Now showing: Michael Koegel in The Foreigner

Michael Koegel, owner of the Mama’s Boy coffee shop on Main Street in Phoenicia, is still a very fresh face in town. The former Manhattanite moved up to the mountains full-time to open up his shop just last year. But he’s already jumped into small-town life with both feet – especially through the Shandaken Theatrical Society. Through next weekend, Koegel is starring in STS’s production of The Foreigner, which he also co-directed with STS’s artistic director, Amy Wallace. It’s a rollicking comedy set in the hill country of backwoods Georgia. From the STS website:

In Larry Shue’s hilarious farce, Charlie Baker, a proofreader by day and a boring husband by night, adopts the persona of a foreigner who doesn't understand English. When others begin to speak freely around him, he not only becomes privy to secrets both dangerous and frivolous, he also discovers an adventurous extrovert within himself.

We caught up with Koegel to find out how the show is going. (And maybe to steal a few of his time management tips.)

Watershed Post: Putting on a show is always a challenge. But you’re directing the show and playing the lead role at the same time. While running a new small business. How’d you survive?  Read more

DEP officials visit flooded Warwarsingers

Adam Bosch at the Times Herald-Record reports that the pleas of Wawarsing residents about their perennially flooded basements were finally heard by New York City Department of Environmental Protection authorities yesterday when top DEP officials showed up in their basements to help pump out the water.

[S]everal New York City water officials, including Deputy Commissioner Paul Rush, showed up with supplies.

"I'm very glad they came," said Julianne Lennon, a leader of the homeowners' group. "They have to be in each one of these homes to see what we go through."

Farming Stamford in 1950: "These hills are not barren"

Proof that it really is "two rocks for every dirt." Photo of workers digging up rocks on the Taylor farm in Stamford, circa 1950.

The Delaware County New York Geneaology and History website has just re-published, free of charge, the entire text of "These Hills Are Not Barren," a memoir of the farming life in the middle of the last century in Stamford that has been out-of-print for years. The author is George D. Taylor, the patriarch of the Taylor farm, who begins his book with a description of winter weather which is uncannily familiar during these ides of March:  Read more

Sullivan County flood update: Some flooded roads, but no major flooding

Posted on the Sullivan County website this morning:  Read more

Not so bad after all

Sandbags outside Ricciardella's Restaurant this morning in Phoenicia. Photo by Aaron Bennett.

After the dire warnings of the past two days, the flooding isn't as bad as expected.

Ulster County Emergency Communications Director Arthur Snyder emailed at 12:30 to report that the worst for Ulster County was over:

Good afternoon The high end of the rainfall total was Phoenicia at 4.95", 3.94" in Woodstock, 3.82" in Bearsville and 3.72" at Slide Mountain.

The Upper Esopus crested at 15.8' at 5:15 this morning (4.8' above flood stage), the Lower Esopus crested at 23.05' at Mt Marion at 9 AM (3' above flood stage). The Rondout appears to have crested at about 11 AM at 21.4' (almost 3 1/2' above flood stage. The Wallkill is at 12.64' and rising (flood stage is 13'). Flood warnings remain in effect.

From 6 PM last evening until noon today, the fire service has pumper over 230 cellars throughout Ulster County.

There were eight separate rescues from vehicles of people who tried to drive through flooded roadways.

Evacuations occurred in parts of Shandaken, Saugerties, Town of Kingston and Woodstock. Ad hoc shelter were established at Belleayre Ski Center, Saugerties Sr Citizens Center and the Sawkill Firehouse.

States of Emergency have been declared in the Town of Kingston and the Town of Shandaken.

There are currently about 30 roads (or portions thereof closed). This is declining hour by hour as waters recede and roads are inspected by highway personnel.

Damage assessments forms have been faxed to all highway departments and all chief elected officials. Please complete these for significant damages.

The Wallkill is not anticipated to rise more than another foot or so, roads are re-opening and residents are returning to clean up their homes. Unless things change dramatically, this will be the final update for this storm. Thank you to everyone for a job well done.

We "have dodged a flooding bullet," Michael Koegel told us via phone earlier today, from his Mama's Boy restaurant on Main Street Phoenicia. In New Paltz, the Wallkill River flooded Rte. 299 and Springtown Rd. in New Paltz -- see photos at the Times Herald-Record.

In Delaware County, a National Weather Service flood warning is still in effect as of 2pm:

The National Weather Service In Binghamton Has Issued A * Flood Warning For A Portion Of The West Branch Delaware River...And Adjacent Small Streams... Central Delaware County... * Until 215 PM EST Friday... * At 813 AM EST...River Gauges Indicated That Water Levels Had Risen Over Flood Stage Just Above Delhi...Along The West Branch Of The Delaware. Although Heavy Rainfall Has Ended...Local Runoff Continues...Both From Earlier Rainfall And Snowmelt. Smaller Tributaries In The Vicinity Will Also Likely Experience High Water Levels. * Some Locations That May Experience Flooding Include Delhi...East Delhi...And Hamden.

One person in Delhi reported this morning that Legion Field was partially covered with water, and overflow on the Fowler Finch Dam in Sidney prompted the town supervisor to declare an emergency area immediately surrounding the dam. But other than that, things seem to be pretty quiet out there.

We took a tour along Rte. 28 this morning and again this afternoon to survey the floodwaters. As we passed Phoenicia at 7am, we saw the Esopus Creek just touching the bottom of the Bridge St. bridge. By 12:30, however, the waters had fallen somewhat. Here's the view from the Main St. bridge towards the Esopus at that time:

  Read more

State of emergency in Sidney Center/Wheat Hill Road

Sidney supervisor Bob McCarthy has declared a state of emergency in the area of the Fowler Finch Dam. Here's the press release we received from Delaware County around 7am:

Town of Sidney Supervisor Robert McCarthy has declared a State of Emergency pertaining to the Fowler Finch Dam located on Wheat Hill Road.

This State of Emergency is isolated to the dam only, as well as the inundation area in the vicinity of Wheat Hill Road and the Hamlet of Sidney Center. There are no emergency orders related to this State of Emergency, and no roads are closed.

The situation is being monitored by Delaware County Engineers and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and a determination will be made as to the best corrective action for this situation.

State of Emergency in Shandaken, road closures in Hamden, Delhi, Accord, Rosendale

According to a 5am email from Ulster County Emergency Communications Management Director Arthur Snyder, the town of Shandaken has declared a state of emergency, and there have been several rescues on Rte. 209. Here's the email in full, which includes a slew of road closures:

Good morning
The following update is valid as of 5 AM. However this is a very dynamic
States of Emergency - Town of Shandaken
Shelters - staff at Belleayre Ski Center have established a shelter
Rescues - several people have been removed from vehicles on Route 209
Cellar pumps (since midnight) - > 40
Road Closures - (changing by the minute)
     Rt 32 in Rosendale - 1 lane
     Rt 209 in Accord
     Numerous County and Town Roads including (but not limited to)
Sawkill, Springtown, Kyserike, Old Clove, Plank, Zena, Wittenburg
Rain - heavy rain early, tapering to showers by late morning
Flood warnings - urban areas and small streams, Upper and Lower Esopus,
Rondout and Wallkill.

Town of Shandaken Shelters - staff at Belleayre Ski Center have established a shelter Rescues - several people have been removed from vehicles on Route 209:

In Delaware County, Basin Clove Road in Hamden and County Highway 18 in Delhi are closed, according to the county website, which is also reporting that the East Branch is expected to crest in Margaretville around 7am above flood stage.

The latest hydrographs show that the Esopus Creek near Phoenicia is at almost 16 feet at 5am, which is when water begins to flood over roads.

The Esopus Creek:

Esopus Creek at Cold Brook

West Branch of the Delaware:

West Branch Delaware River at Walton

East Branch of the Delaware:

at Margaretville

The Wallkill River:

Wallkill at Gardiner

The Roundout Creek:

at Rosendale

The Beaverkill at Cooks Falls upstream from Roscoe:

Beaver Kill at Cooks Falls


  Read more

A death in Big Indian

On February 27, 50-year-old Timothy Shields, a photographer, was found dead in his cabin in a Big Indian housing complex on Oliverea Road.

Although a medical examiner's report would show that Shields died of a pulmonary embolism, the flurry of police activity around his cottage and an unusual piece of decoration on his wall made rumors fly about a darker fate.

According to Shandaken Police Detective Fred Holland, Shields had a "large sword" hanging on his wall. Despite the fact that the sword had nothing to do with his death, it was mentioned on police radio, which residents across Ulster County listen to on police scanners. By evening, the Watershed Post received concerned queries: Was there a murder in Big Indian? 

Detective Holland put a stop to those rumors immediately. Shields' death was a natural one, he said.

"There were no knives involved," Holland said when we reached him two days after Shields' death. "This township's probably about 30 miles across. You stub your toe at one end, by the end of the night, you've gotten amputated at the other."

Anne Pyburn Craig, one of Shields' neighbors, was relieved to have the rumors cleared up.  Read more

Late-afternoon update: Flooding predictions in Delaware and Ulster County

Within the last hour, we received press releases from emergency coordinators about flooding predictions for tonight and tomorrow. Here's the Delaware County press release:  Read more