The guest speaker at our Nov. 29th meeting was Tony Poli from the Sullivan County ATV Association, a non-profit organization that holds ATV (4-Wheeler) trail run fundraising events twice a year throughout the woods of Sullivan County. The proceeds from their events benefit families with children with special needs.
Mr. Poli gave a very interesting account of how the Sullivan County ATV Association and its fundraising events started in 1999 at Mr. Willys restaurant with about 90 participants. It was so successful that people asked if it could be held again on an annual basis. The ATV trail Poker Run event has remained very popular over the years and is now held twice a year. Although the attendance at the events has dropped recently from its peak of over 700, the ATV trail events still draws 300 – 400 people. The Sullivan County ATV Association has given out over $240,000 to children with disabilities since it started.
Mr. Poli tried to explain how difficult it is to hold the ATV trail run events. “It’s a lot of hard work”, he said. New York State does not provide any places to use ATVs, so private owners are asked for the use of their properties. Tony is involved with contacting property owners for permission to go through their land, setting up contracts where necessary, clearing and cleaning the trails, as well as putting up and removing the signage along the trails for the events. He said that they’ve gotten pretty good at running the things, but most of all, he loves being out in the woods of Sullivan County. People come from all over the United States to participate in the ATV trail events.
Mr. Poli said that he wished more people in Sullivan County would realize what a wonderful and beautiful place they live in.
Angela Dutcher, Executive Director of the Literacy Volunteers of Sullivan County, was the guest speaker at our November 1st meeting. Ms. Dutcher has spoken at our club before and our club is a long-time supporter of her organization. She began her presentation by announcing that the Literacy Volunteers has embarked on a program to work with Ideal Snacks, a major employer in our area, to improve the literacy levels of their employees. The Literacy Volunteers is willing to work with any employer who wants assistance with tutoring ESL employees.
The Literacy Volunteers also has a program that helps Monticello High School student dropouts earn their GEDs. The graduation rate of Monticello high school is only 77%. Being a high school dropout is no guarantee of failure. Ms. Dutcher herself was a high school dropout, but she went and got her GED and then went on to college to get her degree.
The Literacy Volunteers works very closely with B.O.C.E.S. They are often called upon to help tutor B.O.C.E.S. students who are having difficulty with reading.
Most shocking is the continued high rate of illiteracy in Sullivan County and more specifically in the village of Monticello. The link between illiteracy and continued poverty is clear. Ms. Dutcher read a series of statistics that supported her statements. The median income for per capita in Sullivan County from 2010 – 2014 was approximately $25,000. In the village of Monticello is was $18,000.
The coming of the Casino to our area highlights the need to have a more literate workforce and people capable of being trained to do the jobs that will be available. Ms. Dutcher fears that many people in our area won't be qualified enough to get the jobs due to poor reading skills and a lack of education. She cited a similar circumstance that occurred when Walmart first came to our area.
The bottom line is that the Literacy Volunteers is a volunteer organization that wants to help people who want to learn to read in order to better themselves and create opportunities for a better life. The problem is... They desperately need volunteer tutors to help with their programs. Ms. Dutcher said that she could hold GED and ESL classes every day of the week, but she doesn't have enough volunteer tutors. Tutors are needed one to two days a week for 2 hours, to tutor a student. Tutor training is much easier now because the training is done online at the Literacy New York website, at your own convenience... and it's free.
During the discussion/Q & A period of the presentation president John Greenbaum suggested that perhaps senior citizens with time on their hands could be a source of tutors. Ms. Dutcher agreed and thanked him for the suggestion.
If you know anyone willing to become a tutor for the Literacy Volunteers of Sullivan County, please contact Ms. Dutcher at 845 -794-0017.. Please help.
District Governor Louis Turpin and Assistant District Governor Amador Laput visited our club on October 25, 2016.
AG Laput introduced the District Governor who is a retired architect and a very involved Rotarian. DG Turpin is the "Shelter Box" program's representative to Rotary, he is on numerous boards, and he works with Nobel Prize Peace Laureates. DG Turpin began by saying he was in our shoes not too long ago with regard to the District. “I had no idea who the District was.”, he said. He has since found out. The district consists of people who are there to support Rotary clubs with service projects they do in their local communities and the world community.
“Rotary is an amazing organization” DG Turpin said, “and we should all be very proud of the way we serve humanity”. Many other organizations focus on a single aspect of service. Rotary doesn't do that. Rotary has six official areas of focus for how we serve humanity. Those areas are: Fighting diseases (the Polio-Plus program), Maternal and Child Health, Fresh Water and Sanitation, Education and Literacy, Economic Development throughout the developing world, and finally Peace and Conflict Resolution. Rotary was instrumental in helping form the United Nations. Rotary sees a need and figures a way to solve it.
DG Turpin said that he was aware of our club and the great things we do in community. He then challenged our club to step back and take a look at how we could take on new service projects that would benefit not only our local communities, but also benefit the world.
DG Turpin spoke about the word team. The word TEAM means: Together Everyone Achieves More. Great things can be achieved working with the District and our club leadership.
Shelter Box is a program that was started a Rotary Club service project. Shelter Box is an international relief organization that provides a box that contains shelter and other supplies to provide hope and dignity to the families who have lost everything during a disaster. Most recently, shelter boxes were in Haiti even before the latest hurricane arrived.
DG Turpin handed out a brochure which listed the District leadership team and the District goals for the coming year. The main goal of the District is for each club to have a “Hands-on” service project does “good” whether in the local community or abroad. A visible service project is one way attract the attention of your community and let them know what Rotary is about. A visible service project is also a way of attracting new members.
This year's District theme is “Do Good Have Fun We are Rotary” which is a good way to quickly describe what Rotary does.
Our guest speaker at the October 18th meeting, Truth Muller, gave an informative and extremely entertaining presentation on the subject of “Bats”. Mr. Muller, a high school senior, showed an incredible breadth of knowledge about his subject, along with excellent public speaking skills that held our attention for nearly an hour.
Truth began his presentation by asking everyone how they felt about bats, whether they liked or disliked bats. There seemed to be about a 50/50 split among the members. He then went on to describe some of the usual myths surrounding bats, the most common being that they drink your blood. There are a variety of vampire bats that live in Mexico and South America that prey on livestock by making a small cut and then lapping up the blood. They don't attack humans.
The Monticello Rotary Club gave out nearly $8,000 in scholarships to students from Monticello Central Schools and Fallsburg School Districts last night!
Congratulations to all the students and their families!
The Forestburgh Playhouse operates during the summers only, from mid-June through Labor Day, and offers 3 different types of performance experiences: Broadway musicals and plays on the main stage, a youth theatre production performed at 11 AM on Thursdays and Saturdays, and musical cabaret performances presented with dinner in the adjoining Forestburgh Tavern during the week and a late-night cabaret Friday and Saturday after every evening performance.
Sullivan County District Attorney Jim Farrell was the guest speaker at our May 3rd meeting. He began his presentation by speaking about the value of not underestimating the education you can receive at a Community college. He spoke about his years at Dutchess Community College and the teacher who sparked him to go on to become a lawyer. Members of our club spoke about the great education they received at Sullivan County Community College before moving on to four year schools. D.A. Farrell graduated from law school and had a law practice in Vermont before becoming an assistant district attorney for thirteen years in the office of former D.A. Steve Lundgen. He has been the county D.A. since he was elected in 2009. D.A. Farrell said that there are a lot of parallels between Vermont and it's beauty as a state and Sullivan County.
Drugs in our county: “The heroine epidemic and the addiction to opiates and pain killers is not unique to our county”, D.A. Farrell said. It is a crisis that the entire nation is undergoing. The problem has it's roots in the over-prescribing of new powerful pain killers by doctors since the late nineties. People with minor medical problems became addicted to pain killers, and in many cases, eventually moved on to heroine.
New York State has a new system that makes it harder to steal prescriptions and get access to these drugs.S
D.A. Farrell spoke about what his office is doing. Their stategy is a three-pronged attack:
- Enforcement - Local and state law enforcement agencies conducted several major drug sweeps over the past year. They targeted people involved in drug related activities which are usually associated with gang activity and it's related violence.
- Education - D.A. Farrell goes into the local schools to speak and to educate our young about the dangers of pain killers and other related drugs.
- Get people to treatment - “You can force people to get help”, D.A. Farrell said, and it works. It is curable
We must give people hope. The Catholic Charities has taken over the operation of the Recovery Center. That agency is doing a better job at getting people the help they need.
D.A. Farrell said, “We see and hear a lot of bad things about our county, it's nice to visit a group like Rotary where you can hear the good stuff”.
"We are working on the problem. We will continue to work on the problem. There are no silver linings" said D.A Farrell.
There was a lengthy question and answer period. D.A Farrell received a loud round of applause for his presentation.
Ellen Reinhard, Director and Lori Rotolo, Community Engagement person for the “Tobacco Free Action Communities in Ulster, Dutchess and Sullivan Counties” were the guest speakers at our April 12th meeting.
Ellen and Lori used a Powerpoint® presentation to outline the goals of the TFAC which are to, reduce the danger of indoor and outdoor second-hand smoke and to discourage youth from ever starting to smoke.
The following is an excerpt from their website:
Tobacco Free Action Communities in Ulster, Dutchess and Sullivan (formerly SmokeFree Dutchess and Tobacco Free Action Coalition of Ulster) is part of a network of statewide partners working to support New York State's tobacco-free goal. Each partner consists of a community engagement component and a youth action component (branded as Reality Check). Partners work to:
Reduce the negative impact of tobacco product marketing and price promotions on youth and adults at the point of sale.
Increase the number of local laws and voluntary policies that prohibit tobacco use in outdoor areas.
Decrease secondhand smoke exposure in multi-unit housing, with an emphasis on policies that protect the health of low-income residents.
Promote policies that reduce tobacco use imagery in youth-rated movies, and on the Internet and social media.
Ellen and Lori were able to go into more detail during the question and answer period of the presentation.
Angela Dutcher, Executive Director of Literacy Volunteers of Sullivan County (“LV”), discussed the organization’s mission, programs, and operations. LV is twenty-three years old, and its goal is to teach literacy, basic math, and English as a second language to adults. The organization uses tutors and software programs to instruct its clients.
As part of its fundraising efforts, LV, accepts book donations. In turn, the donated books are available for sale to the public at LV’s two bookstores, which are located in Monticello and Bethel. LV is seeking:
- Volunteers in Bethel to expand the store’s hours of operations.
- Tutors to teach reading skills—a six session training program starts on April 6th to train prospective tutors.
- Donations of language and reading software and computers.
If you are interested in donating books, computers, software or volunteering, please contact LV at (845) 794-0017, or at http://www.literacysullivan.org.
On march 29, 2016 we had the pleasure of a presentation from the The Monticello High School Academy of Finance, which included Advisor Susan Bahrenburg and three seniors Ryan Katz & Cammeron Depuy Co-Treasures and Jaclyn Sorensen, co president
The Monticello High School Academy of Finance (AOF) is now a four-year program. Students are now able to take classes in their freshman year. Students are selected through an application process: Teacher and guidance counselor recommendations are required. Grades, attendance and discipline records will be checked. Eleventh and Twelfth grade students can take College level Accounting.
This program is a member program of the National Academy Foundation, which was founded in New York City by a partnership of schools and the financial services industry. There are over 600 Academy programs in the United States.
The Academy works with local businesses and both education and government leaders to design and offer financial education opportunities for Monticello High School students. This includes a comprehensive summer internship program.
The students have been helping community members complete their taxes for free. They have helped over 120 people so far with 3 weeks still to come.
At the end of 11th grade students are set up with a summer internship where they learn about many aspects of the business they are interning with.
This year the AOF students will host the inaugural community wide My School Color Run on Sunday, May 22, from 8:45 a.m. – 1 p.m, to help raise money for AOF scholarship funds.
My School Color Run is an untimed 5-kilometer fun run for all ages that ends in a joyous blast of color. Participants will receive a t-shirt, sunglasses, a color pack and admittance to the after-party.Along the route, groups of students will be showering participants with colored powder at four checkpoints, making it a “colorful experience.” The color will wash off easily and will not stain clothes. The color is created from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved food dye (red, blue, yellow, and green), mixed with water and sprayed through a 1-gallon sprayer.
Additionally, each participant will be provided with a single powder color packet that will be thrown in the air at the final color celebration at the end of the finish line. This color, also approved by the FDA, is made from food grade cornstarch. Participants with asthma or ‘dust’ allergies should remain away from the powder area. Sunglasses will be provided to all participants and must be worn during the run.
Following the run, participants are encouraged to stay for the AOF’s Color Celebration Barbecue which will feature a live DJ, refreshments and several vendor booths. For more information contact Rebecca Bass or Jaclynn Sorensen at Monticelloaof@gmail.com
Julie Dreher, Marketing Outreach Coordinator for the Sullivan County Adult Care Center, was our guest speaker at the March 15th meeting.
Ms Dreher began by showing a narrated Powerpoint® slide presentation about the history of the Sullivan County Adult Care Center. Sullivan County has a long history of caring for it's residents. A new chapter in that history began in 1955 with the acquistion of the former “Workman's Circle Sanitarium”. Sullivan County purchased the property for $170,000 and invested an additional $403,000 in a major restoration of the Workman's Circle building. The building reopened in 1957 as the Sullivan County Home and Infirmary. The new home was welcomed by the community which saw the benefit of having a county facility dedicated to caring for the needs of it's elderly and chronically ill. The home became an integral part of the community and for many years was referred to as simply, “The Infirmary”. The facility built a reputation for quality care in a homelike atmosphere.
Duke Devlin, local legend of “Woodstock” fame and long-time Bethel Woods tour guide, was our guest speaker at the March 8th meeting. He gave us some interesting background on how he arrived in Sullivan County as a hippie in 1969 for the Woodstock festival and never left. His presentation was filled with humorous anecdotes.
Under Sheriff Eric Chaboty (middle) was the guest speaker at our February 16th meeting. Sheriff Mike Schiff (left) also attended the meeting. Chaboty began his presentation by thanking our Rotary club for our generous donations over the years to the D.A.R.E. program. He went on to give an overview of the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office.
With the use of a projector and Powerpoint© presentation, Undersheriff Chaboty carefully traced the historical origins of the office of “Sheriff” which began over 1,000 years ago around the time of the Magna Carta. Geo-political subdivisions in nations were forming and in England 10 families together would be called a “Tun”, which evolved into the word “Town”. Ten “Tuns” would form a Shire (which is a County in England). The “Reeve” was the King's man. He was the representative in the Shire, the protector, and the tax collector. The Reeve was involved with arresting criminals and keeping the peace. Eventually the words Shire and Reeve evolved into Shire-Reeve or Sheriff. The concept of the office of sheriff came with the settlers to the new world. The first Sheriff in America is believed to have been Captain William Stone, appointed in 1634 in the Shire of North Hampton in the colony of Virginia.
The office of sheriff went on to become intertwined with American culture as the American frontier expanded west. In New York State the office of sheriff derives it's authority from several parts of our laws - the New York State Constitution, the New York State County Law, and the General Municipal Law. In all but a few counties and New York City, all county sheriffs are elected. The sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer in the county.
Our county sheriff's office was founded in 1809, the same year as Sullivan County. There have been 46 sheriffs since the county was founded. The current sheriff, Mike Schiff, was elected in 2005. Unlike other law enforcement agencies, the Sheriff answers directly to the people. He must be elected to office and can be replaced after his 4 year term is up if the people are not happy with him.
Within the Sullivan County Sheriff's office there is a Jail Division, a Civil Division, a Patrol Division, and a Security Division. Undersheriff Chaboty went on to outline, in detail, what each division does and he answered numerous questions put to him by members at the meeting. His enlightening presentation was well received.
Data on the server is protected by TCP/IP filtering, firewall and anti-virus software that protect against any unauthorized intrusion. Backups of data are made daily and stored off-site.