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    Officials say about 50 people were on the bus, which was headed to New Jersey from Washington

    A bus hit an overpass at Newark's Penn Station, peeling back part of its roof and injuring dozens of passengers.

    Officials say about 50 people were on the bus, which was headed to New Jersey from Washington, when it hit the overpass at the entrance of the station late Sunday.

    Police do not believe the injuries are life-threatening.

    The bus was operated by Liberty Coach.

     

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    Montclair football is hoping to reload after last year's undefeated championship season.


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    The policy allows judges to continue working until their 80th birthday, in some cases.


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    Jamar Battle will be charged with unlawful possession of a wepaon

    Authorities are looking for a man accused in the shooting of a 5-year-old girl last month as she walked on a Newark street with her family. 

    battle.jpgJamar Battle (Newark Department of Public Safety) 

    Jamar Battle, 30, of Newark, is being sought on a charge of unlawful possession of a weapon, city police said in a statement. 

    The girl was walking with her father and siblings on the 200 block of Avon Street around 11:30 p.m. on July 4 when she was struck by gunfire. She was treated and released from University Hospital.

    Newark police didn't immediately offer a response to questions from NJ Advance Media about the charge. 

    Anyone with information is asked to call the crime stopper tip line at 1-877-695-8477 or 1-877-695-4867.

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

     


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    Utility overcharged man for 25 years, and won't make full repayment

    We all know John Regina's pain. It's the world we live in today, dealing with corporations that are too big to fail. And too big to succeed - at serving their customers.

    Cable. Insurance. Gas and electric. Financial services. Airlines. And on and on.

    We live in the Age of the Automated Voice.

    Welcome to Verizon Wireless. This call may be recorded.

    Welcome to Jersey Central Power & Light. A First Energy Company. Your call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance.

    Thank you for calling Optimum! Let's connect more.

    Or, most times, not connect at all.

    Then come the prompts.

    Press 1 for this. Press 2 for that. And on and on until Press 9 to return to the main menu.

    Worse is the voice activation.

    In a few short words, please tell us how we can help today.

    "Speak to a representative."

    I'm sorry, I didn't get that.

    "Speak to a representative!"

    You want to make a payment, right. Say yes if this is correct or no for other options.

    NO! SPEAK TO A &%@#$ REPRESENTATIVE!

    I'm sorry, I didn't get that. Let me connect you to a representative.

    More Muzak, interrupted every minute or so by ... Your call is very important to us but we are experiencing a high volume of calls. Please stay on the line for the next available representative.

    And your life ticks by ... the ticking sound of a timebomb ... and you wonder, "How did we get here? When did we, as Americans, grow to accept this robotic "customer service"?

    For John Regina, this corporate brick wall was just aggravating. It cost him money. About 25 grand.

    A New Jersey Advance Media story Friday by Amanda Hoover told Regina's long and winding road to frustration with Jersey Central Power & Light. A First Energy Company. This last bit is important because good old JCP&L, with the J for Jersey, is now part of a utilities conglomerate headquartered in Akron Ohio.

    It started as Ohio Edison (named for the guy who invented the light bulb in New Jersey) and has now grown to be the corporate umbrella of 10 electric companies serving 6 million people in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York and New Jersey.

    John Regina is one of them and had a very specific problem. He was overcharged by about $1,000 a year for 24 years. As soon as he moved into his Bedminster townhouse, he thought his electric bill was high for a single guy living alone. It was something like a family would spend. Like the family that lived next door.

    He says he called JCP&L from the start to ask why his bill was so high.

    "I think the first time was 1994, the second was '96 or '97, a few more times," he said. "They told me they had no records of my calls before 2011. So, when they say, 'this call may be recorded for quality assurance' your wonder if that's just b.s."

    On July 9, when a family next door moved out and had their electric disconnected, Regina's townhouse went dark. He called JCP&L to see if there was an outage. He was told no, it was just his house. A technician was sent out and told him his meter was tagged out. Meaning shut off. That's when Regina realized his meter was running up his neighbor's electric use, and vice-a-versa.

    "It took this guy all of 10 minutes to figure out what I had been complaining about for 24 years," he said.

    And that's when Regina, like many of us in our daily lives, descended into phone prompt hell and trying to get a common-sense response from yet another corporation that, as said above, is too big to fail but also too big to adequately serve its customers.

    "This is how it is these days," Regina said. "I call it the tree of calls. You get bounced around and around, and in the end, no one can help you. It happens with insurance companies, medical bills, everything."

    What Regina wanted was a full refund of money, which he estimated to be about $25,000.

    JCP&L acknowledged he overpaid about $1,000 a year, but under Board of Public Utilities regulations, the company can't repay - or collect - bill errors beyond six years. Again, this is the world we live in, where rules and regulations favor the corporation, not the consumers. We, as consumers, don't hire lobbyists who steer legislation.

    But Regina is not the kind to give up easy. He climbed up and down the phone tree, swing from limb to limb, trying to get to a higher authority.

    "They wouldn't give me the address of the company president," he said. "Can you imagine that? I remember when the phone company and electric company had offices in town. You walk in and talk to someone."

    Those were the days. These days ... "the person at extension 123 is not available. The mailbox is full. Goodbye."

    So, after telling his story a dozen times to different representatives, Regina went the old-fashioned route. He wrote letters. He found the address online and wrote letters. 

    "No one was answering emails, so I wrote letters Charles Jones, the CEO and president of First Energy, and Leila Vespoli, the vice president. They're in Ohio. And I send one to James Fakult (the JCP&L boss)," Regina said. "I didn't hear anything back. Not even a form letter."

    He was told by JCP&L he can file an appeal to the BPU for a full refund. More red tape for the little guy.

    In the meantime, JCP&L first offered him $6,200 credit on his future electric bills.

    "I told them, 'I'm 66 years old, I'll be dead before I spend $6,000 in electricity," he said.

    Then they offered a cash settlement of the $6,200 but, he said, "that's not confirmed yet." More calls and more letters, and more frustration are on the horizon.

    He wants the full amount. Not only does he deserve it, he's earned that much in aggravation.

    Mark Di Ionno may be reached at mdiionno@njadvancemedia.comFollow him on Twitter @MarkDiIonno. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    The investigation spread across 3 towns, and police are still searching for one suspect

    Nine people were arrested and one man is still at large in a drug sweep that spanned three towns, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office announced Monday. 

    Authorities seized $114,497 , plus 33 grams of cocaine with a street value of $870, and about 43 grams of heroin worth $1,330.

    Police are still looking for Michael Jones, 34, of Newark, who is charged with distributing cocaine to an undercover detective. 

    In Newark, authorities charged Dyshir Gray, 26, with possession of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute, conspiracy, fleeing, resisting arrest, possession of heroin and selling to an undercover detective within 1,000 feet of a school. 

    Khasif Parrish, 34, was also charged with distribution of heroin to an undercover detective within 1000 feet of a public school. 

    Rashon Peterson, 34, also a Newark resident, was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine. 

    Anthony Harris, 48, the fourth Newark man arrested in the sweep, has been charged with failure to turn over a controlled dangerous substance to a law enforcement officer.

    Four more arrests were made in East Orange too. 

    Darryl and Darlene Burger, ages 57 and 51, have both been charged with possession of heroin and possession with intent to distribute. 

    John Durant Jr., 51, and Walter Lowery, 50, both face charges of distributing heroin to an undercover detective within 1,000 feet of a school. 

    Irvington resident Altariq Wagner, 30, was also charged in the sweep with with possession of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy, resisting arrest, criminal mischief and hindering. 

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


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    During an argument, Jamar Battle fired his gun, but instead of hitting his intended target, he hit the 5-year-old girl.

    A convicted felon who accidentally shot a 5-year-old girl during an argument in Newark was arrested Saturday, officials announced Monday.

    Jamar Battle, 30, of Newark, was charged on Aug. 10 with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office. Battle was arrested the next day and was in Newark federal court Monday, where he was ordered to detained until his next hearing.

    Battle.jpgJamar Battle (Newark Department of Public Safety) 

    The shooting, which police originally called a "cowardly act,' happened on July 4 on Avon Avenue at 11:30 p.m., when Battle was arguing with another person, investigators said. During the argument, Battle fired his gun, but instead of hitting his intended target, he hit the 5-year-old girl who was walking down the street with her father.

    The girl, who was not identified by police, was treated and released from University Hospital.

    U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said Battle was convicted in 2015 for illegally possessing a firearm, so he was still considered a felon at the time of the shooting.

    If he is convicted, Battle could be jailed for up to 10 years and fined up to $250,000.

    Chris Sheldon may be reached at csheldon@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrisrsheldon Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    See which New Jersey hospitals ranked highest in this high-profile survey.


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    NJ Advance Media takes a peek at some of the top New Jersey high school football scrimmages this summer. Here's your guide.


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    The move by Gov. Phil Murphy allows for state resources and funding to these areas hurt by torrential rain in recent days


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    Officer Josh McCall and a boy showed off their moves as a family went through security Watch video

    A Transportation Security Administration officer showed he has some moves as he processed a family of five through security at Newark Liberty International Airport.

    Officer Joshua McCall admired how one of the three children danced and the boy challenged McCall to a dance-off last week in Terminal B.

    United Airlines plane backs into truck at Newark Liberty airport

    In a video shared by the TSA, the officer is shown keeping up with the boy. Another child who appears to be the boy's younger brother also attempts to get in on the fun. 

    McCall then posed for a photo with the entire family. 

    "After ensuring all are secure as they enter the checkpoint, our TSA officers will be happy to accept any dance challenges from passengers," TSA Federal Security Director for New Jersey Tom Carter said in a light-hearted statement. "It's a good example of the human side of our great and dedicated professionals on the front lines of homeland security. Officer McCall not only helped keep this family safe, but also made their checkpoint experience both pleasurable and memorable."

    The Associated Press and NJ Advance Media staff writer Jeff Goldman contributed to this report.

     

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    Summer update on the N.J. boys hoops recruiting front


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    A committee of residents is trying to oust Mayor Dwayne Warren from office and hold a special election to replace him.

    A group of residents is seeking to recall Orange Mayor Dwayne Warren from office, NJ Advance Media has learned.

    The city clerk confirmed Tuesday that she had certified a notice of intent to recall the mayor and approved the petition language last week. Clerk Joyce Lanier said the recall committee must collect signatures for 25 percent of all voters registered for the last general election, or about 4,051 signatures. 

    Dwayne Warren headshot.jpgOrange Mayor Dwayne Warren  

    Warren, a Democrat, was first elected in 2012, after ousting incumbent mayor Eldridge Hawkins Jr. He was re-elected in 2016 for a second term. Warren also works as a senior partner at the law firm Mizrahi Warren, is a municipal prosecutor in Plainfield and an adjunct professor at Essex County College. 

    Orange spokesman Keith Royster said the administration was aware of the petition.

    "Mayor Warren has always been a leader who leads our city through unity and citizen input. In the spirit of collaboration, the Mayor asks any and all residents to join him in meeting the challenges we must face together, as one community," Royster said in an emailed statement.

    "Those few individuals who want to engage in political theatre choose to ignore the will of the people who voted in the 2016 municipal election."

    But organizers of the recall say Warren's tenure in Orange has been marked by federal investigations, mismanagement of city coffers and a recent spike in crime. 

    "We felt the need to ask for an election, a recall election as soon as possible due to many citizens' frustration with how the city is being run," said resident Tyrone Jon Tarver, who is leading the recall efforts. "It's really his choice on how he runs the city, how he mishandles and misappropriates the finances of the city." 

    Orange had four homicides in the first six months of 2018, compared with none in the first six months of 2017, records from the Essex County Prosecutor's Office show. 

    "It's come to an apex where (his decisions) are hurting the city," Tarver, who was elected to the School Board last year, said. Tarver pointed to the city's deficit and the potential layoffs that could come with it.

    But Royster said Orange had withdrawn its layoff plan and was able to deliver a balanced budget through other departmental cuts.

    The city is also the focus of a wide-ranging federal probe as the FBI investigates alleged misused of government funds, among other things. In recent months the city has received additional subpoenas in relation to the investigation, according to a city official.

    Warren's administration has been marked by fights with the city council over his hiring of top administrators to highly paid jobs that weren't on the books. The Appellate Division recently affirmed a lower court's decision ruling that the city's former deputy business administrator, Willis Edwards III, was not lawfully appointed and had to pay the city back his salary.  

    "Many people are unhappy with our municipality's situation," Tarver said. "Everybody's pretty fed up."

    The recall committee, which Tarver said is not politically affiliated, has 160 days to collect the required signatures. If the required signatures are verified by the clerk, the mayor has five days to resign. He can also challenge the validity of the certification in court. 

    Karen Yi may be reached at kyi@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook

     

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    When students were embarrassed to attend high school because their clothes were dirty and because they would get bullied, their high school principal was able to get washing machines and dryers to remove that barrier. Watch video

    The Facebook picture of Akbar Cook standing in front of washing machines and dryers looked rather odd at West Side High School in Newark.

    Not to Cook, who is the school's new principal this school year. The appliances are not out of place at all. In fact, he said, they're needed to remove a barrier that kept students from coming to school when he was vice principal.

    Students couldn't afford to wash their school uniforms, a financial situation at home that was made worse when they did show up to school.

    Wearing a dirty school uniform opened them up to bullying, teasing and jokes that didn't end when school was over, Cook said. Students snapped cellphone pictures of a classmate's dirty collar or stained Khaki pants and posted them to social media.

    "They were choosing to stay home rather than coming to school to be bullied or ridiculed,'' Cook said. "We didn't know until we started making calls,'' home to find out why students weren't in school, he said.

    He relayed this story two years ago during an advisory council meeting of the MCJ Amelior Foundation, which has adopted the school and funds some of its academic and enrichment programs.

    The PSEG Foundation was at the table and wanted to help. It later provided a $20,000 grant for the appliances -- five washing machines and five dryers --  and materials along with advice on how to convert the football locker room into a laundry room.

    Ellen Lambert, who has retired from the foundation as its president, said "it made great sense" for the foundation to get involved when she listened to Cook explain the challenges he faced combatting attendance.

    "We take things for granted that are easy for us. He (Cook) doesn't. You want everyone to succeed, especially young people. He finds those places where success doesn't happen and he figures out why and he goes after it.''

    The Newark public school's facilities team did the work to create the laundry room, but Cook said students will be working, too, now that's it's done.

    westdetergeant1ax243_08a9_9.jpgAmadu Benbow, left, and Yasim Hooker bring in laundry supplies that were donated by a local UPS store. West Side High School was having a problem with students not coming to school because they had dirty clothes and they did not want to be subjected to getting bullied by classmates on social media. The principal, Akbar Cook, has solved that problem. He was able to get a grant to purchase washing machines and dryers to eliminate that barrier. Monday August 13, 2018. Newark, NJ, USA
     

    He said students can't just wash clothes, leave and play on their cell phones. In an adjacent room called the Makerspace, Cook said a teacher will be assigned before and after school to work with students on STEM projects and explore academic interests while they wait for their laundry.

    A couple of students did some STEM work Monday when Cook had a preliminary opening of the laundry room during the school's summer Lights On Program that he started three years ago to keep kids off the street. The building is open three nights a week from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. The place is buzzing with activity from open gym, yoga and video games to exercise classes, dancing and sessions on henna designs.

    In the laundry room, though, Kalim Harvey-Belcher, 16, tinkered with a STEM design after tossing in a load. He's never been teased by anyone for not having clean clothes, but Harvey-Belcher said he did miss a few days of school last year because his uniform was not up to snuff.

    "With the laundromat, it'll be a benefit to students because they're still getting their education and they're getting their clothes cleaned,'' said Harvey-Belcher, who will use the machines this year if necessary. "You can come to school smelling like Tide every day.''

    Curtis Hill, 20, wished this project was in place when he was a student two years ago at West Side.

    "I was getting teased, my clothes were smelling,'' said Hill, who was living on his own in a group home.

    westbelcher1ax252_0533_9.jpgKalim Harvey-Belchner, 16, , works on a bridge construction set in the Maker Space STEM area adjacent to the laundry facilities. West Side High School was having a problem with students not coming to school because they had dirty clothes and they did not want to be subjected to getting bullied by classmates on social media. The principal, Akbar Cook, has solved that problem. He was able to get a grant to purchase washing machines and dryers to eliminate that barrier. Monday August 13, 2018. Newark, NJ, USA 

    He missed days, too, but said but he found a way to ignore the critics when his clothes were not fresh.

    For other students, Cook gave them clothes to wear from the school store, which sold West Side t-shirts and sweatpants. If they needed deodorant or soap to wash up, Cook had that, too.

    "I refuse to let a kid come to school smelling or dirty and I'm sitting on a shirt that says 'West Side on it," Cook said.

    With the school year weeks away, students and Cook believe the laundry room will remove a social stigma and change a culture of bullying.

    "Principal Cook exemplifies the very best of Newark's principals and is evidence of what happens when passion meets progress for our students -- the community becomes the greatest beneficiary," said Newark's Superintendent Roger Leon. 

    "His leadership, dedication, commitment, and spirit early on with this project embody basic yet key essentials to increasing student attendance which will yield student achievement and academic success.''

    Word is spreading about the laundry room beyond the school walls.

    Catresa McGhee, a human resources supervisor for United Parcel Service in Newark, saw the Facebook picture, too, of Cook standing in front of the washing machines.

    She showed up to school Monday night with plenty of laundry supplies donated by employees who want to help West Side get off to a clean start.

    Read More

    Barry Carter may be reached at bcarter@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @BarryCarterSL. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Who is back from NJ.com's postseason selections following the 2017 season?


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    The 43-year-old man was apparently trying to flee a gunman when he was struck by a vehicle

    A 43-year old Irvington man died after he was shot and run over by a vehicle Tuesday night in Newark, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said Wednesday. 

    Just before 9 p.m., prosecutors say, Rodney O'Neal was shot it the 300 block of Schley Street in the city's South Ward. 

    Authorities say O'Neal was struck by the vehicle while apparently attempting to flee the shooter. He was rushed to University Hospital in Newark, and pronounced dead at 11:05 p.m. 

    An autopsy is pending to determine the exact cause of O'Neal's death.

    Anyone with information about it is asked to contact the Essex County Prosecutor's Office's Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force tip line at 1-877-TIPS-4EC or 1-877-847-7432.

    Taylor Tiamoyo Harris may be reached at tharris@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @ladytiamoyo.

    Find NJ.com on Facebook.  

     

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    More hot fun in the summertime.

    This is a photo of the house I grew up in on Chimes Terrace in Vineland. Do you see that strip of sand alongside the street in front of our house?

    Chimes_Terrace.jpg 

    Obviously, we didn't have sidewalks. We also didn't have a swimming pool and my sister and I usually were limited to running through the sprinkler or shooting water pistols at each other to keep cool.

    But with regularity, it being summer, a thunderstorm would pass through.

    Thunderstorms are usually over pretty quickly; after it passed, a river of water would be running down the side of our street. That water and that sand became our special summer fun.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    We could form little canals or dam up the water and make a small lake. If it was a particularly hard rain, you could sail little sticks as if they were boats. Even if the rain wasn't quite over, it was a cooling summer rain you didn't mind and the steam rising off the asphalt added to the things you could imagine. Traffic wasn't nearly as dense as it is today, and drivers were aware of us - they weren't staring at cell phones.

    And every time there's a summer shower, even to this day, I think back to that simple summer fun.

    In this gallery of vintage photos from around New Jersey, we can see that summertime fun can be anything anyone wants it to be when the weather's fine. And here are links to other galleries you'll enjoy.

    Vintage photos of taverns and bars in N.J.

    Vintage photos of the 1970s in N.J.

    Vintage photos of a day in 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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    The city plans to replace its 15,000 lead service lines at a cost of $75 million. The lead service line inventory obtained through a public records request, shows some pipes some date to the 1880s.


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    Gov. Phil Murphy's announcement that an outside monitor will oversee University Hospital was a gut punch to New Jersey's only public hospital.


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    The Queen of Soul died Thursday, and all I can think about is the chat we had in 2015.


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