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Announcing the 2013 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest

Top: A photo by Amanda Lee Popp, which won an honorable mention in last year's Great Outdoor Experience Photo Contest.

The contest is now closed. Winners will be announced on May 28, 2013. Thanks!   Read more

Wanna buy a newspaper? Dow Jones Local Media Group may be for sale

Above: The Times Herald-Record's office in Middletown, Orange County. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The News Corp-owned media group that publishes the Times Herald-Record may soon be on the market, according to a story this week in the Wall Street Journal (also owned by News Corp):

News Corp is exploring the sale of its Dow Jones Local Media group, the collection of community newspapers mainly on the East Coast that was formerly known as the Ottaway community newspapers, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company has hired Waller Capital, the New York-based investment bank, to shop the papers, in hopes of selling them before the company spins off its publishing assets into a separate company this summer, according to the people.

The Local Media Group publishes the Times Herald-Record, along with seven other community newspapers.   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

Sandy victims get another extension on FEMA deadline

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that the deadline for registering for individual FEMA aid in 13 Sandy-affected counties will be extended, from March 29 to April 13, 2013.

Among the 13 counties eligible for individual FEMA aid for Sandy storm losses are two in the Catskills region: Sullivan and Ulster County. 

Not included on the list: Greene County, which was added to a list of counties receiving public aid from FEMA in December 2012, but was denied eligibility for individual aid.   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