MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Township Chamber of Commerce held its 55th annual awards ceremony and honored six township leaders and an outstanding organization on March 10.

This is part three of a three-part series recognizing the awardees.

Citizen of the Year

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Former Mayor James Sandham Jr. was named Citizen of the Year.

Chamber Board of Directors Member Joseph O’Dowd introduced Sandham, saying he originally started in the Lincoln Park Jaycees and was elected six years later as president of the NJ Jaycees. In 2002 Sandham was elected to the board of education and in 2005 was elected to the township committee. He served four terms as mayor.

O’Dowd said his public career is all about service to others.

Sandham said that following the storms, residents don’t understand what the employees do.

“They think it’s magic – but moving trees, I guarantee you, is not part of their job description,” he said.

Sandham said he appreciated the support of his wife, family, friends and mentors.

“The idea of helping others started with my maternal grandparents, who lived next door while I was growing up in the Bronx,” he said. “They owned an Italian bakery in Harlem during the Depression and I heard stories about how they made sure they always had leftover bread at the end of the day for needy families – putting it ‘on account’ so the families would maintain their dignity, but never collecting on those accounts.”

“My father was another inspiration. He joined the Merchant Marines during WWII. One vet I spoke to stated, ‘They were sitting ducks!’ My father was on a ship that was bombed, was thrown to a deck below and broke bones. But he went back, and then was on a ship that was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and spent seven days in a life raft before being rescued.

“After my dad had a heart attack and was bed-ridden, my mom went out to work before ‘working moms’ was even a term,” he said.

Sandham said he appreciated the results of his 12 years with the township committee, but was especially proud of the law he helped to get into legislature, now called the Safer Schools bill. Read about it here.

“In 2011, a father came to me about a predator in our recreation program, who was also a teacher.  I guided him to the proper authorities and the police investigated.  After two years of working with Assemblyman Jay Webber, a bill was introduced in the legislature requiring adequate background checks and providing protection for the referring school system against lawsuits. That bill gained momentum in 2017 based on news media publicity and just recently passed both houses of the New Jersey Legislature unanimously.  Now when does that ever happen!?!?  Governor Murphy now needs to sign it!

“My regret is that the father who came forward, Dan Doetterwich, has since passed on and is not here to see the good outcome from what he started.

“So I tell you one person can make a difference, and that you should be part of the solution,” he said.

Business Person of the Year

Outgoing President Ken Young introduced Dr. Arnold Pallay, the Chamber’s Business Person of the Year. Young stated that his wife had had a cancer experience during which Pallay was her physician and he appreciated the compassionate care in coordinating physicians that Pallay had offered.

Young said Pallay started his office on Changebridge Road in 1986 but now is a part of the eight site Vanguard Medical Group.

“They are staying in the forefront and leading the way,” Young said.

Pallay volunteers on the Montville Board of Health, and for Health Department cancer screenings, according to Young.

Pallay thanked the Chamber for the award, stating he and his wife cut their vacation short to do so because Montville is “our home.”

“Our kids went to school here and we love it here,” he said. “I don’t think I could have imagined 32 years later how much we’ve grown. We work really hard as a medical community to do the best we can for the people of the town and it’s nice to be noted.”

Pallay also said that he would not be where he was without the “incredible support of my wife Robin. She deserves this award as much as I do.”

Robin Pallay came to the microphone and said, “This is more than just a business – it’s not work, it’s my life. We’ve been here 32 years and we love this community – we love being here.”

Organization of the Year

Chamber Board of Directors Member Larry Casha introduced the Montville Public Library as Organization of the Year. Casha said the library is a “mecca” for township residents with programs for every age group.

“No place else has 10,000 residents visit in one month [February],” he said. “There’s so many different things happening.”

Library Director Allan Kleiman accepted the award on behalf of the trustees and staff, stating that new things are developing and those who haven’t visited are “missing a lot.”

“We have something for everyone,” Kleiman said, “and as the library evolves over the next few years, we don’t know if we’re going to be more digital than books, but we know that we’re going to be there for everyone in Montville.”

Kleiman thanked the trustees and said he had the best staff he’s ever worked with.

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