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September 24, 2011

Reporter's Notebook: Owner tries to claim insurance with arson

Main Street in Margaretville had more than just historic floods to contend with in recent weeks.

Hurricane Irene may have devastated parts of the Catskill Mountain village, but a fire that broke out in a Main Street apartment building last weekend was poised to cause more havoc in the battered community, according to Margaretville Mayor Bill Stanton.

The fire struck at about 10 a.m. Saturday morning in an apartment building next to the Ming Moon Chinese restaurant at 643 Main St., Stanton said.

With the area's only grocery store closed because of the flooding, procuring food has become harder in the town. But Ming Moon was still open.

Firefighters from Margaretville and several other area departments were on the scene for most of the day and were able to stop the spread of the fire to the Chinese restaurant. The apartment building, which was separated from Ming Moon by a narrow gap, was damaged, but the hard work of the firefighters limited it, according to Stanton.

The Ming Moon's owners were grateful and thanked the firemen by doing what they do best and they did it for free, he said.

"They fed the firemen that night," Stanton said. "They are excellent people. Very friendly."

The Delaware County Sheriff's Office arrested the man who owns the apartment building and charged him with arson.

Deputies said Eugene Gundelach, 58, set the fire in an attempt to collect fire insurance on his flood-damaged property, which was vacant.

The town of Oneonta has a new website.

Visitors to www.townofoneonta.org can find a bevy of information on many of the services the town has to offer, as well as permits, licenses and frequently-asked-questions sections for each of the town's departments.

A full roster of town officials, complete with photos, is one of the many upgrades the town has made to its Internet presence.

Other features include town board meeting minutes, tax rate information, School Tax Relief program details and a 2011 meeting schedule.

There are printable PDF documents for everything from fireworks display permits to subdivision applications.

The website has a clean, bright look with a variety of background photographs that change at random.

There is a town history section and a separate history section on Fortin Park. They feature old photographs, including aerial views, and maps.

A "Did You Know" box on each web page features a variety of informational tidbits.

Jake Palmateer can be reached at 432-1000 or (800) 721-1000, ext. 221, or at jpalmateer@thedailystar.com.

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