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Archive for May 21st, 2009

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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