsized role in America's foundation story.

    In 1776, George Washington's troops placed artillery on that very spot, positioning the big guns to rain down on the well-equipped Hessian soldiers hiding out in nearby homes.

    In a surprise victory, the Continental Army held off the German troops the English had hired to fight the rebels, marking the first time Washington's forces were able to defeat a regular army in the field.

    It took years for the monument to progress from concept to reality - more than 100 of them, as it turned out. And even then, when the structure finally was ready for visitors in 1893, its builders didn't have the cash to pay for an elevator.

    That amenity came three years later: a state-of-the-art Otis elevator, the same one that now stands empty since the state's Department of Environmental Protection closed it down about four years ago.

    More than a dozen firms contacted by the DEP's Division of Parks and Forestry since then have said the renovation's cost would be sky high - appropriate terminology when you're talking about an elevator, prohibitive when you're talking about a city whose annual budget is already strained to the max.

    That's where a sponsor, or several, would come in handy.

    How wonderful would it be to see a public-private partnership, heavy on the private sector, step in to help bring Trenton history back to life. Maybe a civic group or two could get behind a massive fund-raising effort, helped along by robust individual and business donations.

    Sort of like a PTA bake sale, but on a more, er, monumental scale.

    The effort has a friend in Scott Miller, a local resident who oversees a Facebook group he calls Friends of the Trenton Battle Monument and who has waged a heroic battle to keep the issue in the public eye.

    But it's been a lonely fight, and the scope of the undertaking cries out for allies. Any takers out there?

    Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook.


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    Everything you need for a full day of districts.

    DISTRICT TOURNAMENT ESSENTIALS
    Seeds for all 32 districts | Schedule
     The top matchups from all 32 districts
    The 10 toughest districts in N.J.
    Individual rankings | P4P rankings
    • Final team ranks:  Top 20 | group and conference

    FEATURED DISTRICTS
    District 1 at Pascack Valley
     
    • Live Updates
    • Recap
    • Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 5 at Bergen Catholic 
    Live Updates |   Live video 
    • Recap
    • Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 7 at West Essex
       Live video  

    District 9 at Phillipsburg
    • Recap
    •  photo gallery
    • Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 11 at Morristown
    Live updates
    • Recap
    • Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 12 at Livingston 
    Live updates
    • Recap
    •  photo gallery
    • Finals | 3rd place | Semis


    RELATED: Seeds for all 32 districts


    District 13 at Scotch Plains 
    Live updates | Brackets
     Recap
    •  photo gallery
    • Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 17 at Middletown South 
    Live updates
    • Recap
    •  photo gallery
    • Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 18 at Red Bank Regional 
    Live updates
    • Recap
    •  photo gallery
    • Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 22 at Howell
    Live updates
    • Recap
    •  photo gallery
    • Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 26 at Rowan College-Gloucester
    Live updates
    • Recap

    District 27 at Lacey
    • Recap
    •  photo gallery
    • Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 28 at Collingswood
    Live updates
    • Recap
    • Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 29 at Kingsway
    Live updates
    • Recap
    •  photo gallery
    • Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 30 at Clearview 
    Live updates
    • Recap
    •  photo gallery
    • Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 31 at Absegami
    Live updates
    • Recap
    •  photo gallery
    • Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 32 at Williamstown
    Live updates
    • Recap
    •  photo gallery
    • Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    COMPLETE RESULTS BY DISTRICT
    District 1 photo gallery
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 2
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 3
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 4
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 5
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 6
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 7
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 8
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 9 |  Photo gallery
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 10 
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 11
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 12 |  Photo gallery
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 13 Photo gallery
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 14
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 15
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 16
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 17 Photo gallery
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 18  Photo gallery
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 19
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 20
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 21
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 22 |  Photo gallery
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 23
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 24
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 25
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 26
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 27 |  Photo gallery
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 28
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 29 |  Photo gallery
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 30 |  Photo gallery
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 31 |  Photo gallery
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis

    District 32 |  Photo gallery
    • Recap | Finals | 3rd place | Semis


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    Manchester United knocked off Huddersfield Town 2-0, behind a Romelu Lukaku brace. The Red Devils advanced to the quarterfinals

    CUPS TAKE CENTER STAGE, AS PREMIER LEAGUE TAKES A BREAK

    The F.A. Cup returned this weekend in England, and the big winners were the big clubs that are still in the competition.

    Manchester United knocked off Huddersfield Town 2-0, behind a Romelu Lukaku brace. The Red Devils advanced to the quarterfinals, where they will host Brighton & Hove Albion (3-1 winners over Coventry) the weekend of March 17.

    Chelsea dispatched Hull City 4-0, and the Blues will travel to face Leicester City (1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday) in the quarterfinals.

    The other two quarterfinals have yet to be decided. The winner of the Swansea City vs. Sheffield United replay (2:45 p.m. EST Tuesday, February 27, FS2 and Fubo.tv), which was 0-0 Saturday, will host the winner of Rochdale vs.Tottenham replay (3:05 p.m. Wednesday, February 28, FS2 and Fubo.tv).

    Southampton beat West Bromwich Albion 2-1, and will travel to face the winner of Monday's final round of 16 match. Wigan hosts Manchester City (2:55 p.m. Monday FS1 and Fubo.tv) in a replay of the dramatic 2013 final, won by Wigan 1-0 on a Ben Watson header in the final minute.

    If Manchester City and Tottenham can win their quarterfinals, it sets up well to have four of the top five teams in the league heading to Wembley for the semifinals, which would be played on the weekend of April 21-22.

    Swansea City continues Premier League great escape with 1-0 win Saturday

    PSG PROJECT ON VERGE OF COLLAPSE? REAL MADRID BACK FROM DEAD?

    With the match poised evenly entering the final 10 minutes last Tuesday, Real Madrid, and Cristiano Ronaldo, once again proved why it is one of the best teams in the history of the UEFA Champions League.

    Tied at 1-1, Ronaldo (83') and Marcelo (86') scored goals, to give the two-time defending champions a 3-1 lead over Paris Saint-Germain after the first leg of their round of 16 tie. Ronaldo scored twice, to lift his tally to 11 in the 2017-18 competition, after a 12-goal campaign last season helped Real Madrid win its third title in four years.

    For PSG, the return leg on Tuesday, March 6 (2:45 p.m. EST FS1 and Fubo.tv) becomes the biggest game in club history. After falling in the quarterfinals the last two seasons, this was supposed to be the campaign where Les Parisians challenged for a title. If PSG goes out in the round of 16, that could spell the end of the road for Unai Emery as head coach, and possibly the last of Neymar in a PSG kit in Europe (ironically with Real Madrid linked).

    Can PSG turn it around at home? A 2-0 win will be enough to advance, or any three-goal win: a 3-1 win for Les Parisians would send the tie to extra time.

    MORE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE, PLUS CARABAO CUP FINAL, THIS WEEK

    Tuesday, Chelsea hosts Barcelona (FS1 and Fubo.tv) and Besiktas visits Bayern Munich (FS2 and Fubo.tv). Wednesday, Manchester United travels to face Sevilla (FS1 and Fubo.tv), while Shakhtar Donetsk hosts Roma (FS2 and Fubo.tv), with all games at 2:45 p.m. All are first legs, with the second place teams at home.

    Sunday, the first domestic cup of 2018 is up for grabs, as Manchester City and Arsenal will play for the Carabao Cup at Wembley (11:30 a.m., ESPN). Can Arsene Wenger win a fourth trophy in five years, or will Pep Guardiola hoist his first with the Cityzens?

    Contact Sean Miller at seanmillertrentontimes@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean His weekly podcast, Box to Box Football, can be found on iTunes here https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/box-to-box-football/id1208561351?mt=2


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    Nearly 9 million dogs and 4.5 million cats in the U.S. have health insurance.

    Some pet stats for the day:

     A 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association found that 68% of U.S. households, or about 85 million families. This is up from 56% of U.S. households in 1988, the first year the survey was conducted.

    The kinds of pets owned? Dogs account for just over 60%, with cats at 47% (bear in mind, the total can exceed 100% because some households, like mine, have cats AND dogs, as well as other possible pets). Fish, freshwater and saltwater, account for 15%, birds 8%, and small animals like hamsters and gerbils 7%.

    The survey also found that 10% of dog owners and 5% of cat owners have health insurance for their pets. Based on the total number of dogs and cat in the US that equates to nearly 9 million dogs and over 4.5 million cats with insurance.

    And some completely random pet facts:

    Three dogs (from first-class cabins) survived the sinking of the Titanic - two Pomeranians and one Pekingese.

    Dogs and humans have the same type of slow wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM) and during this REM stage dogs can dream. The twitching and paw movements that occur during their sleep are signs that your pet is dreaming

    Cats make more than 100 different sounds whereas dogs make around 10.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at ghatala@starledger.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.


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    Property tax prepayments for bills due in 2018 in some towns jumped more than 1,000 percent compared to prepayments for 2017, ahead of limits on deductions from federal income taxes in 2018, a boon for towns collecting interest on the money


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    A Gloucester County police department is training officers to use de-escalation tactics to defuse potentially violent encounters.


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    NJ.com's latest boys basketball rankings


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    The contemporary classical ensemble comes to Princeton Sound Kitchen Feb 20-26

    Chicago-based contemporary classical ensemble Eighth Blackbird will begin a week-long residency at Princeton Sound Kitchen Feb. 20, a stay highlighted by three performances of faculty composer Dan Trueman's "Olagon: A Cantata in Doublespeak" and culminating with a show featuring compositions by Princeton University students. The four-time Grammy Award- winning sextet will also collaborate with student composers.

    "We're trying to build something. Instead of just coming through and performing, (Eighth Blackbird) is going to spend time with students and help them make their works better," said Trueman, who collaborated on "Olagon" with Lewis Center for the Arts creative writing professor Paul Muldoon, Pulitzer prize-winning poet. "Eighth Blackbird is a legendary ensemble and it is an honor to have them here."

    The residency kicks off Feb. 20 with a free solo concert by Eighth Blackbird cellist Nick Photinos Fine Hall's Taplin Auditorium. He will perform contemporary works, including compositions by Princeton Graduate students. 

    The performances of "Olagon: A Cantata in Doublespeak" featuring Eighth Blackbird joined by Trueman and Princeton University Global Scholar singer Iarla O Lionaird will take place at the Lewis Center for the Arts' Wallace Theater Feb. 2223 and 24.  Tickets are $15 for members of the general public.

    On Feb. 26, Eighth Blackbird will perform new works by seven of the university's graduate composers at Fine Hall's Taplin Auditorium. The concert is free and does not require tickets.

    In addition to the musical performances, the week's programming includes a free reading by Muldoon on the afternoon of Feb. 23 at the Wallace Theater.

    Trueman, a music professor and director of Princeton Sound Kitchen, said he and O Lionaird first spoke in 2011 about collaborating on an updated musical retelling of the ancient Irish epic "The Tain," a tale of two friends who are tricked into fighting to the death by a manipulative queen. When one man triumphs, he screams and his powerful anguished cry is called "olagon."

    Trueman and O Lionaird, who is lead singer for Irish supergroup The Gloaming, asked Muldoon if he'd join the project. The lauded poet began crafting text in English and Irish Gaelic before the score was even written. Trueman said Muldoon's lyrical language helped guide his composing.

    The piece owes a lot to classical music but it's not something someone would say here's a great song cycle in the classical tradition," he said. "Muldoon's great musical love is 70s rock and while 'Olagon' does not sound like 70s rock, it is not intended to be sung in a classical way."

    Countless hours later, Trueman had a 200+page score and 85 minutes of multi-layered music. That included individual parts for Trueman and his Norwegian fiddle, traditional Celtic singer O Lionaird and Eighth Blackbird's six musicians and the variety of instruments they play, including flute, cello, drums, violin, harmonium, clarinet, gongs and viola.

    While the text is not a straight narrative and the use of Irish may confuse some, Trueman said the emotion of the music carries the listener along.

    "You get a sense for the main characters and the powerful trips and relationships and extreme emotions -  love, anger, regret, humor -- these people are experiencing and feeling," he said. "The sense of loss and sense of conflict will come across without understanding any of the words."

    Eighth Blackbird, Trueman and O Lionaird released "Olagon: a Cantata in Doublespeak" on Cedille Records late last year. Wisconsin Public Radio said the score combined "elements of the traditional music of Ireland, Norway, and America with the raw urgency and sonorities of contemporary classical music." "Boston Globe" critic Zoe Madonna put the album on its list of 2017's best classical albums.

    Trueman is thrilled a modern definition of classical is gaining ground.

    "Right now, there are so many composers working and some of what they're doing is related to what people generally think of as classical, like Bach and Mozart, some of them are doing what some people may consider popular music and folk music," Trueman said. "This piece for me reflects a whole lot of different kinds of music, including classical and folk. It feels to me very much what's in the air right now."

    EIGHTH BLACKBIRD, DAN TRUEMAN AND IARLA O LIONAIRD perform "Olagon: A Cantata in Doublespeak"

    Princeton Sound Kitchen

    Fine Hall, Princeton University

    Tickets: $5-15, available online at http://music.princeton.edu/  Feb. 22, 23 and 24.

    Natalie Pompilio is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. She can be reached at nataliepompilio@yahoo.com. Find her on Twitter @nataliepompilio. Find NJ.com/Entertainment on Facebook.  


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    2018 NJSIAA region wrestling tournament brackets are below. Each weight class within each region is a separate bracket. Each bracket is printable. Click through the brackets below for each weight c...

    2018 NJSIAA region wrestling tournament brackets are below. Each weight class within each region is a separate bracket.

    Each bracket is printable. Click through the brackets below for each weight class.

    NOTE: Brackets will be added all day on Monday, please check back for the latest.
    We will be updating the brackets throughout the tournament, so check back as the results flow in on Wednesday and Friday nights -- and all day on Saturday.

    Region 1 brackets
    106 | 113 | 120 | 126 | 132 | 138 | 145
    152 | 160 | 170 | 182 | 195 | 220 | 285

    Region 2 brackets
    106 | 113 | 120 | 126 | 132 | 138 | 145
    152 | 160 | 170 | 182 | 195 | 220 | 285

    Region 3 brackets
    106 | 113 | 120 | 126 | 132 | 138 | 145
    152 | 160 | 170 | 182 | 195 | 220 | 285

    Region 4 brackets
    106 | 113 | 120 | 126 | 132 | 138 | 145
    152 | 160 | 170 | 182 | 195 | 220 | 285

    Region 5 brackets
    106 | 113 | 120 | 126 | 132 | 138 | 145
    152 | 160 | 170 | 182 | 195 | 220 | 285

    Region 6 brackets
    106 | 113 | 120 | 126 | 132 | 138 | 145
    152 | 160 | 170 | 182 | 195 | 220 | 285

    Region 7 brackets
    106 | 113 | 120 | 126 | 132 | 138 | 145
    152 | 160 | 170 | 182 | 195 | 220 | 285

    Region 8 brackets
    106 | 113 | 120 | 126 | 132 | 138 | 145
    152 | 160 | 170 | 182 | 195 | 220 | 285


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    Trenton officials have partnered with the federal Department of Agriculture to find the most humane way to deal with an infestation of crows, which has been an issue plaguing business owners, pedestrians and home owners for the past couple of years.

    You watch them fly across the night sky, soaring over the building that houses the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, among other city venues.

    You see their unmistakable signatures on bus shelters on the streets of downtown Trenton, as well as on countless other poop-laden facades and sidewalks.

    And you hear them - boy, do you hear them.

    "You can't sleep at all when they wake up in the morning - they're singing to you," Trenton resident Scott Miller says of the 30,000 crows that have made the state's capital their home these past few wintry months.

    "Then you go outside and it's like what in the world am I stepping on?"

    But one recent Tuesday, at exactly 5:15 p.m., a team of federal officials was ready.

    Equipped with gloves, goggles, ear plugs and neon vests, warriors from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Wildlife Services unit, prepared to do battle.

    Their "weapons" were pyrotechnics deployed from a device similar to a flare gun, which emitted sparks and whizzing noises designed to send the crows flying.

    And fly they did, presumably scared away by the ear-splitting sounds, enhanced by recordings of crow distress calls and eagle calls.

    Just over an hour later, the parking lot at the Labor Department building was bird-free, and the Wildlife Services team was getting ready for the next encounter.

    Trenton starts to rid city of 30K screaming crows

    Trenton officials have partnered with the federal Department of Agriculture to find the most humane way to deal with the infestation, which has been an issue plaguing business owners, pedestrians and home owners for the past couple of years.

    The colder months in particular prompt the birds to form the kind of large, communal roosts we're seeing in Trenton.

    Police here confirmed that the birds, which seek out areas with less light and few people - such as parking lots - have caused untold property damage, pecking away at stationary objects while leaving droppings that can destroy paint surfaces.

    The Wildlife Services' efforts will be ongoing. Plans called for staff member to be stationed in the city throughout this month, with follow-up visits if necessary into March.

    "A lot of our projects deal with human and wildlife interference, so this certainly falls into that category," says biologist Nicole Rein, noting that the goal is to break the birds into smaller groups to render them less powerful.

    "The main thing is, we don't want them to spend the night."

    We're glad the city chose a non-violent way to deal with a problem so vexing it caused 15-year resident Miller to launch a Facebook page last year he called Anticrow. And we hope the effort succeeds.

    Thirty Thousand Screaming Crows might make a great name for a heavy-metal rock band, but you really don't want them listing Trenton as their permanent address.

    Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook.


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    The crash occurred about 8:30 p.m. on Route 70 in the Browns Mills section of the township, according to police.

    UPDATE: Ocean County man, 87, killed in 2-vehicle crash 


    One person was killed Monday night in a two-vehicle crash in Pemberton Township, authorities said.

    The accident occurred about 8:30 p.m. on Route 70 in the Browns Mills section of the township, according to police.

    Route 70 was closed late Monday at Pasadena Road to the Ocean County line as officers continued to investigate, police said.

    Closures were also reported on Route 539, police said.

    Anthony G. Attrino may be reached at tattrino@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TonyAttrino. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    Firefighters shaved minutes off their response by 'jumping' the call and texting their colleagues

    22 minutes.

    That's how long fire officials now say two women were underwater after their car crashed into a frigid Gropp's Lake in Hamilton earlier this month.

    And from the moment the car slipped below the surface - with Bernadette Joseph, 40, slumped behind the wheel and Annelisa Forestin, 18, in the passenger seat - a somewhat rare series of happenstance, training and texting kicked into place that saved their lives, rescuers say.

    Joseph and Forestin remain at Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton, officials said Monday. Their exact conditions are unknown due to medical confidentiality regulations.

    But the two victims, who live in Hamilton, received a better shot at survival due the men and women who entered the water or were lakeside Feb. 3.

    The rescuers, about two dozen, gathered at a Hamilton firehouse Monday to discuss the rescue, and as they spoke, recalling the key moments and second-by-second details of who did what and when, most agreed it's the most successful cold water rescue in the area in recent memory.

    When life is on the line, the sayings go, minutes count.

    "And we were able to shave six or seven minutes off this (response)," Hamilton Fire Chief John Retalis said. "We got a head start."

    This is how it happened.

    The call came in a little after 9 a.m., but Hamilton firefighters were already listening to the Hamilton police channel, which they often do to get a jump on serious incidents.

    They call it, "jumping the call."

    Seconds after the crash, a nearby Hamilton police officer witnessed the car drifting in the water and then go under, and witnesses confirmed it careened off nearby South Broad Street while occupied.

    That radio chatter led Hamilton engines 16 and 13 to respond right away with their rescue boats, they said. They knew they were going to be dispatched, so they started rolling.

    The officer had "eyes" on the car's location, a plus, and it became what first responders call a "witnessed" event. And it was daylight.

    The car was about 50 to 60 feet off shore.

    IH7A2889.JPGThe fire divers and medics who were on scene during the Feb. 3, 2018 rescue. (Kevin Shea | NJ Advance Media) 

    Engine 16 Capt. Joe Troyano and his crew arrived and learned of the car's exact location and started to launch their boat. While they unloaded the boat, Firefighter Arcadio Rivera put on a dry suit - no breathing apparatus - and swam out to the car's location, in case anyone had gotten out.

    He could not reach it under the water, but could tell it was under him from the air bubbles.

    Troyano arrived with metal "poke poles" and after getting Rivera into the boat they tried to locate the car, but it was too deep.

    All the emergency radio traffic summoned a bevy of off-duty firefighters and EMS personnel to respond to the lake as well, they said. They would lend a hand several times during the rescue, firefighters say.

    Troyano had requested a dive team respond over his radio, but before that reques wound it's way through normal dispatch channels, Trenton Fire Department's (TFD) Rescue 1 with Engine 1, was on the way.

    This happened because Hamilton firefighters not involved in the actual rescue were already texting their on-duty friends in the TFD saying they were going to be disptatched, and the location.

    Firefighters in both towns, and Retalis, said this occurs quite often, and is a result of increased joint training between the towns, camaraderie, and knowing the nuances of dispatch.

    By the time the TFD was "dispatched" to the scene, they were rocketing down Route 129 and out of the city, Trenton firefighters say.

    Trenton firefighters Evan Kontos and Ken Walters were in scuba gear and in the water just after arriving, and due to Hamilton rescuers not taking their eyes off the area where it went under, they had another head start.

    "That was key," Kontos said.

    gropp-handout copy.jpgIn this handout photo. Trenton fire diver Evan Kontos, standing in the boat, prepares to enter the water. 

    Kontos submerged below the water, felt for the vehicle and went to the driver-side rear door and as he put it, "yanked and yanked and yanked."

    It finally popped open, and he swam in and found a woman - the driver - who he maneuvered out and guided her to the surface.

    Once she surfaced, Kontos went back into the car and pulled out the passenger and did the same surfacing.

    By this time, Hamilton firefighter Christian McNeil was in the boat with Troyano and they pulled the driver aboard and raced back to shore.

    Robert Wood Johnson at Hamilton ambulance crew Nicole Aitkens and Craig Crawley were waiting, and they, along with Capital Health paramedics Jennifer Mitchell and Mike Smith, started CPR and were off to the trauma center in Trenton.

    In a second boat, Hamilton firefighters Steve Lykes and Frank Barkosky pulled the passenger onto their boat and raced her to an ambulance crew, manned by Kurt Recktenwald and Greg Barron. Medics Lupe Verrecchiio and Will Schaub joined them and repeated the same life-saving process.

    The EMS personnel said they could not divulge much about the emergency care they provided, but by the time the younger patient arrived at the trauma center, she had a pulse and solid blood pressure.

    With cold-water victims, life-saving treatment continues until a person's body temperature rises to a certain body temperature, no matter how long it takes, medics say.

    "It was just really good teamwork," one firefighter said as they finished talking.

    "And the training we did earlier this year," another said.

    And the team, many recalled, we're not even on duty. Off-duty Trenton firefighters Mike and Joe Szabo, who are rescue divers, were on scene early in the rescue, lending a hand however they could. Their father Gary Szabo, a retired city firefighter and also a driver, was there too.

    Retalis said the entire response and outcome is testament to firefighters from the two towns training with each other, but more importantly, trusting each other.

    "It's a combined effort," he said.

    IH7A2885.JPGThe full crew of firefighters, EMTs and paramedics who were at the Gropp Lake rescue Feb. 3, 2018. (Kevin Shea | NJ Advance Media) 

    Not wanting to overlook anyone who was a part of the incident, the firefighters said they recall a man from the Shell station nearby who reportedly tried to swim to the car before they arrived.

    He was soaking wet when they arrived. They gave him towels.

    That man was Wito Crespo, who pumps gas at station. On Monday, he said he and station employee Chris Ingenbrandt both waded into the lake, but retreated due to the cold.

    They both gave each other the credit, "He went in farther than I did," Ingenbrandt said.

    "He grabbed a hammer and went in," Crespo said of his co-worker.

    "It was just so terrible to see that car go down," Ingenbrandt said.

    They knew people were inside, and had not gotten out.

    Crespo said he heard a girl's screams as it went down.

    "So we tried," Crespo said.

    Kevin Shea may be reached at kshea@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter@kevintshea. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Authorities found the man's body behind the wheel of a crashed car in December.

    A 14-year-old boy has been charged in the fatal shooting of a Flemington man late last year in Trenton, prosecutors said Tuesday.

    The teenager, a Trenton resident who authorities did not publicly identify, has been charged with murder, felony murder, robbery and weapons offenses in the Dec. 21, 2017, killing of Brian Ficzko, 40, the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office said in a statement.

    Authorities have said Trenton police found Ficzko behind the wheel of a car, suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest, after the vehicle crashed into a pole and another car in the 300 block of Mulberry Street in North Trenton at around 6 p.m.

    The prosecutor's office has not specified where Ficzko is believed to originally have been shot.

    Ficzko -- a U.S. Navy veteran who was working in the restaurant industry, according to his obituary in The Hunterdon County Democrat -- was later pronounced dead at Capital Health Regional Medical Center, the prosecutor's office said.

    Authorities said the teenage suspect was arrested following an investigation by the Mercer County Homicide Task Force, and is being held at the Middlesex County Juvenile Detention Facility pending further proceedings.

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at tmoriarty@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriarty. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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