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“Grease” is the Word, and MLHS Theatre is the Place | 5
Welcome to the Tri-Town Focus Magazine. We are happy to publish this monthly publication for the residents and businesses of Boonton, Boonton Township and Mountain Lakes. Our mission is to bring our communities together by sharing town news, happenings, events and to celebrate the great people and places we call home.
The classic 70’s movie musical gets a fresh, innovative spin by Mountain Lakes High School students in June
Lakers Sports 24th Annual Golf Outing Scholarship Honorees | 6
Congratulations to the 2021 scholarship winners, Savannah Sutter, Kenna Franzblau, Joseph Mucci and Riley Albregts.
Matta Donna Ristorante & Pizzeria: Elegant Upscale and Classy Ambiance | 9
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On Main Street in the quaint, historic, little downtown of Boonton, it is not difficult to find several popular and excellent Italian restaurants dotted along the rows of small storefront businesses, but just a short drive away on Myrtle Avenue, separated from the crowd, you will find yet another gem you should seriously consider putting on your radar.
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Morris County Athletes of the Year | 14
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Congratulations to Morris County Athletes of the Year Tristan Plotts and Ava Samay who were honored
Christopher Petonak Promoted to Sergeant | 16
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Town of Boonton Mayor Richard Corcoran sworn-in sergeant, Christopher Petonak. Mr. Petonak was promoted from the role of patrolman to that of Sergeant.
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Music wants a Furever Home; Music Can be Shy | 17
Music is seeking a patient owner who will build trust with him. He can be frightened at times so he would benefit from a quiet household. Kids age 16 or older is preferred.
CCM Celebrates Class of 2021 with a Graduate Walk and Virtual Ceremony | 19
Graced with a warm spring day, graduates from the Class of 2021 at County College of Morris (CCM) were able to take part in two special celebrations on Friday, May 21, marking their outstanding success in the face of a pandemic and the resulting challenges.
Morris County Lacrosse Champions | 20
Mountain Lakes High School Boys Lacrosse Team for winning the Morris County Championship at Mount Olive High School crushing the Chatham Cougars 10-2. This was Mountain Lakes’ first County Championship since 2012. Special Laker Shout Out to Riley Albregts on being named MVP! Tri-Town Focus Magazine is published bi-monthly by Zoomus Marketing, LLC, 90 East Halsey Road, Suite 332, Parsippany, New Jersey 07054 (c) 2021 Zoomus Marketing, LLC.
The 2021 Trout Derby was a Blast | 21
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The 2021 Trout Derby was a blast even though the trout were not biting. We can all agree, creating experiences with friends and family is the biggest catch of the day.
“Grease” is the Word, and MLHS Theatre is the Place
The T-Birds pull up in front of MLHS with community member Tom Harford’s 1958 Ford Fairlane. Cast includes Francis Turner, James Purcell, Conrad Lewis, Eric Lee and Aaron Caso. Photo credit: Carissa Cicalese
The classic 70’s movie musical gets a fresh, innovative spin by Mountain Lakes High School students in June While COVID-19 has disrupted most live performances, Mountain Lakes High School found a way for the show to go on. Fully-produced live performances of Grease will run Thursday, June 10 through 12 in an outdoor performance space within the student parking lot. Audiences will be asked to social distance; masks are required in the sports bleachers or BYO-chairs that will be stationed 360 degrees around the stage. Local vendors such as Scoop House and Friends of the Arts will be selling pre-packaged concessions, and Food Trucks will be on hand to provide 50’s-era refreshments. The 36-student cast has worked extensively on choreography with Jelani Remy, star of Broadway’s Ain’t Too Proud, as well as acting technique with Michael Hollick from Broadway’s The Lion King. Summer 2021
Remy is a resident of Cedar Grove, and Hollick is a Mountain Lakes community member. Both professionals were happy to contribute to local educational productions while waiting for their respective shows to open back up. “Grease was the first show I did in high school, and it’s been amazing to work with the Mountain Lakes kids. They are ‘go-for-its’. They go for any idea,” says Remy. “It’s inspiring to know their light for theatre has never gone off.” Additionally, a storied Mountain Lakes alumni will be making a return for the shows — but this time, as an audience member and special guest. Jamie Donnelly, MLHS Class of 1964, starred in both the musical and film versions of Grease. She currently resides in Los Angeles, but plans to visit Mountain Lakes for the shows in June. “Playing Jan in Grease on Broadway and then in the movie was a joy,”
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Lakers Sports 24th Annual Golf Outing Scholarship Honorees
Thank you to all who made the 24th annual Lakers Sports Club Golf outing a success! A special thanks goes out to our sponsors. Congratulations to the 2021 scholarship winners, Savannah Sutter, Kenna Franzblau, Joseph Mucci and Riley Albregts.
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The Cast of MLHS’ Grease Takes the Stage (Continued from Page 5)
Donnelly said. “Of course, I drew from my experience as a student at MLHS. What fun to see today’s students making Grease their own!” Christine Penney, theater director at Mountain Lakes High School, acknowledged the impact that the health pandemic has had on theatre this past year. “Working with these kids has been a boon to my soul. Having art to fall back on and the knowledge that we were in it together has been one of the best things for my own mental health. These are certainly not normal circumstances, but we don’t mind. We’re making it work and it’s so worth it.” This past fall, the MLHS theatre presented Romeo & Juliet outdoors, with 25 students and stricter rules for social distancing. “Grease” is the first l arge-scale production for the school year. Additionally, a special dress rehearsal performance (Continued on Page 10)
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Broadway performer Jelani Remy is choreographer and assistant director for Grease. Photo courtesy of: Jelani Remy
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James Purcell and Brooke Harry star as Kenickie and Rizzo. Photo credit: Carissa Cicales www.morrisfocus.news
Matta Donna Ristorante & Pizzeria: Elegant Upscale and Classy Ambiance On Main Street in the quaint, historic, little downtown of Boonton, it is not difficult to find several popular and excellent Italian restaurants dotted along the rows of small storefront businesses, but just a short drive away on Myrtle Avenue, separated from the crowd, you will find yet another gem you should seriously consider putting on your radar. Matta Donna Italian Ristorante & Pizzeria, a family-owned, and operated fine dining venue opened its doors in October of 2009, after taking over the prior location of Eduardo’s Pizzeria, which was owned by the Mastria family and which stood at that location for the 30 years prior. As one would expect, after 30 years major renovations were in order and the new owners wasted no time in putting their dream to work. On your visit to Matta Donna’s, you will find an establishment that is somewhat elegant, with an upscale and classy ambiance; yet still manages to feel cozy and comfortable. The well-thought-out setting is undoubtedly an expression of pride by the owners. The vibe is fun, cheerful, and welcoming, and yet somehow exudes a feeling that you are in store for a more sophisticated, formal dining experience. Simply, if you are looking for fine Italian dining which also offers some interestingly cool pizzas, Matta Donna might just be your place. As soon as you enter you immediately are struck
Goat Cheese and Carmelized Onions Pizza Summer 2021
Ed, Barbara and Zach Joyce
by the beautiful, reddish/brown oak woodwork throughout the interior dining room and bar. The appealing soft hues of the rich wood, which includes the wall paneling, floors, tables, and bar, lends itself to a sophisticated décor and ambiance that immediately exudes a feeling of warmth and comfort. The gorgeous wood is complimented with several pieces of beautiful artwork that adorns the walls and which adds another level of class to this already quietly elegant-looking venue. The dining room is spacious, airy, and nicely lighted by the restaurants’ large windows, and the tables are set up to be in full compliance with today’s pandemic safety requirements. On entry, we were warmly greeted, thanked for our visit, and offered our choice of tables. We chose a nice corner table with a lot of light. A basket of hot bread (whole grain and Crusty White), butter, and infused Olive Oil quickly arrived, and our drink order was taken without delay. I went with a Woodford Manhattan this evening and the bartender personally came to our table to ask how I like it. He made it to perfection. Nice, personalized service. Our server, Jake, was extremely knowledgeable about the menu, in addition to being very personable, attentive, polite, and efficient at his job, as was the rest of the staff. Our menus were brought, and water was poured as our group looked over the multiple appetizing looking menu options. (Continued on Page 12)
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The Cast of MLHS’ Grease Takes the Stage (Continued from Page 8)
for all community members 55 years old and older will take place on Wednesday, June 9, 2021 at 4:30 p.m. Admission is complimentary to this performance, and no reservations are necessary. Grease performances take place June 10, 11 and 12 at 5:30 p.m. To buy general admission tickets for $10 each, go to https://mlhs.booktix.com/. SHOWTIMES: Thursday, June 10, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. Friday, June 16, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, June 17, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. LOCATION: 96 Powerville Road, Mountain Lakes, NJ For more information and to buy tickets: MLHS.booktix.com.
Toleeya Napolitano and Francis Turner star in MLHS’ Grease as Sandy and Danny. Photo credit: Carissa Cicalese
Cast of Grease at MLHS will perform June 10-12. Cast members: Toleeya Napolitano, Brooke Harry, Jamie Barnett, Josephine Hadjiloucas, Caroline Forte, Casey Covart, Maya Kalapatapu, Josh Caso, Catherine Pickett, Francis Turner, James Purcell, Conrad Lewis, Aaron Caso, Eric Lee, Rob Caruthers, Josh Caso, Hayley Perrault, Valentina Leba, Adam Lees, Anna Zollner, Arunima Paul, Ava Capetta, Ava Dzamba, Emily Pisano, Hayley Perrault, Ingrid Witty, Jacolyn Venezia, John Pietranera, Jonah Caso, Karri Li, Kayla Giordano, Leela Amarasiri, Lillian Xie, Madeline Laurens, Naomi Boswell, Valentina Leba and Yash Samat. Photo credit: Carissa Cicalese 10 l Tri-Town Focus Magazine
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Matta Donna Ristorante & Pizzeria (Continued from Page 9)
Zach Joyce, who along with his brother, Edward, owns and operates this family-owned, independent eatery stopped by our table which gave me a chance to get some background information on Matta Donna. I was curious about the name of the r estaurant, which being of Italian heritage, I knew translated to “Crazy Woman”. Zach laughed and explained that though the name does mean “Crazy Woman” it actually came from a ranch the family had owned in Wyoming, where there is an area called “Crazy Woman Creek” and that it is not a reference to anyone in particular. Zach told me that his brother, Ed, a classically trained Chef, runs the kitchen while he runs the front of the house. Mother, Barbara Joyce, who is also a classically trained pastry Chef, does not work in the restaurant but does supply them with several of her specialty desserts. Zach made it clear that all three have their roles in serving the area with fine, gourmet Italian cuisine, and of course, those specialty pizzas. My inquiry then led to the bar’s countertop, which I previously knew has quite an interesting back story. The bar’s countertop is comprised of teak, which was acquired from salvaged deck planks directly
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Matta Donna Ristorante & Pizzeria is located at 304 Myrtle Avenue, Boonton.
from the USS North Carolina, the most decorated battleship during WWII, and which was involved in every major naval offensive in the Pacific during that time. Interestingly, North Carolina was being restored around the same time that the restaurant was being renovated. The somewhat rotted ship planks which were being replaced were acquired by Min-Craft Custom Cabinetry in Dover who meticulously restored the planks and utilized them to create the unique top of the appealing bar. Being a Navy veteran, I found this particularly exciting, not to mention patriotic and historic. The USS North Carolina, once considered the World’s greatest sea weapon, is presently a tourist attraction in Wilmington, NC. It
(Continued on Page 15)
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Grilled Hot Sausage over Arugula www.morrisfocus.news
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Tri-Town Focus Magazine l 13
Morris County Athletes of the Year
Congratulations to Morris County Athletes of the Year Tristan Plotts and Ava Samay who were honored last night at Boonton High School. As scholar athletes representing Mountain Lakes, Tristan has committed to play lacrosse at Drexel University and Ava is headed off to UVA this fall. Tristan Plotts was a member of the Mountain Lakes team that won the 2019 New Jersey T ournament of Champions. He was nominated as a top sophomore by NJ.com. He is a two-sport athlete who also made 2nd Team All-Conference in football. Honorable Mention All-State; 2nd Team All-Conference; Maverick Showtime All-Star and Apex 60 All-Star. 14 l Tri-Town Focus Magazine
Matta Donna was a Great Stop. Delicious food, Excellent Service, Moderate Prices Parmesan, served over pasta. The Cowboy Steak was prepared to melt-in-your-mouth excellence, savory, juicy, well-seasoned, and cooked perfectly to my specifications. The ample amount of cut fries were nice and crispy, and the green beans were fresh and slightly crunchy to the bite. The Filet Mignon and Veal Parmesan, which I, unfortunately, did not get to try, were also met with rave reviews. By now, everyone was clearly happy and satiated but how could you leave without one of Barbara’s decadent desserts. I went with the homemade Blueberry Tart. Bursting with the fresh flavor of blueberries, with a deliciously textured homemade crust, this was a decadent and delectably good choice. Not too sweet, not too tart, exactly right! Went great with a meal ending Cappuccino. My guest’s Chocolate Lava Cake was also a home run. Matta Donna was a great stop. Delicious food, excellent service, moderate prices, great people, and what looks like a great bar scene. Next stop, I might just have to hit up the bar to enjoy one of
Shrimp Appetizer (Continued from Page 12)
was nice to see Zach express such pride in his family and their restaurant.
(Continued on Page 18)
Time to eat! For our appetizers, we decided to share one of their small pizza’s that I have heard good things about, the specialty Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onions Pizza. We also went with the Grilled Hot Sausage over Arugula, with roasted red peppers and fresh mozzarella cheese, with a balsamic reduction, and the Shrimp Special. Did I mention, to complement your meal they offer a nice variety of wines at reasonable prices. All the appetizers were delicious. I would not have ever thought of ordering a Goat Cheese pizza, but I found it delicious and perfectly prepared. Tasty, thin-crust (you can order it thin or regular crust) and fully cooked to a nice, crunchy texture. The Sausage married perfectly with the peppers and mozzarella and was a treat; and the Shrimp, sweet with a deliciously tender texture, covered in a slightly creamy sauce. Great start! For an entrée, I decided on their Cowboy Rib Eye, an 18 oz grilled, bone-in, Angus steak, topped with garlic-herb butter and served with hand-cut fries and sauteed green beans. My guests went with the Grilled Filet Mignon, served with sautéed mushrooms, and roasted red peppers, with a cabernet wine sauce; served with roasted potatoes and broccoli, and the Veal Cutlet Summer 2021
Tri-Town Focus Magazine l 15
Christopher Petonak Promoted to Sergeant
Town of Boonton Mayor Richard Corcoran sworn-in sergeant, Christopher Petonak. Mr. Petonak was promoted from the role of patrolman to that of Sergeant.
Gannon, first responders, representatives of Eagle Martial Arts, and several Town officials.
The swearing-in ceremony attended by his family, Mayor Corcoran, Sheriff James
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Matta Donna was a Great Stop. Delicious food, Excellent Service, Moderate Prices
Matta Donna Ristorante & Pizzeria is located at 304 Myrtle Avenue, Boonton
Cowboy Rib Eye (Continued from Page 15)
their sandwiches, or a burger, both of which I hear is excellent; along with a beer or two. I certainly would recommend stopping in and giving it a try. I am confident you will enjoy your dining experience, I did. Private Parking Lot, Dine-In, Take-Out, Delivery, Curbside Pickup Hours of Operation: Monday and Saturday 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Tuesday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Northern Italian Restaurant with Full Bar ServicePizza, Pasta, Chicken, Beef, Pork & Vegetarian Meals. Matta Donna Ristorante & Pizzeria is located at 304 Myrtle Avenue, Boonton. (973) 334-7138; https:// www.mattadonna.com
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CCM Celebrates Class of 2021 with a Graduate Walk and Virtual Ceremony Graced with a warm spring day, graduates from the Class of 2021 at County College of Morris (CCM) were able to take part in two special celebrations on Friday, May 21, marking their outstanding success in the face of a pandemic and the resulting challenges. Hundreds of students took part in a graduation walk where they were able to celebrate with a small gathering of family and friends, receive their diploma and have a formal photo taken to mark the occasion. Then in the evening, a virtual celebration premiered on YouTube at 7:30 p.m. The Class of 2021 consists of more than 1,250 graduates – the largest graduating class in CCM’s history. The ceremony can be viewed at www.ccm.edu/graduation/. “We call you Titans and no class has earned the title more in the history of County College of Morris,” said Dr. Anthony J. Iacono, president of CCM, noting that one of the meanings of Titan is a person of great achievement. “And that is you. You have shown us greatness and achievement. You had to learn how to persevere, demonstrate resiliency and determination. I know through this class, through these Titans, our communities, our nation and our world will be better for all people.” As part of providing high-quality, nationally ranked academic programs, CCM instills in its students the importance of community engagement. Reflecting that commitment, this year’s keynote speaker was Richard T. Thigpen, Senior Vice President – Corporate Citizenship at PSEG and Chairman of the PSEG Foundation. He also was a former assistant to the president of the NAACP State Conference for Public Affairs and currently serves on the boards of the New Jersey Climate Change Alliance, the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus Foundation and the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund. “All of you – each and every one of you – will contribute in ways large and small to shaping the future of your community, our state and our country,” said Thigpen. “Today is a day not only to look back at what you have accomplished. Today is also a day to look forward. Lead by example. Respect your fellow man and woman. Dream big dreams. You all have a role in shaping a future where the world is a better place.” Speaking on behalf of the Class of 2021 was Jenna Curran, of Denville, who served as Student Government president. Curran was named a 2021 Phi Theta Kappa Coca-Cola Gold Scholar for her academic excellence. “As a class, we have been through the unimaginable but have persevered Summer 2021
through it all,” noted Curran. “We should all be so beyond proud of ourselves. We pushed through the face of adversity.” This year’s Peace Prize, which is awarded annually at commencement, went to Brenden Morton, of Washington, who created a musical composition “Liebe und Frieden” (Love and Peace). His faculty advisor was Professor Dee McAree. The college established this annual award following the September 11, 2001 attacks. The creator of the winning entry receives a $1,000 award provided by the CCM Foundation. The college also has several Class of 2021 graduates featured on its website at www.ccm.edu/celebrating-our-2021-graduates/. Highlighted on that page are: Abdallah Abualhuda, of Rockaway, who majored in biology and worked as a charge nurse in a nursing home during the pandemic while earning his degree. Nicholas Cruz, of Towaco, an information technology major, who came back to CCM to earn a second associate degree while also working on his master’s degree at William Paterson. Dr. Geordie Grant, of Denville, who majored in mathematics. After retiring as a physician anesthesiologist from the East Orange VA Medical Center, she decided to pursue her passion for helping others as a math tutor. Travis Herbst, of Parsippany, a nursing major. After working as a garbage collector for several years and earning an associate in criminal justice from CCM, he decided to come back to the college to pursue his real dream of becoming a nurse. Nick Fiorey, of Budd Lake, who majored in biology at CCM after attending the college as a high school student in its Challenger Program.
Tri-Town Focus Magazine l19
Morris County Lacrosse Champions
Mountain Lakes High School Boys Lacrosse Team for winning the Morris County Championship at Mount Olive High School crushing the Chatham Cougars 10-2. This was Mountain Lakes’ first County Championship since 2012. Special Laker Shout Out to Riley Albregts on being named MVP!
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The 2021 Trout Derby was a Blast
The 2021 Trout Derby was a blast even though the trout were not biting. We can all agree, creating experiences with friends and family is the biggest catch of the day. Thank you Dr. Ron Gironda and the Trout Derby Committee for hosting one of the best traditions of Mountain Lakes. Congratulation to Jack Oakes for catching the biggest trout and Nate Merrett for winning the “Chief Joseph Spinozzi Memorial Award. Summer 2021
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Woman’s Club of Boonton Continues to Collect Sneakers The Woman’s Club of Boonton is continuing to collect new and gently used sneakers, through June 30. All sneakers collected from this sneaker drive collection fundraiser will support people in need or are repurposed into new surfaces such as playgrounds and tracks. Help keep your sneakers out of landfills and support the woman’s club efforts to raise funds for community service projects. Sneakers only may be dropped off at the Boonton Coffee Co, located at 516 Main Street, Boonton. Today women’s clubs meet for community service, developing friendships, and to have fun. The club continues to meet monthly, socialize and support the community, For more information, email the club at firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit their Face-
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book page. The Woman’s Club of Boonton is a member of the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs ( NJSFWC), a nonprofit, community service organization that was established in 1894, and founded the New Jersey College for Women, now Douglass Residential College in 1918.
Another Great Project by Boonton Main Street Design Team Volunteers Thanks to the hard work of Boonton Main Street, Inc. Design Team members Suzanne Guerin, Mark Hettrich, and Dave Woodhull, a beautiful new planter bed now greets visitors as they enter Boonton’s historic downtown district at the intersection of Highland Avenue and Main Street. These dedicated volunteers spent their day beautifying Boonton by giving the planter a much-needed facelift: breaking down the old planter bed’s weathered railroad ties and rebuilding its walls with a charming gray rumble stone. Passersby honked and waved with encouragement as they drove past throughout the day. Community member Jimmy Hodgins even dropped in to lend a hand for a while, which was greatly appreciated by the volunteers. Boonton DPW pitched in by placing traffic cones to keep the work zone safe and by disposing of the old materials. Assemblyman Brian Bergen, who was visiting small business owners in the area, stopped by to give volunteers some words of encouragement. “I was so impressed with the work these volunteers were doing for their community, I wanted to stop and express my gratitude. I believe volunteerism is part of what makes a great community, and the people I met on Main Street yesterday are setting a great example.” The planter bed has been maintained by BMS for many years. It is sponsored by Jane Conway, who originally donated its perennials and regularly mulches, weeds, and waters the bed to maintain its beautiful flowers all season long. Jane is a longtime volunteer with the organization and currently sits as the vice president of the BMS Board of Trustees. The Highland Avenue planter is only one of a number of landscaping initiatives managed by BMS volunteers. They maintain additional planters at the Plane St parking lot entrance, Essex Ave barrels, Overlook at Grace Lord Park, War Memorial on Main Street, post office round Summer 2021
and bench planters, and organize the donation of plants and labor to the large flower beds in front of the post office, graciously donated annually by Kohut and Sons Landscaping. Finally, BMS provides three-season flower urns (at cost) to storefronts along Main Street. If you are interested in beautifying the historic downtown district of Boonton or would like to volunteer your time and talents in other ways, please contact Laura Wagner, BMS Executive Director, at email@example.com. Share how you would like to be a part of the organization. Boonton Main Street, Inc. is a stand-alone 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to increasing awareness and foot traffic to benefit Boonton’s historic downtown district.
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Tri-Town Focus Magazine - Summer 2021