Year in Review: Veterans Wall of Honor Ceremony added 37 veterans, including four brothers

Check out what other stories were the biggest in the Voorhees Sun during the month of November, including the contentious campaign between Mike Friedman and Thomas Fanelli for Voorhees Township Committee, and the petition to dissolve Voorhees Fire District #3.

Voorhees Township hosts this annual ceremony for those who served our country. This year’s ceremony took place on Oct. 24 and 37 plaques were added. It had an extra special meaning because four brothers were inducted. 93-year-old Philip Connors Sr. and his three deceased brothers, Edward, Martin and David, were recognized for their time in war and risking their lives for their country.

“Voorhees is proud to honor the brave men and women who wore the uniform of the United States Military,” Mayor Michael Mignogna said. “It is fitting that they be honored on a Veterans Wall because they stood on the ‘Wall of Freedom’ to risk their lives for generations to follow.”

Connors son, Philip Connors Jr., said his father doesn’t want to take any credit, but his family is very happy for him and what he’s accomplished in his long life.

“I know he’s proud of what they (Voorhees Township) did for his brothers and him and we’re very proud of him,” Connors. Jr. said “He’s been hanging in there at 93 years old, and it means a lot for him to get recognition.”

Local elections held in Voorhees Township

In November, municipal and school board elections were held in Voorhees Township.

On the municipal level, it was months of campaigning between Democrat Thomas Fanelli and Republican Mike Friedman for one open seat on Voorhees Township Committee.

In the end of a contentious campaign, it was Friedman who came out on top.

In an interview after the election, Friedman said having Donald Trump as the Republican nominee in the presidential election tricked down to this election and gave him a harder path to victory than in previous elections where there was a bigger gap in the number of votes.

“There’s no question the presidential race and candidate in my party was used as a wedge, a major wedge in this election, and it did create a larger hill to climb,” Friedman explained. “However, people in Voorhees know me, and they rejected a lot of misinterpretations that were being made involving our party’s presidential nominee and renewed their confidence in me, which I couldn’t be more thankful.”

In the other local race held for Voorhees Township Board of Education, Dawn Wallace, Dana Galiano and John Schmus each won three-year terms. They defeated Troy A. Brocco, Richard Horner and Richard Wojdon.

In another race for one spot on the Eastern Camden County Regional High School District Board of Education, Voorhees representative Hilary J. Garr won re-election after defeating Jude J. Brown.

Petition in support of Voorhees Township’s plan to dissolve Voorhees Fire District #3 started circulating in November

On Nov. 10, a petition started circulating throughout Voorhees in support of the township’s plan to dissolve and consolidate Voorhees Fire District №3. The petition lasted approximately four weeks and needed at least 5 percent of registered voters before going back to the governing body. The year ended with the governing body taking no action.

The Voorhees Township Fire District is a separate entity managed by a local board of commissioners with residents electing members directly, unlike most municipalities in New Jersey, where fire and EMT services are run as a department under the township government.

Stuart Platt, an attorney speaking on behalf of the governing body, said the allegations came to their attention earlier this year.

Union Chief Keith Kemery, International Association of Firefighters Local №3249 president, said the mismanagement has been going on for years, and they passed a resolution of “Vote of No-Confidence” within the past few months.

The township began an investigation and evaluation of the information it was presented with and hired fire and safety expert Harry Carter.

Carter, based on his five decades in the fire service, including years in a leadership role with the New Jersey Association of Fire Commissioners, said the Voorhees Township Board of Fire Commissioners was “perhaps the most poorly managed fire district” with which he has interacted.

“Their inability to manage staff, provide adequate financial resources, develop adequate operational resources and provide proper equipment has led to the point where I must recommend that Voorhees Township Fire District should be dissolved.”

Tom Hanney, chairman of the Board of Comissioners, said Carter’s investigation is outdated because “all of the things mentioned or talked about as being said by these individuals have been resolved.”