Families

Wayne Alarm: Fire system up to code?

SAFETY TIP OF THE DAY

SPONSORED BY WAYNE ALARM AND HONEYWELL.

At Wayne Alarm, we always make sure our customers and clients are fully prepared in case of any emergency. And with warmer weather fast approaching, it is important to make sure your fire system is still reliable, inspected, tested and maintained. A quarterly check on your system can make a huge difference in your safety. So how can homeowners or business owners keep their systems updated? Follow these tips below:

  • Make sure Wayne Alarms fire system is up to date with its detection alarm. Without this feature, the system would fail to notify you if smoke appears or to dispatch the firefighters to save your home and evacuate your family.
  • Check your fire exits to make sure doors easily open and no objects are blocking the exits. It’s also important to ensure that it is properly marked and everyone will have no trouble finding it.
  • Make sure there are no flammable objects or substances in or near the exits. If so, it is best to store them away in the right place to prevent any fire.

On average, there are over 374,000 residential fires and over 2,000 deaths. Don’t let yourself become a statistic. These additional tips could make a huge difference to avoid any fire.

  • Smoking – If you smoke, make sure you do so in areas where it is not prohibited. Or if you smoke, make sure it is only fire-safe cigarettes. Since fires and deaths result from fires that have started in a living/family rooms, or bedrooms, it is better to smoke outside instead. Most importantly, keep lighters, matches and cigarettes out of reach of children.
  • Electrical – When using electrical kitchen appliances make sure they are put into a receptacle outlet one at a time, as the outlet can dangerously heat up.

Call us today to schedule for a free in-home consultation.

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www.waynealarm.com

Wayne Alarm: Fire system up to code?

SAFETY TIP OF THE DAY

SPONSORED BY WAYNE ALARM AND HONEYWELL.

At Wayne Alarm, we always make sure our customers and clients are fully prepared in case of any emergency. And with warmer weather fast approaching, it is important to make sure your fire system is still reliable, inspected, tested and maintained. A quarterly check on your system can make a huge difference in your safety. So how can homeowners or business owners keep their systems updated? Follow these tips below:

  • Make sure Wayne Alarms fire system is up to date with its detection alarm. Without this feature, the system would fail to notify you if smoke appears or to dispatch the firefighters to save your home and evacuate your family.
  • Check your fire exits to make sure doors easily open and no objects are blocking the exits. It’s also important to ensure that it is properly marked and everyone will have no trouble finding it.
  • Make sure there are no flammable objects or substances in or near the exits. If so, it is best to store them away in the right place to prevent any fire.

On average, there are over 374,000 residential fires and over 2,000 deaths. Don’t let yourself become a statistic. These additional tips could make a huge difference to avoid any fire.

  • Smoking – If you smoke, make sure you do so in areas where it is not prohibited. Or if you smoke, make sure it is only fire-safe cigarettes. Since fires and deaths result from fires that have started in a living/family rooms, or bedrooms, it is better to smoke outside instead. Most importantly, keep lighters, matches and cigarettes out of reach of children.
  • Electrical – When using electrical kitchen appliances make sure they are put into a receptacle outlet one at a time, as the outlet can dangerously heat up.

Call us today to schedule for a free in-home consultation.

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“Here yesterday… Here today…Here tomorrow.”

www.waynealarm.com

Wayne Alarm: Tips for a pet-friendly home

SAFETY TIP OF THE DAY

SPONSORED BY WAYNE ALARM AND HONEYWELL.

Our four-legged fur friends are not just pets, but a part of our families. Their safety is just as important as ours. Whether is making sure they get enough nutrition in their food or ensuring pavements are not too hot or cold to protect their paws, their safety is just as important. Follow along for some pet-friendly protocols to have in your homes for their safety:

  1. The best way to minimize damage is to create a space just for your furry friend. This helps acclimate and dog friendly near their bed can make a difference.
  2. Dogs enjoy hiding and running around and it can sometimes be too dangerous for them. The best way to prevent them from running out unsupervised is with deadbolts on doors, locks on windows and even baby gates on stairs. Cabinet doors should also maintain secure with latches, as it can cause your dog to get trapped in the cabinet.
  3. Get rid of dangerous items that they can reach and bite such as electrical cords by using cords protectors. Safely store detergents and other household cleaners in locked cabinets or high on a shelf. Be aware that trash cans can also be dangerous for their consumption, consider a closed-lid trash can instead. Prevent falls and kitchen fires by not allowing pets in the kitchen when cooking or when stove is on.
  4. Invest in a video surveillance security to keep track of what your dog does at home when you are not around. View live footage of your pets from work or anytime you are away from home, ensuring they are okay and not in any danger.
  5. It is common for pets to accidentally trigger home security motion detectors and cause false alarms. This is dangerous because an emergency personnel may not know if it is a real threat or if a pet triggered the alarm. The best way to prevent this is to ensure your system accommodates animals during the installation stage.

For additional safety information and security system installation, contact Wayne Alarm by calling us at: 781-595-0000 or visiting us online at www.waynealarm.com.

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“Here yesterday… Here today…Here tomorrow.”

www.waynealarm.com

Revere school stands tall against bullying

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
Boston Red Sox outfielder Brock Holt gives Rumney Marsh Academy School Adjustment Councilor Lisa Gendreau a high-five.

By MATT DEMIRS

REVERE — Students at Rumney Marsh Middle School have been on a mission to create a school without bullying.

Their hard work paid off on Friday when they received the “Boston Vs. Bullies 2017 School of the Year” award.

“There are few schools that stand out for their attitude where kids can safely learn,” said Rusty Sullivan, executive director of the Sports Museum, author of the Boston vs. Bullies program.

The effort is funded by the Highland Street Foundation, a Newton nonprofit whose mission it to help children and families, and New Balance, the Boston athletic footwear company.

After receiving the award, students were surprised by a visit from Boston Red Sox player Brock Holt.

The 28-year-old utility player took questions from students who wondered about the professional player’s life in Major League Baseball and growing up.

“Did you ever get bullied when you were young?” asked one student.

“I was bullied growing up,” Holt said. “But people in my high school stood up and it stopped.”

He told students about the importance of teamwork and having each other’s back, something Holt said is crucial to creating a positive climate.

Holt also talked of cyberbullying and the impact students can have if they work together.

Saugus eatery has family feuding

“You guys have the opportunity to change this world,” he said. “And it starts with being good to each other.”

Rumney Marsh students said their school is a positive place, where bullying is almost nonexistent or stopped in it’s tracks.

Hunter Jones, 13, said teachers don’t tolerate bullying.

“The climate we have here makes you feel safe,” he said. “It also creates an environment at the school which welcomes the students coming up from fifth grade.”

Seventh-grader Victor Pelatere, 13, said Lynn has offered programs to help students handle bullying ever since he was in elementary school.

“Schools feels really secure when you know you have teachers and friends to help you,” he said.

Students who have been bullied, like seventh-grader Taylor Walsh, found help talking with her teachers.

She was bullied by girls who were supposed to be her friends at the start of the school year, Walsh said.

While it didn’t make her feel good, Walsh found help in the teaching staff, she said.

“The teachers told me they weren’t worth it and not to feel like I needed to be their friends,” she said. “They explained to me that people will come to me and there are tons of students who will want to be my friends.”


Matt Demirs can be reached at mdemirs@itemlive.com

From first library card to director

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
Melissa Robinson is the new director of the Peabody Institute Library.

By ADAM SWIFT

PEABODY — On Monday, Melissa Robinson stepped into her new role as director of the Peabody Institute Library, a place she has loved for so long that her desire for a library card almost derailed her fourth birthday party.

“There’s a story that my mom always tells about how when I was three years old I could not wait to get a library card,” said Robinson, who grew up in Peabody. “You had to be four to get a library card. I would bug the staff about why you had to be four, and they said you had to be old enough to sign your name.”

Robinson learned to sign her name before the age of four, but to no avail as far as the library staff was concerned when it came to dishing out the valuable cards.

“Finally, the day before my fourth birthday, my mother went down to the library and said that unless they gave me a library card, I would be down the next day and not allow my birthday party to start until I got my card,” said Robinson.

Sneaking that library card in a day early was only the beginning of a long journey through the stacks. At 14, Robinson’s first job was as a page, in college she interned at the library, and since graduating from college, she’s spent her entire career working in Peabody’s libraries.

The majority of the 34-year-old’s time in the system was as the teen librarian at the main branch, followed by time as the senior branch librarian at the West Peabody Library. For the past three months Robinson has been the acting assistant director.

Nicholson seeks 2nd school committee term

Taking over for Martha Holden, who retired in March, is no small task.

“She really showed what an asset a library can be for the community,” said Robinson. “As a department head, I want to help continue that tradition of service to the community. I think a library should be the heart of a community and should inspire lifelong learning.”

As the new director, she said one of her first goals is to look at new ways to provide children’s services in the city’s three libraries.

“The way families use libraries is rapidly changing and we want to take a fresh look,” said Robinson. “We want to work with other community organizations to stay responsive to the needs of parents in Peabody.”

With a forward-thinking staff and strong support from the city, Robinson said she expects Peabody’s libraries to continue to thrive.

“I think our programming is what really sets us apart,” she said. “On any single day, there are six or seven programs going on at one of our three buildings.”

Robinson, who is married and has 18-month-old twin boys, currently lives in Hampton, N.H., which she said means that she listens to a lot of audiobooks. While she said it’s hard for her pick one book as her all-time favorite, her favorite book as a child was “Anne of Green Gables.”

Revere salutes Class of 2017

PHOTO BY ALENA KUZUB
The Class of 2017 proceeds to their seats during graduation.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

REVERE — More than 400 students moved their tassel from left to right Thursday night at Revere High School.

“What exactly makes Revere so special? The first word that comes to mind is grit,” said class president Gianni Hill. “In Revere, we do not give up even when times are difficult. We band together as a community when facing economic disparity, families separated by an ocean, and the negative stigma that comes with an urban school. We choose, however, not to be defined by these hardships.”

Students at Revere High have showed their resolve on the field and on the court, and by working harder than children in other districts may have had to, she said.

Many students “were leaving school to rush over to a part-time job to help support our families,” she said.

The class participated in beach cleanups and raised money for Steps 4 Cancer, a local nonprofit that benefits Revere families affected by cancer, two years in a row.

“You are all nothing short of incredible human beings,” she said.

KIPP charters a course for graduates

Hayley Petrozzelli, the class salutatorian, said she became obsessed with finishing high school at the top of the class and the goal began to take over her life. She advised her fellow graduates not to fall into the same grind.

“I remember one time in advisory, I was furiously reading my World History textbook cramming for a test, and one of my good friends asked ‘Hayley, are you breathing?’” said Petrozzelli. “She brought to my attention that I was almost panting, harshly breathing out words and turning red.

“Graduates, when you are on a college campus, a job site, or any setting that demands something from you, take time to breathe and take advantage of all you can do,” she said. “Take a second to look at the world instead of letting it pass you by.”

Petrozzelli will attend Emmanuel College in the fall.

Valedictorian Samantha Rosa, who will study English at Northeastern University, praised her classmates for their accomplishments.

“Today is the culmination of our tireless pursuits,” said Rosa. “Our midnight cramming sessions, our late night games, and our never ending shifts. We entered as over 400 people with distinct backgrounds and unique experiences, when we scurried into the doors of Revere High School four years ago, clammy and terrified — or maybe that was just me — but we get to leave matured, with our perspectives broadened.”


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

Nicholson seeks 2nd school committee term

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Cindy Rodriguez and Jianna DeFranzo chat with Jared Nicholson after he announced his bid for a second term.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — Jared Nicholson, a member of the School Committee, is running for a second two-year term, and officially kicked off his campaign on Wednesday.

Nicholson, 31, an attorney, laid out his reasons for running for reelection to a crowd of supporters and other elected officials at Rincon Macorisano.

“I plan to raise a family here and I want to send my future kids to great public schools, and I want to be a part of the effort to make sure that our city has great public schools to offer,” he said.

Nicholson said he believes in the potential Lynn has, and in order “for us to reach that potential, we need to make sure that all of our kids reach their potential,” which has to take place in the public schools. He said that would be achieved by getting the kids in schools now the skills they need to thrive, and attracting and retaining families who have a lot to contribute and are looking at the schools and deciding where they want to live.

Barking up the right tree

Nicholson said the district needs to continue to find more opportunities for kids to find their passion after school, highlighting its achievements with the wrestling program at Thurgood Marshall Middle School, the early college program with North Shore Community College, and important programs in IT and healthcare added at Lynn Vocational Technical Institute.

Some challenges the district faces, he said, include the dropout rate (listed as 4.9 percent for all grades in the 2015-2016 Massachusetts Department of Education report), sorting out the budget, and finding the space needed for schools.

Including Nicholson, 13 people have taken out papers to run for school committee, including incumbents, Donna Coppola, John Ford, and Lorraine Gately, and challengers, Jordan Avery, Cherish Casey, Brian Castellanos, Gayle Hearns-Rogers, Sandra Lopez, Natasha Megie-Maddrey, Jessica Murphy, Michael Satterwhite, and Stanley Wotring Jr.

Long-time incumbents, Maria Carrasco and Patricia Capano, vice-chair, are not seeking re-election.


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

 

A sneak peek at Aspire

COURTESY PHOTO
Touring the building, from left, are David Solimine Sr., Solimine Funeral Homes; capital campaign committee member Diane Edgett; Aspire Assistant Program Director Christine Brown; board members Mary Louise Daly and Marianne Britton; Tom Demakes, Old Neighborhood Foods; campaign member Debby Regan and Nick Meninno of Meninno Construction; and Aspire Executive Director Lori Russell.

LYNN — Lori Russell, executive director of Aspire Developmental Services, offered a sneak peek to board members, committee members, and donors of progress inside their new headquarters on Franklin Street. The building will open in September.

When the renovation of the former O’Keefe Alternative School is finished, the nonprofit will have 15,000 square feet of space, triple its home on Johnson Street.

The new building will allow Aspire to provide twice as many play groups for children receiving early intervention services, and space for parent training, according to a previous Item report.

Aspire has been serving children with developmental needs and their families since 1951. Last year, the organization provided services to nearly 2,000 children.

Its mission is to provide early intervention services to children up to age 3. Children served are eligible for a variety of reasons, including Down syndrome, autism, hearing and vision loss, speech and motor delays, and mental health issues.

Ribbon cutting to be held for Bucchiere Park

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

SAUGUS — Children and families will join town officials for a ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate the grand opening of Bucchiere Park Thursday night.

The park, known commonly as Bristow Street Park, was renovated with funding from Town Meeting in 2016. The Bristow Street playground is one of three public parks that have seen major improvement projects since last summer, when the town broke ground at the Veterans Park outside the Veterans Memorial Elementary School on Hurd Avenue. Overall, the park improvement projects cost the town $2 million.

Lynn caterer serves up language lessons

The playground has a large, handicap-accessible play area with swings, slides, and a see-saw. The existing field has been irrigated and now includes a 10-foot tall, 30-foot long lacrosse wall and a tee-ball field has been rehabilitated with a new infield, backstop, bleachers, and players’ benches. There is a new basketball court, bathroom, storage shed, and concession stand.

A track surrounds the area and a series of workout stations are on site. The HealthBeat Outdoor Fitness Systems, which are for ages 13 and older, use the latest exercise methodologies to provide a tailored workout for teens and adults, according to Town Manager Scott Crabtree. The park has a squat press, chest and back press, parallel bars, assisted row and push up station, and an ab crunch and leg lift station.

The park has LED lights and security cameras will soon be added to increase safety and security. The park has 15 parking spots.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

Classical grads chart new course

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
The family of graduate Ruben Ruiz lend their very enthusiastic support.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN In his commencement address to Lynn Classical High School graduates Friday, Boston Globe sports columnist Christopher Gasper said the start of a news story is not unlike the student’s start on their new life.

“I’ve written thousands of stories, but they all start the same way: with a blinking cursor and a blank screen,” said the 1997 Classical graduate. “That moment is exhilarating and terrifying…it’s a moment where anything is possible, but nothing is certain…As graduates, you face that same moment right now…your story is waiting to be written.”

Principal Gene Constantino praised the 349 graduates for almost always doing the right thing. Aside from Senior Skip Day, he said, the class has been very cooperative.

“You lead by example, by making good decisions, for the most part,” he said. “You never failed to help your fellow classmates or others when needed.”  

He encouraged graduates to find a career they love.

“That’s the key to happiness, find a vocation you enjoy and embrace that job,” he said. “I found that happiness, I love my job, find yours.”     

Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham said more than 60 percent of employment opportunities are tied to a high school diploma.

“High school graduates are more likely to be employed, be financially secure, and have their children be at least as well educated, if not more. ”

She encouraged the 2017 class to keep an open mind as they make their way to the next phase of their lives.

“Take chances, continue to educate yourselves, pepper your professional and personal lives with acts of kindness, they are never forgotten,” Latham said. “Surround yourself with positive and encouraging people, it’s infectious.”

Plane route protest takes off in Nahant

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy said she was wearing two hats on this graduation day.

“The first is that of mayor and on behalf of the city of Lynn we offer our sincere congratulations to the parents and graduates,” she said. “The other hat I’m wearing is that of a Ram who graduated in 1980. I welcome you into the proud and close family of Lynn Classical alumni.”

Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) invoked the name of President John F. Kennedy who would have celebrated his 100th birthday in May.

“In his inaugural address he talked about passing the torch to a new generation of leaders,” he said. “As you leave here today, you are becoming leaders as part of your future. President Kennedy said one person can make a difference and every person should try.”

Calvin Cheung, Classical’s salutatorian, thanked his family for their support and gave a shout out to his mother.

“Your love and endless support has always kept my spirits up whenever they are low and your kind and inspiring words brought light into moments where I felt disappointed,” he said.

Cheung, who was a member of the winning Northeast Conference Boys Tennis Team, quoted Mark Twain.

“The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why,” he said. “Today, could be day number two.”

Valedictorian Emily Lao, soon to be a biochemistry major, said graduates should be very proud of their accomplishments.

“We did it,” she said. “We finally made it.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

Marblehead resident pledges $5M to NSMC

COURTESY PHOTO
From left, Dr. David Torchiana, CEO of Partners HealthCare, Dr. David Roberts, president of NSMC, Arthur Epstein and Brian McCarthy, members of the NSMC Board of Trustees, celebrate Epstein’s historic gift to NSMC.

MARBLEHEAD – Longtime resident Arthur J. Epstein has pledged $5 million to the North Shore Medical Center (NSMC), the largest donation in the hospital’s 144-year history.

The gift will be used to build a behavioral health center at the Salem campus. NSMC will name the new facility in Epstein’s honor when it opens in the fall of 2019.

“Many families face mental health or addiction issues and they often struggle to find high-quality care,” said Epstein in a statement. “I’m proud to support the Center’s efforts to address this dire need in our health care system. I’m grateful that North Shore families will have a place to go where they are assured their loved ones will receive excellent care.”

Now a  Brookline resident, Epstein lived with his family in Marblehead for more than 50 years. He made his first major gift to the Center in 2002, followed in 2007 by a $1 million donation to support the Massachusetts General Hospital/North Shore Center for Outpatient Care in Danvers.

Having a ball in Swampscott

Last fall, NSMC broke ground on a $207 million complex to consolidate medical, surgical, behavioral health and emergency care on one campus in Salem. As part of this project, NSMC is converting the former Spaulding Hospital North Shore into a 90-bed behavioral health facility. It will be aligned with Massachusetts General Hospital and add two dozen beds to the region for psychiatry and behavioral health. It is designed to integrate addiction treatment with inpatient and outpatient psychiatry, mental health services and further development of community-based programs.

Epstein is an entrepreneur and investor who began his career with Midas Muffler in 1965, eventually holding 30 New England locations. A partner in the real estate firm Cres Development, Epstein was also a member of numerous corporate boards, including Malden Trust Co., now Eastern Bank, and Portland Glass. He has served on NSMC’s Board of Trustees since 2006.

Epstein is a supporter of many nonprofit organizations, including Boston Children’s Hospital, The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, Massachusetts General Hospital, Combined Jewish Philanthropies and Congregation Shirat Hayam in Swampscott. Earlier this year, he pledged $5 million to Cohen Hillel Academy, a K-8 Jewish independent school in Marblehead. In recognition of this gift, the largest in the school’s 62-year history, the school will be renamed the Arthur J. Epstein School next year.

 

First-graders salute Memorial Day heroes

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
First-grade students from the Aborn Elementary School perform at the Bethany Congregational Church.

By MATT DEMIRS

LYNN — First graders at Aborn Elementary School put on a patriotic show in honor of Memorial Day at the Bethany Congregational Church on Thursday.

Donna Amico and JoAnn Sweeney’s Grade 1 classes dressed in their red, white, and blue and performed the 20th annual show in front of parents and faculty.

Teachers and parents cried tears of joy as they watched the children sing “God Bless the USA.”

Amico enjoys producing the show annually with her classes and Sweeney. She hopes they will remember all they learn for the years to come.

“We want the children to understand why we celebrate the different holidays and traditions throughout the year,” said Amico, who has taught at Aborn for 20 years.

Between singing the classics like “Yankee Doodle” and “This Land is Your Land,” students learned about our country, the national landmark, the flag’s history and the national symbols.

Justin Stackpole, a first grader, said he learned a lot of about his country he didn’t know prior to the show.

“I never knew the first Thanksgiving was in Massachusetts until we started practicing the show,” he said.

Warren rides the Blue Line into Lynn

Ava Howard, another first grader, said she learned the meaning of the different symbols by practicing the show.

“I now know about things like the bald eagle and the Statue of Liberty which are both some of our country’s symbols for freedom,” Howard said.

Students said not only how fun the show was and how much they learned, but how helpful their teachers were in putting the patriotic show together.

Nicolas Morgan credited his teachers for their hard work.

“They’re really helpful,” he said. “On a scale of 1-10, they are a 5 million.”

Like many other students, Morgan said he enjoyed having the support from his family in the crowd and knowing they were having fun.

“My favorite part of the show was singing ‘God Bless the U.S.A.,’” he said. “It made all the parents happy and it put a smile on my face.”

For Superintendent Dr. Catherine C. Latham, the show was a breather from the stresses of the job.

“If things get tough, it’s always nice to come down here and watch something like this,” she said.   


Matt Demirs can be reached at mdemirs@itemlive.com

Ehrlich: Tax credit will earn income for state

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

BOSTON — State Rep. Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead) believes a budget recommendation she co-sponsored for Fiscal Year 2018 will benefit working families and domestic abuse survivors.

The bill draws on legislation filed by Ehrlich and Rep. Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge), making nonresidents of the state ineligible to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit.

According to the Department of Revenue, there are more than 20,000 nonresidents who earn income tax in the state and claim the state EITC each year. With the former federal match rate of 15 percent, these claims have been estimated to cost more than $6.5 million in revenue each fiscal year. At the new match rate of 23 percent, the cost would be about $10 million in revenue each year, according to House Ways and Means estimates.

“This credit is a scarce state resource available to assist struggling working families, so it makes little sense that we are allowing people who do not live in Massachusetts to claim the credit,” Ehrlich said in a statement.

The changes also clarify eligibility for taxpayers who live in Massachusetts for part of the year and expands access to the survivors of domestic abuse by allowing them to claim the credit while filing their taxes as “married, filing separately.” In the past, an individual could not claim the EITC unless taxes were filed jointly with a spouse.

Wheelabrator Saugus being taken to court

By supporting the changes, Ehrlich said the state takes the lead by enabling victims of domestic violence, who courageously flee their batterers.

The proposed budget also included a $150,000 allocation for Self Esteem Boston, a nonprofit that supports Lynn-based Project Cope, an organization that helps women in transition through homelessness or recovery from substance abuse.

The amendment was previously filed by former Rep. Gloria Fox but filed by Ehrlich in this session.

Self Esteem Boston provides essential psychological counseling and training for women in recovery from substance abuse problems.

During budget deliberations last month, the House of Representatives approved an amendment made by Ehrlich to dedicate $50,000 of the $40 million budget to clean up the odorous Pilayella algae on King’s Beach and Long Beach in Lynn.

Ehrlich called the funding crucial for combating the algae and its odor, which is a quality of life issue.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

Wheelabrator Saugus being taken to court

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Wheelabrator Saugus is pictured in this file photo.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

SAUGUS — Conservation Law Foundation is taking Wheelabrator Saugus, Inc., to court for failure to monitor and track water quality in the area surrounding the company’s ash landfill.

In a letter dated Monday, May 22, staff attorney Heather Murray wrote on behalf of the foundation that it intends to file suit against Wheelabrator in federal court. Monitoring the water quality is required by the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Murray wrote.

“The Saugus ash landfill sits at the heart of a thriving community, yet landfills of this type are infamous for releasing lead, mercury, and other cancer-causing chemicals in our air and water,” said CLF attorney Kirstie Pecci in a statement.

Wheelabrator’s approximately 140-acre site is located at the confluence of the Saugus River and Pines River and within the boundaries of the Rumney Marshes Area of Critical Environmental concern.

Peter Kendrigan, general manager of Wheelabrator Saugus, said the company complies with state and federal regulations.

Lynn woman asks ‘When is enough enough?’

“The assertions by CLF are false, demonstrate a lack of understanding of the regulations, and appear to be designed only to interfere with Wheelabrator Technologies’ application with the state Department of Environmental Protection to continue operating the monofill,” he said in a statement.

The CLF notice states that because the landfill was originally used for solid waste, soil acidification has likely already taken place and could continue to take place, increasing the risk for leaching. It adds that the landfill is the only unlined landfill in the state and that its coastal location makes it “extremely vulnerable to climate change impacts such as sea level rise and damaging storm surge.”

“Despite this significant hazard, the landfill has operated for decades without monitoring its impact or creating an adequate barrier from the families and businesses that call Saugus home. It’s time for Wheelabrator to answer for its years of neglect and finally commit to water quality monitoring as the law requires and the community demands.”

“Wheelabrator is an environmental services company that processes post-recycled solid waste from eastern Massachusetts municipalities and businesses into clean, renewable energy,” said Kendrigan in a statement. “Protecting public health and the environment is our highest priority and we operate in a manner that is protective of the environment. We are in full compliance with stringent state and federal air, water, and solid waste regulation, and our operating permits have been maintained and renewed without excepting in Saugus.”

A copy of CLF’s notice is available at www.clf.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/2017-05-22-FINAL-Wheelabrator-Saugus-Notice-Letter.pdf


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

I am the best person for the job, McGee says

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
State Sen. Thomas McGee stands with his brother, Shawn, and former babysitter Mae DeLuca.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — State Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) launched his bid for mayor Friday night before more than 300 enthusiastic supporters at the Knights of Columbus.

“My name is Tom McGee and tonight I proudly kick off my campaign for mayor of Lynn,” he said. “I am running because I love our city and the values the city of Lynn represents.”

The 61-year-old senator will face incumbent Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, a Republican, who kicked off her campaign for a third term last month.

Consider the progress we’ve made, Kennedy says

McGee’s daughter, Katherine, 19, introduced her father.

“He never missed a softball game, a dance recital, a golf match or a swim meet and I know if I really needed him he would jump in his car and make the six-hour drive to Villanova,” she said. “One of the things I admire most about my dad is his love for Lynn. He has lived here his whole life and always showed Thomas and me all the wonderful qualities Lynn has. I don’t think it’s possible for his heart to hold more love for this city.”

McGee was elected to Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1994 to represent West Lynn and Nahant. After four terms, he won a seat in the Senate in 2002 in a district that includes Lynn, Lynnfield, Marblehead, Nahant, Saugus and Swampscott.

Lynn teacher joins the march

Michael O’Connor, a Lynn firefighter for 22 years, said he is a strong McGee backer.

“He’s been a lifelong friend,” he said.  “I think he’ll move the city in the right direction.”

Janet Dolan, a Nahant resident, said McGee has always represented the district, including Nahant, very well.

“He’s very visible, very open to help, if anyone is in difficulty I think he’s very reliable,” she said.

David Condon, chairman of the Massachusetts Motorcycle Association, said his group has been a longtime supporter of McGee.

“We’ve had a very good working relationship over the years and he will make a difference as mayor of Lynn,” he said.

McGee said this is a critical time for the city as it faces an enormous budget challenge.

“Our city is at a crossroads and the next four years will be critical in determining Lynn’s future,” he said. “Under current leadership, our city is faced with an emerging fiscal crisis that threatens public safety and erodes people’s confidence in Lynn’s ability to manage its own affairs and jeopardizes our potential for attracting new families and businesses. We need to harness all that Lynn has to offer.”

McGee said he’s the right person for the job.

“I believe I am the best person to lead our city at such a critical time,” he said. “I ask you to join me in working for the betterment of this city.”

In the race for cash, McGee is way ahead. In the most recent filing with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign Finance. McGee reported a balance of $69,170 while Kennedy had less than $13,000.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

McGee: Every morning I’ll wake up determined

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Maria McGee listens to her husband, state Sen. Thomas M. McGee, speak as he signs his papers March 27.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN — State Sen. Thomas M. McGee (D-Lynn) will kick off his campaign for mayor from 6-9 p.m. Friday at the Knights of Columbus on Lynnfield Street.

“I will be a mayor who works hard, always listens, and wakes up every morning determined to create a better future for all Lynners,” McGee said in a statement.

McGee announced he would run for the position about two months ago. A lifelong Lynn resident, he has represented the Third Essex District in the Massachusetts State Senate since 2002. The district encompasses Lynn, Lynnfield, Marblehead, Nahant, Saugus and Swampscott.

“Lynn is on the cusp of something big,” McGee said in a statement. “We have always had the assets: talented, hardworking, diverse citizens; amazing natural resources like the woods and the waterfront; a downtown that’s coming alive with the arts and culture; neighborhoods that reflect the best of America. This race is about who can best bring our city together and realize our incredible potential at this pivotal moment in Lynn’s history.”

I think I can make a difference, McGee says

McGee is running against Republican Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, who kicked off her campaign for a third term last month at the Porthole Restaurant. Kennedy was elected mayor in 2009 when she beat Mayor Edward “Chip” Clancy by 27 votes. In 2013, she beat Timothy Phelan by a 59 to 41 margin.

As senate chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation, McGee has been an advocate for improving the state’s transportation system and fighting for regional equality. He also advocates for quality education and extended learning opportunities for children, ensuring accessible and affordable childcare and health care for working families, and expanding workforce training and development.

Before his election to the senate, McGee served four terms in the Massachusetts House of Representatives representing West Lynn and Nahant. Prior to holding office, he practiced law as an assistant district attorney for Essex County. He was elected to the Democratic State Committee in 1976 and served as chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party for three years from 2013 to 2016.

RAW project lets students head HOME

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
The Lynnway was the site of the second night in which snapshots and video footage from Cambodia, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala were displayed.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN — The work of student filmmakers from RAW Art Work’s Real to Reel Film School was on full display on the Lynnway Tuesday night.

In a project called HOME, Cyntheara Tham, Tony Peguero, Nadia Healey, Marylys Merida, Rajaiah Jones, and Daymian Meija traveled to countries of their respective families’ origin last year, said Chris Gaines, artistic director of Real to Reel. They each created a personal film about their experiences framed in the concept of home.

One student visited Cambodia for the first time. Her parents, both 100 percent Cambodian, fled the country during the Cambodian Civil War, said Gaines. Not only did they leave behind the life they knew, but they lost contact with many relatives.

“She had family there that she had never met,” he said. “We took her there to meet her family and connect with her roots.”

Another student visited Guatemala, while the rest traveled to the Dominican Republic.

Snapshots and video footage from the three countries and from Lynn were displayed for four hours Monday and Tuesday.

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“If you’re Dominican and you’re driving down the street and you see shots of streets and storefronts in your hometown, it’s kind of sweet,” said Gaines. “It’s a way to say thanks to all the people who have chosen to make Lynn home and to the people who call Lynn home. But it’s also like a portal — what if you could stand in your street and look to the other side of the world.”

On Monday night, images were projected onto the face of the Lynn City Hall building. Tonight they will be projected onto the flatiron building at 23 Central St.

The project also plays on the idea that home isn’t always just one location.

“RAW is an art therapy organization,” Gaines said. “We have to recognize that home doesn’t always have a positive connotation. We decided we wanted to take a year and talk about home. The question of ‘where is home’ is such a deep, important question, especially right now with this political climate. Lynn has a huge population of immigrants.”

The screening will move to RAW’s gallery on Thursday, where it will be included as part of the opening reception for HOME, the organization’s newest exhibit of more than 200 art pieces created by youths of all ages. The exhibit is largely supported by a grant from Adobe. RAW was one of seven organizations in the world to receive  the Creative Catalyst designation.

The exhibit will open at 6 p.m. and viewing is free to the public. Gaines also encourages each passerby to honk, wave, stop to appreciate the work, and show their love for the city of Lynn.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

NSMC, nonprofit join to help overdose victims

LYNN A local nonprofit is teaming with North Shore Medical Center to provide recovery coaches for every person treated for an overdose in Union Hospital’s emergency room.

Bridgewell, a Peabody-based nonprofit with extensive experience in providing treatment and housing for people recovering from substance use disorders, now offers 24/7 emergency response services by trained recovery coaches. All recovery coaches have personally overcome their own addictions and can relate firsthand to those struggling after an overdose, according to a press release from North Shore Medical Center. NSMC, which operates emergency rooms in Salem and Lynn, is the largest medical provider on the North Shore.

“We know from our experience that individuals with substance use disorders respond to recovery coaches who understand their experience and can provide unconditional support and guidance,” said Mark Kennard, director of community services at Bridgewell.

As a society, Kennard said we can no longer enable overdose victims to simply walk out of the emergency room without any support.

“We feel fortunate to partner with Bridgewell in this challenging work, and believe that the experience and dedication of the coaches will enhance the lives of our patients in ways that complement the expertise and efforts of our Emergency Department staff,” said Jane Clarke, R.N. and executive director of emergency services at NSMC.

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The recovery coach program at NSMC began in late March and has already assisted more than 20 people and their family members, including some who entered recovery programs as a direct result of this intervention in the emergency room. According to police records, a total of 439 opioid-related overdoses occurred in Lynn last year, an increase from 349 in 2015.

As part of this program, Bridgewell has hired six recovery coaches who are available to NSMC Union Hospital staff to call as soon as an overdose case appears at the hospital.

Once contacted by NSMC, the coaches come to the hospital right away to establish a relationship with the overdose patient and begin discussions about options for treatment. All recovery coaches have completed a newly implemented state certification and training process.

While initially available only in Lynn, the hope is to expand the recovery coach program to Salem Hospital later this year.

Push for 2nd charter school renewed in Lynn

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Frank DeVito still has to raise about $250,000 for the school to launch.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — The prospect of the city’s second charter school gained traction this week thanks to funding from some big name donors.

While the Equity Lab Charter School has yet to receive state approval, the proposed alternative school received a $215,000 grant from the NewSchools Venture Fund. The California-based foundation boasts a group of wealthy benefactors, including Bill and Melinda Gates, known for Microsoft Corp., and Facebook’s Mark and Chan Zuckerberg, who vowed to fund educators who launch innovative public schools.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Frank DeVito, the school’s founder. “The money will make a huge difference in making this a full time effort, and help pay for staff and consultants to get the school up and running next year.”

The 5-12 school, which would start with 160 fifth and sixth graders, will eventually have 640 students. So far, there’s a waiting list of more than 150 families, DeVito said.

DeVito is a member of Waltham-based Education Development Center’s National Center on Scaling Up Effective Schools team, where he develops, implements and tests new ways to boost effective practices in high schools.

Last year, DeVito and his 22-member team of local educators was one of 50 finalists to win $10 million toward opening the new school in the XQ: Super School Project. Emerson Collective, chaired by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs, sponsored the $50 million competition.

While DeVito and Equity were chosen among 700 teams from 45 states that submitted applications for new or redesigned high schools, the Lynn proposal lost.

But that hasn’t slowed DeVito. He said the NewSchools cash revitalized the effort to bring another charter school to the city.

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DeVito, a 52-year-old Lynn homeowner and father of two, said he is focused on finding space for the school. He has looked at the former St. Michael’s Church, school and rectory on Summer Street, but can’t ink a deal until his school receives approval from the state Department of Education (DOE). A decision is expected to be made in February. If he gets the green light, the school is expected to open in the fall of 2018.

If his proposal for a new school is accepted by the state, they will provide $800 per student or $128,000 to lease or purchase space. In addition, they would receive $2.1 million from the state or $13,223 per student who switch from the Lynn Public Schools to the charter.

DeVito, a former teacher at Chelsea High School, said he would still have to raise about $250,000 for the school to launch.

“The state really wants the school to open in Lynn,” he said. “They have been very supportive and have offered coaching in order for us to succeed.”

If it does get the go-ahead from DOE, there will be no welcome mat from the city.

While Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy and the City Council have sparred over a number of issues this year, they are united in their fight against any new charter schools. They argue such schools take much needed cash from the public schools.

While proponents insist charter schools are public schools, Lynn’s elected officials say they don’t like the formula for funding because it takes more than $1 million from the regular school budget.

If Equity Lab wins approval, they will face competition from the only other charter school in the city, KIPP Academy.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

Local reps vow to fight cuts to vets

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
“There are uncertain times,” state Rep. Daniel Cahill (D-Lynn) said.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — As the Trump administration cuts health and transportation programs to local veterans, the region’s elected officials said they are ready to combat the White House.

“This came out of nowhere,” said Dennis Magnasco, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton’s veterans liaison. “We plan to fight it.”

In a recent email from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to adult day health care providers, the memo said the budget for these services has been exceeded this year and services must be trimmed.  

At the annual legislative event at the Pondview Lodge, lawmakers stressed the importance of adult day health services.

Elders are provided transportation, a hot meal, therapeutic activities, nursing care and a chance to socialize with friends.

“It’s much more cost effective than having to go to a nursing home,” said Frank Romano, president of the Essex Group Management Corp., the Rowley-based firm whose family business provides elder care. “No one wants to go to a nursing home.”

Adult day care costs an average of $25,000 annually compared to nearly $86,000 for nursing home care, according to the National Adult Day Services Association.

Providing for elders is essential given that 10,000 people turn 65 daily in the U.S, Romano said.  

State Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) said the service provides needed relief for families. He noted that lawmakers are working on the state budget services for elders and adult day care.

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State Rep. Daniel Cahill (D-Lynn) noted that lawmakers everywhere are facing tough choices.

“These are uncertain times,” he said. “But in Massachusetts we seem to be staying the course in making wise investments in our elders and hopefully our partners in the federal government will see this is money wisely spent.”

State Rep. Donald Wong (R-Saugus) said his mother is 89 and his siblings take turns caring for her.

“Seniors are the invisible people,” he said. “But we must have the insight to assist them. They looked after us and now it’s our turn to look after them.”

State Rep. Brendan Crighton said his grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s, but at the time his family didn’t look to the option of adult day help.

“Having that support system would have made it a lot easier,” he said.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy said the city’s senior center has been able to add a part-time social worker that has made a difference.

“My 85-year-old mother lives alone in the house where I grew up,” she said. “She gave up her license to drive a few weeks ago. I was happy she did that on her own, so I didn’t have to have that talk with her. She recognized there was something wrong when I pointed out she missed a red light. The services offered here are of great benefit to elders.”

Ward 1 Councilor Wayne Lozzi said he has spoken to families that have benefited from the adult day program.

“We need to work with our legislators to see these good programs continue,” he said.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

       

 

Fighting Santoros getting squared away

COURTESY PHOTO
Seven of the eight Santoro brothers, from top, left, are Charlie, Paul, Leo and John; from bottom, left, are Harry, Tom and Joe.

By STEVE FREKER

MEDFORD — They were “The Fighting Santoros” and the name fit the family well.

When America joined the fighting in World War II after the Pearl Harbor bombing, many joined the call to defend our country, but this Medford family went far above and beyond in showing their patriotism.

No less than eight Santoro brothers fought for their country at the same time in World War II, seven of them serving overseas at once.

The last surviving brother Rosario “Charlie” Santoro, 90, who is a lifelong Medford resident, got quite a thrill last weekend when he and number of other New England residents, all World War II veterans, were transported at no cost to Washington, D.C. by Honor Flight New England for a day-long tribute.

The trip included visits to the various military memorials in Washington.

“I never shook so many people’s hands in one day in my life,” Santoro said, “It was great to see so many other veterans, too. They treated us great.”

Large families were in no short supply in mid-20th century America and the Santoros tipped the scale and then some with one of the biggest “rosters” in city history, 17 children in all. Ten brothers and seven sisters, the children of Eugene and Concetta Santoro grew up on Wheeler Street in South Medford, most of them born just after the turn of the century.

Rosario Santoro served in the Navy, joining the military in 1945, the last year of the war. He was one of the seven “Fighting Santoros” serving overseas. His duties included hauling troops and supplies to various islands in the Philippines, and then evacuating Australian prisoners of war from Japan at the close of the war in August 1945.

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Santoro’s brothers included Jim, Joe, Leo, Paul, John, Tom, Harry,  The Santoro family kept a meticulous history of the eight “Fighting Santoros,” with Laura Jane Lucas the latest historian. She is the daughter of Mary Santoro Meano, the third eldest daughter of the 17 Santoro children.  

Still sharp as a tack when it comes to family history himself,  Charlie Santoro can rattle off all of his brothers’ ranks, military service ranks and the years and places they served, a mini-verbal history book.

The only Fighting Santoro brother who served stateside in World War II was Giacomo “James” Santoro, who  was a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary from 1944-45 and was assigned to guard the oil supply tanks in East Boston.

Another brother, Paolo “Paul” Santoro was honored with the Purple Heart when he was wounded in action by a hand grenade while helping another soldier to safety, Paul recovered quickly and returned to the war, like a true Fighting Santoro.

“We were all very proud of (Paul). I’m proud of all my brothers who served,” Charlie Santoro said.

The city of Medford is also proud of the Fighting Santoro clan. On Veterans Day in 2011, former Mayor Michael J. McGlynn led a citywide ceremony where four street corners were named after Medford families whose family included multiple members who served in World War II. The corner of Main and Wheeler streets was named “Santoro Brothers Corner” in their honor.

According to Medford Veterans Services director Ernest Lindsay, some 10,514 Medford residents served World War II, or about 17 percent of its 63,083 population in 1940, one of the highest rates in the state for one community. The names of all who served, including the 224 residents killed in action, are listed on a World War II memorial on Winthrop Street near the entrance of Medford High School.

Walmart helps local pantry fight hunger

ITEM PHOTO BY ADAM SWIFT
Charles Rukwaro, executive director of Good Hope, Inc., and Christopher Buchanan, public affairs director for Walmart, kick off the “Fight Hunger. Spark Change” campaign.

By ADAM SWIFT

LYNNFIELD — The closing of several food banks in Lynn over the past two years has increased the need to help hungry local families.

The Good Hope food pantry, in the basement of the Calvary Christian Church, has picked up much of that slack, seeing about a dozen new families registering for its services every week. The strain had started to show for the pantry, which hands out nearly 28,000 pounds of food per week, but that’s when Walmart and the Greater Boston Food Bank stepped in with several grants to help pay for some major upgrades.

“Our goal is to always serve people in need and not ever send anyone away,” said Charles Rukwaro, executive director of Good Hope, Inc. “But our space is limited.”

Thanks to a $16,400 grant from the Walmart Foundation, combined with an $8,800 grant from the Greater Boston Food Bank, Good Hope was able to make some needed upgrades to help make the most of its pantry space.

Two new industrial refrigerators, two industrial freezers, 12 stainless steel shelving units, a pallet jack, two U-boats, and six stainless steel tables have greatly expanded the pantry’s ability to store perishable food.

“It’s made our work easier to serve more families and for us not to feel overwhelmed,” said Kristin Klopotoski, Good Hope’s program director for the food pantry.

Thursday, volunteers from Walmart were on hand at Good Hope to help distribute food and to kick off the retail giant’s “Fight Hunger. Spark Change” campaign in Eastern Massachusetts.

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“We’re very active in the community and we give to organizations in the Boston area, New England, and the world,” said Christopher Buchanan, public affairs director for Walmart. “This is a nice one today because it is for a hunger relief organization. This is a good event to be a part of and to get the word out about Fight Hunger. Spark Change.”

Good Hope board member Michael Satterwhite noted that the expanded capacity of the food pantry helps the nonprofit achieve its goal of helping more people in Lynnfield, Lynn, and across the North Shore.

“I’m very excited about the possibility of helping more people,” said Satterwhite. “We are in a position to expand and we want to be a part of the community and work together to help.”

Rukwaro said the food pantry is only one aspect of how Good Hope helps those in need locally and across the globe.

A 5K in Lynnfield on Saturday, June 3 will raise funds for the Digging Deep for Africa program.

“With the proceeds from the last three races, we have funded the digging of five wells in three countries in Africa,” said Rukwaro.

Other Good Hope programs include providing eyeglasses for those in need in Africa and Central America and paying for summer camp opportunities for children of local prison inmates.

 

Spring cleaning in Nahant

COURTESY PHOTO
Volunteers will sign in and be given gloves, plastic bags and other supplies.  

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

NAHANT — Volunteers will meet at the Life Saving Station on Sunday to clean nearby beaches.

Vi Patek, president of Nahant Safer Waters in Massachusetts (SWIM), a nonprofit organization that works to protect the waters around Nahant from pollution, said entire families typically come out to lend a hand in the project.

This year, the focus will be on Short Beach and Black Rock Beach, more commonly known as Doggy Beach because it’s the only stretch of sand where man’s best friend can run free. Patek said Tudor Beach will also be tackled by residents who live nearby.

Two years ago, about 300 people filled enough paper bags with garbage to require 10 Department of Public Works truck loads.

The Nahant Beaches Cleanup Day has become a vital exercise in keeping Nahant clean and free of trash, she said.

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Prior to 2006 when the Nahant Women’s Club decided a major cleanup was necessary, there hadn’t been a major effort in 15 to 20 years, said Patek. Then-vice-president Linda Jenkins contracted divers who found fire hydrants, scooters, lobster pots, large logs, old Christmas trees, and even bikes in the Wharf area.

The most eye-opening discoveries were more than 25 tires pulled from the water and a boat with an engine attached which had sunk across from Dunkin’ Donuts, Patek said.

Cleanups in the following two years were sponsored by the town and coordinated by the Women’s Club. After going five years without a beach clean up, a community group called 01908 took on the task. It was passed on to SWIM in 2015.

The beach cleanup is part of the town’s obligation to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Patek said.

Volunteers can park in the lot beside the softball fields at lowland park. The lot can be accessed off of Ward Road. Handicap parking is available at the Life Saving Station on Nahant Road. Volunteers will sign in and be given gloves, plastic bags and other supplies.  

The event will run from noon to 2:30 p.m.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

What should Brooksby Farm name its lamb?

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK 
Mama and her baby lamb wander around the pen. Vote on the lamb’s name in our poll, below. 

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

PEABODY — A baby lamb, who surprised farmers at Brooksby Farm with his arrival on the first day of spring, needs a name.

The lamb, all black in color, arrived unexpectedly on March 20, weighing 2 pounds, 10 ounces.

Assistant farm manager Michelle Melanson said Brooksby took in three brown sheep from a local farm. Much to the farmworkers’ surprise, one was pregnant and gave birth to the farm’s first male lamb.

“Unless you count the chickens, we haven’t had any newborns in a long time,” said Melanson.

He joins a family of two emu, three goats, seven sheep, a peacock, chickens, turkeys, quail, pheasants, a guinea hen, a miniature donkey named Lola, and two alpacas named Lally and Bon Jovi.

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The farm’s staff is hoping Brooksby fans might help choose a name for the newest addition. The decision has been narrowed down to the top three contenders: Shadow, Merlin, and Macintosh.

But what’s in a name?

Shadow, considered to be of English origin, means — well — shadow. As you watch the now 25-pound jet black animal graze its pen close by to his mother’s side, you have to admit it seems fitting.

Merlin, of Welsh origin and used in mythology, means “by the sea.” It was the name of a fifth-century sorcerer and mentor of King Arthur. An interesting choice, nonetheless, it’s Melanson’s favorite.

As you arrive on the city-owned property, surrounded by apple trees, the root of the third option becomes clear. For decades, in the farm’s most popular season, families have arrived by packed station-wagons to pick the crisp, vivid red fruit from the trees.

About 200 people have already voiced their opinion on Brooksby Farm’s Facebook page.  

Tell us the best name for the new lamb.

View Results

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Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemilve.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

La Vida scholars earn acceptance

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Jose Perez reacts as Allison Zacarias pops confetti for the La Vida Scholars.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — High school seniors from the La Vida Scholars officially announced their college choices on Monday.

The annual announcement is known as senior signing day, when students in La Vida Scholars make the final commitment to their schools.

“This is a very happy, satisfying day,” said Dave Zagunis, executive director of La Vida Scholars.

The 17 seniors in the program committed to schools such as the University of Southern California, Hamilton College, Clark University, Salem State University and Endicott College, according to Zagunis.

“Our mission is to help high achieving, low income Lynn students get into the best colleges possible,” Zagunis said.

To do that, Zagunis said the after-school prep program for students from grades 10 to 12 works on both acceptances and scholarships. He said La Vida doesn’t give out scholarships, but helps students search for them.

The average scholar, after obtaining scholarships, financial aid and grants, pays about 10 percent for their college, with some not responsible for paying anything at all, Zagunis said. More than $12 million in scholarships, grants and awards have been received by the 98 students who have graduated from La Vida.

Zagunis said most students in La Vida are first-generation college students, and many are from immigrant families. Their parents may not be familiar with the college process, which can be overwhelming.

Parents are educated through the program and students are exposed to all of the top schools in the region, so they aren’t applying to a school that “under matches” them, or doesn’t match their abilities, Zagunis said.

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Evelyn Deleon, 19, a senior at Lynn English High School, said she was born in the United States, but lived in Guatemala for 10 years. She received a full scholarship to Clark University, where she will study aesthetics of architecture, with plans to minor in psychology.

Before receiving the full scholarship, her application had been denied for other ones she had applied to. She said the thing she worried about most for college was financial aid. She lives with her sister, and Deleon said she didn’t want to put her sister or herself in a difficult situation.

“It’s like a big weight lifted off my shoulders,” Deleon said.

Korintha Tongo, 18, a senior at Lynn Classical High School, received a full scholarship to UMass-Boston, where she will study nursing. She said she was born here and her family is from Nigeria.

Tongo said she felt the scholarship showed how hard she worked over four years of high school, and gave her the money to succeed in college.

“It hasn’t hit me yet, but I am excited to go to college and see what happens there,” she said.

Ismael Aquino, 17, also a Classical High School senior, received a full tuition scholarship, and will attend Hamilton College, where he plans to study biology.

He is a first generation college student, and said his plans for school are exciting because he knows that his family didn’t have the same opportunities. He said his family always gets emotional with everything that he has accomplished.

Aquino said he was shocked to receive the Posse scholarship because he thought other candidates seemed more qualified. He was nervous, but once he got it, he said he was so excited. He said it means that his family won’t have to worry about the finances, and that college wouldn’t be a burden for them.

He said he was excited to go off to college to be independent and for the many things he gets to do in the future.

“I just want to tackle it all,” Aquino said.


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

 

Some say trash; others see treasure

ITEM PHOTO BY DAVID WILSON 
Witch City Consignment & Thrift is located at 301 Essex St. in Salem.

By DAVID WILSON

SALEM — Witch City Consignment & Thrift sells anything. Well —

“Almost anything — that we can sell that’s legal,” Jenn Bayles, 39, says with a laugh Wednesday, an hour before opening the 11-year-old shop she owns with her father, Joe.

Take a right; pass displays of designer sneakers, bags, small antiques and collectibles. Then, a left to follow a passage of cabinets and tabletops to one side; artwork and frames on the other.

Above, a hanging banner says, “Ask us about our next auction.”

Jenn Bayles

This piece was purchased for $3,900.

The shop’s most recent auction was April 3. Bayles said it was the first in about a year and drew more than 100 people. The next one should be in a few months, she said.

One notable piece of merchandise from the April 3 auction came out of a Marblehead estate. A small piece of pottery — “literally a tile,” Bayles said — fetched $3,900.

The piece is small; Bayles said about the size of a hot plate. “In the antiques world, pottery is a big thing,” she said. Supposedly this was a rare one.

Bayles said she thinks the color of the piece made it special. On the backside of the tile, she remembers a marking of a ship with lines going through it.

Sounds about right. Marblehead Pottery “bears a signature of a square rigged sailing ship flanked by the letters M and P,” information on marbleheadpottery.net says.

“The very earliest marks were hand-drawn or painted,” the website says. “Some early pieces had Marblehead written beneath the ship. Other early pieces were simply marked with only the ship.” It appears the pottery was made between 1904 and 1936.

This piece, Bayles said, came from a home clean-out in Marblehead. It was in the attic, wrapped in newspaper. At auction, four or five bidders went at it, she said. But at the end, it was down to two.

“Everyone keeps talking about it,” she said Wednesday. “Because the (successful bidder) said that it could be worth $10,000-20,000.”

The underbidder, Bayles said, afterward told her father he wished he had gone higher.

The piece was sold with seemingly similar items; some only selling for $20-35, Nayles said. “If I had put that (Marblehead Pottery) up for $20, someone just hit the jackpot,” she said.

Bayles gets stories like that all the time. She said a customer once bought a record for a dollar; he told her he would sell it for $100 on eBay. But that’s OK with Bayles: it means he will come back, she said.

Toward the center of the shop are wicker baskets filled with what appears to be unrelated, black-and-white family photos; or what Bayles affectionately calls “instant families.”

David Wilson

A sampling of the “instant families.”

Sold for $1, these photos are a mix: some posed portraits; one, a photo dated 1956 of a woman smiling in a intricate, white gown; presumably a wedding dress.

Another, dated 1946, shows a young girl lifted off the ground by a man; perhaps her father. She could be well into her 70s now.

These photos are not only some of the shop’s best sellers, but have a story. And sometimes the customers do the legwork.

“One person, years ago, bought a picture, researched it, found the family and sent it to them,” Bayles said.

The family’s reaction, she said: “Oh my god, I was at a thrift store!”

Other items that often draw interest are old license plates, magazines, newspapers and records.

There’s something for everybody, Bayles said. Some merchandise flies out the door; other pieces stay for a while.

“I love doing this,” she said, surrounded by items. “A lot of people think it’s easy, but it’s not.”

Witch City Consignment is located at 301 Essex St. in Salem. Visit www.witchcityconsignment.com or follow Witch City Consignment & Thrift on Facebook for information on merchandise and upcoming auctions.


David Wilson can be reached at dwilson@itemlive.com.

 

Child-abuse scars not always visible

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN  —  Michael Satterwhite was never physically abused by his mother, but he still bears the scars from his childhood.

“Child abuse is not always visible,” he said. “My mother never laid a hand on me, but she was one of the biggest drug dealers in Lynn and was a user as well. I didn’t get hit, but I was put in positions a child should never be in.”

Satterwhite spoke Wednesday at the Lynn Community Connections Coalition’s (LCCC) 16th annual Child Abuse Prevention Community Breakfast. The nonprofit’s mission is to strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect.

In 2014, the most recent data available, Massachusetts reported the highest rate of abused and neglected children in the nation. There were 31,863 victimized children in the Bay State, or 23 victims per 1,000 children statewide, making it the highest per capita rate in the country, according to  the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Nationally, 702,208 children were reported to have been abused and neglected during 2014, or 9 victims per 1,000 children, less than half the Massachusetts rate, the report said. The rise in cases has been spurred by the opioid epidemic and human trafficking, experts say.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy welcomed the four dozen attendees by quoting David Pelzer, author, activist and a survivor of childhood abuse.

“Childhood should be carefree, playing in the sun; not living in the darkness of the soul,” she said. “It’s up to all of us to break away the clouds and bring that sunshine to the children of Lynn.”

Bellavance has a plan

Kate MacDougall, who heads the Family Crimes Unit of the Essex County District Attorney’s Office, said she is grateful for the programs offered in the county that offer hope to families.

“Thank you for the work you do,” she said.

State Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) praised LCCC for its efforts to end child abuse. He said the challenges faced in different neighborhoods are bringing the community together. “Child abuse starts with parents who haven’t had a shot, who are struggling to put food on the table, with substance abuse, with finding a job or getting an education,” he said. “We have to recognize that parents are really struggling to make ends meet, particularly in communities like Lynn.”

Daniel Richards, a member of LCCC’s Father’s Nurturing Program and a Colombian native, said he was born to a single mother who put him up for adoption.

“That one decision changed my life forever,” he said.

He was adopted by French Canadian Irish parents in Lynn and lived near two Colombian families who taught him about his culture.

Choking back tears, Richards said he struggled with his identity as a child.

“Being from a different country was tough growing up and I started to feel lost,” he said. “But having those Colombian families nearby showed me life was better in the U.S. I started to realize I was in this country for a purpose.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

Family Engagement Fair at Marshall Middle

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN — On Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Lynn Public Schools will host a free Family Engagement Fair at Marshall Middle School on Brookline Street.

“The goal is to provide encouragement to our families and this important work that they do as parents,” said Tina Hoofnagle, family and community engagement program specialist. “In the past, we’ve had a lot of emphasis on family involvement having parents come in and learn  but family engagement is more trying to work so that families and the schools work together to support the children’s education.”

“This comes from a desire and a dream of (Superintendent) Dr. (Catherine) Latham to think in terms of the Lynn Public Schools hosting a parent university,” she said. “But we don’t have the capacity to do that at this point.”

2 incumbents out in Swampscott

The event is designed to support and encourage parents of elementary-aged students in their parenting role. It will begin with a pancake breakfast and a greeting from Latham.

The program will include several workshops including yoga and relaxation classes, an informational class about keeping children smart on social media, athletic opportunities for Lynn children, how to raise a reader, information about pediatric asthma and prevention, a couponing course, how to shop healthy and save money, and how to protect your child from substance abuse.

Parents will hear from motivational speakers who focus on strengthening partnerships between schools and families.

The event is free to parents of elementary-aged students. Free childcare will be available with activities including yoga, the Northeastern Marine touch tank, and viewing a display from the Friends of Lynn & Nahant Beach.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

North Shore Community Promise: free tuition

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
North Shore Community College will offer a “free college” pilot program starting in the fall.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN North Shore Community College is launching a program that will help students who don’t qualify for full financial aid go to school for free.

The school is seeking 100 new, full-time students to apply for the North Shore Promise Award pilot program, which will launch in the Fall 2017 semester. The initiative offers free college to prospective students who are being priced out of higher education because they are not poor enough to qualify for full federal and state grant aid but also can’t pay out of pocket.

NSCC will be the first community college in the Northeast to offer a self-funded free college program.

“Commonwealth residents are opting out of pursuing post-secondary education and training as the sticker shock of a college degree and pervasive stories of crippling student debt have many questioning the return on college investment,” NSCC President Patricia A. Gentile said in a statement. “This is especially true for lower and middle income families who are rapidly being priced out of the college-going market. And this is especially bad news for area employers competing for skilled and credentialed workers.”

Gentile said years of analyzing the school’s enrollment led to the realization that there are a significant amount of potential students who, despite the relative affordability of community college, fall into the gap of not believing they can afford an education. Annual tuition and fees for a full-time student total $6,060.

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“With a booming economy, these folks are choosing employment but we know that without post-secondary qualifications they are at great risk for unemployment or lack of advancement potential when the economy declines,” Gentile said. “NSCC is committed to making college affordable for even more students to achieve the life-long dream of a college degree with less student debt.”

Applications are being accepted at the school on a first-come, first-serve basis for the first 100 qualified students. Interested potential students need to apply for the award and be accepted by May 1.

To be eligible for the award, potential students must:

  • Enroll as a new student with at least 15 credits in an eligible Commonwealth commitment pathway or an eligible NSCC program for the Fall 2017 semester
  • Be a Massachusetts resident
  • Have a high school GPA of 2.3 or higher
  • File a 2017-18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) prior to May 1
  • Be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant
  • Be willing to complete a degree at NSCC in two-and-a-half years or five continuous semesters
  • Meet NSCC’s Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements throughout enrollment

Gentile said the school anticipates that most of those who will take advantage of the program will be first-generation college goers who likely come from more disadvantaged North Shore neighborhoods.

“These are the folks who are having the most difficulty affording the cost of a college degree, yet they compose the largest untapped pool of underdeveloped talent for those future high and middle skilled jobs,” Gentile said.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

 

What’s next for Revere carnival after shooting?

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

REVERE Following a shooting Sunday night in the parking lot of Showcase Cinema where the 30th annual Fiesta Shows Revere Carnival was being held, Mayor Brian M. Arrigo is questioning whether it’s a good idea to bring the festival back.

“The investigation into this is ongoing,” Arrigo said in a statement. “We are currently evaluating the situation and will determine whether an event like the carnival can take place in Revere moving forward. As always, the safety of our residents is my first priority.

“Thank you to the first responders from Revere and surrounding communities who rushed to the scene, and thank you to the guests at the carnival and those at the movie theater for their patience and cooperation during a hectic and confusing situation.”

Police responded to a report of shots fired at about 8:40 p.m. No victims have been reported but three vehicles were damaged, according to Police Lt. Amy O’Hara. There was a report that a suspect may have fled into the cinema, which was evacuated.

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Since police have not determined whether the shooter was visiting the cinema or the carnival, City Councilors Anthony Zambuto and Arthur Guinasso said they weren’t comfortable commenting on what the shooting meant for the future of the carnival.

“I’m not certain if it’s attributed to the carnival or to Showcase Cinema,” said Guinasso. “There was obviously some incident of gun play and that’s completely unacceptable, no matter what. Once the police department makes a determination about the cause, we can pass judgement.”

E.J. Dean, vice president of operations of Dean & Flynn, Inc., also called Fiesta Shows, said he was deeply saddened by the incident.

“For generations, we have prided ourselves in creating a family-friendly environment and the safety of our guests is our top priority,” Dean said in a statement. “We maintain a large police and fire presence on site as part of our normal security procedures to ensure that our patrons are safe at all times.

“We are pleased that none of our guests or employees were injured in this incident, which took place outside the confines of our carnival event, but we are nonetheless providing any assistance we can to the Revere Police and Showcase Theaters regarding this matter. We feel bad for the good citizens and families of Revere that were enjoying their time at the carnival when this occurred.”


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

Swampscott set to strut its stuff

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
Glenn Kessler, organizer for Swampscott’s Got Talent, practices the song “Cinnamon Girl” by Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SWAMPSCOTT — Swampscott will be showing off its talent next month.

The fifth annual “Swampscott’s Got Talent” show will be Sunday, May 7 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Swampscott High School. Tickets are $7 at the door. The show is open to all ages, and expands beyond Swampscott residents to include those who work in or for the town, but who might live elsewhere.  

Tryouts are May 1 and 2 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the high school. A dress rehearsal will be Friday, May 5 at 6:30 p.m.

“I think it’s a great community event,” said Swampscott resident Glenn Kessler, who organizes the talent show. “There’s a lot of emphasis in town on sports and that’s understandable. But I think there’s a lot of talent that we have here that people don’t know about.”

Some of the proceeds from the show, including ticket and food sales, and donations from local businesses, will be benefit the Class of 2018, and Media Arts and Media Literacy.

Kessler, who has been organizing the show by himself for the past two years, said half of the proceeds will go toward the Gary Sinise Foundation, a nonprofit which benefits veterans, first responders, their families and those in need. Sinise is an actor who played Lt. Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump, among other movie and television roles.

“We’re fortunate enough to live in a beautiful town like this,” said Kessler, 64. “But most of us haven’t had to deal with having to go to war or having to put their lives on the line as first responders … By giving back to an organization like this that helps people that have protected us and defend us, I think that’s something that the town and the kids in the class can all be very proud of.”

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Kessler, who also performs in the show with his band, Gerry and the Atrics, said the event usually raises $2,000 to $2,500. He’s hoping that with the addition of the Gary Sinise Foundation as a beneficiary, more organizations will want to donate more.

Kessler said the show started as an idea from the Recreation Commission, when he was a member. The event was run by the commission for two years, and was continued by Kessler and David Van Dam, a selectman at the time, before Van Dam dropped out.

Kessler’s daughter, 16-year-old Mallory Kessler, a junior at the high school, co-produces the show and also serves as stage manager.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Mallory Kessler said. “It actually raises a lot of money for charity and for our class.”

There are usually 20 to 22 acts in the show, which are mostly dancers, singers and musicians. In the past, acts have ranged from a young girl who sang a song from the Disney movie, Frozen, to senior citizens line dancing, Kessler said. He said the goal is for people’s faces to hurt from smiling so much.

“We do live in a small town and there’s just a lot of hidden talent out there, and you never know,” Kessler said. “From year to year, it’s always different.”


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

Aspire building project hits halfway point

PHOTO BY PAUL HALLORAN
Construction of the new headquarters for Aspire Developmental Services is expected to be completed later this year.

By PAUL HALLORAN

LYNN — Aspire Developmental Services is halfway to completing its $4.3 million headquarters on Franklin Street.

When the renovation of the former O’Keefe Alternative School is finished, the nonprofit will have 15,000 square feet of space, triple its home on Johnson Street. The new building will allow Aspire to provide twice as many play groups for children receiving early intervention services, and space for parent training.

Aspire purchased an adjacent lot last year for $141,000 which will be used for parking, and an expanded playground, according to executive director Lori Russell. She said the three child care classrooms will have direct access to the playground.

“We’re hoping to have it completed by late summer and to be in the building by early fall,” Russell said.

Landmark Structures Corp. of Woburn is the general contractor and Benjamin Joyce serves as project manager.

“They have been excellent to work with,” she said.

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The project received a huge boost last summer when the organization won a $1 million grant from the Community Economic Development Assistance Corp. (CEDAC), the Boston-based community development finance agency that assists nonprofits, in partnership with the Children’s Investment Fund, a CEDAC affiliate.

Aspire is in the midst of a $2 million capital campaign for the building project, having raised about $1.3 million so far.

“Our fundraising is ongoing,” Russell said. “We appreciate the support of everyone who has gotten behind this project.”

Aspire has been serving children with developmental needs and their families since 1951. Last year, the organization provided services to nearly 2,000 children.

Its mission is to provide early intervention services to children up to the age of three. Children served are eligible for a variety of reasons, including Down syndrome, autism, hearing and vision loss, speech and motor delays, and mental health issues.

 

Lynn school uniforms an ongoing conversation

By LEAH DEARBORN

LYNN — The school committee will continue a discussion this April regarding the implementation of uniforms in city schools.

Jared C. Nicholson, chair of the Ad Hoc Uniform Policy Sub-Committee, said a vote on the adoption of a uniform policy has been postponed from this Thursday due to the conflicting schedules of the two pilot school principals.

The schools that have agreed to pilot a uniform policy are the Aborn and Callahan elementary schools. At a school committee meeting in March, Aborn principal Patricia Muxie said a recent survey was conducted at the school with pro-uniform results.

Seventy-one percent of parents who returned surveys were in favor of bringing on school uniforms, she said.

“For our school, there is a definite interest there,” said Muxie.

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Principal Brian Fay of Callahan Elementary who was at the meeting, said a survey at Callahan yielded similarly pro-uniform results.

Muxie said she prefers the concept of an appeal process if a family doesn’t want to participate in the uniform policy. She suggested that the school could focus on providing positive incentive for classrooms with high participation numbers instead of disciplining students who attend without a uniform.

“We want to make it voluntary to some degree,” agreed Fay, who said trousers known as chinos may be encouraged in the future.

Muxie said the school could begin with a uniform shirt and give students an option of pants or a skirt.

Committee members raised the idea of offering some form of financial assistance for students if a policy is adopted, and of recycling uniforms from graduating students.  

“I think people are really going to care about the particulars,” said Nicholson.


Leah Dearborn can be reached at ldearborn@itemlive.com.

Marblehead schools budget for the future

By LEAH DEARBORN

MARBLEHEAD The 2018 fiscal year budget for the Marblehead Public Schools saw a 5.1 percent increase from last year.

At a public hearing Thursday in the L.H. Coffin Elementary School , Superintendent Maryann Perry said most of the additional cost came from contractual increases across all grades.

Textbook and curriculum renewal is a priority, said Perry, as well as continuing to update technology accessible to students and teachers.

She said additional interpretation services were contracted over the past year as the student base in town continues to diversify.

“We want to make sure every child and their family feels welcome here in Marblehead schools,” said Perry.

She said a separate $115,000 was granted by the town finance committee to supplement recent federal cuts to Title I program funding. Title I focuses on narrowing the education gap for at-risk learners.

The hearing was part of the regular School Committee meeting.

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Before the budget hearing, the future of the Elbridge Gerry School was discussed. Committee member David Harris said this week kicks off the hiring process for an owner’s project manager to direct the feasibility phase of consolidating the Gerry and Coffin schools.

He said the committee is analyzing an alternate possibility of combining the Gerry, Coffin and Malcom L. Bell schools that would support 450 students, a course Harris described as a means of preparing for the future growth.

The Gerry School Building Committee entered the 270-day eligibility period with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) in March and was given the green light to move forward to the next phase of gathering information.

“They’re right there with you from start to finish,” said Harris about the project manager position.

He said whomever is hired will work hand-in-hand with the building committee and architect in a process the MSBA estimates will take an average of 18-24 months.

The feasibility study is estimated to cost up to $750,000, according to the Marblehead Public Schools website. The MSBA will reimburse the town approximately 32 percent of the study cost.

The first of the public project manager interviews is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. tonight at Marblehead High School. The remaining two will take place on Monday, and a final recommendation will be brought before the committee on April 6.


Leah Dearborn can be reached at ldearborn@itemlive.com.

Malden reflective of Community N’ Unity

By STEVE FREKER

MALDEN — The city has evolved into one of the most diverse in Massachusetts over the past 15 years and has made major strides toward community unity and inclusion. But there’s still work to be done, according to a Boston-based consulting group’s report.

Working with Strategy Matters of Boston, city and public school officials brought together residents for a series of meetings titled, Community ‘N Unity. Strategy Matters of Boston helped the city coordinate the meetings and released a report on its findings.

At the meetings, residents told stories of their personal experiences and those of their families and friends living in Malden, which led to the report.  

The city is already addressing one key finding of the report: Increasing racial and cultural awareness among municipal employees. The city Human Resources Department has plans for cultural competency and awareness training for all city employees.

“The best part of the whole process is that everyone has the same goal: Bring Malden closer and keep everyone working to make our entire community a welcoming and vibrant one for all of our residents,” said Malden City Councilor at large Debbie DeMaria.

Librarian of Congress checks out Malden

Mayor Gary Christenson announced the creation of the Mayor’s Task Force on Racial Harmony which is expected to develop strategies and goals for the coming year and beyond.

“The report identifies the group’s findings and includes Malden’s strengths as well as areas for improvement,” said Christenson, adding, “(The report) also offers suggestions and recommendations for promoting community cohesion and strength.”

One of the Strategy Matters of Boston report’s findings focuses on local public school efforts to increase diversity. Close to 70 percent of Malden’s public school population is of African-American, Asian-American or Hispanic descent, while the majority of teachers and staff are Caucasian.

Malden’s interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Charles Grandson IV is the first African-American to hold Malden’s top education post.

“It was an excellent series of forums and we were thrilled with the response citywide. We heard a lot of good experiences and got a lot of information presented,” said DeMaria, a former Malden School Committee member.

The 6 ‘alternative facts’ of school no-voters

COMMENTARY BY CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT DARREN CYR

I write as president of the Lynn City Council and for the councilors-at-large. We cannot in good conscience sit by and allow the negative, defamatory statements, distortions and outright lies from the “vote no on two new schools” team go unanswered.  

The negativity and outright venom spewed by the opposition shocks the values that we hold true in our hearts. We are utterly disgusted to read social media posts stating that “those children” from foreign countries who speak with accents do not deserve a quality education.  

The anger and nastiness of this campaign by the “vote no” supporters makes the recent presidential election look like a hug fest.

We as Lynners have a unique opportunity to literally change the lives of more than 100,000 of our children for the next century. It is ironic that the residents of Ward 1 who pay some of the highest property taxes in the city are forced to send their children to a crumbling building that does not meet the educational needs of the 21st century.  

Not so long ago, a former Marblehead state representative told his constituents they should support strong state school funding for Lynn. Swampscott raises captains of industry, he said, who “need very well educated employees.”

As Lynners, we find that statement and such a sentiment to be a slap in the face.  We sincerely hope that no Lynner believes that we should be looked down upon by any other community.  

We are proud to be from Lynn and want nothing but the very best for our families and children.  

We’re not anti-education, ‘no’-voters say

The irony is not lost on us collectively that Swampscott educational leaders have toured the new Thurgood Marshall Middle School and intend to model future construction in their town on this project that was finished on time and under budget. The proposed schools in large part will be modeled after Marshall and the West Lynn site will be almost identical.

“Alternative fact No. 1” put forth by the opposition claims that Lynn can simply go back to the drawing board and select a new site. This is just not true. Lynn has spent almost $1.1 million on architectural drawings, traffic studies, sewer studies and wetland/drinking supply protection studies. There is no more money to funnel into additional studies and plans.  

The plain fact of the matter is that the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) has insisted that one of the schools be located in the East Lynn District. There are no other sites in East Lynn that exist that are financially or environmentally feasible.  

The Magnolia Avenue site is not a viable option. That  land is located in a flood zone. There is an existing Massachusetts Water Resources Authority pipe that runs underneath the playground that supplies water to the citizens from Swampscott and Marblehead.  The site is not large enough to accommodate a 600-plus student facility without taking by eminent domain a portion of the neighboring elderly apartment complex. Such a taking would result in dozens of elderly persons being relocated to new homes.

If the citizens of Lynn reject the two modern state-of-the-art educational facilities, Lynn will go to the end of the line and be forced to submit a new application. Exploding enrollment projects show that by 2021, Lynn will have either double sessions or classrooms with 50 children.  In all likelihood, Lynn would not get back to the front of the line at the MSBA until 2019 or 2020.  

This ensures double sessions or students crammed into classrooms like sardines. But even this ignores the fact that there are no other viable sites in East Lynn. Therefore, it makes no sense to re-apply. Lynn will just dump good money after bad fixing up a Pickering Middle School that can never be adequately rebuilt for today’s middle school educational needs.

Current system not sustainable, Latham says

“Alternative Fact No. 2” as put forth by the opposition states Lynn will be taking multiple homes at the reservoir site. This is just not true. Lynn heard the voices of the opposition and redrew the plans so that only one home will be taken by eminent domain.  

The wonderful woman who was the subject of news coverage several months ago will not lose her home. The younger woman who would be required to relocate has and will continue to be offered every reasonable accommodation. The Lynn City Council has gone on record supporting the idea of moving her home several hundred yards down the road so that she can remain in the home she built.

Opponents ignore the fact that two homes were taken by eminent domain in order to construct Thurgood Marshall. Those relocated for Marshall were residents of Ward 3 and we know for a fact that they were extremely satisfied with the efforts Lynn undertook to relocate them to a new home of their choosing.  

“Alternative fact No. 3” put forth by the opposition states that the cost of the school project will be $5,000 per taxpayer. This figure will be spread out over 25 years. In return, Lynners will see their property values soar. Think about it: Residents with children looking to buy property will not want to buy in Lynn if our schools are an embarrassment. We urge Lynners to take a tour of the existing Pickering.

Quite simply, the physical condition of Pickering is an embarrassment.

The more families are satisfied with the conditions of our schools, the greater the demand will be for our own homes. Our greatest assets are our homes. With the construction of two new schools, our homes will go up in value considerably.  By approving these two new schools, we have just increased our own net worth by tens of thousands of dollars almost immediately.  

“Alternative fact No. 4” put forth by the opposition states that the property is part of Lynn Woods. This outright fabrication can simply be rebutted by the fact that the Friends of Lynn Woods have publicly said that the land is not part of the Lynn Woods Reservation.

“Alternative fact No. 5” put forth by the opposition states that the land is cemetery land. The deeds for the subject land clearly state that the City of Lynn owns this land with no restrictions. An attorney for the “vote no” group has conceded at a public hearing before the Lynn City Council that the deeds on file at the Registry of Deeds contain no restrictions requiring this land to be used for cemetery purposes.

Conversely, the Lynn City Council is on record as supporting the sale of 32 acres to the Pine Grove Cemetery and said deed will state the land will be used solely for cemetery purposes.  Because there exists no deed restrictions or conditions on file at the Registry of Deeds, the Lynn City Council would be free to sell this land to a developer to construct hundreds of new homes.

The Lynn City Council did not seek such a solution. Rather, it unanimously voted to commence the process to transfer this land to the Pine Grove Cemetery Commission at no cost.

“Alternative fact No. 6” put forth by the opposition states that the selection of these sites was done behind closed doors with no public input. All meetings of the Pickering Site Committee have been open to the public.  Three public forums were held where our community could speak up on the proposed sites.

Members of the Lynn City Council have personally met and spoke with the leader of the opposition on almost a dozen occasions. Our city council colleagues have attempted to address or mitigate each and every one of their stated concerns.  

Now is the time for us as a community to step up.  The negativity and anger is unacceptable. We are supporting the two new schools because our only interest is the children of Lynn.  

Our fellow Lynners: Let’s vote yes on two new schools so that our children will have the necessary tools to be captains of industry for generations to come.  


Editor’s note: City Council President Darren P. Cyr wrote this editorial and signed it with fellow councilors Buzzy Barton, Council Vice President, and Councilors-at-large Daniel F. Cahill, Brian P. LaPierre and Hong L. Net.

 

Working to overcome addiction in Malden

COURTESY PHOTO
Malden Mayor Gary Christenson, left and Police Chief Kevin Molis take a look at the methods of hiding at-risk substances or objects during a recent presentation.

By STEVE FREKER

MALDEN — It started out as a discussion with goals simple and yet very complex.

A small, motivated group of Malden residents wanted to help educate as many fellow residents as possible about substance abuse and help local families and individuals.

That’s how Malden Overcoming Addiction (MOA) was formed and MOA President Paul Hammersley was in that small group of locals who gathered some 18 months ago.

“It was three or four people in a room. We had big ideas and big plans,” Hammersley said Sunday. “We just could not project how far we could go at the time.”

Hammersley said “hundreds” of residents have become involved since MOA’s formation and he said the organization formalized its status as a 501(c) corporation last week.  Hammersley said just in the past week he and other MOA board members helped four local opioid addicts get beds in rehabilitation facilities.

“We’re out there more and more now, providing service and assistance to anyone whose lives are affected by addiction,” he said.

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Opioid abuse and particularly deaths from opioid overdoses have skyrocketed locally, regionally and nationally in the past several years. A state Department of Health (DPH) report released last Friday documented the stark numbers: Nearly 2,000 died from opioid overdoses in Massachusetts in 2016, an increase of about 13 percent from 2015.

MOA holds regular meetings and hosts an increasing number of events including a four-session presentation of  “In Plain Sight” at the regional Salvation Army headquarters in Malden.

The group also collaborated with the Malden Police, Rx4Prevention, South Bay Mental Health, Tewksbury Police, Reading Coalition against Substance Abuse and Hallmark Health to host the parents-only presentation featuring a mock teenage bedroom identifying places where teens are likely to hide drugs, alcohol and other substances.

Hammersley said “In Plain Sight” is intended to spur conversations between teenagers and their parents about behavior leading to opioid and substance abuse disorders.

“Parents were encouraged to have honest and candid discussion of the topics of underage drinking and substance abuse with their children,” he added.

Hammersley said MOA enjoys full city support through Mayor Gary Christenson and the Malden Police Department.

“We are making a difference in people’s lives, that was our intention from the start,” Hammersley said.

For more information on Malden Overcoming Addiction, visit maldenovercoming.com or contact MOA at 781-838-2203.

CFO accuses school committee of ‘fuzzy math’

By THOMAS GRILLO and BRIDGET TURCOTTE 

LYNN  — One day after the School Committee overwhelmingly rejected a move to transfer management of the school’s maintenance staff from Inspectional Services to the school department because of the costs, the city’s chief financial officer blasted the panel’s fuzzy math.

“There was a lot of bad information spewed by the School Committee Thursday night,” said Peter Caron. “If the schools take over custodial operations as they exist today, the only cost to them is $1 million in health insurance. All the other talk about it costing another million here and another million there is baloney.”

The controversy began last month when in an attempt to capture $1 million in additional school spending and avoid a state penalty, Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy engineered a plan to transfer supervision of school custodians from City Hall to the school department. Earlier this week, the city council voted unanimously for the change.

But in a 6-1 vote Thursday, the School Committee rejected the home rule petition that would make the transfer a reality. The panel asked the city’s Beacon Hill delegation to deep six the proposal when it reaches the State House. Only the mayor, chairman of the school committee, voted for the change.

“There are far too too many questions for us to support this change,” said Patricia Capano, a School Committee member. “We still don’t know what it will cost us, we want answers. Can we afford it without depleting our budget? It would be shortsighted.”

Showdown over Lynn school custodians

State Rep. Daniel Cahill (D-Lynn), who also serves as a City Councilor at-Large, supported the measure at the council meeting.

“I hopes the issues get resolved in a way that benefits everyone in the city,” he said.

State Rep. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) said he will wait to see the home rule petition arrives on Beacon Hill before he makes a decision on how to vote.

Sen. Thomas M. McGee (D-Lynn), through a spokeswoman, did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Michael Donovan, ISD director, said half of his $14 million budget pays the salaries for 57 custodians, a dozen maintenance workers as well as for supplies and maintenance.

Caron insists that portion of ISD’s budget, or $7 million, would go to the schools, and it will not cost the School Committee a dime more to do the same job.

Still, Capano said she has no idea what it costs for the afternoon shift of custodians that are privatized. She wanted to know how much it would be for the schools to hire their own custodial staff.

“We want to make an intelligent comparison if it would benefit the citizens of Lynn to have 40 new employees, but can we afford it?” she said.

Donovan said the cost of the private company for the p.m. shift is $1.5 million. But it would increase to $2.8 million in salary and benefits if the schools hire their own workers.

But Caron insists such an added expenditure is unnecessary.

“If they choose to fire the private company and hire new custodians, that’s on them,” he said. “But if they continue to use the private afternoon service, I would take the cash out of ISD’s budget and put it into the school budget. The net result is zero extra costs for the schools.”

Technically, the School Committee has no say in the transfer. They can only make a recommendation.

The mayor has until Thursday to decide whether to sign the home rule petition request and send it along to the State House.

Kennedy could not immediately be reached for comment.

Despite the custodian transfer, the city is still dealing with other school spending issues. Caron reported a clerical error that resulted in a significant underfunding to the schools of about $1.6 million.  He anticipates a similar shortfall next year.

The health insurance portion of the net school formula was miscalculated using a head-count method, he said which only includes individual health insurance plans, not the added costs of covering families.

“I’ve recommended to the mayor that the city seriously consider moving away from a self-insured plan to a premium-based plan,” he said. “We would know what the cost would be for each employee every year. We would know exactly how much money we would expect for insurance costs for the coming year.”

Of the $8.9 million in debt the city is committed to repaying in a four year period, Caron said. About $900,000 has been repaid, leaving two years to repay $8 million, he added.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.comBridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com.

Lynn students aid My Brother’s Table

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Aborn Elementary School students Meredith Kennedy, Rachel Dana, Eamonn McHale, Georgia Allarie, and Mahlyna Williams package items for My Brother’s Table.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — Students at Aborn Elementary School collected 100 items per grade to donate to My Brother’s Table in honor of the 100th day of the school year.

Each grade level at the K to 5 school collected a different essential item. Kindergarten students collected bars of soap; first-graders collected shampoo and conditioner; second-graders collected toothpaste; third-graders gathered deodorant; fourth-graders collected granola bars; and fifth-graders collected reading glasses. At least 100 of each were collected.

Elected members of the school’s student council went around to classrooms with posters to collect the items. Notices were also sent home to families. The items were purchased and given by families of the school’s students and will be donated to My Brother’s Table, a Lynn-based organization which provides meals and other services to those in need, today.

“The Aborn families are extremely generous,” said Donna Amico, a first grade teacher and student council coordinator. “They’re always willing to help others.”

Georgia Allaire, 10, a fourth-grader, said she got involved because she likes helping people and thinks it is fun to be on the student council.

Eamonn McHale, 11, a fifth-grader on the student council, said he thinks it’s important to donate the items because people can’t live without the essentials.

“I wanted to get involved because I like seeing happy faces on people that don’t have lots of stuff like we do,” McHale said.

Rachel Dana, 10, another fifth-grader on the student council, agreed.

“I experienced it last year and I loved being a part of it because I like helping others,” Dana said. “I want people to have things so they can be able to survive.”

Amico said Tuesday was officially the 100th day of school, but the donation continued to this week because of the snow. She said Aborn has been doing the collection drive for My Brother’s Table for 20 years, and it is always done on the 100th day of the school year.

“It gives the children a chance to realize that there are less fortunate people and helping others is a good thing,” Amico said.

North Shore anglers ask ‘why knot?’


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.