South Orange Honors Joan Lee as ‘Villager of the Month'

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Joan Lee, president of the Columbia High School Scholarship Fund, is the September Villager of the Month.

The South Orange Community Relations Committee presented Lee with the award last night at the South Orange Village Board of Trustees meeting.

Joan Lee addresses the audience at a CHS Scholarship Fund fundraiser on September 20, 2014.

Joan Lee addresses the audience at a CHS Scholarship Fund fundraiser on September 20, 2014.

As an advocate for the community’s educational needs, Lee has served on the South Orange Maplewood Adult School Board multiple times as well as chairing the Columbia High School Scholarship Fund’s scholarship committee for the past 10 years.

Under Lee’s purview, the scholarship endowment fund has quadrupled since 1997 due to fundraising efforts and donations, and the CHSSF awarded $137,000 in scholarships to 104 CHS graduates this year. Lee also currently works with Assemblywoman Mila Jasey on behalf of the Adult School to address the difficulties faced by small non-profits like the Adult School as an effect of the 2009 Charities Registration Act’s implementation.

Upon receipt of her award, Lee emphasized that it confirms the importance of both the Adult School, which “responds to the needs of the community,” and the CHSSF, whose scholarship recipients “become contributing members of society.”

“An award like this validates and illustrates the significance of volunteering and commitment to our community,” Lee said.

Also of note at last night’s Board of Trustees meeting was the announcement of a new software program that is designed to aid public engagement.

Novus Agenda was approved for a 90-day trial period via the consent agenda. Although primarily designed as a workflow tool, Novus Agenda will enable all of the Board’s meetings to be livestreamed and will enable higher quality livestreaming than is currently available. The software will also provide the meeting agenda and various other pertinent documents to the viewer concurrently with the livestream.

Village President Alex Torpey also took the opportunity to promote SOConnect, a mobile app which launched this summer and allows residents to submit and track service requests to the town. SOConnect allows users to report non-emergencies and access various municipal information.

The Board of Trustees introduced a single ordinance for first reading. The ordinance, which aims to allocate funds for capital improvement projects to Essex County sewerage facilities that serve South Orange, was introduced at a previous meeting. The Board cannot vote upon the ordinance at a second reading until after the local finance board hearing, which has been postponed from September to October, hence the ordinance’s reintroduction. The ordinance will be brought up for a second reading and a vote at the Oct. 13 Board meeting.

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