It was a year of unprecedented highs in Verona: A powerful Verona High School girls volleyball team captured championship titles at the divisional, county and sectional levels, and, for the first time in program history, also won the state championship in Group 1.
But it was also a year of events that set the community back on its heels, from a tragic hit-and-run on Lakeside to the closure of the synagogue that had served Verona for eight decades and an investigation into the coaching of the VHS football team. Here’s what our readers read the most in 2017:
- Belleville Man Charged In Death Of Verona Woman In Lakeside DWI Crash: The crash killed Megan Villanella, who was pregnant with her second child, and seriously injured her brother. It also prompted a review of road and pedestrian safety in town.
- Daniel C. Cooney, Beloved Son, Brother, Friend And Baseball Player: His death followed closely that of another young Veronan, and sparked the community to raise nearly $140,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide prevention.
- 2017 Town Council Election: Six candidates ran for three seats in the May 9 Town Council election. Readers pored through the candidates’ biographies and their responses to the questions we posed of each over the course of six weeks.
- Elena M. Kish, 54: She was a dedicated volunteer for Our Lady of the Lake parish and several Verona sports.
- Fairview Hit-And-Run Injures Cyclist: Quick work by other cyclists helped the Verona Police to quickly apprehend and charge a New York pickup truck driver.
- Football Community Packs BOE Meeting To Support Racioppe: Verona High School’s long-time head coach was placed on administrative leave in October.
- BOE Statement On Football Investigation: According to information gathered from players, the coaching staff grabbed players’ face masks inappropriately, used inappropriate language, denied water breaks and made players run sprints for punishment.
- 4 Sites Eyed For Affordable Housing In Verona: A dysfunctional state system could leave Verona open to much more development, which some residents mistakenly thought would be low-income or Section 8 housing.
- Petition Drive Scuttles Verona’s Purchase Of Synagogue Property: The town had planned to relocate the Verona Rescue Squad to the site near the center of town. With the town’s contract rescinded, a private developer is eyeing affordable housing on the property, which had been home to Congregation Beth Ahm for eight decades.
- Opinion: What Verona Must Stand For: At the start of the school year, the superintendent made respect a core value of the school system. But as the district investigated the coaching of the VHS football team, that value came under assault, with attacks on players and their families. We called on the community to do better.