WEST ORANGE, NJ - A record crowd of 250 community members, business owners, students and officials turned out for Mayor Robert Parisi's Annual "State of the Township" Address at The Manor Restaurant on Jan. 29. The yearly event is sponsored by the West Orange Chamber of Commerce, and in addition to the Mayor's Speech, awards were presented to outstanding West Orange High School Seniors, Citizen and the Employee of the Year.
Highlights of the mayor's speech included the announcement of a new substation to be built at Mitchell Street and Valley Road; the addition of 10 new police officers this year; and that work would begin at the Harvard Press and Edison Battery Factory sites.
West Orange Chamber Vice-President Susan McCartney welcomed the crowd and the chamber officers were announced for the year: Paul Petigrow, president; Susan McCartney, vice-president; Bill Winans, treasurer; and Alice Beirne, secretary.
Chamber President Paul Petigrow introduced Parisi, who honored several seniors from West Orange High School that have excelled academically, athletically, and in school and community involvement. Those students were: Susannah Crowell (Valedictorian), Hannah Rudoltz, Emily Adelsohn, Julia Rucko, Rose Cherilus, and Dylan Pennell.
Gregory Bullock was named Citizen of the Year. Bullock has worked on the West Orange Human Relations Commission since its inception; was a founding member of the West Orange African Heritage Organization; and has been on the Zoning Board for several years. Bullock was touched by the award, saying, "We moved here several years ago from the plains of Texas," and waxing nostalgic, cited several West Orange residents that he looked to over the years for support. His children attended West Orange Schools, and "that education has served them well," noted Bullock.
Sgt. John Morella of the West Orange Police Department was named Employee of the Year. Morella was the first School Resource Officer at West Orange High School 11 years ago and is currently assigned to the Community Services Unit, located at the Washington Avenue Substation. Morella raised funding and recruited help to completely refurbish the substation free of charge. He also spearheaded the Mock Shooter Drill at Liberty Middle School in August of 2013, which has become a training tool for officers and emergency response personnel.
One of the most touching moments of the Mayor's speech was his announcement that the Washington Avenue Substation will be renamed the Timothy Groves Community Substation. Officer Groves passed away last fall from a long battle with cancer. He grew up in the area and worked in the CSU.
Here is the full text of the Mayor's Speech: