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NewsShed: Frosty nights ahead

A Catskills bumblebee forages on clover. Photo posted on Instagram this morning by Sean Mahoney.

Happy Thursday, Catskills. The hour has come at last: There's a chance of patchy frost in tonight's forecast, with temperatures expected to dip down into the 30s across the region. Cover your tomatoes, folks.

There's a distinct chill in the air at the Times Herald-Record, whose corporate parent, the Dow Jones Local Media Group, was recently sold to Fortress Investment Group, a private hedge fund. Those wondering how the handover could be worse for the paper than being owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation are advised to check out Boston Business Journal reporter Jon Chesto's sobering take on the sale

Cuts will likely be coming to the largely insulated Local Media Group papers. In an investor presentation, Newcastle says $10 million in cost reductions have already been identified at the group. The papers are described as “under-managed by News Corp.” with “expense reductions of only 6% since 2010.” Translation: We can take more out of the expenses than News Corp. did.

News outlets across the region -- and the nation -- have felt the squeeze of layoffs and shrinking revenues in recent years. We can only hope those "expenses" soon to be managed out of existence don't include too many Times Herald-Record newsroom jobs.

  Read more

Election advertising in the Watershed Post

It's that time of year again: election season is upon us! Give your candidate a boost with an ad in the Watershed Post. Design is included in our low rates, and we're the best way to reach readers across the Catskills. 

To get started, contact Julia Reischel: 845-481-0155 or julia.reischel@watershedpost.com

NewsShed: Route 28 hot rodder breaks all the rules

Meet Steve Heller's Cro-Magnum: The body of a 2006 Dodge Magnum, the tail fins of a 1957 DeSoto, the bumpers of a couple of mid-century Cadillacs, and 160 silver bullets welded to the front grille. With its modern body and its collage of parts from different makes and vintages, the Cro-Magnum isn't your standard vintage hot rod.

In a story this week, the Wall Street Journal reports that Heller's eclectic approach to custom car-building is offending a few classic-car preservationists. But that's all right with Heller, who once welded the roof of a '47 Dodge to a cement mixer barrel to make a spaceship. For more of Heller's Chrome Age sculpture and automotive artistry, check out the website of his shop, Fabulous Furniture -- or just drive through Boiceville on Route 28 and look for the yard full of gleaming tailfins and metal dinosaurs.

Happy Wednesday, Catskills. After a late-summer break, the NewsShed is back. So are the signs of the season: asters and goldenrods blooming their hearts out along every roadside, apple trees heavy with fruit, and foliage looking more autumnal with every passing day. 

September is Emergency Preparedness Month, as the Times Herald-Record's Heather Yakin notes in a column today. In case you need a news outlet to remind you to be ready for flooding, power outages and general cataclysm around here, consider yourself reminded.

As of September 1, it's ginseng harvest season in the Catskills, until the end of November. For this week's Walton Reporter, Lillian Browne talked to a couple of local ginseng experts, who say the herb grows best on the cooler side of a mountain, and that deer are a bigger threat to the rare plants than human overcollecting. 

  Read more

This weekend: Labor Day in the Catskills

Child of the corn: A young Catskillian ventures into a corn maze at the annual Bovina Farm Day, returning to Crescent Valley this Sunday.

Still deciding how to spend Labor Day Weekend? The Catskills has it all, from farm days to fire jugglers. Below: Our four-county guide to the last hurrah of the Catskills summer.  Read more

Hein blasts state for leaving Lower Esopus out of watershed pact

Above: Turbid water from the Lower Esopus mixes with clearer water in the Hudson River. Photo taken by Riverkeeper in November of 2011, when turbidity in New York City's Catskill watershed and the Lower Esopus Creek was still high as a result of the Irene and Lee floods.

In a draft document issued last week, the state Department of Health proposed requiring New York City to spend almost $40 million on new stream projects and flood mitigation in its upstate watershed.

But more important, critics say, is what's not in the document: $2 million for stream restoration programs in the Lower Esopus Creek that appeared in an early unofficial draft, and was cut from the document before it was made public. The document, a midterm review and revision of the city's ten-year Filtration Avoidance Determination (FAD), is open to public comment until October 15.

Ulster County executive Mike Hein, who got a copy of the unofficial draft from Congressman Chris Gibson, is irate at the removal of the Lower Esopus funding. On Wednesday, Hein issued a fiery statement, pointing a finger at the DEP for the removal of the $2 million.

"After the NYC DEP apparently pressured Albany, the Lower Esopus portion of this document was removed," Hein wrote. "This is Proof Positive that the NYC DEP routinely uses its grossly disproportionate influence in an attempt to manipulate the regulatory process."

  Read more

This weekend: See the fire towers glow and earn a badge

Above: Our Catskill Fire Towers badge on a proud hiker's backpack. Photo by Lisa Lyons. 

The Catskills fire towers are already pretty neat, but they're going to be especially awesome this weekend. For half an hour after dark on Saturday, the cabs of all five historic fire towers will be aglow with light.

From the event listing in our calendar

Like huge fireflies dotting the Forest Preserve, the Catskill fire towers will be lit up at 9:00 PM on Saturday, August 31 for approximately 30 minutes (Raindate-Sunday, September 1) ... When you see a light, you are looking back in time almost 100 years – a time when large Catskill hotels known as mountain houses still existed where many famous people spent the hot summer months avoiding the heat and summer diseases of New York City.  Read more

Changes afoot for NYC watershed plan

A flowing Catskills stream, photographed by James McCracken in Hunter. A newly-revised midterm draft of a ten-year plan for the management of New York City's unfiltered watershed calls for almost $40 million in new funding to keep the Catskills' many pretty little streams from flooding towns and villages, as they did in 2011 during Tropical Storms Irene and Lee.

A document recently released by the state Department of Health (DOH) is full of more alphabet soup than a Campbell's warehouse. But within the acronym-laden government jargon is some big news for the Catskills, the home of New York City's vast unfiltered west-of-Hudson watershed.  Read more

Flash flood warning for Delaware and Otsego counties cancelled

The National Weather Service in Binghamton has issued a flash flood warning for northern Delaware and southern Otsego counties, including the towns of Delhi and Oneonta. Torrential rainfall is expected anytime between now and 12:30pm, and the Oleout, Treadwell, and Charlotte Creek watersheds are at risk for flash flooding. 

Here's the text of the alert:

FLASH FLOOD WARNING

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BINGHAMTON NY 831 AM EDT TUE AUG 13 2013

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BINGHAMTON HAS ISSUED A

* FLASH FLOOD WARNING FOR... NORTHERN DELAWARE COUNTY IN CENTRAL NEW YORK... SOUTHERN OTSEGO COUNTY IN CENTRAL NEW YORK...

* UNTIL 1230 PM EDT  Read more

NewsShed: Obama plans an upstate tour

Above: Fresh-harvested garlic and handmade garlic roasters from Barber's Farm, a family farm in the Schoharie County town of Middleburgh. This Saturday, August 17, Barber's and over 20 other local farms are participating in Schoharie County Family Farm Day, a countywide celebration of local agriculture that will feature farm tours, tastes of local produce and more. 

Happy Monday, Catskills. Today's NewsShed covers a little extra ground: We got busy last week and missed a couple of installments. (Upon reflection, we really ought to invest in a crystal ball to let us know when widespread local flood warnings are going to turn out to be no big deal, like they did last Friday.)  Read more

Catskills cyclists share their favorite rides

Photo of Charlie Sanborn, by Nicholas Piatek Photography.

The Catskills are two-wheel paradise, especially if you're not afraid of a few hills. Some people move here just because they love the riding; others try it out on a whim and fall in love with the quiet byways, the rush of bracing air, the sudden views, the skimming along beside a rushing brook. We asked a few people in the know to tell us their favorite rides.

Charlie Sanborn, proprietor of Cinder Track Bicycles, Livingston Manor, grew up in Orange County and moved to the Sullivan Cats specifically for the riding. “I live for this. For the hills. It's like flying a few feet from the ground -- the bike becomes part of you.”

Favorite rides:  Read more