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In Your Opinion: Response To Editorial From Venus Jewelers’ Principal

By Peter Stavrianidis, Ph.D

Regarding your comments about the status of the Franklin Township Chamber of Commerce – the truth of the matter is that there were a lot of challenges during the last few years and I would be the first one to admit it. Although the chamber was quite active with frequent events and networking opportunities – we didn’t manage to capitalize on those and increase our membership; instead, we had a significant loss in our membership. We all bear the responsibility for this decline and not just the four individuals that received the criticism in your article. Needless to say, the president always bears the lion’s share of the responsibility.

To his credit – the former President of the Franklin Township Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Leon Hughes, wrote a letter to the newly elected board accepting responsibility and he states among others “I also wish to apologize to the Board members whose names and reputations have been clouded by this scandal. Julia West-Johnson, Tiffany Delaney, Peter Stavrianidis and Eva Nagy, I sincerely apologize”.

I think these unnecessary and negative comments could have been avoided if all the names that are mentioned in that article had been given the opportunity to provide you with facts. I was never approached for an interview. If you had given me the opportunity – I would have gladly expressed my thoughts and contribute to your investigation.

Regarding your comments questioning my credibility to be on a leadership post – my response is that my family has been in the jewelry industry for four generations and for us it’s a legacy, it’s a passion, it’s a way of life. For the last 36 years we have been operating Venus Jewelers in Franklin Township and we have built an impeccable reputation and a very successful business through hard work. With our consistency, our professionalism and our ethos – we have grown to be one of the most respectable retailers in the industry with thousands of fans that believe in our commitment and dedication. We would never do anything to stigmatize our accomplishments because integrity is the most precious gem we possess.

The incident that you mentioned in your comments was an unfortunate administrative oversight on our part – due to a change in state regulations of precious metals buying from the public. Although we were submitting the forms diligently every week for every single transaction – it was never brought to our attention from the Somerset County Office that the forms were not filled out according to the new procedures until months later when these forms had accumulated to a substantial number. That said, I would like to clarify that is was the same administrative mistake that was repeated over and over leading to this number. Almost all the charges were dropped but we still had to pay a fine. There was not even one complaint from any individual regarding these transactions. The reason is that for the 36 years we have been operating in this township we have never had an incident of misrepresentation or foul play. From that aspect – one could say that our heart is in the right place and our record speaks for itself. We have one of the most well trained group of professionals in our team and most of our employees stay with us until retirement – because we are extremely fair and we treat them as extended members of our family.

As a longtime resident of Franklin Township – I am proud to say that our family business has participated and donated to a myriad of good causes and benevolent organizations. My children have attended local public and parochial schools, my wife is a Sunday School teacher in our church, and I sit on the board of three Non-profit organizations. I have been repeatedly recognized and acknowledged for my services by local organizations, State Legislatures and the United Nations for my volunteer work as an advocate for civil, human and religious rights.

As a successful Entrepreneur, Educator, Community Activist and a proud U.S. Army Veteran – I will continue to volunteer my services for worthy causes for as long as I can. As a professional in my business I proclaim that we have always operated with the highest standards, ethics and integrity and we will continue to do so. I often render my services for free and I speak to groups and communities around the state and beyond – educating the public about the history of jewelry and precious gems. Also, I am always readily available to address professional groups and young adult groups on matters that pertain to business and personal development. You are most welcome to come and visit our operation and see for yourself all the good things that we do for our clients and the community at large – so that you can report on those as well. It would only be fair if you can do that.

Lastly, regarding the future of the Franklin Township Chamber of Commerce – I invite all the critics to join us in the volunteer work we do – to roll up their sleeves and actually help us actively in bringing this chamber to the level it deserves. Then, their criticism would definitely have more credibility. Actions speak louder than words!

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express myself.

(Editor’s Note: The preceding is in response to an FR&A editorial.)

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