OSWEGO COUNTY - The Oswego County Tourism Advisory Council awarded its 2019 Tourism Ambassador Hall of Fame Award at the group’s year-end meeting. David Rath, council chairman, presented the award to this year’s recipient, Oswego County Administrator Philip R. Church.
“Each year, this recognition is awarded to an individual, business or organization for their extraordinary support and commitment of time and energy to the Oswego County tourism industry,” said Rath. “Phil’s wealth of knowledge and appreciation of our county’s history and natural resources have been invaluable in helping to shape the mission and direction of the tourism and public information office. His support has helped to create a $166 million tourism industry in Oswego County and improve the quality of life for our residents and visitors.”
Church joined the ranks of county government as a research technician in 1990. He worked his way up through the ranks to county administrator by serving “in the trenches” and hauling displays to various consumer shows and events, from the county fair in Sandy Creek to the world’s largest fishing show in Harrisburg, Pa. He taught himself website coding to build the first county government website from the ground up and authored several award-winning brochures.
Oswego County Community Development, Tourism and Planning Department Director David Turner added, “As county administrator, Phil’s support has been invaluable in protecting bed tax revenues for the purpose they were intended – to promote tourism and attract visitors to our county. His vision and ongoing support have allowed the department to be flexible in fulfilling its mission to bring visitors to the county.”
One of Church’s latest endeavors is the proposed designation of a 1,700-acre marine sanctuary along the eastern shore of Lake Ontario. With 22 shipwrecks, one aircraft wreck and many more likely possibilities, this area is considered one of the most historically significant regions in the Great Lakes according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“Last April, NOAA took the first step in the designation process to protect these historically significant shipwrecks and our maritime heritage resources,” said Turner. “This is a result of Phil’s leadership and the partnerships he created with our four neighboring counties as well as state and federal agencies and local businesses and organizations. He has been a true advocate of the county’s tourism industry and remains committed to its growth.”
The Tourism Advisory Council has presented Tourism Ambassador Awards since 1995. Past recipients include Capt. Kevin Davis in 2018 (posthumously); Oswego County Historian Justin White in 2017; the Lioness Club of Central Square and the Tailwater Lodge in 2016; Oswego County Legislator Jacob A. Mulcahey, District 15, Linda Middleton, the Oswego County Snowmobile Association and Arlene Johnson in 2015; Oswego County Legislator Margaret Kastler, District 1, Carole Sponable and Winona Forest Recreation Association in 2014; Robert Green, James Hotchkiss and Oswego County Legislator Morris Sorbello, District 23 in 2013; Oswego County legislators Shane Broadwell, District 17 and Shawn Doyle, District 3 in 2012; Bridgehouse Brats of Phoenix, Richard and Naneen Drosse and Fred Kuepper in 2011; Barbara Lighthall, The Palladium-Times and Fran Verdoliva in 2010; Margaret Clerkin, Oswego County Legislator Louella LeClair, District 25 and Mercedes Niess in 2009; David Rath and James Wright in 2008; Paul Lear in 2007; Mike Redding in 2006; Hank Cosselman, Donald Feck and Doug Ververs in 2005; Fred Crisafulli in 2002; Capt. Dick Pfund in 2001; Shirley Guenthner in 2000; Jim Walker in 1999; Tim Nekritz in 1998; Barbara Egelston and Charles Krupke in 1997; Sandy Resnick in 1996; and Helen Chetney and Edwin Lighthall in 1995.
The council has also presented honorary lifetime achievement awards to Charles Krupke in 2007, Lillian Harter in 2012, Rose Driscoll in 2014 and Margaret Kastler and Milferd Potter in 2019.
Members of the Tourism Advisory Council are appointed by the Oswego County Legislature Chairman and represent businesses, recreational and historic sites and museums, events and attractions throughout Oswego County.