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Central Jersey News from the Times of Trenton

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    A fresh batch of group and conference rankings for NJ football is out. Where is your team ranked?

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    A driver spotted the flames and called police

    A motorist driving on Pennington-Rocky Hill Road early Wednesday discovered a house fire that ended up gutting the vacant home, police said.

    The house near Bailey Drive is listed for sale, authorities said.

    The driver called police at about 3:15 a.m. reporting a house engulfed in flames, said township police spokesman Lt. Chris Kascik. Officer John Ferner arrived arrived a few minutes later and confirmed it.

    Numerous fire units from around the Hopewell Valley fought the fire under the direction of Hopewell Fire Department Chief Joseph Novak. They had it under control at about 5 a.m., Kascik said.

    The home appears to be a total loss, Kascik said. The cause is under investigation by township police and fire authorities, and a Mercer County Prosecutors Office detective.

    Online real estate listings describe the home as a five-bedroom, two-bath home that dates to 1850. It sits on almost four acres and has multiple other garage-like structures on the property.

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


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    Complete list of N.J. boys soccer players that have committed to play at the next level

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    Christopher Feliciano could be program's winning coach by end of season

    By the end of this month, Rider University's women's volleyball coach Christopher Feliciano could be the program's all-time winner. And the team could claim its fifth straight winning record in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

    Neither, however, would be the highlight of the season. That occurred two weeks ago, when he became a father.

    Feliciano, who turns 38 this month, is in his eighth season at Rider. His first season the Broncs finished 5-25. For him, comebacks are nothing new.

    Growing up with learning disabilities, Feliciano often heard comments like, "You'll be good, but.'' Or, "It will be a struggle for you.''

    "I was not the best student in the world, or the most behaved,'' he said last week from his office in a hidden corner at Alumni Gym. "My mother probably spent more time in the principal's office than she did at her job.''

    His mom played professional volleyball in Puerto Rico, a passion passed on to her son and eventually surpassed his love of basketball.

    Growing up in Union, Feliciano would take a bus into Newark, to Martin Luther King Park, and walk up to the YMCA to play volleyball. He did that three straight years, playing club ball since Union High School did not offer the sport.

    Feliciano_091618_Volleyball.JPGFeliciano coaching at a recent game. (Rider U. photo by Peter G. Borg) 

    New Jersey City University did.

    As a student he not only played the sport but also returned to help coach his high school's newly-formed junior varsity program. He juggled studying Media Arts and Macroeconomics with jump starting his career. Unfortunately, soon he added juggling trips to the doctor, as his mother developed lung cancer.

    "There were moments when I'd go to class in Jersey City, come back to Union and take my mom to chemo, stop at Mr. Subs for a sandwich, then bring her back home. I'd hang out with her until my sister got home and then go to practice.''

    "In a way, playing volleyball was kind of like therapy for me. I felt most connected to her when I played the game,'' said Feliciano, named captain as a senior. "Obviously you see your best friend, the woman who has guided you through the years, being that sick; you need an outlet. It so happened I channeled my efforts positively into the team.

    "By the grace of God she got to see me graduate, which was one of her big things.''

    The cancer spread to her brain, and for two months near the end she could not speak. But on his graduation day in 2003, that night at a restaurant, she pulled her son close to her and managed to say, "Now go get your Master's.''

    "I wanted to keep the promise I made to her and I also wanted to set an example for my daughter. I wanted to make sure I could speak from a place that I knew, rather than saying it just to say it; so it would have more weight.''

    Ava Maria was born Sept. 27, 6.7 pounds and 19 inches.

    08-RVFeliciano-8.jpgFeliciano and Ava Maria. (Family photo) 

    "You hear all the stories,'' Feliciano said, wearing his favorite red New York Yankees baseball cap, "about, 'You're gonna fall in love,' and obviously you listen to people who have children. But when it happens, it is one of the most breath-taking life moments. It really is. It's been cool.

    "The only thing is,'' he added, smiling, "I wanted her to look like my wife. My wife is beautiful, but the baby came out the complete opposite. She looks more like me, and I'm not a pretty guy.''

    With 16 members on his volleyball team, baby-sitting will not be an issue when it comes to visits on campus. As it is, that's not a problem at home as the family is living with his in-laws in Middletown.

    "The life of a Division 1 coach is very challenging,'' he said. "Last week alone we had a match at home, staff meetings, practices and a weekend match in Baltimore. So having a support system is very strong. We're saving our money to purchase a home.''

    Work days average 10 hours, but that is what Feliciano has wanted since his JV coaching days - to be a Division 1 coach.

    Hired right out of college, Feliciano spent three years at a middle school in Newark, spent two more on the same level in Paterson, then back to Newark for two more. He was a part-time head coach at NJCU for both the men and women's teams, and from there took a position as an assistant coach at Fordham University in the Bronx.

    Three years ago Rider qualified for the MAAC Tournament for the first time in 11 years, a season in which he received votes as MAAC Coach of the Year. He was Coach of the Year in the New Jersey Athletic Conference while at NJSU in 2007.

    Now he finds himself rocking a baby at 2 a.m., tucked against one elbow, the other arm balancing videos in preparation for a game. He's usually at the office by 10:30 a.m., after hitting the sack around 4. "There aren't enough hours in the day,'' he said.

    "But it's easy to do all this when you have a wife who supports you the way she has, and my in-laws and my family. And the team has been very good through all these challenges.''

    That includes a couple of years ago when Feliciano was hospitalized with diverticulitis. That's when his nerd side resurfaced.

    Growing up reading hundreds of comic books to aid in his reading disability, during his time in the hospital he watched every episode of Arrow and the Flash on his iPad.

    The characters are among nearly two dozen in a pop culture craze called Funko Pops. High on a long shelf across from his desk are a collection of 3-inch plastic caricatures; not only DC comic collectables but also replicas from the Walking Dead, Star Wars, Games of Thrones, and the more well-known comic book heroes like Spider Man and Blonka.

    Feliciano could only laugh. Swiveling his chair he smiled up at the lineup (which on the far end included a tiny bobblehead of Yankees star Aaron Judge, in uniform when he played for the Trenton Thunder).

    "They all have significance of my life,'' he said. "I get it. As we get older we're supposed to grow up. But I never want to forget where I came from; like having big-time reading issues and my mom buying comic books for me to read to overcome those challenges.''

    A loyal son, an appreciative husband, a successful coach, a personable guy. And now a father, someone his newborn may one day quite fittingly call Funko Pops.

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    If passed by New Jersey voters, the act will authorize the state to issue $500 million in bonds for education-related projects.

    The Garden State's school children are hoping you'll have the wisdom to say "yes" to Public Question 1 when you head to the polls next month for the 2018 mid-term elections.

    We hope so, too.

    Voters who approve the ballot issue will also be saying "yes" to funding water infrastructure projects for our schools, to beefing up school security, and to giving county vocational schools and county colleges access to important grants for technical training.

    If passed, the act will authorize the state to issue $500 million in bonds whose sale would provide vital opportunities to schools, school districts, county vocational school districts and county colleges.

    A large percentage of the proceeds would focus on building and equipping facilities geared to technical education programs in the state - a need pointed out dramatically in a recent report commissioned by the New Jersey Business & Industry Association.

    Noting that the state is losing millennials at a dismaying clip, researchers suggested several antidotes for the so-called "brain drain." One would be expanding vocational-technical facilities that would turn out a more highly skilled - and therefore employable - workforce.

    N.J. voters will decide on $500M for school projects

    In addition, a considerable chunk of the money involved in the public question would go to upgrading water systems in our schools, as well as enhancing security for kindergarten through grade 12.

    From Sandy Hook to Parkland, images of school children covered in blood and running for cover haunt our days and nights. Protecting our youngsters and their teachers from harm should be - must be - our top priority.

    Historically, voters have been overwhelmingly receptive to statewide issues such as these.

    A total of 44 such questions made their way onto the ballot between 1995 and 2017; a whopping 91-percent of them (40) won approval.

    The lone exception was a $450 million bond issue in 2007 to fund stem cell research at state universities, according to the website

    Last year, for example, voters favored a plan to dedicate state revenue from settlements in environmental contamination lawsuits toward environmental projects. They also OK'd $125 million in bonds to provide grants to enrich our public libraries.

    It's heartening that almost two dozen lawmakers from both parties and both chambers of the Legislature stepped forward to sponsor this year's bond issue.

    While the focus in the past few tumultuous months has been on choosing next year's crop of elected officials, we urge you to take a few minutes to read over your sample ballot and get a sense of what this question is all about.

    And then mark the box that will help secure our children's future in the coming decades.

    Reminder: The deadline for registering to vote is Oct. 16. Contact your local election official to find out how.

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


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    Who are the most deserving players, teams and coaches of our eight midseason awards?

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    Look at the top sophomores in the state and cast your vote for the best of the best.

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    Thomas Murphy, 52, of Hamilton, died after he was hit by cars on South Broad Street, police said.

    A 52-year-old Mercer County man died Thursday after he was hit by two cars while attempting to dart across a street in Hamilton, authorities said.

    Thomas Murphy, of Hamilton, was hit about 6:40 a.m. by a car driven by a 74-year-old man from Hamilton who was traveling east on South Broad Street near Argonne Avenue, according to Hamilton Police Sgt. David Schultz.

    Murphy was then struck by a second vehicle driven by a 38-year-old man from Trenton, which was also traveling east, Schultz said.

    Murphy was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

    The driver of the first car was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton for injuries he suffered in the accident, Schultz said. The other driver was not hurt, Schultz said.

    The crash closed South Broad Street for nearly four hours as police investigated. The street was reopened to traffic at 10:21 a.m., Schultz said.

    Witnesses are asked to contact the Hamilton Police Traffic Unit at 609-581-4000. Information may also be left anonymously on the Hamilton Police Crime Tip Hotline at 609-581-4008. The crash is under investigation by Officer Paul Micharski.

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

    0 0 football writers make 27 bold predictions for Week 6

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    This is so beyond what most of us can carve at our kitchen tables.

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    From Bergen County all the way South, what are the top stories heading into counties?

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    A Robbinsville man acquitted of sexual assault in 2014 has been charged with luring for trying to get a young girl into his vehicle in Trenton, authorities allege.

    A Robbinsville man acquitted of sexual assault in 2014 has been charged with luring for trying to get a young girl into his vehicle in Trenton, authorities allege.

    Darren Maglione, 47, was arrested Friday morning for an incident that occurred Monday, the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office said.

    maglione.JPGDarren Maglione 

    At about 11 a.m. Monday, a man driving a black Porsche Cayenne pulled alongside a 5-year-old girl in the Prospect Village apartments and told her to "hop in the car."

    The girl said no, but the man persisted, repeating the line, "hop in the car," the criminal complaint against Maglione says.

    Two adults witnessed the interaction and one walked over and took the girl by the arm and the Porsche drove away. The witnesses were able to get some of the characters from the license plate, the prosecutor's office said.

    Trenton police responded and alerted prosecutor's detectives, and they were able to connect Maglione to the incident, and the sports car, the office said.

    Maglione was acquitted at trial in 2014 of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old West Windsor girl in 2009. The jury was hung on an endangering the welfare of a child charge, but prosecutors declined to prosecute the case further.

    The case and trial made headlines at the time.

    Prosecutor's detectives arrested Maglione at his home Friday with assistance of a U.S. Marshals fugitive task force.

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


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    No FCS team in the country is averaging more points

    The Princeton University football team might reach Category 5 status Saturday.

    They have blown through the early part of their schedule, winning all four games by an average of 45 points.

    Averaging 53 points per game, no team in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) is scoring more. And that's not the only category the Tigers are tearing through.

    No FCS team is averaging more yards per game (607). Defensively, Princeton is No. 2 nationally in points allowed (8), and no team has allowed fewer points in the second half: zero.

    Yes. Zero points allowed in the final two quarters.

    It has caused five fumbles and has four interceptions. By halftime, Princeton's average lead is 34-8.

    Ranked 21st in this week's Coaches' Poll, Princeton is also the least penalized team in the country at 2.2 flags per game. That has helped keep drives alive, as Princeton has scored 28 touchdowns and allowed just four.

    With its non-league schedule complete (50-7 over Butler, 51-9 over Monmouth, 66-7 over Lehigh), Princeton resumes its Ivy League schedule Saturday against Brown. At home (1 p.m.). Brown (1-3) is drying off from a 44-0 flood against Rhode Island.

    The 4-0 start is Princeton's best since 2015, though that team finished 5-5. The 2006 team started 6-0 and finished 9-1. The last time Princeton went unbeaten was 1964, going 9-0 behind All-American running back Cosmo Iacavazzi and coach Dick Colman's single-wing offense. That club won by an average score of 24-6.

    Surace, in his ninth year, has finally reached the .500 career mark (42-42). Since starting his venture 1-9 his first two years his record has been an impressive 40-24 (.625).

    While this may prove to be his best team, he is not about to even acknowledge that possibility. But he does throw accolades - as if he had a choice.

    "I expect us to play well,'' he said from his upstairs office at Jadwin Gym earlier this week. "We practice hard, we work hard, and they make a lot of sacrifices in terms of that. I expect our guys to perform because they practice hard, and well, and prepare hard, and our coaches do the same. I learned a long time ago you don't set limits.''

    The sky is the limit for this offense, led by senior quarterback John Lovett. The league's Offensive Player of the Year two seasons back (he missed last season due to injury), the Long Island product has been steady in each game. He has thrown 12 touchdown passes, including three last week against Lehigh. In that game he passed for 288 yards and ran for 111 - and another TD.

    Against Monmouth he threw five TD passes. At Columbia he passed for 135 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 174 yards and another two TDs. He should go over 1,000 yards passing for the season against Brown.

    Like all who excel at his position, he is supported by a strong running game and line. New Jersey product Charlie Volker has run for six touchdowns, as has Lovett.

    "We've recruited some very good running backs and offensive linemen,'' Surace said. "They are performing at a high level, and finishing runs as well as any time I've been here.''

    The run game averages 328 yards a game, fourth highest in the nation.

    "They have a great mind set,'' Surace added about the offense, "they're playing with terrific effort and making very few mental mistakes. And our decision making has been good. We're playing a lot of guys and playing well together. And there's a lot of talented players. I mean, we expect them to play well. We recruited them.''

    The OL has benefited from going against a talented D-line in practice, moving Surace to say, "I love how their communication and technique has been. There's another level they have to get to and they can reach that; starting this week we're going to be facing better D-lines."

    The defense, led by inside linebackers Tom Johnson and Mark Fossiti (seniors, both from Jersey), has created, "A mindset that we are going to pressure the ball,'' Surace said. "And our effort and energy have been top notch. They erase one play and go to the next one. They keep plugging away and plugging away.''

    So does the coach. At the office before sunrise, he and his staff often stay until 11 at night. But that's not unusual, whether they're 4-0 or 0-4.

    Perhaps part of Princeton's success is that Surace doesn't deviate from his easy-going nature. That's not to say a tough loss or losing sleep after a bad practice isn't upsetting, but, like any team, the quicker you move on the better.

    Following Saturday's game, Princeton will finish the second half of the season at Harvard (2-2), home against Cornell (2-2), home to Dartmouth (4-0), at Yale (2-2), and close at home Nov. 17 against Penn (3-1).

    By the end of the season the Princeton Tigers could be significantly downgraded.

    Or, they could leave the Ivy League corridor in ruins. 

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    A Hamilton home was hiding a secret in its walls, a train car that dates back to the 1900s.

    When Marc Manafredi and his real estate business partner, Brandon Breza, began remodeling a home on Smith Avenue in Hamilton, the last thing they expected to find was a train car hidden in the building's walls.

    "Looking for anyone who may be interested in this train car!!!!" Manafredi posted on his Facebook page on Oct. 9. "No joke everyone."

    Their real estate business originally bought the home, located behind the Grounds for Sculpture lake, in order to renovate it as a rental property.

    Manafredi and Breza knew the train car was inside the home after their first tour of the building because the structure and shape of the car was visible through the walls.

    "We wanted to fix up the house and make it as nice as possible," Manafredi told NJ Advance Media. "The more we stripped away the drywall and all the plaster we realized the whole car was there."

    The train car predates the house as it was enclosed in the center of the building, and is believed to date back to at least the early 1900s, according to Manafredi.

    Many of the car's original windows and shades are intact, as well as the door. The window shades show a manufacturer date from the early 1900s, but the exact age of the car is currently unclear.

    Manafredi's original Facebook post has gotten over 100 shares and has members of the community speculating on the origins of the train car.

    "We were just looking for someone who wanted to salvage this. We thought it was something really special," he said. "It's been a pretty busy couple of days. Everyone has a bunch of different opinions on where it came from."

    Some believe the car could be an old Trenton streetcar from the trolley lines that were discontinued in the 1930s; others suggested it might have belonged to Grounds for Sculpture.

    Manafredi said he and Breza are getting a lot of feedback from local train enthusiasts and are reaching out to companies that can help them remove the exterior of the house so the train car can be salvaged.

    The rest of the home has to be demolished, but Manafredi and Brezi are searching for people who can give the car a new home.

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

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    Initial plans call for using the funds partly for curbing diesel emissions from heavy-duty vehicles, buses and other equipment.

    In 2016, federal agencies settled a civil complaint against Volkswagen that charged the German car-maker with intentionally installing software in its 2.0 diesel engines that disabled emission controls under normal driving use.

    The practice sent thousands of tons of toxic nitrogen oxide into the air Americans breathe - in some case up to close to 40 times the accepted U.S limits.

    As part of the settlement with the feds, Volkswagen agreed to spend $14.7 billion to help clean up the mess it created. And now New Jersey residents get to have a say in where our portion of the money goes.

    The state Department of Environmental Protection will hold three public meetings to discuss the draft of a plan using the $72 million that's coming our way; the first is set for Oct. 17, from 2 to 4 p.m., at 301 East State St., Trenton, the department's headquarters.

    Every state is responsible for choosing how it invests its funds, depending on its infrastructure, specific needs and expected benefits.

    While many of the details in the Garden State's approach remain to be ironed out, initial plans call for using the funds partly for curbing diesel emissions from heavy-duty vehicles, buses and other equipment, particularly in municipalities labelled "environmental justice communities."

    Listen to on Alexa, or via a daily podcast

    The designation pertains to low-income communities and communities of color that often bear the brunt of pollution and the effects of climate change.

    After receiving and reviewing 121 proposals from communities and businesses seeking their piece of the settlement pie, the DEP has decided that one of the best ways to reduce the smog caused by nitrogen oxides is by beefing up our commitment to electric vehicles -- a priority Gov. Phil Murphy set early in his administration.

    The U.S. Department of Energy says electric vehicles not only reduce the emissions contributing to climate change and smog, but also improve public health and reduce ecological damage.

    Yet in the Garden State, only 0.4 percent of automotive sales in 2018 involved electric vehicles - in large part due to the anxiety many drivers experience that they will run out of power before they arrive at their destination.

    The DEP's proposed plan calls for installing charging stations for public use at government-owned property, with additional stations for users at their workplaces, and at their multi-unit homes.

    The upcoming hearing provide a chance for multiple voices to be heard, not just those of clean-energy advocates and environmental groups, but also private citizens who have a stake in guaranteeing that the air they breathe is not going to poison them.

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


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    Experts fear a small, invasive insect known as the spotted lanternfly could become a silent Scrooge that destroys scores of trees and crops.

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    Princeton's Chazelle returns with 'La La Land' star Ryan Gosling for a space odyssey about Neil Armstrong and the human cost of landing on the moon.

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    The 21-year-old woman was chased down on foot and arrested, police said.

    A woman trying to flee a robbery Saturday ran over a Walmart security officer and later dragged a cop who was hanging onto her vehicle, police said.

    Hamilton Township police said Courtney Lynn Rumery, 21, of Hamilton, was arrested after she crashed her car and charged with robbery and aggravated assault on a police officer.

    The Hamilton Township officer suffered injuries that were serious but not life-threatening, police said. The Walmart loss prevention officer was treated for minor injuries.

    Police were called to the Walmart on Nottingham Way in Hamilton for a report of a woman who had run over a loss prevention officer from the store in the course of a robbery.

    Officers from Hamilton caught up with her vehicle and stopped it in Trenton, police said. When a Hamilton police officer was standing next to her vehicle, Rumery hit the gas and tried to speed away, with the officer "holding on to the suspect's vehicle in fear for his life," police said in a statement.

    She couldn't shake the officer and crashed the vehicle, police said, causing the officer to be thrown from the vehicle and injured.

    Rumery fled from the crash on foot but was caught by Trenton police officers, according to the press release.

    Hamilton police are still investigating the incident and ask anyone with information about what happened to contact Detective Jason Moulds of the Criminal Investigations Section at (609) 689-5825 or the Hamilton Police Crime Tip Hotline at (609) 581-4008.

    Rebecca Everett may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find on Facebook.

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    Police say the victim's injuries were not life-threatening.

    A Union County man was arrested in Trenton Saturday night after shooting another man in the buttocks, police said. 

    The victim, a Trenton resident, was getting dropped off on the 900 block of South Broad street around 8 p.m. when he was approached from behind by Julian J. Hinton, 25, of Union Township, police said. 

    Hinton fired at the man, striking him in the buttocks, before fleeing on foot, police said.

    Police officers near the scene called in the shooting and chased after Hinton on foot.

    Officers ultimately apprehended Hinton and found a handgun on his person, police said.

    The victim was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for his injuries, which authorities said were non-threatening. 

    It was unclear as of Sunday afternoon whether Hinton had an attorney who could comment on the charges.

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


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    Pets throughout the state await adoption at shelters and rescues.

    Here is this week's collection of some of the dogs and cats in need of adoption in New Jersey.

    We accept dogs and cats for listing in the gallery from nonprofit shelters and rescues throughout New Jersey. If a group wishes to participate in this weekly gallery on, please contact Greg Hatala at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

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