Jersey news digest

15 Oct 2020 | 10:13

    Gas prices increase in New Jersey

    Gas prices have increased in New Jersey but dipped across the nation as a whole as lower demand compensated for a decrease in domestic stocks, analysts said.

    AAA Mid-Atlantic says the average price of a gallon of regular gas in New Jersey on Friday was $2.23, up two cents from last week. Drivers were paying an average of $2.54 a gallon a year ago at this time.

    The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $2.18, down a penny from the previous week. Drivers were paying an average of $2.64 a gallon a year ago at this time.

    Analysts say prices are likely to decline with a drop in demand as fewer road trips are taken in the fall.

    Princeton names dorm for Black alum Hobson, replacing Wilson

    The residential hall at Princeton that was named for Woodrow Wilson will be rebuilt and named for a Black woman who is an alumna of the school and a donor.

    Mellody Hobson graduated from Princeton in 1991 and now will be the first Black woman whose name is on a Princeton residential college, the dorms where freshmen live, the Ivy League school said in a statement.

    Hobson is the co-CEO of Ariel Investments and gave an undisclosed seed donation to fund the reconstruction of the dorm, along with the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation. Hobson is married to George Lucas of “Star Wars’” fame.

    Hobson said she was a first-generation college student from Chicago when she enrolled at Princeton and hopes that other Black and brown students will be reminded that they belong when they see her name on the building.

    “When I was approached last year about this opportunity, I was most compelled by the symbolism of a Black woman replacing the name of someone who would have not supported my admission three decades ago,” Hobson said in a video on the university’s website announcing the donation.

    In June, the university’s board decided to remove Wilson’s name from the public policy school and the residential college because of his racist views and support for segregation. Besides being a former U.S. president, Wilson led Princeton University for eight years and banned Black students from attending.

    The reconstruction of Hobson College is scheduled to begin in 2023, after two other new freshman dorms are completed, and the new residential college is expected to open by fall 2026. The new dorms are being built to accommodate a planned expansion of Princeton’s student body.

    COVID-19 cases spike in New Jersey

    New Jersey added 1,300 new positive coronavirus cases overnight last Wednesday, more than 1.5 times more than the previous day’s figure and the highest level since late May, Gov. Phil Murphy said.

    The biggest increases are in Ocean and Monmouth counties.

    Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said most of the positive cases in Ocean County stem from Lakewood, predominantly among white men ages 19-49 and could be related to religious services or celebrations that occurred in late September.

    Hospitalizations also climbed to 652, the highest level since early August, Murphy said.

    Eleven people were reported to have died overnight, bringing the statewide total to 14,373. The positivity rate for testing stood at 3.69%, while the rate of transmission fell to 1.22, down from 1.27.

    “We are anticipating a second wave, and we are preparing based on our prior experiences,” Persichilli said. “This wave has a potential to become a surge.”

    The state has stockpiled personal protective equipment, ventilators and the therapeutic drug remdesivir. She said the biggest concern will be staffing because other states sent health workers in March and April, but those people are confronting the outbreak in their on states now.

    She didn’t give a time frame for when the wave could hit.

    For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness or death.

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    GRAND JURIES TO RESUME

    Grand juries across New Jersey must begin meeting again by the beginning of December, the state Supreme Court wrote in an order released Thursday.

    Grand juries _ which decide whether to indict defendants after considering evidence presented by prosecutors _ have been suspended in most of the state since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Virtual grand juries have been meeting in Bergen and Mercer counties since June.

    Under Thursday’s order, all 21 counties must give grand jurors the technology needed to meet virtually, though counties also can decide to have them meet in person if health guidelines are followed.

    Attorney Matthew Adams, vice president of the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey, said in an email that having virtual grand juries without a defendant’s consent is unconstitutional and the state’s order will be challenged.

    The state estimates there are more than 2,700 people in county jails waiting for their cases to be heard by a grand jury.

    Jury trials resumed in New Jersey last week in two counties. A trial in Bergen County was suspended after defense attorneys objected to the virtual jury selection process, saying it had the effect of excluding older and minority jurors.

    AP-WF-10-08-20 2131GMT