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Archive for May, 2009

CLARK – Police arrested a fugitive on a 15-year-old Florida murder warrant yesterday during a routine motor vehicle stop.

At 3:11 p.m. Clark Police Officer Antonio Manata stopped Mark Haye of Irvington for speeding on Ross Street in Clark.  Haye was unable to produce valid motor vehicle credentials and proceeded to give Manata several false names and dates of birth, Clark Police Chief Denis Connell said.

Haye was placed under arrest for hindering apprehension and the speeding violation and transported to police headquarters for processing, Connell said. In an attempt to determine the suspect’s true identity, his fingerprints were submitted to the FBI’s database, which revealed an existing arrest record, Connell said.

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MIDDLESEX COUNTY—Three cases of H1N1 flu have been confirmed in Middlesex County, according to the Middlesex County Public Health Department.

Two of the cases, one from Highland Park and one from Edison, are from an influenza cluster in students from a private parochial school in Piscataway.  A cluster is defined as two or more individuals with symptom onset within seven days of each other who have common exposure, i.e. school.

The private school has been closed since Friday, May 22, and will remain closed until Monday, June 1.  County health officer David A. Papi said, “We have been working closely with the school, local physicians, parents, and all local health departments in the county, particularly Piscataway and Edison health departments.”

A third confirmed case involves  an adult male from North Brunswick and is not related to the cases from the Piscataway school, officials said.

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Christie Named In Federal Lawsuit

STATE—Christopher Christie has been named in a federal tort claims lawsuit notice that asserts the GOP gubernatorial candidate “utilized his office as a collection agency for his relatives and extorted money from the claimant for the benefit of his family in violation of the Hobbs Act.”

Belleville attorney Frank Cozzarelli filed a civil claim with the U.S. Department of Justice on May 4, alleging that Christie threatened his livelihood because of an alleged vendetta.

According to the documents, Cozzarelli was the court-appointed overseer of the liquidation of Printon Kane. Christie represented one of the firm’s principals, Joseph Manello, during the liquidation proceeding. According to the documents, Manello was unhappy with the final settlement and over time became increasingly unhappy with Chirstie’s representation.

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STATE—The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services had confirmed 56 cases of H1N1 influenza that have been identified in 11 counties and cover all regions of the state on Tuesday.
New Jersey confirmed 31 new cases of H1N1 influenza since late Thursday.

“The recent increase of confirmed H1N1 cases reflects the ability of the Department’s Public Health and Environmental Laboratory  to confirm H1N1 influenza and allows us to investigate outbreaks of influenza-like illness without sending samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for testing,’’ said Commissioner Heather Howard.

“As confirmed cases continue to rise, it is important to note that H1N1 now exists in every region of the state. Families must remain vigilant by monitoring their health, observing good hygiene habits and most importantly, staying home if they are sick,” Howard said

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ELIZABETH – Last week, a Union County Superior Court judge ruled that the defendant in last December’s fatal shooing outside a Union skating rink could be tried as an adult.

Union County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow released the name of the suspect, Jaquan Bell, after the ruling. Bell’s name had been withheld from the press because he was just 16 at the time of the shooting.

Nearly 700 people gathered at Skate 22 in Union for a Christmas night party that was heavily promoted on websites like Myspace, Romankow said. The party, which drew people between the ages of 13 and 25, was scheduled to go from 8:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. but ended early due to numerous fights that broke out inside the rink, the prosecutor said.

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CARTERET – The Borough Council ordered a $1.65 million reduction in the rejected 2009-2010 school budget last week. The council’s plan would save the average taxpayer nearly $200 from the school board’s proposed budget and $115 from what they paid this year, Mayor Daniel Reiman said.

Reiman said the defeated proposed school budget totaled $57,394,624, which called for a general tax levy of $23,840,278. The general fund tax levy will now be set at $22,190,278.

“We have enacted cuts without reducing any instructional positions or programs,” Reiman said. “We not only eliminated the increase, we cut into the budget,” he added. “We actually reduced taxes. This takes into account the economic times facing taxpayers and homeowners.”

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STATE – Last week, a state appeals court ruled that government bodies cannot require citizens to fill out a standardized form to view public records under the state’s Open Public Records Act.

Standardized forms go against the legislative intent behind the act to give the public “unfettered access to government records,” the appeals panel said. Letters, faxes and even e-mails containing a specific request are sufficient to meet the law’s requirement of a written records request.

The case marks the end of a legal battle between the Democrat-controlled government of Union County and a political watchdog group, the Union County Watchdog Association, its leader Tina Renna and the New Jersey Press Association.

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Joseph Vas (file photo)

Joseph Vas (file photo)

TRENTON – State Assemblyman Joseph Vas (D-Perth Amboy) was indicted again today on state corruption charges, Attorney General Anne Millgram announced.

Vas is charged with conspiring to obtain illicit gifts and payments from city vendors, and laundering money into his congressional campaign through straw donors while he was mayor of Perth Amboy.  The Attorney General’s Office previously indicted Vas in March for allegedly stealing city funds as mayor.

According to Criminal Justice Director Deborah L. Gramiccioni, Vas, 54, was charged in an 19-count state grand jury indictment along with his longtime aide Melvin Ramos, 53, two corporations that were city vendors, and two owners of one of the corporations.  Vas faces multiple second-degree counts of conspiracy and official misconduct, among other charges.  The charges stem from an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau.

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EDISON—The Middlesex County College Class of 2009 formally graduated on Thursday, May 21, at the 42nd annual commencement exercises. A total of 1,118 degrees and certificates were awarded in ceremonies witnessed by more than 3,500 guests under sunny skies on the college green.

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Valedictorian Saarth Shah of Edison delivered the class welcome, sharing his experiences and aspirations since emigrating from India two years ago. Shah earned a 4.0 grade point average as a computer science student and served as an officer of Phi Theta Kappa, the undergraduate honor society. He will continue his education at Rutgers University.

“In India, I had a great education in mathematics and other sciences, which helped me a lot here,” he said in his address. “However, having studied at a school that did not teach in English, learning to work in a new language was a hurdle. Having learned all the subjects in my traditional language, I was quite intimidated when I attended my first class at MCC. A wise man once said, ‘Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.’

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STATE—AAA expects 926,000 New Jerseyans to travel 50 miles or more this Memorial Day holiday weekend, a 3 percent decrease (31,000) from the 957,000 Garden State residents who traveled over the same period last year.

Nationally, however, AAA is projecting a 1.5 percent increase over Memorial Day 2008.  An estimated 32.4 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday weekend.  This represent s a slight increase (500,000) from the 31.9 million who traveled last year, but a dramatic decline from the 35.3 million travelers who vacationed in 2007.

“Last year, travelers were dealing with gasoline prices approaching $4 a gallon and a deteriorating economy, which resulted in fewer trips being taken than had been forecasted,” said Rick Zeckendorf, vice president of travel services for Florham Park-based AAA New Jersey.  “Although the economy is still in turmoil, plentiful travel bargains coupled with significantly lower gas prices have Americans feeling better about taking a trip this summer.  These factors should help tourism-based economy nationwide.  Further, the Jersey Shore should benefit from those who desire to stay closer to home.”

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CLARK—The township will host the eighth annual Memorial Day parade on Monday, May 25.  The parade will kick off promptly at 9:30 a.m. and will be followed by the traditional Memorial Day services in front of Arthur L. Johnson High School on Westfield Avenue.

The line of march will begin on Westfield Avenue near the American Legion Post and proceed to the high school. Parking will be limited; all attending are encouraged to park at town hall and in the back section of the high school parking lot.

Westfield Avenue from Town Hall to Liberty Street will be closed to traffic from 9:20 to 10:30 a.m.  Parking will be prohibited from 7 to 10:30 a.m. along the parade route as well as John and Nassau streets between Westfield Avenue and Broadway.

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UNION COUNTY—Conservative GOP gubernatorial candidate Steve Lonegan will return to Rahway for a fundraising breakfast on Thursday, May 28. Tickets for the breakfast may be obtained by calling Rev. Laurel Galan at (908) 787-7474 or by sending an email message to Laurie@Lonegan.com

The event will be held from 8 to 10 a.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 80 Inman Avenue, and will feature an economic discussion about putting taxpayers first.

In addition to Lonegan, 21st Legislative District Assembly candidate Bruce Meringolo will address supporters over a hearty meal.

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popcornBy Michael S. Goldberger, film critic

Just as you didn’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s Jewish Rye, you don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate “Angels & Demons.” But, like the little old lady said in defense of her chicken soup Rx to treat a cold, “It couldn’t hurt.” Defrocked of its church affiliation, Ron Howard’s filmic adaptation of Dan Brown’s novel is just one more mystery/thriller.

But there’s nothing like a couple millennia of history, lore and liturgy to make a frenzied scavenger hunt more consequential. Add the architecture of Rome and the Vatican—some real, some just movie magic—and all you need to spice things up is to have the four highest-ranking cardinals, The Preferiti, abducted.

Just to make the hyperkinetic puzzle a bit more confounding, it might also be a good idea to have us wonder if the good guys are really the bad guys. Thank goodness then that Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is called to the Vatican to read between the shadows and myths and perhaps save some lives. Maybe even a soul or two.

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pastby Diane Norek Harrison

SOUTH AMBOY-This is from my own research. The cemetery for Sacred Heart Parish in South Amboy is located on Johnsons Lane in the Parlin section of Sayreville. The Sacred Heart Catholic War Veterans Post 578 erected large monuments with the names of the men who died from the parish. The one stone reads: “IN MEMORY OF ALL WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES WHILE SERVING THEIR COUNTRY IN THE TIME OF WAR.” The monuments were dedicated Nov. 11, 2001.

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By Ellen Zwierzynski, Social Security District Manager in Elizabeth

It’s customary to honor the men and women of the Armed Forces each Memorial Day — especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.  May also is National Military Appreciation Month, a great time to let members of the military know how much we value what they are doing for us and our country.

Serving the military is nothing new for Social Security.  People in the Armed Forces have been covered under Social Security since 1957.  Even people in the service before 1957 may receive special credit for some of their service.  People in the military are covered for the same survivors, disability and retirement benefits as everyone else who pays into Social Security.

A person’s Social Security benefit depends on earnings, averaged over a lifetime.  The same is true for members of the military.  Generally, the higher your earnings, the higher your Social Security benefit.  Under certain circumstances, special earnings can be credited to one’s military pay record for Social Security purposes.  The extra earnings are for periods of active duty or active duty for training and may help someone qualify for Social Security or increase the amount of Social Security benefits.  If you qualify for extra earnings, Social Security will add them to your earnings record when you file for benefits.

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