Upcoming Events in Middletown

FEMA proposes buying 33 flood-prone properties in Ulster County

Above: Flood damage in Phoenicia caused by Tropical Storm Irene. Photo taken on September 4, 2011 by fixBufflao and posted to the Watershed Post Flickr pool.

Yesterday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced a plan to buy up to 33 properties in Ulster County that were "substantially damaged" by Tropical Storms Irene and Lee in 2011.

Through Ulster County, the property owners all applied for the voluntary program, called the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. If and when the lands are purchased, all structures on them will be demolished and they will be maintained forever as open space, according to a FEMA press release. 

The announcement about FEMA's plans in Ulster County is only the first step is the glacial buyout process, Ulster County Emergency Management director Art Snyder told mulitiple news outlets yesterday. Ulster County put together a proposal for federal buyouts of 38 properties back in February, and this announcement is just preliminary approval of the plan. 

According to the Times Herald-Record, Snyder says that most of the homes on the list are in Shandaken:

Roughly 24 of those buyout-eligible homes are in Shandaken, Snyder said, while four are in Wawarsing, two are in Ulster, two are in the Town of Kingston, and one is in Olive.

But the feds haven't set aside the money yet to fund the project, Snyder told the Daily Freeman:

“We put in a budget for it, but they haven’t said what has been granted,” Snyder said. “They also haven’t said which properties they have accepted at this time. All they’ve done is release the public notice so that if anyone wanted to comment about the program, they would have an opportunity to do so.”

The Times Herald-Record reported that Snyder says the buyout "likely won't be complete until early 2014." 

YNN interviewed a Kerhonkson resident, one of about 60 property owners who applied to the county for buyout assistance:

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Catskills, watch out for sleet on the roads tonight

The National Weather Service in Albany warns that freezing rain is expected this afternoon and into the evening across the Catskills, especially at elevations above 1200 feet. From NY-Alert:

Elevations Above 1200 Feet Will Be Most Susceptible To These Pockets Of Freezing Rain...Which Could Lead To Locally Slippery Road Conditions. All Interests Should Use Extreme Caution When Driving Through These Areas...In Case Some Bridges...Overpasses And Other Untreated Road Surfaces May Be Slippery.

511-NY tweeted around 4:30pm that parts of both Route 28 and Route 10 were looking icy:

Delaware County makes an elevator pitch to Cuomo

Above: MARK Project director Peg Ellsworth, who serves on the Southern Tier Regional Economic Council, presents Gov. Andrew Cuomo with a gift basket of Delaware County goodies during the Governor's visit to the Southern Tier on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Peg Ellsworth.

This week, New York State's ten new economic development regions are doing their best to impress, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo makes a statewide tour. The ten regions were created by Cuomo's administration in 2011 as public-private partnerships to plan economic growth in the state.

On Wednesday, Cuomo paid a visit to the Southern Tier Economic Development Region, a region that includes rural Delaware County as well as Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga and Tompkins County. Last year, in a round of competitive grants to the state's ten economic development regions, the Southern Tier won a total of $49.4 million in state grants -- an infusion of cash into the region's economy, but also the lowest award made to any of the regions.  Read more

Margaretville Bowl: A '60s time capsule goes on the market

Above: The original 1960s mechanical pin-setter machines and surface ball-returns of Margaretville Bowl. All photos by Julia Reischel.

Walking into Margaretville Bowl is walking onto the set of "Mad Men."

The eight-lane alley opened in 1960 with brand-new pink-and-chrome Brunswick fittings throughout. Half a century later, the vintage ball returns, mechanical pin-setters, and lockers are still immaculate. It's a '60s time capsule, right down to the eight-foot-tall plywood bowling pin that rotates in the breeze on a pole outside.

Now Margaretville Bowl is for sale, and all those beautiful vintage fittings are up for grabs. Or for ripping out, depending on the buyer's whims -- a recent ad for the property described it only as a commercial space, without mentioning the building's one-of-a-kind interior.

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Helluva sky country

Marcia Olenych (the owner of Mountain Flame in Arkville) sent us this photo of her commute this morning over Margaretville Mountain, right next to the Margaretville Mountain Inn, looking into the East Branch of the Delaware River Valley.

Local filmmaker's "How To Survive A Plague" makes the Oscar shortlist

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Above: The official trailer for "How To Survive a Plague," a documentary about AIDS activists in the '80s and '90s by filmmaker David France.

The Delaware County town of Middletown may get the chance to root for one of its own at the upcoming Oscars in February. A documentary by David France, a part-time New Kingston resident who owns the iconic Galli-Curci Theatre building on Main Street in Margaretville with his partner Jonathan Starch, has just been named to a shortlist of 15 films that will be considered for Oscar glory.

It's not the first honor for "How To Survive A Plague," a documentary about the AIDS activists of ACT-UP and TAG who pushed successfully in the '80s and '90s to make the epidemic a public health priority. The film was an official selection at Sundance 2012, and won Best Documentary at the 2012 Gotham Independent Film Awards in November.  Read more

Justin Bieber makes an unplanned pit stop in the Catskills

On his way from Montreal to a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, Justin Bieber made an unscheduled stop in the Catskills. The Bieb tweeted:

Not swaggy? C'mon, JBiebz. From where we sit, anywhere you can get your smartphone to work up here in the hills is pretty swaggy.

DEC releases new draft gas drilling regulations

On Thursday afternoon, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation unveiled its latest set of proposed regulations to govern hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. The new proposed regulations replace an earlier set of draft regulations, issued September 7, 2011.

The latest move from the DEC extends the agency's timeline for finalizing its hydrofracking regulations for another 90 days. Public comment on the current draft will be accepted from December 12, 2012 through 5pm on January 11, 2013.

North Country Radio reports that there are a pair of studies that also need to be completed before drilling could begin:  Read more

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