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March 23, 2013

Chamber toasts award winners

By Richard Whitby
The Daily Star

---- — “When I think of Hugh Henderson, I think of a true gentleman and a community-minded person,” state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, said Friday night after Henderson received the Eugene A. Bettiol Jr. Distinguished Citizen award from the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce.

Addressing a crowd of better than 200 in the Hunt Union Ballroom at SUNY Oneonta during the chamber’s annual banquet, Seward it is “always a wonderful occasion to celebrate all the best there is in Otsego County.”

Laurie Neander, chief executive of At Home Care, which was presented with the chamber’s NBT Bank Distinguished Business of the Year award, thanked the chamber for giving the award and NBT Bank for sponsoring it, but said At Home Care’s employees made it possible.

“It really is a tremendous honor for me to work these true professionals for a 17-year period,” Neander said after receiving the award from Jamie Reynolds, regional executive and senior vice president at NBT. “It goes by in a flash.”

Describing the foundations of a good community as a three-legged stool in which the legs are the public sector, the private sector and the nonprofit sector, Reynolds said At Home Care “is a great example of how a not-for-profit can be a tremendous benefit and a tremendous economic generator for our area.”

Seward said the organization, which now operates in five counties, is “an important part of health-care delivery in our region.”

Henderson, in accepting a legislative proclamation, recognizing the chamber award, from Assemblyman Bill Magee, D-Nelson, singled out his wife, Betty, for gratitude.

“One cannot perform effectively for long periods of time in public service without somebody who has supported them,” Henderson said, adding that he and Betty had been married “over 54 years.”

U.S. Rep Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, also addressed the dinner, praising At Home Care for keeping health care costs in control and Henderson for his public service.

Seward also congratulated Barbara Ann Heegan, who was marking her first banquet as the chamber’s executive director.

Rachel Lutz Jessup, chairwoman of the chamber’s Special Projects Committee, which planned the event, introduced her fellow committee members and gave a brief history of the chamber, tracing its start to May 10, 1907 in Oneonta.

Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller, City Manager Michael Long and Rob Robinson, Heegan’s predecessor as Chamber executive director, were among those in attendance.