NewsShed: Steam funk

Above: 17-year-old pro mountain bike racer Taylor Allison, a local athlete who's currently fundraising to enter the 2014 World Cup at Windham. Last month, Allison took fourth place in U.S. Nationals on Windham's rocky, slippery slopes. Photo from Allison's Facebook fan page.

Good morning, Catskills!

Today is shaping up to be a steamy, muggy scorcher, with temperatures climbing into the 90s at lower elevations, and heat advisories creeping up the lower Hudson Valley and into eastern Ulster County. If it gets too hot for you up here, just think of the poor souls frying on the sidewalks downstate. 

Demonstrators at the Livingston Manor post office donned hoodies on Sunday evening to protest the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. They plan to rally again next Sunday.

There's a fungus among us: This season's hot, wet weather has yielded a bumper crop of plant diseases in the Northeast

Good news for local farmers: A long-planned slaughterhouse in Liberty may finally break ground next month

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressman Chris Gibson and Ulster County Executive Mike Hein paid a bipartisan visit to a Gardiner farm recently to tout the federal farm bill, currently bogged down in a Congressional dispute over food stamp funding. Thanks in part to Gillibrand's efforts, this year's bill includes crop insurance for "specialty" crops like fruit and root vegetables -- if the House and the Senate can agree on a version to pass.

The buyer of Rosendale's shuttered Tillson Elementary School is keeping mum about his plans for the building

The Freeman's getting a makeover.

Looks like this Arkville man had a little too much fun at the Margaretville Firemen's Carnival last week

Four young Greene County men were arrested in Hudson on Friday. Police say they interrupted a violent robbery in progress. 

A 19-year-old New Paltz man faces felony charges for allegedly running a paintball equipment scam

A 60-year-old Kingston man who was badly injured when his car ran off Route 28 in Ulster on July 7 has died of his injuries.

Unidentified people are reportedly fretting about the fact that Greene County bought its snazzy new tourism jeep across the river in Rhinebeck. The Daily Mail is on it

New cheesemaker on the block: Jos Vulto, a Brooklynite who's working with Delhi dairy farmer Dan Finn to produce artisanal cheeses out of a new facility in Walton. "Artisanal" is one of those overused words these days, but we're excited to try Vulto's wares: Look for them under the Vulto Creamery or Highlands of Glenburnie label.

The former jewels of the Borscht Belt could still be saved, say local architecture buffs. 

Saugerties's absentee landlords are dragging the place down

A disturbing majority of small-town residents in a recent poll think rural America is in deep trouble -- and the solutions they look for defy easy political categorization. 

Earlier this year, the state Department of Environmental Conservation got more than 200,000 comments on proposed hydrofracking regulations. What happened to the comments? Will the DEC ever respond to them? Gannett reporter Jon Campbell asks -- and the agency refuses to answer

This September, NYC schoolkids will be getting educational kayak tours of the Neversink Reservoir, thanks to a group called HarborLAB and a $10,000 grant from the Catskill Watershed Corporation. Quote of the day goes to HarborLAB founder Erik Baard:

"Mercifully, the kids needn't be steam cleaned," Baard said. "Normal kid dust won't affect the ecosystem of the reservoirs, which have fish and wildlife in and around them." 

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