Every week we bring you the highlights in the news, so you can stay up-to-date on what is happening in Montclair. Among the local headlines — Queen Latifah received the COVID-19 vaccine in Essex County, the Montclair Literary Festival ‘Global Voices’ continues this weekend, Turtle Back Zoo dedicated the new Bald Eagle exhibit, and so much more. Keep reading for all the news you missed this week in Montclair, Bloomfield, + Essex County:
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West Orange Scores an ‘A’ in Niche‘s Best Places to Live in NJ Study
West Orange just missed being ranked among the top 10 communities to live in Essex County, according to a statewide study by Niche.com just released this week, Tap Into reports. West Orange ranked 11th in Essex County in the Niche.com rankings of the Best Places to Live in New Jersey. Overall, the township was rated No. 129 in the state. Breaking down the categories, West Orange got an overall grade of A from Niche.com, an A+ for the Diversity category, A for Public Schools and Good for Families, and an A- for Nightlife.
Essex County Welcomes Queen Latifah at Vaccine Center
Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka welcomed Queen Latifah, an Essex County native, to the vaccination site located at Essex County College on Tuesday, March 9th. During the visit, Queen Latifah shared why it is important to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, per Baristanet. “We should do what we have to do to end this pandemic and this vicious virus. Every time I go to work, I feel like I am responsible for hundreds of people’s lives. If I don’t go to work, they don’t go to work. If I get sick, I’m concerned about bringing things home to my family.” Queen Latifah said. “This shot in the arm is here to help our bodies fight this thing. I want to get on with the business of living life. This is about family and being able to spend treasured time, precious time with one another. Getting the vaccine is one big step toward that.”
Restaurant Revitalization Fund to Help Businesses Stay Open
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund is anticipated to open soon through the Small Business Association, reported SAX. This program aims to provide restaurants, breweries, food trucks, and other food and drink vendors with funds to cover their lost revenues without the need to pay it back. For those who were left out of the Paycheck Protection Program, this will have a great impact and allow more businesses to stay open. Funds will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Essex County Seniors Receive Free Bus Rides To Get Vaccines
Essex County is trying out a new program in an attempt to help seniors without transportation to get a COVID-19 vaccination in Newark, East Orange, Orange, Irvington, Bloomfield, and Belleville, per Patch. Up to 500 senior citizens are bused to vaccination centers to get inoculated each week. According to the county spokesperson, “The pilot senior busing program is run in conjunction with municipal health officers. Any senior who wants to participate should contact the health office in the municipality where they reside. The health office then informs us how many seniors they are bringing and we work out the logistics.”
Former Montclair High School Student Charged in Capitol Attack
A 19-year-old college freshman, Elias Irizarry, is charged with storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6th with two other young men, per NJ.com. Elias Irizarry is a graduate of Montclair High School, and the son of Vincent Irizarry, a longtime soap opera star. Irizarry was chairman of the Essex County Teenage Republicans while at Montclair High School. He is currently a student at The Citadel, a military university in Charleston, South Carolina. Irizarry was identified to the FBI by members of a Civil Air Patrol unit to which he is active.
Newark Man Charged with Stealing Package in Bloomfield
On Sunday, March 14th authorities arrested a man for stealing packages in Bloomfield, per RLS Media. According to police, officers responded to the area of Second Street on reports of package theft. Officials found the man in question, Jose Perez, with the stolen items on the railroad tracks. The package contained Bath and Body Works lotion valued at $190.
Mental Health Initiative Launching at Montclair High School
On Thursday, March 25th the Montclair High School community is invited to join a virtual information session to learn more about the JED High School, launching at Montclair High School. This program is a comprehensive mental health initiative and is the result of a collaboration between The Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence (MFEE), The Jed Foundation, and Jared’s Fund. This virtual event is open to students, caregivers, and community members interested in learning more about the initiative. The Jed Foundation is one of the country’s leading organizations protecting teen emotional health and suicide prevention. Registration is now open.
Essex County Shares Outrage: ‘We Stand With The Asian Community’
Local leaders and residents alike have expressed broken hearts, anger, and sadness in the wake of shootings that claimed at least eight lives in Georgia on Tuesday. According to authorities, a gunman opened fire at three massage parlors across the metro Atlanta area, per Patch. The gunman reportedly admitted to the killings and blamed the massage parlors for fueling his sex addiction. While a direct link to racial motivations has yet to be officially declared, advocates have since expressed fear in the wake of the shootings, and have pointed to a reported rise in anti-Asian violence since the pandemic began. To read The Montclair Girl’s official statement + ways to further support the Asian community, click here.
Male Injured in Shooting on Avon Avenue in Newark
Local officials are investigating the motive behind a shooting that took place near 249 Avon Avenue in Newark in the evening of Tuesday, March 16th, per RLS Media. Officers responded to reports of gunfire in the area and located a man suffering a bullet wound in the leg. He was taken to University Hospital for treatment.
Montclair Literary Festival ‘Global Voices’ Continues This Weekend
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This weekend authors continue to speak about their books at Succeed2gether’s Montclair Literary Festival Global Voices. Starting at midday on Sunday, March 21st there are a host of free events, culminating in the final event featuring Alan Cumming who will be speaking with Scottish-American writer Douglas Stuart, about Stuart’s Booker-Prize winning novel, Shuggie Bain. Tickets are $20 and include a signed copy of the book, or $10 to attend the online event only.
Montclair Town Hall Holds Moment of Silence for COVID-19 Victims
In a virtual town hall held on Wednesday, March 16th, Councilor At Large Peter Yacobellis opened the presentation portion of the town hall by holding a moment of silence for the 68 Montclair residents who died from the virus since the pandemic began, per Baristanet. He also announced that the council passed a proclamation declaring March 9th COVID-19 Heroes Day to honor essential workers who have given their all during the pandemic. In addition to these commemorations, he shared information about obtaining the COVID-19 vaccine in the area.
Montclair Residents Evacuated From Apartment Fire
Authorities evacuated an apartment building on Mission Street in Montclair after a two-alarm fire broke out on Wednesday, March 16th around 6:30 PM, reported Patch. The Montclair Fire Department arrived at the scene to discover the fire was located on the first floor, but it had made its way into the floor and wall voids and spread to the other floors, causing further damage. Residents were evacuated and the department extinguished the flames.
Montclair Council Extends Rent Increase Moratorium
On Tuesday, March 15th, the Montclair Town Council passed Resolution R-21-046, which will extend the rent increase moratorium through June 30, 2021. According to Baristanet, Montclair Township Council passed Ordinance O-20-08 at the May 19, 2020, Council meeting which initially put the moratorium in place due to financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This prevents any increase in what landlords can charge their tenants in all residential rental units.
Belleville Men Charged with Store Armed Robbery in Bloomfield
Local officials arrested two Essex County men who were charged with robbing a store in Bloomfield on Wednesday, March 10th, per RLS Media. Bloomfield Officers responded to the report of an armed robbery at 73 Belleville Avenue, where a Krauszers Food Mart is located, and apprehended the two men. Police report that Ethan Lozada, 20, and Anthony Dagata, 21, both of Belleville, were taken into custody and charged with the crime.
Essex County Turtle Back Zoo Dedicates New Bald Eagle Exhibit
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On Wednesday, March 17th, a new Bald Eagle Exhibit opened at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo. Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced the opening and also welcomed Freedom, a 4-year-old Bald Eagle who was rescued in Minnesota, to the Turtle Back animal family, reported Tap Into. “We are pleased to open a new and improved Bald Eagle Exhibit in our Wild New Jersey area. This will enhance our visitors’ experience and provide them with a better viewing area to see the bald eagles,” DiVincenzo said. “Welcoming Freedom as the newest member of our animal family displays the important role that zoos have in conservation efforts and raising awareness about the dangers that threaten wildlife and the environment.”
Verona to Launch New Emergency Alert System
The Township of Verona is launching a new emergency and community alert notification system called Alert Verona. The new system can send updates via text, voice call, social media, email, and the Smart911 app. The hope is that this will alert residents on a more widespread basis. NIXLE will be phased out by Friday, April 16th. Residents are encouraged to register their phones and email addresses at AlertVeronaNJ.org as soon as possible.