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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    Cast your vote in one of four regional polls narrowing down the best downtown in all of New Jersey

    What's the best downtown on the Jersey Shore?

    In one of four regional polls being taken by NJ Advance Media, readers are being asked to name the best, or simply their favorite, downtown along or near the Shore -- and by that we mean in Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic or Cape May counties.

    The top vote-getters in each of the four polls -- the other three are for North, Central and South Jersey -- will then face off in finalist rounds of voting that will ultimately crown the top downtown in the whole Garden State.

    What do we mean by the best downtown?

    Well, a great downtown might well include a mix of homes and businesses; restaurants, bars, movie theaters and music venues; access to mass transit; or adequate parking. It might also have parks or promenades; wide sidewalks for strolling or outdoor cafes; shade trees; bike lanes, locks or sharing; water fountains. Cleanliness and friendliness might be variables. Architecture, public art and other aesthetics could factor in.

    For folks down the Shore, "downtown" might be synonymous with boardwalk. So maybe wood or recycled plastic planks are criteria, along with amusement piers, arcades, mini-golf and ice cream parlors.   

    Whatever it is you like in a downtown, make your voice heard, and vote. Polls are open right here, right now. You can vote once per day. This round of voting closes Tuesday, Oct. 16, at 9 a.m.

    To vote in other regions around the state, click below:

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

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    Check out the 18 football players that earned Player of the Week honors for Week 5

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    Thousands flocked to Englishtown to get down and dirty in obstacle-filled endurance races

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    The runner was hit on mile 10 of the race and stunned. But she was able to finish after getting medical attention

    A runner who was struck by a deer during a half marathon in New Jersey still managed to cross the finish line.

    Christina Sanchez tells the Asbury Park Press she was on Mile 10 of the Jersey Shore Half Marathon at Sandy Hook on Sunday when a large buck took her out.

    Sanchez says the deer came dashing out of the woods and struck her in a "blur of brown and white fur."

    The Fair Haven woman was knocked down before the deer sprinted back into a wooded area near Gunnison Beach. She received attention from emergency personnel who gave her the OK and encouraged her to finish the race.


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    One of the winning tickets was a Jersey Cash 5 ticket totaling $387,391 that was sold in Monmouth Beach.

    Three winning New Jersey Lottery tickets totaling nearly $450,000 were sold in Monmouth County last week.

    The biggest winner was a Jersey Cash 5 ticket totaling $387,391 that was sold Friday at Monmouth Beach Supermarket & Liquors, 73 Riverdale Ave., Monmouth Beach.

    The winning numbers were: 13, 26, 39, 40 and 43 and the XTRA number was 2. 

    "We are thrilled that the winning jackpot ticket was sold at Monmouth Beach Supermarket & Liquors," New Jersey Lottery Acting Executive Director James Carey said in a release. "The retailer will receive a bonus check for $2,000 for selling the winning ticket."

    Another person who purchased a Powerball ticket in Long Branch will be walking away $50,000 after matching four of the five white balls and the Powerball drawn on Saturday.

    It was was sold at Sungate Mini Mart, 427 Prospect St.

    The winning numbers were 1, 22, 27, 53 and 67. The Red Power Ball number was 15. The Multiplier number was 3. 

    The third winning ticket was a third-tier Mega Millions ticket where four of the five white balls and the Powerball drawn were matched on Friday.

    The ticket, worth $10,000, was sold at the ShopRite at 1801 Route 35, Belmar.

    The winning numbers were 27, 28, 32, 41 and 69. The Gold Mega Ball was 12, and the Megaplier Multiplier was 2.

    With nobody matching all six numbers, the Powerball jackpot rolled to $282 million for the next drawing that will be held Wednesday at 10:59 p.m.

    The Mega Millions jackpot climbed to $470 million, the sixth highest Mega Millions jackpot in history. That drawing will be held Tuesday at 11 pm. 

    Chris Sheldon may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @chrisrsheldon Find on Facebook.


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    The only major party in the world that is indifferent to the fate of our planet. Vote accordingly. Watch video

    Twelve years. That's the time we have to make drastic reductions in our fossil fuel consumption or we will reach a tipping point in the fight against climate change, and if humanity blows this deadline, the results will be biblical. 

    A UN report released Monday said that without sweeping global intervention, we can expect more floods and rising sea levels. More food shortages and more poverty. More extreme weather, wildfires, and droughts. The endangerment of hundreds of millions of lives, and a global refugee crisis.

    The only way it can be addressed, the climate scientists say, is with an unprecedented political will, which is why environmental stewardship should be a precondition for anyone seeking elected office in 27 days.

    The problem is you cannot find a GOP House candidate from New Jersey who has shown much of that will lately: Their environmental records - on cap and trade, carbon tax, and President Trump's demolition of regulations on coal or auto emissions - are generally disqualifying with the livability of our planet at stake.

    They have two choices: They can acknowledge the scope of this massive challenge, and admit that this UN report means changes to how we live, how we eat, how we develop cities and agricultural systems, and "unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society."

    Or they can be part of the Vichy Republicans who tolerate the environmental nihilism of a president whose morbid affection for coal is the head-scratcher of our time.

    Most signs point to the latter.

    Trump says the planet's screwed, so let's burn as much fossil fuel as we can | Editorial

    We have no idea how Assemblyman Jay Webber, a candidate in the 11th District, feels about Trump repealing the Clean Power Plan and withdrawing from the Paris Accord?

    We don't know how Rep. Chris Smith feels about creating a resilient coastline to deal with sea level rise in his 4th District, which could drown Fair Haven to Bay Head on any given day?

    As for Tom MacArthur, tethered to Trump in so many ways, nothing on his website shows an awareness of the sea level rise that threatens to wash out the entire Eastern part of his 3rd District, either.

    The war on coal has ended. Now comes the war on breathable air | Editorial

    None have shown the backbone to defy a president who has destroyed virtually every environmental regulation that has the term "Obama era" attached.

    The logical way to cut emissions is to enact a carbon tax, which would make the cost of fuels for power plants and vehicles reflect the damage they do to the atmosphere. But in June, New Jersey's five GOP representatives all voted for a resolution that opposed putting a price on carbon. The resolution passed, probably because a no-vote means that the Americans For Prosperity will carpet-bomb their TV market with campaign ads that equate a carbon tax with the apocalypse.

    The only GOP candidate to respond to questions was Leonard Lance (R-7th), who had supported cap-and-trade before the rise of the Tea Party, which is especially galling. Now he opposes a carbon tax and cap-and-trade, he believes the Obama auto emissions standards were "too lofty," and he voted to repeal the Clean Power Plan, which is a tacit cheer for coal's revival.

    That's not political will. That's not someone who recognizes the need for a Marshall Plan for Planet Earth. And that's not someone who, as the UN report said, understands the "rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society" required to keep the planet from warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

    So until they prove otherwise, the majority party is indifferent to the fate of our children and grandchildren, because its current policy is that climate change doesn't exist.

    This won't change if we elect the same mediocrities who ignore this impending disaster for political gain, year after year. And when it's too late, we'll get exactly what we deserve.

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

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


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    A look at the fab frosh throughout the Garden State.

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    The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management said 47 task force members, 14 vehicles and six boats were sent to Alabama Watch video

    As Hurricane Michael bears down on Florida as a monster Category 4 storm, members of New Jersey Task Force One deployed south Tuesday night to assist with search-and-rescue operations.

    The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management said 47 task force members, 14 vehicles and six boats were deployed to Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama.

    The office posted video of the task force leaving its headquarters in Wall, Monmouth County on Tuesday night. The team, which had recently returned from assisting with Hurricane Florence recovery, is made up of police, fire and emergency medical personnel.

    The task force members are skilled in a variety of search and rescue operations including swift-water rescue, which will allow them to conduct rescue operations in flooded areas.

    All costs associated with the deployment will be fully reimbursed by FEMA, according to the state office of emergency management.

    Hurricane Michael is expected to make landfall along Florida's northeastern Gulf Coas as a Category 4 storm on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

    A Category 4 or stronger hurricane has never made landfall in the Florida Panhandle, the weather service said.

    Catastrophic storm surge and destructive winds are expected at or near the landfall site in the Florida Panhandle.

    More than 1 million power outages are expected and significant rainfall flooding is also a significant threat inland into the Carolinas, according to the National Weather Service.

    Anthony G. Attrino may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TonyAttrino. Find on Facebook.


    0 0 identifies these 36 games as can't-miss affairs for Week 6

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    They'll arrive with in an hour if you live in many towns in north, Central Jersey and are a Prime member

    Whole Foods customers in north and Central Jersey who are also Amazon Prime members can now get groceries delivered to their homes.

    Delivery will be available in as little as an hour through Amazon's Prime Now app, according to an announcement Tuesday. 

    "Our goal is to cover as many Prime customers as possible with this new service in New Jersey," Prime Now Head of Business Development Tanvi Patel said in a statement.  "Today we're excited to reach customers in North and Central New Jersey."

    Delivery will be available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

    Is an Amazon Prime membership worth paying for?

    Among the places where home delivery is now available are:

    • Basking Ridge
    • Clifton
    • Edison
    • Elizabeth
    • Fairfield
    • Freehold
    • Holmdel
    • Mahwah
    • Montclair
    • New Brunswick
    • Newark
    • Paterson
    • Princeton
    • Ridgewood
    • Somerset
    • Trenton
    • Union
    • Wayne

    A spokeswoman didn't immediately reply to a message from NJ Advance Media asking for a full list of towns. 

    Amazon also announced that it's expanding the curbside pickup option to Dayton, Ohio as well as Louisville and Omaha. That service include eight areas, but not yet New Jersey. More locations are expected to be added later this year. 

    Amazon delivers Whole Foods products to 53 areas. 

    Whole Foods delivery is also offered through Instacart. Wegmans, Whole Foods, Costco, CVS and Petco products can also be delivered to customers' homes through Instacart in select towns. 

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



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    A fresh batch of group and conference rankings for NJ football is out. Where is your team ranked?

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    Jeffrey S. Williams was convicted of shooting Hector Mejia after he awoke during a botched robbery attempt.

    A jury has convicted a Long Branch man accused of fatally shooting a man who awoke during a botched robbery attempt.  

    Jeffrey S. Williams, 30, was found guilty of first-degree felony murder, reckless manslaughter and weapons charges on Friday following a four week trial in Monmouth County Superior Court. Williams was acquitted of a first-degree armed robbery charge.

    He faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on Dec. 7.

    Williams was accused of shooting to death Hector Mejia, 47. Mejia's body was found by his estranged wife on her front porch on Liberty Street shortly before midnight on July 16, 2017. She told police that Mejia was at her house to drop off money for her and their children.

    Williams was arrested four days later.

    Testimony at trial revealed that Williams and several others were hanging out near the corner of Central Avenue and Liberty Street when they saw an older man sleeping on the front porch of a home. Williams and two others approached the man and tried to rob him as he slept.

    Mejia awoke, reacted to the men robbing him, and was shot by Williams.

    Mejia's wife discovered his body about 20 minutes later. 

    Williams faces 30 years to life in state prison for the felony murder charge, and up to 10 years for each second-degree charge -- reckless manslaughter, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and unlawful possession of a weapon.

    The case was prosecuted by assistant Monmouth County prosecutors Christopher Decker and Nicole Wallace. Carlos Diaz-Cobo and James Greenberg represented Williams.

    Prior to the shooting, Williams filed a civil lawsuit against the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office and a detective with the office. Williams was a passenger in a car that was chased by an off-duty prosecutor's office detective. The car eventually crashed, causing Williams to have "severe and permanent injuries," according to the lawsuit. 

    The lawsuit was dismissed earlier this year. 

    Diaz-Cobo did not respond to a phone call seeking comment, but he told the Asbury Park Press he plans to file a motion to dismiss the felony murder count.

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

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    Their trial had been expected to begin this week.

    Two men charged in the May 2016 killing of NJIT student Joseph Micalizzi took plea deals Wednesday on the eve of their murder trial in Newark.

    Taquan Harris, who admitted having fired the fatal shots, pleaded guilty before Superior Court Judge Ronald D. Wigler to a first-degree charge of aggravated manslaughter and a second-degree charge of unlawfully possessing a firearm.

    Micalizzi, a 23-year-old Freehold native, was killed May 2, 2016, during an early morning robbery at the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity house on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

    Answering questions from his defense attorney intended to establish his guilt, Harris admitted he had pointed a revolver at Micalizzi when he encountered him in a third-floor bedroom. That sparked a struggle which ended with Harris firing three shots.

    "You understand that at least one of the shots that hit him was the cause of his death, right," attorney Michelle Treiber asked, as Micalizzi's family and friends could be heard sniffling in the courtroom gallery.

    "Yes," Harris responded, looking down at his feet.

    Essex County homicide investigators arrested Harris and his co-defendant, Nafee Cotman, later that same week on charges of murder, robbery, burglary and other offenses in connection with Micalizzi's slaying.

    Cotman on Wednesday pleaded guilty to a single count of first-degree robbery, admitting he had tried to take the engineering student's belongings while Harris threatened Micalizzi with a revolver.

    Opening statements in their trial had been scheduled to begin this week.

    The Essex County Prosecutor's Office has asked Wigler to sentence Harris to 26 years in prison and Cotman to 12. Wigler said Cotman's attorney, Jonathan Gordon, had indicated he would seek a lesser sentence of 10 years in state prison.

    The state has agreed to dismiss the remaining charges against the two men as part of the plea agreements. Wigler scheduled both Harris and Cotman for sentencing on Nov. 27.

    Note: The headline has been corrected to reflect that while Harris pleaded guilty to manslaughter, Cotman only pleaded guilty to robbery.

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriartyFind on Facebook

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    Complete list of N.J. boys soccer players that have committed to play at the next level

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    Aldi opened its first New Jersey store last year and is poised for a rapid expansion with three store openings by the end of November

    German discount grocer Lidl is set for a big expansion in New Jersey in the coming weeks with three new stores opening after the company's first location in the state opened last year .

    The series of openings include:

    • 136 Route 35 in Eatontown on Oct. 31
    • 2375 Route 22 in Union on Nov. 14
    • 297 Route 25 in Hazlet on Nov. 28

    All stores will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and will feature six wide aisles and natural light, the company said in a statement. The bakery will be located in the front of each store.

    At each store opening, the first 100 customers will be presented with a wooden coin redeemable for a gift card ranging from $5 to $100 each. All have a full slate of opening weekend festivities.

    Lidl is considered a prime competitor to Aldi in the smaller format, discount grocery store business.

    Lidl has 10,500 stores in 28 countries. There are stores in seven U.S. states (New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia).

    The only New Jersey location is in Vineland. There were plans to build stores in other South Jersey locations, but none have come to fruition. 

    "We are looking forward to taking our next steps in New Jersey with these three new stores, " a Lidl spokeswoman said in an emailed statement when asked about plans that stalled.  "Over the near term, these communities, along with Vineland, will be our focus in the state. As new projects progress in New Jersey, we will be in close contact. "

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

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    A look at some of the top sophomores around the state so far in 2018.

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    A Jackson woman who suffers seizures says her trained service dog was kicked out of an Ocean County hospital in an incident that may have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    A Jackson woman who suffers seizures says her trained service dog was kicked out of an Ocean County hospital, even threatened by staff with a trip to the pound, in an incident that it appears may have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    Nicole Sorchinski was transported to Ocean Medical Center on Saturday after suffering a seizure that her 3-year-old service dog, Nala, detected. Roughly 20 minutes after arriving, a nurse told Sorchinski that Nala had to leave.

    "[The nurse] said that Nala wasn't welcome here. She pointed at her watch and said, 'you have 15 minutes or I'm calling animal control and she's going to the pound for the night,'" Sorchinski said.

    The 27-year-old said her service dog detects seizures, which are triggered by a traumatic brain injury she suffered in a 2015 car accident. Nala, a pitbull, circles Sorchinski three times and nudges her before an episode.

    Sorchinski said Nala's breed contributed to why nurses evicted the dog, which a friend came to pick up. Sorchinski said that she was so emotionally distraught, she left shortly after without receiving medical attention.  

    43579717_721636744865238_3083662342433538048_n.jpgNicole Sorchinski and Nala. (Photo provided) 

    "They weren't even concerned about my seizure, they were concerned about the dog. I felt unsafe, like if this is how they're going to treat my service dog, how will they treat me in my care?" she said.

    She said she was even more shocked the dog was asked to leave because the pair had been welcomed at Centrastate hospital in Freehold for six days after Sorchinski's last seizure. 

    She shared the story on Facebook, where it was shared more than 3,000 times and caught the attention of Hackensack Meridian Health officials, which runs Ocean Medical Center.

    "We are deeply sorry for the experience expressed by our patient while visiting our emergency department. We are currently reviewing the situation to make certain protocols properly protect our patients and their service animals," a statement provided to NJ Advance Media said.

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    "While our goal is to keep patients and their service animals together whenever possible, there are situations where our team members must focus on providing the highest quality care for our patients," the statement continues. "During this time, we believe it's important to ensure there is someone that can care for the service animal while we provide care to our patients."

    Sorchinski said this is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    There is, however, a grey area when it comes to service animals in hospitals, experts say. Service dogs should be allowed wherever the public goes, but can be asked to leave if they are in an area with immunocompromised patients, or if the owner is unable to care for the dog. 

    "Service animals must be allowed in patient rooms and anywhere else in the hospital the public and patients are allowed to go. They cannot be excluded on the grounds that staff can provide the same services," the ADA website states.

    Can anyone make their pet a service dog and take it everywhere?

    Sorchinski said she's not interested in hearing further from hospital officials who have called her. She hasn't returned their call.

    "I have nothing to say," she said. "It's not even like they're apologizing. They're just doing damage control. They don't care and that's what bothers me."

    She said the response from the hospital has her considering legal action, but she first hopes employees at Ocean Medical Center improve their bedside manner and educate themselves on service animals and pitbulls.

    "Just because a dog is a certain breed, that doesn't discredit them," she noted. "Just because Nala is a pitbull, she shouldn't be discriminated as a service dog."

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

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    Who are the most deserving players, teams and coaches of our eight midseason awards?

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    Latest boys soccer Top 20 as county tournaments prepare to dominate the schedule.

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    Look at the top sophomores in the state and cast your vote for the best of the best.

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