Union Bridge makes honorary citizens of local business owner's Sicilian parents Carini couple follow news of son's U.S. town

June 24, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The population of Union Bridge grew by two Monday, when the Town Council conferred honorary citizenship on the parents of a local business owner.

"We are the only town with a poet laureate. We might as well have honorary citizens, too," said Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr.

The vote was unanimous. Angela and Guiseppe Monteleone of Carini, Sicily, will receive a scroll conveying the honor.

"This could put us on the map in Italy," said Councilman Donald D. Wilson.

"As long as we don't give them voting rights, too," said Council President Bret Grossnickle.

The Monteleones visited the west Carroll County town once 10 years ago. But they keep up with local news in regular bulletins from their son Angelo Monteleone.

"They always ask me about the town," said Angelo. "I send them pictures."

His Original Pizza shop, a gathering spot on Main Street since 1986, houses a large collection of municipal memorabilia -- "maybe the largest collection of anything Union Bridge," Monteleone said.

The Monteleone family is creating some Union Bridge memorabilia of its own.

Symbolic bricks denoting donations to the town office building fund are being attached to the wall in the council chambers. Angelo Monteleone earned a silver brick long ago. He just added two more, engraved with each parent's name.

"He has done a lot for this town through his business and is always making donations and giving pizza at discounts to town groups," said the mayor. "He surprised everybody when he moved to town and stayed here in business this long."

A small town is the best place for a small business, Monteleone said.

"This is the only place where I don't have to compete against big pizza chains," he said. "This was a great business opportunity for me."

The declaration of honorary citizenship is a first for the town of about 1,000 residents, but "it bears repeating," Jones said. "We should make a point of recognizing those who have helped us in lots of ways."

The town instituted another first in February when it named P. Richard Eichman to a four-year term as poet laureate.

Monteleone will return to Sicily next month to celebrate his parents' 50th wedding anniversary and introduce them to their youngest grandchild. Among the gifts will be an official certificate of citizenship inscribed at the Union Bridge Town Hall and signed by the mayor and the council.

Monteleone won't keep the honor a surprise. He will break the news the next time he phones Carini from his home in Union Bridge.

"This is great," he said. "They will be pleased to hear the news."

Pub Date: 6/24/98

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