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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January 16th, 2014

Keeping Tabs for Us

Each and every municipality has a special person who records, monitors, archives, and is considered an authority on its history. When it comes to Sullivan County – We are fortunate to have the “Grand Puba” of historians – John Conway.

Conway just released his annual report to the Sullivan County Legislature and his work is quite impressive. His efforts afford our legislature, governmental officials, and other concerned parties to see where, why, and how we have succeeded and failed in the past.

Conway believes a municipal historian “should not be looked upon simply as an old guy who walks around talking about how things used to be. A municipal historian should be much more than a compiler of facts and figures and dates. An effective historian is a useful marketing tool who can serve as a powerful and persuasive communicator to prospective tourists, as well as businesses considering relocating here. Yesterday’s accomplishments and lessons, the events that define a region, the moments of motivation, inspiration, and perseverance, can provide a competitive advantage, today and in the future. It has been a difficult lesson to teach, but more and more municipalities are learning this and are taking more seriously the appointment of their official historians.”

Conway notes that through “the construction of historical models and timelines, a historian can demonstrate strategies that have worked and failed in the past and project the likely effectiveness of those strategies for the future. This is the legacy the current Sullivan County Historian has tried to build for himself. As in past years, much of his activity during 2013 was motivated by this approach.”

By state law, activities of Town and Village historians within the jurisdiction are coordinated by the County Historian. Conway has formulated plans to reinvigorate the association of municipal historians he formed several years ago. His plans include hosting a meeting with fellow historians and to provide mentoring and facilitating the sharing of resources.

In February Conway will celebrate his 21st anniversary as Sullivan County’s historian. He has served longer than anyone ever has.

Last spring Conway was awarded the designation of Registered Historian by the Association of Public Historians of New York State.

Conway was born and raised in Monticello, NY, educated at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia, and has been in the vanguard of the movement to chronicle and preserve local history for more than 25 years.

As an adjunct professor at SUNY-Sullivan, Conway teaches a class on local history. He has written six books, and expects a seventh to be completed shortly. He has also written for the Encyclopedia of New York State.

Conway is regularly asked to provide historical context for Sullivan County news events by the New York Times, Associated Press, and Fox News, among others. He has appeared on the Fox television series Million Dollar Mysteries, talking about gangster Dutch Schultz and his lost Catskills’ treasure, and on the BBC documentary, Stand Up America, discussing the role of the Borscht Belt on American comedy.

Conway was instrumental in the founding of The Delaware Company, a non-profit organization formed to promote and support the history and historic landmarks of the Upper Delaware River Valley, especially the county owned Fort Delaware Museum of Colonial History, for which it serves as a de facto “friends” group, and the Minisink Battleground Park, also owned and operated by the county. He is The Delaware Company’s first president.

In his role as president of The Delaware Company, the Historian worked diligently throughout the year with his wife Debra, the Director of Fort Delaware on devising ways of increasing heritage tourism in the region.

Conway told me that “economic development is hard work and it is something that must be committed to every day there is no magic bullet.”

To view Conway’s weekly retrospect column on Sullivan County and his 2013 Annual Report, please click this link

Thank you John Conway for all you do for Sullivan County – Your work is greatly appreciated.

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself on 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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