Year in Review: Medford 2016 Part II

In 2016, Medford saw a new mayor, was home to the selection for New Jersey Agricultural Fair Ambassador, saw an Affording Housing Settlement reached and more.

Other town council news

• Council experienced some changes at the top during its annual reorganization meeting on Jan. 4. Jeffrey Beenstock was appointed by his fellow councilmen as the new mayor for 2016, replacing former mayor Charles Watson.

• At a January meeting, council awarded a bid to a company to paint the town’s water town white.

• In February, council approved a measure to rename Cranberry Park in the center of town to Dr. James Still Park.

• People from all over Burlington County were up in arms about the terrible conditions of the roads in Medford days after Winter Storm Jonas in February. Medford used rubber tips on the end of its plow blades, and this was a widely-discussed topic among the township as to why its plows have failed. The thought process behind the rubber tips was to prevent a truck from hitting a utility and going down, but it lowers the total number of useable trucks to three. If two of the four were to go down, the township would run into a major problem because it only has one mechanic. In the upcoming year’s budget, the township hopes to use strictly four-wheel drive vehicles after the two-wheel drive vehicles could not move around in this storm.

• Council announced in March that it had dedicated a formerly unnamed road off Fostertown Road near Kirby’s Mill as “Stauts Way,” in recognition of the numerous civic contributions made by William “Bill” Stauts.

• In May, council authorized an agreement with the county for pedestrian beacons at the intersection of Main Street and Allen Avenue, Stokes Road and Hampshire Way, and Taunton Boulevard and Locust Road. It also accepted $180,000 from the county under the Municipal Park Development Grant Program to reconstruct the basketball courts in Freedom Park and Bob Meyer Park.

• To help further the street’s economic development and to improve its streetscape, council applied for a State Transportation Alternatives Program grant by the Nov. 17 deadline. By applying for this grant, which was endorsed by the Burlington County Board of Freeholders, the township is hoping to receive about $600,000 to improve the road from where Main Street meets Route 70 to where it intersects with Mill Street.

Other Medford Township Public Schools news

• In March, the Shawnee-Seneca Iron Devils won the prestigious FIRST Robotics Competition Chairman’s Award for the second year in a row.

• Shawnee High School 2016 graduating senior Liza Barr tallied her 100th career lacrosse goal in April.

• On April 13, the Medford Township Board of Education appointed Marie Goodwin to the position of board secretary.

• Shawnee High School 2016 graduating senior Mike Githens scored his 100th career lacrosse goal in April.

• Medford residents saw an increase in their regional school tax bill for the 2016–17 year. The tax levy increased by 1.89 cents, resulting in an increase in regional school taxes of $59.67 on a home assessed at the township average of $327,600.

• On April 13, the Medford Township Board of Education appointed Kirby’s Mill Elementary School Principal Mark Damon to the position of educational technology coordinator for the district.

• The Shawnee High School boys tennis team earned its fifth straight South Jersey Group IV championship.

• The Shawnee High School girls lacrosse team won the South Jersey Group IV championship, defeating two-time defending champion Lenape High School, 12–9. This was Shawnee’s 12th sectional championship all-time and the third since lacrosse sectionals expanded to four groups in 2007.

• Eric Biehn Named Shawnee High School valedictorian for the Class of 2016. In May, he was also named one of 689 semifinalists in the 2016 United States Presidential Scholars Program.

  • On June 12, Class of 2014 graduates Ali Reid, Sam Mitchell and Christy Osler from Medford were granted the opportunity to attend the American Theatre Wing’s 2016 Tony Awards and work the red carpet, gathering interviews and assisting in the media room.
  • At the meeting of the Board of Education on June 27, Joseph Biluck, director of operations and technology, gave his final update and closeout presentation on the district’s Energy Savings Improvement Program. This came just three days before his retirement from the position on June 30, after 29 years of service.
    In the last 20 years, the board has expanded the use of alternative fuels in school bus fleets across New Jersey, built the largest collective solar electric array in a K-12 district and created New Jersey’s first member managed energy services cooperative.
  • Camryn Epstein, a seventh grader at Medford Memorial Middle School, was named as a 2016 Brine National All-Star. She was selected to represent the state at the 2016 Brine National Lacrosse Academy and Brine National Lacrosse Classic to be held in Richmond, Va., from July 19–22.
  • For his long-term, continuous and exemplary service, the New Jersey Association of School Business Officials honored James “Jim” Hager with a 2016 Distinguished Service Award.
  • Children in the nearby communities are invited to soar to new heights at the 2016 Aerospace Camp, held for three weeks in August at the Flying W Airport in Medford.
  • The Medford-based Shawnee Ice Hockey Club’s High School Junior Varsity and Middle School C teams won the South Jersey Ice Hockey League spring season championships at the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees. Shawnee teams have won eight championships in the last four years.

• Established in 2006 at Shawnee High School, the club Family Career and Community Leaders of America plans and facilitates projects that help students actively serve in their community. This past summer, students from the school joined more than 8,500 others at the FCCLA National Leadership Conference in San Diego from July 2–8, with all six placing nationally.

• The Shawnee Renegade Marching Band won the USBANDS Group IV Open State Championship on Nov. 5. at Rutgers University. The band won in the Open division, which is the highest competitive class offered by USBANDS. This year, it presented its show entitled Game Night, a look at popular board games.

In other township news

• Eleven-year-old Medford resident Jenna Gordon competed at the U.S. figure skating national championship on Jan. 16 in St. Paul, Minn.

• Medford Township is hosted the 2016 National Ride of Silence, a national bike ride in honor of those cyclists who have been injured or killed while riding on public roadways, on May 18. It is the fourth year Medford held this event.

• Medford resident Josie Burkhardt, 11, was selected to compete on the Food Network’s new series, “Kids BBQ Challenge.”

• Dr. James Still’s historic office in Medford was named one of New Jersey’s Ten Most Endangered Historic Places by Preservation New Jersey.

• Linda Mackey of the Medford Sunrise Rotary was honored with a Community Service Award for 2015–2016, “to the Rotarian who best demonstrated the commitment to the community where he/she lives or works.”

• With more than 100 campers from New Jersey ages 6 through 16 in attendance, Camp No Worries, a program of the YMCA of Burlington and Camden Counties, opened its doors to children with cancer and their siblings from June 26 through July 1.

• The Medford Historical Society marked its 50-year anniversary.

• More than 28 years ago, the Pine Barrens Festival was established to celebrate the families and towns in the surrounding South Jersey communities. As part of this celebration, each year an individual or group from the town is presented with the Pine Barrens Festival Service Award, and this year, the Pinelands Garden Club of Medford received that honor.

• On Aug. 11, the Anna Foundation for Inclusive Education, founded by the Rubright family of Medford, returned to the Cherry Hill Mall for its seventh annual Mall Haul. The Mall Haul is an event that brings together young adults and teens with and without disabilities for an inclusive evening of shopping, eating and breaking barriers.

• A relatively new development, the Wyngate at Medford is home to 200 single-family homes and is constantly finding new opportunities to engage its residents. For the first time this year, the community hosted a version of its own Olympics held from Aug. 29 through Sept. 1.

• The tragedy of local gun violence was starkly evident in a Memorial to the Lost at 11 a.m. on Sept. 18 at the Medford Friends (Quaker) Meeting located at 14 Union St. where rows of name-bearing tee shirts bear witness to gun violence deaths in South Jersey counties for 2015 and 2016.

• The Medford Business Association and its presenting sponsor, the ShopRite of Medford, brought a Taste of Medford/Oktoberfest to Main Street again this year on Sept. 17.

• Camille Aguilar of Medford, a senior at the Moorestown Friends School, was named a National Hispanic Scholar by the College Board in the 2017 National Hispanic Recognition Program.

• Giving the public a peek into the lives of veterinary students and professionals, a new Animal Planet docu-series, “Life at Vet U,” was filmed at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and featured Medford resident Lindsay Gallagher.

• After 2.5 years of treatments, Medford resident Richie Jr. Abrams won this battle with cancer, and, in response, his family threw him a huge party on Oct. 15, to commemorate his determination. For all the service Abrams has provided to Medford Township and for beating cancer, Mayor Jeffrey Beenstock attended the party and gave a proclamation in honor of Abrams’ dedication during his fight with cancer.

• On Oct. 22, the MOMS Club of Medford, along with assistance of The Ceramic Barn, helped families paint rocks as part of a nation-wide activity locally sponsored by the group Shamong Medford Rocks.

• A forest fire at Wharton State Forest burned more than 200 acres on the south west side of 206 on Nov. 22.

• The Whole Hog Cafe, a “World Champion of Barbecue,” was evacuated on Nov. 22 when it was determined smoke was billowing from the building, police said. The fire was quickly brought under control by the Medford and Evesham fire departments, but the building sustained extensive fire, smoke and water damage, according to police.

• Several officers from the Medford Township Police Department grew a mustache to raise awareness and garner support the “No Shave November” fundraising campaign to support cancer awareness. Several township employees in other departments jumped in to support the campaign as well.

The Medford Township Police Department was able to raise $2,021 to be donated to the American Cancer Society to aid those who are battling cancer.

• The Medford Sunrise Rotary once again presented the 27th annual Dickens Festival on Dec. 3 in downtown Medford.