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South Orange Honors Officers, Civilian at BOT Meeting

Monday's meeting featured SOPD awards, Board of Education discussion.

The South Orange Police Department presented their 2011 Recognition Awards at Monday evening’s board of trustees meeting.  Among those honored were Officers Nicholas Lonero and Robert Infantes and Detectives Brian McGuire and Michael Bradley.  Civilian Janine Buckner was honored as well. 

Infantes was recognized for his efforts in apprehending and arresting an armed robber. Lonero was honored for his role in saving the life of a young girl.  Detectives Bradley and McGuire were honored for their capture of two armed robbers. 

“Each reacted exactly the way I would expect them to act in the situation they were in,” SOPD Chief James Chelel said during the ceremony.  “I’ve known each one of them for many years, I worked alongside them for many years and I respect their courage, honor and dedication to their profession.”

Janine Buckner was the only civilian honored in the ceremony.  She was recognized for her role in starting a volunteer neighborhood watch program.  Before the ceremony, Buckner appeared humbled by the honor.

“While this award is being given to me, without the volunteer efforts of the entire neighborhood watch team, the accomplishment I am being recognized for would not be as great,” Buckner said.  “I need to acknowledge my SOPD counterpart, Sgt. Rich Wiggins, who has also given tirelessly to the organization we are forming.  Also to the support of neighbors and SOPD in general, I say, GO TEAM!”

Residents around town came out in force to support the police officers and Buckner.  “Janine is a mother, a neighbor, a resident and a volunteer for our town,” said South Orange resident, Leslie Pogany.  “She is a precious asset to South Orange.”

Before the ceremony, Village President Alex Torpey reflected on his time as a volunteer rescue squad member and their interactions with the SOPD. 

“When I became an EMT and started volunteering with the rescue squad, I gained an even greater appreciation for what our police officers do,” said Torpey.  “Having been on medical calls in other towns, and spoken with other EMTs from other towns, I can truly say that our officers go beyond the call of duty to assist EMS, and I don’t think there is a single person on the rescue squad who doesn’t appreciate our police officers.  And now, I am honored to be able to know and interact with our police department in yet another capacity, as Village President.  I’m proud to serve this community with all of you.”

Also discussed at the meeting was whether to support two resolutions passed by the board of education on May 16.  Resolution 2757 authorized the superintendent to send a recommendation against the approval of the Hua Mei and Rita Owens charter schools to the State Commissioner of Education Christopher Cerf.  Resolution 2759 was in support of the New Jersey School Board Association's Resolution No. A of May 14, 2011, calling for local voters to have a voice in deciding the fate of charter schools in their districts, if those districts are predominantly funded by local taxes.

After discussing the issues with Superintendent of Schools Brian Osborne and Board of Education President Beth Daugherty, the board of trustees decided not to act on the two resolutions.  The general consensus was that more time was needed to discuss the resolutions put before them.

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