Friday, June 27, 2014

MMS Principal to Leave for Passaic, Parts of Orange and South Orange to Lose Power

Jeffrey Truppo, the principal of Maplewood Middle School, has announced his resignation from the South Orange Maplewood School District. Truppo will become the Director of Elementary and Secondary Education in Passaic, Passaic County.

Truppo issued the following letter to parents:
"The purpose of this letter is to inform you of my resignation as Principal of Maplewood Middle School. Since joining the Maplewood Middle School faculty in January of 2009, I have been privileged to learn alongside our community and engage in discussions about what constitutes an excellent middle school experience. As I prepare for another position in a different school district, I continue to believe that MMS is one of the most thoughtful communities an educator will ever encounter. When we speak about school preparing students for life, we must also consider the way in which a school community operates, and how the way we go about our business can influence students. At MMS, families and staff have demonstrated interest and action for students and families in need. Community members have shown a concern for the learning of all students, and worked to support and enhance the classroom learning experience. I believe that students leave MMS in 8th grade not just prepared academically, but aware that their middle school experience was created by their community, and they are better for it. I will be at MMS working on my usual summer responsibilities until the middle of August. There will be communication to you from our central office administration regarding the search for a new MMS Principal. As always, please contact me with any questions pertaining to your child and their MMS program, and enjoy the summer. Thank you for your interest and support".

PSE&G has announced that electricity will be shut down in parts of South Orange and Orange. South Orange Village reports that "planned power outages will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for some residents, and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. for others". Affected areas include the southern part of Orange's Seven Oaks Neighborhood, and the Montrose and West Montrose sections of South Orange. A map is available on

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Donna Smith to Run for BOE

Donna Smith, a South Orange resident, has announced that she will run for Board of Education in November. Smith issued the following press release on Monday.

"Donna Smith announced today her candidacy for the South Orange-Maplewood School District (SOMSD) Board of Education (BoE) to strengthen the leadership at the District level. Smith has been actively involved in the school community for more than 15 years ranging from PTA volunteer to leadership roles on BoE committees. Smith, who filed for office last week, is seeking one of three open seats on the BoE. 

“I know how things work in our District—who the participants are, how the funding works, and how the support organizations and volunteers work cooperatively with the schools to maintain our academic excellence,” Smith said. “I will ensure we move forward as a District with an educational experience that is well rounded and beneficial to all our children.” 

A South Orange resident for 24 years, Smith is a principled activist known for working hard on common sense approaches that provide the most robust educational program possible for every student. A passionate advocate for the students in our district, Smith spearheaded two parent groups, “Levels Can Work” and “Group for Objective for Academic Leveling,” which challenged the BoE and school administration to maintain high standards and rigorous curricula at the middle schools. As a representative of “Levels Can Work,” she was asked to participate in the District’s “Task Force on Excellence and Equity” charged with recommending strategies to increase student access to rigorous coursework. 

“My primary priorities are successful implementation of the International Baccalaureate at the middle schools to meet established goals; ensuring strong fiscal oversight and prudent allocation of SOMSD resources to provide the most robust educational curriculum possible; holding a strategic, long-term perspective that keeps in mind the entire K-12 program; and implementing a strong Gifted & Talented program,” Smith added. 

Given SOMSD’s severe fiscal constraints, she does not believe that the International Baccalaureate should be implemented at the high school level at this time. Rather, the District must concentrate on preserving high standards and a wide variety of course offerings at the high school, and expanding the curriculum to incorporate a more global element. She also wants to hold the Administration to its promise to continue providing more access to honors and AP classes at the high school, by improving the methods by which students are assigned to such classes and making the system more transparent. 

Smith has extensive volunteer experience in support of SOMSD schools. She has held numerous positions in the PTAs and HSAs of the district, from co-president of the South Mountain PTA and newsletter editor at South Orange Middle School, to head of the directory committee at Columbia High School. She also was co-president of Presidents’ Council for two years. She participated in the SOMSD’s Strategic Planning program, was a member of the SOMSD-appointed committee to hire two assistant principals for elementary schools as well as committee to hire the district’s physical education coordinator. 

Her three children attended schools in the district from elementary school through Columbia High School and her youngest is graduating from the high school in June 2014. The election will be held on November 4, 2014, during the general election."

Current Board of Education members Andrea Wren-Hardin, Sandra Karriem and Bill Gaudelli, will not seek reelection.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

CHS Principal: Threat Made to Staff Members

Kirk E. Smith, the interim principal of Columbia High School in Maplewood, sent the following letter to parents on Monday after 4:00pm:

"Shortly before dismissal I was made aware of an unsubstantiated comment involving a threat to staff members at CHS. This comment was very vague and most likely not real. However; in today's world I must take comments very seriously. I am currently working with the Maplewood Police Department to make the last two school days safe for students and staff. I deeply regret that this matter has occurred given the great school year that we have had. Thank you."

This story will be updated later today.

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Bloomfield Avenue Corridor Plan to Hold Open House

If you use the Bloomfield Avenue corridor in Bloomfield, Montclair, Glen Ridge, or Verona, the Bloomfield Avenue Complete Corridor Plan would like to hear from you. Together North Jersey will be hosting an open house on Thursday regarding the plan at Bloomfield College.

According to the plan website, objectives of the plan include to "assess the area to identify transportation, pedestrian and bike access improvements that can improve the capacity of existing roads and the overall mobility of residents, stakeholders and patrons, recommend roadway improvements that will create a healthy, enjoyable and safe environment using Complete Street guidelines, (and) to develop a transit-friendly corridor that attracts economic investment on a regional scale".

In addition, the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University is conducting a survey regarding how people use the Bloomfield Avenue corridor. Questions include what changes participants feel should be made to Bloomfield Avenue to make it safer to drive, and how often they walk on Bloomfield Avenue.

The school website states that some of the current problems with the corridor include sidewalk and roadway widths, parking lanes, traffic flow, vehicle speeds, and intersection design.

Members of the project team include New Jersey Transit, New Jersey Health Impact Collaborative, Looney Ricks Kiss, VHB, Nishuane Group, the County of Essex, the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, the Montclair Center Business Improvement District, the Bloomfield Center Alliance, HOMECorp, the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, Partners for Health Foundation,  Bike Walk Montclair,  Montclair State University, and Bloomfield College.

Bloomfield Avenue connects Route 46 in Montville with Broadway in Newark. The open house will take place at Bloomfield College Hall, Room 016, which is located at the corner of Liberty and Spruce Streets in Bloomfield. The event will last from 5:00pm to 8:00pm, with a presentation at 6:30pm. Participants can share their ideas for the corridor and speak to the design team.

The project is one of 18 Local Demonstration Projects (LDPs) being undertaken by Together North Jersey, a regional planning coalition including the Edward J. Bloustein School for Planning and Policy, along with numerous other agencies and organizations around the region.

Map of corridor. Courtesy of Together North Jersey.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Bridge Reopens in Millburn

The Glen Avenue Bridge over the West Branch of the Rahway River in Millburn reopened on Friday, two months early. The bridge, which is located between Brookside Drive and Lackawanna Place next to South Mountain Reservation, had been closed to pedestrians and motorists since February. Pedestrians were required to use the pedestrian bridge near the Millburn Free Public Library and motorists were detoured through Downtown Millburn. 

A grand reopening celebration and ribbon cutting were held on Friday morning Attendees included Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., Millburn Township Mayor Robert J. Tillotson, and Essex County Engineer Sanjeev Varghese. 

"Glen Avenue provides crucial access to the area around Essex County South Mountain Reservation, through the Township of Millburn and to the township’s Downtown Business District. We knew from the start that closing the road to reconstruct the bridge would be a major inconvenience to residents and motorists, and we worked diligently with our contractors and the township to minimize disruption and move the project ahead of schedule", DiVincenzo said. 

Verghese told attendees that before the bridge rehabilitation, the bridge was one of the last structurally deficient bridges in the county. 

Sparwick Contractors, of Lafayette Township in Sussex County, was the construction company hired by the county. Sparwick was awarded a competitive bid contract for $970,331. 

The closure of the bridge had prevented access to the Millburn Free Public Library from the west, however library officials anticipate that library visitation will increase because of the bridge reopening "For the last several months, in-person visitation to the library has been down 8%. While part of that was, undoubtedly, due to the harsh winter we all endured, most of the decline is attributed to the road closure, which made accessing the library difficult for a lot of residents. We now expect visitation to return to normal levels", said library director Michael D. Banick. "July was our busiest month in 2013 so I am particularly glad that our customers will once again have easy access to the MFPL in time for the summer". 

The bridge was originally constructed in 1908. The bridge rehabilitation included replacing the existing deteriorated deck, reconstructing the existing concrete abutment walls, replacing the guide rail and bridge railing system, and replacing the curbs and sidewalks on both sides of the bridge. 

The project was funded by the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s Local Bridges Future Needs Program.


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Loehner: JAC Receives Citations Daily

According to South Orange Deputy Village Administrator Adam Loehner, the Jersey Animal Coalition is receiving citations every day due to "the JAC knowingly taking an quarantined animal from the facility". The dog, named Rocky, was allegedly signed out of the JAC shelter to a rescue group despite the quarantine.

In an email to Essex County Place, Loehner said that this is an "unfortunate situation that is needlessly being drawn out because the JAC refuses to follow state laws and local ordinances laws that are there to protect the animals they house at their facility".

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South Orange Village President Alex Torpey Will Not Seek Reelection

South Orange Village President Alex Torpey has announced that he will not seek a second term next May. Torpey, who was elected in 2011, posted this statement on his website:

"It is with mixed emotion, but also great excitement, that I’m writing to you today. 

This morning, I am formally announcing that I will not be seeking another term as Village President next May. I understand that it may be unusual to announce one’s intentions not to run again this far in advance, but because of the tremendous support I have received from so many of you, and because we've all been in this together from the beginning, I’d like to share my decision and thought process with you as early as possible. I decided to run for office not much more than a year out of college. Starting at my first library board meeting the first month after getting home from Hampshire in 2009 with a Bachelors Degree and a pile of student debt, I went to work to find the best way for me to give back to a community that’s given so much to me. And it’s been a nonstop roller coaster ride ever since. The past three years have truly been a once in a lifetime experience. The town that I grew up in, evangelize for and firmly believe in has given me the unbelievable fortune, opportunity and privilege to serve as the highest member of its government. Without being part of a political party, without “waiting in line” or asking permission, I was able to participate in a democratic election. And because of the support of so many of you, I was given four years to do the best I possibly could to not just advance our community and set an example for others, but also to set the best example possible for other young people who might want to get involved but don’t know the power they have to make a difference, or who may have written off public service as a way to get things done. These past three years have not been without extraordinary challenges. We have faced several of the worst storms to impact our community in decades, experienced ever-tightening budget restrictions and prolonged economic uncertainty, and inherited a number of sizable and complex policy challenges. And let’s not forget about the persistence of some to attempt to shut out new voices and ideas, focused on trying to marginalize anyone with whom they disagree - a far too common problem in our public discourse in this country. Despite the difficulties, we’ve balanced our budget, bringing in three of the lowest consecutive tax increases since the 1990s. Crime has decreased as we’ve modernized and provided more tools to our incredible police department. Recreation and arts have continued to grow, and SOPAC has gained state-wide recognition, becoming a regional destination for arts and theater. Our downtown is going through a renaissance, bringing in interest and investment at unprecedented levels. We’ve set an example for how a government can use technology and govern transparently, going beyond our borders to tell our community’s story and bring resources back in. And yet, we still have so much to do. But today isn’t about what we have done, it’s about why we do what we do. It’s about what inspires us to continue to learn and grow – personally and professionally – and constantly strive to be purposeful in a way that matters to us. Although I plan to continue to be involved in South Orange in every way I can after my term ends next year, I believe it also will finally be time to focus a little more on myself, my growing business and my evolving passions. I don’t want to simply continue exploring new ways to make governments work better, I want to find ways to open the entire governance process to people who previously have not had the ability to participate. I want to help people realize how they can make their government and their democracy work better, and I want to help provide them with the tools and support to do so. Around the US and throughout the world, there are far too many who are marginalized by institutions, practices and people who see progress as a threat rather than a goal. But I am confident that in 2014, because of our access to knowledge, to tools and to each other, we can tackle and solve problems that those before us haven’t been able to. Having had the opportunity to see more of this country and the world this past year, seeing the ins and outs of “politics” and governance in a local setting and throughout New Jersey over the past several years, I feel more confident than ever about how much value can be derived from a truly inspired, informed and engaged community. And I’ve never felt as strongly as I do now that there is a pressing need to find ways to put our heads together across partisan, demographic and geographic lines to work on some of the greatest challenges of our time. And for those of you who know I have a copy of the constitution on my desk and the federalist papers nearby, you know that I see holding elected office the same way many of the founders of our country did. Rather than making a life-long career out of being a “politician,” I believe people should engage with what they are passionate about and where they can make the biggest impact. Sometimes this will take them to the public sector and sometimes it will take them elsewhere - using skills from one to advance causes in the other in a persistent drive to push the envelope and build a legacy of impact on the world, rather than a collection of positions held and titles earned. Having to constantly worry about being “popular” for the sake of attempting to secure one’s own re-election doesn’t necessarily produce the best results, as we see all too commonly these days. But being able to focus on governing, and how history will one day judge the decisions you’re making today, without having to spend time on “the campaign,” is a liberating and, I would argue, under-utilized and effective, way to hold public office. I’m excited for South Orange. I think we’re pushing forward as a government organization and as a community in ways we never have before, and our hard work is going to continue to bring our community success. I’m excited for what the future may bring, because even though there is no shortage of challenges, there is neither a shortage of incredible positive momentum in South Orange, and opportunity on so many fronts. And over this next year, I will continue to work with my colleagues to explore all of those opportunities, building on the momentum we have all created and continuing to be one New Jersey’s most innovative and effective local governments. So stay tuned, because there is a lot more to come. And frankly, I’ll also admit that I am excited for me too. I’ve had the most unbelievable opportunity to learn, lead and grow in the community that raised me. For that, and the collection of experiences that has shaped who I am today, I can be nothing but eternally grateful. Thank you, all of you, for your belief in me, your support, your passion, your feedback, your critiques, your ideas, and your presence in this community. 


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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Maplewood Company Cited by OSHA

A Maplewood bottling company was cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. reports that Maplewood Beverage Packers, LLC received over 20 violations, totaling over $175,000 in fines. Maplewood Beverage Packers is located in the Olympic Industrial Park on Camptown Road, and bottles and distributes Arizona Iced Tea products.

The Maplewood Township Committee approved a proposal to connect two parking lots in Maplewood Village. The Village Green reports that the parking lot of the former Maplewood Women's Club building, now known as The Woodland, will be connected with a parking lot on Highland Place, creating eight new parking spaces. An original plan called for approximately 30 parking spaces, however that plan was met with opposition because it would have required removal of trees. In an email to Essex County Place, resident Jonathan Poor, who advocated against the original plan, called the vote a "sensible decision".

If the South Orange Maplewood School District Board of Education needs to consult with current SOMSD superintendent Dr. Brian Osborne in July regarding the transition to an interim or acting superintendent, Osborne will be paid $740 per day. Earlier this month, it was announced that Osborne will be leaving SOMSD on June 30 for the New Rochelle School District in Westchester County, NY  .

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Update: JAC Pleads Not Guilty to New Charges

First on Essex County Place: Attorney William Strazza, on behalf of the Jersey Animal Coalition (JAC) pleaded not guilty to approximately 30 new violations at South Orange Municipal Court on Tuesday, bringing the total amount of charges against the organization to approximately 85. JAC manages an animal shelter off of Walton Avenue in South Orange. 

South Orange Municipal Prosecutor Gracia Robert Montilus, Judge Jonathan Rosenbluth, and Strazza spoke behind closed doors for several minutes at court. 

"I appreciate the fact that you guys are working together", Judge Rosenbluth told Strazza and Montilus. Montilus requested that 30 days be allowed so that the prosecution can work with the defense on a resolution. Judge Rosenbluth said that JAC will reappear in court on July 15, and if a resolution is not reached by then, a trial will be scheduled for the first week of August. 

The shelter is currently closed and under quarantine, causing stray animals to be sent to Associated Humane Society in Newark rather than the JAC shelter. The JAC shelter was closed in March after a joint inspection by local and state health officials. At the time, South Orange Health Department officer John Festa cited JAC with 51 violations. 

Nancy Schetelick, a former volunteer coordinator at JAC and Union Township resident was present at court. Schetelick told Essex County Place that although she would like to see the animals and the conditions at the JAC shelter, she has been banned from shelter property. "They said stay away", Schetelick said. 

Strazza declined to discuss the charges with Essex County Place. 

Several people spoke about the JAC shelter at the South Orange Board of Trustees meeting on Monday. Carole Bishop Leonard, of South Orange, criticized the suggestion made by South Orange Deputy Administrator Adam Loehner to turn the shelter into a municipal pound. “Do you really want to add another $200,000 a year to our tax burden", Leonard said, adding that the JAC shelter did not cost South Orange taxpayers anything, and that JAC has accepted every animal brought to them by municipal animal control. Leonard went on to say that South Orange taxpayers are paying for all dogs and cats currently being sent to the AHS shelter in Newark. Leonard adding that “the JAC shelter has addressed and corrected every cited violation including the frivolous ones that Deputy Loehner and Mr. Festa have been so anxious about”. Leonard alleged that Loehner and Festa have a "vendetta" against Perlmutter. Leonard concluded by saying, "I am really offended that two town employees and a couple of disgruntled volunteers, none of whom live in South Orange and do not pay taxes here, are riding roughshod over the rest of us who genuinely care about animal welfare, and the integrity and reputation of this village". 

Jim Block, of Westfield, said that he has been a volunteer at JAC for three years. Block asked that the quarantine be lifted, saying that there are people interested in adopting dogs. Block added that to him, it seemed that the village "wants the JAC strangled financially". 

Schetelick told the Board of Trustees "I really don't understand how you can lift the quarantine or the ban without calling the state DOH (Department of Health) and having them reinspect the place so that they are in compliance with 52 violations". Schetelick also questioned how only certain current volunteers are being allowed inside the shelter. "Why don't they let everybody in?", Schetelick asked. 

South Orange Village President Alex Torpey said that there is no "personal vendetta" against the shelter, and asked Loehner to speak regarding the current state of the shelter. Loehner said that there has been no formal communication between JAC management and legal counsel and the village. Loehner said that he has worked with several health officials, including the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NJSPCA). "These people are experts and I trust their opinion", Loehner said. 

Loehner mentioned that on a recent inspection of the shelter, a few animals were missing. One animal, named Rocky, was signed out on April 15 to a rescue group. In addition, Loehner said that a notice of default was sent to the JAC because the village has not heard from JAC about the facility, corrections made, or conditions in over three months, except for when the JAC applied to participate in an adoption event in Ridgewood. "Outside of that, we have not heard anything", he added. In order for the quarantine to be lifted, JAC must correct each deficiency and pass a health inspection. 

Village Administrator Barry Lewis, Jr. said that the closure and quarantine of the shelter came after the New Jersey DOH received "a number of complaints". Lewis reported that the state DOH then contacted the village to coordinate an inspection. Lewis called the term 'vendetta' "grossly inappropriate" for this situation, adding that Loehner was assigned this case administratively. "The notion that there is a completely untrue. The ball is and has been in the JAC's court since the day of the inspection". 

When contacted about the new charges against the JAC, JAC president Ruth Perlmutter said, "There are no new charges that I'm aware of". Perlmutter added that the shelter is accepting donations of "cleaning supplies, litter, dog and cat food- and of course monetary donations to pay bills that come in regardless of whether or not we're open or closed".

Friday, June 13, 2014

MAPSO News Briefs: Coda Reopens, JAC Due in Court


The Coda Kitchen and Bar in Maplewood reopened on Thursday, June 12. A sign outside the restaurant read "We are open! Thank you for all of your support!" The Maplewood restaurant had been closed since May 30, when a floor collapsed inside, killing one construction worker and injuring another. The Maplewood Village Alliance is raising money for the family of the victim, Guo Tai Chen, of Queens. Donations can be made here.

The Jersey Animal Coalition (JAC) is scheduled to appear at South Orange Municipal Court in Maplewood on Tuesday, June 17 on dozens of charges. The JAC shelter off of Walton Avenue in South Orange has been closed and under quarantine since March.

Photo of the Day: Memorial Park Duck Pond

This photo was taken at Memorial Park in Maplewood.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

SO Deputy Administrator: JAC Shelter is Not in Compliance With State Regulations

Several people spoke at the South Orange Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, June 9, regarding the quarantine and closure of the Jersey Animal Coalition shelter off of Walton Avenue. 

Richard Fishbein, of South Orange, criticized the way that the village has handled the closure. Fishbein said that village Health Officer John Festa and Deputy Administrator Adam Loehner have visited the shelter several times with in the past few weeks. 

"They know it's in excellent condition", Fishbein said. "Your strategy is clear, make the shelter spin its wheels and deplete all of its resources". 

Gale Petrecca, of Union Township, told the Board of Trustees that she was a volunteer at the JAC shelter for four years.

 "I don't know how anyone could blame the town for this mess that JAC has gotten itself into", Petrecca said. "They're creating a lot of chaos", she continued, encouraging village officials "to just keep up the effort to straighten this place out". 

Petrecca claimed that volunteers "have been getting banned because they speak up", saying that she has been threatened in the past. "it just seems to come down to the dollar for JAC", said Petrecca. 

Michael Schickram, of West Orange, told the Board of Trustees that he has been a volunteer at the shelter for seven years. Schickram says that he does not believe that the village should take over the shelter, and he wants the board to continue to work with the JAC. 

"Unfortunately, there's a tremendous amount of misinformation being posted online by a few fortunate former volunteers that terrible things are happening at the shelter". Schickram said.

Schickram praised shelter founder and president Ruth Perlmutter, and then said that "some people have disagreements with her and it gets emotional and people say the wrong things and they don't volunteer there have to respect the administration of the shelter like you would any business or any other organization". 

Former volunteer coordinator Nancy Schetelick, of Union Township, told the Board of Trustees that she had trained over 200 volunteers before being banned from the shelter. 

"I was banned because I made some comments about the way the shelter was being run", Schetelick claimed. "I'm sure the people who are running it mean well, but they don't have enough money to keep it going, not the way it should be", she added, mentioning that "if you can find a way to help the animals, get somebody else to take it over or the volunteers are willing to help put the animals someplace else, it's just that we don't want them staying there". 

After being requested to by Village President Alex Torpey, Village Deputy Administrator Adam Loehner spoke regarding the current situation at the shelter. 

"There are state requirements...(on) to keep animals, how the facility should be met, and how the operation of the facility should be done. The JAC is not in compliance with this". 

Loehner stated that when a member of the public was interested in adopting an animal from JAC, the village worked with the Associated Humane Society (AHS), of Newark, so that the animal could be transferred from JAC to AHS to be adopted. Loehner said that in order for this to take place, the village needed JAC to provide a letter from the interested adopter, a certification letter from JAC veterinarian of record, and a transfer agreement. However, Loehner said that the village received none of these, adding that "we were quite surprised". 

In addition, Loehner reported that recently, the East Orange Water Commission (EOWC) reported that JAC had a delinquency in payment, and the EOWC was planning to turn off the water for the shelter. Loehner said that JAC was able to pay their water bill "literally as the person was driving down the driveway to turn off their water". 

Also, Loehner said that during a visit to the shelter last Friday, he noticed that "the animals appeared to be in okay condition", saying that the village was "ready to remove any animals that needed medical treatment". No animals were removed from the shelter. 

Loehner told the Board of Trustees that he is currently preparing four suggestions as to what should be done with the shelter, stating that "they are still not in compliance with the state as a facility so we cannot lift the quarantine, take the closure off, or reopen it". 

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Free Summer Concerts to Return to Flood's Hill

This summer, Flood's Hill in Meadowland Park in South Orange will once again host the annual Free Concerts in the Park Series.

"For five consecutive Wednesdays starting July 2nd, a wide range of bands will provide entertainment for the whole family, ranging from jazz to reggae to 80s, 90s and today", a press release reported.

Slated food vendors include Pizza Vita of Summit, St. James Gate of Maplewood, and Miele's Concessions. St. James Gate will serve lobster rolls and barbecue smoked ribs, and Miele's Concessions will serve pretzels, hot dogs, funnel cake, deep-fried Oreos, and other snacks.

All concerts are free, and begin at 7:30pm. Attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket or chair.

The summer concerts are presented by the Township of South Orange Village, Baird Community Center, and the South Orange Performing Arts Center, and is made possible in part by funding from BCB Community Bank and Maplecrest Ford-Lincoln of Union.

The schedule, which is subject to change is as follows:


Dub Proof is a groove-oriented band hailing from Asbury Park, NJ. The group is known for its freewheeling shows of roots reggae, funky dub, and classic reggae covers. Dub Proof's music incorporates the social conscience of Bob Marley, the irresistible dance-ability of George Clinton funk, and the deep grooves and fresh originality of 70's dub reggae. “Dub Proof … brings the free-form vibe of dub to a live music setting for island-flavored reggae grooves.” (The Courier News) 


Tribute Max Headroom - "a totally rad Journey through the 80’s." Quickly becoming the areas must see 80's tribute act, Max Headroom is considered the "new kids on the block," proving that they can "rock onto Electric Avenue" with the best of them. Playing a full range of favorite 80's hits, complete with costumes, audience participation, and sing-alongs, a concert featuring Max Headroom is sure to be a blast from the past! 


Rock, Pop & Top 40 Hits 
The Wisenheimers are a New Jersey band that play an infectious set of rock, pop & Top 40 hits. With more than ten years performing, there is nothing this band can’t cover together. 


Bassist, composer, educator and producer, John Lee is the co-founder of Jazz Legacy Productions and also serves as the executive director of the Dizzy Gillespie™ All-Stars and All-Stars Big Band with whom he performs regularly. A resident of South Orange, NJ, John has played in the bands of Sonny Rollins, Max Roach, McCoy Tyner, Larry Coryell, Joe Henderson, and Dizzy Gillespie. 


As part of the Rock the House series, Rock the Hill has been delighting audiences on Flood’s Hill for five years with its eclectic mix of local and visiting garage rock bands.

In addition, the South Orange Village Center Alliance hosts the Downtown After Sundown concert series at Spiotta Park and Sloan Street every Friday and Saturday from 7:30pm to 10:00pm. The concerts will continue until Labor Day. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Maplewood Garden Club to Dedicate Bridge

The Maplewood Garden Club has announced that a new bridge at the Hilton Rain Garden will be dedicated in tribute of Odette Jakel on Saturday, June 28 at 10am. 

In an email to Essex County Place, Kathy Kohlman of the Garden Club said, "Odette was born in France and has never quite lost her lovely French accent. She was a long time active member of the Garden Club who has since moved to California to be closer to her family. Odette left behind many friends in the Garden Club and especially enjoyed caring for her plants in the municipal greenhouse. In appreciation for the club and the many years she spent with it she made a very generous donation that the board chose to use to build a bridge over the HIlton Rain Garden in a style reminiscent of the bridge in Monet's garden in Giverny, France".

After the dedication, Amy Rowe, David Nial, Joanne Beckerich and Kohlman will speak about the importance of rain gardens.

The Hilton Rain Garden is a 2400 square foot garden which is located next to the Hilton Branch of the Maplewood Memorial Library on Springfield Avenue. The Rain Garden collects storm water runoff from the library parking lot and roof. Kohlman said that around 100 native plants are located in the garden, which "help the storm water permeate the soil, cleanse the water and provide natural habitat for native wildlife and pollinators". The Hilton Rain Garden is one of the largest rain gardens in the New Jersey. 

MONET IN MAPLEWOOD: Celebrating the New Hilton Rain Garden Bridge Saturday, June 28

Hilton Rain Garden
1688 Springfield Avenue, Maplewood

Photo courtesy of the Maplewood Garden Club.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Fund Created for Family of Coda Floor Collapse Victim

The Maplewood Village Alliance and Keller Williams Midtown Direct Realty are starting a fund to raise money for the family of Guo Tai Chen. Chen, 50, of Queens, died after a floor collapse at Coda Kitchen and Bar in Maplewood last Friday.

The Maplewood Village Alliance website reported that "in the aftermath of a restaurant construction collapse that killed one man and seriously injured another, residents and businesses in Maplewood are quickly organizing to aid the families of those men. Keller Williams Midtown Direct Realty will be partnering with the Maplewood Village Alliance to establish a fund to collect donations in support of the families of the deceased and injured".

Checks can be made to 'Maplewood Village Alliance – Chen Family Fund'. According to the Maplewood Vilage Alliance, all donations will be tax deductible and a receipt will be issued when donations are received. Checks can be mailed to: MVA PO Box 1360 Maplewood, NJ 07040 Attn: Chen Family Fund. Online donations can be made hereAccording to the Maplewood Vilage Alliance, all donations will be tax deductible and a receipt will be issued when donations are received.  

In addition, the website said that "the Village Alliance’s annual “Girl’s Night Out” will take place this Thursday evening where tip jars will be provided to collect donations for the staff of Coda, as financial aid to the waiters, bartenders, and other employees, while the rebuilding of the restaurant takes place".

Coda co-owners, Bradley Takahashi and Luke Finn, issued the following statement regarding the floor collapse: "As you know, a tragic accident occurred last week at Coda. We are devastated by the injuries and the loss of life and our hearts go out to the affected families. We also want to thank the dozens of emergency workers who came to our aid. We will never forget their bravery, professionalism, and compassion. We also appreciate the outpouring of love and support from the community during this trying time and we look forward to serving you again as soon possible".

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Monday, June 2, 2014

New Rochelle School District: Osborne will Become Superintendent

The City School District of New Rochelle in Westchester County, New York has officially announced that Dr. Brian Osborne will become superintendent of schools. Dr. Osborne is the current superintendent of schools in South Orange and Maplewood. 

In an email to parents in South Orange-Maplewood, Dr. Osborne said, "This morning, the City School District of New Rochelle (NY) Board of Education announced that it will appoint me as superintendent at its meeting tomorrow night, to begin on July 1. Like South Orange-Maplewood, New Rochelle cherishes public education, values diversity, and strives to prepare every student to thrive in a dynamic fast-changing world. I am excited to join New Rochelle, and at the same time, the thought of leaving South Orange-Maplewood is heartrending. Serving as superintendent in SOMSD has been rewarding beyond description. Learning, growing, and leading with you in this vibrant district is a dream job. I have been inspired to witness a school community rising to the challenge of increasing equity and excellence to maximize the potential of every child. Personally, I am grateful that so many of you generously understood that the superintendent is another learner in a learning organization, and allowed me to learn with you. Seven years ago, we cited the poet Antonio Machado’s call to make the path by walking – al andar se hace camino – and I am proud of the road we have shaped together. Due to the outstanding work of a caring and committed staff, a thoughtful and demanding Board of Education, a community that strongly supports excellent public schools, and our 6900 great kids, SOMSD is on the right path. While there are still miles to go, together we have made substantial improvements across all areas, resulting in a changed culture, one that now more fully challenges and supports every student. Thanks to your commitment to excellence and creativity, our students posted substantial gains on state assessments, and, more importantly, grew as learners, artists, athletes, and caring members of their community. Your work narrowed gaps in opportunities and outcomes, while improving high end performance significantly, with gains in advanced proficient scores outpacing comparable districts. We opened doors previously closed, and now more students of all backgrounds have greater access to rigorous college preparatory courses than ever before. You reduced suspensions dramatically, increased performance significantly, and sent a larger percentage of graduates to college poised to succeed. We accomplished all this in the midst of a daunting recession, and you helped make difficult fiscal choices to target resources more directly to instruction and increasing system capacity. As a result, we reduced the year-over-year tax impact while improving student learning, minimizing cuts to existing programs, holding the line on class size and honoring SOMSD’s long-standing commitment to the rich array of AP classes, honors classes, arts programs, clubs, activities, and athletics. As those that live, lead, work, teach, parent, volunteer, and go to school here, you form an impressive and unforgettable community, one that aspires to enact the principles of beloved community, and I have loved being a small part of it. I am confident that SOMSD will continue to flourish as you embrace the opportunities and challenges that come with truly preparing all students for success. All means all! Thank you for allowing me the joy of serving our children along with you".

A press release from the New Rochelle School District said, "The City School District of New Rochelle Board of Education announces that Brian G. Osborne, Ed.D., will be appointed Superintendent of Schools on Tuesday, June 3, 7:00pm at City Hall, according to David Lacher, Board President. Osborne is currently the Superintendent of Schools in the South Orange-Maplewood School District in New Jersey, a position he has held since 2007. The appointment will be effective July 1. Dr. Osborne will begin his transition into the District at that time and will be fully available starting August 1. On behalf of the Board, Lacher stated: “Dr. Osborne is an exceptional educational leader. We have no doubt he will foster a new era of inclusion and community in our District and drive the kind of challenging educational programs we have come to expect. Dr. Osborne’s vision, innovative thinking, and deep commitment to classroom rigor reflect his belief in achievement for all students.” Osborne is looking forward to the new post. “I began my career as a fifth grade bilingual Spanish teacher and am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue work in a district that is so rich in diversity and dynamic educational programming,” said Osborne. “Together with the dedicated staff and Board of Education, I will keep an unwavering focus on providing a strong foundation for all students, supporting struggling learners, offering additional challenges and enhancement activities for advanced students, and better preparing all students for postsecondary success".