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EPA Administrator Christie Whitman Honors Environmental Achievements in New Jersey; Car Dealer, News Station and Camden Youth Among Those Receiving Top Honors

Release Date: 04/16/2001
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(#01038) New York, New York -- As part of the celebration of Earth Day, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christie Whitman presented 13 awards today to New Jerseyans for their outstanding contributions to a better environment and the protection of human health. Administrator Whitman, who appeared as the keynote speaker, presented EPA’s Environmental Quality Awards and the President’s Environmental Youth Awards at a ceremony held today at EPA Region 2 office in Manhattan. Award recipient Joe Witte, the popular television meteorologist, also spoke at today’s event.

"I am very pleased to be here to help honor some of EPA’s most important partners - today’s award winners. Since I became Administrator, I’ve talked a lot about building partnerships to preserve and protect our precious environment," said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. "I firmly believe that the environmental victories of the 21st century will only be won if the federal government succeeds in bringing together interested groups and individuals in pursuit of a common goal. That goal is one I know we all share - making our air cleaner, our water purer and our land better protected. Each of the people we are honoring today has been the kind of partner I’m looking for as I go about my job as EPA Administrator."

The Environmental Quality Awards are EPA’s way of taking its hat off to those who work the hardest to preserve and protect our environment and public health. The President’s Environmental Youth Awards recognize the outstanding environmental achievements of young people.

EPA Region 2 presents the Environmental Quality Awards annually to individuals, nonprofit groups, educators, business representatives, government officials and media representatives from New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who have made significant contributions to improving the quality of the environment in the region. Winners are chosen by a panel of EPA employees who review nominations submitted from inside and outside the Agency.

The 2000 Environmental Quality Award Winners in New Jersey are:


Joe Witte

Joe Witte, a meteorologist, has been a weather reporter for over thirty years, most recently with CNBC News, a national cable network broadcasting from Fort Lee, New Jersey. Despite the heavy demands of his profession, he has been generous in lending his time to the Student Air Congress of NESCAUM, the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management. The Student Air Congress was funded through an EPA EMPACT grant to build awareness among high school students in New York and New Jersey about air pollution problems and to train them in various air monitoring techniques. Through his encouragement, his humor and his professional knowledge, Joe Witte was an inspiration to the Air Congress students and a gracious host for this first-ever event.

Joel Coyne

Joel Coyne has generously volunteered his technical expertise to create presentations that teach residents of Central New Jersey about the importance of the landscape and its relationship to their quality of life. Working with a team of people, he has incorporated GIS data into computer-based visual presentations on the Lockatong Wickecheoke Watershed, the Delaware and Raritan Canal Park and the Sourlands. Through these presentations, complex inter-relationships between land use, zoning, development and environmental quality have been more easily communicated, proving the adage that "a picture is worth a thousand words."

Dr. Joan Luckhardt

Dr. Joan Luckhardt is renowned throughout New Jersey and nationally for her work to prevent childhood lead poisoning. As Director of the Lead Poisoning Prevention, Education and Training Program at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, she directs the work of the Lead Poisoning Prevention staff, designs the educational outreach program and materials, oversees a number of site-specific projects, as well as lends her expertise to statewide and national lead poisoning prevention efforts. She has contributed generously her time to EPA childhood health initiatives, most recently in Camden, New Jersey, this region’s poorest city. To any who have worked with her, it is quite evident that her commitment goes far beyond the professional; it is a personal commitment to the health and well-being of all children.


Whippany River Watershed Action Committee

The Whippany River Watershed Management project was New Jersey’s pilot watershed management project. The Watershed Action Committee is a coalition of citizens and municipalities dedicated to preserving and protecting the land and water resources within the watershed and achieving the goals of the watershed management plan. Among their accomplishments is the creation of model ordinances that have been adopted by watershed municipalities to address nonpoint source pollution. They have also undertaken a project to achieve a 58% reduction in fecal coliform to meet the Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, established by the plan. Through education and outreach they are engaging the entire watershed community in the effort to restore and protect its valuable water resources.

New Jersey Citizen Action Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

Lead poisoning continues to represent a major threat to the health of the children of New Jersey. Only last week, the New Jersey State Department of Health released a report showing that, over a one year period, 5% of the children tested in the state had shown blood lead levels at or above the threshold thought to cause health problems. Under the leadership of New Jersey Citizen Action, the Newark Partnership for Lead Safe Children, a coalition of 65 community groups was created. Through education and advocacy, they are teaching the residents of Newark about the problems of lead poisoning and working with them to secure public and private funding for prevention and abatement efforts.

La Casa de Don Pedro

La Casa de Don Pedro is being recognized for its Summer Youth Initiative program, a pilot cleanup and beautification project focused on the local commercial district. Reaching out to public and private resources, the organization created a program that united the community, produced strikingly visual evidence of neighborhood pride and provided a model for other communities pursuing self-improvement projects. Students removed 5,700 gallons of garbage, painted over graffiti-covered storefronts and streets, created 1,000 square feet of neighborhood murals and were responsible for 40 flower barrels being placed throughout the district. Area merchants recognized the substantial improvements made by the students and La Casa de Don Pedro will continue the program as an annual summer project.

Lake Mohawk Country Club

Lake Mohawk is a private lake community containing three lakes in Sussex County, New Jersey. These lakes have suffered significant deterioration in water quality as a result of excess phosphorous loading from three major sources – stormwater runoff, septic systems and recycling from the lakes’ sediments. Recognizing the threat to the lakes’ health, the club developed a phosphorous management plan combining traditional and innovative management strategies. Since implementation, the lakes have seen a five-fold decrease in phosphorous availability resulting in visible improvements to the lakes’ clarity and ecology. Through continued education, regulation and innovation, the club remains committed to ongoing progress in the effort to improve the quality of its local environment.


James T. Botsacos, Owner, James Toyota Outlet

James Botsacos designed and operates a unique, eco-friendly automobile dealership. The planning design, and construction of the building were done with a deliberate respect for the local environment. The local topography was minimally disturbed during construction and the building is designed with pollution prevention in mind. Among its features are a glass design that makes maximum use of natural light, a service bay area with no floor drains, and a wastewater system that allows for the recycling of water until it is trucked off the premises for treatment.


Mayor James Whelan,
Kitty Johnson, Chief of Staff, Mayor’s Office
Atlantic City

In October 2000, Atlantic City hosted Brownfields 2000, the fifth annual national brownfields conference. Over 3000 attended the forum, making it the most successful to date. The city was a key partner in the planning and execution of the conference. The personal involvement of Mayor Whelan and Ms. Johnson allowed for quick responsiveness by the city to the needs of planners and attendees alike. They also provided attendees with a tour of local brownfields redevelopment projects enhancing the experience of all who participated.

Township of Maplewood

Lead paint has long been recognized as a major contributor to the problem of childhood lead poisoning. Maplewood is an older suburban town with over 65% of its housing stock built before 1940 when the use of lead paint was predominant. Recognizing the potential threat to the health of community children, Maplewood designed and adopted a local ordinance to prohibit the unconfined power-sanding of lead paint, the first of its kind in the state. Since its adoption, its innovative legislation has been adopted by other towns throughout New Jersey and in towns without specific ordinances, health officers have designated this method of paint removal as a standard safety practice.

West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District

Under the leadership of Robert Austin, Director of Facilities at the West Windsor-Plainsboro School District and Lisa Rizziello, a teacher and Indoor Air Quality Coordinator, the district became one of the first in the nation to adopt EPA’s "Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools" program. West Windsor-Plainsboro schools now have an effective management program in place to address indoor environmental quality issues such as proper maintenance of climate-control equipment, asthma triggers management, green cleaning product selection, integrated pest management and energy efficiency. The district’s program has been recognized as a national model and both Mr. Austin and Ms. Rizziello have been sought out for their expertise throughout the country.


New Jersey Network Public Television

New Jersey Network is New Jersey’s only statewide broadcasting network. Throughout its thirty year existence, it has maintained a commitment to educate its viewers about local environmental issues and to showcase the unique and valuable natural resources of the state. Alone, or in partnership with nonprofit and government agencies, it has produced programs highlighting the Delaware Bay; the Pine Barrens; the state’s gardens and lighthouses; resident naturalists; area wildlife habitats; wildlife populations including deer, bears, trout, eagles, osprey and peregrine falcons; and the migratory birds that make Cape May a birder’s paradise. Through its public television affiliation, such programs are circulated nationally showcasing New Jersey’s unique environment assets and countering widespread misperceptions about the environment in the Garden State.


Region 2 National Award Winner
Lewis E. Gorman IV
Cherry Hill

Lewis is being recognized for his work to promote battery recycling in his home of Camden County. Working with the county Hazardous Waste Disposal Program, Lewis set up a recycling program at his local church, publicized it and also encouraged parishioners to establish similar programs at their workplaces. As of last summer, approximately 2000 batteries had been collected at the church. Lewis also developed an educational program for children at a local day camp and ran a contest to encourage battery recycling. Camp attendees collected approximately 1500 batteries, removing this hazardous waste from the solid waste stream.