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Downed wire cuts power to thousands in Greene County

About 13,250 Central Hudson customers in Greene and Albany counties were left in the dark late Monday night, after a downed wire cut power to a large area. 

The outage occurred around 9:30 pm on Monday night, and was restored by around 1 am Tuesday, according to Central Hudson spokesperson Denise VanBuren. 

The outages are still under investigation, VanBuren said, but the problem was traced to a phase wire that came down on Paul Saxe Road in Catskill, impacting several substations. 

As of 10:30 pm on Monday, according to Central Hudson's outage map, power was out in most of the households in Cairo, Durham, Greenville, New Baltimore and Tannersville, and parts of Athens, Catskill, Coxsackie and Hunter. 

Flash flood watch for eastern Catskills

Above: A post from the Albany office of the National Weather Service's Facebook page today. 

Parts of the Catskills could get "torrential" rainfall of as much to 1 to 2 inches per hour tonight, according to the National Weather Service.

The eastern Catskills -- Ulster, Schoharie and Greene counties -- are under a flash flood watch issued by the NWS's Albany office. The rains are expected to begin close to midnight tonight, Tuesday, August 12. The flood watch expires at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, August 13.   Read more

The Catskills are hot (again)

The cover of August's Hudson Valley Magazine.

Brace yourselves: The Catskills are having their biggest moment since the height of the Borscht Belt resorts in the '50s.

Hudson Valley Magazine has dedicated its entire August issue to the region, declaring that "The Catskills Are Back," and featuring the pool at Phoenicia's The Graham & Co. hotel on its cover.  

[T]he big story of the day is that the Catskills have seemingly overnight transformed from a sleepy, somewhat rundown region to a hip ’n happening hangout for all types of urban culture vultures and — dare we say it — hipsters.

What is this we hear? It seems that every season, at least one new boutique hotel throws open its doors — and more and more city folk flee upstate to the forest. Cultural offerings abound, gastropubs serve up farm-to-table fare, you can even stay in a luxury yurt. Yes, glamping has come to the Catskills.  Read more

Tannersville bets big on arts; launches third season of Jazz Factory

Above: Jazz pianist Marcus Roberts at the 2013 Catskill Jazz Factory. Photo courtesy of the 23Arts initiative.

Piers Playfair and his wife Lucy believe that the arts are the key to economic development in the Catskills.

“It’s important we have a strong artistic spine,” Playfair said.

The couple decided to bring renowned jazz musicians to the Catskills two years ago, when they founded the Catskill Jazz Factory -- a series of performances, workshops, and master classes -- in the Greene County hamlet of Tannersville.

The Jazz Factory, which kicks off its 2014 season tomorrow night, was such a success that the Playfairs are making it the highlight of new organization that plans to run year-round arts programming in and around Tannersville.

The new initiative, which launched this summer, is called the 23Arts Initiative (23Ai for short), and is named after Route 23A, which runs through Tannersville.  Read more

This Weekend: Trail maintenance workshop, forest hike and farm tour

Above: The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference's Willowemoc Trail Crew work around Frick Pond in June 2014. Photo via the NYNJC's Facebook page.

It's high season for the Catskills outdoors, and this Saturday there are two hiking events that should get your boots on the trail. 

Learn how to lead a team of volunteers on a trail maintainance hike during a hands-on workshop on Saturday at the Mountain Top Historical Society in Haines Falls in Greene County. From the NYNYC's press release:

The workshop will be led by experienced volunteer trail leaders of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. This free, one-day workshop is a great opportunity to sharpen your leadership skills and learn how to manage volunteers. It is open to anyone interested in learning more about how to lead volunteers on volunteer stewardship activities in the Catskill Park.  Read more

Cyclist heading to Tour of the Catskills ends up in high-speed car chase instead

See video

Above: Tour of the Catskills racers riding the grueling Devil's Kitchen climb in 2010. 

Cyclists from around the world hit the roads in Greene County over the weekend for the Tour of the Catskills, three days of racing that feature some of the steepest mileage in the northeast.

Not all the contestants made it to the race, however. Herb Jiminez, a cyclist from Montclair, New Jersey, missed the Tour of the Catskills entirely when his car was stolen on Friday, the morning he was setting out for Tannersville.

But Jiminez got his endorphin fix anyway when he spotted the car thieves later that day while driving a newly-acquired rental car, according to Baristanet:

Jimenez reacted immediately, making a crazy U-Turn, then calling 911, all while following his stolen car.

“I stayed close to them for about 10 blocks, making turns into different streets in Montclair while giving the police directions as to where they were turning and heading,” says Jimenez[.]  Read more

The Catskills with a dog in tow

Writer Heather Rolland with a few four-legged hiking companions. Photo by Candid Canine Photography.

Outdoor recreation opportunities abound in the Catskills, running the gamut from strolling on rail trails to expert-only wilderness bushwhacks. Whatever your adventure level — or your dog’s — there’s plenty to do with a pup in tow here in the Catskills.

What to do

HIKE. Most dogs love to hike, and the many trails that wend through Catskills forests are wonderful places for you to enjoy nature: balsam firs, bald eagles, tumbling cascades and vistas that have inspired generations. Be sure to match your outing to your buddy’s current level of fitness.

Catskill Park regulations do not require dogs to be leashed at all times. Voice control is acceptable in many areas; check the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s website (dec.ny.gov) for details. Some great trails to try are Overlook Mountain (watch out for timber rattlesnakes), Slide Mountain, Giant Ledge and Rochester Hollow.  Read more

Transition Catskills proposes 'Catskills dollars,' tool libraries, and farmers' markets

Above: A design for a local Catskills currency created by members of Transition Catskills.

About two dozen people attended the first public forum of Transition Catskills, a group dedicated to making the Catskills more economically resilient, on Wednesday night at the Open Eye Theater in Margaretville.

“This was our first effort to organize a conversation,” said Jeff Tomasi, a former partner at Goldman Sachs who helped found the group.

There will be another film screening and public forum for the Transition Catskills movement on Saturday, July 26, at 4 p.m. at the Roxbury Arts Center in Roxbury.

Tomasi, who owns a second home in the Delaware County town of Middletown, also lives in London, where he first got word of Transition, an initiative that began in England around 2006 and addressed issues of oil dependence and economic instability.

“I’m not a leader, I’m a facilitator,” Tomasi told the group. “I’m not here to tell people how to live. Just here to start the dialogue.”  Read more

Guide me a river: The art of Catskills wilderness guiding

Longtime Catskills wilderness guide Charles “Sonny” Somelofski has earned a few more gray hairs since this photo was taken — and caught countless more fish. Photo courtesy of Catskill Outdoor Adventures (catskilloutdooradventures.com).

Charles “Sonny” Somelofski of Catskill Outdoor Adventures in Margaretville (catskilloutdooradventures.com), remembers when the licensing process to become an outdoor guide in New York state was a simple paper questionnaire with a $2 fee that asked whether he could swim, handle a boat, and read a map and compass.

“That was it, back then,” Somelofski says. “Bang! I was able to take people out and do it all.”

Today, being a state-licensed outdoor guide requires a bit more: taxable income disclosure forms, a physician’s statement, and certifications in first aid, CPR, and water safety. Those are the just the basics. Guides can be licensed in a number of different categories, ranging from camping and fishing to whitewater rafting and ice climbing, each with different licensing requirements.

The heart of guiding, however, has remained the same: proving to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that you can reliably take paying customers out into the great outdoors and bring them back again in one piece.  Read more

Here comes the rain again...and wind, too

Look out, Catskills: Yet another round of thunderstorms is taking aim at the region, with the possibility of high winds, damaging hail and even the chance of a tornado. 

As of late Tuesday afternoon, a line of storms is organizing in western New York and Pennsylvania, and moving steadily eastward across the region. A severe thunderstorm watch is currently in effect across Central New York, including Delaware County in the Catskills region, until 8 p.m.

Storm trackers at the National Weather Service caution that there is a slight chance the storms could spawn a tornado or two as they swirl across Central New York. 

The eastern Catskills are not yet under severe weather watch, but thunderstorms are expected this afternoon and evening. Locals should keep an eye on the weather as the storms move eastward.   Read more