Gone fishin': Anglers celebrate on a freezing opening day

Above: Boys Fishing, by Amanda Lee Popp. Submitted to the 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest. 

April Fool’s day is the first day of fishing season in New York state, and it's playing a freezing cold joke on hopeful anglers vying to catch the first trout of the year.

It's a cold and icy beginning to trout season, with a high of only 38 degrees and snow falling over Cairns Pool on the Beaverkill, according to the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum’s Facebook page. Nevertheless, trout were reportedly caught there today, the center reports.

Above: The ice-covered Upper Delaware River on Monday, March 30. Photo by Tony Ritter, via Twitter.   Read more

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

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The Margaretville Health Foundation has established a Planned Giving program offering numerous financial and tax advantages to those who participate. A planned gift is any major gift, made from the assets of a donor- in lifetime or at death-as part of your overall financial and estate planning. Our goal is to create an endowment fund that sustains the hospital and nursing home for thelong term.

Our focus is for maintaining, improving and innovating long term sustainabilityfor the Margaretville Campus. The Margaretville Health Foundation’s planned giving program is something that you can create to benefit you and your family today and establish a legacy, while also ensuring that vital human care programs are available for generations to come.

There are 3 types of planned gifts:

• Outright gifts that use appreciated assets as a substitute for cash

• Gifts that return income or other financial benefits to the donor in return for the contribution

• Gifts payable upon the donors death  Read more

Sullivan County heroin traffickers busted two days before drug forum

Photo by Eric Molina, via Flickr. 

After nine months of surveillance and wiretapping, investigators from the New York Attorney General's Office and the New York State Police have arrested a group of 13 people for trafficking heroin in New York and Pennsylvania.

The network, which reportedly revolved around a 52-year-old Bronx-based kingpin named Brian Bacon who is known as the "Prime Minister," funneled heroin from New York City into Sullivan County via two men in Monticello, according to a press release. 

Thirty-four-year-old Jamaul Aziz and 22-year-old Gilbert Maxi allegedly served as heroin resellers in Monticello, police say. Aziz is described as one of Bacon's "main resellers."

Above: A poster promoting two forums on heroin addiction in Sullivan County this weekend, from the Kingfisher Project. 

Bacon reportedly sold around a kilogram of heroin each month to his various clients in New York and Pennsylvania. Much of the heroin travelled by public trains and buses, police say. 

The investigation, called "Operation Iron Horse," began in June 2014. The 13 defendants were arraigned in Orange County Court on Thursday, March 26, according to the Times Herald-Record. 

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Trucker trapped for hour after rear-ending another truck on Route 17

A series of truck accidents on Route 17 in Sullivan County continues.

On Wednesday, March 25, eastbound Route 17 in the Sullivan County town of Mamakating was closed for an hour after the driver of an Isuzu box truck rear-ended a Mack tractor trailer and became trapped in his cab, police say.

According to a state police press release, Edward Pierno, of Plymouth, New York, was operating the Mack truck when Alan Spoor, of Syracuse, drove the Isuzu box truck into his rig from behind.

It took first responders, which included the Wurtsboro Fire Department and EMS personnel, over an hour extricate Spoor, police say. Spoor sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was flown to Westchester Medical Center.

This is the third time Route 17 has been closed by a truck crash in four months. 

In December 2014, a five tractor trailers were involved in a crash on Route 17 in the town of Thompson that caused the death of a 65-year-old New York City woman.  Read more

Six new Catskills publications cater to urban transplants

Above: An image from Catskill Made, a new digital publication. Photo of milkweed by Tom Smith.

Along with maple syrup and the first red blush of buds on the mountainsides, spring is bringing a bloom of new publications devoted to covering the culture, arts and lifestyle of the Catskills — through the eyes of flatlanders.

These days, urbanites are fleeing to the Catskills from New York City in droves. If you ask them why, they say that they're searching for something -- a kind of authenticity absent from more citifed environs.

“We yearned for a place with a slower pace of life, fewer pretensions, friendlier people, and more authenticity — something we had always experienced on our trips here," said Alecia Eberhardt, a new arrival to the Catskills who is the editor of Catskill Made, a new digital quarterly journal that launched on March 21. "So in the summer of 2013 we made the leap, and almost two years later, here we are.”  Read more

The best of the new Catskills restaurants

Above: Fresh-made donuts at Twin Peaks Coffee & Donuts. Photo by Julia Reischel.

New eateries serving fresh doughnuts, Vietnamese banh mi, baklava and cheesy grits have all opened in the mountains this past year or so. From the 2015 Catskills Food Guide, here are some of our favorites.

The doughnuts at Twin Peaks Coffee & Donuts (5950 Main St., Tannersville, 518-589-6262), which opened in late 2013, are made to order by the Doughnut Robot, a countertop machine that deploys circles of batter into bubbling hot oil while you wait. After frying, they’re dipped in flavored glazes like Key lime, pumpkin, apple cider, and caramel and sea salt. For a quarter, you can add a bacon glaze. For $4.50, you can add eggs, cheese and meat to make a true caloric heavyweight: a doughnut-based breakfast sandwich “slider.”

Above: Doughnut sliders at Twin Peaks Coffee & Doughnuts. Photo by Julia Reischel. 

Tara and Nathan Jamieson, the owners of Feather & Stone (38 West St., Walton, 607-510-4027, featherandstonerestaurant.com), which opened in September 2014, express their love of travel in their menu. One week, they’re celebrating the Midwest with fried cheese curds, and the next it’s the American southwest with Texas smoked brisket. They have a special affection for New York state dishes — the Rochester Garbage Plate is a mix of meats, chili, fries and salad — and the humble burger, seven versions of which appear on the menu.  Read more

Snow days weigh heavily on Catskills college students

Above: The SUNY New Paltz campus on March 13. Photo by Keady Sullivan.

After a brutal winter in the Catskills, college students are holding their breath, hoping for no more snow days.

College classes at SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Delhi, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Oneonta, SUNY Sullivan and SUNY Ulster have all experienced weather-related cancellations with more frequency than usual in 2015.

For SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Sullivan students, Monday classes have been hit particularly hard. Three consecutive Monday snow days on Jan. 26, Feb. 2, and Feb. 9 prevented classes from meeting and have significantly set back course curriculums.

SUNY Sullivan had the most official, university-declared cancellations of colleges in the Catskills region. Four whole days of classes were cancelled, and classes were either delayed or closed early on three additional days. In Ulster County, SUNY New Paltz cancelled classes six times and SUNY Ulster cancelled classes four times.

In Schoharie County, SUNY Cobleskill cancelled classes three times. In Delaware County, SUNY Delhi cancelled classes twice. And in Otsego County, SUNY Oneonta cancelled classed on one day and partially cancelled classes on another day.  Read more

Rescuers take to the ice

Above: An ice rescue training on the Rondout Reservoir on March 10. Photo via the DEP's Flickr page.

March, when the ice of Catskills lakes and reservoirs is the thickest, is the time of year when first responders freshen up their ice rescue skills.

Last week, police and fire departments around the region chopped holes in ice and took turns donning bright, insulated dry suits to practice how to reach a victim who had fallen through ice into frigid water.

On March 10, on the Rondout Reservoir in Ulster and Sullivan counties, police and water quality experts from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection conducted rescue drills.

That same week, in Schoharie County, rescuers practiced used a Rapid Deployment Craft (RDC) in Summit. (We wrote about the annual Summit drill last year.)  Read more

Catskills sugarhouses open for Maple Weekend

Above: Maple syrup from the Catskill Mountain Sugar House in Grahamsville. Photo by Richard A. Smith

New York state produces almost a fifth of the nation’s maple syrup, and much of that comes from the Catskills. The mountains are home to many sugarhouses, from large operations with state-of-the-art evaporators that use reverse osmosis to little shacks that still use the old-fashioned boiling method.

Maple syrup is available all year long, but the tapping season lasts for just a few weeks in March, when frosty nights and sunny days get the sap moving.

The best way to watch a sugarhouse in action is to visit one. The sights, sounds and smells of sap boiling in the sugarhouse mean that sweetness, like springtime, is just around the corner. 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 160 locations can be found at mapleweekend.com.  Read more

Election results: Villagers dump incumbents, vote for newcomers

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Above: Aaron Rabiner, a candidate for village trustee in the Sullivan County village of Bloomingburg, in a campaign interview. Rabiner has a two-vote lead on incumbent trustee Katherine Roemer in a tight race that won't be resolved until next week. 

It was a throw-out-the-bums kind of year in village elections across the Catskills, which were held yesterday, March 18. In the few village races in the region that were contested, most incumbents fared badly against upstarts and challengers.

Many of the races are nailbiters. Some results are preliminary due to razor-thin margins in races where affidavit and absentee ballots have yet to be counted. In a few races, a single vote separated the winners from the losers.  Read more

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