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    Three of the recently promoted officers had their own run-ins with the law a decade ago in two separate incidents involving the cops being naked.

    The mayor of Edison promoted a group of police of officers Monday afternoon as a "new generation of police leadership" in a town where officials have worked to rehabilitate the reputation of the tarnished force. 

    Three of the officers had their own run-ins with the law a decade ago in two separate incidents involving nudity. 

    Among the 14 officers given a new rank on recommendations from Police Chief Thomas Byram was Ioannis "John" Mpletsakis, who was originally fired a decade ago after he ran from the scene of a car crash while off-duty. Mpletsakis had no clothes on at the time. 

    A judge overturned his termination in 2007, ruling that Mpletsakis' discipline was too harsh.

    The detective was promoted to sergeant by Mayor Thomas Lankey, who serves as the town's public safety director, in the council chambers at the Edison Municipal Complex.

    "It is irresponsible - not to mention a bit reprehensible - for the media to dredge up decade-old incidents to besmirch these three officers," Bryan said. "Each has matured personally and professionally. Each routinely demonstrates their commitment to law enforcement and their concern for the Edison community. In short, they earned their promotions."

    Two others, David Salardino and Brian Rossmeyer, were arrested in a hotel in Ocean City, Maryland, after reports came in of a naked man posing in front of a window, "flexing" to attract attention. 

    The two had pulled the blinds closed after a small crowd gathered outside the hotel, according to media reports at the time.

    Salardino was charged with indecent exposure, but later pleaded guilty to a disorderly persons offense and was given 24 hours probation. Rossmeyer wasn't an officer at the time and it was unclear how his case was resolved. 

    Salardino joined the force and 1999 and Rossmeyer was hired in 2007. Rossmeyer was promoted to sergeant and Salardino to lieutenant. 

    "These promotions are based strictly on scores that each officer achieved on a rigorous written examination administered by an independent, California-based testing agency and on each officer's performance during oral interviews with our command staff," Police Chief Thomas Byram said, referring to the township's changes to the hiring and promotion system based on points adopted by the council in 2015. 

    "Our police department's compliment of officers is better educated and more professional than ever before," Lankey said. "We are now ushering in a new generation of police leadership who will bring fresh ideas and new approaches to meet the evolving challenges of municipal law enforcement."

    Also promoted Monday to sergeant were patrolman Michael Felcetto and detectives Robert Duffy, Michael Horvath and Steve Todd. Promoted to lieutenant were sergeants Jeffrey Abrams, Michael Mintchwarner and Alan Sciarrillo. Promoted to captain were lieutenants Howard Askelson, Salvatore Filannino, Gregory Formica and Kenneth Schreck.

    Craig McCarthy may be reached at 732-372-2078 or at CMcCarthy@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @createcraig and on Facebook here. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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    Students working in dining halls, libraries and other facilities will see their pay go up 30 percent, but some protesters say the raise is not enough.

    Rutgers University students who work minimum wage jobs on campus will start the new year with a big raise -- but some protesters say the pay boost is too stingy.

    Minimum wage for student workers will go from $8.44 an hour to $11 an hour, starting Jan. 1, Rutgers President Robert Barchi said in a letter to students Monday.

    The 30 percent raise affects more than 13,000 students who work in dining halls, libraries, offices and other facilities on the New Brunswick-Piscataway, Newark and Camden campuses, the president said. Student in the Federal Work Study program will also get the boost in pay.

    "Over the last several years, I am proud that we have been able to keep tuition increases at a minimum while simultaneously strengthening our academic profile," Barchi wrote in his letter. "Despite our efforts, more than 13,000 of you still must commit many hours each week to working on our campuses to defray the cost of your education. While holding an on-campus job can offer many benefits, we are cognizant of the delicate balance that you must strike between work and your studies."

    N.J.'s minimum wage going up 16 cents

    The raise, which does not affect non-student workers on campus, comes after months of protests by students calling for Rutgers to boost its minimum wage from $8.44, the state's minimum wage, to $15 an hour.

    Mariah Wood, one of the student organizers of the "Fight for Fifteen" movement, said the raise to $11 an hour is not enough for student workers who struggle to pay for rent, food and medical care while paying Rutgers tuition.

    "This is only a partial victory," Wood wrote Monday on the group's Facebook page. "Barchi is TERRIFIED of us because we have POWER. He is willing to throw us a bone because he knows we have the ability to make it so he can't pass a budget -- he knows we can shut this university down."

    Wood called on students to join a 2:30 p.m. "Fight for Fifteen" demonstration today at the Rutgers Board of Trustees meeting at the Douglass Student Center in New Brunswick.

    The Rutgers fight to increase the school's minimum wage is part of a national movement for better pay on college campuses. There have been similar protests from the University of Maryland and Columbia University to San Francisco State University.

    The University of Washington is among the schools that have raised their minimum wage to $15 an hour after student protests.

    In New Jersey, Gov.-elect Phil Murphy made raising the state's minimum wage to $15 one of his campaign promises. Though the Democrat has not given many specifics on his plan.

    "This is as high on the priority list as anything we've got," Murphy said in November, shortly after he was elected to succeed Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

    New Jersey's statewide minimum wage is slated to go up 16 cents in January to $8.60 an hour. The minor increase is prompted by an increase in the consumer price index, which is used to set the minimum wage each year.

    Kelly Heyboer may be reached at kheyboer@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @KellyHeyboer. Find her at KellyHeyboerReporter on Facebook.

     

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    Kenneth Patterson was struck around 4 a.m.

    A Rutgers University student from Boonton was killed when he was struck by a train over the weekend, the school and Amtrak said.

    Kenneth Patterson was hit by Northeast Regional Train 65 around 4 a.m. Saturday in New Brunswick, said Jason Abrams, an Amtrak spokesman. There were no injuries to anyone aboard the train, which was headed for Norfolk, Va., from Boston.

    Deba Dutta*, chancellor at the New Brunswick campus, said Patterson was a first-year student who played lacrosse with the club team and had "made an impact on the community" during his brief time at Rutgers. 

    "The holiday season is a period that should be filled with reunions with loved ones, so please keep Kenneth's family and friends in your thoughts and prayers in the coming days and weeks," Dutta wrote, adding that grief counselors have been made available.

    Patterson's death is under investigation.

    *Dutta's name was misspelled in an earlier version of this article. 

    Paul Milo may be reached at pmilo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter@PaulMilo2. Find NJ.com on Facebook.  

     

     

     


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    The Scotch Plains-born musician was hoping to get back on tour soon after two falls caused nerve damage in his hand and arm

    Smithereens lead singer Pat DiNizio, a New Jersey native and one-time independent candidate for U.S. Senate, died Tuesday at 62, the band announced.

    The Scotch Plains-born musician had been suffering from health problems in recent years. He posted on Facebook just four days ago that he was hopeful of getting back on tour as he continued physical therapy for neck and back injures at his Victorian farmhouse in Scotch Plains.

    DiNizio and three friends who attended Carteret High School -- guitarist Jim Babjak, bassist Mike Mesaros and drummer Dennis Diken --  started playing together in 1975 and formed the Smithereens in 1980. The band gained a strong following in the New Jersey and New York area.

    In addition to his work with the Smithereens, DiNizio, a Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School graduate, recorded several solo albums.

    Influenced by everyone from Buddy Holly to the Clash, the Smithereens blended catchy melodies and grinding guitars on "A Girl Like You," ''Only a Memory" and other songs. Their breakthrough came in 1986 when "Blood and Roses" was featured in the movie "Dangerously Close" and the song's video was aired on MTV. DiNizio was a movie fan whose stylish ballad "In a Lonely Place," featuring Suzanne Vega on backing vocals, included lines from the Humphrey Bogart movie of the same name. The Smithereens also made a cameo appearance in the 1980s cult film "Class of Nuke 'Em High."

    DiNizio made an unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate in 2000 and appeared on ESPN's "7th Inning Stretch," a reality show that followed his attempt to join the Somerset Patriots.

    Remembering N.J. rock star Pat DiNizio

    He took time off from the Smithereens after two falls caused nerve damage in his right hand and arm.

    DiNizio apparently spent his final days in Scotch Plains. He told his followers on Facebook he purchased the Hollingsworth House, which was built in 1885, about 20 years ago. 

    His three bandmates posted a note on the social media website acknowledging the loss of DiNizio.

    N.J. Rock & Pop: The Smithereens

    "Today we mourn the loss of our friend, brother and bandmate Pat DiNizio.

    Pat had the magic touch. He channeled the essence of joy and heartbreak into hook-laden three minute pop songs, infused with a lifelong passion for rock & roll.

    Our journey with Pat was long, storied and a hell of a lot of fun. We grew up together. Little did we know that we wouldn't grow old together.

    Goodbye Pat. Seems like yesterday. Jimmy, Mike, Dennis."

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.
     

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    The New Jersey rock icons will enter the coveted hall in April

    For the last decade, it's been a point of contention in the New Jersey music world: does Bon Jovi deserve a spot in the vaunted Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? 

    Well, after nine years of eligibility, Jersey's beloved hair-metal titans finally made the cut -- the Hall announced Wednesday that Jon Bon Jovi, guitarist Richie Sambora, drummer Tico Torres and keyboardist David Bryan will be inducted into the 2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class, alongside Dire Straits, Nina Simone, the Moody Blues and The Cars. Somewhat miraculously, Radiohead -- viewed by many as the most significant rock act this century and appearing for its first time on the ballot -- was not inducted straightaway and will have to wait until next year. 

    The induction ceremony will take place April 14, 2018 at Cleveland's public hall. 

    "It's a Christmas miracle," Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan told Rolling Stone Wednesday. "[We were] guys living the dream, getting on a bus with no guarantees in any way shape or form or anything. It was, 'Let's go out and make this happen.' And we actually did." 

    LD D1 NEWS JANE BONJOVI BOYARS Jon Bon Jovi in concert, circa 1995. (Star-Ledger file photo) 

    Bryan and Torres confirmed to Rolling Stone that the band, which formed in Sayreville in the early '80s and burst onto the scene in 1984 with its self-titled debut and first hit "Runaway," would appear at the Rock Hall ceremony both in its current format -- with shredder Phil X and bassist Hugh McDonald, who have replaced Sambora and original bassist Alec John Such -- as well as its original lineup. 

    Bon Jovi, is one of the best-selling rock bands of the last 35 years, selling more than 130 million records worldwide and still filling arenas on its This House Is Not For Sale tour earlier this year, on the strength of its 13th LP released in November 2016. 

    Bon Jovi's most famous tune "Livin' On A Prayer" is arguably the most enduring rock anthem of the 1980s and its 1986 album "Slippery When Wet" has reportedly sold 28 million copies. 

    With all of this, Bon Jovi certainly checks the "popularity" box when considered for the Rock Hall, but the argument most Hall elitists have had since the band's first year of eligibility in 2009 is whether Bon Jovi is considered influential enough for entry. Heck, that's always been my argument: in terms of influence, the band probably doesn't make the cut, but considering its sheer global popularity it would likely get in at some point. 

    Of course, that's all moot now; Bon Jovi joins the short list of Jersey Hall members, led by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. 

    Bobby Olivier may be reached at bolivier@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @BobbyOlivier. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    The final rankings of the season.

    FINAL FOOTBALL RANKINGS
    The Final 50: NJ.com's 2017 year-end high school football rankings

    GROUP RANKINGS 
    • Non-Public 
    Group 5
    Group 4
    Group 3
    Group 2
    • Group 1

    CONFERENCE RANKINGS 
    Greater Middlesex Conference
     Mid-State 38
    North Jersey Interscholastic Conference
    North Jersey Super Football Conference
    Shore Conference
    West Jersey Football League

    Jeremy Schneider may be reached at jschneider@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @J_Schneider. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Officials say the officer was driving drunk when he hit a motorcyclist on Halloween.

    An off-duty Elizabeth police officer previously accused of drunken driving in a crash that killed a motorcyclist on Halloween night now also faces charges of vehicular homicide.

    Romulo Meneses-Alvarez, 30, was charged Tuesday with strict liability vehicular homicide, a third-degree crime in which a person causes a death by driving while intoxicated, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office in a statement.

    Meneses-Alvarez was driving a Jeep Wrangler on Oct. 31 near Elizabeth's Carteret Park when he struck the motorcycle, killing 29-year-old Jairo Lozano, the statement said.

    In addition to driving while intoxicated, Meneses-Alvarez had previously received citations for careless driving and failing to yield the right of way.

    Police Chief John Brennan said Meneses-Alvaraz's employment status with the department is under review.

    "We're just getting to that point right now," Brennan said. "We haven't gotten that far yet."

    Meneses-Alvarez joined the Elizabeth police in 2015 after serving at the Union County Sheriff's Office. His annual salary is $57,779, according to state pension records.

    The case was transferred from the Union County Prosecutor's Office to Middlesex County last month due to a potential conflict of interest. Officials, however, have declined to elaborate.

    Lozano, of Elizabeth, was pronounced dead at Trinitas Regional Medical Center after the 11:20 p.m. crash at the intersection of Elmora Avenue and Vine Street, prosecutors have said. Meneses-Alvarez was uninjured.

    Josh McMahon, a Westfield-based attorney representing Lozano's family, said a witness who lives near the crash site and went outside after he heard a loud bang, told him that he heard a responding Elizabeth cop tell Meneses-Alvarez that he could leave the scene, McMahon said.

    The witness, according to McMahon, said Meneses-Alvarez left. However, it remains unclear if he was given a sobriety test before leaving, McMahon said.

    The witness, who knew Lozano, told McMahon that he accompanied Lozano's girlfriend to the hospital and asked another Elizabeth officer there why Meneses-Alvarez had been allowed to leave, McMahon said.

    That officer said he was unaware the off-duty officer had left, according to the witness's account.

    Meneses-Alvarez is scheduled for a first court appearance on Dec. 29 in Union County Superior Court.

    Spencer Kent may be reached at skent@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerMKent. Find the Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Marisa Iati may be reached at miati@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Iati or on Facebook here. Find NJ.com on Facebook

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    The Smithereens frontman, who died Tuesday night at 62, was a mainstay of the N.J. rock community

    The story goes something like this: Before Nirvana recorded its momentous album "Nevermind" in 1991, the indie icons toured tirelessly, crisscrossing the country by van, with as little as one mixtape jammed into the cassette deck.

    On one side of the tape was the Swiss heavy metal band Celtic Frost.

    The other? The 1986 album "Especially For You," penned by Jersey's own The Smithereens.

    It's a fun anecdote, breeding the idea that Nirvana -- the band that ushered in a new generation of rock music and pop culture --  was influenced by a few dudes from Carteret (Nirvana's Krist Novoselic claims there's truth to this).

    And it's a tale you'll hear quite a bit over the next few days, as rock fans try to put into context the passing of the great Smithereens frontman Pat DiNizio, who died Tuesday night at the age of 62.  The cause of death was not immediately revealed, though he had suffered health problems in recent years.

    "Pat had the magic touch. He channeled the essence of joy and heartbreak into hook-laden three minute pop songs, infused with a lifelong passion for rock & roll," the band wrote on its Facebook page. "Our journey with Pat was long, storied and a hell of a lot of fun. We grew up together. Little did we know that we wouldn't grow old together. Goodbye Pat. Seems like yesterday." 

    Those locked into the New Jersey music scene won't need any Cobainian legends to place DiNizio. He was known locally not only as an impassioned songwriter -- the band's alt-rock staples "Only A Memory" and "Blood and Roses" were little more than Beatles facsimiles without his spoken heartache -- but as a Garden State rock n' roll community member.

    DiNizio fronted what was, after Springsteen and Bon Jovi, the most impactful New Jersey rock band of the '80s and '90s -- a group that knew melody, arresting choruses and just what made the British Invasion bands so popular two decades earlier. The fact that in Union County in the late '80s -- and in the shadow of Bon Jovi's meteoric rise just a few towns away in Sayreville -- DiNizio and the Smithereens were able to repurpose those sonic sentiments and sell it to a cynical college-rock crowd is a feat in itself.

    "I'm a professional songwriter and member of a band ... what could be better?" DiNizio told the Los Angeles Times in 1990, around the time the Smithereens were most famous: the crunchy jam "A Girl Like You" cracked the Top 40 that year. 

    But long after the Smithereens fell from the alternative charts and rock relevance altogether, DiNizio was a relentless contributor to the local scene, performing weekly free shows at Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park in 2014 -- he called his one-man show, which also took up residence at Crossroads in Garwood, "Confessions of a Rockstar" -- and attempting to convert his childhood home in Scotch Plains into a small arts center, where concerts could be held and special needs children could learn to play music.

    DiNizio was, too, a longtime contributor to the annual Light of Day festival in Asbury Park, which raises money for Parkinson's Disease research. The Smithereens headlined the week's main event at Paramount Theatre in 2016.

    DiNizio lived in Scotch Plains until his death, telling The Aquarian in 2010: "It's the only place in the world I feel centered. New Jersey is my home. I lived in England for a while, Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles. I'm at the point in my life where I don't want any more surprises. I'm in Scotch Plains for good."

    If you attended North Jersey local shows in the '80s, also comprising Jim Babjak (guitar), Dennis Diken (drums) and Mike Mesaros (bass), you likely saw the group cutting its teeth in New Brunswick -- the enduring Hub City haunt The Court Tavern was a favorite spot -- or at the long-gone Dirt Club in Bloomfield, which local punk Ted Leo tweeted Wednesday was an inspiration for him.

    "Knowing that The Smithereens were a staple at my hometown's Dirt Club early on, actually helped me understand that good songs, hard work, and a love of playing music can be a path to making some kind of life out of it," Leo wrote. 

    Fans and musicians alike took to social media Wednesday morning to share their grief and commemorate DiNizio, among them Sugar Ray singer Mark McGrath, who called DiNizio: "A man who learned from the greats & could craft an effortless, classic pop song...had the pleasure of meeting him a few times, he was complimentary & down to earth. Rest easy thanks for the music & memories."

    Though there was more to the big man at the microphone: in 2000 he ran independently for U.S. Senate. He even tried to play for the Somerset Patriots minor league baseball team on the ESPN reality show "7th Inning Stretch" in 2006.

    But as longtime New Jersey music writer Jay Lustig noted in his DiNizio tribute Wednesday, DiNizio was as commonly viewed as a friend as he was a successful player, quick to smile and say "hello" from beneath his trademark thick-rimmed glasses and baseball cap, the brim flipped skyward.

    Rest easy Pat, behind the wall of sleep.

    Bobby Olivier may be reached at bolivier@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @BobbyOlivier. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    With a new season about to kick off, there are plenty of unanswered questions.


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    A fast-moving clipper system left a coating to a couple inches of snow across New Jersey and prompted some delayed openings

    Districts around New Jersey have decided to delay school openings on Thursday as a fast-moving clipper system dropped a coating to a few inches of snow throughout the state.

    The light snow is continuing to fall across the central part state, but should subside by around 10 a.m. and give way to sunny skies. 

    Here's the latest on school schedule changes. Several closures have been issued in Sussex County so far. 

    HUNTERDON COUNTY

    • Alexandria schools - 90 minutes late
    • Clinton Township schools - 2 hours late, AM kindergarten canceled
    • Delaware Township schools - 90 minutes late
    • Delaware Valley Regional - 90 minutes late
    • East Amwell schools - 90 minutes late
    • Flemington-Raritan School District - 90 minutes late
    • Franklin Township - 2 hours late
    • High Bridges schools - 2 hours late
    • Holland Township school - 90 minutes late
    • Hunterdon Preparatory School - 90 minutes late
    • Kingwood Township School - 90 minutes late
    • Lebanon Borough School District - 90 minutes late
    • Lebanon Township schools - delayed opening
    • North Hunterdon-Voorhees Regional - 2 hours late
    • Readington Township schools - 2 hours late
    • Tewksbury schools - 2 hours late
    • Union Township schools - 2 hours late

    MIDDLESEX COUNTY

    • Green Brook Township schools - 2 hours late
    • Jamesburg schools - 2 hours late
    • Monroe Township schools - 2 hours late
    • Woodbridge schools - 2 hours late

    MORRIS COUNTY

    • Boonton Town schools - 2 hours late
    • Boonton Township schools - 90 minutes late
    • School District of the Chathams - 2 hours late
    • Chester schools - 2 hours late
    • Denville schools - 2 hours late
    • Dover schools - 90 minutes late
    • Hanover schools - 2 hours late
    • Harding Township school - 2 hours late
    • Head Start of Morris County - 10 a.m. opening
    • Jefferson Township schools - 2 hours late
    • Kinnelon Borough schools - 90 minutes late
    • Lincoln Park Borough schools - 2 hours late
    • Long Hill schools - 2 hours late
    • Madison schools - 2 hours late
    • Mendham Borough schools - 2 hours late
    • Mendham Township schools - 2 hours late
    • Montville Township schools - 2 hours late
    • Morris County Vocational school - 2 hours late
    • Morris Hills Regional - 2 hours late
    • Morris Knolls Regional - 2 hours late
    • Morris Plains schools - 2 hours late
    • Morris School District - 2 hours late
    • Mount Arlington schools - 2 hours late
    • Mount Olive schools - 2 hours late
    • Mountain Lakes schools - 2 hours late
    • Parsippany-Troy Hills schools - 90 minutes late
    • Pequannock schools - 2 hours
    • Randolph Township schools - 90 minutes late
    • Rockaway Borough schools - 90 minutes late
    • Rockaway Township - Delayed opening schedule
    • Roxbury schools - 2 hours late 
    • Washington Township schools - 2 hours late
    • West Morris Regional - 2 hours late
    • Wharton Borough schools - 2 hours late

    OCEAN COUNTY 

    • Brick Township schools - 90 minutes late
    • Jackson Township schools - 2 hours late
    • Lacey Township schools - 2 hours late
    • Lakehurst Elementary School - 2 hours late
    • Manchester Township schools - 90 minutes late
    • Ocean County Vocational Technical - 90 minute late
    • Toms River Regional schools - 90 minutes late

    PASSAIC COUNTY

    • Bloomingdale schools - 90 minutes late
    • Lakeland Regional - 90 minutes late
    • Ringwood schools - delayed opening
    • Wanaque schools - delayed opening
    • West Milford schools - delayed opening
    • Woodland Park schools - delayed opening

    SOMERSET COUNTY

    • Bound Brook schools - 2 hours late
    • Bridgewater-Raritan Regional schools - 2 hours late
    • South Bound Brook schools - 90 minutes late
    • Warren Hills Regional High School - 2 hours late
    • Watchung Borough schools - 2 hours late
    • Watchung Hills regional - 2 hours late

    SUSSEX COUNTY

    • Andover schools - Closed
    • Byram schools - Closed
    • Frankford schools - Closed
    • Franklin Borough schools - 2 hours late
    • Fredon Township schools - Closed
    • Green Township schools - Closed
    • Hamburg schools - Closed
    • Hardyston schools - Closed
    • High Point Regional - Closed
    • Hopatcong schools - Closed
    • Kittatinny Regional - Closed
    • Lafayette schools - 1 3/4 hours late
    • Montague schools - Closed
    • Newton schools - Closed
    • Ogdensburg schools - delayed opening
    • Sandyston-Walpack - Closed
    • Sparta schools - Closed
    • Sussex County Technical School - Closed
    • Sussex-Wantage Regional - Closed
    • Vernon schools - Closed
    • Walkill Valley Regional - 2 hours late

    UNION COUNTY 

    • Berkeley Heights Public schools - 2 hours late
    • Hillside Township schools - 2 hours late
    • Morris-Union Jointure Commission - 2 hours late
    • Mountainside schools - 2 hours late
    • New Providence schools - delayed opening
    • Summit schools - delayed opening

    WARREN COUNTY

    • Belvidere schools - 2 hours late
    • Bethlehem Township schools - 2 hours late
    • Franklin Township - 2 hours late
    • Great Meadows Regional - 90 minutes late
    • Hackettstown schools - 90 minutes late
    • North Warren Regional - 2 hours late
    • Phillipsburg schools - 2 hours late
    • Warren Hills Regional - 2 hours late
    • Washington Borough schools - delayed opening
     

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    A trip to the supermarket - part of growing up in New Jersey.

    I suppose I could write about the history of The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., Acme (pronounced Ack-a-Mee for many of us) or smaller supermarket chains such as United Service Grocers or National Self-Service Stores.

    But I'd rather write about the sensory experience of going to the supermarket as a child.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    If your mother brought you along for the trip to the supermarket as a child, you might remember the multitude of aromas in the store; the sounds of the mechanical cash register and the squeaky cart with the bad wheel mom always managed to choose. The sight of aisle after aisle of things you'd give anything for her to put in the cart ... and the things you tried to toss out of the cart when she wasn't looking.

    595e5ca499a25.image.jpgHe spent the next three years in his room. 

    If you were fortunate, you made it through childhood without causing a dreaded call for a "cleanup in aisle four."

    Maybe I'm over-embellishing, but I propose that riding in the folding seat of the shopping cart at the supermarket was as good as any amusement park ride.

    Is it the same today? I can't say for sure, but those people I know with young children don't make a weekly trip to the supermarket; they make multiple stops and pick up a few things each time. It isn't the same weekly pilgrimage.

    Here's a gallery of supermarkets from back in the day around New Jersey. And if the store you remember isn't in this gallery, there's a very good chance it's in one of the previous galleries linked to below.

    Vintage photos of supermarkets in N.J.

    A look at vintage food stores in New Jersey

    Vintage photos of supermarkets and food stores in N.J.

    Vintage photos of N.J. supermarkets

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


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    Paras Jha, a former Rutgers student, admitted in court Wednesday to repeatedly hacking the university's computer network over two years.

    The mystery is solved.

    The enigmatic hacker who repeatedly crashed Rutgers University's computer network between 2014 and 2016 -- then taunted campus officials online for their weak cyber security -- was one of the school's own students.

    Paras Jha, 21, admitted in federal court Wednesday that he was behind the series of cyber attacks that shut down campus websites and knocked tens of thousands of members of the Rutgers community off the internet.

    The former computer science major caused days of frustration for students trying to submit assignments, professors trying to post grades and researchers who couldn't work on their projects.

    But, he also cost Rutgers money -- lots of it, prosecutors said.

    N.J. man wrote code that crashed the internet

    Jha's online pranks may have cost Rutgers between $3.5 million and $9.5 million, said William Fitzpatrick, the acting U.S. Attorney in New Jersey. The exact amount will be determined at Jha's sentencing hearing in March.

    "These computer attacks shut down the server used for all communications among faculty, staff and students, including assignment of course work to students, and students' submission of their work to professors to be graded," Fitzpatrick said. "The defendant's actions effectively paralyzed the system for days at a time and maliciously disrupted the educational process for tens of thousands of Rutgers' students."

    The Rutgers attacks were one of several crimes Jha pleaded guilty to in federal court this month. In a separate case filed in federal court in Alaska, Jha pleaded guilty to conspiring with two other hackers to create computer viruses, including the "Mirai" botnet that was used by other hackers to disable much of the internet in an October 2016 worldwide cyber attack.   

    Investigators opened the case in Alaska because that is where some of the first devices were infected by the "Mirai" botnet virus, which was named after a Japanese anime character Jha and his co-conspirators liked, prosecutors said.

    Jha faces up to 10 years in prison, though he is expected to get less under the plea agreement he reached with federal prosecutors. He faces a fine of at least $250,000, but he could also be fined as much as twice the amount of money his victims, including Rutgers, lost because of his crimes.

    The former student, who left Rutgers after two years, has already agreed to forfeit his bitcoin account, which he used to get online payments as a cyber-attacker-for-hire, prosecutors said. His account had 13 bitcoin-- currently worth about $220,000 due to a recent spike in the value of the online currency.

    A Rutgers spokeswoman declined to comment on how much money the university lost because of Jha's cyber attacks, citing the ongoing legal proceedings. In 2015, university officials said they were spending at least $3 million to upgrade cyber security in campus due to the repeated DDoS, or distributed denial of service, attacks on its servers.

    Rutgers officials later said the extra money spent on cyber security upgrades was one of the reasons they hiked tuition for the following school year.

    In 2015, Jha used a Twitter account with the the screen name "Exfocus" to taunt Rutgers officials about the latest cyber attack that crashed Rutgers' websites and cut off internet and wifi to the campus.

    "where internet go?? 3m dollar gone?" read one tweet, referring to the $3 million Rutgers said it spent on consultants and new software and equipment to upgrade its cyber security.

    In a letter to the Rutgers community sent Wednesday, Rutgers' top internet security official said the university has made big improvements to it technology infrastructure since Jha's attacks.

    "We recognize the threat posed by cybercriminals, and we will be tireless in working with law enforcement to pursue individuals who attempt to compromise the Rutgers network," wrote Michele Norin, Rutgers' senior vice president and chief information officer.

    Jha, who lives with his parents in Fanwood, is remorseful for his attacks on Rutgers and his other crimes, his attorney said.

    "He is fortunate to have loving, supportive parents and a bright future ahead. He has pled to charges here in the District of New Jersey, and in the District of Alaska, as the first step in his evolution into adulthood and responsibility," said Robert Stahl, Jha's attorney.

    Kelly Heyboer may be reached at kheyboer@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @KellyHeyboer. Find her at KellyHeyboerReporter on Facebook.


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    Get links to all the NJ.com all-star teams, final rankings and more in one easy to find location

    POST-SEASON AWARDS
    Team of the Year
    Coach of the Year
    Defensive Player of the Year
    Overall Player of the Year/Offensive Player of the Year

    ALL-STATE 
    • First Team: Offense | Defense
    • Second Team: Offense | Defense
    • Third Team: Offense | Defense

    ALL GROUP
    • Group 1: Offense | Defense
    • Group 2: Offense | Defense
    • Group 3: Offense | Defense
    • Group 4: Offense | Defense
    • Group 5: Offense | Defense
    • Non-Public: Offense | Defense

    FINAL TEAM RANKINGS
    NJ.com Top 50
     Group rankings: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | NP
     Conference rankings: GMC | Mid-State 38 | NJSFC | NJIC | Shore | WJFL

    CONFERENCE REVIEWS
    GMC
    Mid-State 38
    • NJSFC
    NJIC
    Shore 
    WJFL


    ALL-AREA TEAMS
    • Shore Conference: All-Shore | All-Division
    • Times of Trenton: All-County | All-Area | Prep
    West Jersey Football League: All-Division
    • South Jersey Times: All-Area
    • Bergen County: All-County

    STAT LEADERS 
    Season stat leaders 
    • Season heroes: Single-game leaders

    Joe Zedalis may be reached at jzedalis@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @josephzedalis. Like NJ.com HS sports on Facebook.


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    Which teams have what it takes to win a state title this season?


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    The crime spree, including attempted murder, attempted carjacking, armed robbery, aggravated assault and weapons possession throughout Middlesex County.

    Homicide, stabbings, carjackings, assault and armed robbery -- for three months authorities say members of a major gang carried out a wave of crime and mayhem mostly throughout Middlesex County.

    An investigation into the crime wave has resulted in the arrests of seven gang members on a myriad of charges, including murder and armed robbery, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey and New Brunswick police Director Anthony Caputo announced in a statement.

    The crime spree, officials said Wednesday, began on the night of Sept. 7 with a shooting on Throop Avenue in New Brunswick.

    Three days later, a gas station was robbed on French Street in New Brunswick.

    Then, on Sept. 16, at 2:40 a.m., an attempted carjacking took place on Beachwood Court, in the Monmouth Junction-section of South Brunswick.

    Three days after that, at about 9:30 p.m. another shooting occurred on Throop Avenue in New Brunswick, resulting in three men being wounded. They were taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, and all three survived.

    "The mayhem continued," according to officials, into October when seven shots were fired on Oct. 15 at about 2:30 a.m. on Delavan Street in New Brunswick. However, no one was struck by the flying bullets.

    Two hours later, a robbery turned into an attempted murder when a gas station attendant was shot in South Brunswick. The attendant was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and survived.

    SoBrunwickShooting.jpegAs part of the three-month crime wave, a gas station attendant was shot Oct. 15, 2017 at 4:15 a.m. at the BP gas station at 3612 Route 27, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office. (Photo provided by South Brunswick police) 

    Then on Oct. 26, at 1:34 a.m., a stabbing occurred on George Street in New Brunswick, causing one man to be hospitalized. The man survived.

    fatal shooting then occurred in Camden on Nov. 28 on Atlantic Avenue. One of the gang members allegedly involved in several of the other crimes was allegedly involved in that shooting, which killed 30-year-old Stanford Brown, of Lawnside, in Camden County.

    Finally, on Nov. 29, at about 10 p.m., a motor vehicle stop resulted in the arrest of one of the gang members who was in the vehicle and ultimately charged with weapons possession.

    Two others in the car were also arrested and charged after two more firearms were found, including a shotgun.

    "I thank and commend the many dedicated law enforcement officers and special agents whose efforts led to the arrests," said Carey in the statement. "When addressing violent gang activity, results like these are only possible with multi-agency coordination, and the sharing of resources. This investigation's conclusion has resulted in a safer community."

    The following people were arrested and charged between Nov. 29 and Dec. 1. for their alleged roles in the various crimes:

    • Anthony Pinson aka Smoke, 25, of Franklin Park in Somerset County -- attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiracy to commit carjacking, possession of an assault firearm and other weapons charges, receiving stolen property.
    • Paul Sexton aka Munch, 21, of New Brunswick -- conspiracy to commit murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiracy to commit carjacking possession of an assault firearm, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and possession of a community firearm.
    • Danique Simpson aka Biz, 24, of South Plainfield -- robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.
    • Ashley Stewart, 24, of Piscataway -- robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.
    • Shaheed Wroten aka Gleese, 22, of New Brunswick -- conspiracy to commit carjacking, possession of an assault firearm, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and possession of a community firearm.
    • Antoine Williams aka Wax, 30, of Newark -- attempted murder, possession of an assault firearm, and weapons charges.
    • Darnell Konteh aka Badass, 25, of Camden -- armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, aggravated assault and weapons charges.

    The investigation remains ongoing.

    Anyone with information can contact Detective Brandt Gregus, of the New Brunswick Police Department, at 732-745-5200 or Detective Gregory Morris, of the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office, at 732-745-4054.

    Spencer Kent may be reached at skent@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerMKent. Find the Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    SAYREVILLE -- Chase is a 1-year-old American bulldog in the care of Sammy's Hope. Volunteers say he loves toys and "could play fetch with his human friends all day, then gladly settle down for a good snuggle." Chase completed professional obedience training recently and is best-suited to a home experienced with large dog breeds. Chase has been neutered and is...

    mx1217pet.jpgChase 

    SAYREVILLE -- Chase is a 1-year-old American bulldog in the care of Sammy's Hope.

    Volunteers say he loves toys and "could play fetch with his human friends all day, then gladly settle down for a good snuggle."

    Chase completed professional obedience training recently and is best-suited to a home experienced with large dog breeds. Chase has been neutered and is up-to-date on shots.

    For more information on Chase, contact Sammy's Hope at 732-518-2313, email info@sammyshope.org or go to sammyshope.org. Sammy's Hope is a volunteer group in Middlesex County that fosters homeless animals and also cares for them at its shelter at 1400 Main St. in Sayreville.

    Shelters interested in placing a pet in the Paw Print adoption column or submitting news should call 973-836-4922 or email middlesex@starledger.com.

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


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    Can anyone threaten Bergen Catholic?


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    Elizabeth Hrymoc of South River sued Johnson & Johnson

    A jury in Bergen County has awarded $15 million in damages to a woman who claims a faulty transvaginal mesh implant caused severe and chronic pain, her lawyer said Friday.

    Elizabeth Hrymoc of South River sued Johnson & Johnson after one of two pelvic mesh devices she received in 2008 caused her chronic discomfort and pain, her attorney Adam Slater claimed in the lawsuit.

    The device was sold to Johnson & Johnson under the brand name Prolift and was designed by Ethicon. Johnson & Johnson no longer sells the Prolift device, Slater said.

    The jury awarded $4 million to Hrymoc for her injuries, $1 million to her husband, Tadeusz Hrymoc, and $10 million in punitive damages, Slater said.

    Hrymoc is one of thousands of New Jersey women who have sued Johnson & Johnson over the mesh implants, which were supposed to help fix bladder leakage or bulges in pelvic organs. Many of the cases have been consolidated in Bergen County Superior Court.

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

     

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    EAST BRUNSWICK -- Acme Supermarket in the Mid-State Mall in East Brunswick is shown on opening day in 1958. MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey The supermarket was destroyed by a fire in 1968. If you would like to share a photo that provides a glimpse of history in your community, please call 973-836-4922 or send an email to middlesex@starledger.com....

    EAST BRUNSWICK -- Acme Supermarket in the Mid-State Mall in East Brunswick is shown on opening day in 1958.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    The supermarket was destroyed by a fire in 1968.

    If you would like to share a photo that provides a glimpse of history in your community, please call 973-836-4922 or send an email to middlesex@starledger.com. And, check out more glimpses of history in our online galleries on nj.com.

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


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    The display can draw around 150 people some nights. Watch video

    A home's massive, luminous Christmas display has sparked controversy in Old Bridge.

    Some neighbors have filed complaints with the township about the large display at 18 Central Ave. saying it is attracting too many visitors.

    "There are a lot of people talking smack about us. But it is what it is. You can't make anybody happy," says Thomas Apruzzi, whose sprinkler light show draws about 150 viewers on busy nights during the holiday season.

    The neighbors, according to the township and Apruzzi, claim the congestion is posing a safety risk to emergency and police vehicles that may have to drive down the dead-end street.

    But Apruzzi dismissed the safety concerns, saying that he and his wife Kristine always ensure visitors stay on the side of the street and do not obstruct the roadway.

    He believes his neighbors are merely envious of the display, which he has put on in some form for the past 19 years.

    "I think it is pure jealousy. I think it's only a disturbance in their minds. I think they should worry about their lives and not other people's lives," he said.

    Himanshu Shah, the township's business administrator and chief financial officer, confirmed that several neighbors had filed complaints about the decorations and lights. He said the township and the police department are actively working with Apruzzi to ensure there are no safety issues.

    "It is a little bit of a unique situation because it is a dead-end street," he said. However, he noted that township police have been at Central Avenue while the display is running, blocking off the street to traffic to prevent congestion on the road.

    Apruzzi offers visitors a light show every 28 minutes, free of charge. The display -- which is linked to a computer system that synchronizes the lights and decorations to music -- is open to the public from about 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

    The front yard, Apruzzi said, is made up of 70,000 bulbs that can be turned into 15 million color combinations.

    In total, Apruzzi estimated that he has put more than $100,000 into the display.

    The visitors, he said, love what he and his wife have done all these years.

    "I try to just give the public what they want to see," Apruzzi said.

    He added, "We wanted to thank the mayor and the township police for all their continuing support for us."

    Spencer Kent may be reached at skent@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerMKent. Find the Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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