Sussex County News

Press Releases

First United Methodist Church Welcomes New Pastor

The Reverend Todd Lattig, Pastor, First United Methodist Church of Newton

The First United Methodist Church in Newton has welcomed a new pastor, The Reverend Todd Lattig.  Although Lattig is new to the church, he is no stranger to Sussex County, having served at churches in Stillwater and Vernon prior to his assignment in Newton.  In a rare twist of fate, Lattig is now serving at the church in which his own parents were married many years ago.  Lattig assumed the post in July.

In many ways, Lattig has been circling ever closer to his new congregation his entire life.  “I’ve lived in Sussex County my whole life,” explains Lattig, who married a local girl, Bernadette, after meeting her at his own mother’s workplace in Franklin.  The couple now have two teenage daughters.  First serving the Vernon United Methodist Church as the Youth Pastor, Lattig served as the chaplain at Newton’s Bristol Glen continuing care retirement community during his stint as Senior Pastor at his second post, Harmony Hill United Methodist Church in Stillwater.  Since many of his current congregants reside at Bristol Glen, he was welcomed into his new post in Newton by many familiar faces.  In addition, through his work in the community, Lattig was already acquainted with the Newton church and its programs. 

“I knew that this church was one of the largest Methodist congregations in the county and that it had a strong music program, which is one of the things that has always been important to me,” explains Lattig, who dabbles in art, music and poetry during his spare time.  He points out that the monthly coffee houses hosted by the church are an important component of the church and its outreach to youth in the community.  “The coffee houses allow us to invite kids to do what they love, which is to share their talent and creativity in a safe, non-judgmental environment.”

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Lattig adds, “I love that this church is outward-focused in their outreach.  The church used to be the place in town where the members of the community could be found.  Now, we are spreading the Word by going out into the community, which is bringing us back to our roots as Christians.”

Working with area youth has been a constant in Lattig’s ministry.  He is actively involved in Skylands Young People Empowered, a religious organization which coordinates missionary projects and events for Methodist youth.  Lattig is also a co-leader of a team of people with the Search for Christian Maturity, an initiative which organizes an annual ecumenical retreat for youth and young adults.  “The purpose is to develop a spiritual foundation and a connection with God which gives participants a way to witness and experience the love of God personally and encourages them to become disciples.”

Knowing his audience may not necessarily be found in the pews on Sunday mornings, Lattig posts devotions on his blog twice a week.  Subject matter can be found in newsworthy events or in Scripture.  “I have been able to take secular things like TV shows and find God in them,” explains Lattig, who is currently doing a series on Biblical characters.  “I use it in ways to inspire and encourage people to develop and grow in their faith.”

Lattig is looking forward to partnering with other community leaders in his new role.  “I believe firmly in building community, because ultimately, God wants us to be good neighbors, love one another, and include as many people as possible in our faith.  I would like to build the First United Methodist Church of Newton into a strong and inclusive church where all are welcome.”

The First United Methodist Church of Newton is located at 111 Ryerson Avenue in Newton.  For more information, visit or call 973-383-4450.

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Sparta Police: Speeding Stop Nets Drug Charges for Two Brooklyn Men

June 19, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – Two men from Brooklyn, New York stopped for speeding are facing drug charges.  On June 16 around 11 a.m. Sparta Police Officer Thomas Herd pulled over a grey Toyota Rav4 driven by David Mai, 20 going 95 MPH in a 55 MPH zone, police said.

When Herd spoke with the Mai, the officer smelled marijuana in the car. Mai said he had pot in his backpack.  Sparta Police ...

Sparta Police: Wanted Sparta Man Stopped for Speeding

SPARTA, NJ — A Sparta resident was picked up on an active warrant after getting stopped for speeding on Route 181. On June 16 around 1:35 a.m. Cpl. Marc Rubino stopped John Clark, 51 in his black Ford pickup driving 60 in a 45 MPH zone, police report.

Clark was not able to show the officer his license but gave his personal information. Rubino found Clark’s license had expired and ...

Sparta Police: Wanted Man Picked Up in Speeding Stop, Gets Drug Charges

SPARTA, NJ — A Newark man was picked up when the car in which he was riding was stopped for speeding. On June 8 around 11:50 a.m. Sparta Police Officer Thomas Herd pulled over Tashiana Martin, 27, of West Orange for speeding, police report.

When Herd spoke with Martin he smelled marijuana in the car. Herd also saw that passenger Ibenabdul Harden, 28, was not wearing a seat belt. When the ...

Sparta High School Time Capsule

June 20, 2018

To the editor: 

For this year’s AP project in our English class, we have put together a 2018 Sparta High School time capsule to be opened in 25 years. The capsule, likely to be buried next to the garden behind the school, will contain student testimonies, memes, and other relics of our time. Hopefully with this project we hope to preserve our unique experience of teenage ...

The Power of Positive Engagement

To the Editor:

I wanted to share this letter from Laurie Beacham, Media Director for NJ 11th for Change, about the notable increase in voter turnout and citizens deciding to run in the recent primary election:

"The 11th Congressional District has a lot to be proud of. In the June 5th primaries, voter turnout climbed from almost 33,000 in 2014 to over 86,000. Democratic ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, June 21, 2:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Summer Afternoon Garden Soiree

Home & Garden


Sat, June 23, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Sat, June 23, 10:00 AM

CASA of Morris and Sussex Counties, Morristown

CASA Information Session

Sun, June 24, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River



Mon, June 25, 5:30 PM

Mohawk Avenue School, Sparta

Sparta Board of Education Meeting UPDATED



Sat, June 30, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market


Sat, July 7, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market


Sun, July 8, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Sussex County Views: The Art of Toni Chaplin

Home & Garden


Sun, July 8, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Sussex County Views: The Art of Toni Chaplin

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, July 14, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Sussex Stags Football Team to Hold Fourth Annual Golf Outing

June 16, 2018

NEWTON, NJ—The Sussex County Stags will be holding their fourth annual gold outing on Saturday June 23.

Arrival time is 11:30 a.m. at the Minebrook Golf Club located at 500 Schooleys Mountain Road in Hackettstown. Golfing will begin at 1 p.m. and tickets can be purchased online at

Tickets are $125 per person and include the following: golfing, the cart, an all you ...

Update: Police Break Up Fight Involving 40-50 People at Bridgewater Commons Mall

June 15, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ — No injuries have been reported in an incident that shut down Bridgewater Commons Mall Thursday evening after a fight involving a crowd of 40-50 people.

Police are still investigating unconfirmed reports of shots being fired, according to the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office.

The mall is closed for the evening as the investigation continues.

Somerset County ...

Why Buying a Home is Better Than Renting

People often ask if now is a good time to buy a home in New Jersey, but nobody ever asks whether or not it’s a good time to rent. Regardless, Team Nest Builder wants to make certain that everyone understands that now is NOT a good time to rent.

The Census Bureau recently released their 2018 first quarter median rent numbers. This graph from their report shows rent increases from 1988 ...

5 Fab Father's Day Happenings in Sussex & Morris Counties

Father’s Day hits this Sunday--what do YOU have planned? Team Nest Builder offers a slew of Father’s Day fun in Morris and Sussex County. Read on and surprise Dad with cool activities! (Be sure to check if registration is required prior to showing up!)

Alstede Farms' Father's Day Brunch – Chester

From 9am-noon, take a scenic hayride to a brunch buffet that offers ...

Don't Miss Sunday's OPEN HOUSE for 4BR Sparta Mountain Beauty

Perched handsomely on an acre in the beautiful SpartaMountain community, 28 Waters Edgeoffers a 4BR 2.5 Bathroom home with space and style. Come see for yourself this Sunday, June 17th, from 1-3pm at our OPEN HOUSE!

Located in the prestigious Sparta Mountain Reserve, this large, beautiful center hall colonial with open floor plan has a nice, level play yard with direct ...

Days on The Housing Market Drops to New Low

According to recently released data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median number of days that a home spent on the market hit a new low of 26 days in April, as 57% of homes remained on the market for under a month.

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, opined,

“What is available for sale is going under contract at a rapid pace. Since NAR began tracking this ...

Pass It Along Triathlon

Tri-something new this July and sign up for the Pass It Along Triathlon!

The 9th annual Pass It Along Triathlon will take place on Saturday, July 28, 2018, at the Lake Mohawk Country Club. This triathlon features two USAT-certified courses - Olympic and Sprint. This triathlon has become a Sparta tradition and everyone is welcome to attend to cheer on athletes and be a part of the ...

June 13 Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting

NEWTON, NJ - The June 13 Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting video.


Summer Hockey Programs at Skylands: 3v3, U8 and Beginner Hockey Camp

June 19, 2018

Skylands U8 Cross Ice Challenge League

Skylands Cross Ice Challenge League is an intermediate league for kids ages 8 and under. Emphasis on fun, skill progression, and player development, it de-emphasizes stressful, high-pressure, game scenarios and ultra-competitive play. It's focus is more on individual skating, player skills & puck touches
One practice per week ...