Each year the Greene County Planning Board and Greene County Legislature partner to present the Ellen Rettus Planning Achievement Awards. Ellen Rettus was a long-term County Planning Board member who served for several years as Chairperson of the Greene County Planning Board and Chairperson of the Town of Durham Planning Board. As Chairperson of these boards, Ellen worked to promote sound and thoughtful planning throughout Greene County.
The Award process begins with nominations to the Greene County Planning Board, which then reviews nominations and presents awards.
The awards recognize outstanding planning, community and economic development activities that have taken place in Greene County over the past three years and the individuals and organizations that contribute to their realization. The awards also recognize individuals who have distinguished themselves through their service to Greene County and its communities.
Three awards were presented by County Planning Board Chairman Erik Allan at the November 20, 2018 meeting of the Greene County Legislature to:
- Bonnie Blader and the Lexington Broadband Initiative for their successful efforts to expand broadband in the Town of Lexington.
- Don and Patricia Gibson for their efforts to fund and construct three soccer fields at the corner of Mountain Avenue and Volunteer Drive in the Town of Cairo for the Rip Van Winkle Soccer Club.
- Cairo Development Foundation for work to organize and fund efforts to improve the economic and visual climate of the Town of Cairo.
Bonnie Blader and the Lexington Broadband Initiative
Bonnie Blader and the Lexington Broadband Initiative received an award for their successful efforts to expand broadband in the Town of Lexington.
Until recently, the Town of Lexington had amongst the worst internet access in Greene County, which limited Lexington’s ability to expand commercial development or attract new families and young businesses. Second homeowners didn’t stay long because working online was nearly impossible. That all changed when the New New York Broadband public/private Expansion grants competition was created by the Governor’s office in 2015. The town took advantage of the opportunity to compete for a grant, and Bonnie Blader led a successful effort to find a willing provider in Margaretville Cable, a subsidiary of the Margaretville Telephone Company.
Working with volunteers and partners – including Western Catskill Community Revitalization Council, Catskill Watershed Corporation, Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, and the Greene County Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Planning – Bonnie and the Lexington Broadband Initiative campaigned to bring broadband connectivity to the Town of Lexington. Her attitude, summed up in one of her Broadband Initiative newsletters, was, “Good thing we understand hills here, and how to get up them. Point yourself at the top and climb.”
The award recognizes the efforts of Bonnie Blader and the Lexington Broadband Initiative ‘s efforts to bring broadband into the Town of Lexington.
Recipient: Bonnie Blader and the Lexington Broadband Initiative
Accepting: Bonnie Blader and others representing the Lexington Broadband Initiative
Don and Patricia Gibson
Don and Patricia Gibson received an award for their efforts to fund and construct three soccer fields at the corner of Mountain Avenue and Volunteer Drive in the Town of Cairo for the Rip Van Winkle Soccer Club.
Don and Patricia Gibson worked tirelessly over several years along with volunteers, non-profit organizations; local, county and state officials; to site, fund and construct soccer fields in the Town of Cairo. The 6.5-acre site now includes a 300-foot by 180-foot adult soccer field, two smaller youth fields, and a parking lot.
According to an article in the Daily Mail, there are more than 400 kids in the youth soccer program. With the new field, even more are likely to participate. The location will also be used for tournaments and competitions with participants from soccer clubs from across New York State. The project was completed in July of 2018.
The soccer fields were funded through a combination of in-kind contributions (including the Town of Cairo Highway Department), charitable donations, and grant sources including the Hannaford Foundation, Hudson River Foundation, Microsoft Foundation, Greene County Youth Program, and a $50,000 grant secured through Senator George Amedore and matched by the Bank of Greene County Charitable Foundation. Land for the field was donated by Greene County.
The award is being given in recognition of Don and Patricia Gibson ‘s efforts to provide a permanent home in the Town of Cairo for the Rip Van Winkle Soccer Club.
Recipient: Donald and Patricia Gibson
Accepting: Donald and Patricia Gibson
Cairo Development Foundation
Cairo Development Foundation received an award for work to organize and fund an effort to improve the economic and visual climate of the Town of Cairo.
Over the last two years ,the Cairo Development Foundation has held fundraisers and applied for grants to support the Foundation’s mission to revitalize the Town of Cairo. These effort include a successful application for a technical assistance grant from New York State Homes & Community Renewal to assess potential redevelopment opportunities, sponsorship of the second annual Motorcycle Street Meet and Block Party held on August 4th, and the Cairo Bears program which included the placement of themed painted bears throughout the town and a Teddy Bear Picnic held on June 2 at Angelo Canna Town Park.
The Foundation hopes through these and other efforts to help foster the revitalization and redevelopment of the Town of Cairo, with an initial focus on Cairo’s Main Street.
The award is given in recognition of Cairo Development Foundation’s efforts to improve the Town of Cairo.
Recipient: Cairo Development Foundation
Accepting: Co-Presidents Diana Benoit and Sherry True