In the Catskills, spring is construction season

Above: The Phoenicia Library under construction. Photo by Nancy Howell. 

Spring in the Catskills means new sounds in the landscape: the patter of raindrops, the tweeting of songbirds, and the sweet, sweet sound of hammers on nails. This season brings a bumper crop of much-anticipated new construction in the area, as several long-planned projects near completion. 

It's been almost exactly three years since the Phoenicia Library, right on the hamlet's main drag, was destroyed in a catastrophic fire. It's been a long haul, but thanks to generous support from donors and the community, the library is rising from the ashes again. In the photo above, taken by Nancy Howell, roofers take advantage of the early spring sunshine on Monday.

Liz Potter, the library's director, is hoping the rebuilt library building will be ready to move the books back into by late July. "We're just tying up loose ends in terms of design," she said. "Soon they'll be putting in the electrical and the plumbing."  Read more

Your awesome photos

You Catskills folks are a talented bunch.

Sixty-five of our readers submitted photos to our 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest before the deadline last night at April 3, 2014, and they're breathtaking. Check them out in the slideshow above or in our Facebook photo album here

Entrants, if you notice that your photo is missing, let me know:

The winner will be announced by Tuesday, May 27, 2014, when we launch this year's 2014 edition of the Catskills Outdoor Guide.

Thanks to our sponsor, the Peekamoose Restaurant & Tap Room, for providing our grand prize of dinner for two to the winner of the contest.

This weekend: The Woodstock Writers Festival

Above: Panelists at last year's Woodstock Writers Festival. Photo by Dion Ogust.

Now in its fifth year, the Woodstock Writers Festival kicks off tonight with four days of workshops, story slams, and panels that put writers, readers and bibliophiles together to talk about what they love.

Many of the events are already sold out, but a few are still open, including the keynote address by actor Stephen Tobolowsky, an interview with Jennifer Clement, the author of Prayers for the Stolen, and panels and workshops on journalism, biography, memoir, fiction, and writing "when a nap is preferable."   Read more

Field Trip: Heather Ridge Farm and the Bees Knees Café

Above: The view from the table at Heather Ridge Farm. Photo by Jennifer Strom. 

Owner Carol Clement calls her place “centrally isolated” at the top of Scott Patent mountain in the southeastern corner of Schoharie County. The location makes a visit there a lovely half-day adventure through gorgeous country from pretty much any direction. The farm raises cattle, pigs, sheep and poultry, and began selling its pasture-raised, grass-fed meat and award-winning raw honey about 10 years ago.  Read more

Police talk Carlisle woman out of fiery suicide


Above: Photo from the scene posted on Facebook by Schoharie Co. Fire Wire & News. 

A 47-year-old woman threatening suicide, and splashing herself and her home with gallons of gasoline, triggered a massive police response to her small single-family home on Route 20 in Carlisle on Tuesday.   Read more

Give us your best shot: The 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest

Above: “Two Boys and a Dog in East Meredith” by Cindy Dunne, the second-place winner of last year's Catskills Outdoor Guide photo contest.

Update: The contest is now closed. Winners will be announced on May 27, when the 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide hits the streets. Thanks for all the great shots. To see all the entries this year, click here. -- Julia Reischel

As part of our 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide, we're hosting a 2014 edition of our "Catskills Outdoor Experience" photo contest, once again sponsored by the Peekamoose Restaurant & Tap Room in Big Indian.  Read more

Go fish: Opening day for trout in the Catskills

Above: Delaware River July 2013, by Jody Bryant, an entry in our Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest. (The deadline to enter is Thursday, April 3.)  

Today is the first day of fishing trout fishing season in New York State, one of the first true signs of a Catskills spring. On cue, the Times Herald-Record recorded anglers taking their first casts of the season at Junction Pool in Roscoe this morning.

Looking to get your fishing permit? Head to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's new online license website, where you can buy and print your license from your computer.   Read more

Tried and true: Catskills restaurants with staying power

Above: The Java Lounge, an upstairs café at Joshua's, overlooks Tinker Street in Woodsock. Photo courtsey of Joshua's.  

It’s an exciting time for the Catskills restaurant scene. In the past few years, the area has launched many new restaurants. (For a smattering, see our related story in the Catskills Food Guide.)

But the flip side is that restaurants tend to come and go, especially in the far-flung rural corners of the region. Nothing puts the kibosh on an evening out as surely as showing up at that cute little bistro you’ve heard so much about only to find that it’s closed, or has changed its hours, or the owners decided to take off for Palm Beach until spring.

Here, then, are a few well-loved mainstays of the local dining scene. If you’re in search of reliable hours, battle-tested entrees and service that runs like a well-oiled machine, look no further.  Read more

Armed woman threatening suicide causes shutdown of Route 212 in Woodstock

Above: A Lenco armored state police vehicle brought in to assist with a situation on Route 212 on Monday, in which police crisis teams arrested a woman who was armed with a handgun and threatening suicide. Photo from the Woodstock Fire Department's blog.

A stretch of Route 212 in the Woodstock hamlet of Lake Hill was closed to traffic for about five hours on Monday morning and early afternoon, after police received a report of a woman firing an illegal handgun and threatening to harm herself, according to a report in the Daily Freeman. 

The Freeman's Diane Pineiro-Zucker has the story

Christine Becker, 62, of 4062 Route 212, was arrested about 3 p.m. and charged with misdemeanor criminal possession of a weapon and with a violation of the state’s mental health law “as a danger to herself,” said state police Senior Investigator Stan O’Dell. He said police recovered the handgun.  Read more

Two victims identified in fatal Route 9W crash

A head-on collision between two BMWs on Route 9W in Highland claimed two lives early Saturday morning. The crash, which was widely reported by local media outlets, shut down 9W for hours. 

Today, the Town of Lloyd Police Department identified the two victims: 50-year-old Wayne Donaldson of Highland, who was driving a 1995 BMW, and 51-year-old Tracey Krug, who was driving a 2005 BMW SUV. Neither driver had any passengers in the vehicle at the time of the collision, which occurred around 6:50 a.m. Police say Krug, who was driving southbound, had crossed into the northbound lane at a high speed when her SUV collided with Donaldson's car.

Donaldson was pronounced dead at the scene. Krug was taken to St. Francis Hospital by Mobile Life Ambulance, where she also was pronounced dead.  Read more