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

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    There are at least 42 statues of the famous Italian explorer across the state

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    Newark, Jersey City, New Brunswick and Camden reportedly have advanced in the state's consideration of which town to support in the bid for Amazon's new headquarters.

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    Each woman experienced a day of free pampering -- from hair, make up and nails to a personal stylist for the photo shoot

    BURLINGTON -- We know how many words pictures say, but for Teenya Gilliam, the pictures she took this September say three words loudly -- bald, beautiful and strong.

    In the middle of a bustling street, pedestrians caught glimpses of a hairless woman in purple lace, smiling and flaunting powerful poses for the camera.

    Pamper and Portraits held its first event on Sept. 9 amid the Wood Street Fair, capturing moments of three women's journeys during their fight against cancer.

    Each woman experienced a day of free pampering -- from hair, make up and nails to a personal stylist for the photo shoot to help them "feel like an elevated version of themselves."

    Pamper and Portraits is part of the American Cancer Society's Mamas Move Mountains campaign, where moms in Philadelphia and New Jersey can use their passions to battle cancer. Whether it's baking or yoga, moms can use their hobbies to give back.

    "We're trying to find and engage moms to make an impact in the fight against cancer in whatever ways that make sense to them," said Victoria Duda, ACS community development manager and campaign leader.

    For Jackie Stinsman, 29, owner of Stinsman Photography, taking photos made sense.

    "As a photographer and as a mother, taking photos of my family and having photos done of my family is really important to me," and felt important to share with other mamas, said Stinsman.

    Duda and Stinsman understand first-hand how hectic the lives of mothers can be. Moms with cancer also juggle treatment and appointments, leaving little time to pamper themselves.

    At first, Amy Soeffing, 44, of Marlton felt hesitant, thinking to herself, "I don't know -- that's not for me," she said. But as she eased into it, she felt radiant, allowing her to forget -- for a little while -- about her upcoming treatments for stage one breast cancer.

    "It was such an awesome day, from the beginning to the end, I had a great day," Soeffing said.

    Susan Saporito, 59, Gilliam's nurse navigator and friend, felt a little nervous too. The two-time cancer survivor took her photos to celebrate 10 years cancer free.

    The day was worth it, "just to show how far I've come, even if just feeling good about myself and seeing the happiness in my pictures," she said.

    Before the photo shoot, 39-year-old Gilliam of Sewell had a string of bad days. After her diagnoses in June, she recently lost her hair from chemotherapy treatments and was feeling down about being bald.

    She never let anyone see her without her hair, and wouldn't dare show it in public. But there she stood in the middle of the street, stopping traffic for photos without it.

    "It made me feel so absolutely special. I looked like a Barbie doll. When she showed me the photos on the back of her camera, they were absolutely amazing," said the woman in purple.

    She remembers beaming with a smile, telling the photographer, "I look so pretty."

    Bald and all.

    The photo shoot gave her confidence to rock her new do.

    "Actually I'm baldheaded right now, I just went to lunch with my sister," she laughed from the phone.

    Gilliam feels grateful for the photos that she will revisit "after all this is over."

    She'll "look back and say 'look at what I accomplished, look at what I did and the battle and the journey that I went through for a whole year and I'm still functioning."

    And still beautiful.

    To help Mamas Move Mountains or participate in Pamper and Portraits, contact Victoria Duda at

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    There's five new choices.

    There's five new choices.

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    Unconditional love is a wonderful thing.

    If you're interested in helping homeless animals but aren't able to adopt one, there are a number of other ways you can be of assistance.

    Realistically, not everyone can adopt. People who live in apartments or developments that have no-pets policies fall into that category, as do people with allergies or disabilities that will not allow them to care for pets of their own. Here are some suggestions for ways people who want to help can participate in caring for homeless animals.

    * Help out at a local shelter. It's not glamorous work by any means, but it's vital and will be very much appreciated. You can do anything from help walk dogs to bottle feed kittens, help clean kennels or cat's cages or even help with bathing and grooming. Contact your local shelter to find out their policies regarding volunteers.

    * If you're handy, you can lend a hand in many ways. Shelters usually need repairs of many kinds, so fixer-uppers can help out like that. If you sew, quilt or crochet, you can make blankets for your local shelter.

    * Help out at an adoption event. Many shelters and rescue groups participate in local events by hosting a table with pets available for adoption. They also hold these program at malls, pet supply stores and banks, and can always use a helping hand.

    * For galleries like this one and for online adoptions sites, often a shelter or rescue group doesn't have the time or equipment to shoot good photos of their adoptable pets, Something as simple as making yourself available to shoot and provide digital files of pet photos can be a big help.

    * Donate. It doesn't have to be money; shelters need cleaning supplies, pet food, toys for the animals and often even things we don't think twice about getting rid of like old towels and newspapers. Every little bit helps.

    If you don't know where your local animal shelter or rescue group is, a quick online search will reveal a number of results. It doesn't take a lot of time or effort to get involved but it provides immeasurable assistance.

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

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    Others were seriously hurt when two vehicles collided in Gloucester Township

    GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP - Multiple people were killed in a two-vehicle collision on Sunday, reports said.

    Others were seriously hurt when the cars collided around 5 p.m. at the intersection of Sicklerville Road and Dunlin Way, said.

    A report on said at least two people were killed

    Police didn't disclose any additional information about the crash.

    The road was closed for about five hours. 

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



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    The latest Top 20 is here.

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    The drivers of the two cars that collided lived down the street from one another, police said.

    GLOUCESTER TWP. -- Four people were killed Sunday afternoon in a head-on crash on Sicklerville Road, police said.

    The head-on collision happened around 5 p.m. between Dunlin Way and Mullen Drive, and blocked traffic for about 4 hours, police said. The drivers were neighbors, living down the street from one another. The crash was about 2.5 miles from their homes in Winslow Township.

    Killed in the crash were:

    • Richard Mason, 53, of Winslow Township, driving a 2005 Toyota Camry
    • Panagioti Ramoundos, 43, of Winslow Township, driving another Toyota Camry
    • Anastasia Ramoundos, 80, of Winslow Township, who was in the Camry
    • Demetrious Ramoundos, 77, of Winslow Township, who was in the Camry

    Mason, along with Anastasia and Demetrious Ramoundos, were taken to Jefferson Washington Township Hospital and died later from their injuries. Panagioti Ramoundos was pronounced dead on the scene.

    Two other people survived their injuries and are in critical but stable condition at Cooper University Hospital.

    Gloucester Township Police are continuing to investigate the crash to determine the cause, and are asking anyone who witnessed the incident or can provide tips to call the department at 856-228-4500, leave an anonymous tip at 856-842-5560, or text an anonymous tip to 888777 with the keyword GLOTWPPD.

    Joe Brandt can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JBrandt_NJ. Find on Facebook.

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

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    Rich Mason, 53, was on his way to his new job in Sicklerville when he was killed in a crash on Sunday.

    WINSLOW TOWNSHIP -- Rich Mason loved music -- everything from System of a Down's aggressive riffing to Tom Petty's California rock.

    On Tuesdays, he would often head down to the Bus Stop Music Cafe in Pitman to hear bands play live.

    His love for music even manifested in photographs, as his niece Christa flipped through photo after photo of Mason holding up the peace sign or the sign of the horns.

    "He was always up for something fun, taking us to festivals, ballgames, you name it," said Mason's sister Tina, who lives in Clayton.

    And it seemed like all his co-workers at Tractor Supply Co. in Sicklerville, where Rich, 53,  had been working for about a month, were into country music. So he had been listening to country lately, too.

    Mason was on his way to work when he was killed Sunday afternoon in a head-on car crash that killed three other people and injured two on Sicklerville Road near Dunlin Way.

    Gloucester Township Police Chief Harry Earle, speaking at a Monday morning press conference, could offer few details as to what may have caused the crash, or which car crossed the center line. It was not immediately clear if the drivers and passengers were wearing seatbelts, or how fast the vehicles were moving. All of those factors are part of the ongoing investigation, Earle said. 

    Mason's silver Toyota Camry collided with another blue Camry driven by Peter Ramoundos, who had his parents Anastasia, 80, and Demetrious, 77, as passengers. Two other passengers in Ramoundos' car, identified as family members, were taken to Cooper University Hospital in critical but stable condition. Ramoundos and his parents died from their injuries in the crash.

    Peter Ramoundos, who is mentioned in a GoFundMe page raising money for funeral expenses, was heading to the Greek Agora Festival in Cherry Hill that afternoon, according to the fundraising page. The four-day festival had Greek food, wine, art and music and was held at St. Thomas Greek Orthodox Church, where the Ramoundos family were members, a church employee said.

    Ramoundos and Mason lived on the same street, according to police, less than a quarter mile apart. 

    As for the Mason family, relatives from Florida will be visiting soon, said Tina, who lives in Clayton. She was at her brother's house in Winslow Township along with other relatives when NJ Advance Media visited. 

    She described her brother as a warm, caring man who, besides for his love for music, was keen on adopting animals, including his Boston Terrier named Pebbles. He and his wife had adopted other dogs over the years and often did the "Paws for a Cause" charity walks to fund cancer research.

    Rich, a Navy Reserves veteran, had only been working at Tractor Supply Co. for about a month, a sign of progress from a state of grief that he had been in since his wife, Maria, died of cancer about eight years ago. She was a special ed teacher in the Waterford Township school district. 

    "His life was moving forward," Tina said. "You lose your wife, you're in a rut. He was just coming out of it."

    Along with going to events with his niece and nephews, Rich loved to celebrate Halloween, and had several pumpkins and other festive decorations outside. In past years, he was Jack Skellington from "The Nightmare Before Christmas," Dracula, and several other spooky characters.

    "He was picking himself up," Tina said. "It's just a total loss for us."

    Joe Brandt can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JBrandt_NJ. Find on Facebook.

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    Worried about risks associated with repetitive blows to the head? Click here to read everything you need to know about concussions.

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    The stars of Week 5.

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    Who are the top 50 New Jersey alums in women's college soccer?

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    See which players stood out above the rest in boys soccer this week.

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    Two people, including the officer, were taken to hospitals.

    GLOUCESTER TWP. -- A police cruiser responding to an emergency call collided with an SUV Tuesday afternoon in the intersection of Hickstown and Erial roads, authorities said.

    The incident happened shortly after 3:30 p.m. Two people, including the officer were taken to a hospital with injuries "believed to minor," a police report said.

    The nature of the emergency call prior to the accident was not immediately reported. The wreck was about 3 miles from the scene of a fatal accident Sunday that claimed the lives of four people.

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

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    The Camden man sold crack cocaine to an undercover officer in 2015

    CAMDEN -- A Camden man who sold crack cocaine to an undercover police officer was sentenced Tuesday to eight years in prison, officials said. 

    Nafeez "Feez" Griffin, 31, will also be subjected to three years of supervised release after finishing his sentence, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.

    Griffin was part of a drug dealing organization when he sold the narcotics on Lansdowne Avenue in the city on Nov. 30, 2015, authorities said. He was charged Sept. 9, 2016 after a lengthy investigation by the FBI's South Jersey Violent Offender and Gang Task Force.

    He pleaded guilty in June to distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

    Crack cocaine gang leader pleads guilty

    Fellow members of the crew supplied drugs to Griffin and he made separate crack deals, according to court filings.

    Authorities said the investigation led law enforcement officers to seize two handguns used by members of the drug distribution crew as well as narcotics. Investigators also used court-approved wiretaps to intercept cell phones used by members of the ring.

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



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    The Top 20 gets another new look this week.

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    NJ Advance Media is joining ProPublica and dozens of other media partners on the Documenting Hate project in an effort to fill the gaps in bias-crime reporting.

    You cannot begin to fully remedy a problem until you know its breadth.  

    The 2016 election that propelled Donald Trump to the presidency poured gasoline on the racial, cultural and religious tensions that have simmered in America for decades. While a healthy democracy has no shortage of disputes, the last two years have shown that illegal bias and hate still rear its head in New Jersey and the nation at large.  

    But as NJ Advance Media has reported, we don't know the extent of the problem.

    Today, NJ Advance Media is joining ProPublica and dozens of other media partners on the Documenting Hate project, a bid to fill in the gaps in bias-crime reporting that exist across the nation.  

    The need is simple: While bias-crime laws have been on the books across the nation for years, there is often little to compel law enforcement to report such incidents.

    It leads to tremendous gaps.  In New Jersey, only about a quarter of local law enforcement agencies reported hate-crime statistics to the state in 2015. Elsewhere, states like Mississippi reported no bias crimes whatsoever.   

    It's not to say New Jersey isn't making progress -- there's just have no way of knowing if it is or isn't.

    Starting today, we're asking for your help.  We're asking residents who experience acts of hate, bias or discrimination to use an online form (see below) to report their experiences. The information will be shared with partners in the Documenting Hate project, but will remain anonymous unless you provide permission.

    None of the partners in the project are law enforcement agencies, so it's important to note that filling out our form does not mean a report will be made to law enforcement on your behalf.  

    To fill out a report, use the form below or visit the Documenting Hate project page to learn more. 

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    How many of the 43 remaining unbeaten teams in New Jersey will go undefeated?

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    Which teams are on top of the standings this season?

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