By Dan Hust
FERNDALE February 14, 2006 NYS Senator John Bonacic showed up with an oversized $75,000 check at the CVI Building in Ferndale Saturday.
Presenting it to Sullivan Renaissance founder Sandra Gerry, he told the crowd inside the buildings darkened auditorium that the check represented the State Senates contribution to the expanding Renaissance program.
Youve brought pride back to Sullivan County, he said to the audience full of Renaissance participants gathered for the kickoff of the 06 program.
Then came Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, who had no oversized check to dramatically illustrate the Assemblys involvement.
I brought my IOU for $50,000, she quipped to the good-natured laughter of the crowd.
But that $50,000 has become a cherished Gunther tradition at Sullivan Renaissance by August, it will become the annual Golden Feather Award, handed out to the largest and best Renaissance effort of the year. Thanks to Aileen and her late husband Jake, it has turned into Renaissances equivalent of the Best Picture Oscar.
Saturdays event in Ferndale, called the Winter Forum, served other purposes as well.
In addition to an expo featuring merchants involved in construction, landscaping and art, the forum detailed the 06 program, offered classes on items ranging from youth involvement to project planning and presented the Sullivan First Achievement Awards.
Sullivan First merged with Renaissance last year, and so the awards ceremony it started 10 years ago was incorporated into Saturdays forum.
Many of those so honored have little to do with Renaissance, which organizers said was part of the point, since Renaissance programs have their own awards ceremony later in the year.
Ruth Jones, owner of Kittattinny Canoes in Dingmans Ferry, Pa., for her and Kittattinnys efforts to clean up the Delaware River, including much of the river and shoreline along southern Sullivan Countys border.
Kathy Scullion, an instructional assistant with the Science Alliance at Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake (and a hiker who successfully completed the entire Appalachian Trail), for her promotion of environmental stewardship.
Tom Edwards of White Sulphur Springs for the creation of the Veterans Memorial in his hometown.
The Irwin Siegel Agency in Rock Hill for ongoing landscaping efforts.
The Cutting Garden in Youngsville for revitalizing both their building and many peoples gardens with fresh flowers.
Gusars Pharmacy in Monticello for leading the way in facade improvement along Broadway.
The Bradstan Country Hotel in White Lake for keeping their business looking good since its creation in 1991.
Trout Unlimited for efforts to preserve and enhance the ecological health of the Delaware River.
Woodridges Renaissance chapter earned special mention because of organizers tireless efforts to transform downtown Woodridge into a garden spot for all to enjoy.
Sandra Gerry told the crowd that this year, Renaissances theme is Its Show Time!
Companys coming this summer lots of company, she explained, referring to her husband Alans multi-million-dollar Bethel Woods Center for the Arts slated to open this July at the Woodstock festival site in Bethel.
Keynote speaker and County Clerk George Cooke felt confident Sullivan County would be ready, thanks to the very people in that auditorium Saturday.
What this county needs, you have, he remarked. You cannot bottle it. You cannot sell it.
What Im referring to is your enthusiasm.
And based on the turnout and applause, Cooke seemed right on the money.
For more information on Sullivan Renaissance, call 295-2445, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.sullivanrenaissance.org.