WEST ORANGE – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. is welcoming the New Jersey Clean Communities Council (NJCCC) to its 14th-annual conference, being held this year at the Essex County South Mountain Recreation Complex and Turtle Back Zoo on May 24-26. The 14th-Annual Conference, is expected to be the largest yet.

Organizers are now preparing for a record turnout of school children, anti-litter advocates and policy makers to attend the three-day event.

“The large number of children from throughout the state participating in this event illustrates that our children understand the importance of protecting the environment and keeping their neighborhoods free of litter,” DiVincenzo said. “As a longtime supporter, I applaud the Clean Communities Program for creating excitement among young people to take an active role in enhancing the areas where they live.”

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NJCCC Executive Director Sandy Huber said the council is careful and deliberate in selecting the location for the conference, which is the largest annual gathering of the council each year. Huber said locations are selected based on the quality of local venues, amenities for children and places that remain attractive because of a strategic, anti-litter focus. Recent conferences  were held in Atlantic City, Long Branch and Jersey City.

“We are tremendously excited for Essex County to host this year’s event,” Huber said. “Our venue selection is attracting many new attendees to our conference and Essex County is eager to showcase the many, many improvements over the years in South Mountain. The county executive and his staff have been wonderful hosts and truly appreciate this opportunity for their hard work to be showcased.”

It all begins May 24 with the Kids-Teens Awards at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo. The awards are presented to young people (under the age of 18) who have contributed to a clean New Jersey. The program creates awareness among youth about litter-related issues, promotes a cleanliness ethic, and fosters an understanding of the state’s natural beauty and habitats.

On May 25, educational seminars will be planned for Clean Communities Coordinators around the state at McLoone’s Boathouse, followed by an annual reception and awards dinner at the Pleasantdale Chateau.  Featured guests will include many local dignitaries, including Assemblyman John F. McKeon and West Orange Mayor Robert D. Parisi.

The annual conference concludes on May 26, with a “Breakfast of Champions” at the nearby Wilshire Grand Hotel in West Orange.

The conference is sponsored by NJCCC, in conjunction with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, the Rutgers University Office of Continuing Professional Education, The County of Essex and the Township of West Orange.