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Pat Cuzzacrea named Minerva Citizen of the Year

Minerva Citizen of the Year Pat Cuzzacrea and two of her beloved dogs, Nicolina and Bob

Minerva Citizen of the Year Pat Cuzzacrea and two of her beloved dogs, Nicolina and Bob McKenna Kelly

— Cuzzacrea says she still can’t believe she’s been chosen as the Citizen of the Year. She wasn’t prepared at all for it. She was in the middle of a nighttime meal when Nancy Shaw stopped by to make an announcement, and almost left the room before Shaw pulled her aside and made her stay.

“It was a nice surprise,” Cuzzacrea said.

Prior to her work at the meal site, Cuzzacrea owned and operated the Minerva Hill lodge. She and her husband started the business in 1978, after they moved to Minerva from Lockport. They originally came to the area to visit friends and to buy a dog, and ended up liking it so much that they made Minerva their home.

Dogs are an important part of Cuzzacrea’s life. She breeds Spinoni Italiano, an Italian hunting dog. She currently owns three females — Mia, Lilly, and Nicolina. Cuzzacrea has been breeding them for just about 17 years. She originally chose the breed because of its novelty; at the time there were only 500 Spinoni total in the U.S. They’re a versatile breed, specializing in birds, with the ability to point, retrieve, and swim. Working with the dogs has inspired Cuzzacrea to try a bit of hunting herself.

“Once you see them do what they’re bred to do, it’s so exciting,” she said.

Cuzzacrea and her husband volunteer with youth hunting groups based in Putnam. Her other hobbies include shooting skeet, gardening, and spending time with her three granddaughters.

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