Pelleh Farms: Rare bright spot in local dairy

Sullivan County farmer Bob Franklin has been making headlines lately -- for expanding his dairy operation at a time when many dairy farmers are in dire straits. (And for getting a visit from Congressman Maurice Hinchey, seen above admiring one of Franklin's calves.) At Pelleh Farms in Swan Lake, things are looking up, says the Times Herald-Record:

Bob Franklin has spent 20 years building a farm that cuts out middlemen, whether they be wholesale milk buyers, chicken processors or utility companies.

In that time, he has turned 66 acres of vacant land in Swan Lake into Pelleh Farms. The now-135-acre farm employs 32 people to process, package and ship milk and chickens. The farm also burns wood to heat water for pasteurization.

"If we cut out that middleman "» we create more jobs and the price is better for us," said Franklin, who also leases 170 acres to other farmers.  Read more

Hunter-Tannersville school employee charged with sexual abuse of student

The Daily Mail has the details:

A Hunter-Tannersville Central School District school bus maintenance supervisor was charged with having sexual relations with an underage student.

Timothy B. Tait, 52, of Tannersville had a court appearance adjourned Monday, delaying a hearing on two misdemeanor counts alleging he had sexually abused a girl under the age of 16.

One injured in head-on collision with tractor-trailer on Rte. 28

The Daily Freeman is reporting that a car ran head-on into a tractor-trailer on Rte. 28 yesterday afternoon in the town of Ulster. The paper reports that a 65-year-old man heading westbound drifted into the oncoming lane and caused the accident. The man was extricated from his car and airlifted to St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie, according to the story, which also quotes a State Police offer saying that the man is expected to survive.

Wilber Bank to lay off a quarter of employees after merger

In the wake of a merger with Community Bank System, a banking company based near Syracuse, the Oneonta-based Wilber National Bank has announced they're making 63 layoffs. The Daily Star reports:

Monday's announcement "slammed" the dedicated employees of 10, 20 and 30 years who were put on hold for months about the fate of their jobs, a long-time staffer said Monday night.

"The employees didn't deserve this," the employee said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of fears public comment would jeopardize a severance package. "The atmosphere has been really bad for quite a while."

Most of the layoffs will be in the greater Oneonta region, the story says. In the Catskills region, Wilber has branches in Boiceville, Delhi, Sidney, Walton, Downsville, Fleischmanns, and Cobleskill.  Read more

Freeman editor stops suicide on Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge

Amazing story in the Freeman today about Antonio Flores-Lobos, the editor of the Daily Freeman's Spanish publication Las Noticias, who stopped a suicidal woman on the Kingston-Rhinecliff bridge on Friday just as she was about to jump.  Read more

Run, paddle and bike your way around the Cannonsville Reservoir

Continuing a trend of loosening its tight grip on access to boating on its Catskill reservoirs, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection is co-sponsoring a triathlon on the Cannonsville Reservor this June, in what tourism organizers hope will become an annual tradition.

Last week, the NYC DEP sent out a press release announcing the details of the race, which is being called the Cannonsville Adventure Triathlon (its nickname is the "CAT race"), adn will include a 10K run, a 4-mile paddle, and a 12-mile bike ride:  Read more

Project Budbreak: Citizen scientists wanted

For most of us, the arrival of the first buds of early spring is a welcome sign that winter's on its way out. For an ecologist, every unfolding blossom is a data point. By making careful records of when each plant begins to bloom, scientists hope to paint a clearer picture of how the climate is changing, and how living things are responding to it.

The science of how the life cycles of living things respond to the weather is called phenology, and it has a long history. The keeping of detailed weather data is a relatively recent phenomenon in history, but records of plant flowering and harvest dates -- many kept by farmers, who are keen observers of weather and nature -- go back hundreds of years in some places.  Read more

Sidney student heads to national spelling bee after acing the word "hydraulic"

The Daily Star, which was one of the sponsors of Saturday's Regional Spelling Bee, reports that 12-year-old Tatum Kiff from Sidney Central School won a trip to Washington, DC. She'll compete against other kids from across the country in the Scripps National Spelling Bee this June.

The winning word that led Kiff to victory? "Hydraulic." That's a pretty appropriate piece of Catskills vocabulary to master, we think.

Police: Toy thrown by Port Ewen man injures 5-year-old

According to a press release issued by the State Police, Dayton Harper of Port Ewen was arrested last week after reportedly hurting a 5-year-old child on two occasions. Harper allegedly struck the child and, in a separate incident, threw a toy at the child which lacerated the child's head.

Here's the press release in full: 

Investigators from the Ulster County Family Violence Unit report the arrest of a Port Ewen man Thursday following an investigation that the man assaulted a five year old child.

Investigators charged Dayton R. Harper, 31 years of age with two counts of Assault in the second degree (Class D Felony) and four counts of Endangering the welfare of a child (Class A Misdemeanor) The investigation revealed that on 03/05/2011 Harper threw a toy at the five year old and caused a laceration two the head. A three year old child was also in the immediate vicinity but was not injured. In the second incident Harper struck the same five year old and caused bruising.  Read more

An on-time budget? In New York State?

If so, it'll be the first since 2006, says the NY Daily News. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders announced a deal on the budget this afternoon, and it looks a lot like the budget Cuomo proposed back in February:

The budget calls for a 2% decrease in overall spending and closes a $10 billion deficit - without any new tax hikes or borrowing.

"It is a big deal when this state passes a budget on time," Cuomo said after striking the deal. "It's an exceptionally big deal when the state passes a budget on time under these circumstances."

Aside from a handful of changes, the agreement largely mirrors the spending plan Cuomo proposed on February 1 and represents a significant victory for the freshman governor.  Read more