Flood watches in effect across the Catskills

A mix of heavy rains in the forecast, late-spring snow still clinging to mountain slopes, and still-frozen ground could be a recipe for flash flooding in the Catskills region Saturday night through Monday, forecasters warn. 

Heavy rain is expected to move into the region late Saturday, and continue through Sunday. Hudson Valley Weather is predicting two to three inches of rain across the Catskills and Hudson Valley  Read more

Power outages strike in Delaware County

More than 3,100 households in Delaware County were without power this morning, across an area that included most of NYSEG's customers in the towns of Stamford, Kortright and Harpersfield. 

As of around 10:45 a.m., a NYSEG power outage map was reporting that 2,452 of the utility's Delaware County customers were without power, including all 706 customers in the village of Stamford, all but a handful of houses in the village of Hobart, and over 90 percent of customers in the towns of Stamford and Harpersfield. By the time of this post, power had already been restored to many households, leaving 1,033 still without power. 

The Stamford Fire Department was without power this morning, but they are back online now, Delaware County Emergency Services director Steve Hood told the Watershed Post. 

A NYSEG spokesperson could not be reached for comment. Hood said he did not know what had caused the power outages.  Read more

Homeowners hit by flooding face April 11 deadline for NY Rising help

A year after it was begun, a New York State program to help homeowners pay for damage inflicted by Irene, Lee and Sandy is coming to a close. The NY Rising Housing Recovery Program, which funds repair, mortgage assistance, flood mitigation and buyouts of damaged homes, has declared a deadline of April 11, 2014 for homeowners to apply for assistance.

The program has already paid out over $280 million to 6,388 homeowners around the state whose homes were damaged, according to a press release announcing the deadline.

Catskills residents interested in applying to the program are encouraged to attend one of NY Rising's upcoming outreach events, scheduled in several locations around the region for this Saturday, March 29. The events will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the following locations:   Read more

Maple Weekend isn't over yet

Above: The entries in the "traditional" category of the Fleischmanns First Maple Festival's annual Maple Bake-Off, which was held last Saturday. Photo by Michelle Sidrane. 

The great thing about Maple Weekend is that it's actually two weekends.

Yes, you've got another chance this Saturday and Sunday to taste the first syrup of the 2014 maple season at sap houses and sugar bushes around the Catskills region. Try it fresh out of the evaporator, poured over pancakes, or baked into cookies, cakes, and doughnuts.

Pick up a free copy of the Catskills Food Guide while you're at it: our partners at Shaver-Hill Farm, Roxbury Mountain Maple, and the Frost Valley YMCA all have copies onhand to browse during the maple festivities.  Read more

Historic Rexmere hotel burns

See video

Top: Fire engulfs the historic Rexmere Hotel around 11 a.m. on March 25, 2014. Photo by Chris Becker. To see a slideshow of the fire as it destroyed the building in about 20 minutes, see the bottom of this story.  

Above: Video of the Rexmere collapsing in flames. Shot by Joshua Sparkes and shared with the Watershed Post. 

The Frank W. Cyr Center, formerly the Rexmere Hotel, burned to the ground Tuesday on West Main Street in the village of Stamford.

According to eyewitnesses at the scene, the fast-moving fire began shortly before 11 a.m. By around 11:20 a.m., the historic seven-story building had collapsed.

Below: Before and after: Two photos of the Rexmere taken about an hour apart on March 25, 2014. The first, taken by Chris Becker, was shot around 11 a.m., shortly after the fire started. Bottom, the same side of the building after it collapsed, taken at noon by Lissa Harris. 

The Stamford Fire Department arrived on the scene minutes after the building's fire alarm went off, according to Chris Becker, who lives around the corner from the Cyr Center on Lake Street, and serves on the board of the nonprofit that owns the building, the Catskill Mountains Educational Center (CMEC). But despite the quick response time, firefighters were unable to prevent the destruction of the building.

"Within 20 minutes, the fire was across the whole front," Becker said.

By around noon, hundreds of firefighters from many local fire companies had arrived and were battling the blaze amid thick plumes of smoke.

Above: Firefighters battle the blaze at the collapsed remains of the Frank W. Cyr Center/Rexmere Hotel midday on Tuesday, March 25. Video by Lissa Harris.

West Main Street was closed to traffic, and the power to the neighborhood was shut down while firefighters fought the flames. Several residents of the street were evacuated shortly after noon because of the thick smoke. One was Patty Beck, another CMEC board member who lives a couple of houses down from the Cyr Center.

"They're worried about the chemicals," said Beck, taking a minute to speak to a reporter from behind the wheel of her car, as she was heading for a friend's house to wait out the aftermath of the fire. Beck was unsure when she would be allowed back in her house.

The blaze engulfed the building with ferocious speed, Beck said. "So fast. It was just like paper."

  Read more

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Businesses Invited to “Boast & Toast” Delaware County Tourism Activities

The Delaware County Chamber of Commerce (DCCC) today announced the introduction of quarterly “Boast & Toast” Meet-ups for tourism businesses in Delaware County. As the Tourism Promotion Agency (TPA) for the County, DCCC has developed the Meet-ups to provide networking and activity sharing for those business owners that fuel the local tourism economy.

The first “Boast & Toast” Meet-up has been scheduled for Monday, April 7th, and will be hosted at The Shire Pub from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Participants will celebrate successes of the previous quarter and be invited to share with the crowd their plans for the coming season. A brochure exchange will also be offered to participants. All tourism-related businesses are invited and are required to RSVP by visiting by March 31, as space is limited.   Read more

Maple Weekend on tap: March 22-23 and 29-30

Above: Old-fashioned aprons hang in a Main Street window in Fleischmanns for the annual Maple Bake Off. Photo courtesy of Fleischmanns First.

The sights, sounds and smells of sap boiling in the sugarhouse mean that sweetness, like springtime, is just around the corner.

Syrupmaking is about as historic and local and hands-on as food production ges -- and nothing beats that flavor. Shake off the late-winter blahs and come celebrate Maple Weekend -- actually two weekends of open houses -- in the sugar shacks of the Catskills. Listed below are events that are within the Watershed Post's coverage area; a statewide list of all 146 locations can be found at

Unless otherwise specified, the syrup-crafters listed below will be welcoming company on all four days of Maple Weekend: March 22-23, and March 29-30. Many visits and tours are free; there may be additional charges for breakfasts, pony rides, and other treats.  Read more

Catskills villages head for the polls March 18

Illustration by Flickr user Adreson Vita Sá; published under Creative Commons license.

'Tis the season for green beer -- and rural voting. The day after St. Patrick's Day, New York State's littlest municipalities head for the polls to pick their elected officials.

Most of New York State's villages will hold elections on Tuesday, March 18, although a few opt to hold them at the same time as local elections in November, or at another time in the year. 

In the Catskills, most village elections are a sleepy affair, with few contested races. A couple of local villages this year have open posts for which no one is running, leaving the race wide open to write-in candidates. 

On the other hand, this year's election showdown between incumbents and Rural Heritage challengers in the Sullivan County village of Bloomingburg promises to generate more than enough drama for the whole region. Early Thursday morning, FBI agents swarmed the village, targeting properties owned by controversial developer Shalom Lamm, who recently bought several buildings and has apparently filled them with newly registered voters. If the FBI finds evidence of corruption in Bloomingburg, Lamm's apparent effort to sway election results in the tiny village of just over 400 residents could backfire. 

  Read more

Rabid raccoon found in Stamford

A raccoon that attacked a dog in the Delaware County village of Stamford has tested positive for rabies, county health officials announced Thursday.

It is the first animal in the county to be found with rabies in 2014. No rabid animals were found in Delaware County in 2013, according to county health educator Heather Warner.

The raccoon was captured and killed, and sent to the state rabies laboratory for testing. On Thursday, March 13, the laboratory reported that the animal had tested positive for rabies. 

According to a press release from Delaware County Public Health Services, the dog's owner said that the attack occurred during the day, which is unusual behavior for healthy raccoons.  Read more

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