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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

DEP to remove 15,000 storm-damaged trees near Cannonsville Reservoir

Above: Storm-felled trees on New York City-owned land on Houck Mountain, northeast of the Cannonsville Reservoir in Beerston, NY, in May of 2013. Photos courtesy of NYC DEP.

Blame it on the rain -- and the wind, and the torrential flooding. In the past several years, extreme storms have taken a toll on Catskills forests, leaving many trees in the region toppled or damaged. 

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection, which owns and manages thousands of acres of land around the city's upstate reservoirs, recently announced the start of a major forestry project to remove about 15,000 storm-damaged trees from 120 acres of land on Houck Mountain near the Cannonsville Reservoir. 

About 60 percent of the trees at the site have been felled or damaged by Irene, Lee and Sandy, said DEP spokesperson Adam Bosch.

The trees will be harvested by a local contractor who bid for the job, Ostrander Logging of Walton, and milled into lumber. Many of them are valuable hardwoods, like black cherry.  Read more

Alleged Delhi Express Mart burglar flees -- but not far

A Hobart man who allegedly robbed the Express Mart convenience store in Delhi in the wee hours of Friday morning didn't get too far from the scene of the crime before his arrest. 

At 4:12 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 21, a man stole cash from the register at the Express Mart, at the corner of Kingston and Main Streets in the village, and then fled the scene in a vehicle. He was unarmed, police said.

"He went to purchase an item. When [the cashier] opened the register, he pushed her out of the way, took the cash and ran off," said Delhi Village Police Chief Michael Mills. 

As Delhi police were responding to a 911 call, state troopers from the Margaretville station heard the incident over the radio and began patrolling for the suspect's vehicle. At 4:36 a.m., the troopers stopped a vehicle traveling on County Road 18 in the town of Stamford, and arrested the driver: 41-year-old Jamel Wilson of Hobart.

The proceeds from the burglary were in the vehicle. Police say Wilson was found to be under the influence of a controlled substance.  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

Delaware County travel advisory lifted

The worst is over. Yesterday's travel advisory for Delaware County was lifted at 11:51 a.m. today via email by Delaware County Sheriff Tom Mills: 

Per Order of Delaware County Sheriff Thomas Mills:

Effective immediately, the travel advisory for Delaware County has been lifted. 

Travel advisory issued for Delaware County

At 2:15 p.m. today, Delaware County Sheriff Tom Mills issued a travel advisory via email warning motorists to stay off all roads in Delaware County: 

Per Order of Delaware County Sheriff Thomas Mills:

Effective immediately, due to the current winter storm warning, a travel advisory has been issued for all of Delaware County until further notice. All unnecessary travel should be avoided.

A visitor driving to the WP HQ in Margaretville along Rte. 30  south at 3pm today passed three cars stranded on the side of the whited-out road. Be careful out there. 

Update: The travel advisory for Delaware County was lifted at 11:51 a.m. Friday, February 14.

 

Five ways to spend Valentine's Day in the Catskills

 

1. We heart art. 
On Valentine's Day, meet and mingle with the artists in permanent residence at the Woodstock Commons, a new affordable-housing center for artists, seniors and working families. "Share The Love," a gallery show featuring the artists' work along with artwork by children who live in the building, will open on Friday, Feb. 14, with an opening reception from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Work by Avigayil Landsman, Sasha Sun, Laura Katz and Mercedes Cecilia will be on display, and the evening will feature a special performance by resident musician Barry Garneau.

 

Above: Catskill Rose's handmade lobster marscapone ravioli. Delish.  Read more

Craft beer industry booming in the Catskills

Beers of the Catskills: There's plenty to choose from. Photo from the Facebook page of Cave Mountain Brewing Co. in Windham, whose proprietors are planning to expand into wholesale.

Craft beer drinkers of the greater Catskills region, rejoice: many new taps will flow this spring.

Between April and June, three new breweries are scheduled to debut, offering small-batch brews from the hands of two industry veterans and one newcomer.

Up first is Hunter Mountain Brewery, a microbrewery and restaurant created by longtime local brewmaster Nat Collins, co-founder of the annual TAP-NY Craft Beer & Fine Food Festival. Hunter Mountain Brewery, slated for late April, is now under construction in the former home of the Fireside Restaurant, along Route 23A between Hunter and Tannersville.  Read more