Brookside Hardware named top business after bouncing back from devastating fire
By Julia Green
Will Finch, owner of Brookside Hardware in Margaretville, was honored Thursday night by the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce, which presented him with its 2008 Business of the Year Award at its annual dinner. New York State Sen. John Bonacic was the guest speaker at the event, which took place at the Andes Hotel.
The Hobart Book Village was also recognized, receiving the Arnold Banker Tourism Award, which was presented by Linda Stratigos, vice chairperson of the chamber’s board and accepted by Hobart Book Village founder Don Dales.
Brookside, which burned to the ground in a massive fire in March, has since been rebuilt and reopened its doors for business. Even as the rebuilding process was underway, Finch and his employees continued to run the used car business, setting up shop in a trailer adjacent to the former site of the building.
Mary Beth Silano, executive director of the chamber, presented Finch with the award, citing Brookside’s resilience following not only the fire, but the flood that damaged the business in 1996.
“Any other business would consider one disaster enough,” she said. “Not Brookside. Once again, Will Finch decided to rebuild, and saved the employees’ positions. Brook-side is so valuable to the economy of Delaware County.”
“This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our community, friends, and loyal customers,” Finch said upon acceptance of the award. “Our community has been there to roll up their sleeves and get us up and going again. Small-town America is alive and well.”
Finch dedicated the award to his father, Dick, who passed away on August 25.
At Thursday’s dinner, Bonacic delivered a keynote speech in which he lamented the state of the economy.
He discussed the fate of Belleayre, acknowledging that in terms of spending, things like heating oil, food, and health care are priorities over recreational pursuits.
“You can cut recreation,” he said. “But Belleayre is one employer that takes care of the regional economy. That’s why we have to fight not to let Belleayre be cut.”
He acknowledged that there will be some job cuts made, but added that he has a meeting set up with Gov. David Paterson to discuss the issue.
“You have to be smart in your cuts, you have to be selective,” he said. “You can’t be counterproductive. Cutting Belleayre would be counterproductive.”
Bonacic also shared his concern at the lack of improvements Delaware County receives from state funding, adding that keeping a majority in the Senate will play a key role in checks and balances. The “top of the ticket,” he said, is represented by officials from metropolitan areas.
“It’s not Republican versus Democrat; it’s regional differences,” he said. “We will be paying the debt and not get our fair share of capital improvements in the rest of the state. We want our fair share.”