The New Jersey Association of Counties held its annual reorganization meeting on Friday, January 27th, at 11:00 a.m. in the Senate Chambers of the New Jersey State House in Trenton. Senator Fred H. Madden, Jr. of NJ Legislative District 4 administered the oath of office to the NJAC Board of Directors, NJAC Executive Officers, and finally NJAC President and Gloucester County Freeholder Heather Simmons . The 2017 NJAC Executive Officers are slated as:
- Heather Simmons, President & Gloucester County Freeholder
- Gary J. Rich, Sr., First Vice President & Monmouth County Freeholder
- Brendan W. Gill, Second Vice President & Essex County Freeholder
- Mary H. Melfi, Secretary-Treasurer & Hunterdon County Clerk
- John W. King, Immediate Past President & Hunterdon County Freeholder
NJAC Executive Director, John G. Donnadio, Esq., welcomed board members and guests then asked Dr. Ali A. Houshmand, President of Rowan University, to lead the flag salute and Jim Hogan, Gloucester County Clerk, to perform the invocation. Mr. Donnadio then recognized distinguished guests such as Senator Fred H. Madden, Jr.; Assemblywoman Patricia Egan Jones of NJ Legislative District 5; Timothy Cunningham, Director of Local Government Services for the NJ Department of Community Affairs; Dr. Frederick Keating, President of Rowan College at Gloucester County; and new Burlington County Freeholder Linda Hughes. Members of the audience were informed that this would be the last year Somerset County Freeholder Director Peter S. Palmer will serve on the NJAC Board of Directors. Honorable Peter Palmer is in his 20th year as a Somerset County Freeholder and his 17th year as a NJAC Board of Director and served as NJAC President in 2010. In his honor, and beginning on May 12, 2017, the NJAC Business Associate of the Year Award will be known as the Peter S. Palmer Business Associate of the Year Award. Mr. Donnadio proceeded to thank his staff: Loren Wizman, Allen Weston, and Kimberly Nolan for their dedication to the Association. Hunterdon County Freeholder John W. King was awarded with a plaque in recognition of his distinguished leadership in 2016. Mr. Donnadio informed all attendees of the 67th NJAC Annual Conference taking place May 10 – 12, 2017 at Caesar’s in Atlantic City. He mentioned new events such as Meet the 2017 Gubernatorial Candidates and County Colleges Acapella Sing-Off. Returning for the 6th consecutive year is the NJAC County Vocational Technical School Cook-Off Challenge. The 2017 automatic entries of participating school districts are from: Gloucester County, Cumberland County, Bergen County , Camden County, Essex County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Morris County and Passaic County. During the Reorganization Meeting, Judy Savage of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational Technical Schools drew two names of counties that applied to participate in the Cook-Off. The lottery winners are Monmouth and Hudson Counties.
After Senator Fred H. Madden, Jr. swore in Gloucester County Freeholder Heather Simmons as President of the New Jersey Association of Counties, she began her speech by reminding everyone that NJAC and each elected county official stands for county government in a unified voice. She thanked many of her colleagues within Gloucester County and Rowan University as well as those as a NJAC Board of Director and NJAC staff members. Special thanks went out to her dedicated confidential aid and friend, Daniele Spence; her siblings: Mary Beth and Tim, who are teachers and could not attend, and also Dan, who was present representing the Simmons’ siblings and has traveled all over to attend U2 concerts with her; Dr. Fred Keating, President of Rowan College at Gloucester County; Senator Fred H. Madden, Jr. who administered the oath of office; Assemblywoman Patricia Egan Jones; Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney who mentored her on being a freeholder. Lastly, she recognized Gloucester County Vocational Technical School District Superintendent Mike Dicken and the wonderful Culinary Department of Gloucester County Institute of Technology for their support and catering the lunch reception, which took place at the NJ State Museum after the Reorganization Meeting.