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To market: Farmers wanted for grassroots local food hub

Above: Garlic from Lucky Dog Farm in Hamden -- a hot commodity in New York City, where the demand for local food is huge and growing. 

Farmers who would like to tap into the lucrative New York City wholesale market are invited to Lucky Dog Farm in Hamden on Monday, April 8 at 2pm, where farmers and agriculture advocates will be talking about creating a local food hub to get more Catskills produce to downstate markets.

Lucky Dog farmer Richard Giles has enlisted educators from the Oneonta-based Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship (CADE) to come down and fill in attendees about the processes involved in becoming market-ready for wholesale distribution.  Read more

Trout season kicks off in the Catskills

Above: Photo of a brown trout fresh from the Pepacton Reservoir on April 1, 2013, the first day of trout season, posted on Facebook by the Vineyard Wine Bar in Downsville.

From April 1 through October 15, it's open season on trout in New York State -- the time of year when that migratory species, Anglerus waderii, flocks to our clear, cold Catskills trout streams from far and wide.

This year, with snow and ice still clinging to the banks of many streams, the season kicked off chilly and damp. In a press release about the 2013 fishing season, the state Department of Environmental Conservation tells anglers that the fish will perk up when the weather gets more spring-like:  Read more

Catskills skiing on Easter weekend -- and beyond

Above: A shot of "The Cliff" on Hunter Mountain, taken on March 27 -- in most years, a date when Catskills skiers are already putting their gear back in the attic.

Skiing on Easter Sunday? Yes indeed: All four Catskills mountains are open for business this weekend.

After last year's dismal winter, you've got to forgive local ski centers for being a little giddy about the prospect of skiing until April. Plattekill, a small family-owned ski center in Roxbury, was especially liberal with the exclamation points when they announced they'd be open March 29 through 31:

Isn't March for Spring Skiing??? It's confusing when April is next week, it's snowing like it's December and the conditions are comparable to mid-January. Now don't you just love mother nature, WE DO!!! YAY FOR SPRING!!!   Read more

Stream team: Students join DEP for a day

Above: Olivia Paetow, a student at Onteora High School, gets a lesson in microbiology from Donna Reynolds of the DEP. Photos courtesy of NYC DEP. 

Students from Ulster County and the Bronx got a hands-on lesson in water science this week, as part of a watershed education program  that paired aspiring young environmental scientists with mentors at the New York City Department of Environmental Protection's Kingston water quality lab.

On Tuesday, the eight teenagers of the "Stream Teams" crew -- a project run by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County, with funding from the Catskill Watershed Corporation -- were paired off with DEP employees to get one-on-one training in the tools of the trade, from digital mapping to microbiology to flood prevention. Three students from Onteora High School participated in the project: Olivia Paetow, Bailey Moskowitz and Nolan Bastianelli. The other five hailed from the Bronx Lab School downstate.  Read more

Spring: Not quite sprung

Above: A tractor in Monticello waits patiently for snowmelt. Photo taken March 23 by Catskills Photography; shared in the Watershed Post's Flickr group pool.

It's been officially spring for a week, but nobody seems to have alerted Mother Nature. Much of the Northeast is still in the grip of winter weather, and local patience with the endless snow is beginning to fray. 

This week might finally bring some relief, though. Hudson Valley Weather calls for forecasts in the 50s by the weekend:

The rest of the week will continue to host moderating temps and fair weather. By the weekend temps look to crest 50 degrees as spring starts to fight back.  Read more

School aid cuts draw ire from parents - and robots

Above: We're not sure who Gagnacon is, but we know he wants Gov. Andrew Cuomo to restore $547,818 in state aid to the Onteora Central School District. Photo courtesy of Valerie Havas, a PR specialist for Onteora.

Among the attendees at a Boiceville rally held in protest of steep cuts in state aid to the Onteora Central School District on Saturday: State senator Cecilia Tkaczyk, former Woodstock supervisor Jeff Moran, local children's folksinger "Uncle Rock" Robert Burke Warren, and local parents and PTA representatives. Also a giant robot, who when pressed by a Times Herald-Record reporter, would identify himself only as "Gagnacon."

As the Times Herald-Record notes, Onteora faces a staggering state aid cut of over 7.6 percent in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed 2013-2014 budget, at a time when the district's neediest population is on the rise:  Read more

Village election results

Most village-level politicians up for re-election in the Catskills on Tuesday went unchallenged. But some local villages had contests -- and with big issues like tax caps and flood recovery on the table even at the smallest level of government, the few people who tend to vote in local races have a lot at stake. 

Unofficial results for contested elections follow, from village officials or local news accounts (linked).

Delhi voted to keep its mayor, Richard Maxey, who won 162 votes to challenger Gerry Pilgrim's 89. In a race for two seats on the village board, incumbent Gregory Krzyston, with 161 votes, and newcomer Dan Ayres, with 159, won over previous trustee Margaret Baldwin with 136 and write-in Virginia Hoyt with 11.  Read more

Villages go to the polls

Photo by Flickr user Keith Ivey. Published under Creative Commons license.

Upstate New Yorkers living under the sway of the state's littlest governments go to the polls today, to elect new mayors and village boards or give the incumbents another two years. For most New York State villages, Tuesday, March 19 is Election Day.

Elections in most Catskills villages promise to be a sleepy affair this year, with few challengers on the polls.

In Ulster County, where several villages hold elections at other times in the year, only Saugerties has an election, and none of the four incumbents on the ballot has a challenger. New Paltz will hold elections in May, and Ellenville in November along with the general election.  Read more

Delaware County sheriff: We can't sweep local drug problems under the rug

Hiding in the bucolic Delaware County landscape: A burgeoning problem of drug dealing and addiction-fueled crime. Photo of tractor-crossing sign sporting a few bullet holes taken in Bloomville by photographer Mark Zilberman; shared in the Watershed Post's Flickr group pool.

Upstate New York's rural drug problem is growing, officials say. And as local police crack down on drugs, the problem is also generating a growing pile of lurid local news headlines.   Read more

Catskills under winter storm warning

Spring may be due to kick off officially in just a couple of days, but winter isn't done with the Catskills yet. Starting tonight, the National Weather Service warns, we're in for a round of snow and sleet, with accumulations of up to eight inches in parts of the Catskills.

A winter storm warning issued by NWS Albany calls for four to eight inches of heavy snow and up to a quarter-inch of ice in Greene and Ulster Counties, beginning early this evening and continuing into early Tuesday morning. The storm will start out as snow and change over to sleet and ice overnight, with rain in the more low-lying areas.   Read more