Suspect in Walton church arson: Troubled soul

In the Daily Star today: Reporter Patricia Breakey pounds the pavement for details on Mike Allen, the 31-year-old Walton man accused of burning down the First Baptist Church on Tuesday morning. Friends and neighbors paint a sad picture of mental illness and drug addiction:  Read more

Grossinger's: The Borscht Belt's lost Atlantis

Above: A photo of one of the many scenes of the abandoned Grossinger's resort.

The first time Jonathan Haeber heard of Grossinger's, he was reading Maus, the acclaimed graphic novel about the Holocaust by Art Spiegelman. Part of the story is set at the once-grand Catskills resort, and that little glimpse of bygone Borscht Belt glamour immediately had Haeber hooked.

A 29-year-old Californian photographer and armchair historian, Haeber makes a hobby of abandoned places. (You can read about his adventures on his blog, Bearings.) After his introduction to Grossinger's, Haeber flew across the country to research its history. He interviewed Grossinger's employees and family members, read scores of books, and visited and explored the husk of the overgrown Liberty resort itself.

Now, Haeber's passion for Borscht Belt history has become a book, Grossinger's: City of Refuge and Illusion, which was published by Furnace Press in November.  We talked with Haeber about the book, an excerpt from which you can read below.
  Read more

Walton narrowly votes to vroom

Above: Footage from Rally New York 2009.

A couple of Walton town board members are still against it, but it looks like Rally New York will zoom through Walton roads again this year. From the Daily Star:

Walton Supervisor Bruce Dolph and council members Cheryl Boyd and Luis Rodriguez-Bentancourt voted in favor of holding the rally, and council members Kevin Armstrong and Leonard Govern voted against inviting the race...  Read more

Boiceville's effluvia: Now a whole lot cleaner

This just in from the CWC: Boiceville's wastewater treatment plant project, a feat of engineering two years in the making, is finished. The plant went online last summer, and on January 7, the last hookup pipe connecting the new plant to a Boiceville home was laid.

MARGARETVILLE, NY, January 12, 2011 – The hamlet of Boiceville – 126 properties including many businesses and Onteora Central School --  is the latest community in the Catskills to benefit from a new wastewater treatment system, courtesy of the Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC).

The project was accomplished with a $12.2 million block grant from the CWC’s Community Wastewater Management Program (CWMP) to the Town of Olive which will own and manage the system going forward. While some site restoration work remains to be done this spring, the project was essentially completed January 7 when the last of the sanitary lateral pipes was connected to a home on DeSilva Road.  Read more

Almost eight inches -- so far

The intrepid snow diviners at Plattekill Mountain stuck a ruler in the ground at 7:30am this morning to find over 7 inches of snow. (See image above, via the Plattekill Facebook page.) And it's still coming down.

For more ski mountain snow photos, check out Windham Mountain's Facebook page.

Got snow? Got photos? Send them to us at, or post them to our Flickr group.

More on that muddy Esopus litigiousness

More details are emerging about Ulster County's threat to sue the New York City Department of Environmental Protection over its releases of turbid water into the Lower Esopus. 

William Kemble at the Daily Freeman reports that County Executive Mike Hein was "visibly angry" when he made the announcement about the lawsuit last night.  

The Freeman also printed a letter today from Paul Rush, the deputy commissioner of the DEP, once again explaining the DEP's position that, in fact, the Ashokan reservoir actually keeps the Esopus clean:  Read more

Bonacic gets two juicy committee chairmanships

From the Times Herald-Record:

State Sen. John Bonacic has been named chairman of two powerful Senate committees.

Bonacic, R-C-Mount Hope, will head the Senate’s Racing, Wagering and Gaming Committee and also the Judiciary Committee, his office announced Tuesday.

As Chairman of Racing and Wagering, Bonacic could play an influential role in shaping a new Off Track Betting system with the collapse of the NYC OTB. These moves are being watched closely by Empire Resorts, the owner of the Monticello Casino & Raceway, and the horsemen. Both Empire and the horsemen split roughly $200,000 a month from the surviving OTBs but have lost potentially millions with the loss of bankrupt NYC OTB.

Empire’s executives now say they’ve got a powerful ally.  Read more

Storm alert: More snow on the way

The National Weather Service has issued a storm warning for Sullivan and Delaware Counties. From NY-Alert:  Read more

Mud-choked Esopus to get its day in court

The Times Herald-Record has an exclusive: Ulster County Executive Mike Hein has announced that the county is suing New York City over its release of muddy water from the Ashokan reservoir into the Lower Esopus River. From the story, which broke around 5pm:

Ulster County officials are suing New York City for releasing too much dirty water into the Lower Esopus Creek, they said. County Executive Mike Hein announced the county’s pending court action during a news conference Tuesday evening.
The condition of the Lower Esopus, which has looked like chocolate milk since October, has drawn criticism from local and state officials.

Sullivan is road-deathiest county near NYC

The public-transportation-promoting blog Cap'n Transit published an interesting (and disturbing) map on Sunday that shows that Sullivan County has more car crash fatatities per person than any other county in the New York Tri-State area.

The map, which is reproduced with permission above, uses data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Census Bureau to show the number of crash deaths per capita by county in 2005. (Ulster and Sullivan county are included as part of the NYC metropolitan area, but Delaware, Greene, and Schoharie are not.)

The map shows higher rates of deaths per population per county as deepening shades of red. As you can see, the farther west you go from New York City, the higher the percentage of a county's population dies in car crashes. And the highest numbers seem to be concentrated in the Delaware Valley, or, as the blog calls it, the "Upper Delaware Valley of Death."  Read more