The M. Claire French Award winner announced

The Honorable Gerry Scharfenberger, who serves as the Mayor of Middltown Township,  has been named the winner of the M. Claire French Award for 2017.

The announcement was delivered by Monmouth County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon, according to the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office press release.

The award will be presented  at the Monmouth County Archives and History Day that will be held on Oct. 14 at the Monmouth County Library Headquarters.

The M. Claire French Award for Leadership in Historic Preservation, according to the press release, recognizes outstanding achievements of an elected official, government employee, public servant or civic organization in supporting historic preservation in Monmouth County through education, development, planning, rehabilitation, advocacy, community leadership or other means.

The award was created in 2015, and is named after M. Claire French, Hanlon’s predecessor, who was the county from 1997 until her retirement on April 1, 2015. During French’s 18-year tenure, she oversaw the modernization of the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office, including digitizing county records and the electronic reporting of election results, as well as the expansion of the Clerk Office’s services with the Monmouth County Connection Office in Neptune Township.

“Gerry Scharfenberger, an Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at Monmouth University, exemplifies the important aspects of the M. Claire French Award through his dedication to the maintenance and preservation of various historic sites in Monmouth County,” Hanlon said. “It is my honor to present the award to such a deserving community leader and educator.”

According to the press release, Scharfenberger has been an active member of the Middletown Landmarks Commission since 1996.

He has been responsible for the review of alterations and additions to properties within historic districts, as well as assisting with and designating historic districts within Middletown Township.

Dr. Scharfenberger has volunteered on many archaeological projects in Monmouth County to retrieve historical data before destruction of sites that had no funding for archaeology.  He is also the founder and head of the Friends of the Macleod-Rice House, an organization founded to raise funds to save and restore the historic, circa 1893 Macleod-Rice House in Middletown.

Scharfenberger crafted an ordinance creating a Historic Preservation committee and helped to create a municipal Historic Preservation Award to recognize and encourage the rehabilitation of historic buildings in the Township while he was a member of the Township Committee.

Dr. Scharfenberger has dedicated countless volunteer hours to numerous projects around the county at some of the most important historic sites including the Monmouth Battlefield, Camp Vrendenburgh, Sandy Hook and other sites.  He has also undertaken a major project to clean and maintain Middletown’s 38 historic cemeteries.

For more information, visit the Monmouth County Clerk Office’s website at, call 732-308-3771 or email