Engaging stories of 2021


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As the New Year approaches, the Criterion Sentinel takes a look back at some of the engaging stories that made headlines in 2021.

Metuchen plans to ‘do more’ to recognize borough’s namesake Lenni-Lenape Indian Chief Metuchen

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Borough officials acknowledged not enough was being done to recognize the borough’s namesake Lenni-Lenape Indian Chief Metuchen (Matouchin or Metochshegan) after members of Metuchen Youth 4 Equity & Racial Justice requested borough officials remove the Lenni-Lenape Indian Chief Metuchen on the police badge, borough seal, material and cars.

Longtime friends, colleagues remember Superior Court Judge Peter Barnes III

The sudden passing of state Superior Court Judge Peter Barnes III on Feb. 22 left longtime friends and colleagues reeling. He was 64.

In August, the former Dismal Swamp Conservation Area was officially renamed the Peter J. Barnes III Wildlife Preserve, which is the largest contiguous wetlands in northern Middlesex County. Barnes was instrumental in preserving hundreds of acres of land in the conservation area.

Months after trying his first cup of coffee, Eric LeGrand decides to open storefront in Woodbridge

Former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand, who became an entrepreneur, motivational speaker, sports analyst, philanthropist, and author after his spinal cord injury in 2010, adds another hat – coffee shop owner.

In August 2020, LeGrand, of Avenel, drank his first cup of coffee … and he became hooked. Within a year, he opened LeGrand Coffee House at 10 Green St. Through LeGrand Coffee House, LeGrand hopes to bring people together and inspire them by providing a “Daily Cup of bELieve” that will remind them to attack their goals each and every day, according to his website.

Downtown hosts festive Juneteenth celebration

Metuchen celebrated and raised awareness of Juneteenth, a new holiday and a landmark day in American history, with readings from children’s books, music, high-energy step dancing, a fine art photography exhibit, and a panel discussion.

MHS principal opened high school to community; set to retire

Longtime Metuchen High School Principal Bruce Peragallo advocated inviting the community into the schools “to see all of the good things that were going on here.” He retired on July 30 after 44 years as an educator.

Edison will permit 10 cannabis establishment licenses

In August, the Edison Township Council passed an ordinance permitting 10 cannabis establishment licenses, with a maximum of three for retailers and the remaining seven distributed among cultivators, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and delivery, with no less than one license per class.

Metuchen Planning Board approves historic preservation plan element to Master Plan

In October, the Metuchen Planning Board approved its first-ever historic preservation plan element in efforts to prevent the loss of historic homes and sites throughout the borough.

Physicians recall emotional first wave of novel coronavirus pandemic

In the initial weeks of the novel coronavirus pandemic in 2020, healthcare professionals were scrambling to take care of their patients as best they could.

The evolving COVID-19 virus with no known initial treatment left them “physically and emotionally” exhausted.

Newspaper Media Group’s The Criterion Sentinel interviewed a group of female physicians, who Amie Thornton, president of Hackensack Meridian Health (HMH) JFK University Medical Center and chief hospital executive, called amongst “the point head of the spear” when talking about those on the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus.

They not only touched upon the impact of COVID, but their experiences of being female physicians today.

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