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    Who's the best of the best?

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    A monument to honor immigrants in Newark's Ironbound community has made its debut and is permanently displayed in Peter Francisco Park behind Newark Penn Station.

    Manuel Yglesias is standing in a line of 14 immigrants. His image is carved, like the others, from a granite stone as massive as their dreams of a better life. Among the men, women and two children, Yglesias is the third person from the rear, wearing a top coat and a somber face of hope. The boat next to them is heading to America, where they will find a home in the Ironbound section of Newark.

    Yglesias arrived in 1918 from northern Spain. He worked hard and owned several businesses, including a Spanish specialty food store. His Ironbound story is similar to that of many immigrants from Europe and of African-Americans migrating from the South, as well as recent immigrants from Central and South America.

    They came looking for opportunity, and that spirit is captured in the Ironbound Immigrants Memorial Monument, a major piece of public art unveiled Saturday as a tribute to their American journey.

    MORE: Recent Barry Carter columns 

    The monument, worth one's time to visit, is behind Newark Penn Station in Peter Francisco Park. There's no way to miss its colossal stature on Ferry Street.

    Created by Sculptor Camilo Satiro of Kearny, the monument is 16 feet tall, 25 feet in length, 9 feet wide and weighs 2 tons. It could easily be sitting next to statues on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

    But this life-size historical artifact belongs in Newark --thanks to the vision of East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador, who collaborated with the Ironbound Business Improvement District (IBID) to make it happen. More than $250,000 in donations was raised to pay homage to a population that, Amador said, contributed to the fiber of this community.

    "They are the faceless men and women who did nothing but get up in the morning, work hard, take care of their family and care for their neighborhood," Amador said.

    Yglesias, who was 81 when he died in the late 1980s, is one of those faces, as are others from the Ironbound who represent different ethnic groups that arrived as far back as the 19th century. They include Germans, Irish, Italians, Jews, Portuguese, Lithuanians, Spanish, Brazilians, Ecuadoreans, Mexicans and Peruvians.

    "My father was fortunate to be one of the people on the monument," said IBID President Steven Yglesias. "We are incredibly honored."

    Maria Lurdes DiJulio stared at the sculpture and could see herself at age 23. That's how old she was when she left Portugal 55 years ago, fleeing her homeland, which was under the authoritarian government of President Antonio de Oliveira Salazar.

    "This is for the people to remember the way people came to America," said Lurdes DiJulio, 78, who still lives in the Ironbound.

    Not only is the monument a representation of the East Ward, said Mayor Ras Baraka, but of Newark as a city of immigrants, "a city of folks who are coming here for an opportunity, looking for growth in their family, looking for a way to move up into the middle class."

    The crowd that gathered was impressed with the monument, except for a small group of demonstrators who identified themselves as Stop Immigration Detentions in Essex County.

    One of its members, Jay Arena, called the monument a "farce" because unauthorized immigrants now are being arrested, detained and deported.

    "Immigrants are being attacked and these people (city officials) are posturing as a friend of immigrants," said Arena.

    Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura took issue with the group in his remarks, correcting them when they said he operates the immigration detention center.

    Directing his comments to the protesters, Fontoura said Newark has been an oasis for immigrants from countries that didn't allow them to protest against their government.

    They came to this country, Fontoura said, and served in the military, like he did, "so that you can have freedom of speech."

    Ironbound residents and their families erupted in applause, cheering Fontoura because they said this day was about honoring immigrants -- past and present - who made the Ironbound the vital community that it is today.

    Mary Azagra, 87, is one of them.

    She has lived in the Ironbound since she was 3 months old. Born in Spain, Azagra was an infant when her father, the late Dario Vazquez, sent for her and her late mother, Remedios Vazquez, who made the 30-day voyage by boat. Her father, a World War I soldier, was a truck driver for the city of Newark.

    "We needed this," she said, speaking of the monument. "Practically every nation lives in the Ironbound. We live next to each other; we talk to each other."

    MORE CARTER: Newark letter carrier walks his way to 50 years on the job | Carter

    Antonio Evaristo, 85, came to Newark in 1960, working construction. He is still in the neighborhood, and so is daughter, Rose Marie Ruivo, 60, who was 2 years old when she came from Portugal.

    "It's the Ironbound," she said. "Roots are roots."

    Carlos Farinhas is not leaving, either. He was 19 when he left Portugal in 1956. Like many immigrants, he started as a laborer in construction. Farinhas, however, would become a foreman, a superintendent and eventually own his construction company, Scafar Contracting Inc., until he retired in 2003.

    The monument, nearly 21/2 years in the making, was supposed to be installed last July on a traffic island at five corners, an area in the Ironbound where five streets intersect in front of St. Stephan's Grace Community Church.

    The location changed when Amador and improvement district officials learned that sewer pipes ran under the traffic island, which would not support the monument's weight.

    The park, a gateway to the Ironbound, turned out to be the best place.

    "This is our Statue of Liberty," said IBID Executive Director Seth Grossman. "It says welcome to Newark."

     Barry Carter: (973) 836-4925 or or or follow him on Twitter @BarryCarterSL

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    The New Jersey Department of Corrections has an entire prison dedicated to treating inmates with addictions.

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    The girl was jumping on her bed and fell out the open window, a television station said

    A 6-year-old girl who fell out of a window while jumping on her bed Monday night in Newark has died, authorities said.

    The girl fell from an apartment on 14th Avenue and was taken to University Hospital where she was pronounced dead, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said. 

    The apartment is on the third floor, according to

    The prosecutor's office is investigating.

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



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    Saleen Martin attends North Star Academy Charter School in Newark

    Police are searching for a 13-year-old Newark boy who has been missing for almost a week, authorities said. 

    smartin.jpgSaleen Martin (Newark Department of Public Safety) 

    Saleen Martin, a student at North Star Academy Charter School, hasn't been seen since Wednesday, Newark police said in a statement Tuesday morning. 

    That day he was wearing a black flight jacket and a school uniform -- a green shirt bearing the school's logo and tan pants.

    Saleen stands 4-foot-10 and weighs about 85 pounds. 

    Police searching for him but are seeking the public's help. 

    The school is located on the 100 block of South 9th Street in the city. 

    Anyone with information is asked call the Newark police's tip line at 1-877-695-8477 or the Newark Police Special Victims Unit at 973-733-7273.

    Anonymous tips may also be made using their website at:

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



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    Barbara Harrington, of East Rutherford, claims former Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli had her sent for psychiatric examination as a favor to his friend

    A former Bergen County Prosecutor's Office employee will receive $625,000 to settle her federal lawsuit alleging that then-Prosecutor John Molinelli sent her to a psychiatric hospital and forced her to resign as a favor to one of his friends.

    Barbara Harrington, 59, who was a data processor in the prosecutor's office, had sued for $10 million in damages, though the settlement finalized last week, said her attorney, Anthony M. Rainone of Roseland.

    "My client will never again be the same person she was before the alleged events," Rainone said Tuesday. "This litigation was our best attempt to bring her some peace of mind after all of the years of pain she has endured."

    Harrington, of East Rutherford, claimed Molinelli had her committed to Bergen Regional Medical Center in Paramus in 2012 as a favor to his longtime friend Patricia Speake-Martin, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court.

    Speak-Martin apparently didn't like Harrington because she had moved in with Speak-Martin's estranged husband, David Martin, in East Rutherford and developed a relationship with their children, according to court documents filed in 2014. Harrington, who worked for the county for nearly 30 years, was ultimately forced to resign.

    Mollinelli said Tuesday he had no role in the decision to settle the case and denied wrongdoing.

    "The county entered into the settlement I had no part of it," said Mollinelli, who left the prosecutor's office in January 2016. He now works in private practice.

    "No one tried to commit her, she was merely asked to undergo an evaluation based on circumstances that I would rather not go into," Mollinelli said. "Her evaluation determined that she was not fit for duty and I have nothing further to offer as to why the settlement was reached but was advised that mounting legal fees was a significant factor."

    The suit states Molinelli and Speake-Martin have been law colleagues since 1985. The two worked together for the borough of Woodcliff Lake, were business partners and neighbors, according to the suit.

    Speake-Martin and her husband, who have three children, separated in 2005 but remained married, the suit states.

    In 2012, Harrington's home went into foreclosure and Martin, who was a co-worker, invited her to live with him and two of his children, according to the lawsuit.

    "Speake-Martin was very displeased and opposed to Martin and (Harrington's) living arrangement," the suit says.

    Speak-Martin communicated her disgust to Molinelli, the suit states.

    Harrington's lawyers say she and Martin were nothing more than "roommates."

    On Sept. 21, 2012, Harrington accidentally texted Martin and Speak-Martin's children that "Someone (has) reported David Martin in an accident."

    The suit says Harrington had been using the cellphone's voice dictation feature and that another shopper talking loudly interfered with the text message.

    Though Harrington claims she apologized about the erroneous text to Speake-Martin and her children, she claims Speake-Martin was furious.

    A few days later, both Harrington and Martin were summoned to a meeting with Molinelli and other supervisors, the suit states.

    "They told Martin that (Harrington) was a 'sick' person and posed a 'danger' to herself and Martin's children," the suit states.

    Harrington was suspended with pay and told she was being committed for psychiatric evaluation, the suit states.

    A sheriff's detective escorted Harrington to a law library, where she "was forced to remain in custody and was specifically not permitted to leave except to use the restroom one time," the suit states.

    After an hour in the library, two detectives drove Harrington in a patrol car to Bergen Regional Medical Center, the suit states.

    A doctor at the facility determined Harrington was not psychotic or a danger to herself or others and released her after a few hours, the suit states.

    After her release, Harrington remained suspended from her job pending fitness-for-duty evaluation by a doctor in New York, according to the suit.

    That doctor determined that Harrington was not a danger to herself or others but that she should not return to work because she was "nervous and anxious," according to the suit.

    Harrington and her attorneys claim the ordeal of involuntary committal caused her to develop post-traumatic stress and left her unable to work.

    Molinelli refused to extend Harrington's suspension and she was forced to resign on May 1, 2013, the suit claims.

    The suit accused the former prosecutor of abuse of power and all of the defendants of violating Harrington's civil rights.

    Speake-Martin could not be reached for comment.

    The settlement agreement states Bergen County and the defendants, including Molinelli, admit to no wrongdoing.

    Anthony G. Attrino may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TonyAttrino. Find on Facebook.

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    Yoriani had danced so much the day before, "it was almost like she was saying goodbye," Arelis Cedeno, the girl's aunt, told NJ Advance Media on Tuesday.

    Yoriani Encarnacion, like most six-year-old girls, loved to dance.

    And at a family gathering on Sunday, she spent most of her time swaying to merengue and bachata. 

    The following day, shortly before midnight, Yoriani was playing with other children -- jumping on the bed inside her third floor apartment -- when she fell out of an open window.

    Yoriani had danced so much the day before, "it was almost like she was saying goodbye," Arelis Cedeno, the girl's aunt, told NJ Advance Media on Tuesday.

    Yoriani was taken to University Hospital where she was pronounced dead at about 4:30 a.m., Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino said.

    The Essex County Prosecutor's Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force, which includes detectives from the Newark Police Department, is investigating the death.

    The family, who are originally from the Dominican Republic, is "devastated," said Cedeno, who spoke briefly in Spanish on South 14th Street Tuesday afternoon.

    Cedeno was leaving Utopia Apartments in Newark, where the girl, an only child, lived with her mother. Her father lives in the Dominican Republic and is aware of her death, the aunt said.

    "We're very sad," Cedeno said.

    The window of the third-floor apartment did not have a window guard. 

    A woman working in a grocery store on the first floor of the apartment building said she remembers seeing the girl with her mother but she thought they had just moved there recently.

    Karen Yi may be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook

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    Unofficial results for races in 18 New Jersey municipalities holding local elections May 8.

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    With Newark on the rise, a lot was riding on Tuesday's elections for mayor and city council. Watch video

    Newark Mayor Ras Baraka claimed resounding victory Tuesday night to a second four-year term -- a win that will let him lead the state's largest city at a time when new business and development is finally knocking at its door.

    "Touchdown," Baraka said to a packed room of supporters at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark even before all the ballots were counted. "We won and we won big."

    "Despite what people try make you believe, you can see what's happening in Newark," Baraka said as he donned a hat that said "touchdown." "We never said it was perfect ... we never said things couldn't get better, all we said was that we were moving in the right direction."

    Preliminary results from the Essex County Clerk's Office show Baraka captured about 77 percent of the vote of about 28,000 ballots cast. 

    His sole opponent, Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins, was hoping to be Newark's first female mayor. Preliminary results showed she received about 6,000 votes. 

    All nine City Council seats were also up, drawing a crowded field of 37 candidates and at least one write-in campaign led by longtime activist Donna Jackson.  

    Early results appeared to show Anibal Ramos clinching his North Ward seat, South Ward Councilman John Sharpe James riding to a second term and all four incumbent at-large council members keeping their seats. Baraka was running on a slate with nine council candidates -- eight of whom were incumbents.

    Without a majority winner, the top vote getters in any race will head to a run-off next month. 

    Touting touchdowns

    Baraka cast his vote at the Greater Abyssinian Baptist Church earlier on Tuesday, already predicting his win by wearing a black baseball cap that said, "victory."

    This year's election never quite reached the contentiousness that defined the 2014 race when Baraka faced off against Shavar Jeffries after former mayor Cory Booker vacated his seat to become a U.S. Senator. The Election Law Enforcement Commission called it the state's most expensive local election ever (without adjusting for inflation) at a cost of $12.6 million.

    Baraka raised about $803,000 this season, his campaign finance records show. Chaneyfield Jenkins raised about a quarter of that, her latest filing in February show.

    This time around, Baraka had the backing of the political establishment and even his one-time rival Sen. Booker -- who all supported his opponent in 2014. 

    bara01.jpgSurporters watch the results come in on election night. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka has his election night victory party with members of his City Council slate at the Robert Treat Hotel. Tuesday May 8, 2018. Newark, NJ, USA  

    The campaign was marked by the usual back-and-forth allegations of campaign flyers being torn down or vandalized. Much of the mud-slinging took place on Facebook, though Chaneyfield Jenkins often publicly accused Baraka's administration of perpetuating a culture of intimidation and bullying.

    But Baraka called the race "ugly" and filled with attacks on his family. 

    "This became a very ugly and dangerous election," Baraka said. "And it never was about the issues, it got really personal -- the attacks on my family, on me, on the people around me, the kind of ugly things that were being said, they tried to destroy and kill us for good."

    "That is a remnant of the past, that is going to be thrown in the garbage can," he added. "We are not the reality TV show of the state."

    A lawsuit by residents also alleged Baraka used taxpayer money and violated election law when he sent out a mailer with his photo on it touting improvements in public safety. The lawsuit was dismissed

    Baraka touted a series of "touchdowns" during his four years in office, claiming he helped push large development projects to the finish line, reduced crime and finally wrestled control of the schools out of the state's hands. 

    But the most telling sign, he said, was Amazon's decision to name Newark among the top 20 finalist cities to host the company's second headquarters. 

    Chaneyfield Jenkins, who led the Central Ward that has seen a bulk of the ribbon cuttings and new development, didn't refute the progress. But she criticized the mayor's ability to appoint competent people to oversee basic city services like street cleaning, garbage pick-up and employee health care. 

    She also said residents didn't feel safer, despite his assurances that crime was at a 50-year low. 

    Baraka reiterated his touchdown theme Tuesday night, saying "touchdown" 14 times in a row before ending with "Because we scored all the touchdowns, the game is over!"


    Turnout for the election was lower than in 2014. About 29,000 votes were cast for mayor, far from the 45,000 cast in 2014. 

    Council races

    Baraka's apparent sweep did not extend to all his colleagues.

    Incumbent council candidates faced fierce challenges from former aides and former Baraka allies swapping allegiances. Chaneyfield Jenkins, whose campaign was run by Pablo Fonseca, ran her own slate of mostly women, and candidates who had held prior office on the council or school board. 

    Another slate of housing advocates and activists, called "A Movement of the People," advocated safer streets and housing for all. 

    West Ward Councilman Joseph McCallum Jr. was challenged by two former aides: Marcellus Allen and Artice Norvell. Preliminary results show McCallum and another candidate, Tomecca Keyes, will head to a run-off. McCallum captured 30 percent of the vote; Keyes received 28 percent of about 3,800 votes cast.

    The Central Ward seat, which was wide open, showed LaMonica McIver leading with 41 percent of the vote but she still needs a majority to win. Rashon Hasan had 14 percent and Shawn McCray 16 percent of the 4,000 votes cast, according to preliminary results. McIver and McCray will head to a run off. 

    In the East Ward, longtime councilman Augusto Amador faced former police director Anthony Campos and Fonseca's daughter, Crystal Fonseca. Amador, who gathered 43 percent of the vote will head to a run off with Campos, who received 35 percent of the 3,500 votes.

    Earlier in the day, cars around East Side High were peppered with campaign fliers as supporters of each candidate stood at different ends of the sidewalk. 

    Rosa Chamba, 72, who became a citizen in 2016, said she voted for Baraka because he will help control crime in the city and support the immigrant population. Chamba, from Ecuador, said it's important to vote especially to help those "who don't have a voice," she said in Spanish. 

    Karen Yi may be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook

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    Looking for property tax bargains? These towns had the lowest average property tax bills in each of New Jersey's 21 counties.

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    Find out which schools rank in the top 500 nationally.

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    Newark police are looking for the assailants

    An off-duty Newark police officer was assaulted by multiple people and robbed of his cell phone after getting in a car crash Monday night in the city, authorities said. 

    An unknown number of assailants attacked the 30-year-old officer after he collided with another vehicle at 11:05 p.m. near the intersection of Bloomfield and Mount Prospect avenues, police said.

    The group attacked the off-duty officer even though he repeatedly identified himself as a city cop, officials said. He was treated for minor injuries at a local hospital and released. The driver of the other vehicle fled on foot after the collision.

    Night of tragedy followed day of joy for girl killed in window fall

    Police were called to the scene after getting a report that a pedestrian was hit by car, but found no evidence of that when they arrived. 

    Newark police are seeking the public's help as they try to piece together what happened and find the people who assaulted the officer.  

    Anyone with information is asked to call the department's 24-hour tip line at 1-877-695-8477 or 1-877-695-4867. All anonymous Crime Stopper tips are kept confidential and could result in a reward.

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



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    Carl and Roya Konzman claim hot water from a Wawa dispensing machine left their 3-year-old with severe burns

    The water from Wawa was so hot that when it spilled on her, the 3-year-old girl looked like she'd be burned by chemical weapons, according to New Jersey attorney David Mazie.

    That's the chief complaint contained in a federal lawsuit filed this week on behalf of a Neptune couple who claim their daughter was seriously injured after a Wawa clerk spilled boiling water on her.

    "She looked like she had been napalmed," Mazie said Wednesday. "It was so bad that her skin fused to her clothing."

    Carl and Roya Konzman claim they were at the Neptune Wawa on April 25 buying food and two cups of hot water for tea, which they poured from a hot-water dispensing machine.

    As they paid for the items, a store bagging clerk knocked over a water bottle, which in turn knocked over one of the cups of hot water, according to the complaint, filed Monday in U.S. District Court by Roseland attorneys Mazie Slater Katz & Freeman.

    "The cup immediately burst, causing its top to come off and hot water to splash all over (the child's) upper body, arms and torso," the lawsuit states.

    Winning lottery ticket bought in Monmouth County

    The girl, identified only as "N.K.," was taken by ambulance to a Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, which has a burn unit.

    Mazie said the burns were so severe that paramedics wanted to airlift the girl, but it was too foggy for a helicopter to fly.

    The child suffered second and third-degree burns and could be scarred for life, the suit states.

    The lawsuit claims the child's mother witnessed the accident and has suffered "severe and permanent emotional distress" as a result.

    While the store clerk was negligent in spilling the water, the Wawa chain is responsible for both its employees and the temperature of the water, the suit alleges.

    "Wawa was aware of the fact that the hot water machine dispensed water at a highly dangerous temperature and that the water would cause severe burns if spilled on flesh," Mazzie states in the suit.

    "Despite being aware of this danger, Wawa kept the water at such a dangerously high temperature and acted recklessly and with wanton and disregard for the safety of its patrons," the suit states.

    The attorney said after the child was burned his investigators tested water at the Neptune Wawa and several others.

    The water temperature at the store was 180 degrees while other Wawa water tested at 190 degrees, Mazie said.

    "Shower water is no more than 104 degrees - that's the max," Mazie said. "At 150 degrees, water will burn you in a second. There is no need for water to be this hot."

    Mazie accused the chain of overheating its water so customers who buy coffee and tea will still have a hot beverage "15 minutes after they leave the store."

    "By heating your water to 180 degrees you are guaranteed someone will be burned if it spills," Mazie said.

    The lawsuit seeks more than $150,000 in damages.

    Wawa spokeswoman Lori Bruce did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

    Hot-water lawsuits have become somewhat common since the 1992 landmark case involving a 79-year-old woman who suffered third-degree burns after accidentally spilling hot coffee in her lap from McDonald's.

    Attorneys for the woman, Stella Liebeck, claimed the water at 180 to 190 degrees was too hot. Liebeck was awarded $640,000.

    Anthony G. Attrino may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TonyAttrino. Find on Facebook.


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    During my four years in high school, I learned that the idea of mentorship is far more important than receiving help during one difficult moment. It needs to be consistent.

    By Kashawn Griffin 

    Growing up and becoming a man is a challenge for any teenage boy, and no one can do it alone. I was born at Beth Israel and have lived in Newark my whole life. Any child in our city is aware of the unique challenges we face -- whether it be the lack of equity in our school system or the toxic and violent environments we must overcome. I have seen firsthand that the paths fellow students and friends take to address the challenges of growing up can affect them for years to come.

    Middle school and high school are not just times for academics, but they are moments when, for the first time, students are making their own decisions and prioritizing choices. Having a mentor to help students is not only a great asset, but in Newark we must make it a stronger priority.

    As a Newark student I first attended Peshine Avenue School and found it very hard to focus on anything other than watching your back. I could not walk the halls without fights breaking out. I saw it all -- student against student, student against security guard, and even student against teachers. I witnessed fist fights, people getting hurt, ambulances taking people to the hospital, weapons being used. It was a violent school, and there was no sense of discipline.

    I was also bullied. Luckily, when my dad realized there was an issue, he was there to help me. He connected directly with a bully's grandmother, we worked the issue out verbally, and I was no longer bothered.

    Unfortunately, too soon after that experience my father died. I did not know what to do. I had lost my first mentor.

    During the process of grief and reflection, my family chose to change public schools and I started attending People's Prep, an independent charter high school in Newark.

    A big change I noticed was that before the People's Prep's school year even started, there was a summer orientation where clear expectations and rules were established for all students. To ensure safety and strong academics, the school had developed a long-term mentoring program for every student, called council. Each council consists of about 15 students and led by a teacher called a council coach.

    I did not know it at the time, but the council group I became a part of would become my new mentors. And while no one could ever replace my dad, I certainly would not have finished high school successfully, made the right choices, learned from my wrong decisions, and ultimately attended Fairleigh Dickinson without their guidance.

    My People's Prep council coach and the other students that made up my council group became very close during my four years of high school. The emphasis on mentorship ensured that, even during tough times, I was never alone and always had someone to talk to.

    At one point, my girlfriend and I were going through some tough times. Like many teenage boys, I had very little few options for advice, especially without my father. In any other environment, I would have been alone, but my council coach listened to me, guided me, and helped me get through that issue.

    My council coach also served as a mentor when it came to college. Beginning my freshman year, we visited colleges many times during the school year, touring the campuses, sitting in on classes, learning about campus life, and ultimately seeing college as a realistic opportunity.

    I often think about the many in Newark who have never been provided this kind of support mechanism.

    During my four years in high school, I learned that the idea of mentorship is far more important than receiving help during one difficult moment. It needs to be consistent, and that kind of connection can provide a pathway to reaching your dream.

    Mentorship was the key to my academic success and helping me address the challenges that I faced growing up. And as I now look beyond my Newark education and toward my future, it is my goal to give back to what has been uniquely provided to me. I hope to have a career focused on mentoring so more Newark students can be provided with what I received at People's Prep. Students should never be forced to face the struggles of growing up alone.

    Too often, between the big policy debates and political fights, we lose a sense of what is important, even when some of the answers are so simple.

    Our schools need to be doing more in the area of mentorship. The council coaches at People's Prep helped to positively affect my life and ultimately allow me to live my dream. But we must remember that there are many students who are without this kind of needed support system every day. These students have dreams just like mine, and we need more mentors to help their dreams come true.

    Kashawn Griffin of Newark is a sophomore at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He has lived his whole life in Newark, New Jersey and is a graduate of People's Prep, the only independent public charter high school in the city.

    Bookmark Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find Opinion on Facebook.

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    Images of the Police Unity Tour 2018 from around New Jersey

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    Ashton Funk, also a former Margate lifeguard, recently lost his certification as an EMT in New Jersey

    An appeals court this week upheld the rulings of judges in Atlantic County who found a now former Margate firefighter guilty of stealing $7.98 worth of snacks from Wawa, which led to him losing his job.

    It's the latest loss for Ashton P. Funk, 36, of Northfield, who's filed several legal challenges since he was first charged with stealing from Margate Wawa in 2015. He also filed an appeal in Superior Court in 2016.

    In this filing, a two-judge appeals panel sided with the judge who decided Funk was guilty of shoplifting, and in a separate case ordered him to forfeit his public employment as a firefighter.

    funk.jpg(Police photo)

    Funk questioned the credibility of the officer who caught him, as well as the store manager's testimony. He also said the judge's decision to force him out of his $78,000 job as a firefighter was an "abuse of discretion."

    Funk also lost his job as a member of Margate's beach patrol.

    The appeals panel found the lower court's decisions' "well reasoned" and the witnesses and their statements credible.

    Funk also has other legal issues.

    Last year, he was among 20 people arrested in an oxycodone operation busted by state authorities and dubbed "Operation Oxygen Highway."

    Funk faces two third-degree charges of manufacturing, distributing and dispensing a controlled dangerous substance.

    Authorities say the drug operation was led by a North Jersey doctor, who wrote prescriptions for people and drove between Essex and Atlantic counties.

    If convicted for the third-degree crimes, Funk could face three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000 in the drug case.

    Also, in April, Funk's emergency medical technician (EMT) certificate was summarily suspended by New Jersey due to his "poor judgement and lack of trustworthiness."

    The state Department of Health, which regulates EMT certifications, states in their April 3 letter to Funk that they learned in March of this year of his 2017 drug arrest, and found that in his 2016 re-certification, he checked "No" to a question asking him if he had any prior convictions - even though he was convicted in 2015 of the shoplifting.

    Taylor Tiamoyo Harris may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ladytiamoyoFind on Facebook


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    Abdul served food an at American military base in Afghanistan and was attacked by the Taliban for helping the U.S. After fleeing to the U.S. on a visa, he was detained and held for more than a year.

    An Afghan man who was detained in the U.S. after risking his life to help American troops abroad was finally freed Tuesday night after more than a year in detention. 

    It was a huge relief for the young immigrant who was seeking safety in the U.S. after he was attacked by the Taliban for working at an American military base in Afghanistan.

    Relief for Abdul, however, arrived after 14 months in detention. 

    "Abdul came here expecting refuge. Instead, he spent his first year in America living in a federal jail, and for no legitimate purpose," ACLU-NJ executive director Amol Sinha said in a statement. "We're relieved about this decision, but it's tinged with sadness -- for the inexcusable delay in Abdul starting his life here."

    NJ Advance Media is withholding Abdul's last name to protect his family in Afghanistan. 

    Immigrant advocates who fought for Abdul's release -- and halted his deportation back to Afghanistan -- said Abdul was detained at the airport when he arrived from Afghanistan, despite having a visa. 

    Adbul landed at Newark Liberty International Airport in March of last year with a special immigrant visa reserved for Afghans and Iraqis who are no longer safe in their countries because they aided the U.S. government in its missions abroad.

    But the 26-year-old was stopped by immigration officials and ordered deported. It's still unclear why Abdul was stopped. 

    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not immediately return a message seeking comment. 

    Abdul's detention prompted a series of legal fights and protests by advocates who clamored that the Afghan national had been vetted before he received his visa more than a year and a half after he applied for one. A retired U.S. Army Sergeant also wrote him a letter of recommendation, his attorney said.

    On Tuesday, Abdul was granted asylum and released. 

    "Instead of thanking Abdul for the work he did for the government that put him at risk, immigration officials put him in jail for more than a year," Jason Scott Camilo, Abdul's pro-bono attorney said. "This inhuman treatment needs to end now, not just for immigrants and refugees in New Jersey, but throughout the country."

    Abdul arrived in the U.S. the week Trump's revised travel ban that restricted travel from six Muslim-majority countries -- not including Afghanistan -- was set to go into effect. The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a case challenging the executive order. 

    Abdul planned to relocate to Ohio, earn a Bachelor's degree in economics and work. 

    This man risked his life for American troops

    At the Elizabeth Detention Center, Abdul told reporters in August he was happy to come to the U.S. and wasn't expecting to be treated this way. 

    "I want the world to know I'm not here to harm anyone, I want the world to know I'm here for education, I 'm here for work," Abdul said at the time, speaking from a small, gray cinderblock room. 

    Karen Yi may be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook


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    A Montclair man who served as business manager for Grammy-winning singer Ne-Yo was charged in a multi-million dollar fraud that allegedly bilked celebrities who investing in a sports drink company.

    A Montclair man who served as business manager for Grammy-winning singer Ne-Yo was charged Tuesday with a multi-million dollar scam that allegedly bilked celebrities who invested in a sports drink company under false pretenses.

    The 10-count superseding indictment accuses Kevin R. Foster of various federal fraud offenses and of targeting a second celebrity client, R&B singer Brian McKnight, in the scheme.

    Foster, 42, allegedly convinced Ne-Yo, whose real name is Shaffer Smith, to invest $2 million in OXYwater. Prosecutors said Foster didn't disclose to Smith that he served as a controller for the business or that he earned commission based on investments.

    He also allegedly invested another $1.5 million of the musician's money into the drink company without permission and forged his signature to take out $1.4 million in lines of credit under Smith's name, according to federal prosecutors.

    Foster allegedly earned an approximately $250,000 finders fee for the fraudulent celebrity investment in the product, developed by Imperial Integrative Health Research & Development of Ohio.

    Southern District of Ohio U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman said Foster pulled a similar scheme on R&B star McKnight in an effort to keep the business solvent.

    "Foster allegedly withdrew more money from McKnight's account than he had authorized, and failed to invest any of the money, but rather transferred it to one of Imperial's business associates in order to help keep the business afloat," Glassman said in a statement.

    Prosecutors said Foster lied about disclosing the kickbacks during a Bankruptcy Court deposition.

    The case stemmed from the prosecution of Thomas E. Jackson and Preston Harrison, a former Ohio State University football player, who raised about $9 million from investors for the sports drink, according to federal prosecutors. A federal jury convicted the two of various financial crimes in March 2015.

    Noah Cohen may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @noahycFind on Facebook.

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    Sometimes a double-take isn't enough.

    In the 1984 film "Revenge of the Nerds," the character Booger, played by Curtis Armstrong, is a college student who loves to eat and isn't particularly concerned about appearances. He wears a Greasy Tony's T-shirt in the film, with the slogan "No charge for extra grease" clearly visible.

    courtesy jay riback revenge of the nerds.jpg 

    The original Greasy Tony's restaurant was located at the intersection of Easton Avenue and Somerset Street in New Brunswick. I saw the movie shortly after it came out. At the time, I was living in New Brunswick. Still, I didn't notice the shirt.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    Photographs, like films, often have interesting elements that go unnoticed. Sometimes, a second look reveals something interesting, unique, humorous or unusual. Sometimes, a closer look at a picture leads to more questions than answers.

    Here's a gallery of vintage photos from New Jersey you'll want to take a closer look at. And here are links to other similar galleries you'll enjoy.

    Vintage photos from N.J. that might make you do a double-take

    Vintage N.J. photos that deserve a second look

    More vintage N.J. photos that deserve a second look

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

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    The company's general counsel said lawyers believe there is nothing in state law to preempt the ban.

    Want to own guns in Newark? 

    Don't move into the Richardson Lofts, whose owners are taking a firearm-free stance that's riling gun enthusiasts in the Garden State.

    In a posted notice to residents of the apartments, published online Wednesday by the New Jersey Second Amendment SocietyRPM Development said that as of May 1, firearms are no longer allowed inside the upscale building on Columbia Street. 

    Persons familiar with the Newark apartment building confirmed to NJ Advance Media the policy notice was authentic.

    Residents found to be keeping firearms on the properties in violation of the policy risk being ordered to vacate their apartments, according to the notice.

    In emailed remarks to NJ Advance Media, Second Amendment Society president Alexander Roubian took issue with a rule he said risked the safety of the building's residents.

    "The United States Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to possess a firearm in their home for self-defense," he said. "Also, since criminals do not obey laws RPM has put their tenant's safety in serious jeopardy by guaranteeing easy and defenseless victims for criminals."

    "I challenge RPM's founder and president, Edward G. Martoglio, to put a large sign on his front lawn stating 'THIS HOME IS PROUDLY GUN FREE,'"  Roubian said. "If they do not, they are hypocrites."

    Reached by phone Wednesday, RPM's general counsel David Steinberg declined to comment on the policy or how it applied to the company's other properties.

    RPM Development, based in Montclair, rents thousands of units in Newark, Orange and East Orange. According to their website, the company has built homes on underutilized land, adapted industrial properties into homes and restored historic buildings.

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriarty.

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