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    A couple of wrecked tractor trailers on Route 78 were all it took to freeze traffic for hours. It got so bad on Route 280 that police resorted to snowmobiles to rescue stranded drivers. Watch video

    As the nor'easter intensified shortly after noon Wednesday, Darral Connor's company told employees to hit the road in the hopes they would avoid the worst of the storm.

    Connor didn't get very far. Just 15 minutes into his drive, the blinding snow prevented Connor from seeing the sides of Route 280 in West Orange. He skidded into a ditch and got stranded.

    For 10 hours.

    Connor, 33, soon had plenty of company. Similar plights played out on routes 287, 78 and 280 as bands of heavy snowfall swept through North Jersey, causing hundreds of crashes.

    A couple of wrecked tractor trailers on Route 78 were all it took to freeze traffic for hours. It got so bad on Route 280 that the State Police resorted to snowmobiles to rescue stranded drivers and ferry them off the highway to get warm.

    Connor said he didn't want to risk leaving his car and having it towed. Instead, he waited. And waited.

    "I was a little angry, I guess, but I had to understand what was going on with the situation," said Connor, of Jersey City. "I kind of accepted the fact that nothing was going to happen at that moment and I just had to sit there and wait."

    Finally, a tow truck pulled his car from the ditch around midnight. By then his battery was dead and the tow truck provided a jump.

    Stuck on Rt 280 this was at 1:30pm

    A post shared by Rell (@freshairhdrell) on

    The damage report from the State Police on Thursday was staggering. Troopers responded to 530 crashes and helped 1,017 motorists with spin outs, flat tires and other breakdowns. And that's just on the major highways and some local towns patrolled by the State Police.

    Those totals don't include folks like Brian Silverman. He was headed home to Jersey City when his 2017 Volkswagen Passat could no longer handled the fast-accumulating snow on Route 280 east.

    He was stranded for nine hours.

    "Never seen it accumulate so fast," Silverman said Thursday. "I was alone and concerned I would be stuck in the car overnight and run out of gas."

    Drivers started to panic and things went from bad to worse.

    "I was also very worried people were going to crash into me," Silverman said. "People were driving erratically to try and get their cars [unstuck from the snow]."

    Around 11 p.m., a plow came by and cleared the snow and he was able to move again without spinning his tires or skidding, he said.

    For Ken Foster and girlfriend Michelle Wei, New Jersey's highways should have just been another link in their trek for a five-day snowboarding trip in the Catskills. The drive from their Washington, D.C., home should have taken six hours.

    Instead, they spent six hours stranded on Route 287 north near Morristown.

    "All of a sudden, four miles south of Morristown, we hit a standstill," Foster said Thursday. "We just sat there. For six hours."

    Luckily, their Honda Civic was packed for the long weekend with thermal gloves, thick socks, and supplies. But ultimately, the journey for Foster, 30, and Wei, 28,  went no father Wednesday night.

    "We took turns sleeping in the car - one of us monitoring in case anything happened like if we moved or if the police or someone told us anything," Ken said. "We were definitely bored. The weirdest part was there was no information."

    Anyone else stuck on I 287 N for hours know why? Can't find any info anywhere. Know I 287 S is shut down but no news of why this side. #NewJersey #Traffic

    -- Michelle Wei (@mawei324) March 8, 2018

    When traffic began inching forward about 2 a.m., police guided cars toward an opening in the median and to Route 287 south. They retreated and stayed a motel in Edison - the only place they could find for under $300 a night.

    They were waiting on Thursday morning for the roads to clear before resuming their trek.

    "We're hoping to spend at least two or three days in the Catskills at this point," Foster said.

    At the very least, there should be plenty of snow.

    ken-michelle.jpgTraffic came to halt for six hours Wednesday night on Route 287 North near Morristown, said Ken Foster and his girlfriend, Michelle Wei, snowboarders who took turns sleeping until the nightmare was over.  

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

     
     

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    Snow still covers parts of New Jersey following this week's winter storm.

    While parts of New Jersey work to clean up roadways following Wednesday's winter storm, some school districts are playing it safe with delayed openings and closings for Friday as crews work to restore power. 

    The following Middlesex County schools are closed or have delayed openings for Friday, March 9:

    CLOSED:

    • Middlesex Borough

    DELAYED OPENING:

    • Piscataway - 2 hours

    If you know of any delays or closures not on this list, let us know in the comments.

    Caitlyn Stulpin may be reached at cstulpin@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @caitstulpin. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    Tetley's fosterers say he is a "super affectionate" feline.

    mx0311pet.jpgTetley 

    WOODBRIDGE -- Tetley is a male tuxedo kitten in the care of Holisticat Rescue and Rehabilitation.

    His fosterers say he is a "super affectionate" feline who gets along with both dogs and cats.

    Tetley -- who has a sister, Lipton, also in need of adoption -- would make a good pet in most any home; he is FIV/FeLV negative, neutered and up-to-date on shots.

    For more information on Tetley, email holisticatrnr@yahoo.com or go to holisticatrescue.org. Holisticat Rescue and Rehabilitation is an all volunteer, foster based rescue organization for cats and kittens.

    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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    The officers completed 22 weeks of training at the Mercer County Police Academy

    The newest class of graduates from the Mercer County Police Academy come from several law enforcement agencies in five New Jersey counties.

    Trenton police had 18 officers graduate, the Middlesex County Sheriff's Office had six and the Mercer sheriff's had five.

    NJ Advance Media photographed the ceremony Friday at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor, as well as every officer receiving their diploma and the class' recognition awards. They can be seen in the picture gallery below.

    All the officers and award winners from Mercer academy graduation

    The officers:

    From Trenton police: Manuel Acosta, Dariel Bacilio, Christopher Bustamante, Anthony Cariola, Walter Deleon, Julio Estrada, Nicholas Hogan, Cornell Huff, Anthony Kubish, Lukasz Kulis, Corey McNair, Lizmary Rivera, Vishan Singh, Hector Solares, Michael Tilton, Derick Tosado, Tamar Williams and Gregory Woods

    Middlesex County Sheriff's Office: Chantel Church, Jeffrey Dominguez, Victor Hojasbravo, Jose Malave, Robert Massa and Steven Sabo

    Mercer County Sheriff's Office: Garrett Bezek, Marvin Deleon, Adam Joyce, Brandon Kent and Jason Magrelli

    Ewing Police: Kyle McGuire, Matthew Wherley and Charles Wyckoff

    Hamilton Police: Denita Allen and Alexander Zuzzio

    Princeton Police: Ryan McDermott and Adam Santos

    West Windsor Police: Peter Buchanan and Christian Crawford

    And Korey Linico of the Florence Police; Michael Moloney of the Bordentown Township Police; Kristofer Grimm from Bridgewater Police; Carolyn Edwards of the NJ State Park Police; Christofer Aboosamara of the Somerset County Sheriff's Office; Samuel Marton of the Somerset County Sheriff's Office; and David Gaughan of the Hunterdon County Sheriff's Office.

    Kevin Shea may be reached at kshea@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter@kevintshea. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     


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    Thousands of homes are still without power in New Jersey as power companies clean up after a pair of back-to-back nor'easters. Residents have used social media to vent.


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    Thirteen alumni will be honored with a place in the Hall of Honor.

     

    EDISON -- J.P. Stevens High School has announced its newest Hall of Honor inductees.

    Each year, graduates are recognized for "outstanding personal, professional, and community-related and public service accomplishments," and their good character, as nominated by their peers and families. This year, graduates from the classes of 1965 through 2008 were eligible for nomination.

    The J.P. Stevens Hall of Honor Class of 2018 inductees are: David Donner Chait, '03, founder and CEO of Travefy; David Gockel, '76, CEO, Langan Engineering; John Jay Hoffman, '83, senior VP and general counsel, Rutgers University; Chieh Huang, '99, co-founder and CEO of Boxed.com; Steven J. Kravet, '83, associate professor of medicine, John Hopkins University; Frank Machos, '98, executive director, office of arts and academic enrichment, the School District of Philadelphia; Alanah Odoms-Hebert, '98, director of the Division of Children & Families, Louisiana Supreme Court, and adjunct law professor at Tulane University; Robert Palumbo, '78, founder and president of OAA Orthopedic Specialists; Tiffany Peng, '07, physician and music and marching band technician at JPS; Jiles H. Ship, '78, commissioner of the New Jersey Police Training Commission and CEO of Homeland Global Strategies; Mitchell Stein, '97, senior vice president and partner of The Beyer Stein Group at Morgan Stanley; Jeffrey Zuttah, '02, business development professional at Quartet Health and Sickle Cell Anemia advocate; Jeremy Zuttah, '03, professional football player.

    The Hall of Honor inductions will take place April 26 at the Pines Manor in Edison. For more information or to purchase tickets, email Sheri.Brandstetter@edison.k12.nj.us or Heather.Reusch@edison.k12.nj.us.

    To submit school news send an email to middlesex@starledger.com.


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    Warlaw+Hartridge hosts its inaugural Shakespeare Recitation Competition.

    mx0311schooledisonwardlaw.jpg 

    EDISON -- Wardlaw+Hartridge School student CJ Stueck of Scotch Plains with his English teacher, Rich Fulco, after winning the Edison school's Shakespeare Recitation Competition. Stueck was among six Upper School students who memorized a Shakespearean soliloquy and performed it for judges, who scored them on their understanding, expression and communication of their chosen piece.

    To submit school news send an email to middlesex@starledger.com.


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    With snow in the forecast again for Monday, thousands of New Jerseyans still don't have power.


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    An arrest has been made in yesterday's fatal hit-and-run on Route 1&9 in Kearny that claimed the life of a man who was released from the nearby Hudson County jail earlier that morning.

    JERSEY CITY -- An arrest has been made in yesterday's fatal hit-and-run on Route 1&9 in Kearny that claimed the life of a man who was released from the nearby Hudson County jail earlier that morning.

    Niraj Patel, 21, of Edison, has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death in connection to the collision that killed Naphtali Dykes, 30, of East Orange, as he walked near Central Avenue, Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez said in a press release this afternoon.

    Responding Kearny police officers found Dykes dead in the middle of the highway at 1:55 a.m. and he was pronounced dead at the scene at about 2:20 a.m., Prosecutor's Office spokesman Ray Worrall said.

    Detectives of the Hudson County Regional Fatal Collision Unit identified a man who remained at the scene after inadvertently running Dykes over. He faces no charges at this time, Worrall said.

    But after inspecting the crash scene, detectives discovered that another vehicle was apparently involved. After further investigation, the other suspected vehicle was located along with the alleged driver - Patel, Worrall said.

    The preliminary investigation revealed that Dykes had been released from the Hudson County jail Hackensack Avenue in Kearny earlier that morning, Worrall said.

    Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez credited the Kearny Police Department for assisting in the investigation and the Edison Police Department for assisting in making the arrest, Worrall said.

    The collision remains under investigation and anyone with information is asked to call crash investigators at (201) 915 - 1345 or leave an anonymous tip on the Prosecutor's Office website at: http://www.hudsoncountyprosecutorsofficenj.org/homicide-tip/ .

    All information will be kept confidential, Worrall said.


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    The National Weather Service says there remains uncertainty about any resulting snowfall.


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    Dogs and cats throughout New Jersey await adoption.

    Apparently, Punxsutawney Phil nailed it this year.

    Until it starts warming up, BluePearl Veterinary Partners has some tips for protecting pets during freezing weather.

    --The most common-sense tip is - don't leave a pet in the cold for too long. Bring pets inside if you start to see redness in their tails or ears or they start to shiver. Once inside, help them clear any ice between their toes.

    --Find a de-icer that is pet-friendly if you use one on your driveway and sidewalks. Various toxins and even salt can cause problems for pets, as they have a tendency to lick the substances off their paws.

    --Winter can make it hard for pets to find their way back home because ice and snow mask familiar scents and paths. Make sure dogs and cats that are allowed to roam have identification tags and, if possible, are microchipped.

    --Dogs can't say "My arthritis is acting up in this cold." If a pet struggles when getting up and moving around the house, a trip to the vet might be in order. Also, make sure there is soft and warm bedding available in cold weather.

    --A sweater or coat for short-haired dogs is a wise investment. Rather than being decorative, items like these are highly functional in cold weather.

     Until the temperatures rise to springtime levels, it's a good idea to make sure your pets are as comfortable in cold weather as they can be.


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    Take a walk down memory lane and check out every Tournament of Champions winner.


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    The student-led activism in the wake of the Florida high school massacre is inspiring students across the Garden State to in their schools and outside of it to demand the change they want to see.


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    In Sayreville, students have been told they'll receive two-day, out of school suspensions if they walk out of their classes.

    The ACLU of New Jersey is denouncing at least one school district's response to students who are planning on walking out of class on Wednesday to protest gun violence.

    "This is by far the most punitive that we've heard of in the state," Tess Borden, staff attorney with ACLU-NJ, said.

    In Sayreville, students have been told they'll receive two-day, out of school suspensions if they walk out of their classes, the ACLU said. They were reminded again of the consequences during school announcements on Monday, said Nancy Diaz, 49, who has a sixth grader in the district.

    Her son was planning on walking out with other students on Wednesday, but has decided not to because the district wasn't on board, Diaz said.

    "The school district blew it," Diaz said. "This was a learning conversation they could've had with the students and they choose not to. And I just don't understand why."

    District officials did not immediately return multiple requests for comment.

    Students: know your rights to walkout

    Students in the Garden State have joined youth across the nation and are planning to walk out of their schools on March 14 at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes -- 60 seconds apiece to honor each of the 17 victims of the February mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

    The students have worked to organize their walkouts to varying responses from their school districts.

    Legal experts have said districts can punish students for breaking the school handbook, but not anymore harshly for participating in the walkout than they would if the student skipped class for any other reason.

    ACLU-NJ called Sayreville's decision a "heavy-handed approach."

    "We want students to know, obviously as with all political protests, there are risks involved with standing up, but we have their backs," Borden said.

    Sara Jerde may be reached at sjerde@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @SaraJerde.

    Have information about this story or something else we should be covering? Tell us: nj.com/tips

     

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    Another nor'easter storm is expected to dump up to 4 inches of snow in New Jersey

    For the third time this month, a nor'easter storm is bringing snow and gusty winds to New Jersey, forcing schools to call for closures and delayed openings. 

    The following Middlesex County schools are closed or have delayed openings for Tuesday, March 13. The list will be updated through Tuesday morning as announcements are made:

    CLOSED:

    • No announcements yet

    DELAYED OPENING:

    • South Brunswick - 90 minutes

    If you know of any delays or closures not on this list, let us know in the comments.

     

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    The student was charged with creating a false public alarm, terroristic threats, criminal mischief, and hindering apprehension

    A 13-year-old student was arrested after scrawling threatening graffiti on the bathroom wall of a middle school in Piscataway, authorities said Monday.

    The Theodore Schor Middle School student was charged with creating a false public alarm, threats, criminal mischief and hindering apprehension on March 2, Piscataway police said.

    The threat didn't mention anything specific.

    2 students charged in shooting threat at South Jersey school

    "Any direct or indirect threat made, especially within the school community will be vigorously and thoroughly investigated by the police department as to the credibility and potential source," chief Scott Cartmell said in a statement. "We will not hesitate to act."

    The student was released to a parent after being charged.

    Police will continue to patrol schools in the coming days, officials said.

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

     

     

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    The bust led to the arrests of 29 individuals, the seizure of 90,000 doses of heroin, 191 pounds of cocaine, 20 guns, 27 vehicles and $850,000 in cash, authorities say. Watch video

    One of three fugitives named in a massive drug bust in Ocean County that led to 29 arrests in seven different counties surrendered Monday.

    Lewis.jpgAkera Lewis, 27, of Newark.

    Akera Lewis, 27, of Newark, was arrested after she turned herself in and was charged with heroin possession and distribution.

    Her attorney, Adrienne Edward, was not immediately available to comment.

    Lewis is one of 28 others arrested in "Operation Heading Back," which led to the seizure of 90,000 doses of heroin, 191 pounds of cocaine, 20 guns, 27 vehicles and $850,000 in cash, Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato announced at a press conference on Friday.

    The massive bust received its name because it started with a drug transaction on a street in Lakewood and continued to work its way up north. The investigation encompassed seven New Jersey counties and New York.

    Coronato said it was the biggest bust in the history of the Ocean County's Special Operations Group, which formed in 1988. Capt. Jack Sramaty currently heads the team.

    There were no so-called "kingpins" of the drug ring, Coronato said. He said the "sophisticated" drug network utilized multiple lines of suppliers.

    Authorities also dismantled nine drug-making facilities in Bloomfield, Jackson, Parlin, Paterson, Plainfield and Piscataway (4).

    In one of the raids, authorities arrested Rasheed Sanders of East Orange after they found 8 kilos of cocaine and a loaded AK-47.

    At a detention hearing for Sanders, Judge Wendel Daniels in Ocean County Superior Court initially ruled for him to be released from jail with high-level monitoring.

    Prosecutors filed a motion to appeal the ruling, and also filed additional charges in the case -- certain persons not to have a weapon and unlawful possession of an assault rifled. Daniels ordered Sanders to remain jailed pending the outcome of his case at a second detention hearing on Tuesday. 

    Alex Napoliello may be reached at anapoliello@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    New Jersey's wealthiest counties are among the healthiest too, according to an annual survey by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


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    Looking for a place to go for a drink in New Jersey always allowed for lots of choices.

    If you're looking for a place to go for a drink in New Jersey ... where will you have the most choices?

    I guess it all depends on how you measure it.

    Per square mile? If that's your criteria, jerseypride.com says that Hoboken's your place, and the Huffington Post confirms it: "The quaint little town once held the Guinness Book of World Record for having the most bars per square mile." That was around 2011, though; it seems to have since been beaten out by Oswego, N.Y.

    By population? A ranking on roadsnacks.net says that Wildwood has the most bars per capita in New Jersey followed by Atlantic City and Asbury Park.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    New Jersey doesn't even scare the top of the list when it comes to bars per capita as a state; eater.com's stats show us ranked 29th, with North Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin and South Dakota leading the way.

    As you scroll through the photos in this and past galleries I've posted on New Jersey bars and taverns, some other questions might arise, such as which bar had the most barstools crammed into the smallest amount of floor space? That might just have been Littman's Tavern in Newark. Were there and are there places that didn't have bars? The most recent tally by, ironically, funnewjersey.com shows that 32 of the state's 565 municipalities are still alcohol-free, the 21st Amendment notwithstanding.

    Here's a gallery of places to go to hoist a glass from days gone by in New Jersey. Didn't see a personal favorite? Click on the links to the following galleries - there's a good chance you'll find it there.

    Vintage photos of taverns and bars in N.J.

    Vintage photos of bars and watering holes in N.J.

    More vintage photos of bars and taverns 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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    Lonnie Hooper and Shamir Tyson settled the discrimination suit on Feb. 23 for $550,000 as the case was set to go to trial

    Two black sheriff's officers who say their superiors and colleagues used racial slurs toward them - including one officer who called them "dumb Negroes" - have settled their lawsuit.

    The Middlesex County officers, Lonnie Hooper and Shamir Tyson, agreed to end the discrimination suit for $550,000 on Feb. 23 as the case was set to go to trial, according to records and documents provided by Middlesex County officials.

    As part of the deal, the county is also on the hook for roughly $250,000 in legal fees for the officers' attorney after three years of litigation, according to the Office of the Middlesex County Counsel.

    Neither side admitted any wrongdoing, according to the settlement.

    Although few details from the suit were immediately available, the original complaint obtained by NJ Advance Media provides a handful of examples of the discriminatory language allegedly said to or in front of the officers:

    • One officer, on several occasions, sang the Batman theme song with the words "black man"
    • A superior often greeted the officers saying, "What's up my [n-word]?"
    • And another officer said numerous times, "You black people," "You Negroes, you're lucky to have a job," and "dumb Negroes."

    The suit alleged a hostile work environment and said the list in the complaint "is not meant to be all inclusive but merely is stated as examples." 

    Mark Mulick, the attorney for Hooper and Tyson, declined to comment when reached Tuesday.

    The defense attorney, Jennifer Passannante, did not return calls for comment.

    The settlement payout to the two officers was covered by the Middlesex County Insurance Fund and the county's excess insurance carrier, according to the counsel's office. The county will pay the attorney fees.

    A judge previously approved a protective seal for the lawsuit, prohibiting the release of certain confidential information.

    However, on Wednesday, a supervisor in Somerset County Superior Court's civil division told NJ Advance Media the entire case was sealed and could not release the documents without permission of the attorneys.

    Both sides have since approved the release of documents not deemed confidential, according to the supervisor, but as of publication, NJ Advance Media has not reviewed the public files. 

    Hooper joined the department in 2007, state pension records show. It was unclear when Tyson joined the department. He was not listed as an active employee, according to a records request for payroll data last May.

    In another discrimination suit that was also brought against the sheriff's office in 2015, Joseph Iko, a retired officer, was awarded $885,000 by jury in October last year.

    That entire case was under a protective seal and could not be reviewed by NJ Advance Media. Iko's attorney did not approve the release of any documents, according to the civil supervisor.

    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. 

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