A weekly update of stories previously reported
Seventeen months ago: Two men charged with bias intimidation in Somers Point
On Aug. 15, 2011, Somers Point police arrested two white men, Michael Testa, 28, and Jeffrey Jones, 25, for allegedly attacking a black man in a racially motivated incident.
The victim, who knew his attackers, found a T-shirt hanging outside his door. The shirt had racial slurs written on it and there was a reference to a relationship the victim had with an ex-girlfriend who is white.
The victim then walked outside his apartment and Testa and Jones drove by, yelling racial slurs, and then they attacked him, authorities said.
Both men were indicted by a grand jury Nov. 10, 2011, on charges of aggravated assault with intent to cause serious bodily injury, said Haleigh Walz, spokeswoman for the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office.
Jones pleaded guilty and was sentenced Aug. 31 to three years in prison and three years of parole supervision upon his release.
Testa is currently listed as a fugitive. His attorney, Lee Hughes, said Testa is incarcerated in Delaware County jail in Pennsylvania on an unrelated charge and that is why he missed his court appearance. Testa will be tried when he is released from the jail, Hughes said.
Five months ago: Residents request full interchange on exit 40 on Garden State Parkway
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority has plans to create full interchanges at exits 41 and 44 on the Garden State Parkway, but local residents say that isn’t enough.
At an Aug. 27 meeting to discuss the authority’s plans with the public at Richard Stockton College, residents repeatedly asked authority officials for a full interchange at exit 40 so motorists could connect to the White Horse Pike. They argued it would spur more development on the pike in Galloway Township and create additional evacuation routes.
The cause has been taken up by local politicians, and the authority has hired Stantec Consulting Services in Mount Laurel, Burlington County, to do a cost analysis for the project. In a letter dated Dec. 13 to state Sen. Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove, all R-Ocean, Atlantic, Burlington, the authority said the company will study the cost of various alternatives for a full interchange.
The authority said the study will be complete within six months.
Three months ago: Galloway Wildlife Refuge sustains major damage
The Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Galloway Township suffered a big hit from Hurricane Sandy in October when its main roadway, Wildlife Drive, had to close after the dike system received 15 to 20 breaches that made the road impassible, said Don Freiday, visitor services manager.
Since the damage, visitors to the main trails at the 47,000-square-foot site — which had averaged about 100,000 a year — have drastically declined, Freiday said.
But on Monday road repairs began that should be complete in a few months if the weather cooperates, Freiday said. The Federal Highway Administration is funding the work through the Emergency Relief to Federally Owned Roads program.
One of the refuge’s smaller trails will remain open and is free to the public, Freiday said.
“It’s great,” he said of the work starting. “Wildlife Drive is the draw here. We’re really excited the work will be done.”
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