More than 300 people gathered Friday night to celebrate Otsego County and honor two of its finest assets: Oneonta lawyer John Scarzafava and Brewery Ommegang.
Cooperstown-based Brewery Ommegang was named the NBT Bank Distinguished Business of the Year and Scarzafava, a partner in the Oneonta-based Scarzafava & Basdekis law firm, received the Eugene A. Bettiol Jr. Distinguished Citizen Award at the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce’s 28th Annual Dinner and Celebration of Business at the Hunt Union Ballroom at SUNY Oneonta.
Otsego County Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Barbara Ann Heegan said both Scarzafava and Ommegang shine a light on the community. One, she said, has dedicated his skill set to helping others in the community and the other has created products that are now known across the nation.
This year’s record attendance, Heegan said, is likely because of the profound respect the community has for the two honorees.
“Everyone was very excited about the awards this year,” she said.
After accepting his award, Scarzafava, who was born and raised in Oneonta, spoke of his family members and the influence they had on him. They modeled hard work, dedication and humility, he said, and gave him advice that helped him get where he is today.
“Never, ever forget where you come from,” Scarzafava said.
Scarzafava, who began his law firm in the early 1980s, contributes to many local service activities, such as the United Way, the Pit Run, Boys and Girls Clubs and Otsego County Family Services and has served on the A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital board of directors. The Scarzafava & Basdekis law firm recently received the U.S. News & World Reports’ highest honor awarded to a personal injury law firm.
To whom much is given much is expected, Scarzafava said, but many people rise to these expectations without ever being given anything in return. They give back to the community without ever being recognized, he said. Their one request, he said, would likely be for others to give selflessly, encourage others to do so and retain a loyalty for one’s home.