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Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce honors Citizen of the Year

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Three deserving recipients and retiring Executive Director Sandra M. Porter were honored at Friday’s annual Greater Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce Awards Dinner at the Gran-View Restaurant.

Joseph M. Basta received the chamber’s Citizen of the Year award for his philanthropic spirit and community involvement. A life-long resident of the city, Mr. Basta’s flower shop, landscaping business and greenhouses have been a staple in the city for the past 65 years.

A third generation owner of the family business, Mr. Basta said he credits his grandparents for helping him get where he is today, and his parents for instilling in him his love for the community.

His flowers were featured, for free, on the Save the Psychiatric Center Float in this year’s Seaway Festival, and Mr. Basta has given his time and money to many community organizations.

“I strongly feel that your business is only as good as your community,” Mr. Basta said. “Ogdensburg is a great community that has given so much to me and the generations before me. We may all grumble a bit about Ogdensburg but we love our city. We have all been able to raise families here in a safe, friendly environment. We have citizens that support your endeavors. We have customers who have become friends and we have employees who have become family.”

Dawn M. Merz, second vice president of the chamber, said of Mr. Basta, “For many decades you have conducted business in matters of the heart in your work and in your community efforts. You have truly enabled the city of Ogdensburg to bloom as one of its most treasured and deeply rooted citizens.”

That sentiment was echoed by Charles “Chuck” W. Kelly who said, “There are not many people in this community who have been involved in as many things as Joe Basta.”

“He’s earned this award,” Mr. Kelly added.

Hosmer’s Marina, which opened in 2012, took home this year’s Business Improvement Award and Mrs. Merz said owner William D. Hosmer demonstrates the entrepreneurial spirit this city needs.

“You saw a diamond in the rough, and by rough I mean a waterfront albatross that was once a sad city ruin but you rebuilt it with vision and purpose, bringing opportunity to our fair city,” Mrs. Merz said. “You created jobs and encouraged boaters and anglers to stay and shop local. You reinvested in this community, not only in dollars but in spirit and in the promise of believing in what this place can and should be.”

Nicholas Wright, a friend of Mr. Hosmer, praised Mr. Hosmer for his community spirit, noting that in the past year alone he has opened his business up to music festivals, a duathlon series, and fundraisers for the Ogdensburg Boys and Girls Club and the effort to save the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center among many others.

Hosmer’s Marina has also sponsored numerous sporting teams and fishing derbies, Mr. Wright said, adding, “What a tremendous asset Hosmer’s Marina has quickly become to this community.”

Mr. Hosmer said, “Over the past couple years we’ve expanded our business many times over and we’re going to continue to expand the business in the future.”

“In order to be successful you need to support your community and reinvest money into your business,” he added. “We live by that philosophy.”

The Ogdensburg Pride and Beautification Commission was the recipient of the chamber’s Outstanding Community Service Award for its work to keep Ogdensburg beautiful.

“Your work and vision is not often associated with the faces, but instead with the beauty that you have quietly bestowed around our city,” Mrs. Merz said. “Your touches and sentiment have delighted many and yet have been thanked aloud by very few. We applaud you.”

Mayor William D. Nelson, who oversaw the creation of the commission in 2000, said, “This is a group of individuals who have given tirelessly of themselves to the betterment of our community.”

Mr. Nelson went on to applaud their work in the city, including the mass daffodil plantings near Fort la Presentation and in Flatiron Park.

Mary Ann Narcarvicius, who accepted the award on behalf of the commission, said, “We all think Ogdensburg is great. By working together, with the city government, the service organizations, the school, with citizens, on projects to enhance the natural beauty of Ogdensburg, we can make the ‘burg an even greater place to live, work and recreate.”

At the end of the ceremony Ms. Porter was called to the front to be honored for her service. For the past seven years the chamber has been led by Ms. Porter who announced her retirement, effective Dec. 31, in September.

“While I could quite possibly bench press her with one hand while enjoying an éclair with the other, I would also take her into battle with me any day of the week when it comes to this city,” Mrs. Merz said. “Her feisty, will-do attitude has helped our city flex its muscles and grow in commerce and tourism. Mohammad Ali’s right hook was nothing compared to this woman’s size five drop kick to naysayers who said, ‘it can’t be done.’ Ogdensburg is better, stronger and prouder because of you Sandy, and I bow to your commitment for that. And I’m not alone.”

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