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Bonacic issues petition to repeal new state gun control law

Above: A screenshot from state senator John Bonacic's website, urging constituents in the 42nd District to sign a petition to repeal New York State's new gun control law.

With the ink hardly dry on New York State's new gun control law, New York state senator John Bonacic has already begun a petition drive to get the law repealed. Bonacic was one of 18 Republican state senators to vote against the bill.

Bonacic's district, the 42nd, includes all of Sullivan County as well as parts of Delaware, Ulster and Orange Counties.

On January 16, the day after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed New York State's gun control legislation into law, Bonacic urged his constituents to sign a petition in support of repealing the law:  Read more

Covidien employee charged with drug trafficking

A Davenport man who was employed at the Covidien pharmaceutical plant in Hobart has been arrested on felony drug trafficking charges, after a lengthy investigation linked him to two other recent arrests involving the trafficking of oxycodone powder diverted from pharmaceutical manufacture.

Jason Wilsey, 33, turned himself in at the Delaware County courthouse on Tuesday morning, accompanied by his attorney. Wilsey is charged with first-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, a class A-I felony that carries a sentence of 8 to 20 years for first-time offenders.  Read more

Watch out for frostbite: Sub-zero wind chills in the forecast tonight

If you're going out tonight, the National Weather Service advises you to bundle up. Delaware and Sullivan Counties are under a wind chill advisory from midnight Tuesday through mid-morning Wednesday. Temperatures are expected to drop to between zero and five degrees, with a wind chill factor of around 15 below zero, thanks to gusting winds:

The Wind Chill Is Expected To Be Cold Enough To Cause Frostbite In About 30 Minutes Or Less...And Could Lead To Hypothermia If Precautions Are Not Taken. Those Planning To Venture Outdoors Should Use Common Sense And Dress Warmly...Making Sure That All Exposed Skin Is Covered.

A special weather statement issued by the NWS in Albany, which covers Ulster, Greene and Schoharie Counties, says we can expect frigid temperatures through the end of the week:  Read more

Easy pickings

Why spend all day drilling holes in dead trees in search of hidden larvae, when you can stop in at the friendly neighborhood all-you-can-eat suet buffet? Watershed Post reader Barbara Small got this fantastic closeup of a woodpecker near her house in Margaretville last week.

The Catskill Mountains are home to several different species of woodpecker, including that jaunty, noisy Woody Woodpecker-looking species, the pileated woodpecker.

The one in this photo looks to us like a male hairy woodpecker, Picoides villosus -- a dead ringer for the very similar downy woodpecker, except for its larger bill. The Bedford Audubon Society has some tips on telling the two look-alike species apart:

The Downy’s bill is always shorter then the length of its head. When foraging on a tree branch, the Downy seems to place its head on a 45-degree angle to the branch. Another good field mark used in order to tell the two apart is the presence of black barring on the outer white tail feathers of the Downy.  Read more

Gun control bill signed into New York State law

After a five-hour debate, the Democratic-led New York State Assembly passed a new gun control bill Tuesday afternoon that includes stricter definitions of banned "assault weapons" and new reporting requirements for mental health professionals. In passing the bill, the Assembly joined the Republican-led Senate, which passed the bill late Monday night without debate.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo acted immediately to sign the bill, which has been dubbed the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, and is being discussed widely on Twitter under the hashtag #nysafe.

Since its hasty passage in the Senate on Monday -- after closed-door negotiations between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Senate leaders -- New York State's new gun law has spurred immediate and passionate reactions from New Yorkers of all stripes.  Read more

Wintry weather on the way

It's hot chocolate weather out there, folks. Photo by Flickr user snorlax's cafe; published under Creative Commons license.

After last weekend's downright unseasonable warm spell, it's almost a relief to see the snow clouds rolling back in. Tonight, the National Weather Service is expecting a few inches of snow across the region, possibly with some sleet mixed in.

Most of the Catskills is under a Winter Weather Advisory. In an alert issued for Delaware and Sullivan Counties, the NWS predicts that snow is expected to begin late on Tuesday night, moving northward from the Poconos in Pennsylvania, and spread into the western Catskills by midnight. The heaviest snow will fall Wednesday morning, with accumulations of two to five inches by mid-day Wednesday.  Read more

Gun control bill passes New York Senate, heads for Assembly

A new package of gun laws that includes a stricter definition of banned "assault weapons" and new provisions on gun ownership and mental illness is making its way through the New York State Legislature. Late on Monday night, the Republican-controlled state Senate voted 43-18 to pass S.2230, which will now head for the Democratic-controlled Assembly and likely passage into law.

The New York Times reports that the gun bill was the result of a deal reached under pressure by Gov. Andrew Cuomo:

Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, had pressed lawmakers to move quickly in response to Newtown, saying, “the people of this state are crying out for help.” And the Legislature proceeded with unusual haste: Monday was the first full day of this year’s legislative session.

“We don’t need another tragedy to point out the problems in the system,” Mr. Cuomo said at a news conference.  Read more

Loss of dairy farms costs region $100 million a year, says local expert

Photo published under Creative Commons license.

For decades, small dairy farms have been disappearing from the rural upstate New York landscape, as rising costs outpace milk prices and farmers struggle to stay in business.

Last week, in a column published in the Chenango Evening Sun, a local dairy expert claimed that the dairy drain is costing the Chenango, Otsego and Delaware County region over $100 million a year in lost economic impact.

In the article, Kenneth Smith, executive director of the Chenango County Cornell Cooperative Extension, takes a look at recent USDA data on milk production, and concludes that the loss of hundreds of dairy farms from the region since 1999 has taken a grave toll on the local economy:  Read more

Flu emergency declared in New York State

Photo of flu shot being administered by Indiana Public Radio. Published under Creative Commons license.

With flu cases skyrocketing across the state and the nation, Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared an official public health emergency for the state of New York. The announcement was made on Saturday.

Along with the declaration, Cuomo signed an executive order allowing pharmacists to give flu vaccine to children between six months and 18 years old, for 30 days after the order. Under normal circumstances, the law does not allow pharmacists to vaccinate children.  Read more

Local filmmaker's "How To Survive A Plague" gets Oscar nomination

Image from "How To Survive A Plague" Facebook page.

"How To Survive A Plague," the first film by documentary filmmaker David France, was announced Thursday as an Oscar nominee, making the cut with four other documentary films vying for Best Documentary Feature in the upcoming Academy Awards. The film, which traces the history of AIDS activism and the successful fight by activists to jump-start the process of pharmaceutical research and develop new life-saving drugs, has already racked up many awards on its path to the red carpet, including a "Best Documentary" win at the high-profile Gotham Independent Film Awards in November.  Read more