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Give us your best shot: The 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest

Above: “Two Boys and a Dog in East Meredith” by Cindy Dunne, the second-place winner of last year's Catskills Outdoor Guide photo contest.

Update: The contest is now closed. Winners will be announced on May 27, when the 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide hits the streets. Thanks for all the great shots. To see all the entries this year, click here. -- Julia Reischel

As part of our 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide, we're hosting a 2014 edition of our "Catskills Outdoor Experience" photo contest, once again sponsored by the Peekamoose Restaurant & Tap Room in Big Indian.  Read more

Go fish: Opening day for trout in the Catskills

Above: Delaware River July 2013, by Jody Bryant, an entry in our Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest. (The deadline to enter is Thursday, April 3.)  

Today is the first day of fishing trout fishing season in New York State, one of the first true signs of a Catskills spring. On cue, the Times Herald-Record recorded anglers taking their first casts of the season at Junction Pool in Roscoe this morning.

Looking to get your fishing permit? Head to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's new online license website, where you can buy and print your license from your computer.   Read more

Tried and true: Catskills restaurants with staying power

Above: The Java Lounge, an upstairs café at Joshua's, overlooks Tinker Street in Woodsock. Photo courtsey of Joshua's.  

It’s an exciting time for the Catskills restaurant scene. In the past few years, the area has launched many new restaurants. (For a smattering, see our related story in the Catskills Food Guide.)

But the flip side is that restaurants tend to come and go, especially in the far-flung rural corners of the region. Nothing puts the kibosh on an evening out as surely as showing up at that cute little bistro you’ve heard so much about only to find that it’s closed, or has changed its hours, or the owners decided to take off for Palm Beach until spring.

Here, then, are a few well-loved mainstays of the local dining scene. If you’re in search of reliable hours, battle-tested entrees and service that runs like a well-oiled machine, look no further.  Read more

Sleet and ice accumulating across the western Catskills

Roads in the higher elevations of the Catskills are dangerously slick tonight, especially in the western Catskills counties of Delaware and Sullivan, where the National Weather Service's Binghamton office has issued a special weather bulletin about bands of snow and sleet moving through the area

Citizen reports coming into the NWS are indicating many accidents on the roads. Earlier this evening, Delaware County Fire Wire and Emergency News reported that first responders were on the scene at Exit 87 off Route 17 in Hancock, where a car went over the bank.   Read more

Flood watches in effect across the Catskills

A mix of heavy rains in the forecast, late-spring snow still clinging to mountain slopes, and still-frozen ground could be a recipe for flash flooding in the Catskills region Saturday night through Monday, forecasters warn. 

Heavy rain is expected to move into the region late Saturday, and continue through Sunday. Hudson Valley Weather is predicting two to three inches of rain across the Catskills and Hudson Valley  Read more

Power outages strike in Delaware County

More than 3,100 households in Delaware County were without power this morning, across an area that included most of NYSEG's customers in the towns of Stamford, Kortright and Harpersfield. 

As of around 10:45 a.m., a NYSEG power outage map was reporting that 2,452 of the utility's Delaware County customers were without power, including all 706 customers in the village of Stamford, all but a handful of houses in the village of Hobart, and over 90 percent of customers in the towns of Stamford and Harpersfield. By the time of this post, power had already been restored to many households, leaving 1,033 still without power. 

The Stamford Fire Department was without power this morning, but they are back online now, Delaware County Emergency Services director Steve Hood told the Watershed Post. 

A NYSEG spokesperson could not be reached for comment. Hood said he did not know what had caused the power outages.  Read more

Homeowners hit by flooding face April 11 deadline for NY Rising help

A year after it was begun, a New York State program to help homeowners pay for damage inflicted by Irene, Lee and Sandy is coming to a close. The NY Rising Housing Recovery Program, which funds repair, mortgage assistance, flood mitigation and buyouts of damaged homes, has declared a deadline of April 11, 2014 for homeowners to apply for assistance.

The program has already paid out over $280 million to 6,388 homeowners around the state whose homes were damaged, according to a press release announcing the deadline.

Catskills residents interested in applying to the program are encouraged to attend one of NY Rising's upcoming outreach events, scheduled in several locations around the region for this Saturday, March 29. The events will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the following locations:   Read more

Maple Weekend isn't over yet

Above: The entries in the "traditional" category of the Fleischmanns First Maple Festival's annual Maple Bake-Off, which was held last Saturday. Photo by Michelle Sidrane. 

The great thing about Maple Weekend is that it's actually two weekends.

Yes, you've got another chance this Saturday and Sunday to taste the first syrup of the 2014 maple season at sap houses and sugar bushes around the Catskills region. Try it fresh out of the evaporator, poured over pancakes, or baked into cookies, cakes, and doughnuts.

Pick up a free copy of the Catskills Food Guide while you're at it: our partners at Shaver-Hill Farm, Roxbury Mountain Maple, and the Frost Valley YMCA all have copies onhand to browse during the maple festivities.  Read more

Historic Rexmere hotel burns

See video

Top: Fire engulfs the historic Rexmere Hotel around 11 a.m. on March 25, 2014. Photo by Chris Becker. To see a slideshow of the fire as it destroyed the building in about 20 minutes, see the bottom of this story.  

Above: Video of the Rexmere collapsing in flames. Shot by Joshua Sparkes and shared with the Watershed Post. 

The Frank W. Cyr Center, formerly the Rexmere Hotel, burned to the ground Tuesday on West Main Street in the village of Stamford.

According to eyewitnesses at the scene, the fast-moving fire began shortly before 11 a.m. By around 11:20 a.m., the historic seven-story building had collapsed.

Below: Before and after: Two photos of the Rexmere taken about an hour apart on March 25, 2014. The first, taken by Chris Becker, was shot around 11 a.m., shortly after the fire started. Bottom, the same side of the building after it collapsed, taken at noon by Lissa Harris. 

The Stamford Fire Department arrived on the scene minutes after the building's fire alarm went off, according to Chris Becker, who lives around the corner from the Cyr Center on Lake Street, and serves on the board of the nonprofit that owns the building, the Catskill Mountains Educational Center (CMEC). But despite the quick response time, firefighters were unable to prevent the destruction of the building.

"Within 20 minutes, the fire was across the whole front," Becker said.

By around noon, hundreds of firefighters from many local fire companies had arrived and were battling the blaze amid thick plumes of smoke.

Above: Firefighters battle the blaze at the collapsed remains of the Frank W. Cyr Center/Rexmere Hotel midday on Tuesday, March 25. Video by Lissa Harris.

West Main Street was closed to traffic, and the power to the neighborhood was shut down while firefighters fought the flames. Several residents of the street were evacuated shortly after noon because of the thick smoke. One was Patty Beck, another CMEC board member who lives a couple of houses down from the Cyr Center.

"They're worried about the chemicals," said Beck, taking a minute to speak to a reporter from behind the wheel of her car, as she was heading for a friend's house to wait out the aftermath of the fire. Beck was unsure when she would be allowed back in her house.

The blaze engulfed the building with ferocious speed, Beck said. "So fast. It was just like paper."

  Read more

Man jumps to safety from blaze in Stamford

A fast-moving fire destroyed a house on River Street in the village of Stamford last night, forcing a man, Nick Mattice, to jump to safety from the second floor of the structure before first responders arrived at the scene.

No injuries were reported, but the two-story wood frame residence is a total loss, according to Don Van Etten, the first assistant fire chief of the Stamford Fire Department.

The fire began around 7:50 p.m. on March 18, 2014 and blazed for hours before being extinguished by the combined efforts of four fire departments.

A family of four lived in the house, according to Van Etten, who asked that they not be identified. The family was later identified as Rose and Charles Mattice and their children, Nick and Sarah, by the Mountain Eagle. They are currently being helped by the Red Cross.  Read more