Giving Back

Five People and Three Businesses Honored at The Chamber’s 2013 Awards Reception

Allan Janoff, owner of the Crystal Plaza accepting his honor for Business of the Year Credits: Jessica Marrone Parkes
Jennifer Chciuk, owner of West Essex Tribune, accepting her award for Business of the Year Credits: Jessica Marrone Parkes
Dante Passerinis of Karig's, accepting the award for Business of the Year Credits: Jessica Marrone Parkes
Alan Karpas, Livingston Civic Leader of the Year and Mayor Rudy Fernandez. Credits: Jessica Marrone Parkes
Superintendent Dr. Brad Draeger and Livingston Board of Education’s Teacher of the Year, Lucy Lee Credits: Jessica Marrone Parkes
Livingston First Aid Squad’s Member of the Year, Ann Freeman Credits: Jessica Marrone Parkes
Livingston Fire Department’s Firefighter of the Year, Franklin T. Leck (left) and Fire Chief Chris Mullin (right) Credits: Jessica Marrone Parkes
Livingston Police Department’s Police Officer of the Year, Lt. John P. Durkin Credits: Jessica Marrone Parkes
  Livingston Councilman Al Anthony, Governor Richard Codey and Michael McMane, Former Livingston Chamber President Credits: Jessica Marrone Parkes
Livingston Chamber members Beth Lippman, Punam Bhargava and Marie Bennett draw the winners for local business prize give-aways.  Credits: Jessica Marrone Parkes
Regal Bank Employees: Susan Specchio, Sheena Lassiter, Christina Slater, Monte Ehrenkranz, Albert Salas, Tina Parsons (sitting), Sabina Deagazio, Jonathan Ocampo Credits: Jessica Marrone Parkes

LIVINGSTON, NJ – On the evening of May 1, the Chamber and over 200 Livingston residents gathered to honor local businesses and outstanding citizens at Cedar Hill Golf and Country Club.

In tradition, The Chamber honored several individuals but in honor of celebrating Livingston at 200 they also honored three of Livingston’s oldest businesses.

The event, which prior Chamber president and current board member, Marie Bennett, called “the township social event of the year,” in a recent TAP article attracted a soiree of Livingston business owners, as well as politicians. Governor Richard Codey, Assemblyman John F. McKeon, Livingston Mayor Rudy Fernandez and Councilmen Michael Silverman and Al Anthony were all in attendance.

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“Congratulations to all of the honorees,” stated Mayor Rudy Fernandez. “I feel lucky to have so many wonderful volunteers and employees throughout Livingston. Thanks also to the Chamber of Commerce for hosting this fabulous event again this year.”

The following were honored at the event:

Businesses of the Year:

Crystal Plaza , which was honored for its 96 years of service, was purchased in 1965 by current owner Allan Janoff’s grandparents, Max and Anna Janoff. The building was originally constructed in the 1890s and went through many renovations and uses prior to its purchase by the Janoff family, who named it the Crystal Plaza because of its crystal chandeliers and beautiful glasswork. Since then, the facility has serviced over 10 million illustrious guests, and the family has maintained a deep-seeded commitment to philanthropic missions within the community. Allan proudly accepted the award.

Karig's Hardware was honored for its 90-year anniversary. The store was founded in 1923, and has been the go-to spot for hard-to-find, and every-day items ever since. The store, which boasts more than 60,000 items, is run by three generations of Passerinis—twins Carl and Ernie, who bought it in 1968, Carl’s son Rick and Rick’s son Dante.  Dante accepted the award on the store’s behalf.

West Essex Tribune was honored for keeping Livingston residents “in the know” for 83 years. The paper was founded in 1929 and purchased in 1980 by E. Christopher “Kit” Cone, who became the editor and publisher. In 2002, his daughter Jennifer Chciuk bought it from him upon his retirement, and has been the publisher ever since. Since the early days, when offices could be reached by dialing “Livingston 343” to now, where the paper boasts a Facebook page, the weekly paper has kept Livingston residents well informed and has been a boon to the community. Jennifer accepted the award for the paper.

Livingston Civic Leader of the YearAlan Karpas, a 43-year town resident, was selected for his volunteerism and dedication to improving the lives of Livingston residents. He Chairs the Vision 20/20 committee, served as the first president of HCHY and now serves as its treasurer. He Chaired the Skate Park Committee and runs Youth Appreciation Week. He is an organizer of “Stuff the Bus,” as a participant of the Livingston Food Donation Committee and works closely with CHOW. He helped organize the Livingston Robotics Club and sits on the Board. He also serves on the Committees for Disabilities, Camuso Holiday Collection, Transportation Advisory, and the Green Committee. In addition, he is a member of the Citizens Institute Board and is presently running the Shuttle service from the Livingston Mall to the South Orange Train Station for the Livingston Commuters.

Martha Ackermann presented Karpas with his award and said, “Allan unselfishly gives 200 percent to the community.”

Individual Honorees:

Livingston Board of Education’s Teacher of the Year, Lucy Lee was named Teacher of the Year by LHS, and also by West Essex. She is also in the running for the award from NJ. She has taught at LHS since 1990, and is a master teacher in the classroom, a respected educational leader in the community, and a strong advocate for Chinese language education, both nationally and internationally.

Superintendent Dr. Brad Draeger presented Lee with her award and said, “Long before I got to Livingston, I knew of Lucy Lee because people have always said she is the best Chinese teacher in the US.”

Lee said, “It is a great honor to be here tonight. When I came here 30 years ago, I would never have believed I would be standing here receiving such an honor.”

Livingston First Aid Squad’s Member of the Year, Ann Freeman has been an EMT instructor for 25 years and joined the Livingston First aid Squad in 1990. Over the years, she has been Lieutenant Captain and President of the Livingston First Aid Squad, and, for 22 years, she has been the Training and Certification officer for the squad.

Craig Melhorn presented the award to Freeman and said, “We are very grateful to Ann for all of her hard work and especially for her dedication to the Training and Certification Program.”

Freeman said, “I bring them in to the hospital as an EMT, and then visit them the next day as a Patient Representative, so I know first-hand that they are getting great care both medically and emotionally at Saint Barnabas.”

Livingston Fire Department’s Firefighter of the Year, Franklin T. Leck has been a dedicated volunteer firefighter for 54 years, and has held the Company Officers positions of Lieutenant, Captain and Deputy Chief.

Chief Chris Mullin awarded Leck with his award and said “Not only is he a 54-year volunteer firefighter, but he is also a great self-employed plumber.”

Leck stated, “I have always loved being a firefighter, and have never had a bad day.”

Livingston Police Department’s Police Officer of the Year, Lt. John P. Durkin, a 40-year member of department, is the recipient of numerous commendations from both the LPD and the Essex County PBA. He has served as a member of the Livingston Police Revolver Team and Essex County Revolver League for many years, and is qualified as an Expert Marksman. He has long served as the Range Master of the department’s Firearms Program and continues to train recruits, veteran officers, and Auxiliary Officers.

Following the sit-down-meal and award presentations, Marie Bennett, began choosing the names of the winners of the 60 raffles items donated by local business members including: Above Restaurant and Bar, Adornments, Ajay Shah, The Alternative Press, Saint Barnabas Health, Boston Ice Cream Co., Calabria’s, CC Nails, Cedar Hill, Dr. Tetley DMD, Dr. Todd Morrow, Focus on Hair, Gella Seiden, Georgia Solotoff, Jan Press PhotoMedia, Jonathan Bressman, Kings Supermarkets, Livingston Symphony Orchestra, Livingston Camera, Louis Urban, Marie Bennett, Nana’s Deli, PIP Printing, Pretzel Factory, Pups @ Play, Regal Bank, Stephen Schwartz, The Bitton Family, The Dry Clean Spot, The Strip House and World Wide Packaging.

Attendees expressed their excitement, appreciation and reflected on the evening.

Jan Press of Jan Press PhotoMedia said, “Being on the Chamber’s Board of Directors, I am happy to see that the event has grown and that so many of our town’s volunteers have been honored for their fine service. I look forward to next year where the event will grow even larger, with even more volunteers to be recognized.”

“As always, this has been another great event hosted by the Chamber,” stated Councilman Michael Silverman. “It has to be difficult to decide who to honor each year because we have so many dedicated volunteers in this town,” he added with a smile.

Councilman Al Anthony added to the discussion by saying, “It was a great evening honoring the extra-ordinary efforts of people who make Livingston a great place to live.”

Louis LaSalle, Vice President-External Affairs at Saint Barnabas Health Care System said, “The Livingston Chamber is an outstanding business opportunity for people to grow their businesses. To honor those honored this evening is what it’s all about—they give to the community all of the time.”

“This is one the best events they have run,” said Marvin Goldstein, owner of Northfield Pharmacy. “This Awards event is fantastic and it gets bigger and bigger every year. I am already and looking forward to next year’s event. It has really been a pleasure and a privilege to be involved with the Chamber.”

To see photos from the event and/or add your own, please see and like the TAP-Livingston Facebook Page

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