SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ — Celebrating the community's exceptional volunteers, Mayor Kevin Glover and dignitaries gathered on Friday, May 6 at Snuffy's Pantagis Renaissance for the 24th Annual Mayor's Gala. 

Glover opened the night with a reminder of the importance of volunteers in Scotch Plains, saying they are a cornerstone in all of the town's functions.

Presenters Joe McCourt, Father John Paladino, Art Coon and Bob Lacosta awarded Janet Blaes, Ralph Checchio, Pete & Judy Terry, and Italian American Club representatives Americo Checchio and Pete DiNizo with commemorative plaques.

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A registered volunteer and daughter of a U.S. Air Force veteran, Janet Blaes was recognized for her countless hours spent in the local American Legion Post 209 and Veterans Hospital.

Likened to both a fist and open hand by Father John, Ralph Checchio extended his thanks to his immediate family after receiving his award. Among the many contributions to Scotch Plains, Checchio said he is most proud of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial he co-created with longtime friend Bob LaCosta.

Volunteer Couple of the Year Pete & Judy Terry, two local historians who have helped preserve Scotch Plains' oldest historic sites, credited local government for working hand-in-hand with volunteers.

"This community comes together and does what has to be done," Pete Terry said, citing the township's bicentennial celebration and tercentennial memorial of the Battle of Short Hills as memorable moments in Scotch Plains.

Last, but certainly not least, Mayor Glover and Mr. LaCosta recognized the Scotch Plains Italian American Club, who is celebrating its 110th anniversary in 2016. Club members Americo Checchio and Pete DiNizo accepted the award on behalf of the private, non-profit organization, thanking the descendants of Montazzoli, Italy for laying the foundation for diversity in Scotch Plains.

In addition to the night's honors, a silent auction was held, offering exclusive deals to small businesses in and around Scotch Plains.

The Mayor’s Gala is a non-partisan event, which serves to gather all segments of the community for an evening full of dining, dancing and a silent auction. Proceeds from the event support the Municipal Alliance Committee and other local non-profit organizations. is Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s only free daily paper. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook and twitter @SPF_TAP.