By Fred Stabbert III
CALLICOON May 8, 2001 It was Sullivan County hospitality at its finest, as more than 350 people packed into The Club at Villa Roma on Sunday afternoon for the Sullivan County Chambers 10th Annual Pride Awards Breakfast.
And what better way to serve up Catskill hospitality than by honoring Helen Kutsher, the matriarch of Kutshers Country Club in Monticello, and a true community leader in every sense of the word.
And while Kutsher was receiving the Businessperson of the Year award for her outstanding efforts in building one of Sullivan Countys most respected resorts, Sandra Gerry received accolades for Distinguished Service and Robert Rosen for Distinguished Achievement.
This years awards presentations were a celebration of many years of hard work by all the award winners.
Helen is the epitome of a real hotelier, Jacquie Leventoff, executive director of the chamber, said. She started working at Kutshers in 1946 and said she would give it just one more year. That was 55 years ago.
Although Helen lost her beloved husband Milton several years ago, she said, My children and my grandchildren are the strength behind me. I have three wonderful children.
And even as Helen remembered the heydey of resorts with those assembled, she looked to the future, saying she could only see a new future for the county she has embraced for so many years.
In accepting her Service Award, Sandra Gerry was praised for her foresight and direction in helping to start Sullivan Rennaissance, a county-wide contest to beautify Sullivan County.
Gerrys contributions to Sullivan County Community College and Community General Hospital were also recognized.
Gerry noted, There are many, many friends who have been enlisted to make this all possible. The other person is Alan Gerry, who has made sure we carried through on what we started. Thank you, thank you.
Monticello attorney Robert Rosen has overcome many battles in the courtroom and is a well-respected attorney throughout the area.
But Sunday, the focus was not only on Rosens professional achievements, but his personal triumphs and contributions to many organizations.
I would not have accomplished all that the award stands for and survived the past year without the strength and support of my wife, to whom I am eternally grateful, Rosen said. Nathana and I were born and raised in Sullivan County, as were our three sons. Sullivan County has been very good to us. We made it here. To say that it might have been easier elsewhere can be characterized as somewhat of an understatement.
Sullivan County is a wonderful place to live and raise a family, he said. It is truly unfortunate that our county has suffered setbacks and misfortune. However, it is up to you, the members of the chamber, as well as each of us to restore this magnificent county to the level of prominence it previously enjoyed.
We must appreciate the efforts of people who dream for themselves and a better Sullivan County, Rosen said. We must pledge them our support.
For a decade, the Sullivan County Chamber has been presenting its Pride Awards, highlighting the positive contributions that local businesses, elected officials and area residents are making to the area.
This year was no exception. Candidates from each of Sullivans 15 townships were also honored for achievements ranging from building a town historical museum to starting up a new business to helping revitalize a village main street.
Winners from their respective towns were:
Bethel: Christina Bilick for opening a new boutique called Simply Irresistible.
Callicoon: Frank Haskell for his volunteers efforts in getting a clock for the village of Jeffersonville.
Cochecton: Bruce Meyer for his years of service to the Lake Huntington community and his longtime business, Gasko & Meyer.
Delaware: Leota Lee Hermann for more than 350 years of combined service in a myriad of organizations, ranging from V.F.W. Ladies Auxiliary to Delaware Valley Senior Citizens tothe United Methodist Church of Callicoon.
Fallsburg: Rolling V Bus Company for its many interests in the communities it serves, and owner Phil Vallone, a dedicated community volunteer.
Forestburgh: Town Clerk Evelyn Parks was honored for, among other things, establishing the very first town hall in her town. With more than 28 years of town clerk experience, Parks also celebrated her birthday at Sundays gala and received a harmonious rendition of Happy Birthday led by Chamber President Scott Samuelson.
Fremont: Longtime resident Michael LeRoy was honored for his business achievements as well as his strong community involvement with the Hankins-Fremont Center F.D. and St. Marys Church in Obernburg.
Liberty: Village Properties, LLC, has been a stirring force in the village of Liberty, refurbishing several business storefronts to provide opportunities for new businesses to open. Its owners, Norman and Kaye Kern, were recognized for this contribution to Sullivan Countys revitalization movement.
Lumberland: Frank Schwarz has been town historian since 1985, established a town museum room in 1990 and is credited with restoring the towns Steinway piano.
n Mamakating: Melissa Lanza, owner of Century 21 Lanza Realty in Wurtsboro, accepted her award in memory of Lymon Holmes Sr., who passed away on Saturday, May 5. Lanza, a community activist with the Wurtsboro Street Fair and Roosa Gap Run, purchased the business 3 1/2 years ago.
Neversink: Phil Coombe Jr. is a third generation farmer who now partners with his brother Dick to raise beef cattle, corn and hay, among other crops.
Not always a full-time farmer, Phil worked for 37 years with the New York Department of Corrections, eventually rising to the rank of commissioner.
Phils list of community accomplishments is a lengthy one indeed, ranging from the Daniel Pierce Library to the Grahamsville Fair to Sullivan First and beyond.
Sundays award ceremony saw many of Phils family in attendance as well as a host of town supporters.
Following the event, Phil smiled, put the wooden plaque under his arm and said, Now its off to put in a few more hours on the farm.
Rockland: Manor 2000 Corp. is a low-key group of community activists who are working to revitalize the hamlet of Livingston Manor. Their accomplishments will soon include the opening of the Hoos Building for commercial use and some as-yet-undisclosed business ideas.
Thompson: Michael and Vincent Dollard are brothers and partners in the Fitness Factory, a full-service gym on Route 42 South in Monticello.
Both Monticello High School grads, the brother duo have led an active life in their communities, and their business continues to offer the area a first-class place to get in shape.
Tusten: Laurie Stuart, long-time publisher of the weekly newspaper, The River Reporter, in Narrowsburg, not only brought much of her staff with her to accept the award but her mother as well.
The River Reporter is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a new home (93 Erie Street, Narrowsburg) and plans for future expansion.