Borough Administrator Eileen Heinzel was honored by Pennington officials past and present for her years of service during the borough council’s March meeting.
At the meeting on March 7, Mayor James Davy read a proclamation recognizing her service.
“For as long as Eileen Heinzel has been involved in Pennington Borough she represents a true public citizen,” he said to the Hopewell Valley News. “She freely gives of her time and her talent for the betterment of the community and she did that as a citizen, as a volunteer, as a member of our local church community in Pennington, as a council member, and borough administrator. People respect her caring, her compassion, and her service and last night was a testament of her being willing to give so freely.”
The Borough Council approved of Heinzel’s request for an unpaid leave of absence, which went into effect on Feb. 15, at the governing body’s March meeting.
Davy highlighted her guidance and expertise at the meeting in leading Pennington to accomplishments such as implementation of the borough’s automated trash collection program and securing funding from the New Jersey Green Acres program for acquiring property that surrounded the African American cemetery and fund the arboretum behind Toll Gate Grammar School.
The mayor and council will dedicate the first tree planted in the borough’s new arboretum in her honor for her service.
Heinzel was elected to the Pennington Council in 2004 and served on the council until 2014. She took over as borough administrator in 2014 following the resignation of former administrator Tim Matheny and has been serving in the position into 2022.
“Thank you very much. I’m a little drawn to tears regarding the arboretum. I have enjoyed every minute I have worked in this town, so to be honored means a lot to me,” Heinzel said. “Thank you everyone for your kind words and recognition. It is beyond my expectations, but this is a wonderful town to work in and I am glad I gave so much of my time and effort. Thank you all for allowing me to do that. I have had a wonderful life.”
Praise and stories on Heinzel’s work ethic, character, and service would come from former Pennington officials, current council members, and from New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli and New Jersey State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio.
“I think Tony (late former Pennington Mayor Anthony Persichilli) would want me to say that he always depended on you. I recall when you were talking about taking the administrator position and how excited he was that you would consider it,” Persichilli said. “In his mind you completed the best team a mayor could wish for. Tony would want me to thank you for all the help you gave him each and every day and for your service to the Borough of Pennington.”
She added that Heinzel is a good and faithful servant.
“He definitely would want you to know that he knows that cross that you have to bear is heavy and the journey you are on is difficult, but when you are ready you can gently put that cross down and like him you will find peace,” Persichilli said. “I am sure that is what he would want me to say. God Bless you Eileen.”
Muoio said she has been fortunate to know and share experiences with Eileen on both the professional and personal level.
“We share a love of family and politics and government service. We both served in elected office and most recently on the administrative side of government. We are both lawyers and both married to prosecutors,” she said. “Eileen was a terrific and dedicated member of council. She was always calm with a quite smile, well-prepared and informed. Every corner of our beloved hometown benefitted from your dedication and hard work over the years.”
Former Mayor Joe Lawver credited Eileen with being the person that first got him involved in Pennington.
“We moved here in 2002 and first met you as a neighbor. You have been involved in the Pennington Public Library for countless hours as a member of their board and you started the summer reading program,” Lawver added. “It was Eileen, Joy Clarkson and myself and we put together this summer program. We had 75 kids show up at the library and we found creative ways, mostly thanks to Eileen, to keep them entertained and engaged.”
He said he treasures those times and brings them up because that to him characterizes Eileen.
“Commitment to family above all. It is that behind the scenes, what can I do, who can I get involved and how can we make this a better place,” Lawver said. “It has been a great honor to work with you on all of these projects.”
Former Councilman Glen Griffiths spoke to her intelligence, strength and hope.
“I want to tell you how smart you are. I found your intelligence so terribly threatening I could not really handle it. You are a beautiful person, you are beautiful in your mind, you are beautiful in your heart, you are beautiful in your soul,” he said. “You have a monumental sense of duty that warrants more than the planting of a tree, but maybe a whole forest.”
Griffiths added that Heinzel has become a model for how they should live their lives each and every day.
“Holding our heads high as you hold yours. Inspiring us to soar above our hurdles rather than wonder why they are put in our path,” he said. “We do understand why you are dealing with these challenges, but not us. We love you, you give us strength and we offer you ours.”