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Flood watches in effect across the Catskills

A mix of heavy rains in the forecast, late-spring snow still clinging to mountain slopes, and still-frozen ground could be a recipe for flash flooding in the Catskills region Saturday night through Monday, forecasters warn. 

Heavy rain is expected to move into the region late Saturday, and continue through Sunday. Hudson Valley Weather is predicting two to three inches of rain across the Catskills and Hudson Valley  Read more

Homeowners hit by flooding face April 11 deadline for NY Rising help

A year after it was begun, a New York State program to help homeowners pay for damage inflicted by Irene, Lee and Sandy is coming to a close. The NY Rising Housing Recovery Program, which funds repair, mortgage assistance, flood mitigation and buyouts of damaged homes, has declared a deadline of April 11, 2014 for homeowners to apply for assistance.

The program has already paid out over $280 million to 6,388 homeowners around the state whose homes were damaged, according to a press release announcing the deadline.

Catskills residents interested in applying to the program are encouraged to attend one of NY Rising's upcoming outreach events, scheduled in several locations around the region for this Saturday, March 29. The events will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the following locations:   Read more

Maple Weekend isn't over yet

Above: The entries in the "traditional" category of the Fleischmanns First Maple Festival's annual Maple Bake-Off, which was held last Saturday. Photo by Michelle Sidrane. 

The great thing about Maple Weekend is that it's actually two weekends.

Yes, you've got another chance this Saturday and Sunday to taste the first syrup of the 2014 maple season at sap houses and sugar bushes around the Catskills region. Try it fresh out of the evaporator, poured over pancakes, or baked into cookies, cakes, and doughnuts.

Pick up a free copy of the Catskills Food Guide while you're at it: our partners at Shaver-Hill Farm, Roxbury Mountain Maple, and the Frost Valley YMCA all have copies onhand to browse during the maple festivities.  Read more

Maple Weekend on tap: March 22-23 and 29-30

Above: Old-fashioned aprons hang in a Main Street window in Fleischmanns for the annual Maple Bake Off. Photo courtesy of Fleischmanns First.

The sights, sounds and smells of sap boiling in the sugarhouse mean that sweetness, like springtime, is just around the corner.

Syrupmaking is about as historic and local and hands-on as food production ges -- and nothing beats that flavor. Shake off the late-winter blahs and come celebrate Maple Weekend -- actually two weekends of open houses -- in the sugar shacks of the Catskills. Listed below are events that are within the Watershed Post's coverage area; a statewide list of all 146 locations can be found at mapleweekend.com.

Unless otherwise specified, the syrup-crafters listed below will be welcoming company on all four days of Maple Weekend: March 22-23, and March 29-30. Many visits and tours are free; there may be additional charges for breakfasts, pony rides, and other treats.  Read more

Catskills villages head for the polls March 18

Illustration by Flickr user Adreson Vita Sá; published under Creative Commons license.

'Tis the season for green beer -- and rural voting. The day after St. Patrick's Day, New York State's littlest municipalities head for the polls to pick their elected officials.

Most of New York State's villages will hold elections on Tuesday, March 18, although a few opt to hold them at the same time as local elections in November, or at another time in the year. 

In the Catskills, most village elections are a sleepy affair, with few contested races. A couple of local villages this year have open posts for which no one is running, leaving the race wide open to write-in candidates. 

On the other hand, this year's election showdown between incumbents and Rural Heritage challengers in the Sullivan County village of Bloomingburg promises to generate more than enough drama for the whole region. Early Thursday morning, FBI agents swarmed the village, targeting properties owned by controversial developer Shalom Lamm, who recently bought several buildings and has apparently filled them with newly registered voters. If the FBI finds evidence of corruption in Bloomingburg, Lamm's apparent effort to sway election results in the tiny village of just over 400 residents could backfire. 

  Read more

A dog's untimely death in the Catskills sends a message

Above: Alan Via and Bookah on the trail. Photo by Joanne Hihn, who also took the photos used in the Times Union's story; reproduced by permission.

In her nine brief years on the planet, the four-legged Bookah racked up more hiking experience than most humans. With her owner, author and well-known local outdoorsman Alan Via, Bookah scaled all 35 of the Catskills' tallest peaks, earning the chocolate lab her own 3500 Club certificate.

But Bookah's mountaineering skills couldn't save her from a fate every dog owner dreads. While on a hike with Via in a remote and trailless area in the southwestern Catskills, Bookah ate a piece of meat that had been laced with the fast-acting poison strychnine, and died before Via could get her out of the woods.  Read more

A very Catskills St. Patrick's Day

Above: The Edward Maloney Memorial Pipe Band marches in the 2013 St. Patrick's Day Parade in Delhi. Photo courtesy of the Delhi St. Patrick's Day Parade committee.

‘Tis time again to celebrate the Irish, those poetic and tenacious folks who’ve brought so much to the cultural feast. Suffer mightily they may have done, but as Irish fighter Bobby Sands put it, “Our revenge will be the laughter of our children.”

When folks like that party, it’s not to be missed. Here’s our guide to the region’s various St. Paddy's Day festivities.

DELAWARE COUNTY

On Saturday, March 15, come out to Plattekill Mountain in Roxbury for an all-day "St. Platty’s Day" celebration, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. They’re cooking corned beef and cabbage to go with the Irish drink specials and live entertainment. Outdoors, there will be a barbecue and a Shamrock Hunt.   Read more

Another snowstorm takes aim at the Catskills

Above: Still deep winter at the icy cathedral of Kaaterskill Falls. Photo taken March 5 by Rebecca Balzac; shared in the Watershed Post's Flickr group pool.

The Northeast is bracing for yet another late-season snowstorm, due to hit the Catskills region on Wednesday and continue into Thursday. 

Winter storm watches have already been issued for most of the Catskills region. A watch issued by the National Weather Service in Albany covers Greene, Schoharie and Ulster counties; the NWS's Binghamton office has issued a winter storm watch that covers Delaware County along with much of Central New York.   Read more

Catskills edibles shine at NYC trade show

Above: Slickepott's Pam Lamont and Betty Acre Farm's Aissa O'Neil talked up their products at the Pure Catskills booth at a New York City trade show on Monday afternoon. Photos by Jennifer Strom.

For three days this week, you could sample Slickepott sweets and Catskill Food Co. sausage from Delhi, Catskill Provisions honey from Long Eddy and sweet Belgian waffles from Pika’s Farm Table in Lake Katrine, all in the same room.

Granted, it was a giant room: Those were just a few of the vendors who made the trek downstate to represent the Catskills food, farm and restaurant scene at the International Restaurant and Foodservice Show of New York, an annual trade show held in the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan.  Read more

Hollywood vet Bill Pullman chairs the Catskill Mountains Film Festival

Top:  Bill Pullman with Jessica Vecchione, the founder of the Catskill Mountains Film Festival. Photo by Riikka Olson, via the CMFF Facebook pageAbove: Bill Pullman explains his relationship to the Catskills. Video shot by festival founder Jessica Veccchione. 

Bill Pullman, a Hollywood vet whose best-known role is a stalwart president facing down aliens in the 1997 blockbuster Independence Day, is the honorary chairman of the new Catskill Mountains Film Festival, which is launching this May. 

The festival, which was founded by local videographer and filmmaker Jessica Vecchione, is accepting submissions until March 21. (Pullman has an adorable call for submissions on the festival's website.)   Read more