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Gov. Murphy stops controversial Newark power plant vote

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Gov. Phil Murphy stopped a commission from voting on a controversial power plant proposal in Newark on Thursday, saying it needed a more thorough review after opponents said it went against his clean energy goals and environmental justice initiatives to develop fewer polluting facilities in communities of color.

Murphy’s move comes less than an hour before the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission was to vote on a key contract to build a $180 million backup generating plant for its massive sewage treatment facility along the Passaic River.

“While the proposed backup generation put forth by the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission is meant to provide a critical climate resilience solution, it is imperative that the project adheres to the Administration’s core values on environmental justice,”  Alexandra Altman, a Murphy spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Map of where Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission is proposing to build a power plant along the Passaic River in Newark.

The commission has said the plant is needed as a backup during emergencies such as when its treatment plant lost all power for three days during Superstorm Sandy in 2012, which caused 840 million gallons of raw sewage to pour into Newark Bay and surrounding waterways. 

Opponents said the plant will pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and exacerbate the intensity and frequency of storms like Sandy by slowly warming the planet. It would also release other pollutants that would add to the poor air quality and high asthma rates in the area that is surrounded by highways, industrial facilities and the Port of Newark.





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Maplewood NJ teacher in hijab case won’t face charges: prosecutor

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A second-grade teacher accused of pulling a hijab from the head of a student in the South Orange-Maplewood School District will not face criminal charges, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office announced Wednesday.

The agency said it investigated the alleged bias incident at Seth Boyden Elementary School on Oct. 6 and declined to charge the teacher, Tamar Herman.

“Following a full investigation and a thorough review of all the available evidence and the applicable law, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office has concluded that there is insufficient evidence to sustain a criminal prosecution in this case,” the office said in a brief, two-paragraph statement. 

“While we understand that many may find the incident troubling, as prosecutors we have a legal and moral obligation to only bring charges in cases where we believe we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime has been committed. For those reasons, we will not move forward with this case.”

Seth Boyden Elementary School in Maplewood on Wednesday, October 13, 2021.

The teacher allegedly told the Muslim student that her hair was “beautiful” and she didn’t need to cover it at school and then began pulling the hijab from the girl’s head. 

Herman has said the incident was a misunderstanding. She said she asked the student to raise the hood of her sweatshirt because it was covering her eyes and she brushed up the front of the hood. The child, she said, was not wearing her usual hijab underneath. The teacher’s lawyer didn’t immediately respond on Wednesday to a request for comment. 





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Phil Murphy mandates COVID booster for NJ health care workers

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All New Jersey health care workers will need to be fully vaccinated against  COVID-19 and receive booster shots or face termination, under an order Gov. Phil Murphy said he plans to sign Wednesday. 

The order also covers all workers in congregate settings, such as nursing homes or prisons. 

Regular testing for unvaccinated workers is no longer an option under the order. Exemptions can be made for those with medical conditions or “deeply-held” religious beliefs, Murphy said. 

“We are no longer going to look past those who put their colleagues and perhaps, more importantly, those who are their responsibility in danger of COVID,” Murphy said Wednesday. “That has to stop.”

Although 88% of nursing home and other long-term care facility staff are fully vaccinated, only 43% have gotten a booster shot as of last week, according to the latest state statistics.





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NJ native qualifies for US Olympic Trials

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Morris County resident Roberta Groner has qualified for another U.S. Olympic Trials.

The 44-year-old, full-time nurse from Roxbury finished among the top four women in Sunday’s Houston Marathon, clocking a 2:32:02 finishing time in a race that proved to be a historic day for American female distance runners. In Houston, two runners — Keira D’Amato, 37, and Sara Hall, 38 — broke the American women’s records for the marathon and half-marathon.

“It’s amazing seeing women rise. They’re also mothers and in their late 30s out there doing this and showing that age is just a number, and if you put your heart and soul into something, you could make it happen,” Groner said in an interview Tuesday evening. “It’s very inspiring and exciting to be there with them.”





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