Black Bear Sighting in Beacon: What's Going On and How to Stay Safe

According to Beacon Chief of Police Douglas Solomon, an adolescent black bear cub has come out of the woods into our people-populated area. Chief Solomon confirms that the last report of anyone seeing the bear and reporting it to the police was at 8:30am Friday on Sargent Avenue near Wodenethe Drive, on the "town" side of Fishkill Creek (away from the mountain), near the Beacon Board of Education.

Local parent Erin Giunta, who lives near Sargent Elementary, was getting her young daughter ready for school and just happened to look out the front door when she saw the bear crossing the school playground this morning at 8:20am. Her eye-witness account: "The bear ran across the large field near Sargent Ave. and Knevels, then crossed the gravel path, then ran on the grass between the playground and the stone wall." Giunta called Sargent Elementary School to report it, and staff acknowledged they were aware of the bear.

Right at 8:30am, a robo-call was delivered from Interim Superintendent of Beacon Schools Ann Marie Quartironi, alerting parents of "walkers" (aka kids who walk to school) that buses are out and about to pick walkers up, to bring them to school.

Chief Solomon explains it's not uncommon to see bear cubs in the springtime in this area. "Every two years, the mother bears kick their cubs out. The cubs get confused and disoriented and end up in populated areas. At some point, it will go back into the woods," he says. To aid in that effort, the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) will come down to assist police with guiding the bear back into the woods. Chief Solomon says that efforts the police department may employ are using rubber bullets or bean bags to hit the bear and encourage it to go back into the woods. Black bears are known to be docile, and are looking primarily for trash to eat.

Both Chief Solomon and local survival and tracking expert Shane Hobel, founder of Mountain Scout Survival School, say that black bears are not aggressive, but if anyone should see it, one should not engage it. Instead, says Hobel, quietly and slowly back back away without showing aggression. Hobel says that black bears are generally scared of clanging pots and pans and bells and whistles, which is why hikers often wear the latter when they are taking on mountain trails. Black bears can be skittish, and if you encounter one in your yard, Hobel says, take the approach of a docile dog on the retreat:
  • Back away slowly.
  • Don't show your teeth - it's a primal sign of aggression.
  • Don't raise your arms.
Bear sightings are also a time to raise awareness to contain trash and to keep it from blowing around. Press it down into your garbage can so as to reduce overflowage. Perhaps weekly recycling pickup will happen in Beacon, which would contribute to contained garbage cans. If you have a food compost pile in your yard, look into ways to seal it. Zero to Go are the food compost experts, and they include plastic bins that seal tightly in their food compost pickup program.

If you do have a bear sighting, make sure you're safe, then call the police to report where you saw it. This will help them guide the bear back into the woods. The information hotline to the Beacon police is 845-831-4111.

Latest Updates This Week In The Things To Do In Beacon Guides 5-22-16


Here's a quick list of what we added to ALBB this week so you can plan ahead this Spring.  As the weather gets warmer, there will be more and more fun things to do!


  • Line Dance For A Cause: Special charity event to benefit The Grace Smith House at Poughkeepsie Nissan next month on Thursday, June 23rd.
  • 2nd Annual Local Cider Market & Tasting:  Held at the Deyo House Lawn across DuBois Fort in New Paltz. There were will be many tasty goods from local vendors to sample.
This date and more are in the Events Guide, organized by month. Take a look to get a big-picture view of your month ahead!


  • Mid-Hudson Valley Infertility Support Group:  Added to our new "Support Group" category.  
  • BeaconArts Member Meet-Up: at 2 Way Brewing Company this Wednesday, May 25th, you can still sign up to join.
Find direct links to this item and more in our Adult Classes Guide.





You can always check our Restaurant Guide for the latest openings and promotions!






Find more ways to pamper yourself in our full Beauty Guide



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Do you have a class or workshop you would like us to consider adding? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or via email at editorial@alittlebeacon.com. 

Guide to Free and Easy Parking Lots in Beacon - There's a Spot in the Municipal Lots!

As of today, all parking in the City of Beacon is free (aside from any ticket you get from going beyond a two-hour parking limit). Street parking is free, and the City of Beacon owns and maintains several free parking lots throughout town. Other parking lots that you see, like the one behind Bank Square Coffee, belong to those buildings, and those buildings have a certain number of parking spots that they reserve for tenants living in apartments above, or for their own customers shopping temporarily.

This Parking Guide is Sponsored by  Antalek and Moore Insurance Agency,  located on Main Street Beacon who can save you money on car insurance.

This Parking Guide is Sponsored by Antalek and Moore Insurance Agency, located on Main Street Beacon who can save you money on car insurance.

There are several parking opportunities that do not involve risks of tickets or time limits, if you know where to go. In our instant-gratification mindset, it is easy to look for parking on Main Street directly in front of your destination, and slide into a spot via whichever parallel parking maneuver you have perfected. Main Street, however, is quite slim, making getting out of the car risky business. A passing truck may swipe your side-view mirror right off of your car. Or, if you folded in your mirror when you park, you may forget to look behind you and open your door - right into an oncoming car - causing you to lose a door and have to deal with damage on someone else's vehicle (and hopefully everyone is unharmed). You can imagine what it is like getting out of the car, and then opening the back door to reach into unfasten a child from a car seat. Nerve wracking. What about getting out a stroller in the space between your car and the car behind you? Or what if you were in a wheelchair, or needed a wide-open door and plenty of space to slowly get out of the car in a handicapped spot (there are only a few directly on Main Street)?

Depending on the time of day, hopping down Main Street to complete a collection of errands and finding different parallel parking spots to park in can be easy. But swinging into a big giant parking lot could be even easier and less stressful. May we present A Little Beacon Blog's Free and Easy Parking Lot Guide!

FOLLOW THE SIGNS

To start our tour of free parking lots in Beacon, NY, we need to get familiar with the signs. Unless you have just taken your driver's test, you may not remember what official free parking signs look like. They look like this:

A Free Parking sign is green with a giant P and an arrow pointing in the direction of the parking lot. It is posted near most free parking lots in Beacon, but not all, or not in both directions.

Take note of the other style of a sign that has the big "2" on it. This part of the sign also means free parking on the street itself, but the "2" stands for "2 hour parking" and the time limit of 9am - 5pm means that you are limited to 2hr parking basically during work hours. After 5pm, you can park on the street all night without risk of getting a ticket. If you park on the street for longer than 2 hours, you are at risk for getting a ticket.

We know that enforcement of this rule is a current hot topic among residents and business owners, as it is not usually enforced. When a recent debate about parking meters coming to Main Street was awakened this year, however, this rule has moved into the spotlight, so don't be surprised if you do start getting a ticket for parking longer than 2 hours on Main Street. Which is why ample parking in free, city owned parking lots comes in handy!

We begin our tour of free parking lots with the west end of town, near the Metro North Train Station, and will end it on the east side of town near the mountain.

The official map of free parking lots and 2hr parking areas from the City of Beacon.

1 MUNICIPAL PLAZA

A little known fact is that parking at 1 Municipal Plaza is available to the public from 5pm - 11pm, and on Saturdays and Sundays.

CROSS STREET & MAIN STREET

Next is the small parking lot behind Hudson Beacon Glass, on Cross Street right off of Main Street.

Parking behind Hudson Beach Glass, and across the street from the popup garden from One Nature and Green Teen.

A close-up of that paring lot on Cross Street.

PARKING LOT ON CLIFF STREET NEAR BEACON BREAD COMPANY

Easy parking for dining at Beacon Bread Company, dropping of a dog at Paw's and Mittens, picking up dog food at Beacon Barkery or wine Artisan Wine, or swinging by Poppy's for a burger.

Parking at Cliff and Main, entrance on Main Street.

The parking lot next to Beacon Bread Company. The Free Parking sign is shows on one side of the street only, so you may have missed it going the other way.

PARKING LOT NEAR PLEASANT RIDGE PIZZA & THE GAS STATION

One may think this lot is private, but it is free and open for you to use. And here's a hot tip: this gas station has some of the lowest priced gas in Beacon. #justsayin

Parking lot near Diamond Fuel gas station and Pleasant Ridge.

DMV PARKING LOT ACROSS FROM HOMESPUN & VOGEL PHARMACY

Across the street from this gas station, and near Homespun and AccuPrint, is a giant parking lot owned by the county, but free for you to park in - on the weekends only. You may not have noticed this because the sign telling you about it has been covered up with graffiti.

Understandable if you missed this memo.

The DMV parking lot is rarely used on the weekends, as you can see from this picture, and is convenient to use for learning how to ride your bike. Unless you all start parking there, of course.

CHURCH STREET AND N. CHESTNUT BEHIND RITE AID

Another huge parking lot that is convenient to get to thanks to a rare two-way side street giving you access, is the lot behind Rite Aid, Quinn's, BAJA 328 and Antalek & Moore. Although it seems like this parking lot is far away from a quick trip into Rite Aid, or lunch at BAJA, it's actually right around the corner. Quinn's also has an entry door from the back. Additionally, there are more on-street parking spots on the far edge of this parking lot, across from the residential houses. Skateboarders usually use these empty parking spots, but you can too!

Follow North Chestnut down toward Church Street, and you'll be able to pull into the large municipal lot.

Handicapped parking spots are in this parking lot, and on the street.

HENRY STREET BEHIND YANKEE CLIPPER DINER

Next we go to the Yankee Clipper Diner. If you frequent this diner for a weekend waffle or dinner with a milkshake, you'll know this parking lot well, as the Yankee Clipper has two entrances that include ramps for wheelchair access. The Towne Cryer is also located here, which is easy parking for attending dinner and a show.

Parking behind the Yankee Clipper Diner.

HENRY STREET BEHIND COMMUNITY MEDIAL CENTER & POST OFFICE

Next to the parking lot behind the Yankee Clipper Diner, and across the street from Veteran's Place (the cross street where you will find the Post Office and Towne Cryer), is this parking lot behind the Community Medical Center. On Sunday's, this parking lot becomes the location for the Beacon Flea.

Parking lot behind on Henry Street and Veteran's Place, behind the Community Medical Center.

Look! The Beacon Flea got an official sign about no parking on Sundays!

This parking lot is great for runs to the post office when on street parking is full.

VAN NYDECK AVENUE BY BROTHERS TRATTORIA

Picking up pizza can be tricky if street parking is full (and you cannot sneak into The Vault's parking lot because that is private), but you can take a right down Van Nydeck right next to Brother's Trattoria and park in that free parking lot.

This parking lot does have 3 handicapped parking spots adjacent to this building.

This view of the parking lot is stretched out in order to get the panned view, but it still offers several parking spots.

A more normal view of this parking lot behind Brother's.

CHURCHILL STREET  BY THE NEW HUDSON VALLEY BREWERY BY FISHKILL CREEK

Beacon's newest parking lot, still freshly graveled, is down near the Fishkill Creek right next to

Hudson Valley Brewery,

Beacon's latest factory renovation project that restored a building for use as a brewery and event space. This ample parking lot does require walking up a short hill to get back onto Main Street, so is not ideal for those who need handicap access. However, for large dinner parties and easy shopping parking, just turn down Churchill, park, and think no more about it!

The walk up Churchill to get back on Main Street. Vintage Beacon is waiting for you at the top of the hill.

MAIN STREET & VERPLANK NEAR THE GREEN ROOM

We are now almost to the end of Main Street. If you get your hair done at The Green Room, this parking lot is very convenient. However, it is often full. The front half is city-owned and free parking, but the back half is for tenants of the building you see in this picture on the left. Parking on the east end is difficult to find in part because of the amount of stores that have opened up there. I call this end "Boutique Row" (do check our

Shopping Guide

for a full listing). If you're looking at this parking lot for dining at The Hop, you should instead look across the street and parallel park along the Fishkill Creek side of Main Street, or down Churchill Street in the new, as yet unpaved parking lot.

On this bench, you may have noticed guitar players or others relaxing near the creek.

The Hop is in this building near this street sign and the free parking lot.

All of the free parking lots are owned and maintained by the City of Beacon, which makes doing anything in any part of Beacon's mile long strip of Main Street convenient.

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This Guide is brought to you by the

Things To Do In Beacon Guides,

and by

Antalek & Moore,

your local source for car insurance with a variety of national carriers including Progressive and Travelers. We thank them for their support, which helps make articles like this get researched and produced! All photos for this article were taken by Katie Hellmuth Martin, and the design of the ad for

Antalek and Moore

done by

Leigh Baumann

from A Little Beacon Blog's design agency,

InHouse Design Media.

Latest Updates This Week In The Things To Do In Beacon Guides 5-1-16


Happy May, everyone! Here's a quick list of what we added to ALBB this week so you can plan ahead this Spring. As the weather gets warmer, there will be more and more fun things to do!


  • Burger & Beer Bash: Held this year at Dutchess Stadium on Thursday, August 11th. Tickets on sale now!
  • City-Wide Yard Sale: Taking place June 11th throughout Beacon
  • Bija Beacon Homestead BBQ & Art Opening: A free event featuring art from R.A. McBride
  • Howland Public Library Awards Ceremony: A benefit for the Howland Public Library Savoit Fund
  • Howland Cultural Center Monthly Events: including Open Mic Night, Bridge Club, Community Chorus, May Art Exhibit and more.
All of these dates are in the Events Guide, organized by month. Take a look to get a big-picture view of your month ahead!


  • Prenatal & Parenting classes: Added to Waddle n Swaddle in Beacon
Check our Adult Classes Guide for more updates.



  • Playdates (0-3 years): Added to Waddle n Swaddle on Thursdays, 1:00-2:30 pm

Check our Kids Classes Guide for more updates.


  • Barb's Butchery: Prepare your next slow-cooked meal or sausage breakfast for the week ahead, and save 20%! Visit Barb’s Butchery's Frozen Foods ‘fridge, where all frozen rib-eye and sausage are 20% off.
You can always check our Restaurant Guide for the latest openings and promotions!






  • Society of Lash is our newest member “Stand Out!” sponsor, making women mysteriously more beautiful than ever!
Find more ways to pamper yourself in our full Beauty Guide



/www.alittlebeaconblog.com//p/things-to-do-in-beacon-ny.html


Do you have a class or workshop you would like us to consider adding? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or via email at editorial@alittlebeacon.com. 

Beacon Considers After-School Program - Will It Get Approved?

City of Beacon considers a new after-school program from the Beacon Recreation Department. Parent support is needed to help council vote to provide startup funding.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Beacon is booming with class options for kids, both after school and during the day from private businesses run by creative types, but there is no official after-school program from the City of Beacon. Until, perhaps, now. Parks and Recreation Director Mark Price has been listening to residents' requests for such a program, and has put together a proposal on behalf of the City of Beacon Recreation Department for a self-sustaining, "enrichment-based" after-school program for grades K-5, which he plans to present to City Council during an April 25th City Council meeting. His proposed programming would include Homework Enrichment time, rounded out with themed days like Ninja Class, Cooking School, Yoga, Artists and Musicians

However, Price needs to show the council strong indication that parents will buy into the program before he is granted city money to get funding and staff to kick off the program. "This program is a big deal. It gives me goosebumps," says Price. Residents are being encouraged by Price and by Beacon's Interim Superintendent, Ann Marie Quartironi, to answer a four-question survey about the program so that Price can have the data to analyze the level of interest he is working with. Parents are also encouraged to email support to their council representative (if you don't know what Ward you live in and who represents you, you can click here for an interactive map, and then here for a list of council members and email addresses).

Track Record of City Funding

Price's recent track record of using city funds to start a program was proven successful last summer when he received city funding to re-open Beacon's public pool, after years of it being dry and forgotten, overgrown by weeds at the Settlement Camp on 9D (aka Wolcott Avenue). Season passes sold out last year, and often the pool was so well-attended that capacity maxed out and people waited on the lawn outside the pool in order to get in. So far, 100 of the 200 season passes to the pool have been sold, with day passes available, which help the public pool remain self-sustained.

Is Beacon Catching Up to Other Cities and Towns?

Fishkill has a successful after-school program that works with one of the four elementary schools in Beacon, Glenham Elementary. The health club All Sport has been promoting its new after-school program with busing for kids in the Wappingers District. For Beacon parents who need busing and full-day coverage while at work or commuting, the only option is to have children bused from their respective elementary schools to a daycare center in the area. For parents who work from home or have flexible schedules, the work day pauses at 3pm so that children can be picked up and taken home or to afternoon classes in other programs, like at Tri-Arts, Beacon Craft Workshop, the Howland Public Library or even to Fishkill's Recreation Center (for a list of kids classes, please see A Little Beacon Blog's Kids Classes Guide).

What Will the After-School Program Look Like?

Photo Credit: Clarice Allee
Both Price and Quartironi have expressed a desire to take advantage of the creative talents who live in Beacon, who already offer programs to kids. Each of the three elementary schools (South Avenue, J.V. Forrestal and Sargent) would have a program within their building that is run by the Beacon Recreation Department, so that no busing would be necessary. Glenham's program with Fishkill's Recreation Department would not change. It is undecided at this time if it will include kids who are "Busers," which defines kids who need to wait in designated areas of their school for their bus to take them home or to another after-school program, and often have long wait times for their bus. There will be snack time, homework encouragement time (not a formal tutoring session at this time), and then programming that could involve recess time, arts and crafts, ninja-based activities, cooking, etc.

There will be a fee of $13-$15 per day and care would run until 6pm. Parents can select which days they sign up for, and do not need to commit to five days a week. It is undecided at this time if the days that a family picks can be changed as needed.

If approved, the after-school program would start in the 2016-2017 school year. "With a program like this, everyone wins," says Price. "It helps the Recreation Department get more programs and staff to run and promote those programs." Price estimates that he needs more than 105 families to participate.

If you are interested in seeing this program happen, three actions are encouraged:
  1. Take the super-short survey online here.
  2. Email your Ward representative, emails for whom can be found here, and if you don't know what Ward you live in, just click here, and zoom in on your house and click on it.
  3. Attend the City Council meeting on April 25, where Council Members will be looking to see how many people would actually financially buy into this program.

RELATED GUIDE: Summer Day Camp Guide for Ages 3-17 for Beacon and Hudson Valley Kids

RELATED GUIDE: Kids Classes Guide for Beacon and Hudson Valley Kids


Lottery for Long Dock Kayak Storage Starts Now! A Sure Sign of Spring!

The kayak pavilion at Long Dock Park prior to rental season.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin




Spring has been showing its frostier side around the Hudson Valley recently, but steamy hot days will be here before we know it. What better way to cool off than heading to the Hudson River, and what better way to enjoy the crisp waters than in a kayak or canoe? If you have your own river-faring vessel like a kayak, you have a shot to store it right at Long Dock Park in Beacon!


That’s right, the 7th annual lottery for kayak/canoe storage at Scenic Hudson’s pavilion at Long Dock is happening. Now through Friday, April 22, 2016, hopeful paddlers can enter the lottery by filling out a form here at Scenic Hudson’s website. People whose entries are drawn from the lottery will be notified by Friday, April 29. The storage pavilion's season runs from May 7 to October 31, and use of the storage costs $175. If you have any other questions, call Laura Sumner at (845) 473-4440, ext. 247, or email her at lsumner@scenichudson.org

The area that we now know and love as Long Dock wasn't always so welcoming, however. For many decades, it was a bit of a wasteland. A history of industrial use and general neglect left a lot for Scenic Hudson to turn around. But turn it around they have, after some serious cleanup and soil remediation work, not to mention the incredible landscaping with Hudson Valley native plant species. The park has even won prestigious national awards for its design and - in true Beacon fashion - environmentally friendly aspects! Thousands of people now visit Long Dock every year to spot wildlife (including bald eagles!) and enjoy the expansive river views. Check A Little Beacon Blog's Annual Events Guide for when Scenic Hudson conducts their riverside cleanups, and sign up for our newsletter that tells you what is going on each weekend so that you don't miss it!

If you haven't tried kayaking or canoeing, you can still get hooked on paddling. Longtime Beacon shop Mountain Tops Outfitters rents watercraft by the hour or day, and they even run kayak tours from Long Dock to Denning's Point and Bannerman Island during the summer. Who knows - you might enjoy it so much that you'll be a 2017 lottery hopeful!

Pilot Program for Weekly Recycling Pickup from Royal Carting Begins in Beacon, NY


Recycling has never been easier, thanks to single-stream recycling, which is when all recyclable items - such as paper fibers, plastics, metals, and other containers - are mixed into one garbage can in your driveway and dumped into a collection truck, which for Beacon, happens every other week. Additionally, the City's refuse costs have actually decreased as a result of single-stream recycling, according to James P. Constantino, General Counsel for Royal Carting Service Co.

The one drawback most people have with their single-stream recycling is that the cans for collection are smaller and are picked up every other week, resulting in excess recyclable waste going to the landfill, and those green cans with the orange tops being in a perpetual state of overflow. Until now ... for select Beacon residents.

Pilot Program for Weekly Recycling Pickup

Royal Carting Service Co., Beacon's solid waste and recycling collection company, is starting a Pilot Program of weekly recycling pickup for select residents of Beacon's Wards 1 and 4 from April 4th to May 27th to see if weekly recycling pickup would be financially viable. Residents who are in the program received a flyer from Royal Carting, and those who did not receive a flyer, yet still live in those wards, are not in the program, according to Mr. Constantino.

Sarah Womer, a local advocate for moving as much waste as possible away from local landfills as the founder of Zero to Go, an education-based waste management company focused on composting and recycling and who is not connected to this Pilot Program, is hopeful about the program. "The weekly recycling pickup is a great initiative for the City to be piloting with Royal. Many people have much more recyclables than can fit in their cans supplied by the City and Royal, and wish to see this additional pickup to keep their household recycling strong, and keep our city streets clear of blowing items that fall out of overflowing bins. "

When asked if there was any grant money involved with funding the program, Mr. Constantino replied: "Royal Carting did not apply for nor did it receive any grant funds to conduct the Pilot Program. Royal Carting, on its own volition, proposed to conduct the program to accumulate data to allow the City to determine whether offering weekly recycling pickup would be financially viable."

Measuring Success

Success of the Pilot Program, according to Mr. Constantino, will be measured on participation rates and the increase in tonnage of waste that is streamed to recycling from the Pilot Program participants. In other words, fill up those orange lidded cans with approved recyclable materials!

The first step in the process will be to evaluate participation levels and hopefully increase diversion from the municipal solid waste stream to recycling. "With that information," says Mr. Constantino, "Royal Carting will be in a position to evaluate not only the additional cost of the service, but also, working with City officials, to determine what, if any, additional tax cost may be associated with increasing the service."

Should Beacon move forward with weekly recycling pickup, it would join the ranks of Fishkill, Wappingers Falls and Poughkeepsie, who all conduct weekly pickup.

RELATED ARTICLE: Going To The Dump: What Happens at Beacon's Transfer Station/Recycling Center

Look For ALBB In The Peter Pan Playbill Program! Congratulations, Beacon High School Students!

https://www.facebook.com/alittlebeaconblog/photos/a.582965241735890.1073741825.250571758308575/1144084538957288/?type=3&theater

Happy Times... A Little Beacon Blog is supporting Peter Pan, the high school play put on by Beacon Players, with a page in the playbill! Curtains go up April 7th, and Peter will actually be flying! It's all very exciting to watch proud parents take pictures of their kids practicing their makeup and Lost Boy hair styles in social media. Last year's production of Aladdin was very impressive, with very large elephants and other animals (fret not; they were puppets) walking through the aisles of seats in Beacon High School's theater.

Get your tickets now from the Beacon Players website, as this one may sell out!

Operation Meter Maid: Polling Businesses on Main Street for Parking Meter Debate

Operation Meter Maid: A Little Beacon Blog sets out to poll local businesses on Main Street to see if they are in favor of or against paid parking or metered parking on Main Street.
Marilyn Perez, Blog Production and Social Media Coordinator for A Little Beacon Blog
steps away from the computer to pose as a meter maid for this picture.

UPDATE 3/7/16: This article was shared on Facebook and has over 45 votes so far from the public.

The Great Parking Meter Debate in Beacon has started - again. Why is our little city talking about parking meters all of a sudden? According to a recent article in The Paper from Beacon beat reporter Jeff Sims, this debate is an overflow issue that stemmed from talks with the developers of The Beacon Theater. The development talks have brought to light the so-called "1964 provision," which requires a building built after 1964 to provide a certain number of off-street parking spaces, based on the building's use; those constructed before 1964 do not. The Beacon Theater was built in 1934.

For the regular resident, however, the issue is its own: It's entirely possible we'll be getting parking meters that we (as a city) need to pay for, get tickets from, and need to plan ahead to bring money for. On the other end of the spectrum, the streets won't get parking meters or paid parking, and we'll just pull our cars up to a building, run inside to do something, and move along down the street to run inside somewhere else.

City Council members like George Mansfield are intending for the paid parking on Main Street to incentivize people to walk more, according to the March 4th article in The Paper. Mayor Randy Casale, who has shown how much he values streetscaping on Main Street by watering the hanging baskets of flowers himself, told the Poughkeepsie Journal: “We’re doing it because we believe parking is not free, [that] there is a cost to parking,” he said. “We believe that parking spaces in Main Street should be turned over. They shouldn’t be able to park there all day.”

Poughkeepsie has recently announced that the city will eliminate its paid parking on Saturdays, at the request of local businesses. (The program started less than a year ago, in June.) Additionally, the article reveals, revenue collected from the parking meters was low on Saturdays. The rate will also be lowered from $1.50 per hour to $1 per hour.

Beacon's proposed starting point is $1 per hour. This isn't the first time Beacon has had parking meters, or paid street parking. We reached out to the Beacon Historical Society to help us with a search back in time to see how Beacon's paid parking worked out the first time. They dug deep into Google and found an article published in 1979 in The Evening News. According to that article, a 70 percent shortfall in projected revenue from parking meters in Beacon was cited as a reason to remove the meters. In that same story, Mayor George Tomlinson said, “I think this [the removal of the parking meters] gives the merchants a wonderful opportunity.”



Being that we are keepers of The Things To Do In Beacon Guides, which involve all shops on Main Street, we are particularly interested in the outcome of the parking meters. Mayor Casale has suggested using a different kind of parking meter system, which would involve electronically tagging a license plate so that a car could move spaces during the day. Would that modern method make a difference?

Therefore, this weekend we are launching Operation Meter Maid, and asking all shop owners for their opinions on paid parking. If you are a shop owner, please comment below or email editorial@alittlebeaconblog.com with this information:
  • Your name (indicate if you want to remain anonymous in the article publishing the poll results)
  • Your store name and address (same as above if you wish for anonymity, but indicate the area of town your store is located in)
  • Your answer: 
    • Yes to paid parking or meters
    • No to paid parking or meters
    • I don't have time to think about it - I'm sure it will work out

/www.alittlebeaconblog.com//p/things-to-do-in-beacon-ny.html

To be continued...

Beacon Historical Society Begins Fundraising for a New Home - Kickoff at Beacon Bath and Bubble


On the coldest night of winter this season (as recorded on cell phones in the area), the Beacon Historical Society joined in February's Second Saturday fun with a gallery opening at Beacon Bath and Bubble. The event's purpose: to kick off their fundraising goal of raising money for a new physical home. The ever-expanding collection of more than 2,000 artifacts and historic materials including photos, letters, maps, and paintings has outgrown its current digs at the Howland Cultural Center. The Beacon Historical Society was formed in 1976 with the mission to "preserve, procure, and present Beacon’s heritage and history." To aid in that mission, a search has begun for a permanent location for a Beacon History Museum, which would serve as a place to store the heritage-focused collection, as well as being an educational destination for people to learn about Beacon across the centuries.

During the fundraiser, I interviewed Diane Lapis, a trustee at the Beacon Historical Society and one of the organizers of the night's event. Lapis ex planed to me how the Beacon Historical Society acquires its artifacts and why the organization needs a new home. The interview was originally broadcast live on A Little Beacon Blog's Periscope channel. If you're at home and want to catch live snippets with us out and about, definitely follow our handle @alittlebeacon! The broadcast only lasts for 24 hours over there, so we upload them to our YouTube channel, to which you can also subscribe.



Despite the frigid weather, art galleries on Main Street did have people inside, but you may not have seen them, thanks to the steamy windows! Beacon Bath and Bubble, located in the former home of The Hop, was nice and cozy inside, filled with devout supporters of this community and of the Beacon Historical Society.


Beacon Bath and Bubble made a custom-designed green soap for the occasion, fitting for the Irish in Beacon's history, as well as a bright reminder for the upcoming Irish parade.


During the gallery showing, captions were matched with pictures, enabling visitors to fall back into different decades of Beacon's history.

In this picture, a woman in a plaid dress, matching bonnet, and day gloves
crosses the street with her daughter, who wears a matching outfit.

An aerial photo of the property now known as The Roundhouse. The caption reveals why
the building was originally round - to accommodate the blacksmith stations built
around a large, central hearth. The Beacon Historical Society has evidence that
the building was once a place where the first lawnmowers were made in America,
in 1860-1870. However, the building dates back to 1820, so it has had many lives.
In addition to snagging a bar or two of the special soap, visitors had several ways to donate during the evening, including buying the Beacon Centennial book and raffle tickets. Support - philosophical and financial - was apparent just by opening the book. Local businesses commemorate important times in Beacon's history, as in this ad from Antalek & Moore, which was founded in 1853, and who through their family-owned insurance business knows the history of most homes in this community.
 

The Beacon Centennial book is for the most part divided into two-page chapters. A chapter on Urban Renewal is a page-stopper. Just as you're flipping through the book, there's a picture of a Victorian home being pushed over by a bulldozer - shocking, and revealing a pivotal point in our nation's history.

In the 1960s, federally funded programs aided communities in clearing out abandoned, decaying, or outdated buildings, with the intention of restoring life to those properties.With a controversial vote of 3-2 from Beacon's city council at the time, 205 homes and 142 buildings were torn down, according to Beacon Historical Society. This included buildings on Main Street, as well as the waterfront. Structures like the one Bank Square Coffeehouse is in is not the original, but was rebuilt as a shopping center for the west end of Main Street to take advantage of the then-new 9D corridor and Newburgh-Beacon Bridge. Urban Renewal programs ended in the 1970s, when "inflationary pressures forced the federal government to withdraw funds for any future renewal," according to the book. Although more than 500 new housing units and 250,000 square feet of new industrial space were created by Urban Renewal programs, it is only because of the cease in funding that many buildings, considered historic today, are still standing.

Page 44 in "Beacon at 100, 1913-2013" that gives an overview of the
controversial Urban Renewal project that Beacon participated in.
There are many ways to get involved with the Beacon Historical Society: You might become a member, donate funds, volunteer, or donate historical items. However you decide to get involved, your view of Beacon is sure to be enriched, and reviewing our city's past will help you form opinions on development projects and cultural opportunities to come. 

Longtime Beacon resident Kate (Sandford) Rabe, of Kate Rabe Consulting, attended the event, and declared: "I was so happy that I braved the cold and made it to the Historical Society event at Beacon Bath and Bubble. As a lifelong resident of Beacon, I have never really given much thought to the changes that have occurred in Beacon over the years, not just in my life but also everything that my family has seen over the past 65+ years that they have lived here. I have my membership application filled out and ready to send. I want to become part of keeping this greatness alive!"

P.S.: If you want to stay in the loop on current development projects, you can have videos emailed to you along with the City of Beacon's newsletter. You can also watch the City Council meetings and Planning Board meetings on the Municipal Channel of your TV.  

P.P.S: If you're reading this article way in the future, and that newsletter link doesn't work and has changed, then check the City of Beacon's website for any updated link. We try to keep links updated through the history of this publication, but here's a backup ... just in case!


Those Librarians are Busy at the Howland Public Library!

Eddie the Lilac Lion poses for his #LibraryShelfie at the Howland Public Library's Shelfie Week on Instagram.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Sarah Blakeslee


If you're not already following the Howland Public Library's Instagram feed or subscribing to their newsletter, you are missing out on exciting action! The staff at Beacon's public library, the Howland Public Library, has been quite busy with upgrades and innovations. Just when we wanted to blog about their clever Food for Fines program, they went and completed the construction on their new automatic doors!

Food for Fines Program - Ends February 28th

In lieu of paying fines, the library kicked off a Food for Fines program that ran from January 1 - February 28th* (if you're reading this before then, there is still time to pay off those fines with creative ideas for local food pantries in Beacon). The library's new director, Amy Raff, experienced a successful variation of this program at her former library, focusing on toiletries for food pantries, as those can be overlooked when rummaging through cupboards for food. Socks are often the most needed by people who depend on food pantries and other charitable outlets.

As food pantries have been in the news a lot in Beacon, it has drawn attention to the senior community, a large proportion of those who use such programs. Not only do seniors need socks, they sometimes also need help for incontinence issues. Therefore, for my own fines for four overdue DVDs, my donation was absorbent underwear for women, and black and white socks. What did you donate?

*The Food for Fines Program was extended till the end of February due to upgrade-based library closures and national holidays that happened in February.


Easier to Use Computers and Rent DVDs

Announced just before 2016 started, the library unveiled new rules to make accessing their resources more time-friendly and less costly. The big changes are:
  • Overdue fines for DVDs are now 25 cents a day (instead of $1.00). 
  • DVD series (with more than 2 DVDs) now circulate for 14 days (instead of 7 days).
  • Each item may now be renewed twice, if there is no hold on it (instead of once). 
  • Use the public computers for 2 hours per day (instead of 1 hour per day). P.S.: You can thank Beacon Reads, the little bookstore next door with the FREE cart of books out front, for help in raising money to provide those computers!
  • Use the computers if you owe less than $50 (instead of $10).
Now, don't go crazy with your lateness habits. Books, DVDs and other resources are in hot demand by other public libraries! Changes made to the computer-use rules will certainly help expand the types of work to be done on library computers, such as a bigger research project instead of quick email checking.

New Automatic Doors for Better Accessibility!

Taking a cue from Rite Aid's 2014 upgrade almost across the street, the Howland Public Library modernized with new automatic doors! The previous doors were very difficult to get through, especially if you were pushing a stroller, pulling a kid wagon, or using a wheelchair. And with the great programming at Beacon's library, the senior and kid communities are regulars! The entrance now has two rows of glass doors that slide open, providing a new source of natural light around the front desk area. According to the library, this accessibility upgrade was made possible, in part, by a construction grant from The New York State Department of Education/New York State Library.

Check out the Howland Public Library's new director, Amy Raff, demonstrate walking through the doors on the library's Instagram feed:

Up Next: New Public Bathrooms!

As if the changes couldn't get any better - even the bathrooms are getting an upgrade! It's a real page-turner over there at the library as they keep us on our toes.

Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) Registration Is Open for Beacon City Schools

You may be a new family in town, or a family who moved to Beacon a few years ago, and now your child is almost 4, and is ready for Beacon's Universal Pre-K Program! And if you do not have kids, or your kids are grown but you have neighbors who do not know about Beacon's Pre-K option yet, pass along this article to them because the time to register is now. After registration, acceptance letters go out at the end of July, according to a flyer from the Beacon City School District (BCSD). (By July, BCSD will know its guaranteed funding from New York state.)

Last year, we did an article on Beacon's participation in New York's Universal Pre-K Program, linked here if you want to learn more about it. But here is what you need to know to get signed up this year:

Meet Gail the Registrar with Paperwork Neatly Stacked

Your child must be 4 years of age by December 1, 2016. You will need:

  • Registration Packet from the Beacon City School District (BCSD). Click here for the links to download and print the packet and handbook (scroll all the way to the bottom) and follow all directions. Note: If you are a mother who is married and did not change her last name, Gail may ask for your marriage license. This item is not included in the 2016 Packet that you are printing out, but it may come up during your appointment. There are other notes in that packet for different parenting situations, including unmarried parents of the child being registered who live together, so do read it carefully so that you have everything that the Registrar is asking for.
  • Two Proofs of Residency. The parent or legal guardian of the child needs to reside in Beacon.
  • Birth Certificate. Child's original birth certificate
  • Proof of Immunization

Call Mrs. Gail Morgan to set up your appointment at (845) 838-6900, extension 2002.

Program Times, Snacks and Busing 

You can select between two sessions: Morning (8:40am-11:10am) or Afternoon (12:40pm-3:10pm). Busing is available to children who live at least 1.5 miles away from their school. Breakfast or lunch are offered for a fee, or your child may be eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. Buying lunch at school is as slick as it is for college students who have meal plan cards. Your child is assigned an ID number, and you can refill their meal plans online.

Limited Seats

There are a limited number of seats available for kids in each of Beacon's four elementary schools: 

J.V. Forrestal, Glenham, South Avenue, and Sargent. You are assigned to whichever school you live in the zone for. However, if capacity is reached in your child's "home school," as it is known by the district, then the next closest school with an available opening will be offered to your child for placement.

Satellite Schools Offering Universal Pre-K

There are several very good, privately owned Pre-K programs in Beacon for kids ages 3-5. A Little Beacon Blog will be producing a Guide that showcases these schools so that you have them all in one place. Private programs do have the option to offer Beacon's Universal Pre-K from within their walls, should your child already attend that child care center or preschool and you'd like a price break. In order to do so, schools must apply to the program, and "meet or exceed" standards. Not all private programs apply to Universal Pre-K, as they would need to meet certain requirements or jump through a lot of hoops to be accepted.

For the 2016-2017 year, two such programs are offering Universal Pre-K for their 4-year-old programs: Rose Hill Manor Day School and Cedar Street Day Care. If you are already attending either of those schools, do let your administrators know of your desire to be a part of the program at their facilities. Keep in mind, that there are limited seats for Universal Pre-K in the private satellite programs, and approval of participation at the state level of those facilities can always delay or change plans. Please note that each year is different in terms of which daycares offer it, and how many slots they get.

What Happened at the Board of Education Meeting January 11, 2016, andan Interview with Dr. Walkley


Something has been brewing in Beacon for quite some time, and it is all coming to a head now. The escalating situation - discussed among parents, teachers, and district administrators over several years - has now caught the attention of regional media after a parent (who is also a lawyer) filed a petition asking that the board remove Beacon's current superintendent.

[UPDATE] 1/22/16: After a Special Board of Education meeting was called on 1/21/16, Dr. Walkley handed in her resignation. A statement was given by the board via press release stating that they "accepted, with regret" her resignation and that they appreciated her work for the students of the Beacon City School District over the course of different periods where she served in interim positions. The Board of Education has appointed Deputy Superintendent Ann Marie Quartironi to serve as Interim Superintendent as the Board considers their options for hiring the next Superintendent of Schools.

BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING CANCELED

A regularly scheduled Board of Education (BOE) Meeting on January 11, 2016, was canceled when only three of the nine board members showed up, not enough to qualify as a quorum as required to make decisions on agenda items. This happened the same day an article was published in the Poughkeepsie Journal highlighting the above-mentioned petition, which was filed on December 1, 2015. Dr. Barbara Walkley, Beacon's current superintendent, was initially present at the meeting. The meeting was canceled after the remainder of the board members did not arrive, as seen in this Twitter video by Nina Schutzman, who wrote the article highlighting the petition. Schutzman is an investigative reporter at the Poughkeepsie Journal who often covers Board of Education meetings in other districts, and also live-tweets them, which means that she gives play-by-plays of what is being said in an event on Twitter. Should you need to follow other meetings or court hearings, check out her twitter.


MEETING CONTINUED

While the BOE meeting was canceled, most in attendance stayed. This included some Beacon City School District staff, parents, teachers, state Senator Terry Gipson, and others. More than 370 people were in the Seeger Theatre at Beacon High School, the setting for these meetings. The security staff, who usually have a mellow night of greeting people and pointing to which door they should walk through, had a very active evening as more and more people showed up. There was one outbreak of an almost-fight between two or three very grown men, with several other men intervening, a few flipping of birds, and then disbanding.

Parents and other concerned parties delivered speeches and remarks as planned until 8pm, at which point the meeting ended. Normally these speeches would have taken place during the official "Public Session" portion of the evening, which is when members of the public can sign up to present a one-sided comment, question, praise or grievance. After a Public Session, the Board offers a one-sided response to the comment. Sometimes, the comments make it into the official minutes, but to be fully informed, it's best to watch the Board of Education meeting videos. (Between keeping up on those as well as recordings of the City of Beacon Planning Board and City Council meetings, it's not clear when we'll get back to binge-watching regular Netflix or Amazon shows.)

NEW CANDIDATES FOR BOARD OF EDUCATION ANNOUNCED

The new teachers' union President John Burns spoke at the canceled Board of Education Meeting, as did several parents from a newly announced group called Advocates for Beacon Schools, which has been organizing since last summer and has developed a press release that details areas where they have seen and experienced missed opportunities, including grant applications.

Three people also announced their candidacy for trustee seats on the Board of Education, including Meredith Heuer, the Chair of Beacon Arts and Education Foundation (BAEF), an organization that since 2004 has existed solely to raise money for Beacon City Schools through different initiatives including the Calico Ball, and pursuing grants, and is credited with buying new musical instruments for students among other improvements for the schools. Over the years, BAEF has raised a total of $80,000 for the Beacon City School District.

Antony Tseng, a director of the Beacon Volunteer Ambulance Corps, also announced he was running. The third candidate, Michael Rutkoske, is the husband of the filer of the above-mentioned petition, and also announced his candidacy for a seat on the board.

NEXT STEPS

A Special BOE Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, January 14, at 8:30pm. According to Kelly Pologe, Administrative Assistant to the Deputy Superintendent and Clerk of the Board: "The meeting is open to the public but the board will immediately adjourn to Executive Session to review the employment history of a particular person. The Executive Session is not open to the public. The Board is not expected to take action after Executive Session. The meeting agenda is posted on Board Docs, which is located under the Board of Education section of the school district website."

UPDATE [1/15/16]: The January 14th Special Board of Education Meeting was held and attended by parents, staff and community members. Most attendees held signs of protest silently in the audience. During a comment session in front of the public before the adjournment, a few board members implied that they did not know that their absence would affect the quorum requirement, because of the amount of others who were also not able to attend. The full audio for this can be heard in a Poughkeepsie Journal article dated January 14th, 2016.


The next regularly scheduled BOE meeting is on Monday, January 25, with "the anticipated return to Public Session at 7:45 P.M. or sooner," as stated on the Beacon City Schools' website.



A BRIEF BACKGROUND: 

Issues have been mounting over the years to bring the district to this point. Here is a brief background to help give recent events some context.

TEACHER TRANSFERS

The Beacon City School District is enduring one of its toughest years as it entered a new era of "Focus Lists," involved parents, modern administration systems and pleas for increased communication. Last year, 27 teachers were "transferred" to other schools within this district. Beacon has six schools - high school, middle school, and four elementary schools. Teachers were informed of the transfers by Dr. Walkley in a group setting, which did not go over well during that meeting, or outside in the community.

When Dr. Walkley was delivering the news to the teaching staff, she could tell it was not going over well. I spoke with Dr. Walkley in August of 2015, and I asked her about the transfers. She reflected: "Here's my learning: There is a paradigm that people get transferred because they are not good at what they do. I didn't know about that paradigm. That some people would think they were being moved out of punishment, or that they weren't good. I was completely surprised about the reaction because that is not my paradigm. I did not anticipate that. Even by saying that the reasons were for a strength, I could tell that the teachers did not understand what I was saying to them. I invited people to come and meet with me one on one. I love the process of working with teachers and students. It was never my intention to hurt people."

That invitation for a personal sit-down with the superintendent was written into contract by the teachers' union during that meeting. As for reasons for a teacher transfer, Dr. Walkley points out that districts can transfer staff for many different reasons, including matters of enrollment. For instance, if one year there are 50 students in a class that had two teachers, and the next year there are 25 students in that class, then only one teacher is needed. That example did happen in this school year, yet no teacher lost their job. Instead, a transfer was possible. "Not one teacher lost a job," Dr. Walkley confirmed. "Sometimes teachers request a transfer within their level of certification, to try a different grade level for instance, or a different building, in order to spark them."

BEACON AND "THE FOCUS LIST"

It is a surprise to many who do not regularly keep up with school district issues, that Beacon is on what is called a "Focus List." A district does not get added to the list for being awesome. Instead, it is added to the list for meeting certain indicators that point to troubling issues, such as a low graduation rate. A tough climb is involved with bringing a school off the list. During our summer interview, Dr. Walkley called being on the Focus List a "slippery slope." More about why she calls it that is in the section below. Beacon's schools are among 496 in New York to be put on this Focus List. The job of the district then becomes to design and present plans to the state to show how they are going to improve, earning their way off the list. Cue the paperwork and Excel spreadsheets

IF YOU WANT TO NERD OUT ABOUT THE FOCUS LIST...

Taking a crash course in the Focus List involves a quiet room with a lot of coffee and several browser windows open on your computer in order to follow acronyms and changing rules at the federal and state levels. Advocates for Beacon Schools have a pretty good breakdown of what it means to be on a Focus List on their website.

As part of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), a Bush administration law that started at the federal level, and trickled down to the state and district levels in unexpected ways, demands were placed on student performance. In 2012, the Obama Administration tried to fix NCLB by making a No Child Left Behind Waiver, which judged districts based on students' progress rather than their performance.

In 2012, the waiver put schools on lists to be identified as Priority, Focus, and Reward schools depending on test results. Schools within the Beacon City School District were put on the Focus List. This designation means that a school meets certain criteria from the State Education Department Memo, which has been republished here on ChalkBeat.org: "Identified as a result of their low performance and lack of progress in ELA (English Language Arts) and math combined[,] or graduation rates for one or more accountability groups (racial/ethnic groups, low-income students, English language learners, and students with disabilities). Districts could also be identified as Focus if one or more Priority Schools were identified within the district."

Beacon's high school and middle school were on the Focus List, and one elementary school, Sargent, is currently on the LAP (Local Assistant Plan) List. The middle school was eligible to come off the Focus List in 2014. Instead of the Focus List, the middle school got moved to the LAP List. According to Dr. Walkley, "If new schools or schools that came off the Focus List fell into the Focus School range based on performance, the school would be identified as a LAP school. This means that instead of state-supported reviews, the school review would be conducted at the local level and assistance would come from the local BOCES." BOCES (Boards of Cooperative Educational Services) were created in 1948 by the New York state legislature to partner with districts to provide a broad range of services that help meet the evolving educational needs of students.

The new advocacy group in Beacon, Advocates for Beacon Schools, has put together a list that describes the scenarios of the different lists.

TESTING, TESTING

To get off of the lists, a school needs to test 95% of its students. Three factors need to be met in order to get off the list:
  • Student Performance
  • 95% of Students Tested
  • Graduation Targets Met at the High School
Last year, there was an uproar for an opt-out movement among parents in Beacon, as well as in the entire country, to opt out of testing that began in 2002 when President Bush signed No Child Left Behind. Testing starts for students in third grade. Because of the high stakes involved, which include teacher evaluations and these Focus List measurements, some say that too much stress is put on the child. Many parents in Beacon wanted their child to opt out. However, Dr. Walkley enforced what she thought was law to have the child opt themselves out, despite having a note from parents. Months later, while speaking to parents during a Forum, which is a session that she initiated in order to have conversations with parents days after a more structured Board Meeting, Dr. Walkley was open to finding better answers to address the next round of testing.

THE SLIPPERY SLOPE

During a summer 2015 Board Meeting, Dr. Walkley alluded to Beacon being on a "slippery slope." Hearing that as a citizen did not sound good, so I followed up with Dr. Walkley by email with that question - "What does it mean to be on a slippery slope?" The response I received was an invitation to have a chat with her in her office, to better understand this big question. Happy to oblige and learn one on one, I left with quite a lot of information.

Rather than put it into my own words, I will let you read how Dr. Walkley described it to me. This portion of our interview has been transcribed:

"We have a lot of targets to juggle. Not only do we have to have certain targets for [each grade level], we have targets by the district, by each school, and then we have targets for subgroups. Subgroups are made up of groups based on ethnicity, poverty, etc. Every district has different subgroups based upon their population.

"If we have a subgroup that [contains] a certain number of students, there are targets set for them as well. They include groups such as students with disabilities, students of poverty, and then certain ethnic groups. So we have to monitor those targets as well. So you’ve got your balls up in the air.

"One year, we may do really well with certain groups, and these other groups we need to work on. The tendency is to say ‘OK, let’s put all of our time over here.’ But guess what? We still need to monitor [another] group because their targets changed! The targets change! They get higher and higher. You can’t really rest on your laurels at all. That is The Slippery Slope, is managing all of the different targets that we have because what we want to do is accelerate This, but we have to do That while also working over Here."

I interjected her description with my own declaration: "You love numbers!" to which she answered, "Not necessarily. But I do have to work with them." Dr. Walkley later added: "The other reason that I talk about things that are boring, is that the state requires me to do so."

Back to the answer of The Slippery Slope:

"It is a slippery slope because it is so hard to manage. It’s hard to keep all of the balls up in the air. What you want to do is put all of your attention over here, but you can’t. Every district has these targets, regardless of presence on a Focus List or not.

"When you get to the point where you get to a target, and your performance is 20 or 30 points ahead of your target, you have a cushion there. When you are only a point or two away, that’s The Slippery Slope because it’s easy to digress and lose those few points. That’s why the state wants you to test 95% of your students. When you have a smaller population, it is statistically harder to maintain that target with a smaller population, than when we had a larger population.

"[Add to this, challenge:] If I miss a target one year by 5 points, they may change the target, and now we are off by even more. It doesn’t even make sense. It is a moving target.

"The gap, if you’re not attentive to every measure that you have, the gap can easily get wider and wider. When it gets so wide…to make up 5 to 10 points is a big challenge. You don’t normally see schools increase by 10 points. Sometimes you do, but it’s usually a smaller increment. If that target gets too far away from you, you’re never catching the train. It’s always ahead of you, and you can’t catch up. And then you don’t test everybody, and it changes your population.

"We have to work together as a community. We have to decide. Right now there are a lot of ethical things that are going on with politics, state funding, schools - to have public schools or charter schools - there are just a lot of agendas out there. As a community, we need to decide where we want to be in this.

"I am not saying that you need to be here or there. But let’s understand the choices that we make. Usually with any choice that we make, there are consequences. Knowing that, let’s make a choice and go forward."


BEACON AND EIGHT SUPERINTENDENTS IN EIGHT YEARS

During the start of the Focus List era, the Beacon City School District was going through a chronic case of superintendent turnover, with what was to be eight different superintendents in eight years, two of whom were paid money upon resignation, to the tune of “$183,000, not counting the cost of benefits, to buy out the contracts of the last two ‘permanent’ superintendents, neither of whom served for more than one school year,” according to documents the Poughkeepsie Journal obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request.

From a logistics standpoint, if you work for a business that has a different CEO every year, or a different manager every year, with changing board members from time to time, you can predict what would happen: a lot of confusion and lack of accountability. Beacon's current superintendent is in her second year, and she had served as interim assistant superintendent in Beacon in years prior.

TEACHERS, COMMUNITY & COMMUNICATION

What has remained consistent in the Beacon City School District are very good teachers who make astounding class projects and achievements using the resources they have, as well as dedicated students. Take a look around you, and many of the business owners you frequent in Beacon, as well as in cities north and south of Beacon, are graduates of the Beacon City Schools and have made great lives.

The City of Beacon has a long history of community involvement - a level of community involvement and volunteerism that builds Visitors Centers, tends gardens around Main Street (Miss Vickie) and develops gardens to be used in public school curriculum (Hudson Valley Seed) in Beacon and Poughkeepsie, fundraises and writes checks for new playground equipment in public parks (Weeplay Project), brings it upon themselves to serve as a fundraising arm (BAEF), acts as the theater program for the Beacon High School (Beacon Players), and builds a private library that eventually became Beacon's public library (The Howland Circulating Library).

The people in this area seem to take it upon themselves to both fix things and create anew. Merging that do-gooder habit with state and federal laws that cause restrictions or make this complicated can be a balancing act. The Beacon City School District is in the thick of it right now. We will all be looking for information as events unfold, but what remains unchanged is the caring nature that our kids receive from teachers, nurses and administrators, as well as the experiences they bring home to us each night from their experiences in Beacon City Schools.

A companion article to this one will be published soon that showcases what it is like as a student of different ages in Beacon City Schools. When reading about the politics of school, it can cloud what it is really like inside of the schools, and the opportunities the students do have.  As a newbie parent in the district, I was hesitant to leave the comfort of our childcare center, which is a private business that has less hoops to jump through. But I have been amazed at the progress of my child in Beacon's schools, and I know I am not the only one who thinks that.

"Can we fix it? Yes we can!"
- Bob the Builder

Christmas Tree Pickup Is Happening! Tips For Dragging Yours Out


Have you seen this guy recently? He's one of several workers from Beacon's Highway Department who is driving around in a red truck for the month of January, scanning the sidewalks for discarded Christmas trees. If you're lucky, he might even hand you a previously undetected ornament from your tree before he hauls it into his truck. Or in my case, my son's "squishy football" that disappeared over the holidays and we were sure it was lost in Ohio somewhere. Who knew it disappeared into the tree?

Where Do Discarded Christmas Trees Go? 

They go to Beacon's Transfer Station, which had been known as The Town Dump until recently. Like the name suggests, the trees are transferred into something else! Wood chips, which Beacon residents can pick up in the spring, to be used in your landscaping. Which is why your tree needs to be free of ornaments and not in a plastic bag when you set it outside. If you're from "The City," you may be used to hauling your tree to the sidewalk still filled with ornaments and maybe even lights. From my days of living down there, I remember walking past plenty of fully decorated trees - ornaments and all. Perhaps there wasn't enough room to store the decorative ornaments that held no meaning, and perhaps the tree owners bought new lights each season. (It worked out for me - I scavenger-hunted for decorations from trees and scored three giant pine cones covered in gold glitter!)

But not here! Once set curbside, trees need to be free and clear of any decor so that they can go to the chopper and get back to nature.


Tips for Hauling Out Your Christmas Tree

Inside: Cover your tree with two sheets.
First, make sure that the water from your tree stand has been emptied. If, like some people we know, you forgot to water your tree all season, then this won't be a problem. Put one sheet on the floor, then lay your Christmas tree on top of it. Put the second sheet on top of the tree to keep flying needles to a minimum. You will still have needles to sweep up after you drag it out, but it will be more manageable. Remove the sheets once you bring the tree to the sidewalk.

Outside: Put your tree on the sidewalk, lying down.
If you prop your tree up against a fence, it will look like a living, rooted tree to a Highway Department employee driving by.

If you see a red truck in your neighborhood, get your tree curbside - quick!
The Highway Department gets assigned to a grid of the city each day. When they are not super busy with other projects, assigned trucks will drive around a grid of town for the day. So if you see a truck in your area, get on it and get that tree outside. If you don't see a truck in your area, get the tree outside anyway, and it will most likely get picked up soon.


Until next year!

Bicycle Menorah Celebrates Beacon, People, and Illumination During Hannukah

The bicycle menorah during its fourth night, before the fourth candle was mounted, which celebrated Planet Protectors.

Every night since Sunday, December 6th, the Beacon Hebrew Alliance has been lighting the menorah at Polhill Park (at the corner of Main Street and South Avenue) one bicycle wheel at a time to celebrate eight types of people in this community:
  • Artists
  • Farmers & Food
  • Teachers
  • Planet Protectors
  • Volunteers
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Clergy
  • Builders, Makers & Fixers
During their project, Illumin8, a joint project with Beacon Arts who also hosts the bicycle tree lighting ceremony happening this Second Saturday, this bicycle menorah is not only one-of-a-kind, but it is dedicated to celebrating all of the types of people who live around us. "The story of Beacon is the story of a town coming through hard times with hope and dedication. In order to celebrate those who light up our community," says Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek. "Hanukkah tells us that we can hope against all reason and sometimes, we will prevail."

Notice the words under the wheel/candles. Each night a light is lit for group of people inscribed on the menorah.

Each spoke and wheel is dedicated to a group of people. Each night, a representative of the group comes to install the illuminated bicycle wheel/candle. They sing some songs, say a few prayers, and go back home for a warm dinner. Tonight, Friday night, the celebration is dedicated to Entrepreneurs, of which this town has several! Saturday night, the celebration illuminates Clergy. You may find yourself in an especially crafty mood on Saturday as you're surrounded by creativity, and lucky for you, the Beacon Craft Workshop will be there in her mobile craft studio! On Sunday night, the final night, a wheel/candle goes up for Builders, Makers and Fixers.

This Saturday when you head out for Second Saturday (get your full Second Saturday Art Gallery Guide with late-night eating options right here!) art gallery showings, shopping events, and/or the lighting of the bicycle tree with waves to Santa as he comes down on pedicab, stay for the wheel/candle lighting ceremony at this bicycle menorah.