MTC, Scenic Byway & Festival of the Voice among Southern Tier grant recipients

By Brian Sweeney
The Margaretville Telephone Company (MTC) was another winner in last week’s grant awards. General Manager Glen Faulkner said the funding will help support MTC’s broadband expansion.
“The announcement of $320,500 in matching grant funds from the Southern Tier Economic Development Council in support of the MTC Wireless Broadband Initiative marks a significant step forward in MTC’s efforts to extend broadband services to the residents, businesses and anchor institutions in the local communities which currently lack broadband access,” Mr. Faulkner commented.
He noted that this grant award will be utilized with the previously announced funding to MTC under Governor Cuomo’s Connect NY Broadband Grant Program for which MTC was awarded a matching grant of $1,800,000 for a fiber-optic network expansion.

Coverage extended
“The MTC Wireless project will extend broadband services beyond the scope of the fiber-optic based network to the un-served residents located in the rural areas of Roxbury, Gilboa and Conesville,” he explained.
Mr. Faulkner added, “We are truly excited about the opportunity this additional funding offers which coincides with ongoing MTC investments to enhance broadband services throughout the entire MTC service area. MTC recognizes that the availability of broadband plays a key role in the economic health and growth of a community.”
He noted that MTC will continue to leverage new sources of funding and promote technology solutions which will continue to advance broadband deployment and services.

Scenic Byway funding
Another local recipient of funding in the Southern Tier region was the Route 28 Catskill Mountain Scenic Byway. The $49,500 grant was awarded through the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce.
The Scenic Byway includes the municipalities and communities along the Route 28 corridor in the central Catskills including the Towns of Olive, Shandaken, Middletown, Andes and Villages of Fleischmanns and Margaretville.

Starting the process
Chamber Executive Director Carol O’Beirne Commerce told the News that the grant funding will be utilized to begin the implementation of the marketing strategy for the Catskill Mountain Scenic Byway.
“The strategy is designed to support a new regional map, a series of themed audio driving tours, brochures and rack cards. A new website will be designed and an online Visitor Bureau will be developed,” she explained.
“An advertising campaign to promote tourist visits and getaway stays will be established. Improved signage, informational kiosks and promotional materials will be created to further establish the central Catskills as a destination for travel,” she added.
Mrs. O’Beirne explained that the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce has been identified by the Route 28 municipalities as the interim business administrator to guide the Catskill Mountain Scenic Byway plan through the byway’s anticipated approval by the New York State Department of Transportation.

Voice Fest gets $90K boost from Governor

By Jay Braman Jr.
Among the $715 million that Governor Cuomo spread across the Empire State last week in the form of economic development funds was a $90,000 award to the Phoenicia Festival of Voice.
While pleased with the grant, the festival organizers are quick to point out that it is not enough to fully fund their program.
Now in operation long enough to no longer be considered an upstart enterprise, the Voice Festival, just entering its fifth year of providing several days of music in Phoenicia during August, has been relying heavily on free labor and talent to accomplish its goal of bringing world class performers to the stage.
Festival Trustee Justin Kolb said this week that the enterprise keeps growing though. “This will cover about 20 percent of our costs this coming August,” Kolb said.
Festival Co-Founder Maria Todaro said the organization still needs lots more financial support. “Of course we are thrilled,” she said. “The grant does indeed help but only partially. We are producing 22 events at seven venues within five days.”
The state grant will go toward a production of “The Barber of Seville” and two world premieres. One being playwright Carey Harrison’s intriguing new play about Beethoven.
“Clairmonde” with Allison Cambridge will receive its first performance as well.
Kolb adds that, until now, there has been no money for staff in five years of existence and artists have accepted, for the most part, far less compensation than is normal for a summer festival engagement. They participate, he says, as an investment in a vision, which they believe, will become a legitimate “paying gig.”