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Central Jersey News from the Times of Trenton

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    The Croatian side has played the equivalent of an extra match at the tournament, with three straight extra time games in the knockout stage.

    Saturday, the two losing teams from the midweek World Cup semifinals took to the pitch for one final time, in the third place match.

    Belgium, powered by a fourth minute goal from Thomas Meunier, and one in the 82nd minute from Eden Hazard, cruised to an easy win over England.


    Belgium 2-0 England


    Eden Hazard, Belgium

    He was again the best player on the pitch, and ended his 2018 World Cup in style. Hazard had the second goal, and was the Man of the Match with an 8.51 rating.


    The 2018 Belgian side will go down as the best in the nation's history, after they beat the 1986 side's fourth place finish at a World Cup. Hazard put himself in position to win the Golden Ball, although he probably still will finish behind Luka Modric and Kylian Mbappe.

    For England, it is a disappointing end to a tournament that galvanized a country. But in two games against Belgium, and one against Croatia, the Three Lions lost to the better team each time. Can Gareth Southgate integrate more of the younger players, who have England as the reigning Under-17 and Under-20 World Cup champions, into the squad?

    World Cup Semifinal: Football is not coming home, as Croatia heads to final


    The 2018 World Cup will go down as the best in the history of the tournament.

    The final match of 64 will take place Sunday, with arguably the two teams that have played the best football at the tournament.

    France has gotten stronger with every match, conserving its energy and strength for the knockout stage games. Croatia started off the tournament on fire, then willed its way through the three knockout round matches to the final, coming from behind in all three.

    Croatia has also played three straight extra time matches, winning two on penalties and the semifinal with a 109th minute winner.

    After this month long celebration, one team will come away with the gold trophy as world champion. For France, it would be a second, adding to the one from 1998. If Croatia wins, it would be a first title.


    France vs. Croatia, 11 a.m. EDT Fox and


    Will all the extra minutes finally catch up to Croatia?

    The Croatian side has played the equivalent of an extra match at the tournament, with three straight extra time games in the knockout stage.

    At some point, the extra minutes should catch up to Croatia. Saying that, it looked like the Croatians had the extra legs in the second half and extra time against England.

    Will the extra day of rest for France be a factor?

    Again, you would think that works in France's favor. At the Euro 2016 tournament, Les Bleus went into the final with one less day of rest than Portugal, and it cost them.

    Which midfield will exert control on the contest?

    The double pivot of N'Golo Kante and Paul Pogba have made the 2018 World Cup their playground. But the Croatian side, powered by Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, and Ivan Perisic, have been just as good. 

    In the 18 games that Kante and Pogba have started together with France, the team has 14 wins and four draws.

    Can Kylian Mbappe continue his dazzling rise to the top of the football world?

    The only other teenager to have this much of an impact on a World Cup was Pele in 1958, when he scored six goals, including two in the final, to lead Brazil to its first title.

    Mbappe has been a terror for defenses at this tournament, and he will be going up against a tired, beat up Croatian back four. 

    That is a scary thought.


    After 63 games, it comes down to this. Kylian Mbappe scores, as does Antoine Griezmann, and the best team in the world now sets up for a period of dominance over the next half decade.

    France 2-0 Croatia

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

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    The Thunder outfielder, who missed the first two months of the season through injury, is making up for lost time quickly

    Just when you think Devyn Bolasky will start to cool off at the plate, he has back-to- back games like he did Thursday and Friday against Richmond.

    The Thunder outfielder, who missed the first two months of the season through injury, is making up for lost time quickly. After he went 6-for-10 in the first two games of the series with the Flying Squirrels, Bolasky now has his season average up to .404 in 27 games.

    If you look at his last 10 games starting on July 1, his average is even more stellar. Bolasky was 19-for-42 over that run, which includes a little mini-rut (for him right now) in the last three games of the series with Altoona just before the All-Star break, when he was 2-for-11.

    Over that 10-game run, Bolasky had five multi-hit contests, including two four-hit games. He was 4-for-5 Friday night in the 7-6, 10 inning loss to Richmond.

    His return to the top of the lineup, which coincided with the return to Trenton of some players from Triple A Scranton Wilkes-Barre, has seen the offense kick it up a gear. The Thunder have averaged 7.5 runs in the 14 wins since Bolasky returned on June 10.

    Trenton manager Jay Bell spoke about Bolasky's impact at the top of the order.

    "Devyn has been awesome," Bell said. "It has been fun to watch. He is a competitor. We talk about guys that you just enjoy putting in the lineup. He is just a baseball player.

    "If you had to put him alongside another player that is better athletically, you can probably see the difference. But man, he comes to beat you every day. He is fun for me to watch. I love it."

    Bruce Caldwell is one of the players that have returned to the Thunder from Scranton (July 12), along with Billy Fleming and Zack Zehner. All three have spent significant time in Triple A this season, but got pushed back to Trenton because of the roster moves in New York. They, along with Bolasky, are all a welcome addition to the lineup.

    "I love the guys I have right now," Bell said. "Billy Fleming, Bruce Caldwell, Bolasky, (Trey) Amburgey, (Kyle) Holder. Even with his struggles, Jeff Hendryx. He gets after it. Even through the tough time he has had, he finds ways to beat you, whether it is with his glove or finding a way on base.

    "There are guys that are here that deserve and don't deserve to be here. Look at Caldwell, and what he did in Triple A. Guys get healthy above, and it forces things down. That is the beauty of this game.

    "Competition forces one guy that is pretty good out, but it is still extremely healthy. Right now, with Zehner being here, and Caldwell coming back, it puts some pressure on guys to get healthy and to come back and compete, to be good."

    Trenton Thunder look to break quickly out of All-Star festivities


    While the offense has been good in the wins since Bolasky's return, it has been poor in many of the losses in that period.

    That 30-game stretch from June 10 to July 13 saw the Thunder (50-40 after Friday night) go 14-16. In eight of the losses, the team scored zero or one run. In the 14 wins, Trenton scored six or more runs 11 times.

    The Thunder had three roster moves Friday.

    Catcher Jorge Saez went to the 7-Day DL with mild concussion-like symptoms. Catcher Kellin Deglan was transferred from Tampa to take his place.

    Pitcher Phillip Diehl also moved from Tampa to Trenton.

    Contact Sean Miller at Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean

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    He is also one of two players on the Thunder roster to have played in the Australian Baseball League.

    There are two things that immediately stand out when looking at Phillip Diehl's two-plus year minor league career.

    The first is his record; the lefty is 16-5 in 68 games. The second is the amount of strikeouts he has recorded, especially during the 2018 campaign. In 48.2 innings with High A Tampa this season, Diehl has 79 strikeouts.

    Those are the kind of numbers that will get you noticed. Diehl was promoted to Trenton Friday, with Kaleb Ort going the other way to Tampa to work on his command.

    Thunder manager Jay Bell worked with Diehl in spring training, and is looking forward to the lefty taking the hill for Trenton.

    "I saw him in spring training," Bell said. "He is a command guy. He is a guy that has really good numbers in Tampa, and he earned a trip to Double A."

    "This is a never ending good problem to have, Whenever those guys are doing well, we need to find out if they can handle it. Phillip is going to come here, and we are going to pitch him. It just adds another lefty to our pitching staff. I am excited about having him."

    Bell also spoke about Ort. The pitcher had a good ERA with the Thunder (2.10), but over his last 10 games had some trouble with his command, walking 13 batters in 14.2 innings of work. In that span, he walked two or more batters in five of his relief outings. 

    "It has been one of those things where you hate it for Kaleb," Bell said. "I hate the fact that he had to go back there. As good as his ERA looked, there were some things that he needed to work on.

    "Just command issues, more than anything else. Hopefully at some point, he can get back here."

    Devyn Bolasky continues torrid run with Thunder

    Kellin Deglan came up with Diehl, while Jorge Saez is on the 7-Day DL. While Deglan's offensive numbers have not been good (.163 average in 25 games), he has done a good job with the pitching staff, which is always the primary objective for a catcher.

    "Kellin has done a nice job in Tampa as well," Bell said. "He received really well. I had both of them in (Friday), and I told him that I hold catchers to a high standard. I expect them to be prepared every game, because in my opinion, you don't win championships without those pitchers doing well.

    "A catcher's primary objective should be taking care of those pitchers, and he is a really good guy. It has been a progression getting his arm back in shape, and he has gotten there. It is good to have him."


    Deglan was part of Canadian team that won the medal at the 2015 Pan Am Games.

    He is also one of two players on the Thunder roster to have played in the Australian Baseball League, along with pitcher Ryan Bollinger. Deglan set the record for most home runs in a season, with 14, playing for the Melbourne Aces in 2014.

    Trenton is now 7-3 in extra innings contests, after Friday night's 7-6 loss to the Flying Squirrels. The Thunder and Richmond played consecutive extra inning games to start the four-game series, and have now played three games this year that needed an added frame.

    Contact Sean Miller at Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean

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    Mates Inn is full-service restaurant where inmates learn the culinary arts. Watch video

    It's late morning and the staff at Mates Inn is preparing for the lunchtime crowd. 

    The crew has been cooking since 8 a.m. and evidence of their work fills the kitchen. The aroma of rotisserie chicken mixes with barbecued short ribs and fresh-baked bread.

    In addition to serving gourmet meals, most of the staff is also serving time.

    Mates Inn is located in a nearly 90-year-old, red brick building on the grounds of the New Jersey Department of Corrections' central office campus on Stuyvesant Avenue in Trenton. This restaurant serves as a fully-functioning business and a classroom for inmates learning the culinary arts.

    You won't see a giant sign advertising this eatery, but it's open to the public for lunch Monday through Friday, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

    Inmates do it all

    Between eight and 10 inmates travel from Garden State Youth Correctional Facility, which generally houses inmates in the 18-30 range, to work at Mates as part of the prison's vocational training program. Two chefs oversee their students as they handle all aspects of restaurant operations, including developing menus, preparing meals, baking and serving customers.

    These are all minimum security inmates within 24 months of release.

    "We're just basically training the guys to be able to get a job when they get out," explained Mark Yaros, supervisor of education with the Department of Corrections. "They do it all with the direction of the two chefs. Everybody gets a turn at pretty much everything."

    Mates Inn is full-service restaurant where inmates learn the culJahborn Garrett works in the kitchen doing food prep. (Michael Mancuso | NJ Advance Media) 

    Doing everything includes using knives in food preparation. 

    Officials take precautions to prevent any security issues, but note that these inmates have been screened and understand the importance of following the rules.

    "At the beginning of the day, everything is counted and at the end of the day everything is counted," Yaros said. "Most of these guys are on their way out the door. They've got everything to lose, nothing to gain by doing anything."

    No one recalls who cooked up the name Mates Inn -- a play on the term "inmates" -- but it's been around for more than 30 years, providing lunch at reasonable prices for both state employees and anyone else hungry for a good meal.

    How reasonable are those prices? Entrees range from $6.75 to $9.50.

    Mates is popular with state employees and locals in the Trenton area, including seniors. The restaurant also hosts banquets and even cooks for a Mercer County-based program that feeds the homeless.

    The culinary program is popular with inmates for a few reasons, Yaros says. They receive training in a field which hires ex-offenders and has a high demand for talent. "It's also a job that if you get it you never go hungry," he adds.

    On top of that, this gig is the best-paying one for inmates, who earn 7 dollars a day for their work at Mates.

    Mates Inn is full-service restaurant where inmates learn the cul Dora Dunn, a culinary arts teacher at Mates Inn. (Michael Mancuso photo) 

    Leading the students are chef instructors Dora Dunn and Stephen Villari, and as 11 a.m. approaches, both are focused on the mission.

    Villari teaches Jahborn Garrett how to prepare slow-roasted rotisserie chicken, guiding him through seasoning the meat and preparing vegetables.

    "I go home next month and I think I want to go home and be a chef," Garrett says as he applies olive oil to the hearty chunks of poultry.

    Before these trainees set foot in the kitchen, they earn their ServSafe certifications, learning the essentials of food preparation, storage and safety. ServSafe is a training and certification program administered by the National Restaurant Association.

    Armed with that certificate, these guys have a head start as they look for work on the outside.

    Cooking is a life skill

    Villari describes the process of teaching his students. "I look at it like a recipe," he says. "It's a recipe of people that are just trying to better themselves. It's a recipe of coming together as a team." From there, the teachers want to provide their students with the skills they will need to land a job in some aspect of the food industry, he says.

    Dunn began her culinary career at The Ritz-Carlton, "and I feel like I have an opportunity to spread Ritz-Carlton sparkle wherever I go," she says.

    She previously taught culinary arts and appreciates the chance to work at Mates.

    "It gives me a chance to teach my students what a restaurant or hotel or caterer is looking for in an employee."

    Dunn sees this training as an asset on the job and at home.

    Mates Inn is full-service restaurant where inmates learn the culInmates work next to fresh focaccia bread. (Michael Mancuso photo) 

    "You can make a good living doing this, but I think cooking is a basic life skill," Dunn says. "People should know how to feed themselves, how to take care of their families."

    She doesn't see any difference between teaching in a culinary school or at Mates.

    "A student is a student is a student," she says, "Whether they go home to mom and dad's house at night or whether they go to lock-up."

    Given this attitude, it's no surprise to hear that she's never felt intimidated working with inmates.

    "What intimidates me is getting the food out on time," she says, "tasting the way we've decided we want it to taste, looking the way we've decided we want it to look."

    The kitchen might be sweltering, but the chefs keep their cool, calmly teaching their students as customer orders start arriving on slips brought in by the waiters.

    Some of the most popular items include shrimp scampi, short-rib sliders, chicken wings and fresh-baked focaccia bread. The salad selection -- chicken, antipasta, Caesar and fiesta -- are also a hit. Desserts include strawberry shortcake.

    The menu changes every few weeks.

    "The newest addition to the menu is the chopped sirloin steak," Villari says. "That's served with a blend of shiitake mushrooms, crimini and portobellos."

    Activity picks up in the kitchen.

    "The shrimp scampi is the big favorite here," confirms Markeith Palmer, as he works quickly to fill new orders. He likes the fast-paced kitchen environment and may pursue a culinary career when he's released in two years.

    When asked what he likes most about the job, "just getting things done and making the customer satisfied," he says with a smile.

    It's more than cooking

    The soft-spoken, courteous wait staff takes orders and clears tables, making sure not to interrupt diners who are in the midst of a conversation.

    Ramon Santiago said he's learned quite a bit during is stint at Mates and may pursue a restaurant job when he's released next August. He spent a few months honing his skills in the kitchen and now handles waitering duties.

    He likes the chance to get out of the correctional facility and interact with others. "It makes your mood a lot better," he says. "You're involved with civilization a lot more than you would be back at the prison."

    Mates Inn is full-service restaurant where inmates learn the culCulinary inmates Ramon Santiago, left, and Tashawn Manuel. (Michael Mancuso photo) 

    This experience is about more than cooking.

    "It's not just that they're learning how to work in a restaurant, but they're learning to be responsible," said DOC spokesman Matt Schuman. "It's a lot more than just the skills that they're learning. They're learning to have people depend on them, in some instances probably for the first time in their lives."

    Tashawn Manuel prefers working in the front of the house, waiting tables and interacting with diners.

    "I've learned how to work in a restaurant and what goes on in a restaurant," he says. "I'm a waiter, so I've learned how to wait tables and interact with people."

    Manuel, who has 90 days left to serve on a weapons charge, is considering a food services job when he leaves.

    His message for prospective customers?

    "Mates Inn is a good restaurant. You should try it. Great food ... great chefs."

    Diners share that sentiment.

    "I think it's one of the best restaurants in Mercer County," declares regular customer Steven Brody. He tells his colleagues at the New Jersey State Police about this place.

    'It's true gentlemen who serve you'

    Others also spoke about the enjoyable experience that keeps them coming back.

    "We like the whole idea of it," says Michael Fischler, who was dining with his wife, Bea Scala-Fischler. "We like the whole idea of easing people back into the community and giving them some skill in order to come back, as opposed to coming back raw from a prison."

    These loyal Mates Inn customers live in Trenton, so a trip here is right around the corner. Fried chicken and the shrimp scampi are some of their favorites.

    Scala-Fischler likes that this program is educational in so many ways, including focusing on how the meal is served and the order in which dishes should arrive.

    Mates Inn is full-service restaurant where inmates learn the culOut come the meals as inmates serve their customers. (Michael Mancuso photo) 

    "They're being taught that an appetizer comes before the meal, not along with the meal," she said. "Sometimes they get it right and sometimes they don't, but this is a learning experience for them."

    Diners can't leave tips at Mates and payment is in cash to a DOC employee by the front door.

    Customers do leave plenty of feedback about their experience, though, with many comments displayed in the foyer. "On a scale of 1 to 10, my lunch was a 20!" one customer raves. Another praises the tartar sauce, but suggests a little less garlic.

    Brody jokes that he's an evangelist of sorts for Mates, sharing the news of this hidden gem whenever he can.

    "I think the passion of the people working here is outstanding," he says. "It's true gentlemen who serve you. There's a personal pride in everyone who is a part of the staff.

    "Everybody you meet just takes a sense of ownership in creating a product that's enjoyable."

    Matt Gray may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MattGraySJT. Find the South Jersey Times on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us:

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    James Brownlee first worked in Trenton's health office under Mayor Tony Mack, and was retained by Mayor Eric Jackson

    James Brownlee is retiring as Trenton's Director of Health and Human Services after working for two mayors, Mayor Reed Gusciora announced.

    Brownlee first worked in Trenton's health office under Mayor Tony Mack, and was retained by Mayor Eric Jackson.

    Gusciora hailed Brownlee's work on the city's health clinics and the collaborative Trenton Health Team.

    Brownlee's "efforts during his tenure have undoubtedly saved the lives of countless Trentonians. His services will be sorely missed," Gusciora said in a statement.

    Before working on the municipal level, Brownlee retired from the state Department of Health as Assistant Commissioner of Epidemiology, Environmental & Occupational Health. 

    Trenton mayor vows to end veterans homelessness by end of 2015Brownlee, during an event with former Mayor Eric Jackson. (Cristina Rojas | For 

    Gusciora announced that Trenton resident Shakira Abdul-Ali will take over for Brownlee on an acting basis.

    The mayor touted her three post-secondary degrees, and that Abdul-Ali, "has served urban centers across New Jersey and New York for over 30 years and has taught post-secondary courses for N.J.'s Department of Human services."

    On her LinkedIn page, she describes herself as: "Business Development Consultant, Trainer and Coach at Alchemy Consulting, LLC."

    "Director Abdul-Ali will be a great addition to my cabinet. Shakira has proven that she's someone who not only cares about those who need our help the most, but that she is intelligent and driven enough to act on those concerns," Gusciora said in a statement.

    The mayor said he will commence a a national search for a long-term health director.

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

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    The debate surrounding the shelter began after Council Vice President Jeff Martin called for an investigation of the shelter's operations.

    A political fight over the efficacy of a New Jersey shelter has left questions swirling around its treatment and euthanasia policies, and animals hanging in the balance as officials in Hamilton plan an investigation this week.

    Council Vice President Jeff Martin last month called for an investigation of the Hamilton Township Animal Shelter's operations, questioning why despite the increase in the shelter's budget, staff and capacity -- the number of animals euthanized has not decreased. He also accused the mayor's administration of mismanaging the budget and "killing innocent animals."

    In 2015, the shelter underwent a major renovation and $1.1 million expansion project that increased the number of dog kennels from 20 to 36 and doubled the space for stray cats from 25 rooms to 50. The expanded shelter also features a larger animal medical area, two new adoption rooms and a grooming area, officials said.

    "We will conduct a full investigation into how the promises of Mayor (Kelly) Yaede have gone unfulfilled and the situation at the animal shelter is arguably worse and less efficient than it was before we spent $1.1 million," said Council President Anthony Carabelli, Jr. in a statement on June 20. 

    Council member Rick Tighe also expressed his disappointment with the shelter's euthanasia rate, blaming the mayor.

    "Using the numbers most advantageous to the shelter, the shelter's 'kill-rate' has reduced by only 1 percent, and its operating budget has increased by 44 percent in just four years," the councilman said.

    The council members did not cite any specific documents to support their figures, and said it plans to investigate the shelter at its Tuesday night council meeting this week.

    According to Department of Health reports posted on shelter reform activists' Facebook pages, the Hamilton shelter euthanized 76 dogs and 220 cats in 2017. In 2014, before the renovation, it reported euthanizing fewer dogs, 52, but more cats, 302.

    The documents also show more animals taken in by the shelter in 2014 -- 957 -- than in 2017 --1,089.

    But, Yaede issued a statement calling the concern expressed by Martin, Carabelli and Tighe a "political stunt."

    "Council Members Martin, Carabelli and Tighe are using helpless shelter pets as their 'political pawns' and are personally attacking our compassionate animal shelter staff by calling them 'killers of innocent animals.' Their politically-motivated accusations are absolutely reprehensible," Yaede said in a statement.

    As the animal shelter has come under public criticism, one shelter employee has filed a Notice of Claim against the three elected officials who have been the most vocal about the need for an investigation into the shelter.

    The notice accuses the council members of "creating a hostile work environment," at the shelter.

    "We have nothing to hide," said Jeffrey Plunkett, Director of the town's Department of Health, Recreation, Senior and Veterans Services, which over sees the animal shelter.

    "I couldn't be more proud of our animal shelter staff and the...commitment they show to the citizens and animals of Hamilton," Plunkett said in a phone call to NJ Advance Media.

    Plunkett said he, and Animal Control supervisor Todd Bencivengo, will be at the July 17 council meeting to answer questions about the shelter's operations.

    Councilman Ralph Mastrangelo said the verbal attacks on shelter employees are "unjustified," and said his colleagues were being hypocritical, as a few weeks ago the council members were in budget hearings and approved the animal shelter budget they are now criticizing.

    The shelter also received endorsements from Animal Friends for Education and Welfare (A.F.E.W.) and the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NJSPCA).

    Mayor Yaede has called for council members Martin, Carabelli and Tighue to publicly apologize to the animal shelter employees.

    "Unlike the mayor, we will follow the rules and regulations of the town and not comment on pending personnel matters", the three opposing council members said in response to the mayor's comments. 

    "As it relates to the quotes in the mayor's press release, most of the people commenting have an incentive to maintain the status quo. That status quo includes a nearly double-digit percentage increase in euthanasia rates and double-digit percentage decrease in adoption rates from 2017."

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

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    Most districts in New Jersey will get more state aid. But not everybody will.

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    it was Les Bleus, with some luck, a big call from VAR, and two vicious second half counter attacks, that won their second world title.

    Coming into Sunday, the 2018 World Cup was thought of as the best to have been contested in the long history of the tournament.

    With all the talent on the roster, many thought France was one favorites coming into the tournament.

    But Croatia had willed its way into the final, with three extra time victories in the knockout stage. The Croatian team had some stars as well, led by Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic, and there was hope that they could continue their miraculous run towards a first title.

    While Croatia dominated most of the first 50 minutes of the 2018, it was Les Bleus, with some luck, a big call from VAR, and two vicious second half counter attacks, that won their second world title.


    France 4-2 Croatia


    Paul Pogba, France

    While N'Golo Kante was struggling to keep up with the speed of play, Pogba showed why he is one of the best midfielders in the world. His pass to Kylian Mbappe resulted in the third goal, which Pogba end up scoring. It put Croatia on the back foot, and allowed Mbappe to score the fourth goal to kill off the match.

    He was the Man of the Match with an 8.42 rating.


    Antoine Griezmann, France

    He scored the penalty that gave France the lead right before halftime, and put an end to his poor record in finals. He rated out at a 7.95 on

    Kylian Mbappe, France

    The superstar teenager scored the final French goal, and finished the tournament with four goals. He rated out at 7.91 on, and was awarded the FIFA Young Player Award of the tournament.


    Luka Modric, Croatia

    The diminutive midfielder was a force, leading Croatia to its highest finish in history.


    Harry Kane, England, six goals

    World Cup Final preview; Belgium wins 3rd place match Saturday


    While the first half of the match was all Croatia, when the two teams went into the halftime intermission, the scoreboard showed France ahead 2-1.

    An Antoine Griezmann free kick led to the first France goal, and a contested VAR penalty for a hand ball led to the second, and the French were lucky to go into the break ahead by a goal.

    Kante was replaced by Steven N'Zonzi in the 55th minute, and the lethal French counter attack took over the match. Pogba's beautifully played pass out to Mbappe set off the break, and Pogba finished the chance, to give France a two-goal cushion.

    Six minutes later, Mbappe finished off the contest, with a beautiful goal to make it 4-1. Not even a mistake from French keeper Hugo Lloris could get the Croatians back into the match, as France lifted its second World Cup title (1998).

    Didier Deschamps became the third person to win a World Cup on the pitch as a player and as a head coach.

    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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    Dogs and cats throughout New Jersey await adoption.

    We accept dogs and cats to appear in the gallery from nonprofit shelters and rescues throughout New Jersey.

    If a group wishes to participate in this weekly gallery on, which is completely free of charge for qualified groups, please contact Greg Hatala at

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

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    State Police head calls theft of computers from school construction authority "stealing from the children of our state."

    A former temp worker for a public school construction authority has been indicted on charges he stole 28 computers and sold them online, state officials said Monday.

    Corey-Jester.jpgCorey Jester, 49, of Freehold. 

    Authorities say Corey Jester was hired in 2017 as a temp worker for an IT help desk at the New Jersey Schools Development Authority, where he worked for a state contractor that provided temporary IT staff.

    Jester, 49, took the computers -- which had a retail value between $25,000 and $30,000 -- from a storage closet, wiped the data on them and sold them for $100 to $200 apiece, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice. 

    Col. Patrick Callahan, the acting head of the State Police, which investigated the thefts, said in a statement Jester was "stealing from the children of our state" by taking the computers. 

    He was indicted Friday by a state grand jury in Trenton after the authority, which oversees school construction and repairs, reported the thefts to law enforcement. A spokeswoman for the agency declined to comment. 

    Jester, of Freehold, faces charges of computer theft, conspiracy, misusing government property and other offenses.

    If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

    His brother Darryl Jester, 55, of Lawrence, was also indicted for fencing and receiving stolen property for allegedly helping his brother sell some computers.

    Neither could be reached for comment and a message left with the state Public Defender's Office, which is representing Corey Jester, was not returned.

    S.P. Sullivan may be reached at Follow him on Twitter. Find on Facebook.

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    Friends of the 24-year-old woman who died of an overdose identified a Trenton man as the supplier of the drugs that killed her

    A Trenton man was arrested Friday on charges that he sold drugs to a woman from Bucks County, Pa. that led to her overdose death, the Bucks County District Attorney's Office announced Monday.

    Terrence Ridley, 24, was charged with drug delivery resulting in death, in connection to the overdose death of Amanda Risko, also 24.

    Risko died at her Fallsington home in Falls Township on March 22, leaving behind her parents, brother and a dog named Tyson. An autopsy found that she died of drug intoxication from a combination of fentanyl, acetyl fentanyl, hydroxyzine and cocaine.

    According to her obituary, she grew up in Bristol Township, and enjoyed singing, songwriting and playing the guitar.

    terrance_ridley2.pngTerrence Ridley (police photo)

    Police responded to a call from a male friend of Risko's at around 3:50 p.m. the day she was found dead. He told authorities Risko was dead and he'd attempted to kill himself.

    He later told police details about Ridley, explaining that he and Risko bought a bundle of heroin, fentanyl and crack cocaine from a drug supplier in Trenton known by the nickname "Hood."

    Risko's friend left two bags of the substances they bought at her home, both of which were labeled "Rolex," while he went to work. He told her to only use one of the bags because they were strong - and she had just completed drug rehabilitation.

    However, when he returned home, he found that both of the bags were empty in Risko's room, and she was lifeless, the police complaint said.

    Ridley was later identified as "Hood" by a third friend of Risko', whose name is not used in the criminal complaint. The friend said he had purchased heroin, fentanyl and crack cocaine from "Hood" multiple times.

    Police used the third friend to purchase a bundle of drugs in Trenton from Ridley, and watched him buy 10 bags of heroin and fentanyl, five of which were labeled "Rolex."

    The investigation is ongoing, and additional arrests are expected, the district attorney's office said.

    Ridley was also charged with possession with intent to deliver controlled substances, possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia, criminal use of a communication facility and involuntary manslaughter.

    Ridley is currently being held in Mercer County jail, pending extradition.

    Gianluca D'Elia may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @gianluca_delia. Find on Facebook.


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    The Abdullah gang's ringleader Ishmael "Ish" Abdullah, was sentenced to 14 years in prison earlier this year

    They're all guilty.

    Ileana Sanchez, a Trenton woman known on the streets and the drug dealing world as "Lilly," or "Mami," admitted her role in a Trenton-area heroin dealing operation federal authorities busted in late 2016.

    The 34-year-old is the tench and final suspect to plead guilty in the case against the Abdullah DTO (drug trafficking organization), named after ringleader Ishmael "Ish" Abdullah, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison earlier this year.

    Sanchez pleaded guilty in federal court in Trenton to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin, a charge several before her also agreed to in a plea bargain.

    Federal investigators and Trenton detectives listened to the 10 suspects' calls and text messages during an investigation that started in the summer of 2015 and concluded with their arrests at the end of 2016.

    Abdullah, who used the street names "Gangsta" and "Papi," and employed his brother Elijah "Uncle E"Abdullah, ran a well-executed effort to supply heroin in the Trenton area and were always armed or moments moments away from a gun, officials have said.

    Ishmael Abdullah used codes with his lieutenants to buy, store, distribute - and then resupply the heroin, officials said.

    The Abdullah heroin gang operated from Trenton's Spring Street neighborhood 

    Sanchez is scheduled to be sentenced in October.

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

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    In 2016, nearly 700 people took their own lives in New Jersey. A horrifying number of them were teenagers.

    If you live with a teenager, you already know how enormous a presence social media can be in his or her daily life. That electronic device that often seems surgically attached can be a source of connection - or a force for evil. Often, it's both in the same day.

    Bullying by cell phone or social media bears no relation to the schoolyard bullying you probably knew as a kid. It's like comparing a paper airplane to a supersonic jet.

    The messages and the images can be vicious, violent ... and unrelenting. You're fat and ugly. No one likes you. You have no excuse for being. You deserve to die.

    There's no telling who will be the next victim. But the stakes are overwhelming.

    In 2016, nearly 700 people took their own lives in New Jersey. A horrifying number of them were teenagers.

    Two bills working their way through the state Legislature aim to address the deadly implications.

    One would create a temporary 15-member commission to explore the impact of online communications on the physical and emotional state of teenagers. The other would require schools to assess 7th- through 12th-graders for signs of depression, following up on any mental health concerns by contacting parents.

    Early warning signs that your teen may be thinking about suicide

    Assemblyman Herb Conaway Jr. (D-Burlington), a sponsor of both bills and a physician, summed up the urgency for such measures, noting that "Teens today are navigating a very different world."

    In addition to the traditional stressors of puberty, Conaway said, social media "can be used to bully and make young people who are already susceptible to social pressure feel that they are not measuring up."

    The lawmaker is concerned that only half of all adolescents who grapple with depression are diagnosed before they become adults. The American Academy of Pediatrics reported that between 2008 and 2015, the number of children and teens hospitalized for suicidal thoughts or suicidal attempts more than doubled.

    The screening bill under consideration would require that school nurses or doctors administer a test approved by the state health commissioner, ensuring student privacy along the way.

    If warning signs of depression show up, the school would reach out to the child's parents, informing them that although the diagnosis was not formal, it would be beneficial to follow up with a pediatrician or other health-care provider.

    But teachers and principals already have enough on their plates, you may be muttering to yourself. Why add another mandate to the school day?

    Because we've learned to our great chagrin that we can't afford to sweep mental-health issues under the school's carpet - not with suicide ranking as the third-leading cause of death among our state's teens.

    And because the tired old excuse that "kids will be kids" doesn't hold water any more.

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


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    The former Archbishop of Newark allegedly invited young priests and seminarians to a Shore house in Sea Girt.

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    The house caught fire around midnight and suffered significant damages

    An early morning fire damaged a multi-million dollar home in Princeton early Tuesday, Princeton police said.

    The fire broke out just after midnight at the house on the 100 block of Hodge Road.

    The home is reported to be worth $2.5 million, according to Mercer County property records

    Firefighters found the second story engulfed in flames when they arrived on the scene. They checked the first floor of the house, but couldn't reach the second story because of the smoke and flames.

    Firefighters from Lawrenceville, Hopewell, Montgomery, Kingston, Rocky Hill and Princeton Junction also came to help put out the blaze.

    The fire damaged the second and third floors of the home, as well as the roof, police said.

    The house was determined to be vacant, and no one was injured.

    The fire is still under investigation.

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

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    The baby was placed on his stomach in a motel bed, with a comforter completely covering him, the county prosecutor said.

    A Bergen County couple has been charged with murder after their 4-month-old son died in a Burlington County motel room while they smoked cigarettes outside.

    William Herring, 42, and Brianna Brochhausen, 22, of Mahwah, had previously been charged with endangering the welfare of a child, but their charges were upgraded to murder on Tuesday, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said in a news release.

    Their son Hunter died at the Hilltop Motel in Springfield on Valentine's Day. Officers arrived on the scene after a report of an infant who had stopped breathing.

    Investigators learned that the couple, frustrated that Hunter would not stop crying, put him on his stomach on a bed in the motel room. Then, they pulled the comforter over him, covering the baby's whole body, including his head.

    The parents then smoked cigarettes outside the room for about 10 minutes. When they came back into the room, Hunter was not breathing.

    He was taken to Virtua Memorial Hospital in Mount Holly and then transferred to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where he had little brain activity and needed a respirator to breathe. Hunter died March 3 when he was taken off life support.

    A Philadelphia medical examiner said the baby died from suffocation.

    New Jersey State Police arrested the couple yesterday, and Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan commended investigators "for their commitment and dedication to finding justice for Baby Hunter."

    The parents' "thoughtless actions...ended up costing a defenseless 4-month-old infant his life," Callahan said.

    Coffina wants to remind parents of a 24-hour "stressline" to hear concerns and crises at 1-800-THE-KIDS or The state also has the Safe Haven Infant Protection Act, which allows parents or their representatives to anonymously surrender a newborn baby at hospitals or other emergency stations that are staffed 24/7.

    "The responsibilities of becoming a new parent can sometimes be overwhelming," Coffina said. "Those who find themselves at a point of crisis when caring for a newborn child should know that help is available, and they must seek that help rather than taking actions that might harm their child."

    Herring and Brochhausen will appear in Superior Court in Mount Holly later this week for a detention hearing.

    Joe Brandt can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JBrandt_NJ. Find on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us.

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    Mates Inn offers tasty meals to the public along with an opportunity for prisoners to learn a trade that will serve them well when they return to life after incarceration. Watch video

    Chicken wings and shrimp scampi are officially on the menu, but at a unique restaurant in Trenton, the main courses come with a side of redemption and second chances as well.

    Mates Inn - a play on the term "inmates" - offers tasty meals to the public along with an opportunity for prisoners to learn a trade that will serve them well when they return to life after incarceration.

    The Garden State Youth Correctional Facility sends eight to 10 minimum security inmates to work at Mates as part of the prison's vocational training program.

    In the centuries-old building that serves as the central office of the state Department of Corrections, the trainees learn the ins and outs of the restaurant business, from developing creative menus to serving customers - and everything in between.

    As a result of their labors, the inmates not only turn out appealing and economical dishes starting as little as $6.75 an entree, but they also receive experience in a field that has shown its willingness to hire those recently released from prison.

    These inmates serve meals while they serve time

    "It's not just that they're learning how to work in a restaurant, but they're learning to be responsible," says Matt Schuman, a spokesman for the Corrections Department. "They're learning to have people depend on them, in some instances probably for the first time in their lives."

    For Ramon Santiago, the $7 daily wage he picks up is only part of the benefit of working at the restaurant.

    "It makes your mood a lot better," he said after mastering new skills in the kitchen and moving on to waiting tables. "You're involved with civilization a lot more than you would be back at the prison."

    And when he's released next August, he might just pursue a job in a restaurant, Santiago says.

    Satisfied diners, including a large contingent of government workers, share the enthusiasm, praising the food and the staff in written comments left in the restaurant's foyer.

    "On a scale of 1 to 10, my lunch was a 20!" reads one rave review.

    Part of the credit for the undertaking goes to the two professional chefs who serve as instructors, Dora Dunn and Stephen Villari.

    Dunn, who polished her culinary creds at The Ritz-Carlton, regards cooking as a basic life skill, one that will serve the inmates well for the rest of their lives.

    The full-service restaurant has been around for three decades, leading us to wonder why the idea has not spread to all of the facilities under the DOC's supervision.

    As our society becomes more convinced of the benefits of sending ex-cons home with bankable skills, Mates Inn can serve as a play book for success.

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


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    National Beep Baseball League gives vision-impaired a chance to play America's pastime.

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    Two hours before a hearing on a New Jersey animal shelter was set to begin, it was postponed because new allegations had come to light.

    A New Jersey town council already in the midst of an investigation of its animal shelter says it has received new allegations that have widened its probe -- but declined to say what, exactly, the shelter is accused of doing.

    About 100 Hamilton residents turned out at the township's council meeting Tuesday night expecting to discuss the details of an ongoing investigation into the Hamilton Animal Shelter, but were disappointed to find the discussion had been postponed in light of the new allegations. 

    Two hours before the meeting was set to begin, council members issued a press release postponing the hearing. 

    "(Monday) afternoon, Hamilton council received additional serious allegations regarding the animal shelter that need to be investigated," council members Jeff Martin, Anthony Carabelli, Jr., Rick Tighe and Ileana Schirmer said in the statement.

    "Due to the allegations, the timing of their receipt and on the advice of one of the town's attorneys, we agree that the most prudent course of action is to postpone the hearing...regarding the animal shelter."

    The council declined to elaborate on the "serious" allegations. The shelter has recently come under fire, partly due to its euthanasia rates increasing over the past several years, despite a $1.1 million facilities upgrade. 

    The postponement didn't stop residents in attendance from voicing their concerns over the shelter.

    Trish Grey told the council she has worked with rescue organizations in the area to help relocate stray animals. She's advised them, she said: "Please don't take them to the Hamilton Animal Shelter. It's a death sentence."

    Others slammed council members for making the discussion about the animal shelter too political. Carabelli, Jr., Martin, and Tighe, all Democrats, have clashed with Republican Mayor Kelly Yaede over the effectiveness of the shelter.

    "I don't think the shelter should be a partisan issue, it shouldn't be a battle," resident Mark VanWagner said. "We should save as many animals as possible."

    Jeffrey Plunkett, Director of the town's Department of Health, Recreation, Senior and Veterans Services, which oversees the animal shelter, was at the meeting but was barred by the council from answering residents' specific questions, due to the pending investigation into the shelter. 

    He did, however, take issue with public complaints that council members have lodged against the shelter and its employees.

    "Our shelter manager has 30 years of experience," Plunkett said. "Everyone gets out of bed and goes to their jobs wanting to do their best. There needs to be due process for employees of the shelter."

    No new date has been set to further discuss the animal shelter, as the council plans to fully investigate the new allegations before holding a public hearing.

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

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    One homeowner confronted one in a driveway, and police chased a suspicious vehicle into Interstate 295

    Three burglaries that occurred in Hopewell Township Monday are just the latest in what township police say has been a growing problem over the last two weeks.

    Twice, residents spotted or confronted suspected thieves at their homes.

    Chief Lance Maloney said Wednesday morning that township police are making progress in investigating the string of burglaries.

    "Detectives are working the cases," Maloney said. "We've developed some strong leads, and we hope that charges are forthcoming either today or tomorrow."

    It started on July 4 when a Wyckoff Drive resident reported an entry at their home around 11:30 p.m.

    Two men, who haven't yet been identified, entered the home through an unlocked window on the second floor, took jewelry, and left once they realized there was a surveillance camera in the house, police said.

    The next incident was July 9 around 3 p.m., when a Dublin Road resident confronted two men who attempted to enter his home. The suspects fled the area in a small silver car, police said.

    Then, this past Monday around noon, there were two burglaries. First, a Maddock Road resident returned home to find someone entered the house by forcing the garage door open.

    Later the same day, a resident of New Road called police about a "suspicious man" in their driveway, who fled the scene in a white van. The house had been burglarized, police said.

    The white van was spotted later that day on Bear Tavern Road, and poliec pursued it, but officers lost the van while following on Interstate 295. The unoccupied van was later recovered by Lawrence Township police.

    Later on Monday, around 6:30 p.m., a Poor Farm Road resident came home to find that a rock had been thrown through the front door, and the house was ransacked.

    Anyone having information about any of these incidents is asked to contact Detective Joseph Maccaquano at 609-737-3100. Police also encouraged residents to lock their doors and windows.

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


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