Lightning strikes Fleischmanns church

Above: Pastor Adrian Todd looks out of a broken window in the bell tower of the Fleischmanns United Methodist Church on Thursday, August 21. The windows were blown out when lightning struck the building that morning. Photo by Larry Dunlap.

Lighting struck the bell tower of the United Methodist Church in Fleischmanns at 8:45 a.m. on August 21, blasting off siding and blowing out six windows.

"Somebody said it sounded like a bomb went off," said Adrian Todd, the pastor of the church, which is also known as the Fleischmanns Community Church. "It was loud."

Todd wasn't at the church at the time of the strike, but several people were driving by and witnessed it.

"The windows blew out just as they were right in front of the church," Todd said.

The windows were plain glass, not stained glass. Todd said that the church's insurance company is investigating and determining whether it will cover the damage. 

There were no injuries. Todd said that the tenants who live in the adjacent building were not affected.

Volunteers helped clean up the shattered glass off the church lawn yesterday, and today the broken windows are covered with plywood.

The church building dates from 1884, and as far as Todd knows, this is the first time it has been struck by lightning.

Is there a theological explanation?  Read more

This Weekend: Prattsville's MudFest

Above: Muddy fun at Prattsville's MudFest. Photo via MudFest's Facebook page. 

In August 2011, tons of mud from Tropical Storm Irene's massive flooding swept through the town of Prattsville. Now every August, the town commemorates the disaster with a giant mud-themed party. 

Prattsville's MudFest is now in its third year, and features mud volleyball, a mud obstacle course, a mud tug-of-war and a mud horseshoe tournament. There are prizes in both cash and alcoholic form. (The horseshoe tournament requires the submission of an alcoholic beverage upon entry, and the winner takes home the "beverage pot" in addition to a cash purse.)

Hay rides, a bounce house, a craft fair, and food and T-shirt vendors round out the fun, which takes place on the town green and is free. 

Prattsville's MudFest. Saturday, August 23. 14527 Main St., Prattsville. For more info, see the MudFest's Facebook page.  Read more

This Weekend: Pig Mountain

Above: A promo photo for the Pig Mountain Pig Roast and Veggie Fest in Narrowsburg on Saturday, August 23. Via the Pig Mountain website.

Main Street Narrowsburg plays host this Saturday to an all-out celebration of local food, the Pig Mountain Pig Roast and Veggie Fest.

As the name implies, the headliner is pork: specifically, a herd of 15 roasted pigs prepared by a herd of 15 high-profile chefs. 

The chefs include local favorites, like Paul Nanni of Narrowburg's own The Heron restaurant, and NYC imports like Lauren Resler of Mexican restaurant Empellon and Cesare Casella of Italian restaurant Salumeria Rosi. (Apparently, all the flatlander chefs are bunking summer-camp style with each other for three days to prep.)

Don't like pork? The one-time $35 entry fee will get you access to an entire street of food vendors, including some slinging veggies of many varieties.

It's a fundraiser, so a portion of the proceeds go to helping the Center for Discovery, which runs adult and pediatric rehabilitation programs for disabled individuals and has its own farm.

Pig Mountain Pig Roast and Veggie Fest. Saturday, August 23, 5 - 9 p.m., Main Street, Narrowsburg. $35 tickets. pigmt.com.

911 dispatcher helps Wright family deliver baby at home

A Schoharie County 911 dispatcher guided an expectant father, Rudy de Vries, through the first steps of delivering a baby at home on Wednesday, August 20, after his wife, Amber, went into labor too quickly to make it to the hospital. 

911 dispatcher Becky Brisley took the call, according to a press release from the Schoharie County Sheriff's Office. 

She "talked to the caller in an attempt to calm him and gave instructions as to what he should do for the expectant mother," the press release states.

When paramedics and first responders from the Gallupville Fire Department, the Schoharie County Sheriff's Office, and the Scho-Wright Volunteer Ambulance Squad arrived on the scene, a residence on Route 443, they decided that the delivery of a baby girl was imminent and that there was no time to make it to the hospital.

Everything went well, and the child, named Ava, was born at 12:51 a.m. on Wednesday. She is 8 lbs. 2 oz. and 19” long.

The mother and baby were checked out at Bellevue Hospital in Niskayuna by Scho-Wright Ambulance, and are both doing well, according to the press release. 

Ulster County legislators vote for trail over rail

Above: Catskill Mountain Railroad equipment repairing a portion of the track on the old Delaware & Ulster corridor last week. Photo by John Marino and posted on the CMRR's Facebook page.

In the long-running battle of rails versus trails in Ulster County, the trails just won big. 

In an 18 to 4 vote, the Ulster County Legislature passed Resolution 275 on Tuesday, August 19, supporting the conversion of an old Ulster & Delaware railroad right-of-way between Kingston and Boiceville into a hiking, walking and biking trail.

The Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR), which runs a tourist railroad on the rail corridor and holds a lease on the right-of-way that expires in 2016, has been lobbying hard to keep railroad tracks running all the way from Kingston to the town of Shandaken at the other end of the county.  Read more

Local Sufis open new restaurant in Franklin

Above: Turkish cookies with a cinnamon apple filling at the Tulip and the Rose Café. Photos by Janel Bladow.

A new restaurant that serves an eclectic mix of Turkish specialities and American diner classics is bringing together a Sufi Muslim community and its rural Catskills neighbors.

“More and more we are seeing less and less prejudice,” said café manager Erdem Kahyaoglu. “We want to share – our spiritual lessons and our bread. There’s a Sufi saying, ‘Come, come, whoever you are.’ And we have a sign on our door, ‘Welcome to those who come. Farewell to those who leave.’ So come.”

The Tulip and the Rose Café opened on July 5 in the Delaware County town of Franklin. It is owned and operated by the Osmanli Naksibendi Dergahi, a spiritual retreat center founded by Sufi Muslims that opened in the neighboring town of Sidney 12 years ago. The Sufi center was thrust into the national spotlight four years ago when the town tried to close a cemetery located on its property.  Read more

Downed wire cuts power to thousands in Greene County

About 13,250 Central Hudson customers in Greene and Albany counties were left in the dark late Monday night, after a downed wire cut power to a large area. 

The outage occurred around 9:30 pm on Monday night, and was restored by around 1 am Tuesday, according to Central Hudson spokesperson Denise VanBuren. 

The outages are still under investigation, VanBuren said, but the problem was traced to a phase wire that came down on Paul Saxe Road in Catskill, impacting several substations. 

As of 10:30 pm on Monday, according to Central Hudson's outage map, power was out in most of the households in Cairo, Durham, Greenville, New Baltimore and Tannersville, and parts of Athens, Catskill, Coxsackie and Hunter. 

Three-year-old dies in bungalow colony fire

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Above: A video of the blaze that killed a three-year-old boy in Liberty on Sunday, August 17. Source: Vos Iz Neias News

A three-year-old Orthodox Jewish boy from Brooklyn died in a fire in a Liberty bungalow colony last night, according to the New York State Police.

First responders arrived at Camp Mareh Yechezkel on Route 55 in Liberty around 10:15 p.m. on Sunday, August 17 to find a burning bungalow and reports that a child was trapped inside, according to the State Police press release:   Read more

Windham was home to Nazi summer camp in 1937

Above: A screen shot from "Volks-Deutsche Jungen in U.S.A." The flag on the left features a swastika.

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Above: "Volks-Deutsche Jungen in U.S.A.," a film by the Deutsche-Amerikanische Berufsgemeinschaft (DAB) about a DAB Nazi summer camp for boys in Windham in 1937. 

In the summer of 1937, the Greene County town of Windham was home to a Nazi summer camp, according to archival film footage released by the National Archives Motion Picture Preservation Lab in July.

The film, titled "Volks-Deutsche Jungen in U.S.A.," depicts scores of boys from New York City setting up a summer campsite in a bucolic field in Windham. They exercise, play games, and salute flags emblazoned with Nazi swatiskas and Hitler Youth lightning bolts.

The camp was part of a series of summer camps run in the U.S. in the 1930s by the Deutsche-Amerikanische Berufsgemeinschaft (DAB), a U.S.-based group that promoted Germany and the Nazi party in America, according to the National Archives.  Read more

Flaming sky lanterns cause trouble for neighbors

Above: A sky lantern, a paper-and-bamboo balloon with a wax fuel source at the bottom, being released in England in 2010. Photo by Flickr user Keith Williamson

Revelers at summer gatherings in the Catskills are sending flaming airborne balloons over their neighbors, some of whom aren't happy about it. 

The spent remains of the pretty tissue-paper lanterns, which are lit and then released into the air on still summer nights, have been raining down on Cobleskill resident Fred Dudash's home this summer, according to the Schoharie Times-Journal:  Read more