Walton man charged with St. Paddy's day arson

This just in from the Delaware County Sheriff's Office: 53-year-old Louis J. Brigandi of Walton has been charged with setting a barn on fire in Hamden on St. Patrick's Day. 

According to the press release, a barn on Rte. 10 in Hamden went up in flames on Thursday night. Brigandi was arrested today in connection with the crime, and is being held in the Delaware County Correctional Facility on $15,000 cash bail. The release states that another fire destroyed two cars and a building on the same Hamden property earlier this week. Brigandi hasn't been charged in connection with the first fire.

Here's the press release in full:

On March 18, 2011 as the result of a joint investigation conducted by the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, Delaware County Department of Emergency Services and the Village of Walton Police, Department, Delaware County Deputies arrested Louis J. Brigandi Jr. 53 year of age of Walton, New York and charged him with the following:

1 Count of Arson in the 3rd Degree a class “C” Felony And

1 Count of Burglary in the 3rd Degree a class “C” Felony  Read more

Sweet Sue's: Not re-opening anytime soon

Sweet Sue's pancakes in happier days. Photo by Flickr user millhouseloves; reproduced with permission.

Sweet Sue's owner Suzanne Taylor says it will be a long time before her famous pancakes are back on the menu.

Last Friday, the Ulster County Department of Health shut Sweet Sue's down for a flood-related septic system failure. Speaking with us by phone this morning, Taylor said that in the best-case scenario, it would be at least three weeks before she could open again. Worse, she added, since her lot (like the rest of downtown Phoenicia) is subject to frequent flooding, there are no good options for repairing her septic system.

"We either have to wait for everything to dry out -- which, with the stream, might not happen -- or I'm looking at an above-the-ground system," she said.

Taylor said that the engineer she'd hired, Rex Sanford in Boiceville, told her an above-ground system would be vulnerable to future floods.

"I don't know how to proceed," she said. "I'm trying to just keep my spirits up about this, but it's not pleasant."   Read more

Child porn suspect is son of Greene Co. Jail Superintendent

As we reported yesterday, 24-year-old Evan P. Spitz of Palenville has been charged with posessing child pornography. But the Daily Mail adds substantive new information to that story today, including the notable facts that Spitz is related to a prominent county employee and that he works for BOCES:

Spitz is the son of Greene County Jail Superintendent Michael Spitz ... According to a Facebook profile, Spitz graduated Catskill High School in 2004, attended Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh for nursing, and attended Columbia-Greene Community College for a teaching assistant certificate. He has worked as a teaching assistant for Ulster BOCES in Port Ewen since January.


It may not look like spring, but a stand of crocuses reaching for the sun in Andes yesterday know otherwise. Photos by Julia Reischel.  Read more

Boarder headed for the big time

There's a long and venerable tradition, in American sports, of watching gifted athletes giving their all on television and thinking, "Hey, I could do that." There's even a phrase for it: armchair quarterbacking.

And then there's local snowboarder Elaine Supp, who takes it to a whole other level. The 28-year-old Cherry Valley native, who's a frequent flier on the slopes of Plattekill, was watching a fairly new sport called boardercross on the televised X Games this January, and thought she could do it. And, mirable dictu, she could. From Plattekill's blog, Winter in the Catskills:

As Elaine explains it, she texted her sister saying, “I’m going to try this.” Her sister understandably thought she was joking. After all, the sport is intense, competitive and dangerous – few women decide to start in their early 20s. But Elaine was undaunted. She went to the USASA website and found an event in Windham the next weekend. “I wanted to see if I could do it,” she says with a laugh.  Read more

Palenville man arrested on child pornography charges

This just in from the New York State Police:

The New York State Police at Middletown N.Y. report the arrest of EVAN P. SPITZ, age 24 of Palenville, N.Y. for POSSESSING A SEXUAL PERFORMANCE BY A CHILD, a class E Felony.

SPITZ was arrested after an investigation conducted by the New York State Police and the New York State Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (I.C.A.C.). 

EVAN SPITZ was released on an Appearance Ticket returnable to the Town of Catskill Court on 03/17/2011. Prosecution of this case is being conducted by the Columbia County District Attorney’s Office.

Reservoirs: Full to the brim

Times Herald-Record reporter Adam Bosch reports on his environment blog that the New York City reservoir system is full to capacity -- plus a little extra. (Not sure exactly how that's possible, but OK.)

The reservoirs currently stand at 101.1 percent full, which is roughly 12 percent than the average for this time of year. Seems like a series of big rainstorms last week, combined with the melting snowpack in the Catskills, has filled ‘em to the brim.

The result? The reservoirs are spilling over into local waterways, Wawarsing is still basically a giant water fountain, and the lower Esopus is once again the color of Yoo-Hoo.  Read more

In Fleischmanns recount, Morrell still wins, but only by 2 votes

This just in from Ben Fenton, village trustee in Fleischmanns, about this morning's electoral recount for the position of village mayor. Fenton reports that incumbent mayor Dave Morrell still wins the election, but only by a razor-thin two votes: 37 to 35.

The original count had Morrell winning 37 votes to challenger Fred Woller's 33 votes. After the recount, which featured Bush-Gore Florida-style ballot-by-ballot examination, officials from the Delaware County Board of Elections added two ballots to Woller's tally, Fenton reports:  Read more

The Bobcat Byway

After a winter of designing and judging, the Central Catskills Collaborative has chosen a new logo for the newly-christened Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway, the stretch of Rte. 28 that runs from Hurley to Andes.

You can see the winning logo above. According to a press release issued by the Collaborative today, Kurt Boyer's winning design features a bobcat pawprint:

Collaborative Selects Logo for Proposed Scenic Byway   Read more

Local kids learn about the watershed

Clarence Gilmer, of the Ashokan Center, leads teenagers from Onteora High School, South Kortright Central School, and Margaretville Central School on a hike in Olivebridge on Tuesday. The activity was part of the 2011 Watershed Youth Symposium, an event held every year by GrowNYC, the Catskill Watershed Corporation, and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Later this spring, the teens who participated in this week's symposium will get their hands dirty by planting trees throughout the watershed region. Photo by Diane Galusha.