When A Stranger Walks Through Your Door - Who Needs Mental Health Help - And The Concert Is Saturday

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Last Friday, while in the midst of our weekly deadline for getting out the Happening This Weekend newsletter, a woman walked into A Little Beacon Blog's office, looking for help. She thought it was the substance abuse center, Lexington Center for Recovery (though she couldn’t remember the name and had contact information for a totally different organization), that had been located down Main Street, that is now becoming an apartment building. She saw the Rock Out 4 Mental Health flyer on our door, and the logos of mental health agencies who are helping make it happen, and thought she was in the right place.

She hadn't slept for days. Her accent was unfamiliar. The urgent problem she was trying to get help for - keeping her husband alive (he was currently in the hospital after almost dying of alcoholism, and she feared him coming home because she didn't know what to do with him to keep him safe) - made it so that she talked very fast, with hopelessness. Her sentences zig-zagged with what she needed, making it hard to find a thread to follow to work on a solution. She'd given up hope of finding help from Beacon and any other resource, and didn't know where to go.

Sometimes a situation happens, and you ask yourself: "Am I to be learning something from this? What is the message?" It became an opportunity for us to navigate the world of mental health resources, with a real person, really suffering. A Little Beacon Blog agreed to help with the Rock Out 4 Mental Health concert because it was an opportunity to meet the players, to talk to the people on the other side of the phone or email or website. To make them more real, and understand what they offer. That concert happens this Saturday (unless it rains, then it’ll be on Sunday) at Pete and Toshi Seeger Riverfront Park from 12 to 4 pm. It's free, and there will be mozzarella sticks (and other food like sausage), live music, and specialists in the areas of mental health.

Meanwhile, back in the office on a Friday afternoon of Memorial Weekend, we called the Dutchess County Help Line. They answered, but our questions quickly multiplied. When you're at the beginning of a research journey navigating hospitals, counseling, rehab centers, it's a lot. We called a personal friend who works deep in the world of mental health, and she quickly referred us to Family Services in Beacon on Henry Street, and to the MHA in the DMV Building on Main Street, and to Grace Smith House if the woman felt too afraid to be home, plus they may be able to give her guidance if she were to go there. Another friend recommended NAMI if she needed an advocate or counselor to help her navigate the medical areas where she was encountering hurdles, while trying to figure out what to do with her addicted husband who had just had a blood transfusion and was a hot potato in the hospital - she didn't want him released, yet they were done with their medical procedures.

In the end - for that hour - we encouraged her to walk to Family Services which is nearby, and see what they tell her next. In-person research is so important. We then highly encouraged her to go home and get some rest, because sleep deprivation causes its own problems. She first headed across the street to the grocery store to get cat food, and then to Family Services. Hopefully she felt a little more hope in her quest.

Come to the concert this weekend. You'll get to hear The Costellos, Noetic, Dilson Hernandez, Tony E., Charge the Mound, Russ St. George, Jerry Kitzrow, DJ Big Will, with sound by Tony ‘Pops’ DeMarco. You never know when you or someone you know or don't know needs these services. It's comforting to put faces to organizations.

"Your Loved Ones Need You, And So Do We" Annual Public Forum on Chemical Dependency Tonight

Photo Credit: The Dutchess County Department of Behavioral and Community Health Event Flyer

Photo Credit: The Dutchess County Department of Behavioral and Community Health Event Flyer

2019 Public Forum
Service Needs For Individuals With Chemical Dependency

When: Thursday, April 11. 2019
Time: 5:30 to 7:30 pm
Where: 230 North Road, Poughkeepsie, NY
DBCH Training Room (Entrance #1)
Host: Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health

From sitcoms and fashion to music and technology, the recent 2000s have not escaped the influence of the late ‘90s. It is hard to believe that the era that produced Joey Tribbiani is the same era that paved the way for today’s opioid crisis. In the late 1990s, giant pharmaceutical companies convinced healthcare providers that prescription opioid pain relievers were not highly addictive. Healthcare providers prescribed opioids at a super fast rate before realizing the intense addictive nature these drugs possess.

As of January 2019, the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates the death of 130 Americans per day from the overdose of opioids.

As of January 2019, the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates the death of 130 Americans per day from the overdose of opioids. People suffering from chemical dependency are not the only ones affected; babies are bearing the burden as well.

Babies Suffering From Opioid Withdrawal

About every 15 minutes, a baby is born undergoing the agony of opioid withdrawal, commonly referred to as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. Aside from the staggering death rates and effects on child mortality, the economy bears a dent from the opioid epidemic. A total of $78.5 billion a year is drained by prescription opioid misuse as estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Estimates include the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.

The 2019 Public Forum On Chemical Dependency

The Dutchess County Department of Behavioral and Community Health is holding a public forum on Thursday, April 11, 2019 for individuals and families dealing with chemical dependency. Discussion chips away at the barriers of stigma, and the more questions people ask, the more answers will be heard. Representatives include Lexington Center for Recovery; Council on Addiction, Prevention, and Education (CAPE); Mid-Hudson Addiction Recovery Centers (MARC); Matt Herring Foundation and others.

Kelly Ramsey, M.D., a renowned expert on substance use disorders and medication-assisted treatment, will be there as a guest speaker. The event will be held on Thursday, April 11, 2019 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the DBCH Training Room (entrance #1) . At 5 pm, a free Narcan training will be held and refreshments will be provided. Narcan (brand name for naloxone) blocks the effects of an opioid overdose, and administering it is a useful skill to learn for those in the public health field or personally affected by chemical dependency. Representatives will inform the public on initiatives in effect and progress achieved in this field. An open discussion followed by an encouraged Q&A will be held in an effort to keep the community informed on this growing crisis.

Lights! Camera! Action! Locations Wanted for Filming in Dutchess County

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This just in from Dutchess Tourism!

Film production has been picking up in the Hudson Valley, with a new film production facility going up in Newburgh (as we discovered through this commercial/retail Real Estate listing, thanks to the tip from Sarah Beckham Hooff). CineHub in Beacon has been a great resource for filmmakers over the years. Residents of Beacon have already experienced film production. Now a wider range of businesses can get in on that call for “Action!” by serving as an amazing backdrop location to films and television shows filming in Dutchess County.

You and your business can get in on the fun and benefit from the filming boom that has hit the area. Dutchess Tourism provides film location assistance to location scouts and producers, and they are working to expand their database so they can respond more quickly to requests. The types of locations they seek span from homes and local businesses, to farms and warehouses.

You can be added to the recommendation list by filling out this film location form. Hosting a film or photo shoot can increase your exposure as well as provide some economic benefit. The Hudson Valley Film Commission has estimated that in 2017, the direct regional film spending was over $30 million.

You can learn more about the benefits of being a part of filming in New York State, such as earning tax credits, by clicking here.

Advice About Being A Location For A Film

Hey - it’s Katie from A Little Beacon Blog here, taking over this part of the article. While the fame and glory of having your home or business be in a film or television may be appealing, there are a few items you’ll want to be aware of as you negotiate your way through an experience. Disclaimer: My husband is a Location Manager, and I have worked as a Production Assistant on jobs, where I carried around a walkie-talkie and basically relayed messages and told people where the bathroom was. (The film production life wasn’t for me… the way-too-long hours were a deal-breaker.)

  • The filmed part that your house or business is in may end up on the cutting room floor. The film production may have spent a ton of money on it, but for whatever reason, it got cut out.

  • A “Union Production” can be a different ballgame than a production who doesn’t need to be union. This means that everyone in the film crew is in a union. It’s a “union job.” Members have to follow certain rules, and had to achieve certain milestones to get into that union. Pay scales may be different, and budgets may be different. To work with a job not in a union is fine, and may help a low-budget film production do some big things. It also helps people who aren’t in a union to get valuable experience.

  • Insurance: The film job should have it! Should something go wrong in your home or business, the production company may pay you directly to have it fixed, or their insurance company may pay. The job should have insurance in case this happens. Wishing for damage? Like, are you hoping for a new wall for your kitchen, and crossing your fingers that some piece of crew equipment would ding it pretty badly? Bad idea. You really don’t want to deal with the back and forth - it’s not worth it!

  • Check in with your neighbors. A film production gathering is a big deal. Sometimes they park on the street, sometimes they close a street. If it’s a night shot, there will be lights at night. You’ll want to talk to your neighbors to let them know if something will be going on.

  • Everything is negotiable. Usually in New York City, if someone’s apartment is getting filmed in, the owners of the apartment get paid, and the building itself gets paid. Not that a Producer or a Location Manager would like to pay everyone, but it’s good to know that for inconvenience, a price could maybe be negotiated for others.

  • Speaking of negotiation, read the contract. Know your contract well, and ask for things to be included in it that are important to you. Did they go past a filming date? Or an hourly end time? That should cost extra (them paying you). So, think of scenarios that might call for additional compensation, and ask questions.

  • You’ll be tight with Locations and the Art Departments. The Art Department will be the ones messing up your place, and cleaning it up again. They should return it to the state they found it in. Again, this should not be viewed as a free way to get a new paint job. The Locations Department will be with you from the beginning, and possibly after the Art Department has left. The Locations Department will be the ones giving you the check, delivering the contract, and working with the Art Department to make sure things are done right - as you want them.

Application Opportunity: Home Repair and Renovation Programs from Rebuilding Together Dutchess County

Photo Credit:  Rebuilding Together's  website.

Photo Credit: Rebuilding Together's website.

Homeowners who live in their homes (aka owner-occupied homes) in Dutchess County and who meet certain income requirements have the opportunity to apply for home repair and renovation projects from Rebuilding Together Dutchess County (RTDC). The deadline is Sunday, September 30, 2018 to be considered for 2019 Rebuilding Day Programs, so act fast! After applications are evaluated, decisions will be made after February 2019.

Making homes "warm, safe, dry and independent" are the main goals of the program. If you meet certain requirements and are considered for participation in the program, a staff member or volunteer from RTDC will come to your home to discuss the program with you and evaluate the repairs needed. That's just one step of the qualification process, however, and doesn't mean that you've been awarded the repairs.

You can find the application online here. We've screenshotted the income limits from the application to make those easy to see as well, as you consider the program. Good luck!

Photo Credit: Screenshot taken from the RTDC online application

Photo Credit: Screenshot taken from the RTDC online application

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.

Airbnb Paid Over $220K in Taxes to Dutchess County in 2017

Photo Credit: Screenshot from Airbnb listings, A Little Beacon Blog.

Photo Credit: Screenshot from Airbnb listings, A Little Beacon Blog.

As the City of Beacon considers legislation for short-term rentals in residential houses, everyone involved is looking at their finances. During a public hearing for the legislation, homeowners who rent their homes out on a per-night, short-term basis, came out to speak in favor of continuing to allow short-term rentals in their homes. Many of the homeowners discussed financial implications they would face if Beacon legislated against short-term rentals or limited the amount of nightly rentals to 100 per year per house (the City Council has since scratched out that maximum from the draft legislation currently being discussed at City Council's Workshop meeting on 4/30/18), or imposing a New York State fire code law for Bed and Breakfasts that requires a sprinkler system or special windows installed in the home.

Other Areas of Economy Impacted by Airbnb

A Beacon resident and Airbnb user, Eileen O'Hare, shed light on another economic area that is impacted by Airbnb rentals, and that is the service industry. According to Eileen's presentation at the public hearing, Airbnb recommends for homeowners to pay for house cleaning and lawn care in order to attract good and consistent bookings. She then posed this question to the City Council at that meeting: "I pay my cleaning lady $25 per hour. What do you pay yours?"

Tax Revenue Going to Dutchess County Generated by Airbnb Bookings

People who make money from Airbnb bookings, like house cleaners, also attended the meeting to request that the short-term rentals be allowed to continue. This got us to thinking about the wider economic impact of short-term rentals on the area, and so we reached out to Dutchess County Legislator Nick Page to get some answers about any revenue generated by the Bed Tax. That tax, as well as sales tax, goes straight to Dutchess County and does not directly get paid to the City of Beacon. Here are some economic statistics derived from tax revenue raised for Dutchess County through Airbnb short-term bookings, according to Nick's understanding, from conversations with the Dutchess County Department of Finance:

  • Airbnb paid a total of $221,918 of the 4% Bed Tax to Dutchess County for 2017. 
  • Dutchess County began collecting the 4% Bed Tax from hosts using the Airbnb platform on March 1, 2017. 
  • The payments to the county are not broken down by municipality (i.e. city, town, or village) and the county does not have access to the host addresses from Airbnb.
  • Airbnb remits one payment to the county by the 20th of each month for the preceding month's activity.
  • Dutchess County is about to begin tracking other short-term rental sites as well. Currently, Dutchess County only collects from Airbnb.

The discussion continues, as the City Council meets tonight to go over the latest changes to the draft legislation based on feedback from the community. On the public agenda for tonight, this topic is filed under "Short-Term Rentals" and is currently #4 out of 12 topics to discuss. Bring your coffee.

RELATED ARTICLES

New City Council Ward Members and Dutchess County Legislators Sworn In for 2018

Photo Credit: Screenshot of swearing-in ceremony from video produced by Peter Skorewicz. Graphic Art Credit: A Little Beacon Blog

Photo Credit: Screenshot of swearing-in ceremony from video produced by Peter Skorewicz.
Graphic Art Credit: A Little Beacon Blog

On the first day of the new year of 2018, Beacon held a swearing-in ceremony for the brand new City Council ward members and two Dutchess County Legislators - all Democrats - who swept local elections after a tumultuous year in politics nationally. As reported by Jeff Simms for the Highlands Current, all citizens running were "first-time candidates, each [winning] by wide margins." The two at-large council members were old hands at this: Lee Kyriacou has served nine terms, and George Mansfield has served five terms so far.

Former City Council member Pam Wetherbee presided over the ceremony. Several notable people attended, including Kenya Gadsden, board member for the Beacon City School District Board of Education, and former Beacon Mayor Steve Gold, who is currently the Chief of Staff for New York State Assemblyman Frank Skartados.

Kicking off the ceremony were Cub Scout Pack 1, Boy Scout Troop 1, and Boy Scout Troop 141 of Beacon. Next, the Beacon High School Chorus, led by teacher Susan Wright, sang "This Land Is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie, which was a "song special to Pete Seeger, who was someone important to Beacon," Susan stated. (See this stellar New Yorker profile on Pete Seeger by Beacon local David Rees).

The Swearing In

Terry Nelson, representing Ward 1, was sworn in by his daughter and wife, promising: "I will do the best job I possibly can to represent everyone in the City of Beacon." Terry is also a founder of the Beacon Independent Film Festival, and a board member for BeaconArts.

John Rembert, representing Ward 2, was sworn in by his wife, showing gratitude: "I thank the citizens of Ward 2 and the citizens of Beacon, NY, and I will do my best for the citizens of Beacon, NY."

Jodi McCredo, representing Ward 3, was sworn in by her children. Jodi was also one of the founders of the Advocates for Beacon Schools, a group of parents and community members who pushed for change and awareness of the politics and policies in public schools. They were active during the time of a resignation of a Beacon superintendent in 2016 and in the election of three new board members to the Board of Education. That group built a website for publishing information, advocates12508.com, and a similar website has been created for disseminating information about building development projects in Beacon, development12508.com. Said Jodi: "I'm looking forward to what we can do together for Beacon and for Dutchess County."

Photo Credit: Screenshot of Swearing In Ceremony from video produced by Peter Skorewicz.

Photo Credit: Screenshot of Swearing In Ceremony from video produced by Peter Skorewicz.

For her swearing-in, Amber Grant, representing Ward 4, placed the Constitution on her small niece, who was held by Amber's sister. Amber said: "I look forward to getting to work. Hopefully I'll see a lot of you here tomorrow as well (for the next City Council meeting)."

After George Mansfield was sworn in for his at-large position, he reflected: "I was first here eight years ago, when I first ran for office, and it never gets any less exciting. The burden of responsibility is great."

Lee Kyriacou, the City Council's other at-large member, selected The Constitution as his object to be sworn in on. He thanked his family, "my spouse, my two lovely daughters who indulge my passion to indulge in community service., and to the voters who turned out in amazing numbers. Please keep doing that." Lee continued, reflecting on what he called Beacon's journey of renewal. "Beacon has probably done the biggest turnaround of the Hudson Valley, if not, almost anywhere. It's been a pretty important set of roles for us to undertake. I've said from Day 1 - my first Day 1 was 1994 - that Zoning and Enforcement are the most important things that we do." He added, "We aren't going downhill - which is where we were heading in those days. We are headed uphill, but we have to chart a journey that works for our entire community. I look forward to my colleagues on the Council and the County Legislature in charting that journey together."

Frits Zernike for Dutchess County Legislator, District 16. Frits stated: "District 16 extends into Fishkill. It was Beacon's energy that won us this election. I hope to take the energy we have in southern Dutchess County and infuse the entire county legislature with it... Democracy is not a spectator sport. It's nice to be participating this way. I hope and I trust that you all will continue to participate, show up, pester us, and get done what we need done."

Nick Page for Dutchess County Legislator, District 18, was eager to get started, stating: "The election effort in Beacon was truly astonishing."

The event concluded with a benediction by Reverend Perry from the Springfield Baptist Church.

The local paparazzi (aka friends and families showing support).  Photo Credit: Screenshot of Swearing In Ceremony from video produced by Peter Skorewicz.

The local paparazzi (aka friends and families showing support).
Photo Credit: Screenshot of Swearing In Ceremony from video produced by Peter Skorewicz.