Delaware County Fair won't ban confederate flags

Above: A tractor decorated with an American flag and a Confederate flag in Delaware County. Photo by Julia Reischel.

The New York State Fair has banned sales of merchandise bearing the Confederate battle flag, but the Delaware County Fair will not follow suit. 

The flag, the best-known symbol of the southern rebellion in the U.S. Civil War, became more divisive than at any time since the end of that war after nine African-American people were killed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. on June 17.

The man charged with the crimes, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, was pictured on a website posing with the flag and other emblems associated with white supremacy. The ensuing controversy led to the removal of the flag from the South Carolina Statehouse on July 10. Many national retailers, including Wal-Mart and Sears, have stopped selling the flag. 

Above: The board of directors of the Delaware Valley Agricultural Society at the July 27 meeting. The board is wrapping up plans for the upcoming Delaware County Fair. A ban of Confederate flag merchandise is not part of those plans. Photo by Robert Cairns.

Last month, the New York State Fair announced that the Confederate battle flag would not be welcome at its fairgrounds.

Spokesman Dave Bullard issued a statement:

"The Great New York State Fair is a proud symbol of the heritage, diversity, and great promise of New York State. Our state and our Fair represent inclusion and respect for all. The Fair requests vendors to refrain from selling or displaying items that may offend or in cases of public health and safety. Our vendors have always complied with these requests. The Fair is aware of two vendors who have sold Confederate merchandise in the past. They have agreed not to sell such merchandise at the State Fair."

The Delaware Valley Agricultural Society is the governing body of the Delaware County Fair, which runs from August 17 to August 22 in the town of Walton.

Noting the state fair’s ban, Leslie Kauffman, a 4-H club leader and a co-superintendent of the rabbit barn at the Delaware County Fair, contacted Ed Rossley, the president of the society's board of directors, to request a similar ban.

Rossley brought the issue to a Monday, July 27 meeting of the board of directors, reading an email message from Kauffman.

“She wants to know what you think about Confederate flags at the fair,” he said.

“The more of them, the better,” replied Director Norm Kilpatrick.  Read more

NYC woman found with 499 bags of heroin during Hancock traffic stop, police say

Above: Close to 500 bags of heroin were found in a car headed from the Bronx to the Delaware County village of Sidney on July 25, police say. Photo via the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.

A woman driving from the Bronx to the Delaware County village of Sidney was found with 499 bags of heroin when she was pulled over for a traffic violation on Saturday, July 25, police say.

Left: Sonia Ramirez. Photo via the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.  

Fifty-three-year-old Sonia Ramirez of Ottawa, Illinois and New York City was pulled over for speeding on Route 17 in the village of Hancock at 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, according to a press release from the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.

While talking to Ramirez, Sheriff's Deputy Kyle Karcher allegedly smelled marijuana in her car. When he ran her driver's license, he found that it had been suspended.

Karcher arrested Ramirez for speeding and for operating a vehicle with a suspended license.

Then sheriff's deputies and Ozzie, a drug-sniffing police dog, searched Ramirez's belongings.  Read more

Woodstock Writers Radio with Martha Frankel and guests

The Cannonsville Dam isn't leaking, DEP finds

Above: A rendering of the drilling incident that caused muddy discharge at the base of the Cannonsville Dam, according to the NYC DEP. Source: NYC DEP.

The Cannonsville Dam isn’t leaking, an investigation by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection has found.

After a mysterious muddy discharge appeared below the dam on July 8, fears that the dam was compromised prompted the DEP to draw down the reservoir and warm communities downstream

Now the DEP knows that the sediment leaking into the West Branch of the Delaware River downstream of the dam isn’t coming from the earthen dam itself, DEP spokesman Adam Bosch said on Friday, July 24.

Instead, the sediment is coming from a silt layer in a rock embankment about 50 yards away downstream where contractors were drilling on July 8, Bosch said.   Read more

Delhi bridge repairs cause worries, business losses

Above: Contractors work on the rehabilitation of Delhi's Kingston Street bridges. The bridges carry Route 28 over the West Branch of the Delaware River. Photo by Robert Cairns.

The mayor of the Delaware County village of Delhi says that work on the main river crossing through the village is behind schedule, but a New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) official disagrees. Meanwhile, a Delhi flower shop on the island between the bridges under repair is struggling as construction limits access to her store.

The Kingston Street bridges, a matching pair of steel spans, carry Route 28 over the West Branch of the Delaware River into the village center from the south. Since mid-May, traffic has been limited to one lane as DOT contractors carry out a long-delayed construction project.

Mayor Richard Maxey, at the Monday, July 20 meeting of the Dehil Village Board of Trustees, said that work on the bridges is behind schedule by “at least two months, I would think.”

He said that contractors found more deterioration in the structural steel than expected and had to make unexpected repairs.  Read more

Dahlia's Delights sandwich stand in the national radio spotlight

Above: Dahlia's Delights. Photo by Jason Dole/WJFF.

If you're a regular at Dahlia's Delights, a White Sulphur Springs ice-cream-and-sandwich stand, you may hear yourself on National Public Radio this weekend.

NPR's Weekend Edition is profiling snack stands across the country, and is working with local Catskills station WJFF 90.5 FM in Jeffersonville to produce a radio story about Dahlia's, which serves a surprisingly extensive array of gourmet paninis made with ingredients grown in an on-site garden.

Dahlia's Delights opened in 2013, and is now entering its third season in a walk-up window on Route 52 in Sullivan County.  Read more

Delaware County adds dedicated drunk-driving prosecutor

Above: A police officer making a drunk driving arrest. Photo by Flickr user Jeffrey Smith.

Delaware County will have a full-time prosecutor for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) cases following action of the county's board of supervisors on Wednesday, July 22.

The board adopted a resolution creating a new position in the couny district attorney's office.

The resolution states that the county “recognizes that effective and efficient prosecution of DWI offenses in the local criminal courts is needed, but is time consuming and requires specialized training and experience.” It notes that the current assistant district attorneys “have extensive caseloads relating to non-DWI offenses” and says a full-time DWI prosecutor “is necessary.”  Read more

Pedal mettle: Mountain biking and road cycling in the Catskills

Above: A mountain biker races in Hurley in 2013. Photo by Tim Kleeger of Fats in the Cats.

The Catskill Mountains were made for road cycling and mountain biking, with miles of paved, lightly trafficked roads and rugged mountain trails. For those who love to shred shale, the region is a mountain biker’s paradise.

The FATS IN THE CATS BICYCLE CLUB (fatsinthecats.com) has over 150 members and has been around since 1994, with rides for bikers of all abilities, including a weekly “newbie” rider group.  Read more

ATV riders find body in Mountaindale

Above: Post Hill Road, center, runs through a wooded section of the hamlet of Mountaindale. Image via Google Maps.

People riding ATVs on Post Hill Road in the Sullivan County hamlet of Mountaindale discovered the remains of a human body on Friday, July 17, according to the Times Herald-Record

The remains of the body ... were so badly decomposed, all that was left was bones, according to Town of Fallsburg Supervisor Steve Vegliante. The sex of the remains was unknown, he said he was also told.

Authorities are refusing to say much about the discovery while they investigate, the paper reports.  

This weekend: The Catskills Forest Festival

Above: A rough beginning of a wood sculpture of a bear made by Samsonville wood artist Hoppy Quick. Quick will be at the Catskill Forest Festival this weekend. Photo via Hoppy Quick's Facebook page

Woodchips will fly in Margaretville's village park on Saturday during the Catskill Forest Festival, an annual showcase of forestry and woodsmen skills and products.

This year, the organizers at the Catskill Forest Association promise that lumberjacks will compete to show off their cutting skills, a sawmill will turn logs into usable boards and craftsmen will turn trees into sculptures. (Ulster County artisan Hoppy Quick is planning to create a few bear sculptures on the spot during the festival -- see his photos above.)   Read more

BBQ in the Catskills

Above: Brisket, pulled pork, chicken and ribs at Catskill Mtn. BBQ in Grand Gorge. Photo by Julia Reischel.

Barbecue fans will drive long distances for their fix of smoked pork belly and brisket. Here’s where to get barbecue in the Catskills. 

The Tannersville version of AMERICAN GLORY BBQ (6033 Main St., Tannersville. 518-822-1234. americanglory.com) opened in August 2014, serving North Carolina-style pulled pork, brisket (chopped or sliced Texas style) and St. Louis-style ribs, all smoked over maple wood for hours.

Above: Ribs at American Glory BBQ in Tannersville. Photo courtesy of American Glory BBQ.   Read more

Lexington hosts first-ever broadband pep rally

Above: Adam Cross, left, the code enforcement officer for the town of Lexington, and Kim Do, a part-time Lexington resident who helped compose the "Broadband Anthem," at the Broadband Pep Rally on July 18. Photo by Julia Reischel.

A boisterous crowd of between 150 and 200 people gathered under a pavilion in the Greene County town of Lexington on Saturday, July 18 to demand broadband high-speed internet service in their remote Catskills town of 805 people, where even old-fashioned landline telephone service is spotty and cell phone service is nonexistent.

The rally, which was organized by resident Bonnie Blader, aimed to convince Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration to fund half of a $3 million project to lay 76 miles of fiber optic cable to 90 percent of the town’s residents.

To set the mood, group of singers in cowboy hats performed a “Broadband Anthem” set to the tune of the “Rawhide” theme song.  Read more

DEP drains Cannonsville Reservoir after drilling incident

Above: The Cannonsville Dam, looking upstream toward the Cannonsville Reservoir. The dam’s release chamber is a rock structure surrounded by a road on the righthand side of the image. Muddy water began flowing into the West Branch of the Delaware River downstream of the release chamber on July 8. Photo via the NYC DEP. 

After drilling caused a worrisome gush of muddy water downstream of the Cannonsville dam in Deposit on Wednesday, July 8, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is draining the Cannonsville Reservoir as a precaution while it makes repairs.

On July 8, contractors working for the DEP drilled several test borings into a rocky embankment about 50 yards south of the downstream base of the dam where a hydroelectric plant is slated to be built, according to DEP spokesman Adam Bosch and a series of press releases.  Read more

Steve Earle hosts Catskills songwriting camp

Above: Steve Earle at the 2014 season of Camp Copperhead at the Full Moon Resort in Big Indian. Photo by Michael Bloom via the Camp Copperhead website.

Steve Earle fans are eagerly awaiting the second edition of Camp Copperhead, a four-day songwriting intensive led by the renaissance man and songwriter’s songwriter at the Full Moon Resort in Big Indian next week.

Ever since his “Guitar Town” hit the top of the country charts in 1986, Earle’s been writing protest tunes and love songs, transcending genre and medium; along the way he’s become an actor and a novelist.

Camp Copperhead, according to a video interview Earle with American Songwriter magazine, will feature morning master classes with Earle followed by small group poetry and guitar workshops with guest artists.

“We’ll have an open mic every night, and we won’t rest until everybody’s played a song,” he says.   Read more

DEC officer frees bear cub from jar stuck on its head

Above: DEC Conservation Officer Anthony Glorioso and the jar he removed from a bear cub's head on June 30. Photo courtesy Anthony Glorioso.

A black bear cub that got its head stuck in a plastic jar was freed by Greene County DEC conservation officers after a four-hour stakeout in the Catskills hamlet of Palenville on June 30.

The cub, stumbling blindly with its head stuck in a large opaque plastic jar, was spotted by residents and an electrician around 3 p.m. on Tuesday, June 30.

And the cub wasn’t alone.

“The mother came galloping through our yard,” said Gail Richards Dedrick, who lives on Palenville’s Maple Avenue. “I had seen the bear before, but I had never seen it move that quickly and determinedly.”

Above: The bear cub with a jar on its head. Photo by Gail Richards Dedrick. 

Just as the mother bear disappeared, a bear cub blundered into the yard from the other direction, Dedrick said.

“It was stumbling around, and you could hear it,” she said. “The bear was bumping into trees.”

Dedrick’s husband tried to free the bear himself, but the jar was stuck tight.  Read more

Delaware County's freshest batch of restaurants

Above: Clams casino at Maplehurst, a new Italian restaurant in Roxbury. Photo by Rebecca Andre.

New eateries are popping up across the Catskills -- so many, in fact, that we can't list them all in one story. In Delaware County alone, in the central and western Catskills, seven new restaurants have recently opened their doors. 

Goatie Whites 
46 Depot St., Fleischmanns

Above: A happy customer at Goatie Whites. Photo by Rebecca Andre. 

Owner Bob Zellner’s goatee is the inspiration for the name of this new ice cream parlor and café at the corner of Depot Street and Route 28 in the village of Fleischmanns. Zellner and his wife, Norika, are both longtime Delaware County locals who began serving Perry’s hard ice cream and soft-serve custard on Memorial Day.  Read more

Take a dip: Where to swim in the Catskills

Above: Belleayre Beach at Pine Hill Lake in July 2014. Photo by Jonathan Garin.

In the Catskills, there’s a secret swimming hole in almost every town. (If you ask nicely, a local may point you in the right direction.) Here are a few of the best known publicly accessible swimming spots, from lifeguarded beaches to swimming pools to blue holes in the wilderness.

SWIMMING HOLES

BIG DEEP is a beloved woodsy swimming hole with a rope swing on the Saw Kill. East of town on Route 212 in Woodstock.

Above: Peekamoose Blue Hole. Photo by Tim Cox. 

PEEKAMOOSE BLUE HOLE, an icy cold, deep blue basin, is tucked into the woods near the border of Ulster and Sullivan counties. From Route 28A in West Shokan, go 10 miles southwest on County Road 42.  Read more

Belleayre Resort gets DEC greenlight

In one of his final acts as New York State's top environmental official, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens acted on Friday to allow the long-awaited Belleayre Resort project in the Catskills to move forward. 

In a decision enacted on Friday, July 10, Martens granted a motion from the DEC's staff to cancel the final hurdle that still lay between the project and the issuing of permits for construction: a legal proceeding called an "adjudicatory hearing."

Above: An interactive timeline of 16 years of Belleayre Resort review.

If it had been held, the hearing would have given environmental groups that successfully sought to downsize the project years ago another chance to weigh in on changes that have been made to the plans in recent years.   Read more

Pedestrian killed in Jeffersonville

Above: Daniel Doherty was killed on Route 52 in Jeffersonville near Willy Ave. The above view, from Google maps, is of Route 52 near that intersection looking east.

A 62-year-old man was killed after being hit by a car on Route 52 in the Sullivan County village of Jeffersonville on Wednesday, July 8, police say.

Daniel Doherty, who lived in Jeffersonville, entered Route 52 near Willy Ave. and was struck by a 2012 Dodge Caliber that was driving east, according to a press release from the New York State Police.

Doherty died at the scene, police say.

Details about the crash are scant; police are asking for witnesses to contact them at 845-292-6600.

Two charged in militia plot to attack Islamberg

Above: Hussein Adams, the CEO of The Muslims of America. Photo by Julia Reischel.

A second person has been charged in connection with a Tennessee man's plot to attack Islamberg, a Muslim community in the Catskills, according to federal prosecutors.

Robert R. Doggart, a 63-year-old former congressional candidate, was arrested on April 10 for plotting to burn down buildings and attack the inhabitants of Islamberg, a community of about 200 black Muslims in the Delaware County town of Tompkins, near the village of Hancock.

Left: Robert R. Doggart in a campaign photograph, via Heavy.com.

On Tuesday, July 7, a federal grand jury in Knoxville, Tennessee charged Doggart with solicitation for recruiting another person to help him burn down Islamberg’s mosque, school and cafeteria.   Read more

This weekend: A shrinking town turns to puppets

Above: Can puppets save a small town from depopulation? Photo from a blog post by Shannon Hayes about the West Fulton Puppet Festival. 

Puppets: They're mightier than you think. Though made of fragile substances like felt, sticks and paper, their delicate frames could have the power to boost up an entire town.

At least that's the hope of the founders of the West Fulton Puppet Festival, a weekend of free, community-minded puppetry designed to bolster the artistic spirits of its namesake Schoharie County hamlet.

"It’s a community that’s filled with artists and musicians, and we all just want to make it back into the artistic enclave that it used to be," said Ruth Sternberg, one of four co-producers of the festival. "It was once a very active town in the county, and there aren't that many people here anymore. But it's an absolutely magical place to be."  Read more