It’s been a hot week but the weather doesn’t stop Essex County. Every week, we cover the news in the Montclair and greater Essex County area. Among the headlines: Montclair residents offered refunds for pool memberships; Essex County restaurants honored by Wine Spectator; Essex County announces cooling centers to beat the heat wave; and so much more. Keep reading for all the news you missed this week in Essex County and beyond.
‘Sustain and Serve NJ’ to Receive $17.5 Million in Grants
Sustain & Serve NJ, a state-funded program to support restaurants and connect needy residents to meals, enters Phase 3 with $17.5 million assigned to non-profit organizations statewide. Per a press release from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, Sustain & Serve NJ launched during the pandemic as a $2 million pilot program to boost restaurants impacted by COVID and has grown into an over $50 million program that continues to bring much-needed food to people across New Jersey. Nine of the programs receiving funding serve Essex County residents, including Montclair-based Toni’s Kitchen.
Essex County Announces Cooling Center Locations
New Jersey is currently undergoing a dangerous heat wave with temperatures expected to hit 90 – 100 degrees over the next few days, triggering heat advisories in much of the state. Beyond discomfort, the skyrocketing temperatures can pose a serious health hazard. To help keep the community safe, local counties have established designated communal cooling centers in Essex County and beyond. If your air conditioning is broken, doesn’t work well enough, or you don’t have access to AC, click here to see where to find cooling centers in Essex County.
Mayfair Farms in West Orange Closes After 80 Years in Business
West Orange’s popular wedding and banquet hall, Mayfair Farms, has closed after eight decades in business. The owners shared the announcement earlier this month after closing shop on June 30th. Mayfair, located at 481 Eagle Rock Avenue in West Orange, was an iconic location known for having beautiful wedding receptions and events. Click here to see what we know.
American Dream Food Hall Opens
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The Food Hall at the American Dream Mall opened last week, with a variety of choices from gourmet to fast-casual. According to the Specialty Food Association, some of the vendors include Vinoteca, a self-serve wine- and -beer-tasting concept, Lady M crepes, Vanessa’s Dumplings, and more. The food hall totals 10,000 square feet and will have live music and games in the space.
North Jersey Restaurants Honored by Wine Spectator
Garden State residents are spoiled for choice when it comes to amazing food and drink. From dumplings to doughnuts, there is top-tier deliciousness around every corner. Trade publication Wine Spectator has long been the standard in assessing restaurant’s wine lists — and its awards are coveted prizes. The yearly Restaurant Awards are a chance for restaurants to show off their wine lists, and this year, there are plenty of North Jersey venues honored. Click here to learn more about the 2022 Wine Spectator honorees, which will be available in the August 31st issue of the magazine.
Essex County Ranks High in Yelp’s ‘Most Photographed’
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Several Essex County spots were included in Yelp’s recently released ’50 Most Photographed Businesses in North Jersey’ list. In fact, an Essex County venue was at the number one spot: the Prudential Center in Newark, home to the NJ Devils. Other Top 10 spots include Newark’s Tops Diner, ranked third; and Cuban Pete’s in Montclair, ranked sixth. To see the full list, click here.
Essex County Organizations and Municipalities Among Recipients of $9.4 Million for Water Quality Improvements
The City of Newark and the Hackensack River Keeper are some of the awardees of a $9.4 million grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to make water quality-related improvements. According to a press release from the NJDEP, many of the projects will help mitigate local flooding problems that are increasing due to more severe storms resulting from climate change. The City of Newark received $286,400 to build upon the momentum of past projects reducing the occurrence of harmful algal blooms through the continued use of ultrasonic equipment. Additional data will be collected to paint a comprehensive picture of the source of bloom outbreaks. The ultrasonic control system, which was installed with assistance from the DEP, has been effective in maintaining low levels of toxins associated with outbreaks.
NJ Devils to Feature Black-Owned Businesses
The NJ Devils and Prudential Bank have teamed up to support Black-owned businesses through the Devils Buy Black Program presented. This is the third year of the program, and it has expanded, according to TapInto. Black owned businesses can apply for their businesses to be featured on the Devils’ team helmets for a portion of the season. This season, Prudential Financial officials announced they will donate an additional 200 helmets and provide networking events and panels for over 100 Black-owned business leaders in Newark.
Limited Number of Monkeypox Vaccines Available in Montclair, Verona, and Cedar Grove
As monkeypox cases continue to rise, city officials in Verona, Montclair, and Cedar Grove advise that vaccines are available in limited numbers, according to Patch. Montclair Councilman Peter Yacobellis encourages residents who suspect they may have the virus to contact city health officials. The Montclair Health Department also serves the towns of Verona and Cedar Grove. According to NJ.com, there are over 40 total monkeypox cases in the state. The first case was detected on June 18th in Hudson County. With the increase of cases, the state plans to expand vaccine eligibility — right now, as of July 19th, it encompasses high-risk New Jerseyans and anyone who thinks they might have been exposed, according to Governor Murphy’s tweet.
Montclair Resident Publishes Memoir
CNN anchor and Montclair resident Zain Asher has published a book, per Montclair Local. The book is a memoir about Zain’s experience growing up in London in a Nigerian family. The book details her path from her London upbringing to becoming a CNN anchor.
Pool Woes Continue in Montclair, Refunds Available
Two of the three pools in Montclair Township have been closed this summer due to construction, and now, after public criticism, refunds are available to town residents, according to TapInto. The Essex and Nishuane pools are closed, while Mountainside Pool is open. Residents can use the Mountainside pool, but they can seek refunds from the city if they don’t plan to use that pool.
Essex County Bomb Squad Responds to Big Catch
A man magnet fishing in the Passaic River in Nutley made the catch of a lifetime earlier this week when he reeled in what was determined to be an unexploded military shell. The man was fishing near the border between Nutley and Lyndhurst near the DeJessa Bridge, according to TapInto. Emergency services were called, including the Essex County Bomb Squad, and the device was safely removed.
Millburn Teen Makes Documentary on the Invasion of Ukraine
Peter Ren of Millburn, a rising senior at Millburn High School, traveled to Poland in March to make a documentary about the invasion of Ukraine, per NJ.com. Peter’s documentary, The Cost of War, is an hour-long look at the impact of the Ukrainian people’s attempts to flee the conflict. The documentary will premier at this month’s Chicago Indie Film Festival.
Bruce Springsteen Welcomes Granddaughter
Jersey City firefighter Sam Springsteen and his partner welcomed a baby girl earlier this week. Lucky little Lily Harper Springsteen will have the best lullaby performances of any baby in New Jersey: her grandfather is The Boss, Bruce Springsteen. Patti Scialfa Springsteen shared the happy news in an Instagram post. Congratulations to the entire family!
Newark’s Uncle Willie’s Wings to Expand
According to Jersey Digs, Newark-based Uncle Willie’s Wings has plans to expand. Walter Green, the founder of Uncle Willie’s Wings, will open a more formal Uncle Willie’s Bar n Grill to a storefront at 113-115 Halsey Street in Newark. Walter also won a contest earning his business a spot in the new Junction at the Gateway, the food hall component of the new Gateway development in Newark.
Montclair PD to Host National Night Out on August 2nd
As part of the National Night Out events, the Montclair Police Department will take part, per TapInto. The event on August 2nd is a nationwide effort to connect citizens with law enforcement personnel in a casual setting. This year’s event will take place from 5PM to 8PM in Montclair, with roads closed on South Park Street and Church Street for citizens to meet with different departments, a variety of equipment, and visit vendors.
The Biggest New Jersey Hot Air Balloon Festival is Happening Next Weekend
From July 29th to July 31st, the New Jersey Lottery’s Festival of Ballooning is returning to Solberg Airport, located at 39 Thor Solberg Road in Readington, New Jersey. This is not only the largest summertime New Jersey hot air balloon festival, but according to the website, it’s also the largest hot air balloon festival in North America. 100 balloons will take flight for both morning (6:30AM) and evening (6:30PM) mass ascensions. The festival, which is separate from the balloon rides and requires independent admission, will also include music, amusement rides, family-friendly entertainment, food, and more. Click here to read more.
New Comedy Premieres in Montclair
Per Montclair Local, a new comedy show based on the state’s public records made its debut in Montclair this weekend. The show, called FOIA Love: A Comedy and Bluegrass Show About Public Records, was written by New Jersey native Curtis Raye. Curtis found his inspiration in records and written material throughout the state.
Partnership at Bloomfield Campus Helps Students Get Jobs
The Bloomfield campus of Universal Technical Institute (UTI) is the site of a new partnership with Gabrielli Truck Sales, per Patch. Students in the auto repair or diesel program are eligible to work part-time for the company during their studies, and then be considered for employment after graduation. Gabrielli Truck Sales has 19 facilities throughout the NYC metropolitan area.
Universal Pre-K Discussed for Montclair
According to Montclair Local, additional funding for pre-kindergarten education may result in universal pre-kindergarten offered in Montclair. The program is part of a statewide effort to provide pre-k to all New Jersey families by 2030. Montclair administrators attended a statewide training on July 12th.
Montclair Restaurant Serves Lunch to Food Pantry
One of Montclair’s favorite restaurants, Egan and Sons, made many people’s day on Thursday July 21st when the restaurant provided lunch to residents in line at the Human Needs Food Pantry. According to to Patch, the restaurant served sandwiches, lemonade, and snacks to patrons in line. Egan and Sons is known for its delicious hamburgers, and has an ongoing partnership with the Human Needs Food Pantry, where patrons can ‘buy a meal’ for $10 in support of the pantry.
Walking Tour of Montclair
The Montclair History Center announced a walking tour of Montclair, to take place on July 29th, per Baristanet. The tour will be a three-hour historical tour and food tasting of Lower Bloomfield Avenue. Tickets are required and the event is for participants age 15 and up. Pre-registration is required.
Maplewood Mural Invites Neighbors to Participate
A new community art project in Maplewood called Rivers ends this weekend, and invites adults and children to participate in making art. Neighbors could paint their own design or use one provided by the artists, according to Patch. The project is sponsored by the Springfield Avenue Partnership through the Neighborhood Preservation Program.
Spring Appeal Nets $65K for SOPAC
South Orange Performing Arts Center raised a total of $65,000 during its spring appeal. The funds raised will be used for HVAC improvements, flood barriers, and arts education programs, according to BaristaNet. The funds will also create a ‘SOPAC Silver’ program for midday performances geared toward seniors.
Montclair Kids Fish in Derby
Go Fish, a fishing derby for kids, was held on July 23rd in Montclair. Per BaristaNet, the event took place at Edgemont Park in Montclair and the pond was stocked with extra fish. The event was put on in a partnership of Montclair Police Athletic League (MPAL), Montclair Police Foundation, Montclair Anglers, Eureka Lodge #52, and the Policemen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) Local 53.