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The bear photos keep coming

Watershed Post readers sure have seen a lot of bears. We've featured two posts with reader-submitted bear photos so far this month, and more just keep coming in. Here are the latest.

Below, a photo by Brian Albanese, taken by his "stealth cam" on September 26. He writes: "This was taken on Public access land in the Cannonsville Reservoir! I guess you can call them The Cannonsville Cubs!"

Below: A photo by KC Jones, taken on July 13, 2012. "This bear was less than three feet from my front door in Roxbury."

  Read more

Saving the Walton Theatre, one dollar at a time

Above: Jim Richardson of the Walton Theatre Preservation Association. All photos courtesy of Jim Richardson.

In June, the Walton Theatre, along with every other small movie theater across the country, received an ultimatum: Convert your 35mm projector to the new digital format by 2013, or the screen goes dark. With most big cinemas already switched to digital, film distributors will no longer ship old-fashioned 35mm reels to theatres.

In an effort to save the silver screen, the Walton Theatre Preservation Association reached out to the community. The task seemed impossible: Raise $70,000 for a new projector in six months. But with a December 31 deadline looming, the effort has already passed the halfway mark. Donations have come from across the country, ranging from hundreds of dollars in checks to a crayon-scrawled envelope with a single dollar in it.  Read more

Delaware County official: "To be blunt, we're a drug-infected county"

Rising drug abuse is putting a tremendous strain on Delaware County's foster care system, according to a county official.

Delaware County DSS Commissioner William Moon minced no words in describing the county's drug problems at last week's regular board of supervisors' meeting.

The Walton Reporter (subscription required for full story) reports:

"To be blunt, we're a drug-infected county," he said. He said employees in the department's child protective unit have investigated many complaints involving drug use, mostly heroin, and that the number of children in foster care has been as high as 100, though it is currently about 85. He said that, in years past, most foster children were teenagers, but it is now common to take newborn babies from drug-addicted mothers.

"The symptoms of the illness are not abating," Moon said. "It's not going to change. I don't see it changing."
  Read more

Bears all over the mountains

Above: A photo of a bear taken by a trail cam in Margaretville. Courtesy of Adam Varsano.

Last week, we urged you to send us your bear photos -- and did you ever. Thanks to Adam Varsano, whose furry subject appears to have noticed that his cover has been blown by a nearby trail cam.

Below is a set of astonishing bear photos from Peter Possenti, who has a weekend house near Perch Lake in Andes. Peter writes:

I took them from right behind my sliding glass door.  The closeups are with a telephoto, a 300mm I think. My wife was encouraging me to step out the door and get closer...I declined.

A wise move. (Please don't try to get close to bears -- or feed them! -- in an effort to get photos like these. It often ends badly for everybody, particularly the bears.)  Read more

Look out, Bambi: Bowhunting season begins today

Photo of Muzzy arrows by Flickr user Justin D. Miller. Published under Creative Commons license.

Early October is usually prime time for leaf-peeping in the Catskills. This year, it's time for deer-hunting too, thanks to a rule change by the state Department of Environmental Conservation that puts the start of the season about two weeks earlier than in previous years.

Bowhunting season for New York's Southern zone, which includes all of the Catskills region along with a huge swath of the rest of the state, began today and runs through November 16. Firearm deer hunting season begins on November 17.

Hunters are excited about getting an earlier start this year, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reports:

“It’s always great having more opportunity to be in the woods earlier in the season,” [hunter Nick] Faruch said. “This time of year, there’s no noise and usually not that many hunters.’’  Read more

NY Times: Fracking fears put a damper on Catskills real estate sales

Above: A three-bedroom ranch house on 14 acres in Hancock that local realtor Leonard Piorkowski hasn't been able to get a bite for, despite a tempting $107,000 sticker price. Photo from listing on Klimchok Real Estate's website.

For some upstate New York landowners, a prime location atop the Marcellus Shale is a potential goldmine. For others, it's more like an albatross.

In today's New York Times, reporter Mireya Navarro digs into the issue of whether the fear of impending gas drilling is scaring off potential homebuyers in the Catskills. Among those she interviews is would-be second-home-buyer Arthur Gillett, who found the prospect of fracking in Sullivan County too rich for his blood:  Read more

Meet Paul Fero, world-class rock-skipper

Paul Fero winds up for a throw at the 2012 Rock In River Festival in Franklin, PA on August 24. Photo by Michael Henderson; reproduced by permission.

How many times can you skip a rock?

Chances are, not as many times as Paul Fero.

Fero, an Oliverea resident, competed in this year’s “Rock In River Festival” in Franklin, PA on August 24th, where he attempted to dethrone the mighty Kurt “Mountain Main” Steiner and see how far he could skip his rocks against some of the toughest competition in the country.

The festival, which hugged the banks of the Allegheny River, featured not only some of the best rock-skippers in the county, but also rock decorating, games, crafts, free food and even a petting zoo.

Fero placed third in the competition after a tie-breaking decision. Fero's highest total of the afternoon was 40 skips, a feat he shared with competitior Eric Henne. To break the tie, the judges of the competition use each competitor's second highest number of skips, which placed Fero just four skips from second place.  Read more

Thousands without power across the Catskills region

High winds are taking out power lines across upstate New York tonight, leaving tens of thousands of people without power.

As of this post, Central Hudson is reporting that 29,961 of its upstate New York customers have power outages. NYSEG has 22,056 customers without power. And National Grid has 12,384 customers without power.

Within the Catskills region, Ulster County appears to be the hardest hit by power outages, with 8,936 affected Central Hudson customers and 230 NYSEG customers as of the time of this post.

Central Hudson, NYSEG and National Grid all have live updating maps of power outages. Click the links above to see current maps and estimated power restoration times, if the company has them.

Tornado watch in effect for Catskills region

Update, 5pm: Ulster and Greene County are under a flash flood warning:

Locations In The Warning Include But Are Not Limited To Windham And Prattsville Radar Estimates And Actual Gage Readings Indicating 2 To 4 Inches Of Rain Has Fallen Across Portions Of Greene And Mainly Western Ulster County. Additional Rainfall Of 1 To 3 Inches Is Possible. Rapid Runoff From Heavy Rainfall Will Lead To Flash Flooding.

Sullivan County has a flash flood warning as well:  Read more

Wind advisory in effect today for Sullivan, Delaware, Otsego counties

The National Weather Service in Binghamton has issued a wind advisory for the western Catskills region, from 11am until 8pm. Forecasts are calling for sustained winds of 20 to 30 miles per hour, with gusts up to 40 or 50 miles per hour, possibly greater at high elevations.

Heavy rain and thunderstorms are also in the forecast for the region, and could dump as much as two or three inches in some areas. With the region feeling the effects of a long summer drought, a little rain isn't a bad thing -- but watch out for downed trees and power lines on the road this afternoon and evening.