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Harrison to Name Acocella Citizen of the Year

HARRISON, N.Y. - After all he's done for Harrison, the town will thank the late Town Clerk Joseph Acocella by naming him citizen of the year Thursday. Acocella will be honored at this year's "It's Great to Live in Harrison" festivities and his family will accept the award on his behalf Monday following the parade.

"'Joey' was an amazing man who inspired so many people in Harrison and many that reside outside of this great community," the town said in its agenda for Thursday night's meeting. "He will be remembered for his countless accomplishments, dedication to this town and his constant work to make Harrison all that it could be."

Acocella died Aug. 8 at 30 years old from medical complications. He was awaiting a kidney transplant at the time of his death.

His death left a great impression on the community. The town honored Acocella after his death by closing parts of Halstead Avenue in downtown Harrison for his funeral procession.

"It is a well-deserved posthumous honor," Harrison resident Bob Cipolla said. "[Joe was] an incredible young man who overcame so much to serve his community. Joe's life should be a model for us all. He is and will always be missed."

Jennifer Berendt said the honor was also well-deserved.

"He did great things in a short life and loved Harrison," Berendt said.

Acocella, born July 14, 1981, became the youngest clerk in New York State when he was elected in 2007. Acocella was running for re-election when he died.

His medical ailments included kidney problems, but were also related to his Lumbar Sacral Agenesis, which led to the amputation of both his legs at three years old.

During his life, Acocella served as the town clerk, worked on the Harrison School Board, and also spent time as a volunteer firefighter. His work with and for the town was duly noted in the town's statement.

"'Joey' worked for this town, loved this town and truly believed in this town," the town's statement said.

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