Wild boars escape in Bethel -- again

Above: Evidence of rooting by recently-escaped Eurasian boars in Bethel. Photo courtesy of the USDA's Justin Gansowski.

For the federal wildlife biologists tasked with keeping New York State boar-free, rounding up Zybysek Trunirz's escaped wild Eurasian boars has become something of a regular occurrence. 

A few weeks ago, it happened again: A group of boars escaped from Trunirz's Goldsmith Road property in the Sullivan County town of Bethel. A neighbor said the group included two "very pregnant" sows, according to a report from TWC News

Since early July, USDA wildlife officials have been in the field in Bethel, trapping and shooting the escaped animals. It took about three weeks, but USDA biologist Justin Gansowski said he believes the agents got them all.   Read more

Olive firewood dealer busted for selling logs infested with emerald ash borer

Above: An adult emerald ash borer. Photo by Jared Spokowsky, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Bugwood.org, via insectimages.org.

Firewood sold on Route 28 in the Ulster County town of Olive was infested with emerald ash borers, a destructive invasive species that is destroying ash trees in the Catskills, according to a press release issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

State environmental and agricultural officers destroyed 14 full cords of infested, cut and split ash firewood and 64 infested ash logs at the site of an unnamed Olive firewood dealer, according to the press release. The officers were alerted to the infested firewood by a tipster.

"If the infected materials were sold or transported off-site, it could have led to the further spread of this invasive species in the region," the press release stated.  Read more

This Weekend: 8th Annual Tannersville Crazy Race & Festival

Above: participants in the Tannersville Crazy Race & Festival make their own motor-less vehicles to race down Main Street. Photo courtesy of Karen Terns.

Crazies, start your engines! 

(Just, no motors, please!)

Purveyors of wacky and wild vehicles are invited to compete on Tannersville’s Main Street on Saturday, July 26 as part of the 8th Annual Tannersville Crazy Race & Festival.

Participants simply have to create their own motor-free cars — using anything from Santa sleighs, flower pots or garbage cans — and be ready to race starting at 2 p.m.  Read more

The Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice celebrates Spain

Above: The tent housing the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice mainstage goes up in Phoenicia's Parish Field. Photo via the festival's Facebook page.

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Above: Camille Zamora performs zarzuela. 

Each year, Phoenicia’s International Festival of the Voice kicks off with something akin to a barn raising. Volunteers unload a massive 5,000-square-foot stage with large white tents flanking from its roost in a local barn and put it together in Parish Park in the tiny hamlet of Phoenicia in Ulster County. 

The tent is already up and ready for this year's festival, which kicks off next Wednesday, July 30, with a theme of “Celebrating Spain.” The five days of vocal events and lectures spread across eight local venues offer a wealth of flamenco and salsa-inspired numbers along with gospel, Jewish liturgical music, shape note singing, and the centerpiece performance of "The Barber of Seville."   Read more

Kingston man arrested on assault, robbery and child endangerment charges

A Kingston man was arrested Monday on robbery, assault and child endangerment charges after he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend and stole her car, according to a New York State Police press release.

Police arrested Charles M. Burgher, 23 of Kingston after an investigation into a domestic dispute in the Town of Esopus.

During the course of the dispute, which played out in front of children, Burgher allegedly assaulted a woman police said he had a relationship with. The woman sustained minor injuries, according to a state police spokesperson.

Burgher forcibly took a set of car keys from the woman during the dispute and fled the area in her car, police said.

State police located Burgher and the car about two miles away from the scene.

Burgher was charged with robbery in the second degree, assault in the third degree and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.  Read more

This weekend: Hudson Valley Chalk Festival in New Paltz

Above: Mike La Casas' chalk piece from the 2013 Hudson Valley Chalk Festival. Photo via the Hudson Valley Chalk Festival's Facebook page.

This weekend, Mike La Casas will create an entire galaxy, complete with stars, planets, rings and meteors. And by Monday, it will most likely be gone.

La Casas, 53, has been composing chalk drawings of galaxies, animals and dinosaurs since he first heard about street art on a radio segment 20 years ago.

On an impulse, he picked up some chalk that day, and still hasn’t stopped.

He said the impermanence of chalk art is part of its allure — it’s what makes it a distinct medium.

And because these pieces of art are fleeting and temporary, unlike other visual artists, chalk artists craft their work for an audience.

“There’s no studio that will let you watch an artist paint,” La Casas said. “This is unique.”

La Casas said he likens street art to performance art, because watching someone create the piece, and the banter between audience and artist, are just as much a part of the experience as appreciating the finished product.  Read more

Delaware County grand jury indicts two on drug charges

An ongoing investigation into heroin and other illegal drug sales in Delaware County has led to the recent arrests of two local people on sealed grand jury indictments, the Delaware County Sheriff's Office announced Friday. 

Arrested on Thursday, July 17 were 31-year-old Gerard Johnson of Walton, who faces charges stemming from the alleged sale of heroin in the village of Walton in June, and 41-year-old Cindy Manon of Arkville, who is accused of selling suboxone in the hamlet of Arkville. Both were arraigned in Delaware County court on Friday and remanded to the Delaware County jail without bail.  Read more

Fugitive arrested for attempted robbery in Gardiner

A Pennsylvania man who allegedly fled the scene of a home invasion robbery in Gardiner three months ago has been arrested and will face felony charges, police say. 

On April 3, 2014, two men broke into a home in Gardiner, and fled before police could arrive, according to a statement from the New York State Police. One suspect, 39-year-old Rasheem Lewis, was soon found at his home in Chester, NY and charged with second-degree attempted robbery, a felony. The other suspect was identified, but police did not locate him at the time, or release his name.

On Friday, police announced tha the second suspect had been arrested in Pennsylvania on a warrant: 32-year-old Andrew Jones of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Federal marshals assisted in Jones' arrest.

Jones was charged with second-degree attempted robbery and second-degree assault, both felonies. Police say Jones injured a resident of the Gardiner home during the April robbery.   Read more

Monticello man stabbed dog who defended his girlfriend, police say

A 31-year-old Monticello man who allegedly stabbed his girlfriend's pit bull to death after the dog bit him during a domestic dispute is facing animal cruelty and harassment charges, police say. 

The incident was reported to police on Saturday, July 12 by a veterinarian at the Animal Hospital of Sullivan County in Ferndale. According to a statement from the New York State Police, the couple brought the dog to the hospital, claiming that they had found him on the side of the road suffering from stab wounds. The veterinarian noticed a bite wound on the man's arm, and called state police to request that a trooper witness the euthanasia of the dog.

The dog, a two-year-old pit bull, died of his wounds, police say.   Read more

Petra Estiatorio brings fresh Greek flavors to Roxbury

Dolmades -- stuffed grape leaves -- at Petra Estiatorio, a new Greek restaurant at the Shephard Hills Golf Course in Roxbury. Photo by Janel Bladow.

“I just stared and said ‘Oh, that’s my restaurant.’ This is my dream,” said Paula Douralas, proprietor and chef of Petra Estiatorio, the Greek restaurant that opened at Shephard Hills Golf Club over the Fourth of July weekend.

Last winter, Douralas visited Shephard Hills, and fell in love. Something about driving up the winding road on a pristine wintery day to the stone restaurant clubhouse took her breath away.

“I was shocked and couldn’t help looking at it. It was all white with snow. I was in paradise.”

The route Douralas took to arrive at Shephard Hills was just as full of twists and turns. Born in Greece, she came to the U.S. at age 7 with her parents who settled in Stamford, Conn.

“I was always cooking with my mother,” she said. “She said ‘If you don’t do it right, don’t do it.’

The recipes she uses were those passed down from her Greek grandmother. Ingredients were never measured, but always just right.

“My mother said ‘God gave you a brain and eyes to use.’ My hand, this is my scale,” she said.  Read more