Union Grove Distillery opens in Arkville

Above: Union Grove Distillery owners Brian Mulder and Todd Pascarella cut the ribbon at noon on Feb. 10 to open their new business.

The Catskills have a new distillery: Union Grove Distillery, owned by Todd Pascarella and Brian Mulder, celebrated its grand opening on Wednesday, Feb. 10 with a ribbon cutting in the Delaware County hamlet of Arkville. 

The distillery's first product is Vly Creek Vodka, which is made with wheat and locally grown apples that were pressed in an antique cider press at the nearby Hubbell Family Farm last fall. Mulder and Pascarella have longterm plans to add bourbon and whiskey, products with a long production timeline, to their lineup as well. 

A crowd of 30 people gathered to celebrate on Wednesday in the distillery's new cocktail lounge and tasting room, which features a cracking wood fire, a copper-topped bar and a kids' room.  Read more

How to spend Valentine's Day in the Catskills

Above: Miss Kitty's Saloon, one of the suites at the Roxbury Motel. Image via the Roxbury Motel website. 

According to legend, Saint Valentine was a pretty wild character who was incarcerated and executed for performing illegal marriages back in the third century, so there’s more to celebrate this Sunday, Feb. 14 than the memory of excruciating grade school card swaps.

So reclaim Valentine’s day from the mass-market chocolatiers and minions of mediocrity and celebrate his legacy of radical love with dining, partying, music and fun in the Catskills. Make a weekend of it: we’ve listed a few local hotels and inns that are running lovefest specials.


Woodstock Writers Radio with Martha Frankel and guests

Man dies in Walton fire

Above: Police say the body of a Walton man was found in this burned-out apartment in Walton. Photo by Robert Cairns.

Police say a man died in an early morning fire on Monday, Feb. 8 at an apartment house at 22 Benton Avenue in the Delaware County village of Walton. Four other people escaped safely.

Phillip Kurt, 66, was identified in a Walton Police Department news release as the man who was found, deceased, in an upstairs apartment after firefighters extinguished the flames.

Walton Fire Chief Bob Brown said that his department was dispatched to the building shortly before 4 a.m. after another tenant reported the fire to 911.

“We had a lot of fire coming from the back corner of the house,” Brown said.

Brown said that there were four apartments in the building–two on the ground floor and two on the second–and that the fire was contained to the second floor and the attic above. He said that the downstairs apartments were badly damaged by water and that the building appeared to be a total loss.

Above: The house that burned in the village of Walton on Feb. 8. Photo by Robert Cairns.

Firefighters from Delhi and Trout Creek joined the Walton department at the scene. Brown estimated that about 40 firefighters extinguished the flames in less than an hour.

“We had it knocked down in pretty good shape, but it extended into the roof, he said.

No firefighters were injured during the assault on the fire.

Above: Walton firefighters and state investigators remained on the scene of a fatal fire on Monday afternoon. Photo by Robert Cairns.

Brown said that representatives of the American Red Cross had come to the scene and had made contact with those made homeless by the fire in an effort to assist them.

Delaware County Emergency Services Director Steve Hood said on Monday afternoon that the cause of the fire had not yet been determined.

Members of the county's “cause and origin” team, assisted by investigators from the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, were sifting through rubble at the time.

Above: An investigator from the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control searching for clues to the origin of the fire on Monday afternoon. Photo by Robert Cairns.

“Essentially, right now, we're determining the cause and origin,” Hood said. “Typically, when there's a fatality, we bring in the state.”

Hood said it will be up to police and a medial examiner to officially state the cause of Kurt's death.

At 5 p.m. on Monday, the Walton Police Department issued a statement saying that the cause of the fire was accidental. 

  Read more

Two arrested, 1,087 decks of heroin seized in Woodstock

Above: Drugs, cash and an imitation handgun found in Woodstock on Thursday. Photo via the Ulster Regional Gang Enforcement Narcotics Team. 

Two people have been arrested in connection with a large heroin bust in the Ulster County town of Woodstock, according to a press release from the Ulster Regional Gang Enforcement Narcotics Team.

On Thursday, Jan. 4, police raided a residence located at 165 Ohayo Mountain Road and found 1,087 bags of heroin worth $15,000, police say.

They also found .78 pounds of marihuana, 1.2 grams of crack cocaine, drug packaging materials, methadone, an imitation handgun and $9,825 in cash, according to the press release.

Three people were found in the residence, police say: 56-year-old Allen B. Martin of Woodstock and 38-year-old Marnie J. Henry of Saugerties, as well as a third person who has not been identified.  Read more

This weekend: Get your ice the old-fashioned way

Above: Lifting a block of ice with ice tongs at the 2015 Ice Harvest. Photo by Rebecca Andre of MGP&D.

Before freezers and refrigerators, harvested ice from local ponds, lakes, and rivers was essential to preserve food through the warmer months.

At its peak in the 19th century, the U.S. ice industry employed about 90,000 people and was a $28 million dollar business, according to Wikipedia.

Today, you can harvest ice the way they did 100 years ago at the Hanford Mills Museum in East Meredith, which holds its annual Ice Harvest Festival this Saturday, Feb. 6.

Above: Harvesting ice at the 2015 festival. Photo by Rebecca Andre of MGP&D.  Read more

First responders save man from heroin overdose in Livingston Manor

Above: Narcan, an opioid antidote, saved a life in Livingston Manor on Sunday. Image via Flickr user PunchingJudy.

A 32-year-old man who had overdosed on heroin was saved by first responders who administered two doses of Narcan, an antidote to opiates, in Livingston Manor on Sunday, Jan. 31, police say.

The man, who is not being identified, was found unconscious at the Willowemoc Motel on DeBruce Rd. around 10:40 p.m. on Sunday, according to a press release from the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office.

He had been unconscious for about 30 minutes, was not breathing and had no pulse when Sullivan County Deputy Sheriff Sean Grady found him in the bathroom of one of the motel's rooms, police say.  Read more

Judge: Hanover Farms must pay Shandaken $126,200 in fines

Above: The shuttered Hanover Farms farmstand in Mount Tremper. Photo by Julia Reischel.

The owners of a defunct farmstand in the Ulster County town of Shandaken must pay the town $126,200 in fees for “flagrant and egregious” violations of town law that occurred in 2012 and 2013, an Ulster County Supreme Court judge ruled on Jan. 28.

Al and Alfie Higley began selling produce on a residentially-zoned stretch of Route 28 in 2004. Hanover Farms, as their Mount Tremper farmstand was called, had a long and litigious history with the town of Shandaken before it was ordered to close by a judge in 2013.   Read more

First responders bushwhack six miles over rugged terrain to rescue injured hiker in Lexington

Above: The summit of Sherrill Mountain in Greene County is a three-mile bushwhack from the nearest road. Image via Google maps. 

Five forest rangers and two volunteer firefighters hiked six miles of rough terrain to a remote Greene County mountaintop to rescue an injured hiker on Sunday, Jan. 31, according to a press release from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

At 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, the DEC received a call reporting that a 71-year-old woman from the Ulster County town of Marbletown had been injured near the summit of Sherrill Mountain in Hunter-West Kill Wilderness in the Greene County town of Lexington.

The woman had slid down an icy section between Sherrill and North Dome Mountains, injuring her ankle, according to the press release.  Read more

Seven arrested in Walton meth lab; three children rescued

Top row: Tammy Lewis, Amanda Bicknell and Emily Uhl. Middle row: Johnny Uhl, Brooklynn Alford and James M. Klinegardner. Bottom: James J. Nash. Photos via the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.

Seven people were arrested in a raid on a meth lab operating in a home in the Delaware County village of Walton on Tuesday, Jan. 26, according to a press release from the Delaware County Sheriff's Office. Three children were rescued from the scene and were placed into immediate foster care, police say.

The Delaware County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigation Division has been investigating the sale and manufacture of methamphetamine in Walton, and on Tuesday morning the division obtained a search warrant for a property located at 116 East St. in Walton.

Thirty-one-year-old Amanda Bicknell, 35-year-old James J. Nash and 38-year-old James M. Klinegardner were all living at the residence, police say. 

  Read more

Teachout to run for 19th district, putting political spotlight on Catskills

Fordham University law professor Zephyr Teachout ended weeks of speculation on Monday, Jan. 25 by announcing her candidacy for outgoing Republican Congressman Chris Gibson’s 19th congressional district seat, which represents the Catskills and the Hudson Valley in New York.

Left: Zephyr Teachout. Photo by Digital Media, via Wikimedia Commons. 

Teachout’s announcement puts the Catskills region, formerly a gerrymandered political backwater before a judicial redistricting effort in 2012, at the center of New York State politics.  Read more

Bald eagles move into Margaretville nest

A pair of bald eagles has set up house in a nest on Route 30 in the Delaware County town of Middletown near the village of Margaretville. Watershed Post correspondent Rebecca Andre took this shot of the pair on Sunday, Jan. 24. To see a larger version of the photo, click here. 

Bald eagles mate for life, and build huge nests that are used over many years and can grow up to six feet wide and eight feet deep. The best time to catch a glimpse of bald eagles is in the morning between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and in the early afternoon between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., according to the New York State Department of Conservation's eagle fact page.

"Not your grandfather's Catskills:" Forum crosses county lines to talk tourism

Above: Tom Joyce of Andes in Delaware County, Lisa Lyons of Livingston Manor in Sullivan County and Robert Eggleton of the town of Rockland in Sullivan County talk about a map of the Catskills at a Jan. 23 forum about tourism and economic development in the region. Photo by Rebecca Andre.

At a forum at the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development in the Delaware County town of Arkville on Saturday, Jan. 23, officials from four Catskills counties agreed that tourism is key to the economic future of the Catskills region.

"This is not your grandfather's Catskills," said Geddy Sveikauskas, who led the discussion. Sveikauskas is the founder of the Woodstock Times newspaper and a member of the board of the Catskill Center.

In front of an audience of 23 people, representatives from the town of Andes in Delaware County, the town of Hunter in Greene County, the hamlet of Livingston Manor in Sullivan County and the town of Woodstock in Ulster County brainstormed ways to work together to attract more tourists to the Catskills.  Read more

DEC to suspend permits for troubled Schoharie streambank project

Above: Flood damage in a Schoharie County stream. Photo via SchoharieStreams.com. 

In the latest blow to Schoharie County's floundering $29.5 million streambank remediation project, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has notified county leaders that it intends to suspend all DEC permits for the project.

In a Jan. 20 letter addressed to Schoharie County Board of Supervisors Chairman Earl VanWormer, County Administrator Steve Wilson and Commissioner of the Department of Public Works Dan Crandall, DEC Deputy Chief Permit Administrator Michael Higgins cited the agency’s power to suspend permits if the project has failed to operate under the agreed-upon terms and conditions.

Project mismanaged

The controversial streambank mitigation project was originally intended to fix flood damage in Schoharie County streams caused by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.  Read more

Rangers rescue three hikers stranded on Kaaterskill Falls

Above: Kaaterskill Falls in winter 2007. Photo by Jason, via Flickr. 

On Saturday, Jan. 16, New York State Forest Rangers rescued three hikers who became stranded on a notoriously dangerous unofficial trail near the top of Kaaterskill Falls, a 260-foot double-decker waterfall in the Greene County town of Hunter. 

According to a press release from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, three male hikers called 911 after getting stranded near the top of Kaaterskill Falls around 6:15 p.m. on Saturday.

Three DEC Forest Rangers responded to the call and set up a rope safety line that allowed the hikers to "safely hike up the trail to the top of the falls," according to the press release. "The hikers met the rangers at the top of the falls and then walked out safely on the rail trail."  Read more

Two men die after pickup hits tree in Rosendale

Two men died after a 1996 Dodge Ram pickup truck hit a tree in the Ulster County town of Rosendale on Wednesday, Jan. 20, police say.

The men, 58-year-old driver Ronald Myroniuk and 58-year-old passenger Robert Myroniuk, both of Cottekill, were driving on Lucas Ave. near the intersection with Tan House Brook Road around 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, according to a press release from the Ulster County Sheriff's Office.

The driver, Ronald, was pronounced dead at the scene after being extricated from the wreck of the truck. Robert, the passenger, died of his injuries at Westchester Medical Center late on Wednesday evening after being transported there by helicopter with serious injuries, police say.

Police say that neither of the men was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, although the driver's side airbag did deploy.

Town of Rosendale Police and the Ulster County Sheriff's Office investigated the crash, along with fire departments from Cottekill, High Falls, Stone Ridge and Marbletown and the Mobile Life Support Ambulance Service.

Walton man dies after being hit by car

Above: The intersection in the village of Walton where a man was killed after being hit by a car last Thursday. Image via Google Maps. 

A 31-year-old man was killed on Thursday, Jan. 14 after being hit by a car in the Delaware County town of Walton, police say. 

Chad Stadler of Walton was in the roadway around 8 p.m. at the intersection of Route 10 and Prospect Ave. in the village of Walton when he was hit by a car driven by 51-year-old Bryan Mead, according to a press release from the Walton Police Department. 

Stadler died of his injures after being transported to Delaware Valley Hospital in Walton and then Wilson Memorial Hospital in Johnson City, police say.

The New York State Police, the Delaware County Sheriff's Office, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the Walton Fire Department all assisted at the scene, the press release reports. 

Route 28 grow house busted in Shokan

A Shokan man was arrested on Thursday, Jan. 14 after town of Olive police found a "substantial" marijuana growing operation in a house on Route 28, according to a press release from the Ulster County Regional Gang Enforcement Narcotics Team.

According to the release, 44-year-old Kyung-Ku La is the sole occupant of a residence at 3097 Route 28 in Shokan.

On Jan. 14, a residential alarm went off at the property. Police responding to the alarm noticed a "strong smell" of marijuana coming from inside the structure.

After police obtained a search warrant for the property, they found "over 22 pounds of marijuana in all stages of preparation" inside, they say.

La was charged with felony possession of marijuana in the first degree and unlawfully growing cannabis, a misdemeanor, police say.

Update: A previous version of this story included an image from Google Street View of a barn located on the parcel where the pot bust occurred. We've removed the image. 

Catskill Heritage Alliance mulls suing towns for approving Belleayre Resort

Above: A rendering of one of the hotels in the planned Belleayre Resort. Image via the Crossroads Ventures website.

The planning boards of the towns of Middletown and Shandaken approved permits for the long-awaited Belleayre Resort last week, in a move that could get them sued by the Catskill Heritage Alliance (CHA), which opposes the project.

The CHA is already suing the New York State Department of Conservation (DEC) over its review of the Belleayre Resort project, arguing that the DEC did not properly consider all options for and objections to the proposed development. 

Now that the towns where the resort wants to build have issued permits for the project, the CHA may file lawsuits against them as well, according Kathy Nolan, the chair of the CHA.

“We were provoked,” Nolan said. “The planning boards’ actions pushed us into a position of having to consider litigation that we had hoped to avoid.”

17 years of review  Read more

The Catskills: David Bowie's final resting place?

Above: Bowie on the cover of "Aladdin Sane."

British newspapers are abuzz with speculation that David Bowie's ashes could be scattered in the Catskills in the wake of the pop singer's death from cancer on Sunday, Jan. 10.

Bowie was a fixture in the Ulster County towns of Woodstock and Olive, reportedly hitting the 28 West Gym, appearing at Woodstock Day School and buying art supplies at Catskill Art and Office Supply.

Somewhere in Woodstock or Olive--although no one will say exactly where--Bowie and his wife, Iman, owned a mountainous retreat which several newspapers speculate might become the singer's final resting place .  Read more

Man dead after payloader sinks in icy pond, police say

The driver of a piece of farm equipment died on Wednesday, Jan. 13 when the vehicle, a four-wheel payloader, sank upside down in an icy pond in the Schoharie County town of Wright, according to the Schoharie County Sheriff's Office.

A press release issued by Schoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond reports that county authorities responded to a 911 call at a private pond located on an icy, steep slope in Gallupville on Rickard Hill Road between Pickett Hill Road and Abrams Road at 4:43 p.m. on Wednesday.

First responders from the county sheriff's office as well as the Gallupville, Berne and East Berne Fire Departments and the Central Bridge Rescue Squad worked for hours at the scene, according to the press release.

At 7:25 p.m., a tow truck managed to remove the payloader from the pond, and its operator was found dead in the cab, police say.

The driver, who had been transported to Albany Medical Center for an autopsy, has been identified as 54-year-old Gary Schultz, according to CBS 6 Albany  Read more