Murders in Montclair, a heated local election, a dog called Memphis, and the biggest of all, a storm called Sandy. Here’s a look back at the biggest stories of 2012.
January The year starts out with buzz about Montclair’s upcoming local election. At first, then-2nd ward councilor Cary Africk was in the race. Later this month, he surprisingly bows out. And some beginning coalitions begin to take shape — only to shift again in the months ahead.
February Ibn Futrell, 29, of Bloomfield, is shot and killed on Mission Street in Montclair. The murder of Futrell, a former Montclair High School student, brings attention to the need for better street lighting and increased police presence. The debate on affordable housing in Montclair continues, and candidates choose slates, led by Karen Turner, Robert Jackson and Harvey Susswein.
March Downtown Montclair is invaded by a scantily dressed mega mob of 2-3,000 revelers, when an overcrowded Wellmont closed down its Barstool Blackout Tour event. Montclair politics see another slate change, with Real Progress adding Chris Swenson to replace Jeff Ogden, followed by a campaign kick off.
April It wouldn’t be April without some tomfoolery — this year, BaristaJenn was born. Film fans get excited with a sneak peek at the first ever Montclair Film Festival. Cary Africk tries to stop the assisted living facility, but planning board gives the green light. Then it was politics unusual with controversy surrounding an ad supporting Karen Turner by a group of Montclair moms followed by accusations of injecting race into the campaign.
May Montclair residents complain of noise, unruly crowds on South Park Street. One of too many young people we lost in 2012: Montclair’s Everett Glen. An anonymous mom leaves a memorable Mother’s Day missive. In the final twists and turns of a tumultuous campaign, For Montclair’s Harvey Susswein comes out strong against opponents, but slate mates distance themselves from his remarks. Kathryn Weller-Demming spars with Concerned Citizens of Montclair. And the New York Times weighs in with an article on Montclair’s election. When all the votes are tallied, Montclair 2012 takes it, filling every council seat, with the exception of the First Ward, filled by For Montclair’s Bill Hurlock.
June This month was quieter than the one before and the one to come, but Fairway opens in Woodland Park, and after successfully selling out most events and some 7,500 tickets, Montclair Film Festival starts its plans the second time around. An 88-year-old man is fatally struck by a car in Bloomfield. The election’s over, but not the controversy over an Election Eve New York Times article.
July Samantha Morra, Little Falls resident and Mt. Hebron assistant principal, is investigated for allegations of using a Montclair mailing address to register her children in Montclair schools. An accident in Bloomfield takes the life of Montclair resident Deshon L. Johnson, an aspiring musician, working to support his mother and attending college. Montclair was rocked by another murder, a fatal shooting on William Street in the Frog Hollow neighborhood. Ernest Williams,21, of Montclair, was arrested and charged with the murder of Brian Schiavetti, 21, of Ridgefield, CT. Glen Ridge loses Clayton Burroughs, 22, when the Ave Maria football player dies in a car accident. In other news, Montclair taxes cause outcry from commenters, Dick Grabowsky sues Montclair over assisted living facility and Baristanet mourns the passing of a regular, Sandy Block.
August The first of what would be many articles about Memphis, as supporters pack a Bloomfield Board of Health meeting to speak on behalf of the pitbull. Montclair’s beloved Beans on Church Street closes abruptly and long-vacant Lackawanna Station transforms into Pig & Prince. Dick Grabowsky loses legal challenge to stop the Church Street assisted living development. Cedar Grove business gets caught with an offensive anti-Obama display and a West Orange teacher is charged with having an illegal sexual relationship with a minor.
September Jersey was big at the Democratic Nation Convention and in Montclair, South Park Street finally opens. Bloomfield council considers intervening on issue of Memphis, and the dog’s growing group of supporters criticizes Board of Health staff. Bloomfield mourns a tragic loss of a young life: Christine Lembo, Bloomfield High School soccer player, is killed in a car crash.
October Candles light up the night in Glen Ridge to mourn the loss of Jeremy Duncker, 18, known to his many friends as J-Dunk. Duncker is remembered with a moving tribute. Montclair Parking Authority gets criticized for missing bills in report prepared by former town manager Joe Hartnett. There were political sign stealers and restaurant closings. A Montclair teen was seriously injured in an accident on Yantacaw Brook Road. A female pedestrian is struck by car while crossing Bloomfield Ave. The woman, Arlene Linetzky, 64, does not survive; friends remember a special lady. By the end of the month, all news became Sandy, as the storm toppled trees, took out power and stole Halloween.
November Emergency council meetings, PSE&G conference calls, gas lines and odd/even gas sales, and the streets without power and kids finally going back to school, even as homes remained without power. Also this month — two men from Montclair both are killed in two separate fatal crashes in Newark: Keith Chipepo, 30, and Shegan Rubin, 32.
December Montclair’s Greenleaf Compassion Center opens its doors as the first medical marijuana facility in Jersey. Steve Plofker buys another Montclair inn, The Georgian Inn and Yogi Berra gets his Way. Bloomfield council approves the Franklin Street Development project. And the world as we knew it changed with the horrific shooting massacre in Newtown. Days later, police are called to evacuate Montclair High School, after a bomb threat is discovered Twitter.
Photos: Gas lines (Ravenswood photo); William Street crime scene (James Fitzhenry)