CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — The township said farewell to a veteran police officer on his retirement and welcomed a new officer at the Wednesday, Jan. 23, Township Committee meeting.
Committee members unanimously approved the hiring of Christopher Russ as a police officer, effective immediately. Joined by family and friends, Russ took the oath of office administered by Mayor Tim Donohue. As a starting officer, Russ will make $35,000 a year.
“I’d like to welcome Officer Russ to the team, and pray he has a happy, healthy, safe and productive career with the Middle Township PD,” said Donohue.
Russ started his career as an officer in North Wildwood, coming to Middle as a class II officer, police Chief Christopher Leusner said.
“He then earned our full-time class II position and is now progressing to full-time police officer,” Leusner said. “Chris is the type of person that understands community policing is important. His family has strong roots here in Middle Township. He grew up in Middle Township. I’ve said it before, again and again, our officers who grew up in this community, who live in this community and police our community is what makes Middle Township Police Department so special, and Christopher is going to be an important part of that team going forward, and I wish you nothing but the best.”
Committee members honored Steven Novsak, who retired as a police corporal after 25 years, 14 of which were in Middle Township.
“We sort of come full circle here tonight. One great police officer going and hopefully a new great police officer coming aboard,” Donohue said.
Committee members presented Novsak with a certificate of appreciation, and a plaque is on the way, Donohue said.
“Steve’s been a big part of our community, not only as a police officer but in the schools and volunteering in the community. As the chief said, we’re huge on community policing here in Middle Township,” Donohue said, adding that Novsak “has always given his all, his heart and soul to the community.”
It was an evening of recognitions, with two employees sharing the honor of employee of the month and an award given for the employee of the year.
Mariah Fishman and Christina Lillemon, who work in the construction department, were both named township Employee of the Month for January. Donohue said the women chipped in when a key employee was out on leave over the last several months, as the office was extremely busy.
“We want to make sure that we remember that they’re over there, and that we realize the hard work that they do every day,” said Donohue.
James Amenhauser was named the employee of the year for 2018.
“Jim’s done a phenomenal job in our code department and has done a lot of great things. He’s a great community guy, too,” said Committeeman Michael Clark, presenting the award. “We appreciate everything he’s done for us.”
The employee of the month program was started a few years ago, Donohue said, culminating in the employee of the year award.
“Just remember that award was named after Darius Graham, a longtime employee of the township. Darius was a guy that just never had a bad day, despite all of his challenges. He always had a smile on his face and brought the attitude we want all of our employees to have,” Donohue said. “I think it’s important to remember Darius when we give out this award. Jim does a good job of emulating Darius in his attitude toward his work.”