MANCHESTER – Officials, residents and local firefighters came out to honor a living legend who has served the township volunteer fire company and first aid for 52 years.
Joined by family members and fellow firefighters, Thurman Pruitt received a standing ovation when he was presented a proclamation during a recent Township Council meeting.
Mayor Robert Arace read the proclamation that noted his many years of service “in various capacities including engineer, assistant engineer and trustee. Thurman Pruitt has made significant contributions to the development of our youth as a dedicated coach and mentor for the Manchester Little League.”
The proclamation also noted Pruitt’s exceptional commitment and service “have not gone unnoticed as he has been honored with the meritorious service award by the 200 Club of Ocean County.
“His devotion to the Manchester Volunteer Fire Company and his timeless efforts to improve our community make him a true asset to the Township of Manchester,” Mayor Arace said.
During recent Council meetings members of the governing body noted special events that were held in certain senior developments within the township.
Pruitt served as a paratrooper during the Korean War according to Councilman Joseph Hankins. “I was in the Little League when he was a coach. He described to me one time that he closed his eyes when he jumped out of a plane. Amazing – the courage of people who jump out of a plane knowing people are shooting at you.”
Councilman Craig Wallis said he’s known Pruitt for “25 years plus. When I first joined the fire company Thurman Pruitt is one of the first people you met and he was there constantly. I can remember him being there at 70 years old and yelling at the young guys to not be lazy. He is so dedicated to this township.”
“It was an honor to have him serving the township but he felt the honor of serving the people and you don’t see a lot of people like him anymore. If he could still be a firefighter today, that is where he would be. He’s just an incredible guy,” Wallis added.
National Friends Of Libraries Week
Manchester Library Branch Manager Rachel Cantor accepted the township’s proclamation for National Friends of Libraries Week that was also presented during the meeting.
“The dedication and commitment demonstrated by the Friends in their volunteerism for the Manchester Branch of the Ocean County Library serve as an example of how volunteer efforts translate into constructive civic participation, contributing to the enhancement of our community,” Mayor Arace stated in the proclamation.
Council Vice President James Vaccaro noted attending the 50th Anniversary of Leisure Knoll in September and more recently, Vaccaro, Hankins, Councilwoman Michele Zolezzi, Mayor Arace and Council President Roxie Conniff took part in a parade celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Renaissance community parade.
“It lasted two and a half hours with approximately 800 people. It was a huge parade,” Vaccaro said. Councilman Joseph Hankins arranged for an antique fire truck from the New Jersey Firemen’s Museum in Allentown to be in the parade.
“Despite the rain a lot of people came out. It was really nice,” Conniff added. She also thanked the township’s EMS for attending a recent Touch A Truck event that served as a fundraiser for a township family.
Vaccaro noted an increase of the newest COVID-19 variant in the state. “The new variant is a sub-variant of the omicron (which is) becoming the most prevalent strains causing the spike and illness and hospitalization due to COVID-19.”
“This being said, I want to remind the public to continue to take protective measures to protect yourself, family members, friends and neighbors against the sub-variants.”
The councilman suggested the use of face mask policies and voluntary testing of township employees to the various COVID-19 variant viruses. “This protocol can be used to monitor the progress of the viruses and ensure the welfare of our employees.”