HOWELL – Howell Township, like many other towns, have continuously worked on recovering from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in 2022. Throughout the year, the Township also welcomed some new faces to the council and school district.
The year started off with the Township Council voting Councilwoman Pamela Richmond as the new Deputy Mayor at the reorganization meeting in January. Two-months prior, former Deputy Mayor Thomas Russo announced he would be stepping down from the governing body.
At the Howell Board of Education reorganization meeting, incumbents Jennifer Okerson and Mary-Rose Malley, along with Stephen M. Levine were sworn in for seats on the board.
Also at the beginning of 2022, local Catholic school Mother Seton Academy announced they will be closing down permanently at the end of the school year. Many parents were shocked by the unexpected news and fundraisers were set up to try and save the school. Unfortunately, the school has been officially shut down.
In February, kids from Howell PAL spent their Friday and Saturday preparing meals for those in the area going through homelessness. The Howell PAL Youth Leadership Council consists of Middle School and High School Students who are dedicated to serving the community.
Among the major events that happened this year, one was the resignation of Police Chief Andrew Kudrick. Kudrick published a statement on March 31 that he would be officially retiring. He was a part of the Howell Police Department for 32 years and served as chief for seven.
The Department would later welcome a new chief, Captain John Storrow. He had been with the force for 28 years, and was sworn in on July 29.
Just like in 2021, over development was a crucial issue within the town. This year, some of the developments presented to the board included warehouses on Fairfield Road, a 319-unit housing on Fort Plains Road, and a 239-acre solar farm.
In May, the Township honored its veterans and unveiled the newly-created “Wall of Heroes.” The memorial is displayed in the foyer at town hall, featuring photos of armed forces members looped on a television as well as a designated area for fallen soldiers.
Over the summer, a joint agreement was placed between the Township, Howell Board of Education and Howell Police Department to hire more School Resource Officers. The project stemmed from the tragic school shootings that occurred this year in other states. Members passed a resolution to staff a Resource Officer at every Howell School in the district, which ultimately became successful when the new school year began in September.
In October, controversy took over a council meeting after a woman accused Deputy Mayor Richmond of threatening her job at a local bar. Kim Shulskie of Jackson told the Council that Richmond and a companion were sitting at the bar watching football when they started chanting “Let’s Go Brandon,” which is code for “(expletive) Joe Biden.”
When Shulskie approached the two asking them to not yell the phrase, they allegedly started yelling at Shulskie and cursing at her.
Richmond stated how she had no intentions of resigning from the council due to the altercation. She later said how Shulskie’s statements were false and claimed they were “blatant lies.” She had already announced that she would not run for re-election.
“I never made statements that she claimed were made by me and significantly, neither John or I, was intoxicated and we have many folks who were at the Ivy League that afternoon who will attest to the truth,” Richmond said. “It is equally disturbing that others, including Mayor Berger, Councilman Jon Bonevich and multiple Board of Education members, jumped on the proverbial bandwagon and called for me to resign, without obviously confirming the facts or seeking out the truth.”
Election season was huge this year, with three seats up for grab on the Council, and three available for the Board of Education.
This year’s election had a total of six candidates fighting for three seats. Democratic Councilman John Bonevich was seeking re-election. His running mates were Democrats Denise King and Randy Bishop. The three Republican candidates were Susan Fischer, Fred Gasior and Ian Nadel. Wining the three seats were Fischer, Gasior and Nadel.
In the Howell Township Board of Education race, four candidates were fighting to fill three, full-term seats. Two current members who were seeking re-election were Laurence Gurman and Cristy Mangano. Two other candidates are Alexandria Langenberger and Joseph Mauer Jr. Winning the seats were Mauer, Langenberger and Mangano.
The year closed of course during the most wonderful time of the year: the holiday season. This year, the holiday market spiced things up and was held at a new location. In the past, the farmers’ market was held in the parking lot of the Municipal Complex. However, the market celebrated its inaugural relocation to Echo Lake Park and Pavilion.
During the holiday market, the first annual pie baking contest took place with five judges tasting delicious pies to choose a winner.
A final holiday market was offered in December, and now residents have to patiently wait for the market season to kick-off in 2023.