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    A look back at the top 50 performances from the first round of the girls lacrosse state tournament.


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    The driver who crashed his car in Piscataway resulting in the death of his passenger was charged Wednesday with vehicular homicide and driving while drunk, authorities said.

    A Woodbridge man was charged Wednesday with vehicular homicide and drunk driving after a fiery crash killed his passenger in Piscataway, authorities said.

    Tayib Mahmood, 29, was driving a Toyota Camry during the early morning hours of May 6 when he hit a concrete barrier on Stelton Road near Jessie Way and his car caught fire, according to a release from the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.

    Mahmood was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick with serious injuries and underwent surgery. His passenger, Tahir Jamile, 27, of Woodbridge, was pronounced dead at the scene. 

    Mahmood was also charged with reckless and careless driving, and failure to maintain lane, authorities said.

    He is scheduled to appear in Middlesex County Superior Court on June 12.

    The prosecutor's office said the crash is still under investigation and that anyone with information related to it can call Piscataway Police Sgt. Constance Crea at (732) 562-2340 or Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office Det. Erik Larsen at (732) 745-3263.

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

     

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    The swarming ticks were found on Rutgers's Cook Campus farm, adding Middlesex County to the list of affected N.J. counties.

    An invasive tick from East Asia that can swarm livestock in the thousands has now spread to a third New Jersey county.

    The New Jersey Department of Agriculture announced on Wednesday that the East Asian tick (also called the Longhorn tick) has been found in Middlesex County.

    The ticks were discovered on May 10 at Rutgers's Cook Campus farm during a statewide "Tick Blitz" organized by the Rutgers Center for Vector Biology, according to the NJDA. The ticks were found in a patch of tall grass along College Farm Road.

    The National Veterinary Services Laboratory confirmed the species of the ticks on May 11.

    The ticks were first discovered last fall on a farm in Hunterdon county, where the ticks had swarmed a sheep. The sheep later died of natural causes.

    Scientists had hoped that the ticks would not be able to survive New Jersey's winter, but the ticks managed to find a way. The ticks were confirmed to have overwintered in late April, proving their ability to survive year round in the Garden State.

    East Asian tick is now confirmed in second N.J. county

    In April, the state confirmed that ticks had been confirmed in Union County after being discovered at the Watching Reservation.

    So far, the East Asian ticks in New Jersey have yet to show any harm to humans. Robert Goodman, the executive dean of the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Health Sciences, stressed that people should be more concerned about native tick species.

    "From a public health standpoint, however, people should be more concerned about our native ticks and the diseases they may carry, such as Lyme disease," Goodman said.

    Multiple agencies, led by NJDA, are currently working to fight the tick's spread in the Garden State.

    "We will continue with our plan to do what we can to delineate the areas with the tick and eliminate it from known sites of infestation," said Dr. Manoel Tamassia, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture State Veterinarian, in the press release. "We emphasize that people continue to use tick prevention measures for themselves and their animals as all ticks become more active with warmer temperatures."

    If unusual ticks are detected in livestock animals or if there are any questions regarding livestock, please contact the State Veterinarian at (609) 671-6400.

    Unusual ticks detected in wildlife should be immediately reported to the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, Office of Fish and Wildlife Health and Forensics at (908) 637-4173 ext. 120.

    Michael Sol Warren may be reached at mwarren@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MSolDub.


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    "In ancient times, cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this." -- Terry Pratchett

    Over the years, New Jersey has been home to quite a few famous animals -- Elsie the Cow, MGM's Leo the Lion, Tarzan's original Cheetah the Chimp and Petey the Dog from the Our Gang series.

    un0129historyOn March 4, 1929, Rin Tin Tin and his owner, Leo Duncan, had this photo taken with Elizabeth Mayor John Kenah and local children Charles Coriel and Jane Seymour. 

    But the most famous animals in New Jersey were and are those that become a part of our lives.

    They're pets, ranging from dogs, cats, rabbits and horses to more exotic species like snakes, toucans and insects. And they're animals that were and are part of the Garden State's agricultural history - draft horses, sheep, cattle, chickens and even bees.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    I've heard a lot of quotes, statements and opinions about animals over the years, but the one that sums them up best, at least for me, came from scientist Irene Pepperberg, who has performed extensive studies on animal cognition: "Clearly, animals know more than we think, and think a great deal more than we know."

    Here's a vintage photo gallery of pets and animals from New Jersey, as well as links to other galleries you may enjoy.

    Vintage photos of pets and their people in N.J.

    Vintage photos of horses and horse racing in N.J.

    Vintage photos of why N.J. is the Garden State

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


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    Lt. Lisa Robinson, the police department's spokeswoman, filed the discrimination lawsuit Monday in Superior Court

    A police officer in Middlesex County is suing Monroe and its police department after being passed over for a promotion she says was handed to a close pal of the town's top cop. 

    Lt. Lisa Robinson, the police department's spokeswoman, filed the discrimination lawsuit Monday in Superior Court. She says the treatment she'd received while vying for the open position of captain was nothing new. 

    In her 20 years on the force, Robinson claims in the suit, the 60-person department has long been run by a "male-dominated inner circle of superior officers," who harassed her based on her sex and race. 

    When she became a cop, officers refused to work with because she was a woman; she was told people "felt intimidated" by her; she was referred to as the "token black of the department" and asked if she felt "oppressed," and she'd been assign posts that stymied her career, the suit details.

    An attorney for the township, Louis Rainone, said Wednesday the municipality had not been served with the lawsuit, but would not comment on pending litigation. 

    Robinson says in the suit that she and two others were never seriously considered for the captain's position that opened up last June when Capt. Christian Hays announced his retirement. 

    Then-Lt. Michael Biennas was appointed acting captain with the expectation he'd take over officially in November, according to the suit. 

    Biennas joined the force in 1988 and is the longest-tenured cop in the town, with 10 more months on the job than Police Chief Michael Lloyd, pension records show. 

    The lawsuit, however, claims Biennas' and Lloyd's close friendship led to the promotion. The two attended college together and Biennas is the godfather to the chief's son, the suit says. 

    Robinson took over Biennas' previous responsibilities as patrol division commander and continued to serve as the department's public information officer, a position she's held since 2014. The public information job is known in the department as a "dead end" for career advancement, according to the suit. 

    Robinson and another female officer, Leigh Ann Solomons, filed paperwork in August that they'd plan to sue after Biennas took the rank of acting captain. As a result, the township changed its promotion process, creating a review panel that would interview and test the candidates to make a recommendation to the mayor. 

    The chief was not involved in the review, the suit says. Monroe is not a civil-service municipality. 

    Biennas was promoted to captain on March 28. 

    Robinson says the panel was still "entirely subjective" and provided no scores or opportunity to appeal the rankings. She argues in the suit her leadership trainings, advanced degree -- Robinson earned a masters in Law and Public Safety Administration from Fairleigh Dickinson in 2014 -- and military record made her a better candidate than Biennas, who did not graduate college, according to the suit. 

    Robinson did not return emails for comment. 

    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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    Some of the sites listed by Preservation New Jersey are in imminent danger of being lost.


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    Nicoara's work is inspired by Chinese and Japanese ceramics

    mx0520nicoara.jpg"Sunset in Manhattan" by Adrian Nicoara 

    PLAINSBORO -- Hand-painted and fired ceramic tile art by Adrian Nicoara will be on display in the Plainsboro Library Gallery beginning May 26.

    Nicoara was born and raised in Transylvania, a historical region in today's central Romania, and currently resides in Monroe Township. His work is inspired by Chinese and Japanese ceramics, and heavily influenced by Van Gogh and Caravaggio.

    Nicoara's works will be on display through June 20 at the library located at 9 Van Doren St. There will be an artist's reception from 2 to 4 p.m. on June 3.

    For more information, call 609-275-2897.

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


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    From MLB All-Stars to rookie-ball newbies, N.J. alums are all over pro ball


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    Superior Court Judge Colleen Flynn sentenced Vishal Shah Thursday to 25 years in prison

    A 22-year-old from Sayreville who fatally shot his father in their home two years ago will not have a chance to get out of prison until the year 2040. 

    Superior Court Judge Colleen Flynn sentenced Vishal Shah Thursday to 25 years in prison, with a chance for parole after 85 percent of his stint has been served, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey said in a release. 

    Shah, who pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of aggravated manslaughter as part of deal in March, shot his father, Pradipkum Shah, 53, with a .25-caliber handgun on June 10, 2016, at their house on Lakeview Drive in the Parlin section of Sayreville, the release said. 

    Vishal Shah had called 911 and calmly told the dispatcher his younger brother had found their father unresponsive with "blood around."

    The dad died from the gunshot a day later at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.

    Shah was charged two days later after authorities found the gun he used.

    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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  • 05/18/18--05:06: Kittens need homes
  • All kittens in the rescue's care are tested for FIV and FeLV, vaccinated and spayed/neutered.

    mx0520pet.jpgErnie and Teddy 

    NEW BRUNSWICK -- Ernie and Teddy are male kittens in the care of Scarlet Paws Rescue.

    The felines, who have been described by volunteers as "typically playful and loving kittens," were rescued in the New Brunswick area.

    All kittens in the rescue's care are tested for FIV and FeLV, vaccinated and spayed/neutered prior to adoption.

    For more information on Ernie, Teddy and other cats and kittens available for adoption, call Scarlet Paws at 609-575-5428 or email mcancio@comcast.net. Scarlet Paws is a nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing strays and the humane treatment of domestic animals.

    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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    EDISON -- Charles End took this photo of his pet rabbit in Edison in 1909. MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey It wasn't until 1982 that he found the negative for the photo in his garage. 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...

    EDISON -- Charles End took this photo of his pet rabbit in Edison in 1909.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    It wasn't until 1982 that he found the negative for the photo in his garage.

    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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    Who moves on to the next round of the 2018 state tournament.


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    Dunellen school board head Phillip Heiney avoids prison after plea deal.

    The former president of the Dunellen Board of Education was sentenced Friday to four years probation on charges he possessed child pornography.

    Phillip C. Heiney, 69, pleaded guilty in February to third-degree possession of child pornography after authorities accused him of using a peer-to-peer file-sharing network to download and distribute images and videos of child pornography.

    Phillip-Heiney.jpgPhillip Heiney, 69.  

    He was arrested on August 2016 by officials from the state Division of Criminal Justice and federal ICE Homeland Security Investigations division.

    Prosecutors recommended he serve a six-month sentence in jail under a plea agreement, but Superior Court Judge Benjamin S. Bucca imposed a sentence of probation subject to conditions including therapy, no unsupervised contact with children and submission to monitoring of his electronic devices by probation officers.

    "Anyone who contributes to the brutal sexual exploitation of children by collecting child pornography has no business overseeing the education of young students," said Attorney General Grewal in a statement announcing the sentence. "Thankfully, through our proactive investigative efforts, he was caught and brought to justice."

    Authorities say State Police detectives who investigate child abuse online became aware of Heiney while monitoring file-sharing services for illicit images. An investigator allegedly downloaded two videos depicting the rape of young girls from a shared folder tied to Heiney's IP address, authorities said.

    The state Division of Criminal Justice later received additional evidence from the Washoe County Sheriff's Office in Nevada, where investigators allegedly downloaded another video file from Heiney's shared folder, authorities said.

    The video showed "an adult male engaging in a sexual act with a prepubescent girl who was blindfolded and bound with rope" as well as "sexually explicit conduct involving a dog and the bound girl," according to the Attorney General's Office.

    "Like so many of these offenders, Heiney was living a double life, hiding his deviant criminal conduct behind a respectable front," Veronica Allende, the director of the Division of Criminal Justice, said in the statement. "These offenders come from all walks of life and often are exposed only when they are caught in the dragnet of our online investigations."

    S.P. Sullivan may be reached at ssullivan@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Michael P. Knight must also register as a sex offender and will be on parole supervision for the rest of his life.

    A man who admitted to beating and attempting to rape a Rutgers University student was sentenced to 22 years in prison on Friday.

    Michael P. Knight, 40, of Newark, pleaded guilty to kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault in December 2017. 

    michael-knight-d7f2aaca37bab2d9.jpgMichael P. Knight. 

    On May 4, 2016, around 3:30 a.m., Knight followed a female student and attacked her on the New Brunswick campus, near College Avenue and Seminary Place, the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office said.

    He hit the woman in the head, and dragged her to the side of a building before sexually assaulting her. A group intervened and Knight fled, saying he had a gun and would shoot a man in the group who tried to chase him.

    Knight turned himself in after a photo of him was released to the public.

    Under the No Early Release Act, Knight will have to serve 85-percent of his term before he can be released on parole. Superior Court Judge Joseph Paone, who sentenced Knight, also ordered that Knight register as a sex offender and be subjected to parole supervision for life.

    Joe Brandt can be reached at jbrandt@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JBrandt_NJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips 

     

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    Just how segregated are New Jersey's schools? Irvington's study body is 0.3 percent white.

    A lawsuit filed last week calls for the desegregation of New Jersey schools, a potentially game-changing legal challenge for minority students across the state. 

    But how segregated are the state's schools?

    Just 0.3 percent of the more than 6,700 students in Irvington Public Schools are white, making it the most non-white school district in the state, according to data from the nonprofit Center on Diversity and Equality in Education

    And that's far from the only example of students of color being isolated. 

    About 66 percent of New Jersey's African American students and 62 percent of its Latino students attend schools that are more than 75 percent non-white, according to the lawsuit.

    While the segregation is not mandatory -- it stems from affordable housing issues and the high correlation between race and socioeconomic status -- the lawsuit argues de facto segregation is unconstitutional in New Jersey based on prior state Supreme Court rulings. 

    The suit asks for the state to come up with desegregation plans for districts like Irvington and others. The goal isn't to move white students into existing urban districts but to create new integrated schools or districts and help more minority students move into suburban districts. 

    To see the 25 schools districts with the fewest white students, check out the graphic below. These are just a few of the examples of segregated schools and do not include charter schools, vocational-technical schools or other non-traditional districts. 

    Carla Astudillo may be reached at castudillo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @carla_astudi. Find her on Facebook.

    Adam Clark may be reached at adam_clark@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on twitter at @realAdamClarkFind NJ.com on Facebook

     

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    There were big changes in our first edition of the NJ.com Top 20 team rankings for championship season.


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    Dogs and cats throughout New Jersey await adoption.

    If you're interested in helping homeless animals but aren't able to adopt one, there are a number of other ways you can be of assistance.

    Realistically, not everyone can adopt. People who live in apartments or developments that have no-pets policies fall into that category, as do people with allergies or disabilities that will not allow them to care for pets of their own. Adoptapet.com offers these suggestions for ways people who want to help can participate in caring for homeless animals.

    * Help out at a local shelter. It's not glamorous work by any means, but it's vital and will be very much appreciated. You can do anything from help walk dogs to bottle feed kittens, help clean kennels or cat's cages or even help with bathing and grooming. Contact your local shelter to find out their policies regarding volunteers.

    * If you're handy, you can lend a hand in many ways. Shelters usually need repairs of many kinds, so fixer-uppers can help out like that. If you sew, quilt or crochet, you can make blankets for your local shelter.

    * Help out at an adoption event. Many shelters and rescue groups participate in local events by hosting a table with pets available for adoption. They also hold these program at malls, pet supply stores and banks, and can always use a helping hand.

    * For galleries like this one and for online adoptions sites, often a shelter or rescue group doesn't have the time or equipment to shoot good photos of their adoptable pets. Something as simple as making yourself available to shoot and provide digital files of pet photos can be a big help.

    * Donate. It doesn't have to be money; shelters need cleaning supplies, pet food, toys for the animals and often even things we don't think twice about getting rid of like old towels and newspapers. Every little bit helps.

    If you don't know where your local animal shelter or rescue group is, a quick online search will reveal a number of results. It doesn't take a lot of time or effort to get involved but it provides immeasurable assistance.

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


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    The annual 'Click It or Ticket' campaign handed out nearly 18,000 tickets to drivers in New Jersey last year, and 173 departments are participating in 2018


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    After a gun-related social media controversy in Lacey Township, gun rights advocates staged a free training and gun safety day at an indoor shooting range in Monroe. Watch video

    Sebastian Mongeau fulfilled a lifelong ambition on Sunday.

    "I always wanted to shoot a gun since I was a kid," said Sebastion, who at 14 years old arguably still is one.

    But now the brawny Lacey High School freshman is a kid who's fired not only a 9mm Glock pistol, but also a fearsome Stag Arms AR-10 semi-automatic rifle, thanks to an event titled, "Common Sense Gun Safety Training for Students," on Sunday, organized in response to an incident in March that angered Second Amendment activists and parents in the generally gun-friendly Ocean County community.

    So how was his first pull of a real, live trigger?

    "It was really cool," said Sebastian, who now more than ever wants his own Desert Eagle semi-automatic handgun.

    "I thought it would have more kick," added Sebastian, who got a ride to the event at a Middlesex County gun range from his half-brother, John Barrow, 24, also of Lacey. 

    The event was held at the Union Hill Gun Club in Monroe, organized by the president of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, Alexander Roubian, in response to the disciplining of two Lacey High School students after one of them had posted a photo on Facebook taken at a gun range they were visiting with adults during non-school hours.

    No threat of violence accompanied the photo and no criminal activity was ever alleged by authorities. And Roubian was one of 200 or so people who packed a  school board meeting where district officials were repeatedly accused of meddling in a perfectly legal family activity, off campus and after school hours. One father was cheered after telling school officials, "It's none of your damn business what our children do outside of school."

    Participants in Sunday's free event were given a safety briefing by the gun club's chief instructor and safety officer, Rocco La Rocca II, a National Rifle Association-certified firearms instructor and counselor. La Rocca also runs a self-defense training firm known as ROC -- "Recognize, Organize, Counteract" -- based at Union Hill Gun Club, a two-story indoor shooting range owned by Paul and Beth Picone that also includes the Legend Firearms gun shop, tucked away on a wooded stretch on Union Hill Road.

    The Lacey school district was not officially involved in the event.

    During Sunday's briefing, participants were given a list of safety precautions, including these three "NRA Gun Safety Rules": 

    • Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction
    • Keep your finger off the shoot trigger until ready to shoot
    • keep the gun unloaded until ready to use

    To those, La Rocca added two more points:

    • Always assume a firearm is loaded and act accordingly.
    • When forced to use a gun, be mindful not only of what or who your target is, but also of what, or who, is behind it.

    Sunday's event was two days after the nation's latest mass school shooting, when eight students and two teachers were killed on Friday in Santa Fe, Texas, where authorities say a 17-year-old student used a shotgun and a handgun legally owned by his father and kept in the attic of their house. 

    Asked how gun safety education might minimize the chances of harm in mass shootings like Friday's, La Rocca did not hesitate to hold parents accountable.

    "Very simple, the parents themselves should know that firearms themselves are mechanical devices that can injure somebody or themselves," La Rocca said in n interview after the briefing. "Why don't you lock them up? Why don't you do that? Why don't you buy a safe? I've had some (adult) students come in my class and say, 'Oh, no, it's fine, it's in the drawer.' No it's not. No it's not. Get a safe." 

    A Rutgers survey of gun-safety studies recently published in Health Promotion Practice found that safety training is unlikely to prevent harmful or fatal mishaps when guns are accessible to young children. The survey found that:

    • Children ages 4-9 who participate in gun safety programs often ignore what they learned when encountering a real firearm without adult supervision
    • Boys are more likely to ignore safety rules than girls
    • Few studies have been done on gun safety programs for children beyond 4th grade.
    Gun safety classNicholas Locha received free gun training from Michael Palma, a NRA certified pistol instructor at the Union Hill Gun Club. 

    Ira Levin, who runs Legends Firearms and acts as Union Hill's general manager, said there had been 67 registrations for Sunday's training day, most involving more than one person. However, the crowd was considerably smaller than that, and Levin said Friday's massacre in Texas might have cast a pall over the New Jersey event. 

    "The turnout we had was kind of light, and whether that's predicated on what happened, I don't know," he said. 

    Several parents, including Charlotte Hoelterling, said the shooting was all the more reason to attend Sunday's event, where her 12-year-old daughter, Alexa, shot a 9mm pistol and a rifle.

    "It was really fun," said Alexa, a 7th grader at Lacey Middle School. "I was kinda nervous, but I'm not now. I did pretty good."

    Her mom said there were no guns in their house, but she took Alexa to Sunday's event to teach her respect for firearms, nonetheless. Hoelterling also said she believed guns were safe, as long as they were in law-abiding hands.  

    "I'm a firm believer that if you take away guns, only bad people are going to have them," Hoelterling said. Turning to Alexa, she added, "Right?"

    "Yeah," said her daughter.

    Steve Strunsky may be reached at sstrunsky@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveStrunsky. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Later, rain - the baseball tourney opens on a glorious Monday.

    Baseball: Delran at Northern Burlington on 5/4/2017Baseball: Delran at Northern Burlington on 5/4/2017 (Larry Murphy | For the Times of Trenton)  
    Baseball: Mercer County Semifinals: Hopewell Valley vs. Steinert on 5/15/2017Baseball: Mercer County Semifinals: Hopewell Valley vs. Steinert on 5/15/2017 (Larry Murphy | For the Times of Trenton)  

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