Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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April 20th, 2012

Sullivan County Shines During Time of Tragedy

We may be one of the poorest counties, but when a tragedy strikes we are the richest. The resolve of our people continually amazes me. I have said it time and time again, the people of Sullivan County are some of the most caring and dedicated people.
Although The Grandview might be gone forever, what lives on is a legacy of people who professionally came together in a tragic time of need.

Thank God no one was killed or severely injured in the rapidly spreading inferno. Thank God for our unsung heroes who are always there for us. Our brave volunteer firefighters and rescue workers are truly our heroes.
Firefighter Barry Hoovis, who was on the scene delivering water to those fighting the blaze said, “We all worked as a team. Everyone knew their roles.”

Public Safety Commissioner Richard Martinkovic and his staff must be praised for their quick on the spot coordinating efforts. The professionalism and compassion of law enforcement and all of the responders was astonishing.

I visited the makeshift shelter at SCCC, and saw firsthand the hard working Red Cross volunteers comforting Grandview residents. Those in need were given food, shelter, emergency kits, and were assisted in filling out reports.

David Seigerman, Director of Public Safety at SCCC said, “We are a community college, the community needs us, and we are all here to step up for the community.”

Grandview residents I spoke with were shocked and in disbelief. Shivers ran up my spine as they told me their tragic stories. “I lost everything,” a woman cried to me.

“It’s all so sad. There was no other place like the Grandview,” said Rachel Belag who learned of the fire while at dinner.
Belag said she did not know where she will eventually live or if any of her possessions will ever be recovered.

Phyllis and Bert Haitmann said fire alarms going off at the Grandview were a way of life. They were angry with Town of Fallsburg officials and held them responsible for granting occupancy permits if they “knew it was a disaster waiting to happen.”

Others were outraged recently paid property taxes would not be returned.

Legislature Chairman Scott Samuelson, who was at the fire said, “Absolutely everyone was spot on in their response and the results were amazing. Things could have gone so differently. There are so many people and so many organizations that I could single out for their tireless commitment and accomplishment in making the best of a very bad situation, but for fear of leaving someone out I can only say how proud I am that I live among such incredible people.”

Samuelson added, “It was like watching a well oiled machine, as if everyone worked together in this situation every day. It was a seamless display of caring, efficiency, and immediacy. I am proud to call Sullivan County my home and want to personally thank each and every responder.”

Legislator Cora Edwards, who heads Public Safety, noted “as we shift from rescue mode to helping people put their lives back together, we want to acknowledge the strong community links that help us move from one day to the next at this very critical time.”

There will be theories as to why and how this fire started. Could it have been prevented? Should anyone be held accountable? All that will come later.

For now, we all have to thank God the outcome was not as severe as it could have been.

1 comment to Sullivan County Shines During Time of Tragedy

  • First and foremost, let me repeat the praise for our already-exhausted firefighters, who miraculously ensured that there was no loss of life during this record-breaking blaze, and actually managed to salvage some buildings, despite flames roaring 30+ feet in the air. The College and the Red Cross were phenomenal in the speed of their response, making a horrible night much more bearable, and residents I have spoken to have had nothing but praise for the way they and the Public Safety folks organized the rescue efforts.

    A number of community residents have also gone to great lengths to help their neighbors, and continue to do so, collecting donations of needed items and distributing them to victims. Please, if you are in need of clothing, hygiene products, furniture, household items, or leads to landlords or other services – or if you know anyone who is – go to, the Grandview Palace Relief Efforts page, for information about ongoing efforts. Those without internet access can also contact me, Melissa Parent, at (914) 806-2163.

    We still need donations! Furniture, kitchen goods, china, pots & pans, silverware, linens – new, or in excellent, gently-used condition – are all still being collected for distribution as victims arrange new housing, at Capital Storage on Rt. 52 in Liberty, during regular business hours. Those interested in making cash donations can also do so with confidence by contacting Kaytee Warren at the United Way in Monticello (794-1771), who is arranging grocery vouchers using these donations.

    Our emergency responders have proven themselves to be among the finest in the world – something which we take for granted until we need them, and realize exactly how valuable it is for a community to have such an amazing team of dedicated professionals ready to spring into action. Equally amazing has been the response of the community at large, with thousands joining the Facebook page to stay on top of relief developments, and so many merchants and residents going above and beyond to help their neighbors in their time of need. I am proud to be a part of such a fine group of people.

    Sullivan surely does shine!