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Central Jersey News from the Times of Trenton

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    Crime across the state is down, but more and more minors -- some not yet teens -- are getting arrested for violent crimes


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    Dogs and cats throughout New Jersey await adoption.

    Canines and their owners are invited to Roosevelt Park in Edison on Oct. 7 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the fourth annual DogFest New Jersey benefiting Canine Companions for Independence.

    dogfest.jpgDogFest New Jersey takes place on Oct. 7 at Roosevelt Park in Edison. 

    DogsFest will include speakers, dog demonstrations, music, food and more. The annual event raises funds for Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit provider of trained assistance dogs with six regional training centers across the country.

    Established in 1975, Canine Companions provides "highly trained assistance dogs to children and adults with disabilities and is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs, and quality and longevity of the matches it makes between dogs and people." There is no charge for the dog, its training and on-going follow-up services. For more information, visit cci.org or call 1-800-572-2275.

    Individuals who raise at least $250 will receive a special DogFest gift. Information on DogFest New Jersey and fundraising for Canine Companions is available by going to support.cci.org/site/TR?fr_id=1610&pg=entry.

    Roosevelt Park is located on Roosevelt Drive.

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


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    Trenton's oldest park - designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York's Central Park - got a multi-million dollar makeover


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    These are the 20 biggest questions surrounding boys soccer in New Jersey.


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    See the 28 biggest games in N.J. boys soccer this week.


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    The best matchups of the fifth week of the season


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    His base salary is currently about $102,000 annually, state records show

    A Trenton police officer who was charged earlier this month with raping two minors will stay jailed until his trial, the Burlington Country Prosecutor's Office said. 

    William Sanchez-Monllor copy.jpgWilliam Sanchez-Monllor 

    William L. Sanchez-Monllor, 36, of Burlington Township, is charged with 10 total counts of sexual assault, as well as two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

    Sanchez-Monllor was initially facing charges for assaulting one minor, and now faces the 12 crimes for two alleged victims, authorities have said.

    Prosecutors filed a motion to detain him, which a judge granted last week. He remains incarcerated in the Burlington County jail.

    Prosecutors said the alleged abuse occurred on multiple occasions in Burlington County with both victims. Details of the assaults were sealed by a state Superior Court judge. 

    A prosecutor's office spokesperson said Sanchez-Monllor's next step will be to appear in front of a grand jury, which will determine if he will be indicted on the charges he faces. 

    Trenton Police did not immediately respond Monday to questions about the status of Sanchez-Monllor within the department. 

    His base salary is currently about $102,000 annually, state records show. 

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

     

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    Gangs have always been a problem in New Jersey, particularly in urban areas like Trenton.

    Twenty-five years ago, rival gangs clashed in a fierce melee in a West Ward park in Trenton. News accounts of the rumble said that gang members battled with knives and chains before a young teenager fired 10 gunshots at his rivals, causing the mob to scatter.

    Gangs have always been a problem in New Jersey, particularly in urban areas like Trenton, where poverty and broken homes provided fertile breeding grounds for young hoodlums.

    But as the 20th century gave way to the 21st, gangs evolved on a national scale, with chapters of violent gangs such as the Bloods and Crips spreading like a cancer.

    In Trenton, members of the Bloods and Latin Kings gangs were becoming an increasing problem by 2003, even though then Mayor Douglas Palmer was reluctant to admit it.

    Now gangs have evolved into highly localized organizations much like their predecessors from the 1950s, but much more lethal, according to law enforcement officials.

    At a recent hearing of the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation in Trenton, experts testified that these neighborhood gangs are unlike the larger groups in that they have no allegiance to a national base and adhere to their own harsh rules. These local street gangs tend to have very fluid structures and leadership, making it hard for police to keep track of them.

    What is worrisome about these micro gangs it that the members are often mere children, some as young as 12 or 14 years old.

    Steven Smith, a Trenton juvenile police officer, told the SCI panel that some of those arrested were so young that they could not be handcuffed because their wrists were too small.

    But as young as these gang member are, they are adept at using social media to organize and make threats, experts say. And it is through violence that these young gang members prove themselves to their peers.

    Neighbors, cops have to work together to end violence | Editorial

    "It is a chaotic world where law enforcement is struggling to catch up, and it is a world where kids grow up expecting to die in violence," said Lee C. Seglem, SCI executive director.

    And these juvenile gang members are well-armed, officials said at the hearing. Teenagers can easily obtain guns that are stolen and freely passed around.

    From 2015 through 2017, there was a 26 percent increase of juveniles charged with gun offenses statewide, according to an account on Philly.com. And in Trenton, there was a 200 percent increase in juvenile shooting victims.

    Combatting gang activity has never been an easy task and as long as the root problems of poverty, poor schools and lack of wholesome youth activities and jobs are present, we can expect gangs to continue to flourish.

    It's going to take a multi-prong effort on the part of state, municipal, civic and church groups to tackle this problem.

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

     

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    A couple of upsets this week have changed the statewide landscape.


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    "I try to make history come alive in my classroom."

    Ocean County history teacher William "Bill" Smith threw out the first pitch at one of the Trenton Thunder's final games to celebrate his award for 2018-19 Ocean County Teacher of the Year.

    He is a Hamilton native and Rider University graduate.

    1819William Smith.jpgBill Smith 

    Smith has taught history for more than 10 years, and is currently teaches seventh and eighth grades at Southern Regional Middle School, in Manahawkin.

    "Bill's dynamic and engaging teaching style has led to a score increase in interdisciplinary summative assessments, while gaining him recognition in (the media), " the New Jersey Department of Education says of his honor.

    "He is passionate about character education and has given workshops on the role that history and social studies can play in adolescent character development," the state says.

    Each year, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) initiates a four-step process to select a teacher as New Jersey's Teacher of the Year.

    It is an initiative that is also known as the Governor's Educator of the Year Program. It starts at the school, then district and county level, before moving to a state overall teacher of the year.

    Smith hopes to be a finalist, but says, "Just to make it this far has been an incredible experience. I've been so honored and humbled to make it this far."

    Smith explained that when teachers win State Teacher of the Year, they have to leave the classroom from January to June to work for the State.

    "The winner is gonna be completely out of the classroom. That would be a big adjustment for me," he said.

    However, he said that he agreed to the challenge, and would embrace the journey and the opportunity to affect change in a positive way. But he would miss his students if he goes to the State. 

    "That part would be a bit sad. I am so much more comfortable in the classroom. That's where I really thrive," he said.

    Smith says he has an average class size of around 25 students and they like his engaging and interactive teaching style, and his passion for history.

    He said the positive rapport that he fosters with his students is one of his greatest strengths, and his students are one of the main reasons he won this award.

    Smith studied history and education at Rider University from where he graduated in 2007, and taught in Hunterdon and Burlington counties before teaching in Ocean County.

    He's a graduate student at the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland, where he researches 19th-century British abolitionism, the state entry for him says.

    He is enjoying his distinction, and has more recognition and speaking events to attend. He also plans to go to Germany next April to learn about their education system. And, he said he might also shoot for the stars and apply for a Fulbright grant.

    Meanwhile, all the county teachers of the year are waiting to hear who will make the finals for the state Teacher of the Year. The announcement is Wednesday, Oct. 3

    Follow NJ.com on Twitter @njdotcom. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Mercer County will hold a public meeting later this month on the plan's environmental assessment

    The eventual replacement of Trenton-Mercer Airport's passenger terminal and other work took a significant step forward recently with the hiring of a Philadelphia engineering firm.

    Urban Engineers Inc. will consult Mercer County by investigating sites and developing an environmental assessment (EA), as well as provide preliminary design work for a new passenger terminal, Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes announced recently.

    Urban Engineers will do this work under a contract with the county that is not to exceed $4,461,570 and that runs for a year starting Sept. 14, 2018.

    The county, which owns the airport, calls this work at the airport Phase 1, and includes associated projects such as air-side aprons and roadways, and land-side roadways and a new parking garage.

    Earlier this summer, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) accepted the county's Master Plan for the airport, and approved their Airport Layout Plan - which called for the new terminal, as well as re-paving taxiways and runways and upgrading the lighting.

    Urban Engineers knows the airport well - the firm prepared the Master Plan.

    Water canon welcomes flight from Miami to Trenton-Mercer AirportTrenton-Mercer Airport, 2017 file photo. (Michael Mancuso | NJ.com)

    In an announcement, Hughes again touted the airport's soaring passenger numbers.

    "Recent year-over-year figures for August show air traffic and passenger increases across the board at Trenton-Mercer Airport," Hughes said. "It is time to provide customers with a modern, efficient airport terminal to accommodate the growing base."

    Hughes has made growth and upgrades at the airport a tenet of his administration.

    With discount carrier Frontier Airlines as the airport's leading carrier, passenger traffic has exploded in the past several years.

    Last year, the number of paying passengers using the airport numbered 363,626. And in 2011, there were just 3,414 paying passengers.

    In related news, the county also recently received two recent grants from the FAA's airport improvement program. They total $687,243 and will pay for work on two taxiways.

    Mercer County will have a meeting open to the public on Oct. 23 to get input on the environmental assessment (EA). It's scheduled for 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Element Hotel, 1000 Sam Weinroth Road East in Ewing.

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


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    Proposed projects range from new roofs to renovated gymnasiums, but no new schools. State taxpayers could reimburse the districts more than $100 million, depending on the votes.


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    The best players and keepers in N.J. boys soccer this week.


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    Johnnie Holloway Jr., 45, of New Brunswick, was struck shortly after 8 p.m. near milepost 74.4 in Ewing

    A New Brunswick man was hit and killed by a car Monday after authorities say he got out of his broken down vehicle and began walking along I-295 South.

    Johnnie Holloway Jr., 45, was struck shortly after 8 p.m. near milepost 74.4 in Ewing, according to Trooper Alejandro Goez.

    "His car had broken down on a shoulder of the road," Goez said.

    Listen to NJ.com on Alexa, or via a daily podcast

    Holloway was hit by a car driven by a 51-year-old man from Vero Beach, Florida, the trooper said. No charges were filed.

    The crash is under investigation, Goez said.

    Anthony G. Attrino may be reached at tattrino@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TonyAttrino. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    Authorities estimate the drugs seized are worth more than $11,000

    Two men have been arrested and charged after authorities discovered they'd allegedly been packaging and selling heroin out of a salon and barber shop in Trenton. 

    Multiple law enforcement agencies investigated the operation for seven months, and arrested Ruben Stouth, 53, and Robert Alicea, 48, both of Trenton, the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office said. 

    Prosecutors allege Stouth was selling drugs on Spring Street in Trenton when officers chased after and arrested him last Thursday, Sept. 27, the office said Tuesday. 

    Screen Shot 2018-10-02 at 12.57.26 PM.pngRuben Stouth (left) and Robert Alicea. (Mercer County Prosecutor's Office) 

    Officers then searched the Dominican Salon and Barber Shop on the 200 block of Spring Street and found 40 bricks of heroin, five grams of raw heroin and packaging and shipping supplies. 

    They also allegedly found a loaded .38 Special revolver, $1,239 in cash and 176 tramadol pills.

    Prosecutors said Alicea's home was the residence attached to the barber shop.

    At Stouth's New York Avenue house in the city's north end and officers allegedly found a loaded Colt .45 handgun, a metal drug press used to "re-rock" narcotics and paperwork in his name.

    Stouth was also allegedly found with two bundles of suspected heroin in the trunk of his BMW and nine-and-a-half OxyContin pills and $883 in cash in his possession.

    Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri estimates the seized drugs are worth about $11,360, the office said.

    Both men are charged with multiple narcotic and weapons offenses and the prosecutor's office has filed a motion to have Stouth detained until his trial. Alicea was released, pending his.

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


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    Turns out the students were innocent - a case of mistaken identity. Cops were looking for armed robbery suspects

    Two Rowan University students were pulled over and held at gunpoint on campus Monday after what the university said was an apparent case of mistaken identity in searching for a car used in a nearby crime.

    The college said the incident was traumatizing to the students, and caused questions and concerns on the campus of 18,000 students.

    Around 4:45 p.m. Monday, a male and a female student were driving near campus when cops turned their lights on and pulled them over. The students pulled into the Mimosa Hall parking lot on campus and exited the car with their hands up - as directed by police.

    Videos from students and staff nearby show a collection of police cars and officers with their weapons drawn.

     

    About an hour later, the university said in an alert to students and staff that the situation had been resolved without incident.

    On Facebook, a man who said he was one of the people pulled over, wrote: "Playing with my life at gunpoint. I cant keep quiet like my voice doesn't matter, Im pressing Hard. If you believe in the cause Share it for the culture, everyone gotta know this kind of harassment needs to stop. Am i not suppose to feel safe on my campus?"

    The person did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He wrote that the incident lasted about 90 minutes.

    On Tuesday, the university told NJ Advance Media that the students had been pulled over after the car they were driving fit the description from a 911 call of one seen leaving the scene of a nearby armed robbery.

    "Thinking that it's the suspects from the 911 call, and thinking that they (the suspects) are armed, police followed protocol," Joe Cardona Rowan's Vice President for University Relations said.

    Cardona said Glassboro police initially responded to the 911 call and that campus police officers joined in shortly after when the car was stationary.

    Glassboro Police did not immediately respond to a request for information.

    Cardona said the Rowan alert about the incident went out after it had already been resolved, which is different than other emergency-related incidents, because the apparent suspects were in front of police at the time.

    The parking lot is in a highly-trafficked area of campus, sitting between athletic fields and a residence hall.

    Cardona said the university has talked with the students involved and offered counseling services, calling the incident "traumatizing." 

    "They're upset. I mean, they're just driving to campus and they're met by police and all these guns," he said. "Were moving forward from here. There's probably going to be some open meetings about it."

    Rowan's student government also released a statement, saying that videos of the incident are circulating on social media and encouraging students to seek counseling at the University Wellness Center.

    "Considering the nature of the encounter, we understand this content can be triggering for a number of reasons," Rbrey Singleton, Student Government Association president wrote in an online post.

    Cardona said he was unsure if Glassboro police located the correct car in relation to the armed robbery.

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

     

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    The attacking midfielder came through when City needed him. Silva scored in the 87th minute, to hand the Citizens all three points

    While the end might be near for Jose Mourinho at Manchester United, a few teams breathed some life into their UEFA Champions League campaigns with late goals.

    Manchester City played one of the two early matches, and scored in the final three minutes to take all three points in Germany.

    Lyon rallied from two goals down to draw Shakhtar, and sit at the top of Group F. Benfica threw away a two goal lead after Ruben Dias was sent off, but Alfa Semedo ensured all three points for the Portuguese side with a 74th minute strike.

    But the surprise of the day came in Moscow, as CSKA stunned Real Madrid 1-0, and piled more pressure on Julen Lopetegui.

    TUESDAY RESULTS

    Group E

    AEK Athens 2-3 Benfica

    Bayern Munich 1-1 Ajax

    Group F

    Lyon 2-2 Shakhtar Donetsk

    Hoffenheim 1-2 Manchester City 

    Group G

    Roma 5-0 Viktoria Plzen

    CSKA Moscow 1-0 Real Madrid

    Group H

    Juventus 3-0 Young Boys

    Manchester United 0-0 Valencia

    TUESDAY'S THREE STARS 

    Paulo Dybala, Juventus

    A perfect 10 performance for the playmaker in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo. Dybala had a hat trick, in the 3-0 win over Young Boys. He was the Whoscored.com Man of the Match.

    Edin Dzeko, Roma

    Another hat trick, and another perfect 10 rating, for the Roma striker. Dzeko had two in the first half, and a third in stoppage time, as the Italian side rolled to a 5-0 win. He was the Whoscored.com Man of the Match.

    David Silva, Manchester City

    The attacking midfielder came through when City needed him. Silva scored in the 87th minute, to hand the Citizens all three points. He was the Whoscored.com Man of the Match with an 8.68 rating.

    Manchester City takes over Premier League lead with 2-0 win

    CSKA SHOCKS REAL MADRID, DYBALA HAT TRICK HAS JUVENTUS PRIMED

    On a day of early goals, the biggest came in Moscow. Nikola Vlasic needed under two minutes to give the hosts a 1-0 lead, and CSKA made it stand up, despite the visitors best efforts. Real Madrid hit the woodwork three times, but with some stars rested for the trip, the hosts went to the top of Group G with four points.

    In Turin, Dybala's stunning hat trick (with Cristiano Ronaldo suspended) led Juventus to the top of Group H with six points. With the Manchester United 0-0 draw against Valencia, the two teams are set for a home-and-home on match days three and four for control of the group.

    BEST OF THE REST

    Ajax went to Germany and got a 1-1 draw against Bayern Munich, with both goals coming in the first 22 minutes. 

    It is already an interesting season in the tournament, with so many of the top teams around Europe struggling for form early.

    WEDNESDAY SCHEDULE

    PSG vs. Red Star Belgrade, 12:55 p.m. EDT (TNT and Fubo.tv)

    Lokomotiv Moscow vs. Schalke, 12:55 p.m. EDT

    Tottenham vs. Barcelona (TNT and Fubo.tv)

    PSV Eindhoven vs. Internazionale

    Atletico Madrid vs. Club Brugge

    Napoli vs. Liverpool

    Borussia Dortmund vs. Monaco

    Porto vs. Galatasaray

    WHAT TO WATCH FOR WEDNESDAY

    The main storyline involves a sputtering Barcelona team heading to London in Group B action, to take on a Tottenham team that will have four starters out through injury.

    Dele, Mousa Dembele, Christian Eriksen, and Jan Vertonghen will all miss the match with the Catalan side, and it could see the Hotspurs with two losses from two. 

    If Inter beats PSV Eindhoven in Holland, Tottenham could be in trouble already.

    In Group A, Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund will look to move into pole position to advance with wins.

    In Naples, Liverpool will try to make it two wins from two in Group C, but Napoli will not make it easy. PSG will also try to rebound against Red Star Belgrade.

    Contact Sean Miller at seanmillertrentontimes@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean His podcast, Box to Box Football, can be found on iTunes here https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/box-to-box-football/id1208561351?mt=2


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    NJ.com picks the 32 games fans can't miss in Week 5


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    Which sophomores are turning heads in 2018?


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    Traffic is being diverted at exit 68B in Lawrence

    At least two adults were seriously injured in a three-vehicle crash along Route 295 in Lawrence on Wednesday morning. 

    Traffic was being diverted off exit at 68B after the collision at 8:22 a.m. on the southbound side near milepost 69, State Police said. One of the vehicles involved overturned.

    All southbound lanes through the area remained closed at 10:50 a.m. and delays were 25-30 minutes, according to 511nj.org, the state department of transportation's traffic website .

    Northbound lanes are open, but traffic is slow in the area of the crash. 

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

     

     


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