Saturday, May 27, 2017


When a group of South Orange Middle School eighth graders were given a chance to have a picture taken with House Speaker Paul Ryan about half of them declined.

For those youngsters, who were part of a school trip to Washington D.C. on Thursday, Ryan's politics and support for many policies they oppose was enough to remain camera shy. In all, about 100 students rejected the photo offer.

When Ryan posted the image on Instagram, it drew dozens of positive and negative comments. See HERE.

And their act of defiance made New York TV news take notice.

Both WNYW and WABC came to town to tell the story.

See below:



NJ Transit may have messed with the wrong people when they continued to delay a meeting with Mayor Vic Deluca and his South Orange counterpart, Village President Sheena Collum, over the plan to divert all Midtown Direct trains to Hoboken in July and August.

Within hours of the announced diversion plan this week, Deluca and Collum penned an angry letter demanding a change in the approach and a meeting with officials.

The agency agreed to meet with the duo on Friday. But the state agency delayed it again to Tuesday, citing a need to allow for more participants. Deluca and Collum were fine with that.

But Friday afternoon they got word that the troubled transit agency wanted to push it back again, this time to Wednesday. A letter from the train line cited "extenuating circumstances." (Read it HERE)

That did not sit well with the two towns' top public officials. And they plan to show up on Tuesday anyway.

And from the looks of statements they issued Friday, they will be ready to fight.

Deluca posted on Facebook that "this is BS and unacceptable."

He also sent the following comment to 

I and my elected colleagues will be at NJ Transit headquarters on Tuesday, May 30th at 2pm to meet with Executive Director Steven Santoro. We are not standing for any further delays in having this meeting. We will be there Tuesday and expect to meet.

Tuesday's meeting was scheduled in good faith after Transit asked to postpone the meeting originally scheduled for Friday, May 26th. It appears this was just a stalling tactic so you could push the meeting back even further into June. This is totally unacceptable and now I question the veracity of the reason for Friday's postponement.

It is shocking but not surprising that Transit is treating us in this disrespectful manner. Sadly, it is all to often similar to the way Transit treats our commuting constituents. We will be there on Tuesday at 2pm and expect to meet with Mr. Santoro. 

Collum, meanwhile, stated: 

This is incredibly offensive. We were told a meeting on Friday (today) at 1pm would occur with the Executive Director of NJ Transit and everyone adjusted their schedules accordingly. Then you requested on behalf of NJ Transit that the meeting be moved to next Tuesday, May 30th.

While we certainly weren’t pleased and saw this as nothing more than a delay tactic, we again, adjusted all of our schedules to accommodate your agency and at the time, I advised you that we would be reaching out to other mayors and officials to attend the “work meeting” with NJ Transit (we had some of our elected officials move scheduled patients around to attend next week). 

Now, on a Friday afternoon of a holiday weekend, you are again postponing a discussion that needs to be occurring now not 2 weeks after we all watched a press conference to learn how our towns were going to be impacted. The “continuing extenuating circumstance" is that NJ Transit and Amtrak prematurely made decisions without any discussion with the elected officials and their communities impacted by these changes which elevate much further than just delays and inconvenience but if not executed properly, pose a tremendous public safety risk to all riders.

It is clear as day that no one over there expected this level of political blowback (although I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t) and now are scrambling for answers. What is the plan? What are we supposed to be telling our constituents? Please don’t thank us for our patience, because we’re anything but patient right now. 

Stay tuned!


The Maplewood Pool opens the 2017 season today! 

See this year's fees and how to join HERE.

Hours are Noon to 6 p.m. today, and on Sunday and Monday as well. 

The pool is open weekends only until the last week of school, June 19, when it opens at 4 p.m., with full hours beginning June 26.

If you have not gotten the new key fob identification tags and/or had a new photo taken, you can do so at the pool or Town Hall. 

Call 973-761-6330 or 973-763-4202 for more information.

Friday, May 26, 2017


From Maplewood Police:

Pierson Rd. will be closed this afternoon (5/26/17) between Burnet and Salter for road construction


Two new eateries with different menus, and approaches, are up and running on Springfield Avenue.

First, meet Klean Apron, the delivery and take-out spot where Soups and Scoops used to be at 1846 Springfield Avenue, next to The Rack.

Owner Dan Dandino, a 20-year Maplewood resident, serves up a mix of offerings from pulled pork to vegetarian dishes to Swedish meatballs. See the menu and ordering options HERE.

Down the street, at 1878 Springfield Avenue -- the former home to East Wok Chinese food -- you'll find the new Woulibam Restaurant, a new Caribbean cuisine spot that also delivers. No website yet, but you can call in an order at 973-762-1568, or stop in.

Give them both a try and support Springfield Avenue's tastiest.


We reported earlier this week on Mayor Vic Deluca and South Orange Village President Sheena Collum penning an angry letter to NJ Transit and Gov. Chris Christie opposing plans to divert all Midtown Direct trains to Hoboken during July and August due to Penn Station-related repairs.

The letter sparked the transit agency to agree to meet with Collum and Deluca today to discuss the matter.

But the meeting has been postponed to Tuesday to allow more local officials and state representatives to be involved. See an updated letter on the meeting plans from the two municipal leaders issued today below:

Elected Officials from Morris & Essex Transit Hubs Express Anger at  Governor Christie, Amtrak and NJ Transit – Meeting Postponed Until May 30

Maplewood and South Orange, NJ (May 26, 2017) Mayors and other elected officials have galvanized together following Governor Chris Christie’s announcement on Tuesday afternoon that a deal was struck with Amtrak relating to needed repairs. The deal provides that the Morris & Essex train line’s Mid-Town Direct service will be suspended for an 8-week period over the summer and diverted to Hoboken where commuters will have the option of PATH trains or ferries.  Significant delays and extended commute times are expected.

“They devised a plan without consulting local officials and commuters and now they are figuring out how to deal with the political blowback,” said Maplewood Mayor Victor De Luca.  “We were prepared for a meeting this Friday with the Executive Director of NJ Transit which has now been delayed, go figure, until next Tuesday.  We will be prepared with our colleagues from other affected communities next week to make the case that Midtown Direct riders should not bear the full brunt of the repairs at Penn Station.”

Mayor De Luca and his counterpart, Village President Sheena Collum of South Orange, wrote a joint letter to Governor Christie and NJ Transit following the announcement here noting, “Train riders from our various communities will have their personal and professional lives disrupted dramatically and the proposed fare discounts will not make up for the missed time with their families and the negative impacts on their business dealings.”

“South Orange is the busiest station on the Morris & Essex Line serving over 4,000 riders a day and I had to learn about these changes that affect my residents by watching a press conference.  No communication and certainly no transparency,” said Collum.  “I’m not disappointed in our meeting being pushed back.  Since the letter Mayor De Luca and I drafted on Wednesday, we’ve managed to partner with Congressman Payne’s office, Senator Codey, Assemblyman McKeon, Assemblywoman Jasey, Essex County Freeholders along with Mayors and elected officials from Orange, Livingston, West Orange, Summit, Morristown, and Millburn.  A few extra days gives us more time to mobilize other elected officials and their respective communities and we look forward to sharing more information with the public after we meet next Tuesday.”


From the South Orange Maplewood School District:

The district will be closed this Friday May 26th and on Monday May 29th for Memorial Day.

In addition, students at all South Orange Maplewood Schools will have a delayed opening on Tuesday, May 30th.  Elementary and middle schools start two hours later than their usually scheduled start times (see schedule below).

All CHS students should report to school at 10:00am.  If your child usually takes a bus to school, the bus will arrive approximately two hours later than the typical pick up time.  Before-care through the YMCA will take place at all elementary schools.

Staff will have a full day on May 30th, which will begin at 8:15am with a faculty meeting at Columbia High School.  More details will be sent to staff directly.

School Delayed Opening Start Time
Columbia High School 10:00am
Maplewood Middle School 10:15am
South  Orange Middle School 10:15am
Clinton Elementary School 10:05am
Jefferson Elementary School 10:05am
Marshall Elementary School 10:45am
Seth Boyden Elementary School 10:45am
South Mountain – Big School 10:10am
South Mountain - Annex 10:00am
Tuscan Elementary School 10:45am
Montrose Early Childhood Center 11:00am

Thursday, May 25, 2017



From Essex County Prosecutor's Office today:

Newark – Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced today that the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office has charged Aniol Sejour, 30, of Maplewood with identity theft and trafficking in personal financial information.

According to Deputy Chief Assistant Prosecutor Walter J. Dirkin, who is handling the case, it is alleged that Sejour redirected mail from numerous individuals to his personal address. At least 40 credit card and/or debit card accounts in the victims’ names have been identified. He also gained access to checks and passed checks in the names of his victims.

Yesterday he was arrested and charged. The alleged crimes were discovered by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service which opened an investigation because of the number of change of addresses that were directed to his address. The U.S. Post Office also received complaints from residents who said they had not requested a change of address. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigation resulted in the arrest of Sejour.

It is alleged that when detectives from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service executed a search warrant at Sejour’s home they discovered multiple bank books, credit and debit cards, multiple credit card device readers or swipers and handwritten notes containing other personal identifying information.

Sejour has been released from custody and is scheduled to make his first court appearance on June 13. Acting Prosecutor Murray commended Postal Inspector Allcroft for her outstanding work on this case.


From South Orange Maplewood Schools:

This image shows the cover of the book, "I am mixed."
Working Together to Make Our Libraries Reflect Our Community
SOMSD, The Parenting Center and the Elementary School PTAs are partnering to expand our school and classroom libraries so that they reflect the rich diversity and backgrounds in our schools and our community. This project was inspired by an initiative of Ms. Stewart’s 1st grade class at Marshall School last year. You can read more about their story here.

Please watch a video about this initiative below:

Please consider donating new and diverse books to SOMSD elementary schools by purchasing books on our wish list at [words] bookstore or 'Amazon wish list.’ Help us create school and classroom This image shows the cover of the book, "Giant Steps to Change the World." libraries that share stories with a wide array of viewpoints, and can be a mirror into each student's experience and a window into the lives of people who may seem different, whether they live next door or across the world. This image shows the cover of the book, "All families are special."

This image shows the cover of the book, "The best part of me." All donated books will be sent to the Office of Curriculum & Instruction for processing, tracking of donations, and equitable distribution amongst the elementary schools.

This wish list is just a beginning -- it will continue to grow and change and remain current.  We will happily review suggestions for future additions -- please email with suggestions or special requests.

This is the logo for words bookstore. This is the logo for Amazon.
Click on link to view our wish list on [words] or 'Amazon'.


Suspected porch package thief caught on video
If anyone needs a reminder about thieves who target packages on front porches, look no further than Yale Street last Friday.

One homeowner, who requested anonymity, revealed his house was hit by a suspect who was apparently seen following a delivery truck. 

The outlaw was caught on video due to the homeowner's Ring security camera. Ring is the service that provides security cameras and other devices, some tied to the doorbell, that allow residents to monitor who approaches their front door.

The homeowner released the video to in an effort to warn other residents. See it below:

"He cased our house (with two cars in the driveway and tons of cars on the street) in broad daylight at 10:13 a.m. on Friday, walking to our front steps with a bike, holding a jacket and a Kings bag hanging on the handle bars," the homeowner said via email. "He then came back at 10:15 a.m. without the bike and just the jacket, put the jacket over our package, picked up the jacket w/package and walked off with it across the parking lot." 

He said he filed a police report on Monday and wants to make sure residents are aware of this approach by thieves, which police have warned about in the past.



Thursday, May 25

3:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Main Library – Blow off some steam and get creative in the Teen Zone after school.

Create Space – Maplewood Library’s Makerspace is Open!

Thursday, May 25

5:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Hilton Branch – Every Tuesday 5:00-8:00 pm, Thursday 5:00-8:00 pm, and Saturday 10-1 pm.. Patrons can use Rhino 3D software to build a model, print an object on our 3D printer or use our new color printer or laminator.  There are also Snap Circuits, Squishy Circuits, littleBits and SparkFun kits for the kids. Raspberry Pi single board computers are also available to learn more about computer science.  More information about the Create Space…

Maker Meetup

Thursday, May 25

6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

Create Space – Join the Maker Movement!  Help with one of our projects, or bring your own ideas. Maplewood Library’s Create Space at Hilton Branch offers a variety of high-tech equipment and software for a multitude of creative applications. The Create Space is outfitted with a Maker Gear 3D printer, a laminator and a color printer, as well as 12 Dell laptops loaded with Rhino 3D CAD and other productivity software.  There are also project kits for experimenting with electronics, circuits and programming.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


From Maplewood Police:

On 5/23/17, the Maplewood Police Department received information that a wanted felon was possibly at an address on Burnett Ave.  The individual was identified as 36-year-old Joseph Priester and it was reported that he had felony warrants including one for homicide, originating out of Georgia. 

Officers contacted Georgia authorities and advised them of the report and confirmed that the warrants were active. Patrol Officers and Detectives from the Maplewood Police Department set up surveillance of the location and established a perimeter around the location.  

Assistance was initially requested from the US Marshalls and then from the Essex County Sheriff's Office Emergency Response Team (ERT).  While the ERT was responding to assist us, the suspect was observed inside of a vehicle that was attempting to leave the parking lot.  

A felony stop of the vehicle was conducted and Joseph Priester was taken into custody without further incident.  He was processed at Maplewood Police headquarters and then transported to Essex County jail to await extradition.  

The Maplewood Police Department would like to thank the Essex County Sheriff's Department for their assistance.
More background on the suspect HERE.


Mayor Vic Deluca and South Orange President Sheena Collum penned a joint letter to Gov. Chris Christie and NJ Transit today criticizing the decision to divert all New York City-bound Midtown Direct trains to Hoboken during July and August when repairs are made at Penn Station.

In the letter, dated today, the duo blasted Christie and the transit agency for announcing the change without any prior warning to local officials, saying our towns were "kept in the dark by an agency that is known for its terrible record of communication and transparency."

The complaint also stated, "this decision as made without any consultation with the elected leaders from the towns affected. We could have been given the opportunity to discuss options and a more equitable solution to the problem."

See the entire letter HERE.



All New Jersey Transit's Morris & Essex Midtown Direct trains will be canceled during the six-week overhaul at Penn Station this summer, Gov. Chris Christie announced Tuesday. 

The Morris & Essex Line's Midtown Direct trains will end in Hoboken, and from there, PATH trains and ferries will honor NJ Transit fares on that line.

Morris & Essex riders will get a discount of 56 to 63 percent during the work -- so a monthly pass from Gladstone to New York City, for example, would drop from $451 to $168, and still include the free ferry and PATH transfers.

It's the only line that will be affected during the work in July and August, Christie said at a news conference Tuesday. NJ Transit riders on other lines won't be cross-honored on the PATH or ferry.
Christie estimates a loss of revenue to New Jersey at about $15 million.

Amtrak, the owner and landlord of Penn Station, announced earlier in the month that it's finally getting around to fixing tracks and switches that have been crumbling for years. The overhaul will cut down service for both NJ Transit and LIRR commuters for six weeks.

Both Christie and Cuomo have called for a private operator to take over Penn Station, blaming "decades of underinvestment" by Amtrak for a "continuing string of infrastructure failures at Penn Station."


From Maplewood Police:

May 17, 2017; Theft from Auto; Sometime during the overnight hours, the window to a vehicle parked on S. 4th St was broken and a fanny pack left in view was stolen.

May 19, 2017; Theft from Auto; Sometime during the overnight hours, the window to a vehicle parked on Garfield Pl was broken and a tablet left in view was stolen.
May 19, 2017; Theft from Auto; Sometime during the overnight hours, the window to a vehicle parked on Fernwood Rd was broken and a briefcase left in view was stolen.
May 19, 2017; Theft from Auto; At approximately 4:20 AM the window to a vehicle parked on Midland Blvd was broken and a wallet left in view was stolen.  A witness observed an individual described as having a dark complexion, in his/her teens, medium build, 5'10" tall wearing a dark jacket and dark color beanie hat next to the vehicle.
May 19, 2017; Bicycle Theft; Between the hours of 5 and 10 PM, a bicycle was removed from an open garage on Courter Ave.
May 20, 2017; Theft from Auto; Between 9:15 and 9:45 PM a vehicle left unsecured in a parking lot on Springfield Ave had a purse that was left on the passenger seat stolen.
May 20, 2017; Motor Vehicle Theft; During the overnight hours, a vehicle left unsecured and possibly containing a valet key was stolen from Brookside Rd.  The vehicle was later recovered in Newark.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


As the Township continues to react to Sunday night's disturbance in De Hart Park that included numerous fights and at least one reported robbery, questions also remain over a police-involved incident dating back nearly a year, on July 5, 2016.

You may recall that police were accused of abusive behavior when dealing with a group of juveniles who had gathered near the corner of Valley Street and Parker Avenue after the Independence Day fireworks that night.

The July 4 fireworks were delayed a day due to rain. But after they were held on July 5, many youths gathered at the corner near Columbia High School and the 7-11, sparking police efforts to disperse the crowd. 

Police later reported that four juveniles were arrested on charges including disorderly conduct, obstruction of the administration of law, resisting arrest, and assault of a police officer.

On Aug. 30, 2016, Police Chief Robert Cimino announced that an internal investigation had been launched into claims that police had
acted improperly during the July 5 events. Cimino and Mayor Vic Deluca recently said that investigation is continuing, but offered no details or any estimation of when it will be completed.

The ongoing investigation has also blocked release of all police reports related to the incident. Public information requests for copies of such reports have been denied.

In September 2016, reported that the Essex County Prosecutor's Office had launched its own investigation into police conduct. That probe ended last month, according to Township Administrator Joseph Manning, who cited a letter from the prosecutor's office that said, in part, "there is insufficient credible evidence to warrant a prosecution in this matter."

But it failed to exonerate the officers, stating only that the investigation "failed to disclose sufficient evidence to clearly prove or disprove the allegation."

Since then, the police department internal investigation has continued with no word on when it might end or any findings.

Since Sunday's incident, some residents have offered concern about potential problems following this year's July 4 fireworks, as well as Maplewoodstock, scheduled for July 8 and 9.

Deluca offered no more comment on the issue, but said the police are always reviewing and updating contingency plans. Chief Cimino did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday morning.


From NJ Transit:

May 23, 2017
Due to on-going Amtrak track maintenance work and track inspections leading to speed restrictions, effective immediately and continuing until further notice, NJ TRANSIT customers traveling to and from New York Penn Station will experience estimated delays of 15 minutes on weekdays and 30 minute delays on the weekends.