Nation watches Bloomingburg's tensions over influx of Hasidim

Above: Bloomingburg in 2008. Photo by Daniel Case, via Wikimedia Commons.

National news outlets like Bloomberg News and Newsweek are watching the tiny Sullivan County village of Bloomingburg, which is being rocked by controversy over the arrival of a large community of ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews.

On Sept. 30, the village held a referendum on whether or not to dissolve itself and to transfer its governance to the town of Mamakating.

The outcome of the vote won't be known for weeks, according to Time Warner Cable News, because the votes are being challenged and counter-challenged.

Those who want the dissolution hope that it will allow the larger population of Mamakating to repeal the village's zoning laws and stop the construction of a housing development that many expect will fill with Hasidic Jews moving north from Brooklyn.  Read more

DEC and volunteers clean up garbage, tires in Kaaterskill Clove

Above: Volunteers stand beside trash they picked up in Kaaterskill Clove during a clean-up event on Oct. 5. Photo by Georgette Weir.

Volunteers and New York State Department of Conservation staff picked up tires and filled over a dozen large garbage bags with trash during a litter clean-up event in Greene County's Kaaterskill Clove on Sunday, Oct. 5, according to a press release from the Catskill Conservation Corps, the event's organizer.

The clean-up effort targeted parking areas and trails near Kaaterskill Falls, which is one of the attractions along scenic Route 23A, a mountain road that has been plagued with trash this summer. (We wrote about local outrage over the trash last month.)

That outrage is being channeled into action. Along with DEC staff and a newly-appointed "backcountry steward," nine volunteers showed up on Sunday to pick up litter in Kaaterskill Clove, the press release stated:  Read more

22-year-old dies in Meredith motorcycle accident

Left: Ethan-Jon Sackett, in a photo published with his obituary

A 22-year-old from Delhi died on Monday, Sept 29 in a motorcycle accident on County Road 10 in the Delaware County town of Meredith, according to the Daily Star.

Ethan-Jon Sackett was a motorcycle enthusiast who worked at Clark Companies in Delhi, according to his obituary

The Daily Star reported that the New York State Police are investigating the cause of the accident:  Read more

Columbus Day Weekend in the Catskills: Fests, food, fiddlers and foliage

Can you flip a tractor tire? Test your mettle at the Farm Olympics, happening this weekend at the annual Taste of the Catskills festival in Delhi. Photo by Eamon Queeney.

Columbus Day Weekend is coming up, and the Catskills are making the most of summer's last hurrah.  

If you're a Catskills local, you've been living in a slow-mo fireworks display for a couple of weeks now, as maples, beeches, birches and oaks erupt in a dazzling riot of fall color. This weekend brings peak foliage to the lower elevations of the Catskills and the Hudson Valley -- and while the high-elevation slopes are just a little past peak, there is still plenty of brilliant color all around.

Lark in the Park, a ten-day, Catskills-wide celebration of the great outdoors, wraps up on Monday. Between now and then are dozens of guided hikes, paddles, outdoor volunteer opportunities and more, ranging from family-friendly woods walks to off-trail bushwhacks for experienced outdoorsfolk. Choose your own adventure from our special Lark in the Park calendar  Read more

The Higleys' new Shokan farmstand opens for business

Above: The Greenheart Farmstand on Oct. 8, 2014. Photo by Ben Fenton.

The Greenheart Farmstand is selling pumpkins and produce this week at the former Bank of America building on Route 28 in the Ulster County hamlet of Shokan, according to its customers and to Drew Boggess, the chair of Olive Planning Board.

The farmstand opened on Oct. 3, and will be open 24 hours a day, according to a customer who spoke with Alfie Higley Jr. this week.

Higley owns the farmstand with his father, Al Higley Sr. Neither Higley could be reached for comment.

Boggess told the Watershed Post yesterday that the Olive Planning Board granted permission for the farmstand to open in Shokan at a meeting on Sept. 16. The Ulster County Plannning Board has given the go-ahead for it as well, he said.

The Greenheart Farmstand is a reincarnated version of the Higleys' popular and embattled Hanover Farms farmstand, which operated in the neighboring town of Shandaken for over a decade.  Read more

Expect lane closures on Route 990V in Gilboa throughout October

Above: A three-mile stretch of Route 990V in Schoharie County will experience closures throughout October as it undergoes repairs.

The New York State Department of Transportation and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection will be repairing a 3-mile stretch of Route 990V in Gilboa for three weeks in October, according to a press release issued by the DEP last week.

Expect lane closures throughout the month if you are traveling along the road between Route 30 and County Road 39, an section that passes the DEP's Gilboa Dam, the Gilboa Town Hall and the Gilboa-Conesville Central School building. 

The work was scheduled to start the week of Oct. 6 and last for three weeks, according to the press release.

The $740,000 repairs will be funded by the DEP under terms of the 1997 Watershed Memorandum of Agreement, which governs NYC's deal with upstate towns about the maintenance of dams, reservoirs, and surrounding roads. Construction at the Gilboa Dam has put increased truck traffic on 990V.

Unfiltered minerals in Catskills water are the key to NYC's bagels

Above: A bagel with lox from H&H Bagels Midtown East. Photo by Flickr user Kenneth Lu.

A story by the business news site Quartz on Oct. 7 confirmed what New Yorkers already know: The secret to NYC's bagels is in the water. 

Bagel entrepreneurs are so desperate to mimic NYC's water that they have spent years and lots of cash adding those minerals back into their own water in places like Denver and Florida, Quartz reports.

The site interviews Josh Pollack, a bagel maker in Denver, who has developed a secret formula to put NYC-style water into his bagels:

“It’s mainly New York’s watershed program that’s the difference,” he says of the initiative that protects the region’s natural water sources, enabling local utilities to minimally-process the city’s drinking water. “They don’t use a sediment filter for their water, so a lot of the minerals that come from the reservoirs, as a result of those watershed protections, are still in the water." ...  Read more

Fire destroys Jewish summer camp near Monticello

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Above: The Monticello Fire Department's assistant fire chief talks to a Times Herald-Record reporter about a fire that burned bunkhouses and bungalows at Camp Shira, a Jewish summer camp near the Sullivan County village of Monticello on Monday, Oct. 6.

Much of Camp Shira, a Jewish summer camp in a rural Sullivan County community dotted with camps and bungalow colonies, was destroyed by a fast-moving fire on Monday, Oct. 6, according to the Times Herald-Record and other news outlets.

Camp Shira, located the community of Sackett Lake, operated as Camp Ta-Go-La in the 1950s and 1960s.  Read more

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Stayin' Alive: Don't Get Burned

Gianna Muellerleile tries on firefighter gear at her preschool in 2013. Photo by Jake Millman at Beginnings Preschool in Boiceville.

Not only is this week Fire Prevention Week, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo has just declared that today, Oct. 7, is Firefighter Appreciation Day. To mark the occasion, we've asked Rich Muellerleile, a firefighter, paramedic, and longtime Watershed Post columnist to give us a few fire safety tips. Read all installments of Rich's column, Stayin' Alive, by clicking here. - Ed. 

“In the first Place, as an Ounce of Prevention is worth a Pound of Cure, I would advise 'em to take care how they suffer living Coals in a full Shovel, to be carried out of one Room into another, or up or down Stairs, unless in a Warmingpan shut; for Scraps of Fire may fall into Chinks and make no Appearance until Midnight; when your Stairs being in Flames, you may be forced, (as I once was) to leap out of your Windows, and hazard your Necks to avoid being oven-roasted.” – An old citizen

As incredible as it may seem, this quote, which begins with a familiar household adage and was published as an anonymous letter in the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1735, was actually written by the newspaper's publisher, Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin's letter was a succinct and relevant fire safety message that, for the most part, does not apply to our present day – unless you routinely carry hot coals from room to room to keep comfortable. (After all, we are in the Catskills.)

It is without doubt, however, that the "Ounce of Prevention" axiom holds resoundingly true in many of the things we do from day-to-day. No matter what calamity you deal with, it is much more easily addressed by preventing it altogether than having to deal with its aftermath.

Enter the annual tradition of Fire Prevention Week, which falls on Oct. 5 - 11 this year.

National Fire Prevention Week is not just a local fire department showing up at your elementary school and conducting a fire drill. According to the National Archives and Records Administration's Library Information Center, Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health and safety observance on record.  Read more

The new hunter-gatherers: Foraging in the Catskills

Above: An Autumn Olive (Wildberry) Mojito. Photo courtesy of Marguerite Uhlmann-Bower. Make your own with the recipe at the bottom of this story.

Foraging for food that grows wild has long been a hobby for nature lovers out walking in the woods. But increasingly, more people are doing what their primitive ancestors did: picking up their spades and baskets and searching out edible flowers, leaves, roots, shoots, nuts and berries.

Left: Dina Falconi, a Catskills forager. 

Two upstate women—Dina Falconi and Marguerite Uhlmann-Bower—are leading the march into the forests and meadows. According to them, there’s plenty of free food out there for the picking; you just need to know what to look for.

Falconi, a Marbletown resident who grew up in New York City, has been steeped in the world of wild-plant identification, foraging and cooking for 30 years now. But growing up, she had no idea what was waiting out in the woods.  Read more