It has not been a quiet month here in GreeneLand. Two big boxes sprang open, as did several small ones.
Lowes Home Improvement opened at Catskill Commons, with a ceremonial picture of a board-sawing instead of a ribbon-cutting. Its prices, our informants say, are competitive with Home Depot (whereas in match-ups in other towns, they have been higher). Meanwhile, home-grown builders’ supplier Dunns is still eminently competitive—especially for buyers who need their loads to be delivered.
Wal-Mart’s gigantic (200,000 square feet) store opened, with thousands of customers and gawkers passing through on the first day. Our spies say a 24-pack of soda costs $5 at Wal-Mart, $7 at PriceChopper (so we did round upward by a penny) and TV dinners cost less too; but for fresh produce, PriceChopper is best. Meanwhile, a disarming note: enormous as it is, variegated as it is, the Catskill Wal-Mart does not sell firearms. Ammunition, yes; guns, no. That observation comes from columnist Dick Nelson—who in this matter is credible, even though as a writer he is apt to confound roll with role and to endorse the fiction that the sum of one ranger plus one ranger is two “ranger’s”.
Turning to smaller boxes, we venture to report that:
**The new Stella’s Lounge, at Catskill Point, is doing brisk weekend business, and deservedly so, with fine musical entertainment. Lex Grey filled the place to overflowing last week when she varied her usual rock diva output in favor of songs from the 1920’s and 1930’s.
**The Muddy Cup on Main Street, across from the County office building in Catskill, has opened on a 15-hours-a-day schedule and invitations to sip slowly. Modeled by owners Jim Spetz and Brian Woodward on their eponymous Hudson shop, it is touted as a gathering place for conversation, reading, Net-surfing, writing and occasional music-making. And landlord Frank Cuthbert, the mogul of upper Main Street, has just returned from a trip to Brazil, fired with the idea of extending his property holdings to Rio de Janeiro, so as to foster exchanges of music and, uh, thongs.
**Purple Heart clothing salon at 396 Main Street, Catskill, after a lingering illness, expired.
**"Catskill gets sauce from Saugerties” is the headline on a TimesUnion report that Wolfgang Brandl is moving his gourmet sauces business up here. He is buying a moribund 6000 square foot facility at 117 Cauterskill Road, behind and above PriceChopper . Bolstered by a $160,000 low-interest Quantum Fund loan, he plans to invest $320,000 in the place, which originated as a planned bakery but never got under way. His refrigerated pasta sauces are marketed under private labels by Dean & DeLuca,Gourmet Garage, Grace’s Market Place,TheAmish Markets, Raffetto’s and Adams Fairacre Farms.
**Targeted for restoration is the venerable Cairo Diner, which flourished back when a cup of coffee cost a dime. At a recent fund-raiser for that purpose, in the Town Hall, participants bought raffle tickets for a new Ron Tunison sculpture, “Union Drummer Boy,” as well as autographed copies of historian Robert Uzzilia’s book, Portrait of the Past.
**Summit Hill Athletic Club has just entered into its 21st year of operation on Route 9W in Catskill. Current membership, reports co-owner Paul Mademann, is about 600 bodies (more or less sculpted). Most senior of members are Ray and Claudia Bracaliello, who have been there from the get-go.
REFILL AHEAD. Since Rite Aid Corporation has swallowed Eckerd, we can expect one of the parent drugstore company's adjacent outlets here to be closed. That would create a vacant big box, with plentiful parking. A Best Buy? A gourmet grocery? [Inserted 1/29, 8 a.m.]
WINDFALL. GreeneLander Tammy Coats scored a big win in the New York Lottery’s Jubilee game; BUT she was portrayed falsely as GreeneLand’s third lottery millionaire (along with James Maher of Windham and, 11 years ago, Kenneth Weeks of Hannacroix). The Climax resident, who works at the Stewart’s Shop in Greeenville, will receive $50,000 in each of the next 20 years. The Daily Mail’s picture shows her (along with three unidentified men) holdng a magnified $1 million check, but nothing of the sort actually was given to her. Lottery officials call her prize a $1 million win, but it’s effectively a lot less than that when the full amount will only be doled out in the course of 20 years, even though taking the full amount immediately would entail a huge income tax payment. As pointed out by Edward Ugel in today’s New York Times, “the lump sum is much preferable”; “you can invest it, earn interest on it, and be protected against inflation.” You can buy your new house, live in it, profit from its gain in market value.
PROSE is a who as well as a what. Francine is her first name. And her vocation is--would you believe?--writing. A specialist in cultural satire, Ms Prose gave a talk recently in Hunter as part of the Catskill Mountain Foundation’s Readers & Writers series.
TOP PERFORMER in GreeneLand real estate brokering in 2006, with sales of 51 units in deals totaling almost $7 million, is Ronnie McCue. Being Number One is a familiar position for Ronnie. Her firm, Rip Van Winkle Realty, also led the pack.
DAILY MAUL: “He…unloaded the lumber—donated by the big box store that had not been used for its own construction—to the Community Center.” Frank Stabile was saluted with mementos “in recognition of his distinguished service from the [GCCC’s] Board of Trustees.” “Containing a conference room, De Lucia, who has an art bachelor’s degree, the artificial stones resemble those a farmer would have taken from the fields to form his first house.” In one issue (1/23) all stories on a page headlined “Neighbors” were home-county stories. Nearly all stories on the facing page, also headlined “Neighbors,” were home-county stories, and one (“St Pat’s accepting registrations for fall”) was an exact copy of what appeared on the previous page. On the "Greene County” page the lead story was not a Greene County story.
“PSYCHIC SENSES” is the topic of a workshop slated for the Cairo Public Library this Saturday ($10; 622-9864). Conductor Michele Curtis--billed as energy body worker, massage therapist, Reiki Master and Interfaith minister--promises to elucidate what those senses “can contribute to your life.” Which finesses questions about their existence.