When the going gets tough, the tough collaborate

The rural Catskills have never been an easy place to do business. When the rest of the country is popping champagne corks and watching the stock market boom, the good times always seem to pass us by. And when recessions hit, the already-hungry local economy tightens its belt even further.

What can a small mom-and-pop business do to weather the storm? In Delaware County, a pair of tiny eateries are trying teamwork. For the last month or so, the Cha Cha Hut (a BBQ joint in Andes) has been collaborating with the Kaaterskill House (a coffee shop in Stamford) to do pre-ordered BBQ delivery for the Kaaterskill House's customers. From a recent story in the Mountain Eagle:  Read more

Daily Star: Legalize gay marriage

The Oneonta Daily Star printed an emphatic call for New York to legalize gay marriage today, in a strongly-worded editorial that cited the First Amendment and Elton John:

Singer Elton John, who is openly gay, said he is tired of being treated like a second-class citizen in the U.S. John became a father to a baby boy on Christmas Day with his partner, David Furnish.

John is right. Gays are treated unfairly in our country. They are denied the right to marry the person they love.  ...

It's time we stopped degrading our gay brothers and sisters. They are people, too, and they deserve the same rights as every other person.

The paper states that New York's new set of government officials could take up the issue this spring.

Hancock trailer burns down

WBNG Action News is reporting that a fire engulfed a Hancock trailer home this morning. Although the trailer didn't have a smoke detector installed, the article reports that "2 adults and three kids living at the home made it out safe after noticing the fire."

A cube off the old block

The staff of the Hanford Mills Museum cuts ice blocks in preparation for Saturday's Ice Harvest Festival. Image from the Hanford Mills Facebook page.

Ice used to be a crop in the days before refrigeration, and at the Hanford Mills Museum in East Meredith, it still is. On Saturday, the museum is hosting its annual Ice Harvest Festival, where visitors can grab a vintage saw, wrest blocks of ice out of a pond, and then haul them to an ice house for storage long into the spring and summer.

This year's festival is stuffed with food, outdoor fire pits, hockey demonstrations, and the ice-carving stylings of the SUNY Delhi Hospitality Center's Ice Team. For more info, see the calendar entry in our Catskills Event Calendar.

Esopus Creek is now clean, DEP says

Eager to put that whole "Willy Wonka's chocolate river" thing behind it, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection issued a press release today stating that the Esopus Creek is running clear again.

The DEP's practice of releasing turbid water into the Esopus from the Ashokan Reservoir to clean NYC's water supply came under intense fire this winter from Ulster County officials and residents -- so much so that the DEP stopped the releases early and began flushing the creek with clean water, as we reported last week.

Today, the DEP stresses that everything seems to be back to normal:  Read more

Happy Imbolc

In case you've forgotten about the holiday, the Hudson Valley Geologist is here to remind you.

Imbolc -- traditionally celebrated on the halfway point between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox, which this year falls on February 3 -- is an important holiday in the Celtic Pagan calendar, traditionally devoted to the goddess Brigid, fire, and pregnant sheep. Steve writes:

One traditional Irish legend regarding Imbolc is about the Cailleach, the old hag.  If the Cailleach knows winter will last for a while yet, she will make sure the weather on Imbolc is bright and sunny so she can gather plenty of firewood.  If Imbolc is a day of foul weather it means the Cailleach is asleep and winter is almost over.  Very similar to the groundhog and his shadow!  The weather was pretty nasty so I guess spring will arrive soon!  Read more

The play's the thing at STS

Upstate Oddities, a blog dedicated to photos of the weird and wonderful things its author stumbles across in her forays around the Catskills, has a post this week dedicated to the Shandaken Theatrical Society, housed in the old Shandaken Oddfellows Hall.  Read more

Looking up in Sullivan County

While the demise (again) of Liberty's Munson Diner is making sad news today in the New York Times, there are plenty of more hopeful things afoot in Sullivan County as well. A couple of upcoming events for those interested in making Sullivan County a nicer place:

1. The Great Sullivan County Foodraiser this Saturday at four different venues -- which, from the poster above, looks like it's going to be a foot-stomping good time. (Hat tip to the Zinc Plate Press blog for the notice.)

2. Sullivan Renaissance's community meeting to discuss ongoing revitalization efforts in Monticello, to be held at the Monticello Fire House on Sunday, February 13. From the Catskill Chronicle:  Read more

Correction: Teen shot in Owego Monday was from Fort Plain

When news broke of the death of 15-year-old Naomi Miklic -- who was fatally shot in a car in Owego on Monday, an incident in which two Cherry Valley men now face charges -- police initially said the teenager was from Cherry Valley. In fact, the Utica Daily News reports, she was a runaway from Fort Plain in Montgomery County.

The Utica paper has a heartbreaking story about Miklic today, which implies that some of Miklic's next of kin found out about her death via the Internet.

“She was a very outgoing girl,” recalled Dee Ostrander, whose two young daughters are Miklic’s sisters. “She was wild at heart, looking for love and happiness… She was a fun-loving person.”

Miklic, of Fort Plain, was just 15 years old when she reportedly ran away from home (for reasons not publicly released) recently. She was missing, according to Fort Plain Police reports, and on Monday, she was shot and killed in the Binghamton area, several counties away.  Read more

Budget blues

This week, Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled his budget plan for New York, which is designed to close a $10 billion gap without raising taxes. 

This means cuts, cuts, cuts.

Local schools districts stand to see their budgets sliced by ten to twenty percent under the plan, the Daily Freeman reports. In an editorial yesterday, the New York Times expressed special concern about the education cuts:

We are particularly concerned about his deep cuts in education spending, which will reinforce the deep gap between poor and wealthy school districts.  Read more