SHERBURNE — Like many who have long histories with Rogers Environmental Education Center, Cliff Crouch can’t say exactly when he first visited the facility.
“To peg an exact time frame is difficult,” the Bainbridge resident said recently. “I know I have always tried to be supportive. I have even enjoyed taking my grandchildren there many times.”
Crouch has been a New York State Assemblyman since 1996. Before that, he was supervisor for the town of Bainbridge for 10 years after serving on the town council for 15 years. And all along the way, Rogers has been part of his life.
Little wonder, then, that Crouch will be one of two honored guests at this year’s “Spring Frolic,” the annual benefit sponsored by the Friends of Rogers Environmental Education Center, Inc.
The event is scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, March 22 at Magro’s Banquet Hall on Route 12B in Sherburne.
Joining Crouch (R-Bainbridge) will be New York State Senator James Seward (R/C/I/Ref-Oneonta).
“As part of our Center’s 50th anniversary, we want to publicly acknowledge the efforts put forth by both Sen. Seward and Assemblyman Crouch during our annual 2018 fundraising event,” said Simon M. Solomon, executive director of Friends of Rogers.
“Friends of Rogers spent two solid years renegotiating our facility/property use agreement with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and if not for the support and gumption of both these men back during the fall of 2015, things might have gone quickly to the wayside,” Solomon continued. “We’re very thankful for their contributions of time spent meeting with us at Rogers--and for their spearheading sit-down meetings in Albany with both parties.”
“Rogers is a true upstate jewel,” Seward said. “It’s a treasured outdoor recreational site, and it boosts the quality of life for residents and visitors and enhances the local economy.
“Without the Friends of Rogers, I’m sure that the Center would be completely shuttered. It really is a testament to the group’s dedication and devotion that the Center continues to be a valuable multi-use resource that will stand for generations to come.”
Solomon said Seward has been instrumental in securing funding for Friends of Rogers during their seven years of operating the facility.
Solomon said Seward also secured a DEC-funded appropriation of $50,000 to Friends of Rogers during 2016/2017.
The $50,000 went toward Friends of Rogers staffing expenses, an all-terrain John Deere Trail Vehicle, the installation of a fence around the preschool outdoor play area, and the installation of a stone patio within that area.
After state cuts to some facilities operated by the Department of Environmental Conservation in December 2010, local residents formed the Friends of Rogers to keep the Center open. Friends of Rogers signed a Use and Occupancy Agreement with the NYS DEC.
Solomon noted that this year’s honored guests were supporters of Friends of Rogers from the very beginning.
“Sen. Seward and Assemblyman Crouch were instrumental in navigating the NYS DEC bureaucracy by successfully allowing Friends of Rogers the ability to update the terms of our mutual facility use agreements with NYS DEC,” Solomon added. “We went from a 10-year agreement to a signed 20-year agreement that runs through 2037.”
The new agreement, finalized in November 2017, also lessens some of Friend of Rogers’ restrictions with fundraising and programming, Solomon noted.
“Spring Frolic” highlights include live music with “Jenni and Tom,” photo booth, cash bar, silent auction, and tasting reception featuring local establishments such as Bueno Taco, Fred’s Inn/Park Place, FoJo Beans, Good Nature Brewing, Hamilton Inn, Holy Smoke BBQ, Huff Brau, Jewett’s Cheese House, Old Home Distillers, and Ye Olde Landmark Tavern.
Pre-registration commitments made by March 10 are $49 per person. Event reservations made after that date increase to $59 per person. Space is limited, so be sure to make reservations as soon as possible by calling 607-674-4733.