Hein: Open Space Institute to fund plans for Ashokan rail trail

Above: A map of a proposed 11.5-mile walking and biking trail near the Ashokan Reservoir, on an Ulster County-owned railroad track that was once part of the Ulster & Delaware railroad and is currently leased to the Catskill Mountain Railroad. Map from Ulster County's website

The Open Space Institute (OSI) will use private funds to create plans for an 11.5-mile multi-use rail trail near the Ashokan Reservoir, according to an announcement issued Thursday by Ulster County executive Mike Hein  Read more

Margaretville teens' paper peacock dress wins state arts competition

Above: Katlynn Shamro models Margaretville's winning dress design at the competition in Saratoga Springs on April 10, 2014. Photo by Michele Dietz.

A team of high school fashion designers from Margaretville Central School took top honors at the New York State Olympics of the Visual Arts last week with an elaborate Art Nouveau dress made entirely out of paper.  The dress, pictured above and below, featured a hand-painted design featuring peacocks and a Tiffany lamp motif. 

The Margaretville high school team beat 18 other teams from across New York State to win the fashion competition -- the most competitive category, according to Michele Dietz, the art teacher who coached them. Their challenge was to create a "big, bold, colorful pattern" that was inspired by a period in art history, and Margaretville's high school team chose Art Nouveau.  Read more

Parole-jumping sex offender arrested in Hamden

A Level 3 sex offender from Walton who was found hiding in a Hamden garage earlier this week has been charged with removing a GPS device that tracks his location and committing several break-ins. 

Police say 32-year-old John Cumo took off his GPS device early on Tuesday morning. On Tuesday afternoon, a parole warrant was issued for Cumo's arrest.

On Wednesday, police found Cumo hiding in the garage of a seasonal home on Back River Lane in Hamden. The search for Cumo involved Delaware County sheriff's deputies, New York State Police parole officers and members of the U.S. Marshal's New York/New Jersey Fugitives Task Force.

During the investigation, police found that another nearby seasonal home in Hamden had been broken into as well. Cumo faces a charge of parole violation, one count of second-degree criminal trespass, one count of third-degree criminal trespass and two counts of fourth-degree criminal mischief.   Read more

Winter's last hurrah (we hope)

People across the Catskills awoke this morning to find April's first green shoots covered in snow. Above: A row of icicles that sprouted overnight from a Margaretville roof gleams under a dazzling blue sky. Photo by Lissa Harris.

According to snow reports from the National Weather Service in Albany and Binghamton, some areas in the Catskills -- like Claryville in Ulster County, Livingston Manor in Sullivan County, and the Greene County mountaintop region -- got over three inches of snow Tuesday night. 

Tuesday's bout of winter weather came just a little too late to extend the ski season, which lasted well into April this year. Over the past week or two, the four major ski centers of the Catskills -- Belleayre, Hunter, Plattekill and Windham -- all put an end to this year's blockbuster season.

Above: No BBQs on this Margaretville porch til the snow melts. Photo by Lissa Harris.  Read more

Fleeing driver shot by police on Route 28 in West Hurley

A driver fleeing police pursuit in a car reported stolen from a Marbletown home was shot by a police officer on Tuesday night, the Ulster County Sheriff's Office reports.

Around 10:40 p.m. on Tuesday, police say, Ulster County 911 received a call from a woman in Marbletown who said her car had been stolen from her driveway. State troopers spotted the car on Route 213 and pursued it, but were unable to get the driver to stop. The driver fled into the city of Kingston, where troopers lost sight of the car.

An Ulster County sheriff's deputy then spotted the car, and continued the pursuit. The chase ended on Route 28 in West Hurley, when the fleeing car swerved into an Ulster County sheriff's vehicle, taking both vehicles off the road. The driver was then shot by an Ulster County officer while being taken into custody, police say.

The driver is being treated at Albany Medical Center. Police have not identified the driver, or released any information about his or her condition.   Read more

Cold front sweeps through area, bringing rain, sleet and snow

Above: Temperatures around upstate New York around 8 a.m. this morning, showing a cold front moving east across the region. The National Weather Service in Albany writes: "Current 8 a.m. temperature in Albany is 63 degrees while behind the cold front in Buffalo, NY, it is 33 degrees with a rain/snow mix."

Watch out for April showers -- and a few bouts of sleet and snow. After a few days of sunshine and temperatures in the 70s, the Catskills region is now bracing for the return of wintry weather as a cold front moves in from the west.   Read more

Armed Gardiner man arrested after eight-hour standoff

A 59-year-old Gardiner man who fired a gun near people on his neighbor's property held police at bay through the night on Friday and into Saturday morning, barricading himself in his house on Route 44/55 and refusing to come out. 

Police responded to a complaint of shots fired at the home of Michael Yukowiec around 9 p.m. on Friday. According to a police statement, Yukowiec fired several rounds from a rifle at three people on a neighboring property before barricading himself in his house and refusing to come to the door or answer the phone.

An eight-hour standoff began, during which a SWAT team stationed an armored vehicle outside Yukowiec's house and deployed a surveillance robot to go inside the house and find him. Roads in the area were shut down during the standoff.

Around 5 a.m., Yukowiec finally came out and surrendered. A search of the house found a rifle and a shotgun.   Read more

High art: Balloon sculptures made for the Guggenheim soar in Catskill

Above: Jason Hackenwerth's Aviary in its original form, as a one-night installation made for a gala at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan. Photo by Kristopher McKay.

Latex balloons are generally considered to be more the stuff of children’s birthday parties than of high art, but one sculptor is out to put a pin in that idea. Jason Hackenwerth’s buoyant works, which are touching down in Catskill this weekend, look past the common balloon’s reputation to its transcendent power as an artistic medium.

Sinuous and colorful, Hackenwerth's sculptures can call to mind anything from exotic sea flora to alien life forms. Now, as part of Catskill’s Masters on Main Street program, three of his creations are touching down in locations throughout the town in a free exhibition called Aviary: Reimagined.

“The commonality of that material is so accessible and so easy to understand,” says Hackenwerth of his chosen medium. “Instead of people being frightened of the work, as a lot of people are for contemporary art, they seem to be joyous and happy.”  Read more

TAP New York celebrates the state's thriving craft beer industry

At the annual TAP New York fest, New York State craft brewers showcase a wide variety of local beers, from crisp lagers and hearty ales to rich, malty stouts and porters. Photo courtesy of Hunter Mountain.

There are lots of reasons to celebrate craft beer in the Catskills right now. Several new breweries and brew pubs are opening this year, and the growing market for crops such as hops and small grains offer new opportunities for local farmers.

Luckily for Catskills beer-lovers, the state’s biggest celebration of small-batch beer takes place right in the heart of Greene County’s mountaintop region every year, and this year it’s bigger than ever.

On Saturday, April 26, and Sunday, April 27, nearly 100 breweries from Buffalo to Brooklyn will set up shop at the base of Hunter Mountain for the annual TAP New York festival. Offering about 300 beers and a wide variety of “beer-friendly” food, the festival was founded by veteran brewmaster Nat Collins and Bill Woodring 17 years ago. It has since grown from a few dozen beer-lovers geeking out over a handful of local brews into a two-day affair of tasting and competition for coveted awards. Judges anoint the best regional and statewide breweries, as well as the best individual beer in the state.

  Read more

Delaware County bank set to expand into Sullivan County

It's a familiar story in small-town America: Little community bank strikes a deal with a giant national corporation, and suddenly there's a new logo on your local bank branch.

Only this time it's the other way around. NBDC Bank -- also known as the National Bank of Delaware County, a small chain of community banks based in Walton -- announced recently that the company is acquiring six Bank of America branches in Sullivan County. 

The deal, which has yet to receive regulatory approval, is expected to go through by fall, according to a press release issued by NBDC Bank. Under the terms of the deal, NBDC will operate former Bank of America branches in Callicoon, Liberty, Monticello, Narrowsburg, Roscoe and Wurtsboro. 

The acquisition of the six Sullivan County branches will double the number of offices run by NBDC Bank, which currently runs branches in Walton, Andes, Franklin, Hamden, Stamford and Roxbury.   Read more