Historic Graveyard Tour returns at St. James’ Episcopal Church

It is 8 p.m. on a Friday evening and the weather is chilly at 40 degrees. The 200-year old graveyard at St. James’ fills up with an eager crowd holding lanterns. People of all ages attend, dressed in their winter gear. The tour is about to begin.

St. James’ Church in Hyde Park kicks off their 9th season with their annual Historic Graveyard Tour. Originally a run up for the bi-centennial church celebration in 2011, the tour has remained a popular event for many years. In fact, 200 people turned out for the first tour that the crowd had to be split into 3 groups.

The tour consists of approximately 8 actors stationed in different parts of the cemetery. Each of the actors plays characters who were buried at St. James’. Around half of the actors are parishioners, and half are not. Each year has non-coincidentally turned into a different theme for the tour. One year the theme was slavery, while another year the tour concentrated on disabilities.

The crowd follows the dark path of the graveyard, led by a host for the hour. Each actor tells their character’s background and major role in life. Some of the characters ranged from Red Cross personnel, soldiers, lieutenants and chefs to President Roosevelt.

The host for the evening, Russell Urban-Mead leads the crowd in an animated voice and takes the crowd to each stationed actor. Urban-Mead’s wife is the director of the tour this year. He sits in a church pew, before the start of the 8:00 tour and is enthusiastic for the evening. “It’s an exciting time for our parish where everyone comes together to work on the tour. There is a lot of history many do not even know about, just in front of our eyes in the 200-year old cemetery,” admits Urban-Mead.

This year, the focus was on those who were connected to the First World War. Chuck Kramer, The Revered, of 21 years at St. James’ made his debut appearance as an actor in this year’s tour. He played Ogden Livingston Mills, U.S Secretary of the Treasury during Herbert Hoover’s presidency.

Recounting the intention of the tour, the Reverend sits in his office, filled with books, sacred embellishments, and bright colors. “There are three goals of the tour. One is to entertain. One is to inform and one is to inspire,” said the Reverend.

Partakers of the St. James’ Historic Graveyard Tour can expect to be educated on major roles individuals played during World War I. It is a night to learn about the lives of the souls who rest in the church’s cemetery.

The Revered is proud of the impact the tour has left on people for the past 8 years as well as the light it sheds on history. “The tour makes people come alive in a way that tugs at the heart and has people thinking ‘wow.’ It engages both the funny bone and the heart,” said the Reverend.

The tour runs for 3 weeks in October on Friday and Saturday night’s starting at 7:00, 7:30 and 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $20 and proceeds go to the on-going ministry and outreach of the church.

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Educational Nonprofit for Students Struggles to Find Visibility

In a small New School auditorium in Union Square, the sound of pounding rain competed with the clacking of laptop keys. Max Robins, President and Executive Director of the Center for Communication, stepped up to the microphone, and students of every age tore their attention away from their screens to listen. 

Robins introduced himself, his esteemed panel, and the topic of that night’s discussion: Storytelling Through VR. Robins ended with the Center for Communication’s mission statement,  “We want to open the doors for the next generation of diverse media leaders” said Robins. 

Based in Brooklyn, New York, The Center for Communication is a nonprofit centered around providing free seminars for students during which they can listen to and meet influential leaders in the media community. The Center offers between 25 to 40 events per year, all free for students. 

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Storytelling Through VR event on Oct. 11

Prior to becoming the president of the Center for Communication, Robins worked as a journalist,  a childhood dream of his. “I wanted to write for great magazines and newspapers, but that world has shrunk now,” said Robins, “But, it’s ever-changing.” 

Marcelle Hopkins, Co-Director of Virtual Reality and Deputy Director of Video at The New York Times, was one of the panel members. She revealed to the student audience, “Every job I’ve had since graduating college didn’t exist when I was a student.” 

During the seminar Hopkins spoke to students about the importance of learning to tell a story. She claimed anyone can learn to use the technology necessary for virtual reality, but not everyone can tell a story well. “Events like these are important because they show students what’s out there for them, what they can do.” 

One problem the Center for Communication currently faces is outreach. Farrah Thomson, a student at The New School in Manhattan, saw a flyer for the event and decided to go. “This is my first time going to one of their events,” said Thomson, “but I want to attend more in the future. I’m surprised the organization isn’t promoted more.” 

One upcoming event Robins is particularly excited about is the Diversity and Media Career Summit on November 19. Based off the popular Women and Media Career Summit the Center has hosted for the past two years, the day-long event features keynote speakers, panels, and workshops. “We decided to create this because we have seen a growing need for diversity in media careers,” said Robins. 

Past seminar topics have included journalism, filmmaking, public relations, publishing, and First Amendment issues. “We want to break down barriers between students and the industry,” Robins commended, “We encourage people to be lifelong students.” 

Robins’ favorite thing about the Center’s panels is the wealth of knowledge displayed before him. “If I run a panel, not only am I learning from the speakers, but I’m learning from the questions our attendees ask,” explained Robins, “The students inspire me with their eagerness to learn.” 

In the future the Center for Communication hopes to offer events across the United States and, eventually, internationally. 

Historic Walkway Undergoes Renovations

The Walkway Over the Hudson has served as a popular attraction for both tourists and locals since its opening in 2009 as a State Historic Park. Today, the site is undergoing changes to ensure parkgoers have an even more positive experience.

The walkway’s nearly 600,000 visitors have been asked to pardon its appearance as construction on a Dutchess Welcome Center and a new elevator has begun.

Located near the parking lot, the 1,800-square-foot Dutchess Welcome Center is set to include amenities such as an outdoor patio, a dog-friendly water fountain, bike racks, and bathrooms, according to an article from The Poughkeepsie Journal. A new staircase will also be added to give visitors access to the walkway from Orchard Place.

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Images with the design of the new welcome center is posted on the fence outside of the construction site

The addition of a welcome center on the Dutchess side follows the unveiling of a similar center in Ulster County in June.

 

Many individuals, especially older visitors, have expressed a great deal of excitement towards the new bathrooms. Prior to construction, people could only utilize portable toilets set up near the parking lot.

Aside from bathrooms, visitors also expressed that they would like to see an additional concession stand providing snacks, light fare, and water incorporated into the welcome center.

“I just think overall it’s a good concept that they’re trying to provide better facilities for people because this is an attraction,” stated Matt Kravits, a Somers, NY resident.

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The new Dutchess Welcome Center is currently under construction and is set to open in the spring of 2019

Construction on the welcome center began in April, as stated by one of the walkway’s ambassadors, and is set to be completed by spring 2019 prior to the park’s 10th anniversary.

 

Currently, the welcome center appears to be in its initial phases of construction. Cinder block walls have been resurrected, and the structure is encased along with construction equipment by a chain-link fence. A sign posted on the fence provides visitors with images of the future site in addition to information on what to expect.

The materials and equipment being used for the construction site itself are being stored in areas that serve as parking spaces. Approximately 36 parking spaces, included those designated for handicapped individuals, seem to be taken up by the activity.

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Construction materials can be seen taking up several parking spaces

According to the walkway’s ambassadors, however, there have been no complaints concerning less parking spaces available. Additionally, the Walkway Over the Hudson is offering free parking in the lots due to the ongoing project.

 

In addition to the welcome center, the Walkway Over the Hudson will also debut an improved elevator system by the spring.

The new elevator will rely on an “encased energy chain upgrade,” which will replace the wireless-based communication system. The wireless-based system was discovered to be sensitive to the changing weather conditions of the region, as reported by the Mid Hudson Valley Patch. This energy chain system is anticipated to extend seasonal usage and improve reliability.

While construction on this project has not begun yet, the elevator remains closed to visitors until the construction is completed. Signs explaining the closure are posted at both the Dutchess and Ulster sides of the walkway along with a phone number to inquire about the elevator’s status.

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Signs warning of the elevator’s closure are located at both ends of the walkway

 

“I think they should definitely prioritize having the elevator accessible sooner than later,” shared Sue Kravits, a New York resident visiting with her husband, Matt. “I believe that it just opens it up to people that have disabilities and can’t access it another way, and that just would be a really goodwill sort of thing to do for the community and for those that want to use it.”

In regards to both the elevator and the welcome center, John Fila, another visitor from Greenwood Lake, NY, said, “I think anything they could do to make more parks and stuff more friendly for more people to enjoy, the better off [it] is.”

Poughkeepsie Gets Greek Culture

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Pictured: Member of the Kimisis Greek Orthodox Church preparing loukoumades

 

Located in the heart of Poughkeepsie, the Kimisis Greek Orthodox Church hosted it’s bi-annual Poughkeepsie Greek Festival.

This four day event held at the Hellenic Community Center attracted over 10,000 people. This festival is a celebration of the food, music, and the culture of the Hellenic people. The proceeds of the event went to the church’s programs.

 

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Pictured: Andrea Miller, long time member of Kimisis Greek Orthodox Church

 

Andrea Miller has been a member of the Kimisis Greek Orthodox Church for over 45 years and has been a part of the festival since its inception. “The fact that the Greek community comes together and we work for weeks ahead of time baking and cooking, it’s apart of our heritage,” stated Miller. “The fact that this event has been going on for over 40 years proves that it serves its purpose.

People attending this event feel like they are being immersed into another culture when they attend this festival. Many locals attend every year because to this, it is not an event that can be missed.

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Pictured: Millbrook students dancing to traditional Greek music

Although there was no live music and dancing featured at this event attendees danced together to the music the DJ played. This showed the camaraderie as members of the community learned how to dance to Greek music.

“I come every year, twice a year, and I have been for over 15 years. This is not an event that I can miss,” said Yolanda Harris, a Poughkeepsie native. “I like some of the music, I just like being out and seeing different people, different cultures, different races, and I also like to go into the shops that they have here to see what is different from my heritage,” said Harris.

To add to the overall authenticity of the event, the festival this weekend focused on the food.

John Giogakis, is the president of the Parish Council at Kimisis Greek Orthodox Church, and has been working at this event for four years. “People come for our Greek food, everything here is handmade, made to order, and people love the food,” Giogakis stated.

This focus proved to be successful as attendees raved about the quality of the food.

“It has really good food. The atmosphere is extremely inviting, I have been to other Greek festivals but this is by far the best one,” said Frank Davis, Boston native who came to Poughkeepsie just to attend the festival.

Among the food options were, gyros, greek fries, souvlakis, loukoumades, and other traditional Greek food.

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Pictured: Greek fries that were sold at the festival

“It was Greek, very Greek. The food is very similar to the types of foods that I eat at home,” said Cady Anderson, a high school student at Millbrook High School.

This unique event showcases the Greek culture to the local community. Every year it attracts more people and becomes more popular.

“Basically the purpose of this event is our Greek heritage, and giving it to Poughkeepsie. The fact that over 10,000 people have come in four days is truly amazing,” said Giogakis.

Marist Knocks Down the Wall

Poughkeepsie, NY- Immigrants at Marist and the subject of immigration is not something typically explored within the student body. On November 8, 2017, in the Henry Hudson Room on 3rd floor of Fontaine at Marist College, the presence of Dan Buzi, Dr. Maria Höen, Anish Kanoria, Ignacio Acevedo, and Renee T. Oni-Eseleh commanded the attention of the student, faculty filled audience.

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The Hudson Valley’s Fight for Documentation

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – Undocumented immigration has become one of the most prevalent societal issues in recent years. In the Hudson Valley specifically, there is a growing movement both to have open discussion about the issue and to take action to address it.

On Wednesday, Nov. 8, Marist College held a forum on refugees and immigrants in the Hudson Valley. The event was run by the Marist Center for Civic Engagement and Leadership. The panel of speakers consisted of activists as well as members of various organizations meant to help undocumented immigrants in the Hudson Valley. Most panel members were immigrants themselves and shared some very enlightening information on their own experiences with the process. The panel was clearly very passionate and showed that there is a clear will within the Hudson Valley to address the issue of undocumented immigration. Continue reading

Hudson River Housing Continues Commitment to Revitalizing Local Area

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — Nestled on Mill Street is an antiquated house with new purpose. Hudson River Housing, a local non-profit organization, resides here. This incorporation “improves lives and communities through housing with compassion and development with vision,” according to their website. With the group’s unwavering dedication to bettering the Poughkeepsie area and helping the community reach its full potential through not only housing but also programming, this organization does not receive a fraction of the recognition it deserves for the meaningful work it does.   Continue reading

Kingston Stockade Look to Implement Promotion and Relegation

The Kingston Stockade, a lower league soccer team based in Kingston, have been making waves in the world of soccer after writing a letter to the United States Soccer Federation regarding the implementation of promotion and relegation into the US Soccer pyramid. If the request is denied by US Soccer, owner and chairman Dennis Crowley says that he will file a lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation.

The United States of America’s soccer league system is one of the few in the world that do not use the system of promotion and relegation. The concept is simple. The worst three teams in the top division are dropped down a step on the league pyramid, and the best three teams from the league underneath on the pyramid. Take England for example. In the English Premier League last season, the three worst teams were Sunderland, Hull, and Middlesbrough. These three teams were sent down to the second division (Football League Championship) and replaced by the three best teams from the second division last year, in this case being Huddersfield, Brighton, and Newcastle. Every year, the Premier League has three new teams replacing the ones relegated the year before, while all other lower leagues have six new ones, as three teams are promoted to the league above and three are relegated to the league below in every other league.

Setting up promotion and relegation allows players to showcase their talents at a higher level. In the current setup in the United States, players can be stuck in the lower divisions for their entire careers, never getting the chance to play at a more elite level, and some truly talented players have fallen through the cracks. Others believe that promotion and relegation would allow more teams to get more money to pump into youth soccer academies, which would raise the future talent level in the USA. This would likely raise the credibility of U.S. soccer in the eyes of the rest of the world, which view the American National Team as underachievers after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Promotion and relegation also allows teams to participate at a higher level, giving them a better chance to make money. In every country, including the US, the top league gets the lion’s share of the revenue from ticket sales, media rights, and publicity. What Crowley argues is that the teams in Major League Soccer are using the league and its exclusivity as a form of monopoly over the market of soccer in the United States. He argues that promotion and relegation create more of a meritocracy, which is one of the fundamental aspects of capitalism. Most teams in the United States’ second division, the North American Soccer League, most likely wouldn’t beat the big guns in the MLS, but they might be. For instance, Leicester City was promoted to the English Premier League in 2014 after winning the second division. After a middle of the road 2014-15 season that saw them narrowly escape relegation, they would go on to win the league title at 5,000 to 1 odds in 2015-16. They were also able to build elite level youth training programs with the revenue that they brought in from the Premier League.

However, promotion and relegation in the United States doesn’t come without problems, and it has been met by critics both on and off the field. “I think promotion and relegation is a strong solution to bringing more attention to the game in this county, but I don’t think it’s the best solution to developing into a bigger soccer nation” said Ernest Mitchell, a defender on the Kingston Stockade last season.

One of the major problems of promoting smaller teams into bigger leagues is the problem with finances. While rich owners like Crowley can afford to move his team up to a higher league, many other teams cannot. “There are not enough teams, and there’s not enough money in US Soccer,” said Enzo Petrocelli, a midfielder who has spent time playing soccer in both the United States and Italy. Lower leagues on the soccer pyramid are broken up into regional conference so that the travel costs for the teams is kept to as low as possible. If a team from a regionalized league, like the Stockade, gets promoted to the NASL, which is a nationwide league, the team’s travel costs would increase exponentially. Rather than Kingston traveling by bus to close locations like Brooklyn or Portsmouth, N.H., they would instead be traveling cross-country to Phoenix and Las Vegas, which would require airfare. Not many teams would be able to afford that, especially in the first season in the new league.

Whether or not promotion and relegation should be implemented in the United States soccer leagues is one of the most hot-button issues in soccer. Supporters of promotion and relegation will often cite the Leicester City story, while detractors echo the sentiments of Petrocelli and Mitchell. Either way, a good majority of diehard fans of US soccer have a strong opinion on the matter.

Free College Paving New Path For Collegiate New Yorkers

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POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — The 36th president of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, was quoted in a 1963 speech at the University of Michigan as saying, “Poverty must not be a bar to learning, and learning should offer an escape from poverty.” Those words certainly held true for Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY). Cuomo has now put into place a play to make Johnson’s quote a reality in the State and City University of New York systems. Continue reading