Bovina

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NYC’s watershed police sue their own union

Above: New Environmental Police Officers being sworn in to their jobs patrolling New York City’s upstate watershed, which spans a 2,000-square-mile area, much of it in the Catskills. Photo via the New York City Department of Environmental Protection’s Flickr page. 

The police officers who patrol New York City’s 2,000-square-mile upstate watershed are suing their own union, accusing it of corruption and of scuttling a long-awaited contract with the city.

In a class action lawsuit filed in federal court in January on behalf of 200 officers, three police officers say that the union’s leadership has betrayed them.  Read more

Delaware County awarded millions to vendors without competition, comptroller says

Above: The seat of Delaware County's government, in Delhi, NY. Photo via the Delaware County website. 

New York state’s comptroller has found that Delaware County awarded millions of dollars to third-party contractors between January 1, 2013 and June 9, 2014 without soliciting competition, or, in some cases, requiring contracts at all.

A lack of “proper administration and oversight” plagues Delaware County’s contractor system in the Departments of Aging, Public Health, Mental Health and Social Services, according to a report released on March 6 by Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“The County has awarded nine third-party contracts totaling $1.9 million without soliciting competition … and has paid three vendors $770,000 for various services without any written contracts with the vendors,” the comptroller’s staff wrote. “The lack of competition creates a risk that services will not be provided in the most prudent and economical manner.”  Read more

The Kingfisher Project tells stories of heroin addiction in the Catskills

Above: A bag of heroin. Photo from a series of photographs shot by WBEZ Chicago Public Radio documenting heroin use.  

Heroin addiction is sweeping through the Catskills, taking lives with it. (Here at the Watershed Post, we write more crime stories about heroin than about any other drug.) 

In 2013, 89,269 people enrolled in heroin drug-treatment programs in New York state; in 2014, that number jumped to 118,000, according to data from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office. Heroin abuse is growing the fastest among the young, among ages 18 to 34. Politicians are worried; the governor launched a statewide campaign to battle heroin abuse last fall. 

Locally, the toll is growing. A doctor at Catskill Regional Medical Center calls heroin a "public health crisis." Delaware County's undersheriff says that despite record heroin busts, "more people are using drugs, overdose deaths have accelerated and jails are crowded." Community forums on the topic are being held around the region. 

The Kingfisher Project, a collaborative storytelling and reporting initiative based at WJFF 90.5 FM in Jeffersonville, is digging deep into the heroin epidemic in the Catskills and beyond. 

  Read more

In visit to Roxbury, state officials vow faster Internet for rural NY

Above: New York State Broadband Program director David Salway, left, talks with Greg Henderson, middle, the owner of the Roxbury Motel, and Angela Liotta, right, the state's Broadband Outreach Director, on Wednesday, Feb. 25. Photo by Julia Reischel. 

In his draft budget for the 2015 - 2016 fiscal year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing an ambitious goal: high-speed internet for everyone, including in rural areas like the Catskills, by 2019. Greene County, in the Catskills, has the worst broadband access in the entire state, according to statistics released by the governor’s office.   Read more

This Weekend: Valentine's Day in the Catskills

Above: Snowmen in love in Roxbury promote Sunday's Hearts in the Hamlet event, via Facebook.

Just when we desperately need a celebration to take the edge off the cabin fever and the late-winter blahs, here it is Valentine’s Day. What could be lovelier? In the Catskills, love is something that’s celebrated year round, but this weekend it’s the star of the show. Come out and create and play and feast and dance. All events are happening on Valentine's Day itself -- Saturday, Feb. 14 -- unless otherwise indicated. 

DELAWARE COUNTY  Read more

President Obama honors Catskills Ebola doctor

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Top: Ramona Sunderwirth, in red, is standing on the far right. 

Ramona Sunderwirth, a part-time Bovina resident and doctor who treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone last year, is part of a group being honored for fighting the disease by President Barack Obama on Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 1:45 p.m. Watch the livestream above. 

The winners of the 2015 Catskills Food Guide Photo Contest

The 2015 Catskills Food Guide is out. Click here for more info. - Ed.

Each year, we ask readers of the Watershed Post and our Catskills Food Guide to send us their best photos of Catskills food and farms. This year, 32 photographers entered our 2015 Catskills Food Guide Photo Contest

Thanks to our contest sponsor, Peekamoose Restaurant & Tap Room in Big Indian, who generously awarded a $75 gift certificate to our grand prize winner. 

Thanks to everyone who entered. To see all of those great photos, click here

Grand Prize Winner   Read more

Snow day, again

Above: Icicles in Andes on Saturday, Feb. 7, by Mark Zilberman. Shared in the Watershed Post Flickr Pool. 

Schools and offices are closed around the Catskills on Monday, Feb. 9 as the National Weather Service predicts 8 to 14 in inches of snow for the region. All five Catskills counties -- Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster -- are under Winter Storm Warnings throughout the day on Monday. The snowfall is forecast to be heavier in the eastern parts of the Catskills. 

(What is is about snow and Mondays? This is the third Monday in a row we've had a big snowstorm in 2015.) 

We're tracking the storm below. Share your photos with us on InstagramFlickrFacebook or email and we'll add them.

  Read more

Catskill Park advocates step up their lobbying efforts in Albany

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Above: A promotional video for the Catskill Park, produced by Catskill Mountainkeeper. 

The squeaky wheel gets the grease, at least in Albany. And until recently, the Catskills were pretty quiet when it came to asking New York’s legislature and governor for money.

That changed in 2013, when a group of organizations working together as the Catskill Park Coalition began heading to the Capitol in person for a formal lobbying effort called Catskill Park Awareness Day. The idea is to knock on the doors of legislators and let them know, in person, that the Catskill Park exists, and that it needs support in the state’s budget.

“Our goal is to encourage Catskill stakeholders to become advocates for the resources needed to make the Catskill Park more accessible and to increase NYS's commitment to fund capital improvements and stewardship,” wrote Alan White, the executive director of the Catskill Center, one of the Coalition’s founding members, in an email to the Watershed Post.   Read more

Below zero temperatures moving through on arctic air

Above: "A bitterly cold night is expected across eastern NY and western New England," according to a tweet from the National Weather Service in Albany. 

The National Weather Service is warning that temperatures ranging from negative 5 to negative 10 degrees will blanket parts of the Catskills tonight, Thursday, Feb. 5. A special weather advisory for Delaware and Sullivan counties states:

Widespread Readings Of 5 To 10 Below Are Expected overnight...With The Normally Colder Spots Even Lower.If You Will Be Outside This Evening And Overnight...Be Prepared To face The Cold. Dress In Layers And Leave As Little Exposed Skin As possible. Also...If You Will Be Driving Remember That Road Chemicals are Much Less Effective At These Temperatures So Any Snow Or Ice On roads Is Unlikely To Melt Despite Being Treated. Roads May Be slippery.  Read more