The Week That Was, September 21 Edition

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It’s been a very big news week in our towns, and not all in good ways.

Essex_County_New_Jersey_J201417641-NICOLE-DUFAULTOn September 17, Columbia High School teacher Nicole Dufault, 34, was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting three male students. Two days later, she was charged again with assaulting two more 15-year old boys.

The arrest has blown up on media across the state, the country and even internationally, and has shocked and devastated our community. South Orange – Maplewood Board of Education president Beth Daugherty called the allegations “deeply disturbing,” but gave kudos to the CHS and district administrative teams — in particular new Principal Elizabeth Aaron — for maintaining “laser-sharp focus on teaching and learning and supporting all students during these very difficult days.”

In brighter school news, we told readers about YouthNet, a nonprofit providing after care and after school enrichment for middle school and high school students throughout the South Orange-Maplewood School District.

We also profiled the wonderful work done to fight hunger in SOMA by BackPack Pals, Rent Party’s effort to send school kids in need home with food for the weekend and holidays. Founded in 2011, the organization provides kid-friendly, shelf-stable food to in-need children.

The Township of South Orange Village may have a new water supplier by 2017. The recommendation to switch was made at a special meeting on Monday by a group of village trustees and officials who have been studying the issue for years. The recommendation will be presented to the full BOT at their Sept. 22 meeting.  

In other community news, The Village Green interviewed DJ Kai, the 10-year old phenom who will be performing at Sunday’s PlayDay in South Orange (of which we are proud to be the media sponsor). Also on tap at PlayDay, super-cool remote-control cars, a slew of games and activities for children and adults, great local food, and The Maplewood vs. South Orange Sloppy Joe Smackdown. 

DJ Kai Song

DJ Kai Song

The 12th annual Newstead 5K was on Saturday, with John Parry, 51, as the winner with a time of 17:23.25. He was closely followed by Kevin Griffith, 42, of Maplewood with a time of 17:36.29 and John Slosson, 30, of South Orange at 18:10.58. 

The Maplewood Township Committee voted unanimously to extend the lease of the Post Office through February 2015. The extension was granted due to delays in construction at the federal agency’s new home, at 195 Maplewood Ave.

The committee also issued a stern warning to Daibes, the developers of a long-delayed mixed-use project on Springfield Avenue, after learning the completion date was pushed back another few weeks. Committee members vowed to keep Daibes on a “short leash” until the building’s ribbon cutting.

At the Hilton Neighborhood Association’s SOMA Board of Education Debate on Thursday, the four candidates vying for three seats discussed their views on state funding, the budget, the superintendent search, merit pay, and more. Read about it here. 

In police news, South Orange Police arrested a 41-year old Newark woman Monday for allegedly shoplifting from the Rite-Aid on South Orange Avenue.

In sports, Columbia’s Cougar football team lost to North Bergen Friday night at the Cougar home opener. Sophomore Kiambu Jones scored three touchdowns, but the Cougar defense struggled to defend against the North Bergen’s quarterback Anthony Ramos and tailback Ronald Fuentes.

Finally, we previewed next Sunday’s Maplewood Art Walk & Music Fest, a free, all-day event that features professional artists, photographers and jewelry craft artisans from throughout New Jersey displaying and selling their handcrafted work. The centerpiece is a juried fine art show.

The Village Green will be there — come say hello!


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