Education

Newton's Town Manager, Police Chief and Merriam Ave School Honored at TransOptions 30th Anniversary Celebration

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Newton Town Manager Thomas S. Russo, Jr and Police Chief Michael Richards received Government Official of the Year recognition from TransOptions Credits: Jennifer Dericks
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Newton Town Manager Thomas S. Russo Jr and Newton School Superintendent Dr. Kennedy Greene. Credits: Jennifer Dericks
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Newton Police Chief Michael Richards Credits: Jennifer Dericks
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Credits: Jennifer Dericks
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Credits: Jennifer Dericks
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Credits: Jennifer Dericks
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Credits: Jennifer Dericks
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Newton Town Manager Thomas S. Russo Jr, and Uncle Floyd Credits: Jennifer Dericks
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RANDOLPH, NJ – Newton Town Manager, Thomas S. Russo Jr and Newton Police Chief Michael Richards were honored at the 30 Anniversary Annual Recognition Breakfast of TransOptions on Wednesday.  In the ballroom of the Meadow Wood Manor in Randolph Russo and Richards were recognized as Government Officials of the Year. 

Newton Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Greene was also in attendance as Merriam Avenue School received Bronze Level recognition for New Jersey Safe Routes to School.

The Town of Newton earned Gold Level status of NJ Smart Workplaces as well.

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“Newton was one of the first towns to get involved with Street Smart in 2015,” said TransOptions President John Ciaffone when introducing Russo and Richards. Russo and Richards “made it a priority in the community.”  Ciaffone stressed the importance of having both education and enforcement as elements that make streets safer.  

“Newton Police department, working with schools have been doing Safe Walk to Schools for about 15 years, before it was even a statewide program,” Ciaffone said.  He also pointed to Newton’s Coffee with a Cop as a “great little program that connects the police and the community.”

In receiving the reward Russo said, “It is an honor to be recognized.”  He continued, giving credit to the “town council for giving the flexibility to do fun things.”  He also thanked his staff, especially the deputy town manager and his administrator saying they are the “best to work with in my 20 years of community service.” 

Russo congratulated Greene for the school district’s recognition and said the schools and board of education are “excellent partners.”

TransOptions began by promoting car and van pooling as Morris County Rides to suggest transportation alternatives to “reduce traffic and air pollution,” according to Ciaffone, acting as master of ceremony for the morning.  Ciaffone explained the organization has grown and evolved to include several educational initiatives such as the Solar Sprint competition for eight grade students and Hydrogen Fuel Cell Model Car competitions for high school students. 

Other programs include teen and senior driving, bicycle and pedestrian safety, according to Ciaffone.  They promote and reward Safe Routes to school and Street Smart programs to encourage walking and bicycling alternatives and give away bicycle helmets.  “We fitted more than 200 helmets in Sussex County last week-end” at Sussex County Day.

TransOptions launched their app GoForGood to “allow participants in the Bike to Work Challenge and TripSwitch to compete against others in real-time.”

"Uncle Floyd" Vivino was on hand to entertain the early crowd in his trademark jacket and hat.

Sparta businessman and resident Joe Toscano serves as Treasurer on the Executive Committee.  Retired Sparta Middle School science teach Dot Ciolino serves as Board Member working on the educational programs. 

Picatinny Arsenal, Thorlabs, Atlantic Health System: Newton Medical Center, State Shuttle, New Bridge Services, Ogdensburg Elementary school and Sussex County Chamber of Commerce were all local organizations receiving recognition at the event. 

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