2014 was an interesting year for Mount Holly. Tried to narrow it down to a top ten events/issues of the year and it was not easy. There is actually a tie for #1
10. IM THE MAYOR DOW resigns and Belton pushed out– Jan 1 will bring the end of local handyman Dwayne Belton’s term on Town Council. His accomplishments include promoting his business, receiving free ice sculptures for his business at the Fire & Ice Fest and well nothing more than being a waste of space. As for Rich Dow he was a ticking time bomb that finally went off. See previous posts for more details as we have officially retired his name from the site.
9. Main Street Mount Holly cancels “First Night”- It was fun while it lasted but due to lack of volunteers and funding First Night is no more. Lets hope other events like the car show, St. Patrick’s Parade and Fire & Ice continue to thrive.
8. Relief Fire Company scandal- There was a law suit filed by the fire district because the Relief refused to fix their roof and there was an issue of missing money. The suit has since been dropped as Relief gave in by opening their books and signing a long term lease giving the fire district control of the property. The culprit(s) of the missing money may never be brought to justice as it became “blame the dead guy” at 17 Pine Street.
7. Mount Holly Library Saved– Mayor DiFolco lobbied the Freeholders to take over our struggling library and succeeded. The previously underfunded library will now remain open as a history/cultural center and a significant part of our town.
6. Mill Dam Park upgraded– A $250,000 grant was put to use at the aging park and it is now a great place to visit. Sources indicate more improvements are on the way.
5. Police Chief retires– We thank Chief Steve Martin for his years of service to our community. His retirement caused a little shack up in the MHPD as some other supervisors retired on his heals but order has been restored. Congrats to Chief Tom Mastrangelo and newly promoted Lieutenants Rich Spitler and Bill Fields.
4. Contested Primary– For the first time we had a partisan primary in town now that our elections were changed to a partisan format. The democrat primary was interesting as two school board members and a former mayor faced off. On the republican side they could barely find candidates to file but with a twist of fate a democrat and a republican both won in the general election.
3. Thiessen returns, Grant in then out, what was Tim Young thinking and Betty Sykes is a breath of fresh air– After spending 4 years away from public office former Mayor Jules Thiessen reemerged. Thiessen and his running mate Brian Grant won the primary democratic primary by a landslide. School Board member Tim Young ran an interesting campaign to say the least. We respect his efforts and hope he focuses his energy on positive initiatives in town. As luck may have it Brian Grant later dropped out of the race setting up an outcome that no one could have predicted. Betty Sykes the retired vital statistics registar for Mt Holly stepped in as a replacement republican candidate and won the day. Sykes and Thiessen will be sworn-in January 5 as the new council members.
2. Local Schools will get fixed– After many failed attempts to pass referendums to fix our schools it will finally get done. Over $20 Million dollars will be invested in our schools for much needed repairs. Most of the funding will come from a grant lessening the local tax burden. The difference this time was the support of local building trade unions and local union members. The school board president and company can try to take credit but we all know who actually got it passed. #boss
*1. New Breweries hopefully beginning of an economic boom- Why have one brewery when you can have two. Village Idiot Brewery downtown and Spellbound Brewery on Lippincott Lane have been great additions to our town and we encourage everyone to visit them. Both small businesses have been a breath of fresh air for our town and we look forward to watching them thrive.
*1. Significant progress in the gardens– Drive down Levis Drive and you will see a completely different scene from a couple years ago. Only a few of the old houses remain, construction is booming and the finish line is finally in sight. The DiFolco/Brown/Jones administration kept their word and Mount Holly can start to shed the stigmata of failed redevelopment.
Overall it was a good year. With the exception of the nonprofits that continue to purchase properties killing our tax base and ruining our town there has been progress. Hopefully the mayor and council continue to fight the good fight to improve Mount Holly. Less nonprofits, attract more businesses to town and more police on the streets would be a good start.