In January, food must have been on our minds: We saw the closing of 1 South, and the opening of The Fox and Falcon.

February brought the news of the death of a Columbia High School teacher/coach and an armed robbery of a Maplewood restaurant.

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.

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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.

In July, the victim of a fatal fire in South Orange turned out to be a local LGBTQ activist, and a Maplewood spa was busted for prostitution.

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.

In October, a teen crashed a car into his neighbor’s home, the Maplewood Fire Department struck down a house fire, and a BOE member and reelection candidate had her ethics violation penalty reduced. 

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.