Nicholson honored for citizenship

| 22 Feb 2012 | 08:44

    Honored for service and commitment to the community, By Fran Hardy Sparta — No one would call Robert Nicholson III a “yes man,” but when it comes to volunteering his time and talents to improve his hometown of Sparta, the 45-year-old businessman and entrepreneur rarely says no. Nicholson was recently given the named the 2009 of the Outstanding Citizenship Award and presented with a plaque by Mayor Brian Brady for his years of service to Sparta. Nicholson is the son of Bob and Shirley Nicholson, who have been Sparta residents for 48 years. He said he learned everything about community service from his parents. “They were the ones who always said yes to their community. Mom and Dad have always been so involved and I’ve just followed their example.” Nicholson is the president and CEO of the Eastern Propane Corporation, a company founded in 1938 by his grandparents, Robert and Lillian Nicholson Sr. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Lakeland Bank, co-founded by his father in 1969. The job would keep most people busy enough, but Nicholson still devotes time to a variety of civic initiatives focused on promoting a healthy, environmentally conscious community, enhanced by athletic pursuits, and enriched by the arts. Nicholson has served on the Sparta Economic Development Committee, the Sussex County Chamber of Commerce, as the co-chair of the Sussex County Trails Partnership, and chair of The Park at Sparta Junction trail head initiative. This initiative is especially dear to Nicholson’s heart, as it includes the goal to connect the county’s existing network of trails to other open spaces and parks within Sussex County communities. Nicholson, along with his parents and sisters Debbie, Wendi and Linda, donated the funds to create the new band shell at Dykstra Concert Park, known as The Nicholson Family Performing Arts Pavilion. The pavilion will be home to the free summer concert series sponsored by the Sparta Cultural Affairs Committee. The Elks Club has asked him to be Grand Marshall in the Fourth of July parade. “I’m very proud to be a part of this town,” said Nicholson. His latest project is also at Sparta Junction, just off Prices Lane, and will be called the Sparta Junction Eco-Commerce Center. The 20-acre site will become the new Eastern Propane headquarters. Nicholson said the site will include other businesses that will join Eastern Propane in creating green, eco-friendly facilities. Nicholson hopes the eco-commerce center will be a positive example, proving that environmentally friendly structures and business operations are possible and not cost prohibitive. He said, “We have to change the energy paradigm.” He hopes the corporate campus will be a learning center where children can learn about green technologies and renewable energy sources. Most permits and approvals for the project are in place. Two new roads: Sustainable Way and Clean Energy Way — will be cut into the property by the end of the year. Nicholson sponsors various events, such as the Mugs Media/Eastern Propane Athletic Awards, which has recognized local high school athletes for the last 11 years, and Sparta Mountain Day, a LIVESTRONG fundraising and environmental awareness event. Nicholson lives on the mountaintop where he grew up, high above East Mountain Road with majestic vistas all the way to High Point Monument, the Delaware Water Gap and beyond. Nicholson, his family, and Eastern Propane employees can often be seen picking up trash along area roadsides and tending to the flags and plants around the Welcome to Sussex County sign on Route 15.