Fatal weekend

(Post has been updated -- scroll to bottom for more details.)

In addition to Friday's Grand Gorge car accident, which claimed the life of a Gilboa man, last weekend saw two other fatal accidents: a snowmobile crash in the town of Rochester and a car accident on Rte. 28 in Olive last night.

The Daily Freeman has a story today about the snowmobile accident, which reportedly happened on Saturday night but wasn't discovered until Sunday morning:

“This was a bad one,” said Accord Fire Chief John Dunning.

Dunning said the snowmobile, with two male passengers, both “local,” hit a structure, like a cart or trailer, in the middle of a field near Krum Road and Cedar Ridge Road in the town of Rochester about 8 p.m. Saturday.

“There was still hay in structure,” Dunning said.

“The call from dispatch came in to us Sunday at 2:18 p.m., so they were out there all night in the cold,” Dunning said Sunday night.  Read more

Grand Gorge car crash takes life of Gilboa man

On Friday afternoon, 42-year-old Thomas J. Berger of Gilboa was killed in an automobile accident in Grand Gorge. Also injured in the crash was Richard Lewis, an 87-year-old from Gilboa, who is being treated at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown.

Roxbury Town Constable Stephen Williamson said that Berger, who worked for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection in Grand Gorge, was traveling north on State Route 30 when he suffered a heart attack. The attack caused him to cross into the southbound lane, where he collided with an oncoming car driven by Lewis. The accident happened at 4:25pm on Friday, February 11.

Emergency services from Grand Gorge responded to the accident, and both Berger and Lewis were transported to Margaretville Memorial Hospital, where Berger was pronounced dead. The cause of death was listed as a heart attack on the coroner's report, Williamson said.   Read more

Potshots: Casi-NO

"Potshots," by Bovina artist Gary Mayer, runs every Sunday. You can see Gary's collected Sunday cartoons by clicking here. For some context for this week's cartoon, click here.
  Read more

Ice climbing the "Palenville Coronary"

Ice climbing is not for the faint-of-heart. Just being outdoors on your average winter Catskills day can be bad enough, let alone outdoors hanging by your fingernails from the underside of a cliff 85 feet up.

But lots of people around here love the sport, and several of them -- notably Ryan Stefiuk at Bigfoot Mountain Guides and a rotating cast of climbers at Alpine Endeavors -- chronicle their adventures clambering up the ice in excellent blogs.

Those blogs were a-flutter recently over a nerve-wracking video made by recent transplants to New Paltz from the Rockies of their ascent up a new route in the Kaaterskill Clove dubbed the "Palenville Coronary."

With Chris Lamme videoing the climb and Kyle Gay belaying, Brad Heller made the ascent with the help of some sophisticated climbing tools and Gay to catch him if he fell.

The video of the climb is worth watching in its entirety -- especially around minute 4:15, when Heller loses his grip, falls, and gets caught by Gay's belay rope:


According to The Alpinist, a climbing website, that was just one of Heller's falls that day.  Read more

Barn fire in Ulster may have killed several horses

From the Daily Freeman today:

A fire destroyed a barn at a horse farm Friday night at 1480 state Route 32, and some horses may have perished in the blaze, fire officials said.

The fire, which was called in at about 5:30 p.m., took down a barn measuring 30 by 100 feet on the property just north of Kukuk Lane, said East Kingston Fire Chief Bill McDermott.

The Freeman has video and a slideshow of photos from the blaze. Here's their video clip:  Read more

Another skier dies on Windham Mountain

The Freeman reports that a Pennsylvania woman died today after a skiing accident on Windham Mountain:

Troopers at the Catskill barracks said Joan Sabatini, 69, of Yardley, Pa., was skiing with friends on the Wedgie Trail about 11:20 a.m. when she fell, slid off the trail and struck a tree.

Sabatini was treated by Windham’s ski patrol for extensive head injuries and then was taken by ambulance to Columbia Memorial Hospital in Hudson, where she was pronounced dead, police saiid.

It's the second fatal accident at Windham this season; last month, 18-year-old Erin Clare Malloy-McArdle was killed in an accident on a different trail at Windham.

Windham posted a brief announcement on their Facebook page recently:  Read more

Mystery Powerball jackpot winner finally revealed

He dallied awhile before coming forward, but Stephen Kirwan, of the hamlet of Purling in the town of Cairo, has finally claimed that $122 million Powerball ticket that everyone was wondering about last month.

Kirwan's identity was revealed at a press conference this afternoon, as were the fairty-tale details of his life. He's a former New York City firefighter whose home in Purling burned down last year. The Associated Press has the quick version of Kirwan's story:

A year ago this month, the Kirwans' home on the northern edge of the Catskills mountains was destroyed by fire. Stephen Kirwan spent 24 years as a firefighter in the Bronx before moving upstate, where he worked another 25 years at a skin care products maker in Ulster County. He said his plans for his lump-sum, after-taxes payment of $40.4 million include treating his wife and children to a cruise.  Read more

Pagans' plight hits the big time

The New York Times ran a column about Palenville's pagans on Wednesday, giving the beleagered Maetreum of Cybele a chance to appeal to a national audience for help in their fight with the town of Catskill over property taxes.

Out Towns columnist Peter Applebome visited the Maetreum last summer in order to write yesterday's article:

So after the opening ritual at 9 a.m. and sandwiched around “Lunchtime with the Priestesses,” the schedule at the old Central House inn included “The Goddess in Antiquity,” “Pagans in the Mundane World” and sessions on sacred drumming patterns, dragon rituals and the Cybeline Revival.  Read more

DEP: New strategic plan and watershed wastewater upgrades

It's been a busy week for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. The big news out of the agency is a brand-new strategic plan that stresses the city's opposition to hydraulic fracturing, its plans for hydropower, and its commitment to keeping its water supply clean enough to avoid building a filtration plant.

The press release annoucing the plan listed some bullet points. Here are a few that jumped out at us:

  • Maintain the city's unfiltered drinking water status
  • Complete key construction projects to protect and maintain drinking water quality: the Catskill/Delaware Ultraviolet Disinfection Facility, the Croton Water Filtration Plant, and Stage 2 of City Water Tunnel No. 3
  • Protect the water supply from hydrofracking
  • Repair leaks in the Delaware Aqueduct
  • Develop 30-50 megawatts of clean energy supply at DEP's facilities through public/private partnerships

To read the whole strategic plan, click here.  Read more

Bridgeville casino probably DOA

The Times Herald-Record and the New York Times broke the news this week that the federal government almost certainly won't approve ex-governor David Paterson's plan to build a massive casino in Sullivan County.

Both papers obtained a leaked letter from the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans -- the tribe that wants to build the casino in Bridgeville -- acknowledging that federal officials aren't keen on the plan. From the NYT:

[I]n January, according to the tribe, federal officials suddenly expressed misgivings about the viability of the tribe’s land claim and the ability of the Interior Department to approve it without Congressional action, as the tribe wanted. In a Jan. 31 letter to the department, a lawyer for the tribe acknowledged that department officials had told him it was “highly unlikely” the officials would change their views.

The THR had a story about ominous rumblings from the feds earlier this week, but this letter puts the cold hard facts in writing. Yesterday, news outlets across the country were reporting the plan was stillborn -- here's a report from the AP, and another from the Casino Journal.

Only die-hard supporters, like town of Thompson Supervisor Anthony Cellini, have any hope left for the Stockbridge-Munsee's Bridgeville plan. And according to a story in the Daily Freeman yesterday, even Cellini can't muster anything better than a morbid metaphor for the its prospects now:

Town of Thompson Supervisor Anthony Cellini, who favors the casino, still has hope for the project. “I’m sure the coffin is closed, but the nail’s not in it yet,” he said.

Earlier: More of our Bridgeville casino coverage.