SOMERVILLE NJ - Residents and political leaders from throughout the Somerset Hills were out in force at the annual re-organization of the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders Friday.  Peter S. Palmer of Bernardsville was named 2017 director of the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders.  2017 marks the fifth year in his twenty-one year tenure that Palmer has led the board.

In his remarks, recognized three local mayors who attended the ceremony:  Peapack-Gladstone Mayor William Muller, Bernardville Mayor Kevin Sooy and Bedminster Mayor Steven E. Parker.  Palmer also recognized Somerset County Democratic Party Chair Marguerite "Peg" Schaffer of Bedminster.

The freeholders appointed several Somerset Hills residents to positions on the county boards and commissions.  Many of the volunteer board and commission members were on hand to take the oath of office.

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Sara M. Sooy of Bernardsville was re-appointed to a one-year term on the Commission on the Status of Women.  Janice Haggerty of Bedminsgter was appointed to a five-year term on the Cultural and Heritage Commission.  Alice Steinbacher of Bernardsville was appointed to a three-year term on the Office on Aging Advisory Council.  James D. Jones of Bedminster was appointed to a one-year term on the Open Space Advisory Committee.  Dorothy Paluck of Bernardsville was appointed to a five-year term on the Park Commission.

In his remarks, Palmer thanked the hundreds of volunteers whose involvement in many programs and agencies make it possible for Somerset County to achieve and maintain a high quality of life.

He also highlighted some of the past year’s accomplishments, including the opening of the new Bridgewater Senior Wellness Center, the Somerset County Library System’s designation as one of America’s Four Star Libraries, and the presentation of an international award, shared by only a handful of gardens in the United States, to Colonial Park for its rose garden.  “All of these achievements help to build Somerset County’s national reputation as a desirable place to live, work, learn and play,” he said.

Economic development also continues to be at the core of the Freeholders’ agenda. While in the 70s and 80s, the driving force was the development of stand-alone corporate campuses in suburban corn fields, growth is now focused back on downtowns and cities.

Somerset County Sheriff Frank Provenzano took the oath of office, as did Freeholder Patricia Walsh.  Provenzano and Walsh were both re-elected in November.  Freeholder Patrick Scaglione was selected to serve as Deputy Director of the Freeholder Board.