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The Telegram
  • Awards, dedication kick off Rock the Canal Weekend

  • Gems Along the Mohawk kicked off Rock the Canal Weekend in a big way Friday.

    The Gems Along the Mohawk conference room was rededicated to the Genesis Group as the “Genesis - East Room,” the first six Gems of Distinction recipients were recognized and Captain Jerry Gertz dedicated his newest Erie Canal cruise boat, Lil’ Diamond III.

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  • Gems Along the Mohawk kicked off Rock the Canal Weekend in a big way Friday.
    The Gems Along the Mohawk conference room was rededicated to the Genesis Group as the “Genesis - East Room,” the first six Gems of Distinction recipients were recognized and Captain Jerry Gertz dedicated his newest Erie Canal cruise boat, Lil’ Diamond III.
    Renee Scialdo Shevat, owner and developer of Gems Along the Mohawk, welcomed those who gathered for Rock the Canal Weekend, adding there are plans to make it an annual event.
    Ray Durso, executive director of the Genesis Group of the Mohawk Valley Region, and Gene Quadaro, president of Genesis, were on hand with Shevat to unveil the newly rededicated conference room. The Genesis Group’s primary office and conference room is in the Carucci Center, Utica.
    Durso announced F.X. Matt Brewing Company, Utica College, Nirvana Natural Spring Water, Bassett Healthcare Network, Herkimer Diamond KOA and Beech-Nut Nutrition Corporation were chosen as “Gems of Distinction - in a Six County Regional Showcase.”
    The program is designed to promote businesses and organizations that believe in the philosophy, “The future begin today,” according to a news release issued by the Genesis Group.
    “This recognition embodies the future of New York state and in particular the Mohawk Valley region in Upstate New York,” said Durso. “The Gems of Distinction initiative will highlight businesses and organizations that exhibit criteria as being future oriented, creating unique sustainable efforts, developing team creativity and collaboration, displaying exceptional leadership, advancing regional commitment and is unequivocally an economic generator.”
    He said the Gems of Distinction Showcase will be on display in the Genesis Group - East Room at Gems Along the Mohawk. Each business and organization selected will be featured in a new 3D profile that will remain on display for a year and will then remain on permanent display at Gems Along the Mohawk.
    The Genesis Group plans to select six new businesses and organizations within the six county Regional Economic Development Council district, which includes Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego and Schoharie counties.
    Durso said the Genesis Group hopes the initiative will serve as a model for other regions of the state.
    The Gems of Distinction recognitions were presented to representatives of the businesses and organizations being honored.
    “I feel like a proud mama,” said Shevat, who accepted the award for the Herkimer Diamond KOA as president and owner, and noted she is also involved in the Genesis Group and serves on the board at Bassett Healthcare.
    Nick Matt, who accepted the award on behalf of F.X. Matt Brewing Company, expressed his thanks and added the next time Gertz dedicates a boat, he should do it with a bottle of Saranac.
    Page 2 of 2 - “This truly embodies the spirit of looking to the future,” said state Sen. James Seward, R - Oneonta. “We all need to work together to keep moving forward.” He praised the Genesis Group and Shevat for their leadership and said, “When I go back to the capital I’m going to tell others that we truly have a model program here in the Mohawk Valley region.”
    Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi echoed those thoughts. “When I go to Albany or New York City, I love talking about what a great program we have here. Hopefully it will serve as a model for others across the state.”
    “When we work together, the opportunities are endless,” said Herkimer Mayor Mark Ainsworth.
    After the presentations, those in attendance headed outside for the dedication of Lil’ Diamond III.
    Gertz said he first began offering Erie Canal cruises here in 2003 with the original Lil’ Diamond and about 1,500 people took the cruise. This year, with both the Lil’ Diamond II and the Lil’ Diamond III in operation, he expects that figure will be about 15,000. Bus tours bring passengers to the Erie Canal cruise operation and money to the region, he said.
    “Tourists don’t know where the county line is,” said Gertz. “We’re all in this together.”
    After a ceremony that involved all of those present, Seward, Brindisi and Ken Tompkins, who represented Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, joined Gertz on the dock to dedicate the Lil’ Diamond III with champagne - and a bottle of Saranac.
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