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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    Who is the top junior in N.J.? Have your say!

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    Sorrentino, who mentioned his relationship with longtime girlfriend Lauren Pesce -- aka Mrs. Situation -- on the MTV show, is also waiting to be sentenced for tax evasion.

    On last night's episode of "Jersey Shore," while the crew was on its "family vacation" in Miami, Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino informed everyone that he planned to propose to Lauren Pesce, his college sweetheart. 

    Just after the episode ended, Sorrentino, 35, tweeted engagement photos showing the reality star and Pesce, 32, on the boardwalk in Point Pleasant and at Pier Village in Long Branch.  

    "THE FUTURE MR & MRS SITUATION," he posted, along with photos taken for Us Weekly, which reports the engagement will play out in a future episode, of course.

    Sorrentino proposed to Pesce on Valentine's Day while she was visiting him in Miami, presenting a 3-carat diamond ring worth about $65,000.

    "It was really special for me to do this, to get down on one knee on 'Jersey Shore,'" he told the magazine.

    "GYM TAN WE'RE ENGAGED," Sorrentino shared on Instagram. 

    "It was really special and it really meant a lot to both of us that they wanted to be involved and put so much effort into wanting to make it perfect," Pesce told the magazine, speaking of Sorrentino's castmates. 

    In the series premiere of "Jersey Shore Family Vacation," the revival of the popular MTV reality series, Pesce and Sorrentino are seen living in a Long Branch condo. 

    But the happy news may prove bittersweet for Sorrentino. His announcement came just before he was scheduled to be sentenced for tax evasion. Now he'll have a bit more time before he learns of his fate. The sentencing, originally scheduled for April 25, has been postponed until June 20. 

    In January, the MTV celebrity, who went to high school in Manalapan, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of tax evasion as part of a plea deal. Sorrentino faced a 14-count indictment in the tax case. His legal troubles are a plot point in the revival. In the first episode, he had to stay home and miss a flight to Miami because of a court appearance, worrying that he wouldn't be able to film the show as planned. 

    "Jersey Shore Family Vacation" features a completely sober Sorrentino, which marks a stark departure from his previous behavior on the show (running head first into a wall, for instance). He may not have that signature abdominal "situation" anymore, but he's done away with the drugs and alcohol (mostly in favor of snacks).

    Sorrentino credited Pesce, who grew up in Holmdel and works as a Realtor-associate in Hazlet, for keeping him on a healthy path. He said he has known her for nearly 10 years, since college in 2009. (Sorrentino got a degree from Brookdale Community College but also attended Monmouth and Kean universities).


    I said YES [?] love you forever @mikethesituation [?] makeup: @lauren_damelio

    A post shared by Lauren Elizabeth (@lauren_pesce) on

    "I said YES love you forever @mikethesituation," Pesce posted on Instagram, with a picture of her wearing the ring. 

    In other "Jersey Shore" life events, another cast member, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, welcomed a baby girl with girlfriend Jen Harley on April 3. His susceptibility to temptation -- namely, cheating on his then-pregnant girlfriend, aka reverting to "Single Ronnie" -- has been a recent focus of the show. 

    Though the revival didn't draw the huge audience of "Jersey Shore" at the height of its popularity, "Jersey Shore Family Vacation" premiered to respectable ratings on April 5, claiming an average of 2.5 million viewers over two back-to-back episodes.   

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


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    See the players and teams that stood out this week across N.J.

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    DeVito, who grew up in Asbury Park, will get his very own state day, which lands on Nov. 17, his birthday. The actor is lobbying for the restoration of tax incentives for film production in New Jersey.

    All hail Danny DeVito, king of Asbury Park (sorry, Springsteen and Bon Jovi, but you've gotten more than your fair share).

    The New York Times reports that on Saturday, at the Asbury Park Music & Film Festival, Gov. Phil Murphy is set to announce that the veteran actor, a Monmouth County native, will get his own state day. The gesture is not without significance -- the actor will become the first person from Asbury Park to get their own day. 

    When exactly is Danny DeVito Day? Why, Nov. 17, the birthday of the man who would play Martini in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (alongside Jack Nicholson, who hails from Neptune City), animate the abrasive dispatcher Louie DePalma in "Taxi," team with Arnold Schwarzenegger for "Twins" and "Junior," become the Penguin in "Batman Returns" and "get weird with it" as Frank Reynolds on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."

    "I was very flattered," DeVito told the Times. "Of course, they first told me I could have a beach. Yeah, but they reneged. So I said, 'Oh, that's perfect. It's New Jersey.'"

    DeVito, 73, who was born in Neptune Township and grew up in Asbury Park, is a member of the New Jersey Hall of Fame, inducted in 2010, with the help of Bruce Springsteen.

    "He has Jersey attitude pouring out of him, even when he is standing still," Springsteen said at the ceremony. 

    On Saturday, DeVito will be in Asbury Park for a career retrospective as a headliner at the music and film festival (Wyclef Jean is another). 

    "Career retrospective is a lot of words, man," DeVito told NJ Advance Media in a recent interview, recalling the days when he worked at a boardwalk amusement park as a teen, snacking on hot dogs, candy apples, root beer, and French fries with vinegar and salt. "There's a lot of TV, lot of movies, a lot of stuff."

    DeVito, who would sneak into the Lyric Theatre when he was young to watch the movies "condemned" by his Catholic school teachers, told the Times he intends to lobby the state about reinstating tax incentives for film productions in New Jersey, which had been allowed to expire under former Gov. Chris Christie, who did not support their revival. 

    "Now that I'm an icon and have a Danny DeVito Day, I'm going to try my best to get the tax incentive passed in New Jersey so that we can make movies in New Jersey," said DeVito, whose production company is called Jersey Films (responsible for movies like "Man on the Moon," "Matilda" and "Erin Brockovich") and is run by the Jersey Group, the company he's operated with wife Rhea Perlman (they're now separated).

    DeVito isn't the only Jersey-bred celebrity to receive the "day" honor. Jon Bon Jovi and Bon Jovi recently got their own calendar day (April 14), to celebrate the band's induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It's probably only a matter of time before we get an entire Springsteen Season. 


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

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    Trees designated 'champions' are scattered throughout the Garden State in yards and fields, even cemeteries.

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    The top 60 juniors pitchers from across the state

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    The New Jersey-bred emcee went nuts (in a good way) at the Asbury Park Music and Film Festival

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    The 54-year-old driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

    A 54-year-old driver died early Sunday morning in a single-car crash on Route 18 in Colts Neck, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office said. 

    Colts Neck police responded to the accident just before 2 a.m. Sunday on Route 18 in the southbound lanes south of 537. They located a 2009 Mercedes Benz C350 on the scene. 

    Prosecutors said emergency responders pronounced the 54-year-old driver dead at the scene, and transported a 52-year-old passenger to a local hospital for non-threatening injuries. 

    The identity of the driver has not yet been released.

    Route 18 was closed for the majority of Sunday morning, but northbound lanes reopened as of 11 a.m.

    The southbound lanes remain closed while an investigation into the incident is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact Monmouth County Prosecutor's Det. Ryan Mahoney at 1-800-533-7443 or Colts Neck Police Det. Rich Zarrillo at 732-780-7323.

    Paige Gross may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @By_paigegross. Find on Facebook.


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    The 22nd annual Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon brought thousands to the shore the conquer the full and half marathons on a windy Sunday morning.

    The 22nd annual Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon brought thousands to the Shore to conquer the full- and half-marathons on a windy Sunday morning. 

    Chilly temperatures and light rain didn't stop runners from heading down the Monmouth Park Racetrack and pushing themselves along the course to end at Ocean Promenade in Long Branch. 

    Screen Shot 2018-04-29 at 1.47.49 PM.pngThe race day course map of the full marathon (courtesy of the New Jersey Marathon) 

    Although the sun made an appearance towards the end of the race that began at 7:30 a.m., many runners were wrapped in warming blankets as they dashed through Oceanport, Monmouth Beach, Long Branch, Deal, Allenhurst, Loch Arbour, Asbury Park and Ocean Grove.

    Despite the conditions, full marathon winner Leif Fredericks, of Garden City, Idaho,  managed to finish his first ever 26 mile marathon with a time of 2:23:56. 

    In the women's full marathon, Caitlin Phillips, of Brooklyn, New York, crossed the finish line first with a time of 2:41:43. 

    The half marathon winner was a Jersey native out of Princeton, Moath Alkhawaldeh, who finished with a time of 1:12:42. 

    However New York once again represented in the female race, as Leigh Gerson of NYC was the first woman to cross with a time of 1:23:15. 

    Social media posts show runners proud of their accomplishments. 

    The weekend was prefaced on Saturday with a beach-front 5K and kid's run. Other weekend events included a four-person marathon relay and full- and half-marathon wheelchair races. 

    For a full list of winners, results and times, visit

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

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    Pets throughout New Jersey await adoption from rescues and shelters.

    Here is this week's collection of some of the dogs and cats in need of adoption in New Jersey.

    We are now accepting dogs and cats to appear in the gallery from nonprofit shelters and rescues throughout New Jersey.

    If a group wishes to participate in this weekly gallery on, please contact Greg Hatala at or call 973-836-4922.

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

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    Reports of dog injuries from talons and close calls have raised concerns about hawk attacks in N.J. Here's what you need to know

    When the Facebook account for the Toms River Office of Emergency Management shared a harrowing tale of a close call involving hawks swooping around a 7-pound dog earlier this month, it clearly struck fear in the hearts of small pet owners.

    The post was shared nearly 20,000 times, and others quickly chimed in with accounts of close calls and injuries to pets.

    Earlier this week, the County Animal Clinic in Englishtown issued another hawk alert after a dog was found in an Aberdeen backyard with puncture wounds that required numerous stitches. Veterinarians suspected hawk talons inflicted the damage.

    "Please take these warnings seriously," the clinic urged. Both posts were accompanied by a red-lettered, all-caps "Hawk Warning" flier saying "This year the hawks really seem out in force off the east coast."

    A staffer at the clinic who answered the phone said this was the first such attack the clinic had seen in years.

    Here's the thing, though. That red-lettered "Hawk Warning" meme about this being a particularly "bad year" is not new. It's been kicking around social media for at least a few years.

    The Department of Environmental Protection, which manages state parks, has never issued any such warning. Pets are required to be on leashes in state parks anyhow.

    And experts say the anxiety over attacks by hawks or other raptors may be exaggerated, though they certainly understand the concern when even one or two cases of injuries get reported and shared.

    "We certainly have negative wildlife-human interactions. But they're overplayed to the point that it seems like it's a big problem or it's an epidemic," said Brooke Maslo, an assistant professor in Rutgers University's Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources.

    Pets in New Jersey likely face a greater threat from fellow ground-based animals than an attack from above, Malso said.

    "It's not like it will never happen," Maslo said of hawk attacks. "It's still a rare occurrence. I think that people should worry more about their dogs interacting with coyotes or raccoons or groundhogs." 

    Several hawk species in the state are endangered, and killing them can result in jail time and hefty fines. As conservation efforts to restore the populations have proven successful, New Jersey residents are seeing more hawks, Maslo said. 

    "Anecdotally, we have a lot more red-tailed hawks," she said, noting that those are likely the only ones large enough to even try to grab a dog. "In terms of interactions with humans, just like any wildlife species, the more individuals you have in the population, the more likely they are to have an interaction with humans in a densely-populated state like New Jersey." 

    But those hawks are unlikely to go after anything weighing more than 10 pounds, unless they get desperate for food. 

    The most dangerous times for dogs -- although Maslo says the risk is still extremely low -- is in late winter when there's less foliage to shield animals on the ground and less food to satisfy predators. 

    "The hungrier you are, the more likely it is for you to take a risk," she said.

    A French bulldog named Phoebe was attacked by a hawk in February - that late-winter danger time - and the 25-pound dog narrowly fought off the bird in Rumson in Monmouth County. But Phoebe didn't escape unscathed.

    The hawk sank its talons into Phoebe and dragged the dog across a driveway. Phoebe was too large for the bird to lift, but ended up with puncture wounds and scratches.

    "It's not very common at all that they would go for something as big as that," Chelsea Sims, a veterinarian tech who works at the hospital said. "That's the only one we've ever seen."

    Phoebe was lucky to survive the attack, as one of the punctures was close to a large vein, Sims said. She assumes the hawk was having trouble finding its normal meals, like squirrels and mice, in the cold weather.

    Though the risk is minimal and such attacks are rare, Maslo and other experts say small dog owners should keep an eye on their pets while outdoors, just to be safe.

    That's what Christine Newman, the coordinator of the Toms River Office of Emergency Management, had in mind when she shared her account of hawks circling her dog Snowball, eyeing him like "7-pounds of pure pepperoni."

    Her message wasn't meant as official warning and the office doesn't normally post messages about wildlife concerns, she said.

    "It was something that literally was experienced first-hand here," Newman said in a phone call this week. "Ours was purely a heads up."

    Malso said the concern should be balanced against the beneficial role a healthy hawk population plays in the environment.

    "I think it's hard for us to remember that wildlife plays many, many, many critical roles in quality of life," Malso said, noting that hawks help to curtail rodent populations, which can carry pesky insects like ticks. "It's just kind of thinking about what the actual level of risk is, and just taking steps to reduce risk in maintain the natural world."

    Amanda Hoover can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @amandahoovernj. Find on Facebook

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    Another new No. 1 - will this team hold the place?

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    The two-vehicle crash happened in Monmouth County, near milepost 107.3 in Tinton Falls

    An 82-year-old man was killed in a two-vehicle crash on the Garden State Parkway in Monmouth County early Monday, authorities said. 

    John Coombs, of Turner, Maine was hit from behind by a Lexus in the southbound express lanes at milepost 107.3 around 12:40 a.m., Trooper Alejandro Goez of the New Jersey State Police said. His Nissan Versa overturned into the grass median that separates the local and express lanes and Coombs was ejected. He later was pronounced dead.

    The driver of the Lexus was not injured and his two passengers suffered minor injuries. He is not facing any charges at this time.

    The express lane was closed for nearly three hours and two of the local lanes were closed for one hour, Goez said. 

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



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    A new meet record, the fastest American 4x400 team (again) and a run in the honor of an injured teammate. That and more from the 124th Penn Relays.

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    The 36-year-old was flown to Jersey Shore Medical Center Watch video

    The U.S. Coast Guard came to the rescue of a man who may have suffered a stroke aboard a fishing vessel about 35 miles off the coast of Manasquan Inlet on Sunday evening. 

    An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Atlantic City responded to the boat and hoisted the 36-year-old man aboard the aircraft with the help of Coast Guard Cutter Sitkinak, the Coast Guard said in a statement. 

    Coast Guard airlifts ill 71-year-old from cruise ship (VIDEO)

    He was flown to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune. An update on his condition was not available Monday morning. 

    The captain of the 44-foot fishing boat called Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay for help around 5:45 p.m. Three people were aboard the vessel. 

    The crew of the fishing vessel did a great job notifying the Coast Guard immediately after the incident," Lt. Spencer Grinnell said. "It was a challenging night hoist assisted by great coordination between Sector Delaware Bay and the Cutter Sitkinak."

    Sunday's operation came two days after a Coast Guard aircrew on Friday rescued a 71-year-old man who suffered possible kidney failure while on a cruise ship 51 miles east of Ocean City.

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


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    Highlighting big games around the state, from playoff races to crucial county tournament matchups.

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    He told a witness, "Help my girlfriend," as he fled the scene, police said. Watch video

    The man accused of leaving his girlfriend to drown in the car he crashed into the icy Delaware River in January has rejected an 18-year plea deal on his first-degree vehicular homicide charge.

    In Burlington County Superior Court Monday, Jacob T. Garrett, 24, stood in handcuffs, his thumbs hooked casually over the chain around his waist, as Burlington County Assistant Prosecutor Thaddeus Drummond said he could be looking at more than 20 years in prison on the most serious charge against him.

    Garrett's calm demeanor was a far cry from his last court appearance, when Garrett broke down, yelling that he couldn't "do this" and demanded to leave the courtroom.

    Authorities say he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when he caused the crash and abandoned his girlfriend of a year, Stephanie White, 23, of Burlington City, in the freezing water.

    'She hadn't even started her life,' mom says

    According to the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office, Garrett was driving fast near the river wall in Burlington City on the afternoon of Jan. 14 when his car struck another car and launched into the water.

    The vehicle was stuck fast in the ice, but the front-seat area was submerged, according to photos of the crash scene.

    Garrett got himself out of the car and was helped up onto land by at least one of the occupants of the vehicle he had just struck. But then he took off, telling the man, "Help my girlfriend," authorities allege.

    By the time emergency responders arrived, White, still belted into her seat, could not be saved. She died of hypothermia and drowning, according to the prosecutor's office.

    A police dog tracked Garrett's scent to the RiverLine train platform, and he was arrested on board at a nearby station, authorities said.

    He was ordered held pending trial on charges of vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of a fatal accident, causing death while driving with a suspended license and endangering an injured victim.

    His attorney, John Cirrinicione, entered not guilty pleas on Garrett's behalf.

    Vehicular homicide is usually a second-degree crime, with the potential for up to 10 years in prison. But Garrett faces a first-degree charge because the crash site was within 100 feet of a school, Drummond said in court Monday.

    Drummond said the state offered Garrett the 18-year deal before he was indicted, but it's no longer on the table. The offer now is 23 years, Drummond said.

    Typically, first-degree crimes are punishable by terms of 10 to 20 years, but Drummond said Garrett could get a longer term. State law says that if a defendant has certain past convictions or other qualifiers, the prosecutor can seek a "discretionary extended" sentence.

    Garrett, who worked as a forklift operator, has two previous indictable convictions for aggravated assault on a police officer and criminal sexual contact, plus two disorderly persons offenses, according to the prosecutor's office.

    White, a graduate of Freehold Boro High School in Monmouth County, loved her job at FedEx. She was helping her mother raise her foster kids. Nicknamed Birdy, she was soft-spoken, smart and always willing to help, her family said.

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

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    Where is the property tax pain most pronounced in your county and all the others? Here's the list.

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    Who's the best of the best?

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    A 500-square-foot home just one block from the beach or a waterfront home in Atlantic City?

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