BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ Brooks Betz, who runs the Mr. Local History website and has been a longtime volunteer with many Somerset Hills historic organizations, has been appointed as Bernards Township's new township historian.

Betz, whose appointment was approved by the Bernards Township Committee on Tuesday night, fills a vacancy left by the late June Kennedy. He has been a township resident since 2006.

The position of township historian was created in 1990, and is an annual appointment that expires at the end of each year. In the past, the position was filled by Kennedy, whose last appointment expired on Dec. 31, 2010, and the position has been vacant since that time, according to the township.

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Betz has volunteered at the Historical Society of the Somerset Hills, as well as the Friends of the Jacobus Vanderveer House in Bedminster. Both he and Kennedy were trustees at the historical society, which is based in Basking Ridge.

Betz regularly updates the Mr. Local History website regularly. For Halloween, he posted, "Horror in the Somerset Hills," with links to local lore and videos. 

Betz said his "Mr. Local History" icon has taken off, and the Mr. Local History Project is filing for non-profit status. Among his projects are a Somerset Hills history coloring book, for sale on the website.

Township artist Linda Arnold, who was honored at this year's Mayor's Arts Award ceremony, provided illustrations for the book.

"I'm always looking to find new and interesting history about the area, and then share it with others," Betz said in his background bio.

Betz' Twitter account, @mrlocalhistory, says he is "following in the footsteps of our local historian June Kennedy, who recently passed." There is also a Mr. Local History Facebook page.

Betz said he and his wife, Jill, have three children, Hunter, Samantha and Rachel. The older two have graduated from Ridge High School, and Rachel graduates this year, he said.