Winter's icy grip lingers

Even well into April, ice still lingers on many lakes and reservoirs in the Catskills. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection issued a reminder to fisherman on Thursday, April 16 to stay off the city's Catskills reservoirs until they are ice-free.

This shot of the ice slowly receding on Dixie Lake was taken at Hanofee Park in Liberty by John of Catskills Photography on April 12 and shared in the Watershed Post's Flickr pool. 

Will he or won't he? News reports differ on Lopez's run for Congress

Will State Assemblyman Pete Lopez, who represents portions of the Catskills in Delaware, Greene, and Schoharie counties, run for U.S. Representative's Chris Gibson's vacant seat in Congress in 2016? 

Left: State Assemblyman Pete Lopez. Image via his official website

It depends on what newspaper you read. The Daily Mail reported on Wednesday, April 15 that Lopez has formally announced his intention to run.  Read more

Woodstock Writers Radio with Martha Frankel and guests

Biker seriously injured in motorcycle crash in Walton

A 61-year-old Walton resident was seriously injured when he crashed his Harley Davidson motorcycle on Route 10 in Walton on Tuesday, April 14, according to the Delaware County Sheriff's Office. 

Kenneth G. Kokoszka was riding south on Route 10 near Bob's Brook Road when he "lost control and left the roadway before overturning the motorcycle in [a] ditch," a sheriff's press release states. The cause of the crash is still under investigation, but investigators have ruled out alcohol as a factor. 

Kokoszka was airlifted to UHS Wilson Memorial Hospital in Johnson City by helicopter, the press release states. The Walton Reporter has photos of the helicopter airlifting Kokoszka after the crash.

Visit a Catskills chocolate factory

Chocolate melting at Lucky Chocolates. Photo by Julia Reischel.

Bryan Graham, the owner of Fruition Chocolate (3091 Route 28, Shokan, 845-657-6717, grinds his own cocoa beans, then turns them into simple, small-batch craft chocolate bars in flavors like brown butter milk chocolate and rustic crunch (cocoa nibs, cinnamon and vanilla).

Fruition's chocolate has won national awards—a gold from the Good Food Awards and two silvers from the International Chocolate Awards in 2013 alone. You can visit Fruition's storefront and chocolate factory in the Ulster County hamlet of Shokan, just off Route 28 in an unassuming strip mall.

In a long, narrow storefront in Saugerties, Lucky Chocolates (115 Partition St., Saugerties, 845-246-7337, produces 45 flavors of truffles and other chocolate treats in back, in a Willy Wonka-like chocolate factory filled with delicious smells and busily churning mixers. On every wall, racks of chocolate cooling in pans wait to be sliced by the confectionary guitar.  Read more

Inmate dies at Sullivan Correctional Facility

Above: The sign at the Sullivan Correctional Facility. Photo by Medic18 via Wikipedia. 

An inmate at the maximum security Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg is dead and three correctional officers are injured, two with "serious physical injuries," according to the Daily Freeman, the Times Herald-Record and the Sullivan County Democrat.

Details about the incident are sketchy. The THR talked to a spokesman for the corrections officers union, which has been calling for more staff in mid-Hudson prisons.

From the THR:  Read more

Early season leads to record bear hunt in southern New York

Above: The 580-pound bear Greene County hunter Tim Meservey shot during the early season in September 2014. Photo courtesy of Tim Meservey.

Bear hunters in New York's Southern Zone killed a record 1,110 bears in 2014, according to harvest figures that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released on Monday, April 13. That's 12 percent more than the previous record of 983 bears taken in the Southern Zone in 2011.

The record harvest is likely due to a new early bear hunting season that ran from Sept. 6 to Sept. 21 in portions of the Catskills and the western Hudson Valley, DEC officials say.

Catskills hunters in in Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster counties killed 893 bears in 2014, according to an analysis of the DEC's hunt data by the Watershed Post. In the Catskills, hunters killed 294 bears during the new early season and 599 during the bow hunting, muzzleloading and regular seasons, which occur later in the fall.

The Catskills towns with the highest bear harvests are Hancock, with 34 bears killed; Wawarsing, with 32; Tusten, with 31; Rochester, with 27; and Mamakating, with 24.  Read more

Two arrested in cocaine bust in Delaware County town of Middletown

A New Jersey man and a Delaware County, New York woman were arrested on Friday, April 10 after New York State Police narcotics investigators found cocaine in the man's car during a traffic stop and raided the woman's Arkville residence, police say.

Twenty-eight-year-old Jose Ozuna was driving on Route 28 in Delaware County on Friday night at 10 p.m. when Southern Tier State Police drug investigators and uniformed state police personnel pulled him over and searched his vehicle, according to a State Police press release. The officers reported that they found five ounces of cocaine, a digital scale, a switchblade and $580 in cash in Ozuna's vehicle.

Left: Dawn Hayden (top) and Jose Ozuna. Via the New York State Police. 

After Ozuna was arrested, narcotics investigators executed a search warrant at the home of 26-year-old Dawn Hayden, on Elliot Hills Road in Arkville in the Delaware County town of Middletown. Police say that they found a loaded .32 caliber revolver, a "Savage Model 30E" 12-gauge shotgun, a switchblade knife, a digital scale, a small amount of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia and four cell phones in Hayden's home.  Read more

This Weekend: Tiny Arts Day in West Fulton

Above: The former Methodist Church Hall in West Fulton hosts a day of festivities in West Fulton on Saturday, April 11. Photos courtesy of Panther Creek Arts. 

The tiny Schoharie County hamlet of West Fulton doesn't have much in it aside from a few houses and a former Methodist Church hall. But this weekend, it will host its own day-long festival, called "Tiny Arts Day in a Tiny Town."

The festival is packed with events. There will be a family vaudeville show, an artists reception, a three-course dinner featuring meats and veggies raised nearby, live music from a jazz trio and a mini-market featuring beer from Green Wolf Brewing Co., spirits from Kymar Farm Distillery and goodies from Bearsville Bakers.  Read more

This weekend: Ashokan Watershed Conference

The Ashokan Reservoir, the oldest of New York City's reservoirs in the Catskills, was mostly built by hand, with picks and shovels. That's one of the tidbits you'll learn at the Ashokan Watershed Conference, held this weekend at the Ashokan Center in Olivebridge.

History is the theme of this year's conference, which is called "Back to the Future." (The organizers riff on the movie of the same name in their promo materials. Who says that watershed managers don't have senses of humor?)

The keynote speaker is Bob Steud­ing, a historian who wrote about the mammoth project of building the dam in his book, "The Last of the Hand­made Dams." George Fowler, an engineer, will talk about the history of stream management.

Other sessions will focus on the invasive species that are destroying the hemlock and ash trees around the Catskills and the perennially urgent topic of flooding.   Read more

Man stole $5,500 from his grandmother, police say

A 23-year-old Oneonta man stole $5,500 from his elderly grandmother and damaged a house she owns in Davenport, police say.

Aaron Macken (left) was arrested on Tuesday, April 7 and was charged with writing fraudulent checks on his grandmother's checking account, according to a press release from the New York State Police:

Macken had been stealing over $5,500.00 from his elderly grandmother’s checking account by cashing several fraudulent checks in 2014 and 2015.

Police caught wind of Macken's activities after being called to Davenport to investigate a possible burglary at a house his grandmother owns on Hansen Road on March 24, the press release states. Eventually, police charged Macken with damaging windows and cabinets in that house.

Police charged Macken with 17 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument, a felony. They also charged him with felony grand larceny and criminal mischief.  Read more

Flood warning issued for West Branch in Walton


The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for the west branch of the Delaware River in Walton. Walton village DPW Supervisor Roger Hoyt said a major flood event is not expected based upon weather reports, but the village is monitoring all waterways. Subscribe to for Delaware County's latest news, feature stories and updates.

Posted by The Walton Reporter on Thursday, April 9, 2015

Above: Lillian Browne of the Walton Reporter has video of the flooding in Walton.

West Branch Delaware River at Walton

Above: A hydrograph showing the level of water in the West Branch of the Delaware River in Walton. 

After a night of heavy rains, the West Branch of the Delaware River in Walton rose above flood stage on Thursday morning, April 9, according to an alert issued by the National Weather Service in Binghamton.   Read more

Tank and oily spill discovered in the Schoharie Reservoir

Above: The ice-covered Schoharie Reservoir in 2013. Photo via the NYC DEP's Flickr page. 

An “oily sheen” was discovered on the surface of the Schoharie Reservoir, one of the sources of New York City’s upstate drinking water supply, on Monday, April 6, according to a New York City Department of Environmental Protection press release.

The spill, which appeared in a 50-foot-wide gap of water between ice on the reservoir and the shore, was located “several hundred feet down shore” from the mouth of the Shandaken Tunnel, which sends water from the Schoharie Reservoir to the city, the press release states.

The whole spill was 50 feet wide and about 900 feet long, said DEP spokesman Adam Bosch said. It had dissipated by Tuesday morning, April 7, he said.  Read more

Binghamton man dies in crash on icy Andes hill

Above: County Road 2 -- also known as the Andes-Delancey Road -- in Andes snakes its way down a steep hill into the hamlet. Image via Google Earth

A 27-year-old Binghamton man died of "severe head trauma" after crashing his car on a downhill curve in the Delaware County town of Andes on Monday, April 6, police say.

Brendan A. Fields was driving a 2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser south on County Road 2 at 7:40 a.m. on Monday morning when he lost control of the car on a downhill slope and hit a tree, according to a press release from the New York State Police.

The road conditions were icy and Fields was driving at an "unsafe speed" for the conditions, police say:  Read more

A Surrealist art project: Exquisite Corpse of the Catskills

Above: An example of an "exquisite corpse" artwork, drawn by three artists completing each others' work.

Calling all Catskills artists: You’re invited to come play a Surrealist parlor game this spring.

Exquisite Corpse was an early 20th century favorite pastime for the likes of André Breton, Marcel Duchamp, Yves Tanguy, Joan Miro and Man Ray. It’s the visual equivalent of a freestyle jam session: A folded piece of paper passed between participants, each of whom adds their own contribution. When the paper is unfolded, a hodgepodge of “happenstance art” is revealed.

In collaboration with the Catskill Art Society, Ellie and Akira Ohiso are putting together a round of Exquisite Corpse that will feature Catskills artists. The Ohisos, the duo behind the recently folded (and much missed) Green Door Magazine, are inviting artists to enter a free public lottery to be among the teams working on the art project.  Read more

Northern Farmhouse Pasta: Making pasta on the farm

Above: Some of the pastas made by Northern Farmhouse Pasta. Photo by John Tappen.

The Catskills region has plenty of culinary traditions — maple tapping, cider brewing, cheese making — but one thing the area has never been known for is pasta. Bob and Jen Eckert are out to change all that, using local ingredients to bring the traditionally Italian staple into the Catskills food-making fold.

The husband-and-wife team began Northern Farmhouse Pasta (209 Rockland Road, Roscoe, 607-290-4041, in 2011, dedicated to creating handmade ravioli and other pasta using local ingredients. To drive the point home, an image of New York state adorns all of Northern Farmhouse’s packaging.

Left: Bob and Jen Eckert. Photo by John Tappen.

“I was tired of seeing the outline of Italy everywhere,” said Bob Eckert, who is of Italian descent himself. “Everyone always talks about a ‘fine Italian tradition’ to sell pasta. We wanted to focus on New York.”

With a mission to produce a truly local product, the Eckerts emphasize seasonal goods. They favor a few fresh ingredients (two to three for pasta; about five for ravioli) and avoid using preservatives. Many of the ingredients, from squash to mushrooms, grow right in their backyard in the Sullivan County town of Roscoe.

“If they’re not ours, we get them from local farmers at the farmers’ markets,” said Jen Eckert.

Or from the wild. Come late April, Bob Eckert ventures into the mountains near his home to forage for ramps, wild leeks with a delicate onion flavor that are difficult to cultivate. He includes them in a ravioli that’s available only in April and May.

“I always want to have my hands in the dirt or in the flour,” he said.

The only ingredient the Eckerts don’t grow, buy or gather in the Catskills is wheat. But even that comes from New York — from a supplier in the Finger Lakes — and someday they hope to reap their own grain on their farmstead.

The pasta selection changes with the seasons. The Eckerts stuff their ravioli with roasted summer corn in the summer; pumpkin and arugula, butternut or acorn squash in the fall; and cherry-wood-smoked mushrooms in the winter.   Read more

Three people killed in Cherry Valley Fire

Three people were found dead after a fire consumed a home in the Otsego County town of Cherry Valley early on Thursday, April 2, according to the New York State Police. From the press release: 

On April 2, 2015, The New York State Police in Richfield Springs, in conjunction with the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control and Otsego County Emergency Management Team, are investigating a fatal residential fire that occurred at approximately 3:45 AM at 165 Hone Road in the Town of Cherry Valley, Otsego County. Three deceased subjects were located in the residence. Positive identification of the deceased subjects are pending autopsies and further investigation. Cherry Valley and Sharon Springs Fire Departments responded to the scene. The manner and cause of death are pending and the investigation is continuing.

4/3/15 update: The three killed were children, the Daily Star reports:  Read more

Vermont couple crashes small airplane in Catskills field, walks away unscathed

Above: Julian Joffe's Beech A36 airplane crash-landed in a farmer's field in South Kortright on Thursday, April 2. Photo by Julian Joffe, taken after the crash.

A Vermont couple flying a small fixed-wing single-engine airplane crashed into a farmer's field in South Kortright on Thursday, April 2, and walked away from the wreck unscathed.

Julian Joffe, the pilot, and his wife, Kerry Joffe, were the two occupants of the airplane, according to Bob Cavanaugh, the chief financial officer of Pad Print Machinery of Vermont. Julian Joffe is the CEO of the company. 

Left: A Beech A36 aircraft. Photo by Alan Radecki via Wikimedia Commons. 

"They landed in a farmer's field," Cavanaugh said. "They skidded for about a quarter mile. The farmer has been in the process of helping them get out of the field and closer to town where they can work with the authorities and get holed up for the night."

Cavanaugh said that both Joffes were unharmed, and contacted him soon after the crash to say they were OK.

  Read more

Citing "misconduct and abuse of authority," court removes Monticello's mayor from office

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Above: Video footage of Monticello mayor Gordon Jenkins ranting and throwing a clock while in a booking room on a drunk driving arrest in November 2013. (Warning: There's a lot of profanity. Jenkins throws the clock at the 1:21:55 mark.)

Monticello's troubled mayor, Gordon Jenkins, has been removed from office by a three-judge panel of the New York State Supreme Court's Third Appellate Division, according to a decision the court released on Thursday, April 2.

Citing a "serious pattern of abuse of authority and misbehavior," the court wrote that Jenkins is "hereby removed from the public offices of Mayor and Village Manager of the Village of Monticello." The removal appears to take effect immediately.   Read more

Gone fishin': Anglers celebrate on a freezing opening day

Above: Boys Fishing, by Amanda Lee Popp. Submitted to the 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest. 

April Fool’s day is the first day of fishing season in New York state, and it's playing a freezing cold joke on hopeful anglers vying to catch the first trout of the year.

It's a cold and icy beginning to trout season, with a high of only 38 degrees and snow falling over Cairns Pool on the Beaverkill, according to the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum’s Facebook page. Nevertheless, trout were reportedly caught there today, the center reports.

Above: The ice-covered Upper Delaware River on Monday, March 30. Photo by Tony Ritter, via Twitter.   Read more

Death of prominent Margaretville businessman leaves many questions

Above: The Margaretville Motel, which was slated to receive $1.3 million from New York State after being developed into a Best Western hotel. Plans for the project are now uncertain. Photo by Julia Reischel.

Peter Molnar, a prominent local businessman who owned a financial consultancy and a set of properties and lodging businesses in the Delaware County village of Margaretville, was missing for days before his body was found in a room in one of his own motels on Saturday, March 21, police said.

Left: Peter Molnar, in a photo on his LinkedIn page. 

Molnar, 57, had told his family he was going on a business trip, and left home on Monday, March 16, according to State Police investigator Jeff Moore. Molnar stayed in touch with his family throughout the week.

But Molnar’s actual whereabouts from Monday until Saturday, when his body was found, are unknown, Moore said.  Read more