DEP murder suspect David Reese indicted

David Reese, an employee of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection who stands accused of fatally shooting his coworker in February, was indicted by an Ulster County grand jury on Tuesday, several news outlets report. 

The shooting occurred in the DEP's Kingston office, early in the morning of Monday, February 3. Police say the 53-year-old Reese, a stationary engineer at the department who lived in Gilboa, shot and killed 33-year-old Aron Thomas, a watershed maintainer from Olivebridge.  Read more

Historic Rexmere hotel burns

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Top: Fire engulfs the historic Rexmere Hotel around 11 a.m. on March 25, 2014. Photo by Chris Becker. To see a slideshow of the fire as it destroyed the building in about 20 minutes, see the bottom of this story.  

Above: Video of the Rexmere collapsing in flames. Shot by Joshua Sparkes and shared with the Watershed Post. 

The Frank W. Cyr Center, formerly the Rexmere Hotel, burned to the ground Tuesday on West Main Street in the village of Stamford.

According to eyewitnesses at the scene, the fast-moving fire began shortly before 11 a.m. By around 11:20 a.m., the historic seven-story building had collapsed.

Below: Before and after: Two photos of the Rexmere taken about an hour apart on March 25, 2014. The first, taken by Chris Becker, was shot around 11 a.m., shortly after the fire started. Bottom, the same side of the building after it collapsed, taken at noon by Lissa Harris. 

The Stamford Fire Department arrived on the scene minutes after the building's fire alarm went off, according to Chris Becker, who lives around the corner from the Cyr Center on Lake Street, and serves on the board of the nonprofit that owns the building, the Catskill Mountains Educational Center (CMEC). But despite the quick response time, firefighters were unable to prevent the destruction of the building.

"Within 20 minutes, the fire was across the whole front," Becker said.

By around noon, hundreds of firefighters from many local fire companies had arrived and were battling the blaze amid thick plumes of smoke.

Above: Firefighters battle the blaze at the collapsed remains of the Frank W. Cyr Center/Rexmere Hotel midday on Tuesday, March 25. Video by Lissa Harris.

West Main Street was closed to traffic, and the power to the neighborhood was shut down while firefighters fought the flames. Several residents of the street were evacuated shortly after noon because of the thick smoke. One was Patty Beck, another CMEC board member who lives a couple of houses down from the Cyr Center.

"They're worried about the chemicals," said Beck, taking a minute to speak to a reporter from behind the wheel of her car, as she was heading for a friend's house to wait out the aftermath of the fire. Beck was unsure when she would be allowed back in her house.

The blaze engulfed the building with ferocious speed, Beck said. "So fast. It was just like paper."

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State trooper helps deliver baby on Route 28 in Franklin

A woman in labor who just couldn't make it to the hospital got an assist last week from New York State Police Trooper Timothy West, Jr., who responded to a 911 call just in time to help deliver a baby in a car on a dark, lonely stretch of Route 28 in the Delaware County town of Franklin. 

Around 11 p.m. on March 18, the driver of the car called 911 to report that the passenger was in labor, said Trooper Nathan Riegal, public information officer for Troop C. Within minutes of West's arrival, the baby was born in the parked car, Riegal said. 

"The child was born successfully without any issues," Riegal said. "[West] was able to wrap the child up in a blanket and hand it over to the medical people who arrived. The child was born just as EMS was showing up." 

West has been on the force since 2007, Riegal said. Before last week's call, he had never assisted in a delivery.   Read more

State police raid Windham town hall

So far, there are more questions than answers in the Greene County town of Windham, where state police conducted a raid on the town hall on Friday in which computers were seized. 

The Daily Mail reports that town officials are keeping mum about the raid. Supervisor Stacy Post -- formerly the town's chief of police -- gave the paper only a brief statement: 

Town Supervisor Stacy Post, contacted by cell phone on Friday afternoon, confirmed, “there is an investigation,” and provided no further information.

Greene County's acting district attorney, Charles Bucca, described the raid to the Daily Mail as part of an "open investigation into potential criminal offenses," but did not elaborate.   Read more

Olive woman charged with stabbing

A Shokan woman has been jailed on felony assault charges, after an incident in which police say she stabbed a family member in the back with a kitchen knife. 

Around 11:30 p.m. on the night of Friday, March 21, Ulster County police got a call from Kingston Hospital that the hospital was treating a stabbing victim. Upon investigation, police found that a domestic dispute had occurred at 3382 Route 28 in Shokan, in the town of Olive. During the dispute, 42-year-old Michaeline Zager stabbed a family member in the back with a kitchen knife, police said in a news release.

The victim, who was not identified, was taken to Kingston Hospital in a private vehicle and did not have life-threatening injuries, police said.

Ulster County sheriff's deputies arrested Zager at the house on 3382 Route 28 without incident. She is charged with second-degree assault, a felony, and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a misdemeanor.   Read more

Plattekill man was dealing heroin with a 6-year-old in the house, police say

A house on 850A South Street in the town of Plattekill, the home of a convicted man on probation, has earned a reputation for drug dealing in the neighborhood. On Friday, a police search of the house turned up heroin, cocaine and guns, along with a six-year-old child.

Acting on complaints about heroin dealing at the house, officers from the Ulster County Regional Gang Enforcement Narcotics Team (URGENT) made a probation home check on Friday, March 21. A search of the house found 70 bags of heroin, cocaine, a loaded shotgun, a rifle, a stun gun and roughly $2,600 in cash.

The resident, 29-year-old Mark Nugent, shoved a probation officer and struggled with police when they arrived at his home, according to a statement by the Ulster County Sheriff's Office. The child, who police say was in Nugent's care, was in the house at the time.   Read more

Agloe, the Catskills town that doesn't exist

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Top: Screenshot of the former Agloe General Store, from a video by YouTube user and John Green fan ObviouslyBenHughes, who visited Agloe in 2010. Above: The full video. 

A Catskills town called Agloe is famous this week for the fact that it doesn't exist. 

The hamlet of Agloe, an imaginary place located at an rural empty intersection in Delaware County, was made up in 1937 by two mapmakers as a "copyright trap" designed to unmask competiting mapmakers who couldn't bother to do their own cartography research. 

Agloe's exact location is at the intersection of Route 206 and Morton Hill Road (some say it's Beaver Kill Road) just north of Roscoe over the line in the Delaware County town of Colchester.   Read more

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Next up: April showers

Photo by Lissa Harris.

Snow flurries heralded the first day of spring in the upper altitudes of the Catskills today, and there's a chance for more snow showers on Friday. But on Margaretville's Main Street, snowdrops blooming in front of the village hall serve as a reminder that spring is just around the corner -- even if it doesn't feel like it. 

Man jumps to safety from blaze in Stamford

A fast-moving fire destroyed a house on River Street in the village of Stamford last night, forcing a man, Nick Mattice, to jump to safety from the second floor of the structure before first responders arrived at the scene.

No injuries were reported, but the two-story wood frame residence is a total loss, according to Don Van Etten, the first assistant fire chief of the Stamford Fire Department.

The fire began around 7:50 p.m. on March 18, 2014 and blazed for hours before being extinguished by the combined efforts of four fire departments.

A family of four lived in the house, according to Van Etten, who asked that they not be identified. The family was later identified as Rose and Charles Mattice and their children, Nick and Sarah, by the Mountain Eagle. They are currently being helped by the Red Cross.  Read more

Constitution Pipeline to bring natural gas service to towns along route

Above:  A map of potential natural gas service areas near the Constitution Pipeline, issued at yesterday's press conference. 

In an attempt to build support for their proposed 124-mile natural gas pipeline, Constitution Pipeline officials announced yesterday that they will work with local utilities to deliver natural gas to businesses and residences in four locations along the pipeline.

The announcement is the latest twist in a fractious debate over natural gas within the town of Sidney, where an attempt to ban natural gas drilling was struck down by a state judge in January.  Read more