LIVINGSTON, NJ - The Livingston Area Chamber of Commerce is holding its annual Awards Dinner on Wednesday, April 30, at 6 p.m., at the Westminster Hotel, where the members of the Livingston Community listed below will be honored. The public is invited to attend the event. For more information, call (973) 992-4343.

The honorees are:

  • Business of the Year—Westminster Hotel and Strip House
  • Civic Leader of the Year—Stephen Santola
  • Fireman of the Year—William “Bill” Raab
  • Teacher of the Year—Mary Oates
  • Police Officer of the Year—Richard P. Howard, Jr.
  • First Aid Squad Member of the Year—Stacey Melhorn

“The Chamber is looking forward to honoring all of the honorees for all of the great things that they do for the Livingston Community,” said President of Livingston Area Chamber of Commerce Monte Ehrenkranz, and vice-president/business development, Regal Bank. “This community is well known for its volunteerism, and each individual and business being honored exemplifies why this town is a great place to live, work and do business.”

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“This event is so special every year because it honors so many people from our town that do so much to make Livingston a strong community to work, live and play in,” echoed Marie Bennet, a member of the chamber. “I call it the social event of the year because we have such a great group of people who attend.”

Livingston’s Business of the Year, the Westminster Hotel, an AAA Four Diamond hotel, offers stylish contemporary hotel guest rooms and suites, meeting facilities, social event venues, banquet rooms and outdoor event space for special occasions. The hotel also boasts a day spa, a state-of-the-art health and fitness center, indoor heated swimming pool and Jacuzzi, as well as the Strip House Restaurant.

Executive Director of the Livingston Area Chamber of Commerce Beth Lippman said, “Livingston is glad that this “chic” hotel and fine restaurant, the Westminster Hotel and Strip House, calls Livingston “home.” They support our local business community by providing their facilities and catering events, and they have supported annual events for Township committees and organizations.”

Civic Leader of the Year, Stephen Santola, served on the Town Council for 12 years, and as Livingston’s Mayor. While serving on the Town Council, he established the Open Space Commission and contributed to renovating the athletic fields, formed a sports council and opened the first dog park in the county.

“Steve Santola continues to give his time to the Town,” said Lippman. “He serves on the planning board and chairs the Camuso Holiday Display committee too.”

“Steve has served Livingston since his high school years,” said Mayor Michael Reiber. “He has held leadership positions in almost everything he has become involved in. His love of his family, friends, and of Livingston is unshakable. The knowledge and experience not only in how to be a successful leader, but in advancing programs and development that serves the businesses and the residents of Livingston is unparalleled. Steve has given of his time, sweat, and tears to better everyone's lives in a thoughtful deliberate way, and we are a better town for it. I am grateful to have been able to serve with Steve Santola on the Town Council. He has been and remains a great mentor. I am lucky to be able to call him my friend.”

Fireman of the Year, William “Bill” Raab, was nominated by Fire Chief Christopher Mullin “for his dedication and devotion to the Township of Livingston through his service over the past 52 years as a volunteer firefighter. Chief Mullin said, “He has held the Officers positions of Warden, Lieutenant and Captain and has made many positive contributions to the Fire Department.”

In nominating Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Mary Oates, as Teacher of the Year, Superintendent John Alfieri said, “She is an active member of the Livingston Public Schools community who unites our schools with many of the wonderful opportunities, programming and activities that enrich the lives of our children and create meaningful opportunities for teaching and learning.”

Chief of Police Craig Handschuch nominated Richard P. Howard Jr. as Police Officer of the Year. Officer Howard joined the Livingston Police Department in October 1995. He holds numerous law enforcement certifications and serves as a member of the Livingston Police Department’s Emergency Services Unit. He is also the recipient of numerous commendations from both the Livingston Police Department and the Essex County PBA.

“Officer Howard’s primary assignment is in the Patrol Division where he has distinguished himself as a very proactive officer for over the last 18 years,” said Handschuch.

First Aid Squad Member of the Year, Stacey Melhorn, was nominated by Vice President First Aid Squad Wayne Brandt who said, “Stacey Melhorn has been an exemplary member of our organization since 2000. When not responding to emergency calls, Mrs. Melhorn serves as our Recording Secretary, a role that she has held since 2005. In this role Mrs. Melhorn maintains official records, records meeting minutes, sends and receives communications and submits our annual report to the NJ First Aid Council, just to name a few. In addition to all of these activities, she also currently holds one of the two Lieutenant positions where she assists the Captain in the day-to-day operations of the organization.”