Port Norris Legends

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Legends of Port Norris

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George W. Garrison
Recognized as a Living Legend of Port Norris on November 2, 2019

George W. Garrison

Presentation given at the Legends Awards on November 2, 2019 by Tim Garrison, George's son.

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Growing Up

  • My dad was one of 5 children by James and Alberta Garrison
  • Remembers how clean, vibrant and safe PN was with kids riding around and playing on the streets. Thriving town

Port Norris Express

  • PNE was started in 1938, by Sam Leonetti and Frank Damico
  • By mid 1960’s my pop-pop was the sole owner
  • Vietnam, other siblings enlisted in the air force and army, dad couldn’t because of an eye injury from his childhood
  • Went to grad school at PMC (Class of ‘66, went to grad school American University for Transportation (‘68)
  • Got married June ‘68
  • Almost began teaching business in Bridgeton, instead was deferred due to his fathers support in hauling sand to foundries across the North East in support of the war effort
  • Worked PT for Roadway Express in MD when MLK was shot. Saw. the riots going through SE Washington from his apartment in Arlington as the city got torched
  • Came home to work for his dad somewhere around 1969
  • Hauled sand to foundries throughout the North East with tanks, flat beds, dumps that go to the iron foundries from Baltimore
  • A lot of changes to the company started in the 1980s
    • Pop-pop died in 1980, at same time deregulation laws went into effect where they started back hauling different products like lime, talc, feldspar, etc (feldspar used with sand to make glass)
  • Hauling products in both directions gave them an opportunity to expand In mid 90's. This was, i guess you can say, the golden period, everything seemed to go well, they ended up buying 32 new Freightliner and Peterbuilt tractors and a few tanks (probably overextending himself) (pop-pop was once a Mack faithful)
  • At one time had over 50 trucks going from North East to Indiana and all the way down to Georgia
  • Anyway, to make a long story short, internal and external factors
    caused things to change ...
    • Clean Air Act, 90% of foundries in North East closed, causing ripple effect
    • This and a couple other setbacks caused the company to drop down in size to about 5 trucks
  • With government regulations, environmental regulations, foundries closing and market conditions, finally sold equipment to Counsel Harrel, the property to cell tower company who sold it to the county.
  • One of his better gifts to the community ... cell service (although not everyone agrees, but we won't get into that :)
  • Now you'll see the building cleaned up and will be the future home of Commercial Twp Utility building. And finally cell tower that'll provide service well into the bay
  • Have no fear ... cell service is near

George Garrison Port Norris

Township Committee

So how do I begin to summarize the 20 some years my dad served on the twp committee? Lol. .. it was always interesting ... Constant campaigning, street signs, phone calls, scandals,. I never would have guessed politics in Cumberland county would be so interesting? Well I'll leave the juicy stuff to your conversations with my dad personally.

No interest in politics what so ever until 1988 when Milton Beechum who was on Township committee with Clarence Berry as mayor convinced him to run for office as Democrat. For any of you that know my dad personally, you'll find that hard to believe, but its true.

Within 3 months of office, they were called to Trenton as the Township was on verge of bankruptcy

  • No controls of spending, wages frozen for a year
  • Tax collection rate was 77%, hand-typed tax bills (archaic system)
  • Within 6 months the workers voted in a union
  • In 21 years of office not a single grievance filed
  • Gave people tools and training to do their job
    • Computers for billing to grease guns for their equipment
    • Raise tax collection rate to over 92%

Discussion of Wild and Scenic ... all 5 municipalities (Millville, Vineland, Maurice River, Buena all signed off) Commercial TWP held off. At that time Barny Hollinger and Ron Sutton were on the committee with him. Concern with restrictions and regulations of the designation and how it would effect the fishing and oyster businesses in the TWP. They fought to get economic benefits and incentives like waste-water treatment for:seafood processing, sales tax incentive zone and to keep the designation north of the Mauricetown Bridge so the regulations would not interfere with the businesses along the bay.

This is when he switched from Democrat to Republican. Had signing of the Wild and Scenic at the White House with Bill Clinton

  • Everyone else went through security 1-2-3, but funny how he was always tied up at security for an hour
  • Interesting about how his name was left off the guest list


State Police Barracks

  • Renegotiated contacts with the state police for the township to be able to collect in excess 100K off leasing the state police building
  • Kept state police coverage for the community

Served on mining committee Sand mining at (Wills Pond)

How many of you can remember the infamous mudslides and races of the roads in Laurel Lake Over 20 years ago?

When entering office, Battle Lane was paved because that was a state road, Doris Drive only half paved. With a committee Barney Hollinger and Ron Sutton and having Jud Moore help out as CFO they applied for grants for paving of the roads in Laurel Lake to pave all the roads and provide street lighting, all through state grants.

Not all duties for the township committee involve lawmaking, politics and taxes, sometimes its about bringing pride and honor to the people that live there. This goes to the families of a man name 9 Eldon Johnson. 30 years ago, no knowledge of such a man existed in South Jersey. Hannah Nichols, township clerk got a phone call from a lawyer in Wildwood who had a personal interest in medal of honor winners. After extensive searching from Hannah, they found record of such a man born in Bivalve at the appropriate time but was raised in Weymouth, Massachusetts. So my dad and mom went to Weymouth and found an amazing small town with 5 medal of honor recipients from different branches of services. There they found ships named after him, a school and a Memorial Park dedicated to those heres that fought in the wars. The information they learned there was able to be throught back home to honor Johnson's family and name the bike trail that goes from Port Norris to Bivalve. It's really an amazing story to hear from him.

Anyway, I guess it all caught up with him. He’s been retired for several years now. After more 30 years of business and 20 on the Township committee, he decided to retire.

You would think he would spend the rest of his days in R&R, but instead, he took up running and an obsession with personal fitness. Since then he’s challenged me to my first 5k, something he’s ran countless of. He also ran a half marathon in 2 hours, 5 minutes after the age of 65, a time I have yet to beat, and also studied to get his personal trainers certification. The man just never stops. If he’s not out running the trails, he’s in the yard or garden, or out and about in town mowing yards.

My dad wanted to make this clear, that this should not be all about him, his successes would not have come without the help of those around him. There are many to thank, but this is a list of a special few he’d like to mention

George Garrison Port Norris

The many thanks ...

Aaron Harden and Ricky Lupton - the most dependable and knowledgeable shopkeepers anyone ever hope for. They were always there to help and how many times they came through cannot be overstated.

Juddy Moore and Barney Hollinger - the best teammates and friends anyone can ask for. He is proud of the work they accomplished together as a team.

Ed Garrison - by being his identical twin, he always challenged him, and,_ always bringing out the best in him, no matter what.

Now the two special ladies in his life ...

Joan Robbins - As his older sister, she was always there for him: In the very beginning of course, and when he came to the business, she was there
first, something that people made clear to him when he got there. He
wants to let her know he respects all the reasons she chose to go her own way, and wants her to know ... she was hands down the best book keeper he ever had.

Nancy Garrison - her faith and never ending support with always be appreciated. She was always there at home, and when there were some lean times where her salary pulled them through. Her job and dedication as a teacher was crucial for them.

Last, but not least, my dad wanted to give thanks and praise to God. His relationship with him was most important to him in his success. In addition to his involvement with the company and the township committee, my dad was always involved in the church. He spent many years as deacon, and always taught me the importance of faith in your life.

For my closing thought, I’d like to leave you with his favorite Bible verse which is 1 Corinthians 10:13 - Before I read it’s important to note hear that the Greek translation for temptation is “tested” .... no trial has overtaken you except
what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tried beyond what you can bear. But when you are tried, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

George Garrison Port Norris
Left to Right: Gloria Guidera Presents award to George and son Tim.

George Garrison Port Norris
Left to Right: Nancy, George, Tim, Ed and Joan.

George Garrison Port Norris

George Garrison Port Norris