Griffo presents New York State Senate Commendation Awards

At a special ceremony today at Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, New York State Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-I-C-Rome, presented New York State Commendation Awards to several members of the community.

The award is one way the Senate recognizes exceptional people who have made a lasting contribution to their community.

Those honored included:

  • Rocco Arcuri, president and CEO of Adirondack Bank.
  • Marcelline Bilton, retired educator and community advocate.
  • Boyd Bissell, partner in Heidelberg Bread Company
  • Pierre Bedard, partner in Heidelberg Bread Company
  • Mark Bolos, musician and local business owner
  • Shelly Callahan, executive director of The Center
  • Laura Casamento, president of Utica University
  • Alicia Dicks, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties
  • Bruce Hairston, branch director at the Rome YMCA
  • David Grow, local attorney
  • Rick E. Lewis, arts advocate
  • Yvonne McClusky, former executive director of the North Utica Senior Citizens Community Center
  • Stephen Merran, media professional
  • Rev. Maritza Perez, pastor of Maranatha Church in Rome
  • John Pitarresi, retired Observer-Dispatch sportswriter and outdoors columnist
  • Ben Simons, farmer and agriculture advocate
  • Louis Tehan, president and CEO of Upstate Caring Partners
  • Angela Vanderhoof, former executive director of the Oneida-Lewis ARC
  • Kelly Walters, executive director of 50 Forward Mohawk Valley


Ray Halbritter, Oneida Indian Nation representative and CEO of its enterprises, was unable to attend the ceremony.

Honorees received a personalized plaque and commendation coin as part of the ceremony.

“It is a great pleasure to recognize these individuals,” Sen. Griffo said. “Each has shown remarkable commitment and dedication to improving their communities. Their exceptional work has truly made their communities and the region a better place for all.”