For your convenience, we have installed the link below to make donations to this website easier. Now you can utilize your PayPal account or your credit card.


To visit the Schuyler Little League website, click here or on logo above.


The Odessa File: Government
The Odessa File: Schools
The Odessa File: People
The Odessa File: Business
The Odessa File: Features
The Odessa File: History
The Odessa File: Sports
The Odessa File: Forum
The Odessa File: Calendar
The Odessa File: Classified Ads
The Odessa File: Home Page


To go to Jim Guild's Famous Brands website, click on the drawing above or here.





Speakers set for 12th annual Top Drawer 24 celebration

Former U.S. Congressman Jim Gerlach, Elmira attorney Christina Sonsire, Top Drawer alum Matt Gill will address honorees

WATKINS GLEN, April 21, 2017 -- Preparations are under way for the 12th annual Top Drawer 24 celebration at the Watkins Glen State Park Pavilion on Monday, June 5.

Among those preparations has been confirmation of the appearance of a trio of guest speakers: former U.S. Congressman Jim Gerlach (R-PA), Elmira attorney Christina Sonsire, and former Top Drawer honoree Matt Gill.

Those speakers can talk from experience to this year's honorees -- the Top Drawer class of 2017 -- about life's challenges and rewards.

Said Top Drawer 24 Director Craig Cheplick:

"We have always been committed to getting great speakers for this event. This year's speakers are no different -- representing government and the law, and representing past Top Drawer teams."

In addition, Cheplick said: "We are also excited about this year's recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award in coaching, a person who is well known in the Southern Tier area. "

That honoree will be announced in the near future.


The Top Drawer team, chosen annually by committee and to be announced in May, is composed of outstanding high school students who come from districts primarily in Schuyler and Chemung counties. The selection process is done in stages, and starts with the beginning of each school year as committee members study prospective honorees. Now, with a month and a half until the celebration, that process -- with healthy debate, and with an eye toward not only athletic and academic achievement, but in consideration too of personality and community involvement -- is nearly complete.

This year the slate of school districts represented includes original participants Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour along with Trumansburg, Spencer-Van Etten, Horseheads, Elmira Heights Edison, Elmira Notre Dame, Elmira City Schools, South Seneca, and Twin Tiers Christian Academy.

Leading the June 5 ceremony will be WENY-TV news anchor Renata Stiehl (pictured at right), serving for the third year as the program's emcee.

The evening will begin at about 5 p.m. with a social gathering -- featuring various finger foods -- and there will be a group picture of the 24 honorees snapped by parents and by a photographer from this website for publication here. Awards sponsored by E.C. Cooper will also be presented to The Odessa File Athletes of the Year from the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour high schools. Another honoree will be the recipient of the Susan B. Haeffner Award sponsored by The Odessa File and given annually to a high school student who embodies sportsmanship on the playing field and in life.

After the awards are presented and the pictures taken, the speeches will begin. The lineup of speakers:


Former Congressman Jim Gerlach

Former U.S. Congressman Jim Gerlach (R-PA) serves as the president and chief executive officer of the Business-Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC).

Rep. Gerlach served Pennsylvania’s Sixth Congressional District for 12 years, most recently on the House Ways and Means Committee and its Subcommittees on Health and Select Revenue. In the 113th Congress he was also the lead Republican on the Ways and Means Manufacturing Working Group. During his six terms in the House, from 2002-2014, Gerlach also served on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Financial Services Committee, and the Small Business Committee.

National publications, including National Journal and Roll Call, have recognized Gerlach’s record as an independent voice. He is no stranger to difficult campaigns. The 6th District was ranked as the most competitive district in the nation between 2002 and 2008, according to a University of Minnesota survey.

Prior to his tenure with the U.S. Congress, Gerlach also served four years in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and eight years in the Pennsylvania Senate. This public service was preceded by 10 years of private law practice in the Commonwealth.

Throughout his career, Gerlach always stood for free enterprise. He was repeatedly named a “Guardian of Small Business” while serving the citizens of Pennsylvania as a state legislator and a member of the U.S. Congress. While in Congress, he received perfect scores from BIPAC’s Outline for Prosperity, received the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Enterprise award, and gained support from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

Active in his community, Gerlach served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Brandywine Health Foundation, as well as a member of the Board of Directors of MECA (Mission for Educating Children with Autism), the Board of Trustees of Dickinson College, the Chester County Agricultural Development Council, the West Brandywine Township Zoning Hearing Board, and the Board of Directors of the Brandywine Hospital.

Gerlach attended Dickinson College, graduating cum laude in 1977 with a BA in Political Science and a minor in Education. He graduated in 1980 from the Dickinson School of Law with a Juris Doctor degree.

While at Dickinson in his undergraduate days, he was an outstanding football playeer, leading the MAC South Football Conference in rushing yards in 1974, when he was named First Team All-Conference. He was the team's co-captain in 1976.


Attorney Christina Sonsire

Christina Bruner Sonsire is an attorney at the Ziff Law Firm in Elmira, which she joined in March 2008. She specializes in the areas of Medical Malpractice and catastrophic Personal Injury, and says she loves being in the courtroom.

Sonsire graduated from Georgetown University in 1998, earning dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Classics and International Relations and studying International Economics abroad at the University of Antwerp, Belgium.

She played on the Georgetown Women’s Soccer Team, where she served as the team’s captain during her junior and senior years. A prolific scorer, she held Georgetown’s records for the most career goals and assists from 1998 through 2010. She was inducted into the university's Hall of Fame earlier this year, the first women’s soccer player selected for the honor by the Washington, D.C., university. She has also been inducted into the Halls of Fame for Notre Dame High School, Chemung County, and Section 4 for her scoring prowess as a high school player. She has coached in the Chemung Valley Soccer Association and for the Soaring Capital Soccer Club, where she has been coaching a 7-and-under team.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in Classics and International Relations in 1998 from Georgetown, and went on to earn a law degree at the University of Montana.

She also served in Americorps’ National Civilian Community Corps, a volunteer program often referred to as the “domestic Peace Corps.” Serving in the NCCC for nearly three years and performing over 6,500 hours of community service, she had an opportunity to travel the country and work with a myriad of organizations.

Sonsire began her legal career at the Chemung County District Attorney’s Office as an Assistant District Attorney. A felony prosecutor, she specialized in violent crimes against women and children and worked closely with Chemung County’s Child Advocacy Center to insure the rights of victims were respected and the needs of families were met. She took a brief leave during her tenure at the District Attorney’s Office to work at Davidson and O’Mara, P.C., where she gained valuable experience from which she draws at Ziff Law. She has extensive courtroom trial experience and has successfully argued before New York’s Court of Appeals for the Third Department.

Sonsire lives in Elmira with her husband, Damian Sonsire, a Chemung County Assistant District Attorney, and their two daughters. She is a member of the Notre Dame High School Board of Trustees and the Arctic League Board of Directors. In recognition of service to her community, she was awarded the Jefferson Award for Public Service in 2007. In her spare time she enjoys running with the Finger Lakes Runners Club, riding her snowboard and hiking on the many trails running through the Southern Tier.


Former Top Drawer honoree Matt Gill

Matt Gill grew up in Schuyler County, graduating from Watkins Glen High School in 2014. He is currently a junior at Binghamton University studying Electrical Engineering and running at the Division 1 level for the university's cross country team.

He works as a Peer Advisor for the Watson School of Engineering, and says that in his free time, "I run Enhance VR, a startup I've created while at college."

Gill was a standout runner at WGHS, setting a number of distance running records. He was a member of the Top Drawer 24 in his sophomore, junior and senior years. Says Matt of WGHS: "The students, teachers, coaches and other people of Watkins Glen have all had an impact on how I've defined myself as an individual and as an athlete. I'm proud to say I wouldn't be where I am today without their support, as well as the support from my family."


After the speeches, each of the evening's 24 honorees will be introduced, with their achievements and future plans outlined. Each will be presented a Top Drawer 24 medallion, and plans call for presentation of Certificates of Achievement from the offices of Congressman Tom Reed, State Senator Tom O'Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano.

Ralph Diliberto, a teaching assistant and volunteer strength trainer in the Watkins Glen School District, will present the invocation and benediction.

The honorees will be encouraged to invite as many people as they wish: friends and family who can share in the celebration. The event is also open to the public. There is no charge.

Photos in text: From the top: WENY-TV anchor Renata Stiehl, former U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach; Elmira attorney Christina Sonsire; and former Top Drawer honoree Matt Gill.




© The Odessa File 2017
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869