NARROWSBURG – U.S. Congressman Matt Cartwright (PA-8) delivered the keynote address at the Upper Delaware Council’s 31st Annual Awards Ceremony on April 28 at Central House Family Resort in Beach Lake, PA.

Rep. Cartwright stated, in part, “I’m honored to be here with such great people united by a commitment to conserve and protect the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River. For its 31 years, this partnership has made good on that important commitment, and I hope you will continue to do so for many more.

“While I’m not new to Congress, I am new to this area, as it is part of the newly formed 8th Congressional District. I come to it with the same goal I held when I first ran for Congress: to conserve and protect our precious natural resources. Stewardship is a value I hold close to my heart, and I believe that each of you feels the same.

“We have a responsibility not only to future generations, but also to ourselves, our families, and our neighbors to ensure access to clean drinking water and to preserve wild and scenic areas. We should never take for granted the value of stunning landscapes, pristine rivers, and a diversity of wildlife.

“I am impressed by the Upper Delaware Council’s unique partnership of governmental entities and agencies that manage the river. You’re charged with the delicate balance of protecting the quality of the water, conserving the river for future generations, making it accessible for residents and visitors, and cultivating a healthy business climate. I congratulate you for a job well done on all planks.

“Please know that I will always be a strong voice in Congress for measures that protect and conserve our natural resources while also enhancing economic opportunities.

“So, once again, thank you for the opportunity to get to know you better and to help celebrate your champions: the noble people dedicated to the protection of the Upper Delaware River and the quality of the life it provides,” Congressman Cartwright stated.

The Council bestowed honors in the following categories:

Distinguished Service Award – John J. Bonacic, retired New York State Senator for the 42nd District as of Dec. 31, 2018, for his Upper Delaware River advocacy during 20 years in the NYS Senate over a 44-year public service career;

Robin M. Daniels Memorial Lifesaving Award – NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Ranger Richard “Rick” Franke, Jr. of Livingston Manor, for assisting in the rescue of 11 people during a joint patrol with the National Park Service Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River on Aug. 4, 2018.

Partnership Award – Kris Gilbert & Danielle Besso, NYS Department of Transportation Region 9, for spearheading the Upper Delaware Corridor Signage Program in Delaware and Sullivan Counties.

Outstanding Community Achievement Award – Wayne County Commissioners, for efforts by Wayne County, PA Commissioners Brian Smith, Joseph Adams, and Wendell Kay to save the historic Hankins Pond Dam from demolition;

Cultural Achievement Award – Forrest W. “Frosty” Myers of Damascus, PA, subject of “The Art and Times of Frosty Myers” prize-winning 2018 documentary;

Recreation Achievement Award – Pam Reinhardt of Hankins, NY, for coordinating Trout Unlimited Upper Delaware Chapter’s “Trout in the Classroom” youth and educator engagement program at Sullivan West Central School for 11 years;

Volunteer Award – Steven Schwartz of Equinunk, PA, for coordinating the Upper Delaware BioBlitz events and his environmental activism;

Community Service Award – Town of Tusten Councilwoman Brandi Merolla of Narrowsburg, NY, for her accomplishments chairing the Tusten Energy Committee;

Special Recognition Award – Larry D. Neal, Jr. of Beach Lake, PA, for retiring as Chief Ranger of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River on Dec. 31, 2018 after a 28-year career with the National Park Service; and

Oaken Gavel Award – Aaron I. Robinson of Shohola Township, PA, for his leadership at 2018 chairperson of the Upper Delaware Council.