HOPATCONG, NJ - A cold January night did not stop Hopatcong residents from filling town hall to witness two council members be sworn in, and a preliminary budget get approved at the borough’s 2013 reorganization meeting.
Mayor Sylvia Petillo and the council approved three resolutions: one for the temporary budget for $3,515,747; the sewer utility budget for $441,000; and the water budget for $138,000.
The night was filled with much fanfare, as Marie Galate and Richard Bunce were sworn in as council members. Both won reelection in November, and both will serve terms until Dec. 31, 2015.
Petillo highlighted a host of borough highlights throughout the year, including Hopatcong’s first award from the Sussex County Economic Development Partnership, a municipal award for “the borough’s commitment and outstanding efforts in fostering an ‘open for business’ attitude,” Petillo said.
She also mentioned the borough’s inaugural year of the Farmer’s Market.
“This became the business and social event of the summer,” Petillo said. “The market came alive with the taste of summer and fall produce, fruits and colorful flowers, plus a wide variety of other specialty items.” She said that a bigger Farmer’s Market is on tap for 2013.
Along with other highlights like the Hopatcong Community Garden and the successful Hopatcong Days celebration, Petillo said that images of Superstorm Sandy remain on residents’ minds.
“The storm left Hopatcong devastated,” she said, adding that several groups organized a regional shelter at the high school, that served about 500 people per day, and served more than 1000 meals a day during the storm.
“I was most certainly humbled as I watched victims who had lost their homes come to the shelter and comfort others who were also in need,” she said.
Galate and Bunce also made comments after they were sworn in.
“It does my heart proud to see so many people coming together to celebrate Hopatcong,” Galate said, before pinpointing many of the borough’s 2012 highlights.
“The Community Garden came to fruition this year, and it is beautiful,” she said.
“And Fireman’s Park and its September 11 memorial is simply exquisite,” he added.
Galate also gave kudos to the police honor guard, which got off the ground in 2012, and made its first appearance at the Memorial Day parade.
“These officers aren’t doing this because they have to, it’s because they want to,” she said.
Galate also mentioned Superstorm Sandy during her comments.
“A reporter asked me where I would be on election night, and I said at the shelter,” she related. “I couldn’t think of anyplace else I should have been at that time. And I’m so grateful that, even though there was little I could do to campaign, you reelected me, and I thank you for that.”
Bunce thanked Galate as his running mate, and the mayor and council as a whole.
“Mayor Petillo has guided this town through some difficult economic times, and I’m proud to serve with her and the council,” he said. “This governing body has helped to lower costs, increase revenue and offer quality services to this town.
“We’re also realizing economic growth with the advent of new businesses in town,” he added. “We have a real can-do attitude and we’ve shown ourselves to be a business-friendly town.”
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