Should Butler Post Office Name Be Changed for Killed Soldier?
Majority of Butler Council members oppose name change in honor of Spc. Jonathan Batista while U.S. senator considers inquiry of residents.
A U.S. senator is considering an idea to keep the legacy of a killed soldier from Kinnelon alive in the tri-boro by honorarily renaming the Butler Post Office. But the idea has not received a blessing from the Butler Borough Council.
A spokesperson for Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) confirmed the senator is reviewing a request made by community residents to recognize U.S. Army Spc. Jonathan Batista, a 22-year-old from Kinnelon, who was killed in combat in Afghanistan July 8, by renaming the post office in his honor. The Butler Post Office is shared by both Butler and Kinnelon under the 07405 zip code.
"Senator Menendez's office has been contacted by local residents expressing an interest in honoring the fallen soldier," the spokesperson said. "Senator Menendez shares in the deep respect and gratitude his neighbors have for Spc. Jonathan Batista and the sacrifice he made for his country. Senator Menendez is reviewing the community’s petition.”
Butler Borough Clerk Mary O'Keefe polled councilmembers informally at Tuesday's workshop meeting. Councilmen Stephen Regis, Robert Meier and Edwin Vath said they did not want the name of the post office changed, Councilman Ray Verdonik said he did not have an opinion on the issue and Councilmen Robert Fox and Sean McNear said they would be in agreement with the name change. After the polling, O'Keefe confirmed that the council did not want the name of the post office changed.
Ultimately, though, O'Keefe said the council has no control over the name change, as the decision would be in the hands of Congress. Still, she said a representative of Mendendez reached out to her to see if she could get a consensus from council members.
Kinnelon Mayor Bob Collins said he was also contacted by Menendez representatives and said he would be speaking to the Kinnelon Council about the request at Thursday night's meeting. He was unsure whether the Butler council members would have an issue naming the post office in their town in honor of a Kinnelon resident, but said he would not object to the name change.
"I think we can't do enough to recognize Spc. Batista," he said.
Collins will be talking to Kinnelon Council members about other ways Batista can be honored in the borough Thursday.
What do you think? Should the Butler Post Office be renamed in honor of Batista? Participate in our poll and then let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the U.S. Postal Service has the final say in renaming post offices.