Upcoming Events in Middletown

Buy Local: The Watershed Post's guide to a Main Street holiday

Above: Santa pays a pre-Christmas visit to the annual Woodstock Holiday Open House in December 2010. Photo by Julia Reischel.

Shopping small and local for the holidays will get you a whole lot more than a warm fuzzy glow of political rectitude. It’ll get you truly one-of-a-kind gifts for your loved ones, as opposed to the 50,000-of-a-kind items being hawked at the mall or your local big box. It’ll get you feeling appreciated by the local business owner behind the register. And best of all, it’ll get you an outrageously good time spent prowling the decorated downtowns and beauteous bazaars of the Catskills region.

A great many churches, PTAs, animal welfare folks and assorted other good eggs will be hosting craft fairs, and a wise shopper will take heed. The level of craftiness around the entire region being what it is, your odds of finding the Perfect Something for that beloved but impossible-to-buy-for Someone are very good indeed.

There is much, much more happening on local Main Streets in December than any one article could hope to encompass. What follows is our humble attempt at a guide to some of the region's sparkliest holiday highlights.  Read more

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Ski season in the Catskills kicks off this weekend

Above: Morning light shows off the early-winter snow on the flanks of Hunter Mountain today. From Hunter's Facebook page.

The Catskills high peaks got a pretty dusting of snow this week, and local ski resorts are poised to take advantage of it. The Catskills Big Three -- Hunter, Windham and Belleayre -- are all making snow and getting ready for Opening Day.

Hunter declared this morning that they'll open on Saturday:

Join us on OPENING DAY this SATURDAY for TOP TO BOTTOM skiing and riding!! Advanced terrain only, lift ticket pricing will be adjusted accordingly.

Neither Belleayre nor Windham has declared an opening day yet,* but both are ready to pounce when conditions are right. Belleayre posted a promising-looking picture of snow falling on the mountain just as dawn was breaking today:  Read more

Thirty hours of Catskills adventure racing, from the inside

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Above: The 2012 USARA Adventure Race National Championship from the point of view of its second-place winners, Term Tecnu. Video by Aaron Johnson.

Most people you find biking uphill through sleet on a rainy October weekend in the Catskills are tough. The folks who do it as part of a 30-hour, 100-mile adventure race course are hardcore. 

On October 12 and 13, the 2012 USARA Adventure Race National Championship was held in the Catskills, starting with a canoe paddle on the Pepacton Reservoir in Delaware County and ending a day later when exhausted racers crossed the finish line at the Hudson Valley Resort in Kerhonkson, Ulster County on bicycles. (We had some great photos of the race start back in October.)

In between, the teams of racers camped out in freezing weather, bushwacked through brush to find hidden caches, rappelled down a waterfall, and biked and ran for miles. Part marathon, part obstacle course, part scavenger hunt, the race tries you to the limit.  Read more

Fleischmanns trustee Fred Woller resigns

In a recent newsletter sent to Fleischmanns residents, village mayor Todd Pascarella announced the recent resignation of trustee Fred Woller. At the village's November board meeting, Woller's resignation was accepted, and Pascarella has appointed David Yates to fill the position until a special election can be held in March.

Pascarella writes:

I would like to personally wish Fred Woller well and thank him for his years of service on the Village Board. I would also like to thank David Yates for stepping up to graciously offer his public service to the Village at this time. David and his wife Young Song have owned a home in the Village for four years and after having the first floor of their house on Main Street destroyed by the Great Flood of 2011 they rebuilt it and David decided to call Fleischmanns Home. David has worked in the digital design profession and has volunteered his talents in helping to keep Fleischmanns updated on social media.  Read more

Margaretville Interfaith Council votes to admit Holy Innocents

Last week, a public outcry erupted in a little Delaware County town over whether or not the Margaretville Interfaith Council would admit Holy Innocents, an independent Catholic church in Halcottsville, as a member. This week, the Council has quietly put the issue to rest, by voting unanimously on Monday to admit the church.

"All the faith groups were represented, and the vote was unanimous," said Council president Adele Siegel, who represents the B'Nai Israel synagogue in Fleischmanns.

The vote came a day after an interfaith Thanksgiving service held at the Methodist church in Margaretville, in which Holy Innocents participated.

Becker wins re-election by razor-thin margin in Delaware County judge race

Incumbent Delaware County judge Carl Becker, a Republican, has eked out a victory against Democratic challenger Gary Rosa in a race that was too close to call without counting absentee ballots.

On Thursday afternoon, the county Board of Elections finished its count of all absentee ballots they have received so far. The unofficial tally, according to Democratic commissioner Judy Garrison, currently stands at 9,139 votes for Becker and 8,949 for Rosa -- a difference of only 190 votes.

Because of an excecutive order issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office to ensure Sandy-affected New Yorkers could vote, the Board of Elections must keep accepting valid absentee ballots until Monday.

"Until it's certified, absentee ballots can still come in," said Garrison.

But at this late date, it is vanishingly unlikely that enough absentee ballots could come in to shift the vote in Rosa's direction.  Read more

Rosa: "The rumors of my victory are greatly exaggerated"

The race for Delaware County judge between Republican incumbent Carl Becker and Democratic challenger Gary Rosa is still too close to call, despite rumors that have been circling that Rosa is the winner after a count of absentee ballots.

On election night, Becker led the returns with 8,335 votes to Rosa's 8,160. The tally was too close to declare a victor without counting absentee ballots. The Delaware County Board of Elections has been counting absentee ballots all week, and will not officially declare a winner until Monday, November 19, election officials said yesterday.  Read more

A church's struggle for interfaith inclusion goes viral

Above: The Holy Innocents Church in Halcottsville. Photo courtesy of Bishop Francisco Betancourt.

A public outcry has erupted in a tight-knit Catskills community over a local interfaith council's reluctance to allow an independent Catholic church to join as a member. The dispute has prompted the council's pro bono lawyer to resign in protest, and stirred up local tensions about same-sex marriage and religion.

Bishop Francisco Betancourt, a founding pastor of the independent Catholic Holy Innocents church in Halcottsville, said that his church has been trying to join the Margaretville Interfaith Council for 12 years, ever since the church was established. Throughout that time, Betancourt said, his efforts have been met with a resounding silence -- a response that was never quite clear enough to be 'no,' but never a welcoming 'yes.'

The reason his church has not been welcomed, Betancourt says, is Holy Innocents' willingness to perform same-sex marriage, an issue that Interfaith Council leaders acknowledge is deeply controversial among their members.  Read more

Local first responders head downstate to pitch in on Sandy recovery

Photo: An upstate DEP crew works to pump out Manhattan's Battery Underpass, which was submerged under 12 feet of Sandy floodwaters at the height of the storm surge. Photo dated Nov. 1, courtesy of NYC DEP.

Since Sandy made landfall, local firefighters, police, New York City Department of Environmental Protection staff from the upstate watershed area, and other professionals from around the Catskills region have been heading south to help New York City and Long Island recover from Hurricane Sandy. For local first responders who were overwhelmed by the local disaster Irene left behind last year, it's something of a role reversal.

According to an article in the Delaware County Times on October 30, a crew of first responders from Delaware County went to Nassau County on Long Island. Responding fire departments included Stamford, Sidney, and Delhi, with Sidney and Stamford each taking two fire engines and two utility trucks.  Read more

The giver's guide to responsible Hurricane Sandy relief: Give money, not stuff

Above: A pile of surplus donated clothing abandoned in a parking lot in Staten Island one week after Hurricane Sandy. Source: NY1's November 5 report, "Staten Island Donation Centers Taking In More Than They Can Give Out."

In the wake of a disaster like Hurricane Sandy, people want to give. But the giving impulse can cause just as much trouble as the disaster itself.

Here in the Catskills, we learned that firsthand in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene last year.

"We ended up with tractor-trailer loads of clothes," said Charles B. Gockel, the executive director of Huntersfield Christian Training Center, which became ground zero for relief and recovery operations for the hard-hit town of Prattsville after Irene.

"People give things that might have been in their closet for four years, or that is from 1948," he said.  Read more