Ah, Memorial Day: a bittersweet tang, part remembrance, part celebration. The scent of gunpowder from ritual muskets mingling with the fresh blooms of late spring and a whiff of barbecue sauce. The unofficial beginning of summer brings a host of wonderful seasonal things bursting open at once.
Come out and imbibe the heady mix. Here’s our five county guide to the best of the Catskills this weekend, May 23 to 25.
Above: Investigators examine the burned remains of a minivan, which exploded after it crashed into a propane tank in the American Legion parking lot in the Delaware County town of Delhi on Wednesday, May 13. Photo by Julia Reischel.
A man who was badly burned in an explosion behind the American Legion Post in Delhi on Wednesday, May 13 has died, police say.
Joseph Mueller, 19, died in the evening on Thursday, May 14, according to Delhi Police Chief Mike Mills.
On Wednesday, Mueller was driving a minivan when it crashed at a high speed into a 1,000-gallon propane tank behind the Legion around 8:15 p.m., causing an enormous explosion and fire.
About 70 people were in the Legion building playing bingo when the explosion occurred. All were safely evacuated.
The Legion building sustained minor damage from the fire, and several outbuildings were destroyed.
Mueller was alive and conscious but unable to speak and badly burned outside the vehicle when first responders arrived. He was taken by helicopter to Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation, police say.
Above: The Roosa Gap fire threatens a house in the Shawangunks on May 5, 2015. Photo by Michael Wentland.
Due to a rash of wildfires across the state, including many in the Catskills, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday, May 13 that a ban on residential brush burning will be extended until May 21.
The ban, which goes into effect every year for the dry spring period of March 16 through May 14, was scheduled to expire this week.
In his proclamation, the governor said that there have been 110 wildfires across New York state in 2015, which have burned 3,589.4 acres of land, destroyed one structure and threatened 91 homes. Read more
Above: A large propane tank was hit by a minivan at a high rate of speed in the parking lot of the American Legion in Delhi. The tank, in front, did not explode, but the minivan did, rattling windows for many blocks around town. The charred husk of the minivan is visible in the rear of the photo. Photo by Julia Reischel.
Above: A video of the fire shot by Laura Gioffe and shared with the Watershed Post.
A 19-year-old Delhi man was gravely injured in an explosion behind the American Legion building in Delhi around 8:15 p.m. on Wednesday, May 13. The minivan he was driving rammed into a 1,000-gallon propane tank behind the building and exploded, Delaware County officials and police say.
The man, 19-year-old Joseph Mueller of Delhi, was taken to O’Connor Hospital in Delhi and then was airlifted by helicopter to Upstate Medical University in Syracuse by LifeNet, according to Steve Hood, the director of Delaware County Emergency Services, and to a press release from Delhi Police Chief Michael Mills.
The man was not affiliated with the Legion, nor had he attended an event there the night of the explosion, said Ed McGrath, the commander of the Delhi American Legion Post. The Legion was hosting a bingo night when the explosion occurred.
Fire might break out at any moment in the Catskills today, but you also should cover your seedlings to protect them from frost tonight, according to the National Weather Service.
There are both red flag warnings of high brush fire conditions and a freeze warning in effect in the Catskills today, Wednesday, May 13.
NWS Albany has issued a red flag warning for the eastern Catskills, the mid-Hudson Valley and the Schoharie Valley that warns of "dangerous fire conditions" from noon to 6 p.m. today due to gusty winds and low humidity. Read more
Above: Welding instructors Chris Mignier and D.J. Stein show off their creation: a 12-foot-tall bronco sculpture that will be installed on the SUNY Delhi campus. Photo by Robert Cairns.
Those attending the SUNY Delhi commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 16 will be greeted by a new addition to the campus – a 12-foot-tall sculpture of the school's bronco mascot logo, rendered in stainless steel.
The idea for the sculpture was crowd-sourced from among students, administrators and a campus beautification committee. The implementation fell upon welding instructors Chris Mignier and D.J. Stein.
“They asked what we could do,” Mignier said. “We started looking at the logo and decided to make the two-dimensional thing a three-dimensional thing.”
Mignier and Stein began experimenting after class hours and created a scale model, which they presented to college President Candace Vancko and others in March.
“We had no idea what the reception would be. They seemed really pleased with it,” Mignier said.
Vancko confirmed that she liked the model and said she gave the sculptors one more instruction. “I told them, 'Oh, I want it big. I want it really big,'” she said. Read more
Delaware County Court Judge Carl F. Becker will retire from his post as the county's top judicial officer on July 31, fewer than three years into his second ten-year term, according to a press release Becker sent to the Watershed Post on Monday, May 4.
Left: Judge Carl F. Becker.
Becker announced his decision to retire to his court on Friday, May 1, according to the emailed statement. Read more
If you’re planning to eat out today — Friday, May 1 — think of dining at one of the 23 Catskills restaurants in Delaware and Ulster counties that are participating in Fighting Hunger Friday, a fundraiser for the Margaretville’s Community Food Pantry, based in Arkville.
The restaurants, listed below, are accepting cash donations from diners that they will pass on to the food pantry. Leave your donation in a brown paper bag on your table at any participating eatery.
Some of the eateries are offering special menus and matching donations. The Arkville Bread and Breakfast is serving fried chicken and waffles tonight from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., with all proceeds going to benefit the food pantry. The owners of the Crazy River Café in Margaretville will match every donation to the pantry that is made in their restaurant today. Read more
One of the woes of the Catskill Park is that it is not technically overseen by New York State’s parks office. Instead, the Catskill Park is a patchwork of wild forests, small state parks and wildernesses overseen by the New York State Department of Conservation.
This means that the Catskills themselves aren’t featured prominently in I Love My Park Day. But that’s not stopping towns and other organizations in the Catskills from celebrating it. Read more