Zero To Go Transitions Residential Compost Pickup To Community Compost Company (CCC)

Photo Credit: Zero To Go

Photo Credit: Zero To Go

Zero To Go (ZTG), an education-based waste management company focused on composting and recycling, was the first to offer residential pickup of food waste in Beacon in order to keep it from landfills, and eventual methane gas production. After years of operating food composting pickup service in Beacon, Zero To Go has transitioned its Beacon Compost Residential and Farmers Market Collection Program to Community Compost Company (CCC), a New Paltz-based company that is currently servicing several Beacon businesses, according to Zero To Go’s soon-to-be sole owner, Atticus Lanigan. “We are very excited about this,” said Atticus in a letter to Beacon Residential Compost customers, and proceeded to list the reasons:

  • CCC pioneered the Table to Farm compost collection service in the Hudson Valley and is experienced handling residential and commercial collection.

  • CCC is a New York State certified woman-owned business based in the Hudson Valley.

  • CCC is reliable, has great people. and follows the "4P" ethos (People, Planet, Place and Profit).

  • CCC processes the scraps they collect into organic soil amendments on farms in the Hudson Valley, and is already composting the food scraps from ZTG events and collection.

Zero To Go will continue to service events, and “can be hired to handle waste at events in a responsible way,” said Atticus.

Why Does Methane Gas From Food Matter?

If you’ve never experienced methane gas production, try leaving a smoothie in your car in a closed coffee mug for three weeks, and then open it in your kitchen. Spoiler alert: There is so much pressure built up inside of the closed cup from the food rot process, the top will shoot off and hit anything across the room, cracking your plastic water filter container. Some people build potato guns. You could easily build a smoothie gun with yogurt, bananas and strawberries with minimal effort, just some time.

The History Of Zero To Go

Zero To Go was best known for being hired to manage trash/recycling/food waste at events, and branched into servicing businesses in Beacon by picking up their food waste. Zero To Go, founded by Sarah Womer, then launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise $20,000 (see this interview with Sarah in this Tin Shingle Training TuneUp webinar on how she did that), to start their residential food pickup program, originally powered by people on bikes.

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Fast-forward years and hours of work later, Sarah took a full time job at Riverkeeper, and Atticus Lanigan came in to manage the company. In addition to raising two children, Atticus has a background in Sociology and Urban Planning, and also works for Dutchess Outreach, an organization fighting food insecurity in Dutchess County that offers a hot meals program (formerly known as a “soup kitchen”).

Says Sarah when A Little Beacon Blog reached out for comment: “Atticus and I put in huge numbers of hours and sacrificed a lot of our own time to run and grow this company (like any start-up owners do)! It's been a real labor of love. It feels good to see the compost program take flight under new ownership - if we have a strong, visible, affordable compost program in town, it's something to be very proud of!”

Today, Atticus continues her work for Dutchess Outreach, and officially moves into the sole owner role of Zero To Go, which will specialize in event waste management. Sarah works in Harlem at a sustainability consulting firm. Both are always moving and shaking in the world of waste management and their commitment to educating about it. They will be contributing in other areas, so keep your eyes peeled.

Plastic Bags Out Of Food Compositing

Plastics bags are leaving the Hudson Valley (see press release about Governor Cuomo banning single-use plastic bags from New York State), including the food compositing arena. Said Atticus to prep customers about plastic bags: “CCC will not be accepting compostable plastics in the buckets, which includes compostable bags. This will be the biggest change as many of you are using compostable plastic bags in the process of getting your food scraps out to your buckets.”

Atticus began preparing Zero To Go customers for a plastic bag transition: “Ultimately, the use of bio-plastics is not ideal. As lawmakers work to deal with the overwhelming issue of garbage, many are seeking the abandonment of all single-use plastics and plastics in general. By drawing ourselves away from the use of it, we will be ahead of the curve.”

SIDE NOTE: Food Rot Container Tip

Fortunately, my compost food collection container is in a very pretty white jar from Pottery Barn, and my food collection system does not involve a plastic bag. The container is a porcelain flour jar that I repurposed to be a food compost container with a rubber-sealed lid. You could also find such a jar at Utensil or maybe even Raven Rose in Beacon. I just walk this pretty pot of rot to my compost bucket outside on my back porch, and that’s it. Happy to not have to wean myself off of a plastic bag! Am currently working on weaning myself off of Ziploc baggies.

To sign up for residential food pickup from Community Compost Company, click here. It’s about $32/month for weekly pickup, and lower rates are available for fewer pickups.

Giant Yellow Marker Collection Recycling Box At South Avenue and Sargent Elementary Schools

Photo Credit: South Avenue Elementary School

Photo Credit: South Avenue Elementary School

“Penny,” the marker collection box at Sargent Elementary.  Photo Credit: Anna Sullivan Youatt

“Penny,” the marker collection box at Sargent Elementary.
Photo Credit: Anna Sullivan Youatt

With recycling markets tanking everywhere (see New York Times article “As Costs Skyrocket, More U.S. Cities Stop Recycling”) now that China is not buying most of the recycling it used to - especially from the United States - it’s clear that it’s becoming harder to recycle, and waste has been building up more than we realized.

Crayola Launches Fun Marker Collection Recycling Bins

What is catching on, therefore, is increased awareness of ways people can tweak the small stuff in their lives to get rid of stuff without throwing it into the trash. Crayola offers an initiative for schools looking to reduce waste, called ColorCycle, and information can be found here. Says South Avenue Elementary’s Principal Laura Cahill: “The South Avenue PTA started the color box in conjunction with Crayola ColorCycle, and we are encouraging families to send in their old markers throughout the year. We also put markers in here at school as they get used up during class.”

Says Ryan Green, Vice President of South Avenue’s PTA: “Any kind of marker can be collected from any brand. Dry-erase, permanent, doesn't matter. You can send them to school with your kids, and teachers send the little messengers to dump the markers into the tube.”

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How To Contain The Dead Markers Before Depositing Into Marker Collection Box

If you’re in a house that has a high marker-loss count, where separated tops and dried-out bodies are found scattered on the floor and in the couch, they now have a place to rest and find a second life. If you don’t have a kid at South Avenue, consider setting aside your markers for a friend who does.

To get into the habit of keeping trashed markers out of the regular trash can, simply designate a pretty box or container in your home, and collect the markers over time. I just stepped on a dead blue dry-erase marker last night. Top on the floor, body on the desk. Dried out and done.

Also, Bottles and Cans Collections For Recycling And Fundraising

The South Avenue PTA, and several other PTA/Os at other schools, also have Bottle and Can Collection points where you can give the school your bottles and cans instead of putting them into your big orange-top recycling bin. It has been announced by recycling professionals at Beacon City Council meetings that glass collection is becoming difficult to sort through. Broken glass contaminates the recycling collection at large, and can make it so that big batches of waste (aka recycling materials) are no longer eligible to be recycled.

Pete Seeger Centennial Celebration - Honoring A Legend

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There is a special event happening Friday, May 3, 2019 to celebrate what would have been Pete Seeger's 100th birthday. The event is FREE for the public to attend, but donations to Clearwater are recommended.

The following is the press release issued by Towne Crier Public Relations in full:


Please join us on Friday, May 3 - the centennial of Pete Seeger's birth - for a spectacular evening of songs and stories honoring the Beacon songwriter, musician and activist. The Pete Seeger Centennial Celebration starts at 7 pm and will feature many local, regional and national performers paying tribute to Pete's music and life. The roster so far includes The Costellos, Carla Springer, Jerry Kitzrow, co-hosts Thom Joyce and David Bernz, singer-songwriters extraordinaire David Massengill, Christine Lavin and Don White - and the list keeps growing!

Admission is free, but donations are suggested to support Clearwater, the organization Pete founded and loved so well.

Born May 3, 1919, Pete Seeger was a legendary folksinger, musician and activist who called Beacon his home. He was a perennial supporter of the Towne Crier, too, having been one of our first performers when we started out in Beekman, and also played one of his last shows here at our Beacon location in November 2013, just a couple of months before he passed. He was a frequent visitor who also gave us our first food review in Beacon.

Days after his passing on January 27, 2014, we held a special Open Door tribute for Pete and drew the largest attendance in our history! So many wanted to share songs and stories of Pete; it was an overwhelming and emotional response to a beloved icon. He drew together diverse communities in the arts, environmental and activist circles, as well as the broader Beacon community.

Learn more about this event at The Towne Crier’s website.

The Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Continuously Finds Microplastics In River; Cheers Cuomo’s Plastic Bag Ban

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We received the following notice from Clearwater Communications about the upcoming plastic bag ban, and we thought it would be important to share with our readers. According to News 10, the plastic bags ban will take effect in March 2020 - that is less than a year away! There are concerns about the plastic bags breaking down in the water where they become ‘microplastics,’ often consumed by river and ocean wildlife.

The following is the press release issued by Clearwater Communications in full:


At a press conference on Monday, April 22, at Clearwater’s Kingston Home Port and Education Center at the Hudson River Maritime Museum, Governor Cuomo announced his signing of legislation banning single-use plastic bags in New York State. The Governor made the announcement beside Rondout Creek to an audience of reporters and environmental groups including Clearwater, Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

“Microplastics” Consumed By River and Ocean Wildlife

Plastic bags have long plagued the Hudson River’s ecology, and they are a major contributor to the global ecological crisis posed by plastic pollution in the world’s rivers and oceans. Often confused for food by freshwater and marine animals, plastic bags and other plastic debris do not biodegrade. Instead, these materials break down into microscopic pieces of plastic, or “microplastics” that are consumed and bioaccumulate in fish, mammals, and birds throughout the aquatic food chain.  

“We are very concerned about the accumulation of microplastics in our waterways and fish,” said Erik Fyfe, Education Director for Clearwater. “As part of our education programs, we collect plankton from the river to show our students, and for at least the last five years, whenever we look at the plankton under a microscope we see microplastics in the water.”

More Than Just Plastic Bags

New York’s new plastic bag ban will help reduce the amount of plastic in the Hudson. Additional work is needed to address other common sources of microplastic pollution, such as synthetic clothing, cosmetics, cleaning products and air blasting media. 

“We pull plastic waste from the Hudson every day during the sailing season, whether we’re under way or not. All of it would otherwise break down into microplastics, which wind up in the water, in the fish and in anyone that eats the fish.” said Clearwater Executive Director Greg Williams. “We’re delighted Gov. Cuomo is signing the plastic bag ban bill, and is taking the opportunity to recognize environmental advocacy organizations in the process.”

The Hudson River Sloop Clearwater has dedicated the last 50 years to preserving, protecting and educating about the health of the Hudson. The Clearwater sailing crew removes trash from the river on their voyages from Albany down to New York City. 

About Hudson River Sloop Clearwater

Launched in 1969 by legendary folk singer and activist Pete Seeger, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater has been at the forefront of the environmental movement as champions of the Hudson River. To date, more than half a million people have experienced their first real look at an estuary’s ecosystem aboard the sloop Clearwater. Clearwater has become the grassroots model for producing positive changes to protect our planet. For more information, visit www.clearwater.org.

View Of A Magnolia Tree Coming Through The Overcast April Days

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That’s right, April, just keep those magnolia trees blooming! We’ll take the nip in the air. And we’ll also take ourselves to A Little Beacon Blog’s Shopping Guide, to see which stores that have the rain boots, light rain ☔️ coat, and just a little pick-me-up to get through the overcast days! Head on down, everyone. Walk over to Main Street and treat yourself to a little Beacon.

This intersection is a few blocks behind Bank Square in what is quite a hilly area. Straight ahead and over a bit, you can almost spy the bright blue beBhakti Yoga Center.

First Snowfall Of March In Beacon 2019

Photo Credit: A Little Beacon Blog

Photo Credit: A Little Beacon Blog

The first snowfall of March for 2019 has fallen onto lilac tree buds and hyacinth shoots. Fear not, they have been covered before. 

The snow fell heavy and wet onto warm (well, not super-cold) ground, temperate from the Sunday before when the days had just started to warm up a bit. 

Schools in New York City are closed, with a Hazardous Travel Advisory issued by NYC, according to WNYC. Most schools in the Hudson Valley are on a two-hour delay, with some schools on a three-hour delay, or a Transportation Delay. Some Hudson Valley Schools are simply closed for the day.

Beacon City Schools are in a two-hour delay, and our delay call came last night, which helps with planning and rescheduling. Delays have become commonplace over the years when snow is expected to be on the ground in the morning. According to Beacon Superintendent Matthew Landahl, a small team from the school’s Transportation Department goes out at 3:30 am to check the roads to make a decision, since buses start their routes at 6 am.

“Since I live here,” says Dr. Landahl, “I sometimes go out and join in on the fun.” If the team finds icy patches where the buses need to drive to transport kids in and out of the district, Landahl is inclined to call a two-hour delay. Robocalls issued by Dr. Landahl have helped to keep everyone informed along the way. This morning, a call was issued to confirm the decision from the night before: that everything was good to go for the planned delay. “See you soon,” he added, and credited the city’s Highway Department and school facility teams for getting the roads clear for everyone. To follow along with other school schedules during weather, check out the list here: http://wpdh.com/snow-closings-delays/

Shoveling!

Well, you know what snowfall means: shoveling. And you know what shoveling means: chocolate chip pancakes! Or deep-dish French toast from Homespun, three-layer cake from BJs, a cheese danish from Beacon Bread Company, a hearty bagel sandwich from Beacon Bagel, or cut to the chase with a bacon egg sandwich from Mr. V’s or Bob’s. Permission granted to totally carb out.

Be safe! Don’t overdo it. Take breaks. And don’t stand under snow-covered heavy branches of snow. OK, that’s a lot to remember. Enjoy!

Bear Mountain Bridge on the morning commute from Beacon to New York City. Photo Credit: David Ray Martin

Bear Mountain Bridge on the morning commute from Beacon to New York City. Photo Credit: David Ray Martin

The east end of Main Street, before the second half of the east end of Main Street beyond Teller Avenue. Photo Credit: David Ray Martin

The east end of Main Street, before the second half of the east end of Main Street beyond Teller Avenue. Photo Credit: David Ray Martin

New Corn Bread Contest at the Corn Festival 2018

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CORN FESTIVAL
When: Sunday, August 12, 2018
Time: Noon to 5 pm
Price: Free
Ages: Family-friendly

This year, enjoy a new flavor at the Beacon Sloop Club's Corn Festival, down at the Pete and Toshi Seeger Park (Riverfront Park) in Beacon, NY, on Sunday, August 12, 2018 from noon to 5 pm. The event is rain or shine, so pack a poncho just in case!

How To Enter the Corn Bread Contest

1.  Anyone can enter. The only rule is that the corn bread must be made from scratch.
2. Prize for first place is $25.
3. To enter, bring your corn bread to the Contest Tent before 2 pm. Bring your corn bread on a dish or plate, along with a card with your name, phone number, and recipe. Besides the name of your recipe, please include the ingredients used. Attach the card to the plate. If you would like your plate returned, please note that on the card.
4. The judging will start about 2:15 pm and consider such aspects as taste, appearance, and texture.
5. Winners will be announced from the tent at 3 pm.


About the Corn Festival

Fresh picked, ready‐to‐eat, local‐grown sweet corn on the cob is the feature of this festival down at Riverfront Park, now known as the Pete and Toshi Seeger Park for their decades of work to improve and protect the Hudson River. Enjoy cold drinks and other summer treats. Environmental displays will be set up, and fun activities for all ages will be available.

The sloop Woody Guthrie will give free public sails (weather permitting), and there will be lots of craft and food vendors. Two solar music stages will feature great sounds. Free admission.

Music on the Main Stage:

  • April Mae and the June Bugs
  • Caroline Doctorow
  • Cosby Gibson
  • Hank Woji
  • Spook Handy
  • The Offshoots
  • The Roadhouse Roosters.

Music on the Children's Stage:

  • Bindlestick Bill
  • Lydia Adams Davis
  • Miss Vickie
  • Solar Sound
  • The Hudson Valley Troubadors
  • The Quahog Quire

Vendor Opportunities

Those interested in vending can email rmthomas99@yahoo.com or call (845) 463-4660. For more information, check out the Beacon Sloop Club's website - www.beaconsloopclub.org.

The River Pool at Beacon IN The Hudson River Opens for 2018!

The left side of The Beacon River Pool - eye level.  Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

The left side of The Beacon River Pool - eye level.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

As you play at Riverfront Park, known since 2014 as Pete and Toshi Seeger Riverfront Park, you may have experienced the extreme desire to swim in the Hudson River to cool off. Well, now you can - because The River Pool at Beacon is open again this year! Starting in 2007, five years after submitting construction plans to New York State, the pool opened to the public for the first time. The river pool idea was originally proposed by the pool's co-founder, Pete Seeger, according to the pool's History page.

What's a River Pool?

The river pool is netted and shallow, with a net bottom designed by Meta Brunzema Architect P.C., a New York City-based design firm. You could crawl on it, with a child on your back, pretending you are an alligator gliding just under the water surface. Or you could sit or stand in the shallow water, enjoying the breeze off the water and gazing up or down the river, thankful you aren't in the traffic moving (or not moving) on the Newburgh/Beacon Bridge. Or, you could simply sit on the colorful plastic seats and bask in the sun, slipping further into the water as you're ready.

River pools aren't unique to this spot - they have been around since at least 1830, up and down the Hudson River - but they were removed after 1930 due to water pollution. Pete Seeger was a major advocate for cleanup of the Hudson River. Thanks to his efforts as well as many other organizations including Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper, the river has improved since then, and many groups and people continue to advocate in this direction.

Can Anyone Use the River Pool?

It's a free pool for all, thanks to support from individual donations, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Durst Organization, the Abrons Foundation, the Hudson River Foundation. The pool's organizers actually want to increase its size. They're working with another architecture firm to design a bigger pool, and they're talking with cities and towns to find the right location that offers agreeable environmental considerations.

What's It Like Swimming in the River Pool?

The changing room at The Beacon River Pool.  Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

The changing room at The Beacon River Pool.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

So fun. So relaxing. You're IN the river, just sitting there protected from the currents by the anchored netting. The pool is small, so you'll be near others as they dip in and out of the pool. The pool is also very shallow: An adult is up to their waist or thighs. The River Pool is fully staffed by lifeguards, and even has a changing room!

If thunder rolls in and you need to leave the pool and wait 30 thunder-free minutes to go back in, you could always shoot baskets at the park's basketball court, or play on the playgrounds. Or have a picnic on the grass (watch out for alllll of the goose poop).

An additional perk: Riverfront Park is very breezy, so you'll be cooled off quickly down by the river no matter what.

Is Swimming in the Hudson River Safe?

The Hudson River was contaminated by companies who dumped pollutants into it for many years. An ongoing effort to clean up the Hudson River has spanned several decades. As of today, it has reached cleaner levels, but is closely monitored by The River Pool at Beacon. Says a representative from The River Pool this year: "The quality in Beacon Harbor is definitely of concern. Beacon Harbor had a long run of low numbers. We hope this is a temporary situation. That said, the pool is off the north shore of Pete and Toshi Seeger Riverfront Park. The water is tested every week by the county health department. We would not open if the water was not considered safe for swimming."

Swim For The Pool - From Beacon To Newburgh!

Fundraising continues for the pool with regular donations that you can make at any time, and during the 15th Annual Newburgh to Beacon Hudson River Swim, where you can sponsor a swimmer - or be a swimmer that people sponsor! See the Beacon to Newburgh Swim page for details.

Make a donation here to keep this all going, but don't worry if you can't. It was designed for all to be able to access and experience the Hudson River. See you at the pool!

Hanging Baskets of Petunias Have Arrived on Main Street - How They Got There

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Quick - what's the prettiest way to tell what season it is in Beacon? Look up, to Main Street's lampposts, and see what's hanging as the seasons change. In the winter, it's wreaths and illuminated stars. In the spring and summer, it's the petunias. But these petunias don't water themselves. And where do they come from, anyway?

The Hanging Petunia Baskets Are A Community Effort

The Tioronda Garden Club pays for the hanging baskets, and Sunny Garden Greenhouses, the nursery north on Route 9D past Stony Kill Farm, makes the hanging baskets. Mayor Randy Casale and former councilperson Sam Way water the baskets in the early morning, and have done so ever since the baskets were removed from the City's budget years ago.

Fundraisers are put on each year by the Tioronda Garden Club for the hanging baskets (we covered it last year), so watch for your chance to help! And just look at the Tioronda Garden Club's new website, with all of their events listed! This is a great way to connect with other gardening enthusiasts. You could even possibly be one of these secret gardeners on Main Street, if you wanted to join the Tioronda Garden Club.

This year, my photo of the petunias is from inside A Little Beacon office at 291 Main Street, in the Telephone Building. I don't recall seeing the hanging baskets last year outside my window, but I'm so happy to see it daily now!

Watch for Giant Turtles Crossing - What Do They Do On The Other Side?

In last weekend’s edition of the Highlands Current, the reporting was turned on Beacon beat reporter Jeff Simms, who normally writes up Beacon news for the newspaper. His animal-rescue experience landed him front-page treatment. Normally, his own article would be in this spot. Last week, however, he himself was in ink (not the ink on his arm, but on the page).

While riding his bike down Route 9D from Beacon to Cold Spring on his way to the Current's production meeting, Jeff spotted this snapping turtle gradually making his way across the road. According to the article, Jeff pulled his bike over and attempted to encourage the turtle to go faster or move away from the busy road.

May and June is prime time to see snapping turtles, which are one of 11 species native to New York. In the late spring and early summer, they're on the move, laying their eggs in sandy areas or loose soil, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The DEC issued an advisory last year reminding motorists to watch out for migrating turtles, whose populations are declining. "The reptiles lay just one small clutch of eggs each year, which means the loss of a breeding female can have a significant effect on the local turtle population," according to the advisory. Suffice to say, the turtle that Jeff spotted was on a mission and would not be deterred.

But its slow progress left it vulnerable, so Jeff’s next move was to call in the professionals: Mark Price, Beacon’s own director of the parks and recreation department. Together, they moved the turtle by lifting it by either side of its shell, the method DEC recommends if you need to move one (see the DEC's full recommendation on how to move a turtle to safety).

Exciting times for this Tree City! Beacon is an official Tree City, as designated by New York State’s Urban Forestry Program, which “fosters comprehensive planning, management and education throughout New York to create a healthy urban and community forest and enhance quality of life,” as stated in their mission. Spotting snapping turtles is a reminder that we are surrounded by an an ecosystem of fauna and flora, turtles to treetops, and it's good to keep them healthy!

The Storm Photos - Macrobursts and Tornadoes Everywhere Ripping Down Trees, Cutting Power

The fire in this picture is on 9D, near Stony Kill Farm. A transformer exploded on the road.  Photo Credit: A Little Beacon Blog - photos taken from various sources, noted below.

The fire in this picture is on 9D, near Stony Kill Farm. A transformer exploded on the road.
Photo Credit: A Little Beacon Blog - photos taken from various sources, noted below.

Turns out that a sick day, with three kids in quarantine after a diagnosis of strep throat, was a blessing in disguise. A major storm hit Beacon (and the Hudson Highlands, NYC, CT, PA, and NJ) at around 4 pm on Tuesday, May 15. Weather watchers were expecting rain, but when warnings of hail and high winds came across the TV, severe-weather veterans took to their yards to bring in potted plants and lower the basketball hoops. My neighbor is such a veteran weather watcher that he warned me of imminent hail before I embarked on a family walk to Key Food to fill up the fridge after my little ones ate through everything. An hour after returning, my phone vibrated its insistent SOS call, which we usually only hear for Amber Alerts. Only this time, it said "Tornado in your area. Take shelter."

"This was the storm rolling in! Hudson Valley Weather called this photo a gust front!"  Photo Credit: Sheila Lassen, Mountainville, NY (Part of Cornwall)

"This was the storm rolling in! Hudson Valley Weather called this photo a gust front!"
Photo Credit: Sheila Lassen, Mountainville, NY (Part of Cornwall)

I gathered my brood, and we went straight to the basement. Thank goodness that for Mother's Day I treated myself to a bunch of new flashlights and lanterns. After a brief power outage from our winter blizzards, I realized I had no working flashlights anymore. Normally at this time of day, my husband would be working in New York City, but on Tuesday, he was headed home early (he'd been recovering from his own bout with strep) and was on 9D when the rains, macrobursts and tornadoes hit. The winds flattened trees around him and literally ripped through other trees.

At least three fatalities were blamed on the winds, which brought trees down, right onto people in cars (see details in this Highlands Current article). Three tornadoes went through Connecticut, and at least four hit New York (including one in Newburgh) bringing winds between 75 and 100 mph, spanning paths of several miles (see a photo here from Central Hudson). Some of the worst damage was caused by macrobursts that ripped through Dutchess County and other counties. Macrobursts possess wind speeds of 100 mph or more, and travel in straight lines for miles, unlike tornadoes, which have rotating, swirling, damaging winds. Central Hudson also confirmed that 1,000 lightning strikes happened per hour: “Storm with winds up to 78 MPH + 1,000 lightning strikes per hour has interrupted service to more than 72,000 customers.” Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro declared a State of Emergency, and Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a State of Emergency and deployed 125 National Guard members to help with the storm's effects.

On Wednesday, Central Hudson stated that many workers were on duty to clear trees (from street scenes like these) and restore power: “Approximately 185 line workers together with nearly 180 tree personnel are clearing roads and restoring power in our service territory today. Additionally, more than 270 mutual aid line workers are anticipated to arrive throughout the day.” See Central Hudson's trucks here restoring power.

By Thursday, that number grew: “A field force more than 1,000 strong is at work today clearing roads, responding to emergencies and restoring electric service.” They noted: “Mutual aid crews from as far as Niagara Falls, Michigan and Vermont have arrived.”

The Stony Kill wagon, a reliable sight on route 9D promoting the Open Barn, was turned over. Amazing that it did not get torn to smithereens! The wagon has since been righted back up.  Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

The Stony Kill wagon, a reliable sight on route 9D promoting the Open Barn, was turned over. Amazing that it did not get torn to smithereens! The wagon has since been righted back up.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

In Wallkill, my assistant was working on a project with me via email, and the next minute she was MIA, as the wind had ripped open a tree in her yard, and it tore apart a newly completed shed at her neighbor's house.

Castle Point, which is located along the Hudson River just north of Beacon, is the home of many families as well as the VA Hudson Valley Health Care system. Macrobursts ripped through the area. My friend's wife works at the VA hospital, and he was waiting for her to come home, as it's a 10-minute drive. She did not get home for several hours, after being stuck in Castle Point as it dealt with trees and debris that had been tossed around by wind.

Beacon school teacher Brian Antalek, who lives in Castle Point, was quoted in the Poughkeepsie Journal as having to park his car at neighboring Stony Kill Foundation and walk two miles to his home in Castle Point. One man who I encountered at the grocery store told me about the huge oak tree in his yard that blew into the next yard. Shingles and pieces of housing landed in his yard, and he could only surmise that they were from Newburgh, as they didn't match anything nearby.

A map of a tornado path in Saugerties shows a tornado traveling across the Hudson River.  Photo Credit: National Weather Service via  Hudson Valley Weather .

A map of a tornado path in Saugerties shows a tornado traveling across the Hudson River.
Photo Credit: National Weather Service via Hudson Valley Weather.

Newburgh received extensive damage, and is still recovering and still has areas without power. According to Eastern Dutchess Fire and Rescue: "Electrical substations which supplied power to the City of Newburgh sustained heavy damage requiring extensive repair. It is very possible that vast areas of the City may experience many days without electricity." Residents are boiling their water and those with gym memberships were using the facilities to shower. I got a call from a sales person living in Newburgh on Friday trying to set up a meeting, which she couldn't quite commit to, saying "I can't see anyone like this, I have to wait until the power comes back on."

Stony Kill Farm and Common Ground Farm in Fishkill suffered many trees down. A fire erupted on 9D near the farm (in the picture below with red bathroom barn). A transformer had exploded and caught fire on 9D. Stacey from Stony Kill Foundation reports that all of the farm's animals were unharmed and OK.

We had been to Stony Kill and Common Ground a week prior, on school field trips to see Common Ground Farm's pride and glory, the thriving tomatoes under the tarp greenhouses they built - which were destroyed by the winds.

An electrical fire blazing on 9D, in front of Stony Kill Farm. This view is of their bathroom facing 9D. The fire was not in any of Stony Kill's buildings and all of their farm animals are OK.  Photo Credit:  Common Ground Farm

An electrical fire blazing on 9D, in front of Stony Kill Farm. This view is of their bathroom facing 9D. The fire was not in any of Stony Kill's buildings and all of their farm animals are OK.
Photo Credit: Common Ground Farm

The greenhouse that protects the fledgling tomatoes at Common Ground Farm.  Photo Credit: Common Ground Farm

The greenhouse that protects the fledgling tomatoes at Common Ground Farm.
Photo Credit: Common Ground Farm

In Dutchess Junction, a tree fell on a power line. That caused an electrical fire for about 45 minutes until Central Hudson came and turned off the power, according to Maria Garcia Mojica, who submitted the picture below.

An electrical fire in Dutchess Junction.  Photo Credit: Maria Garcia Mojica  

An electrical fire in Dutchess Junction.
Photo Credit: Maria Garcia Mojica 

The interior designer Ryan Samuelson experienced severe damage to his home on Washington Avenue in Beacon while he was in the basement. "I was just coincidentally down in the basement grabbing something. I didn’t even know about the storm warnings. Then I felt and heard a loud crunch and knew something pretty serious just happened."

Ryan Samuelson's home on Washington Avenue in Beacon.  Photo Credit: Ryan Samuelson

Ryan Samuelson's home on Washington Avenue in Beacon.
Photo Credit: Ryan Samuelson

In Fishkill, Route 52 was brought to a standstill, contributing to the traffic blockade that delayed people for hours trying to get into or out of Beacon. The CVS pictured below is the one on Route 52 near Love Nails. These photos were submitted by Kathy Harrison.

Many construction projects are in progress here in Beacon. The most recent are those on 9D which cleared parcels of trees to prepare for the construction of new apartment buildings. One of two trees left on one property blew over (doesn't seem to be dead yet, however). Fencing blocking the other construction project blew away. A reproduction of the children's book, The Lorax, which is about preserving trees, had been posted on the fence in a statement about the removal of the trees. That portion of the fence remained through the wind blast. The fencing destroyed in the storm has since been replaced.

In Beacon, many trees came down. This yellow house on Verplanck is a known abandoned house, which is rumored to be lost in bank foreclosure paperwork. Just who will haul away this tree may not be straightforward.

Abandoned house on Verplanck.  Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Abandoned house on Verplanck.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

A tree blown down on Willow Street by the storm blocked this alternate backroads artery for two days after the storm. With 9D already limited by planned construction to finish NYSDOT ADA curb-cut ramps between Main Street and I-84, side streets like Willow, Orchard Place, Dutchess Terrace and others become back-road alternates. This made getting into or out of Beacon even more difficult. This tree below was cleared swiftly on Friday.

This Tree, down and blocking Willow Street, was Cleared away two days after the storm.  Photo Credit:  Dana Devine O'Malley

This Tree, down and blocking Willow Street, was Cleared away two days after the storm.
Photo Credit: Dana Devine O'Malley

The macrobursts took out bits and pieces of structures in their path, making some of the destruction seem random. A brick wall and bush were taken out at this house on Rombout Avenue.

A house on Rombout Avenue.  Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

A house on Rombout Avenue.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

The small Fanny Fay Girl Scout House, at the end of Rombout Avenue, is surrounded by trees. We headed over to check out if any had fallen. This one did, but fell away from the house, further into the woods.

This Tree uprooted at the end of rombout avenue, at the Fanny Fay Girl Scout House.  Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

This Tree uprooted at the end of rombout avenue, at the Fanny Fay Girl Scout House.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Please note that most businesses in Beacon are now open! Several opened soon after the storm. Some parts of Main Street were without power, while others retained it. Main Street Beacon is back in business.

Statistics on a Few Tornadoes in New York

While the macrobursts, with winds of 100 mph and higher, caused major widespread damage, here are some statistics on the recorded tornadoes.

Ulster County
Saugerties, NY

Rating: EF1
Estimated Peak Winds: 90 mph
Path Length: 5 miles
Path Width: 528 feet (0.1 mile)
Start Time: 2:29 pm
Location: The tornado path started along Route 212 between Woodstock and Saugerties and moved east through the western and southern part of Saugerties before crossing the Hudson River and ending in Tivoli, NY, just south of Clermont State Historic Site.

Orange County
Newburgh, NY

Rating: EF0
Estimated Peak Winds: 75 mph
Path Length: 0.62 miles
Path Width: 50 yards
Start Time: 4:16 pm
Location: Originated near Albany Post Road, south of Bennett Road. The tornado lifted near the Hudson River behind Susan Drive.


Putnam County, NY Tornadoes
Kent, NY

Rating: EF2
Estimated Peak Winds: 115 mph
Path Length: 100 yards
Path Width: 1.14 miles
Start Time: 4:29 pm
Location: Originated near apartments on Route 52, continuing along Route 52 before lifting near Town Road

Patterson, NY
Rating: EF1
Estimated Peak Winds: 100 mph
Path Length: 75 yards
Path Width: 2.89 miles
Start Time: 4:32 pm
Location: Originated along Route 22 north of Haviland Hollow Road, lifting near the intersection of East Branch Road and Fairfield Drive.

What was your story during the storm? Please share it in the comments below.

Beacon Organizes Mountain-to-River Earth Day Clean Up on Saturday, April 21, 2018

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The 2018 Beacon Earth Day is taking place on Saturday, April 21, and is organized by the Green Beacon Coalition and the Beacon Recreation Department. Several city leaders - from business owners to nonprofit organizers to citizens - will be stationed at some of your favorite spots around the city, like Long Dock Park, Rocky Glen, South Avenue Park, Madam Brett, and so many other places. You can find all of the locations and start times here, or scroll down in this article to get a quick glance.

Can people pick up trash any day of the year? Not just on Earth Day? Of course, says Brian DiFeo, co-founder of Green Beacon Coalition and a member of the Conservation Advisory Committee for the City of Beacon, but people should take some precautions so as to stay safe. "It's wise to plan ahead - if you notice trash on the road or in the woods, next time you go by, bring a trash bag and some gardening gloves. Better yet - invite your neighbor to join you! Part of the spirit of a community trash cleanup is doing something good together with neighbors because it builds the ties that make a place like Beacon a wonderful place to live."

After-Party of the City Wide Clean Up at Recreation Center

The cleanup generally runs from 9 to 11 am (except for the Mount Beacon and Fire Tower with Hudson Valley Hikers portion, which starts at 8:30 am), there will be a BBQ with music, the return of the Repair Cafe, and a performance by Arm of the Sea Theater at noon.

Beacon Earth Day Clean Up Locations

Beacon Reservoir with Mountain Tops
When: 9 to 11 am *might start earlier*
Meeting Location: Pocket Road Trailhead
Crew Leader: Katy Bell Behney

Long Dock Park with Zero to Go
When: 9 to 11 am
Meeting Location: Long Dock Park
Crew Leader: Sarah Womer

Rocky Glen with Beacon Greenway Committee
When: 9 to 11 am
Meeting Location: Beacon Lofts on Front Street
Crew Leader: Andy Bell

South Ave Park with Beacon Recreation Department
When:  9 to 11 am
Meeting Location: Recreation Center
Crew Leader: Mark Price

Teller Woods / Madam Brett Homestead with Beacon Historical Society
When: 9 to 11 am
Meeting Location: Madam Brett House
Crew Leader: Theresa Kraft

Mount Beacon and Fire Tower with Hudson Valley Hikers
When: 8:30 to 11 am
Meeting Location: Pocket Road Trailhead
Crew Leader: Chris Pelaia + Aaron Sterling

East end of Main Street with the Conservation Advisory Committee
When: 9 to 11 am
Meeting Location: Trax Coffee Shop
Crew Leader: Brian DiFeo

Pocket Road Trail + Fire Road with Friends of Fishkill Ridge (Local Hikers)
When: 9 to 11 am
Meeting Location: Pocket Road Trailhead
Crew Leader: Kristen Pratt + Meghan Spiro

Fishkill Ave with Friends of Beacon Dog Park
When: 9 to 11 am
Meeting Location: Beacon Dog Park
Crew Leader: TBD

Visit www.greenbeaconcoalition.org/earth-day and click the "Volunteer" location for your preferred location.

Parking Lot Expansion Plans from Scenic Hudson at Mt. Beacon Trailhead Are Voted to Move Forward

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

The City of Beacon's Planning Board voted this week to approve plans put forth by Scenic Hudson to add parking spaces at Mt. Beacon's trailhead, to address the growing problem of hikers' cars overflowing into residential areas. During the November 14, 2017, monthly Planning Board Meeting, Meg Rasmussen, Senior Park Planner for Scenic Hudson, presented the plans, which would increase the number of spots from 44 to 77. The plans incorporated requested changes to stay away from existing wetlands. Scenic Hudson maintains the public trails and parking lot at no cost to the City of Beacon.

Some main points to the enlargement project include:

  • Increasing opportunities for alternate transportation, which would include new bike racks and drop-off and pick-up points for public transit. According to David Martin, a local resident who hikes the trail often, bikes are frequently seen locked to trees.
  • Landscape design to guide people where to park using timber guardrails, "whiskers" and signs, as well as borders of native plants along the roadway. Said Meg on the effectiveness of such design at the meeting: "We are delineating the spaces with 'whiskers,' which come out of the gravel. They use them at the Mohonk Preserve very effectively. People really use them to see where they are supposed to park."
  • The decision to keep the parking lot visible from the road: The plan included a recommendation to keep the parking lot in view of the street (vs hidden from view) for safety reasons. "If we were to locate it back off the roadway... you get a lot of nuisance and partying. We have experienced that at our other preserves," explained Meg during the meeting. Planning Board member Gary Barrack expressed disfavor with the more-visible placement, and was a minority vote against the plan, saying it was is the main entry point of the mountain and should be placed behind the wetlands. "To put this parking lot in this historic spot is not the way to go."

Members of the public who were at the meeting generally supported the increase in parking, and voiced concern that it will not solve the problem of parking as the number of hikers using the area continues to soar, especially as Breakneck Ridge prepares to close for restoration. Chairman of the Board James C. Sheers said: "I applaud the applicant for trying to address this situation.  I am very concerned about the future. This will absorb a lot of what we have been seeing, but eventually it won't. Hopefully we will take steps to address it when this becomes an issue again."

Clearwater gets Rockefeller Brothers Fund Grant for Estuary Education

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Hudson River Sloop Clearwater was awarded a $15,000 grant from Rockefeller Brothers Fund to support Clearwater’s Estuary Education Initiative (EEI). This grant makes possible the new curriculum’s aim to teach thousands of children about the links between scientific research and environmental policy.

"Clearwater is pleased to accept Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s grant on behalf of the many students we serve," said Wren Longno, Clearwater's director of development. "As grassroots educators and storytellers, we are in a unique position to tell the story of how partners, including Rockefeller Brothers Fund, have worked together to create a sustainable Hudson Valley." 

Clearwater Board Chair Betsy Garthwaite said, “In 1968, Steven Rockefeller hosted one of the original gatherings to raise funds to build the Sloop Clearwater at the Rockefeller Farm Barn in Pocantico Hills. That history gives this award special meaning as we embark upon new ways of teaching the history of the Hudson River environmental movement, bringing the river to schools, and schools to the river.”  
 
Clearwater anticipates that by August 2019, this science curriculum will reach 50 educators, 5,000 students and 500 members of the public, and will be widely shared through professional development conferences and showcased prominently on the Clearwater website and social media.


About Hudson River Sloop Clearwater

Launched in 1969 by legendary folk singer and activist Pete Seeger, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater has been at the forefront of the environmental movement as champions of the Hudson River. To date, more than half a million people have experienced their first real look at an estuary’s ecosystem aboard the sloop Clearwater. Clearwater has become the grassroots model for producing positive changes to protect our planet. For more information, visit www.clearwater.org.

Rockefeller Brothers Fund

Founded in 1940, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund advances social change that contributes to a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world. The Fund's grantmaking is organized in three thematic programs that support work in the United States and at the global level: Democratic Practice, Sustainable Development, and Peacebuilding; and in two pivotal place programs that address these themes in specific contexts: Southern China, and the Western Balkans. The Charles E. Culpeper Arts & Culture program, focused on New York, nurtures a vibrant and inclusive arts community in the Fund’s home city.