And the votes go to ...

Election day in Fleischmanns. Photo contributed by Ben Fenton.

The results are in from most of the region's village elections. Here's a roundup:

In Fleischmanns, the newly-reelected (and unopposed) village trustee Ben Fenton emailed us yesterday about the village's use of old-fashioned paper ballots and a "big metal box." (See photo above.) The results of the election, according to the Fleischmanns Facebook page:

The votes are in, and Dave Morell has been re-elected mayor. Todd Pascarella and Ben Fenton have been elected trustees.

In Sidney, deputy mayor Andrew Matviak beat Jacqlene Rose to win the mayor's seat, the Daily Star reports. In Hobart, the paper reports, incumbent Aaron Kaufman won the mayor's seat over former mayor Kenneth Brockway.  Read more

Ulster County legislature bans fracking on county lands

The Mid-Hudson News reports that the Ulster County Legislature unanimously passed a resolution banning hydraulic fracturing on publicly-owned county lands at its meeting last night:

The only question raised among Ulster County legislators before voting, unanimously, to prohibit the leasing of any county-owned lands for natural gas extraction was ‘why limit it to county lands’?

Democrat Susan Zimet, who introduced the resolution that drew solid bipartisan support from Democrats and Republicans, said it is better to do this a step at a time.

Here's the text of the resolution:  Read more

Catskill to lose cement plant, 100 jobs

WGXC, the Daily Freeman, and the Daily Mail all have reports sparked by a press release issued yesterday: The Holcim cement plant in Catskill is being "mothballed."

The press release reports that 100 jobs will be lost:

"We deeply regret having to mothball this plant," said Bernard Terver, president and chief executive officer of Holcim (US).  "In 2010, we highlighted the challenges faced by this plant when we announced a temporary layoff.  The mothballing of Catskill is a direct result of continuing economic challenges and market conditions in the region.  We have looked at all available options and feel that this move is necessary in order to meet the company's current and future business needs."

Approximately 100 hourly and salaried employees will be affected by this decision.  

Mothballing includes ending production operations and securing the plant in such a way that operating permits and equipment will be preserved for possible future operations.

Sam Pratt, a blogger and activist who says that he predicted the closure of the plant in 2005, has his own interpretation of what "mothballing" means:  Read more

Photos from last week's flood: New Paltz under the waters

Above: Bocce, a 9-month-old German Shepherd, surveys the high water on Route 299 in New Paltz last week. Photo by Laura Cerrone.

On Friday morning, the Watershed Post team visited a journalism class taught by Times Herald-Record reporter Adam Bosch at SUNY New Paltz. It was a great group (when's the last time you saw a bunch of undergraduates alert and engaged at 8am?), and we had a blast talking about entrepreneurial journalism, new models of news distribution, and the uncertain future of the news media.

We may have also gotten ourselves a few ace contributors. Laura Cerrone, one of the student journalists we met, was on the banks of the Wallkill River later that day to photograph its rise during the flooding that affected much of the Hudson Valley and the Catskills. She sent us a few of the shots she took of flooding around New Paltz.  Read more

Dramatic high-speed chase in Fallsburg last night

The Times Herald-Record has the details on a 30-year-old Forestburgh woman who fled state troopers on Route 42 last night. Thankfully, the chase ended in an arrest rather than in violence:

[Maryanne] Silverstrim refused to get out of the car and when approached, she brandished a knife at troopers and then tried to get out of the car while holding a knife to her throat. A trooper tazered her. She dropped the knife, and was arrested without more struggle.

Wanted, dead or alive: The brown marmorated stink bug

As if the emerald ash borer and the Asian longhorned beetle weren't enough: In the last few years, a small, brown, smelly invader has moved into the Hudson Valley. It's Halyomorpha halys, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, and it's after your apple trees.

The Daily Freeman reports that Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County is trying to document the spread of the insect, and they're encouraging folks to catch these bugs and mail them in.  Read more

Vote (if there's a contest, anyway)

Today's the day for village elections, and while many races across the Catskills have candidates for various village boards and mayors who are running unopposed, there are a few real contests out there. Here's a list of the heated challenges:

Sullivan County

Liberty:

According to the Times Herald-Record, Liberty has a pretty hopping ballot this year:

Liberty voters will go to the polls ... to elect either Republican incumbent Richard Winters or Democrat Clarence Barber as mayor.

They will also decide whether to keep the Village Court or send all its cases to the Town Court.

They'll vote too for village justice; incumbent Harold Bauman is running unopposed.

Two Liberty trustee seats are up for grabs: Republicans Shirley Lindsley and Corinne McGuire are being challenged by Democrats Nick Piatek and Dan Ratner Jr. and Independence candidate Steven Green.

All those candidates will be listed on an old-fashioned paper ballot, which the village is using to save the cost of transporting voting machines. It's charmingly old school. The Liberty Independent, which is run by Piatek, who is running for village trustee, has a quick guide to how to use it (see image above).

Greene County

Tannersville:

  Read more

Catskill resident is America's new baseball historian

The Woodstock Times and WGXC have neat sports news his week: John Thorn, a Catskill resident and baseball history guru, has been appointed to the post of Major League Baseball's historian.

John Thorn's new bookJohn Thorn's new bookThorn has experience pontificating about the history of America's pastime -- the Woodstock Times, which publishes his columns, counts up his credentials: multiple books, including a new one due out today, screen time in a Ken Burns documentary, and a vast memory for baseball trivia.

Here's Thorn telling the WT about his new job:

I will be a resource for all the departments. I will be there for them when they have historical conundrums. The legal department might have a question about the trademark of the Worcester Brown Stockings, so I can help them. I already do a lot of talking head stuff on the Major League Baseball network. There may be writing assignments for the all star game, or MLB.com.

Sweet Sue's forced to close due to septic problems

When a predicted flood last week didn't reach Biblical proportions, Phoenicia residents breathed a sigh of relief. The tiny hamlet in Shandaken has borne the brunt of much of the region's flood damage over the fall and winter, with back-to-back floods in October and December inundating Main Street.

But the recent rains have caused disaster for one local business: Sweet Sue's, a popular Phoenicia restaurant whose decadent pancakes have earned it a devoted following.

Last Friday afternoon, in the middle of lunch service, inspectors from the Ulster County Health Department ordered Sweet Sue's to close on the spot. According to the department, the restaurant's septic system had failed, a casualty of the heavy rains and waterlogged ground.

Kevin DuMond, director of environmental services for the health department, said that because of all the recent flooding in the hamlet, he decided to take a close look at Phoenicia's Main Street businesses while the waters were high.  Read more

Nineteen-year-old man charged with rape of underage girl in Schoharie Co.

According to a press release issued by the Schoharie County Sheriff's Office this morning, 19-year-old Timothy M. Clemons, from Fort Plain, was arrested on March 8 for allegedly raping an underage girl. The press release is skimpy on the details, but reports that Clemons was being investigated for having "inappropriate relations with an underage girl." The release reports that he was arraigned in the Town of Sharon and charged with rape in the second degree and endangering the welfare of a child. He is due back in court on March 16.