By Jennifer O’Connor
Mayor of Warwick, England, Stephen Cross, and his wife, Christine, the former Mayoress also of Warwick, England, were given a warm welcome and received the royal treatment during their stay in the Village of Warwick. Members of the community were extremely excited to meet the English guests and, like celebrities, often took pictures with them during the many events they attended in celebration of Warwick’s 150th anniversary.
The Mayor and Mayoress, who are both completely down-to-earth, preferred that everyone call them by their first names. They truly enjoyed every aspect of their visit in Warwick, but most important to them, was getting to know the people, which makes Warwick the special place it is.
“It has been exactly as I thought it would be, but only better,” said Mayor Cross. “We received such a warm reception from everyone.”
To get a feel for the Town itself, the Mayor and Mayoress went to Town Hall on Thurs., Aug. 3 to meet with Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton. While looking at the plaque in Town Hall of the names of local residents who served in the Revolutionary War, Mayor Cross pointed out his surname. David Cross is one of the many names on the plaque.
“There are a lot of English names on there,” said Mayor Cross.
Sweeton then showed them around the building and introduced them to the Town Clerk Eileen Astorino, Tax Assessor Deborah Eurich, Police Chief Tom McGovern, and Lt. Thomas Maslanka. Sweeton also presented them with a gift basket and a replica of the Town seal, which they were grateful to receive.
Supervisor Sweeton, along with Village of Warwick Mayor Newhard and several others, then drove to the Black Dirt region to meet with Frank Dagele. The Cross’ were given a tour of Dagele Brothers Produce in the Black Dirt Region of Florida, NY, which is a 550-acre farm that grows a variety of vegetables.
While standing on a road in the middle of the farm, between two lush fields of the black dirt lined with soybeans on one side and celery on the other, Christine Cross delighted in having a bite of fresh celery. She said it was the best celery she ever tasted.
After touring the farm, the Mayor and Mayoress spoke on a radio show at WTBQ with Mayor Newhard and Sesquicentennial Event Coordinator Mary Collura. They talked about their visit and how excited they are to participate in the celebration.
“Not twenty-four hours have we been here and the vibes from the community are very high,” said Mayor Cross on WTBQ.
When they finished the radio show they had lunch at Charlotte’s Tea Room on Oakland Ave. The Mayor and Mayoress said that they were astonished as to how much Warwick, England is similar to Warwick, NY. They showed a photo of themselves that was taken on their cell phone in their hometown, and the buildings in the background resembled Grappa Ristorante and other buildings on Railroad Ave.
“I already came to the conclusion from the experience of going to various places the commonality that we have,” said Mayor Cross. “We went out to the countryside today and met with a farmer and we talk to people like that in Britain as well. We find this commonality – that ordinary people are part of changing the world.”
Mayor Cross and Christine were grateful to the community for their generosity, and to David and Robin Eaton, who drove them to various places throughout the Town during their stay, and to George Arnott, who reached out to them months ago, about the Village’s celebration, and helped coordinate their visit.
Mayor & Mayoress Tour West Point
Arnott, the Chair of the Time Capsule Sesquicentennial committee, along with Joe Debold, also helped to coordinate a private tour of West Point on Fri., Aug. 4 for Christine and Stephen, who is a military buff. Along with Arnott and Debold, also joining them on the tour were Village of Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard, Village Trustee Bill Lindberg and Mary Collura, the Sesquicentennial Event Coordinator.
West Point Protocol Specialist Jillian Rodriguez greeted everyone, while Command Historian Sherman Fleek led the insightful tour in which he explained the history of West Point and the architectural style of the buildings. Other highlights of the tour included the breathtaking scenic overlook view of the Hudson River Valley at Trophy Point and the West Point Cemetery.
Visiting the cemetery was very moving for Mayor Newhard. Unbeknownst to him, Arnott informed Protocol Specialist Rodriguez that the Mayor’s grandfather was buried in the cemetery, but he didn’t know where and had not visited his grave. Rodriquez had researched the section of the cemetery where Newhard’s grandfather, was laid to rest, and took him there. Newhard said he was a young child when his grandfather died.
To be among the many men and women who served their country and sacrificed their lives for others, it was a solemn moment. After leaving the cemetery, they all went to the Garrison Commander’s building where they were honored to meet the Garrison Commander, Colonel Andrew Hanson. Col. Hanson welcomed everyone and explained how he is much like a “mayor” or “city manager.”
Col. Hanson, a Special Forces Officer, is responsible for the maintenance of West Point that includes everything from Department of Public works to the water and sewer treatment plant. He oversees over 1,000 civilian employees and about 100 soldiers that work at West Point. The Colonel presented both Mayors with pewter platters that had “West Point” engraved on them. Before the conclusion of the private tour, they all ate lunch in the Mess Hall with about ten cadets. They Mayors felt honored, once again, to have a meal and conversation with the cadets.
Other highlights of their visit to Warwick included a hike on the Appalachian Trail and attending cocktail parties at the Ketchum House and at the Lewis Estate, where they met many wonderful people. They also enjoyed their stay at the Warwick Valley Bed and Breakfast on Maple Ave., which was within walking distance of the Village. They often strolled along Main St. where they visited the shops.
About the experience of meeting the Mayor and Mayoress, Mayor Newhard said, “The commonality has been fascinating and surprising and reassuring. For a place to be as old as Warwickshire is, and for us as young as we are, but have so much in common, sparks a friendship, camaraderie and a relationship.”