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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    Check out the list of placewinners from the 2017 NJSIAA Wrestling Championships who will be returning to Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on March 2-3-4.

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    See the 11 players in the running for the 2017-18 girls basketball Player of the Year.

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    New Jersey and New York City didn't get much snow in February, but our region sure got a lot of rain. Enough to break some records.

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    Rutgers and other colleges won't rescind offers to students who are disciplined for joining walkouts or peaceful protests.

    A New Jersey school reportedly threatened to suspend students and revoke prom privileges over a school sit-in, on the same day several of the state's colleges said they won't hold it against high schoolers if they get in trouble for protesting. 

    Students at Cherry Hill High School East were warned during Monday morning's announcements that they would be suspended and banned from their senior trip and prom if they participated in a "planned disruption," according to 

    At the time, students were already taking part in a sit-in to support a teacher  who was suspended last week for raising conners about school security, according to the report. 

    The warning came a students across the state are already planning to join in a national walkout on March 14.

    Echoing colleges across the country, Rutgers University, The College of New Jersey and others weighed in on Monday, saying students disciplined for peaceful protests don't have to worry. 

    "We want to reassure students who have applied or have been admitted... that disciplinary actions associated with participation in peaceful protests will not jeopardize your admission," Rutgers University said in a tweet. 

    The assurances come as at least one local high school reportedly threatened to punish students who participated in a sit-in Monday. 

    High schoolers responses to the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida prompted questions from students, faculty, and alumni on how participation in peaceful protests might impact an applicants offer of admission, said Luke Sacks, a spokesman at The College of New Jersey.

    "So we felt it was important to communicate the college's position quickly and publicly," Sacks said.

    The university's stance is not just specific to Parkland but to peaceful, lawful protest in general, he added. 

    Rutgers' announcement is a reaffirmation of its an ongoing policy, spokeswoman Dory Devlin said. 

    Drew University and Monmouth University also posted statements on social media supporting students' right to peaceful protests. 

    Adam Clark may be reached at Follow him on twitter at @realAdamClarkFind on Facebook


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    Check out's interactive, printable brackets for this year's tournament.

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    Anti-Semitic incidents in New Jersey went up by 32 percent last year, after growing by 15 percent the year before.

    WASHINGTON -- Anti-Semitic incidents in New Jersey rose by almost one-third in 2017, the first year of Donald Trump's presidency, according to a report issued Tuesday.

    The Anti-Defamation League's annual Audit of Anti-Semitic incidents found 208 such occurrences in the Garden State, up 32 percent from 152 in 2016. 

    The occurrences included bomb threats against Jewish institutions, assaults and vandalism and were more than double the 15 percent increase recorded from 2015 to 2016.

    "New Jersey's sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents this past year confirm what all of us have perceived: anti-Semitic incidents are proliferating and perpetrators of hate have become emboldened," said Joshua Cohen, ADL's New Jersey regional director.

    Nationally, the number of incidents rose by 57 percent to 1,986 in 2017 from 1,267 a year earlier. They increased 35 percent from 2015 to 2016.

    Anti-Semitic incidents rose during 2016 campaign

    Among the incidents reported in New Jersey last year were three separate acts of vandalism of the Mahwah eruv, anti-Semitic flyers distributed in Monmouth and Ocean counties, and swastikas painted on buildings.

    In non-Jewish elementary and secondary schools in the state, anti-Semitic incidents more than doubled to 61 from 29 in 2016 the report said. They included middle school students singing "Happy Birthday" to Hitler and a teacher's online document vandalized with racist, sexist and anti-Semitic messages.

    "The lid has been removed from the pot of hatred," said Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-5th Dist. "This is a result of what happens."

    Gottheimer joined then-Gov. Chris Christie, U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and other officials in May at the Jewish Community Center in Tenafly, one of the New Jersey JCCs hit by bomb threats.

    The most visible manifestation of anti-Semitism nationally last year occurred in August when neo-Nazis marched alongside white supremacists and chanted, "Jews will not replace us" in Charlottesville, Virginia. One counterprotester was killed when one of the demonstrators ran her over with his car.

    Trump said there were some "very fine people" among the marchers and said there was "blame on both sides" for the violence.

    Early in his term, the president was slow to criticize a rise in anti-Semitic attacks that erupted after his election.

    During the campaign, Trump was criticized for using anti-Semitic memes, including using pictures of prominent Jews in his final advertisement as the narrator described "these people that don't have your good in mind;" tweeted a picture of rival Hillary Clinton and a Jewish star against a background of dollar bills.

    His theme of "America First" is the name of the World War II-era group that opposed fighting the Nazis and blamed the Jews for trying to push the U.S. into war.

    Trump named Steve Bannon, who ran the Breitbart website that was a favorite of white supremacists, to a top post in his administration. U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., used his speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Conference last year to condemn the "white nationalist dog whistles by Steve Bannon from the West Wing."

    Bannon since has left the Trump administration.

    Just last week, a top Trump ally, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, singled out only Jewish figures in his fiery and defiant speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, accusing them of trying to impose socialism on the United States.

    "Every time in every nation in which this political disease rises to power, its citizens are repressed, their freedoms are destroyed, and their firearms are banned and confiscated, and it's all backed in this country by the social engineering and the billions of people like George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer and more," said LaPierre, whose organization spent $30 million to help elect Trump in 2016.

    The Israeli newspaper Haaretz called it "expressions of dog-whistle anti-Semitism."

    Jonathan D. Salant may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JDSalant or on Facebook. Find Politics on Facebook.

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    New Jersey's weather is looking stormy in early March, with a possible coastal storm developing near the Jersey Shore

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    Sorting through the madness and breaking down some of the best state tournament action so far.

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    'The Bridge of San Luis Rey,' adapted from the Thornton Wilder novel, plays in Red Bank through March 18

    David Greenspan loves words. This was perhaps nowhere more clear than in his recent six-hour solo performance that meticulously delivered "Strange Interlude" with such precision that it seemed as though he had poured over every word with limitless care. The actor's adoration of language emerges again at Two River Theater in Red Bank, where he stars in a world-premiere production of his own stage adaptation of Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer-Prize winning novel, "The Bridge of San Luis Rey," published in 1927.

    Greenspan's version is efficient (75 minutes, not six hours), playful, and most of all dexterous with language. Lines are frequently in verse, and even the prose passages are vibrantly lyrical. It is a whimsical fairytale about big themes like love, longing, loss, and loneliness, but it is first a paean to the joys and powers of words.

    Set in eighteenth-century Peru, Wilder's story finds grounding in the collapse of a flimsy Incan bridge and the death of the five travelers who plunged into the gorge below. Like the novel, Greenspan's adaptation opens by revealing the fact of five deaths on the compromised bridge, and then finds suspense by introducing more than a dozen characters without identifying which five are doomed. Greenspan plays Uncle Pio, a character with a relatively small storyline among the ensemble, but the adaptor also identifies himself to the audience as a stage director, frequently introducing characters, shifting the play's scenes, and offering narrative exposition. This nod to the dramatic structure of Wilder's "Our Town" is a sly and effective move by Greenspan both to make his adaptation more Wilderesque and also to manage the expanse of a novel within the confines of a short play.

    Other than Uncle Pio, we also meet characters like Dona Maria (Mary Lou Rosato), a wealthy and lonely noble who drinks too much and misses her daughter, Dona Clara (Madeline Wise), who lives in Spain and greets every missive from her mother with an eye roll. There is Camila Perichole (Elizabeth Ramos), the beautiful actress who maintains affairs with bullfighters and politicians, and is the object of fiery longing from a peasant scribe Manuel (Bradley James Tejeda, El Coqui himself), whose twin brother Esteban (Zachary Infante) struggles to hide his resentment of Manuel's new devotion.

    Greenspan's script impresses in its ability to introduce in such a short span these and other characters well enough that we come to know and care about each. This is of course key if we are going to worry about impending deaths, and pity the loss of life. Like most stage adaptation of novels, the show sacrifices some richness in its characterization and plotting, but Greenspan does well to divert attention from those necessary losses. The cast joins with director Ken Rus Schmoll to bring their characters effectively to full life. Schmoll returns to Two River after showing similar nuance in last season's "The Women of Padilla," another short, somber-sweet fairytale of a play.

    Like "Padilla," "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" is most interested with how tragedy effects the people who live on in its wake, but as told by Greenspan, Wilder's tale becomes at least as invested it its audience and the force of theatricality as it does in its characters. The five deaths happen intermittently over the course of the play rather than as some gruesome climax, and as stage director, Greenspan reveals each subsequent death with flippant matter-of-factness. The stage director says that the snapped bridge simply "flings the five gesticulating ants into the valley below," a line Greenspan borrows directly from Wilder, whose novel follows the determined efforts of a friar to make sense of the tragedy. Greenspan's adaptation shifts the burden of that investigation to the audience, if we are so inclined to take it up.

    For the play is in part a spirited romp through the joy of a script full of slinky rhymes conjuring fanciful stories: an ode to the poetry of fairytale. But "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" also coyly invites consideration of how the space of theater so easily conjures and discards life. At the utterance of stage director, five lives end, a condition whose peculiarity lies at the heart of Greenspan's play.


    Two River Theater Company

    21 Bridge Avenue, Red Bank

    Tickets: available online ( Running through March 18.

    Patrick Maley may be reached at Find him on Twitter and Instagram @PatrickJMaley. Find on Facebook.

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    Karon Council, who was arrested in South Florida on Sunday, is scheduled to have an extradition hearing on Tuesday

    Editor's Note: This story was updated to reflect that Council will be transported from Florida to Monmouth County, where he will appear in court later this week, according to an update from the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office.

    The man accused of gunning down a 10-year-old boy inside his Asbury Park home last week opened fire at the house shortly after his alleged accomplice was told by someone who answered the door that the intended target was not there, newly obtained police documents say.

    Karon Council, 18, and a 16-year-old, both of Neptune Township, were each charged with murder and weapons offenses following the Wednesday night shooting death of Yovanni Banos-Merino at his home on Ridge Avenue.

    The 16-year-old is not being publicly identified by authorities because he is a minor. 

    Shortly before the shooting, a teenager inside the home answered a knock at the door and saw the 16-year-old juvenile, whom she recognized from school, according to the affidavit of probable cause. The visitor asked her if a man, identified in the report as "Jameer," was home.

    She told the teenager that "Jameer" was not home, the police report said, and the visitor walked away from the house. Council was with the juvenile when he knocked on the door, witnesses told police, according to the report. 

    Moments later, the report said, the 16-year-old and Council walked back toward the house.

    "At that time, Council pulled out a gun from his waistband and began to shoot at the house," states the affidavit, which includes witness statements to police that identify Council as the person who fired the gun at the Ridge Avenue house.

    About10:40 p.m., police dispatch received a call of multiple gunshot victims inside a residence on the 400 block of Ridge Avenue. The victims were located by first-responders in the first-floor apartment of the house.

    Yovanni was pronounced dead at the home at 11:18 p.m. His mother, 38-year-old Lilia Merino, was taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune where she was treated for a gunshot wound to the leg and released.

    The 16-year-old was arrested at Neptune Township High School two days later.

    Council was arrested by U.S. Marshals and the Broward County Sheriff's Department Sunday evening at a residence in Deerfield Beach, Florida, according to an arrest report obtained by NJ Advance Media.

    Council fled to South Florida because his girlfriend had family there, according to U.S. Marshal Manny Puri, who said a gun was recovered during the arrest in Deerfield Beach.

    He also said in a statement that Council, who goes by the street name "Boogie," is possibly a member of the Bloods street gang. Law enforcement sources in New Jersey, however, did not confirm Council's affiliation with the Bloods.

    Council is being held at the Broward County Sheriff's Office jail. He is to be transported from Florida to Monmouth County, where he will appear in court later this week, said the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office.

    Council's last known address is in Neptune Township. But he has "numerous prior encounters" with the Asbury Park Police Department, said department spokesman Sgt. Michael Casey.

    Public records indicate Council has been arrested for disorderly conduct, trespassing, improper behavior and possession of a controlled dangerous substance.

    Meanwhile, Yovanni's family is raising money for his funeral services, which have not yet been announced. 

    Vanessa Martinez, who called Yovanni her little brother, set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the family's funeral expenses. They are seeking $30,000.

    A neighbor, Kareena Martin, told NJ Advance Media Yovanni and her son used to play together at their Asbury Park homes. 

    "He enjoyed his friends, his personality was awesome," Martin said. "(He) enjoyed playing sports with my son as well, backyard football to be exact."

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

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    The NJSIAA will seed the 2018 individual state tournament brackets Tuesday. Check here often for updates on seedings, pairings and brackets

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    Each of N.J. hockey's four state tournament brackets are down to their Final Fours.

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    You think your local high school is great. Does the state's new rating system agree?

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    NJ Advance Media previews the NJSIAA State wrestling championships. Some of the wrestlers featured are: Anthony Clark, Delbarton; Sammy Alvarez, St. Joseph (Mont).; Antonio Mininno, Gateway-Woodbury; Robert Howard, Bergen Catholic; JoJo Aragona, Pope John; Nicholas Raimo, Hanover Park; Patrick Glory, Delbarton; Michael O'Malley, Hasbrouck Heights; Antonio Mininno, Gateway-Woodbury.

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    Highlights from the state tournament.

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    What you need to know from the state tournament

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    Who will move on to the sectional semifinals? Take a look at our staff picks.

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    You know the names at the top, but what currently unranked wrestlers in's individual rankings have the potential to make deep runs at Boardwalk Hall?

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    The director and writer, now home from the hospital, suffered a heart attack on Sunday. His heart, he says, is 'actually getting more blood flow and oxygen than it has in a long time.'

    Kevin Smith has tweeted for the first time since sharing that he had a heart attack on Sunday.

    "Home again, home again, jiggety-jig!" Smith posted on Wednesday afternoon, sharing a photo of himself wearing the wide-eyed expression he often makes in photos. "Home is where the heart is and the heart is feeling good! It's actually getting more blood flow and oxygen than it has in a long time. So I am ALERT, to say the least! Thank you for all the kind words, folks." 

    Smith, 47, who lives in Los Angeles, signed the tweet "from Vegetarian Kev, Day 2," indicating the writer and director had made a significant lifestyle change in giving up meat, ostensibly because of the cardiac event.

    Smith sustained a heart attack that was caused by a blockage of his left anterior descending artery during one of his shows in Glendale, California and before another scheduled show there as part of his "Kevin Smith Live!" tour. A Red Bank native who grew up in Highlands, Smith tweeted from the hospital late Sunday night about having a heart attack. 

    "The Doctor who saved my life told me I had 100% blockage of my LAD artery (aka "the Widow-Maker")," Smith had tweeted. 

    Fans and celebrity friends rallied to support the director Monday on social media.

    In a longer post on Facebook, Smith went into greater detail and reserved special thanks for actor Chris Pratt, who tweeted that he was inspired by "Clerks" when he was in high school and that he was praying for the director after hearing about the heart attack. (After Pratt was criticized for saying he believes in "the healing power of prayer" and asking his followers to pray with him for Smith, "Guardians of the Galaxy" director James Gunn came to his defense in a Twitter thread.)

    "I just wanted to thank you all for the kind words you took the time to write to me about what my work has meant to you," Smith said, addressing fans in the post. "In the last two days, I've read some breathtaking sentiments that have profoundly touched me."

    Smith, who was long overweight, made the 2010 documentary "Too Fat for 40," set in Red Bank's Count Basie Theater, after he was asked to leave a flight because he couldn't fit into just one seat (he typically would buy two seats but only one was available). In 2015, he said he had lost 85 pounds after making lifestyle changes including ditching sugary drinks for juicing and adding walks to his daily routine.  

    In longer posts on Instagram and Facebook on Monday, Smith, the auteur of the New Jersey-set "View Askewniverse" films -- starting with his iconic 1994 film "Clerks," in Leonardo -- wrote that his father had died of a heart attack. He said he felt nauseous and sweaty after his show and that his chest felt heavy. Smith said a doctor told him that if he didn't cancel his second show, he would have died. 

    But this is what I learned about myself during this crisis: death was always the thing I was most terrified of in life. When the time came, I never imagined I'd ever be able to die with dignity - I assumed I'd die screaming, like my Dad (who lost his life to a massive heart attack). But even as they cut into my groin to slip a stent into the lethal Widow-Maker, I was filled with a sense of calm. I've had a great life: loved by parents who raised me to become the individual I am. I've had a weird, wonderful career in all sorts of media, amazing friends, the best wife in the world and an incredible daughter who made me a Dad. But as I stared into the infinite, I realized I was relatively content.


    Amy Kuperinsky may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @AmyKup or on Facebook.


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    What we pick out to wear each day is a kind of uniform of our own choosing.

    When we think about people who regularly wear uniforms, our thoughts likely turn to military personnel, police, fire and rescue workers. Other professionals that might come to mind are doctors and nurses. But the list of vocations where employees don uniforms is lengthy.

    Let us consider employees in the food service industry, postal workers and people who deliver packages. And, although office workers don't wear uniforms, there was a time when the de facto garb at an office, for men, was a white shirt and black tie.

    shhs.jpgAlert: An unauthorized school uniform accessory violation, headwear section has been spotted! 

    Children wear uniforms to school and as members of scouting groups and organized teams. Adults who belong to organizations often were uniforms, too. Think of the distinctive hats worn by the Shriners or aprons worn by Freemasons.

    What we pick out to wear each day, whether we know it or not, is a kind of uniform of our own choosing.

    According to Dr. Karen Pine, professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, "When we put on an item of clothing it is common for the wearer to adopt the characteristics associated with that garment. A lot of clothing has symbolic meaning for us, whether it's 'professional work attire' or 'relaxing weekend wear', so when we put it on we prime the brain to behave in ways consistent with that meaning. It's the reason why we feel fitter in our sports clothes, or more professional in work wear."

    Here's a gallery of people in uniform and uniform attire in New Jersey, and links to other similar galleries you'll enjoy.

    Vintage photos of what people wore in N.J.

    Vintage photos of fashions and styles in N.J.

    Vintage photos of styles and fashions in N.J.

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