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Lawrence Township Business Meeting Held in Feb. 2013
MAURICE COBB, SR. RECOGNIZED FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE
By Jean Jones
LAWRENCE TWP. — Maurice Cobb Sr. was recognized for his
many, many years of community service Monday at the May township
Cobb was appointed building inspector on Jan. 6, 1966, and
served until he resigned in July 1997.
At various times he also served the community as zoning officer,
special officer, constable and deputy emergency management
coordinator. He was appointed to the combined planning and
zoning board in June 1998 and served until he resigned earlier
He also served as clerk of the works during construction of the
Senior Citizens Center and was a fireman for many years. How
many? Committeeman Erwin Sheppard said he remembered serving as
a firemen with Cobb 40 years ago.
Cobb was presented with a plaque in recognition of his long
years of service to his community.
HARNESSES THE SUN TO POWER PACKING PLANT
By Jean Jones
LAWRENCE TWP. — Santa Sweets, one of the nation’s leading
tomato growers, unveiled its new 2 megawatt solar panel farm in
It is one of the largest renewable energy investments for any
East Coast tomato grower.
Over their 35-year life expectancy, the panels will provide the
equivalent carbon dioxide reduction of planting more than
261,000 trees, and will prevent 86,000 tons of carbon dioxide,
more than 380 tons of sulfur dioxide and 120 tons of nitrogen
The 11,000-panel solar photovoltaic array is adjacent to the
Santa Sweets packing house, at 20 Duffield Ave.
U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, NJDEP Assistant Commissioner Michele
Siekerka, Office of Economic Growth and Green Energy, along with
Department of Agriculture Assistant Secretary Alfred Murray and
BPU Commissioner Nick Asselta joined leaders from Santa Sweets,
including CEO Joseph Procacci and J.M. Procacci, chief operating
officer, of Procacci Brothers Sales Corp./Santa Sweets.
The company is one of the country’s leading organic tomato
growers, specializing in grape and heirloom varieties. J.M.
Procacci said the facility was built by the company, from the
ground up. The solar facility provides energy for the company’s
“Another solar field, around the corner, went online in
December,” he said.
Procacci said his father always said, “Without our employees,
we’d be nothing.” He reminded his audience that farms are needed
to feed future generations. The solar array was built on land
that was not suitable for farming. The next move will be solar
panels on rooftops, he said.
LoBiondo congratulated the company for “doing the right thing,
even when there are not cameras and reporters around,” and for
employing hundreds of people in an area where jobs are needed.
Freeholder Tom Sheppard, himself a local farmer and part owner
of the 1600-acre Sheppard Farms, said it was a great project on
a piece of ground that was ideal for the purpose. Sheppard said
his family has been here for 320 years and agreed that it was
the workers in the fields that were important.
“Without them there would be no need for a packing house,” he
Siekerka said that the perception of the farmer as being someone
out in the field wearing a straw hat is not true today.
“There is more and more competition and they need more and more
ways to cut costs,” she said. “The green movement is going to
endorse producing food locally and should endorse producing
One problem in western South Jersey is a lack of space on
transmission wires to accommodate everyone who would like to
connect to “the grid.” The system produces direct current
electricity when sunlight hits the solar modules. The current
then passes through inverters and is converted into alternating
current electricity. If the panels are producing more energy
than needed, the excess power flows to the utility grid and
credit is given to the producer, but the amount of space on the
transmission lines is limited.
Asselta said the Board of Public Utilities will be trying to get
Atlantic Electric to increase its transmission capability in
“You can accomplish so much more when agencies talk to each
other,” he said. “Some of the good you create becomes a
Asselta said there are about 5,000 solar installations in New
Procacci called for all employees to gather for the cutting of a
wide green ribbon, which symbolized the beginning of operations
from the solar array.
There was a display of grape tomatoes and “UglyRipes,” an
heirloom tomato which is less easy to ship than more recent
hybrids, each in its own mesh “sweater” to protect it during
Santa Sweets is headquartered in Plant City, Fla., and intends
to expand its solar initiative to other packing facilities in
Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey and Mexico.
The company operates with a focus on food safety, social
responsibility and environmentally friendly growing practices.
Among other initiatives, it established an internal
sustainability team to share best practices and has joined the
Greater Philadelphia Green Business Program, through which the
company is committed to reducing its carbon footprint.
It also has partnered with nonprofit organizations to provide
health services and English classes to its employees.