Route 42 closed again for rock removal

The New York State Department of Transportation has closed Route 42 in Greene County's Halcott Mountain Pass for a few days this week to remove the remains of a rockslide that cut across the road in May.

Beginning today, Monday, September 8, Route 42 in the town of Lexington will be closed from "just south of Beech Ridge Road to a point approximately four miles north of Route 28," according to a DOT press release. Drivers will be re-routed from Route 23A to Route 214 to Route 28.

The road is expected to be closed for the entire week.

Developer backs away from plan to turn Narrowsburg school into drug rehab center

A developer who bought the former Narrowsburg school and planned to turn it into a drug rehabilitation center has agreed to back away from the project.

At a meeting on Thursday, September 4, the Sullivan West School District voted unanimously to allow the developer, Joan Buto, to transfer her right to buy the building to rival developers Brendan and Kathy Weiden. The Weidens had offered their own higher bid on the school back in June, and had planned to turn it into a multi-use facility.

In a letter issued by the Weidens on Thursday, the couple wrote that Buto's decision to abandon the project was voluntary.

"Ms. Buto acted of her own accord in offering to assign her contract rights to us," they wrote. "We ask that you join us in thanking Ms. Buto for her generous act."

The Times Herald-Record has a great recap of the meeting.   Read more

Cuomo gives millions in state aid for Sullivan County flooding

Above: Main Street/Route 52 in Jeffersonville at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 2. Photo by Tiffany Karen Denier.

On July 2, floodwaters stood two feet deep on Main Street in the Sullivan County village of Jeffersonville. Other spots in the towns of Callicoon and Delaware, including the Villa Roma Resort, were also inundated by flash flooding.

But the amount of damage -- particularly to the Jeffersonville sewer system -- wasn't enough to trigger an infusion of federal disaster aid. So Cuomo appropriated $2.8 million from a state emergency fund to cover the damage instead, he announced on September 3.

"The State support will help cover the public costs of the County’s cleanup effort as well as make infrastructure improvements to prevent future flooding along NYS Route 52," according to a press release issued by the governor's office this week.

Cuomo is running for re-election, so the announcement included lavish praise from many Sullivan County officials.  Read more

Police: Margaretville woman was "significant" cocaine trafficker

A 66-year-old Margaretville woman who was allegedly dealing large amounts of cocaine out of her house has been arrested by Delaware County police, and is facing multiple felony drug trafficking charges. 

Delaware County sheriff's deputies arrested Diana LeDuc on Thursday, Sept. 4, after a search of her West Hubbell Hill Road home turned up a half-ounce of cocaine, two handguns and two high-capacity magazines. Police also found $500 cash and a public assistance benefit card in LeDuc's name. 

The search followed several weeks of investigation into the sale of cocaine from LeDuc's house, carried out by Delaware County sheriff's deputies and Village of Walton police. 

Police say that during the recent investigation, LeDuc sold large amounts of cocaine on three occasions. On one occasion, police say, LeDuc sold more than a half-ounce of cocaine, leading to a charge of second-degree sale of a controlled substance, a Class A-II felony. If convicted, she will face up to ten years in prison for this charge.  Read more

Meet Phoenicia's new outdoor store, the Catskill Mountain Storehouse

Tim Luby, Jess Fritscher and Muppet celebrate the opening of the Catskill Mountain Storehouse. Photos courtesy of Tim Luby.

For Tim Luby and Jess Fritscher, a pair of avid hikers with a longstanding love for the trails and hollows of the Catskills, visiting just wasn't enough. 

"We were driving back from one of our many trips to the Catskills," Luby said. "I kind of blurted out, 'They need an outdoor store here.'"

That was just six months ago. Since then, Luby and Fritscher, a couple of young Rockland County residents with day jobs in Manhattan, have wasted no time making their vision a reality. On Friday, August 29 the pair officially launched the Catskill Mountain Storehouse, a lovingly-curated little outdoor store in the heart of Phoenicia's Main Street. 

The couple (they're engaged to be married) has been coming to the Catskills almost every weekend since they met, Luby said.

"I feel like the Catskills is the backdrop of our relationship, and how we've grown together," he said. 

What that glorious backdrop needed was a few more props, Luby decided. Specifically, a place in the central Catskills where a weekend hiker could pick up a few extra tent poles.  Read more

This Weekend: Balsam Lake Fire Tower Hike

Above: Balsam Lake Fire Tower. Photo by Laurie Rankin.

This Saturday, experienced hikers from both sides of Balsam Lake Mountain in the remote town of Hardenburgh will lead hikes to the site of the oldest fire tower in the Catskills. A wooden fire tower at the summit was originally installed in 1887 to protect the privately-owned lands of the Balsam Lake Club. That original tower is long gone, but the 47-foot replacement has fabulous views.

You'll be hiking with two professionals: Lisa Lyons, the owner of Morgan Outdoors in Livingston Manor, will lead a hike from the Sullivan County side of the mountain, while Bob Moses of the Catskill Mountain Club will lead one from the Delaware County side. The whole trip from bottom to top and back again is 4.4 miles from Sullivan County and 5.9 miles from Delaware County. 

To give you incentive to reach the top, there will be a ceremonial awarding of our signature Catskill Fire Tower patches to everyone who makes the trek.   Read more

Fences to be installed at Kaaterskill Falls

Above: Kaaterskill Falls shot from behind in January 2014 by Dave Hebb, who shared the photo in the Watershed Post Flickr pool.  

After two people fell to their deaths off Kaaterskill Falls in Greene County this summer, the New York State Department of Conservation will install fences and warning signs at the waterfall, according to a letter from DEC chief Joseph Martens obtained by the Daily Freeman

The fences will be constructed in the early fall, a DEC spokesman wrote in an email to the Daily Freeman, and other safety measures will be taken as well:   Read more

Madison County man arrested for murder in Bovina

A Madison County man was arrested in the Delaware County town of Bovina on Monday and charged with second-degree murder for the death of his girlfriend, who was stabbed to death in the couple's Cazenovia home over the Labor Day weekend.

The victim, 44-year-old Amy Bradstreet, was the mother of the couple's young sons, ages 18 months and 3 years.

State police say that after Bradstreet was stabbed to death, the suspect -- 31-year-old Stephen Schumejda -- drove the two children about 100 miles to his mother's house on County Route 5 in Bovina, then called 911 to report the incident.

It was unclear whether Schumejda or his mother dialed the phone, said New York State Police spokesman Jack Keller, but the call, made around 8:35 a.m., came from the Bovina house.   Read more

Joe Biden attended nephew's woodsy wedding in Mount Tremper

Above: A screenshot of Jamie Biden and Amy Bracco from their wedding website. Vice President Joe Biden attended the ceremony on Saturday, August 30 in Mount Tremper.

Vice President Joe Biden was indeed at the Emerson Resort & Spa in Mount Tremper on Saturday, August 30, according to Tony Lanza, a spokesman for the resort. Biden was part of a wedding party that stayed at the resort and attended several events there.

"We were delighted to host the wedding party at the resort," Lanza said.

I previously reported erroneously that the wedding ceremony itself was held on the grounds of the Emerson. In fact, the ceremony was held at the private Mount Tremper home of the couple, according to an article by Jill Ribich, the wedding coordinator for the event, published in the Catskill Mountain News on Wednesday, September 3

Lanza confirmed the high-ranking visit, but said that he couldn't give any details. Calls to the Vice President's press liaison were not immediately returned. 

The secret has been out for days.   Read more

Boat the Pepacton in September, earn a badge

Above: A sailboat glides on the surface of the Pepacton Reservoir on May 26, 2012. Photo by Tina Schvejda; posted in the Watershed Post's Flickr group pool.

This summer, the Catskills Outdoor Guide is partnering with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Catskill Watershed Corporation to bring you our new Catskill Reservoir Paddler embroidered badge, which you can only earn by paddling a specific reservoir each month.

In September, the spotlight is on the Pepacton Reservoir. Paddle the Pepacton anytime between September 1 and 30, send in your proof, and a Catskill Reservoir Paddler badge will be yours. Click here or scroll down for full redemption instructions. 

The Pepacton reservoir is the workhouse of the Catskill reservoirs, holding more water than any other reservoir in the NYC system. It holds 140 billion gallons, and contributes a quarter of the entire city's water supply.

The 15-mile-long lake is studded with coves and is straddled by the Shavertown bridge, which is a great viewpoint for a photo shoot or an impromptu race. (Real races have been held on the Pepacton: in 2012, it hosted the first leg of the 2012 Adventure Race National Championship.)

The Pepacton has four boat launches spread along its lengthy shoreline. For a detailed map of the Pepacton and its boat launches, click here.

For our five-step guide to boating NYC's Catskills reservoirs, click here. 

  Read more