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East Camden

NEWS
January 17, 2015 | By Michael Boren, Inquirer Staff Writer
The bell buzzes, and a correctional officer unlocks the towering blue door into the Camden County Jail. A metal detector greets visitors. Cellphones stay at the front desk, coats on a nearby hanger. Two doors operated from a control room grudgingly slide open, leading to an elevator. It has only a few buttons - open door, close door, stop - no floor options. It, too, is operated from afar. The elevator opens on the seventh floor. To the right, past a green cage door, is the gym. On Thursday morning, at least, the room offered inmates a brief change of scene from the jail drab.
NEWS
January 5, 2015 | By Michael Boren, Inquirer Staff Writer
Cary Soldevila was driving to a Walmart store to grab pineapples for the holiday ham and shrimp for the seafood salad - both her son's favorites - when she detoured onto Cove Road in Pennsauken. It was about 10 a.m. Christmas Eve, and Soldevila wanted to see her son, Ernesto Torres. It had been eight months since Torres, 22, had been shot to death in Camden during a fight over a girl, and this dreary morning - the start of the first Christmas without him - was especially hard on Soldevila.
NEWS
January 3, 2015 | By Michael Boren, Inquirer Staff Writer
Cary Soldevila was driving to a Walmart store to grab pineapples for the holiday ham and shrimp for the seafood salad - both her son's favorites - when she detoured onto Cove Road in Pennsauken. It was about 10 a.m. Christmas Eve, and Soldevila wanted to see her son, Ernesto Torres. It had been eight months since Torres, 22, had been shot to death in Camden during a fight over a girl, and this dreary morning - the start of the first Christmas without him - was especially hard on Soldevila.
NEWS
December 24, 2014 | BY JASON NARK, Daily News Staff Writer narkj@phillynews.com, 215-854-5916
THE CALENDAR can sting for some in Camden, on birthdays with no cakes, Thanksgivings without turkey, or a cold day in December called Christmas that mostly just feels like another Thursday. On some days, though, the calendar can surprise, as it did Dec. 18, when Christmas came early for about two dozen young adults and kids sitting inside a Caribbean restaurant on Federal Street, thanks to a local nonprofit and sacks of donations. Toddlers were bouncing off one another inside the Reggae Grill, and mothers held babies on their hips with one hand while carrying heaping containers of curry oxtail or jerk chicken back to their tables with the other.
NEWS
December 13, 2014 | By Michael Boren, Inquirer Staff Writer
The marchers gathered by the steps of the Camden County Police Department, many holding signs. "Don't Shoot," "Camden Can't Breathe," the signs read. In front of the group of nearly 25, most of them city residents, an empty gray casket lay on the ground. Six men picked up the casket and walked it down Haddon Avenue, turning left toward the federal courthouse. Police cruisers blocked traffic at intersections as the marchers crossed. The peaceful gathering Thursday, which ended at City Hall, was meant to protest the police-involved deaths of black men in Missouri and New York, but also to focus on police actions in Camden.
NEWS
December 2, 2014 | By Allison Steele, Inquirer Staff Writer
Logos for Rutgers and other local universities are taped to the doors of many of Camden's preschool classrooms. The 3- and 4-year-olds inside don't yet know how to read, but they know what college is. In Camden, where high schools had a 53 percent graduation rate last year and where fewer than 10 percent of high school students were deemed college-ready in a recent study, reshaping expectations is one of the biggest challenges for educators. Many of the district's students think of higher education as unattainable, if they think of it at all, said Katrina McCombs, director of Camden's early-childhood education program.
NEWS
November 29, 2014 | By Allison Steele, Inquirer Staff Writer
When students at Camden's UrbanPromise Academy high school learned they would have the chance to design Christmas ornaments to be displayed on New Jersey's tree in Washington, they wanted to reflect the range of cultures in the city and the state. So they drew religious symbols, as well as pictures to represent racial diversity, peace, and harmony, such as a world map and two hands holding. "I think it's an honor," said Chinyere Nwanosike, 16, one of two dozen students who created an ornament.
NEWS
November 12, 2014 | By Allison Steele, Inquirer Staff Writer
More than a year into New Jersey's takeover of the struggling Camden School District, student test scores have shown few signs of improvement, Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard said Monday. Just 21 percent of students in grades 3 through 8 scored at or above the state-mandated proficiency level in English, according to state testing for the 2013-14 school year, with 31 percent demonstrating proficiency in math - rates unchanged from last year. Testing for 11th-grade students showed 57 percent of students were proficient in English, an increase over last year's 41 percent.
NEWS
October 19, 2014 | By Julia Terruso, Inquirer Staff Writer
Camden officials hired two partners this week to help orchestrate the demolition of nearly 600 houses in the city, as some residents expressed concern over the number of empty lots that will result from the initiative. Camden will partner with the Cooper's Ferry Partnership and the Camden County Improvement Authority to organize and expedite the demolition of the houses in the next two years. City Council voted this week to pay the authority $250,000 to oversee all demolition contracts.
NEWS
October 10, 2014 | By Kevin Riordan, Inquirer Columnist
Msgr. Robert McDermott grew up on the 2900 block of Carman Street in the thriving East Camden of the 1940s and '50s, when family, faith, and community were a seamless whole. So when "Father Bob" returned to East Camden as pastor of St. Joseph's Pro-Cathedral Parish in 1985, he brought along the lessons he learned on Carman Street, where people kept tabs on each other's kids and nearby Dudley Grange Park was for athletes, not drug dealers. In 1985, "the conditions of life were terrible" for many East Camden families, says McDermott, 73, who retired last week.
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