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Central Jersey News from the Times of Trenton

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    A phrase as 'New Jersey' as 'What exit?"

    If you've ever wondered about the etymology of the phrase 'down the shore,' english.stackexchange.com weighs in with an answer:

    "In New Jersey, you invariably go "down the shore." Baltimore natives, meanwhile, say they're going "down the ocean" -- but in Baltimorese (make that Bawlmerese), the phrase sounds more like "downy eaushin." The down of "down the shore" and "down the ocean" doesn't necessarily imply a southward journey. As in many dialects along the Eastern Seaboard, 'down' can be used as a preposition indicating movement from the inland toward the shoreline."

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    Here's a gallery of folks who participated in movement from the inland toward the shoreline in New Jersey, as well as these links to other galleries you may enjoy.

    Vintage photos of N.J. folks going 'Down the Shore'

    Vintage photos of going down the Shore in N.J.

    Vintage photos of the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer in N.J.

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


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    The 34-year-old driver crossed the double yellow line and hit the skateboarder

    A Mercer County man has been charged with death by auto after a 13-year-old boy riding his skateboard was struck and killed early Thursday in Hamilton Township. 

    Mauricio Velastegui, 34, of Hamilton, was driving an SUV west on Nottingham Way at 12:40 a.m. when he crossed the double yellow line and hit the boy, who was riding along the eastbound curb line, Hamilton police said in a statement.

    The Hamilton teen was brought to Capital Health in Trenton, where he was pronounced dead. 

    The crash took place near the intersection with Gregory Drive, police said. 

    Anyone with information is asked to call Hamilton police officer Keith McDonald at (609)581-4000.

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

     


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    One of the main finding from the Center on Juvenile Criminal Justice is that juvenile curfew laws overwhelmingly targets African-American and Latino youth


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    New Jersey law prohibits signs on federal and interstate highways directing tourists to wineries, craft breweries and other agritourism sites.

    Eager to explore some of New Jersey's highly rated wineries? Good luck finding your way to some of the more remote ones.

    Or even the ones nearby, for that matter.

    The dearth of road signs directing visitors to the vineyards dotting our state not only frustrates local wine growers and leaves potential tourists stymied, but also eats into a valuable source of revenue for the state.

    We may not - yet - be in the same league as California's Napa Valley, but our wineries and their products contributed $323 million to the state's economy in 2016, reflecting more than 108,000 tourist visits that year.

    Imagine what those numbers might look like with enhanced brand recognition, a concerted marketing campaign - and a well-coordinated system of signs directing visitors to our rich landscape of wine producers.

    A cumbersome set of guidelines stands between that dream and reality.

    N.J.'s wine biz aging well: Production is up

    New Jersey law prohibits signs on federal and interstate highways directing tourists to wineries, craft breweries and other agritourism sites.

    Under programs run by the state Department of Transportation, signs for these establishments are limited to local roads and state highways; the regulations also set eligibility standards many wineries simply cannot meet.

    "The way the law is written now, you have to be open five days a week and be a certain distance from a roadway exit, and all these other limitations," says Tom Cosentino, director of the Garden State Wine Growers Association.

    "Many of our wineries are open just on the weekend, so they don't qualify."

    Specifically, a winery must be located within five to 10 miles of a state highway, and its doors open at least six hours a day, five days a week, for at least 20 consecutive weeks to qualify for signage under the Transportation Department's rigid policies.

    That's just not feasible for some of the smaller businesses.

    Thankfully, lawmakers are considering a more reasonable measure, one that would allow directional signs to appear on all eligible roads, including state roads.

    Meanwhile, the state's Division of Travel and Tourism and the Department of Agriculture are exploring ways to heighten awareness of local wines, possibly by means of a public relations campaign touting the fact that Garden State wines stack up favorably with their foreign counterparts.

    And indeed, they do. In 2012, tasters at a competition in Princeton organized by the American Association of Wine Economists ranked several New Jersey wines above those produced in France's famed Bordeaux and Burgundy regions.

    Our state is home to 50 operating wineries, up from 38 earlier in the decade. It's time for legislators to put New Jersey on the wine-lover's map as a go-to destination.

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

     

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    He'll be out with Councilman George Muschal, who's arranged for 5 street sweepers to parade through parts of the city

    In 2014, South Ward Councilman George Muschal, so fed up with people using the streets of Trenton as a garbage can, offered to clean the streets himself.

    The retired city policeman offered to pilot a street sweeper himself.

    "I will do every city street and every alleyway," Muschal said. 

    No thanks, then Mayor Eric Jackson said. That was the administration's job, and council members should stick to legislative matters, he said.

    IMG_20180719_100529.jpgTemporary parking restrictions are in place on South Broad Street ahead of the sweep. (Michael Mancuso | NJ.com) 

    Tomorrow, Muschal will get his wish, literally.

    He's arranged for five street sweepers to come to Trenton - they're owned by a Newark company who will be displaying their abilities - and Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora is on board - also literally.

    Both men said they'll likely take a turn driving a sweeper, and joked in a joint statement that they'll need "appropriate training."

    "We're gonna clean up Trenton. I've been waiting 9 years for an opportunity like this." Muschal said in a joint statement with the mayor.

    For Gusciora, it's a campaign promise. And the city has to do more, beyond Saturday's event.

    "If we want to see real progress in our city, we're going to need all hands on deck. No one person can do this job alone. We need to get community groups and individuals involved in order to enact real and permanent change."

    The plan is to parade the sweepers from South Broad and Lalor streets in Muschal's South Ward to the Battle Monument in the North Ward.

    Depending on the turnout - Gusciora is looking for volunteers to turn it to a major cleanup effort - they could branch into other areas.

    "I'd love to see every able-bodied constituent out there with us on Saturday. My hope is that businesses see what Councilman Muschal was able to do, and take the initiative to help their Capital City," Gusciora said.

    Trenton police have put parking restrictions in place for the event. The county-owned parking lot adjacent to the Cure Insurance Arena will be made available for those who would normally park on the selected streets, the mayor's office said.

    Anyone wishing to volunteer can contact Andrew Bobbitt at ABobbitt@trentonnj.org

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


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    Two tracks were out of service at the Trenton station Friday after what officials said was a minor, slow-speed train derailment.

    Two tracks were out of service Friday afternoon at the Trenton Transit Center after the engine and last car of an NJ Transit train experienced a "minor, slow-speed" derailment, officials said.

    There were no injuries in the mishap, which occurred around 11:15 a.m. on Track 5 at the Trenton station, according to a transit agency spokeswoman.

    About 40 passengers on Northeast Corridor Train 3831 from Penn Station New York safely deboarded at the Trenton stop, spokeswoman Nancy Snyder said in a statement.

    Tracks 4 and 5 remained shut down as of around 2:45 p.m. because of the incident.

    "At this time, rail service on the Northeast Corridor is not impacted," the statement said. "However, NJT will notify customers of any delays which may develop later in the day."

    The cause of the derailment was under investigation.

    Noah Cohen may be reached at ncohen@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @noahycFind NJ.com on Facebook.

     

     

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    4 of the suspects were indicted on first-degree murder

    The six suspects charged with various roles in the killing of two Philadelphia men in Trenton earlier this year have been indicted by a Mercer County grand jury.

    In January, police found the bodies of Jerard Perdomo Santana, 25, and Ivan Rodrigues, 19, shot dead in a car in Trenton's Chambersburg neighborhood. A third man was wounded in the shooting.

    Authorities have said the two men were planning on selling a narcotic pill to a person, but investigators have not said exactly why they were killed.

    Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 3.53.32 PM.pngJerard Perdomo Santana (left) and Ivan Rodriguez on a recent Facebook live video. 

    Lakeisha Hill, 29, Shaquille McNeil, 24, Tashawn Santiago, 25, Cecil Blake, 31, were each indicted on two counts of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree attempted murder, and numerous weapons offenses.

    They had initially been charged as accomplices to murder. All four remain incarcerated.

    Felicita Gee, 43, Fantasia Gee, 24, as well as Hill and Santiago, were indicted on one count of third-degree hindering apprehension for giving false information to law enforcement officers.

    Surveillance footage from the area, obtained by homicide investigators and described in an NJ Advance Media story, showed Santiago getting into a black Chevrolet Impala owned by Felicita Gee on the 100 block of Cummings Avenue, court documents show

    Nearby, two men -- Blake, who was wearing a wool hat, and McNeil, who had on a ski mask -- exited another car, a white Lexus driven by Hill and climbed into the black Impala, documents show.

    Footage shows, they parked across the street and approached Santana and Rodriguez, who were sitting in a black Ford Taurus.  

    Moments later they were executed, shot in their heads and necks.

    "During this interaction, at least one of the suspects (Santiago, McNeil, Blake) entered the back seat of the black Ford Taurus and fatally shot both Jerard Perdomo Santana and Ivan Rodriguez from within," a probable cause affidavit in the case reads. 

    A 25-year-old man who intended to buy the pill from Santana was in a green Ford Taurus behind them, and was shot at when he accelerated away from the gunmen.

    The three gunmen ran back to the black Impala and sped off, footage shows. At Morris Avenue and Washington Street, they ditched two handguns. 

    Footage at Liberty Avenue and Chambers Street shows the black Impala blowing through a red light.

    Investigators haven't seen the car since. 

    During questioning, Felicita Gee, who owned the black Impala, told investigators conflicting stories about the car. Her daughter, Fantasia Gee was dating McNeil at the time of the murder. 

    Investigators found texts from Fantasia Gee about the killings in the days following and texts between Fantasia Gee and Felicita Gee the day of the shooting.  

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


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    The suspect, charged with death by auto, is also charged with drunken driving

    The Hamilton man charged with death by auto after striking a 13-year-old boy riding a skateboard early Thursday drank vodka at a concert hours before the crash, court documents allege.

    Mauricio Velastegui, 34, is also charged with drunken driving, Hamilton police confirmed Friday.

    Velastegui, was driving west on Nottingham Way when he crossed the double yellow line at about 12:30 a.m. and struck the boy, who was on the eastbound side near the curb, near Gregory Drive, police have said.

    The teen died at a Trenton hospital a short time later.

    The probable cause affidavit Hamilton police filed against Velastegui describes an officer talking to Velastegui at the scene. He first told police he had an alcoholic drink at about 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

    Based on that, police gave him field sobriety tests, and when he failed them - and police smelled alcohol on his breath - they arrested him on suspicion of drunken driving, and took him to the police station and gave him a blood alcohol test.

    The result was .07, the affidavit says.

    In New Jersey, the legal threshold for drunk driving is .08, but a person can be convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol for blood alcohol levels under .08.

    After the test, and after they read him his rights, Velastegui agreed to talk with police and told them he awoke at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday and never slept the rest of the day, the affidavit said.

    That night, he drove to Middlesex County, met up with a friend, and they went to the PNC Banks Arts Center to see a concert. (The Dave Matthews Band played that night.)

    Before the show, he and his friend drank vodka, and Velastegui told cops that he had two 16-ounce cups of of orange soda and vodka from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

    After the concert, he ate a pretzel, and drank a shot of vodka before he drove out of the parking lot, the affidavit said.

    The document says another 13-year-old witnessed the crash, and police found visible marks that indicated Velastegui braked before the crash, police wrote.

    It was unclear Friday if Velastegui had a lawyer, or when he is scheduled to be in court.

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

     

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    About 100 people showed up at Hamilton's Township Council meeting to hear details of an ongoing investigation into the animal shelter only to be told two hours before the start of the session that it was being canceled.

    Animal lovers and activists are really riled up in Hamilton following accusations that the township's animal shelter has a high kill rate and has management and budget problems.

    About 100 people showed up at Tuesday night's township council meeting to hear details of an ongoing investigation into the animal shelter only to be told two hours before the start of the session that it was being canceled.

    The reason: "Additional serious allegations regarding the animal shelter" had come to light and needed further scrutiny, according to a statement issued by four of the five council members.

    "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," said the statement signed by council members Jeff Martin, Anthony Carabelli Jr., Rich Tighe and Ileana Schirmer.

    Last month, Martin called for an investigation of the shelter, questioning why the number of animals euthanized has not decreased substantially despite an increase in the shelter's budget, staff and capacity.

    Shelter accused of 'killing innocent animals'

    In 2015, the shelter, on Sylvan Avenue near Route 295, underwent a $1.1 million renovation that increased the number of dog kennels from 20 to 36 and doubled the space for stray cats. The facility also expanded the animal medical area and added two new adoption rooms and a grooming area.

    Councilman Tighe pointed out that the number of animals put down at the shelter has decreased only 1 percent while its operating budget has increased by 44 percent in the last four years.

    But Republican Mayor Kelly Yaede called the animal shelter investigation a "political sunt."

    "Council Members Martin, Carabelli and Tighe (all Democrats) 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.

    That there is friction between Democrats and Republicans is not surprising. But we have to keep in mind that the legislative powers of the council and the executive powers of the mayor are meant to be a check on each other.

    If allegations of incompetence or wrongdoing were to surface in any tax-supported agency, it would be a dereliction of duty not to check it out.

    We encourage the council to do its job and we encourage the Hamilton administration to cooperate fully. Let's establish the facts and go from there.

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

     

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    Some of the lifers are eligible for parole. Here what got them locked up


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    And paying passengers are up 145 percent in the past five calendar years


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    A foundation, a promise and a 20-year-old's name is alive Watch video

    As Jim and Helene Leona go about their daily lives in the Hamilton area, their son Nick Leona is always on their minds.

    How could he not be?

    He was only 20 when he died of a heroin overdose a year ago today. For them, and his sister Alyssa, remembering Nick will never fade.

    But what keeps Nick alive in the community are a series of "little things."

    Like when Helene spots memorial wristbands bearing her son's name on a young person in line ahead of her at a store.

    Or when a patron picks up their tab at a local restaurant because they know the Leonas and they clearly know what happened. That happened this past fall.

    Or when the couple and their daughter participated in a Recovery Advocates fundraising walk last fall under the name Team Leona. They hoped some others would join them.

    About 90 people showed up to join them in walking for Nick's memory, astonishing them.

    "As dark as the days are sometimes, there is always a light," Helene said.

    Those little things, "They're big for us."

    Nicholas James Leona lived life large, and it might be easier, maybe, to deal with their grief in private, and quietly move on, they say.

    But that would not be the Nick way. Whether it was baseball, and all the extra batting cage time, or just life, Nick Leona was a 100 percent-effort kind of guy, his family says.

    nick2.jpgNicholas Leona passed away on July 22, 2017. (Family photos) 

    "So for us, we just push forward because that's how he lived," Helene said.

    Pushing forward has another side to it, too.

    That's where family friend, and Nick's godfather, John Rossi plays a major role.

    He's been the thrust behind the tangible, visible way Nick lives on -- a foundation, a website, and accompanying Facebook page.

    And a few weeks ago, the Nicholas James Leona (NJL) Memorial Fund made its first donation -- $1,000 to the Hamilton High School West Baseball Boosters. (Nick starred for Hamilton West.)

    It's part of a public pledge Rossi made last year, to the Leonas and NJ Advance Media, in the story of Nick's death.

    He's delivered.

    Rossi, the Leonas and others close to them are all involved in the effort, but Rossi is the engine.

    He joked this week about the "homework" he gives Helene. "I am relentless, I call her almost every week," he said, in a lighter moment.

    "Everybody has a role in this. These are friendships over 35 years, and I know I was his godfather, and will be for the rest of my life. But this is my family too, it's my job and my calling," Rossi said of the foundation and the work to keep Nick's spirit alive.

    But, he cautions, "It's never about me"

    "It's always about Nick, and (the Leonas)," Rossi said. "We're gonna see this through and make this happen."

    Nicholas James Leona Memorial FundHamilton High School West baseball coach Mike Moceri, left, accepts the first annual check from Helene and James Leona for the Nicholas James Leona Memorial Fund in June 2018. (Michael Mancuso | NJ.com) 

    The work they've done creating and fundraising for the foundation has kept them involved in an epidemic that seems to be getting worse statewide and nationwide, but for their circle of friends, it's been an eye-opening after eye-opening experience of breaking through.

    More little things.

    Like when Rossi's sister's daughter won $50 in a drug awareness poster contest and donated the prize to the Leona foundation. "She's now 11. It shows she's been educated about this," Rossi said.

    Or when Jim, Nick's father, was tracked down after the baseball booster dinner, when they made the check donation.

    "Jim, Jim," he recalls the man saying, tracking him down as he walked out the door. Jim wept at the microphone that night, and this father did too.

    "The guy was crying about me having enough courage to talk in front of people," Jim said.

    It might seem embarrassing to some, Jim said, to talk about your child's addiction -- which turned fatal.

    It's not, and it's worth it.

    "This is what keeps me driven, when you see you're helping other people," Jim said.

    "For us it's been a nonstop type of year, and all of it's been near and dear, and we're really going to keep everything going," Jim said.

    Rossi said it's the "if we can reach one person" mentality.

    They'll take any opportunity to reach that one person about heroin, or drugs in general. For example, anyone reading this story.

    And they're ready with their message: 

    "This is not a drug you can try. It's Russian roulette. If you want to try heroin, it may be your last day," Rossi said.

    Says Alyssa, "Not everyone fits a stereotype of a heroin addict." Ask questions, deal in truth. "It's important for me that I tell people the truth that my brother died of an overdose -- he was a heroin addict."

    "(We) just want to help other people, so that they never have to go through what we've gone through," Rossi said.

    Today, it's a year. They plan no end.

    This is how Nicholas James Leona lives on.

    For more information about the NJL Memorial Fund, click here.

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

     


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    It takes special training -- and a mental toughness -- to impersonate children or child traffickers in these online stings, investigators say


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    Each of New Jersey's 21 counties is governed by a board of chosen freeholders. The number of members on the boards vary from three to nine.


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    Pets throughout the state await adoption from shelters and rescues.

    If you're interested in helping homeless animals but aren't able to adopt one, there are a number of other ways you can be of assistance.

    Realistically, not everyone can adopt. People who live in apartments or developments that have no-pets policies fall into that category, as do people with allergies or disabilities that will not allow them to care for pets of their own. Here are some suggestions for ways people who want to help can participate in caring for homeless animals.

    * Help out at a local shelter. It's not glamorous work by any means, but it's vital and will be very much appreciated. You can do anything from help walk dogs to bottle feed kittens, help clean kennels or cat's cages or even help with bathing and grooming. Contact your local shelter to find out their policies regarding volunteers.

    * If you're handy, you can lend a hand in many ways. Shelters usually need repairs of many kinds, so fixer-uppers can help out like that. If you sew, quilt or crochet, you can make blankets for your local shelter.

    * Help out at an adoption event. Many shelters and rescue groups participate in local events by hosting a table with pets available for adoption. They also hold these program at malls, pet supply stores and banks, and can always use a helping hand.

    * For galleries like this one and for online adoptions sites, often a shelter or rescue group doesn't have the time or equipment to shoot good photos of their adoptable pets. Something as simple as making yourself available to shoot and provide digital files of pet photos can be a big help.

    * Donate. It doesn't have to be money; shelters need cleaning supplies, pet food, toys for the animals and often even things we don't think twice about getting rid of like old towels and newspapers. Every little bit helps.

    If you don't know where your local animal shelter or rescue group is, a quick online search will reveal a number of results. It doesn't take a lot of time or effort to get involved but it provides immeasurable assistance.

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


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    The three-story house in Hamilton collapsed on Monday morning Watch video

    UPDATE: Officials said at a 2 p.m. press conference that a 38-year-old woman was killed in the house collapse. 

    One person was rescued after a three-story house collapsed on South Broad Street in Hamilton on Monday morning, authorities said. 

    Rescuers were working to free two other people trapped in the rubble as of 8 a.m., according to Hamilton police.

    The home on the 1800 block of South Broad Street collapsed shortly before 7 a.m. The person who was pulled from the home, which is about two blocks from the Trenton border, didn't suffer serious injuries. 

    South Broad Street is closed in the area. It is unclear what caused the collapse.

    The Hamilton Fire Department declined to comment.

    hamilton-house-collapse-google.jpgThe house on South Broad Street is shown in a Google Street View image. 

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     


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    The fire broke out in the engine car of a train traveling near Princeton Junction

    Service has resumed on the Northeast Corridor on Monday morning after a fire on a New Jersey Transit train forced the line to be briefly shut down between Trenton and Metropark. 

    The fire broke out in the engine car of a train traveling near Princeton Junction around 10:20 a.m, according to a New Jersey Transit spokeswoman.

    While the blaze produced heavy smoke, it didn't spread to any other part of the train. None of the 300 passengers and crew aboard were injured as all left the train safely, NJ Transit said. 

    Service has resumed with 30 minute delays and eastbound trains are skipping both the Hamilton and Princeton Junction stations. 

    Train 3834 left Trenton at 9:52 a.m and was scheduled to arrive at New York Penn Station at 11:16 a.m before it caught fire. 

    The cause of the fire is under investigation, the spokeswoman said. 

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     
     

     


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    A U.S. District Court judge in New Jersey approved a temporary injunction against Lifetime Brands, the company behind names like KitchenAid and Mikasa.

    A U.S. District Court judge in New Jersey has ordered Lifetime Brands, the company behind such names as KitchenAid and Mikasa, to reinstate two employees it is alleged to have fired for attempting to unionize.

    Judge Brian Martinotti on Tuesday ordered a temporary injunction against Lifetime Brands, Inc., saying he found reasonable cause to believe the company committed unfair labor practices at its Robbinsville warehouse when it terminated employees engaged in this protected union activity.

    As part of the temporary order, Lifetime Brands was ordered to stop discharging or discriminating against employees who support unionization, to stop interrogating employees over their union support, to refrain from offering employees promotions to "induce" employees to withdraw their support for unionization, and to no longer threaten to close the warehouse or fire employees if they choose representation.

    The case is scheduled before a NLRB administrative law judge July 31.

    Murphy, public workers union agree on contract

    In the petition for the temporary injunction, the regional director for the National Labor Relations Board in Newark said the company's actions had a "chilling effect" on unionizing at the facility.

    Lifetime Brands' "retaliatory disciplines caused employees to avoid union representatives by refusing to return their telephone calls and some of the most active union supporters indicated to union organizers that they no longer wished to take active roles in the organizing campaign," the petition said.

    An attorney representing Lifetime Brands, Michael Taylor, declined to comment. But in response to the petition, the company denied violating the National Labor Relations Act.

    Lifetime Brands also was given five days to offer two employees, Rafael Ordonez and Anaudy Sanchez, their jobs back. The company had already rehired three employees and two others had chosen to retire, said Jose Vega, an organizer with United Service Workers Union Local 947 who was collaborating with the warehouse employees. 

    Ordonez was a 25-year employee at the Robbinsville facility warehouse when he was fired in July 2017, according to the request for the injunction.

    "The union's campaign momentum led (Lifetime Brands) to target Rafael Ordonez, the leading internal union organizer, and another union adherent by pouncing on minor safety violations and abruptly terminating them," the petition said.

    Ordonez was first offered a promotion, which he declined, and was then fired after his employer concocted a safety violation, the petition said. 

    The company argued they were fired "for serious safety related conduct."

    Vega said Ordonez's firing "shook" employees.

    "People are very afraid that what happened to Mr. Ordonez is going to happen to them," he said.

    Then last September, the petitions said, other employees were "coerced" into resigning, the petition, said, after a supervisor who drove them to the facility for work announced that he was resigning, and they no longer had transportation to Robbinsville from New York. He was rehired once they had resigned.

    "The evidence demonstrates that (the supervisor's) abrupt decision to resign, without giving employees a chance to obtain alternate transportation, was a subterfuge created ... to force the employees' departure," the petition said.

    Despite the decision in their favor, Vega said employees "won't believe anything until they see him back."

    Samantha Marcus may be reached at smarcus@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @samanthamarcus. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.

     

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    The 38-year-old mother who was killed was found on top of her 16-year-old daughter. Her other daughter, 20, was helped from the rubble

    house collapse in Hamilton Township Monday morning killed a 38-year-old mother and injured her two daughters, who were rescued from the rubble, authorities said. 

    Rescuers who arrived at the 7 a.m. incident on the 1800 block of South Broad Street helped a 20-year-old woman escaping the rear of the collapsing three-story house, authorities said.

    "They heard screams coming from the center of the dwelling," Hamilton Fire Department Capt. Ferdi Mather said. " They found the deceased victim on top of the 16-year-old daughter, who was subsequently removed."

    Both daughters were taken to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton, where they were listed in serious, but stable condition, he said. No one else was believed to be in the house, but dogs were brought in to assist rescuers with going through the wreckage.

    "We're in the process of doing secondary searches now," Mather said.

    The cause of the collapse is unknown, but Mather said it is not believed to have been the result of an explosion.

    "At this time we do not not believe that to be the case, given that the house had a pancake-type collapse," Mather said. "Everything was compacted at the scene."

    The home was a rental unit and the last certificate of occupancy was issued in 2013, officials said.

    Officials said they were called to the home 14 years ago when occupants heard a popping sound, but an investigation didn't turn up anything to indicate the home was structurally unsound. 

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     
     

     


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    A 26-inch sculpture by Philadelphia artist Dina Wind called David's Harp is magnified to 26 feet Watch video

    Grounds For Sculpture does things in a big way.

    Remember the giant statue of Marilyn Monroe designed by Seward Johnson? It was a 26-foot tall rendering of America's most iconic sex symbol. 

    That startlingly lifelike work was based on one of the most famous images of Monroe, taken from the film "The Seven Year Itch."

    Marilyn may have left the building, but now there's a new 26 footer that's just been installed on the grounds.

    It's not a realistic larger-than-life woman.

    This work, titled David's Harp and an equally precise translation in its own way, is a magnification of a 26-inch "found objects" piece by Philadelphia artist Dina Wind.

    Wind, who succumbed to ovarian cancer in 2014 at the age of 76, was born in Israel and came to America in 1963 with her family.

    In the late 1960's she started painting, but was later introduced to sculpture and welding by a friend and almost instantly put painting aside.

    Speaking in the Grounds for Sculpture's (GFS) museum building, her son John Wind said, "She told me years later that a blank canvas was much less welcoming to her than a pile of scrap metal."

    "There was something about assembling that spoke to her," he said.

    GFS Chief Curator Tom Moran pointed out that in her time, Wind belonged to a rare group of women, "who were not intimidated by taking a torch and welding things with their bare hands."

    Wind's original Harp of David was only 26 inches high. The enlarged version at 26 feet high, 24 feet wide and 22 feet deep, was fabricated across the street from GFS at The Seward Johnson Atelier.

    For the artists there, creating such a monument was a, well, a monumental task, involving months of work, finding and creating suitable materials and techniques to faithfully render the artist's original work on such a large scale. 

    Project manager Susan Dunsmore called the whole process "fascinating to watch."

    "The care and the attention these guys have done is unbelievable." said Jerry Wind, Susan's widower.

    Expo preview

    Due to it's massive size, the sculpture was bought out of the atelier in sections and transported to it's carefully selected site.

    Last week, sparks were still flying as welders from the atelier set the finishing touches, applying what Charles Haude, director at The Seward Johnson Atelier, called "the pretty weld."

    David's Harp stands in it's own space but in proximity to other nearby sculptures, some of it's graceful lines and elegant shapes resonating with surrounding tree limbs and even passing clouds.  

    "David soothed an ailing and anxious King Saul by playing his harp," John Wind said, seaking of his mother's sculpture. "There's something to it and it seems fitting for today's world more than ever - the soothing and healing power of art."

    Michael Mancuso may be reached at mmancuso@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @michaelmancuso, Instagram @michaelmancuso and Facebook @michaelmancuso
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