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Stream team: Students join DEP for a day

Above: Olivia Paetow, a student at Onteora High School, gets a lesson in microbiology from Donna Reynolds of the DEP. Photos courtesy of NYC DEP. 

Students from Ulster County and the Bronx got a hands-on lesson in water science this week, as part of a watershed education program  that paired aspiring young environmental scientists with mentors at the New York City Department of Environmental Protection's Kingston water quality lab.

On Tuesday, the eight teenagers of the "Stream Teams" crew -- a project run by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County, with funding from the Catskill Watershed Corporation -- were paired off with DEP employees to get one-on-one training in the tools of the trade, from digital mapping to microbiology to flood prevention. Three students from Onteora High School participated in the project: Olivia Paetow, Bailey Moskowitz and Nolan Bastianelli. The other five hailed from the Bronx Lab School downstate.  Read more

Spring: Not quite sprung

Above: A tractor in Monticello waits patiently for snowmelt. Photo taken March 23 by Catskills Photography; shared in the Watershed Post's Flickr group pool.

It's been officially spring for a week, but nobody seems to have alerted Mother Nature. Much of the Northeast is still in the grip of winter weather, and local patience with the endless snow is beginning to fray. 

This week might finally bring some relief, though. Hudson Valley Weather calls for forecasts in the 50s by the weekend:

The rest of the week will continue to host moderating temps and fair weather. By the weekend temps look to crest 50 degrees as spring starts to fight back.  Read more

Times Union digs up more detail on Cairo police chief's arrest

State police have released little information in the case of Cairo police chief Christopher Sprague, who was arrested last Wednesday on felony charges of evidence tampering. But a couple of enterprising reporters at the Albany Times-Union have turned to court records and anonymous insider sources to dig up some more detail on the case. 

According to a story published in the Times Union on Saturday, Sprague is accused of wiping fingerprints off a .380 caliber handgun connected to a criminal investigation, and instructing a man who possessed the gun illegally and turned it in to lie about it:  Read more

Cairo police chief charged with evidence tampering

The chief of police in the Greene County town of Cairo has been arrested on felony charges, in what state police say is a case of evidence tampering. 

A New York State Police statement has little specific information about the case, but states that 48-year-old Cairo police chief Christopher Sprague is charged with tampering with public records and tampering with physical evidence in the first degree, tampering with a witness in the fourth dgree, and falsely reporting an incident in the first degree. 

From the statement:

The charges are the result of Sprague's improper handling of evidence and falsely reporting information to the State Police.   Read more

School aid cuts draw ire from parents - and robots

Above: We're not sure who Gagnacon is, but we know he wants Gov. Andrew Cuomo to restore $547,818 in state aid to the Onteora Central School District. Photo courtesy of Valerie Havas, a PR specialist for Onteora.

Among the attendees at a Boiceville rally held in protest of steep cuts in state aid to the Onteora Central School District on Saturday: State senator Cecilia Tkaczyk, former Woodstock supervisor Jeff Moran, local children's folksinger "Uncle Rock" Robert Burke Warren, and local parents and PTA representatives. Also a giant robot, who when pressed by a Times Herald-Record reporter, would identify himself only as "Gagnacon."

As the Times Herald-Record notes, Onteora faces a staggering state aid cut of over 7.6 percent in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed 2013-2014 budget, at a time when the district's neediest population is on the rise:  Read more

Village election results

Most village-level politicians up for re-election in the Catskills on Tuesday went unchallenged. But some local villages had contests -- and with big issues like tax caps and flood recovery on the table even at the smallest level of government, the few people who tend to vote in local races have a lot at stake. 

Unofficial results for contested elections follow, from village officials or local news accounts (linked).

Delhi voted to keep its mayor, Richard Maxey, who won 162 votes to challenger Gerry Pilgrim's 89. In a race for two seats on the village board, incumbent Gregory Krzyston, with 161 votes, and newcomer Dan Ayres, with 159, won over previous trustee Margaret Baldwin with 136 and write-in Virginia Hoyt with 11.  Read more

Villages go to the polls

Photo by Flickr user Keith Ivey. Published under Creative Commons license.

Upstate New Yorkers living under the sway of the state's littlest governments go to the polls today, to elect new mayors and village boards or give the incumbents another two years. For most New York State villages, Tuesday, March 19 is Election Day.

Elections in most Catskills villages promise to be a sleepy affair this year, with few challengers on the polls.

In Ulster County, where several villages hold elections at other times in the year, only Saugerties has an election, and none of the four incumbents on the ballot has a challenger. New Paltz will hold elections in May, and Ellenville in November along with the general election.  Read more

Catskills under winter storm warning

Spring may be due to kick off officially in just a couple of days, but winter isn't done with the Catskills yet. Starting tonight, the National Weather Service warns, we're in for a round of snow and sleet, with accumulations of up to eight inches in parts of the Catskills.

A winter storm warning issued by NWS Albany calls for four to eight inches of heavy snow and up to a quarter-inch of ice in Greene and Ulster Counties, beginning early this evening and continuing into early Tuesday morning. The storm will start out as snow and change over to sleet and ice overnight, with rain in the more low-lying areas.   Read more

Catskills syrupmakers celebrate Maple Weekend(s)

We found the pot of gold: It's at Roxbury Mountain Maple. (And a dozen-plus other syrupmakers around the Catskills, all celebrating Maple Weekend on March 16-17 and 23-24.) Photo from Roxbury Mountain Maple's Facebook page.

Editor's note: We have added more events to this post since it was first published. 

Legend has it that an Iroquois chief accidentally tapped a maple when he’d just needed someplace to stick his tomahawk, and his significant other decided to try cooking with the liquid from the wounded tree. Thus began tree-to-table, and a lively lot of characters have been refining the art ever since.

Over the intervening years, syrup harvesters have found ways to be a bit gentler to the trees, which graciously donate their sweet essence year after year to humans who craft it into all sorts of delectable treats, a gentle act of organized foraging.  Read more

Celebrating pi -- and pie

Above: Homemade pie with apples from Wrights Farm, destined to meet a sticky end in Lazy Crazy Acres's small-batch Apple Cobbler gelato. Photo from Pure Catskills's Facebook wall.

It's 3.14 today, which means math nerds and pie-lovers around the world are celebrating Pi Day.

In honor of this most auspicious holiday, the Watershed Post is collecting beloved pie hotspots in the Catskills. (Like you really need an excuse for pie.) Got a favorite local source for fresh-baked pie? Let us know in a comment below, or tweet with the hashtag #CatskillsPie.