Home Essex County 22 Montclair + Bloomfield News You Missed This Week

22 Montclair + Bloomfield News You Missed This Week

by Ainsley Layland
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Every week we bring you the highlights in the news, so readers can stay up-to-date on what is happening in Montclair + surrounding areas. Among the local headlines: the Montclair Sentinels and Reaching Out Montclair collaborated to give out 65 Christmas trees to Montclair residents; the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway are facing another 3% increase in tolls starting in January; the comic book shop East Side Mags celebrated its grand re-opening, and so much more. Keep reading for all the news you missed this week in Montclair, Bloomfield, + beyond in Essex County.

Best of Montclair 2021 — Winners ANNOUNCED!

mg winners

The wait is finally over: we have the winners for the Best of Montclair 2021! After weeks of voting and local businesses working hard for your support, we have finally closed our polls and have tallied the votes to see who has won the title, and of course the bragging rights of being the “best” in town. Click here for the full list.

Montclair Students Learning in Open-Window Classrooms Despite Winter Temps

public school

The Ivy at Chatham

Over concerns relating to COVID-19 and a lack of proper air filtration systems, students in Montclair Public Schools have been attending classes with windows thrown open wide, despite the winter weather. According to North Jersey, “Superintendent Jonathan Ponds said at a December school board meeting that he has implemented ‘an important strategy of being outside as much as we can,’ especially during lunch, when children are unmasked.”

Recently, the district set up tents where students eat if the “real feel” temperature, as determined by an administrator, is 40 degrees or warmer. Concerned parents are raising funds to place air purifiers throughout the district.

Pilot Dies in Plane Crash After Leaving Essex County Airport

plane crash

A twin-engine plane left the Essex County Airport in Fairfield on Saturday, December 11th, and experienced engine failure, resulting in a crash before reaching its destination, the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, per Patch. The pilot, Emanuel Vomvolakis, who died in the crash, was transporting medical supplies.

1 Injured + Heavy Damage in Montclair Building Fire

montclair fire department

On Wednesday, December 15th at 11AM, the Montclair Fire Department received a call reporting a fire at an apartment building on Walnut Street in Montclair. The fire was located in the first floor of the apartment building and resulted in “heavy fire, smoke and water damage to the first-floor apartment, smoke/water damage to the apartment below, and smoke damage to the apartment above”, according to Patch. Residents had self-evacuated before the fire department arrived.

2 Essex County College Students to Compete at Nationwide Academic Competition


Two Essex County College students, Karolina Kowal and David Alonge, have been named as the team to represent the college at the All USA-New Jersey Community College Academic Team. According to Tap Into, both students are also eligible for a number of national scholarships and qualify for the All USA National Academic Team.

Majority of Cats Adopted from Bloomfield Shelter Ahead of Holidays

The Bloomfield Animal Shelter held an adoption event last weekend and has since reported that a large majority of its available cats have been adopted. Attendees also donated supplies to help care for the remaining animals.

New Updates Released for NJ School Quarantines 

mask schools

For the first time since April, every New Jersey county now reports a “high” level of COVID-19, per NJ.com. These high levels have prompted schools to institute stricter rules related to students exposed to the virus. The new protocol in school districts is to require a 14-day quarantine to anyone who sat for at least 15 minutes within three feet from someone who tested positive for the virus. This is still required for the same students who test negative within those 14 days. 

NJ Parkway and Turnpike Tolls Increasing in New Year

nj tolls

Drivers on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway are facing another 3% increase in tolls starting January 1st, per NJ.com. The toll increase was instituted to “provide a stable funding source for capital needs,” Turnpike Authority spokesman Tom Feeney said. The last increase happened in September 2020.

11 High Rise Towers Taking Place of Previous Newark Ballpark Location 

high rise towers newark

A development called ‘CitiSquare’ is coming to the area where Newark Ballpark previously stood, according to Jersey Digs. May Newark Urban Renewal, LLC, submitted plans for the development, which will include 11 high-rise towers and 4,200 units, 5% of which will be affordable housing. “The site represents a significant development opportunity at a key location in the City,” a municipal report stated.“The property is a gateway to downtown and in close proximity to potential redevelopment sites along the waterfront and across the Passaic River in the Town of Harrison.” 

Essex County Holding Holiday Food Distribution 12/21

Human Food Needs Pantry

There will be a holiday food distribution event at Weequahic Park, Newark, on Tuesday, December 21st, per NJ.com. Turkeys and boxes of nonperishable food items will be distributed to families negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. and the Essex County Board of County Commissioners will attend the event, which starts at 9AM. 

No Vaccine Mandates for Children in New Jersey 

vaccine children nj

Gov. Phil Murphy announced there will not be plans to mandate children’s vaccinations, according to Tap Into. This announcement comes despite the rise in COVID-19 cases in the Garden State, which brings plans for mega vaccination sites to provide booster shots to the public. Murphy encouraged the public to get vaccinations, citing their safety and effectiveness. 

Trans-Siberian Orchestra Coming to Newark 12/22


The Trans-Siberian Orchestra, a Christmas progressive rock favorite, will perform two concerts in Newark on Wednesday, December 22nd, per Prudential Center.  The group will perform the classic show “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” at the Prudential Center at 25 Lafayette St. Tickets are for sale online for the 3PM and 8PM shows. 

New Gender-Neutral Bathroom Law Starting in Montclair 


A gender-neutral single-user bathroom law is active in Montclair as of Sunday, December 19th, reported Montclair Local. The ordinance was passed in June, along with other LGBTQ+ policies. Jason Gleason, executive director of the Montclair Center of Business Improvement District, said that Montclair is “a community that cares about the people that live within, that is inviting and inclusive, and takes care of itself and its people.” Many businesses have already re-labeled their single-user bathrooms as gender-neutral. 

Make Music Winter Coming Through Montclair 12/21


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A post shared by MONTCLAIR CENTER (@montclaircenter)

The fifth annual Make Music Winter is coming to Montclair again on Tuesday, December 21st, according to Montclair Center. This winter version of Montclair’s Make Music Day will feature a street parade of people all playing one of four different tracks from a composition on loudspeakers. The composition was written by Kline, who dedicated the piece to be played outdoors during December. Other performances and events are also scheduled for the day starting at 2:30PM. 

East Side Mags Celebrates Grand Re-Opening 


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A post shared by MONTCLAIR CENTER (@montclaircenter)

Comic book shop East Side Mags celebrated its grand re-opening last week. In a video posted by Montclair Center, the owner expressed gratitude for the 30+ people who helped him move locations and those who provided food and entertainment at the ribbon-cutting. East Side Mags is now located at 491 Bloomfield Ave. 

NJPAC Celebrating Kwanzaa 12/18


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A post shared by NJPAC (@njpac)

The New Jersey Performing Arts Center will hold a Kwanzaa celebration on Saturday, December 18th. NJPAC posted about this annual event which will include a virtual panel about social justice, dance classes, and a Kwanzaa artisan marketplace sale. 

Pills for COVID-19 Undergoing FDA Approval Process 

covid pills

Merck and Pfizer COVID-19 treatment pills are undergoing the approval process by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, reported Patch. Pfizer’s studies showed a 10-fold decrease in virus levels in those taking the drug and ideally reduce hospitalizations. Approvals are estimated to come by the end of the month, which will allow doctors in New Jersey to order the pills for their patients. 

Hip Hop Nutcracker Coming to Newark


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A post shared by NJPAC (@njpac)

As part of NJPAC’s annual Kwanzaa celebration, the Hip Hop Nutcracker is performing twice in Newark on Saturday, December 18th. The New Jersey Performing Arts Center posted a video of hip hop icon Kurtis Blow inviting the public to see the performance. Tickets are for sale online for the 2PM and 8PM shows.

Montclair Sentinels and Reaching Out Montclair Gift Christmas Trees to Community

christmas tree

The Montclair Sentinels and Reaching Out Montclair collaborated to give out 65 Christmas trees to Montclair residents, per Montclair Local. This was Reaching Out Montclair’s fourth annual tree distribution event, supported by entrepreneur Bobbi Brown. Many of the trees came from the Cub Scouts Pack 12 tree sale.  

Macaroni Kid Clifton-Montclair Dasher Lightshow Running Through January 2nd


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A post shared by We Are Montclair (@wearemontclair)

Macaroni Kid is offering 20% off tickets to their Dasher Lightshow in Newark. The link to purchase tickets was shared on Instagram last week. The show is running from now through Sunday, January 2nd from 5PM to 11PM.

U.S. DOL Seeking to Improve Garden State Unemployment System 


Two states, including New Jersey, will participate in a pilot program with the U.S. Department of Labor to improve the federal unemployment system after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to NJ.com. The State Labor Department said that the “Claimant Experience Pilot Program” is meant to provide “equitable and timely access to unemployment benefits for eligible workers, while rooting out identity theft and other fraud issues that have bogged down state unemployment systems throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.” The program, which is expected to start in early 2022, will include a more user-friendly system entry that previously became one of the largest issues for unemployed workers. 

Montclair Center Announces Local New Year’s Eve Events


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A post shared by MONTCLAIR CENTER (@montclaircenter)

If you don’t already have plans for celebrating the New Year, Montclair Center shared a few local options. “Where are you planning on ringing in the new year? Want to switch it up from previous years? Well you’re in luck! @fresco_da_franco@themchotel and  @justjakes_montclair are having special events/menus for New Years Eve! Details are posted on their websites. Make sure to make your reservations early since spots are limited!”

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