**Due to a platform issue with YouTube, this morning's First News Video is temporarily unavailable.  You can view it on the NJ101.5 Facebook page.   

Here are the top New Jersey news stories for Friday:

⬛ Are NJ's rural counties really safer? Drug deaths say otherwise

Motortion GettyImages
Motortion GettyImages

It's said the opioid epidemic has no boundaries and does not discriminate.

But folks in New Jersey's rural areas may be more vulnerable to the drug dangers, statistics and advocates suggest.

Of the top five counties for drug deaths in the Garden State, four are considered to be at least 50% rural (less than 500 feet per square mile).

⬛ NJ hospitals make progress after crippling cyberattacks

Pascack Valley Medical Center, Capital Health East Trenton
Pascack Valley Medical Center (Hackensack Meridian Health), Capital Health East Trenton (Capital Health)

Two New Jersey health care providers say they have made progress towards restoring services and networks following cyberattacks over a week ago.

Access has been regained to EpicCare, the electronic medical record platform at Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood and Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, and other core clinical and business systems, according to a statement from Ardent Health Systems, which owns the two hospitals with Hackensack Meridian Health.

⬛ NJ teacher arrested for child porn accused of molesting student

teacher Julius Coaccioli facing more criminal charges (Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office, MCPO, Google Maps))
teacher Julius Coaccioli facing more criminal charges (Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office, MCPO, Google Maps)

A 55-year-old middle school science teacher in Edison arrested for child pornography months ago has been hit with more charges — including kidnapping and aggravated criminal sexual contact.

Julius Coaccioli, of Woodbridge, was now accused of having a sexual relationship with a juvenile male middle school student in 2013, Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone announced on Thursday.

The new charges were filed after investigators combed through a “voluminous amount of data” on electronic devices seized from the home of Coaccioli in late summer.

⬛ Amazon is changing ways you can pay for online purchases

Amazon app online shopping phone (Canva, Amazon)
Amazon app online shopping phone (Canva, Amazon)

Online retail giant, Amazon, has announced it will be stopping one method of paying early in the new year.

Venmo could no longer be added as a method on Amazon as of Thursday.

Only Amazon users who already have Venmo enabled in their virtual wallets could continue using it until Jan. 10, 2024, according to Venmo’s own website.

Without the PayPal-owned direct payment application, there were still several other options for Amazon customers.

⬛ NJ may add another sport to high school list, for girls only


It hasn't reached the end zone just yet, but flag football has taken another step closer to becoming an official sport at New Jersey high schools.

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association has given the green light to a pilot program for girls flag football.

The test run, during which the NJSIAA can examine the logistics of adding a sport to the high school roster, is set to last for two seasons: this spring and next.

NJ 'perv' teachers, coaches busted in the past two years

There have been a number of educators, coaches and private teachers facing criminal charges for sexual offenses around New Jersey, between 2023 and 2022 alone.

Gallery Credit: Erin Vogt

Real life Sopranos spots to visit in NJ

Since its debut 25 years ago, The Sopranos has lived on as a favorite among fans, old and new. While time has changed some of the New Jersey landscape, there's still plenty of spots that Tony visited, that you can, too.

Gallery Credit: Erin Vogt

Glossary of NJ winter weather words and phrases

Gallery Credit: Dan Zarrow


Start your day with up-to-the-minute news, traffic and weather for the Garden State.

New Jersey's First News with Eric Scott is the longest running news program in New Jersey. Eric Scott began hosting the program in 1991.

It airs live on New Jersey 101.5 each weekday morning from 5:30 - 6 a.m.

New Jersey's First News with Eric Scott is the winner of the prestigious National Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Newscast.

National Murrow Award Winner featured

Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at eric.scott@townsquaremedia.com

Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.

More From New Jersey 101.5 FM