Contributed by Middletown Mayor Gerard P. Scharfenberger |
On June 28, the Middletown Township family lost one of its beloved members, Public Information Officer (PIO) Cindy Herrschaft to cancer. Cindy was a familiar face at every township meeting, event and emergency site. Her trademark “think happy thoughts” instruction before taking a photo never failed to bring a smile to everyone’s face – even the most veteran public officials and camera-shy residents.
The position of PIO is critical to the operation of the township, communicating the activities of the Township Committee to the residents and conveying important policy and legislative actions, event announcements, and emergency situations. During Superstorm Sandy and its aftermath, Cindy stayed at town hall day and night to ensure every bit of information that became available was disseminated to the public and the administration was constantly informed of all the latest developments. During emergency situations, it was Cindy’s calm, reassuring voice that residents heard on reverse 911 calls instructing them how to stay safe and what the township was doing to respond to the situation. Her professionalism and competency in the performance of her duties were unmatched. Having honed her talents as a newspaper reporter for years prior to joining the Middletown staff, Cindy knew exactly how to present a press release or how a quote would be received by the reader. She had built an excellent rapport with the local media, and always managed to maintain an unbiased focus even with the most heated, contentious of issues. In today’s world of instant communication and 24 hour news cycles, a competent PIO of Cindy’s stature is worth their weight in gold.
While Cindy’s performance over the years was consistent in its remarkable level of proficiency, even those who knew and worked with her for years marveled at her dedication during her final weeks. Even in her last few days, Cindy was voicing her concern about her job and the things that she knew had to be done.
Although Cindy Herrschaft has passed away at the ridiculously young age of 45, the standard she has set for her friends and colleagues in Middletown Township will live on for years to come. Her valiant fight and willingness to perform the job she loved, even in the face of tremendous pain and discomfort, is an inspiration to us all. Knowing that is what will help all of us who knew and loved her to “keep thinking happy thoughts.”
This article was first published in the July 6-13, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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