Recognized Pair Have Served Morristown Combined 74 Years
Victor France was honored for 38 years as a volunteer with the Morristown Fire Department; Frank Somma was honored for 36 years with town, 32 of those as coordinator for the Office of Emergency Management.
The two men honored for their service to Morristown Tuesday night have been earning that honor for a combined 74 years.
That's a lot of "all in a day's work."
First Assistant Chief for the Volunteer Division of Morristown Fire Department, Victor France, and Morristown Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Frank Somma each received recognition for careers that began in the 1970s.
Acting Fire Chief Robert Flanagan presented France with a plaque for his work with the fire department that began in 1974 at Humane Engine No. 2.
"He has served with dedication," Flanagan said, noting France's involvement with a number of historic fire events in town, including at Assumption Church, First Baptist Church and the former Armstrong lumber yard on Elm Street.
"He has transformed the volunteer division as it is today," the chief said.
"I am just really proud to be a member of the fire department and a real part of the community," France said. "It just makes me feel really good."
While France has concluded his time as first assistant volunteer chief after many years of service, he said he would continue to work with the fire department, "because I love it so much."
Somma's record of service with Morristown is a bit smaller than France's ... he began in 1976, as an auxiliary specialty officer.
That did not last long, though, as within a few years he became coordinator for the Office of Emergency Management, a role he has held for 32 years.
Mayor Tim Dougherty, beginning his presentation of Somma's certificate of recognition and appreciation, noted his first call from him as mayor was "he told me the library blew up," citing the May 2010 incident.
"Since then, it seems like the phone calls come at the same time," he said. "You name it, Frank's there."
Dougherty said it was especially important now to recognize people like Somma and their work, in light of several major storms that have mobilized the OEM in the last several years.
Somma also is the man who must lobby FEMA for funds following such major storms. He noted the town has been able to collect $400,000 as a result of damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene, and is expected to collect $500,000 as a result of Superstorm Sandy.
Somma, accepting the certificate and the standing ovation from those in council chambers, took the praise in stride.
"It's a community effort, it's not just me," he said.