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Central Jersey News from the Times of Trenton

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    Following the free-for-all initial election on May 8, the field of candidates in Trenton has been considerably reduced.

    If you are a registered voter in Trenton, it's time to go to the polls again on June 12 for the run-off election to decide who will be your next mayor and council person.

    And if you think your votes doesn't count, think again. In a strictly municipal election, voter turnout tends to be low and those who take the time to vote can have a big impact.

    Following the free-for-all initial election on May 8, the field of candidates has been considerably reduced. Seven people were vying to replace Mayor Eric Jackson, who decided not to seek a second term.

    When the dust cleared, Paul Perez, a city businessman who also runs a nonprofit and was an unsuccessful mayoral candidate in 2014, had the biggest tally at 2,582 votes. That amounted to 29 percent of all votes cast in the crowded mayoral race.

    Behind him was Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, who clocked in with 1,841 votes or 21 percent of the votes cast.

    Since neither Perez or Gusciora received more than 50 percent of the vote, they will face off against each other in the run-off election this month.

    A guide to those unusual May elections

    However, coming in third place was Walker Worthy Jr., who received 1,653 votes. Had Worthy, an educator and community activist, gotten just 189 more votes, he would have bumped out Gusciora for a spot on the June 12 ballot.

    There were similarly close races for the council seats. In the four ward races, no one reached the magic 50 percent mark to be elected outright, so the top two vote-getters in each ward will face off again in the run-off election.

    In the West Ward, newcomer Robin Vaughn is running against Council President Zachary Chester, who came in 404 votes behind Vaughn in the initial contest. And Chester squeaked past third-place finisher Shirley Gaines by a mere 14 votes.

    In the other council races, incumbent George Muschal will face Damian Malave in the South Ward; incumbent Marge Caldwell-Wilson takes on Algernon Ward Jr. in the North Ward; and newcomers Taiwanda Terry-Wilson and Joseph A. Harrison battle it out in the East Ward.

    The three at-large council seats were filled in the May 8 election because the top vote-getter, Kathy McBride, managed to notch the necessary percentage of votes to avoid a run-off. That enabled the next two finishers, Jerell Blakeley and Santiago Rodriguez, to win at-large seats.

    If there is one thing these municipal races illustrate, it is that every vote counts. Sadly, only 23-percent of the city's registered voters took the time to vote. And that's down from the 26-percent who voted in 2014.

    We urge all eligible voters to do their civic duty and go to the polls not only for the June 12 Trenton municipal run-off election, but also for the New Jersey primary on Tuesday.

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


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    Another man walked off his job at McDonald's to escape from detention, authorities said

    Escaping was a little easier for Albert Elias Community Home resident Dyshawn Williams than two other men who also fled the facility in Bordertown Township on May 3.

    Almuqtadir Padgett broke a window in his room and fled, according to the affidavit of probable cause for his case.

    Lonell Carruthers ran down a flight of stairs before kicking a door open and running, according to a similar affidavit for his arrest.

    As for Williams, he just walked away from his job at a McDonald's in Bordentown.

    Williams wasn't there when staffers at the community home showed up to pick him up from work, according to the affidavit in his case.

    The three men, all from Newark, were arrested during a fugitive sweep in Newark on May 24, wanted on charges of escape from detention.

    Carruthers and Williams, both 22, were also wanted for a carjacking. Details of that crime were not immediately clear. Padgett is 20.

    "We're aware of these escapes, and I've scheduled a meeting this month with the administration over at the facility to improve communication about these types of incidents in the future," Bordentown Township chief Brian Pesce said.

    The police chief said the carjacking did not occur in Bordentown Township or Bordentown city.

    The juvenile facility is run by the state's Juvenile Justice Commission, which made no public alert about the escape.

    The three young men have a pre-indictment conference in Burlington County Superior Court on July 11, court records show.

    Joe Brandt can be reached at jbrandt@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JBrandt_NJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips 


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    Highlights from the state tournament.


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    A total of 20 former N.J. track and field stars will compete.


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    Feds say Candace Gottlieb, 59, assisted her son Tyler, 27, in the cross-country drug trafficking operation.

    Federal authorities have charged a Cherry Hill woman and her son with operating a drug dealing operation that has connections to California and dealt in several drugs, including fentanyl and heroin.

    The woman, Candace Gottlieb, 59, was a longtime diving coach at The College of New Jersey in Ewing. The college has terminated her employment following her arrest.

    She and her son, Tyler Gottlieb, 27, were arrested on June 1. 

    CGottlieb.jpgCandace Gottlieb 

    Authorities charged the mother and son with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced.

    The case began in March with a random Transportation Security Administration (TSA) bag check at Philadelphia International Airport. Tyler was about to board a flight to California when agents discovered $51,000 in cash in his checked bag, which led them to an additional $16,000 in his luggage. 

    Tyler initially told investigators he was headed to Las Vegas to party.

    Based on the cash, court records show, authorities used an undercover informant who ended up gaining the trust of the mother and son duo, and acquiring about 802 fake prescription pills, 200 of which contained heroin and fentanyl via transactions.

    According to the statement from the undercover agent in the affidavit, Candace regularly communicated and interacted with the federal agent, counting out pills to him and discussing the family business. 

    During one of their interactions, Candace told the agent, "He's awfully lucky he's got a mom that does this s--- for him," according to a recorded conversations mentioned in the affidavit. 

    Investigators say they uncovered an alleged trafficking operation that at times sent drug packages through the mail, including 40 pounds of marijuana sent by to New Jersey.

    Candace was arrested at her Cherry Hill home, where police seized approximately 6,600 additional counterfeit prescription pills suspected of containing fentanyl and heroin, along with cocaine and marijuana packaged for distribution.

    Investigators also located and seized two handguns from inside the home and approximately $2,000 in cash, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

    The next day, authorities went to another residence connected to Tyler where they seized six more firearms, including an AK-47 assault rifle, a shotgun, 1,000 rounds of ammunition, high-capacity ammunition magazines, and two handguns.

    Candace appeared in federal court in Camden on Tuesday. Tyler is detained in California and awaits 

    In a statement, The College of New Jersey said Gottlieb was a part-time diving coach at the school, and that they had no reason to believe has no reason to believe "was doing anything on TCNJ's campus other than the duties for which she was hired."

    TCNJ was not contacted by law enforcement as part of its investigation, a college spokesman said.

    Gottlieb coached at the school for about 25 years and has been involved in the competitive diving community for many years.

    According to several diving sites, she's affiliated with Blue Dolphin Diving and the South Jersey Diving Club and is a former vice president of junior diving for United States Diving.

    Taylor Tiamoyo Harris may be reached at tharris@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @ladytiamoyo.

    Find NJ.com on Facebook  

     

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    Mercer County Prosecutors said they would rather focus their time on cases of violent crime and murder

    The Mercer County Prosecutor's Office announced Wednesday it will be dropping most of the remaining drug and related charges against Edward "NJ Weedman" stemming from a 2016 raid on his Trenton restaurant.

    What is not dismissed will be downgraded to municipal court, where jail time is unlikely.

    But Forchion's not seeing this as all good news. 

    Late last month, Forchion was was found not guilty by a jury on third-degree witness tampering charges - a case that also grew from the drug raid.

    The marijuana activist spent about 15 months detained in the Mercer County jail during two trials, and was set free hours after he was acquitted.

    The prosecutor's office said the decision to not move forward in prosecuting Forchion came after considering the shift in climate of marijuana legislation in New Jersey.

    "They're about 10 years too late," Forchion said of a change in public opinion of marijuana. 

    The office also considered the changes in law regarding the state's bail reform - an issue Forchion railed against during his time in jail.

    "I'm half-way happy and half-way mad," he said Wednesday night. "Now the state just drops the charges, and I've already spent 16 months in  jail. I had 42 charges against me total. It was a campaign of terror by the police department."

    NJ Weedman spent 400-plus days in jail. Turns out he was not guilty

    "These factors call for an adjustment in the way the office most appropriately uses its resources and assistance from other law enforcement agencies in order to prioritize detention cases such as murders, attempted murders and violent crime," the prosecutor's statement said.

    "The fact that the defendant has served more than a year in prison while these cases were pending was also taken into consideration," it continued.

    In all, Forchion had been indicted in 2016 and 2017 and was facing 11 charges related to narcotics dealings and cyber harassment. The prosecutors office has dismissed most of the charges, and downgraded five to "disorderly persons offenses," all of which will be tried in Trenton Municipal Court. 

    The state is currently wresting with ideas of how to deal with the hundreds of thousands of people who have been charged with marijuana crimes. Some legislators are considering expunging low-level convictions, but aren't yet sure of the logistics. 

    "After a review of the defendant's pending cases," the prosecutor's office said in its statement, "We feel the downgrade and dismissal of the charges is an appropriate resolution."

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


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    Matthew Bailly, a retired officer, started telling the State Trooper about how he helped deliver a baby 27 years ago as a rookie cop.

    A New Jersey State Trooper stops hundreds of cars yearly. But what are the chances that you'll pull over the guy who helped give you life? Well, it happened to a trooper a few days ago.

    On Friday, Trooper Michael Patterson pulled over Matthew Bailly in Kingwood Township for tinted windows. 

    Screen Shot 2018-06-06 at 3.11.58 PM.png(Right to left) State Trooper Michael Patterson and Matthew Bailly, a former police officer.  

    They started talking and Bailly said he was a retired Piscataway police officer. Patterson, a Piscataway native, told the retired cop he was from the same town.

    Interest piqued, Bailly asked the trooper where he grew up. Poe Place, Patterson said.

    That was a familiar street to the longtime cop. When he was a rookie, he got called to a house on that street 27 years ago and helped to deliver a baby.

    After Bailly told his story, Patterson reintroduced himself. "My name is Michael Patterson, sir," he told him. "Thank you for delivering me."

    On Oct. 5, 1991, Patterson's mother, Karen, had rushed home from shopping and found that she was in labor. Her husband, Bobby, took her into the house and called police and their doctor.

    Bailly responded, and the Patterson's doctor talked him through the delivery. 

    After that revelation about their connection, Patterson delivered Bailly a first-class handshake instead of a summons.

    And later, Trooper Patterson and his mom visited Bailly and his wife to revisit a key moment in the law enforcement officers' lives.

    Taylor Tiamoyo Harris may be reached at tharris@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @ladytiamoyoFind NJ.com on Facebook  


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    Jonathan Loaisiga is putting together a 2018 campaign that will start to get him noticed by fans of the New York Yankees. The number 13 prospect (soon to be number 12 once Gleyber Torres officially comes off the list), who is on the Yankees 40-man roster, is poised to become a household name in the Bronx. Loaisiga was supposed to pitch...

    Jonathan Loaisiga is putting together a 2018 campaign that will start to get him noticed by fans of the New York Yankees.

    The number 13 prospect (soon to be number 12 once Gleyber Torres officially comes off the list), who is on the Yankees 40-man roster, is poised to become a household name in the Bronx.

    Loaisiga was supposed to pitch Saturday, but had his start pushed back to Tuesday night in Trenton against Richmond, in the first of three games with the Flying Squirrels. He was once again dominant, as he has been at two levels this season.

    The 5'11" righty went five innings of one hit ball, and struck out eight, to help the Thunder to an 8-1 victory. Loaisiga is now 3-0 with the Thunder, and 6-0 overall, with a 2.30 ERA.

    More impressive is his strikeouts to walks ratio. Loaisiga has 54 punch-outs in 2018, while issuing just four bases on balls. He has walked more than one batter in just one of his nine starts in 2018: a no-decision against Harrisburg on May 3, won by Trenton 3-1. Going back to last season, Loaisiga has 87 strikeouts, and just seven walks, in 75.2 innings of work.

    "I always try to focus on the strike zone," Loaisiga said through Thunder defensive coach Raul Dominguez. "No matter if it is during a side. or any other work, I try to attack the strike zone, and throw strikes."

    He missed a start in mid-May with a blister, but has picked up right where he was before the stint on the 7-Day DL. Loaisiga is 2-0 since his return. He 7-1 overall since coming back from 2016 Tommy John surgery last June.

    "Right now, thank God, I feel 100 percent," Loaisiga said. 

    Which new food items have fans flocking to 1911 Smokehouse stand?

    Thunder manager Jay Bell continues to be impressed by Loaisiga.

    "He has been really good," Bell said. "He is deserving of all the accolades. I really enjoy watching him. He has a plus fastball. The curveball is terrific, and that changeup is really good too.

    "It is just fun to watch good pitchers pitch, and he is a very, very good pitcher. The sky is the limit for him. If he stays healthy, he is going to be something to watch."

    Loaisiga has shown little effects of the Tommy John surgery, something that former Trenton pitcher and current Yankee Jordan Montgomery will have to undergo shortly. Loaisiga has worked hard to have a repeatable motion on all of his different pitches, something that has led to his extraordinary numbers since his return.

    "Greg Pavlick (Yankees rehab coach for the pitchers) deserves a ton of credit," Bell said. "Because he puts in the time with the rehab pitchers.

    "The only way I can answer that is what I assume. I can only tell you what I see, based upon the actions of the hitters. I am certain that all three of those pitches come out in the same spot.

    "So it is repeatable, and all the pitches seem like they come out in the same spot, so the hitters have a tough time making adjustments to those. It would be fun to stand in on him. Of course I would hope I could get out of the way if he did let one go.

    "It is cool to see a young guy that is as dominating as him. I would love to see him pitch a long career, even after the Tommy John. Plus, he is a great kid, to go along with it."

    "I know that I have to keep the same release point, with all the pitches," Loaisiga said. "I know the hitters are always looking for that, so I have to keep working on the release point."

    Contact Sean Miller at seanmillertrentontimes@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean


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    Michael Siriani has stolen from this Burlington County Wawa before

    Michael Siriani's been in prison before -- at least twice, state records show - and he's likely going back for a long time.

    Siriani, 59, admitted that he robbed a Wawa at gunpoint last year, getting away with a chicken Caesar wrap and $162. He calls it "the biggest mistake of my life."

    siriani.jpgMichael Siriani 

    In Superior Court in Mount Holly Tuesday, Siriani pleaded guilty to robbery as part of a plea deal in which prosecutors will recommend that a judge sentence Siriani to 20 years in state prison, serving 17 before parole eligibility, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina announced.

    "I wish I could just give back (the money), Siriani said in court, according to the prosecutor's office.

    The Aug. 6, 2017 incident involving the Caesar wrap was actually the second time Siriani took from the same Wawa, on Route 206 in Springfield Township. Siriani had also been at the store in 2006, where he committed a theft.

    In last year's crime, Siriani entered the store at around 1 a.m., grabbed the wrap and went to the cashier. He pulled out a gun, demanded cash and fled.

    When he was arrested a few days later, he told a State Police detective that he was going to get married in three weeks. 

    Due to his criminal history, which also includes a 1995 armed robbery, Siriani faced a longer prison term if he had gone to trial and been found guilty. Judge Charles Delehey will sentence Siriani on July 19.

    siriani2.jpgMichael Siriani robbing the store in 2017 in this photo made public by authorities. 
    Joe Brandt can be reached at jbrandt@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JBrandt_NJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips 

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    The Urban Enterprise Zone designation cuts the sales tax in these New Jersey cities in half, boosting their ability to compete for customers with their wealthier suburbs.

    In a welcome move, Gov. Phil Murphy has given new hope to five of the most economically stressed cities in the state.

    The law he signed last week restores the Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) program in Trenton, as well as in Bridgeton, Camden, Newark and Plainfield.

    The designation cuts the sales tax in those cities in half, boosting their ability to compete for customers with their wealthier suburbs. It also offers other benefits for business owners, such as a break on energy taxes, a subsidy for unemployment insurance and tax credits for some hires.

    The original UEZ program dates back more than three decades. Beginning the original five cities, it expanded outward to cover some 6,800 businesses in 32 communities.

    But when the program expired last year, then-Gov. Chris Christie opted not to renew, despite eloquent and well-reasoned pleas from both the Legislature and the New Jersey League of Municipalities.

    Phil Murphy agrees to reduced sales tax in these 5 N.J. cities

    The league called the incentive program "a vital tool in the tool kit of local leaders working to bring their communities back from decades of decline."

    The designation served as an important economic driver, the league pointed out, creating employment opportunities for city residents and contributing to the cities' tax base.

    In Trenton, the UEZ covered a 2.5-mile commercial and industrial area; the city's website hailed the initiative as "a business success in the heart of Capitol City."

    More than 900 local businesses signed on over the decades, leading to significant improvements in the city's business district.

    The law Murphy signed, which has already taken effect, reinstates the program for five years for the original participating cities, and extends it through 2023 in other areas where it was scheduled to expire before then.

    One laudable facet of the measure requires the state to issue a report evaluating whether the program should continue, be amended, or cease to exist.

    Some skeptics scoff that even the heftiest tax break won't lure shoppers to downtown businesses that are struggling to survive. Others worry that the decreased revenue will have a devastating effect on the state's budget.

    But we side with the lawmakers who voted overwhelming not to take the program off life support.

    "Urban Enterprise Zones have been an integral part of urban revitalization for many years now," said Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson). "Extending their designation will help many cities remain economically competitive while spurring job growth and economic development."

    The bottom line is: Healthier cities make for stronger states. Giving our urban areas a hand up makes good sense, as well as good policy.

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

     

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    What folks wore in the Garden State.

    The NPD Group, an American market research company, notes that "No other industry changes as rapidly as fashion. What's hot today is blase tomorrow. Innovation becomes retro. Seasons change. Hemlines rise and fall ... and so do sales figures. A celebrity makes a fashion statement on the red carpet and suddenly financial statements are covered in red."

    callahan's fort lee 70s VBC.jpgMenswear in the '70s ... when print was king. 

    I might add that it's not only celebrities on the red carpet who make fashion statements. Politicians, musicians and athletes heavily influence what the rest of us choose to wear. And, there is a uniquely 21st century movement that allows others to influence styles and make fashion trends almost instantaneous: social media and the internet.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    AdWeek points out "If you see a blogger wearing an outfit you love on Instagram, you can find and purchase the items right from your phone and have them delivered to your door thanks to shoppable applications that integrate with social media, like rewardStyle, ShopStyle and LIKEtoKNOW.it."

    In this gallery, we look at apparel from the past, as worn by folks in New Jersey. Some people in the gallery don statement pieces, others wear that which was strictly utilitarian; all make for interesting viewing.

    And here are some links to other similar galleries.

    Vintage photos of what N.J. people wore

    More vintage photos of what N.J. people wore

    Vintage photos of fashions and styles in N.J.

    Vintage photos of styles and fashions in N.J.

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


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    As turtles reach their peak time for laying eggs, a local animal control officer advises drivers to be cautious

    Turtles are on the move for nesting season, and it's become evident in one town where police have received an influx of calls about turtles crossing the road and appearing in residents' yards.

    Some residents have noticed an uptick in the number of turtles crossing roadways in Bordentown Township -- several calls came to Bordentown's animal control unit in the last two weeks, prompting local police to issue a warning on Facebook Wednesday morning to keep an eye out for the reptiles.

    "I've gotten about 10 calls in the last week, but not a lot of people stop and call for turtles, unfortunately," Animal Control Officer Nicole Bencivengo said Wednesday afternoon in a phone interview. "I've seen people in front of me run over a turtle before. I don't understand how you can hit a two-foot snapping turtle and keep going."

    June is the peak time for female turtles to emerge from the marshes, seeking warm ground for laying their eggs, according to Conserve Wildlife NJ, a Trenton-based conservation organization. During this nesting season, turtles are most likely to cross roads in areas near rivers and marshes.

    "Speeding traffic and slow-moving turtles don't mix," the township police said on Facebook.

    Bordentown is situated near the Delaware River, making it a prime spot for turtle habitats, police said. Bencivengo said there is a high population of map turtles along the river, but snapping turtles, box turtles and painted turtles are also common in the area.

    Bencivengo said in a public Facebook video, "Turtles are doing their thing. We're getting a lot of calls about turtles in people's yards, in the street. Female turtles are getting up, they're starting to lay eggs. They usually lay their eggs in the same place, so you should be accustomed to seeing them every year."

    Bencivengo said the right thing to do is to move the turtle towards the direction he or she is going, and if a turtle appears injured, contact local animal control or a wildlife rehabilitation center.

    What to do when you find a turtle...in this case a snapping turtle. Always remember to move the turtle towards the direction he/she is going. If the turtle appears injured contact local animal control or a local wildlife rehabilitation center.

    Posted by Nicole Bencivengo on Tuesday, June 5, 2018


    "If you're gonna move him out of the way, don't take him a block a way, don't take him to the park around the corner, don't take him to Aunt Mary's house because she has a pretty pond -- because they're going to take your whole lifetime to get back to where they're used to," she said in the video.

    She added, "They will go back and forth over the same areas again and again, even if it used to be a cornfield and now it's a housing development. It's so important not to move a turtle, because he knows where he's going. I can't stress that enough."

    Gianluca D'Elia may be reached at gdelia@njadvancemedia.comFollow him on Twitter @gianluca_delia. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    Major shakeup in NJ.com's latest rankings.


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    Meet the 28 players from New Jersey selected in the 2018 MLB Draft.


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    So the question is, how have the Yankees become so good at finding and developing pitchers?

    There is a decidedly pitching heavy feel to the Yankees top 30 prospect list.

    Of the top 19 players on the list, 16 are pitchers. A closer look shows that 15 are right handed arms, with Justus Sheffield, the number two prospect in the organization, the lone lefty in that group. Estevan Florial (number one, CF), Thairo Estrada (number eight, SS/2B), and Billy McKinney (number 16, OF) are the three position players in the top 19.

    In all, 22 of the 30 make their living as pitchers. For a long time, the Yankees minor league system had fallen on hard times. But one look at the major league roster, which has almost half its players homegrown, will show just how far this organization has come in the last decade.

    Many of the pitchers that are in Trenton currently will get a chance to play in the major leagues, whether with the Yankees, or with another organization via trade or Rule 5 Draft. The current Thunder rotation has four of the top 13 prospects: Domingo Acevedo (seven), Dillon Tate (nine), Jonathan Loaisiga (12), and Trevor Stephan (13). 

    Acevedo and Loaisiga are both on the Yankees 40-man roster, and could be called up at any point.

    So the question is, how have the Yankees become so good at finding and developing pitchers?

    Thunder manager Jay Bell gives a lot of credit to many in the organization.

    Yankees top prospect Jonathan Loaisiga shines again for Thunder

    "We have developed some that we have drafted, but we have also made some really good trades," Bell said. "So you have to give a ton of credit to the amateur scouts, first of all, but also to the pro guys too.

    "Those guys are out there beating the bushes, and watching for these guys. Whenever you see a guy like (Stephen) Tarpley, and what he is developing into, or a guy like Justus Sheffield, or Swanny (Erik Swanson), there is a lot to be said for those pro guys getting out there and paying attention, and really evaluating the pitchers extremely well.

    "There is more too it than that. Not only do they pitch well, but the quality of the people themselves is phenomenal. Again, it is easy to pull for guys like Loaisiga, Tarpley, Ort, Brody Koerner, and the rest of the staff. They are just good guys to go along with it. It is fun to see these guys doing as well as they are doing."

    With the Thunder battling for first place in the Eastern League Eastern Division for the third season running, the pitching has once again been the backbone of success.

    It has been a great two-plus year run up and down the organization, with championships and division titles on multiple levels. Much of that has to do with the quality of pitching in the organization.

    Trenton sits at the top of the EL in shutouts (five), least losses (23), least hits allowed (386), least runs allowed (188), least earned runs (159), least home runs allowed (26), and strikeouts (517), and is second in wins (34), ERA (2.87), and WHIP (1.20).

    But Bell also has seen some players come back to Trenton from Triple A Scranton Wiles-Barre, as players in the major leagues like Greg Bird have started to return from injuries.

    "I can't say this enough times," Bell said. "We are in the position we are in, in large part due to those pitchers. Now our defense has done a great job too. The quality of players that we are getting as well helps, because guys are coming back healthy, and it is pushing players back to us.

    "It is awfully nice to have Billy Fleming, Zack Zehner, and Ryan McBroom (all came down from Triple A Scranton). Those guys are pro hitters. They are pro players. They have been at this level and have succeeded at this level.

    "It is not a shock at all to see them having success."

    NOTES:

    The Yankees made three moves before the game Thursday with regards to the Thunder.

    Pitcher Ryan Bollinger was activated from the 7-Day DL, while infielder Rey Navarro went on the 7-Day DL with an elbow injury.

    Infielder Mandy Alvarez was transferred from Tampa to Trenton, to replace Navarro.

    Trenton fell 6-3 to the Flying Squirrels, to lose the series. 

    Contact Sean Miller at seanmillertrentontimes@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean


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    The county anticipates that new improvements to the small airport will boost tourism and travel in the area

    Plans for the future of the Trenton-Mercer Airport that caused debate between residents and county officials were accepted and approved Thursday afternoon, Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes announced.

    The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) accepted the county's Master Plan and approved their Airport Layout Plan, which call for a new air carrier terminal, as well as re-paving the taxiway and runway and upgrading the lighting.

    "We're thrilled that the FAA concurs with our blueprint for the airport over the next 15 to 20 years," Mr. Hughes said in the press release. "We look forward to working with the FAA as we move toward starting the process of designing a new passenger terminal and initiating other airport projects."

    -6fe48ae580648308.jpgWater cannons welcome an inaugural Frontier Airlines flight on Oct. 6, 2017. (Michael Mancuso | NJ.com)

    The master plan does not get an official approval from the FAA because it's a local governing document. However, the agency does approve pieces of it, as well as the airport layout plan.

    Then, the master plan gets returned to the local officials with recommendations.

    Hughes said in October 2017 that an upgrade to the airport would be "one of the most significant infrastructure improvements by the county in many years," and that it would expand travel and tourism in the area.

    The county intends to replace the existing 25,000 square-foot terminal with one that is between 110,000 and 125,000 square feet, because the current terminal has become outdated and cannot accommodate the airport's growing customer base, Hughes said.

    The county has been careful to note that any upgrades would occur inside the airport's current footprint, and not an "expansion," and the layout plan's approval is not a go-ahead to start construction.

    But some residents have not been as optimistic as the county, especially ones who live nearby in Ewing.

    They've complained that there would be more noise from increased flights by bigger planes. Some also took issue with the county's plan to remove trees from the area around the airport and acquire ownership of 41 homes near the runways -- the county said the latter part was voluntary, and residents' homes would not be condemned if they decided to stay. 

    With approval for the airport layout plan, the county will now take the next step for the airport plan: a "scoping process" with the FAA to agree on the terminal design and construction projects on the terminal and taxiways.

    The FAA is funding 90 percent of the project, according to the county.

    Gianluca D'Elia may be reached at gdelia@njadvancemedia.comFollow him on Twitter @gianluca_delia. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    A bipartisan bill making its way through the New Jersey Legislature would mandate that the boards now known as the boards of chosen freeholders be replaced with a name more easily identified with its function: board of county commissioner. State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-Morris County) is co-sponsoring a bill that would mandate that the boards now known as the boards of chosen freeholders be replaced with a name more easily identified with its function: board of county commissioner. (NJ Advance Media file photo)

    It's time to give freeholders the boot.

    Not the individuals, of course, the men and women we elect to keep New Jersey's counties functioning. We're talking about the title, a hold-over many centuries past its shelf life whose meaning is offensive at worst, obscure at best.

    A bipartisan bill making its way through the state Legislature would mandate that the boards now known as the boards of chosen freeholders be replaced with a name more easily identified with its function: board of county commissioner.

    The original term harks back to the state's first Constitution, drafted in 1776, which declared that a county representative must be worth "fifty pounds proclamation money, clear estate in the same and have resided in the county in which they claim a vote for twelve months immediately preceding the election."

    Historians note that "freeholders" were defined as white males who owned land and were free of debt; "clear estate" means owning a property outright.

    Will the term 'freeholder' have a future in New Jersey?

    Like Bruce Springsteen, the Jersey Shore and traffic jug handles, the term is unique to the Garden State.

    Today's freeholders oversee their county's budgets, making decisions on jails, roads, social services, parks and other matters. In addition, they manage the county's prosecutor's office and its health department.

    It's an important job, yet we're certain not one in 10 Garden State resident could accurately pinpoint what a freeholder is, or what he or she does.

    And that's why the measure co-sponsored by state senators Joe Pennacchio (R-Morris County), Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May County) and Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth) makes abundant sense.

    The mandatory changes the lawmakers are promoting would do away with an arcane title most associated with male property-holders at a time when many women (and mortgage-holders) are exercising their voices on the county level.

    Calling their elected officials "county commissioners" would also make it clearer to the electorate what role these women and men play, and what qualifications voters should be looking for in a candidate.

    Not everybody is on board with the name change. The Southern New Jersey Freeholders' Association and the New Jersey Association of Counties have gone on record opposing it, noting the expense of changing stationery, signage and ballots.

    Additionally, several freeholders have expressed dismay at what they see as pandering to political correctness -- or wasting lawmakers' time on nonsense.

    But as the need for transparency in local government grows, making this relatively minor change would have a major impact on residents' civic savvy.

    Names matter. As Pennacchio says, re-dubbing freeholders county commissioners would "bring county government into the 21st Century."

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


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    Ivy Rookie of the Year helps Yale win national championship

    Like most college freshmen, Chris Fake wasn't sure what to expect when he arrived on the campus of Yale University. The men's lacrosse coaching staff wasn't exactly sure either.

    It didn't take long for everyone to realize the Hun School graduate would fit in just fine. More than fine, actually.

    flake.jpgChris Flake 

    Fake, who turned 19 last month, earned Ivy League Rookie of the Year status, was Second Team United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association All-American, and most importantly, played a key role as the team went on to beat Duke and win the NCAA National Championship Memorial Day. He also made the All-Tournament team.

    (Robert Mooney, a junior from Princeton and Lawrenceville School graduate, is also on the Yale squad)

    Defensive coordinator Andrew Baxter only saw Fake on film before he arrived at school. Originally committed early to the University of Virginia, Fake opted out following a coaching change down there.

    "I had heard great things about him,'' said Baxter, who has coached on the collegiate level 16 years. "(Hun) Coach M.V. Whitlow told us we had to take a look at him, and it didn't take that long to realize how good he was. The impact he had I'd say is pretty unusual. We've had freshmen play in the past, but not an All-American. At this level, especially on defense, that's pretty crazy.''

    A year ago Fake had completed his fourth season as a varsity starter at the Princeton private school. He was a USA Today All-American along with several other honors. Just as accomplished academically, he made National Honor Society, Cum Laude Society, and captained the lacrosse team and football team.

    Still...

    "I was not expecting much,'' said Fake, now 6-foot-1, 215 pounds. "I wasn't sure if I was going to play; I wasn't sure of a lot of things. Someone was injured and I got an early opportunity to play, and I tried to make the most of it. The game is so much faster, you're thinking so much faster. Honestly, probably the hardest part of the transition from high school is that the ball moves so much faster and you have to be so much more aware.''

    Playing organized lacrosse in Allentown since third grade, Fake made the switch to defense in fifth grade. Eight years ago a summer team needed a long pole and Fake obliged. Aside from a couple of goals in high school, his scoring days were over.

    "I loved scoring points when I was an attackman,'' he said, "but when I started playing defense I kind of fell in love with it because how physical you get to be, and how much you get to hit people. And you never really have that stress of, 'I have to score points' during a game.''

    Yale finished 17-3, getting one of those losses back by beating Cornell in the NCAAs. Cornell had beaten the Bulldogs for the Ivy title. Their other losses were by one point to Villanova and Bucknell.

    "We knew we were special,'' Fake said about his team. "But the coaches kept us humble, which I think was the most important part of our success.''

    They faced No. 2 Albany in the national semis, which had two of the top attackmen in the country. Combined they had one assist.

    "His focus on the details and his ability to apply coaching is something I've never seen before,'' Baxter said about the youngster. "He gets very dialed in without getting nervous or anxious about what he needs to do, which is very rare for a kid his age. Really, it's incredible.''

    Despite a work load that for now appears to be a major in chemical Engineering, Fake spent time before and after practice working with attackmen, and early on it was senior Ben Reeves who alerted the staff on how good this kid looked. That's saying a lot, since Reeves last week was awarded the Tewaaraton Award as the country's best lacrosse player.

    "They would go one-on-one, and after practice he'd come up to us and say, 'Chris Fake is pretty good. He's probably the best defenseman I've ever played against.' We were like, 'OK.' Ben has played against some high-level players, like on the world team, but he'd say, 'This kid is unbelievable, coach.' "

    "He's a great teammate,'' Baxter added. "I've never heard him complain about anything. He showed up every day, working on his game. He's just a sheer asset. He stands for everything that we do as a program.'' 


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    College professors and social media don't always mix.


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    A look at the matchups for the state championships


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