James McGrath receives Spirit of the Catskills Award

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LONG SERVICE — James “Jimmy” McGrath, right, was honored with the Spirit of the Catskills Award on Saturday evening at the Belleayre Conservatory’s annual Snowball held Saturday evening at The Emerson in Mt. Tremper. The award is presented annually to someone who has performed extraordinary service to benefit the region. Jimmy was instrumental in growing the Shandaken Police Department and recently retired as police chief. Making the presentation is Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. A packed house enjoyed the dinner-dance. Proceeds benefit the Belleayre Music Festival. — Photo by Franz Edlinger, eOneMedia.com

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Shandaken mulls changes to Town Comprehensive Plan

By Jay Braman Jr.
The Town of Shandaken Comprehensive Plan, adopted in 2005 after years of fist-pounding debate and controversy, is up for review this year, but it remains unclear if the town is prepared to reopen discussion on what is considered a blueprint of the town’s future.

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Town/Village sewer extension project to begin in February

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By Brian Sweeney
Work is expected to get underway in February on the long-planned Middletown/Village of Margaretville Sewer Extension Project.
Property owners along Academy Street and Bull Run Road in Margaretville, as well as those in the vicinity of Harold Finch Road and Rosa Road, were notified in writing last week that they should expect to see project-related activity in the near future.

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Local consumers pumped up about falling gas prices

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By Joan Lawrence-Bauer
Falling gas prices are hardly breaking news these days, but their impact on the region is huge.
Direct impacts of national news aren’t always felt in rural areas. But the recent drop in the price of oil is an exception to that rule. The global impact of falling oil prices is still being studied by economists the world over. But locally, people are already feeling the impact in their pocketbooks of gas that now costs a dollar and-a-half a gallon less that it did last year and businesses are reporting better than normal sales for this time of year.

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OCS Superintendent mulling job options

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By Jay Braman Jr.
After not getting positive signals from the Onteora School Board, District Superintendent Phyllis McGill has considered work elsewhere in the state.
McGill’s contract with Onteora expires on June 30, 2016, leaving about a year and-a-half left on the four-year contract. As required by that contract, the board of education reviewed it last June, but no action was taken to renew or extend.

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Residents left homeless after Big Indian blaze

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NOTHING LEFT — Firefighters survey the wreckage after a fire in Big Indian last Wednesday that left a family homeless. Firefighters were hampered by freezing temperatures and downed power lines. — Photos by Joan Lawrence-BauerNOTHING LEFT — Firefighters survey the wreckage after a fire in Big Indian last Wednesday that left a family homeless. Firefighters were hampered by freezing temperatures and downed power lines. — Photos by Joan Lawrence-Bauer
By Joan Lawrence-Bauer
With smoke all around them and brutally cold, sub-zero temperatures outside, a Big Indian couple and their infant had a “just in time” escape last week from their burning home.
When Crystal and Drew Syl­vester awoke at about 3:30 a.m. last Wednesday, they grabbed what they could and raced to the nearby firehouse where they hit the alarm. First responder Chuck Perez found them there, alerted county fire control and met Big Indian Oliverea Fire Department (BIOFD) Chief Jody Rossitz at the scene.
SAD DAY — A family in Big Indian lost its home and all belongings in an early morning fire last Wednesday.SAD DAY — A family in Big Indian lost its home and all belongings in an early morning fire last Wednesday.

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HAHV planned affiliation will benefit Margaretville hospital

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By Joan Lawrence-Bauer
In an exclusive interview with the Catskill Mountain News last week, HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley (HAHV) CEO David Scarpino said he will be disappointed and surprised if a planned affiliation with Westchester Medical Center is not completed by the end of March and predicted measurable improvement in the delivery of health care here (in Margaret­ville) when the affiliation is complete.

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RCS building project goes back to the drawing board

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By Joe Moskowitz
Voters in the Roxbury Central School District will probably get a chance to vote for a third time on a plan to improve and replace portions of the school’s facilities. But when they do, there may be a few things different this time, including the knowledge of how much the net cost to taxpayers may actually be. 

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Phoenicia Library celebrates grand re-opening

By Jay Braman Jr.
The grand re-opening celebration for the newly rebuilt Phoenicia Library was everything such a celebration should be. It was a good time for a good cause that gave the community a chance to say thank you to all those that made it happen.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? — Storytelling and educational playtime are back in force at the new Phoenicia Library . — Photos by Jay Braman, Jr.WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? — Storytelling and educational playtime are back in force at the new Phoenicia Library . — Photos by Jay Braman, Jr.

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Shandaken farmstand controversy unresolved a year after judge's order

By Jay Braman Jr.
The controversial farm stand operation in Mount Tremper is still standing, one full year after a deadline set by the New York State Supreme Court for its removal. Also, the issue of what fines the owners are to pay, as well as the matter of reimbursement of over $70,000 in legal fees paid by the Town of Shandaken, remain unresolved.
On November 27, 2013 State Supreme Court Justice Mary Work gave the owners of Hanover Farms 60 days to take down their farm stand located on Route 28.

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Wastewater treatment systems proposed for New Kingston and Halcottsville

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Margaretville — Studies will soon get underway to determine the feasibility of installing Community Waste­water Management Systems in New Kingston and Halcottsville.
Representatives of the Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC) and Lamont Engineering attended the Middletown Town Board meeting on January 13 to provide the board with an overview of the proposed projects. Both of the hamlets are situated in the Town of Middletown. A resolution from the town board would be necessary for the projects to be commenced.

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