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Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel, NY

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Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel, NY

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Sullivan Renaissance partners with NYSERDA

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Awards Ceremony on Monday, August 10 at Bethel Woods

August 4, 2015

[BETHEL] – Teams of experts from outside Sullivan County will spend August 5 to 8 visiting over 60 locations throughout Sullivan County before selecting winners in several beautification categories.  For the third year, a separate panel of judges will also select the winner of the Community Mitzvah Award from ten summer camps and bungalow colonies.

Results of a new contest for video film-makers will also be announced in recognition of Sullivan Renaissance’s 15th year.  New York City film director Ben Younger headed the panel of judges that reviewed a dozen videos showing how Sullivan Renaissance has impacted people, organizations and communities.

The sixteen experts include individuals with horticultural, planning, community, filmmaking, marketing and international knowledge. 


·         Birgitta Brophy Assistant Professor in the Landscape Contracting Program at SUNY Delhi since 1997; and landscape architectural consultant to private clients and municipalities for public projects including "Main Street" revitalization studies/designs and landscape master plans.

·         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.

·         Peter Patel Horticulturist and 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.

·         Nancy Proyect President of the Orange County Citizens Foundation since 2006; owned a public relations consulting firm serving the nonprofit, governmental and private sectors; active in Leadership Orange, Orange County Arts Council, Cornwall Community Cooperative, Temple Beth Jacob, SUNY New Paltz CRREO, and the Junior League of Orange County.

·         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.

·         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.

·         RJ Smith - Owner of RJ Smith Realty for 40+ years. Extensive experience in community planning, development, and restoration. With others, he spearheaded Pine Bush’s Renaissance in the early 1980s and continues to advise communities on similar efforts. He assists with community planning and farmland preservation and is a former town board, school board, and county legislator.

·         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.


·         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; past president of Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess Counties, past Zone Representative of Visiting Gardens Committee for Garden Club of America (GCA), and co-chairs GCA flower show “A Woman’s Hardy Garden” in Beacon.  Also serving as a judge on the Community Beautification Panel. 

·        Rabbi Marcus Rubenstein Gained his rabbinic ordination at Ziegler School of Rabbinic studies in 2015. He began his tenure as the new rabbi of Temple Sinai of Middletown this summer. He is quite excited to begin exploring the area and is a great lover of the Catskill

Mountain region. R. Rubenstein enjoys biking, hiking and studying Jewish mystical texts in his spare time.

·         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.


·         Ben Younger – Film director and writer, whose work includes “Prime” starring Meryl Streep, Uma Thurman and Bryan Greenberg; “Boiler Room” with Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi and Ben Affleck; and the soon-to-be-released “Bleed for This” starring Miles Teller and Katey Sagal.  He writes for The New Yorker and has sold numerous television pilots to FX, NBC, ABC and Fox.

·         Daniel Mack – Multi-media artist, writer and teacher with a studio in Warwick; who serves on the board of the Orange County Citizens Foundation.  He has written seven books on rustic work, including the popular Making Rustic Furniture.  His rustic creations appear in many private and museum collections, including the Smithsonian.  A teacher at Omega since 1996, he also has taught nature studies in public schools and hospitals. 

·         Eniko Hunyadi – Freelance marketing and advertising consultant from Connecticut; formerly worked at Sullivan Renaissance and created the video contest.  "Videos are great ways to tell stories that reach a large audience in a short amount of time.  We want everybody to learn what Sullivan Renaissance volunteers are doing around Sullivan County, so we created this contest to encourage them to share their experiences with the world.”

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.  The Video Contest judging criteria included: length, message clarity, creativity, audience appeal and technical aspects.


Winning communities will be announced at the Sullivan Renaissance Awards Ceremony on Monday, August 10 in the Event Gallery at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel, NY.  Doors open at 6:00 p.m. with light refreshments; the program begins promptly 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 five Category C projects.  Judges will also award separate grants for “Showing of Flowers” including special prizes for single and multiple gardens to communities that received maintenance support.  Community Mitzvah Awards of $10,000, $5000 and $3000 will go to the seasonal communities that best cleaned up and beautified their grounds.

The winning video will receive $1000 and be shown at the ceremony, with additional prizes for two runners up.  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, FisherMears Associates, Kristt Company, Robert Green Dealerships, Sullivan County Democrat, The River Reporter, Thompson Sanitation, and WSUL/WVOS.

For information, contact 845-295-2445 or