Home Essex CountyBloomfield 37 News Stories You Missed This Week in Montclair + Beyond

37 News Stories You Missed This Week in Montclair + Beyond

by The Montclair Girl Team
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Sparkling lights, snow flurries, and the chilling weather signal that the holiday break is approaching. Yet, there’s one thing that refuses to take a break — the ever-rolling news cycle. It’s been a week full of headline-worthy happenings, and we’ve got the round-up of the latest local news to keep you in the know. Among the highlights: a roaming bull caused delays on NJ Transit Trains; Montclair’s MC Hotel introduces a new chef and menu; and guide dogs and puppies visit Montclair. Read on for more news from Montclair, Bloomfield, and beyond for the week ending December 17th, 2023.

Best of Montclair 2023 — Winners ANNOUNCED!

best of montclair girl 2023 winners

The wait is finally over: we have the winners for the Best of Montclair 2023! After weeks of voting and local businesses working hard for your support, we have finally closed the 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. Read on to see if your favorites won! Congrats to all the winners and nominees.

Newark School Advances to National STEM Contest Finals

Dr. E. Alma Flagg Elementary School in Newark has advanced to the final stage of the 14th annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow STEM competition, according to Patch. The nationwide contest encourages students in grades 6–12 to utilize STEM to develop innovative solutions for local community issues, problem-based learning, environmental stewardship, and entrepreneurship. The competition promotes hands-on learning, making STEM concepts more tangible and highlighting their real-world applications.

Vegan Restaurant Open in Montclair

As plant-based dining gains popularity, finding diverse vegan options can remain a challenge for many. Newark-based fast-casual restaurant Brick City Vegan recently opened at 362 Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair. Essex County entrepreneur Adenah Bayoh is behind this creative concept, which features modern takes on classic Southern dishes in addition to standbys like grain bowls and salads. Read on to learn more about Brick City Vegan, now open in Montclair.

Children + Families Recieve Gifts At Local Hospital in Newark

Newark Beth Israel Medical Center recently hosted a holiday event for roughly 120 students from more than 75 families in the Newark Public School District, according to Patch. Families experienced an afternoon of music, a magic show, and photo opportunities with Santa and Mrs. Claus in their Christmas sleigh. As stated in a hospital news release, Newark Beth Israel staff annually commit to bringing Holiday Cheer to a chosen group of Newark students, where employees each select a student and purchase a gift from their wish list. Additionally, they received a variety of gifts, such as toys, bikes, clothes, and coats.

Bull Roaming on Newark Tracks Causes Delays for NJ Transit Trains


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A loose bull was spotted on the tracks at Newark Penn Station on December 14th. The animal wandered along the tracks as passengers watched from the platform above. Trains experienced delays of up to 45 minutes. The bull was rescued from Skylands Animal Sanctuary located at 50 Compton Road in Wantage, New Jersey. We posted all about it on our Instagram.

Remembering Montclair Police Chief Thomas Russo

Per Montclair Local, the late retired Montclair Police Chief Thomas J. Russo was honored by both the Montclair Police and Montclair Fire departments following his passing last Thursday. Funeral services took place at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Oratory on 94 Pine Street, with a tribute procession passed beneath a large American flag raised between two fire trucks. Chief Russo devoted 42 years of service to the Montclair Police Department, commemorated by a procession that included a salute from officers as it drove past the Montclair Police headquarters.

Filming Was Scheduled In Newark This Week

movies filmed essex county nj

Several streets in Newark were closed on Thursday, December, 14th, and early Friday, December 15th due to a scheduled filming by a production company, according to Patch. The list of street closures was Halsey Street, Bleeker Street, Linden Street, Warren Street, Prudential Drive, Cedar Street, and New Street. The name of the production company and/or project involved in the filming is not currently available.

Popular Bloomfield Charity Race Secures 5-Year Sponsorship

A popular local charity run known as the Tom Fleming Sunset Classic, recently announced that the ShopRite in Brookdale is committing to a five-year title sponsorship of the annual race, according to Patch. The sponsorship supports the Vocational Educational Special Training (VEST) program at Bloomfield High School and provides outreach for developmentally delayed individuals aged 15 to 21 to become more independent and employable.

Amtrak Stations to Debut in Essex County for Commuters by 2028

Essex County could welcome two new Amtrak stations as early as 2028. A project between the Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority and Amtrak explores the possibilities of connecting northeastern PA to the NYC area through Essex County. This project will connect Montclair and Newark to New York City by train and develop new stations in spots like Scranton and Mount Pocono. Read on to learn about Essex County’s new Amtrak stops and all the trips you can take with them.

Livingston Woman’s Story: From Teen with Autism To Teacher

Thalia Morsillo is a teacher in the Fairfax County public schools in Virginia and was diagnosed with autism at two years old. Per Patch, Thalia’s cousin, Dr. John Fortunato, a professor at Fordham University, wrote a book about her story called Miracle of Effort: Thalia’s Autism Journey. The book shares the journey of Thalia being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at a young age and her journey of graduating from Livingston High School in 2015, then college, and later becoming an elementary school teacher. The book guides readers through the different stages of a child’s life, exploring experiences, emotions, challenges, sacrifices, and decisions.

Ascend, Montclair’s Only Cannabis Dispensary is Relocating to Morris County

Since the 2021 legalization of marijuana in New Jersey, and the start of adult-use sales in 2022, cannabis has become a popular tool for health, wellness, and recreation. Ascend Cannabis Montclair, a vertically integrated cannabis multi-state operator (MSO), provides high-quality cannabis products. Located at 395 Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair, Ascend was a go-to locale for anyone looking for a comfortable, familiar, and easy experience — whether you’re new or familiar with the cannabis game. We recently found out that Ascend will be moving its Montclair location to the Morris County town of Wharton, citing “oversaturation” in Montclair as the reason. Read on to learn more about Ascend and the Montclair location’s move to Northwest New Jersey.

Former Daikichi Chef To Lead De Novo’s New Sushi Bar


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De Novo, a European pub located at 275 Bellevue Avenue in Montclair, has introduced a sushi bar led by former Daikichi chef Kenny Mar, according to Montclair Local. Daikichi was a Japanese restaurant located at 608 Valley Road in Montclair and a local favorite for 35 years before its closing in September 2023. Now, the sushi can be found at De Novo.

Community Gathers to Light Menorah + Celebrate Chanukah in Montclair

A lively crowd gathered at The Wellmont Arts Plaza in Montclair to celebrate the Chanukah Fest and Menorah Lighting on December 11th, according to Montclair Local. Live performances, dancing dreidels, hot latkes, doughnuts, and the menorah lighting were some of the event highlights. Mayor Sean Spiller was in charge of lighting the menorah.

The MC Hotel is Home to This Restaurant + Rooftop Bar in Montclair

allergory restaurant alto rooftop bar montclair mc hotel owner

Photo Credit: The MC Hotel

As the winter chill is starting to hit the air and families gather for the holidays, a night out for a warm meal is a must. Hungry Montclair residents can look no further than Allegory Restaurant, located inside The MC Hotel at 690 Bloomfield Avenue. The restaurant is known for delicious appetizers and twists on traditional Mediterranean dishes; not to mention it’s also home to the only rooftop bar in town, Alto, which features signature cocktails, small bites, and a stunning view of the New York City skyline. Read on to learn more about the restaurant’s newly hired chef and relive the five-course experience MG got the scoop on.

Federal Probe Initiated Into Alleged Discrimination at Rutgers Newark in Isreal-Palestine Conflict

Federal authorities launched an investigation related to discrimination at Rutgers University in Newark as tensions continue to rise surrounding the Isreal-Hamas conflict, according to Patch. On December 11th, the US Department of Education (DOE) commenced an inquiry into claims of “discrimination involving shared ancestry” at the university in Newark. The intent behind the investigation remains undisclosed at this time.

New Mediterranean Restaurant, Rumi Café + Grill, Open in Bloomfield 


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Per Patch, a new Mediterranean restaurant, ‘Rumi Café And Grill’ recently opened at 265 Glenwood Avenue in Montclair. The restaurant is in the space of the former Glenwood Diner. The menu at Rumi Cafe and Grill is inspired by the rich culinary traditions of countries like Greece, Turkey, and Lebanon.

Two Bloomfield Youth Baseball Teams Honored For Championship Wins

Per Patch, the Bloomfield Town Council recognized two local youth sports teams at the December 11th meeting: the Bloomfield 9U Beasts Travel Baseball Team, and the Bloomfield 11U Tigers Travel Baseball Team. The Beasts secured the USABL championship by defeating the Wayne Warriors Team on November 3rd, while the Tigers clinched a fall league championship by overcoming the Rockland Elite Baseball Club in West Haverstraw, New York on November 4th.

Newark Winter Village Returns For 2023


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A “winter wonderland experience” in Newark that features ice skating, private heated igloos, go-karts, and a marketplace for holiday shopping has returned on November 25th, 2023, according to Patch. The events are held at Mulberry Commons Park which is located just outside the Prudential Center. All events will be available through January 7th, 2024.

Apprenticeships Help Essex County Workers Develop Construction Careers

Per Patch, Labor Advocates, led by Pathways to Apprenticeship New Jersey (P2ANJ) and Essex County Board of Commissioners President Wayne Richardson, gathered at the Essex County Hall of Records to emphasize the significant economic opportunities and intergenerational wealth-building potential in the construction industry for Essex County residents. The November 7th event held in recognition of National Apprenticeship Week focused on highlighting the value of pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs as essential pathways into the building trades industry. Speakers underscored the importance of such programs in facilitating entry and success in the construction field.

Reese Witherspoon Gives Virtual Reading to Kids at West Orange Elementary School 


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According to Patch, well-known actor and author Reese Witherspoon recently surprised West Orange elementary students with a virtual reading of her children’s book, “Busy Betty and the Circus Surprise.” The story follows the adventures of Busy Betty who encounters a surprise circus in town and navigates through themes of curiosity, spontaneity, and unexpected experiences.

Historically Low Homicide Rates Recorded in Essex County

Essex County is experiencing the lowest homicide rate in decades with a 27 percent drop in homicides over the past year, according to Patch. As reported by local police departments in Essex County, 57 homicides have been recorded so far in 2023. In 2022, 78 homicides had been recorded.

Brookdale Park’s New Pickleball Courts Open + Quickly Close

pickleball courts

In November, new pickleball courts opened at Brookdale Park, according to Montclair Local. However, people began playing on the pickleball courts before the paint on the surface was cured, causing the court’s blue paint to run. Last Thursday, the county closed them. There is currently no information regarding the reopening date of the pickleball courts.

Nine Community Groups In Montclair Seek CDBG Funds In 2024

The Montclair Town Council recently discussed applications for the 2024 Community Development Block Grants Program (CDBG), according to Patch. Planning Director Janice Talley reported on nine applications from local community groups seeking funding for neighborhood revitalization through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development-administered program. Council members were tasked with evaluating proposed projects, including enhancements to Cornerstone House, to prioritize applications for potential CDBG funds in 2024.

Montclair Girls Basketball Advances to Super Essex Conference Colonial Division

The Montclair High School girls’ basketball team is moving up to the Super Essex County Colonial Division to reach continued success with a more experienced roaster, according to Montclair Local. Previously sharing the SEC Independence Divison crown with Irvington, the team finished last season with a 16-10 record, reaching the state playoffs but exiting in the first round. The Mounties achieved success with an underclassmen roaster, with nine returning players for the upcoming season.

Guide Dogs + Puppies Visit Montclair


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Montclair recently welcomed guests from The Seeing Eye, a Morristown-based nonprofit, featuring guide dogs and puppies, according to Patch. The organization hosted a film screening on November 16th where attendees had the opportunity to preview The Seeing Eye’s newest video, “From Puppy to Partner.” Additionally, the Judy Weston Garden at Watchung Park began a gathering space for dog lovers on November 18th, providing educational background on The Seeing Eye’s mission, featuring volunteer puppy raisers, demonstrations by Seeing Eye Apprentice Instructor Daniel Hedden, and a firsthand account from Seeing Eye dog recipient Jessica Calvo-Varela.

Education Foundation Will Honor Three Newark Community Members

The NTU Education Foundation will honor three community members for their contributions to Newark students at the annual Albert Shanker Award Dinner, according to Patch. The 2024 Albert Shanker Scholarship Awards and Hall of Fame Induction are scheduled for Wednesday, May 8th at 6PM at the Holiday Inn Banquet Hall on 160 Frontage Road in Newark. The awards that will be presented include the Hall of Fame Award for Robert John Braun, the Legacy Award for Mary Bennett, and the Community Hero Award for Bashir Akinyele.

Inaugural Concert Showcases Performance by Pride Choir


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A newly established Pride Choir performed “Singing with Pride” at its inaugural concert on December 2nd, according to Montclair Local. The choir was formed by Union Congregational Church‘s co-music director, John David Whitener, and communications coordinator, Kim Crabtree, in partnership with Out Montclair. This LGBTQ+ community choir is dedicated to promoting inclusivity and diversity through the power of music.

$750K Funding Aimed at Alleviating Homelessness in Northern New Jersey

A Newark-based nonprofit is set to distribute over $750,000 to 12 North Jersey organizations focused on homelessness reduction through shelter programs, according to Patch. The funds will be sourced from BRIDGES/Community and Culture funding, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, and the New Jersey Office of Homelessness Prevention. The funds will support shelter services across Bergen, Essex, Passaic, Hudson, Sussex, and Warren counties.

Federal Government Allocates $6.71M to 17 New Jersey Towns to Reduce Traffic Fatalities

traffic fatalities montclair

The US Department of Transportation granted $817 million in Safe Streets and Road for All grants, with $6.71 million for 22 New Jersey cities and municipalities, according to NJ.com. Jersey City had the largest grant of $1.004 million, followed by Newark with, $800,000. This funding is to decrease pedestrian and bicyclist deaths and stems from the November 2021 $2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure act.

Investigation Underway After Pedestrian Hit in Crosswalk

An investigation is underway after a pedestrian was struck Monday evening in Montclair at the intersection of Bellevue and North Mountain Avenues, per Montclair Local. The pedestrian was crossing in the crosswalk, according to Stephanie Egnezzo, supervisor of the Montclair Police Department’s traffic bureau. The pedestrian was transported to a hospital with non-fatal injuries.

Expansion Plans for Montclair Kimberly Academy Move Forward

The Montclair Zoning Board of Adjustment granted site approval for Montclair Kimberly Academy’s (MKA) expansion project at 12-36 Loyld Road, according to Patch. The school plans to renovate its STEM center and extend the building, adding about 8,850 square feet of space. The facility has classrooms, meeting rooms, offices, labs, and other amenities catering to science, technology, engineering, and math programs.

Mittens on Maple: Loopwell Gathers Warmth for a Cause Community Holiday Drive to Help Those In Need


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In the spirit of giving, Loopwell will launch its second annual Mittens On Maple community holiday drive. According to a press release. Montclair residents can donate mittens, gloves, hats, and scarves that will be displayed on a mitten wall for the community to take free of charge on Christmas morning. These items will be placed on the fence at Glenfield Park on December 24th by Loopwell Founders, Debbie and Sean Looney and their family. For more information on how to get involved, visit Loop’s website.

Charity Basketball Game in Newark Will Raise Funds For Scholarships

The Patrick O. Council Civic Association supports the Brick City Showdown High School  Basketball Classic 2023 at Essex County College from December 15th through the 17th, according to Patch. The event aims to gather top Newark basketball players and raise funds for scholarships. Participation was received from 30 high schools including Roselle Catholic and The Patrick School.

Nonprofit Zufall Health Unveils New Building in West Orange


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Nonprofit organization Zufall Health has opened its new West Orange facility located at 49 Mount Pleasant Avenue. According to a press release, the building will replace Zufall’s modest Northfield Avenue operations established in 2014, the impressive new structure consolidates all West Orange activities under one roof, including: medical, dental, and behavioral health services, laboratory services, patient support and education, a demonstration kitchen, training, and administrative space. This expansion will allow Zufall to better respond to the surging healthcare needs of the community’s low-income population. The health center projects a 48 percent increase in West Orange patients served in the building’s first year of operation.

Bloomfield Council Approves Multiple Town Ordinances

The Bloomfield Township Council approved several ordinances passed by a unanimous vote on second reading at the December 11th council meeting, per Patch. The ordinances involve salaries, parking, garbage/yard waste, sewer connections, pet waste, and wildlife feeding.

Montclair’s Five-Year Plan Takes From Through Strategic Planning Forums

Montclair’s final Strategic Planning Forum meeting took place on December 11th  to discuss specific goal areas intended for achievement in Montclair’s schools over the next five years, according to Montclair Local. Allison Silverstein, president of the Montclair Board of Education, as well as parents, students, teachers, and community stakeholders, proposed ideas that will serve as the district’s guiding principles for the next five years.

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