Here are the top New Jersey news stories for Thursday:

⬛ Drug dealing NJ politician faces prison

NJ Flemington councilman guilty plea drug sales, Google Maps, Canva)

FLEMINGTON — An elected local official has admitted to selling illegal drugs to an undercover officer.

On Wednesday, Malik Johnston pleaded guilty to second-degree distribution of cocaine.

The 48-year-old Democrat has also been known as Pippin Folk, according to Hunterdon County Prosecutor Renée Robeson.

⬛ Male or female? NJ proposes new way to imprison trans inmates

NJ protest of trans inmates in women's prison (Canva, Townsquare Media)
(Canva, Townsquare Media)

TRENTON — Where to house New Jersey inmates who are transgender has become a contentious issue over the past few years — with no easy solution in sight.

In the summer of 2021, a policy required the Department of Corrections to house inmates based on their gender identity, New Jersey Monitor reported.

It was part of a case settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union, representing a trans inmate who said she dealt with discrimination, harassment and violence while being forced to live among male inmates.

⬛ $44K staff 'fun day' gets Newark schools dragged by lawmakers

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)(Allison James-Frison via Facebook)
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)(Allison James-Frison via Facebook)

NEWARK — Republican lawmakers in Trenton are blasting New Jersey's largest school district for hosting an expensive staff event while other school districts are struggling to cope with massive drops in state aid.

It's "disturbing" that Newark schools spent $44,000 on the June 1 event at Forest Lodge in Warren, said Assemblyman Alex Sauickie, R-Ocean.

That paid for 275 staff and 140 students to attend, according to an invoice published by TAPinto Newark. It featured food, a DJ, a rock-climbing wall, inflatable carnival booths, a police officer for security, and a rescue squad on standby.

⬛ NJ prisoners get a break with new plan launched by Gov. Murphy


NEWARK — Certain offenders in New Jersey are moving up in line to possibly receive forgiveness for their crime or a shortened prison sentence.

On Wednesday afternoon, to mark the Juneteenth federal holiday, Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order creating a new clemency program for granting legal relief to prisoners in a more accessible and equitable manner.

⬛ Record crowds close NJ beaches

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration

A lot of people couldn't wait to get the summer started down the Shore.

So many showed up that Island Beach State Park and Sandy Hook had to close because they were at capacity.

Most towns are reporting a sharp rise in beach badge sales.

The Shore is likely to be packed again this weekend as the school year comes to a close and New Jersey is in the midst of a heat wave.

If you want a spot on the sand, you better leave early.

Why Beach Tags Should Never Be Allowed In New Jersey

Plus why you might be part of the reason badges may never go away.

Gallery Credit: Mike Brant

These NJ Beach Towns Selected As Best In The State

Stacker analyzed data from the 2023 summer season to determine which New Jersey Beaches are the best in New Jersey. Here are the top 25.

Gallery Credit: Mike Brant

CHECK OUT: All the free beaches in New Jersey

The Jersey Shore is notorious for charging for access to the beaches. But there are a few that let you get in for free.

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