STATEWIDE – New Jersey’s #1 scariest place apparently depends who and what you’re willing to believe. With Mischief Night just hours away, parenting site Mom.com decrees our most frightening place is Cape May’s Victorian-era Physick Estate, where visitors often see spirits of long-dead guests who just won’t depart. OnlyInYourState says Perth Amboy’s Proprietary House is creepiest with ghosts of a Revolutionary War solider and a weeping woman. Now, Thrillist warns: Beware of Basking Ridge’s gnarly “Devil’s Tree,” a half-dead oak that’s supposedly a gateway to hell. Well, those otherworldly sites aside, we’ve got our own list of the Garden State’s most hair-raising places:

  • Trenton Council Chambers: Malevolent, shockingly ignorant voices are often heard.
  • The NJ Statehouse: Many spooky characters haunt its hallowed halls.
  • NJ Transit commuter trains: Yikes! Need we say more?
  • Any parking space near the Meadowlands, where $25 or more can mysteriously vanish from your wallet.
  • Clogged roads into Manhattan, where you can sit long enough to join other ghosts hopelessly clinging to EZPass.

MIDDLE TOWNSHIP – It’s already been a scary Halloween for one family, as a bag of heroin was somehow mixed with candy handed to a boy at a Friday Halloween party. It was certainly fright night for mom, who spotted the odd bag after her kids went to a “Trunk or Treat.” NBC reports the dope was wrapped in a small plastic bag with a stamp of the popular comic book character “Deadpool.” The mom says: “When I saw ‘Deadpool,’ I was like, ‘What is that?’”  The baggie was promptly handed over to Cape May County officials, who now have to attempt to track its source down amid hundreds of kids in costumes and a nighttime parking lot of cars disguised in Halloween decorations. Another sobering reminder for parents: When the kids return tomorrow, don’t just scour the loot to sneak the “good candy.”

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MANTUA – Ghost hunters are giving 15 minutes of fame to this small Gloucester County town on this week’s Travel Channel episode of “Ghost Nation.” Paranormal detectives visited the Boise Avenue home of scriptwriter Mario Cerrito, because, as he tells the Courier-Post, his family heard disembodied voices, had kids’ toys inexplicably switch on, and saw “shadow people.” So, TV ghost hunters descended on Cerrito’s house with a 25-person crew, a van-load of electronic specter-detectors, and a cadaver-sniffing dog. Series celeb Jason Hawes calls this haunt one of his team’s “most puzzling cases,” but of course they solved the mystery. See how: Check your local listings this week.

STATEWIDE – It’s good to be a “former” politician. That’s according to the Asbury Park Press, which had some fun scouring through public salary data. It learned what many already know: Former politicians secure much more lucrative jobs, often with fat pensions. The newspaper reports a third of the 84 state lawmakers who have left office in the past 10 years have scored other public jobs — most with six-figure salaries. The unsurprising discovery: of the 28 ex-lawmakers who snared a government job, 23 — more than 80 percent — were paid more than $100,000. The big winner? Former Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, now president and CEO of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, now at $280,000 per year plus perks. Meanwhile, former state senator and Camden Mayor Dana Redd is now the CEO of the Rowan University/Rutgers-Camden Board of Governors, at $275,000 per year. No need to stop the presses here.

STATEWIDE - The Boy Scouts have got one thing right. No, definitely not those inelegant uniforms. Rather, the wisdom of being prepared. The thousands of New Jerseyans who were knocked sideways by Superstorm Sandy know well that even as seemingly simple a thing as having access to all important documents in the event of a storm, fire, flood or other devastating event is the first rung on the ladder to recovery. Just in time for the seventh anniversary of Sandy, NJ Spotlight reports the state Society of Certified Public Accountants has prepared a comprehensive disaster-recovery guide. It’s available free online and it’s got lots of useful info, including how to deal with insurance companies, how to avoid scammers and how to sort out the tax implications if you ever go through a disaster, which we hope you never do. But, just in case, get wised-up at NJ Spotlight.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

NEW YORK – There’s likely a food review written every second of the day, especially with Yelp making us all published critics. But an especially blistering New York Times review of Peter Luger Steak House has managed to make national news; the headline reads “Peter Luger Used to Sizzle. Now It Sputters.” Pete Wells writes: “Was the Caesar salad always so drippy, the croutons always straight out of a bag, the grated cheese always so white and rubbery? I know there was a time the German fried potatoes were brown and crunchy, because I eagerly ate them each time I went. Now they are mushy, dingy, gray and sometimes cold. I look forward to them the way I look forward to finding a new, irregularly shaped mole.” Wells adds: “Some things are the same as ever. The shrimp cocktail has always tasted like cold latex dipped in ketchup and horseradish. The steak sauce has always tasted like the same ketchup and horseradish fortified by corn syrup.” He concludes: “And after I’ve paid, there is the unshakable sense that I’ve been scammed.” Zero Stars.

GLENDORA, Miss. – Maybe the fourth time is the trick, as locals have erected, yet again, a monument to a black 14-year-old boy who was lynched by a white mob in 1955. Officials have dedicated, again, a monument to Emmett Till, after three previous monuments were stolen and/or riddled with bullets. The new monument weighs 500 pounds and is made of specially-designed hardened steel and covered with a thick acrylic panel that should “withstand a rifle round without damage,” according to the Emmett Till Memory Project. Uh, good news? What is happening here?

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 2017 that we were itching to know which towns in New Jersey have the most residents with sexually-transmitted diseases. The festering answer was available on NJ 101.5, which conducted a review of 40,000 STD cases in the state, ranking the “Top 50” towns and developing a nifty, interactive map to illustrate the rash of outbreaks. Hot spots for chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis? No. 5 is Newark, No. 4 is East Orange, No. 3 is Hopewell in Cumberland County, No. 2 is Clementon and No. 1 – with about 25 sore people per every 1,000 residents – Camden. State officials say about half of sexually-active people in New Jersey will get a STD by the time they turn 25. Time to wrap this up.

WORD OF THE DAY

Descry – [də-SKRY] - verb

Definition: To catch sight of, find out or discover

Example: I descried an association between my broken gutter and a huge puddle in front of my house.

WIT OF THE DAY

“As long as she thinks of a man, nobody objects to a woman thinking.” 

― Virginia Woolf

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

“I will be phenomenal to the women. I mean, I want to help women.”

- Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD

Soggy

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