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Local Beat: Ratings Agency Warns Stockton Over Debt for AC Development

Thursday Jun 23, 2016  |  0 comments

Local Beat is the NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best reporting by community news sources.

RATINGS AGENCY WARNS STOCKTON OVER DEBT FOR AC DEVELOPMENT
The debt ratings agency Fitch Ratings says Stockton University may find itself in a “weakened financial position” after it issued new debt to build a parking garage and residence hall in Atlantic City. Elinor Comlay of Route 40 says Stockton is borrowing $70 million to pay for the development, and another $211 million to refund outstanding debts and finance projects at its Galloway campus.

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Local Beat: Beloved New Brunswick Pub to Change Hands

Thursday Jun 09, 2016  |  0 comments

Local Beat is the NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best reporting by community news sources.

NEW BRUNSWICK INSTITUTION, TUMULTY’S, TO CHANGE HANDS
New Brunswick Today editor Charlie Kratovil is usually busy sniffing out political scandal, but this week he shows his colors as a Hub City bro. Kratovil reports that Tumulty’s Pub, a local institution which challenges customers to figure out how to eat the massive $17.95 Death by Burger, is changing hands. Here is the hard-nosed Kratovil at his most wistful: “Despite relocating to new buildings twice during its lengthy run, Tumulty’s remained one of the few spaces in a rapidly-changing area that did not seem to change much at all from year to year.” Okay, he doesn’t really do wistful. A little political scandal also sneaks into the story – involving the closure of a nearby parking deck

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Local Beat: Civic Hackers Make Sure Restaurants Have Digital Chops

Thursday Jun 02, 2016  |  0 comments

Local Beat is the NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best reporting by community news sources.

CIVIC HACKERS MAKE SURE TRENTON RESTAURANTS HAVE DIGITAL CHOPS
Code for Trrenton, a group of civic hackers who use their computer skills for good in the state’s capital, has completed a six-month project helping restaurants in Trenton establish an online presence that includes photos and menus. If restaurants didn’t have a menu online, volunteers went to the eatery to take a photo of one. They then created a Google map of the restaurants. Read about what Code for Trenton did and how they did it on the group’s Medium page.

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Local Beat: Bedminster Startup Aims to Stop Kid-on-Kid Bullying

Thursday May 26, 2016  |  0 comments

Local Beat is the NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best reporting by community news sources.

BEDMINSTER STARTUP AIMS TO STOP KID-ON-KID BULLYING
We all heard the tragic story of a British Columbia teenager, Amanda Todd, who killed herself in 2012 after being bullied online, but Todd Schobel decided to do something about it. NJ Tech Weekly profiles the Bedminster entrepreneur who founded an anti-bullying startup, STOPit, which enables kids to quickly and anonymously report bullying, drug dealing, and other troubling peer behavior.

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Local Beat: Manhunt in Barnegat, Plans to Close Oyster Creek

Thursday May 05, 2016  |  0 comments

Local Beat is the NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best reporting by community news sources.

JSHN STAYS ON TOP OF MANHUNT FOR ESCAPED BARNEGAT PRISONER
The newly-launched Jersey Shore Hurricane News website has been keeping close tabs on the manhunt for a convict who escaped from the prison unit of Ancora Psychiatric Hospital in Winslow Tuesday. JSHN reported that the Barnegat Township School District considered closing schools today if the fugitive wasn’t found, but ultimately decided to stay open with police presence. JSHN is still publishing on Facebook, where it started in 2011 just days before Hurricane Irene.

OYSTER CREEK NUCLEAR PLANT CLOSURE PLANS DETAILED 
Oyster Creek Nuclear Plant, the oldest operating nuclear power plant in the US, is on track to close in November, 2019, The Southern Ocean Times reports. Although a 2019 closure was announced in 2010, shutting down a nuclear plant is not as easy as it appears on The Simpsons. The plant’s owner, Exelon Corporation, is now working out safety plans to prevent, among other things, zirconium fire. The Times report is based on minutes from a meeting between Exelon and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

MAPLEWOOD CONSIDERS LEAF BLOWER BAN DURING SUMMER
The Village Green reports that freelancers may be able to concentrate and babies to nap if Maplewood’s township committee goes through with a plan to ban leaf blowers from June 1 to August 31.

DIGITAL PIONEER CELEBRATED AT BELL LABS
Civic Story joined 250 information theorists, scientists, engineers and researchers at Nokia Bell Labs in Murray Hill last week as they celebrated what would have been the 100th birthday of Claude Shannon, the man who first recognized that all data could be reduced from its analog form into what we now call “bits.” Civic Story founder Susan Haig was particularly charmed by anthropologist and tech designer Amber Case, who spoke about designing “calm technology” to combat the constant interruptions from all the devices that arose from Shannon’s insight.

BIEBER-COP SELFIE MAKES NEWS 
That wily bad boy of pop music, Justin Bieber, has had several run-ins with the law over the years, but this week Bieber initiated one himself when he “pulled over” a Bergen County Sheriff’s officer in Wood-Ridge and the two then posed for a selfie. The report by Jerry DeMarco of DV Pilot, a reincarnation of DeMarco’s Cliffview Pilot under the Daily Voice brand, was picked up by NJ.com and New Jersey 101.5.

HYPERLOCAL REPORTS ON BIRTH OF A COMPETITOR
This story is heartwarming to those of us who have worked hard to foster cooperation among media in NJ. The Fairlawn-Glen Rock Daily Voice yesterday ran a generous feature on hometown competitor Julie Maxwell Allen’s startup Banana Tree News, which covers some of the same territory. The DV story explained the choice of the Banana Tree name: “Her inspiration was a fake banana tree that has been a fixture in Kilroy’s Wonder Market for all of the grocery store’s 100 years in business.”

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Verona Voting Place Moved Over Mayor’s Objections

Thursday Apr 28, 2016  |  0 comments

Local Beat is NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best reporting from local news sites around New Jersey. 

VERONA VOTING PLACE MOVED TO CONDO OVER MAYOR’S OBJECTIONS
Over objections of Verona’s mayor, the Essex County elections board has decided to move the voting location for one of the town’s districts to a private luxury townhouse building, MyVeronaNJ reports. The mayor calls the polling place change, which goes into effect with the June primary, “politically motivated,” and argues that the condo not only lacks handicap parking spaces but has a steep grade that may make access difficult for some voters.

DJ, DECRYING TICKETMASTER FEE, CREATES A WORKAROUND
When DJ Rich Russo of the syndicated radio show “Anything Anything” discovered that Ticketmaster was marking up tickets for a July 15 show he’s hosting in Asbury Park by 45 percent, he was outraged. But he figured out a way to help music lovers bypass Ticketmaster. He’s offered to go to Asbury Park himself, buy the tickets locally at a more reasonable 15 percent markup, and distribute them to concert-goers himself. NJArts.net has the story.

WHAT’S KILLING THE FISH IN A PRINCETON LAKE?
Hundreds of dead and rotting fish have floated to the surface of Princeton’s Lake Carnegie this spring, and nearby residents say they’ve never seen anything like it. Planet Princeton reports that the state’s Department of Environmental Protection sent an officer to investigate after resident complaints, but the official was not alarmed, saying that temperature changes this time of year can result in fish deaths. An investigation, however, continues.

TOMS RIVER MAY FINALLY GET MUNICIPAL BOAT RAMP
Despite its miles of waterfront, Toms River has never had a municipal boat ramp. The Toms River Times reports on efforts to get one built.

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Local Beat: Two Versions of Shooting at Franklin/New Brunswick Border

Thursday Apr 14, 2016  |  0 comments

Local Beat is NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best reporting from local news sites around New Jersey.

 

FRANKLIN MAN SHOT BY FRANKLIN POLICE, IN NEW BRUNSWICK: TWO VERSIONS
The police shooting Saturday of a 27-year-old man, Diahlo Grant, near the border of New Brunswick and Franklin Township became a story for two local news outlets, New Brunswick Today and Franklin Reporter & Advocate. The victim, Diahlo Grant of Franklin Township, was black; police reports say he carried a gun and exchanged fire with police officers. He was being pursued for outstanding warrants.

Although the Franklin Township police began their chase in Franklin, the shooting actually took place across the border in New Brunswick. That means that the Middlesex County prosecutor, rather than the Somerset County prosecutor, will investigate – and that is the focus of Charlie Kratovil’s story for New Brunswick Today. “Now it is up to [Middlesex Prosecutor Andrew C.] Carey and his controversial agency, which has been accused of covering for cops in the past, to investigate the fatal shooting and determine if the out-of-town police ought to be charged with crimes,” Kratovil writes.

Kratovil’s story also points out how rare it is for police to be charged for shootings in NJ: “New Jersey police officers shot and killed seventeen people in 2015, and killed another five by running them over with vehicles, but only one cop was charged with crimes stemming from the incidents.”

The Franklin Reporter’s initial story covers the same ground about the shooting, but has been updated with a series of articles from the community perspective: the creation of a Facebook group called #JusticeForDiahlo, a GoFundMe campaign to pay for Grant’s funeral, the reaction of the local NAACP and photos of a candlelight vigil.

CHALLENGER TO DONALD NORCROSS LOSES COURT BATTLE
NJ Pen writes about a court challenge by Alex Law against Camden County Clerk Joseph Ripa, charging the clerk with “secrecy, stonewalling, and carrying out partisan political agendas” in the construction of the primary ballot that pits Law against incumbent Donald Norcross in the Democratic primary for the 1st Congressional District. Law lost his case, which involves extremely technical and complicated issues about “bracketing” of candidates, in superior court. Norcross, of course, is the brother of NJ power broker George Norcross.

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Local Beat: BOE Calls for Investigation of Roselle Park Tuition Scandal

Thursday Apr 07, 2016  |  0 comments

ROSELLE PARK BOE CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION OF TUITION SCANDAL
The Roselle Park Board of Education has appointed an independent investigator to look into allegations that the principal of Robert Gordon Elementary School allowed an out-of-district relative to attend the school tuition-free for more than five months. Saul Qersdyn of Roselle Park News says no payments were made from September 2015 to January of this year, despite contract requirements.

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Local Beat: Farmingdale Mourns Passing of Longtime Mayor

Thursday Mar 31, 2016  |  0 comments

Local Beat is NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best reporting from local news sites around New Jersey.

FARMINGDALE MOURNS PASSING OF LONGTIME MAYOR
The borough of Farmingdale, NJ is mourning the loss of Mayor John P. “Jay” Morgan, who died earlier this week after serving his community for 13 years. The Howell Times says Morgan had recently been diagnosed with cancer.

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Local Beat: The Montclarion Takes Home Newspaper Contest Wins

Thursday Mar 24, 2016  |  0 comments

Local Beat is NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best reporting from local news sites around New Jersey.

THE MONTCLARION TAKES HOME NEWSPAPER CONTEST WINS
Montclair State’s campus newspaper, The Montclarion, took home three awards from the 2015-2016 NJ Collegiate Newspaper Contest. The competition is hosted by the New Jersey Press Foundation in order to reward exceptional media from student newspapers in the state.

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Local Beat: Citizen Journalist Documents Crumbling CSX Rail Bridge

Thursday Mar 10, 2016  |  0 comments

Local Beat is NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best reporting from local news sites around New Jersey. 

CITIZEN JOURNALISM: DOCUMENTING A CRUMBLING BRIDGE IN HOPEWELL
When a Hopewell Borough man heard an NPR story about poorly-maintained rail bridges used by tankers transporting crude oil, he decided to take a look at a CSX train bridge right near his home, and documented what he found on video. MercerMe, which has been closely following CSX, ran the video and asked CSX for comment.

COURT RULING MAY PAVE WAY FOR MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN NJ
The Ocean County Superior Court ruled last month that 13 local municipalities had not met their affordable housing requirements. Ocean County Politics says the decision could be a victory for affordable housing proponents throughout the state because it cast doubts on a report commissioned by the League of Municipalities and prepared by Econsult Solutions, which asserted that only 37,000 new affordable housing units need to be developed statewide over the next decade. Affordable housing advocates put the number at 202,000.

700 TESTED FOR LEAD CONTAMINATION IN MORRISTOWN  
Following up on last week’s story that lead was found in drinking water at Morristown Medical Center, Morristown Green reports that 700 people – including children at the hospital’s day care center – have been tested for lead levels in their blood.

NJ CRAFT BEER MAKERS FACE CHALLENGE FROM BIG BEER
Jersey Bites looks at a new incentive plan rolled out by Anheuser Busch, which will reward beer distributors whose sales are at least 98 percent AB products, and how that could endanger craft beer makers in NJ.

NEWARK ROBOTICS CENTER SPACE FOR LEASE
While the grudge match between Gov. Christie and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka over charter schools continues to grab headlines, Essex County Place notices that a tiny vacant lot, owned by the Newark Schools, has now been listed for lease. In 2008, a groundbreaking ceremony was held on the East Ward lot to celebrate a future robotics center for the Newark Schools. It was never built.

BELLMAWR SUED FOR NOT TAKING MINUTES AT MEETING
Freelance open records advocate John Paff has sued Bellmawr Borough under OPRA for failing to keep any minutes or records of its regular caucus meetings, South Jersey Observerreports.  “I have been doing this for about 20 years and I don’t think I have ever found an instance of Borough Council or a Municipal Council not keeping meeting minutes at all, for a class of meetings,” Paff told the Observer.

CELEBRATE 350 SONGS ABOUT NEW JERSEY 
NJArts.net spent a year on a project called 350 Jersey Songs, which featured a daily feature on a song related to New Jersey. This Sunday, there’ll be a concert-fundraiser in Garwood to celebrate the project and raise money for NJArts. Tickets are $25 and available here.

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