In visit to Roxbury, state officials vow faster Internet for rural NY

Above: New York State Broadband Program director David Salway, left, talks with Greg Henderson, middle, the owner of the Roxbury Motel, and Angela Liotta, right, the state's Broadband Outreach Director, on Wednesday, Feb. 25. Photo by Julia Reischel. 

In his draft budget for the 2015 - 2016 fiscal year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing an ambitious goal: high-speed internet for everyone, including in rural areas like the Catskills, by 2019. Greene County, in the Catskills, has the worst broadband access in the entire state, according to statistics released by the governor’s office.   Read more

Fire destroys two businesses in Hancock

Above: The fire at 43 West Street in Hancock in the early hours of Sunday, March 1. Photo via the Delaware County Fire Wire & Emergency News Facebook page. 

For 10 hours on Sunday, March 1, firefighters in the Delaware County village of Hancock fought a massive blaze that destroyed an Italian restaurant and a hair salon. The commercial building at 43 West Street in the village was totally destroyed, according to WBNG  Read more

Woodstock Writers Radio with Martha Frankel and guests

Schoharie News to launch print weekly in Schoharie County

The Schoharie News, an online digital newspaper covering Schoharie County, is becoming a weekly print newspaper.

Left: Tim Knight. Photo by Erika Day. 

Tim Knight, the paper's 21-year-old owner, founded the Schoharie News as a digital-only online news outlet in June 2013. The site made a name for itself with Knight's careful reporting about the minutiae of county politics and his sharp-tongued, often fiery editorials about local government. 

Knight, who is graduating from SUNY Cobleskill with a degree in communications this spring, briefly sold the paper to another owner, Robert Panico, before buying it back last month. Now Knight plans to take the publication in a whole new direction.  Read more

Ashokan reservoir bridge down to one lane until fall

Above: The Dividing Weir Bridge the year it was built, in January 1915. Photo via the NYC DEP's Flickr page. 

The bridge that carries Reservoir Road across Ulster County's Ashokan Reservoir, known by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection as the Dividing Weir Bridge, is exactly 100 years old this year. The bridge's 15 concrete arches were built in 1915, and are beginning to show some wear and tear.

On Wednesday, Feb. 25, the DEP installed temporary traffic signals at both ends of the bridge, which is located in the town of Olive, to reduce traffic over the span to one lane while workers shore up the concrete arches, according to a press release. The span will be back to two lanes of traffic this fall.   Read more

This weekend: Fish stories at Spillian

Image provided by Spillian. 

What do fly fisherman do when trout season is a month away and the temperatures are still deep-freeze cold? At this time of year, reminiscing fondly about being thigh-high in a Catskills stream is about as close to fishing as you can get.

This Sunday, March 1, a group of consummate Catskills anglers with over 100 years of fly fishing experience between them is gathering at the Spillian resort in Fleischmanns to tell "Trout Tales." 

From the press release:

A not-to-be-missed historic opportunity to sit around the table as some of the living legends of fly fishing join us in an evening of anecdotes, recollections and reminiscences of friendships and time spent with legendary names like Art Flick, Frank Mele, the Darbees and the Dettes, Herman Christiansen, and others -- of the great fish and the great streams from the birthplace of American fly-fishing, the Catskills Mountains.  Read more

This weekend: Snowmobile drag races

Above: Image via the Delaware Valley Ridge Riders Facebook page. 

Snowmobiles are usually found high on snowy ridges, running single file on a huge network of groomed trails around the Catskills.

But this Saturday in Downsville, the motorized sleds get to make like hot rods. Riders in the Delaware Valley Ridge Riders' annual Snowmobile Drag Races will vie for cash prizes as they zoom side-by-side across a big snowy field, which has been carefully groomed to make for optimal racing conditions. 

The races are divided into classes, ranging from a kids' obstacle course to the open "anything goes" class. There will be hot food and merriment. 

  Read more

Two outdoor deaths in Delaware County in one day

Two Delaware County men were found dead on Wednesday, Feb. 25 -- one on his property where he had been cutting a tree for firewood, and the other a few blocks from his home after he was reported missing. 

Seventy-year-old Ralph Hunt was attempting to cut a tree near his home on County Road 14 in Delhi on Feb. 25 when the tree fell on him, killing him, Delaware County Undersheriff Craig DuMond told the Daily Star. Hunt, a longtime member of the Delhi Fire Department, was declared dead at the scene, the paper reports. 

In a press release sent on Thursday, the Delaware County Sheriff's Office gave more details about Hunt's death. Hunt, who was a retired dairy farmer, had spent Wednesday morning gathering firewood on a wooded hillside on his property. He had skidded a tree down to his farmhouse in the morning. When he didn't return home for lunch, his wife became worried and called a friend to investigate.  Read more

Two new eateries open in Woodstock, serving local comfort food

Above: Tuna skewers at Commune Saloon. Photo via the Commune Saloon website. 

With Woodstock still reeling from the closure of beloved Mexican restaurant Gypsy Wolf Cantina in December, it’s a good time for the Ulster County town to have something of a restaurant boom. Two new restaurants have opened in Woodstock this winter, both aiming to serve comfort food made with local, seasonal ingredients.

Above: Shindig, via the Shindig website. 

On Dec. 4, Shindig opened for business in a tiny storefront right in front of the town square. The location couldn’t be better: through the restaurant’s plate-glass windows, you can watch the regular Sunday drum circle and keep an eye on the arrival of the Trailways bus all at the same time.  Read more

Woman stabs boyfriend with kitchen knife in Hancock

A Delaware County man has serious injuries after his girlfriend stabbed him with a kitchen knife in a home in Hancock on Monday, Feb. 23, police say. 

Left: Niki M. Patire. Photo via the New York State Police. 

Twenty-seven-year-old Niki M. Patire is being held without bail in the Delaware County Jail on first degree felony assault charges, according to a State Police press release. She assaulted her 35-year-old boyfriend early Monday afternoon, police say. 

Nathan Riegal, a state police spokesman, said that the victim's identity is being withheld to protect him, and that there is currently no more information available about the case.   Read more

Windham Mountain employee arrested for theft and coverup, police say

A 33-year-old employee of Windham Mountain Ski Resort was arrested on Friday, Feb. 20 for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars from the Greene County ski mountain, according to a New York State Police press release

Jessica L. Greene, who is listed on Windham Mountain's website as the sales manager for season passes, tickets and lockers, is being charged with grand larceny in the third degree, a class D felony that applies in thefts of amounts between $3,000 and $50,000.   Read more

As it switches to digital, Coxsackie drive-in movie theater stars in its own film

Top: The sign for the Hi-Way Drive-In. Photo courtesy of “Enjoy Your Intermission.”

Some Catskills families run farms or general stores; for Roger and Sharon Babcock, the family business is the Hi-Way Drive-In Theatre on Route 9W in the Greene County town of Coxsackie.  

Like a family farm, a drive-in is an anachronistic business. There are only 400 or so drive-in theaters left in the United States, and some, like the Hi-Way, are still showing movies on 35 millimeter film, a format that movie studios are abandoning.

But nostalgia for artifacts of the 1950s (the Hi-Way opened in 1951) is strong, especially in the Catskills. The Babcocks told the Daily Freeman last year that their audience is loyal and growing, with regulars coming weekly to park their cars and watch a film outside under the stars.  Read more

Garage burns in Shandaken, adding to toll on local volunteers

Above: Firefighters on the scene of a fire on Route 28 in Mount Tremper on Friday morning, Feb. 20. Photo by Sara Loughlin.

A Mount Tremper resident's garage caught fire on Friday morning, in a two-alarm blaze that drew upwards of 50 firefighters from several local volunteer fire departments to the scene. 

The garage fire, near a home at 5283 Route 28, was reported at 9:39 a.m. on Friday. By the time firefighters arrived a few minutes later, the building had already collapsed, according to Phoenicia Assistant Fire Chief Teddy Byron. No one was injured in the fire.

"When we pulled up, it was fully involved," Byron said. 

With temperatures hovering around five degrees and a raw wind blowing, firefighters struggled with freezing trucks and equipment to fight the blaze. 

"All our trucks are freezing," Byron said.

The collapse of the garage made it difficult for the water to penetrate the structure, Byron said. Firefighters had to use foam to smother the fire and help water reach the interior of the blaze.

Responding to the incident were fire companies from the towns of Shandaken, Olive and Hurley, along with the Shandaken Ambulance Service, Shandaken and Ulster County police, and Ulster County fire investigators.  Read more

As Phoenicia's Key Bank fire reignites, investigators silent on cause

This story has been updated with information from fire investigators. See bottom for new info. - Ed. 

The Key Bank building on Main Street Phoenicia that burned on Monday, Feb. 16 reignited briefly on Thursday, Feb. 19, prompting firefighters to respond to reports of smoke rising from the burnt-out structure, according to the Daily Freeman and sources at the scene. The re-ignition happened just before another fire began at a trailer nearby on Old Route 28, forcing firefighters to respond to both. 

Town and county officials have not released the results of the investigation into the cause of the fire at Key Bank, and have not responded to repeated requests by the Watershed Post about whether arson is suspected. 

Drez Jennings, a Vice President at Key Bank, said that the bank could not comment on the cause of the Key Bank fire or the fire's re-ignition.  Read more

Third large fire in one week burns in Shandaken

Above: Firefighters respond to a fire near Phoenicia Thursday, Feb. 19. Photo by Sara Loughlin.

A structure in the Ulster County town of Shandaken is on fire on Thursday, Feb. 19, according to eyewitnesses. 

A neighbor down the street reports that a large number of first responders began fighting a fire on Old Route 28 in Shandaken, just outside the hamlet of Phoenicia off Route 28, beginning around 5 p.m.

A passerby reported seeing a large column of smoke rising from a residential structure around that time. Scanner traffic indicates that a large number of Ulster County fire departments have been mustered to fight the blaze. 

The fire occurred in a metal trailer in Woodland Valley, and appeared to be under control by 7 p.m. Jay Braman at the Daily Freeman has more photos.   Read more

Crash in Andes sends two to hospital; closes Route 28 for two hours

Above: The portion of Route 28 where a head-on collision occurred on Feb. 18, 2015. Image via Google Street View. 

Two cars slammed into each other almost head-on in the Delaware County town of Andes on Wednesday, Feb. 18. Both drivers were injured, and one woman had to be extracted from her vehicle with the jaws of life, said Dale Tait, the Andes Fire Chief. 

The collision was a "driver-to-driver almost head-on" crash that jammed the door of the woman's car completely closed, Tait said. Her vehicle appeared to have spun around on impact, ending up crossways on the road, blocking traffic.

A third car that happened on the scene was forced to drive into a snowbank to avoid colliding with the other two, Tait said. There was no damage to that third vehicle or its driver. 

Both drivers were taken to various hospitals with injuries, and the woman who was extricated was eventually airlifted to a regional hospital, Tait said. The male driver of the other car appeared to have minor injuries.  Read more

Police: Windham supervisor installed eavesdropping software on town hall computer

Stacy Post, the supervisor of the Greene County town of Windham, was indicted by a grand jury on Wednesday, Feb. 19 on 30 counts of felony eavesdropping and official misconduct, according to the Windham Journal's Michael Ryan, who was covering the proceedings live.

Left: Stacy Post.

With the indictment finally come details about Post's alleged crimes. She was arrested on Monday, Jan. 12 after a long and mysterious investigation that began with a state police raid on Windham's town offices on March 21, 2014.

Ryan has the details about how police began to suspect Post was spying on town hall activities:

[A] series of events ... began to unfold in early March when a local police officer reported an incident to town councilman Robert Pelham, town officials say.  Read more

This weekend: Art.Write.Now.Tour in Livingston Manor

Above: "Finn Does Not Like Bowling," by Elinor Hills, one of the works being exhibited in the Art.Write.Now.Tour 2014-15. Image used with permission from the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.

Over 100 teenage artists from around the country will exhibit their work in Livingston Manor beginning this weekend when the national Art.Write.Now.Tour comes to the Catskill Art Society. The month-long show features the young winners of the the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, an annual national competition that has been running for 92 years. 

The Catskill Art Society is the last stop on a three-city tour for the exhibition, which features a stunning array of visual art and a selection of written works, including works by five national student poets. You can see all of the visual works in this photo collection on Flickr -- but they'll be better in person.   Read more

Making the best of the sub-zero temperatures

Above: Brian Olenych, fresh out of the sauna, is warm enough for anything in Arkville on Saturday, Feb. 14. Photos courtesy of Marcia Olenych.

This February is in the top five of the coldest Februarys on record, according to the National Weather Service in Binghamton. 

It's been single-digit temperatures all month, with killer wind chills on top.  Read more

The Best of the Wurst: Alpine Cuisine in Greene County

Above: Get your fill of cuckoo clocks and schnitzel in the Greene County Catskills. Photo by Katherine Speller.

German and Swiss immigrants have made their mark on Greene County, which is home to the most Alpine of the Catskill region's peaks. Be sure to grab your beer stein and press your best lederhosen before checking out your own little taste of Deutschland in the Catskills.

At the Bavarian Manor Inn (866 Mountain Ave., Purling, 518-622-3261, bavarianmanor.com) patrons can enjoy award-winning veal schnitzels: classic Viennese Wiener Schnitzel, Hungarian Gypsy Schnitzel made with onions, mushrooms and paprika sauce, and Holsteiner Schnitzel, which is topped with fried egg, anchovies and capers. The German Wurst Platter combines bauernwurst, weisswurst, bratwurst, pork, sauerkraut and (a crowd favorite) potato pancakes.  Read more

Police: Roscoe man assaults neighbor with piece of lumber

A neighborly dispute ended with an assault charge in Roscoe yesterday after 23-year-old Roscoe resident Jeremy Davis allegedly attacked his neighbor with a "small piece of lumber," according to the New York State Police

Left: Jeremy Davis. Image via the New York State Police. 

The argument took place on Church St. in Roscoe on Tuesday, Feb. 17, police say. The neighbor reportedly sustained "lacerations to the face," and Davis is being charged with felony assault and misdemeanor possession of a weapon (presumably the piece of lumber). He is being held in the Sullivan Count Jail on $7,500 cash bail.