County commissioners honor two student scholarship winners, prepare for Juneteenth holiday

Kyara Torres-Olivares, left to right, Valeria Torres-Olivares, Dr. Ruha Benjamin, Imani Mulrain, Aba Smith, Hilcia Acevedo and Mutemwa Masheke at Princeton's Juneteenth celebration.


The Sun

Before going through item agendas at the Burlington County Commissioners meeting on June 9, members recognized two student scholarships and Juneteeth, a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

The board congratulated Francesca Sulock from Westampton, who will graduate from Burlington County Institute of Technology (BCIT) this year, for being selected as the New Jersey Association of Counties (NJAC) Foundation 2021 PSEG scholarship recipient.

The foundation scholarship is offered to county vocational or technical students who plan to study environmental science, green design, green technology, alternative energy or other related subjects in college.   

At BCIT, Sulock was an electronics career major for four years and led the school’s robotics club. She will attend Rowan University in the fall to study electrical engineering.

“Sustainability is a rapidly growing field, and green careers allow students to do well while doing good for the world. And they have a positive social impact and help solve our tough global problems,” Commissioner Linda A. Hynes said. “We thank our students like [Sulock] for going into these types of fields to help greatly impact our environment and our quality of life.”

The second honor went to Rose Catrambone from Delran, who will also graduate this year from BCIT. She was awarded the foundation’s SHI International Corporation scholarship, which goes to vocational-technical school graduates who plan to continue their education at a county college or state university. Catrambone will attend Rowan College at Burlington County in the fall to study computer science.

During her time at BCIT, Catrambone was in the field of information technology and ranked 11 out of 281 students in her graduating class.

“When students go into these innovative types of career fields, such as computer science, they’re helping to develop cutting edge science solutions that address challenges we face today,” Commissioner Deputy Director Daniel J. O’Connell said. “Computer technology is a part of everything that we do every day. From the cars we drive to the movies we watch, to the many ways we all interact with each other.”

Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson then brought attention to Burlington County’s Juneteenth event, a special day of service planned for June 18 at the Dr. James Still Historic Office Site and Education Center in Medford. The county will have cleanup work done on the property and in its new building.

Dr. Still was the son of two former slaves who became a self-educated doctor in Medford. He specialized in natural herbal remedies, and his medical practice became so successful that he became known as the Black doctor of the Pines, Hopson said.

Burlington County is known as the Cradle of Emancipation, where slaves were first manumitted – or set free – in large numbers in the area. The sizeable population and presence of Quakers, the first organized group to speak against slavery, enabled South Jersey to be a pacesetter in emancipation.

“While we honor the occasion, we also remember there’s still a lot of unfinished work that remains to be done to achieve real equality for all regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation,” Hopson said.

The Juneteenth event will begin at 10 a.m., and residents interested in volunteering should email Burlington County for more information.

Before authorizing item agendas, Commissioner Tom Pullion went over the solution to the county’s regular recycling schedule. The county faces a nationwide shortage of qualified truck drivers because many of them are retiring and younger adults aren’t as interested in doing the work, according to Pullion.

The Occupational Training Center, a nonprofit that specializes in training and employing individuals with disabilities, has operated the county’s recycling program for 39 years.

“We are by far the largest county in the state; unlike most other counties that collect recycling, Burlington County does not charge towns a fee for the service,” Pullion explained. “We do it as a shared service and save property taxpayers money.”

A shared service agreement with the Burlington County Bridge Commission means the latter will provide the county with several of its licensed truck drivers for recycling collections.

Pullion recommends Burlington County residents continue to check the recycling hotline and website regularly for updates on the collection schedule.

In other news:

  • Burlington County is applying for $500,000 in urban parks grant funding toward Phase 2 park improvements at Willingboro Lakes Park. The scope of the project is anticipated to include expanded parking, improved public access to on-site lakes and Rancocas Creek trail improvements and other amenities.
  • The board authorized its health department to apply for state of New Jersey Department of Health Division of HIV/STD services, counseling, testing and referral services, at a cost of $37,500 for the period from July 1 through Sept. 30.
  • The board authorized the Department of Public Works, Division of Engineering to temporarily close Island Road at County Bridge, and approved a detour route for repairs to the bridges in Mansfield Township.

Hopson gave closing remarks on upcoming events in the county, including Burlington County Restaurant Week from June 21-27.