Oswego, N.Y. - The Oswego County Tourism Advisory Council recently presented its 2011 Tourism Ambassador Hall of Fame Awards to the Bridgehouse Brats of Phoenix, Richard and Naneen Drosse of Minetto, and Fred Kuepper of Mexico. The annual awards recognize extraordinary support and commitment of time and energy to the Oswego County tourism industry. Edwin Lighthall, chairman of the Tourism Advisory Council, presented the awards to the Bridgehouse Brats and the Drosses at recent meetings of the Tourism Advisory Council. Fran Verdoliva, Salmon River Program Coordinator for the NYS DEC, presented Kuepper his award at the Salmon River Fish Hatchery open house. Lighthall said the Bridgehouse Brats are "an amazing group of young volunteers" who greet visitors and boaters on their way through the locks of the Oswego Canal during the summer months. Organized and supervised by Cathy Lee, they have maintained the park and the bridgehouse museum for more than 10 years, serving free coffee and lemonade, running errands, and even delivering lunch and groceries. "Their good deeds and reputation have traveled way beyond the village of Phoenix," said Lighthall. "We are very proud of their contribution to tourism in Oswego County. Congratulations to their founder, Cathy Lee and co-founder Carole Sponable, and all the members of the Bridgehouse Brats!" Richard and Naneen Drosse of Minetto were recognized for their work on a number of environmental and community projects. "They have been instrumental in raising public awareness of the spread of water chestnuts in the local waterways," said Lighthall. "Their efforts have definitely had an impact in controlling the spread of water chestnuts along the Oswego River corridor. Under their leadership, the Friends of Great Bear have re-established and maintained more than six miles of trails, and built several bridges and benches at Great Bear Farm overlooking the Oswego River." The couple also helps to organize the annual Magic in Minetto event, as well as Earth Day clean-ups, Environmental Management Council projects, and Minetto beautification activities. Fred Kuepper was recognized for his leadership in organizing several fly fishing instruction programs and bringing Project Healing Waters to Oswego County. "Fred has great respect and appreciation for the natural resources of Oswego County and he reflects those qualities in the many groups and volunteer activities that he is involved in," said Verdoliva. For the past several years Kuepper served as regional coordinator for Project Healing Waters, a volunteer group that helps wounded military veterans re-adjust to daily life through fly-fishing. He oversaw Project Healing Waters programs in New York State, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey. In Oswego County, Kuepper organized trips for wounded veterans on the Salmon River and recruited licensed guides, donations of meals, lodging, tackle and other supplies to assist in these annual events. Through the Tug Hill/Black River chapter of Trout Unlimited, Kuepper organized several women's fly fishing seminars in cooperation with the DEC. He is also involved in stream cleanups, brook trout studies, Atlantic salmon re-stocking and other conservation projects. Kuepper is a licensed guide and operates Fred's Outdoor Adventure Guide Service. The Tourism Advisory Council has presented the Tourism Ambassador award since 1995. Past recipients include Verdoliva, The Palladium-Times, and Barbara Lighthall, 2010; Margaret Clerkin, County Legislator Louella LeClair, and Mercedes Niess, 2009; David Rath and James Wright in 2008; Paul Lear, 2007; Mike Redding, 2006; Doug Ververs, Donald Feck and Hank Cosselman, 2005; Fred Crisafulli, 2002; Capt. Dick Pfund, 2001; Shirley Guenthner, 2000; Jim Walker, 1999; Tim Nekritz, 1998; Barbara Egelston and Charles Krupke, 1997; Sandy Resnick, 1996; and Helen Chetney and Edwin Lighthall, 1995. The council presented an honorary lifetime achievement award to Krupke in 2007. Members of the Tourism Advisory Council are appointed by Legislature Chairman Barry Leemann and represent businesses, museums and historic sites, events and attractions throughout Oswego County.
###Photo captions TOURISM AMBASSADORS - The Bridgehouse Brats surround their founder, Cathy Lee, and AmeriCorps member Anthony Furco at the Phoenix Bridgehouse. The group was presented the Oswego County Tourism Ambassador Award by the County Tourism Advisory Council. NANEEN AND RICHARD DROSSE receive a Tourism Ambassador Award from Edwin Lighthall (left), chairman of the Oswego County Tourism Advisory Council. They have organized water chestnut removal projects, Earth Day cleanups, Great Bear Farm trail expansion, and community events in Minetto for several years. FRED KUEPPER, center, received a Tourism Ambassador Award at the Salmon River Fish Hatchery open house in Altmar in recognition of his contributions to Project Healing Waters, fishing education and conservation projects in Oswego County. Looking on are Salmon River Program Coordinator Fran Verdoliva and Janet Clerkin, Tourism and Public Information Coordinator for the Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning.