By Geoffrey Wertime, Staff Writer
Editor’s note: This is the third and final part of a series examining the major local news stories of the past year.
Two bodies were found in Mansfield over the course of the month, solving several missing persons cases.
Early in the month, a motorist found the body of a woman who later was identified as 57-year-old Lyudmila Burshteyn, of Philadelphia, and who a friend had reported missing earlier that same day. Officials sought the public’s help in identifying her.
About a week later, several people from Philadelphia were stopped by police in Summerton, S.C., while driving Ms. Burshteyn’s car. Three men and a 17-year-old boy were charged with felony murder while a 16-year-old girl and 18-year-old woman, both from Philadelphia and who were in the car, were not charged.
In an unrelated incident, three weeks later, hunters stumbled upon the trail leading to a body that later was identified through dental records as missing township president James P. Latham, 50. Mr. Latham’s family reported him missing in April 2008.
Two nearly identical motorcycle accidents on the same stretch of I-295 killed two men within about eight hours.
Officials said both men attempted to change lanes in an area where the top layer of pavement had been removed due to construction, creating a 2-inch dip below the middle lane.
A Florence man fell off his motorcycle and was struck by two cars in the morning. In the second incident a Macungie, Pa., man was thrown from his motorcycle attempting the same move.
An early-morning home invasion in a North Hanover mobile home park led to the arrests of a township woman and two younger men.
Anthony Fazio, 18, of Trenton, and George Kinczel, 19, of Yardville, both were accused of smashing through the front door of the residence early in the morning and confronting the man, woman and child who lived there.
Police said Mr. Fazio and Mr. Kinczel chased the residents with a wooden bat, struck the man across the back, ransacked the interior of the dwelling and smashed the exterior of the mobile home as well as the vehicles outside.
Police also charged Mr. Fazio’s girlfriend, 27-year-old township woman Kristin Morrissey, with conspiracy for giving the two men information about the victims and how to find their residence.
Bordentown City lost two noted residents this month.
Colleen Jones Anderson, 36, succumbed to liver and colon cancer and left behind a fiancé in Yardley, Pa., three children from a previous marriage and two stepsons. A member of the Bordentown Regional High School Class of 1992, she was the focus of a fundraiser former classmates organized shortly before her death to help her family with the financial burden of her illness.
Stephen McGowan, 64, was an eighth-generation city resident and a fixture in the community. The longtime chairman of the annual Halloween parade and a former city fire chief, Mr. McGowan volunteered and was known throughout the area.
The Halloween Parade Committee chose to honor him by sending an antique, open-top Mack firetruck empty in the parade instead of selecting a new grand marshal.
The North Hanover School District became the latest to install solar panels on one of its schools to achieve savings and minimize its environmental impact.
The Board of Education awarded a $2.3 million contract to install the panels on the roof of its Upper Elementary School, and since funding came from grant and aid money, the project did not require voter approval.
A national deal to acquire the Saturn brand of motor vehicles fell through, leaving the future of the area’s last Saturn dealerships murky.
Mike Maguire, president of the Maguire Auto Group, which owns Saturn of Bordentown on Route 130 in Bordentown Township, said he expected to stay open for business as a service center and to find alternatives for the dealership.
The Harvest of Hope Food Pantry, part of the Rose of Sharon Lutheran Church in North Hanover, nearly ran out of food after the dip in the economy increased demand while making donations harder to get.
Just before it ceased distributing food to its 300 to 350 monthly patrons, contributions began to pour in, allowing the pantry to keep giving out food in the short term.
Donations still are needed. Checks made out to Harvest of Hope may be sent to 42 Chesterfield-Jacobstown Road, Wrightstown, N.J., 08562.
The Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Bordentown Township celebrated its 50th anniversary as a congregation with a gold-themed celebration featuring photographs of the church’s members, past and present.
Election results set the course for many area towns in the new year.
In Bordentown Township, Republican challengers Anita DiMattia and Michael Dauber won the two open three-year seats on the Township Committee after all mail-in ballots were counted.
In Fieldsboro, longtime Democratic mayor Edward “Buddy” Tyler bested Republican newcomer Stephanie Berry in a town where such challenges rarely are seen.
In Florence, Democrat Frank K. Baldorossi and Republicans David B. Woolston and Jerry Sandusky beat out their opponents for four-year seats on the Township Council in their respective wards.
North Hanover incumbent Republicans Michael Moscatiello and Bill Tilton retained their two seats on the Township Committee, and township voters there also approved a municipal ballot question to continue the township open space tax.
Springfield voters overwhelmingly defeated a referendum to approve an ordinance, which would have restructured the municipal Police Department with a public safety director at its head instead of a chief.
Francisco Planas-Borgstrom, a 32-year-old Bordentown City resident and a teacher at Bordentown Regional High School, was charged with sexually assaulting a student over a seven-month period.
The district suspended Mr. Planas-Borgstrom pending the outcome of a joint investigation by the Bordentown Township Police Department and the Burlington County prosecutor’s office. He was a 10-year veteran music teacher at the high school and a seven-year band director at both the high school and Bordentown Regional Middle School.
The body of a woman washed up on the shore of the Delaware River on the border between Bordentown and Mansfield townships ultimately was identified as 38-year-old Queens, N.Y. resident Farisha Rahamot-Ali, a native of Trinidad, who was reported missing to New York City police in late October.
Kayakers found the body on Newbold Island, and the victim’s sister determined it was her after state police released information and asked for the public’s help.
Voters in the Bordentown Regional and Mansfield school districts approved referendums while a one-question renovation project in Springfield was rejected.
The BRSD received approval to install solar panels on the roof of Bordentown Regional High School and build a three-field athletic complex next to it. The approval of Mansfield’s two questions will let it repair the roof of the John Hydock Elementary School and install solar panels there.
About a dozen private school parents showed up at a meeting of the Northern Burlington County Regional Board of Education to say they felt ignored by the district.
The galvanizing problem had to do with mixed messages about who could and could not receive vaccinations at the district’s clinic for H1N1, or swine flu, clinic.
Superintendent James Sarruda acknowledged some issues with communication, but said some of the parents’ complaints are out of his control. A shortage of H1N1 vaccine delayed and canceled some other area clinics, further exacerbating parental frustration.
Nearly all of the towns in Northern Burlington County were stunned when Gov. Jon S. Corzine announced the state would withhold about $20 million in aid to help close an $800 million budget gap this year.
The withholdings, which had no release date attached, appeared to hit Florence, New Hanover and Bordentown hardest, but the state later announced it was releasing the funds, letting municipalities breath a little easier by year’s end.
Record-breaking amounts of snow accumulated over the weekend before Christmas, giving residents time to clean up before the Monday commute, but putting a damper on holiday shopping.