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Proposed 'Bath Salts' Ban, Motel Fire, New United Way CEO

This week's top news from around New Jersey

As new details emerge about Bill Parisio—the Cranford man recently accused of murdering his girlfriend, Pamela Schmidt, in his family's home—some lawmakers have to ban a new drug known as "bath salts."

Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Fanwood) has introduced legislation to ban Methylenedioxypyrovalerone, better known as MDVP, the primary drug in bath salts, in the state. In drug circles, the drug earned its nickname because it visually resembles therapeutic salts used in home tubs and spas. Available in convenience stores and smoke shops around the state, bath salts have been blamed by Dianne Parisio, the mother of Bill Parisio, as contributing to her son’s erratic behavior in the days leading up to the murder. In previous reports, Parisio said her son began using the drug in December.

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Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer informed the City Council that former mayor Anthony Russo—who in 2005 was found guilty of accepting bribes—was . She said Russo was not entitled to the benefits he was receiving for the last years, including the time he spent in federal prison. Zimmer estimated that Hoboken paid Russo between $80,000 and $100,000 in health care benefits.

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With the world has watching in horror as Japan deals with the effects of both a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and a large tsunami that struck shortly afterward, Dr. Alexander Gates—chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Rutgers-Newark—warns that one is .

Gates, co-author of "Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes New Edition," said tsunamis can form almost anywhere under the right circumstances. He said there is no historical record of a large-scale tsunami hitting the Jersey Shore, but floated the possibility of a "doomsday scenario" because of a volcano located over 3,500 miles away.

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Just when it seemed things could not get any worse for flood victims in Wayne, they did for one resident. A Grand Street man told Wayne police that his  when he returned to it Wednesday. The resident left his home March 10 due to the area flooding. Police said the victim reported $9,300 worth of stolen tools and electronics was taken.

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The West Caldwell Council will vote on a resolution that  at an April 5 budget meeting. West Caldwell Councilman and Finance Committee Chair Stanley Hladik said Tuesday that after further review, the committee continues to stand behind the . Hladik said the move would help slash the remaining $150,000 budget gap in approximately half.

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The more-united-than-before United Way of Northern New Jersey has its : John Franklin, picked from a field of more than 70 candidates.

Franklin had been serving as the interim CEO since the United Way of Northern New Jersey began earlier this year, born from the merger of previous United Ways in Morris, North Essex, Somerset, Sussex and Warren counties. He was also previously the CEO at United Way of Morris County, and has been with the overall organization for 13 years, according ot the group.

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A  at the  Thursday morning in Bridgewater left two units in the west wing of the motel uninhabitable. According to Bridgewater Township Police Lt. Al Nicaretta, the fire began in the lower end unit of the west wing at around 8:10 a.m., causing fire and smoke damage to that room as well as the one directly above it.

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U.S. Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced legislation this week to establish basic health protections that must be met when gas companies use hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract underground natural gas. The large number of gas drilling operations in Pennsylvania’s Delaware River Valley "could threaten the source of drinking water for millions of New Jersey residents," according to a press release from Lautenberg's office.

The “Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act,” introduced in the Senate on Tuesday, would amend the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) definition of “underground injection” to include the underground injection of fluids used for hydraulic fracturing operations related to oil and gas production activities. The legislation would also require public disclosure of the chemicals used in the fracturing process.

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