Lighting the Way: Beacon Brightens Up | Community Pages | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Lighting the Way: Beacon Brightens Up 

Last Updated: 08/13/2013 3:52 pm

Page 3 of 4

It is true that Beacon’s transformation is partially due to the fresh ideas brought in by Tillitt and his fellow urban transplants. However, changes in the town have long been catalyzed by a number of factors. Kelly Kingman, who also moved to Beacon recently from New York, is responsible for another new community-enhancing tool in town. She started the Beacon Citizens Network, a website similar to Facebook that lists information on upcoming Beacon events and provides users with the opportunity to create networking, social, and recreation groups online. Kingman says she decided to start the website out of her own desire to find out what was going on. “We always found out about things after they happened,” says Kingman of her experience with Beacon events in the past. “[The website] has evolved—it’s become a way for people to organize around common interests,” says Kingman. The Beacon Citizens Network currently has 350 members.

When asked why this specific type of communication hadn’t already been in place before Kingman arrived to Beacon, she said the introduction of the town’s networking site was not the result of an urban trend transported upstate, but instead came from an overall change in the world’s use of technology, specifically by younger people. “It’s more of an age or generational difference. We’re used to finding things online,” explains Kingman.

Tillitt’s and Kingman’s quests for community are what fits them snugly into the community of Beacon as a whole. Mayor Gold governs citizens who have volunteered as the town’s ambulance corps and firefighters for over 50 years. He believes that Beacon has long exemplified a tradition of community involvement, and the integration of passionate forward thinkers like Tillitt and Kingman meshes well with the intentions of the city’s older inhabitants.

“There’s almost a tradition in Beacon of communicating that to love the city means to be involved in improving the city, and that gets passed on from old Beaconites to new Beaconites,” Mayor Gold says. “And it’s almost indistinguishable, the degree of concern for the city between someone who was born here and lived here for 80 years to somebody who moved here eight months ago.”

Civic Inclination
Such civic devotion can be seen in Jim Bopp, a resident born and raised in Beacon, who feels the town has gained so many newcomers because of what it has always exuded. “There’s just a lot of good energy here and the people who are moving here are coming here because of that energy,” says Bopp, who believes the vibes of his hometown come straight from its grandiose, natural backdrop. “People need a suitable place of rendezvous with nature to recharge themselves,” says Bopp. “You can’t tell me you go on the top of Mount Beacon and you don’t feel different. I love Mount Beacon.”

He loves it so much, in fact, that he’s worked relentlessly for over 10 years to get Beacon’s incline railway reinstated. Bopp, who began his lifetime career in welding and engineering at a factory on East Main Street, was the last person to operate the railway before it shut down in 1978. With the help of upstate advocacy organization Scenic Hudson, his group, the Mount Beacon Incline Railway Society, has entered what he hopes are the final stages in securing the project’s planning. He has stumbled across and worked through numerous obstacles to get to this point. But he has persisted partially because of his love for his town’s history and partially because of his hope for its future. According to Bopp, a rebirth of the train is essential to Beacon’s financial success. “Tourism is the key for economic regrowth of the town,” affirms Bopp. On behalf of the Mount Beacon Incline Railway Society he currently leads hikes up Mount Beacon on weekends and has seen the amount of hikers skyrocket from a total of 50 people to 400. The society’s website, he says, gets hits from all over the world.

When asked about his experience in moving from Brooklyn to Beacon, Tillitt says that good food and better quality of life are two of the most important things Beacon offers. As new businesses and cultural happenings continue to pave a yellow brick road for the small city, it is clear that Beacon’s colorful track record is anything but over. A witness to several harrowing turning points in American history, Beacon continues to reinvent itself, thanks to the creativity of the people who live and flock here.

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