Five outstanding individuals representing various backgrounds and accomplishments have been selected to join the Warren County Hall of Fame when the 8th Annual Warren County Hall of Fame dinner takes place on Saturday night Oct. 21 at Hawk Pointe Golf Club in Washington Township.
Businessman John McCann, artist Tomas Gonzales, super community volunteer Kathy Halpin, former Warren County Sheriff Sal Simonetti, and leading physician Dr. Robert Friedman will be inducted into the Hall at the gala event which includes live music and a silent auction.
In addition, posthumously Vice Admiral John Bulkeley, formerly of Hackettstown, and Blairstown ground-breaker John Blair will also be inducted at the Warren County Community College Foundation fundraiser event.
In other special awards, Warren County Community College’s Robert Sintich is to receive the President’s Merit Award, Visiting Homemaker Service of Warren County for its 50-plus years of community support, and the Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Crisis Center will get a Special Recognition Award.
One of the most successful business men in Northwest New Jersey, John McCann has served as the CEO or Director of major corporations and as a consultant for many others, but to many in Warren County, McCann may be best known for his efforts on behalf of Warren County Community College when he served first as a member and then as possibly the youngest Trustee Chair of any college in the state. Under his leadership, the renowned STARS program was initiated by the state, which recognizes top students with scholarships, and was the Chair when current President Dr. Will Austin was hired. Additionally he did volunteered his time with All Saints Regional, and locally and throughout the state served as a volunteer on many other boards.
While known for his incredible carved art work on pumpkins, in the Washington area Tomas Gonzales is particularly known for his efforts on behalf of the Karen Nash Memorial Garden at the Memorial School. One of the leaders in making the Garden happen, he also helped with the design of it and continues to be an important part of the effort. He frequently speaks with school children about gardening and art, and over the years has earned numerous awards from various organizations, and has been featured in many publications. When it comes to pumpkins, he is often referred to as the Picasso of Pumpkin Carving!
Sal Simonetti made a name for himself as one of Warren County’s top law enforcement officials as Sheriff for three terms. However, it should be noted that Simonetti over the years has also made a name for himself as a devoted volunteer with the Blairstown Board of Education (helping to create North Warren Regional High School), life member of the Blairstown Ambulance Corp, coaching youth baseball, and working with March of Dimes, Muscular Dystrophy, and the American Cancer Society, and many other non-profit organizations.
The former longtime Chair of Washington Celebrates America, Kathleen Halpin of Washingtno epitomizes the word VOLUNTEER. She currently serves on the Washington School Board, the Washington Shade Tree Commission, on the board of the Washington Business Improvement District, and is a key member of the WBID’s Festival in the Borough committee. Additionally she was instrumental in helping to raise $35,000 for Habitat for Humanity so that a veteran and his family would have a home to live in, and spent many years involved with the Washington Women’s Club.
Dr. Robert Friedman
One of the leading orthopedic surgeons in New Jersey, Dr. Robert Friedman has been taking care of patients in Warren County since 1995. He spent many years working with Warren Hospital and his now with Coordinated Health in Lopatcong Township. Dr. Friedman is considered a leader in the region in regards to new types of surgeries and procedures. Highly regarded for his work in sports medicine and knee and shoulder disorders, Dr. Friedman frequently speaks to young people about the medical profession and emphasizes treating everyone with respect.
Mention Blairstown or Blair Academy, and local historians will tell you that it was John Blair who was the mover and shaker of his time. Born in Belvidere in 1802 and then moving to Hope later on, Blair soon enough became a leading businessman opening five stores in the area. He was postmaster for Gravel Hill, later named Blairstown in the 19th century. He would eventually run a mulit-million dollar business from his Blairstown home, becoming president of 16 railroad companies along the way and amassing a fortune estimated at $70 million. Additionally, he helped develop 100 churches near to his railroads.
Vice Admiral John D. Bulkeley
Hackettstown High School graduate, John D. Bulkeley, became one of the most renowned heroes of WWII as a Vice Admiral in the Navy. Highly decorated, Bulkeley earned a host of medals, including the Medal of Honor, the Navy Cross, and the Purple Heart. He served his country throughout the world proudly. Route 57 in Mansfield Township is named after him, and the USN destroyer USS Bulkeley commissioned in 2001, is named after him. Upon his death in 1996 he was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
The event, presented by the Warren County Community College Foundation, is open to the public. Tables may be reserved. Proceeds from the event benefit students in need, as well as special programs at the college.
The establishment of the Warren County Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Warren County Community College Foundation, creates a forum for honoring Warren County’s finest in an array of fields. The Hall of Fame itself is set up at Warren County Community College, where the public is invited to see it. For tickets to the recognition dinner, sponsorship opportunities, journal ads, and any other information, please call 908-835-2334 or email email@example.com.
(Photo by Cathy Miller; left to right: Dr. Robert Friedman, Sal Simonetti, Kathleen Halpin, John McCann, Tomás Gonzales)