OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL - Apparently, it was just a big joke that comedian Joe Piscopo is raising money to run for governor. Piscopo, who would give Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno a heckuva run on the Republican ticket, tells NJ.com he was misquoted in a recent interview and he is "just doing due diligence," whatever that means. There was a time when we thought an entertainer with zero political experience would have no shot at winning a powerful position in government. But that was before we all moved to Trump World. 

BRICK - Looking for a snow job? Well, bring your own shovel. Mayor John Ducey has concocted an unusual municipal program to fill that bill: An all-volunteer Snow Corps. Ducey tells the Brick Times he's looking for able-bodied do-gooders, 16 or older, willing to voluntarily dig out senior citizens and people with disabilities after snowstorms. The mayor knows of only two other similar programs, in Jersey City and Chicago, saying: "I remember in the old days, teenagers would be out making money after it snowed." Not so much anymore, unless the snow is inside and you can use an X Box console to blast it. 

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MANVILLE - Like New Jersey needs another convenience store. But, that's exactly what might replace The Chester House, a decades-old Main Street landmark bar. Okay, so it isn't quite "Cheers," but the Home News Tribune says Chester House is another of those endangered neighborhood watering holes where customers can still enjoy a cheap beer, a big fat pork roll sandwich and shoot pool. Next Tuesday, the borough will hear plans from a Manhattan developer to use the site for New Jersey's first Royal Farms convenience store and a six-island gas station. Yippee. Bet no one will know your name or be really glad you came.

IN COURT AND OFF THE COURT - A 12-year-old girl from Scotch Plains will not be suiting up for the boy's basketball team at St. Theresa's School in Kenilworth. Her family went up against the humorless Archdiocese of Newark, praying for some heavenly intervention that would allow the girl to play. The family argued the school no longer has a girls' team, so the only option is the boys' one. But the Archdiocese noted, quite correctly, that St. Theresa's is not a public school and, therefore, does not need to follow Title IX, which are gender-equity regulations in sports. So, as the girl shoots hoops in her driveway, her family likely ponders if a Catholic school is the right option.  

NEPTUNE - Kudos to the Gables Elementary School in Neptune for collecting 1 million soda can tabs to raise money for the Ronald McDonald Foundation. Mr. McDonald came to the school yesterday to celebrate with the kids, the Asbury Park Press reports. Again, wonderful. But, we gotta ask, doesn't it look like he has gained some weight over all those years of Super-sized Cokes and Big Macs?

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS 

PARSONSFIELD, Maine - Being the only snowplow driver in the entire town has to be some cruel joke. And that's why the guy quit, just as 25 inches of heavy snow dumped on Parsonsfield on Dec. 30. Since then, local residents have had no choice but to chip through all the snow with their own shovels, while begging for assistance from surrounding towns and the Maine Department of Transportation. All pitched in, and it looks, finally, like the garbage trucks can finally roll through. The lesson for Parsonsfield? Be nicer to the plow guy.

PHILADELPHIA - Talk about a really, really sore loser. A city woman, angry over never winning the Pennsylvania Lottery, is now wanted by police for a score of violent threats against store clerks who sell her scratch-off tickets and state lottery workers. Authorities amassed 53 criminal charges against the woman, 47, who phoned in death threats to state lottery workers over eight months last year. Detective Robert Appleby tells the Patriot-News: "She plays lottery a lot and gets very upset that she doesn't win." Doubtful her luck is changing anytime soon.  

THIS DAY IN HISTORY 

It was this day in 2012 that 45,000 Facebook logins and passwords are stolen by the Ramnit worm. No one "likes" it. 

WORD OF THE DAY 

Maelstrom [MAIL-strum] - noun 

Definition: A powerful, often violent, whirlpool sucking in objects within a given radius  

Example: We've been swept up in the media maelstrom about Russian hackers deciding our elections. 

WEATHER IN A WORD 

Chilly