Shandaken

Upcoming Events in Shandaken

Soldiers remove deadly strainer from Esopus, warning sign installed

Above: New York Army National Guard soldiers clear a section of the Esopus Creek where a 14-year-old girl drowned last month. In the foreground is a swiftwater rescue boat that was lost in an attempt to recover the girl's body. Photos by Julia Reischel.

On Friday, Oct. 2, the Army National Guard removed a deadly pileup of logs from the Esopus Creek where 14-year-old Jordyn Engler drowned last month.

A warning sign has also been installed, apparently in the last 24 hours, by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) at the entrance to the fishing access point at the Shandaken cemetery where Jordyn Engler died on Sept. 5.

Soldiers operating an excavator and a bulldozer worked for hours Friday morning to remove the logs and debris, known as a strainer, that trapped Engler while she was on a tubing excursion with her father on Labor Day weekend.

Above: The strainer where Jordyn Engler drowned, photographed on Sept. 6, 2015. 

The strainer was a well-known hazard that had first formed in 2005. It has choked that portion of the Esopus Creek for a decade. By noon on Friday, it was gone.  Read more

Father of girl who drowned in Esopus Creek speaks out

Above: A cross at an access path to the Esopus Creek where 14-year-old Jordyn Engler died on Sept. 5. Photo by Julia Reischel.

For the first time since Sept. 5, when a family outing on the Esopus Creek turned tragic, Jeffrey Engler is speaking publicly about the accident that claimed his daughter's life.

Fourteen-year-old Jordyn Engler's death, which occurred at the peak of tourist season on Labor Day weekend, shocked communities around the Catskills. The Connecticut teenager drowned during a tubing excursion near a well-known river hazard in the Ulster County town of Shandaken that local tubing companies are known to avoid.

Police say that her death was an accident, and that the investigation into the circumstances surrounding it are closed.

Initially, Jeffrey Engler asked for privacy after his daughter’s death. But in a recent interview with the Watershed Post, Engler described his experience of the day in an attempt to correct what he called errors in police and media accounts of the incident.

Above: Jordyn Engler in an Instagram photo. 

For our Sept. 9 story about Jordyn Engler’s drowning, we relied on first responder and police accounts of what happened. Since the story’s publication, several witnesses, including Engler, have contacted us with new details, some of which conflict with the initial police account.

Captain Kevin Altieri of the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated Jordyn Engler’s death, does not dispute the new details. The owners of F&S Adventures Tube Rental, the company that dropped the Englers off at the river, have not responded to repeated requests for comment.

Special trip to dangerous site

Engler said that not only did F&S Adventures Tube Rental drop him and his daughter off at the notoriously dangerous tubing site near the Shandaken cemetery, but that the tubing company made a special trip to ferry them there. This is contrary to the initial report from police.

  Read more

Lark in the Park hosts dozens of guided Catskills excursions

Above: A child's-eye view of the Catskills, taken on Aug. 17, 2013 at Hunter Mountain by Andrea Byrne.

The annual Lark in the Park kicks off this weekend on Saturday, Oct. 3 and runs for a week through Columbus Day on Monday, Oct. 12. This annual celebration originated in 2004 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Catskill Park, and is an opportunity to immerse yourself in all things Catskills.

The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, the Catskill Mountain Club and the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference throw a 10-day party for the Catskills at the peak of the glorious autumn foliage season, a time that many feel is the best time of year: no heat, humidity or bugs.

Above: Portage at Colgate Lake in Greene County. Photo by Karl Anshanslin.   Read more

Minor flooding across the Catskills, with more rain coming

Above: Flooding on Wittenberg Road in Woodstock around noon on Wednesday, Sept. 30. Photo by Benjamin Fenton.

Over six inches of rain have fallen in the past day in the high peaks region of the Catskills, causing minor flooding in streams in Greene and Ulster counties on Wednesday, Sept. 30. 

Schools in the Greene County town of Catskill closed early today, and flooding closed roads in Saugerties and in other locations in Ulster County, including Wittenberg Road in the town of Woodstock near Shultis Farm Road (see above). The Esopus Creek in Mount Marion crested at 21 feet around 1 p.m., a foot below the level where it begins flooding homes, according to measurements from its stream gauge.

Above: High water in the Plattekill Creek in Saugerties. Video by Brian Hubert of the Daily Freeman. 

Minor flooding occurred in many locations throughout the Greene County town of Hunter, which got the most rainfall--about six inches--today, according to John Farrell, the town of Hunter's highway superintendent. 

Above: A map of inches of rain that fell in the Catskills in the past 24 hours, from the National Weather Service. The most rain--more than six inches--fell in Greene County. 

"We had a couple very localized flooding incidents due to debris in the streambeds all over the mountaintop," Farrell said. "A lot of the tributaries. We got a lot of rain up there."

Hunter's highway team managed to clear debris fast enough to avoid closing any roads in the town, Farrell said. The flooding peaked in the town around 11 a.m.

Rainfall in other locations around the region was less severe, and other locations in the Catskills that are normally prone to flooding have escaped problems so far.  Read more

Phoenicia's KeyBank to reopen

Above: The newly-renovated KeyBank building in Phoenicia reopens on Monday, Sept. 28. (A few finishing touches, including a metal handrail on the entrance ramp, will be completed by then.) Photo courtesy of KeyBank. 

The KeyBank building in the Ulster County hamlet of Phoenicia, which was gutted by fire on Feb. 16, will reopen on Monday, Sept. 28, according to a media release from the bank.

The building, at 53 Main Street, has been redesigned and remodeled, according to the release:

"We are grateful for the community’s continued support, and we are thrilled to be able to unlock and open the doors once again," said Ruth Mahoney, president, Hudson Valley/Metro NY Market, KeyBank. "The interior of the building has been completely renovated, with new carpeting, paint and furniture, and the exterior has been improved with new windows and new landscaping. Our goal is to create a welcoming environment that is a positive reflection of the area."

The bank will be open at 8:30 a.m. on Monday morning for regular business.

The 2016 Catskills Food Guide Photo Contest

Above: This photo, of a duck in Parksville, was taken by Chris Graham and won second place in the 2015 Catskills Food Guide Photo Contest.

The contest is now closed. Look for the print 2016 Catskills Food Guide next year for the winners! - Ed. 

It's harvest season, and in the Catskills, the veggies are gorgeous. So are the cows, barns and the farmers themselves. (Just ask Real Simple Magazine, which just ran a photo spread of six women farmers from the region.

That means it's time for our annual Catskills Food Guide Photo Contest, once again sponsored by the Peekamoose Restaurant & Tap Room in Big Indian.   Read more

Police searching for missing 87-year-old Narrowsburg woman

Update: 11:49 a.m. The alert for Louise E. Scheurich was cancelled at 11:49 a.m. 

An 87-year-old Narrowsburg woman is missing after being last seen at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 15 getting gas in Binghamton, according to the New York State Police in Liberty and the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, which has put out an alert in 17 counties in an attempt to find her.

Left: Louise E. Scheurich. Image via the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. 

Louise E. Scheurich is a "vulnerable adult with dementia," according to the alert, and "may be in need of medical attention."

She was driving a beige 2000 Dodge Neon with New York license plates reading AJU-2836, and was last seen last night getting fuel near exit 79 on Route 17 in Binghamton, police say.  Read more

Catskills town and county primary results: Upsets and almosts

Above: Middletown Supervisor Marge Miller and Harpersfield Supervisor Jim Eisel share an umbrella at a rainy event in Fleischmanns this summer. Both Miller and Eisel won primaries against challengers on Thursday, Sept. 10. Photo by Julia Reischel.

There were lots of close political contests across the Catskills in yesterday's primary election. Here are the results in the hottest races. 

DELAWARE COUNTY

In the race for Delaware County Family Court Judge, Conservative voters overwhelmingly chose Porter Kirkwood over Gary Rosa 68 to 30, but Independence voters preferred Gary Rosa to Porter Kirkwood 94 to 70. Heated accusations have been flying between the candidates about ethics violations this past week, as we reported yesterday

In Harpersfield, Jim Eisel, the long-serving chairman of the Delaware County Board of Supervisors, won his first-ever primary with 89 Republican votes. That was 23 more votes than Ed “Rusty” Pick, who got 66. Pick also has the Democratic party’s endorsement.  Read more

Local candidates vie in primary election today

Photo by Kristin Ausk, via Flickr.

Today--Thursday, Sept. 10--is primary election day in New York, and voters who are registered with political parties across the Catskills can go to the polls to vote for town and county candidates running in primary races from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Usually, primary day is a Tuesday, but the late Labor Day holiday this year has pushed it back to a Thursday, which will likely have an impact on voter turnout.

New York State has a closed-primary system, meaning that to vote in a primary at any level of government in New York State, voters must be registered members of the party holding the primary. 

The winners of today’s primaries will appear on the ballot in the general election in November. But due to multiple political parties supporting a single candidate, candidates who lose their party's primary may still appear on the November ballot on a different line.

Not every town and legislative district has a primary race today. No towns in Schoharie County have primaries this year, for example. Here’s a look at the hot primary races in the Catskills.

DELAWARE COUNTY

In Delaware County, Gary Rosa and Porter Kirkwood will face off in Conservative and Independence primaries in a heated race for the new position of Family Court Judge

This past week, their race has gotten ugly, with accusations flying between the candidates about ethics violations.

Rosa has used a campaign slogan criticizing Kirkwood of “representing just one client, the county’s Department of Social Services,” in his appearances in Family Court.

  Read more

Teen drowned while tubing after bus dropped her near notorious hazard

Above: The "strainer" on the Esopus Creek where 14-year-old Jordyn Engler drowned on Saturday, Sept. 5. Two swiftwater rescue boats, both of which can be seen in this photo, were lost during attempts to recover her body. Photo by Julia Reischel.

The place where 14-year-old Jordyn Engler drowned on the Esopus Creek on Saturday, Sept. 5 was near a notorious local river hazard. But that didn’t stop a Catskills tubing company from dropping her off at an abandoned tubing launch nearby.

The hazard, a heap of downed trees, piled up a decade ago near what was once a popular tubing launch location. It regularly destroys boats and gear, but it has never been removed. No signs warn of its presence.

Neither of the two tubing companies that work the Shandaken stretch of the Esopus Creek drop busloads of tubers at the site. But on Saturday, police say that the bus driver for F&S Adventures Tube Rental made an exception for Jeffrey Engler and his daughter, Jordyn Engler.

The two were on vacation from Ellington, Connecticut, where Jordyn was a freshman at Ellington High School and a cheerleader on a nearby all-star team. They were visiting a spot where Jeffrey Engler had tubed many times before, and planned to float downriver to the hamlet of Phoenicia.  Read more

Shandaken Letters