A look back at 2014 in Evesham
From multi-million dollar redevelopment deals and construction projects to contentious township council and board of education meetings, there was always something going on in Evesham in 2014.
As the township takes that final step into 2015, here is a look back at just some of the happenings and changes that came to Evesham throughout 2014, including photos correlating to the text, or of events happening around the same time.
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The Evesham Municipal Court building after a Winter dropped about a foot of snow in the area.[/caption]
Township council and board of education reorganize:
One of the first notable events of the year for many townships across the state is the reorganization of the governing body and board of education, and in Evesham that was no different.
On the municipal side of things, Evesham Township Council continued the tradition of rotating the position of deputy mayor.
At the meeting, then-Councilman Ken D’Andrea was named to the position of deputy mayor, taking over for 2013 Deputy Mayor Debbie Hackman.
As it did at the reorganization meeting, the council throughout 2014 would consist of Mayor Randy Brown, Hackman, D’Andrea, Councilman Steve Zeuli and Councilman Bob DiEnna.
At the Evesham Township Board of Education 2014 reorganization meeting, a bigger change took place as longtime board president Sandy Student stepped down from the position of board president and returned to the duties of a regular board member.
Student nominated board member Joseph Fisicaro Jr. for the position of board president, which was unanimously agreed upon.
As it did at the reorganization meeting, the school board for the year would consist of board members Joseph De Julius, Trish Everhart, Fisicaro, JoAnne Harmon, Lisa Mansfield, Dave Silver, Kevin Stone, Nichole Stone and Student.
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On March 3 of 2014 Cherokee High School, and the rest of Evesham, was covered in snow and ice. This was the scene across town many times in the early months of the year.[/caption]
Township assumes snow-removal duties for county roads in town:
Another change that took place during early 2014, and which could soon become relevant in residents’ lives once again, is when Evesham township took over the snow-removal and salting duties from Burlington County for the county roads that run through the township, namely Evesboro-Medford Road, Tuckerton Road-Main Street, Old Marlton Pike, Maple Avenue, Taunton Lake Road and Marlton Parkway.
In early January, Brown publicly expressed his displeasure with the job the county had so far done in plowing county roads that run through the township during the winter’s large amount of snowfall, and said he believed the authorities in town could do a better job themselves.
Soon after that statement, the township manager worked out an agreement with the county in which Evesham would assume snow plowing and salting duties for all county roads in the town and would then be reimbursed by the county for the work done.
According to Brown at the time, after just a few weeks under the new agreement, the move had pleased many residents and officials with the township.
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Evesham Mayor Randy Brown[/caption]
Brown decides against running for Congress:
In late January, Brown publically announced he would not be running for New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District seat held then by Republican U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan, who decided against running for re-election.
Brown said he spoke to many leaders of the Republican party, local and national, but decided the money he needed to raise in such a short amount of time to run required too much time and effort and would strain his relationship with his family and ability to properly raise his daughters.
Instead, Brown said he would again run for the position of mayor later in the year.
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Sept. 4 marked the first day of school for students throughout the Evesham Township School District. At Evans Elementary School 10-year-old Madison Law walked with her grandmother Lynn Somers as Madison headed toward her first day of fifth grade.[/caption]
Evesham BOE votes to keep Evans Elementary School open through 2014:
Closing out the month of January was the Evesham Township School District Board of Education and its decision to keep Evans Elementary School open through 2014 and not participate in the Inter-district Public School Choice Program in 2015.
The discussion to close Evans had been on the table for some time, due to several factors, including declining enrollments, declining state aid and general financial burdens throughout the district.
In the final months of 2013, the discussion heated up again, with even Brown publicly decrying the discussions to close Evans.
At the final BOE meeting of January, board member Kevin Stone made a motion to eliminate further discussion of the long-debated potential closure of Evans, of which board solicitor William Donio said would close the issue through 2014 until the board reorganized again in 2015.
The vote to cease the discussion of closing Evans for 2014 was 5–3.
As for entering into New Jersey’s Inter-district Public School Choice Program in 2015, which allows approved choice districts to enroll K-12 students who do not reside within their districts without cost to parents, no board member would bring the motion forward, and as such it was not voted on.
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Hundreds Evesham teachers, administration members, faculty, parents and residents came out to support superintendent John Scavelli Jr. at the special meeting of the Evesham Board of Education on Feb. 25. The only vote at the meeting was whether the board would renew the Scavelli’s contract.[/caption]
BOE offers Superintendent John Scavelli new contract:
In February, the Evesham Township School District Board of Education ultimately voted to offer Superintendent John Scavelli a new five-year contract, but not after a several hour long BOE meeting filled to capacity with residents asking the board to keep Scavelli at the helm of the district.
In the weeks prior to the meeting, there were rumors in the district where it was believed some board members might not vote to offer Scavelli a new contract, which ultimately led to a petition being started urging the board to keep Scavelli.
Scavelli himself waived his right to a private hearing, leading to the heavily-attended public meeting where his contract offer was discussed, and during which all members of the public who spoke argued for the board to keep Scavelli.
A total of five board members ultimately voted to approve the contract.
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Pictured is the Indian Cultural Center during its grand opening ceremony on April 12. The center, located on Route 73 in Evesham, is now a gathering place for social, cultural and educational activities for the Indian community in the South Jersey.[/caption]
Indian Cultural Center on Route 73 opens:
On April 12, a grand opening celebration was held for the Indian Cultural Center on Route 73.
Planning for the nearly 20,000 square-foot building started in the late 1980s when the Indian Temple Association decided it needed a permanent location where it could promote Indian culture and the friendship.
The center contains two kitchens, a game room, a library, a stage and a large assembly hall,
Dr. Dhiraj Panda, president of the ICC, said the center was meant to provide a place where the Indian culture’s history of unity among diversity, tolerance and harmony, and respect for others without subverting individuality could be enjoyed for generations.
“This demonstrates the need for a facility that we envisioned,” Panda said. “As the famous movie said ‘Build it, and they will come,’ like we are seeing, many people could come and attend this function today.”
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It was the start of Evesham Township School District’s annual “Eyes on Art” show on May 13 at the township municipal building. Artwork of select students from every elementary school and both middle schools in the district was on display. Pictured is Van Zant Elementary School second grader Ava Dormer with her work.[/caption]
Evesham BOE approves 2014–2015 budget:
On May 6, the Evesham Township School District passed the 2014–2015 budget, with total appropriations set at $75.92 million.
With the average Evesham home assessed at $270,000, the general fund tax levy as a result of the budget increased 1.25 percent or 2.72 cents.
The average annual school district tax bill increased annually by $73.38 for a total K-8 school tax bill of $2,939.54.
In 2013–2014, the district had 4,594 students enrolled, and when crafting the 2014–2015 budget, the district projected a decrease to 4,533 students.
When the budget passed, Scavelli said the board consistently keeps the community updated on the budget process through outlining its progress with meetings in as early as January.
“Most school districts don’t lay out to you a potential tax levy at that point in time, but we feel confident in what we’re doing,” Scavelli said.
The board adopted the budget by a 7–2 vote.
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A fireworks display marked the end of the grand opening ceremony for Evesham’s new Diamonds at Arrowhead Park on Wednesday, May 7. Kids were asked to run out to center field for a surprise before the display started. Hundreds of Evesham residents attended the event.[/caption]
Township officially opens Diamonds at Arrowhead Park:
On May 7, a project years in the making finally came to fruition when Evesham Township held a grand opening for the Diamonds at Arrowhead youth baseball and softball complex next to the township municipal building on Tuckerton Road.
With two baseball fields and two softball fields, the complex cost just more than $5 million and was funded with money from the local open space fund.
Township officials said they believe about 1,000 families will use the complex or 1,500 kids, with 500 games played each season with the complex’s lights, scoreboards and concession stands.
Those features are also being used to attract tournaments and bring new revenue into Evesham.
At the grand opening ceremony, Brown summed up the complex’s opening by quoting Walt Disney at the 1955 opening ceremonies of Disney Land: “To all of you that come to this happy place, welcome to the Diamonds at Arrowhead Park,” Brown said. “This is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past. Here youth may savor the challenges and promise of the future.”
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Sunday, May 18 was the sixth annual Taste of Evesham event. Hosted by the Evesham Celebrations Foundation, the event drew thousands of area residents to Main Street to sample food from local restaurants and eateries.[/caption]
Township council approves 2014–2015 budget:
About a month after the Evesham Township School District approved its 2014–2015 budget, the Evesham Township Council was able to approve its 2014–2015 budget.
On June 10, council unanimously adopted the budget, which reached about $33.5 million in total appropriations, of which $21.8 million was to be raised by taxation, a decrease from the previous year’s amount of $21.9 million.
With the average Evesham home assessed at about $270,000, the annual municipal taxes paid by the average homeowner was set to be about $1,140.
Upon adoption of the budget, Brown said he was proud of the budget, and it was the fifth consecutive year the budget was a tax decrease or in which taxes stayed flat.
Although Brown characterized the most recent decrease in taxation as slight, he said any decrease was positive.
“Any decrease is a good decrease in New Jersey, as we know,” Brown said. “Especially when you have a $33 million budget, any decrease is a good decrease.”
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The students at Evesham’s Teddy Bear Academy learned the value of giving back this Thanksgiving when each of the seven classrooms at the academy collected a box full of items for Wiley Food Pantry. To celebrate, on Nov. 26 the kids walked down to the cafeteria at Marlton Middle School to have their own Thanksgiving feast. The first academy opened in late June.[/caption]
Evesham Township Schools open Teddy Bear Academy:
Another big change that came to the Evesham Township School district in 2014 was the creation of the district’s full-day daycare program, the “Teddy Bear Academy” located at Marlton Middle School.
The Evesham Township Board of Education voted to approve the project in January, and by June 30, the doors to the academy had officially opened.
Sponsored by the BOE, the program is a division of the Evesham Child Care program. It houses children as young as 6 weeks old, with 3 or 4 year olds also having the option for a half day preschool.
Leah Perlmutter, Evesham Child Care coordinator, said the program provides full-day childcare to infants, toddlers and preschoolers, and could help against the declining enrollment and budgetary problems in the district.
“Over the last couple of years, with budget shortfalls and declining enrollment, the district decided to investigate expanding our early childhood programs,” Pearlmutter said. “There has been expressed interest by both staff and community members in the past regarding a daycare program.”
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Hurricane Arthur may have threatened to rain on Evesham’s parade, literally, but ultimately the bad weather held off and the 2014 Fourth of July parade went on as planned.[/caption]
Evesham Township Police adopt body cameras:
In an effort to continue its proactive approach to law enforcement, in July the Evesham Township Police Department started its body camera program, in which all 48 of the department’s patrol officers were equipped with cameras on their person meant to start recording any time an interaction with the public occurred.
The body cameras measure about 3.5 inches tall by 2.5 inches wide by 1 inch deep, and have a 130-degree-wide-angle lens.
Worn toward the center of the officers’ chests, the cameras record in such a way that when activated, the previous 30 seconds prior to activation are also included in any recording.
Videos recorded by the cameras cannot be tampered with, as they are automatically uploaded to the same cloud-based storage system used by agencies such as the CIA.
Just weeks later, there was a spike of in interest in the department’s use of cameras from major media outlets and other police departments after the national debate started regarding the death Michael Brown, who was unarmed when he was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 9.
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It was a night of champions on Sept. 5 at the Diamonds at Arrowhead Park sports complex when Evesham Township honored the 10U Marlton Reds baseball team for their win in the Cal Ripken Jr. World Series.[/caption]
The 10u Marlton Reds win the Cal Ripken Jr. World Series:
It was big year for the 10u Marlton Reds, as their hard work and dedication took them all the way to the Cal Ripken Jr. World Series on Aug. 16 in Wincester, Va., which they won with a 9–1 victory against the team from Southeast Lexington, Ky.
Throughout the season, the 10U Reds also clinched the titles of District 5 champs, SNJ State Champs and the Mid-Atlantic Regional champs.
In addition to the 10U Reds’ accomplishments, the 9U Reds won the District 5 Championship and were the SNJ State champs, the 11U Marlton Reds were the District 5 Champs and the SNJ State Champs, the 11U Cardinals were the District 5 Champs and the SNJ State champs, and the 12U Cardinals were the District 5 champs and the SNJ State champs.
Marlton Recreation Council Baseball Commissioner Joe Schooley said it was an unpredicted summer baseball season.
“Marlton baseball rewrote the record books this year,” Schooley said. “Five district champions, five state champions and one World Series champion. No organization had this much success on the field of play. No one.”
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The students of Jaggard Elementary School held their annual Patriot Day parade on Sept. 12. They also held a surprise welcome home event for returning Marine Lance Corporal Glenn Hoopes Jr., son of school physical education teacher Glenn Hoopes Sr. The military appreciation event was just one of dozens organized throughout the year by the Marlton based charity Operation Yellow Ribbon of South Jersey.[/caption]
Resident makes allegations against Evesham BOE member:
At meetings in August, September, October and November, resident Sue Wilder used the public comment portion of Evesham Township School board meetings to call for the resignation of board member Kevin Stone.
Wilder said Stone placed a letter in her mailbox containing confidential information and said Stone sent her an email containing school report card analysis and teacher workshop pay with instructions to leak the information to the media.
However, several members of the board stated that the information contained in the email, which Wilder presented to the board, was not actually confidential and would have been available to the public had it been requested.
The board was ultimately instructed by board solicitor William Donio that boards of education as a body cannot bring ethics charges against a school board member, only the School Ethics Commission under the state Department of Education has such power.
As for the letter Wilder alleges Stone left in her mailbox, she did not present it to the board or use it to file charges with the School Ethics Commission, as she claims it would have made the confidential information in the letter public as she alleges Stone originally wanted.
Stone had no comment toward any of the allegations against him at or after any of the meetings at which Wilder made her claims.
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It was a gorgeous fall day on Sept. 27 when residents and visitors alike gathered on Main Street in Evesham for the 28th annual Evesham Harvest Fest event. Pictured are Marlton residents Dawn Garvey, left, and Theresa Henderson as they scan the wares from vendor Joy Lacca of Blackwood.[/caption]
Township, owner of Tri-Towne Plaza announce redevelopment:
It was the beginning of the end for the nearly 40-year-old vacant Tri-Towne Plaza shopping center on Route 70 when Evesham Township and Tri-Towne owner Richard Birdoff, of New York-based RD Management, gathered at Tri-Towne in October to announce a multi-million dollar redevelopment plan for the plaza.
The plan mapped out big changes to plaza, the biggest of which was turning it into a mixed-use site, with high-end retailers next to a new apartment complex with 100 market-rate apartments to be constructed along Locust Avenue.
Before the plans, the site was valued $5 million, with the proposed improvements to the site valued at $25 million.
At the announcement ceremony, Birdoff said the project would bring 100 permanent jobs to the area, along with a 350 construction jobs and an obvious boon to the townships ratables.
The new area was tentatively announced as the Residences at Renaissance Square and the Shops at Renaissance Square.
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Evesham Township once again got into the holiday spirit with its annual Winterfest event at the Main Street Fire House on Dec. 5. Pictured are two elves, Frank and Sophia Peterson.[/caption]
2014 elections for mayor, town council, boards of education:
It was the year of incumbents in Evesham regarding the 2014 elections, as incumbents Mayor Randy Brown, Councilwoman Deborah Hackman, Councilman Steve Zeuli, Evesham School District board member JoAnne Harmon, and board member Sandy Student all won their bids for re-election.
The only incumbent to lose a bid for re-election was Joanne Sanferraro, the Evesham representative for the Lenape Regional High School District Board of Education, who was defeated by former Evesham representative to the board Barry Fitzgerald.
The official results from the Burlington County Board of Elections as of Nov. 26 are as follows:
Randy Brown (R) — 61.64 percent (7559 votes)
Fred Ritter (D) — 38.24 percent (4,690 votes)
Steven Zeuli (R) — 30.36 percent (7221 votes)
Deborah Hackman (R) — 29.72 percent (7,068 votes)
Sophia Nowinski (D) — 20.20 percent (4,803 votes)
Phil Warren (D) — 19.71 percent (4,688 votes)
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In the weeks leading up to the Marlton Middle School Empty Bowls fundraiser, art students sculpted and painted soup bowls, and family and consumer science students made soup. All money raised will go to the Food Bank of South Jersey, and guest will then take their bowl home with them. Pictured are eighth grade students Ryan Stango and Liv Gazzara as they work on cooking chili for the event.[/caption]
Evesham Township School District Board of Education Race:
JoAnne Harmon — 25.33 percent (5877 votes)
Elaine Barbagiovanni — 21.86 percent (5,031 votes)
Sandy Student — 19.60 percent (4,549 votes)
Jay Levenson — 17.58 percent (4,080 votes)
Phil Wessner — 15.63 percent (3,623 percent)
Lenape Regional High School District Board of Education Race:
Barry Fitzgerald — 65.26 percent (5,531 votes)
Joanne Sanferraro — 34.50 percent (2,924 votes)
You’ve reached the end of our 2014 year in review. From all the staff, we at The Sun Newspapers wish our readers a happy New Year!