In the kitchen with Marlene Terhune

| 23 Feb 2012 | 01:08

By Ginny Raue You know what it’s like when you’re planning a big barbeque for family and friends, you do the shopping, get the house and deck in order then keep an eye on the weather. Worse comes to worse, you bring the party indoors. It’s not that easy for Marlene Terhune when she’s planning an outdoor event because, in her case, she has invited the whole town.

Terhune is the recreation program specialist for West Milford Township’s Community Services and Recreation, a job that changes by the hour, or the forecast. On the job for 15 years, she enjoys the challenges her position offers.

Born and raised in Glen Rock, Terhune, 58, moved to West Milford in 1976. Married to Craig Terhune since 1974, the couple now has three children and five grandchildren. She can thank her sister for this growing family since she’s the one who set the couple up on a blind date. Their first date was at a country western tavern and the musicians must have hit all the right notes.

“From the first date, that was it,” Terhune said.

Terhune has a varied employment history. She went to Berkeley Secretarial School and worked for five years as an executive secretary at Armstrong World Industries. Switching career paths while raising her children, she became a certified nursing assistant at Holy Name Friary in Ringwood. She then moved on to Community Services and Recreation, employed as a teacher’s assistant, then head teacher in the township’s P.R.I.D.E. program, a comprehensive recreation program for those with developmental disabilities. She still has a soft spot in her heart for this program.

Moving into the programming office in 1997, she had to let go somewhat of the P.R.I.D.E. group, although now she oversees it. “I have a real love for that program,” she said.

Terhune has a full plate when it comes to planning township special events. From the Christmas tree lighting celebration, through the Easter bonnet contest, summer concerts at Bubbling Springs and the Halloween parade, she and the staff, keep the township entertained at the holidays.

Then there are the beach parties, run in conjunction with the Community Against Substance Abuse, at Bubbling Springs for sixth through eighth graders. In the spring there’s the middle school semi-formal dance at the Elks club, complete with strobe lights and booming music.

Terhune is also involved with the day to day operations. Just one look at the calendar of events demonstrates the amount of activity going on at Hillcrest. Rooms are permitted out for such activities as craft and music lessons. Residents come forward to the program coordinator with ideas and they do their best to make it happen.

“We try to run diverse programs that appeal to all ages and interests. We are always open for suggestions,” she said.

Terhune, along with Pat Wenzel, founded West Milford’s Safety Town, a national program for children entering kindergarten. For 20 years the little ones have been taught all aspects of safe conduct, including stranger awareness, vehicle, and pedestrian safety rules.

If West Milford experiences an emergency, such as a power outage, a hurricane or a blizzard, Terhune is on the job. Under the direction of the Office of Emergency Management and the police department, Terhune may be instructed to open Hillcrest as an emergency center.

After Hurricane Irene pummeled the town last August, Hillcrest was open 24 hours a day for residents to take shelter, get water, charge their phones and lap tops, take a shower, get a change of clothing, or stay over night on a cot in the gym, if needed.

“Information about the shelter operation is available on the township Web site and we also send out reverse 911 calls,” she said. During the October snow storm,vehicles drove around town announcing that the shelter was open, letting people without power know that there was help available.

Terhune has little spare time but what little she has is best spent with her family, especially her grandchildren. She enjoys a good book and a movie when time permits. She likes cooking but, again, finding time is difficult. Fortunately, her husband is a good cook. “He’s better than me,” she said.

She sent in a recipe for Autumn Soup, her “go-to comfort food.” This soup should not be confined to a season as the name suggests, since it sounds like something that would warm the cockles of your heart during a snow storm.