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Opinion: People are leaving New Jersey, and it’s not hard to know why

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file photo by Boyd Loving


Assemblymen Kevin J. Rooney and Christopher P. DePhillips represent parts of Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic counties in the 40th Legislative District.

Wyckoff NJ, New Jersey has ranked as the highest outbound state since 2012.  In other words, our state had the highest percentage of people moving out versus moving in compared to the other 49 states.

Even as the economy is doing better nationally, our state is lagging behind – and people are taking notice.

An annual survey by a national moving company, which recently released its 42nd report, found that twice as many people left our state than came last year.  The embarrassing streak should be a cause for concern, because the people who are leaving can afford to, and the people who are staying are paying the price.

Continue reading Opinion: People are leaving New Jersey, and it’s not hard to know why
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Garfield Man Charged for Shooting Burglar

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Garfield NJ, Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Dennis Calo announced the arrest of OMAR SMADIYA (DOB: 11/16/1981; married; self-employed/moving company) of 25 Farnham Avenue, 2nd Floor, Garfield, NJ on charges of Attempted Murder, Possession Of A Weapon For An Unlawful Purpose, and Possession Of A High Capacity Magazine; and CHRISTOPHER MANON-VELEZ (DOB: 7/16/1999; single; unemployed) of 153 Grove Street, 1st Floor, Passaic, NJ on a charge of Burglary To A Motor Vehicle. The arrests are the result of an investigation conducted by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office under the direction of Chief Robert Anzilotti and the Garfield Police Department under the direction of Chief Raymond Kovach.

On Tuesday, January 8, 2019, at approximately 3:26 a.m., the Garfield Police Department received information that a victim was shot in the area of 25 Farnham Avenue, Garfield, NJ. The victim, Christopher MANON-VELEZ, was found at a local restaurant and transported to an area hospital with a gunshot wound to the back. An investigation revealed that MANON-VELEZ had burglarized several vehicles in the area just prior to the shooting. Omar SMADIYA, the owner of one of the vehicles, armed himself with a handgun and confronted MANON-VELEZ outside SMADIYA’S vehicle. MANON-VELEZ fled, and SMADIYA shot at him striking him once in the back. MANON-VELEZ was treated for internal injuries and is in stable condition at this time.

As a result of the investigation, Omar SMADIYA was arrested on January 8, 2019, in Garfield, NJ, and charged with one count of Attempted Murder, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1a(1)/2C:11-3a(1), a 1st degree crime; one count of Possession Of A Weapon For An Unlawful Purpose, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a(1), a 2nd degree crime; and one count of Possession Of A High Capacity Magazine, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3j, a 4th degree crime.  Omar SMADIYA is scheduled for a first appearance in Central Judicial Processing Court in Hackensack, NJ on January 11, 2019, at 9:00 a.m.

Christopher MANON-VELEZ was arrested on January 8, 2019, and charged with one count of Burglary To A Motor Vehicle, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2a(1), a 3rd degree crime.  MANON-VELEZ was served with a summons and released pending an appearance in Central Judicial Processing Court in Hackensack, NJ on January 28, 2019, at 9:00 a.m.           

Acting Prosecutor Calo states that the charges are merely accusations and that the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and would also like to thank the Garfield Police Department and the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance in this investigation.

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DEP’s Proposed Water Rule Means More Dirty Water

photo at Apple Ridge by Derek Michalski

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Upper Saddle River NJ, The Department of Environmental Protection NJ Department of Environmental Protection is proposing amendments, repeals, and new rules to the Stormwater Management rules, N.J.A.C. 7:8. This is the first rule under the DEP have proposed under the Murphy Administration.  A public hearing on the proposal is today, Tuesday January 8, 2019 at 1:00 pm at the Department of Environmental Protection. Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club released the following statement:

“DEP’s proposed rule fails to adequately protect New Jersey from flooding and non-point pollution. These rules are a step backwards, they do not deal with climate change, more frequent flooding, combined sewer overflows, and would make it easier to build pipelines. It allows for green infrastructure however it says to the maximum extension practice which is a loophole big enough to fit a bulldozer through.  The biggest problem with this rule is that it continues Christie’s rollbacks on wetlands, flood hazard, and stormwater.

“The rule calls for green infrastructure but keeps the current standards in place that do not work. It also does not effectively monitor the green infrastructure. The rules exempt existing development, they do not require retrofitting of stormwater retention and detention basin systems. It does not require enough recharge or to break up impervious cover to absorb more water. Instead, we should be treating stormwater through natural filtration into sub soils followed by vegetation. The proposed rule does not restore the 300-foot buffers, SWARPA, or calls for revegetating stream buffers or riparian corridors as a way of dealing with non-point pollution.

“DEP’s stormwater rule is seriously flawed and does not change the basic standard. The rule treats impervious cover with automobiles different with other types of impervious cover, which we believe is wrong. It does not deal with compacted soils which in parts of New Jersey are like of impervious cover. The rule also does not include any bonding required for infrastructure in case the system fails, it also does not require maintenance or monitoring.

“The model is based on dealing 100-year storm events that we are having every year. The 100-yr storm model does not work because of climate change and frequency of intense storms, we are also getting a lot more rain. Modelers are looking at 250 year and 500 year storms.  This means if you leave along the Passaic or the Raritan River, you’re going to need snorkels. Instead of moving us forward it keeps the status quo.

“Existing development is exempted from the stormwater rule, which is already the largest source of non-pollution in our state. This means a box store being built on a former shopping center or a high rise in New Brunswick will be exempted. Roofs and sidewalks are also not included under the rules, even though they contribute to extra pollution.

“Combined sewer overflow is a major problem in New Jersey, but the rule does not really address it.  CSOs are a health hazard, especially when concerned with sea level rise. The rule does not require any restrictions on holding back on water on ground or near properties. It also has no language that would clean up nitrogen and phosphorous in our water. Dilapidated storm water systems exacerbate the problem by increasing the water in combined sewers and we need funding to reduce the amount of water in sewers during major storm events. Only 5% of streams in New Jersey meet standards for being fishable, swimmable, and drinkable, mostly because of non-point solution. 65% of our streams are impacted by phosphorus. We have to retrofit urban areas for stormwater management. Things like green roofs, wet gardens can help and prevent combined sewer overflow however these methods are exempted because the rule exempts redevelopment.

“These rules do not reverse Christie’s rollbacks on stormwater, buffers, or wetlands. They still give preference for engineered controls like basins and outfall structures that can cause more erosion. DEP’s new Stormwater Management rule does not replace the nonstructural point system and requires most of BMP. Most of BMPs only work 50% of the time in ultimate situations. They do not work in areas with steep slopes or high groundwater. The rules do not deal with total suspended solids and do not have nutrient limits for nitrogen or phosphorus. They need to have those requirements in order to do TMDL.

“Non- point pollution is the biggest source of water pollution in New Jersey. This rule does not change the basic standard of the amount of water that can be adsorbed into the ground or cleanup of non-point pollution. It still has the same standards that do not work in New Jersey in the last 40 years. That is our largest source of pollution mostly because of runoff. We are seeing Barnegat Bay dying because of non point pollution and runoff. Dissolved oxygen levels are dropping due to high levels of nutrients from stormwater, resulting in algae blooms. We have to address the stormwater management and nonpoint source pollution issues in the Bay otherwise we are going to turn the Barnegat Bay into the state’s largest stormwater detention basin as the Bay continues to die.

“DEP is just taking the broken current system and adding some green amendments. This is really green cover for a rule that will cause more flooding and water pollution. The rule has a few positives but overall does nothing to change the status quo of pointless non-pollution.  It also does not deal or address storm impacts from pipelines or industrial compressor stations. The biggest source of pollution we face is nonpoint pollution and we need to retrofit our stormwater basins to protect our waterways, while revitalizing our waterfront neighborhoods and communities. DEP’s first rule is still a Christie rule that also has nothing to do with climate change, sea level rise, and will add just add more flooding. This rule just create more pointless non-point pollution,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

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DEP First Clean Water Rule Doesn’t Make Our Water Cleaner

photo courtesy of Derek Michalski

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Upper Saddle River NJ, The Department of Environmental Protection NJ Department of Environmental Protection is proposing amendments, repeals, and new rules to the Stormwater Management rules, N.J.A.C. 7:8. This is the first rule under the DEP have proposed under the Murphy Administration.  A public hearing on the proposal will be Tuesday January 8, 2019 at 1:00 pm at the Department of Environmental Protection

“New Jersey has serious problems with flooding and water quality from runoff. DEP’s new rule is a step backwards and not forward when it comes to dealing with stormwater. It does not deal with climate change, flooding, combined sewer overflows, and would make it easier to build pipelines. The new the rule has too many exemptions and furthers Christie’s rollbacks on protections to our waterways. It allows for green infrastructure which is good however it says to the maximum extension practice which is a loophole big enough to fit a bulldozer through,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We have waited almost a year for a new Murphy DEP rule to be proposed. The rule is not only a disappointment, but we have to actually oppose it. This rule was worked by the Christie Administration and proposed by Murphy Administration went forward with this anyway.”

The DEP is proposing to replace the current requirement that major developments incorporate nonstructural stormwater management strategies to the “maximum extent practicable” to meet groundwater recharge standards, stormwater runoff quantity standards, and stormwater runoff quality standards, with a requirement that green infrastructure be utilized to meet these same standards.

“The rule has major flaws in it. The model is based on dealing 100-year storm events that we are having every year. It doesn’t really change the flood system. The rule does not look at climate change or the frequency and intensity of storms. This means if you leave along the Passaic or the Raritan River, your going to need snorkels.  Instead of moving us forward it keeps the status quo. It exempts existing development which is already the largest source of non-pollution in our state. Which means a box store being built on a former shopping center or a high rise in New Brunswick will be exempted. Roofs and sidewalks are also not included under the rules, even though they contribute to extra pollution,” said Tittel.  

The NJDEP looks to incorporate green infrastructure to be utilized to meet the same standards groundwater recharge standards, stormwater runoff quantity standards, and stormwater runoff quality standards.

“The rule calls for green infrastructure but keeps the current standards that do not work. It also keeps in place Christie’s rollbacks of the 300 foot buffers, SWARPA, revegetating stream buffers or riparian corridors as a way of dealing with non-point pollution. The amended stormwater rules does nothing to retrofit our stormwater retention and detention basin systems that don’t work that break up impervious cover to absorb more water. This rule is a continuation of Christie’s rollbacks on wetlands, flood hazard, and stormwater that does not protect stream buffers or C1 streams,” said Tittel.  DEP’s proposal for green infrastructure in the new rule is with just an added green veneer.”

New Jersey need at least $14 billion just to fix our combined sewer overflow systems, but overall we need more than $45 billion to fix our water and sewage infrastructure. We’ve been kicking the can down the road for so long that now the road is underwater and the can is clogging a storm drain. The biggest source of pollution we face is nonpoint pollution and we need to retrofit our stormwater basins to protect our waterways, while revitalizing our waterfront neighborhoods and communities.

“The rule does not really deal with address combined sewer overflow. CSOs are a health hazard, especially when concerned with sea level rise. The rule does not require any restrictions on holding back on water on ground or near properties. It also has no language that would clean up nitrogen and phosphorous in our water. Dilapidated storm water systems exacerbate the problem by increasing the water in combined sewers and we need funding to reduce the amount of water in sewers during major storm events. Only 5% of streams in New Jersey meet standards for being fishable, swimable, and drinkable, mostly because of non-point solution. 65% of our streams are impacted by phosphorus,” said Tittel. “We have to retrofit urban areas for stormwater management. Things like green roofs, wet gardens can help and prevent combined sewer overflow however these methods are exempted because the rule exempts redevelopment.”

Over ten percent of the land in New Jersey is impervious surface, making us prone to flooding and pollution problems. The Christie Administration has weakened our coastal areas to more flooding and pollution. Their Flood Hazard rules add more development to environmentally sensitive areas, getting rid of stream buffers, and eliminating protections for headwaters. Then in a one-two punch for water quality, the Administration increased sewer hook-ups in the Water Quality Management Planning rules, which will have a major impact to open space and nearby reservoirs and streams throughout the state. This will especially impact the most environmentally sensitive areas of the Highlands and Pinelands that contain the water supply for millions of people.

“This stormwater rule codifies and will further Christie’s rollbacks. DEP still have not reversed rollbacks on the wetlands and stormwater rules from the Christie Administration but still allows for outfall structure called scours, causing more erosion. DEP’s new Stormwater Management rule does not replace the nonstructural point system and requires most of BMP. Most of BMPs only work 50% of the time in ultimate situations. They do not work in areas with steep slopes or high groundwater. The green infrastructure standards also only deal with total suspended solids, not other pollutants that come off of stormwater runoff like nitrogen or phosphorous,” said Tittel.

The Barnegat Bay is turning into New Jersey’s largest stormwater detention basin and its whole ecology is changing. DEP must control development and sprawl near the bay and prevent massive projects like development in Lakewood that will add more pollution to the Bay.

“This rule does not change the basic standard of the amount of water that can be adsorbed into the ground or clean up of non-point pollution. It still has the same standards that do not work in New Jersey in the last 40 years. New Jersey has serious water problems because of non point pollution. That is our largest source of pollution mostly because of runoff. We are seeing Barnegat Bay dying because of non point pollution and runoff. Dissolved oxygen levels are dropping due to high levels of nutrients from stormwater, resulting in algae blooms,” said Tittel.  “We have to address the stormwater management and nonpoint source pollution issues in the Bay otherwise we are going to turn the Barnegat Bay into the state’s largest stormwater detention basin as the Bay continues to die.”

An important way to improve our stormwater management is to reverse Christie’s rollbacks and put in place stronger protections. The DEP have to address the stormwater management and nonpoint source pollution issues.

“DEP is just taking the broken current system and adding some green amendments. This is really green cover for a rule that will cause more flooding and water pollution. The rule has a few positives but overall does nothing to change the status quo of pointless non-pollution.  It also does not deal or address storm impacts from pipelines or industrial compressor stations. The biggest source of pollution we face is nonpoint pollution and we need to retrofit our stormwater basins to protect our waterways, while revitalizing our waterfront neighborhoods and communities,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “DEP’s first rule is still a Christie rule that also has nothing to do with climate change, sea level rise, and will add just add more flooding.”

A public hearing on the proposal will be Tuesday January 8, 2019 at 1:00 pm at the Department of Environmental Protection, 1st floor Public Hearing Room, 401 East State Street Trenton, NJ 08625

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SUV Backs Into House in Hawthorne

photos courtesy of Boyd Loving’s Facebook

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Hawthorne NJ, A Honda SUV being backed out of a driveway slammed into the front of a 2-family Hawthorne residence shortly after 7 PM on Tuesday, 12/11. Hawthorne Police, Hawthorne Fire, and Hawthorne EMS responded to the incident, which was located in the 100 block of Passaic Avenue at the corner of Loretto Avenue, Hawthorne. The SUV’s female driver complained of a non life threatening back injury and was transported by ambulance to a local hospital for evaluation. Moderate structural damage was reported to the struck residence. A flatbed tow truck removed the wrecked vehicle from the scene.

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Village of Ridgewood Kings Pond NJDEP Permit Application Plans

the staff of the Ridgewood blog 

Ridgewood NJ, Kings Pond Park, including the associated Gypsy Pond Park, is a public, municipal park spanning close to the entire length of Goffle Brook through the village of Ridgewood in Bergen County, New Jersey. It is the second largest wildscape in the village of Ridgewood and one of the larger wooded areas along the lower Bergen-Passaic border.

Kings Pond NJDEP Permit Application Plans http://mods.ridgewoodnj.net/pdf/engineering/projects/kingspond/18035KingsPondNJDEPPermAppPlans.pdf


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State Bill to Require School Districts to Adopt Nepotism Policies Clears Committee

RHS

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, Legislation sponsored by Senator Joseph Lagana which would require school districts and charter schools to adopt nepotism policies cleared the Senate Education Committee today.

“We must ensure that our school districts are hiring the most qualified people for the job, without allowing personal relations to taint their judgment,” said Senator Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “All hirings should involve a competitive application process and end with the hiring of the best possible candidate.”

The bill, S-2637, would direct boards of education of school districts and county vocational school districts to adopt and implement a nepotism policy. The adoption of such a policy would be required to receive state aid. At minimum, the policy would have to include the provisions outlined in the bill.

The bill would also direct the board of trustees of a charter school to adopt and implement a nepotism policy, incorporating the provisions outlined in the bill.

The policy would apply to relatives of school board members, chief school administrators, school business administrators, school board attorneys and directors of personnel.

A school district or county vocational district could exclude per diem substitutes and student employees from its nepotism policy.

The bill was released from committee by a vote of 3-0, and next heads to the full Senate for further consideration.

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Passaic County Man Charged With Scamming Insurance Benefits

the staff of the Ridgewood blog 

Pompton Lakes NJ,  Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor today announced that a Passaic County man has been charged with insurance fraud and related offenses for allegedly receiving $60,000 in insurance benefits to which he was not entitled by submitting forged documents showing medical treatments for illnesses he did not have.

Todd Eckel, 47, of Pompton Lakes, was indicted on charges of second-degree insurance fraud, third-degree theft by deception, third-degree attempted theft by deception, and fourth-degree forgery in connection with four claims he filed with American Heritage Life Insurance Company (“American Heritage”). The indictment was handed up yesterday by a state Grand Jury in Trenton.

Between February 2016 and November 2017 Eckel allegedly submitted forged physician statements in four separate insurance claims to reinforce the false impression that he was treated for a heart attack, Parkinson’s disease, coronary artery disease, and a stroke.

American Heritage, a subsidiary of Allstate, paid Eckel $20,000 for each of the first three claims.

Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000; third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000; fourth-degree crimes carry a sentence of up to eighteen months in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $5,000.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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ICE arrests 105 in New Jersey operation targeting criminal aliens and public safety threats

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

NEWARK NJ,  Four individuals in the country illegally who have Interpol warrants based on crimes they committed in their home countries were among 105 foreign nationals taken into custody during a five-day operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last week in New Jersey.  The operation, which was spearheaded by ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), targeted at-large criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants and other immigration violators and was supported by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) New Jersey Field Office.

Of those arrested during the operation, 80 percent had prior criminal convictions and/or pending criminal charges.“These outstanding results, which were made possible by our officers and law enforcement partners, highlight the tremendous commitment that ICE ERO has to public safety throughout the state,” said John Tsoukaris, Field Office Director of ERO Newark. “Our focus has been and will continue to be on arrests of illegal aliens who have been convicted of serious crimes or those who pose a threat to public safety.”          

These individuals will go through removal proceedings before an Immigration Judge or for those under a final order of removal, arrangements will be made to remove them from the U.S.  

The individuals arrested throughout New Jersey were nationals of Brazil (6), Canada (1), Colombia (1), Costa Rica (1), Cuba (2), Dominican Republic (10), Ecuador (4), Egypt (1), El Salvador (8), Guatemala (13), Honduras (7), Jamaica (4), Korea (2), Mexico (28), Peru (4), Philippines (1), Poland (1), Russia (1), Serbia (1), Slovakia (2), Spain (1), Taiwan (1), Trinidad (1), and Venezuela (4).

These individuals were arrested in the following counties in New Jersey: Atlantic (1), Bergen (4), Burlington (1), Camden (1), Essex (6), Gloucester (2), Hudson (24), Hunterdon (1), Mercer (12), Middlesex (10), Monmouth (14), Morris (3), Ocean (2), Passaic (11), Somerset (1), and Union (10). Also, two (2) individuals were arrested in New York. They range from age 18 to 65 years old and most were previously convicted of a variety of offenses. Some of the convictions included sexual assault on a minor, child abuse, possession of narcotics, distribution of narcotics, extortion, DUI, fraud, domestic violence, theft, possession of a weapon, robbery, promoting prostitution, aggravated assault, resisting arrest, endangering the welfare of a child, credit card fraud, insurance fraud, shoplifting and illegal reentry.

Among those arrested during this operation include:

  • In Palisades Park, a 59-year-old Korean national, who has an Interpol warrant to serve his sentence for the crime of indecent acts by compulsion causing bodily injury;
  • In Palisades Park, a 44-year-old Korean national, who has an Interpol warrant to serve his sentence for the crime of distribution of psychotropic drugs;
  • In West New York, a 34-year-old Ecuadorian national, who has an Interpol warrant for the crime of fraud;
  • In Paterson, a 54-year-old Russian national, who has an Interpol warrant for the crime of large scale fraud;
  • In Union City, a 35-year-old Ecuadorian national, who has a conviction of forcible touching on a child;
  • In Jersey City, a 35-year-old Venezuelan national, who has a conviction of distribution of narcotics;
  • In Union City, a 52-year-old Mexican national, who has a conviction of promoting prostitution with a child.
  • In New Brunswick, a 34-year-old Honduran national, who has a conviction of Endangering the Welfare of a Child;
  • In Bayonne, a 43-year-old Canadian national, who has a conviction of distribution of narcotics on school grounds;
  • In Jamesburg, a 25-year-old previously deported Guatemalan national, who was arrested for aggravated assault and possession of a weapon. An ICE detainer was lodged with Middlesex County Jail but they refused to honor the ICE detainer and released the subject;
  • In Toms River, a 28-year-old Egyptian national, who has three convictions for possession and distribution of narcotics;
  • In Jersey City, a 41-year-old Taiwanese national, who has convictions for extortion and bank fraud;
  • In Atlantic City, a 38-year-old Cuban national, who has a conviction for aggravated criminal sexual contact;
  • In New Brunswick, a 48-year-old Jamaican national, who has convictions for conspiracy to commit robbery and possession of a weapon;
  • In Freehold a 28-year-old El Salvadorian national, who is a member of MS-13;
  • In New Brunswick, a 19-year-old Mexican national, who is a member of the 18th street gang;
  • In Newark, a 31-year-old Mexican national, who is a member of the Surenos-13th street gang;

This operation was pre-planned and not as a result of the New Jersey Attorney General’s Directive last week limiting local and state law enforcement cooperation with ICE. ICE will of necessity have to conduct additional enforcement operations, if local police departments and county jails do not refer criminals and gang members they encounter to ICE for review and possible arrest on immigration violations.

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The New Jersey Department of Health Warns Three Passaic County Locations May Have Been Exposed to Measles

New Jersey Department of Health

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Passaic NJ, The New Jersey Department of Health is warning residents of additional exposures associated with an outbreak of measles— a highly contagious disease—in Ocean County.
A highly suspect case of measles associated with the Ocean County outbreak has potentially exposed individuals in Passaic County. This Passaic County resident could have exposed others to the infection while in Passaic County between November 17 and November 18.

Continue reading The New Jersey Department of Health Warns Three Passaic County Locations May Have Been Exposed to Measles