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.
The New York state has a new system that makes it harder to steal prescriptions and get access to these drugs.
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.
Guest speaker at our February 9th meeting,Town of Bethel Supervisor Dan Sturm, began his talk for the evening by giving a little background about himself. He is a long-time resident of Sullivan County, a graduate of Monticello high school, "Class of 1981". He attended Sullivan County Community College and then went on to graduate from SUNY New Paltz with a political science degree. Dan said that he's one of the few people who actually used their political science degree. He went from being a town board member for four years, on to becoming the town supervisor. Dan's been the (T) Bethel Supervisor since 2008. Being supervisor is not an easy task, but he's worked with some extraordinary board members over the years and “things are going very well right now in the town of Bethel", Dan said. He's been president of the Association of Supervisors of Sullivan County since 2009 and has had the privilege of working with some great supervisors over the years.
Dan outlined some of the exciting things that are happening in the Town of Bethel.
Mysteryland is coming back again this year, June 10th – 13th. It is slated to be bigger and better than last year - with an expected attendance of over 20,000 people. The event will be open from Friday to Sunday. For the first time, nineteen and twenty year olds will be allowed into the event. Dan emphasized that everything will be closely monitored.
There are a lot of new homes in Bethel and people are also fixing up what they already have.
A new Dunkin Donuts has opened.
A Dollar General store has opened during the past year.
There are plans for a new Pharmacy in Bethel.
Dan said that Sullivan County is now facing many changes due to the coming of the Casino. He is expecting a lot of great things and the (T) Bethel is preparing for the changes so that it can capitalize on it. The (T) Bethel is working with the Sullivan Rennaisance to improve the appearance of the area. “We're going to make the 17B/55 corridor as nice as it can possibly look, so that when people come here they like what they see”. Bethel is investing in it's landscaping, welcome areas, and parks.
A new initiative for this year is “Healthy Communities”. Programs are in the works to help the overall health of the county and it starts at the town level. (T) Bethel has a new walking program (4 times a month) that encourages seniors as well as kids and their families to come out and walk at the old Dugan School bldg. They're bringing back the Kauneonga Lake farmers market on Thursday nights at the pavilion. (It used to be a very busy market).
Dan talked about how hard it is to run a town and manage the money with all the budget constraints, but he repeated that he works with a great staff and they get the job done.
Town of Wallkill Supervisor Dan Depew was the guest speaker for the evening at our January 12th meeting. He was a very dynamic speaker with a clear vision of what he has done and what he plans to do for the Town of Wallkill. Mr. Depew described the Town of Wallkill as sort of the Epcot Center of Orange County. It is unlike many municipalities around the state because there are towns and villages within the municipality that don't bear the Town of Wallkill name, but they bear the name of their own Volunteer Fire company (which there are 7) or their school districts – which there are 5, and it has 6 postal zipcodes. He said that it is hard to describe where you are and also very hard to get the various towns and villages to unite on any issue. Dan emphasized that he feels town government is very important. He is a graduate of New Paltz with a degree in International Relations and Political Science and he went on to join the legislature at a very young age. Dan is now in his third term as Supervisor for the Town of Wallkill.
Dan gave us a very detailed talk on how he inherited a township in deep financial trouble and how through a "total revolution in town government" - a new town board of Democrats and Republicans working together with him and using careful fiscal responsibility - brought the Town of Wallkill back to financial stability and now they have a budget surplus. He feels strongly that people being elected to town governments should have some business background and training in public relations in order to better understand how to manage their communities.
Mr. Depew made many in the Town of Wallkill very angry when he supported the idea that it made more sense for Sullivan County to get the Casino. But he said he didn't care because it was the right thing to do. Doing things because it's the right thing to do seemed to be the recurring theme of his talk. Dan was very well received by the members and received a long round of applause.
Steve White, CEO of the Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency, was the guest speaker at our January 5th meeting. He began by saying that it seems ironic that he ran the Federation for the Homeless for many years before taking over the leadership of the IDA. It gives him a unique perspective and he has brought “compassion” to the IDA.
Steve described the IDA as an “Economic Engine” that gives tax abatements to attract businesses to our area to enhance the economic growth of our area. He hinted that there are many new businesses coming to our area now that the license for the Casino has been granted. More new jobs will be created. The casino is just one important component in the opportunity to revitalize the economic health of Sullivan County. The other businesses that come as a result of the casino will really be the source of a renewed economy.
Steve talked about some of the IDA's past successes and some of the failures. One of the major myths he wanted to clear up is that people think that when a new IDA project comes into the county they don't pay any taxes. “That is just not true”, Steve said. Whatever the taxes are on the existing piece of property, “they must be paid”. The abatement goes forward from there. Also, a project does not move forward unless all the administrations around the county are in agreement.
In the past the IDA would go out and try to entice businesses to come to our area. Now, because of the casino, businesses are calling and expressing interest in relocating in Sullivan County. The IDA works closely with the Sullivan County Partnership and funds some of their programs.
Steve faced a very intense question and answer period during his presentation. Some members were very vocal about their disappointment with the IDA and some of it's past decisions.
After all is said and done - The main goal of the IDA is to attract new businesses to our area which will create new jobs and increase the tax base. Perhaps this will ultimately lead to the rebirth of our beautiful county.
Judge Finn and the Dream Tank
Many members from our Rotary club and their spouses enjoyed a wonderful dinner and an evening filled with the holiday spirit at our Annual Holiday Party on Tuesday December 18th. Each Rotarian brought a gift (toy, clothing, etc.) to be given to the United Way and the SNU at Catskill Regional Medical Center to be distributed to the needy in our community during this holiday season.
This past week's meeting was an exceptional meeting. It was an evening filled with laughter, learning and good fellowship. Long-time friend and current District Governor Nick Constantino visited our club and gave an informative presentation on “Membership”. He gave us great ideas on ways to improve membership. The key phrase for the evening was “Just Ask!" (For more information see the December 8th Montigram in the "Home Page Download Files" section of this webpage.)
The November 24th meeting was very special. It was an event held at Bernie's Holiday Restaurant in Rock Hill intended to bring us up to date with latest information about the Casino project. Rotarian Les Kristt put the event together.
Les Kristt gave an impressive and enthusiastic introduction about his guest and key note speaker for the evening, Executive Vice President of Empire Resorts, Charlie Degliomini. "Charlie is here to help the local businesses, the local economy, and get a successful casino and waterpark established as a permanent part of the Sullivan County landscape...", said Les Kristt.
Mr. Degliomini expressed his thanks for being invited to speak. He began by saying that he wanted to give us an idea of where we were, where we are now, and where we're going in the future with the whole casino project. "It's a complicated project with a lot of moving pieces", he said. And his goal for the evening was to explain things so we could get a better understanding of what is going on.
Although the gambling license has not yet been issued, a lot of money has been invested in the preparation of the casino entrance road and the initial site development. We were shown a fly-over video of the work so far and it was easy to see that much has been done.
Mr. Degliomini emphasized that once the gambling license is issued, which according to the gaming commission will be issued by the end of the year, the casino has 24 months to be built and be up and running or there will be huge financial penalties from the state. Even though Sullivan County has been disappointed in the past when it comes to really getting a casino, "This time it's going to happen", he said.
Sullivan County will have a destination resort complex consisting of a casino, hotel, waterpark, and an improved Monster golf course.
The current administration amended the constitution to allow casino gambling in 4 areas of New York State.
A competition was held. After a lot of hard work and with the assistance of legislators Senator John Bonacic and Assemblywoman Ailene Gunther, who assisted in the process, casino gambling is finally coming to Sullivan County.
Empire Resorts is working closely with local businesses to ensure the casino will positively affect our community.
Mr. Degliomini was very affable and answered many questions which led to a very informative evening. Rotarians from Liberty and Livingston Manor also attended the meeting.
Students from Monticello and Fallsburg high schools were formally inducted into their Interact clubs on November 17th. The event was held at Albella’s restaurant in Monticello and the turnout was spectacular. The induction was performed before a packed house (almost standing room only) of Rotarians, students, and their parents.
During the induction ceremony president Joe D’Abbraccio did an excellent job of explaining, in a very concise way, “What is Rotary” and the responsibilities that goes along with being an Interact student.
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