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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    NJ.com releases its final high school baseball rankings for 2018: The Top 50

    NJ.com Baseball Top 50 201852.JPG 

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    Now you can bet on sports in New Jersey as the state's seven-year fight officially comes to an end. Watch video

    You can now legally bet on sports, New Jersey.  

    Sports betting in the Garden State officially kicked off Thursday morning with Gov. Phil Murphy casting the first wager at a ceremony at Monmouth Park racetrack in Oceanport.

    "I'm betting $20 on Germany to win the World Cup, and $20 on the New Jersey Devils to win Lord Stanley's cup," Murphy said before placing the bet at about 10:33 a.m.

    The Massachusetts native assured the crowd that he would not bet on his home-town Boston Red Sox or on whether the Mets would win another game. 

    What he did bet on makes sense. Murphy is the former U.S. ambassador to Germany and a massive soccer fan. And the Devils are the last major pro team with New Jersey in their name.

    Betting was also slated to begin later in the morning at the Borgata casino in Atlantic City, and will go online within 30 days.

    The state's other race tracks and casinos also have future plans to offer sports betting. 

    You have to be 21 or older to place a wager in New Jersey.

    Thursday officially brought an end to New Jersey's seven-year, $9 million court battle to institute legal sports betting in the face of fierce opposition from major professional and college sports leagues.

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled ruled last month that a federal ban on such wagering was unconstitutional, allowing states across the U.S. to allow it.

    Until now, only Nevada -- home to Las Vegas -- had full-scale legal sports betting. New Jersey is the second state to launch since the court's ruling, after Delaware last week.

    All you need to know about sports betting in N.J.

    Hundreds, if not thousands, of people trekked to Monmouth Park on a work-week morning for the historic event.

    The track had become the face of the state's sports betting battle, having spent millions on the case and to prepare a sports-betting parlor.

    "It's a euphoric day," track operator Dennis Drazin said. "I always knew we'd get here. Every time we had a defeat, we found another angle. There was never a day we gave up."

    Former state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, the man who helped lead the fight for years, was also on hand -- decked in a New York Giants hat and France soccer jersey. The World Cup started Thursday. 

    "It was a long fight, with the odds against us," Lesniak, a Union County Democrat, told the crowd. "But New Jersey spirit and determination prevailed."

    Murphy had a similar message. 

    "We knew in our heads we were right," he said. "And we knew in our hearts that we would win. And we did."

    The new governor also thanked both Lesniak and former Gov. Chris Christie, whose administration spearheaded the case for seven years before Murphy took over in January. Christie was invited to the ceremony but did not attend.

    New Jersey hopes sports betting will boost the state's struggling casino and horse-racing industries, as well as provide the state with new tax revenue.

    State officials predict about $13 million in tax revenue the first year. Murphy said during a radio interview on WCBS 880-AM on Thursday morning that that figure is "a lot more modest than people would have guessed."

    "We'll take it, by the way," the governor added. "We could use every penny." 

    Murphy also noted that it hopefully will attract visitors who will spent a weekend in the area for major sporting events, spending money on hotels, restaurants, and shopping. 

    Daniel Wallach, a sports gaming expert, said "year one" will be a challenge but that New Jersey "has a chance to do better than expected."

    That's largely because Pennsylvania may not be ready to go with sports betting until football season and New York lawmakers are till considering legislation to implement wagering. 

    "This is a golden opportunity for New Jersey," Wallach said. 

    Joe Porcelli, a 65-year-old attorney from Hoboken, was in the crowd at Monmouth Park on Thursday because his job prevented him from placing bets illegally with bookies. Now, he can do it legally. 

    "Hopefully, they'll get a lot of people like me who wouldn't have bet before," said Porcelli, who was dressed in a New York Red Bulls golf shirt and placed bets on Portugal, Belgium, and Argentina each to win the World Cup.

    "Placing a bet legally can be a healthy thing," he added.

    Charles Rutkowski, a 32-year-old from Neptune, had off from work Thursday, so he showed up to place bets on future Yankees games -- while carrying his 10-month-old son Conor.

    Rutkowski said he isn't normally a customer at Monmouth Park.

    "I'll probably come some more now," he said. "I'm not a big fan of horse-racing. This is a little more appealing to me."

    As for what's next? The NFL is pushing for Congress to adopt national regulations for sports betting. 

    U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey has introduced legislation to update national gambling regulations and consumer protections, covering everything from sports betting to online wagering.

    "I think it's necessary to update the way we deal with gaming on the federal level," said Pallone, D-6th Dist., who represents the district where Monmouth Park is located. "New Jersey serves as an example. 

    NJ Advance Media staff writer Matt Arco contributed to this report.

    Brent Johnson may be reached at bjohnson@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @johnsb01. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.

     
     
     

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    Interested in betting on CFL Week 1 action or Nascar race? How about future betting on next year's NFL, NBA and NHL champions? Monmouth Park has those betting options and more as sports betting in New Jersey gets underway.


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    The occupants escaped uninjured

    A car erupted in flames on Interstate 195 eastbound in Upper Freehold Township Thursday morning, causing temporary traffic delays.

    The occupants of the vehicle, a group of young men, were not injured during the 10:45 a.m. fire near mile marker 10, the New Jersey State Police said.

    They walked further down the highway to escape the thick smoke.

    Upper Freehold firefighters extinguished the BMW moments after arriving. 

    Eastbound traffic was reduced to one lane to allow firefighters to work, causing temporary delays. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the State Police.

    Kevin Shea may be reached at kshea@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter@kevintshea. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    One person lost $5,000 on the Chicago White Sox. Others took Russia to beat Saudi Arabia and Germany to win the World Cup. The first day at Monmouth Park had thousands of sports bets, and here are some of the bettors' stories from Thursday, June 14, 2018 (6/14/18).


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    Here's how another state government shutdown would affect your life.


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    Check out the final ranking for the 2018 season.


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    Contestants perform during the opening night of the Miss New Jersey Pageant in Ocean City. Watch video

    Miss Coastal Shores Natalie Ragazzo, of Ocean City, Miss South Shore Jaime Gialloreto, of Woolwich Township, and Miss Seashore Line Kyra Seeley, of Middlesex, were the big winners during the first night of preliminary competition for the 2018 Miss New Jersey Pageant

    Ragazzo, 22, wearing a pink bikini, and Gialloreto, 19, wearing a peach bikini with blue trim, tied for the swimsuit award. Seeley took home the talent award for her Irish dancing routine.

    Miss New Jersey 2017 Kaitlyn Schoeffel opened the night with her dance routine that helped her to place second runner-up to Miss America 2018, Cara Mund. 

    The first of the night's competitions was the swimsuit portion, as 14 of the 28 contestants walked the stage before the judges. The same group finished the night out with the evening gown competition. The second group participated in the talent and on-stage question. 

    The swimsuit and evening gown portions of the Miss New Jersey pageant remain in place for this year's competition because the announced changes for the Miss America pageant came too late to be implemented at the state level. 

    The new leaders of the Miss America Organization decided to eliminate the swimsuit competition and revamp the evening gown portion when the 2019 Miss America pageant begins in September in Atlantic City.  

    The second night of preliminary competition begins Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at the Ocean City Music Pier. 

    Tim Hawk may be reached at thawk@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Instagram @photog_hawk and Twitter @photogthawk. Find NJ.com on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips.


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    Think you know the Jersey Shore? Here are 18 secret spots we bet you've never visited.


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    A law enforcement source told NJ Advance Media it appears their deaths were the result of a murder-suicide.

    Authorities on Friday made public the identities of the two men who were found dead inside their Long Branch home Tuesday night.

    Long Branch police found the bodies of Gerald Scarano, 63, and Harold Kelly, 48, after they responded to a house on Ocean Boulevard to check on the well-being of a person living at the home.

    A spokesman for the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office, Christopher Swendeman, said authorities have still not received the medical examiner's report and therefore cannot release any additional information.

    A law enforcement source previously told NJ Advance Media that it appears the deaths are the result of a murder-suicide.

    The relationship between the two men is unclear. Long Branch police said the two were known to each other.

    A neighbor told NJ Advance Media that Scarano was living with a roommate.

    Scarano, a well-known real estate agent in the area who was a regular at the city's council meetings, owned the Ocean Boulevard home and was trying to sell it.

    Scarano, neighbors said, was a "very nice guy" who would lend a hand to whoever needed it.

    "He was a very well-liked man, well-known," one neighbor said, adding that Scarano gifted her a poinsettia during Christmas time.

    Alex Napoliello may be reached at anapoliello@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    As prom season winds down, NJ.com compiled a collection of some of the wildest, unique and fun moments from many of the events.


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    The second night of competition was held at the Music Pier in Ocean City. Watch video

    For the second night in a row, Miss South Shore Jaime Gialloreto, of Woolwich Township, walked away a winner in the 2018 Miss New Jersey Pageant at the Music Pier in Ocean City. 

    Gialloreto, 19, won over the judges with a jazz dance to "Natural Woman." On opening night, she tied with Miss Coastal Shores Natalie Ragazzo, of Ocean City, in the swimsuit competition. 

    In Friday night's swimsuit competition, Miss Northern Lakes Jessica Ervey, of Andover, wearing a sea green bikini, was the winner.

    Tonight, the top 10 contestants -- selected by six judges -- will compete to wear the crown of Miss New Jersey and represent the state in the 2019 Miss America Competition in Atlantic City in September.

    The talent winner on the first night of competition went to Miss Seashore Line Kyra Seeley, of Middlesex, for her Irish dancing routine. 

    Other awards on opening night included the second runner-up Community Service award given Miss Avalon Lauren Staub, who also picked up the third runner-up parade award for her "Marie Antoinette" theme. The Children's MiracleMaker Award went to Miss Eastern Shore Madison Welsh.

    The final night of competition begins Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Ocean City Music Pier. 

    Tim Hawk may be reached at thawk@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Instagram @photog_hawk and Twitter @photogthawk. Find NJ.com on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips.


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    Authorities are investigating the death

    Police pulled a body from under the boardwalk in Belmar Saturday morning. 

    The man, whose name or hometown has not been released, died of an apparent overdose where Ninth Avenue meets the beach, according to Belmar Mayor Brian Magovern. 

    Authorities are investigating the death, Magovern said. 

    Police raised a white sheet between two benches on the boardwalk as the county medical examiner snapped photos of the taped-off scene Saturday morning. The area was clear by 8:15 a.m.

    Local and county authorities did not immediately return calls for further details. 

    Craig McCarthy may be reached at 732-372-2078 or at CMcCarthy@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @createcraig and on Facebook here. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    The accident happened in Colts Neck shortly before 9:30 p.m.

    A Scotch Plains man died Friday night after crashing on a highway in Colts Neck, authorities said.  

    The 42-year old man was driving getting onto Route 18 from Route 34 when he crashed into a median guardrail around 9:20 p.m., Colts Neck police officials said in a statement posted on Facebook. 

    The driver, who police identified as Robert Jeans, died on the scene. Three other people in the vehicle were treated for minor injuries and transported to local hospitals.

    As a result of the crash, southbound lanes on were closed for the majority of Friday night. 

    The investigation is being conducted by the Colts Neck Police Traffic and Detective Bureaus. If anyone witnessed the accident, they are asked to contact Patrolman Savage at 732-780-7323 or trafficsafety@coltsneckpolice.com.

    Taylor Tiamoyo Harris may be reached at tharris@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @ladytiamoyo.

    Find NJ.com on Facebook  

     

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    Dan Dean lived on the now-decommissioned base while his father commanded the signal school, and he now plans to buy his family's redeveloped officers' quarters.

    In 1972, when Dan Dean was 17 and his father was newly stationed at the Army Signal Center School at Fort Monmouth, he claimed the attic of the two-family house where his family would be living on the base. 

    "I painted the pipes and the trim all red, white and blue," said Dean, 63, a retired federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission official now living in Maryland.

    Last December, after Dean heard that the officers' quarters on the decommissioned base were being redeveloped for sale as private homes, he took a nostalgia tour with an eye toward investing in a unit with his two sisters, who had also lived on the base. He was already transfixed by the visit to his old house 45 years later, when he climbed the attic stairs to have a look.

    "And there they were," he said of the painted pipes. "Still the same." 

    And that pretty much sealed the deal.

    Fort Monmouth Danny Dean NYT story DD.jpgDan Dean said this profile of him as a 13-year-old newsboy ran in the 'Monmouth Message' circa 1968. (Courtesy Dan Dean) 

    Dean's former home at Fort Monmouth is now part of East Gate, where APM Development Group of Montclair is converting the officers' quarters into a residential community of 68 townhouses, duplex apartments and single family homes, now selling fast at prices up to $750,000, project officials say. 

    Phase II of East Gate, which includes Dean's house, goes on sale this weekend, when he'll be back on base looking to make a deal. All 20 units of Phase I sold out after going on the market this spring, said Dave Schoener, a vice president for Coldwell Banker New Homes, the project's broker. Buyers should begin moving into Phase I by September, Schoener said.

    Dean is far from the only potential buyer who had lived or worked on the base.

    "On April 28, when Phase I began selling, 300 people turned out and many of them were veterans," Schoener said.

    He said many were military or civilian personnel who had lived or worked on the base prior to its official closing on Sept. 15, 2011, after it was deemed non-essential by the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission. The base is now controlled by the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority, which developed a master plan calling for a broad range of uses: 1,585 housing units; 300,000 square feet of non-profit, government and educational space; 500,000 square feet of retail; and 2 million square feet of office, research and commercial space.

    Ft Monmouth house interior RPM.jpgA model interior at East Gate, a residential development at decommissioned Fort Monmouth  

    The East Gate project, named for the base's eastern entrance on Oceanport Road, involves complete interior renovations of the officers' quarters, featuring open floor-plans, modern kitchens and hard wood floors. Schoener said prices start at around $400,000, with the highest bid so far being $750,000 for a single-family house. 

    The base commander's house, whose occupant held a general's rank, is expected to fetch seven figures, Schoener said. 

    The century-old Army base was placed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places in 2014, so the red brick exterior of the houses is being refurbished but unaltered, Schoener said. RPM couldn't even add window shutters, he said.

    Fort Monmouth was established just prior to the U.S. entry into World War I in 1917, and hosted research and development of military communications and other technology, including a well-known training facility for homing pigeons, finally discontinued in 1957.

    In a statement, Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority Director of Real Estate Dave Nuse credited RPM's "expertise in integrating modern amenities into historic rehabilitation." 

    "We look forward to welcoming the first new residents to the Fort Monmouth Historic District."

    Dean said he was an Army brat who was born at Fort Zama in Japan and lived on bases around the world, including three separate stays at Fort Monmouth, where his father, Col. Gernard D. Dean, had various assignments, and young Dan played baseball on the parade ground and delivered newspapers on his bike.

    "If you're a military brat, you grow up in a completely insulated society," said Dean, who is not a military veteran, but whose wife is a former Army sergeant. Every afternoon on base, Dean added, "when they started playing the music for lowering the flag, everybody stopped. Everyone put their hand over they're heart when they lowered the flag. That's something you would never see anywhere else."

    Steve Strunsky may be reached at sstrunsky@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveStrunsky. Find NJ.com on Facebook


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    Pets throughout New Jersey await adoption in shelters and rescues.

    Some fun and interesting facts about cats and dogs from Nationwide pet insurance:

    * Dogs only sweat from the bottoms of their feet, the only way they can discharge heat is by panting. Cats do not have sweat glands.

    * Dogs have about 100 different facial expressions, most of them made with the ears.

    * A cat can jump as much as seven times its height.

    * Dogs do not have an appendix.

    * Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds, while dogs only have about ten.

    * Using their swiveling ears like radar dishes, experiments have shown that dogs can locate the source of a sound in 6/100ths of a second.

    * A cat's tongue is scratchy because it's lined with papillae--tiny elevated backwards hooks that help to hold prey in place.

    * When faced with the choice of going the way around something that untangles herself or the way that makes it worse, my dog will choose the wrong way 101 times out of 100.

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


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    Who were the best of the best?


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    Who's the best of the best?


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    A trial for Liam McAtasney, who is accused of killing Sarah Stern, was scheduled to start in September. But a judge said on Monday that's likely not going to happen.

    For more than a year, Michael Stern has repeatedly returned to the first row of a dimly lit courtroom in Freehold waiting for justice to be handed down to the man accused of strangling his 19-year-old daughter and then throwing her body off a Jersey Shore bridge in 2016.

    On Monday, Stern learned that he's likely going to have to wait even longer than anticipated to find out if justice will be served. 

    "It's frustrating," Stern told NJ Advance Media outside the courtroom. "Time gets extended. It's hard. My life stands still."

    Liam McAtasney, a 20-year-old who was one of Sarah Stern's childhood friends, is accused of killing her during an apparent robbery and then dumping her body off the Route 35 bridge in Belmar in December 2016.

    An alleged accomplice and another childhood friend, Preston Taylor, 20, has already admitted his role in the killing and agreed to testify against McAtasney.

    McAtasney's trial was scheduled to start on Sept. 15, but that date will likely be bumped, Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Richard English said.

    For one, defense attorney Carlos Diaz-Cobo took over from defense attorney Richard Moriarty in March after months of pre-trial motions had already occurred. And with the state's new speedy trial laws, other cases have deadlines that will take precedent, English said.

    Diaz-Cobo said he needs more times to comb through the evidence against his client and conduct his own investigation.

    Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Meghan Doyle said, "it's not our problem that he is late into this case," referring to Diaz-Cobo. She then lambasted him for claiming that technical difficulties had made it hard for him to get through the entire discovery file.

    "The state is only asking for the court to enforce speedy trial rules which require dates for deadlines," Doyle said.

    The judge was receptive to Diaz-Cobo's request for more time to review. The two parties will be back in court on July 30 to discuss the progress.

    Meanwhile, Michael Stern will be waiting, taking things one day at a time, as he has since the news broke that two of his daughter's longtime friends were allegedly responsible for his daughter's death.

    "It's a nice day," he said, "we'll try and enjoy it."  

    Alex Napoliello may be reached at anapoliello@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    N.J. athletes shined over a three-day stretch at nationals.


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