MIDDLE TOWNSHIP — At the start of the Aug. 5 meeting, Township Committee recognized local resident John Lauricella for his involvement in township issues and support of the police summer day camp.
The township regularly honors residents for their work in the community with a program called Middle Matters. Committee members also recognize township employees each month.
At the start of the Aug. 5 committee meeting, Mayor Tim Donohue praised Lauricella. He said police Chief Christopher Leusner nominated Lauricella for the award in recognition of a donation made to the police summer camp held each summer.
The amount of his donation was not announced, but it was described several times as very generous.
“John is a transplant, not a lifetime resident of Middle, but you wouldn’t know that by the way he acts in our community,” Donohue said. He’s lived in Middle Township for about five years.
Lauricella attends most committee meetings and is active on volunteer boards. He was a member of the advisory committee that studied the township’s form of government. He’s also active in the American Legion, Donohue said, adding that Lauricella gives of his time and money.
“He does it quietly, he does it unassumingly and I’m sure he feels a little awkward being recognized for it, if I know John,” Donohue said. “But the Middle Matters awards program was set up to recognize folks who do good work in our community. We want to recognize them publicly so we can set a good example for the people in our town.”
Donohue cited the numerous volunteers throughout the community, saying they help make Middle Township a great place to live. He mentioned the local Boy Scouts as well. A contingent of scouts from Troop 65 attended the meeting as part of their work on merit badges in civics.
About 70 campers participated in the police summer camp this year. According to Donohue, support from local businesses and donations from Lauricella and others has allowed the township to keep the camp free to participants.
“It’s a great week for the kids. It’s a great for them to get to know our Police Department,” Donohue said.
“It’s nice of all of these people to come and see me,” Lauricella joked. The recognition came at the same meeting as the planned discussion of a medical marijuana facility on Indian Trail Road, which meant the meeting room was far more crowded than usual.
He said he’s sent kids to summer camp for about eight years. He often gets notes and letters from the campers, he told those at the meeting.
“It becomes a life-changing event in some cases. I’m sold on it. I hope to do it as long as I live,” he said.
He praised the work Leusner and the officers do with the camp, and said Middle Township’s system allows him to have more of an impact.
“Now I feel like I’m sending 70 kids to camp,” he said.
At the same meeting, committee members voted unanimously to introduce an ordinance naming a portion of west Wiley Street for Thomas Wise, a longtime resident and advocate for the Whitesboro section of town who died in January.
Wise was originally from North Carolina, according to details included in the ordinance. He met his wife, Julia, in 1965, after moving to the township. The couple had four children, Tonya, Thomas, Kevin and Maya. They have 16 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
During his life in Whitesboro, Wise saved two elderly men from a house fire, according to the ordinance, and pushed to get cable service for the entire Whitesboro community. According to the ordinance, his efforts began with a petition drive to get all of the streets in Whitesboro paved, and Wise was one of the original members of Concerned Citizens of Whitesboro.