Chamber Announces Winners for Spring Awards Dinner
ONEONTA—Next Wednesday, May 24, the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce will present community awards to businesses, organizations, and individuals who have given back to their communities and have enhanced the overall “quality of place” in Otsego County. The chamber’s Annual Spring Dinner and Awards Presentation event will take place at Dewar Arena at Alumni Field House on the campus of SUNY Oneonta.
Nominations for these awards were submitted by area citizens through a form on the chamber website. Those nominations were reviewed by the chamber staff and three finalists in each award category were presented to the OCCC Board of Directors for a final round of voting, resulting in the 2023 winner’s list:
• Business of the Year: Casella Waste Management
• Breakthrough Award: Creekside Industries—A Division of The ARC Otsego
• Eugene A. Bettiol, Jr. Distinguished Citizen of the Year: Geoffrey Doyle
• Volunteer of the Year: Connie Herzig
• Leadership Otsego Distinguished Alumnus: Dan Buttermann
For more information about the Annual Spring Dinner and Awards Presentation event, call (607) 432-4500.
Business of the Year: Casella Waste Management
The Otsego County Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year recipient is Casella Waste Management. In order to be eligible, nominees were required to have at least one location in Otsego County, 11 or more employees, and must have demonstrated a sustained commitment to community involvement that benefits the citizens of Otsego County as well as provide a healthy and rewarding work environment for employees.
“I am humbled and honored to accept this award on behalf of the 40 employees that work for Casella and continue to provide exceptional service throughout Otsego County,” said Lonnie O’Bryan, division manager, Oneonta Hauling, Otsego and Schoharie Transfer Stations. “It is their commitment to Casella’s core values every day that makes this award possible. So, a big thank you to all of them, and to the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce for this award.”
Casella Waste Systems, Inc. and its predecessor companies were founded in 1975 as Casella’s Refuse Removal in Rutland, Vermont by Doug Casella and his brother, John. According to the website, the brothers built the company’s first—and the state’s first—recycling facility in Vermont in 1977. “It was an inspired vision, one that anticipated the opportunities around resource renewal as well as viewing waste management as an integrated set of services—collection, recycling, transfer, and disposal,” their history reads.
In 1997, having built an unparalleled waste and resource management infrastructure throughout the northeastern U.S., the brothers took their company public. Casella’s initial public offering became one of the most successful in industry history. The company is now publicly traded on the NASDAQ exchange under the symbol “CWST.”
Since 2000, Casella has moved more aggressively to supplement traditional waste management services with its expertise in resource renewal and sustainability.
“Our service in Oneonta dates back more than 25 years and we are committed to serving our customers and communities throughout Otsego County,” O’Bryan said. “We believe that our communities thrive when businesses like ours can create and share value throughout many different avenues.
“Whether it is our CDL drivers’ school—which has graduated more than 100 new drivers (three are from the Oneonta area) at no cost to the student—our new diesel mechanic training program, which will be opening soon, or any of the local organizations we support through the donation of time, funds, or service, we are committed to strengthening Otsego County through much more than our service offerings,” O’Bryan added.
O’Bryan offered her sincere congratulations to all of the other winners, who she said “represent a shining example of what makes our community so special.”
“And a final thank you once again to the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce for representing the business community and helping to drive continued growth, prosperity and economic success for the residents of Otsego County,” she said.
Breakthrough Award: Creekside Industries
The Otsego County Chamber of Commerce Breakthrough Award is being presented this year to Creekside Industries, a division of The ARC Otsego. In order to be considered, nominees for this award must be a business enterprise or non-profit organization with at least one location in Otsego County that has demonstrated an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to their operation while bringing creative solutions that benefit their employees and our communities in exciting new ways.
Creekside Industries strongly aligns itself with The Arc Otsego’s mission by providing a work location that supports the individual needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through the development and strengthening of lifelong job skills and encourages employees to achieve meaningful employment outcomes—whether that means staying with at Creekside for a lifelong career, or moving on to a competitive position within the open labor market. Starting out as the Vocational Training Center of the Arc Otsego, Creekside Industries has provided employment services to individuals with IDD for more than 30 years.
“Until recently, Creekside Industries has been a hidden gem in Oneonta, only known by very few local businesses and community members,” said Erin Seeley, senior director of community programs and affirmative business. “Over the past few years, we have put a great deal of time, effort, and energy into rebranding ourselves, gaining exposure, and to be considered an active partner within the local community. It is incredibly heartening to receive this recognition. This affirms that we are on the map as a business in the Oneonta community.”
Creekside has established a footprint in the community by building relationships with local businesses including TS Pink, Vêsucré, Catskill Craftsmen (Delaware County), the Great Crayon Project, Saratoga Eagle, Corning, and several others. They strive to find unique solutions for businesses of all sizes to help meet their needs. This could be with sourcing materials, warehousing materials, product assembly, machining, packaging, product breakdown, recycling of materials, order fulfillment, shipping of product, etc.
“What is unique about Creekside is that we will work with businesses to understand their areas of need and then we develop our business services around those needs,” explained Seeley. “Creekside also offers a variety of products that community members and local businesses can purchase, such as cleaning products and PPE. We are always looking to offer additional products that are not only needed by the community, but that will provide new job opportunities for our employees.”
In partnership with local organizations including Opportunities for Otsego, Catholic Charities, and the Cooperstown Food Pantry, Creekside is dedicated to making its infant, feminine, and adult care products broadly accessible at affordable prices to members of the community, Seeley added.
“Creekside is also the site of a monthly food drive for community members connected to The Arc Otsego,” said Faith Tiemann, chief marketing officer. “In partnership with the Edmeston Community Cupboard, more than 160 families are fed each month through this drive, staffed by volunteers from Creekside Industries and The Arc Otsego, in an effort to combat food insecurity in our community.”
Citizen of the Year: Geoffrey Doyle
The Eugene A. Bettiol Jr. Distinguished Citizen of the Year is Geoffrey Doyle, executive director at the Foothills Performing Arts and Civic Center in Oneonta. Doyle moved to Oneonta in 2000 to attend SUNY Oneonta’s music industry program. He has been working at Foothills since 2007, and has been an active participant, supporter, and patron of the arts in Oneonta, and the greater Otsego County area, for most of his life.
Doyle is experienced in all facets of event planning, event production, promotion and venue management. Over the course of his career, he has accumulated 20+ years of hands-on experience in concert production, audio recording, theatrical productions, and management of all varieties of performance based and civic events.
A previous member of The Arc Otsego board of directors, Doyle is currently on the board of Film Otsego (formerly Film COOP). He is also an active supporter of the Otsego Pride Alliance and was awarded the 2018-19 OPA Outstanding Ally Award. Additionally, he is involved with the Otsego Refugee Resettlement Coalition, and through his work at Foothills has had the pleasure of working and building relationships with innumerable performing arts groups, fellow non-profits, charitable organizations, and community-based groups throughout Otsego County.
“When I was notified that I had been chosen to receive the Gene Bettiol Jr. Distinguished Citizen Award, my first reaction was genuine surprise,” Doyle said. “I suppose I hadn’t ever considered that I was even in the running for such an award! But what this award tells me, more than anything, is that people have been paying attention and noticing the work that we have been doing here at Foothills. It is exciting to know that the community sees and appreciates our efforts.”
Volunteer of the Year: Connie Herzig
Upon her retirement from Cooperstown Central School in 2018, it is possible Connie Herzig found herself even busier than she was before. Herzig, who taught physical education at CCS for 27 years and coached girls track for 26 of those years, is being honored by the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce as “Volunteer of the Year.” Nominees for this award must: live or work in Otsego County; have performed volunteer service without monetary compensation between January 1 and December 31, 2022; have made a significant impact on their effort(s) of choice, and; have brought significant positive value to the lives of Otsego County residents.
Since 2018, she became a member of the Otsego Sailing Club’s board and serves as treasurer. She also acts as social chair and has taken over the duties of the director of the Sailing School.
She was also elected to the board of the City of the Hills Chorus of the Sweet Adelines Inc., an organization of which she been a member for nearly 30 years, and joined the Hill City Celebrations board, serving as treasurer.
Herzig volunteered at Cooperstown and Milford schools in 2021 and 2022, coaching track.
“In Milford, I worked with high jumpers, guiding their best jumper to a fifth place finish in the New York State Championship in 2022. In Cooperstown, I worked with the junior high athletes, teaching them proper form and techniques in the field events,” Herzig explained.
Herzig volunteered for the Red Hot Ropers Jump Rope Club in 2021-22 and 2022-23, assisting with after-school practices and performances.
“This is a club I founded in 1992 at the elementary school and ran for 26 years before retirement. In 2021, it was revived by a staff member and I volunteered to help bring it back from the ashes. This year, we had nearly 100 students participating from grades 3-6,” she said.
Most recently, Herzig became a certified track and field official and began to supervise student teachers in physical education for SUNY Cortland.
She continues to substitute occasionally within the Cooperstown Central School system and teaches sailing for children ages 5-10 at the Otsego Sailing Club in the summer.
“All of these activities are paid, a little,” she added. “I like to stay busy.”
Leadership Otsego Distinguished Alumnus: Dan Buttermann
Candidates for the Leadership Otsego Distinguished Alumnus award must have graduated from the OCCC Leadership Otsego program and then gone on to impact the greater Otsego County community through their work, volunteerism, impact, and commitment to the principles of ethical and transformative leadership.
This year’s winner, Dan Buttermann, works at NYCM Insurance in the casualty claims department. Dan and his wife, Ana Laura, moved to Oneonta in 2011. They have three daughters—Malena, Layla and Nadia. Dan and Ana Laura are both musicians and got involved with local music right away by joining the Catskill Valley Wind Ensemble, and then the Oneonta Community Concert Band, and have since performed with the Catskill Symphony Orchestra, as well. Both are also union members and have been members of the union’s executive committee.
Buttermann has served on numerous community-focused committees and boards. He currently serves as a board member for Opportunities for Otsego, commissioner for the City of Oneonta Civil Service Commission and board member for the Oneonta Concert Association.
Buttermann was named one of “20 under 40” by “The Freeman’s Journal,” “Hometown Oneonta” and AllOtsego.com in 2015. He has previously served on the Oneonta Town Planning Board, the Oneonta City Schools Board of Education and as president of the Oneonta Rotary Club. He teaches at Hartwick College as a guest lecturer in the business department, and artist in residence in the music department.
In 2017, Buttermann co-founded TEDxOneonta with the goal of connecting people and ideas. The program has grown each year and welcomed speakers from around the world to share their ideas on the TEDxOneonta stage. Inspired by the success of TEDxOneonta, he co-founded the Upstate Leadership Conference Inc. in 2019 to serve leadership needs of the public, private, and civil sectors of local economies through events and activities like TEDxOneonta.