Albany Diocese condemns obituary and mass for accused former priest

In an unusual move, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany condemned an obituary and mass for a former priest who died last week as "highly insensitive" to the people he is accused of sexually abusing while he was a minister.

Former priest Robert H. Purcell, who died in the Delaware County village of Margaretville on Thursday, July 17, was permanently removed from the ministry in 2011 after an investigation by the Albany Diocese's Sexual Misconduct Review Board into charges that he had sexually abused minors.

In its investigation, the Diocese "found reasonable grounds to believe" that Purcell sexually abused minors, including a victim in Margaretville from 1995 to 2001, according to Ken Goldfarb, the director of communications for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, in a statement emailed to the Watershed Post today.  Read more

This Weekend: Catskill Forest Festival

Participants competing in a logging game at the Catskill Forest Festival. Photo courtesy of the Catskill Forest Association.

The fourth annual Catskill Forest Festival will celebrate the region’s forests this weekend by inviting people to participate in fun that promises to also be educational.

The festival, held in Margaretville Village Park on Saturday, July 26, will provide an array of family fun including music, games, horse rides and a food, beverage and vendor tent. 

In the spirit of the festival, vendors will be selling an assortment of crafts made from wood and other forest materials including hand-crafted furniture, boats, wood and pellet stoves and furnaces. Present will also be vendors selling maple products. 

The festival will be host to educational presentations by experts on subjects pertaining to the importance of New York forests such as bringing back near extinct trees and woody biomass opportunities for heating communities. There will also be talks about the history of the eastern golden eagle and forestry for wildlife.  Read more

Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Catskills region

Above: A photo of the radar tracking the storm over Central and Western New York. Photo courtesy of the US National Weather Service Binghamton.

National Weather Service forecasters have issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the Catskills and central New York, including Schoharie, Ulster, Delaware, Sullivan and Greene counties, lasting until 10 p.m. Wednesday night.

The following was posted on the US National Weather Service at Binghamton Facebook page at 2:30 p.m.:

Storms are starting to fire up in central NY. There is a Severe Thunderstorm Watch South and East of Rome, NY to Towanda, PA until 10 PM tonight. We are keeping a close eye on these storms. Be safe and remember, "When thunder roars, go indoors!"

Live radar tracking the storm's progress can be found here.

Wild boars escape in Bethel -- again

Above: Evidence of rooting by recently-escaped Eurasian boars in Bethel. Photo courtesy of the USDA's Justin Gansowski.

For the federal wildlife biologists tasked with keeping New York State boar-free, rounding up Zybysek Trunirz's escaped wild Eurasian boars has become something of a regular occurrence. 

A few weeks ago, it happened again: A group of boars escaped from Trunirz's Goldsmith Road property in the Sullivan County town of Bethel. A neighbor said the group included two "very pregnant" sows, according to a report from TWC News

Since early July, USDA wildlife officials have been in the field in Bethel, trapping and shooting the escaped animals. It took about three weeks, but USDA biologist Justin Gansowski said he believes the agents got them all.   Read more

Olive firewood dealer busted for selling logs infested with emerald ash borer

Above: An adult emerald ash borer. Photo by Jared Spokowsky, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Bugwood.org, via insectimages.org.

Firewood sold on Route 28 in the Ulster County town of Olive was infested with emerald ash borers, a destructive invasive species that is destroying ash trees in the Catskills, according to a press release issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

State environmental and agricultural officers destroyed 14 full cords of infested, cut and split ash firewood and 64 infested ash logs at the site of an unnamed Olive firewood dealer, according to the press release. The officers were alerted to the infested firewood by a tipster.

"If the infected materials were sold or transported off-site, it could have led to the further spread of this invasive species in the region," the press release stated.  Read more

This Weekend: 8th Annual Tannersville Crazy Race & Festival

Above: participants in the Tannersville Crazy Race & Festival make their own motor-less vehicles to race down Main Street. Photo courtesy of Karen Terns.

Crazies, start your engines! 

(Just, no motors, please!)

Purveyors of wacky and wild vehicles are invited to compete on Tannersville’s Main Street on Saturday, July 26 as part of the 8th Annual Tannersville Crazy Race & Festival.

Participants simply have to create their own motor-free cars — using anything from Santa sleighs, flower pots or garbage cans — and be ready to race starting at 2 p.m.  Read more

The Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice celebrates Spain

Above: The tent housing the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice mainstage goes up in Phoenicia's Parish Field. Photo via the festival's Facebook page.

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Above: Camille Zamora performs zarzuela. 

Each year, Phoenicia’s International Festival of the Voice kicks off with something akin to a barn raising. Volunteers unload a massive 5,000-square-foot stage with large white tents flanking from its roost in a local barn and put it together in Parish Park in the tiny hamlet of Phoenicia in Ulster County. 

The tent is already up and ready for this year's festival, which kicks off next Wednesday, July 30, with a theme of “Celebrating Spain.” The five days of vocal events and lectures spread across eight local venues offer a wealth of flamenco and salsa-inspired numbers along with gospel, Jewish liturgical music, shape note singing, and the centerpiece performance of "The Barber of Seville."   Read more

Kingston man arrested on assault, robbery and child endangerment charges

A Kingston man was arrested Monday on robbery, assault and child endangerment charges after he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend and stole her car, according to a New York State Police press release.

Police arrested Charles M. Burgher, 23 of Kingston after an investigation into a domestic dispute in the Town of Esopus.

During the course of the dispute, which played out in front of children, Burgher allegedly assaulted a woman police said he had a relationship with. The woman sustained minor injuries, according to a state police spokesperson.

Burgher forcibly took a set of car keys from the woman during the dispute and fled the area in her car, police said.

State police located Burgher and the car about two miles away from the scene.

Burgher was charged with robbery in the second degree, assault in the third degree and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.  Read more

This weekend: Hudson Valley Chalk Festival in New Paltz

Above: Mike La Casas' chalk piece from the 2013 Hudson Valley Chalk Festival. Photo via the Hudson Valley Chalk Festival's Facebook page.

This weekend, Mike La Casas will create an entire galaxy, complete with stars, planets, rings and meteors. And by Monday, it will most likely be gone.

La Casas, 53, has been composing chalk drawings of galaxies, animals and dinosaurs since he first heard about street art on a radio segment 20 years ago.

On an impulse, he picked up some chalk that day, and still hasn’t stopped.

He said the impermanence of chalk art is part of its allure — it’s what makes it a distinct medium.

And because these pieces of art are fleeting and temporary, unlike other visual artists, chalk artists craft their work for an audience.

“There’s no studio that will let you watch an artist paint,” La Casas said. “This is unique.”

La Casas said he likens street art to performance art, because watching someone create the piece, and the banter between audience and artist, are just as much a part of the experience as appreciating the finished product.  Read more

Delaware County grand jury indicts two on drug charges

An ongoing investigation into heroin and other illegal drug sales in Delaware County has led to the recent arrests of two local people on sealed grand jury indictments, the Delaware County Sheriff's Office announced Friday. 

Arrested on Thursday, July 17 were 31-year-old Gerard Johnson of Walton, who faces charges stemming from the alleged sale of heroin in the village of Walton in June, and 41-year-old Cindy Manon of Arkville, who is accused of selling suboxone in the hamlet of Arkville. Both were arraigned in Delaware County court on Friday and remanded to the Delaware County jail without bail.  Read more