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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

"Quick burst" of snow to hit Catskills this afternoon

See video

Above: Snow falling thick and fast at 11:40 a.m. in Margaretville at the WP HQ. 

This winter isn't over yet. The National Weather Service in Albany is predicting that a "quick burst" of 1 to 3 inches of snow will fall in the eastern Catskills this afternoon -- specifically in Greene, Schoharie and Ulster counties. The snowfall rate will be heavy -- about an inch per hour.

It has already started snowing that hard in Margaretville. See our video above.

The precipitation may become freezing rain as the temperatures rise just above 32 degrees, according to Hudson Valley Weather:  Read more

NYC mayor appoints Emily Lloyd as DEP commissioner

Above: New DEP commissioner Emily Lloyd and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday in the Blue Room at City Hall, where de Blasio announced the appointment of Lloyd and two other city administrators. Photo courtesy of Mayor de Blasio's office. 

Former New York City Department of Environmental Protection commissioner Emily Lloyd is getting her old job back, city mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday at City Hall. 

Lloyd headed the DEP from 2005 to 2008 under former mayor Michael Bloomberg. She resigned from the post in October of 2008, in a move that drew some speculation at the time about whether her departure was connected to controversy over the ballooning costs of the agency's Croton filtration plant  Read more

DEP police sign a new contract with de Blasio administration

Photo illustration. The reservoir in the background is the Pepacton in Delaware County; photo by Timothy Cox, shared in the Watershed Post's Flickr group pool.

A union representing about 200 watershed police working for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently signed a contract with the city's new mayor, Bill de Blasio.

The DEP police contract -- the first labor contract signed under de Blasio's administration -- follows almost a decade of wrangling over the status of the DEP's officers, who have long performed many of the duties of police without the same level of benefits as other city police officers.  Read more

State of emergency declared in Schoharie County

Above: Route 30 south of Middleburgh in Schoharie County this afternoon. Photo used with permission.

Governor Andrew Cuomo just declared a state of emergency in a slew of additional counties affected by today's snow storm, including Schoharie County in the Catskills. Earlier today, Cuomo declared a state of emergency in the Mid-Hudson Valley, New York City, and Long Island.

According to the Schoharie County Fire Wire & News Facebook page, there was a motor vehicle accident on Route 30 around 3pm that has since been cleared.  

Here is the full state of emergency press release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office: 

STATE OF EMERGENCY ANNOUNCED FOR ADDITIONAL COUNTIES IMPACTED BY NOR’EASTER STORM

New Yorkers in Hard-Hit Regions Urged to Stay off Roads  Read more