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Breaking news & local stories from Camden City, Berlin, Laurel Springs and more

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    NJ.com's football staff tries to predict some of the crazy storylines that will emerge this weekend.


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    Which players will be the best in the midfield in 2017?


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    Holtec International unveiled its new Camden facility Thursday.

    CAMDEN -- Holtec opened the doors of its new waterfront facility here Thursday. 

    The 600,000-square-foot manufacturing and design facility is expected to bring more jobs to the area, boosting revitalization efforts in the city, state and local officials as well as Holtec says. The energy company, known for its work with carbon-free power generation in commercial nuclear and solar energy, began the move from its Marlton facility earlier this year. 

    Governor Chris Christie, State Senate Majority Leader Steve Sweeney and Camden Mayor Dana Redd attended Thursday's inaugural event at the new plant. 

    "The $260 million investment that we are making here with [Holtec Technology Campus CEO] Dr. [Krishna] Singh represents the largest single investment of private capital in the history of the City of Camden," Christie told the crowd. "This is a project that is investing in the people of Camden. The company anticipates training and employing over a thousand employees from the city and nearby towns. That creates hope for the city of Camden." 

    Holtec received a $260 million Grow NJ tax credit for making the move. The plant expects to initially employ 400 welders, machinists, laborers, engineers and corporate staff, and said that number could grow to as many as 2,000 over the next 10 years.

    Some of the facility's employees have transferred from the former Marlton plant, but the company has plans to hire within the city, too. Holtec has said it will train Camden residents for jobs, but officials Thursday did not have specific numbers of how many the facility has hired thus far, Newsworks reported.   

    Other companies, including Subaru and Aerofarms, have followed suit, moving to the city that has long had a reputation as one of the most impoverished and dangerous in the nation in exchange for tax breaks. 

    N.J. gives $260 million tax break to energy company with political ties

    But not everyone is thrilled about the deal, and some say the tax cuts place the burden on hard-working residents while large companies profit. 

    "Yes, Holtec's new facility is an exciting development for the state of New Jersey and the city of Camden. But there is no reason that New Jersey taxpayers should be paying so much for it - particularly without airtight guarantees of benefits for the city's residents," Jon Whiten, vice president of New Jersey Policy Perspective, a group that opposed the incentives, said in a statement. 

    "New Jersey's lucrative corporate tax subsidies have gone completely off the rails, and it's beyond time for policymakers to get the state's economic-development strategies back on the right track." 

    Amanda Hoover can be reached at ahoover@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @amahoover. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Cooper University Health wants to acquire St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton, Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden and Lourdes Medical Center at Burlington in Willingboro.

    As mergers go, Cooper University Health's proposed takeover of Trinity Health's three area Catholic hospitals makes a lot of sense, particularly for Trenton.

    Cooper wants to acquire St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton, Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden and Lourdes Medical Center at Burlington in Willingboro.

    The benefit for Cooper is that the merger would cement its dominance in the South Jersey health care market and give it a foothold in the competitive Central Jersey arena.

    Under the leadership of George Norcross, a powerful political force in South Jersey who serves as chairman of the board at Cooper, the Camden-based health system has expanded by leaps and bounds.

    In 2012, Cooper partnered with Rowan University to form a medical school and in 2013 it joined forces with the highly regarded MD Anderson Cancer Center that shares space in new $100 million facility in Camden.

    Another merger is creating N.J.'s 4th largest hospital chain

    By becoming part of Cooper's growing health care umbrella, hospitals like St. Francis can share Cooper's expertise as a center for research and medical innovation.

    The planned merger would also be a financial boon for the struggling smaller hospitals because Cooper would take over their debt. In the case of St. Francis, that amounts to $80 million and for the Lourdes hospitals it is $211 million, according to Trinity.

    St. Francis has lagged behind rivals in the Central Jersey area when it comes to expansion.

    Capital Health in 2011 replaced one of its two Trenton facilities with a $530 million shiny new hospital in Pennington, which was dubbed its Hopewell campus.

    A year later, Princeton Healthcare opened its new $523 million University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro.

    And in 1994, nearby Hamilton Hospital became part of the expanding Robert Wood Johnson Health System.

    Now, with the considerable financial resources that Cooper offers, hospitals like St. Francis have greater potential.

    "Our new relationship with Cooper allows us to grow our services and provide greater access to care for those we service," said Joseph Youngblood II, board chairman of St. Francis.

    To compete in today's health care market, providers have to resort to "economy of scale." Joining forces with a larger health system is becoming the new normal.

    As Ben Carter, executive vice president of Trinity Health, observed, "In today's health care environment in New Jersey, continuing success for Lourdes and St. Francis depends on being part of a growing regional network with a strong presence in local communities."

    Founded in 1874 by the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, St. Francis Medical Center lays claim to being Trenton's first hospital. Throughout the years, St. Francis has played a vital role in providing for the health needs of the community, particularly the poor. Hopefully, this merger will enable the hospital to continue that tradition for many years to come.

    Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook.


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    What is the purpose of the Schools Development Authority that can be measured in cost savings and on-time construction to replace crumbling schools? We don't see one.

    Now that the New Jersey Schools Development Authority has approved a $6.7 million contract to demolish Camden High School in preparation for construction of a shiny, new replacement school, this is as good a time as any to ask:

    Why does this state agency, known as the SDA, exist, anyway?

    The question isn't intended as an attempt to get between the Camden school district, and select alumni members who have headed to court in an effort to save the iconic, 101-year-old school, or portions thereof. Actually, there's nothing wrong with awarding a demolition contract under the presumption that the replacement project is going to proceed at some point.

    But we raised the same question about the SDA and its forerunner, the disgraced Schools Construction Corp., a decade ago, and not much has changed. 

    What purpose does this $23 million bureaucracy serve as anything other than an unnecessary nanny for about 30 impoverished, "special needs" school districts? Lawmakers created the original SCC in 2000 because they didn't trust administrators in these districts to spend properly a big run-up in targeted state construction aid, which was long overdue for these districts. They still contain some of the most decrepit school buildings in the state.

    The SDA quickly proved its lack of value by becoming embroiled in contracts that were challenged, projects that were held up, and cost-overruns at least equal to what any urban New Jersey district could conceive of on its own. That's why the Legislature changed the name and rebooted the organizational structure in 2007.

    True, the SDA can no longer be described as awash in "mismanagement scandals," as a 2009 Star-Ledger of Newark article called them. But they still hold the purse strings for school construction projects in Camden, Gloucester City, Bridgeton and a host of other districts, and delays and blown cost estimates are still abundant.

    What does the SDA do for the so-called "Abbott" districts regarding new buildings that the state Department of Education, along with local construction enforcement offices, doesn't do everywhere else in the state? Almost all new public school instructional buildings, even in the wealthiest districts, now get some significant percentage of state financial assistance. So, just like the Trentons and the Camdens, they spend statewide taxpayers' money, too.

    The SDA's mission once included a promising-sounding cost-saving initiative to approve some "cookie-cutter" building designs that, with some minor alterations, could be used statewide. But the worthwhile standardization effort has lagged, though the SDA website provides an optional "design kit" for individual rooms. Still, among its prime excuses for lengthy construction time lines and costly design changes is that urban sites provide special challenges, such as environmental ones, that necessitate custom redesigns and solutions.

    Since a new administration is coming to Trenton next year, let's hear from gubernatorial candidates Kim Guadagno and Phil Murphy about why they think the SDA's continued existence is a necessity -- if they don't believe it's time to pull the plug. We can't think of a better candidate for that, if the new governor wants to streamline state operations.


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    Who are the best high school football players in New Jersey? NJ.com takes a look.


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    Woodrow WIlson's Preston Browns notes questionable calls, Kaepernick, Trump, and if his team will continue to make a statement in the future.

    It was a scorching hot Saturday last Sept. 10 and Woodrow Wilson and Highland were ready to face off in what figured to be a key football game in the West Jersey Football League Royal Division.

    Moments before kickoff there was no indication a national and International story was going to occur, nothing to dictate that the spotlight was going to shine as bright as that September sun on Woodrow Wilson coach Preston Brown and his coaches and players in the coming days, weeks and months.

    But as the national anthem started to play, Brown took a knee. His coaches and players – all except two – joined him.

    Brown had decided a few days before he was going to take a knee as a way to speak out against economic disparities and social injustices. He had been inspired by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick making a similar gesture before a preseason game – and starting what would become a national controversy over his actions.


    A LOOK BACK: NJ.com's coverage of Wilson's anthem statement


    Brown told his team his plans so they wouldn’t be surprised, and unbeknownst to him, the majority decided to do so with him. They repeated the act for every anthem the rest of the season, changing course after Brown said they would only do it for two weeks because of how many calls and e-mails he received supporting their stance.

    It’s been nearly a year since that opening game of the 2016 season – which Highland went on to win, 13-7, in what became something of a footnote of the day’s events.

    The teams will meet again this Friday night in what is expected to be another closely-contested, important game. Brown said on Wednesday night he hadn’t discussed with the team whether he would kneel for this game or what their plans were and had the mindset that everyone should make their own decisions.

    Stories on NJ.com about the decision last September drew hundreds of comments. A 45-second video of the team kneeling has 91,000 views.

    National and even International news agencies – the BBC did a piece the following week – talked to Brown and the players and followed up on their stance. Brown admitted the attention was nothing he expected and even this week – perhaps through the power of Google – the school fielded 8-10 phone calls on the issue as if it just happened.

    Brown noted 70 percent of the responses he has seen throughout the year have been positive, though there are plenty of commenters who have called for his firing and were further enraged when the school district and superintendent supported him.

    Brown said this week he suspects some officials who don’t agree with the Tigers’ decision have let it affect their impartiality.

    "I was told by my AD that some refs didn’t want to ref our games," said Brown. “We got a penalty for too many men on the field when we didn’t have enough. One game they went to explain a call to the other coach and when I asked for an explanation I got a sideline warning. Against Moorestown, we were called off-sides when we weren’t even rushing in. We were told not to rush in during the final couple minutes of the Delsea game because they were going to take a knee, even though I said what if they fumble the snap? We got a penalty on an extra point for not enough people on the line that didn’t make any sense.

    “In a lot of games there were some interesting calls and usually you just deal with it, but in close games that can cost you. And I still saw some questionable calls in one of our scrimmages this year.”

    Brown said he continued to sit or kneel as he assisted with the basketball program this past winter and some players did the same.

    “I don’t regret decisions we made,” said Brown, a Wilson graduate who is also the school’s Dean of Culture and Climate. “I still feel strongly about it. There’s been some improvements in some issues, but we still have issues. There’s questionable things happening.

    "You see the (NFL player) Michael Bennett (involved in a racial profiling incident) in Las Vegas. You look at who the President is and how many people are unhappy he is representing our nation and the things he has said publicly. You see what’s happening with (President) Trump now with DACA, which is going to affect some kids in our school if it goes through. There’s a great social economic divide and racial divide.

    “And I think as the season went on we (kneeled) for one another and anyone who was suffering, because at the end of the day we’re all Americans.”

    Brown, who saw one of his players, Jelani McCargo, sign a letter of intent to attend the Naval Academy in February, reiterated his issues are not with police and military. In fact, much of the community involvement – part of which has come out of Wilson’s kneeling – has revolved around law enforcement.

    Wilson became the first school, according to Brown, to be involved in the Policing Project associated with the NYU School of Law. The program is designed to strengthen policing - how law enforcement interacts through democratic governance.

    Brown has become involved with the Malcolm Jenkins Project, a program by the current Eagle designed towards providing under-served youth with education, essential skills and resources necessary to enhance life performance, and talks often withe NFL player who has made similar demonstrations during the national anthem.

    Among other endeavors, Brown and his team have been involved in a mentoring program, worked at the South Jersey Food Bank and with local Planned Parenthood, the Camden Clock Chasers community support group and with workout initiatives at local gyms.

    Brown was invited to speak about his activism at a panel at the University of Pennsylvania.

    “We’ve been pretty active with our commitment to the community,” said Brown. “We’re making our players into better citizens, making the world a better place. We had a lot of people reach out to us after seeing our protest.”

    Kaepernick, whose original protest inspired Brown, said he would stand for the anthem this year because he had seen improvements in key areas. However, he has not been signed to a team, leaving many to suggest he is being blackballed because of the attention that came with his original decision to sit or kneel.

    “Is he being blackballed? That’s tough for me to say,” said Brown. “As someone who stood on the line and spoke out, I’m sure it would seem biased if I said that. But I honestly don’t know. It could be because the last time he was a starting quarterback he didn’t win too many games. I can see how somebody could think that (he is being blackballed), but I think it’s a matter of opinion.”

    The spotlight has dimmed in the last year, but as Brown has noticed it will always be there.

    Bill Evans can be reached at bevans@njadvancemedia.com or by leaving a note in the comments below. Follow him on Twitter @BEvansSports. Find the NJ.com High School Football page on Facebook by following this link.


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    The NJ.com Football Mega-Coverage guide provides you with links to all the previews and picks to get you ready for Week 1 in New Jersey High School football.

    Here is our mega-coverage guide for Week 1 to help get you ready for the first exciting weekend of gridiron action. Make sure to check back as we'll be adding more stories, previews, polls, live update posts and our predictions for every game this weekend as we get ready for games Friday and Saturday.

    WEEK 1 ESSENTIALS
    • Results, links, LIVE UPDATES for Sept. 8-9 games
    Top 20 for Sept. 3
     Results and links for Opening Week 0
    • Statewide football schedule and picks by conference, Week 1
    • Top 20 picks and schedule for Week 1
    • Quick picks: NJ.com selects winners for every Week 1 football game
    19 can't-miss match-ups for Week 1
    3 contests voted to be Games of the Week
    • Pope John's game in Florida scrapped due to Hurricane Irma
    • Football: Statewide stat leaders from Week 0
    Complete NJ.com football preview


    Jersey Strong: The 75 best players in N.J. H.S. football


    CONFERENCE SCHEDULE/SCOREBOARD
    • Shore Conference schedule/scoreboard Week 1
    • North Jersey Super Football Conference schedule/scores for Week 1
    • West Jersey Football League Week 1 schedule/scoreboard

    POSITION PREVIEWS
    • Ground control: N.J. football's running backs to watch for 2017
    • Linebackers to watch, 2017
    • Offensive linemen to watch
    • Sack mentality: Defensive linemen/pass rushers to watch
    • Kickers, punters, long snappers to watch 
    • Wide receivers, tight ends to
    • Defensive backs to watch
    • Quarterbacks to watch
    • The best 75 football players in New Jersey (Coming Sept. 8)

    MUST-READ CONTENT
    • Kneeling for anthem, 1 year later: N.J. football coach on intense year, what's next
    • 
    Millville still has chip on shoulder, ready to defend South Jersey Group 5 football title
    • 20 bold predictions for Week 1 of the N.J. football season
    • Hamilton West's Chris Charles to debut new cleats in football showdown with Lawrence
    • SJT Game of the Week: Highland, Woodrow Wilson ready for huge Game 1 test
    • Game Preview: Holy Cross at Bordentown, Friday, 7pm in the Times of Trenton Game of the Week
    • N.J.'s top 17 uncommitted senior football prospects and where they might go
    • Which Rutgers football recruits are visiting for the Eastern Michigan game?
    • New stadium, old wounds have Seton Hall Prep extra motivated against No. 6 Don Bosco Prep
    • 20 bold predictions for Week 1 of the N.J. football season
    • Old Bridge to host "Holiday Knight" toy drive for Marisa Tufaro Foundation
    • Football: Will Scotch Plains-Fanwood blossom under Mark Ciccotelli's green thumb?
    • Hudson County 2017 team-by-team preview
    • Hudson County football players to watch in 2017
    • 2017 Hudson County high school football full schedule
    • Trenton Times football Top 10 for Sept. 6
    • N.J. alums who made an impact during college football opening weekend
    • Super Conference Stars: Top 10 performers from NJSFC United Red, White in Week 0

    Joe Zedalis may be reached at jzedalis@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @josephzedalis. Like NJ.com HS sports on Facebook.


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    NJ.com takes a look at N.J. alums on 2017 NFL rosters on the eve of the new season.


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    Which teams will have the strongest support in the back this season?


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    He used an account called "Amber Zee" to coerce the children into sending him sexually explicit photos.

    DEPTFORD TWP. -- A Deptford man was sentenced to six and a half years in prison after using a fake Facebook profile to entice children to produce sexually explicit images.

    michael-j-mostovlyanjpg-e95ccc046693ccdf.jpgMichael J. Mostovlyan. (Salem County Correctional Facility) 

    According Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick, Michael J. Mostovlyan, 33, previously pleaded guilty to information charging him with one count of online enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual conduct.

    He appeared in Camden Federal Court Friday and was sentenced to six and a half years. In addition to the prison term, Mostovlyan was sentenced to 15 years of supervised release.

    According to a release from the United States Attorney District of New Jersey's office, Mostovlyan admitted that between January 1 and June 2, 2016, he used a fake female profile called "Amber Zee" to persuade the victims to send him sexually explicit photographs or videos.

    Police reported that Mostovlyan was working as a contractor at the Monroe Township school district when the exchange took place. Police began a three-month investigation after they were contacted by parents of Williamstown Middle School students. The parents reported that their children exchanged child pornography with Mostovlyan.

    He was arrested on June 2, 2016 without incident at Whitehall Elementary School and charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

    He was placed in Salem County Correctional Facility on $200,000 full cash bail.

    Caitlyn Stulpin may be reached at cstulpin@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @caitstulpin. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    All the scores, stories and stats from games around N.J. on Friday night.

    KEY LINKS
    Week 1 mega-coverage guide
    Top 20 for Sept. 3 
     Statewide picks and schedule

    Full Week 1 schedule/scoreboard 
    • 19 can't-miss match-ups in Week 1


    RELATED: Complete 2017 football season preview


    NEW: Best Week 1 photos

    FEATURED GAMES

    FRIDAY

    No. 7 DePaul 35, No. 2 Paramus Catholic 14
    Wayne school "reaffirms" standing as force
    Box score
     Look back at live updates

    No. 5 Timber Creek 39, Delsea 36
     Coach gets milestone despite monster rushing effort
     Box score

    No. 16 Bridgewater-Raritan 28, Hunterdon Central 14
    Anthony Goffe, Greg Verano spark B-R
    Photo gallery
    Box score
     Look back at live updates

    Woodrow Wilson 26, Highland 20
    Kargman's passing leads the way
    • Kneeling in protest: 1 year later
    Photo gallery
    Box score
     Look back at live updates

    Lenape Valley 24, Madison 3
    Nick Molinari runs for 143 yards, 3 TDs
    Photo gallery
    Box score
     Look back at live updates

    Long Branch 28, Manasquan 19
    Fosque, Wilkins provide aerial heroics
    Photo gallery
    Box score
     Look back at live updates

    Westwood 41, Mahwah 21
    Defense dominates
    Box score
     Look back at live updates

    Colonia 18, Woodbridge 0
    Game recap
    • 
    Photo gallery
    Box score


    RELATED: Top 20 for Sept. 3


    No. 12 Vineland 27, Bridgeton 8
    Isaih Pacheco's 2 TDs help overcome mistakes
    Box score

    Cherokee 42, Shawnee 41
    Jack Walters runs for 5 TDs
    • 
    Photo gallery
    Box score

    Sayreville 48, East Brunswick 21
    Connor Holmes runs for 162 and 3 TDs
    • 
    Photo gallery
    Box score

    Holy Cross 42, Bordentown 7
    • Momentum carries into 2017
     Box score

    Hamilton West 31, Lawrence 28
    Last-second field goal wins it
    Box score

    Hammonton 22, Washington Township 14
    GianCarlo Palmieri pick six halts late drive
    •  Photo gallery

    Box score


    RELATED: Where are N.J. alums playing in the NFL?


    Pennsville 18, Woodstown 12
    Nick Bard's 231 yards power way
    •  Photo gallery

    Box score

    Nottingham 28, Hightstown 14
    Diontae Nicholson sparkles on ground

    Box score

    Ewing 49, West Windsor-Plainsboro South 6
    Blue Devils roll in opener

    Box score

    Williamstown 17, Kingsway 13
    Wade Inge hauls in two TD passes

    Box score

    TOP 20 RESULTS
    No. 7 DePaul 35, No. 2 Paramus Catholic 14
    No. 5 Timber Creek 39, Delsea 36
    No. 9 Millville 47, Egg Harbor 7
    No. 10 Irvington 38, Lincoln 0
    No. 12 Vineland 27, Bridgeton 8
    No. 13 Rancocas Valley 47, Hopewell Valley 14
    No. 14 Manalapan 44, Marlboro 0
    No. 16 Bridgewater-Raritan 28, Hunterdon Central 14
    No. 17 Red Bank Catholic 47, Middletown South 10
    No. 18 River Dell 22, Pascack Valley 21
    No. 19 Ridge 34, Montgomery 14

    SATURDAY

    No. 1 Bergen Catholic vs. Archbishop Wood (Pa.), 2:30
    • Live updates
    • Game story
    • Box score

    No. 6 Don Bosco Prep at Seton Hall Prep, 2
     Live updates
    Game story
     Photo gallery
     Box score

    No. 15 Montclair vs. Passaic Tech, 1
     Live updates
    Game story
     Photo gallery
     Box score

    No. 20 Westfield vs. Linden, 1
    Live updates
    • Game story
    • Box score

    North Hunterdon at Summit, 2
     Live updates
    Game story
     Photo gallery
     Box score

    Paulsboro at Woodbury, 10:30
     Game story
    • 
     Photo gallery
     Box score

    Paul VI at Cherry Hill East, 11
    • Game recap
    •  Photo gallery
    • Box score

    Northern Burlington at Steinert, 12
     Game story
    • 
     Photo gallery
     Box score

    West Deptford at Audubon, 11
    • Game story
    • Box score

    Princeton at Pemberton, 11
    • Game story
    • Box score

    Lenape at Trenton, 1
    • Game story
    • Box score

    Royal Imperial Collegiate (Canada) at Hun, 1
    • Game story
    • Box score

    Glassboro at Salem, 2
    • Game story
    • Box score

    Bristol (Pa.) at Pennington, 2:30
    • Game story
    • Box score

    TOP 20 RESULTS
    • No. 1 Bergen Catholic vs. Archbishop Wood (Pa.), 2:30
     No. 3 St. Joseph (Mont.) vs. St. John's College (D.C.), 2
    • No. 4 St. Peter's Prep vs. St. Joseph's Prep (Pa.), 7
    • No. 6 Don Bosco Prep at Seton Hall Prep, 2
     No. 11 Lenape at Trenton, 1
    • No. 15 Montclair vs. Passaic Tech, 1
    • No. 20 Westfield vs. Linden, 1

    FULL SCHEDULE/SCOREBOARD

    Matt Stypulkoski may be reached at mstypulkoski@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @M_Stypulkoski. Like NJ.com High School Sports on Facebook.


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    The team is moving on after a controversial 2016.

    The team is moving on after a controversial 2016.


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    The defensive end came up big on the final drive of the opening football game of the season between the Tigers and Highland.

    The defensive end came up big on the final drive of the opening football game of the season between the Tigers and Highland.


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    A prize fowl will be chosen this weekend in a county not know for agriculture.

    WINSLOW -- All jokes and proverbs aside -- like the ones about spring chickens, or counting chickens before they hatch, or chickens crossing roads -- the first Miss Hen Camden County will be crowned this weekend.

    You've never heard of a local pageant to discern the finest fowl, you say? You're probably not alone. But what a growing breed of hen herders will tell you is they're proud of their fine, feathered friends and they don't care who knows it.

    "It's fun. People are really proud of their chickens," said Gwenne Baile, a retired nurse from Haddon Township who has pretty much led a one-woman crusade to change zoning laws to allow the cultivation of egg-laying hens in Camden County backyards. "I think on the average it's going to be who has got the prettiest feathers and the best personality. You know, not pecking at everybody and whatever."

    The contest was created by a poultry feed company and will be hosted Saturday by a local garden center.

    "Lot of people take a tremendous amount of pride in their chickens," said Harold Dambly, the owner of Dambly's Garden Center on Factory Road in Winslow. "They'll be on display. The owners get to show them off."

    In addition to ribbons and accolades, the winner also gets a year's supply of Nutrena NatureWise Layer Feed, Dambly said. The company is sponsoring the event along with Baile's Camden County Chickens organization.

    "It's a little weird," Baile said. "It kind of seems like it's Miss America. They can get points for Miss Congeniality and they can get points for talent. Now, mine can't play the piano like on America's Got Talent."

    Baile has four hens and one of them, Rosebud, known as Rosie, does have a specialty other than laying eggs. She's a therapy hen.

    "She's patient and loving," Baile said. "Nothing bothers her. I take her to assisted-living facilities twice a month and let the residents pet her and sit on their laps."

    Baile said Rosie has a calming effect.

    "She nestles right down on their laps," she said.

    Baile said she also takes Rosie to a therapy program with autistic children at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. Her hens also participates in programs that draw a direct lineage between chickens and dinosaurs. Chickens and dinosaurs share common DNA that includes three-toed feet, she said.

    Baile said she's aware of a new report from the Center for Disease Control citing backyard chicken cultivation with an uptick in salmonella infections. A report in the New York Times said 961 people in 48 states have contracted the disease from backyard birds so far this year. The C.D.C. doesn't recommend against suburban and urban coops, but recommends hygiene vigilance at all times.

    Baile, a former nurse, said she washes her hands dozens of times a day and insists that anyone who touches her birds do the same. She said Rosie wears a diaper during therapy visits and a covering is also put on the lap of anyone she sits on.

    Dambly said his store sells up to 1,800 chicks a year to nearby residents in Camden, Burlington and Atlantic counties. Many of the birds are now intended as pets, he said.

    Baile's passion for chickens has grown. She no longer eats chicken and even avoids walking past the poultry section in markets. She still eats turkey and red meat because she said she doesn't have a relationship raising other livestock.

    She maintains a 5-by-8 square-foot coop and fenced in chicken run in the back yard of her property on less than a quarter acre in Haddon Township. Her hens often lay a total of more than a dozen eggs a week -- fewer in winter when there is less light.

    Hens are female chickens. Cultivators also must take caution to ensure male chickens, or roosters, don't make it into their flocks. Roosters are prohibited in many suburban environments because of their loud crowing in the morning, Baile and Dambly said.

    Baile said the backyard chicken movement continues to grow because people like her are passionate about sourcing food and the environment.

    "I don't throw away any food waste any more; I use it for compost," she said. "I don't put out leaves for collection. I mulch them and use them as bedding in my coop."

    Baile said she intends to enter one of her hens in the competition. But as far as she's concerned she's already won a prize by just having them and advocating for others to have them.

    Bill Duhart may be reached at bduhart@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @bduhart. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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    Opening weekend proved to be a thriller in the Garden State


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    Gunfire broke out on the 1500 block of Wildwood Avenue around 4 a.m.

    CAMDEN -- A suspect is in custody after a man was shot early Saturday and left in critical condition, authorities said.

    The victim was shot on the 1500 block of Wildwood Avenue around 4 a.m., Camden County spokesman Dan Keashen said.

    He said the victim is at a local hospital in critical, but stable, condition. 

    An investigation is ongoing. No other information was immediately available. 

    Marisa Iati may be reached at miati@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Iati or on Facebook here. Find NJ.com on Facebook

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    The Atlantic City Seafood Festival celebrates its first year on the Boardwalk.

    ATLANTIC CITY -- The Atlantic City Seafood Festival brought its energy and delightful smells to the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk Saturday afternoon after five years at Bader Field.

    Add the Miss America 2018 "Show Us Your Shoes Parade," which is scheduled for a 5 p.m. start at the location of the festival, and you have an interesting representation of people with one common goal -- to enjoy Atlantic City and all it has to offer. 

    More than 20,000 hungry people are expected to partake in the culinary creations of the 40 restaurants over the two-day event, according to Jon Henderson of Good Time Tricycle Productions.  

    Miss America 2018 night 3: Louisiana 2 for 2, Florida bags swimsuit

    Participating restaurants include Dock's Oyster House, Hi-Point Pub, Knife and Fork Inn, and Olon.

    Attendees also had the chance to judge more than 14 chowders in the Chowder Cook-Off. 

    The festival continues on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is located between the Showboat Hotel and the former Revel Hotel. Tickets are $10 and all food is a la carte. Children under 12 get in free. 

    A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. 

    On Sunday, the Seafood Festival will also host the 2nd annual Pet Costume Contest. For a $5 donation, pet lovers can dress up their four-legged friends to be judged in the categories of Best Sea Creature Theme, People's Choice, and Owner/Pet look-alike. All proceeds will benefit The Humane Society of Atlantic County.  

    Tim Hawk may be reached at thawk@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @photogthawk. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Man, 26, died late Friday.

    CAMDEN -- A shooting in Pennsauken left a 26-year-old Camden man dead late Friday, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office said.

    Police discovered Jerry Mass fatally wounded on the floor of an apartment in the 7000 block of Stockton Avenue after officers were called to a report of a shooting in the area, the prosecutor's office said.

    There were no arrests and authorities urged anyone with information to call Camden County Prosecutor's Office Detective Michael Rhoads at 856-225-8561 or Pennsauken Township Police Detective Sergeant Warwick at 856-488-0080.

    Tips can also be sent by email to ccpotips@ccprosecutor.org.

    Noah Cohen may be reached at ncohen@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @noahycFind NJ.com on Facebook.

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    The incident occurred in Gloucester Township.

    GLOUCESTER TWP. -- A 20-month-old child survived a fall out of a second-story window Saturday afternoon without injury, according to police.

    The incident was reported at 3:16 p.m. in the 200 block of Knoll Drive, officials said.

    An ambulance was recalled from the scene shortly after being dispatched.

    It was not immediately reported how the incident happened.

    Bill Duhart may be reached at bduhart@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @bduhart. Find NJ.com on Facebook.
     

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