Committee honors art, law enforcement at recent meeting

Members also approved the purchase of a public works storage building for more than $1 million

The Harrison Township Committee recognized Clearview High School student Danielle Brown (center) for winning the 2017 Congressional Art Competition for her pencil drawing titled “Room 109.” Pictured from left are Deputy Mayor Dennis Clowney, Mayor Louis Manzo and Committeemen Vince Gangemi, Don Heim and Jeffrey Jacques.

At last week’s meeting, Mayor Louis Manzo and Harrison Township committeemen recognized local artistic accomplishments, approved police appointments and authorized the purchase of a public works storage building for more than $1 million.

Clearview Regional High School student Danielle Brown was honored at the Aug. 7 meeting for her pencil drawing entitled “Room 109,” which took first at this year’s Congressional Art Competition, a nationwide art contest for high school students sponsored by the Congressional Institute. Her piece, dedicated to her grandfather Charles E. Brown, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and passed away recently at the age of 89.

The Harrison Township committee presented Brown with a certificate of recognition for her “outstanding achievement and exceptional talent.” Brown’s artwork will be displayed in Washington D.C. for one year in the tunnel connecting the touring visitors to the U.S. Capital.

Manzo and his fellow committeemen also approved the appointment of full-time patrolman Gregory Germscheid for the Harrison Township Police Department. Germscheid is the replacement for officer Jonathan Thompson, whose retirement was effective as of Aug. 12.

According to Chief of Police Thomas Mills, the department held an extensive hiring process in April, which received more than 240 applicants who were then vetted through standardized testing, physical training and an interview process.

“It was incredible to see these young men and women pushing themselves to become one of our police officers,” Manzo said. “Greg Germscheid was one of those individuals.”

According to Manzo, Thompson was at the maximum salary for a first class officer, having served 15 years. Recently, Manzo said, Mills had approached him to request the approval to hire an additional officer alongside Germscheid, as the starting salary would be $44,900, approximately half of Thompson’s income. With the addition of an officer, the department would be able to expand their patrols to almost four officers per shift, an adjustment that has not been increased in 19 years.

Manzo and the committee approved the request with an unanimous vote.

Mayor Louis Manzo (right) swears in new police officer Gregory Germscheid (left), accompanied by his significant other Brooke Hetherington holding the Bible.

One of the meeting’s main conversations revolved around the resolution proposing the purchase of one pre-engineered metal storage building through a cooperative purchasing agreement.

“We have a lot of money invested in equipment, and right now in the building we’re currently in, we’re trying to operate out of it, trying to be a maintenance facility and a storage facility. We’re maxed out,” Deputy Administrator Dennis Chambers said. “This is about extending the life of the equipment we’ve invested our money into.”

According to Chambers, approximately $500,000 worth of appropriated funds was left over from a previous ordinance, which authorized the construction of the public works department building presently in use. To prepare for the cost of building an additional storage building, about $250,000 was budgeted in 2013, as well as roughly $380,000 allocated in this year’s budget.

“Dollars are already allocated; we’re already paying for the money,” Manzo said. “We haven’t spent it yet, but we’re paying for it.”

Manzo said according to government statute, the township was unable to spend the appropriated funds left from an old ordinance until it was publicly vetted, and it had to apply to what it was appropriated for.

Manzo and the committee voted unanimously to approve the purchase of the building, not to exceed the amount of $920,074.

In other news:

· Third quarter 2017 property tax bills are due no later than Aug. 28. If submitted late, the bill will be considered delinquent and interest will be charged starting from Aug. 1.

· Planning Board Secretary Cynthia Quest was appointed deputy municipal clerk, as well as deputy registrar of vital statistics for Harrison Township.

· The township is seeking volunteer artists, clubs or organizations to paint a mural on the retaining wall located at William Wilt Soccer Complex. Those interested should contact Township Administrator Mark Gravinese for more information at mlgravinese@harrisontwp.us.