Monday, January 18, 2021



Commentary: Making Distance Learning A Little Closer With “Box Kit” Deliveries

Science kits, art kits, introduction to Kindergarten kits, all were developed and packaged up for delivery. These have been unique offerings we were able to provide our students to offer a hands-on specialized learning experience.

Learning To Be Kind One Mile At A Time

Someone once said that kindness is caring for others even when they may not care for you. This can be no more evident than when driving.

Local Journalism Is More Than Just Telling The News

Hyper-local journalism picks up the quieter voices of society while many larger publications focus on the loud. What impacts us most, what impacts us immediately, is what happens in our own backyards.

Rapport Through A Computer Screen: The Teacher Concern

This year schools are faced with starting off entire programs and first days of school interfacing through a computer screen. How will we do what we do with our students? How will we create those magical moments? How will we make those special connections? How will we see the moment of understanding for our kids when the lightbulb goes on for them? How can we do all this through a little Zoom box on a computer screen?

Frontline Educators’ Duty To Plan

The educational profession dramatically changed last March as our students left physical schools and became virtual learners. Our teachers became virtual educators responsible for not only their children’s academic needs, but their social emotional and all of their other needs as well in the middle of a pandemic.

The Next Bent Curve: Academic Versus Social Emotional Challenges Of Our Students

Now that we have had a moment to reflect, we are still puzzling over that experience as it sits in our very near rear view mirror. Conversations have begun in terms of the academic loss and how our children sit so far back in their curriculum and comparative scores on whatever measures exist out there compared to previous years.

Ending A Pandemic School Year With Forward-Thinking Preparation

Many schools in New Jersey came into this pandemic unprepared. Technologically in terms of one to one computers for students, infrastructure behind the scenes, LMS learning platforms, staff development, and even students as digital natives were not ready to take the drastic step to a fully virtual education.

Pandemic Grads

The end of the school year is usually a euphoric and celebratory time for students. However, for the Class of 2020, the school year came to an abrupt halt earlier this month.

Home Improvement Under Quarantine: Talking with LaTorre Hardware and Matteo Family Kitchens & Flooring

Area residents are using this challenging moment in time to start that garden they’ve long dreamed of planting, paint that wall that’s been gradually chipping away, or even minor things like changing the light bulb that’s become less bright.

Faces of a Pandemic: Area Residents Discuss Their Experience with COVID-19

In this article, we look beyond the numbers as we talk to three people in our region who have experienced the virus first-hand.

Mayoral Musings: COVID-19 Warning

Yogi Berra once said “it gets late early out there.” I have that same sense when it comes to the coronavirus or Covid-19 and what it means. A few years ago, my money would have been on the H7N9 flu for the next global pandemic, but a couple of mutations here and some CDC budget cuts there and we get Covid-19.

Millville Matters: Angels to Play Phillies

Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels major league baseball team will be playing the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, July 17, at 7:05 p.m. in Citizens Bank Park. The summer of 2014 was the last time Trout and the Angels played in Philadelphia and a crowd of 4,000 Millville and area fans showed up to cheer him on. Now’s your chance to cheer for the best ballplayer in the majors!

Nature Around Us: Freeze Frame

In the winter frogs, unlike turtles, do not bury themselves partially in the mud of ponds, streams, and rivers. Instead they lie exposed on the bottom, reliant on the levels of dissolved oxygen in high-quality water because they breathe through their skin.

Life Sentences: Chores and More

Here’s my good news for the week: I was feeling a little low, and I took a rest, but my mind wouldn’t calm itself. It made a little windstorm of a thousand things I could do, but I could not settle on one so I got up and said, "Get up, you procrastinator! Do something. Pick one of the many chores you’ve been thinking of.”

Mayoral Musings: Norms Versus Laws

By “norms,” we’re not talking about parts of any law or rule that have been passed or adopted in any official way. What we’re talking about are customs — the practices and traditions that have always been observed and that we’ve taken for granted because “it’s always been done that way.”

Nature Around Us: Angler from the Sky

Although kingfishers can be migrants in southern New Jersey, we have them year-round unless we get a hard freeze. Since their diet consists primarily of fish, open water is critical to their sustenance.

Hidden Complexions: African American Inventors Still Inspire Us

Throughout the history of the United States, many brilliant men and women of African descent have left a profound and enduring mark on this country, and the world, by using their ingenuity to create inventions that have helped further the progress of mankind.

On the Ave: A Tour, Cats, and Music

We now reach the last leg of our journey along The Ave — the block between West Avenue and Delsea Drive. It’s the westernmost block of Landis Avenue covered within our Vineland Downtown Improvement Zone. It’s a long block and includes two shopping plazas, other multi-business complexes, and the former Landis Middle School (now the headquarters of the Vineland Board of Education).

Nature Around Us: Vulture Culture

For years I have been delivering presentations on Vulture Culture all over the state. It’s proved to be interesting and a great deal of fun. Vultures exist worldwide and they’re deeply ingrained in many societies. The service that they provide to the environment and to humans is indisputable. They are one of nature’s cleanup crews.

On the Ave: Revving Up for 2020

I have some news about our campaign for public financial support for the Military Mural downtown. It was such a success that it netted more than was necessary to cover the expenses.

Millville Matters: Winter into Spring

As the winter months linger, days are getting longer and new events in the area are being presented. Wheaton Arts & Cultural Center will host free family art workshops on February 8, 22 and March 7, 21. “A Garden of Quilts” exhibit will be held in the Wheaton Event Center on March 14. The PushCart Players will present a children’s play The Velveteen Rabbit on Saturday, March 21.

On the Ave: Volunteers Welcomed

We’re always looking for new volunteers — or volunteers to rejoin us. By getting involved now, you can be part of the planning and implementation stages.

Mayoral Musings: Code Blue Mandate

While the form of Code Blue varies from community to community, in Bridgeton it is always staffed by volunteers, it is hosted in churches, and we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to provide bedding, meals, and wrap-around services.

Nature Around Us: Winter Eagle Festival Set for Feb. 1

Each year there is a marvelous opportunity to gain greater insight into the New Jersey Delaware Bayshore and its avian denizens, especially our eagles and their compatriot raptors and waterfowl. This year’s Eagle Festival is happening this weekend, and it’s a super way to spend your Saturday on February 1.

Jersey Reflections: Bedside Chat with John Lennon and Yoko Ono

As a junior at Atlantic City High School waiting for the elevator to reach the ninth floor of the Amsterdam Hilton where she would interview John Lennon and Yoko Ono in March 1969, Alisa Cooper was, in her own words, “a nervous wreck.”

On the Ave: Music in Our Ears

We’re proud to announce that we will be presenting a free concert by the esteemed United States Air Force Heritage Brass of the USAF Heritage of America Band on Saturday, March 14, at 3 p.m., at the Landis Theater, 830 E. Landis Ave.

Miss New Foodie: Where Soul Food Tastes Better

Determined to remedy the soul food drought in Cumberland County, Taste Buds has fought their way to become one of the best soul food spots in South Jersey. With dishes ranging from sultry shrimp and grits to luxurious mac and cheese bowls, Taste Buds packs in flavor as bold as their blazing red building.

Nature Around Us: Surviving Winter

Basking turtles such as the redbelly will line up on logs and shorelines to sun themselves — but where do they go in winter?

Mayoral Musings: Affluenza

But if we’ve got to accept “affluenza” as a defense or even a justification, then the same has to apply to the opposite of “affluenza” — namely crushing poverty and hopeless despair.

Miss New Foodie: Children Help Their Mother’s Culinary Dreams Come True

Rich, full-bodied, and bursting with flavor -- though this imagery screams Megan Thee Stallion, it likewise illustrates the mouth-watering soul food served at Little Momma’s Cooking in Vineland. This nascent spot owned by chef Aiysha Imani and her children is hidden along the Vineland-Millville border, and although their location is modest in diameter, their flavors are of considerable magnitude.

Miss New Foodie: A Taste of India in Cumberland County

An explosion of flavor, the layered aromas seeping from the doors of Indian Villa Curry-N-Cakes blankets their corner of Landis Avenue with the warm embrace of Northern Indian comfort food.

On the Ave: Year-End Reflections

Since my last round of “thank yous,” we have our remaining events for the year and, like my earlier column in which I gave thanks, I want to give a general shout-out to all those who made those events possible and a success. The Christmas Parade was one of our largest and was absolutely spectacular. Everyone came together to make it run smoothly and I want to thank all of those — staff, volunteers, sponsors, the media, the City departments and others — who made it all come together flawlessly.

Millville Matters: Forging Ahead in 2020

At this time of year, we are thinking about the holidays and will soon be celebrating with family and friends. It’s also a time for reflection on 2019. In the Glasstown Arts District, we are wrapping up the year while planning for 2020.

Cumberland’s Christmas Connection

Richard W. Conner was known most notably as an entrepreneur and philanthropist, but his affiliation with the Christmas season might be how Cumberland County remembers him best.

On the Ave: Walking and Celebrating

We now come, on our “walking tour” of The Ave, to the south side of the 500 block. After this, we’ll be at the Boulevard and the mini-parks. We’ll take a rest there for a week or so and do some year-end reflections.

Mayoral Musings: Political vs. Practical

As an elected official at the municipal level of government, I find it difficult to think about issues in a purely political way. At the local level it’s more about practicality than politics. A prime example of the practical taking precedence over the political involves undocumented immigrants.

Miss New Foodie: Milly’s Restaurant In Vineland Curates Diverse Latin American Cuisine

Tucked away along the bustling streets of center city Vineland is Milly’s Restaurant, a staple of authentic Latin American food in Cumberland County. The self-proclaimed home of “The World’s Best Guacamole,” this cozy, family-owned spot offers a unique combination of Mexican, Dominican, El Salvadorian, and Puerto Rican cuisine.

Ruins of South Jersey: The Cedar Tree

For a good part of the 1970s, my father, brother and I would traipse into the woods to harvest our Christmas tree: The a rarely spotted, not-too-popular cedar Christmas tree. And I loved it not because it was Christmastime, but because it was a cedar.

On the Ave: Walking and Parading

After a couple of weeks off, we’re back on track, continuing our “walking tour” of the Ave. We’ll spend this week and next week on the 500 block and then take another short break for year-end reflections.

Jersey Reflections: Two Dry Towns

An early 1860s brochure published by A. Cole & Co. to promote the settlement of Manumuskin shares many of the same ingredients found in Vineland founder Charles K. Landis’s newspaper ads of the same period, but each marketer offers a unique style of salesmanship in advertising his respective town.

Millville Matters: Get in the Spirit

The Glasstown Arts District has partnered with the City Recreation Volunteer Committee to bring Christmas cheer to the town and area on Friday, December 13, from 6 to 9 p.m.

Mayoral Musings: 2020 Challenge

As we made our way through 2019, the year was dotted with all manner of retrospectives on NASA, Apollo 11, and the moon landing. Part of this look over our collective shoulder included looking back at the early 1960s and the start of the space race during the Kennedy administration.

Life Sentences: First Car

We drove home on one of the last warm days of autumn, no traffic delays. The very next day, Therese called to say that she’d had a car accident. No one was hurt and it was clearly not her fault, but the car is probably totaled.

Mayoral Musings: Youth Bias Rap Session

If the stats are right, one out of every four young people between age 15 and 24 have been targeted in some way because of their race, ethnicity, gender, orientation, religion, or immigration status. This isn’t a new thing.

Mayoral Musings: Ironies of Vaping Crisis

New Jersey has 20 confirmed cases of vaping-related illness and one death and officials are investigating several dozen suspected cases. The sick range from kids in middle school to adults in middle age.

Ruins of South Jersey: The Art of Cleaving

The other morning while I was out taking a run, I caught a strong scent of smoke – oaky sweet with hints of hickory. The smell of the smoke from a nearby chimney along with the aroma wet fallen autumn leaves took me back to when my father and I would go out into the woods to cut wood to burn to heat the house next winter.

Life Sentences: Criss-Cross

At a crossroad between late middle age and early old age, that’s where I am. You know, the age where each ache and pain ceases to be just nothing now morphs into the thing that keeps me awake at night, imagining that it’s a looming calamity that might change my life for the worse.

Jersey Reflections: Odd or Even

Although it seems unimaginable, it was only 52 years ago that Vineland instituted a uniform system for numbering houses in the town. And according to reports at the time, it was long overdue.

Mayoral Musings: Blind Charging

According to Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, implicit bias refers to “the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.”

On the Ave: Walking the 800 Block

This block really marks the beginning of the business sector of The Ave, with the number of businesses per block increasing as we venture further into the center of town.

Jersey Reflections: Not Just Any Road

Abbey Road, with Beatles fans taking note, celebrates a half-century of fame.

On the Ave: A Walking Tour

Last year, I started to take you on a block-by-block “walking tour” of The Ave to show you the number and variety of our downtown businesses.

Millville Matters: Eventful October

Autumn in the Millville area is filled with special events of all types for adults and kids. Start out by attending an Evening of Music, Desserts and Coffee at the Riverfront Renaissance Center for the Arts (22 N. High Street) on Thursday, October 3, from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Millville Matters: Art Possibilities

The Arts & Innovation Center and the Riverfront Renaissance Center for the Arts are sponsoring the First Annual Fine Arts and Crafts Fair on Saturday, September 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the college, 321 N. High Street.

On the Ave: An Eventful Autumn

Alas, the days are getting shorter, the heat waves of summer are, hopefully, over, the kids are back in school, and the leaves are turning their attractive fall colors. We, in Main Street, are setting our sights on our colorful array of autumn events. Here is a preliminary sneak peek.

Life Sentences: Genetic Anchors

Our actions and tastes are governed by genes and internal microbes.

Jersey Reflections: Comics to Cinema

The entertainment world has always drawn from a variety of sources, adapting and refashioning them to appeal to new audiences. This is true of the cinema’s early use of comic strips and comic books as inspiration.

On the Ave: Sucess on The Ave

We set the bar high with almost 10,000 people attending each of our first two festivals and looks like we matched or beat that mark.

Mayoral Musings: Playing to Our Strength

The main driver of this global-to-local upheaval, I believe, is technology—specifically connective technology, robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and the huge amount of data coming from our connectedness

Jersey Reflections: South Jersey Glass

Glassboro’s birth can be traced to when Solomon Stanger bought land in 1779 to launch a glass factory.

On the Ave: Shaping the Ave

Last week I had in a blurb in this column about a very important online survey you were requested to take to help develop The Ave of the future.

Millville Matters: September on High Street

The Glasstown Arts District (Main Street Millville) is in the midst of public project including a mural creation for its Creative Placemaking grant that was awarded recently. Artist Kenneth Lazan Faulk, Jr. of Atlantic City, has just completed the first painted piece at 19 N. High Street.

On the Ave: Tears for a Clown

If you haven’t been by the mini-park at the southwest corner of Landis Avenue and the Boulevard, go and check out the progress that’s been made by artist George Perez and his assistants on the military mural.

Jersey Reflections: County Lines

Tracing the line of Greenwich Township shows how towns like Newfield and Malaga came to be.

Life Sentences: Goodbye, Summer

It seemed like our summer hummed along without much news, but things were happening.

Mayoral Musings: No Hoopla, Not a Party

If we celebrate, it’s not because we’re glib in our attitudes toward addiction and related issues, but because we are painfully aware of several things—how few resources are genuinely available, what is involved with accessing such resources, the challenges of coordinating among various stakeholders, and actually getting a working program up and running and out to those who need it.

Jersey Reflections: Vonnegut’s Tale

Turning WWII memories into a book took the writer 20 years of coming to terms with probable PTSD.

Millville Matters: History Comes Alive

Millville Army Airfield Museum welcomes the Collings Foundation’s “Wings of Freedom” tour later this month.

On the Ave: Bigger and Better

I’ve given you some teasers and reminders in previous columns, but this is it—the whole story about the Third Annual Food Truck Festival on the Ave. So, get your tastebuds primed, come early and hungry, stay late, and have a super time!

Life Sentences: Aging with Aplomb

By: Fran LoBiondo If we knew what was coming, would we ever have the strength...

Jersey Reflections: Centennial Year

On August 6, 1961, Vineland received a telegram of congratulations from President Kennedy.

Mayoral Musings: Courting Equality

One thing that the delivery of legal services in this country has in common with healthcare is the fact that too many individuals and families simply can’t afford it.

On the Ave: The Food Truck Festival is Back for a Third Year

You’ll be able to choose from over 20 food trucks. There’ll also be a stupendous beer and wine tent, and a packed line-up of continuous entertainment and activities to keep you there, highlighted again this year by popular request by singing sensation Dawson Coyle of “The Voice.”

Jersey Reflections: Storybook Ending

A chapel built in Vineland, circa 1885, is now the Chapel of Peace at a nearby amusement park.

Millville Matters: Clued In

Explore Millville’s sites and businesses by participating in a town scavenger hunt.

On the Ave: The Good New Days

Many people, when speaking of Vineland’s downtown, speak or write of the “good old days” on The Avenue. They wax nostalgic on Facebook, in letters to the editor, and in casual conversation.

Jersey Reflections: Camden Poet

In his final years, Walt Whitman enjoyed his fame as he delivered lectures and revised and added to the collection of poems for which he is best known.

On the Ave: Dog Days Report

It’s been a hot time on The Ave for kids this past month, and I don’t mean just the temperature. The second year of Play Streets in Vineland is a wrap and it continues to build momentum.

Mayoral Musings: Role Models and Expectations

The focus with integration has been mainly on accessing opportunity. This effort needs to continue, but for deeper, more lasting generational change, maybe it’s time to consider the combination of parts and if they’re working together well enough.

Life Sentences: Lazy Days Off…

Lazy days, not exactly, at least not when you have someone planning your mornings.

Millville Matters: Art Creates Excellence

July marks the 20th anniversary of the Art Creates Excellence summer camp for youth. It is a remarkable program that we began at the debut of the Glasstown Arts District in July of 2000. The program has had many variations over the years, but the primary goal has been to enrich the lives of community members, especially the children.

On the Ave: Operation Facelift Returns

I’ve got some great news for The Ave from which businesses and the public will benefit. Several years ago, we had a program called “Operation Facelift,” which enabled business owners to make façade improvements to their storefronts. Several businesses took advantage of that program and it resulted in contributing to a new look for The Ave.

Life Sentences: Summertime

Complaining about the heat? In a blink, you will miss today’s lemony sunshine.

Mayoral Musings: The Other Statement

This July, our country will observe the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. If you’re old enough, you remember when the race to the moon began in 1961 when President Kennedy committed us to landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth before the end of the decade of the 1960s.

Jersey Reflections: Alliance Grows

The formation of Alliance Colony in Cumberland County in 1882 established what would become a successful Jewish farming community, but there was much more that the settlement accomplished by the end of the 19th century.

On the Ave: The Beat Goes On

It’s hard to believe that the summer season—which officially began on the Memorial Day weekend, as opposed to the technical beginning on June 21—is half over. So little time, but so much to enjoy!

Millville Matters: More Millville Eats

As promised in my last column, today I will feature the remaining Arts District restaurants and eateries.

On the Ave: Good Transitions

I’ve said for years that Vineland—it's downtown and the entire city—can benefit from an educated workforce that has the incentives necessary to stay here and live here.

Jersey Reflections: Alliance Colony

The settlement of Russian families earned a reputation as “good fruit, grain and vegetable farmers.”

Life Sentences: Sixth Decade

Our columnist enters a new era as she ponders her mom’s French and a doc’s dieting advice.

Jersey Reflections: The New America

Walt Whitman’s relocation to Camden could be seen as the writer embracing a new literary philosophy.

Mayoral Musings: Summer Meals

I’m grateful for the USDA’s summer meals program that exists to provide food for low-income children in urban and rural areas during the summer months when schools are not in session, since many children rely on their schools from September through June for nutritious meals, sometimes two a day.

On the Ave: All Winners

Where do I begin in describing my feelings for our first Running The Ave 5K last week? The weather was made to order, and the 145-running field exceeded our expectations, especially for a first-time run.

Jersey Reflections: Camden, NJ

Walt Whitman grew up in Brooklyn but spent the last two decades of his life in Camden.

Millville Matters: High Street Bites

This week I will be highlighting some of the food businesses in the Glasstown Arts District. Shopping and dining locally have a great impact on the lives of the owners, employees, community members and visitors to our area.

Mayoral Musings: Common Good

The needs of the many versus the needs of the few comes into play regarding vaccinations and other issues.

Ruins of South Jersey: Yesterday’s Stops

Driving through practically any commercial zoned area in South Jersey, you are bound to pass a strip mall where you once regularly shopped that is now practically deserted or a former WaWa that was your go-to spot for that first cup of coffee of the day that is now empty and waiting to be repurposed.

On the Ave: Our Village

Anytime we, in Main Street Vineland, embark on a project, it entails more than just us. It’s often the result of many people and organizations who are brought to the table and contribute greatly to the success of the venture. In other words, “it takes a village…”

Life Sentences: Gadgets Galore

A daughter shares an affinity for gizmos—as well as a habit of ignoring Mom.