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 editor@watershedpost.com, 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

Arson destroys First Baptist Church in Walton

Above: WBNG footage of the scene at the First Baptist Church in Walton, destroyed by fire early this morning.

This just in from the Walton Police Department:

   Read more

DOJ to Greene County: You didn't use it, now you lose it

In the Daily Mail today: The Greene County Sheriff's Office will have to return $214,000 in federal grant money, awarded in 2001 for the purchase of computer equipment and never spent for its intended purpose. Colin DeVries reports:

According to a letter from the federal Department of Justice, the sheriff’s office “drew down” $214,000 of the awarded $214,088 on March 2, 2006 after the grant had been expired.

A closeout report kit was sent to the sheriff’s office in August 2006 . In the report Hussey noted the equipment had not been purchased and there was no method in tracking the redeployment, according to DOJ.

[Sheriff Greg] Seeley had discovered the funding was sitting idly in the sheriff’s office budget and attempted to contact DOJ about the reimbursement process.

In a letter to DOJ, Seeley wrote that “the former sheriff chose to utilize only $6,000 of this tremendous award. Of the $214,088, $208,000 of the grant is in the sheriff’s office account with the county legislature.”  Read more

Jefferson 2-year-old dies after choking on ball

Tragic news coming out of Jefferson in Schoharie County: On Sunday, 2-year-old Joshua Falconio, who would have turned three later this month, died on Sunday after a small yellow ball became lodged in his throat.

According to a press release from the State Police, Falconio was sitting on a couch in his living room eating a candy bar when the small yellow ball found its way into his mouth. He began to choke, and his mother called 911. EMTs were able to extract the ball from his throat in the ambulance while rushing him to Bassett Hospital, but Falconio died as they worked. 

The full press release is below:

PRESS RELEASE

January 10, 2011  Read more

Two views of the buy-local movement

There's a fine line between supporting local industry and trade protectionism. Case in point: Congressman Maurice Hinchey's effort to give the U.S. solar energy industry a boost may be causing some consternation in Beijing. From the New York Times yesterday:

The military authorization law signed by President Obama on Friday contains a little-noticed “Buy American” provision for the Defense Department purchases of solar panels — a provision that is likely to dismay Chinese officials as President Hu Jintao prepares to visit the United States next week...

...Representative Maurice Hinchey, Democrat of New York, said he had fought for the provision to be included in the bill.  Read more