TAPinto.net is excited to announce the franchising of TAPinto Somerville and TAPinto Hillsborough under the leadership of Managing Editor Rod Hirsch, increasing TAPinto's network of online local newspapers to 46 franchises in New Jersey and five in New York.  
 
Rod is a veteran journalist with more than 40 years experience. He is the former executive editor of The Messenger-Gazette and The Reporter newspapers in Somerville and spent 30 years at the Home News Tribune in New Brunswick as reporter, news editor and assistant managing editor. 
 
He was a Pulitzer Prize nominee for a six-month expose on the corrupt practices of a Middlesex County school board and is the recipient of dozens of writing and editing awards from the New Jersey Press Association, Pennsylvania Press Association and Sigma Delta Chi/Society of Professional Journalists.
 
 
A graduate of Rider University, he returned to his alma mater 22 years ago where he continues to work in the classroom as an adjunct professor of journalism.
 
"It is a delight and a privilege to be working in Somerville and Hillsborough, helping to chronicle the successes and achievements of its residents," Hirsch said.
 
"TAPinto Somerville and TAPinto Hillsborough provide a convenient, flexible web-based platform that embodies immediacy and availability," he added. "Readers in both towns have access online to breaking news, incisive profiles on their neighbors, local officials, new businesses, re-development and what's going on in the classrooms and neighborhoods; we are a vital link to issues, trends and that which matters most to the community," he added.
 
Hirsch is also founder and executive director of Operation Shoebox New Jersey, a broad-based volunteer organization based in Hillsborough that solicits donations and financial support from the community to help send personal care packages to US troops deployed in the Mideast and other locations overseas.

 
Founded in February, 2005, the organization and thousands of volunteers throughout New Jersey have packed and shipped over 102,000 personal care packages overseas. The organization's website, www.opshoeboxnj.org, proudly displays letters of thanks and photographs of grateful military personnel holding their gift boxes, which are loaded with a variety of food, toiletry items and letters of thanks from New Jersey residents.
 
Rod earned his Eagle Badge from the Boy Scouts of America by coordinating a similar initiative that satisfied the community service component of the award; he and his Boy Scout troop raised money, collected donations and shipped care packages to US soldiers in Vietnam.
 
Rod and the organization have received several awards and recognitions from the VFW, US Marines, US Army, Central Jersey Navy League and other veterans' organizations, and been featured on radio, television, in newspapers and scores of websites. Operation Shoebox New Jersey has also been honored by dozens of military units overseas, receiving certificates of thanks and American flags that have been flown over military installations throughout the Mideast.
 
In December, 2011, First Lady Mary Pat Christie honored Rod as a "New Jersey Hero," recognizing the dedication and determination of the organization and its volunteers. Mary Pat and the New Jersey Heroes Foundation staff visited Operation Shoebox New Jersey headquarters in Hillsborough to assemble care packages for shipment overseas.
 
The Hillsborough Rotary also honored Rod with the International Rotary Foundation Paul Harris Award in recognition of his public service in 2015.
 
Rod and his wife Maryann have been married for 33 years and are residents of Dunellen. They have two children, Heather and Todd, married to Jamey and Roxanne. They have four grandchildren, Emily, Allie, Molly and Ashley.

 

TAPinto.net was founded by New Providence, New Jersey residents Michael and Lauryn Shapiro, is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association and currently has more than 4M readers.  The all-online hyperlocal news site boasts more than one hundred columnists, a full-service Community Calendar, Business Directory, and local Real Estate Listings. The public can friend TAPinto.net on Facebook at Facebook.com/tapintolocal and can follow TAPinto.net on Twitter at Twitter.com/tapintolocal  
 
In addition, TAPinto.net is currently offering franchise opportunities in CT, MA, FL, NJ, NY, and PA. Anyone interested in starting an online newspaper in their town is invited to Click here for more information. 

TAPinto.net currently covers hyperlocal daily news and information in: Basking Ridge, Bedminster, Berkeley Heights, Bernardsville, Bridgewater/Raritan, Cedar Grove, Chatham, Clark, Cranbury, Cranford, Denville, East Brunswick, East Orange, Edison, Elizabeth, Far Hills, Green Brook, Hillsborough, Kenilworth, Long Beach Island, Livingston, Madison, Mahopac (NY), Maplewood, Millburn/Short Hills, Milltown/Spotswood, Montville, Montclair, Morristown, Mountainside, New Providence, Newton, North Plainfield, North Salem (NY), Olean (NY), Paterson, Peapack & Gladstone, Piscataway, Plainfield, Randolph, Roselle/Roselle Park, Roxbury, Scotch Plains/Fanwood, Somerville, Somers (NY), South Brunswick, South Orange, South Plainfield, Sparta, Stafford, Summit, Union, Verona, Warren, Watchung, West Essex, Westfield, West Orange and Yorktown (NY).