U. S. News

What President Trump’s economic relief plan means for taxpayers

BILLINGS, Mont. — The components of President Trump’s economic relief plan include expanded unemployment coverage, student loan changes and most notably, a stimulus payment to individuals.  The one time payment will be for $1,200 for each individuals with any qualifying child under the age of 16 to receiving a $500 payment.

Stimulus payments will be delivered either by paper check or by direct deposit based on bank information on your 2019 taxes.  For those who have not filed in 2019, the information will be based off of your 2018 taxes.

Becky Spencer of laser 1040 in Billings has received many questions from tax payers about who will get paid. Spencer says “a lot of people are worried they won’t get money because they haven’t filed a tax return, but if you’ve gotten social security or railroad retirement, they already have your bank account information and everything.  You’ll be getting the money right along with the people that filed returns.”

Whether or not you receive the full stimulus amount will depend on your income.  Single adults with an adjusted gross income of under $75,000 will receive the full payment.  Married couples with no children will receive $2,400 and for those filing as a head of household, they will receive the full payment if they make less than $112,500.  For those who earned over those amounts, you will still receive a portion of the stimulus check.

The stimulus plan will not help people who are ineligible this year due to their 2019 income, however those individuals may benefit once they file their 2020 taxes.

U. S. News

‘My soul is lighter’: Serial killer’s death brings closure

SPOKANE, Wash. — Serial killer Joseph Edward Duncan III died in U.S. prison recently, having admitted to slaughtering seven people — including five children — in Idaho, Washington state, Montana and California.

Some question whether Duncan, whose victims included four members of a single family, killed even more people. Following his arrest in 2005 for the slayings of that Idaho family, the FBI reviewed unsolved missing child cases nationwide.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Traci Whelan believes all of Duncan’s killings were revealed in court. She prosecuted him in what she described as the only federal death penalty case in Idaho history.

“His crimes were all publicly acknowledged and reviewed by a judge or jury,″ Whelan said Tuesday from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. “He was held accountable.”

Duncan, 58, died Sunday at a hospital in Indiana near the United States Penitentiary, Terre Haute, where he was on death row. The native of Tacoma, Washington, had recently been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.

He had been implicated as a possible suspect in several crimes that occurred between 1994 and 1997, when he was on parole, and between 2000 and 2005, when he was out of prison. Duncan was cleared as a suspect in some cases, but authorities in California and Washington believed Duncan had committed unsolved murders in their jurisdictions.

Duncan was a registered sex offender, telling a therapist that he estimated he had raped 13 younger boys by the time he was 16. He spent much of his life in prison.

Duncan’s most violent string of crimes occurred in May 2005, when he was driving across the Idaho Panhandle on Interstate 90 and spotted two children playing in their swimsuits in the yard of a home next to the freeway. He pulled off the road and started surveillance of the home.

Using night-vision goggles, he broke in and tied up Brenda Groene, 40; her boyfriend, Mark McKenzie, 37; and her son, Slade Groene, 13. Then he beat them to death with a hammer. Two of Brenda Groene’s other children, 9-year-old Dylan and 8-year-old Shasta, were missing when authorities got to the house.

Duncan had taken the children into the wilds of western Montana, where he tortured and abused them for weeks before killing Dylan.

In the early morning hours of July 2, 2005, Shasta Groene was recognized by employees and customers inside a Denny’s restaurant in Coeur d’Alene. She was with a man.

Employees called police and positioned themselves to prevent the man from leaving. Police arrived with their lights off, drew their weapons and entered the restaurant. Duncan was arrested without incident.

Two days later, investigators found human remains at a remote makeshift campsite in the Lolo National Forest near St. Regis, Montana. They were identified as those of Dylan Groene. During the trial, it was revealed that Duncan shot the boy at point-blank range by holding a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun to his head.

Duncan maintained in court that he took Shasta to the restaurant, located a few miles from where he killed her family, with the intent of returning her to authorities. He was convicted and sentenced to death in 2008.

Shasta Groene, now in her mid-20s, issued a written statement following Duncan’s death.

“For so long I have been struggling with hate towards that man. Today, I woke up feeling like my soul was finally free,” the statement said. “I hope other people affected by Joseph Duncan were able to wake up feeling the same way.”

The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office in Idaho, which conducted the investigation, also released a statement.

“In May of 2005, the Groene Family of Kootenai County, living in the Wolf Lodge Bay area, was brutally victimized by a serial killer passing through our community. The family was stalked, attacked and tortured,” the statement said. “It was one of the worst tragedies Idaho has ever seen.”

Following his conviction, Duncan was extradited to Southern California to be tried for the death of 10-year-old Anthony Martinez of Riverside County in 1997. Duncan pleaded guilty and received a life sentence.

“The sun is brighter today, and my soul is lighter,” Anthony’s mother, Diana, said in a statement this week.

Duncan also admitted to the murders of 11-year-old Sammie Jo White and her 9-year-old half-sister, Carmen Cubias, who vanished after leaving a Seattle motel on July 6, 1996. Their skeletal remains were found on Feb. 10, 1998, in Bothell, Washington. Duncan confessed to beating the two girls to death but was not prosecuted because he was already facing multiple death penalties.

From the time he was taken into custody in 2005, Duncan confessed to all of his crimes and repeatedly sought to plead guilty, according to court records. Against his wishes, Duncan’s lawyers pursued numerous appeals right up until his death.

Whelan, the assistant U.S. attorney in Idaho, said the case weighed heavily on everyone involved, including lawyers, officers, jurors, victims and the community.

“A serial child murderer presents difficulties for everyone,” she said. “There is a human aspect of wanting to protect people, and you can’t protect them.”

Whelan said there is no question that Duncan deserved the death penalty, but there is no disappointment that he died of cancer.

“He is no longer here,” she said.

Crime & Safety Local News

Paterson spends $61,000 to buy tree stump grinder

Municipal officials approved the purchase of a machine to grind tree stumps for $61,601, according to public records.

Woodland Park-based Northeastern Arborist Supply will deliver the stump grinder Model SG-75. The machine will be used to grind stumps after public works worker cut down trees.

Previously, public works lacked a tree stump grinder or remover. They rented a machine to remove half-dozen tree stumps that were left behind after dead trees were cut down from the Lucas Park last year.

Municipal officials approved the contract to purchase the machine on March 23.

Covid-19 State News

N.J. reports 61 COVID deaths, 4,378 cases, hospitalizations rise again. ‘We’re at a pretty critical moment,’ Gov. Murphy says.

New Jersey on Tuesday reported another 4,378 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 61 additional confirmed deaths, while COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state continued to rise and slightly more than 1 in 5 adults have now been fully vaccinated in the state.

The Garden State has one of the the highest new infection rates as numerous states across the U.S. are seeing upticks in daily positive tests, even as vaccine rollout continues. New York and Connecticut are witnessing similar increases.

This marks the second time in five days New Jersey have reported more than 4,000 cases in one day. The state’s seven-day average for newly confirmed cases is 3,783, up 11.6% from a week ago and 31.2% from a month ago.

“We’re at a pretty critical moment,” Gov. Phil Murphy said during a television interview Tuesday afternoon with News 12 at the Prudential Center in Newark. “There’s good news and bad news. I continue to think the good news outweighs the bad. But the bad news is real.”
President Joe Biden on Monday urged Americans to continue to be cautious about the pandemic and called on states to pause reopenings, saying “our work is far from over.“ Earlier in the day, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said she has a feeling of “impending doom” as cases grow again in the country.
New Jersey officials said this week there are a number of reasons why cases have been rising lately: There are multiple COVID-19 variants spreading, there is pandemic fatigue, the weather is only now getting warmer, the state has the densest population in the nation, and it’s located next to New York City.
“It’s a race between these vaccines and the variants,” Murphy said Tuesday.
But the governor stressed the weather is improving and vaccinations are increasing.
“I still think by Memorial Day we’re in a whole different ballgame,” he added.
Tuesday marks the first time in six days New Jersey has reported more than 30 COVID-19 deaths in one day, though some deaths often happen weeks or months earlier and were just confirmed. There have now been 1,083 coronavirus deaths reported in March, compared to 2,377 in January and 1,589 in February.

There were 2,329 coronavirus patients across the state’s hospitals as of Monday night — the most since Feb. 15. After falling below 2,000 late last month, hospitalizations have been slowly creeping up the last two weeks.

The state’s rate of transmission fell to 1.09 after five days at 1.10. Any number over 1 indicates that the outbreak is growing, with each new case leading to at least one other case.

The latest statewide positivity rate was 10.38% on Friday, the day with the latest data, on 52,737 tests.
New Jersey health facilities and vaccine centers have now administered slightly more than 4.11 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine since the state’s first shot was given Dec. 15. That includes about 2.67 million people with at least one dose and 1.5 million people considered fully vaccinated, according to state data.

The state’s goal is to vaccinate 70% of its eligible adults — about 4.7 million people — by the end of May. So far, about 22% of the state’s 6.9 million adults have been fully vaccinated.

In all, New Jersey has now reported 796,700 coronavirus cases out of more than 12 million PCR tests in the year since the state reported its first case on March 4, 2020. There have also been 108,444 positive antigen tests, including 1,071 reported Tuesday. Those cases are considered probable, and health officials have warned that positive antigen tests could overlap with the confirmed PCR tests because they are sometimes given in tandem.

The state of 9.2 million people has reported 24,486 residents have died from complications related to COVID-19 — 21,951 confirmed deaths and 2,535 fatalities considered probable.
The state has reported 574 COVID-19 “variants of concern,” as defined by the federal Centers for Disease Control. The majority are of the U.K. variant.
Despite the recent case upticks, the state is set to increase its outdoor gathering limit to 200 people as of 6 a.m. Friday. The indoor gathering limit will remain 25 people. In addition, venues that can seat 2,500 people will be permitted to increase indoor seating capacity to 20%, up from 10%, and outdoor capacity to 30%, up from 15%.
Murphy was asked Monday why he won’t lift restrictions more quickly because hospitalizations aren’t rising as much as cases.

“I think we’re gonna continue to be incremental,” the governor said. “We’re comfortable with that. We want to open, there’s no question about that, but we want to make sure it’s a one-way street and we don’t go back. With the variants in our state and the level of transmission right now, which is about as high as it is anywhere in the country, we are in the better-to-be-safe-than-sorry category.”

Meanwhile, officials say vaccine demand continues to outpace supply from the federal government, causing a backlog of people trying to get appointments. But officials say doses are expected to increase significantly in the coming days.
“I’m confident we get through the next number of weeks, it’s gonna be in a dramatically different place,” Murphy said Tuesday.
This past Monday, another round of people became eligible to receive the vaccine in the state — including restaurant employees, warehouse workers, hospitality workers, clergy, and more.

This coming Monday, people ages 55 to 64, those 16 and older with intellectual or developmental disabilities, higher education teachers and staffers, communication support workers, sanitation workers, and members of the media will become eligible.

Murphy repeated Tuesday that every adult in the state will be eligible by May 1 — five weeks from now.


There were 2,329 patients hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases across New Jersey’s 71 hospitals as of Monday night — 104 more than the previous night.
That included 452 in critical or intensive care (39 fewer than the night before), with 239 on ventilators (one fewer).
There were also 185 COVID-19 patients discharged Monday.
Hospitalizations peaked at more than 8,300 patients during the first wave of the pandemic in April and more than 3,800 during the second wave in December.
New Jersey has reported 205 in-school coronavirus outbreaks, which have resulted in 947 cases among students, teachers and school staff this academic year, according to the state’s dashboard.
The state defines school outbreaks as cases where contact tracers determined two or more students or school staff caught or transmitted COVID-19 in the classroom or during academic activities at school. Those numbers do not include students or staff believed to have been infected outside school or cases that can’t be confirmed as in-school outbreaks.
There are about 1.4 million public school students and teachers across the state, though teaching methods amid the outbreak have varied, with some schools teaching in-person, some using a hybrid format and others remaining all-remote.

Murphy last week announced most New Jersey schools can move classroom desks three feet apart, instead of six feet, under new social distancing guidelines.

The governor also said the state’s schools will return to full in-person classes for the next school year and districts will not be allowed to offer virtual learning, even for parents who want that option due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns.
Broken down by age, those 30 to 49 years old make up the largest percentage of New Jersey residents who have caught the virus (30.9%), followed by those 50-64 (23%), 18-29 (19.7%), 65-79 (10.7%), 5-17 (8.9%), 80 and older (4.8%) and 0-4 (1.8%).
On average, the virus has been more deadly for older residents, especially those with preexisting conditions. Nearly half the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been among residents 80 and older (47.07%), followed by those 65-79 (32.79%), 50-64 (15.68%), 30-49 (4.05%), 18-29 (0.37%), 5-17 (0%) and 0-4 (0.02%).
At least 7,980 of the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been among residents and staff members at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
There are active outbreaks at 232 facilities, resulting in 3,792 active cases among residents and 4,546 among staffers. Those numbers have been slowing as vaccinations continue at the facilities.


As of early Monday afternoon, there have been more than 127.86 million positive COVID-19 tests across the world, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. More than 2.79 million people have died from coronavirus-related complications.

The U.S. has reported the most cases, at more than 30.34 million, and the most deaths, at more than 550,100.
Crime & Safety State News

Middlesex County Man Admits Interfering with Law Enforcement Officers During Civil Disorder

TRENTON, N.J. – A Middlesex County, New Jersey, man today admitted attempting to interfere with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder when he attempted to set fire to a police vehicle during a riot in Trenton, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Justin D. Spry, 22, of South Plainfield, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti to an information charging him with one count of attempting to obstruct, impede, or interfere with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder affecting commerce.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

On May 31, 2020, large-scale protests were held throughout the United States, including in Trenton, in response to the death of George Floyd. Although the May 31st protest in Trenton was peaceful earlier in the day, violence erupted later. A group of individuals proceeded down East State Street in downtown Trenton and began to riot, smashing store fronts, looting stores, and attacking multiple marked Trenton Police Department vehicles parked on the 100 Block of East State Street.

A City of Trenton street camera and other video footage taken by an individual present on the street captured Kadeem Dockery light an explosive device and throw it through the open front driver’s side window of a Trenton Police Department vehicle. Dockery then removed his shirt and handed it to Killian Melecio, who then attempted to stuff the shirt in the gas tank of the police vehicle and ignite it. Melecio was then assisted by Spry in attempting to set fire to the police vehicle. Law enforcement officers on scene arrested Spry, but Melecio and Dockery fled. Law enforcement later identified Melecio and Dockery through analysis of street camera and other video footage. They were arrested on Aug. 5, 2020.

Melecio pleaded guilty on Jan. 26, 2021, to one count of attempting to obstruct, impede, or interfere with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder affecting commerce.

The charge of attempting to interfere with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder to which Spry and Melecio have pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Sentencing for Spry is scheduled for Aug. 3, 2021.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI and task force officers of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Newark, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr., with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. She also thanked officers of the Trenton Police Department, under the direction of Police Director Sheilah Coley; troopers of the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan; and officers of the New Jersey Department of Corrections, under the direction of Commissioner Marcus O. Hicks, for their assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexander E. Ramey and Michelle S. Gasparian of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.

The charges and allegations remaining against Kadeem Dockery are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Crime & Safety U. S. News

Man arrested after 12-year-old Florida boy abducted, raped, shot in face

MIAMI — Police have arrested a man for abducting and sexually assaulting a young boy before shooting him in Miami-Dade County.

Aliex Santiesteban, 43, is now in custody. He faces charges of sexual battery with a deadly weapon/serious injury, kidnapping a child under 13 and attempted murder.

Detectives said it happened Saturday morning between 2 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. along NW 43rd Terrace and NW 30th Avenue. The boy was reportedly walking back home from a friend’s house after sneaking out of his home earlier in the night.

Police said a man approached the child and forced him inside a black, 4-door sedan. After driving to NW45th Street and NW 31st Avenue, police said the man sexually assaulted the boy and shot him. The man then forced the boy out of the car.

Another man says he found the young boy wandering alone and crying following the incident. He then escorted the boy to a nearby market to get help.

The boy is in the hospital in critical condition, police say.


Devils in the Details – 3/30/20: Pavel Zacha Can’t Be Stopped! Edition

Here are your links for today:

Devils Links

How satisfied are fans with the Devils right now? When will the team be a contender again? That and plenty more from a survey of fans: [The Athletic ($)]

Former Devil Mike Rupp on goalies, including his thoughts on Marty Brodeur, Marc-Andre Fleury and Henrik Lundqvist: [The Athletic ($)]

He can’t be stopped! I’m not going to say we’re being trolled by these simulations, but the Devils won both games this weekend, and virtual Pavel “Wayne Gretzky” Zacha potted two goals in both of them. He … apparently has had four straight games with two goals? [NHL]

Hockey Links

An idea being floated for the NBA. Might this be how the NHL season resumes?

A second Avalanche player has tested positive for COVID-19: [TSN]

Remember the reports that the league was investigating the Coyotes illegally fitness testing draft-eligible players? With the draft combine canceled, this would give the Coyotes a bit of an advantage in drafting. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that as many as 80 players were allegedly tested and that league GMs are “very concerned” about this getting resolved. [TSN]

Feel free to discuss these and any other hockey-related stories in the comments below.


Devils lose 5-4 in the shootout as mistakes loom large

As happy as I was with the first two periods of the hockey game is also just as disgusted I was with the 3rd period of this game.

I know we forgot about it given the amazing circumstances and heroics of Mackenzie Blackwood in the previous affair, but the coaching staff should have taken a hard look at the previous game, and realized the team was getting blitzed in the final period. Even with the 1-0 win and potential save of the year candidate, surely the coaching staff wouldn’t look at the game and do… nothing right?

Lindy Ruff, this is what typically happens when you let the other team take complete control of the final period. You fooled the Bruins once, but come on! Shame on you for thinking that Blackwood could carry the team again. While you may be yelling at the players in the locker room as a result of their transgressions, the writing is on the wall. This loss wasn’t only on the players – as the leader of this sinking ship, the loss is on you, Lindy Ruff. So have all the other losses, where the Devils have continuously failed to comfortably close a game.

Mark Recchi, I’ll gladly take some of what you’re having. If it means that I can be blind to my mistakes and blaming my failures on “the loss of Nico Hischier”, I’ll actually of a lot of what you’re having. Your power play is awful. The breakout passes suck, your personnel choices suck, and you’ve constantly struggled to make the necessary adjustments that help the team win. Also, why is Kyle Palmieri perched in front of the net? What in the world?

“But Devin, this team is rebuilding anyway, you should stop being angry and focus on the future!” Of course I’m excited about the future, despite my pessimistic outlook. However, I do think that a rebuilding team with effective coaching would help the Devils grow even more than this shambolic personnel group. This is probably emotional Devin talking, but enough time has passed in the Ruff and Recchi eras where I’d be extremely content with seeing both out of the door. Even with this recent “hot” streak (which really isn’t hot by a normal NHL team’s standard), we’ve seen the Devils nearly give away the previous Boston game, nearly surrender a 3 goal lead to a bad Flyers team, and get decimated by the Capitals in the 3rd period of basically all of their recent games. Even in this good stretch of games, the signs have always been there. This was just the first time it really went to hurt the team.

With my rant done, let’s focus on the happy things. The Devils opened the game really well! For forty minutes the team was getting the better of the Bruins chance-wise, as they performed well. Just over a minute into the game, PK Subban was able to get a turnover in the Bruins zone and found Miles Wood in front. Wood controlled the puck and immediately shot it at Halak, beating him clearly and giving the Devils the early lead.

After this, Blackwood made a big oopsie, as a harmless Nick Ritchie shot bounced off of Blackwood’s glove and into the net, immediately tying the game.
The shift after this goal, Bergeron was unlucky as his shot hit the post, before Blackwood then did a good job of stopping Charlie McAvoy.

The Devils fourth line and Michael McLeod then took advantage of a deflected pass, as he found a puck on the side and drove Halak. He made a great deke, slotting a backhand by Halak.

The rest of the period saw the Bruins show a weak defensive presence, as they were pressing too much. A myriad of nice Devils chances were then found, including chances for Palmieri, Wood and Boqvist, With that, the Devils finished the first period up 2-1.

The second period started with the Devils allowing a goal, though upon review it was clearly goaltender interference on David Krejci. With this, the Devils took advantage of this scare, as Jesper Bratt took a shot from the point which Zajac tipped in past Halak. It was goal number 200 for Zajac – congratulations to Zajac for that!

After this, a scrum in the front occurred, where Marchand ended up bullying Ty Smith in the front of the net, which led to the Rat getting called for roughing. The Devils power play had NOTHING, which set the tone for the game. As such, I will mention them for the rest of the recap but highlight none of it, because that’s basically what happened the whole game. For all of them.

After this, Brad Marchand charged Dmitry Kulikov, which surprise! He wasn’t called for (He LITERALLY jumped off his skates ref). To everyone’s surprise, Jesper Bratt was the one who responded, as he (kind of) dropped the gloves against Marchand, only to be disrespected with a roughing call.

The proceeding four-on-four unfortunately saw PK Subban called for slashing David Krejci, leading to a Boston power-play, which saw a Pastrnak shot clang off the post. The Bruins wouldn’t leave this opportunity for naught though, as Brad Marchand of all people was able to take advantage of a tired Devils penalty kill and rip a shot past Blackwood.

With the momentum Boston’s way, Kyle Palmieri found a way to take advantage of a really, and I mean REALLY bad pass on Jeremy Lauzon’s part. He intercepted the puck immediately off the faceoff and cleanly beat Halak with a wrist shot, to restore the two goal lead.
With that, the period ended with the Devils up two goals! Unfortunately, this would begin the downfall of my sanity.

The Devils opened up the 3rd by immediately giving the puck away, forcing Blackwood to stop Coyle in front. The Bruins played physical, and the referees were willing to let them get away with it, as the Devils had no response for the tomfoolery.

Halfway through the 3rd, the Bruins were able to sustain some offense from Craig Smith, who sent a shot towards Blackwood. Blackwood made the stop, but the rebound was a bit too juicy as it found McAvoy on the flank. He was able to deposit a one-timer past Blackwood, and the score was now 4-3.

Severson was then called for high-sticking and killed it, but were immediately heartbroken as a Matt Grzelcyk shot found its way past Blackwood.
The last minutes of the period saw the Devils continuously rescued by Mackenzie Blackwood, as he stopped a multitude of high-octane Bruin chances in the slots. As Ken Daneyko said it best, the Devils were lucky to even escape the rest of the 3rd and head into an overtime period.

The overtime period saw no chances for the Devils, even with a 4-on-3 power play for the team after a Severson breakaway saw him hooked. The overtime period ended, and the game headed to a shootout, where the Devils lost as a result of Blackwood falling for the same move twice and pretty bad shots from Zacha and Palmieri.

Quick Thoughts:

My rant aside in the beginning, there was a lot of promise from the Devils players in the beginning periods. Miles Wood is very valuable for this team – if he had a better shot, WOW could he be good. He had many chances which he created with his speed and energy, and was able to deposit at least one of them.

Bratt’s hands are on a different level than other players on the teams. His elusiveness confuses defenders a lot on even strength, which confuses me as to why he isn’t the primary puck-handler on the power play. The Hughes and Subban experiment has shown many cracks recently, so a chance could be in order. The Bratt and Kuokkanen switch didn’t have the effects that I would have liked, but it’s clear that Bratt has a lot of talent on this team.

Jack Hughes is searching hard for points, with his frustration starting to show. He’s still extremely young, at only 19 years old, so his time will come. At his age, it’s normal for the struggles to occur, and it’s very good to be patient with him.

Andreas Johnsson does nothing.

Resign Zajac. He’s a veteran presence on the team that has really stepped up his game for the Devils, and made his teammates better. Without him, Kuokkanen wasn’t successful at all. Reunite Kuokkanen with Sharangovich and Zajac immediately. Also, he was willing to crush Zach Senyshyn for daring to try to drive the net, which the rest of the defense should take notes on.

Where would we be without Mackenzie Blackwood?

Crime & Safety Local News

Paterson will be ready to reopen in-person schooling on May 3, says superintendent

After being closed for more than a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Paterson school district will be fully prepared to reopen in-person learning for its nearly 30,000 students on May 3, said superintendent Eileen Shafer on Monday afternoon.

Shafer said there will be “layers of protection” to minimize the spread of the virus inside the district’s more than 50 school buildings. Students and staff will be required to wear masks and observe six feet social distancing rule. Students will receive tri-fold partitions for desks in classrooms. Windows will be kept open when classes are in session and offices are occupied. Hand sanitizer dispensers will be installed in every classroom, building entrance, and outside bathrooms.

Other so-called layers include:

  • Every classroom will be equipped with an Active Pure ionic air purifier for “continuous surface decontamination and air purification in real-time, using superoxide molecules and hydro-peroxides that destroy contaminants on surfaces and in the air.” The device is proven to eliminate common airborne and surface contaminants including viruses like the SAR-CoV-2 Coronavirus, swine flu and bacteria, mold, fungi, volatile organic compounds, smoke, allergens, and odors, according to the district.
  • MERV-11 air filters will be installed in HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) units “wherever possible.”
  • Air Scrubbers will be used in classrooms and offices that do not have windows for air circulation. They have HEPA filters.
  • Teachers will be provided disinfectant spray for personal use.

“With the several layers of protection in place, I am confident everything will be in order for our school buildings to reopen on May 3rd. Our Facilities Department and Security Department staff have been working to ensure all schools are ready to open,” said Shafer.

But the teachers’ union has raised concerns about safety inside the buildings.

John McEntee, Jr., president of the Paterson Education Association, the teachers’ union, wants the district to let his team conduct “safety inspections” in advance of re-opening the schools. He has more than 200 union delegates trained and prepared to inspect the schools to ensure they have the needed equipment and ventilation to ensure students and staff do not get sick after they return for in-person schooling.

“Windows are not opening. The buildings are a mess,” said McEntee. “Look, if the schools are ready and the school buildings are in pristine condition and they have all the things that they have advertised to ameliorate the spread of the virus, the association wouldn’t necessarily be opposed.”

McEntee said union officials were ready to begin inspections last week.

Shafer said union officials will be allowed to conduct safety inspections on April 21 and 22. But the union wants access earlier.

“If we could do walkthroughs sooner, we would. If we were ready today, we would open schools for in-person instruction and not wait until May 3rd,” said Shafer.

McEntee said conducting the inspections this late will leave little time for the district to adequately address defects uncovered during the walk throughs.

“That leaves at least ten days,” said school board president Kenneth Simmons. He said Neil Mapp, facilities director, informed him that’s plenty of time to correct issues. “It’s enough time for them to address it.”

Shafer has also launched an effort to vaccinate teachers and staff members before re-opening for in-person classes. Simmons said approximately 2,000 staff have been inoculated against Covid-19. That’s half of the district’s employees.

McEntee pointed out Shafer had initially said the district would decide whether to re-open in-person schooling in mid-April, but moved the decision date to March 31.

Simmons said the decision to re-open schools is also being driven by state exams. He said parents can still opt-in for remote learning. He said a survey that was conducted shows half of parents want their children back in school while the other half prefer remote learning.

“It’s literally split, 50-50,” said Simmons.

Simmons said he did not want to wait until September to begin the process to reopen schools for in-person learning. Governor Phil Murphy has said he does not want remote learning options in September.

“It’s kind of like a soft opening to see what works and what doesn’t work. I don’t think people are going to get used to the new norm until they actually have to begin practicing them,” said Simmons.

School board members will discuss re-opening in-person schooling on Wednesday. Simmons said a previously approved resolution gives the superintendent the authority to reopen the schools.

Crime & Safety U. S. News

Man arrested after 12-year-old Florida boy abducted, raped, shot in face

A former DC Public Schools teacher faces a sex abuse charge after authorities say he had a sexual relationship with a student between 2014 and 2016.

Mark Walker, 39, of DC, was arrested and charged Thursday after he “engaged in a sexual act with [a] child and caused that child to engage in a sexual act.” The charging documents described the act as penetration.

The affidavit details the claims by the complainant, identified as S.C., who was 15 in 2015 when the sexual contact started. At the time, Walker was 33-years-old and a visual arts teacher.

Walker started walking S.C. home from school and sending her letters while she took part in his after-school program. The victim and other students would do homework and watch movies at Walker’s house, which ended with the teacher dropping students off at their homes. On one occasion, Walker kissed the complainant when he dropped her off.

He also invited her over to his home, “and on one occasion attempted to have sexual intercourse with” her, the affidavit said. The documents said S.C. told Walker she was a virgin and didn’t want to have sex with him; the complainant told authorities Walker still “attempted to penetrate the complainant, which frightened [her] and made [her] cry.”

This particular incident happened in the summer of 2015 or 2016. She described “a wave of emotions” that came over her, ending with her asking “why he would penetrate her despite explicitly telling him she did not want that to happen.”

S.C. told investigators their relationship was “romantic,” with Walker buying her gifts and giving special attention. Classmates started to notice the actions, and S.C. confided in multiple friends about the relationship. One friend, Witness 1 in the affidavit, filed the initial complaint with the DC Child and Family Services Agency, describing Walker’s behavior as “grooming.” That filing prompted the investigation.

Witness 1 told authorities she also had a sexual relationship with Walker but not while she was his student. She was 17 at the time of the relationship.

Investigators talked to other witnesses who claimed to know about Walker having relationships with students; one witness told authorities another student, referred to as Witness 5, had a relationship with Walker.

DC Public Schools told ABC7 Walker used to work at Duke Ellington School of the Arts. A letter that went out to their community is attached below.