OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

STATEWIDE - The folks at New Jersey Family magazine are eternal optimists, sending out a ranking of the "Best Towns" in the state to raise a family. As we are sadistic, negative people, we are more interested at who the magazine considers the absolute worst places to raise families in New Jersey. So, we looked at the list, and scrolled down, and down and down, to find those bottom-feeding gems. Here are the bottom five, in order of massive awfulness for Little Johnny and Little Susie: Long Branch, Orange, Wildwood Crest, Bradley Beach, and, finally, drum roll, please....Asbury Park. See if the magazine considers your town to be crap. Click here.  

TRENTON - If you are sitting at home, working through your second bowl of Count Chocula, maybe it is time, finally, to get a job. State officials announced the unemployment rate has dropped once again, to 4.4 percent, which means you really, truly have run out of excuses. The recession is over, pal, and someone, somewhere is actually willing to hire you. Sure, working the graveyard shift at Wawa may not be your ideal career choice, but state officials now have little sympathy for your tender pinky finger or other lame reasons why you spend another workday in your parents' basement.  

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HAMILTON - If you live in or around Hamilton, don't try to go anywhere this weekend. North/Route 295 South will close tonight at 10 p.m. and remain closed all day tomorrow. We're talking the north and southbound ramps at exit 67 for Route 1. It's all part of the state's repair work, as the southbound ramp has been closed since January and won't reopen until sometime next month, apparently. All traffic this weekend will be diverted to Sloan Avenue in Hamilton, where you will see a guy in his bathrobe, named Bob, shaking his fist at cars.

TRENTON - Goodbye Weedman's Joint. Hello Weedbukx. From behind bars, pot advocate Ed "NJ Weedman" Forchion announced his shuttered East State Street eatery will reopen in April as "Weedbukx," an urban-chic cafe designed to look like a medical marijuana grow room. It will serve marijuana-themed dishes like "The Pothead Sandwich." But, due to the law, marijuana won't be an ingredient in anything served, NJ.com says. Forchion's partner Debi Madaio - a registered nurse with a criminal justice degree - will run the smokeless cafe until the courts sort out his witness tampering charges and other legal issues. Dude. 

EAST RUTHERFORD - Humorless lawyers read everything these days, so we will just gingerly note that NJ.com is reporting the mega, mega mall in the Meadowlands appears to be stalled, once again. Citing other sources, and taking no opinion or slant of our own, we are simply reporting that, according to NJ.com, and not us, that the East Rutherford mayor has been in the dark about the project in recent months, even though the developer told NorthJersey.com that it planned to resume work after the holidays. The estimated 2018 opening seems impossible, if no construction workers show up for work. (Apologies for drawing that conclusion.) 

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS 

REDUCTION, Pa. - You already have the Tesla and the fancy beach house. What else is there to buy? How about a town? We bet you can pick up Reduction, Pa. for a cool $1.5 million. It's a one-time company town in western Pennsylvania that housed workers at a long-gone garbage-processing plant known as the American Reduction Co. For your investment, you inherit 60 residents, living in 19 small brick houses, who have been paying rent to the current owner for 70 or so years. Your investment also includes a one-room schoolhouse, now a tidy duplex. A perk: you can use the town's electric grid to power the Tesla. And you can build a small army to conquer the town next door.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY 

It was this day in 2015 that Heinz and Kraft foods merged into the third-largest global food company, prompting us to propose a brand new meal: ketchup-infused mac 'n cheese.

WORD OF THE DAY 

Esoterica - [es-uh-ter-i-kuh] - noun 

Definition: Things understood or meant by a select few  

Example: Wading through the esoterica in the Jaffe Briefing, one must wonder, "Huh?" 

WEATHER IN A WORD 

50s