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Breaking news & local stories from Woodbury, Washington Twp, Harrison Twp, Glassboro, and more
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    Most contract employees, like those who work for FAA Technical Center contractors, do not get shutdown-related back pay. Ever.

    By Scott Tully

    Every government shutdown focuses on the federal employees who are affected by furloughs or temporary layoffs. While they do take a huge hit, every past shutdown of the type we're now experiencing has resulted in these federal employees receiving back pay, even for the time when they were not working involuntarily.

    While there may be debate over this back-pay policy, it's important to stress that these direct government employees miss getting their paychecks on time, but they have never risked not being paid eventually. Their situation creates many problems but, in the end, has always amounted to a paid vacation, except for those who are considered as "essential" employees and are forced to work with no pay during a shutdown.

    Often forgotten during shutdowns are those workers who are not employed directly by the federal government, but whose pay comes from the federal budget through grants and private-sector government contracts. Contract employees, who number about 3.7 million, account for a larger number of workers than the federal government itself (about 2 million), excluding the military and the U.S Postal Service. 

    Most contract employees like myself do not get shutdown-related back pay. Ever.

    I have been employed by a Federal Aviation Administration contractor for more than 10 years, and currently work at the FAA's William J. Hughes Technical Center at Atlantic City International Airport. My work status during a shutdown comes down to the specifics of each contract, and how long until its existing funding runs out. 

    In my current situation, my contract employer got a "stop work" order effective Jan. 4, the date that funds were no longer available. When this happens, we get sent home until the shutdown ends. It doesn't matter what we were working on, or whether or not we provide support for an operational system.

    I'm a software engineer for a FAA project called Identity and Access Management (IAM). It's a very small group of people with a single federal administrator. IAM is a security system that enables strong authentication between devices in the National Airspace System and its external customers. This system represents the airspace, navigation facilities and airports of the United States, along with their associated services, regulations, procedures, personnel and equipment. 

    How many people are left supporting IAM during this shutdown? The current number is zero, because the contract is out of funds.

    I'm sure there are more stories like mine, where important contracts have no support available. I'm sure there are many more people who will never be paid for the time they missed work. 

    It scares me that the entity we all trust to govern, rule, and -- dare I say, help us? -- can't even manage the people they directly employ. 

    End the shutdown.  Let us get back to work.

    Scott Tully writes from Beachwood, Ocean County. Since Jan. 4, he has been looking for other work, posting on social media and protesting the shutdown at a traffic circle near the FAA center in Egg Harbor Township.

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


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    Here's a roundup of recent home sales in Cumberland, Salem and Gloucester counties.

    Bridgeton

    -163 Telegraph Road, Raymond J. and Rochelle L. Harding to Mikele K. Vanmeter for $145,000.

    Carneys Point

    -322 Justice Drive, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to Pietro Sforz for $60,000.

    -265 Center Street, Dianna L. Honsell, executrix for the estate of George Koeturius, to Caleb J. Hill and Indiana Johnson for $75,000.

    -257 J. Street, Anthony Koeturius to Oneyra Ortiz and Lewis F. Marrero-Rios for $107,628.

    -1 Water's Way, Route 48 Properties, LLC to NVR, Inc. for $51,000.

    -8 Water's Way, Route 48 Properties, LLC to NVR, Inc. for $44,500. 

    Carneys Point Twp.

    -409 Hollywood Ave., Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation to Kyle S. Bickhart and Erika L. Lapp for $74,900.

    Commercial Twp.

    -143 Satinwood Road, Leonard Mazzola Jr. to Robert D. Daugherty for $112,000.

    Upper Deerfield

    -33 Roberts Ave., Mary Joyce Cormier to Judy L. McCormick and John M. Nedohon for $175,000.

    West Deptford

    -1321 Royal Lane, Brian J. and Robin Lee Cardillo to Jonathan and Brianna Gravina for $350,000.

    -1307 McKinley Ave., Jason and Heather Spence to Richard Harris for $127,500.  

    East Greenwich Twp.

    -384 Friendship Road, Rachel C. Taylor and Brian Rogalski to Jill R. Murrell and James A. Trofatter for $385,000.

    Fairfield Twp.

    -9 Collett Drive, John E. Jr. and Ruth Dawson to Juan Carlos and Stacey K. Avila for $100,000. 

    Glassboro

    -229 Deptford Road, Douglas J. D'Alfonso Jr. to Pike Property Solutions, LLC for $110,000.

    -204 Van Buren Ave., Karl J. and Rosalia L. Senula to Dana J. Benjamin and Robert J. Traynor for $214,900.

    -406 Aura Road, Nicholas J. and Chelsea Bowen to Clinton D. Carter III and Christina I. Malinowski for $220,000.

    -123 Field Loop, D.R. Horton, Inc. to Anthony C. and Donna M. Azzarano for $285,788.    

    Mannington

    -750 Hawks Bridge Road, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to Francis J. Pollinger for $25,400.

    Mantua

    -246 Evergreen Ave., Justina Palo to Linda and Michael Bianucci for $200,000.

    -640 Pierre Ave., Joseph R. and Heather J. Yakaboski to Megan Manaloris for $191,000.

    Millville

    -523 Newport Road, Timothy J. Tonczyczyn to Mildred Hunter for $149,900.

    -117 Sandalwood Road, Bill Michael Cook and Rita Anne Lucey to Tyler N. Tayvinsky for $125,000.

    -1642 East Buckshutem Road, James J. and Nina A. Gaglianone to Sean Laury for $377,000.

    -915 Barbara Terrace, K&L Real Estate LLC, Kevin Reed, to George P. Skelly for $155,000.

    -1111 Village Drive, Millville Village Restaurant Corporation to Village Drive Healthcare urban Renewal LLC for $375,000.

    -1125 Village Drive, Mapshade of Millville LLC to Village Drive Healthcare Urban Renewal LLC for $4,000,000.

    Monroe

    -344 Florence Blvd., Hogar Hispano Inc. to Fadil and Myrvete Halili for $135,000.

    Monroe Twp.

    -205 Huntly Lane, Hovbros Stirling Glen, LLC to Anthony E. Zuvich and Nancy J. Reider-Zuvich for $301,524.

    Mount Royal

    -304 Meadowview Court, NVR, Inc. to Catherine Maldonado and Jose E. Rivera for $443,215.     

    Mullica Hill

    -103 Dillons Lane, Marmo Properties, LLC to Jason and Paulina Crane for $485,000.  

    Pennsville

    -166 and 168 North River Drive, Stephen G. Digerness to Carole and Charles F. Sparks Sr. for $126,000.

    -357 N. Hook Road, The First National Bank of Elmer to Robert Mutz and Saraann E. Whitzell for $229,000.

    -170 Salem Drive, Deutsche Bank National Trust Company to Sheldon Lehman for $48,000.

    -112 River Drive, The Bank of New York Mellon to Belanger Homes, LLC for $52,500.

    Pittsgrove

    -73 Harris Road, Harriet T. and Michael F. Underwood to Bryan D. Hagerty and Samantha A. Dubois for $216,500.

    -713 Upper Neck Road, Better Homes Building Products Corporation to Fernando and Evelyn Montoya for $269,000.

    Pitman

    -601 Howard Ave., Lane L. and Rose M. Lam to Carl S. and Laura A. Scutt for $242,500. 

    Salem

    -426 Walnut Street, Robert and Margaret Masserini to Aaron Leonard and Erin M. Crawford for $200,000.

    Sewell

    -32 Phoenix Court, Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC to Naiem Abodaka for $117,000.

    Shiloh

    -Maple Ave. Lot 6, Elizabeth K. Bidwell, Ruth Ann Davis, Everett C. Dickinson, Lois E. Mazza and Carol S. Wendell to Ronald L. Sr. and Sharon B. Campbell for $133,250.

    Swedesboro

    -1B44 Kings Highway, DLR Group Properties to Julia Foster for $159,905.

    -12 Quail Court, Janeen N. Collins to Melissa J. and Kenneth O. McLean for $161,000.

    -1844 Kings Highway, DLR Group Properties, LLC to Julia Foster for $159,905.

    Vineland

    -1139 Hadsell Ave., Joseph B. Chalow to John and Rachael Macdermott for $125,000.

    -1458 Briar Trail, Brandi and Jamey R. Burton to Jonathan Hernandez for $230,000.

    -140 Knoll Drive, Elizabeth Festa and Kathy F. Huston to Angela Rosario for $173,500.

    -3155 Swan Drive, Blaise R. Menzoni to Ashley B. Arrocho and Jose Perez for $265,000.

    -3490 E. Landis Ave., Shirley V. Burke, executrix of the estate of Angelina Vendrasco, to Village Super Market Inc., for $1,200,000.

    -969 Chapel Drive, Joseph S. Doblick and Angela M. Scarpa to Maria M. Centeno-Paz for $189,000.

    -503 N. Second Street, William Sr. and Yolanda Maldonado to Nery E. Zetino Campos for $145,000.

    -115 Josephs Court, Nicole Djakow and Scott Fansko to Kathryn Fransko for $290,000.

    -2741 Perna Lane, Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC to Anthony Richard and Rosemary Lynn Wilson for $101,000.

    Woodbury

    -132 Progress Ave., Pro Veteran Property Solutions LLC to Samantha L. Tyrol for $160,000.  

    Woodstown

    -20 Dickinson Street, NJHR 3, LLC to David A. Wise and Jennifer L. Lane for $173,000.

    Woolwich

    -17 Sweetgum Street, NVR, Inc. to Akil L. Freeman-King and Christina M. Teel for $371,377. 

    South Jersey Times may be reached at sjnews@njadvancemedia.com. Follow us on Twitter @theSJTimes. Find the South Jersey Times on Facebook.


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    Paul Bunkin writes that the current fight reminds him of the Berlin Wall prisoner exchange depicted in the movie "Bridge of Spies."

    Whenever Donald Trump speaks about the border wall to keep "those people" out of our country, I think of the Steven Spielberg movie "Bridge of Spies."  

    For those not familiar with the fact-based plot, Tom Hanks portrays James Donovan, a New York lawyer hired by the U.S. government to arrange the exchange of U2 pilot Frances Gary Powers, held by the Russians, in exchange for a Russian spy held by the United States. The exchange, in 1962, took place at the middle of a bridge separating West Germany from East Germany.

    The portion of the film I think about most was a train trip Donovan took between West and East Germany during negotiations. The trip took him over the Berlin Wall. As his train passed the wall, Donovan witnessed three persons attempting to flee communist East Germany by climbing over the wall. They did not make it. They were murdered by East German police.

    If a wall is built on our southern border -- and, I hope it is not -- what will be the fate of the persons trying to navigate passage over the wall in order to enter our country?  

    Paul Bunkin, Turnersville

    U.S. border must be respected worldwide

    President Donald Trump is trying to end an injustice against America by securing its southern border. Hopefully, the suffering of the American worker is coming to an end. 

    For 30 years, too much foreign labor came into America, causing a surplus of workers that gave power to employers over employees. For too long, this surplus has been a reason that wages have been held down. The "aristocracy" wants an obedient workforce. They don't want good workers; they want good servants. 

    Building an expanded border wall would be an outward expression of our commitment to protect America from Mexican drug cartels. For too long, addictive drugs have crossed our southern border illegally, causing misery and death. Now finally we have a president who wants to do something about it. 

    We should maintain the strictest discipline at the border. The Border Patrol and the Army should be authorized to lethal force at the border when justified. Mexico and Central America are challenging U.S. sovereignty. As a sovereign nation, it is our right to have our border respected. 

    Does the United Nations recognize our right to have a border? How can the United Nations expect to maintain world peace if national borders are not respected?

    Either we are a sovereign nation or we are not.  All of world history is a series of migrations and wars.

    Lee Lucas, Gibbstown

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


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    U.S. Rep. Van Drew's first bill addresses the fact that members of the Coast Guard have been treated as second-class military citizens during the government shutdown.

    Rookie U.S. House member Jeff Van Drew's first sponsored bill, should it become law, won't be more than a footnote in the history of Congress. Nonetheless, Rep. Van Drew, D-2nd Dist., recognized the importance of one of South Jersey's longstanding institutions with his first entry into the legislative hopper. 

    Van Drew wants to ensure that members and employees of the U.S. Coast Guard, which has a considerable presence in his shore district, can receive pay during the current partial government shutdown. As more and more people have become aware, the Coast Guard -- because of its unique status as part of the the U.S Homeland Security Department -- is the only one of the five branches of the military where pay has been suspended while President Donald Trump and Democratic congressional leaders argue over his desired border wall. The Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force are all connected to the Department of Defense, whose operations are not affected by the partial shutdown, and whose members continue to be paid.

    Meanwhile, the Coast Guard continues to protect our borders and shows up to perform marine rescues, often from its base and training facility in Cape May County and its air station in Egg Harbor Township. Coast Guard recruits and active duty officers from all over the country spend time in our area, and the community responds through such efforts as annual invitations for them to share holiday dinners in permanent residents' homes.

    While this home-away-from home generosity has always been part of our region's welcome, the shutdown emphasizes the point that there are full Coast Guard families here, too, often with young children, and often living in base-provided housing. They can be single-income households for whom the term "paycheck-to-paycheck" is no less applicable than for the civilian U.S. government work force in New Jersey, estimated at about 6,000 overall.

    Obviously, the best outcome for all of these workers is a quick end to the shutdown that reopens the government fully, even if the president doesn't get his billions for the wall that Mexico was originally supposed to pay for. But, the situation for the Coast Guard is a double indignity because it makes their branch of the service into a second-class one. Van Drew's bill, introduced this past Tuesday, puts Coast Guard funding on the same basis as for the rest of the military, ensuring that it continues until the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

    Standing up for the Coast Guard was always such a priority for former Rep Frank LoBiondo that its most recent $10 billion authorization bill, signed Dec. 4 by President Trump, was titled "The Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018" by his colleagues. Republican LoBiondo retired from Congress earlier this month after 24 years, and was replaced by Democrat Van Drew. More than just a funding measure, the LoBiondo law gave additional powers to the Coast Guard involving anti-pollution enforcement and interdiction of drug smugglers.

    It's fitting that Van Drew is continuing to show affinity for the Coast Guard and all that it does for us, on a bipartisan basis. His first bill may not define the freshman's overall House career, but it surely gets things right concerning the priorities of his district.

    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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    Consider a shelter dog or cat for your next pet.

    Petfinder -- an online, searchable database of adoptable animals -- compiled a list of common misconceptions about pet adoption in the hopes that if myths are debunked, more people will adopt dogs and cats from shelters and rescues.

    "I don't know what I'm getting."

    There is likely more information available on adoptable animals than pets for purchase in pet stores. Many of the pets from rescue groups are in foster care, living with their fosterer 24/7; information on their personality and habits is typically vast. Even shelters have a very good idea about how the dogs and cats in their care behave with people and other animals.

    "I can't find what I want at a shelter."

    Not only are their breed-specific rescue groups, but some rescues and shelters maintain waiting lists for specific breeds. There are even means on Petfinder.com to be notified when certain breeds are posted for adoption.

    "I can get a pet for free from a friend or acquaintance; why pay an adoption fee?"

    The "free pet" from a source other than a shelter or rescue group isn't necessarily free. Adoption fees usually cover a number of services and treatments including spay/neuter and veterinary checkups. Covering these costs on your own would call for spending the following estimated amounts:

    * Spay/neuter: $150-$300
    * Distemper vaccination: $20-$30, twice
    * Rabies vaccination: $15-$25
    * Heartworm test: $15-$35
    * Flea/tick treatment: $50-$200
    * Microchip: $25-$50

    "Pets are in shelters because they don't make good pets."

    Here are the main reasons animals end up in shelters or with rescue groups:

    * Owners have to move, pets not allowed
    * Allergies
    * Owner having personal problems
    * Too many, no room for littermates
    * Owner can no longer afford a pet
    * Owner's health does not allow for pet care

    While no one can say that every pet adopted from a shelter or rescue will work out perfectly, it's important to remember that misinformation about these homeless animals often keeps them from finding loving homes.

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


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    Human nature being what it is, I'm not sure that collected citizenship information won't be used in the worst ways possible.

    I don't know how closely you follow the happenings coming out of Washington D.C., especially coming off the holidays. If you're like me, you might find yourself trying to avoid looking at the mess for too long because it just makes you feel bad, or angry or worried.

    Yet, we have an obligation to look and be aware because what happens in Washington trickles down to our communities, and much of it impacts our lives directly or indirectly. This can be said of many issues, but now I'm mostly thinking about the upcoming 2020 U.S. census -- and specifically about the Trump administration's intention to include a citizenship question on all census versions.  

    The Constitution requires that we count the whole number of persons in each state every 10 years. As far as gathering information beyond a simple head count, the courts have ruled on multiple occasions that there is no problem with gathering more detailed information.

    On the face of it, this seems reasonable enough. After all, why wouldn't the government want to have as much statistical information as possible? But, we're not necessarily talking about a neutral entity when we refer to "the government." It's represented by individuals and, human nature being what it is, and I'm not at all sure that some of the collected census information collected won't be used in the worst ways possible.

    One major concern of many who are involved with the census is that any question inquiring into someone's citizenship status will cause a huge number of people to avoid census workers or fail to submit completed census forms. The end result would be a count that is more inaccurate than in the past.

    The census serves as baseline for many things including ensuring equal, or, more accurately, proportional representation. Census results become a basis for drawing the boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts, both of which play a major role in how the voice of the people is heard. Just as importantly, perhaps, census population figures are used to apportion and distribute an enormous amount of aid and resources to states and smaller government subdivisions.

    Many communities, mostly urban ones, will suffer if clusters of people are undercounted. Here's the thing: Regardless of whether or not people and families are included in the headcount, local and state governments still have to provide services and infrastructure based on the actual number of individuals residing in those places. When aid is reduced in places where many people are missed by the census, it negatively affects the quality of life in those places, including having fewer resources for public safety. 

    New Jersey receives upwards of $17.5 billion annually from the federal government. While I don't have an exact dollar amount in terms of of what the City of Bridgeton receive, it's not insignificant.

    This isn't just about aid or resources going to one group or another. and it's not just about "poor folk." It's about all taxpayers in a given state or community. Some examples of outside funding based on census results include career and technical education, beach monitoring and hazardous waste management programs. It is also worth mentioning that a fair number of undocumented individuals -- those most likely to remain uncounted in the census -- pay federal taxes. Often, they obtain a taxpayer identification number, which the IRS will issue even to people without  Social Security numbers.

    As one writer recently pointed out, the idea of a census goes back to ancient times, when the headcount was mostly about allowing rulers to collect taxes and confiscate property. What is unique about the U.S. census is that it's supposed to be about empowering individual citizens through their communities and states. 

    The census may be administered by the government, but one of its main purposes is to return resources to people where they need it most, while helping to give shape to government by the people, for the people and of the people. Our census shouldn't be corrupted or weaponized -- and we need to say as much to our elected officials.

    Albert B. Kelly is mayor of Bridgeton. Contact him by phone at 856-455-3230 Ext. 200.

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


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    Don McManamy writes to support an earlier writer who backs border barriers.

    Ken Frank was right on target with his recent letter, "With land, lots of land, please fence me in," supporting additional physical barriers at the U.S. southern border.

    The purpose of people who call an added wall "immoral" is to destroy the United States and to gather power. These methods are very much akin to the Nazis in Germany, and the communists in Russia, Cuba, Vietnam and elsewhere.

    Like Frank, I doubt if any these people fail to lock their doors and night. As for walls being immoral, there are a lot of immoral people in America; heck, even in Gloucester County, New Jersey. Look around at all the fences in every town. 

    As far as using "immigrant" to describe all of us, because of our ancestors' foreign birthplaces: I don't know about y'all. As for me, I was born here 76 years ago. If y'all don't like it, then don't let the door hit y'all on the way out!

    Don McManamy, Myrtle Beach, S.C.

    Note: The writer is a former resident of Gloucester County.

    $5 billion a paltry sum next to this boondoggle

    Sadly, Congress is at a stalemate over a ridiculous $5 billion to put up or extend a fence/ wall at the Mexican border.

    Not that many years ago, the majority in Congress agreed to fund more than twice as much -- $13 billion -- for a single aircraft carrier that is turning out to be nothing but floating garbage. That's because the USS Gerald R. Ford, besides being launched 25 percent over budget, has a so-called state of the arts launching system that published reports say is failing regularly.

    Even the carrier's new arresting-gear system that provides braking for the aircraft does not operate as intended, and the elevators that move munition to the flight deck do not function reliably. That problem alone is expected require an additional $120 million to fix.

    What is happening? Our previous carriers were operational and tested to survive any possible war or conflict. It is obvious that those elected to Congress have no clue how any of the carriers operate and what technology is truly needed. All they seem to understand is: If you throw money at it, the system will fix itself.

    Does anyone in Congress know what $1 billion can buy for a city like Camden, Detroit or others in need? Washington is becoming more like professional football, when tens of millions are spent on anyone who can throw a ball. This is why, sadly, Washington is heading for a major disaster.

    Most of us put up fences of some kind, including the pope at the Vatican. For the same reasons, security cameras are hot sellers these days. 

    Larry Lueder, Mantua Township

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


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    With its option for beach towns to carve out a smoking section, New Jersey's new law banning smoking on the sand could be a source of conflict.

    It's got to be the ultimate conflict-avoidance move to have New Jersey's statewide ban on beach smoking start Wednesday -- when hardly anyone, smoker or non-smoker, is on New Jersey's beaches.

    Except for those brave souls who raise charity funds by participating in polar-bear plunges throughout the South Jersey shore (a salute to all of them), the smoking ban realistically goes into effect around Memorial Day 2019. It's probably a good idea to have this four-month shakedown cruise.

    In one sense, it's a shame that legislation is required where common courtesy should prevail. Those who smoke should always yield to those who are bothered by or otherwise affected by second-hand smoke. The beach isn't a confined space. Even without the new law, smokers could usually find spots where their puffing  is minimally invasive to others.

    But, then came the secondary arguments about butts (and now, empty vape liquid bottles) on the beach, fires on the boardwalk and other environmental degradation. Former Gov. Chis Christie vetoed a similar ban during his libertarian dress-up days when he had Republican presidential ambitions, but everyone knew it was just a matter of time before Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy signed a new version of the bill.

    Now that the time is here, common courtesy should be the watchword as the ban rolls out this spring and summer. Christie stated that he vetoed the legislation because he thought smoking bans were best left to individual towns. Lo and behold, even the new law isn't crystal clear about when "no" means "no." An option remains for each municipality to carve out a portion of its beach where smoking (and vaping) will be permitted. 

    So, it'll still be a patchwork of where you can, and where you can't. Although the maximum set-aside is 15 percent of a town's beach, other criteria are fluid. Will towns allow smoking only on the least desirable section of a beach? Will they restrict it to only those spots where lifeguards are willing to submit themselves to a constant haze of tar and nicotine?

    One thing is sure: Towns that surrender their right to end smoking on every square inch of beach should get their acts together soon. Set 2019 limits now, before shore home leases need to be signed in blood, and before smokers end up buying seasonal beach tags in towns where they're not welcome. Allow time for the state to promulgate a master list. Although your favorite New Jersey-centric website will probably do that anyway, it's not really nj.com's job.

    Another question is enforcement. Expect smoking control to fall into the same category as alcohol control on beaches: inconsistent and occasionally contentious. (Cut to those videos of Wildwood cops and a 20-year-old Philadelphia woman mixing it up over an underage-drinking case last year.) Some shore police departments will say they have more important things to do during the high season; few will hire additional staff to keep beaches smoke-free. But if you do get caught, remember that the penalty is $250 for a first offense, $500 for a second one, and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.

    "The beach is not an ashtray," state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a co-sponsor of the new law, proclaimed when Murphy signed it last June. As long as a smoking ban isn't absolute or permanent on every beach in every town, Sweeney, D-Gloucester, is about half right. Our beaches will indeed be cleaner with the new law. However, there's still a need for beachgoers to be civil, and to try to resolve any smoking disputes peacefully among themselves.

    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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    Barbara Essington writes that it's one of the good things President Trump is trying to accomplish.

    The Democrats now control the House of Representatives thanks to those, who, for various reasons, want to see them go after Republican President Donald Trump and blame him for everything he has done.

    It was no surprise that impeachment articles were re-introduced by U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., when the new session began. Newly sworn-in Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., has been enthusiastic about wanting to impeach Trump and recently described him with a disgusting profanity to a crowd of people. That's not a particularly a good way to begin her term!

    The Democrats are ignoring the wishes of the 46 percent of Americans who voted for Trump in 2016. Trump is challenging the left's ideas on political correctness, racial preferences, identity politics and weak borders. Democrats' vindictive actions and name calling, instead of focusing on representing the people who elected them, are is not in the best interest of our country.

    You don't have to like the president to recognize that good things have happened under his watch that the left fails to acknowledge: a growing economy; low interest rates; lower unemployment, including among minorities; increased oil production -- just to name a few. 

    Border security and the related immigration crisis has long been an issue that needs to addressed, which is what the president is trying to do. Building an extended wall or barrier would help to solve this problem. Even heaven has a wall, according to Revelation 21.  

    More importantly, many of us who believe that God is sovereign over individuals and nations conclude that He has allowed President Trump to be in that Oval Office for a reason "...for such a time as this..." (Esther 4:14)

    Barbara Essington, Carneys Point Township

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


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    Tim Sheehan writes that making farmers pay this premium wage too soon would prevent them from raising crops profitably.

    The New Jersey Legislature is preparing to vote to raise the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour. This would be a positive step, but it's important that it's done the right way. 

    That's why I'm glad to see policymakers taking a smart and cautious approach to this by addressing the unique needs of our state's agriculture industry. Farming has always been a critical part of New Jersey's economy, and farmers' needs must be accounted for so they can continue to produce crops in a profitable way. This doesn't mean farmworkers shouldn't eventually get to the same minimum wage as everyone else, it just means that legislation should give farmers the time needed to adjust. This will probably take longer than for other industries. 

    Implementing a $15 minimum wage would provide increased economic opportunities to our work force. But it's not a one-size-fits-all proposition, and it is good that some legislators are acting responsibly by creating a law that works for everyone, including our state's farming community.

    Tim Sheehan, Sewell 

    Editor's note: Gov. Phil Murphy and Democratic legislative leaders both support a $15 minimum wage, but are debating over exemptions. Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Senate President Stephen Sweeney back a version that phases in increases until the minimum for most workers reaches $15 in 2024, delaying this until 2029 for agricultural, seasonal, teen and small-business workers. Murphy favors a so-called "clean" $15 bill with a shorter implementation. The state's 2019 minimum wage for all workers is $8.85 per hour.

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


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    David Levin writes that the new smoking ban is destined to become another ineffective, "feel-good" law.

    As of today, it became illegal to light up tobacco products or use vaping devices in public parks, historic sites, forests, boardwalks and beaches anywhere in New Jersey (although towns may opt to set aside small smoking within these areas).  Signs are supposed to be posted in appropriate locations throughout the state. Repeat smoking-ban violators risk of fines up to $1,000 per incident. 

    Enforcement, especially on New Jersey's public beaches, will be challenging. Will the individual beach towns hire patrols to enforce the law? Only time will tell if the signs are enough to keep smokers from lighting up on the beaches. This could end up being what I'd call a "feel-good" law.

    There is another feel-good law in New Jersey that has not made much of a difference. A few years ago, the state upgraded penalties in its anti-littering law. The first conviction calls for a fine between $100 and $500, and an option to impose 20 to 40 hours of litter cleanup or other community service. Fines for a second conviction within six months are $250 to $1,000, with 40 to 80 hours of community service and/or up to 60 days in prison.

    Has anyone in the Statehouse in Trenton thought of how to enforce such a law?  If the people of New Jersey abided by the anti-litter law, there would be little or no litter on the roadside. Anyone who drives throughout the state will see litter everywhere. Signs - without some type of active enforcement -- are a waste of time.

    David M. Levin, Vineland

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


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    Frank Turton writes that the dealmaker-in-chief doesn't seem to know the meaning of compromise.

    President Donald Trump's government shutdown is now into its fourth week with no end in sight. I call it HIS shutdown, because he himself proclaimed it in advance, and declared that it would be on him. More recently, he said that he will never, ever back down on Congress funding the amount he wants for a southern border wall.

    I guess this is what Trump calls "The Art of the Deal." To him, a compromise means do it his way or no way.

    When he was a presidential candidate, Trump touted as one of his qualifications that he, above all other candidates, could get deals done. He since has had two years as a Republican president with Republican majority in both houses of Congress. He was not able to get his wall funding during that period, and he did not shut down the government for that sole reason while the GOP was fully in charge.

    Now that the Democratic Party has the House of Representatives majority, Trump is no closer to getting the wall built. But, now that the Democrats hold some power,  he has an enemy at which he can point a finger at and try to blame.

    I don't think the president really cares one way or the other if an extended wall or fence ever gets built. His problem is that he drew a line in the sand and, this time, the other side is not caving in to his demands  He would rather put hundreds of thousands of government employees on furlough or be forced to work without pay than face reality.

    Frank Turton, Paulsboro

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


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    Checking out the Garden State from the sky.

    Although drones and Google Earth may have taken the novelty out of aerial photos, it wasn't all that long ago when one of the more attention-getting illustrations a business could have for a postcard was a picture of its location captured from an airplane. But it was photography from an even higher vantage point that went from eye-pleasing to humankind-helping.

    NASA's earliest satellites in the 1960s provided photos of weather systems allowing meteorologists to more accurately track and predict hurricanes and typhoons. According to nasa.gov, advancements in technology (and its miniaturization) allowed future satellites "to measure the 3-D properties of clouds, smoke and other pollutants in the atmosphere; the speed and direction of wind near the ocean surface; the precise elevation and shape of Earth's surface; and changes in Earth's polar ice sheets."

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    The site goes on to note that "airborne observations conducted by NASA played a critical role in helping scientists understand why the Antarctic ozone depletion was occurring - through a connection between meteorology, aerosol/cloud chemistry, and industrially produced chlorine. These findings dramatized the significance of environmental change." The 1988 Montreal Protocol, an international agreement requiring the signatory nations to employ nondestructive alternatives to CFCs, was one of the important results of this research.

    While not taken from quite so high, these vintage photos provide a look at New Jersey from above from years gone by. And, here are links to some other galleries you may enjoy.

    Vintage photos of N.J. from above

    Vintage aerial photos of N.J.

    Vintage N.J. photos that deserve a second look

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


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    It's tough to believe that the governor's exclusion of any mention of South Jersey points in his annual message was just an oversight. Let's hope actions speak louder than words.

    It would be difficult to imagine that, after a year like 2018, former Gov. Chris Christie would have given a 2019 State of the State address that didn't mention any successes, modest though they might be, in Camden and Atlantic City. 

    There was continued progress in Camden's schools, and a further reduction in its overall crime rate. Atlantic City welcomed the reopening of two casinos, as well as ribbon-cuttings on a new Stockton University branch and a South Jersey Gas headquarters.

    From current Gov. Phil Murphy, not a peep about either city. And, while Murphy's remarks were short on audience "shout-outs" of the type that President Ronald Reagan made famous, there were acknowledgements to the mayors of Newark and Plainfield, and innovative programs in Jersey City. Mars (Hackettstown and Newark) Teva Pharmaceuticals (Parsippany-Troy Hills) and the RealReal (Perth Amboy) were mentioned as responsible users of state business development programs.

    Murphy highlighted a "dreamer" from Orange now attending an Essex County college, and the owner of a home-brewing supply company in North Brunswick. Scouring the text of Murphy's address from top to bottom, we couldn't find an allusion to anyone, any company, or any government entity in the southern third of the state worthy of praise. It's surprising that Murphy remembered to acknowledge Jim Florio, who is from Camden County, among former governors who attended Tuesday's speech.

    It's seems obvious that the governor's choice to ignore South Jersey was  intentional, probably the latest incarnation of an intra-party spat with Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester. But the snub to all of the counties south of Trenton is petty. It's also insulting to the large number of people and businesses trying to make a difference in our region.

    With so much of the governor's remarks focused on needed reforms to the Economic Development Authority tax incentive programs that threw scads of tax breaks at companies willing to move to Camden, it's understandable that Murphy wouldn't mention that it's great to have Subaru stay in South Jersey due to one of one of those Camden deals. It wouldn't have fit Tuesday's narrative.

    Look, we've been critical of the same EDA programs that Murphy, and a just-finished audit he commissioned, attacked. There's too little oversight, too little rationalization of per-job incentive amounts, no restriction on poaching jobs from nearby New Jersey suburbs, and considerable evidence that associates of South Jersey power broker George Norcross III had a pipeline to a lot of the EDA's Camden handouts. And, yes, the recent programs that tilted EDA resources to Camden were the brainchild of Sweeney and U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, D-1st Dist., George's brother and a state senator at the time they were conceived.

    Is that a reason for Murphy to toss away a whole region along with some of its brackish bath water? We don't think so. So, we'll remind the governor again -- as we did when his initial transition team and cabinet picks showed a lack of geographic diversity -- that New Jersey's southern border is not New Brunswick. And there a lot of people in a lot of need in Cumberland and Salem counties.

    If seen through to fruition, many of Murphy's priorities, such as a boosted minimum wage and a more responsive NJ Transit, will lift all boats, all over the state. But believe it or not, governor, some of those boats are harbored in shore towns located below Asbury Park and Long Branch.

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


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    Here's a roundup of recent home sales in Cumberland, Salem and Gloucester counties.

    Bridgeton

    -16 Spring Street, Paula Cruz-DeGarcia and Jose L. DeGarcia-Cruz to Nicholas S. Gutowski for $102,000. 

    Carneys Point

    -317 South Johnson Street, Richard T. Haasch, executrix for the estate of Richard E. Haasch, to John I. Levy for $137,500.

    -40 Oak Lane, Route 48 Properties, LLC to NVR, Inc., doing business as Ryan Homes of New Jersey, for $51,000.

    Deptford Twp.

    -610 Cornell Ave., William P. Keane Jr. to Sean A. Harvey for $184,900.  

    Elmer

    -878 Lower Mill Road, Fannie Mae to East Coast Housing LLC for $71,500.

    Glassboro

    -118 Field Loop, D.R. Horton, Inc. to George M. Jr. and Mary T. Harrington for $304,000.

    -134 Stoneham Drive, Michelle Y. and Thomas P. Grehl to Meghan Long and Marc Thomas for $149,900. 

    -130 Stanger Ave., Radd A. Dilworth to David A. Riffert for $155,000.

    Mantua Twp.

    -4 Crescent Hollow Drive, Robert Doody Sr. to Neil E. Fisher for $279,000.

    Millville

    -1222 Robin Road, Darren and Kasie Harris to Dan and Tara Dixon for $232,900.

    -1823 Hance Bridge Road, Kenneth O. Mosley Jr. to LJR Real Estate LLC for $100,000.

    -16 Wildwood Ave., K&L Real Estate LLC and Kevin Reed to Fred A. Green and Tracy Schultz for $159,000.

    -27 Chestnut Street, Arcadia ACU Clinic Inc. to Tracy Parr and Ashley M. Pettit for $131,000.

    -425 Caroline Lane, Marie K. Battist-Celestin to Holly Gajdzisz for $240,000.

    Mullica Hill

    -702 Barnsboro Road, Hezzie John Jr. and Lorraine Melody Schools to Nanak Produce and Marketing, Inc. for $120,000.

    -4 Hasting Drive, Michael J. Dammann to Ilia and Stephanie Dolgansky for $410,000.   

    Pedricktown

    -182 Pennsville-Pedricktown Road, Mary D. and Marcel A. Slusher to Patricia and Joseph Lister for $289,900.

    Pennsville

    -87 Heron Ave., Jason T. Knight and Doada Christie Brothers to Rhonda C. Gresk for $85,000.

    -19 Plant Street, Acting Secretary of Housing and Urban Development of Washington D.C. to Melissa Thompson for $54,150.

    -92 Riviera Drive, Nationstar HECM Acquisition Trust 2017-2, Wilmington Savings Fund Society FSB, to Thomas and Kadjar B. Romansky for $44,000.

    -7 Barclay Drive, David A. and Andrew I. Ross to Mario DeSalvo Jr. for $130,000.

    -7 Narcissus Road, Devlin G. Phero to Heather Baccile and Robert B. Dods III for $115,000.

    -15 Barclay Drive, Christiana Trust to Edward W. Hiles Jr. for $128,000.

    Penns Grove

    -19-21 Naylor Ave., Melissa D. Thompson to 5355 West Main, LLC for $80,000.

    Pilesgrove

    -16 Catalpa Crest, Wilmington Savings Fund Society, doing business as Christiana Trust, to Michael J. McGovern for $124,900.

    Pilesgrove Twp.

    -473 Whig Lane Road, Kelly B. and Kevin W. Whitling to Sion P. and Stephanie Williams for $260,000.  

    Pittsgrove

    -787 Lower Mill Road, Patricia Lee Lafferty to Stephen L. Jr. and Kimberly S. Burton for $237,000.

    Pittsgrove Twp.

    -21 Oaklyn Terrace, Steven, Angela and Charles Prickett to Dwight and Rebecca A. Lein for $155,000.

    Pitman

    -230 North Woodbury Ave., Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as trustee for GSAMP Trust 2006-FM2, mortgage pass-through certificates, series 2006-FM2, by: Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, as attorney-in-fact, to Harry and Susan Armstrong for $118,993.   

    Salem

    -362 H. Bridge-Ft. Elfsborg, Deutsche Bank National Trust Company to Choudery Bhalli for $37,000.

    Sewell

    -6 Citation Court, Jonathan and Brianna Gravina to Scott Breland and Erin Mary Keane for $263,500.

    -717 Rutland Court, Mark W. Blumer and Kelley L. Johnson to Lisa Acello for $160,000.

    -20 Acrux Court, Jeannette A. Russel to Naiem Abodaka for $115,000.

    -18 Rosewood Court, Dante N. and Desiree M. Laspata to Richard W. and Jessica P. Bruno for $300,000.    

    Swedesboro

    -17 Buckeye Road, Robert W. and Rachael C. Zaleski to Frank and Sheena Nunan for $317,900.

    Vineland

    -12 Sutliff Ave., Donald and Kathryn L. Fransko to Joel M. Myers for $170,000.

    -981 Chimes Terrace, Suzanne E. Dodd to Carolyn and Rodney Williams for $175,000.

    -2950 College Drive Unit 2G, Eric Bonifiel MD, PRB Realty Associates and Armando Russo MD to Inspira Medical Centers Inc. for $1,100,000.

    -990 W. Wheat Road, Rosemont Farms LLC to Daniel and Vanessa Colon for $199,900.

    -1609 Wills Place, Angela A. and Byron A. Calakos to Dereck A. Kelley for $270,000.

    -2461 Quail Street, Rebecca Jones to Cory R. and Kelly A. Ozelski for $208,000.

    -1310 Lake Road, Coucill D. LLC to Patrick E. Eschert for $171,000.

    -4645 Robin Road, Rebecca F. Agnew-Bryan and Matthew V. Bryan to Kasey Santana for $114,000.

    -345 W. Oak Road, Maldonetta May to Daniel W. and Ronda Dwight for $159,500.

    Westville

    -115 Ladds Lane, MiPro Homes, LLC to Adam Jakubowski for $245,000.

    Williamstown

    -1013 Hille Terrace, William E. and Alicia McCool to Nicholas J. Sauer and Linda M. Didonato for $192,000.

    -910 Wildwood Ave., Trident Real Estate Partners, LLC to David S. and Pennie A. Oliver for $245,000.

    -549 Frederick Street, Nicholas A. and Brianna P. Florentine to Chelsea H. Malseed and William Flores for $191,500.

    -387 Rushfoil Drive, Christian and Kristi Anastasi to James C. Gnew and Jaclyn Michelle Gnew for $335,000.

    -704 Sherwood Drive, David C. Geiser Jr. to Edward N. Jr. and Bridget Giaccio for $279,000.  

    Woodbury

    -119 South Columbia Street, Tara Charlton Smith and Charles Smith to Matthew R. Abernethy for $118,200.       

    South Jersey Times may be reached at sjnews@njadvancemedia.com. Follow us on Twitter @theSJTimes. Find the South Jersey Times on Facebook.