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Sunday, December 16, 2018


Glen Smith's Pride Awards Speech

To the editor:
This year, Glen Smith was awarded the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce ‘Businessperson of the Year' Award. Below, I've included the remarks he gave when being presented with the award on November 15th, 2018.
In the spirit of the holiday, and in the spirit of the county's biggest fans and supporters, I wanted to share Glen's speech as I feel that it very much captures the essence of Sullivan County and the spirit that we witness here every day.

November 15th, 2018
Pride Awards Speech

Thank you Jaime (or Brad) and thanks very much to all of you folks who have come out tonight on this cold evening to support the Chamber and share this great food and drink.
First off, I would just like to echo what my fellow honorees have said here tonight, receiving an award like this is quite the surprise, really appreciated and truly humbling.
When my wife Pat got the first call from Brad about selecting me for this a couple months ago and she came up to my office and told me, my first reaction was that someone made a typo or dialed the wrong number, they couldn't have been looking for me. I suggested she call Brad back to verify (which, by the way, she wouldn't do).
As I mentioned in the article that Isabel Braverman wrote for the Sullivan County Democrat in the Chamber Booklet you received tonight, there are a huge number of very successful businesses in Sullivan County, run by hardworking and dedicated people, many involving family members, as mine does, that contribute to the pulse of our county and that deserve the same recognition.
Granted, we have, and count our blessings for, the big guys like Bethel Woods, the Montreign Casino and Water Park, the YO1 Wellness Center, Monticello Motor Club, The Center for Discovery, the Chapin Estates, Ideal Snacks, Rolling V Bus Company and many others, who we are all familiar with, but the little guys plugging along every day, often six to seven days per week, all year long with little time off are the heroes. Many are located in the more populated areas of Monticello or Liberty or Fallsburg and many more are scattered around the more remote locations of the county, like Fremont Center or Lava or Lew Beach or Grahamsville or even here on top of a mountain outside Bloomingburg. They are the real backbone of what keeps Sullivan County humming along.
This award goes to our team who do all the things I can't do, which are many, since my office is not a one man operation. When I started this business in 1986, my wife Pat had been administrative assistant for several years to Peter Rhulan of the Frontier Insurance Group. I convinced her to take a big step backward down the ladder and help run my new office for a short time until we got things together, which she reluctantly agreed to. That short time turned into 32 years, and she's still there and still trying to get out the door and slow down.
As a matter of fact, probably half of the people who were nice enough to call or text us after this was announced all said the same thing…Congratulations Glenn, but what about Pat? The only ones who got it right are Les Kristt and Gene Kelly from the Kristt Company. If you read their ad in your booklet, it says “Congratulations Glenn and Pat Smith”. They know the real story.
So our team that puts up with me and deserves every bit of recognition that you've given me is of course my wife Pat, my CAD/computer operator Orshii Boldis, who many of you know from his years of volunteer services in the county, my secretary Miriam Cruz and our field technician/CAD operator Jim Sweikata.
I would also like to call out my family members here tonight including my daughter Jennifer and her husband Chris Tully, along with our grandkids Katie, Erin, Avery and Brendan Tully, my son Adam and his kids Baley and Mason Smith.
So, I've lived here my whole life and been in the engineering business since 1975 so I've seen all of the highs and lows associated with our vacation resort attractions, hotels and economic conditions on both the local and national scales. Numerous hotels and bungalow colonies were thriving back in the 1960's and 70's. Nowadays, the hotels are gone and “bungalow colony” is a dirty word and they have essentially been zoned out completely in most towns and villages. Some of the naysayers preached that the Catskills Aura was gone forever, never to return, because people were now flying with cheap fares to all of the other resort destinations that catered to families and kids in other states, countries and even the islands. We've all heard that.
But you know what, they were wrong. For every naysayer there were 20 or 30 or 100 proponents of our area who never gave up the fight to push and promote our fresh air, great scenery, clean water, natural environment and close proximity to the metropolitan areas, and it worked.
We got that elusive casino and all the other businesses I mentioned earlier as well as many new 2nd home housing developments and it's not stopping there. People believe in our county and this turnaround is only going to get better. More of our kids will finish school and, hopefully, for a change, decide to come back here to work and raise a family instead of doing that someplace far away as has been the norm for quite some time now.
So, let's keep the momentum going as best we can, so the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce and the Sullivan County Partnership and all the other groups and committees and even individuals involved with the progressive growth of this area can finally achieve and hold on to what they have been fighting for all these years, and only make it better.
Thanks again and I really appreciate this.

Allan Scott

Time to pull together

To the editor:
I think everyone is glad that elections are over with all the back stabbing and trash talk. Now is the time to contact our legislators both incumbents and newcomers to let them know about our concerns and wishes.
To get their attention, we have to reduce the negativity that seems to be prevalent. Let's follow the power of positive thinking instead of the blight of negativity. There are always positives if someone wants to find them. We should be known as a region of pleasantness and congeniality.
We need to get rid of roadside debris and keep our homes neat and tidy. We should be willing to help our neighbors when they need it. Let's greet strangers with a smile or a wave. I know that I get a good feeling when someone gives me a wave, a smile or a handshake. Offer help to someone who seems to be struggling to lift or carry a load. Hold the door for someone.
Don't be afraid to say “thank you” or “I'm sorry.” Compliment someone for a job well done.
Show your courtesy by moving to let someone through a crowded area or let someone with a small order to be checked go ahead of you if you have a large checkout.
Join a committee or club that is working to help the area. I have been fortunate to serve on two committees. One had some controversy but it was solved by some give and take on both sides. The other committee is involved in the history of one-room schools. We are working to help some local history by remembering these great items in our history. This has been a satisfying experience as I attended a one-room school for the first five years of my education. I hope that these experiences will help our young people appreciate their educational opportunities.
When we reach all these goals everyone will reap the benefits of a better life.

Paul Hubert

Job well done!

To the editor:
This is to commend you on your recent editorial commerating the life of former President H.W. Bush. The article was well written and a tribute to the people that fought and won WWII, The Greatest Generation.
However it contains one important factual error. The plane Bush was flying was a “Grumman TBF” Torpedo Bomber that carried a maximum crew of three not nine as your editorial stated.
As reporters it is important that all news articles be accurate, in order to avoid the charge of “fake news.”

Richard A. Ehrmann

One Person's Opinion

To the editor:
Like many Americans I took December 5th to pay respects to the 41st President by attending his funeral on “the telly.” I laughed with Alan Simpson, got great pleasure listening to Brian Mulrony's recollections of his enduring friendship with George and Barbara. Even George W. brought tears to my eyes. I hadn't agreed with George H.W.'s politics and certainly not George W's. But George H. W. Bush was a decent, loving and kind man who lived with grace and left us with a sense of his abiding dignity. He gave those attributes to his White House. The funeral tributes from friends and family attest to a life well lived and a man who deserves to be honored.
Donald Trump attended the funeral but was not invited to speak. Since there is a precedent for sitting Presidents to speak at the funerals of departed “President's Club” members, it was something of a slap in the face amongst many the President has endured recently. But the slap brought to the fore what we have in Trump. Trump, like Bush, is a family man. And like 41 again, he is ambitious and reaches at times beyond his grasp. The two men were both born to extreme wealth and knew only lives of privilege, which they passed on to their children. Both men earned large sums of money on their own and experienced both success and failure. Handsome and tall, they both have children who are loyal and loving.
So why wasn't Trump given the floor aside from the fact that he made Jeb the butt of a Trump nickname during the campaign. After all, President H.W. even befriended Maureen Dowd who had little kindness to bestow upon the Bush dynasty. He did not hold grudges.
Perhaps Trump was not asked to assume the sitting President's role because he doesn't play that role. The difference between him and GHW Bush is that one agreed to assume a role, and the other smashed every idol and sacred cow the presidency usually embraces. In doing so, he became the winning candidate, but never the President. Citizenship demands a leader we respect and venerate. We want to hold someone up to standards we ourselves might never be able to attain. And even when they fail, they must at least agree that there are norms and rules that they broke.
Perhaps the Bush family understood as well that the level of oratory, sincerity, gravitas and true emotion of the day was beyond the ken of` the sitting President.
I don't know if Donald Trump can raise his rhetoric to the caliber of those who spoke, not about themselves, but about a man who deserved the honor and attention of all of us. Had Trump spoken, the coverage would have been about him and what a strange man we elected to the highest job in the world. He would have said something that shifted attention away from Bush and onto himself. It could have been anything. Can he be trusted to be appropriate?
Our elected President is expected to be appropriate, to “don the mantel” as they say, of a leader. “ And to act Presidential.” Trump will not do that. I compare him to Jack Nicholson who always plays himself. It is not as if Presidents are not allowed to tint the presidency with their own taste and style, but a President is expected always to act like the leader of the Free World, to voice values in sync with a Democracy that honors diversity and difference of opinion, to shun tyranny and despots who murder reporters and dissidents. This takes a uniquely American heart and a lot of soul and soul searching. We do not elect leaders to be themselves. Mark Twain so aptly said, “Some people should never be encouraged to be themselves.” Certainly not Presidents.
When Moses was chosen to lead, he knew he was the least of the least, a simple shepherd with a speech impediment and no leadership qualities at all. And yet he was chosen by God to transform a multitude of slaves into a nation of priests.
How did he prepare himself for this task? He didn't. He simply allowed Yahweh to form the words and Aaron to mouth them. He became a conduit for a higher power, and in so doing, his lowliness and incompetency melted away.
I watched Trump at Bush's funeral. He wore his usual sullen and defiant expression, that of a rebellious teenager. And with all my heart I wished I could witness his transformation from one so unworthy of leadership to one who could open himself up to it and ask for help in the face of an awesome and seemingly undoable task. Even help from G-d, if all else failed. We are a nation of malcontents. We are a country on the verge of a nervous breakdown with almost daily mass shootings and racial tension. We are worried about an economic downturn. We are anxious about the deficit. The average family is nothing like the enviable Bush Dynasty. Most of the country is struggling just to earn its daily bread. Many of our citizens are covetous of aliens and frightened for their own jobs. We don't trust strangers. We hold fast to our gun rights if only for protection from our neighbors. We are confused about our future in the face of diminishing natural assets like clean water and pure air. We fear the worst. We hope for the best. Who could lead such a disturbed group?
How do we get Donald Trump to assume the role he was elected to play: a trusted leader? In my heart of hearts I wonder if he ever really wanted to play that role. But want it or not, he better figure it out before we split apart at the seams and start screaming for his blood.

Judith Maidenbaum

Where's SUNY?

To the editor:
Plenty of states have state schools on lists of our nation's top overall colleges and universities. On a recent Times Higher Education list, for instance, several states have public schools in the top 50 overall colleges and universities, including California, Michigan, and Washington. And more. But where's SUNY?
New York ranks in the top 10 among states in terms of the percentage of people with a 4-year college degree. So our education level's not the problem.
New York regularly emerges as one of the wealthiest states in the nation, including being in the top 10 for per capita income nationwide in the most recent census. So it's not a money thing.
New Yorkers are among the most-taxed in the US. SUNY's low rankings, then, are not for lack of taxation.
SUNY, with more than 90,000 employees, is New York's biggest employer. So it's not that there are not enough SUNY employees to lobby.
SUNY adds approximately $20 billion a year to our state's economy (according to a Rockefeller Institute). So it's not that SUNY hurts the economy.
Did you know that funding for SUNY from the state has remained virtually flat since 2012? Did you know that most monies for operating SUNY comes from students' and parents' hard-earned tuition dollars?
I think we deserve better. If you're interested in helping get our public higher education system here in New York onto the national map where it belongs, please write to your state senator and ask for the support for SUNY that we need.

Glenn Geher
New Paltz

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