The top 10 stories of 2013

Staff Writer

 Thomas Lankey Thomas Lankey 1. Edison cop charged in fire at fellow officer’s home

Michael A. Dotro, 36, a nine-year veteran of the Edison Police Department, was charged with five counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated arson for allegedly setting fire to the home of his superior officer, Mark Anderko, an Edison police captain, in Monroe on May 20. Dotro was also charged in September with 17 counts of official misconduct.

2. Covert recording devices found at Edison P.D., attorneys say

Attorneys for two local police unions claimed in December that microphones on video surveillance cameras at the Edison police headquarters have been recording employees’ communications. The alleged findings have outraged members of the Police Benevolent Association and Superior Officers Association.

3. Lankey and team sweep in Edison

Democratic Councilman Thomas Lankey was elected mayor of Edison in November, and his running mates — councilmen Robert Diehl and Alvaro Gomez, and newcomer Sapana Shah — won the three available Township Council seats. Lankey succeeds Mayor Antonia Ricigliano.

4. Zoning changes allow Pearl Street redevelopment

The Metuchen Borough Council amended the municipal land use code in June to accommodate the Pearl Street redevelopment plan, which includes 16,000 square feet of retail space, 249 residential rental units, a parking garage and a public plaza near the train station. Grocery stores with a maximum floor area of 15,000 square feet may operate in the development, according to the amended ordinance.

5. Student is millionth Post-9/11 GI Bill beneficiary

Steven Ferraro, a resident of Staten Island, N.Y., became the one-millionth recipient of benefits from the Post 9/11 GI Bill in November. He is an Army veteran who attends Middlesex County College, Edison. To celebrate the milestone, he and Department of Veterans Affairs Undersecretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey met with second lady Jill Biden in Washington, D.C.

6. Third time’s the charm for Metuchen’s first-wed gay couple

On Oct. 25, Metuchen residents David Katz and Richard Alagona became the first same-sex couple to marry in Metuchen. A state Supreme Court hearing legalized same-sex marriage as of Oct. 21.

7. Traveling centennial celebration passes through

The centennial anniversary tour for America’s first paved transcontinental road, the Lincoln Highway, made a pit stop in Edison on June 22. The Lincoln Highway, built in 1913, is known as Route 27 or Middlesex Avenue in Edison and Metuchen.

8. Car collision in Edison deemed homicide-suicide by police

Srijan Saha, a sophomore at J.P. Stevens High School, was driving a 1995 Honda Civic on Oct. 15 when it veered into a 2011 Nissan Altima occupied by Mohammed Zia, 46, who was driving, and his brother-in-law, Ali Behzad, 35, on Route 27 near Stony Road. All three were killed. Police classified the incident as a homicide-suicide.

9. Local man turns fight against obesity into fun and games

Edison resident Dennis Ai, 21, founded JiveHealth, whose mission is to develop video games in an effort to halve the number of children who are overweight or obese by 2016. Last spring, Ai and his team drew closer to reaching their objective when they took first place in the nonprofit Partnership for a Healthier America’s End Childhood Obesity Innovation Challenge, a contest with a prize of $10,000 and close to 50 hours of support from experts to help make the winning idea a reality.

10. New Edison High School academy challenges students

Eighteen students are enrolled in the inaugural Science & Engineering Academy at Edison High School. Launched in September, the academy is a demanding four-year program that offers highly motivated students an opportunity to explore their interests in the fields of mathematics, science and engineering. School officials, community members and students came together Dec. 5 to officially open the 16,480-squarefoot wing that was constructed for the academy. The wing — dedicated as the Leo F. Scanlon Science Center in honor of the longtime Edison High School principal — includes six labs and one general education classroom.