By Ron Leir
Harrison attorney Albert J. Cifelli will be honored as Knight of the Year at the Harrison Knights of Columbus Our Lady of Grace Council 402 Shield Awards celebration on Dec. 2, it was announced by Grand Knight Tom Dolaghan.
This year’s event will be held at the Harrison/East Newark Elks hall, 406 Harrison Ave., from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Refreshments will be available.
Dolaghan said that Cifelli, who serves as a Ninth District representative on the Hudson County Board of Freeholders, has been advocate for the K of C in Harrison for many years, providing legal services to the organization at no cost for many years.
Raised in Harrison, Cifelli was a magna cum laude graduate of Rutgers University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree, and received a law degree from Rutgers Law School, Newark. He practices law with partner Ken Davie in Harrison.
A past president of the West Hudson Bar Association, Cifelli has served as public defender and municipal prosecutor in Kearny and public defender in Harrison. He sat on the old West Hudson Hospital Board of Governors for 10 years, including two as chairman.
At the event, Dolaghan said the Knights will announce the presentation of a $10,000 donation to the Harrison Public Library “in honor of a brother Knight, the late Mayor Raymond McDonough,” to help with the conversion of the top floor to accommodate new quarters for the Harrison Museum.
The Knights will also fete newly retired Harrison High School Principal Ronald Shields as Educator of the Year and the high school faculty and Harrison Education Association for having won Blue Ribbon School designation from the U.S. Secretary of Education last school year. A plaque commemorating their achievement will be presented for display at the high school.
The Policeman of the Year award will go to Harrison Police Chief Derek Kearns in recognition of the strides made by the Harrison Police Department in cutting crime. Kearns will accept the award on behalf of the entire department.
Between January and June 2014, Kearns said that Harrison has seen an overall reduction in crime of nearly 31% from the same period last year, and a drop in violent crime by nearly 56%, with 15 incidents of robberies and aggravated assaults reported the first half of 2014 compared with 34 for the same time period last year; and non-violent crime (auto thefts, burglaries and larcenies) down by almost 27%, from 236 such incidents reported the first half of last year to 163 this year.
Members of the Harrison Fire Prevention Bureau will share the Firefighter of the Year award in recognition of the Fire Department achieving an annual 5% reduction in the total number of fire-related incidents for the past five years. Fire Director Harold Stahl will be asked to accept the award on behalf of the bureau.
The Outstanding Citizen of the Year award will be presented to Jorge J. Tena, corporate manager of GEO Specialty Chemicals, 8 Essex St., Harrison. He’s being feted for permitting Harrison Recreation teams access to the company’s property to play and for extending the property’s use to community groups such as for the Second Ward Family Carnival Fest.
Special recognition is being given to the Knights’ Ladies Auxiliary and to Katie Darmetko Walker in particular for spearheading fundraising drives on behalf of disabled Kearny student-athlete Steve Koziel that netted more than $10,000 in the past two years for special athletic gear that facilitated Koziel’s ability to compete successfully in track and field events around the world.
There is no admission fee for the Shield Awards event but anyone interested in attending is asked to call Dolaghan in advance at 973- 766-6458.