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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    Another nor'easter storm is expected to dump up to 4 inches of snow in New Jersey

    For the third time this month, a nor'easter storm is bringing snow and gusty winds to New Jersey, forcing schools to call for closures and delayed openings. 

    The following Monmouth County schools are closed or have delayed openings for Tuesday, March 13. The list will be updated through Tuesday morning as announcements are made:


    • No announcements yet


    • Henry Hudson Regional - 2 hours
    • Highlands Elementary School - 2 hours
    • Keyport - 2 hours
    • Matawan-Aberdeen Regional - 90 minutes
    • Memorial Elementary School (Union Beach) - 2 hours
    • Monmouth Beach School - 90 minutes
    • Oceanport - 2 hours
    • Shore Regional High School - 2 hours
    • St. Jerome School - 2 hours 
    • West Long Branch - 2 hours

    If you know of any delays or closures not on this list, let us know in the comments.


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    The Paramus Park mall Sears is scheduled to close in early 2019.

    As Sears closes stores around the country -- 250 last year, more than 100 to shutter this year -- what will become of the empty spaces, especially anchor locations in malls? 

    stew-leonards-exteriorjpg-de349abfa4a518e1.jpgStew Leonard's "farm fresh foods" facades include a silo. (File photo)

    In the two-floor space at the Paramus Park mall, where Sears will close in early 2019, developers are suggesting a Stew Leonard's grocery store and a 13-screen movie theater with a bar, according to 

    Stew Leonard's operates three wine stores in New Jersey (in Springfield, Paramus and Clifton), but has not opened one of its signature grocery stores -- a farm-style supermarket with costumed employees and animatronic entertainment -- here yet.

    Last week, attorneys for the mall continued the process of asking the Paramus zoning board for several variances to make the vision come to life; the next hearing on the application is March 22.

    Sears will also close its auto center in the mall parking lot, but will maintain a smaller appliance store in that building, the report says. 

    There are approximately 1,250 Sears stores still in business nationwide, while in 2006, there were more than 3,400.

    The Sears at the Ocean County Mall in Toms River will close in early April and stores in Watchung, Vineland, Mantua and Manahawkin closed last year.

    The report says the Stew Leonard's would include a cafe and also sell wine, relocating its wine operation from elsewhere in the city to the new space.

    Stew Leonard's began 1969 in Norwalk, Conn. as a small dairy store and now has five locations in Connecticut and New York.

    Jessica Remo may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @JessicaRemoNJ. Find on Facebook.

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    Karon Council, who is charged with killing a 10-year-old boy in Asbury Park last month, will remain behind bars pending the outcome of his case.

    The man charged with killing a 10-year-old boy last month in Asbury Park fired five shots into a Ridge Avenue apartment as it was filled a dozen people, including several young children, an assistant prosecutor said Tuesday.

    An attorney for Karon Council, the man charged in the shooting, said his client had a beef with the boy's brother. 

    The possible motive in the Feb. 21 shooting, which also left the boy's mother wounded, was revealed during a detention hearing for Karon Council in which Judge Richard English ordered he remain jailed pending the outcome of the case. 

    Council, 18, is charged with murder in the death of 10-year-old Yovanni Banos-Merino. Yovanni's mother, Lilia Merino, suffered a gunshot wound to the leg and was treated and released from Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune. 

    Yovanni and Merino were inside a first-floor apartment in the home on the 400 block of Ridge Avenue when authorities say Council opened fire at the house

    Authorities previously said that Yovanni was not the intended target of the shooting. But the details of the alleged beef between Council and the victim's brother were not discussed at the detention hearing. 

    The affidavit of probable cause states just before the shooting, Council had been looking for a man named "Jameer" at the house. 

    Council and a 16-year-old knocked on the door of the apartment just before the shooting, the report said. A girl who answered the door recognized the 16-year-old from school, according to the report. 

    The teenager asked the girl where her boyfriend was, the report said. She responded by asking the teen who he was talking about and he said "Jameer," according to the report. 

    She told Council and the 16-year-old that "Jameer" was not home. The two then left the house but returned a short time later, the report said. 

    "At that time, Council pulled out a gun from his waistband and began to shoot at the house," the report noted. 

    It said multiple witnesses identified Council as the shooter. 

    The shooting was caught on a city surveillance camera, Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Matt Bogner said during the detention hearing. 

    The 16-year-old teenager, who was arrested at Neptune High School a day after the shooting, is also charged with murder. Authorities did not identify the teen because he is a juvenile. 

    Bogner said Council admitted his involvement in the shooting to a witness who then led authorities to where the handgun was located. The 9mm handgun was found in Council's aunt's house and the bullets in the chamber were consistent with the shell casings recovered at the crime scene, Bogner said. 

    Council, who faces life in prison without parole, fled the area but was located days later in South Florida. He was arrested by U.S. Marshal's and was brought back to Monmouth County to face the charges. He had his first appearance before Judge David Bauman in Superior Court on March 1. 

    According to Bogner, as the 16-year-old was being arrested in high school, Council left school and made arrangements to flee to Florida. He was driven down there by some friends, Bogner said. 

    In arguing for Council's detainment, Bogner stated that Council assaulted a school employee while he was a minor. 

    "There's a serious risk he will commit another serious offense," Bogner said. 

    Council's attorney, Paul Zager, stated that his client is a role model for other kids in his family and has aspirations of joining the U.S. Air Force. 

    "This is not your typical street thug involved in something gang-related," Zager said. 

    He said Council had recently gotten a job at the Exit 98 rest stop on the Garden State Parkway.

    Zager said Council's mother and father were never married but they are the "typical American extended family," adding that his parents are now involved in their own serious relationships but get together to celebrate holidays and other special occasions.

    "You could sleep at night if you released (Council) to the care of his mother with the appropriate conditions," Zager told English, adding that his client would be willing to wear an ankle bracelet and remain confined to his home in Neptune Township.

    Members of Council's family who were in the courtroom yelled "I love you" at the end of the hearing. Council, wearing a yellow jail-issued jumpsuit, acknowledged them before he was escorted out of the courtroom by sheriff's officers. 

    He is scheduled to be back in court on April 11. 

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

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    See the latest girls basketball Top 20 as the TOC looms.

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    The bust led to the arrests of 29 individuals, the seizure of 90,000 doses of heroin, 191 pounds of cocaine, 20 guns, 27 vehicles and $850,000 in cash, authorities say. Watch video

    One of three fugitives named in a massive drug bust in Ocean County that led to 29 arrests in seven different counties surrendered Monday.

    Lewis.jpgAkera Lewis, 27, of Newark.

    Akera Lewis, 27, of Newark, was arrested after she turned herself in and was charged with heroin possession and distribution.

    Her attorney, Adrienne Edward, was not immediately available to comment.

    Lewis is one of 28 others arrested in "Operation Heading Back," which led to the seizure of 90,000 doses of heroin, 191 pounds of cocaine, 20 guns, 27 vehicles and $850,000 in cash, Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato announced at a press conference on Friday.

    The massive bust received its name because it started with a drug transaction on a street in Lakewood and continued to work its way up north. The investigation encompassed seven New Jersey counties and New York.

    Coronato said it was the biggest bust in the history of the Ocean County's Special Operations Group, which formed in 1988. Capt. Jack Sramaty currently heads the team.

    There were no so-called "kingpins" of the drug ring, Coronato said. He said the "sophisticated" drug network utilized multiple lines of suppliers.

    Authorities also dismantled nine drug-making facilities in Bloomfield, Jackson, Parlin, Paterson, Plainfield and Piscataway (4).

    In one of the raids, authorities arrested Rasheed Sanders of East Orange after they found 8 kilos of cocaine and a loaded AK-47.

    At a detention hearing for Sanders, Judge Wendel Daniels in Ocean County Superior Court initially ruled for him to be released from jail with high-level monitoring.

    Prosecutors filed a motion to appeal the ruling, and also filed additional charges in the case -- certain persons not to have a weapon and unlawful possession of an assault rifled. Daniels ordered Sanders to remain jailed pending the outcome of his case at a second detention hearing on Tuesday. 

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

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    New Jersey's wealthiest counties are among the healthiest too, according to an annual survey by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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    Forecasters are keeping a close eye on yet another potential March coastal storm, which would be the fourth one to affect the New Jersey region since early this month.

    Here we go again...

    We're less than a week away from the official start of spring, we got clobbered by two big coastal storms in six days and we were brushed by a third coastal storm Monday night into early Tuesday.

    And now there's talk about a fourth storm system setting its sights on the East coast?

    If you're hoping it's an early April Fool's Day joke, it's not. Forecasters say there's a potential for a storm system to develop early next week and deliver more snow -- or a mix of rain and snow -- to the New Jersey region.

    Just like the last three storms that have pestered the Garden State since early March, forecasters say there's a high degree of uncertainty over the latest storm system because it's more than five days away from arriving and too many atmospheric factors need to play out.

    If this one does threaten our region, it would likely be sometime late Monday or Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service's regional forecast office in New Jersey.

    Lance Franck, a weather service meteorologist, said residents should be aware of the potential for stormy weather next week, but scores of questions need to be resolved between now and then.

    "There is another storm on the horizon, but the track, timing and intensity are uncertain," Franck said Wednesday afternoon. "The precipitation types and amounts are also uncertain."

    Franck said surface maps from the U.S. Weather Prediction Center, an arm of the National Weather Service, are projecting a storm system will move through the Ohio Valley region on Monday night and may redevelop off the Atlantic coast, near Delaware or Virginia, early Tuesday.  

    "In terms of where that redevelopment takes place, it's still uncertain," he noted. "And how much cold air will be in place north of that is uncertain."

    Study: More snow may be the new norm in N.J.

    Rob Reale, a meteorologist at the WeatherWorks forecasting company in Warren County, agrees too many wildcards are on the table at this time to make a solid prediction about next week's storm.  

    Reale is confident a storm will approach the New Jersey region next week, but he believes it will be "more of a classic west-to-east type of system" and likely not a powerful coastal storm like the previous string of storms that hit us in March.

    Still to be determined, he said, are how the storm sets up, whether it will have coastal characteristics, and whether temperatures will be cold enough to support all snow, all rain, or a mix of snow and rain.  

    As a forecaster from the National Weather Service said four days before the most recent coastal storm -- the one that ended up giving New Jersey a glancing blow and parts of New England a nasty blizzard -- stay tuned.

    Old Man Winter might not be finished with us just yet.

    Len Melisurgo may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @LensReality or like him on Facebook. Find on Facebook.

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    Looking for a place to go for a drink in New Jersey always allowed for lots of choices.

    If you're looking for a place to go for a drink in New Jersey ... where will you have the most choices?

    I guess it all depends on how you measure it.

    Per square mile? If that's your criteria, says that Hoboken's your place, and the Huffington Post confirms it: "The quaint little town once held the Guinness Book of World Record for having the most bars per square mile." That was around 2011, though; it seems to have since been beaten out by Oswego, N.Y.

    By population? A ranking on says that Wildwood has the most bars per capita in New Jersey followed by Atlantic City and Asbury Park.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    New Jersey doesn't even scare the top of the list when it comes to bars per capita as a state;'s stats show us ranked 29th, with North Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin and South Dakota leading the way.

    As you scroll through the photos in this and past galleries I've posted on New Jersey bars and taverns, some other questions might arise, such as which bar had the most barstools crammed into the smallest amount of floor space? That might just have been Littman's Tavern in Newark. Were there and are there places that didn't have bars? The most recent tally by, ironically, shows that 32 of the state's 565 municipalities are still alcohol-free, the 21st Amendment notwithstanding.

    Here's a gallery of places to go to hoist a glass from days gone by in New Jersey. Didn't see a personal favorite? Click on the links to the following galleries - there's a good chance you'll find it there.

    Vintage photos of taverns and bars in N.J.

    Vintage photos of bars and watering holes in N.J.

    More vintage photos of bars and taverns in N.J.

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

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    Meet the All-State girls athletes from the 2018 NJ winter track season

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    The jackpot for Saturday has jumped to $455 million

    While no one across the country hit Wednesday's $417.3 million jackpot, four worth $50,000 were sold in New Jersey.

    The tickets matched four numbers plus the Powerball and were sold at the following stores:

    • Speedy Mart on Somerdale Road in the Blackwood section of Gloucester Township
    • ShopRite Wines & Spirits on Old Route 22 in Clinton Borough
    • P & P Sweet Shoppe on Middle Road in Hazlet
    • ACME on West Bay Boulevard in Barnegat

    The odds of matching four numbers and the Powerball are 913,129 to 1.

    Wednesday's numbers were 6, 12, 24, 41 and 68. The Powerball was 9. The PowerPlay was 3x.   

    Two tickets bought across the country matched five numbers but not the Powerball. One was sold in Texas and is worth $1 million. A ticket buyer in South Carolina spent an extra $1 to exercise the Power Play option and won $2 million.

    The jackpot for Saturday's drawing has climbed to $455 million with a cash option of $269.4 million, making it the 11th largest prize in U.S. lottery history. 

    A Powerball ticket costs $2. The odds of hitting the jackpot are 292,201,338 to 1. Players have roughly a 1 in 11,688,053 chance to win the second prize of at least $1 million.

    The game is offered in 44 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find on Facebook.


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    Meet the All-State boys athletes from the 2018 NJ winter track season

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    Carrier Clinic, a century-old institution in the Belle Mead section of Montgomery, offers the full scope of inpatient, outpatient and residential treatment -- giving New Jerseyans fewer reasons to seek care outside the state, the CEOs said.

    Looking to expand its vast holdings in New Jersey to include more addiction treatment and mental health services, Hackensack Meridian Health announced Thursday it was exploring a partnership with Carrier Clinic in Somerset County.

    The two entities signed a "letter of intent" to explore how they may work together at a time when deaths from opioid overdoses remain at a record high, CEOs from both companies said in a prepared statement.

    "The opioid crisis is unprecedented in its scope and intensity and this partnership would enhance our efforts to be part of the solution,'' John K. Lloyd, Co-CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, said in a statement.

    "It would also deliver a team-based care approach to behavioral health patients who too often received fragmented care which doesn't yield the best outcomes.''

    For the 12-month period from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, 2,284 people died of an overdose in New Jersey, a 34.7 percent increase over the previous fiscal year, according to the CDC. Only Florida, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Ohio saw more significant increases.

    Carrier Clinic, a century-old institution in the Belle Mead section of Montgomery, offers the full scope of inpatient, outpatient and residential treatment -- giving New Jerseyans fewer reasons to seek care outside the state, the CEOs said.

    "This plan will create exceptional, comprehensive care at a time of great need for expanded, enhanced, and innovative behavioral health services,'' said Donald J. Parker, president and CEO of Carrier Clinic.

    "Hackensack Meridian Health and the Carrier Clinic have announced a letter of intent between the organizations to explore the Carrier Clinic joining Hackensack Meridian Health. Part of the due diligence is determining exactly what structure would emerge," Hackensack Meridian Health spokeswoman Mary Jo Layton said. "There are different options ... and they are all being explored."

    Hackensack Meridian acquires another hospital, now N.J.'s largest chain

    Carrier's facilities include a licensed 281-bed capacity hospital; the Blake Recovery Center, a licensed 40-bed inpatient and outpatient detox and recovery facility; East Mountain Youth Lodge, which can house up to 91 residents ages 13-18; and East Mountain School, a fully-accredited school for 120 middle-school and high-school students.

    Carrier Clinic employs nearly 1,000 people.

    Teaming up with Carrier would bolster Hackensack Meridian's growing portfolio of mental health services, the announcement said. It recently added 37 inpatient beds to its 150-bed capacity, and is starting two new psychiatry residency programs in July.

    "It continues our commitment to fully integrate behavioral health into our network for the benefit of our patients," said Robert C. Garrett, Co-CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health.

    The agreement is just the latest announcement in a long line of mergers and acquisitions in New Jersey's hospital landscape over the last decade. Hackensack and Meridian were two separate entities until their merger in 2016.

    Last week, Virtua Health, which owns three hospitals in Burlington County announced it was exploring an agreement to acquire the two hospitals in the Lourdes Health System in Camden and Burlington.

    NJ Advance Media Stephen Stirling contributed to this report.

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

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    There's a hole in the heart of Avon-by-the-Sea after the inn, which opened when Caldwell native Grover Cleveland was president, was demolished to make way for three houses

    Erin Mangan remembers walking into the Norwood Inn for the first time at 18 years old, and seeing her whole block seated at the wooden picnic tables, served by wait staff who knew what guests wanted before even sitting down.

    It embodied the sense of community in Avon-by-the-Sea, she said.

    But as of Thursday, there's a hole in the heart of Avon-by-the-Sea after the Norwood, which opened when Caldwell native Grover Cleveland was president, was demolished to make way for three houses.

    The Norwood Inn has been a landmark to Jersey Shore since 1888. Generations have spent summer days and nights dancing and feasting at the Norwood, as it's known to locals. 

    "The Norwood was more than just a place to go for food, drinks and entertainment, it was like home," Mangan said.

    Mangan's mother, along with dozens of others from the community, stood on Norwood Lane Thursday morning to watch the beloved hotel and bar be torn down.

    Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 4.01.23 PM.jpgThe demolition of the 120-year-old hotel began Thursday to make way for three houses. (Courtesy Matt Stragazzi) 

    The couple could not be reached for comment Thursday. Philip and Rose Renna, who owned the property for the past two summer seasons, made the business decision after realizing the property "reached its lifetime expectancy and can no longer be repaired," the couple's attorney told Star News Group.

    "It was sad to see it go but it was beyond saving," said Michael Lurch, who's father demolished the site. "I'm also pretty glad my father got to do it, it would feel wrong if someone out of town did it. It needed to be personal."

    The sale was announced in November 2017, followed by an auction of Norwood Inn relics in January.

    norwood demoo 1.jpgThe hotel was built in 1888, when President Grover Cleveland was in office. (Courtesy Kara Clarke Matunas)

    Mangan's mother purchased a rocking chair at the sale, ensuring she'd always have a piece of the Norwood with her.

    "It was honestly an amazing place to grow up going to," Mangan said. "I kept going through my adult life. My oldest is 7 now, and she grew up with the Norwood so that's nice."

    Former staff and residents congregated on the wooden steps on Jan. 20, celebrating years of success and memories.

    "I am truly going to miss the picnic table dinners with winds, half and halfs and lived bands such as Brian Kirk and the Jirks who loved to perform for their Norwood fans," Mangan said, "but most importantly, the sense of community that filled the air."

    norwood full demo 2.jpg(Courtesy Matt Stragazzi) 

    Sophie Nieto-Munoz may be reached at Follow her at @snietomunoz. Find on Facebook.

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    It will reopen after being closed for nearly three years due to structural and mechanical damages.

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    State Superior Court Judge Robert Contillo in Bergen County also delivered Horizon some good news by dismissing two of the claims.

    Three hospitals suing Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey will get their day in court to try to prove the insurance company "breached its duty to act in good faith" when it relegated them to a less desirable tier in a line of discounted health plans.

    In a ruling issued late Thursday, State Superior Court Judge Robert Contillo in Bergen County also delivered Horizon some good news.

    Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, Valley Hospital in Ridgewood and CentraState Medical Center in Freehold cannot pursue claims that Horizon violated their contracts when it assigned them to the "second tier" of OMNIA insurance plans.

    Since 2016, Policy owners save more money by using the nearly 40 hospitals "tier 1" hospitals, as chosen by Horizon, and pay larger co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses to use tier 2 hospitals.

    Contillo also dismissed the hospitals' claim that Horizon defamed them by assigning them to OMNIA's second tier. The status implies the hospitals excluded from tier 1 status supplied second-rate care, according to the lawsuit filed in December 2015.

    "The statements made by Horizon reflect Horizon's own opinions as to which hospitals were best suited for the OMNIA Tier 1 component of the OMNIA initiative. Those statements are non-actionable opinions," according to the judge's decision.

    Attorney Michael K. Furey, who represents Valley, CentraState and Holy Name, heralded as "a clear indication that the Hospitals have a strong case against Horizon and its ill-conceived OMNIA plan."

    "We are gratified the Court has recognized there is substantial evidence supporting our claim that Horizon breached its duty to act in good faith in the way that it selected, excluded the Hospitals from Tier 1 status, and steered (people) away from (the) Plaintiffs and other Tier 2 hospitals in favor of the largest systems," Furey said.

    The judge's decision allows the hospitals to make the case that agreed Horizon had "pre-selected the alliance partners, adopted a selection process that favored Horizon's pre-selections, and abandoned or de-emphasized the cost of care in the selection process," Furey said.

    Horizon loses battle with hospitals to keep OMNIA records secret

    Last summer, the state Supreme Court ruled Horizon must turn over a consultant's report that guided the company's choices on how it created the two tiers. 

    There were 238,000 people enrolled OMNIA, according to statistics Horizon shared last spring. Horizon has said the strong interest in the OMNIA plans show consumers are looking to save money while not skimping on coverage. Horizon reduced the average premium cost by 15 percent compared to its other products by requiring tier 1 hospitals to accept smaller reimbursements -- losses these hospitals expected to recoup in greater patient volume.

    Horizon spokesman Kevin McArdle said the ruling "is a win for Horizon's members. It casts serious doubt over the hospitals' ultimate ability to succeed on this claim at trial.  Horizon will continue its fight to offer affordable health coverage options to consumers."

    "What started over two years ago as a case brought by seven hospitals with six claims has been reduced to three hospitals with one claim," he added.

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

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    If there's a pot o' gold to be found this Paddy's Day, it will be probably be in the one of these towns.

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    Some districts would get millions more. Other would get flat funding.

    Gov. Phil Murphy's first state budget would boost funding for 546 school districts, with more than half of them seeing at least a 5 percent increase in state aid, according to new state data. 

    The Democratic governor this week called for a $283 million increase in direct aid to schools, bringing total state funding for districts to more than $9.6 billion.

    Exactly what would that mean for districts?

    It could be millions more or nothing at all, depending on a district's demographics and enrollment -- core aspects of the state's school funding formula. 

    Newark Public Schools would get the largest increase, $37.5 million more -- a 5 percent increase that would bring state aid to nearly $790 million. 

    Haworth Public Schools is set up for the largest percentage increase, 16.5 percent. But for a district that receives little state aid, that's only $37,306 more, not even enough to hire a full-time teacher. 

    Thirty one districts would receive flat funding, but Murphy may have done them a favor anyway. If strictly followed, the school funding formula calls for decreased funding to districts with declining enrollment or certain demographic changes. 

    Even with the increases, though, most districts are receiving less than they should under the funding formula. Murphy said he wants to close that gap over the next four years. 

    Check out the tool below to see what Murphy's budget means for each district. 


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

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


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    For nearly seven years, the Monmouth County SPCA has worked with several animal rescue organizations throughout Puerto Rico

    More than 300 dogs rescued from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico will soon be offered for adoption in New Jersey after being flown into the country last weekend.

    The dogs are being distributed among rescue organizations after 200 arrived at Atlantic City airport and another 100 at Newark airport, according to the Monmouth County Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

    "When we bring the animals over, they get adopted so quickly because people feel good knowing they saved an animal from a situation like that," Monmouth SPCA Executive Director Ross Licitra said Friday. "We're not only bringing relief to the animals, but to their owners as well who no longer have to worry if their pets can be taken care of."

    For nearly seven years, the Monmouth County SPCA has worked with several animal rescue organizations throughout Puerto Rico, bringing hundreds of dogs to New Jersey to be put up for adoption. Those efforts have increased after devastating hurricanes hit the island last September, the Monmouth County SPCA said. 

    The latest effort was organized by St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in Madison, along with Puerto Rican rescue groups El Faro de los Animales and Island Dog.

    "It's incredible to see so many organizations working together to save these animals," Monmouth County SPCA Animal Care Manager Kathy Miles said in a statement.

    Licitra said the Monmouth SPCA was fortunate to have had previous relationships with shelters in Puerto Rico, enabling them to ramp up rescue efforts after the storm.

    "A lot of the problem early on was getting flights in and out," Licitra said. "But we have been able to help out as much as we could not only in Puerto Rico but in Texas and Florida as well."

    The animals will be placed up for adoption after undergoing medical treatments and behavioral assessments, according to the MCSPCA. Licitra said additional rescues from Puerto Rico are likely.

    "We're going to keep going," Licitra said. "We ask the public to support as much as they can. We all need to come together on all aspects, helping both humans and animals."

    Alexis Johnson may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @alexisjreports. Find her on Facebook.


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    The Colts Neck home is located on nearly four acres of land and has seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms.

    After listing his 10,000-square-foot sprawling Colts Neck mansion for $3.6 million in November, Eric Casaburi, the founder and CEO of Retro Fitness, soon took the home off the market before 2018 hit.

    It didn't last long off the selling block. The mansion again popped up on the market on Friday, and this time at a discounted price.

    Now listed for $3.2 million, the home, which is located on nearly four acres of land and has seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms, is a "sprawling compound" that will give the next owner "elite status," according to the listing

    The massive home sits at the end of a long driveway and inside, it features "meticulously appointed millwork and stone work" throughout, creating spaces that are ideal for "elaborate entertaining."

    It wouldn't truly be the home of the founder of Retro Fitness if it didn't include a workout room stocked with the gym's branded equipment. (It's unclear if the equipment stays with the next owner.)

    And while the listing boasts about the interior of the home and its ability to entertain, the amenities outside of the home may exceed what is inside the four-sided brick mansion. The outdoor space features a sizable patio with an outdoor kitchen and top-end appliances.

    The "lavish" pool area is highlighted by multiple waterfalls, a skywalk bridge, a lazy river and a swim-up jacuzzi inside a waterfall grotto. There's a 50-inch television in there to enjoy as well.

    Property taxes for the home were $43,041 in 2017. Casaburi, and his wife, Kimberly, bought the home for $2.8 million in 2008, the year the home was built, according to property records.

    Casaburi, a Marlboro native who launched the first Retro Fitness gym in Ocean County in 2004 (there are now more than 60 New Jersey locations and more than 100 nationwide) and has opened five Let's YO! locations, also had a 2,330-square-foot beachfront home in Surf City on the market for $2.35 million last year. That home is now off the market.

    According to his website, Casaburi also has a home in Orlando where he vacations with his wife and his four children. Retro Fitness is a $150 million a year business that serves over 500,000 members across 17 states, his website says.

    Joe Atmonavage may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jatmonavageNJFind on Facebook

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