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    There's a good chance that someone in your family owned a Singer sewing machine in days gone by.

    ELIZABETH -- Whether they used one that was powered by a treadle or a pedal, there's a really good chance that someone in your family owned a Singer sewing machine.

    singer1.pngAt one time, Singer sold more sewing machines than all of its competitors combined. 

    In 1873, the Singer Sewing Machine Manufacturing Co. purchased 32 acres of land in Elizabeth and established its first factory in the United States (the company also had a plant in Kilbowie, Clydebank, Scotland). The company isn't credited with inventing the sewing machine, but founder Isaac Singer made crucial improvements to machine designs, patenting 12 ideas in 1857 alone.

    By the time the Elizabeth factory opened, Singer was selling more sewing machines than all of its competitors combined.

    The 6,000-strong workforce at the plant in the 1870s was the largest in the world at the time for a single establishment. For the 109 years that the factory operated in Elizabeth, a large proportion of residents were employed there at some point or were directly related to someone who was.

    The company had promotional ideas ahead of their time. It was the first company to spend $1 million a year on advertising, and offered giveaways such as free sewing machines for the wives of clergymen.

    Singer2.jpgSinger sewing machines were manufactured in Elizabeth for 109 years. 

    The iconic machine with the ornate cast iron framework was a staple in homes around the world. To this day, the simple, efficient design of the treadle-powered flywheel and drive belt on the late-19th century models operates flawlessly and quietly.

    At the turn of the century, Singer employee Phillip Diehl developed an electric motor for use with the machine (later founding the Diehl Manufacturing Co. in Elizabeth) that modernized it further. Eventually, the more compact machines of the 1950s through 1970s evolved.

    By the 1970s, however, the company was facing stiff competition from low-priced imports and a general decline in sewing machine sales. In 1982, the last 560 workers at the 1,400,000 square foot Elizabeth factory were laid off and the facility closed. The site at First and Trumbull streets is now home to an industrial park.

    The modern consumer era brought a decline in sales of sewing machines but they appear to making a comeback. SVP Worldwide, the current manufacturer of Singer-brand machines, says sales topped three million in 2012, which was twice as many as were sold 10 years before.

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

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    The crash occurred about 3:30 p.m. on West Fourth Street in Piscataway.

    A man was killed early Monday after an SUV crashed into a tree in Piscataway, authorities said.

    The crash occurred about 3:30 a.m. in a residential neighborhood on West Fourth Street, according to police.

    Police said they had tentatively identified the victim and would release the name after notification of his family.

    The Piscataway Police Department's Traffic Unit is investigating, police said.

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


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    Dogs and cats throughout New Jersey await adoption at shelters and rescues.

    It's not always easy to know what to do when adopting a rescue dog, but a new website shows what to do - and what not to do - when adopting.

    Dog rescuer and trainer Julie Hart advocates for dog adopters with her new free website "I want to promote dog rescue by educating the dog adopter on how to select a compatible family pet," said Hart, "I want dog rescues to put the safety and needs of people first so dog adopters have a better dog adoption experience."

    Navigating the dog rescue world can be daunting. Hart's website takes a multi-pronged approach to help adopters, including information on how to choose a dog rescue to adopt from, understanding dog behavior, a flow chart to help choose a safe dog and dog rescue myths.

    Hart includes tips and videos on subjects like a dog's affinity of people, touch tolerance, fear, and rude dog behavior. Each video rates behavior as a preferred, medium, and poor dog behavior example. Hart also welcomes inquiries from dog rescues and shelters on how to improve the placement and selection of their dogs.

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

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    The pair tried to leave JCPenney in Woodbridge with more than $1,200 in sneakers, shirts and blankets

    A 45-year-old woman was arrested after enlisting the help of her 11-year-old daughter in an attempt to steal more than $1,200 in clothes, footwear and other goods from J.C. Penney in Woodbridge Center Mall last week, authorities said.

    Maria Cruz Garcia De Rodriguez, of Perth Amboy, instructed her daughter hide under a table or bench in the men's cloting, bedding and children's sections of the store, according to Woodbridge police.

    Garcia De Rodriguez then allegedly handed her items she pulled from racks and the girl placed the merchandise in a J.C. Penney shopping bag, police said. A short time later, the daughter came out and handed the bags to her mother, police said.

    Cops say this trio shoplifted $800 worth of booze

    The two were stopped by security as they tried to leave the store around 9:15 p.m. Tuesday. 

    In all, they had $1,234.15 worth of sneakers, shirts and blankets, according to police. 

    Garcia De Rodriguez was charged with endangering the welfare of a child, shoplifting and use of a juvenile to commit a criminal offense. She was released on a summons. The girl was turned over to another family member.

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find on Facebook.


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    See which girls basketball teams have had eye-opening starts this season.

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    Check out the big wrestling events of the week

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    New Jersey has already had an active winter, with a slew of snowstorms and long cold snaps. Here's how much snow we've gotten so far.

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    See which games you should keep an eye on this week.

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    Where are the top hoops games this week?

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    The crash took place on routes 9 and 35 in South Amboy

    A State Police trooper working a construction detail suffered minor injures after his vehicle was rear-ended on Monday morning by a driver who fell asleep behind the wheel, authorities said. 

    The woman told State Police she dozed off while driving south on routes 9 and 35 in South Amboy after working a 12-hour overnight shift. 

    The trooper was sitting in his vehicle at 9:34 a.m. between Costa Verde restaurant and the ramp where routes 9 and 35 split when his vehicle was struck, Sayreville police said. 

    Teen steals, crashes school bus after police chase

    He was taken to a local hospital with back pain, according to State Police Lt. Ted Schaefer. 

    Authorities are still investigating and have not determined if the woman will be ticketed. No criminal charges will be filed. 

    Traffic was diverted onto Raritan Street, Sayreville police said in an alert. The crash caused heavy traffic int the area. 

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find on Facebook.



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    Opponents of abortion rallying in front of the Statehouse in Trenton praise President Trump, former Gov. Chris Christie for their support and promise to keep fighting for life. Watch video

    Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Statehouse courtyard annex in Trenton Monday to mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade, 45 years ago.

    The rally organized by the New Jersey Right to Life group was held three days after the nationwide anti-abortion rally in Washington, D.C., which included a visit and speech from President Donald Trump.

    Leaders, elected officials, and clergy aligned with the anti-abortion movement addressed the crowd as they held signs distributed by the organization.  

    Father Peter West, an associate pastor at St. John's Catholic Church in Orange, kicked off the rally with a prayer.

    Marie Tasy, New Jersey Right to Life, executive director, praised Trump and former Gov. Chris Christie for their support of the movement. Tasy pointed out that Christie was the state's first anti-abortion governor.

    "We will work to make sure that he won't be our last," she said.

    The theme of the march this year was 'Love Saves Lives.'

    "Ours is a movement of love and hope," she said. "It's why we continue to call for the overturning of this tragic decision."

    Patti Sapone may be reached at Follow her on Instagram @psapo, Twitter @psapone.  Find on Facebook.


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    More than 9,000 drag racing fans signed an online petition appealing to the owners of Raceway Park in Old Bridge, whose owners announced they would discontinue drag racing Watch video

    A online petition to keep drag racing at Raceway Park has garnered thousands of signatures, after its owners announced that both amateur races and National Hot Rod Association events would no longer be held on the drag strip that's been the heart of Middlesex County motorsports complex for more than 50 years.

    The Raceway Park petition page on states that, "Racers need to stand up to keep drag racing at Raceway Park."

    "Raceway Park has announced that it will be no long having any drag racing of any kind starting this year," reads a statement by the petition's author, Steven Nelson, a 31-year-old fan and amateur drag racer from Little Silver. "I go there most Wednesday(s) and many events like Honda day and Summernationals. I look forward to going there every year and i know I'm not the only one. They will lose a lot of business if they discontinue. Raceway Park has been open since 1965 and drag racing is their main attraction and we need to make sure they don't let that tradition go!!!!!"

    The petition page went up last week, and as of Monday afternoon had more than 9,100 signatures, including more than 5,000 from New Jersey alone, en route to its goal of 10,000.

    "The history and drag racing culture of raceway park is something you can't find anywhere else," wrote one signatory from New Jersey, who didn't post his or her name.

    In an interview Monday, Nelson said he hoped the petition would help Raceway Park's owners appreciate what the drag strip means to people. He said he was initially hoping for 1,000 signatures, and has been overwhelmed by the response.

    "I didn't have high hopes for this," said Nelson, an auto mechanic at Middletown Service Center, who races a gutted Honda Civic.

    The region's hot rodders were rocked by last week's announcement that drag racing would no longer be held at the longtime home of the NHRA's annual Summernationals and bracket racing on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesday nights for amateurs and semi-pro drivers.

    Nelson said it takes him half an hour to drive his Honda to Raceway Park for the ten nights or so a year he races. But he said it will take hie three times as long to get to either one of the two remaining drag strips in New Jersey, Atco Dragway in Camden County to the south, or Island Dragway in Warren County to the northwest.

    "I'm right in the middle them," he said.

    Other forms of racing, including motocross, carting and drifting, will continue at Raceway Park, as will non-motorsports events like flee markets and Tough Mudders charity mud races, according to Raceway Park's owners, the Napp family, which founded the drag strip in 1965 and continues to operate expanded motorsports park.

    Englishtown latest in line of closed N.J. tracks

    But the quarter-mile drag strip that has been the heart of Raceway Park will be dedicated to concerts, according to Old Bridge Township officials who were briefed on the matter by Raceway Park's owner prior to the announcement.

    Steve Mamakas, the Old Bridge economic development director, said township officials had asked if there was anything they could do to keep drag racing alive, but the answer was no. 

    "That question has been asked," Mamakas said on Monday. "There's nothing that we have."

    The announcement set off a social media storm of anger, sorrow and nostalgia among the countless drivers and race fans who grew up or spent much of their lives at the strip watching or driving funny cars, dragsters and stock cars tearing up the quarter-mile or 1,000-foot track in bursts lasting less than 10 seconds.

    No one's been picking up the phone at Raceway Park since the announcement last week, and its principal owner, Michael Napp, could not be reached independently or through township officials who have met with him. Despite widespread media coverage and the outpouring of public sentiment generated by the announcement, Mamakas said Napp was laying low for the time being.

    "One of his responses was, 'I just have to let the dust settle a little bit,'" said Mamakas, who used to race his Dodge Challenger at the drag strip. 

    Raceway Park's drag strip is just the latest of about two dozen racing venues around the state that have shut down and, in most cases, torn down, after having opened in the early or mid-20th Century.

    The list includes drag strips, dirt and wood oval tracks and street courses, for everything from go-karts to IndyCars. Even Formula 1 fans have had their share of disappointments in New Jersey, where plans for the state's first F1 race along the Hudson River waterfront never materialized.

    Steve Strunsky may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @SteveStrunsky. Find on Facebook.

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    Suraj Gagneja, 25, of Somerset, was charged in the crash that killed Antoine King, Jr., 22, of Plainfield.

    A man killed in a crash Monday in Piscataway had been holding onto the side of an SUV when its drunken driver crashed into a tree, authorities said.

    Suraj Gagneja, 25, of the Somerset section of Franklin Township, was arrested and charged with second-degree death by auto, fourth-degree assault by auto and driving while intoxicated, according to Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey and Chief Scott Cartmell of the Piscataway Township Police Department.

    The crash killed Antoine King, Jr., 22, of Plainfield, authorities said.

    Gagneja lost control of his 2006 Ford Explorer and hit a tree after King grabbed onto the outside of the vehicle about 3:40 a.m. on West Fourth Street near Kline Place, authorities said.

    An autopsy determined King's cause of death to be blunt force trauma, the prosecutor said.

    Gagneja refused medical treatment.

    The crash is being investigated by Police Officer Hakeem Abdullah of the Piscataway Police Department and Detective Donald Heck of the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.

    The news release did not state why the victim had been hanging onto the side of the vehicle but noted that driver and victim knew each other.

    Cartmell and Carey were not immediately available to comment Tuesday morning.

    Anyone with information is asked to call investigators at 732-562-1100 or 732-745-8842.

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


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    The southbound right lane is closed near the Turnpike

    A water main break on Route 18 in East Brunswick has closed the right lane and made a normally challenging morning commute through the area even worse.

    The water main is broken on the southbound side of the highway near Eggers Street, which is just south of the New Jersey Turnpike, police said. 

    Eggers Street is also closed westbound between Suydam Road and Route 18.

    The break was reported at 5:47 a.m, according to, the state department of transportation's traffic website. 

    Traffic is moving slowly through the area. There are also northbound delays, traffic cameras show. 

    There is no time frame on when repairs will be complete, according to a police spokesman.

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find on Facebook.



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    The pharmaceutical giant paid a $13.6 billion charge on years of accumulated foreign earnings being brought back to the U.S.

    Johnson & Johnson posted a rare quarterly loss, a whopping $10.71 billion, due to a $13.6 billion charge related to the recent U.S. tax overhaul.

    The health care giant on Tuesday also reported sharply higher spending on production, marketing, administration and research, offsetting a big jump in sales.

    The $13.6 billion charge is for a tax payment on years of accumulated foreign earnings, now being brought back to the U.S., that amount to more than $66 billion, Chief Financial Officer Dominic Caruso said in an interview.

    About $18 billion of that was held in cash and was taxed at 15 percent, while the remainder was taxed at a low 8 percent rate.

    Jury orders Johnson & Johnson to pay $417M in baby powder suit

    The maker of biotech drugs and Band-Aids said the fourth-quarter loss amounts to $3.99 per share. A year earlier, the New Brunswick-based company had a net profit of $3.8 billion, or $1.38 per share.

    Excluding the tax charge and other one-time gains and costs, earnings came to $4.78 billion, $1.74 per share. That beat Wall Street projections by 2 cents, according to a survey of industry analyst by Zacks Investment Research.

    The world's biggest maker of health care products posted revenue of $20.2 billion, a hair below Street forecasts for $20.22 billion.

    Sales of prescription drugs, J&J's largest business, jumped 17.6 percent to $9.68 billion, led by newer products including cancer drugs Darzalex and Imbruvica and recently approved Tremfya for plaque psoriasis.

    Sales of Tylenol, Neutrogena skin care and other consumer health products rose 3.1 percent to $3.54 billion, while sales of medical devices climbed 11.5 percent to $6.97 billion.

    Johnson & Johnson said it expects full-year earnings in the range of $8 to $8.20 per share, with revenue in the range of $80.6 billion to $81.4 billion.

    Shares of Johnson & Johnson rose slightly before the opening bell Tuesday.


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    Who shined in the past week on the basketball court?

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    Who shined this week in #NJHoops?

    bb - bell.JPGWest Side #4 James Bell drives to the basket as Newark East Side beats West Side at Weequahic High School in the boys' basketball final of the Newark Public Schools Tournament. 12/30/17 Newark, N.J. 

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    Check out the biggest stories in N.J. ice hockey from this week.

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    NJ Advance Media staff releases its latest group and conference rankings of the season.

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    The best girls basketball games in N.J. for the week of Jan. 22

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