A decision to cancel the Point Beach Chamber of Commerce installation dinner to honor local first responders and public works employees at Martell's was made Thursday afternoon due to some honorees cancelling, says the chamber president.
"Some of the honorees said it's in their best interest not to attend because of the political climate," said Chamber President Lynne Mahoney, who was to end her tenure as president and turn the reins over to Ed Brannagan, Martell's manager, on Saturday night. She added she did not know the percentage of honorees who had canceled.
"The political climate" involved
Apparently, that made some of the first responders and municipal employees have second thoughts.
"Some of them said they needed to remain neutral and we understand that," said Mahoney, owner of "We didn't know if we would be able to have the mayor read the proclamations honoring first responders."
Barrella had also been scheduled to swear in the new chamber officers and directors.
Only a few hours before the chamber notified Patch, Scott Bassinder emailed Patch saying, "I've changed my mind and will let him in but I feel he still owes my dad an apology."
But apparently some honorees had canceled by the time news began circulating that Bassinder had a change of heart.
Mahoney said she is disappointed that the chamber will not be publicly honoring the first responders and staff Saturday night.
"We really wanted to honor the first responders who did such a great job after Sandy," Mahoney said. "They don't get enough thanks, which they deserve. We'll still give them plaques so they know they're appreciated."
There were many members of the police and Emergency Management departments and volunteers with the Point Pleasant First Aid and Emergency Squad and Fire Department who put themselves in harm's way to rescue residents from flood waters, transport them to hospitals, shelters and temporary homes, feed them and clothe them.
That was despite that many of them saw their own homes and the firehouse on Arnold Avenue flood.
The municipal Public Works Department employees, who were also to be honored Saturday night, have been widely praised by elected officials and many business owners for doing an exemplary job clearing the roads of sand and mountains of debris in Sandy's messy aftermath.
Mahoney said the chamber will have a small installation dinner to install officers and directors within the next week or so.
The time, date and place are still to be determined, said Carol Vaccaro, chamber executive director, who will be setting up the new event.
Mahoney, who has been president for three years, a year longer than the official term of two years, said the chamber had not yet paid Martell's.
The dinner was not to be a fundraiser for the chamber, but an installation dinner dance to honor the first responders and employees and to install new officers and directors.
"We've had this installation dinner for 66 years, it's something we look forward to all year," Mahoney said.
The chamber had a fundraiser, which drew a large crowd, at Europa South on Wednesday night to raise money to advertise the town to help draw tourists this summer.
Vaccaro said anyone who has already paid for an installation dinner ticket can get a full refund at the chamber office at 517A Arnold Avenue. For more information, call the office at (732) 899-2424 or email firstname.lastname@example.org