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

Woodstock Writers Radio with Martha Frankel and guests

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

Andes man charged with heroin possession

A 52-year-old Andes man is being held on $250,000 cash bail in the Delaware County Correctional Facility for allegedly possessing 30 bags of heroin in his car and for reportedly bringing a minor child along while trying to buy heroin last fall, according to a press release from the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.

Left: Leland Liddle. Image via the Delaware County Sheriff's Office. 

Leland J. "Lee" Liddle of Andes was stopped in the village of Delhi on Thursday, April 21 for a minor traffic infraction, police say. During the traffic stop, police allegedly found 30 baggies of heroin in the vehicle.

Police had been watching Liddle since at least last fall, when they say they observed him and a minor child waiting in a vehicle at the Unadilla Fishing Access parking area in the town of Sidney to meet with a drug dealer from Queens.  Read more

New York state denies permit to Constitution Pipeline

Above: A natural gas pipeline being constructed. Photo courtesy of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Just in time to celebrate Earth Day, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has announced that it has denied a water quality permit to the Constitution Pipeline.

The pipeline company had hoped to build a 124-mile natural gas pipeline across the northern Catskills from Pennsylvania to existing pipelines in Schoharie County, crossing Broome, Chenango and Delaware counties along the way.

In a press release issued on Friday, April 22, the DEC stated that the pipeline's application "fails to meet New York State’s water quality standards."  Read more

Drinking and reading: Catskills authors to gather at book festival in distillery

Above: The 2015 Catskills Book Festival. Photo via Writers in the Mountains. 

This Sunday, local writers, illustrators, editors, educators, booksellers, publishers and journalists will gather at the Union Grove Distillery in the Delaware County hamlet of Arkville to swap stories and quaff local vodka during the Meet the Authors Catskills Book Festival.

The festival, which is being hosted by the Roxbury-based Writers in the Mountains for the third year in a row, showcases writers who hail from the Catskills, the Hudson Valley and New York City. It joins the Woodstock Writers Festival, held earlier this month, as part of the growing Catskills literary scene.  Read more

Two Deposit residents arrested for allegedly possessing 205 bags of heroin

Above: Police raid an apartment in the Delaware County village of Deposit on Tuesday, looking for heroin. Photo via the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.

With the help of a drug-sniffing dog, police found 205 bags of heroin in an apartment in the Delaware County village of Deposit during a raid on Tuesday, April 19, according to a press release issued by the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.

Police raided the apartment after obtaining a search warrant as part of a heroin trafficking investigation at the Marvin Street Apartments, according to the press release. They allegedly found the heroin, a number of Xanax tablets and $200 in cash.

Above: Debbie L. Moore, left, and John J. Coe, right. Photo via the Delaware County Sheriff's Office. 

The apartment's tenants, 45-year-old John J. Coe and 44-year-old Debbie L. Moore, were arrested and charged with felony possession of a controlled substance, police say.  Read more

As Catskill Mountain Railroad settles lawsuit, Catskills railfans protest compromise deal

Above: A track car used by Catskill Mountain Railroad volunteers to inspect the railway lines. Photo by Ryan Lennox.

The Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) has settled its lawsuit against Ulster County, another sign that the railroad’s management is dropping its adversarial stance against the county in order to increase its chances of winning a contract for a new lease to operate a tourist railway from Kingston to the Catskills. The CMRR’s current lease expires on May 31.

As part of the settlement, according to a press release issued by Ulster County, the CMRR agrees to stop operating on the tracks by May 31. Read the full settlement agreement below or by clicking here.  Read more

Presidential primary day in the Catskills

Above: Photo by Justin Grimes, via Flickr. 

For New York state voters who are registered with a political party, today--April 19, 2016--is the day to vote in New York state's presidential primary election.

It's one of the most exciting primary races in years, with Donald Trump expecting a landslide of Republican votes in his race against Ted Cruz and John Kasich while Hilary Clinton dukes it out with Bernie Sanders for the state's Democratic voters. 

The national and international press is watching New York voters--including some in the Catskills--as they go to the polls today.  Read more

Delaware County will tax commercial solar farms

Above: Michael Sabansky, Delaware County's director of real property tax services, gave a presentation on solar farms to the Delaware County Board of Supervisors on April 13. Photo by Robert Cairns. 

With the possibility of commercial solar electricity generation coming to Delaware County, the Delaware County Board of Supervisors has taken steps to make sure that solar developers pay property taxes.

The board, at its meeting on Wednesday, April 13, adopted a resolution to enter into “host community benefit” agreements for commercial solar installations. The resolution circumvents state rules, which provide property tax exemptions for such installations for 15 years.

Michael Sabansky, the county's director of real property tax services, said that 6,500 letters have been sent to Delaware County landowners soliciting leases for solar installations.

“I'm sure we're going to get a few in the county,” he said. “We do have lots of land and lots of power lines.”  Read more

Over 100 outraged Schoharie residents protest mining expansion

Above: Dawn Johnson addresses the Schoharie Town Board before a crowd concerned residents. The audience was too large for the town hall, so Wednesday's town meeting was moved to a nearby church. Photos by Timothy Knight.

Schoharie residents came out in full force this past Wednesday, April 13 to publicly air their concerns that a local quarry managed by Cobleskill Stone Products (CSP) may be able to expand its mining operations.

Spurred by the anti-mining expansion organization Save Our Schoharie (SOS), the outcry is in response to a proposed settlement between the town of Schoharie and CSP that was announced in March after 11 years of litigation between the two parties.

Over 100 residents filled the town hall in anticipation of the town board's regularly scheduled monthly meeting, prompting the town council members to move the meeting to the nearby Schoharie United Presbyterian Church to accommodate the overflow crowd.  Read more

Twyla Tharp, legendary choreographer, returns to the mountains

Above: Twyla Tharp. Images provided by the Catskill Mountain Foundation.

Since its 1998 inception, the Catskill Mountain Foundation has tried to make Greene County an international destination for dance. This weekend, with world-renowned choreographer Twyla Tharp presenting the results of her six-week residency in Tannersville, the organization has reached a whole new level.

The legendary Tharp, one of the country’s most famous choreographers, has spent the past six weeks in Greene County working on three old and new dances that will be presented to the public on Saturday, April 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the CMF’s historic Orpheum Film and Performing Arts Center in Tannersville. The one-time performance is completely sold out.  Read more

Bite Me Bakery brings the spirit of shuttered Phoenicia café to Shokan

Above: Bite Me Bakery's Chai Latte cupcake. Photos by Rebecca Andre.

Although Bite Me Bakery opened for business on April Fool’s Day, for the faithful customers and employees of the recently shut down Mama's Boy Market in Phoenicia, this was no joke. They are serious about helping Bite Me Bakery, located on Route 28 in the Ulster County hamlet of Shokan, thrive.

"We are like family," said Bite Me Bakery’s owner, Gillian Johnson, who managed Mama's Boy Market until it closed last November. 

A mother and cupcake connoisseur who has been in the restaurant business for 18 years, Johnson suddenly found herself jobless when Mama's Boy Market abruptly closed.

She had quietly built up a loyal following for her cupcakes, which she baked on the side while managing Mama’s Boy, and had thought of opening up her own restaurant in the past.

Above: Bite Me Bakery owner Gillian Johnson talking cupcakes with a young customer.

  Read more

Troubadour Returns: Acclaimed musician Abbie Gardner circles back to Phoenicia

Above: Abbie Gardner. Contributed photo. 

The housekeeping staff is pounding on Abbie Gardner’s door.

“I was recording last night in Nashville,” said the acclaimed singer-songwriter and master of the Dobro-style resonator guitar, laughing into her phone at the Knoxville Red Roof Inn. “I asked for a late checkout, but they didn’t get the message. They never do.”

Gardner, a founding member of renowned Americana trio Red Molly, is on the road, working her way north to play an intimate show presented by Flying Cat Music at the Empire State Railway Museum in Phoenicia on Saturday, April 9 at 7:30 p.m. She’ll be stopping off in Jersey City, New Jersey, to pick up her husband, ace upright bassist Craig Akin (of the band Roosevelt Dime) at their recently purchased 1880-era home.

“He’s knocked down another wall,” she said. “He can only do that stuff when I’m not home.” Again, there’s a smile in her voice. “He’s my favorite bass player. I never know exactly what’s gonna happen when we play together.”  Read more

Three arrested with heroin during Walton traffic stop

Above: Heather L. Terry, Daniel R. Bowker, Jr. and Kyle S. Buckley. Images via the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.

A Walton man who was being investigated in connection with a burglary was arrested when police found heroin in his vehicle during a traffic stop on Monday, April 4, according to a press release from the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.

Twenty-three-year-old Daniel R. Bowker, Jr. was arrested while driving on Delaware St. in the Delaware County village of Walton on Monday afternoon with two passengers, 19-year-old Kyle S. Buckley and 29-year-old Heather L. Terry, police say.

Delaware County Sheriff's Office investigators were looking for Bowker in connection with a burglary of $1,000 in cash and coins that had been reported earlier that day in Walton. When they stopped his vehicle, they allegedly found a "quantity of heroin" inside, according to the press release.

The stolen money was not found in the vehicle, but police charged Bowker with burglary and grand larceny in connection with the burglary, as well as criminal sale of a controlled substance.  Read more