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Story and Photos by Willow Baum
Business owner and community leader Phil Vallone will be honored with the Sullivan County Partnership’s Walter A. Rhulen Award during its 22nd Annual Meeting October 6 in Rock Hill.
“We are delighted to recognize the Vallones’ contributions to our region,” said Marc Baez, President of the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development. “Every time the Partnership or Chamber asks for anything, Phil and (partner and spouse) Donna are always there,” said Baez of the Brooklyn and Queens-born duo whom in their youth spent summers on opposite mountains near Roscoe where they met.
The Rhulen Award, presented annually, recognizes lifetime achievement by an individual for business excellence, community commitment and service to humanity. Investment and expansion of the Vallones’ flagship company in the region, Rolling V Bus Corp., and their willingness to take risks on new ventures, are “traits Walter (Rhulen) stood for,” said Baez.
For more than 50 years Rolling V Bus Corp. has provided regional school bus services, charter coach and taxi transportation services. Of decades of achievements, Phil Vallone still takes most pride in “getting kids to and from school safely.” Some 4,500 school children, in fact, throughout Sullivan and Ulster County.
“The Vallones have been here awhile, and have made a difference, especially in Roscoe,” said Baez.
When Roscoe vied for the $25,000 first prize in 2011 as the Ultimate Fishing Town from the World Fishing Network Contest, Vallone said “county government, radio stations pitched in to help us win in the eleventh hour. Thirty Trout Parade floats went around town twice that year!”
Contagious enthusiasm inspired business and community leaders to invest in properties, open new businesses along Stewart Avenue. An idea struck Vallone: Roscoe should have its own beer.
Two years later Vallone opened the Roscoe Beer Company at 145 Rockland Road, and in May 2015, added a new 1,600-square-foot tasting room.
“When the tasting room opened, most people who came we hadn’t seen before,” said Vallone. “We’ve always had a strong second homeowner community, and now the brewery gives them another reason to come into town.”
“Energy begets energy,” said Vallone crediting people like Sims and Kirsten Harlow Foster, dining/lodging proprietors of The Arnold House, The North Branch Inn and Nine River Road, for building energy and confidence throughout the region.
Jennifer Grimes of Red Cottage, a company specializing in upstate New York vacation rentals, is “by all accounts successful” and, “of course, the energy of Sandra and Alan Gerry resulted in Bethel Woods and Sullivan Renaissance.
“Donna and I are riding that wave, and helping to keep that wave going. We’ve been fortunate in our success,” Vallone said.
“You know you have something good when people come back,” said Phil of the many repeat customers of Roscoe Beer Company as well as Creekside Cabins and Creekside Bed & Bath, operated by Donna Vallone. “We’re all here because we love this area. People can choose their second home anywhere, and they choose to make here home.
“When newcomers discover Sullivan County, they discover reasons to come out of the mountains. Water is clean. Air is fresh. Trees and mountains are beautiful. There are things to do. That’s the case 100 years ago. That’s the case today,” he said.