From right, Lamp Post Inn owner Sal Santonello receives the People's Choice Award Best Overall Eatery from Jennifer Hopper.
By Vera Olinski
VERNON — Community sponsors, eateries, and volunteers gathered May 16 for the Taste of Vernon (TOV) Appreciation Mixer at the Lamp Post Inn. After participants enjoyed exceptional food, the Vernon Chamber of Commerce Vice President Jennifer Hopper recognized all who had made the TOV a success and presented $2,000 checks to each of the three local initiatives benefited by the TOV: Vernon Women's Club, Vernon Police Athletic League and Vernon Coalition. “Without all of you in this room tonight, the Taste of Vernon would not be possible," said Hopperr. "We greatly appreciate all that you have done to make this event and support three great charities that we have here in Vernon.” The Vernon Chamber of Commerce started the Taste of Vernon in 2016, she explained, in order to bring the community and local businesses together, showcase the eateries, and help support local charities. She added she thought they had had their best silent auction yet, with an unbelievable response to the baskets they received; “Thank you so much.” Hopper presented the People's Choice awards for: “Best Overall Eatery” to the Lamp Post Inn, two years in a row; “Best Presentation” to Acme Markets, also two years in a row; “Best Entrée” to both Double S Smokehouse and Smokey's Brick Oven Tavern; and “Best Dessert” to the Dairy Swirl. She also recognized the TOV sponsors: Stephanie Scalingo, Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative, N.J. Senator Oroho and N.J. Assemblyman Wirths – who attended the mixer, Skyland's Ice World, Lakeland Bank, Pillar Construction, Decker Transportation, Lakeland Pool & Spas, Vernon Copy Center, Highlands State Bank, Heaven Hill Farm, and iHeart Radio. All the TOV eateries recognized were: the Drunken Cherry Restaurant, Dairy Swirl, Acme Market, Party Personnel, Healthy Thymes Market, Cupcake Café, Lamp Post Inn, Smokey's Brick Oven Tavern, Edenville General Store, Double S Smokehouse, Rose Mountain Chocolatier, Heaven Hill Farm, Vernon Valley Farm, and The George Inn. Hopper announced Ron and Barbara Williams of McAfee Hardware will receive a new Vernon Chamber of Commerce award - the “2018 Member of the Year.” She also thanked all the volunteers on the TOV Committee, youth volunteers, and Finish Line Sports for donating the youth volunteer t-shirts. The first donation of $2,000 was given to the Vernon Women's Club, with President Lois Marples and Vice President Linda Fuehrer receiving the check. Marples said, the Vernon Women's Club is a small group of about 30 women — devoted to giving. She reviewed many community and international projects where the women knit, sew, and collect goods in order to help: hospital patients, homeless people, children in abuse shelters and Appalachia, survivors of human trafficking, soldiers overseas, veterans, and scholarships to Vernon students and scouts. They always welcome new members, she said, and for more information see vtwc.org. This year's very generous donation from the chamber, Marples continued, will enable them to continue helping people with existing projects and creating new ones. She concluded, “We appreciate this and thank you from the bottom of our hearts.” Vernon PAL Assistant Director Jeanne Buffalino and the President of the Board of Trustees Margaret Kranz received a $2,000 donation for the Vernon PAL. Buffalino said, the PAL provides a safe, pure, drug free environment through approximately 20 programs and activities for youth and adults in the community. She added, many of the programs help foster partnership between the youth and police officers, promoting positive life skills. They always look to expand and enhance current programs, she said, and some of them are: before and after school programs, Vernon Day, Trunk or Treat, Fishing Derby, Annual Tree Lighting, and the 5K. Buffalino thanked the TOV Committee and Vernon Chamber of Commerce for selecting them as a recipient and added, “The money will be put to good use.” Vernon Coalition Youth Coordinator Conor Brennan received the $2,000 donation on behalf of the Vernon Coalition. He explained, the Vernon Coalition is meant to reduce substance abuse among the youth. As the Youth Coordinator, he said, he works in 12 different schools with grades four-through-12. Primarily, he works in Vernon, he continued, with different programs such as an anger management group, after school groups, and lunch and fun's – promoting a healthy environment and character in the youth. Brennan credited Senior Coordinator Rebecca Dorney for doing an amazing job in partnering with the community and thanked everyone in the room and the Taste of Vernon for everything they had done.