Snowflakes were reported seen in Essex County last weekend, signaling the first official snowfall of the year. It’s been an eventful week and we’ve gathered the latest local news roundup to keep you up-to-date. Among the headlines: two Elizabeth landmarks were destroyed in separate fires; Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia has stepped down to become the New Jersey State Assemblyman for the 34th district; and there’s a new butcher shop coming to Montclair. Read on for all the news in Montclair + beyond for the week ending January 14th, 2024.
Among the Headlines:
- Fire at Elizabeth Factory
- Montclair School District: No Staff Cuts + Selects New Leadership
- West Orange’s $3.5M Lottery Win Among NJ’s Largest in 2023
- Montclair’s Festive Three Kings Day Celebrated with Camel-Led Procession
- Martin Luther King March and Rally To Take Place on January 15th
- Bloomfield Mayor Steps Down to Begin State Assembly Position
- Two Elizabeth Landmarks Destroyed by Fires
- Proposal Considered to Reduce Voting Age in Newark School Elections
- New Jersey’s New Drug Law Removes Legal Risks for Harm Reduction Workers
- Alixon Collazos-Gill Sworn in as State Assembly Member for NJ’s 27th District
- Montclair Robotics Launches 2024 Season with FIRST Challenge Reveal
- Restore First Health Expands With Second Location in Bloomfield
- Ayr Wellness Hosts Free Expungement Event in Newark on MLK Day
- There’s a New Butcher Shop Coming to Montclair
- Newark Introduces ‘Hope Village 2’ to Address Unhoused Individuals
- Belleville + Nutley Residents Earn ‘Heroes’ Award
- Engaged Montclair Residents Lead Radio Free Montclair’s ‘Public Comment’
- GlassRoots Free Glassblowing Workshops Return for 2024
- Montclair Art Museum Honors 100 Years of ‘Century Black Art’
- New Jersey Devils Host “Devils Sweep the Deck Gala” to Benefit Youth Foundation at Prudential Center
- Brendan Gill Begins Fifth Term on Essex County Board of Commissioners
- Several Car Thefts + Attempted Vehicle Thefts in Bloomfield
- TSA Reports Increase in Firearms Seizures at Newark Liberty International Airport in 2023
A massive fire broke out at the historic Singer Sewing Machine Factory in Elizabeth, damaging three buildings and causing concerns of continued burning throughout the night on January 5th, according to NJ.com. Mayor Chris Bollwage expressed hopes of preventing further spread but stated that the fire remains uncontained. The burning structures, though not confirmed to house hazardous materials, are being monitored for air quality. Firefighters from Elizabeth and surrounding areas are actively fighting the fire that led to significant property damage. The cause of the fire remains unknown, and while it didn’t impact airport or commercial activities, the severity of the situation prompted extensive firefighting efforts.
Montclair School District: No Staff Cuts + Selects New Leadership
At Montclair’s Board of Education reorganization meeting, Business Administrator Christina Hunt announced no staff cuts for the current school year leaving attendees surprised, according to MontclairLocal. The district maintained a zero-debt service tax levy, avoiding additional taxes due to the bond referendum. Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Ponds credited Hunt’s financial management, ensuring staff retention and no tax levy increase beyond the typical 2%. Newly-elected President Melanie Deysher praised the board’s efforts, expressing relief for staff job security. Additionally, board leadership changed with Deysher elected as president and Mfreke Inyang as vice president.
West Orange’s $3.5M Lottery Win Among NJ’s Largest in 2023
As the New Jersey Lottery prepares for 2024, let’s take a quick look back at the fourth-largest prize awarded in New Jersey in 2023. On April 18th, 2023, the $1000 Day for Life grand prize was split between two lucky tickets in New Jersey and Tennessee, according to a press release. Each ticket holder received a prize of $3.5 million. This was the fourth-largest lottery win in New Jersey. The lucky ticket was sold at B&B Liquors in West Orange. The winning numbers for this draw were 08, 12, 16, 18, and 21, with a Cash Ball of 04.
Montclair’s Festive Three Kings Day Celebrated With Camel-Led Procession
A Three Kings Day celebration took place in Montclair last weekend, led by reenactors from Immaculate Conception Church, according to Patch. The event commemorated the visit of the three magi to the infant Jesus, following Catholic tradition. Featuring a town procession that included live camels, the celebration highlighted cultural traditions like gift exchanges by the magi and the symbolic Rosca de Reyes (King’s Cake) dessert, emphasizing the significance of Epiphany and leading up to Dia de la Candelaria (Candlemas Day) on February 2nd.
New Jersey’s New Drug Law Removes Legal Risks for Harm Reduction Workers
Newark’s “overdose response team” welcomes a new New Jersey state law signed by Governor Phil Murphy, expanding supplies available at harm reduction centers, per a press release. The legislation now permits the distribution of previously banned items like xylazine test strips, which is an animal sedative that has been used as an adulterant in the illicit drug supply. The legislation was sponsored by Senator Joseph Vitale and Assembly members Herb Conaway, Jr.Sadaf Jaffer, and Shanique Speight.
In Newark, a march and rally named the “Martin Luther King March and Rally for Black Liberation” is set to take place on January 15th at 2PM, at the Martin Luther King Statue at 495 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, according to Patch. Organized by the People’s Organization For Progress (POP), the event has been a tradition for 36 years to draw attention to persistent racial inequalities and systemic injustices faced by African Americans.
Bloomfield Mayor Steps Down to Begin State Assembly Position
We are honored to welcome Assemblyman Michael Venezia to the New Jersey General Assembly representing the 34th Legislative District and eagerly anticipate his positive impact during the 221st Legislative Session. pic.twitter.com/dPIjVaTY5i
— NJ Assembly Democrats (@njassemblydems) January 10, 2024
Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia has stepped down after over a decade of service, resigning to assume a new position as New Jersey State Assemblyman for the 34th district, according to MontclairLocal. Mayor Venezia, elected as Bloomfield’s youngest mayor in 2014, focused on improving municipal services, parks, infrastructure, and community events while tackling sustainability initiatives. His resignation prompted the Bloomfield Democratic Committee to nominate candidates to fill his mayoral term, a decision slated for consideration by the Township Council on January 22nd.
Two Elizabeth Landmarks Destroyed by Fires
Two massive fires broke out in Elizabeth damaging the Singer Sewing Factory and the century-old pizzeria known as Santillo’s, according to JerseyDigs. The Singer Sewing Factory, dating back to 1873, experienced significant damage on January 5th, affecting the million-square-foot complex and displacing other businesses located within the area. No injuries were reported as the property was vacant at the time. Across town, Santillo’s, a century-old pizzeria with an old pizza oven faced damage in the fire on January 6th, however, the damage may have room for recovery with updates to follow.
Alixon Collazos-Gill Sworn in as State Assembly Member for NJ’s 27th District
Alixon Collazos-Gill was sworn into office as a member of the New Jersey Assembly on January 9th, representing the 27th district according to Patch. The district encompasses Livingston, Millburn, Montclair, Roseland, and West Orange in Essex County, as well as Clifton in Passaic County. Alixon is a Montclair resident and senior partner at BGill Group specializing in Spanish-language media and political consulting with a focus on outreach to the Latino community.
Proposal Considered to Reduce Voting Age in Newark School Elections
The Newark City Council voted to lower the voting age to 16 in school board elections, becoming New Jersey’s first municipality to achieve this, according to The New York Times. Following Governor Murphy’s recent endorsement of the move, more than 7,000 16-and-17-year-olds will now have a say in local school matters. The ordinance is now in effect but it has not yet been determined whether 16-and-17-year-olds are eligible to run for the school board.
Montclair Robotics Launches 2024 Season with FIRST Challenge Reveal
Montclair Robotics at Montclair State University kicked off its 2024 season by revealing the FIRST challenge, engaging over 1,500 global teams, per MontclairLocal. The team was guided by four members. Over seven weeks, the team composed of 60+ students will collaborate in various divisions to design and program a robot.
Restore First Health Expands With Second Location in Bloomfield
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Restore First Health has opened its second New Jersey location in Bloomfield, at 300 Broadacres Drive, according to Patch. The medical practice, specializing in advanced in-home treatment of chronic wounds, signed a tenancy agreement for a 1,719-square-foot medical office lease. Working collaboratively with home health care providers, assisted living programs, hospital discharge planners, and families, Restore First Health aims to ensure seamless and effective treatment for patients. This expansion follows the company’s relocation from Cranberry to a larger space in East Windsor in 2023.
Ayr Wellness Hosts Free Expungement Event in Newark on MLK Day
Ayr Wellness and Blaze Responsibly will collaborate with The Newark Museum of Art for a free community engagement event on Martin Luther King Day 2024, per Patch. The event, part of Ayr’s Changing Legacies initiative, aims to assist individuals in obtaining expungements for past cannabis convictions following New Jersey’s Marijuana Decriminalization Law in 2021. Attendees can also access services like ID support, veteran’s resources, housing assistance, and job placement opportunities during the event, which coincides with the Broader Newark Art Museum’s Community Day.
A New Butcher Shop is Coming to Montclair
This February, a new custom whole livestock butcher shop, Montclair Meats, will open in Montclair at 151 Valley Road. The shop will sell ethically sourced meats, specializing in whole-livestock butchery. Some of its raw meat offerings include beef, pork, turkey, lamb, and chicken. The shop also features specialty salts, rubs, sides, prepared food options, and eventually, private dinners and educational workshops on butchery, sausage making, and charcuterie. Read on for more about the new butcher shop coming to Montclair here.
Newark Introduces ‘Hope Village 2’ to Address Unhoused Individuals
Newark introduced a dorm-style housing created from shipping containers to accommodate 20 individuals experiencing unhoused individuals, according to Patch. The housing is known as Hope Village II and is located at 51-63 Elizabeth Avenue. The initiative, marked by a ribbon-cutting ceremony, addresses the chronic need for housing in Newark, aiming to provide support, services, and pathways to permanent housing for its residents. The project is backed by city funding and partnerships to create a path toward stability for the unhoused population.
Belleville + Nutley Residents Earn ‘Heroes’ Award
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Anthony Del Tufo of Nutley and Susette Bato of Belleville were honored as “2023 Heroes of NJ-11” by US Representative Mikie Sherrill, according to a press release. Anthony was recognized for his act of kindness during a car fire, displaying leadership and ensuring safety, while Susette was recognized for caring for a disabled individual.
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Radio Free Montclair is set to launch Public Comment, a new monthly series featuring Montclair residents discussing pressing local issues, per MontclairLocal. The first episode airs on Sunday, January 14th from 10AM-11AM with Sustainable Montclair’s Anna Grossman, Montclair Mutual Aid and Friend of the Howe House, Aminah Toler, and creator of The Montclair Weekly, Mariana Horta as guests. Hosted by James Cotter, the series will cover various local topics including PILOTs, Lackawanna Plaza, Montclair Schools’ bond referendum, Woodman Field, and more.
GlassRoots Free Glassblowing Workshops Return for 2024
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Newark-based nonprofit GlassRoots is reintroducing two free workshops for local students in 2024: the Youth Entrepreneurship Spirit (YES), and the PRISM Club, per Patch. The YES program is open to Newark high school students and focuses on art and entrepreneurship. The goal is to teach glassblowing skills while providing lessons in maintaining a creative business. The PRISM Club is a Teen LGBTQ+ Art-Making Collective and welcomes youth aged 14-18 to explore various glassmaking techniques in a safe and inclusive space. Both programs run weekly from January to June 2024.
Montclair Art Museum Exhibit To Honors 100 Years of Black Art
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Montclair Art Museum (MAM) will launch the exhibition “Century: 100 Years of Black Art at MAM” in February, with the start of Black History Month, per MontclairLocal. The showcase, featuring over 70 works by 59 Black artists, is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind in MAM, reflecting the MAM’s commitment to celebrating the diversity of Black artists since the 1940s. Curated by Adrienne L. Childs and Niko W. Okoro and coordinated by Chief Curator Gail Stavitsky, the exhibition includes a catalog with essays on the historical and cultural context of Black art.
New Jersey Devils Host the “Devil Sweep the Deck Gala” to Benefit Youth Foundation at Prudential Center
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The New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center will host the “Devil Sweep the Deck Gala” on January 23rd, 2024 at 6PM, per the Devils Youth Foundation website. The event, aimed at supporting the Devils Youth Foundation, features curling and a casino night on the Devils’ home ice. Attendees, including players and legends, will participate in the festivities, and all proceeds will benefit the Devils Youth Foundation.
Brendan Gill Begins Fifth Term on Essex County Board of Commissioners
Brendan Gill, a lifelong Montclair resident, has commenced his fifth term on the Essex County Board of Commissioners after being sworn in at the board’s annual reorganization meeting on January 2nd, according to Patch. Brendan is a Democratic Party member and secured an at-large seat in the last November general election. He has been a vocal advocate for the Essex-Hudson Greenway and currently serves as the chair of the Essex County Anti-Gun Violence Committee.
Several Car Thefts + Attempted Vehicle Thefts in Bloomfield
A series of attempted and completed vehicle thefts occurred recently in Bloomfield, as reported by the Bloomfield police department, per Patch. Incidents involved damaged windows and ignition/steering columns, with some vehicles successfully stolen and later recovered in Newark. The incidents, including attempted theft on January 1st, 4th, and 5th, are currently under investigation by local authorities.
TSA Reports Increase in Firearms Seizures at Newark Liberty International Airport in 2023
TSA officers at Newark Liberty International Airport found 20 firearms at security checkpoints in 2023, up from 14 and 2022, according to Patch. Nationally, TSA detected 6,737 firearms at airports in 2023, a slight increase from 6,542 in 2022. Travelers are reminded that carrying firearms in carry-on luggage is not allowed, and they can only be transported in checked bags following specific guidelines. Violating these rules may result in federal civil penalties of up to $15,000, and individuals will lose Trusted Traveler Status and TSA PreCheck benefits.