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    Trees designated 'champions' are scattered throughout the Garden State in yards and fields, even cemeteries.


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    The top 60 juniors pitchers from across the state


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    Pets throughout New Jersey await adoption from rescues and shelters.

    Here is this week's collection of some of the dogs and cats in need of adoption in New Jersey.

    We are now accepting dogs and cats to appear in the gallery from nonprofit shelters and rescues throughout New Jersey.

    If a group wishes to participate in this weekly gallery on nj.com, please contact Greg Hatala at ghatala@starledger.com or call 973-836-4922.

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


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    On Saturday, April 28, 2018 (4/28/18), former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand hosted his first annual flag football tournament to benefit Team LeGrand of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. The intense day of games ended with the championship being played in the pouring rain.


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    A look at this week's can't-miss games from across the state


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    Fallon's songbook continues to grow in size and quality. He needs a better group behind him.


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    The driver was located and arrested quickly after the accident.

    A 37-year-old driver from South Plainfield has been charged in a hit-and-run crash in Plainfield early Sunday that left a pedestrian dead, police said Monday.

    Lavar B. Jones faces a charge of leaving the scene of a fatal crash. Police identified the victim of the crash Monday as Sergio D. Cuxun-Tista, 39, of Plainfield.

    Cuxun-Tista, 39, was attempting to cross West Eighth Street when he was struck by a vehicle around 2:35 a.m., police said. The driver fled, but Jones was located and arrested by police shortly after the crash, police said.

    The accident remains under investigation. 

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

     

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    Highlighting big games around the state, from playoff races to crucial county tournament matchups.


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    The free app offers in English and Spanish the basics on providing a babies under age 1 the safest sleeping environment to prevent SIDS. Watch video

    In the 48 hours she spent in the hospital after giving birth to her son, Catherine Nielsen said no one ever gave her the "safe sleep" talk -- how placing her baby on his back, in an empty crib next to her bed will prevent him from suffocating.

    On the contrary, Nielsen said, only the lactation specialist at Overlook Medical Center in Summit mentioned bed-sharing, and she told her the latest research said it was safe to share a bed while breastfeeding.

    Nielsen, a registered nurse who during her pregnancy had researched the American Academy of Pediatrics safe-sleep recommendations, knew what she heard was wrong.

    "Just get me out of the hospital -- I want to leave," Nielsen of Scotch Plains told NJ Advance Media, recalling what happened from nearly nine months ago.

    Such an episode is a worst fear for the New Jersey SIDS Center, which is pushing hard for safe sleep guidelines that can save the lives of infants. 

    Program Director Barbara Ostfeld and Co-Medical Director Thomas Hegyi have traveled to hospitals and child welfare offices around the state for decades explaining how new parents should be taught.

    Now they've launched a new tool in that quest: a free smartphone app aimed at professionals to share with families before or soon after a baby is born.

    The goal is to deliver a consistent and clear message about how they can prevent a potential tragedy.

    The Last Goodnight -- A Special Investigation

    "If we can distribute this app to everyone, and if we can make this part of discharge education that the nurses' provide when a mother leaves the hospital with her baby, this could have a tremendous impact," said Hegyi, vice-chair and Pediatrics professor at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick.

    Every year, about 3,500 infants in the U.S. die while sleeping, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 1,000 of those cases involve bed-sharing, also known as co-sleeping. Black and hispanic infants more than twice as likely to die than white babies, according to the CDC.

    In New Jersey, an average of 30 babies under a year old die every year while sharing a bed with an adult or another child, according to an analysis by NJ Advance Media last year. In 2015, the most recent data available, 41 infants suffocated while sharing a bed --  the largest number bed-sharing deaths recorded in the state in a single year. 

    Bed-sharing deaths are accidents that continue to occur because in many cases, families don't have the money or stability to provide a safe sleeping environment. Some parents are simply so exhausted, they fall asleep while feeding or holding the baby.

    Still others eschew the medical recommendations, arguing they can safely share a bed, breastfeed more often -- which experts agree helps prevent SIDS -- and quickly respond to their babies needs.

    There are state laws and regulations that require birthing hospitals to promote breastfeeding and teach parents how to install a car seat. But there's nothing mandating conversations about safe sleep.

    HegyiOstfeld.jpg(l. to r.) Thomas Hegyi and Barbara M. Ostfeld, Co-Medical Director and Program Director of the NJ SIDS Center, respectively, discussing the safe sleep app they developed to help prevent infant fatalities. (Nick Romanenko | Rutgers University) Most hospitals say they teach safe sleep practices. 

    When asked about Nielsen's case after she gave birth nine months ago, James Furgeson, spokesman Atlantic Health System, which operates Overlook, said he could not directly address the question because of privacy laws. But in a statement, Furgeson said the hospital provides parents with newborn education, which includes information about SIDS.

    Overlook earned Joint Commission Perinatal Certification and a Baby-Friendly Designation "as a result of its commitment to quality and patient safety," he said.

    "We strongly promote safe sleeping and safe breastfeeding practices as outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics - this includes communicating that bed sharing is not recommended in any way for new moms and babies," Furgeson said.

    Ostfeld said the "SIDS Info" app will complement and reinforces the messages hospital and medical professionals should be delivering. It uses animation, narrated in English and Spanish by the voice of a mother and an adult who sounds like a precocious toddler. 

    "We wanted to make it something that a parent could share. There are so many people who have hands on a baby, such as grandparents," Ostfeld said.

    In 1994, a "Back to Sleep" campaign told parents to place their infants on their backs, instead of their stomachs. The campaign cut the number of infants who died from SIDS by more than half. 

    "We felt this was a critical tool to add to the existing ones to promote infant safe sleep. It could be universally accessible, updated electronically, and it could outlast any paper material distributed."

    The SIDS Center is getting high-profile attention for its work. On Friday, staff met with First Lady Tammy Murphy.

    "I applaud the SIDS Center of New Jersey for launching this groundbreaking initiative which will help to continue lowering New Jersey's infant mortality rate," Murphy said in a statement. 

    "While New Jersey continues to have one of the lowest rates of any state, the disparities between white and black infants is alarming," she added. "No family should ever have to suffer the loss of a child and we must continue to find new ways to assess the risks and factors, and prevent sudden infant deaths." 

    The New Jersey Hospital Association also praised the app, and pledged cooperation.

    "This is one of those issues where education is key -- for both healthcare providers and also parents," said Aline Holmes, the association's senior vice president for Clinical Affairs. "We've been working with the SIDS Center to reinforce the issue with the provider audience and tap their reach to better educate parents."

    Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, chairman of the Senate health committee, agreed the app is a positive first step. He'd like to go further than simply relying on hospitals to do the right thing every time and is considering legislation.

    "It's a patchwork," Vitale said, describing hospital teaching strategies. "I'm working with the hospitals which I know have been out there teaching safe-sleep practices to determine the best practices. You can't have it taught differently. Sharing a bed is absolutely dangerous."

    In 2017,  New Jersey became the first state to distribute "Baby Boxes" -- a bassinett-sized laminated cardboard box with a mattress and fitted sheet for any parent who watches a safe-sleep educational video.

    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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    Police said the woman was pinned between two cars in the parking lot.

    A 60-year-old woman was seriously injured when she was hit by a car and pinned between two vehicles Monday afternoon in a Costco parking in North Brunswick, according to police. 

    The crash took place at the Costco on Grand Avenue in North Brunswick, where the woman was struck and pinned between two vehicles, said Captain Brian Hoiberg, a spokesman for the North Brunswick Police Department. 

    "She is suffering from some pretty serious injuries," Hoiberg said. 

    She was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. The crash remained under investigation Monday afternoon, and there was no additional information regarding the driver involved or cause of the crash. 

    Amanda Hoover can be reached at ahoover@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandahoovernj. Find NJ.com on Facebook

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    Police are investigating a 5-car crash Monday night that left one person dead.

    UPDATE: A 60-year Plainsboro woman has been identified as the person who died in the crash.

    One person was killed on Monday following a multi-vehicle crash that shut down a South Brunswick intersection.

    South Brunswick Police Det. Dennis Yuhasz said the five-vehicle accident was reported at 6:50 p.m. at the intersection of Route 535 and Route 32.

    Yuhasz said he could not release the identity of the person who was killed or if they were a passenger or driver as police were still working to notify the person's next of kin. He also could not comment on whether or not there were other injuries.

    Police said the intersection will be closed for several hours while they continue to investigate the crash.

    Chris Sheldon may be reached at csheldon@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrisrsheldon Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    Where is the property tax pain most pronounced in your county and all the others? Here's the list.


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    The truck flipped over on a ramp from Route 18 south to the New Jersey Turnpike.

    Update: All Route 18 lanes in both directions were reopened, according to East Brunswick police. Both ramps to the New Jersey Turnpike remain closed as of 4:20 p.m.

    Route 18 and the New Jersey Turnpike interchange in East Brunswick have been closed to all traffic Tuesday after a tanker truck carrying hazardous material overturned on the on-ramp, officials said.

    The tractor-trailer overturned around 11:15 a.m. while attempting to navigate the ramp from Route 18 south to the Turnpike, according to East Brunswick police. 

    Exit 9 is expected to be closed for a couple more hours, the New Jersey Turnpike said in a tweet at around 12:30 p.m. As of 1 p.m., Route 18 is also still shut down between Route 1 in New Brunswick and Tices Lane in East Brunswick, the state Department of Transportation said. 

    The tanker was carrying, isopropylbenzene, a flammable colorless liquid made of crude oil and refined fuels, State Police said. A "small" spill has been contained and a Middlesex County Hazmat team is working to clean it up as crews attempt to upright the tanker and remove it.  

    The driver of the tanker was treated for minor injuries, according to State Police. No other vehicles were involved. 

    Major traffic delays were reported in both directions of Route 18 after the lanes were closed, according to 511nj.org, the state department of transportation's traffic website.

    State Police are leading the investigation, with assistance from East Brunswick police. 

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


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    A 60-year-old Plainsboro woman died Monday after her car was struck from behind at a busy South Brunswick intersection.

    A woman died Monday night after her car was struck from behind at a busy intersection in South Brunswick.

    Ming Xiong, 60, of Plainsboro, was stopped at a red light at the intersection of Route 32 west and Route 535 when a Mini Cooper driven by 41-year-old South River man hit her Toyota Corolla from behind, according to a release from the South Brunswick Police.

    Police responded to the crash at 6:49 p.m. The South River man is not facing any charges at this time, but the accident remains under investigation, police said.

    Police say three other cars were involved in the crash after Xiong's Toyota was struck. Police did not report any other injuries.

    The intersection was closed for about five hours following the accident.

    Police ask anyone with information to call South Brunswick Police Officer William Merkler at 732-329-4000, ext. 7432.

    Chris Sheldon may be reached at csheldon@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrisrsheldon Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    His partner in crime went to prison early last year

    A West Windsor man will spend nearly two years in a federal prison for using shell companies to hide over $1.5 million, a scheme which led to over $237,000 in lost taxes for the Internal Revenue Service.

    Albert Chang, 71, of Princeton Junction, who previously pleaded guilty to two counts of tax evasion, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Newark, the New Jersey U.S. Attorney's Office announced.

    His business partner, as well as partner in crime, Michael Q. Fu, of Cranbury, was sent to prison early last year for 37 months.

    For over 20 years, the duo owned United Products and Instruments Inc. (UNICO) in Dayton, South Brunswick, which the feds say primarily engaged in the sale and export of microscopes and centrifuges for medical purposes.

    Chang and Fu conspired to create two shell companies headquartered in China - Action Towers and Bench Top Laboratories.

    They funneled earnings to the companies and then deducted the funds from UNICO's corporate tax return, labeling it as the cost of goods sold or commission.

    They also had Shanghai Electric, a Hong Kong-based utility company, over bill UNICO by about five percent for legitimate invoices.

    Shanghai Electric then wired that money to bank accounts both men had in China, which they used for themselves, federal authorities have said.

    None of the money made its way to their federal income tax returns

    Chang failed to report $1,559,200, resulting in a tax loss of $237,064. Authorities said last year Fu failed to report $1,570,000, resulting in a tax loss of $321,141.

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

     

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    The 65-year-old man lost of control of his SUV on Oak Tree Road in Edison

    A 65-year-old man died after having an apparent heart attack Tuesday and hitting three other vehicles in Edison, authorities said. 

    David A. Rose, of Old Bridge, was headed west on Oak Tree Road around 11 a.m. when he lost control of his SUV and veered into the eastbound lanes, where he struck three cars, Edison police said in a statement. 

    Rose was taken to JFK Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead following the crash near Minebrook and Cinder roads. 

    Another driver complained of shoulder pain but was not hospitalized. 

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

     

     

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    Is the Garden State's prime location for warehousing a good thing? It depends on who you ask. Watch video

    Jim and Jane Humble's 2-acre corner property is surrounded by a white picket fence and offers views of a cornfield and farmstand across the street.

    The couple, married for 35 years, had hoped to retire in the quiet, rural community of Mansfield Township -- a 21-square mile town where hundreds of acres of farmland are bisected by some of the state's busiest thoroughfares including Route 206, I-295 and the New Jersey Turnpike.

    But that view of the farmstand could soon be interrupted by hundreds of tractor trailers whizzing through the two-lane intersection of Jacksonville-Hedding and Florence-Columbus roads, if a developer's plans to build a 1.8 million square foot warehouse around the corner come to fruition.

    Hundreds of acres of open space and a prime location just off the turnpike is what's attracting developers like VA Florence Co. to snatch up land throughout New Jersey on the prospect that if you build it, someone's going to need it.

    The three-building complex -- that would be nearly three times larger than a recently opened Amazon fulfillment warehouse in neighboring Florence -- would be tailor-made for a burgeoning e-commerce industry.

    warehouse.pngAt left, the entrance to the new Amazon warehouse on Cedar Lane in Florence. Right, a planned entrance off Hedding Jackson Rd (CR 628) to a proposed new warehouse. Local residents are opposed to the warehouse and potential truck traffic.  

    "Business is booming," said Jeff Lucas, a commercial realtor who leases space from areas near Exit 8 of the Turnpike to the Delaware Memorial Bridge at the southern tip of the state. "Everyone keeps asking if I have available land and I say we'll just go to the next exit of 295. I have space down to Exit 4 of 295 in Salem County."

    Commercial real estate is also booming around I-80 in Warren and Sussex counties and off I-78 and Route 31 in the Lehigh Valley. The I-287 corridor, a loop around New York City, is also humming, industry experts say.

    New Jersey's central location -- we're within a 24-hour drive of nearly 40 percent of the nation's population, according to Moody's Analytics -- and vibrant network of accessible roads, ports and airports, are keys to the boom that has lowered vacancy rates and availability in the Garden State to 4 percent, industry officials say.

    The demand, they say, is being driven by e-commerce.

    "Millennials are used to having everything convenient for them," said Matthew Dolly, industry watcher Transwestern's New Jersey research director. "They've grown up with a phone and internet. They've always had convenience. E-commerce and warehousings provides convenience."

    Locals in Mansfield Township say they are the ones feeling the negative side effects of that convenience.

    trucks1.jpgA sign on Hedding Jackson Rd (CR 628) protests potential truck traffic connected with a planned new warehouse in the area.  

    "The Margolis Warehouse Distribution Facility is on the brink of jeopardizing the quiet and bucolic life enjoyed by Mansfield residents and those in the surrounding communities," a statement from Northing Burlington Cares, a group opposed to the project said. "Do you live in this area to have huge warehouses in your backyard? ... A traffic jam on the way to the farm stand?"

    Attorney George Hulse was hired by residents who oppose the truck traffic on the two-lane road which passes more than a dozen homes on the way to Florence-Columbus Road. While he said the warehouse boom benefits the township, it should not come on the backs of some residents.

    Michael Turner, a spokesman for the VA Florence Co., the developer of the Mansfield project, said he wants to answer questions from the residents, many of whom packed a township meeting last month to voice their concerns about the traffic and environmental impacts.

    Turner said there will be about 300 trucks a day with half going out of the facility on Hedding-Jacksonville Road, a local, two-lane road. The other half will likely leave on the other side of the 191-acre site. 

    Residents are expected to show up at the next township planning board meeting on May 8.

    Bill Duhart may be reached at bduhart@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @bduhart. Find NJ.com on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    Make your voice heard! Who is the state's best sophomore player?


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    Tione Davis, 35, of East Orange, and Meschach Whager, 29, of Newark were arrested after the FBI began investigating about 20 armed robberies at convenience stores and gas stations during the time, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.

    Two Essex County men face federal charges for allegedly robbing six businesses in northern and central New Jersey over three-week period.

    Tione Davis, 35, of East Orange, and Meschach Whager, 29, of Newark were arrested after the FBI began investigating 20 armed robberies at convenience stores and gas stations, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.

    Both men have been in custody since December when they were arrested on similar robbery charges following a pursuit and crash in Morris County. Two guns recovered from the vehicle matched the description of the weapons used to commit the robberies, officials said.

    According to court records, Davis would wear dark clothing and cover his face during the robberies, brandish a handgun, and demand money from clerks. Whager acted as the getaway driver.

    The robberies, which took place in Middlesex, Morris, Bergen, Union, Hudson and Passaic counties, occurred between Nov. 23 and Dec. 11. At least $1,800 was taken during the incidents.

    Officials say all the robberies happened between 2 and 6 a.m. Phone numbers associated with both Davis and Whager were traced to the general area of where 13 of the robberies they were investigating took place.

    Following their arrests, the Bayonne Police Department charged the men in connection with a Dec. 8 robbery at an Avenue E deli.

    Officials have not released the towns or specific locations of where the robberies occurred that brought the federal charges, but the Hudson County incident appears to be related to the Dec. 11 armed robbery at the Bergen Avenue Quick Chek.

    Davis and Whager each face six counts of Hobbs Act robbery, conspiracy, and using a firearm to commit a crime. The men could face up to 20 years in prison for each robbery offense.

    U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito credited the FBI, the Morris, Union, Middlesex, Hudson, Passaic, Bergen, and Essex County prosecutor's offices, as well as the police departments in Morris Plains, Springfield, Middlesex, Lodi, Roselle Park, Rahway, Parsippany, Rockaway, Mahwah, Elmwood Park, Bayonne, West Orange, East Brunswick, South River, Edison, Hoboken, Union, Clark, Kearny, Clifton, and Maplewood with assisting in the investigation.

    Caitlin Mota may be reached at cmota@jjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @caitlin_mota. Find The Jersey Journal on Facebook.

     

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    From opening bell to dismissal, and everything in between.

    I had the opportunity last summer to visit the schools from my youth. It was bittersweet as both St. Francis of Assisi School and Sacred Heart High School have closed.

    It was at St. Francis that I realized something I hadn't before; elementary school -- especially for those of us who attended grades 1 through 8 in the same building - is a long stretch for a kid to spend in one place.

    DSC_7242 - Copy.JPGFormerly St. Francis of Assisi School, the building is now home to the Compass Academy Charter School. 

    The building that was once home to St. Francis of Assisi School looked almost the same last summer as it did when I attended decades ago. Except for air conditioners and a new sign for the current occupants, a public charter school, it appeared virtually unchanged.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    But it also occurred to me just how much a child's life changed along the length of the single hallway inside that building.

    We entered as babies, really, first graders who were spending most of the day away from home for the very first time. We progressed up that hallway, and eventually left at the other end of the building as teenagers, only a few years short of adulthood.

    Eight of the most important years of our lives, measured in numbered doors alternating even and odd along an unchanging hall.

    Funny - so many times back then, I couldn't wait to get out; that day this past summer, I almost couldn't bring myself to leave.

    Here's a vintage gallery of schools, students and activities in New Jersey. And here are links to other school galleries you'll enjoy.

    Vintage photos of education in N.J.

    Vintage photos of N.J. schools and schoolchildren

    Vintage photos of going back to school 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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