Multi-million-dollar stream-repair project draws conjecture and a visit

— Photo from John R. Williams

Pointing the way: The Old Men of the Mountain took a field trip to Huntersland to see work being done to the Little Schoharie Creek. Harold Guest, at left, points to a giant chipper, while next to him, John Rossman, center, Frank Pauli, and, in the foreground, Roger Chapman take in the scene. The project is scheduled for completion by Jan. 1.

— Photo from John R. Williams

Under construction: In the wake of destruction by tropical storm Irene and Lee in 2011, the Little Schoharie Creek is undergoing massive changes along 30,000 feet. It comprises about half of the total work to be done on the repair and stabilization project. Other areas are Line Creek, Platter Kill, and unnamed tributaries on Dave Brown Mountain Road. Schoharie County received funds from the Natural Resources Conservation Service Emergency Watershed Protection program and New York State to repair and stabilize streams heavily damaged in 2011. Schoharie County was awarded the largest amount ever under the EWP program in New York State; according to the requests for proposals document, the projects total an estimated $21,150,980.

Tuesday, Nov. 4, was a busy day for this scribe. The Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh, and the OFs had a guest who interviewed some of them as part of her college assignment. Who knows what stories were related and the guest, for the most part, was like the proverbial fly on the wall.

The OFs were discussing all the work that is going on along the Little Schoharie Creek. There was a lot of conjecture as to what this work was being done for. The price thrown around by the OFs for this project was $23 million, so some of the OFs decided to go and see what was going on for themselves and this scribe was one of them.

Anyone familiar with the little hamlet of Huntersland, which is tucked between two mountains in the Schoharie Valley, would wonder why such a project was being done there. 

The OFs traveled to a spot where they could pull off the main road and they stopped and saw just a small portion of the project.  They remembered how small streams during Tropical Storm Irene filled up and competed with the Hudson River.

However, the water cascading down the hill in the Little Schoharie Creek was now, in 2014, just a little over what comes out of the tap when filling the tub. The OFs noticed some huge logging equipment running, and the chipper used to chip up the trees was large enough to take a full-size automobile.

The OFs could not understand why such a project was there in Huntersland.  One OF said that there had to be some studies done to show that the Huntersland area could be one of the places that caused all the problems downstream during that horrendous storm in August of 2011 that devastated the valley, and the area is still dealing with the aftermath.

Glad the ads are over

Some of the OFs were glad on Tuesday that Election Day was finally here; now they will be able to turn their TVs back on. One OF said, no wonder there is such gridlock, how can either party work with another one when the political ads are so vindictive, and mean-spirited.

Another OF thought that the media must charge more for these political ads because how else can these low-life ads bump off Raymour & Flanigan, or even Huge, along with all the other car ads. Where did they go? There is only so much time for ads. It has to be money.

Can you imagine talking about your friends and neighbors the way these politician portrayed  each other and then have to go to work with them? One OF thought it was disgraceful on both sides. Who would want to get into politics and be treated like that?

Just imagine your kids having to go to school while the TV is touting every 20 minutes that your mom or dad, is corrupt, or a crook, or a liar. No wonder it is so hard to get people enthused about becoming active in politics.

“Back in Time”

One OF brought up the column called “Back in Time” (a hundred years ago) that is always in The Enterprise and how many times it is not only informative, but shows what the times were like.  One hundred years ago would place the current days in 1914, and World War I started on July 28, 1914, and that time we were beginning to see cars, planes, phones, and cameras.

What was interesting in a past issue of The Enterprise was that the United States Post Office put a stop to shipping animals through the post office. One OF mentioned that, occasionally, when he reads it, there are at times local names mentioned that he can associate with.

Looking at some of the OFs, 100 years ago was not that far away. One of the OFs is approaching 90, so the OG was born just a few years after the First World War ended. No wonder the names may sound familiar — their relatives may even have been at his home.

Putting it that way, 100 years ago is not the far back, but one heck of lot has happened between then and now.

Seasons change

The OFs commented on how long the leaves have hung on the trees and displayed their colors this year. This scribe thinks that this may be a topic of conversation in many places — how great this fall has been.

The OFs say winter is coming and, the more weather we get like this, the shorter the winter will be.

One OF asked, “Which is better, a long mild winter, or a short hard winter?”

“Why do we have to make a choice?” another OG responded. “Why not just have a short mild winter, as long as we are getting our druthers?”

“Winters are necessary,” one other chimed in. “Look at all the people that depend on winter. The ski resorts, the gin mills, the snowmobile trails, the snowplow operators, even the people that make winter gear. The list is long of people that depend on winter for their livelihood. They want a long, hard winter.”

“Well,” another OG said, “seeing as I can’t run away from it, I vote for a short mild winter, and let those other guys sell shorts instead of sweaters.” Three cheers for that one.

Those OFs that made it to the Middleburgh Dinner and taking whatever season it is in stride were: John Rossmann, Harold Guest, George Washburn, Dave Williams, 
Frank Pauli, Roger Shafer, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, Otis Lawyer, Don Woods, Mace Porter, Mark Traver, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Duncan Bellinger, Bill Krause, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gil Zabel, Harold Grippen, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, and me. (Oh, and the secret special guest.)

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