At Your Service: Nov. 11, 2009

Thanksgiving Day may still be a couple of weeks away, but this week begins the season of PDAs – public displays of appreciation. Yes, this week nominations for the 12th Annual Catskill Best Service Awards begin.
When I conceived these awards, I thought of it as a one-time event. Thirteen years later, News Publisher Dick Sanford and I still have a conversation about whether the Awards are relevant before going to press. This year it seems more important than ever to give people the opportunity to express their appreciation to local businesses and people.
There are many ways to say “thank you” to businesses; the most direct is to simply give them our business. Many businesses, however, provide services that are needed infrequently. When I work late in my office, I am reminded of the electrician who wired the building, making it possible for me to go to work without leaving home. Even though I am appreciative, I don’t pick up the phone to thank him for work done two years ago.
Everyone seems to be spending a little less this year, not just because almost everyone has a little less to spend, but because hard times have also reawakened the value of savings. Whatever money we do have is going increasingly to cover the basics. The cost of gasoline may not have reached the high peaks of the recent past, but gas prices have been creeping back up, followed closely by the cost of everything that requires transportation to reach us. Between reduced spending and higher costs, businesses are feeling the squeeze.
Running a business is always a challenge; narrowing profit margins make it even more difficult. The pressure can be more oppressive in rural communities. Yet, when you walk into our local shops the greetings you receive are still warm and friendly. Service providers seem to be even more sensitive to our needs, responsive to our requests and generally helpful.
The Catskill Best Service Awards offer the opportunity to say thank you for doing a great job to both businesses and individuals. While most of us say a personal thank you when we receive great service, the awards make a public statement. We may recommend someone to our friends; the awards extend the reach of our endorsement to those we don’t know.
The participation of readers is what gives life to the awards. Your nominations enable us to identify those whose work merits recognition. The ballot appears elsewhere in this paper and will continue to run through the balance of the year. As before, it is split into two primary sections: one for businesses, the other for individual service providers. The sections then break down into various business/service categories. Results will be announced in January.
While tabulating the results, I find the comments of readers to be fascinating. Many people add comments expressing exactly why someone has been nominated; these serve as a source point for the news features regaling the winners. While every year provides a few pleasant surprises, there have also been occasions when incomplete or inaccurate information has denied someone the recognition they might have earned. After naming each business or individual, please include enough information for them to be easily identified, especially the town in which a business is located and where an individual works or the service is performed.
Thank you for your participation, we look forward to receiving your ballots.