Mount Tremper man arrested for armed bank robbery in Boiceville

A Mt. Tremper man was arrested for Wednesday's robbery of the Community Bank branch on Route 28 in Boiceville, Ulster County police announced today

In a news release, Ulster County sheriff's deputies said that 54-year-old Nicholas Liakis Jr. was arrested Wednesday at a house at 5455 Route 212 in Mount Tremper, not far from the scene of the crime, after a car seen leaving the bank was spotted outside the house. 

The bank was robbed just before noon on Wednesday by a man armed with a handgun. Five employees and one customer were in the building at the time. No one was injured in the robbery.  Read more

Catskills junkyard operator faces criminal charges

Above: William Hrazanek. Courtesy of the NYS DEC. 

State environmental officials have filed criminal charges against junkyard owner William Hrazanek, 68, after the discovery of leaky drums of oil and gas found last year on his properties in Fleischmanns and Arkville.

The charges are not related to a spill in Mount Tremper that has been linked to Hrazanek, which officials say they are still investigating. 

In May 2013, a routine inspection by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Region 4 office turned up hundreds of tires and 12 leaky barrels of waste oil and gasoline at Hrazanek's property at 717 Wagner Avenue in Fleischmanns, known as the VW Parts building. 

When Hrazanek failed to report the leaking gasoline at Wagner Avenue, DEC agents raided the property and two other junkyards owned by Hrazanek in the town of Middletown, leading to the current charges.   Read more

Boiceville bank robbed

The Boiceville branch of Community Bank, at 4141 Route 28, was robbed on Wednesday morning, according to a report from the Daily Freeman

The bank -- formerly a branch of the Wilber National Bank, a company that was acquired by Community Bank in 2010 -- is across the street from the Onteora Middle and High School, and the Bennett Elementary School. As of around 12:15 p.m., the buildings were on lockout, along with the Phoenicia Elementary School.

During a lockout, school continues inside the building as usual, but all doors are locked, and no one is allowed to enter the school building until authorities give an "all clear" signal to the school.  Read more

American Glory BBQ soon to open in Tannersville

Can you smell those ribs, Tannersville? Photo from American Glory's Facebook page.

Joe Fierro loves to hear how his devoted Catskills diners drive a long distance over the mountain to eat at his downtown Hudson restaurant, American Glory BBQ. At the same time, he hates to hear that they would come more often if it weren’t such a long drive home.

So this spring, he’s bringing the smoked pork belly and brisket westward, opening a second location in Tannersville, in the heart of Greene County’s mountaintop ski region.

“I was looking to widen my footprint, and I knew the business was already there,” Fierro said. “I know I have a lot of customers who come from Woodstock, Tannersville, Windham and Hunter.”  Read more

Frostbitten Summit man rescued from unheated home

An elderly man in the Schoharie County town of Summit was rescued from his unheated home on Mud Lake Road on Tuesday afternoon, according to several news reports.

The man was suffering from frostbite, hypothermia and dehydration when rescuers found him, the Daily Star reports:

[Schoharie County sheriff Tony Desmond] said he is not disclosing the man's identity, but credited an acquaintance of the medical patient for informing authorities that the man needed help.

"We were lucky to get to him when we did," Desmond told The Daily Star,

He noted the entry to the man's house was blocked by a towering wall of snow. That had to be cleared away by deputies, Richmondville Fire Department volunteers and Summit Rescue first responders for the rescuers to assist the man.

WNYT also has a news report about the rescue of the man, who has not been identified. 

Schoharie County runs several programs that might have helped the man, if he had asked for help. About 250 elderly Schoharie County residents are currently on a list to get hot meals delivered to their homes by the Schoharie County Office of the Aging.  

Nancy Dingee, director of the county Office of the Aging, told the Watershed Post that the man who was rescued in Summit today was not known to her agency. 

"We did not know he was there. He's never contacted our office," Dingee said. "We will assist any senior in need. But this gentleman was not on our radar." 

  Read more

DEP to remove 15,000 storm-damaged trees near Cannonsville Reservoir

Above: Storm-felled trees on New York City-owned land on Houck Mountain, northeast of the Cannonsville Reservoir in Beerston, NY, in May of 2013. Photos courtesy of NYC DEP.

Blame it on the rain -- and the wind, and the torrential flooding. In the past several years, extreme storms have taken a toll on Catskills forests, leaving many trees in the region toppled or damaged. 

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection, which owns and manages thousands of acres of land around the city's upstate reservoirs, recently announced the start of a major forestry project to remove about 15,000 storm-damaged trees from 120 acres of land on Houck Mountain near the Cannonsville Reservoir. 

About 60 percent of the trees at the site have been felled or damaged by Irene, Lee and Sandy, said DEP spokesperson Adam Bosch.

The trees will be harvested by a local contractor who bid for the job, Ostrander Logging of Walton, and milled into lumber. Many of them are valuable hardwoods, like black cherry.  Read more

Devil-mask-wearing church burglar does $18,000 in damage to steal $200

You can't make this stuff up: Police say two men, one wearing a devil mask, robbed a Mormon church in the Schoharie County town of Esperance last month, damaging the church to the tune of $18,000 in the process. 

On Monday, state police announced the recent felony burglary arrests of 26-year-old Justin Pethick and 18-year-old Roger Graham, both from the Esperance hamlet of Central Bridge. Police say that on Jan. 27, the pair broke into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Central Bridge, and proceeded to damage doors, cabinets and locking mechanisms while looking for things to steal. Pethick was wearing a devil mask to conceal his identity, police said. 

The alleged burglars didn't find much for their trouble, police said: $160 and two backpacks were stolen from Boy Scout Troop 46, which keeps a storage room at the church, and $40 was taken from the church's Family History Center.   Read more

MARK Project gets $250K grant to boost businesses in Roxbury and Andes

A highway runs through it: Route 30, Roxbury's Main Street, on a chilly January afternoon. Photo by Greg Henderson

In the rural Catskills, "economic development" often doesn't mean big-ticket projects. For the MARK Project, a nonprofit based in the Delaware County town of Middletown, it can mean helping a local small business build a website, install bookkeeping software, or buy a critical piece of equipment. 

Through their Small Business Development Fund, the MARK Project has given small grants and loans for projects like these to over 60 local businesses, most of them in and around Middletown. On Thursday, Feb. 20, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the approval of a $250,000 grant to the MARK Project to continue and expand the program.  Read more

Perfect landing

Above: A chickadee touches down at a backyard feeder, while an American goldfinch looks on.

Local photographer James McCracken took this shot in a neighbor's yard in South Kortright last week, with the aid of a GoPro Hero 3 camera and a color-enhancing Instagram filter. For more of McCracken's stunning mid-flight shots of backyard birds -- and more photos from around the Catskills -- check out the Watershed Post's Flickr group pool

Five arrested on drug and weapons charges in Ulster County

Complaints of constant drug sales from a Marbletown home sparked an investigation that led to the arrest of five people on Friday, the Ulster County Sheriff's Office reports

On Friday, Feb. 21, members of the Ulster Regional Gang Enforcement Narcotics Team (URGENT) executed a search warrant at 126 Vly Atwood Road in Stone Ridge, in the town of Marbletown. In the search, police found about a half-ounce of cocaine, ecstasy tablets, MDMA powder (also known as "Molly"), ketamine powder ("Special K," a controlled sedative), marijuana, drug packaging material, scales with cocaine residue on them, "cutting agents" used to dilute drugs, cutting paraphernalia and other drug paraphernalia. Police also seized cash, three rifles, two shotguns and a large amount of ammunition.   Read more