Best of the Hudson Valley 2008


(page 16 of 16)


* denotes Readers' Picks



Serge Madikians of Serevan
Chef Madikians was born into an Armenian family, grew up in Iran, moved to California in the 1980s, and later studied at the French Culinary Institute and with the celebrated Jean-Georges Vongerichten in New York. All these diverse influences come together to create his highly celebrated cuisine. Lucky for us, he finally settled in the Hudson Valley.

levon helm plays at a midnight ramble


The Levon Helm Band
Best known as the drummer and sometime-vocalist for the Band, Helm is a Woodstock resident who has taken to hosting “Midnight Rambles” in his barn/studio. Along with nine other musicians — including his daughter, Amy — Helm plays selections from the Band’s catalogue, as well as covers of popular songs by Randy Newman and Bruce Springsteen (to name two). The wildly popular sessions sometimes last into the wee hours — and are known to be a rockin’ good time.

*Golf Pro

Rhett Myers
For the third straight year, our readers have picked Myers — the teaching pro at the Vassar Golf Course in Poughkeepsie — as the guy they want to help them straighten out that slice. And with good reason — as coach of the Vassar women’s golf team, Myers guided the four-year-old program to an appearance at the NCAA national championships in 2007.

Example of Super Seniors

Masters Women’s Tennis Team at Club Fit
Jefferson Valley
Obviously, these eight ladies spend more time on the court than at the mall. They are all members of the Club Fit Jefferson Valley masters women’s tennis team, which served and volleyed its way to a national title in Mobile, Alabama in April. The team qualified for the championship after scorching the competition at a regional tourney held in Saratoga Springs last fall. Once in Mobile, they won five of the six matches they played, earning them the crown.


The Dyson Foundation
Last year, the Dyson Foundation celebrated 50 years of doling out dough for a wide variety of good causes in the Valley and beyond. In 2007, grants in the mid-Hudson alone totaled more than $12 million, with 18 percent of that money going to environmental programs at places like the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries.

Maurice Hinchey, best politician 2008Representative Maurice Hinchey stands strong as our readers' pick for Best Politician


U.S. Representative Maurice Hinchey
This progressive Democrat, now serving his eighth term in Congress, remains a reader favorite year after year. An outspoken opponent of the Iraq war, a proponent of legalizing medical marijuana, and the author of the bill that established the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area in 1996, Hinchey has recently been serving his constituents by trying to tackle high oil prices and securing more than $500,000 in federal funds for the expansion of the Sullivan County Airport.

Friend to the Arts

Carole Wolfe
Mill Street Loft, Poughkeepsie
Carole Wolfe, along with 11 other artists, launched the Mill Street Loft in 1981 in the former Bond Clothing Factory. Since then, Wolfe has been executive director of the nonprofit, multi-arts center that brings creative, culturally enriching programs to Valley residents of all ages. The Loft, now housed in a historic, two-story barn, offers extensive programs, classes and events in music, dance, visual arts, sculpture, design, drama, poetry, storytelling, photography, folk arts, and more; it also sponsors the award-winning Dutchess Arts Camp. The organization’s motto is “We change lives through the arts” — a major emphasis is on bringing people together and encouraging community unity. Led by Wolfe’s ongoing vision, the Loft actively promotes economic revitalization and neighborhood outreach, too.

*Radio Personality

Mark Bolger
New Paltz
Whether he’s dishing the Hollywood dirt with sidekick Kimberly Kay or offering up advice to a local listener, the Star 93.3 morning show host manages to be oh-so entertaining and engaging without being obnoxious. Born and bred in the region, the family man (he’s a father of three) also lends a hand with such annual initiatives as the “Stuff the Bus” food drive for local food pantries.

Uma Thurman, best actress
Uma's always a winner with us!


Uma Thurman
Seen a blonde bombshell driving down Route 9 lately? It could have been the Academy Award-nominated actress, whose performances in cult movie favorites like Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill helped make her a star. When she’s not on the big stage or island-hopping in Europe, our favorite starlet keeps a country house right here in the Valley.


James Earl Jones
Famous for his deep voice, this Pawling resident is best known for portraying Darth Vader in the early Star Wars movies. As a child, he overcame a severe stuttering problem by reciting poetry that he’d written in class. His son Flynn’s alma mater, the Poughkeepsie Day School, currently houses a theater in his name.


Roger Baker
Baker doesn’t slave behind an easel all day. He is a field artist, mowing the grass on large tracts of land into portraits of American icons like Albert Einstein, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, and the Statue of Liberty. Check out to keep tabs on his upcoming projects.

*Local Musician

Pete Seeger
At 89, this acclaimed folk singer, songwriter, and social activist can still be found performing at various Valley events, including fund-raisers for the recently opened River Pool at Beacon.

*Morning Show (tie)

Mike & Kacey in the Morning
100.7 FM WHUD, Beacon

Coop & Tobin Morning Show
101.5 FM WPDH, Poughkeepsie

Your a.m. rush hour drive just got a little better: readers love how Mike and Kacey shell out daily giveaways and prizes, including their Office of the Day (and Week) contests. A flick of the dial catches rock-’n-rollers Mark Cooper and John Tobin playing wacky game shows like “You Can’t Win” and “Did Coop Ever...” Both have listeners doubled over before they even clock in.
Mike & Kacey in the Morning 845-471-7477;
Coop & Tobin Morning Show 845-471-1500;

Up and Coming Band

The Morning Of
With two CDs to their credit (including The World as We Know It, which was released earlier this year), this pop-rock band consists of five relative youngsters (everyone is 20 or younger) from Orange County, including vocalists Justin Wiley and sole female Jessica Leplon. Their soulful harmonies have attracted more than two million hits on the group’s MySpace page and helped them launch a nationwide tour earlier this year. The band, however, doesn’t forget their roots; they can often be found jamming at the Chance in Poughkeepsie.

Mark Wilson, best triathlon coach 2008

Triathlon Coach

Mark H. Wilson
Founder of the Hudson Valley Triathlon Club, Mark Wilson helps folks of all athletic ability — from professionals to weekenders — get in shape and train for triathlons. Wilson, who started the club in 2000, had been a runner for 25 years as well as a triathlete himself. “I realized there was a need for it,” he says. “The people were there; they just needed to get organized.” About 100 club members — hailing from the Valley, New York City, and as far away as Rochester and Vermont — can take part in four races in the summer, one of which is held in Woodstock. The route: a 400-yard lake swim, then a 12-mile loop on a bike, wrapped up with a two-mile run; last year’s fastest participant finished the course in just over 47 minutes. Wilson also offers triathlon camps and coaching nationally. “Some people take a weekend or a weeklong camp. Others might hire me for a year to prepare for Iron Man,” says Wilson, who has coached folks who’ve gone on to the prestigious National and World triathlon championships. He’s also expanded beyond sports and serves as a life coach, too. “I love helping people transform their lives, whether it’s their first race or a world championship. It doesn’t matter as long as it helps them feel good about themselves,” he says. “Nothing’s better than that.”

Andy Mauer, best coach 2008


Andy Mauer
Hudson River Rowing
You could say Andy Mauer, who serves as boys’ crew coach for both the Hudson River Rowing Association and Our Lady of Lourdes High School in Poughkeepsie, won this award twice over. In May, Mauer, an IBM software engineer by day, led Lourdes to an appearance in the national scholastic championships in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. In July, he saw his 16-and-under four-oarsmen HRRA boat capture a silver medal at the prestigious U.S. Rowing Club National Championship — and the 18-and-under, eight-oarsmen boat miss qualifying for the finals by mere tenths of a second. Mauer humbly credits his rowers for the teams’ triumphs — “I’m just there to provide the push in case they want to go to the mall or something,” he says. But there’s no denying Mauer built the foundation for their success: as founding member and president of the HRRA, he helped to conceive and oversee the establishment of the organization’s community boathouse, which provides HRRA members, high school rowers, and other local crew-bies a facility to train in year-round. So what’s left to accomplish? In the long term, Mauer hopes to see a Hudson-trained rower claim the biggest prize of all: “Ultimately, the goal would be to fly that Olympic flag,” he says. Given how far rowing has come around here since Mauer moved to the area in 1997, we wouldn’t bet against a shiny medal or two in the Valley’s future.


You're reading about the crème de la crème of the Hudson Valley, as voted by your fellow Valleymen and loyal Hudson Valley magazine editors. Do you agree with us? Disagree? Tell us your top picks in the comments box below — and be sure to check out our favorite places, shops, and people throughout the region that we call the best.



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