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East Camden

NEWS
July 11, 2014 | By Clark Mindock, Inquirer Staff Writer
The New Jersey Department of Education approved applications Wednesday for two new "Renaissance" schools in Camden, a move expected to lead to new school buildings in the Cramer Hill and Whitman Park neighborhoods. Mastery Charter Schools and Uncommon Schools will join the already approved KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy project. "We appreciate the opportunity to work with the Camden School District to offer a high-quality education to Camden students," Barbara Martinez, a spokeswoman for Uncommon Schools, said in an e-mail.
NEWS
July 7, 2014 | By Julia Terruso, Inquirer Staff Writer
The graffiti gang tag on the train embankment that runs along the perimeter of the Baldwin's Run neighborhood reads "Bloods West Side. " It is both an ominous reminder of the city's ills and a visual backdrop as Lorenz Bethea leaves her house in East Camden at 7:45 a.m. and heads to school. A loose dog darts across the street and a woman warns Lorenz to be careful - in case it bites. As Camden goes, this is a relatively safe neighborhood. Even so, when the teenager turns on her cellphone and tunes in a gospel station on Pandora, only one earbud is in place.
NEWS
June 25, 2014 | By Angelo Fichera, Inquirer Staff Writer
A photo from 2004 shows Jose David Ortega standing triumphantly at the site of a housing complex in Williamstown. He is wearing a tool belt and a backward cap, with a pile of wood beams to the left, a freshly erected home in the background. "He enjoyed [seeing] the house finished," said his mother, Odily Castro, in her East Camden home Monday. Ortega, 40, who went by his middle name, took delight in his work - completed houses, solid cement at his feet, his two young sons by his side.
NEWS
June 13, 2014 | By Kevin Riordan, Inquirer Columnist
East Camden Middle School student Vaughn Williams took an idea - about a place both physical and spiritual - and ran with it. Halfway across the country. In Denver on May 9, Williams, assisted by eighth-grade classmate Fredrick Henderson, addressed about 150 people during a national Youth Development Institute conference. Their presentation featured video, a logo (an empty cube), and audience participation. It centered on a notion called "The Third Space," where one can find solitude or community, stress reduction, or strength of purpose.
NEWS
June 6, 2014 | By Clark Mindock, Inquirer Staff Writer
In North Camden, five men made their way down State Street on Wednesday morning, taking the city's problem of abandoned properties into their own hands, one building at a time. Broken windows and doors were replaced with sturdy boards decorated with painted foliage. Red flowers were planted along the sidewalk. Those in the group, all but one of whom live within a few blocks of where they were working, had jobs to keep them occupied and help pay the bills. "I feel like I'm cleaning up the city, giving it a better name," said Jose Porrata Jr., who lives around the corner.
NEWS
May 16, 2014 | BY JASON NARK & REGINA MEDINA, Daily News Staff Writers narkj@phillynews.com, 215-854-5916
KIDNAPPED from her small circle of church, work and family, a good woman was killed and buried in a shallow South Jersey grave miles from her Camden home, authorities said. Fatima Perez, 41, a single mother of two, "didn't know what bad was," her sister said yesterday. "My sister was so kind, so generous. A good mother. A good sister," said Vanessa Castro, 36. "My sister was the best to everyone. So innocent. I think that's the reason why they took advantage of her. " Perez, of East Camden, was reported missing on Monday.
NEWS
May 16, 2014 | BY JASON NARK, Daily News Staff Writer narkj@phillynews.com, 215-854-5916
A MOTHER'S SOBS filled a corridor of the Camden courthouse yesterday, her voice crying out a question that only two men can ever answer: Why? " Por que ?" Fatima Perez's mother wailed. Minutes earlier inside a courtroom, the woman, along with Perez's siblings, children and other relatives, had wiped away tears as a prosecutor alleged that Perez, a hardworking mother of two from East Camden, was kidnapped and buried alive in a shallow grave in Gloucester County. The two Camden County men in orange jumpsuits and handcuffs facing murder charges, Carlos Alicea-Antonetti, 36, of Camden, and Ramon Ortiz, 57, of Pennsauken, said little and showed no emotion during the brief hearing, even as Special Deputy Attorney General Christine Shah had to pause to compose herself.
NEWS
April 16, 2014 | By Julia Terruso, Inquirer Staff Writer
A statewide grassroots education group, frequently and oftentimes fiercely critical of the state's charter school laws, is questioning whether Camden's process of bringing two more Renaissance schools to the city violated state statute. On Monday, Save Our Schools, founded in 2010, sent a letter to Commissioner David C. Hespe at the Department of Education raising concerns over promotional materials sent home with students last week detailing Mastery and Uncommon Schools. The letter to the commissioner also took issue with the district's application of the Urban Hope Act, which created district-hybrid schools.
NEWS
April 3, 2014 | By Julia Terruso, Inquirer Staff Writer
Norcot Thomas made a routine trip from Camden to visit family in New York this fall. While waiting on the E platform, headed to Queens, he fainted, fell onto the tracks, and was hit by a train. He survived, but he lost both legs. "On the morning of Oct. 23, I was an employed person, a contributing member of society, and in the afternoon I was a double amputee, unemployed," Thomas said at the official opening of the homeless shelter Joseph's House, where he has been staying since February.
NEWS
March 6, 2014 | By Melanie Burney, Inquirer Staff Writer
Harvey M. Mitnick, 79, of Voorhees, who practiced law in South Jersey for more than 50 years, died Monday, March 3, of a sarcoma at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. He was a trial attorney, practicing primarily in Camden early in his career and later in Haddonfield. He was the senior partner of the firm of Mitnick, Josselson, DePersia & Baker. "He was very good at what he did. He enjoyed a wonderful practice," said retired Superior Court Judge Allan Vogelson, a longtime friend and former law partner.
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