By Matt Youngfrau
SULLIVAN COUNTY January 30, 2001 - About 150 people attended Sullivan First's Winter Forum at Sullivan County Community College on Saturday, January 20. Most were there for the introduction of a new beautification program, Sullivan Renaissance, an outgrowth of Sullivan First.
One person in attendance saw things slightly different. He feels that, while it is a good program, Sullivan Renaissance simply is not enough. To really clean up the county, he says, it would take a great deal more than those assembled in the Seelig Theater. It would take a challenge.
Thus, in the mind of John J. Bill Sipos, the Unification of Sullivan County Project was born.
I am making a challenge to all the people of Sullivan County, Sipos told the Democrat in an exclusive interview on Friday. To make Sullivan First even more successful, I challenge all people to join in their efforts. Lets make it successful and build on the core group [of volunteers already involved].
While Sipos, the supervisor of the Town of Forestburgh and owner of Mr. Willys Restaurant in Monticello, praised Sullivan First for their efforts over the last five years, he believes more has to be done that a small handful of people in the county cannot do all the work. Everyone that lives here, according to Sipos, needs to do their part.
It is like a little ambassador program, Sipos stated. We need to create pride and spirit in our communities. I challenge people to be a visitor in the community they live in. They should see this area the way visitors see this area.
Sipos went on to say that he believes this viewpoint will make people feel good about the area and each other. He wants to see everyone from fraternal organizations to fire companies to town and village governments to the county legislature kick in and help out.
While Sipos is involved in several organizations throughout the county, he is quick to point out that, in this venture, he is only representing himself. However, he would like to see a liaison board created to more strongly enforce building codes. It is an effort that quite a few people in the county have been discussing for many years. (Most recently, Legislady Leni Binder brought up this issue at a forum on January 25.) Sipos said that this board could streamline the process.
We cannot burden our governments anymore than they already are, Sipos remarked. We should ask our schools to train our youth. It will give our youth a work ethic and community pride. It will give children a sense that they want to stay in this area.
Eventually, Sipos thinks that all will be proud of the new community they create. He feels it will completely round out the efforts of Sullivan First.
As the project title suggests, unity is the key to the program.
Lets do our own because we live here, Sipos said. There is no quick fix. We are in this together, and we can make it work. We can build upon what we have.
Sipos is eager to talk to all who are interested in joining his Unification of Sullivan County Project. For those wishing to contact Sipos, he requests that he be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.