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Freeze warning in effect for the western Catskills

Delaware County growers, watch out for hard frost tonight. The National Weather Service warns that temperatures will drop sharply across a large swath of south-central New York around 3am:

Temperatures...In The Upper 20S To Low 30S. * Impacts...Any Sensitive Vegetation...Well Ahead Of Normal Growing Pace Due To Warm Weather In March...Will Be Vulnerable To Below Freezing Temperatures Early Tomorrow Morning.

Meanwhile, the webcam overlooking Delhi's Main Street shows blue skies and 67 degrees. You know what they say about the Catskills: If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes.

Middletown gets a website

As promised in last week's town meeting, the Delaware County town of Middletown launched an official town website this week, with help from a grant from the O'Connor Foundation.

The site is still something of a work in progress -- the official launch date is Wednesday, April 18 -- but it's live now at middletowndelawarecountyny.org, and it looks pretty good. Designer Lisa Tait of Silvertop Graphics, who ran a town information site in the aftermath of last year's floods, has included a section for emergency information to keep locals informed if disaster strikes.

Supervisor Marge Miller writes that town staff will be trained to post to the site:  Read more

Congressional candidate Joel Tyner headed for a Democratic primary

Above: Joel Tyner and campaign volunteer Burr Hubbell hold a receipt for 2,350 signatures filed with the New York State Board of Elections. Photo by Jess Vecchione.

It can't be easy being Joel Tyner. While the four-term Dutchess County legislator has been touting his progressive record to voters across the Catskills and Hudson Valley, the more moderate Julian Schreibman, who has never held elected office, has been hoovering up endorsement after endorsement from county Democratic Committees. (In what must have been a cruel blow, Schreibman got the endorsement of the progressive-left Working Families Party. As longtime political observer Hugh Reynolds noted, "If anybody epitomizes the values of the WFP over a long career in politics, it’s Tyner.")  Read more

Letter to the editor: What's happening at the Binnekill bulkhead?

To the editor:

This is a picture of the Binnekill Bulkhead where the culvert lets water into the Binnekill. It lies on the outside of a bend in the river upstream of the village of Margaretville. From this point downstream for a hundred yards or so the bank has been eroded very much like you can see from this picture. During floods, the river rises above the bank and comes down the Binnekill rather than making the turn and flowing down the ordinary river channel.

Recently the Village of Margaretville took over this land using eminent domain procedures. Eminent domain is used for projects that require land for projects that are for the greater public good. It is obvious that the bulkhead needs to be rebuilt. A great deal of damage was sustained by buildings that were along the Binnekill during the flood last August. However I have not heard of any project like this being proposed by the village. No one that I have talked to knows anything about it. If anyone knows or can find out what the Village is up to I am sure that everyone in town would be interested in hearing about it.

Thomas Clark

Margaretville, N.Y.  Read more

Irene, goodnight: Name retired from storm list

Hurricane Irene over the Bahamas on August 25, 2011. Image by NOAA.

Hurricane Irene caused so much death and destruction in 2011 that the World Meteorological Organization has retired the name 'Irene' from the rotating list of Atlantic Basin tropical storm names, to be replaced by 'Irma.'

(So much for what Daily Beast media critic Howard Kurtz infamously called the "hurricane of hype.")

A news release from NOAA states that Irene was responsible for 49 deaths, as well as $15.8 billion worth of damage in the U.S. alone.

Looks like NOAA left something out of their release, though:

The most severe impact of Irene was catastrophic inland flooding in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Vermont.  Read more

New York State to cover local share of Irene and Lee recovery costs

Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the Middleburgh Fire Department today, announcing that New York State will cover the local share of flood recovery costs in 25 counties. Photo by David Avitabile of the Schoharie County Times Journal; reproduced by permission.

Local officials in flood-ravaged towns across New York State are breathing a sigh of relief today, after an announcement by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that the state will be picking up the tab for the local share of flood recovery funding. Cuomo visited the Middleburgh Fire Department today, in hard-hit Schoharie County, to make the announcement before an audience of about 150 local officials and residents.

Disaster recovery projects are usually funded by FEMA at 75 percent, with the remaining 25 percent split equally between the state and local towns, counties or villages. The local share of costs -- 12.5 percent -- doesn't sound like a lot compared to the entire cost of the projects. But for last year's flooding, all those local costs add up up to a whopping $61 million in New York State alone.  Read more

Freshtown announces reopening

The owners of the Freshtown supermarket in Margaretville, which has been closed since the Irene flooding last summer, publicly announced today that the store would reopen before June 1. They also say that the CVS pharmacy at the site, which was completely destroyed in the flood, will be rebuilt after the supermarket is open.

The announcement confirms earlier statements made by the company to local officials. Last month, owners Dan and Noah Katz told a meeting of the new East Branch Flood Commission that they would be open by June 1.

The Katzes state in the release that work is moving forward now because of a preliminary settlement on an insurance claim for building damage sustained in last year's floods.

The announcement from the Katzes:  Read more

Deadlines loom for Irene recovery programs

Two programs that have been helping with the local effort to rebuild and restore the region after the Irene and Lee floods announced application deadlines this week.

A $2.5 million program for funding debris removal from streams in the New York City watershed, launched by the Catskill Watershed Corporation in December, is nearing the end of its funding and will be closed to new applications next week. The CWC announced today that the Stream Corridor Protection Debris Removal Program will continue taking applications until 4pm on Monday, April 16.

From a press release from the CWC:

“There was no deadline imposed when the program was launched, but the demand for assistance from municipalities and property owners has stretched staff and monetary resources nearly to the limit,” said CWC Executive Director Alan Rosa in explaining what prompted the imposition of an end date for the program.  Read more

Sneak peek at a feature documentary about the Catskills: "To Be Forever Wild"

The Catskills are catnip for artists, and have been ever since Thomas Cole painted his first majestic waterfall. Filmmaker David Becker is the latest aesthete to respond to the lure of the mountains, and he's making a whole film about the subject. In his documentary, "To Be Forever Wild," he talks to fly-tiers and astronomers, geologists and railfans, historians and Tibetan Buddhists about the siren song of the Catskills and the great outdoors.

Becker is sharing two exclusive sneak peeks of the film with the Watershed Post. You can watch them above and below on this story page. [Update 6/11/12: Becker has made one of the videos, of a cliff jumper, private, so we have removed it from this post. -- Ed.]  Read more