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Awards Ceremony on Monday, August 12 at SUNY Sullivan

July 29, 2013

[BETHEL] – Teams of experts from outside Sullivan County will spend August 7 to 10 visiting almost 50 locations around Sullivan County before selecting winners in several beautification categories and honoring project for the best showings of flowers.  For the first year, a panel of judges will also select the winner of the Community Mitzvah Award from five summer camps and bungalow colonies.

Judges will also acknowledge projects with stewardship awards for excellence in historical preservation and youth involvement.  All participants will receive completion grants.

The fourteen experts include individuals with horticultural, planning, community and international knowledge.  This year there are two groups of judges.


·         Nicole Franzese – Director of Delaware County Planning Department since 2000 (with the department since 1990); provides technical assistance on comprehensive plans, main street revitalization, zoning review, grant writing, SEQRA compliance, watershed management issues.

·         Donna Harrison – Has a decade of judging experience including Communities in Bloom (Canada), Communities in Bloom (Ontario), America in Bloom and the National Winter Lights Program; extensive municipal experience with City of St. Catharines including 25 years as manager of cemeteries and golf; past president of the Ontario Parks Association; current chair of the Ontario Parks Foundation.

·         Michael Newhard – Life-long resident and four-term Mayor of Warwick; artist and partner in Main Street retail store; is an advocate of community re-vitalization, historic preservation, farmland and environmental protection; Warwick was 2003 national winner of America in Bloom and is the 2010 international winner of Communities in Bloom.

·         Linda Onofry – Retired Montessori school teacher at the Homestead School in Glen Spey; an active 22 year member of the Garden Club of Orange & Dutchess Counties; holding may leadership roles, including past president and co-chair of the horticulture committee; an avid lifetime gardener; grew up and resides in Port Jervis.

·         Peter Patel Horticulturist/arborist for the Orange County Arboretum in Montgomery; Certified Arborist – International Society of Arboriculture, Cert. Nursery/Landscape Professional, and member of the Tri-County Nursery Association; owns ArborHeights Designs, LLC.

·         Odette Sabourin-Dumais – Horticulturist from St-Bruno-de-Montarville, Québec; acts as national and international judge for Communities in Bloom since 1995; has evaluated more than 140 communities in Quebec, Canada, United Kingdom, France and Japan; secretary-treasurer of the Communities in Bloom Executive Committee and chair of the Symposium and Awards.

·         Claudette Savaria – With a degree in horticulture from McGill University, she has taught at colleges, worked at nurseries and designed landscape projects throughout Canada.  Since 1990, she is the Parks and Grounds Manager for the City of Westmount, Quebec.  She is also a founding member of Communities in Bloom, and a founding member and judge for International Awards for Liveable Communities.

·         Karen Schneller-McDonald – Ecologist and writer for Hickory Creek Consulting LLC in Red Hook, NY.  She provides natural resources planning, environmental impact assessment, and public outreach and education services to municipalities and organizations.

·         Ann Smith – An avid gardener for over 35 years; member of New York Botanical Garden, Friends of Boscobel and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; past board member of Cornwall Garden Club; garden associate specialist for Devitt's Garden & Supply, New Windsor.

·         Deborah Sweeton – President and co-owner of Techni-Growers Greenhouses Inc.; published books in Common Sense Gardener series; past OFA board member; chairs Cornell Floriculture Advisory Committee; chaired Warwick in Bloom in 2004; won 1st and 2nd prize in Kathy Puhfal container competition at Cornell University in 2007 and the international challenge in 2010.

·         Michael Sweeton – General manager/marketing director for Techni-Growers (clients include Brooklyn Botanic Gardens); NYS Certified Nursery Professional; Town of Warwick Supervisor; President of the Orange County Association of Towns, Villages and Cities; serves on Orange County Citizens Foundation Board and Orange County Planning Board.


·         Rabbi Moshe Frank – Currently Rabbi Emeritus at Congregation Ezrath Israel in Ellenville.  He was senior rabbi from 1989-2011.  He is the Jewish Chaplain at Eastern New York Correctional Facility and Ulster Correctional Facility.  He is also active with the Hebrew Day School of Sullivan and Ulster, the Wawarsing Clergy Association, and the Rabbinical Council of Sullivan and Ulster Counties.

·         Mary Lewis – Founder of the garden design firm Barncroft, she served as a Sullivan Renaissance judge for nine years and a garden design consultant for two years.  The Cornell University graduate is past president of Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess Counties, past Zone Representative of Visiting Gardens Committee for Garden Club of America (GCA), and currently co-chairs GCA flower show “A Woman’s Hardy Garden” on October 4-5 in Beacon.

·         Yossi Toiv – “Country Yossi” is the name of an English-language Orthodox Jewish magazine, radio show, collection of musical albums and children's books created, composed, authored, and published by Yossi (Joseph) Toiv.  The radio show has been on the air continuously since 1986.  The monthly magazine has printed over 3 million copies since 1988.

Community Beautification projects are judged for aesthetic improvement, collaboration, youth involvement, permanence and an ability to be maintained.  Community Mitzvah projects are judged for cleaning-up and maintaining their grounds and beautifying the look of the facility.

Winning communities will be announced at the Sullivan Renaissance Awards Ceremony on Monday, August 12 in the Seelig Theater at SUNY Sullivan in Loch Sheldrake.  Doors open at 6:00 p.m. with light refreshments; the program begins at 6:45 p.m. 

Communities selected as the most successful in completing their Category A and B projects will receive additional grants between $1000 and $10,000.  The Golden Feather Grant of $25,000 will go to one of four Category C projects.  Judges will also award separate grants for “Showing of Flowers” including a special prize to communities that received maintenance support.  The Community Mitzvah Award of $10,000 will go to one of five seasonal communities.

Young people will be acknowledged for participating in the intern leadership program.  Scholarships will be announced by SUNY Sullivan Foundation and the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan Counties.

Sullivan Renaissance is a beautification and community development program principally funded by the Gerry Foundation.  Sponsors include Bold Gold Media Group/Thunder 102, Country Yossi Productions, FisherMears Associates, Kristt Company, Large Media, Robert Green Dealerships, Sullivan County Democrat, The River Reporter, Thompson Sanitation, and WSUL/WVOS.

For information, contact 845-295-2445 or