Homeowners hit by flooding face April 11 deadline for NY Rising help

A year after it was begun, a New York State program to help homeowners pay for damage inflicted by Irene, Lee and Sandy is coming to a close. The NY Rising Housing Recovery Program, which funds repair, mortgage assistance, flood mitigation and buyouts of damaged homes, has declared a deadline of April 11, 2014 for homeowners to apply for assistance.

The program has already paid out over $280 million to 6,388 homeowners around the state whose homes were damaged, according to a press release announcing the deadline.

Catskills residents interested in applying to the program are encouraged to attend one of NY Rising's upcoming outreach events, scheduled in several locations around the region for this Saturday, March 29. The events will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the following locations:   Read more

Maple Weekend isn't over yet

Above: The entries in the "traditional" category of the Fleischmanns First Maple Festival's annual Maple Bake-Off, which was held last Saturday. Photo by Michelle Sidrane. 

The great thing about Maple Weekend is that it's actually two weekends.

Yes, you've got another chance this Saturday and Sunday to taste the first syrup of the 2014 maple season at sap houses and sugar bushes around the Catskills region. Try it fresh out of the evaporator, poured over pancakes, or baked into cookies, cakes, and doughnuts.

Pick up a free copy of the Catskills Food Guide while you're at it: our partners at Shaver-Hill Farm, Roxbury Mountain Maple, and the Frost Valley YMCA all have copies onhand to browse during the maple festivities.  Read more

Hurley standoff ends in arrest

A man who allegedly barricaded himself in his estranged wife's house in Hurley, threatening to shoot anyone who came in after him, was arrested Wednesday after a three-hour standoff with police.

The man, 45-year-old Edward Dixon of Sawkill Road in the town of Kingston, was wanted by police for an incident that occurred at his wife's house the previous day, according to a news release from the Ulster County Sheriff's Office.

Around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday night, Ulster County police responded to a report of a domestic disturbance at the house on Kovacs Drive in Hurley. Dixon was not there when police arrived, but an investigation found that he had entered the house without his wife's permission, fought with her in front of two children, and taken her phone to prevent her from calling 911. Deputies got a warrant for Dixon's arrest.   Read more

This Weekend: Farm to Market Connection Conference

Top: Farmers and food entrepreneurs mingle at the conference. Photo courtsey of the conference's Facebook page. Above: A promotional video for the 2014 Farm to Market Connection Conference. 

Every year, farmers and foodies gather in Sullivan County to discuss the million-dollar question facing the Catskills: How can our rural small farms and businesses reach the enormous New York City market just 100 miles to the south? 

The Farm to Market Connection Conference, sponsored by Pure Catskills and the Watershed Agricultural Council, brings farm and food entrepreneurs together to network and swap ideas for how to make a living out of regional agriculture.  Read more

DEP murder suspect David Reese indicted

David Reese, an employee of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection who stands accused of fatally shooting his coworker in February, was indicted by an Ulster County grand jury on Tuesday, several news outlets report. 

The shooting occurred in the DEP's Kingston office, early in the morning of Monday, February 3. Police say the 53-year-old Reese, a stationary engineer at the department who lived in Gilboa, shot and killed 33-year-old Aron Thomas, a watershed maintainer from Olivebridge.  Read more

Historic Rexmere hotel burns

See video

Top: Fire engulfs the historic Rexmere Hotel around 11 a.m. on March 25, 2014. Photo by Chris Becker. To see a slideshow of the fire as it destroyed the building in about 20 minutes, see the bottom of this story.  

Above: Video of the Rexmere collapsing in flames. Shot by Joshua Sparkes and shared with the Watershed Post. 

The Frank W. Cyr Center, formerly the Rexmere Hotel, burned to the ground Tuesday on West Main Street in the village of Stamford.

According to eyewitnesses at the scene, the fast-moving fire began shortly before 11 a.m. By around 11:20 a.m., the historic seven-story building had collapsed.

Below: Before and after: Two photos of the Rexmere taken about an hour apart on March 25, 2014. The first, taken by Chris Becker, was shot around 11 a.m., shortly after the fire started. Bottom, the same side of the building after it collapsed, taken at noon by Lissa Harris. 

The Stamford Fire Department arrived on the scene minutes after the building's fire alarm went off, according to Chris Becker, who lives around the corner from the Cyr Center on Lake Street, and serves on the board of the nonprofit that owns the building, the Catskill Mountains Educational Center (CMEC). But despite the quick response time, firefighters were unable to prevent the destruction of the building.

"Within 20 minutes, the fire was across the whole front," Becker said.

By around noon, hundreds of firefighters from many local fire companies had arrived and were battling the blaze amid thick plumes of smoke.

Above: Firefighters battle the blaze at the collapsed remains of the Frank W. Cyr Center/Rexmere Hotel midday on Tuesday, March 25. Video by Lissa Harris.

West Main Street was closed to traffic, and the power to the neighborhood was shut down while firefighters fought the flames. Several residents of the street were evacuated shortly after noon because of the thick smoke. One was Patty Beck, another CMEC board member who lives a couple of houses down from the Cyr Center.

"They're worried about the chemicals," said Beck, taking a minute to speak to a reporter from behind the wheel of her car, as she was heading for a friend's house to wait out the aftermath of the fire. Beck was unsure when she would be allowed back in her house.

The blaze engulfed the building with ferocious speed, Beck said. "So fast. It was just like paper."

  Read more

State trooper helps deliver baby on Route 28 in Franklin

A woman in labor who just couldn't make it to the hospital got an assist last week from New York State Police Trooper Timothy West, Jr., who responded to a 911 call just in time to help deliver a baby in a car on a dark, lonely stretch of Route 28 in the Delaware County town of Franklin. 

Around 11 p.m. on March 18, the driver of the car called 911 to report that the passenger was in labor, said Trooper Nathan Riegal, public information officer for Troop C. Within minutes of West's arrival, the baby was born in the parked car, Riegal said. 

"The child was born successfully without any issues," Riegal said. "[West] was able to wrap the child up in a blanket and hand it over to the medical people who arrived. The child was born just as EMS was showing up." 

West has been on the force since 2007, Riegal said. Before last week's call, he had never assisted in a delivery.   Read more

State police raid Windham town hall

So far, there are more questions than answers in the Greene County town of Windham, where state police conducted a raid on the town hall on Friday in which computers were seized. 

The Daily Mail reports that town officials are keeping mum about the raid. Supervisor Stacy Post -- formerly the town's chief of police -- gave the paper only a brief statement: 

Town Supervisor Stacy Post, contacted by cell phone on Friday afternoon, confirmed, “there is an investigation,” and provided no further information.

Greene County's acting district attorney, Charles Bucca, described the raid to the Daily Mail as part of an "open investigation into potential criminal offenses," but did not elaborate.   Read more

Olive woman charged with stabbing

A Shokan woman has been jailed on felony assault charges, after an incident in which police say she stabbed a family member in the back with a kitchen knife. 

Around 11:30 p.m. on the night of Friday, March 21, Ulster County police got a call from Kingston Hospital that the hospital was treating a stabbing victim. Upon investigation, police found that a domestic dispute had occurred at 3382 Route 28 in Shokan, in the town of Olive. During the dispute, 42-year-old Michaeline Zager stabbed a family member in the back with a kitchen knife, police said in a news release.

The victim, who was not identified, was taken to Kingston Hospital in a private vehicle and did not have life-threatening injuries, police said.

Ulster County sheriff's deputies arrested Zager at the house on 3382 Route 28 without incident. She is charged with second-degree assault, a felony, and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a misdemeanor.   Read more

Plattekill man was dealing heroin with a 6-year-old in the house, police say

A house on 850A South Street in the town of Plattekill, the home of a convicted man on probation, has earned a reputation for drug dealing in the neighborhood. On Friday, a police search of the house turned up heroin, cocaine and guns, along with a six-year-old child.

Acting on complaints about heroin dealing at the house, officers from the Ulster County Regional Gang Enforcement Narcotics Team (URGENT) made a probation home check on Friday, March 21. A search of the house found 70 bags of heroin, cocaine, a loaded shotgun, a rifle, a stun gun and roughly $2,600 in cash.

The resident, 29-year-old Mark Nugent, shoved a probation officer and struggled with police when they arrived at his home, according to a statement by the Ulster County Sheriff's Office. The child, who police say was in Nugent's care, was in the house at the time.   Read more