SOMERVILLE, NJ – Peter S. Palmer of Bernardsville was named 2017 director of the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders at the board’s annual reorganization meeting Friday, Jan. 6, with Patrick Scaglione of Bridgewater elected by his colleagues to serve as deputy director this year.

The annual reorganization meeting was held at the historic County Courthouse. Freeholder Patricia L. Walsh of Green Brook was sworn in to a fourth three-year term by Superior Court Assignment Judge Yolanda Ciccone after winning re-election in November. Other members of the board include Mark Caliguire of Montgomery and Brian D. Levine of Franklin.

Also taking the oath of office was Sheriff Frank J. Provenzano of Raritan, who was re-elected to a fifth three-year term in November.

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In his inaugural remarks, Palmer thanked the hundreds of volunteers whose involvement in many programs and agencies make it possible for Somerset County to achieve and maintain a high quality of life.

He also highlighted some of the past year’s accomplishments, including the opening of the new Bridgewater Senior Wellness Center, the Somerset County Library System’s designation as one of America’s Four Star Libraries, and the presentation of an international award, shared by only a handful of gardens in the United States, to Colonial Park for its rose garden.

“All of these achievements help to build Somerset County’s national reputation as a desirable place to live, work, learn and play,” he said.

But the work doesn’t stop there.

“One of our most important responsibilities is to work cooperatively and supportively with our 21 incredibly diverse communities and their municipal governments,” said Freeholder Director Palmer. “Every entity in county government is involved in this ongoing effort, one example of which is shared services.” 

Economic development also continues to be at the core of the Freeholders’ agenda. While in the '70s and '80s, the driving force was the development of stand-alone corporate campuses in suburban corn fields, growth is now focused back on downtowns and cities.

“Working through the Business Partnership, county Planning Board and others, the Freeholders continue to extend every effort to promote a priority investment framework to support the redevelopment of critical sites and attract new businesses throughout the county,” he said. “These initiatives have identified Somerset County as a place of innovative leadership.”

Somerset County also will continue to invest in its quality of life by preserving open space, farmland and historic sites, and by providing financial assistance to municipalities for the purchase of open space and the development of recreational facilities.

“All of our ongoing services and new initiatives are being accomplished within the fiscal constraints of our tax levy,” he noted.

Despite Somerset County’s many awards and accolades, the Freeholders are looking forward, not back, he said.

“We can’t be the best just by saying we are. We are competing against other counties, regions and states. We must continue to offer the best services and always look to improve them in a cost-effective manner. We must never be afraid to think and act boldly and creatively.”

To read the full text of Freeholder Director Palmer’s remarks, visit http://bit.ly/2017Reorg.