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

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    Highlighting the rivalry games and big-time matchups in Week 2.


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    University officials say it is the most technologically advanced broadcast facility in a university setting anywhere


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    Who has been crushing it on the pitch to start 2017?


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    The proposed Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act in Congress would impede our state's ability to make its own laws and enforce them in the way New Jerseyans see fit.

    By Louis Cappelli Jr.

    In 2016, firearms killed more than 33,000 people in the United States.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 90 people a day --  one every 16 minutes -- have their lives taken by a gun,  including suicides. Firearms are now the third leading manner of death of children and men ages 19-34 in our nation. These statistics are alarming, but they do not include the 130,000 permanent wounds each year created by shootings that only maim, but do not kill. 

    As overwhelming as these numbers are, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, currently making its way through Congress, proposes that states be forced to recognize concealed-carry firearms permits issued by other states -- even if local/state laws generally prohibit issuing such permits to their own residents. In New Jersey, we have worked to pass some of the toughest gun- control legislation in the country. We cannot afford to have those efforts rolled back by an overreaching federal law that would put the safety of our citizens and law enforcement officers in jeopardy.

    In a nation where many of our elected officials are in the pocket of the National Rifle Association, buying a gun has become as easy as walking down the street and buying a gallon of milk. Since many of our lawmakers refuse to stand up to the NRA, we have experienced a slow and dangerous creep of access to tools that are being used to compromise our communities and law enforcement. The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (H.R. 38) is another vehicle for the special interests to sell more guns in a nation where 300 million firearms were sold last year -- and it makes me sick.  

    In the past five years, more than 180 police officers have been killed in the line of duty by firearms. Recent efforts in which Camden County has participated, such as a gun buyback program that took more than 4,000 guns off the streets in Camden, Newark and Trenton, were intended to make our police officers' jobs safer and easier. 

    If the proposed federal law were to take effect, officers would see their processes completely upended. Police might stop someone suspected of carrying a firearm illegally, only to discover the person has a carry permit from another state. Making such stops will waste time and resources that could have been better utilized for deterring violent crime. 

    I believe there should be bipartisan opposition to H.R. 38. Act. I thank U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D-1st Dist.) for being a proponent of common-sense federal gun legislation and standing vehemently against this bill. Not only does this ill-conceived legislation seek to diminish gun-control laws that New Jersey has worked to pass, it impedes our state's ability to make its own laws and enforce them in the way we see fit.  

    While Congress has failed to pass legislation that implements universal background checks for gun buyers, and cannot seem to restrict gun purchases by individuals on federal do-not-fly lists, states should be free to craft legislation based on the wishes of their own communities. 

    In Camden County, police officers are constantly working to combat illegal guns that come in from outside the state, particularly from the "iron corridor" in the South, and as a result of lax gun laws in Pennsylvania and Ohio. If H.R. 38 becomes law, some of those illegal guns conceivably will become legal here. 

    The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act would allow individuals about whom New Jersey has no record to in bring firearms and carry them in a way that our state's laws make extremely difficult for our own citizens to do. The goal of gun legislation should be to limit this kind of uncertainty and unfairness, not to make the jobs of our police officers more difficult, and our community more susceptible to violent crime.

    Louis Cappelli Jr. is the freeholder director in Camden County.

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


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    Kenneth Smith died aboard the USS John S. McCain after an accident last month.

    CHERRY HILL -- Governor Chris Christie signed an executive order Wednesday for state buildings to fly flags at half-staff Saturday in recognition of a sailor from Cherry Hill who died after a U.S. Navy ship collided with another vessel near Singapore last month.

    Petty Officer Kenneth Smith died along with nine other sailors when the USS John S. McCain collided with a civilian ship on Aug. 21.

    "Kenneth was a great young man, son, and Sailor," his father, Darryl Smith, said in a statement last month. "He truly loved his family, the Navy, and his shipmates. I am incredibly proud of his service to our country. He will be greatly missed and I am thankful we had 22 wonderful years together." 

    Born in Novi, Michigan, Smith, 22, moved to Norfolk, Virginia and later to Cherry Hill when his father, who is a Naval officer, was transferred to Philadelphia. He enlisted in the Navy in 2014, becoming a third-generation sailor. He was a 2013 graduate from Cherry Hill High School East.

    "New Jersey was deeply saddened to learn of this painful incident at sea," Christie said Governor Christie. "We offer our sincerest condolences to his and the other families who lost loved ones. May we solemnly remember, honor and also be inspired by their selfless sacrifices for our country."

    During his service, Smith received three awards, including the National Defense Service Medal, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and Navy Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon.

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

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    The effort will coordinate existing programs and providers for a single referral.

    CAMDEN -- Mark Woodall said he knows first-hand how important services in Camden County were to his ability climb out of homelessness and criminal recidivism.

    He said he had been to prison five times for drug offenses before he wandered into the Cathedral Kitchen one day eight years ago.

    "You know how you say someone would give you the shirt off their back?" he said. "I watched the head chef do that one day. A couple had no place to stay and they were staying in their car and he gave them the jacket off his back. I knew right then and there this was something I had to be a part of."

    Woodall, who completed a course in food prep and was hired here, was on hand Wednesday as Camden County officials rolled out a new campaign to address homelessness in front of Cathedral Kitchen, which bills itself as the largest local emergency food provider, serving more than 100,000 meals a year. It's a central gathering place for the needy and a place in which services can be offered.

    The initiative will address a range of needs, including 24-hour access to social workers, referrals to mental health and drug addition treatment and seasonal employment for people looking for work. The program even includes a haircut and a fresh set of clothing.   

    Camden County provides services for up to 600 homeless people daily. The objective for this initiative is to coordinate existing resources, including a county emergency-housing fund, to mental health and addiction referrals and other programs. While the homeless population in the county is about 1 percent of the total population of 550,000, officials say public services for the needy has a significant impact on public health and wellbeing.

    "These resources that we are bringing to bear will enable us to not only provide shelter, but to give individuals the ability to gain dignity through employment, wrap-around services and most importantly stability," said Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez, liaison to the county health department.   

    Officials said the program will be funded with nearly $4 million in county, state and federal funds. County officials and referral agencies will also partner with the local Volunteers of America organization to identify and coordinate services to the homeless.

    Larry Bryant gathered his belongings in a small cart with wheels he brought into Cathedral Kitchen Wednesday morning. He watched as the hall was busy with activity. He said he sleeps on a piece of cardboard outside of a church in downtown Camden.

    "I pick up my piece of cardboard and blanket, clean up my little area and then hide my stuff in some bushes and hope that nobody takes it," he said. "I need to get myself together."

    Bryant said he feared he wouldn't be able to get help here because he is originally from Florida and had no way to get his birth certificate and other documents needed to receive help. Officials at the event Wednesday said people like Larry are just who they are trying to help.

    "My biggest concern is for my health," he said. "I'm a walking time bomb."

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

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    Palate-pleasing places from around the Garden State.

    635804286189279563-1960-southern-kitchen.jpg 

    We all have a "go to" place to eat.

    That place that solves the problem of everyone answering "I don't care" when asked where they'd like to go for a meal. The place you don't have to worry about a reservation or getting "dressed up" ... where the food is always great and the price is always right.

    And, we in New Jersey have tons of such places to choose from.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    Last summer, while spending some time in south Jersey, I met some out-of-state construction workers who were in town building a warehouse. I was told that the company that builds these warehouses has regular crews who travel around the country; they're put up in local accommodations and spend weeks on the jobsite.

    The workers I met were electricians from Oklahoma. They said there's good money to be made if you can accept living away from home for long stretches. And, they also said their favorite place to work is New Jersey ... because of the limitless choices of places to eat.

    They literally raved about the state's eateries, commenting on how the food was always good and there was usually more than they could finish. And all I could do was offer a knowing nod, because we in the Garden State most certainly don't take our eateries for granted.

    Here's a gallery of establishments that provide foods for every taste in New Jersey. And here's a link to last year's gallery.

    Vintage photos of eclectic eats in N.J.

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


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    Seven teams dropped out of the NJ.com Top 20 after the first week. Find out who the new teams in are.


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    Which girls have already given their verbal commit to play girls soccer.


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    A 28-year-old man succumbed to a gunshot wound Monday evening, authorities said.

    CAMDEN -- Officials are investigating a fatal shooting that took place Sunday evening. 

    Police responded to the scene near North 35th Street just after 7 p.m. There, they found 28-year-old James Morris Jr. suffering from a gunshot wound, according to the Camden County Prosecutor's Office. 

    Morris was taken to Cooper University Hospital for treatment. He died Monday evening, authorities said. 

    Officials continue to investigate the shooting, and had not made any arrests as of Thursday afternoon. 

    Authorities ask that anyone with information about the shooting contact the prosecutor's office at 856-365-3279 or police at 856-757-7420.

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

     
     

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    The Tartans are 0-1, but their close loss to Woodrow Wilson bodes well for the future.

    The Tartans are 0-1, but their close loss to Woodrow Wilson bodes well for the future.


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    The plea came in federal court in Camden on Thursday.

    CAMDEN -- A 31-year-old Camden man pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to selling crack cocaine and firearms charges, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

    Preston J. "Boo" Thomas admitted to an effort to distribute 28 grams  of cocaine base and a criminal weapons charge. He also admitted he sold, and directed others to sell, crack cocaine near the 1100 block of Lansdowne Avenue in Camden. He also admitted he provided crack cocaine, collected money from the sales and conspired others to get firearms.

    Thomas, along with brothers Jason "Fatboy" Boyd, 37 and Joseph "Breet" Boyd, 32, Tony "Tone" Wilson, 25, Derek "AK" Stallworth, 21, Jeffrey "Jay Black" Whitaker, 33, Nafeez Griffin, 31, and Julian "Juelz" Dickerson, 30, all from Camden, were originally charged in 2016, following a long-term investigation by the FBI's South Jersey Violent Offender and Gang Task Force.

    Wilson and Jason Boyd were each sentenced to 96 months in jail. Thomas faces up to five years for the drug charge and 20 for the gun charge, officials said.

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

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    A look at the top games for the upcoming week in girls soccer.


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    NEWARK -- In a custom that dates back centuries in the Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, received the pallium, a special garment symbolizing his link to the papacy of Pope Francis.   The Imposition of the Pallium Mass was held at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, where Tobin, the sixth Archbishop of...

    NEWARK -- In a custom that dates back centuries in the Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, received the pallium, a special garment symbolizing his link to the papacy of Pope Francis.  

    The Imposition of the Pallium Mass was held at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, where Tobin, the sixth Archbishop of Newark, received the garment. 

    The woolen vestment was presented by The Most Reverend Christophe Pierre, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, during the afternoon Mass. The pallium is worn only by Metropolitan Archbishops, clergy who preside over an ecclesiastical province, according to information provided by Corpus Christi Parish in Hasbrouck Heights.

    The Province of New Jersey includes the Archdiocese of Newark and the Dioceses of Trenton, Camden, Paterson and Metuchen. 

    Paul Milo may be reached at pmilo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter@PaulMilo2. Find NJ.com on Facebook.  

     


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    Each season, at high schools across New Jersey, football players are asked to step in and fill the spots of a graduated veteran. Here are 25 players with the biggest shoes to fill in 2017


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    More details about what will change for Kennedy patients will be released at another merger event on Oct. 4.


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    Check out all the schedules, scores and stories from the week.

    Following is NJ..com's mega-coverage guide for Week 2. Keep track of schedules, predictions, previews, features and breaking news from around the state all the way up until kickoff.

    ESSENTIALS

    Week 2 schedule/scoreboard
    Standings
    Statistical leaders through Sept. 10
    Power points


    THE REPLACEMENTS: 25 players with huge shoes to fill


    RANKINGS

    Top 20
    Group
    Statewide conference

    PICKS

    NJ.com predicts every winner in the state
    Predicted scores for every Top 20 game
    Predicted scores by conference


    2,168 days of losing: Can Hail Mary save N.J.'s most tortured team?


    MUST-READ CONTENT

    The replacements: 25 players with big shoes to fill
    22 bold predictions
    19 can't miss games for Week 2
    5-star recruit sitting first four games after transfer to Rahway
    Week 1 standouts
    Sayreville football coach suspended, questions ref accountability
    Meet the starters: Pope John
    Despite opening loss, Highland shows promise for season
    NJSIAA names new executive director
    HS football brawl caught on video, leads to student suspensions
    Voorhees shows balance in first shutout since 2013
    Hamilton West's Cooper finds success as kicker
    N.J. alums who made an impact during Week 2 of college football season
    Week 1 hot takes: Key results and performances from around N.J.

    COLLEGE/RECRUITING

    N.J.'s top uncommtted recruit has Ohio State ahead of Penn State
    Rutgers recap: Which future Knight made biggest on-field impact?
    Rutgers and Pitt off to fast start with 2020 Michael Alaimo
    Which N.J. players return when Morgan State plays at Rutgers?
    Mom knows best: College football star learned ropes from leading lady

    GAMES OF THE WEEK

    NJ.com/Star-Ledger:Ridge at Westfield
    South Jersey Times: Woodbury at Pennsville
    Times of Trenton: Deerfield Academy (Mass.) at Lawrenceville

    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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    New Jersey's venerable songstress sucked the life out of her classic songs

    CAMDEN -- What a mess.

    Ms. Lauryn Hill and Nas's Thursday engagement in Camden could have been killer; a hit-filled night of hip-hop and neo-soul from two '90s nobles, a potent, symbiotic sort of gig with the artists collaborating as they once had and feeding each other's flame -- plus neither act could have booked the 25,000 capacity BB&T Pavilion alone. 

    But Hill, whose Fugees and "Miseducation" work I adore, instead turned in a manic, indulgent and utterly joyless performance this night, leaving Nas to satiate a crowd that by night's end was visibly exasperated by Hill's showing. 

    The Powernomics joint tour's format was simple enough: Nas plays a short set, Hill plays a short set, Nas plays another, Hill plays another and they end with their famed 1996 collaboration "If I Ruled The World." Easy, right?

    Nas emerged first as planned and for a while, it felt like the Queen's rhymer's "Illmatic" and "It Was Written" heyday. The venerable emcee doled equal parts precision and ferocity as he stuck to throwbacks: "Represent," "Halftime" and 2001's "One Mic" were all dynamite and bolstered by Nas's DJ and drummer. The rapper, who celebrated his 44th birthday this night, was energetic, down for this greatest-hits game, and the crowd of about 12,000 ate it up. 

    Lauryn Hill and Nas perform at BB&T Pavillion in CamdenNas performs Sept. 14, 2017, at BB&T Pavillion in Camden, New Jersey. (Matt Smith | For NJ Advance Media) 

    After 25 minutes Nas trotted off and two DJs took over, though the full-band stage for Hill's turn was already set.

    This is where things began to unravel. Nas left the fans with plenty of hype, and the DJs continued to pump up the crowd for five minutes, then 10, 15 ... 20 ... 25, someone comes out and whispers to them to stretch ... 30, what is going on? ... 35. 

    Finally Hill's 12-piece band timidly walks out, followed by Hill, wearing a garment that's half dress, half apron. 

    At this point, if Hill would have sung and rapped her songs in some comprehensible way, the delay likely would have been forgiven. The 43-year-old songstress from South Orange notoriously off-schedule, maybe this was just a blip.

    But the arrangements of "Miseducation" staples "Everything is Everything," "Final Hour" and "Lost Ones" were absolutely baffling -- terrific, nuanced originals were replaced by overworked and overlong, brassy and crashing arrangements upon which Hill placed garish, unrecognizable vocal melodies. Now, I'm all for freshening up classic tunes, but not at the cost of their essence. The tracks did enjoy her power and rasp, but Hill sucked the love out of these songs, and all night she furiously fought the sound techs, incessantly pointing to her monitors, never finding satisfaction. 

    Lauryn Hill and Nas perform at BB&T Pavillion in CamdenLauryn Hill performs Sept. 14, 2017, at BB&T Pavillion in Camden, New Jersey. (Matt Smith | For NJ Advance Media) 

    For the rapped segments on Fugees favorites "How Many Mics," "Fu-Gee-La" and "Ready or Not" Hill was admittedly impressive in moments, but she sped up the already-quick raps to frenzied, unmanageable levels -- at any moment, her tongue might have leapt from her mouth, screaming "enough!" 

    After about 50 minutes of this Hill walked off and Nas returned, bringing with him some much-needed meter and normalcy. The crowd exhaled with run-throughs of "New York State of Mind," "This World Is Ours" and the explosive oldie "Hate Me Now." 

    Twenty minutes later Hill was back and for "Ex-Factor" she said "we're gonna do this one original." All around me fans let out huge sighs of relief, some yelling "thank you!" 

    It's not a good sign when you've booked an amphitheater, only filled it half-way -- neither artist has been particularly relevant for a decade or more -- and by show's end you've exhausted those fans who did show up.  

    Again, I am a true fan of Hill's work -- frankly, I'd been looking forward to this show for weeks -- but this was a true disappointment. And this fall tour, which kicked off just last week, has many more messes to make. 

    Ain't a female out there past and present that can phuck with MLH [?] [?] [?] [?] #laurynhill #lostone #lboogie #goat #mlhnas

    A post shared by Myndi Ragan (Maysaa mys) (@myndiragan) on

    Lauryn Hill's set list

    Sept. 14, 2017 - BB&T Pavilion, Camden, N.J. 

    • "Everything Is Everything"
    • "Final Hour"
    • "Lost Ones"
    • "How Many Mics" 
    • "Fu-Gee-La" 
    • "Ready or Not" 
    • "Killing Me Softly" 
    • Encore:
    • "To Zion"
    • "Ex-Factor"
    • "Doo Wop (That Thing)"
    • "If I Ruled the World" (with Nas) 

    Bobby Olivier may be reached at bolivier@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @BobbyOlivier and Facebook. Find NJ.com on Facebook.  


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    The youngest will learn to set goals and work for them, while older teens will focus on job skills.

    CAMDEN -- N'Namdee Nelson grew up in Camden, and quickly saw he could have an impact. He started coaching younger kids and doing other community work at age 16.

    Now, he's hoping that the nonprofit he founded can help other kids growing up in Camden to figure out what they want to do in life, and make it happen.

    Rising Leaders, the organization Nelson founded in 2008, is about to launch its first 6-month program to do just that. The Rising Leaders Youth Career Entrepreneurship Program kicks off with a meeting in Lawnside Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

    Nelson said he wants the city's young people to see positive options for themselves, and get them the resources and skills they need to land jobs that may be scarce.

    "You can't say, 'Get off the corner and get a job' if there is no job for them," he said. They also need jobs that won't just have them scraping by, paycheck to paycheck, he said. "You can't survive if you're just getting minimum wage."

    Youth in the program will learn about different career paths and learn what they need to get there, from taking certain subjects in school to pursuing a college education or specialized training. Plus, like all Rising Leaders programs, the volunteers leading the program will include character building, life skills and other subjects, Nelson said.

    While many kindergarteners are not thinking about careers yet, the program is open to anyone from ages six to 21. They will be split into four different age groups and while the older groups are talking about colleges and career training, the six-to-eight-year-olds will learn how to set goals for the future -- like getting good grades -- and how to work toward them, Nelson said.

    The youth will graduate from the program after six months, but they can come back as soon as they're old enough to bump up to the older age group.

    And once they've become involved with Rising Leaders, the nonprofit's volunteers will be able to keep mentoring anyone who needs it, Nelson said, as it can be helpful for them to check and make sure the kids are staying on track to their goals.

    The nonprofit has been helping young people get ahead with this kind of mentoring and job-focused classes in the past, Nelson said, but this is the first time it is being packaged into a comprehensive program.

    He's hoping for 50 to 60 young people for the first round and more in the future, and plans to do outreach in the schools to get them interested.

    He said the hard part isn't getting youth to join the program, it's getting them to open their minds to the fact that they have options.

    "It's a challenge to introduce them to more positive outlets. At-risk kids are often dealing with trauma. They haven't been around a lot of positivity or been given resources," he said. "They really want to do more and do better, the challenge is the resources and support."

    Rising Leaders also offers other positive programs for youth, ranging from a new skateboarding club for young children to community service projects and bowling or skating social events.

    Anyone interested in joining the Youth Career Entrepreneurship Program on Saturday or learning about other Rising Leaders programs can contact Nelson here.

    Rebecca Everett may be reached at reverett@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Breaking down some of the top teams and players around N.J. from the past week.


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