South Orange Says a Tearful Farewell to Retiring Health Officer John Festa

 South Orange Says a Tearful Farewell to Retiring Health Officer John Festa

At the May 23 South Orange Board of Health meeting, town officials wept goodbye to John Festa, who announced he would retire on June 3 after serving the town for more than 32 years.

“John’s work during the pandemic certainly saved lives,” said Trustee and Board of Health President Donna Coallier, “especially when in the early days COVID was so lethal. The contact tracking that took place … it is very important to maintain our numbers and keep this community healthy. ”

“He took a lot of that knowledge and experience,” Coallier added, noting Festa’s long time.

Village President Sheena Collum praised Festa’s work on everything from restaurant inspections to instigating the Trap/Neuter/Release program for wild cats to fighting the proliferation of rats in Norway. , but became an emotional discussion about the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I don’t think anyone can understand how many lives you’ve saved,” Collum said, noting that Festa worked “23 hours a day” through the pandemic.

“You really deserve this retirement … you saved lives, John,” Collum said. “If we hadn’t had this full time capacity in the last 26 months there would have been more missing people in this town. You are our hero. ”

“It’s very bitter,” said Festa. “It’s not goodbye. I will go again.

From South Orange Township:

South Orange Village announced Tuesday the retirement of Health Officer, John M. Festa, effective June 3, 2022.

“Congratulations to Health Officer John Festa on his retirement,” Village President, Sheena Collum offered. “John serves our community as an exemplary public servant and leads us through some of the most challenging times imaginable with professionalism, compassion and tireless dedication.. For the past two and a half years John has worked 7 days a week coordinating our pandemic response. On behalf of myself and my colleagues on the Board of Trustees, I offer our sincere gratitude and appreciation for all he has done for South Orange during the public health crisis and his more than 32 years of service. in our community.

“There is no doubt that we owe a great deal to John for his leadership during the most important public health emergency in generations, but his contributions before the pandemic are also worth mentioning. John always above and beyond his required duties as Health Officer.He organizes and promotes various community programs including the annual Health Fair, the ‘File of Life’ program and the annual Turkey Giveaway, which demonstrates her commitment to the health and well-being of our community.His retirement is well deserved and her presence on the local board of health will be very memorable, ”added Trustee Donna Coallier, President of the South Orange Board of Health.

Festa began her public health career in 1985 as an Irvington Health Educator. In 1989 she began working part-time in South Orange as a Health Educator with a focus on lead burdened children. He was hired as a full-time South Orange Health Officer in 1992. Under his stewardship South Orange Village has consistently enjoyed satisfactory compliance reviews from the NJ Department of Health.

Village Administrator Adam Loehner said, “In addition to John’s good work ethic, it should also be remembered that John has always managed the Health Office with many financial responsibilities. He has negotiated favorable contracts for services outside the areas of animal control and food testing and has obtained professional licenses that allow him to conduct his own inspections in various areas. These efforts have helped reduce the overall cost of the department while maintaining a good level of service.

In addition to his work in South Orange, Festa served in the Army National Guard from 1984 to 2005 and was honorably removed from the rank of Major.

It is a privilege to serve so many governing bodies, generations of South Orange residents, students and staff at Seton Hall University, many grammar and high school students as well as a dedicated staff. in the Village. Over the past few years, the COVID-19 crisis has proven to be a challenge to the Department of Health, I strive to continue to manage the public health crisis, as well as the many day-to-day responsibilities of the Health Officer. , etc., ”said Festa.

Festa plans to enjoy retirement with his family, including his wife Nancy and son Michael, a Marine Corp Sergeant, while continuing his many volunteer activities, including his work serving the Veteran, holds parties outside the station for Vets and supports the work of the Shriners Network of Hospitals. He was also a member of the Freemasonry; the National Sojourners; the Wharton American Legion Post 91 and the Essex Troop of the West Orange Armory.

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