In March, South Orange Maplewood School District Board of Education Member Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad apologized for her actions during a 2018 traffic stop and found out about the suspension she could face because of it. Also, a pedestrian was struck by an SUV in Maplewood.
South Orange firefighters were frustrated by lack of communication about a proposed consolidation of their department with Maplewood Fire Department in April, a community member questioned what level of transparency the South Orange Village President was providing, and a Seton Hall professor was charged with attempted arson.
In May, after a bitter election contest, Sheena Collum retained her presidency in South Orange, details of the fire department consolidation plan were released, and Essex County got a rare tornado warning.
June had highs — like a Broadway vet returning to Paper Mill Playhouse and colleges choosing Columbia High School athletes for their teams — and lows, like a CHS teacher charged with child pornography possession and gunshots near a South Orange Pride dance.
The news of a double homicide in Maplewood in August shook the community, even as the suspect was arrested and charged quickly. A Seton Hall report on a former Newark bishop said he used his power to sexually harass seminarians.
In September, a beloved South Orange crossing guard was struck and injured on the job, and three CHS students were named 2020 National Merit Semi-Finalists. Also, a disgruntled employee fired shots at his workplace and was arrested.
The November election results came in, bringing new school board members. Also last month, the Maplewood Fire Chief retired and a new Chief was installed, a man was robbed at gunpoint but the suspect arrested a few days later, and someone was struck locally by a NJ Transit train.
Nothing slowed down for our towns at the end of the year: In December, Maplewood Police Department appointed its first woman of color Captain, a man was shot and a suspect arrested, hateful flyers were posted in SOMA, and a snow day was celebrated in song by two SOMS teachers.
We at TAPinto SOMA — Fred Smith, Publisher, and Alia C. Covel, Editor — wish you a happy, healthy and newsworthy-for-all-the-right-reasons 2020.