Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association announces new executive board and more

What's going on in arts, leisure and the community December 29 to January 4

Posted 12/27/22

Milford United Methodist welcomes all

MILFORD, PA — On Sunday, December 11, the Milford United Methodist Church (MUMC) welcomed its district superintendent,  Rev. Dr. Eunice Vega-Perez, …

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Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association announces new executive board and more

What's going on in arts, leisure and the community December 29 to January 4


Milford United Methodist welcomes all

MILFORD, PA — On Sunday, December 11, the Milford United Methodist Church (MUMC) welcomed its district superintendent,  Rev. Dr. Eunice Vega-Perez, to dedicate and bless the new addition to the church’s main sign.  

The addition was made in response to a vote of the church’s membership to become a Reconciling Ministries congregation, recognizing MUMC as a church committed to welcoming everyone “to full participation in the life and ministry of the church,” according to a news release from the church.

The addition—and the vote—were celebrated during the service. A warm brunch followed, during fellowship.

“The sign addition,” stated the release, “announces to the public that the church is living out the tagline of the United Methodist denomination: ‘Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.’

To learn more about MUMC, its services and its involvement in the community, visit

Start the new year outdoors

HURLEYVILLE, NY — The public is invited to join Morgan Outdoors for a First Day Hike on Sunday, January 1 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Mongaup State Park.

All are invited to celebrate the New Year “with fresh air and friendly folks,” a spokesperson said. The outing follows a 2.2-mile loop trail that works for both beginners and more experienced hikers. The pathway meanders through a hemlock grotto with views across Frick Pond, across a trail intersection named for Times Square, and along the edge of a woodland meadow.

Waterproof hiking boots are recommended. Depending on trail conditions, snowshoes or traction devices like microspikes may be required. Microspike rentals are available at Morgan Outdoors.

A New Year’s toast will be held after the hike.

Participants must be 18 years of age and older. No pets this time. The event will be held unless there are hazardous driving conditions.

Registration is required, as the group size is limited.

The hike is led by Lisa Lyons, owner of Morgan Outdoors.

To register, email or call 845/693-4181. All registrants will receive updates on where to meet, what to bring, and trail conditions.

The hike is co-sponsored by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and Parks, with Morgan Outdoors.

Morgan Outdoors is located at 234 Main St.

Learn more at

Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association announces new executive board

LIBERTY, NY — The Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association (SCVA) has announced its new executive board for the 2023-2025 term.

Members of the executive board will lead the full SCVA board in the coming years, a spokesperson said.

Eric Frances will join the board as the new chair. He is the CEO of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.

Also joining is Scott Samuelson, COO of the Eldred Preserve. He will serve as vice chair of the executive board.

Franklin Trapp, producing artistic director of the Forestburgh Playhouse, will take over as secretary; and Tanya Hahn, executive vice president of Jeff Bank and co-owner of Hilly Acres Farm, will be return as treasurer.

The SCVA Board of Directors meet once a month to provide “leadership and insight into the organization, as well as supporting the mission of the Sullivan Catskills,” the spokesperson said. The board also provides oversight into many aspects of the SCVA.

Talya Regan, director of sales and marketing for the Kartrite Resort and Waterpark; and Rick Lander, owner of Lander’s River Trips, will serve on the executive committee.

Three people will join the SCVA board of directors in 2023—Matthew Orley, CEO at Red Cottage; Rocco Baldassari, general manager of Kittatinny Canoes/Fimfo Catskills/Cedar Rapids Restaurant/Northgate Resorts; and John Pizzolato, co-owner and co-founder of Stickett Inn and Stickett Inn Cider Company.

Richard Lowe, director of regional and economic development for Hancock Partners, will become the representative from the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway.

“We welcome these new board members and are so excited to have them join us,” stated Byron-Lockwood. “The fabric of the Sullivan Catskills is made up by entrepreneurial figures like these, who make our local businesses thrive.”

Sims Foster will remain on the executive board as immediate past chair.

“The Sullivan Catskills has not only retained its magical qualities, it is thriving in new and exciting ways thanks to the collective efforts put forth by the tourism industry,” said Frances. “I am excited to work more closely with the SCVA leadership and member organizations, who are determined like Bethel Woods, to attract even more visitors to our vibrant communities.”

For more information about the SCVA, call 845-747-4449 or visit

Supporting grandparents raising grandkids

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Addressing the rising number of multigenerational households across the state, Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski (D-121) recently hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on the increasing number of grandparents raising grandchildren, and the legislation and resources needed to support caregivers and children across Pennsylvania.

“I first became aware of this issue more than a decade ago, when I was fortunate enough to meet several heroes in our communities—grandparents who stepped in to raise their grandchildren for various reasons,” said Pashinski. “We passed three bills in 2018 to create important resources for grandparents, bills that I’m very proud will help thousands of people in need.”

His new legislation, House Bill 2858, would provide for legal services—including adoption—for kinship-care families.

Kinship care is the care of children by relatives who are not their parents, or by close family friends.

Held at the Henry Student Center at Wilkes University, the hearing consisted of grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, nonprofit founders and state officials. The hearing noted that the opioid epidemic has contributed to the number of kinship-care families; it also recognized that a multitude of reasons can lead to a family member stepping in to raise children.

“The stark reality is—and it happens for many reasons—grandparents raising grandchildren is a very real thing, and I know this has been going on for a very long time,” state Rep. Gina Curry (D-164) said. “I’m thinking about the stigma in talking about the need to take care of family and grandchildren, and I’m concerned about people in my district who are in an isolated place because they may encounter language or cultural obstacles.”

Karen Barnes, president and founder of the nonprofit Grands Stepping Up in Delaware County, noted that she has tried to work with numerous lawmakers and school districts to reach families that otherwise wouldn’t be contacted because of language or cultural obstacles.

“Caregivers, including grandparents who are raising grandchildren, often face a myriad of challenges, such as access to information about available benefits and resources, lack of adequate education and training, and financial assistance to help defray the costs of caregiving-related expenses,” said Steven Horner, deputy secretary of the PA Department of Aging. “The department’s caregiver support program, administered statewide through the 52 Area Agencies on Aging, provides resources and assistance that focus on the caregiver’s well-being and alleviate the stresses associated with caregiving.”

Kinship caregivers sometimes don’t have legal custody of their grandchildren, and they can struggle to find money to pay for essentials and child care. Often, according to a press release, they go without what they need.

Testifiers noted that one of the biggest fears facing grandparents—specifically those stepping in to help parents who are suffering from substance use disorder—is that Children & Youth Services, or the police, would intercede and take their grandchildren away.

Natalie Hoprich, a grandmother raising her grandchildren, said grandparents need to realize authorities are not attempting to break up households. In recent years, Hoprich said, she has noticed it has become more acceptable for grandparents to come forward, and hopes that more will do so in the future.

“We have to start treating these heroic people not as grandparents, but as the parents and caregivers they really are,” said state Rep. Maureen Madden (D-115). “Having been raised by a single dad and a grandmother, I know firsthand the challenges a family unit faces, and I am so grateful for the testifiers today for their tireless advocacy, their passion and, most importantly, their unquestionable love for their grandchildren. I’ve been proud to work closely with Rep. Pashinski over the years on improving services and resources for families in these situations, and I know our work is not yet done. This was an enlightening and sometimes heartbreaking hearing, and it’s critical that we continue to spread the word of available resources and erase the stigma some grandparents unnecessarily feel.”

For more information about this hearing and other hearings, visit

1199SEIU members testify in support of regulations for new nursing home laws

ALBANY, NY — New York’s Public Health and Health Planning Council met today to vote on regulations that would guide the implementation of two laws that were passed in 2021.

The first of those laws would require an average of 3.5 hours of care a day for each nursing home resident.

Prior to the law’s passage, there were no minimum staffing requirements in New York. In order to meet these standards, most owners of nursing homes will have to hire more caregivers.

Another law requires nursing home owners to spend 70 percent of revenue on quality resident care—and 40 percent of that must be for staffing.

The regulations were passed unanimously; industry representatives testified in opposition and stated their need for more funding in order to follow the law.

“There must be laws, because we have already seen that too many nursing home owners will not do what is necessary on their own,” said Annesa Brown, a C.N.A. (certified nursing assistant) at Yorktown Nursing Home, and a member of 1199SEIU. “Even when they make a lot of money, they always say they don’t have enough money for staff—they can’t afford it. So, now the law will require what should have been done a long time ago.”

Short-staffing has been going on for a long time, she said, “but it only became known to the public during the COVID pandemic. One wonders if we had not been through that tragedy, if the staffing issue would even be addressed now.”

A C.N.A. cannot do the job of giving compassionate care when there are 13 to 20 residents to care for at once, Brown said. “When this happens to me, I feel terrible that I have not been able to give my residents what they deserve. Caregivers like me wanted a job that helps people, wanted to be caregivers. We don’t want to leave the industry. But if we can’t afford to take care of our own families, how can we take care of others? Nursing-home owners must invest in staff. Then they will see that it is not all that difficult to recruit dedicated workers.”

What if you had someone you loved in care? Brown asked. What if it was you? The situation would look very different, she said.

Learn more about 1199SEIU at

Garnet Health bariatric surgery places in top 10 percent in U.S.

MIDDLETOWN, NY — Garnet Health Medical Center received a bariatric surgery excellence award from Healthgrades.

The Healthgrades award recognizes the top 10 percent of hospitals across the country in 17 specialty care areas. This achievement reflects Garnet Health Medical Center’s clinical outcomes for bariatric surgery and distinguishes them as one of the nation’s leading hospitals for bariatric surgery, according to a press release.

“Our bariatric surgery program delivers exceptional care by expert providers who are dedicated to outstanding patient outcomes,” said Rosemary Baczewski, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Garnet Health. “Our program is comprehensive and provides patients with treatment options and support every step of the way, leading to high success rates.”

Healthgrades’ analysis this year revealed significant variation in patient outcomes between hospitals with a Healthgrades specialty excellence award and hospitals that did not receive the award.

“We commend Garnet Health for their ongoing commitment to providing high-quality care to patients undergoing bariatric surgery,” said Brad Bowman, M.D., chief medical officer and head of data science at Healthgrades.

Garnet Health Medical Center was also recognized by Healthgrades for these 2023 bariatric clinical achievements: it was recognized for superior performance in bariatric surgery for the seventh year in a row. It placed among the top five percent of hospitals for bariatric surgery, and was in the top ten percent for the seventh year in a row.

It was also a five-star recipient for overall bariatric surgery for nine years in a row.

Consumers can visit Healthgrades at to learn more about how they measure hospital quality and find an overview of the complete methodology.

For more information on Garnet Health Medical Center’s bariatric program, visit

Sullivan Dems seek candidates

SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — The Sullivan County Democratic Committee is seeking letters of interest from Sullivan County residents who wish to receive the Democratic endorsement to run for countywide offices on November 7, 2023.

The offices to be voted on are the Sullivan County District Attorney (four-year term), Sullivan County Clerk (four-year term) and nine Sullivan County Legislators (four-year terms).

Email letters of interest and a brief resume to secretary Deanna Senyk at, or by mail to Anne Hart, chair of the Sullivan County Democratic Committee, PO Box 502, Kiamesha Lake, NY 12751.

Emails must be received by the close of business on January 15, 2023 and letters must be postmarked no later than January 15, 2023.

Peas please: Winter peas for food, not feed

NATIONWIDE — USDA MiCa, USDA Dint and USDA Klondike, the first winter pea cultivars specifically developed to be used whole or as an ingredient in human food, have been released by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

Winter or autumn-sown peas (Pisum sativum)—also called “black peas” or “field peas”—are annual legumes with excellent nitrogen-fixing abilities. They and related pea species originated in the eastern Mediterranean and western Asia.

Do not confuse these peas with cowpeas (Vigna unguiculata), which are also known as field peas, and are usually grown in the southern United States.

Currently, winter peas are mostly grown in the Pacific Northwest as a cover crop to add nitrogen to farmers’ fields, for domestic animal feed and to attract deer and other game species. They also are sometimes used in a crop rotation with winter wheat in semi-arid areas of the Pacific Northwest.

“With a typical rotation of winter wheat—summer fallow, farmers really need a broadleaf crop to improve the sustainability of the system. Still, until now winter peas haven’t provided enough of a return to be a cash crop,” said geneticist Rebecca McGee with the ARS Grain Legume Genetics Physiology Research Unit in Pullman, WA. “Fall-sown, food quality, winter peas are poised better to fill that gap biologically and economically.”

But winter peas have much more potential value as an ingredient for human foods, an ARS spokesperson said. These three new varieties offer several prized qualities. They have high protein levels with a nearly complete amino acid profile. Peas lack the allergens common in soybeans and peanuts, which are often the supplier of protein. The peas have a favorable, low glycemic index number. Finally, winter peas are not genetically modified—all of their development is being done with traditional breeding.

As a food ingredient, winter peas can be used to provide the protein in protein-starch-fiber slurries used as part of producing nondairy milk, energy bars, non-wheat flour pastas, and baked goods. Some of the food products that contain pea protein as an ingredient include Beyond Meats, numerous brands of protein powder, and many trail mixes.

Winter Austrian peas were first introduced to the Pacific Northwest, primarily in Idaho, in 1932. When World War II curtailed the availability of nitrate fertilizers, many farmers turned to winter Austrian peas as a replacement. But the small, dark-colored peas were not acceptable for human food use.

“Still, U.S. regulations remained on the books that allowed only spring-planted peas to be sold in the food quality markets,” said McGee. “Once the regulations were changed in 2009 so the quality characteristics of the harvested seeds, not the planting season, dictated the purposes for which the crop can be sold, it allowed winter peas to enter the much more economically rewarding food quality distribution channels and opened the potential for widespread winter pea production.”

McGee began her breeding program in 2010, selecting for human food-oriented traits.

The three new varieties are MiCa, Dint and Klondike.

Milford United Methodist Church, Morgan Outdoors, hike, Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association, grandparents, nursing laws, bariatric surgery excellence, Sullivan County Democratic Committee, winter pea cultivars


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