Chamber Of Commerce Honors Residents, Businesses At Its 60th Birthday Party

Attendees enjoy the cocktail hour January 28 at the Franklin Chamber of Commerce’s 60th Anniversary Gala at the Marigold.

Two township residents and four businesses were honored January 29 during the Franklin Township Chamber of Commerce’s 60th anniversary gala at The Marigold on Hamilton Street.

Nicolas DiMeglio was given the Volunteerism award, Somerset County Sheriff Darrin Russo was given the Public Service award, Venus Jewelers was given the Small Business award, Trap Rock Industries and L’Oreal were given the Large Corporations award and Visions and Pathways of Bridgewater was given the Non-Profit award.

About 150 people attended the event, the theme of which was, “The future is bright with 2020 vision.”

Chamber president Juanita Painson said the group, over its history, “has come through the ebbs and flow of business to the point where we can still thrive. Franklin Township has evolved into a great place to live, work and raise a family and maybe even start a business.”

“I look forward to seeing the results of the hard work and dedication our board of directors have put in to ensure the continued growth our organization is putting forward,” she said. “I know that hard work will translate into a better and more vibrant business community within our great small town of Franklin.”

The evening’s keynote speaker was state Assemblyman Joe Danielsen, a Franklin native who told the crowd how he had worked with Franklin businesses during his time heading the township’s Democratic Party.

Danielsen said a strong and vibrant Chamber is vital for any community.

“I watched the phases of our town’s changes as the people came and the businesses followed,” he said. “Then when the businesses came, more people followed. But at each of these phases, there existed the equation of the relationship of business leaders and community leaders. This could not have been accomplished without the guiding leadership the Chamber of Commerce has provided our businesses, and the partnerships it has inspired throughout the corners of our township.”

“Networking, relationships, leadership, commitment to our community through the Chamber has examples all around our township,” Danielsen said. “From the donations to our schools, churches, community theater, most of our fire houses, the animal shelter, there are few organizations more important to the partnerships in our township than the Chamber of Commerce.”

“You are true advocates of our economy and our quality of life by way of networking healthy business and valued service to us all,” he said.

DiMeglio spent the majority of his acceptance speech thanking those who helped him with the various projects he led, including the “One Less Move” referendum that helped get the Claremont Road School built, Franklin High School’s Project Graduation and the aid given to the family of a Hillcrest Road School student who remains hospitalized after being hit by a car last October.

“All of these good deeds do not happen by themselves,” he said. “You have to have a good team to get things done.”

After asking anyone who’d worked with him to stand, DiMeglio said, “You see folks, this is how we get things done in Franklin, by building a great group of people. These folks let me lead them, we discussed their ideas and went about doing things because they know I always have their backs so long as we stay out of trouble. In return, they make me look good so I get awards like this.”

Russo said that early in his career as a Franklin Township Police Officer, he understood the need to build a good relationship with the business community.

“Together, then, we form a good working relationship with the community,” he said. “There’s a lot of people here who helped me accomplish that … and I really want to say thank you for helping me make that happen.”

“As your Sheriff, I’m proud to continue that work and that bond,” Russo said. “To work with you, work with the Chamber, work with the volunteers in the businesses and the schools, so that everyone knows that together we’re stronger and together we make the community stronger.”

Peter Stavrianidis, owner of Venus Jewelers in Rutgers Plaza, noted that the Chamber has experienced a few bumps over the last few years, but has come back stronger.

“2020 is a new beginning for the Chamber of Commerce,” he said.

“A successful Chamber of Commerce signifies and demonstrates the ability of a community to unite its mercantile talent and create a forum where professionals can openly promote themselves, their products and their services,” he said. “And by doing so, wealth can be created, which is essential to the progress and development of the community.”

Joe Chroback of Trap Rock Industries told the crowd that the company looked forward to continuing its relationship with the Chamber.

David Walker, teh executive director of Visions and Pathways, an organization that helps at-risk youth and their families, said partnerships with groups such as the Chamber help make possible what they do.

“Through the relationship with Franklin’s business community, the religious community and others, we are able to identify those kids before they run away or are kicked out of the home,” he said. “We provide ways to keep them safe and keep families intact. Because once kids that age hit the streets, noting good happens.”

“Many people have not heard of Visions and Pathways because the work we do is confidential,” he said. “Because we aren’t known, to us this recognition is truly remarkable, and we appreciate the partnership of the Franklin Chamber.”

The Franklin Reporter & Advocate live streamed from the event, talking with the honorees:

Posted by The Franklin Reporter & Advocate on Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Here are some scenes from the event:

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