We ushered out 2020 hoping for “a better, brighter 2021,” and in many respects it was: Since Dr. Meredith Blitz-Goldstein and paramedic Steve Chait became two of the first Veronans to be vaccinated against COVID-19 last December, 76% of Verona residents have become fully vaccinated against the virus. We got back to in-person school, in-person worship, in-person sports and in-person entertainment.
And yet, as we write this, there is probably not a single person in Verona who doesn’t know someone newly positive with COVID. Since Thanksgiving, we have had 646 new cases. That is a 34.6% increase, the third highest rate in Essex County after Maplewood and South Orange.
The continued presence of COVID has prompted some readers to grouse that MyVeronaNJ only reports on the virus. We published 712 stories to the main site in 2021, and roughly another 100 only to Instagram and Facebook. Of these, only 40 were about COVID, and many were public service announcements about the county’s vaccination and testing center.
Many other stories grabbed Verona’s attention, including one of our favorites, Library Digitizes VHS Yearbooks. Before the yearbooks were turned into a searchable online archive, researching former students usually meant guessing their graduation year, and then making a trip to the library and asking a librarian to retrieve the yearbook from basement storage. If we hadn’t guessed correctly, we’d have to try to guess again (and again and again).
Here are the most-read stories of 2021:
- Sherrill Hints That Some Reps May Have Aided Capitol Rioters
- DeCamp To Resume #33 Service
- VHS Grad Gets Pilot Show On HGTV
- Ariane Kitchen & Bar To Close
- Library Digitizes VHS Yearbooks
- Town Council Election 2021: The Results
- Ben Leuzzi, Owned Verona Sports Center
- Town Assesses Ida Damage, Adds Bulk Pickups For Debris
- Paul McDevitt, Former Verona Schools Employee
- John “Jack” McDermott, Former OLL Pastor
These aren’t the only stories worth reading or re-reading, however. If you haven’t yet discovered the poems written by Jennifer Kleinknecht, the librarian at H.B. Whitehorne Middle School, you might want to start there. Then there’s the amazing woodworking of Chris Bruso or Joshua Axelrod’s retro-gaming hobby, or the story behind the big new mural in the center of town. You can journey back to 1921, thanks to Charles Heyer’s book on his grandparents’ cross-country trip 100 years ago. After 10 years of starts and stops, Verona finally got a community garden. And you might want to spend a minute reflecting on the Veronans we lost in 2021.
There will be plenty of opportunity to write about Verona past, present and future in 2022. We hope you’ll be a reader, and bring our attention to the stories to be covered.