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Decision is near in Amedore/Tkaczyk race

You've got to feel for New York State's 46th Senate District. Like the rest of the state, the 46th -- a rural district that snakes from Montgomery County, through the more rural parts of Schenectady and Albany Counties, across all of Greene County and into the northeastern part of Ulster County -- has some identity issues after a recent redistricting.

Unlike the rest of the state, the 46th still has no representation in the state Senate. A squeaker of a race between Republican George Amedore, the presumptive winner, and Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk has remained undecided, as the two sides battled in court over whether to count 99 ballots that were originally disallowed over minor technicalities.  Read more

Gun control bill signed into New York State law

After a five-hour debate, the Democratic-led New York State Assembly passed a new gun control bill Tuesday afternoon that includes stricter definitions of banned "assault weapons" and new reporting requirements for mental health professionals. In passing the bill, the Assembly joined the Republican-led Senate, which passed the bill late Monday night without debate.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo acted immediately to sign the bill, which has been dubbed the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, and is being discussed widely on Twitter under the hashtag #nysafe.

Since its hasty passage in the Senate on Monday -- after closed-door negotiations between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Senate leaders -- New York State's new gun law has spurred immediate and passionate reactions from New Yorkers of all stripes.  Read more

Wintry weather on the way

It's hot chocolate weather out there, folks. Photo by Flickr user snorlax's cafe; published under Creative Commons license.

After last weekend's downright unseasonable warm spell, it's almost a relief to see the snow clouds rolling back in. Tonight, the National Weather Service is expecting a few inches of snow across the region, possibly with some sleet mixed in.

Most of the Catskills is under a Winter Weather Advisory. In an alert issued for Delaware and Sullivan Counties, the NWS predicts that snow is expected to begin late on Tuesday night, moving northward from the Poconos in Pennsylvania, and spread into the western Catskills by midnight. The heaviest snow will fall Wednesday morning, with accumulations of two to five inches by mid-day Wednesday.  Read more

Gun control bill passes New York Senate, heads for Assembly

A new package of gun laws that includes a stricter definition of banned "assault weapons" and new provisions on gun ownership and mental illness is making its way through the New York State Legislature. Late on Monday night, the Republican-controlled state Senate voted 43-18 to pass S.2230, which will now head for the Democratic-controlled Assembly and likely passage into law.

The New York Times reports that the gun bill was the result of a deal reached under pressure by Gov. Andrew Cuomo:

Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, had pressed lawmakers to move quickly in response to Newtown, saying, “the people of this state are crying out for help.” And the Legislature proceeded with unusual haste: Monday was the first full day of this year’s legislative session.

“We don’t need another tragedy to point out the problems in the system,” Mr. Cuomo said at a news conference.  Read more

Flu emergency declared in New York State

Photo of flu shot being administered by Indiana Public Radio. Published under Creative Commons license.

With flu cases skyrocketing across the state and the nation, Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared an official public health emergency for the state of New York. The announcement was made on Saturday.

Along with the declaration, Cuomo signed an executive order allowing pharmacists to give flu vaccine to children between six months and 18 years old, for 30 days after the order. Under normal circumstances, the law does not allow pharmacists to vaccinate children.  Read more

DEP opens the Cannonsville to motors -- and watershed land to trails

Above: The Cannonsville Reservoir looking serene, if a bit low on water, in July of 2012. Photo by Flickr user mountain_man_ny_2; published under Creative Commons license.

The agency that manages New York City's water -- and its vast upstate watershed -- is taking another small step toward opening up its reservoirs for public use.

This April, the Cannonsville Reservoir will be opened up to fishing boats with electric trolling motors for the first time. If the pilot program is successful, it may be introduced at other reservoirs, following the example of the city's recreational boating program. Launched on the Cannonsville in 2009, the recreational boating program now allows canoes, kayaks and sailboats on four upstate reservoirs.

The program, according to New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) deputy commissioner Paul Rush, is for fishing boats only. But allowing electric trolling motors will make it easier for anglers to access more of the reservoir, and open up the reservoir to people who are physically unable to row.

Deposit resident Lloyd Hornbeck, avid fisherman and longtime proprietor of Hornbeck's Sport Shop, said that local anglers had been talking with the DEP about allowing motorboats on the reservoir for some years.
  Read more

Cuomo's State of the State: Upstate casinos and minimum wage hike on the agenda

Above: Video of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 'State of the State' address on Wednesday afternoon.  Read more

Cuomo and Christie blast House GOP over failure to pass Sandy bill

The governors of New York and New Jersey are publicly venting outrage over a decision by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to adjourn on Tuesday night without voting on a critical Hurricane Sandy relief bill.

This afternoon, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, issued a joint statement:  Read more

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Hudson-Catskill Newspapers publisher Roger F. Coleman dies

Roger F. Coleman, publisher of Hudson-Catskill Newspapers, died suddenly of an apparent heart attack on Monday, New Year's Eve in Kentucky. He was 61.

The Hudson-Catskill Newspapers company publishes the Daily Mail in Catskill and the Register-Star in Hudson, as well as a handful of local weekly papers on both sides of the Hudson River: The Mountain Eagle, Windham Journal, Chatham Courier, Ravena News-Herald and Greene County News.

Local blogger Sam Pratt, who writes from Hudson and has often been a sharp critic of the Register-Star's local coverage there, was the first to break the news on December 31. Pratt wrote:

While this site has tangled with Coleman over various issues over the years, this news comes as a very sad shock. Sincere condolences go out to the Coleman family and Reg-Star staff.  Read more

Where to ring in the New Year in the Catskills -- and beyond

Photo by Flickr user Rosie Rogers. Published under Creative Commons license.  Read more