Freeholders honor Irvington’s Joseph during youth event

IRVINGTON, NJ — Irvington High School senior Danielson Joseph was honored by the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders during its 12th annual “Essex County Celebrates Youth” program on Wednesday, April 22, at the Hall of Records. The board’s commendation was sponsored and presented to Joseph by Freeholder Lebby C. Jones of Irvington.

The event takes place each year to acknowledge and encourage outstanding young people throughout the county who have accomplished and contributed so much at a young age and proven themselves to be role models for their peers. In addition to Joseph, this year’s honorees were Taj Atkinson, a senior at Newark’s Central High School; Emmanuel Christian, a junior at Newark’s Central High School; Isaiah Corchado of Newark, a junior at Seton Hall Prep; Lowell Kelly-Gamble, a junior at Bloomfield High School; Andrea Romero, a freshman at Belleville High School; Jack Schreiber of Livingston, a sixth-grade student at Mount Pleasant Middle School; Kristin Towkaniuk, a senior at Newark’s Science Park High School; and Ela Urbina, a junior at Orange High School.

Freeholder President Britnee Timberlake welcomed everyone to the event by crediting her District 3 Freeholder predecessor, former Freeholder Carol Clark, “for initiating this program 12 years ago which, over the succeeding years, has become one of the board’s finest traditions.” She explained, “This is a program all about celebrating young people who are doing good things. It is all about recognizing their accomplishments, talents, intelligence, contributions to their communities and their courage to stand up for what they believe in, and encouraging them to succeed in everything they set their minds to.”

Joseph is an 18-year-old senior at Irvington High School where he is ranked No. 1 in his class with a grade-point average of 4.159. He is the recycling team leader of the Eco-Novus Club, which aims to make the local and global environment cleaner by recycling paper and attempting to implement a bottle and can recycling program; performs improvisational comedy as an Improv 101 player; and, as a member of the varsity bowling team, he bowled a high game of 174 and a high series of 447.

He is also a member of the Library Council Club, with whom he catalogued and stored books; won a “Young Entrepreneur”
certificate for being one of the highest candy sale fundraisers; is a member of the Sigma Beta Club, which is committed to brotherhood, scholarship and service; and a member of the State Champion Irvington High School Consumer Bowl Team, who answered the game-winning question to win the 2013 championship. Outside of school, he is a member of the 4-H Club; a young researcher for the American Chemical Society NJ SEEDS Program; spent his summer doing research with a physics mentor; and won first place at the Regional Poster Session. Danielson is the son of his Meritha Sylvain and Daniel Joseph and plans to attend college next year to study engineering.

“It is a pleasure and an honor to bring forward a young man from Irvington,” said Jones. “Of all the boys and girls in the high school, he must be special, because his principal recommended that he be honored tonight.”

She went on to say, “Danielson is No. 1 in his class and has a grade-point average of 4.159, and it just doesn’t get any better than that. Danielson, you are an outstanding young man, a fine example of the great education available to Irvington High School students and I am delighted to present you with this well-deserved commendation from the board of freeholders.”

“I want to thank the people who got me here, like my family members, my mother and my father; teachers like Mr. Cox and Mr. Romano; my principal, Ms. (Sandra Y.) Boone-Gibbs; and Superintendent Dr. Neely Hackett,” said Joseph, “and, of course, Ms. Lebby Jones and the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders for having an event like this in the first place, to remind students in Essex County that they’re doing a good job and to acknowledge them.”

Hackett and Boone-Gibbs also attended the event to show their support for Joseph.

Freeholder Brendan W. Gill concluded the program by paying tribute to the many teachers, former teachers and mentors among the board members, as well as the teachers, principals, superintendents and coaches in the audience, remarking that, “The last few years haven’t been easy on your profession, but when we see the great job you do reflected in the young people here tonight, we want you to know that there are elected officials and many leaders who have your back.”

He also complimented the honorees’ parents saying, “Your parents have provided me with a great road map for the kind of young people my wife and I would like our daughter and son to become and for the supportive and nurturing parents we aspire to be.” He concluded by saying, “You are nine outstanding young people and we will leave here tonight, confident that our future will be in very capable and caring hands.”

Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss, Irvington Superintendent of Schools Neely Hackett and Irvington High School Principal Sandra Y. Boone-Gibbs also attended the event to show their support for Joseph.

The program included a vocal performance by Marisa Budnick, a 17-year old junior at Wayne Valley High School and a musical theater major at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Young Artist Summer Intensive program in Newark, as well as a performance by the Step Team representing the Newark Central High School chapter of Males Empowering
Neighborhoods. Octavia Pope of Cornerstone Baptist Church in East Orange offered the opening and closing prayers and the reception following the program was catered by the students in the Culinary Arts program at Essex County Vo-Tech’s North 13th Street School in Newark.

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Montclair's Anderson Park marks 110th anniversary

Anderson Park had a big birthday this year. To celebrate 110 years, the park was transported back in time on Sunday with vintage bicycles, Victorian crafts and a tree planting, for a celebration called Victorian Day.

"It's nice to have this event to get a feel for what it was like back then. If only I had a time machine," said Scott Kevelson, the president of the Friends of Anderson Park, a co-sponsor of the event.

As a Dixieland band brought George M. Cohan's music to life again with "Give My Regards to Broadway," a demonstration cricket game was played and people in Victorian-style costume chatted with attendees.

But Sunday wasn't just a dress-up day for Dolly Rosen, a Montclair resident. The Victorian era is a part of her life year-round.

"I want a century reassignment. I'm not comfortable in my time period," said Rosen, a past president of the Northern Jersey Chapter of the Victorian Society in America, a national nonprofit organization. The Montclair-based chapter, a co-sponsor of Victorian Day, had displays including a dessert table and a vintage tea service to give a sense of the bygone era.

For Rosen, it's Victorian Day every day. She often dresses in period costume, which she buys online. As a culinary historian, she collects antique cookbooks and has a special interest in 19th-century desserts.

The past is so present for Rosen that she can rattle off a Jubilee tea cake recipe from 1887 just as easily as someone could tell you how to make chocolate chip cookies today.

She isn't alone in her fascination for all things Victorian. Movies have fueled an interest in the age, noted Rosen, citing films like "The Young Victoria," a 2009 period drama.

"It's so stable, so long, so many things happened," she said about the era's enduring interest. "If I go to England, [Queen Victoria's] alive in the architecture, museums," she said. Rosen finds that people appreciate the architecture of the time because it's a contrast to modern straight lines.

People also appreciate Essex County Anderson Park.

"This park has become a cherished gem of Montclair," said Lisanne Renner, the historian for the Friends of Anderson Park. Renner said the park has played a big role in many milestone events in the lives of the community - things like learning to ride a bike, first kisses and weddings.

The day was commemorated by the planting of a red maple tree. Boy Scouts, including Eagle Scout John Macksoud and Life Scout Spencer Urie from Troop 13, took part in the ceremony along with elected officials including Essex County Freeholder Brendan Gill, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr., Mayor Robert Jackson and Deputy Mayor Bob Russo.

Township Council members Bill Hurlock, Robin Schlager and Renée Baskerville were also on hand, along with Essex County Parks Director Dan Salvante, and Diane Esty, president of the Upper Montclair Business Association.

Jackson recalled that his own children played soccer and lacrosse in the park. Gill spent time there as a youth and now passes the tradition to his own kids.

"It's a real treat to visit our parks, something I wish I could do more often," said Schlager.

Kevelson said the Friends of Anderson Park intend to plant 30 trees by the end of the year. The group has come a long way since he started with it nine years ago, he said.

"Now we have 360-degree irrigation," he said, recalling the days when watering foliage involved a pickup truck and a bucket to manually do the job.

Bridging Generations

The well-kept park provided a lush backdrop for perhaps the greatest visual attraction of the day: vintage bicycles.

Elizabeth Sanderson, 15, turned heads when she circled the park on a replica of an "ordinary" or "high wheel" bike, a model popular in the late 1880s.

"It's a cool thing to do," Sanderson said. "My grandpa used to do it and it carries on the family tradition."

What started as a school assignment has turned into a hobby, creating a bond that has fused the generations together.

"She's become quite a good little rider," observed her grandfather Gary Sanderson, adding that not every teenager would enjoy such an old-fashioned pastime.

The elder Sanderson, a Verona resident whose business card bears the title Ordinary Bicyclist, is captain of the New Jersey Chapter of The Wheelmen, an organization that tours the nation displaying early bikes.

It turns out this former Montclair resident is quite the adventurer. In 2004, he rode his 1891 Columbia Volunteer high-wheel bicycle from Perth Amboy to Newport, Ore. With a friend from Ireland, he completed the 3,600-mile journey in 60 days, averaging 60 miles per day. He was 69 at the time.

"You die or you get stronger," affirmed Sanderson, who has been a lifelong modern bike rider. It was his love of bicycles that prompted him to make the trip, and the desire for a personal challenge.

It also fulfilled one of the missions of the Wheelmen, to spread the history of these nostalgic bicycles.

They definitely had obstacles en route including headwinds as they rode uphill. Sanderson found he could be resourceful on the road riding on the shoulder on the interstates while traveling in the west. When one of his long spokes broke, he hooked two smaller ones together to make up the difference and continue the ride.

"Maybe the hard work makes it worthwhile," said Sanderson, now 80.

Sanderson's wife, Irene, helped them once they reached Erie, Pa., by driving a van along the same route, a mobile respite from the road they could visit every 10 or 20 miles. She carried their luggage and coordinated hotel arrangements.

He said he chose the locations because there is a tradition of dipping the rear wheel in the ocean at the beginning of a long bike trek and wetting the front wheel at the trip's end.

In this case, Perth Amboy might not be near the ocean, but it is situated near water. His Oregon end point is close to the Pacific Ocean. He also picked Newport because his grandfather had a hotel there during World War II and Sanderson never had the chance to see it.

Sanderson believes he's the oldest of only 20 people to have experienced this cross-country trip on a high wheel bike.

Even though he doesn't ride the bike anymore due to health issues, Sanderson still attends events and finds time to nurture the next generation.

Elizabeth is growing too big for her replica bike. Sanderson plans to get her an authentic antique in "due course." The price tag will be steep. He said her current bike sells for about $2,000 and the antique version could range between $3,000 and $10,000.

It's easy to see why these demonstrations are rewarding when people like Montclair resident Marc Gurtman come to watch with his children, Mia, Sasha and Jonah.

The kids were intrigued by the vintage bicycles and kept asking their father how someone would mount and ride such a bike.

"This is really a gift on a Sunday afternoon, old-fashioned fun," said Gurtman.

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Jack Schreiber Honored by Essex County Freeholders at 'Essex County Celebrates Youth' Event

NEWARK, NJ – Jack Schreiber, a sixth-grade student at Livingston’s Mount Pleasant Middle School, was recently honored by the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders during the Essex County Celebrates Youth program. The board’s commendation was sponsored and presented to Jack by Freeholder Patricia Sebold of Livingston.

The event is held each year to acknowledge and encourage young people throughout the county who have accomplished and contributed so much at a young age, and proven themselves to be role models for their peers. In addition to Schreiber, this year’s honorees were: Isaiah Corchado of Newark, a junior at Seton Hall Prep; Taj Atkinson, a senior at Newark’s Central H. S.; Emmanuel Christian, a junior at Newark’s Central H. S.; Danielson Joseph, a senior at Irvington H. S.; Lowell Kelly-Gamble, a junior at Bloomfield H. S.; Andrea Romero, a freshman at Belleville H. S.; Kristin Towkaniuk, a senior at Newark’s Science Park H. S.; and Ela Urbina, a junior at Orange H. S.

Freeholder President Britnee Timberlake welcomed everyone to the event by crediting her District 3 Freeholder predecessor, former Freeholder Carol Clark, “for initiating this program 12 years ago which, over the succeeding years, has become one of the Board’s finest traditions.”  She explained, “This is a program all about celebrating young people who are doing good things.  It is all about recognizing their accomplishments, talents, intelligence, contributions to their communities, and their courage to stand up for what they believe in, and encouraging them to succeed in everything they set their minds to.”

According to a representative for the program, Jack is a 12-year old sixth grade student at Livingston’s Mount Pleasant Middle School, who previously attended Collins Elementary School where he was a Tri-President of the student body. He is a High Honor Roll student at Mount Pleasant Middle School where he was the recipient of the Puma Pride Award for his efforts to give back to the community. In addition to being socially conscious and academically accomplished, Jack is also an excellent athlete. He plays football with the Livingston Junior Lancers Team that won back-to-back Super Bowl Championships in the B Division of the West Essex Junior Football League and was honored by the Livingston Municipal Council both years.  He also plays basketball on the Sixth Grade Traveling Team sponsored by the Livingston Recreation Department, which reached the finals of the Suburban Recreation Basketball League. Jack is the son of Risa and Bruce Schreiber, and the brother of Jonny and Nikki.

“I am truly delighted to make my presentation to the youngest of this year’s honorees, Jack Schreiber, from my hometown of Livingston,” said Sebold. “Jack is a wonderful, wonderful young man who has brought so much joy and pride to his parents, Risa and Bruce, to his brother and sister, Jonny and Nikki, and especially to his incredibly proud grandmother… me!”  She went on to say, “Jack, I can’t wait to see what you will do next in your young life and all that you will accomplish, and I hope you know that we will be there to support and applaud you each step of the way.”

“I’m so proud to be honored tonight,” said Jack, “and I’d like to thank my grandmother, Freeholder Pat Sebold, and the entire freeholder board for giving me this recognition.”  He added, “I work very hard in school to do well and get excellent grades, and work hard to do well in all the sports I play for Livingston. Receiving this award makes me feel very proud.  Thank you so much.”

Jack was accompanied by his mother, Risa and grandfather, Burton Sebold. Livingston Mayor Michael Silverman was also present to support Jack.

Freeholder Brendan Gill concluded the program by paying tribute to the many teachers, former teachers and mentors among the board members, as well as the teachers, principals, superintendents and coaches in the audience, remarking that “the last few years haven’t been easy on your profession, but when we see the great job you do reflected in the young people here tonight, we want you to know that there are elected officials and many leaders who have your back.”  He also complimented the honorees’ parents saying, “Your parents have provided me with a great road map for the kind of young people my wife and I would like our daughter and son to become, and for the supportive and nurturing parents we aspire to be.” He concluded by saying, “You are nine outstanding young people, and we will leave here tonight confident that our future will be in very capable and caring hands.”

The program included a vocal performance by Marisa Budnick, a 17-year old junior at Wayne Valley H. S. and a Musical Theater major at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Young Artist Summer Intensive program (YASI) in Newark; as well as a performance by the Step Team representing the Newark Central H. S. chapter of Males Empowering Neighborhoods (M.E.N.).  Octavia Pope of Cornerstone Baptist Church in East Orange offered the opening and closing prayers, and the reception following the program was catered by the students in the Culinary Arts program at Essex County Vo-Tech’s North 13th Street School in Newark.

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Bronze Plaque Dedicated to Honor Legacy of Local Veteran in County’s Annual Memorial Day Observance

BLOOMFIELD, NJ– Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. dedicated a plaque recognizing the late Joseph Fornarotto, serviceman’s activist and longtime Belleville-Nutley Disabled American Veterans Commander, during Essex County’s annual Memorial Day observance in Glendale Cemetery in Bloomfield on Thursday, May 21st.

The plaque is located in the Veterans’ burial area in Glendale Cemetery that is owned by Essex County and where a formal memorial plaza was developed. Mr. Fornarotto was a resident of Belleville when he passed away on August 25, 2014, at the age of 88.

“Joe Fornarotto proudly served in the Navy during World War II. Even after he was discharged, Joe continued to serve his country as a vocal advocate for other veterans. He loved serving his country and worked tirelessly to ensure veterans received the recognition and support services they deserved,” DiVincenzo said. “One of the last projects we worked on with Joe was the revitalization of this area of Glendale Cemetery. It was Joe’s vision to provide those who served their country with a fitting memorial. Placing a plaque to honor Joe in this location is the perfect tribute and epitomizes the passion he had for his country,” he added.

“While we take time to remember Joe, let’s also pay tribute to the brave men and women throughout our country’s history who have put their lives on hold to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces at home and abroad. They made the ultimate sacrifice so we could enjoy our freedom and way of life today,” the Executive noted.

“What everyone expressed today about our father, we experienced as a family,” said one of Fornarotto’s daughters, Kathy Mazur. “Dad worked tirelessly to help others, so it is gratifying to see his efforts recognized here,” she added.

Many friends and elected officials shared stories about their friendship with Fornarotto and his passion for helping fellow veterans.

“When we look at all the flags around us, we are reminded about what a great country America is,” NJ State Senator and Essex County Deputy Chief of Staff Teresa Ruiz said. “Joe had boundless energy and never took a day off. He was always advocating on behalf of veterans because of what they sacrificed for their country,” she added.

“Joe made it clear to me that those in public service should never forget the service and sacrifice that men and women in the military have given to their country,” Freeholder Vice President Brendan Gill said. “He was out each and every day for those who made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives,” he added.

“As a veteran, I am humbled by this expression of appreciation for what Joe did during his lifetime and to remember him,” said Clarence Jackson, a member of the Disabled Veterans of American Newark Chapter. “He was relentless in his pursuit of getting veterans the benefits, services and respect they deserved,” he said.

The plaque starts with a quote from Brainbridge Colby, an American lawyer, co-founder of theUnited States Progressive Party and Woodrow Wilson's last Secretary of State: “The test of good citizenship is loyalty to country.” It continues: “Joe Fornarotto will be remembered for his willingness to stand up and be heard. As a young man, he served as a Naval Machinist Mate on a Minesweeper in the Pacific, during World War II. He fought fiercely for his country, as in later years he fought on behalf of his fellow ‘soldiers-in-arms.’ Never one to take no for an answer, as Commander of the Belleville/Nutley Disabled American Veterans, he made sure that the members of his troop received not only the benefits that they deserved, but also the respect and credit due them for their service. He was a true friend of Essex County and the guiding spirit for the beautification of this cemetery, where so many veterans rest. Long may the American flag fly by his side.”

A lifelong resident of Belleville, Fornoratto retired four years ago from the Essex County Division of Senior Services, where he worked as an advocate for veteran's benefits. Previously, he was employed by the Township of Belleville in the Department of Public Works. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and was the Commander of the Disabled American Veterans Belleville/Nutley Chapter. He was a member of the Belleville Senior Citizens Group and the Belleville Italian American Civic Association. An avid pigeon fancier and member of the North Hudson Racing Pigeon Club, he raised and raced homing pigeons for over 50 years. He passed away on August 25, 2014, at the age of 88.

 He is predeceased by his wife, Jeanne (nee Rosamilia); parents, Carmen and Rose; brothers, Nick and Jerry; and sister, Nella Lisanti. He is survived by his son, Joseph Jr.; daughters, Kathy Mazur and her husband Walter, Joni Lewis and her husband Jim, and Jeanne Finnan and her husband Kevin; brothers, Salvatore, Anthony, Michael, Carmen and Albert; sister, Josie Rizzolo; grandchildren, Brandon and Jared Mazur, Jackie Obeid and her husband John, and James and Adella Finnan, and great-granddaughters, Jemma and Juliet Obeid.

The Veterans Section in Glendale Cemetery in Bloomfield is owned by Essex County. It had fallen into disrepair when Fornarotto approached the County Executive about doing something to revitalize it. The memorial featuring the American flag and flags identifying the seven branches of the military was completed and dedicated in September 2012. It is modeled after the military memorial in Essex County Veterans Memorial Park in Newark.

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Essex County honors D. Bilal Beasley

NEWARK – From every corner of Essex County, they came to honor D. Bilal Beasley this afternoon, singling out the late dapper, kindly and always politically engaged gentleman freeholder and Irvington Councilman with an honorary plaque in Governor Brendan Byrne Plaza.

The leader of Team Irvington and a vital county player in his adopted hometown, Newark native Mr. Beasley died last year at age 68, one of three outsized Essex County Democratic Party elders to take their leave in the last two years. Today, honored by his fellow freeholder board members, Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, Essex County Democratic Chairman Leroy Jones, Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss, and many others, Mr. Beasley joined the late Essex County Democratic Chairman Phil Thigpen and State Party Chairman Ray Durkin as a permanent honoree on the grounds here, where DiVincenzo plans to site a crowning statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“He was the leader of all leaders, the man of all men,” said Vauss, who last year, as the face of Team Irvington, won a mayoral election with Mr. Beasley’s backing. “He taught people to be kind and he led by example.”

A Muslim who was married to his wife Annette for 50 years, Mr. Beasley embodied the quality of loyalty not only to his own family, in attendance this afternoon, but to allies like Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-28), who sat on the freeholder board with the Irvington elected official. “There was a kindness deep in his heart, but also a quiet fearlessness,” Caputo said.

Emmy Award-winning singer Hunter Hayes, who met Mr. Beasley once in the Peppermint Lounge and ever after enjoyed a friendship with him, delivered a rousing rendition of the late freeholder’s favorite song, “My Way.” “I guess they went in his pocket and got my phone number,” the singer said, grinning at Mr. Beasley’s family in the front row.

Paying tribute to his friend’s sense of public service, Jones lingered the longest in his eulogy. “This is a place,” said the party chairman, “where someone like me will come to talk to Bilal or Ray or Phil, or many of the other heroes.”

Others in attendance included emcee Phil Alagia; state Senator M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29); Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura; Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin; Freeholders Britnee Timberlake, Rolando Bobadilla, Pat Sebold and Brendan Gill; Newark Councilmen John Sharpe James, Carlos Gonzalez, and Anibal Ramos; East Orange Councilman Chris James; former Freeholders Blonnie Watson and Carol Clark; and former Irvington Councilman John Sowell.

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Booker's Opponent Criticizes Bill the Senator Wrote with Rand Paul

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker’s opponent today criticized bipartisan legislation the senator introduced Tuesday to overhaul federal criminal justice laws. Jeff Bell, the Republican U.S. Senate nominee, took issue with part of the bill that would only allow employers to see “relevant and accurate information” in FBI background checks. Booker (D-N.J.) introduced the bill, called the “REDEEM Act,” jointly with Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Booker campaign manager Brendan Gill said Bell "fails to see what Senators on both side of the aisle have — that America's criminal justice system is broken and is wasting tax dollars and human potential." "While Jeff Bell is attacking members of his own party, Sen. Booker is working with them to tackle the tough issues of our time," Gill said.

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Montclair's African-American Heritage Parade and Festival Strides into 25th Year

Under a bright sun on Saturday, June 7, many hundreds of people - especially from the African-American community in Montclair and beyond - gathered along curbsides and in Nishuane Park to mark 25 years of heritage celebrations.

 

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Essex County Democratic Incumbents Snag Nominations

Essex County incumbents and party backed-candidates largely won their party's nomination tonight. Incumbent freeholders Patricia Sebold, Rufus Johnson and Brendan Gill and newcomer Lebby Jones won the Democratic primary in the at-large freeholder race, the only contested freeholder race.

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In Essex County, few candidates vie for Freeholder Seats

Essex County residents may go to the polls Tuesday to vote, but many races have already been decided. The only contested freeholder race is the at large Democratic contest, where five candidates are vying for four seats. Incumbents Gerald Owens and Blonnie Watson are not seeking re-election. Three of their colleagues, Patricia Seabold, Rufus Johnson and Brendan Gill have been endorsed by the county party along with newcomer Lebby Jones, a member of the Irvington council. "It’s a slate of individuals that embraces the diversity of the county," said LeRoy Jones, chairman of the Essex County Democratic party.

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Freeholder Praises Bloomfield's Downtown Improvements

The Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders returned to Bloomfield on Wednesday, holding a public meeting in the Council Chambers. District 5 Freeholder Brendan Gill praised the improvements to Bloomfield's downtown area. "It's always a pleasure to be in the great township of Bloomfield," Gill said. "Anyone who drove through downtown knows there's a renaissance going on, and we want to be a part of that renaissance."

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