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Christie Called 'Hot and Sexy' in Hopatcong, Gets Fiery Welcome in Bloomfield

This week's top news from around New Jersey.

Gov. Chris Christie hit familiar targets like public workers' pensions and health care reform before a filled-to-capacity  Center in Hopatcong on Wednesday, but the morning's loudest ovation went to Sparta resident Debra Nicholson, who began her question at the town hall-style meeting—Christie's first in Sussex County—by (see video at right). 

Christie laughed and said Nicholson should write a note to his wife, Mary Pat, with whom he celebrated a 25-year wedding anniversary on Tuesday. Between jokes and claps, Christie returned to core tenents of his financial platform.

"I want to be fair, but I can't be stupid," he said.

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Christie got a Tuesday afternoon as he slipped through a side door of Bloomfield High School to on education reform. About two dozen firefighters from Bloomfield and Belleville stood across from on Broad Street protesting the governor's visit by bearing signs that read "Risking our lives to save yours" and "Safety should never be sacrificed."

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Westfield Board of Education Business Administrator/Board Secretary Bob Berman was charged on Wednesday with second degree bribery as part of a . Attorney General Paula Dow charged that Berman, 55, of South Plainfield accepted over $13,000 worth of window glass and doors from Metropolitan Metal Window Company in return for recommending that the Board of Education designate the company as the school district’s contractor of record. Dow alleges that Berman took the bribes between 2004 and 2008.

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Advocates from the Surfrider Foundation, Citizens' Right to Access Beaches (CRAB), the American Littoral Society (ALS) and the New York-New Jersey Baykeeper held a press conference on Wednesday in Long Branch to let the public know it .

The state Department of Environmental Protection first proposed new rules to make it easier for towns to limit access to beaches last summer and may publish a revised version as early as next month.

"Part of the new rules gives towns with a history of being restrictive the responsibility for managing access," said Tim Dillingham, ALS executive director.

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Mayor Dawn Zimmer decided to after a rowdy party that followed this year's event. The city issued 296 summonses, including 115 for open containers, 32 for drinking publicly and 40 for unruly houseparties. The number of summonses issued for public urination went up from 41 last year to 59 this year. Police made 34 arrests, caught two people with fake guns and arrested a robber with a knife. There were also two reported sexual assault cases.

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Property taxes will be going up to support a due to be formally introduced March 16, according to Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr. The 2011 county tax rate is set to rise .9 of a penny, to 28.1 cents per $100, he said. That translates into a $27 county tax increase for the owner of a $300,000 home. Total taxes needed to support the budget rose $6.3 million to $293.3 million in the budget proposal. The total budget is up $4.7 million from last year, but is $2 million less than the county’s 2009 spending package.

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U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) announced on Wednesday that President Barack Obama has nominated Juan Mattos Jr. to become the U.S. Marshal for the District of New Jersey. Mattos retired from the New Jersey State Police in 2010 after 35 years of service, including leadership roles as the Deputy Superintendent of Investigations and later as the Deputy Superintendent of Operations. Mattos rose to the position of Lieutenant Colonel and was second in command at the State Police.  He is currently an agent with the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.

“Mr. Mattos has the expertise and experience needed to protect our federal courts, recover fugitives and oversee Federal prisoners in New Jersey,” Lautenberg said in a statement.

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K-9 Clancy, a German Shepherd police dog who served the Toms River Police Force from 2002 to 2011, was among more than a dozen of the township's police department. Among plenty of “awws,” smiles and hopefulness to pet Clancy, a packed town hall gave the retiree a hearty applause for hard work serving Toms River residents.

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