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Dan Hust | Democrat

THE TEAM CALLED Monticello Finest lived up to its name on Saturday, distinguishing itself at the Community Day Block Party in a 3-on-3 basketball tournament held behind the Ted Stroebele Rec. Center in Monticello.

Music, food & fun

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — July 27, 2007 — The thumping beat of DJ Shaka-T’s speakers reverberated throughout Monticello Saturday.
And so did the effects of the Black and Latino Democratic Committee of Sullivan County’s first annual Community Day Block Party.
Spending an afternoon behind the Ted Stroebele Recreation Center Saturday turned out to be a community-oriented affair, joining residents together in a non-political, joyous party.
Greatly affecting the atmosphere was the dance troupe provided by NIANCE Dance Theatre of Liberty. Under the watch of Executive Theatre Director Geraldine Ross and Choreographer Shaun Ross, 13 talented young people demonstrated their flexibility through hip-hop, ballet and tap-dancing performances.
The local chapter of the NAACP and toy seller Picziana Fuentes set up tables surrounding the dance area, along with Chanel Turnquest, a licensed Realtor with Prudential Peters Realty in Monticello.
“It’s very nice,” she said with a smile under a bright blue sky. “I’ve met a lot of new people.”
Co-organizer Thelma McIver took that as a sign of success.
“We’re trying to let the community know that we’re here,” she explained.
“Today we’re not a political entity,” she said of the Black and Latino Democratic Committee, which co-sponsored the event with WJFF and the NAACP. “We’re a part of Sullivan County, and we’re also taxpayers. To have a voice, we have to get out in the community.”
To that end, organizers are looking to move the block party to different locations in future years, exposing more and more people to the idea that community is important.
“The more people who hear about it, the more people will come,” said Elaine Williams, who heads the local chapter of the NAACP. “The more, the merrier!”
And merriment was what Saturday was all about. While local residents like Edwin Perez and Eric Monroe cooked up some sizzling burgers and hot dogs with panache, other volunteers like Henry Belser refereed a 3-on-3 basketball tournament at the neighboring courts.
Scores of young people played or watched the games, with the team Monticello Finest winning, consisting of players Brian Brown, Dior Jackson, Devon Mathis, Mike Norman and Tyrus Walker.
The fact that teens were attracted to the event was not lost on organizers.
“We want to join forces with the committee for another community event,” acknowledged Williams. “I hope this becomes an annual one.”
In the meantime, she said the NAACP is planning a Back to School, Stay in School rally at Monticello, with trivia, prizes and motivational speeches. (The date is being finalized and will be publicized when released.)
For more information on the NAACP, contact Williams at 794-3251, and for the Black and Latino Democratic Committee, call Sandy Oxford at 434-6748 or Eric Monroe at 482-9046.

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