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Central Jersey News from the Times of Trenton

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    If Virtua and Lourdes hospitals join forces, they would continue a decade-long pattern of mergers and acquisitions, in New Jersey and across the country.

    Two south Jersey hospital chains announced Thursday they are exploring a merger, a deal that would make them one of the most formidable health care networks in the outer-Philadelphia region.

    Virtua Health, which owns three hospitals in Burlington County, would acquire the two hospitals in the Lourdes Health System in Camden and Burlington, according to an announcement Virtua released on behalf of both systems.

    The news comes three months after Cooper Health backed out of a deal to buy the Lourdes hopsitals, as well as St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton. All three are owned by Maxis, a division of Trinity Health which operates 93 hospitals in 22 states. Cooper filed a lawsuit in December to regain the $15 million it placed in escrow when the two were exploring the deal. 

    Here's why massive N.J. hospital deal turned out DOA

    "Maxis Health System, an entity of Trinity Health, and Virtua Health have entered into a non-binding Letter of Intent regarding the possible acquisition by Virtua of The Lourdes Health System, including Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden and Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County," according to a statement Virtua spokeswoman Peggy Leone released Thursday.

    "The parties hope that they will be able to complete this transaction, which has the potential to achieve great benefits for healthcare in South Jersey. Further review is underway; there is no final agreement."

    Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden is renowned for its heart care and its treatment programs of the elderly. Virtua's hospitals dominate obstetrics care in the region, delivering 8,000 babies a year.

    If they agree to join forces, they would continue a decade-long pattern of mergers and acquisitions, in New Jersey and across the country, driven in part by the Affordable Care Act's emphasis on hospitals and doctors curbing long hospital stays.

    Mergers also give cover to smaller hospitals, shoring up their negotiating power with insurance companies, and giving them access to money to make building and other capital improvements.

    Susan K. Livio may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @SusanKLivio. Find Politics on Facebook.

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    "This is nothing. This is normal stuff for me. I don't know why they closed the roads in New York last night." Watch video

    If you're accustomed to crisscrossing America's highways and byways for a living, a nor'easter might not grab your attention the way it does for New Jersey residents.

    The morning after the second nor'easter in a week buffeted the area with heavy rain, snow and winds, we paid a visit to Love's Travel Stop in Bordentown Township to see how the long distance truckers were handling the weather.

    Craig Stevens, who's from Minnesota was unfazed by the snow.

    "This is nothing. This is normal stuff for me. I don't know why they closed the roads in New York last night," he said.

    Allen Rodriguez hails from Las Vegas. He has a different perspective. While letting his dog, Roscoe, out for a little leg-stretching, he says he is "normally used to dry weather."

    "Right now, its almost impossible to drive," Rodriguez said. His plan was to wait for the sun to melt some snow and then get back on the road again.

    Maybe it has to do where you're from?

    Love's, sandwiched between Interstate 295 and the New Jersey Turnpike, is a popular spot for truckers to gas up, rest up, and eat up before heading back out onto the highways.

    Michael Mancuso may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @michaelmancuso. Find on Facebook.

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    Regular season Ivy champs hope to win league tournament for automatic NCAA bid

    The Princeton University women's basketball team is back in familiar territory, which is to say they are once again regular season Ivy League champions. That's number six over the past 11 seasons.

    These days that's not quite enough, however, with the second annual Ivy League Tournament set for this weekend at the Palestra on the Penn campus. The regular season champion is merely the top seed. The winner from the four-team field receives the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

    The losers await a possible invite to the WNIT.

    Should Princeton at least get to Saturday's championship game, it would have a 23-6 record and theoretically a chance of receiving an at-large bid to the NCAAs.

    "I think our RPI is good enough, but a lot depends on other conferences,'' head coach Courtney Banghart said after beating Yale Saturday evening. "It remains to be seen. If we didn't (beat Yale) obviously we had no shot. I think we stand pretty strong for an at-large. We just have to take care of business.''

    Business commences Saturday at 6 p.m. against Yale. The Bulldogs handed Princeton one of its two league losses, winning by 14 five weeks ago. In Saturday's 11-point win by Princeton, the teams were tied at halftime.

    If familiarity breeds contempt, in this case it also breeds respect.

    "Yale is a well-coached, hard-nosed and physical team,'' Banghart offered. "Like us, they have quality senior leadership and talented underclassmen. They can be hard to guard and they will make us work for everything. Having just played them, both teams will have recent familiarity with one another.''

    Saturday at Jadwin Gym the usual suspects stepped up. Sophomore Bella Alarie took charge in the third period and finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, three blocks, three assists and a steal in 30 minutes; a familiar stat line.

    PU WBB vs. ColumbiaBella Alarie against Columbia this season. (Princeton U. photo)

    Over the weekend Princeton displayed its strengths, including its bench outscoring Brown and Yale 67-26. Of its 50 baskets, 32 came on assists. It also caused 45 turnovers. More noteworthy is that for the first time a Princeton basketball player accomplished a triple double. Against Brown, senior forward Leslie Robinson had 10 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists.

    One of three seniors, Banghart had nothing but praise for the trio; the others being guards Tia Weledji and Kenya Holland.

    "None were stars in the making,'' Banghart said about the start of their careers. "But they became stars of this team by playing their roles perfectly. As I said to the team (after the Yale game), I hope all classes below them saw what leadership is. It isn't always statistical, but it's an intangible.''

    As for the team, this one is special.

    "In coaching you have lots of different teams, and it's really hard to compare them,'' Banghart said. "I'll never forget this team, with the seniors being the heart and soul of what we do. Most importantly I'll never forget the joy this team brought to the game, and that fit me well because I want to have fun doing it. I'll be forever grateful.''

    These seniors were introduced to the program during the 31-1 run, and to date have been part of teams with an overall record of 91-26 and 46-9 in the league. They were there during the league's first at-large bid and the school's first NCAA tournament victory.

    This year's team put together streaks of 14-1 and won nine of their last 10. Thirteen games they scored more than 70 points and in 11 games they held opponents under 50.

    With five freshmen, three sophomores and three juniors on the roster, the bottom is not about to fall out.

    Coming off a 16-14 season, the seniors were determined not to go out in mediocrity. One year ago they began building toward what this season has been.

    Said Robinson: "When we didn't get to where we wanted to be, the three (seniors) dialed in and instilled into the underclassmen and four freshmen, who were still in high school at the time, what we were going to do and how we were going to be and how we were going to play and who we were as a team.

    "We've made it through the tough games with different people stepping up, and I think you could tell (Saturday vs. Yale) how we played and that we all care about each other so much. We always know there's another step we can take, and we're gonna' take that.''

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    The 2011 Steinert High School graduate is playing the Plumsted Grill

    When it comes to competition time on the show, "Dance Moms," Hamilton native Karly C is the dance team's good luck charm.

    The recording artist is on the rise since her song, "Simply Invincible," was chosen for a winning routine featured in a 2016 episode of the Lifetime television program, which follows young dancers and their moms at the Abby Lee Dance Company.

    Writing for a hit show isn't as easy as it looks.

    Karly C - aka Karly Coleman - teamed up with composer/producer Edgard Jaude when Joe Brandt, the show's musical supervisor, reached out requesting a song for an episode with a one-day window for submission. When that track didn't make the cut, the two worked fast.

    "(The next) night, Edgard made a new track and I recorded again. The next morning, Joe came back saying one mom thought the track was a little too mature, can we do one more," she tells The Trenton Times.

    "So, Saturday night Edgard made one final track and I recorded until 2 a.m."

    "Simply Invincible" was used for the group of younger dancers known as "the Minis" -- and they won first place. Since that victory, five of Coleman's songs have been featured throughout the 2017 season.

    "Ever since then, when Joe needed a song last minute, he came to us," she says.

    Coleman's partnership with Jaude has been fruitful since the two met in 2015.

    The 2011 Steinert High School graduate has inked a deal with Warner Chappel Production Music through its Adrenalin Vocals Label, which last month released her ten-song debut, "Take Me As I Am" on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and other streaming services.

    On Friday, March 9, Coleman is stepping out for a local appearance at The Plumsted Grill in New Egypt. She will return on March 24.

    "The album is mostly about empowerment and not taking any BS, although there are a few lighthearted songs. I didn't want to do another cliche female album where the woman is crying and upset over a breakup. I wanted to have an album that showed strength and power," she says.

    The lead track, "Take Me As I Am" relays that message loud and clear, with a striking vocal tone that draws in a listener as she sings "Take me as I am, or watch me as I go.... If you can't love me how I am then you don't deserve to know."

    "The message alone is something I stand true to as I have had people try and change me. All of the songs are in the same vein sound wise, so I think they all sound like who I want to be as an artist," she says.

    While her sound is undeniably pop, Coleman possesses a knack for painting pictures and telling stories with words as if she is a seasoned Nashville composer on Music Row.

    "Originally, I had my heart set on country music, and that could still be in my future someday, but for now, I am really enjoying writing pop songs," she says. "What I love about Edgard is he lets me be myself. He is the mastermind behind the music and then I come up with the lyrics and melodies. We may butt heads sometime and have our differences over lyrics or how a note was sung, but in the end, we come up with what I think are some amazing songs."

    Getting those songs out and heard is a dream come true, she says. Her love of music started early, as she listened and absorbed whatever was coming through her speakers on the radio.

    "I've been singing for as long as I can remember. When I was maybe 8 or 9, my parents bought me my first American Idol toy microphone that would play with karaoke tracks on my television. After that, another year for Christmas they bought me a keyboard," she says. "I taught myself how to play songs by watching YouTube tutorials since I didn't know what I was actually playing chord wise and I would sing along. I never really thought anything of my being able to sing."

    Then, at age ten, her mom surprised her with tickets to an Aaron Carter show, and that was it.

    "Once I saw him on stage I always had in my mind that I wanted it to be me someday," she said. "I knew I could hold a tune and so did my parents, but it wasn't until my mid-teens that they truly could tell I had a voice that was better than average."

    While success is certainly in the cards--three other shows are interested in using Coleman's music and a distribution deal with BMG is going to give her album a marketing push in Europe--Karly C is looking to Jersey native Bruce Springsteen for inspiration.

    "That's one reason I admire Bruce Springsteen so much. He is so humble and kind and never let fame or fortune get to him," she says. " I will still be that girl shopping at the Dollar Tree just like he is that guy walking on the boardwalk."

    The Plumsted Grill is located at 457 Pinehurst Road, Cream Ridge and can be reached at 609-758-5552. Show time is 9 p.m. 

    For more information and links to download "Take Me As I Am," go to

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    State lawmakers are waffling over the future of so-called smart meters in customers' homes, undecided whether the devices would benefit or harm New Jersey's utility customers.

    State lawmakers are waffling over the future of so-called smart meters in customers' homes, undecided whether the devices would benefit or harm New Jersey's utility customers.

    You may not have heard of smart meters, but they are already in use in close to half the homes in the country.

    The small boxes monitor energy consumption in homes and businesses on a real-time basis, allowing customers to keep on top of their daily usage and act accordingly.

    They also make it easier for utility companies to adjust energy pricing downward during times when they have excess capacity, and upward during peak energy demand.

    Such "congestion pricing" could help them smooth out energy demand to more efficiently utilize their power generation and distribution infrastructure.

    The devices help the utilities immediately identify and respond to power outages in their services area, an ability that certainly would have been a boon to the 320,000 customers who lost power in the most recent Nor'easter to barrel down on us Wednesday.

    So where's the down side?

    N.J. meter readers still make the rounds

    Opponents, many of them vocal, worry that the exposure to radio waves can make susceptible people sick. They also charge that the devices can be hacked, leaving them vulnerable to would-be thieves who learn when houses are empty by observing power-usage.

    And then there's the cost of installing the devices and upgrading the technologies needed to support them.

    While these concerns may be no more valid than those of the rabid anti-vaxxer crowd, New Jersey legislators are wise to wait until all the results are in from a small program already being implemented by Rockland Electric, the area's smallest utility company.

    The utility, which serves parts of Passaic and Bergen counties in addition to areas of New York, began installing the meters in Rockland County last summer, and plans to expand the service through other counties through 2020.

    Utility workers in South River also installed smart meters in the Middlesex County community.

    The digital meters communicate directly with the utility through a secure wireless network.

    The Board of Public Utilities, which granted the approval to install the meters, wants to conduct a case study to see how well they work on a limited basis before moving ahead with more sweeping changes.

    Although clean-energy advocates are understandably frustrated by the lawmakers' hesitation to move forward, there's much to be said about waiting until all the results from that program are in - or at least most of them.

    Many states where the smart meters are in use offer an opt-out plan for consumers who have their doubts about the safety of the devices. That's something our lawmakers might also consider as they go about their deliberations.

    Our gut tells us smart meters will eventually be the smart way to go. But we're ready to wait until all the local evidence is in to make it happen.

    Bookmark Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find Opinion on Facebook.


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    The Weedman is representing himself in his criminal trial and remains jailed

    As marijuana activist Ed "NJ Weedman" Forchion prepares for a second trial on witness tampering charges, he says he's unable to access some of his court materials. 

    Forchion says the documents were on computer storage devices - USB flash drives - that Mercer County Correction Center Warden Charles Ellis confiscated on Jan. 28. 

    Forchion is representing himself, and being detained pending trial, has been compiling his court information on several drives. 

    When Forchion asked Ellis for an explanation, Ellis cited a 2015 memo which explains the jail's policy on acceptable formats attorneys can use to review discovery documents with their clients. 

    The memo says discovery must be on a flash drive or downloaded onto a laptop, but no CDs can be used. It also reads, "The Attorney laptop and the flash drive are to be in the hands of the Attorney at all times, and never in control or possession of the inmate." 

    In jail interview, Weedman talks running for mayor, helping inmates

    Forchion claims that other inmates have access to and use flash drives inside the jail. He's since written to Superior Court Judge Anthony Massi, who is presiding over his case, asking him to intervene, but Massi has not yet responded to the request. 

    In a letter to NJ Advance Media, Forchion said he believes his right to a fair trial is being violated. He's planning to bring a civil suit against the jail and has filed a claim of notice. 

    "The flash drive that was confiscated is considered contraband because the county cannot verify that the drive contains only legal documents. The policy is in place to protect the safety and security of the jail," Mercer County spokeswoman Julie Willmot said.

    "In this situation, inmate Forchion, mailed flash drives to someone outside the facility and then had flash drives mailed back to him," she said.

    Willmot said Forchion was given the option of mailing his flashdrive out to someone outside the jail, that person could then send printed pages to Forchion in the mail. Or he could send the drive to his counsel through the public defender's office, and that attorney could return it to him as legal correspondence.

    In other Weedman news, the activist's campaign for mayor pf Trenton hit a roadblock as the clerk's office did not give him candidate petitions.

    The clerk has cited a state law that says those who are serving a sentence or are on parole or probation as a result of a conviction are ineligible to vote, and political candidates must be able to vote in order to run for office. 

    Forchion, who was found not guilty of one count of witness tampering in November, noted he is not serving a sentence - he's being detained pending trial- and he's not on probation or on parole.

    Editor's Note: This storu has been updated to include comment from the Mercer County administration.

    Olivia Rizzo may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @LivRizz. Find on Facebook 

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    The officers completed 22 weeks of training at the Mercer County Police Academy

    The newest class of graduates from the Mercer County Police Academy come from several law enforcement agencies in five New Jersey counties.

    Trenton police had 18 officers graduate, the Middlesex County Sheriff's Office had six and the Mercer sheriff's had five.

    NJ Advance Media photographed the ceremony Friday at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor, as well as every officer receiving their diploma and the class' recognition awards. They can be seen in the picture gallery below.

    All the officers and award winners from Mercer academy graduation

    The officers:

    From Trenton police: Manuel Acosta, Dariel Bacilio, Christopher Bustamante, Anthony Cariola, Walter Deleon, Julio Estrada, Nicholas Hogan, Cornell Huff, Anthony Kubish, Lukasz Kulis, Corey McNair, Lizmary Rivera, Vishan Singh, Hector Solares, Michael Tilton, Derick Tosado, Tamar Williams and Gregory Woods

    Middlesex County Sheriff's Office: Chantel Church, Jeffrey Dominguez, Victor Hojasbravo, Jose Malave, Robert Massa and Steven Sabo

    Mercer County Sheriff's Office: Garrett Bezek, Marvin Deleon, Adam Joyce, Brandon Kent and Jason Magrelli

    Ewing Police: Kyle McGuire, Matthew Wherley and Charles Wyckoff

    Hamilton Police: Denita Allen and Alexander Zuzzio

    Princeton Police: Ryan McDermott and Adam Santos

    West Windsor Police: Peter Buchanan and Christian Crawford

    And Korey Linico of the Florence Police; Michael Moloney of the Bordentown Township Police; Kristofer Grimm from Bridgewater Police; Carolyn Edwards of the NJ State Park Police; Christofer Aboosamara of the Somerset County Sheriff's Office; Samuel Marton of the Somerset County Sheriff's Office; and David Gaughan of the Hunterdon County Sheriff's Office.

    Kevin Shea may be reached at Follow him on Twitter@kevintshea. Find on Facebook.


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    More tests are needed to find out how man died

    The man found dead in the Spring Lake side of John A. Roebling Park recently lived a few houses away from the park.

    Authorities identified the man as Stephen McLeon, 56, of New Cedar Lane, a street that runs off South Broad Street and dead-ends at the marshy park.

    Birdwatchers found the body, partially submerged in the water near the Sewell Avenue entrance, on Feb. 28.

    An autopsy on McLeon is complete, but his cause of death remains undetermined  pending additional testing, the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office said.

    A prosecutor's office spokeswoman declined to elaborate on McLeon's death, which the office has since taken over investigating from Hamilton police.

    Hamilton police declined to discuss the case Friday. Police had previously said they had no indication that foul play was involved.

    Kevin Shea may be reached at Follow him on Twitter@kevintshea. Find on Facebook.


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    Police found the man in Lawrence, and charged him with trespassing

    Five schools in Hopewell Township were locked down Friday afternoon while police tracked down a man who ran from a staff member at Hopewell Valley Central High School, police said.

    Officers located the man, 19-year-old Foster Krupa, at his home in Lawrence and arrested him with criminal trespassing and causing or risking widespread injury or damage. Hopewell Township police said another student, trying to polite let him in.

    Krupa appeared in the school in the afternoon, near dismissal time, and was confronted by a staff member who dod not recognize him as a student, police said in a statement.

    The man gave the staffer his name, and said he lived in Lawrence, then ran from the school, with the staffer in pursuit. Another staffer called 911, at 2:45 p.m., police said.

    As police searched for Krupa, officials locked down Toll Gate elementary, Timberlane middle, the high school, as well as the private Pennington School and the Pennington Montessori School.

    With the help of Lawrence police, and Lawrence Detective Dave Burns, who is familiar with Krupa, they located Krupa at his Lawrence home, and the lockdowns were lifted at 3:15 p.m.

    Burns drove Krupa back to Hopewell, where he was charged , and was expected to be set free with a court date Friday night.

    Police pulled footage from the high school's security and found that a student opened a door for Krupa. "It is believed that the student didn't know the man but was trying to be polite,' police said in the statement.

    "It is also believed that Mr. Krupa entered the school in an effort to visit a friend," police said.

    The case will eventually be sent to the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office for review following an investigation by Detective Joseph Maccaquano.

    Kevin Shea may be reached at Follow him on Twitter@kevintshea. Find on Facebook.



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    If you are a homeowner and permanent resident of New Jersey, if you've seen active duty during a war, if you are permanently and totally disabled, you qualify for an exemption on your property taxes.

    Some things are so right, so just, you marvel that someone hasn't come along to screw them up.

    That's how we'd categorize a 70-year-old law that provides a property-tax exemption for disabled veterans in New Jersey, where residents pay the highest property taxes in the country.

    It's a way to say "Hey, thanks," to the men and women who put their lives on the line for us. And the beauty of it lies in the fact that the veterans' exemption is not a burden on the state, but rather is absorbed the other taxpayers in a municipality - at a surprisingly low cost.

    The state's Division of Local Government Services says the amount others pay to cover the exemption is roughly 3/10 of 1 percent on average across the state - a relatively painless way to express our gratitude to our vets.

    That was the thinking just after World War II, when state leaders were looking for a way to recognize the sacrifice of the weary warriors as they returned from service.

    4 things this N.J. general says we can do to help veterans

    Although the law has been amended 11 times, its basic outlines remain the same: If you are a homeowner and permanent resident of the state, if you've seen active duty during a war, if you are permanently and totally disabled, you qualify for the tax break.

    In cases where a service member has died while serving, his or her spouse (if not remarried) is entitled to the exemption. Since 2007, the relief for property taxes has also been offered to the surviving spouse of any veteran whose disabled status was granted after death.

    A survey of the municipalities with the largest number of exempt households reveals that the vast majority are within 20 miles of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

    Leading the list with 310 exemptions is Willingboro, followed by Pemberton Township, with 218. Both townships are in Burlington County. Mercer County's Hamilton checks in at 8th, with 135 exemptions.

    In total, 10,163 households throughout the state qualified for the break last year, with the average exempt home averaging $250,000.

    Sadly, our veterans have not always been greeted with open arms or compassion when they are discharged.

    Facilities run by the Department of Veterans Affairs are subject to long waits, shortages of personnel and lack of resources. All too many vets, plagued by post-traumatic stress disease and other woes, struggle with finding jobs and resuming relationships. Many wind up homeless.

    While a perfunctory "Thank you for your service" would be nice, and a welcome home parade even nicer, the best way for us to acknowledge those who come home from war disabled is to make their lives more tolerable.

    It's the least we can do for a neighbor.

    Bookmark Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find Opinion on Facebook.


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    Everything you need to know heading into the state finals.

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    Who wins a state title this weekend? takes a look at the finals.

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    Thousands of homes are still without power in New Jersey as power companies clean up after a pair of back-to-back nor'easters. Residents have used social media to vent.

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    The fixture list will do the Hammers no help as well. West Ham has to play six of the top nine, plus two relegation six-pointers.


    Marcus Rashford is only 20, but the striker has scored some huge goals in his Manchester United career.

    Add two more, as Rashford's first half brace powered the Red Devils to a 2-1 win over rivals Liverpool Saturday. The striker had not started since Boxing Day, but he came into the squad and, along with Romelu Lukaku, bullied the Liverpool back four in a first half masterclass.

    With eight matches to go in the Premier League, Manchester United opened a five-point lead (65-60) over Liverpool, which now sits in fourth. Tottenham moved one point ahead of the Reds with its 4-1 win Sunday over Bournemouth.

    Two stats from the win stood out for the Red Devils. Liverpool has not beaten Manchester United in the Premier League since March 16, 2014, just weeks before the end of the David Moyes era at United. The run (five wins, three draws) matches the longest in the Premier League for the Red Devils.

    Also, in 352 Premier League home games when it scored first, Manchester United has lost only three times. 


    This is the 26th season of the Premier League, and teams from the Northwest will have 16 of the titles once Manchester City is confirmed in the coming month (Manchester United has 13, Manchester City will have three, Blackburn Rovers has one.)

    Northwest clubs won eight of the first nine (United seven; 1993, 94, 96, 97, 99, 2000, 01; Blackburn in 1995), but the title has not been held in Manchester since 2014. That power shift south looks likely to end, as the two Manchester clubs, plus Liverpool, look set to take up the top four places for the near future.

    With so much uncertainty surrounding Arsenal, Chelsea, and Tottenham, there may be a run akin to the first decade of the Premier League ready to be launched by the two clubs in Manchester.


    Man. United 2-1 Liverpool

    Everton 2-0 Brighton

    Huddersfield 0-0 Swansea

    Newcastle 3-0 Southampton

    West Brom 1-4 Leicester

    West Ham 0-3 Burnley

    Chelsea 2-1 Crystal Palace

    Arsenal 3-0 Watford 

    Bournemouth 1-4 Tottenham

    Stoke vs. Man. City, Monday, 4 p.m EDT (NBCSports and

    West Brom all but relegated, but which 2 teams will join Baggies?


    The play on the pitch at the London Stadium has not been very good for West Ham United.

    Saturday, as the Hammers slumped to another heavy defeat, 3-0 to Burnley, the scenes in the stands turned ugly.

    Fans invaded the pitch after each second half goal, with one fan grabbing a corner flag and planting it at midfield, while West Ham captain Mark Noble threw one fan to the ground.

    The Hammers currently sit in 16th, on 30 points, just three points out of the relegation zone. Normally, five home matches out of eight to end the campaign would be a boon to survival hopes. But after the protests in the stands against the current ownership (David Sullivan, one co-owner, was hit by a coin during the unrest Saturday), and what has been described as a toxic atmosphere around the club, West Ham is in danger of relegation.

    The fixture list will do the Hammers no help as well. West Ham has to play six of the top nine (Manchester United, Manchester City, and Everton at home; Chelsea, Arsenal, and Leicester City away), plus two relegation six-pointers with Stoke City and Southampton, both at home.

    Could David Moyes take his second team in a row down to the EFL Championship? 


    Tuesday, Manchester United hosts Sevilla (3:45 p.m. EDT FS1 and, after a 0-0 draw in the first leg three weeks ago in Spain. After the Red Devils put some distance between third place with their win over Liverpool Saturday, they now have a massive week in the cup competitions.

    A win over Sevilla moves Manchester United into Friday's quarterfinal draw, with Liverpool and Manchester City. A score draw or a loss would see the Spanish team advance, while a 0-0 scoreline would see the match head to extra time. Roma hosts Shakhtar Donetsk in the other tie Tuesday (3:45 p.m. FS2 and, with the visitors holding a 2-1 advantage after the first leg.

    Wednesday, Chelsea heads to Barcelona (3:45 p.m. FS1 and, with the tie 1-1. Can the Blues get some kind of result against Lionel Messi and the Catalan giants? The other tie is a dead rubber, with Bayern Munich heading to Besiktas (3:45 p.m. FS2 and with a 5-0 lead.

    Next weekend, the F.A. Cup quarterfinals return as well. Click here to see a list of fixtures.


    With Arsenal's 3-0 win over Watford, Petr Cech recorded his 200th career Premier League clean sheet.

    It took almost three months, 11 games, and a second half penalty save, but Cech finally got his milestone. He had 162 with Chelsea in 332 matches, and now has 38 with Arsenal. Cech is the only goalkeeper in league history to reach the 200 mark.

    Mesut Ozil also broke a record, with his 50th assist in the league. He needed just 141 matches, to become the fastest to reach the mark. Ozil broke the record of Eric Cantona, who achieved the feat in 143 games.

    Contact Sean Miller at Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean His weekly podcast, Box to Box Football, can be found on iTunes here

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    The driver went over the right side of the turnpike and hit a concrete support.

    A 37-year-old man from Deptford Township sustained serious injuries in an early morning highway crash, New Jersey State Police said. 

    Cleveland Rich was driving south in a Honda sedan on the New Jersey Turnpike near mile marker 67.3 in East Windsor Township just before 3:30 a.m. police said. Rich was following a Ford SUV when he struck the rear of the vehicle. 

    The Ford, driven by Joseph Cutillo, 63, of Mansfield, Massachusetts, struck a barrier, but Cutillo was uninjured, police said. 

    During the collision, Rich, in the Honda, went over the right side of the roadway and struck a nearby concrete support for an elevated roadway.

    State police units were dispatched to the incident and said they found Rich had "sustained serious injuries" inside his vehicle during the crash. 

    He was transported for medical treatment, but an update about his injuries was not yet available. 

    Paige Gross may be reached at pgross@njadvancemedia.comFollow her on Twitter @By_paigegross. Find on Facebook.


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    Complete guide to 2018 Championship Weekend

    The action is over at the RAC, and Championship Weekend is in the books with six new champs.

    We've done something new with our coverage this year.  Look out for our "Hot takes & full breakdowns" post that has collected photos, videos, impact players and our reporters' hottest takes on each game all in one place. Some final pieces are going in there, so keep refreshing.

    Meantime, the Tournament of Champions bracket is set, and basketball gets back in action Tuesday.

    Tournament of Champions seeds, bracket
    Previews for every Group final
    Statewide Top 20
    South Jersey Top 20
    Sectional and Group brackets
    Statement wins upsets & surprises for the postseason

    NEW:  Hot takes & full report on every championship game

    Rutgers Athletic Center

    Group 1 Final
    Woodbury 60, Cresskill 58 
    • Clutch from line, Estrada leads Woodbury's comeback for title
    Hot takes & full breakdown (Stars of the game & more)
    •  Photo gallery
    •  WATCH: Woodbury celebrates 1st-ever Group 1 title
    Box score

    Look back at live updates 
    Full coverage

    Group 3 Final
    No. 17 Nottingham 60, Chatham 53
    Hot takes & full breakdown (stars of the game & more)
    • Senior trio brings Nottingham 1st state title
    •  Photo gallery
    •  WATCH: Nottingham celebrates first-ever G3 title
    Box score
    Look back at live updates 

    Full coverage 

    RELATED: Tournament of Champions seeds & bracket

    Group 2 Final
    Haddonfield 62, Newark Central 45
    • Haddonfield pushes adversity aside en route to title
    Hot takes & full breakdown (MVP & more)
    •  WATCH: Haddonfield celebrates Group 2 championship
    •  Photo gallery
    Box score 
    Look back at live updates 

    Full coverage

    Group 4 Final
    No. 12 Shawnee 56, No. 8 Newark East Side 53 
    Shawnee wins title on Deveney's late basket
    Hot takes & full breakdown (MVP and more)
    •  Photo gallery
    •  WATCH: Shawnee celebrates Group 4 championship
    Box score 
    Look back at live updates 

    Full coverage

    AFTER TOC: The Final 50 - top teams of the 2017-18 season

    RWJ Barnabas Arena, Toms River North

    Non-Public B Final
    No. 1 Roselle Catholic 63, No. 3 Ranney 61
    Reid rallies No. 1 Roselle Catholic in championship thriller
    Hot takes & full breakdown (Reid's game-winning alley-oop & more)
    •  WATCH: Naz Reid's game-winning block & alley-oop
    • Ranney's Lewis locked in, plays "Max Strong" (video)
    •  Photo gallery
     WATCH: Alanzo Frink drops 2-handed slam for RC
    •  WATCH: Bryan Antoine throws down monster jam for Ranney
    Box score

    Look back at live updates & stunning finish 
    Full coverage

    Non-Public A Final
    No. 4 Don Bosco 61, No. 18 Camden Catholic 54
    • Don Bosco repeats as N-P A champ
    Hot takes & full breakdown (Stars of the game, lots more)
    • Like father, like son? Rutgers can only hope with Ron Harper Jr. | Politi
    •   Photo gallery 
    •  WATCH: Don Bosco celebrates 2nd straight title
    Box score 
    Look back at live updates

    Full coverage


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    Everything you need for the state finals

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    Everything you need for the state finals

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    The average homeowner in all of these towns is paying well below the state average of $8,690.

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    Dogs and cats throughout New Jersey await adoption.

    Apparently, Punxsutawney Phil nailed it this year.

    Until it starts warming up, BluePearl Veterinary Partners has some tips for protecting pets during freezing weather.

    --The most common-sense tip is - don't leave a pet in the cold for too long. Bring pets inside if you start to see redness in their tails or ears or they start to shiver. Once inside, help them clear any ice between their toes.

    --Find a de-icer that is pet-friendly if you use one on your driveway and sidewalks. Various toxins and even salt can cause problems for pets, as they have a tendency to lick the substances off their paws.

    --Winter can make it hard for pets to find their way back home because ice and snow mask familiar scents and paths. Make sure dogs and cats that are allowed to roam have identification tags and, if possible, are microchipped.

    --Dogs can't say "My arthritis is acting up in this cold." If a pet struggles when getting up and moving around the house, a trip to the vet might be in order. Also, make sure there is soft and warm bedding available in cold weather.

    --A sweater or coat for short-haired dogs is a wise investment. Rather than being decorative, items like these are highly functional in cold weather.

     Until the temperatures rise to springtime levels, it's a good idea to make sure your pets are as comfortable in cold weather as they can be.

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