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Margaretville's Cheese Barrel, gutted by Irene, re-vamps and re-opens

Above: A small customer visits the Cheese Barrel on its first day in its renovated old location, Saturday May 19. Photo by Julia Reischel.

The Cheese Barrel, a cafe and gourmet grocer on Main Street Margaretville, was inundated by Tropical Storm Irene's floodwaters on August 28, 2011. (Full disclosure: The Cheese Barrel is a Watershed Post advertiser.)

Sue Ihlo, the store's owner, moved her cafe across the street and re-opened for business last fall. On Saturday, the Cheese Barrel moved back across the street to its old location, which has been completely renovated with hardwood floors and a new layout. We visited that day to see the new space and took these photos.

Below: A gallery of photos of the Cheese Barrel's renovated space on Main Street.

This Memorial Day, bike the Catskills

Above: Cycling on some Catskills roads. Photo via the Catskill Mountain Cycling Club Facebook page.

Cyclists who ride the Catskills know this is a perfect place to get on the bike for a quick 20-miler. And what better time to do it than this Memorial Day weekend, when two of our local cycling clubs are offering planned rides for cycling enthusiasts?

'Tour de Pepacton'

Billy Allison, of the Catskill Mountain Cycling Club, is the organizing brains behind this year’s Tour de Pepacton, a ride to benefit Catskill Area Hospice & Palliative Care, on Sunday, May 27.  Read more

East Branch becoming a boater's paradise

Above: The Pepacton Reservoir in August 2011, before it opened for public recreational paddling. Photo by S58y, via the Watershed Post Flickr pool.

Aaron Bennett is the consultant to the Enhanced Recreational Access Project for the upper East Branch of the Delaware. He's sharing his considerable waterway expertise with us on this story.

A few friends of mine have kayaked twenty-plus miles down the East Branch of the Delaware River from its source near Grand Gorge to Margaretville. It's no small task: the upper East Branch puts the phrase “navigable waterway” to the test.  Read more

School elections today

A reminder: New Yorkers go to the polls today to vote for school budgets and board members. To find your local polling place, check your school district's website.

Problems at the polls? Let us know at editor@watershedpost.com.

Thousands of rural post offices to reduce hours under new USPS plan

Above: A Google map of New York State post offices that will have reduced hours under the new plan. Click on a red dot to get information about a post office's current hours and their planned reduced daily hours. Use the controls on the left to zoom in or out, or click and drag the map with your mouse. For a larger view, click here. Data from the United States Postal Service.   Read more

From the Publisher: Memorial Day. It's coming.

In the Catskills this year, Memorial Day is going to be epic.

For the first time in history, four of the six west-of-Hudson New York City reservoirs will be open to boating and paddling for the masses. A new bike event will bring the spirit of the Tour de France to the Pepacton. There will be festivals, parades, street fairs, and general partying all over the region.

And we're going to keep track of it all in our soon-to-be-published Catskills Memorial Day Guide.

Advertise in the Memorial Day guide by May 15. To advertise, check out our rate sheet and get in touch with me at sales@watershedpost.com or at 845-481-0155.

To get your event listed in the guide for free, click here to enter your event into our calendar system. (You need to register for an account with us first.)

Our goal is to list every single parade, barbecue, and get-together in the Catskills. Help us make it happen.

  Read more

The week in ATV news: Two bad accidents and a theft

Last week saw a couple of catastrophic ATV accidents in the Catskills.

On Thursday, May 3, two local residents were fatally injured while riding an ATV in Andes: 32-year-old John W. Morris and 45-year-old Julie M. Manon. The Daily Star reports:

Manon died Friday at Albany Medical Center from injuries sustained in the crash, while Morris died Thursday night at Margaretville Hospital.

The Daily Star has obituaries for both Manon and Morris in today's paper.  Read more

New Shaolin temple in Fleischmanns opens its doors this Saturday

Above: A recent photo from the ongoing construction of the new USA Shaolin Temple, on Breezy Hill Road in Fleischmanns. Photo from USA Shaolin Temple's Facebook page.

The Catskill Mountains are famously a magnet for people who want to create their own reality. But of all the quixotic dreams that have taken root in our craggy slopes and stony soil, none may be as ambitious as the plans of the USA Shaolin Temple, an international group of kung-fu-fighting Buddhists under the tutelage of the charismatic Shi Yan Ming. (The Shifu, or "master," is known for shouting cheery affirmations like "Merry Christmas! More Chi!" while delivering a punch that could crumple the hood of a Volkswagen.)  Read more

Waitin' for a supermoon

Above: A comparison of last year's "supermoon," on March 19, 2011, with a more average full moon from December 20, 2010. File from Wikimedia Commons.

Cross your fingers for clear skies this Saturday night, when a phenomenon called a "supermoon" should make for some stunning skywatching.

This Saturday evening, the moon turns full at 11:35pm. At midnight, the moon will reach its perigee -- the point at which it is closest to the Earth during its regular orbit of the planet, which takes 29.5 days. Full moon at perigee happens about once every 14 months.

Astronomer Joe Rao writes in the Christian Science Monitor that the best time to see Saturday's supermoon will be right around moonrise (which, here in upstate New York, should be just before 7pm):  Read more

New Kingston bids farewell to Robert Van Benschoten

Above: Department of Environmental Conservation officers provide an honor guard at the April 28 memorial service for Robert Van Benschoten, a longtime employee of the agency and its former director of law enforcement. The service was held at the New Kingston Presbyterian Church, near the Van Benschoten family farm where he was born.

Van Benschoten died on April 11 at the Margaretville Hospital, at the age of 90.

New Kingston resident and Presbyterian lay preacher Victor Lipko writes to the Watershed Post that Van Benschoten's death was felt deeply by the community:

Bob had a long history of community service, both as a conservation officer, and also when he retired as the President of the Margaretville Hospital board. His lifelong motto was that he "liked people", and made many friends throughout the valley.

He will be deeply missed.

An obituary for Van Benschoten ran in the Catskill Mountain News and the Oneonta Daily Star.

Photo by Lissa Harris.