NuTLEY, NJ - The Nutley Board of Commissioners gave out awards and accolades during the March 21 meeting. Present were the mayor and Commissioners Thomas Evans, Alphonse Petracco and Mauro G. Tucci. Commissioner Steven Rogers was given an excused absence.

Det. Sgt. Michael Padilla was honored with a proclamation celebrating his achievements during the meeting. Present to share in his honor was his family –wife Jeannette and daughter Nicolette, as well as friends and co-workers. Padilla is part of the Juvenile Aid Bureau, in which he is involved in LEAD (Law Enforcement Against Drugs), PALS (Police At Lunch with Students) and the Junior Police Academy programs in Nutley.

Before Public Safety Commissioner Alphonse Petracco read the proclamation out loud he made a few comments to Padilla. “Most the children I see here tonight know Mike Padilla. It was amazing; the kids give him the thumbs up sign. It’s really a pleasure to have somebody such a part of the community. He is a poster man, why kids run to cops instead of away from them. A proclamation that is well deserved,” he said.

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“No one does it alone and I commend you for recognizing those around you in the community,” said Revenue and Finance Commissioner Thomas Evans. “Your involvement in this town is second to none. Your guidance and leadership is supreme,” added Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mauro G. Tucci.

“It was great to see you in action at Washington School; to see that early interaction with kids,” said Mayor Joseph Scarpelli.

Padilla also received the State LEAD Administrator of the Year award this year. “I believe both represent the hard work of many. We are fortunate in Nutley to have a police department that has leaders in place like Director Petracco, Chief [Thomas] Strumolo and Captain [Gerard] Green that truly understand the importance of community policing,” he said in an interview.

“If it’s the Junior Police Academy, Pals, Random Acts of Kindness Week or the Bike Rodeo the list of people willing to pitch in always exceeds our needs. LEAD officers [Tom] Schenke, [Steve] Rogers II, [Rick] Schwarz, and [Chris] Melilli all put in a tremendous effort and are what makes our program one of the best around. If you want a kid to give you a high five, thumbs up or even a smile walk around town with one of these guys,” said Padilla.

“When I speak to people in other communities they cannot believe the relationship we have with the commissioners their staffs, the schools, and the residents. There is no such thing as red tape; people move mountains to make things happen when it comes to our kids. In Nutley the saying it takes a village to raise a child isn’t something you just say it’s something you do and it’s what makes it such a special place,” he added.

Padilla joined the Nutley Police Department on Jan. 22, 2001. On Jan. 6, 2010 he was promoted from patrol to the detective bureau and then in August of 2012 to the juvenile bureau.

Also honored with Resolutions was the girls’ 7th grade basketball team. The team is the Suburban Travel Basketball Division and League Champions for a third year a row. The undefeated team has a league record of 42 wins. Led by head coach Joyce Bukowiec and assistant coach Dave Scheide, the team consists of Mackenzie Albert, Patricia Columbia-Walsh, Lia DeMaio, Rebecca Echevarria, Rachel Echevarria, Jenna Garner, Mia Geraghty, Sydney Hess, Stephanie Luberto, Natalie, Rufino, Julia Scheidel and Alexandra Twomey.

“We have high expectations of you. You are absolutely top of the list,” said Tucci.

Coach Bukowiec spoke on behalf of the team. “Thanks so much for honoring us, we feel real special,” she said. She thanked the parents for supporting their children and also noted how the team is seen by others such as the referees. “Referees tell me how they play so beautiful, such a respectful team,” she said.

Petracco added about his own experience with playing basketball in school. “One thing I can tell you, you will never have coaches like you do in Nutley. One day when you have struggles you will think back on your coaches and they didn’t teach you to quit,” he said. “You will look forward to this when you are an adult; pay it forward and help others become champions,” added Evans.

“Look at the girls next to you, 30 and 40 years from now you will still be friends,” said the Mayor.

The last to be honored with a resolution was John Monaco, of Lyndhurst, owner of Personal Touch Florist on Franklin Avenue in Nutley. The floral arrangement shop celebrated 30 years on Nov. 9, 2016. His wife, Diane was present for his honor. Scarpelli commended him for his 30 years and noted the economic times not being the best at the moment. “I never knew you to turn anyone away,” he said.