A five-step guide to boating the Catskills reservoirs

Above: The largest of New York City’s reservoirs, the 15-mile-long Pepacton Reservoir in Delaware County supplies almost a quarter of the city’s drinking water. Photo by John Kocijanski of Catskills Photography.

Four of New York City’s six reservoirs in the Catskills — Pepacton, Schoharie, Cannonsville and Neversink — are open to canoes, kayaks, rowboats and small sailboats from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. The reservoirs hold drinking water for roughly 9.4 million people, and New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is pretty vigilant about keeping them clean. So before you get out on the water, you’ll have to jump through a few hoops.

To boat the reservoirs, you must have a free DEP access permit; if you’re planning on boating more than one reservoir, you’ll need a separate access permit for each. You’ll also need a boat that has been steam cleaned by an authorized steam-cleaning vendor. (Steam cleaning helps stop the spread of invasive plants, animals and other organisms that could harm water quality or the ecology of the reservoirs.) And you must use a DEP-designated launch area for putting in and taking out your boat, which can be only a kayak, canoe, rowboat, scull or small sailboat: No gas-powered boats allowed.  Read more

Car, meet post office (again)

The Hurley post office, after a pickup truck crashed into its front window. Photo by Tania Barricklo/Daily Freeman. Used with permission.

It's not easy being a little post office in the rural Catskills. The U.S. Postal Service is forever threatening to cut your hours or shut you down. And as if that weren't enough: Local post offices seem to be weirdly prone to car crashes.

On Wednesday, a pickup truck helmed by an elderly male driver smashed through the front wall of the Hurley post office, shattering glass and knocking the wall off its foundation.   Read more

State investigates Greene County prison "fight club"

Five corrections officers at the Greene Correctional Facility, a medium-security state prison in Coxsackie, have been placed on leave amid allegations that they forced inmates to fight one another, according to a story in today's Times Union

The state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, which is handling an investigation into the issue, declined to give any details to Times Union reporter Brendan Lyons, but the paper dug up some more information from an unnamed source

A person briefed on the matter, but not authorized to comment publicly, said the officers are alleged to have encouraged the fights in a special housing unit, known as "S-200." The allegations are that the officers in some instances opened the cell doors of inmates who were then attacked by other inmates, according to the person familiar with the investigation.  Read more

Citizen rescuers reunited with Onteora teen whose life they saved

Above: The awards that were given out at the annual awards dinner of the Ulster County EMS Council. Photos by Rich Muellerleile.

Last Friday, Makalia Ouellette, an Onteora High School volleyball player, was reunited with the eight citizen rescuers who saved her life when she went into full cardiac arrest mid-game last October. 

During a volleyball game at Wallkill High School, Ouellette approached her coach, Brittany Alexander, and told her that she felt like she might pass out. A time-out was called just as Ouellette collapsed. She had gone into cardiac arrest.

Nicole Saunders, Brian Vegliando, Julie McLaud, Amanda Murphy, Nick Panieleone, Michael Latino, Stephen Glen Ryther, and Brittany Alexander responded quickly.

They were trained in CPR and an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) use, which allowed them to use the AED to “shock her back to life,” according to Richard W. Muellerleile, the president of the Ulster County Emergency Medical Services Council.

Above: Ouellette, second from left, stands with her rescuers at the awards ceremony.   Read more

Hail in Hamden, tornado warning in Albany

See video

Above: Video of hail falling in the Delaware County town of Hamden on Thursday afternoon, taken by local videographer Jess Vecchione. 

Intense, fast-moving thunderstorms are moving through the Catskills region, bringing rain and, in some places, hail. 

Around 3:39 p.m, forecasters at the National Weather Service in Albany declared a tornado warning for parts of Albany, Montgomery, Saratoga, Schenectady and Schoharie counties, in effect til 4:15 p.m. A second tornado warning was issued, in effect until 4:30 p.m.

Severe thunderstorm warnings have been posted for Delaware and Schoharie counties, where forecasters were calling for quarter- to ping-pong-ball-sized hail. The rest of the Catskills region is under severe thunderstorm watch

Got hail or other intense weather in your neck of the woods? Let us know at editor@watershedpost.com.

Below: Live social-media reports of weather in the Catskills and Capital Region. A tornado may have touched down near Delanson, where a home was destroyed, and two tractor-trailers were overturned on I-88.


  Read more

Our guide to a Catskills Memorial Day Weekend

In Tannersville, Memorial Day means it's time once more for rubber ducks and crazy boats. Photo from the Great Northern Catskills website.

Everybody knows when summer really starts: this weekend. Monday will be marked by official Memorial Day observances in many towns, but all weekend long, there’s plenty of unofficial fun to be had, from music fests to boat races to town-wide yard sales. Here’s our five-county guide to the good times.


The five restored fire towers of the Catskill Park open for the season this weekend: Balsam Lake Mountain in Hardenburgh, Red Hill in Denning, Tremper Mountain in Shandaken, Overlook Mountain in Woodstock and Hunter Mountain in Hunter. Volunteer staffers will be at the towers every weekend from now through Columbus Day, to help fill you in on fire tower history, mountain know-how and more. Lace up your hiking boots and dust off the binoculars for those 100-mile views.  Read more

Foreclosures cancelled on Fleischmanns junkyard properties

Above: The VW Parts property at 717 Wagner Avenue in Fleischmanns that is owned by William Hrazanek. Photo by Julia Reischel. 

Developer Kenneth Pasternak has cancelled a foreclosure sale of two Fleischmanns junkyard properties owned by William Hrazanek, who owes Pasternak more than $1 million in unpaid mortgage payments. The parcels are eligible to be purchased with federal disaster funds by FEMA, but are also allegedly contaminated with pollutants that may bump them out of the buyout program.

The foreclosure sales were scheduled to take place on May 20 on the courthouse steps in Delhi.

"It was cancelled," said Dennis Metnick, Pasternak's lawyer in the foreclosure case. "That is all I can say."

An April 2 foreclosure judgement against Hrazanek for his unpaid debts is still in force, Metnick added.  Read more

Three boaters rescued from East Branch

Above: Rescue crews from the Downsville and Walton volunteer fire departments on the scene of a swift-water rescue operation on the East Branch of the Delaware River near Corbett. Photo by Steve Hood; reproduced by permission. For more photos from the scene, see the Delaware County Emergency Services Facebook page.

It's not even Memorial Day yet, and it's already begun: The season for reminding boaters that placid-looking local rivers and creeks can pack a deadly wallop.

Local firefighters got a chance to put their swift water rescue training into action on Tuesday around 11 a.m., when Downsville and Walton first responder crews were called to the scene of a capsized boat on the East Branch of the Delaware River near Corbett, in the Delaware County town of Colchester.

Three people had gone out fishing in a rowboat and got stranded on a small island in the middle of the river when their boat flipped over, said Steve Hood, director of the Delaware County Department of Emergency Services. Luckily for the trio, someone who lived nearby heard them yelling for help and called 911. 

"They were lucky enough to get to that island," Hood said. "They did not have life vests on."

At least one of the three could not swim because of health issues, Hood said. The river was running unusually high and fast, he said, because of spillover from the Pepacton Reservoir.   Read more

Local school budgets pass

Voters went to the polls Tuesday to decide the fate of local school budgets, and elect members to school boards

In the five counties of our Catskills coverage area -- Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster -- all school budgets passed, most with wide margins. 

In last year's school elections, voters rejected school budgets in Marlboro, Middleburgh and Cairo-Durham. All three districts saw their budgets pass this year; the narrowest vote of the three was in Marlboro, whose budget passed 1,102-1,026.

Here are a few links to detailed coverage of local school election results:

All Ulster budgets get voter approval - Times Herald-Record)  Read more

Catch up with Catskills food trucks

Above: Heather Williams of Pippy's Hotdog Truck greets customers in Palenville. Photo by Clancy Nolan.

The geographic spread of the Catskills region creates often-daunting distances between would-be diners and their dinner plates. One solution to that problem: mobile meals. The food truck scene is growing exponentially here, both in numbers and in variety of cuisine. Artisanal hot dogs, all-sliders-all-the time, Alsatian flammkuchen—there’s a food truck specializing in each of those things, traveling the hills feeding hungry customers. During warm months, they gather for a monthly rodeo in Saugerties called the Hudson Valley Food Trucks Festival; during the winter, many of them operate as catering kitchens that come right to your work or home for parties and events.

Specializing in roasting whole pigs to serve hungry throngs at weddings and parties in Delaware County and beyond, Catskill Mtn. BBQ is a mobile unit (formerly parked in Gilboa), now open in a permanent spot in Grand Gorge also. Pork, brisket, chicken and ribs are marinated and slow-smoked for 14 to 24 hours. Grand Gorgecatskillmtbbqteam.com

Black-Eyed Suzie’s is a travelling food stand and caterer with a local, seasonal menu that changes weekly, celebrating the seasons and using fresh, beautiful local ingredients from neighboring farms. Woodstockblackeyedsuziesupstate.com @BESupstate

  Read more