Seneca County Chamber of Commerce Holds 49th Annual Dinner Meeting & Awards Ceremony

The Seneca County Chamber of Commerce held its 49th Annual Dinner Meeting on January 19 to a sold-out crowd of 375 at Club 86 in Geneva. The event, sponsored by Lyons National Bank, featured live entertainment, a year in review video, presentations from board leadership, live and silent auctions, and several award presentations (full award write ups, bios and quotes included below).

Pictured from left to right; Michael F. Nozzolio (Lifetime Achievement award recipient), Dennis Money (Citizen of the Year), Brandi Rozelle (Rising Star), Tom Murray (Business of the Year), Nancy Murray, Mary Murray, Blane Murray, Jeff Shipley (Chamber President/CEO), Senator Pam Helming, Assemblyman Brian Kolb, Assemblyman Phil Palmesano and Andrew Wilber (Representative from Congressman Tom Reed’s Office).

2017 Business of the Year- Presented to: Muranda Cheese Company
(Sponsored by del Lago Resort & Casino)

Lifetime Achievement Award- Presented to: Michael F. Nozzolio
(Sponsored by MRB Group)

Citizen of the Year Award- Presented to: Dennis Money
(Sponsored by Five Star Bank)

2017 Rising Star Award- Presented to: Brandi Rozelle
(Sponsored by ITT Goulds Pumps)

Additional award information:

2017 Business of the Year Award
Presented to: Muranda Cheese Company
Sponsored by: del Lago Resort & Casino

[Criteria: The Business of the Year must be a member of the Chamber and have been established for two or more years. Nominees are recognized for member service, contributions to the growth of our economy and outstanding business achievement.]

For more than two decades, the Murray family has been raising some of the world’s most highly regarded Holstein cattle on their dairy farm in Waterloo, NY. Known for their distinctive color markings and exceptional milk quality, the Murray’s Holsteins have helped transform the family business and the Finger Lakes into a renowned cheese maker.

In 2007, Tom and Nancy Murray opened the Muranda Cheese Company as a way to diversify the business and provide another opportunity to showcase their high quality milk.

Using milk exclusively from their Holsteins, Muranda Cheese started production with three types of cheeses. Since then, the company has expanded its selection to include more than 15 different artisan varieties, including: Colby, British Aged Cheddar, smoked Gouda and their “Muranda Blue Cheese” – which won an award for Best in New York State.

The operation is a labor of love for the entire family, as Tom and Nancy are responsible for the day-to-day operations along with their son Blane and daughter in-law Mary. Meanwhile, the Murray’s other children, Dan and Kendra, are active in selling the product in their “home” markets.

From the beginning, the Murray’s have worked to provide both products and an overall experience that is meant to compliment the region’s famous wine industry. In fact, one of Muranda’s most popular products is named “Red Buddy” because of its ability to pair so well with local red wine.

In 2017, the Murray’s made a historic investment in the business with the renovation of an existing barn into a new aging room, event space and tasting area. The expansion allowed Muranda to keep up with growing demand and increase their production. While considered a small business to some, the Muranda Cheese Company has had an enormous impact on the Finger Lakes Region’s agri-tourism economy.

“Whatever you do it should be your passion, then everything becomes easy; if you don’t have passion, it will be difficult.”
– Tom Murray

Lifetime Achievement Award
Presented to: Michael F. Nozzolio
Sponsored by: MRB Group

[Criteria: The Lifetime Achievement award recognizes the significant accomplishments of an individual and their impact on the growth of our community over a sustained period of time.]

Throughout his legislative service, Michael F. Nozzolio aggressively supported economic development initiatives in the Finger Lakes region that resulted in the creation of thousands of jobs in his district. He was born and raised in Seneca Falls, the son of Anna and Albert F. Nozzolio.

Educated in local schools, he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Labor Relations, and a Master’s degree in Public Administration and Agricultural Economics from Cornell University. He also earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Syracuse University College of Law.

Prior to his election to the State Senate (1993), he served for 10 years in the New York State Assembly representing Cayuga, Seneca and Wayne counties. During his tenure in the Assembly,
he was chosen to serve as Deputy Minority Leader. At the time, he was the youngest State legislator ever elected from his region.

He also served as a JAG officer in the U.S. Naval Reserves and was a Commander in the New York Naval Militia. He is currently a member of the Harris Beach law firm, where his primary focus is on matters relating to economic development, energy, cybersecurity, the food and beverage industry, government regulatory compliance and general corporate matters.

Senator Nozzolio is a two-time recipient of the Father Joseph P. Beatini Memorial Award for contributions to community and charitable endeavors. He is a Paul Harris Fellow, a recognition from Rotary International for exceptional contributions to “doing good in the world” and was the recipient of the prestigious Jerome Alpern Distinguished Alumni Award from Cornell University.

Other recognition include honors from: the NYS Farm Bureau, Manufacturers Association of Central NY, National Federation of Independent Business, the Smith Center for the Arts, Happiness House, the New York Association for Behavioral Analysis, Boy Scouts of America and the Finger Lakes Library Association.

“I’d like people to think that we worked hard (on behalf of the region); know that we were always fighting for their interests; and, hopefully left a legacy (of lasting projects) that will continue to be enjoyed for decades to come.”
– Michael F. Nozzolio

Citizen of the Year Award
Presented to: Dennis Money
Sponsored by: Five Star Bank

[Criteria: The Lifetime Achievement award recognizes the significant accomplishments of an individual and their impact on the growth of our community over a sustained period of time.]

Dennis Money is a man of conviction, determination and action. His inspirational efforts to help preserve and protect the region’s natural assets are derived from a genuine love of the area and all things in it.

Born in Rome, NY, Dennis always had a passion for playing baseball and being in the woods. As a child, his curiosity with nature was inspired by reading wildlife stories from author Ernest Thompson Seton.

Following stints as a local science teacher and an instructor for the United States Atomic Energy Commission, Dennis served for almost thirty years as the principle environmental analyst at the Rochester Gas & Electric Company. During that time, Dennis led a historic project – helping RG&E become the state’s first and only approved business entity to “hack” (raise) Peregrine Falcons and release them back into the wild. At the time, the birds had been virtually eradicated from the region due to pesticide poisoning. Aggressive conservation efforts, such as the one Dennis organized, have resulted in a steady increase to the Peregrine’s numbers.

In the years since, Dennis has been at the forefront of conservation efforts aimed at helping other wildlife such as: river otters, sturgeon and kestrel.

Another species that has greatly benefitted from his work has been Seneca County’s unique herd of white, white-tailed deer. From the 1940’s until 2000, the white deer were protected within the fenced confines of an active military base. Since the Army Depot’s closure, the white deer have been exposed and endangered.

Dennis helped organize an effort to protect and promote the Seneca White Deer. The group attracted international media attention, raised thousands of dollars for conservation efforts and aggressively fought to establish a permanent habitat for the deer to thrive.

In 2017, after forming a partnership with local businessman Earl Martin, the group realized a nearly two decades-long dream of having a permanent White Deer Conservation area and eco-tourism facility.

“I feel an obligation to protect the fragile inhabitants of our local ecosystem. Hopefully, my lasting legacy will be that I helped make the world a better place.”
– Dennis Money

Rising Star Award
Presented to: Brandi Rozelle
Sponsored by: ITT Goulds Pumps

[Criteria: The Lifetime Achievement award recognizes the significant accomplishments of an individual and their impact on the growth of our community over a sustained period of time.]

Brandi Rozelle was born and raised in the Finger Lakes Region. From an early age, she was drawn to helping others learn and succeed— especially children. Her own educational journey would include degrees from Canandaigua Academy, Finger Lakes Community College and Keuka College. She was committed to the pursuit of a career in teaching and focused on early childhood development.

Her professional career began as an Early Head Start teacher in Auburn along with work as a Family Educator at the Child and Family Resources, Inc.

It was through those experiences, that Brandi honed her teaching abilities – seeing marked success with hands-on programmatic lessons. In 2011, Brandi joined the Waterloo Library and Historical Society. Her goal was to become the Children’s librarian – a role that would allow her to focus on children’s literacy initiatives.

Within a short period of time, her passion for the job and unique skill set paved the way to greater job responsibilities. She was promoted to Library Manager with an opportunity for advancement to Library Director.

The leadership position required a Masters Degree in Information & Library Science – an accomplishment that Brandi realized in 2016, graduating from the University at Buffalo.

During her tenure as Library Director, Brandi has helped the Waterloo Library become a leader in the region. The library has the top circulation (in the entire countywide system) of books, dvd’s and audio books. Her innovative programming and transformative initiatives have helped turn the local library into a community resource and dynamic agent of change.

“It is an honor to be recognized for my work and accomplishments in helping make our library a place of enjoyment for everyone…more than just a place of books.”
– Brandi Rozelle