The Crafty Hammer Signs On To Sponsor A Little Beacon Blog's Event Guide

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Thank to our newest sponsor and one of the newest businesses in town, The Crafty 🔨Hammer! They are under construction over there in the Ritter Building, across from Rite Aid, in what is now purple and a former yoga studio space (a moment of reflection for the yoga studios!). Keep up with The Crafty Hammer each week in our Friday newsletter, and do peek in through the window while they are building! They already shared a power drill with us!

With support from local businesses like this, we can continue updating A Little Beacon Blog with upcoming events! There is a Submission Page that gets info to us for consideration. The Crafty Hammer is also a sponsor in the Adult Classes Guide, because they have so many DIY workshops you want to be a part of! Make your own stuff on their big workshop tables!

If you want to start sponsoring A Little Beacon Blog in some way, please see our Media Kit for ideas, and then contact us!

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

Photo Credit: Zero To Go

Photo Credit: Zero To Go

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Does Methane Gas From Food Matter?

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

The History Of Zero To Go

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

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

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

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

Plastic Bags Out Of Food Compositing

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

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

SIDE NOTE: Food Rot Container Tip

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

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

The Valley Table Acquired by Hudson Valley Magazine’s Today Media

Photo Credit: Magazine Cover of The Valley Table

Photo Credit: Magazine Cover of The Valley Table

Food and drink are serious matters in the Hudson Valley, and their excellence is part of what makes living in this region so rich. The founders and publishers of The Valley Table recognized this in 1998, when husband-and-wife team Jerry Novesky and Janet Crawshaw started The Valley Table magazine, “to give a voice to local chefs, farmers, and makers.” As a result, the magazine, which is based out of 380 Main Street, Beacon, above The Beacon Pantry, consistently covers anticipated restaurant openings, interviews chefs, provides recipes, and spotlights ingredients - and the farmers who grow them - to which you may never have given a second thought.

Hot off the digital press on Monday, June 3, The Valley Table announced that they have been acquired by Today Media, which is the publisher of several regional magazines including Hudson Valley Magazine, Westchester Magazine, Delaware Today, and Main Line Today.

Events Produced By Magazines

Events are big for publications, and eight years after launching the print magazine, The Valley Table created one of the biggest dining draws in the region: Hudson Valley Restaurant Week. This property is also included in the merger, to join the strong event lineup from Today Media, which includes:

June 4-9: Wine & Food Festival
July 24: Best of Westchester Party
August 15: Hudson Valley Magazine’s Burger & Beer Bash
September 26: Westchester Magazine’s Wingfest
October 10: Best of Hudson Valley Party
November 4-17: Hudson Valley Fall Restaurant Week (usually also held in the spring)

Says Today Media’s Hudson Valley Group Publisher, Michael Martinelli, of the deal in the press release: “This acquisition enables Today Media to expand its audience and build on The Valley Table’s success while honoring the mission and values that have made Valley Table an authority in its specialty. It will also bring together two of the largest, most iconic food events in the region, as many of the restaurants that participate in Hudson Valley Restaurant Week will also be featured at Westchester Magazine’s Wine & Food Festival, June 4-9.”

Print Publication Of The Valley Table Will Continue

The Valley Table will continue publishing, according to a statement released by The Valley Table’s co-publisher, Janet Crawshaw: “Today Media’s deep roots in the Hudson Valley and its expertise in publishing make it the perfect fit for carrying on and growing The Valley Table magazine, its digital platforms, and Restaurant Week event.”

Read more about this at Westchester Magazine and at LoHud.

Beacon Career Fair A Success With Teens, Businesses and Organizations

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There was great turnout at Beacon High School’s Career Fair today! Plenty of interested students asked questions... and foraged for free cookies. A Little Beacon Blog bribed passers-by with stickers, and for the writers and bloggers in the house (they are usually very shy and quiet when approaching the table), we gave writers our tote bag.

Each year we are happy to engage with teens to show them the resources they didn’t know about yet, like our recent article about the (free) Dia Teens Art Program, and the Open Sketch session at the Beacon Library. One student who visited the table is about to be published in the Poughkeepsie Journal for an article she wrote!

Salon Dae (the salon near Dutchess Airport) was in attendance with opportunities for hair stylists, and did braiding on the spot. Next to Salon Dae was Twins Barber Shop from Beacon’s Main Street, clipping away. The Twins always draw the largest crowd!

Across the way were the fire 🔥 fighters, who were giving demonstrations using a smoke machine. Antalek & Moore Insurance brought their corn hole game and had quite the competitions going on. For the rest of us, it was hard to compete with all that action!

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The EMS Education table was in a good spot to reach interested prospective first responders, who need the education first to even get into the field. Other first responders included the Beacon Volunteer Ambulance Corps and the Beacon Police.

A Little Beacon Blog’s table was in between Wingate’s caregivers table, answering questions for men and women who might want to go into nursing and caregiving, which we learned provides job security as there has been a shortage of nurses, we were told. Dutchess County Tourism was on our other side - where we learned all sorts of things like how they are organizing workshops for businesses to help educate about best practices, like ADA compliance for websites. Good stuff, those busy bees are doing over there!

If you’re a business who wants to represent at the Beacon Career Fair next year and reach the students, email the organizer, school counselor Michele Polhamus at polhamus.m@beaconk12.org. The notification about the Career Fair usually goes out in March-ish for this annual May event.

Take Part in BeaconArts' Upcoming Member Show! Submissions Now Open!

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All BeaconArts members are invited to submit artwork for our first annual Member Show at Hudson Beach Gallery (above Hudson Beach Glass) at 162 Main St., Beacon, NY. The exhibition runs Saturday, July 13 to Sunday, August 4, and is curated by Theresa Gooby and Karlyn Benson.

Space is limited, so send your submissions to membershow@beaconarts.org before Friday, May 24 to guarantee your spot. All mediums are welcome. For complete details and submission guidelines please visit the event’s website.

If you would like to participate, but are not a BeaconArts member or need to renew, please click here to join today.


BeaconArts is a Community Partner of A Little Beacon Blog and is part of our Sponsor Spotlight program. This article was part of their monthly messaging partnership. Thank you for supporting organizations who support us!

Dutchess County Legislature Votes 19-5 to Override Molinaro's Veto of Open Hours Extension for Wine and Liquor Stores

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A challenge to a law mandating that wine and liquor stores in Dutchess County must close by 7 pm on weekdays - with more limitations on select major holidays - has advanced twice through the Dutchess County Legislature by a wide majority. The proposed law would allow businesses to extend their hours to 9 pm on weekdays and on select major holidays. The first vote of approval of extending open hours occurred on April 8, 2019, and was 18-6. That vote was vetoed by County Executive Marcus Molinaro. Tonight, on Monday, May 13, 2019, the Dutchess County Legislators met again to vote to override Molinaro’s veto, and did so with a vote of 19-5.

This vote allows the proposed open hours extension to go before the State Liquor Authority, who will hold a Public Comment period, and then make a final decision.

This law has been challenged before but never passed. Here’s a look at the twists and turns this particular issue has taken so far over the years:

What Is The Backstory?

Current Allowed Open Hours For Wine and Liquor Stores

9 am to 7 pm
Weekdays

9 am to 10 am
New Year's, Memorial, Independence, Labor, and Thanksgiving Day (set your alarm!)

9 am to 10 pm
The Day Before Thanksgiving, December 18th – 24th, and New Year's Eve

Proposed Extended Open Hours

9 am to 9 pm
Weekdays

9 am to 9 pm
New Year's, Memorial, Independence, Labor, and Thanksgiving days, and on the day before Thanksgiving, December 18th - 24th and New Year's Eve

Wine and liquor stores in Dutchess County have had to operate within shorter open hours than equivalent shops in surrounding counties for years. The closing time is 7 pm, and on some holidays such as New Year's, Memorial, Independence, Labor, and Thanksgiving Day, they are allowed to be open for one hour, from 9 am to 10 am (set your alarm!).

Did Beacon Wine and Liquor Stores Ever Challenge The 7 pm Close Time, That They Now Call “Restrictive“?

The law was challenged by county legislators. In 2016, then-Dutchess County Legislator Jerry Landisi tried to get the open hours extended. The City of Beacon signed a Resolution (aka a law that says that they support something, so that it’s super official and has votes of council people). Mayor Casale backed it then, and continues to back it today.

During The 2016 Challenge, No Vote Happened. Some Stores Opposed The Extension.

“[The resolution proposing the extended hours] never made it out of committee,” says current Dutchess County Legislator Frits Zernike, the author of the latest attempt to extend the open hours to 9 pm. “That seems to be because liquor store owners up-county, in Poughkeepsie and beyond, are fearful of what expanded hours would mean. As they see it, they'd have to stay open later, never seeing their families, and face the certain prospect of being robbed after dark.“

In an email interview with A Little Beacon Blog, Mei Ying So, of Artisan Wine Shop in Beacon, recalled the last time the law was challenged: “We have never been contacted when legislation regarding extending operating hours was coming up before the committee in years past. The last time this came before the committee, it was defeated in committee and it was only through local media that we found out after the fact that it had even happened.”

Why Would A Store Oppose The Open Hours Extension?

Business owners in opposition feared that if the open hours were extended, that the shop would be required to stay open longer. However, this rule change would simply allow businesses to stay open later; it is not a mandate that the business must stay open until the latest permitted closing time. Some shop owners have voiced concerns that if a neighboring business is open, then they will lose business. Such is another example of fears of business competition potentially being written into law, which we are seeing possibly happen between the City of Beacon and prepared food vendors during the Beacon Farmers Market yearly lease negotiation.

In their own words, here are excerpts of some letters of opposition submitted during the course of 2014-2016:

Poughkeepsie Wine & Liquor Inc. wrote in, stating: “I want it to be known that I am against the extension of hours that we can be open in Dutchess County. We are a small business with a limited number of employees who work long hours already and who need some time with their families, especially on holidays and after work. Staying open later in the evening could also be a danger to our safety since we are small independent stores.”

Cotter’s Wine and Liquor Store, in Pleasant Valley, wrote in: “I am opposed to opening on New Year’s, Memorial, Independence, Labor and Thanksgiving days. People plan for holiday parties. Those days are our holidays too and we want to spend them with our families. I am also opposed to extended hours year-round. They do not equate to increased income, but rather to increased expenses. Before proposing any such legislation, a poll of all liquor stores should have been taken.”

Said Charel’s Liquors in Lagrangeville, N.Y. “I need the members to understand that we know this is a choice to open on holidays and extend hours, but you are forcing our hand. You will be taking business away from us that would just come back to us the next day. The law to allow stores to open on Sundays has done nothing but take away from family time for our business. It has simply spread our sales out that we would have made on Saturday and Monday.”

Family time was the theme of other letters.

This Time Around, Petitions Were Put Forth By Store Owners In Favor Of Hours Extension, In Addition To Opposition

In March of 2019, stores in the Beacon area put out petitions for signatures. Says Mei of Artisan Wine: “We (four stores in all - Artisan Wine Shop, Pioneer Wine & Liquor, Beacon Wine Shoppe, and Boutique Wines, Spirits and Ciders in Fishkill) collected over 1,000 signatures from consumers, all taxpayers, most are residents. Hundreds of emails and Facebook messages in support were sent to the Legislature. And the legislators themselves talked to many of the stores in their districts. Legislator Frits Zernike did a lot of leg work to inform stores as well, months ago.”

Supporters showed up at the Dutchess County Legislature meeting about it on Thursday, April 4 (watch it here), which would be a time to officially ask for the vote on Monday, April 8, to ask the State Liquor Authority to extend the hours.

Who spoke in support?

According to Mei, who attended that meeting: “There were nine people speaking in support of the legislation: from Artisan Wine Shop, Mei Ying So, Tim Buzinski and Sam Lozoff; Kitty Sherpa, co-owner of Beacon Natural Market (she also read a letter in support from Wineology in Pawling); Jessica Gonzalez, Beacon resident and well-known, award-winning bartender; Hal Newell, owner of Harker House Wine & Spirits in Clinton Corners; Paige Fiori, co-owner of Boutique Wines, Spirits and Ciders in Fishkill, and her husband; and one of Paige's customers.”

Beacon’s Mayor Casale attended to voice his support for the hours extension as well.

Who spoke against?

Stores speaking against included Arlington Wine in Poughkeepsie, Southside in Poughkeepsie, some stores in Hyde Park, and a customer of one of the Hyde Park store owners. You can watch the whole April 8 session here, where the public comments start at minute 35.

Legislator Zernike wrote into the 2019 resolution a recommendation about how competition should be handled: “Concerns about crime, lost or increased business and revenue, as well as quality-of-life issues arising from decisions regarding hours of operation are best resolved by individual business owners, rather than subject to legislative regulation or edict.”

Voting Round 1 Results: 18-6; Which Is Vetoed By County Executive Marcus Molinaro

After hearing from the public, who traveled from around Dutchess County to attend, the Dutchess County Legislature voted 18-6 in favor of hours extension, which would move along the law change to the State Liquor Authority for a final vote.

The Legislature’s vote must go before the County Executive Marcus Molinaro to approve or veto. In a letter of support for the hours extension, the County Executive stated that “Restrictive State policies and outdated laws governing this industry have created an uneven playing field that should be addressed. Further, in may ways, the State Liquor Authority remains an institution rooted in the past, unable to keep up with the rapidly changing market, local needs, and the concerns of the State’s and Dutchess County’s residents. A better system would devolve authority and allow local municipalities with their zoning regulations to regulate the retail sale of wine and liquor for off-premises consumption. It is befuddling, at best, as to why New York has maintained this Prohibition-era regime, and I do not know how this County became the last in the state to enable extended hours of operation.”

With that letter of support, Molinaro vetoed the resolution, stating that it needed more time for public comment and awareness to mayors and supervisors.

Dutchess County Legislature Overrides Molinaro’s Veto 19-5

Back to this past Monday, May 13, 2019, weeks after that veto. The Dutchess County Legislature met again to acquire enough votes to override the veto, which they did. The resolution will now proceed to the State Liquor Authority, to open up for Public Comment once again, and then the final decision will be made.

Stay tuned…

Farmers Market Hears A Loud Towne Crier - Market Almost Pushed Over - Public Cries To Keep As Is

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Drama just happened with the Beacon Farmers Market prior to its opening outside this May. The market is indoors all winter, then moves outside in the spring. This year, before signing a one-year lease renewal with the City of Beacon, the market was told by the City Council that it would need to move from its spot on Veterans Place, and set up instead down the street (several blocks west) at the county-owned DMV parking lot, which is a free municipal lot on weekends (and weekday evenings). The issues that emerged are a bit more involved than a simple move, and they warrant a discussion about how the vibe of living in Beacon is impacted by the Farmers Market. So, we’ll try to unpack it here.

PS: We can skip to the end to say that the Farmers Market IS open outdoors on Sundays right now at their same location on Veterans Place. But DO read through this article to learn more!

Brief Backstory

The Beacon Farmers Market operated down at the waterfront for many years. [Edit: 5/12/19] Prior to that, it operated on Veterans Place. Says a consumer, Erin Ann in social media: “I lived on Henry Street in the brick house across from [when the location was at Veterans Place]. I remember because [the location] was so convenient for me, and then I was sad when it moved to the waterfront.”

The waterfront location was a happy place to trek down to, but it was a trek. It was far, involved a steep hill, and limited parking in my experience - but people found their way down regardless. Some people, like Kelli Cavatelli, felt that parking worked there, as she stated in social media: “There was the entire train station parking lot. There was tons of parking. I never once had an issue parking at the waterfront. I do however find it difficult to park at the Veterans Place location. It is an awful location!!” Sales at the market have increased by 35 percent since the market moved from the waterfront back up to Veterans Place, despite the parking issue.

Parking on Main Street in Beacon on the weekend is virtually nonexistent, no matter how you slice it or where you are trying to go. The DMV parking lot is one of the only options for weekend parking on Main Street when the on-street parking spots are taken.

Three years ago, the Beacon Farmers Market proposed a move from the waterfront to Beacon’s Main Street. The best fit was found to be at Veterans Place, in-between the Post Office and the Towne Crier Cafe, and across from Beacon Natural Market. The goal was to give people easier access to the produce, food, gifts, music, and enjoyable atmosphere it created. It would return to the place where it was even before its waterfront location.

The market also began offering SNAP benefits, so that people with lower incomes could have access to fresh food. According to this article in the Highlands Current by Jeff Simms, “That allowed more people access, organizers said, and vendor sales increased 35 percent, with almost three times the number of low-income residents receiving discounted produce.” The move was a success, and more people accessed the market than ever before.

Originally, when the move was approved, both the Towne Crier and surrounding businesses including Beacon Natural Market (a direct competitor with produce sales) and More Good supported the decision. More Good even set up a vendor table there.

Customers supported the move: Beacon citizens, as well as people driving through Beacon or day tripping, backed up the decision with their spending habits. At the March 25, 2019 Workshop meeting in which the annual renewal of the market’s lease agreement with the City was discussed, as well as a possible move from Veterans Place to the DMV parking lot, Council Member Amber Grant pointed out: “When the Farmers Market moved to Main Street, there was more use of SNAP. It is a really important consideration, and one we should consider while keeping the Farmers Market accessible.”

For this renewal meeting, two letters of complaint were submitted as supporting documentation. However, when the Farmers Market manager, Paloma Wake, inquired as to who the complaints were from during the Workshop meeting, she was told to go to the City website to find out, where the letters were posted as supporting document PDFs.

Not having a laptop in front of her at the meeting, she couldn’t readily go find out who the letters were from or what they said. At some other meetings, the supporting letters are read aloud to help debate both sides. But they were not read this night. The letters referenced can be read and downloaded here. The letters were from Phil Ciganer, owner of Towne Crier, and Mai Jacobs, a Beacon resident, written to specifically support the Towne Crier’s position. Excerpts from Phil’s letter are below:

 

First, let me say again that I support local farms and farmers, and we purchase much of produce from them, so the concept of a "farmers market," with local producers and purveyors, was attractive to me when I was approached by Sara a couple of years ago, when she was soliciting support to relocate the market from the waterfront. I extended my support at that time; however, I also expressed my concern to her that, as my venue serves Sunday brunch and offers live music during the same time period as the farmers market, that there may be a conflict that would impact my business…

There were food vendors (from out of area and from out of state) as well as live music. And to add insult to injury, some people who buy food from the vendors end up sitting at our outdoor tables -- which are set up for OUR customers -- and many come inside to use our restroom facilities. Farmers market vendors with trucks/vans and patrons also fill the parking lot. For all these reasons, the farmers market has been hurting our business when it is in operation on Sundays. We rely on a large portion of our food sales and revenue on Saturday and Sunday…

For the reasons outlined above, I would ask the Council and the City of Beacon to reconsider renewing the permit on Veterans Place and consider an alternative location. Thank you.
(click here to read the full letter)

 

After the idea of moving the market from Veterans Place to the DMV parking lot was discussed at a City Council Workshop on March 25, 2019, at least 156 people as well as several surrounding businesses signed a petition in support of the farmers market staying put at Veterans Place.

Said Stacey Penlon, owner of Beacon Pantry, located nearly across the street from the market: “As a Main Street business owner and direct neighbor of the Market, I have seen that a thriving farmers market in the center of Beacon has been a great asset to the city and its businesses. Its proximity to the Farmers Market as well as my own business has served as a great hub of activity for the middle of Main Street, which has struggled to keep pace with our east and west ends. The farmers market and Beacon Pantry form a reciprocal relationship promoting great food and local commerce.”

Nearby Businesses In Support of Veterans Place Location

Pictured below are businesses who wrote in support of the Beacon Farmers Market staying put, citing that the market has helped their area of town have more activity. It should be noted that each business serves food. From left: Beacon Pantry (serves meals and sells pantry items), More Good (sells syrups, teas, and sometimes has a vendor table at the market in addition to their storefront), and Beacon Natural Market (sells produce, some prepared food, groceries).

Brainstorming The Move Of The Market - Take It To Workshop!

On March 25, 2019, the City Council held a Workshop meeting about what to do with the farmers market, based on Phil’s concerns, which you can listen to during his presentation during a Workshop on April 29, 2019. Ideas were debated by the City Council on what to do with the farmers market, with the one-sided consensus being that the farmers market would move to the DMV parking lot in one month. Representatives from the Beacon Farmers Market did not agree.

The funny thing about Workshop meetings is, plans that are discussed aren’t binding. The workshops are brainstorming sessions to discuss items officially put on their Agenda, to be discussed further. The next step after a Workshop is to have a “Resolution” about what was just discussed, which is when the members of the City Council and the Mayor vote Yay or Nay on that Resolution (aka, the decision they marched toward during the Workshop).

After the Workshop is held, the Resolution is put onto an Agenda for the next City Council meeting, where it is usually read out loud by the City Attorney. The council members might bite through a couple points, but if nothing changes, they vote how they are going to vote.

However, these votes can sometimes swing in an unexpected direction, like we saw with the Airbnb vote, where the council members were marching toward legalizing Airbnb-type short-term rentals after having gone through many drafts of writing the law. During the vote, they split, and did not all vote in favor of the law they had been writing, essentially tabling regulation of Airbnb-type short-term rentals.

Proposal And A Possible Vote

This part is key, because at the next non-binding Workshop on April 29, 2019, just days away from the May 5 opening of the 2019 season of the farmers market, no lease agreement had been signed between the Beacon Farmers Market at the City of Beacon. The City Council seemed confident that the farmers market would be moving to the DMV, yet had asked the farmers market for a proposal on March 25, 2019, to be presented before a vote.

The farmers market team thought that this idea of the move had been floated, but not inked. Pressure was put on the farmers market by Councilperson Lee Kyriacou for not knowing that they were moving to the DMV: “I'm sorry, what have you been doing to prepare since you last came?” said Lee. “It seems like you didn't like the message.”

However, all was spelled out by the City Attorney on March 25, after Paloma Wake, manager of the Beacon Farmers Market, asked the Council several clarification questions about the agreement. “Is the proposal synonymous with the agreement?” asked Paloma. The City Attorney answered: “Your proposal leads to the Council then adopting an agreement. The Council needs to get a proposal, then the Council adopts a Resolution for a one-year agreement.”

According to Paloma in a supporting letter submitted after that meeting: “Neither myself nor the Committee understood until Tuesday, April 9, that the City Council and Staff were awaiting a proposal from the Market for our License Agreement or that a vote on April 15 would not be possible. We were evaluating the proposed move and awaiting answers to our questions posed on March 25. Given the short timeline, I hope that you will give this matter your immediate attention and that we will be able to come to a consensus at the next Workshop Meeting on April 29.”

So What Happened At The Second Workshop?

The second Workshop was held on April 29, and more points were discussed about why a move to the DMV in one week would be difficult. Mayor Randy Casale saw no problem in flipping locations. “If we were moving you back to the riverfront, that would be a substantial change. The question is, are we going to have a market, and if so, where it’s going to be… You're running a Farmers Market. You can either open at one location or the other.”

Paloma responded: “Our committee and myself feel that our vendors need more time to adjust to that. And to allow the customers time to adjust to the new location. We found that when we moved [from the waterfront] the last time [three years ago], we are still getting customers looking for us at the waterfront. Regardless of how much marketing we do, it still takes time for folks to realize a change has been made. This would be a third year on Veterans Place. ... We are starting to build a real audience in that location.”

Council Member Lee Kyriacou wouldn’t entertain a second discovery session, having thought the first non-binding Workshop had solved it: “We already had this conversation. I haven't heard anything differently. I don't know why we are litigating it. There is $1 million of revenue on Main Street. We have to accommodate them.”

Editor’s Note: We tried fact-checking this revenue number. We cannot find a sales tax number for Beacon yet, and are pursuing different offices for an answer. Under an agreement with Dutchess County, which began in 1989 and has been renewed multiple times, the Cities of Beacon and Poughkeepsie “surrendered their rights of preemption to the Sales Tax,” whereby Beacon’s sales tax is sent to Dutchess County, and a fixed amount is paid to Beacon. Under the latest agreement from 2013-2023, Beacon is paid a fixed rate out of a grand total of $25 million that gets paid to Poughkeepsie, Beacon, and other towns and villages outside of Beacon and Poughkeepsie. In the latest renewal of this agreement, Beacon’s portion is $4,158,686 in total over those years. If “Growth” occurs, then an additional amount is paid to Beacon and Poughkeepsie. The amount is calculated based on the net collections of Sales and Use Tax. After their calculations are done to the formula in that agreement with Dutchess County, “if the difference between the two amounts is positive, then the County shall allocate 18.453% of that difference to the Cities of Poughkeepsie and Beacon and to the area outside the cities on the basis of population set forth in 1262(c) of the Tax Law.” This agreement, signed June 14, 2013, is up for renewal in 2023, and is identified as 13-0193-3/23-F1.

Council Member George Mansfield pointed out in the first Workshop meeting that several of the surrounding businesses did support the farmers market in the Veterans Place location: “For the record, there are a lot of letters of support from brick and mortars, including Beacon Natural, who you could argue is a direct competitor, and is in support [of this location].”

The former manager of the Beacon Farmers Market, Sarah Simon, then approached the podium to express her take on the move: “At this point, we have 30 vendors and customers who want us to open. Paloma works very hard to make this happen. The fact that there are two buildings [near the DMV] that are actively under construction is a very big deal. I think this move is unfair. As a resident of Beacon, I don't think this is happening in the right way. Five businesses right across the street have written letters of support and that have helped their business. We are being made to move based on one business. I'm not convinced we will resolve other issues.”

Regardless, the council people started proceeding with the move to the DMV by suggesting deadlines. They began negotiating with the farmers market about how much time the market had to move. One week? Two weeks, they asked? One month was decided upon, and the meeting began to wrap up. Phil rose from the audience and voiced his objection. As Council Member Terry Nelson packed his bags, he replied: “Phil. You won.”

The final vote was set for May 6, 2019.

At The Final Vote - Does The Farmers Market Stay Or Move?

In between the time of the second Workshop and the final vote at the May 6, 2019, City Council meeting, many Beaconites wrote into their council representatives. Each council person ended up wanting to keep the farmers market at Veterans Place, after hearing feedback from their constituents.

Amber Grant: “After hearing from people ... I think we keep them at Veterans Place.”

John Rembert: “At least for this year, until we re-evaluate it.”

George Mansfield: “I’m leaning in that direction. I'm not confident that the problems we are trying to solve won't repeat themselves in another location. In addition to involving the County. And I think the timing is a little bit off. This should have been started early in the winter, long before it got to this point. I think the DMV lot has potential. I'd like to see it after the other buildings are built, to see what kind of congestion we will see.”

Terry Nelson: “I received a lot of feedback too. I agree with George to revisit it earlier. … I’m inclined to stay at Veterans Place.”

Jodi McCredo: “I feel like we needed more time to have this conversation. … I feel like now we’re being pressured to make this decision and there are just so many variables and so many things up in the air. I don’t feel comfortable with this. It would make sense to keep them at Veterans Place and have a date to know when we are going to discuss this for next year.”

Lee Kyriacou, who is running for mayor against current Mayor Randy Casale, was absent for this vote. Council members who were there voted to keep the farmers market at Veterans Place for one more year, and Mayor Casale voted against.

When the council members went to cast their votes, a woman from the back of the public audience area called out a question, stating that she thought the issue had been settled, and asked for clarification, pointing out that the business owner leading this issue was not in attendance at the meeting. The Mayor responded: “There’s no settled issue until the Council votes on it in a Council meeting. We discussed it at the Workshop, and they were going to move them. There is no set agreement until we vote on it at a Council meeting. That’s the way everything happens.”

RESULT:

The Beacon Farmers Market will be at Veterans Place again this year. Despite all that, nothing changed - for 2019, at least. Mark your calendar for November 2019, when the negotiating parties said they wanted to revisit the issue and discuss future placement.

Early Questions Circling DMV vs. Veterans Place Location

As the Beacon Farmers Market and the City Council began to debate the logistics, a few issues emerged:

  • Hot Summer Heat On An Open Parking Lot: The farmers market folks were concerned about the direct heat wilting the produce if in the DMV parking lot. Veterans Place does offer shade, they said. If you speak to the vendors of the Beacon Flea located behind the Post Office, they will tell you about the parking lot heat.

  • DMV Parking Lot Currently Unused, But Is It Because Of No Sign? Jessica Reisman, owner of Homespun Foods, attended the meeting, and spoke at the end. She questioned the presumed emptiness of the parking lot, presenting the idea that no one knows it is a free parking lot. The Mayor objected, saying that he makes announcements during these City Council meetings. Knowing that the parking lot issue is not clear to everyone, A Little Beacon Blog years ago created a Free Parking Lot Guide, and we have received compliments on it by readers who found it online. But in truth, people passing through Beacon who have never watched a City Council meeting would not look at the DMV parking lot as a free lot - unless it had big, friendly signage. Which it currently does not. It has a faded, broken DMV sign, which presents what is inside the building. There’s not a specific parking sign (see picture below). According to Mayor Casale, the parking lot is waiting for a sign from Dutchess County, who owns the lot. There is a nice “Welcome to Beacon” sign, however.

  • Will The DMV Parking Lot Heavily Be In Use After Two New Buildings Open? Buildings next to and across from the DMV parking lot are going up, and are set to open with apartments. How will the free DMV parking lot be impacted when the buildings fill with residents?

  • Good Faith Effort To Accommodate Business Neighbors: Relations between businesses are just as important as between residents in their homes and apartments. After the final voting meeting, Jessica from Homespun suggested that the farmers market offer picnic tables to its customers, as well as port-a-potties to help keep unwanted overflow foot traffic out of the Towne Crier Cafe.

  • [EDIT: 5/13/2019] Port-a-Potties Already At Both Markets: What was not discussed at either workshop or the final voting period was that each market has had a port-a-potty at their market, for a total of two port-a-potties. The Beacon Flea has a port-a-potty at its market behind the gas station. That was how 2018 went, and how it was proposed that 2019 go. However, the proposal that the farmers market put forth was not published onto the City of Beacon’s website on the Agenda page that contains supporting documents (like letters, draft legal documents, etc.). Otherwise, we would have reviewed it for this article and could have seen that port-a-potties were already included in the 2019 year.
    PS: The only reason we know about the port-a-potties is because after the original publishing of this article, a new business in town reached out to us because they wanted the bathroom foot traffic, and saw a port-a-potty as a marketing opportunity. So we unintentionally learned a little bit more about the bathroom situation.

Pictured below is the current signage at the DMV parking lot:


Side Note: Beacon Becoming Not Vendor-Friendly

Vendors are a dicey topic among some brick-and-mortar businesses. Storefront businesses have high stakes once they sign long-term leases. When they see a competing business outside their doors, set up on a street corner as part of a street fair, some of them get upset. On the other hand, you have businesses that join in the fray. Like More Good, who has operated a Main Street storefront for a number of years, while employing people to set up shop at markets all over the state of New York, including at this farmers market even though his storefront is just steps away. When we spoke with More Good’s owner, Jason Schuler, three years ago about this, he said business was good at his farmers market stand, and at his store. More Good is also also expanding into a larger manufacturing facility in the former IBM Complex in East Fishkill, in addition to their storefront.

La Mère Clothing and Goods, a new brick-and-mortar storefront here in Beacon, has also created a petite La Mère on wheels, where she takes her boutique on the road and attends markets as a vendor. In addition to her storefront space.

All You Knead Artisan Bakery is another Beacon business who has a storefront on Main Street, and attends markets, including Beacon Farmers Market. If you want one of their chocolate croissants, you have two chances to pick one up.

Hudson Valley Seafood is a vendor at the Farmers Market, and is slated to go into the new Food Hall that is coming soon-ish to Main Street (look, they have an Instagram!). Hudson Valley Seafood says they will be open seven days in their new brick-and-mortar location - rather - they will be one of several vendors in a permanent indoor location.

Barb’s Butchery is going to open a vendor spot this year (starting May 19) at the Beacon Farmers Market so that people can grab her street food for a quick bite, then go to her shop on Spring Street to re-stock on the chicken, pork, lamb and beef to take home.

In the Beacon Farmers Market contract with the City of Beacon are lines about not allowing food vendors to cook at the market, with the exception of Nana’s Homemade, to be grandfathered in. (Nana’s serves kabobs, brownies, baklava, hummus, and a few other items). The businesses who have vocalized displeasure with Nana’s are Kamel Jamal of Tito Santana’s, Ziatun and Beacon Bread Company, as well as Phil from Towne Crier Cafe.

As for Towne Crier, they offer a very large menu (yay, so many options), usually have at least 10 different desserts, and have booth seating inside for large families or groups of friends. As for Ziatun, they have my favorite hummus in town. Bar none. Double order required. And as for Beacon Bread, they have some of the best french toast in town (rivaled by Homespun’s deep dish version).

Ziatun and Towne Crier Cafe are sit-down eating experiences. Market eating is street food, or quick food you eat to get you through the rest of Main Street, when you might revisit Towne Crier or Ziatun for a sit-down dinner. Or you snacked at the market, and still sat down at a restaurant 45 minutes later for lunch with a glass of wine or a beer.

The Mayor stated during the May 6, 2019, City Council meeting that he also does not like outside food vendors: “I'm a firm believer that we should not have outside prepared food vendors to non-Beacon brick and mortars.” Can local government dictate how and when we eat?

As for customers - loads of customers line up and wait each Sunday to have their favorite dish from Nana’s. It’s street food. As long as we’re all being honest here, it’s their chicken kabob wrap that gets me out of the house - at all - on Sundays. And it doesn’t even exist on their menu. I have to special request it. If I’m really going to treat myself, Nana’s also has one of the best brownies.

Eating prepared food at a farmers market is a quick bite you get because you know you are not going to go inside to sit at a restaurant. No matter what. You weren’t going to go to a restaurant anyway. Or maybe those Main Street restaurants, especially Ziatun and Beacon Bread, were already full.

Furthermore, not all Beacon-based brick and mortar food businesses can afford to hire more staff to go cook on-site. So they pass on opportunities to do so. This has happened for the Beacon Barkery Parade and others, where business owners have let me know that they can’t sustain to be out of their storefronts and pay additional staff, and order additional food to prepare. On the other hand, other restaurants in Beacon have figured out how to make this happen and do participate in markets.

Proposed Legislation To Block Prepared Food Vendors At Farmers Market

Here is the proposed contract language for 2019 from the City of Beacon to the Farmers Market, regarding prepared food vendors. The council ended up going with their existing 2018 contract for this year, however, this is what was proposed for this year:

 

CGF [Common Ground Farm] shall permit its vendors to sell only those products that are pre-approved by CGF, or its designee. No prepared food vendors may be added to the Market without first right of refusal being given to any Beacon business selling a comparable product. Except that the following vendors may continue to cook or prepare food to serve to the public for the term of their Vendor Agreement: Nana’s Homemade. If these vendors are removed from the Farmers Market, they must be replaced with local businesses.

Prohibited Sales From Vehicles on Veterans Place. There shall be no sales from the surfaces of pick-up trucks, trailers or other vehicles, except that produce and/or fish may be sold from a refrigerated vehicle. All products not exempt herein must be sold from a stationary stall when the Market operates on Veterans Place.

 

Kamel Jamal has long advocated against trucks and vendor opportunities, by doing so on social media and with past events including the market and a one-time Beacon Jazz Festival several years ago, where his food truck was the only one allowed to vend at that privately-run festival. He has signed leases on multiple restaurant locations in Beacon including Tito’s Santanas, Beacon Bread Company, Ziatun, Végétalien, an attempted move or expansion of Ziatun to the former Trendy Tots space on Main Street which is no longer happening (both the storefront and warehouse are still available for rent), as well as an attempted purchase of Poppy’s hamburger joint, which was purchased instead by the owners of Kitchen Sink. That burger joint is now Meyer’s Olde Dutch.

Business competition is a very tricky thing and has no single variable as to why a business is succeeding or not. To allow a government to begin legislation between business competitors can spread to other types of businesses, including soaps, coffee shops, jewelry (both wholesale in store and brick-and-mortar locations of a sole designer), and any other business type.

Additionally, a “local business” as mentioned in that proposed contract language is hard to define. Since Nana’s is a local business - somewhere - in some local area. Is a “local business” defined as one that is local anywhere? If the business has a brick and mortar in Beacon, but the owner lives in Poughkeepsie or Hopewell Junction or Wappingers Falls or Cold Spring, is that a “local business” as defined by the contract language introduced above? Because several Main Street business owners fall into that category, where they have a brick and mortar in Beacon, but live in a different city or town.

It should be noted for consideration, that Food Trucks were approved into Zoning in the “Linkage District” aka down near Brett’s Hardware, in January 2018. Additionally, a very popular food truck called the Beacon Bite, which ran on an empty lot next to Ella’s Bellas, powered down years ago. We were not covering City Council meetings at that time, but variables were discussed at the time about that food truck-based business.

Side Side Note: Community Around Farmers Markets - How It Happens

Gathering people in this way - street food eating - is part of the Farmers Market’s mission, as was stated several times in the Workshop meetings by the market manager. In response to Council Member Lee Kyriacou’s challenging of the issue the Farmers Market - when he asked if it was a mission issue or a neighbor issue: “Doesn't sound like there is any conflict with your core mission. Your core mission is about a farmers market. It's the ancillary components - the prepared food and the music. I think that if those are limited, I think you’ll have a ton of support. If there are more of those other things, I think that will create conflict.”

Paloma answered to define what a farmers market is and what it means to people: “I think we view the function of a Farmers Market ... to be a public space and to be a public gathering space. I think the prepared food and the music tie into that core aspect of it.”

Side Side Side Note: Does The City Of Beacon Want To Legislate Business Competition?

What was not discussed were the other businesses - artists and makers who provide items that are not food - that are not being legislated out - yet. Activities or products for children, home decor, wine tastings, books, etc. All of these items are available on Main Street just as restaurants are. It should be asked: If the City of Beacon legislates out competing businesses who put stakes down into brick-and-mortar locations, do they also plan to begin legislating out businesses at the vendor level?

If there are five yoga studios in Beacon, or three Pilates studios, or six coffee shops or three locations for different soaps, would the City start legislating that? Why just restaurants? And should the City have a hand in a business - if a business wants to sign a lease in a location which is zoned for what it provides - asking permission to open at all if there are competing businesses in town?

It’s a running - very endearing - observation that there are so many coffee shops in town. Everyone loves them all, as each is their own creation. But can you imagine if the City of Beacon didn’t allow one of them to open because there were already a few established? The coffee shops have their customers who like their vibe, their coffee, their music, their seating, their decor, their people. Fear of competition usually dissipates because people visit more than one of their favorites. Personally, I shop from and get produce from four grocery sources: Key Food, Beacon Natural, the Farmers Market, and Peapod. And Barb’s for my beef and chicken. It’s fun. Why regulate these choices?

Businesses in other cities in other states also do fight these vendor and food truck options. And City Councils do listen to them. Despite the enormous amount of people and customers (taxpayers creating the revenue that is sent in from the restaurant) who support all of these establishments, and value the vibrancy and choice it gives to a city. These street events are certainly part of the charm of Beacon.

So, set a note on your calendar for November 2019 for when this comes up again. Meanwhile, see you at market.

2019 Career Fair at Beacon High School - Seeking Businesses To Participate

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The Beacon High School Career Fair is Thursday, May 23, from 10 am to 1:30 pm, and once again, the school is seeking businesses to participate so that students can see the huge range of careers that exist in the Hudson Valley, or that exist at all.

Types of Participating Businesses

Past participants have included illustrators, writers, bloggers, podcasters, engineers, drone operators, insurance agents, document storage companies, first responders, public servants, T-shirt making companies, peace organizations, law firms, and many more.

Don’t be shy or think your business is too big or too small or too unusual to participate. This is your time to show kids what they can do, what they can become. This is your time to let them look up to you and your business, and figure out what they can dream about becoming.

I have participated three years in a row, representing A Little Beacon Blog (online newspaper) and Tin Shingle (teaches businesses how to get the word out). This year I’ll also probably have my couture branding agency, Katie James, Inc. represent. Businesses are grouped with like businesses, so I’m usually in the Media or Communications section.

Pictured above are the writer Sarah Crow, who at the time was a regular contributor to publications like GQ, Bridal Guide, and MTV. Currently she is a Senior Editor at Galvanized, where she does all sorts of things like manage freelance writers and run the social media account for the brand, as well as research for the Eat This, Not That! podcast. Also pictured here is Tom Cerchiara, founder of TEC Land Surveying.

Interacting With The Kids During The High School Career Fair

Each time, kids approach my table shyly (you have to gently encourage them to come up to your table - unless you’re Twins Barber Shop, who give haircuts at their table, or Antalek & Moore, who brought the giant Jenga game last year), and quietly tell me about their secret blogs. Correction. Their friends usually tell me about a kid’s secret fashion blogs while elbowing their blogger friend to go on and tell me about it.

One young man had a secret passion for sketching, and didn’t want to be that open about it at home. I told him about the Sketch Book Open Studio meeting at the Beacon Public Library every Wednesday (on my radar from its spot in A Little Beacon Blog’s Kids Classes Guide), and encouraged him to go check it out.

How To Participate

To participate, email the School Counselor, Michele R. Polhamus, at polhamus.m@beaconk12.org. She would love to hear from you. Participating is really easy. Tables and chairs are set up for you, with access to power if you need it, though you need to coordinate with Michele in advance.

Deadline: Friday, May 3, 2019! But if you’re seeing this slightly after that deadline, go ahead and give it a try just in case.

Happy Independent Bookstore Day, Binnacle Books! Last Chance On Their Original Tote Bag

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Happy Independent Bookstore Day Binnacle Books! It’s risky for any retail shop to open a brick-and-mortar store, but perhaps even more so for an indie bookstore! Many cheers to Binnacle Books for doing that in Beacon, and for connecting all of us with the printed page and for readings and other book 📖 based events.

It’s also really easy to order any book you want from Binnacle - just tell them what you want over the counter or the phone, they click up some magic, and 💥 BAM, you can pick it up in the store!

Binnacle Books has helped promote other indie bookstores by making available the Hudson Valley Book Trail Map, debuting today in their shop. Plus, this is your last chance to get one of their original tote bags - perfect timing for the plastic bag ban!

Says their newsletter: “Stop by to browse some fantastic recent releases, revisit old favorites, or get a recommendation for something new. If you spend $75 or more with us today, we'll throw in one of our original blue totes with your order. If you ever wanted one, now's your chance: after this run sells out, we aren't printing them again.” 

A Little Beacon Blog is honored to partner with all of our sponsors, but especially so when Binnacle approached us, wanting to sponsor our Shopping Guide. Thank you for having faith in us! Binnacle Books is a Sponsor, but this is not a sponsored post. It’s a “Celebrate Indie Bookstores!” post.

Go give Binnacle some love! Binnacle Books is at 321 Main St., Beacon, NY.

Phone Chargers, Cases and Screens on Main Street!

This store, Veritech Wireless, has been here for a while, occasionally changing hands, but it’s usually been a phone store of some kind. Now that my household is down to one good phone charger and another with exposed wire, I made the sharp left turn into the shop on my way to my weekly pickup of raw frozen cat food at Beacon Barkery.

I did not realize how easy it would be to purchase phone chargers in Beacon! Skip the drive to Best Buy (I tend to not do Amazon... I like walking and looking).

The shop is under new ownership now, and there are all kinds of techie things you can do there. Screen repair, device cases, iPhones, battery swap out on iPads etc, phone wall chargers that might be better for not overheating, Verizon services, etc. Pictured here is this unsuspecting customer who was arm-twisted into the photo, but was happy to support his friend... and with a little baby candy to boot! Veritech Wireless is the place, and it’s at 188 Main St., next door to Beacon Barkery and across from Luxe Optique.

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One Of Beacon's Historic Buildings From 1907 - Telephone Building at 291 Main Street - Is For Sale

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You know this building as the brick building across from Key Food. 291 Main Street is the building whose owner and restorer - Deborah Bigelow - is always outside sweeping trash, scraping cigar spit, raking the driveway and tree filler (yes, raking it into a meditative pattern), and who was up on the boom last year gilding the words "Telephone Building" in gold leaf by hand. If you went to her presentation for the Beacon Historical Society, you would have learned that those gold leaf sheets came in small squares that she needed to take up to the top of the building, in strong winds, and do her thing to gild it to the iconic letters.

This detail was her signature and the final piece of work on a building she rescued 27 years ago. Deborah has reached her point of retirement, and is selling the building. She has listed it in A Little Beacon Blog's Real Estate Guide, and is representing it herself. You can read more about the full renovation of the building at the Telephone Building’s website, which has lots of pictures.

Learn more about the love story  behind this bar in A Little Beacon Space.

Learn more about the love story behind this bar in A Little Beacon Space.

When buildings go up for sale, a wave of uncertainty goes through the community. A Little Beacon Blog is Deborah's tenant in the front office, with windows overlooking Main Street. We did this to physically connect with the community to offer pop-up shops, workshop space, and more in what we call A Little Beacon Space.

We always knew that at some point soon in her life, Deborah would embark on her sale of the building. Therefore, we are 100% supportive and thrilled for her. In fact, it has launched a million dreams of where A Little Beacon Space might pop up next. We wrote a Love Note To Deborah and discussed possibilities of our future plans in this article, which you can read here.

PS: Our South Avenue Elementary School kids are practicing songs from "The Greatest Showman" for their next recital, so it's a nice coincidence that this really inspiring soundtrack is fueling a possible move to... we don't know where! Or maybe staying right here! We wrote a Love Note To Deborah As She Sells Her Building, which you can read here.

Love Note To Deborah As She Sells Her Historic and Renovated Telephone Building, Built In 1907

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When Deborah first told me of her intentions to sell her building, it wasn’t a surprise. Selling a building after 27 years of investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into restoring and maintaining it is obviously a retirement plan.

What was a surprise, however, was my immediate emotional reaction to the news: I was sad that I wouldn’t see Deborah (nearly) every day. Deborah has become part of my life. My little Yoda. And she’s other people’s Yoda too. From one business woman to another, I value her more than she knows. That’s why I am so excited for her to be releasing her building to a new “caretaker owner,” as she calls her future prospect, whomever that may be. Maybe another woman! Who knows.

In The Beginning (well… for me)

Filling the space of the front office in the Telephone Building was a dream that occurred to me while attending the going-away party for the Nixie Sparrows. Remember those two creative birds? WOW, did a lot of creativity come out of that office - now this office that I sit in. I’ve been working in the digital space here in this building for two years as a website designer, blogger, motivator, and teacher. Occupying a physical space isn’t necessary for us digital artists, but when you’re mainly prancing on a keyboard, the desire for physical creation and connection grows.

The first space in Beacon that actually cracked into my brain as a potential work home was the tiny hallway of space next to the Beacon Hotel (and I’m not alone… many people have fantasized about having a retail something in that space). The former Howling At The Edge Of Chaos (blessings), and prior to that, it had been something else whimsical. I’d gotten word that it was becoming available, and I considered occupying it for my blogging headquarters. And hey, maybe I’d also rent it out for pop-up shops, since those are so fun in Beacon. And then the Nixie Sparrows flew the coop, and I began stalking their landlord: Deborah Bigelow.

About Deborah Bigelow

Deborah Bigelow is a very small person physically, but a ginormous person in her field, which is the gilded and preservation arts (covering things in gold leaf and restoring anything). Before I even met her, I knew of her via Instagram as @gildedtwig. In fact, she gilded a pumpkin for an article on A Little Beacon Blog once. I never knew at that point that she was the owner of the Telephone Building.

When Deborah interviewed me to take the space, she had other suitors. This room is a very desirable space. It’s very bright, and the Nixies had strung lights and commissioned a really cool metal/wood bar for the room (which I bought from them in order to keep in the space… and it even has a love story connected to it!). So I had to impress Deborah and hope that she liked what I wanted to do with the space.

The Beginning Of A Little Beacon Space

I wanted to use the space for pop-up shops, workshops and retreats. She warned me over and over of the lack of foot traffic (it has since picked up over the years that I’ve been here). I didn’t care. I’m from the digital world, so I’m used to working for every person that walks through the door. I don’t just hang my shingle and wait for the people to come in. I hang my shingle, and the work has just begun. It’s why I named my marketing education business Tin Shingle. Tin is a resilient metal, and Shingle is a store sign. It’s the first of many steps to bring people in.

And A Little Beacon Space has done that. It has brought people in for all kinds of reasons. From the private book club I did a year ago for The Artist’s Way, and formed incredible bonds with a handful of women, to the pop-up shops that have set up amazing displays in here, and had tremendous results. Better than they expected. In fact, one of possibly your favorite little shops in Beacon, Artifact, started as a pop-up shop here and now has their own brick-and-mortar spot near Dogwood. We even did kids’ hair cuts with Salon Dae! And now I go to Audrina for my cut and color.

Back To Deborah

The more I learned about Deborah, and her years here as a landlord and as a restoration artist, the more I couldn’t believe that more people didn’t know about her. I mean - super-local people know her from diligently sweeping the Telephone Building’s steps and using a toothbrush to clean cigar spit from her limestone steps. The owner of Cafe Amarcord is one of her silent protectors, as he’s been watching for years as she picks up the trash people leave around the place, and the challenges she’s faced from those with a little too much moxie out on the sidewalk.

I call Deborah a “restoration artist.” She tells me that it’s not an official term, but she’ll accept it if I call her that. She has binders filled with notes of history of what has happened in the building - from tenants’ agreements to notes to evidence of tomfoolery (really nice word for criminal behavior) that she’s endured over the years. She is one of the founding participators in Beacon Speaks Out, which had been working toward involving the community with the police department. She even has detailed notes on how the Nixies strung the lights on the ceiling here in the office, in case we need to replace them.

Deborah is a very calm and planned person. She’s from Pennsylvania and extremely respectful of others, and an up-lifter of the spirit. When I took this space, it was on a wing and a prayer. She supported me every step of the way. If I was feeling down or doubtful, she was there to lift me up.

Therefore, it is with great pleasure that I watch her reach her point in “retirement” and move into her own next steps. She is selling the building directly herself, and has a website for it that gives plenty of information, like pictures and numbers. You can even see Before and After photos of her renovation. She has listed the building in A Little Beacon Blog’s Real Estate Guide, and when she handed me the layout of photos for the listing (she wanted them in exactly a planned way… so Deborah!) she did so with tears welling up in her eyes. As I took the piece of paper from her hands, I brushed away our tears and kept our eyes on the future.

“You’re Staying… Right?”

My own children asked me this question when I told them the news. Friends on the street who are hearing the news are asking it as well. I’m asking it of myself!

I’m on a month-to-month lease right now. This is actually an exciting prospect to me. I like change. It sparks new creativity. It unplugs some clogs that I didn’t know were there, and makes things flow freely again. It reveals thoughts and priorities that often sit silently on the back burner, being ignored.

So here’s the thing. I don’t know where A Little Beacon Space will be. There are many scenarios that could play out. A new owner could buy the building, and not need the rent money, and keep my rent the same. As you can imagine, this building was bought 27 years ago, and Deborah has been very kind to us for rents. For a storefront space on Main Street in the heart of Beacon, with two walls of windows that let in glorious natural light from historically renovated windows, my rent is below market value at $1,260. If it increased, could I sustain it? Possibly.

Math from a new mortgage tells me that my rent would need to change. Unless the new owner is a collector, and likes to keep things the way they are and can afford to do that! But, if that doesn’t happen, then a few other scenarios could play out. Like…

  • Buy the Building? While my first thought was to assume that I’d exit out of the building, my next thought was to buy the building. My husband and I considered this, as a handful of people around us have expressed interest in investing in Beacon. The first building we seriously thought of buying was actually the yellow house with the warehouse behind it, formerly Trendy Tots. That’s what hooked us into Beacon in the first place. It was $450K at the time, and sold for nearly a million! Kicking ourselves! Presented with a perfect building such as the Telephone Building, getting together the down payment would still be tricky and involve me finding grants, such as women-owned business grants or historic building grants, and that’s a lot of homework that is not my specialty. The business model would also be tricky, but could involve me starting a podcast production studio in the basement - to add audio to media available from A Little Beacon Blog with different podcast shows. Writers and production for the web version of A Little Beacon Blog could also come in for shared office hours and write and be a team together. I would keep my current space as a fancier event space for rental income, which it is now.

  • Weather the Rent Increase: Possibly. If the new building owner(s) wanted A Little Beacon Blog and Tin Shingle to stay there and continue to offer the space as a venue for creatives and community, I would take a harder look at my marketing plans.

  • A Little Beacon Trailer! I really love trucks and trailers. I would love to tow my office behind my ginormous, un-eco-friendly car that can tow 9,000 pounds. What about a mobile office? I discovered the people at Flexetail, and aren’t those trailers gorgeous!?! My friend Sh* That I Knit got one, and when my girl here in Beacon, April from La Mère Clothing and Goods got her trailer for La Mère Petite, I couldn’t take it anymore. I need one. Maybe A Little Beacon Space would be a vendor down at Long Dock and have pop-ups sometimes?!

  • Little Beacon Spaces (as in more than one)? Maybe there could be more than one Little Beacon Space… There certainly is a demand for office space and I would love to be a provider of it…This is a bigger project, but is in Research Phase.

  • Go Home? I worked from home for 11 years. I could do it again. I’ve worked from my car from parking lots at Panera, skimming their wifi. But maybe I should stay out here in Brick and Mortar Land. What do they say? Go big or go home?

So I’m going to Go Big for now. A Little Beacon Space is going to market like gangbusters to rent out our space for workshops, retreats, photo shoots and pop-ups. Tell your friends! We’re only booking two months in advance until things become clearer of what is happening. Details and to book online are always at www.alittlebeaconspace.com.

Thank you for listening. While change creates uncertainty, please join me in wishing Deborah the best as she enters into this new phase.

Old Law Of Mandatory 7 pm Close Time For Wine & Liquor Shops Challenged Tonight By Lawmakers

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Wine and liquor stores in Dutchess County are required by law to close at 7 pm, as we discussed with Artisan Wine Shop when we discovered Artisan’s petition asking for extended hours. Wine shops in surrounding counties are able to stay open longer, but thanks in part to some liquor stores fighting years ago to keep a short leash on the closing time, the 7 pm law has remained in effect for Dutchess County. This law is being challenged on Thursday, April 4, by a new resolution authored by Dutchess County Legislator Frits Zernike and co-authored by Dutchess County Legislator Nick Page. The resolution proposes that stores be able to stay open until 9 pm. Frits will present the resolution tonight at the April 4 Legislative Committee Meeting, which is open to the public to attend and voice opinion.

“Dutchess County, for all its advances in recent years, remains a backward place,” said Frits to A Little Beacon Blog via email. “Our opening hours are the most restrictive in the state, and we lose business to neighboring counties with less antediluvian laws because of them.” In the past, county representatives from Beacon, including Jerry Landisi, have challenged this law. “Similar resolutions have been introduced in the past, and have never made it out of committee,” said Frits.

The resolution that Frits is proposing today requests that wine and liquor stores “be permitted from 9 am to 9 pm on weekdays, as well as on New Year's, Memorial, Independence, Labor, and Thanksgiving days, and on the day before Thanksgiving, December 18-24, and New Year's Eve,” as stated in the resolution he authored.

In April 2015, the City of Beacon created its own resolution to show support for extended open hours, and it was signed by nearly all of Beacon’s City Council at that time: Charles P. Kelly, Pamela Wetherbee, Ali T. Muhammad, Lee Kyriacou, George Mansfield, and Mayor Randy Casale (Peggy Ross was absent for the vote). But the law was never able to be changed.

Why The Opposition To Later Than 7 pm?

The reason seems to reside with stores located (more) upstate. Said Frits: “[The lack of change] seems to be because liquor store owners up county, in Poughkeepsie and beyond, are fearful of what expanded hours would mean. As they see it, they'd have to stay open later, never seeing their families, and face the certain prospect of being robbed after dark. There are various holes in those arguments, but in the past they've prevailed.”

This line of thinking was displayed in a letter submitted when this law was being challenged several years ago, from a wine and liquor store owner in Lagrangeville, NY. From the supporting documents, the letter reads: “Has anyone taken into consideration the already long hours that my family works and how this proposal will just increase our work hours and shorten our family time? Has anyone thought to think of the increased overhead this will create for our already struggling businesses? And finally has anyone thought of the increase in crime and burglaries that may occur if stores are allowed to stay open past 7 pm?”

The store owner went on to say in the 2015 letter: “You will be taking business away from us that would just come back to us the next day. The law to allow stores to open on Sundays has done nothing but take away from family time for our business. It has simply spread our sales out that we would have made on Saturday and Monday.”

In his support of longer hours, Frits point out that stores are not mandated to stay open longer. “Expanded hours won't force anybody to do anything; they'll just offer greater opportunity. Stores that wish will be able to stay open until 9 pm. Those wanting to close earlier can.”

Frits has written this logic into his proposed resolution, which reads: “WHEREAS concerns about crime, lost or increased business and revenue, as well as quality of life issues arising from decisions regarding hours of operation are best resolved by individual business owners, rather than subject to legislative regulation or edict.”

Artisan Has Acquired 200+ Signatures From Customers In Support Of Longer Hours

Artisan’s petition is in support of this resolution. Artisan Wine Shop has amassed more than 200 signatures from customers who do want longer shopping hours, who may not necessarily simply return the next day. Beacon is a commuter city, where many people are just beginning to arrive home at 7 pm. Shops who close at 6 or 7 often leave commuters shopping on the weekends if at all.

Beaconites often head off on day trips out of Beacon and may or may not be able to hit up wine stores in Beacon to stock up on bottles for the week if they can’t shop after 7 pm during the week. Wine shops outside of Beacon may benefit, however, as people are doing errands on Route 9 and are in other towns on day trips.

Editor’s Note: there are other wine shops in Beacon, and should we get input from them, we will update this article. Usually this requires us visiting them in person.

Where To Go to Voice Opinion

This resolution proposing a longer open time will be presented on Thursday, April 4, 2019 at a Committee Meeting at 5:30 pm in the County Legislature chambers. That location is at 22 Market St., 6th Floor, in Poughkeepsie. Members of the public are invited to speak on agenda items at the meeting. There is a three-minute time limit for each individual's comments.

Residents who want their voices heard about this issue are encouraged to email the general legislature email: CountyLegislature@DutchessNY.gov

Will Open Hours For Wine and Liquor Stores Change This Time?

Will the law change this time? Allowing wine and liquor stores to stay open past 7 pm? When the rest of retail locations like bars, breweries, beer stores and gas stations that sell beer are open long into the night? Stay tuned!

Wine Shops Must Close At 7pm In Dutchess County - Artisan Wine Shop Is Petitioning That - Wants Later Hours

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

UPDATE 4/4/2019: Artisan’s petition supports a resolution that Dutchess County Legislator Frits Zernike has authored, which requests that the law be changed to allow wine and liquor stores to remain open longer. Read more about that resolution - being presented on Thursday, April 4 - here.

If you’ve ever sauntered to Artisan Wine Shop on a summer evening, only to be met with a “Closed” sign at 7:30 pm, it’s not because they want to call it a night. Wine and liquor stores in Dutchess County are not allowed to stay open past 7 pm. Many people leaving their desk in New York City, Westchester County or Poughkeepsie (or anywhere else that involves extended commute times) often arrive home after 7 pm. Which means they are not able to shop for wine after 7 pm.

Currently, the hours of retail sale of wine and liquor in Dutchess County are restricted to 9 am to 7 pm on weekdays (defined as Monday to Saturday), and 9 am to 10 am on New Year’s, Memorial, Independence, Labor, and Thanksgiving days. You read that right - one hour on those holidays. “We usually don’t even open on Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, or the Fourth of July,” said a staff member from Artisan Wine Shop when A Little Beacon Blog called to confirm the one-hour holiday policy on those days.

People can, however, walk down to a wine bar, like Chill or Oak Vino, who can be open late into the night. Or, people could stop into a beer shop, like Beacon Craft Beer Shoppe next door to Key Food, to stock up on creatively brewed craft beer. People could decide to patronize any of the growing number of craft breweries in the area, like Two Way Brewing or Hudson Valley Brewing Company. While you’re at it, a person could even go to a whiskey distillery tasting room, like Dennings Point Distillery by Rite Aid, to sip a little and listen to live music late at night.

The Fight To Extend Open Hours For Wine and Liquor Stores Continues

Crossroads Wine and Spirit in Fishkill asked local government to extend Open hours in 2014, as it was hurting their business to close at 7pm. They have since closed this location.

Crossroads Wine and Spirit in Fishkill asked local government to extend Open hours in 2014, as it was hurting their business to close at 7pm. They have since closed this location.

Wine and liquor stores have tried to change this in the past. Crossroads Wine and Spirit in Fishkill wrote an email in 2014 to local government, asking that it reconsider the early closing time, especially considering other counties in New York had later closing times. In 2015, a resolution went through Beacon, asking Dutchess County to reconsider the early closing time (see resolution PDFs here). From Beacon’s 2015 Resolution to Dutchess County:

“The City Council of the City of Beacon hereby requests the Dutchess County Board of Legislators recognize the current County liquor store closing hours create an inconvenience to County residents, visitors to the County and it is also detrimental to the business owners and taxpayers, as it forces dollars that would otherwise be spent in Duchess County to be spent elsewhere and that therefore, the hours of operation for liquor stores on Monday through Saturday be permitted to be from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm.”

Today - People and Businesses Continue To Want Wine and Liquor Stores Open Longer

Inside of Artisan Wine Shop.  Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Inside of Artisan Wine Shop.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Now it’s March 2019, and there is a stack of signatures on a petition on the counter at Artisan Wine Shop, asking Dutchess County to let wine and liquor shops stay open until at least 9 pm.

From Artisan Wine Shop’s petition, supporters from all over Dutchess County - not just Beacon - are encouraged to write to their county legislators, both to the General legislature email address, and to one’s own county legislator directly.

From the petition: “We're asking Dutchess County residents to email the Dutchess County Legislature to make the biggest impact. And please forward this to your family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances in the county (as many outside of Beacon as possible too!).“

Emails To Send Open Hour Extension Requests To:

  • General legislature address: CountyLegislature@DutchessNY.gov

  • For Beacon: fzernike@dutchessny.gov or npage@dutchessny.gov

Artisan Wine Shop is located at 180 Main Street, Beacon, NY. And they’re only open until 7 pm, so plan accordingly.

The Beacon Theater Opens! Movies Now Playing On Main Street - Take Our Tour Through Pictures

The new 2019 Beacon Theater marquee (Top left) harks back to a more glamorous time. Note the boarded-up doors In the Photo at Top right, after the decline of Beacon from its glory years of the 1930s, to the depression it endured in the ‘60s and ‘70s. The reinvigorated Beacon Theater is located at 445 Main Street.  Photo Credit: A Little Beacon Blog

The new 2019 Beacon Theater marquee (Top left) harks back to a more glamorous time. Note the boarded-up doors In the Photo at Top right, after the decline of Beacon from its glory years of the 1930s, to the depression it endured in the ‘60s and ‘70s. The reinvigorated Beacon Theater is located at 445 Main Street.
Photo Credit: A Little Beacon Blog

View from the storefront window of  La MÈre Clothing and Goods , located across the street from the theater. She published it on  her Instagram . Someone is excited!

View from the storefront window of La MÈre Clothing and Goods, located across the street from the theater. She published it on her Instagram. Someone is excited!

The wait is over for one of the most anticipated Main Street openings - the Beacon Theater at 445 Main Street is now open, the marquee lights are on, the popcorn is popping, and the movies are playing.

The building that houses the theater, down on Beacon’s east end near Joe’s Irish Pub and La Mère Clothing and Goods, has been home to many businesses. According to the book Historic Beacon (pick up a copy in neighboring Beacon Bath & Bubble!), Warren S. Dibble, who purchased the hotel across the street (see our article on its major renovation a few years ago) in 1877, built a roller rink in this spot in 1884. When roller skating didn’t catch on as he had hoped, he built the Dibble Opera House by 1886. In it, he built a 1,300-seat hall, and according to the book, made “a high-class of entertainment to an appreciative public.” After that, according to Historic Beacon, the Beacon Theater was later constructed on the site. A well-known jazz bar, the Wonder Bar, also opened on the second floor of the theater.

The theater avoided being bulldozed during Urban Renewal, when many of what would have been historic buildings were demolished in Beacon and other nearby areas.

During that time, before the theater closed for good, the walls were painted purple by a church group who rented the space, then it was occupied by a storage company, and finally by a theater company, before moving into the hands of four partners who combined talents to rebuild the Beacon Theater, and open it to the public for movies and popcorn - with real butter. (!!)

beacon theater real butter popcorn.jpg

Tickets… Get Your Tickets…

Behind the operation and curation of movies shown at the Beacon Theater is Story Screen, Beacon’s original traveling, pop-up movie theater experience. Story Screen shows already-run films. Originally, they set up the projector in local establishments like Oak Vino and More Good. Tapped as a partner in this project, Story Screen now has a permanent home in the Beacon Theater.

Hankering to see an old favorite on the big screen? Send them a request! Maybe they will play it. I’m going to ask for Working Girl. A first-run showing of a locally produced documentary from Ana Sofia Joanes, Wrestling With Ghosts, is playing now, and has already sold out some screenings.

Movie tickets are $10 for adults, and $8 for kids, and sold on Fandango and at the Box Office [Updated 5/5/2019]. Movie times run all day 7 days a week (previously it was Thursday-Sunday, but is now 7 days). “As we get further along in our operation,” said Story Screen’s Brendan McAlpine, “we will also show first-run and indie films.”

[Update 5/5/2019: The first first-run movie the theater showed was Avengers: Endgame]. Movies currently in the lineup are already-run films, and include classics like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Moonlight, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Good Burger, Wrestling with Ghosts, Heathers, Cruel Intentions and Wall-E.

Check out which movies are playing on which weekends, see the Story Screen website and click on the row of dates above the listings.

Let’s Go To The Movies!

My little assistants and I happened to come at just the right time in between shows during the theater’s soft opening last weekend, so we were able to buy a tub of popcorn and Skittles (extra sour in the green bag) and get a tour.

Let’s go inside and look around!

The theater is modernized with “incredible” sound, said Jason Schuler of Drink More Good, who is one of the Beacon Theater partners spearheading the food and drink experience. Some design elements were chosen to honor the time period of the original theater. Note the light sconces on the wall of the theater. According to Jason, the original sconces (pictured on the purple wall in a photo toward the bottom) were too far gone to completely restore, so they sought out a light that complemented the decor. The direction of the screen remains the same. People in the theater decades ago sat in the same direction to watch what was on the stage. Today, the building has two movie theaters that have stadium seating, and a third theater will be available for private rentals for various types of events.

beacon theater person sitting stadium seating.jpg

Pictured below is the theater after it was painted purple, with gold detail, decades ago by the church. Who could blame them for using this irresistible hue - I have painted a few rooms purple in my house!

Photo Credit: The picture of the theater on the left is a screenshot from a photo published on AfterTheFinalCurtain.com.

The Bathroom

Impressively designed bathrooms have become a big deal nationwide, and Beacon is proving no exception. You have the Japanese-inspired wallpaper for the ladies at Quinn’s, the super-comfortable setting in the Roundhouse and Melzingah Tap House, the Beacon Public Library recently renovated theirs, and the bathroom at Billy Joe’s in Newburgh is impressive. There are others, but those are the first that come to mind. Add to the collection this beautiful wallpaper and experience for the ladies (see below) at the Beacon Theater. The lit sign for “Ladies Lounge” that hangs above the bathroom door is an original piece to the theater.

beacon theater ladies lounge.jpg
Pictured here is one of the Beacon Theater partners, Scott Brenner. He is also a partner in Drink More Good.

Pictured here is one of the Beacon Theater partners, Scott Brenner. He is also a partner in Drink More Good.

When Can We Eat?

An eatery is slated to open in the adjoining space. The partners are calling it The Wonder Bar, inspired by the original jazz bar that operated from the second floor of this theater starting in the 1930s and had a good run. Pictured to the right is the original brick wall, with freshly painted lettering. The eatery will be on the other side of that wall, and a take-out window will be open for people who want to order from a special movie menu, to bring food into the theater.

At the concession stand, you will find commercial candy, as well as real buttered popcorn and soda from Drink More Good. Spearheading this whole project is Brendan McAlpine of McAlpine Development (formerly known as High View Development Corp.), who also owns Hudson Valley Marshmallow on the other end of Main Street (see our write-up here), who bakes the marshmallows in More Good’s commissary kitchen (located behind More Good’s tea shop).

Movie munchie options are looking good - either eat a tub of popcorn, or a bag of marshmallows. Or regular candy. And finish off with some of the best, most natural root beer (or other soda flavors) around.

To learn more about all of the partners, click here for our feature story covering the start of this in 2017.

See you at the movies!

beacon theater under the lights.jpg

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