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  • Writer's pictureJoseph F. Berenato

Olivo’s final council mtg.

Marinelli, Iacovelli honored


THG/Joseph F. Berenato. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940. During the December 19 council meeting, Councilman Jonathan Oliva presented retiring Hammonton Planning Board Chairman Ed Marinelli with a plaque.

HAMMONTON—Town council honored several outgoing individuals at their regular meeting on December 19.


Among them was former mayor Ed Marinelli, who was retiring from the Hammonton Planning Board at the age of 92.


Councilman Jonathan Oliva introduced Marinelli, saying that he has made “an immeasurable impact to the town of Hammonton.”


“I have a series of unique connections with Ed through multiple generations. I realized this as I started thinking more about what Ed means to our community and what Ed has done as planning board chair,” Oliva said.


Oliva noted that Marinelli, as mayor, presided over his parents’ wedding ceremony. Oliva’s grandfather worked with Marinelli in the New Jersey State Police, and Oliva himself has worked with Marinelli for six years on the Hammonton Planning Board. Those varied experiences, Oliva said, made Marinelli a “spectacular chair to the planning board.”


“I have to tell you: our mayor is spectacular at running a meeting, but that guy? He runs a meeting. He can run a meeting, and I can recall everything from when he flips the mic on, to him recalling the sunshine laws, to telling everybody you can’t smoke inside public buildings. I can recall the entire start of every meeting, and that’s going to echo in the walls of this town hall—and in my heart—for a long time,” Oliva said.


Oliva invited Marinelli to join him at the podium as he read from a plaque in Marinelli’s honor.


“Chairman Marinelli has regularly shared his expertise in project development, his deep knowledge of town’s history and government operations, and his passion for preserving/improving safety without reservation during his time as chairman. As former mayor of Hammonton, his many contributions have enriched the decision-making process of the organizations which he has been a member and have helped to ensure that their deliberations were reasonable and balanced,” Oliva read.


Marinelli said that his career with the town began in 1988 when he served as mayor.


“For two years, I served on the planning board, and—for some unknown reason, right off the bat—I loved it,” Marinelli said.


Marinelli said that he was later reappointed to the planning board by then-Mayor John DiDonato and eventually became the chair.


“'til today, I’m still the chairman: a job I loved, and serving Hammonton, and giving something back, to try to do something for Hammonton that’s everlasting; do something that’ll be there forever, and be remembered,” Marinelli said.


Marinelli said that there is a lot of good talent on the planning board.


“I’m quite certain that, when the new chairman is picked out, the town and the planning board will continue on in the professional fashion that it has done in the past. It will continue to do the great work that is an honor to the people of the town of Hammonton,” Marinelli said.


Councilman Edward Wuillermin said that he always has tried to recognize what he termed “the tall trees that stuck out in the forest.”


“Mr. Marinelli has always been one of those outstanding tall trees that you could always look forward to giving you the kind of guidance and kind of inspiration to be a role model in how to serve your community, how to do it with dignity, how to do it with all your due diligence and integrity. For me, it’s been an outstanding pleasure to have worked with you, and to have known you,” Wuillermin said.


Councilman Sam Rodio recalled when John DiDonato announced that Marinelli was to be the new planning board chair.


“It was the best thing we ever did, to this day. We made that move that night, and it was a great move. It was a great thing for the town of Hammonton,” Rodio said.


Mayor Stephen DiDonato called Marinelli a “tremendous leader.”


“Thank you for your leadership. Thank you for volunteering all your life, from your service to the country, your service as a trooper to the state of New Jersey and your service to this great town,” he said.


Town Solicitor Michael Malinsky noted that he began as the planning board’s solicitor in 2008, one year prior to Marinelli becoming that body’s chair.


“Working with Mr. Marinelli was probably one of the best experiences in my career. He’s a fantastic chairman, one of the best in the state—and I’ve peered through many. He made it pleasurable, and made me really love representing the planning board from 2009 to 2015. I can tell you this much: the town is really losing an asset before the planning board,” Malinsky said.


The next presentation was given by Councilman Thomas Gribbin in honor of outgoing Councilman William Olivo.


“Billy O, as we like to call him, has been a very good friend to me and every member of this town council,” Gribbin said.


Gribbin described Olivo as a “role-model elected official.”


“Not only for your years of service to our community, but for always taking your duty seriously, and for doing what he could to make sure that he made the right decisions—and the best decisions for the town of Hammonton. That was never more apparent than when he went against his own political party at the time and voted for town hall being right here,” Gribbin said.


THG/Joseph F. Berenato. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940. Councilman Thomas Gribbin presented outgoing Councilman William Olivo with a plaque on December 19.

Gribbin called Olivo to the podium and presented him with a plaque.


“As an actively involved member in the selection of the current town hall site, Councilman Olivo has helped to shape our town as we know it today. His dedication to our community has spanned decades, and we know that Councilman Olivo will retain his passion for moving our town forward,” Gribbin read.


Olivo said that, after his previous term on council, he wanted to return one more time.


“I’m glad that I was able to do that, because I wanted to sit in one of these chairs. That was one of my important goals to get back here one more time,” Olivo said.


Olivo thanked council for the honor.


“This is unnecessary, but I appreciate it very, very much,” Olivo said.

Wuillermin spoke highly of his colleague.


“I’ve served with a lot of good people on council over the years, and this council is no exception. Amongst all of us, I can’t express just how good a councilman Mr. Olivo has been—and how seriously, and with such dedication and reverence that he’s approached his job as a councilman,” Wuillermin said.


Councilman Steven Furgione, who is Olivo’s nephew, said that, when Olivo first served on council, he was “fighting a war on two fronts.”


“He was dealing with town hall not being here where it belongs—and being put all over—and he was dealing with a school board at the time that was very, very, very different than what you see today; and, quite frankly, a lot of how the school board is today is because of his courageous actions back then,” Furgione said.


During his most recent term, Furgione said, Olivo’s spirit and enthusiasm were unmatched.

“He is a champion for this town. He loves this town. We don’t go more than two or three days without a text saying, ‘I’ve got to go to this ribbon-cutting. This is opening. Go check this out.’ He is an absolute cheerleader for the town,” Furgione said.


Rodio concurred.


“You did one hell of a job for two years. People don’t really know what you did here,” Rodio said.


Oliva agreed with his colleagues.


“Your spirit and enthusiasm is completely unmatched, and, over the course of the last two years, it’s regularly been an honor to be confused with you in every discussion we’ve had,” Oliva said.


DiDonato said that Olivo was a “true leader.”


You can tell a true leader when the chips are down. When there’s a tough decision, as a man or a woman you have some options. You can either high-tail it and run, and walk away from that decision. You could take the easy way out and try and be everybody’s best friend, or you can just say, ‘Damn it, that’s the way it should be. That’s right. I’m going to do it, no matter what my peril is or how it affects me.’


“You didn’t give a damn for two years about what was right for Bill Olivo and if I’ll get elected again. You were worried about what was right for the town of Hammonton, and I am honored—extremely honored—to have served with you. You taught me a ton,” DiDonato said.


Council also honored MainStreet Hammonton Executive Director Cassie Iacovelli, who retired on December 31.


Olivo introduced Iacovelli and spoke about her impact while in that role.


“Her hard work, dedication, ability to network, think creatively and problem-solve had positively affected Hammonton, which will benefit generations to come. As someone who has had the pleasure of working with Cassie during these last two years—during my time on council—I can say, firsthand, what an outstanding job she has done,” Olivo said.


Olivo called Iacovelli to the podium and presented her with a plaque from which he read.


THG/Joseph F. Berenato. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940. Retiring MainStreet Hammonton Executive Director Cassie Iacovelli was given a plaque by Councilman Olivo at the December council meeting.

“Your tireless efforts as the MainStreet Hammonton executive director for 15 years have strengthened community bonds, uplifted the economic vitality of the downtown and helped make Hammonton a destination for art, culture, events, shopping, dining and craft beverages,” Olivo read.


After Iacovelli received the plaque, she addressed the crowd. Iacovelli said that when she first arrived in Hammonton, she knew no one. She had just retired from a position at Rider University and saw the job as a way to meet people.


“What I didn’t realize was that I would meet some amazing people, and that I would have more heart into this community than I ever imagined. People have said, ‘I can’t believe you do what you do,’ and all, but it’s my home—and when you work with really great people, and you have a unique opportunity to share a talent that you might have, and make something better in the place that’s home, there’s nothing better,” Iacovelli said.


Iacovelli noted her appreciation for many individuals, particularly the MainStreet Hammonton volunteers.


“Thank you for all your dedication, all your hard work, all your commitment. You do that for nothing because you just love this town, and it’s a lot of work—and there are a lot of hours, and it’s not always the best conditions. It could be 100 degrees heat, or it could be raining—like the last downtown tree lighting,” Iacovelli said.


Iacovelli also spoke of her family, noting that her grandchildren are a major factor in her retirement.


“My four grandchildren are the love of my life. My three children have tolerated me all these years with my career at Rider, and then now with my career here in Hammonton—but they are the reason that I want to spend time with my family at this stage of my life. They are the true joy,” Iacovelli said.


After Iacovelli left the podium, Gribbin thanked her for her service and her friendship.


“One of the best commodities in Hammonton are the people, and we have a lot of great people that want to do great things for their town, that want to step up and volunteer, but you need a good cheerleader, too—and you were a fantastic cheerleader, and I know you will continue to be for our town,” Gribbin said.


Council also heard a brief presentation from Mary Young and Jaime Wuillermin regarding the “Noon Year’s Eve” on the afternoon of December 31.


“We’ve done it over the past few years at the park where we’ve had a handful of people show up, but to be able to have it here in the parking lot of town hall? I’m expecting that we’re going to have that many more kids be able to participate,” Jaime Wuillermin said.


Jaime Wuillermin described the event, scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., noting that it was slated to include “cookie-making, crafts, balloons, face paint, family games, hot dogs, soft pretzels, cotton candy and even special guest appearances.”


“Sam Seitles—the owner of READ Preschool—is going to be there to emcee the event. We’re going to hand out noisemakers and party favors to all the children that are going to be there participating. We will have a streamer cannon that’s going to go off following a countdown to noon. Allies in Caring is also going to participate with a piñata activity,” Jaime Wuillermin said.


Young commented further.


“We’re just trying to get everybody to stay here in town; you know, keep the family busy and then wear out the kids so mom and dad can come back out at night and watch the blueberry fall,” Young said.


In other business, council voted to table Ordinance No. 019-2022 – Amending Chapter 267, Article II of the General Ordinances of the town of Hammonton, which had been introduced on June 20. Chapter 267 is titled “Trees.” Article II is titled “Tree Preservation and Maintenance.”

Malinksy had one action item in his report.


“If council’s so inclined, we need a motion to approve and authorize the mayor to execute the addendum to the 2018 shared services agreement with the Hammonton Board of Education to provide an additional School Resource Officer at the elementary school with the changes that we discussed in closed,” Malinsky said.


Gribbin made the motion, which Oliva seconded; the motion carried unanimously.

Following Malinsky’s report, DiDonato addressed his colleague.


“If Mr. Olivo would like to bring us home, take this chair and handle the finish of the meeting ... in the house you built. Finish the meeting, Billy,” DiDonato said.


Olivo then presided for the remainder of the meeting.


Under the town clerk’s report, Business Administrator Frank Zuber presented the following items:


• Approval of amendment to Radio Contract for existing part-time employees only, effective date of November 1. Hourly rate will be $18 per hour. Per the signed amendment.


• Approval of the amendment to the PBA contract, rank/file and sergeants.


The items were approved.


Council also voted to entertain the following resolutions:


• Resolution No. 169-2022, Authorizing the following Tax/Water/Sewer Refunds: Charles Helliwell, 735 12th St., $2,381.27, Tax Exempt Vet; Gail Vineyard, 735 Seventh St., $2,668.54, Tax Exempt Vet; Anthony Barber, 214 N. Washington St., $3,510.21, Tax Exempt Vet; Taylor Ford, 161 Broadway, $2,080.37, Tax Exempt Vet; Anthony Natale, 801 S. First Rd., $2,882.56, Tax Exempt Vet; Michael Crannick, 699 N. White Horse Pike, $4,017.79, Tax Exempt Vet; Creek View Deve., 135 S. Madison Ave., $826.43, no longer on tax records; and Victory Bible Church, 810 S. Egg Harbor Rd., $5,201.58, Tax Exempt Church.


• Resolution No. 170-2022, 159 Budget Addition for Body Armor Grant from State of New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice for Body Armor in the amount of $1,625.71


• Resolution No. 171-2022, Cancel Prior years unexpended grants. The following is the detail of the Current Fund grant receivable balances and grant reserve balances to be canceled: Prior Year Grants Receivable Balances—Prior Years Municipal Alliance Grant Funds, $21,412.96. Prior Year Grant Reserve Balances—2017 FAA Grant – Obstruction Removal Design, $7,612; 2019 Distracted Driving Crackdown, $192.50; 2019 Reforestation Grant, $8,047.61. Prior Years Municipal Alliance Grant Funds, $25,575.37 for a total of $41,427.48.


• Resolution No. 172-2022, Approve 2023 Neighborhood Preservation Program Grant Implementation Plan Update and Submission to the New Jersey Department Of Community Affairs – Neighborhood Preservation Program.


• Resolution No. 173-2022, Budget Transfers, from Police Salary & Wages ($26,100) and Group Insurance Operating Expense ($18,000) to: Bldgs Grds Operating Expense, $7,000; Highway Operating Expense, $10,000; Recycling Tax Operating Expense, $1,000; Social Security Operating Expense, $6,000; Radio Salary & Wages Expense, $15,000; Engineering Operating Expense, $5,100.


• Resolution No. 174-2022, Approval of Drug Alliance Grant from the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Fiscal Grant Cycle October 2020-June 2025. The mayor and council do hereby authorize submission of a strategic plan for the Municipal Alliance grant for fiscal year 2024 in the amount of: DEDR, $6,047.98; Cash Match, $1,512; In-Kind, $4,535.98.


• Resolution No. 175-2022, Approval of Grant Application for a Youth Leadership Grant from the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse in the amount of $3,124.38.


• Resolution No. 176-2022, Authorize Police Law Enforcement Support Office program


• Resolution No. 177-2022, Authorizing Change Orders 1 & 2 to All Vinyl Fence for the Fence Project at Hammonton Municipal Airport in the amount of $16,000.


During discussion, Oliva asked for further information about Resolution No. 172-2022.

“Are there additional dollars for the NPP plan that we’re implementing through ’23?” Oliva said.


Zuber replied in the affirmative.


“That’s actually a five-year plan; we get $125,000 for five years. I think this’ll be the third year,” Zuber said.


Oliva continued.


“OK. I saw in here the resolution said, ‘covering the period from November 1 through December 31, 2022, and then it says, ‘the NJDCA may provide additional funding’ by that date. So, the first three years; we have all five. We’ve been approved for the five, so this is just approving next year’s funding for ’23?” Oliva said.


Zuber confirmed Oliva’s assertion.


“Correct,” Zuber said.


The resolutions were approved unanimously.


Before the conclusion of the meeting, Olivo addressed his colleagues for the final time.


“It has been a pleasure being up here, serving for the last two years … Goodnight, Hammonton,” Olivo said.


Town council’s reorganization meeting is scheduled to be held on January 3, 2023 at 7 p.m.

The next regular meeting of town council will be January 23, 2023.

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