Awards Ceremony on Monday, August 12 at SUNY Sullivan

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 www.sullivanrenaissance.org.

Country in the Country 20130728

The rain may have washed out some ball games, but it couldn't dampen Country Yossi's spirits!

He kicked things off with some Country Yossi music: "The Cover of the Jewish Press" and "Hello Mameh."

After a hitting the phones, and causing some minor damage, we enjoyed an informative chat with Allen Frishman, Seasonal Program and Community Consultant, who manages the Seasonal Demonstration Grant Program for Sullivan Renaissance, talking about the Battle of the Beautiful Camps and Bungalow Colonies! Sullivan Renaissance offers a limited number of matching reimbursement grants up to $2,500 for camps, bungalow colonies and seasonal businesses to enhance the appearance of their property as a demonstration and inspiration for others, but you'll have to pass Country Yossi's muster!

Next thing you know, Dov Shurin checked in with the latest news from Israel.

Then back to the feisty phones in a possibly endless quest to find Grand Prize Winners!

A pause for a little Country Yossi Music: "Big Bad Moish!"

Then we made made way for Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss and some gevaldigeh divrei torah.

How about a little more Country Yossi music? It's "The Big K'nocker," featuring Heshy "The Wonderchild" Walfish on vocals.

And then a campaign update from New York City Council candidate David Storobin.

But wait, there's more! How could we end a show without the notoriously canera-shy Rabbi Chaim Prussman and the Beth Shifra Report?

What a jam-packed program! I'm exhausted just from typing about it!

Join us next week, won't you?

Country in the Country 20130721


Eli Gerstner joined Country Yossi this week to discuss the latest goings-on with The Chevra, including the title cut from their latest CD, Chai! Check out the single and the whole album!


You can see The Chevra along with YBC Live as part of the Country Vues Summer Concert Series on August 11th:
Country Yossi himself wrote the lyrics to The Chevra's latest hit single, "I'm a Jew":
After Country pelted Eli with shailes, then it was your turn in the hot seat, with some special Chevra prizes.

But not without the aural assault of a little Country Yossi Music: "Seven Little Kids," "Nebich Of The Shteeble," "The Little Old Lady Named Pessy Deena," and "Boro Park."
Our evening was enhanced with a visit from Rabbi Chaim Prussman with the Beth Shifra Report.

Quite a show, wasn't it? Tune in next for a very special broadcast.

Country in the Country 20130714


In keeping with the somber spirit of Erev Tisha B'Av, Country Yossi began with one of his own songs: The title track from his CD, "These I Remember."

Next up: Dov Shurin shared the latest news from Israel.

And then there was more than a hint of suspense as the internet stream kept wanting to gai shloofen. Who knows what happened then, but from the sound of the Before and After parts, it must have been spectacular! Apologies for the podcast getting a little choppy in the middle there.

But chaos returned to sanity with a visit from  Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss and his spiritual words.
And of course, we had a generous helping of Grand Prize Winners. And a special shout-out to Eli from Melbourne, Australia, listening on the podcast!

Don't forget to check out all the details of The Tisha B'Av Event happening this Tuesday!

We also heard from Rabbi Chaim Prussman with the Beth Shifra Report.

Have an easy fast, and we'll see you next week.

[Podcaster's note: I'll be posting the show from London next week, so there may be a slight posting delay while I finish my tea and crumpets.]

Country in the Country 20130707


Take a break from your hot summer with the King of Cool, Country Yossi and this week's episode of Country in the Country!

We began with a little a capella music, befitting The Three Weeks: Country Yossi's very own "Deaf Man in the Shteeble," as covered by Lev Tahor!
And "Hentelach" from A.K.A. Pella:

And even "Da'agah Minayin" from Lev Tahor:
Dov Shurin checked in with the latest news out of Israel.

Yossi reminded us about the Country Vues Summer Concert Series and The Tisha B'Av Event.

Then a little more a capella music: "Moves Like Nili Milli" from A.K.A. Pella:

And just a hint of "Shomer Yisroel" from Lev Tahor:

Joining us again this summer, Rabbi Chaim Prussman with the Beth Shifra Report, and a learned discussion from Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss.

And with that, we called it a show. What would you call it? Wait, don't answer that. See you next week!