Township Council Honors Athletes, Commemorates Special Dates

The Township Council handed out a variety of commendations and proclamations at its June 14 meeting.

Four Franklin youth who recently medaled in a national Tae Kwon Do tournament were recognized, as well as St. Matthias Church on the occasion of its 60th anniversary.

The Council also recognized LGBTQ+ Pride Month and Juneteenth, which is now a federal holiday.

Students from the Youn Moo Tae Kwon Do school in Franklin were honored for their achievements in a recent national tournament.

Councilman Ram Anbarasan said that he found out about the tournament, and the Franklin youth’s awards, after the fact. But, he said, “I wanted to recognize them.”

The martial artists honored were: Aadhavan Balamurugan, who won a Silver Medal for Form and a Bronze Medal for Sparring; Meghna Sankar, who won a Gold Medal for Sparring and a Silver Medal for
Form; Adviti V. Parab, who won a Gold Medal for Form and a Gold Medal for Sparring, and Ridheev Songa, who received a Gold Medal for Sparring and a Bronze Medal for forms.

Father Abraham Orapankal, of St. Matthias, speaks during the Council meeting as Councilmen Charles Onyjiaka and James Vassanella (left to right) look on.

St. Matthias Church celebrated its first mass on May 8, 1962, when 161 children were given their First Communion.

The congregation is still going strong, a fact commemorated by Councilmen James Vassanella and Charles Onyejiaka.

“I don’t know where 10 years went, but I remember presenting (a commendation) for the 50th year of St Matthias,” Vassanella said. “I’m proud to be back here acknowledging another milestone in St Matthias.”

St. Matthias’ Fr. Abraham Orapankal said that there has been a “close collaboration” between teh church and the Township Council since St. Matthias’ founding.

“That collaboration has been continuing, and that’s why I’m so honored and so happy to be accepting this proclamation in the name of the entire community of St. Matthias,” he said.

Council member Ed Potosnak, the first openly gay Council member, reads the proclamation commemoration Pride Month.

June is Pride Month, a fact the Council acknowledged with a special proclamation.

“The Township of Franklin stands with the LGBTQIA community in the struggle to ensure equal treatment for all, and to advocate for LGBTQIA rights as human rights,” states the proclamation, read by Council member Ed Potosnak, the Council’s first openly gay member.

“The Township of Franklin will continue to advocate for protections for all LGBTQIA individuals to make our Township a place where all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, are treated with dignity and respect,” the proclamation reads.

“The township has always been a very welcoming place,” Potosnak said.

He said that Township Manager Robert Vornlocker is “working on establishing someone who the community can turn to in the municipal building … which is awesome.”

The Council, he said, is “also looking at our policies to make sure we’re not discriminating against folks for their gender identity or expression, and we verify that any contractors who do business with the township also must not discriminate.”

“And we’ll continue to look at things like that so that, beyond the walls of this room, into the township, throughout the nation, make sure it’s a safe place where everyone can contribute,” he said.

Councilwoman Crystal Pruitt reads the proclamation commemorating Juneteenth.

Township Councilwoman Crystal Pruitt believes she has ancestors who were among those told – two years late – that they had been set free by Pres. Abraham Lincoln, on the original Juneteenth.

“I have to say that I was actually pretty late in reading up about the history of Juneteenth,” she said. “I think that in the southern states, in the Texas area, they were more aware of it than we were.”

“As I read about it, the history really resonated with me,” she said. “With the little bit of genealogy that my family was able to do, because obviously, our records were not necessarily kept the same as many other folks in the country, the Pruitt side of my family originated in Texas, so I remember learning about Juneteenth and realizing that some of my family, some of my ancestors likely would have been some of those folks on Juneteenth who found out they were free and had been for at least two years’ prior.”

The Council’s proclamation commemorating Juneteenth states that the day “is a time to recommit ourselves to the work that remains undone and we remember that even in the darkest hours, there is
cause to hope for tomorrow’s light.”

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