Kablam - Spring Has Sprung in Beacon!

  Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

It happened! Finally!

  Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin   

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin
 

We can leave our houses (is that safe to say without jinxing?) without coats and the sun is shining! Must get sunglasses from Luxe Optique or Style Storehouse!

After four solid snow days, one each week during March (possibly every Wednesday in March was an official snow day for the school district), the sunshine and tree blossoms are amazing.

Spending time down at Dia:Beacon while everything is in bloom, and taking in the spectacular view of the Hudson River is so special in Beacon.  

  Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin   

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin
 

HOT THING TO DO TIP: Beacon residents get to enjoy free admission each Saturday and Sunday down at Dia:Beacon, so get your plans on. Like this tip? Find others like it in A Little Beacon Blog’s Repeating Event Guide. If you find yourself on a Wednesday wondering what to do, check out that Guide for an easy list of suggestions.

  Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin   

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin
 

Clearwater gets Rockefeller Brothers Fund Grant for Estuary Education

clearwater_grant.jpg

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

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

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


About Hudson River Sloop Clearwater

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

Rockefeller Brothers Fund

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

Highlands Current Launches Opioid Drug Crisis Special Report for Hudson Valley

 Photo Credit:   The Highlands Current

Photo Credit: The Highlands Current

Editor's Note: This article was pushed to the front of our editorial calendar the day that Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., withdrew his name from consideration as drug czar for the Trump administration. A report by The Washington Post and "60 Minutes" found that Marino was part of sponsoring legislation passed in 2016 that made it difficult for the Drug Enforcement Association (DEA) to go after drug companies who failed to report suspicious behavior - which included making large orders - of narcotics. According to the report, the DEA had been trying to block this proposed legislation for years, but in 2016 lost. Learn more about that in this NPR article.

You may have heard the chatter - "There's an opioid drug crisis in the Philipstown area." Two things may have happened after that - you might not have known what an opioid was, so the problem wasn't visible or urgent. Then, Philipstown isn't Beacon, so another removal from the situation occurs. When you read stories, however, of high school students who got addicted to opioids at age 14 after taking prescription painkillers for an ACL injury, or a sunburned foot, and then dying in a motel room in Newburgh, or almost dying after a long and frightening struggle with addiction from how the chemicals in the drug hook into the brain, "opioid" takes on a different meaning.

About a decade ago, a campaign was created called "Faces of Meth" that showed people's deteriorated faces - teeth, skin, hair. You can see faces of meth examples here. "Faces of opioids," however, is obituaries. It's an emotional route, versus the physical one. You can see faces of opioid examples here.

A recent New York Times article featured a medical examiner who is quitting his job after analyzing so many opioid-overdosed bodies, where he first sees white foam seep out of the lungs when he cuts them open, but has to analyze the entire body in order to give an official overdose verdict. The medical examiner wants to reach people before they get to his autopsy table - while they are living. He wants to be a minister. His church? Hiking trails. He wants to serve as a chaplain for the Boy Scouts of America, and wants to join the Appalachian Trail Chaplaincy of the United Methodist Church so he can minister on the the hiking trails that cross New Hampshire and its White Mountains.

Opioid Deaths and Help in the Hudson Valley

After publishing more than a few drug overdose obituaries, The Highlands Current, the newspaper based in Cold Spring that covers Phillipstown and Beacon, dedicated a lot of ink (aka space in the newspaper) to the epidemic, called Special Report: Fighting Back the Opioid Crisis. What compelled The Highlands Current to dedicate its staff and printing to such a cause? In the words of Christine Bockelmann, Chair of the Board of The Highlands Current:

 

“The opioid crisis is one of the most urgent of national issues, but where it is felt most acutely is on the local level — when a neighbor goes into treatment, a family member gets addicted, a teenager dies. The Highlands Current decided it was important to look at how this national crisis is playing out in our communities because that is where those receiving care and those giving care cope on a day-to-day basis. We wanted to understand the treatments supported by our care centers, our law enforcement officials, our courts, and we wanted to know their thoughts as well as those of addicts in recovery and of parents in mourning on the best approaches to "fighting back" in this crisis. In the middle of all the words devoted to this critical issue there may be information to help someone pull through, an idea for a more effective treatment, or just hope that educating more on this crisis will help bring it to an end."

 

The Four Components of the Special Report

The report is broken down into four easy-to-follow sections.

Part 1: Stories

Max
Max is the son of Teri Barr, owner of Hudson Valley Outfitters on Main Street in Cold Spring. One summer when he was 14, he got a bad sunburn on the tops of his feet while boating. The doctor prescribed an opioid painkiller. When the prescription ran out, they got another prescription. The rest of Max's story is in The Highlands Current's Special Report, and it involves a private boarding school rife with drugs, addiction, withdrawals, relapses, incarcerations, court appearances, a mother's constant battle to protect her son from himself, and what happened next.
Read Max's story 

Sasha
Alexander “Sasha” Matero, of Garrison, developed an opioid addiction while he was 14 years old as a student at Haldane High School in 2007. He injured his ACL, a knee ligament, in an accident and had it surgically repaired. He was prescribed opioid painkillers by his doctor during recovery from surgery. According to the article, the pills “flipped the switch,” his mother said. “The painkillers worked. They made the pain go away.” Sasha struggled with addiction to the painkillers for years after that. Despite open communication with his parents about his addiction, and with Sasha actively seeking help, he died in a hotel room in Newburgh on his 25th birthday in 2014.
Read Sasha's story


Part 2: Role of Law Enforcement and the Courts in Battling the Epidemic
Two Highlands Current reporters were assigned to cover the courts and police officers. Michael Turton looked at the work of the Putnam County Drug Court, while Jeff Simms (a Beacon resident) spent time with Beacon and Dutchess County police officers who battle the opioid crisis daily.

From his "A Day in Drug Court" piece, Michael recalls a conversation he heard, as the judge delivered opening remarks.

 

After the 30 or so defendants file into the courtroom, [Judge James] Reitz asks anyone to stand who knows a woman named Samantha who had appeared in court the previous week.

A few stand. “She was doing well,” Reitz says. “She told me, ‘How can life not be great? I’m clean and sober and working. I’m getting my degree. I’m doing great.’ ” Her most recent court-ordered drug test, three days earlier, had come up negative.

That same afternoon, she was found dead of an overdose.
Click here for the full article: A Day in Drug Court.

 

Part 3: Treatment Options
The Special Report explores different treatment and education options available, and new facilities that are being built. The Hudson Valley has hundreds of thousands of dollars available for building facilities that prevent death and try to get a person away from an addicted state. The following are explored in the articles:

  • Dutchess County Stabilization
  • Arms Acres
  • CoveCare
  • St. Christopher’s Inn
  • What Does It Cost?

Part 4: Voices and Shared Thoughts to Fight Problem
The Highlands Current explores "thoughts of specialists, counselors, doctors and those struggling with addiction about what they feel should take priority in addressing the problem."

Click here to read the Special Report, and explore what is going on if you haven't yet.

Real Quick - What Are Opioids?

Before you dive into the Highlands Current's local spotlight on opioids, you'll want to know what they are. In the words of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, here is what they are:

 

Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others. These drugs are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain. Opioid pain relievers are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by a doctor, but because they produce euphoria in addition to pain relief, they can be misused (taken in a different way or in a larger quantity than prescribed, or taken without a doctor’s prescription). Regular use — even as prescribed by a doctor — can lead to dependence and, when misused, opioid pain relievers can lead to overdose incidents and deaths.
— National Institute on Drug Abuse

 

Lyft and Uber On Apps Now In Huson Valley, Beacon, Newburgh, and Beyond

 Lyft looks like this on your iPhone in Beacon. Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin for A Little Beacon Blog

Lyft looks like this on your iPhone in Beacon.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin for A Little Beacon Blog

This is big news: Legislation just passed to allow Lyft and Uber to operate in the Hudson Valley. Lyft and Uber are app-based car services that people like you and me download on our phones, tell the app where we are standing, and then an alert goes out to drivers also on the app to let them know that we need a pickup somewhere. Your credit card is attached to the app, so you pay for the ride immediately, without no need to take a card out of your wallet. You can see a picture of the driver and watch their car drive to you - all while in the app.

Your friends can (almost) instantly become taxi drivers by being on-call drivers that people order from their apps in Lyft or Uber. No matter your politics about the ridesharing economy and its impact on the taxi industry, there is no denying that the Lyft and Uber apps have changed the way people get around - all over the world.

HudsonValleyOne has produced a great article about the general overview of this type of transportation, and how it was or was not accepted in Kingston. Bottom line is: There's a new competition in town for how people get around. We have ZipCar for car rental, car dealers for car owning, and now ridesharing for quick and affordable car trips places.

Why Are Lyft and Uber Useful to Local Beaconites and Hudson Valley Peeps?

Oh, let us count the ways!

  • Tired: You walked really far from your house, and are too tired to walk home. Lyft it!
  • Pregnant: You're pregnant (like me!) and don't know who will drive you should you go into labor during the day when everyone is at work. Lyft it!
  • One-Car Family: You have one car in your family, and your partner is using it, but you really need to get up 9D. Lyft it!
  • Train: You need to get to the train station and don't feel like walking, and have 9 minutes to spare. Lyft it!
  • Shopping Spree: You live on the West End of Beacon but just indulged in a major shopping spree #BeyondTheBend on the East End of town at Style Storehouse, and then Kaight, and picked up a bunch of makeup at The Blushery. Too many bags to carry home. Lyft it!

You get the idea.

The Business of Taxis vs Ride Apps and "the gig economy"

This has been a fun business drama to follow. First there is the disrupting of the traditional taxi industry. When once taxi drivers were known to be rude or have dirty cars, or balked at you when you took out a credit card to pay when credit card machines got put into taxi cabs years ago, they now have to be a little nicer because people aren't hailing them as the only resort. People can tap their phones and find someone who'll happily pick them up. No more looking up phone numbers to local taxi cab companies, only to find a wrong number or one where no one picks up the phone.

The gig economy is one where someone can decide to pick up some extra cash on the side of (or instead of) a so-called "regular" job. Grandmothers, college kids, graphic designers, and everyone is becoming a driver for Lyft or Uber. Heck, it makes you keep a clean car, that's for sure.

The taxi industry is upset that these indie-drivers don't have to deal with the overhead that they do: carrying liability insurance, finding dispatchers, office rentals etc. Kingston Kabs owner Jeff Weintraub was quoted in the Hudson Valley One article when he wrote to Kingston Mayor Steve Noble: “My point is that before you wrap your arms around these entities, take the time to analyze and learn about what we do and the problems we face,” wrote Weintraub. “Perhaps the first step is to deal with the present system, clean it up, and see if local business people with local workers can provide the service you want [and] the people of Kingston deserve.”

The trouble with that approach is that ridesharing has been around for years now, and has improved people's lives - both people who want a ride, and those businesses who benefit from more people getting there safely. The Kingston mayor responded with this: “Now we have this technology that has worked in other places. We have more and more people coming into the city who have this technology on their phones and are wondering why it’s not working here.” So many people who live in the Hudson Valley access Lyft and Uber when they are not in the Hudson Valley, like when they are visiting friends in Chicago, New York City, or Columbus. To not be able to use these services in one's hometown or city, when they can in so many other towns and cities, opens a dialogue for questions.

So we reached out to our friends at Beacon insurance agency Antalek & Moore to tell us how the insurance part of it might impact gig economy drivers who, so far, are not required to carry liability insurance. What did we learn? It's a big risk for indie drivers, as insurance companies are opting not to fulfill claims when the app is on and they are waiting for pickups or driving a client. More to come on that next week!

How Do You Use Lyft and Uber?

Using Lyft and Uber is one of those things that is so easy, you might complicate it by overthinking it. If you have a smart phone, and if you know how to get to your App Store or Play Store, you just download Lyft or Uber. (I'm using Lyft until Uber can smooth out its sexist corporate culture issues and wannabe do-gooding campaigns that end up backfiring on them.) Put in your address and credit card information. Then just tap the main button to activate a ride to come to you.

 

Hudson Valley Residents Have Spoken! Anchorages Proposal Put on Hold by U.S. Coast Guard

After receiving much feedback about the proposed anchorages on the Hudson River, Rear Adm. Steven Poulin, Commander of the First Coast Guard District, has suspended future rulemaking decisions and directed a formal risk identification and evaluation of the Hudson River, known as a Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA). This study is conducted to learn more about the safety and environmental risks associated with the myriad waterway uses of the Hudson River. At the moment, there is only one seasonal anchorage ground on the Hudson River between Yonkers and Kingston, New York.

More than 10,200 comments were received from waterway stakeholders during the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) comment period that ended December 6, 2016. You can read a summary of the comments received here. According to Lieutenant Karen Love Kutkiewicz, Public Affairs Officer of the First Coast Guard District, the comments generally fell into one of the following three categories: 1. Those opposed to creating anchorage grounds (94%); 2. Those in support (3%); and 3. Those reflecting a neutral opinion (3%). 

Kutkiewicz also adds “The Hudson River is a beautiful national treasure. It also serves as a source of drinking water, recreation, tourism and economic prosperity. The river historically has been and will remain a vital corridor for maritime commerce. The Coast Guard’s role on the river includes protecting the environment and promoting navigational safety. These are complementary objectives, as safer navigation inherently improves environmental protection.”

In the fall, a group of waterway users and stakeholders will conduct a two-day structured workshop to meet these objectives and ensure the PAWSA process is a joint effort involving waterway users, stakeholders, and agencies to determine the safety of the waterway.

If members of the public wish to be considered for participation in the workshops, please email: HudsonRiverPAWSA@uscg.mil by July 21 with your name, contact information, connection to the waterway, experience, and related skills.

National Guard and Bulldozers Are Booked For Beacon's Big #Digout2017

A true snowpocalypse, this blizzard of March 2017 will seal the deal that we can't expect winter's end in the Hudson Valley until April. Remember when we had those Summer Numbers during the nice Presidents Day long weekend? How the shops were wrapping it up with Winter Clearance sales? Reflecting on how they made it through the winter? Hopefully you heeded our advice and stocked up on winter clothes and boots then, because then this storm happened, leaving 2 to 3 feet of snow covering Beacon. With cold temperatures locked in, the barricades of snow corralling people trying to get somewhere via sidewalk might not melt away anytime soon, especially as a new snowfall is forecast for Saturday. This snow state has happened in the past, when barricades of snow lasted for what felt like weeks.

How is the snow affecting life in Beacon? Let's take a look in pictures...

 The National Guard is called to Beacon to help remove snow.

The National Guard is called to Beacon to help remove snow.

The National Guard Removes Snow

The National Guard was called in to remove snow from designated areas. We emailed the Mayor's Office to get a definitive answer on what the National Guard's instructions were, as to what areas they were told to dig out first - which sidewalks, streets or parking lots - but have not received a response as of the publishing of this article. The Mayor's Office did, however, send us the alert about the State of Emergency, and the subsequent Modification. Troops could be seen up 9D on both sides of the street, and on side streets connected to 9D. If you saw them elsewhere in the City, please chime in below in the Comments.

 Beacon runs out of places to put the snow after plowing city streets. Beacon City School buses are running as of Thursday.

Beacon runs out of places to put the snow after plowing city streets. Beacon City School buses are running as of Thursday.

The snow started falling early Monday morning, and continued all day Tuesday, letting up around 6 pm. Shoveling midway through the storm seemed pointless, as so much more was expected to fall. People began digging out their homes on Monday night, before it turned into an all-day affair on Tuesday. Many people took a snow day from work and school to just dig out of their houses - literally, needing to shovel off the porch to even get to the driveway. Snow responders, including people who drive contracted tow trucks and snow plows, or people with snow blowers, had to first get out of their homes in order to get to work - removing snow from elsewhere.

Commuters who normally travel to New York City had nowhere to go, as New York City was also buried and Metro-North and other commuter trains were shut down. Beacon's State of Emergency kept cars and people off the streets in Beacon. In the street was not somewhere you wanted to be, anyway, as snow plow trucks rumbled through trying to get to different neighborhoods. Trash was picked up as usual, but a lot of people couldn't get to their garbage cans (unless they were sharp thinkers like Beacon resident Arie Bram, who pulled his cans out before the storm hit).

Unless you pulled out your trash cans the night before, they weren't going anywhere. Trash pickup did commence the day after the storm.

Paths in the snow proved to be hard to come by, as some sidewalks - residential, business and public-owned - were not cleared completely. Some hadn't been touched at all by Thursday, since such a massive amount of snow needed immediate clearing, making it difficult for first responders to get into a building. Keep in mind, even though several sidewalks had been cleared by snowblower and shovel, one doesn't realize how dependent one is upon so many sidewalks on both sides of the streets - until one suddenly can't use them. Just a single property owner not clearing 100% of a sidewalk impacts basic accessibility on an entire route to the train station, for example.

 The public parking lot on Henry Street needs several trucks to cart away snow.

The public parking lot on Henry Street needs several trucks to cart away snow.

Bulldozers Booked By City And Private Business To Remove Snow

When you run out of room to push snow into corners, you call in the bulldozers and dump trucks to cart it away. Plowing of municipal lots started on Wednesday, with heavy work continuing on Thursday. The lot pictured above on Henry Street is a double lot. One side of it is attached to local businesses like Towne Crier and LocoMotive Crossfit, and the other side primarily serves patients of the Beacon Health Center. According to employees who work in this area, the business parking lot was plowed on Wednesday, and the health facility plowed on Thursday, with work starting overnight. On Wednesday, the Health Center was open to patients, including seniors, children, pregnant women and disabled people.

 The public parking lot next to Beacon Bread Company gets the bulldozer treatment.

The public parking lot next to Beacon Bread Company gets the bulldozer treatment.

Citizens who do not have driveways or a place to park their cars sought spots in the public parking lots, for which the 24-hour limit remained in effect. But with so much snow, there was nowhere to move the cars. Residents visited the lots at night to shovel their cars out and lot-hop to avoid the ticket for exceeding the 24-hour rule. Pictured above is the public parking lot next to Beacon Bread Company on Thursday, as a bulldozer lifted snow out.

Those who could not get to lots, or already had a car in a lot and needed placement for another car, borrowed friends' driveways, as Jesse Meyer of Pergamena, a tannery based in Montgomery, did. He had one car at the lot next to Beacon Bread Company, and another in a neighbor's driveway. He is pictured here digging out the first of two vehicles on Tuesday night.

A man with no driveway borrows a neighbor's before heading to a public lot to shovel out two cars.

Some private businesses, such as Halvey Funeral Home, plowed early Thursday morning, completely clearing their sidewalks and street parking, a benefit to their clients as well as residents. Other establishments, like St. Andrew's Episcopal Church on South Avenue, had completely cleared sidewalks, which was helpful for their congregation as well as kids walking to the elementary school just one block down the road. But plenty of homes, which might have elderly residents or even be abandoned, had not shoveled yet, making it difficult to walk to school, as kids and parents were forced to walk in the street.

 HaLvey Funeral Home completely cleared its sidewalks and street parking with a bulldozer.

HaLvey Funeral Home completely cleared its sidewalks and street parking with a bulldozer.

 The orange No Parking signs moved throughout the City all week.

The orange No Parking signs moved throughout the City all week.

No Parking on City Streets

The orange signs started going up on Wednesday (according to eyewitnesses; we have not confirmed with the city), reinforcing the parking ban on city streets, but definitely acting to clear the way for any quickie parking jobs from people who were running into a store or apartment to get something. Wednesday was a fully open day, as the post office, all grocery stores, banks, etc. reopened, as people started emerging to run errands like getting food, signing corporate tax documents (a major corporate tax deadline was March 15, sending accountants into a panic when clients couldn't come in to sign paperwork) and conduct other business as usual.

Despite the five-day parking ban on city streets, people did park on Main Street and side streets. Because of that, plowed snow couldn't be removed completely from the street, and thereby spilled into and further narrowed the streets. With cars parallel-parked farther away from the sidewalk, driving down Main Street mainly consisted of driving in the middle of the road.

With Thursday being the new Monday as schools and more businesses reopened, many people were out and about, making driving a very slow and careful experience. However, toward the afternoon when the sky was blue and the sun was shining, some people began to drive a little faster, turning quickly out of side streets and almost ramming oncoming traffic, which was inching slowly among other cars. Driving in Beacon was not fun on Thursday.

 A pathway was cleared for gymgoers to Hudson Valley Fitness and other neighboring shops.

A pathway was cleared for gymgoers to Hudson Valley Fitness and other neighboring shops.

Stores on Main Street and side streets did their best to clear the sidewalk, and make a path to the street itself so that potential customers could get from their cars through the thick wall of snow. Clearly, Hudson Valley Fitness (above) made sure their members had no excuse to miss getting to a fitness class. Parking on the East End of town is actually possible, what with the free parking lot located down the street from the "P for Parking" sign in this picture. Just head down Church Street to the large lot near Hudson Valley Brewing. See A Little Beacon Blog's Free Parking Guide for pictures and cross streets.

School's Out For Summer! Just Kidding - For Pre-Spring Break

Beacon City Schools shut down Tuesday during the storm, and Wednesday during the digout. Thursday was a 2-hour delay, which means families had to get their kids to school at 10:30am instead of 8:30am (earlier for the high school). Not all roads and sidewalks were 100% clear by the opening or the delayed opening, so the 2-hour delay did not make sense to some parents who have questioned other 2-hour delays (sometimes called when no weather is happening at all, except for a chilly temperature of 20 degrees or blowing wind).

 The plowed parking lot of Beacon High School.

The plowed parking lot of Beacon High School.

 The plowed parking lot of Rombout Middle School.

The plowed parking lot of Rombout Middle School.

While Beacon City Schools had plowed parking lots in time for school to start, that act alone didn't guarantee access to the schools. Several sidewalks from residential and private properties were not yet cleared, making parents take convoluted paths while walking kiddos to school. Some plowed snow remained in the street, making two-way traffic during kid drop-offs very congested.

A Proposed Alternative to the 2-Hour School Delay

Quite possibly the most controversial topic that parents discuss amongst themselves and with administrators is the justified or unjustified calling of a snow day or 2-hour delay. In Beacon, the formula for such calls has not been clearly stated by the current superintendent or Board of Education president; instead, the broad "child safety" is cited. Nothing specific has been made available to parents (including this one) who have emailed to ask why, or for more specific details so that we can know when to expect a 2-hour delay on clear, sunny days.

Two years ago during a normal snowfall, all districts around Beacon closed - except Beacon - really throwing a wrench into the logic. During a meeting with the superintendent, I was told that those schools were fulfilling a contractual day off for teachers that had been negotiated by the teachers' union and the schools were looking for a day in the schedule to grant it. Beacon, at that particular time, did not want to go that route. Despite the argument that school is not childcare, school in fact offers parents and kids a solid schedule, and when that schedule is disrupted, adjustments need to be made quickly and at times those changes may jeopardize jobs or important medical appointments.

The trouble with 2-hour delays in the morning is that at times, it is not safer. It did not feel safer during this week as the entire district poured out in the late morning to walk and drive children to school. If walking, pedestrians headed for the middle of the street when a clear sidewalk wasn't available. If driving, cars headed to the middle of the street to detour around walkers and parked cars. Where roads were closed by the National Guard to clear sidewalks or streets, it took much longer to get more than one child to more than one school. A drive that normally takes five minutes took over half an hour. (Beacon doesn't have busing for all kids, so some children walk to school in the morning, either with their friends, alone, or with a parent.)

A safer alternative may be to wave the late penalty, and open schools at the usual time, but allow kids and parents two hours to get there. This could stagger the time people leave (assuming everyone doesn't leave five minutes before the delayed-open time, as they do during 2-hour delays) in order to give everyone more time to dig out, slowly back down driveways, get unstuck from driveways, pick up unplanned carpool pals, and get through alternate routes to school.

 That's not a sidewalk those boots are standing on, it's 2.5 feet of snow on top of the berm of the sidewalk. For some parents, drop-off is on the other side of the sidewalk, so getting the child over the mound was the challenge once getting through traffic to school. But at least there was a clear path in front of the school!

That's not a sidewalk those boots are standing on, it's 2.5 feet of snow on top of the berm of the sidewalk. For some parents, drop-off is on the other side of the sidewalk, so getting the child over the mound was the challenge once getting through traffic to school. But at least there was a clear path in front of the school!

Mostly unintentional blockages of sidewalks happened throughout the city. If you are not a frequent walker, then you might not be used to using sidewalks. First and foremost on most people's minds is getting to their cars in order to get to work or to the store. Some people shoveled a path from their door to the driveway, without shoveling the other side of the door. Or if neighbors didn't want to step on each other's shoveling, they left an unshoveled no man's land of a barrier of snow, like when you're sharing dessert with someone and neither of you wants to take the last bite. Mini-barricades like this were all over the city, which pushed more people into the streets as they tried to take what is normally a straightforward walk. 

Shoveling in front of fences was actually dangerous, as the removal of the snow unbalanced the gate, causing sounds of buckling. So be careful walking past those fences!

 Watch for buckling fences pushed by unbalanced yards full of snow.

Watch for buckling fences pushed by unbalanced yards full of snow.

All in all, Beacon is getting cleared pretty systematically. Especially considering that we don't often receive this much snow at once, there aren't many protocols to follow. At least the weather didn't jump up to 40 degrees after a snowfall, as it has in the past, causing flooding. So we'll take the bright sun and colder temperatures to let the snow gradually melt into the ground and fill the reservoirs for a replenished water supply.

Be Ready for DOT

And listen - don't park your car out on the street at night if your road hasn't been snow-sucked! You never know when those heroes from the Department of Transportation are going to swing by. Signs for the snow removal pictured below went up at possibly 1 am, and the trucks came by at 6 am to clear the snow from this side of the street on this block. I was awake at 1 am (because that's my new pregnancy thing - waking in the middle of the night) so I saw the trucks getting ready.

Once the morning officially started for me at 6 am to make a dent in this article (I don't write at night because I fall asleep while typing), while I was making coffee and stirring cat food (they like it soupy), I heard the trucks again, this time in blower mode. Little did I know my husband had parked the car in front of the house, and it was face to face with a giant DOT truck. I put on my cap and boots and dashed outside to move it, only to not notice when the prized glasses the hubs got for Christmas (from Luxe Optique, such a treat!) fell out of the car and subsequently under my tires as I toggled between Drive and Reverse to get around the mounds of snow, and into our shared driveway, which already had five cars in it.

A casualty of the storm, this glasses case is pretty impressive, in that the glasses didn't completely flatten and the lenses shatter. A man in the DOT truck saw the whole thing happen, and got out of his truck to pick up the crushed glasses case and hand it to me in the wee, dark hours of the morning. Someone has hawk eyes and had his glasses on!

Photo Credit: All photos pictured here were taken by Katie Hellmuth Martin.

ZipCar Adds Two Car Rental Spots at Beacon Train Station, Bringing Total to Four

Two more ZipCars have arrived in Beacon. Find them parked at the Metro-North Train Station.
illustration Credit: ZipCar, from their home page. 

ZipCar, a car-sharing program that is available worldwide, has added two additional cars that are available in Beacon. The first two cars arrived here in May 2016, and live in permanent parking spots on Henry Street and near City Hall. The latest two spots are at the Metro-North Train Station, as announced by Governor Cuomo this month, through a separate partnership between Metro-North and ZipCar. The ZipCars taking up permanent residence at the train station, which are given personal names by ZipCar, is a Crosstrek is named Cala, and a Honda Civic named Amanecer.

ZipCar's partnership with the City of Beacon for the spots on Henry Street and at City Hall yields Beacon a monthly fee for use of the two street spots, with the money going into a dedicated fund for parking issues. Metro-North has its own arrangement with ZipCar for the spots at Beacon's and other train stations. "We have been very happy [with having ZipCar available], and believe it is another component of attracting business, tourism and people to the City," says Anthony J. Ruggiero, M.P.A., City Administrator for the City of Beacon.

During the city Workshop meeting on March 14, 2016, about ZipCar first launching in Beacon, Mayor Randy Casale suggested that developers on private property consider making spots in their parking lots available for ZipCar parking spots for additional cars. The access to a car-share could be pitched as a perk to prospective residents of those housing or apartment complexes. Such arrangements could be a third category of ZipCar locations in Beacon in the coming years.

As for the nitty-gritty details of dealing with snow or cases of theft: ZipCar makes arrangements for cars to be unlocked and moved by snow plow drivers. If a ZipCar is stolen, it can be immediately shut down remotely, stopping the vehicle in its tracks.

How ZipCar Works

A person joins ZipCar as a member for about $95. ZipCar pays for gas and insurance, and 180 miles are included with your rental for each day you've booked the car. From that point, an hourly rental or day rate of about $8 to $10 per hour applies.

Reserving in advance is important, as more people are becoming familiar with using ZipCar. Reserving is easy and done via app for iPhone or Android, so these cars can get going quickly. 

Once booked, people can drive it anywhere during their rental period, and must return it to the same parking spot where they picked it up. ZipCar vehicles are locked via a scanning mechanism. ZipCar members use a special card or the app to unlock the car, rendering it drivable. Residents of Beacon who may find it useful are people who don't own a car, or share one car in a busy family, but need to drive to Target or Sunny Gardens for errands.

Outside of our little city, ZipCar might appeal to people traveling to other areas of the country - or world - who want to hop in a car to go somewhere for a few hours or a day. Maybe you're in Paris and want to head to Versailles for the day, but don't want to deal with a train, tour bus, or taxi. Road trip! 

As for the future of ZipCar in Beacon as the program expands, perhaps self-driving ZipCars will play a role. It could be handy if a car could get itself from a parking spot at the train station to a member on the East End of town, who, say, has kids and can't hoof on foot  everyone to the car for a necessary Target trip. Options could increase when and if self-driving cars become the norm... Stay tuned!

Marchers Go Postal - Local Printer Grey Printing Enables Snail Mail March

Grey Printing, based in Cold Spring, used the pre-designed postcard art provided by Women's March on Washington to print stacks of postcards for locals to order.
Photo Credit: Grey Printing

Days after and estimated 5 million women and men marched all over the world in the name of several causes and belief systems challenged by the new administration, several wondered, "What next?" The main organizers of the Women's March on Washington (WMW) kept going and designed more ways for people to stay involved to be heard, this time, taking it to the snail-mail. And who are experts in snail-mail? Local printers.

True to a well-branded campaign, the WMW designed postcards for anyone to print out and use in order to pen opinions and action items. Grey Printing, based in Cold Spring, fired up their printers and pre-printed stacks of postcards that can be individually purchased for $1.25 or 10 postcards for $10, which is basically the cost of printing the cards, says Kristy Carpenter, head of communications for Grey Printing. Hot off the presses and two days after the postcards came out, the postcards sold out. So Grey Printing printed more.

Two large orders of 500 came in from people in Beacon, and several regular Cold Spring customers have been walking to buy 10 at a time. For those who don't live in Cold Spring for a quick pickup, the postcards can shipped to your home for your own postcard-writing campaign, or postcard party involvement. Grey is even pre-printing addresses on cards ordered in bulk, so all one needs to do is write their message and put a stamp on it. One customer, Kristy says, ordered some to send to Paul Ryan's home in Wisconsin.

 Grey Printing sold out of these postcards two days after announcing that they were available. Photo Credit: Grey Printing

Grey Printing sold out of these postcards two days after announcing that they were available.
Photo Credit: Grey Printing

What Is Anyone Writing About?

To help avoid writer's block, the organizers turned it into a Challenge, giving authors of postcards an assignment:

  • Write a postcard to your senators about what matters to you most.
  • How you are going to back that up with actions on your end (even if that action is just writing the postcard, but one could get creative).

Not limited to women's-only issues, the WMW guides people to write in about issues that are important to them, such as immigration, civil liberties, worker's rights, environmental issues, etc.  Included in the call-to-action to write in postcards is a list to find your senators by zip code, making names and addresses easy.

Can Trumpians Write In?

Yeah, sure. So maybe you voted for Trump, and participating in The Women's March on Washington, or getting even a little moved by it, feels disloyal to your vote and issues that mattered to you in the ballot box. Just like with any administration, there may be issues you agree with that come out of these fast-moving executive orders that are being signed at the speed of a tweet, but there are some that may not.

For instance, maybe you are uncomfortable with Trump ordering the EPA's social media account to go dark (read more about the White House ordered EPA media blackout in this Fox News article) and not get out information. Maybe you don't like the EPA and disagree with a lot of their policies and want to see some regulations lifted. But silencing a department is something you'd read about China doing when they block areas of the Internet from their citizens in order to control information.

Maybe you wanted immigration reform, but you're not comfortable with people being stranded in airports who are no longer allowed into this country courtesy of a quick-draw executive order barring them. Maybe, like Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) who represents a community of Syrian people in Allentown, PA, six of those stranded people are your neighbors who had secured visas and had just bought a house, but were turned back from their flight from Qatar within hours of landing in Philadelphia. As quoted in this CNN article: "This is ridiculous,” said Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.). “I guess I understand what his intention is, but unfortunately the order appears to have been rushed through without full consideration. You know, there are many, many nuances of immigration policy that can be life or death for many innocent, vulnerable people around the world.”

That's why the model of democracy works both ways. You can support one thing, but not like another. To keep it balanced, the public servants need to hear from the people in order to push for directions a majority of the people are favoring.

You could print these postcards online and figure that out with your own home printer, or you can support a local printer and buy them, doing two deeds at once: supporting local neighbors in business, and participating in democracy. Win win!

Um, Wow. Thank You Highlands Current for Covering A Little Beacon Blog!

Alright, it's a little strange being on the other side of an article, but really appreciated! Thank you reporter Maria Ricaplto and editor Chip Rowe for writing about A Little Beacon Blog in last week's issue of the Highlands Current, with photos by Meredith Heuer! I read The Highlands Current every day at lunch when I unplug from digital, so to be within the pages is quite an honor.

Plus - check out the other blogs and websites that got highlighted! Beacon Bits is great for small captures of life and food in Beacon and big thoughts about living here. BeaconArts is a widely used resource for artists and businesses who are networking and promoting events, and Humans of Beacon, NY has been fascinating to watch.

I named this publication A Little Beacon Blog because I knew it would be one of many other blogs dedicated to this inspiring city. And now there are even Instagram accounts like Beacon Transplant dedicated solely to capturing visuals and emotions produced here.

Most people call this here publication BEACON BLOG (and I used to not know what they were referring to! I assumed they were talking about another one), but I call it A Little Beacon Blog. The words are smaller in the font up there in the logo, so you may have missed it. I'm honored to be part of the local media that brings awareness to things we need to know about.

Radio Woodstock Broadcasts Live from Beacon Thursday (and A Little Beacon Blog is in The Lineup!)

Radio Woodstock broadcasts from, well, Woodstock up in the Catskill Mountains, but they are coming down to Beacon to broadcast live from three different eateries on Thursday as part of their Road Tour of nine cities this summer: Bank Square, BAJA 328, and Max's on Main. The Radio Woodstock DJs have been interviewing business owners about the highlights of what is going on in each town. Set up in a format of 2 to 3 hourlong intervals of meet-and-greets, music will still be played throughout the day in between interviews.

You can listen to Radio Woodstock any time on the actual FM dial at 100.1 WDST or by clicking here to listen on the Internet. How modern!

As you're out and about, see if you notice the radio crew at any of these locations and times with the following organizations and businesses being interviewed. (We may update this list to include more, but this is the lineup information we received as of the publishing of this article):

7-9am Coffee at Bank Square Coffeehouse

  • Rob Rutigliano of the Rutigliano Group, Paris on the Hudson
  • Mayor Randy Casale
  • Megan Mattingly of Dia
  • Katy Behney of Bank Square Coffee House and Mountain Tops to talk about hiking and kayaking in Beacon

12-2pm BAJA 328 for Lunch

  • Shah of the Mobile Gas Station across from BAJA 328 to discuss the people of Beacon
  • Melaine Rottkamp of Dutchess Country Tourism to talk about Fireball Run coming to Beacon on September 28th. Fireball Run is an adventure-travel television series and live action adventurally® competition. It is the real story of 40 teams of adventurers, taking the road less traveled in an epic quest for America's most obscure and historic artifacts. Fireball Run supports the Missing Child Network. Every driving team is assigned a child missing from their home of origin, and they are provided 1,000 missing child flyers to distribute along the 2,000 mile journey. This campaign has aided in the recovery of 44 missing children.
  • Jeff McHugh of the Beacon Incline Railway Project to Bring it Back
  • Katie Hellmuth Martin of A Little Beacon Blog (hey, that's me!) on Beacon blogging

4-6pm at Max's on Main for the End of the Day

Rick Brownell, current president of the Beacon Chamber of Commerce and owner of Freedom Ford at 420 Fishkill Ave. learned of the opportunity while he was recording one of his frequent radio commercials to air on independently owned Radio Woodstock, a media outlet he is passionate about supporting. "Sometimes when I'm done recording a commercial, the DJs will say to me 'Hey Rick, come up on the air with me and tell everyone what is going on in Beacon.'” Rick made a point to connect more businesses with this opportunity by working through Beacon's Chamber of Commerce.

Radio Woodstock "is proud to be one of the remaining independently owned and locally operated radio stations in the country.  Billboard Magazine has named Radio Woodstock 100.1 'Best Station' many times." The station is owned by Gary Chetkof, founder of Mountain Jam. "They are pretty cool people, fun people," Rick says. "Many who work there have kids and live in the area, so their lives are invested in the area."

We at A Little Beacon Blog have been included in the initial lineup of interviews, and will be at BAJA 328 during the 12 to 2pm slot! being that we are used to writing very deliberately and can hit delete buttons to edit run-on sentences, we have begun practicing what amazing points we will try to hit about Beacon (if we make the cut to get on the air!).

Yay, Beacon, and yay, radio!

Having said that, we must go investigate the internet radio lab The Ground, which broadcasts different community shows from the old Beacon High School. Oh man, even the #ClubDraw group has a radio show about "interesting people drawing and listening to dope music" that is broadcast from Quinn's the first Tuesday of the month.

Off to investigate!