Dozens of Memorial Day events kick off summer in the Catskills

Above: An honor guard leads the 2015 Liberty Memorial Day Parade. Photo by John Kocijanski of Catskill Photography, shared in the Watershed Post's Flickr pool.

Memorial Day Weekend 2016 brings a flood of enticing opportunities to come together, celebrate, and get the Catskills summer season started off right. Here’s our five-county guide to what’s happening where from Saturday, May 27 to Monday, May 30.

DELAWARE COUNTY

Parades and Ceremonies:

Roxbury 

Parade: May 30, 9:30 a.m., Route 30 North

Grand Gorge 

Parade: May 30, 11 a.m., Route 23 West  Read more

Woman in critical condition after Vroman's Nose fall

Above: First responders use ropes to reach an injured hiker on Vroman's Nose on Sunday, May 22. Photo by Schoharie County Fire Wire. See an album of photos from the rescue at the Schoharie County Fire Wire Facebook page. 

A hiker has been admitted to Albany Medical Center in critical condition with a back injury and a severe injury to her left wrist after tumbling off the cliffs of Vroman's Nose on Sunday, May 22 in the Schoharie County town of Fulton, according to Middleburgh Fire Chief Michael Devlin.

Vroman’s Nose is a 600-foot cliff that looms above the Schoharie Valley just outside the Schoharie County village of Middleburgh. It’s a popular spot for hikers and history seekers.

The woman, a 32-year-old from Lebanon, New Hampshire who is not being identified at this time, had been hiking on the mountain with a male companion when she fell off the cliff, according to Devlin.  Read more

Woodstock Writers Radio with Martha Frankel and guests

16-year-old killed on Route 28 in Olive

Above: Damein Kovacs. Via Keyser Funeral Service. 

A 16-year-old from the Ulster County town of Shokan was killed on Wednesday, May 19 when his car veered into a utility pole in the town of Olive, police and the Daily Freeman report.

Damein Kovacs was driving with his eight-year-old sister on Route 28 near the intersection of Dubois Rd. when his 2000 Honda Civic drove off the road and into a utility pole around 6:50 p.m. on Wednesday, according to a press release from the New York State Police.

Kovacs died of his injuries at the scene, police say. His sister sustained minor injuries.  Read more

Former sheriff’s deputy used meat cleaver to attack wife, prosecutor says

Above: Theodore Tiska, a former deputy in the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, is charged with attempted murder and first-degree assault for an alleged attack on his wife in April. To the left is Tiska in a Delaware County Employee of the Month photo in 2008, from the Delaware County Sheriff's Office, and to the right is Tiska in his April 2016 booking photo, via the New York State Police.

Theodore Tiska, a former star Delaware County sheriff's deputy who is charged with attempted murder for an alleged assault on his wife, used a meat cleaver in the attack that seriously injured the woman, according to Acting District Attorney John Hubbard.

Maria C. Tiska sustained “serious injuries” in the April 18 attack at the couple's Masonville home, Hubbard said, with “four or five deep cuts to her arms and legs.”  Read more

Kaaterskill Clove: Deadly to zebras and humans alike

Above: Zula the zebra, in a widely distributed photo of the animal by Richard Myer.

Many humans have fallen to their deaths hiking in Kaaterskill Clove, a steep and scenic gorge that runs along windy Route 23A through the Greene County hamlets of Palenville and Haines Falls. Now a zebra has been added to the clove's body count.  

The body of Zula, a 200-pound plains zebra, was found on Monday, May 16 at the bottom of a cliff in Kaaterskill Clove, according to media reports and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.  Read more

Independent pharmacies to close in Margaretville, Phoenicia

Above: The window of the Phoenicia Pharmacy. Photo by Julia Reischel.

Residents of the Catskills will soon have fewer places to get prescription drugs. Two independently-owned pharmacies, Miller's Drug Store in Margaretville and the Phoenicia Pharmacy in Phoenicia, have announced plans to close.

Fred and Rebecca Miller, owners of Miller's Drug Store in the Delaware County village of Margaretville, made the announcement in a Facebook post

“It is with great thanks for your trust, support and business over the last 61 years we announce that as of 6 p.m. May 19, Miller's Drug Store will close,” the posting said.

It went on to say that all prescriptions will be confidentially moved to CVS, a chain pharmacy with a store in Margaretville, where Fred Miller will be a consulting pharmacist for the next four weeks to help with the transition.

Reached at his home on Tuesday, Fred Miller said that he made the decision to close for “personal and business reasons.” He told the Watershed Post, “I've had enough of being an owner and wanted more time off.”  Read more

Man killed when his pickup truck flips in Kortright

A 58-year-old man died on Monday, May 16 when his pickup truck left the roadway, struck a culvert and overturned in the Delaware County town of Kortright, according to a press release from the New York State Police.

The driver was 58-year-old Michael C. Berry of East Meredith, police say. He was driving on West Kortright Church Road around 5:46 p.m. when his 1996 Dodge Ram left the roadway for an "unknown reason," according to the press release.

The truck flipped after hitting a culvert, police say. Berry was transported to A.O. Fox Hospital, where he was pronounced dead from internal injuries, police say.

The Daily Star reports that Berry was ejected from the vehicle, and that a passing motorist called 911.

Police say that an investigation into the crash is ongoing.

Yandik: An upstart Democratic outsider is overshadowed by Teachout

Above: Will Yandik, from the candidate's campaign Facebook page. 

In the past two decades, Town Councilman Will Yandik, a fourth generation fruit and vegetable farmer from Columbia County, became an Ivy League graduate, a climate change policy researcher and a journalist. Then he decided to return to the family farm, Green Acres Farm in Hudson.

One of two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination in the party's June 28 primary in the race to replace retiring Republican Congressman Chris Gibson in New York's 19th Congressional District, Yandik is hoping that his unconventional background will help him make the case for why he should take on the GOP nominee this November.  Read more

Anti-Islamberg motorcycle rally fizzles as hundreds turn out to support Catskills Muslims

See video

Above: Thirteen "American Bikers United Against Jihad" vehicles drive by hundreds of Islamberg supporters in the Delaware County town of Tompkins on Sunday, May 15. Video and photos by Julia Reischel. 

A planned motorcycle protest against Islamberg, an African-American Sufi Muslim community in the Catskills, backfired on its organizers on Sunday, May 15, when they were vastly outnumbered by hundreds of cheering Islamberg supporters who gathered to defend the community from charges that it is an “Islamic jihad training camp.”

About 200 to 300 pro-Islamberg demonstrators lined the sides of Roods Creek Road in the Delaware County town of Tompkins at 1 p.m., the time that American Bikers United Against Jihad (ABUAJ) planned to take a “Ride for National Security” past the community’s entrance and the “Islamberg” sign that flanks it.   Read more

14-year-old seriously injured in ATV crash, police say

A 14-year-old boy who was riding an ATV in the Schoharie County town of Wright crashed into a car and was seriously injured on Wednesday, May 11, according to a press release from the Schoharie County Sheriff's Office. 

The boy was found lying on the side of Barton Hill Rd. with multiple injuries around 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon. Police say that he was riding an ATV on private property when he drove onto the road and struck a car. The boy was ejected from the ATV and seriously injured, police say. He was reportedly not wearing a helmet.

He was flown to Albany Medical Center by helicopter, the press release reports. The driver of the car has has not been charged, police say, though the investigation is continuing.

Shokan man threatens bicyclist with gun in road rage incident, police say

A 65-year-old Shokan man allegedly pointed a pistol at a cyclist during a road rage incident in the Ulster County town of Olive on Monday, May 9, according to the New York State Police and the Times Herald-Record.

Left: Ernest T. Townsend. Photo via the New York State Police. 

Ernest T. Townsend was driving a truck on Route 28A when he got into an altercation with a bicyclist, who thought Townsend came too close to him and "raised his fist," the THR reports.

Townsend responded by allegedly driving next to the cyclist and brandishing a firearm at him, according to a press release from the New York State Police.

The THR has more detail:  Read more

Landslide closes narrow Platte Clove Road

Above: A landslide on Platte Clove Rd. in the Greene County town of Hunter. Photo via the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. 

A landslide on Sunday, May 8 blocked narrow Platte Clove Rd. in the Greene County town of Hunter, according to the Daily Freeman and photos from the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, which posted about the incident on Facebook

The seasonal road, which is closed in winter, had just reopened to traffic on April 15. 

Above: Another view of the landslide.

Tall trees and large boulders fell and blocked the road around 11 a.m. on Sunday, Hunter's town highway superintendent John Farrell told the Daily Freeman

Farrell said workers were on the scene all day Monday breaking up the large boulder, which he said included “layered” rock and shale. He said that the landslide was slow enough not to damage the surface of the road.

Farrell told the newspaper that the road would hopefully be open again by 9 a.m on Tuesday, May 10.

Update, 5 p.m.: Platte Clove Rd. was cleared of debris and open by noon today. The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference has a photo of the open road, below:  Read more

Catskills fly tying: The folk "Art of Artifice"

Above: A "Lime Trude" fly fishing lure tied by Ed Ostapczuk, photographed by Mark Loete and included in "The Art of Artifice," an exhibition of Catskills fly tying that opens this Saturday in Woodstock.

What lured Mark Twain, Babe Ruth, Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter to the Catskills?

Professional photographer and fly fishing guide Mark Loete will explain: “The freestone streams of the Catskills are the cradle of fly fishing,” he recently said from his Chichester studio, in a rambling 19th-century house on the banks of the Stony Clove Creek.

“Starting in the early 1800s and up to today, this area became famous for the trout and the local fly fishermen who found ingenious ways to lure them,” Loete said.  Read more

Plans for Cannonsville hydroelectric plant postponed for two years

Above: The Cannonsville Dam's spillway. Image by the NYC DEP, via Flickr. 

In the wake of a drilling incident at the Cannonsville Dam in the Delaware County town of Deposit last summer, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has received federal approval to postpone the construction of a 42,281 megawatt hydroelectric dam at the site for two years, according to a DEP press release issued on Wednesday, May 4.

Construction on the dam had been slated to begin on May 13. DEP officials got word that they would be allowed to postpone construction on April 21, according to the press release. Now the DEP wants to reexamine the feasibility of the project.   Read more

This weekend, give your Catskills park some love

Above: Early morning at Colgate Lake by Elaine Warfield. This photo was entered in the 2016 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest.

Saturday, May 7 is "I Love My Park Day" in New York state, and state and local parks across the Catskills region are celebrating by inviting volunteers outside to help clean up and get ready for the summer season.

In the Greene County town of Jewett, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is hosting a cleanup event at Colgate Lake, where the spectacular beauty and primitive campsites have been attracting trash in recent years.

Volunteers, who are asked to bring shovels, rakes, clippers and gloves, will help clean the authorized campsites, break down a few unauthorized ones and improve trails around the lake from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to a DEC press release.  Read more

Chris Gibson won't run for governor

Chris Gibson, the Republican U.S. Congressman who represents the 19th Congressional District, which covers much of the Catskills, announced today that he has decided to retire from politics and will shelve his plans to run for governor of New York state against Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Left: Chris Gibson. Image via Wikimedia Commons. 

According to a press release issued by Gibson's staff, Gibson had opened an exploratory committee that has accepted donations for a possible bid for governor.

Gibson will return all donations to his exploratory committee and will "leave potitics" to take up an academic position at Williams College in Massachusetts, the statement said.

Gibson announced that he would not be running for another term in Congress in January 2015, when he took office after his most recent re-election.  Read more

First responders rescue hiker injured on Devil's Path

Above: Indian Head and Twin Mountains on the eastern Devil's Path, photographed in October 2012 by EricAOrtner. 

New York Department of Environmental Conservation forest rangers and first responders from multiple fire departments and rescue squads helped rescue a 34-year-old Philadelphia woman who injured her ankle while hiking the Devil's Path Trail in the Greene County town of Hunter on Friday, April 29, according to a press release from the DEC.

The woman was hiking in a group of eight people on Friday afternoon when she sustained a lower leg injury, the press release states. Her fellow hikers "stabilized and wrapped the woman’s ankle and began to help her walk down the trail."

Greene County 911 received a call for help from the hiking group at 5:21 p.m. on Friday evening, the release states.  Read more

The historians of the Catskills gather at the Catskill History Conclave

Above: A historical sign in the Ulster County hamlet of Bearsville. Photo by Doug Kerr, via Flickr.

“History is good,” said Michael Drillinger, the coordinator of the Maurice Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center in the Ulster County hamlet of Mount Tremper. He was speaking of the upcoming Catskill History Conclave at the CIC, which will be held this Saturday, April 30.

“Woodstock town historian Richard Heppner observed there’d never been a gathering of all the local historians,” Drillinger said. “He thought it would be instructive and stimulating to get everyone together.”  Read more

Forest fire burns five acres in Shandaken’s Catskill Forest Preserve

A fire started by a 40-year-old man in the Ulster County town of Shandaken at 11 a.m. on Monday, April 25 burned five acres of Catskill Forest Preserve before being doused by 20 fire companies and police agencies, according to a press release from the town of Shandaken Police.

The fire was started by Nicolaus G. Wynberg, a Phoenicia resident, at the residence of a friend in Woodland Valley, police say. Wynberg has been charged with negligently starting a forest fire, a state environmental violation.  Read more

John Faso: Experienced politician faces voters who are fed up with "insiders"

Above: John Faso. Image via the Faso campaign.

In the increasingly negative race to replace retiring Republican Congressman Chris Gibson in New York's 19th Congressional District, former State Assembly Minority Leader John Faso has all the hallmarks of a traditional general election contender. But that might not help him, because 2016 is no traditional election year.

Nationally, maverick candidate Donald Trump has ousted more traditional Republican candidates from the race for president. In the race for the 19th Congressional District, which represents the Catskills and Hudson Valley, Faso’s opponents hope to do the same to him.

Faso, a Republican, began his campaign for Congress with high name recognition and a time-tested fundraising apparatus. He spent 16 years in the New York State Assembly from 1987 to 2002 and made an unsuccessful GOP gubernatorial bid in 2006 against Democrat Elliot Spitzer.

Now, Faso's status as an experienced politician and elected official has become both a blessing and a curse.  Read more