Sullivan County Democrat
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Democrat Photos by Ted Waddell

Sullivan County Distinguished Achievement Award winner Jonathan Drapkin and Distinguished Service Award winner Selma Field

Chamber Brunch Honors Best County Businesses

By Ted Waddell
CALLICOON — By all accounts, the ninth annual Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce’s “Pride of Sullivan County Awards” was a resounding success, as several hundred people turned out to recognize the community spirit and entrepreneurial endeavors of their neighbors.
The annual event was held Sunday at the Club at Villa Roma, overlooking the golf course.
The 2000 Pride of Sullivan County township awards recipients included: the Double E Alpaca Farm (Bethel), WJFF Radio Catskill (Callicoon), Dr. Paul Salzberg (Cochecton), Herbert Bauernfeind (Delaware), Sutton Underground (Fallsburg), Fran Gager (Forestburgh), Thelma Herbert (Fremont), Joseph and Esperanza Prato (Highland), McCabe’s Restaurant (Liberty), Bisland Insurance Agency (Lumberland), Robert Whitehead (Mamakating), Shaver Enterprises, Inc. (Neversink), Elton Harris (Rockland), the Irwin Siegel Agency, Inc. (Thompson) and the Narrowsburg International Independent Film Festival (Tusten).
The township awards were handed out by Diane Levine, chairperson of the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Committee; Josh Sommers, WSUL radio personality; and Susan Hamlin, member-at-large of the chamber’s executive committee.
NYS Senator Hon. John J. Bonacic (40th District) opened the ceremony with a brief congratulatory address to the assemblage. He presented the Town of Rockland award to Elton Harris, as the recipient had to leave early in order to take care of a business matter.
Julie Allen was on hand representing Congressman Maurice Hinchey and Assemblyman Jake Gunther. Linda Cellini attended on behalf of NYS Senators Ben Gilman and Bonacic. Leni Binder showed the colors for the Sullivan County Legislature. Other county officials in attendance included Chris Cunningham, Kathy LaBuda and Rusty Pomeroy.
The Distinguished Achievement Award was presented to Selma G. Field by Jacquie Leventoff, President/CEO of the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce.
“Every community has one person who is known for working with children, and yet another person who works for the local hospital or for healthcare, and yet others who run successful businesses,” said Leventoff in presenting the award. “In Sullivan County, we have one person who does it all – Selma Field. Selma has dedicated her life to making Sullivan County a better place. Every one of you, whether you know it or not, has been touched by the work of this extraordinary woman.”
In accepting the Distinguished Service Award, Field said, “Being singled out sets into motion a dichotomy of emotions. Like the Roman god Janus whose fore and aft faces symbolize endings and beginnings, an occassion like this prompts a review not only of what people believe one has accomplished, but also an introspective search of what one failed to do. It is a dichotomy of pride and humility, or gratitude and guilt. . . . With each of you and all of you, I share today’s award, an award that not only bestows a gift of recognition but also extracts a quid pro quo: a pledge to nurture and nourish a passion for the people, the politics and the potential of Sullivan County. A pledge to do more.”
Arden Dean, 1st vice-chairman of the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce, presented the Distinguished Service Award to Jonathan Drapkin, who served the local community as county manager for four years prior to recently joining Alan Gerry’s successful enterprise.
During his acceptance speech, Drapkin took listeners on a journey back to experiences his 82-year-old father recalled from flying combat missions over enemy territory in WWII. Words of wisdom were offered after his son told him about getting the prestigious award.
According to Drapkin, his father was shot down during three bombing missions after receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross.
“His point to me was that it’s really nice to receive an award for a job well done, but there’s always another mission,” he said. “There’s always something else you need to focus on, something else that you need to give your all.”
Fred Stabbert III, publisher of the Sullivan County Democrat, was honored as the chamber’s Businessperson of the Year for 2000. As a third generation publisher, Stabbert inherited the reins from his father Fred Stabbert, Jr., publisher emeritus, who ran the operation for 32 years (1963-95). The elder Stabbert took over the paper from his father, Fred Stabbert, who bought the newspaper in 1927.
The Businessperson of the Year Award was presented to Stabbert by Scott Samuelson, chairman of the chamber’s board of directors.
“I think Freddie is one of the most positive, energetic and fair guys that could ever be in his business,” said Samuelson, co-owner of the Bradstan Country Hotel in White Lake and a long-time advocate for Sullivan County.
“Freddie puts out great stories and is very supportive of the community,” he added. “I think the story of the Sullivan County Democrat is an incredible testimony to staying with the times and keeping a business going.”
In accepting the Businessperson of the Year Award, Stabbert told the audience, “Anyone who knows me well knows two things. First, I am much better with a pen than behind the podium – that’s why I work for a newspaper – and secondly, how much I love sports.”
Taking the sports analogy to the next page, Stabbert said sports mirrors real life in many ways.
“You have to practice hard, always try your best and never get discouraged, even if you don’t win ‘em all.
“Not many people are lucky enough to be able to touch the lives of so many people in a positive way, and for that, we at the Democrat are very grateful,” he added, noting that the county’s only twice-weekly has not missed a deadline in 109 years.
“Since our founding in 1891, we at the Democrat have witnessed 20 presidents, a Great Depression, a recession, boom times and steady times,” said Stabbert. “But one constant we have had is our sincere belief that the good deeds that people do should not go unnoticed. We hope we have fulfilled that goal and that our readers understand how important it is to support those people who are trying to make Sullivan County a better place for all of us.”
Afterwards, Stabbert reflected upon the award. “It’s a real highlight of my career,” he said. “It’s a real tribute to the newspaper and everybody who works there right now. It’s an honor for the people who made it possible, including my father and our dedicated staff.”
In being honored in this manner, Fred Stabbert III joins such business/community leaders as Alan Gerry (1992), Walter Rhulen (1993), Steve Drobysh (1994), Ray Walter (1995), Joyce Salimeno (1996), Bruce Reynolds (1997), Bill Reynolds (1998) and Paul Carlucci (1999).
According to the Sullivan County Democrat’s publisher emeritus, he introduced his son to the world of ink at a young age.
“I used to get him down there when he was about 10 or 12 years old,” recalled Fred Stabbert, Jr. “I had him running the press and assembling booklets. He did whatever we had to do.
“I’m very, very proud of him as a businessperson and as a son,” he added. “I just couldn’t ask for anything more.”

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