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

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    Come and meet the 41 track and field teams that earned sectional title this past week.

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    The list features more than 100 athletes that won multiple gold medals at the NJSIAA Sectional Championships.

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    "American Ninja Warrior" is ready to kick off its 10th season, and the show's popularity continues to grow. Among the contestants competing for the $1 million prize are 14 athletes from New Jersey.

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    The Knickerbockers, who had a #20 hit in 1966 with "Lies" (they sounded a lot like the Beatles), took their name from their hometown's main street, Knickerbocker Road in Bergenfield.

    When I was growing up, my father was the photographer in the family.


    He started shooting home movies in the '60s. And, when we set off on a trip somewhere, the home movie would start with scenes taken through the front window of the car, complete with his knuckles on the steering wheel.

    He said he was "establishing the route" or something and we, of course, made fun of him for it.

    Now when we look at them again, he has the last laugh because those scenes of the streets and roads we were traveling are the ones people perk up for. "Look! There's so-and-so's store!" or "I forgot the such-and-such used to be there!"

    The photos in this gallery and galleries like it we've done in the past serve the same purpose. It's fascinating to see what streets we might drive down every day looked like 40 years ago ... 60 years ... 80 years. In one instance in the gallery, there's a photo of a street in my hometown from more than 150 years ago.

    Enjoy these scenes of streets and roads in New Jersey, as well as these links to other galleries. And if you have photos like the films my Dad used to take, by all means send them in, knuckles and all.

    Vintage photos of N.J. street scenes

    Vintage photos of streets and roads in N.J.

    Vintage photos of New Jersey street scenes

    Vintage photos of street scenes in N.J.

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

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    New leader and six teams unranked a week ago

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    Everything you need to know heading into Friday's action.

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    Group championships are Friday and Saturday. Prepare yourself with our preview of all 12 meets at Franklin Township and Central Regional.

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    Atlantic City High School students celebrated their prom on Thursday night at Harrah's Resort, dancing the night away.

    It was a night to remember for Atlantic City High School students as they celebrated their prom at Harrah's Resort Atlantic City Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City on Thursday night.

    Prom-goers arrived dressed to the nines as they socialized, posed for photos and danced the night away.

    Check back at for other local high school prom coverage. And be sure to check out our complete prom coverage at

    Are you one of the people pictured at this prom? Want to buy the photo and keep it forever? Look for the blue link "buy photo" below the photographer's credit to purchase the picture. You'll have the ability to order prints in a variety of sizes, or products like magnets, keychains, coffee mugs and more.

    Lori M. Nichols may be reached at Follow her on Instagram @photog_lori and Twitter @photoglori. Find on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us.

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    Clearview Regional High School students celebrated their prom on Thursday night at The Merion, dancing the night away.

    It was a night to remember for Clearview Regional High School students as they celebrated their prom at The Merion in Cinnaminson on Thursday night.

    Prom-goers arrived dressed to the nines as they socialized, posed for photos and danced the night away.

    Check back at for other local high school prom coverage. And be sure to check out our complete prom coverage at

    Are you one of the people pictured at this prom? Want to buy the photo and keep it forever? Look for the blue link "buy photo" below the photographer's credit to purchase the picture. You'll have the ability to order prints in a variety of sizes, or products like magnets, keychains, coffee mugs and more.

    Tim Hawk may be reached at Follow him on Instagram @photog_hawk and Twitter @photogthawk. Find on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us.

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    Vineland High School students celebrated their prom on Thursday night at The Claridge Hotel.

    It was a night to remember for Vineland High School students as they celebrated their prom at The Claridge Hotel in Atlantic City on Thursday night.

    Prom-goers arrived in style as they socialized, posed for photos and danced the night away.

    Check back at for other local high school prom coverage. And be sure to check out our complete prom coverage at

    Are you one of the people pictured at this prom? Want to buy the photo and keep it forever? Look for the blue link "buy photo" below the photographer's credit to purchase the picture. You'll have the ability to order prints in a variety of sizes, or products like magnets, keychains, coffee mugs and more.

    Lori M. Nichols may be reached at Follow her on Instagram @photog_lori and Twitter @photoglori. Find on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us.

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    Hatchet houses that offer ax throwing are cropping up across the state, inviting locals to try their hand at lodging the metal implements in wood targets. From Stumpy's Hatchet House to Bury the Hatchet, Axehole's Hatchet House and Chopper's, there's no shortage of ways to throw an ax in New Jersey.

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    The annual 40-round Major League Baseball amateur draft will be held June 4-6 in Secaucus.

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    A new No. 1 and plenty of movement has stirred up the SJ Top 20 again this week.

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    The Camden pair robbed 8 stores at gunpoint and left a cashier in Pennsauken paralyzed

    The two men who committed a series of armed robberies at 7-Elevens throughout South Jersey -- including one that paralyzed a store clerk in Pennsauken -- are headed to prison.

    Charles Walls and Anthony Ervin, both from Camden, were sentenced Friday after pleading guilty in April to the early morning robberies of eight 7-Elevens in Mercer, Burlington and Camden counties between January and June 2014, the Office of the Attorney General said Friday afternoon.

    Walls, now 35, was sentenced to 30 years in state prison with 17 1/2 years of parole ineligibility. He got 20 years for attempted murder and a concurrent 10-year sentence for the robbery charge.

    Ervin, 27, was sentenced to 12 years in state prison with 10 years of parole ineligibility after pleading guilty to first-degree robbery.

    Driving in a red-orange Chevrolet Sonic, the pair robbed stores at gunpoint, dressed in masks, hoodies and gloves. One would aim a handgun at store clerks while the other raided the cash register and stole cigarettes. In four robberies, Ervin and Walls used zip ties to restrain the convenience store workers.

    The men were linked to 7-Eleven hold-ups in Moorestown, Hamilton, Medford Lakes, Marlton and Blackwood, Pennsauken and two in Cherry Hill.

    The armed robberies left one store clerk paralyzed by gunshots fired by Walls.

    Paralyzed man becomes nationally-ranked athlete

    It was just before 1 a.m. on June 10, 2014 when the two men, as well as a third accomplice who has not been identified, barged into the 7-Eleven on Westfield Avenue in Pennsauken, demanding money and cartons of cigarettes. When the clerk, then-28-year-old Adil Boutahli, did not move fast enough to get the money, the robbers pistol whipped him, knocked him on the ground, and opened fire on him when he tried to get up.

    Boutahli, a Moroccan immigrant who was well-known for going out of his way for customers, survived the attack, sustaining gunshot wounds, spinal injuries, and weeks in critical condition. He has not walked on his own since the shooting.

    While the two robbers face time in prison, Boutahli went on to become a nationally ranked wheelchair tennis player as a result of his time playing tennis at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia, where he ranked fifth in the nation in his ability group.

    "Beginning with Walls' ruthless shooting of a young store clerk in Pennsauken, these armed robbers spread terror at 7-Eleven stores across three counties," Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said. "The sentences imposed today ensure that these dangerous criminals have been removed from our communities for many years to come."

    Gianluca D'Elia may be reached at gdelia@njadvancemedia.comFollow him on Twitter @gianluca_delia. Find on Facebook.

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    When one Wawa door closes, another one -- or sometimes, three -- open.

    Here are a few ways to tell if your favorite Wawa needs a makeover or could soon be closing its doors: Is there enough parking? Can you fill up your vehicle's gas tank? Is it on a heavily-traveled, morning-drive time route?

    If the answer is no to any of these questions, the days of operation for your favorite Philly-branded convenience store may be numbered.

    Just ask the folks at the usually bustling Wawa on Warwick Road in Somerdale, across from Sterling Regional High School. The store appeared to be booming until it suddenly shut down late last month.

    wawa closing somerdale.jpgA Wawa convenience store in Somerdale recently closed after more than two decades of business. 

    All wasn't lost, though. A gleaming new super Wawa was already up and running on the White Horse Pike at Somerdale Road --less than a mile away -- with a much larger footprint, including gasoline pumps.

    "Fortunately, this is not a sad story," said Somerdale Mayor Gary Passanante.

    When one glass door at Wawa closes, it seems like another one -- if not three -- are almost always ready to open. 

    Throughout New Jersey, the recognizable shells of the older-style Wawas can still be seen in their reincarnated forms -- produce stores, off-brand convenience shops, delis or even a dentist's office. 

    The shift from the legacy stores to the newer models, featuring gasoline outside and improved layouts and offerings inside, sometimes means shutting down an existing store to be remodeled. Other times, it means closing it completely -- which was the case in Somerdale.

    "We've evolved as our customer's needs have evolved," said Lori Bruce, a Wawa spokeswoman. "In our smaller stores customers tell us parking is the No. 1 issue. In addition, they wanted additional amenities, they wanted to be able to get fuel, a gallon of milk, coffee, a hoagie. As needs changed over the years our offers have evolved and that goes back to 1964 when we opened our first store."

    Passanante said the older Wawa location was very successful -- a steady stream of foot traffic from students and staff at the high school across the street helped -- but the chain did not own the site and an existing lease was nearing an end.

    The mayor said a new convenience chain -- Philadelphia-based Old Nelson Food Company which has 12 locations in the city and two in South Jersey already -- will be taking over the site of the former Wawa and may reopen the refurbished store as early as this month.

    "We're happy to still have Wawa in town," he said. "The new store they opened is one of their newer designs. It's a great business for the community and the new store is doing gangbusters business."

    If the one just around the corner isn't close enough, Wawa fans have plenty of options. Just over a mile from the newer store on the White Horse Pike is one of the legacy stores on Evesham Road in Magnolia. And 1.5 miles from the Somerdale location, another new Wawa is planned on the White Horse Pike in Stratford.

    wawa mapWawas abound in South Jersey, particularly in Gloucester and Camden counties, seen here.  

    Four more Wawas are scheduled to open this year in New Jersey: in Cherry Hill, Cinnaminson, Rahway and Mantua Township. Plans are also in the works for two other locations on Route 130 in Brooklawn, the site of an iconic diner currently named the Metro Diner and farther up the road in Pennsauken at the site of the Connie Mack Pub.

    The Pennsylvania chain now has over 800 stores in seven states. Bruce said Wawa plans to open up to 50 new stores a year for the foreseeable future, with at least 25 startups a year in Florida.

    Wawa also has stores in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, and more than 200 in New Jersey.

    One key in the Brooklawn and Pennsauken sites is both are on morning-drive routes on heavily-traveled roads. Passanante said that's no coincidence.

    "They know their customers well and they know where to be positioned to take advantage of that," Passanante said. "That is first and foremost when they are looking for locations. They want to know what side the morning traffic is on and dinner traffic."

    How N.J.'s newest convenience store Royal Farms stacks up to Wawa

    Passanante points to new locations of Royal Farms, a convenience chain competitor of Wawa nearby. Royal Farms, a Baltimore-based chain known for its signature fried chicken, entered the Jersey market with a store on the White Horse Pike in Magnolia last year on the opposite side of the road from the Wawa a quarter of a mile away. They have opened four more since and plans for another location on the White Horse Pike in Stratford were also recently approved.

    Bill Duhart may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @bduhart. Find on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us.


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    Highlights from the state tournament.

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    Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law extending the state's Urban Enterprise Zone program.

    The sales tax in five New Jersey cities is being cut in half again. 

    For three decades, businesses in Bridgeton, Camden, Newark, Plainfeld, and Trenton were allowed to levy half the state's sales tax because they took part in the state's Urban Enterprise Zone program, which is designed to help boost economically struggling areas.

    That changed early last year, when the program expired in those cities -- the original five that took part in the 34-year-old program -- and then-Gov. Chris Christie declined to renew them.

    But Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law this week to restore UEZs there for five years and extend the program until 2023 for other areas where the program was set expire before that time.

    That means those five cities will rejoin the other UEZ areas throughout New Jersey where shoppers have to shell out only half the state's 6.62 percent sales tax -- 3.3 percent.

    The new law (S846/A3549) -- which took effect immediately --  also requires the state to produce a report on whether the program should continue, be amended, or be discontinued. 

    Christie rejects sales tax cut for 5 N.J. cities

    Democratic state lawmakers who sponsored the measure praised Murphy for signing it into law Thursday, saying it will help attract new businesses and bring customers to areas that need help.

    "Urban Enterprise Zones have been an integral part of urban revitalization for many years now," said state Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, D-Hudson. "Extending their designation will help many cities remain economically competitive while spurring job growth and economic development."

    The measure passed both houses of the Democratic-controlled state Legislature in April -- 54-19-0 in the Assembly and 27-5 in the Senate.

    About 6,800 businesses in 23 UEZs in 32 municipalities across the state take part in the UEZ program, which began in 1983.

    The sales-tax discount has been the most attractive part of the program, but it also includes other incentives -- such as a break on energy taxes, a subsidy for unemployment insurance, and tax credits for certain hires.

    Though the program was originally supposed to end in 2003, state lawmakers voted in 2001 to extend it another 16 years.

    But Christie, a Republican, did not take action on a bill last year that would have extended the program another two years when it expired in the original five cities. 

    Christie said the program faced "apathetic participation" and had a "devastating impact on state revenues without any demonstrable benefit" to the cities.

    He added that the state faced losing $40 million in "retail sales tax alone" if the program was extended in those cities.

    Other areas that joined the program after 1983 were allowed to continue, though many were set to lose their status between 2019 and 2026.

    Murphy, a Democrat who succeeded Christie in January, said during a radio interview earlier this year that the program is "smart policy."

    "It gets action in downtown areas," he said in March. "It's a good economic proposition and it's particularly good for our urban communities." 

    The question now is: What will the state's sales tax be a few months from now?

    Currently, the sales tax in 6.625 percent. But Murphy has proposed returning it to 7 percent, reversing a deal Christie and Democratic lawmakers cut to reduce it in 2016 in exchange for a 23-cent hike in the state's gas tax. 

    But Democratic leaders of the state Legislature continue to oppose Murphy's plan with a month to go before they must agree to a state budget by June 30.

    Brent Johnson may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @johnsb01. Find Politics on Facebook.

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    Officers are trained that strikes to other body parts are less likely to result in serious injury Watch video

    Bystander videos of violent police encounters are never pretty, whether police are using compliance holds, fists, or weapons in making an arrest.

    But in recent months, two videos depicting New Jersey cops slugging arrestees in the head have shocked viewers.

    Most recently, a 20-year-old Philadelphia woman was punched in the head twice by a Wildwood police officer trying to arrest her for underage drinking on the beach.

    Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano, Jr. said the woman, Emily Weinman, assaulted the officer and he "did what he had to do."

    Police in Camden are not defending the actions of Officer Nicholas Romantino, who struck 32-year-old Edward Minguela 12 times in the head during a Feb. 22 arrest that was captured on surveillance video. Police thought he had a gun, but no gun was found.

    The Camden County Prosecutor's Office said it won't charge Romantino, but the police department has called the video "disturbing" and Romantino remains on unpaid leave as they investigate.

    Weinman's attorney did not say if she had any head trauma, injury, but Minguela's attorney said he suffered a concussion from the blows.

    The incidents have raised questions about why officers are aiming blows at subjects' heads, knowing that they could cause concussions or even more serious head injuries.

    Rutgers criminal justice professor Wayne Fisher chaired the New Jersey Police Training Commission when it issued the state's use of force guidelines, and he said no part of the body is off limits when an officer decides force is required to make an arrest. But the force has to be reasonable given the circumstances.

    "Police officers have the obligation to use only the amount of force necessary to accomplish their objective," he said.

    "A punch in the head can inflict serious injury so officers need to be judicious in their choice of action," he said. "But it can be sometimes necessary if an officer is in serious risk of being injured."

    Wendy Berk, vice president of the nonprofit Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey, didn't comment on police tactics but said that any blow to the head could lead to a brain injury. Seventy-five percent of brain injuries are considered mild, including concussions, but they can still have serious effects.

    She said a person might have headaches, nausea, an inability to concentrate, depression or drowsiness after a concussion.

    "Oftentimes those symptoms can subside," she said. "But even a mild brain injury can cause long term" physical and mental effects.

    Jon Shane, a retired Newark police captain who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said that officers are trained on which areas of the body are the most sensitive or have a greater risk of injury.

    "You're taught that there are red, green and yellow areas," he said Friday.

    Green areas are muscular spots, often on the arms and legs, where strikes or even baton blows would hurt but are less likely to cause long-term injury. The groin is an example of a yellow spot, where the risk of injury is higher.

    The head is a red area, he said.

    The training is meant to guide officers so they don't cause injury unintentionally, but it's not a rule.

    "There's nothing that says a strike to the head should be the last option... It could be the first option depending on what's going on," he said. For instance, if an officer is being attacked, facing off with an armed person, or dealing with an individual where he or she thinks it will be safest to disorient the suspect.  

    "It has to be driven by what the circumstances are," he said. "If at that time the officer feels he can bring someone into control by a strike to the head, to disorient him."

    In some situations, he said, a strike to the head could allow the officer to quickly get the person under control, as opposed to wrestling with him or her. "That's better than getting into a long ground battle," he said, because those can lead to injury, too.

    Fisher said use of force reviews are about determining whether the action taken was only that which is "reasonably necessary," and any video recordings help to establish the facts so a determination can be made.

    "Some are egregious, and you can't miss it, and other times it's hard to make a judgement call," he said.

    He said punches to the had can be justified, despite the risk of injury, if they were necessary given the situation -- even though may look alarming in a video.

    And he added:  "A video recording of someone struck in the head ought to make people stop and take pause."

    Rebecca Everett may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find on Facebook.

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    Dogs and cats throughout New Jersey await adoption.

    There's summer heat, and then there's oppressive summer heat.

    We're beginning to experience some of the latter, and while we do everything we can to keep ourselves cool, it's important to remember our pets as well.

    "If it's hot to you it's just as hot for your dog or cat, and probably even worse," said John Gickling, a board certified veterinarian in emergency and critical care. "We're better equipped to handle the heat because we perspire."

    Some tips on making sure your pets can deal with excessive heat:

    * If you walk your dog, pick the coolest time of the day, follow a shady route and bring water for your pet.

    * Older pets, overweight animals and dogs with short snouts suffer more in high heat.

    * If your pet is outdoors, make sure it has a cool place to lay and that water is always available. Avoid taking your pets anywhere that has concrete or blacktop until temperatures normalize.

    * Dogs may be overheating if they can't get up, aren't alert or can't stop panting. If you suspect overheating, hose your dog off but never use ice water, which worsens the situation. If this doesn't work, a visit to a veterinarian is important.

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    Sindy Menjivar-Hernandez departed her home in Haddon around 11 p.m.

    Police are looking for a 15-year-old girl from Camden County who vanished on Saturday night.

    missing-haddon-girl.jpgSindy Menjivar-Hernandez (Photo courtesy Haddon Township police) 

    Sindy Menjivar-Hernandez left her home on the 1200 block of Walnut Avenue in Haddon Township around 11 p.m. night, township police said Monday morning.

    She is 5-foot-3 and was wearing blue jeans, a dark grey or blue sweater and tan sneakers.

    Menjivar-Hernandez also went missing in March 2017, according to Camden County Police. 

    Police ask  anyone who sees her to call 9-1-1 immediately and report her location.

    Anyone with information is asked to contact Haddon police Det. Timothy Hak at 856-833-6209 or Camden County Prosecutor's Office Det. Briana Catts at 609-508-3333.
    Information may also be emailed to this address

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


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