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K-9 Osman "Ozzie" Steele makes his first arrest

Above: Deputy John Demeo and K-9 Osman "Ozzie" Steele, the Delaware County Sheriff's Office's newest drug law enforcement team. Ozzie is the namesake of a famous Catskills officer of the law: Undersheriff Osman Steele, who was the only casualty of the Anti-Rent War in Andes, shot by protesting tenant farmers on August 7, 1845. Photo courtesy of the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.

Just one day out of the academy, Delaware County's newest "officer" was already making arrests.

Osman "Ozzie" Steele, a young German shepherd who recently joined the Delaware County Sheriff's Office, graduated from K-9 Narcotics Detection School on Friday, September 6, along with his human crimefighting partner John Demeo. Just over 24 hours later, in the wee hours of Sunday morning, Ozzie and Demeo made their first arrest: A drug bust in the village of Walton.   Read more

Storm tracker: Brace for thunderstorms, Catskills

A round of intense thunderstorms is headed east across upstate New York this afternoon. We're keeping track of fast-moving Catskills weather updates in the Storify post below. As we add new updates, the latest news will automatically appear at the bottom of the post.

Got a news tip or photo for us? Send it to [email protected] 

Thunderstorms cause power outages in Delaware County

In the unlikely event that you've lost power and are still able to read this post, keep your fridge door shut, say officials at Delaware County Public Health Services, who sent out a press release this morning warning that food can spoil quickly when the power goes out. Food in a powered-off refrigerator will stay cold for about four to six hours if the door isn't opened, health officials say. Photo by Flickr user Dewayne Neeley; published under Creative Commons license.

Power outages from Wednesday night thunderstorms lingered into Thursday morning in Delaware County, forcing a couple of school delays and leaving large areas without power in several towns.

Downsville Central School and Delaware Academy in Delhi were both running on two-hour delays Thursday morning because of the outages. 

  Read more

Local primaries held Tuesday

Some local voters registered with a political party will have a chance to weigh in at the polls on Tuesday, September 10. The local races underway in the region may not be as headline-grabbing as others in the state -- New York City mayoral race, anyone? -- but there are some important races underway in Catskills towns and legislative districts. 

A few of the jucier races underway this week: A heated battle is underway in the Prattsville GOP, with two slates of candidates dueling for seats on the county Republican Committee. Ulster County legislative chair Terry Bernardo, a Republican from Accord, is fighting a challenge from newcomer John Dawson of Kerhonkson. And a three-way race is afoot for the Democratic nod for town supervisor in Woodstock, with incumbent Jeremy Wilber facing challengers Terrie Rosenblum and Lorin Rose.

Once again, Schoharie County -- which had no primary elections in 2011 -- is holding no primaries this year. (Note to Schoharie County's aspiring local politicians: Might want to start thinking about 2015.)  Read more

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 [email protected]

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. 

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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