A visit from the president: Mayor reflects on tornado at meeting

Committee’s reorganization session welcomes new members

With newly elected committee member Michelle Powell at his side, Mayor Lou Manzo is sworn in for another term as a committeeman after his election in November.

The Harrison Township Committee held its annual organization meeting on Jan. 3 with more than a dozen residents in virtual attendance.

The first order of business was to swear in incumbent Mayor Lou Manzo and Michelle Powell as members of the committee after their victories in the November election. It will be Powell’s first term in office.

“As I was preparing to get sworn in tonight, the word that kept coming to mind was gratitude,” Powell said. “When I moved here over 16 years ago, I knew this was a special place to live and to raise my children.”

Committeeman Adam Wingate recognized Powell after she was sworn in.

“I would like to congratulate committeewoman Powell,” said Wingate, who also attended virtually. “You’ve been involved, you’ve been on different boards. It’s going to be nice to work with you and to get things done with you.”

Manzo will continue to serve as mayor and committeewoman Julie DeLaurentis was approved as deputy mayor, her first time in the position.

DeLaurentis gave her acceptance statement and added a rhetorical question: What defines and describes our community?

“I’m beginning my fifth year as a member of the Harrison Township Committee and people often share their vision and their definition of what our township is or is not,” she noted. “I think it’s very important to hear the different perspectives, so I thought tonight I would like to share my perspective.”

DeLaurentis went on to describe Harrison Township as a “generous, caring and loving community.”

Manzo closed out the meeting by reflecting on a hard year, from COVID to a category F-3 tornado.

“History will show when looking back on the tornado in 2021 it was the only time, at least that I’ve been able to look back on, that a mayor of this town was summoned to meet with the president of the United States,” Manzo said of his meeting with Joe Biden.

“The most terrible circumstances for that to happen, but the reason I bring it up is, we are in such cynical times … and the lack of connection with people that are elected is something that bothers all of us,” he added. “And while we would love to see a change, we all really don’t think that it can. But the tornado proved that it can.”

The committee also approved 50 resolutions at the meeting, including the approval of a 2022 temporary budget and multiple appointments for township positions. A full list can be found on the township website.