Salvation Army Church On Main Street Serves As Warming Center

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According to the City of Beacon’s Emergency Alert System today, in the reminder to everyone not to park on the street in more than 2” of snow (for snow plows), they mentioned that the Salvation Army Church, located at 372 Main St. in Beacon, is open as a warming center to those in need. The Salvation Army also has a Food Pantry, should you wish to donate food to it. The Salvation Army accepts food and monetary donations. Contact Captain Leilani Alarcón by emailing Leilani.Alarcon@USE.SalvationArmy.Org

A couple years ago, we took a tour through the Salvation Army to see what it looked like inside and to learn more about their programs. There are since new leaders of the church (Captain Leilani Alarcón and her husband, Lt. Josué Alarcón). You can click here to see pictures of the inside. The Salvation Army also rents out rooms inside of the church, including a gymnasium. Details on that will be in our Business Directory under Event Venues or the Real Estate Listing Guide.

3rd Free Federal Workers Night At Children's Museum - Mental + Finance Talk Included. Plus, a Look Into Who Isn't Getting Paid

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In what has become the longest federal government shutdown in history, impacting 800,000 people who have gone without pay for almost a month - so far - the Mid-Hudson Children Museum is opening its doors again for another Pizza and Play Night this Thursday, January 24, 2019 from 5 to 7:30 pm. Pizza has been donated by Chef Joel Trocino of Amici’s Restaurant, and this time there will also be chowder from River Station Restaurant, both eateries from Poughkeepsie.

We’ve heard of missed car loan payments and uncertainty about how grocery bills will be paid if the shutdown continues.
— Lara Litchfield-Kimber, Executive Director of MHCM

Financial and Mental Health Options Presented

For this third event, Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum is coordinating with TEG Federal Credit Union and Mental Health America to provide information on community resources and services available to furloughed workers who are impacted by the partial shutdown of the federal government.

"When we first conceived the idea of hosting our Pizza and Play nights for furloughed workers, we wanted to provide an evening of normalcy for those federal employees impacted by the partial government shutdown,” said Lara Litchfield-Kimber, Executive Director of MHCM.

“It is inconceivable that the shutdown is still dragging on, but as it does, these evenings seem to be taking on the additional importance of allowing people to come together, talk, laugh and check-in on each other. As staff and board of MHCM, we’ve participated in the the conversations and we’ve done a lot of listening. We’ve heard of missed car loan payments and uncertainty about how grocery bills will be paid if the shutdown continues. While not expressly stated in many cases, we know the uncertainty around the shutdown is creating a lot of stress in the lives of individuals and families, so we reached out to engage community partners who can offer additional support.”

Who Isn’t Getting Paid In This Area?

Taking a micro-look at this area by looking at who attended the past two events at Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum, people not getting paid who attended the first event, and some the second event, include workers at the FDR estate in Hyde Park and other national park properties in the area, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (in Albany), a family of a federal officer, and others. About 30 impacted people brought their families, or came solo.

Lots of Americans Live Paycheck to Paycheck

In an NPR interview this week, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz (who studies wage stagnation and income inequality) said that 40% of Americans have less than $400 saved. Many federal workers, like a lot of workers in the private and entrepreneurial sectors, live paycheck to paycheck. According to this NPR story, Amy Fellows, a correctional officer with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, lives paycheck to paycheck. She was able to pay her rent and utilities for the first month of being furloughed, but doesn’t have anything for this month. And that’s just one story. Here are other stories of workers whose spouses were able to work additional hours at private-sector jobs, and who are thinking of leaving their federal jobs for new jobs.

Types of Federal Jobs Impacted

Included in departments not being paid are TSA workers (according to this CNN article), who continue to be required to show up at airports to check for airline security. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration stopped conducting food safety inspections, and then resumed recently. The U.S. Coast Guard is another surprising department not to get paid. The military fell under a different budget, within the Defense Department which was funded in September. But the U.S. Coast Guard’s budget, according to this article, falls under Homeland Security, and they were the first members of the armed forces not to get paid during a partial government shutdown.

Federal Workers Legally Bound to Continue Working

While half of the federal workers are “furloughed” (granted a leave of absence) according to this article at The Atlantic, those who have jobs that ensure the safety of the country still must show up, thanks to the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947. The act was created to prevent federal workers from striking if they wanted better pay or benefits during pay negotiations. The act covers agencies like the Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Transportation Security Agents (TSA) and Border Patrol Agents.

Says Eric Young, president of the union that represents the approximately 30,000 employees of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, this forced labor is “involuntary servitude.” If federal workers strike, they could risk losing pensions they have worked for years to build. Trump has warned that the shutdown could last for months or years as far as he’s concerned.

Federal Unions Filing Lawsuits Against Trump Administration

Unions representing federal workers have filed lawsuits against the Trump administration, saying: “The government is in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, a 1938 law that mandates a minimum wage and overtime pay both to public- and private-sector workers,” according to the article in The Atlantic. Those unions include The American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union.

What’s Next and Where To Get Help

Created for people who need help but don’t know where to go or how to ask for it, there is the Dutchess County Helpline. If you are worried, or can’t buy groceries, or just don’t know where to turn, you could call the Dutchess County Help Line and talk to someone about anything, plus get resources. They can point you in the right direction based on what you need.

CALL or TEXT: (845) 485-9700
TOLL-FREE: (877) 485-9700
Download the app for FREE

If you are a federal worker with a story you want to share about how the partial shutdown is impacting you, you can do so by emailing editorial@alittlebeaconblog.com. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can.

If you work for or run a business that is doing something special to help federal workers who are not getting paid, you can let us know about it by emailing editorial@alittlebeaconblog.com.

Beauty In Beacon As People Respond To Hate Flyers With Interfaith Event: "One Beacon"

Photo Credits:    Frank Ritter Photography

Before Digging Into This Article, Here’s a Letter from the Editor Providing Context:

Letter from the Editor:
The article below was written in November 2018 by Izdihar Dabashi, who attended “One Beacon,” an interfaith event. Before you read about the experience from her perspective, we’d like to bring you up to speed on why the event was created in the first place. Normally, we’d publish this reporting closer to the event, but with the holidays, time got crunched. Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and in the spirit of that, we are publishing this story now.

In October 2018, flyers promoting racism and antisemitism were posted onto two churches in Beacon: the First Presbyterian and Salem Tabernacle. This intrusive act spooked anyone who learned about it or anyone who visits the churches on a regular basis.

In response, clergy of different faiths called each other immediately to show their support, and lead people to a unified place in an interfaith event called “One Beacon.” The event provided a platform for reflections and exhortations from several speakers from the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities in Beacon, in addition to Beacon’s Mayor, Randy Casale.


And Now, for Izdihar Dabashi’s Article Coverage of “One Beacon”

On the 1st of November, 2018, an interfaith event called "One Beacon" was held at the Salem Tabernacle in response to the antisemitic flyers that marred doors of worship in Beacon at the First Presbyterian Church and the Salem Tabernacle, as well as on the grounds of education including Marist College in the Hudson Valley (see this article for descriptions of those flyers).

Speakers at the “One Beacon” event in November 2018, from left to right: Mayor Randy Casale, Pastor Bill Dandreano of Salem Tabernacle, Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek of Beacon Hebrew Alliance, and Pastor Ben Larson-Wolbrink of First Presbyterian Church. Racist and antisemitic flyers had been posted onto the First Presbyterian Churce and Salem Tabernacle. “One Beacon” was the group response to that.  Photo Credit:    Frank Ritter Photography

Speakers at the “One Beacon” event in November 2018, from left to right: Mayor Randy Casale, Pastor Bill Dandreano of Salem Tabernacle, Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek of Beacon Hebrew Alliance, and Pastor Ben Larson-Wolbrink of First Presbyterian Church. Racist and antisemitic flyers had been posted onto the First Presbyterian Churce and Salem Tabernacle. “One Beacon” was the group response to that.
Photo Credit: Frank Ritter Photography

“One Beacon” was planned before the tragedy that occurred inside of the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh that week. So it was coincidence that this event to celebrate the idea of belonging to the same community - despite differences of religion, gender, race, etc. - arrived at the right time to act as a balm for the distress present on our screens and appearing in broad daylight on our streets. Mayor Randy Casale and Pastor Ben Larson-Wolbrink said they drew a parallel conclusion once the hate flyers came to their attention: Call the police and call the clergy.

Clergy members in attendance at “One Beacon” included Pastor Bill Dandreano of Salem Tabernacle, Pastor Ben Larson-Wolbrink of First Presbyterian Church, Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek of Beacon Hebrew Alliance, Imam Abdullah Abdul Wajid of Masjid Ar-Rashid, and Pastor Ronald O. Perry of Springfield Baptist Church. Mayor Randy Casale’s wide smile could be found in constant conversation. Additionally, state Sen. Sue Serino and her son made an appearance during the event.

All were welcome to “One Beacon,” but as I approached the Salem Tabernacle, I could not help but be mindful of the scarf wrapped around my head, expecting awkward stares at the Muslim girl in a church. To my pleasant surprise, my tentative gaze was met by welcoming faces ushering me inside the warm church to avoid the November cold. Silver towers of food set atop white-clothed tables were among the crowds of people, and were part of our dinner that accompanied the evening.

I briefly connected my gaze to Ginger, Pastor Bill’s mother, and not a blink later she had me in a strong embrace. Every polite nod or handshake I offered was replaced by hugs, diminishing the boundaries of the unfamiliar.

Attendees of the “One Beacon” event. From left: Rayham Dabashi, Sergio Perez (an art teacher at Beacon High School), and Izdihar Dabashi, the author of this article.  Photo Credit:    Frank Ritter Photography

Attendees of the “One Beacon” event. From left: Rayham Dabashi, Sergio Perez (an art teacher at Beacon High School), and Izdihar Dabashi, the author of this article.
Photo Credit:
Frank Ritter Photography

Past the doors separating the entry hall, the nave (the central part of a church) was filled with greetings and laughter decorating the ivory walls with invisible warmth.

A rogue door covered in chipped paint rested against the stage, in front of where we were to all sit. The stage and area in front of it was lined with dense colorful flowers. Sparse splinters and flutters of the chipped paint from the lonely door disrupted the blue velvet carpet. It was an odd sight, but I ignored the peculiarity.

As I made my way down the seating area where dinner and a presentation on a screen were to be included, I was stopped every few steps by introductions and strangers offering me their seats and spots at their table, the smile on my face never waning as I became increasingly aware of the welcoming nature of familiar faces and complete strangers. Venturing further into the brightly lit space, I was seated at a table across from the clergy of Beacon.

The event featured speakers giving their piece on today’s stinging political climate affecting social patterns, with uplifting music in Hebrew and English between speakers. Pastor Bill highlighted the heavy weight of police brutality, particularly the strained relationship between law enforcement and the black community.

Pastor Bill humorously began a rant on how being pulled over while driving is a nuisance, an inconvenient blip in his day. He listed the first three thoughts springing to mind when he gets pulled over:

  • His insurance price increasing.

  • The annoyance that comes with being late.

  • Where in the world is his registration.

Pastor Bill recalled ranting to his friend on this topic one afternoon. Pastor Bill’s perspective on matters of police brutality changed once his friend of color shared the thoughts that go through his mind when he gets pulled over. His friend’s first thoughts when getting pulled over ring sharp in his mind, and are far more overwhelming:

  • His wallet is in his back pocket, but how should he reach for it (and the registration) if he wants his hands to be in clear view.

  • What is going to happen if he doesn’t find his registration, if he reaches down to grab his wallet and only one hand is in clear view?

  • What is going to happen if he doesn't make it home today?

Presenting to the “One Beacon” event. From left: Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek and Pastor Bill Dandreano.  Photo Credit:    Frank Ritter Photography

Presenting to the “One Beacon” event. From left: Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek and Pastor Bill Dandreano.
Photo Credit: Frank Ritter Photography

From there, Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek steered the conversation to reflect on the murders that occurred in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, victims of an unjust cause. He led a beautiful traditional Prayer of the Dead, translating Hebrew into English, explaining the prayer is meant to seek comfort in God. Pain glistened in several pairs of eyes, the champagne lights illuminating the depths of grief.

Mayor Randy shed hope through comparison of the Beacon we live in today and the version he lived in during his youth:

  • The police riots

  • The clash of minorities and Caucasians in the middle and high school

  • The division of different groups clustered in the elementary schools.

Mayor Randy gave credit to his mentor, late Mayor Robert Cahill, for the reminder that “when people get away from their religion, it leads them astray;” prompting both mayors to seek control and peace by reaching out to the clergy. Instead of covering up hate, directly addressing tension and opening our minds will pave the way to harmony.

From left: Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek, Imam Hasan MuMuin, Waheebah Wajid, and Imam Abdullah Wajid.  Photo Credit:    Frank Ritter Photography

From left: Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek, Imam Hasan MuMuin, Waheebah Wajid, and Imam Abdullah Wajid.
Photo Credit: Frank Ritter Photography

Imam Abdullah Abdul Wajid, an imam of the traditional form of Islam, took his time to reinforce the similarities between the monotheistic faiths and how hate crimes against one religion affect all. As acknowledged by the other members of clergy, he emphasized that no one is safe, saying: “It’s ‘them’ today, and you tomorrow.”

He unraveled the meaning behind a Hadith (a collection of records of sayings, actions, and descriptions given by the Prophet Muhammed), concluding there is good to every situation. The violence and strains of political tension that can surface in mainstream media only push people to stand together for support, as indicated in the way the Muslim community in Pittsburgh raised money to support the victims in the Tree of Life synagogue, and offered to provide security to the temple. Little seeds of hate can only become trees if communities choose to nurture their sinful growth.

While the words of the speakers were enlightening, the strength of the resounding energy ricocheting off the walls in the grand room was overwhelming during Salaam-Shalom, the song title meaning “peace” in Arabic and Hebrew. Voices merged with the flow of instruments, filling the room with brightness as the crowd swayed as one.

People’s thoughts tacked onto a door which became part of the presentation during “One Beacon.”  Photo Credit:    Frank Ritter Photography

People’s thoughts tacked onto a door which became part of the presentation during “One Beacon.”
Photo Credit: Frank Ritter Photography

Through all the music, that same broken door stood there, alone. It was a silent observer of the performances. It stood alone and blue from the hue of the icebreaker topics put on a screen in front of us during dinner, and its frayed skeleton was still present at the end of the event. The analogy of the ugly door was still lost after Pastor Bill pointed it out, proclaiming little seeds of hate grow into overbearing trees.

Pastor Bill clarified that to extinguish the flames of hate, we must introduce honesty. Squares of paper with atonements scratched in blue ink soon masked the ugly door, as lines of people tacked their sins onto the wood, shifting the splintering mess into something beautified by raw honesty.

Every time a speaker stood on stage, half of my attention was fixed on the message they shared. The other half allowed my eyes to wander around the room, in stunning awe of the genuine care and empathy on various faces. There was a complete absence of division among the clergy, the event staffers, and the attendees. The kitchen held the same vibrant energy as the main room - the people supplying the food fueled by the significance of this event.

Clergy members greeted each other with an encouraging embrace as they passed the microphone back and forth on their shared stage. Every speaker used humor to connect with the audience, while not straying too far from the seriousness of today’s social problems. It was clear that the city is working to engage with the community to prevent hate.

The "One Beacon" interfaith event reminded Beacon residents that there are allies and acceptance present in this small city, as evidenced by the many different houses of God peacefully sharing Main Street. The mosque, the church, the temple - all open to providing a sanctuary to a diversity of faiths, unified through a humble city.

No Beacon Free Loop Bus Service (aka Route G) on Monday, In Observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday

Photo Credit: A Little Beacon Blog

Photo Credit: A Little Beacon Blog

This just in via a statement from Beacon’s City Administrator, Anthony Ruggiero: Beacon’s free bus service, the “Route G” or the “Beacon Free Loop,” is not running on Monday, January 21, 2019, in observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday.

Service will resume on the morning of Tuesday, January 22, 2019.

2019 Martin Luther King Day Parade and Events Rescheduled Due To Snowstorm

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Due to the snowstorm, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration with the Southern Dutchess Coalition at the Springfield Baptist Church has been rescheduled to Saturday, February 16. February is also Black History Month, the Southern Dutchess Coalition has noted.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Springfield Baptist Church
Day: 
RESCHEDULED DUE TO SNOW:
Saturday, February 16, 2019
Location: Springfield Baptist Church, 8 Mattie Cooper Square, Beacon, NY
Times:
8 am: Community Breakfast
9:30 amCeremony and Annual Singing Parade and Civil Rights March.
Read the Poughkeepsie Journal article about last year's parade, with several quotes from participants.

Street Parking During Snow: 2" Inches of Snow Means Move Your Car

The City of Beacon issued an alert reminding people of the street parking rules during snow fall. Cars parked on the street are subject to being towed if there is 2 or more inches of snow.

You can find a free parking lot here in A Little Beacon Blog’s Free Parking Lot Guide.

The message from the City, via Friday’s Emergency Alert sent via phone/email/text, reads like this - just so that you have the details straight from the source:

“This is the Mayor's Office with a weather update. Snow is expected to begin mainly after 5 pm on Saturday with 6-12 inches of snow expected for Dutchess County. Remember your vehicle is subject to removal at your expense if it is parked on a city street after two inches of snow. Also please remove your vehicle from any city parking lot within twenty four hours after the end of the storm. The Doctor Reverend Martin Luther King Junior Parade and Events have been rescheduled for February sixteenth. For more information, call 845 420 1232.”

Sign up here for the Emergency Alert Messages if you haven’t yet.

We wrote about it here and walked you through the process.

Emergency Alert System Ready For Beacon - Opt-In Required for Cell Phones

Photo Credit: A Little Beacon Blog

Photo Credit: A Little Beacon Blog

Beacon residents are now able to opt in to a new robocall system set up by the City of Beacon in order to quickly spread notifications in times of emergencies, unexpected road closures, snow closure updates, and other such messages.

Beacon residents may or may not be automatically subscribed to this Emergency Notification System. You’ll fall into either or both of these categories:

Signing up with the Emergency Alert System looks like this.  Photo Credit: A Little Beacon Blog

Signing up with the Emergency Alert System looks like this.
Photo Credit: A Little Beacon Blog

  • Landlines: Residents who have a landline are automatically subscribed to this technology. Alerts, via robocall, have already been issued in the past, so you should have received emergency notifications already. Residents with landlines do have the ability to opt out. To opt out, follow this link to the city’s website, and register (create an account) with the system. There you will see a button that says “Remove Me Completely.”

  • Cell Phones: Residents who have cell phones are not automatically subscribed, and need to opt in via the City of Beacon’s website by clicking here.

The Emergency Alert System is is powered by Swift911, a mission-critical emergency notification system that can reach thousands of people in seconds, according to its website. The system can send out notifications via email, text or vocal phone calls known as “robocalls.”

Ability to Target People Citywide Or In Specific Pockets Of The City

The robocall system can target smaller areas of the city for an isolated incident, such as a streetwide issue, or larger sections of Beacon. It can also send citywide updates. “I think it will be a good tool for us to get information out,” said Anthony Ruggiero, Beacon’s City Administrator, during his announcement of the new service at the 12/17/2018 City Council Meeting.

Example of How An Email and Text Alert Looks

In addition to the phone call you’ll get, a text and email alert will follow. They will look like this:

Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum to Offer 2nd “Free Pizza and Play Night” for Families of Federal Workers Affected by Government Shutdown

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The first free Pizza and Play Night from The Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum was appreciated by many. The museum has decided to host a second one. Local families of federal employees affected by the current government shutdown are invited to a second night of free pizza and play on Wednesday, January 16, from 5 to 8 pm. The first event, held on Thursday, January 10, was well-received. "Attendees at our event last week were very happy to see fellow employees, and meet others who are in the same situation,” said Lara Litchfield-Kimber, executive director of the museum. "We had some older children attend also. We had some STEM activities set up for them to do. Everyone had fun."

Those who participated in the museum’s first free night for federal employees are encouraged to attend again. New families are also welcome for a night of food and fellowship. A buffet dinner will be provided, including pizza generously donated by Chef Joel Trocino of Amici’s Restaurant, 35 Main St., Poughkeepsie.

Free admission to the event is for two adults (one of whom must be a federal employee) and their children living in same household. Couples, singles and seniors without children are also welcome to attend this event and join in for dinner, conversation and play. The event is free, but pre-registration is required. Tickets may be reserved online at http://bit.ly/MHCMFederalFreeNight or by calling the museum during business hours at (845) 471-0589.

The museum is located in the heart of the historic waterfront in Poughkeepsie, nestled between two city parks, just steps away from the Poughkeepsie Metro-North train station and fabulous restaurants.

The Highlands Current Needs Your Help! Seeking Fundraising To Continue Covering Beacon

The Highlands Current is a local newspaper you’ve seen around town, stacked in storefronts, and now in the blue boxes that keep popping up on street corners. The paper is a nonprofit organization, and while they do rely on advertising, they count on individual donations more - 75% of publishing costs come from donors! The paper, which is distributed for FREE, is in the final, heated days of their big fundraising appeal, and needs Beacon’s help! Beaconites are so important to the publication, that the paper has invested in an ad campaign here at A Little Beacon Blog to help them get the word out. And you know we love helping to spread the good word.

Years ago, the Highlands Current was launched and covered Cold Spring, Garrison, Nelsonville and North Highlands. In 2015, they expanded their coverage to include Beacon by dedicating at least two reporters, Jeff Simms and Brian PJ Cronin, to cover the Beacon “beat” (newspaper term), as well as Alison Rooney to feature stories on the arts, Michael Turton with some articles (he also delivers the papers all around town) and Pamela Doan, the editor of the Calendar section that includes Beacon events in their roundup. And now I too have joined the ranks as a columnist with my “Kid Friendly” column over there. If you attend City Council or Board of Education meetings, you stand a good chance of seeing Jeff or Brian in the unofficial “press box” (aka somewhere in the front rows).

Highlands Current Quick To Report On Important Issues

Thanks to this dedication, The Highlands Current is often the first to report on big changes coming out of our City Council - changes that impact your daily life here in Beacon. Also because of this investment, their reporters follow different events each week at these meetings, so are super familiar with the twists and turns the issues make, and often weave these significant details into their articles for better context. Because they print on paper, a newspaper doesn’t get to use as much space as a blog does, so often they have to select their words so carefully, and cram hours’ worth of events and pages of supporting documents into three tiny paragraphs!

The paper published this picture to show how two Beacon Reporters  work from the Telephone Building  through Beahive’s shared office space.

The paper published this picture to show how two Beacon Reporters work from the Telephone Building through Beahive’s shared office space.

Beacon Newspaper Reporters Work From The Telephone Building

Little known fact to bolster your Beacon trivia base: The Highlands Current stations their reporters out of the Telephone Building in Beahive’s shared work space. A Little Beacon Blog also has our office in the Telephone Building! It’s fun to be in a communications hub like this.

Fundraising Opportunity - Double Match Going On Now ’Til December 31!

Thanks to a grant from NewsMatch and an anonymous donor, any contribution from $1 to $1,000 will be matched two times until December 31! Even if you gave just $10, it matters!

Yes, the dollars help, but new donors are equally important. New donors signal to the newspaper that you care, and you want their coverage to continue. If you have already donated to the Highlands Current this year, consider asking your spouse or best friend to also donate if they haven’t yet. #NewDonorAlert!

PS: If you are reading this article after December 31, 2018, you can still donate! Every little bit helps.

Holiday Hours for Beacon's City Hall

From the desk of Beacon’s City Administrator, Anthony Ruggiero, the Holiday Schedule Hours for City Hall are as follows:

Monday, December 24 – Christmas Eve, half day
Tuesday, December 25 – Christmas Day, closed
Monday, December 31 – New Year’s Eve, half day
Tuesday, January 1, 2019 – New Year’s Day, closed

As for upcoming City Council meetings:

“The next meeting is Monday, January 7, 2019, which is our reorganizational meeting and both a Workshop and a Council Meeting.”

Food For Fines Going On Now At Howland Public Library

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The Food for Fines program at Beacon’s Howland Public Library is going on now through Sunday, December 30. This is your chance to do double-duty on clearing your late fines at the library, at the same time as donating to a food pantry.

While the program is called Food for Fines, the library encourages you to donate personal-care items too, like tampons, adult diapers (Depends), and even new socks. People do a lot of walking, and it’s hard to do in run-down socks! Conveniently, Rite Aid is located almost across the street, where you can find a lot of these items! Think baby formula, toothpaste, shampoo… anything you would want to help take care of yourself or your family.

Beacon Remains Under 2% Tax Cap For 6th Year In A Row

If you got a refund from your property tax escrow account for being overestimated, this could be why (although we’re not property tax experts, but a refund did come our way this month). Mayor Randy Casale presented Beacon’s 2019 Budget in October, and stated: “In this year’s budget our homestead tax rate shows a decrease of 1.6518% and the non-homestead rate dropped 1.8073%.”

Before presenting the complex layers of a city’s budget, the Mayor also pointed out: “This is the fifth year in a row that we have received a ‘no designation’ classification from the NYS Comptroller’s Office with a score of 5. We have an Aa2 Moody’s bond rating. This shows our tax dollars are being managed thoughtfully and responsibly. This is the sixth straight year we were able to stay under the 2% tax cap while continuing to provide the services that keep our city safe, invest in our infrastructure and improve the quality of life for our citizens.”

Anthony Ruggiero, the City Administrator, reminded readers of the 2019 Budget Presentation of the history of the tax cap: “The tax cap law established a limit on growth of the annual property taxes levied to 2% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. As you may recall, last year the tax cap was actually 1.84%, however this year it is 2%.”

Select Increases Projected For Certain Line-Items In The 2019 Budget

Water and sewer rates will show increases: 5% for water and 10% for sewer. Said the Mayor in the 2019 Budget Presentation: “These increases will allow us to continue to make upgrades to both facilities and our aging infrastructure.“

Infrastructure upgrades have been going on in Beacon on several neighborhood streets since the summer. There was a sewer collapse on Main Street at Tioronda, which closed the street to cars for several days, and negatively impacted neighboring businesses, like Raven Rose who experienced sewage backup into the shop.

Says Emily Burke, owner of the kitchen store Utensil, which until very recently was located on the eastern end of town (she has since moved to the west end of town, with an expanded shop): “The ongoing construction certainly had an impact on all the east end businesses.”

Also significant is the retiring of Beacon’s Building Inspector, Timothy Dexter. He served the city for 36 years in several roles, including Firefighter, Building Inspector, Fire Lieutenant, Acting City Administrator, “and mentor to many,” Anthony stated in the budget presentation letter.

The position of the Building Inspector will remain, but move to the Building Department’s budget, and away from the Fire Department’s budget, where it was previously. Building Department staff will remain the same, and the number of firefighters (13) and fire chief (1) will remain the same.

There are other highlights of what budget line-items are increasing or decreasing, which you can see here in the budget itself.

Recycling Market Crash Significantly Impacts Beacon’s Budget

The City Administrator stated that Beacon will keep weekly recycling, but at a loss to what was budgeted previously. “This is significantly impacted by the collapse of the recycling industry. The City went from receiving a revenue of $15 a ton to an expenditure of $61 a ton. This, combined with the increases in garbage contracts, amounted to $99,698 increase in the general fund expense budget.“

If you need to see things visually, as a line-item, this could look like +$15/ton as income to Beacon, and now looks like -$61 as an expense. The collapse of the recycling market was predicted for years by business leaders in the recycling industry, and was triggered by the Chinese decision in January 2018 to buy almost none of the recycled paper pulp coming from the United States. (A reminder: When putting goods out for city recycling, all recyclable paper and plastic must be dry and clean. Rinsed and not soggy. Otherwise, if the plastic is coated in food or dirty, or the paper soggy, it does not get recycled.) A Little Beacon Blog hasn’t gotten an official quote on where non-purchased recycling goes if it’s rejected and not purchased by China.

Beacon Homestead & Non-Homestead Assessed Value Increased

As explained by the City Administrator in the budget presentation: “This year the homestead assessed value increased by 3.47% or $30,859,063 million. The non-homestead assessed value has also increased over last year by 9.65%, or $23,815,921. This year represents the fifth year since 2009 that the overall assessed values increased, and did so by $54,674,984. Homestead values remain more than $102 million less than it was in 2009. The non-homestead assessed value has fluctuated through the years, and while it increased approximately $23,815,921 this year, it is only the second year in a row that it has been more than in 2009.”

Public Input Scheduled For November 19, 2018

CORRECTION: This section originally stated December 3, 2018 as the Public Hearing. According to the Mayor’s letter in the Budget Presentation, that was the date set. However, the Public Hearing for the 2019 Budget was announced and scheduled for Monday, November 19, 2018.

Department heads have been meeting in workshops throughout the fall. Workshops are open to the public to watch, but not participate in. A Little Beacon Blog republishes workshops here to help increase accessibility to these videos and agendas of the meetings. The opportunity for the public to come out and contribute their opinion on the 2019 Budget was Monday, November 19, 2018 at 7 pm at City Hall. This is the white building near the train station that also houses the police station and courthouse.

New Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony At Visitors Center - November 24, 2018

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A group of people have organized a new ceremony scheduled for Saturday, November 24, 2018, from 3 to 5 pm, to light up this well-known evergreen next to the Visitors Center at Polhill Park. The rain date is set for Saturday, December 1.

Tree Ceremony To Add To Merriment

Says Rosemary Merhige, one of the organizers of this lighting: “We started out with a group of Beacon residents and formed a committee. We have support of the Elks, City of Beacon, Boy and Girl Scouts, Beacon Recreation Department, Yanarella Dance Studio and others.”

There will be ornament making, refreshments, and entertainment. Look for Santa, carolers, tiny dancers, and more.

The Bicycle Tree Lighting from BeaconArts and the City of Beacon will be on December’s Second Saturday as it always is - this year it’s December 8. That is also the seventh night of Hanukkah, and BeaconArts will be lighting the menorah that night as well. The lighting of the menorah begins on the first night of Hanukkah: Sunday, December 2. Details about it are here.

Says Kelly Ellenwood, a past president of BeaconArts about the tree: “The tree next door [to the bicycle tree] was never left alone. It was always lit up and decorated, every year. Its juxtaposition to the Visitors Center makes it hard to see. A new tree somewhere where folks can gather ‘round will need to be planted (or sited) in the coming years.”

It is the opinion of this writer that a new tree on the other side of town - near the mountain - would help spread the abundant merriment down the full length of Main Street. It could serve as a new anchor to help draw people toward the east end of Beacon, and the shops, art galleries and salons that reside there. Oftentimes, people turn around after the Howland Cultural Center, where there is the big turn in the road. If you follow Main Street around the bend, you’ll discover so many more art galleries and shops, like Maria Lago Studio 502, bau Gallery, Russell Cusick Gallery, Kaight, Style Storehouse, and others. See A Little Beacon Blog’s Art Gallery Guide for a list of galleries.

The Holiday Wreaths Are UP!

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It’s a most exciting time of the year, when we see the City of Beacon trucks loaded with holiday wreaths intended for the streetlamps slowly roll down Main Street, hanging up the festive greenery and bows.

Cheers to you this holiday season, on the eve of Thanksgiving. May you stay merry and bright.

PS: If you are decorating your house this season, please send your pics to us! We want to feature your houselights. Email editorial@alittlebeaconblog.com for consideration. Including your address is optional. We’d love to see your work, so even if you set up one version, and then add to it later, get on our radar now - you can always send another picture when your masterpiece is complete!

Stockings for Soldiers - Stuff a Stocking For a Soldier, and Libby Funeral Home Ships It

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If filling stockings brings you joy during the holiday season, and so does giving the stockings to someone who isn’t expecting them, then this holiday initiative is for you. Libby Funeral Home has set up a free stocking for you to take home, decorate and stuff to the brim with holiday cheer. You will receive a list of recommended items along with the stocking.

Libby Funeral & Cremation Services will ship the stockings (at their expense) to troops abroad in time for the holidays. “Sending our heroes some good tidings and holiday cheer is a great way for us to show our support and appreciation for the sacrifices they make to keep our country safe and secure,” said Matthew Fiorillo, owner of Libby Funeral & Cremation Services.

Pickup of stockings is now through Saturday, December 15. You can stop by their Beacon location at 55 Teller Ave., Beacon, NY, 12508 (near Stock Up) on Monday through Friday, between 9 am and 2 pm to pick up your stocking and begin stuffing.

Another Way to Help: Recycled Cell Phones for Soldiers

FYI, for those looking to recycle their cell phones: Libby Funeral & Cremation Services is also an official drop-off center for Cell Phones for Soldiers. You can bring in your old cell phones to help American troops call home this holiday season. The old cell phones are recycled and turned into free calling cards for the soldiers. According to Matthew, businesses nationwide have so far collected enough old cell phones to provide American troops overseas with nearly four million free calling minutes.