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

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    The incident was reported to police on Saturday.

    Police are investigating after someone left racist literature on front lawns in Cherry Hill overnight.

    The printed messages contained racial epithets and expressed support for the Ku Klux Klan.

    The items were left in plastic bags at several houses in the Old Orchard section of the community, police reported Saturday.

    One of the fliers, attributed to a group called the Loyal White Knights, condemns interracial dating, includes a racist cartoon and tells readers to "join the white revolution."

    Cherry Hill Mayor Chuck Cahn issued a statement vowing to track down those responsible.

    "This type of hatred and bigotry will not be tolerated in our town," Cahn said. "We will investigate this matter until we identify the individuals responsible and will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law."

    The fliers apparently weren't limited to Cherry Hill.

    A Mount Laurel resident, who lives in a neighborhood not far from the Cherry Hill Township line, reported finding one of these fliers in her driveway.

    "I am a liberal and this disgusting diatribe specifically calls out 'liberals' in the top line in red," she said. "My neighborhood is integrated. My neighbors of color or of the Jewish religion must be appalled and perhaps frightened."

    Lloyd Henderson, president of the Camden County East NAACP chapter, was attending a state NAACP convention Saturday when he learned about the incident.

    He called the flier distribution a hateful and immoral act, saying Cherry Hill is a diverse community that won't stand for bigotry.

    "I firmly believe that hate doesn't live in Cherry Hill," he said. Henderson praised local police handling the search for those responsible.

    "In the end, hate's not going to win out," he said. "We believe we are on the right side of history and the NAACP has been for over 109 years."

    Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Cherry Hill Police at 856-488-7828. Tips may also be submitted anonymously at tips@cherryhillpolice.com or http://cherryhill-nj.com/forms.aspx?.

    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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    Pets throughout the state await adoption at shelters and rescues.

    Here is this week's collection of some of the dogs and cats in need of adoption in New Jersey.

    We accept dogs and cats for listing in the gallery from nonprofit shelters and rescues throughout New Jersey. If a group wishes to participate in this weekly gallery on nj.com, please contact Greg Hatala at greghatalagalleries@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.


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    Two of the top South Jersey teams took their lumps this past week, giving other programs a step closer to the top of the NJ.com Top 20.


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    The median salary is below $60,000 in more than 100 districts.


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    A new law enacted this year has made some important changes in the practice of voting by mail.

    Camden.jpg 

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    Find out which players, coaches and teams stand out so far.


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    The best matchups of the seventh week of the season


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    Howard Margolis writes that President Trump's enablers on weakening pollution rules should be driven from office.

    Although air pollution fuels global warming and destroys the health and lives of millions of people, it doesn't evoke visceral responses like President Donald Trump's daily tweets or his mocking of vulnerable people. Nevertheless, a frightening report from the Health Effects Institute concluded that air pollution killed 6.1 million people worldwide in 2016.

    An even more frightening 2018 environmental impact statement from the Trump administration states that current trends may cause a 7-degree Fahrenheit rise in the Earth's temperature by 2100. 

    Despite these horrific trends, the administration recently announced proposals to allow the release of more mercury into the air. This followed its earlier proposals to let cars and coal-fired power plants pollute more. 

    The underlying "why" is clear: Strict regulations that reduce air pollutants reduce profits. 

    Despite the administration's warning about catastrophic temperature increases, its report concluded that nothing could stop the rise. A sham? Los Angeles in particular has started to improved its air quality. 

    Releasing more pollutants will cause untold tragedies for millions who will be more susceptible to asthma, brain injury, cancer and stroke. Many forgotten Americans -- often poorer people living in congested, highly polluted areas -- will face these problems prematurely. No doubt the pollution and temperature increases will hit South Jersey counties.

    Los Angeles shows us that air-quality strides can be made. Scientific advances, along with strong environmental policies and support, are our best hopes for minimizing future damage. But the president has eviscerated attempts to minimize pollution and global warming.

    How did he gain this power? A Republican-controlled Congress, like a herd of frightened minions, obediently does Trump's bidding. U.S. Rep Tom MacArthur, R-3rd Dist., is a perfect example.

    Until Democrats hold the congressional majority, little will change. It will be "warp speed ahead" for pollution, unnecessary deaths and unimaginable human catastrophes. The only way to stop this to vote out Republicans in the Nov. 6 election. it must be a tsunami of blue, strong enough to end Republican majorities in both the House and Senate.

    Howard Margolis, Voorhees Township

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


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    There are a few new teams in the ranking. Find out who they are.


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    It's the same story as with many of yesterday's iconic retailers, but Sears squandered some opportunities connected with its unique status.

    Don't blink, or you'll miss the disappearance of the once-vaunted name "Sears" from a wide swath of South Jersey.

    In the troubled retailer's quest to remain afloat, its Deptford Mall department store is on the casualty list, as the company filed for bankruptcy and announced that it was shedding another 142 stores nationwide.

    By our count, the Deptford closure will leave Sears with no full-service stores south of Burlington County, assuming its Moorestown Mall store stays open for now. Sears in Atlantic County's Hamilton Mall, previously marked for closure, is currently undergoing liquidation.

    Some Kmart stores, including one in Glassboro, will go out of business, too, but that discount division has been dead in the water in our region for several years now. What was unthinkable not long ago was that the iconic "Sears" name would not appear on a single full-line store in Atlantic, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester or Salem counties.

    Sears' bankruptcy, given that so many of its current 700 stores will be affected,  will resonate wit job losses in every corner of the United States. Locally, the Deptford closing is shocking because the location is in one of the region's high-traffic malls, one that is expected to have a future as a shopping destination. As a result, leaseholders or mall managers should not have trouble recycling the Sears property, even if it must be carved into smaller stores. 

    What drove Sears into losing a staggering $11.7 billion since 2010 are the same factors that felled other brick-and-mortar stores, on steroids. Opportunities lost by the company's recent management are reminiscent of a football team that can't convert on third down and short yardage. Like many long-gone retailers, Sears has had a weak online presence, but the difference is that this retail giant had experience as the undisputed leader in phone and mail-order catalogue sales. And Sears' traditional walk-in strengths -- home improvement, automotive services -- have been doing well lately, with companies like Home Depot reporting strong sales and profits.

    It was only about five years ago that preservationists gave up their fight to save the former Sears, Roebuck and Co. store on Admiral Wilson Boulevard in Camden, which had been the focus of rehabilitation efforts. The building's 1927 origin gave it some architectural significance, but it was what was inside that evoked nostalgia for generations of area residents. In the time before malls, Sears in Camden was the first stop for new suburbanites who discovered that they needed a lawnmower, or when the washing machine stopped working. 

    The company had used the slogan "Solid as Sears" for some of its well-regarded brands: Kenmore and Coldspot appliances, Die Hard car batteries, Craftsman tools and Weatherbeater paints. Their carefully cultivated images of durability were the envy of any other retailer that offered own-brand merchandise. Recently, Sears has had to sell them off to raise cash.

    If there is any consolation for South Jersey and its employment picture, it's that one of the companies that did Sears in, Amazon, has just opened a massive fufillment center (warehouse) in nearby West Deptford Township, bringing 2,000 associated jobs. With an older warehouse in Logan Township, Amazon's head count in Gloucester County alone will be 5,000.

    Can displaced Sears and Kmart workers join an Amazon team that requires some similar skills, such as stocking, order-picking and making delivery arrangements? We hope so, and that the transition will go more smoothly than Sears' attempts to transition itself into the 21st century. 

    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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    See the boys soccer players and keepers that stood out in Week 6.


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    NJ Advance Media releases its latest group and conference rankings of the season.


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    Ali lived in the Cherry Hill home in the early 1970s.


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    Camden County will not condone hate or bigotry in even a single neighborhood of its 37 municipalities, a freeholder states.

    By Jonathan L. Young Sr.

    Racism, bigotry and hatred have no place in Camden County. There is no justification for equivocating on this issue. As citizens of the community, we have a responsibility to stand together and to say, "enough is enough." 

    It is only through unity that we can combat the evil pervasiveness of hateful ideologies. Unfortunately, recent trends have indicated that the fight for acceptance is going to get worse before it gets better.

    This past weekend, Cherry Hill residents reported to police that hate-filled, racist propaganda was distributed throughout their neighborhood. The flyers, wrought with racist language, caricatures and fear-mongering false statistics, were left on lawns, driveways and porches. Local officials and I are united in our response: This kind of hatred and bigotry will not be tolerated in our community.

    Worse yet is the realization that this incident is far from isolated. Earlier this year we saw a similar incident unfold on the campus of Camden County College. Last year, the Jewish Community Center in Cherry Hill received bomb threats at a time when Jewish communities across the country were being targeted with hate crimes.

    Across the country, similar shameful behavior has grown more pervasive in recent years. In February, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported that the number of U.S. organizations it identifies as hate groups rose for the third straight year. The center now lists 954 active hate organizations within our borders, 17 in New Jersey alone.

    This disturbing trend cannot be allowed to grow. Unfortunately, our nation's leaders have failed to condemn this disgusting behavior, and at their worst, have played a direct role in it. I watched in horror last August when the president of the United States declared, following a rally where neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members clashed with those there to protest them, that there were "fine people on both sides." 

    I have been disappointed and outraged by this White House again and again as the  nation's highest elected official refers to human beings as animals, decries protests for racial justice and tries to force his bigoted point of view into our country's immigration and citizenship laws.

    The events of this weekend are a reminder that those 954 organizations are more than just a number in the newspaper - they are real people who have made their mission the degradation and belittlement of our friends, neighbors and colleagues. In their worst iterations, they promote violence and destruction when words are not enough.

    Given this context, it is time for all of us to stand up and say together that hate has no home in Camden County. Thankfully, there are ways in our everyday lives that we can help to stem the spread of this dismal display of humanity's worst tendencies.

    To combat hate, we must begin to engage in a truly meaningful dialogue with the people around us. Talk about how these events affect you, how they make you feel, and how you think we should respond. Talk to your neighbors about their jobs and about their children, even if you have never talked to them before. It is easy to succumb to the allure of hatred when the thing we hate is that which we do not know or understand.

    Lastly, I put my faith in the parents in our community. Parents have the most important role in all of this. I am deeply sorry that parents in Cherry Hill had to explain those flyers to their children. But, I am hopeful that the next generation finally reverses this growing trend of hate across the country. Ensuring that happens is in the hands of today's parents. It is up to them to make sure their kids understand the value of diversity and the importance of unity and acceptance.

    We will not condone hate or bigotry in even a single neighborhood of our 37 municipalities. I have been encouraged by the response I've seen to these incidents over social media, crowdfunding sites and in my day-to-day interactions. Still, we have a lot of work to do and it starts with each and every one of us. We must start by standing together and saying that hate is not welcome here, and it will not be tolerated.

    Jonathan L. Young Sr. is a Camden County freeholder who resides in Berlin. The literature in question was discovered at homes in Cherry Hill's Old Orchard section on the morning of Oct. 13.

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


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    Paul Dougherty was an commissioner in Haddon Township.

    Paul Dougherty copy.jpgPaul Dougherty 

    An embattled elected official in Haddon Township announced his resignation Tuesday, nearly three months after he was charged with leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident and driving with an expired license.

    Paul Dougherty announced his resignation shortly before 5 p.m. in an email to fellow commissioners Randall Teague and Jim Mulroy. Teague also serves as mayor in the three-member township commission.

    "Effective upon this notice, I resign my position as a Haddon Township Commissioner. It was a pleasure to serve the Haddon Township community with the both of you. I wish the two of you and the Haddon Township residents and employees the best future," Dougherty's email read.

    Dougherty, Teague and Mulroy were not immediately available for comment Tuesday.

    Teague and Mulroy can appoint someone to fill Dougherty's seat until a special election next spring for the remainder of the unexpired term.

    Dougherty, 49, had served as a township commissioner since 2007. He was paid $21,000 annually for the position.

    He is also an attorney with a private practice and had recently been employed as a municipal prosecutor in Cherry Hill, Clementon and Medford. This work included prosecuting traffic violations and other offenses in municipal courts.

    Dougherty is scheduled to face a municipal court judge in Estelle Manor on Oct. 22 to answer charges from the July accident. The hearing was moved out of Camden County to avoid any conflict of interest from Dougherty's work as a prosecutor.

    A Haddon Township police report said Dougherty left the scene of an accident on the evening of July 19. He is accused a rear-ending another car at an intersection.

    Dougherty placed a cellphone call to police Chief Mark Cavallo 20 minutes after the accident was reported, according to police records obtained through a public records request. The police document said Dougherty told the chief his wife was involved in an accident and fled the scene after becoming nervous. He also said he called him because he did not trust a sergeant he believed was on duty that night. The accident report was taken by a patrolwoman at Dougherty's house that evening.

    The officer Dougherty said he didn't trust was Sgt. Thomas Whalen. He was not on duty that night.

    Whalen is one of four senior police officers who sued the chief and township commissioners, including Dougherty, over alleged sexual harassment by Cavallo. All of the officers and Cavallo are men. The claim against Cavallo was dismissed in June after a judge ruled the it was filed after a statute of limitations had passed.

    Bill Duhart may be reached at bduhart@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @bduhart. Find NJ.com on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips.

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    It's in your hands. Decide which New Jersey downtown ranks as Number 1.


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    Police said the man admitted to sex acts with one of the boys, and said he still had the young victim's soccer jersey

    It's been roughly 30 years since David Zechmeister, now 78, sexually assaulted two boys when they were between 10 and 12 years old, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office alleges.

    When officers showed up at Zechmeister's Gibbsboro home last year, he admitted to having a "sexual relationship" with one boy and showed police the cabin where some of the sex acts took place, according to police.

    Even 30 years later, it was still decorated with pictures the boy had drawn, as well as his old youth soccer jersey, according to documents prepared by the prosecutor's office.

    Police have been working the case for over a year and a half, since one alleged victim told a pastor at the church Zechmeister attends. The pastor confronted Zechmeister, who admitted the crime, the prosecutor's office said.

    Police confronted Zechmeister at his home April 1, 2017, and interviewed the alleged victim on April 20, 2017.

    It wasn't until earlier this month, Oct. 3, that the office arrested him on a charge of aggravated sexual assault. A week later, another man reported to the prosecutor's office that he had also been sexually abused by Zechmeister, prompting a charge of second-degree sexual assault to be filed, according to the criminal complaints.

    The first man told police that between 1987 and 1990, when he was 10 to 12 years old, he was sexually assaulted by Zechmeister approximately 24 times, always in the cabin or basement of Zechmeister's home, according to a probable cause statement.

    He described drawing pictures for Zechmeister and giving him one of his soccer jerseys, after he asked, the statement said.

    Zechmeister told police he recalled performing sex acts with the boy roughly seven times, and said he believed him to be 13 at the time.

    The second man came forward Oct. 10, after Zechmeister's arrest, and told detectives that the older man had sexually assaulted him once in 1990 when he was 12 and at the home for a sleepover, the probable cause statement said. He also said the assault happened in the cabin, the statement said.

    Zechmeister is being held at the Camden County Correctional Facility as prosecutor's prepare to argue that he should be detained pending trial.

    Anyone with information that could be relevant to the cases are asked to contact Camden County Prosecutor's Office Detective Allison Dube-Smith at 856-225-7105.

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

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    Haddon Township commissioner Paul Dougherty pleaded guilty Wednesday.

    PD.jpegDougherty. (Cortese AG Office)
     

    A Haddon Township elected official pleaded guilty Wednesday to a criminal charge for steering a disgruntled employee to a lawyer who successfully sued his own municipal government -- and accepting a $7,000 referral fee for it.

    Paul Dougherty resigned as a township commissioner Tuesday, hours before a public meeting of the three-member body that administers this town of 15,000 in Camden County. His resignation was part of a plea deal but was not mentioned in an email he sent to two fellow commissioners announcing his decision to step down.

    According to authorities, he was contacted in 2013 by a Haddon Township police officer who was having issues with her superiors and had just been suspended, according to the charges.

    "The officer asked Dougherty for help with the suspension and Dougherty, despite the clear conflict of interest presented by his status as a township commissioner, told her that she had the basis for a lawsuit against the township," a statement from state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.

    The law firm the officer hired to sue the town paid Dougherty a referral fee of $7,106, the statement said. He later returned the fee to the law firm after learning he was under investigation, officials said.

    His plea agreement recommends probation instead of jail time. He also forfeited his position as a township commissioner and is permanently barred from public office and public employment in the state. 

    Dougherty, who also works as an attorney, had not attended a government public meeting since mid-July, after he was charged with leaving the scene of a crash and driving with an expired license.

    Dougherty, 48, also serves as municipal prosecutor in several towns in Camden and Burlington counties, including Cherry Hill, Clementon and Medford. He had served on the elected three-member commission since 2007 and was paid $21,000 annually for the position.

    Dougherty is scheduled to face a municipal court judge in Estell Manor on Oct. 22 to answer charges from the July driving accident. The hearing was moved out of Camden County to avoid any conflict of interest from Dougherty's work as a prosecutor.

    Bill Duhart may be reached at bduhart@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @bduhart. Find NJ.com on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips.

     

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    Lights ... camera ... what exit?

    During a sports broadcast last week, Walt Disney Studios released a trailer for its release of "Aladdin" ... in the summer of 2019. I understand this is a live-action version, but didn't they release the animated version in right after I got married (1992)?

    I'm hearing excellent reviews for "A Star is Born" starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper ... but wasn't the Barbra Streisand/Kris Kristofferson version released when I was in high school (1976)?

    Remakes are certainly nothing new in Hollywood. Go to the Wikipedia page for 'List of Film Remakes' and prepare to sprain your index finger scrolling. It's split into two lists actually, because there are simply so many.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    But even though some of the films in this gallery scored ... quite low on rottentomatoes.com, I still watch/watched them, because they're original. Some fall into the 'so bad it's good' designation, while others really ARE good but simply got overlooked.

    New Jersey has hosted film crews for some truly outstanding classics, like "On the Waterfront," and some ... others. The movie industry was BORN in New Jersey, beginning with Thomas Edison and moving to the cliffhangers that were actually filmed on and over the cliffs around Fort Lee and Palisades Park. Even though major studios no longer call the state home, they regularly returned to their roots for the unique scenery that is New Jersey.

    Here's a gallery of films that were made, all or in part, in New Jersey. If you think of one that might be missing, check this previous gallery for more.

    Vintage photos of movies filmed in N.J.

    And here are some other galleries you may enjoy:

    Vintage photos of famous people seen in N.J.

    Vintage photos of famous folks from N.J.

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


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    Look at the top freshmen in the state and cast your vote for the best of the best.


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