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

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    Interstate 95, where it meets Route 4 in Fort Lee, is the second most congested stretch of highway in the country.

    WASHINGTON -- Ready to cross the George Washington Bridge?

    You already know you'll have to wait. What you may not know is that you'll be crawling through one of America's epic spots for traffic congestion.   

    Interstate 95 where it meets Route 4 in Fort Lee, just west of the bridge toll plaza, is again the second most congested bottleneck in the nation, behind only the intersection of Interstate 85 North and I-285 in Atlanta, according to the trucking industry's annual report.

    And things are getting worse: the average speed through the area was 25 mph during rush hours, down from 27 mph in 2016.  

    "I don't know if there is any way to fix it," said Gail Toth, executive director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association. "You plan to wait. It's calculated into the costs of doing business."

    More people dying of alcohol-related crashes in N.J.

    The figures come from the American Transportation Research Institute, the education and research arm of the American Trucking Associations, the trucking industry's trade group. They are based on GPS data from more than 800,000 trucks.

    I-95 in Fort Lee moved into the second spot on the rankings last year, where it overtook the Chicago intersection of Interstates 290 at Interstates 90 and 94. That intersection remained in the third position. I-85 in Atlanta has had the dubious distinction as being the congested stretch of highway for three years running.

    Toth said more truckers making early morning or making nighttime trips to avoid the traffic in Jersey's most congested spot. During off-peak hours, the average speed through the area climbed to 39.4 mph.

    The only other New Jersey location in the top 100 truck bottlenecks was Interstate 287 in Piscataway, coming in at No. 26. The average speed through that area is close to 49 mph, dropping to 38 mph during rush hours.

    "That's sort of a nightmare," Toth said. "We've exceeded the space, They've built so much along 287. We never ever improve our infrastructure when we do that. It's bumper-to-bumper all the time and that's starting early in the morning."

    The intersection of Interstates 76 and 676 in Camden County was ranked 97th in the list released last year but dropped out of the top 100. 

    The report was issued in advance of plans by President Donald Trump and Congress to rebuild the nation's public works. Trump came into office promising an infrastructure program but has yet to offer any proposals.

    "As we focus on infrastructure, I do have hope these locations will start to improve," said Rebecca M. Brewster, president and chief operating officer of the 
    American Transportation Research Institute.

    "When the economy is good, we're going to have more demand for goods, and therefore more trucks. When you see increased truck traffic, it means the economy is doing well but we to fix these lcoations."

     The top 10 are:

    1. Atlanta's "Spaghetti Junction," the intersection of Interstates 85 North and 285.

    2. I-95 at Route 4 in Fort Lee.

    3. I-290 at Interstates 90 and 94 in Chicago.

    4. I-75 at I-285 north in Atlanta.

    5. Route 60 at Route 57 in Los Angeles.

    6. I-90 (Massachusetts Turnpike), at I-95 in Boston.

    7. I-695 at I-70 in Baltimore.

    8. Long Island Expressway (I-495) in Queens.

    9. I-71 at I-75 in Cincinnati.

    10. I-64 at Interstates 64 and 71 in Louisville, Ky.

    Jonathan D. Salant may be reached at jsalant@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JDSalant or on Facebook. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.


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    New Jersey has a wealth of places to board an aircraft and see the Garden State from above.

    This week, I'm "looking down" on New Jersey.

    And, I give you my word, the only time I'll say I'm looking down on this great state is when I'm posting a vintage photo gallery featuring aerial images of N.J.

    tn_blanchard_philly.jpg 

    Views of the Garden State from above date back further than we may think. The first manned balloon flight in America took place on Jan. 10, 1793, starting in Philadelphia and crossing the Delaware before landing in what is now Deptford Township. French aeronaut Jean Pierre Blanchard brought along a dog on the 15-mile, 46-minute trip as well as a letter signed by George Washington identifying him to whoever he encountered on landing.

    The Lakehurst Naval Air Station became known to people across the country following the explosion of the Hindenburg in 1937, but the U.S. Navy had been using it as a Naval Air Station since 1921, flying blimps and dirigibles as well as fixed-wing aircraft.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    Predating Lakehurst was the Cape May Naval Air Station. Built in 1917, the base, now known as Naval Air Station Wildwood, was home to both airplanes and blimps. In 1920, a blimp originating from the station flew the length of New Jersey's coastline photographing every city and town along the way.

    And you might be surprised how many places there are in New Jersey to board an aircraft and see the Garden State from above. According to the New Jersey State Department of Transportation, "NJDOT, through its Bureau of Aeronautics, has general oversight of 43 public use airports and almost 400 restricted use facilities, including airstrips, heliports and balloonports."

    Here's a gallery of New Jersey from above. And, here are links to similar galleries from the past.

    Vintage aerial photos of N.J.

    Vintage photos of N.J. from above

    Vintage photos of aviation 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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    Convenience just got even more convenient.


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    Who is the top junior forward in N.J. boys basketball?


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    Take a look at the best performances at the county and conference championships this season.


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    Check out where N.J.'s top college wrestlers are ranked nationally


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    One more Democrat and one more Republican have entered the congressional district race.

    Add three more candidates to the list of those seeking the U.S. House being vacated by retiring Rep. Frank LoBiondo.

    Brian Fitzherbert of Somers Point, is seeking the Republican nomination and Sean Thom of Millville and Will Cunningham of Vineland are going for the Democratic nod. 

    Fitzherbert is the second Republican to enter the race, joining former FBI agent Robert Turkavage of Brigantine, a two-time unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate.

    Trying to keep seat in GOP hands

    While Turkavage said he would have joined LoBiondo in opposing the Republican tax bill, which gutted the federal deduction for state and local taxes, and voting against the GOP health care legislation that would have left 23 million more Americans without insurance, Fitzherbert supports both the tax legislation and repealing the Affordable Care Act.

    "The solution is not more government regulation, taxation, and legislative mandates; it is economic competition and accountability," Fitzherbert said in announcing his candidacy.

    Fitzherbert is a businessman, engineer and project manager in the defense and aerospace industry.

    Thom, a school administrator, and Cunningham, a congressional committee counsel, are running for the Democratic nomination against state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, and retired teacher Tanzie Youngblood of Woodwich.

    The Cook Political Report, a Washington-based publication that tracks congressional races, calls the contest a toss-up.

    Jonathan D. Salant may be reached at jsalant@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JDSalant or on Facebook. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook. 


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    The New Jersey Sex Offender Internet Registry includes dozens of offenders listed as "non-compliant."


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    Without these programs, each year thousands of teen get a criminal record for non-serious offenses.


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    Pets throughout New Jersey patiently await someone to bring them home from rescues and shelters.

    It hasn't been declared an official national holiday yet, but 'Super Sunday' sure tries to be one. And as with any holiday -- and the celebrations that go along with a holiday - the festivities and pets may not necessarily mix.

    Here are some reminders to help keep your pet from becoming a medical emergency:

    --It's not unusual for emergency veterinarians to treat dogs for a chicken or rib bone they have swallowed. Ribs and wings are popular football foods; dogs geting a hold of some can lead to major problems. Make sure to keep them and finished plates where pets can't reach them.

    --Dogs are naturally going to want to participate in the vittles at a gathering and some folks give them as treats, but be aware of things a pet can't eat. Foods that can sicken dogs include: avocados, apple seeds, caffeinated beverages or alcohol, onions, potatoes, grapes, tomatoes and chocolate.

    --Comings and goings are a natural part of parties, whether its guests arriving or perhaps people stepping outside for a smoke. Pets that live indoors may be excited by all the company ... and bolt out an open door. If your pet isn't supposed to go out, make sure you and your guests don't leave doors open for very long.


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    No service is operating in New Jersey east of the Broadway station.

    PATCO service between Camden and Philadelphia has been limited on Monday morning due to a downed electrical pole. 

    There is only one 4-car train running between Broadway in Camden and the stop at 16th and Locust in Philadelphia, PATCO said.

    No service is operating in New Jersey east of the Broadway station.

    Earlier, service was suspended completely on the entire line after the pole fell near Ferry Avenue.

    NJ Transit is cross-honoring PATCO tickets. PATCO also advised riders to seek alternate transportation.

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

     


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    Who's up and who's down in latest Top 20?


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    Carol Rhodes writes that Camden's resurgence comes only from massive state-backed tax breaks for businesses.

    I strongly disagree with the adage that money can't buy you love.

    Look at the City of Camden.

    The "Camden resurgence" is based mainly on a handful of already wealthy corporations professing their love and loyalty to Camden -- but ONLY in return for receiving state-backed tax credits to locate or expand there.

    I'm grateful that New Jersey's new governor, Phil Murphy, has called for a performance audit on some of these incentives, which were approved by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. In Camden alone, these could cost taxpayers close to $2 billion in lost revenue. U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, D-1st Dist. -- a strong supporter as a former state lawmaker of EDA changes that shifted more incentive dollars to Camden -- has seen businesses owned by his relatives receive a large chunk of the tax credits.

    If Murphy's investigation finds that fraud has been perpetrated on New Jersey taxpayers, will any improper tax credits be rescinded?  Will the Camden love affair die an unseemly death, like the city's soon-to-be-demolished Riversharks' minor-league baseball stadium?

    In the past, a lot of public money was poured into Camden with no tangible results. I strongly doubt that making the rich richer will profit the city's residents.

    I want all pending transactions by the EDA suspended until Murphy's investigation is completed.

    Carol Rhodes, Barnsboro

    Thanks to young Christmas card crafters

    I am trying to find the school and students who made the most wonderful Christmas cards for the residents of the Shepherd's Farm Senior Housing complex in West Deptford Township.

    One of our residents accepted the cards from a woman who brought them to our building. The woman said they were from elementary school children, but that is all of the information I have.

    The residents want to thank these young children and let them know how thoughtful this was, and how much it meant to us.

    So, if anyone reading this can supply the information, I would be most grateful.

    Joyce Nuneviller, West Deptford Township

    'Dreamers' OK, but not their chain of relatives

    Doesn't anybody do the math? 

    A proposed Trump administration deal on "dreamers" -- young immigrants who were brought to the United States without legal status -- would grant eligibility for citizenship to up to 1.8 million people. I do not have a problem with this. 

    The problem I see is with opening a path for similar legal status to parents and other adult relatives of "dreamers." The president and his supporters call this family-based immigration "chain migration," and Trump wants to restrict it to the siblings and children of a dreamer or other naturalized citizen. Some oppose such strict "chain" limits.

    Now, if each of the 1.8 million can bring in, or authorize as legal, two working-age parents, it would mean that means 3.6 million more people would be in the legal work force. Then, we'd be right back where we were a few years ago, with a lot of unemployment and too few jobs. Is this really where we want to go? 

    On top of it all, there are new immigrants who are arriving illegally, and the "sanctuary city" debacle, where local jurisdictions will not help the federal government with certain kinds of deportation actions. End sanctuary cities. Stop all this divisiveness and playing to the crowd. 

    Letting in more people in does not solve the problem, but enhances it. We need to have our elected officials to legislate for our country's benefit.

    Dominick A. Ruggiero, Sewell 

    Send a letter to the editor of South Jersey Times at sjletters@njadvancemedia.com

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


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    Authorities said they were looking to speak with her nephew, who was later located.

    Authorities in Camden County are investigating the suspicious death of a 46-year-old Berlin Township woman.

    Jennifer Whipple was discovered in her Taylor Woods apartment Saturday around 9 p.m., according to the county prosecutor's office. The release said she had "signs of trauma to her body" but did not say whether her death was suspected to be a homicide.

    Winslow Township police officers discovered Whipple's body after someone called to request officers check on her wellbeing, the release said.

    Initially, the prosecutor's office made public the name and photograph of Whipple's nephew, Shane Whipple, saying that investigators wanted to speak with him. The release said he should be considered dangerous and asked anyone who spotted him to call 911.

    His name and photo were later removed from the online press statement and the prosecutor's office said he had been located.

    Prosecutor's office spokeswoman Alexandra McVeigh said Shane Whipple's name was removed only because he'd been found, and declined to elaborate.

    "Since the investigation is ongoing, and there have been no charges at this time, no further information will be released," she said.

    Anyone with information regarding Whipple's death is asked to contact Camden County Prosecutor's Office Detective Matthew Barber at 856-225-5166 or Winslow Township Police Detective Luke Mitchell at 609-561-3300.

    Information may also be emailed to ccpotips@ccprosecutor.org.

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


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    It's a new ordinance in case you haven't heard, the mayor warned.

    If you have a flag that has a colonial or Patriots logo, you may find it hard to take a shower or wash dishes, at least according to a letter sent in jest by a South Jersey mayor to a neighbor.

    Days before the Super Bowl 52 matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots, a post on the borough's Facebook page was made, showing a copy of a letter sent by Collingswood Mayor Jim Maley to a neighbor.

    In the letter, Maley Jr. stated an ordinance was recently passed by the borough banning flags with a Colonial solider, or one that resembles a Patriot, from being flown in the Camden County borough.

    The letter went on to say that any person who does not remove the flags, which were deemed "eyesores," would have their water shut off by the borough.

    Maley Jr. said his neighbor has had a Patriots flag that has been flying for close to 2 to 3 years.

    "I hope that the flag comes down after Sunday night," Maley said after being asked for a prediction. "Go Eagles."

    For the record, the town does not officially have an ordinance for what was described in the letter. However, some people commenting on the Collingswood Facebook page are having fun with it.

    One person commented asking if green flags were allowed.

    The response from the borough:

    "People with Eagles flags get a tax reduction, obviously. "

    Chris Franklin can be reached at cfranklin@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @cfranklinnews. Find NJ.com on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    In the last 3 years, at least 15 children died after the state had opened investigations into their well-being.


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    There's plenty of movement in this week's South Jersey rankings.


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    The Philadelphia Eagles will take on the New England Patriots in Minnesota on Feb. 4.


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    The new charges stem from a case in the early 1990s.

    Gary Drach.jpgGary R. Drach, 51, of Blackwood. (New Jersey State Police)
     

    A registered sex offender who served 12 years for assaulting a minor 20 years ago has pleaded guilty to charges involving another minor in the 1990s.

    Gary R. Drach, 51, of Blackwood, pleaded guilty Monday to sexually assaulting a girl under the age of 13 between 1992 and 1993 in Deptford Township, according to the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office.

    Prosecutors will recommend a 7-year prison term when Drach is sentenced on April 20.

    Before sentencing, Drach will be evaluated at the state Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center at Avenel to determine if he is a repetitive and compulsive offender who should serve his sentence at Avenel.

    Police can't find these registered sex offenders

    Drach previously pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a different minor in 1997 and was sentenced in 1998 to 12 years at Avenel.

    He's listed on the state registry as a Tier 2 - Moderate Risk sex offender.

    Authorities learned of the early '90s assault in 2016.

    Matt Gray may be reached at mgray@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattGraySJT. Find the South Jersey Times on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us: nj.com/tips.


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    The "underdog" Eagles take on the Patriots in Super Bowl 52.


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