September 14, 2011 —
Businessman Tim Lies said, “I come here from Kansas, land of the Wizard of Oz, and we certainly are not strangers to tornados and damage, but I’ve never seen anything quite like what we saw, driving down from Albany, the rivers out of their banks, the flooding, the school closings.”
Lies, who is president of Entertainment Trust Properties, a company that is working with Empire Resorts to develop a hotel and casino complex at the site of the old Concord Hotel, was speaking at a press conference at the government center on September 8. The purpose of the event was to announce a $100,000 donation from the two companies to charity organizations in Sullivan County to benefit the victims of the recent flooding.
The occasion prompted visits from representatives of Congressman Maurice Hinchey and state Senator John Bonacic. Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther attended, and said she was delighted that Sullivan County Federation for the Homeless, which had been scheduled for closure earlier this summer, was going to get a share of the funds. She said of the donation, “It is further proof that Empire is truly part of our community, and we are really, really happy to have them.”
Sullivan County chairman Jonathan Rouis commended the two companies, “not only for their extraordinary generosity but also for defining what it means to be a civic-minded business.”
A day after the press conference, Louis Cappelli, who lost ownership of the Concord property because of funding complications when the real estate market collapsed, and who is still involved with the revitalization of the site, said he became aware of the widespread damage in the area while at the Concord site on September 8, and would “be honored to join the fundraising effort they announced yesterday.”
In an email, Cappelli said he would match the other two organizations’ donation of $50,000 each.
At the news conference, Rouis said beside the Federation for the Homeless, other groups receiving the money include the Salvation Army, the Sullivan County Office for the Aging, the Sullivan County Veterans Service Agency and several church-based organizations in the western part of the county.