Sullivan Renaissance awards bestowed; A slight change in tone

Posted 8/21/12

BETHEL WOODS, NY — The annual Sullivan Renaissance awards were handed out to various volunteers and groups at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts on August 10, and this year marked a bit of a change …

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Sullivan Renaissance awards bestowed; A slight change in tone

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BETHEL WOODS, NY — The annual Sullivan Renaissance awards were handed out to various volunteers and groups at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts on August 10, and this year marked a bit of a change on the part of Sandra Gerry, the driving force behind the much-lauded county-wide beautification program.

It was not a departure for her to thank the hundreds of volunteers for their efforts, which she did, saying, “Because of you… all of you who are actively involved in the Renaissance program, many of whom volunteer evenings and weekends, there is a significant difference in the appearance of Sullivan County.”

It was also not a surprise that Gerry then talked about six leading community organizations consisting of Bethel Woods, The Center for Discovery, Catskill Regional Medical Center, SUNY Sullivan, Catskill Mountainkeeper and Montreign Casino. She lauded them for projects they had undertaken and said the projects are, “looking clean, cared for and esthetically appealing; they invite you into the community.”

She then pointed to the work of the Narrowsburg Beautification Group to show how beautification can attract tourists. One of the volunteers told her, “People come just to walk our beautiful streets.”

The surprising part came next when she said, “I can’t help but mention that there is still blight and inexcusable eyesores in our midst that is detracting from all of the good work you have done in the county. This very visible Liberty business is offensive to all of us who work so hard to make our communities clean, more inviting and welcoming to visitors. After 15 years of Renaissance is this the best we can do?” As she spoke a picture of the Dunkin’ Donuts store appeared on the large screen behind her.

She also criticized the intersection of Route 42 and Anawana Lake Road, which she said will be a gateway to the coming resort. She described the intersection as “barren” and the slides on the screen backed her up.

Gerry said the county has the ability to roll back blight, but the successful effort would require commitment from many quarters. She said, “It cannot only be a grassroots effort. Public officials, we need your help. Business owners, we need your help. Landlords and investors, we need your help too.”

Gerry then bestowed the first honor of the evening to Dr. Gerard Galarneau, the CEO of Catskill Regional Medical Center. Gerry said the facility had undergone an impressive transformation since the last time she was there. She said, “In the ‘spirit of renaissance’, he recognizes the value of creating an environment that raises the confidence of patients and the morale of the employees and volunteers who work there. It starts from the top down.”

While Gerry’s opening remarks marked a bit of a departure from the past, the rest of the evening was taken up as in the past, with honoring the hundreds of volunteers and the countless hours they spend on projects throughout the towns and villages of Sullivan County, working to make the place more attractive to visitors and year-round residents alike.

The Rock Hill Business and Community Association received the Golden Feather, a $25,000 grant presented by New York State Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, for its Public Art Project.

The Narrowsburg Beautification Group received the second place Silver Feather Award of $10,000.

In all, almost $150,000 in grants and scholarships were awarded to communities throughout Sullivan County.

Visit www.sullivanrenaissance.org for a full list of winners.

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