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New details emerge on Walton deaths: Randy Sundstrom's body was found in a barrel

More disturbing details are emerging from the police investigation into an apparent murder-suicide and arson that occurred last week in a Walton home.

On February 19, two people were found dead at a house at 294 John Lockwood Road, which was set on fire shortly before gunshots were heard from within. The two were identified as 48-year-old Debra Sundstrom of 1884 South River Road, whose death was ruled a suicide by gunshot to the head, and 51-year-old Dominick Bosco, who lived in the house. Bosco's death was ruled a homicide.

The body of Debra's husband, Randy Sundstrom, was later found by police at the Sundstroms' home at 1884 South River Road.

On Tuesday, New York State Police troopers revealed a grim detail in the unfolding case: Randy Sundstrom's body was found stuffed into a barrel behind the Sundstrom house.

Randy Sundstrom had been dead since roughly February of 2010, police said. His death has been ruled a homicide.  Read more

Body of suicide victim's long-dead husband found during investigation of Walton fire

A long-dead body has been found during the investigation of an arson-suicide at 294 John Lockwood Road in Walton, where 48-year-old Debra Sundstrom committed suicide by gunshot on February 19.

On the afternoon of February 19, two local police officers -- who were outside the house at the time conducting a criminal investigation -- heard gunshots, then entered the house to find it ablaze. Two bodies were recovered from the house after the fire, which was later found to have been set intentionally.

While investigating the incident, state police have found and identified a third body at 1884 South River Road in Walton: Debra Sundstrom's husband, Randy Sundstrom. Police say Randy Sundstrom was the victim of a homicide sometime around February of 2010.

Lieutenant Jeffrey VanAuken of the New York State Police told the Watershed Post that Randy Sundstrom was never reported missing.  Read more

Delaware County board to vote on anti-gun-control resolution

This week, Delaware County is likely to join a growing contingent of upstate New York counties declaring opposition to the SAFE Act, New York State's new gun control law.

Among a slate of resolutions to be taken up at the Delaware County Board of Supervisors' next meeting on Wednesday, February 27 is a four-page declaration of opposition to the SAFE Act. The resolution was brought forward by Tom Axtell, the Republican supervisor of Deposit.

Board chairman Jim Eisel, the Republican supervisor of Harpersfield, told the Watershed Post recently that he believes the resolution will pass.

"[Gov. Andrew] Cuomo did it in the dead of night and got it through. I think it's an abuse of power, and it certainly isn't democracy," he said. "I don't think we can change it, but we are going to oppose it."  Read more

Snow and sleet in the Catskills forecast

Watch out on the roads tonight, drivers: Winter weather advisories are in effect this evening across the Catskills region, and forecasters are calling for freezing rain changing over to snow overnight.

The National Weather Service in Albany has issued a winter weather advisory for Greene, Ulster, Columbia and Dutchess Counties, from 6pm tonight til 7am Sunday morning:  Read more

Police: Walton woman found in burning house shot herself; fire was intentionally set

One of the two people found dead in a burning house on a dead-end road in Walton on Tuesday was 48-year-old Debra S. Sundstrom, according to a press release from the New York State Police.

A forensic pathologist at Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton has found that Sundstrom's death was a suicide, and that the method was "a gunshot to the head," the release states. 

The press release also states that the fire that engulfed the house as investigators arrived on the scene was "incendiary in nature" and has been ruled an arson. 

The identify of a second body found in the house has yet to be identified.

According to the Daily Star's police blotter, Sundstrom had recently been arrested: She was charged with five counts of grand larceny in the fourth degree on January 28.

  Read more

Two bodies found in burning house in Walton

Above: Aerial imagery of a property at 294 John Lockwood Road where two bodies were found Tuesday (highlighted in blue on the map). Source: Delaware County Community Online Mapping Tool.

On Tuesday afternoon, police conducting a criminal investigation at a house in Walton arrived to the sound of gunfire and the house in flames. Two bodies were found in the house, and have yet to be identified.

According to a release from the New York State Police issued on Wednesday, Delaware County Sheriff's Office senior investigator Karl Vagts and Walton Police Department chief Brian Laauser were on the scene around 2pm on Tuesday at 294 John Lockwood Road, a dead-end road in a rural neighborhood. While the officers were outside the house, two gunshots were heard from within. 

Vagts and Laauser entered the house, where they found a woman dead on the second floor, and flames beginning to engulf the building. Fire companies from Walton and Delhi arrived to put out the fire. After the fire was extinguished, the remains of a second body were found in the basement.  Read more

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Catskills county governments take aim at SAFE Act

Photo of L1A1 SLR semi-automatic rifle by Flickr user Keary O. Published under Creative Commons license.

County governments across upstate New York are weighing in against New York State's new gun control law, the SAFE Act. By the time the dust settles on a spate of pending resolutions, the list of anti-SAFE Act counties is likely to include most or all of the Catskills region. 

On Friday, the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors voted 15-1 to pass a resolution opposing the SAFE Act. News 10 reports:

The resolution calls for repealing the new law; explaining the it infringes on people's rights and describes it as unnecessary.

The resolution opposes the process of the enactment and certain provisions, including the ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines.  Read more

Southern Tier: The new North Pennsylvania?

Currently making the rounds of Change.org: A petition by pro-drilling Southern Tier residents to allow Broome, Chenango, Chemung, Delaware, Steuben and Tioga Counties to secede from New York State and join Pennsylvania

The signers, frustrated by New York State's long delay in issuing natural gas drilling regulations, are apparently mad as hell, and they're not gonna take it anymore:

The Southern Tier of New York State has been treated as a sacrifice zone by those other New Yorkers who would restrict us from developing our natural gas resources and revitalizing our economy. Those resources are ours and we are entitled to use them to save our farms, our families and our future. We, therefore, as residents of Broome, Chenango, Chemung, Delaware, Steuben and Tioga Counties, petition the legislature for the rights of Southern Tier counties to secede from the State of New York and join with the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania to be part of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Read more

Seven ways to spend Valentine's Day in the Catskills

St. Valentine, it might be remembered, got into a heap of trouble for marrying couples in defiance of the government, which had decreed that young men remain single so that they’d make better soldiers for the state. No matter your feelings about Hallmark-card consumerism, that’s a dude worth commemorating, and hey, doing something sweet for or with your honey is hardly a burden.

So celebrate some romance, y’all. We've put together seven ideas for making sure your Valentine's Day in the Catskills is a great one.

1. Stay In.

Is anything cozier than a night in the mountains in front of the woodstove? Photo by Flickr user Amy; published under Creative Commons license.  Read more

To drill or not to drill: New York gas regs delayed again

New York State is slated to miss a key Wednesday deadline in the long march toward issuing regulations on hydrofracking.

State health commissioner Nirav Shah announced Tuesday, in a letter to Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) commissioner Joseph Martens, that his agency's ongoing review of the effects of hydrofracking on human health would not be finished by its Wednesday due date. Several large-scale studies, including a progress report from an ongoing EPA study of hydrofracking's effects on drinking water, have been released recently, and Shah told Martens that his agency needed time to incorporate them into the review.

In the letter, Shah urged Martens to put the brakes on fracking regulations until the Department of Health (DOH) finishes its review:

The time to ensure the impacts on public health are properly considered is before a state permits drilling. Other states began serious health reviews only after proceeding with widespread HVHF [high volume hydraulic fracturing].  Read more