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Pepe Quits High School Board

Says new job means less time to serve on school board.

Louis Pepe, of Stirling, tendered his resignation from the Watchung Hills Regional Board of Education Jan. 5, citing conflicts with a new job he has taken.

Pepe was named assistant fire marshall for Morris County, and said he expects his duties working with the county's various fire departments will require more time.

"I can't commit to the school if I commit to the job, and I just can't do it if I can't give it my best," Pepe said this week.

He said the new position was "kind of an 'out-of-the-blue' situation, where everything fell into place for him.  

With his background with a family-owned electrical contracting company, Pepe served on the board's Building and Grounds Committee for most of his six years on the board. He said he initially ran for a seat on the board because of problems he saw during construction at Watchung Hills Regional.

"I watched the contractors telling the board a lot of nonsense," he said this week. "It really got me upset; it was disgusting."

He said he was proud of having been able to provide guidance for the board to successfully challenge some of the work done at the school, saving the district millions of dollars, as well as being able to work with the board during the recent changes in state aid calculations.

"Being able to hold the line with all the stuff the governor threw at us, and not let anyone go—I'm glad I was able to help," he said.

As for his fellow board members and the school staff, Pepe said he enjoyed working with them and enjoyed being a part of the school leadership.

"I'm very proud of the school," he said.

He also helped the board move on projects including the updating of the south auditorium, repairs to the school's HVAC systems, and a sewer project.

Pepe had also be involved in talks last year on possible solar projects at the school as part of the county program.

"He's been a terrific board member," Superintendent of Schools Frances Stromsland said. "He's been wonderful on the board."

Board members will discuss filling the seat at the Jan. 17 meeting.

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