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Central Jersey News from the Times of Trenton

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    "It is delicious. It is a home run."

    When Kelly Kromer was hired to be the new Director of Food Services for the Trenton Thunder, she immediately went to work imagining new fare for the fans to enjoy while watching America's pastime.

    What she came up with may revolutionize the food game in the stands, as fans watch one of the best teams in Double A baseball.

    While the baseball at Arm & Hammer Park has been the talk of the fans the last two seasons, with the Trenton Thunder making the Eastern League Championship Series in 2016 and 2017, fans of the Thunder have many new things to rave about in 2018.

    Trenton will host the 2018 EL All Star Game on July 11, with the Home Run Derby a day earlier. Case's Pork Roll, which will sponsor the derby, also has a new entry into local food lore at its stand on the first base side of the concourse.

    It is called the "Sticky Pig".

    The sandwich, a Kromer's creation, is made of Case's pork roll, bacon, egg, cheese, and red pepper jam - all on a glazed donut.

    "I am thrilled, just coming in new," Kromer said. "The previous menu had a couple of fun things, but we really kicked it up a notch, and really made it interesting and different. I am excited to hear what everyone thinks about it.

    Trenton Thunder 2018 season gets underway with Domingo Acevedo on hill

    The "Sticky Pig" was a massive hit Thursday, as the Thunder opened their 25th season against the Richmond Flying Squirrels.

    "It is delicious," Fred York said. "It is a nice combination of sweet and sour, because you get the glaze from the donut, and the spice form the pork roll. You have the bacon and the egg as well. 

    "It is delicious. It is a home run. This will sell big time."

    "I thought it was perfect," Chris Borden said. "A perfect blend of salty and sweet. I am going to try some different things at the games this year, but I am going to be back for that one."

    Other new items on the menu are a fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich (as well as fried chocolate bars), waffle and donut ice cream sandwiches, pierogies, beef jerky, and the 1911 Smoke House Bar-B-Que.

    "There are a lot of options for people," Kromer said. "For the season ticket holders, who are here for every game, we want to keep them interested and coming back for more."


    Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson attended his last Thunder home opener in office, but he will be a fan for many years to come of his home town team.

    "Because I will not be mayor does not mean I will not come," Jackson said. "It is great for our community. I love it. It is great for our community, and great for the city to have these type of events that lift evybody up. 

    "The crowds are getting larger and larger. As the mayor, I worked to support it. But as a citizen, and a community activist, I am going to continue to support it. These are activities that the city needs to have, with the great partnerships they have.

    "Tom Dolan does a great job as well, sponsoring the Home Run Derby, and so many other things. He has the Prok Roll Eating Contest, and brings in the best eaters from all over the country. We are getting some real star-power to come in behind these guys, and I am really excited about it."

    Contact Sean Miller at Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean

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    The nation's first all-female class of police cadets left the Police Academy on June 27, 1980. Watch video

    They had no intention of becoming pioneers - or makers of history.

    Some wanted to honor the career of beloved relatives who had served before them. Others were motivated by a desire to give back to their communities.

    The 30 women who graduated from the 96th New Jersey State Police class all those years ago were in a class by themselves. Literally.

    The nation's first all-female class of police cadets left the Police Academy on June 27, 1980. Not only did its members enter the annals of history, but they also demonstrated powerfully that women are up to the task of serving as members of the elite law-enforcement agency charged with safeguarding the residents of the Garden State.

    Now it's their time to bask in the memories, and the glory.

    Trailblazing troopers talk of being in historic class

    The State Police Memorial and Learning Center in West Trenton just unveiled a permanent exhibit dedicated to these pioneering women, some of them as young as 18 when they decided to join up.

    Many members of the class were on hand for the exhibit's opening ceremonies recently, eager to share their experiences for the record.

    "We learned how to spit-shine shoes and shoot weapons, do defensive tactics and things like that," recalled Rosanne "Roe" Manghisi, who went on to serve on the force for 26 years before retiring with the rank of captain.

    In 1979, the State Police launched a program to recruit, select and train an all-female class, with the goal of increasing the number of women in agency.

    Gallery: State Police exhibit honoring all-female class

    The selection process was rigorous: Of the 1,630 women who took the entrance exam, 748 were chosen to continue in the selection process. That number was winnowed down to 116 who were admitted to the academy after passing a physical test, a medical exam, and an interview.

    Only 30 of them made it all the way to graduation.

    Mary Ruane, a member of that ground-breaking class nearly four decades ago, said she found that although her female colleagues were perhaps more closely scrutinized at first to see how they performed, the men on the force tended to be welcoming and supportive.

    The ensuing years have proven that women have what it takes to serve in multiple capacities.

    The State Police website notes that women hold key positions with the agency's Equal Opportunity Bureau, the personnel bureau and the professional development unit, among others.

    But despite steps to integrate the state force, progress has proven slow. As of 2007, only 3 percent of the troopers were women. Ten years later, the June 2017 class of 148 cadets counted just three women graduates.

    It's fitting that State Police officials have found a concrete way to honor those early trailblazers. We hope more women will find their collective stories inspiring enough to follow in their boots.

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


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    The latest news and notes from around the state in N.J. girls lacrosse.

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    Jeffery Pageau was a Ewing native and member of the Hamilton community for over two decades

    Jeffery Pageau was a retired union insulator known for his "legendary" tomato plants and a large group of family and friends.

    His life ended March 31 when he succumbed to injuries suffered in a vicious assault the week before, during a St. Patrick's Day party near his Hamilton home. He was 58.

    His wife Joan and daughter Carly were by his side when he died.

    Pageau - who was known as Jeffy or Page - also leaves behind his three dogs, "his furbabies" - Cinnamon, Sugar and Bella, according to his obituary and a GoFundMe page setup to aid his shocked and heartbroken family.

    jeff.jpgJeff Pageau (GoFundMe)

    "Jeff was, and always will be remembered, as an amazing man, father, uncle and friend," the GoFundMe page says of the Ewing native who later moved to Hamilton.

    "He was loved, appreciated and respected by everyone he came in contact with," the page says

    Authorities have charged Howard Buckalew, 52, with aggravated manslaughter in Pageau's death.

    They allege Buckalew slammed Pageau's head into kitchen cabinets, forced him out of a house and then then tackled him off a porch onto pavement and then pounded Pageau's head onto the ground several times.

    Pageau was especially proud of his high school sports accomplishments and was a member of the Ewing High School boys soccer state championship team in 1975. He was a 1977 graduated of the school.

    Pageau spent 25 years as an insulator with Local 89, retiring in 2014. He also loved bird watching, hosting family and friends at backyard gatherings and volunteers Freedom Train Animal Rescue Transports, according to his obituary

    His funeral is tomorrow, Sat. April 7, beginning with services from from 12 noon to 4 p.m. at the Hamilton Brenna-Cellini Funeral Home, 2365 Whitehorse-Mercerville Road, Hamilton.

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

    Have a tip? Tell us. 

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    Authorities say a Trenton Water Works employee was illegally turning on the water

    Mercer County authorities have arrested a dozen rental scammers who moved into homes that were vacant or being foreclosed. 

    The alleged fraudsters would change the locks, turn on utilities and live rent-free and sometimes create leases and rent the properties to others, confusing real estate agents and police officers.

    And they had a Trenton Water Works employee illegally turning on the water service for them.

    When bank inspectors or property managers would stop in to check on the home or show it, they would find the occupants and have to call local police to step in and try to figure out the situations.

    brooksAlleged ring leader Barbara Brooks

    "These are brazen criminals who educated themselves on squatters' rights and took advantage of the civil court process," Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri said in a Friday statement announcing the arrests and charges.

    "This created a challenge for local police who were being called out to the homes. Occupants were providing legal-looking leases and cash receipts for rent, and there would be conflicting versions of who had the right to be there." 

    Hamilton Township Police investigated about 50 incidents in a 14-month period but charges have also been filed for properties in Ewing, Lawrence and Princeton townships, authorities said. The scams have been increasing in the past several years.

    Evicting the illegal residents became so costly for banks and real estate companies that they would offer "cash for keys" payments of a few hundred to a few thousand dollars so that the squatter would leave the property without having to go through eviction proceedings in civil court. 

    "Thanks to the collaborative efforts of our police departments in Mercer County, we were able to identify multiple individuals that moved from squatting in one town to another. We were also able to identify those individuals involved in a more sophisticated rental scheme," Onofri said. 

    Mercer officials hope to stop growing rental scams

    The problem has been plaguing Mercer County for several years, leading Trenton and county officials to form the Fraudulent Housing Occupancy Task Force, prompting press conferences, community meetings and spurring the development of a uniform approach from county and municipal law enforcement.

    Prosecutor's Detective Zachary Ortman was tasked with heading a uniform approach, in the fall of 2017, Onofri said.

    "This was a massive, complex investigative and legal undertaking," Onofri said. "Detectives spent countless hours conducting surveillance, studying the eviction process and adverse possession, and combing through social media in order to obtain crucial evidence that allowed them to connect the dots and identify the many scam artists involved." 

    What they found was that the same names and techniques kept popping up.

    Detectives identified Barbara Brooks, 48, of Trenton, as the alleged leader of the ring. She allegedly found the foreclosed and vacant properties, made fake leases and recruited and instructed others on the process -- and what to say to police when they showed up at the door.

    Brooks also allegedly recruited Michael Wilmore, 44, of Florence, a Trenton Water Works, employee to turn on water at numerous properties.

    wilmoreTrenton City employee Michael Wilmore 

    Wilmore was suspended from his job following his March 23 arrest, a city spokesman said.

    Latasha Love, 32, of Ewing, authorities say, ran one of the more egregious examples of the scam. Love allegedly lived rent-free in a foreclosed home on Sabrina Drive in Ewing for months.

    She was arrested by police and then moved into a home in Princeton but told Rasheeda Harris, 32, of Hamilton, to take over the "lease" and move into the Ewing home. Love was arrested when she tried to move back into the Ewing home a second time and was allegedly paid by a real estate agency to leave the Sabrina Drive residence.

    Love faces similar charges in Yardley, Pa. and she was charged in Mercer County with perjury, theft by deception and falsifying complaints. 

    After being charged for occupying a home on Lawrenceville Road in Princeton, police found Love in the home - again.

    loveLatasha Love

    She allegedly showed officers an order signed by a judge. Authorities investigated and found that Love filed a motion in court against a real estate agent who was the former listing agent for the property.

    Love allegedly created a fraudulent lease that named the prior owner as the renter and provided false information in the motion and again on the record in court. 

    The other eight people who were arrested were: Endiya Thompson, 21, of Sicklerville; Jamar Hill, 37, of Hamilton; Shea Lightfoot, 38, of Willingboro; Dominique Morgan, 31, of Hamilton; Tarrik Boles, 36, of Hamilton; Shauntee Stokes, 40, of Trenton; Sandra Freeman, 49, of Hamilton; and Eddie Thompson, 45, of Trenton.

    All 12 suspects were charged with third- and fourth-degree crimes of burglary, theft of services, failure to make lawful disposition and criminal mischief. They were released pending future court dates.

    Authorities are urging real estate and property management personnel to call local police if they find anyone illegally inhabiting a property. 

    "There is a misconception that owners need to go through the eviction process when there is an occupant unlawfully inside," Onofri said. "That holds true when a tenant has a valid lease; then the eviction process must be followed. Without a valid lease, the situation becomes criminal." 

    Allison Pries may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @AllisonPries. Find on Facebook.  

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    The 43-year-old made up a story about missing his flight and asked for $200 for a hotel room.

    A 43-year-old former professional poker player was arrested after tricking another passenger at Newark Liberty International Airport into giving him $200 by making up a sob story, authorities said. 

    borovetz.jpgMichael H. Borovetz (Port Authority police) 

    Port Authority police charged Michael H. Borovetz, of Pittsburgh, with theft by deception on Thursday, two days after he ran his alleged scam on a 55-year-old man from the Princeton Junction section of West Windsor.

    Borovetz told the man that his flight had been canceled and that he needed money for a hotel, according to Port Authority police spokesman Joe Pentangelo. The man withdrew $200 from an ATM and gave it to Borovetz but soon became suspicious and notified the cops. 

    Borovetz pulled a similar stunt at Newark airport in June, police said. In that instance he bought a refundable ticket so he could access the part of the terminal past the security checkpoint, according to police. After talking someone into forking over $200, Borovetz asked for the victim's business card. 

    He later showed the business card to his next target, claiming he had an interview with the person named on the card, according to police.

    Police took Borovetz into custody at the Marriott near the airport on Thursday afternoon. He is due in court April 17.

    Borovetz was arrested in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2014 after running the con on at least five passengers at the airport there. 

    He has accumulated more than $50,000 in career earnings playing in World Series of Poker events as well as other tournament, according to

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find on Facebook.


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    The Preseason Top 20 for the boys track and field relay teams

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    The annual Phi Alpha Delta St. Baldrick's "Head Shaving" event takes place at The College of New Jersey Watch video

    Alberto Gonzalez, President of Phi Alpha Delta fraternity at The College of New Jersey, never had a shaved head - until Friday.

    As president, he was one of the first to step up to the platform and succumb to the scissors, in the "Shave That Saves" event, the culmination of a week-long series of efforts to raise money for Pediatric Cancer research through the St. Baldrick's Foundation.

    Gonzalez called his shaved head "a whole new feeling" and is keeping his beard and looks forward to letting it grow out, "so I have some hair on my head, other than my eyebrows."

    Expo preview

    Three volunteer professional hair stylists, Pierre Gravier of Capital Barber Shop in Ewing and Marissa Harrison and Jeanna Shortino, of TBS- The Barber Shop of Hamilton, shaved approximately 30 heads at the event.

    Prior to today's head shaving event, the fraternity had raised over $25,000 and they have a goal of $40,000. Donations can me made here.

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

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    "Honestly, I just want to go out there with my team mates and win," Sheffield said. "I want to go out there, have fun, and compete."

    Justus Sheffield comes into the 2018 season as one of the most hyped pitchers in the New York Yankees minor league system.

    One night after the number nine prospect in the Yankees' organization, Domingo Acevedo, took the mound for the Thunder, in their 25th anniversary season home opener, Sheffield took the ball to start the second of a four-game series with the Richmond Flying Squirrels.

    The 21-year-old lefty is the number three prospect in the system, and pitched in the big league camp this spring, just like Acevedo and Dillon Tate (who is ranked number 11 and will pitch Saturday).

    Like Acevedo, how long Sheffield will be in Trenton is dependent on multiple factors. But the consensus seems to be Sheffield could be moving up the system shortly. For now, the lefty is just focused on trying to improve each time he takes the mound for the Thunder.

    "Honestly, I just want to go out there with my team mates and win," Sheffield said. "I want to go out there, have fun, and compete, just like always."

    Trenton Thunder home opener delivers Sticky Pig, other new food choices

    Sheffield got to spend some time around the Yankees' pitchers in the spring once again, and made the most of his time around the big leaguers.

    "This was my second spring training, and I was a little more comfortable," Sheffield said. "That was the main thing for me, I think, to get around those guys every day. It was a lot more comfortable.

    "Having Tate now, in his first spring training, and kind of getting to introduce him to C.C. (Sabathia) after we formed that relationship a few years ago. Having those guys in that locker room, and the way that they interact with the young players, is big.

    "You see it now, with all the young guys going up."

    Bell worked with Sheffield in the Arizona Fall League six months ago, and has liked what he has seen from the lefty.

    "I am pretty fond of Sheff," Bell said. "I got to manage him in the fall league last year, and really enjoyed watching him perform. It is always exciting."

    Sheffeld went 7-6, with a 3.18 ERA last year in Trenton, but missed almost two months with an oblique injury. But he came back and dominated the Arizona Fall League.

    He has started to work on another pitch to add to his repetoire, which already has the potential to have three plus-pitches: fastball, slider, and changeup. His new pitch, the backdoor slider, could have Double A batters even more baffled than last season.

    "I am working on my backdoor slider," Sheffield said. "Talking to C.C. about that, I had a lot of success with my back foot. I thought maybe working that into it, kind of getting a different angle for the batters' eyes. We have been working on it, and it has been good.

    "I think overall I had a successful year last season, and I am excited to come in this year and do even better. One of the main things I learned from the spring is getting outs. Not really focusing on how to get them, or the execution, the right way and wrong way to get outs. I think the main thing is get the outs, finish out batters, finish out innings."

    Contact Sean Miller at Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean

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    Ranking students on a grade point average really has no educational value except to give a handful of overachievers bragging rights to claim they have a numerical superiority that is often a fraction of a point different than the next student.

    The Vineland school district is considering ditching its high school class-ranking system. It's a move we support wholeheartedly.

    Ranking students on a grade point average really has no educational value except to give a handful of overachievers bragging rights to claim they have a numerical superiority that is often a fraction of a point different than the next student.

    If Vineland decides to eliminate class rankings, it will join a growing list of other school districts in New Jersey that have taken similar action or have policies that preclude the reporting of rank-in-class.

    For example, Princeton and West Windsor-Plainsboro school districts - both of which have high schools ranked in the top 10 in the state for 2017 by US News & World Report magazine - make it a point not to report class rank, saying it unnecessarily increases student competition and it fails to reflect students' real levels of achievement.

    It seems Vineland schools Superintendent Mary Gruccio would agree with that.

    "It creates a lot of angst, especially with the parents sometimes," Gruccio told NJ Advance Media. "In my opinion, it creates a lot of anxiety that does not have to take place."

    No valedictorians? Districts in N.J. are eliminating class ranks

    In discussing the idea of abandoning class ranking, Vineland has done its homework.

    Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Nathan Frey said the district began to look at the rankings and looking into what benefits the rankings offered, then began researching how it impacted colleges in their admission process.

    What he found is that 50 percent of colleges they looked at do not even use class rank as a measurement for college acceptance.

    For universities, high school class rank is becoming a meaningless yardstick because many high schools are doing away with it.

    Rutgers University-New Brunswick, for example, does not consider class rank as a factor when deciding who to accept for enrollment. Rather, it looks at the grades in each course, course difficulty, GPA, and the patterns of each prospective student's grades.

    Those who support class ranking tend to see it as a competitive blood sport that crowns only the best of the best.

    But all it really fosters is cutthroat competition and resentment. It also deters rank-conscious students from taking elective courses that they might enjoy but may not be as heavily weighted to augment their class standing.

    In the end, class ranking causes unnecessary stress on the student body.

    It's just not worth it.

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

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    The Princeton home, which has five bedrooms and six bathrooms, was last on the market in 2016.

    The home of former NBC chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman is once again on the market.

    Snyderman, who left NBC News amid a controversy after she was spotted outside a New Jersey restaurant in 2014 violating a voluntary quarantine after returning from Ebola-infested West Africa, put the Princeton estate back on the market on Thursday for $2.5 million, according to its Zillow listing.

    The home was last on the market in December 2016 at the same price.

    Located on more than two acres of "rambling, leafy grounds" in Princeton, the home, which has five bedrooms and six bathrooms, has recently been "totally redone," according to its listing.

    Inside, there are comfortable living spaces throughout that are "decorated with rich finishes, including mahogany accents, pocket and telescoping doors, and wood-beamed ceilings, giving every room its own distinct feel," the listing states.

    Snyderman has an expansive master bedroom, which opens to a sunroom and contains a luxury bathroom, dressing closets, a gym, a study and a terrace.

    Other highlights of the inside of the home include: a "crowd-friendly kitchen" with high-end appliances, a finished basement with areas for homework (Snyderman has three kids) and fun, and the sunroom has a wet bar.

    Outside, on the "lushly landscape yards," there is a a playground and two outbuildings.

    The home last sold in 2006 for $2.65 million, according to Zillow. Property taxes for the home were $49,575 in 2017.

    snyder.pngNancy Snyderman, formerly NBC's chief medical correspondent, is selling her Princeton home for $2.5 million. (Courtesy of Peter Kramer | NBC) 

    Long before the Ebola controversy, Snyderman started her career on the surgical staff at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 1983 before hopping into broadcasting, which eventually led her to becoming one of the most well-known televison doctors as chief medical correspondent for ABC News for 15 years and then the chief medical editor for NBC News from 2006 until she left after the Ebola scandal in 2015.

    While reporting on Ebola in 2014, a freelance cameraman in her crew tested positive for Ebola in Liberia, and upon the crew returning, they all entered into voluntary quarantine for 21 days. After being spotted out of quarantine, Snyderman apologized, and said she "misjudged the fear of the American public." Snyderman was never infected with the disease.

    Snyderman, who has also authored five books, said she would be accepting a faculty position at a major U.S. medical school in her statement announcing she was stepping down from NBC. 

    Joe Atmonavage may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jatmonavageNJFind on Facebook

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    Ben Ruta, playing in front of his family and friends, got his first two hits of his Double A career in the win.

    Dillon Tate, the number 11 prospect in the Yankees' system, gave up just two hits in his 2018 Trenton Thunder debut Saturday.

    The Thunder cruised to a 6-2 win over Richmond, to take the third of a four-game set that finishes on Sunday.

    While Tate's line looks like the pitcher had a dominant outing, as he allowed just two hits and one run, while striking out five and walking none, the righty thought that there was room for improvement.

    "Result wise, maybe this was the best one (starts with Trenton)," Tate said. "But in terms of execution, no. A lot of fastballs were not where I wanted them to be. They were left arm side, and I was trying to get some glove side. The results ended up being good, but the execution needs to be better.

    "This is always something I can build on and get better, because it is only the first one. I have to keep making steps in the right direction."

    Tate was 7-2 last year at two levels, including three starts with the Thunder. He was the fourth overall pick in the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft, and came over to the Yankees from Texas. But Tate has struggled at times with injuries in his time in the minors.

    This spring, he was invited to major league camp for the first time, and it made an impression on him.

    Justus Sheffield, Yankees No. 3 prospect, takes the mound for Trenton Friday

    "One of the things I learned was to always stay ready," Tate said. "You never know when you be called on. Just be ready, put your work in, and don't get caught up too much with what is going on around you. Just focus on the things you can control.

    "It is a lot of basic things that they tell us, because every one that is at camp has good stuff. All those guys can pitch at the big league level, and their stuff can play at the big league level. But it is just a lot of the little things that you need to hear to keep you in check.


    Ben Ruta, playing in front of his family and friends, got his first two hits of his Double A career in the win.

    Ruta went 2-for-3, with two doubles and one RBI, to help beat the Flying Squirrels.

    "It is definitely a relief to get that first one," Ruta said. "But the at-bat that really got me on track is the second one, where the infield was in. I just tried not to do too much, and get the run in. That got me back into my left-center approach, and I took that into the rest of my at-bats, which was good."

    Ruta was in left field Saturday, after he made his Double A debut Friday night at DH. He is now 2-for-7 at the plate, and should see significant time in the outfield, with just four outfielders on the current roster. 

    Contact Sean Miller at Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean

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    C.A.R.E., this year's beneficiary, offers treatment options for those suffering from opiate and opioid addiction

    With the success of the benefit segment of the State of Robbinsville annual address since 2015, Mayor Dave Fried will continue to "Pay it Forward" this year with Community Addiction Recovery Effort (C.A.R.E.) the beneficiary this year.

    C.A.R.E. offers treatment options for those suffering from opiate and opioid addiction.

    For the past three years, Fried and Robbinsville have included this charitable effort at the annual address, which takes place on May 8 this year.

    "Robbinsville Township and the C.A.R.E. program recognize addiction as a disease, and we are committed to providing every possible resource during the short window of opportunity when the arrested addict is at his/her most receptive moment," Fried said in a statement.

    C.A.R.E. has been part of the township police's standard operating procedure since January 2016 in drug cases.

    On-duty officers coordinate an action plan to aid those arrested in the township who are struggling with such addiction at the time of arrest.

    "This is a nationwide epidemic and Robbinsville is not immune. But we are determined to do our part by providing a pathway for recovery. We can't save everyone. But we can save one. That alone will make it all worthwhile," Fried said.

    The C.A.R.E. program helps arrestees who have no current arrest warrants. Officers assist them by offering a pathway to recovery: providing resources, access to treatment, and guidance from trained addiction professionals.

    Since 2015, the State of the Township and Pay it Forward efforts have raised nearly $150,000, the town says.

    Follow on Twitter @njdotcom. Find on Facebook.

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    Gov. Phil Murphy has admitted he can't even make the payments on pensions for the teachers in our current K-12 education system; nonetheless he intends to add four more grades of "free" public education.

    At an event Thursday at Mercer County Community College, Gov. Phil Murphy promised that we New Jersey taxpayers will soon be providing every student in the state two years of community college at no cost.

    "We believe we can achieve the ultimate objective of free community college for everybody regardless of their circumstances in three years," Murphy said as he sat under a banner reading "Making Community College Tuition-Free."

    That wasn't all he promised.

    "We will also be extending pre-K to everybody in the state," he said. "When we achieve that at both ends of the spectrum, we will be the only state in the United States that will have done that."

    We will also be bankrupt.

    New Jersey leads the nation in unfunded liabilities for public-employee pensions. Murphy has already said he can't find the cash to fully fund the pensions by the end of his four-year term.

    Or in other words, he wants to add free county college in a year when he can't even fund the pensions for the teachers in the current K-12 system.

    Murphy has also said he can't find the money to fully fund the full cost of the state's K-12 school-funding formula in next year's budget.

    Yet there he was telling a sympathetic audience of professors and students that free community college and pre-K are "a right."

    No, they're not, at least not under our state constitution. The education clause of that document states that free public education must be provided only to those "between the ages of five and eighteen years."

    But that can be changed. Murphy's Democrats control both houses of the Legislature. They can put on the ballot any constitutional amendment they desire.

    If they agree with their governor, then let them put on the ballot a measure extending the education clause to cover the four more years Murphy wants to include.

    Where will they find the money? Actually, there's plenty of revenue - assuming you spend it wisely.

    Another category in which we lead the nation is in per-pupil cost for K-12 education. It costs us taxpayers about $20,000 a year on average to put a kid through public school.

    That means it costs about a quarter of a million dollars for just one kid to complete high school.  If you have four kids, Phil Murphy does, the taxpayers will shell out a million bucks educating them, assuming they attend public school. Murphy's kids don't. But most kids do.

    That's a lot of dough. And with all the technological advances we've made since Murphy and I were in school, we should be able to make education so "efficient" - if I may again cite the education clause - that we could add four more years of education with current revenues.

    That's the sort of thing voters have a right to expect from a Wall Street wizard like Murphy. What they're getting instead is empty promises.  

    A fifth grader could see that the math in his proposal doesn't add up.  He proposed Thursday to add $50 million to next year's budget as "a down payment" on tuition-free community college in three years.

    He also said that, when fully implemented three years from now, the plan would cost a mere $200 million for the 150,000 students now attending the 19 county colleges.

    Murphy didn't call on me in the brief Q-and-A session afterward. But if he had I would have quoted from the New Jersey Council of Community Colleges "Facts at a Glance" site I had open on my laptop.

    It states that the colleges enroll "over 325,000 students annually," not a mere 150,000. It also states that they paid $593,190,000 in tuition in Fiscal Year 2016, with about a third of that reimbursed by aid programs.

    That means "free" community college would cost us taxpayers  about $400 million a year. But that's only in the first year.

    Once the first two years were free, no student in his right mind would pay the approximately $12,000 a year annual tuition at Rutgers and other state colleges.

    MCCC.jpgGovernor Phil Murphy at Mercer College Thursday: He gave no plan on how to pay for "free" county college. 

    Mercer already has a partnership with Rutgers. Savvy students would save $24,000 in tuition by getting Rutgers credits for the first two years spent at colleges like Mercer.

    But that would save a lot of money for parents facing the cost of putting their kids through college.

    So the sooner the Democrats put that plan on the ballot, the better.

    I foresee just one small problem:

    There is no plan.

    ADD - OTHER PROBLEMS: There are lots of other problems with the plan Murphy wants to enact as part of the budget for Fiscal 2019, which begins July 1.

    He intends to spend $45 million subsidizing tuition for students whose annual family income is below $45,000.

    One problem: Almost all of them are already eligible to have their full tuition paid by the federal government under the Pell Grant program.

    I learned that when I got speaking after the event with College President Jianping Wang.

    Wang told me that the Pell Grants cover most students with annual incomes below $43,000. Often those students don't even know they are eligible for the grants, which cover the full tuition at the school.

    It might make sense to use some state money to hire a few counselors at each of the 19 county colleges to help students fill out the grant applications.

    But why do we need to spend $45 million duplicating a program that already pays the tuition with federal money?

    Another problem: Let's assume that by some miracle Murphy finds the money by 2021 to eliminate tuition at all the county colleges. That also eliminates most of the federal financial aid the students are now getting.

    We'd be replacing federal revenues with state tax dollars.  

    Even in theory, this plan has deep flaws. 

    And when it comes to tuition-free county colleges, Murphy is talking about the past, not the future.

    I began college in California back in 1968. I was amazed to be told by some guys I knew in the beautiful Monterey area that if I wanted to go to the nearby county college I just had to sign up and  they would let me go for free, just like it was high school.

    I ended up going to the University of California instead. There I had to pay tuition because I was from out of state. But in-state students went tuition-free both at the county and state colleges back then.

    Murphy is too smart to pretend he doesn't know why that ended. Education inflation skyrocketed, both in California and New Jersey. The simple fact is that if we had kept education costs consistent - in real, inflation-adjusted dollars since 1968 -  we could easily afford both pre-K and free county colleges with current revenues.

    Instead the education establishment and the teachers' unions turned the schools into a lifetime, full-employment system for loyal Democrats. That $20,000-a-year per-pupil cost is more than three times the amount we spent 50 years ago when adjusted for inflation.

    If Murphy's so smart, let him cure that problem by introducing efficiencies rather than tax dollars. 

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    The Manchester United midfielder scored twice in two minutes, then watched Smalling volley home the winner past Ederson in the 69th minute. Watch video


    For 45 minutes Saturday in the Manchester derby, it looked like Manchester City would end the night celebrating a third Premier League title since 2012.

    Up two goals at the half, which could have easily been four, the fans in the stands had the Etihad rocking, in anticipation of the scenes at the final whistle.

    But Paul Pogba had other ideas. The Manchester United midfielder scored twice in two minutes, then watched as Chris Smalling volleyed home the winner past Ederson in the 69th minute, to give the Red Devils a stunning 3-2 comeback win.

    Manchester United fans are hoping the win throws down a marker for the rest of this season, and next. The Red Devils are four points clear of Liverpool in second place, with a game in hand, and can end the season with 89 points (71 now with six matches to play).

    For Manchester City, it was a second disastrous loss in four days. Liverpool beat City 3-0 Wednesday, in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals. Manchester City now has to win by four goals Tuesday, in the second leg at the Etihad (2:45 p.m. EDT FS2 and, to advance into the semifinal draw Friday. A 3-0 win for City would send the tie to extra time, and possibly penalties.

    A loss to Liverpool would see the season end with a bit of a whimper for Manchester City. When the Cityzens were rampaging through the Premier League to start the season, with an 18-game winning streak to start, people were speaking of a quadruple, and that this team might be the best to ever play in England. 

    Now, even with the Carabao Cup trophy, and shortly, Premier League silverware, the season may be defined by some on the game Tuesday. Can City turn it around and advance? 

    It was sweet revenge for Pogba, who was mentioned in Pep Guardiola's press conference Friday. The City coach told reporters that Pogba had been offered to his team in the January window by agent Mino Raiola. At full time, Pogba was seen telling Manchester United's traveling fans to not listen to what they read and hear.

    With the Manchester United victory, Jose Mourinho, in his seventh season coaching in the Premier League, has not had an opposing team beat him twice in a season.

    The game should also end all debate about the best goalkeeper in England. David De Gea made some stunning saves in the final 15 minutes to preserve the win, and now has to be considered the best keeper in the world.


    Everton 0-0 Liverpool

    Bournemouth 2-2 Crystal Palace

    Brighton 1-1 Huddersfield

    Leicester 1-2 Newcastle 

    Stoke 1-2 Tottenham

    Watford 1-2 Burnley

    West Brom 1-1 Swansea 

    Man. City 2-3 Man. United

    Arsenal vs. Southampton

    Chelsea vs. West Ham

    After break, Premier League, European football head into final stretch


    Rafa Benitez has done an incredbile job this season with newly-promoted Newcastle United.

    Saturday, the Magpies moved 10 points clear of the relegation zone, and into the top half of the table, with a 2-1 win over Leicester City. The victory should see Newcastle stay in the Premier League for another year, and possibly stablilize the club if it can be sold in the summer.

    For Leicester City, it was a damaging loss for its Europa League aspirations. Combined with Burnley's late 2-1 win over Watford, and the Foxes sit six points back of seventh place.


    Stoke City's (27 points) loss to Tottenham was damaging, but then the Potters found out that almost all the teams above them picked up points. Brighton (13th, 35 points ), Swansea (15th, 32 points), Huddersfield (16th, 32 points), and Crystal Palace (17th, 31 points) all drew.

    Stoke has also played one more game than all but Crystal Palace, and are now the heavy favorites to join West Bromwich Albion in the EFL Championship next season.


    It took two missed penalties in injury time, but Wolverampton, which has been the best team all season in the EFL Championship, all but locked up a return to the Premier League.

    The Wolves held off second place Cardiff City 1-0 Friday, and sit 11 points ahead of third place Fulham with five matches to go. Ruben Neves, who is the favorite for the Player of the Year, scored from a free kick in the 67th minute.

    He then watched as Cardiff City was awarded two penalties in a minute. The first was saved, while the second clattered off the crossbar, as the Wolves celebrated what now looks like a championship in the second division of English football.

    Cardiff City has a game in hand on Fulham, and a two point lead. The top two teams are automatically promoted, while the third through six place sides go into a playoff for the final promotion spot.

    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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    Early on in any baseball season, the bullpen plays an important role, as the starting pitchers are building up their pitch limits. In the minor leagues, the relief pitchers take on added significance, with most of the younger starters on 80-85 pitch limits (and innings limits). The Trenton Thunder have been dominant for the last two seasons, mainly because...

    Early on in any baseball season, the bullpen plays an important role, as the starting pitchers are building up their pitch limits.

    In the minor leagues, the relief pitchers take on added significance, with most of the younger starters on 80-85 pitch limits (and innings limits).

    The Trenton Thunder have been dominant for the last two seasons, mainly because of the strength of their pitching staff. To start the 2018 season, the bullpen has come out of the blocks quickly, in relief of three of the shining lights in the organization.

    But take a look at the major league roster, and it is populated by many of the relievers that have come through Trenton, and Triple A Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

    In the first four games of the season with Richmond, all nine relievers have seen action for Thunder manager Jay Bell. It is something that will continue all season for Trenton, with more pitchers getting chances, as players move up and down from Tampa and Scranton.

    "I have been really impressed," Bell said. "They have done a good job so far. That day, Erik Swanson, who is a starter, did a great job piggy-backing out of the bullpen. Steven (Tarpley) had a tough time the other day, but (Kaleb) Ort and (Jordan) Foley did a good job yesterday.

    "Even though (Joe) Harvey gave up the home run, he was attacking the zone. He pitched to the scoreboard, and was fantastic. (Caleb) Frare did a good job coming in, and pounding the strike zone.

    "(Jose) Mesa did ok. He walked a couple guys, and started picking a little bit. But he is one of those guys, from being around the game as much as he has, you are going to appreciate his mound presence. I am big into that, and I love watching him out on the mound."

    Sunday, James Reeves and Andrew Schwaab got the ball in relief of Will Carter. 

    "One of the things that is our philosophy is to make sure that everybody gets regular work," Bell said. "Nobody gets left out. So you are not going to see guys that go 10 days off. They are going to pitch.

    "That is what was one of the nice things about Saturday. Dillon (Tate) did great, but we were able to get three relievers in there to have the opportunity. That way, now we can start on a regular routine."

    Paul Pogba rains on Man. City parade, as Man. United takes derby 


    Sunday, the Thunder had a chance to win their first home series of the season. But the Flying Squirrels took a 3-2 win in 10 innings, to spilt the series.

    Over the last two years, each of which ended with a trip to the Eastern League Championship Series, Trenton (2-2) has dominated at Arm & Hammer Park. The Thunder were 54-22 at home last year, as the series wins piled up each month.

    The Yankees' organization has always instilled a winning mentality in their players, and Bell thinks that learning to win that rubber game, or the pivotal fourth game of a series, is important to the growth of the players.

    "I think it is extremely important, there is no doubt about it," Bell said. "I think it is important for every player and every team, globally. That is what every organization tries to preach. 

    "You talk about the rubber game. You want to win that rubber game. You want to win that last game. You go away feeling good about yourself. Those getaway days, no matter if you are leaving town, or just ending a series against a team, it is always good game to win.

    "I think that is just the basic idea. You don't talk about going three and one, or two and one in a series, it is about winning a series. Is it important? Yes, it is something you strive to do. If you can play .667 baseball for the season, you are going to win a championship.

    "We have had good success here, and in Tampa last year. These guys are used to winning, they like to win, and hopefully we can continue that tradition."

    Contact Sean Miller at Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean

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    Consider adopting one of these homeless dogs and cats.

    The United States Postal Service wants to share these tips on pet safety for mail carriers.

    * If a carrier delivers mail or packages to your front door, place your dog in a separate room and close that door before opening the front door. Some dogs burst through screen doors or plate-glass windows to attack visitors. Dog owners should keep the family pet secured.

    * Parents should remind their children and other family members not to take mail directly from carriers in the presence of the family pet, as the dog may view the person handing mail to a family member as a threatening gesture.

    * The Postal Service places the safety of its employees as a top priority. If a carrier feels threatened by a dog, or if a dog is loose or unleashed, the owner may be asked to pick up mail at a Post Office until the carrier is assured the pet has been restrained. If a dog is roaming the neighborhood, the pet owner's neighbors also may be asked to pick up their mail at the area's Post Office.

    Such safe practices also apply to any package delivery services and most anyone who comes to your door. Take a moment to be sure about safety.

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

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    Some scars remain, others from April 9, 1968 are invisible.

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    A host of Top-20 matchups are among this week's can't-miss games

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    He was charged with manslaughter after turning himself in a few days after the fight

    A man facing a manslaughter charge after a fight at a Hamilton St. Patrick's party turned deadly will be detained in jail until his trial, a Mercer County Superior Court judge ruled Monday. 

    What words were exchanged or how the fight between victim Jeffery Pageau, 59, and suspect Howard Buckalew, 52, is still unknown - even though 13 witnesses gave statements to police after the incident.

    Police and prosecutors have said the fight started at home near Pageau's on Hartman Drive, spilled outside and ended with Buckalew on top of Pageau, slamming his head on a concrete patio.

    A week after the March 24 fight, Pageau died from his injuries at a local hospital. 

    Buckalew turned himself in to Hamilton police on March 26, was charged with assault, and later charged with aggravated manslaughter when Pageau succumbed to his injuries. 

    "There was a lot of confusion that evening and a lot of alcohol," Kendall Murphy, Buckalew's attorney said in court, arguing for his release pending trial. 

    St. Patrick's assault victim was a retired family man who loved pets

    Witness statements said Buckalew left the party and returned a few times throughout the day. Some statements observed that he had been "acting antsy and aggressive" during the party. 

    While the topic of the fight was not discussed in court Monday, Buckalew does claim he was acting in self-defense, Murphy said. 

    The defense attorney also argued that Buckalew be given home detention, as he is the primary caretaker of his 16-year-old daughter and his 80-year-old father. 

    Because alcohol was a catalyst in the fight, Mercer County Judge Robert Susswein decided detention was the safest for the community.

    "While it wasn't intentional, it was a reckless crime," Susswein added. "There is no doubt this is a homicide case, because the ultimate result was death."

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


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