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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    Wild first three rounds dramatically changed the boys soccer Top 20.

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    Women have been an integral part of the nation's war effort since the American Revolution.

    Women have been an integral part of the nation's war effort since the American Revolution. Here, we will scratch the surface of the ways women have served since World War I:

    * World War I saw 20,000 women nationwide serve in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, with 10,000 stationed overseas, often close to the frontlines.

    * In World War II, aside from nursing units, there was the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), which gained full military status as the Women's Army Corps (WAC) in 1943. There was the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES), the women's branch of the United States Naval Reserve, the Marine Corps Women's Reserve (USMCWR), United States Coast Guard Women's Reserve and the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs).

    While men went off to fight the war, these organization provided vital support services. And, the women were not necessarily safe; WASPs, for example, flew aircraft around the country for training and shipment overseas. "Women who stepped up were measured as citizens of the nation, not as women," said Oveta Culp Hobby, the first director of the Women's Army Corps. "This was a people's war, and everyone was in it."

    * While 350,000 women served in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II, women also took on vital manufacturing jobs in a workforce depleted by the draft and volunteers. Between 1940 and 1945, the female percentage of the U.S. workforce increased from 27 percent to nearly 37 percent.

    * Women were also recruited into the Women's Land Army at home, taking on countless agricultural jobs vacated by men fighting overseas.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    * Women continued to serve through Korea and Vietnam, and the Gulf War included an unprecedented proportion of women from the active forces (7 percent) as well as the Reserve and National Guard (17 percent). According to American Women in Uniform, it was the largest female deployment in U.S. history.

    * In 2013, the United States removed the military's prior ban on women serving in combat.

    * Currently, women make up 14 percent of the military's 1.4 million active members and more than 280,000 of them have done tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan or on overseas bases.

    We salute the women from New Jersey who assisted in American war efforts. Here's a gallery of just a small sampling of them.

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

    0 0's six high school football reporters make their picks in each of the 23 brackets.

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    Which players will have the biggest impact on each of Thursday's 20 sectional finals.

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    A judge ruled evidence from the bodies of a South Brunswick man's parents can be used during his murder trial early next year.

    NEW BRUNSWICK -- A Superior Court judge on Wednesday ruled that evidence from the bodies of a South Brunswick man's parents can be used in his murder retrial early next year. 

    Michael Maltese, 29, whose murder conviction for strangling his parents in 2008 was overturned by the state Supreme Court, will be tried again in January.

    Because Maltese's inadmissible confession led authorities to his parent bodies, the dispute about whether the remains could be used during his Jan. 16 retrial centered around one hypothetical question: Would police have found the bodies without his confession? 

    "I think the answer is clearly yes," Judge Joseph Rea in Middlesex County said Wednesday. "Given the facts and the circumstances in this case, I have no doubt that these bodies would have been located even if the defendant never gave any statements to the police."

    Had the judge ruled the other way, prosecutors would have had to build a murder case against Maltese without acknowledging that the bodies of his parents -- crucial evidence in the state's case -- were discovered. 

    Maltese is accused of strangling his parents Oct. 8, 2008, during a violent argument with his father. He and his girlfriend then buried their bodies in a local park and went on a shopping spree with his parents' credit cards, prosecutors said.

    Before an interview with investigators, Maltese asked that a camera be turned off as he spoke with his uncle. Officers agreed, but secretly recorded the conversation, in which he confessed.

    In November 2010, Maltese was convicted of passion provocation manslaughter in the death of his father and murder in the death of his mother. He was sentenced to 64 years in state prison.

    His convictions for killing his parents were overturned in 2015 by the N.J. Supreme Court, which ruled his confession was inadmissible because police secretly recorded one of his conversations to help their investigation.

    Judge Rea said it is plausible that rain or animals would have exposed the bodies, considering they were buried about a foot below the ground with a thin layer of dirt. The judge said the remains also would have smelled, arguing that people walking by the hole in which they were stacked at Beech Woods Park would have found them.

    Law enforcement officials called to the stand in August said they were confident they would have located the remains of Maltese's 58-year-old father, Michael J. Maltese, and his 54-year-old mother, Kathleen Maltese, had their son not led them to the scene.

    "I'm 100 percent convinced we would have found them," South Brunswick Capt. James Ryan said in court, estimating it would have taken authorities about two weeks to find the corpses.

    The bodies were found stacked in a hole at the park less than two miles from the couple's home on Maple Street in the Monmouth Junction of the township. Had Maltese not confessed, police would have searched two to three miles in every direction around the residence, eventually investigating the park, Lt. Louis Andrinopoulos, of State Police's missing persons unit, testified. 

    "They had a plan," the judge said. "They basically would have turned over every leaf."

    Luke Nozicka may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @lukenozicka.

    Find on Facebook.

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    A look at every section.

    The NJSIAA football playoffs are about to begin and has you covered with wall-to-wall coverage throughout the tournament, and that starts with previews for every section.

    Below you will find the previews for all 23 playoff sections that kick off this weekend with quarterfinal games. Keep checking back as links will be added throughout the day Tuesday and Wednesday.

    All previews are now linked below.

    North 1: Group 1 | Group 2 | Group 3 | Group 4 | Group 5
    North 2: Group 1 | Group 2 | Group 3 | Group 4 | Group 5

    Central: Group 1 | Group 2 | Group 3 | Group 4 | Group 5
    South: Group 1 | Group 2 | Group 3 | Group 4 | Group 5
    Non-Public: Group 2 | Group 3 | Group 4

    Jeremy Schneider may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @J_Schneider. Find on Facebook.

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    Long Branch police Officer Jake Pascucci was drunken driving when he fatally struck a 66-year-old woman, authorities have said Watch video

    LONG BRANCH - An off-duty city police officer who authorities say was driving drunk when he fatally struck a woman crossing the street in September remains on duty, officials said.

    Officer Jake Pascucci, a detective who has been a member of the Long Branch police force since 2014, is on duty in "a support capacity," according to a statement from the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office. 

    The office did not provide additional information on his status. 

    Pascucci_thumb.jpgLong Branch police Officer Jake Pascucci. (Long Branch Police Department)

    Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider said Pascucci is not on patrol. 

    "There is other work for an officer to do," he said. "There are rules and this has been run by the labor counsel."

    According to the state Attorney General's Internal Affairs Policy & Procedures, an employee can be suspended after he or she has been charged with a first, second or third-degree crime. 

    "The decision whether or not to continue to pay an officer who has been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation rests with the law enforcement executive and appropriate authority, who should carefully consider all ramifications of these choices," the policy states. 

    Pascucci, 28, was charged with third-degree strict liability vehicular homicide caused by driving while intoxicated or under the influence by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office, which is handling the case due to a conflict Pascucci has with the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office. A spokesman for that agency, Charles Webster, has said that Pascucci worked on an investigation with the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office.

    Pascucci had been charged with reckless driving, careless driving and DWI in the Sept. 22 death of Karen Borkowski, authorities have said.

    Borkowski, 66, of Stanhope, was crossing Ocean Boulevard at the intersection with Broadway in Long Branch around 8:15 p.m. when she was struck by Pascucci's 2016 Jeep Cherokee, according to authorities.

    Her husband, Ed Borkowski, told NJ Advance Media that his wife was crossing the street to get him bandages from CVS because he suffers from lymphedema, which causes severe blisters on his legs.

    The couple was in Long Branch for the American Baptist Churches of New Jersey conference, Ed Borkowski said. 

    Pascucci told officers at the scene he had a green light and that Borkowski was jaywalking, according to dashboard camera video from police at the scene, obtained by NJ Advance Media through the state's Open Public Records Act (OPRA). 

    "She walked right in front of me, jaywalking," he can be heard saying in the video. "I have a green light, going this way, southbound. She walked right out in front of me."

    The footage shows severe front-end damage to Pascucci's vehicle. 

    The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office rejected NJ Advance Media's OPRA request for the results of Pascucci's toxicology test. And the reports obtained by NJ Advance Media do not list the speed at which Pascucci was traveling at the time of the crash.

    Pascucci earns a salary of $62,724, according to state pension records.

    He is due in court on Dec. 12 and faces between three to five years in prison. 

    Alex Napoliello may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find on Facebook.

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    With the start of the state playoffs Friday night, names the 35 players across the state who are worthy the price of admission by themselves.

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    Your A-to-Z guide for the playoff's top storylines

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    Kyrillos, who declined to seek reelection to an eighth term, would earn $77,000 a year as a part-time board member for Horizon.

    TRENTON -- Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday appointed longtime friend and outgoing state Sen. Joseph Kyrillos to the board of directors of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey -- the insurance company that has been the target of the governor's verbal attacks for most of the year.

    Kyrillos, who declined to seek reelection to an eighth term, would earn $77,000 a year as a part-time board member for Horizon, if the Senate approves the nomination. Christie also named one of his most trusted confidantes, Michelle Brown, the CEO of a pro-economic development group, to the board in June. 

    Christie tried to exert control over Horizon last winter by ridiculing the $12 billion nonprofit for greedily keeping $2.4 billion in reserve, hoping Horizon would donate $300 million to aid his efforts to combat opioid addiction. Horizon resisted, and the administration publicly sparred with top executives into the spring.

    Kyrillos won't seek re-election after 30 years as N.J. lawmaker

    The fight led to a budget impasse embroiling the Legislature and a three-day state government shutdown in July. The matter was settled by Christie signing a bill that added two Legislative-appointed board members to improve government oversight.

    Christie did not comment on his nomination of Kyrillos, and Kyrillos could not be reached for comment. But the move is likely a nod to their decades-old friendship. Christie introduced Kyrillos to his future wife, Susan Doctorian; Kyrillos ran Christie's campaign in 2009.

    But strains in the Christie-Kyrillos relationship became apparent several years ago. When Kyrillos ran for U.S. Senate in 2012, Christie raised substantial sums but did little campaigning.

    Kyrillos once took to the Senate floor to criticize the dysfunction at the Port Authority under Christie's watch.

    Kyrillos also backed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination over Christie. Kryillos had long been friendly with the Bush family, having worked for then-Vice President George H.W. Bush in his 1984 re-election campaign.

    Kyrillos leaves the 40-member Senate in January. He will be replaced by Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon, R-Monmouth, who won election Tuesday.

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

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    Find out which teams have left a stamp on the state tournament so far.

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    Who are the players to watch in the sectional finals?

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    All the coverage in one spot.

    Football state playoffs first-round schedule/scoreboard
    Thursday's crossover-game results and links
    Final statewide conference football standings
    • Season stat leaders  
    Full schedule of 2017 NJSIAA regional crossover games
    Statewide stat leaders for Week 9 of the HS football season
    2017 NJSIAA football state tournament brackets

    • Top 20
    • Group and conference 

    COMPLETE: Bracket-by-bracket previews

    Top 20 Round 1 picks & schedule's picks for every football tourney quarterfinal

    From Asbury Park to zero-win teams: A-to-Z guide to the playoffs
    • 'It's unique, it's weird': NJSIAA crossover matchup has 3 teams confused
    Football playoffs, 2017: Bracket-by-bracket previews
    Dark horse dreams: 19 low seeds who could make deep runs in football playoffs
    NJSIAA punishes St. Joseph (Mont.) for player-poaching activities against Don Bosco
    Lawrence, riding late momentum, faces top seed Rumson-Fair Haven in Central 3 opener
    Can't-miss football playoffs: The 23 best Round 1 games
    Despite losing some of the best players in school history, Camden and Salem remain contender
    Vineland-Lenape promises to be a first-round heavyweight fight
    Can Nottingham stop Freehold Borough's Ashante Worthy?
    Legendary New Providence football coach dies

    The 31 best football players from Week 9, as teams jockeyed for playoff slots
    'Dismayed': Fired Verona football coach answers in response to BOE statement
    North Hunterdon, Voorhees football seeking to make post-season history
    Refs who walked off in protest after anthem kneeling will not work playoffs
    WATCH: Winslow football coach suspended for head slap to player, caught on video

    Bergenfield at Sparta voted Game of the Week for Week 10
    Gateway hosts playoff game for first time against Woodstown
    Allentown-Brick Township finals rematch on tap for quarterfinals

    Former Rutgers football commit Amad Anderson picks the Purdue Boilermakers
    Which N.J. football recruits has Penn State prioritized?
    Rutgers' newest commit Jaaron Hayek to help fellow pledge Zamar Wise recruit for 2019
    N.J. WR Kevin Johnson, teammate of Artur Sitkowski, earns 1st FBS offer, has RU interest
    Jaaron Hayek joins big brothers Tyler and Hunter in committing to Rutgers football
    Rutgers football recruits react to close win over Maryland

    Jeremy Schneider may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @J_Schneider. Find on Facebook.

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    Your one-stop shop for playoff coverage

    •  Brackets for all 23 sections  
    Round 1 mega-coverage guide 
    Picks for all Round 1 games 
    • Picks for teams in the Top 20

    Bracket-by-bracket previews  
    • An A-to-Z guide to the playoffs
    • Predicting all 23 sectional champions
    • Dark horses:19 dangerous low seeds
    35 players worth the price of admission 

    Don Bosco Prep at No. 2 St. Peter's Prep, 12
    St. Augustine at No. 1 Bergen Catholic, 1
    Bergenfield at Sparta, 1
    Hillside at South River, 1
    Lakewood at Lacey, 1
    Willingboro at Cedar Creek, 1

    No. 10 Lenape 35, No. 19 Vineland 0  
    Eighth seed not taken lightly
    •  Photo gallery
     Look back at live updates
    Box score

    Mount Olive 36, Morris Knolls 0 
    Cold climes don't slow MO
    •  Photo gallery
     Look back at live updates
    Box score

    Newton 21, Pequannock 19  
    • Late rally fails on 2-point conversion try
    •  WATCH Defense makes critical play
     Look back at live updates
    Box score

    Hasbrouck Heights 12, Cedar Grove 6, OT 
    TD in final minute of 4th sets up game-ending pick
    •  Photo gallery
     Look back at live updates
    Box score

    Sayreville 31, Colonia 0 
    Bombers rise as low seed
    •  Photo gallery
     Look back at live updates
    Box score

    Manasquan 41, Roselle 8 
    10-minute drive sets tone
    •  Photo gallery
     Look back at live updates
    Box score

    No. 5 Millville 20, Williamstown 14, OT 
     Bolts rally in fourth to avoid upset
     Box score

    Brick Township 28, Allentown 0
    • Cole Groschel does it all
    •  Photo gallery
     Look back at live updates
    Box score

    Gateway 28, Woodstown 8
    Logan Cruet sparks program's first playoff victory
    Photo gallery
     Look back at live updates
    Box score

    North Hunterdon 26, Orange 9 
    Lions just fine with ground game
    •  Photo gallery
    Box score 

    Freehold Township 17, North Brunswick 13 
    First playoff win in 45-year history
    Box score

    Hackettstown 35, Mountain Lakes 7 
    Tigers don't look like sixth seed
    Box score

    Old Bridge 24, Trenton 6  
    Imbimbo, Cooper extend OB win streak
    Box score 

    Bound Brook 40, Florence 24
    Ground game cranks out 513 yards
    Box score

    West Deptford 51, Pleasantville 12
    Eagles stay refocused
    Box score

    Delsea 56, Ocean City 34 
    Borguet leads Delsea in wild one
    Box score

    Somerville 51, Ewing 12
    Robert Fiorentino runs for 215
    Box score

    No. 4 Timber Creek 62, Seneca 31
    No. 5 Millville 20, Williamstown 14, OT
    No. 6 Manalapan 42, Perth Amboy 8
    No. 10 Lenape 35, No. 19 Vineland 0
    No. 12 Old Tappan 46, Teaneck 7
    No. 13 Phillipsburg 48, Millburn 14
    No. 14 St. John Vianney 45, Camden Catholic 40
    No. 16 Holy Spirit 34, Gloucester Catholic 14
    No. 17 Rancocas Valley 57, Eastern 9
    Bloomfield 21, No. 20 Passaic Tech 3 
    No. 1 Bergen Catholic vs. St. Augustine, 1
    No. 2 St. Peter's Prep vs. Don Bosco Prep, 12
    No. 3 St. Joseph (Mont.) vs. Red Bank Catholic, 1
    No. 8 Montclair vs, Livingston, 1
    No. 9 Pope John vs. Donovan Catholic, 1
    No. 11 Westfield vs. Ridge, 1
    No. 15 St. Joseph (Hamm.) vs. St. Mary (Ruth.), 1

    No. 18 St. Augustine at No. 1 Bergen Catholic, 1
    Live updates
    • Box score

    Don Bosco Prep at No. 2 St. Peter's Prep, 12
    Live updates
    • Box score
    •  Photo gallery

    Bergenfield at Sparta, 1 
    Live updates
    • Box score
    •  Photo gallery

    Hillside at South River, 1
    Live updates
    • Box score
    •  Photo gallery

    Lakewood at Lacey, 1 
    Live updates
    • Box score
    •  Photo gallery

    Willingboro at Cedar Creek, 1 
    Live updates
    • Box score
    •  Photo gallery

    Schalick at Penns Grove, 1
    • Box score
    Photo gallery

    Woodbury at Salem, 1
    • Box score

    Roselle Park at Glen Ridge, 1 
    • Box score

    Wall at Steinert, 1 
    • Box score
    •  Photo gallery

    Freehold Borough at Nottingham 
    • Box score
    •  Photo gallery

    Non-Public, Group 4 

    Non-Public, Group 3  

    Non-Public, Group 2 

    North Jersey, Section 1, Group 5

    North Jersey, Section 1, Group 4 

    North Jersey, Section 1, Group 3 

    North Jersey, Section 1, Group 2 

    North Jersey, Section 1, Group 1 

    North Jersey, Section 2, Group 5 

    North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 

    North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 

    North Jersey, Section 2, Group 2 

    North Jersey, Section 2, Group 1 

    Central Jersey, Group 5 

    Central Jersey, Group 4 

    Central Jersey, Group 3 

    Central Jersey, Group 2 

    Central Jersey, Group 1 

    South Jersey, Group 5 

    South Jersey, Group 4 

    South Jersey, Group 3 

    South Jersey, Group 2 

    South Jersey, Group 1 

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    Highlights of the opening weekend of the playoffs

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    Jill Van Tuyl, assistant director for Associated Humane Societies, said the violations were unacceptable and staff was doing everything to correct ongoing problems

    NEWARK -- The city's independently-run animal shelter is operating without a license after failing three back-to-back inspections that detailed kennels in severe disrepair, bags of carcasses covered in flies and sick animals not receiving basic vet care.

    Associated Humane Societies, which opened its doors in 1906, is a nonprofit that operates three shelters, including one in Newark. The Newark facility on Evergreen Avenue also provides animal control services for the city and 13 other municipalities.

    Jill Van Tuyl, assistant director for Associated Humane Societies, said the violations were unacceptable and staff was doing everything it could to correct ongoing problems. 

    "It's an old building that has a lot of issues and we're doing our best to make sure any deficiencies with regard to the facility are rectified," Van Tuyl said. 

    Some animal rights advocates, however, are questioning why the Newark shelter remains open despite more than a decade of egregious findings including a scathing 2003 report by the state and failed inspections in years since. 

    Last month, health officials said the Newark shelter had made some fixes but hit the facility with new violations -- including not giving animals water and not having a supervising veterinarian. 

    "This is completely and totally out of control at this point," said Collene Wronko, a member of Reformers - Advocates for Animal Shelter Change in NJ. "Why are they still allowed to take in animals?"

    Van Tuyl, who began working at the nonprofit in January, said many of the violations stemmed from the inability to hire and keep personnel, including kennel technicians who clean and feed the animals.

    "Give me a chance. I'm new here and I want us to be better and I want us to be in compliance," she said. "The team and I are working very hard to make these changes. It's a big ship to right."

    Newark's Department of Health and Community Wellness that regulates the Newark shelter together with the state Department of Health said they were monitoring the shelter's progress and allowing it to operate on a conditional permit. 

    "Corrective action for several deficiencies previously reported have been observed to date and implemented including the hiring of a full-time veterinarian and full-time staff member designated to ensure that animals are fed and provided water accordingly," the department said in a statement.  

    Spurred by an anonymous complaint, local and state health officials conducted a joint inspection on Aug. 22 and slapped the Newark facility with 40 violations. A follow-up inspection on Sept. 26 and Oct. 20 found some improvements but the shelter still has not met licensing requirements. 

    Among the cited deficiencies:

    • Sick animals were held in the same room as healthy animals and caretakers were not following procedures to control the spread of disease. Cats and kittens with nasal and eye discharge were held in the same room with nursing cats and kittens.
    • A white Maltese with sores and missing hair and other sick animals were not provided with vet care.
    • There was excessive amount of medical waste that was not properly disposed of and the facility kept poor records of the animals.
    • There was insufficient ventilation in the basement for animals housed there to remove odors and humidity. Flooring throughout the facility was in disrepair and needed to be removed. 

    Van Tuyl said she took issue with the record keeping citations and said her staff showed inspectors the proper paperwork. She also said the staff didn't have time to address medical needs for some of the animals since inspectors came first thing in the morning and many of the animals became ill overnight.

    "We are on top of this now, and the vets, they make their rounds in the mornings," she said.

    Alan Rosenberg, who used to volunteer at the Newark facility and is a shelter reform activist, blamed the shelter's management for its ongoing woes. 

    "They're not using best practices; there's so much information available nowadays on how to properly run an animal shelter," Rosenberg, who runs the NJ Animal Observer blog said. "A successful animal shelter tries to move animals out of the shelter as quickly as possible."

    Associated Humane Society's current executive director, Roseann Trezza, has served on the board of directors since 1973 and according to the nonprofit's 990 tax filing, reported $112,000 in compensation in 2016. She could not be reached for comment. 

    The nonprofit reported $9 million in revenue from grants, contributions and their animal control contracts with municipalities in its most recently available 990 tax form. Associated Humane Societies has two other facilities in Tinton Falls and Forked River, including the Popcorn Park animal sanctuary. 

    "We're a nonprofit and it's a big operation," Van Tuyl said. The nonprofit is the largest sheltering system in the state and provides 24/7 animal control services. "It takes a lot to keep it going." 

    Newark's $675,000 annual contract with the agency allows for the sheltering of animals picked up by animal control services. It also calls for the shelter to protect the animals from injury, keep them dry and clean, and give them enough space, according to a copy of the contract obtained by Rosenberg through a public records request. 

    The agency reported spending more than $4 million on salaries, $127,000 in legal fees, more than $1 million on animal food and supplies, and $126,000 in repairs and maintenance. 

    Rosenberg said health officials can -- and should -- shut the shelter down, but they're worried about "where are we going to put these animals?"

    In 2011, then Newark Mayor Cory Booker proposed building a city-run, no-kill animal shelter. He cited ongoing problems at Associated Humane Societies and its high kill rate. Booker's administration pointed to a stinging 2003 report by the State Commission of Investigation that led to the resignation of long-time executive director Lee Bernstein.

    The city-run shelter was never built -- despite Booker allegedly raising $39,000 for it -- and plans for it did not re-emerge under Mayor Ras Baraka's administration.

    "We need to fix this and make it right," Van Tuyl said. 

    Staff writer Noah Cohen contributed to this report.

    Karen Yi may be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook


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    The bar, in Farmingdale, said the idea came from a Vietnam veteran and a customer who felt disrespected by NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem.

    FARMINGDALE -- The 20 TV screens at Woody's Roadside Tavern will not show NFL games Sunday but instead will host a fundraiser for veterans and their families, a response to complaints about ongoing player protests during the national anthem.

    Rob Johnson, one of the owners of the bar, said the idea for the NFL blackout came from a Vietnam veteran and regular customer who felt disrespected by NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality.  

    "While it'll probably costs us some money, we thought it was more important to stand with our veterans and send a message however big or small it might turn out to be," Johnson said. "For us, it's not a political statement, we're here supporting our veterans on Veterans Day weekend."

    Two veterans groups -- the Green Beret Foundation and Special Forces Chapter 19 -- will receive 20 percent of all food sales, Johnson said. Both groups will use the money to help military families. 

    Johnson, who lives in Howell, said members of Special Forces Chapter 19 hold their monthly meetings there. They and other veterans who frequent the bar have expressed their disappointment with the NFL. 

    "They're 100 percent behind the right to protest, that's one of the greatest thing about our country but they just feel like (the players) take the national anthem, our flag, to a whole other level," Johnson said. "If you want to protest, that's fine. But veterans hold (the flag) in such a revered place in their hearts."

    "They just feel disrespected," Johnson said. 

    Johnson, who purchased the bar about five years ago, said he never expected the decision to boycott NFL games to get so much attention. The bar was featured on Fox News and they've received at least 200 emails, mostly expressing support for the cause. 

    He said even regular customers who come in wearing NFL jerseys have expressed support and plan to come Sunday. 

    "We found it very heart-warming," Johnson said. 

    The band After the Reign will perform from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, and Johnson said the bar will show Nascar racing for part of the day. 

    Johnson said the NFL blackout is so far just planned for Sunday. 

    "As far as I know we're going to go back to business as usual," he said. "But who knows what next week brings." 

    Karen Yi may be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook

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    Authorities arrested a member of the Bloods gang on several weapons and drug charges after he allegedly told others he planned to kill an Asbury Park police officer.

    ASBURY PARK -- An investigation into a Bloods gang member who allegedly told others he planned to kill a local police officer led to three arrests Friday, authorities said.

    The gang member, Salik Hinton, 28, of Neptune, was taken into custody during a 4:30 a.m. raid of a home on the 600 block of Church Street, Asbury Park Police Sgt. Michael Casey said. He was wanted on a separate, open traffic warrant.

    The two other suspects -- Willie Clark, 32, of Asbury Park, and Shakira Smith, 31, of Asbury Park -- were also arrested at the home.

    All three were charged with possession of a defaced firearm, unlawful possession of a weapon and drug possession. Smith was additionally charged with endangering the welfare of a minor.

    Hinton and Clark were taken to the Monmouth County jail pending a detention hearing, while Smith was released with a summons to appear in court at a later date. 

    Authorities said they also searched Hinton's parent's home in Neptune. From the two searches, they seized drugs, weapons, $2,435 from alleged drug sales and a Cannondale bicycle worth $800 that was apparently purchased from a drug addict on the street for $5, police said.

    Karen Yi may be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook

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    Homeless animals throughout New Jersey await adoption in shelters and rescues.

    Some notes on homeless animals in New Jersey:

    * According to the State of New Jersey Office of Animal Welfare, "it is estimated that the number of free-roaming cats in the United States may be equal to that of owned cats, approximately 70 million. If left unchecked, free-roaming cats will breed and their populations increase at locations where they find suitable shelter and food." The office goes on to note that pet cats that are abandoned will not easily fend for themselves outdoors. Unfortunately, most of these cats and their offspring will suffer premature death from disease, starvation or trauma.

    * Among shelters and rescue groups around New Jersey, the top 10 reasons for owners relinquishing a dog are: (1) moving; (2) landlord issues (3) cost of pet maintenance; (4) "no time for pet;" (5) inadequate facilities; (6) "too many pets in home;" (7) pet illness; (8) "personal problems;" (9) biting; and (10) no homes for litter-mates.

    Other interesting facts from the Office of Animal Welfare:

    * As many as 25 percent of dogs entering shelters across the country each year are purebreds.

    * One unspayed female cat and her unaltered offspring can produce 420,000 cats in seven years.

    Here is a gallery of homeless animals from northern and central New Jersey. Consider visiting a local shelter or contacting a local rescue group when looking for a pet for your family.

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

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    Which teams broke into the Top 20 this week?

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