CALDWELL, NJ — Caldwell residents Nicholas Ricci and James Conti II were recently honored for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout through their service as part of Boy Scout Troop 6, based out of Caldwell’s Saint Aloysious Church.

The rank of Eagle Scout, the highest achievement of the Scouting program, is attained by earning at least 21 merit badges and completing an extensive service project that positively affects that Scout’s community.

For his service project, Ricci, a Boy Scouts member since 2008, coordinated, categorized and digitized approximately 1,200 linotype photo plates that were donated by “The Progress.”

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During last week’s mayor and council meeting, it was explained that these metal plates contained images that were used to create newspaper photos in the early-to-mid 1900s. Thanks to Ricci’s efforts, the public can now access these quickly and easily at the Caldwell Public Library to learn more about the history of the Caldwell-West Caldwell area.

Mayor John Kelley shared that Ricci is currently a senior at James Caldwell High School (JCHS) whose accomplishments include: demonstrating a level of academic excellence in chemistry and math; maintaining high-honor-roll status as a student; achieving membership in the National Honor, Nu Alpha Zeta Honor and Latin Honor Societies; serving as a member of the regional math competition team and the NJ Chemistry Olympics Team; and being a New Jersey Governor’s School in the Sciences applicant and an AP Scholar.

Ricci stated that being a Boy Scout has been extremely influential in his overall life and thanked the Borough of Caldwell for affording him such an opportunity.

"Being a Boy Scout impacts you in so many ways—especially in the realm of leadership and public speaking and essentially being a public figure in a way," said Ricci. "It’s something I couldn't get anywhere else."

Conti, also a Boy Scout member since 2008, is currently a senior at Saint Peter's Preparatory School in Jersey City.

For his Eagle Scout service project, Conti led the construction of several paths along Personette Street at the Caldwell Pond.

Kelley shared that Conti has a love for the military and is particularly proud of his grandfather, John Conti, who served in the United States Navy. According to the mayor, Conti aspires to serve in the U.S. Armed Services and has been nominated by Sen. Robert Menendez for acceptance into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Conti's accomplishments include being a member of the National Honor Society and an honor roll student at St. Peters Prep, where he has also received several notable awards and was a member of the 2019 New Jersey State Championship football team.

As he thanked the mayor and council for acknowledging his recent achievement, Conti said that Boy Scouts has been a life-changing experience for him. 

"The bonds and comradery that you learn in Boy Scouts is unlike anything I've ever experienced," said Conti. "The Code of Honor teaches you what the meaning of a brotherhood is and how it affects you."

In other news, Bob Kaplan, chairman of the Caldwell Historical Preservation Commission and a 30-year Caldwell resident, addressed the mayor and council about the relationship between downtown redevelopment and historical preservation.

Kaplan commended the mayor and council for considering the future of Downtown Caldwell and for being open-minded about transformative actions.

On the other hand, he also expressed concern about unintended effect that such a transformation could have on Caldwell's sense of place and the unique identity of the borough. 

The governing body assured Kaplan that the borough would engage him in their plans, especially as it pertains to historical preservation. They expressed their shared commitment to preserving Caldwell's identity, stating that it’s the borough’s uniqueness that makes it a downtown destination for Essex County.