New York state’s comptroller has found that Delaware County awarded millions of dollars to third-party contractors between January 1, 2013 and June 9, 2014 without soliciting competition, or, in some cases, requiring contracts at all.
“The County has awarded nine third-party contracts totaling $1.9 million without soliciting competition … and has paid three vendors $770,000 for various services without any written contracts with the vendors,” the comptroller’s staff wrote. “The lack of competition creates a risk that services will not be provided in the most prudent and economical manner.” Read more
Heroin addiction is sweeping through the Catskills, taking lives with it. (Here at the Watershed Post, we write more crime stories about heroin than about any other drug.)
In 2013, 89,269 people enrolled in heroin drug-treatment programs in New York state; in 2014, that number jumped to 118,000, according to data from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office. Heroin abuse is growing the fastest among the young, among ages 18 to 34. Politicians are worried; the governor launched a statewide campaign to battle heroin abuse last fall.
Locally, the toll is growing. A doctor at Catskill Regional Medical Center calls heroin a "public health crisis." Delaware County's undersheriff says that despite record heroin busts, "more people are using drugs, overdose deaths have accelerated and jails are crowded." Communityforums on the topic are being held around the region.
The Kingfisher Project, a collaborative storytelling and reporting initiative based at WJFF 90.5 FM in Jeffersonville, is digging deep into the heroin epidemic in the Catskills and beyond.
Above: New York State Broadband Program director David Salway, left, talks with Greg Henderson, middle, the owner of the Roxbury Motel, and Angela Liotta, right, the state's Broadband Outreach Director, on Wednesday, Feb. 25. Photo by Julia Reischel.
"All sounds are sharper in winter." That quote, attributed to famed 19th-century naturalist John Burroughs, is how arts writer Jennifer Kabat begins her hour-and-a-half-long guided audio walk through the winter landscape of the Catskills.
It's part of a project that Kabat, along with her collaborators, New Zealand artist Kate Newby, curator Tim Saltarelli and writer Anna Moschovakis, are calling the "January February March."
The project is part podcast, part art installation and part snowy winter ramble through two Delaware County towns: Middletown, near the center of the Catskill Park, and Hobart, the home of a large oxycodone factory and the "Hobart Book Village." Read more
Just when we desperately need a celebration to take the edge off the cabin fever and the late-winter blahs, here it is Valentine’s Day. What could be lovelier? In the Catskills, love is something that’s celebrated year round, but this weekend it’s the star of the show. Come out and create and play and feast and dance. All events are happening on Valentine's Day itself -- Saturday, Feb. 14 -- unless otherwise indicated.
Schools and offices are closed around the Catskills on Monday, Feb. 9 as the National Weather Service predicts 8 to 14 in inches of snow for the region. All five Catskills counties -- Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster -- are under Winter Storm Warnings throughout the day on Monday. The snowfall is forecast to be heavier in the eastern parts of the Catskills.
(What is is about snow and Mondays? This is the thirdMonday in a row we've had a big snowstorm in 2015.)
Above: A promotional video for the Catskill Park, produced by Catskill Mountainkeeper.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease, at least in Albany. And until recently, the Catskills were pretty quiet when it came to asking New York’s legislature and governor for money.
That changed in 2013, when a group of organizations working together as the Catskill Park Coalition began heading to the Capitol in person for a formal lobbying effort called Catskill Park Awareness Day. The idea is to knock on the doors of legislators and let them know, in person, that the Catskill Park exists, and that it needs support in the state’s budget.
“Our goal is to encourage Catskill stakeholders to become advocates for the resources needed to make the Catskill Park more accessible and to increase NYS's commitment to fund capital improvements and stewardship,” wrote Alan White, the executive director of the Catskill Center, one of the Coalition’s founding members, in an email to the Watershed Post. Read more
The National Weather Service is warning that temperatures ranging from negative 5 to negative 10 degrees will blanket parts of the Catskills tonight, Thursday, Feb. 5. A special weather advisory for Delaware and Sullivan counties states:
Widespread Readings Of 5 To 10 Below Are Expected overnight...With The Normally Colder Spots Even Lower.If You Will Be Outside This Evening And Overnight...Be Prepared To face The Cold. Dress In Layers And Leave As Little Exposed Skin As possible. Also...If You Will Be Driving Remember That Road Chemicals are Much Less Effective At These Temperatures So Any Snow Or Ice On roads Is Unlikely To Melt Despite Being Treated. Roads May Be slippery. Read more