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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    A five-year plan released earlier this month under Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's watch would allow offshore drilling in more than 90 percent of the outer continental shelf, which includes areas of the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans.

    News that Florida appears to have gotten a pass from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke while the Garden State's Atlantic Coast will likely be open for drilling has members of New Jersey's congressional delegation fuming.

    A five-year plan released earlier this month under Zinke's watch would allow offshore drilling in more than 90 percent of the outer continental shelf, which includes areas of the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans.

    The plan drew immediate outrage from governors and members of Congress representing coastal states - for good reason.

    As U.S. Reps. Chris Smith (R-4th) and Frank LoBiondo (R-2nd) point out in a letter, the proposal poses significant economic and environmental risks to local marine wildlife - the lifeblood of commercial fishermen - while threatening a tourism industry that depends heavily on clean beaches.

    Chris Christie and Phil Murphy join together to fight Trump

    Three dozen Democratic senators - including our own Robert Menendez and Cory Booker - shot off a letter as well, in essence pleading with the feds not to tamper with a valuable natural resource to satisfy the cravings of oil magnates.

    Equally strong opposition came from the governors of New York, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Oregon and Washington, as well as New Jersey.

    But Zinke so far has had ears only for Florida's Gov. Rick Scott.

    After a meeting with the GOP governor, Zinke announced he's decided to exempt the state of Walt Disney, orange groves and alligators - and let's not forget Mar-a-Lago - from the new open-drilling policy.

    "I support the governor's position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver," Zinke said in a message announcing his decision.

    So what are we in New Jersey - chopped liver?

    It may be just a coincidence that Florida went big for Donald Trump in 2016, and that Scott is a buddy of the president's. It may also be a coincidence that Scott is expected to run for a U.S. Senate seat later this year against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson.

    Meanwhile, New Jersey and other states equally affected by the expanded drilling have are justified to view the administration as playing favorites.

    But the nation's coastal waters are too valuable to be used as political bargaining chips, and Zinke has inadvertently exposed the Department of the Interior to court action for his seemingly arbitrary - and indefensible - decision to bestow his blessing only on the Sunshine State.

    U.S. Rep Frank Pallone Jr. (D-6th), the leading Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, summed up the injustice in a few choice words.

    "Florida," he said, "should not be given special status because the president is friends with Gov. Scott."

    Bookmark Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find Opinion on Facebook.

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    Man was reported missing Sunday afternoon, according to police.

    Police on Monday asked for information from the public to help find a missing Lake Como man after his car was discovered at the Belmar marina, leading authorities to search the Shark River.

    A family member reported 56-year-old Mark Ritter missing Sunday afternoon, Belmar police Detective Capt. Thomas Cox said in a news release. Ritter's car was found at the south end of the marina.

    Belmar authorities, joined by a K-9 unit and Maritime Emergency Response Team from the Monmouth County Sheriff's Office, State Police helicopter and boats were deployed to search the river and surrounding area, police said.

    Anyone with information about Ritter's whereabouts was asked to call Belmar police at 732-681-1700.

    Noah Cohen may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @noahyc and on Facebook



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    It's a non-starter that both parties agree on. Watch video

    This is an era of abundant energy and growing environmental risks, so the Trump Administration - which has mastered the dark art of compromising the practical future for the political present - has decided it would be the perfect time to hang a massive choker of oil rigs around the country's neck.

    The president has proposed opening up more than 90 percent of the waters surrounding the continental U.S. - that's 100 million acres - to offshore drilling.

    Currently, drilling is banned in 94 percent of the outer continental shelf, because our leaders are well-practiced in kill-the-drill efforts, and most politicians from our state - Democrats and Republicans alike, including Gov. Christie - have already told Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that his proposal is inherently reckless and potentially catastrophic.

    These voices must only become louder, because this fight is about our economy, our future, and the stewardship of our cherished coastline.

    Sure, it's a Nimby issue. Proof arrived a few days after Zinke's announcement, when he exempted Florida from drilling - presumably because President Trump realized that a spill off Palm Beach would be very bad for business at Mar-A-Lago. 

    It was also a sloppy kiss for Florida Gov. Rick Scott - a drilling advocate even after the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster desecrated his Gulf coast beaches, whose upcoming Senate campaign will likely crash if he continues to put black sludge ahead of the voting public. 

    Jersey takes on Big Oil, and Jersey wins. Thanks, Obama | Editorial

    So the Florida leases are already off the board because Zinke says "its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver."

    Only an inexcusable ignorance would lead him to believe that this is unique to Florida.

    The Jersey Shore has a $44 billion tourism industry, which supports a half-million jobs either directly or indirectly. That is 10 percent of our workforce.

    It is home to more than $700 billion in coastal properties.

    Our commercial fishing industry supports another 50,000 jobs and generates $8 billion annually, and our shores are home to one of the largest recreational fishing industries in the nation.

    All of that would be imperiled by one spill off our coast.

    Meanwhile, all the risk is on the shore communities, and all the rewards go to Big Oil.

    Oil drilling off the Atlantic coast is a bad idea | Editorial

    As Sen. Robert Menendez put it, the Zinke plan "is a gift for corporate polluters at the expense of our coastal economies."

     No doubt, the proposal is merely the opening wager in a byzantine process - rigs may not pop up for another decade. But it's clear where all this is heading.

    Just two weeks ago, congressional Republicans gave oil companies a $500 million tax break. That money - generated through a 9 cents-per-barrel tax on crude oil - was the main source of revenue for the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which has been around since 1986. 

    This program that helped government respond quickly to oil accidents on land or offshore. But now the GOP has allowed the tax to expire.

    So if there is ever another incident like the Deepwater Horizon tragedy - the largest marine spill in history, which caused $17 billion in damage to natural resources - it will be up to American taxpayers to clean up the mess left behind, not the oil companies themselves. 

    Other regulations put in place after that Gulf disaster, such as lowering liability caps, also were rolled back recently.

    Moral of the story: It's a great time to be in the oil business, now that it has a champion in a president who at any time is willing to take a drunken swerve away from common sense.

    Are your interests being served in Congress? Use this tool to keep track.

    Bookmark Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find Opinion on Facebook.

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    For three Skyland Conference members of the New Jersey Wrestling Top 20, Tuesday, Jan. 16 is moving day.

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    Authorities say Jacob Garrett fled while telling witnesses, "Help my girlfriend." Watch video

    Authorities say a Burlington City man ran away from the Sunday crash that took his girlfriend's life, but he's not going anywhere for now.

    Jacob GarrettJacob T. Garrett

    Jacob T. Garrett, 24, will be held in jail pending a hearing Friday on whether he should be released on or held until trial, the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office said.

    The prosecutor's office will argue that he should stay jailed.

    His girlfriend, Stephanie White, 23, of Burlington City, died at some point after Garrett's car struck a parked car, careened off of the river wall in downtown Burlington City and crashed through the ice.

    Garrett got out and fled, the prosecutor's office said, telling witnesses, "Help my girlfriend."

    Following the crash, White's family and friends have mourned her in Facebook posts. Her profile, which features several photos with Garrett, says she is from West Freehold and attended Freehold High School.

    Authorities said White was found submerged in the car, restrained by a seatbelt in the icy water. She was pulled from the wreckage and was later pronounced dead, the office said.

    Photos and video provided by a witness show a large group of emergency responders working at the river's edge, where two ladders were lowered onto the ice on the car's passenger side. Some were wearing cold water rescue suits. A large section of the railing hung over the ice.

    A police K9 team tracked Garrett to a nearby Riverline train station, and he was apprehended on a northbound train at the Beverly/Edgewater Park station, the office said.

    While officials have not said whether Garrett gave a reason for fleeing, his charges indicate he was driving without a license. He has been charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident, causing death while driving with a suspended license and endangering an injured victim. 

    Court records indicate Garrett has two previous convictions as an adult.

    He was sentenced to a year in jail in 2016 after pleading guilty to criminal sexual contact. In 2015, he served 93 days and was given two years probation after admitting to aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer to cause bodily injury, court records show.

    Rebecca Everett may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find on Facebook.

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    The car fire caused heavy traffic delays on the parkway in Middletown.

    Flames engulfed a car during Wednesday's morning commute on the Garden State Parkway in Middletown, shutting down lanes and causing major traffic delays.

    A white Nissan Altima caught fire around 8:45 a.m. in the right shoulder of the southbound side of the parkway near mile post 112.4, according to the New Jersey State Police.

    In the slush and snow, firefighters responded to the scene and put the fire under control shortly after 9 a.m., State Police said.

    There were no injuries reported, and the cause remains under investigation.

    The right and middle lanes were shut down, causing traffic delays. However, they were reopened around 9:45 a.m.

    Spencer Kent may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @SpencerMKent. Find the Find on Facebook.

    Have information about this story or something else we should be covering? Tell us.

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    The sprawling 52-year-old motorsports complex will focus on other types of racing, as well as concerts and its annual Tough Mudder competition Watch video

    Drivers, turn off your engines.

    After more than half a century of burning rubber, Raceway Park will no longer hold drag races, officials said.

    With the rising cost of fuel, tires, insurance and other expenses of speeding from a standstill to more than 200 mph on a 1,000-foot track, drag racing has become too expensive for the mostly amateur racers who drive on weekends and Wednesday nights at what is officially known as Old Bridge Raceway Park, said Steve Mamakas, executive officer of the Old Bridge Township Mayor's Office of Economic Development.

    "I'm a racer myself," said Mamakas, who races in a penny-orange 2009 Dodge Challenger SRTH with a 425-horse power engine. "Last time I raced was probably about a year and a half ago, and yea, I will miss it."

    The storied drag strip, with its familiar radio ads that blared, "Racewaaaaay Park!" is is a nationally known drag strip and longtime host of the National Hot Rod Association's Summernationals, which will not be run at the raceway in 2018.

    The NHRA, hot rodding's ruling body, issued a statement on Wednesday lamenting the end of drag racing at the raceway, which the NHRA referred to by its Englishtown mailing address.

    "NHRA drag racing events have been held at the track in Englishtown for almost 50 years," NHRA president Glen Cromwell was quoted as saying. "The Summernationals have played an important part in our heritage and we hope that fans in the area will try to make it to another one of our events.  Our focus remains on making the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series a memorable experience for our fans, racers, sponsors, partners and tracks."

    The Napp family, which opened the raceway in 1965 and continues to operate it privately, decided to end drag racing, and convert the grandstand and about half the strip into an outdoor concert venue, Mamakas told NJ Advance Media on Wednesday, after he met last week to discuss the changes with Raceway Park President Michael Napp.

    The family issued a statement about the closing, wishing to "express their most sincere gratitude to the NHRA, and the many thousands of racers and fans, without whom would have never allowed Raceway Park to become the iconic and nationally recognized drag racing facility it has over the past five decades."

    Despite the end of drag racing, Mamakas said the 480-acre complex will remain open and other forms of racing and motorsports will go on, including motocross, as well as cart racing and drifting. He said the site will continue to host a motor sports school and exotic car drives on its autocross track. The annual Tough Mudder competition, a non-motor sports use of the facility, will also continue, Mamakas said.

    "Let's put it this way, Raceway Park is transforming to meet the future," Mamakas said. "It's just become too expensive, and you have a small window to race there -- Saturday and Sunday and Wednesday, and Wednesday night it's hard to get out."

    Fans reacted to word of drag racing's end on social media.

    Mamakas said few if any of the mainly per diem workers at the raceway would be out of work as a result of the end of operations, because most also work in other areas of the complex, on other forms of racing. 

    Old Bridge Township Administrator and Chief Finanaiclal Officer Himanshu Shah said he did not anticipate any direct impact on township finances as a result. But he conceded that some local businesses might suffer from smaller crowds on weekends during the April-November race season, and certainly some would lament the loss of a key component of the community identify for the last half-century.

    "It's one of our historic attractions in the township," Shah said. "Raceway Park is known throughout the country, so it has a tremendous value in that regard."

    While fans will miss drag racing, not all memories of the sport at Raceway Park are fond. Funny car driver Scott Kalitta was killed in a fiery crash there in June 2008. Two years later, Neal Parker of Millville was trying to qualify for the SuperNationals, of the National Hot Rod Association, when his 2005 Monte Carlo crashed at nearly 250 mph.

    One consolation for local motorists who aren't racing fans, Mamakas said, would be less congestion on Route 527.

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

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    Jury selection for his trial alongside his co-defendant brother had been scheduled to begin next month.

    One of the stars of MTV's hit reality show Jersey Shore has agreed to plead guilty in his federal tax crimes case, prosecutors said in a court filing Wednesday.

    Michael "The Situation" Sorrentino and his brother, Marc Sorrentino, are expected to enter guilty pleas before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton in Newark on Friday, just under a month before jury selection was scheduled to begin for their trial on tax evasion and other charges.

    Wigenton previously had denied a request by Michael Sorrentino's attorney, Henry Klingeman, to delay the trial until June.

    "As you indicate, we have court scheduled for this Friday, January 19, at 11 a.m.," Klingeman said by email Wednesday in response to a request for comment. "That's all I can say until then."

    Marc Sorrentino's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.

    The U.S. Attorney's Office and the Justice Department's Tax Division had accused the brothers, who grew up in Manalapan, of underreporting income from businesses they created to cash in on Michael Sorrentino's overnight fame from the MTV show, which ran from 2009 to 2012 and had a 30-minute "reunion special" on E! in August.

    In a superseding indictment filed in U.S. District Court in April, prosecutors said Michael Sorrentino also tried to evade government scrutiny by keeping his bank deposits under $10,000. Anything above that amount would require the bank to file a transaction report under federal law.

    Marc Sorrentino was additionally accused of tampering with business records sought by a federal grand jury investigating the men. 

    Prosecutors did not specify in Wednesday's letter to the court the charges to which each brother intended to plead guilty.

    A former tax preparer previously pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns for the two men.

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriarty. Find on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us.

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    Folks have long been delighted by informal photos and videos - like those on 'Candid Camera.'

    This week's collection of vintage photos depicts New Jerseyans captured in candid images. We have posted candid photos for the past few years and they have proven to be quite popular among our audience. But, we are not charting new territory here; folks have long been delighted by informal photos and videos.

    According to the Archive of American Television, "Candid Camera" was the first and longest-running reality-based comedy program in TV history. It evolved from a radio program called "Candid Microphone."


    The archive notes that "the format of the program featured footage taken by a hidden camera of everyday people caught in hoaxes devised by the show's host Allen Funt. He and his crew had to contend with burdensome equipment that was difficult to conceal. The cameras were often hidden behind a screen, but the lights needed for them had to be left out in the open. Would-be victims were told that the lights were part of 'renovations.'"

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    "Candid Camera" ran from 1949 through 1967 and again -- using the original format and some variations such as "Candid Camera Goes to the Doctor" -- from 1974 through 1993. In many ways, it was the precursor to today's reality programming. But, it maintained one principle many of its offspring can't claim -

    Candid Camera never scripted a single segment in its history.

    Here's a gallery of candid moments from New Jersey, as well as links to older galleries you'll enjoy.

    Vintage photos capturing candid slices of life in N.J.

    More vintage candid photos from N.J.

    Vintage photos of celebs from N.J. when they were young

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

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    According to its Trulia listing, the taxes on the property in 2017 were $25,624.

    In this week's "Sold!" property, we feature a home in Holmdel with more than 6,600 square feet of living space.

    The house sold for $1,180,000 in December. According to its Trulia listing, the taxes on the property in 2017 were $25,624.

    The home features five bedrooms, four full bathrooms and two partial baths. The house was assessed in 2017 at $1,232,500.

    The median sale price for homes in the area is $615,000.

    Spencer Kent may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @SpencerMKent. Find the Find on Facebook.

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