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    Hackensack Meridian now encompasses 12 acute care hospitals in six counties, from Bergen County to the shore in Ocean County.

    Hackensack Meridian Health Wednesday announced it now owns JFK Medical Center in Edison, a deal that creates the largest hospital chain in New Jersey.

    In what has become a race to amass the most sprawling health care network in the state, Hackensack Meridian now owns 12 acute care hospitals from Bergen to Ocean counties. It employs a staff of 33,000 and 6,500 doctors, and maintains 4,520 in-patient beds, which include children's and specialty hospitals.

    The deal dethrones RWJ Barnabas Health, owner of 11 full-service hospitals valued at $5.4 billion, as the largest hospital and health care provider in the state. Robert Wood Johnson University Health and Barnabas Health merged in 2016.

    Hackensack Meridian and JFK executives emphatically said the winners in this turf war are their patients. More people will benefit from JFK's nationally recognized neurological care and rehabilitation services. JFK's patient base will have a larger network of outpatient, home care, and other patient care options to choose from -- 160 locations in all.

    "In a rapidly changing health care environment, this merger strengthens and aligns our services to maximize options for everyone, from newborns to our geriatric population," JFK President and CEO Raymond Fredericks said.  

    Hackensack Meridian also announced Wednesday it will spend $12 million to expand JFK's cardiac catheterization lab, where artery-clearing angioplasty procedures are performed.

    Hospital merger-mania in N.J.

    "JFK is already an outstanding provider of cardiac services in central New Jersey and with this investment, we will not only maintain but expand this leadership role in serving the region," Robert C. Garrett, co-CEO of Hackensack Meridian said in a statement.

    Hackensack Meridian and JFK announced they were exploring a merger in November 2016, and in May, confirmed a deal had been reached pending government approvals. Hospital executive said Wednesday that regulators had signed off, allowing the deal to be completed.

    JFK, a 50-year-old 499-bed hospital located in Edison, assures its future by assimilating into the Hackensack Meridian network, with its vast bargaining power with insurers and protection from market instability.  There are 72 acute-care hospitals in New Jersey but only about a dozen are independently operated. 

    Academic studies on mergers say patients and communities do not always come out ahead.

    An often-cited Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study in 2012, found "Hospital consolidation generally results in higher prices." But mergers can improve the quality of care if patients are given a choice over which hospital they use, and competition remains strong, according to the study.

    In addition to JFK, Hackensack Meridian hospitals include:

    Hackensack University Medical Center;

    Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Neptune;

    Ocean Medical Center, Brick;

    Riverview Medical Center, Red Bank;

    Southern Ocean Medical Center, Manahawkin;

    Bayshore Community Hospital, Holmdel;

    Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair;

    Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood;

    Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge and Perth Amboy;

    Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen.

    Susan K. Livio may be reached at slivio@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @SusanKLivio. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.

     

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    Here are the players standing out through the first two weeks of the season.


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    A pair of bills set forth by New Jersey legislation could dramatically alter the landscape of high school sports.

    Get ready, New Jersey — a high school “super team” could soon be coming to a district near you.

    A pair of companion bills that critics say could dramatically alter the landscape of high school sports in the Garden State are on the brink of final passage by the state legislature this week and next.

    The bill would allow public high schools in the same district facing low participation numbers, financial constraints or safety concerns — regardless of sport or enrollment size — to merge teams at the varsity level without any oversight or review by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.

    The change would instantly give multi-school districts a potential advantage over single-school districts, and potentially shift the balance of power by providing the chance for multi-school districts to build “super teams” comprised of athletes from multiple schools.

    Supporters of the bill say it’s a necessary change during a time when some sports are facing declining participation numbers and districts are facing greater financial constraints.

    NJSIAA member schools typically vote on significant rule changes, but the current movement in the legislature is believed to be the first time lawmakers have attempted to pass to a bill that directly impacts NJSIAA bylaws.

    “For a hundred years the member schools have written the rules,” NJSIAA assistant director Kim DeGraw-Cole said Wednesday. “This would be the first time — unprecedented — where the legislature would actually change those rules, alter those rules and then we’d be left to deal with them without any input or conversation.”

    As currently constituted by the NJSIAA, cooperative sports programs — combined teams from different schools — are prohibited in basketball, baseball, softball and outdoor track. New Jersey currently has 116 schools that are involved in a co-op program, with some even being tri-ops, according to NJSIAA officials.

    “We have had co-ops and have had them for 30 years,” DeGraw-Cole said. “We have tri-ops in ice hockey. So, it’s an evolution that have met the needs. Why do we need to have basically someone else tell our member schools how to write the rules and regulations when we’re already expanding opportunities for kids?”

    The bills, already passed 30-0 by the Senate committee and 11-0 by the Assembly committee, are expected to be placed before a vote of the full Assembly and full Senate this week and could potentially be signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie before Jan. 16. The bills were sponsored by Daniel R. Benson and Annette Quijano in the Assembly, and Shirley Turner and Linda Greenstein in the Senate.

    More than 20 school districts in New Jersey have more than a single high school, with Newark having 12 high schools, NJSIAA officials said.

    The creation of the bill can be traced to last year, when several voting bodies denied a request from the West Windsor-Plainsboro district to merge its two high school football programs due to low participation numbers. Group 4 West Windsor-Plainsboro North High ended up playing a junior varsity schedule, while neighboring Group 4 West Windsor-Plainsboro South High finished with a 1-8 varsity record.

    NJSIAA officials believed the issue was resolved last month when member schools approved a proposal from West Windsor-Plainsboro that allows larger schools to enter co-op programs in football under specified conditions. DeGraw-Cole and NJSIAA project manager Mike Zapicchi were critical of the legislature for pushing a state law without more discussion with the association or member schools.

    “Any member school could propose this exact legislation and then it would be debated, examined and voted on and it could pass in the same fashion,” Zapicchi said. “This way, it takes the decision making of the member schools completely out of the situation. What they’re saying is, they know best.”

    Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) — a past critic of the NJSIAA — said the legislation was necessary after the West Windsor-Plainsboro situation “didn’t get resolved fast enough through their process.”

    “There’s a growing sense of frustration of members of both chambers with the NJSIAA and these kinds of issues that keep rising up from time to time,” Burzichelli said. “The state legislature is about to act. That’s what happens when lawmakers get involved. It becomes a different process.”

    The NJSIAA issued a press release recently expressing fear over the impact the new law could have on the state’s sports scene.

    “Fewer teams means fewer opportunities for students to experience education-based athletics,” incoming NJSIAA Executive Director Larry White said. “Removing any oversight or review will give districts the green light to create all-star teams from a combined school district talent pool.

    “Every student, parent, administrator and coach should be very, very concerned.”

    Meanwhile, the bill is receiving mixed reviews from across the state. Many athletic officials are skeptical that so-called “super teams” would ever come to fruition. West Windsor-Plainsboro superintendent Dave Aderhold said he doesn’t think districts will ever merge sports programs simply for competitive advantage should the new bill pass.

    The NJSIAA is “just spewing nonsense to try and cloud the conversation,” Aderhold said. “Super teams will not happen at big schools. You think a big school in a big district will stand up to the community and say, even with three teams, three quarterbacks, 15 linemen, that we’re going to make one team now because we want a state title? No way. What will happen is when there’s a budgetary crisis that maybe schools will consolidate. When the reality is a lack of enrollment and there are safety concerns is when teams will go co-op.”

    Demarest athletic director Greg Butler operates in a multi-school district in Northern Valley with Old Tappan -- a state champion football team in 2017 -- and agrees that districts will be wary of purposely creating a super team due to the reaction it would generate in the community.

    “Any district looking to combine teams simply for a competitive edge would get backlash from parents,” said Butler, whose ice hockey team already does co-op with Old Tappan due to low participation numbers at Demarest. “No one wants to lose a program or the identity associated with a program. That said, with our ice hockey, there weren’t enough participants for our athletes to compete, so co-oping with Old Tappan was a no-brainer. Now we have Northern Valley ice hockey. At least it gives those kids an opportunity to play.”

    Still, NJSIAA officials see potential trouble looming down the road should these bills be turned into law.

    “Successful programs [in multi-school districts] will continue to flourish, but what’s to say the program or two where the sports aren’t flourishing, ‘You know what? We can save a little money here or there and let’s just have one softball team because we haven’t been successful, it’s not a big sport here,’” DeGraw-Cole said. “And again, your freshman, your JV at both schools — all of that wanes and goes by the wayside. The biggest key is it gets an unfair advantage because now those single-school districts don’t have the opportunities that these multiple school districts have.”

    Aderhold, however, still disagrees with the NJSIAA’s stance that the newly proposed bills are bad for high school sports.

    “You have an athletic association saying they are trying to save sports… by restricting students from participating in sports,” Aderhold said. “They are absolutely blind to the fact that this is already being allowed in other districts. Look at Elizabeth. How many high schools do they have? Six. How many football teams do they have? One. That’s 5,400 students, and that’s allowed under the academy concept. Tell me anywhere in code how that is defined.

    “The hypocrisy is they turn a blind eye when it’s convenient for them, but when a district is trying to keep a program alive, they shut down and turn a blind eye. This is their own doing. … We went to them asking for consideration under their own rules for exemption and they said no, and they’re surprised at the movement that took place to change the rules. … Now they’re scrambling and sending out press releases all in this effort to ‘save sports.’ But what was the reason it even started? Because they excluded kids. They brought this upon themselves."

    JJ Conrad may be reached at jconrad@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @jj_conrad. Like NJ.com High School Sports on Facebook.

    NJ Advance Media's Matthew Stanmyre contributed to this report.


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    Thomas Canales, a former member of the East Franklin Fire Department, faces 31 1/2 years in prison for sexually assaulting four females

    An ex-firefighter from Somerset County who was previously cleared of all charges in an underage sex assault case has been found guilty of sex crimes in four other incidents, three of which involved children, officials announced.

    Canales.jpgA file photo of Thomas Canales  from the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office

    A jury on Wednesday found Thomas Canales, 39, of Franklin Township, guilty on three sexual assault charges, three counts of endangering the welfare of a child and sex contact, following a five-week trial, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey said in a release. 

    Canales, a former member of the East Franklin Fire Department, faces 31 1/2 years in prison for sexually assaulting four females in Edison, Highland Park, New Brunswick, and North Brunswick between April and August in 2016, the release said. 

    During that time, authorities found that Canales exposed himself to a 7-year-old and 11-year-old girl, and "improperly touched" a 32-year-old woman and an 11-year-old girl in four separate incidents, according to the release. 

    Canales, who was also a Franklin Township fire commissioner from 2011 to 2012, was found not guilty two years ago of charges accusing him of sexually assaulting two girls multiple times over a five-year span. 

    Middlesex County authorities arrested Canales nine months after he was cleared of the charges in Somerset County.

    He also faces additional charges in a case where authorities say he installed a surveillance system in a customer's home while running the Franklin company "Scope It Out" and watched the client in his home through a computer and cell phone. 

    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.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    School closing and delays for Middlesex County for Thursday, Jan. 4

    Due to the ice and snow, school districts in Middlesex County have announced school closings and delayed openings for Thursday, Jan. 4.

    Below is our list of the school districts that are affected. It will be updated as additional announcements are made.  

    CLOSED: 

    • Bishop Ahr High School (Edison)
    • Children's Choice Academy
    • Developmental Learning Center (Monroe)
    • East Brunswick public schools
    • Gateway School - Carteret
    • Lakeview School
    • Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School - day and evening schools
    • Monroe Township Public Schools 
    • Mozarts and Einsteins Performing Arts Preschool
    • NJID North Day Programs
    • North Brunswick Township schools
    • Old Bridge public schools 
    • Perth Amboy public schools
    • St. Thomas the Apostle 
    • St. Bartholomew School
    • Sayerville public schools
    • South Amboy public schools
    • South Plainfield public schools
    • South River public schools
    • Woodbridge Township school district

    DELAYS: 

    • Piscataway public schools, delayed two hours
    • Middlesex Borough school district, delayed two hours, no before school care

    Sophie Nieto-Munoz may be reached at snietomunoz@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her at @snietomunoz. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    Making money off wintery white stuff isn't confined to snow removal..

    Although snow blowers have put plenty of kids out of business, there are still some industrious youngsters who trudge door-to-door through freshly fallen snow, shovels over their shoulders, looking to make a little money clearing people's walks and driveways.

    Many contractors who make the lion's share of their income when it's warm in New Jersey hook plows to their construction vehicles when the forecast calls for snow to make the most of the slow season. These guys work long hours to clear roads, driveways and parking lots so guys like me aren't snowed in. They earn every penny they make, I'd say.

    But making money off the wintery white stuff isn't confined to snow removal.

    I have written about the invention of the Flexible Flyer by Samuel Leeds Allen of Cinnaminson (click here). Once Allen began marketing his sled to toy stores around 1915, sales took off and he and his family made quite a bit of money for years to come. Just so you know, the family sold the S.L. Allen Co. in 1968; rights to the sled changed hands several times, and as of 2012, Flexible Flyers are mostly made in China and some are made in South Paris, Maine, by Paricon Inc.

    As noted on geek.com, "If you look at the 8,011,991th U.S. Patent, you will see the "Apparatus for Facilitating the Construction of a Snow Man/Woman," granted to inventor Ignacio Marc Asperas of Melville, N.Y. The patent was filed on Jan. 31, 2006, and was granted on Sept. 6, 2011.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    And U.S. Patent #5,497,974A is for a "Geodesic Igloo Constructor," which, according to its abstract, consists of "a pair of molds or forms for constructing a geodesic igloo. One of the molds forms a hexagonal

    block of snow; the other, a pentagonal block. An icosahedron igloo with frequency 3 or 6 is constructed by shoveling snow into the molds, compacting such snow, and then carefully placing the compacted block of snow onto the igloo being constructed."

    This gallery is for those who make money when it snows, those who hop on a Flexible Flyer and enjoy it and even the folks who prefer to watch it fall from the comfort of their living room.

    Here's a gallery of winter scenes in New Jersey. And here are links to more galleries on the same theme.

    Vintage photos of N.J. in the wintertime

    More vintage photos of N.J. in the wintertime

    Vintage photos of winter in N.J.

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


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    35 New Jersey high school wrestlers and four teams are in either the Intermat or Flowrestling national rankings this week


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    Who had the top performances from December?


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    The blizzard that hit New Jersey on Thursday was already prompting school closings and delays for Friday, Jan. 5, 2018

    Some schools are already calling for delays after Thursday's 'bomb cyclone' blizzard dropped between 6 to 8 inches of snow across Central Jersey. Others could see a second snow day on Friday in response to icy conditions and worsening roads. 

    Below is our list of the school districts that are affected. The following list will be updated Thursday night and Friday morning as additional announcements are made: 

    CLOSED:

    • Bishop Ahr High School (Edison)
    • Carteret school district
    • Developmental Learning Center (Monroe)
    • East Brunswick public schools 
    • Highland Park public schools
    • Middlesex County Vocational and Technical schools 
    • Monroe Township public schools (Middlesex) 
    • North Brunswick Township public schools
    • Old Bridge Township public schools
    • Perth Amboy public schools
    • Saint Bartholomew School 
    • Sayerville public schools
    • South Amboy school district 
    • South Brunswick school district
    • South Plainfield public schools 
    • South River public schools
    • West Windsor-Plainsboro public schools
    • Woodbridge Township school district

    DELAYS

    • Dunellen school district, delayed two hours
    • Kiddie Corral Child Learning Center, delayed two hours
    • Milltown Borough public schools, delayed two hours, no AM kindergarten
    • Rutgers University, opens at 10 a.m.
    • Piscataway public schools, delayed two hours
    • Spotswood public schools, delayed two hours
    • UBHS Rutgers Day School, opens at 10:30 a.m. for students

    Sophie Nieto-Munoz may be reached at snietomunoz@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her at @snietomunoz. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    Rutgers closed all three of its campuses at 2 p.m. after initially saying it would remain open during the snowstorm.

    Rutgers University sent its employees and students home at 2 p.m. Thursday after the worsening blizzard conditions forced school officials to rethink an earlier plan to keep all three of its campuses open.

    Some employees and students criticized the state university for announcing it would operate on a regular schedule despite Gov. Chris Christie's declaration of a State of Emergency in several New Jersey counties.

    A Rutgers spokeswoman said Thursday morning that university officials planned to monitor the weather situation throughout the day.

    Rutgers President Robert Barchi declared a Weather Emergency Closure at 2 p.m., allowing faculty and staff to go home. Classes for students attending Winter Session are cancelled.

    All three campuses -- New Brunswick-Piscataway, Newark and Camden -- will reopen at 10 a.m. Friday, according to the university's announcement.

    The university's clinical operations, including clinical offices related to the university's medical schools, will remain open, university officials said.

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

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    Dozens of others, including police officers and children, were also affected

    UPDATE: Teen killed, 3 critical in carbon monoxide poisoning that sickened dozens


    Several people were overcome by carbon monoxide at a Perth Amboy residence Thursday afternoon, including a young teenage girl who died at the hospital, WABC 7 reported.

    Dozens of others were sickened, including six people whose conditions were not known but who were unconscious when they arrived at the hospital, a spokesperson for Perth Amboy said in a statement.

    About 35 people living in a building on Fayette Street were affected, including the girl, who was 13 years old. Her name was not immediately released. The victims also included seven police officers as well as several other children.

    Several carbon monoxide detectors allegedly failed to work, the station also reported, adding that it is being investigated as a criminal matter.  

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

     

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    An inside look at the Brendan T. Byrne collection at Rutgers University, from a governor whose offices overflowed with buttons, bumper stickers, snapshots and newspaper clippings that came with a lifetime in politics.

    Former Gov. Brendan T. Byrne may be gone. But his autographed photo of Frank Sinatra is still here.

    So is his handwritten account ledger from his early days as an attorney, his "Brendan Byrne for Governor" bumper sticker, his snapshots with Muhammad Ali and a receipt for a $25 radio he bought in 1966.

    The items are part of a 50-box collection of Byrne's personal papers and mementos housed in a library sub-basement at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.

    Hundreds more boxes of Byrne's official papers are cataloged at the State Archives in Trenton. Still more of his personal papers are sitting in the archives at Seton Hall University in South Orange.

    "He saved more than I do, that's for sure," said Ron Becker, the retired head of special collections and the university archives at Rutgers University.

    GALIBRARY 1 HEYBOER BROWNA photo signed by Frank Sinatra for Gov. Brendan Byrne. The photo is part of the collection of photos and personal papers Byrne donated to Rutgers University. It is kept in the Special Collections and University Archives section of Rutgers University Libraries. (Star-Ledger file photo)



    As anyone who had ever been to his office or his house could attest, Byrne was a lifelong saver. His basement was packed with campaign mementos, old letters and photos. His offices overflowed with buttons, bumper stickers, snapshots and newspaper clippings that come with a lifetime in politics.

    The two-term governor -- who had a hand in everything from creating the Meadowlands sports complex to instituting the state's first income tax -- had a sense that his boxes and boxes of papers and mementos might hold some value to future scholars.

    In 2005, Byrne donated many of his personal papers to Rutgers University. Then, he and his wife Ruthi formed a foundation to raise money to preserve his papers and the personal files of other New Jersey governors. Archivists arrived at Byrne's Short Hills house to sort through decades of boxes in his basement and study. The former governor delighted in telling the Rutgers team stories about every item and tales from his days in Trenton.

    "He loved it," Becker said.

    Rutgers' archivists threw out anything too moldy or damp and carted everything else back to the library in New Brunswick. There, they flattened the documents, put them in acid free folders and boxes and began the slow process of cataloging everything.


    It took six months to whittle Byrne's papers down to 49 boxes, Becker said.

    The highlight of the collection may be Byrne's impressive collection of photographs, from his days growing up in West Orange to his run-ins with the rich and famous.
    "The photographs, I think, are amazing," Becker said. "He really liked being around celebrities."

    A grinning Byrne was snapped with Mary Tyler Moore, Milton Berle, George Steinbrenner and more. Other celebrities signed photos to him. The 1978 portrait of Frank Sinatra reads, "For Gov. Byrne, With admiration and respect. Affectionately, Frank Sinatra." Another from tennis star Chris Everet reads, "To Gov. Byrne, Best of luck!"

    Brendan Byrne archive 2Part of the collection of Brendan Byrne memorabilia donated to Rutgers University's Special Collections and University Archives. (Star-Ledger file photo)


    The papers also give a glimpse into Byrne's day-to-day life. A typewritten schedule of a typical day on his 1973 gubernatorial campaign shows Byrne starting his day with a private 9 a.m. meeting with future Sen. Frank Lautenberg, then helicoptering around the state to hit more than a dozen events in Somerville, Cherry Hill, Westfield, Camden and Morristown before ending his day at 11:30 p.m.

    Byrne also seemed to relish his unpopularity during his first term as governor when his critics called him "One-term Byrne." His files include cartoons from the mid 1970s that depict him as a court jester and a ballet dancer in a tutu.

    Byrne and his family were also prodigious newspaper clippers. His files include boxes of newspaper articles about himself dating back to a 1944 story from the West Orange Review announcing a then-19-year-old Lt. Byrne had earned his silver wings as an aerial navigator in the Army Air Force.

    A file containing mementos from a 1980 diplomatic trip to China contain Byrne's crib sheet on how to say "How are you?," "New Jersey," and "Thanks," in Mandarin.
    Byrne's folders of personal letters also give researchers a glimpse at his innate skill as a politician. They are filled with letters from constituents who connected with Byrne personally and friendly notes from fellow politicians he cultivated as friends and colleagues.

    "Thanks for the fine blue shirts," then-Gov. Bob Meyner wrote Byrne shortly after one Christmas.

    Another 1,500 cubic feet of Byrne's papers are in the State Archives in Trenton, said Joseph Klett, chief of the state archives.

    They include all of the official papers from Byrne's years in the governor's office, including legislative documents, budget documents, correspondence and photos.
    Byrne, along with former Gov. Tom Kean, has the largest volume of papers among recent governors, Klett said. Archivists attribute the flood of papers to the fact that both two-term governors served after the advent of the copy machine and before the wide use of computers.

    "That's part of the reason you see a jump," Klett said.

    Another set of Byrne's papers, mostly campaign materials from his two runs for governor, are in Seton Hall University's archives in South Orange. Byrne gave the 60 boxes of materials to Seton Hall, where he briefly spent time as a student, in 1982.
    The boxes include papers and other artifacts, including commemorative ground breaking shovels, a Seton Hall spokeswoman said.

    All of Byrne's papers at Rutgers, Seton Hall and the State Archives are open to both scholars and the public, upon request.

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


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    WOODBRIDGE TOWNSHIP -- Firecracker is an adult female domestic shorthair in the care of Holisticat Rescue. Adopted as a kitten, she was returned when a baby came in to the home where she lived. Volunteers say Firecracker "loves to be petted and doesn't mind being held;" she should make a good pet in most any home. Firecracker has been litterbox-trained,...

    mx0107pet.jpgFirecracker 

    WOODBRIDGE TOWNSHIP -- Firecracker is an adult female domestic shorthair in the care of Holisticat Rescue.

    Adopted as a kitten, she was returned when a baby came in to the home where she lived.

    Volunteers say Firecracker "loves to be petted and doesn't mind being held;" she should make a good pet in most any home. Firecracker has been litterbox-trained, is FIV/FeLV negative, spayed and up-to-date on shots.

    For more information on Firecracker, email holisticatrnr@yahoo.com or go to holisticatrescue.org.

    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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    NJ.com looks at noteworthy items, news and events in its first edition of wrestling hot takes for 2018


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    The latest hot takes from New Jersey basketball


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    NEW BRUNSWICK -- This wintertime photo was taken on George Street in New Brunswick in 1905. MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey According to information from the New Brunswick Free Public Library, wood-frame houses and churches were the predominant structures on the thoroughfare at the time of this photo. If you would like to share a photo that provides a...

    NEW BRUNSWICK -- This wintertime photo was taken on George Street in New Brunswick in 1905.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    According to information from the New Brunswick Free Public Library, wood-frame houses and churches were the predominant structures on the thoroughfare at the time of this photo.

    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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    See what happened this week in girls basketball across New Jersey.


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    Authorities are continuing to investigate whether carbon monoxide detectors were working in the 12-unit apartment building

    Authorities are continuing to investigate the death of a 13-year-old girl by carbon monoxide poisoning at a Perth Amboy apartment building Thursday in an incident that left three of her relatives in critical condition and sickened dozens.

    Other residents of the 12-unit apartment building and seven police officers who responded to calls for help were among those injured.

    "I want to extend my sincerest condolences to the victims and the family of the 13 year old who passed away from the carbon monoxide incident last night," city Mayor Wilda Diaz said in a statement Friday.

    The teen's name has not been released. The three relatives in critical condition include a 14-year-old girl, a man in his 40s and a 21-year-old woman.

    At least 35 people had to be treated for carbon monoxide exposure. The first calls for help at the Fayette Street building came in around 4 p.m. on Thursday.

    The city's fire department is continuing to investigate whether carbon monoxide detectors in the building worked.

    The city housed the displaced residents in a hotel Thursday night.

    Diaz commended the quick response by emergency responders, social service staff and personnel at Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center of Perth Amboy, where many of the victims were treated.

    "Our hearts go out to all affected. We ask our community to keep everyone involved in prayer for a full recovery," Diaz said.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    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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    Gaten Matarazzo sold out The Stone Pony just before New Year's. What's next?

    SAYREVILLE -- He took on the Demogorgon. He sold out The Stone Pony just before New Year's. 

    And now Jersey boy Gaten Matarazzo -- aka wise-cracking Dustin Henderson from the hit Netflix series "Stranger Things" -- and his rock band Work In Progress will play Starland Ballroom in Sayreville Feb. 3, the group announced Friday. 

    Yes, the 15-year-old Little Egg Harbor native and his pack of teen rockers will play the 2,500 capacity venue where Green Day recently played. 

    This would all seem a little, well, strange, save for the fact that Work In Progress easily sold out the iconic Stone Pony Dec. 29 (capacity 700), where gaggles of teens and "Stranger Things" diehards poured in to see Matarazzo sing. He's not exactly a virtuosic vocalist, but he's a fun frontman and his band may very well sell out this Central Jersey club. 

    Ticket presale begins Jan. 11 at 10 a.m., general sale begins Jan. 12. 

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


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    County and local authorities said their investigation found the detectors were "not operational at the time of the incident."

    A blocked chimney caused the gas buildup in a multi-family home in Perth Amboy Thursday that led to the death of a 13-year-old girl and sickened dozens, authorities said. 

    The fatal carbon monoxide incident, which was reported in a 12-unit building on Fayette Street at about 4 p.m., was the result of a collapsed clay liner that blocked the gas exhaust, the city administration said in a statement. 

    Both the carbon monoxide and smoke detectors were functional in December, the owner told authorities. 

    County and local authorities said, however, their investigation found the detectors were "not operational at the time of the incident."

    Three of the teen's relatives -- a 14-year-old girl, a man in his 40s and a 21-year-old woman -- remain in critical condition as of Friday afternoon. 

    The name of the teen who died has not been released. 

    In total, 35 people were treated for carbon monoxide.  

    "Our hearts go out to all affected. We ask our community to keep everyone involved in prayer for a full recovery," Mayor Wilda Diaz said in a statement. 

    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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