Friday, July 5, 2013

Scholar in Residence Weekend

Danny Maseng
I take great personal pleasure in announcing the return of the charismatic Danny Maseng to Sullivan County. This will be a special visit
to Congregation Agudas Achim in Livingston Manor from July 12th to 14th for a weekend of spiritual uplift, music, storytelling, prayer and study. This will be one of the most exciting events in their 100th Anniversary celebration. Danny was the synogogue's spiritual leader from 1994-1999.  Through him they discovered a unique spirituality and love of music during services.  Since he left our region, he has become a major figure in modern Judaism.  Please visit his website Danny to discover more about this dynamic person.  You will be able to enjoy samples of his storytelling and music.  He is currently chazzan for Temple Israel in of Hollywood, CA.  He also helps train Rabbis and Cantors for URJ.  In addition, he is an acclaimed inspirational performer who has delighted audiences throughout the Jewish world. He has also appeared in numerous television shows and documentaries.

The scholar-in-residence experience will begin with a Shabbat Service starting at 8:00PM on Friday night on July 12th. Saturday evening July 13th is the highlight of the weekend, an intimate concert preceded by Havdalah at 7:30PM in the Temple sanctuary.  Sunday morning July 14th, Torah Study will begin at 10:00AM  There will be a $40 charge for the Saturday night concert. There is no charge for Shabbat Services or the Torah Study.  Please mail checks to Bob & Lynne Freedman at 3 Johnston Rd. Livingston Manor, NY 12758. Contact them at 845-439-5708 or by email at for more information and reservations.
Please encourage your friends and relatives to share this wonderful scholar-in-residence program.  It is the opportunity of lifetime to enrich the Jewish identity in Sullivan County.  The concert will be appropriate for teens and non-Jews.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ambitious Hike

Jhaquiel Reagan - photo provided
 It is often said that "Good help is hard to find."  That's why Indianapolis restaurant owner, Art Bouvier, was so impressed when he observed teenager, Jhaquiel Reagan,  walking 10 miles in freezing weather and snow to a minimum wage job interview at a Dairy Queen. The two had crossed paths accidentally when the 18 year old stopped in the Papa Roux parking lot to verify directions. Bouvier noted that there were still 6 or 7 more miles ahead and that Reagan ought to take the bus. Unfortunately, Reagan knew he didn't have bus fare so he just kept right on walking. The young man was no stanger to adversity since he had been taking care of his younger siblings since their mom had passed away two years earlier.

When Bouvier observed Reagan still walking some 20 minutes down the road, he knew he had to step in and offer the youth a ride the rest of the way. He was also a great judge of character and understood that someone with this much drive would be an excellent employee. He made him a second offer - a job offer at the Papa Roux cajun cafe. Reagan accepted and the story was posted on Facebook. The story went viral! IndyGo, the Indianapolis public transportation authority, has donated a year's supply of bus passes to Jhaqueil. Other donations continued pouring in and the pair have created a foundation to help other underprivileged teens who are looking for work.

Jhaquiel Reagan is delighted with his new job and I'll guess Art Bouvier is enjoying the benefits of a hardworking employee as well as priceless exposure for his restaurant, and most of all the knowledge that he followed his heart and it guided him well.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sonny Smith, an Original!

Photo by Carol Montana, The Catskill Chronicle
If you lived in Sullivan County and listened to WSUL Radio during the 1980's, you surely must remember the unique voice of Sonny Smith, shouting "Staaaanley" in all of their ads. Sonny and her husband, Stanley, were the owners of Smith Shoes for as far back as I can remember.  Their mom and pop store was located on Main Street in South Fallsburg and remained in business with their special customer service for as long as they could, up against the big box stores and chain places in the Middletown malls.

I had the privilege of hearing Sonny Smith speak of her beloved Stanley all day this past Saturday.  One of the many, many roles this busy lady has is a volunteer instructor for a Defensive Driving Class, which is conveniently offered in South Fallsburg at the local Senior Center.  Your insurance agent will tell you that it is very good for you to take the course from a certified instructor at least once every three years.  Not only does it help you to be a safer driver but it also reduces your insurance premium by 10%.  You may ask, what Stanley Smith has to do with Defensive Driving, and the answer would be nothing.  Yet Sonny has the knack of making the class so much more interesting by peppering it with the occasional anecdote and personal observation.  At a spritely 85 years young, Sonya "Sonny" Smith has a great many observations and stories to keep the packed class moving.  She is also extremely civic minded and these courses help to support the Fallsburg Fire Department, an organization she has been passionately dedicated to for many years.  She is also community minded and had menus from a local restaurant on hand so that the course participants could easily patronize a local Main Street business.

For more information about a Defensive Driving Course in New York, please visit  the New York Safety Council.  Or, better yet, take the class with Sonny Smith but don't ever, ever make her sing to you while out driving in traffic!  It means you've been naughty.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Storm A'Coming

Rainbow of Hope & Promise
So, who is your favorite source for weather reports and what are they forecasting? Everyone is talking snow and it does sound like it's pretty sure to be a big, serious snow. The critical questions are How Much and When? Depending on who you talk to, it might be anywhere from 4 inches locally to something that rivals the Blizzard of 1978. I certainly remember those images of buried cars in Buffalo, New York.

With no way to change the weather, I offer my hope that we all stay warm and safe. Please make good, reasonable choices. I share this Rainbow with you as a reminder that the sun will shine again, everything will eventually melt, and spring will be here in just 6 more weeks.

Local Weather Forecast

Thursday, January 24, 2013

"ARE YOU O.K." Program

Town of Fallsburg Police - provided photo
The Town of Fallsburg Police Department truly understands the slogan "To Serve and Protect." They have just begun the "ARE YOU O.K." Program throughout our community. The program will consist of monthly well-being checks on elderly or homebound residents and will help develop support connections for these individuals. The intent is to develop a database with relevant contact information and special needs notations with the consent of the participants. To be included, the person must be a Town of Fallsburg resident, and be 65 years old or older, and in poor health, or be homebound. With the current bitter, bitter cold temperatures, I, for one, am especially glad this project is being initiated. This concept was inspired by the tragedy at the Grandview Palace, when it was realised that there are many elderly citizens in our community who were in need of critcal services and contact resources.

For a full list of program criteria, please click here and call Officer Jason Edwards at 845-434-4422. Consider your neighbors who may be in need of this valued support.  And Thanks to our Police force for being Fallsburg's finest!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Most Powerful Woman in Music

ICM's Marsha Vlasic (left) with Julie Greenwald of
Atlantic Records Group (Photo: Arnold Turner)
I heard some stunning news yesterday - the happy kind.  I learned that Wurtsboro native, Julie Greenwald, was again named Billboard's "most powerful woman in music." I've known several talented members of the Greenwald family, who are our neighbors in Wurtsboro, but I only knew of them being skilled in either business or in their Law practices.

In reading several articles on, I discovered that Ms Greenwald has made a highly respected name for herself in the music industry with Atlantic Records Group. Billboard honors such achievements at their annual Women in Music Awards. We have all shared the pride in the meteoric rise of our other local music celebrity, Gavin DeGraw of South Fallsburg.  Learning about Julie Greenwald's accomplishments was all new to me. She topped the female executives list for the third consecutive year as Atlantic Records Group co-chairman/COO.

The Women in Music 2012 event was a huge gala, held at Capitale in New York. A highlight of the evening was recognition of the "Woman of the Year," Katy Perry.  In her acceptance speech on Friday she told the crowded audience, "I am not a feminist, but I do believe in the strength of women. . . I don't really like to call myself a role model for my fans. I hope that I am an inspiration for them, especially young women. My mantra, especially for the 'Part Of Me' film, was: If you believe in yourself, you can be anything."  Both Katy Perry and Julie Greenwald are living proof of this philosophy.  We congratulate Ms Greenwald and the entire Greenwald family.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


I'm guessing that I'm not the only one who is sick to tears of hearing about Black Friday & Cyber Monday. This is why I was especially thrilled today to hear about a very new movement that seems to sincerely capture the spirit of this giving season. Today is #Giving Tuesday. The founding partners, which include great organizations like our good friends at the 92nd Street Y, are encouraging all to "Get out the Give." If you visit the site at you will find a lot of large corporations and organizations who are already on board with a variety of ways to help your contributions go farther, as well as an Ideas page with creative gestures we can all make within our own communities. This can include simple acts like bringing a non-perishable item to a local food pantry; or a baked treat to a public servant like our police, firefighters or ambulance volunteers; or visit a senior center to spend some time brightening the residents' day.  

After days of excessive focus on shopping, doorbusters and mega sales, I find this launch of #GivingTuesday to be a very welcome change. The site also shows ways to maintain the spirit of giving beyond just the day.  We can remember those who are less fortunate for the rest of the month as well as throughout the year. This becomes even more imperative during difficult economic times. We all have something to give. If you don't have discretionary income, there might still be gently used items and clothing in your home, and always time to give of yourself. The Mountaindale Community Development Project is always looking for volunteers who might like to help out in Mountaindale. Many other Sullivan County organizations can also use a hand. On this #GivingTuesday, how will You give back?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Welcome Back!

Glorious Fall by Rachel
Somehow, the past couple of months have positively flown by in a complete blur. I apologize for not having an opportunity to post for a while. I wanted to keep this site out of the election ruckus, but then got incredibly busy with all kinds of things going on in Mountaindale, Hurricane Sandy, wonderful new business developments, and all the community groups I support. I want to thank the many, many readers who still checked in regularly and went back to re-read some of the older postings that are archived on this site.

Some interesting things have been occurring locally.  We congratulate Chef Robert Uccelli of Uccelli Restaurant for reaching a one year anniversary in Mountaindale a few weeks ago. This is an important milestone for a Sullivan County restaurant. We also see a lot of growth in Mountain Charm Market Cafe on the corner, which is filling a big need we had in our community. Please stop in for coffee or lunch if you haven't already done so. Classes have resumed with Janet Gula of Radiant Yoga of Mountaindale. Upstate Karate of Mountaindale enjoyed a few very busy events. Studio owner, Alexandra Lalieu was recently promoted to 5th Dan Master level and celebrated by hosting the annual fall Region 2 Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Testing. It was held at the Fallsburg High School and brought between 100 and 200 visitors to the Town of Fallsburg last month. Upstate Karate also held a Buddy Week and it was wonderful to see so many friends and parents participating in classes all week. For anyone who comes to town to visit Evadne Gianinni at HospitalityGreen, she can be found in their new location at 58 Main Street in Mountaindale.

Lastly, please stay tuned for news from Louisa Pabon of Verde & Co, our local sofrito verde manufacturer. She is hoping to re-open the cafe and offer a special pre-order menu, with both single serving and family sized take out portions. I am also trying to convince her to offer some evening cooking classes for some of her special cuisine. The items would include delicious sofrito and might instruct in dishes like empanadas, eggrolls and soups. Please let me know if this would be of interest to you - 845-434-4747, so I can encourage her to schedule this sooner.

I hope you are enjoying the glorious autumn landscape above and to the right by Rachel. She is currently taking a Photography class at the Fallsburg High School with Pam Garritt. Ms Garritt is the wonderful teacher who previously helped Mountaindale build the flower planter boxes as part of a Technology Ed student class assignment. With Rachel's enthusiasm and assistance, we will be updating the photos on the blog for the season.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Heavy Metal Comedy

David Brodsky of MyGoodEye music visuals
Whoever knew death metal could be so funny? A group of us found out on Main Street in Mountaindale on Sunday as we pushed the limit on every vaudville type gag we could think of during the video shoot for the popular heavy metal band, Revocation. The production company in charge of this project was our good friends at MyGoodEye. David Brodsky and his talented crew have been coming to Mountaindale to shoot music videos in a number of our buildings for quite a few years now. It's always a treat when they come and wonderful to see some of the award winning videos after they are finished and released to the public.

Patiently awaiting their cue, already in make up
When they come, they usually bring their own professional team for lighting, sound, make up, and extras. However, this particular project required some mature extras who could look like audience members at a musical performance in the day room of a nursing home.  The plot of the video is that it is the future and the adorable guys of Revocation never stopped rocking and they are now doing a reunion show while in their eighties.  Allison Woest, the producer gave me an exciting task.  She told me I could invite some of my friends to be extras on the nursing home set. I was pretty thrilled because my friends include Carol Montana, editor of the Catskill Chronicle, and the actress/producer who brought "A Coupla White Chicks" to this same venue in Mountaindale a few years ago. My other friends include seasoned actors who are members of the Sullivan County Dramatic Workshop like Ellen Pavloff, Tom DelFavero & Richard Topper. Several other local pals rounded out our little cast. Everyone were great sports and participated in fun bits like playing air guitar with their canes, flirting with the "senior citizen" band, and Rich Topper was willing to do multiple takes as a dirty old man who grabs his young, pretty nurse's behind. Poor guy! All of our little stunts were so funny, it was hard to keep a straight face.  We can hardly wait for SCION to release this video next month. I will update the link on this site when it does. ROCK ON!

October Update - And heeeeere's the video

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hummingbird Happiness

Ed Frampton Hummingbird Photo
In the next few months, our area will have a number of visitors known as Leaf Peepers who come to see the spectacular colors of autumn as our trees prepare for winter. However, those who visit Mountaindale now will be in for a very special treat. Our resident ruby throated hummingbirds LOVE their neighborhood, with the numerous hummingbird feeders on Main Street and hummingbird attracting flowers in town,

This month, the 'hummingbird ballet' will particularly delight our Hummingbird Hailers because the immature babies that hatched this summer are now able to seek their own food, and are doing it in droves. Certain feeders in town are especially popular and it's possible to see several feeding simultaneously while others are chirping, hovering and jockeying for position. A deliveryman who was visiting Eddie's Mountaindale Inn was quite impressed recently and remarked that Mountaindale seems to have more hummingbirds than he sees anywhere else on his Mid Hudson route. The other day at Upstate Karate of Mountaindale, a child exclaimed, "I see hummingbirds!" His mother replied, "Yes, Dear," in that mommy way. So I explained that her child REALLY was seeing hummingbirds so they sat for a bit on the karate school porch to watch the acrobatic antics.

Now that our community has a new business, Mountain Charm Market Cafe & Deli, you can now pick up a delicious cup of steaming coffee or tea, and even a sandwich while you relax and watch the non-stop entertainment provided all day by these ruby throated jewels. The cafe also offers free WiFi to customers so you can even enjoy nature outside while you work comfortably on your laptop. We hope to see you in town to enjoy our wonderful hummingbirds before they start their big trip down South in early October. Then you can come back and enjoy our fall foliage,

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Shlemiels & Shlimazels

Paramount's "Dinner for Schmucks"
I was recently trying to explain the Yiddish meaning of the words Shlemiels & Shlimazels to a non-Jewish friend. He wasn't familiar with the expressions so I guess Laverne & Shirley must not be any of the reruns he watches. The terms could be explained by the recent movie, "Dinner for Schmucks," in which Steve Carell does an amazing job of portraying a lovable Shlemiel with Paul Rudd as the unfortunate Shlimazel whose life is irrevocably changed by their chance meeting.

The comedic value of Shlemiels & Shlimazels will be further explored on Wednesday, August 29, at 7:30PM at the Ethelbert Crawford Public Library at 393 Broadway in Monticello. They will host a special evening lecture by Ruth Adler, entitled "Faces of Jewish Humor: The Saga of the Shlemiel and the Shlimazel."

Humor has served as an effective tool for addressing adverse circumstances. Jewish writers have availed themselves of it in good measure. The shlemiel and the shlimazel - the clumsy oaf and the hapless fool - have been favorite prototypes of Jewish humor. The three famed classicists of Yiddish literature, Mendele, Sholem Aleichem, and Peretz, have made extensive use of these prototypes to pinpoint human foibles, sometimes with empathy and compassion, at other times, with a satiric edge.

In this presentation, we will describe the travails of the shlemiel and the shlimazel as they have been depicted in the writings of the three major East-European writers, and also explore their appearance in earlier periods. In our journey, we are sure to detect echoes of the shlemiel and the shlimazel in contemporary society, and perhaps learn to laugh at our own foibles as we go about our mundane activities.

This lecture is free and open to the public and sponsored by the New York Council for the Humanities, a state-affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. This program is free and opens to the public. For more information call the library at 845-794-4660.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Support Trails Funding

The O&W Rails to Trails linear park is a very valuable recreational asset for Mountaindale, Woodridge and the Town of Fallsburg. We are a Healthy Trails, Healthy People community, who has received funding and support from Parks & Trails New York. We have been advised that future funding may be in jeopardy unless we help to secure New York State’s federal funding for trails and bicycling and walking.  The new federal transportation bill allows New York State to opt out completely from the Recreational Trails Program as well as transfer half of the funds that can and should be used for trails, complete streets, and other bicycle-pedestrian infrastructure that supports active transportation to road building. 

Please join with scores of other organizations and local governments across the state by signing the letter below, asking Governor Cuomo to:

a.      Continue the popular Recreational Trails program – a program that has pumped more than $19 million into our economy, aided 280 motorized and nonmotorized trail projects, and leveraged $12 million since the program began in 1993.

b.      Preserve all eligible funding for trails and active transportation funding and not transfer any to road building

c.      Make existing, unspent Transportation Enhancement dollars available immediately to communities for another round of grant applications. 

We must make ourselves heard by August 15.  September first is the deadline for the Governor to decide the future of the Recreational Trails program. 

It takes two clicks
1.      Read the letter
2.      Sign on   (I just did)

Thank you for standing up for trails and active transportation!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Garden Club Tour

Shawangunk Garden Club at Railway Station
Many green thumbs were united today as members of the Shawangunk Garden Club visited Mountaindale today for a tour of the numerous beautiful plantings around our community. The tour was hosted by members of the Mountaindale Action Committee and the Mountaindale Community Development Project (MCDP) and coordinated by neighbor, Susan Cioffi. Susan has been an area resident for several decades and was looking forward to proudly sharing her town with her friends.

Hummingbird Feeders, Hanging Baskets &
Planter Boxes on Main Street

We began bright and early at the Mountaindale Railway Station for a closer look at the beautiful landscaping outside and the unique historical photographs inside, We then walked over to the Hummingbird Garden to see the hummingbirds, butterflies and swallows flying acrobatically overhead. The tour continued as a leisurely stroll down Post Hill Road and Main Street to admire our train themed new banners and colorful planters, planted by local girl scouts & karate school families, as well as the rock garden maintained by Hospitality Green. We continued on to the Firehouse to admire the lovely flower garden that the Mountaindale Action Committee planted along the inner courtyard of the building, which leads to stairs to the gateway to the O&W Rails to Trails.

We admired a few more of their berm gardens and then headed to their other flower gardens at Quiat Road and Hatt Road. Everyone was given one of the new Town of Fallsburg O&W Rail Trail brochures to get a better understanding of how these locations fit into the original railway track line. At Quiat Road, our guests enjoyed seeing the historical Signal House and  one of the newly installed interpretive signs. A total of 4 interpretive signs were designed by the O&W Rails to Trails Committee and paid for in part, by a grant from Parks & Trails NY. A lot of the labor for the sign installation was an in kind donation from Bugsy Bennett, but more on that in the future.

The club members enjoyed a delicious lunch at Uccelli Restaurant. We all had a wonderful time together. The best part was learning from each other as many gardening tips were shared. If I can speak for the Action Committee members, I think it's also very gratifying to have new visitors express their appreciation for all that is done to make Mountaindale one of the more attractive communities around. The Shawangunk Garden Club invited everyone to a public reception for their Photo Flower Show on Saturday, August 18th from noon to 3PM in the Gallery of the Ellenville Public Library at 40 Center Street in Ellenville. All are welcome.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

3rd Annual Sullivan Striders Rail Trail Race

We were blessed with perfect racing weather on Sunday for the 3rd Annual Sullivan Striders Race/Walk on the Town of Fallsburg Rails to Trails. The deluge started AFTER everyone went home & the electronic timing devices were removed. There were 84 participants who completed the race by crossing the finish line.

The winner of the 4 Mile Race was a 39 year old neighbor from Wurtsboro, NY, Raymond Revell, who finished with a time of 23:44.3. That's an impressive average pace of 5.56 Minutes per mile!  Even more inspiring was William Rosenberg, a 71 year old runner from Wallkill, NY, who finished the race in just under 35 minutes.  Please visit Race Results for the full listing of all runner & walker stats.  

Janet Gula and Alexandra Lalieu
There was also great support from several of our Main Street Mountaindale businesses.  Janet Gula of Radiant Yoga of Mountaindale led a pre-race stretch to help everyone prepare their muscles. Alexandra Lalieu of  Upstate Karate of Mountaindale strongly encouraged her students to participate in full karate uniform so that there were 16 students & their families involved in the activity. Joan Collins, Woodridge Village Board Member and Kiwanian, was the Grand Marshall and started everyone on the race. The Mountaindale Fire Company permitted the Firehouse to serve as the registration base, and the Mountaindale Action Commitee assisted the Striders in hosting and providing refreshments. As usual, everyone was greeted by our delightful former Legislady, Leni Binder. Although she no longer holds public office, she is still a very active community volunteer. Speaking of volunteers, the Mountaindale Ambulance Squad stood ready to help anyone in need, and there was great support from Woodridge Kiwanis and the Village of Woodridge who are both important members of the Town of Fallsburg Rail Trail Committee.

It was also nice to see the runners supporting each other.  When one runner mentioned she was disappointed that she hadn't improved her run time of 43 minutes since last year, veteran runner Brian Cavanaugh suggested she do some upper body strength training to overcome her plateau. The morning ended nicely with the awarding of beautiful plants as prizes from the Manza Family Farm. Maryann and Tom Manza deserve a huge round of applause for all of their hard work in coordinating this significant fundraiser for the Rail Trail. You can find out how to join the Sullivan Striders running club at Click here for more Race Day photos.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

9th Annual Francis Currey Day

This Saturday marks the 9th Annual Francis Currey Day at Morningside Park in Hurleyville, New York. Currey Day is a wonderful local free fun day for the whole family. It includes musical performances by favorites like David & Julie Bloch and the wonderful Rausch Brothers band.  There will also be dancing, games, rides, displays, food vendors and a spectacular Fireworks display at dusk. I always especially enjoy the raising of the ginormous flag.

However, let us not lose sight that the purpose of this gala event is to honor our home grown hero, Francis Currey, the winner of the prestigious Congressional Medal of Honor for his valor during a particularly difficult battle during WW II.  This is our nation’s highest military award. Here is a brief summary of his heroic act from NY State Senator John Bonacic's site:

An automatic rifleman with Company K, 120th Infantry, 30th Infantry Division, Sergeant Currey, only 19 years old at the time, and his platoon of 30 men were assigned to defend the small Belgian town of Malmedy with little more than small arms. Facing a column of German tanks intent on flanking his battalion, Currey repeatedly braved enemy fire to inflict heavy losses on the enemy, rescue five American soldiers that had been pinned down, and thwarted the enemy advance.

The event is sponsored by the Town of Fallsburg, Thunder 102 radio and Party Master, Perry Gip. On a personal note, I must commend Perry & his crew for the fabulous Olympic Gold themed decorations they did for the recent Graduation Ceremonies at Fallsburg High School. For more information, please call the Town of Fallsburg at 845-434-8810 or Morningside Park at 845-434-5877