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STATE SENATOR JOHN Bonacic, at podium, is surrounded by government officials in Monticello announcing the start of a new countywide beautification program – simply called “BIG.”

BIG? You Bet

By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO — March 28, 2003 – A $100,000 grant from New York State Senator John Bonacic and the related cleanup of more than 100 cars from a Smallwood auto repair shop has evidently inspired county legislators.
On Thursday, March 20, the Sullivan County Legislature passed a resolution creating the Beautification Initiative Grant (BIG).
The BIG Program is an offshoot of the county’s Main Street Redevelopment Program and mainly concerns enhancing the aesthetic appearance of the county’s transportation corridors. For the program, the Legislature allocated funding of $25,000.
A press conference was held Wednesday, March 26, to officially announce the program. Bonacic came down to the Government Center Lobby in Monticello to detail it and was joined by the majority of the Legislature and other local government officials.
“We make these efforts together,” Bonacic commented. “I am pleased and excited to be a part of this. We can bring this to another level. We want people who live here to enjoy it more. We want those that visit to come back again and again.”
“It is a pleasure to work with John. He has done so much for the county,” remarked Sullivan County Legislature Chair Leni Binder. “We hope the more we make it attractive, the more the county will grow. We will be working with local businesses, the Chamber of Commerce, the Visitors Association, and the towns.”
“The best thing to happen to Sullivan County in years is the election of John Bonacic,” stated Legislature Vice Chair Bob Kunis. “He does not live here. Yet he treats Sullivan County like it was home. We will clean up our house. We will welcome new people. We want people to visit and come back.”
The grants will be 50/50 matching, up to $7,500. The $250,000 in state funding for the program (to which the county is contributing $25,000) is matched by a $250,000 in-kind county landfill tipping fee grant. The types of projects will include improvements to unsafe buildings, enhanced signage and informational kiosks, and building renovation and restoration. Bonacic also announced an additional $750,000 for the Fire Training Center. This goes along with $400,000 he secured last year.
“We want the center to be a reality for our heroes,” Bonacic said. “We all have to have a partnership to make this happen.”
“As we have seen with 9/11, the fire department is the first line of defense,” commented Sullivan County Fire Advisory Board Chair Paul Hemmer. “I want to thank John, the Legislature, and the DPW. It is becoming a reality. I am looking forward to it.”
As the conference ended, Bonacic left with some complimentary words for the Legislature:
“These are tough economic times. Most governments would do nothing and wait it out. Not this group. They voted bipartisan and unanimous for the beautification. Petty politics were set aside. The job is just beginning. It is a work in progress. Great things happen when they work together. It is the right thing to do.”

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